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Subject: Game and Simulation crash head-on: Any ideas? rss

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Steve Pole

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We're in the process of designing a game about Napoleon's 1813 campaign. Trying to sort out the OsoB has been a real nightmare.

At the start of the campaign both armies were exhausted and disorganised following the French retreat from Russia. They resorted to creating ad hoc formations which, generally, didn't last very long before they were superseded by more formal ones. Many of these, in turn, quickly changed. The first few months of the campaign witnessed numerous Corps/Divisional mergers/reorganisations and changes of duty/responsibility for commanders.

Reflecting this in game terms would have meant players spending more time exchanging counters to reflect the correct OsoB for the turn than they would have actually playing 1813. Literally.

To take a very simple example. At the start of the game Davout is busy trying to restore I Corps as a fighting unit, and Napoleon appoints him as Corps Commander. However, it is not long before Vandamme assumes command of the Corps and Davout is tasked with forming a new Corps, the XIII.

There are a number of ways we could tackle this: we could adopt a "strict historical" approach so that Davout's appointment could last for a couple of moves before Vandamme takes over (but, if such changes were to be reflected for all commands for both armies we would hit - and I mean "hit" - the problem described in the third paragraph); perhaps Davout could be appointed to Corps I for the duration of the game (but, who then would command Corps XIII?); and, so on.

Another simple example. After becoming the senior Russian commander upon the death of Kutusov, Wittgenstein was himself replaced by Barclay shortly thereafter following the defeats at Lutzen and Bautzen. Should Wittgenstein be allowed to retain his post if the Coalition were to do better at the start of the game; if so, what about the consequential changes of commander which, historically, followed his demotion?

In the end, we've opted for what I hope gamers will agree is a common sense approach. In the first example, Vandamme is given command of I Corps from the start of the game (and Davout of the XIII as soon as it is formed); in the second, Barclay takes over from Wittgenstein at the same time as he did historically, irrespective of how well the Coalition forces performed under his predecessor.

The fundamental problem is, I suppose, that unlike a scientific experiment where it is possible to change one variable without affecting others, the same is not true of a simulation which purports to reflect history.

This said, if anyone has any bright ideas about how best to tackle circumstances of the sort described above please let us know.
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Carl Paradis
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Just assign the leaders at start to the historically correct Corps commands, but give the players some leeway so that they can change some of the commanders now and then: heck, THE GAMER is the guy in command, right?. Nothing major, just enough so that History can be replicated. And it could lead to some cool and interesting decisions for the players.

Here I assume that actual leaders have some impact in the game. If they don't and you are just worring about historical designations, then forget about the whole thing!
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Jim Bourke
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Maybe don't label the units with a designation. Make leader counters. Use the turn track to put leaders into play, to force them to change command, and to remove them.

Different leaders have different bonuses.

Skip the part about forcing them to change commands if you want the player to make the decision, in which case find a good in-game reason why they might want to make use of that option.

Jim
 
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Ryan Powers
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If it's important enough, all I can think of as a third approach is separate leader counters to be shuffled around as needed without having to replace the units every time.
 
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Steve Pole

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Guys,

Many thanks for your suggestions.

There are signifcant differences between leaders, both in terms of rating and "special characteristics" which, we hope, at least nod towards the historical situation.

In the example cited involving Davout, a Gamer with a free hand would almost certainly leave him i/c I Corps and make use of his talents in the main theatre of operations rather than allocate him to a much weaker Corps and send him north to occupy Hamburg.

Allowing Davout to command I Corps and allocating the less able Vandamme to a role more in keeping with his talents would have all kinds of ramafications in terms of the game as a simulation from the very start of play, which is why we opted not to give the Gamer the opportunity to do this.

Regards,



Steve
26.11.15
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Carl Paradis
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Rubenpup wrote:


In the example cited involving Davout, a Gamer with a free hand would almost certainly leave him i/c I Corps and make use of his talents in the main theatre of operations rather than allocate him to a much weaker Corps and send him north to occupy Hamburg.


Have the gamer pay a Victory Point penalty if he does not do it. Or some other kind of other limitation (unrest in Hamburg? Vandamme doing weird things when out of Napoleon's "leash", etc...).

Rubenpup wrote:

Allowing Davout to command I Corps and allocating the less able Vandamme to a role more in keeping with his talents would have all kinds of ramafications in terms of the game as a simulation from the very start of play, which is why we opted not to give the Gamer the opportunity to do this.


I find this a bit "scripted". You do give them leeway to move the troops at will, right? You should do some kind of the same for the Leaders (but perhaps at a penalty). Right now you seem to be looking at straight-jacketing the players into scripted situations that the Commander they are playing would have control over. At least put an optional rule for this. meeple
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Steve Pole

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Carl,

Thanks for this.

Essentially, we've adopted an approach akin to your suggestion. We've kept the same system as used for the predecessor game "The Invasion of Russia (1812)". Players have complete control over the movement of commanders and combat units; but, for the Advanced Rules, it is beneficial in terms of combat and movement to allocate a commander to the Corps which he actually commanded during the campaign.

The problem with Davout - which is one of many such examples - is to decide to which Corps he should be allocated for the purpose of conferring these benefits. Historically speaking, he started the game (February 1813) as commander of I Corps and was then transferred to XIII Corps on Turns 2 or 3. However, to replicate this transfer would be very messy, particularly given the number of such changes which occurred during 1813.

In an effort to circumvent this problem we've taken a few liberties with history and, where possible, opted to allocated commanders (on both sides) to the Corps which they commanded for most of the campaign.

Regards, and thanks again for your input,



Steve
26.11.15





 
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Carl Paradis
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Rubenpup wrote:

The problem with Davout - which is one of many such examples - is to decide to which Corps he should be allocated for the purpose of conferring these benefits. Historically speaking, he started the game (February 1813) as commander of I Corps and was then transferred to XIII Corps on Turns 2 or 3. However, to replicate this transfer would be very messy, particularly given the number of such changes which occurred during 1813.


Indeed. Putting in rules to Move him after just one game-turn is certainly not worth it! meeple
 
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brant G
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What's the game effect you're trying to generate by shuffling leaders around?

If it's merely cosmetic, is it worth it?

If it's a C2 confusion issue, can you create it another way?

 
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