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Subject: Design for effect rss

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Steve Pole

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Someone asked me a question about one of the Rules in a game I’m in the process of researching/designing and, when I responded, he said “so it’s just design for effect”.

This came as a bit of a surprise: given that wargames are simple abstractions/models of a complex reality, I would have thought that could be said of most Rules. Or, have I misunderstood the concept?

(Incidentally, the “effect” of Rule in question is that if a stack contains a unit(s) skirmishers the chances are it/they will automatically engage the enemy before other units in the stack.)
 
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Gerry Palmer
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I wouldn't call that 'design for effect'. Sounds rather historically based (depending on the scale of your game).
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Riccardo Fabris
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The most common definition of 'design for effect' that i know is when a wargame rule isn't a strict simulation of an historical event or tactic, but is implemented within the rules because it creates a desired outcome/position (in other words, an 'effect') that means that the game as a whole has a more historical feel/outcome.

One of the premier examples of this is the game Guns of Gettysburg, where the main campaign scenario has completely double-blind reinforcement schedules: you don't know what you are going to get and when, and you don't know what your opponent is going to get and when. This means that the game isn't historical, but does mean that you are just as unsure about possible reinforcements as the commanders of the respective armies were during the first day of Gettysburg.
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Eddy Sterckx
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Rubenpup wrote:

This came as a bit of a surprise: given that wargames are simple abstractions/models of a complex reality, I would have thought that could be said of most Rules.


"Design for effect" is a concept that's a gray area - much like "what's a wargame". In essence it means that there's a rule or mechanic that simplifies / abstracts a complex procedure in order to let the gamer focus on the important matters. The things real generals focus on. Skirmishers will skirmish - that's their job - no need for you as the commanding general to issue specific orders for that.

Then there's the opposing view that skirmishers will just sit on their butt unless ordered to go out and harass the enemy line. Some will claim this is more realistic. It's not, these gamers just like to be in control of everything.

As you can see, this is all a matter of preference and what level of "design for effect" you're willing to accept is highly personal.
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Pelle Nilsson
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Clear cases of design for effect are when a rule obviously contradicts reality/history, but resulting in the long run in the overall game to be more historic or realistic. Players can need some encouragement to behave in a more historical way, or minor details in individual units' actions can be simplified to make the overall movements of entire formations correct without bogging down in simulating too many details.
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Eddy Sterckx
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pelni wrote:
Clear cases of design for effect are when a rule obviously contradicts reality/history, but resulting in the long run in the overall game to be more historic or realistic.


Minor addition here : history evolves and/or is disputed. Did Napoleonic squares stay in place or could they move ? The latest Ancient Warfare magazine has an article proposing/conjecturing how Alexander's cavalry managed to penetrate a phalanx head-on.

What I want to say is that you might find that a "design for cause" set of rules may find itself outdated over time given new insights or data, while a "design for effect" rule will still work as it focuses more on the actual historical outcome, than the detailed procedure.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Tekopo wrote:
One of the premier examples of this is the game Guns of Gettysburg, where the main campaign scenario has completely double-blind reinforcement schedules: you don't know what you are going to get and when, and you don't know what your opponent is going to get and when. This means that the game isn't historical, but does mean that you are just as unsure about possible reinforcements as the commanders of the respective armies were during the first day of Gettysburg.

One can see the slipperiness of such definitions -- I would say that since the mechanic gives the players similar uncertainty to what the commanders suffered, that makes it more historical.
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Riccardo Fabris
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sdiberar wrote:
Tekopo wrote:
One of the premier examples of this is the game Guns of Gettysburg, where the main campaign scenario has completely double-blind reinforcement schedules: you don't know what you are going to get and when, and you don't know what your opponent is going to get and when. This means that the game isn't historical, but does mean that you are just as unsure about possible reinforcements as the commanders of the respective armies were during the first day of Gettysburg.

One can see the slipperiness of such definitions -- I would say that since the mechanic gives the players similar uncertainty to what the commanders suffered, that makes it more historical.

I tend to agree with this as well: I tend to find that a scholarly approach to ensuring that reinforcements come in at the exact time and date that they arrived at in OTL leads to players making choices based on hindsight that would have never occurred in real life. Gettysburg is pretty much the best example of this for me, due to its meeting engagement nature.
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Rex Stites
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Broadly speaking, "design for effect" are rules/mechanics whose attributes are chosen to achieve a specific, predetermined result that is applicable only to the particular situation gamed. In contrast, "design for cause" are rules/mechanics chosen based on generally applicable principles. "Design for cause" gives you a basic model/framework of generally applicable principles that can be applied to multiple battles of the same era, for example. The accuracy of the model can be verified to a degree by its ability to produce plausible results to multiple subjects. "Design for effect" is inherently a one-off. The designer basically starts from scratch to apply the game's mechanics to different subjects because it is by definition not premised on generally applicable principles. Moreover, there's no ability to test the "model" in a second, third, etc. battle.

For example, a hex grid with a TEC chart for movement is "design for cause," whereas area movement is "design for effect." I can take the general principles of the different types of terrain (woods take 3mp, roads 1 mp, etc.) and port that to another game at the same scale with similar unit types. This is a very objective process; with the hex scale and some basic information about how fade units move, the gamer can calculate movement rates to determine if they're reasonable. Area movement on the other hand is based purely on the designer's perception of how far units could move in various directions based on how the designer defines the irregular areas. This is purely subjective; there is nothing the gamer can do to verify the results.
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sdiberar wrote:
Tekopo wrote:
One of the premier examples of this is the game Guns of Gettysburg, where the main campaign scenario has completely double-blind reinforcement schedules: you don't know what you are going to get and when, and you don't know what your opponent is going to get and when. This means that the game isn't historical, but does mean that you are just as unsure about possible reinforcements as the commanders of the respective armies were during the first day of Gettysburg.

One can see the slipperiness of such definitions -- I would say that since the mechanic gives the players similar uncertainty to what the commanders suffered, that makes it more historical.


That's not slipperiness with the definitions for design for cause/effect; that's slipperiness with the definition of "historical."
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Tekopo wrote:


One of the premier examples of this is the game Guns of Gettysburg, where the main campaign scenario has completely double-blind reinforcement schedules: you don't know what you are going to get and when, and you don't know what your opponent is going to get and when. This means that the game isn't historical, but does mean that you are just as unsure about possible reinforcements as the commanders of the respective armies were during the first day of Gettysburg.


I don't think it's DFE because the players don't know when the reinforcements arrive. Moreover, the classical rigid reinforcement schedule is equally DFE.
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rstites25 wrote:
Broadly speaking, "design for effect" are rules/mechanics whose attributes are chosen to achieve a specific, predetermined result that is applicable only to the particular situation gamed. In contrast, "design for cause" are rules/mechanics chosen based on generally applicable principles. "Design for cause" gives you a basic model/framework of generally applicable principles that can be applied to multiple battles of the same era, for example. The accuracy of the model can be verified to a degree by its ability to produce plausible results to multiple subjects. "Design for effect" is inherently a one-off. The designer basically starts from scratch to apply the game's mechanics to different subjects because it is by definition not premised on generally applicable principles. Moreover, there's no ability to test the "model" in a second, third, etc. battle.

For example, a hex grid with a TEC chart for movement is "design for cause," whereas area movement is "design for effect." I can take the general principles of the different types of terrain (woods take 3mp, roads 1 mp, etc.) and port that to another game at the same scale with similar unit types. This is a very objective process; with the hex scale and some basic information about how fade units move, the gamer can calculate movement rates to determine if they're reasonable. Area movement on the other hand is based purely on the designer's perception of how far units could move in various directions based on how the designer defines the irregular areas. This is purely subjective; there is nothing the gamer can do to verify the results.


+1. This has always been my understanding of the difference between design for effect and design for cause.
 
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Roger Hobden
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desertfox2004 wrote:
rstites25 wrote:
Broadly speaking, "design for effect" are rules/mechanics whose attributes are chosen to achieve a specific, predetermined result that is applicable only to the particular situation gamed. In contrast, "design for cause" are rules/mechanics chosen based on generally applicable principles. "Design for cause" gives you a basic model/framework of generally applicable principles that can be applied to multiple battles of the same era, for example. The accuracy of the model can be verified to a degree by its ability to produce plausible results to multiple subjects. "Design for effect" is inherently a one-off. The designer basically starts from scratch to apply the game's mechanics to different subjects because it is by definition not premised on generally applicable principles. Moreover, there's no ability to test the "model" in a second, third, etc. battle.

For example, a hex grid with a TEC chart for movement is "design for cause," whereas area movement is "design for effect." I can take the general principles of the different types of terrain (woods take 3mp, roads 1 mp, etc.) and port that to another game at the same scale with similar unit types. This is a very objective process; with the hex scale and some basic information about how fade units move, the gamer can calculate movement rates to determine if they're reasonable. Area movement on the other hand is based purely on the designer's perception of how far units could move in various directions based on how the designer defines the irregular areas. This is purely subjective; there is nothing the gamer can do to verify the results.


+1. This has always been my understanding of the difference between design for effect and design for cause.


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Enrico Viglino
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Tekopo wrote:


One of the premier examples of this is the game Guns of Gettysburg, where the main campaign scenario has completely double-blind reinforcement schedules: you don't know what you are going to get and when, and you don't know what your opponent is going to get and when. This means that the game isn't historical, but does mean that you are just as unsure about possible reinforcements as the commanders of the respective armies were during the first day of Gettysburg.


Hmm...but the EFFECT in this case is to simulate the uncertainty the commanders had.
Abstracting one factor to favor another simulative one is not what
I'd call design for effect, but rather a different focus for attention.


Where I really see design for effect is when something which is not
particularly reflective of anything in the reality is put in place -
like the battle cards in We the People or Hannibal. They make for a
game that some favor, but don't really represent anything historical.

What it is NOT is simple abstraction. That's inherent in modelling.
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Judd Vance
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The best example I saw of design for effect was in Washington's War, where George Washington has a "5" battle rating. He was not that great of a battlefield tactician. However, if the American player wisely incorporates Washington's Fabian strategy that "5" will give the British player pause and be concerned that the old Fox will pull something off, just as they were historically after he crossed the Delaware River and attacked Trenton.

If you are a Gung Ho American player and decide to go pick every fight you can with Washington because he has a higher battle rating than every British General except Howe, that American player will lose the game badly and probably get Washington captured.
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calandale wrote:
Tekopo wrote:


One of the premier examples of this is the game Guns of Gettysburg, where the main campaign scenario has completely double-blind reinforcement schedules: you don't know what you are going to get and when, and you don't know what your opponent is going to get and when. This means that the game isn't historical, but does mean that you are just as unsure about possible reinforcements as the commanders of the respective armies were during the first day of Gettysburg.


Hmm...but the EFFECT in this case is to simulate the uncertainty the commanders had.
Abstracting one factor to favor another simulative one is not what
I'd call design for effect, but rather a different focus for attention.



But it's still DEF, nonetheless. It's just more justifiable in what it produces than something like battle cards might be.

It's DEF because there is no causal element to the design for determine when reinforcements arrive. In contrast, a design for cause element to reinforcements would be something like a big GCACW scenario where you have units in the general vicinity to help, but you have to march them there yourself subject to the whims of the die rolls. Whether they ultimately reach you in time will depend on how far they move each turn, whether they're inhibited by rain, whether your opponent is able to intercept them, etc.
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Mike Welker
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For me, design for effect is aptly demonstrated in the area-impulse series of games, a prominent example being Breakout: Normandy. There are all sorts of rules mechanics operating in a "game system engine or etc." kind of way all producing a rather tense experience that would seem pretty close to the experience of the "commanders" who would have played "campaign level" roles for the battle.
 
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Riccardo Fabris
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rstites25 wrote:
Broadly speaking, "design for effect" are rules/mechanics whose attributes are chosen to achieve a specific, predetermined result that is applicable only to the particular situation gamed. In contrast, "design for cause" are rules/mechanics chosen based on generally applicable principles. "Design for cause" gives you a basic model/framework of generally applicable principles that can be applied to multiple battles of the same era, for example. The accuracy of the model can be verified to a degree by its ability to produce plausible results to multiple subjects. "Design for effect" is inherently a one-off. The designer basically starts from scratch to apply the game's mechanics to different subjects because it is by definition not premised on generally applicable principles. Moreover, there's no ability to test the "model" in a second, third, etc. battle.

For example, a hex grid with a TEC chart for movement is "design for cause," whereas area movement is "design for effect." I can take the general principles of the different types of terrain (woods take 3mp, roads 1 mp, etc.) and port that to another game at the same scale with similar unit types. This is a very objective process; with the hex scale and some basic information about how fade units move, the gamer can calculate movement rates to determine if they're reasonable. Area movement on the other hand is based purely on the designer's perception of how far units could move in various directions based on how the designer defines the irregular areas. This is purely subjective; there is nothing the gamer can do to verify the results.

This is a much better explanation and example than the one I provided so thanks, very interesting
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Daniel Blumentritt
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Design-for-effect: right results for the wrong reasons, because the "right" reasons are impossible to achieve, or undesirable to pursue because of added complexity, game length, etc.

For example, you couldn't make a WW1 game with the right reasons for the Western Allies smashing their heads into walls repeatedly. They thought their chances of success were higher than they actually were - you can't put that in a game because you can't fool someone as to the combat odds. Well, you could initially make a game that misleads a new player, but experienced players would figure it out. But in Paths of Glory, the Allied Powers make those attacks because they want the Central Powers to spend a card for replacements instead of on attacking the Russians.
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Statalyzer wrote:

But in Paths of Glory, the Allied Powers make those attacks because they want the Central Powers to spend a card for replacements instead of on attacking the Russians.


I would call this (mostly) cause as well. By mid-war, the allied attacks were
largely to do precisely what they are doing in PoG - trying to relieve
pressure on Russia. There was very little actual hope of ending things.
Where it was though, it was in new tactical and weapons systems. Another
factor PoG fails to account for is the morale need to appear to be doing
SOMETHING, as well as the possibility of breaking the enemy's morale.

Any time I find what I'd really call design for effect, I'd probably
say it ain't enough of a simulation to qualify as a wargame though -
at least within that one system.
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Tim Franklin
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calandale wrote:
Statalyzer wrote:

But in Paths of Glory, the Allied Powers make those attacks because they want the Central Powers to spend a card for replacements instead of on attacking the Russians.


I would call this (mostly) cause as well. By mid-war, the allied attacks were
largely to do precisely what they are doing in PoG - trying to relieve
pressure on Russia. There was very little actual hope of ending things.
Where it was though, it was in new tactical and weapons systems. Another
factor PoG fails to account for is the morale need to appear to be doing
SOMETHING, as well as the possibility of breaking the enemy's morale.


Doesn't PoG to some extent abstract away both the head-banging and the morale-boosting into the Mandatory Offensives?
 
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tim-pelican wrote:

Doesn't PoG to some extent abstract away both the head-banging and the morale-boosting into the Mandatory Offensives?


I guess. It's not really design for effect, but more just not going
into enough detail on what I'd consider the key factors in decision
making at the grand strategic level.
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calandale wrote:
Statalyzer wrote:

But in Paths of Glory, the Allied Powers make those attacks because they want the Central Powers to spend a card for replacements instead of on attacking the Russians.


I would call this (mostly) cause as well. By mid-war, the allied attacks were
largely to do precisely what they are doing in PoG - trying to relieve
pressure on Russia.


If that were the case, there'd be no need to bake in rules mandating offensives; competent players would conduct them anyway. Any rule mandating a particular player action is essentially by definition DFE.
 
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rstites25 wrote:
calandale wrote:
Statalyzer wrote:

But in Paths of Glory, the Allied Powers make those attacks because they want the Central Powers to spend a card for replacements instead of on attacking the Russians.


I would call this (mostly) cause as well. By mid-war, the allied attacks were
largely to do precisely what they are doing in PoG - trying to relieve
pressure on Russia.


If that were the case, there'd be no need to bake in rules mandating offensives; competent players would conduct them anyway. Any rule mandating a particular player action is essentially by definition DFE.


It IS the case though - if the game is otherwise following the
historical norm.

The scripting of mandatory offensives feels more like the designer
just throwing their hands in the air, not wanting to portray the
political reasons for some of these decisions - along the same
lines of writing victory conditions that mandate certain locations
on a tactical battlefield, without giving the players the option
to play out a broader campaign.

We're getting into the weeds of the semantics here, but I just
can't see the parameters of the scenario, which express areas
outside the decisions reflected, being DFE. Essentially, they're
just out of scope of what the game is examining, rather than giving
the player a choice which is not based upon the events portrayed.

H:RvC decides that, rather than the abstraction of the die roll,
they will give players a choice which just doesn't seem to reflect
anything in reality. Both are abstractions, but one seems baseless,
even if it provides a similar overall effect.
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Statalyzer wrote:
Design-for-effect: right results for the wrong reasons, because the "right" reasons are impossible to achieve, or undesirable to pursue because of added complexity, game length, etc.


This, but I'll give a different example.

You could do a 1940 fall of France game, where the combat effectiveness of individual Allied units is okay (as shown by their combat factors), but where you have command & control sub-systems that render the formations less effective and agile than the German units. That's design for cause (you show why things worked the way they did).

Design for effect you just give the Allied units lower combat factors. Voila, same result (in the big picture). Less rules overhead, faster playing, but less insight.
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