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People seem to think we arbitrarily chose the one stand concept out of thin air - we did not. A lot of careful thought, some long and sometimes heated discussion, and play testing, all went into Alex and I arriving at the one stand result. We were unhappy with the original Spearhead APC rules for modern warfare, and were particularly unhappy with how the game played using 2 stands exactly as espoused by Mark and others... The game suffered. Once we decided on the single stand approached we even tried to distinguish APCs from true IFV or MICV Combat Teams, but found that also an unsatisfactory and unnecessary complication. In the end we developed the 1 stand system as it is in the rules to maximise speed of play, simplicity, and real life simulation, while minimising complexity and the number of troops needed to play the game.
The morale system suffers significantly from the introduction of 2 stands. It was one of the major flaws we found when play testing and is irreconcilable with the SH & MSH morale system in our view.
Basically the target priority system gets screwy and can produce anomalous results by the use of 2 stands.
Game Play Mechanics
If players will give the (vanilla) rules a chance and actually endeavour to play several games with the rules as written they will almost certainly find the system works and there is actually no need to second guess it before even playing a game (as many actually appear to have done).
I challenge every gamer out there who agrees with views like Mark's on the 1 stand versus 2 stands debate to play the rules as written for at least 4-6 games (preferably more), and also to play reasonable sized games (i.e. with a Division or close to it, or at least a large supported Brigade) and to stand back afterwards and ask themselves;
- Did the game as a whole play okay?
- Did the overall result resemble what could be expected in real life?
- Would dismounting and operating 2 stands for every platoon have made any significant difference other than slowing the game down?
Afterwards if you believe Mark's way is better for you go ahead... You are free to tinker with Modern Spearhead as you see fit - and if you really feel that strongly about Combat Teams then we the authors are not going to force you into our view - but please remember that we did design the rules the way we did to create a specific experience for you the gamer, and Combat Teams are an important part of that. If you choose to field 2 stands remember they are no longer Combat Teams, just an infantry stand and a vehicle stand, and you will need to exclude several parts of the rules that deal with Combat Teams and you should not count both stands for calculating morale purposes, but loss of any stand of either type should conversely count against morale - but ultimately going down that road breaks a critical piece of the Modern Spearhead design.
SPGs and Vehicle ATGMs
Mark made the comment in Journal 51 that "...in practice they only need to halt for a minute to fire one or two rounds before moving on again" - that is partially true, but only for 1:1 scale representations. SPGs invariably require time to deploy to conduct fire, even if in direct mode, and there are a lot of actions involved for a crew of a SPG to engage the enemy, even if just to fire a round or two... Likewise ATGM may need to be dismounted from inside an APC and emplaced to fire, guided to target, then remounted inside the APC - not all ATGM are mounted and able to be fired externally from a vehicle - for simplicity the rules do not distinguish between them. Add to this the fact you are talking about a whole Platoon, Troop, or Battery of vehicles not a single one and the fact that in MSH although a turn is up to 30 minutes the activity is assumed to be happening in a short burst or two of anything from 1 to 5 minutes (or perhaps a single longer burst of up to 10 minutes).
However as Mark concluded, the rules do let you effectively use support weapons on attack, by leap-frogging them, or simply halting them in rear of the attacking fighting platoons.
Close Assaulting Armour
Although there are 'exceptions' to the norm as Mark quotes, in general dismounted infantry will not assault armour in the open in real life. The examples Mark quotes are scenario specific examples that should be dealt with by scenario specific rules rather than some wholesale rules change that will see infantry chasing MBTs across rolling grassland in every future MSH game.
As Mark has said it's great to see MSH getting discussion and I am more than happy to intermittently reply to comments from other contributors. I welcome Mark's thoughts and comments and anything that gets people talking about MSH is always good, and remember its your game so ultimately if you aren't happy with it feel free to try various 'house rules' to get it how you want it...
Contributor: © 2006 John Moher.