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Old 05-18-2015, 07:24 PM   #1
PTTG
 
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Default Mass Combat battle strategy: Destroy enemy element!

I'd like to build a house rule to allow commanders to counter specific enemy units. I propose it would operate like this:

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Destroy Specific Element: Focus your attack on a specific kind of enemy element. This is an Attack Strategy, and the commander receives a -2 battle strategy modifier.

Because focused fire perforce demands that the disregards some threats, a side with this takes 5% more casualties, and the opposing side takes 10% fewer casualties. However, if the strategy is successful, the commander may immediately select which enemy units suffer the casualties for this round.
The problem is this demands that the GM recalculate relative strength of forces for the next round. Annoying, yes, but also kind of the whole point; if you're willing to sacrifice a large number of men and gamble that you're smart enough to take out some key part of the enemy forces, you better get something out of it.

I imagine players using this in a WWII campaign to send fighters in to take out incoming bombers, never mind the escorts, or in a fantasy campaign to wade through the skeleton armies to face the necromancers directly.

Other problems: this might make it too easy to try and "decapitate" other PC forces by attempting to Destroy Specific Element the enemy C3I elements.
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Old 05-18-2015, 08:36 PM   #2
Skarg
 
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Default Re: Mass Combat battle strategy: Destroy enemy element!

The effectiveness of targeting seems too absolute, to me.

For example, in World War II carrier battles, bombers were often tasked with attacking only the enemy carriers in a battle group, but their escorting fighters would have to engage any enemy fighters, and the bombers would sometimes fail to get any hits on the carriers, and might sometimes end up bombing other ships.

In another example, in a World War II land battle where the enemy has some tanks, you might love to take those out first, but you can't just ignore the enemy infantry, and the enemy may have they tanks be cautious enough you don't get much chance to target them.

And of course in your example where someone wants to target the enemy leaders first, or the wizards... that could often be difficult or impossible.

So realistically it would be situation-specific but in most cases somehow limited how successful it is possible to be at concentrating on certain elements. There should probably be another roll (contest of tactics?) with modifiers, to see how effective the side using this tactic is in allocating damage to the desired target, and it should rarely be absolute unless the situation allows it (e.g. spaceship combat where everything's in range and nothing has any way to hide).
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Old 05-18-2015, 10:02 PM   #3
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Default Re: Mass Combat battle strategy: Destroy enemy element!

Maybe simply have it be related to the margin of success? Like, you can distribute 2*(margin of success)% damage to specific targets, but can do no other (significant) damage.
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Old 05-19-2015, 02:19 AM   #4
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Mass Combat battle strategy: Destroy enemy element!

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Originally Posted by PTTG View Post
Other problems: this might make it too easy to try and "decapitate" other PC forces by attempting to Destroy Specific Element the enemy C3I elements.
Yes. And other rare-Element types too. It's a big problem.

I'm still contemplating the implementation of the mass combat rules for my own homebrew RPG design, and I don't think I'll offer a "Targeted Attack" option at all. It's far too likely to be used in a fashion that would never occur in a realistic large-battle situation.

And if I were to offer one, I'd give much harsher penalties than the ones you suggest. Much harsher. And I'd give each such "Element" (I call them someting else) that is likely to be the subject of a targeted attack a set of "Resist Targeted Attack" values. This way you can have regular Engineers with little or no DR, or semi-paranoid Dwarven Engineers wearing head-to-toe Heavy Plate.

One thing I've thought about, for my system, would be to include a pseudo-spatial element in force composition, so that the character commanding each army must designate all Units as either vanguard, front-flank, ranged front, center, reserves or rear (including a lot of roleplay concerns, with some NPCs or some Unit types getting insulted if they don't get a honourable, a.k.a. suicidal, position), and with leaders (using Leadership and Tactics/Strategy) spatial position moving around too, e.g. whether or not the leader character is at the front or not during any given battle turn (with being at the front obviously being more personally dangerous).

If something like that is implemented then it becomes very easy to handle such situations, and also much less exploitable since a C3I Element would never be in the front line, where it is easy to make a targeted attack against it, anyway

Changing GURPS Mass Combat to use such a pseudo-spatial positioning system would be non-trivial, though, and even if you wanted to, all I currently have are some quite vague ideas.

Really, I think the default mode, that damage is evenly distributed between those who do the actual fighting (this would not include C3I, and also not the Engineers unless it's a siege), is a good model for how Mass Combat should work.

If someone seriously wants to make a targeted attack, it can be roleplayed out using the GURPS rules, as a commando mission. E.g. send a small group (perhaps a PC party) behind enemy lines to pollute the purity of the sancitifed rations of the contingent of Anti-Undead Clerics (so as to thwart their Power Modifier, in GURPS terms), or similar.
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Old 05-19-2015, 03:36 AM   #5
Michele
 
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Default Re: Mass Combat battle strategy: Destroy enemy element!

Huh, guys... isn't it simpler to just use the existing Neutralizing Classes rules, p. 6?

There are several examples of actual historical element types, also listed in the tables, that have this. Pikemen neutralize cavalry, ATGMs neutralize armor, etc.
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Old 05-19-2015, 08:48 AM   #6
Donny Brook
 
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Default Re: Mass Combat battle strategy: Destroy enemy element!

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Other problems: this might make it too easy to try and "decapitate" other PC forces by attempting to Destroy Specific Element the enemy C3I elements.
What if you change the mechanic a little bit so that instead of inflicting damage on specific units you neutralize them for a period of time?
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Old 05-19-2015, 10:21 AM   #7
Peter Knutsen
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Default Re: Mass Combat battle strategy: Destroy enemy element!

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What if you change the mechanic a little bit so that instead of inflicting damage on specific units you neutralize them for a period of time?
That's been a core component of GURPS' Mass Combat rules ever since 3rd Edition. Also one of the reasons I like those rules so much, the whole pikemen-counters-cavalry, clerics-counter-undead, et cetera, -thing. It's so neat.
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Old 05-19-2015, 11:45 AM   #8
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Default Re: Mass Combat battle strategy: Destroy enemy element!

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Other problems: this might make it too easy to try and "decapitate" other PC forces by attempting to Destroy Specific Element the enemy C3I elements.
This is an entirely valid tactic - it's just not that easy. AFAIK it was performed successfully against the Iraqi Army during Desert Storm, which did a lot to precipitate their rout, but that was achieved with a significant tech advantage.
The penalties, as already noted, should be severe.
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Old 05-19-2015, 11:53 AM   #9
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Default Re: Mass Combat battle strategy: Destroy enemy element!

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Originally Posted by Peter Knutsen View Post
That's been a core component of GURPS' Mass Combat rules ever since 3rd Edition. Also one of the reasons I like those rules so much, the whole pikemen-counters-cavalry, clerics-counter-undead, et cetera, -thing. It's so neat.
Right, but I see this strategy as attempting to specifically _destroy_ parts of the enemy forces to deny them their advantage not only in one battle, but in following ones too...

Hmm... how about that? If the enemy force is retreating and you're attacking, a roll against Tactics allows you to cut off and destroy specific fleeing units depending on margin of success? So you have to break the enemy lines, but you can shoot down their flamethrower squads.
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Old 05-19-2015, 01:51 PM   #10
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Default Re: Mass Combat battle strategy: Destroy enemy element!

I have a hard time seeing how there could be a generic rule for it. As I wrote before, I think the difficulty and effects would depend way too much on the specifics.

"Concentrate fire on that super star destoyer!" - "Ok, there it is, let's aim and fire."

"Concentrate on killing the enemy king and his generals!" - "Um... ok, where are they? In their rear somewhere? What about the 6,000 footmen between us and them?"

1941: "Concentrate on the enemy tanks!" - "The few anti-tank weapons we have will, and if we ever get close enough, we may try some grenades, but otherwise, most of us just have rifles and machineguns, which can't really do anything to their tanks, and they have lots of infantry too, so surely you can't mean we fire bullets at their tanks, right?"
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