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Subject: Generic matrix gaming thread rss

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Rex Brynen
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Given the growing interest in Engle matrix games, I thought it might be useful to start BGG thread for general discussion of the gaming technique.

Here's some initial reading:

Chris Engle, A short history of matrix games (PAXsims)

Bob Cordery, 28 years later: My small part in the early development of the Matrix Game (Wargaming Miscellany)

Tom Mouat, Matrix game download page (mapsymbs.com)

Ben Taylor, Towards serious matrix games (PAXsims)

Other matrix games articles at PAXsims

Feel free to add more material below!
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brant G
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s2company.com had a handy one-sheet on matrix games specifically for the use of adjudication during MDMP wargames, but I'll be damned if I can find it anymore, and he hasn't updated the site in years



edit - found it. Here it is http://grogheads.com/files/ResolvingDisputes_2005-07-22.pdf
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Carl Paradis
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Thanks for making this thread Rex. This is a topic I am getting into these days.
 
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Eddy Sterckx
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RexBrynen wrote:


As a regular participant in the matrix games set-up by the Phil Dutre in the comments on that blog-post here are some comments of my own on matrix gaming in general :

- all players need to know and understand the period warfare limitations, or you'll get into discussions that make no (historical) sense.

- all players need to accept that their bright and excellent idea can and will be voted down for reasons you consider candidates for most colossal idiocy of the year - if that puts you in a foul mood, matrix gaming is not for you.

- you really need a good number of wargamers to get the most out of this - 5-6 is a minimum I think - which I realize is a virtual impossibility for a lot of people in here.

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Carl Paradis
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eddy_sterckx wrote:

- all players need to know and understand the period warfare limitations, or you'll get into discussions that make no (historical) sense.


I wonder how a Matrix Game about the 1940 invasion of France would have turned out, if the participants were the officers of the historical staffs of the French & German Armies... whistle
 
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Wendell
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Honestly, I'd never heard of "Engle matrix" games until this thread.

So thanks for posting - your links were very interesting.
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Eddy Sterckx
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licinius wrote:
eddy_sterckx wrote:

- all players need to know and understand the period warfare limitations, or you'll get into discussions that make no (historical) sense.


I wonder how a Matrix Game about the 1940 invasion of France would have turned out, if the participants were the officers of the historical staffs of the French & German Armies... whistle


Well, that's a very good point. IRL we played this with a bunch of friends and under our general "gentlemen wargame society etiquette" rules. This means that (the rare) arguments that go nowhere get resolved by rolling a die and everybody accepts the result without grumbling.
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THE MAVERICK
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Have not been impressed by what I've seen in terms of "game" -- but the terms "generic" and "matrix gaming" seem to go together pretty well!
 
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Jason Cawley
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Maverick - seconded. I think this whole genre is simply horrible, and barely even qualifies as wargaming in any sense. More like dorm room bull session and debating society.
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Carl Paradis
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JasonC wrote:
Maverick - seconded. I think this whole genre is simply horrible, and barely even qualifies as wargaming in any sense. More like dorm room bull session and debating society.


Yes indeed. But there are some good points than can be "percolated" out of it and that IMHO will improve our wargames. meeple
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Andrew Kluck
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licinius wrote:
JasonC wrote:
Maverick - seconded. I think this whole genre is simply horrible, and barely even qualifies as wargaming in any sense. More like dorm room bull session and debating society.


Yes indeed. But there are some good points than can be "percolated" out of it and that IMHO will improve our wargames. meeple

Absolutely, I'm an ardent supporter of anything at all that stretches the imagination of conflict sim designs and don't care a fig if those influences are considered 'wargaming' by anyone.
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Carl Paradis
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Sitnam wrote:

Absolutely, I'm an ardent supporter of anything at all that stretches the imagination of conflict sim designs and don't care a fig if those influences are considered 'wargaming' by anyone.


Same here. meeple
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Eddy Sterckx
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Sitnam wrote:
licinius wrote:
JasonC wrote:
Maverick - seconded. I think this whole genre is simply horrible, and barely even qualifies as wargaming in any sense. More like dorm room bull session and debating society.


Yes indeed. But there are some good points than can be "percolated" out of it and that IMHO will improve our wargames. meeple

Absolutely, I'm an ardent supporter of anything at all that stretches the imagination of conflict sim designs and don't care a fig if those influences are considered 'wargaming' by anyone.


Not considered 'wargaming' is actually quite funny as matrix gaming is a direct descendant of the original Kriegspiel.

Got this picture in my head of a chits and hexes wargamer telling von Reiswitz that he knows nothing at all about wargaming
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Carl Paradis
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eddy_sterckx wrote:


Not considered 'wargaming' is actually quite funny as matrix gaming is a direct descendant of the original Kriegspiel.

Got this picture in my head of a chits and hexes wargamer telling von Reiswitz that he knows nothing at all about wargaming


You are being ingenious here. You know exactly what he meant to say. Right? whistle

In fact I really think that Von Reiswitz would be quite flabbergasted about the exponential evolution of wargames since his own "baby steps" beginnings.
 
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Eddy Sterckx
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licinius wrote:
Sitnam wrote:

Absolutely, I'm an ardent supporter of anything at all that stretches the imagination of conflict sim designs and don't care a fig if those influences are considered 'wargaming' by anyone.


Same here. meeple


I've seen some of the ideas of matrix wargaming implemented in other designs. Remember the tactical computer wargame Close Combat ? If you ordered a unit in it to storm across open terrain towards a machine gun, the unit simply didn't listen to you and stayed put as its AI had decided that that was a dumb move. Think the AI as the arbiter or judge in matrix gaming. Compare and contrast with tactical boardgames.

Also, when you do solo wargaming and setting up a trap, aren't you also judging when/if the other side spots it or not ?

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Eddy Sterckx
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licinius wrote:
eddy_sterckx wrote:


Not considered 'wargaming' is actually quite funny as matrix gaming is a direct descendant of the original Kriegspiel.

Got this picture in my head of a chits and hexes wargamer telling von Reiswitz that he knows nothing at all about wargaming


You are being ingenious here. You know exactly what he meant to say. Right? whistle

In fact I really think that Von Reiswitz would be quite flabbergasted about the exponential evolution of wargames since his own "baby steps" beginnings.


This is the war room, right

I dunno about von Reiswitz - I think he could join our 19th century miniature games in a heartbeat, but would find them to be less chart and table driven than he'd be used to.
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Carl Paradis
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eddy_sterckx wrote:


I've seen some of the ideas of matrix wargaming implemented in other designs. Remember the tactical computer wargame Close Combat ? If you ordered a unit in it to storm across open terrain towards a machine gun, the unit simply didn't listen to you and stayed put as its AI had decided that that was a dumb move. Think the AI as the arbiter or judge in matrix gaming. Compare and contrast with tactical boardgames.

Also, when you do solo wargaming and setting up a trap, aren't you also judging when/if the other side spots it or not ?



Absolutely!

In my future "No Retreat!5 the Western Front 44-45", some player strategic decisions might be "overturned" by the Higher Leaders.

Example: A the German Local Commander, you got new intelligence that points Normandy out as the locale for the D-Day invasion. BUT you have to convince Hitler and Von Runstedt to allow yo to more more troops there before the Allied troops actually land. Who knows, you might be wrong... meeple
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Phil Dutre
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Matrix games are most successful if all players understand the setup and aim of the game. The aim usually is not "winning", but rather to see how a story or situation develops. That does not mean players cannot have objectives - they should have objectives to reach.
But, the aim of the game is to analyze situations and see where they can lead to, rather than win-at-all-costs as is the setup is many other games.

I have run several matrix games using various mechanism. Some examples:
- in a battle game, all players can make arguments about any unit on any side; thereby creating a detachment between a specific force and a player.
- arguments are resolved by die rolling, probabilities are judged by an umpire;
- arguments are resolved by voting - all players having voting tokens, veto tokens etc.
- Campaign progression in a miniature wargaming campaign is handled by matrix-style arguments, rather than elaborate resource management.

Overall, matrix games are a form of discussion game or story-telling game. It is a genre underrepresented in wargaming, and I encourage people to explore the format!

P.S. Specifically for miniature wargaming, track down a (pdf)copy of Battlegames #33. It has an article describing some of the experimental games I have run.
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Nick West
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I got involved with them briefly when I lived in London about 25 years ago and got involved with this lot http://www.wargamedevelopments.org/. Here is their matrix gaming page http://www.wargamedevelopments.org/matrix.htm

Personally I thought it was a interesting technique to have in the tool box.
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Rex Brynen
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JasonC wrote:
Maverick - seconded. I think this whole genre is simply horrible, and barely even qualifies as wargaming in any sense. More like dorm room bull session and debating society.


I think, as with any game, it very much depends on the design and implementation, as well as whether the approach is suitable for the issues to be explored.

I've seen very poor matrix games. I have also seen matrix games that work extremely well, and certainly much better than any COTS wargames for the same conflict/issue set.
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Rex Brynen
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Some relatively recent accounts of serious applications of matrix games:

An Australian approach to concept development and experimentation: linking strategy to capability (Australia/DSTO, 2012)--the article is paywalled, unfortunately, but if you are at a university or in government you might have access.

Matrix Game Methodology: Support to V2010 Olympic Marine Security Planners (Canada/DRDC, 2011)--this one falls more into the "seminar discussion" end of the spectrum.

Wargaming to Support Strategic Planning (Canada/DRDC, 2015)--more adversarial matrix gaming. My own take on this study can be found at PAXsims.
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Phil Dutre
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Also take a look at:
Matrix Games for Modern Wargaming Developments in Professional and Educational Wargames, published by John Curry in the History of Wargaming project.

http://www.wargaming.co/professional/details/matrixgames.htm
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Jason Cawley
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Phil - no, it isn't how well it is implemented and it isn't that those of us who dislike them don't know what they are. It's that we know exactly what they are and how they are used and how institutions try to substitute them for actual wargaming, that breeds my contempt.

I've told you I think the whole genre is crap. Putting it between two slices of wheat bread and extolling how much fiber that offers won't change the verdict. Debating society story telling fantasy of the exact sort that "refloated" sunken Japanese carriers in their Midway simulations are everything wrong with institutional wargaming. Not new, not shiny, not insightful.

Give me hex and counter rule driven competitive games, with rival not cooperating minds striving mightily to just defeat the opponent and just win, every day and twice on Sunday, thank you very much. War is a conflict of wills using deadly force; you don't train for it by building a verbal consensus with colleagues that perhaps you could win.
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Rex Brynen
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JasonC wrote:


Give me hex and counter rule driven competitive games, with rival not cooperating minds striving mightily to just defeat the opponent and just win, every day and twice on Sunday, thank you very much. War is a conflict of wills using deadly force; you don't train for it by building a verbal consensus with colleagues that perhaps you could win.


The matrix games I run are always a conflict of wills using deadly force. I tend to use them in cases where hex-and-counter games simply do not—and probably cannot—address either the complex coalition politics whereby those effects are delivered, or include the full range of innovative ways in which non-kinetic and kinetic capabilities might be employed.

Moreover, matrix games can be used as a subsystem of rules-based wargames to address strategic, operational, or tactical issues that the rules fail to anticipate. RCAT does this, for example--when we playtested it for the Canadian Department of National Defence it was clear that this embedded flexibility was not only valuable, but essential to addressing a hybrid warfare scenario set in a complex political environment.

I'm not a blind booster of any gaming system. Ultimately any game must be fit for purpose. In the context of serious games, that means addressing client needs. There are times when matrix games can do that quite well.
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JasonC wrote:
I've told you I think the whole genre is crap.


And told us, and told us, and told us, and told us....
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