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"Differences between CoC and BA?" Topic


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David Brown24 May 2018 4:40 a.m. PST

VVV,

Example: Sunny day some time in 1986 – trained and experienced soldiers on a selection process are ordered to march a short distance from A to B for the next "lecture" and briefing prior to next exercise.

One group step off for a quick ciggie. As a consequence they miss the short lecture, miss the new RVP given and miss the next phase.

If that can happen in reality why that can't happen in a wargame?

Just a thought.

DB

Basha Felika24 May 2018 11:09 a.m. PST

Jdginaz, no offence taken – you make a very good point. ;-)

jdginaz24 May 2018 1:21 p.m. PST

Justin, I see your still ignoring the fact that I disproved your claim that CoC won't let you take advantage of extra units in a single phase. Seems you have a problem when proven wrong yet again and instead of acknowledging it you just pretend it didn't happen.

VVV reply25 May 2018 8:19 a.m. PST

jdginaz, you have it right. I am ignoring you. Seems the best thing to do.
If you want to read what I thought of your original post, you can always read my reply at the time. In CoC the rule is, 'you can do stuff if you roll the right dice, if you don't, you can't'. No one can argue with that.

Example: Sunny day some time in 1986 – trained and experienced soldiers on a selection process are ordered to march a short distance from A to B for the next "lecture" and briefing prior to next exercise.
One group step off for a quick ciggie. As a consequence they miss the short lecture, miss the new RVP given and miss the next phase.

And as you say, they fail selection. Lesson learned, don't do it again. You have your fag break after you get to your objective. What you describe is goofing off and its a bad habit to get a reputation for. I would be surprised that anyone offered a chance for selection would do so.
I was on my pre-RCB (Royal Commission Board) and we did the assault course at Pirbright. Part of that involved lugging an ammo box full of bricks around course suspended on poles. The idea is that you took your turn on the box, were relived and then ran on your own until you got your wind back. Our group was made up of soldiers from all over the country, we didn't know each other. One soldier said that he could not carry the box, so we excused him. Then forced him to run in front of us and if we caught up with him, we kicked him. His name was mud from that point on. But lets remember that in CoC we are asked to think that each and every 2 minutes or so, some bad luck has occurred, come on.
BTW a lesson from my life. We were on an exercise and were captured. It was all a set-up so we could experience what it was like to be captured/interrogated. In the POW camp one guard said anyone who smoked could do so. They were then forced to do push ups with their cigarettes in their mouths. Guess that guard did not like smokers.

David Brown25 May 2018 9:43 a.m. PST

VVV,

I was on my pre-RCB (Royal Commission Board) and we did the assault course at Pirbright. Part of that involved lugging an ammo box full of bricks around course suspended on poles.

I think I did that test at RCB as well!

Anyway, the point being that this sort of thing happens.

How often? Yes, that's open to debate. But if we both accept the premise that in war this sort of thing is far more likely to happen, then perhaps CoC is nearer the mark, than say other rules where it doesn't happen at all.

Of course, we can agree to disagree on how often this should happen, but that's why wargames and wargames design generates such so much debate.

DB

jdginaz25 May 2018 10:06 a.m. PST

"jdginaz, you have it right. I am ignoring you. Seems the best thing to do."

I'm honored, and another point proved.

Basha Felika25 May 2018 11:16 a.m. PST

" In CoC the rule is, 'you can do stuff if you roll the right dice, if you don't, you can't'. No one can argue with that."

I suspect I'm going to regret saying it, but I do disagree with that – CoC is not so much about rolling the right dice, its about doing the right stuff at the right time making several different but inter-related decisions in each phase about how to use the dice rolled.

The numbers that come up on those 5 dice are, of course, completely random but the real ‘skill' is how you then use them to best (or least worst!) effect.

TacticalPainter0125 May 2018 3:27 p.m. PST

The numbers that come up on those 5 dice are, of course, completely random but the real ‘skill' is how you then use them to best (or least worst!) effect.

Agree. The best players are not lucky, they are those that know how best to manage the unpredictable events that occur.

Hate to bring this full circle, but it's back to my Backgammon analogy. A great game where each turn a player can only move a limited number of pieces based solely on the roll of two dice. And yet, no one can argue that the great Backgammon players are ‘lucky'. Entirely driven by the roll of dice, there is no doubt it's a game of skill, not a game of chance. The dice don't determine the outcome of the game, the players do.

So it is with CoC. However CoC takes this several steps further, where the skill of the player has even more opportunities to decide the outcome based on the history that is the bedrock of the rules. These several steps extra are modelled on historical processes from unit structure and the provision of junior leaders through to the effectiveness of support weapons. The command dice simply provide the randomness that is the unpredictability of events, the skill is in the commander's ability to manage this and that comes down to optimal tactics on the table.

VVV reply26 May 2018 2:27 a.m. PST

I suspect I'm going to regret saying it, but I do disagree with that – CoC is not so much about rolling the right dice, its about doing the right stuff at the right time making several different but inter-related decisions in each phase about how to use the dice rolled.

Just as in other rules you make choices to do with your units, all your units.
Hate to bring this full circle, but it's back to my Backgammon analogy. A great game where each turn a player can only move a limited number of pieces based solely on the roll of two dice.

Feel free and I will repeat, that in your CoC version of backgammon, the player rolls a die, if it comes up wrong, they lose their turn and hand the dice to their opponent, doing nothing that turn. Just 'you get the right dice, you get to play, wrong dice, you do nothing'.
However CoC takes this several steps further, where the skill of the player has even more opportunities to decide the outcome based on the history that is the bedrock of the rules.

And the is my point, limiting what units a player has, if they get to come on the table and what they can do when they get there, is no measure of skill but simply down to dice rolls, lots of them.
And lets remember in CoC, unknown unpredictable events, each and every 2 minutes of real-life. Far too often to be realistic.
Now can anyone disagree with that?

Basha Felika26 May 2018 6:35 a.m. PST

Sometimes it becomes all too clear that some discussions are not worth having – especially when one of the participants has no real experience of the game system on which he is pronouncing.

After rather a lot of games of CoC, against many different opponents, I'm confident that my (often spectacular) defeats were almost entirely down to my poor decisions rather than the luck of the dice.

Luckily, unlike golf, chess or backgammon, we don't all have to use the ‘one true ruleset'

VVV reply26 May 2018 8:05 a.m. PST

Sorry you can all the experience you like but it will not change how the rules work.
Hell I even ran through both sets of rules to see how they worked in practice, with the CoC command dice rolled and reported.
I think I said earlier that players can make mistakes under any set of rules but having what you can do limited by the dice you roll at least gives you the excuse to blame it on the dice. But you won't have that excuse under Bolt Action, how you play is what you get.

jdginaz26 May 2018 10:24 a.m. PST

"Sorry you can all the experience you like but it will not change how the rules work."

That is one of the most ridiculous and arrogant statements I have ever read here. So what you are saying is that your interpretation of how the rules work after just reading them is more valid than everybody else's experience of many hours of actual play of the rules.

After having recently watched a couple of videos of BA games being played it appears to me that the luck of the draw of the dice has a much stronger effect on who wins the game than any effect I've experienced in games of CoC.

VVV reply26 May 2018 1:38 p.m. PST

So what you are saying is that your interpretation of how the rules work after just reading them is more valid than everybody else's experience of many hours of actual play of the rules.

No, just as equal as anyone elses. Thats the great thing about a set of rules, they tell you how to play the game.
Why anyone should think that inexperience of the rules would make a difference beats me. I listed what I did, what did I do wrong? (BTW you can ignore rolling for units and patrol markers. What I did was start with the same forces for both rule sets, in exactly the same situation and saw what happened. Testing how the rules actually worked).
Now how can anyone disagree with the statement below, is it untrue in any way?
And that is my point; limiting what units a player has, if they get to come on the table and what they can do when they get there, is no measure of skill but simply down to dice rolls, lots of them.
And lets remember in CoC, unknown unpredictable events, each and every 2 minutes of real-life. Far too often to be realistic.

I really do suggest that people start dealing with what actually happens in CoC, rather than just saying they like to play them. I am sure that all the people playing Bolt Action – of whom I know many – like them as well.

jdginaz26 May 2018 2:26 p.m. PST

"Why anyone should think that inexperience of the rules would make a difference beats me."

I really do suggest that people start dealing with what actually happens in CoC,..

That you can seriously make those two statements leaves me speechless. What a Tanker indeed.

TacticalPainter0127 May 2018 2:49 a.m. PST

I really do suggest that people start dealing with what actually happens in CoC, rather than just saying they like to play them.

No, actually. You don't get this, I now understand, but it is you who has miserably failed to give a sound critique of CoC. Let's list your many issues:

You don't seem to have any intellectual base for approaching skirmish level warfare in WWII. Sure you've cited a few books, but none of your learning, no theory of command and control at this level in this period. All we know is that you think every unit should be able to activate every turn. We don't even know why you think that. Care to explain the historical basis for that view?

You don't like the command dice roll in CoC. You say it is unrealistic but fail to give us your version of what your idea of realism is even based upon. We are simply to accept your blanket statements about what is realistic and what is not. Again we return to your fixation that every unit should activate every turn, like it's some immutable law of the universe. This is at odds with various theorists from Clauswitz to Keegan. Care to explain your theoretical basis for that view?

You think all units should move at the same speed at every single turn, anything other than that is to introduce too much luck and create some artificial reality. We know you don't like the bad luck, but you've never talked about the good luck, or the vagaries of human activities. This view that all humans traverse all ground at the same speed, regardless of who they are and how familiar with the ground they are, is a novel concept to me. Care to explain the historical basis for that view?

You are prepared to accept the high degree of luck in the random selection of activation dice in BA, because ultimately all units will activate each turn. Yet, in your opinion, CoC command dice rolls are unrealistic. So you conclude that BA's command and control mechanism is, again in your opinion, apparently more realistic. Care to explain the historical basis for that view?

And that is my point; limiting what units a player has, if they get to come on the table and what they can do when they get there, is no measure of skill but simply down to dice rolls, lots of them.

Hilarious. As I've said several times, tell that to the great Backgammon players. It's not about your luck, it's about how you deal with it. That takes skill.

VVV reply27 May 2018 7:37 a.m. PST

You say it is unrealistic but fail to give us your version of what your idea of realism is even based upon.

Lets see, real life. Plenty of examples of coordinated attacks, in fact that is what platoon tactics are based on.
YouTube link
YouTube link
You are prepared to accept the high degree of luck in the random selection of activation dice in BA, because ultimately all units will activate each turn. Yet, in your opinion, CoC command dice rolls are unrealistic. So you conclude that BA's command and control mechanism is, again in your opinion, apparently more realistic. Care to explain the historical basis for that view?

Certainly, not everything happens at once (although of course in Chain of Command it does :) ). So when the player gets to activate one of their units (and remember in BA the player chooses which unit to activate, just as in CoC) that unit performs its actions and the result of individual units achieves the objective. No unit left out for some imaginary bad luck.
And you are right, get rid of the activation dice and patrol phase and Chain of Command would be a very reasonable game. It would also be much easier to expand for larger forces.
As I've said several times, tell that to the great Backgammon players.

And let them try out the Chain of Command version of Backgammon. Roll a die, if you roll the wrong number, you miss the turn and pass the dice to your opponent. Let me know what they think of it.

TacticalPainter0127 May 2018 1:32 p.m. PST

Ho hum, another garbled, rambling, self-contradictory non-response……..

JayM48127 May 2018 5:24 p.m. PST

Training films show the ideal. Even on exercise where there's no fear of death or injury things don't always go right.

Brecourt Manor is held up as a textbook real-life example of a small unit attack going exactly as planned (despite a few KIA and WIA). That was highly trained US paratroopers vs a battery of artillerymen and support who weren't expecting the attack. It's a textbook example because it's not that common.

TacticalPainter0127 May 2018 9:28 p.m. PST

Roll a die, if you roll the wrong number, you miss the turn and pass the dice to your opponent. Let me know what they think of it.

Well, firstly, the chance of getting no result whatsoever from rolling five dice is so extreme as hardly worthy of consideration. Secondly, I play a lot of Backgammon and you clearly don't, because you would know there are times in that game where you roll your dice and you cannot do anything. Good Backgammon players know that and deal with the situations as they arise, just like good field commanders. Like I keep on saying, it's not about luck, it's about how you deal with it that counts.

Lets see, real life. Plenty of examples of coordinated attacks, in fact that is what platoon tactics are based on.

Yes, indeed it is. So how do I organise this in BA if I draw one dice at a time and the order is completely random?

CoC's command dice will allow this sort of coordinated attack to develop. And if I don't roll all the dice I need? No disaster, I have to be patient, or I let the attack unfold in a slightly different way. I adapt to the circumstances on the ground. In an ideal world I know what I'd like to do and it may just play out the way I've planned. On the other hand, units may not be able to respond on my planned timetable, in which case I need to improvise and work with what I have. That reflects the actions and skills of an officer on the ground, the good players make this work regardless of any element of luck, in fact they make it work in spite of the luck.

And you are right, get rid of the activation dice and patrol phase and Chain of Command would be a very reasonable game. It would also be much easier to expand for larger forces.

Huh, when did I suggest getting rid of the activation dice and the patrol phase? They are without doubt two of the great innovations of CoC.

Why would you want to expand CoC for larger forces, it's a platoon level skirmish game? If you want to play company level I'd suggest other rule sets (including the Lardies 'I Ain't Been Shot Yet Mum'). Why try to make CoC into something that it's not?

VVV reply27 May 2018 11:07 p.m. PST

Huh, when did I suggest getting rid of the activation dice and the patrol phase? They are without doubt two of the great innovations of CoC.

You did not, I did. They are the two greatest weaknesses of CoC.
The patrol phase is irrelevant and the activation dice (1's to 4's) are just there to limit what a player can do (if anything) with their units.
Yes, indeed it is. So how do I organise this in BA if I draw one dice at a time and the order is completely random?

In Bolt Action, that you can activate a unit at a point in a turn is uncertain (not random, as there are a finite number of order dice and they will all come out of the 'bag' at some time in the turn), then the player gets to chose which of their units to activate. Rather like activation dice in CoC with the difference; that you know you are going to use all your units and its not 'one side does everything, then the other side gets their turn'.
Why would you want to expand CoC for larger forces, it's a platoon level skirmish game?

Indeed I would not know, just considering options. But again its a difference between the two sets of rules. In Bolt Action you can just make the game bigger, more choice.
Well, firstly, the chance of getting no result whatsoever from rolling five dice is so extreme as hardly worthy of consideration.

No you misunderstand, in your CoC version of Backgammon, you roll one die, if its wrong, you do nothing and pass the dice to your opponent.

Basha Felika28 May 2018 12:55 a.m. PST

TP01, I think it's time to go and do something more worthwhile.

Northern Monkey28 May 2018 4:13 a.m. PST

I honestly cannot believe that this discussion is still going round and round in circles.

The best way to think of a phase in CoC is as the same as pulling one dice in Bolt Action, i.e. It is just one part of a turn. The difference is that in CoC you can activate more than one unit, so fire and movement becomes possible rather than Fire OR movement.

A hand of Command dice in Chain of Command does not limit what you can do. Rather it presents a whole range of opportunities which you, the player, then select as the situation demands.

Chain of command is a game designed for a platoon of infantry per side plus some support options. It cannot be judged by playing a game with one tank versus five tanks any more than the judges of Crufts could judge dogs by using a tyre pressure gauge. An imbecile should be able to understand that. The fact that this point is being missed here does rather suggest that further discussion will continue to be futile.

VVV reply28 May 2018 5:39 a.m. PST

The best way to think of a phase in CoC is as the same as pulling one dice in Bolt Action, i.e. It is just one part of a turn

Nope we had that one earlier. In Bolt Action you would get to activate your units, once each turn. In Chain of Command you can just keep on activating the same unit, time after time.
In effect a game phase in CoC is like a turn in most rule sets.
The end of a 'turn' in CoC means that; smoke screens are removed, tactical and overwatch is removed, any captured jump-off markers are removed, mortar barrages end, pinned units check to see if they remained pinned, broken units and leaders are removed.
Since the end of a CoC turn is a result of activation dice roll (3 or more D6's) it is unpredictable. And that is a nice touch.
In my test that happened for the US side on Turn 1, phase 3
US rolls: 1, 5, 3x6 (CCD 4) no activations possible, 3x6 means phase ends and new turn starts.

Basha Felika28 May 2018 7:29 a.m. PST

"Further discussion will continue to be futile"

+1

Captain Cook28 May 2018 8:21 a.m. PST
VVV reply28 May 2018 9:04 a.m. PST

Indeed its simple and probably the greatest difference between the two sets of rules. In Chain of Command you roll dice to see which units can do something, in Bolt Action every unit will do so.

Basha Felika28 May 2018 10:15 a.m. PST

And there's your fundamental and unshakable misunderstanding' of the core command and control mechanic of CoC: the dice rolled do NOT determine which units can do something.

The dice rolled gives the player a number of decisions to make on where and how to prioritise the actions of some, all or none of his units during that discrete phase of the engagement.

It's a subtle yet very significant difference from BA but unlikely to appeal to a player who thinks that removing both the Patrol Phase and Command Dice mechanisms would ‘improve' CoC.

Northern Monkey28 May 2018 12:08 p.m. PST

Another hat stand vicar? They're delicious! wibble wibble.

VVV reply28 May 2018 12:32 p.m. PST

And there's your fundamental and unshakable misunderstanding' of the core command and control mechanic of CoC: the dice rolled do NOT determine which units can do something.

Sorry but you are wrong, you can only do what the dice roll allows you to in CoC. That cannot be denied. Its rolling dice, nothing else, so claiming it represents command and control is nonsense. Real command and control would have something to do with the leaders commanding the troops, not die rolls
The dice rolled gives the player a number of decisions to make on where and how to prioritise the actions of some, all or none of his units during that discrete phase of the engagement.

What you can do, is limited by what the dice roll allows you (the player) to do. Thats not a choice, its a limitation. It only removes, not gives choices. Bolt Action gives the player the choices what to do with their troops and indeed includes higher ranking officers, to keep those troops moving.

Northern Monkey28 May 2018 1:02 p.m. PST

Ah, but it IS disputed Mr VVV, and by you! You said quite clearly "In Chain of Command you roll dice to see which units can do something". And you are utterly WRONG. Yet somehow you cannot see that.

However, as others have suggested, that is undoubtedly because you have never played a proper game of Chain of Command. That is one where you do what the rules tell you to do, namely choose an infantry platoon and then select your support options and play against an opponent who has done the same.

Yes, we all know that you have played your favourite scenario with one Tiger against five Shermans, but that is not the type of game the rules are designed to cover. It is an infantry game with supports, some of which may be armour.

Lots of people have attempted to explain to you that the command Dice in CoC do not determine which units activate. Rather, they allow you to choose how you use those dice. There are any number of ways to use dice, to combine dice together to achieve other effects, or to use dice to enhance your troops' performance beyond the ordinary. Yet despite all this you seem, sadly, incapable of grasping what you are being told. For those of us who are trying to advise you, that inability to grasp facts is very frustrating as you appear very vociferous in condemning a game system when clearly you have failed to grasp the core mechanisms. Your continues insistence on doing so does rather smack of an obsession.

Are you involved with some kind of Care in the Community programme? If so, maybe you could discuss this with your nurse? They may be able to read the rules with you and explain some of the points which appear to be beyond your appreciation at present. It might help you find closure with what seems to be an unpleasant obsession. I do hope things work out for you going forward and that you find someone who can explain things to you in simple terms. God knows, we have tried here.

Basha Felika28 May 2018 1:21 p.m. PST

Sometimes it's necessary to admit defeat and stop banging your head against the proverbial brick wall. This is turning into the Monty Python ‘Argument' sketch and adding nothing to anyone's understanding of either CoC and BA.

I'm off to paint a 1940 Belgian platoon in anticipation of the new campaign books coming out.

VVV reply28 May 2018 1:27 p.m. PST

Ah, but it IS disputed Mr VVV, and by you! You said quite clearly "In Chain of Command you roll dice to see which units can do something". And you are utterly WRONG. Yet somehow you cannot see that.

Well I look at the rules and see if I roll 1's, I can do some stuff, 2's, 3's and 4's allow you to other stuff. 5's for Command dice and 6's for phase actions. Thats what the die rolls allow you to do. Don't get the right dice, you cannot do it. OK so thats the general comment about what the activation dice limit the players choice. In Bolt Action, that does not exist, every unit in BA is going to do something, More choice, simple.
Again we can look at how CoC 'armies' are put together, 4 basic units, then you roll for what choices you can make. Bolt Action, you use points values.
Lots of people have attempted to explain to you that the command Dice in CoC do not determine which units activate. Rather, they allow you to choose how you use those dice.

And its nonsense. If you don't have the right dice rolls, you are not going to be able to do certain things. The dice limit what you can do in CoC. That is not the case in Bolt Action.
Yet despite all this you seem, sadly, incapable of grasping what you are being told.

Tell me (and everyone else) what you like but it will not make it true. As I said earlier, anyone can say that the Moon is made of green cheese, but you do have to make your case as to why it is.
My case is I actually ran a game of CoC, I rolled the dice, I showed what they did and did not, allow the player what to do (including combining 1's and 2's to make 3's and 4's) thats how the CoC rules work.
And actually there is no condemnation of CoC. Just pointing out that it is unrealistic and heavily dice driven. That is just reality and should be what be what people should expect if they decide to play CoC. If you like rolling lots of dice, CoC is just the set of rules for you. Now does that make you happier?

Now lets do a 'what if' and imagine that you are no longer rolling for unit activation in CoC. You still roll the activation dice but now they only affect the phases and generate Command Dice. Every unit you have will do something that phase (just as in Bolt Action). What choices do you think you will have lost. I can tell you the choices that you have gained, all your units will be doing something and at last you can really do some fire and manoeuvre. With some units pinning the enemy, whilst others move. It also allows a larger force to take advantage of the extra units it has.

adding nothing to anyone's understanding of either CoC and BA.

Again nonsense. The differences between the two sets are clearly stated.

TacticalPainter0128 May 2018 4:48 p.m. PST

And actually there is no condemnation of CoC.

Well, no of course not, just a fair and balanced objective comment. But in the next sentence…..

Just pointing out that it is unrealistic and heavily dice driven.

Hahahahahahaha. Priceless.

jdginaz29 May 2018 12:55 a.m. PST

I have one last simple question for you that I think you can answer without contradicting yourself. What color is the sky in your private little world?

Jubilation T Cornpone29 May 2018 4:04 a.m. PST

I've just come across this thread. Is it a joke thread by any chance? I've got to ask as the intimation that having every single unit in your force able to activate as per Bolt Action is seen as historically accurate which is plainly isn't if you've ever read MacDonald, Keegan, Holmes et al. Having your attack/defence fall apart because your sections/gun groups are being tardy, refusing to move or are being slower than the rest of your force is more the norm. I've played both Bolt Action and CoC. Both play well and I enjoy games with both although Bolt Actions weapons ranges drive me to distraction. The pin system is excellent though. CoC is far and away the more realistic simulation (if any ruleset can be!).

VVV reply29 May 2018 4:29 a.m. PST

I've got to ask as the intimation that having every single unit in your force able to activate as per Bolt Action is seen as historically accurate which is plainly isn't if you've ever read MacDonald, Keegan, Holmes et al.

Neither of course is assuming that there are going to be problems every 2 minutes in a platoon. So in Chain of Command activation dice put the cart before the horse. For random events, that would remain covered by random events (p26).

toofatlardies29 May 2018 7:20 a.m. PST

I have to say that I find it rather difficult to make any comment here as it seems that to address any argument to VVV is an utter waste of time as his mind is clearly set to the point where any continued debate or discussion is pointless. However, I will make some general observations about game design in general.

In general terms, no rule set is better than any other one. Rule sets tend to be a reflection of the game designer's own prejudices and opinions of the conflict being gamed. By way of example, some game designers feel that technology is the critical factor, whereas others consider then men who fought to be more important. In the case of the former, their game is likely to be a comprehensive study of ballistics, the importance of sloped armour and the mechanical aspect of warfare. The latter is more inclined to consider the abilities of men, as well as their frailties and the importance of leaders on the battlefield.

Of the two, I place myself firmly in the latter camp. I understand the importance of the former but am prepared to abstract aspects of the technical whilst focussing more on the human experience. Am I right? Is the technical counter of rivets wrong? No. We can both be correct at the same time as we are producing games which reflect what we want to see represented.

The fact of the matter is that one of the great things about wargaming is that, unlike chess, we can find a version of WWII which pretty much matches up with what we want from a game and as a result we tend to end up enjoying games designed by people who share our view of what is important in action.

As such, I think it is rather childish of any of us to pronounce that a set of rules which does not match our own particular perspective is "wrong" (or "puts the cart before the horse" or "unrealistic" or "heavily dice driven") when in fact all that is happening is that our view of what needs to be modelled in order to best represent WWII on the tabletop differs from what that game designer has chosen to create.

The insistence of some gamers to loudly pronounce that only their version of war is valid is not new but fortunately it is relatively unusual. Most gamers will happily co-exist with other gamers even though they enjoy different games. I have many friends who play Bolt Action. They have many friends who enjoy Chain of Command. I have never told Rick or Allessio that they were wrong and they have never told me that Chain of Command was inferior to their game. I wouldn't do that. They wouldn't do that. Indeed Rick and I said hello to each other at Partizan last week, something we do whenever we see each other and he had a very nice chat with my daughter who commented on what a nice chap he was. All this is possible because we are normal civilised people who are happy that people are enjoying playing wargames, whatever system they are using.

My own approach to game design is firmly in the camp which believes that Clausewitz was correct when he made the following statements:

"Countless minor incidents – the kind you can never really foresee – combine to lower the general level of performance, so that one always falls short of the intended goal."

"Action in war is like movement in a resistant element. Just as the simplest and most natural form of movements, walking, cannot easily be performed in water, so in war it is difficult for normal efforts to achieve even the most moderate results."

"Everything in war is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult. The difficulties accumulate and end by producing a kind of friction that is inconceivable unless one has experienced war."

I am afraid to say that in this argument I feel that we are seeing well made arguments in favour of high quality military training being made by someone who has clearly done a lot of that.
However, the statement above makes it clear that there is a gulf of difference between the theory of the training ground and the chaos of actual war. That occurs at all levels, but never more than at the sharp end, where the close proximity of an enemy and the possibility of death at any moment when the bullets are flying magnifies that effect.

To quote Clausewitz again:

"In war everything is uncertain, and calculations have to be made with variable quantities"

When I design games I attempt to reflect the variability of performance in many ways. Pretty much ALL rules do this with ranged fire. (Almost) nobody would, surely, claim that all men firing their weapons perform in an equal manner. If so, calculating the result of a firefight would simply be a case of comparing the relative weight of fire produced by the two opposing sides. But we all seems to accept that there is a variability to firing. Why then do we seem so reticent to apply that principle to other areas of human activity, such as moving? Clausewitz makes it entirely clear that he, possibly one of the greatest writers on the theory and practice or warfare, not only understands that this is the case, but even states that it MUST be the case. "Calculations have to be made with variable quantities".

Of course, some would say that this is to present the battlefield as utterly chaotic. I would say that it can be so, but that it is the presence of leaders, be they officers or NCOs or simply inspiring men who are prepared to step up and take the lead, who make the difference and conquer not only the enemy but also the chaos of the battlefield. It is they who guide and inspire other men to achieve more than they would have done otherwise. It is they who allow men to overcome fear and to remember their "skills and drills" in moments where the human instinct for survival are in danger of taking control. This is not something one experience on a training ground, but one can vicariously come to comprehend that by studying such texts as Clausewitz and then seeing how they apply to first hand accounts of warfare.

In game design terms, I consider this, my last quote from Clausewitz you'll be glad to know, to be paramount.

"The best General is not the one who is most familiar with the idea of friction and who takes it most to heart…The good General must know friction in order to overcome it and not expect a standard of achievement in his operation which this very friction makes impossible"

So, being aware of the concept of battlefield friction is not enough. A commander must do all he can to overcome it and NOT EXPECT A STANDARD OF ACHIEVEMENT (which is) IMPOSSIBLE. In other words, if you expect your men to perform as they did on the training ground then you will fail., You MUST expect their performance to be imperfect.

In Chain of Command, the roll of the (typically) five Command Dice represents a had full of opportunities which you can combine in any manner you wish to try to maximise the performance of your platoon at that moment. The result is likely to be imperfect in that you will be unlikely to do all that you may wish to do. However, it is not prescriptive in that it tells you which units you must activate. You can choose any number of combinations in order to create some very different outcomes.

To suggest that "you can only do what the command dice allow you to do" suggests that choice is removed and you must conform to what the dice determine. This is a nonsense and either a wilful misrepresentation of the truth by someone who thinks the system of rules he has devised is better, or simply a case of continued misunderstanding despite being advised otherwise by numerous other commentators.

In fact the Command Dice mean that your choice of what to do not infinite, i.e. you cannot act with total independence, but it does allow a lot of room for the commander to make real choices about what he does. For example, a roll of 1,1,2,2,3,4 would allow you to activate two Teams (the 1's) two sections (the 2's), one Junior Leader (the 3) and one Senior Leader (the 4). However, you could also combine two 2's to activate two senior Leaders, or add the 1';s and 2's together so that three squad leaders could all be activated. Or you could combine the two 1's to allow you to activate four squads on the 2,2,2,3 combination and use your senior Leader to command three support units. Or…well…or almost anything actually. In each Phase of play the gamer has lots of choices to make in order to create the best possible result with what Command Dice he has available. Not perfect, by all means, but not chaotic nor does it dictate precisely which units the player must activate.

However, let us forget all of the military psycho-babble about great German thinkers. What I think is most important is that thousands and thousands of people across the globe are enjoying the fun that can be had with Chain of Command. Eight days ago it was a Chain of Command game set in Stalingrad which won an award at Partizan. Last summer Chain of Command won the Wargames Illustrated award for best historical wargame, I'll be in Scotland next week for a weekend of gaming at a Lard event there playing Chain of Command. The following week Ill be in Gloucestershire doing the same and after that at Historicon in the USA playing Chain of Command with people who, like me, love the game. That for me is what is most important. The designer of another WWII rule set ranting on here about how rubbish my game is does rather suggest that not everyone likes to see others having fun, unless, of course, they are doing it HIS way.

Happy gaming

Rich

VVV reply29 May 2018 11:40 a.m. PST

I have to say that I find it rather difficult to make any comment here as it seems that to address any argument to VVV is an utter waste of time as his mind is clearly set to the point where any continued debate or discussion is pointless.

Nope, always willing to be convinced by an argument, instead of just a statement.
Of the two, I place myself firmly in the latter camp. I understand the importance of the former but am prepared to abstract aspects of the technical whilst focussing more on the human experience. Am I right?

I would say, design the rules so they produce historical results within the constraints of having a good game.
To suggest that "you can only do what the command dice allow you to do" suggests that choice is removed and you must conform to what the dice determine. This is a nonsense and either a wilful misrepresentation of the truth by someone who thinks the system of rules he has devised is better, or simply a case of continued misunderstanding despite being advised otherwise by numerous other commentators.

Nope, the dice roll for activating your troops just places a limit on what your units can do. So why not do away with them and allow every unit in your force to activate every phase. Is there a reason not to do so?
As an example I give you the roll I got for the US force in the first turn, third phase (posted earlier but I don't mind repeating it)
US rolls: 1, 5, 3x6 (CCD 4) no activations possible, 3x6 means phase ends and new turn starts

All the US player could have done with that roll, was activate one team. Hence my view (based on facts) that it is a limitation, nothing else.
To suggest that "you can only do what the command dice allow you to do" suggests that choice is removed and you must conform to what the dice determine.

Yep, as shown.
What I think is most important is that thousands and thousands of people across the globe are enjoying the fun that can be had with Chain of Command.

Great.
That for me is what is most important. The designer of another WWII rule set ranting on here about how rubbish my game is does rather suggest that not everyone likes to see others having fun, unless, of course, they are doing it HIS way.

If I started to rubbish your rules, believe me you would notice. In one respect you are of course right, the important thing is that the players are having fun. After all no one is paying us to play these games. But lets just get what is happening in a rule set right.
One question I had was, could I split a roll of a 2 on a die, so say I had another 2, could I make 2x2 into a 3 (2+1)?

VVV reply29 May 2018 11:56 a.m. PST

I've got to ask as the intimation that having every single unit in your force able to activate as per Bolt Action is seen as historically accurate which is plainly isn't if you've ever read MacDonald, Keegan, Holmes et al. Having your attack/defence fall apart because your sections/gun groups are being tardy, refusing to move or are being slower than the rest of your force is more the norm.

BTW do you have a reference to that in McDonald Company Commander? I looked but could not see anything like that. Yes squads that come under fire often hit the deck and are difficult to get moving again, but thats enemy fire, not just stopping 'because'.
In fact attacks seem to go forward just as the troops trained to do and as would happen under Bolt Action.
I am thinking of company Gs attack into Varlossen, no opposition to speak of but then no problems either.210 German prisoners, 30 Germans killed.
Captain Calhoun sent his 2d Platoon down the road. I assembled my CP group and the 3d Platoon and waited until the F Company men had gone two hundred yards. I signalled "Forward" and we started toward the objective on the run, a single column following the ditch on either side of the road. The pace was too fast, and I slowed to a fast walk. I listened intently for the sound of a telltale explosion in the distance that would mean the enemy tankers were opening fire, planning exactly how I would drop to the scant cover of the shallow ditch. But the telltale explosion did not come. We entered the town, and I looked back and saw two more platoons following us. Still the enemy tankers did not fire. The 1st Platoon had almost completed clearing our assigned sector of the town. There had been no fight. They had three prisoners and another who was wounded. My rear CP group arrived and took over the prisoners. "Maybe that's all for the day," Sergeant Henderson said. "As if it weren't enough. This is some kind of record for G Company…two hundred and ten prisoners and at least thirty Kraut killed." E Company led the assault at seven o'clock the next morning riding on the two platoons of tanks astride the highway. We followed on the tank destroyers and three trucks, waiting in Varlossen while E Company took the first town and then moved on to the second. Then we leap-frogged into the first town. There had been no opposition. E Company reported all clear in Dransfeld, the second town, and we moved forward again, waiting in our vehicles at the edge of Dransfeld while the assault company moved on.

jdginaz29 May 2018 1:58 p.m. PST

Charles MacDonald has written several books and studies on WWII not just "Company Commander".

TacticalPainter0129 May 2018 2:11 p.m. PST

I am thinking of company Gs attack into Varlossen, no opposition to speak of but then no problems either.

Actually you only assume this. There is no evidence either way. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

What he does tell us is that his men moved too fast (I've had that happen to me in CoC and we blundered into a close combat). He then has to slow down the pace. Here is evidence of men moving at variable rates and a junior officer having to exert more control to slow them down. Frankly I see that as a good example of what CoC tries to represent with the movement rolls. A normal move in CoC will average at 6-8", but from time to time the men will go faster or slower. Exactly as your example above.

On a broad note MacDonald records a day of movement and success. If there is anything to be assumed it would come from his tone and sense of jubilation. They had a good day, yet his tone suggests that this was anything but an ordinary day.

TacticalPainter0129 May 2018 4:35 p.m. PST

In fact, let's look at this quote a lot closer, seeing as it is your example:

I signalled "Forward" and we started toward the objective on the run, a single column following the ditch on either side of the road.

The move forward didn't happen independently, the men waited for the platoon commander to be present and a signal to move forward. Units don't just move because you want them to, because every turn they must get an activation. They move because the commander instructs them to. That introduces a number of possible variables – what if the commander is called away, or distracted? what if he doesn't fully understand the orders? etc etc

The pace was too fast, and I slowed to a fast walk.

Surely this is brutally clear evidence for why you would want to have variable movement rates? Without the order to slow down, would the men have just continued at the same pace even though that was not the desire of the commander? MacDonald's recollection implies he needed to take control of the situation.

I listened intently for the sound of a telltale explosion in the distance that would mean the enemy tankers were opening fire, planning exactly how I would drop to the scant cover of the shallow ditch.

Here MacDonald is telling us about his caution. Despite the absence of any enemy interference or fire, he has slowed down, he's listening out for fire and planning how to act if it occurs. Yet it hasn't. To use your phrase, he's moving down the road on a sunny day. So what's to stop him moving at the same pace? Well, as MacDonald tells us, there are several good reasons to change the pace, yet none if it the result of enemy action.

But the telltale explosion did not come.

No enemy action, so in your view, no need for any friction. In your version of the rules MacDonald would have taken his platoon at full speed down the road. Now, who's being 'unrealistic' here?

The 1st Platoon had almost completed clearing our assigned sector of the town. There had been no fight.

In CoC terms this would require the unit to neutralise and capture the enemy Jump Of Points (part of that Patrol Phase you think is so unnecessary). Note however they have 'almost completed' clearing out. There had been no fight….so far. Still grounds for caution one would suspect, grounds for moving carefully.

"Maybe that's all for the day," Sergeant Henderson said.

Maybe, that's all? So the Sergeant doesn't know what is coming next, if anything at all. CoC's uncertainty, which means any Jump Off Point is still potentially dangerous, simulates fog of war well. As the Sergeant says, "maybe"….

E Company led the assault at seven o'clock the next morning riding on the two platoons of tanks astride the highway. We followed on the tank destroyers and three trucks, waiting in Varlossen while E Company took the first town and then moved on to the second. Then we leap-frogged into the first town.

That all sounds very smooth and easy, but it's a sweeping and short description of a whole day's activities by two companies. In this case we have MacDonald reporting the achievements of another company. He can't tell us the small details, because he wasn't there. It tells us little about the nitty gritty of moving to contact that a skirmish game would seek to reflect because MacDonald and his men spent that day in trucks.

All he tells us is that E Company reported the town 'clear'. We have no idea what was involved, how long it took, if there were any events along the way…

Sorry VVV, even your own sample of 'evidence' doesn't really stack up under scrutiny.

Wolfhag29 May 2018 8:30 p.m. PST

Great post Rich,

In general terms, no rule set is better than any other one. Rule sets tend to be a reflection of the game designer's own prejudices and opinions of the conflict being gamed. By way of example, some game designers feel that technology is the critical factor, whereas others consider then men who fought to be more important. In the case of the former, their game is likely to be a comprehensive study of ballistics, the importance of sloped armour and the mechanical aspect of warfare. The latter is more inclined to consider the abilities of men, as well as their frailties and the importance of leaders on the battlefield.

This is something everyone should read and understand before being allowed to post on TMP.

Wolfhag

VVV reply29 May 2018 9:38 p.m. PST

The pace was too fast, and I slowed to a fast walk.

Yes I noticed that and it was either too fast because it was too tiring or it would have upset the time table of attack. But either way, the commanders choice and not a random action.
And thats what I pointed out about CoC, having what you troops can do limited by dice rolls is silly. The player is controlling their troops, so let them make the choices about what should be doing. By all means make those choices constrained by realistic limits but not just dice rolls. Obviously walking forward into enemy fire would not be realistic or allowed under most rules (but again you might expect Japanese troops to do it).
That all sounds very smooth and easy, but it's a sweeping and short description of a whole day's activities by two companies. I

Well spotted, my point, in the absence of enemy activity, why should not everything go smoothly, just like a walk down a country lane. Little mishaps of course but not the bad luck that CoC inflicts every two minutes or so of real time.
It is worth basing our rules on real life, otherwise they are just games.

toofatlardies29 May 2018 11:09 p.m. PST

Truly this is a fruitless exercise.

Abandon all hope ye who post here…

Keith Talent30 May 2018 1:38 a.m. PST

"Well spotted, my point, in the absence of enemy activity, why should not everything go smoothly, just like a walk down a country lane. Little mishaps of course but not the bad luck that CoC inflicts every two minutes or so of real time.
It is worth basing our rules on real life, otherwise they are just games."

That's the point, CoC does precisely this, it's called the patrol phase.
During that aspect of the game the player moves freely, 12" at a time. Very quick, no hazards, no dicing, no friction. Just like the oft mentioned stroll down a country lane. The actual nitty-gritty of a game of COC, the bit when the troops are on the table, doesn't represent troops strolling down that beautiful country lane, it represents troops who are (by definition of the JOP system) in very close proximity to the enemy, who are in, or who are expecting imminent contact. Which Is when it is worth modelling that potential for friction. The rest of the time, no, it isn't worth modelling, and CoC doesn't attempt to do it.

TacticalPainter0130 May 2018 2:31 a.m. PST

Abandon all hope ye who post here…

+1

You think I may have learned that by now….

VVV reply30 May 2018 2:47 a.m. PST

That's the point, CoC does precisely this, it's called the patrol phase.
During that aspect of the game the player moves freely, 12" at a time. Very quick, no hazards, no dicing, no friction. Just like the oft mentioned stroll down a country lane.

So why not just do that, no special rule needed.
The reason, because as in Bolt Action (so no difference between them there) what the player can see, his troops can shoot at. Again from the same part of Company Commander
A sudden burst of machine-gun fire told me that E Company had run into trouble. I heard Lieutenant Carroll K. Heitzman, of Litchfield, 111., the exec who was commanding the company in the absence of Captain Manning, who was on pass to London, talking to battalion over the radio. "We're inside Warmissen," he said, "but the sonofabitches shot a machine gun from that wooded hill to the right and caught my fourth tank. Killed five men and a tank ran over another. Wounded three." I knew that it would be a matter of minutes before we would be committed to clean out the machine gun. Being the second company to be committed was hardly better than being in the assault element initially. I did not have to wait long for the order. Captain Byrd rode up beside me in a jeep and gave me the information. I should move my company as quickly as possible to the south and clear out the wooded hill. The men jumped quickly from their vehicles as if they had been expecting the assignment. We moved from the cover of the buildings and saw the town of Warmissen lying in a wide, deep valley before us. High hills rose on either side. A small patch of woods lay half-way up the slope of the hill to the south, and at the crest of the hill a timberline began that extended to the southeast as far as the eye could see. I decided that the enemy gunner must have fired from the small patch of woods, the other was too far away to have caused the damage inflicted on E Company. A platoon of machine gunners from H Company under Technical Sergeant Lamar Pate, of Mauston, Wis., set up on the edge of Dransfeld to cover our advance. We moved out in approach-march formation across a shallow draw and up the side of the hill toward the patch of woods. The scouts came closer and closer to the woods, but nothing happened. I wondered why the Germans did not fire. The lead scouts entered the woods, and the platoons followed close behind. I decided that the enemy gunners must have retreated to the east. "There's no sign of any machine gun…no foxholes…no nothing," Lieutenant Bagby radioed. We continued into Warmissen.

It was a phenomenon of WW2 (and later wars). The enemy could see you and shoot at you, whilst you could not see them. Why the writers of both sets of rules did not consider it important beats me but they both did.

Keith Talent30 May 2018 3:34 a.m. PST

"So why not just do that, no special rule needed."
Don't be deliberately obtuse, I explained it extremely clearly. Again:
The rule performs that task during the patrol phase when friction is not an issue. During the rest of the game, when friction is a factor, variable movement applies.
It's an elegant and original solution to a number of perennial problems in a tabletop wargame, it performs the task above, does away with some of the 100 foot general syndrome, speeds up the initial stages of deployment and movement compared to both sides lining up on the baseline, and generally introduces another small level of uncertainty to challenge the player.

Snowcat30 May 2018 4:37 a.m. PST

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