Taming The Skulk

Michael Dorosh

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I could try, but just for my understanding: is the question how moving pieces around is maneuver?
The question is: How is moving an infantry unit back and forth in the space of 40 metres simply to avoid fire representative of tactical maneuver? What real life tactic is it supposed to represent? Your comments don't seem to mesh with the other comments here.
 

Treadhead

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Michael Dorosh said:
There is no real world rationale I can think of for running out the back door, then running back in - that logic simply escapes me, unless someone wants to explain it.
I think you are taking it at too fine a level.

First of all, the entire game system is abstracted into the concept of "phases", simply so that the game can be playable. In "reality", bullets would be flying at any/all times. But, "firing" only occurs at certain set "phases", likewise movement, etc.

Within the foundational abstraction, the game pieces are given certain capabilities, which are used within the structure. What you get at the end of a game turn is the situation after a long series of these abstractions. It is this end result (with the attendant drama) that is the goal.

The logical reasoning about unit ability, running out the back door, running back in, climbing into foxholes and being ready to fight... all of that stuff, while perhaps logically and realistically true, is just too fine at this level of abstraction.

If one is going to question the unit's ability to perform certain specific activities (realistically speaking), then you might as well include running directly out into the street, straight at the enemy. Your squad will do that unflinchingly, each and every single time you tell him to. Now that certainly wouldn't happen in "reality".

So why not a TC for running out into the open? "Realistically", it seems reasonable to me.

In fact, why not a TC for every activity that in some way could affect the cohesion of the unit "in reality". By cohesion, I mean the ability of the unit to still function as a fighting unit after the action is completed. Wouldn't just about every ASL activity have some effect on cohesion? Dashing... Bypass... hell, even entering a building and being ready to fight afterwards...

No... because then where would it stop?

Philosophically, I sometimes enjoy these types of discussions. Personally, I am very suspicious of ideas that want to change some fundamental part of the game system. Usually I am not convinced that the end result would be better than what currently exists.

I am not intrigued in this case, either.

Regards,
Bruce
 

Bob Holmstrom

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Well stated Bruce. I imagine that you, like many others here, have read/discussed realizm and ASL more than is healthy.
 

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I think you are taking it at too fine a level.

First of all, the entire game system is abstracted into the concept of "phases", simply so that the game can be playable. In "reality", bullets would be flying at any/all times. But, "firing" only occurs at certain set "phases", likewise movement, etc.

Within the foundational abstraction, the game pieces are given certain capabilities, which are used within the structure. What you get at the end of a game turn is the situation after a long series of these abstractions. It is this end result (with the attendant drama) that is the goal.

The logical reasoning about unit ability, running out the back door, running back in, climbing into foxholes and being ready to fight... all of that stuff, while perhaps logically and realistically true, is just too fine at this level of abstraction.

If one is going to question the unit's ability to perform certain specific activities (realistically speaking), then you might as well include running directly out into the street, straight at the enemy. Your squad will do that unflinchingly, each and every single time you tell him to. Now that certainly wouldn't happen in "reality".

So why not a TC for running out into the open? "Realistically", it seems reasonable to me.

In fact, why not a TC for every activity that in some way could affect the cohesion of the unit "in reality". By cohesion, I mean the ability of the unit to still function as a fighting unit after the action is completed. Wouldn't just about every ASL activity have some effect on cohesion? Dashing... Bypass... hell, even entering a building and being ready to fight afterwards...

No... because then where would it stop?

Philosophically, I sometimes enjoy these types of discussions. Personally, I am very suspicious of ideas that want to change some fundamental part of the game system. Usually I am not convinced that the end result would be better than what currently exists.

I am not intrigued in this case, either.

Regards,
Bruce
Exactly.

We are talking about an abstract game system played with cardboard pieces. As an abstraction, there will be inevitable variations from reality as percieved by various people. Except for the folks that feel compelled to raise the reality issue from time to time, the community seems to get by with the current level of deviation from "reality" as an acceptable least common denominator between the various different perceptions (and each person has their own...kinda like intestinal flora) of the "reality" of WWII combat.....was anybody on this Forums alive back then to see it? Sam?

It's a game folks. Not real life. There may be small-ish changes that might make the rules more "real", but I don't think this one fills the bill as "small-ish".

As always, JMMHO.
 

Michael Dorosh

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http://www.canadiansoldiers.com/mediawiki-1.5.5/index.php?title=Ortona

There are some notes on tactics at my page on the battle of Ortona above - the source material will be familiar to Jim McLeod.

Bruce, I disagree with your assertions; I think this is a case of something that - to Jim or to me, at least, just seem flat out wrong in its implementation - and I think very easily "fixable".

I can see your points about heroic infantry and agree - personally, I think it is time to move ASL to a computerized interface to handle the level of detail we have, and all those kinds of TC you mention could be easily accommodated. If there was a way to do that - handle book-keeping by computer - while maintaining the tactile "feel" of a cardboard boardgame with high quality components - you'd have a winner.

Until then, getting rid of some of the truly "silly" applications would be great. Bridge TEMs come up so rarely I'm not bothered one way or the other, but the skulking - like I said in the other thread, I recognize it as part of the game and don't object. But would be thrilled to see something easier to reconcile. If it looks that silly and we have to go to such lengths to justify it to ourselves, doesn't that suggest something?

You mention we have a phased system. Well, of course we do. And if a defensive player has opted to stand in his positions and fight, he should very well be subjected to enemy fire - DF as well as PF - within the context and scope of that system. It defies description to give him an easy option out of it. Despite Jim B's comments about outflanking the enemy - I can understand that, too - I suppose I just object to the goofiness of it all on the board. An ASL Feng Shui, if you will, or disharmony between form and function. If you want the defender to have defensive bonuses, then give them to him in the form of TEM, don't make him dance like a chicken on a hotplate to get them.

If nothing else, it simply makes a long game even longer. It was nerve wracking watching Portal maneuver those tweezers on those clumps of stacks - he's quite lithe for such a big man, though, if I may say so in all masculine sincerity - and I doubt I could have pulled it off with such grace...and then the charade of adancing everyone back again a couple phases later. YAWN. If there is some VALID reason I shouldn't be shooting at him, then present it in the defensive fire phase.

I always thought the Game Turn represents a simultaneous occurence of two player turns, broken into phases and done to ease book-keeping (no preplotted turns). With that in mind, think about what would happen if both PTs were simultaneous...why should the defender enjoy the ability to fire from a hex if he is actually moving out of it and back into it?

I'm willing to look at it purely from a standpoint of game design - so what about that, then? If you skulk, maybe you shouldn't be allowed to fire at all in the other guy's MPh.
 
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Michael Dorosh

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Incidentally, I've tried to follow my own challenge and "provide a source". The best I could do is my Ortona page. I'll see if I can't find something more substantial with regards to fighting from buildings or woods when I get a chance, though if we want to proceed purely from a game design (rather than a "realism") standpoint, I think one can prosecute a solid case based on that as well, given that the Game Turn is supposed to be a meld of two player turns.

Not that I doubt the notion of the importance of flanks as Jim B mentions; it is a common theme in any tactical problem of the day. But straight shoot-em-outs also occurred with regularity, particularly where Allied units could do so and win. I looked over the page on Singling, since it is well-known and the most detailed page one can find on the net, I think - as usual it concentrates on what the tanks were doing and is understandably lean on minute-by-minute accounts of what individual infantry squads were doing...made Jazz' point seem all the more apt.
 

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I'll also add that if troops are "getting out of the line of fire", it is because they are exposed to fire...skulking has no hazards.

On my basic training, I was told not to take cover in an advance unless under EFFECTIVE enemy fire. That was distinct from simple enemy fire. The difference being that EFFECTIVE enemy fire means bullets are splashing at your feet, or men are dropping.

So why in ASL would you allow men to shift position without modeling the effects of EFFECTIVE enemy fire (by permitting them to dodge return fire)? It's a cheat. You're saying they are moving out of the line of fire, but in the game they are not exposed to fire at all. So where is the logic in that?
MD, I really think you're looking at this ASL game tactic in too-literal of a sense.

Look at Skulking as a 2 to 3 Turn phenomenon. What skulking does is reduce the potential to affect the Defenders units (those units which skulk) by 50%--or 75% if Concealed/remaining concealed (in which case the Defender's fire is reduced 100%!). This represents the Defender taking much more of a 'hiding' role than an actively 'watching-for movement-and-firing' mode. (the unit which skulks is reducing his fire by 50%as well.)

It is an elegant game mechanic used to portray this "realistic" mode of defense.
 

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The question is: How is moving an infantry unit back and forth in the space of 40 metres simply to avoid fire representative of tactical maneuver? What real life tactic is it supposed to represent? Your comments don't seem to mesh with the other comments here.
Back and forth doesn't, but skulking doesn't necessarily mean your units will end up in the exact same location they started the MPh in.

More importantly, the most intuitive way of "fixing" this "problem" is to allow defensive first fire against units leaving a hex and going into cover. But that will discourage not only skulking, but all kinds of maneuver. That would be a disaster and significantly reduce the fun factor for the defender in ASL.

A nice property with skulking is that is increases the effects of being restricted to a confined space and also of being surrounded (since then, you're less likely to be able to skulk).

Besides, not every game mechanic need to simulate a real life tactic. ASL is a design for effect game, and if you don't like that school of design, skulking will be only the first in a long row of things you need to "fix".
 

Michael Dorosh

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MD, I really think you're looking at this ASL game tactic in too-literal of a sense.

Look at Skulking as a 2 to 3 Turn phenomenon. What skulking does is reduce the potential to affect the Defenders units (those units which skulk) by 50%--or 75% if Concealed/remaining concealed (in which case the Defender's fire is reduced 100%!). This represents the Defender taking much more of a 'hiding' role than an actively 'watching-for movement-and-firing' mode. (the unit which skulks is reducing his fire by 50%as well.)

It is an elegant game mechanic used to portray this "realistic" mode of defense.
Ok, so let's look at it as a 2-3 turn thing then. Why then can they fire in the enemy's Movement Phase?

More importantly, why the subterfuge? Why not just introduce some kind of game mechanic in which all this "hiding and watching" is simulated by having him stay in the same hex, hiding and watching? :) You're simulating hiding and watching by running outside and running back in?

I admit I am looking at this literally, because I see it as, if nothing else, an enormous time-waster if nothing else, in addition to doing one thing in order to simulate something else altogether.

The proponents of skulking are saying that in this case, movement is being used to represent troops taking cover. Movement=no movement.

Not very intuitive. Why not greater TEMs for defending units or something more elegant?

Let me put it another way - what is the problem with a unit simply staying in a hex and receiving fire in the DFPh? What is unrealistic about that? Why should we permit defending units an advantage over and above terrain TEM to do this? The massing of firepower on the attack if precisely how units "in the real deal" managed to overcome defensive positions - that and judicious use of maneuver, as pointed out by Jim B. and others. Still looking for a decent quotable example, but I hope we can all stipulate that. So why do we feel that the defender in ASL is at a disadvantage if not allowed to skulk?
 

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>It's a game folks. Not real life.

Yup. To me skulking feels right. The ability of the defender to avoid unnecessary fire. It is a great game tactic and the ability of different players to put it to good use separates the men from the boys. As does the ability of the attacker to minimize it's usefulness.

Just like the ability to see rout paths, key AT Gun positions, avenues of approach, point defenses, fall back methods, etc. Skulking is an ability that needs to be learned, honed and perfected.
 

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So why do we feel that the defender in ASL is at a disadvantage if not allowed to skulk?
Because the mechanics of the game don't simulate the real deal all that well. <SHRUG> I just dont see it as a problem. I hate playing against someone that is a good skulker because they are very hard to beat, but it does bring out what passes for my A-Game. Skulking is just a game tactic, no different then the time honored "sleaze-freeze." There are ways to overcome it. The game is all about maximizing your assets, economy of force, maneuver, and risk management. Account for it, just like you do a sleaze-freeze, and its no big deal. -- jim
 

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So why do we feel that the defender in ASL is at a disadvantage if not allowed to skulk?
It's not a matter of the relative strength/weakness of defense/attack, at least not to me.

In short, that is a defensive tactic that has been taken into consideration by scenario designers and playtesters. Not being able to sulk would "break" many existing scenarios....and playing scenarios with an equal chance of success for both sides is a very big reason that people play ASL scenarios.

You know, the whole intellectual competition between nerds thing.....
 

Michael Dorosh

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Because the mechanics of the game don't simulate the real deal all that well. <SHRUG> I just dont see it as a problem. I hate playing against someone that is a good skulker because they are very hard to beat, but it does bring out what passes for my A-Game. Skulking is just a game tactic, no different then the time honored "sleaze-freeze." There are ways to overcome it. The game is all about maximizing your assets, economy of force, maneuver, and risk management. Account for it, just like you do a sleaze-freeze, and its no big deal. -- jim
Ok, now this seems like a rational response to me.

In SL, it was possible to use armored halftracks in ahistorical ways, flood enemy infantry positions, etc. ASL came up with novel ways of preventing those tactics (creating some new "sleaze" in the process, IIRC, but I digress - I think they are less prevalent)...

I can let it go at this, Jim, since you admit that skulking is not realistic in the least and is simply "just a game tactic". I agree completely.

I'm not doubting the necessity of doing so in the game - and I agree with Robert Wolkey as well - I mean obviously, with it in the game, you would be foolish not to do it - but I think there would be ways to optimize the game experience, not just to satisfy the "grogs", but also

a) speed up play
b) make play more intuitive

I don't pretend to think it is likely that will happen at this point, however.

Good, respectful discussion by everyone, however.

For what it is worth, my suggestion is on the table. If we wanted to proceed from the proposition that skulking is bad, there would be a point in continuing that discussion, but if the discussion is going to centre on whether or not skulking is "okay" there is no point in trying to find a "cure"! :) So I'll bow out, unless anyone else is truly interested in discussing the 'cure'. Like I said, I recognize it is part of the game, so I feel no need to complain further. I "get" that it is a valid game tactic, and a necessary one. If that is the consensus, for purposes of this thread, we can go no further without a lot of friction.
 
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Doug Kirk

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ITS A GAME!!!!!!!

And a great game at that. Skulking is just part of the game. Lets not monkey with it, just play more and have fun.
 

RobZagnut

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>So why do we feel that the defender in ASL is at a disadvantage if not allowed to skulk?

Every scenario that I playtest where I'm the defender, I use skulking. My opponent uses it when I attack. It's inherently used in EVERY scenario we play. It's part of ASL.

All the scenarios we playtested would have to be changed to give the defender a lot more defending units to make up for all the FREE shots the attacker is getting in his Defensive Fire Phase.

Without skulking the defender would have to stand in position being outnumbered at the location of the attacker's choosing from a ratio of at least 2:1 up to 10:1 or more.

It would turn ASL into a game where the attacker just sat in large groups close to defending units and pounded them into submission with 2 fire attacks per turn.
 

Jim McLeod

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http://www.canadiansoldiers.com/mediawiki-1.5.5/index.php?title=Ortona

There are some notes on tactics at my page on the battle of Ortona above - the source material will be familiar to Jim McLeod.
Michael, very cool site you have there.

In your diagram of a church with a school to it's right (according to the perspective of the diagram) you have the Piazza identified as the Piazza Municipale. I've dug around quite a bit to determine it that is in fact correct.

I am of the opinion that the Piazza in question is in fact the Piazza San Francesco. I am almost certain of it. I do not believe that there is a school in the area of the Piazza Municipale but at the Piazza San Francesco there is a church with a school directly across from it.

I designed a scenario for an action there called "Dead Horse Square".

:)
 

Jim McLeod

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Here is another idea.

How about allowing a for of RFP to be left, assuming enemy units fired into that hex, in the hex vacated by the Skulkers. The Skulkers would then be subject to that RFP when the Advance back into the Location.

:)
 
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