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Subject: Simultaneous turn resolution rss

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Kaspars Kadikis
Latvia
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I’m working on a hex-and-counter wargame optimized for play-by-post. All orders are resolved simultaneously to keep the game going in a fast pace. It works perfectly for a ww2 era game.
But when I started thinking about extending the timeline/techtree all the way to near future era, a number of questions arose:

1) Is one turn per day a good pace? It’s what I prefer and would find a slower game to be too slow. Players could also set orders for future turns, so a missed turn shouldn’t be too crippling unless the enemy bliczkrieged you just that turn.

2) Length of the game: How much would be too much? A hundred turn game would last over three months. Would that be too long even for most grand strategy fans? And what about a year long monster game?

3) Nuclear warfare- by normal rules, the player who launches first would wipe out the unsuspecting enemy. This could be fixed by:

a) Pause the game and ask the targeted player as to how he wants to respond- could lead to mutual destruction in a single turn if the nuclear arsenals are large enough.

b)The missiles ‘hang in the air’ and won’t hit until next turn, giving the victim time to launch his missiles too, with the retaliatory strike landing a turn later than the first attack. Paradoxically that would mean ICBM’s move slower than Infantry divisions.

c) Missile warfare is handled by different rules than normal combat. Each player would simultaneously declare a single missile launch, this is resolved, and then each player declares another attack, and so on until no player want to launch any more. Then ground combat is resolved and next turn finally starts.
Personally I like this approach best, but it would slow the game down when a nuclear war breaks out. On the other hand, such a war wouldn’t last more than a few turns anyway (and possibly would be the end of the game with only one player left standing).

d) Players can make nuclear target plans- ‘If player B attacks me with nukes, automatically launch my missiles at these targets’. Making such plans would capture the ‘Cold war’ era spirit quite well, but might get sort of time consuming if there are too many possible eventualities to cover.

Your thoughts on this?
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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It will cause far too long a game.

In truth the chances of any side getting of a wholly surprise strike is (and from the 1960's onwards was) not a practical reality.
 
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Kaspars Kadikis
Latvia
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slatersteven wrote:
It will cause far too long a game.

What do you think would be the optimal time length?
Quote:
In truth the chances of any side getting of a wholly surprise strike is (and from the 1960's onwards was) not a practical reality.

Well, yes. That's why I am considering ways to simulate that detection. Was I not clear enough?
 
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Jon Vallerand
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I played a PBeM strategy game a few years back. It played 5 turns a week (IIRC, Sun-Wed, than one on Friday), and games would last 35-40 rounds. To be honest, longer than that would have been too much for me, but then again, it was a rather light game.

As per surprise attacks, IIRC, you could send saboteurs to another city without them getting a notice, but to send attacks, you needed to first declare war, and then send troops only on the following turn. The declaration of war which lasted until a peace treaty was agreed upon.

That being said, I like your (D) proposition.
 
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Rob Harper
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Are you talking about a play-by-post on a forum or similar? Are player orders to be kept secret until they are simultaneously resolved? I'm assuming that is the case for these answers, which makes the game work in a similar way to play by (e)mail. Also is there intended to be a referee, or are all the moves resolvable without needing a 3rd party?

GMCasper wrote:
1) Is one turn per day a good pace? It’s what I prefer and would find a slower game to be too slow. Players could also set orders for future turns, so a missed turn shouldn’t be too crippling unless the enemy bliczkrieged you just that turn.


This is one turn per real world day, yes?

The optimum pace depends on the players. And it should also be variable. If players get to issue orders for each turn then it makes pretty much no difference if the turns happen hourly, daily, weekly or monthly. Don't sweat this.

It also depends on the game. If you have a really deep game which rewards a lot of player negotiation, coordination and planning, then longer turn cycles can potentially add to the experience.

All that said, the longer the gap between turns, the more that you need to have happening each turn. If your game turns involve just moving a couple of units, that will get dull. However, be careful that you don't put in so much detail that your players end up feeling like they are sitting an accountancy exam.

Quote:
2) Length of the game: How much would be too much? A hundred turn game would last over three months. Would that be too long even for most grand strategy fans? And what about a year long monster game?


Again, it depends on the players.

Many years ago I used to play a lot of play by mail games. These were games specifically designed for the medium, and it was snail mail, not email. (In fact, I designed and ran a few games myself. Even got paid for it.) Back then, playing a game over a couple of years was not unusual. Of course, much of that long time was due to the slow transmission of turns, but if the game is interesting enough you'll find people interested in sticking to it.

Quote:
3) Nuclear warfare- by normal rules, the player who launches first would wipe out the unsuspecting enemy. This could be fixed by:

a) Pause the game and ask the targeted player as to how he wants to respond- could lead to mutual destruction in a single turn if the nuclear arsenals are large enough.

b)The missiles ‘hang in the air’ and won’t hit until next turn, giving the victim time to launch his missiles too, with the retaliatory strike landing a turn later than the first attack. Paradoxically that would mean ICBM’s move slower than Infantry divisions.

c) Missile warfare is handled by different rules than normal combat. Each player would simultaneously declare a single missile launch, this is resolved, and then each player declares another attack, and so on until no player want to launch any more. Then ground combat is resolved and next turn finally starts.
Personally I like this approach best, but it would slow the game down when a nuclear war breaks out. On the other hand, such a war wouldn’t last more than a few turns anyway (and possibly would be the end of the game with only one player left standing).

d) Players can make nuclear target plans- ‘If player B attacks me with nukes, automatically launch my missiles at these targets’. Making such plans would capture the ‘Cold war’ era spirit quite well, but might get sort of time consuming if there are too many possible eventualities to cover.


You really don't want to do (a) as you don't want to be breaking down a correspondence game with exceptions and checking out contingencies. And (c) would, as you pointed out, also slow things down, completely breaking the flow of the game.

(b) is the most artificial, but in the context of the game could work well.

I would personally lean towards (d) if you can keep the complexity of contingency planning down. For this sort of game, half the fun of the turns can be working out contingencies (and you can build your plans based on guessing what the opponents will be programming in). For instance, you could have a simple ICBM response plan where you select between, say, activate ABM defences, like-for-like response, or all-out response, and specify to target enemy capital, other enemy cities, enemy production centres, or enemy conquests. Something like that.

Overall, though, one of the joys of this sort of thing is that it really rewards planning, and can have some great surprise elements like when you are moving a division and find it getting pinned by an enemy unit that has just moved. Is your division ordered to avoid combat, return fire, or launch an assault in this situation? All great stuff, and can really provide some great strategic challenges that most other games don't do.

Good luck with this project.
 
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