Possible Barrage House Rules

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Iorwerth
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Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2016 2:01 pm

Possible Barrage House Rules

Post by Iorwerth » Sat Nov 10, 2018 10:14 am

Mortar barrages can seem to be overpowering, though it obviously depends on the situation. If you have a situation where one side is defending a smaller area with JOPs quite close together, then a mortar barrage in the right spot can seriously hamper their ability to deploy or be effective. If this is then coupled with the attacking side having the edge in CoC dice, so can keep the barrage going even when the turn ends, then it can feel like the game is too dominated by the barrage, and more so with the ability to move the location of the barrage around with an activation.

The AAR by Iain F about Operation Martlet (https://toofatlardies.co.uk/forum/viewt ... 20&t=10116) and his house rule for barrages, gave me an idea for a couple of house rules of my own. I have also posted up Ian F's idea as well, though he is still playtesting it. I figured that some may not see the AAR or may not go to his site and find the house rule, so thought it would be useful to post it up here- hope he doesn't mind!

Ian F's work-in-progress barrage house rule is found here: (https://tracksandthreads.wordpress.com/ ... -fontenay/) :
Each time you activate the mortars you roll a dice: 1/2 you get 2 tubes, 3/4 you get 4 tubes and 5/6 you get a full 6 tubes. 6 tubes gives you the standard 9″ radius as per the rules but you reduce it by 3″ for each 2 tubes less. So 4 tubes = 6″, and 2 tubes = 3″.

The rationale is that some of the tubes might be called to fire on other targets that are being called in from other platoons in the company.
I really like the sound of this rule and it may be enough on its own, but thought I would post up my other ideas as well.

My first proposed house rule is to add a new way of spending a CoC Dice - 'Stop Barrage' - simulating that the off-board mortars have got new priority targets or something along those lies on another part of the battlefield (somewhere off board), so end the barrage. A CoC dice used in this way wouldn't end the turn, just stops the barrage, and so the 'Keep a barrage firing at turn end' can't be used by the opponent to keep the barrage going in this case. The player who controlled the barrage could still use the rules to try and call it up again, but for the moment the barrage has stopped. A player would use 'Stop the Barrage' rather than 'End Turn' if he sees that his opponent has a CoC Die they could use to continue the barrage, making ending the turn pointless for barrage purposes, or just because the player doesn't actually want the turn to end for other reasons.

The second proposed house rule is to make moving the barrage not be automatic with an activation. The player determines the spot he wants to move the barrage center point to and then rolls 2d6. On a 7+ it moves there, otherwise it stays put.

Like I said above, the dominating aspect of barrages varies from game to game, as their ability to dominate proceedings is situational. But when it does happen it can suck the life blood out of the encounter, so having some way, or ways, of limiting it seem like a good idea.

---------------------------

Lastly, a couple of rule questions:

1. The rules say that an aiming point must be within LOS of the forward Observer. Would a building roof count? e.g. the FO cannot see the base of the building from where they are situated, but can see the upper floor and roof. Could they aim for the roof?

2. When moving a barrage it does not say that the new aiming point has to be within LOS of the FO. Does it need to be?

andysyk
Posts: 215
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Re: Possible Barrage House Rules

Post by andysyk » Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:05 pm

The question of is a Mortar Barrage too dominating comes up quite a bit. If you search the forum you will find a lot of discussion on the subject.
Mortars are the Infantrymans nightmare combined with artillery they are combats real killers.
Why cant a FO move a Barrage on an activation, that's his purpose? Unless hes killed or his comms go down. 7+ on 2D6 is a massive restriction.
COC Die represent what you could call Firefight Initiative that elusive element of tactics that you struggle to gain and then don't want to lose. The fact that you can use one to end one represents some unforeseen circumstance, the ability to likewise keep a barrage going means you trump it. The fact that the opposing player has a COC Dice and you don't know what hes going to do with is a key part of COC. Im not sure I want to see that altered.
For me 10.3.3 handles Barrage availability fine its KISS and Im Ok with that.
In real life if you have a map you can put Mortar fire down any where within range.
Anyway have a good search and there is a lot of details on actual practice hidden in the posts.

Iorwerth
Posts: 152
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Re: Possible Barrage House Rules

Post by Iorwerth » Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:35 pm

Thanks, I have read a fair number of threads about it over time.

I haven't tried out any house rules as of yet, but have found that occasionally a barrage seems overpowered and detracts from the fun of the engagement. I realise that infantry hated being mortared, but in the game, rather than in reality, sometimes it is just becomes too much of a dominant aspect of the engagement. Situational, as I said before, but it does rear its ugly head from time to time and becomes too overwhelming a factor, or at least it seems to me (and some others who comment on it).

As to FO moving the barrage, what I have found is that sometimes this can get a bit gamey, as the shifting of the zone is so precise, as if the FO had a bird's eye view of the battlefield and where everyone was, and makes precise adjustments in accordance with it (which is the view the player has, of course, but not an FO in reality). We have rules for randomness in movement of troops to account for hesitations and other random occurrences that cannot be gamed in enough detail, so having a roll for moving the aiming point doesn't seem that much of a stretch - maybe the radio communications glitched for a moment, or the battery needed changing, maybe the FO is distracted by something nearby, maybe the off-board mortar team has a problem and so on. So having a roll for moving the center point doesn't seem too bad to me. Maybe a 7+ moves it to the desired spot, a 6 moves it 1" short, a 5 2" short and so on, I just thought a straight 7+ was easy and simple and means that on average it does move as desired, but sometimes it doesn't move.

As to the CoC dice thing, I was a bit worried that it might break something. However, even if a barrage is ended by a player, the barrage can be called up again, so it didn't seem too overpowering on paper. Currently, the player wanting to end the barrage, by ending the turn, cannot actually end the barrage unless the opponent has no CoC dice at all - it was that dynamic that the rule was aimed at combating, as it is that situation where the barrage can begin to become too dominant, as it can begin to last for a long, long time.

Another suggestion I read about a while ago was to allow a single phase at the beginning of the turn where a barrage has been continued for troops to become unpinned and so able to move, perhaps outside the barrage. However, given the barrage can so easily move around, that may not make much difference, unless the troops were fairly near the edge of the barrage anyway and can really shift away.

I do realise that many players don't see a problem, which is obviously fine, but the thread is really just a discussion about possible house rules for those who would like to limit the effects of barrages in some way.

Archdukek
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Re: Possible Barrage House Rules

Post by Archdukek » Sat Nov 10, 2018 4:01 pm

If you find the existing mortar barrage rules too overwhelming then the simplest solution is to agree with your opponent not to use them. Both platoons are deemed not to have priority for that support this fight. In my experience mortars can be very effective, a waste of support points or OK in about equal measure.

I'm afraid that your proposed amended "Stop Barrage" does break the game rules in my opinion. There is no guarantee that the opponent will be able to call the barrage back, indeed it could be lost for the entire game, so you are denying him a legimate albeit expensive counter move. You are also removing what can be a restraining factor in the decision to end the turn, namely that all tactical or overwatch stances and smoke would remain in place as well because the Turn has not ended, not to mention the impact on Pinned or Broken units.

When necessary to keep the peace I have been known to allow minor tweaks to the existing rules on mortars, namely to restrict any movement of the barrage to 12" (40 yards) no more or less to avoid too much fine tuning and to require this to be done when the FO is activated on a '1'. Only rolling for casualties when the FO is activated on a '1' and allow a phase grace between trying to end the barrage by ending the Turn using a CoC dice and it resuming when the opponent plays his CoC dice. Requiring the barrage area to be placed parallel to the table edges can also cut out any element of micro-management to maximise the impact.

To answer your questions:
Yes, being able to see a roof is sufficient for the building to be used as the aiming point.

No the new aiming point does not need to be visible, in most cases it is likely to be blocked by the barrage itself. I usually require the FO to still be able to see at least the edge of the barrage, but that's not strictly required by the rules. You could move the barrage to land on the reverse side of a hill or wood for example.

John

Iorwerth
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Re: Possible Barrage House Rules

Post by Iorwerth » Sat Nov 10, 2018 7:55 pm

Archdukek wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 4:01 pm
If you find the existing mortar barrage rules too overwhelming then the simplest solution is to agree with your opponent not to use them. Both platoons are deemed not to have priority for that support this fight. In my experience mortars can be very effective, a waste of support points or OK in about equal measure.
I don't play against strangers and the group I do play with feel the same about barrages occasionally being a bit OTT and gamey - we are just looking for a tweak here or there to tone them down a tad, not to get rid of them.
Archdukek wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 4:01 pm
I'm afraid that your proposed amended "Stop Barrage" does break the game rules in my opinion. There is no guarantee that the opponent will be able to call the barrage back, indeed it could be lost for the entire game, so you are denying him a legimate albeit expensive counter move. You are also removing what can be a restraining factor in the decision to end the turn, namely that all tactical or overwatch stances and smoke would remain in place as well because the Turn has not ended, not to mention the impact on Pinned or Broken units.
All true. Like I said, my worry about it was that it may be a bit unbalancing. I might still give it a playtest, but might try other 'lesser' tweaks first to see if they do the job.
Archdukek wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 4:01 pm
When necessary to keep the peace I have been known to allow minor tweaks to the existing rules on mortars, namely to restrict any movement of the barrage to 12" (40 yards) no more or less to avoid too much fine tuning and to require this to be done when the FO is activated on a '1'. Only rolling for casualties when the FO is activated on a '1' and allow a phase grace between trying to end the barrage by ending the Turn using a CoC dice and it resuming when the opponent plays his CoC dice. Requiring the barrage area to be placed parallel to the table edges can also cut out any element of micro-management to maximise the impact.
That is interesting - so leaders can't command the FO to move it or cause it to activate for casualties, only to get the FO to call it in in the first place. Is that right? The moving of 12" exactly I might try as well. The phase grace I have been aware of previously, but haven't yet used it, but planned to give it a go.

When an FO wanted to walk the barrage in a direction, how accurately could they do this in reality? I wonder if movement of the barrage could be done by the FO saying a direction but the distance actually moved in one activation being random - perhaps 2d6" in that direction?

Also thanks for answering my questions - that is how I was playing it, so nice to know that I wasn't off the mark :)

Archdukek
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Re: Possible Barrage House Rules

Post by Archdukek » Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:39 pm

Yes the suggestion in previous discussions was that Senior Leaders might be able to "encourage" the FO to call in the barrage by activating him using a CI if close enough, but thereafter it was down to the FO to carry out any fancy stuff. It does tone down the accumulation of shock and casualties a bit, but the troops under it are still pinned and any JOPs rendered unusable so it's impact it's too dramatic.

There are other far more expert than I on the technical aspects of walking a barrage. My suggestion is mainly to discourage micro-management - 9" or half the barrage width is another alternative. Some prefer a random element if only to increase the chance of catching friends which is generally zero at the moment. One reason I usually also require a ranging shot to be fired rather than allowing the barrage to be called in immediately and take the chance of rolling high enough on the deviation table to avoid your own men. At the distances represented on a CoC table I think some reasonable degree of caution on the FO's part is to be encouraged.

John

Iorwerth
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Re: Possible Barrage House Rules

Post by Iorwerth » Sat Nov 10, 2018 9:47 pm

Archdukek wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 8:39 pm
There are other far more expert than I on the technical aspects of walking a barrage. My suggestion is mainly to discourage micro-management - 9" or half the barrage width is another alternative. Some prefer a random element if only to increase the chance of catching friends which is generally zero at the moment. One reason I usually also require a ranging shot to be fired rather than allowing the barrage to be called in immediately and take the chance of rolling high enough on the deviation table to avoid your own men. At the distances represented on a CoC table I think some reasonable degree of caution on the FO's part is to be encouraged.

John
I might try signalling a direction you want the barrage to move in and then roll 2d6 to see how far it goes. That way there is some control but it might go somewhere you would prefer it hadn't.

I don't mind being able to call a barrage immediately and taking a chance on the deviation table. I fought a battle once where it took my FO an age to get into position, by which time the enemy was getting close. I called down a barrage without the ranging shot, rolled badly and it deviated onto my own troops. While bad news for them, it was quite funny to us players, so think I will keep that rule in. :)

andysyk
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Re: Possible Barrage House Rules

Post by andysyk » Sun Nov 11, 2018 3:12 pm

Moving a barrage once its established is easy, even artillery batteries from a long way off can adjust by 10 metres. Adjusting is science, you do it with one tube and then the others are paralleled with it. Once the ranging shot is observed the FO uses that as his reference point, then by direct observation or even using a map only he can adjust the barrage as he sees fit. The adjustments are made by the weapon, once the weapon is firing the FO says- adjust amount of metres-direction and the sights/charge are adjusted accordingly. At this point the only thing the FO has to get right is the amount of metres he wants it moved. Easily done by eye once you are experienced enough. The rest is done at the tubes.

2D6 is a 7 metre/yard to 100 yard variation!

ONE WW2 US Army 81mm Mortar could put a concentration down to cover a 100 yard square.

That's 30" x 30" in COC, easily adjusted in 3" increments in ground scale.

If your calling in fire for the first time yes it should be random. And you should use a ranging shot. Because the FO is estimating the Grid location he wants the barrage on. (Unless its pre registered or Defensive Fire plotted, which any troops in a prepared defensive position would quickly establish.)

Its your game and I wouldn't dream of suggesting how to tell you how to play, but there isn't much point trying to find answers in real practice to support limitations, in fact real practice would argue for more in game effectiveness.

In game terms I know players don't like the barrages but they are probably less effective in some ways than they would be in actuality.

Archdukek
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Re: Possible Barrage House Rules

Post by Archdukek » Sun Nov 11, 2018 7:48 pm

Sounds like my 12" minimum movement limit isn't justified after all! One lives and learns. :-)

John

andysyk
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Re: Possible Barrage House Rules

Post by andysyk » Sun Nov 11, 2018 8:52 pm

John
The Mortar Barrage is quite abstracted in the rules. But I can see why its done the way it is to keep it relatively simple. And still usable in game.

I know it can "spoil" a game for some and understand why.

In fact under 10.3.3 there is a chance it isn't available etc which seeing that it is generally a list four support cost quite limits enough in my mind.

I think like you said earlier a gentlemans agreement that it isn't available as a support option is sensible and feasible.

Altering the Barrage rules to further curtail them doesn't gel with actual practice/abilities.

But each to their own and Im the last one to say you cant question something or change it for your own games.

As a further note to the above post; you don't really need to minutely adjust though generally, as long as your target is adequately covered by the barrage it doesn't matter where it is in it! The effects the same.

I can see how in game if players are using an ongoing barrage to move about trying to catch units outside of the initial "target" that is a bit gamey and mostly due to the size of the game table and close proximity of models.

Fire Missions usually specify an amount of rounds to be fired and then the tubes will not fire more... unless a simple Repeat order is given. In real life if something popped up near your initial target you could walk the barrage on to it quite quickly and you can move the barrage easily but this is a constant use of ammo. Realistically you would call for the number of rounds you needed and then Repeat if necessary. Then observe if a new target appeared and call a new mission.

a more realistic way would be to give the FO so many Turns of Fire and he would have to specify how many turns his barrage lasted. But due to the elastic Turn process in COC I don't know how you would determine this, you could say- so many phases but this would effect many other rules already in the game.

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