Monday, September 26, 2011



On several occasions, now, I have played in a scenario where the victory conditions depend on "real" time as opposed to "game" time. I understand the reasoning for such a limit. Usually it is because we only have a certain amount of time to play and we do not have the luxury of a room where we can leave the game set up until the next "game day". Yet the victory condition is unrealistic and artificial at best.

EXAMPLE: The sides start as shown on the table. Game start is nominally 7PM but we must be done by 9:30PM, so the Victory Points allocated at 9:30 determine the winner. Now the attacker's nearest unit is 4 ft from the enemy force that he must overcome to get the VPs. He must suppress enemy guns, cross rough terrain and a ford to to the objective, then fight a volley and melee battle when he gets there. It may take 2 or 3 attempts. If his max move is 12"/turn it takes 4 turns to get in position to attack the objective IF none of the obstacles that he has to overcome existed!  Then all it takes is an opponent constantly asking questions of the umpire or the umpire constantly looking up rules to slow the process even further so the objective of the best possible plan of attack is un obtainable!

Before setting up any "timed" game the author of the scenario must take into account the starting positions of the opposing units - at the best rate of speed, can a unit even reach its objective, never mind having to fight its way there? It must take into account the reduction in time available to meet the objective caused by looking up rules, etc which is inevitable in any game. 

I feel that a good rule of thumb to start with is to measure the distance from the attacking units' starting position to the objective and using the nominal movement rate (i.e do not include using roads, or crossing streams or other movement multipliers) divide the one by the other to determine the number of turns just to march to the objective. Then double that number. The result is the number of GAME turns within which the attacker can win (or loose). So if a unit has to march 4 feet to the objective and the march rate is 12"/turn, the unit would need 8 GAME turns to meet its victory conditions at a minimum.

Other drains on game time available to play out a scenario are the need for setting up the table or developing your plan for winning the game. It should be obvious that the game should be set up and the troops organized by the scenario desiger (umpire) before the allotted time for game start. The introduction to the scenario to the players, which includes each side developing its plan for it, can take up 25% of the time allotted to play the game, resulting in scenario designer using the artificial real time clock to determine win/lose.

In this day of computers and the internet, why can't the oranization of forces, the map and scenario sent on to the players (modified as per what side they are playing on) a few days before the game and the side commander duly bound to have written orders for each of his players to be handed out at game start, or even better, by internet before the day of the game. Failing that, use a Xerox machine and mail the info out, If time is a factor plan each game two weeks ahead which gives two weeks to get the info into the players hands. I have posted an EXAMPLE of an operational order for a subordinate below. It was used in a recent WWII Cross Fire game. Note that some game playing hints (see Red) are included for a gamer that has not had as much experience in the rules as the others.

The Battle of Weisse Swamp

A CrossFire Game
Operational Order

The enemy is trying to take and occupy the road exit to the South of the swamp. We must prevent him from coming within 1 ft. of the exit.

Expect between 1 reinforced Company (5 platoons) to two companies with armor support. His main effort is expected to be on our left as he has more covered approaches in that area. Though he may try an armor attack from our right.

2/9 Platoon
            1 PC (+1)
            2 Rifle Sqds
            1 Panzerfaust Sqd (also acts as rifle sqd)
            1 HMG
3/9 Platoon
            1 PC (+1)
            2 Rifle Sqds
            1 Panzerfaust Sqd (also acts as rifle sqd)
            1 HMG
In addition a FO reporting directly to the Company Commander with 2/9
 1/9 is on your left rear
A Co. of  Mk IV tanks are in immediate support to the rear.

Occupy the positions as shown on the map. You will dig in and remain hidden until detected by the enemy or forced to fire.

Hold your position (the center and right) as long as possible, causing casualties to the enemy as much as possible. If heavily pressed fall back to positions in the town, but maintain your zones of fire. If falling back, wood “A” must be held. Be prepared to reinforce the left by pulling straight back into the town on my order.

Bring all possible fire to bear on enemy when he shows himself except to keep one sqd from going “no fire”.

NOTE:             You kill the enemy by firing on him – do so!

If you pull straight back out of a defensive position you cannot be fired upon until you enter another terrain feature!

You do not have to place the units in the positions they are indicated on the map. When you have to reveal them put them in the MOST ADVANTAGOUS position for the situation at the time of placement.

I would be very interested in your comments.

1 comment:

  1. Dick,
    I agree with your comments on the design. However, I still think it optimistic to expect all parties to come prepared to play having read the scenario before. Especially if any are still working. Now, I agree that it is an ideal worth striving for.