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Borodino: Napoleon in Russia 1812» Forums » General

Subject: Playing without FoW? rss

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Frank Müller
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I am not sure if this is a good idea, but I am not very fond of hidden elements like Fog of War in general. So I would like to ask if it is possible to play the columbia block games (eg. Borodino, Gettysburg or Eastfront II) open seeable for both players, this means block turned face up. Is it possible or does it ruin the game results? What do you think?
 
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Chris Rice
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The games are all perfectly playable with blocks exposed. This is how I play them solo.

To me the FOW is an attractive component of the overall experience, but if you really have problems with that for whatever reason, you can do without it.

None of the CG games I'm aware of intrinsically rely on the hidden block aspect - it's just a feature.
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Frank Müller
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Wimplesaur wrote:
The games are all perfectly playable with blocks exposed. This is how I play them solo.

To me the FOW is an attractive component of the overall experience, but if you really have problems with that for whatever reason, you can do without it.

None of the CG games I'm aware of intrinsically rely on the hidden block aspect - it's just a feature.


super news.Now I will buy some of these games. Thanks whimplsaur for this info.
 
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Shayne Richards
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Playing without fog or war can be great, and playing it without fog of war is also great. It ads a new dimension to your decision making and doesn't change the core elements of the game but makes it a new interesting game. I play a lot of these games this way and solo you pretty much have to.

The game is no worse and in some cases better.
 
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Shayne Richards
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Also remember that fog of war is a game gimmick. The real term fog of war is nit how it is used in these games. While there were elements of not knowing other troops, majority of times commanders were well aware of enemy strength and movements. Generals stood on hills, scouts reported and colour parties showed the enemy what units where which. Not a lot of times generals would say. Oh look I can see there is a group of soldiers there but can't tell how strong they are or what types of troops they are.
 
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Chris Rice
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Shayne, I agree with your first comment but not your second.

All my reading on the history of war indicates that information was often very limited and what there was often turned out to be wrong. War is a chaotic experience and FOW mechanics such as the hidden blocks do a good job of giving us that experience.

Yes it is a "gimmick" but then the whole idea of recreating a battle or war on a board with counters or whatever is also a gimmick.

Gamers who like to play wargames with no random element or hidden information are kidding themselves if they think they are "simulating" war as far as I'm concerned.

Still, we're only playing games so can design them to suit our tastes.
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Carl Willner
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Chris,

This has been a very interesting debate to read. I tend to agree with you about the significance of fog of war, which often played an important role in Napoleonic battles despite the efforts to control it through colorful uniforms, banners and scouts. At Borodino, commanders sometimes had a hard time telling their own formations from one another, what with the gunpowder smoke, mixing of units in battle, and terrain obstacles. For example, Napoleon himself was confused about which of his cavalry corps had taken the Great Redoubt in mid-afternoon, viewing the action from his position at Shevardino. It was naturally even harder for the other side to tell exactly who they were facing, until they came into close contact, and that could make for some unpleasant surprises. A general might see part of an enemy formation, and not see the rest of the enemy concealed behind a rise in the ground. Consider the tactics Wellington often used, and what happened to the Old Guard in its last attack at Waterloo. And at a strategic level, Kutuzov was famously misled at Borodino into thinking that Napoleon's main attack would come north of the Kolocha river, and only began to redeploy his formations to meet the real threat midway through the morning of Sept. 7. With a lot of blue blocks milling around that have not been revealed in battle, this is more plausible than if the Russian player can see exactly where Murat's cavalry corps, Davout's massive infantry divisions and the powerful French Guard are at all times.

I was particularly interested in designing my Borodino game using Columbia's block system with fog of war, because I thought this system captured some important realities of how battles are fought that are not dealt with as well in traditional wargames with cardboard counters that the other side can see. Reading Tolstoy's "War and Peace" account of Borodino - or even regular military histories that try to capture the feel of actually being on the ground - it's apparent how difficult it was for anyone, even the highest commanders, to tell what was going on overall, and how often the plans of generals failed due to the frictions and uncertainties of battle. Hidden block strengths may not be able to capture all of this uncertainty, but they at least get at part of it and reduce omniscient player-generals to something more like their real life counterparts. It is quite enjoyable to see how the French player may hesitate on the verge of apparent victory, thinking that the still-concealed Russian Guard is somewhere nearby and ready to pounce with a well-timed counterattack. In one game of the Shevardino scenario where I was playing the French, I held off attacking the Russians covering one flank of the Shevardino redoubt on the last turn thinking that I was facing a strong defense, which turned out to be only jaegers and shot-up formations - and as a result what could have been a French win with the defenders of the Shevardino redoubt cut off and destroyed ended up as a tie that went to the Russians, with their surviving troops slinking away eastward when the redoubt fell at last.

At the same time, I have found, as Shayne has, that it's quite possible to have fun games of Borodino on a solitaire basis, where of course the fog of war element is lacking. It changes some things about how you play, with less uncertainty on both sides and loss of ability to bluff your opponent about whether he is facing a screen of jaegers or Guard infantry, but still works since fog of war is not an element that inherently advantages either the French or the Russians. Both can benefit from it in various circumstances, since although the French player has the overall burden of attack the Russian player often needs to counterattack or mount offensives where the French are weak as well. And fog of war can help the attacker too. I have seen many situations in the Borodino game where a prudent player would have retreated in time if he knew exactly what was about to hit him, but held his ground and paid the price because he lacked that knowledge and did not want to cede a key position needlessly. Without fog of war, I think attackers will tend to be somewhat more aggressive, while defenders will be more willing and able to calculate the odds in deciding whether to stand or run.

Carl
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Chris Rice
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Carl, that a great response.

I think you make a particularly good point when you say that, by taking away the hidden element, the attacker will tend to be more aggressive. With strengths exposed he can calculate his chances a lot more confidently than he can with hidden blocks.

Personally I love block games with their hidden strengths but I would say that it adds an extra layer of "brain strain" to every move which can be a bit overwhelming for new players even if they are experienced wargames.
 
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Frank Müller
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Well of course I agree that hidden blocks are more "realistic" and "simulationistic" than face up blocks. But I just like it open better and want admire the unit details of my and the enemy lines rather than looking at an anonymous hidden front.

Also we have to admit that many great wargames dont have elements of FOW and still remain excellent. So what I want to say is that a good wargame not always comes down to "realism and simulationism" but just to that what it is - an intelligent strategy experience with an educated historical background.
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Chris Rice
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Oops Frank! Sorry we hijacked your thread with all this talk of hidden blocks and Fog of War.

I started with miniatures war gaming and moved on to hex and counter games like Squad Leader so I also enjoy games where you can see everything laid out in front of you.

I'm not suggesting block games are superior in any way, they just have an interesting "twist" and make for a nice alternative to other games.

I've enjoyed all the ones I've played and I'm sure you will too, whether you have the blocks hidden or revealed.

 
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Frank Müller
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Wimplesaur wrote:
Oops Frank! Sorry we hijacked your thread with all this talk of hidden blocks and Fog of War.


no prob. I love to talk about FoW themes.

Wimplesaur wrote:

I've enjoyed all the ones I've played and I'm sure you will too, whether you have the blocks hidden or revealed.



Several new columbia block games came yesterday with the post (ordered due to the info from you and others in this thread) so I guess after putting all these sticky labels on them I will have my first play through soon. Thanks again.
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