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Subject: Wargaming Ultra's impact on WW2 rss

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Dan Owsen
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Any opinions on wargames that might do a good job of simulating Ultra's impact on the course of WW2? I think it's an interesting area, and a few games I've played have a token nod to it, but it seems like it was a huge advantage for the Allies to read the Axis codes.
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Geoffrey Engelstein
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Take a look at Bodyguard Overlord. The whole focus of the game is on managing intelligence and trying to mislead your opponent.

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Clark Rodeffer
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Silent War comes to mind for the PTO, and I presume the sequel, Steel Wolves: The German Submarine Campaign Against Allied Shipping – Vol 1 will also include code breaking / message interception information as part of the consim.
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Bill Lawson
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Pacific War simulates Americas breaking of the Japanese Naval codes.
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Dan Owsen
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Thanks for the suggestions. A few games to add to my wishlist!

Bodyguard Overlord looks like it might be the kind of thing I was looking for.
 
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Mark Luta
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Asia Engulfed has a really nice mechanic to simulate the American breaking of Japanese naval codes.

One difficulty with simulating this code-breaking, a similar difficulty to many well-kept secrets, is the players actually know the codes are broken, and so will plan accordingly. It seems incredible to me neither the Germans nor Japanese ever seemed to suspect the Americans had broken their codes, despite some quite 'fortuitous' decisions and 'chance finding' of enemy units. In fairness, the Americans did take great pains to try to keep it from being obvious they were reading the enemy transmissions, there are a number of cases where signal intelligence was not distributed precisely because overuse would have made it more likely the enemy would figure out why American commanders had such good information. Still, such a prescient American move to the Midway waters ought to have raised some concerns...

There are a few other significant signals intercept situations during WWII. Rommel was getting intercepts from the American Consulate in Egypt transmitting British military information back to Washington. This allowed him to appear even more a genius than he was in choosing where and when to attack. On an even more primitive bit of intel collecting, the Germans were preparing for a parade for the units to man the Westwall in 1939, and the British military attache was invited to take a walk on the square the evening before, following a practice--where he was able to see chalk lines on the ground, complete with the numbers of each formation participating. And the German Navy was as careless with HF radio transmissions in WWII as they had been in WWI, for some reason they do not seem to have really comprehended the capabilities of radio direction finding equipment--even though their submarines used the technique in reverse for navigation based on shore transmitters.
 
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Dan Owsen
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Mark, your points are exactly why I am interested in seeing if there are simulations that try to model the situation where the Americans and British have information of Axis plans. How big a factor was this in the war? I've read a bit about it a bit, and it seems like it would be a HUGE advantage, but something that is just too difficult to simulate without a double blind game and a referee. I've been lucky enough to participate in several such limited intelligence campaign games in various settings and it definitely adds to the realism of the game, but obviously it's difficult to set up and run such a game.

For certain scale games, it seems like you could have an event that would allow moving additional forces to the scene of an attack after the attack is declared. Maybe you could give one of the players a limited number of times they could use this to simulate the caution the planners used in handling this intelligence.
 
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Mark Luta
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The ability to on occasion, view the Japanese naval forces operating in an area, and also send reaction forces from more distant bases than usual, PLUS the Allied fleet so reacting is given a much greater chance of achieving surprise and essentially cannot be surprised then, is exactly how this code-breaking is simulated in Asia Engulfed. It is one of the more clever applications of the huge advantages gained by the Allies for their efforts breaking the codes I have ever seen.

I would also note that perhaps the intelligence advantages of the Allies are somewhat represented in a 'perfect information' (i.e., all counters are visible) game such as Third Reich, as it is probably not that much of an advantage in the early war for Germany to know exactly where the Soviet forces are, as they are going to win there anyway, the question is by how much. But later in the war, it is a tremendous advantage for the Allies to know exactly where all Axis units are, since once they go on the offensive, they will be able to choose where and when to attack against the enemy deployment.

But actually being able to use intelligence to directly affect battles and campaigns is I think a worthy consideration, as you point out. And so I hope the trend of adding this aspect to WWII games continues.
 
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Michael Tan
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Mark,

It was good to see you at the con. Now a shameless plug for Sturm Europa!:

I employ events on strategy cards to depict the effects of ULTRA and other code breaking and intelligence gathering efforts. Both players can build "decoy" blocks to increase the fog of war as compared to a standard block game. The Soviets have a Red Orchestra event that allows them to remove all the Axis decoy blocks. The Allies can play the ULTRA event AFTER the Axis player declares his attacks. This allows him to immediately move in reinforcements from adjacent territories and entrench any units already in the territory. All of a sudden an Axis offensive like Rommel's attack on El Alamein can grind to a halt because of code breaking...
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Dan Owsen
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Michael, your game looks pretty interesting. I will have to check it out some time. I've only ever played one block game (East Front) and it didn't seem like my cup of tea at the time. However, one playing isn't a fair shake and I haven't given up on blocks.

I also recently acquired Bodyguard Overlord and it seems to have some interesting things in it. I need to take a closer look.
 
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Mircea Pauca
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Simplest and most effective Ultra is in Victory in the Pacific. Allies decide after Japan at each stage: patrols, air deployment, amphibious attempts, raids. It gives a major advantage, effectively multiplying US forces by the many 'shadows' that may appear in the most favorable place.

Don't know a good sim of this in land warfare...
 
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Mark Luta
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ROMagister wrote:
Simplest and most effective Ultra is in Victory in the Pacific. Allies decide after Japan at each stage: patrols, air deployment, amphibious attempts, raids. It gives a major advantage, effectively multiplying US forces by the many 'shadows' that may appear in the most favorable place.

Don't know a good sim of this in land warfare...


But really, that is not a good simulation of the code-breaking. As noted in previous posts, the Allied High Commands specifically denied such intelligence to Theater Commanders more often than not, specifically to hide the fact the codes were broken. Had the US and British Empire forces always been at the best deployment locations, it would not have taken long for the enemy to figure out that was not coincidental.

My similar point about games such as 'Third Reich' was a little different, come late war, the Western Allies are faced with the decision of where and when to invade Europe, and so their knowledge of German deployment in France vs. the Balkans, for example, is more useful than the Germans knowing the USSR deployment in 1941. So this could be a crude benefit of code-breaking--once the invasion occurs, units are in contact and presumably most intel is obtained at the front from recon. But a system where, say, the Allies always committed air after the Axis would be simply too severe--and anyway, I hope newer wargames continue with better and more specific simulations of code-breaking advantages.
 
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