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Guidelines on which Optional rules to use and articles detailing their effects.
09-07-2008, 12:49 AM, (This post was last modified: 10-02-2012, 05:41 AM by Mr Grumpy.)
#1
zWrite a Note  Guidelines on which Optional rules to use and articles detailing their effects.
This article was put together by myself, but is based on an earlier article by Jarrel Crider and draws on info contained in the user manual, thanks also to RickyB and Dog Soldier for their input and ideas.

Optional Rules In Panzer Campaigns/Modern Campaigns/First World War Campaigns
Some players in Panzer Campaigns will automatically try to use all the possible optional rules (OR) included in the game, without giving too much thought as to how they may affect play balance or realism. However, most of the Panzer Campaign OR have significant impacts on play balance and certain combinations of rules can lead to less realistic play. It is also unfortunately true that a small minority of players will try to use OR that slant a scenario to their advantage.

Below are the three types of scenarios that are used on the TOC ladder and my guidelines of which OR to use.....

Stock scenarios (scenarios included with the title disc or download)
Apart from the first title released (Smolensk ’41) all the titles have OR set by default by the title designer and so I would strongly suggest you stick to just the default OR if you are unsure of the effects they have, it should be noted that the default OR vary from title to title.
Volcano Man _alt scenarios
Always use the same OR detailed in this post VM Opt Rules
Player Mod/Custom scenarios
Use the OR listed in any text or word doc included with the files, otherwise use the titles default OR.

Below is the AI selection dialogue box which you see when you set up a scenario, the Rules button will access the OR dialogue box.
[Image: 331c43f313Opt rules button..JPG]

Below is the OR dialogue box, the default rules can be set by clicking the Default button, also the Help button will allow you to access OR info from the manual.
[Image: 0d74e7cc91Default and help.jpg]
*Note*If your opponent set up the scenario and you wish to check if the correct OR have been selected, then when you open the first turn you should select the “settings” drop down menu and the OR your opponent selected are listed there.

This article is intended to give my view of the various OR available and try to give some guidance of the effect they have on play.
(In the text below PDT stands for Parameter Data Table which can be viewed by pressing F4 while the scenario is open.)

Manual Defensive Fire
This rule allows you to play the game in phases, as 99% of players play these titles with the default single phase I will not discuss this rule.

Automatic Defensive Fire
Again to be used with the above rule and so not for this article.

Alternative Indirect Fire Resolution
Indirect Fire of non-mortar, non-heavy weapon units is conducted under different rules. First, each such Indirect Fire is doubled in fire value, but the cost of firing is doubled (so arty units will only fiire once). Second, such Indirect Fire is applied against all units in the target hex, proportional to their strength, instead of being applied against a single target unit, so the more men/vehicles/guns you have stacked in a hex the greater your losses will be, the fact you cannot target an individual unit could be seen as more realistic.

Alternative Air Strike Resolution
Air Strikes are applied against all units in the target hex, proportional to their strength, instead of being applied against a single target unit, so the more men/vehicles/guns you have stacked in a hex the greater your losses will be, the fact you cannot target an individual unit could be seen as more realistic.

Alternative Direct Fire Resolution
Direct Fire and Indirect Fire of mortar or heavy weapon units is conducted under different rules. Although a target may be selected, under this rule, if the target unit is not a Hard Target, then the resulting fire is dispersed and affects the other units in the target hex, so the more soft units you have stacked in a hex the greater your losses will be, the fact you cannot target an individual soft units could be seen as more realistic.

Alternative Assault Resolution
Alternative Assault resolution makes hard units (i.e. tanks) more difficult to assault with infantry since infantry must use its hard attack strength instead of assault strength when assaulting hard units. The hard attack strength of infantry units is typically about one-third the assault strength so the rule will make assaulting hard units with infantry alone much more difficult. This rule is often used to reflect the situation in the early war years when “Panzer Panic” was rife and AT defence weak or non existent.

Artillery Set Up
Under Artillery Set Up units are no longer capable of indirect fire immediately after moving. Each turn after artillery has deployed from movement, the unit has a % chance of setting up for indirect fire, the % chance is set in the PDT which can be accessed by pressing F4.
This rule is often default in most titles.

Recon Spotting
Allows reconnaissance units to spend a third of their movement points to attempt to spot units within their LOS. Obviously this rule will favour players with more reconnaissance assets. Its use is pretty universal in PBEM games.

Virtual Supply Trucks
This rule was the result of repeated player requests for more realistic supply constraints as the default supply rules are quite basic. Major roads become much more important in the supply network since supplies move more freely along them, the rule computes a path of minimum movement cost for a motorized unit in Travel Mode between the Supply Sources and the location of friendly forces on the map. This movement cost is then used to compute the drop in supply value between the Supply Source and the friendly force, so unlike the default supply rules the further you move from your supply base the lower the supply you will receive especially if you are in difficult terrain. Use of this rule will favour the defending player in most situations since the attacker will have to secure a road network in order to continue deep penetrations and is best used in large PBEM games and always for desert titles.

Optional Surrender
When this rule is selected, then Broken units which have been assaulted and have lost the assault, but have no valid retreat are eliminated.
This rule will help the attacking player and should not be used unless the historical situation in the scenario justifies it.

Low Visibility Air Effects
This is an OR that causes conditions of low visibility to result in reductions in air unit availability. The exact reductions are determined by parameter data. See the PDT (F4) to determine the exact % values that apply to a given scenario.
This rule is often default in most titles.

Quality Fatigue Modifier
A very powerful rule that reduces the fatigue of A/B quality units and increases the fatigue of D/E/F quality units (C quality units are unchanged), in a scenario where one side has high quality units (A/B), this rule could unbalance a game significantly by allowing one side to remain on the offensive for much longer periods and in a title such as S41 where most German units are A quality and most Russian units are D quality the effect may be far more dramatic than in S43 where although the A/B German units would gain an advantage the Allied units are mostly C quality and so unaffected.

Optional Fire Results
Do not use unless set by default, for more info see the OR help section.

Optional Assault Results
Do not use unless set by default, for more info see the OR help section.

Locking Zones of Control
Selecting this rule prevents units moving through an enemy ZOC into an adjacent friendly occupied hex, this movement is allowed by default and this rule should not be used as it allows the attacker to trap defensive units more easily.

Higher Fatigue Recovery
This rule allows fatigue to be recovered more quickly, it should not be used as it encourages unhistorical 24/7 fighting.

Indirect Fire and Air Strikes by The Map
This rule allows artillery and air to attack units that are not presently spotted by friendly units. Used in conjunction with aerial reconnaissance, it can devastate rear area artillery and moving T mode units. Although the fire strength is one-fourth of the normal attack strength, the results are still deadly versus vulnerable units. Most titles already have random interdiction (set by the PDT) and so those losses can be amplified by use of this rule in combination with aerial reconnaissance against enemy units in T mode. Use this rule with caution as it may greatly affect balance.

Counterbattery Fire
Allows non-phasing player to spot attacking artillery units which fire and can even trigger return fire from non phasing batteries which are in range, the % chance of counterbattery fire is set by the PDT (F4). Will also tilt balance more toward players with stronger, longer-ranged artillery.

Night Fatigue
With this rule selected, units that are active during Night turns will accumulate fatigue, this is historical and discourages players from fighting 24/7 and should always be used.
This rule is often default in most titles.

No Low Fuel Effects
Another rule that should not be used as it would allow players to use their mechanised units in an unhistorical manner.

Explicit Supply
An alternate way of supplying units in a scenario using actual supply units, this rule is excellent for the desert titles as it represents well the supply problems that existed in the desert, but some players do not like having to micromanage their supply, only standard scenarios with an “s” at the end of the filename can use this rule, or some user created Mod scenarios that may not have the "s" but are set up to use explicit supply (see scenario designer notes).

Programmed Weather
With this rule selected the weather will follow a set pattern of possible weather by each specific day determined by a Weather.dat file rather than a variable set of parameters, if no Weather.dat file is included in the scenario then selecting this rule has no effect.

Limited Air Recon
When this rule is selected, then enemy units spotted using air recon cannot be targeted for air or artillery attacks unless the enemy unit is also seen by a friendly ground unit that is eligible to spot for the attack (or by using a "By Map" attack, see above rule). Because a % chance of interdiction is possible, this rule is often selected to prevent air attacks on units in T mode.

Delayed Disruption
Delayed disruption does not guarantee you will not see the defender disrupt, sometimes you will see the disruption as in standard game play, sometimes it will be hidden. This OR was added because it was deemed to easy for an attacker to know exactly when to launch an assault, with this OR on some guess work will be involved.


Optional Rules in MC titles
The explaination of the MC Opt rules are the same as for PzC/FWWC with the following additions.

Artillery Set Up
Under Artillery Set Up units are no longer capable of indirect fire immediately after moving. Each turn after artillery has deployed from movement, the unit has a % chance of setting up for indirect fire, the % chance is set in the PDT which can be accessed by pressing F4. Due to the speed of modern artillery setup, this rule is generally off by default in the MC series of games, unlike the PzC series.

Nuclear Scenario Termination
This rule ends the scenario at any point that one side has a major victory and at least half the game turns have been played, assuming a global nuclear war has begun. This is rarely used, definitely don't select it for shorter scenarios.

Blocking Helicopter EliminationThis rule causes any flying or non-man helicopter units to be destroyed that are blocking an enemy unit from retreating from an assault allowing the enemy unit to retreat into it's hex. This rule is on by default and is designed to prevent the gamey use of helos to prevent the retreat of enemy units, and is a must choice to have on.

Optional Rules in FWWC titles
Having been a test player on the FWWC project, i would strongly suggest using only the default OR (that the scenarios were tested with) to retain maximum H2H balance.

I hope that helps some of our newer players to understand this grey area of the game system.
09-11-2008, 09:05 AM, (This post was last modified: 08-26-2014, 05:47 AM by Mr Grumpy.)
#2
zWrite a Note  RE: Article about the use and effects of Optional rules in PzC titles.
Here are my additions to what Mr Grumpy has already done.


Generally not used in PBEM
Manual Defensive Fire
Automatic Defensive Fire

There is no effect to using ADF by itself. PBEM games do not need this unless you want the phased play as Foul mentions. The AI will control all defensive fire by default. ADF will change that only when used with MDF to reduce the number of phases required per turn by one. Beginners to the series tend to read how these two rules act incorrectly.


Used as Default Settings by Game Design
Alternative Indirect Fire Resolution
Alternative Air Strike Resolution
Alternative Direct Fire Resolution
Alternative Assault Resolution
Optional Fire Results
Optional Assault Results

The Alternative combat resolution ORs listed above can be changed. But doing so can ruin the VP scoring for the scenario and have very different results than the designed scenario. The feel of combat will be altered when these are changed from the default. In general, larger units will suffer more casualties with the Alt DF and AS ORs while smaller units will suffer more casualties when attacked by larger units using the Alt Assault Resolution. It is best to see if the opposing sides have relatively the same size units. In that case neither is favored when changing this set of ORs The VP scoring may still not work well in presenting a fair challenge if you change these from the title's default settings.


Adds realism
Artillery Set Up
Recon Spotting
Virtual Supply Trucks
Low Visibility Air Effects
Counter battery Fire
Night Fatigue
Explicit Supply
Programmed Weather
Limited Air Recon

The ORs in this category will enhance the realism of the simulation. All create additional choices for the commander to think about. I have made a few comments on some of these rules. Foul has covered them very well in his post at the top of this thread.

Artillery Set-Up reflects the capabilities of the opposing sides, Axis and Allied. This means Italy and Axis minor allies like Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria will all receive the same values as the Germans if present in the scenario. In later war titles the Balkan Axis allies will take on the Russian values when they switch sides. Early War Neutrals will have the same values as the Allied side in the game. This only effects how quickly the side can get it's batteries ready to fire for effect. Hitting a target is more a matter of morale and fatigue.

Recon Spotting - The only thing I would add to Foul's comment is this OR allows recon units to do what recon units should do. Find the enemy. Without it, recon units are treated more as security and second line infantry or armor.

VST - I would add that without VST, some pretty weird things can happen. This does not mean these things will happen, but they can. For example, a unit on the wrong side of a river might be able to trace a line of open hexes to the enemy's board edge. Without VST, they are in full supply! VST creates the opportunity to form hedgehogs and hold out against encirclement in the enemy rear if a supply point is within your hedgehog. The 101st AB defense of Bastonge is a great example of how VST can modify the supply of the encircled forces. While they are not as well supplied as units at the front, they are no longer subject to the devastating effects of isolation.

Programmed Weather - I would add to Foul's comment that not using this rule does have an effect. Weather is now somewhat unreliable, within the parameters of the time period. You will not get a snow storm in July, but you could get a thunder storm with the resultant mud! Heavy overcast and humidity could cause visibility to lower. A constant rain like in Normandy or Italy could reduce visibility to 1km. Then again on a clear day you can see forever! Or the rare five km in your scenario..

Limited Air Recon - I put this OR in the historical category, even though it has an obvious effect on play balance. The rule was introduced to simulate the periods in the war for various nationalities when ground attack aircraft were confined to the front lines during a particular battle. This is not to be interpreted as no air units attacked the rear areas. It just means the ones you, the ground commander directly control will only accept missions directed by your troops laying the appropriate smoke to mark the target. This OR is a default in some titles. Note that there can be a high interdiction value in the pdt file for the side considered to have air superiority. Using this OR with that pdt setting gives the designer the ability to simulate air power with a minimal amount of ground commander control over the air units. You are the commander of the ground forces. Most air commanders in WW2 were not controlled by you anyway.

I want to play a board game.
Optional Surrender
Locking Zones of Control

These two rules were added to the series for those who remember "pushing cardboard" on a table top game. Used together, they bring back the feel of those old game models.


Play balance
Quality Fatigue Modifier
Higher Fatigue Recovery
Indirect Fire and Air Strikes by The Map
No Low Fuel Effects

The OR's listed in this category all have more of an effect on play balance than realism. The exception is QFM which does both functions. When players have discovered they are of very different skill levels, these ORs can even up the battlefield to allow the weaker player more of a fair chance. Consider them crutches to be used until you can run with the wolves. Beware of sharks using these rules to tip the scenario in their favor!

The power of the ORs is not in each rule itself, but the combination of OR used in your game.

That is all I have to say about that.
Forrest Gump - A military genius according to his sergeant major.

Dog Soldier
Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.
- Wyatt Earp


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