Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Some Artillery Ideas From HighlanderBurial

F. Usipenko. Guards fighting back
Here some cool ideas about artillery that HighlanderBurial sent me.

HighlanderBurial wrote:
What is the Backfield?

The backfield is a term for the area not part of the battlefield (i.e. the table/board on which the game is played). Unlike the battlefield, the backfield is not a defined location with units in specific places. The backfield is instead an abstraction of all forces available to you that are not located on the battlefield proper (each player has a single backfield, all active non-destroyed units available to a player are either in the backfield or on the battlefield). This can include reserves, command and control elements, indirect fire artillery, et cetera. [maybe you could use the backfield to represent air units that are rearming/refueling, not sure if the game will have air units]
We'll have air units at some point. But not in our initial release. Conceptually, there will be a 'squadron' flying overhead, and each attack run enters, fires, and leaves the table in the same turn. Shoot one down and another plane can come on next turn until you run out of aircraft.
Units on the battlefield cannot target, shoot at, attack or otherwise affect units in the backfield. The reverse holds true for backfield units: they cannot interact with units on the battlefield. For example, a squad of infantry held in reserve cannot attack or be attacked by enemy units on the battlefield.
This seems very obvious.
Artillery: A rough draft

When you take a unit of artillery, you may choose to deploy it on the battlefield or leave it in the backfield. While on the table, an artillery gun operates as a normal gun. As such it may only conduct direct fire and follows all normal rules for a gun team such as line of sight, range, arc of fire, etc. [presumably self-propelled artillery would function like vehicles]
Like it so far. Yeah, SPGs on the battlefield would work like tank destroyers instead of arty. Just with a really crappy RoF, a low BS, and a very devastating explosive shot. :)

Of course, not all arty would be a Self Propelled Gun. Some wouldn't be able to move around at all after being deployed.

If artillery is in the backfield, it instead functions as a fire support base. Backfield artillery may fire at any point on the table it has ranged in on (it is treated as having infinite range). In addition, backfield artilery follows all rules for indirect fire (whatever those may be).
I'm liking the idea a lot of choosing whether to deploy arty for direct-firing, or keeping it off table for indirect fire. Each would have its advantages and disadvantages.
Backfield artillery do not roll to hit as normal, instead they roll to range in on certain parts of the battlefield. During the action phase, backfield artillery may choose to attempt to range in on a location instead of shooting. To do so, declare what part of the board you wish to range in on and [perform  some action]. If successful, place a ranged-in counter in that location; note that an artillery unit can only range in on a limited number of places at one time based on [some number, maybe BS stand-in?]. If you wish to range-in on a location while at the maximum number of counters you must remove another counter on the field in order to do so. Ranged-in counters stay on the field once placed until removed.
When making an attack, backfield artillery declares one of the areas of the board they have ranged in on and center the template over the ranged-in counter. Resolve the shot as normal for an area of effect attack.
The problem I see with this is that the process of ranging in is to fire a normal shell and see where it lands. So essentially every shot is a ranging shot. It would be more accurate to leave a ranged in marker for the last shot, and allow the arty unit to double its fire on the last marker if it wants to.

This is going to require an observation unit (scouts, drone, or something) to do the spotting. There should really be a 1-turn delay between spotting something, and a shell landing. Or at least some kind of hidden order system. So that the arty player decides whether to Time-On-Target, or do a ranging shot in the turn before he actually rolls the attack. Maybe they even have to pick the shell type (smoke, HE, Agent Orange, etc.)
In order to avoid confusion/excess paperwork, all backfield artillery are assumed to be a single unit that fires a single attack [maybe with some rules for mixed batteries or something].
I think that we'll limit arty to just one, possible two, units per FoC. A special forces mission isn't going to get more than 1-2 SPGs tasked to them anyhow. If the goal of a mission was to flatten the battlefield, that could be done without us having to play a game. :)
[maybe some rules for counter-battery, not sure]
Here's my ideas on what we need, as far as roles/orders:

Supporting Fire

Standard indirect fire.

Counterbattery Fire

Flames has a mechanic where each player's aircraft have a certain number of reserve dice. Say 3, 5, or 7, depending on the level of air support that you brought. Each turn, you roll them all. Hoping for a 5+ on any of them. Then you discard one of your air attack dice.

If you want to try and stop an enemy plane's attack run, you can roll your dice too. But you'll have to discard one of your dice after rolling. Causing your air support to be 'used up' faster.

That's generally what I'm thinking of for counterbattery fire. You roll to stop the other guy from dropping templates from his backfield. But you use up your own 'artillery dice' in doing so. Ditto with using aircraft to attack the other guy's backfield instead of directly strafing the table. Where the aim is to suppress their arty, or delay their reserves.

Counterpreparation Fire

You're defending, so you ranged in your arty before the attack. You can double fire (time on target) on any obstacle (which of course, you can place during setup) without ranging.

Harrassing Fire

Delays enemy reserves (or makes their reserve rolls harder).

Interdiction Fire

Prevent an enemy from using a table quarter (basically forcing them to set up where you want, or suck up a barrage pre-game).

I don't know how we go about balancing some of that. But that's what I'm thinking.


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