Jump to content

Halfsquad Poll

Recommended Posts

Based on a post I've made in the ROW V thread I clearly am in the "I object" category. This is not to say that my opponent or myself shouldn't ever split squads but the wholesale splitting of squads, especially when the infantry force is sizeable, is clearly against the designers intent. No problem doing it on a localised scale but on a wholesale basis.....not in the spirit of the game IMO.


Jim R.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Designers are not the Gods.

Lloth, Tempus, Mars or Ares, whatever.

The main intention of the designers was "the tanks battle game" (look at the details of armor or penetrating ability in so many ranges) supported by some far inperfect infantry, not bad guns and medium support.

CM is a game about infantry and guns, so if you do not buy any tanks during battle it is also "gamey" 'cause designer did not intend it??

CM is so close to "ideal game" that nobody (even designers :) can claim what is fair or not. Especcially so called "theorists" who made more tests than human vs human plays.

In short: I am pro all new, interesting ideas. However, global splitting doesn't work, so my opinion this time is not so important :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd rather say squad splitting is gamey.

Apart from aforementioned reasons:

It takes the same amount of ammo to fire a salvo against a half squad as against a full one, and the chance to actually hit someone is lower in CM, because there aren't as much people in the same spot than if it were a full squad. In reality, 10 soldiers firing on 5 soldiers would probably score as many hits (Every half-squad man being targeted by 2 attackers) as if they'd fire on 10 soldiers. Additionally, 2x5 soldiers throw grenades twice as fast as 1x10 soldiers... Wholesale squad splitting is useful, but, as i think, "fools" the game engine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That is not the point. Splitting can give the attacker an unfair advantage in some cases.

Say you split your squad and attack from two different angles with them against one defending squad.

If everything else is equal the defender will lose (99% of the time), because while it can supress one halfsquad with ease, it will be supressed by that other half.

You can say well that's what flanking is all about.

But when you split the defending squad (not even necessary to move them) and target both attacking halfsquads with your defending halfsquads, the defender has a fighting chance.

So a full squad that was unable to defend against two attacking halfsquads suddenly can.

To give an extreme (and not very representative example): you can annihilate a smg squad completely using two rifle halfsquads at 20m range.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by NG cavscout:

Modern doctrine clearly states that infantry manuever should be accomplished by the "manuever" element, and supported by the "support" element. Modern U.S. squads are often broken into an assault or manuever element, and a "support by fire" element. Was this tactic not used in WWII?

Yes it was. With another terminology but with same end effect. The Germans (and probably everyone else I imagine) started dividing squads in WWI. The practice fell in popularity between the wars (left the German manuals in 1927 to be precise) but appeared again full scale after the 1940 campaigns. The squads divided naturally into a machinegun halfsquad (Trupp) and a rifle halfsquad. Or two of the former in some cases.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would not object.

I think it's a good decoy tactic to give the appearance of greater force. Used correctly you could force your opponent to believe he needs a greater force to overtake a front, or that you are striking from a different direction than you really are.

On the downside, if you overuse it your opponent will not be fooled and you will get destroyed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

not directly related to this half-squad issue but this article was at warfare hq (no date so i apologize if it is has been out for a while):

Legitimate Tactics or Underhanded Sleaze: Should Players be Limited to Historical Tactics in Wargames?

Submitted by Don Maddox

By Don Maddox

"You can’t do that," Bill exclaims. "That’s the third unarmed truck you’ve advanced this turn alone!" His opponent, Ralph, calmly ignores him and continues to move his trucks one by one. It’s late in the game and Ralph is playing to win. Bill’s marauding hordes of Red Army soldiers have seized most of the map, but the critical victory location is still just beyond his reach on the other side of the river. Knowing that time is running out, Ralph drives every unarmed truck and a few jeeps directly into the path of the advancing Soviet armor. The vehicles will almost certainly be destroyed, but he hopes they will also act as a speed bump and buy just enough time for him to win…

Sound familiar? Almost every wargamer has come across a situation in which an opponent used a "gamey" tactic in order to pull out a win at one time or another. These tactics invariably spark a heated moment of disagreement between players. And no one likes to lose to what they consider to be an underhanded style of play or tactics that totally go against the spirit of the game. But just where are wargamers supposed to draw the line between underhanded and creative? Is an unorthodox strategy necessarily an illegitimate one? This debate has been raging ever since people started playing complex wargames. Ask five different wargamers how they feel about this and you’ll likely get five different answers in return.

A wargame by definition is a game about war. Wargames aspire to simulate various armed conflicts by reproducing some of the elements that were present during the actual battle. But there are many different types of wargames on the market and the level of detail and realism varies greatly from one title to another. Some, like Avalon Hill’s classic Panzerblitz, are fast playing and relatively simple in both design and scope. These types of games tend to abstract much of the gameplay and eliminate altogether those elements which are not considered crucial to the game’s basic design. Other wargames, such as Point of Attack II from HPS, seek to reproduce virtually every possible element that could play a factor in a given battle. These games tend to be heavy on micromanagement and eschew a more streamlined approach.

Not only are there fundamental differences in the way various developers approach wargame design, but there are also deep differences in what the players themselves expect from the experience. Some players view wargaming with a lighter perspective and are frequently heard reminding others, "it’s only a game." These players very often are not as interested in the minutia of historical detail and place an emphasis on playability and fun over all other game elements. In general, their view is that if something is possible within the confines of a PC-based wargame or legal within the rules of a boardgame, then it is an acceptable tactic in battle. All wargames use abstractions to one degree or another and besides, if the designer didn’t intend for a tactic to be possible they would have taken steps to nullify it, right? This type of gamer does not want to be bound by historical precedent or doctrine.

On the other hand we have the gamer who sees wargames as a true simulation of war. Typically, these gamers have a deep interest in the history surrounding their chosen wargame and tend to be drawn to wargames with more detail. These gamers rebel at the thought of ahistorical tactics and will instantly condemn such tactics as "sleaze." Gamey tactics deeply offend these types of players and they will frequently refuse to play against players who continue to use them. In their view, permitting the use of such tactics undermines the whole reason for playing wargames in the first place.

But exactly what do most wargamers consider sleaze? Of course, not every player can be an expert on the historical doctrine behind the way armies operate and fight. If only players who demonstrate a clear understanding of historical doctrine are allowed to determine what is and isn’t legal, it’s a safe bet that many newer players will be turned off from the hobby altogether. After all, how many players really understand how a WWII tank destroyer battalion operated or the finer details of Napoleonic cavalry operations? On the other hand, wargamers aren’t stupid and even beginning players can apply a bit of common sense and see that some tactics are clearly beyond the scope of what any live soldiers would ever attempt. Driving unarmed trucks or a field kitchen at a King Tiger in order to block its advance is surely a gamey tactic—but is it a legitimate one?

An infamous tactic from The Operational Art of War is to split off tiny sub-units from larger units and place them in the path of enemy formations. Although such units will almost certainly be quickly destroyed, they can greatly delay enemy units from moving and have an effect far out of proportion to their size. Is it legitimate to block the advance of an enemy division with a company, or is this simply a sleazy attempt to take advantage of the way the game’s inner mechanics operate? And what about the infamous VBM freeze from Advanced Squad Leader? This tactic allows players to park a vehicle right next to an enemy unit in order to mask the movement of other nearby friendly units. This tactic works as the ASL rules prohibit the friendly unit from firing at any other target so long as the enemy unit remains in the same hex. Again, was this an intentional design decision, or simply another example of players taking advantage of the game mechanics?

Without trying too hard you can find gamey tactics and examples of "sleaze" in every wargame ever created. Some players adopt house rules to impose limits on what can and can’t be done, while others are simply choosy about who they play. Still others feel that such house rules amount to altering the game itself and maintain that the game should be played in its "pure" form. But how do the game designers themselves feel about this issue? Legitimate tactics or sleaze? We put the question to a number of prominent game developers and designers from around the wargame community to get their point of view. Here are what the experts had to say.

I guess the short answer is yes they should be allowed to do anything allowed by the game rules. With that being said I also feel that agreed upon house rules should also be allowed for when loopholes are found. My feeling is that gamers always have different views and the true designer’s ideas may not be fully understood. I wouldn’t say it’s really "unsportsmanlike" as much as it is "gamey" which is more misplaying the game within the rules. I feel that gamey rules should be corrected by the designer. —David Heath, President Matrix Games.

What an interesting debate. As a game designer, it is very difficult to anticipate every move a gamer will make. But, that is our job – an almost impossible task. It is my premise that a game that allows a player to do such things, is somewhat flawed. This is something that a designer should anticipate. Now having said that, if these types of situations do occur in a game (as they almost always will) then a gamer that takes advantage of them, is cheating – going against the designer’s intent. However, as in the instance of driving a truck into armor to slow the advance, you should look at what that army’s philosophy is. It wouldn’t be a stretch to think the Japanese of WWII would do such a thing, or some of the countries in the Middle East of today. However, to have US units use this tactic would be not make sense, would it? This I would consider to be cheating.—Tim Brooks, President Shrapnel Games.

My general view is that a customer’s dollars entitle him to play [TacOps4] any way that he likes when in a purely solitaire situation. Things only get complicated when other humans are involved, such as a competitive ladder, a two player game, or a group game. In those cases the participants should adhere to guidelines established in advance by the majority of that group. I would suggest that carrying "historical fashion" to an extreme level is bad for the hobby. Only the elite historical gamers are likely to know enough about a given period to play perfectly historically and that discourages everyone else from joining in.—Major I.L. Holdridge, USMC (ret), TacOps Developer.

I think most wargamers are more interested in the historical representation of a game rather than the raw win/lose attributes. It is almost impossible to code against every possible infraction of what could be considered bad play. One way I talk about this is about a guy who takes a pencil, shoves it up his nose, and then says what a stupid pencil you have designed. Yes, you could design a pencil that this couldn’t be done with, but what’s the point? There will always be some who take advantage of every loophole in the game rules to get the maximum advantage, but these players will eventually have trouble finding anyone who wants to play with them. The historical representation is what most wargamers are after and they will try to achieve that even if it means they are not playing as competitively as possible.—John Tiller, Developer of Panzer Campaigns and Squad Battles.

Since no one can enforce morality in life, much less a game, it is foolish to expect it of game players. Obviously, one person’s idea of what is "right" is going to vary from others when addressing the entire spectrum of game players. The answer to this dilemma is to develop a game thoroughly to avoid mechanics that lend themselves to such abuse and change the design accordingly. Sadly, few games receive this kind of thorough development by a skilled developer.—Don Greenwood, President Boardgame Players Association.

I’m firmly entrenched in the camp of people using their units in a historical fashion in a wargame, be it computer or board. I don’t much care for playing people that try every bogus/sleaze tactic they know just to win. An example in ASL is parking vehicles in Bypass movement "in" a woods hex which then prevents enemy infantry actually in the woods from moving away. Well, that’s my opinion, and (as the song says) I’m sticking to it. —Charlie Kibler, BreakAway Games, Multi-Man Publishing.

Well it’s a great question Don…here is my very strong point of view on it. Bottom Line: I strongly dislike when people do things in games just "cause you can" versus whether it is in keeping with the spirit of the game. In real life the people who do things because they can – vs. doing what’s proper – are the reason laws are so complex and lawyers are rich. I definitely consider it unsportsmanlike conduct in games and in life to justify doing something just because there is no rule (if it’s a game) or no law (if it’s real life). Those people are free to make their decisions, but I won’t play with ‘em or work with ‘em. Life’s too short! I also have a suspicion that those who do whatever they can are more interested in winning versus ENJOYING an experience. I like to win too…but I like the whole experience that playing the games offer. Taking shortcuts destroys the experience.—Eric Weider, Publisher of Armchair General Magazine.

I’m sure that, if pushed, I could argue both sides of the coin on this one . . . although I’m not sure I would play more than once with someone who felt that he so desperately had to "win" at a boardgame that it meant pushing the envelope of the rules and running way outside the borders of Reality. Others, to be sure, feel that Winning is Everything. It isn’t, but I doubt I can convince them otherwise.—Richard Berg, GMT Games.

That’s an easy question… NO! No matter how hard you try to design/program an air-tight game, these loopholes often occur. They are not part of the design. The goal in creating a good wargame is to create a plausible simulation of war. When designing a game there is always conflict between adding detail (realism) and creating abstraction (playability). It only makes sense that anomalies are less likely to occur in simpler games. Therefore, everyone (players and designers both) should expect that anomalies will exist in any wargame of substance. However, just because there is a weakness in the design doesn’t mean that players should take advantage of it. Why play a "realistic" simulation if your approach to winning is to conduct unrealistic actions? When I play a game, I don’t expect it to be perfect. Therefore I expect all players, including myself, to play in a reasonable fashion. If the planned action violates an acceptable expectation of realistic behavior, then don’t take that action. I love to win and hate to lose, but most importantly I want to be mentally challenged and have fun. I really believe the correct way to approach playing any wargame is to focus on "how you played the game" rather than whether you win or lose. Even the best military commanders lose and have lost major battles. I would rather lose to a superior opponent who made better decisions and could better visualize the battle than me, even if I played my personal best, than win any victory where I used the anomalies of the game to beat my opponent. The only time I guess I could accept using the recognized game weakness against an opponent would be if all participants knew and agreed of its potential use before they started the game. However, having said that I would opt out if someone told me that they intended to do so.—Jim Lunsford, LTC U.S. Army (ret), Decisive Action Developer.

I prefer game setup to be historically accurate, with the players choosing their own strategy. The strategy can be based on history, or their own creative ideas. The intent of the game is to model history such that choosing the historical strategy and moves will result in the historical results, or as close as possible. Choosing an alternate strategy should give results that would have happened if that strategy had been historically chosen. Player creativity should be spent on selecting military strategy, not finding ways to alter the model to cheat the system. Besting your opponent at military strategy is a lot more satisfying than besting your opponent at finding loopholes in game software.—Ron Dockal, Schwerpunkt Games, Developer of Russo-German War and Anglo-German War.

Yeah, I know this question well since I came up against it I don’t know how many times with Point of Attack 2. In the end I focused on the idea players themselves would know when they “won”, and would be more interested in trying out real tactics than doing “unrealistic” things. However, I’m all about experimentation. Just because no one has ever done something against doctrine or wisdom, doesn’t mean that someone couldn’t, or wouldn’t do it. Heck, sometimes it’s the unexpected things that pay the big dividends. Personally, I feel that if the game system is based on sound principles, and if the actions a player takes could actually be made in real life, no matter how insane they seem, and if those actions result in realistic results within the game system, then I think they are perfectly acceptable. The truck example may or may not fall into that category. In reality the trucks are going to be wiped out before they ever get near the tanks, and the delay and distraction to the tanks would likely be minimal. However, if the trucks are on a narrow road or bridge and block it, or if start burning and create a smoke screen.. well.. then those are things with real effects on the tanks and other units.. and they might very well be valid tactics in the real life situations. What I don’t agree with are actions that are intended to exploit limitations in the system, or cause an obviously unnatural result. Blocking an entry hex definitely falls into this category unless there is a good reason why blocking it really would cause the reinforcements not to arrive beyond just because the game map ended there. Once a game gets to that level of manipulation, it is not being recreating in a realistic way – which is why I play these games in the first place. But, that’s just my opinion. I know that lots of people are perfectly happy to play with varying amounts of “rules lawyering”, so I think the key is to find opponents that are close to your wavelength. In a situation where that really isn’t possible, a tournament, for example, I think you’ve got to go with the game system as the final arbiter and if somebody finds a way to exploit it, well, then that’s the way it has to be. Otherwise you’d have to have a third party act as a judge.. and that tends to lead to all sorts of complications and confusion about what is acceptable or not (and in my experience fourth and fifth parties often soon become involved.—Scott Hamilton, President HPS.

The short answer is that players should agree on what kind of game play they want before they start, and seek out players with similar intrests. But that is also the easy answer. The benefit of the wargame community over the RTS or FPS community is that it is populated almost exclusively by grown-ups. The vast majority are enthusiasts about their particular period of interest, and a large subset are fanatics (THE GROGNARDS). They willingly forego the flashy graphics and "bells and whistles" of mass-market RTSs for ultra-realistic simulation of warfare. It has been my experience in multi-player wargames that a good conversation about the goals for the game, and a discussion of what is "out of bounds," can increase the enjoyment for all of the players involved. For instance, I was playing BCT Commander against a player who will remain nameless (not to protect his innocence, but because he, literally, BEAT ME AT MY OWN GAME). It was a replication of a fight from Desert Storm and I was playing the Iraqis. Now, BCT Commander (and its successor, Armored Task Force), does not prevent a player from moving his forces outside his boundaries. At one point, my opponent moved his forces outside of his unit boundaries to bypass my obstacle belt. I protested, and we stopped and had a conversation about the move. We decided, because I did not have the obstacles to replicate my adjacent unit’s obstacles (and because he took pity on me) that the move would not be allowed. So we put our forces in hold fire, he pulled back to within his boundaries, and, when he was done, he went back to kicking my butt. There is a place for "playing the game," that is, sitting on respawn or reinforcement points, flooding the enemy with unimportant units to tie him up, and the like. That’s the realm of the RTS, and it can be loads of fun in its own right. But if you’re playing a serious simulation of historical events, you and your opponent should make a serious effort to replicate historical conditions. In a really good, open, freeform wargame, the designer can’t possibly think of every single situation that two or more human beings might get into. The players have to fill in the gaps. And, what if your opponent can’t be a grown-up? That’s a WHOLE other conversation.—Pat Proctor, President Prosim.

I think unsportsmanlike conduct applies to both of your examples, though in those cases it reflects as well on the designer as the perpetrator. The late Sam Ervin, of Watergate fame, used to say that the measure of a law isn’t what a good judge will do with it, so much as what a bad judge will. A designer has to look out for the tricks and gamesmanship of the "bad judges" in the community, and formulate his rules accordingly. I have one specific peeve too, one that has to do with conduct more than gamey strategies. It’s a player who is a stickler for the "You took your hand off the counter, so you can’t change your mind" convention. It’s not right to allow a player to go back five moves and redo all of them, but if he moves a stack and says "Whoops," let him rethink. Secondarily, I can’t stand slow movers. Deliberation is good; making your opponents and allies nuts through a glacial pace is not.—Jim Werbaneth, Line of Departure.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the developers, designers and publishers who took the time to contribute to this article. You can join an ongoing debate on this article right here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Unfortunately, your content contains terms that we do not allow. Please edit your content to remove the highlighted words below.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...