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Subject: No explicit rules for combat rss

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Steve Pole

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I've been kicking around an idea with a couple of friends about a Corps scale game (probably WW1) without any orthodox rules regarding combat.

Instead, each turn units would suffer losses automatically through attrition by reference to, for example, the number of enemy units close by and their position in relation to those units, their supply status, morale (previous losses?), the season of the year, etc. I guess there would have to be an element of off-board record-keeping to track the losses accumulated by each Corps; but, if we can keep to a low counter-density this should not be too onerous.

Anyway, my questions are, (1) does anyone know of a game where a similar system has been tried which we might review; and, (2) is this a stupid idea?
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Leo Zappa
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Well, it smacks of deterministic combat resolution, which I do not like because a) from a game perspective, it removes the tension created by the element of chance, and b) from a real world perspective, no commander could ever know with certainty what losses he would both suffer and inflict as a result of those factors that you list.

Bottom line - at first blush, this is not a system that would grab my interest.
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suPUR DUEper
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Third Reich did this....

On a given turn you could choose to do attrition on a given front (instead of paying for an offensive). IIRC you would add up your strength on the front and roll a die. The result is the number of counters then enemy had to lose and the number of hexes they had to retreat from.

I would like to see something along this line.... I am getting a bit tired of hunting the map for that 2 factor unit to give me the magic 3:1.
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Bob Zurunkel
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I could see this working with some modifications. Commanders have, and had in the past, a reasonable idea of what losses they would sustain depending on posture - defense, attack, defense against heavy or light attack, etc. It shouldn't be completely predictable, though.

Edited b/c I quoted the wrong post.
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Robert Wesley
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TedW wrote:
Third Reich did this....

On a given turn you could choose to do attrition on a given front (instead of paying for an offensive). IIRC you would add up your strength on the front and roll a die. The result is the number of counters then enemy had to lose and the number of hexes they had to retreat from.

I would like to see something along this line.... I am getting a bit tired of hunting the map for that 2 factor unit to give me the magic 3:1.
They even have "Attrition Counters" for that, of them 'rectangle'-1 kind covering such.

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Johnny Wilson
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Rubenpup wrote:
I've been kicking around an idea with a couple of friends about a Corps scale game (probably WW1) without any orthodox rules regarding combat.

Instead, each turn units would suffer losses automatically through attrition by reference to, for example, the number of enemy units close by and their position in relation to those units, their supply status, morale (previous losses?), the season of the year, etc. I guess there would have to be an element of off-board record-keeping to track the losses accumulated by each Corps; but, if we can keep to a low counter-density this should not be too onerous.

Anyway, my questions are, (1) does anyone know of a game where a similar system has been tried which we might review; and, (2) is this a stupid idea?


Sounds like the way the Army War College and Rand would have handled it back in the days of Hutspiel (in the differential analyzer era). All equations in Hutspiel were deterministic based on allocations, targets, and movements.
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Robert Wesley
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You could take that: Clash of Empires; unto yet another "version" utilizing some "Combat System" you'll create.
 
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Wilbur Whateley
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Rubenpup wrote:
I've been kicking around an idea with a couple of friends about a Corps scale game (probably WW1) without any orthodox rules regarding combat.

Instead, each turn units would suffer losses automatically through attrition by reference to, for example, the number of enemy units close by and their position in relation to those units, their supply status, morale (previous losses?), the season of the year, etc. I guess there would have to be an element of off-board record-keeping to track the losses accumulated by each Corps; but, if we can keep to a low counter-density this should not be too onerous.

Anyway, my questions are, (1) does anyone know of a game where a similar system has been tried which we might review; and, (2) is this a stupid idea?


I think there are a lot of games like that, but they tend to be pre-20th century games of the operational or strategic variety. Such games often feature big stacks of units instead of front lines, and you often roll for attrition of those stacks, losing strength points. Factors influencing the roll typically include terrain (desert and swamp for example are usually bad), whether the stack is in a city or is out in the great outdoors, morale (poor morale leads to desertion), whether the stack has moved that turn and how far, time of year (winter is bad), etc. And also supply level - in the case of civilized armies, whether they had a supply train with them or not. Less organized armies had to forage off the land and could be hard hit by being in a nonproductive area, or one that had already been pillaged. These factors are typically die roll modifiers on a table where you roll a die, look up how many strength points are in the stack, and see how many losses you take.

Imperium Romanum II for example had you actually keep track of whether you were in a "civilized" province or not, and also whether the province had roads or not, based on the year of the scenario. These things could affect attrition of armies.

There are a lot of games that have you roll for "march attrition" where the armies are moving but often they cover smaller time scales. What you want is one with a larger time scale that includes all seasons of the year, the effect of previous pillaging of the area you are in, etc that show all the effects that can hit an army that is just sitting still. Games featuring sieges often have this since it is all about gradual attrition for both sides.

To pick one example out of countless ones, Joe Miranda's Ancient Wars series games have Supply Tables where time of year, pillage status of the hex, size of the force, terrain, involvement with a siege etc affect attrition losses.
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Bob Zurunkel
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chuft wrote:
Rubenpup wrote:
I've been kicking around an idea with a couple of friends about a Corps scale game (probably WW1) without any orthodox rules regarding combat.

Instead, each turn units would suffer losses automatically through attrition by reference to, for example, the number of enemy units close by and their position in relation to those units, their supply status, morale (previous losses?), the season of the year, etc. I guess there would have to be an element of off-board record-keeping to track the losses accumulated by each Corps; but, if we can keep to a low counter-density this should not be too onerous.

Anyway, my questions are, (1) does anyone know of a game where a similar system has been tried which we might review; and, (2) is this a stupid idea?


I think there are a lot of games like that, but they tend to be pre-20th century games of the operational or strategic variety. Such games often feature big stacks of units instead of front lines, and you often roll for attrition of those stacks, losing strength points. Factors influencing the roll typically include terrain (desert and swamp for example are usually bad), whether the stack is in a city or is out in the great outdoors, morale (poor morale leads to desertion), whether the stack has moved that turn and how far, time of year (winter is bad), etc. And also supply level - in the case of civilized armies, whether they had a supply train with them or not. Less organized armies had to forage off the land and could be hard hit by being in a nonproductive area, or one that had already been pillaged. These factors are typically die roll modifiers on a table where you roll a die, look up how many strength points are in the stack, and see how many losses you take.

Imperium Romanum II for example had you actually keep track of whether you were in a "civilized" province or not, and also whether the province had roads or not, based on the year of the scenario. These things could affect attrition of armies.

There are a lot of games that have you roll for "march attrition" where the armies are moving but often they cover smaller time scales. What you want is one with a larger time scale that includes all seasons of the year, the effect of previous pillaging of the area you are in, etc that show all the effects that can hit an army that is just sitting still. Games featuring sieges often have this since it is all about gradual attrition for both sides.

To pick one example out of countless ones, Joe Miranda's Ancient Wars series games have Supply Tables where time of year, pillage status of the hex, size of the force, terrain, involvement with a siege etc affect attrition losses.


Off topic, I suppose, but prior to WWI there were more casualties caused by illness/disease in war than by enemy action. Any games account for this? I'm sure there must be.
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Robert Wesley
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"Stragglers" within that "Fury in the West" and theirs the KINDS of that in "Grand Imperialism", of which 'cards' could prevent certain ones.
 
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Robert Stuart
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It could work but, as they say, "the devil is in the details". You would have to find a way in which superior strategy would win the game. Virtually any combat system would work provided the game itself is a good combination of challenging and 'realistic'.

The important thing, I think, would be to plan the game first, with what effect you want to simulate and what you want to achieve foremost in your mind, and then devise a combat mechanism that would work for the game.
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Ryan Keane
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It could definitely work. However, the usefulness would be in how clear the end result is to the players. Taking a deterministic result but burying it beneath a multitude of modifiers to try to obfuscate it and make it feel non-deterministic is not a good idea IMO.

Many non-wargames, like Chess, Imperial, and Small World, use deterministic combat to allow the players to focus on the other more important aspects of the game.
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suPUR DUEper
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Ryan Keane wrote:
It could definitely work. However, the usefulness would be in how clear the end result is to the players. Taking a deterministic result but burying it beneath a multitude of modifiers to try to obfuscate it and make it feel non-deterministic is not a good idea IMO.


I would welcome a game where I could stay high level and make command decisions (e.g. "Unit X, I need you to take town Y. Asset Z will will provide fire support with unit A in reserve.") instead of having to play an officer two ranks below me and move a bunch of units across the hex grid.
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Mike Szarka
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No Retreat 4! Italian Front: 1943-45 also has an attrition system (optional rules, but recommended by the designer).
 
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brant G
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TedW wrote:
Ryan Keane wrote:
It could definitely work. However, the usefulness would be in how clear the end result is to the players. Taking a deterministic result but burying it beneath a multitude of modifiers to try to obfuscate it and make it feel non-deterministic is not a good idea IMO.


I would welcome a game where I could stay high level and make command decisions (e.g. "Unit X, I need you to take town Y. Asset Z will will provide fire support with unit A in reserve.") instead of having to play an officer two ranks below me and move a bunch of units across the hex grid.


Command Post Wargaming at Origins is calling your name!
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Steve Hope
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Rubenpup wrote:
I've been kicking around an idea with a couple of friends about a Corps scale game (probably WW1) without any orthodox rules regarding combat.

Instead, each turn units would suffer losses automatically through attrition by reference to, for example, the number of enemy units close by and their position in relation to those units, their supply status, morale (previous losses?), the season of the year, etc. I guess there would have to be an element of off-board record-keeping to track the losses accumulated by each Corps; but, if we can keep to a low counter-density this should not be too onerous.

Anyway, my questions are, (1) does anyone know of a game where a similar system has been tried which we might review; and, (2) is this a stupid idea?


Honestly, I think this is a terrible idea. As you say, you would have to have almost no units to make it feasible to conduct these calculations, and then you'd be trying to make an interesting game out of how all these units had to be positioned so the modifiers would work right, and then you'd have tons of bookkeeping to show gradual attrition on units, etc...just seems like a worse mousetrap to me. I think you'd spend a ton of brainpower to get to a situation which roughly approximated off-the-shelf combat/loss results with way more rules overhead and way more bookkeeping.
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Maxim Steshenko
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Rubenpup wrote:
Instead, each turn units would suffer losses automatically through attrition by reference to, for example, the number of enemy units close by and their position in relation to those units, their supply status, morale (previous losses?), the season of the year, etc.

Wait, you mean like when a group of stones is surrounded and has no eyes, it's dead and should be removed from a board?
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