Trees and line of sight

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Trees and line of sight

Post by MLB »

I'm used to playing board games, so I'm having trouble adjusting to the rather looser definitions of terrain and line of sight that can occur from time to time in miniatures games, so please bear with me!

How do people deal with line of sight between different elevations when trees are between firer and target?

The rule book allows for fire into woods up to 4" and orchards up to 6", but this is along the same level (with I guess the assumption that vision is blocked more by tree trunks and undergrowth than tree foliage). That's fine and makes sense. But even a single large tree in the middle of summer has a lot of foliage and generally completely blocks line of sight between a firer and target at different levels.

So my question, would a single tree block line of sight between targets at different levels? If not, what impediment does it have on line of sight?

I note in the scenario maps for CoC there is often a single tree or line of trees depicted on the map. I may be reading this too literally, but I've set up the table accordingly. As it is not 4" thick I can see through it and beyond it, but clearly it provides some obstruction to a clear line of sight. Does this tree act like a hedge in terms of line of sight between targets at the same level?

In a similar way, what if I have a small clump of trees 4" or less in width. I assume I can see through this to targets beyond, does this put that target in light cover for the purposes of receiving fire?

These feel like slightly dopey questions to be asking, but my regular opponent is like me, a board game player, and so we both struggle at times to be sure we are understanding how the lines of sight play out.
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john de terre neuve
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Re: Trees and line of sight

Post by john de terre neuve »

We play that first floor and above windows do not block LOS through trees that would be blocked at a ground level window. It just makes it simple.

Hills which we seldom model, would be treated as first floor windows and above.

It just makes the game easier.

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Re: Trees and line of sight

Post by MLB »

Thanks John, that's an interesting answer.

The rules say 'if line of sight to an enemy unit is interrupted by a high feature such as building, dense hedge.....then the unit may not be targeted unless they are using that terrain feature as a firing position'. That being the case, couldn't you say the full foliage of a large tree would constitute as much of an obstruction as a dense hedge? Remember I'm talking about trying to look through the actual foliage of the tree.

The rules then say in reference to fire from an elevated position that line of sight will depend on 'intervening terrain'.

This has quite serious implications for the way a scenario plays out, so let's take a specific example. In the Von Luck pint sized campaign - Scenario Two Probe Among the Hedgerows. In the top left hand corner of the table is a farm house (orange roof), which has two levels. I assume the trees represented are normal tree height for Normandy and so at least as high as the house if not higher. The orchards we assume are lower and no higher than the ground floor level.
Image
A unit on the upper level can see 'over and beyond' certain pieces of terrain like the hedgerows and the orchards, but can it see through the trees in the farmyard to a lower level, or through any of the trees that make up the line of trees in the bottom left hand corner of the table?

This seems important to me, because depending on your interpretation that line of trees offers a potentially covered avenue of approach should a German unit move in the blind spot created by the tree canopy (just imagine it as a 'floating dense hedge if you want), or it does nothing of the sort and the trees serve only a cosmetic purpose.

I think I would play the scenario completely differently with each interpretation.
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Seret
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Re: Trees and line of sight

Post by Seret »

Don't forget that you've also got sunken lanes in that game. I would say that the woods in front of the house block all LOS. Single trees are usually just decorative and have no effect on the game, if in doubt draw a true line of sight from firer to target, normally only very small teams would be able to claim any cover from small features like single trees.

I've played that scenario, I actually don't think the house is a key position for the defence. The key to the map are the lanes, and the house doesn't offer good coverage of either. Remember the Germans can bring up their SP howitzer; houses are very dangerous places for the paras to deploy.

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Re: Trees and line of sight

Post by Rich H »

We've always found houses dangerous places in CofC they offer protection but often allow several enemy units to draw LOS which means the teams get pummelled. They also attract smoke and covering fire!

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Re: Trees and line of sight

Post by Archdukek »

MLB, the rules really leave it up to you and your opponent how you want to define the specific terrain features you use on your table so that you can reflect what you have in your collection. If you want to claim that a particular model tree with dense foliage blocks LOS from an upstairs window then fine, go for it.
Like Seret I tend to treat individual trees as decorative and that would include the line of individual trees in the bottom corner, If my opponent chose to spread out his men to hide behind each tree I might let him claim cover but point out that he would likely be more vulnerable to shock.

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Re: Trees and line of sight

Post by MLB »

Thanks for the replies. I guess I'm just trying to understand how I interpret a scenario map and the desinger's intent and then translate that on to the table. I'm also trying to avoid those situations where my opponent and I are both looking at terrain but seeing different things. Looks like we need to establish common ground before play begins. Very different from board gaming, tree symbols in a hex are always trees LOL.
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Re: Trees and line of sight

Post by Seret »

If you want to break things down I'd say you've got three main types of foliage on the table:

Area terrain: the triangular wood and the orchard. Lines of sight (regardless of altitude) are blocked either 4" or 6" in from the edge.

Linear terrain: hedges. Troops immediately behind the hedge are out of sight unless firing

Single trees: No effect, purely decorative.

The map in the book can't be too prescriptive, because the actual terrain people have in their collection varies. No two tables laid for this scenario will be identical. The houses will have their windows in different places, hedge lines will have breaks and gates in different spots, etc.

If I was playing as the Brits the key terrain I'd try and grab would be the hedgeline in the SE corner, the triangular wood and a JOP somewhere at the NE end of the sunken lane. Those would allow you to cover 100% of both lanes, and the open fields, and to transfer defenders laterally as needed. The obvious axis for the German attack is right through the triangular wood and up one or both lanes.

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Re: Trees and line of sight

Post by john de terre neuve »

This has been really an interesting discussion, thanks for bringing it up.

I am finishing off my second campaign (Closing the Gap) now, with the first being the Let's Go campaign. In the campaign booklets there are sometimes modifications to the general terrain rules (in Closing the Gap once you get within 2" of a hedge you have LOS and can be seen). But at the same time we have generally played as Seret has described.

I was interested to see that you interpret orange roofed buildings as 2 story and grey as 1 story. I am not sure if this has been laid out anywhere but that is how I generally set up the table.

Certainly though single trees on the map are treated as decorative by us.

I think it really depends though, as Seret and Archdukek have pointed out, on your personal terrain collection. I have got a lot of terrain for WWII but there is no way I can duplicate all the scenario maps (it is actually somewhat of the determinant of which campaign we will play next).

So we do our best to duplicate the maps but when we play we find it easiest to play LOS as what you see is what you get. I know this may screw up the intent of the rules designer but it works OK for us. There is no other way to do windows, doors and gaps etc. Woodlands and orchards are another challenge as you point out especially in respect to elevation but again we play it as wysiwyg.

John

ps I have to say that I am still waiting for a campaign with real bocage, I made several feet of it when the ruleset first came out but have yet to use it.

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Re: Trees and line of sight

Post by andyskinner »

If the single tree is near the target, I'd agree it is likely just decoration.

But if it is near the firer, like right outside a window from which someone wants to fire, I'm not sure that window will offer much LOS. This got talked over a long time ago here, I think.

But I agree there's flexibility to agree on how your particular terrain should count.

andy
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