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Old 09-12-2017, 09:27 PM   #1
wolf90
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Default The cost of specialist Infantry

We've been plugging away at a number of tasks here in CP Fnord, and I've come across an issue that I would like people to weigh in upon. That issue is the cost (or even existence) of sub-specialized Infantry.

First off, the "basic" specialized Infantry (Marines, HWTs and Combat Engineers) are all well-known to cost twice that of standard Infantry, or 4 VP per squad. But where I've hit a wall is what sub-specialized Infantry should cost.

We have posted draft rules for Heavy Weapon Teams, and included in them is the concept of Marine HWTs. Additionally, a draft of Combat Engineer rules are up, and although not specifically mentioned in that treatise, the idea of Marine Engineers was broached in the first edition of Ogre Miniatures. So sub-specialized Infantry are not new, just less socialized.

In the HWTs posting, I proposed that Marine HWT squads cost 3x that of a standard Infantry squad (6 VP). I got to that cost through the Cobb calculator along with some internal discussions. However, I initially started with the idea that you double the cost with each specialization, or 4x the cost of standard Infantry (8 VP) for Marine HWTs. With some retrospection, I think my first instinct was correct. (Note: Marine Combat Engineers are given a 5 VP cost in Ogre Miniatures!).

My argument is as follows: First, specialist Infantry should be rare, and expensive. They shouldn't be "balanced" against other units; quite the opposite. They should only be "worth it" in very specialized situations or specific scenarios. Otherwise why take regular Infantry? A HVY, GEV or MSL and a single squad of Infantry should most of the time be a better choice than a single Marine HWT squad (both 8 VP).

Second, the war machine of the Last War was cranking out battlesuits and tanks as fast as it could. Taking the time to develop the specialized battlesuits and train the soldiers in their use generally took too long. Plus, later in the war as the powers moved to the Factory States era, there wasn't the R&D to develop these weapon systems. What remained of functional military command was just picking over the bones of previous empires.

Finally, the VP cost may be discarded when needed during scenario construction. Say you want to create a scenario around a number of islands in an inland sea? The scenario might automatically grant Marine status to all Infantry. The point is that currently published scenarios haven't been vetted through these sub-specialized Infantry, and the risk of "breaking" a scenario is very real.

So, despite the calculated cost of 3x standard Infantry for these sub-specialists, I'm proposing that the published cost be 4x. Obviously, everyone is free to play as they choose, but we need to put something out there!

So . . . what do you all think?

D.
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Old 09-12-2017, 10:04 PM   #2
tomc
 
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Default Re: The cost of specialist Infantry

You're reasoning works for me.

The value of a specialist unit depends on the situation, so I think "balancing" them with a high cost for previously published scenarios makes sense.

Generally I like to see the type and amount of specialty units specified in the scenario set up. They are supposed to be scarce after all, not widely available like the standard units.

I do like the option to take a few to support a particular strategy, and making them expensive means you need to have confidence that they'll pay off.
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Old 09-12-2017, 11:41 PM   #3
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Default Re: The cost of specialist Infantry

I would ask the question: what is the value you plan to get by having the sub-specialization?

Is there a need in the game to create such limited-use INF? What niche are you trying to fill in the game? On the face of it, they sound like a solution looking for a problem to me.
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Old 09-13-2017, 08:08 AM   #4
dwalend
 
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Default Re: The cost of specialist Infantry

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolf90 View Post
In the HWTs posting, I proposed that Marine HWT squads cost 3x that of a standard Infantry squad (6 VP).
That seems about right, and matches what I've been using for a few decades. (I can't quote chapter and verse on this one. No idea where I got the notion.)

Quote:
I initially started with the idea that you double the cost with each specialization, or 4x the cost of standard Infantry (8 VP) for Marine HWTs.
That seems high compared to 6 VP alternatives. How much swamp and water does a map have to have to get you to choose a Marine HWT over a HVY? How much swamp does the map have to have to get you to choose a Marine HWT over a GEV?

To argue against 8 VP: Consider targets offered to an opponent. Under what circumstances would you prefer a single D1 target with Marine and HWT capabilities vs. two D1 targets (that could unite to be a D2 target) with the capabilities split? For 8 VP you can get both specializations and double the defense. At 8 VP the specialists will only come out of the box for scenarios that proscribe units. It'd be better economy of force to float your HWT on GEV-PCs or a patrol boat.

Also, there's the issue of making change. Some of us argued in the ODE edits for using VP instead of AU, but AU values won the day.

I do think that double specialists (at 6 VP) should be part of the game, and think that the single D1 target penalty is fine for pentuple specialists at 12 VP. (They get a free BPC folding umbrella for cruise missiles.) Specialized infantry suits let a player commit to a specific tactic with all the drama that entails, and make for great storytelling.

As a tiny argument against - someone will ask SJGames to print counters or make miniatures.

Last edited by dwalend; 09-13-2017 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 09-13-2017, 03:38 PM   #5
selenite
 
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Default Re: The cost of specialist Infantry

Quote:
Originally Posted by wolf90 View Post
So, despite the calculated cost of 3x standard Infantry for these sub-specialists, I'm proposing that the published cost be 4x. Obviously, everyone is free to play as they choose, but we need to put something out there!

So . . . what do you all think?

D.
8 VP per squad is essentially the same as saying "These units may not be chosen as part of normal force selection. They may only be used when part of a scenario's special set-up."

Which I can live with, as much as I'd love seeing the infantry taking a more active role.
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Old 09-13-2017, 04:36 PM   #6
sparky00
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Default Re: The cost of specialist Infantry

I concur with TomC completely.

Historically, specialist infantry were drawn from elite ranks (Commandos, Rangers, etc) and given weeks or months of specialized training to accomplish very specific objectives, usually in support of larger offensives.
Examples include UDT Frogmen, Pointe Do Hoc Rangers, D-Day Pathfinders, RAF Dambusters, Son Tay Raiders, LRRP's, MAC(V)-SOG etc.
These operations are hugely expensive in terms of training time, specialized equipment costs, planning & coordination and operational security. Doubling of VP costs is completely justified.

Such operations are also extremely risky (Desert One). The cost of failure usually does not mean immediate defeat, but can jeopardize chances for victory and hugely increase casualties. As such, they rely very heavily on the element of surprise. Detection usually equals failure - something that can be challenging to represent on the Ogre-verse.

All of this needs to be accounted for in scenario design. Specialist infantry should give the attacker a very good chance of victory if successful. Failure of the specialist infantry should tilt the odds decidedly in favor of the defender. The odds should be at least even or against the success of the specialist infantry.

VP's are one good mechanism to do this, but I believe consideration should also be given to the secrecy/detection element.

The struggle to decide whether its worth it to give up significant combat strength or other resources, in order to infiltrate an couple Marine HWT's in, undetected, to take out one or both of the Laser Towers of Navarone is a great exercise in strategic planning. Such scenarios may not be for everyone ( risky, complex, chance of inevitable defeat), but could also be good fun.

If the surprise element/detection element can be worked out, the large chance component within Ogre can make for a fun, if risky, game with specialist infantry.

Anyway, my $0.02. Worth what you paid for it.
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Old 09-13-2017, 09:21 PM   #7
offsides
 
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Default Re: The cost of specialist Infantry

My problem with this is that if you look at the different specialties in detail, the answer has to be, "It depends." Because while I completely agree that specialized training is hard and time consuming, how much of the "specialty" is training and how much is hardware? For example, take Marines. Yes, there's definitely a bit of training for how to use Marine battlesuits in water, but realistically the battlesuit does most of the work for you, making it mostly a matter of hardware. Same goes for HWT - yes there's some training involved, but most of the extra cost is for stronger suits and the weapons themselves. Certainly at least half the cost, since reloads are (IIRC) canonically 1VP. Combat Engineers, OTOH, are clearly more training than hardware - yes, there's some extra hardware there, but most of it is skill based.

So combined specialties really depends on how much of that cost is hardware vs. training. Hardware is cheap, and chances are extending (for example) a Marine battlesuit to carry additional stuff (CE tools, or Heavy Weapons) is cheap compared to the training required. There's also the question of point of diminishing returns - at what point does the cost of specialist INF outweigh their capabilities. Why buy (for example) 3 MAR-HWT for 8VP each when you can get 4 GEVs for the same cost? Or 2 GEV-PCs + 6 INF riding them? That's when (IMHO) they become scenario-specific, at which point the VP "cost" is no longer relevant; all that matters is the VP "value" in that scenario, which frankly could be 25VP per squad and it would be acceptable.

So, in closing I'll repeat my opener: "It depends." :(
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Old 09-13-2017, 10:37 PM   #8
dwalend
 
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Default Re: The cost of specialist Infantry

I'd rather the rules avoid scenario-specific units. (Especially without scenarios in tow.)

For value of the soldiers vs hardware - I'm not too concerned. The hardware is expensive. Given the small number of soldiers on the battlefield, they're all elite soldiers. Some just managed to get an extra year or two of training.

To make the specialists worth 4 VP you really have to take advantage of what makes them special. Put a Marine squad in a river as a speed bump for GEVs and Ogres, for example, or put a single squad of Rangers with a lot of INF in a town to anchor your line. If you don't get a tactical boost then two D1 targets are a better deal than one D1 target.

Quote:
Originally Posted by offsides View Post
Why buy (for example) 3 MAR-HWT for 8VP each when you can get 4 GEVs for the same cost? Or 2 GEV-PCs + 6 INF riding them?
(...or a MkI...)

Your last comparison really drives the point home. 2 GEV-PCs +6 INF has lots of targets, better firepower, mobility in all the terrain Marines can use, and better speed in the clear and on water. With 2 GEV-PCs you could even risk the terrain disable as a gambit.

Consider a similar argument for Marine HWTs at 6 VP. And say that your armor budget is separate from your INF budget, so a GEV-PC isn't an option. When would you pick one D1 target over 3 D1 INFs? There are some rare cases - blow the reactor behind swampy islands in a river delta. In that scenario then maybe the double specialist makes sense, but letting "regular" HWT (or even a mass of INF) swim could be viable.

I don't think there's that balance at 8 VP.
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Old 09-13-2017, 10:51 PM   #9
brionl
 
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Default Re: The cost of specialist Infantry

Didn't we cover this in "Ogres and the Fuzzy-Wuzzy fallacy"?

One unit with twice as much firepower (or special abilities) shouldn't be twice as expensive as two separate units.

OK, let me go dig out my PDF...

Here we go, pg 35

Quote:
Briefly, the Fuzzy Wuzzy Fallacy states that a man
with a firepower of 2X is not worth twice the value of a
man with a firepower of X, but rather roughly√2 as much,
after taking into account that one hit on either man kills
just as dead.
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Old 09-14-2017, 12:23 AM   #10
ianargent
 
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Default Re: The cost of specialist Infantry

Either they're "scenario-only" units, or they aren't. At large multiples you don't buy them in a free-form game on the basic maps - the situations in which they are "worth" their cost are few and far between.

Disclaimer: I feel that way about a lot of the 1-specialty infantry, that they're overcosted for free-form games. Henry Cobb demonstrated elsewhere that HWT are not worth their cost in almost every case, and MAR and ENG need scenario-specific goals to make them worthwhile.
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