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A right to reply?
Following John Moher’s article in Journal 48, I feel inclined to write back, and expand upon my points of view with aspects of the rules. John seems to like some of the ideas I have presented, but has not yet commented on the strategic bombers and Special Forces rules I suggested more recently. The latter could quite rightly be seen as tinkering unnecessarily, but I do like to cover all the options available in the real world.
John’s most important point is in his conclusion, and applies to other well-written rules sets, such as Fire and Fury. If the basic structure is right, the rules can be tinkered with and added to without destroying the original intent or adding too much complexity.
The following article originally appeared in the SOTCW's Journal No.51 (Christmas 2004) and is a response to a response by John Moher (one of the Modern Spearhead authors) that appeared in Journal 48 (Christmas 2003), itself a response to Mark's original review in 2000 and subsequent series of articles in the Journal. You can read John's 2003 response reproduced in the article Thoughts & Responses.
So one group can end up playing a slightly different version than another group in another town, but if they got together for a Spearhead game they could still game with each other, swapping ‘house ru1es’ ideas as and where. Thus the rules suggestions I have presented in recent Journals are one I might use if I had some Spearhead garners in my area. I have no more authority to present these than any other wargamer, other than having written rules that have seen many years play in the Burnley area, and some knowledge and opinion (!) of modern warfare.
The main area we will have to disagree on is the mechanised infantry Combat Teams, and I am not sure that having separate APC/MICV and infantry stands does give these platoons too much firepower. After all, consider your typical stands. A stand of tanks represents 4-5 actual tanks i.e. 4 barrels firing simultaneously if using the traditional one-one rules. A MICV platoon of say 4 Bradleys has 4 TOW missiles or 4 25mm cannon it can fire together, if the infantry are inside. However dismount the infantry and you add 3x Dragon/Javelin ATGW, 6x 40mm grenade launchers, numerous LAWs. So the firepower is doubled in terms of numbers of weapons that could fire simultaneously. Plus you now have more targets (4 vehicles and 3-4 squads of infantry) to complicate the enemy’s fire. A typical Soviet platoon would have 3x BMP-2 firing 3 30mm cannon or 3x Spigot, dismount the infantry and you add 3x 40mm grenade launchers, 6x disposable LAW, 3x RPG-16. Plus as 2 stands represent a Soviet style 10-vehicle company, every other stand would have a sole AT-7 or AT-13 ATGW as well. I know that this simplistic in terms of exact numbers, as using one stand to represent 4-5 elements allows for historical breakdowns and lower strength units, but even so, there is considerably more firepower available to mech infantry when they operate dismounted. The Soviets in Afghanistan made use of this by actively deploying the BMPs as combat vehicles separate from their dismounted infantry, within the battlegroup, so I want to be able to reflect the extra firepower and use the separate tactics. Plus it just feels better somehow! The few Modem Spearhead garners I have met seem to be split evenly on the issue, some have adopted the system I suggested, and others like it the way it is written.
Attacking with ATGW
At first reading it seems that a force advancing basically cannot use ATGW and SP guns except for close assaulting, as the rules say that neither of these can move and fire. As a move is half an hour of real time this was a real concern of mine, as though they cannot fire and hit anything whilst physically moving in real life, in practice they only need to halt for a minute to fire one or two rounds before moving on again. Closer reading of 3.7.1 on p.5 of the modern rules, states that once enemy has been spotted, a unit on attack orders may “move slower than half speed to enable it to fight properly.” This is important as it implies that the BG or part of it can advance with zero speed and still obey it’s attack arrow. Section 3.7.4 confirms this for support weapons and 3.12 confirms it again in the next to last paragraph “Order (changes) affect all platoons of a BG immediately, except that platoons may remain halted when firing” (my italics) as long as CZ is not violated. So now I can rest easy, basically the player does his own leap-frog platoons covering each tactics as he moves, as long as the BG has already sighted enemy, and the CZ is not violated. Section 3.9 confirms it in a way as it says even if using timed orders, a BG can arrive late but must still attack it’s original objective at the end of it’s command arrow.