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Author Topic: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units  (Read 579 times)

Tangoforone

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Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« on: 15 September 2019, 15:44:56 »
I have an idea for a potentially interesting scenario and want peoples thoughts on it.  Prepare yourselves, this is going to be a long post. 

Map Settings:
-4 ft x 6 ft map (North to South is 4 ft dimension, East to West is 6 ft dimension)
-Light to heavy woods surround the North and South sides of the map
-low level hills, a small lake, and light woods are within the center of the map to the East side
-a small city is on the West side of the map.
-The time of day is late evening/early night, so the city is dimly lit. 

Force Rules:
-Each army cannot naturally see the location of an opposing unit unless they are within 2 inches from each other (the exception being a Beagle Active Probe allowing full identification within 4 inches). 
-To make the Beagle Active Probe finally useful, this would mean that for a unit to completely identify an enemy unit, I would say that each unit needs to be within 2 inches to visually see and identify the opposing unit.  Light woods would not allow for two units to identify each other.
-Units in front of the city create a silhouette.  Opposing forces can identify a unit, but do not know what it is.
-Units shooting create brief light that, if LOS of the location would be normal during the day, an opposing unit could see. 

Management:
For this game a 3rd party game master actually needs to manage this.  My thoughts would be that each force would have a commander (if more than two players) with a hand-held magnetic board.  On the board is a scale map of the full board.  The commanders will have magnets that are labelled.  The game master will also have a magnetic map that has all the units and their locations.  Poker chips will be used on the board that are numerically labeled when a unit is spotted but not fully identified.

Turn order will be as follows:

1.  Each commander will allocate his force locations on the magnetic boards and then hand their boards to the game master.
2.  The game master will have an additional map that has all the locations of the units on his board.  He will move the units around and determine visuals, if any.
3.  If visuals occur, the game master will place markers, or actual units, onto the main map.  Any previous visuals that no longer are in effect are removed by the game master.
4.  Both forces roll initiative.  Any unit that has been spotted or identified is under the effect of initiative, unless it has already been moved during that round.  For initiative, the number of spotted or identified units determines how many units each player moves at a time, though I would be inclined to just have each army move all of their spotted or identified units at the same time.
5.  Firing phase, if any.
6.  Additional visuals will be placed if units that weren't seen shoot and can then be seen.  This only lasts one round.  Once the Phase 3 occurs on the next round those visuals will change location or be removed, whichever is applicable.
7.  PSR and physicals.

Game Objective:
-I don't want each force to turtle up so there needs to be an additional objective.  My thoughts are that each force has a commander and that the primary objective is to take down the opponents commander.  The Game Master would tell each force which unit is the commander, as the commander would have gained a bit of notoriety piloting his mech.  Otherwise, perhaps the force entering from the east is targeting a specific building, which would bring them into the city.

Special Rules:
-I was thinking of doubling the range of all weapons and equipment, while keeping the movement the same.  This will hopefully encourage earlier engagements.  This would also modify the beagle probe to 8 inches instead of 4 inches, and change the visual identification to 4 inches instead of 2 inches.
-When targeting the silhouette of an opponent, add a +2 for not being able to completely see it. 
-If an ally sees the opponent, the entire ally force is aware of what is seen.  If a silhouette is all that is seen, all allies see the silhouette.  If a unit is identified, all allies know what it is.  This means that most likely the scouts and the brawlers will be known to the enemy fairly consistently, while the flankers and support mechs may never be found out.

Conclusion:
Let me know your thoughts, if you would need further clarification on rules, what special equipment might do that I didn't think about, or other questions or concerns.  I am going to try to set up a game in October or November that would implement these rules, and potentially try to run something like this at GenCon or Origins next year, so I want to start working out the kinks.


Colt Ward

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #1 on: 16 September 2019, 11:38:59 »
Seems you are trying to recreate dusk/night fighting rules?  There is a rule for that which does not require a 3rd party?  Double blind, which you are mixing with night fighting, DOES require a 3rd party and also has its own rules.  IF you just want to mask the identity of a mech playing as OpFor I can make a few suggestions.  You also might want to use hexes as a distance since a lot of people play with that, and those who do not convert a hex to their own distance- I have heard folks using 1 inch up to 2 inches to signify that single hex.

Finally, scenarios exist to make BAP more useful.  My group plays them regularly, and there are other suggestions such as if you have a Probe in range you can look at the 'in range' mech's sheet- it gives some advantages for making tactical decisions . . . or it can, when the information is used.  IE, if its not last man standing, that mech that loses its AC/20 is not as much of a threat any more as a speeding backstabber that finally slowed down.
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Tangoforone

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #2 on: 16 September 2019, 12:58:18 »
I am not necessarily meaning to recreate dusk/night fighting rules, however I did look those up and they are pretty unimaginative in my opinion.  A moonlit night is a +2 to hit for all weapons fire, and a unit that gets hot subtracts one from that.  Obviously with standard Battletech rules there is only so much you can do, but using those rules you may not as well shoot until you are short range.

I'm also not looking to mask the identity of OpFor mechs only.  I am looking for positional awareness of each force to not exist as well, unless they are willing to shoot and risk their location being given away.

I'll have to look up the 'Double Blind' rules and see what they are like (any book reference would be appreciated).  I do agree about the hexes though; I was thinking about that today and it is easier to use than inches.  It would also be easier to use for the commanders and the magnetic maps.

I got the inspiration for this from WWII Naval Combat in the Pacific, specifically the Guadalcanal, where the fighting was very often at night and the opposing forces could not see where each other are. 

As for BAP, we always allow anyone to see any record sheet, and this scenario isn't meant to solely make BAP useful.  I was stating the unintended consequences of this scenario where BAP would be useful.

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #3 on: 16 September 2019, 13:09:38 »
They had spotlights, and so do most mechs . . . but they also present a problem while solving one.

And yeah, you are looking at Double Blind.
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Tangoforone

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #4 on: 16 September 2019, 14:16:49 »
I saw the spotlights and that is something that I would have to figure out how to give to the force in the city.  I think what I would do is provide a template that can go on the map that the city forces could use at the beginning of the turn; whatever is in the template gets spotted and thus needs to wait until initiative to move.

Same with mechs.  They could have smaller spotlights and templates to go with them.  Obviously that would give away their position, but I think it would only be a spotted condition in my rules, not a full identification. 

I have Tac Ops (looks like that is where Double Blind is) so I will look at that tonight or tomorrow and see what's what.  I did notice that Sarna states that each force needs it's own map; I would just use a small magnetic board with a scale map placed over it in place of that.  Especially if I decide to run this at a convention, hand-held boards would require much less space and will be easier to hide.

Colt Ward

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #5 on: 16 September 2019, 14:41:10 »
Yeah, problem with double blind is it does require different maps . . . which is why the most I hear of people using it is wargaming through MM.  I use DB there and only there . . .
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Daryk

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #6 on: 16 September 2019, 17:12:39 »
Darkness and spotlights were used in the WWE last year... they were VERY significant, and didn't automatically result in the spotlighting unit being shot at.  They gave an advantage to both sides.

Colt Ward

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #7 on: 16 September 2019, 17:36:04 »
Really?  We had several busted out . . . and one person moved their mech in front of a spotlight wielder, much to comments from their team.

But yeah, I think its going to be the closest to what you are looking for the easiest.
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Daryk

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #8 on: 16 September 2019, 17:37:30 »
The Green Ghost Warhammer climbed up on a hill WAY in the back, and basically illuminated the whole board.  There was a LOT of discussion on our side whether we should shoot it or not...

Tangoforone

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #9 on: 17 September 2019, 19:43:51 »
So I read through the double blind rules and they don't seem terribly different than what I was thinking, but they do seem to make some unnecessary complications:

Spotted vs. Identified:  a spotted unit in my game means that an opposing force has visual on a silhouette, but doesn't know what it is (they may know there is a battlemech or large vehicle, but they don't know what model/variant).  Identified means that they know what said unit is.

Simultaneous Movement:  I think I would prefer to put spotted or identified units into an initiative system like standard battletech.  This way, winning initiative is still extremely useful in that players can follow units that try to hide again and the pressure can be kept up on them. 

Special Sensors:  Too complicated.  I would dump the short/medium/long range nonsense and just a generic range to state that a unit is spotted or identified.  I would also shorten the ranges quite a bit.  Especially if playing on a standard battletech map; a BAP could more or less spot a unit across the board.

Maps:  Again, I think I would implement a handheld magnetic map and use small magnets that have unit labels on them, as well as an arrow representing facing.  I'll trust the players not to cheat as I am not overly cynical about the world quite yet, and it is just a game in the end.



Colt Ward

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #10 on: 18 September 2019, 10:54:38 »
Well, never tried to do double blind outside of MM- it handles all the complications.  I am still tinkering to find some setting with sensors that I like, what I really want is something like MC2 had where depending on my sensors (BAP) or skill I can pick out its a mech or veh, if closer/better skilled I can see its a med or heavy mech.  Actually get LOS on it and I can tell what it is . . .

But for making things like BAP more useful I know some folks had scenarios where the BAP let you look at the opposing mech's record sheet so you could see what internal damage you may have caused rather than having to remember.  Its also useful to know if that AC/20 has 1 shot left or 6.
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Sartris

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #11 on: 18 September 2019, 22:28:00 »
First rule of BT night combat: don’t
If you can’t abide by rule #1 make sure you’re the only guy that brings flare mortars

victor_shaw

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #12 on: 18 September 2019, 22:39:38 »
First rule of BT night combat: don’t
If you can’t abide by rule #1 make sure you’re the only guy that brings flare mortars

Or your mech has a searchlight.


Apocal

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #14 on: 19 September 2019, 01:37:30 »
There are rules to make active probes take away one level of woods penalty, are there not? Or is that just in MegaMek?
« Last Edit: 19 September 2019, 01:42:02 by Apocal »


Colt Ward

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #16 on: 19 September 2019, 10:22:49 »
That is a TO rule for probes yes

Have not looked at that (and broke my kindle so I cannot right now . . . ) does the probe have to be within 3 hexes or whatever?
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Apocal

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #17 on: 19 September 2019, 10:35:24 »
Have not looked at that (and broke my kindle so I cannot right now . . . ) does the probe have to be within 3 hexes or whatever?

I found it; the probe only has to be within range with the target in line of sight.

Colt Ward

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #18 on: 19 September 2019, 10:50:47 »
So yeah, 4/5 hexes . . . not healthy for the probe carrier on scouts, but makes sense for something like a Marauder 9S or other heavy point mech.
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Daryk

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #19 on: 19 September 2019, 18:25:33 »
It also helps with scout vs. scout battles, since the fast movers will be relying on terrain too.

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #20 on: 19 September 2019, 18:47:46 »
Special Sensors:  Too complicated.  I would dump the short/medium/long range nonsense and just a generic range to state that a unit is spotted or identified.  I would also shorten the ranges quite a bit.  Especially if playing on a standard battletech map; a BAP could more or less spot a unit across the board.
You can already spot a unit from across the board from 60 hexes away in daylight conditions, which is way beyond the BAP.
If anything, messing around with sensors has me thinking that the ranges are too short to be useful.

Tangoforone

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #21 on: 20 September 2019, 09:13:09 »
You can already spot a unit from across the board from 60 hexes away in daylight conditions, which is way beyond the BAP.
If anything, messing around with sensors has me thinking that the ranges are too short to be useful.

Hence combat at night.  Obviously during daylight very few to no units are hidden so the purpose to BAP or any other special sensor is nigh-useless because you can see your targets easily.  But if you are fighting with only the moon to guide your way, then a sensor is a bit more important.  It is important to quote me with full context considered :)

The scenario is intended to better simulate night combat and add a bit more tension to the game by not knowing where your enemies are and risking being spotted if you shoot your guns haphazardly.  Like I said, standard night combat rules just add a +3 to attack rolls which is fairly unimaginative and essentially means everyone needs to get into close combat to do anything.  Which makes night raids (something we do in current day warfare) completely useless.

My goal is to figure out a way to make this 'double hidden' rule efficient and fun in regular play, then I think it would be fun to have that additional tension in a game; it can even then be ran during the daytime.  Obviously if the people I play this game with hate it after we playtest a couple scenarios then I will consider it a failure and move on.

I'm going to work on the rules a bit and setup a game for October.  Hopefully I can get some good feedback on how it goes from the players.  I'll post the results here. 

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #22 on: 20 September 2019, 10:36:08 »
Hence combat at night.  Obviously during daylight very few to no units are hidden so the purpose to BAP or any other special sensor is nigh-useless because you can see your targets easily.  But if you are fighting with only the moon to guide your way, then a sensor is a bit more important.  It is important to quote me with full context considered :)
Then it's at 5 visual spotting, which is insanely short, even for Battletech.  Unless it's a unit mounting a Searchlight and visual range becomes 30 hexes, matching or besting the range of standard-purpose Mech sensors, which means, again, basically every single sensor except for specifically Active Probes (and not even Light probes at that) is useless compared to visual spotting.  And then the IS BAP only has a very minor range advantage.  And that's before considering ECM and stealth equipment which can/should cut even further into sensor range.

So yes, Sensor ranges are much too short to be of use even in night-time conditions.

Quote
The scenario is intended to better simulate night combat and add a bit more tension to the game by not knowing where your enemies are and risking being spotted if you shoot your guns haphazardly.  Like I said, standard night combat rules just add a +3 to attack rolls which is fairly unimaginative and essentially means everyone needs to get into close combat to do anything.  Which makes night raids (something we do in current day warfare) completely useless.

My goal is to figure out a way to make this 'double hidden' rule efficient and fun in regular play, then I think it would be fun to have that additional tension in a game; it can even then be ran during the daytime.  Obviously if the people I play this game with hate it after we playtest a couple scenarios then I will consider it a failure and move on.
Yeah, night-fighting in BT is a bit... dull.  The sensor and visual mechanics could use a rethink.  Good luck with that.

Colt Ward

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #23 on: 20 September 2019, 10:57:25 »
Night raids?  Have you actually used NVGs and other night combat aids?
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Tangoforone

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #24 on: 20 September 2019, 11:40:10 »
I have not; unfortunately I never enlisted.  Nor do I want to attempt to bring real world applications into a miniature game set a thousand years in the future (though I heard night raids were fairly effective at rooting out terrorists in small towns in Iraq and Afghanistan due to NVG and other equipment, I could be wrong though).  I am speaking very specifically in regards to the context of Battletech.  So, before I hear that NVG are either incredibly effective or incredibly over-exaggerated in the movies keep in mind that I am specifically referring to the rules of Battletech, which is apparently a five hex visual.  I am going to keep it to 3025 mechs for now due to simplicity, so if there are rules that state mechwarriors have NVG in their helmets in 3025 I would love to hear them and I can implement that in the rules. 

I am well aware there are many aspects that I need to consider and work on.  Hence playtests and this post getting feedback.  People have brought up flares, spotlights, and sensors, which I will take into consideration at some point.  My first playtest with this will probably be 3025 tech with nothing special.  This way, I can gauge the efficiency of the handheld maps and generic rules for spotting, as well as my method for spotted units and identified units.  I will modify those rules based on initial feedback, then start working in more advanced equipment.

Maybe the first playtest I do is just people moving around doing nothing for three hours, even with a VIP building or unit to destroy.  Or perhaps someone turns on their mech spotlights and they get ganked by everyone hidden in woods the following turn because he is brighter than literally everything around him and stands out like a sore thumb.  In the end, we will see what happens and the feedback will be posted here.

Colt Ward

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #25 on: 20 September 2019, 11:52:20 »
I was merely going to say they are not a one shot solution, while we train to fight at night its not a normal practice simply b/c of the KISS principle.  Mechs SHOULD have low-light sensors, but then you get into the artificial short ranges/ECM and other bits.

One thing I would point out was mentioned earlier- you do have ammo that also makes night fighting easier, flares and tracers IIRC.

I brought up double blind b/c you get into all sorts of sensor rules and I am searching for, as stated, something like MC2's sensors where you get a unknown contact and are able to refine.  But for the most part I play those sort of games through MM b/c of the complication.  You did give me a idea about playing a bit of 'mystery' on a contact during bad sight/sensor conditions.
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Tangoforone

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #26 on: 20 September 2019, 12:41:25 »
That's fair; I apologize if I seemed snarky, as I don't mean to be.  Part of what I am trying to do with double blind is make it simpler and more easily implemented; as it stands it seems a bit complex for any true enjoyment. Initially I wasn't even aware of these rules, and just had the idea of all forces being hidden until visual identification occurred and assumed a night fight would be the most logical scenario.

In the end, I don't necessarily want to limit my modifications to the double blind rules to only night combat.  I figure it will give me the most application of the modified rules in a single game.  Otherwise the only time it would really come into play is in woods or a city, or a massive storm (but there are more rules that come into play with storms).  With a night fight, I can have a simple plain with some small hills, some woods, and a small town; this should give us a good amount of terrain and cover to use, but also allows the units to go into the plain and I can still implement these rules.

Colt Ward

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #27 on: 20 September 2019, 13:09:44 »
To back up, I have to ask- have you ever played MechCommander 2?
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Tangoforone

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #28 on: 20 September 2019, 13:22:13 »
Nope.  That is more of an RTS, correct? 

Colt Ward

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Re: Game Scenario: Night Combat and Hidden Units
« Reply #29 on: 20 September 2019, 13:41:39 »
Sort of, you do not really do any building . . .



You see those red tetrahedrons (or whatever)?  Those are sensor contacts on unknowns, you can see the 3 known contacts of the pair of Fire Ants and UrbanMech but behind the walls you can see three of the red icons showing unknown contacts.  IF you have a mechwarrior with the skills and equipment you can determine if its a mech or vehicle, and further the weight class of the contact.  I do not remember if you could ever be told exactly what it was without seeing it.  Sometimes the contact was civvie vehicles, I want to say sometimes it could be fire (or that could have been MCG), sometimes it was allied units and sometimes it was enemy units- not sure you could detect the shut down.

I want to get that effect in MegaMek double blind play- contact 2 streets over but who knows what it was . . . now to track it down!
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