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Author Topic: Higher command effects on units.  (Read 172 times)

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Offline Sailor Malan

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Higher command effects on units.
« on: September 27, 2017, 05:20:33 PM »
An area I find myself increasingly interested in, and frustrated by games typical failure to cover, is the effect of higher command. For example, a game with battalion counters and division HQs should reflect the feel and real issues in managing one or more divisions. Battalions that are part of a division that is working well, should perform better than ones that are part of divisions with partial or complete breakdown of the divisional functions. I mean things like supply (which is the mechanism most frequently included), along with some sort of 'command range'. However, command range takes no account of how well the division HQ (and regimental HQs) are functioning. There have been cases - and France 1940 is probably the richest source - where division command staffs have just lost the plot. Games on France 1940 usually recreate the possibility of the German break though by giving French units poorer combat factors, slower movement, and so on. However everything I have read about the campaign tells me that this shouldn't be the case (certainly not all the time). There were French units that could fight and give the Germans a shock. The problem was that they were too uncoordinated and slow.  Not because they walked slowly (!), but because the command structures were not up to it. The typical German attack got inside the decision loop of the defenders, and they couldn't react. Counter attacks were dreamt up, but by the time orders got to the units involved they were out of date and meaningless. When this wasn't the case, the preparations for the attack (that are necessary) were too long winded, so the attack would be meaningless by the time it was ready, and repeatedly got canceled etc. I know you aren't planning to cover 1940 (yet), but I just use it as an example.

Why do I raise this? I have a copy of a reprint of a British Army Tactical Wargame from 1956. This is not at all detailed as a unit combat simulation; it is an Operations Research higher level command game designed to look at how to fight in Germany in the 50's (so is informative as to WW2, as it would obviously be based on experience from only 10 years before). The main emphasis is on planning and tempo of ops. Some things take far more time than is usually allowed for in wargames. It cites the time to plan a full divisional attack as 24hrs (min). This means (obviously) an attack by the division in a coordinated manner, best using its assets, not individual (uncoordinated) attacks by the 9 Btns of a typical division. The point is that most wargames allow beautifully coordinated attacks by 9 Btns that happen to be in the same division usually on the fly, with artillery arriving in support etc. In reality, an attack by the division on the fly would be an attack by 9 Btns (or 6 with 3 in reserve or whatever) but not coordinated, slower/non-existent artillery etc. In other words the things that he French in 1940 wouldn't do, and so meant they were always late/out maneuvered.

Now, full division attacks might be rare to non-existant in your game, but here are some other minimum planning times:
Attack by Combat team of 2 inf coys, 2 Armoured Sqds and 1 SP art battery in support: 1 hour
Pre-planned Btn counter attack with Arm sqd + art Regt: 2 hrs (note: pre-planned, ie "attack the village from the wood if the village falls", once the village falls, the counter goes in 2 hours later)
Btn attack with support (Arm Sqd and Arrt Bty): 3 hours
Btn att  with Arm Sqd and Art Regt): 4 hours

In other words to gain the benefit of going from a battery in support of a Btn, to a Regt, takes another hour's planning.

The rules then go onto Bde/Regt attacks, and these take up to 12 hrs to plan ( in the case of a Bde/Regt attack, 2 up, with 3 art Regts in support)

There are limits on how far these attacks can penetrate before being deemed 'over' - Bde attacks 10km, Division 20km.  Note these times do not include allowance for any move to a jumping off line.


Has there been any thought on building in these sorts of planning times? These sort of mechanisms would allow a very simple model of higher command effects. A trained and competent division ought to be able to achieve these tempos with say 90% success, 10% chance of being an hour late (made up numbers). Poorer division staffs. disruption etc would make the chance of being ready in these times drop. Poorer armies (such as the French in 1940) would have these 'normal' times doubled or more. Germans might have the counterattack planning time halved. The effect of an HQ having to bug out could be a delay in the planning while they move/fight. A division that has been penetrated (enemy running around 'inside' the division) would be poorer comms, modelled by a delay/confusion/eventually inability to plan attacks. Delivering an attack without the planning done would mean support doesn't arrive, attacks are executed in random order despite intent, art is reduced (lower availability in ASL terms, lower ammo/not there in CM etc). These planning times are nothing to do with a unit resting/recovering and reorganizing. Those are on top!

There are durations for combat in these rules too, quite slow (50% chance lasts 2hrs, 30% 3 hrs, 20% 4 hrs for a combat team or Btn attack)
« Last Edit: September 27, 2017, 05:57:07 PM by Sailor Malan »

Offline Christian Knudsen

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Re: Higher command effects on units.
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2017, 01:04:32 AM »
This would be great to model - the command and planning delays that you have to deal with in the Command Ops system is one of the best things about it, IMHO.

Matt might totally disagree with me, but it seems that this would be fairly easy to work into the cohesion system - basically requiring a cohesion floor for units to participate in an attack.  Since units gain cohesion at a given rate, this means that we can factor that cohesion minimum into a requirement.  And it should be fairly easy to adjust the minimum cohesion requirements not only for inclusion of larger units, but as well as a multiplier for national capabilities.

Offline choppinlt

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Re: Higher command effects on units.
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2017, 08:34:25 PM »
Great topic Sailor!!   :thumbsup Seriously, are you hacking in to my gaming documents?!  8) This has been a recent focus of mine. Much of what you discuss has already been established and is currently in use.

1940 France, you are correct that the German advantage wasn't in actual combat power over the French and BEF, and IIRC the Germans actually had a disadvantage. Yet German doctrine of maneuver allowed for the application of combat power when and where they wanted, thus continually placing them in a positional advantage...which is exactly what you are talking about with the Germans being in their decision loop.

You mention divisional attacks in TO, it is my sincere hope that they do occur. I envision "small" scenarios on a regimental level and "large" scenarios with army formations...even army group. There will just be a lot to manage at that point, but that is where you can really make use of co-op multiplayer when multiple people are taking care of the forces under their direct control...but I digress.  ;)

To your question "Has there been any thought on building in these sorts of planning times?", I say ABSOLUTELY!  :sifone

Somewhere on this forum I am almost certain there is a somewhat explicit discussion on battlegroup (BG) creation....but I'll be darned if I can find it!! National Doctrine, Leadership, Cohesion, and Troop Experience all play a role when creating a BG. The term BG in TO translates to any unit combined with any non-organic unit. This means an infantry batt getting arty attached, or simply an infantry batt getting another infantry co attached from within the same regiment. Typically when we think about BG's we think about true combined arms BG's, like 2/116 in the current scenario. It is an infantry battalion with a company of engineers and tanks attached. Additionally it had multiple units of artillery dedicated as well. Once a BG is created it can stay together indefinitely, pieces and parts being detached as desired. The disadvantage to keeping them together is they recover from fatigue slower receive supply at a lower rate. In the case of vehicles they receive little to no maintenance. Moving on, to create the 2/116 BG in the first place would take approximately 6 hours due to the engineers (attached to the regiment), tanks (attached to the regiment), a battalion of 105's (attached to the regiment as Direct Support),  a battery of 155's (division level), and a company of 4.2-in mortars (attached to the regiment). Keep in mind if the Soviets created this form of BG, it would take far longer!

If you look at the scenario you can get a feel for the rhythm of prep, execution, and recovery cyle of combat for TO.

This would be great to model - the command and planning delays that you have to deal with in the Command Ops system is one of the best things about it, IMHO.

Matt might totally disagree with me, but it seems that this would be fairly easy to work into the cohesion system - basically requiring a cohesion floor for units to participate in an attack.  Since units gain cohesion at a given rate, this means that we can factor that cohesion minimum into a requirement.  And it should be fairly easy to adjust the minimum cohesion requirements not only for inclusion of larger units, but as well as a multiplier for national capabilities.
CK, I would never disagree with you!  ;) I never thought of using cohesion in that manner for battlegroup creation. That is a great idea, thanks.  ;D I will study it a bit further to tweak mechanics, but that makes perfect sense to do. Cohesion level is important when it comes to issuing any order, whether it is movement or creating battlegroups. A commander can ALWAYS issue a unit orders in TO regardless of their condition, but they may not be in condition to receive and follow them in a timely manner.

You mention command radius, and yes I am making use of this concept. A command radius is given for each command echelon battalion and higher, and subunits within the radius suffer no penalties for command delay. I also want to add that units will suffer penalties for intermixing units from different regiments or divisions with each other.

I also have to add that the condition of the issuing higher HQ (HHQ) is critical regarding time delay too. How well are units in a regiment going to receive and execute orders from an HQ that may be completely disrupted due to enemy artillery, or ground attack, etc.

Perhaps I should have started the discussion by saying that there is a about a 45 minute command delay with issuing a movement order, a delay when entering combat, and a delay for post-engagement recovery. Throw in maintenance and fatigue and hopefully you can see that players will have to develop a battle rhythm. So when you put all these pieces together in trying to establish a coordinated divisional assault, you can see why you would need lots of time to get it going (to include ample supply).

In summary, I don't know if it is apparent with my ramblings, but when you start addiing everything up  (plus the granularity of a 2 hour turn) I think the timelines you mention line up very similar with the system I have. Where did you get the planning time info? Was it the game you mentioned? I will mention that I don't have any sort of established limit on advance before deeming an attack over. With how the game works for now, i don't plan to make a limit on advance. I think other parameters will help control that, BUT this can always be revisited with further development.

Thank you guys, this is exactly the type of discussion that I appreciate. It helps to get good discussion because that can really help the design process.  :D Keep it going!!