One Unit, Multiple Fireteams

Something I thought of last night: Say in a Firefight, you’ve got one commander and a single unit objective, but the commander is in charge of two fireteams. Normally, I’d asume you still treat these squads as one unit, moving and shooting together - but what if the commander decides to keep one squad at a given position while trying to Advance the other to a new position? Can he legally do so? Can he even try to Advance both squads to separate positions with the one exchange?

I gotta call BS on this. A unit is defined by two things: a leader and an objective. If a bunch of guys don’t have both a leader and an objective, the specifics of how they’re accomplishing a unit’s particular goals are just color.

The Firefight! rules are pretty loose and abstracted. Dividing guys up into little fire teams on the fly is way too specific for what the system can accomplish.

That said, I’ve been thinking about the possibility of new objectives becoming apparent in the course of a fight, and the ability of each side to divide their forces up into new, opposed sets of units. My intuition tells me Firefight! doesn’t really support that, and that the new objectives should be handled as new fights.


A “unit” in Firefight is a discrete tactical group capable of executing maneuvers and occupying positions. Any other word for “unit” is either:

a. A unit

b. Just color.

So my fireteam, crew, column, battalion, squadron, task force, or posse can act independently if and only if it is in fact a separate unit as declared at the start of the Firefight. If I declare one unit and specify that it contains the 1st of the 3rd, 16th and 21st of the 6th, and 12th of the King’s Own, that’s all well and good, but those bodies can’t maneuver independently. If I declare two units and state that one of them is Corporal James and the other unit is the rest of the squad, then they can maneuver independently.

You could color your Advance by declaring that half of your unit would move up and the other half hold position, but mechanically that would act as a standard Advance action. You could not hold two positions with one unit.

I’m curious as to how this came up, though. Why didn’t you just declare two units? Are you asking if it’s possible to split a unit in mid-Firefight, or does it just irk you to have to call them separate units?

Like Devin, said. It makes great chaos color!

Hi, Luke,

It came up partly because of my run of Fires Over Omac, and partly through looking at the Agra “Kate vs. Weller” Firefight map in the book. I grok the concept of the unit and how it’s meant to work as written; yet, each side on the Agra map has two squads, one anvil, one iron. Plus there are Kate, Omei and the Archcotare on the steps of the temple and Faisal and Nenox over to the left by Faisal’s shuttle. The text makes it clear that their side is considered one “unit” with one commander, and I suppose separating the unit into discrete icons is just a way of honestly represnting the strength of each unit on the map.

Yet the disposition of forces on the map shows me one “unit” starting the fight in occupation of two positions, the temple steps and Faisal’s ship, and another seeming to occupy three - Weller’s sled and each of the crowds on either side of the burning wheel in the courtyard.

Now, presumably Weller, Kate, Omei, the Archcotare, Faisal and Nenox are going to stay right where they are throughout the entire battle, giving orders and / or performing specialist actions. But their very separation from the rest of ther unit could tempt a player into thinking, “Hey, these are discrete squads - I can order one down the middle and have the other take the flank! And I could always have Faisal Advance and join one of my squads if things get in trouble!” Because they’re working for their commander, who has only the one objective, they’re still a “unit”.

During my run of the demo, we did a prison break-in firefight, with my players trying to steal Warden Danica’s stash of coltane and other materials. They broke in with a squad of iron (thanks to some sweet talking of the Lord Steward) and a squad of Kerrn miners who’d tunnelled them to a weak spot in the prison walls. I reprsented them on the map as such, and when Gen. Leaf made a failed Advance, only the iron got trapped out in no-man’s-land.

In retrospect, I should have told the players that they had to move as a unit - but I was unsure of the rules and my position enough that I let it stand. We were rushed anyway and I wound up fudging the end of the firefight because Leaf’s player had to go home, but it’s something I’ve been confused about since then.

Anyway, any clarification or slaps-about-the-head at my missing the bleeding obvious would be appreciated.

All of what you describe could happen! And it would probably add to the awesome of the firefight. The one thing that wouldn’t happen is a change in dispo. It’s all description; doesn’t affect the numbers.

It’s a game mechanic – albeit a very flexible one – but it doesn’t handle the introduction of new playing pieces in the middle of a turn AT ALL.

But if, before you get going, you feel that it’d be cool to split off a unit and take the tower (or whatever), then do it! But do it before you dive in. If you feel like you’re getting bogged down in one objective and that the situation should develop more fluidly, then narrow your objectives down. Make them small and tangible. This will lead to more Firefights, but I think that’s cool!


Ah, okay. A unit established as being in a couple of places at once at the beginning of the firefight is fine; a unit that tries to break chunks of itself off during the firefight isn’t. Right.

Thanks, guys!

So if you have the commanders on the steps of the Cathedral and another group by the shuttle, then I can advance to the steps and I still have to engauge and fight the entire unit?

Going by the book example, I’d say that, unless you were somehow very clever, you’d still have to fight your way past the squads of anvil and iron between you and the commanders - by which stage, you may well have inflicted enough damage to their disposition via casualties and volleys like Flank and Suppression Fire that you’ve won the Firefight anyway.

But if somehwow you did, I’d say no, you’d just be engaging the commanders; if your opponent wanted the two by the shuttle to join the melee on the steps, he’d have to give up the opportunity to script a Close Combat of his own in order to Advance them. Which, of course, risks the enemy getting a huge number of successes…

I don’t really understand the question. But I think the answer is a big fat don’t-over-think-this YES.

If you want to set up an example with positions and actions, I’d be happy to help.

We stated that a unit can be established as being in two places at once in the beginning of a firefight, based on the discussion above (unless I misunderstood).

So we have Lord Omei and Lady Kate at the Shuttle pad they are commanding a unit of Iron. The Iron happens to be located in the Courtyard.

You have Father Wilus on the steps of the cathedral with a unit of Anvil.

The Shuttle pad, the courtyard, and the steps are all locations. There is also a fourth location, the backalleys which connects to all the locations. So could Father Wilus and his anvil advance to the back alleys and then move to the shuttle pad. When the get there, are they only fighting Lady Kate and Lord Omei or will they fight the entire Unit?

[aside]Maybe it helps to think of things this way: If you’ve defined the fireteam as Lady Kate + Lord Omei + Iron, but they’re geographically in different places, that is an inspiring narrative constraint, more than anything else. Fireteam will fight fireteam according to the rules… the discrete locations provide for awesome colour.[/aside]