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Alternate Fire Resolution Rules
10-05-2019, 02:21 AM, (This post was last modified: 10-05-2019, 07:25 AM by Mowgli.)
#1
Alternate Fire Resolution Rules
As this thread (http://www.theblitz.org/message_boards/s...?tid=47923) is closed, I had to open a new topic. I just did some quick tests to understand in more detail how the alternate fire resolution rules work.

Indirect Alternate Fire Rule (density modifier enabled; 100% carry over of indirect fire to other units in the hex; indirect fire power *2, MP cost for indirect fire *2)

The cost (in movement points) for firing is doubled. The fire value of the unit is doubled and applied individually to every single enemy unit (hard or softt doesn't matter) in the targeted hex. Each enemy unit divides the fire value according to its own defense value, doubles it if it is in marching column, etc. Additionally, there is also a density modifier so that the effect of the fire is reduced against smaller units. For example: I had the very same artillery unit fire at infantry units in the open. Against the smaller unit (size = 60 men), the fire value was 22. Against the larger unit (510 men), the fire value was 96. Further testing would be needed to find out where the threshold is (275? 300?).

Implications: If you concentrate many units in a single hex, artillery fire will hurt a lot. Especially if your units are large. Don't waste your indirect fire on hexes that only contain small enemy units. Your fire will be relatively ineffective.

Direct Alternate Fire Rule (density modifier enabled, 50% carry over of direct fire to other units in the hex)

When firing directly, you can still select a target unit. 100% of the fire value of your unit will be applied against that target unit. However, IF YOU'RE TARGETING A SOFT UNIT and there are other enemy units (soft or hard) present in the target hex, then these units are affected as well. It seems as if the fire against these "surplus" targets is is automatically reduced a factor of ca. 0.5. The same is true for opportunity fire, by the way. Opportunity fire will affect one unit with 100%, the other units in the hex with 50% of the fire value. (If you target a hard unit, then only the hard unit will be affected and there is no "carry over" fire to other enemy units in the hex)

In addition, all indirect fire (even the fire directed at the targeted unit) is affected by a density modifier. The smaller the unit, the bigger the loss of fire power. Again, the exact threshold when the malus starts to kick in is unkown. There seems to be no cap/limit on how big this malus can get (I've tested it up to *0.2; the targeted unit had a size of 28 men at that point). So by firing at small units, you can waste more than 80% of your potential fire power!

Implications: Smaller units are harder to kill and are usually a waste of fire power. Aim your fire at large units. Also, having many units in a single hex is bad as a portion (ca. 50%) of any direct fire directed at a unit in the hex will also affect the other units. 

[Note that the density malus for firing at small units does not apply under default direct fire rules*. However, even with default rules, you can notice changes of fire values depending on the target (even if two targets have identical defence values).  But it's hard to put the finger on the exact rule behind that. It's not documented in the manual. ]

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*Examples for the density factor

Under default direct fire rules, I had a unit fire at an enemy unit which had a manpower of ca. 250 men. My unit's fire value was 260. Then I had the same unit fire at another enemy unit (same defence and cover as the other unit...) which had a manpower of ca. 70 men. My unit's fire value was the same: 260.
Under alterante direct fire rules, I had the very same unit fire at the same units. My fire value against the larger unit (260 men) was 238. So there is a slight loss of fire power. This loss was even more pronounced against the smaller unit, against which I only had a fire value of 117.

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I also want to point out that I don't know how combined units are treated when the density modifier is active. I guess it's better keep units split-up so that they're smaller and profit from the density malus. On the other hand, combining units is still a means for deception, for misleading the opponent about your real strength.

Generally, these are very powerfull rule-changes which can significantly shift the balance of scenarios. Especially fully stacked hexes (--> at objectives) can be broken up more easily by artillery if the alternate indirect fire rule is active. If there are no supply sources in a scenario (so that ZoC/isolating is not that important), these rules can be a means for designers to keep forces fluid and spead-out a bit more.
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10-05-2019, 05:21 AM, (This post was last modified: 10-05-2019, 05:21 AM by Mr Grumpy.)
#2
RE: Alternate Fire Resolution Rules
Thanks for your test results that demonstrate how using the Alt fire rules can considerably alter the fire results, I agree that using these rules can skew a scenario towards one side or the other and this is why I keep warning players to be careful when selecting non default optional rules if they a not aware of their effects.

The Alt fire rules are on by default in only a few PzC titles and it just so happens these are not titles that I played, so when I moved on to the WW1 series (where these rules are on by default in all the titles) I had to unlearn a lot of tactics that used in PzC because if you abuse the stacking limits in the WW1 titles you will suffer horrendous casualties. 

I had never been 100% comfortable with the tactic in PzC where you could max out the stacking limits while next to enemy units without suffering any penalty, also being able to select individual units from a defending stack for direct or indirect fire seemed (to me) to be too precise for WW2 combat, so I am much happier with the fire rules in the WW1 titles where this is not possible.

Coming back to your comments about combining units or breaking them down into their separate components I wanted to highlight that as well as losses in casualties you have to consider accumulated fatigue as well, a combined battalion suffers far less fatigue than individual company's, so having the unit combined not only masks its strength it also minimises fatigue although I realise that this is not always possible when you need a battalion to cover a wider area than one hex.
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10-05-2019, 06:52 AM, (This post was last modified: 10-05-2019, 07:49 AM by Mowgli.)
#3
RE: Alternate Fire Resolution Rules
(10-05-2019, 05:21 AM)Mr Grumpy Wrote: Thanks for your test results that demonstrate how using the Alt fire rules can considerably alter the fire results, I agree that using these rules can skew a scenario towards one side or the other and this is why I keep warning players to be careful when selecting non default optional rules if they a not aware of their effects.

The Alt fire rules are on by default in only a few PzC titles and it just so happens these are not titles that I played, so when I moved on to the WW1 series (where these rules are on by default in all the titles) I had to unlearn a lot of tactics that used in PzC because if you abuse the stacking limits in the WW1 titles you will suffer horrendous casualties. 

I had never been 100% comfortable with the tactic in PzC where you could max out the stacking limits while next to enemy units without suffering any penalty, also being able to select individual units from a defending stack for direct or indirect fire seemed (to me) to be too precise for WW2 combat, so I am much happier with the fire rules in the WW1 titles where this is not possible.

Coming back to your comments about combining units or breaking them down into their separate components I wanted to highlight that as well as losses in casualties you have to consider accumulated fatigue as well, a combined battalion suffers far less fatigue than individual company's, so having the unit combined not only masks its strength it also minimises fatigue although I realise that this is not always possible when you need a battalion to cover a wider area than one hex.

I haven't played a lot with the alternate fire rules yet. I just started a France '40 PBEM where they're activated by default, that's why I was taking a closer look. On paper I really like the rules. Like you, I think that monster-stacking is a bit over-powered and also a bit immersion breaking, given that a hex is about a km². I think a harsher stacking limit would also be nice, but the alternate rules are certainly nice to have. Especially in scenarios in which supply plays a minor role, there are no immediate repercussions for stacking half a division into a single hex.

The worst offender in pretty much the whole game for me is when half a division can profit from a so called "bunker" or "pillboxes" in a hex. I've played through some of the Sicily scenarios and I know a bit about the campain. Some places were indeed fortified by an arrangement of 4-6 pillboxes. But you could hardly fit a single company into them and they were easily neutralized by arty. So I'm very sceptical when it comes to bunkers and large stacking limits. Bunkers and pillboxes should really be reserved for very extensive fortifications and tunnel systems, but the 4 pillboxes crewed by 20 people is no reason to put them on the map of an operational game (an IP or trench at max would do!). But then again it's more of a scenario-design issue rather than an issue of the game itself. I guess some kind of "fortification stacking limit" or something like that would be nice to have.

Perhaps the alt fire rules can even help to balance games for H2H play? In particular, I'm thinking about those "single objective hex" scenarios in which the defender can just put all his best units into the objective hex, care a little bit about not getting isolated and is usually fine for the rest of the game. These scenarios are quite boring in H2H. The alternate fire rules should favour the attacker, as he is the one who can decide when to concentrate and attack (the night is well suited for secretly massing troops!), whereas the defender needs to be concentrated first or else risks being prevented from massing his troops in time. At the same time, the attacker must also strike quickly once he has massed his troops. If he takes too long, the defender's arty will shatter the attack. This once more puts emphasis on manoeuver (how fast can I concentrate my units, how fast can they attack). The terrain, visibility and unit movement speed are all important factors here. I like that. I also think the alternate fire rules make fatigue a bigger concern.

Good points about the combined units. The implications of "many small versus few large" units are a real brain-twister  Propeller Hat . I think overall, the advantages* and disadvantages** of smaller units are about evenly balanced. And indeed, I really like that you can use the combine-feature to deceive the opponent. ("XXX" can be anything!)

* small units suffer lower casualties if alt fire rules are on, many small units provide the enemy a greater number of targets (so some are spared; especially if the alt. indirect fire rule is not active, you'll have a hard time disrupting all of them in a single turn, and some will rally in their next turn...), smaller units give you more counters that you can spread out --> larger controlled area (very usefull to cut enemy supply and to prevent the enemy from penetrating your front) and larger observed/spotted areea, more manoeuverable (not as much road stacking fiddlyness)
** smaller units more easily forced to conduct morale tests, they are less resistant against fatigue accumulation, they have a smaller fire power (one big value is better than several small ones because fractions only have a chance to be rounded up; --> so I guess one should prefer whole numbers; it's better to inflict 3 certain casualties and have a chance to inflict a fourth rather than to have 4* a chance to inflict a single casualty...)

PS: I've made a small update in my first post. Carry over of direct fire only occurs if a soft unit is targeted.
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