What are your requirements for Platoon Level Tactical Consims?

As I move forward with development of a new game that expands and refines elements of the Frontline General tactical system, I am requesting some information from wargamers regarding your expectations (as stakeholders) for Platoon level tactical consims.

I appreciate all responses, especially responses that are specific, brief, and avoid comparisions to existing game systems if possible. Step back and assume that a platoon level consim does not currently exist. In general, what would you expect to see and be challenged with in such a consim?

Your expectations and preferences will be used to develop Technical Requirements for the system, which in turn influences my design and ultimately the end product, our next game.

Thank you!

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Comment by Byron Collins on March 18, 2009 at 2:42pm
I have compiled all of the requirements, edited them, and created a focused list which you may view here:

Compiled Customer Needs

Thanks again for your participation in this thread. The results will help form the core of what I'll be focusing on with my current project, Frontline General: San Pietro Infine.

Thanks,
Byron
Comment by Byron Collins on March 3, 2009 at 8:24am
Excellent. Thank you all for your comments.
Comment by Eric Walters on March 1, 2009 at 6:00pm
Here's what I'd like to see. Assume we're talking Platoon-level INFANTRY combat where the player is the platoon leader (Army)/platoon commander (USMC). I want the following features/design focus: (1) The impact of micro-terrain--it's never what you see on the map or aerial photo when you plan the operation, it's what you find out from your own patrols/leader's reconnaissance, or--worst case--through stumbling into it, for better or for worse. Dan Bolger's discussion of "The Washboard" at NTC in his book, DRAGONS AT WAR, comes to mind. (2) It's all about the personalities, abilities, and limitations of the troops. Picking the right guys for the right jobs is all important. And you have the fighter/filler/fodder syndrome at work--10% of the unit does 80% of the killing (the fighters); 10% more pass them the ammo or otherwise support them (the fillers); the rest just follow along and absorb bullets. There's nothing wrong with the latter. Better they take the hits than the people doing the lion's share of the work. (3) Fog and friction, certainly. Others have already talked about that so I won't. (4) There never is enough time to adequately plan and prepare for missions, typically. You are told to move out with hardly any warning order beforehand. (5) Fatigue and morale are big deals and have to managed in conventional and unconventional ways. I can go into details on that if anyone is interested. The art of tactics is typically managing soldier psychology--your friendlies' as well as the enemy's.

I know this thread wanted us to avoid mentioning any particular tactical simulation. I'd just like to say that none--and I mean this--none of the boardgames I've ever played at such scale (whether pieces were individuals, fireteams, or squads) have adequately replicated what it's like to be a small-unit leader in any way, shape or form. Only two came close--UP FRONT/BANZAI and SPI's venerable GRUNT!

I'm sorry, West End's SOLDIERS doesn't do it for me, neither does SPI's CITY FIGHT, Avalon Hill's FIREPOWER, or even TSR/SPI's reissuance of SNIPER/PATROL (or its other incarnations in HETZER SNIPER or SNIPER SPECIAL FORCES.

My apologies for breaking this discussion group rule, but my intent was in keeping in the spirit of that rule even though I broke it--one must design a Platoon-level game from the ground up. My mentioning these titles was more to convince discussion group participants and other readers that there's nothing out there that does the job. At least right now. Maybe once I get GMT's FIELDS OF FIRE I'll change my mind. But I doubt it.

There also needs to be some thematic differences between how different militaries solve tactical problems at this scale. We've seen some of that in other games with varying levels of success. This means far more to me than the hardware technical aspects which--while important--are secondary to how those aspects are actually used and perceived. There's a number of works out there that show the perceived effectiveness of a weapon is far different than it's actual effectiveness. I can go into that if people want, but I'd expect most are familiar with the S.L.A. Marshall and Robert O'Connell materials that are the first place to start such an investigation.
Comment by Mike O'Brien on March 1, 2009 at 5:37pm
For any scale of rules, any system that forces a player to play with the tactical or grand tactical methods used in the period is a good thing. For example, German Panzer units should have better command and control over their platoons than French units due to the amount of radios that the Germans used. The differences in vehicles need to be shown through ranges of fire and armor ratings. Differences in training levels and morale need to be shown so that you could have a highly trained but low morale unit or vice versa.
Comment by Byron Collins on February 27, 2009 at 8:10pm
Excellent comments so far. Exactly what I am looking for when preparing to extract/develop a set of stakeholder requirements.
Comment by David Allen on February 27, 2009 at 3:12pm
I agree with the "fog of war" comments, but I would add that these should be in the context of "maneuver warfare" (MW). That is, a player should be able to spend some resources (trade in a mortar section, or whatever) to conduct some sort of covert or psyops on the enemy to increase their "friction," and/or prevent the enemy from doing the same to the good guys. Granted, MW is probably more relevant at the operational level, but things like dwindling fuel supplies, uncertainty about what is behind you, lack of confidence in command, poor communications, unfocused objectives, etc. can be modeled in a grand tactical game as well to represent the impact of MW.
Comment by David Allen on February 27, 2009 at 11:50am
Personally, I am a big fan of the hardware, so I like to see weapons depicted on the counter or something that lets me know that it is Sherman tanks, 82mm mortars, whatever, rather than just generic symbols for armor, infantry, etc. I don't like to see anachronistic terminology used in the rules (e.g. terms that came into vogue after the era represented in the game) or anachronistic (e.g. NATO) symbology used on the counters. I also like to see contemporary (vintage) font and color schemes.

I realize these are aesthetic issues, but aesthetics are a big part of the gaming experience, for me at least.
Comment by Byron Collins on February 27, 2009 at 11:36am
Good questions.
Era: WWII.
Platoon level counters with some sections as appropriate.
Comment by Andy Brown on February 27, 2009 at 11:33am
Also what is the era of this. A mechanized modern combat game would be very different than an earlier era, and would require different "focus" in the rules and design.

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