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Old November 19th, 2008, 03:57 PM
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Confused Realistic Artillery Management by a FOO

I started this thread as a result of a post on another thread, and didn’t want to divert that thread.

Here’s the post that caught my attention:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RERomine View Post
Here's the link to the Blitz site if anyone wants to see what's out there:

http://www.theblitz.org/

I know Cross knows where the site is and I agree about the FOO guidelines. They went from no guidelines allowing things to be too gamey to too restrictive eliminating things that could really be done.
This got me thinking about realistic WW2 artillery management by a FOO. I’m no expert, but I’ll try to share my understanding.

I think the "gamey" concern is the apparent control, by the FOO, of individual guns; which appears to allow him to plot each gun at individual targets all over the map. I agree this is somewhat gamey.

The optional FOO rule at the Blitz (in a nut shell) only allows a FOO to plot artillery on one hex. So you have to buy multiple FOOs to have even slight control of artillery on the battlefield.

IMHO this option essentially uses a 1000Kg bomb to KO a pesky jeep.

My understanding of reality, is that a FOO would normally control a minimum of a troop of guns or platoon of mortars (about 4 tubes), rather than individual guns.

However, and this is important, the FOO would give directions to the troop/battery commander who would control the individual guns. And this control could be precise and varied. Artillery was the most sophisticated arm of the army.

The FOO could order all sorts of different types of barrages, which effectively controlled the targeting of individual guns.

Lines

* * * *

The FOO would choose the spacing, the troop or battery commander would make it happen.

A troop of 4 guns would space their shells apart in a line. The spacing would depend on the target, terrain, size of the round and desired effect. A 200 yard line for a troop of guns wouldn’t be uncommon, but then the FOO could diverge the barrage for a less concentrated effect.

* - - * - - * - - *

Gun troops usually sited their guns in a line to help facilitate this.

This sort of barrage was often advanced ahead of attacking infantry. The infantry would ‘lean into the barrage’; which means 4.5 inch (115mm) field guns may be targeted in a line only 150 yards ahead of friendly infantry. FOOs could even change the angle of the line as it moved!

I often use this pattern in SP myself; it’s also useful against an attacking enemy line.

It was also used to lay down curtains of smoke.

Bracket

--- *
Target
--- *

A FOO may choose to bracket a target. Individual guns will fire slightly longer or shorter to achieve this.


Linear

Another pattern was linear:

*
*
*
*

FOO’s could even lay down two parallel lines of smoke (wind permitting) - several hundred yards apart – so tanks could advance between them protected from ATG flank shots.

*s*m*o*k *e*

TANKS -->

*s*m*o*k*e*

Concentrations

Tar*get

All guns would stonk a target at a specific point. Map coordinates accurate to 10M would be used. Adjustments would be in 25M increments.

Diverged Concentration

Undo or diverge concentrations

--- * -- *

* - Target - *

--- * -- *

The FOO can then chose to spread the concentration, perhaps as the enemy target is dispersed. Again, the FOO doesn’t plot individual guns, but the troop/battery commander follows a practiced procedure to achieve the desired result.

The FOO would usually handle the batteries troops independently. He could target one troop out ahead and another on a flank. Not only would he handle troops independently, but he would also adjust each troop’s pattern in the target area as described above. He had a whole toolbox of options at his disposal; his only option wasn’t to stonk one target. But neither could he target individual guns all over the map.

I doubt there’s a coding solution, and besides the current situation is fine; in fact we have the best artillery routine in any game I’ve come across.

If I were to suggest optional restrictions for SP they might include some of the following:

1. FOO can only target two areas at a time.

This would cut back on individual guns plotted all over the map.
I know for a fact that FOOs could handle more than one target area, but not sure if they could handle more than two. If anyone has any info, I’d love to hear it.

2. Guns within the same section/troop/battery must target the same target area.

This means a FOO must plot all the guns from a unit in the same general area.
A target area for a section could be 150M, a troop 300M and a battery 600M.

Therefore, if a FOO had a Battery and an additional troop on call, he must plot all of the battery guns within 600M of each other; and all the troop’s guns must be plotted within 300M of each other.

3. Only Battalion or Company commanders may target battalion or company mortars.


I’d be interested to hear if anyone could correct me, or educate me further regarding WW2 artillery management.

cheers,
Cross
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Old November 19th, 2008, 05:48 PM

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Default Re: Realistic Artillery Management by a FOO

I don't think it's inappropriate for "Zero" units to call artillery. Training to do so is standard and can be found in US Army field manuals at platoon level. I've done so myself, but only in training. We did call in live rounds, however. Way cool!! Not sure if they 86 it when it hits real combat situations, however.

As far as artillery target patterns (sheafs), that might be something we would want to take over to the Blitz forum. Nothing in the game restricts anything you've suggested. Below is a link that discusses more about artillery sheafs.

http://www.poeland.com/tanks/artillery/sheafs.html
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Old November 19th, 2008, 07:09 PM
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Default Re: Realistic Artillery Management by a FOO

Quote:
I doubt there’s a coding solution, and besides the current situation is fine; in fact we have the best artillery routine in any game I’ve come across.
Actually the SP artillery model is one of the poorest I have ever come across in a wargame...

Most tabletop wargames rules have had far better artillery models since the 1970s, in fact.

In real life, one observer fires one fire mission (which may involve multiple batteries) at one target point at one time. With multiple battery shoots, he may ask for all to fire Time On Target, or let the batteries start firing when ready.

Part of the call for fire is the target location and the observer's angle of sight on the target (so calls for adjustments left 150, right 50 etc makes sense to the firing party). An observer does not move while controlling the shoot, obviously!. (Those in little airy planes make special cases).

Normal fire is preceded by a single guide weapon in the battery firing ranging shots for observed shoots. Fire for effect is not called until the ranging piece is "on" in order to conserve valuable ammo. Then the observer calls for N rounds at rate Y, and each tube in the battery expends that number of rounds at that rate then stops. He may then call for a repeat - which would fall where the last lot went, since the guns are still lined on that point. That was the WW2 case, and even today with fire control computers is much of a muchness. With GPS and laser range finders, the ranging component can be skipped and the battery can go straight to Fire For Effect in theory, but if own troops are "Danger Close" then single round ranging would likely still be used!.

So the observer should only be able to control one fire mission on one observed target at one time. (There are exceptions that most train-spotter wargamers would jump on and use as the norm, as is the usual case with wargamers).

At the gun end, each troop likely has only one artillery plotting board and the guys to do the arithmetic (the 25pdr had a sort of slide rule as part of that for charge calculations). Each mortar section in our battalion had the one, for each 2 mortars. Individual guns are not the independent fire units as is the case in SP. Troops, Batteries, or Sections might be. The real limit apart from these calculators is the number of frequencies available - SP does not model radio networks very well either, everyone with a radio has a virtual "mobile phone". Voice radio networks just don't work that way at all!. If you have used CB or ham radio, you will have an idea.

All SP artillery is "Under Command" artillery - you have the exclusive use of these things. Real arty might be under Command, but is more likely to be "Direct Support" - Highly likely to fire your missions but not 100% guaranteed since it is in D/S to several units, or "General Support" where it is shared out between more users.

SP weaknesses
- An observer can engage multiple targets
- Observers can move while directing fire
- An Observer can call for fire (speed) and then any old radio 0 unit can take over directing fires for accuracy as it has LOS without generating an entirely new fire sequence
- The individual gun element is the fire direction unit (One reason I prefer mortars to be in section type elements and not as individual mortars in the OOBs - stops silly people firing #1 at X,Y, #2 at A,B and #3 at W,P all 200 degrees apart... ). There is no fire computation centre at the battery.
- The comms network is oversimplified (any old 0 element can request the arty directly, rather than pass up the chain of command. He is on the arty network, as if he had a mobile phone and not netted voice radio)
- No ranging, or rather ranging by Fire For Effect
- Apart from the turn 0 fire, no programmed fires. No barrages etc.
- Simplistic counter battery
- Over easy detection of on-map arty
- Instant set-up of batteries, just plonk the guns down in any old random way. No paralleling of the sights, no site survey. Before GPS there was a reason that arty lined up in relatively close order in nice straight lines, like having LOS between the gun sight mirrors to get set up with all the the weapons sights in parallel. Otherwise #2's 1200 mils will be rather different from #1's which is not good
- No programmed fires, like creeping barrages for the assault

Yes - as part of 1/51 Highland, we did do a joint shoot with both mortar balloons (1/51 was unique in having 2x4 platoons of mortars when most inf bns had 1x6, we also had 2x4 platoons of 120mm MOBAT/WOMBAT) on the same baseplate, with 2 MOPs each engaging a different target on one frequency with one FDC running 2 mortar boards simultaneously. Oh joy!. The "White Hats" of the directing staff were running round like blue-arsed flies ensuring range safety, but the FDC still managed to take corrections from MOP A and apply to Platoon B...

A pretty poor arty model, overall. It would need a completely new game engine to rectify it.

This site is good for artillery: http://members.tripod.com/~nigelef/maindoc.htm

Cheers
Andy
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Old November 19th, 2008, 07:50 PM

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Default Re: Realistic Artillery Management by a FOO

Well, that all pretty much makes sense to me except the part about quick set-up. The artillery "hipshoot" has been around for some time. I dug up some information on it published in 1978, which was before GPS I think. Never can tell what the military had when and didn't bother to tell anyone. The intent was to get rounds out pretty quickly. I'm sure accuracy had to suffer some because all the quick set-up couldn't have done all the stuff you described. They basically kicked out a spotting round and adjusted to target from that, assuming the round wasn't lost.

One other thing that was mentioned was the "hipshoot" wasn't a universal concept. The US Army used it in 1978, but I'm not sure who else used it. Information on it can be found in FM 3-09.70 "Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for M109A6 Howitzer (Paladin) Operations". The time standards are in an ARTEP doc I can't get to. I would have to believe with GPS, the concept has to be more universal now, however I doubt everyone calls it a "hipshoot"
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Old November 19th, 2008, 08:32 PM
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Default Re: Realistic Artillery Management by a FOO

[quote=Mobhack;654252]
Quote:

In real life, one observer fires one fire mission (which may involve multiple batteries) at one target point at one time. With multiple battery shoots, he may ask for all to fire Time On Target, or let the batteries start firing when ready.
Hi Andy,

Here's a quote from the site you referenced that appears to contradict this.

An observer could use the two troops of his battery simultaneously against two different targets and the battery's two observers could each engage a different troop target simultaneously. If a battery's observers were presented with more targets than the battery could engage then the 'multi-battery' procedures enabled them to call for the fire from other batteries via their own BCP and RHQ.

However, if you are right that an observer could only plot one target point at a time, I'm surprised that it's not possible to code that into the game in some way.

cheers,
Simon

Last edited by Cross; November 19th, 2008 at 08:34 PM..
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Old November 20th, 2008, 06:44 AM
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Default Re: Realistic Artillery Management by a FOO

[quote=Cross;654275]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mobhack View Post
Quote:

In real life, one observer fires one fire mission (which may involve multiple batteries) at one target point at one time. With multiple battery shoots, he may ask for all to fire Time On Target, or let the batteries start firing when ready.
Hi Andy,

Here's a quote from the site you referenced that appears to contradict this.

An observer could use the two troops of his battery simultaneously against two different targets and the battery's two observers could each engage a different troop target simultaneously. If a battery's observers were presented with more targets than the battery could engage then the 'multi-battery' procedures enabled them to call for the fire from other batteries via their own BCP and RHQ.

However, if you are right that an observer could only plot one target point at a time, I'm surprised that it's not possible to code that into the game in some way.

cheers,
Simon
Sure - an observer could plot each troop of his own battery onto 2 different (but both in LOS so he could observe each). But as I already said - that would be one of the exceptions to normal practice that most wargamer train-spotters would elevate into Standard Operating Practice.

- The 2 troops are part of the same battery, on the same radio network etc
- Both targets are in LOS of the observer
- It will take more time to set up the shoot, and to observe since he (and the BCP) must ensure that each correction is applied to the correct troop. Each "shot" and "splash" message the battery sends out will have to be preceeded by an identifying code for the troop, and if the targets are widely apart then the observer might have to face in a different direction (or run to an opposite side of the house he is spotting from etc).

Or if the 2 targets are rather close together, then it is just a variation on adjusting the concentration (what the USA calls the "sheaf") by moving one particular troops' Mean Point of Impact and not that of individual guns. We had a similar thing with the mortars called "check belt" - if you wanted to fire into a wood edge (where the rounds impact was not easily observed) then you would range in say 50 yards in front of the wood line, and when satisfied call for a "check belt" and each individual mortar in sequence then fired 1 round so you could then issue individual corrections. Once satisfied with the belt of fire you issued a final adjustment to lift the belt X metres into the tree line and then Fired For Effect.

It is much more straightforward for any set of wargames rules therefore to state that an observer can only operate one observed shoot at one time. otherwise the train-spotters will use it as the 100% solution, just like say they will have 12 of the extra-super-rare (18 items produced) 88 on a truck as part of their standard German core's troops .

Unobserved shoots are a different kettle of fish of course, but those do not have observers, only Target Reference Points and type of fire as the constituent fire order.

About the only way one could do this in the simplistic SP Command and Control System is to introduce the "Comand Points" system of SP3. Say an observer had to use 1 CP to call for fire - problem is that SP treats each individual indirect fire game piece as a battery in its own right. A typical on-map battery has 6 individual guns so our observer would need to have 6 CP to call these 6 "batteries" that SP treats them as, rather than the collective of 6 that the battery actually is.

And SP still has the ultra simplistic communications system, whereby any old "0" element can casually talk to the artillery because it has a magical radio that acts like a modern mobile phone. An AOP should be considered on the arty network, but a platoon commander should have to pass the request up to company, then to bn, then across to the arty representative depending on the radio network. And since these would be separate nets operating on fixed frequencies in WW2, then it would just be a request to stonk ABC123 since there was no direct conversational route for the platoon commander to talk to the guns. he could only do so by relaying the message through several nets.

That is why WW2 FOOs tended to operate from a carrier, with a few supporting other ranks as driver/operators. The carrier carried the long range radio which was netted to the arty frequency, and also usually a short range radio to net into the infantry company frequency (or just voice contact with the supported arm if not). Plus some telephone wire and a phone to use to link to the carrier from his perch e.g. up a steeple.

And that was still the case in the 1970s - a radio was set (netted) on the one frequency and stayed there since the netting-in process was tedious. You did not switch to "channel 9" unless you had to, since doing so needed a lot of playing with the SWR dials to tune the antenna etc (and if you had a land rover FFR, these meters were out on the bonnet so you had to stop and go to the front of the wagon and shout readings to the guy in the back). Then you had to find the other net that was supposed to be on 771.6 or whatever as they had netted to their own particular idea of 771.6 was for their local conditions... The positioning of platoon hides was often dictated as much by what spot had the best radio reception than what was ideal tactically.

I can remember when in Phillips MEL in the mid 80s we had one of their radios that could choose from 16 channels off the handset, and it then did whatever was necessary with the antenna all by itself. I would have loved one of those 10 years earlier, it would have saved me standing out in the rain with a torch in the night at the front end of a land rover FFR shouting at the radio operator.

It would really need a completely new game engine to properly implement a set of Command and Control rules and a realistic artillery model. As with most wargames command rules, they are would also there to tone down the "player as God" effect. (Enemy on my flank unexpectedly? - no problem everyone instantly moves left to take them on since I as God-player can see it even if the piece called A0 "Col Klink" has no knowledge of the event yet, let alone the game piece BB0 "Lt Duffer" and so I instantly move Klink and Duffer by my "hand of God").

Cheers
Andy
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Old November 20th, 2008, 12:19 PM
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Default Re: Realistic Artillery Management by a FOO

Quote:
Originally Posted by RERomine View Post
Well, that all pretty much makes sense to me except the part about quick set-up. The artillery "hipshoot" has been around for some time. I dug up some information on it published in 1978, which was before GPS I think. Never can tell what the military had when and didn't bother to tell anyone. The intent was to get rounds out pretty quickly. I'm sure accuracy had to suffer some because all the quick set-up couldn't have done all the stuff you described. They basically kicked out a spotting round and adjusted to target from that, assuming the round wasn't lost.

One other thing that was mentioned was the "hipshoot" wasn't a universal concept. The US Army used it in 1978, but I'm not sure who else used it. Information on it can be found in FM 3-09.70 "Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for M109A6 Howitzer (Paladin) Operations". The time standards are in an ARTEP doc I can't get to. I would have to believe with GPS, the concept has to be more universal now, however I doubt everyone calls it a "hipshoot"

That was called a "Crash Action" in commonwealth artillery units early on in WW2 and if you want to know just about everything there is to know about that and FOOing I would suggest the three book series by George G Blackburn.

This quote from "The Guns of Normandy"........"as early as the summer of 1942..." Every Troop in the regiment can routinely bring it's guns into action and get off the first round within 3 to 5 minutes of receiving such a target while travelling along a road ( Three minutes if there is no unusual delay because of terrain )"

That's one to two turns tops

Try that with the game. Set up 25 pounders "towed" by gun quads and run them down a road then deploy in a field. On the turn you do it you will not be able to call for indirect targets that turn but will have to wait for the next to call it then typically wait 2.2 turns before you will get the rounds on target so in that respect the game is a bit slow.

The problem is there is ONE and only one "procedure" for arty in the game. There is no real attempt made to model how each nations artillery handled things like this and there were huge strides forward made in some nations between 1930 and 1946 in that regard and other nations didn't change much at all so every nation is treated the same which greatly handicaps the nations like Britian, and the commonwealth nation who had vastly superior methods of handling artillery. So in this game everyone is treated the same when everyone who's ever cracked open a book on the war knows there is no way The USA, Commonwealth, Germany, Russia and Japan had equal methods of handling arty.

But it's a game folks. Generally what we have works pretty well and we ARE aware of it's limitations


Don
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Old November 20th, 2008, 12:57 PM
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Default Re: Realistic Artillery Management by a FOO

Quote:
But it's a game folks. Generally what we have works pretty well and we ARE aware of it's limitations
Yes it is, and as I mentioned above the main point of many game rules is to limit the human player's Godlike powers.

A crash shoot could be done by Commonwealth arty - but it was not the norm. And since there would be no survey or paralleling of the guns, that was likely just a fire onto a general area - OK if someone called for an Uncle target since there will be a load of batteries servicing the target.

But if the option was available in the rules then every rules-lawyer wargamer would take the rare "once in a blue moon" event as the common and everyday and fire each and every arty shoot as a crash shoot.

Unless you write a rule along the lines of:

Requesting a crash shoot: Throw 1D6
- If you get a 6, then the crash shoot occurs
- On a throw of 2 through 5, you have wasted an orders point
- If you throw a 1 then the battery has experienced radio problems and will be unavailable for 3 turns.

Which is another way to use games rules to limit the human player-God, in this case by allowing for bad outcomes to happen.

Andy
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Old November 20th, 2008, 01:34 PM

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Default Re: Realistic Artillery Management by a FOO

I can see where it would be difficult for one observer to call in artillery on more than one target. The whole, "Shot, over", "Shot, out", "Splash, over", "Splash, out" process when adjusting fire would get complicated if trying to deal with two targets. We never requested a sheaf type, so I figure that was based on target type and objective of the fire. Maybe decided at the FDC or something. Not sure.

One aspect of the SP artillery model that has drawn complaints is the wide spread of rounds coming from the same gun and guns within one battery. WinSPWW2 has tightened it up quite a bit. Use to be rounds from one gun could land far enough from the target hex to not even influence it. Rounds from an entire battery could impact in a circle with a 600m diameter. That rarely happens anymore and when it does, it's generally at a extreme range for the gun/mortar or the firing unit has poor accuracy. Artillery now is much more accurate than it use to be.

Still, one annoying aspect is having to readjust fire in what would in effect a continuing FFE. Basically, artillery is called by an observer who doesn't have line of sight. In theory, adjustments are being relayed to the observer by someone who does have LOS. First turn, rounds are off target. Second turn, after adjustment rounds are on target. All fire against that target after the second turn should be on target until the gun/battery fires elsewhere, but the adjustment process has to start all over again. Again, in theory, the azimuth and elevation on the guns haven't change so why have to adjust again? That's just how the model works and as players we except it. None of this is a factor if the observer has LOS because all rounds are pretty much on target.

As far as the God aspect of the game, isn't that a byproduct of most top down, turn based games and the time period? As the time period represented by the game gets closer to present, the less unrealistic it becomes. WinSPWW2 isn't nearly as bad as American Civil War games that have the same problem. Units in the woods still "know" the enemy flank is over the ridge ahead. This is when battlefield communications consisted of "wig-wag" and "runners". During WW2, radio communication became more common and allowed command to know what 1st platoon, Alpha company on the right flank and 3rd platoon, Charlie company on the left flank were dealing with. Although the information about Alpha's situation my not be directly passed to Charlie, they might pick it up by monitoring the net. Today, with computer systems and GPS, it's pretty easy to know where friendly and enemy units are and allowing the God-like approach.
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Old November 20th, 2008, 01:56 PM

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Default Re: Realistic Artillery Management by a FOO

Quote:
Originally Posted by DRG View Post
That was called a "Crash Action" in commonwealth artillery units early on in WW2 and if you want to know just about everything there is to know about that and FOOing I would suggest the three book series by George G Blackburn.

This quote from "The Guns of Normandy"........"as early as the summer of 1942..." Every Troop in the regiment can routinely bring it's guns into action and get off the first round within 3 to 5 minutes of receiving such a target while travelling along a road ( Three minutes if there is no unusual delay because of terrain )"

That's one to two turns tops

Try that with the game. Set up 25 pounders "towed" by gun quads and run them down a road then deploy in a field. On the turn you do it you will not be able to call for indirect targets that turn but will have to wait for the next to call it then typically wait 2.2 turns before you will get the rounds on target so in that respect the game is a bit slow.
I knew there had to be something out there used by other nations. The periodic need by the military of all nations pretty much dictated there had to be, but I didn't know what it was called. I'm sure the Russians and Germans had different names as well.


Quote:
The problem is there is ONE and only one "procedure" for arty in the game. There is no real attempt made to model how each nations artillery handled things like this and there were huge strides forward made in some nations between 1930 and 1946 in that regard and other nations didn't change much at all so every nation is treated the same which greatly handicaps the nations like Britian, and the commonwealth nation who had vastly superior methods of handling artillery. So in this game everyone is treated the same when everyone who's ever cracked open a book on the war knows there is no way The USA, Commonwealth, Germany, Russia and Japan had equal methods of handling arty.

But it's a game folks. Generally what we have works pretty well and we ARE aware of it's limitations


Don
We are all just "spit balling" on things. I wouldn't realistically expect you to go and change everything to suit everyone's desires. One artillery model is fine. If you did separate models for each country, it would all go out the window as soon as the player finds an angle to exploit.

The game gives us infantry, armor and artillery, but every nation had different strategies on how they were employed. Players, on the other hand, do what they want. WinSPWW2 is a chess board with the units the pieces. It is up to the player whether than want to use the "Ruy Lopez" or the "Sicilian Attack"
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