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Subject: CIVILIANS WITH PITCHFORKS, OR WHY ARE WE RATED SO BADLY. rss

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Freddy Dekker
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As a collector [I haven't managed to play enough of them to dare call myself a wargamer] I'm currently again checking out games to buy for my collection of games I've yet to play.

As I am also interested in history and from the Netherlands, I of course try and buy games of any period in which Dutch troops play an important role.

In doing so, and this really annoyed me, I had to notice that the games I explored rated Dutch troops very low.
Yes I will admit I found this to be insulting.

The Netherlands are not alone in this, there are more countries that suffer this faith.

So I wonder what games designers base there troop ratings on.
Lets take WW2 as an example

Sometimes it's obvious: American troops allways are the best, because most designers live in...... exactly.

German troops are allways very good aswell, simply because, lets be honest about it, they were and of course you wouldn't have a game if nothing matched the superior americans.

Brittish troops are usually rated very high too, and well deserved.

Italian troops are in general rated as crap in most games.
I'm not in a position to judge if that is fair, but know they have the reputation of lovers rather than fighters [can you blame them]

But if you are from any other nation, the rating of troops in general, just exceeds civilians with pitchforks.

So I wonder, is there any well researched reason for the ratings of troops. Is it a dislike of certain countries that influences this.
Are these bad ratings neccesary for the game to work?
Or is it just ignorance.



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Gregory Amstutz
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Assumptions - we are discussing primarily WWII based games

With absolutely nothing to back me up, I would hazard an opinion that, besides what you have already posited, it has to do with the historical contributions of various countries troops to the overall effort in WWII, either real or perceived. One could argue that the largest contributions in WWII in men, material, and definitely technology were made by the aforementioned US, British, and of course, German soldiers. So, in order to reflect this, other countries troops are listed as less powerful(read: competent)

Of course, I could be way off base here...........

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Will (JR) Todd
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Can you give some specific examples of games and unit comparisons?
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Jim F
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It would be difficult to rate the Dutch performance in WW2 as they were overwhelmed v quickly. Hardly surprising as they hoped their neutrality would protect them rather than a substantial standing army.

I never fail to be touched by the gratitude and remembrance they continue to show to the British soldiers who failed so gallantly at Arnhem. Certainly the courage shown after the event in helping soldiers to escape and dealing with the terrible punishments inflicted on them by the Germans speaks volumes.
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Charles F.
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sagitar wrote:

In doing so, and this really annoyed me, I had to notice that the games I explored rated Dutch troops very low. Yes I will admit I found this to be insulting.


Get over it. Or, if you can't, play 16th/17th century wargames instead of WW2 fare.

Back in the day of Maurice of Nassau, Dutch armies were cutting-edge. Unlike during WW2, when Fortress Holland collapsed in no time. Ratings reflect that poor historical performance. Simple.

Not point being touchy about that.
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Freddy Dekker
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Well, I'll try and find some games, but I've looked at many, so don't hold your breath.

It's not just WW2 games, but I figured that as a good example.

As for the Dutch army, which of course at that time was mainly made up of conscripts, I must say that they weren't overwhelmed as quickly as you suggest.

Of course they were surprised by the unprovoked attack and didn't stand much of a chance against superior numbers and technology.
Added to that there was the problem of german civilians, working in the Netherlands spying etc.for the Germans and not forgetting the Germans dressing up as anything they liked, thoes spreading more confusion.

But as soon as they got organised they put up a good fight.
Even better than the Germans had anticipated, so they started bombing the civilian population of the major cities.

It was this that resulted in the capitulation at the time of which the Dutch army itself was not actually beaten and at many locations still very eager and able to put up a fight.

As a matter a fact many soldiers and civilians crossed the Channel to England on anything that could make the crossing, to fight on.



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Lucius Cornelius
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As a civilian without even a pitchfork, I take offense to the whole thread. arrrh
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M@tthijs
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Good topic. I share your view.
Waterloo is (for me) a famous example, where the Dutch put up a good fight (on par with British troops) but where some British history writers downgraded their performance. As a result, in many Waterloo games, compared to the French and Prussian men, British are the equivalent of Stone Trolls, while the Dutch are Hobbits. Ah - the British and their fantasy!


As for WW-II.
It is a fact that at least one German commander leading the invasion reported that his advance was far more hindered by all the roadblocks the Dutch made, than by actually meeting military resistance. Of course this had much to do with the fact that not the Netherlands were defended best, but Holland. (Defence in depth, for as far as that goes with such a small country)

After 4 days of fighting, Rotterdam was bombed due to an order which up to today is still much debated. The strategic terror assault, complete with threats in Utrecht that it would share Warsaw's fate if it didn't surrender caused the Dutch government to surrender, to spare civilian casualties.
(pic: 'city' of Rotterdam after the bombardment)

What has contributed in the decision to bomb Rotterdam, was Hitler's personal worries about the lack of progress (!) in capturing the Netherlands.

So basically the fighting stopped before the Germans penetrated the last ditch of the Dutch military: Fortress Holland. And although some Americans here on BGG have scorned at the 4 days it took the Netherlands to surrender, apparently the Dutch put up more of a fight than the Nazis expected.

Even so, the Dutch underperformed during May 1940, compared to many other nations. But in hindsight, this is far more due to the conflict in the Dutch military top (to defend either the Hollandse Waterlinie or the Grebbelinie, resulting in two unfinished defence lines, in stead of one complete) than the performance of the actual combat units.*)

What does surprise me (as in: of this I have no knowledge) is that in most WW-II games the Belgium army is twice as strong (or more) than the Dutch. On what is this based? The prolonged fighting, with support of French and British troops? The actual amounts of manpower and guns? If anyone has any opinions about this, I'm interested

*) Main source "Mei 1940, de strijd op Nederlands grondgebied"; H. Amersfoort & P. Kamphuis
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M@tthijs
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Ashiefan wrote:
It would be difficult to rate the Dutch performance in WW2 as they were overwhelmed v quickly. Hardly surprising as they hoped their neutrality would protect them rather than a substantial standing army.
Untrue. This implies the Dutch were sitting on their asses, waiting for this to blow over.

Ashiefan wrote:
I never fail to be touched by the gratitude and remembrance they continue to show to the British soldiers who failed so gallantly at Arnhem. Certainly the courage shown after the event in helping soldiers to escape and dealing with the terrible punishments inflicted on them by the Germans speaks volumes.
Thanks

charlesf wrote:
sagitar wrote:
In doing so, and this really annoyed me, I had to notice that the games I explored rated Dutch troops very low. Yes I will admit I found this to be insulting.

Get over it. Or, if you can't, play 16th/17th century wargames instead of WW2 fare.

Back in the day of Maurice of Nassau, Dutch armies were cutting-edge. Unlike during WW2, when Fortress Holland collapsed in no time. Ratings reflect that poor historical performance. Simple.

Not point being touchy about that.
Untrue. The Netherlands surrendered because the Germans bombed a city full of civilians into oblivian and threaten to murder some more.

Nice detail is that the bombers never attacked anywhere near the Dutch defence lines in Rotterdam, but went straight for the densest populated area. It was a terror attack which, together with the bombing of Warsaw, was the start of a new and Unmenschliche way of waging war, invented by the German government.

No point being touchy about that.
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Jim F
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The Netherlands declared its neutrality to avoid being drawn into the conflict. This doesn't mean they didn't take measures to protect themselves.

That is what I meant, I wasn't implying anything
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Christopher
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I find this an interesting thread, but I would like to discuss this with some examples. In that way we could try to make out why in a certain game the Dutch (or other) nation's units are rated less than their US, German and British counterparts.

I can imagine that, depending on the scale of the game, the differences in unit stats can have different reasons.

For instance in a certain game (no real example) Dutch troops can be only Regiments where German troops are Divisions or Corps. This could reflect the great difference in numbers between the Germans and the Dutch. So this might be a reason for difference in unit's stats.

Another (fictive) example could be where support and heavy weapons are integrated in the unit's firepower. Maybe Germans had more support and heavy weapons per unit than the Dutch, resulting in a higher firepower on the counter.

These fictive examples just to show that there can be several different reasons why units of different nations have different stats in the same game. Please let us see some real examples that annoyed you!

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Alan Sutton
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sagitar wrote:
I had to notice that the games I explored rated Dutch troops very low...........lets take WW2 as an example...........

Sometimes it's obvious: American troops allways are the best, because most designers live in...... exactly.............

German troops are allways very good as well, simply because, lets be honest about it, they were ...........

Brittish troops are usually rated very high too, and well deserved.

Italian troops are in general rated as crap in most games....



Well, I'm not sure how many WWII games actually have Dutch troops in. The Dutch were sort of out of the game by 1939 weren't they?

I've not seen many WWII games that rate the American troops that highly. In fact I think that most game designers recognise that the German forces were technically and qualitively superior to all their enemies until the very end of the war. It was numbers and air power that ground them down in the end.

This goes for the British troops too. Take Panzer Leader as an example. British Cromwell tanks are crap, as are their infantry, US shermans aren't much better while German Panzer, infantry and artillery are all pretty good - just not enough of them.

The Italians, well their actual war record doesn't recommend a high war game rating for their forces does it? Same for the Dutch unfortunately.

Apart from WWII the only other Dutch low ratings that immediately spring to mind are the Prince of Orange's troops in Napoleon's Last Battles. I think this reflects the fact that these troops' political loyalty was questionable, given that they were part of the French empire until just before the game starts.

Other games with Dutch troops don't immediately spring to mind although there were some simulations from the 1500-1600s from SPI that I haven't played. I'm sure Dutch troops might be shown fairly creditably in these games although, from memory, didn't the Spanish kick their arses fairly often in this period?
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Russ Williams
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sagitar wrote:
Yes I will admit I found this to be insulting.

Why? Simple nationalism?

Quote:
Sometimes it's obvious: American troops allways are the best, because most designers live in...... exactly.

Um, American troops are not always the best, no.

Quote:
So I wonder, is there any well researched reason for the ratings of troops. Is it a dislike of certain countries that influences this.

Those are kind of wild accusations, that game designers don't do research and rather just rate their own country's troops the highest and make other countries' troops lowly rated out of dislike for those countries. Perhaps if I was a historical wargame designer, I might even find it ... insulting!

As an American I don't care if the US troops have high or low capabilities in a given game. It wouldn't even occur to me to feel insulted at low US unit ratings or to feel pride at high US unit ratings. It simply represents the historical situation as the author saw it based on their research and assessment of the given conflict. I see no reason to assume malice or nationalism as the motive.
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Robert Wilson
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In ASL I think the dutch get a good rating

a *normal squad* is nominally 4 attack 4 range 7 morale

the elites ( British and Soviets for example ) have 4-5-8

I believe the dutch in Doomed battalions ( the name of the module gives you the hint that they are the allied minors)

are:

4-5-7 slightly longer range, but they are also part of the worst scenario in ASL : Piercing the Peel

according to the ROAR ASL archive

http://www.jrvdev.com/ROAR/VER1/ShowScenario.asp?ScenarioID=...
they have 54 recorded plays 42 german wins, 12 dutch ones ( then again a Dutch win would be ahistorical)

in the game Devils Cauldron, they have some Dutch units too.

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Christopher
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dude163 wrote:

in the game Devils Cauldron, they have some Dutch units too.


could we see some examples of stat differences between Dutch and other troops in that game? (I took a look at the counter sheets, but as I know nothing about the game, I couldn't find the Dutch ones)
 
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Adam Badura
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_Kael_ wrote:
Nice detail is that the bombers never attacked anywhere near the Dutch defence lines in Rotterdam, but went straight for the densest populated area. It was a terror attack which, together with the bombing of Warsaw, was the start of a new and Unmenschliche way of waging war, invented by the German government.


I find it very doubtful that turning against civilians to cause defenders to surrender - rather than taking risk of direct attack was invented by German government. I strongly believe it is as old as the war itself.

What Germans did (and others followed!) was only to engage more advanced technology and methodology thus causing more harm. But causing more and more harm is a constant progress in warfare. So again not German invention.
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Чебурашка, ты настоящий друг!
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adambadura wrote:
What Germans did (and others followed!) was only to engage more advanced technology and methodology thus causing more harm. But causing more and more harm is a constant progress in warfare. So again not German invention.


Must...resist...desire...to...threadjack...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
This is quite an old, ongoing argument here in the wargames forums, and I think will really throw the OP's inquiry off course if we continue it further.
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Poul Soegaard
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I see your point, I decided to go look in WiF to see how the dutch are rated, they got inf for 4-3 and a normal german unit is 5-3 to 7-4 so yes they are rated lower. for comparision the danish unit is a 1-3, but that also reflects the really poor army we had at the time, both regarding equipment and the fight did not last one day, so they are at most a speed bumb.

(the americans rate from 4-3 to 6-3) but WiF is not american made either :-)

PS the first number is combat rating the second movement.
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Christopher
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Oseali wrote:
I see your point, I decided to go look in WiF to see how the dutch are rated, they got inf for 4-3 and a normal german unit is 5-3 to 7-4 so yes they are rated lower. for comparision the danish unit is a 1-3, but that also reflects the really poor army we had at the time, both regarding equipment and the fight did not last one day, so they are at most a speed bumb.

(the americans rate from 4-3 to 6-3) but WiF is not american made either :-)

PS the first number is combat rating the second movement.


first question: are all these units of the same size? or is there a difference between different countries?
 
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Charles F.
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Those in a huff about ratings need to also realise that these often represent more than simply say a division's combat ability.

It might represent the effect of surprise, C&C issues at the very top, a lacking willingness to fight a losing battle no matter what impact it has on the civilian population, etcetc.

Various factors are expressed in the way of a poor unit rating.

Say in a grand strategic WW2 game, a lot of "design for effect" will be going on. Designers wouldn't want the Holland campaign to regularly take much longer than it did.

Play those 16th/17th games, if you need your countrymen to be the stars of the show. You know, when the Dutch kicked ass.
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Charles F.
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sagitar wrote:

Are these bad ratings neccesary for the game to work?


Bingo. In respect to the Dutch in WW2, you have your answer right there.
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Matt Ward
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Let me join the growing chorus of those mentioning that unit ratings include a vast number of items which have nothing to do with the valor or fighting spirit of a unit. Some examples:

Italian units were typically binary as opposed to the more common triad nature of units in other armies. This means that a battalion of Italians contains two companies while a battlalion of Americans or Germans contains three companies. This has obvious implications on unit ratings.

Americans were lavishly supplied in comparison to any other army (see the Willie and Joe cartoon of a British solider complaining of the "messy" battlefield left behind by the Americans).

Weaponry at the individual solider and unit level varied dramatically from combatant to combatant.

Integral unit leadership varied dramatically between combatants and throughout a war (e.g. integral French leadership in 1805 was much better than in 1814 as was the quality of the troops in general).

Political will differed dramatically as well. Using the terror bombing example mentioned earlier about Rotterdam: the Dutch saw this as a reason to surrender, the Japanese, British and Germans all fought on through similar terror bombings.

The point is that military units are affected by a wide range of factors beyond just the willingness of the soldiers to fight and die. Heck, if that was the measure the WW II Soviets would always have the highest ratings, which probably wouldn't be much of a simulation of 1939-1942 combat.
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Enrico Viglino
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sagitar wrote:
Well, I'll try and find some games, but I've looked at many, so don't hold your breath.

It's not just WW2 games, but I figured that as a good example.





Please try the following, where Dutch (or proto dutch) troops kick some butt:

Europa Universalis
Campaigns of Marlborough
Armada
Men of Iron

Dutch showings in WWII and Napoleonic times didn't
prove their troops to be anything better than the
general forces - something which most games reflect.

Just be glad you ain't Italian.
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Enrico Viglino
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usrlocal wrote:
Hehe..when I first read this thread's title I thought it was going to be another one about why we don't tell 'civilians' that we're wargamers. :laugh:


I thought it was gonna be about whining that BGG
rates wargames rather poorly due largely to the
algorithm used.
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Adam D.
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Your premise was interesting given the (from here) unusual troop type you were talking about, but you completely lost me with the quote:

Quote:
Sometimes it's obvious: American troops allways are the best, because most designers live in...... exactly.


That's just an absurd statement.
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