From: Terrace, BC, Canada
Please remind me what bonus the radio icon'ed unit convey's to its fellows and under what conditions. Couldn't find in my old printed manual and couldn't find again in searching forums (did find thread but no answer)
From Glenn Saunders
Command and Control rules
With the recent changes to the optional Command and Controls rule, in WEST FRONT keeping platoons of the same company together takes on a whole new importance. The Company Command Post (CP) is deemed to travel with the 1st Platoon of each company. The CP has a Command Range, and units outside this range will suffer a –1 penalty when they are resolving a die roll to recover from Disruption or attempting to recover a lost morale point. The penalty does not affect other morale checks. The net effect of this rule is that you can move a unit beyond the CP Range, but should it become engaged in a fight, it will not be as effective at recovering from the effects of enemy fire.
I believe this optional rule as it stands, while an abstraction, works quite well in practice. The penalty for moving outside the CP radius is really not very great. It may however be the difference between an average player and someone who becomes a virtual General to be reckoned with.
However, this optional rule has caused some people to begin to consider the possibility of adding a separate Company CP unit to the Order of Battle. And well they may, even though TalonSoft does not recommend it.
The purpose of this document is to reflect upon some issues that were likely being considered when the design decision was made that Company CPs would be inherent to the 1st Platoon. The fact that Company CPs is omitted from the Order of Battle was neither a mistake nor a design oversight. It was understood and accepted that not including a CP Unit at the Company level would remove some vehicles, sometimes tanks from the establishment of some formations in play.
The biggest benefit of this current Optional Command and Controls rules is that the effects of the Company HQ comes into play without the adding of unnecessary units to the game and cluttering the map. If Company CP units were created for all formations, the map would be clogged with numerous non-combat units and much of the game could become bogged down sorting through all the extra units. With one CP for every four or five platoons, approximately 20% to 25% more units would be added to each scenario. I personally enjoy smaller scenarios and the prospect of adding more units, let alone more non-combat units to the game offers very little appeal.
Also the added units would negatively impact the computer processing speed at a time when most people want to see the speed of the game improve. Furthermore, the only other solution offered – a single Company CP unit - would still be an abstraction as I will attempt to demonstrate. The bottom line is that if you add all these HQ units, you will have too high a percentage of HQ to actually fighting unit in the game – simple as that.
Another benefit of these rules is that it makes it a wise command decision to keep reserves as historically was the case. I believe many wargames (both board and computer) have trouble enforcing this tactical wisdom of keeping reserves whether faced with offensive or defensive situations. Historically, a Company Commander would usually place two or three of the available Platoons in the line and keep one back as a reserve.
This is exactly what a shrewd WEST FRONT player will now do. They will keep one platoon back – 1st Platoon – with the company CP. In game terms what he is doing is preserving the 1st Platoon so that he doesn’t lose it and with it the inherent Command and Control benefits the CP provide. As the game progresses and loses are incurred, putting 1st Platoon with the Company CP into the line is one of the risks you have to accept. But only after the opposition has be established or some other call is made that requires the force commander to draw upon his reserves.
Given the time frame that most scenarios cover, the Company CP as an inherent part of a Platoon is a pretty good idea. Any good scenario designers can adjust the Order of Battle if units are required to be detached from the parent formation and assigned to a company for the battle being represented. It was not a common practice to detach and re-attach a unit from formation to formation within the time frame of a game scenario. Therefore this option doesn’t really enter into the game mechanics.
To demonstrate my point that adding only the Company CP as a unit would itself be an abstraction, I will use as an example the book “The South Alberta Regiment – a Regiment at War”. This new publication by Donald E. Graves (ISBN# 1-896941-06-0), was published in May of 1998 and is very a detailed Regimental History. The inside cover provides an extremely detailed layout of every vehicle in the unit from the fighting Squadrons to the rear or the Administrative Echelons. The detailed battle accounts in the book speak volumes for the rare occasions these HQ units actually fought. This further supports the TalonSoft design decision.
In no way am I suggesting that the tasks performed by these men in the HQs and rear echelons were not important - they were! Nor am I suggesting that the men at HQs had a cushy job and were not in danger. They most certainly lived with danger on every day of their lives. I am also aware that the example I am using is a late war Allied formation. However, for this game engine, a design decision, any design decision, whatever it may be must model all nations and all time spans covered by the game. This in itself is one basic assumption required for anyone playing a game with the broad scope of TalonSoft’s WEST FRONT.
Lets compare what you find in a standard WEST FRONT Commonwealth Armoured Regiment with the establishment of the South Albertas in November of 1944.
What you will find in game terms for this unit is three "fighting Squadrons", A, B and C Squadron, each of which is the equivalent of US Armored Company. Each Squadron contains 4 Troops of 4 tanks each. Commonwealth Tank Troops are the equivalent of US Tank Platoons. So lets look at what AFVs and vehicles are not accounted for by the game and some possible reasons for this.
In game terms, you don’t have the normally under strength Squadron CP Troop. In this troop you would normally count the Commanding Officer’s tank. This AFV was often equipped with extra radios and a dummy gun. The CP establishment may have included other vehicles and possibly even a fighting tank or two with real guns. Of course the greatest concern here is for the tanks. Let’s assume that each of these AFVs is really a tank fitted with a gun and not a dummy gun.
The Squadron Commander would likely command one tank. And by all accounts this man was so busy trying to "fight the squadron" from his position, he would be hard pressed to mix it up in the thick of things – and only in dire situations would he knowingly become involved in the action in this way. The Deputy Commanding Officer might also have a tank. But he would likely be far removed in another location where he could step in and take command should some misfortune befall the unit Command tank. But this would take time. And these scenarios we play cover very short intervals of time.
In game terms if the Commander is with the 1st Troop and this unit is eliminated, the Company CP is deem lost for the duration on the scenario. But no Victory points are assessed for this loss. In fact it may only represent the command tank losing its antenna and requiring more time than the game allows to restore communications and get the Company CP functioning. Or the command tank could have thrown a track. Or the driver may have been wounded and the tank becomes separated from the main battle. Any number of things could happen. The game simply assumes it happens when the 1st Platoon is eliminated. This, rather than some random event that is more difficult for one person – the game player to keep straight in his own mind.
Also, keep in mind that the practice (although not universally done by all nations throughout the entire war), was to have men and vehicles "left out of battle" (LOoB) just in case loses were so high that a cadre remained to reform the unit. The "left out of battle" often included the DCO. He might even have a few of the tanks “left out of battle” with him at his remote location. Not having the Squadron HQ units universally present in the OOB helps balance these sorts of factors.
As another example, it was not uncommon for a tank to "brewed up" and most of the crew to escape. Often that tank crew would find another tank – presumable from the HQ troop, replace any wounded crew member and get back to the squadron within a few hours of having lost their original tank. There are numerous accounts of this in the Regimental History I am referring to.
So you see, on an hour by hour basis, with vehicle breakdowns and other unforeseen happenings, it is not such a bad thing to not include the Squadron HQ with the fighting element in the game. It just tends to equal things out.
But even if you added the Company CP as a full troop of tanks, where do you draw the line on which vehicle to include in the game? It isn’t a simple “either \ or” choice that may appear on the surface. You may also have to consider adding as part of the HQ a Humber Scout Car, a tank recovery Sherman (with no turret) and 2 15-cwt armored trucks; one for the Squadron Casualty collection and medics and the other for the Fitters (or the guys that work on the tanks).
You could argue that even these non-combat parts of the Troop CP did have vehicles and could be represented and used to provide scouting for example. The fact is their real function often precluded this and they are just assumed to be going about their tasks in the battle. This is really what the game is representing. When the Sherman recovery vehicle (the turretless AFV) was doing its job, the CP would often dispatch a fighting tank from HQ to cover the recovery operation. Often a tank of the Squadron HQ, as illustrated in a “wireless diagram” was used as a rear link or radio relay. Still, these vehicles make up part of the Squadron HQ and the "fighting element" of the squadron, not rear echelon. They are however scattered about the battlefield.
Now lets evaluate the make up of the Regimental HQ (or Bn HQ in terms of this formation in US terms). In Game terms you will find a HQ unit that is deemed to be a motorized Unit of "other", non-armored characteristics. You will also have several units comprising of the AA Troops and the Recon Squadron. While these were really two individual Squadrons, in game terms they are broken down into smaller 2 vehicle sections so they can be parceled out and deployed as they would historically.
Not present in the WEST FRONT order of battle is the RHQ Troop. This unit comprised of 4 tanks. But a closer look at the information will show that at least two of these tanks serving with the “South Albertas” had extra radios (2x No. 19 Wireless Sets, one of which was High Powered) and only dummy guns. They were used to coordinate the actions of the entire Regiment. The two tanks in the Troop with guns were there to provide direct protection for the command tanks. The RHQ Troops was not normally deployed in the line. In fact, in the Regimental History I have seen only one reference where the situation was so grave that the RHQ Troop was used to provide fire support. In that particular action, the regiment was attempting to hold closed the Falaise Pocket against enemy forces on foot that were trying to escape.
Ultimately it is the scenario designer who has the final say on what combat units were present and are thus included in the battle. In the only scenario that I designed for WEST FRONT, I, like all my design colleagues researched the battle and adjusted the numbers to reflect the most accurate information available. For example, in “Worthington’s Tragedy”, I had very detailed information into the exact make up of Force Worthington, but my data was not as detailed for the Governor General’s Foot Guards and sketchy at best for this same information on the Polish Armoured Division. The strength on that day for the Poles, at that particular hour is simply not known. But you may notice in this Scenario that the British Columbia Regiment includes the Regimental Headquarters Troop (RHQ). After all, the unit was surrounded and fought to the end, and my information indicated that the RHQ Troop was present. So it seemed to me it should be included.
I have elected however not to include a HQ scout car, the Medical 15-cwt truck and various other vehicles. These I believe are inherent as part of the Regiment HQ unit (or in the game, the Battalion HQ unit). However, there is a long list of Administrative Echelon vehicles that are also not represented in the game. These count for approximately 40 vehicles, including trucks for Ammo, Stores, Water, Battery Charging as well as numerous Motorcycle messengers.
However, lets not stop with non-combat parts of the Regimental HQ. What about the Administrative Echelon of each of the Squadrons? Each of the three squadrons of an Armoured Regiment would also have the following:
1 Truck, heavy personal utility
3 Trucks, 15-cwt General Service
1 Lorry, 3-ton GS Baggage and squadron office
3 Lorries, 3-ton bulk petrol
7 Lorries, 3-ton Ammo
1 Lorry, 3-ton Mobile Kitchen with a 20-cwt Water Buffalo
1 Lorry, 3-ton Stores Motor Mechanics Tools with trailer, Compressor
….. in all, 54 more vehicles, almost 100 vehicles alone for a single Commonwealth Regiment.
Just as some may argue that an extra tank in a HQ Troop should be included even though it was rarely employed in fighting, so could it be argued that Administrative Echelon present could scout or pick up arms and fight in extreme situations. But the fact remains that ALL these units, HQs and echelons, were usually busy doing what they do best – and that is keeping the “fighting elements fighting” and not engaging the enemy themselves or providing battlefield scouting reports.
So you see, it isn't a simple decision to include company CP units or not to include Company CPs. It is more a decision of where to draw the line in terms of units that contribute to the fight and add to a game. In games that lasts 10 or 20 turns of 6 minutes each, I think you will find that the TalonSoft’s Optional Command and Control rules work very well.
I have to confess that I personally was not all that enamoured with the rules when I first read about them. I had to play the game before I understood the effects. I made a mistake of trying them first on a larger scenario and was quite overwhelmed by the change. I’d recommend you test them out a smaller scenario first. Weigh the PROs and CONs of the points I have made before deciding upon the value of the rules as TalonSoft has designed them.
Add a company CP unit to your homemade scenarios if you wish. But perhaps indicate this in your scenario overview so that those who want a game cluttered with logistics and non-combative troops may enjoy your work. But those of us who approve of the current ratio of fighting vs. non-fighting units in the game will be sure to give a scenario like this a pass.
I'd really encourage you to give the Optional Command and Control rules in their existing form a try, keeping some of these points in mind when you ponder your battles with TalonSoft’s WEST FRONT.
< Message edited by Jason Petho -- 8/20/2007 11:23:53 PM >