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Subject: Scheduled reinforcements -- dudes, I dunno if I like these rss

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Drew Heath
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So I am currently learning/playing War of Resistance and John Prados' Third Reich. They are, to be succinct, a contrast in styles!

WoR is Europa. Europa is everything from division on down to the cross-eyed guy with the bicycle and empty revolver {who is reassigned on Dec II and must immediately be removed from play and put in the Special Olympics Holding Box with his inactive side up (23a) UNLESS Xanadu has already fallen in which case he should move towards Zanzibar as quickly as possible during the next Reaction Phase (7c)}

JP3R is ETO with buckets of dice and generic, buildable units. Players have Basic Resource Points which can be spent to build, refurbish, buy operations chits, influence minor countries, and even soak off attack damage rather than retreat. At the end of the year the remaining BRPs a country has directly affect how many new BRPs it will get in the following year, and whether its economy will expand or contract. It's all really quite simple, and allows for a great variety in force dispositions and operational flow.

I really enjoy playing both. WoR for the fantastic insight into 1937~1941 China and JP3R for flat out fun ETO gaming.

BUT, the more I play the more I'm finding the ironclad reinforcement schedule of WoR rather lame.

I know there are a great many historical wargames out there that have this. Certainly Gettysburg would not be Gettysburg if X didn't arrive on Day Y and Hour Z... but at the same time, I find myself growing resentful of this Hand of God intervention.

In most cases reinforcements during a historical battle were sent (or not sent) in response to developments during that battle. If you're gaming it and your reality is not identical to historical reality, why should those units suddenly appear? The need is absent or different.

And if you're gaming it and your reality IS identical to historical reality, you're not really gaming anymore, are you?

Meh. shake
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Alex Treacher
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They're both good.

The historical simulation of accurate reinforcements lets you look that the situation of "well, unit X is arriving at 0800 tomorrow. How can I best deal with that?", whereas the open/built reinforcement option lets you take the "unit X be damned, what I think I need is a load of units Y and Z - let's see how it might have gone if that had happened" approach.

One approach will appeal to some people more than others, and some people will appreciate the merits of both. It's essentially down to, I feel, whether you want a wargame or conflict simulation. And both have their place and raison d'etre.
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Sam Carroll
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On the operational scale, I'm always interested in games where the reinforcement schedule is not ironclad. In FAB: The Bulge, for example, there's an optional rule that allows you to draw reinforcements from a cup; a unit may arrive a turn or two before or after it did historically. Sure, the 30th infantry is "supposed" to come in this turn, but they got slowed down by snow-blocked roads.
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Michael Tan
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Shad wrote:
So I am currently learning/playing War of Resistance and John Prados' Third Reich. They are, to be succinct, a contrast in styles!

WoR is Europa. Europa is everything from division on down to the cross-eyed guy with the bicycle and empty revolver {who is reassigned on Dec II and must immediately be removed from play and put in the Special Olympics Holding Box with his inactive side up (23a) UNLESS Xanadu has already fallen in which case he should move towards Zanzibar as quickly as possible during the next Reaction Phase (7c)}

JP3R is ETO with buckets of dice and generic, buildable units. Players have Basic Resource Points which can be spent to build, refurbish, buy operations chits, influence minor countries, and even soak off attack damage rather than retreat. At the end of the year the remaining BRPs a country has directly affect how many new BRPs it will get in the following year, and whether its economy will expand or contract. It's all really quite simple, and allows for a great variety in force dispositions and operational flow.

I really enjoy playing both. WoR for the fantastic insight into 1937~1941 China and JP3R for flat out fun ETO gaming.

BUT, the more I play the more I'm finding the ironclad reinforcement schedule of WoR rather lame.

I know there are a great many historical wargames out there that have this. Certainly Gettysburg would not be Gettysburg if X didn't arrive on Day Y and Hour Z... but at the same time, I find myself growing resentful of this Hand of God intervention.

In most cases reinforcements during a historical battle were sent (or not sent) in response to developments during that battle. If you're gaming it and your reality is not identical to historical reality, why should those units suddenly appear? The need is absent or different.

And if you're gaming it and your reality IS identical to historical reality, you're not really gaming anymore, are you?

Meh. shake


I almost can't play a game that has fixed reinforcements. It seems way too scripted except for anything divisional level or higher. For tactical and operational games it is OK but even then way too much information.

BTW Andrew, I'm guessing you are the guy Mark Luta is playing JP3R with over vassal. He mentioned you were looking for more players which I'd be up for some time.

Mike
 
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J.L. Robert
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It's one thing to be subject to the Hand of God.

It's entirely different to be God himself.

A front commander wouldn't have much say in the composition of his reinforcements. And the further down the chain of command, the less influence. You get what you get, when you get them, and in the quantities you get them in. Period. End of story. The end result is that a careful commander would conserve his strength, and protect his air or armored assets. Kinda like in real life.

Being able to determine the allocation of resources is the heart of any half-decent grand strategy game. If a player in a strategic game had scripted reinforcements, it would, in effect, script the offensives taken, minimizing the loss of specialty units and to allow the upcoming reinforcements to offset any losses incurred. The entire Luftwaffe will stand down this month, because we won't get any new air units until September. Now, THAT would be silly. But risks can be made, if a player is willing to spend his/her resources to replace significant losses.
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Marja Erwin
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The later Europa games do get some incredibly complicated - and fiddly- reinforcement schedules. It would be nice to find some way which incorporates the historical schedule with some easier-to-handle variability.

Now there are different kinds of variation, e.g.:

1. Any unpredictable/unexpected or out-of-theater, or out-of-player's control events. Any predictable ones can use the basic reinforcement schedule. These could be basically random.

2. Any in-game political events, such as the formation of the armies of the puppet governments. In TGW, all the events triggered by one country entering the war, by Russia trying to leave the war, etc.

3. Any in-game military events, such as one side occupying part of the other side's recruitment base.

I think that the Europa approach works well for grand-operational games like Drang Nach Osten/Fire in the East/Total War but gets to be too much for strategic games like March to Victory.

I think it makes sense to design the game around its reinforcement schedule. For example:

1. A partisan-warfare game where recruitment and army organization are important. The partisans could use random draws, untried units, or basically similar units. The partisans could have identically-rated regiments or brigades with different parent divisions, if you want multiple organizational levels, and if you want the partisans to choose which divisions to build and reinforce.

2. A generic operational game, where each side may get reinforcements but won't organize new units. Each unit can be unique in this game.

3. A game where one side is trying to overrun the other and prevent the other from mobilizing.

4. A meeting engagement where neither side knows the other side's strength, and each side secretly picks one of several orders of battle.

5. A game presenting what-ifs for a well-documented event (France 1940) or alternative interpretations of a poorly-documented event (some of my Late Roman projects).
 
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Oh my God They Banned Kenny
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In a strategic level game I tend to a agree that 'fixed' scheduled reinforcements seems to be less appropriate. The balancing consideration is that a flexible 'production' system has to be reasonably 'realistic' in order to 'work'. For example, with earlier versions of Third Reich, it was possible for Germany to use the 'base growth' such that their economy was still quite powerful right to the end of the game, rather than in a state of collapse as it was historically. The issue is that critical material bottlenecks were not factored in, so in Third Reich the German economy can go along quite well without any major supply of oil! Another interesting consideration is that few ETO games that I'm familiar with factor in the importance of supplies from the Soviets to the Geramns during the pact time period. Similarly the Japanese were crippled by the US submarine campaign, as they couldn't get the resources from the territories they had captured back to their home islands. Thus, IMHO, a 'good' production system has to involve a certain amount of complexity, to function as a reasonable 'model'.
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D T P
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deadkenny wrote:
In a strategic level game I tend to a agree that 'fixed' scheduled reinforcements seems to be less appropriate. The balancing consideration is that a flexible 'production' system has to be reasonably 'realistic' in order to 'work'. For example, with earlier versions of Third Reich, it was possible for Germany to use the 'base growth' such that their economy was still quite powerful right to the end of the game, rather than in a state of collapse as it was historically. The issue is that critical material bottlenecks were not factored in, so in Third Reich the German economy can go along quite well without any major supply of oil! Another interesting consideration is that few ETO games that I'm familiar with factor in the importance of supplies from the Soviets to the Geramns during the pact time period. Similarly the Japanese were crippled by the US submarine campaign, as they couldn't get the resources from the territories they had captured back to their home islands. Thus, IMHO, a 'good' production system has to involve a certain amount of complexity, to function as a reasonable 'model'.


Great point. Operational level games can get away with scheduled reinforcements due to their limited scope. But strategic level games just don't seem right without the ability of the players to decide for themselves what type of units and assets to build. This has always been my biggest complaint against Victory Games 'The Civil War'.

And I think Kenny gets it dead right (a little play on words) when he points out that materials and resources are a crucial aspect of making a good production system. Not just having them but getting them to the production facilities is important.

This is why I love World in Flames so much. It's not enough to have the resouces, you have to get them to the factories as well. All of the factors Kenny brings up are taken into account. The Japanese player can still control the oil fields and other resouces but submarines can sink the convoys and the Japanese may find they can't even use those resources. The same is true for oil to the German war machine. When using the oil rules the German can find he is unable to build or use crucial mechanized units if he doesn't have that oil.
 
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Leo Zappa
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Even in operational scale games, I don't really like fixed schedule reinforcements. It just give the player much more certainty than any real-life commander ever had. It allows players to "plan" for the introduction of reinforcements at just the right time, or to know for certain when the other player will receive their's. I'd rather see something to inject at least a little uncertainty into the arrival, if not the composition, of the reinforcements. Even a simple mechanism whereby perhaps the player rolls a D6 to determine if a reinforcement enters on any given turn. Perhaps a range of turns stretching a couple of turns before the historical data of arrival, to a couple of turns after, with a distribution like this...

2 turns prior to historical entry, player rolls one D6: on a roll of 1 - unit arrives now, roll of 2-6, unit remains on reinforcement track.

1 turn prior to historical entry: roll of 1,2 - unit arrives now, 3-6, unit remains on reinforcement track.

On the turn of historical entry: roll of 1-4 - unit arrives now, 5-6, unit remains on reinforcement track.

1 turn after historical entry: roll 1-4 - unit arrives now, 5-6 unit remains on track.

2 turns after historical entry - unit arrives.


I gave this all of 5 minutes of thought, but it's a start! No commander should have precise knowledge of the arrival of his or his enemy's reinforcements, at any scale of warfare!
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