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Subject: Does scale precision matter? rss

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I was reading this thread about the scale in Jena 20, and I also remember the somewhat recent discussions about how large hexagons are (and the answer varying based on whether or you're defining it as hex centre to hex centre, or across the hex itself).

My personal sense of "approximation is good enough" wonders if the precise size of the scale matters much beyond trivia. Whether a hex is 1 km across or 100 yards or 22.44 feet doesn't seem to really matter beyond knowing, approximately, how big the scale of the battle is.

Maybe I'm just tainted from having played D&D 3.x/Pathfinder where it's all squares and going diagonally is for all intents and purposes the same as moving orthogonally in terms of scale/distance.
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Probably not, even in the smallest possible scale where Lucius' pilum trajectory is influenced by the quality of the wine he drank the night before, the number of lice in his tunic, the severity of his cold in his nose, or by the velocity of the wet wind blowing over the heather. wow
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Seems to me it comes down to a matter of taste. We like to think of wargames as simulations; and the more hung up on that someone is, the more he's likely to want everything to be exact.

Yet, even among simulation proponents, there are at least two schools of thought: explicit modeling and design-for-effect. The latter group can put up with all kinds of specific distortions or abstractions or omissions, provided they're satisfied (for whatever reasons) that the overall design is still a good simulation of what really happened (or could have happened).

I suspect there's a good deal of self-delusion at work, among designers and players both. But then I'm not much of a simulation proponent anymore. I'm happy enough if a wargame provides a halfway credible rendering of a battle or campaign.

Two games I played recently highlight the difference in attitudes about scale: Richthofen's War and Mustangs.

In RW, scale is clearly defined; you count hexes to the target when you fire; accuracy improves as you get closer. But in Mustangs, it's unclear how much space a hex represents; you have to be one or two hexes from your target to fire, so range doesn't matter as much as angle of approach and what weapons you're firing.

At the other end of the scale--in grand-strategic games--scale sometimes seems superfluous. Each turn represents three months, and yet you're counting how many hexes an infantry or armor unit can move on a map of Europe in a given turn. In three months, you could pretty much move it anywhere. But the designer's notes will try to explain why you can't.

Such things matter ... and yet they don't really. MHO.
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Val Ruza
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I forget how D&D 3rd edition works but in Pathfinder moving diagonally does cost extra movement, every second diagonal move cost and extra 5 feet of movement. More to the question asked I think the choice of scale is important so that during play the approximation is close enough so as to not skew movement and maneuver too much.
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I percept scale precision errors like spelling errors: I dont think about it unless I see a really big one, and then I can't unsee.

I'll willingly ignore incorrect distances between cities or artillery ranges if the error is reasonably small or there's at least an explicit explanation for it. Just dont make my little infantry gun fire at targets 40 km away.
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Roger Hobden
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Q : Does scale precision matter?

A : It's a question of balance.

(edited for clarity)
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leroy43 wrote:
I was reading this thread about the scale in Jena 20, and I also remember the somewhat recent discussions about how large hexagons are (and the answer varying based on whether or you're defining it as hex centre to hex centre, or across the hex itself).


I not only like to know the scale for each hex, but if the size of a hex is defined as the distance across, I also want to know whether that size refers to the distance between opposite vertices or opposite sides. However, it's certainly not a deal breaker if a game does not specify how the distance across a hex is defined, and most wargames don't make this distinction.

leroy43 wrote:
Maybe I'm just tainted from having played D&D 3.x/Pathfinder where it's all squares and going diagonally is for all intents and purposes the same as moving orthogonally in terms of scale/distance.


Lack of scale, movement and combat detail is one of the many reasons I gave up on D&D back in the early 80's, and started playing RuneQuest and Aftermath!. Eventually, I found myself playing wargames to the exclusion of role-playing games. Lately, I've rediscovered the latest version of RuneQuest. When simulating combat, I use hexagon paper and miniatures.
I'm also a big fan of Aces & Eights, which is written upon the assumption that hexagon paper and miniatures (or counters) will be used. The system includes rules for facing!



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I don't worry too much about it. The Russian Campaign is a game with a hex map where the scale increases the further east you go.

...For that reason, I don't take wargames very seriously, either. If the play and results feel plausible, I'm fine with it.
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It matters to me. In fact, it was the subject of my very first thread.
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Scale matters to me.

The hex size should match the rules that govern what can occur within the hex. A small hex size in which you could stack limitless counters or blocks would bug me to no end.
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Scale matters to me. Especially when you also consider the length of a turn (time scale), the movement of units, the production of new units, etc. Map scale needs to fit with the other aspects of the game or you lose something.

My worst example is Columbia's Blocks of War. Part of the initial concept was that scale was elastic, a block of Infantry moving through a Woods could be a Squad going 100 yards or a Corps through the Ardennes. The basics of movement and combat could be represented by the same system. Whatever the merits of that idea, it completely fell apart once a Production System was added. I played in a game using the largest "sea" map once. My fleet sailed across the sea and was comprehensively wiped out just off the far coast. However, before the enemy fleet could sail back across the sea to attack me, I had built a completely new fleet and was ready for him. Map Scale / Time Scale and Production Cycles were so completely out of synch as to ruin the game for me.

 
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Again, I have to recommend reading Dunnigan or Sabin's works for excellent discussions on the pros and cons of using hexagons and the role of scale in wargame design.
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citizen k wrote:
Again, I have to recommend reading Dunnigan or Sabin's works for excellent discussions on the pros and cons of using hexagons and the role of scale in wargame design.

Aw, c'mon. You read 'em. Summarize 'em for us. We're lazy.

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leroy43 wrote:
I was reading this thread about the scale in Jena 20, and I also remember the somewhat recent discussions about how large hexagons are (and the answer varying based on whether or you're defining it as hex centre to hex centre, or across the hex itself).

My personal sense of "approximation is good enough" wonders if the precise size of the scale matters much beyond trivia. Whether a hex is 1 km across or 100 yards or 22.44 feet doesn't seem to really matter beyond knowing, approximately, how big the scale of the battle is.

If scale didn't matter, you could always just pile all of your units into one hex and then roll once for the combat outcome to see who wins. :-)

The player doesn't need to know the scale, but the designer had better think about the relationship of scale to units to time to stacking very carefully or you'll get some really strange outcomes.
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M St wrote:

If scale didn't matter, you could always just pile all of your units into one hex and then roll once for the combat outcome to see who wins. :-)


Rules for "ONE-HEX WAR IN EUROPE":

Roll 1d6
--------
1 Axis Win
2-6 Allies Win


Kickstarter for "ONE-HEX WAR IN THE PACIFIC" coming soon!
(Preview: It uses a d20.)
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M St wrote:
If scale didn't matter, you could always just pile all of your units into one hex and then roll once for the combat outcome to see who wins. :-)

The player doesn't need to know the scale, but the designer had better think about the relationship of scale to units to time to stacking very carefully or you'll get some really strange outcomes.

Well, in Fighting Formations, you CAN stack all your units in the same hex. You'd be a complete idiot for doing so, but it's not prohibited.

But you're adding in things I didn't ask about - I meant my question literally. It makes no difference to me if the hex is 10km across, or if the hex is 10km centre-to-centre.

I totally get that it makes a difference mathematically, but when all hex and counter games do range based on hex distance, and not on scale distance (i.e. your unit can fire up to 3 hexes away), the precision of the hex scale is completely unimportant.
 
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i feel like muddying the waters a little..

What cartographic projection do war games typically use? You would only really notice this in terms of game play in strategic level games, since most tactical would use a localised projection (such as a national grid)
 
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DukeofChutney wrote:
i feel like muddying the waters a little..

Muddy away.



Quote:
What cartographic projection do war games typically use? You would only really notice this in terms of game play in strategic level games, since most tactical would use a localised projection (such as a national grid)

Historically, it's mostly been a hex grid overlaid on a map, and I don't have the actual figures, but if forced to guess I'd say over half of the new crop of games released now still use hex overlay.

There's also point to point (where scale is irrelevant) and area maps (where scale can be irrelevant).

Game scale (as opposed to map scale) affects the importance of localized projection to some extent. The game has to address, in one fashion or another, how units on the map interact with one another, with enemy forces, and the terrain they are on.
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That pic above is amazing. Who says perfect hexsides don't occur in nature?
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leroy43 wrote:
M St wrote:
If scale didn't matter, you could always just pile all of your units into one hex and then roll once for the combat outcome to see who wins. :-)

The player doesn't need to know the scale, but the designer had better think about the relationship of scale to units to time to stacking very carefully or you'll get some really strange outcomes.

Well, in Fighting Formations, you CAN stack all your units in the same hex. You'd be a complete idiot for doing so, but it's not prohibited.

The latter is irrelevant, the former is what counts. For me there is a big difference between playing like an idiot and not playing like one.

Quote:

But you're adding in things I didn't ask about - I meant my question literally. It makes no difference to me if the hex is 10km across, or if the hex is 10km centre-to-centre.

Then I have added in things because I do not even understand your comment. The whole point of playing wargames is that the scale matters. That is why Squad leader or ASL or Fighting Formations does not play like TCS and why TCS does not play like OCS or EFS. Different scale means different rules and a different style of play.

Quote:
I totally get that it makes a difference mathematically, but when all hex and counter games do range based on hex distance, and not on scale distance (i.e. your unit can fire up to 3 hexes away), the precision of the hex scale is completely unimportant.

That's not "the precision of the scale". That's simply "the scale". "Precision" would come into play if it matters whether the scale is 3 miles per hex or 3.05 miles per hex.

And the scale drives everything because in a game that has hexes with 5 mile diameter, only the artillery will have a range greater than 1. In a game with hexes that are 40m large, everyone will have ranged fire. And lots of variation in between.

Also, for me half the fun in playing wargames is seeing how they map into history. If I don't know the scale, I can't do the mapping. I might as well play a Eurogame (which I often do).

In my experience, a significant percentage of wargamers are map freaks (not all, not the majority, but many. Very likely the majority of designers though). They like maps, they study maps, they look for the maps in their history books, they may have drawn on their maps in school. What's the single most important parameter of a map? Its scale.
 
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I hope this doesn't seem like a facile response, but it only matters to me when I notice it.

Example: In the miniatures game Flames of War, the range of an SMG is 4 inches. But the length of a train car (the actual miniature) is about 6 inches. So standing at one end of a train car, you cannot fire SMGs at someone standing at the other end of that same train car. The length of a Sherman tank is about 2.5 inches... meaning that it's about, what, 30 meters long according to that scale? Again, if two Shermans are lined up and somebody is standing at one end, you cannot shoot them with SMGs from the other end.

On the other hand, if there's a little one hex town in a wargame and the rules say I can only stack up to 3 battalions, fine. I'm not going to go look up the dimensions of the town at that time to find out if that's reasonable. It could be as low as 2 battalions or as many as 6. As long as the overall "feel" is plausible, I'm not concerned. Only when something jumps out at me as weird to I start to consider it.



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Requete wrote:
I hope this doesn't seem like a facile response, but it only matters to me when I notice it.

Example: In the miniatures game Flames of War,....

Flames of war!!! Or "run up to the enemy and shoot them because they can't shoot back". I think scale is the least of that rule set's problems.
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