Tracer Rounds: The C2E2

frontier wars 728x90 KS

Revisiting an older concept to reinvigorate the re-conversation ~

Brant, 29 August 2016

So, about 5-6 years ago, I started playing with an idea for a game/system.  The idea was a basic unified set of rules for current events conflicts, with regularly-released updates that would provide unit information and updated map details for the current world situation.  This would allow any player to just grab the current update, and “play forward” from there, to see how the various conflicts might shape up over the next few months or years.  When the next update rolled around, the players would have the option to either reset to the current world situation, or adapt the update to their own ongoing conflicts and continue an “alternate future” using the update components.

It’s not like I was breaking any really new ground with the idea, but I had a pretty high-minded concept for how I wanted it to happen, but got quite bogged down in the actual execution of it all.

What I’d like to do here is reopen the discussion and attempt to reinvigorate the participation in the development of the rules and current updates, in the hopes that many minds are smarter than mine, and we can collaboratively move forward on an open-source set of rules and initial process for putting these kinds of tools in the hands of gamers with an interest in current events.

Step one, of course, is sort of recapping where I’d left off before, with a handful of the key concepts that I think need to be brought forward into the system, and then start some discussion on the high-level of execution, before pointing everyone to the forums for the detailed discussion of the actual rules as needed to be written and then developed & tasted.

Kinetic & Non-Kinetic Operations

I think it’s very important to draw a distinction between the two.  There are kinetic missions that involve perforating the opposition.  There are absolutely times when the primary purpose of your operation is kill bad guys dead.  There are also times when the purpose of the operation is not killing bad guys.  It may be a happy side effect; it may be expressly limited by the ROE.  But either way, there are missions – advising, training, humanitarian assistance – where the focus is not on how well you for the enemy to meet his maker, but on how well you take care of the friendlies and neutrals.

There are absolutely times when the primary purpose of your operation is kill bad guys dead.

To this end, I had envisioned units having both a kinetic and a non-kinetic state (flip the counter!) that allows for different values based on the relative strengths that the unit has at each type of mission.  Additionally, there are expectations that similar types of units from different backgrounds will vary in their assessments of both non/kinetic values.  For instance, an active-duty US Army infantry brigade is organized almost identically to a National Guard one.  However, the kinetic values of an active duty unit – usually afforded greater opportunities for training – is likely to be higher.  However, the non-kinetic values of the ARNG unit might well be higher, since their ‘day jobs’ might better serve them in a peacekeeping or nation-building role, with experience as police officers, businessmen, utility workers, or bankers.

Within the actual states themselves, there needs to be a kinetic combat value, as well as some form of movement / mobility factor.  However, regardless of the state of the unit, there’s a support cost to keep that unit deployed, in the form of a logistics tail that keeps supplies flowing, as well as public support for their deployment (or operations, if they are being used internally).  For non-kinetic values, I’d originally envisioned a simple rock-paper-scissors mechanism that lets units employ values related to info ops, governance support, or security operations.  While I’m still not sold on the fact that the model is the best representation of non-kinetic factors, we gotta start somewhere.

Reaction, Range, “Movement”, and Mobility

There are plenty of ways for units to move around, but the one key to it is the time scale we’re using.  It’s going to be a little more specific than A Distant Plain‘s “elastic” time scale, but we’re still talking about weeks or month rather than days.  When you’re talking about a 2-week time scale, even a light infantry unit can get around pretty well in their leather personnel carriers.  So my thought process on this is that a unit ends up “located” somewhere, but has a “range” into which they can project themselves for operations during that time.  Depending on the assets available – air mobility, local transportation – that range might be a little more flexible.  Additionally, the range in which can project may depend on the mission they’re assigned.  A kinetic mission – a hit & run raid, or a sweep of an area – might have a longer range than a more time- and logistics-intensive mission for supporting civil authorities or peacekeeping.  In short, the range over which a unit can operate might vary depending on what they’re doing and who is supporting them, but it’s not a simple “mph x length of turn = movement factor”.

The reaction ability of a unit will also matter, too.  If an enemy attempts an operation within the range of your mobility, how well can you spin up a reaction to him?  Can you drop everything and go get him?  Well, it might be a lot harder if you’re on a peacekeeping mission.  It might be a lot harder if you’re already designated for another kinetic mission somewhere else.  But if you’re already on QRF?  There’s gonna be a fight…

Political Considerations

Without trying to delve into the fool’s errand of trying to build a robust political system, the reality is that the political environment can affect whether or not a unit can even deploy, tho where, with what level of logistical support, and what they can do locally.  Additionally, the actions that they take can cause the political situation to change, and sometimes rapidly.  It might change the local environment, or it might change the domestic environment back home.  But it’s going to change.  There needs to be some form of tracking of political environment – perhaps a track between “permissive” and “restrictive” is sufficient – that can impose limitations on the unit actions.  That said, if we have that track, then there needs to be a mechanism for manipulating that track.  We’ll draft Brian Train into doing it for us! 🙂

What’s Next

So those are some of the big concepts I’ve got in mind, and I’ll be rebooting the thread where the discussion was going on, and eventually, looking at a dedicated subforum for capturing the rules and some samples of play as we test them.

So please jump in and offer some thoughts as I migrate the initial info over to the GrogHeads forums.


This week’s soundtrack:

Imagine my surprise when my son was singing along with this in the car. He’s more likely to listen to Twenty One Pilots than classic 80s hard rock, but he was digging this one.

As a side note, I would be likely to put this tune in the top 10 of my personal all-time debut album side-1, track-1 tunes that’s topped by Welcome to the Jungle, with Bring da Ruckus a close second, and Good Time, Bad Time from Led Zeppelin pretty close behind.


Game that caught my eye:

Explorers of the North Sea arrived.  My free time departed.


What I’m doing this week when I should be playing games:

Catching up on unboxing photos of games, and setting up some excellent content from our writers to publish soon.


The best thing I read this week was:

A fascinating article from ESPN about the rise, fall, and (potential) rebirth of daily fantasy sports – AKA “gambling without gambling“.  It’s amazing what ego can cost some people.



Signing off…   Bayonet 06 – out!

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One Response to Tracer Rounds: The C2E2

  1. Brian Train says:

    Brian Train will have to clone himself first!

    (and stop speaking of himself in the third person)

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