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"Workable definition of a Simulation Wargame" Topic

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UshCha08 Aug 2019 2:24 a.m. PST

One oth the skill i learned in engineering is that you have to have a workable definition of a problem before you can solve it. I did try this on Games design but the Fantasists got in on the act and their requirements are in conflict in may cases with the real world, the real world not being an issue for them.

I have found uniquely that the Cold War board has a self selecting clientele more interested in the real world.

Even then there are disparities in level of detail. Wolfhag's Tank simulation is interesting in its own right but aimed at widely different levels of detail to my own attempts. However they do have in common that they are simulation the real world and are doing so in a reasonably traceable manner.

So can is there a vary basic Technical minima that covers all simulation using figures and models as the key force representation?

This is a straw man approach feel free to disagree, but give clear physical reasons, "I just don't fancy it" is not a credible statement within this thread.

If there is no one common common basics set, is there self consistent groups to cover various styles, that will come at some stage inevitably but is there an overarching set. If we cannot agree even that then it is of no surprise that there is no "innovation" as one mans innovation may be another's massive step backwards.

I will start off with only one basic requirement, last time I started with too many.

1) The basic map and weapon ranges must be based on Euclidean Geometry. I.e a flat map. This only becomes a real issue over a few hundred miles so, to me is outside of a miniatures game. A world conflict game would need to be non euclidean as the closest approach to widely spaced units becomes a great circle not a strait line.

This applies to gun ranges in general. We ourselves do allow minimal distortion at very short ranges up to say 100m to cater, in part, for the oversized nature of linear elements such as roads.

Let there be hopefully some technical debate and critique and even more categories of war game simulation.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Aug 2019 6:41 a.m. PST

A general issue I have with wargamers' use of simulation, is that in the minds of many it means we must "simulate everything." So that means adding in details such as angle of shot, ammmo load outs, visibility, radio quality etc. etc. ad infinitum.

But a simulation in a game should start with the right question: what are we trying to simulate? And "everything" is just the answer of the fantasist.

One of our club members used to teach at the war college. One simulation they did, as a game, was to put you (the commander) in a room and all the data you had to go on was radio chatter. It was as clear/garbled as in real life. You had maps and could ask questions and so on.

Then, at critical points you were expected to make key decisions. There was no penetration value, no armor thickness, no defensive value. Just data and decision making.

I took part in a logistics simulation in business school. In it, each player was given a rule/process to follow as we passed blank index cards – each representing a shipment in a supply chain – from place to place. For each turn you took a card and applied your "process." After ten turns we looked upon the chaos and wept. Then we each discussed our "rule." In a vacuum all the rules made perfect sense. Lesson learned.

But gamers want to simulate morale, crew quality, armor strength, communications, penetration values, engineering, combined ops, etc. etc. all in one game. And then we complain the rule book is too long and the QRS won't fit on one page!

Rakkasan08 Aug 2019 6:48 a.m. PST

Broadly speaking, in reply to your question, "So can is (sic) there a vary (sic) basic Technical minima that covers all simulation (sic) using figures and models as the key force representation?" No
The constraints of the table top, the abstraction necessary to display 3D terrain and figures on the table, and on the humans moving items (such as arm length, ability to visualize or remember hidden or camouflaged elements, attention span) around are too many and varied to provide the level of detail/accuracy you demand to conduct a simulation.

A computer based product can deliver that level of detail. A second choice would be a flat map with flat cards representing the forces in question, Advanced Squad Leader would be an example. Even in ASL, elements are abstracted in ways that take away from your definition of a simulation.

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2019 7:08 a.m. PST

Extra has asked the right question. And as Ush points out,
Cold War enthusiasts (I game Yom Kippur) tend to want to apply the vast data available to a game.
But do we really want to simulate every step of firing a tank gun? How many dice rolls per shot? 2? 4? More?

I have found that once you get to gaming WWII, it is essential to ask "what are you trying to simulate", or else you will never finish a game.

I would add that trying to "simulate" combat from different eras requires some creative as well as technical thinking. Particularly if one does not want to get bogged down in detail. "Crossfire" is just such an application of creativity to capture 20th century combat, as opposed to earlier combat. My question in gaming YKW is: "are the rules I'm using reflect how YKW is different from WWII?"

batesmotel3408 Aug 2019 7:12 a.m. PST

I think as a minimal requirement for a simulation it should define the plaer's equivalent role/PoV in the real world. Based on that a simulation should offer the player choices similar to those significant choices that the player's real world counterpart would need to make.

While the underlying rules mechanisms should hopefully provide results equivalent to what would happen in the real world, I think it is much less important that they try to replicate all the details involved directly. Essentially simulation for me is allowing/forcing the player to make the same choices their real world equivalent had to make while preventing them from influencing details that they would have no control over in the real world.


UshCha08 Aug 2019 9:26 a.m. PST

Again we appear to have gone into esoteric discussions. Is it necessary to fight in euclidian space so all the weapons have a range commensurate with the table ground scale. To be fair Crossfire started out that way everything was inside rifle range so range was not an issue. Then it started bringing in Artillery, basically its too close combat for that so it degenerated from a clever simulation to a game. To be useful we have to determine what parameters we want to have individually or as part of a group. This thread seems to have failed before its started failing to grasp at a perticular nettle, instead yet more navel gazing.

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2019 10:23 a.m. PST

OK. Then I'll add a requirement:

The rules/game must possess the "feel" of the period gamed.

(otherwise, the miniatures one uses could range from colored blocks to Ancient Greeks to Fulda Gap circa 1984 and it wouldn't make any difference)

I would define "feel" as "what makes the period unique".

Uparmored In the TMP Dawghouse08 Aug 2019 12:56 p.m. PST

Once I can have a permanent solo setup I want to use Phoenix Command to play. I expect one game to last months or even years. That's my fantasy.

UshCha08 Aug 2019 2:42 p.m. PST

Gents all these are hopeless/useless statements, you can't design for feel it has no physical reality. What parameters do you judge the feel on. In the same way you can't design a dream, you have to design something in the real world.

Lion in the Stars08 Aug 2019 5:31 p.m. PST

You know, Uparmored, I'm pretty sure there are psychologists you can talk to for that… (I have the Living Steel rules, that's a detail nightmare) evil grin

At some levels, I think I'd say that most gamers don't put enough importance on training and morale (nor do they apply morale at the correct points!).

Even as a submarine sailor, the technical part of the job was quite honestly overwhelmed by the training (and morale, to some extent). For example, a well-trained crew could load a torpedo in ~12 minutes without violating any safety handling rules (no unrestrained weapons, nobody at risk of getting squished by hydraulics). A Battle E crew, best in that fleet, could probably do it in 9-10. A crappy crew might be able to get it done in 18-20 min, and could take more than 30 min. And if you accept the risk of an unrestrained weapon (3500lbs of weapon and 600lbs of explosive!!!) rolling around, one single torpedoman could probably get a weapon loaded in 5 minutes in an absolute panic.

Pan Marek Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2019 7:19 p.m. PST

If you're looking for mathematical equations to design a rules set, you're not going to get much help.

I don't think "feel" is numerically quantifiable. I gave a definition. I also gave an example of a ruleset that I think fulfilled this requirement.

But I'm done with this thread. I do not need to make sincere suggestions, only to be insulted.

Zephyr108 Aug 2019 8:33 p.m. PST

You talk of a map, but it appears you also want to play at a skirmish level (i.e. 1:1) Is there a specific "scale" you want to play at (or 'simulate')? Defining this would make things clearer…

UshCha09 Aug 2019 1:07 a.m. PST

Be it skirmish or battalion level the game I assume would take place on a piece of ground that is size appropriate to the unit forces involved.


here is a piece of ground about 323 m wide so just over for instance what a WW2 Platoon may defend .

link The frontaage is the vertical axis.

Same area frontage about 1000m company level


Battalion level 2200 same area.


Note the streams Shown only for the battalion area


The streams likely to be difficult crossings for tracked as they are steep banked, normaly with water and prably two to 3 m wide at the top.

Note I have been a bit naughty in picking a very simple area so as to make the area possible to model with typical wargames terrain. What is important is the number of field boundaries that will five partial cover , many will have a small drainage depression to porvide limited hard cover to prone infantry.

Thus the map for a battalion level game will have more roads that tracked can move down and more obsicles to cross than a platoon level game which is most likely to have none due to its mall area. Thus a simulation will need to change its definition of terrain types and add more types as the scale increases. Playing the same game and on the same terrain with the same terrain definitions cannot in my mind qualify it as a simulation.

UshCha09 Aug 2019 1:20 a.m. PST

Pam Marek, sorry you feel insulted. Take is a somewhat of a frustrated reply. The thread introduction said.

This is a straw man approach feel free to disagree, but give clear physical reasons, "I just don't fancy it" is not a credible statement within this thread.

Perhaps you should do the originator the cutesy of reading the thread before replying to it.

Martin Rapier09 Aug 2019 3:11 a.m. PST

Well, with more of an engineering focus, I would expect outcomes on the tabletop (unit foot prints, movement rates in different postures, engineering task timings, logistic consumption, combat outcomes) to bear some relation to their real world outcomes.

These can be fairly high level and abstract, but based on operations research e.g. force ratios and probabilities of mission success for different force postures have been helpfully published by the Defence Science Technology Labs. Unit movement rates are also known, they are published in staff manuals, as is the scale and rate of artillery fire to produce different types of effects on different targets.

All this stuff works much better for battlegroup and higher engagements where there is some meaningful data. Tactical combat is almost impossible to simulate on the table top due to prevalence of human factors over weapons system performance. I would commend Leo Murrays 'Brains and Bullets' to anyone, or if you can find a copy, David Rowlands 'The Stress of Battle'.

Legion 409 Aug 2019 5:28 a.m. PST

I have found uniquely that the Cold War board has a self selecting clientele more interested in the real world.
Well some here were on active duty during the Cold War. Or served in places after the Cold War like Somali, Iraq, A'stan, etc.

So as opposed to other eras, some "were there" so to speak, they "saw the elephant".

Euclidean Geometry
Never got passed basic Algebra … But still managed to lead a Rifle Plt, command a Mech Co., run air ops, logistics, and maint/recovery missions. huh? Successfully in general, if my OERs are to be believed … huh? ! Most importantly I was not relieved ! evil grin Even was awarded a few metals … huh? laugh

Even in ASL, elements are abstracted in ways that take away from your definition of a simulation.
Yes there will inevitably be "abstractions". Only so much can be replicated on the gaming table/board. So IMO you have to get a good balance … which is sometimes hard to do.

That being said, many here who have served in the Military know in the field/on Ops, etc., many, many things can and do happen. Regardless of what the FMs or even history says.

So for gaming purposes sometimes broad generalizations is the best you can do for some situations.

Also Extra Crispy +1

kustenjaeger09 Aug 2019 5:46 a.m. PST

I think it does come back to what one is trying to simulate. Which parts of detailed aspects of the operation at whatever level do you want to factor into algorithms and which do you want to focus decisions on? A player like a commander can only focus on a few things.

Take a company level action on the terrain pictured. If one adopts a fixed ground scale, say 1/600, one can get 1:1 representation of units but certain features will virtually disappear e.g. paths and minor elevations, so assumptions will have to be made about cover and movement.

Further consideration has to be given to variances in activity of subunits caused by factors not visible on a map (or satellite photo) and those caused by differences in training, fatigue, load, section leading capability, morale, visibility (getting lost for a short period is really easy in the dark or close terrain and most exercises and real life actions feature this) at any given time. Do you want to ‘standardise' to average these out or randomise the impacts collectively or individually and at what level – individual, section or higher?

In the defence, what assumptions do you want to make about sitIng of weapons, build quality of defences, skill in laying mines etc.

In all cases what do you assume about working (or more accurately not working) comms (even without enemy action).



Basha Felika09 Aug 2019 11:18 a.m. PST

Extra Crispy +2

Legion 4's got it right , and I've heard it many times from those who know what they're talking about because they've actually served – whatever we do on the table can only EVER be a ‘game' with levels of abstraction and broad generalisation inevitable.

Sorry, we're kidding ourselves if we believe the games we play can ever be an accurate simulation of real warfare – even those played by real soldiers in the real world, from the Prussian General Staff playing Kriegspiel to the current day bear no resemblance to the sort of stuff Ush describes – and they have a far greater reason than us to make them a realistic exercise!

Legion 409 Aug 2019 1:35 p.m. PST

thumbs up

Uparmored In the TMP Dawghouse09 Aug 2019 3:35 p.m. PST

Great reading here, thanks UshCha and all.

Sure you can't 100% replicate actual combat but you can get get closer than you are to doing that now.

It's like recorded music, you can get it sounding very good with the right equipment but you can never do better than the live instruments in the studio. That doesn't stop me trying to get it to sound better or people like UshCha trying to get his game to be closer to the real thing.

I think given unlimited time (permanent table setup) and playing solo, deep simulation is possible and what I really want to do ultimately.

With an opponent who can't regularly attend the fight or who has less patience or interest than I do I want rules that are more abstract but plausible and have a flow.

I generally hate abstraction and cannot understand the point of card games like magic the gathering or why they are popular.

UshCha09 Aug 2019 11:02 p.m. PST

Euclydian Geometry, sorry what it means is flat earth. Most maps assume flat terrain. Of coures it does not work going from the UK to the US as the ground is not realty flat so a flat map is daft at that point. I put it in because there isusually a Smart A… who says that. Why put it in? Well if you start as some "games" do with exponetial ranging you are in effect curving space so a flat map is not correct. I could have said exponential ranging is daft as far as simulation goes, but sombody will now get upset as I have said it.

Uparmoured Thankyou. Take heart. We to my supprise, have hit close to my limit of capability in deep simulation, its not as hard as it looks to capture an understanding in general of the bigger issues.

Even with our own, very simple rules, we have learnt the issues of not having everything running at once as otherwise you are stranded, defenceless, out of ammo and waiting for supplies. Having back stop positions if it goes pear shaped and not feeding kit into a battle picemeal.

Its doable, fun but demanding as befits the role of a senior commnder with no aids to help him.

Legion 410 Aug 2019 9:58 a.m. PST

Euclydian Geometry, sorry what it means is flat earth.
Oh ! We don't use big words like that in the Infantry. We'd just say a map !

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