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It is the T34 model J, an experimental model in 1941 and produced in large numbers after being introduced in March 1942. The unique features are that it was a shortened version of the C / D models and to make that happen, it didn’t have an engine.
Though I recognize that your knowledge on this most obscure variant is impressive, on the model I have to point out that the return roller is too wide for this type and that it is missing one 1/4 circle rivet on the left rear. Disappointing.
For me the essence in miniatures wargaming has been the miniatures for nearly 4 decades. To have the miniatures I loved in action was the main drive force and I designed rules mainly to see my little gems interacting.
The miniatures are still the centre of the hobby, if you see how the real industry strives (or fails).
When I began (teens and early 20s) the ‘simulation’ part was key, after the minis. I saw the rules as an attempt to capture a sizeable part of the real events. For example we developed formulae to calculate a likely steel plate penetration at 0, 30 and 60 degree slope, when hit by a precise ammunition type at a certain angle.
But then I grew up. Influenced by great designers and my own experience I started to see that having rules with a top down perspective would allow for a more satisfying gaming experience, because the whole picture can be better portrayed and be closer to the source information on battles. For example in a technical approach of WW2 the Germans have a large edge, that it is just denied by reality, where factors of much higher importance, i.e. strategical level, prevail over the low tactical tank-vs-tank interaction details, with only a few of those being covered by rules. And we could fight games to an end.
So in the intermediate period I started to look and evaluate games based on outcomes, where the tactical details constitute at most flavour enhancements, not essencial core game engine elements.
But even in these periods I never saw any wargame as a true simulation, because the difference between the reality and rolling dice is just too large. Hard arguments about game ‘realism’ are just pretentious and not really worth discussing at a serious level. Plus experience dictates that realism is systematically attributed to the last mainstream hype, often contradicting former still fresh arguments.
Finally the importance of the game part grew larger. As time became more and more scarce, and awareness of the game dynamics increased, having a satisfying intellectual experience while playing became essential, otherwise gaming felt just like wasted precious time.
In this respect I tend to think that that the quality of the game is now the most important factor. Yet miniatures are still very important, otherwise I would be designing boardgames: I could even become successful then!
But no, the miniatures part might still rule, because I’m just writing in here.
In form of a conclusion, I have to admit that miniature wargames is still mainly about THE MINIATURES.
This not a question of game types.
Percentile games are in fact a bit different, but not that much. Each roll represent a probability for an event. With d6 it’s 1/6, etc, also a probability.
But with a range of 1 to 100 you risk letting the stochastic component of the game getting extremely high.
Overall the principle still applies: you can roll thousands of times, but it will not be true that rolling more will allow for player skill to sand out of randomness.
I should have not presented actual examples of play in this case, they are mostly casual and irrelevant.
Not sure if everyone knows how Swords & Spells worked, but FWIW, It was by applying the average of D&D hit dice of attack weapons and beings represented. A stand of 10 men wearing mail and shield and carrying longswords has hit dice or defensive value of: 3.5 (average of a d6) x 10 = 35 and attack value of 45 for long swords which have an attack dice of a d8. Penalties to attack values are added as per the D&D rules, so if they were attacked by a group/stand of 10 orcs with spears (d6), for example, I believe the penalty is -2 for spear versus mail and shield, the orcs would inflict 35-20=15 points against the humans. You kept track of the damage per stand and there were tables to use to figure out what the attack value of 4 men left on a stand might be. if anyone has questions I can dig out the rules and look it up.
But my doubt is about a truly random element being present, on artillery and morale rules. The first may be negligible, but if the second does influence the game outcome that’s crucial.
Another point: A game might contain random elements … without randomizers being present.
I’ve been using randomness as a synonym for non-randomized. To be more accurate I should have wrote games without randomizers instead of non random wargames.
In order to understand a multi-variable complex event, there are objective methods of analysis besides pure statistics: simplified models and limit situations. J. Williams in the The Complete Strategist seems to address those, from the introduction.
Chess is a good example for a deterministic game. Backgammon is a good example of a partially stochastic game. The big issue here is how we do classify Stratego, again a simple example of what AWE 10 would partially be.
In fact when I consider that luck may be involved in a chess game, as in any real life event, that does not automatically allow me to classify chess as partially random. The fact that a chess player cannot predict the full option tree from a given position, implies that his choice will be influenced by intuition, experience, plus even knowledge of his opponent play style (intuition and decision).
There is another key example that must be introduced into this discussion: pocker card game. This game has a random variable, that is after-shuffling card drawing, but then there is the bluff and betting sequence. This dynamic, not deterministic sequence, is not the same a random variable, namely because of the nature of the decisions taken. I call this intuition/decision.
Therefore I think that dismissing intuition from game dynamics is not reasonably possible.
But to get closer to understand your stance I will consider that both a randomizer and intuition/decision are stochastic variables of about the same value.
To keep it on target, it would be interesting to get a clear – no grey areas – classification of Stratego.
1. Characteristics: no random variables, in the sense that there are no randomizers.
2. Setup decision of hidden value elements: the decision for a completely random distribution of strength is a valid strategy as any other.
3. Intuition/decision drives the game.
4. Progressive revelation of forces involved, often culminating in a deterministic end.
Even we if consider that 1-3 are all just random, point 4 indicates a game progressing towards non-stochastic decisions. In the end, the stochastic degree of Stratego cannot even remotely be compared to backgammon.
The first tentative classification was Step Decision Deterministic.
Or Progressive Near-deterministic, or, if you want, Step Decision Stochastic (no problem).
My point is that this ‘SDC’ system has little to do with partially stochastic with randomizers, the backgammon example, that is so close to traditional wargames.
http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htmMan on Man (1996) R. BraceyThese are ancient miniature rules where combat is decided by deterministic charts.
I’ve tried to contact the author that signs ksi45, from uk, without success.
Interesting rules, still do not know if they can be different from other deterministic rules listed.
Aurelian uses random card drawing: you draw a number of cards after suffling from a discard pile.
Source: Video N3
– 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.
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.
The fact that dice averaging allowing for skill to become more important is a myth, it is a mathematical and statistical fact.
D. Salt is right, in that I should not have presented those actual examples.
I quote ‘What determines the outcome of the game is …. the causual chain of events between each result.’
I assume ‘causal’.
The important rolls are those resulting in peak scores – high or low – but obviously also those that are related to key moments in the game. This increases the stochastic level, does not decrease it.
You may fail a non-key event roll and pass a critical event roll and do well. Whatever decisions led to the actual event, may be more or less relevant, but if their ultimate accomplishment is dependant on a random event, the deterministic component will become secondary, maybe negligible.
Once a system is partially stochastic, it will remain so. Then you can discuss about the stochastic level for each game, but that’s not important in a generic discussion.
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.
http://dnir.net/JerboaNet/Jindex.htmBut 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Finally there is AWE 10 …
How does it play? Once both players have set up is it pretty already decided who will win?
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.
“There is no inherent randomness or deterministic outcomes”, says the blurb. I think you have to have one or the other.
Interesting statement, that could lead a good discussion.
The cover art was obtained by purchasing rights from Guiseppe Rava, a talented Italian painter that is also a famous historical illustrator.
By the way, this cover superiorly represents the spirit of the game.