Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How to Think of Ammo

One of the BIG puzzles in load out is how much ammo. A 30 round mag can be 1 to 1.6 lbs depending on the ammo type.  Some doctrines carry 210 rounds or 7 mags including the one in the gun, and some more in loose rounds. Ammo costs money though, in the Philippines a 5.56mm nato costs as much as a meal for a soldier. Imagine a soldier 210 meals worth of rounds. Often soldiers carry 4 extra mags and their load outs appear out of a Vietnam era war movie.

Ammo is how many you can kill

So when I'm writing up load outs, I draw on much of the simulationist experience and the discussion I have with friends with their theories of how much ammo to carry. One telling lesson is working with very very low ammo capacities, like a Sig-12 or shotguns.

The exercise of using a shot gun or studying up on how shotgun doctrine imposes very hard limits to what you can do. Immediately I began and looked at the entire ammo load and think about how many potential enemies and use that to divide the ammo load to track with Baker's Dozen consideration of a miscount and more enemies being around than Intel provides.

Note you don't have to kill all to win, you just have to kill enough and many objectives are not search and destroy.

Ammo is Maneuver 

Then doctrine begins to make sense when you consider ammo load would be designed behind expected force and how much reserves such a military engine would have. So in the Philippines fighting NPA and MILF guerrillas, the army is expected to deploy in much greater force so they need only less ammo since their numbers allow for more maneuvering opportunities. In modern armies where they have to be prepared for equal numbers, they make it up with fire volume hence the much greater ammo load out (> 210 rounds).

In some aspects of maneuver and not just how many you can kill with your gun. Cover fire is using ammo to create an opportunity to move and maneuver, the more ammo the more maneuverability - strange way to look at it. But Ammo does have a weight and it does cost a lot of money. 30 rounds in the philippines is $30+ USD each to a soldier who earns about $200 a month. (very often cronie bureaucrats think in this way about the economics of a soldier in my country). Also consider the budget an army or an individual needs to practice, in the end it all adds up in cost. 

Ammo is a tool in the Art of War

Then there is Ammo in the perspective of Sun Tzu, it is merely a tool in the exercise of violence. To put it plainly - it doesn't matter how much ammo you have its more of how creatively you can think of ways to meet your objective within the limits of what you have (and that is not just the ammo). That means, the PC is designed to kill in many other ways and his tactics involve various other ways of killing - through use of environment, terrain, their own numbers against them, psychological warfare, etc.. etc... Note it is uncommon objective to destroy all opponents (it happens mostly in RPGs lolz).

for the Munchkin

  • Ideally strong and wealthy enough to afford to carry 7-9 mags. this is good enough for a force half your number or enemies of mostly equal in strength but less ammo or less armed. 
  • If you have <4 mags then make sure your stealth, running, intelligence, and equipment is superior than the average on the field. In gurps have 14+ in those and move of 7+ or something like luck
  • Be compatible - realistically you really have to go with what is logistically feasibly and not your "favorite round". AKs get no love in the philippines, so if there is a coup, 9mm and 5.56 would be what is mostly available. Be compatible with your team mates, use the same rounds. 
  • Be adaptable, use battlefield reload- use your enemies weapons and train to be familiar with these. It can be a 1pt perk to just be familiar with a large group of weapons. Seriously GMs should really impose unfamiliarity penalties because some guns are a bit crazy to fire. 
  • Check out shotguns. In the current game, against undead and monsters Solid Slug rounds of 5d6(2) pi++ amd 6d6(2)pi++ is really more bang per buck vs 4d+2 pi to 5d pi. Note that with such power you can blow through cover! You may have to check out the UTAS-15, Kel-tec KSG, the Saiga-12 (there is a bullpup variant) and the Remington 870 with Bullpup Kit.
    • Shot guns are your Gimick or Gadget Rounds! from fire breather, silver buckshot, blessed salt, solid slugs, and explosive rounds. 
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