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"What are the key things to simulate" Topic

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Back to the Cold War (1946-1989) Message Board

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UshCha12 Sep 2017 7:52 a.m. PST

Wolfgang noted that this topic may be of interest. So I thought I would start it off.

When we started our rules we had a few key features we felt were not well done by other rules, so we wrote our own to cover them.

1 Vehicles, to us too many small games company or less did vehicles poorly. They did on cover there advantages, like speed or their disadvantages, like having very poor visibility when buttoned up and no reason to take up the formations so keenly stressed in the manuals.

2. Infantry, in too many games had no suppression, to be fair not a universal failure.

3 Machine guns were poorly modelled in most games. In particular ranges were too short and in some cases to effective against troops in cover. In the real world you cannot practicaly kill all the troops in a built up area or in trenches with a machine gun on its own, all too common in some games.

4 Troops over time become exhausted and/or run out of ammunition. This is not well reflected in many rules so it was key to us.

5 We wanted the too and frow of battle, we wanted a set of rules that allowed time for instance for a house to change has a number of times in the course of a battle.

6, We wanted command and control to be at the forefront, to learn how to concentrate in time and space. Excessive randomness was not considered an advantage. To have a game where you are trying to learn command and control, is not improved by excessive randomness. If you don't know how to fight then you don't know how to fight in the presence of excessive randomness.

7. We wanted a game that we could learn to use everything including both defensive and offensive engineering.

8 it must be fast play, that is the system should be as far as possible intuitive so that the concentration was on tactics and not on the rules.

9. We would require it to function correctly on battlefields where the terrain was reasonably Representative of the real world. That means that you would expect to see a representative number of linear features on the board at the defined ground scale. That is hedges, ditches, the area of built up areas and intravisibility similar to northern Europe, typicaly sub 500m for infantry and 500m to 1500m for vehicular actions.

9 In order to get the level of detail we wanted in a simple simulation we needed a 1 to 1 for vehicles and typicaly teams for infantry.

I see this thread as about the objectives of the simulation not the mechanisms to achieve those objectives.

So you will see that this list is deliberately not exhaustive. The main emphasis is not on moral or gunnery. Provided these are out wildly, very detailed varitions in weapon types is not key.

How do your key features compare to ours?

emckinney12 Sep 2017 8:46 a.m. PST

Why is this on the Modern Aviation Discussion board?

Andrew Walters12 Sep 2017 9:01 a.m. PST

I think the decision about what to focus on, what to gloss over, and what to ignore – I mean, what to assume is covered by the die rolls and morale rules – is the key, central, all-important design decision. When I start new things this is exactly where I start: what will the players think about, what will be portrayed passively, what will be left out.

This is, imho, *exactly* the same as the decision an author makes when they write a novel focusing on the family or romantic or professional relationships and leave out the others. Game design is interpretive of reality. Hamlet doesn't talk about what the other nobles in the kingdom of Denmark think of Claudius, but obsesses over what Hamlet thinks. Star Wars gives no thought to how the Rebellion conceals and protects the infrastructure necessary to keep their giant starships functioning. Like literature, games have a theme; they succeed or fail based on how well they carry that theme to the player's hearts. There are stories and games without theme, and they generally, deservedly wither on the vine.

So you could pick any two or three of your nine to focus on, pay scan attention to any three or four more, ignore the rest, and have a good game. Well, probably. Some combinations are clearly going to be problematic and would require real genius to turn into an interesting game. But mostly.

So that's my crazy idea.

jdginaz12 Sep 2017 12:48 p.m. PST

Sounds like Chain of Command by the TooFatLardies to me.

Lion in the Stars12 Sep 2017 5:32 p.m. PST

If you're talking aviation, then pilot skill really comes into play.

You probably need an energy management mechanic. Sharper maneuvers cost more energy, but a good pilot will reduce the energy needed and a bad pilot will increase it.

Weapons capability is also going to be an important factor. Better missiles will make an out-of-date plane dangerous.

Wolfhag12 Sep 2017 9:02 p.m. PST

Here is mine:

1 Vehicles: 1:1 scale with 1" = 25m, micro to 15mm models. Important factors are Situational Awareness, speed of engagement, gunnery risk-reward decisions. Interaction between shooting and moving to eliminate complicated opportunity fire rules.

2. Infantry: SOP reaction and drills according to manuals. Fire & Maneuver. Pass Aggressiveness Check to move under fire. SA Fire almost always suppresses but rarely kills if taking cover (Improved Position or Hunkered Down). Suppression decreases reaction time and firepower. When infantry teams are fired upon (have a flow chart) they can hit the deck and Hunker Down immune to direct SA Fire, hit the deck (Improved Position) and return fire, attempt to move under fire by passing an Aggressiveness Check or freely fall back. I don't have a morale check, I let the player decide. If he decides wrong people get killed.

3 Machine guns: Can only engage 1-2 targets per turn. Better chance of suppression. Hard to KO because of multiple team members. Increases suppression.

4 Troops over time become exhausted and/or run out of ammunition not simulated right now as engagements are short term.

5 Too and frow of battle: Yes, mostly because reactions can be to fall back and then counterattack. Tanks shoot & scoot. You can recover from suppression if out of the enemy LOS and not being fired at. Players are rewarded for falling back because they recover more quickly. We want infantry engagements to be fluid and not a head-to-head slugfest.

6, We wanted command and control to be at the forefront: Use Squad Tactics with Platoon Leader, Platoon Sgt and Squad Leaders as the main controllers. No random activations. Need C&C to perform fire & maneuver.

7. defensive and offensive engineering: I have not gotten to that yet.

8 it must be fast play, that is the system should be as far as possible intuitive so that the concentration was on tactics and not on the rules: We can get in 20-25 turns of movement and SA fire with tanks having the ability to move across a 9 foot table in 2-3 hours. Every 10th turn is admin, rally, etc. Players determine how long an action takes and is "activated" in a future turn. Players find that intuitive without the need for additional activation or IGOUGO mechanics. SNAFU's can happen. FoW is generated because opponents do not know the exact turn a vehicle will shoot.

9. We would require it to function correctly on battlefields where the terrain was reasonably representative of the real world: I think we handle that well. Infantry battles are normally 20-28mm with 1" = 5m so ample chances for the terrain.

9 In order to get the level of detail we wanted in a simple simulation we needed a 1 to 1 for vehicles and typically teams for infantry: Ditto

Since I'm somewhat of a gunnery nut I have a fair amount of gunnery detail taken from tank manuals. It allows players to fire sooner but with an accuracy penalty. As a former grunt, I like the nitty gritty of infantry engagements with advancing needing suppression fire. Leadership can influence the outcome. Each time a Leader uses his influence/DRM he takes a "causality check", use them wisely. Firepower is determined by teams. Causality results determined by one die roll. Suppression determined by firepower against defense and troop type. Still a WIP and trying to keep it simple.


Achtung Minen13 Sep 2017 6:42 a.m. PST

The only objective of wargame rules should be to capture the unique feel of the period. For Cold War, that includes:

1) The "empty" battlefield.

2) The first, true, fully-mechanized battlefield. The primary objective of all frontline units, including infantry, was to destroy enemy tanks and they were well-equipped to do just that.

3) Conflict fueled by global political ideologies. Unlike WW2, political models, not nationalism, drove logistics, military doctrine, deployment and strategy in the Cold War.

4) Fighting on a Nuclear/Biological/Chemical battlefield (including NBC suits and buttoned-up tanks, the psychological effect of nuclear weapons on the battlefield and the strong desire for troops to return home and find their loved ones, the complete loss of command and control as well as logistical support on the operational level). It should be incredibly difficult to dislodge even a small defensive position on a radiological battlefield, and attrition from radiation forces you to attack hastily rather than build your assault and advance slowly.

5) The effect of other technologies (attack helicopters, wire-guided missiles, ERA armour, universal assault rifles, IFV's where a squad fights the engagement completely from within the vehicle, true night-vision on vehicles, laser rangefinders, computers). The rapid rate at which armour-defeating technologies outpaced armour development. Smaller but more deadly infantry formations. The Cold War epitomized the fragile but deadly "glass cannon," where getting initiative and striking first was key to victory (just look at the US 1977 "active defense" doctrine or the Warsaw Pact "maskirovka" strategy of misdirection, which was fine-tuned and perfected from late-WW2 Soviet experiences).

Those are some of the top of my head, but there are others. Taken all together, these five points describe Cold War conflicts as: "an empty battlefield, disturbed only by the whir of a tank appearing around the rubbled corner that was once a fast food restaurant, where a desperate platoon of 12 able-bodied men must evacuate radiation-sick comrades through broken supply lines and hold their position with only a single wire-guided missile, because some politician back home decided to cut military funding last year."

If your ruleset doesn't account for these at the very least, then it is not a Cold War ruleset in my opinion.

UshCha13 Sep 2017 9:17 a.m. PST

Actung minen, it just shows there is no ultimate game, we all have different opinions about what we want to simulate, which of course is part of the fun.

Wolfhag13 Sep 2017 9:51 a.m. PST

Actung minen,
I'm not going to disagree with you. The Cold War period was a real technology transition period.

However, historically most of the Cold War combat was fought with WWII weapons and technology. I was in the US military in the early 1970's. Our mortars, web gear and protection were WWII vintage. The M48A3 tanks was a WWII development with the same gun as the Pershing. We had recoilless rifles up to 106mm (WWII vintage), 3.5" bazooka and WWII designed flame throwers. We had 1st Gen NVG but only to specialist units. The M16 was new but I also used the M14. Arty was WWII vintage. The M60 LMG is based on the MG42 design. New things were helicopters, LAW, improved amtracks, and flak jackets. The PRC-25 radio is a smaller offshoot of the SCR-300.

When you consider that most Cold War conflicts were in 3rd world countries, now you are almost exclusively in the domain of WWI and WWII technology and weapons.

Like Ushcha said, we simulate what we like (and what our bias and prejudices are too). There are no standards or Best Practices.


UshCha13 Sep 2017 1:08 p.m. PST

It is interesting that even between Wolfhag and myself there are some fundamental differences.

At the about 20 mm scale (1/72) for us we use 1"=10m not 1"=5m. This is actually quite fundamental. Typicaly a platoon defends about 500m of frontage, 250m in the centre by their presence and the flanks by fire. Now taking a typical 6 ft by 4 ft board, our board is 500m by 720m, already a bit small to take advantage of machine gun range advantage over rifle range. But it is about a full platoon frontage. At the larger scale the board now 250m by 360m barely more than normal rifle range. It also has implications for artillery, typicaly you want to be 200m plus away from an artillery barrage to be safe, difficult to do on a board 360m max. This is not to say either is right but does show how the fundamentals of the model and the implications on what can be modelled very early in the design phase of the model. It also may significantly effect the troop numbers and the terrain that can be used. Typicaly a company will attack on a 500m frontage. It will be quite unique circumstances when it attacks on a 250m frontage.

As an aside having looked at a typical platoon defence our rules tend to show a frontage for a platoon at optimum, is 300m and tends to dominate about 600m. An error that is acceptable to us, the reasons are based on the gunnery system and tweaks to weapon ranges to more plausibly cope with the model to ground scale discrepancies.

It is interesting at the larger scale we have a common ground scale. However Interestingly lots of our long games use a 600m frontage so that typicaly it's a platoon in defence and a company in attack. However as always things vary and a well engineered platoon defence with support may take best part of a battalion to dislodge.

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2017 1:59 p.m. PST

Agree with your list. have you looked at Force on force? They hit almost all of your list. It is weak on command which I am fixing with house rules.


PS Have decided to start a 1987 Soviet squad in Platoon Forward. First battle should be this weekend.

UshCha13 Sep 2017 2:31 p.m. PST

Joe Legal,
Basically it was the requirements and scope of Maneouver Group. Initial written when we played at that scale. We realised however that the ranges and ground scale made tanks to vulnerable in most cases.

We therefore after a significant amount of study went for 1/144 models and 1mm=1m ground scale. At that scale we did have to publish a new move mode for tanks relocating quickly between alternate positions but the rules worked for both scales.

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP14 Sep 2017 2:01 p.m. PST

Interesting. I am certainly no expert but I thought the damage table in FoF is too forgiving if anything. In FoF it is point blank for tanks and I would think that would be very deadly indeed. At 1/144 scale you could certainly open it up a bit but isn't your ground scale off with your models at 1mm= 1m?
I could see at that ground scale you could use a "shoot and scoot" mode. Couldn't you accomplish that with a TQ check in FoF?
Not trying to be difficult; just curious. Have enjoyed our conversations in the past. As stated previously, agree with your list of what to simulate.

UshCha15 Sep 2017 7:54 a.m. PST

at 1mm=1m vs 1/144 you get a ratio 0f 5.9 to 1. This is a bit higher than at our 1/72 scale but these games typicaly are over bigger more open areas. It could look a bit odd on the Normandy Bocage where its 10 hedges to a mile so a hedge every 146mm on the board, getting far too close to looking daft. However we try and keep to areas with field boundaries closer to 600m, which looks better.

Alternate positions are pre-surveyed and troops plan when to move. Adding random die are a pet hate of mine :-). The system we use allows one shot at the shooter if its available before they can move to the next position.

We find that with our system which has a LOT of decisions available, so with only a small random element,fog of war comes like in the real world, without trying very hard at all. Hell on a decent game you can generate traffic jam's for free, excellent fog of war.

Our game is Very Strong on command and control although the system is simple. It means you do have to think a bound or so ahead at least and often several bounds and you have to have a plan. Some players want to just plonk a few bits on the table and move around without too much thought.
Both ways have their merits.

Having to decide where, how fast to move, who has a dedicated battery and who gets the short straw and no arty support unless the Fore commander re-instructs the battery of new priorities is demanding.

While our game play's at its best where the minimum force on one side is a platoon, even if a bit under strength. That is simply as command is modeled on the Platoon, Company commander or higher if you want a to play very long big battles. Again the level at which a simulation is pitched is key to the level of detail if you want a game to finish in a limited time.

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP15 Sep 2017 3:14 p.m. PST

your rules sound very interesting. When do you plan to release them?
Funny what is important to people. for me 1:1 ground scale. I play 15mm and where the windows are in a building is where they are. That telephone pole; that represents one telephone pole. I do fudge my trees a little when a make a forest though! And while I wouldn't call the die "random" as they are weighted chances, since I play solo that is a must to keep Fog of War. That and Platoon Forward. : )


Rick Don Burnette15 Sep 2017 8:05 p.m. PST

It really doesnt matter what you may want to simulate because, as Paddy Griffith noted years ago, it is all ruined by the miniature figures. Tactics are wrecked because the figure takes up too much space, the empty battlefield is ruined because the artwork, the models, must be displayed, otherwise why worry about the casting and paint? Command and control rules get in the way of the ancient tradition "You are in command and can change History!". Fast play implies simpleminded simulation, it also lessens the opportunities for our curse, the rules lawyer and the player who takes time to calculate, the hilarity of Check your Six, where a 5 second turn is followed by ten minutes of player calculation.
Witness the AFV "parking lot" in Team Yankee,with all of TYs gamey aspects,with the game introducing itself as a simulation.
A simulation of what? Did Osprey get the colors right? well, they are weak on getting it right. Did TY get the basic stats right? wait forthe next editin.
But wait. This whole simulation discussion has been going on for at least 50 years, with the same observations, assertions and suggestions.
Give me a crooked roulette wheel for a simulation.

UshCha16 Sep 2017 2:02 a.m. PST

Joe Legan, our rules are published in PDF.


It is definitely not full 1 to 1 that was never the intention regarding terrain. So some of it will not be detailed enough and it is basicaly run at team level not individual.

I always suggest you download the free stuff to get a bit of the flavour.

You do not need our terrain, its just one way of getting up and going quickly. Similarly it was designed not to need army lists you can even build you tank specs from available data and TOE'S.

Rick, why enter a thread on simulation with no positive comments. Paddy Griffith is not regarded by me as in any way an expert, perhaps Phil Barker woiuld be a better reference. Clearly you understand little about simulation so perhaps it would be beneficial if you just read and leant, then you may have something worth the electrons.

I do not belive Tean Yankee has already been disscussed on TMP, so is not relevant here.

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP16 Sep 2017 8:19 a.m. PST

I didn't realize they were published. They look interesting. Too large a scale for what I do but as I stated; it is interesting what folks are looking for in their games.
Am taking out my new W Germans for a spin and they have a Leopard so am trying out the "scoot and Shoot" rule. Seems to work so far.
Rick, not to be unkind, but I agree your post is a gross oversimplification of a problem. While it can sound erudite to dismiss discussions it is really never helpful. no one on this thread is suggesting you can simulate warfare 100%. Why would you want too? It is horrible. I do think you can simulate key factors that affect the outcome of a battle in an entertaining way to either determine a victor (or in my case) tell a story. If designed properly you could do the same with a crooked roulette wheel but it wouldn't be much of a story and I doubt it would be much fun to determine a victor. That stated, as I have said, people are looking for different things in their games so if it works for you; great!



UshCha16 Sep 2017 10:15 a.m. PST

Joe, you may need to go to a bigger ground scale to get alternate positions. The minimum spacing between positions is reckoned to be 50m, better at 75m. At no point should tanks get closer than 40m as this allows almost 100% hit rate as its a correction to an existing target. At 1 ins to 5m that is using a lot of space.

UshCha16 Sep 2017 12:04 p.m. PST

Joe, you may need to go to a bigger ground scale to get alternate positions. The minimum spacing between positions is reckoned to be 50m, better at 75m. At no point should tanks get closer than 40m as this allows almost 100% hit rate as its a correction to an existing target. At 1 ins to 5m that is using a lot of space for one position. It is surprising that a 9 tank platoon with the ideal 2 alternate positions can have a frontage of in excess of 1.2 km, again what is it you want to simulate.

As an aside this is why we stopped at 1 to 1 for tanks, otherwise you begin to need sabot bases to represent a tank platoon in position, it occupies better than half of it gun range in some cases.

Rick Don Burnette17 Sep 2017 12:54 a.m. PST

UshCha and Joe
Perhaps I am too negative, yet after over 49 years of being told that my concerns regarding simulations are well irrelevant or overblown. and after reading the opinions of historians, social scientists and military, who in most cases raise similar concerns, and the assertions and statements from many leading wargame designers, I perhaps aquired my negative attitude from a long association with , well, wargamer marketeers and historian reluctance.
It doesnt matter that you may hold Griffith in low regard, there are many more like him, in and out of miniatures, yet involved with simulations. A past favorite of mine was Leo Strauss, who in Essays on the Scientific Study of Politics, which discusses simulation methods, he noted that the then new, 1960ish, political scientist, playing political science wargames, was fiddling while Rome is burning, yet doesnt know what he is doing. About 15 years later, David H Fisher in Historians Fallacies, addressed many of the same concerns, see the sections on counterfactuals and what if questions. Yet during that time was Fred Vietmeyers Column Line and Square as well as the rise of SPI and Jim Dunnigan who began the traditions such as "you are in command" and "you can change history" .
From the Dunnigan school has flowed much of what we use today as methods and views regarding what is and can be simulated.
Yet these approaches, although labeled as authentic simulatios, are merely games for entertainment, not unlike any Mel Gibson so called historical movie.
Perhaps I have been lied to too many times to regard any current historical miniatures game as anything more than a game.
I do agree that the games should be fast play and yet at HMGS conventions, fast play games get short shrift as they cannot be simulations

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2017 8:40 a.m. PST

Thanks for the info. I knew dispersion was important but didn't realize it was hard and fast with numbers.
As stated my games are infantry based which goes well with Force on force. I have never had more than two NATO tanks on the board at one time so my focus is definitely different.
Understand. I also grew up in the SPI hey day ( loved firefight and cityfight BTW though cityfight was such a "simulation" that I only managed to play it twice) Easy to become jaded. As I get older I like abstraction more as it plays quicker. The key is to not abstract anything too important. Often what is important is in the eye of the beholder.



UshCha17 Sep 2017 1:26 p.m. PST

The trouble with tanks in an infantry game is that they will typically be in dense terrain. At about 250 yds there is a lot of terrain to hide in and tanks with poor visibility (bad news to be head out) are sitting ducks if anybody has a half decent RPG as they can do damage from the rear or even the side some time. Plus many tanks will struggle at close quarters with tall building, unless you have the Israeli type glass turret with a high elevation for the Machine Gun. Probably best to not really try with tanks at close quarters.

US manual notes that infantry closer than 30m to a buttoned up tank if laying down cannot be seen. Not fun for the tread heads. Never put in our rules as we did not see covering insanity.

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2017 3:59 p.m. PST

Insanity? It's fun! The vehicles are meant to spice up the infantry game. As you say, if I was going to focus on armor I would have to re-size my board. ( and spend more money buying armor. As a solo player I already have to fund both sides.)
Yep, tanks need a lot of friendly infantry around to survive.


UshCha18 Sep 2017 1:33 a.m. PST

Solo wargaing is something I have not had time to do. Interestingly our rules worked better than we hoped. One of the things it can do quite well is ambush games. The movement rates mean that you can take say a 8 by 6 ft board put a divider down the middle of the 6 ft section giving a sort of U shaped 22 ft route, if you run a road on the outside. Now give yourself only about 6 to ten moves to get round and a small force in ambush and you get a novel sort of game, quick but with a lot of uncertainty about whete the ambushers are. for the ambushers do they want to inflict delay of damage. Our simulations indicate that these with small forces, can be mutually exclusive objectives.

Joe Legan Supporting Member of TMP18 Sep 2017 5:53 p.m. PST

I solo 90% of the time. For me it is all about the story. Normally my opponent isn't as concerned about the story as I am. Reading this board for several years I realize this puts me in the minority but I really enjoy it. As stated multiple times during this thread, amazing what people think is important in their games. Mine are very personal which is why scale is important to set the stage. My favorite quote from Eisenhower is " War is a drama; not a game of chess." An example is here:

UshCha19 Sep 2017 8:26 a.m. PST

I agree about a story, that is what a scenario is, it's the start of a story that hopefully grows in the telling. It let's you play different games. Convoy attacks, withdrawals. Winning is not part of it. I lost my last battle but who cares, it was a superb story of a general who did not understand how terrible the threat was. The only Dissapointing thing was that it ended prematurely as there was no plausible plot twist to savage the game.

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