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This topic contains 46 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  Jerboa 2 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #52823

    Jerboa
    Participant

    Hello,

    About 4 years ago I lost interest in dice games or other random engines for miniatures wargaming.

    I had tried to develop wargame rules that were technically perfect, with no gray areas, with the main objective of minimizing the luck factor in the game outcomes and maximize player’s skill. I had extensive tournament experience, first with DBA 1.1, 2.0; and then with the Arcane Warfare series of games, including 6 versions in total. All were published after having run at least one tournament. From all of my experiments I have concluded that the type of game I wanted could not be done with dice.

    The next step was to go diceless.
    On TMP I got info about Ebb and Flow of Battle, from Anschluss Publishing, by Peter Heath. The author calls his system ‘histogamming’ and uses situational charts to decide the battle outcome, with written orders. I do not know about the exact publication date, seems to be around 1988. I would like to know about the original publishing date of the first of the series, the only one that seems to have included the rules.
    On BGG I learned about Chris Engle’s ‘Ein Ritter Spiel’, which gave origin to a series of games that the author calls ‘matrix’, from 1995. I have contacted Chris and he was kind enough to send me a pdf of Centurion, a latter game using a square chess like grid and a deterministic matrix for combat resolution. His ideas look very good and I must play the game as soon as I can, despite likely predictable outcomes.
    Finally there is AWE 10 just published in November 2016, using a dialog frame and hidden combat factors, preventing deterministic outcomes, in at least 90% of the fights. I still do not know how to classify it.

    The reason why I post here, is to trying to find other wargame rules where randomness is not part of the engine, or where it represents a very minor part. Any more info would be much appreciated for my ongoing investigation on this most fascinating theme.

    • This topic was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by  Jerboa.
    • This topic was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by  Jerboa. Reason: spelling

    http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htm

    #52826
    Mike
    Mike
    Keymaster

    Finally there is AWE 10 just published in November 2016, using a dialog frame and hidden combat factors, preventing deterministic outcomes, in at least 90% of the fights.

    How does it play?
    Once both players have set up is it pretty already decided who will win?

    #52837
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    On TMP I got info about Ebb and Flow of Battle, from Anschluss Publishing, by Peter Heath. The author calls his system ‘histogamming’ and uses situational charts to decide the battle outcome, with written orders. I do not know about the exact publication date, seems to be around 1988. I would like to know about the original publishing date of the first of the series, the only one that seems to have included the rules.

    It was first advertised in Wargames Illustrated 015 dated November 1988.  This was Ebb and Flow of Battle: Module 1: The 1809 Campaign in the Valley of the Danube and Italy.  It was followed in 1989 by Module 2: The  1813 campaign.  Both of these had rules in.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #52838
    Rules Junkie Jim
    Rules Junkie Jim
    Participant

    It’s been a while since I played these, so I can’t remember exactly how much dice throwing (if any) was involved, but Irregular Miniatures Franco-Prussian to WW1 rules-in-a-box used a table to determine casualties, with modifiers for troop quality, cover, range, gun-type etc. There might have been a die thrown in some morale situations, but I think that was about it. I think their Ancients and Napoleonic versions of the rules were similar in that respect.

    #52842

    Jerboa
    Participant

    Finally there is AWE 10 …

    How does it play? Once both players have set up is it pretty already decided who will win?

    Hi Mike,

    The game requires the use of Combat Tiles (CT). These are done with magnetic sheet covering the bases undersides. The tiles are steel paper displaying a number of swords, important to decide the combat.
    In this version factors (swords) are only 1 to 3. This means that ties are frequent and you have to take in consideration other factors, like troop type, terrain and base depth, that can be decisive for each fight. There are no indecisive attack outcomes.
    Therefore you see nothing on the table top but the miniatures and their bases.
    On high to mid level play you try to figure out the enemy strength on the centre or a flank,  before commiting to a major attack. Please note that players secretly allocate the 1, 2 or 3 tiles. Strength 3 tiles are very important, but by default an army will only get 11-12 of those for 34-36 bases in the basic game, about 1/3.
    In the initial stages of the battle the most important factors will be to use light or disposable troops, trying to soften the enemy line, or to skirmish, an ‘attack’ option that can provide information about the true troop strength. With skirmishing you get no casualties, only information or forced moves that can be used in your favour.
    There are no random factors but on the other hand there is a strong bluff component, as you try to lure the enemy into an unfavourable situation, for example by making him believe your main strength is in the centre, while you real strength is concentrated elsewhere, like on a flank.
    As a side note, each time there is a true charge both sides lose combat power and will have to replace CT with lower value ones,  so gradually more information will be revealed. But you may freely swap CT within each area after combat is over!
    As you can see there are no predictable outcomes at all, unless you can figure out exactly what strength is within a certain area, which is possible but very difficult.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by  Jerboa. Reason: Clarification

    http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htm

    #52843

    Jerboa
    Participant

    Irregular Miniatures Franco-Prussian to WW1 rules-in-a-box used a table to determine casualties, with modifiers for troop quality, cover, range, gun-type etc. There might have been a die thrown in some morale situations, but I think that was about it.

    Interesting, I’ll try to see if I can buy the Ancient or Naps version of those.

    http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htm

    #52845

    Jerboa
    Participant

    It was first advertised in Wargames Illustrated 015 dated November 1988. This was Ebb and Flow of Battle: Module 1: The 1809 Campaign in the Valley of the Danube and Italy. It was followed in 1989 by Module 2: The 1813 campaign. Both of these had rules in.

    Good. I knew about Modules 3 and 4, I think, but had no clue about Module 2. Later Modules only had rules amendments, not the full rules, I’m quite sure.

    http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htm

    #52852
    Shaun Travers
    Shaun Travers
    Participant

    Two Ancients diceless wargames I am aware of listed below.  Both use ratios of various unit factors to determine outcomes

    Phalanx by Phil Sabin:

    https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/13334/phalanx

    Bill Banks Ancients (original) that had an option for diceless combat:

    https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/1782/ancients

    Phalanx got favourable reviews and AARs in the society of Ancients Slingshot many years ago. Bill Banks Ancients diceless I played a few times PBEM and was quite interesting.  Bill Banks Ancients is also easily converted to a miniatures game, which I have also done.

     

    #52872

    Jerboa
    Participant

    Sabins’s games, known from SOA, use dice. Both Stratego (have a copy somewhere) and Lost Battles are listed in BGG within the dice mechanism category.

    Ancient’s, current deluxe version 3.1 uses dice in most critical steps, therefore a former non random version does not seem to have been successful: but I’ll try to find it if I can, namely by posting on BGG.

    I’m intrigued with Irregular Miniatures rules-in-a-box, but these are not listed in their site. But using dice to determine morale may means that luck will maybe determine the end game. Further investigations are required.

     

    http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htm

    #52879
    John D Salt
    John D Salt
    Participant

    I seem to remember that SPI’s “Grenadier” made minimal use of dice, as the writer considered that a “chess-like” approach to the game was reflective of the period. I don’t think any other authors of games or rules on the period have agreed.

    The boardgame “Epaminondas” employs mechanisms that might cheerfully be stolen to represent hoplite warfare, and indeed could be regarded as a very sylised representation of it, rather than as an abstract game. It is played on a 12 x 14 board, players facing each other across the short length. Each player as 28 pieces on his first two ranks. Pieces move as a “phalanx”, a number of pieces in a straight (diagonal or orthogonal) line. A single piece can move one space; a 2-long phalanx, 2 spaces; a 3-long phalanx, 3 spaces, and so on. When one phalanx moves into contact with another phalanx, the smaller phalanx is destroyed (all pieces in the phalanx removed). If the phalanges are equal, the moving one is destroyed. The depth of the defending phalanx is determined by the direction of the attacking phalanx. The winner is the first to have more of his own pieces on the enemy baseline than the enemy has on the first player’s baseline, at the end of the enemy turn.

    Quite a few wargamey-type games (notably Battleships, and the Dover Patrol/L’Attaque family) use secrecy as a substitute for randomness. This stll makes the game a question of luck rather than skill in most cases, despite the lack of cards or dice as randomness generators. After all, you would hardly consider Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock to be a game of skill, would you?

    One of Courtney Allen’s suggestions in his splendid “Storm over Arnhem” area-movement game was to replace dice rolls — combat resolution was by opposed 2d6 dice rolls added to attack/defence factors — with a bunch of chits numbered 1 to 6. Instead of rolling 2d6, each player secretly selects two chits from his stock, and the combat is resolved using those. The effect here is not to eliminate randomness, but to ensure that each side gets a fair allocation of “luck” over the course of a game.

    A somewhat similar mechanism was used in Graham Evans’ magnificent “Hurried Hydaspes” game at COW a couple of years ago. In this case, instead of a stock of chits, each side received half a pack of playing cards, which they assigned to combats to show their allocation of effort. The real stroke of brilliance of these rules, in my opinion, was that once a side had expended all its cards, it was exhausted, and lost the game. This gave real point to diversionary and spoiling attacks using light troops to try to provoke the other side into committing the best cards too early or for too little gain.

    Personally, I think it requires more skill and judgement to deal with random factors than deterministic ones, and from the simulation point of view there can hardly be any doubt that real combat phenomena exhibit a high degree of stochasticity. But is interesting to see where designers have applied “less random” approaches.

    One place where I have recently seen professional wargame designers deliberately eiliminate randomness was in the conceptual force wargames played at Sandhurst over the last couple of years. This was done partly to avoid the Army officers involved dismissing the wargames as “dungeons and dragons” if dice were produced — in the event we needn’t have worried about that, as the officers involved were sufficiently intelligent to appreciate the significance of random variation in real operations. The other reason was that the function of the games was not to establish winners and losers, but to produce insights into the conceptual forces being tried out, so this required combat results to be argued about and agreed upon to an extent not achievable in a competitive amateur tabletop game.

    Of course the other style of game where randomness can be completely absent is the free kriegspiel; in this case, results depend entirely on the decision of the umpire. Lots of COW games that are freeish — committee games, muggergames, some matrix games — may share levels of umpire control near this, but, again, they tend to be games were competitiveness is not emphasised, and players are instead simply trying to move the narrative forward.

    Finally — how could I forget — there’s H G Wells’ “Little Wars”, and Fletcher Pratt’s naval wargame. Both require skill rather than luck; Wells in the ability to aim and fire toy cannon, and Pratt in the ability to estimate ranges. Despite the importance of both games in the history of the hobby, and the recent revival of each at COW, neither, I think, is a very good wargame.

    All the best,

    John.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by John D Salt John D Salt.
    #52880
    Mike
    Mike
    Keymaster

    Not sure if anything can be taken from Stratego.
    Simple but fun.

     

    #52885
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Sabins’s games, known from SOA, use dice. Both Stratego (have a copy somewhere) and Lost Battles are listed in BGG within the dice mechanism category.

    Shaun Travers is perfectly correct: Phalanx can be played without dice. From the blurb at the beginning of the version published in Wargames Illustrated 087:

    “Phalanx is rather like a cross between DBA and Chess. It may even be played entirely without dice if players want a pure contest of skill, though most people will prefer to include the element of chance to reflect the unpredictability of ancient battles…”

     

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #52887
    Mike
    Mike
    Keymaster

    Not sure if anything can be taken from Stratego. Simple but fun.

    Both Stratego (have a copy somewhere) and Lost Battles are listed in BGG within the dice mechanism category.

     

    ah I failed to read what others said before me.

     

    nub

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Mike Mike. Reason: learning to use forums
    #52892

    Jerboa
    Participant

    Non random great boardgames are well known. Statego is one of them, Napoleon’s Triumph is another.
    The important aspect about these games is that they are played using anonymous wooden blocks, so their engine cannot apply to miniature wargames. While you may consider that luck is involved, as it is in real life events, that’s not the point. The point is that in games such as Stratego, all outcomes depend on players decisions, not pure luck. Players secretly place their forces, a major strategic decision, then decide how to move to reach their objectives.
    No randomizers does not mean luck is not involved. For example I have played Go at low tournament level; there – as in chess – you can occasionally see a ‘bad move’ turning latter into a good move: that’s luck.
    We all know an example of Stratego’s logic applied to ancients gaming, mixed with opposed dice rolling. But dice rolling at that level turns the game into a dice game, where luck prevails in the end, besides reasonably predictable outcomes.

    Experienced unbiased boardgamers I know have also turned down wargames for being dice games. And I had military professionals playing Ambush Blitz with counters because they could understand what dice meant in that context, of a light battlefield representation. That does not invalidate that games that are decided by dice rolling are just dice games, where luck plays a major part.
    AWE 10 claims that it has no written orders or randomizers. Nowhere it is claimed that luck is absent. But the difference that can be experienced by playing with dice or with own decisions only is eloquent enough.
    In the end it will mostly a question of personal taste ou sensibility, not necessarily IQ.

    http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htm

    #52893

    Jerboa
    Participant

    Sabins’s games, known from SOA, use dice. Both Stratego (have a copy somewhere) and Lost Battles are listed in BGG within the dice mechanism category.

    Shaun Travers is perfectly correct: Phalanx can be played without dice. From the blurb at the beginning of the version published in Wargames Illustrated 087: “Phalanx is rather like a cross between DBA and Chess. It may even be played entirely without dice if players want a pure contest of skill, though most people will prefer to include the element of chance to reflect the unpredictability of ancient battles…”

    You are both right.
    In fact I had written Stratego and that is the boardgame, it should be Strategos.
    Phalanx do qualify as a non random game perfectly, must buy one copy. I suspect of a deterministic mechanism, maybe with predictable outcomes, no written orders, plus it predates Centurion (1993 to 1995).

    http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htm

    #52894

    Jerboa
    Participant

    From our Arcane Warfare Project group someone dropped info relevant to this discussion:

    The Perfect Brigadier: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/12630/complete-brigadier

    Published in 1982, it predates even Ebb and Flow! Situational resolution with charts and… written orders.

    http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htm

    #52896
    Shaun Travers
    Shaun Travers
    Participant

    Phalanx was originally and some competitions played with it as originally written without any dice involved.  But people missed that element of chance so Phil added in a die roll for luck – at the start of a turn roll a d6, a 1 indicates one defense bonus or reduce command, a 6 can add one attack bonus or increase command.  My copy of the rules is via Slingshot, the SOA did produce a version to buy but no longer available.  A slightly simplified Phalanx I think is available in the Society of Ancients yahoo groop File section, but not sure.

    The current version of Ancients (Ancients Deluxe) is quite different from the original version and uses different mechanisms for command and combat.  The original used combat factor ratios and an outcome table (based on the ration and a d56 roll to determine the result) for melee.  The current version does not.  For the original version is was quite easy to then convert the combat table to be non-deterministic i.e.

    1-2: Attacker disordered

    1:1: Melee

    2:1: Defender disordered

    3:1 : Defender destroyed.

    It definitely was a viable option for the original game but would not really work so well into current Ancients Deluxe.  The original version was available as a bunch of PDFs but I think that site went long ago – it may still be available on the web archives.

    #52909

    Jerboa
    Participant

    Categories I get so far from this discussion, plus info I could gather by checking the rules:

    Boardgames (that could be adapted): Ancients (1986); Phalanx (1993); and Centurion (1995-2015)

    Published as Miniature Wargames:
    – The Complete Brigadier (1982)
    – The Ebb and Flow of Battle (1988)
    – AWE 10 (2016)

    I’m mainly trying to focus on the second group; attempting to add to this restricted list.
    Must gather more info on the other titles.

    http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htm

    #53058

    Jerboa
    Participant

    I’ve been thinking about Rock-Paper-Scissors mechanism as opposed to a die roll.

    A die roll is pure luck, Rock-Paper-Scissors is luck combined with intuition. If I had to choose one or another as an indicator of skill, I’d chose the second.

    Dice give you probabilities sure, so you can study the probability for a given outcome in a given situation. You can even consider that skill applies and that had been my reasoning for over 20 years. Regardless the result is random because dice are pure randomizers . In fact the randomness weight in each game is not the same, that’s why in AWE up to 5th edition we had favoured decision making over dice rolling. But even in that instance practice has proven that luck was the main deciding factor. Luck weight is a lot higher in all mainstream games, meaning those written as miniature wargames, the true topic.

    http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htm

    #53082
    norm smith
    norm smith
    Participant

    By far, I prefer dice. I do not see them as a pure randomiser, but more as part of the story-telling and important in bringing some chaos and to rob the ‘God-Like’ player of that all seeing eye. The biggest problem that I have with diceless games is their tendency to be non-solitaire friendly.

    What does surprise me is that the D6 has reigned supreme for so long, when two D10’s can give percentages and an Average Dice (2,3,3,4,4,6) gives a much flatter range of variables, thus removing the swing effects of 1’s and 6’s.

    http://commanders.simdif.com

    #53084
    Mike
    Mike
    Keymaster

    I must admit I prefer the lack of range a D6 gives you.

    I recall one set of rules, many moons ago that used D10 and modifiers from -5 to +5 that were cumulative to other mods, getting a modifier of +10 on a d10 roll was not uncommon.
    This for me allowed far too much randomness and left too much up to pure luck.

    #53091
    John D Salt
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Jerboa wrote:

    A die roll is pure luck, Rock-Paper-Scissors is luck combined with intuition.

    As intuition generally has the same predictive power as pure chance, combining it with luck leaves just luck.

    To be sure, people are typically dreadful when it comes to thinking of random things, so it may be possible to spot patterns in an opponent’s choices; but what is this supppsed to add to the game? And, of course, knowing the human weakness in selecting random samples, a rational player would roll a die in order to decide what to play.

    Unfortunately some wargame designers seem to have some very odd ideas about probability, under which heading I would certainly classify the bizarre belief that including dice in a game immediately makes the outcome subject of mere chance. This just isn’t the case, and no amount of repetition will make it so. Likewise, the presence of six, ten, or n-sided dice just determines how many slices probability is going to be chopped up into; a probability is still constrained to be in the range 0 to 1, and the sidedness of the dice doesn’t change that one bit. What range of outcomes the rules specify is a function of the rules, not the dice. Without knowing more about the rules Mike alludes to it is impossible to say how bunched or spread the range of outcomes are, but it does seem odd to object to the 10 sides of the dice rather than the +10 modifiers (which are presumably deterministic).

    A lot of phenomena are deterministic in most wargames. It is quite rare for movement rates to be randomised, and the turn sequence is usually deterministic. Randomness is overwhelmingly used for combat resolution — understandably, as real-life combat processes are ineluctably stochastic. Most wargames avoid the tedious business of surveillance and target acquisition, but where it is modelled I think deterministic detection distances are more usual than random procedures — despite the fact that detection, too, is stochastic in real life.

    It would be good to think that wargames designers think carefully about which phenomena should be stochastic, and which deterministic, when designing a game; but I doubt that happens as much as I would like.

    I have just thought of a staggeringly rare example of a deterministic game that is in my opinion both a good game and a credible simulation. The game is NORAD, SDC’s boardgame of a Soviet nuclear bomber attack on the USA in the 1960s. The Soviet player has a fleet of bomber counters; the US (and Canadian) player a bunch of interceptor fighters and SAMs. Interceptors destroy bombers automatically up to 6 hexes; SAMs destroy bombers automatically if they fly over the city where they are located; bombers move 4 hexes and destroy cities automatically. All combats are mutual annihilations — SAMs are expended, interceptors will not be able to refuel and rearm within the time limit of the game, and bombers are flipped to their mushroom-cloud side, because, really, who cares whether the bomber survives or gets home if Boston has been nuked? The slight element of variation is added by giving the US player dummy SAMs and the Russian player dummy bombers, which can be used to bluff the opponent into wasting a piece. For some reason the game never scored highly in S&T’s acceptability rating tables — whether because it was too simple for most wargamers’ tastes, or because it involved nuking the USA, I never did discover.

    All the best,

    John.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by John D Salt John D Salt.
    #53095

    Jerboa
    Participant

    Jerboa wrote:

    A die roll is pure luck, Rock-Paper-Scissors is luck combined with intuition.

    As intuition generally has the same predictive power as pure chance, combining it with luck leaves just luck.

    I understand well where you stand. But I’ve played coin games that are no much different from Rock-Paper-Scissors and there are thinking patterns underlying each actual bet. In fact you try to anticipate your opponent choices and you do choose.
    In dice rolling there is no choice, let’s say it is less involving. Plus, there are scientific studies that prove that human anticipation for the results of a random draw are above the random average: those studies were done with card drawing trying to guess what color, number ,etc.
    But mathematically I can accept that’s exactly as you say.
    So I would conclude this is again about personal preference: someone might feel more motivated when called to take a guessing decision.

    http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htm

    #53096

    Mr. Average
    Participant

    Jerboa wrote:

    …real-life combat processes are ineluctably stochastic.

    Ineluctably stochastic?  Be honest, John – how long have you been waiting to work those words into a conversation?

    While I find the ideas here very interesting (and I’m hardly able to add my experience as I don’t have very much), in my own experience, deterministic games don’t usually turn out to be very fun games.  They can be very important games, of course – they can be training for response in uncontrolled situations, like HQ nuclear exercises, public response drills, or signals wargames.  But those sorts of things don’t tend to be a lot of fun on the tabletop because they require an awful lot of programming beforehand and tend to pre-determine a result, in which case, it’s hard to encourage someone to play a side they know is supposed to lose.  And trying to totally do away with the element of chance just doesn’t reflect how things work in the real world.  If it did, Market Garden would have worked, Moscow would have fallen in 1941, the Union would probably have lost the Battle of Antietam, and Thermopylae would have been a walkover.  Time and chance happeneth to them all.

    I hasten to add that Chess, Checkers and the like are exceptions due to their high level of abstraction.  I also don’t want to make any grand representations about my way being the only way.  This is, in fact, a very interesting challenge intellectually.  But it’s also quite a rabbit hole.

    #53097

    Jerboa
    Participant

    It would be good to think that wargames designers think carefully about which phenomena should be stochastic, and which deterministic, when designing a game; but I doubt that happens as much as I would like.

    When I sit to play a game I want something that can challenge my mind. Elimination of randomness from a wargame results in a deterministic game, chess like. I have identified – with your help – two Miniature Wargames and several boardgames that have gone that way.
    This is not a good approach for me, exactly because removing all randomness eliminates the felling of emotion that that turns a wargame into something enjoyable. But there is a stronger reason, non-stochastic games do provide the best intellectual challenge, but those must be almost absolutely symmetric, something a credible miniatures wargame is not.
    I think the Stratego boardgame is a fine example of balance between randomness and determinism. The setup is very important and underlines a strategy. Then the moves  proceed and luck is involved, the risk, because you do not always know what pieces you are attacking.
    I think that considering Stratego a gaming driven by luck in the same degree of a dice game is not reasonable. The proof is that a human playing against a computer, after learning the AI level will win about 90% of the games or above. I did experiments myself and got to the point of winning close to 100%, or 1 if you like. This is not possible with games driven by dice, when all combat is random and sometimes the morale break level too.
    Defending this is the same as dice rolling is untenable.
    With backgammon and 2d6 rolling the absolute winning rate is much lower: a skilled player will win more often but a bad combination of the dice will defeat any.

    Using dummy units is very appropriate in boardgames but tedious in miniature wargames. Some designers do that and the result is counters spread over the table, not the minis we love to see.

    BTW: in my 18-28’s I did experiment with square wood squares representing a finite number of scores, representing a pool that could be exhausted, plus the dummy units. These I quickly turned both down as I mastered the techniques.

    http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htm

    #53098

    Jerboa
    Participant
    But those sorts of things don’t tend to be a lot of fun on the tabletop because they require an awful lot of programming beforehand and pre-determine a result, in which case, it’s hard to encourage someone to play a side they know is supposed to lose. And trying to totally do away with the element of chance just doesn’t reflect how things work in the real world. If it did, Market Garden would have worked, Moscow would have fallen in 1941, the Union would probably have lost the Battle of Antietam, and Thermopylae would have been a walkover. Time and chance happeneth to them all.
    That’s the point. Finding a balance between deterministic mechanisms, like the absolute superiority of Go as a mind game, in contrast to high level randomness found in dice games.
    And yes, there are many historical examples or randomness maybe prevailing, like troops having to march before breakfast! Lake Trasimenus comes to mind. Or was this fact a deterministic occurrence, forced by enemy decisions? This is quite open to subjective interpretation.
    But dice as used in wargames are a step to far in the random direction: that’s why so may involved gamers do avoid miniature wargames.
    I do think I have found something very close to the ideal balance, but unfortunately I’m biased and I do not way want to spoil this great discussion with a strong personal opinion. In fact my experience tells me that I learn the most from abstract discussions, such as this one, and learning is something that I treasure very much, even above my ego.

    http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htm

    #53103
    norm smith
    norm smith
    Participant

    I recently played a WWII games, tanks advanced and were fired upon by mortars, I got a suppression result on a tank – something that I questioned at first as a realistic result. After some consideration, I decided that the tank commander had been head and shoulders out of the turret and had caught some blast effect temporarily putting them out of sorts (it could so easily have been track or optics damage or a tree / building being damage and falling in front of them or cratering etc). It is that sort of thing that hits and misses on dice represent in my mind and to my enjoyment of the game. I then spent several turn rolling to get them back into action, no doubt the other crew were tending his wounds. It was also a game that I was playing solitaire – so a bonus in that regard.

    It strikes me that all wargaming requires some level of abstraction, as the reality of simulating such a complicated thing accurately by rules alone seems an unlikely achievement, especially at the more tactical level.

     

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by norm smith norm smith.

    http://commanders.simdif.com

    #53114
    MartinR
    MartinR
    Participant

    I don’t think anything which involves cards, hidden strength chits or whatever can be described as ‘non random’, it makes the range of probabilities more interesting and involves some guesswork, but at the end of the day, it is just that, educated guesswork. It just doesn’t tfeel like throwing a dice.

    The combat system in Warlord was particularly fiendish in this respect (attacker selects a number from 1-6 modified by terrain, which is the number of armies who will enter the target zone if victorious, but if the defender guesses the number, they are all lost).

    Phil Sabin has done a few deterministic games, his Kriegspiel 1914  is completely deterministiuc as is his version of a Clausewitzian Napoleonic battle in ‘Simulating War’.  The excitement comes because these are both simultaneous movement (and ideally double blind for 1914) games.

    Jim Wallmans latest grand tactical set for modern warfare is entirely deterministic, but again relies on double blind, and some of Tom Moauts professional wargames are too – just add up a list of modifiers and compare the force ratios to find the outcome. Rather similar to Dupuys combat model, which is also completely deterministic, as well as Biddles in ‘Military Power’. The latter are both for predicting operational outcomes though.

    I rather like cards, but figuring out how to avoid having to design custom card decks for every single game can be a chore.

     

     

     

     

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #53115
    Olivero
    Olivero
    Participant

    Hi, interesting discussion here, triggers my first active participation on the forum.

    In the discussion I miss the point that most wargames rules (that I know of) use dice as a deliberate measure to achive unpredictability. All (more or less) could theoretically be used without rolling dice (using only those “factors” that exist, I believe Empires: Diceless Edition Rules is an example of that). Of course this would break them and make them unplayable, but only because they were designed to have that random factor included. I guess that descision is made not only because it makes for a more fun game but also a more realistic game, as life (and war) is not deterministic (at least for us with limited information – whole different area of discussion here). And I have read many rules that are critisized for not being random enough, meaning the influence of the dice on mainly the combat outcome is considered too little. So I am confused about the problem in the first place, because a games designer can modify the impact of dice rolling to his (or her) rules anyway he likes. 

    On the other hand I do cherish bluffing and trying to assess the thoughts of other players, so I am actually tempted to have a closer, in-depth look into AWE 10.

    P.S.: I think some wargamers shun boardgames that do not use dice, for much of the same reasons.

    #53125
    Whirlwind
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    I think that considering Stratego a gaming driven by luck in the same degree of a dice game is not reasonable. The proof is that a human playing against a computer, after learning the AI level will win about 90% of the games or above. I did experiments myself and got to the point of winning close to 100%, or 1 if you like. This is not possible with games driven by dice, when all combat is random and sometimes the morale break level too.

    I don’t understand the thinking behind this.  I bet you would win by the same margin in lots of wargames with an explicit dice or random number generation combat resolution system against the AI.

     

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #53127

    Chris Pringle
    Participant

    Personally, I think it requires more skill and judgement to deal with random factors than deterministic ones, and from the simulation point of view there can hardly be any doubt that real combat phenomena exhibit a high degree of stochasticity.

    Seconded on both counts. I like a healthy dose of dice-generated variability in games, for the above reasons, and also because it protects my fragile little ego when I lose. Chess is much too raw!

    A die roll is pure luck

    But the situation in which the die roll occurs is not. There is skill in generating situations in which the probabilities are advantageous. And while you may be unlucky on any one given roll, multiply it over many rolls and you can reasonably expect superior skill to win out.

    the result is random because dice are pure randomizers . In fact the randomness weight in each game is not the same […] practice has proven that luck was the main deciding factor. Luck weight is a lot higher in all mainstream games, meaning those written as miniature wargames.

    And getting to my point … in a game where, say, the players roll 2D6 300-400 times, and where at least half the time a roll 1 higher or lower would  produce the same result, how likely is it that one side’s dice will be significantly luckier than another’s? Is there a statistician in the house who could comment?

    I can understand the desire (even if I don’t share it) to eliminate randomness in a quest to create a contest of pure skill. But I’d be interested in some hard numbers that indicate the weight that luck might really have. Certainly in the games I play, the winning side has generally made its own luck through a superior plan and/or superior execution. Mind you we also have the possibility of a draw (another useful bit of ego-protection!), so I suppose that does eliminate a proportion of the results in the middle where the sides have fought with equal skill and the result – because it has to be win/lose – is therefore down to the fine margin provided by luck.

    Interesting discussion, anyway. Thanks, Jerboa!

    Chris

    Bloody Big BATTLES!

    https://uk.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/BBB_wargames/info

    http://bloodybigbattles.blogspot.co.uk/

     

    #53146

    Jerboa
    Participant

    This has been a good discussion so a summary is in order by the one having initiated it, so that ideas can settle.
    It is great that some have found it interesting; it is relevant that the theme has provoked the first participation post on this site for a member, hopefully the first of many.
    I do not want to turn this discussion into a fight concerning your currently pet game, so any information on how AWE 10 effectively works must be moved into another topic, anyone can start one; no, it is not mainly about some magical ability of mind reading.

    There is the need to define a few terms so that communication can flow.

    Deterministic: events were all the variables are non-random.

    Random: refer to an event consisting of a single variable that cannot be predicted.

    Non-deterministic = random.

    Stochastic: refers to an event or system with multiple variables. If one or more variables are random then the system is automatically stochastic.

    Randomizer: a method to deliberately generate a random number or event.

    Luck: something that you have no control of and that can happen in any real life event.

    Dice are by definition random. If these are combined with deterministic variables then I think the best is speaking about a stochastic model, as has appropriately been done.
    Stochastic systems are well known for being totally or partially stochastic.
    Opposing non-modified die rolls are entirely stochastic (two random variables).

    Most wargame procedures are partially stochastic, for example I attack with a unit that has a Combat factor of 2, minus 1 for terrain and add a d6. For each procedure the stochastic level can be quantified, as based on the result’s range. In this example we have a range of possible results of 2 to 7, therefore the random part is 5 times higher than the deterministic influence. In most wargames the stochastic part is much higher than the deterministic: whatever you do the result will be based on luck: this is my experience for about 100 competition games, from Lisbon to Switzerland. I have not had the opportunity to play an AI for a miniature wargame: some do claim they have an AI version but for that the rules were modified in order to reduce the variables number, which is chaos level, to make it manageable.

    A system like Stratego includes no randomizers, no random variables, so by the above definition it would be deterministic. But some decisions are taken without knowing the immediate result. As the result is uncertain a stochastic component may be present, but please note that once all the information is revealed the result is deterministic.
    Luck is surely involved – in my opinion it does in all real life events – but that’s another issue.

    So my big question is: can a non-deterministic non-stochastic model exist? Or is Stratego just a deterministic system, with blind decisions preceding the final event resolution?
    If the latter is true, then the key for an enjoyable deterministic wargame might be the gradual revelation of information. I would call it a deterministic step decision model.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by  Jerboa.

    http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htm

    #53150
    Retroboom
    Retroboom
    Participant

    I haven’t finished the thread so far, but had to point out…

    “ineluctably stochastic” I had to look up not one, but both of these words. *smh*

    Carry on…

    www.RetroBoom.com
    Stafford, Va. Let's play!

    #53156
    John D Salt
    John D Salt
    Participant

    My apologies, I am so used to these $64 words that I sometimes forget to take my academic hat off and talk normal. “Ineluctably stochastic” is perfectly normal talk in almost all the day jobs I’ve done for the past 25 years or so. I should think I use the phrase on an almost hebdomedary basis.

    To avoid misleading definitions, let me say that if you hear “random” every time I say “stochastic”, you will not go far wrong. It is quite in order to have a system with a single stochastic variable. The only real distinction between “random” and “stochastic” is that in the latter we generally assume that the randomness results from sampling from a known probability distribution (with known parameters). The sum of 2d10 is a stochastic variable. “Random” might, in principle, be something even wilder than that, such as what Trump is going to tweet next.

    For reasons I’m not entirely clear about, but which might be no more than mere habit, people who do it for a living almost invariably refer to “stochastic simulation”, very seldom “Monte Carlo simulation” (its original name, as invented by George Gamow), and never, ever to “random simulation”.

    Mind, at one simulation lab where I worked, we proudly pointed out to the customer that our wonderful 3-D animated visualisations were not just “smnoke and mirrors”. Oh no. For the budget we were working on, you didn’t get smoke and mirrors, you got nebuliform particulate obscurants and specular reflective surfaces.

    All the best,

    John.

    #53158
    Olivero
    Olivero
    Participant

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>

    In this example we have a range of possible results of 2 to 8, therefore the random part is 5 times higher than the deterministic influence.

    Actually I don’t see it that way. As the mean of a d6 is 3.5, the random part should be “only” 3.5 times higher than the deterministic influence. Of course I could be wrong (should have paid more attention at university), but even more important is what has been said before: Where one die might be influenced more by the random part, x die are influenced less and when you throw a hundred the outcome is pretty deterministic: A unit with +1 will win more often than not.
    And that’s just as it should be. I specifically play wargames because they are not deterministic. A non-random approach to (war-)gaming implies that luch/randomness is and should be not part of the game. I can accept that for games, but not for anything claiming to be (or trying to approximate) a simulation – and that is what wargaming is about. Not only gaming, but at least in part simulation. You cannot have that without random influence. A real life situation (like a historic battle) can never be deterministic, meaning that random factors / luck are an integral part of reality, wheras a game determined only by skill is stepping away from being realistic.
    A deterministic approach implies that every relevant piece of information is available, yet not completely available to everyone. That’s the fun part. But it is not realistic. In a wargame / historic  battle the sum of the available information (combined from both sides) would not equal the relevant information. Even if one commander had full access to every bit of knowledge the other side had, he would still be in doubt wether sending in his reserves at a given point would be clever because of missing information (did centurio Claudius sleep well tonight or had the humidity been just to much  for our reserves of powder etc.) In a wargame that missing information is called “luck”. And luck can and should be somehow allowing for bad players to win against better players, because that is what could have happend (althoug rarely) in real-life.
    <p style=”text-align: left;”>

    In most wargames the stochastic part is much higher than the deterministic: whatever you do the result will be based on luck

    Actually I think there are many wargames where luck plays only a minor role. E.g.  in my limited experience the combat outcomes in DBx games are anything but random, rather a pretty deterministic thing, at least in the long run. For what I have heard it is never the combat dice people complain about regarding DBx, but the single command/pip-roll (and even that should even out over multiple games).
    Regarding Stratego: I like Strategos approach, but without a random factor it cannot be more than a game, never a simulation. You could introduce a random factor into a game (like stratego) by either giving the opposing player the chance to partely redeploy your own troops or maybe by broadly allocating positiv modifiers to different wings of your army but then allocating precise modifiers to units “face down” and revealing them to both sides only in the event of close combar or whatever.
    Sorry for the rant 😉

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Olivero Olivero.
    #53162

    Mr. Average
    Participant

    Well, John, I’m anaspeptic, phrasmotic, even compunctuous to have caused you such pericombobulation.

    😉

    #53195

    Jerboa
    Participant

    The purpose of this thread was to find games and authors that followed the deterministic or near deterministic road.

    One more boardgame came to sight:
    Battle: The Game of Generals (1979)
    This is relevant because it precedes the Complete Brigadier. Thanx to Mc Veigh

    I have not found so far another game published as Miniature rules without randomizers or written orders, besides AWE 10.

    I’m glad the discussion took the route of classifying games in general, but will not engage into particular game analysis deeper than a generic classification. That can be done elsewhere, but requires a high gentlemanly level, because of the risk of degenerating into a flame war. I’m willing to discuss anything at that level, especially game theory, even on  a particular game. But do not invite me to an historical wargame table based on dice.

    I’ve learnt that the large majority of the Miniature Wargames are partially stochastic systems.
    Non-random boardgames mentioned here are deterministic.
    The first two Miniature wargames in the list are deterministic, despite that The Brigadier includes a random part, partially stochastic.

    I believe that Stratego, plus AWE 10, could be described as deterministic step decision systems. Anyway this is only a tentative classification, it is very hard to me to be sure without pro confirmation.
    These types of generic classifications are a very interesting subject to me, thank you all. And some humor is certainly refreshing as we follow on the hard road.

     

    http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htm

    #53207
    Olivero
    Olivero
    Participant
    #53208

    Jerboa
    Participant

    Good!

    – Swords and Spells (1976)

    – Clash of Empires (1984); Iron and Fire (1984); Shock Army (1986)

    All of these are Miniature rules without random factors and written orders! They are on BGG but info is very limited.

    Must check the others.

    http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htm

    #53253
    Olivero
    Olivero
    Participant

    Just one more: Aurelian, http://www.sammustafa.com/honour/aurelian/ , review https://nickthelemming.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/review-aurelian/

    Uses cards instead of dice, kind of random, I guess, but less so, cause you stack your cards and use them when you think
    the right moment has come. Is not the first game to use such a mechanism, but what idea is original, anyway.
    
    
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