Home Forums General Game Design Different Mechanics for Dealing with Longer-Term Attrition

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  • #10880
    Avatar photoWhirlwind
    Participant

    Hi,

    Which rulesets have attempted to recreate (model/simulate/make a nod towards) long-term attrition from artillery or skirmishing fire without having to re-calculate it on a quite regular basis?  And which mechanics did they use?

     

     

     

    #10943
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    Revolution & Empire and Napoleonic Command both allow for an enemy formation to be fatigued by ranged artillery fire. Without walking through the nitty-gritty of their mechanics in broad strokes they look like this:

    R&E: At the end of the turn each player rolls to see if they successfully fatigued an opposing division, artillery fire against that target division can be a positive modifier on this roll making fatigue more likely.

    NC: The more ‘threat points’ targeted against a target brigade the faster it will build up ‘disorder’ which I believe is analogous to fatigue. This is in competition with the brigade’s ‘cohesion’ rating. Once the ‘disorder’ outpaces the ‘cohesion’ substantially the brigade is required to retreat.

    In both systems this has a negative impact on the target division. In R&E it is more of a slow burn as fatigue’s primary impact is a negative impact on the division getting more fatigue, i.e. snowball effect. Eventually you take a division morale test and your division halts shaken, retreats or breaks. In NC the brigade is either unencumbered or forced to retreat but again, the ‘disorder’ / fatigue builds up. Both systems also have mechanics for removing the ‘disorder’ or fatigue. It is far easier to remove it in NC than in R&E. In NC brigades outside the ‘threat’ of the enemy can shed their ‘disorder’ at one per turn. In R&E you have a chance to do so but it is not presumably successful.

    I could be muddling these each some but I believe those are the gists of their processes.

    I’ve been working on a project that is in public play testing presently. It allows fatigue to be built up by skirmishing and artillery fire. A brief overview of the mechanics in play is that divisions must test to ‘assess’ the status of their division anytime it is:
    • inside combat (skirmishing range) of the enemy
    • targeted by artillery
    • already in a ‘retreating’ or ‘broken’ status

    While being targeted by artillery causes the test, the artillery have to reach a certain level of intensity before it contributes to the outcome of the test. The most likely outcome of the ‘assessment’ test is fatigue though other outcomes are possible, namely: falling back outside skirmish range, retreating outside artillery range, breaking outside artillery range and all component units must be rallied, or no consequence at all. Fatigue may be shed at a rate of 1/turn if outside artillery range of the enemy and is done so by a die roll test. The same test mechanic is used for many other actions, I’ve worked very hard to stay away from having mechanics unique to each task.

    #10997
    Avatar photoWhirlwind
    Participant

    Thanks Bandit, that is really helpful, I was playing around with some similar ideas myself but I’m always grateful when a real rules-writer has done it first!

    In your system, is there a specific skirmish fire mechanic or is it assumed to be happening automatically?

    #11011
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    In your system, is there a specific skirmish fire mechanic or is it assumed to be happening automatically?

    Reading this I realized I completely left out saying anything about skirmishing in my examples. Sorry about that.

    In R&E there is a lot of tactical control allowed so if you’ve got some units formed as skirmishers firing on the enemy, it is, from a fatigue perspective, not much different from having other units firing on the enemy. The test gets prompted by general combat circumstances.

    In NC skirmishing is completely abstracted away and is presumed to be built into the “threat” rating of a unit.

    Prior to external / public play testing my project went through maybe a half-dozen different skirmish system mechanics. Skirmishing is really hard to get right and I personally think that how you represent skirmishing will naturally vary a lot based on the scope and scale of your game. For instance, R&E’s approach makes sense because you have tactical control, therefore allowing you to control skirmishers like any other unit is consistent. NC’s approach makes sense because it is similarly consistent within its chosen scope of abstraction where what we’d normally think of as combat is a ‘threat vs cohesion’ calculation that automatically happens when opposing forces are within ‘threatening range’ of each other. In mine, neither would make any sense as the system is radially less detailed than R&E but notably more detailed than NC.

    The approach I finally settled on is “skirmishing as a necessary evil”. Upon hitting the ‘combat zone’ or what you might consider skirmish range, skirmishing just happens. Players can choose how aggressively they wish to do it but can’t opt out. Both sides risk taking losses, the more aggressive you chose to skirmish and losing are the two negatives that increase your chance of taking losses. Being aggressive is a positive on winning taken but a negative on potential losses taken because those men you send forward to skirmish have now reduced your effectives in the rank and file.

    My big concern with skirmishing was that it was a light mechanic that presented the same problem historical commander encountered. Skirmishing in grand tactical scope is largely a problem of control: you can’t avoid it, you want to win it, but you want to use the fewest resources possible.

    To tie this back to your original question about fatigue, every turn you’re in the combat zone you take the ‘assessment’ test I mentioned in my previous post and if you didn’t resolve unit combat last turn, you also have to make your skirmish roll this turn which could result in some hits on your individual units. As far as skirmishing contributing directly to the ‘assessment’ and therefore to potential fatigue, it is the reason that divisions inside the combat zone take an ‘assessment’ test but in that sense it is an automatic condition. Its variable effect impacts the tactical combat effectiveness of individual units rather than contributing to division level fatigue.

    That was longer than I’d hoped it was going to be but did it help?

    #11013
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    Oh, and sorry all my examples are Napoleonic. I play ACW and WW2 but play tactical and small unit games respectively with those so large formation fatigue really doesn’t come into it. Scott Bowden’s Empire included large formation fatigue and so I suspect – though I don’t own a copy and haven’t played so I don’t know – that Stars & Bars, his ACW game would likely include fatigue for large bodies of troops.

    I always found it strange that Fire & Fury (the original not RF&F) didn’t include some sort of corps, division or even brigade level fatigue rule. I played Napoleon’s Battles at one point but wasn’t a fan of its particular choices in abstraction, after the years I don’t recall that it has any formation level fatigue either which seems odd. I’d think that that scope & scale of game would be the target market for including that sort of mechanic.

    #11026
    Avatar photoWhirlwind
    Participant

    Thanks very much for your detailed response Bandit, it really does help.  I’ll add the two rulesets to my list to have a look at.

    #11039
    Avatar photoShecky
    Participant

    Interesting, as I’ve been thinking along similar lines recently. I was reading up on a few SYW battles and kept coming across examples of where commanders either kept reforming troops and attacking, or the opposite action, would quit the field or fall back after a brief encounter. I was thinking more of “commander morale” – the tendency of a commander to either remain in contact with the enemy or fall back due enemy pressure.

    I want to incorporate my ideas with formation activation. In some games you have to activate formations each turn. However in reality, most formations would act a upon their orders (activation) until they either fulfilled their order or some event happened which caused a failure to act. To me, the biggest factor for determining if a formation order would be achieved is the commander morale. However, the concept of formation fatigue may fit into the calculation as well.

     

     

    #11062
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    I’ll add the two rulesets to my list to have a look at.

    Revolution & Empire can be found in many hobby stores but can also be ordered directly from the author and publisher by e-mail: [email protected] the Emperor’s Press website: http://www.emperorspress.com/home/rules/revolution-empire talks a bit about it, has an errata posted etc… There is also a Yahoo! Group that is fairly active in discussion.

    Napoleonic Command v.2 is available directly from the author Jeff Knudsen via his website: http://www.warartisan.com/rules as a PDF, it is not available as a hardcopy. Jeff also has a description and such posted from that link.

    My project is in external / public beta testing, if you’ve got interest in finding out more about it you can contact me directly at [email protected].

    However in reality, most formations would act a upon their orders (activation) until they either fulfilled their order or some event happened which caused a failure to act.

    I’m a big fan of persistent orders. They went out the window with the advent of Napoleon’s Battles because it provided an alternative to written orders which many felt were cumbersome. There are some innate practical game problems with persistent orders though… might be a good thread topic.

    #11064
    Avatar photoMcLaddie
    Participant

    I was thinking more of “commander morale” – the tendency of a commander to either remain in contact with the enemy or fall back due enemy pressure.

     

    That is really a psychological or perhaps political issue.  They may feel they can’t afford to lose too many troops, or that the cost would be too high to continue… or it may be that the commander is simply cautious.

    I’ve been working on a leader character set of mechanics.  One such is that each commander, when given an order, may ‘interpret it’ based on his character.  This would include moving the order up or down, say from a ‘sustained attack’ to a ‘demonstration’ or up to ‘all-out attack’.  They can also generate a limit to how many casualties they are willing to incur. One commander may be willing to suffer 30% of his command out of action, while another will only be willing to take 10% casualties.

    I am trying to think of an instance where an attacking force was ‘attrited’ under artillery fire, but pressed the attack in that weakened state.  Pickett’s Charge is the only one I can think of off hand.  Nothing Napoleonic comes to mind.  I can only think of one example of troops retreating after being under artillery fire and that is the Stanitz Regiment at Jena under the fire of 30+guns… and they reformed and came back, standing for another two hours or more.

     

     

     

    #11071
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    That is really a psychological or perhaps political issue.  They may feel they can’t afford to lose too many troops, or that the cost would be too high to continue… or it may be that the commander is simply cautious.

    I’ve been working on a leader character set of mechanics.

    I think there is a line to be balanced here, between forcing players to act as their appointed historical personage did in a specific sense or in a more general RPG sense.

    It is the difference between playing Mack and being doomed to fail or playing Mack and being sensitive to the same motivating factors that drove his ill-fated decisions.

    #11110
    Avatar photoMcLaddie
    Participant

     

    I think there is a line to be balanced here, between forcing players to act as their appointed historical personage did in a specific sense or in a more general RPG sense.

    It is the difference between playing Mack and being doomed to fail or playing Mack and being sensitive to the same motivating factors that drove his ill-fated decisions.

    I agree. I was thinking of mechanics to represent non-player subordinate commanders.  I am totally against “McClellan Rules” where the player is forced to act stupid… or given a smart pill  so he has game system advantages over his opponent simply because he is in the role of Napoleon.  It may make for a more balanced competitive game of Antietam or Waterloo, but such rules will skew history and any efforts to actually provide players with the same challenges and decision-making capabilities of the original commander.  If a player is dropped into the role of Napoleon at Waterloo, then Nappy ain’t there and the player is.  He should face the same challenges as Napoleon with his own skill and knowledge.

     

    #11400
    Avatar photorepiqueone
    Participant

    As usual, McLaddie, we disagree.

    In fact, over time, I have become even more convinced of the absolute importance of command to battle outcomes.  It is ahistorical to divorce the effects of intelligence, perception, experience, skill and leadership of the historical commanders from the outcome of battles.  If one is going to try to model the capabilities of artillery, cavalry, and infantry in a battle, then I fail to see how one can say he is refighting Waterloo without the personalities and abilities, or lack thereof, of Napoleon, Wellington, Blucher et al.  In fact, the greatest difference between the armies in most horse and musket armies was the command!   Certainly the technologies employed were almost identical.  I fail to see any convincing proof that any nationality was embued with more or less courage than any other.  There were some differences of doctrne and drill, but they were seldom great, and when a nation did enjoy some advantage there, the enemy was quick to mimic it.

    The greatest difference was found in the command “units” and their leadership.  To say one is going to neuter or ignore these differences guarantees that the wargame is missing the single greatest influences on the battle!  The minute you say that these effects are not going to be reflected in your design, then you are really playing a fantasy game, not an historical miniature wargame.  In Die Fighting II, I have made the command stands as much a unit to be factored into play as any artillery battery, cavalry squadron, or infantry regiment. Each command has a distinct level of capability and its own personality.  This can be randomly generated, or historical personages may be used.

    So what is the role of the gamer then?  To use the forces at hand, including the skillls and personalities of his commanders to best effect and win the battle!  This is EXACTLY what all the great commanders of history have done.  Napoleon knew the differences between Davout and Bernadotte!  Marlborough could distinguish Overkirk from Slangenburg!  And , Eisenhower sure as hell knew that Patton was a far different commander than Montgomery!   In DFII I am asking the gamer to manage his army through his available commanders, a far, far more challenging problem than operating in some never-never land where all troops and all commands do your bidding without fail or delay.  The primary difference is you are now Napoleon’s “boss”, but you will, in general, find him a very capabile subordinate!  (woe to those that have a Mack, Hooker, or Tallard to deal with!)

    You then have to weigh not just crude numbers, but choosing the appropriate commander for each task, and anticipate the relative command weaknesses of some of your sub-commanders.  You can underststand the true damage of Stonewall Jackson’s absence at Gettysburg!   You, just as Napoleon, will choose Soult to attack the Pratzen!  I think the case is easily made that the command infrastructure of an army has generally proven to be far more a factor than the sometimes minor distinctions between unit type and nationalities that is blown up to false proportions as found in some wargame rules.

    On the matter of attrition, I think there are some fairly simple ways to model the attritional effects of artillery, or musketry, for that matter. Again, the one I have used in Die Fighting II is by setting up a dice pool that is used for the movement and combat rolls in the game.  As each action or combat loss occurs dice are lost.  You can only use some of the dice once and then they are discarded and removed from play.  When you are out of dice-you obviously are in great trouble!  The dice essentially become a metaphor for both army morale and attritional losses.  Since this is occuring to both armies the key concept is creating a better exchange rate (dice loss rate) than the enemy. Rather, Dupuy is that regard! It is simple, requires no roster marking, and no extensive layering of rules.

    This is a nice development over the last 31/2 years from the original Die Fighting, which is vastly different in play and effect.  The dice are generated by the command, removed by the movement(actions) and combat of the combat units, and they are particularized to commands.

    Coupled with a new multi-media format (there is no real “Rule Book” in the classic sense) I think this will give more thana few people something to chew on!  For those interested : http://www.repiquerules.com  Click on the Zouave Blog  There is also a Yahoo! site that can be reached from the website.

     

    #11412
    Avatar photoMcLaddie
    Participant

    As usual, McLaddie, we disagree.

    In fact, over time, I have become even more convinced of the absolute importance of command to battle outcomes.  It is ahistorical to divorce the effects of intelligence, perception, experience, skill and leadership of the historical commanders from the outcome of battles.  If one is going to try to model the capabilities of artillery, cavalry, and infantry in a battle, then I fail to see how one can say he is refighting Waterloo without the personalities and abilities, or lack thereof, of Napoleon, Wellington, Blucher et al.

    Bob:

    As usual?  You generally miss where we do agree. But here, I’m not sure from what you’ve written.  A player being placed in a battlefield environment on the table which mimic the tools, information, capabilities of their forces, staff skill, including their non-player subordinates–that is one thing.  It is quite another to create rules which force the players to ‘act like’ the person they are role playing in the game, whether Napoleon, McClellan, Lee or Wellington.  What this kind of ‘personality transplant’ rule does is skew any modeling of the actual battle.  The classic example is the McClellan rule that forces the Union player to commit his corps in a similar piecemeal fashion at Antietam as the real McClellan. This one rule screws up the modeling of the battle on several levels.

    1. It doesn’t provide the McClellan player with the actual decisions faced by the man himself.  He had certain information, lack of information and several other considerations that could have led another person to make very different decisions.  So, first off, those decisions are made for the player, forcing them to deal with only the consequences of the major battle decisions. It takes out of their hands the very thing the game is suppose to do: Give them the same choices and decisions faced by the commanders, not make the decisive decisions for them.  Games are a series of interesting decisions… but in this case, the some of the most interesting ones are taken away.

    2. When advantages or disadvantages of those decisions/skills are forced on the players, they start creating strategies and tactics based on what are ahistorical restrictions.  The McClellan player knows he can’t commit his corps together, so suddenly he starts creating strategies around that limitation.  The Lee player know that the Union can’t commit more than a corps every-so-often, creates plans based on that fact, based on things that Lee couldn’t have known and wouldn’t have done in any case.

    It skews the entire battle dynamics and challenges experienced by the actual commanders.

    3. Because of these kinds of ‘personality’ straight-jackets, players will find that A. Victory conditions for the game may have nothing to do with the actual battle conditions, and B. any and all games with such personality rules will follow a frustratingly narrow range of possible outcomes regardless of the players’ decisions–because those major decisions and usual conclusions made by a particular commander are already enforced.

    Players should have an opportunity to face all the environmental, organizational and informational conditions and challenges of the original participants.  A brain-transplant is both impossible, even in game terms, and certainly skews any history players have to deal with in the game.  Such personality rules might make  might create a balanced game, but it ain’t modeling history anymore.

    Without a doubt that there are many battles that are unplayable because the battles would have never occurred, lost or won because of the commander, but that is another issue that doesn’t change the effects of personality rules.  There is nothing historical in forcing one person to make decisions like another personality, though there are designers that feel that is a necessity to make the game ‘results’ historical.

    #11438
    Avatar photorepiqueone
    Participant

    Well, that’s a masterful job of creating a strawman!  No one is forcing any decisions on a gamer any more than knowing that a 12 pounder battery will have more effect and range than a 4 pounder battery, so its pretty foolish to expect a light gun to shoot  as far with as much effect.  We have different expectations of the Imperial Guard than from Spanish Miquelets, or do we treat them all as generic infantry?  Don’t you think that Ike offered different direction to, and expected different  reactions and outcomes from Monty than from Patton?  Did he consider that in his plans?

    I would think ignoring one of the most important factors on the field-the comparative capability of commanders that were actually there doesn’t require a Brain Transplant, but historical alzheimer’s!

    Now there is no need to get too “McLaddie” in terms of reams of rules, arcane references, or a complete psychological study of the pertinent commanders, including an estimation of their physical abilities to climb the Pratzen.  The simplest of estimations adds a great deal of color to the game.   It’s simple-some commanders are , by the historical record, simply better than others, just as,by the record, the Iron Brigade was more highly thought of than some of the unfortunate militia units.

    The trick is simply to provide mechanisms that allow better commanders to have a greater effect on their command in a simple straightforward way.  It needn’t be constant, or overpowering, but in some incremental way reflected on the tabletop.  If we can add in a few personality traits that are well documented, all the better.  Nothing like commanders with a little personality!  This, too, is best expressed through the simplest of game mechanics.

    My WSS armies now have over 24 command stands each with a historical officer of the period represented, though only 6-8 make a  typical game.  Each is distinct in their modeling, and reach has its own personality. They vary just as do my troops.  Just as when I have the Dutch Guard in my army I feel somewhat relieved that these fierce Dutchmen are available, so do I feel relieved when Overkirk is present and Slangenburg is not!  I know the joy of having Villars in command of my French, and the need to be somewhat more circumspect when Tallard rolls up in his carriage!

    To actually give commanders a role in the game play-adds an immense amount of color, but, even more importantly, it is a sure way to stop players from viewing their armies and troops in an all-too-common, bland, generic, manner.  It encourages gamers to actually learn a bit of history and appreciate the nature, good and bad, of the personalities that strode upon the historical stage.

    There is no strait-jacket!  That’s nonsense!  It simply adds a more subtle decision process for the gamer.  Poses interesting questions.  and makes for colorful games, where jokes are made at McClellan expense.  (BTW he is not the worst by far-just slow to start-in need of constant prodding-and a lot of patience-just ask Lincoln!).  History is many things but chief among them is fascinating and interesting tales of people and their abilities, failures, and sometimes comical, sometimes tragic, path through life.  This is often maginified many times over in moments of crisis, and becomes grand theater!  Should we not want this in our games???  Is it not part of what we are ostensibly modeling?

    God knows H.G. Well’s and Stevenson, Scruby and Featherstone knew this, and every one of their armies had colorful and stipulated leaders and commanders.  These were often fictitious, and, in fact, the rules should allow the creation of ficticious characters for those that want to do that, just as imagi-nations  allows for some very creative “national” troops.

    If we turn our games into doctoral dissertations and ill-conceived time motion studies parading data and promoting legalistic ponderings in lieu of the heart, blood, tears and laughter that gives history, and historical war-games, the entertainment, knowledge, and humanity that is there to enjoy, then we have made a bad trade.

    This approach has the added advantage that it discourages the “win or throw the dice” gamer, as he is not ultimately responsible for the evening’s defeat, but, against his efforts and advice, Bazaine once again fails to extricate himself from the Prussian wiles of Moltke!

    There is no question that SCI-FI and Fantasy games have greatly surpassed historical gaming in numbers and growth in recent years, I’m afraid this may partially because those designers have kept a better eye on allowing real human nature be represented on the tabletop, albeit from completely fictional roots.  History is full of fabulous characters, colorful leaders, and charismatic personalities, we would do well to let them into our games.

     

     

    #11447
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    Bob,

    Well, that’s a masterful job of creating a strawman!

    No one created a straw man. I think you two are likely talking past each other on this.

    What Bill [McLaddie] is saying, is that a player should not be handicapped because the historical character the player is acting as was an idiot, or was sheepish, or indecisive. Similarly, the player should not be given some great advantage because he is acting as a historical character that was brilliant.

    When reading this:

    If one is going to try to model the capabilities of artillery, cavalry, and infantry in a battle, then I fail to see how one can say he is refighting Waterloo without the personalities and abilities, or lack thereof, of Napoleon, Wellington, Blucher et al.

    I concluded the same thing Bill [McLaddie] did. That you seemed to think that players should be saddled with some sort of blessing or handicap to represent the personalities and abilities of a historical character. That sounded like various ‘McClellan rules’ that so famously either make players bound to win or lose based on the historical character they represent.

    What Bill [McLaddie] is saying, is that, if I’m playing Napoleon at Waterloo, then I am *replacing* Napoleon. My decisions replace his, my mistakes or brilliance replaces his. If my staff were excellent then maybe I should receive some benefit that will represent that but I shouldn’t have benefits that make my decisions more effective than they really are simply because I happen to be playing Napoleon while your decisions are made likely to fail even if they are great because you’re playing as Mack.

    If you agree with that, great, if you don’t… well, OK, doesn’t make sense to me but I’m not sure it has to.

    Now there is no need to get too “McLaddie” in terms of reams of rules, arcane references, or a complete psychological study of the pertinent commanders, including an estimation of their physical abilities to climb the Pratzen.

    This is what Mike keeps asking you to stop doing. Retain the substance, drop the sarcasm and personal attacks – be civil, be respectful.
    _______________________________________________________

    Now – can we get back to talking about attrition, because that is the topic of this thread?

    #11448
    Avatar photoMcLaddie
    Participant

    Now there is no need to get too “McLaddie” in terms of reams of rules, arcane references, or a complete psychological study of the pertinent commanders, including an estimation of their physical abilities to climb the Pratzen.

    Huh?  I was arguing against reams of “McClellan” rules and psychological studies.  Never suggested any such things–nor have I ever… You have me confused with someone else.  And there was no estimation of any physical abilities climbing the Pratzen Heights.  It is simply noting what they DID accomplish, regardless….

    If we turn our games into doctoral dissertations and ill-conceived time motion studies parading data and promoting legalistic ponderings in lieu of the heart, blood, tears and laughter that gives history, and historical war-games, the entertainment, knowledge, and humanity that is there to enjoy, then we have made a bad trade.

    I would agree.  I hate doctoral dissertations and ill-conceived motion studies, let alone legalistic ponderings.   I just want my heart and brain engaged in the game when commanding the Union army, not saddled with McClellan’s.  I already know what he did.  I’m all for representing all those non-player characters when you are playing solo or just two of us and don’t have friends able to take various commands.

    Back to attrition.  Artillery and skirmish fire.  Personally, I don’t think those two necessarily had the same cohesion or psychological effect on infantry.  Or cavalry for that matter. There are a lot of accounts of infantrymen hating being under artillery fire where they can’t respond or defend themselves.  [Keegan’s Face of Battle notes this, giving several examples from Waterloo–An arcane reference, no doubt.]  Attrition is in some ways a simple duration under fire issue:  The longer a unit is  artillery fire, the more damage.  There are innumerable accounts of units making speed or maneuvering to avoid staying under artillery fire for too long.

    Artillerists speak of ‘random’ fire and ‘direct’ fire.  Beyond about 800 yards [or level barrel/’point blank’ firing] artillery would ‘interdict’ an area rather than have a battery fire at a single battalion… Smoke and distances made that difficult.  There are a lot of ‘interdiction’ rules that could be applied here.  Skirmishing was much more directed/aimed fire at particular people [officers] and were in range of friendly infantry, so the effects of attrition could be different and something troops could respond to.

    Just some thoughts.

    McLaddie

    #11455
    Avatar photorepiqueone
    Participant

    One isn’t saddled with McClellan’s “Brain”, though for some people that would be a step up!  The gamer will still make the decisions for his little lead men, and just as he would make the decisions for his Guard Cavalry, The grand battery, or the maneuvers of the light division, it’s just not in some fantasy “perfect” world, where his masterful decisions will prove his merit(which always strikes me as the last resort of insecure personalities). He will have issues of the quality of command that form part of his judgements.  If anything, it appears you are determined to ignore this aspect of warfare.  Since I can think of no battle where it did not have effect, that strikes me as not being too interested in history.

    Since you obviously haven’t a clue of what I am speaking about, and have no published examples of your own thinking, I can only refer you to published rules, such as Piquet, FOB, Longstreet, Maurice, and my upcoming Die Fighting II.  They all use some variation on the concept that command has a role in our games beyond a simple +1 correction.  My rules, that will be out in the next week or so , will, I believe, illustrate my intent and beliefs.

    One thing I am sure of, your Occam’s razor is dull, and could use a sharpening.  The simplest explanation is always the best.  So is the simplest rule construct. This would be helped by putting your many conjectures in a rule set that will give them meaning, definition, and prove a true test of their ability to make a better wargame.  This is what you want to do? No?

    To be as clear as possible, I do not restrict what a gamer may do, but restrict the capabilty of some of his commanders to do it as well, as long, or as effectively as other commanders.  There are no rigid limitations in the way you are suggesting,  just less ability to do things, over time, as well.

    In fictional battles with historical troops, it also allows fictional commands to be rated, just like any other combat unit in an army, if one chooses.  This is actually quite an interesting aspect of the game and adds much to our games.

    I have come to believe that, just as in any competitive endeavor, if one wants to know the reason for success or failure, look to the front office, not the mail room.

     

    #11480
    Avatar photoMcLaddie
    Participant

    Bob wrote:

    Since you obviously haven’t a clue of what I am speaking about…

    To be as clear as possible, I do not restrict what a gamer may do, but restrict the capability of some of his commanders to do it as well, as long, or as effectively as other commanders.

     

    I wrote in the last two posts:

    I’m all for representing all those non-player characters when you are playing solo or just two of us and don’t have friends able to take various commands.

    Players should have an opportunity to face all the environmental, organizational and informational conditions and challenges of the original participants.

    A player being placed in a battlefield environment on the table which mimic the tools, information, capabilities of their forces, staff skill, including their non-player subordinates–that is one thing.  It is quite another to create rules which force the players to ‘act like’ the person they are role playing in the game, whether Napoleon, McClellan, Lee or Wellington.

    As I said Bob, we agree more than you seem to realize.

     

    #11483
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    Bob,

    Since you obviously haven’t a clue of what I am speaking about, and have no published examples of your own thinking,

    One thing I am sure of, your Occam’s razor is dull, and could use a sharpening.

    Try posting without stuff like this – you’ll be better heard.

    And as far as I can tell, you’re arguing for the same thing Bill says he supports, you just seem to perceive that he wants something different than he does. In his post just above this one he picked out the pertinent posts… you guys are saying nearly the same thing so I fail to see what you are disputing.

    #11490
    Avatar photorepiqueone
    Participant

    Not really, Bandit.  For one thing I guess I propose that the gamer have a role quite apart from “Being Napoleon”. He is, and can only be, the “player”.  Even the command of his miniature army is functionally not him.  I wish him to operate through the command, including the CinC, to express his decisions, just as he does when using sub-ordinate wargame commands, or even moving and animating any given combat unit.  This need not be onerous, nor a thicket of rules, but a range of capabilities very similar to the range of capabilities we give our individual units.  Command is seen as another “unit” on my table, not some sort of role playing exercise.  The guard is better than Spanish Militia.   Napoleon is better than Mack. It’s as simple as that!  If we choose to represent a range of capabilities among the artillery, cavalry, infantry why not the command elements?

    I also find the argument that we get the effects of good or bad command by simply having other gamers in the game, unconvincing.  What we get are good and bad players; players who have never read the rules, are not the sharpest knives in the drawer, or are simply inept, lose-no matter what!.  This illustrates nothing about the battle at hand, or the relative historical merits of the command on the day of battle.  If a player that has never played a wargame before is given Davout’s corps, then it will probably not behave in a very historical manner during the game. Likewise, if the best player is playing Tallard force at Blenheim, and the worst player is in charge of Cutts forces, or even Marlborough in army command, I don’t think we can expect anything too historical to play out on the table. To be fair, even rules that do impose some advantages or disadvatages to certain commands may not be able to save the village idiot from himself, though the drama and tension of play and competition may be better preserved.

    I think a lot of rules, by overlooking the role of command, and postulating the old Chestnut about  the player “Being Napoleon,” are missing a substantial part of the input to a reasonably historical wargame.  I say this as someone who rarely refights an historical battle, far preferring a fictional battle problem, but with historical troops and command rated in some rough fashion, as per the historical record, or a random rating of both for a scratch game.  There is a lot of upside to this approach as opposed to the rather well worn road of refighting the battle of ( fill in the blank) with its predictable future events.  “Isn’t this the turn that Reynold’s, Blucher, The Russians…(check one) shows up?”

    As i have said, my exact implementation of these factors will be abundently clear in my upcoming multi-media rules.  They can be accurately assessed by anyone at that point.  It is always a bit fruitless to discuss these things in the abstract, as actual integration into a rule set is not only the best way to measure their effectiveness, but focuses the argument to a tangible, and testable, construct.

     

     

    #11508
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    For one thing I guess I propose that the gamer have a role quite apart from “Being Napoleon”. He is, and can only be, the “player”.

    OK…

    Well, to try and understand better what you mean. I figure that Napoleon was good at his job for a host of reasons. He had a highly capable staff, he had good subordinates, he made good decisions. There were others as he lived a very colorful life but to keep the conversation tight I’d like to focus on those three.

    Chief among those is that he made good decisions – in my opinion – but the execution of those decisions is dependent on the other two. If I play a game where I command the French army at [name any battle], then the decisions made are mine, not Napoleon’s. While I should receive some benefits for having an excellent staff and good subordinates, I should own my decisions and their quality should largely determine the outcome.

    In short:

    If I make worse decisions than my opponent, I should lose should I not?

    Your opinion?

    #11510
    Avatar photorepiqueone
    Participant

    I have not said otherwise.  SOMEBODY has to move the little metal men, otherwise it will be a VERY static game!

    Look, you seem to have no problem accepting that “X” unit has an excellent historical record-say the 95th Rifles- and awarding them some benefits in their use of the rifle, and their alacrity of movement and morale.   You seem unconflicted by saying that Guard units should get some benefits, perhaps in melee and morale, over a line unit.  Most wargamers are quite content to offer up some occasionally spurious plussed factors for the French or British.  Why is it such a difficult thing to accept that commanders, and that includes, of course, the quality of staff, and some internal workflow skills, come in different flavors as well?  This can be measured in their ability to aid or assist units in their command to get to the right place at the right time, rally them to “stiffen their sinews”, it can be equally a matter of their timidity, or ineptitude in getting things done.

    You, as the living and breathing human,will still be deciding to do certain things, and trying to move your units to the best tactical position, but you will be doing that using the command that historically (or was just rolled for) noted by history to be aof a certain skill or lack-thereof.  Just as gamers accept a certain sang-froid when playing the French in 1940 war-games,  or the Austrians in 1866, or the Rebels in late 1864, or the Prussians in 1806; why is it so difficult to accept that same attitude when using mechanisms that do the same for the officers and command?

    Since many wargamers have never served, or if they served, were enlisted, it is not surprising that they might not appreciate the role of command, and concentrate on the gear, the weapons, and the troops.  They ferret out a wide range of distinctions where sometimes there is little to be found concerning these matters, but imagine that command is just there, and that commands just do what they’re told, when they’re told.  It also ends up with a lot of games played at the skirmish level where command is more obvious and less consequential than at more senior levels and HQ.    The truth is that it’s relatively easy to link excellent command with victory, and poor command with utter defeat.   There’s a legitimate case to be made that armies decline as wars take their terrible toll, not just of troops, but of the Officer corps and command.  The Rebel army command in 1864-5 was a shadow of its 1862-3 high-water, just as the units were deleted of numbers.

    In any case, it adds a lot to game play when you have command units with a role in the game, and the gamers have to manage their command structure as well as the combat units.  It allows some truly fascinating aspects of battle to not only be portrayed, but adds a whole new dimension to the wargame table.  It also adds a new level of history to the tabletop, that has been shunted aside by many gamers.  My favorite aspect of it, is that it adds so much history to the table-top.   People actually learn, in the game, the names, and to some rough degree the character and skills of historical personages.

     

    #11521
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    Look, you seem to have no problem accepting that “X” unit has an excellent historical record-say the 95th Rifles- and awarding them some benefits in their use of the rifle, and their alacrity of movement and morale.   You seem unconflicted by saying that Guard units should get some benefits, perhaps in melee and morale, over a line unit.

    I have made no comments what-so-ever about unit ratings so you have no way of knowing what my opinion on them is. Please do not presume my views and then extend them so you can draw a conclusion about my perspective.

    Why is it such a difficult thing to accept that commanders, and that includes, of course, the quality of staff, and some internal workflow skills, come in different flavors as well?

    In any case, it adds a lot to game play when you have command units with a role in the game, and the gamers have to manage their command structure as well as the combat units.  It allows some truly fascinating aspects of battle to not only be portrayed, but adds a whole new dimension to the wargame table.  It also adds a new level of history to the tabletop, that has been shunted aside by many gamers.  My favorite aspect of it, is that it adds so much history to the table-top.   People actually learn, in the game, the names, and to some rough degree the character and skills of historical personages.

    Uhm, OK. But you seem to be responding really, really broadly and vaguely.

    What Bill [McLaddie] had said was that he didn’t think a player’s decisions should be doomed to fail because that player was playing “as McClellan”, an example of this would be Command Point Mechanics. Typically command point systems grand X command points to various historical characters, a ‘Napoleon gets 50 and Mack gets 6’ sorta thing (obviously I am making an extreme example with some humor in it). The result is that the player acting as Napoleon can issue many more orders than Mack can. That makes little sense. Napoleon’s opponents rarely seem to have had trouble issuing orders, in fact, commonly, Napoleon issued WAY WAY LESS orders than did his opponents. My reading of history is that Napoleon often won because he made *better decisions* than did his opponents.

    Similarly, in a game where you get a bunch of large bonuses for being Napoleon and a bunch of large deficits for being Bennigsen, one does seem to run the risk of both not simulating anything and presupposing the outcome of the game because the ‘Napoleon Player’ enjoys such an advantage that he can succeed even making bad decisions because the ‘Bennigsen Player’ is unable to execute any decisions, better though they might be. There are lots of rules where this is common and all McLaddie was saying is that they don’t seem either to be good for the game experience or a good representation of the historical problems.

    * McLaddie and I seem to both me talking about what some call “perspective based games” where a player specifically *is* X commander and the rest of the game is designed around their perspective. The player might receive a benefit for playing someone who was historically charismatic or had a great staff, but their the impact of their command decisions will generally have a drastically larger impact on the game outcome than will any of these “characteristics” which will fulfill a far more minor role.

    * You seem to be both arguing against this and for it. You note a certain RPG quality to playing a historical commander but you also seem to be saying the player should be somewhat restricted (or enhanced) in doing their job based on which historical character they are playing. You also made mention of how a player was [paraphrasing] “not playing the historical character but was controlling them like any other unit”. So in that case it sounded more like you saw the player as being apart from the environment rather than the player attempting to mentally immerse themselves in it. Sorta like the player wasn’t acting as Napoleon, they were instead acting as Napoleon’s puppeteer?

    * Am I following at all? I’m fairly confused but trying to understand.

    #11523
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    Tempest – Sorry that we seem to have run off with your thread 

    #11548
    Avatar photorepiqueone
    Participant

    From reading your last comments Bandit, it appears your perception of all the possible ways to make command relevant in wargames runs the gamut from A to B.

    #11551
    Avatar photoMcLaddie
    Participant

    In any case, it adds a lot to game play when you have command units with a role in the game, and the gamers have to manage their command structure as well as the combat units.  It allows some truly fascinating aspects of battle to not only be portrayed, but adds a whole new dimension to the wargame table.  It also adds a new level of history to the tabletop, that has been shunted aside by many gamers.  My favorite aspect of it, is that it adds so much history to the table-top.   People actually learn, in the game, the names, and to some rough degree the character and skills of historical personages.

    This is still really vague. If you are arguing for having a player face the same challenges and decisions as the real commander, including those characters they had to deal with in their own organization [assuming non-player subordinates], then I don’t think we have any disagreement. Players facing the same environmental conditions of command will at times see the wisdom of a historical decision or make similar errors.  That is different from making the decisions for the player through ‘personality transplant’ rules.

    If you are arguing for the player being saddled with rules that force them to make the same decisions just as Napoleon or Mack, McClellan or Lee did, then that way lay game design dragons.  You can’t construct rules to make a player think and make decisions like someone else without skewing any historical modeling–if such a thing were possible at all.  If the rules make the command decisions for the player, that exercise ceases to be a game, but a re-enactment on autopilot.

    Players will chose strategies to get around or optimize their chances of success based on those rules/conditions which never existed in reality…at all.  Certainly the player should have to deal with a poor staff if the real commander had to. Of course, the subordinates they had can be represented in some way [mild AI rules… not too complicated…right?]  I can appreciate McClellan’s problems in a well-constructed game, even why he might have chosen the course of action he did, but can anyone reasonably believe they can create rules to force a player to act like McClellan or be Napoleon?

    And of course, the question would be why?  I know what decisions those men made and I know the outcomes of those decisions.  If I want to do a walk-through of the battle, I don’t need any more rules. Just use the decisions they made during the game.  Result?  A historical outcome… with the same decisions, the same outcome every single time.

    Boring.

    From reading your last comments Bandit, it appears your perception of all the possible ways to make command relevant in wargames runs the gamut from A to B.

    Come on Bob.  That is about as vague a put-down as they come without dealing with the issues at all.

    #11558
    Avatar photoWhirlwind
    Participant

    @Bandit,

    Not a problem – threads will go where they will…

     

     

    #11578
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    From reading your last comments Bandit, it appears your perception of all the possible ways to make command relevant in wargames runs the gamut from A to B.

    Bob, in my last post I summarized how your views came across and asked for clarification because they confuse me. You replied saying my views ran from “A to B” which is actually really narrow, maybe ‘A to Z’ is what you meant?

    The “gamut” that I listed in my last post was not of my views, it was of how I understood your views. Then I asked you to clarify. Can you?

    In any case I’ve expressed few of my views on command in this thread, largely summed up here and are quite narrow:

    McLaddie and I seem to both me talking about what some call “perspective based games” where a player specifically *is* X commander and the rest of the game is designed around their perspective. The player might receive a benefit for playing someone who was historically charismatic or had a great staff, but their the impact of their command decisions will generally have a drastically larger impact on the game outcome than will any of these “characteristics” which will fulfill a far more minor role.

    #11592
    Avatar photoMcLaddie
    Participant

    Over the years, I have seen the attrition caused by artillery handled in the following ways–in some form. Without looking up the specific rules…which I can do if you want, they are:

    1. Cut up the movement process into small movement/fire phases so that incremental damage can be tracked.

    2. Have moves cover large amounts of time and one fire sequence does all the ‘attritional’ damage.

    3. Have fire ‘zones of control’ where units suffer morale and/or movement loss while in the zone.

    4. Have units suffer negative infantry or cavalry close combat modifiers if under artillery fire before entering combat

    Many players like aiming and firing their cannon at specific targets, though actual commanders rarely took the opportunity to direct artillery so specifically. They generally gave them responsibilities to support or areas to defend and the artillerists decided when to fire at whom.

    Firing artillery at specific targets over about 600 yards was difficult. Visually, a column at that range was the size of a pinhead. [Hughes has some photos showing this at various ranges] Taking account of smoke and several cannon firing, it was difficult to tell if the target was being hit…  At that range, random fire, creating areas of interdiction with bounce-through was a tactic.  Clausewitz describes going through these artillery ‘zones’ where as a courier, he could tell how close he was to the front lines by the quality of the artillery fire.  This is the kind of thing you see a Waterloo where the French fire over the slope into the British troops on the other side, creating real havoc on targets they couldn’t see: Random fire.

    Skirmishing is tougher because it requires  close contact between the skirmishers and enemy units over time. It is also not random fire, but aimed at officers, artillerists etc.

     

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