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"Less Control?" Topic


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©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian20 Nov 2019 7:52 p.m. PST

Most pre-20th Century rulesets give players more control over their troops than their historical counterparts would have had.

On a scale of 10 (super) to 0 (none), how interested would you be in a ruleset that put historical limits on your troop control?

Personal logo Doctor X Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2019 9:18 p.m. PST

10

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Nov 2019 10:13 p.m. PST

10

Personal logo jdginaz Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2019 10:16 p.m. PST

10

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP20 Nov 2019 10:27 p.m. PST

10

gavandjosh0220 Nov 2019 10:30 p.m. PST

10 – try Piquet

Wolfhag21 Nov 2019 12:50 a.m. PST

What exactly would historical control be? At what level, team/section, squad, platoon, etc?

Wolfhag

Karellian Knight21 Nov 2019 5:46 a.m. PST

10

Garryowen Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2019 5:57 a.m. PST

10

jamemurp21 Nov 2019 6:24 a.m. PST

Tough to answer in a vacuum. What is the scale of the game? Historical period? Mechanics? If the game is about managing risks and prioritizing certain units, orders, it could be very fun. Or it could be a chaotic mess.

I am also not sure why the first statement even matters. What most rules do is less important than what fun rules do.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2019 8:48 a.m. PST

This is rather vague when I have never seen "historical limits on your troop control" actually studied in any fashion to actually establish those 'limits' in any era.

That requires some serious methodology and statistical analysis.

"What most rules do is less important than what fun rules do."

You'd think, but then why do these questions keep popping up? And what constitutes 'fun' for a player it multi-faceted, to say the least.

Dynaman878921 Nov 2019 8:49 a.m. PST

10 – There is a point where it gets to be too much but without it the game is basically fantasy. Troops do what they are properly trained to do, they can try to do things differently but it will not end well.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2019 8:54 a.m. PST

Whatever the system, you still have to move everything; unless the exact where and how far is beyond you, then still much more "control" than a corps or even division commander had. Most of you can do is limit the amount of instant reaction to events, and inherent slower pace to higher command decisions than lower echelon local events. Till numerized command (and even never was tested in a full scale modern "equals" war-fortunately.

Personal logo PzGeneral Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2019 9:41 a.m. PST

10

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Nov 2019 9:55 a.m. PST

Scale … scope … historical … etc.

If I am a player, who is my historical counterpart?

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Nov 2019 12:10 p.m. PST

Again, 10!

I have written rules for over thirty years that always put buffers of one or more kinds between the player's "God's View" of the field/encyclopedic knowledge of the game's mechanics and the toys to be pushed around the table.

TVAG

David Brown Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2019 12:19 p.m. PST

B,

re:

That requires some serious methodology and statistical analysis.

I was under the impression this is exactly what you had been working on for a number of years….for your WIP rules?

I may, of course, have been mislead.

DB

UshCha21 Nov 2019 12:22 p.m. PST

If it means plausible control yes 10. Adding more dice rolls to limit control NOOOOOOO! -2^:10000.

Wolfhag21 Nov 2019 1:46 p.m. PST

Remember, this is TMP, we are not going to agree on any definition of "historical limits".

C&C considerations at the Battalion level:
PDF link

Planning Considerations:
link

Also SMEAC, METT-T

If a commander goes down 1 or 2 levels of command to take over he'll have a lot of control locally but probably less at the other units he commands and has to depend on his XO back at the HQ. This is normally done when an attack bogs down or commanders lose their way or are indecisive. It happens. It's called friction.

Does a player need to control a unit if historically it was trained, has an assigned objective and orders and has reaction drills to perform when making contact?

If a unit is assigned an objective to seize would it need to be "activated" each turn by the player to accomplish its objective? What level of control should the player have?

What about small unit initiative and leadership that does not need orders or be activated?

I think "historically" a unit was given an order or objective and would make every attempt to accomplish it without further need for C&C unless something went wrong or the commander needed to change an order. The level of friction in combat and standing orders dictates how that would be handled.

An attack can bog down, there is a call for artillery, the objective is suppressed and the advance continues. If the communications are poor or the arty is not available (not in direct support), reserves not available, then things get progressively worse. The upper echelon commander will pay a visit, that will take time, evaluating the situation will take more time and implementing the solution will take more time. During that delay, the enemy can be doing a variety of things to oppose you and throw off your timing. If it took the commander 20 minutes to implement the solution that solution may not fit what the enemy is now doing. That's friction and the command delay cycle.

What game systems would simulate that friction and command delay?

Example:
In an overall, planned and coordinated assault, a T-34 Company is ordered to advance down a road 2km at precisely 0800 to a junction and hold the junction and wait for reinforcements (Pegasus Bridge?). Don't stop for minefields or to engage the enemy, just get there as fast as possible. All TC's know the drill and objective. Pretty simple to understand.

If only the Commander has a radio and gets knocked out what should the rest of the Company do? What if he loses communications, should he stop? Does the tank company need to be "activated" by the player each turn in order to move? Of course, if there is a change in plans and the Company cannot be contacted they would continue with their mission and suffer the consequences or maybe be the heroes. Who knows?

In a meeting engagement, the commanders that make initial contact are going to react immediately. If they don't and wait for orders from a higher echelon they'll surely lose the initiative.

So how much control does the player really have in these situations? How does the difference in training effect how the opposing units will react, activate, move, shoot, etc?

I think everyone knows where I stand on this and how it should be done.

Wolfhag

Yellow Admiral21 Nov 2019 3:21 p.m. PST

10 in theory.

0-9 as usually implemented.

Wargamer Blue21 Nov 2019 3:30 p.m. PST

10

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP21 Nov 2019 10:36 p.m. PST

I was under the impression this is exactly what you had been working on for a number of years….for your WIP rules?

Dave:

Yes, I am. The idea is to determine the chance of 'loss of control' that begins to match the actual chances of such loss at whatever scale we are talking about. I am planning to ask TMPers for some help in that. For example, I am finding it hard, if not impossible to find where more than one corps commander didn't follow orders for whatever reason in a single battle [For instance, Such as Ney at Bautzen or d'Erlon on June 16th between Ligny and QB] OR more than two division/small column commanders such as Hill at Talavera. Lots of reasons for such missteps, but the frequency is the question--as well as causes.

Lots of games have some level of 'loss of control' which is great. The problem, or more to the point, is providing the players with the same level of probability and kinds of 'loss of control' as the contemporaries suffered.

So you have units failing to move one out of ten times, one out of three times or any variation depending on the rules sets over the last three decades. Based on what other than the fact that loss of control did happen?

We all agree there are traffic accidents on the Freeway. Our designs are like trying to simulate traffic accidents on a freeway by picking a number and spreading the same chances over the entire freeway. Then the designer asks if it 'feels right.' That isn't the way it works in real life and often what feels right doesn't prove to be true--it has to be tested against what is being represented.

The chances of command error in a battle isn't spread over the entire battlefield an inch deep. As with any organization, the odds are that such SNAFUs occur in very specific 'joints' in an organizational operation. The military has always been aware of this and made efforts to mitigate those odds by counter-efforts at those 'joints.' As John Keegan has pointed out, winning a battle is about being the last army to 'lose control'. It is an effort to combat chaos with training, leadership and organization.

Anyway, I give 'less control' a 10 as a concept. I haven't seen it well represented in practice--what actually is the level of 'less' in military control.

When one speaks of 'command and control', those are two things, though interrelated. You command an army, you control the units within it.

Coyotepunc and Hatshepsuut21 Nov 2019 11:11 p.m. PST

I prefer troops that are Impetuous in DBA and that have Wild Charge in Lion Rampant. It's fun having my army or warband running everywhere.

Fat Wally22 Nov 2019 2:01 a.m. PST

11 ;-)

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP22 Nov 2019 9:12 a.m. PST

MCladdie, the problem is you want statistics out of a very few sample of events, even if we could (or want;) get them all. Then something would happen for different reasons, mostly pertaining to bad luck, external input, and personal characteristics of the leader. And how many times will "they" tell you of all, including the key details? hardly scientific work. Might be hopeless. As De Gaulle said "beau programme mais vous mourerez
ΰ la tβche." (beautiful program but you will die trying).
Traffic stats are reliable and go over 1000 times more samples. it might be that cards that get discarded (;) for things that could be but rare be the best way to ensure they don't repeat themselves too much. Obviously with our games we always can have freak results that end up making a "realistic" event look utterly weird.

Andy ONeill22 Nov 2019 11:58 a.m. PST

A general was often just a spectator once troops were committed.
Assuming he could even see what was happening at all.

How would some battles be modelled from the general's point of view?

You write orders.
You get a bunch of garbled and occasionally contradictory reports arrive in dribs and drabs.
Some time later you're told which side won.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP22 Nov 2019 1:58 p.m. PST

You just reinvented Kriegspiel ;) or staff training execises.

thehawk23 Nov 2019 4:25 a.m. PST

0 – historical command and control in pre-20th century wargames has been tried many times. It's not as if this is something new. The experience has been that even when it works reasonably well the mechanics are at odds with enjoyment. I don't even see it as an aspirational goal.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2019 9:41 a.m. PST

The experience has been that even when it works reasonably well the mechanics are at odds with enjoyment. I don't even see it as an aspirational goal.

This seems to be a reoccurring argument: Because other have failed, that makes it an impossible goal. In general, efforts to 'simulate' have been pretty awful. That's because it's been badly done.

And we wonder why there is so little innovation and a move away from historical representation.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2019 9:52 a.m. PST

MCladdie, the problem is you want statistics out of a very few sample of events, even if we could (or want;) get them all.

Jcfrog:

How many events do you believe are possible to find? How many do you think we need? It's an issue with any statistical analysis, not an insolvable problem.

Then something would happen for different reasons, mostly pertaining to bad luck, external input, and personal characteristics of the leader. And how many times will "they" tell you of all, including the key details? hardly scientific work.

And those circumstances are different from other statistical analysis efforts? Those are always issues.

Traffic stats are reliable and go over 1000 times more samples. it might be that cards that get discarded (;) for things that could be but rare be the best way to ensure they don't repeat themselves too much. Obviously with our games we always can have freak results that end up making a "realistic" event look utterly weird.

An so what else is new. You think traffic stats are 'reliable'? The reports they are based on suffer from ALL the issues you listed above: something would happen for different reasons, mostly pertaining to bad luck, external input, and personal characteristics of the leader.[reporting agent] And how many times will "they" tell you of all, including the key details?

If traffic stats in an of themselves were reliable, there would be no need for statistical analysis other than simple counting.

Many statistical analysis methods and goals are in place specifically because data usually isn't reliable anywhere close to the quality or numbers you suggest.

Blutarski23 Nov 2019 2:03 p.m. PST

Don't overthink this. A little chaos will go a LONG way in a game, especially with multiple players and an honest umpire involved as an intermediary.

CiC sending an message? Ump throws a D6.
1-4 – Message delivered next turn.
5 – Umpire delivers the message a turn late.
6 – Umpire throws the message away.

Adjust required scores as you see fit to reflect superior or bad comms, command, etc.

The alternative will be a 500 page special effects manual that no one will ever use.

Also, never underestimate the power of willful ignorance on the part of a player confronted by a gentle umpire hint that runs counter to the player's focused attention. It can be truly awesome to behold.

B

Wolfhag23 Nov 2019 3:02 p.m. PST

Blutarski,
I think you've got the right idea. Delays in orders are what can screw up an operation as pre-battle plans rarely go as planned. Implementing command delays limits the players overall control.

In WWII there was a reason the Platoon and Company level HQ units used runners, horses, jeeps, and motorcycles to deliver messages. Runners can get picked off by snipers or a stray arty round. Motorized messengers can get lost.

An advancing infantry platoon could have a wireman attached laying wire during the advance to have the Platoon HQ in direct contact with the Company commander for no delay. Of course, wires can be broken.

The other variable is the local commanders taking initiative when he sees the operation is not going according to plan as opposed to waiting for an order of what to do next.

Again, the FoW that needs to be simulated is that when the delayed command is received by the units in contact is it the right command and is the unit forced to apply it. Will the local commander see it's wrong and use his initiative to change it or blindly comply (threat of firing squad for disobeying an order).

That can have some very interesting effects.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2019 9:54 p.m. PST

Don't overthink this. A little chaos will go a LONG way in a game, especially with multiple players and an honest umpire involved as an intermediary.

CiC sending an message? Ump throws a D6.
1-4 – Message delivered next turn.
5 – Umpire delivers the message a turn late.
6 – Umpire throws the message away.

Adjust required scores as you see fit to reflect superior or bad comms, command, etc.

Blutarski:

Overthinking it?? "Chaos" is certainly fun in a game, that's why most have dice or cards creating those chance events. The question is whether the set of odds and events you provided have anything to do with the historical odds of orders arriving.

Where does the idea come from that there is a 2 out of 6 chance of orders arriving late or not at all? Based on what? Other than those events happening at times in history, your frequency has nothing to do with representing the actual frequency of those events or others. Then to ask how the historical frequency changed with different armies or periods gets even more questionable. More guesses? How do you know it was at all different between armies, let alone how often?

The alternative will be a 500 page special effects manual that no one will ever use.

Uh, where in the who-ha did you get the idea THAT is the only alternative???

It is no more complicated than providing a die roll with a historically valid frequency for those events. It might require a D10 instead, not a 500 page anything.

Achieving historically validity isn't an all or nothing proposition. The question is getting as close as possible to representing the historical battlefield environment. WAGs aren't part of any historical representation than 'guessing' that Napoleon was 6'2".

There is no rule that game designers have to want to represent historical events, but IF they want to represent history, that evidence has to be the template, not 'flavors' or feelings' or just any old 'chaos.' There is no way to avoid statistical analysis. It is nice when the military does a good deal of the work, such as in Wolfhag's wargame, but it still needs to be done.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2019 9:55 p.m. PST

Again, the FoW that needs to be simulated is that when the delayed command is received by the units in contact is it the right command and is the unit forced to apply it.

Wolfhag:

The operative word is "when." The question is how often and under what circumstances. If in reality, such things usually happened several times in an hour, that will be a very different game experience from them only happening once during a game. Only one choice will be 'representational.'

Wolfhag24 Nov 2019 5:59 a.m. PST

McLaddie,
I guess it really comes down to what you want to happen in a game. Some people like the idea that units don't do what you want on a fairly regular basis. That satisfies their portrayal of chaos and fog of war.

Personally, I like giving the player a Risk-Reward decision. Put your CO in the front for more control and less order delay but he can get killed. Rely on the radio for C&C and expect delays and potential break downs.

At the lower level 1:1 games I do portray poor crews taking longer than good crews and weapons platforms with quicker turret traverse and rate of fire being quicker too.

Units with poor situational awareness or flanked/surprised will have an engagement delay. For some of these I've found historical documentation and examples and other it's a best guess.

Order an infantry unit to move under fire but if their aggressiveness factor is too low and no attached leaders they may balk at moving until a leader gets there and gets them moving again. I don't use unit activations.

Radio transmissions can fail.

Each time a unit shoots there is a 5%-10% chance of a SNAFU to the shooter or target that can result in them delaying the execution of their next action and getting through their loop or a mechanical failure.

These things happen numerous times during the game, that's how I've planned it. Units that have a reputation for being unreliable will have more problems, jams, etc and delays than historically reliable weapons.

I've found that if you can accurately model the timing between units it's easier to build in delays than having special rules.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP24 Nov 2019 9:33 a.m. PST

I guess it really comes down to what you want to happen in a game. Some people like the idea that units don't do what you want on a fairly regular basis. That satisfies their portrayal of chaos and fog of war.

Wolfhag:

Of course it comes down to what you want in a game. I am only addressing the 'want' when it comes to actually modeling history. Gamers and designers are free to want and get whatever they want. I am talking about the technical ways to represent history in game mechanics.

I've found that if you can accurately model the timing between units it's easier to build in delays than having special rules.

Okay. 'Accurately' compared to what? Your model is mimicking some kind of evidence that you've chosen to model. The accurately is how well the model matches the evidence you are relying on.

An example is Bill Gray's Age of Empires. He modeled' Hughes casualty statistics from his book Firepower Bill's model accurately matches Hughes stats--because he tested the wargame for that. Whether Hughes' work is valid history/statistics is a separate question, even though it will effect how folks will view the wargame.

Wolfhag24 Nov 2019 6:26 p.m. PST

McLaddie,
In an attempt to model history I'm using historical sources from the Naval Post Graduate School, TraDocs, Ballistic Research Lab and British War Office Reports that are better sources of data than I could come up with myself or borrow from other games. They are just a few.

This is my approach. The basic aspect of the game utilizes the player's natural ability to use the OODA Loop which is all about timing and you don't need to teach it. This is a completely different approach in which new players seem to be more receptive than older experienced players.

My opinion is that if you can't model 1:1 combat on a second-to-second basis you cannot model the split-second combat results that were so common in WWII and other wars. My goal is to do that in an easy to learn the game.

I use a variety of player Risk-Reward Tactical Decisions where a player can use historical tactics to gain a timing advantage to get through his loop before his opponent. Player decisions are often more important than the dice in the final outcome.

Using the OODA Loop simplifies the game and puts the player in the same loop as their WWII crews and squad leaders and are forced to make the same decisions in the game.

I use movement rates and historic rate of fire timing are synchronized on a second-to-second basis for all moving units and guns for all units on the table. That gives the split-second results without additional rules and die rolls.

Every unit is assumed to be active just as they would be in combat and can react and change orders. There are no activation or initiative rules needed.

Here is an example from an Army Infantry Officer:
link

Example: A target traveling at 28kph will move about 80m in 10 seconds or about 8m/second. If the shooter's gun historic rate of fire is 6 rounds/minute it will shoot every 10 turns after the target has moved 80m – unless at some point the target moved out of the LOS or another unit knocked out the shooter before he shot. Better crews will fire a little sooner, poor crews a little later. The player can decide to shoot a few turns sooner but with an accuracy penalty. He must handle the same speed versus accuracy problem WWII crews were faced with. This has been found to be easy to understand and play by new players because there are no abstracted rules needed.

I've compared my timing values with what is listed in training manuals, personal AAR's, and weapons testing. I've also use combat and training film footage. This includes turret traverse speeds, reload times, typical aiming and ranging times.

The fire control rules are from the US M60 and Sherman tank manual and any tanker will recognize it and the rules simulate Snap Shots, Battle Sight, Burst on Target, Rapid Fire and Range Finder tactics. The players make the decision on how to balance speed and accuracy when shooting and allow him to seize the initiative from his opponent.

No shot has 100% chance of success as there is a 5%-10% chance of something bad happening each time you shoot that will affect the current or next shot (jam, misfire, gunner choked/panicked, etc).

Good detail is fine but playability is key. I've balanced it to the point a 14-year-old with a slight learning disability was able to play against an 18-year-old moving and firing 8 tanks and neither had played a WWII tank-tank game before.

While it probably sounds complicated, the customized data cards show all of the historical information the player needs as he goes through his loop and normally requires one die roll and adding/subtracting one or two numbers. The data cards are laid out in consecutive steps to perform leaving little to memorize.

Specialty rules for opportunity fire, unit activations, command points, IGYG fire/movement are completely eliminated and replaced with the OODA Loop, action timing, simultaneous movement, and player tactical decisions. OODA Loop timing handles shooting/rates of fire and a simple version of simultaneous movement handles movement and speeds up the game.

Here is what I'm using as a base for my infantry timing, firepower, suppression, and movement:
link

Wolfhag

UshCha25 Nov 2019 2:49 a.m. PST

I will admit control is a hard thing to model. I manily do Modern and WW2. The exception is generally poor communication. So for us (Maneouvre Group)communication is usually immediate. We do have a small chance of a small delay. Small delays seem to be commonplace and the other reason for the delay in the rules is that in a time marching solution system like a wargame, it is to prevent near impossible simultanious sysncronisation of complex plans, never an issue in the real world. Our explanation for small delays of simple data is that, we all know we have to repeat things sometimes in a difficult hearing enviroment even at work/home.

I hear a lot about Fog of war being Chaos. Our recent campaigns indicates you do not need chaos theoty to get what looks like chaos.

As an example. You know there are two roads the enemy can come down. You need an early wanning which one. Somtimes you do not have the assests to do that, so you can no longer have a single plan and you have to wait. Trouble is you are depoloyed on both roads. It will take you twice as long to re deploy as the enemy. The enemy attacking goes from formation for movement to deployed for battle. Half of your force needs to move to formation to move, move and then re-deploy. To a grunt in one of those forces it looks random that the enemy just deployed in great strength from nowhere. To the general above it is the expectation. Trying to simulate this with a die roile fails as its not really random and has an order which is very logical. Randomly rolling for artillery is daft, knowing the possibility, FDF's would be in place at key areas even for that platoon on its own.

Wolfhags actual timeing system does the same thing , it shows the real world apparent chaos is not so but based on a very logicla order.

While not perfect, a good way for mne to tell rules appart is simple. If the weapons section is bigger than the command and controled section I put is down immediately as not being a ballanced model and of no interest too me at all.

Legion 425 Nov 2019 8:41 a.m. PST

Wolf +1 on all posts …

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2019 9:40 a.m. PST

Wolfhags actual timeing system does the same thing , it shows the real world apparent chaos is not so but based on a very logical order.

UshCha:
I love this: Apparent chaos is not based on a logical order.

Wolfhag:

Having played your rules a few times, as well as seen the research and statistical analysis you've used, I'm glad you did review that. When you say:

Personally, I like giving the player a Risk-Reward decision. Put your CO in the front for more control and less order delay but he can get killed. Rely on the radio for C&C and expect delays and potential break downs.

you are doing more than making it up as you go. You are simply deciding what you want to focus on and how to provide that experience in your game.

Blutarski25 Nov 2019 9:45 a.m. PST

McLaddie wrote – Overthinking it?? "Chaos" is certainly fun in a game, that's why most have dice or cards creating those chance events. The question is whether the set of odds and events you provided have anything to do with the historical odds of orders arriving.

Where does the idea come from that there is a 2 out of 6 chance of orders arriving late or not at all? Based on what? Other than those events happening at times in history, your frequency has nothing to do with representing the actual frequency of those events or others. Then to ask how the historical frequency changed with different armies or periods gets even more questionable. More guesses? How do you know it was at all different between armies, let alone how often?


>>>>> Perhaps the brevity of my earlier post betrayed the intended thrust of my remarks. I do not promote the inclusion of chaos merely as a means of enhancing the fun factor, although I can certainly imagine occasions when it might well do so. My intent is to represent/introduce to the gaming table the effect of chaos, as found to be ever present upon all the battlefields of history.

You may well disagree with my very simplistic D6 incidence example addressing order transmission. I have no problem whatsoever with that (although, as an aside, I will point out that it is arguably comparable in degree of simplicity to the method employed in F&F. If differently weighted, deeper or more complex schemes appeal, see my appended comment about adjusting required scores, etc.

- – -

McLaddie wrote – "The alternative will be a 500 page special effects manual that no one will ever use." …..
Uh, where in the who-ha did you get the idea THAT is the only alternative???
It is no more complicated than providing a die roll with a historically valid frequency for those events. It might require a D10 instead, not a 500 page anything.
Achieving historically validity isn't an all or nothing proposition. The question is getting as close as possible to representing the historical battlefield environment. WAGs aren't part of any historical representation than 'guessing' that Napoleon was 6'2".

>>>>> Your sensibility may differ here, but I quail at the very notion of attempting to "accurately" model any sort of chaos environment for use by gamers on the tabletop. Such a pursuit IMO represents a path of endeavor without end. Simplicity and restraint must be the rule in such a case. Hence my remark about 500 page rule sets.

Here is a case in point – A player receives detailed orders to land his company on the beach as part of an impotrant amphibious assault.
> the landing craft intended to deliver his men onto the beach become stranded on a reef 800 yards from land.
> the men who finally manage to reach shore find that they have landed on a completely different portion of the beach than intended and have no idea where they are or what they are facing.
> the company commander cannot find any trace of one of his platoons
> all the radios are then found to have been waterlogged and useless.
> no living beachmaster can be located to provide assistance.

A perfectly reasonable case of chaos. How should that be modeled?

- – -

There is no rule that game designers have to want to represent historical events, but IF they want to represent history, that evidence has to be the template, not 'flavors' or feelings' or just any old 'chaos.' There is no way to avoid statistical analysis. It is nice when the military does a good deal of the work, such as in Wolfhag's wargame, but it still needs to be done.

>>>>> Oh, don't get me wrong. You should know me well enough by now to understand that I stand pretty firmly on the simulationist side. My argument has nothing to do with representing versus disregarding history. My point is simply that: (a) SOME things (like chaos) defy both easy analysis and easy representation in terms of wargame mechanics, and (b) need to be modeled from "a safe distance".


B

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2019 9:53 a.m. PST

I hear a lot about Fog of war being Chaos. Our recent campaigns indicates you do not need chaos theoty to get what looks like chaos.

UshCha:

I think folks often speak of chance, die rolls, card play and chaos interchangeably. They don't necessarily mean or represent the same thing. Chaos theory usually has little to do with any of it, including what happens on the battlefield, including the butterfly effect or 'for the want of a nail, a shoe was lost….

It is just a matter of what and how often things happen on the battlefield out of the commander's control [or intent] Exactly when each event happens is the random, chaotic element. On average four chance events will happen in an hour, but when in that hour we don't know, and there is a chance --against the odds but possible---that five of six events will happen in that hour.

As you say, sometimes events look like chaos, but that is only from a particular point-of-view.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2019 10:10 a.m. PST

Here is a case in point – A player receives detailed orders to land his company on the beach as part of an impotrant amphibious assault.
> the landing craft intended to deliver his men onto the beach become stranded on a reef 800 yards from land.
> the men who finally manage to reach shore find that they have landed on a completely different portion of the beach than intended and have no idea where they are or what they are facing.
> the company commander cannot find any trace of one of his platoons> all the radios are then found to have been waterlogged and useless.
> no living beachmaster can be located to provide assistance.

A perfectly reasonable case of chaos. How should that be modeled?

Blutarski:

You say you come down on the side of simulation, but when we start talking about actually simulating, you say it is too complex and you want simplicity.

I am all for simplicity. The answer to your question would depend on the scale, of course. It is about what is chosen is representative of those factors, like your 1-6 roll results. Either that represents the discoverable ratios from history or it doesn't.

You say the above landing scenario "A perfectly reasonable case of chaos."

What does that mean? That every landing will look like that? Not reasonable. That it has a chance of happening? The question is how often. For instance, how often did that happen on D-Day? Was the landing in Sicily or Southern France that chaotic? Often? Did every landing look like that, or just some? Those questions invariably take you back to actual history and statistical analysis. You can't avoid it IF you are interested in representing historical battlefield environments for the players.

Otherwise, just stick in any old random change that sounds fun. But don't claim that it represents actual historical reality.

We can draw up 'quite reasonable' scenarios of chaos until the cows come home… There are billions of possibilities--chaos is like that.] The question for a game designer is where and how often such events occurred in reality? Once that is determined, such events can grouped and simplified into one die rule if you want. It will still be representative of the frequency and types of random chaos.

If the answers are just made up, you aren't representing the odds of chaos found in reality. If researched, the answer could look like this:

the landing craft intended to deliver his men onto the beach become stranded on a reef 800 yards from land.

Happened on three landings out of 80. Not all beaches had such obstacles: only 1 out of 30 chance of happening.

the men who finally manage to reach shore find that they have landed on a completely different portion of the beach than intended and have no idea where they are or what they are facing.

As an example from D-Day, one out of 1-5. Overall from both Europe and the Pacific, 1-25

the company commander cannot find any trace of one of his platoons> all the radios are then found to have been waterlogged and useless.

1-52, but radios being useless for other reasons are included. [such as those used by the British paratroopers on D-Day IIRC.]

no living beachmaster can be located to provide assistance.

From all landings during WWII, 1-42

If we were doing a battalion or regimental level game, those events could be grouped into a few rolls, if that.

Bottom line:

IF those were the actual ratios of events occurring, then the 'reasonable' expectations of all those things happening to one landing is something with one landing is like 1-500. If that is the case, perhaps a game designer could 'reasonably' ignore that chance event for his design.

Then again, what is happening to a company commander is a different issue that no beachmaster for the entire landing being found. All radios being waterlogged is like the odds of all the amph tanks sinking. Most did on U.S. beaches, but not all.

Wolfhag25 Nov 2019 1:53 p.m. PST

Take Tarawa as an example of things going wrong.

On a nearby island a squadron of B-24's was supposed to take off just before dawn and soften up Tarawa before the naval bombardment. Col. D.M. Shoup had requested that Seventh Air Force planes drop 2,000-pound "daisy-cutters" on the beach along the landing beaches, and inland, to kill as many of the enemy as possible and to level the many buildings that would otherwise provide cover and concealment for snipers. This request, approved by division, was never fulfilled.

This was the first test of naval bombardment and it did not go as expected. The Navy predicted they would sink the island from the battleship bombardment. Using direct fire many of the 14" rounds would ricochet off the island and explode harmlessly past the other side of the island. The coconut log bunkers were more able to absorb blasts than expected too. They needed 2000lb bombs to knock out the big ones and they did not have any.

The Higgins Boats could not get over the reef because of a double low tide that occurs only twice a year. This was known to the Marine and Navy commanders because they had a person that lived on Tarawa that informed them of the tide situation. However, because of the timing of the attack, they could not wait until it changed. The chances of the Higgins Boats getting over the reef on that day was 0%.

This was the first opposed landing, Guadalcanal was unopposed. In the initial waves, only one radioman thought of covering his radio in plastic and he was the radioman for the 2/8 battalion commander (Jim Crowe) that landed on Red Beach 1. A historic simulation of the battle (but not all amphib landings) would have almost all radios waterlogged.

Then there was the sea wall problem that was too high for the amtracks to get over. Sherman tanks made it to the beach but could not come upon the land as the beach was too packed with wounded and unwounded Marines pinned down behind the sea wall. They had to move further down the beach and a few ended up sinking in a shell hole or hit by AT guns.

One Sherman made it up on Red Beach 1 and engaged a light Jap tank. They fired at each other almost simultaneously. The Jap tank was destroyed by the Sherman 75mm round. The Jap 37mm round went down the 75mm gun tube and destroyed the Sherman gun. Talk about chaos and bad luck! Another Sherman was knocked out by a friendly dive bomber and another fell through the roof of an underground shelter.

Later the first day two Shermans made it to Red Beach 1 but attracted so much enemy fire they were ordered to move into the Jap positions without infantry support. One was knocked out and the other caught fire in the engine compartment. The TC backed it up into the water to put the fire out.

A few hours into the battle the Jap command was caught in the open and destroyed by a destroyer firing 5" VT. Because of no C&C no one led a night counterattack which would most likely have wiped out the Marines still pinned down on the beach.

I'm not making this up but wrote it from memory so there could be some mistakes.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2019 4:16 p.m. PST

This was the first opposed landing,

That sounds close to my memory of the invasion. Tarawa was one of the first if not the first landings against opposition. Inexperience is more likely to see 'chaos' then than say very experienced operations.Right? Again, issues of when and where 'chaos' happens. Certainly inexperience creates many of its own problems. Things go wrong. The game designer, in an effort to provide players with historic challenges need to calculate such things. Again, no way to avoid it. Certainly, scenario rules can take care of such things, but that doesn't avoid the need for some statistical basis for random events.

That is another neat thing about statistics. Once you have an overall average, the variations between inexperience and experienced planners and troops can be better assessed. There is a lot that can be done with statistics once you have a decent data base.

Wolfhag25 Nov 2019 7:26 p.m. PST

Some other "chaotic" and unexpected things happened too.

The amtracks were used for supply runs at Guadalcanal, not combat. They had no doors so Marines were exposed to enemy fire when going over the sides. They installed two machine guns but no gun shields and anyone who manned the guns was cut down pretty quickly. There was no side armor so small arms fire sunk many of the amtracks too. They only had enough amtracks for the first three waves so they were used to ferry Marines dropped off by the Higgins Boats by the reef. Others waded in 500 yards under fire or hid under the pier. Major Jim Crow saw that and walked along the length of the pier sticking his 12 gauge pump shotgun in the faces of hiding Marines ordering them to the beach, he didn't need to tell them twice.

They used 55-gallon drums for water resupply but didn't clean out the diesel fuel good enough that had been in them before filling them with water. This made many Marines suffering from thirst sick.

On the second day, the assault was held up for a while because the Marines came across a supply cache of sake.

The second night there was a night attack but the Marines were prepared. The destroyers fired flares and HE into the expected assembly areas. The 60mm mortars dropped rounds as close as 25 yards in front of the Marine defenders while the machine gun crisscrossing FPF cut down most of the defenders. The third day was mostly mopping up the length of the island.

There were a few bright spots. The Marines landed on the lagoon side of the island and the Japs were expecting them from the ocean side. This allowed the first two waves of amtracks ashore pretty easily while the defenders had to move 500 yards to the other side. The lagoon side was not as heavily mined either. However, on Red Beach 2 there was no sea wall to hide behind and the beach was crescent shaped so many of the survivors on Red Beach 2 were killed on the beach by flanking fire.

The largest bunker that had survived direct hits by 14" guns and multiple assaults over two days was severely damaged by a single 81mm HE mortar round that went through a machine gun loophole on the roof and blew up ammo inside the bunker. This allowed the combat engineers to use two cases of TNT and multiple flame throwers to blast the bunker. When the occupants tried to exit through the bunkers rear door a Sherman was waiting with a 75mm canister round loaded and cut them down.

On Red Beach 1 the battalion took many causalities and was initially pinned down until Capt Ryan rallied men from different companies and attacked inland and gained the best day one foothold. The next day they attacked down the end of the island flanking all of the beach defenses and made rapid progress to the other end of the island. The tank that had its 75mm gun knocked out repaired it overnight and greatly helped.

While the Marines may have done better if they waited, but the additional time would have allowed the defenders to build up even more as when attacked they had not completed all of the defense works. That would make an interesting scenario.

These are just a few historic examples of SNAFU's and chaos that can be used in a game.

Wolfhag

Blutarski25 Nov 2019 7:29 p.m. PST

Hi McLaddie,
Let me know when you complete the analytical enumeration of all the important cases. then complete/consolidate the statistical analyses for frequency of incidence of each and their respective effects upon troops and organizations of varying doctrines, qualities and training levels.

I'll be most interested to know the page count when you complete the exercise.

;-)

B

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2019 2:32 a.m. PST

Let me know when you complete the analytical enumeration of all the important cases. then complete/consolidate the statistical analyses for frequency of incidence of each and their respective effects upon troops and organizations of varying doctrines, qualities and training levels.

B:
Boy, you really want to make this way harder than it has to be, particularly with "the analytical enumeration of all the important cases."

First of all, no simulation covers 'all the important cases', depending on what is deemed 'important.'

Second, that isn't the way statistics works. For instance,
I have been collecting reports of the time of marches on the battlefield[not campaign road marches]. I have found that the 90+ examples from the Napoleonic wars vary from 40 paces a minute to 85 paces a minute. I haven't found any above or below that. With 90 examples at random over 20 years of the FR and Napoleonic wars, I have a good base statistically speaking. Also I have found that with bad terrain, regardless of type, movement slows to 40 to 50 paces per minute in all cases. Poor troops never exceed 60 paces per minute.

I don't have to determine the likelihood of command SNAFUs, communication mix-ups, all grades of training and doctrine, National performance, differences in performance over the years, panics and hesitations, bad estimations, eggarations etc. etc. etc. Those are all subsumed [or revealed] in the movement parameters compared to the overall norms.

While hardly 'perfect,' they are far better at establishing 'real' variations and limitations than guessing or 'feel'…particularly when none of the Napoleonic wargames ever came close to similar variables… most are far, far short of this. Most allow for 30-40 paces per minutes.

And the page count, whatever it may be, will never show up in the game rules.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2019 2:42 a.m. PST

These are just a few historic examples of SNAFU's and chaos that can be used in a game.

Wolfhag: Yes, and the designer can chose to

1. provide discrete mechanic for every type of incident [ugh!].
2. Provide only those 'SNAFU's' the designer feels are important or within the focus of his wargame,
3. Subsume them all within a few types or generic 'snafu' mechanics, or

Whichever is chosen, they will have to build into the game system the where and how often such things occur. The idea is to provide something that mimics the real odds of such things happening.

UshCha26 Nov 2019 2:57 a.m. PST

Wolfhag.
interesting account. However some of this is not random and should not be simply allocated as such. The commanders Chose to allow the landing craft to strand on the beach. That is not random they did it because it fitted there plan. They accepted the risk. They could have waited but chose not too. That is not a random event.
Demounting the vehicle over the side is just life and a function of the vehicle. Early BTR's had that problem. Interesting, facinating but by no means an unforseen event.

In the UK our first real attempt as an amphibious landing was Dieppe. It was terrible, but many had said they had to try a small one to learn the lessons. That again, is not really random its just learning. I have tried a number of amphibious landings using our rules. The initial ones were full of mistakes they looked like Chaos, but this was not the effects of random die rolls but inexperience and lack of planning on my part.

There are occationaly events that are truly unaticipated, the occational Hero who acts in ways that are well outside the norm. In the UK some of these are Victoria Cross winners and deservedly so, but they are very few and beyond the scope of any wargame to represent as a sensible statictic.

Bad generalship, wrong assumption and the like are not fog of war. Getting radios wet is an interesting one. Its not random, its an oversight. Is that a random event? Not really sure on that one. I think it is best to leave that to a senario as it needs to be in context, as a random "card" it could easily be implausible if taken out of context.

There could be an interesting debate about the failure of our wargames (and I do include myself) to look more closely at the context and scope of a game before it starts. My only argument to that is that even the basics have taken me 10 years playing most weeks and I am by no means a good general now. The learning is about the scope and extent of planning and management of the battle.

Control or lack of it is a complex issue and overlaps other issues whics makes it all the more necessary to define the scope, perhaps even with a bit of ab arbitary boundary, simply to have a common base to agree what is inside and outside its scope, and that is before we even debate actual soultions.

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