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Subject: A heretical idea? rss

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Christian Marcussen
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Hi.

I had an idea. I think it may be a heretical idea, but I would like to know what you think.

I have been thinking a lot about tactical warfare – in any period really. And one of the things in wargames that not only do you have perfect information about unit positions, but also on your own unit capabilities. For instance imagine an ancient battlefield. You send forward your cavalry, and you know that the archers will get to fire once at your cavalry – something you are willing to risk.

Well, imagine that instead on your units having a movement allowance that you can count on, they rather have an approximate move allowance (for instance determined in part by a die roll).
Fainted yet? If you are still with me, then try imagine how it would allow for some more dynamic game play. You know how your cavalry can move 4-8 spaces, but you don’t know exactly how far they will move. So in turn you send forward your cavalry but there is a chance that they will get fired upon twice! So the goal I would liek to acheive is that you as a commander can give the orders you wan't, but you can't be sure of how effectively they are carried out. Its kind of the same thing that M44 and CC does with it's cards, but I feel this may simulate "reality" better.

Now all the examples here are purely explanatory – to give you an idea of where my mind is at. Does it sound completely crazy?
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Russ Williams
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If it's heretical, it's certainly not a new heresy, and has appeared in various forms in quite respected wargames (despite the old canard that "wargames never roll for movement points")...

E.g. the system in the Stonewall Jackson's Way series (from the early 1990s) rolled dice for individual movement points. And the more recent design Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! – Russia 1941-42 has (optional) rules about rolling dice for action points (which can effectively be used allocated as additional movement).

Similarly, there were various old wargames in which you didn't even know the strength of your units until they first fought, then you flipped them over to see their combat strength. (If memory serves, this was used in various SPI wargames e.g. Invasion: America and Panzergruppe Guderian.)
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Miikka Rytty
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A similar system is in Great Campaigns of American Civil War-series. It's operational, not tactical, but you might want to check it out. It works very well.
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Pelle Nilsson
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Not crazy, but maybe difficult to implement in practice without rolling a lot of dice?

In this old thread I suggested a system of possible hits in wargames, so that neither player would be sure what units are still in good shape and which ones have been almost eliminated, partly to simulate the big problems in some battles of keeping track of ones own units. That is perhaps also something to consider?
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Christian Marcussen
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Thanks Russ... Yeah, I was not suggesting I had come up with something unheard of (although I never seen it).

The mechanic in Conflict of Heroes where you can add some points is slightly different from what I had in mind. What I wanted to acheive is the feeling you get when you give the order to charge only to see the charge go slightly slower (or faster) than anticipated... In fact something like the mechanic I have heard described for Wallace's Napoleon game, but instead for individual units.

I'm thinking it could be pretty bad ass. Especially if you add something like cards, or leadership, or something which can give you slightly larger control at certain pivotal points in the battle.
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David Bohnenberger
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Works this way in Clash of Giants too. I don't know if I've seen it in a strictly "tactical" game, though.
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Darrell Pavitt
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This concept has been used several times, usually at the operational level. Some examples are the Great Campaigns of the ACW series and many Napoleonic games.

In tactical level games, it is more usual to keep movement rates constant but make command a larger factor, either by using random activation by chit draw, die rolls to see if they are in command or some similar restriction.

The main problem at a tactical level is that, say, a group of horses charging across a flat plain are always going to take about the same length of time to cross it. What is going to change is when they start their charge and the presence or absence of the enemy. Thus, if two charging cavalry units start along side each other, it is unlikely that one will take twice as long to get to the enemy as the other, all other things being equal.

The other, minor, problem is that it will need a lot of die rolls!

Edit it must have taken a long tme to post this, as there were no replies when I started surprise
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Christian Marcussen
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nyhotep wrote:
This concept has been used several times, usually at the operational level. Some examples are the Great Campaigns of the ACW series and many Napoleonic games.

In tactical level games, it is more usual to keep movement rates constant but make command a larger factor, either by using random activation by chit draw, die rolls to see if they are in command or some similar restriction.

The main problem at a tactical level is that, say, a group of horses charging across a flat plain are always going to take about the same length of time to cross it. What is going to change is when they start their charge and the presence or absence of the enemy. Thus, if two charging cavalry units start along side each other, it is unlikely that one will take twice as long to get to the enemy as the other, all other things being equal.

The other, minor, problem is that it will need a lot of die rolls!

Edit it must have taken a long tme to post this, as there were no replies when I started surprise


Yeah, the die rolls would have to go. Some other system would have to be devised. I see your point about too groups of cavalry being the same speed. But if we start by keeping that out of the equation, the "faster or slower" mechanic would represent how the commander may misjudge things, rather than the horses actually running at a slower rate.

But that still leaves the problem of two cavalry groups side by side, running at different speeds. But I'm sure that can be sorted in some way. Or perhaps, if the differences in speed aren't ridiculous it might still be within the realm of "real".
 
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Alex Milner
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Re: An heretical idea?
A similar concept is the way (battalion) orders are treated in the Gamers TCS series (and also orders in its two Civil War series). The basic idea is that the overall commander (ie the player) issues orders to various units, but does not know when (or if) the order will be implemented. All sorts of potential craziness can ensue: such as an order to attack being delayed until a later time when the enemy dispositions are quite different (ie relocated, reinforced, carrying out an attack somewhere else etc). The nice thing about those systems is the way uncertainty (and fun) is brought into the game, but without a myriad of dice rolls.
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David Winter
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The miniatures game Field of Glory uses a dice roll to add a variable distance to units that charge or flee.

It's a great way of adding a little uncertainty to game that allows distances to be measured at any time.
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It's a nice idea, but I think it's unnecessary, because it's easier to meddle with time scale to represent that. What I mean is, a variable movement allowance per turn introduces uncertainity as to how fat can the unit go in a finite, defined timespan, which must be fixed so that the system makes sense. However, the same uncertainity can be introduced by making turn length variable. That is easier to handle, I think; DBA or Commands & Colors: Ancients are examples of very simple implementations of the idea that, while you know what your units can do in a turn, you can't know in advance how many units will be active.

That system also has its problems, so a system making good use of variable movement/combat intensity is a good alternative.
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Christian Marcussen
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Quote:
However, the same uncertainity can be introduced by making turn length variable. That is easier to handle, I think; DBA or Commands & Colors: Ancients are examples of very simple implementations of the idea that, while you know what your units can do in a turn, you can't know in advance how many units will be active.


Yep, I see your point. However you don't acheive the same things. There is a huge difference between not moving the units you wanted to, and moving them (perhaps to a compromised position) without being able to use them effectively.
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Mark Buetow
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There is a very good implementation of this idea here: Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles

In this game, units have a morale rating which is reduced as the unit takes hits. Before it attempts ANY action, it must roll against it's morale to see whether it bravely goes forth or stays cowering where it is. Each turn, the unit regains morale as it gets its confidence back.

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Wendell
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I always figured the uncertainties of war - how capable REALLY is the 4th Brigade? - were in part subsumed into the CRT. Enter a combat with a 5 in 6 chance of winning and rolled a '1' and lost? Maybe not as good as you thought.

edit: typo
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George Haberberger
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I'm not up to ASL SK 3 yet, but I recall that SL had breakdown rolls for AFVs that moved at their maximum speed.
 
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Russ Williams
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wifwendell wrote:
I always figured the uncertainties of war - how capable REALLY is the 4th Brigade? - were in part subsumed into the CRT. Enter a combat with a 5 in 6 chance of winning and rolled a '1' and lost? Maybe not as good as you thought.

Sure, but it seems to me that that's only one part of the many various uncertainties of war. (In this case, how well does this unit fight in combat... which is a different question from how quickly can this unit move to its destination...)
 
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Jason Fritz
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dedindahed wrote:
The miniatures game Field of Glory uses a dice roll to add a variable distance to units that charge or flee.

It's a great way of adding a little uncertainty to game that allows distances to be measured at any time.


I like this concept. You move your units the normal distance during maneuver, by for "high-stress" situations you can roll to see if they pursue faster or slower. I would like to see the Variable Move Distance used in more games for breakthroughs and assaults.
 
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David Janik-Jones
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Also along the lines of what Victor has said re: time scale instead of movement. But instead of time or movement distance, why not player initiative (turns in standard games)?

This is one of the reasons (my obsession of getting rid of hex-based movement being another) I'm exploring the CrossFire miniatures rules.

Arty Conliffe's fine-tuning of a "movement" or "turn" system based on the player having initiative to move or act as long as he retains it (that is, until he fails to complete an action he is undertaking) would also add that level of uncertainty to your tactical game, wouldn't it?

Or maybe this is simply my own obsession trying to weld these type of mechanics onto what are almost perfect games anyways?
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Wendell
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russ wrote:
wifwendell wrote:
I always figured the uncertainties of war - how capable REALLY is the 4th Brigade? - were in part subsumed into the CRT. Enter a combat with a 5 in 6 chance of winning and rolled a '1' and lost? Maybe not as good as you thought.

Sure, but it seems to me that that's only one part of the many various uncertainties of war. (In this case, how well does this unit fight in combat... which is a different question from how quickly can this unit move to its destination...)


Sure - I don't necessarily think that not having absolute certainty in how far a unit is going to move on a given turn is a bad idea at all, as the OP suggested.
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Hunga Dunga
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I think the real issue is, can a designer come up with a mechanism to take these situations into account without detracting from gameplay?

There are already a couple of well-used mechanisms that take this into account: rolling a die to see if the given unit has the morale to even get a charge started, and, as already mentioned, a roll of the die to against a CRT to see how effective that charge is (as well as die rolls to see if the defender can form square!).

I don't think I've ever heard of a cavalry charge where the unit stops halfway and says, "Shit, I don't know about this." Once a charge starts, it's pretty unstoppable, unless met by, say, opposing lancers. Some really good designs use the fact that cavalry charges are virtually unstoppable to get the charging player into some sticky situations, even if the initial charge is succesful (Berg's Triumph & Glory: Battles of the Napoleonic Wars 1796-1809, for example).

[Caution:gross generalization follows] I think that wargamers who gravitate to tactical games feel that something is left out in strategic games - they want to get involved in what happens "between the hexes". But even in those games, moving units from hex to hex involves some abstraction. So I think your idea is interesting, but I'm not sure it adds anything substantial to the game.
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Christian Marcussen
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Quote:
I don't think I've ever heard of a cavalry charge where the unit stops halfway and says, "Shit, I don't know about this." Once a charge starts, it's pretty unstoppable, unless met by, say, opposing lancers


I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I meant that the Cavalry just stops. Rather the "stopping" mid battlefield is supposed to indicate that the opposing force has unexpected time to react.On the charging players next turn he can then continue his charge, or stop it with certain penalties/difficulty.

But perhaps a simple mechanism for intervention would be more prudent. But I'm not sure...

Thinking.

Quote:
So I think your idea is interesting, but I'm not sure it adds anything substantial to the game.


You are possibly right. And in which case I would always kill the idea. But it seems to me that in principle it would add something But as I said, tehre are perhaps simpler ways to achieve the same thing-
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Tom
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There are several miniature games including variations of DBA that do this. In the game I watched a player rolled the dice and got to move and or fire that many units in their region (it was a six player game). It turned out that one player kept rolling 1s and 2s so very few of his troops moved each turn.

My only complaint in playing those games is that a unit can be stuck for much of the game unable to move (although there is certainly historical precedent for this). You might allow a minimum movement and then variable points that can be spent on extra movement.

Certainly not heresy and well within the rules of replicating the unknown that occurs in battles in an abstract fashion.
 
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N.D. Tepe
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Its a good idea, but I think you need to decide exactly what you are trying to model first. Additionally, I think the time scale and distance scale would directly affect how this mechanic would work.

Lets take your "cavalry charging archers" scenario. You want to model that the enemy archers will be able to fire one volley and possibly a second volley (due to the difficutly of judging the distance between the forces, speed of the charge, quality/reaction of the archers). Lets say that due to your ground and time scale, your cavalry move 6 hexes and they are 5 hexes from being able to engage the archers. Write in your rules that when an archer unit gets charged, they always fire one volley and may fire a second volley if they roll equal to or under their quality rating (so the higher quality archers would have a higher probability of getting that second volley, you'd then have to justify your archers of varying quality).

OR

Maybe archers always fire one volley for units that charge them. If the charging unit starts their charge from greater than 3 hexes away (or 4 or 5 or whatever) and is in sight of the archers for the complete length of the charge, the archers may fire a second volley if they roll a 5 or 6 (or whatever).

You could always do what blood bowl did: each piece had their set movement, but you could "go for it" where you'd get to move extra spaces if you rolled lucky (and if you failed it would cause the player to fall, fumble the ball and the owning coach's turn ended).

*shrugs*

Good luck
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marqzen wrote:
Hi.

I had an idea. I think it may be a heretical idea, but I would like to know what you think.

I have been thinking a lot about tactical warfare – in any period really. And one of the things in wargames that not only do you have perfect information about unit positions, but also on your own unit capabilities. For instance imagine an ancient battlefield. You send forward your cavalry, and you know that the archers will get to fire once at your cavalry – something you are willing to risk.

Well, imagine that instead on your units having a movement allowance that you can count on, they rather have an approximate move allowance (for instance determined in part by a die roll).
Fainted yet? If you are still with me, then try imagine how it would allow for some more dynamic game play. You know how your cavalry can move 4-8 spaces, but you don’t know exactly how far they will move. So in turn you send forward your cavalry but there is a chance that they will get fired upon twice! So the goal I would liek to acheive is that you as a commander can give the orders you wan't, but you can't be sure of how effectively they are carried out. Its kind of the same thing that M44 and CC does with it's cards, but I feel this may simulate "reality" better.

Now all the examples here are purely explanatory – to give you an idea of where my mind is at. Does it sound completely crazy?


I don't think it's heretical. Have you seen Conflict of Heroes? In that game series (Awakening the Bear [Barbarossa] is the first one; Storms of Steel [Kursk] just came out) there is an optional rule that allows you to roll randomly for a unit's activation points instead of using the average.

Basically, when you activate a unit (a vehicle or a squad) it gets a certain number of activation points. The default is 7, but optionally it can be a random roll on 2d6. Each unit has a set cost for movement and firing (Sov units tend to hit harder but fire less often). Then on top of that there are cards which can add extra actions/points to a your unit or take them away from an enemy unit.

All of this gives a fair amount of randomness to the actual capabilities of a unit on a given turn, even when not under fire. They may be full of vinegar this turn, or they may be keeping their heads down and not doing so much.
 
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marqzen wrote:
Quote:
However, the same uncertainity can be introduced by making turn length variable. That is easier to handle, I think; DBA or Commands & Colors: Ancients are examples of very simple implementations of the idea that, while you know what your units can do in a turn, you can't know in advance how many units will be active.


Yep, I see your point. However you don't acheive the same things. There is a huge difference between not moving the units you wanted to, and moving them (perhaps to a compromised position) without being able to use them effectively.


Depending on the scale, the number of units, etc. If a tactical maneuver requires 3-4 turns to be completed, being caught mid-movement by an enemy counterattack is pretty much the same as ending your turn short of your objective. I guess it all depends on what core ideas you base the system around.
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