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Subject: The Four Basic Stats of a Tactical Game rss

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Confusion Under Fire
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In tactical games the counters usually have 4 basic stats on them. Attack, Range, Defence and Movement. A game designer would be able to determine Range and Movement of any given unit quite easily as long as they were aware of battle field conditions. Defence is a bit trickier but one squad will be similar to another squad and armoured vehicle stats are available in abundance, again battle field conditions have to be taken into account.

The question I am asking is how do attack stats go from reality to game? I know that a LMG might have a more rapid rate of fire than say a rifle but how would you compare a single LMG firing compared to a squad of riflemen? Reading accounts of actual firefights does not help that much as there are too many other factors to consider, morale, awareness, confusion, exaggerated accounts, weapon role etc I also realise that the actual figure given to an attack value will depend on the combat system used in the game but how do we work out exactly how much more lethal some weapons are than others?

The question relates more to anti personal weapons, firearms, MGs, Mortars etc. When it comes to Armour and Anti Tank weapons there is some hard data to look at and form a basic starting point.
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E Henry Thripshaw
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You might want to check out how the ASL designers went about it. There are several articles on the various nationalities and their manpower and material and how they came about the factors for the units.

The article on the British, Tommy Atkins at War is posted at MMP's website for free download. The other articles are scattered throughout various ASL Annuals and The General Magazine and ASL Journals.

You can get Tommmy Atkins at war here:

http://www.multimanpublishing.com/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=...
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olivier R
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I assume we're talking about wwII. If so, in practice beyond 150-200 meters, my understanding is that it was almost exclusively the lmg that constitited the firepower of a squad and gave it enough reach to have an impact on the battlefield beyond the immediate vicinity of the piece of cover it was in. It is a bit of an exaggeration, but it is often said that the riflemen were nothing more than ammo bearers for the machinegun. Of course that doesn't apply to close quarters, urban fighting etc but I think it held true in most situations. I don't know if that answers your question.

Now between lmgs, I suppose it depends mostly on the rate of sustained fire and ammo loads.
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Steven Mitchell
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whatambush wrote:
The question I am asking is how do attack stats go from reality to game? I know that a LMG might have a more rapid rate of fire than say a rifle but how would you compare a single LMG firing compared to a squad of riflemen? Reading accounts of actual firefights does not help that much as there are too many other factors to consider, morale, awareness, confusion, exaggerated accounts, weapon role etc I also realise that the actual figure given to an attack value will depend on the combat system used in the game but how do we work out exactly how much more lethal some weapons are than others?


This is largely going to depend on the CRT. If the game uses a bloody CRT, then you're going to look primarily at the ability to inflict injuries. If the CRT is largely morale-based (effects of combat are routing, pinning, &c.), then you're going to be more interested in the weapon's ability to scare the bejesus out of the enemy.

ASL, with which I'm most familiar, is mostly a morale-oriented CRT. Bloody effects come primarily with extreme cases or when the opponent is just being stupid. Accordingly, I seem to remember reading somewhere that the fire values in that game are almost entirely derived from the variety and number of automatic weapons that each unit carried. For example, the M1 Garand maybe accounts for 2FP of a standard American squad's 6FP. Most of it comes from the single automatic rifleman carrying a BAR. The BAR wasn't especially effective, but it could shoot a lot of bullets fast. And because each squad is assumed to have a BAR, there are no LMG counters for the Americans.

On the other hand, a German squad was often supplied with Kar98k bolt-action rifles or G41/43 semi-automatics. Most also had a machine gun team armed with a MG34 or MG42, a much more powerful weapon than the BAR. While LMG counters are quite plentiful in most German scenarios, there usually aren't enough to go around. Thus, German squads in ASL will be a mix of those with machine guns (7FP total) and those without (4FP).

And you can do the same analysis for each nationality in each era. To some extent morale/training of the firing squad can play a role in the number of FPs, but this is usually not seen on the squad level. Again, this is because ASL is primarily geared around keeping the enemy from maintaining combat effectiveness. You don't need to actually inflict any casualties for that to happen. You just need to fire a bunch of bullets in their general direction. And so volume of fire, rather than accuracy or killing power, is the driving factor.
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William Ford
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whatambush wrote:
The question I am asking is how do attack stats go from reality to game?


Although it does not offer a clear method for translating the real world into game statistics, a published debate over various design decisions for Squad Leader: G.I. Anvil of Victory seems relevant to your question. It can be found in The General, volume 20, number 1 (May-June 1983), pages 24 - 33.
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Perhaps the issues start with your choice of four basic stats. Maybe soft concerns such as training and motivation should be core and hardware only factor additions.
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Pelle Nilsson
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I like what Fields of Fire has: Fire is small-arms, automatic or heavy. Range is point-blank (submachine-guns, grenades), close, long, very long.

(OK, it's a bit more complicated than that because of units having different experience levels and some machine-guns having tri-pods and a few other details.)
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E Henry Thripshaw
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hammurabi70 wrote:
Perhaps the issues start with your choice of four basic stats. Maybe soft concerns such as training and motivation should be core and hardware only factor additions.


Very good point, and this is also addressed in ASL. For instance, the British 1st line squads do not cower without leadership due to their "training and motivation."
 
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Oh my God They Banned Kenny
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whatambush wrote:
...Defence is a bit trickier but one squad will be similar to another squad...


That implicitly assumes that it is 'defense' against death or injury from direct cause. As has been mentioned, this depends on what effects are being considered. The SL / ASL system was heavily morale based. However, even earlier systems, that focused on pin / disrupt / destroy types of results implicitly factor in morale considerations. A better trained / experienced (infantry) unit might take better advantage of defensive terrain etc. So there could be a significant range of defense factors even for 'soft' targets.

whatambush wrote:
The question I am asking is how do attack stats go from reality to game? I know that a LMG might have a more rapid rate of fire than say a rifle but how would you compare a single LMG firing compared to a squad of riflemen? Reading accounts of actual firefights does not help that much as there are too many other factors to consider, morale, awareness, confusion, exaggerated accounts, weapon role etc I also realise that the actual figure given to an attack value will depend on the combat system used in the game but how do we work out exactly how much more lethal some weapons are than others?

The question relates more to anti personal weapons, firearms, MGs, Mortars etc. When it comes to Armour and Anti Tank weapons there is some hard data to look at and form a basic starting point.


In the end it is a bit of an iterative process. There's no one 'correct' starting point, however, the CRT, attack / defense / terrain modifiers have to 'work' together to produce 'reasonable' results, given the time scale. If units are getting wiped out too easily, or not easily enough would indicate that something needs to be 'tweaked'. That could be attack factors, defense factors or even the CRT itself. There is also a 'reasonable' check for numbers themselves - i.e. attack factors of 250 might not be reasonable. Similarly very low values might not work very well, especially if values get halved for various reasons (e.g. long range). In that case, arbitrary rounding has too large of an effect.
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olivier R
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Yes there is no magic formula. Didn't John Hill admit he basically pulled the numbers out of a place where the sun doesn't shine?
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pepe le moko wrote:
Yes there is no magic formula. Didn't John Hill admit he basically pulled the numbers out of a place where the sun doesn't shine?


The Russian 4-4-7 was a piece left-over from a WW I game he'd done and he had oodles of them laying about, so started with them during initial playtesting.
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Ultimately, everything just needs to make sense in a relative manner.

I think there's room for alternate 4 stats:

1 - Movement
2 - Morale
3 - ZOC (for troops it's what determines their "point blank range" and for leaders it'd be their effective command radius.
4 - Fire (a generic representation of inherent firepower that can be directed at a point in time)

In reality I think trying to get too specific about individual weapon systems can be a real boring exercise. Likewise, not modeling command and control seems odd at the tactical level.
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Ethan McKinney
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whatambush wrote:
A game designer would be able to determine Range and Movement of any given unit quite easily as long as they were aware of battle field conditions.


That's quite an assumption ...
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Confusion Under Fire
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Thripshaw wrote:
You might want to check out how the ASL designers went about it. There are several articles on the various nationalities and their manpower and material and how they came about the factors for the units.

The article on the British, Tommy Atkins at War is posted at MMP's website for free download. The other articles are scattered throughout various ASL Annuals and The General Magazine and ASL Journals.

You can get Tommmy Atkins at war here:

http://www.multimanpublishing.com/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=...


Thanks for the link, it certainly looks like a good read but a long one and it is getting late here so will look at that tomorrow.
 
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Andrew Kluck
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pelni wrote:
I like what Fields of Fire has: Fire is small-arms, automatic or heavy. Range is point-blank (submachine-guns, grenades), close, long, very long.

Especially since fire is not all that effective in the game. If only one group trades lead with another you are most likely to get a 'pin' which makes them less effective but even harder to get rid of them for good. The game demands you pin them, flank them and/or bring overwhelming firepower in the form of fire missions.

A concept demand I think models the reality quite well.
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Michael Dorosh
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Thripshaw wrote:
You might want to check out how the ASL designers went about it. There are several articles on the various nationalities and their manpower and material and how they came about the factors for the units.


John Hill talked about it in his podcast with the 2 Half Squads. When he designed Squad Leader in 1976 or so, he found a 4-4-7 counter from an older era game sitting on his shelf (EDIT - just read WBRP's comments above), and fudged all of it so it "felt" right. They became the Russians, and he designed the rest in comparison to whether he thought the Germans and Americans were better or worse in their characteristics. He talks about movement rates in an article in MOVES magazine in 1973 or so - he mentions that if you can move across the entire map in one turn, you're going too fast, and if you can only move one or two hexes a turn, you're probably going too slow.

In other words, I don't think he figured he was splitting the atom. It is funny now to see third parties dissecting the ASL squads and trying to put logic to the firepower factor breakdowns, insisting they "know the formula" for how the different weapons contribute to this rating, when in reality, it was totally subjective and each new one was basically pulled out of a hat and done as a relative comparison to the originals.

Incidentally, MORALE and RANGE were the factors on the counter along with FIREPOWER. Movement was constant for infantry, and only printed for vehicles. As we discussed in a recent thread, one wonders now about that decision; made for entertaining games, but how necessary is it to model the different performances of the types of vehicles? You can definitely see the schism between design for effect and data-driven design between SL and COI.

We talked about maximum speeds in that recent thread and how tanks in contact probably all trundled around at walking pace anyway.
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olivier R
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Sitnam wrote:

Especially since fire is not all that effective in the game. If only one group trades lead with another you are most likely to get a 'pin' which makes them less effective but even harder to get rid of them for good. The game demands you pin them, flank them and/or bring overwhelming firepower in the form of fire missions.

A concept demand I think models the reality quite well.


That's the way it should be imo if you want to portray infantry combat properly. After the enemy is pinned with their heads down, there is only so much ranged fire can do. You need to flank them or get in grenade range to flush them out.
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E Henry Thripshaw
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
Thripshaw wrote:
You might want to check out how the ASL designers went about it. There are several articles on the various nationalities and their manpower and material and how they came about the factors for the units.


John Hill talked about it in his podcast with the 2 Half Squads. When he designed Squad Leader in 1976 or so, he found a 4-4-7 counter from an older era game sitting on his shelf (EDIT - just read WBRP's comments above), and fudged all of it so it "felt" right. They became the Russians, and he designed the rest in comparison to whether he thought the Germans and Americans were better or worse in their characteristics. He talks about movement rates in an article in MOVES magazine in 1973 or so - he mentions that if you can move across the entire map in one turn, you're going too fast, and if you can only move one or two hexes a turn, you're probably going too slow.

In other words, I don't think he figured he was splitting the atom. It is funny now to see third parties dissecting the ASL squads and trying to put logic to the firepower factor breakdowns, insisting they "know the formula" for how the different weapons contribute to this rating, when in reality, it was totally subjective and each new one was basically pulled out of a hat and done as a relative comparison to the originals..


Yes, which is why I specified ASL and not SL. Go back to the General Magazine #22 6 I believe and read the First Impressions article and also Don Greenwood's article. We realize how John Hill came upon the 4-4-7 as part of his design for effect. You comment about "third parties 'now' dissecting blah blah blah," but why don't you refer to Greenwood and the design analysis from the release date of ASL. This is information from 1985, not a third party, Don Greenwood himself and the house magazine for Avalon Hill. Robert Medrow's article has a ton of information that would benefit game designers and the nationality articles I mentioned seemed on topic for the question at hand.

Yes it was built upon John Hill's original SL squads, fudged and all, but starting in General 22.6 and expanding on that in the Annuals is a lot of good information that I believe is relevant to the original posters questions and it refers to ASL which John Hill had no part in. The article on the Yanks in Annual '89 and the Tommy Atkins article that has recently been updated have good information that answer his question about mortars, machine guns, and support weapons as designed for one tactical game. Nobody said it was chiseled in stone absolute reality.

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For Mr. Dorosh
whatambush wrote:
The question relates more to anti personal weapons, firearms, MGs, Mortars etc.


So Michaal, you are saying that the article you wrote contains no hard data on MGs, Mortars or any other information that would "form a basic starting point" for someone to examine?

Quit trying to make this about ASL *the game*. I was simply suggesting some articles that might have information he could use for that basic starting point. I personally find all of the ASL nationality articles to be chock full of good data.

*edited to remove snide remark*
 
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
I put the article online years ago for anyone to examine if they would like. One of the freehosters still has it up here:

http://www.canuck.freehosting.net/asl.htm

If you can find any weapons data in it whatsoever, you've get better eyes than me.

Perhaps we are defining "data" differently. I'll leave it to the OP to judge, since this thread was supposed to be about helping him, not arguing how many Canadians can fit on the head of a pin.


Bookmarked!

I regard anything Michael writes as an authoritative and interesting read.

It does appear from this thread that the statistics for combat originally came about by what felt right than any hard data. This can be a risky road to take as it depends on the perception of what is right by the game designer. On the flip side of the coin using pure data can also be risky. I remember seeing a programme on SMGs during world war 2 and although many of them had similar rates of fire and muzzle velocity etc the MP 40 came out on top because it felt nicer to hold and was more stable when firing. The Stats also depend on the rules of the game and how combat is incorporated into the system. The only stats I have ever questioned are the STUG counters in Panzer Leader. The defence seems a little too defensive but of course they did have a low silhouette. For me, I accept the stats on counters because it would be a hard call to disagree with them.

As K would say "Don't ask questions you don't want an answer to".
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Michael Dorosh
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whatambush wrote:
Bookmarked!

I regard anything Michael writes as an authoritative and interesting read.

It does appear from this thread that the statistics for combat originally came about by what felt right than any hard data. This can be a risky road to take as it depends on the perception of what is right by the game designer. On the flip side of the coin using pure data can also be risky. I remember seeing a programme on SMGs during world war 2 and although many of them had similar rates of fire and muzzle velocity etc the MP 40 came out on top because it felt nicer to hold and was more stable when firing. The Stats also depend on the rules of the game and how combat is incorporated into the system. The only stats I have ever questioned are the STUG counters in Panzer Leader. The defence seems a little too defensive but of course they did have a low silhouette. For me, I accept the stats on counters because it would be a hard call to disagree with them.

As K would say "Don't ask questions you don't want an answer to".


Or lack the ability to ascertain.

The question you want to ask for an SMG, though, (any weapon, really), is not just how reliable the stats are, but what stats actually matter?

An SMG in 1944 was a room clearing weapon. It didn't matter how many rounds you could fire - theoretically the MP 40, Sten, or M3 'Grease Gun" could fire 500 rpm, but they all had 30+ round box magazines. (And no one topped up the Sten to full capacity because troops in the field were frightened that it damaged the springs.)

Range? You couldn't hit anything more than 50 or 100 yards away.

What kind of "hard data" is going to tell you what the weapon can do in a game? Bullet penetration? Muzzle velocity? Calibre?

You're left with anecdotal stories about how much the Sten Gun jammed and/or went off prematurely (incidentally, much of this was 'user error', according to Canadian Army reports, and you can access these online), how inaccurate they were, how much "the other guy's is better than ours", etc. Very little to tell you that in "x" situation, the gun killed "y" personnel "z"% of the time - if one even assumes that killing was its function.

In a game, I think you generally assign a high firepower rating to these weapons for up-close use, use in confined spaces, close-combat rating, etc., according to "feel", and forget about quantifying it too much. User-feedback will tell you if you got it right; if the game is fun to play and seems realistic. There will be little opportunity for scientific validation.
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