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Subject: Best use of hidden movement in a wargame? rss

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Colin Sykes
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Can anyone give me some good examples of hidden movement in wargames - i.e. where you don't know where opposing units are, not just what they are (in e.g. block games like Europe Engulfed).

How did the mechanic work? How did the player with the hidden units record their position, etc? What happened when they moved/fired etc? How did the other player 'spot' them?

Thanks
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Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! – Russia 1941-42 does it.

Units are "placed" in hexes which are labeled with letters/numbers.

One way of keeping track of them is simply writing down what units are in what hexes. Since the map board images are available from the designer, people also print those, laminate them and keep track of hidden units by marking them on the map.

Units in the clear are revealed if an enemy is within two hexes. Otherwise they are revealed when an enemy enters their hex. Also, you can fire at an empty hex; if there are enemy units in there, they are revealed if they are hit.

CoH uses and Action Point system. If you use a certain number of action points, you can move the hidden unit without revealing it. Also, you can hide a unit by "placing" it in a nearby hex.

It works pretty well. I've been surprised before when a unit popped up in a hex and I had either forgotten about it or not expected it to be where it was. (I've also blundered into hidden units in spots that were pretty obvious hexes to hide them!)
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Elwyn Darden
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There is a limited hidden movement rule in Druid: Boudicca's Rebellion, 61 A.D.. The Britons can have a few forces disappear in the forests. When they do the units are replaced by a hidden forces marker that goes on the forest, but the Briton is required to track the location by hex off-map.

As the Roman player it was discouraging to see beaten forces, that no doubt would be annihilated in another combat disappear from view. You get a point for killing half a tribe, and a bunch more for finishing the job. It also requires the dispersion of forces to go hunting from them further and further away from the road. Needless to say the high-point of Roman strategy is to get killer-stacks cruising up and down the roads.

Fortunately for me my opponent went guerilla and sacked a Roman camp. His modest victory point gain allowed me to locate and kill one of his hidden forces. On the other hand his action induced me to garrison one other camp (more valuable to me for supplies than for its VP potential for the Britons).

The limited number of hidden forces means that it isn't a burden on the game, while still giving the Romans a number of headaches just as the endgame should be coming into focus.
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Fabio Calzolari
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Starship Troopers (1976 version) have a system where the Arachnid player draw underground galleries and place his beasts hidden.
It is not so hard, but requires a lot of rules reading before start the play.
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I always liked Ice War. Not only does the player write down in secret where the units are, but also the units selected are in secret.
 
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James Palmer
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I also like how Conflict of Heroes does hidden units.

In 1805: Sea of Glory, it uses the block mechanic, except some blocks are literally nothing - in a sense they're false rumours of where units are going. So you end up moving more blocks around than you actually have. So your opponent knows all possible places your units could be, but some of those places won't have units at all.
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Darrell Hanning
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I take it you mean "hidden units", as "hidden movement" doesn't always mean hidden units. It can mean movement that is pre-plotted, with no reaction available until after all units have reached their destinations (as in SPI's StarForce 'Alpha Centauri': Interstellar Conflict in the 25th Century).

Hidden units are rather easy to handle, so long as only one player has them. One player keeps a log showing where the hidden units are, and updates it as movement is conducted.

The first instance of this I saw was AH's U-Boat (1959). (This game also used hidden movement.)

Perhaps the best, early example, though, is AH's Midway, wherein each player has a copy of the overall game map, and uses search planes to announce hexes where they're looking for the other player's forces.

As you may guess, this doesn't work so well for ground conflict. In the mid-eighties, GDW flirted with a dual-map system for double-blind ground conflict, with 8th Army: Operation Crusader and 2 other titles, in which two maps were used, and generic markers were placed to show enemy "front lines" - not the specific locations for enemy units, but the physical extent of the enemy forces as last known. However, the more fluid the front lines are, and the less contiguous ones forces end up being, the less effective this solution is, and the more problematic its maintenance during execution.

Any dual-map system involving only the two players, though, is going to be susceptible to a referential error, which can easily invalidate the entire game. Also, it relies largely on the honor system, and even then only comes somewhat close to what can be done once a third party is involved. This is called "true double-blind", and usually involves at least 3 instances of the map - one for each side, and one for the referee. Each player reports his disposition and moves to the referee, who then plots both players' forces on the "master" map, and announces to each player what he can see of the enemy. This is very time-consuming and cumbersome, particularly if everything has to be in the same physical location at the same time. However, it became a lot easier to handle with the advent of the internet and email.

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Elwyn Darden
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The Normandy Campaign is one of three double-blind games that GDW published in early 80's. The system called for duplicate maps, with both players maintaining a front-line on their half of the map sheet. As you move forward into a hex you call out the hex ID and both players adjust their fronts. All movement behind your line is invisible to the enemy. Combat is in-hex, so you have no knowledge of whether your lines are being penetrated by a motorized AT battery or by a Panzer Division until there contact. There is an option to probe a hex rather than leap in with guns a-blazing.

I would have expected the double-blind system to be at its best in either 8th Army: Operation Crusader or Operation Market Garden but there seemed to be too much information in Crusader and too few options in Market Garden for my taste.

In Normandy Campaign the fact that the front is more-or-less continuous means that when you are looking at those front line hexes they all look menacing. You are happily shuffling your units behind your line to take your opponent by surprise, and then suddenly, sullenly, you become aware that your opponent is doing the same.

Double-blind only works well with comparatively small games. These three are right-sized for the mechanic and move better than you would expect. The biggest problem is when one player gets his "front" wrong; a problem that simply cannot exist on a common map.
 
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what about the double blind system of movement in Flat Top.


-M
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Colin Sykes
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DarrellKH wrote:
I take it you mean "hidden units", as "hidden movement" doesn't always mean hidden units. It can mean movement that is pre-plotted, with no reaction available until after all units have reached their destinations (as in SPI's StarForce 'Alpha Centauri': Interstellar Conflict in the 25th Century).


Yes, then I mean "hidden units".

I am particularly interested in examples where only one side has hidden units. Is there a way to do this on a single shared map?
 
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Jeff Thompson
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Civil War Brigade Series has optional rules for this type of movement.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Civil_War_Brigade_(CW...#
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Michael Lucey
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How about MMP's Rage Against the Marines?

Iwo Jima: Rage Against the Marines

They use a 2nd map for IJA movement and the main map only has revealed units. The US cannot see placement, movement nor damage results on hidden units until revealed by IJA action.



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Mike Windsor
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One of the few advantages that computer games have over board games is the implementation of hidden movement. Most boardgames (a) only have hidden set up for some units, not true hidden movement, (b) require a lot of record keeping for hidden movement, or (c) require a referee for hidden movement. And, hidden movement doesn't work solitaire unless the game is designed for solitaire play.
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one of the first games to use hidden movement was a gem from Avalon Hill named Midway. Could be called an advanced version of the popular game Battleship but with ship movement and tactical fighting. There is a screen between the players and movement is hidden. Each ship is represented by a small chit which can move around on the map. A big part of the game is searching for the other player's fleets. You get a certain number of searches each turn for your recon planes, and you can always search the square you are in, but by adding to the number of searches that you call out, you reveal that you have ships in at least one of the areas. When you find them you can launch an air strike, but sending your planes forces you to reveal the location where they came from. When a group of ships is attacked by other ships or planes combat is resolved on a separate battleboard. There are a 2nd set of larger counters for the ships which are used on the battleboard.
 
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David Bohnenberger
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A lot of naval games use this, especially those featuring carrier battles. I've sometimes described Midway as "advanced battleship", since you call out the numbers of spaces in which you are searching.

There's also the whole line of naval games from Avalanche, beginning with Great War at Sea: The Mediterranean
 
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BrouHaHa wrote:
DarrellKH wrote:
I take it you mean "hidden units", as "hidden movement" doesn't always mean hidden units. It can mean movement that is pre-plotted, with no reaction available until after all units have reached their destinations (as in SPI's StarForce 'Alpha Centauri': Interstellar Conflict in the 25th Century).


Yes, then I mean "hidden units".

I am particularly interested in examples where only one side has hidden units. Is there a way to do this on a single shared map?



Advanced Squad Leader does this. You start a scenario with a certain number of concealment counters and you can stack this on top of your units or make dummy stacks with just concealment counters and no actual units. When units move, fire or take damage, they are forced to reveal themselves. However given the short span of time that the scenarios represent, once they are revealed they stay revealed.



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p55carroll
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Well, I'm finding this thread useful: it's naming a lot of games I want to make a point of avoiding! yuk

Btw, for the OP's benefit: what you're talking about is sometimes called "fog of war" (abbreviated FOW) among wargamers. The idea is that there's hidden enemy stuff out there, and you have to scout around to discover it (or else risk running into it accidentally and being ambushed).

Many people believe FOW adds a lot of realism to wargames. Sometimes I suppose it does. After all, there are many instances in military history where commanders were "running blind," and it's always a good idea to deceive your enemy if you can.

But personally, I've never liked FOW. In both wargames and non-wargames, hidden information goes against my grain.

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Harald Torvatn
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BrouHaHa wrote:
Can anyone give me some good examples of hidden movement in wargames - i.e. where you don't know where opposing units are, not just what they are (in e.g. block games like Europe Engulfed).

How did the mechanic work? How did the player with the hidden units record their position, etc? What happened when they moved/fired etc? How did the other player 'spot' them?

Thanks


Some early GMT games (among them Operation Shoestring- The Guadalcanal Campiagn, designed by Gene Billingsey) has a very elegant system for this: One player (the japanese)has a number (about 20) markers, each labeled, and each having a corresponding holding box on a sheet of paper. Units in the same hex as a marker may be placed in the markers box, instead of on the map.

The Japanese player can place the markers in any way he likes, and moves them as he want, except that markers with units in their boxes may only move as and when the units in their boxes may move.

The Japanes player mainly places the markers dotted all over the map, with exactly the distance between them that a unit can move one movement phase.

In a movement phase, units which moves from one marker to another just moves between the boxes, never apperaing on the map. Thus the japanese player may move all his forces to one part of the map, without the americans seeing a single unit. But the americans may find out what is in a markers box. If they attack, try to enter or (successfully) recconaisances the hex, the contetnts of the box will appare on the map.

This is a very powerful system. There are very little work are neccesary, recconnisance is possible, and the japanese may plan and execute powerful concentrations of forces. And the americans can find out.

It probably only work in games with low unit densities.
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Maybe not quite what you're looking for, but Quebec 1759 has blank blocks that are decoys. This works really well as it adds another layer to the block "fog of war" because the blocks on the board may not in fact contain troops.
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If you enjoy the Napoleonic era, OSG games all have a type of hidden movement and forces. In the Campaigns of Napoleon series, the units are basically Corps, with attached divisions/brigades. Each player has an off-map display where the make-up of the Corps themselves are listed, while the map shows only the Corp Leader counter, which is placed face-down (just the nation’s flag....French or Allied). This results in rather low unit density on the map itself.

The games also include veddettes which are basically battalion sized cavalry screens that add to the on-map Fog of War. Once battle is declared (i.e. the units are next to each other.). You then find out what you are facing.

In addition, you must make a "Command-roll" or spend points for each unit to move and the other player does not know the result; so you should roll for both (Cav screens and the actual units).

The other games in the “Days” series and NLB/4LB system also have hidden units, but they do not have off-map displays due to their scale.

-Jason
 
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Midway and Submarine both use hidden movement in a good way while Autumn of Glory features dummy counters that obstruct your knowledge of the enemy's strength and intentions.
 
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It's not an historical wargame, but I like the way War of the Ring handles the ringbearer's movement. IIRC, the bad guys have the last known location of Frodo, and the distance moved since then. But that's all.
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Some games from the Panzergruppe Guderian lineage have a limited aspect, with 0-factor "dummy" counters mixed with the force pool.

In these games, the aggressor can then mass up troops on a unit, only to find a 0-strength dummy marker slowing them down. Or a screening force may find themselves up against a major unit defending.
 
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Colin Sykes
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
Well, I'm finding this thread useful: it's naming a lot of games I want to make a point of avoiding! yuk

Btw, for the OP's benefit: what you're talking about is sometimes called "fog of war" (abbreviated FOW) among wargamers. The idea is that there's hidden enemy stuff out there, and you have to scout around to discover it (or else risk running into it accidentally and being ambushed).

Many people believe FOW adds a lot of realism to wargames. Sometimes I suppose it does. After all, there are many instances in military history where commanders were "running blind," and it's always a good idea to deceive your enemy if you can.

But personally, I've never liked FOW. In both wargames and non-wargames, hidden information goes against my grain.



Thanks. I was trying to differentiate the question a little from what seems to be the most popular FOW method in recent years, used in many block games.
 
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Colin Sykes
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Kingdaddy wrote:
It's not an historical wargame, but I like the way War of the Ring handles the ringbearer's movement. IIRC, the bad guys have the last known location of Frodo, and the distance moved since then. But that's all.


Thanks. I really like this method too. Has it been used in any other games?
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