Combat Psychology in KN

Discussion in 'Fire Team - Red Eclipse' started by Steve Overton, Oct 14, 2017.

  1. Steve Overton

    Steve Overton Moderator
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    The Kontact Now (KN) game series is about the way people respond in combat. It's not about the exact stats for the weaponry they use but the ability of the men to use the weapons. Whether they will choose fight, flight, fumble or freeze. What are currently known as the "4 F's".

    For those of you that are interested there is a very good book on this subject. "Brains and Bullets" by Leo Murray

    Brains.PNG

    This book encapsulates much of what you will find in KN. The average scenario in KN is 4 turns. Which is 'about' 20 minutes. A lot can happen in 20 minutes. Men can and will do some strange things. Both aggressively, defensively, and no motion at all.

    I based KN on the OODA Loop. Which ends in action. Combat Psychology is moving forward with the idea that without leadership the chances of something happening is very slim. That actions are heavily determined by junior leadership on the battlefield. It shows that without leaders a combat force slowly stops doing much of anything, except defending itself, and depending on the actions of the group maybe not even that.

    It's also how a very few men in an action determine the outcome. Which often happens in a KN battle. A few groups of men get the lions share of activations.

    I'll go through some of the main points of the book, in the coming posts, and just how that translates to the series.

    Good Hunting.

    MR
     
    #1 Steve Overton, Oct 14, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
  2. Steve Overton

    Steve Overton Moderator
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    The first point I'd like to make about the KN game series is that removing a unit from the map usually doesn't mean the men represented in it have been killed. They could have been, but more than likely they have simply stopped fighting for the time period represented by the scenario.

    So, for my requirements, they don't have to have killed. They could be dead, wounded or simply 'sitting this one out', and the results on the map are the same. They are no longer participating in this fight.

    Good Hunting.

    MR
     
  3. Steve Overton

    Steve Overton Moderator
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    The game allows multiple activation of the same unit over and over. Not only during the course of the game but also in the course of the turn.

    The single restriction is that a unit can be activated only once per impulse. However, it can be activated every single impulse in the game.

    For instance, if the US player has 3 impulses per turn and the game contains 4 turns a single unit could be activated 12 times during the course of the game.

    That seems excessive until you realize that 10% of the people do 90% of the fighting. That certain motivated individuals or small groups are very active during engagements. It also helps to understand the context of the scenarios; each turn is between 2 - 5 minutes of actual time. A small number of people can make things happen for a short amount of time.

    The Tactical Event Cards (TEC) also reflect this. The 'Reaction' TEC allows for an additional interrupt in the flow of the action. This TEC allows you to do an immediate order.

    Good Hunting.

    MR

    Tac-US-Reaction copy.png
     
  4. Steve Overton

    Steve Overton Moderator
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    There are times when a man, or a small unit,
    will be motivated enough to do things without a leader being present. When that happens the unit becomes more reliable and will stay in the fight longer.

    Good Hunting.

    MR



    Tac-RUS- Experience level up copy.png
     
  5. Steve Overton

    Steve Overton Moderator
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    One of the basic building blocks of the KN series is the OODA Loop.

    'The phrase OODA loop refers to the decision cycle of observe, orient, decide, and act, developed by military strategist and United States Air Force Colonel John Boyd.'

    The concept was developed for air combat. Where decisions that determine whether a pilot/crew lives or dies are made in fractions of a second. While ground combat normally isn't that fast paced the faster you can respond and react the more advantage you have.

    The concept applied to ground combat is to overwhelm your enemy to the point his decision making process and reaction time is slowed to a point where they become overwhelmed. The most current example of this was the 'Shock and Awe' display in the 2003 Iraqi invasion. Which obviously worked. The Iraqi Army was totally overwhelmed. Why they were overwhelmed is still in doubt. Was it because they were so overwhelmed that the Coalition forces moved so fast or was it that Coalition forces moved so fast that they were overwhelmed...the jury is still out.

    What we do know is that studies were done about the success of a plans basic complexity. The more complex the plan the higher chance it will be unsuccessful. Hence the axioms "Keep It Simple Stupid" and "No Plan Survives Contact". The more complex the plan the more things that can go wrong. It's because of this issue that tactical battlefield leaders have such a large impact on the outcome of firefights.

    When things start to fall apart those are the leaders that take action and influence others to follow them or their orders.

    Good Hunting.

    MR
     
  6. Steve Overton

    Steve Overton Moderator
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    One of the great questions military forces have to determine is how to get people to fight and kill other people. The natural response is to not kill another human being. Some people are naturally aggressive. Most are not. PTSD is an outcome of the reluctance to promote violence on other people.

    One of the ways this is done is to dehumanize the enemy. To make them simply Japs, Gooks, Ragheads, Cabbage Eaters, Untermensch, etc.
    If the enemy isn't human or so live their lives in such a repugnant fashion it is easier to promote violence against them.

    You will see those that don't overcome this simply 'drop out' of the fight. To shoot high, shoot without aiming, not moving when expected, etc.
    To have a unit in FTRE 'drop out' means they simply don't participate for up to 5 - 45 minutes, depending on the number of turns in the scenario. Removing a unit from the map means they have stopped fighting.

    Certain military forces have left large questions in this regard. The German Army from 1943 - 1945 and the Confederate forces from 1863-1865, in the American Civil War, come to mind. Why would they continue to fight instead of surrendering and end the fighting and death? In both cases the enemy was in the process of overrunning or threatening their homeland. For instances like the 1939 -1945 time period it doesn't make sense to have a single set of Tactical Event Cards to cover the two very specific time frames and tactics involved.

    In WW2 there are two very specific time frames involved. From 1936 through the middle of 1943 the Axis forces were on the attack. The Tactical Event Cards in their TEC decks reflect that. From the middle of 1943 to the end of the war the Axis forces were on the defensive. The Tactical Event Cards in their TEC decks reflect that too.

    The Tactical Event decks can be specifically designed to show the tactics and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for particular length of times. Whether this is a short time, like the Battle for the Falklands, or the Vietnam War, the Battle for Hue, the Six Day War, or any particular time frame. Long or short that the tactics don't change.

    In addition to that, the series can show the differences and evolution of tactical procedures between national forces in the same area, such as NATO or Warsaw Pact nations in different time periods from the 1950's though the near future.

    Good Hunting.

    MR
     
  7. Steve Overton

    Steve Overton Moderator
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    Speed of action and combined arms are a formula for success.

    Scenario - air strike, artillery barrage, followed closely by an infantry attack, supported closely by tanks/support vehicles.

    We can all pretty much tell you how that will play out.

    Sounds simple on paper. In the midst of a raging battle even the simplest things are complex.

    KN allows these types of attacks with a combination of Tactical Event Cards.

    Double Time Movement allows a unit to move double it's normal movement allowance.
    Command Coordination allows for a Fire Group to be formed with widely separated units.
    Artillery Mission allows for an artillery fire mission to be called at that moment.
    Close Air Support allows for an air strike mission to be called at that moment.
    Determined Attack allows all the units that just attacked to make the same attack again at that moment.

    The key to success is to overload the defense and when you add these together, in combinations of two or more, you can see 'Shock and Awe' happen right there on the map.

    Good Hunting.

    MR
     
  8. Steve Overton

    Steve Overton Moderator
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    Combined arms brings to mind one thing.

    TANKS!!!

    There are 4 tank types in FTRE. All the Russian tanks are roughly equal to each other but the normal Russian tank park contains more than one type.


    Tanks.png

    Since the KN game series is primarily about infantry combat, as you may expect, tanks are a major concern. There won't be many on a game map at any one time. But still they are TANKS!!

    Well, since the 1940's when the Germans introduced the Panzerfaust and 1963 when Russians introduced the 9M14 Malyuka, NATO code name "Sagger", tanks have been on a downward slide from their spot as the 'God of War' at the start of WW2.

    At one time there was a psychological event known as 'tank terror'. That's where infantry would simply run away when they would meet tanks in combat. There are documented cases of Russian infantry running away from their own KV tanks at the start of the war in Russia. They had never seen them before and because of their tremendous size they simply abandoned their positions and ran away.

    Today, everything on the battlefield is designed to be able to destroy tanks. The infantry no longer reacts to the presence of tanks with unchecked fear. Today they will hold their positions and fight back.

    Tankers have also undergone a change of attitude. In the early months of WW2 they were unafraid of any infantry force. Today they are very cautious when fighting against them, especially in urban combat where the infantry can get close to a tank and gain a height or attitude advantage.

    Armored Fighting Vehicles are a completely different thing than simply tanks. They cover the entire spectrum of vehicles on the battlefield. They don't present a problem to the infantry normally. Because if the infantry can kill a tank they can easily kill 'less than a tank' with modern weaponry.

    Good Hunting.

    MR
     
    #8 Steve Overton, Nov 13, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2018
  9. Steve Overton

    Steve Overton Moderator
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    So what does make a soldier fight or not fight?

    That's a question from the dawn of time.

    The answer is becoming a bit clearer as the search intensifies with the mass of humanity that currently inhabits the planet. The 'fighters' are harder to identify in the throngs of people that now live here.

    The answer to that over all question is beyond the scope of my game series. Kind of...

    What is generally known is that most of the fighting is done by a few. The rest either support their side somewhat or 'sit this one out'. The same people that are active and inactive seems to generally change. There are a very few that will either 'step up' or 'sit down' each and everytime. The rest are motivated to an extent by other influences. Such as a friend becoming a casualty, the person getting caught in the open, having just gotten a 'Dear John letter'...etc...

    When dealing with that very intangible paradigm I created the Experience Level Down, Experience Level Up, Determined Attack, Determined Defense, Morale Wavers and Morale Strenthens Tactical Event Cards. These are either played on your opponent or yourself to bring the morale of a location/units up or down. So, why not have them be played when they are immediately drawn? First because General Murphy applies his laws at the worst possible time and second because it keeps the player engaged at all times during game play. FTRE doesn't have spots in it where a player won't be doing anything for 20 minutes so he can take a bathroom break and not miss anything. (Now bathroom breaks are good and you should take them but just take scheduled breaks.)

    What you are looking for in FTRE is those people that will fight. When you find them that's exactly what they will do. A very few of your units will be activated over and over while others sit out the action. Whether a unit sits out because they are out of position or you don't have the leadership to get them into the action or they under-perform their duties won't matter to you. What will matter is those that will fight.

    So, jump up, wave your arm in a forward arc and holler 'At them men!' and see who will follow you into the Red Eclipse!

    Good Hunting.

    MR
     
    #9 Steve Overton, Jan 7, 2018
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2018
  10. Rydo

    Rydo Member

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    All you've wrote is very interesting!
     
  11. Steve Overton

    Steve Overton Moderator
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    A question I get asked quite a bit is about leader ranks. Why don't the leaders in the KN series have ranks on the counters?

    There are several reasons for this. The main reason is that for most of my gaming career I've created scenarios that are based on actual events. Those events cover the spectrum of human capabilities. From some of the best the world's military's have to offer to some of the worst.

    Few people are a hero all the time, few people are incompetent all the time. Rank does not bestow capability or experience to a leader. With that in mind I don't judge. I take each situation, and each leader, at that very moment. How those 'boots on the ground' did in that particular instance. So, I don't give sergeants lower leadership ratings and officers higher ones. I don't give sergeants higher leadership ratings and officers lower ones. A lieutenant may be new to the job and learning. A sergeant may have been in the service for more than 20 years. An officer may do so poorly as to be removed from command. A sergeant may do so well as to earn a battlefield commission.

    Leadership is what the entire KN series of games is all about. As such, the psychology of a particular group of leaders is of paramount importance. How your team of leaders interacts with each other and the units they lead will usually be the determining factor of who wins and who loses.

    Your best leaders will, well, lead. They will be given the toughest jobs. They will also be in harm's way the most. You will be very lucky if your highest rated leader survives the fight still functioning. Whether he was so exhausted he dropped out, was wounded and couldn't continue or was killed doesn't matter to you. For whatever reason your best, and maybe all of your, leader(s) is out of service. Now you will get to make do with leaders of lesser skill and experience.

    As the lesser experienced leaders are given jobs your men will react. Sometimes they will do great things. Other times they won't. In real life that is determined by a limitless amount of variables. Did this leader do something to gain/lose your confidence, was there an action such as a popular person in the unit getting killed that makes them more/less aggressive, are they just tired of being pinned down and feeling helpless... and the list goes on.

    As to the leaders themselves, how will they do today? Right now. This moment. That's what I try to model. There are famous examples of leaders being sick and not doing well...Napoleon at Waterloo, Lee at Gettysburg, etc....we know different things change how people react. How they do their job at that time, in that hour, on that day.

    The question, in the game, will not be the rank on your collar, it will be how well will your leaders do? How well will you use them? How well will you lead them? Because the leaders in the game report to you. How will you be feeling when the call comes?

    Good Hunting.

    MR
     
  12. Steve Overton

    Steve Overton Moderator
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    One thing to keep in mind concerning casualties in the KN system. Units removed from the map are normally not 'killed'. They are combat ineffective.

    So, what seems to be a high death rate, in actuality, is nothing more than people that have stopped fighting. For whatever reason. Whether it be they really were killed or they were wounded, tending to wounded, ducking down in a covered location to get out of the overwhelming fire....whatever it is. They are simply combat ineffective for a short time.


    Good Hunting.

    MR
     

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