Home Forums General General Is Command&Control in games a myth?

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  • #199939
    Avatar photoJustin Swanton
    Participant

    If you are interested in a RPG game even online, let me know. I just recently played in Whirlwind’s online double blind Napoleonic campaign so I have an obligation to reciprocate by GMing something. I could do an ancients battle.

    I always understood RPG as Role Playing Game as in Dungeons and Dragons. Is an Ancients version something on the lines of Cossacks and Cuirassiers, like this for example?

    I have a VASSAL module of my own system if that’s of any interest.

    https://wargamingwithoutdice.blogspot.com/

    #199942
    Avatar photoWhirlwind
    Participant

    What do you envisage command and control rules doing that you can’t achieve now? I can’t quite tell. Is it that you:

    1- …try to do something…(and standing doing nothing is an action which can fail like anything else)

    2 – That can fail, and if it fails then something else happens?

    3 – And that something else can’t just be one thing (e.g. not moving) but has to be one of various possibilities?

     

     

    #199943

    RPGs are usually identified as you say as in the fantasy genre where you take the role of a single character…but in some cases that single character could be a general, in command of a force in battle and the NPCs are in the thousands…

    Mick Hayman
    Margate and New Orleans

    #199944

    What do you envisage command and control rules doing that you can’t achieve now? I can’t quite tell. Is it that you: 1- …try to do something…(and standing doing nothing is an action which can fail like anything else) 2 – That can fail, and if it fails then something else happens? 3 – And that something else can’t just be one thing (e.g. not moving) but has to be one of various possibilities?

    For me, I am looking for 3.  I want to see unexpected actions occur, not just failures of command that do nothing except leaving a static unit.  for the turn: wrong avenues of advance chosen, friendly fire, unexpected withdrawals or attacks by subordinates, (arriving too early is often just as bad as too late).  Muskets fired too early at such long range,  such that it only succeeds in terrifying the shooting unit itself (ie Talavera) causing it to rout.

    My tables,  (with some 33 random events possible) usually only affect a battalion but occasionally can affect a division or brigade.  I usually roll one to two possible events per corps (10% chance of an event per turn)  but I have found at con games these events are very welcome and have even had them occur more frequently.  It really jazzed up the game and provides plausible and rich narrative for the players, and sometimes creates interesting tactical puzzles for what would normally be a slogging brawl.

     

    Mick Hayman
    Margate and New Orleans

    #199945
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    I wasn’t looking for acknowledgement. I’m not that needy. 😀

    You’ll take what you’re given and like it!

    #199949
    Avatar photoOotKust
    Participant

    going down the chain of command to the lowest level of operabilty. But how much fun would it be making 200 dice rolls to find out what the left flank does?

    I observed some kind of fantasy game that had one player throwing 60 odd dice… wtf?? There wasn’t that many figures in use__ I just walked away ashen, shaking my head….

     

    #199955
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    I wasn’t looking for acknowledgement. I’m not that needy. 😀

    You’ll take what you’re given and like it!

     

    Oh. OK 🙂

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #199956
    Avatar photowillz
    Participant

    One way to simulate command and control in a medieval wargame is to have all the commanders to wear metal buckets on their heads with a small eye slit cut out (notwithstanding safety and heath issues , briefings) for limited vision.  Also have them wear thick leather gloves to write orders.  Total immersive wargaming.

    #199981
    Avatar photoWhirlwind
    Participant

    None of them have what I would call command & control rules. Some of them have friction rules where sometimes my troops stand around or I can only activate a certain number (a trick I’ve used myself in my own games). But they still do exactly what I want when they do activate.

    If this is the absolute extent of the issue, then probably the reaction tests in old WRG or Quarrie or somesuch rules would solve most of it. But I still don’t think I am quite getting what Ivan thinks should happen.

    #199986
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    One way to simulate command and control in a medieval wargame is to have all the commanders to wear metal buckets on their heads with a small eye slit cut out (notwithstanding safety and heath issues , briefings) for limited vision. Also have them wear thick leather gloves to write orders. Total immersive wargaming.

    And for your sengoku jidai games…

    Notice the shinai. Ideal for distracting your opponent 🙂

     

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #199987
    Avatar photowillz
    Participant

    One way to simulate command and control in a medieval wargame is to have all the commanders to wear metal buckets on their heads with a small eye slit cut out (notwithstanding safety and heath issues , briefings) for limited vision. Also have them wear thick leather gloves to write orders. Total immersive wargaming.

    And for your sengoku jidai games… Notice the shinai. Ideal for distracting your opponent 🙂

    Like it😁

    I remember reading in “Battle for Wargamers” or “Military Modelling” at one of the London wargame shows in the late 70’s – early 80’s about a Star trek game where the players had to don thick gloves and baseball helmets when the ships lost life support and the game was played by having to move small card counters for action / events.

    #199989

    Ever tried to do something easy like just walking in MOPP4?

    Mick Hayman
    Margate and New Orleans

    #200478
    Avatar photomadman
    Participant

    Thanks guys. Since I have been doing this wargaming thing for over 5 decades I have seen, tried and considered this issue many times in the past. I am especially keen to try implementing it as many of the games/rules created since the ’90s either attempt to address these issues or are designed such that adding these aspects are more possible.

    I am/was a huge fan of Striker but the orders aspect was the part I always felt didn’t work. Not that it took time to change/give orders but unless playing with a referee, or preferably a group of them, who would not only “interpret” their orders but also ignore or randomly change or ignore them. Same for any other rules which relied on written orders. I didn’t and still don’t see any difference between omnipotent command. Afterall the subordinate could interpret the “meaning” of the order to do just as you wanted to anyways. You did train for personal initiative, right?

    So lots of ideas about what doesn’t work and a few where they worked in specific situations or with specific individuals but what about actual rules? Some have mentioned they have implemented some of these aspects but lets see what you have done and how to apply them please.

     

    #200484
    Avatar photoWhirlwind
    Participant

    I still want to know exactly what people want these conceptualized command and control rules to do. Is what is wanted sets of rules with the following features:

    1 – formations or units take actions not intended by the player-commander, which aren’t a result of morale failure

    2 – these uncommanded actions are not limited to remaining stationary

    Is there anything else?

     

    #200486
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    I still want to know exactly what people want these conceptualized command and control rules to do. Is what is wanted sets of rules with the following features: 1 – formations or units take actions not intended by the player-commander, which aren’t a result of morale failure 2 – these uncommanded actions are not limited to remaining stationary Is there anything else?

    Chuck a D6

    1 obey orders

    2 don’t move

    3 move in entirely the wrong direction (decided by another D6)

    4 attack any randomly selected enemy unit (decided by another D6)

    5 attack any randomly selected friendly unit (yeah, another…)

    6 rout

    Utter feckin’ chaos within three turns

    🙂

     

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #200487
    Avatar photoJustin Swanton
    Participant

    I still want to know exactly what people want these conceptualized command and control rules to do. Is what is wanted sets of rules with the following features: 1 – formations or units take actions not intended by the player-commander, which aren’t a result of morale failure 2 – these uncommanded actions are not limited to remaining stationary Is there anything else?

    Chuck a D6 1 obey orders 2 don’t move 3 move in entirely the wrong direction (decided by another D6) 4 attack any randomly selected enemy unit (decided by another D6) 5 attack any randomly selected friendly unit (yeah, another…) 6 rout Utter feckin’ chaos within three turns 🙂

    Sure, why not? There’s a quicker way though….

    1. Players set up terrain and armies.

    2. Each player throws a die. The higher throw indicates that that player’s army obeyed its general’s orders slightly more frequently than its opponent and so won the battle.

    3. Players pack up and go home, happy to have played a game that delivers results so fast.

    https://wargamingwithoutdice.blogspot.com/

    #200503
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    2. Each player throws a die. The higher throw indicates that that player’s army obeyed its general’s orders slightly more frequently than its opponent and so won the battle.

    You are assuming the general is not a twit and that following his orders will lead to victory. Big assumptions. Two more die rolls before we pack up and go home?

     

    #200506
    Avatar photoJustin Swanton
    Participant

    2. Each player throws a die. The higher throw indicates that that player’s army obeyed its general’s orders slightly more frequently than its opponent and so won the battle.

    You are assuming the general is not a twit and that following his orders will lead to victory. Big assumptions. Two more die rolls before we pack up and go home?

    https://wargamingwithoutdice.blogspot.com/

    #200507
    Avatar photoOrm Embar
    Participant

    I like rules that mean the commander gets to command, but that not everything happens in the synchronised fashion he intends.

     

     

    #200509
    Avatar photoJustin Swanton
    Participant

    Methinks there are three types of wargamers, which affects the kind of C&C rules they prefer:

    1. The chess types. These tend towards abstraction and hence prefer more control and less randomness in gameplay. I fit in here, though not so much on the abstraction.

    2. The Yeah! Urgh! types. These love a game full of thrills and spills. They want plenty of events that flesh out the war movie they are directing, hence their preference for dice and cards.

    3. The artistic types. These are really in it for the figures, devoting time and effort to create exquisite miniatures. They don’t care what the rules are like so long as their children get a good outing on the battlefield.

    https://wargamingwithoutdice.blogspot.com/

    #200510
    Avatar photoJustin Swanton
    Participant

    Here’s a question for the orders advocates: If your right flank cavalry are ordered to attack the enemy’s left flank cavalry, but once the battle starts the left flank cavalry go around the back of their infantry to the other flank, what does your cavalry do? Follow them? move up to occupy their former position? Stay put?

    https://wargamingwithoutdice.blogspot.com/

    #200514
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    To go back to Whirlwind’s question:

    I want formations/units to act as they might in real life.

    (which also adds a fourth type of gamer at least to Justin’s supposed list – those who want a game that gets as close to the probable real outcome as possible).

    So generally the unit should act according to what they perceive to be the CinC’s intent – ie Auftragstaktik, but perhaps in some circumstances depending on the era and army, rigidly to adhere to orders – Befehlstaktik.

    Both can produce serendipitous genius or idiotic disaster – the former in theory at least being more likely to deliver at the genius end of the spectrum.

    See Justin’s what happens if the cavalry disappear.

    (First why did they move behind the infantry? Telepathy that the commander wanted to change orders? Predetermined ruse? Not liking the odds? Or initiative? (see not liking the odds) Prepare to be flayed alive for exposing the infantry flank if the latter.)

    Whatever the reason for their move – what do your cavalry do?

    Are there SOPs? Probably not.*

    (If there are – follow them with a small chance of deviation for misunderstanding the situation).

    So we are back to a list like NCS’s (but NOT actually NCS’s).

    Does the cav commander rigidly follow the order and attack? Does he follow the intent? (And does he know what this is?)

    Choices I’d suggest:

    a)Advance on the retreating cav

    b)Follow the retreating cav

    c)Stand there looking lost

    d)Attack the exposed infantry flank.

    We are all going to go for d) aren’t we? But maybe we have a die roll/chit draw/card turn to determine which or which combination we should be made to do, unless and until the CinC notices or is told something odd is going on with his right flank cav? Note they may not have an equal chance of happening and maybe they happen in combination depending on the type of commanders.

    But is that C&C? It is, but not as we think of it normally in games. The sort of C&C here is the sort derived from reading b****y doctrine pamphlets, attending courses or sitting in a salon, mess or campaign tent listening to the boss extolling old Windy Miller. Windy who seized the day at Blundersville and turned the whole enemy line by his right flank attack with no orders at all! (He was shot a month later for doing the same thing but losing that time, but no-one ever mentions that – poor form).

    Was the intent to hold the right flank by slowing the enemy cav? Drive it from the field? Drive it from its position and attack the infantry centre? Or is it just a kill everything you see type of a game?

    This is nothing to do with morale or loss of control – this is about command type and command initiative or lack thereof. If you want to throw a few more buckets of dice against stat lines – morale away.

    That’s a lot of waffle to say outline reasonable actions and their chances of happening, then chuck a die. ^

    *I’m pretty sure there was a set of rules which recommended drawing up a set of SOPs for virtually every situation– anyone remember them? I think it was probably WRG. I seem to remember starting and thinking it was far too much like work. On reflection it’s probably not a bad idea.

    ^ This avoids suddenly being struck by lightning, finding oneself in a marsh, being attacked by sandworms or being possessed by the spirit of Alexander the Great, Napoleon or Lord Sackville. If you like completely random stuff go ahead but I prefer military disaster that has at least a resemblance of reality. I’m usually capable of snatching disaster from the jaws of defeat without UFOs and herds of Wildebeest appearing.

    #200515
    Avatar photoOrm Embar
    Participant

    The Wildebeest have confirmed this is true.

    #200517
    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen
    Participant

    This has gotten me inspired to work on something for WW2 squad level. Itll be a solo game but with the idea of having to issue actual orders to men and having direct control of yourself (as the squad leader).

    To change orders you need to either be in shouting distance or send a runner.

    You will also have an initiative roll that can be attempted for men that are outside of range. They may change their orders to what you need if you succeed, but may also take other actions that are more random.
    Men under threat will also have a roll to see if they abandon their orders and hunker down to fight back.

    If nothing else, it’ll be a fun exercise.

    #200518
    Avatar photoIvan Sorensen
    Participant

    xtent of the issue, then probably the reaction tests in old WRG or Quarrie or somesuch rules would solve most of it. But I still don’t think I am quite getting what Ivan thinks should happen.

    I don’t know what SHOULD happen. I was just looking at rulebooks (including stuff I’ve done) and musing.

    #200527
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    The Wildebeest have confirmed this is true.

    Gnus to me.

    #200529
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    I think my list is a work of genius.

    I may go off and test it…

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #200533
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    I worry about having a 16.5% chance of running away for no reason. (It would undoubtedly be the one time in the game I would roll a six.).

    I would say it would explain the Spanish at Talavera but I hear that is an evil fib put about by Imperialist British historians and the Spanish actually won the battle of Talavera and all the other Peninsular War battles.

    #200534
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    I worry about having a 16.5% chance or running away for no reason. (It would undoubtedly be the one time in the game I would roll a six.).

    I would say it would explain the Spanish at Talavera but I hear that is an evil fib put about by Imperialist British historians and the Spanish actually won the battle of Talavera and all the other Peninsular War battles.

    Yebbut think of the hilarity

    It would drive them wot take it all too seriously absolutely MENTAL 🤣

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #200536
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    I think recording the officer status of each unit, their training, march distance covered in the last week, logistics position, had they eaten in the last 24 hours, any cultural predispositions to certain behaviours, and social cohesion, and THEN rolling a d6 would make this a much more valid approach.

    #200537
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    Yeah, that would be brilliant! 🤣

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #200716
    Avatar photomadman
    Participant

    Well it looks like we have not solved the requirements outlined by the OP. We can introduce friction but introducing a working command and control procedure or set of rules seems to rely on a referee or team of referees and double blind game play.

     

    Or did I miss something? I don’t think so.

    #200721
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    I think a working C2 requires someone to command and control, so more than one player per side in a military hierarchy or umpires to represent those command steps not so represented.

    #200723
    Avatar photomadman
    Participant

    I think a working C2 requires someone to command and control, so more than one player per side in a military hierarchy or umpires to represent those command steps not so represented.

    My thinking as well. Others I think agreed but some skirted the issue. Not something, without referees or a computer control, that can be solved/implemented just with rules.

     

    #200724
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    Agreement on a wargame forum?

    Hmmm?

    #200725
    Avatar photomadman
    Participant

    Agreement on a wargame forum? Hmmm?

    This is the war room damn it. There will no fighting in here!

    #200726
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    #200728
    Avatar photoRod Robertson
    Participant

    Ivan:

    Perhaps what’s needed to better model the chaos and personal relationships of Dark Age and Medieval combat is trying to incorporate some schizophrenia into the mix. Everybody is thinking about this question from a European, top-down and Westphalian perspective when reasonably well trained armies were “commanded and controlled” by officers who, whether they were competent or not, had a reasonable expectation that their troops and subordinate officers would do as they were told, if an order was given and received. There was considerable social conditioning to obey orders drilled into folk and the cost of not obeying orders was very high. However in the Dark Ages and Medieval period in most of Europe such well conditioned and well trained armies were uncommon outside of Byzantium and the later Mongol armies. So maybe the C&C approach for Dark Age and Medieval combat should be turned upside down?!

    Rather than being commander-centric, why not start with key subordinate commanders and generate traits and abilities/disabilities or strengths/weaknesses for each of them randomly during a one-off game or  at start of a campaign game and then replace or reshuffle them, demote or promote them as the battles unfold in a campaign. Each subordinate will have a small suite of “moves” which he (or she) will use in combat or conflict. Thus have the job of the CinC be the managent of these various personalities and their strengths/weaknesses to execute their moves for victory points. Whichever player does the best job of managing these wilful and not necessarily fully cooperative subordinates will gain the most victory points and will ultimately win the game (even if they might loose the battle). Finally a game where a well executed rearguard action might win the game even though the retreating army lost he battle! The Song of Roland being brought to life!

    Using this bottom-up command/management perspective, siege warfare might be fun to play too. Managing your subordinates as they deal with boredom, disease, intrigue, duels of honour or vengeance, harassing enemy raids, securing lines of supply, etc. could make investing a castle or a fortified town a fun game without necessitating a suicidal frontal attack.

    How could subordinates be managed? That’s a question for the game designer to work out. Skill tests, contested rolls based on trait scores, whatever you need to get it right. C&Cs would also have traits and strengths/weaknesses but unlike subordinates they would not be randomly determined, but would rather be bought by players before the start of the game or campaign. Then players would use their traits and abilities to shape the intelligence gathering, preparations, execution and exploitation/resolution of the conflict at hand. Scenarios could include non-combat challenges which the C&C might have to use prescious resources to manage (like disease, shortages of monies, malnutrition or bad food among the troops, the arrival of the Dominicans and their Inquisition, etc. to add additional frictions into the mix.

    Oh, and then there is the battle too! Giscard de Tours is a drunken sot, prone to debauchery but is a formidable and charismatic subordinate whose followers idolise him and who is prone to impetuos military improvisation. Haloric of Aachen is a cunning polititician but a poor combatant and only a fair sub-commander but he is ambitious and well connected politically and financially. Bishop Imar – the Hammer of God is a religious fanatic and a brutal Church Militant who will never spare a Saracen or a heretic but who has the ears of the Pope and his bankers. Bezu the Barbican is a clever and resourceful mercenary with formidable tactical skills and very well trained soldiers, but he does not want to waste the lives of his well-trained men and will wait until the moment is right to strike, even if his C&C thinks otherwise. How will each player manage a preparation for battle and a battle with four or five such individuals as subordinates serving them? There’s your C3I challenge! Now have at it and then we’ll begin pushing pretty lead minis about the table while you both sort that out.

    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson.

    #200730
    Avatar photoJustin Swanton
    Participant

    Each subordinate will have a small suite of “moves” which he (or she) will use in combat or conflict.

    Here’s the nub: how do you quantify that small suite of moves? How can you determine how a commander with a particular personality will behave in the kaleidoscope of circumstances that each battle offers? Or in other words, you have to have a particular behaviour that that brand of commander can be reasonably expected to show in the appropriate situation. An impetuous commander is prone to attack, but he won’t invariably charge the enemy the moment deployment is complete. So what is ‘impetuous military improvisation’ as imposed by the rules?  What are ‘formidable tactical skills’ that ‘will wait until the moment is right to strike’?

    My best suggestion is to add a victory loss penalty for a commander that is killed (the cautious type) and a victory bonus reward for a commander whose unit routs an enemy unit (the impetuous type). Do something to make the player himself act cautiously or impetuously with his commanders. Of course, you can’t make the miniatures smarter than the player. Formidable tactical skills don’t happen if he is a klutz tactician.

    https://wargamingwithoutdice.blogspot.com/

    #200757
    Avatar photoRod Robertson
    Participant

    Here’s the nub: how do you quantify that small suite of moves? How can you determine how a commander with a particular personality will behave in the kaleidoscope of circumstances that each battle offers? Or in other words, you have to have a particular behaviour that that brand of commander can be reasonably expected to show in the appropriate situation. An impetuous commander is prone to attack, but he won’t invariably charge the enemy the moment deployment is complete. So what is ‘impetuous military improvisation’ as imposed by the rules? What are ‘formidable tactical skills’ that ‘will wait until the moment is right to strike’?

    My best suggestion is to add a victory loss penalty for a commander that is killed (the cautious type) and a victory bonus reward for a commander whose unit routs an enemy unit (the impetuous type). Do something to make the player himself act cautiously or impetuously with his commanders. Of course, you can’t make the miniatures smarter than the player. Formidable tactical skills don’t happen if he is a klutz tactician.

    Justin Swanton:

    I agree with your solution, if you want a top-down wargame where you and your opponent(s) make all the decisions in the game. But if you want to better simulate the dynamics of command and control (which was often nonexistent) in a Dark Age or Medieval battle, then you must should allow for decentralised and often irrational decision making among your subordinate commanders. Unless you were an axe-wielding Clovis, or a bureaucrat weilding Charlemagne or a Byzantine commanding Comnenus, you did not have top down control of your subordinates during the battle or even in the planning stages before it. Decisions were made by consensus (rarely) or by the overall leader cajoling, imploring, threatening and other ad hoc methods, before the battle began. Once combat was underway the overall commander had far less control and could only influence, not control events during battle unless he had a ready and capable reserve which was loyal and obedient to him/her, in which case he/her could enter combat directly. The decision making moved to the “battle commanders” in the melee and away from the overall leader. He/she was now just one of the battle commanders.

    The small suite of moves are default actions which the subordinate commanders will take unless the C&C expends precious and scarce resources to influence or intimidate the battle commander to do something else. Then rolls are made to see how the influence/intimidation went and if successful the C&C can pick a “move” from his own tool box and substitute it in place of one of the battle commander’s default moves. If the rolls are not successful then the C&C must limit his/her choices to subordinate default moves or doing nothing. If the C&C finds its immediate retinue in melee combat then no influence rolls can be made except with friendly and unbroken units which the C&C’s stand is in direct contact with at some point in the turn.

    This means that players will be forced to choose suboptimal “moves” from their subordinate commanders much of the time as they cannot influence/control everything going on on the field of battle before them. That’s managing bottom-up command from the top, when possible. A totally different can of beans.

    So yes, if your commanding a Byzantine army or a Mongol Empire army, then your solution is sound. But if your in charge of a First Crusade army, a French peasant levy dominated force or an army of Viking raiders in Ireland, where there is no clear command structure in place and no real effective default control over subordinates, then a decentralised and bottom-up command management structure should be considered and (pardon the anachronism) surfed like a wave to victory or defeat.

    Your suggestions are excellent solutions from the gamer’s standpoint but if you want the chaotic and dynamic flavour of Dark Age and Medieval C&C, then more is needed, in my very humble opinion. However I am but one voice among many and am certainly not an authority on this matter, so large grains of salt should season my points served up here.

    Cheers, good gaming and a very thought provoking discussion – thank you! I am looking forward to reading more here.

    Rod Robertson.

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