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Subject: [WIP] Close Quarter Slaughter 2.0 - Idea Phase rss

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Maxim Steshenko
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Close Quarter Slaughter is a framework for a man-to-man wargame with simultaneous action selection. It's aimed to reimagine Ambush! as paragraphless modern skirmish.

• framework features small team engagements in a close quarter environment for one or two players
Order Tokens create tension and fog of war without decoy units
Volume Of Fire mechanic allow simultaneous fire resolution without complex CRT or dice rolls
• framework has Moral Matrix to simulate combatants mental state
• system doesn't use any grid or measurements
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Maxim Steshenko
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Re: [WIP] Close Quarter Slaughter 2.0 - 2016 Solitaire PNP Contest - Idea Phase
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Jan Schröder

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Re: [WIP] Close Quarter Slaughter 2.0 - 2016 Solitaire PNP Contest - Idea Phase
very interested in you moral matrix!
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Chris Alton
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Re: [WIP] Close Quarter Slaughter 2.0 - 2016 Solitaire PNP Contest - Idea Phase
Subscribed!
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Chris Hansen
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Re: [WIP] Close Quarter Slaughter 2.0 - 2016 Solitaire PNP Contest - Idea Phase
Welcome aboard! This sounds very cool! What do you mean by modern war? Like Korean War forward? Or more modern than that?
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Aleksandar Saranac
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Re: [WIP] Close Quarter Slaughter 2.0 - 2016 Solitaire PNP Contest - Idea Phase
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Kai Bettzieche
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Re: [WIP] Close Quarter Slaughter 2.0 - 2016 Solitaire PNP Contest - Idea Phase
I'd love to see the "moral matrix" adaptable to other skirmish games as well, so one could play any kind of skirmish system against an AI



Kind regards,
Kai
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Maxim Steshenko
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Re: [WIP] Close Quarter Slaughter 2.0 - 2016 Solitaire PNP Contest - Idea Phase
chansen2794 wrote:
What do you mean by modern war? Like Korean War forward?

Well, so far the system has no particular setting. But research that I've done and training that I've got for this project were based on modern weapons and tactics. Because today we have Modular Tactical Systems to coordinate units on the battlefield, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to provide advanced surveillance, Handheld Probing Devices to scan through walls, truly silent weaponry and so much more. I think it's possible to play WWII scenario with CQS, but why we should accept something unrealistic (like ability to see all units on a board) if we can embrace and justify it with modern technologies.

schattentanz wrote:
I'd love to see the "moral matrix" adaptable to other skirmish games as well

I'm not sure about that. Everything is bound to Order Tokens, because they are the essence of this system. I'll post the overview about them soon, so see for yourself. It might be possible to adapt the matrix as an oracle system for unit's behavior tough.
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Eric Miller
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Re: [WIP] Close Quarter Slaughter 2.0 - 2016 Solitaire PNP Contest - Idea Phase
silencewalker wrote:

And for 2016 Solitaire PNP Contest framework will get AI system to react on player's action contextually.

Opt-in for Most Innovative Mechanic, Best Wargame, Best Regular PNP Build.



Just popping by... looks interesting! I'll come back by when there's components/rules to look at!

VPT-Miller
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Maxim Steshenko
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Re: [WIP] Close Quarter Slaughter 2.0 - 2016 Solitaire PNP Contest - Idea Phase
Order Tokens

Few years ago I’ve been delving into a fog of war concept in a squad-based wargames. The reason for that was my deep dissatisfaction with decoy units. With fake unites, you have to waste your thought process on making believable moves with these decoys, so opponent wouldn’t be able to uncover them that easily.

At some point I created something like Pocket Kriegs Spiel, where players passed each other a casket with cubes to move units around. After few tests I discovered two things:
1. Absence of shared information about units on a board kills the discussion between players.
2. Inability to see opponent’s units staggers player’s advancement on a board drastically.

And I asked myself a question. What else can be hidden in order to produce decoyless fog of war with feasible print&play solution?

Close Quarter Slaughter places player in a very specific shoes. He is a commander, who lead an operation in a crib far away from a battlefield. He has all information he can get from surveillance teams and access to all sort of communications, but he needs time to process incoming information and to issue an order for combatants on the ground to execute. This creates a delay, a very vital delay for close quarter engagements.

The system has 6 slots for fireteams, which allows to lead from 12 to 24 combatants into a fight. Player gives an order to each team during each round by placing a token face down near the team counter. There are four possible orders:

Advance This order represents cautious movement into uncontrolled area at normal speed and with the ability to fire.
Relocate This order represents quick movement within controlled area at fast speed without the ability to fire.
Hold/Retreat This order represents intention to control an area with the ability to fire or to retreat at fast speed from this area without the ability to fire.
Suppress This order represents intention to suppress specific area with intensive fire. Unlike previous orders, this one may be recasted.

However, at the beginning of the game player issues two orders to each team in a strict sequence. And later player gives new order before resolving previous one. This creates one irreversible predefined order for each fireteam. And there is no way to repeat same order, since each team has only five order tokens.
Design Note wrote:
There is no Fire order because shooting isn't an intention. This is a reaction on spotting and identifying a target, since a transition from low ready to high ready takes less than a second. And some orders even forbids shooting, because combatant moves in a stance which favours speed and low profile over the ability to shoot. Suppression however is an intention, because combatant may target empty area for tactical purpose and may change target in a last moment as a natural reaction to a hostile.


When player issued all orders, he takes previously given order from a team and cast it anywhere on a board within team’s line of sight i.e. the team will move to this position in a straight line. Both players do this in a turn order with one token at a time. If player want to obscure his intentions, he may perform a shadow cast. To do this player takes fifth order token for a specific team, shuffles it with an active order token and performs two casts. He still do one cast during each turn.
Design Note wrote:
Casting creates a line for a fireteam to follow and locks an order token away from immediate reuse. This reflects several CQC main aspects. First, combatant moves from one cover to another as fast as possible and always observes his destination before moving there. Second, fireteams interact with one another by providing cover fire and coordinate movements. Once team Advanced, it should Hold new position or Suppress specific are, so another team would be able to Advance safely. And shadow casting creates "fog of war" when upcoming events are obscured. Simply by placing one token on a fireteam and another token somewhere ahead, player creates three possible behaviours for this fireteam without necessity to maintain decoy units.


Once players casted all their orders for that round, they start to reveal them. In a turn order player points out one opponent’s order token and flips it. If it’s a shadow token, it must be removed from the board. If it’s a Suppression Order Token, it may be recasted by the opponent with a successful Reaction Check. When all orders are revealed, players move their fireteams towards respective order tokens on a distance equal to shortest distance among all team-token pairs. Every team with incomplete Advance or Relocate order gain "In Motion" status and can’t gain new orders, but moves extra nodes next time.
Design Note wrote:
It's a bit tricky, but this is a way to provide flexible impulses. Normally, this allow to speed up initial movement until the first engagement and then to slow down for tactical engagements. If player want to cast one-node movement orders, he will be slower than opponent. If player want to cast long range orders, his team will be exposed for an opponent's fire with clear intentions. Of course, player can place order token on a fireteam counter to represent Hold or Suppress and it wouldn't be considered as a shortest distance.


And... that’s it. Player observes position of opponent’s units and is able to make solid choices, but can’t quickly adapt to unexpected maneuver. The system based on CQC kinematics and promotes constant movement. If you’ve seen anything like this please let me know in the comments, because I’m tempted to slap "unique" word on this mechanic.
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David Thompson
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Re: [WIP] Close Quarter Slaughter 2.0 - 2016 Solitaire PNP Contest - Idea Phase
Maxim, this systems sounds interesting and - perhaps more importantly - very innovative. Subscribed.
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Maxim Steshenko
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Re: [WIP] Close Quarter Slaughter 2.0 - 2016 Solitaire PNP Contest - Idea Phase
Cover and Fire

Another thing that boggles my mind is Opportunity Fire. I understand why this mechanic exists, but I can't cope with it disruptive nature in a fast-paced skirmish. And since my system has simultaneous action selection to avoid certain problems, I also decided to reapproach fire mechanic.

In Close Quarter Slaughter, after players revealed all orders, but before units movement, each player calculates Volume of Fire for each his fireteam eligible for shooting. VoF is an amount of a cover factor in a triangle or a rectangle between shooter, it’s target and related order tokens. Target is determined by a Reaction Check, so it is possible that desirable opponent’s team wouldn’t be a valid target. Total amount of cover indicates a complexity of a shot that shooter takes to hit his target. And once fireteam successfully reacted on opponent’s fireteam, that team gains a face down card and six-sided die with FoV value. This card is hidden from both players until they reveal orders in the next phase. Yes, they are planing without exact notion about team’s status and only with vague idea of a possible outcome based on a VoF value.
Design Note wrote:
Default assumption here is a fact that a shooter most likely will hit his target in a perfect condition, but this chance lowers in more complex environment. If MOUT allows an slow-paced engagement at 100 meters, CQB is about far more enclosed spaces where hitting target is not a major problem. Also, target usually tries to gain maximum advantage from his or her surroundings. That means combatant won't go in a straight line at the same speed, but instead would moves from one cover to another with a shot dashes or something like that. And that level of detail is unnecessary for this simulation.


Now, the Reaction Check is essentially what normally used as Fire Action. In close quarter environment the ability to spot enemy is far more important than ability to shoot him. To perform Reaction Check, player uses same deck, but draw a card for each combatant in his fireteam and places Reaction Locus Marker on indicated sector around the fireteam. Each of six sectors may have only one Reaction Locus. This also can be done by rolling six-sided dice, but CQS uses two conditions for shifting marker in unoccupied sector. 'Toward Vector' condition moves marker closer to Order token or Opponent’s Side of the board. 'Toward Sound' condition moves marker closer to nearest Sound Marker in unoccupied sector.
Design Note wrote:
And this is bread and butter of the system. The very equilibrium of CQS is the more combatants in a fireteam, the better it reacts on an enemy, but player has less control on the board and the team more vulnerable to explosives and easier to spot. There is no explicit facing for each combatant because it changes rapidly during the movement. Even if a combatant alone, he or she will try to maintain at least 170 degree arc of awareness. But since it’s three times more than necessary, the system prohibit usage of lone combatants and uses two-men team as a minimal unit. Sensor overload is the main problem in CQB engagement. And main source for it is a necessity to keep an eye on every possible cover.


Cover comes in three flavours. Full Cover is anything that can hide a standing person. Half Cover is anything that can hide at least half of a standing person. Soft Cover is anything that that obscures person from a spotting, but doesn’t provide any real protection. In the game any cover is a node, which fireteam occupies to gain cover benefit. Such node provides cover from any angles unless the team is under fire from two opposite directions. In this case cover is denied and reduced. Also, fireteam may gain Half Cover anywhere or convert Half Cover into a Full Cover with Hold Order.

 

Example of Volume of Fire mechanic. VoF is 2 on the left and 3 on the right.


Scale
This is my biggest bugbear so far. CQS has been distilled down to the point, where it works with or without a board. But few AI implementations in my mind requires a board and it easier to figure out shortest distance and VoF if you have a regular grid as an underlying reference. I used 4-6 meters as a measuring unit at some point, but 70x70 meters might be not enough for a decent battle against an AI.

And some of you might notice that firing is possible once per combatant per order per phase. This is a way more abstract than it should be and even a bit exploitable. Player is capable to sync his movement orders with necessary time for holding a specific point and with lengths of opponent’s movement, but AI can’t do the same that easily. While VoF can be instantiated if there a line of sight blocked somewhere along the way, Reaction Check itself should be changed toward more strict rules like “During a phase player should perform Reaction check for each combatant for each X nodes, unless a combatant has spotted a target.” And that upsets me greatly. :C
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Chris Hansen
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Re: [WIP] Close Quarter Slaughter 2.0 - 2016 Solitaire PNP Contest - Idea Phase
Just a reminder that the contest deadline is July 31st. How is the game coming along? I hope that you'll be able to make components available by that time. I'm looking forward to your game.
 
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Maxim Steshenko
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Re: [WIP] Close Quarter Slaughter 2.0 - 2016 Solitaire PNP Contest - Idea Phase
I've just crawled over a deadline at work, so I'm returning to the development.

Turned out the implementation of a solitaire mode revealed several serious flaws in the initial design. First of all, direct swap of a player for AI caused navigation problems. I don't like any cardboard-AI, which requires from a player decision making based on a spatial board interpretation. It's easy to state "nearest strongest hero", but it's much harder to develop robust metric to determine such hero without asking a player directly. In my case this redefined an approach to the space separation. Now, the board have rooms, enclosed with passages and/or corners. This rendered my assets for the contest useless, but now I can assign not only a level (which defines possible approaches), but also a symbol for each room. Thus there is no need to torture a player with AI deck while a simple rondel with few dice would be able to handle pathfinding for any given board.

Another unexpected problem was a flow of firefights. In a two-player game each engagement is a transition point and a result of past tactical decisions. In a solitaire game AI won't be able to bluff his way to the victory with exciting tactical counter-attacks. This begs firefights to be more interesting, otherwise there is not much to do. In traditional wargames player has ability to puppeteer each unit, but in my system player can only give orders to units and can't decide for them due to the overall concept. In order to resolve the issue without compromising the core idea, I decided to add a bit of gambling. But before unsubscribing from the thread please hear me out! Since player can't interfere, the engagement is bind to a strict procedure. This procedure defines the amount of cards to draw for each fireteam and cards dictates the outcome during the next round. With new approach to the board mark up, I was able to introduce risk&reward element with push-your-luck mechanic for different transitions within the procedure. This is a slightly different shade of randomness, but player would have more agency in the process, and overall approach reflects possible mistakes on the behalf of a fireteam leader. And this is where attributes become handy.

Last thing I'm still unsure about is a realistic wounds. Personally, I like narrative wounds with non-generic consequences. However, I have doubts that players would be happy about handling a bunch of new minor rules on top of ever-changing mental state among fifteen combatants. I attempted to attach wound consequences to combatant's attributes, but I need to playtest this idea.
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