Robert Seater
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As part of my research, I'm trying to model how certain near future technologies might alter conflict outcomes in ways other than raw combat ability. So, I'm looking for some wargames/conflict games that realistically model non-combat aspects of modern warfare -- specifically morale, logistics, and communication. I'm looking for more than just a combat/CRT modifier from poor morale/supplies, but something richer that captures what it is like to manage troops/units that are not in perfect condition and/or respond to an adversary who is better than you in one or more of those aspects. It also needs to be modern (e.g. last 10 years or speculative near-term future), or to be universal enough that it COULD be modern. I'm trying to avoid looking at individual squad level, and focusing instead on higher echelon views, but I'm interested in any suggestions you have!

Suggestions?
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berto
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NATO DIVISION COMMANDER
FLASHPOINT:GOLAN
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Brian Train
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There isn't much out there that would scratch all of your particular itches, because of the level of abstraction designers take wrt these very important factors, to produce an operational level game that's still enjoyable by players who don't particularly care about them.

NATO Division Commander was rightly one of the first that came to mind, but it is over 35 years old now.
Still it was the most detailed game that went down this particular route, and like some other SPI games was more an object of admiration than actual play.
The Central Front series that followed this game has a system that is like a very cut-down and streamlined NDC, at least the first three games in the series have this: Fifth Corps, Hof Gap and BAOR but these are all from the same time period.
They use a "friction point" system where your units get progressively battered through use.

Joe Miranda tried to explore the idea of differing "OODA loops" in some operational games like Indo-Pakistani Wars.
One side could effectively take two or three turns to the other's one.
Again, a design 20 years in the past.
I can't recall immediately other games where he did this but I am sure they are out there... he does like to run ideas their full course.

You mentioned near future technologies - I think the advances there will be in intelligence gathering and dissemination (there's your communication aspect) but I think the actual near future conflicts will be insurgencies and asymmetrical ones, where morale and psychological factors are also important.
There will be others along presently to talk about hypothetical inter-state wars - Putin this and that, Kim Jong-un the other.

You know I've done work in the insurgency area, where the games abstract out a lot of the strictly combat-power, kinetic end of things.
See for example Kandahar and BCT Command: Kandahar, and I also took Joe Miranda's Staff Card engine (which he introduced in Bulge 20) and altered it for a near-future campaign in Lebanon: Third Lebanon War, available free at https://brtrain.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/next-war-in-lebanon...
The Staff Card engine is a nice way to show inequalities between sides.

I agree that the proper scale to examine these problems is the operational, but it's generally hard to find good games at this level that respect the aspects you are seeking.

Brian
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berto wrote:

FLASHPOINT:GOLAN


Definitely. It comes at a hell of a price though.

Sets me to wonder if there could be a card-capability system
(instead of random cards, use ones by formation/HQ) that could
streamline the mechanisms - and requisite rules look ups.

I'd love to see Mark Herman revisit the basic concepts
behind this design, and turn his amazing innovative mind to
making it easier to play out big battles (operations?).
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There is a recent game that does include a lot of what you're looking for: BCT Command: Kandahar. Unfortunately, it's a very process driven design that doesn't really deliver an enjoyable gaming experience (not surprising as it was originally intended as a simulation/training tool for military staff elements deploying to Afghanistan).
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Andrew Franke
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ltmurnau wrote:

There isn't much out there that would scratch all of your particular itches,

I agree with you as far as the OP's questions about existing games modelling near future technologies.

I am dubious about how much they will actually affect the tactical situation on the ground much more than what some games you mention below have done with great complexity. The OODA loop is great until you get to the tactical/Platoon level and you overload information to a platoon commander and squad leader. Good positional Intel and recon is the best tools we have currently to assist and they are not flawless.

ltmurnau wrote:

NATO Division Commander was rightly one of the first that came to mind, but it is over 35 years old now.
Still it was the most detailed game that went down this particular route, and like some other SPI games was more an object of admiration than actual play.
The Central Front series that followed this game has a system that is like a very cut-down and streamlined NDC, at least the first three games in the series have this: Fifth Corps, Hof Gap and BAOR but these are all from the same time period.
They use a "friction point" system where your units get progressively battered through use.

Joe Miranda tried to explore the idea of differing "OODA loops" in some operational games like Indo-Pakistani Wars.
One side could effectively take two or three turns to the other's one.
Again, a design 20 years in the past.
I can't recall immediately other games where he did this but I am sure they are out there... he does like to run ideas their full course.


Yes the OODA loop idea is over 40 years old now but still one of the best tools we can teach to commanders. Technology hasn't changed basic smart tactical and strategic level planning. We have much better tools to provide commanders with information and the tools we use to inflict harm upon the enemy have significantly grown. However Strategic planning still goes through many of the same steps with expanded intel and counter punch. Example The observe part of the of the OODA loop has changed significantly with technology. This can become a bottleneck in the loop and cause analysis paralysis. This is really dangerous especially against insurgents.

In some cases they have eliminated ground recon and are using aerial imagery only. This has caused many casualties and problems. However the basic information, RECON, is still vital whether you use a satellite or ground forces and intel to OBSERVE. What is important here is does the commander get overwhelmed with information or does he use the excellent tools at his disposal and implement the OODA loop efficiently. This is VITAL!

ltmurnau wrote:
You mentioned near future technologies - I think the advances there will be in intelligence gathering and dissemination (there's your communication aspect) but I think the actual near future conflicts will be insurgencies and asymmetrical ones, where morale and psychological factors are also important.
There will be others along presently to talk about hypothetical inter-state wars - Putin this and that, Kim Jong-un the other.

You know I've done work in the insurgency area, where the games abstract out a lot of the strictly combat-power, kinetic end of things.
See for example Kandahar and BCT Command: Kandahar, and I also took Joe Miranda's Staff Card engine (which he introduced in Bulge 20) and altered it for a near-future campaign in Lebanon: Third Lebanon War, available free at https://brtrain.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/next-war-in-lebanon...
The Staff Card engine is a nice way to show inequalities between sides.

I would HIGHLY recommend you look at Brian's game here. Having fought in the 1982-1985 Lebanese Civil war and observed all of the different sides I think this is for a wargame a good simulation of a Top down approach to managing a conflict in Lebanon

ltmurnau wrote:
I agree that the proper scale to examine these problems is the operational, but it's generally hard to find good games at this level that respect the aspects you are seeking.

Brian

I agree and I don't think you can do this at a tactical scale and represent modern combat accurately. I actually think 20th century and beyond tactical systems are great games but bear no resemblance to the realities of conflict on the ground or the OODA loop a commander is forced into when dealing with decisions at the level.

I think you best bet again is taking a look at the free version of Brian's game on his Blog and using some of the ideas to great advantage. I also think some of the other game mention like BCT Command: Kandahar are worth a look for ideas. I would also suggest reading a good book on the OODA loop and it's effects on modern military strategy. That will be essential.
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Robert Seater
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Thanks for the thorough responses! This is extremely helpful.

I should clarify that the timeframe is the most flexible aspect of my question. Probably any subject post-WWII would be relevant, as the aspects I'm interested in haven't changed much since the introduction of the truck, the cargo plane, and the radio.
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Brian Train
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Thanks for the vote of confidence Andrew!

Working on the Lebanon game was interesting.

I agree with your comments on intelligence and reconnaissance; this is something that is hardly ever well done in civilian wargames.

Brian
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Michael Quigley
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I've been kicking the can down the road of writing the impact of additive manufacturing on future war, but you could use a logistics heavy war game (all three of them I've found....) to do this. Modification of the logistics rules to reduce availability time to the forward elements could simulate the movement of production forward on the battlefield. That concept of modification of rules might be your best bet.
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If you can find it anymore, then I would really recommend West End Games (WEG) Air and Armour. It is set in 1980s Europe, corp level game. It may be 30 years old, but it was good.
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Air & Armor: Supreme in its elegant modelling of doctrine and command, also deals with EW. NATO and WP forces operate in distinctly different fashion. Very heavy emphasis on fog of war. The best modern warfare game I have played. Actually shouldn't be too hard to find, as there were a lot of copies from two edition (no difference in content, just in box cover). Was still in print around the turn of the century.

NATO Division Commander: sort of its spiritual progenitor, has everything, but very convoluted as the state of the art just wasn't quite there. Both are probably too short in scope to dwell much on logistics.

Tac Air: Limited dealing with C2, but good coverage of logistics. Strange system though, not everyone's cup of tea. Developed out of FEBA, a US military training game.

Flashpoint: Golan: Very strong emphasis on the importance of reaction cycles, but a bit more abstractly than the two above. Essentially much of the game is in terms of what you can do while the other guy is moving. Logistics for artillery are covered, but abstractly (if you roll badly, you run out of ammo and have to spend HQ activity to resupply).

Logistics Command: Odd man out. A logistics planner's dream. The actual war is just a dierolling exercise to see whose side breaks down first.

Main Battle Area, Desert Victory: Tactical games which in the full rules version ("Stage 4") have heavy emphasis on detailed handling of C3.

Assault Series: tactical system, clever C3 mechanism. I think there was also fairly detailed ammo tracking (but not resupply due to the scale)
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What about GMT's Next War series ??

Next War: Korea
Next War: Taiwan
Next War: India-Pakistan

Units are brigades and divisions and there is rules for supply, replacements, detection and electronic warfare.
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Dave Johannsen

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ltmurnau wrote:

NATO Division Commander was rightly one of the first that came to mind, but it is over 35 years old now.
Still it was the most detailed game that went down this particular route, and like some other SPI games was more an object of admiration than actual play.


I don't mean to highjack the thread from the OP, but hope that I might intrude with a quick question... Reading about NATO Division Commander piqued my interest, but it seems like it might be impossible to find. What's the next closest game to NATO Division Commander in terms of fidelity and depth of the model (i.e., an attempt at simulation, more than a game) that represents this genre and that one might be find at a reasonably accessible price? I would be grateful to hear any suggestions.


Dave
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Robert Seater
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djohannsen wrote:
I don't mean to highjack the thread from the OP, but hope that I might intrude with a quick question... Reading about NATO Division Commander piqued my interest, but it seems like it might be impossible to find. What's the next closest game to NATO Division Commander in terms of fidelity and depth of the model (i.e., an attempt at simulation, more than a game) that represents this genre and that one might be find at a reasonably accessible price? I would be grateful to hear any suggestions.

I have the same question!
 
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djohannsen wrote:
ltmurnau wrote:

NATO Division Commander was rightly one of the first that came to mind, but it is over 35 years old now.
Still it was the most detailed game that went down this particular route, and like some other SPI games was more an object of admiration than actual play.


I don't mean to highjack the thread from the OP, but hope that I might intrude with a quick question... Reading about NATO Division Commander piqued my interest, but it seems like it might be impossible to find. What's the next closest game to NATO Division Commander in terms of fidelity and depth of the model (i.e., an attempt at simulation, more than a game) that represents this genre and that one might be find at a reasonably accessible price? I would be grateful to hear any suggestions.

That is Air & Armor. It does 80% of what NDC does (in terms of doctrine, command, fog of war) with 20% of the effort, and arguably better working (NDC has some serious problems). And it has the, for me considerable, additional drawing point that where NDC had (IIRC) only US and Soviets, A+A has the West Germans and Canadians, too, so enabling a comparison with more nationalities. The main thing missing from it, which is why I don't say 100%, is what NDC called the "controller game" - essentially a single blind version where the second player as "controller" represented the Soviets and the game system against the US player who knew only what he was told by the controller. For me, at least, A+A has replaced NDC completely as a game and simulation (though I still have my copy as an object of study).
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Tony Doran
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You might try the old SPI game Next War. The logistics in the game is realistic Nd realistically vulnerable, and so difficult to maintain. The game does not strictly speaking deal with morale, but it does have a mechanism for depicting fatigue realistically, which is a similar reality...fatigued units often have poor morale.
 
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Dave Johannsen

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Thank you for the recommendations. I'll start poking around a bit.

Dave
 
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