Strategy and Tactics Standard Unit Factors

I'm interested in how game designers come up unit factors. The counters from the earliest board games usually had two factors, combat and movement.  

During the research process at Strategy & Tactics, Standard Unit Factors (SUF) were compiled to quantify a unit's combat power and allow comparisons between other types of units.  Eventually, S&T changed the designation to Comparative Quantified Units (CQ's). The CQs served as unit templates across many games. The SUF chart below from a magazine on the war in North Africa (S&T 21).


First number is combat factor and second number is movement. The two middle numbers for the British tank Divisions are for defense. Other tank divisions attack and defend with the same factor. The lower defense value was a function of poor tactics.

More after the jump.



The early S&T magazines provided their readers with a "behind the curtains" peak at the game design process. It was (and still is) a rare attempt to educate, probably in response to numerous questions. I'm hesitant to call articles such as the one from which I took the SUF chart an early precursor to modern FAQ due to the incredible level of detail and explanations provided. Some of the content was probably in response to criticism. If there is one constant in the wargame community it is strongly held beliefs on a multitude of facts, some quite trivial.

Sometimes, the author's frustration comes out. At the end of a lengthy article discussing the compilation of factors for Russian and German SUFs to include an in depth look at the "basic load" of ammunition on hand for 10 different Russian and German weapons systems the author writes:

"This is another factor (the basic load) that must be taken care of outside of the "unit factor." Now you try and figure it out. If that isn't enough to addle your mind let us consider still one more factor. Radios."

Some highlights from the accompanying text to the North African SUFs: 

Spoiler alert: "No 'perfect' approximation of a unit's actual combat value can be made."

  • First look was at a unit's organization and equipment. 
  • Data compiled on casualty causation by different weapons to compute the casualty inflicting ability of each unit.
  • Modify the casualty inflicting ability (based on optimum performance) by the unit's actual performance.
  • The combat factors were "paper strength".  Actual strength was usually lower. 
  • Changes over the years was due to improvements in tactics, organization and better equipment.
  • Movement factors refer to movement across 10 kilometer hexagons on good roads in one day's average march. 



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