Questions of game mechanics, does FCSS correctly abstract the reconnaissance force in a unit?

Flashpoint Campaigns Southern Storm is a grand tactical wargame set at the height of the Cold War, with the action centered on the year 1989.

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Comcikda
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Questions of game mechanics, does FCSS correctly abstract the reconnaissance force in a unit?

Post by Comcikda »

"for reconnaissance, my thought is whether a hexagonal grid near a unit that includes a reconnaissance unit can also be included as a point of view in the LOS calculation? this is a way to avoid micro-management and at the same time abstract modeling."
This is what I thought at first, and then the developer of FCSS replied to me as follows:
My goodness, no. There's a couple of reasons for this. 1. Geometry. You're proposing an offset of at least 500m. Quite possibly more. The time and distance scale of the underlying simulation drives us to a unit needed to spot (by its own sensors) enemy locations. The positional offset involved means a different viewpoint. It is entirely possible for one unit looking at a location to see an enemy unit and another unit, even in the same observing position. Oh, by the way, not even in the same Subunit. There's an interview you can find on YouTube where a Bradley Commander struggled with getting his gunner to shoot an Iraqi tank. Gunner didn't see it. "It's RIGHT THERE!" And I have experienced this myself in training (both as a Commander and as a Gunner). There absolutely is no Transitive Property of Spotting.
2. Communications networks. So, you proposal is a recon unit spots an enemy unit and tells other units about it. That presumes they actually talk to one another. Voice networks are very narrow. You talk to your peers with your unit and to your leader. So, in a platoon, talking occurs with the platoon. The platoon leader also talks to his company commander. Not to other platoons routinely. So, there ends up being a chain of nodes and messages to even get the location formation to a unit. This takes minutes and is stale to the point of becoming, essentially, a rumor.
3. Direct fire requires seeing a target. Telling a unit, assuming this can happen in a timely fashion, of an enemy location where the notified unit has spotted the enemy unit (meaning they have not seen even one enemy subunit) is not sufficient for shooting at the enemy with direct fire. Sure, indirect fore can be used, but there is already an observer for that. To do direct fire requires laying a gunsight on a spotted subunit. We are not going to initiate that fire chain based on another unit's observation.
4. Other game effects. So, we rule out shooting at a unit that is only spotted by another friendly unit. Are there other effects you think should be considered?

Let me continue this discussion here, the details about how a unit spots an enemy and returns the information is not clear to me, my experience with it is limited to video games. I appreciate the developer's response to my point. But I still wonder: is FCSS modeling and abstracting the reconnaissance force correctly?
1. Geometry. You're proposing an offset of at least 500m. Quite possibly more.
A company on the march will always send a certain amount of reconnaissance forces along the march route, I don't know what the specific rules are, but 500m should be acceptable... So the problem is that developer mention that the fcss tries to avoid these micro-management, but at the same time the fcss tries to apply a microscopic, LOS determination rule that I feel is suitable for use in squad scale games. This is what I find puzzling. the whole point of the existence of these reconnaissance forces is to enhance the situational awareness of company combat teams, isn't it?
If, as you mentioned, suppose the full range of a company combat team is limited to a 500m hex. My reconnaissance unit detects the enemy via sensors, and at the same time if the enemy fires on my reconnaissance unit o, why is it my company combat team's main force that suffers losses? Please consider if such an abstraction is a distortion.
Direct fire requires seeing a target.
Totally agree. Knowing the presence of an enemy in a location is not the same as having the LOS to fire.But that is precisely why reconnaissance units exist, to provide situational awareness capabilities and then allow the company combat team commander to decide whether to continue marching and engaging or to stop the formation and withdraw in accordance with SOP.
A little earlier in the discussion, someone in discord tried to conduct a scout mission with a Soviet company who set the SOP of the unit to retreat after taking losses, but instead of obeying his orders the unit took a lot of fire in place. SOP setting aside, if I were the commander of a company combat team, I would certainly not send the main force of a company combat team on a reconnaissance mission, which explains why I came up with this abstract model.
So, you proposal is a recon unit spots an enemy unit and tells other units about it.
I have not argued that reconnaissance units can return information correctly and completely. Their returns can be vague, and information such as "enemy armored vehicles on the move in my north, type unknown, number unknown" can be useful. Can such unconfirmed information be represented on the map, for example, by placing a few question marks?
So, we rule out shooting at a unit that is only spotted by another friendly unit.
tbh I do this a lot in combat missions and they provide a good suppression effect. But back to my topic, I never mentioned that other units spotted = shootable. I suspect this requires a higher level of information chain than could be achieved during the Cold War, perhaps consider adding it as an optional rule in a future game?

Thank you to the developers for taking the time to respond to me patiently, and if I have overlooked anything please help me point it out, I would greatly appreciate it.
IronMikeGolf
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Re: Questions of game mechanics, does FCSS correctly abstract the reconnaissance force in a unit?

Post by IronMikeGolf »

"This is what I find puzzling. the whole point of the existence of these reconnaissance forces is to enhance the situational awareness of company combat teams, isn't it?"

Situational awareness is not the same as targeting information. A weapons crew (be it an AFV or a squad) getting a report of "enemy over there" still needs to see the enemy on their own to shoot.

"I have not argued that reconnaissance units can return information correctly and completely. Their returns can be vague, and information such as "enemy armored vehicles on the move in my north, type unknown, number unknown" can be useful. Can such unconfirmed information be represented on the map, for example, by placing a few question marks?"

That happens already. If some "recon" element spots an enemy unit, it show up on the map. Depending on sensors, environment, and range, it is either Detected (question mark), Classified (Tank/APC/Infantry/etc), or identified (make and model)

"tbh I do this a lot in combat missions and they provide a good suppression effect. But back to my topic, I never mentioned that other units spotted = shootable. I suspect this requires a higher level of information chain than could be achieved during the Cold War, perhaps consider adding it as an optional rule in a future game?"

Thanks for the clarification. I have to say you can't take experiences in Combat Mission and apply all of them to this game. Now, what specific game effect do you think is lacking as it pertains to another friendly unit spotting an enemy unit?
Jeff
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Comcikda
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Re: Questions of game mechanics, does FCSS correctly abstract the reconnaissance force in a unit?

Post by Comcikda »

IronMikeGolf wrote: Thu Nov 24, 2022 6:57 am Now, what specific game effect do you think is lacking as it pertains to another friendly unit spotting an enemy unit?
In straightforward terms, when our reconnaissance units spot the enemy ahead and there is a possibility of engagement, the marching formation decides whether to engage in combat formation or stop and retreat according to its SOP.
I think there is a lack of a reconnaissance method that can avoid exposing the main force. Since the FCSS integrates a Warsaw Pact company-level reconnaissance unit into the company itself and refuses to split it, it should offer more than just the possibility of "finding the enemy" by improving the unit's attributes.
This is why I feel the need to make the recon unit ahead of the main force's route of travel by one hex grid and include that grid in the LOS calculations. (Maybe a new name is needed, like extra information gathering range?)
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blackcloud6
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Re: Questions of game mechanics, does FCSS correctly abstract the reconnaissance force in a unit?

Post by blackcloud6 »

Since the FCSS integrates a Warsaw Pact company-level reconnaissance unit into the company itself and refuses to split it, it should offer more than just the possibility of "finding the enemy" by improving the unit's attributes.
I just checked FM 100-2-3 and I don't see a recon element in a Motor Rifle Company nor Platoon.

The recon elements come from the Regimental Reconnaissance Company.
Comcikda
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Re: Questions of game mechanics, does FCSS correctly abstract the reconnaissance force in a unit?

Post by Comcikda »

blackcloud6 wrote: Thu Nov 24, 2022 3:01 pm The recon elements come from the Regimental Reconnaissance Company.
Yes, they will be used to form the FSE in battle and the CRP will be at the front of the marching line. This should comply with the FSE regulations for use.
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blackcloud6
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Re: Questions of game mechanics, does FCSS correctly abstract the reconnaissance force in a unit?

Post by blackcloud6 »

Comcikda wrote: Thu Nov 24, 2022 3:35 pm
blackcloud6 wrote: Thu Nov 24, 2022 3:01 pm The recon elements come from the Regimental Reconnaissance Company.
Yes, they will be used to form the FSE in battle and the CRP will be at the front of the marching line.
Then that is where you need to move those elements in the game, ahead of your line of march. Otherwise, if you give the MRCs a recon ability and you have the Recon Company guys in the game, you have more recon on the map then they really had. If the Recon Company guys are not present in the scenario, this is either a sin of omission on the part of the designer or intentional in that he is portraying that the recon guys are dead or on a mission elsewhere.
Comcikda
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Re: Questions of game mechanics, does FCSS correctly abstract the reconnaissance force in a unit?

Post by Comcikda »

blackcloud6 wrote: Thu Nov 24, 2022 3:40 pm Then that is where you need to move those elements in the game, ahead of your line of march.
But FCSS refuses to provide the option of splitting the units. And the Soviet commander will send a second FSE when he deems necessary, such as when the first FSE is caught in an engagement and cannot disengage. So assigning an entire reconnaissance platoon to an MRC is unnecessary. A single section is sufficient.
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blackcloud6
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Re: Questions of game mechanics, does FCSS correctly abstract the reconnaissance force in a unit?

Post by blackcloud6 »

And a US company commander can send a Squad with their BFV out on a mounted patrol mission away from their platoon too. But these small units are below the resolution of the game's focus on what levels of command to portray. At what point do you allow players form having such control over units and the player then becomes many platoon leaders and company commanders is is now micromanaging his brigade?

Game design, especially for the tactical level, has to focus the play or the game will become unmanageable.
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blackcloud6
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Re: Questions of game mechanics, does FCSS correctly abstract the reconnaissance force in a unit?

Post by blackcloud6 »

From FM 100-2-1: (bolding is mine.)

Page 5-12:

March formation normally consists of the following
elements:
• Reconnaissance.
• Advance guard (or forward security element of a
battalion).
• Flank security elements.
• Main force.
• Rear security element.
The focus for march planning is security of the main
force and creation of conditions for its successful
commitment into battle.
The organic reconnaissance battalion precedes its
division on the march. Scout elements of the recon-
naissance battalion may operate 50 kilometers forward
of the division. A regiment is preceded by its organic
reconnaissance company, whose scouts may operate
25 kilometers forward. Reconnaissance forces are
trained to obtain as quickly as possible the following
information about enemy forces:
5-2
• Nature and location of enemy nuclear delivery
systems.
• Movement axes of enemy columns.
• Strength and composition of enemy forces.
• Deployment lines and routes.
• Location of contaminated areas.
The advance guard precedes the main force on the
same route and provides movement security and
warning. It normally consists of about one third of the
total combat power of the main force. The advance
guard of a motorized rifle regiment is normally a
motorized rifle battalion reinforced with tank,
artillery, antitank, antiaircraft, engineer, and chemical
elements. The advance guard of a tank regiment is
normally a similarly-reinforced tank battalion. In a
division marching on multiple routes, the lead regi-
ment on each route forms its own advance guard.
There is no "divisional advance guard," as such.
The advance guard, in its turn, will dispatch to its
front a forward security element (FSE) consisting of
about one third of its combat power. A forward
security element of a regiment's advance guard will
normally be a reinforced company.
(The FSE is known
as an "advance party" in some texts.)
The FSE is preceded by a combat reconnaissance
patrol (CRP). The CRP is normally a platoon rein-
forced with engineer and NBC reconnaissance
elements.
It reports intelligence information and
makes the initial contact with any enemy forces
encountered.

Page 5-32:

The forward security element ( called the "advance
party" in some texts) is normally a motorized rifle
company reinforced with tanks,
artillery, mortars,
engineers, and chemical defense. The mission of the
FSE, moving up to 10 kilometers behind the CRP, is to
advance at maximum speed and to engage lead enemy
elements. Through use of its mobility and fire power, it
seizes and holds a position advantageous for subse-
quent commitment of the advance guard main body.

Pages 5-35 and 5-36 talk about the buildup of combat power once the FSE and Advance Guard engage the enemy.
IronMikeGolf
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Re: Questions of game mechanics, does FCSS correctly abstract the reconnaissance force in a unit?

Post by IronMikeGolf »

"Yes, they will be used to form the FSE in battle and the CRP will be at the front of the marching line. This should comply with the FSE regulations for use."

No. Division and Regiment Recon are NOT used to form CRPs and FSEs. Division Recon would be up to 24 hours ahead of the lead regiment of a division. Regiment recon would be up to 12 hours ahead of the lead battalion of the regiment. MR and Tank battalions of a regiment have no recon-specific units. Recon performed by those battalions is done by combat elements from those battalions. The FSE is a company of the lead battalion of the regiment (which is termed the Advance Guard). It is reinforced with an indirect fire battery and specialty recon (CBR and Engineer) elements. The CRP is a Platoon from the FSE, so also a combat platoon.
Jeff
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