Musings on Scale of Combat

jedion357's picture
March 6, 2011 - 7:24am
I think if we formed a panel to discuss the 1st edition of ground hawks that we'd almost all say we want a system that handles skirmish level to mass battles.

However, as I consider all of the various rule sets I'm familiar with then it strikes me that a good rule set focuses on one level of gaming; Star Grunt, Brother Against Brother, Necromunda, and etc are skirmish level gaming. Dirtside, Blitzkrieg Commander, Cold War Commander, Flames of War, WAB, DBM, DBR and etc are massed battle games

Some companies develope systems that use the same resolution mechanic and turn mechanic for all their games whether skirmish, mass battle or even quasi-RPG to facilitate players sliding from one scale to another:
GASLIGHT, 2 Hour War Games comes to mind particularly as well as Stargrunt/Dirtside (though GZG has not produced a quazi RPG level of action game)

So It seems to me that the turn sequence and the resolution system needs to be essentially AD or KH ish and that Ground Hawks should have 2 levels of action: squad/platoon and mass battle. Each level of gaming will have different wrinkles,

Example: skirmish level will have more robust morale rules but mass battle level of gaming morale is less important on that scale- most mass battle level of games dont fuss with morale till a significant number of units are killed then a die roll is made to see if the division stands or runs. Many games simply remove the remaining figures when a division runs. others will have them move at top speed toward the owning player's side and they are only removed when they move off the board- giving the owning player a chance to rally them.

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
March 6, 2011 - 7:38am
3 scales of gaming

1. Player controls 1 or 2 individuals or figures- typically called RPG

2. Player controls a squad or groups of squads (platoon) there is usually but not always a 1 to 1 relationship between bfigures and the number of "individuals they represent, typically called Skirmish gaming

3. Player controls Battalion, Division, or whole army, many times there is a 1:10, 1:100, 1:1000 figure to "individual" ratio and this is typically called mass battle.

Note the skirmish encounters at the end of SF-2 (Battle of Volkos) were run on RPG rules and probably at the maximum playable level (for the number of individuals involved and the probable number of players) of that level of gaming. The scenarios for fighting the battle of volkos could be revisited with an eye to upscaling them to true skirmish gaming.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
March 6, 2011 - 8:10am
Decisions must be made about how you will play the game. abstract gaming works for RPG but I dont it will be successful for Skirmish or Mass Battle.

Figures or counters? Since SF has a history with counters this is certainly a very viable though my expeince with Boston Trained Bands wargaming club tells me that miniatures is much more fun and asthetically pleasing. So counters or miniatures? Each requires different game mechanics for movement, LOS, targeting

To transition from RPG to Skirmish gaming we go from 1:1 figure to man ratio to a to squads
a squad size will need to be set but 5-10 is typical in games I've seen though 10 was for American Civil War gaming and was needed because of the morale system involved. Star Grunt uses 5-6 man squads IIRC. and this is probably a good size for Skirmish Dawn- seeing as how we have 6 levels of skill, robots, computers and etc throughout the system perhaps we should just go with 6 man squads with an eye to linking it AD in some manner.

How to represent a squad- 1 counter or 1 miniature works but I'd greatly prefer to use 6 miniatures for a squad of 6

Also in Skirmish Dawn 1 vehicle will represent 1 vehicle, a cybo dragon will equal 1 cybo dragon but the rule here is big items are moved and used as individuals for instance a vehicle could have a crew of two and carry 1-2 squads. with squads embarked it moves individually until it debarks the squads then they are placed on the table. if you are using counters the crew will not survive the destruction of the vehicle and are removed from play but in a game like Star Grunt they can debark after their vehicle is disabled and move and act for the player but this requires miniatures to represent them. Miniatures scales for skirmish: 28mm is very popular, but equally 20mm and 15mm are represented in this level of gaming.

mass battle gaming can use counters or what is referred to as bases or elements that will equal a counter. a base or element will have 4-6 infantry figures and represent the basic element of the army: Platoons, regiments, etc or it will have 1 vehicle and this will represent typically a squad or squadron of vehicles that make up the most basic tactical element used in a mass battle situation.
Typical miniature scales: 15mm, 10mm, and 6mm. 6mm is typically used for ancient armies that were huge and lets you represent the shear size of a ancient roman, celt or carthagian armie. 15mm may be the best scale for figure availability if you are not using counters. Though I expect that for this level of gaming that play testing and 90% of its use by the community will be with counters.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
March 6, 2011 - 3:30pm
I guess the difference between running Skirmish Dawn in miniatures or in die cut counters is that dounters would be run on a grid map like Port Loren or on a Hex map

Miniatures would be done on a 4x8 table with tape measures and a squad would need to be cohesive to function properly. Ie all members must be within 2 inches of another member of the squad or in a circle of x # of inches in diameter.

The more I think about it, counters might be the only real way to go with this with a view to who the audience is: most people will have an old tattered box set with the counters or if they dont and are not big into miniatures they can easily print and cut some counters.

That said this is going to play like a really old school counter based war game.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
March 6, 2011 - 11:07pm
I would say use miniatures, just have a scale if people want to use counters.
We could run a poll on the home page to see how many use mini's. For the most part the broader audience would use mini's.

elpotof's picture
March 10, 2011 - 1:23pm
I agree with Woot on this, mini's look better and the added bonus is that it is much better to visualise the game world and design buidlings, terrain, etc. Scale-wise, you're looking at 25/28mm for skirmish, 15mm for good sized skirmish games, and 6mm for army sized battles.

I would say that 15mm gets the best of both worlds; not too small to lose the details of unique characters, etc and cheap enough to get a good number of figures for every contingency.

Glad to see that someone is looking at a wargame for star frontiers again.

thespiritcoyote's picture
April 1, 2011 - 3:56am
-chiming in from the side-

I vote for both, there would be times when either would be more applicable over the other.

I disagree about the requirment for distance based squad cohesion rules, they are typically the first rule changed or droped, in groups I am familer with, and it is not made necessary in all published miniatures games.
A simple 1inch (or prefered measurment) with the mini's represents 1 hex or square on a battle map, should be fine for converting between the two.

If the scale is focused on mass battles then chits work better, and scale between vehicles, squads, and single soldier units are not worth distinguishing.
If it is small squad skirmish, then the minis will likely be PCs, or important NPCs (Heroic like in Starwars Miniatures Battles) and exemt from 'squad cohesion' as independent operatives on the field.

I would like to see this for being useable with set-ups like in the end of the Volturnus and Sundown modules, where a larger scale than what was represented there could have been handled with mass combat rules, and chits. Allowing the PCs as heros to manuver on the field of battle and/or use leadership and tactics skills to command other units from out in the open or hidden in bunkered positions, and assist in specifc areas of the fight.

just my 2centicred
-fades away-
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