Newbie questions around combat, esp. melee

ChuckB

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Hi,

I'm working my way into the LnLT rules, mainly through playing the Vierville scenario multiple times (playing both sides) after first replaying the walkthrough of this scenario, which was very helpful.

I have a couple of questions/uncertainties, mainly around combat involving multiple defenders and how they may be affected; some of the concepts are a bit different from games I have played before (especially around different types of units/elements, such as MMC, SMC such as leaders and heroes, and SWs and how multiple units are involved in combat) and I want to make sure I'm getting it right. I also have a problem with some concepts of melee (below under C)

A Fire combat (ranged fire)

My understanding is fire combat is mainly against a hex and that all defenders in that hex will be affected. The FP of the defenders (or their quality) play actually no role in the direct fire roll and if A>D, a damage check will need to be done against every single defender, including leaders and heroes. There is no need (or way) for the attacked to select (or exclude) any defender from the attack and all defenders may be affected by the attack. Is my understanding correct?

B Sniper fire

Similar to fire combat (2D6 instead of 1D6) but only one defender (could be a MMC or SMC) may be affected and that defender will be picked randomly (no later than prior to the damage check, if any).

C Melee

Quite different from fire combat in many ways, my main confusion stems from my reading that the attacker can actually pick any (or all) defender from being included in (or excluded from) the melee (“The IFP of all the attacking units (the units that entered the hex) and Melee-eligible SWs (MGs, Satchel Charges, Molotov Cocktails and Flamethrowers) is compared to the FP of any defending units the attacker chooses and their Melee-eligible SWs, and an odds ratio is determined, rounding up fractions.”). If this understanding is correct, I assume that the attacker would have to declare first which defenders to include/exclude, as the sum of the defender FPs will be used to calculate the odds. Is my understanding correct?

If I read the rules right, the same is true for the "reaction" of the (original) melee defenders - 8.0 states that the defender can also select which attacker to target and I assume that all defenders have to then take part in this reaction, is that also correct?

If my understanding of the melee rules is correct, here are my issues with it:

  1. I think my main confusion comes from the fact that I have trouble imagine why the attacker should be able to choose certain defenders to become involved in the melee and what is simulated here - especially in melee, it seems that the attacker may have the least impact on which of the defenders will take part in the "brawl" and who will not. While fire combat and even sniper fire within LnLT give the attacker no control over the scope of the attack when it comes to which of the defenders are affected, melee seems to do the opposite, which seems counterintuitive to me as I would think that melee combat is the least controllable.
  2. [EDIT: I overlooked the rule that leader cannot be targeted in melee, as they are considered NME, but the melee attacker could still target the weakest defender] I have the feeling that this selection by the attacker may lead to some strange situations, which feel very gamey to me: the melee attacker could only target for example a leader (and in Vierville the US leader has a LM of zero), thereby really maximizing the odds (and it feels especially unrealistic that a melee attacker could only pick out a leader and the other defending troops would not contribute to the defence). Yes, I know that the melee defender will get to attack in the same melee round with all of its units but still, the targeted unit may be doomed at that point for the next round (still contributing, though, to the current round.
  3. Why would a melee defender ever choose NOT to "counter-attack" in melee with ALL of its units, what could be a reason to exclude any? It’s not for the reason that by selecting or excluding certain units to participate in the counter-attack, the defender risks any of these units (which could be a reason for such selection).
  4. Leadership only seems to benefit the attacker, never the defender of a melee (unless the attacker specifically selects the leader of the defender to be included in the melee), which also feels a bit off to me.

Would be great to get some clarification/explanations for the above - thanks a lot (and sorry for the long posting).
 
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Barthheart

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A. Correct.
B Correct.

C. Melee is very different.
1. I think of it this way. A hex is 50 meters across. That's a pretty big area. So the attacker, the ones entering the hex, would have the ability to maneuver around and attack whom they wanted.

2. You are correct you cannot target an unarmed Leader. If the leader is carrying a support weapon he's fair game however.... ie don't arm your leaders unless absolutely necessary.

3. The defender, the ones in the hex originally, must fight back with all eligible units in the hex and they would always do this anyway. More firepower is always good. And yes they get to choose whom to fight. Again it's a big space and sometimes, especially when you are out numbered, you want to try to take out the weakest, or strongest, to even the melee next turn... if you survive.

4. Yes leadership only helps the "attackers", whomever is rolling the dice. The defenders of the hex, if they have a leader, will get the benefit of that leader when they fight back in the melee.

Does any of that help?
 

ChuckB

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Hi Barthheart,

Yes, this really helps and I appreciate your response.

I'll have to play (much) more to see how this "plays out" in the game but having now a good understanding all the melee rules, I have to say that they (still) "feel" off to me (again, this is more a feeling at this point and I'll play more to figure out how it works in real life/game situations.)

Here are the reasons for my "feeling":
  1. 50m per hex is not small but it's not huge either. Let's say I have 3 MMCs in a hex that would be between 24-36 men, basically 1 man every 2m. That doesn't leave much room for the attacker to maneuver around certain units and only target some others. On top, I still have problems with the idea that other defending units would simply watch the melee and play no role in the defense.
  2. If I understand the rules correctly, I could have 2 of these 3 MMCs be shaken, the attacker could only target the GO MMC to increase the odds and, upon eliminating the GO MMC through high odds, also eliminate the two shaken MMCs as they would be considered NME units at the end of the impulse, correct? Again, these 2 shaken MMCs are shaken, not reduced but they would not count (at least for defensive purposes) and three full squads could be wiped out by an attacker that has a numerical disadvantage.
  3. Terrain doesn't seem to matter for melee at all. Assume I'm in good defensive position, the melee attacker would have to expose itself to fire while crossing into the melee hex and then dislodge a defensive unit, which is one of the hardest things to do in infantry combat. Vierville is a good example, I think. The US player has a numerical disadvantage and therefore needs to find (and defend) good defensive positions. But for melee, it doesn't seem to matter if a (defending) unit is a clear or a stone building hex, which is strange.
  4. Morale doesn't seem to matter for melee. You would think that especially in melee, a high morale unit (and I understand morale as a measure of "highly trained" and/or "high esprit de corps") would have a clear advantage but it doesn't come into play.
  5. The attacker is not really forced to make an interesting/risk-based decision. Here is what I mean: there is no (initial) risk for the attacker to allocate as many attacking units as possible to the melee and reducing the odds by picking a weak defender (but for the fact that only the targeted defenders can be killed). I have the feeling there should be a trade-off when doing this, for example by giving the "ignored" defenders to still contribute through a (maybe) reduced OF to simulate that they are not actively participating in the melee but could fire at the attacker when they approach.
Again, I'll play more to see how melee plays out. It "feels" that it gives the attacker the advantage but I may be wrong. It's my understanding that in WWII melee was most of the time (except for the cases when units inadvertently an into each other) employed (a) if the attacker is in a clear advantage against a weaker defender and could break the defender by overwhelming them by "rushing" them or (b) as a last-ditch effort, sort of a "hail mary" measure. Otherwise, melee attacks often lead to horrible casualities for the attacker due to the exposure to enemy fire while closing into an (often prepared) position.

Thanks again!
 
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Barthheart

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1. You have to think that thE whole melee is taking place at once in a time continuum kind of thing.
So the defenders that are not directly attacked are not standing around. Melee is simultaneous, nobody dies until both sides have rolled their attack. The attacker is focused on one or a few units while the defender focuses on the same or different attacker.

2. Correct, shaken units are non-melee eligible. Shaken units represent troops that have lost the will to fight through fear, fatigue, minor wounds whatever. Being shaken means they don't want to fight at all. So at the end of a melee when only NMEs remain on one side the surrender. They are not necessarily killed to the man. Then just become combat non effective and are ignored for the rest of the game ie removed from the board.

3. Correct terrain doesn't matter. I have no good explanation for this one but has never bothered me...

4. Correct, morale doesn't come into play in melee. I just think of I ass both sides being full of adrenaline that the morales even out. But leadership does matter, better leaders inspire/direct their men better for better results.

5. I don't agree here. If the attacker has over whelming strength compare to the defender then yeah they have an easy choice. But like you describe this is the ideal situation to enter into melee.
If the odds are more closely matched then you definitely have some choices to make.
Attack everyone at low odds and hope you don't wiff.
Attack a few in hopes of reducing his numbers while he doesn't reduce yours and hope you can finish him in the next turn's melee.

Try a few melees in real games and you'll see they are powerful but can be rally bloody for both sides.
Also remember that melee is only resolved in a hex once per turn. Once melee rolls have been done any remaining troops on both side are Locke do in until someone uses an impulse to start the melee again.
Also you can move reinforcements into a melee hex to help your side out.
Also you can try to withdraw from a melee hex but you can be subjected to Op fire.
Lots of choices.
 

Barthheart

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The real secret to winning this game is learning the "shake and take" technique.
Use firepower to shake enemy squads and in the same impulse move GO units into their hex to take them.
This to me really rewards the use of the US Army squad strategy of 4F - find, fix, flank and finish.
 

ChuckB

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Thanks again for the very detailed and helpful feedback - I really appreciate it! I'll definitely play more and see how it "plays out".

And yes, I already tried to employ the 4F tactics in one of my Vierville plays, using a weaker German unit with the MG42 to suppress/shake a US defender and move in with two 1-6-4s (one with MG34) and a German leader through cover to attack. Messed up the timing and moved the assaulters into the adjacent hex too early and got smashed with the (best possible) OF roll of the US defender, reducing and shaking all German units. They were all able to rally next turn and then went into (non-conclusive) melee. Fun!
 

ChuckB

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Sorry for the question barrage ...

I understand that both units that are in melee either fight until (1) either side is eliminated, (2) one side successfully withdraws, or (3) the scenario ends, mainly because the melee marker will remain on the hex until either of these conditions is fulfilled, correct?

When reading the post melee rules (8.1) it seems if there can never be more than one "round" of melee in any turn, because neither side seems to have the option to "continue" or "pick up" the melee in later impulse in the same turn since the rules state "Locked units cannot move (unless withdrawing) or fire, but can use an impulse the following turn to either Melee or attempt to withdraw."

Regarding withdraw:

8.1 states "Units that wish to withdraw must announce their intention at the beginning of their next impulse (before they are once again engaged in Melee by the opposing player) and pass a Morale Check (LMs apply). Failure to pass incurs no penalty but they must immediately fight a Melee round. Units that pass the Morale Check can exit the hex, paying appropriate MP costs."

What is not 100% clear to me after reading this is, if this modifies the rule above and would allow the (original) defender in the melee to attempt a withdraw in its next impulse in the same turn the melee was initiated (the language "their next impulse" seems to suggest that together with the fact that if the (original) melee attacker wins the initiative for the next turn, the defender may have no other opportunity to avoid being engaged in melee again.) If this is indeed the case, this could lead two rounds of melee in the same turn, if the defender attempts to withdraw, fails the morale check and would immediately have to fight a melee round again.

My feeling is that this is NOT intended but that the defender (or attacker) would need to announce the intention to withdraw at the beginning of their next impulse of the next turn, which could lead to the situation that there is no opportunity to withdraw if the initiative goes to the other side first and that side decides to continue to melee.

Oh, one more annex (before you block me for asking too many questions :rolleyes: ): it seems that it would be a possibility that an initiated melee could be maintained over turns without making any progress, if neither side uses any impulse in any later turn to pick up the melee again or attempt a withdraw, is that correct? The melee marker would stay but if neither side picks the melee up again, nothing seems to happen?
 
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Barthheart

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Correct.

And also correct. Once a melee has been fought no-one can attempt withdrawal until the next turn.

And correct again. Nothing would happen in the melee hex if no-one chose to initiate it.... but I've never seen that happen... ever.... someone always want to fight it out or withdraw.
 

ChuckB

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Thanks again for your feedback - now I promise to play a couple of games before I come up with more stupid questions ...
 

Nick DelCorpo

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I totally agree with the OP's statement on #3. Me and my buds play the house rule that if your in a hex with a TM of at least one you get to fire in the first round of melee with out having to defend. In Panzer Grenadier its called "First Fire". It makes no sense that men in prepared defensive positions would not have an advantage over someone rushing them. I guess the only exception would be if you are ambushed. The only stupid question is the one you don't ask! ;) And as for staying in melee but no one fighting in the hex for a whole turn is just "gamey". There is no way that two squads of men who a minute and a half ago just fought almost to the death but are now going to take a breather? We play that a round of melee must take place before the next turn.
 

Barthheart

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And as for staying in melee but no one fighting in the hex for a whole turn is just "gamey". There is no way that two squads of men who a minute and a half ago just fought almost to the death but are now going to take a breather? We play that a round of melee must take place before the next turn.

There's nothing gamey about it, in my opinion. They are still fighting just nothing decisive happened during that time period.
Also, like I said, it almost never happens anyway. One side or the other wants a result, usually because they are winning the melee, so they can use their troops for other things.
 

Nick DelCorpo

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I think taking no action in a turn doesn't mean stuff was taking place but nothing decisive occurred is wrong. I thought that was the point of all the dice rolls and damage checks. If the counter isn't activated, it isn't taking any game worthy actions. I don't disagree that men that have broken mentally, lost weapons, would surrender if faced with further aggression, thats a given.:) As for the terrain, I don't see why it wouldn't make a difference that men in a prepared defensive position being assaulted in close combat wouldn't have some type of advantage until the enemy closed the gap.
 
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Jeff Lewis

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Like Vance said, I've never seen a hex marked Melee have both sides pass on initiating Melee; further, I don't understand why a player would find this to his tactical advantage, especially one who has the odds on his side, etc.

As for the prepared-defense concept, my stance and position in favor of the current rules: In considering Melee, tactical acumen is key here for the attacker. An seasoned/wise attacker two hexes or more away wouldn't rush a hex, whether it was Clear or a Building with a +4 TM, if the defenders weren't already under a Moved/Fired or any other Admin marker that would render them unable to Op Fire. If the attacker did this, the defender would Op Fire when they were adjacent, w/ a +3 bonus to fire for adjacency and Moving, and odds are, blow them apart and/or shake them, thus halting their attempted Melee. If, say, the attacker begins in a hex adjacent to the defender, usually at the start of turn, well then, you are at the mercy of the initiative roll here; if the defender has the initiative, then he'll similarly fire on the attackers (unless there's a more pressing situation on the map, etc.). If the attacker gets the initiative, he can fire himself, with the adjacency bonus, or enter Melee, if the odds favor him, etc.

Vance has previously posted about the shake-and-take tactic. That's the best way to utilize Melee. Otherwise, consider the odds, the goal. Never enter Melee if you can't afford to lose your units in order to win the scenario. Final-turn desperation is always justified whatever the odds.
 

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