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SS -Facing - 2/9/2021 8:48:13 AM   


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Curiosity – how is the southern storm game engine going to deal with unit facing ?
At the moment how FPRS deals with unit facing is, I think, limited. For example how a unit in a town hex of 500m can fire throughout its 360 degree arc , firing in one direction one moment and then a minute later be firing in a different direction. What advantage accrues to firing units shooting from an unexpected direction – what bonus applies to striking at the targets side or rear ? Or how a tank unit advancing has the ability to continue moving and continue to have the opportunity to spot enemy units throughout a 360 arc, how quickly a unit can respond to incoming fire from outside the units direction of travel and from a previously unspotted attacker ?
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RE: SS -Facing - 2/9/2021 12:20:28 PM   

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Facing, by definition in a Grand Tactical game, is abstracted and not tracked as a purely tactical game would. Red Storm and to a similar degree Southern Storm have situations where the likelihood of a flank or top/rear shot goes up in city terrain or on initial engagement if one side is unaware of the attacker. The team has discussed some other thoughts on how to improve this model for both spotting and combat, but those efforts will have to get queued up for the post-Southern Storm release efforts. We plan to continue to expand the feature set of the new Cold War game engine as we work on new DLC materials in a similar fashion to what we did with Red Storm, but a bit faster with the larger team this time. If we plan to hit the fall ship date, we need to stick a fork in new ideas for now and clean up all of the new toys we have and release a well-oiled game for you all.


We are hard at work on Southern Storm and Pro work to support the warfighters.

Cap'n Darwin aka Jim Snyder
On Target Simulations LLC

(in reply to Zakalwe101)
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RE: SS -Facing - 2/9/2021 4:35:55 PM   


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@Zakalwe101: I'll add some thoughts and comments to Jim's response. This is a complicated topic and there is a measure of nuance and context involved, so the answer is long-ish.

First, a question: What, precisely, do you mean by "unit facing"? And by "precisely", I mean in the context of Cold War era (and later) tactical doctrine and platform/unit capabilities. I'll argue that, in wargames at the very least, there is a huge discontinuity in that "definition" starting in either late WW I or WW II. Also scale, both distance and time, matter. Let's dissect that a bit.

I'll note that in my profession experience from late 1970's through mid 1990's, the term "facing" never came up. It was "orient" or "orientation", which is more about the focus of the unit's attention/weapons and less about the physical disposition. You "orient on" something, be it an area (like and Engagement Area, Named Area of Interest, or Target area of Interest), an objective, an avenue of approach, etc. Orient in a direction was not often used and where it was used, it was temporary, like at an unscheduled halt. At the vehicle or squad level, you have sectors of responsibility while moving and it is a function of low level unit formation. I'll also note that weapon effectiveness vs target disposition is likely no longer a major factor in weapon effectiveness, when considered over many, many engagements. That is because the geometry of the target array matters most when doing area fire (e.g. machineguns vs dismounted troops). In contrast, AFV engagements are point to point (Tank A vs APC B). In point target engagements, the disposition (e.g. enfilade fire) doesn't really contribute to own vehicle lethality. The is in contarst to, say Napoleonic or American Civial War eras.

Assumption/working definition: I'll go out on a limb for a moment and work with this - "facing" is the direction of weapons, sensors, hull frontal armor and a unit's "attention".

So, looking at your question, there are two aspects you are questioning. One is about what aspect of the target should be used in a direct fire shot and the other is responsiveness of a unit that is fighting in multiple directions. Let's look at these as well as the impact of the game scale (distance, time, and granularity).

First up is scale. As to ground scale, we do not, nor will have, the terrain granularity to be able to determine that "this tank is in defilade from shots to the NW, W, and SW". Oh, and such has a duration of time if either the attacker or defender is moving. And let us not forget that the Line of Sight may not be the same for each member of either unit, owing to very localized (<500 m) differences in terrain for each member. Such things are best left to squad level combat engines, not battalion+ level ones. we're not going there.

Even at the level we do use to determine flank or rear/top shots, how long does that advantage persist? My professional experience tells me that is is, for the vast majority of engagements, mere seconds. Consider that reorienting for combat vehicles these days is in many circumstances only a 2 second turret traverse.

Can a moving unit do anything to mitigate risk of flank shots? Of course. Units do that, based on known or suspected (meaning "that's a good place to defend from") enemy locations. But again, we are not going to check LOS below 500m intervals. This is the crux of our model giving a flank shot for only the opening shot to units that are unspotted when they shoot. Anecdotal info: as a company Bradley Maser Gunner, I was the gunner for a mech Company Commander. One of my duties, (apart from converting a stock M2A2 onto a C2 Bradley before there was such an animal) was battle tracking for our company. So, I was responsible for disseminating current situation to the platoons. I'd drop into platoon comms nets to do that. Things like telling 2d Plt "enemy spotted in wood line to your 9 o'clock". This was before digital battlefield info systems. With that knowledge, platoons and crews can take advantage of local terrain to mask themselves from the threat.

Even a vehicle unit road marching down a hardball road is not going to present an incredibly vulnerable target after the opening shot. The combat cycle in the game is basically one minute and that is plenty of time for a unit is Hasty move to respond before the next increment of fire. That first one can be devastating for sure. The following ones, much less so.

Infantry vs vehicles in built up areas is another case. If the engagement is in the same hex as the inf unit and the area is sufficiently built up, then we assume this affords either opportunities at rear shots or there are multi-story buildings affording shots at upper armor. Again, we apply this in the case of unspotted infantry units only, as situational awareness on the part of the target units presumes actions to mitigate thee opportunities.

One thing we have examined that fits the game's physical and time scale and granularity is the effect on a unit that finds itself fighting in multiple simultaneous directions. This turns out to be very nuanced and will likely be some future work.


Sua Sponte

(in reply to CapnDarwin)
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RE: SS -Facing - 2/10/2021 10:04:44 AM   
fluidwill matrix


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I do appreciate when you explain your thoughts and design compromises that have to be made. Thanks.
Long wait till the autumn.

(in reply to IronMikeGolf)
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RE: SS -Facing - 2/18/2021 6:58:42 PM   


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ORIGINAL: IronMikeGolf
Even at the level we do use to determine flank or rear/top shots, how long does that advantage persist? My professional experience tells me that is is, for the vast majority of engagements, mere seconds. Consider that reorienting for combat vehicles these days is in many circumstances only a 2 second turret traverse.

I think a distinction should be made for movement facings versus stationary battle position facings. We had primary, alternate, and supplementary BPs to orient towards certain kill zones or TAIs or whatever. For most of southern Germany where I was, after getting into a good position it was usually not trivial to reorient. Certainly not a 2-sec turret travers; more like a couple of minutes to issue FRAGOs, move, and get set in. This begs another question about flank shots. If you are in a BP oriented in a certain direction and not physically able to observe in an alternate/supplementary direction, then it stands to reason you are also not as vulnerable to flank shots. So perhaps some consideration of all this can be looked at for units arriving in a location, then some time to establish a hasty BP oriented in a direction, and then some more time to harden the deliberate BP. Changing orientation and BP posture should take some time and be factored into the turn calculations. Granted, a whole lot can happen at this 500m scale and half hour turns, but if there is an opportunity to dig in with a particular facing then there should be pros and cons factored in accordingly.

(in reply to IronMikeGolf)
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RE: SS -Facing - 2/24/2021 9:49:43 PM   


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Thanks to Capn Darwin for his prompt response and explanation .
What I was meaning in respect of “facing” was the units direction of attack/advance ,it’s focus of attention or orientation in terms where it expects to engage the enemy or be engaged from, or coverage of killing zone where multiple units have a los/lof to.
In the context of this game being a cold war era battlefield then when I draw up some defence I work on the adage that if my units can be seen they can be hit, if they can be hit then they can be killed, so for me reverse slope defence , defence inside towns for infantry not on the edges. Tanks covering open spaces to have covered retreat routes. Or if I have to put them out “exposed” then in sufficient numbers that I can overwhelm any attack with fire superiority.
I chose the word “facing” as it’s commonly used in wargaming, and thus a familiar term across a broad range of games , simply if it isn’t in the units facing then some penalty accrues to it in some circumstances.
I appreciate that the games scale in terms of ground scale and time imposes some effects. In particular ground scale. A hex being 500m across means it has to simulate terrain across 162379.76m² so I can see the difficulties(impossibility) imposed by this to simulate individual tank and fire team positions, but I was thinking in terms of a units orientation determining in general where units, given time, had dug in positions, and/or alternate firing points for tanks within that given area which have positive impact on the units disposition in terms of fulfilling it’s mission within the commands overall operational plan. If an attack comes from outside that orientation none of those advantages apply ?
Diverging somewhat
I have read some accounts of the Russian Federation attack into Grozny in the first Chechen war , it shows that Infantry always has an advantage of flank and top attacks on unaccompanied tanks, simply the Russian tankers could not see their attackers, even if they could, they could not strike them as they could not elevate their main guns sufficiently to hit upper stories with the main gun or coaxial. There was nothing the Russian tankers could do to mitigate the risk to them until they were accompanied by infantry and Mobile AAA systems (ZSU) Is the game nuanced enough to simulate permanent upper /rear armour attacks for infantry in town/cities against unaccompanied tanks in the same hex?
My reading of wars contemporary to this period shows the violence of modern warfare in terms of rapidity and lethality of modern weapons, and the huge consumption of munitions, speed of response has increased particularly for those militaries that have optimised command control systems. Sectors of observational responsibility I am familiar with and that gathering and disseminating information fast enhances response time. Within these forums someone posted a short video clip of a Russian exercise, in which we see a tank Company advancing in perfect line a breast, all main guns orientated in the direction of advance, all buttoned up firing occasionally to the front (if memory serves) – where was their awareness ? IMHO I think any effective response by them to an attack from any direction other than the front would have taken several minutes , if they survived that long. I don’t know but does hitting a target that is aware it is being fired at harder than hitting one that is entirely oblivious to the fact it is being attacked or where the attack is coming from.? Yes you can swivel a turret in seconds but which way, looking near , medium distance or far ? How long should surprise last ? How effective is the one man in a Russian Tank who can see (other than in the direction the turret is turned or the tank facing,) in observing the location of incoming fire ? How quickly can an observing supporting unit pass relevant information to the targeted unit ?
I know this is not a tactical game, there are enough of those out there to satisfy any desire as far as that goes, I’ve always felt that this is about operational command, where I get to play with all the elements of a combined arms force –where designing a defence or assault using the tools is the name of the game, when in attack is there an indirect approach to my objective, in defence can I use a counterstroke ?. I think in both these instances where the enemy is facing/focused /orientated is relevant.
I guess some of my view is driven by wanting more out of the game engine than it can perhaps deliver , I enjoy it very much but as I play I want more from it (may be unreasonably so), but I am not a professional game designer, code writer or Veteran of the armed forces thus the questions.
Given Capn Darwin’s and your response I now have deeper understanding the of the issues, and some salve to quieten my (unreasonable ?) impatience for the new game.
(long reply but I’m in “lock down” so have an inordinate amount of time !!)

(in reply to pzgndr)
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