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"Table movement distance" Topic

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UshCha12 Mar 2019 9:30 a.m. PST

There has been a considerable and sometimes amicably animated discussion on table movement distances between the authors and players of Maneouvre Group and how they are defined. In issue 1 of the rules these were defined in real scale meters and on table movement in inches for 1/72 troops. in the new world order where play is now often with 1/144 troops where the movement is defined as the rules distance in meters in milometers on table.

The author makes no apologies for quoting real distances as this helps folk to understand the ranges assumed, they can look them up and make there own consideration.

After much debate the consensus, including me after hearing out the arguments for and against, is that the rules should only quote real ground scale distances and then allow the player the simple scaling to actual on table distances.

Where do you fit in this debate?

Obviously "gamey" systems with exponential range systems are not subject to such debates as there is no credible connection between table range on table range.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Mar 2019 11:07 a.m. PST

QILS uses dimensionless units for measurement. The unit is based on the size of a "standard" base, which is specified in the scenario, thus varies genre to genre based on implementation.

This results in a simple, transferrable and easy to play set of rules.

The "work" is shifted to scenario design. Basically, the scenario writer does all the work to figure out the basic unit and what it represents in a specific milieu. The players just move consistent, standard distances.

We normally play "in inches" with 28mm figures, but occasionally play "in cm" with 15mm figures.

This system could be transferred to any measurement you want, so you could use girah if you wanted. We have used it to play one kaiju game in the yard (~1/2 acre usable backyard) where a unit was a yard, and the figures were the players (in costume, of course) in a storage box urban environment. We used carpenter's laser rangers (set to yards) to measure distances.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Mar 2019 12:17 p.m. PST

So long as a ground scale is given and explanation is provided as to how it ties in to base sizes and troop representation I'm firmly in the 'use real distances' camp.

It always seems totally silly to say things like "You can't hit my Sherman, you are over 40 inches away.". "800m ? Sorry but my Sherman is beyond your effective range" sounds right and proper to me.

Having said that and, again, with the proviso that the scale & relationships are all properly explained and presented, etotheipi's idea works just as well.

What doesn't work is when the relationships between ground scales, figure representation and movement do not fit into a correct framework that mirrors reality.

deephorse12 Mar 2019 1:43 p.m. PST

Where do you fit in this debate?

For me there is no debate. Set aside a small part of your rulebook, preferably somewhere near the begining, and there define what your figure and ground scales are. Then, because I will be using a tape measure marked out in inches and centimetres to play your rules, never mention ‘real' ground scales distances again. Instead refer to weapon ranges and move distances in inches/centimetres because I do not want to have to perform any mental arithmatic converting 475 yards to tabletop inches everytime I want to spot or shoot at something.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Mar 2019 2:53 p.m. PST


All fine provided you use exactly the size of bases decided by the author – and probably the same size of figures too. If you want some flexibility then it just doesn't work without even more mental arithmetic.

Personally I try and work it so it is a simple multiple/divisor; 2 or 10 work well and ANYONE can divide/multiply by those without effort. Also critical distances can be obvious multipliers of easily scaled values.

Multiple critical distances tend to occur more in post mechanisation periods and I've little or no interest in those periods except at a grand tactical level or above.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Mar 2019 5:16 p.m. PST

+1 deephorse

If I am not playing using the author's standard, I will redraw the charts to my ground scale.So if the author indicates 1" = 50 yards, and I am playing 1" = 100 yards, I will fill out rosters or edit charts to reflect that. No math necessary.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Mar 2019 4:48 a.m. PST

I will fill out rosters or edit charts to reflect that. No math necessary.

Well, you are doing the math. You're just doing it outside the game rather than during the game. This is obviously the superior idea, because it is what I espoused! ;)

This bit of this thread has a relationship to the What slows you games down the most? thread. In situ math vice exported math.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2019 10:32 p.m. PST

I am not sure why there is a debate. Either you care to know the ground scale or you don't. If you don't, then anything that works well,is good to go. Going for distances measured in base frontages is an example.

If you do care about the representational aspects of wargaming, you probably will agree with UshCha:

"the rules should only quote real ground scale distances and then allow the player the simple scaling to actual on table distances."

Then there is etotheipi's approach with "dimensionless units for measurement. The unit is based on the size of a "standard" base, which is specified in the scenario, thus varies genre to genre based on implementation."

If players don't care about the issue, there is no debate. IF there is any concern about distances or how they are represented, it doesn't matter how the rules describe distances or fail to like "One-Hour Wargames" or Black Powder.
Players are not stopped from determining and using actual ground scale.

Bottom line: regardless of the rules presentation, players can figure out the ground scale based on the units represented…even in Neil's "One-Hour Wargames."

If you want to. There are ways to avoid the math in games if you want to. If it is important to have actual distances, you can have them regardless of the rules.

So, what are we debating? It isn't accessibility to the information desired or the ability to use it in a game regardless of the rules. We certainly can't place a "should" on players' preferences or how they "must" play their game games. One man's obstacle to play is another man's enjoyment in play.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Mar 2019 8:34 a.m. PST

I suppose if you wanted to bring in a unit from outside the game and assign game stats to it based on statistics from a referent (a real world tech manual, a canon assertion about the distance a scifi plasma rifle fires, or maybe another game), "real world" distances would be the Rosetta Stone to translate into your system.

I still agree that such work is best done outside the game play. Looking stuff up in a techman then doing unit conversions is not the type of thought that should be going on in the play of the game.

My preference is to work that out in scenario design. I think there are too many contextual considerations, even for measurement, to fix too many stats in the rules.

I'm not sure what an exponential distance system is, but I'm pretty sure I don't have table space for it. :)

UshCha16 Mar 2019 1:59 a.m. PST

Exponential range. Some "Games" want to put models on the table where in a linear rangeing system they could not possiblely be present. Threfor thay progressively shorten ranges of weapons, as there real range gets longer. Rifles may only be half the range of a machine gun instead of about 3 times and tank guns are shortemed even more. It allows lots of vehicles on table but destroys the credibility of simulation. You pays your money and takes your choice.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2019 12:20 p.m. PST

Rifles may only be half the range of a machine gun instead of about 3 times and tank guns are shortened even more. It allows lots of vehicles on table but destroys the credibility of simulation.

Rick Priestley gives the logic behind those types of design choices in his book Tabletop Wargames: A designer's & writer's handbook.

You pays your money and takes your choice.

Exactly, but even there regardless, you can
1. determine what the actual distances should be in reality, as you note, and
2. Make any changes you want accordingly, including having players speak and use the scale distances in game processes.

So, it isn't a debate other than to say "I like" about a particular approach to table-top gaming.

It only goes wonky when the designer does Priestley but claims to have provided UshCha.

From Blitzkrieg to North Africa, from the Russian Front to the D-Day Landings, Bolt Action puts YOU in command of the most brutal and famous battles of the Second World War.

Yeah, but that doesn't count because that is just hype… So, not wonky, just a little fake news.

UshCha16 Mar 2019 3:36 p.m. PST

Read the review on the Handbook, personally of no interest he is not a simulator so no common ground for me. Definitely Fake news

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2019 7:52 p.m. PST

UshCha: Wasn't suggesting you had any common ground or wanted to read it…unless you had any interest in knowing the thinking behind that kind distance skewing, particularly on a very popular game system[s].

Tis all.

streetgang6 Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2019 2:22 a.m. PST

+1 to deephorse and Extra Crispy

Time, Distance, and Figure scales are the first thing I look for when I open up a new set of rules. Next is the sequence of play, which implicitly puts time, distance, and figures into a relationship of action model into motion. I'm not as harsh as UshCha is on Rick Priestly, but I understand where he is coming from. It definitely encapsulates the tension between realism and play-ability.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2019 9:51 a.m. PST

It definitely encapsulates the tension between realism and play-ability.


I am not as harsh on Rick either, other than some of his rationales for jettisoning 'realism' sort of, kind of, but not really.

However, most of Rick's reasoning doesn't address 'play-ability' per se [that is ease of play, simplicity etc.] but rather what *most* players want.

For instance, he writes:

Weapon ranges should be geared to movement ranges rather than some literal concept of scale.

He never explains that 'should' but comes to this conclusion from his starting position:

Movement and weapon ranges [for black powder periods]
can be boiled down to fairly straight-forward mathematical formulae:

*Slow units move = M/2
*Standard units move = M
*Fast units move = 2M
*Distance short range weapons can fire = M
*Distance standard range weapons can fire = 2M
*Distance long range weapons can fire = 3M+

Where M = T/8 and T is the width of the playing table--normally about 48".

That's all fascinating, but why that *should be* is never explained. The other interesting thing about the above formula is that--as far as I can tell--Rick hasn't used it in his designs, or at best deviated significantly from it.

Is that formula addressing a "playability issue"? Obliquely at best. I can explain further, but… for WWII and Modern games, he explains:

The success and polularity of various rules sets covering World War II and more recent conflicts suggests that players like to field tanks, artillery and other heavy equipment regardless of the model scale. Manufacturers are equally enthusiastic when it comes to providing these larger models. Games designers who don't allow for such things on the basis of scale realism are onto something of a loser so far as the public is concerned. If rules are commercial products backed by model manufacturers it si only to be expected that the rules accommodate the company's full range. So everyone colludes to allow this innocent activity to continue unabated. That is why games like Bolt Action are obliged to use such a heavy, non-linear reduction of scale at the upper end of weapon ranges.

I appreciate Rick's candor in this, but his scale/movement/range choices for his WWII rules have nothing to do with the 'playability' of the rules themselves.

Wolfhag17 Mar 2019 12:23 p.m. PST

I think Rick's justification is to please the majority of miniatures players desire – eye candy and a game that simulates a Hollywood movie.

Let's play a skirmish game with 28mm models on a 4-foot table and include light, heavy and medium tanks, anti-tank guns, infantry, light, medium and heavy artillery, air strikes and naval gunfire. Why? Because it's fun and I get to put ALL of my models on the table. I've seen this many times. A large percentage of people like it. Go figure.

The company publishes books and make models and wants to make the most money by appealing to the most amount of people. It appears to be a game designed by the marketing department. Priestly's Italian partner pleaded guilty in a video to knowing nothing about WWII combat and laughed about it.

WH40K is an immensely successful game, use the engine for WWII to sell more models. Why shouldn't they?

The first thing I look for is the time/distance scale and design for cause or effect. I can't play a game that has all of the factors and combat engine designed around a D6.


Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2019 2:01 p.m. PST

Yep. I have no problem with that. I play those sometimes. Great fun. And I have equal fun with the more 'realistic' simulation games too.

It's the silly 'can't do realism' and 'insurmountable tabletop restriction' justifications for the design choices that irk me.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Mar 2019 5:50 a.m. PST

Rifles may only be half the range of a machine gun instead of about 3 times and tank guns are shortemed even more.

How is that exponential?

UshCha19 Mar 2019 10:36 a.m. PST

etotheipi Exponential scaling as defined in some bits of engineering, is generally defined as below.

simply y=k*x^-n

where y = table distance.
K = an arbitary Constant to get correct scaling for one datum weapon.
x = actual weapon range
-n = variable greater than 1 as the exponent.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Mar 2019 7:01 p.m. PST

By picking an arbitrary constant for each different weapon, you are changing the set point of the equation for each case, so the function is irrelevant.

UshCha19 Mar 2019 9:37 p.m. PST

etotheipi, appologies there seems to be a misunderstanding, in the above expression you:-
1) define a datum weapon, say a rifle, and decide what its table distance range is, say 12 inch and the rate of decay say n=-2. You then set K so the result(y) is for a rifle of say 300 yds is 12.
2) For other weapon ranges you keep the values of n and K from (1) and change x,to the range of other weapons larger or smaller to give them there table range.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Mar 2019 6:07 a.m. PST

OK, that is finally an exponential model. It's a negative exponential, which wouldn't be realistic because it inverts the order of the ranges.

I doubt you can provide an example of any game that does that. If you normalize around a rifle, a tank wouldn't shoot longer than it's body and a person could throw a rock off the game board, across the room and into the next building.

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