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Subject: Poll: Which fog-of-war mechanic do you prefer? rss

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Øivind Karlsrud
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I see three main systems which create fog-of-war: Use of cards, use of blocks and chit-pull. Some games combine systems, of course. As an example, Maria, Friedrich and Sekigahara use blocks and cards (I consider the system in Maria/Fridrich, with the number of divisions assigned to each general unkown, a kind of block system). With use of cards, I don't want to say exclusively CDG-games, because many people have their own idea of what that means (some think it's just games with cards like in Twilight Struggle, cards with events and operation points). But I do mean games in which each player has a hand of cards, not games like the COIN-series which are driven by cards. That is actually more like chit-pull, mechanically. In the same vein, I would say the chits used in Guns of Gettysburg, is a form of card system, so that's another game which combines blocks and cards, just like Maria/Friedrich/Sekigahara.

I know each system have lots of fans. Which do you prefer, and why? The idea is that everybody should answer the first question, while the second should only be answered if it's relevant (you prefer some other system, or you don't like fog-of-war).

Poll
1. Which systems do you like for creating fog-of-war?
  I don't like it It's OK I like it It's the best
Card systems
Block systems
Chit-pull systems
2. For those who didnt have a favorite among those above, why is that?
You forgot my favorite system (specify)
I don't like fog-of-war in my games
      276 answers
Poll created by oivind22
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Øivind Karlsrud
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I'll go first myself. I prefer card systems, because it makes bluffing possible, while chit-pull is just random for both/all players. Block games is in between for me. I rate it lower than card systems because of the memory aspect. If you care to memorize, you may gain an advantage. I hate trying to memorize where certain units are. But that's usually not a big aspect of playing block games, so I generally like the block mechanic.
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Øivind Karlsrud
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BTW, I was thinking about playing the game as it's supposed to be played: Against an opponent. Chit-pull is the king when it comes to playing against yourself.
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Colin Raitt
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I quite like not being allowed to inspect a stack of counters. You can see how many counters are there but not what's beneath the top. Its tantalising. Manipulating stack height by massing weak counters and markers is an art in itself. Double blind movement where you declare when you enter an enemy hex works well, everyone who tries it agrees its scary, best with a referee.
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Ron A
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One mechanism you left out: separate scenario books as used in the War Stories games.

You don't know what the other side has, you don't know where they set up (at first), and you don't know what their objective is. All you know is what is in your briefing book.

War Stories also uses blocks. Infantry/gun blocks are slightly smaller than vehicle blocks-- but a Tiger tank has the same size block a a Puma armored car.

Oh, another fog of war mechanic the game uses is variable game length. There is a deck of event cards, one played per turn, split into early, late and late + end. One card is the actual end of game card, and it is randomly put into the late + end part of the deck. You might have 2 early cards, 5 late and 3 late + end cards. The person who puts the deck together (the defender) knows roughly how long the game will be (at least 8 turns, no more than 10), but the attack has no idea whatsoever how long the game will last. This REALLY makes the attacker paranoid.

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Les Marshall
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No one here has yet mentioned the most obvious and perhaps most used FoW element which is dice. Dice introduce variability for various elements including combat results, morale checks, weather, initiative, resource availability, command coordination and so on.

Double blind mapping and movement ala Midway was already mentioned but, there are also things like preregistered artillery fire and hidden placement.
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Robert Stuart
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What I really like about block games is that their fog-of-war mechanism loses nothing of the simulation value.

What I like about chit-pull systems is that they can be modified or scrapped, depending on the players' taste.
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Øivind Karlsrud
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Rulesjd wrote:
No one here has yet mentioned the most obvious and perhaps most used FoW element which is dice. Dice introduce variability for various elements including combat results, morale checks, weather, initiative, resource availability, command coordination and so on.


I thought about this, but then I thought dice is so common. It's used in almost all wargames to create some randomness, often combined with the other mechanics I mentioned. I think very few wargamers will dislike dice. It must be those wargamers who only like Maria, Friedrich, Sekigahara, Napoleon's Triumph etc., and if those are the only wargames they like, I suspect they don't spend much time in the wargames forum. I could be wrong, though.
 
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Øivind Karlsrud
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polate wrote:
I quite like not being allowed to inspect a stack of counters. You can see how many counters are there but not what's beneath the top. Its tantalising. Manipulating stack height by massing weak counters and markers is an art in itself.


I would say this is almost equivalent to using blocks, although you can see the top counter, of course.
 
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Some others, off the top of my head:

1. Concealment counters; dummy stacks; stack inspection limits (as a group of similar rules)

2. Double-blind games

3. Moderated games

4. Off-map placement (ie, recorded set up)

Number 1 is probably my favorite, just because it's the easiest to implement and typically can be handled with some additional pieces on the board.
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Øivind Karlsrud
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Arcology wrote:
Some others, off the top of my head:

1. Concealment counters; dummy stacks; stack inspection limits (as a group of similar rules)

2. Double-blind games

3. Moderated games

4. Off-map placement (ie, recorded set up)

Number 1 is probably my favorite, just because it's the easiest to implement and typically can be handled with some additional pieces on the board.


I think concealment counters is equivalent to using blocks, but dummy stacks is not. It could be used with blocks, of course, but I guess it's most often used in tactical games in which units are spread out, because an important part of fog-of-war in such games is not knowing exactly where the enemy is.
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Mike Hoyt

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Off map movement, a la Flat Top works well.

When you say Cards, I answered thinking of Rommel in the Desert, where both players hold a hand of Supply Cards, some of which may in fact be blank so you never really know how much supply the other side has. I like that one. I don't like CDG, which you already excluded, but I also don't like Cards as in Battle Cry. You might want to narrow your definition of "cards".

Chit pull is less a Fog of War mechanic then it is a way to break up the turn sequence, at least in the iterations I've seen.

Not inspecting stacks, well I hate stacking to begin with. And if good play starts to include fiddling with the stack itself to hide good units under lesser units or markers or whatever, what part of the real world does that simulate? Yuck.

Blocks are by far the most elegant fog of war mechanic that I've seen.
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Lance McMillan
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Other systems:

= Unknown/untried unit counters -- All units are shown on the map with an "unknown" side up; some units may be dummies. You can examine your own units at any time, but your opponent's units are only revealed just prior to resolving an engagement. In a variation of this, sometimes neither player will know a unit's strength (including their own units) until they reveal the units before combat. Units are re-concealed under varying circumstances (e.g. "at night all units are flipped back over to their 'unknown' side, or "once no enemy unit is within X hexes of a unit, flip that unit back over to its 'unknown' side").

= Variable unit strengths -- units are assigned a generic category of strength (say elite, veteran, regular, or rookie) and then players draw chits when the units fight that specify the exact unit strength of each unit, based on the generic category, each time the unit is engaged.

Note that the two systems described above can be used in conjunction with one another.

= Variable forces -- Before beginning play, both players secretly determine (usually randomly) whether their starting forces are different from the historical ones. Sometimes this also involves adjusting victory requirements for balance purposes (e.g. if you get additional units you start with a deficit in victory points).

= Unknown damage -- When a "hit" is inflicted on a player's units he determines the exact effects secretly, not informing his opponent (e.g. you know your attack hit the enemy ship, but don't know how badly you damaged it; you may have destroyed their primary battery or just inflicted superficial damage).

= Concealed records -- Keeping track of elements which don't appear on the actual game board (e.g. maintaining a plot of how many turns of "attack supply" you have, or how many tanks are still operational in a particular battalion, in an off-map concealed track).
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Øivind Karlsrud
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blockhead wrote:
Off map movement, a la Flat Top works well.

When you say Cards, I answered thinking of Rommel in the Desert, where both players hold a hand of Supply Cards, some of which may in fact be blank so you never really know how much supply the other side has. I like that one. I don't like CDG, which you already excluded, but I also don't like Cards as in Battle Cry. You might want to narrow your definition of "cards".

Chit pull is less a Fog of War mechanic then it is a way to break up the turn sequence, at least in the iterations I've seen.

Not inspecting stacks, well I hate stacking to begin with. And if good play starts to include fiddling with the stack itself to hide good units under lesser units or markers or whatever, what part of the real world does that simulate? Yuck.

Blocks are by far the most elegant fog of war mechanic that I've seen.


I think you misunderstood me. I meant to include CDGs in 'card systems'. I edited my original post, and added 'exlusively' between 'not' and 'CDGs'. Cards in typical CDGs achieve the same thing as other systems with cards, it's just that you have events too. Some people don't like that, but the question I meant to ask was if they like the fog-of-war aspect of having a hand of cards.
 
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Lance McMillan
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blockhead wrote:
Blocks are by far the most elegant fog of war mechanic that I've seen.


For some players, certainly. For myself I find them extremely clumsy to use -- they're prone to being accidentally knocked over (which effectively defeats their "fog of war" purpose when it happens). Further, when used in the "rotate the block to keep track of strength" mode, I find they often get inadvertently get re-oriented during play (such that the strengths are inaccurate). I agree they're a viable mechanic, but using them opens up an entirely new set of problems for the dexterously challenged.
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Confusion Under Fire
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I think true FoW at the tactical scale should include imperfect knowledge of terrain, composition of enemy units, position of enemy units, the position of your own unseen units etc. Enemy hidden units should not be on the map including not having dummy units to represent these hidden units.

This would be a tall order for most boardgames so the use of an umpire would be required which I think is a massive jump from the usual cards, dummy units, blocks etc.

Any system that attempts to add FoW is a plus in my book. The only negative I have is with dummy counters. "I can see where a unit might be but I know for a fact that the woods over there with no counters, dummy or otherwise, definitely has no enemy units in them"

If a system uses recce units that are a necessary and important aspect of the game then it has some credence.
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Caleb
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Lancer4321 wrote:
blockhead wrote:
Blocks are by far the most elegant fog of war mechanic that I've seen.


For some players, certainly. For myself I find them extremely clumsy to use -- they're prone to being accidentally knocked over (which effectively defeats their "fog of war" purpose when it happens). Further, when used in the "rotate the block to keep track of strength" mode, I find they often get inadvertently get re-oriented during play (such that the strengths are inaccurate). I agree they're a viable mechanic, but using them opens up an entirely new set of problems for the dexterously challenged.


Really? I mean, seriously? Stacks of counters sliding and falling all over the place is WAY more common than blocks ever inadvertently falling over, in my experience.

I voted for blocks as the best, cards as 'meh' (because while I love C&C Ancients, I detest most CDG's and their ridiculous card-driven combat) and Chit-Pull as the absolute worst.
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Lance McMillan
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cannoneer wrote:
I mean, seriously? Stacks of counters sliding and falling all over the place is WAY more common than blocks ever inadvertently falling over, in my experience.


Your statement assumes stacked counters -- many games don't have stacked counters. I challenge you to have a single counter "fall all over the place."

Blocks on the other hand...
 
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Nagato Fujibayashi

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Card system is very fine with me(well, depending also on the system I guess)but blocks is the best by far, not so much because of the fog of war aspect but because I very much dislike playing with paper chits representing units, both aesthetically and practically, a problem that wooden pieces resolve the best way possible.
 
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Morten Lund
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My favourite is double blind, with a dedicated game master to handle all the fog - and sometimes create some of his own
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Wendell
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Lancer4321 wrote:
Other systems:

= Unknown/untried unit counters -- All units are shown on the map with an "unknown" side up; some units may be dummies.


Yeah, I REALLY like this in the few games I've played with this.
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Ron A
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wifwendell wrote:
Lancer4321 wrote:
Other systems:

= Unknown/untried unit counters -- All units are shown on the map with an "unknown" side up; some units may be dummies.


Yeah, I REALLY like this in the few games I've played with this.


I may be mistaken, but I think Panzergruppe Guderian way back in 1976 was the 1st game with this mechanic. There were a lot of SPI innovations I wasn't too thrilled with (panic move/fire in October War, but the untried units were good.
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Steven Mitchell
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Colin and Les hit mine: stack-inspection restrictions and dice. I also quite like variable combat strengths.

Quote:
I would say [inspection limitation] is almost equivalent to using blocks, although you can see the top counter, of course.


The big difference, in addition to ergonomics, is that use of block effectively shrinks the size of the map. A standard 34" x 22" map can have ~1750 locations. The same sized map with blocks probably only has 50 or so, often curbing the tactical end of things.
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roger miller
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Stevens point is my main problem with block games. The limited number of locations makes it fine for simple games but beyond that I find them really limited.
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Royce Reiss
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For some game double blind
For other unknown/untried units as in Panzergruppe Guderian
 
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