Using the rules in this section, players can convert real-world weapons to Phoenix Command Small Arms Combat System game statistics, and use them in the game. The formulas aren't perfect, but they come reasonably close to the values in the books — in most cases you can't duplicate a PCSACS weapon exactly but can approach it close enough. When in doubt, compare the calculated stats with those of a similar weapon and adjust them as seems most appropriate.
Since these formulas use the metric system, conversion from Imperial measures to metric is necessary for those using Imperial measures. Likewise, weapon stats are measured in the Imperial system in PCSACS, so conversion from metric is necessary in many cases.
BEFORE WE BEGIN…
|…some background notes and information about both these weapon design guidelines and what I learned about the Phoenix Command system by creating them.
Most importantly, perhaps, is to note that Phoenix Command is a formulaic system. It appears (pretends?) to be based on actual weapon capabilties, but to a fairly large degree its values seem to have been created by plugging research data into formulas, and then fudged around a bit to create the numbers that formulas can't come up with easily. There is also the rumor that Leading Edge Games deliberately altered some numbers to prevent attempts at reverse-engineering, but I don't know if that's true. All I can say is that most of the important stats weren't too hard to create formulas for by simply typing as many values as practical into a maths program that does regression (calculating a formula from a set of values for x and y).
What this means for you, the
By the same token, don't be afraid to deviate from the existing numbers — exactly because they are often formula-based, they don't always reflect real weapons' strengths and weaknesses. You will need to do just that if you want to be accurate, though.
Weapon Design Made Easy
These pages include an on-line weapon designer which calculates the outcome of all the formulas in this section for you.
|These will be the most common weapons players will want to design. For the most part, firearms design has been fully reverse-engineered, but there are still some areas that could not be deciphered.
The weapon's length in inches, rounded to the nearest whole inch. For folding-stock weapons, do this for both folded and unfolded stocks.
The mass of the loaded weapon in pounds, rounded to the nearest 0.1 of a pound.
Reload Time (RT)
Depends on the magazine type. The following figures are suggestions, based on weapons in the PCSACS rulebook.
Belt: most often 12; if the belt is held in a drum or other carrier, RT is usually 14
Charging Strip: 8
Detachable Box Magazine: 7 to 10, though usually 8
Internal Magazine: 4.25 × number of rounds that can be held in the weapon (round up)
Loose Rounds: 10 × number of rounds that can be held in the weapon, but often longer
Rate Of Fire (ROF)
The mechanism used by the weapon is the determining factor here:
Automatic: divide the real-world rate of fire in rounds per minute by 120 and round up to find the ROF in rounds per half-second burst; add a * before the ROF to denote autofire
Bolt Action: 3
Burst-Capable: same as for an automatic weapon, but add ** before the ROF (for a weapon that can only fire bursts, not full-automatic, it may be a good idea to give the ROF as only **)
Double-Action Revolver: 1
Lever Action: 2
Semi-Automatic/Self-Loading: indicate this by a single *
Single-Action Revolver: 2
Single Shot Weapon: —
Ammunition Capacity (Cap)
The magazine size in rounds. If more than one magazine size is available, list the most common. For belts, indicate a common belt length — usually 100 rounds for disintegrating-link belts, or the actual belt length for continuous belts.
Ammunition Weight (AW)
For weapons fed from a belt or detachable box magazine, this is its weight in pounds, rounded off to the nearest .1 pounds. The magazine type is Magazine (Mag), Drum (Drm), or Belt (Blt), depending on the exact type of magazine.
For weapons with internal magazines, this indicates the mass of a single round in pounds, rounded off to the nearest .01 pounds. The magazine type is Round (Rnd).
Knockdown (KD) & Sustained Automatic Burst (SAB)
The easiest way to find figures for Knockdown and Sustained Automatic Burst is to compare it to the values for other weapons firing similar ammunition. The table below shows KD values for various ammunition types fired from short- and long-barreled weapons. Barrel lengths are relative to the ammunition — a long barrel for a pistol round is much shorter than a long barrel for a rifle round, for example.
KD and SAB
These stats are some of the hardest to figure out, as they don't appear to be based on hard, real-world values. Your best bet is to copy them from a weapon of similar caliber and mass.
It is possible to calculate an approximation of the KD using the following formula:
KD = Bullet Weight × Muzzle Velocity × 0.0011
in which Bullet Weight is in grams and Muzzle Velocity in meters per second. Note that it seems to work better for pistol-caliber rounds than for rifle ammunition, though. (Formula by William Miller <email@example.com>, via R.J. Andron.)
SAB is a base value that must be adjusted for the weapon in question, by dividing the SAB from the table by the square root of the weapon's weight in pounds. Round the result up to the nearest whole number.
The values are taken directly from a variety of Phoenix Command books; if a caliber does not have an entry for a barrel length, it is because no weapon firing the ammo from such a barrel could be found. Where known, the full metric designation of the round appears in parentheses behind the name used in Phoenix Command weapon data.
Weapon reference books that go into more detail than average often list the sight radius, so that's a good source of this information.
If you can't get the sight radius this way, find a good side photograph of the weapon, and measure both the total length of the weapon and the distance between the front and rear sights. Divide the measured sight radius by the measured length of the whole weapon, then multiply the outcome by the weapon's actual length.
For example, an SVD sniper rifle is 123 cm long, while in a side-on photograph it's 17.8 cm. The radius of its iron sights in the photograph is some 8.4 cm, so the actual sight radius is 8.4 ÷ 17.8 × 123 = 58.7 cm. Looking in the table, this gives the SVD 11 Aim Time steps when using iron sights.
(For those interested, the actual sight radius of an SVD is 58 cm, according to the Compendium of Modern Firearms by Kevin Dockery.)
The number of steps in the Aim Time table is based on the weapon's sight radius, i.e. the distance between the front and rear sights of the weapon.
Steps = Radius0.53 × 1.37
where Radius is in centimeters.
For ease, you can look up the sight radius in the table below and read off the number of steps. If you can't find the exact sight radius, use the one below it. For example, a radius of 37.2 cm uses the 34.9 line, or 9 steps.
An exception is formed by weapons with optical sights. These have 11 or 12 steps, depending on the magnification power and quality of the scope. Generally, low-powered scopes (as fitted to assault rifles) have 11 steps, high-powered ones (used for sniper rifles) have 12.
Additionally, large weapons that have no shoulder stock reduce the number of steps by 1. This is basically anything larger than a pistol that is fired without the use of a stock. A good example is the Heckler & Koch MP5K submachinegun.
The modifier for an Aim Time of 1 depends on the weapon's weight. Use this formula to calculate it:
Md = ln(Weight) × 4.76 + 16.4
Md is the Aim Time Mod, ln is the natural logarithm, and Weight is the weapon's weight in kilograms. In short, take the natural logarithm from the weight (use the "ln" key on a scientific calculator), multiply the result by 4.76 and add that to 16.4.
Naturally, this is a negative modifier.
For the following Aim Time steps, comparison with a similar weapon is usually the best method of "calculation." No formula could be found that gave acceptable results and fit most weapons published for Phoenix Command. For this reason, the following table has suggested steps for a few types of weapon, which should be adjusted slightly based on how easy the weapon is to aim.
Calculate the PEN at a range of 10 hexes by using one of the two formulas below. The first is for round-nosed bullets (like those fired by pistols and submachineguns), the second is for pointed bullets (as fired by rifles and machineguns).
Round-nosed: PEN = (Energy ÷ Caliber) × 0.0363 + 0.130
Energy is the muzzle energy in joules, while Caliber is the weapon's caliber in millimeters.
At ranges larger than 10 hexes, the PEN can be calculated by this formula:
PEN = 0.995Range × 1.03 × Base PEN
where Base PEN is the PEN at a range of 10 hexes (20 yards/±18 meters), and Range is in hexes. You need, therefore, not stick to the ranges set out in PCSACS but can calculate PEN values for any range you want to. However, it is handier for continuity to calculate the weapon's PEN for ranges 20, 40, 70, 100, 200, 300, and 400 hexes. For these ranges, multiply the base PEN by the values from the table at right. Do this before rounding off the base PEN values.
For each range, if the PEN is smaller than 10, drop all fractions after the first decimal (2.4532 becomes 2.4), while if the PEN is 10 or greater, drop all fractions after the decimal point (15.7154 becomes 15).
Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP): multiply the PEN for each range by 0.95 to calculate the PEN of jacketed hollow point rounds. Again, multiply before rounding off the base PEN ratings.
Armor Piercing (AP): multiply the PEN for each range by 1.44 to calculate the PEN of armor-piercing rounds.
High Explosive Anti Tank (HEAT): PEN is constant at all ranges, and does not depend on the round's energy or caliber; instead find the thickness or armor steel that the weapon will penetrate, in inches (1" = 2.54 cm), and enter it into the formula below:
PEN = Thickness1.72 × 34.1
in which Thickness is the number of inches of steel armor plating the weapon can penetrate.
High Explosive (HE): as for HEAT.
Damage Class (DC)
No formula has been found for this yet that will give a decent match. It is probably based on muzzle energy and caliber, but reverse-engineering attempts have so far failed. The obvious solution is that the Damage Class must be determined by "borrowing" from a similar weapon. Taking the exact values from a weapon firing the same ammunition from roughly the same barrel length tends to do the trick, though if there is no published equivalent, guesstimation will have to be employed.
High Explosive (HE) and High Explosive Anti Tank (HEAT): the DC is 10 at all ranges, regardless of the actual energy, PEN, or caliber of the round.
Three-Round Burst (3RB)
No formula has been found for this value either, so take this from a similar weapon or pick a value that looks good.
Minimum Arc (MA)
Calculate the MA at a range of 10 hexes by using this formula:
MA = (Energy ÷ Mass) × 0.0008
Energy is the muzzle energy of the weapon, in joules, and Mass is the weapon's mass in kilograms.
Once the MA for a range of 10 hexes has been found, to calculate it for the other ranges, multiply it by the range and divide by 10. For all values, round fractions nearest; if the value is less than 1, round to one decimal, while values larger than 1 are rounded to the nearest whole number.
Ballistic Accuracy (BA)
Refer to a weapon firing the same caliber and type of ammunition as the weapon you are designing, and copy the BA data from there. If none exists, you'll have to guesstimate the values based on existing, similar calibers.
The progression for Ballistic Accuracy uses the following formula, however (with thanks to Brian Biswell):
BA = BA1 – WF × (log(Range ÷ Range1) ÷ log(2))
BA is the Ballistic Accuracy at the range under consideration, in hexes, and BA1 is the Ballistic Accuracy at the range for which the BA is known. Range is the range (in hexes) for which the BA is being calculated, while Range1 is the range, also in hexes, for which the known BA applies, and finally WF is a Weapon Factor which is 9 for most weapons (pistols, rifles, machineguns, etc.), except, for shotguns for which it is 10.
Fast Pistol Rounds
Sharp-eyed readers will notice that pistol rounds can actually have a lower TOF value than rifle rounds at ranges up to 20 hexes. I don't know why this is either, but it's the way it came out of my regression program. Since at these ranges the TOF values are typically 0 or 1, it usually won't matter anyway, especially with the higher velocities of pointed bullets.
Time Of Flight (TOF)
This can be calculated for each range by dividing the value from the following table by the weapon's muzzle velocity in meters per second, rounding all fractions down. As with the PEN, different values apply for pointed and round-nosed bullets, to allow for the differences in their aerodynamics.
There is also an explosive weapons designer to make this task easier on the pocket calculator.
As with firearms, it is a good idea to compare the stats of the grenade you end up with, to stats of a similar grenade in a Phoenix Command rulebook.
The grenade's length across its widest points, rounded to the nearest 0.1 of an inch.
The grenade's weight, rounded to the nearest 0.1 pounds.
Arm Time (AT)
Arm Time for a typical handgrenade which is activated by a pull-out ring is 3. This may be increased if additional operations must be performed to activate the fuse, such as in the Chinese Type 82 grenade where a cap must first be removed.
Fuse Length (FL)
Equal to the time delay of the grenade, in seconds, divided by 2 and rounded up. Grenades with an impact fuse have an FL of "I".
For hand grenades, convert the commonly-quoted throwing range of the grenade to hexes by multiplying the range in meters by 0.45, or the range in yards by 0.5, for the range in hexes. Round to the nearest whole hex.
Rifle grenades use the same method, but you should use be sure to take the direct fire range, not the maximum range for indirect fire. If only one of the two is listed in references, it is safe to assume that the maximum direct fire range is equal to half the indirect fire range.
In modern hand grenades, the explosive charge typically consists of TNT, TNT mixed with RDX, or composition B. In older grenades, from around World War II onward, charges are typically TNT only, while still older grenades employed all kinds of explosives. In World War I, for example, amatol and even black powder were commonly used, in addition to types for which no effectiveness ratings are available at this time. Up until the late 19th century, black powder was generally the only available explosive.
If you cannot find out what type of explosive is used in a particular hand grenade, TNT is a good type to default to. It is ubiquitous enough that the military uses it as a baseline (as witnessed by the ×1.00 effectiveness multiplier) and so there's a good chance it fills the grenade you're designing.
Mixing Different Explosive
Especially in modern grenades, mixtures of different explosives are used. For these, you can find the effectiveness rating by multiplying the individual ratings by the percentages. A charge consisting of 55% RDX and 45% TNT, for instance, has an effectiveness of 0.55 × 1.50 + 0.45 × 1.00 = 1.28 (rounded off).
If there is only a very small amount of one type of explosive, you can generally disregard it. The American M26A2 grenade, for example, contains 156 g of composition B and 8 g of tetryl. That gives a combined effectiveness of 1.34, compared to 1.35 for a charge of 100% composition B.
The Penetration rating of a grenade at Contact range is based on the weight of explosives in the grenade, using this formula:
PEN = Explosive Mass × Effectiveness × 11.4 + 1.74
in which Explosive Mass is the weight of explosives in the grenade and Effectiveness is a factor based on the type of explosive used, as per the table below.
At a range of 0 hexes, the PEN can be calculated with this formula:
PEN = Explosive Mass × Effectiveness × 17.0 + 0.23
Damage Class (DC)
The DC for a grenade is always 10 at Contact range. No method has been found yet to calculate the DC at other ranges, though.
While this table is not based on any real-life values (for example it does not take the grenade's BC into account) it does produce results of some consistency, the only grenades which seem out of place are the Type 59/RDG 5 and the French DF 37. After you've found the PEN0 and DC0 of your grenade, find other grenades (or artillery shells) with same or similar value and copy their data for other ranges for your grenade. For my design I found nearly equivalent data in the 76 mm gun table of the Artillery Supplement.
More About PEN and DC
by Eero Juhola <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In principle the more BC your explosive generates and the lighter your fragments are, the faster the fragments should go. And the heavier the fragment, the more damage it does. But for now you can attempt something like this: Divide the grenade's Weight (in lbs.) by the BSHCC and see where your grenade fits in on this table:
Base Shrapnel Hit Chance (BSHC)
The number of fragments for modern grenades is frequently listed in the grenade's description in the more detailed kinds of weapon book. For older types, though, such as those from World War II and before, it can be very hard to find.
It should be noted that one way not to determine this number, is to count how many "blocks" there are on a "pineapple" grenade. It has been found that the external grooves on these grenades have absolutely zero effect on fragmentation — they fragment according to imperfections in the outer shell, not along any grooves cast into it.
Determine the number of fragments produced by the grenade, and divide by the values from the table on the right for each range.
For each range where the BSHC is 0.50 or higher, round to the nearest whole number and add * before it to indicate this is the number of automatic hits. If the BSHC is less than 0.50, multiply it by 175 to find the percentage chance of a hit.
Blast grenades have no BSHC.
Example: a grenade holds 5,000 pre-formed fragments. At Contact range its BSHC is 5,000 ÷ 3.25 = 1,538; this is rounded to *15H. At range 0 hexes, its BSHC is 5,000 ÷ 240 = 20.8, rounding to *21. The following BSHC figures are calculated for the various ranges:
Base Concussion (BC)
At Contact range, the BC can be calculated using this formula:
BC = (87 × Mass × Effectiveness) – 90
BC is the Base Concussion, while Mass is the weight of explosives in the grenade, in grams, and Effectiveness is based on the type of explosive used in the grenade, as for Penetration (above). The table at right has those values for common types of explosive.
For plain explosive charges (such as the two TNT charges in the PCSACS rulebook), divide the charge weight in kilograms by 5, add 1 to it, and multiply by the BC calculated above.
Example: a 4-pound TNT charge weighs 4 ÷ 2.2 = 1.818 kg, or 1,818 g. Its BC is calculated as (87 × 1,818 × 1.00) – 90 = 158,076. This is then multiplied by 1 + (1.818 ÷ 5) = 1 + 0.3636 = 1.364, making it 215,552. For ease, that's rounded off to a BC of 22T.
The BC for range 0 can be calculated by dividing the BC found above by 17.5. For the remaining ranges, the BC must obviously drop off, but there do not seem to be any fixed multipliers or formulae for this reduction. Another thing that must be estimated, it seems :(
ROCKET & GRENADE LAUNCHERS
These weapons are essentially combinations of normal ranged weapons and explosive weapons, and so their design is a combination of the rules sets for Firearms Design and Explosive Weapon Design, above. Some additions and modifications are necessary, though.
Maximum Range (MR)
Many rockets, grenades and other explosive weapons have a timed fuse in addition to the impact fuse, in order to self-destruct the round once it travels a certain distance from the weapon. The MR is equal to this self-destruct distance in 2-yard hexes. There is no need to calculate penetration and damage data beyond this range.
Angle Of Incidence (AOI)
This indicates the angle at which the projectile strikes the target, and is used in the rules on page 8 of the Mechanized Combat System to determine hits to the top surfaces of a vehicle.
The AOI is equal to one-tenth the angle under which the round would impact on level ground, rounded to the nearest whole number. For example, if a projectile were to impact under an angle of 20°, its AOI is 2.
It must be added here that I have no idea of how you would go about discovering the impact angle of a grenade in the first place, but hey, at least we know how to calculate the game data derived from it :)