TIPS: Desperation Morale (rule 14.6): Alan Yngve [10/14/96]

The SL rule, "Desperation Morale" is both a very important rule and one that is sometimes misunderstood by first-time SL'ers. This is an attempt to add some meaning and understanding of this rule.


In practice, every time a unit breaks due to fire, one places a "DM" marker on the unit. This marker remains until _after_ the next rally phase. If a rally attempt is made when the unit has a "DM" marker on it, it is subject to the +4 drm.

The wording of the rule is a little complex, but in essence it says that any firepower directed at a unit "since the prior rally phase" causes the application of this drm on any rally attempts. Of course, good order units don't need to be rallied, but any broken unit could attempt to rally (if a leader is present) and this is where the rule applies. It is a little unusual in the SL-system in that it _only_ affects the rally attempt roll. If no rally attempt is made, the marker will be removed without having had an affect.

What does desperation morale attempt to reflect? Two things: One is the shock of being disorganized/broken/routed by enemy fire and the command disorganization reflected by such a state (refusal to obey "orders"). Second, it makes it harder to "rally" when in a location that is under continued fire. A type of suppression, of sorts, that encourages the player to "rout" his broken squads back out of the line of fire ...

WHAT? GEOMETRY IS USEFUL IN SQUAD LEADER? Alan Yngve [10/6/97] Lines of Sight, hints for improving your battlefield vision

This discussion is presented as an assist to all Squad Leader (SL) players. The concepts here are far from original, but not all players look at the SL boards in this manner so a description of these methods may be helpful to a broad audience. This is a demonstration of Lines of Sight (LOS) and how you can use the regular geometry of the hex grid on the boards to help you estimate clear and/or blocked LOS. Using this technique can be quite valuable, since rule 19.3 says that you are not permitted to check a potential LOS before declaring a shot.

From this game system starting point, a general approach for looking at LOS can be invaluable as a basic assist to our movement and deployment decisions. As we always search for those LOS that might "skirt" one of the many terrain obstructions that we see.

Most SL'ers understand how statistics can sometimes help us understand the SL combat system, but here is how another type of mathematics can be helpful. Regardless of your skill at geometry, please read on, you should find that this is not at all difficult! For ease of presentation, lets pull out our Board 4 and start with a relatively central hex, like o5 (or hex 4o5). Lets assume an intrepid squad has deployed in this hex and one wonders what they can see? We will approach this question by applying a basic "geometry" LOS review. Lets start by examining the easier potential LOS at ranges 1, 2, and 4 hexes.

RANGE OF 1 HEX: Per rule 7.8, units always have an LOS to every adjacent hex (note: some weapons will be prohibited from some types of adjacent fire, but the lack of an LOS will never be the cause of the restriction). So in our case here, all of the hexes at a range of 1 (n4, n5, o4, o6, p4, and p5) are in LOS.

RANGE OF 2 HEXES: The 12 hexes at a range of 2 represent the twelve primary (and also easiest) LOS lines of any hex. LOS determination is fairly simple at a range of 2 and can be divided into two different types of sight-line. The first type of LOS is along the six hex-grain directions that are a continuation of the LOS into the six adjacent hexes. These hex-grain LOS would (in this case) trace clear LOS to m4, o3, q4, and q6. The other two hex-grains have clearly blocked LOS: the LOS to o7 is blocked by the building in o6 and the LOS to m6 is blocked by the woods in n5.

The other six directions are traced through the six _hexspines_ of the occupied hex. This hexspine concept will be important in later rules, and is well defined in the small chart on page 9 and in rule 29.4. Each of these hexspine LOS are exactly between two hex-grains and are demonstrated by the fairly obvious clear LOS to m5, n3, p3, q5, and p6. Here we see the first interesting (although fairly obvious) LOS through a "terrain gap," the LOS to n6 that is traced between the woods in n5 and the building in o6. >From this particular (o5) location, this is the first demonstration of a terrain gap and just the tip of the iceberg!

RANGE OF 4 HEXES: There are 24 hexes that are at a range of 4. The continuation of the 12 LOS directions that we identified through the hexes at a range of 2 are the easiest to examine. Starting with those LOS directions that were clear at a range of 2, we have clear LOS to k5, k3, m2, (but o1 is blocked by the o3 woods), q2, s3, s5 (skirting the r5 woods), and s7. The LOS to q8 is blocked by the building in p6, the LOS to o9 is blocked by the building in o6, the LOS to k7 is blocked by the woods in n5, but the LOS through the terrain gap to n6 is also clear to m8! But what about those 12 hexes we skipped over? This starts to get interesting! Starting with the LOS to k4, if one measures this LOS on the board you will notice that the LOS exactly bisects the m4/m5 hexside, the two hexes that are equi-distant between o5 and k4. Observing this geometric fact will help you immensely in many other situations. The clear LOS to k4 and L2 are pretty easy to see, but what about n1? This LOS will bisect the n3/o3 hexside and even though it looks like the o3 woods will be in the way, it is not. Check it out for yourself, this is a clear LOS! Next is p1, also a clear LOS as it just skirts the other side of the woods in o3. The LOS to r2 is and looks clear, although fire from o5 to r2 would get the +1 hedge drm on the IFT. The LOS to s4 is "clearly clear," but maybe not if wheatfields are present due to that wheatfield edge in hex o5, remembering that this LOS would bisect the o4/o5 hexside! Hex s6 is an exception to the common situation that if there is a clear LOS on the hexgrain and the hexspine at range 4, the intervening hex at range 4 is also likely to be clear, here the LOS to s6 is quite clearly blocked by the woods in hex r5. Again, one can eyeball this by observing that this LOS would bisect the o5/o6 hexside. What about r7? This LOS bisects the p6/q6 hexside and is clear, as long as there are no wheatfields, that is. Finishing the circle around o5, the LOS to hexes p8 and n8 are blocked by the intervening building and the LOS to hexes L7 and k6 are blocked by the adjacent woods in n5.

EXPANDING THE SYSTEM: Just like looking at the LOS to hexes/hexsides at a range of 2 helped when doubling the range to 4, looking at the 18 hexes at a range of 3 will help when doubling the range to 6. At a range of 3, the hex grain hexes have already been covered, but the other 12 are completely new! There are few surprises at a range of 3, but at a range of 6 things again can be quite surprising. The LOS from o5 to r4 is easily clear, but how about from o5 to u4 (a range of 6 and the same direction as r4)? And as the ranges are slowly increased, how about o5 to v3? As the list of possible hexes grows long it is not reasonable to try to include them here, but how about something like an LOS from o5 to b2 (a range of 13)? Yes, admitting that no squad could fire its inherent firepower that far .... Understanding that many more LOS than expected will actually exist and having access to a tool to help you evaluate whether the LOS might be clear or blocked can be an important ingredient for being both cautious and prudent on our SL battlefields!