Depending on where you fight, armoured warfare may or may not be very effective or useful, even a little heretical. Generally, the more people, the better for armoured combat in general (both infantry and vehicular). Firstly to define armoured warfare as covered in this article (each will be examined more closely later in the article):
Infantry armour: Shields, battle armour
Vehicular armour: Homemade mechanized
Usually armoured warfare isn’t used in soakertag games and other variants which require players to hit relatively small areas to score kills. Good systems are those which allow predetermined sized wet marks to score kills, whether on the upper, mid, lower torso, back, neck and legs (not including feet and hands), thus making armoured warfare a viable tactical option without unbalancing the game.
The arguments presented here are largely based on experiences in urban combat, so see The Urban Environment for an idea of the context this article was written in.
Let us begin with infantry armour.
Shields: Whether one wants to include shields in a battle is usually dependent on the number of people involved within the battle. Many water warriors ban the use of shields in their water fights. Reasons include the fact that people can use their shields to achieve invulnerability from streams of water and water bombs. These are totally logical and understandable reasons. However, in the case of larger scale water fights, shields can add another dimension of tactics in water fights.
An example: A water fight of 20 people a side (that makes 40 total). Each team can be given 6 shields. These shield fighters can form a small armoured formation. However, due to the number of opposing team members, it has been proven that such armoured formations are hardly invincible. A good flank, ambush or other tactics can dispatch shielded fighters without sustaining unacceptable casualties (or even no casualties). Thus, it has been established that infantry armour can be defeated in a large enough scale battle. This does not mean that such armoured squads are useless. On the contrary, used wisely, they can be invaluable on the field of battle. Shielded fighters are more or less immune to artillery, even in open areas.
They can also be held in reserve while an allied force is engaged. If the allied force is in direr straits, the shield fighters can charge through the forward lines, surprising the enemy with the fresh wave, while allowing the allied force to regroup and consolidate behind the shields. The shield fighters can either finish the battle (be wary of enemy traps and tactics though) or form a shell around the allied force, allowing the whole force to pull out under a fighting retreat. This is much like the role of the triarii of ancient Rome.
One thing to note is that the shield usually takes one arm or hand, so carrying larger soakers will be difficult. Shield fighters mainly carry light soakers which are not overly unwieldy. The armament can still be a two-handed soaker, as long as the correct shield design is used (strapping to the forearm, leaving the hand free). Sidearms are preferable for mobility, although lacking in firepower (especially for wet-mark kill systems).
When receiving enemy water bombs and artillery, it is best to take the bomb right in the centre of the shield to catch the impact where it can be evenly spread out and allow the players to keep balance, especially in combat situations, where a stumbling moment can be exploited by fast oppoenents.
There are different formations large numbers of shielded fighters can use.
The tortoise: This is a total defense, but usually slow moving formation. It requires a lot of teamwork, manpower and space to use. It can also be quite a tight cram and a little uncomfortable. Done properly, the troops within are immune to water balloons and water streams. However, the troops in this formation cannot combat effectively without risking getting hit and can do little else but plod on slowly. Once one or few get hit and open holes in the shell, the rest of the formation follows suit (so in this case, the commander should order an immediate change to loose combat formation).
Loose combat formation: This should be the default stance for shield squads as it combines the mobility of the infantryman with the defensive advantages afforded by the shield. Note that while it grants both advantages to a certain extent, it does not excel at either. This formation can move as fast as a normal infantryman, and gives the same visibility.
Shield wall: This is the simple shield wall. While impressive looking, it can be easily defeated by use of appropriate tactics. Flanking, causing the wall to overstretch, etc are methods of defeating shield walls. Shield walls however, while only providing frontal cover (unlike the tortoise formation which affords total protection), can move rather fast with good teamwork. This allows the shield wall to advance under normally withering fire (or water) without being suppressed to a great extent. At the same time, they can provide cover for non-shielded infantry behind them, who in turn can defend the flanks and rear.
Mods: When making a shield, different modifications can be made to it to suit individual fighters or fulfill a specific need. The riot shield is basically a shield which has a small slot covered by transparent material to give some forward visibility in case suppressed behind a shield. Ergonomic shields can also be made to provide more flexibility in handling the shield. Whether the shield is intended to be for a right-handed / left-handed user, off-hand / dominant-hand mounted also plays a part in shield design. Shape also affects how the shield is wielded and what formations can use it. For example, tortoise formations must use tower shields and cannot use round shields.
As we can see, with large enough numbers, shield fighters can be a balanced force in a water war, adding yet another useful (but not invulnerable) tool to the commander’s arsenal. Teamwork in shield formations helps tremendously.
Note: Most water guns can also be used to shield oneself from incoming water and water bombs. This should only be used as a last resort as it usually requires the infantryman to turn his gun sideways to block the shot, losing his offensive capabilities momentarily. This can be used to save oneself in case evasion fails.
Battle armour: Battle armour refers to any piece of player-bound armour that is not a shield. Battle armour can be classified into different classes based on mobility restriction.
Light armour: Light armour does not restrict visibility and only slightly affects mobility, while providing protection, usually on one side of the player (normally the front). It usually covers the front upper-mid torso and back at most. This still leaves the legs, lower torso, and neck vulnerable to attack. Light armoured infantry have more or less the same mobility as normal troops and can be used as light infantry when provided with light-medium guns. Light armour is useful for quick high risk incursions as the armour can protect the wearer for some time, but left too long, the opponents would hit the vulnerable locations and make short work of the light armoured infantry.
Combat armour: Combat armour is slightly heavier-class armour than light armour as it restricts mobility further. It usually restricts mobility by covering the lower torso, where the hip area and lower down is. This affords more protection though and may even cover the back more extensively. Some designs may incorporate armoured collars, which protect the neck from the sides and back. This restricts visibility and head movement though. Combat armour squads can be used in a shock troops role, occupying the opponent’s combat and tactical abilities in the chaos of battle while waiting for the main force to arrive. To counter this, superior tactics or trained anti-armour troops can be used.
Power armour: This final form of armour is the king of infantry armour, protecting almost every part of the body from attack, and thus named after the mighty armoured troops of science-fiction stories. It also slows movement significantly, although it makes up for this in armour coverage. Power armour covers the upper, mid, lower torso as well as the back. It also protects the legs, neck and arms, some designs even incorporating a helmet or some form of waterproof headgear. The power armoured infantryman is very slow and with proper light support, just as hard to kill. Psychological effects may also be observed with non-experienced opponents. Support options are usually found on the power armour, such as extra water bombs, filled and unfilled and water reserves, supporting lighter troops. Large guns are also standard issue for power armoured infantry as the armour already restricts their movement more than the gun could. As such, they can possess quite a bit of firepower. Because of all these implements and weight, the wearer must have considerable stamina and strength.
The greatest drawback is the lack of mobility. Numbers will eventually get the better of the power armoured infantryman as water gets though unprotected cracks in the armour. Generally, the back offers less protection than the frontal armour. The neck may still be partially uncovered, as well as the groin, joint and armpit regions. These can be exploited by skilled anti-armour troops who use small water bombs to deliver an accurate payload of water to vulnerable spots. To beat combined arms troops, a commander can either eliminate the lighter infantry around the power armour and deliver the killing blow with anti-armour squads or drive wedges into the combined arms group with infantry and take out the power armour, eliminating the nucleus for the lighter infantry.
Power armour can be used as shock troops together (but never without combat armour support) with combat armour troops. Power armour usage usually revolves around using the armour as a nucleus for forces. Combined arms where lighter infantry is used with such heavy support, can be a deadly organizational strategy, although it too can be beaten.
I have had no experience with go-karts and bicycles in actual combat, but on larger battlefields, they may be good for logistical support and a means of transportation from sector to sector. However, this may sometimes be dangerous, even away from the frontlines. Combat on bicycles and motorized vehicles can be dangerous as the rider may slip up and get injured, or hit somebody and get both parties injured. Logistical support can also come under ambush and the surprise factor increases the chance of injury. Thus, thinking of a vehicle which would combine safety with armoured protection, the idea of homemade foot-propelled vehicles surfaced.
Henceforth, all information and arguments are of a speculative nature and should not (yet) be considered canonical as combat doctrine. Logic and common sense is used however, so ideas represented here may be close to the truth. We did try to make such a vehicle, but were foiled by a bulldozer.
Vehicles have strong impervious frontal and side armour, making the crew within rather safe, save lucky shots through gunports and other holes. But to balance this off, the rear armour in all approved vehicles must be made of something destructible, like cardboard, which can be shot off by heavier weapons like WBLs. Considering the vehicle's limited mobility, this is not too difficult provided infantry support is not fielded with the vehicle. Once the rear armour is down, the crew is as good as free kills in a box. Also, cardboard is easily obtainable and is not too permanent, therefore, field repairs at a depot (although they take quite a bit of time) could be done to replace the rear armour with new cardboard and get the vehicle ready for more action. Thus, vehicles can respawn, but much slower.
Also, homemade tanks are quite safe as it is rather hard to squash somebody with the hull of a corrugated plastic tank, driven by foot.
Homemade vehicular armour: The design is basically a box with wheels, to put it very simply. I’ll try to include blueprints soon. The two more established designs and the other more theoretical designs will be described below. All these vehicles do not have floors and are driven by footpower, rather primitive, but still quite cool.
Driver: He well, drives. Should be quite strong and disciplined as complex maneuvers may be required from a low mobility box on wheels, without him, the box doesn’t move.
Technician: Performs a variety of jobs from loading to triggering secondary weapon systems and organizing the ammo and crew artillery, he is essential especially for the MBT and MAB.
Commander: Coordinates movements and receives directives via radio from field commanders. These are important people and should be good leaders who know how to summarize directives into simple orders in the chaos of battle.
Gunner: Some vehicles may require dedicated gunners for primary weapons. They must aim well needless to say.
Infantry Fighting Vehicle:
Minimum Crew: 1 driver, 1 technician, 1 extra multi-role man
Recommended crew: 2 drivers, 1 commander, 1 technician, 1 gunner
Capacity: 4-6 troops and crew
Armament: 2 riot blast shotguns mounted on front, gunports
Purpose: Infantry support and hot-zone missions
Mods: ISV, IAV
This is a rather tall (1.5m) vehicle as it does not have a turret design, although it may have a topside hatch. The height allows the occupants to move at a jog, or for very disciplined crews, even run. It features gunports for the occupants to shoot out.
The walls can mount tons of supplies (although this decreases speed), water bombs, water bottles, spare weapons, equipment. An IFV dedicated to this becomes an Infantry Support Vehicle class and may want to forgo the gunner for a logistics crewman.
The primary armament of the IFV would be the infantry inside gunning through the ports. If a heavier vehicle is needed, the gunports can be modded into sponsons and heavier guns like a CPS-class gun mounted on each sponson, creating an Infantry Assault Vehicle (needs more gunners though). 2 riot blast shotguns on the front could help to clear enemy infantry in the way, scoring kills at close range. This could promote the IFV as a means of delivering troops to a critical objective, charging up to an enemy line, clearing them with the shotguns and pushing through to the objective. This would often be suicidal for the vehicle, but as long as the squad achieves its objective, it would be worth it.
Without infantry within, the IFV would be rather defenseless except for the shotguns and the crew's weapons. It does move faster than the more heavily armed Main Battle Tank however. The reason will be explained there.
Mods of the IFV which are not as tall would reduce speed, but allow a gunner to man a topside hatch and shoot at the other infantry outside.
Main Battle Tank:
Minimum Crew: 1 driver, 1 technician, 1 gunner, 1 commander
Recommended crew: 2 drivers, 1 technician, 1 gunner, 1 commander
Armament: Large water cannon, homemade water gun (for tap-shot)
Purpose: Assault, Close infantry support
This design's main chassis is shorter, thus making most of the crew crouch and hence slower than the IFV. This design however, sports a man height turret which incorporates the main water cannon and a smaller homemade gun for tap shooting while the main gun is being reloaded by the technician. A commander is essential for coordinating the tank's movements, due to the gunner standing up and everyone else crouching/squatting. The lessened height makes the tank a little more stable, until you factor in the turret that is.
The MBT is meant to be used in a general-purpose role, whether as a pivot for a tactical maneuver, infantry support or an advance. Note that the MBT is not very fast, so it would be lagging behind the infantry in terms of maneuvering. Also, the turret would have a more limited firing arc on the move. Against other enemy armour, the MBT would do reasonably well, although it would have to close in to the rear armour and get a good hit with the main cannon, which can be rather difficult except for the most disciplined crews. As such, anti-armour warfare is best carried out by infantry, although tank support is an option in the anti-armour tactics.
Mobile Artillery Battery:
Minimum crew: 1 driver, 2 technicians
Recommended crew: 2 drivers, 3 technicians, 1 commander
Armament: 3 WBLs Artillery class
Basically, this is a modification to the IFV design, only with a sunken in turret holding the WBLs in a neat orderly fashion. The sunken turret is 360 degree just like the MBT, the hinges on the battery allow different angles. Complete with measurement equipment and pre-calculated charts (e.g. wind effect, trajectory, angles, power). The ideal would be an electronic tire pumper so that the battery can be easily pressurized, although with the recommended crew, normal bicycle pumps will do. The MAB is also more open than the IFV and MBT due to its role. It is basically a more accurate artillery battery on wheels, which also allows the crew to carry different kinds of rounds and calculation charts. Devices for measuring values like wind speed and direction can also be included (e.g. a simple wind sock). This is a theoretical design. Infantry spotters are useful.
Remember that the vehicular section is speculative and meant for fun, so it may or may not work, we hope to find out in battlefield situations once the season begins. Woodland areas would be terrible for armour, but urban and suburban may find it useful in some circumstances.
| Posted: 20061201