This weekend, I got out of work early and drove into West Hartford to the only remaining wargame/model/table-top role-playing game store that I know; War & Pieces. An older gent with a pot-belly, a wandering eye, and a head full of knowledge spent a good 45 minutes chatting with me on where to start with my game. What I really needed to know about was rules and where I could start. This has pretty much always been my method for doing something: find someone who knows more than me and ask them.
The little research that I had managed to do seemed to single out the game Advanced Squad Leader as being a real brain-melter with more rules than you could shake a stick at. Armed with this and a rudimentary knowledge of C, I figured this would give me a good handle on where to start taking apart some of JA2’s wonky rules.
Of course, they didn’t have a copy of ASL, but he managed to come up from the basement with a copy of Sniper!, which smelled like it had been sitting in an attic box with mohair sweaters and leisure suits from the seventies. It seemed to have a ton of rules for pretty much everything, but I still felt like it was missing something.
Rules, after all, are abstractions meant to represent real life. The problem (or blessing, really) is that practically none of us who play wargames have ever been in a fight, much less a war. So the notion of being able to judge rules on fighting wars for veracity is pretty preposterous. Luckily, my “find the smart guy” approach to learning paid off, as I was led to the globalsecurity.org’s collection of Army field manuals, specifically those on urban warfare (MOUT) and movement in general.
As with all things, the more I learn, the more I scale back my original plans. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not, but I’m of the opinion now that determining line-of-sight rules, visibility, or reaction times are going to be pretty much arbitrary; trying to actually base them on science brings out a rather large can of worms that can only be opened with four or five years of schooling in cognition and perception. So, rather than redo everything, I’ve decided to do a feasibility test by adding one new feature: leading a room clearing operation with a grenade through the door.
Close Quarters Combat (CQB) in JA2 is one of the more frustrating aspects. Like real life, room-clearing is extremely deadly and tense; unlike life, though, the things that you or I might do to preserve our life or reduce risk are impossible. If we know Mook #1 is behind a door, we’re probably not going to stand silhouetted in a door-frame and scream “Suprise!” after opening it. We might push it open, kick it open from the side, peek our head around a corner, look through the keyhole, or any number of tricks to keep our head from stopping bullets.
In MOUT, grenades get used with an incredible frequency to clear rooms, stairwells, flush out loopholes, and do most of the dirtywork in urban exploration. Practically every other paragraph contained the phrase “be sure to clear the room with a grenade before entering”. This makes sense: cracking a door, dropping a cooked-off grenade in, and then storming the room shortly after detonation is infinitely safer than wandering in and looking for party-favors.
You can’t do any of this in JA2, though. You can only open doors from the square directly in front of it, which means anyone on the other side inevitably scores an interrupt and perforates you. Neither can you bang-and-clear in a single motion; each part takes a separate action and the door can only be opened all the way, or not at all. See above on perforation.
So, the next step is to see if the code can be jury-rigged to support this sort of idea. The idea itself is simple: have the bang-and-clear action, if performed successfully, cause a grenade to be tossed “through” the door without it ever being opened.
The question is if the code can be massaged to allow this, though if the 1.13 guys were able to include high-angle grenade launching, I assume that this shouldn’t be impossible. More on this after I find where the grenade launching code is stored.