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"On the virtues of IGO-UGO" Topic


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ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2020 10:51 a.m. PST

I had a search in the TMP archives but to my surprise couldn't find anything with 'IGO-UGO' in the title. Maybe my short blog post about some of the pros and cons of IGO-UGO rules systems is therefore a useful contribution:
link

PJ ONeill02 Feb 2020 11:47 a.m. PST

I agree w/ all you said. Even though I am a big fan of John Hill's Johnny Reb I, II and III, which is simultaneous movement- When I wrote some home-brew ACW rules, using some of his mechanics, it was Igo-Ugo.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2020 12:12 p.m. PST

It also depends on the era and scale. In general, [no pun intended] at higher levels, battle was an action-reaction process because of the order-time involved to get things to move. If anyone has fenced, this action-reaction sequence is pretty much 80% of any bout. It is no accident that so many battle narratives fall into this sequence.

There are serious problems with Johnny Reb type systems, where orders are given at fairly low levels every turn [ten to twenty minutes scale time]. That simply isn't the way command worked at division or higher level.

The basic problem with most order/movement systems is that Clausewitz's 'enertia' refers to when troops are put in motion [or given orders], they stay in motion on that trajectory until something happens--or new orders are received. It was just noted in another thread that this is true for modern army units.

While IGO-UGO and simultaneous movement mechanics each capture some things of reality, neither really catches the inherent nature of the command relationships to subordinate units.

Having 'interrupted IGO-UGO systems, with reaction moves, etc mitigate some of that, of course.

The intiative or individual units' arbitrary activation give me a pain… as if initiative at any level was a matter of chance or that units acted in such a disjointed, individualistic way.

For example, the old KoeningsKrieg had individual brigade activation which was sooo contrary to how SYW units moved, it defies explanation.

That's not to say that each system isn't enjoyable to play, its just they easily do as much if not more to misrepresent the basic challenges of command as they do capture them.

As most all military men will tell you, it all resolves to the relationship between time and distance.

USAFpilot02 Feb 2020 12:44 p.m. PST

On the subtopic of reaction moves in an IGO-UGO system. I once heard a gamer complain that his unit should be allowed a reaction move based on how my unit moved. I said, well if my unit sees your unit reacting to my move in that way, then my unit is going to react to your reaction in this way. Pretty soon you get into an infinite loop of reaction moves, like two boxers facing each other constantly reacting to each other's smallest of moves.

Games are imperfect. Know the rules; play the rules.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP02 Feb 2020 1:21 p.m. PST

Et Sans Resultat – grand tactical Napoleonics – has a very elegant orders system. Basically to move and fight you give a division an objective. It is *required* to move full speed toward it's objective until (a) it arrives at the objective (b) it runs into an enemy unit (c) new orders arrive from a superior or (c) it attempts to change orders locally with a command die roll.

The move full speed but is what makes it work so well.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2020 2:25 p.m. PST

I actually prefer IGO-UGO in essence. I cannot fathom how so many card driven systems create, what I consider, bizarre actions.
I hate when a unit/figure stops for no good reason, or suddenly runs massively ahead of everyone else.
I accept others will prefer this sort of chaos, but that is not me!

Horses for courses, of course!!!

UshCha02 Feb 2020 2:39 p.m. PST

Never been a fan personally. I prefered DBM for movement an action. It restricted players flexibility without having to write orders. Low level maneuver just stalls the system and better players can exploit this.

For modern a sort of IGO UGO at element level sort of works with quite a few tweaks.

Wolfhag02 Feb 2020 4:15 p.m. PST

As most all military men will tell you, it all resolves to the relationship between time and distance.

On the subtopic of reaction moves in an IGO-UGO system. I once heard a gamer complain that his unit should be allowed a reaction move based on how my unit moved. I said, well if my unit sees your unit reacting to my move in that way, then my unit is going to react to your reaction in this way. Pretty soon you get into an infinite loop of reaction moves, like two boxers facing each other constantly reacting to each other's smallest of moves.

What most games are missing, especially IGYG and activations is timing or the "action-reaction sequence". Most units are capable of performing basic tasks if given enough time. However, the time and distance factors in addition to battlefield friction, C&C problems, mistakes and suppression generally delay a unit from observing, deciding and acting. IGYG and activations do have a hard time portraying the timing of actions and sequences between units. In addition, you'd need some type of playable simultaneous movement system to portray the timing and sequence between shooting and moving units.

When you design a game with a 30-90 second turns but allow individual units to perform actions that take only seconds (like shooting) and historically could perform a number of actions and movement in the 30-90 second turn, you create a lot of problems in attempting to get the right interaction between units and keep synchronized all of their actions through the 30-90 seconds. The designer needs to create a variety of artificial rules and abstractions to get unit actions within the 30-90 second game turn. Some games do it better than others.

However, when you give a unit an order and it is immediately obeyed (like when it is your turn or activated) and you know that enemy units cannot react because they have already been activated or it is not their turn, you are warping the "action-reaction sequence" as McLaddie mentioned because no unit can execute an order immediately. Actions take time to perform, that's why you need a timing mechanism. Without the timing and delays (friction) in executing you can get endless "chain reactions" throughout the game and no real unit interaction.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP03 Feb 2020 12:49 a.m. PST

Pretty soon you get into an infinite loop of reaction moves, like two boxers facing each other constantly reacting to each other's smallest of moves.

Games are imperfect. Know the rules; play the rules.

USAFpilot:

That certainly can be a problem. VLB had it in spades. However, the question isn't about whether games are perfect, but about what they are attempting to represent and how well they accomplish that.

For instance, Et Sans Resultat is better at this representation than a simple IGO/UGO system at the grand tactical level. That isn't an issue of perfection, but whether one does a better job than the other.

UshCha03 Feb 2020 2:11 a.m. PST

To be fair IGO/UGO has advantages for multi player games where the players are never, or very rarely, going to have a good understanding of either the period or the rules. Its quick and simple and at that level more of a game than a simulation, it has to be.

Our own system requires much more careful planning and an ubderstanding of why the real systems operate as they do. Not ideal for multi players games where planning and comnpetence is not in great supply generally.

Blutarski03 Feb 2020 9:49 a.m. PST

The attraction of IGO-UGO is undeniable from the point of view of simplicity of game mechanics. And it arguably has a legitimate role to play, especially in connection with more abstracted games. Chess is, after all, a monumentally successful IGO-UGO game system.

But IGO-UGO is very difficult indeed to apply to certain sim/game environments. For example, IGU-UGO game mechanics simply cannot serve as the foundation of a naval tactical game without creating many more problems (some insuperable) than it claims to solve.

B

Slow Oats03 Feb 2020 11:27 a.m. PST

Blutarski, I would argue that chess is not an IGOUGO game and is closer to an alternating activation game. In chess players go back and forth moving one piece at a time, if it were IGOUGO a player could move all their available pieces on their turn.

I think the main failing of IGOUGO is the first turn problem, where whoever gets the first turn does tons of damage before the other guy can even act. However there are ways to mitigate that, such as the push your luck mechanism in Song of Blades. On its face, I don't think its an inherently worse mechanism than any other activation system.

blacksmith03 Feb 2020 11:29 a.m. PST

I'm happy with both.
I use reaction system from Two Hour Wargames for my solo games, but for player vs. player I prefer I go- you go.

Wolfhag03 Feb 2020 12:33 p.m. PST

Nuts! does have a good reaction system for 1:1 games.

Realistically, combat units have some type of Immediate Action Drill they will perform when making enemy contact. Most IGYG systems do not account for that very well.

When I run games at a convention I almost always get a player that tells me, "Just tell me when it is my turn so I can shoot" and is not really interested in getting involved in the game. However, my response is always "Sorry, I can't do that as it would be cheating. You have to tell me when it is your turn to shoot and why".

Wolfhag

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP04 Feb 2020 5:36 a.m. PST

Thanks, all, for your many thoughtful and insightful responses. As I've since mentioned in the comments section on the blog, while I used IGO-UGO as the obvious contrast, really I was making a plea for 'anything but one-player-at-a-time in big multi-player games'. There are other systems than pure IGO-UGO that would meet the need.

@UshCha: "Never been a fan personally. I prefered DBM for movement an action." But while command pips nicely limit what each player can do, DBM is still an IGO-UGO system, and simultaneous multi-player action is feasible, right? So I'd be OK with that.

@Wolfhag: "What most games are missing, especially IGYG and activations is timing or the "action-reaction sequence". " I agree time-lag in order implementation is important, and games that enable instant and predictable reaction lack that. I don't see that IGO-UGO is necessarily worse (or better) on that score. A question well worth answering, but really a different question from the one that I was primarily addressing.

@UshCha again: "Our own system requires much more careful planning and an ubderstanding of why the real systems operate as they do. Not ideal for multi players games where planning and comnpetence is not in great supply generally."
Planning and competence didn't help in the case that provoked my post. We had no shortage of wargaming and real-life military experience and combat medals round the table, so the guys knew what they were doing. The problem was that the system just didn't let more than one of us do anything. Concurrent activity is a part of good battle procedure
PDF link
and in my view should be part of multi-player games.

@Slow Oats: "the main failing of IGOUGO is the first turn problem". A failing of scenario design rather than the sequence itself, perhaps? But I don't know which rules you're thinking of, so while I haven't encountered it myself, I accept there can be games where it would apply.

Anyway, having got the whinge out of my system, I'm happy to report that four of us (plus ref) fought Eylau last night, IGO-UGO, absolutely romped through it, everyone fully engaged and involved from start to finish, several places where the game could have been won or lost right to the last turn, ended in a bloody draw and over and done in well under 3 hours, happy and exhausted and in the pub. Truly refreshing game.

Chris

Bloody Big BATTLES!
https://groups.io/g/bloodybigbattles

Wolfhag04 Feb 2020 12:19 p.m. PST

ChrisBBB2,

"What most games are missing, especially IGYG and activations is timing or the "action-reaction sequence". I agree time-lag in order implementation is important, and games that enable instant and predictable reactions lack that.

I was making a plea for 'anything but one-player-at-a-time in big multi-player games'.

There are other systems than pure IGO-UGO that would meet the need.

I think your answer is on page 84 of the pdf you linked to (OODA Loop).

Using the OODA Loop would make the game very "time competitive" between players as the comparison between the commanders would give one side or the other a timing advantage to issue an order, get it to the maneuver units (battalion or regiment) and have them execute it.

Wolfhag

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP06 Feb 2020 5:40 a.m. PST

Thanks, Wolfhag. I'm familiar with the OODA loop. Games with activation rolls do capture some of that.

As an illustration: in the Eylau game I mentioned, I was commanding the Russian left wing, including Osterman-Tolstoy's division and Baggovut's detachment defending Serpallen.

The French committed Davout's and Augereau's corps to converge on erpallen. This exposed Augereau's left flank to counter-attack by Sacken's division. It was a calculated risk: Sacken had quite a distance to cover, the variable weather might slow down any Russian counter-attack, and Sacken wasn't rated highly enough to improve the chances of it happening; even if it did, it might go in disjointed if one of Sacken's brigade rolled tardier than the other.

As it happened, the weather roll for the next turn was kind to the Russians – a 1 in 3 chance. I then rolled full moves for both of Sacken's brigades. There was only a 1 in 3 chance of that happening too. The result was that Augereau got crushed, Murat's cavalry got caught up in the resulting disarray, and Davout was steamrollered in turn.

Thus the Russians had been able to respond with a devastating counterattack before the French advance had been able to turn into a devastating attack of their own. However, the odds had been significantly against me getting inside the French OODA loop in that way – much more likely, they'd have got inside mine, and Augereau and Davout would have converged on Serpallen and defeated my forces there before Sacken could help.

Activation systems like this therefore can generate time-lag in reaction, and introduce unpredictability. What they can't do, and which systems can do that use eg written orders or order chits that take effect a turn or more after they are chosen, is generate cases where generals are so wrong-footed that they actually have their orders taking the wrong action at the wrong time – i.e., doing something the player realises is wrong by the time it happens – rather than just failing to implement the right one.

But I'm happy with an activation system as a compromise that provides good amounts of both realism and sheer game entertainment value. And it's superior to eg a command pip system in that a player can never absolutely guarantee that the one most important action he wants to happen will happen.

Chris

Slow Oats06 Feb 2020 12:24 p.m. PST

Chris, I was thinking of pick-up games where two people make their armies separately and play them against each other in a sort of pitched battle (like Kings of War, or any game with a points system). You're absolutely right that the first turn issue I mentioned goes away with fixed scenarios.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP06 Feb 2020 2:24 p.m. PST

Thus the Russians had been able to respond with a devastating counterattack before the French advance had been able to turn into a devastating attack of their own. However, the odds had been significantly against me getting inside the French OODA loop in that way – much more likely, they'd have got inside mine, and Augereau and Davout would have converged on Serpallen and defeated my forces there before Sacken could help.

Chris:

You are mixing the command system, how it operates and the time it takes to complete it with the chance events and personalities of the commanders. They are two different issues.

For instance, the night before then final battle of Wagram, Archduke Charles, seeing the French army deployment, wanted to change his orders already issued for the next day. However, he realized that at 10pm at night, he didn't have enough time to actually get the new orders to the army. OODA.

It wasn't an issue of activation or individual personalities, but the system. Nor was chance or the odds a consideration. Commanders had a very good idea of how long such OODAs would take on average.

Second, if the French OODA was better than the Russians, why couldn't they respond faster in responding against Sacken?

Third, you have no idea whether the 1/3 odds of Sachen responding has any relationship to historical reality, the OODA or how quickly Sachen could have gotten the orders and responded… etc. etc. etc. All you know is if you ordered Sachen to do anything, you only had a 1/3 chance of him responding…which isn't the way the Russian commander was thinking. ["I don't know, if I order Sachen to do anything, I doubt that he would respond." ???]

And fourth, how many times during the battle Eylau did Sachen or any Russian commander simply fail to respond [or not carry out orders]--over the length of time given in a turn?


I can understand why it is an enjoyable system, but it isn't much of a compromise when it isn't clear what you a actually portraying of historical reality.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP07 Feb 2020 5:49 a.m. PST

Hi Bill, thanks for your thoughtful comments as always.

"You are mixing the command system, how it operates and the time it takes to complete it with the chance events and personalities of the commanders. They are two different issues."

Damn right I am! I am distilling all these factors affecting whether, when and to what degree an action is accomplished into a couple of activation rolls.

On the overall "orders for the army": I regard that as taken care of by the scenario set-up. Our formations start where they start because of the overall army plan.

"Commanders had a very good idea of how long such OODAs would take on average":
For the bit between the D and the A, yes. Once a division commander receives the order to move, it becomes pretty much a mechanical function of drill movements. BUT: the O-O-D phases are as long as a piece of string. In a fluctuating blizzard at Eylau, how long does it take me as the wing commander on a snowy hilltop (as opposed to the 'helicopter general' player with a clear view of the whole table) to work out what the enemy is doing and commit to an appropriate decision in response? Activation rolls – with suitable bonuses or penalties for commanders' competence and other relevant situational factors (staff ability? doctrine? fatigue? terrain? force posture?) – are a reasonable way to capture that uncertainty.

"why couldn't [the French] respond faster in responding against Sacken?"
Because they didn't observe and orient quickly enough. Voila.

"you have no idea whether the 1/3 odds of Sachen responding has any relationship to historical reality"
I have some idea. The odds of him responding in a timely manner could have been better if he or his C-inC were a more competent general/more efficient staff, or if his force were already formed up to move rather than to hold. They could have been worse if his formations were already battered, or had to be extricated from woods or towns or marshes rather than a clear hillside.

"how many times did any Russian commander simply fail to respond [or not carry out orders]--over the length of time given in a turn?"
It's really not so much about failing to respond – the D-A element – as failing to appreciate the situation – the O-O-D stage.

I may say that when I launched my Russian counter-attack, I felt very much like Wellington at Salamanca throwing away his chicken leg and crying "By God, that will do!". Like Wellington, we Russian players had decided to adopt a defensive posture to start with, let the French come to us, and then counter-attack. Augereau's advance exposing his flank gave me a similar opportunity to the one Marmont offered to Wellington, with Serpallen my defensive anchor like the Arapiles. I'm no Wellington, but the dice were kind: Sacken promptly led my counter-attack, and Essen followed on in echelon in support, and it all flowed from there. As portraying historical reality goes, it seemed OK to me.

It is true that an activation system makes 'opportunistic' actions possible which could be considered unrealistic – individual brigades shooting out of the line to take advantage of careless positioning of some or other enemy unit, or whatever – so you might want to insist on some constraints on what an activation allows. But I don't think OODA is the angle to criticise such a system from.

Chris

Bloody Big BATTLES!
https://groups.io/g/bloodybigbattles
bloodybigbattles.blogspot.com

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP07 Feb 2020 10:27 a.m. PST

Chris:

I have no problem with an activation system making 'opportunistic' actions possile… they happen in war.

For the bit between the D and the A, yes. Once a division commander receives the order to move, it becomes pretty much a mechanical function of drill movements. BUT: the O-O-D phases are as long as a piece of string. In a fluctuating blizzard at Eylau, how long does it take me as the wing commander on a snowy hilltop (as opposed to the 'helicopter general' player with a clear view of the whole table) to work out what the enemy is doing and commit to an appropriate decision in response? Activation rolls – with suitable bonuses or penalties for commanders' competence and other relevant situational factors (staff ability? doctrine? fatigue? terrain? force posture?) – are a reasonable way to capture that uncertainty.

Aside from the fact that a weather effect was already provided, I think that one of the issues here is the propensity for wargamers to rely on imagination to rationalize game events where no real historical content exists. For instance:

"you have no idea whether the 1/3 odds of Sachen responding has any relationship to historical reality"
I have some idea. The odds of him responding in a timely manner could have been better if he or his C-inC were a more competent general/more efficient staff, or if his force were already formed up to move rather than to hold. They could have been worse if his formations were already battered, or had to be extricated from woods or towns or marshes rather than a clear hillside.

Better than what? By what yardstick are you measuring that better and worse? How do you know the C-in-C's competency had an impact? He did fight Napoleon to a standstill. As Ney said, "What a massacre! And without result."

All of those things *might* be issues, but what historical evidence do you have for those suppositions--that they were actually issues that kept commands from responding?

And for what resulting game effects? And from all that, how do you come to the conclusion that Sachen will only response one out of three times a C-in-C attempts to move him? Augereau was very ill during the battle, but there is no indication that he failed to respond to orders. It did affect how his corps' attack went in…that and a bad weather roll.

When, during the battle, did Russian commands fail to move or delay in their moves when ordered? Both Napoleon and Benningsen made mistakes, but that isn't the same thing.

As gamers, we have become very practiced at justifying rules and game events with what we imagine *could* happen with no basis for those mechanics or explanations.

In other words, you don't have 'some idea.' What you did was imagine it all

I may say that when I launched my Russian counter-attack, I felt very much like Wellington at Salamanca throwing away his chicken leg and crying "By God, that will do!". Like Wellington, we Russian players had decided to adopt a defensive posture to start with, let the French come to us, and then counter-attack. Augereau's advance exposing his flank gave me a similar opportunity to the one Marmont offered to Wellington, with Serpallen my defensive anchor like the Arapiles. I'm no Wellington, but the dice were kind: Sacken promptly led my counter-attack, and Essen followed on in echelon in support, and it all flowed from there. As portraying historical reality goes, it seemed OK to me.

If that is OK with you, I have no problem with that. How you feel is how you feel and it is great during a game. However, I doubt very much that Wellington thought the odds of his commands responding were 1 in 3 when he decided to attack at Salamanca.

I want to point out that content-wise, history-wise there isn't much there at all other than your imagination and a lot of rationalizing after the fact.

Gamers have gotten really good at that rationalizing. It's easy and it's fun. As Crick of Watson and Crick DNA double-helix fame noted: "It's a lot more fun to guess. Discovering the facts is hard work."

Simulations are 'guided pretending.' Imagination is fun and vital to wargames. Let's not confuse the guessing and imagination with factual history. Games can provide both, but it is only meaningful if we know which is which.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP07 Feb 2020 4:22 p.m. PST

My IGOUGO rules have overcome most of the complaints people have mentioned above (at least in our club's members opinions) by limiting the time scale of one turn, and especially by having mostly simultaneous shooting/melee in each player's phase.

Wolfhag07 Feb 2020 9:03 p.m. PST

I want to point out that content-wise, history-wise there isn't much there at all other than your imagination and a lot of rationalizing after the fact.

Gamers have gotten really good at that rationalizing. It's easy and it's fun. As Crick of Watson and Crick DNA double-helix fame noted: "It's a lot more fun to guess. Discovering the facts is hard work."

I think that is pretty much the sate of gaming here on TMP and many other places. I think psychology your mind fills in the blanks to better create the "reality" and why something occurs.

Something like, "My unit did not activate to move. It was probably was because someone thought they saw a minefield and halted".

The game turn randomly ends before some of my units could move/shoot because the Joker card in the deck was drawn. "That really simulates the Fog of War, command breakdown and random actions". But people do enjoy those games!

You see it all of the time and most people I've seen playing buy into it or they are keeping their mouth shut out of respect for the GM.

Herkybird is on to something, check out what he's doing. If you slow down the game to what I call a "lowest common timing denominator" you get much better representation between the weapons rates of fire and movement. Since shooting in most battalion/regiment level games should be measured in the volume of fire, not a shot to shot basis, shooting should be simultaneous. You'll find the game "flows" smoother without a jerky I MOVE YOU MOVE system.

That lowest common timing denominator might be the weapons historic rate of fire, how long it takes a veteran unit to change formation, etc. You'll get better interaction between units with fewer abstractions and it will be more playable too. Why more playable? Because with fewer artificial rules and exceptions it is easier to play.

If I were playing a Napoleonic or ACW game I'd really like to see the interaction between units moving and changing formations with their timing based on their experience, friction, and leadership. Maybe a turn length would allow for good interaction and with musket fire 2-3 rounds per minute you could get a good interaction with simultaneous movement and firing. I'd think the delay between a Corps Commander issuing an order, the order arriving and the lower level leader executing it OR he feels the order is wrong and he uses his initiative to do what he thinks is right. In the ACW many Generals led from the front.

I like tank battle games but playing rules with 30 seconds long turns that allowed a vehicle moving at 20kph to move 300m into and out of the LOS of a gun that historically could fire 10 rounds per minute but has an abstracted ROF of 2 just gives a poor simulation. At least for me. To overcome that the designer needs to have a special opportunity and overwatch rules and restrictions that are complicated and unrealistic. You won't see those rules in any military manual.

Just think about how the game would flow in an ACW game and what could happen. A fast-moving cavalry charge could hit a unit while moving from a column to square. You could measure exactly how many volleys would be fired at a charging unit. Cannons ROF would realistically be modeled.

Maybe real historical commanders knew their OODA Loop (that's what experience is) but how well would you, as the player, be able to judge the delays, friction, FOW, time, leadership failures and distance factors and how it effects timing? Wouldn't a game that is "time competitive" between players be as much or more fun than the way and sequence units are "activated"?

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP08 Feb 2020 9:56 a.m. PST

I think that is pretty much the sate of gaming here on TMP and many other places. I think psychology your mind fills in the blanks to better create the "reality" and why something occurs.

Wolfhag:
I agree. That 'psychology' is natural, unavoidable and is central to enjoying a game and making any simulation work.

Take the U.S. Army's Urban Tactical exercises with laser-tag equipment. For the exercise to work, to train soldiers in BUA tactics, the soldiers have to pretend, act 'as though' it was real. The difference is that the connections between the exercise and real-world learning is specifically identified, even pedantically explained. Umpires even tell the troops "There will be no umpires on the battlefield." Duh.

That is what our wargames are missing: identifying what parts are actually based on historical evidence, what is specifically being recreated and experienced through the wargame.

Because that is missing, gamers have gotten really good at 'filling in the blanks'. Instead of 'guided pretending' within the parameters of the historical accounts, it is all free-form, anything goes.

So, Sachen can only move on a roll of 1-2 on a D6 and we get to imagine that recreating anything that 'feels good,' anything at all.

It explains why many wargamers say that historical wargaming is all fantasy. It is free-form imagining, pretending unteathered from any history content.

Blutarski08 Feb 2020 7:50 p.m. PST

+1 Wolfhag.
C3I factors are typically glossed over and sacrificed upon the 'ease of play' altar ….. which typically manifests as a 'one size fits all' set of command and control rules. There are cases where this will work out OK ….. tactical level ACW for instance. But there are plenty of real world cases wherein a numerically inferior but more ably led force with more efficient communications and/or reconnaissance assets can overcome a numerically superior but less well organized and led opponent.


B

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP08 Feb 2020 10:32 p.m. PST

Maybe real historical commanders knew their OODA Loop (that's what experience is) but how well would you, as the player, be able to judge the delays, friction, FOW, time, leadership failures and distance factors and how it effects timing? Wouldn't a game that is "time competitive" between players be as much or more fun than the way and sequence units are "activated"?

Wolfhag:

Well, how well would the player be able to judge the combat results or maneuver complications: Experience with the game. Part of the fun of the game is learning and mastering the system. If the system represents something of history and the dynamics of the battlefield environment including OODA, then the players are learning that along with the game system.

From what I have seen, most historical wargamers enjoy learning about history in that dynamic fashion and that enjoyment/connection was what Chris was relaying in his posts--that connection, or thought he was.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2020 2:09 a.m. PST

Bill, Wolfhag: I have a fair amount to say in reply. For now I just want to point out you're criticising me for and arguing against something I never said. I absolutely did not say there was a 1 in 3 chance of Sacken responding in our Eylau game.

Chris

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2020 10:05 a.m. PST

Chris:

It was not a 'criticism', it was an observation of what we all do during a game, riffing on game events. I was pointing out what was being assumed or implied as connections between history and the historical wargame mechanics.

This is what I was commenting on:

As it happened, the weather roll for the next turn was kind to the Russians – a 1 in 3 chance. I then rolled full moves for both of Sacken's brigades. There was only a 1 in 3 chance of that happening too.

So, yes, it was a 1 in 3 chance of a full move for both brigades, not a failure to respond at all. I stand corrected. My apologies.

The observation still applies: Where does the historical record suggest that kind of probability for movement by Sacken or any Russians during the battle of Eylau?

You were the designer of the game rules, if not the scenario. What was the basis for those movement determinations?

I realize that a great many issues can be and usually are subsumed in a single mechanic [such as the OODA process], but the results still have to have a historical basis to be considered historical.

Wolfhag10 Feb 2020 4:24 a.m. PST

Chris,
I don't think I was criticizing, I'm pointing out the differences in the way we arrive at the same thing – a unit "Acting". McLaddie had pointed out to me that OODA Loop (essentially timing of how long it will take to Act) is a form of IGYG.

When timing enters into the equation the results you get are:

I go before you go because I flanked and surprised you and capitalized on your poor Situational Awareness (observation)

You shoot before me because I have a two-man turret and they are too slow to reload and fire.

I shoot before you because I had my gun bore-sighted to the spot you entered my LOS (overwatch) and I had no turret traverse time and ideal observation.

You shoot before I do because my crew had a SNAFU (jam, loader slipped, etc) while reloading.

I shoot before you because my crew was better than yours and your crew took too long to Decide what to do. Better crews perform tasks quicker than poor crews.

You shoot 2 seconds before me because my turret rotation was too slow and I could not get the shot off in time.

You would have shot 1 second before me but I used the Snap Shot tactic (player Risk-Reward decision) to shoot 2 seconds sooner so I shot 1 second before you but with a slight accuracy penalty (Snap Shot is less aim time so not as accurate). However, if my accuracy penalty resulted in me missing it was not a good decision and now You Go.

Example: The timing for the first shot (ranging) using the unbuttoned TC top row would be the motorized turret traverse time (X = variable) at 10 degrees per second plus D6+2 for the gunner target acquisition (manual elevation and traverse to gather the target into his narrow field of view gun sight)and aim time plus the crew training (an Ace crew has a 4-second advantage over a Poor crew). The Snap Shot is a player option to shoot faster but with an accuracy penalty. However, it cannot be used over 900m (about 1 second time of flight) It works similar to the way Battlesight is explained in the tank gunnery manual.

You can see being buttoned up takes longer as does a wounded gunner. Using a Rangefinder takes 16 seconds with no further adjustments.

This is the detailed version. You could combine/condense the factors and make it somewhat variable with a die roll. You do have to record the future turn/time you will shoot (Act in the loop). As soon as you shoot/Act you are back to Observation and decide to shoot or move and determine the time to Act. Timing values function in the same way as a die roll modifier.

To simply things you could say unit A takes D6+10 turns, unit B D6+8 turns. Suppression/friction, poor weather conditions could add a fixed number or +D6 more turns. Good troops could be -2 and poor troops +2. The values could be seconds, minutes, hours or even days, depending on the scale of the game. Specific leaders could have a -1 to -4 leadership rating. A very poor leader could have a +1 or +2 rating. You don't want the timing to be too predictable or you lose the natural Fog of War effect, no one knows exactly who will Act/activate next.

It's still IGYG no matter how you look at it. It's just that the timing to Act (or activate if you like) is determined differently. How you come up with your timing variables is entirely up to you. I use historic performance values for things like turret traverse speed and rate of fire. I then compare the results to historical accounts, AAR's and training standards.

Wolfhag

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP10 Feb 2020 5:00 a.m. PST

Hi Wolfhag: OK, I think we're on the same page. In war – whether it's your micro-detailed tank action scenario, or my high-level army-sized battle scenario – there's always a ton* of variables that are really difficult to quantify, but whose cumulative uncertainty ought to be reflected in whatever game mechanism we use.

Chris

* 'Ton' used here as an approximation, not as a specific standard unit of measure.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP10 Feb 2020 5:51 a.m. PST

Hi Bill,

"Where does the historical record suggest that kind of probability for movement by Sacken or any Russians during the battle of Eylau?"

I know very little about Eylau, Sacken, or indeed about the Russian army of that period in general. I have great confidence in Mark's scenario design (he's a professional historian and experienced scenario writer) but I can't comment on whether he got this particular bit right.

"You were the designer of the game rules, if not the scenario. What was the basis for those movement determinations?"

Since you ask about the BBB rules, I'll answer with reference to BBB. The fundamental principle is to capture uncertainty in command decisions and their execution. This uncertainty is inherently difficult to quantify, and impossible to quantify precisely. However, it is possible to identify major factors which affect the speed and efficiency of the process. A game mechanism that incorporates these could be said to be more realistic than one which does not.

As a result of a unit's activation roll in BBB, the unit may get a full move, a half-move, or no move at all. (In some circumstances it may be forced to retire contrary to the player's wishes, perhaps suffering losses or even disintegrating. However, this will never happen unless there is some negative factor applying to the roll.)

The unmodified percentages are:
No move: 17%
Half-move: 25%
Full move: 58%.

Only two factors will improve those odds: an effective general in command radius (either the formation commander, or the commander-in-chief), or the unit being in column of march ready to move swiftly. Note the word ‘effective': not every general gets represented on table. It is a scenario design decision to decide who merits representation. This can make a huge difference to the relative agility of opposing armies. Per Blutarski, above:
"But there are plenty of real world cases wherein a numerically inferior but more ably led force with more efficient communications and/or reconnaissance assets can overcome a numerically superior but less well organized and led opponent."

This is exactly what BBB makes possible. (See also the ‘Passive' modifier described below.) A German 1870 army will have rather more Generals on the table than its French opponent, which may be lucky to have even one or two.

If one of those applies, the numbers become:
No move: 8%
Half-move: 19%
Full move: 73%.
(If both apply – even better.)

Conversely, several negative modifiers can apply. An army or formation that historically was relatively slow and ponderous – be it because of doctrine, or being consistently outscouted, etc – can be rated Passive and suffer a -1 modifier. A unit in Difficult terrain (woods, marshes, towns) will find it harder to react swiftly and suffers a -1. A unit that is Spent from casualties suffers -2.

A -1 on the basic numbers results in:
Retire half-move: 3%
No move: 25%
Half-move: 31%
Full move: 42%.

Units that are Disrupted from combat roll on a different table but it is effectively equivalent to a -2 modifier, except that if things go wrong they are worse. Also, some units may be designated Fragile and suffer a further -1 while Disrupted.

While it is impossible to attach precise probabilities to such things, I suggest that the internal consistency of the system is ‘realistic' in making good results more likely in helpful situations, and bad ones more likely in difficult situations.

As an illustration of successive failed activation rolls, I'd like to offer an example from the Hungarian War of Independence. At the end of the battle of Kápolna in February 1849, the Hungarian army is beaten and retreating. At 10:30pm that night, the Austrian C-in-C orders his corps commanders, Schlick and Wrbna, to pursue at 7:00am next morning. Schlick refuses to move, reporting back that he thinks the enemy rear guard's position is too strong. The C-in-C reconnoiters, discovers the position is only weakly held, and again orders the advance. This time it is delayed because Shlick's men were cooking breakfast, so could not be ready to march for a couple of hours.

I think this is a good example because the order fails after it is received; and because the recipient, Schlick, is normally very aggressive and direct; and because his reason for the initial failure is misguided; and because the reason for the delay post-reconnaissance is so odd.

It is a case of OODA loops within OODA loops. The C-in-C, Windisch-Graetz, is usually the problem because he is typically over-cautious. Here, though, his Observation, Orientation and Decision are all correct: to pursue aggressively. The Action instigates Schlick's own OODA loop, and his Observation and Orientation let him down – he mistakes a weak enemy rearguard for a strong defence, and makes some bad Decisions as a result, ending in no Action.

Back to the Eylau game: I've already mentioned its resemblance to Salamanca. It since occurred to me that it was even more like Novi (1799), where my counterattack was like Watrin's striking the flank of Bagration's advance; the ensuing commitment (in our game) of the Old Guard was like Melas's arrival on the Novi battlefield.

Sorry this was so long.

Chris

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP10 Feb 2020 6:13 p.m. PST

The fundamental principle is to capture uncertainty in command decisions and their execution. This uncertainty is inherently difficult to quantify, and impossible to quantify precisely. However, it is possible to identify major factors which affect the speed and efficiency of the process. A game mechanism that incorporates these could be said to be more realistic than one which does not.

Chris:

Thank you for the explanations. The length of your reply is no problem… I don't know how anyone can discuss any aspect of game design cogently in twenty words or less other than "I like" or "I don't like."
'
I agree that in reality there is command uncertainty and that a game with some uncertainty is more realistic than one without, just like a cake with some sugar is better than one with none. We are talking about making an edible cake…a historical wargame that models actual history.

Your statement about "This uncertainty is inherently difficult to quantify, and impossible to quantify precisely" seems to dismiss the effort because it is difficult and you do something else that is 'internally consistent' rather than consistent with the historical evidence--other than to say in reality there was uncertainty.

Your 'internally consistent' system is quantifying that uncertainty. That's what games and simulations do. You feel it is realistic because it "makes good results more likely in helpful situations, and bad ones more likely in difficult situations." Okay, what does that mean for the situation you give with Schlick and Wrbna?

I think this is a good example because the order fails after it is received; and because the recipient, Schlick, is normally very aggressive and direct; and because his reason for the initial failure is misguided; and because the reason for the delay post-reconnaissance is so odd.

The question is creating a probability that can mirror the liklihood of that event historically. Here are some of the design questions:

1. Shlick [and even Wrbna] are acting out of character. That suggests that their decisions are uncharacteristic, with low odds of it happening.

2. The decisions the two commanders make are both misguided and odd in-and-of-themselves.

3. What were the conditions that could have/did lead experienced officers to behave that way? This is very important if it affects decisioni-making.

4. Looking at Schlick and Wrbna's past performances [or future actions for that matter], did W-G have any reason to believe that they would behave as they did? [i.e. did he have any idea of the possibilities, and does his expectations bear any relation to what you might establish for such a scenario?

In other words, is W-G confident his order will be carried out by two effectie, aggressive commanders or crossing his fingers that they'll follow orders at all?

It certainly could be a die roll with a 3% chance of a failed order… but is that what we are talking abut here? Is that a historical expectation?

The basic question is just how little chance of such odd performances was there?

So, you as the designer have a choice.

1. You can insert a probability table that makes that outcome likely, as it did happen, [lots of negative modifiers] or

2. You can determine just how odd and unlikely such an event is considering the commanders' historical performances and any wonky decisions. This is more difficult, but not impossible to come up with far better odds than just guessing.

Only one of those approaches is an attempt at representing historical probabilities. The other is forcing the issue to recreate the same event.

Your system for command uncertainty is certainly internally consistent, but as far as historical probabilities is concerned, it is dancing on air.

Back to the Eylau game: I've already mentioned its resemblance to Salamanca. It since occurred to me that it was even more like Novi (1799), where my counterattack was like Watrin's striking the flank of Bagration's advance; the ensuing commitment (in our game) of the Old Guard was like Melas's arrival on the Novi battlefield.


Yes, the attack by Sacken is 'like' other battlefield actions you mention where one side hits the other's flank. I certainly can see why you noted the similarities.

However, the question here is what were the chances that any of those events would happen when the orders were given?

How do you determine what modifiers are historically representative? Where did any of those precentages come from?

The spectrum for determining 'uncertainty in command' goes from complete lack of quantification of historical evidence to perfect quantification. I was making an observation on where your system seems to sit on that continuum.

While perfect quantification is impossible [as for most all simulations ever created], the idea is to move in that direction…getting closer to the right. And being able to link mechanics directly to the history being represented.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2020 6:08 a.m. PST

Hi Bill,

'Dancing on air' is a bit harsh, isn't it? There's plenty of solid foundation.

We have a pretty solid idea of distances that formations covered during battles. BBB scenarios tailor the ground and time scales so that the probabilities in the movement table produce appropriate basic movement distances.

We have a pretty solid idea of whether individual commanders tended to think and act cautiously and slowly or boldly and swiftly. BBB scenarios reflect that.

We have a pretty solid idea of which armies or formations were particularly ponderous or particularly agile. BBB scenarios reflect that.

We have a pretty solid idea of which terrain slowed formations down, or what weather conditions hampered maneuver. BBB scenarios reflect that.


"you as the designer have a choice.
1. You can insert a probability table that makes [a given] outcome likely, as it did happen, or
2. You can determine just how [likely or unlikely] an event is considering […] historical performances. This is more difficult, but not impossible to come up with far better odds than just guessing.
Only one of those approaches is an attempt at representing historical probabilities. The other is forcing the issue to recreate the same event."


But we are not considering a single actual historical event. We set up a historical scenario that represents as many of the contextual historical factors as we can. But as soon as the game starts, we are diverging from the history.

Even for events that did happen, we cannot know the chances that a courier gets killed by a stray cannonball, or that friendly units are mistaken for enemy or vice versa. We cannot know all the political differences or personality clashes among commanders and subordinates that could surface at some critical time and produce passive resistance and relative inaction. I know that there were points of friction between Schlick and W-G. I know that Wrbna alienated people beneath him. I don't know how to dictate a specific moment when those factors come into play; I think it is sufficient for the rules to allow a chance of such Clausewitzian friction to spoil players' plans, just as they spoil them for generals.

Chris

Bloody Big BATTLES!
https://groups.io/g/bloodybigbattles
bloodybigbattles.blogspot.com

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2020 11:40 a.m. PST

Even for events that did happen, we cannot know the chances that a courier gets killed by a stray cannonball, or that friendly units are mistaken for enemy or vice versa. We cannot know all the political differences or personality clashes among commanders and subordinates that could surface at some critical time and produce passive resistance and relative inaction.

Chris:

But you can to an extent--that is the point, far better than saying 'you can't know, so guess.' How often have you read of couriers being killed and not delivering messages? Count them up and divide by the number of battles and you get a better 'probability' than guessing. Same with personality clashes, friendly fire and the rest. You know they happened because they were reported… add up the reports. You have twenty+ years of battles in just the Napoleonic era.

Or it can be as simple as noting how many times troops didn't move as ordered during battles.

Now that is more difficult--read more work-- than simply creating a internally consistent system that 'works' in a wargame.

I have no problem with a designer doing that. More power to them. But let's not pretend that you have captured very much if anything of historical reality when it comes to such things happening.

Here's a non-wargame example:

I want to simulate car traffic on a freeway. I want to include accidents because that is reality. The variables in what cause accidents are innumberable. So I have a die roll of 1 out of ten each turn of one hour that an accident will happen on a 20 mile stretch of freeway.

That's fine, but it isn't reality. It is dancing on air. Statistically, that doesn't match reality at all. Accidents happen far more frequently at particular spots and are more likely at particular times of the day. You would think weather would create more accidents. But surprise, statistically, it doesn't. Bad weather only increases the chances that the accident will be bad, not the number of them.

Now, there are a lot of ways to make that playable while keeping a more realistic probability of accidents without having to go into all the variable.

But all that research and design work is harder than simply creating a random chance of an accident.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2020 7:24 p.m. PST

We have a pretty solid idea of distances that formations covered during battles. BBB scenarios tailor the ground and time scales so that the probabilities in the movement table produce appropriate basic movement distances.

We have a pretty solid idea of whether individual commanders tended to think and act cautiously and slowly or boldly and swiftly. BBB scenarios reflect that.

We have a pretty solid idea of which armies or formations were particularly ponderous or particularly agile. BBB scenarios reflect that.

We have a pretty solid idea of which terrain slowed formations down, or what weather conditions hampered maneuver. BBB scenarios reflect that.

Chris:
Just to clarify: All that is true, but what do you mean by 'solid' and what do you have to quantify? When I say dancing on air, I mean that I am not sure how you translate 'solid' understandings into chance and tendencies that model actual warfare, match historical probabilities. I game Schlick's behavior as an example.

Commanders who tend to be cautious or bold.
Movement distances covered during battles
Some armies are agile and some Ponderous.
Weather and terrain hampered maneuver

Folks came up with those labels based on a number of incidents, often with no thought to how often or in response to just one battle or campaign.

Game designers then have to translate those labels into new ones, mechanics called movement, command, terrain etc.

They are supposedly ALL based on averages and probabilities of what usually happens and how often it doesn't. Only most wargames are based on such probabilities.

Supposedly all the rules are based on an understanding of those many incidents and how often they occurred.

For instance, terrain hampers movement. How much on average? That is what you are considering with your terrain tables… What is the range of hampered movement?
[Particularly when you have the possibility of distances and times varying as much as 50-70%.

How does a ponderous army differ from an agile one? Was the Allied army at Austerlitz ponderous? Some have said so, but even with a traffic jam in the dark the morning of the battle, all the Russian and Austrian columns began their attacks according to the plan detailed the night before, even the one column held up by muddy trails. What actions/performance is categorized as ponderous?

Simulations are based on internally consistant probabilities, they are based on statistical probabilities of actual events.

Statistics are interesting things. They often provide information that is either counter-intuitive or simply against 'common knowledge.' For instance, from doing some statistical analysis of movement, I have found that movement speeds up the closer the units are to the enemy… rather than slowing down. Another is that the average movement lost to difficult difficult terrain is about 30% with a range of 60% reduced to 10%. Which means that the average should be @ 30% with a possible result no greater than 60% loss to only 10%.

Perfect quantification? No. Can it be more exact, yes. Was it difficult to do? Somewhat. But that is a far better set of probabilities if we are talking about modeling historical reality.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 6:03 a.m. PST

Hi Bill,

You know I have the greatest respect for your knowledge of the period and your quest for data and scientific rigour.

"You would think weather would create more accidents. But surprise, statistically, it doesn't. Bad weather only increases the chances that the accident will be bad, not the number of them."

Interesting. What's your source? According to p58 of Rune Elvik, Handbook of Road Safety Measures (Oxford: Elsevier, 2004): ‘Darkness, precipitation and difficult road surface conditions contribute to increasing the risk of accidents. This has been shown in a number of studies.' And Malin et al in ‘Accident risk of road and weather conditions on different road types' (AAP, 2019) say Eisenberg and Warner (2005) ‘found that snowy days had fewer fatal but more non-fatal crashes'.


"the average movement lost to difficult terrain is about 30% with a range of 60% reduced to 10%. Which means that the average should be @ 30% with a possible result no greater than 60% loss to only 10%."

Great – your numbers broadly fit the BBB probability curve. On average, per turn:
1. A unit in open terrain with a +1 General will move 9.9".
2. A unit in Difficult terrain with a +1 General will move 6.0". (Reduction of 39%.)
3. A unit in open terrain with no General will move 8.5".
4. A unit in Difficult terrain with no General will move 4.9" (Reduction of 42%.)

The minimum reduction on maximum movement is 25%. This is higher than your threshold of 10%.
The typical reduction of 39%-42% is a little higher than your average of 30%.
Without knowing the details of your data, I can't be sure, but the difference might be accounted for in that BBB includes the increased uncertainty that difficult terrain introduces into the initial decision to move, whereas your data only count time spent actually moving. Could that be true?


"How does a ponderous army differ from an agile one? Was the Allied army at Austerlitz ponderous? Some have said so, but even with a traffic jam in the dark the morning of the battle, all the Russian and Austrian columns began their attacks according to the plan detailed the night before, even the one column held up by muddy trails."

Archduke Charles is good on contrasting a ponderous Austrian army with an agile French one: ‘[I]n the recent wars incompetent leadership generated quite opposite effects among [the Austrians] and the French; in the former it produced vacillation, in the latter, rashness. The French, inclined by the spirit of the Revolution to breach all boundaries and expecting every gamble to produce results, followed this impulse whenever they saw no other way out. [The Austrians], trained to subordinate their will, accustomed to rules and bound by responsibility, were paralyzed by indecision. Hence the French superiority whenever it concerned the simultaneous action of several men left to their own devices.'

A scenario for Austerlitz could give the Austrian and Russian columns a +1 on their activation rolls for the first turn or two to represent them being lined up to go according to plan. As soon as the enemy is encountered and they have to start using initiative and reacting to circumstances, they'd lose that +1.

Chris

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 6:51 p.m. PST

Chris:

Thank you for those explanations. We are now talking game /simulation design and probability. I want to say that this discussion is not about your game design per se, but about game design methods. I've played BBB some, and enjoyed it.

First, concerning my example of Freeway accidents. This is a good example of the need for specificity in evidence. I was referring to a 2002 CalTrans study of 1-80 freeway in Sacramento. I knew some of the folks tasked with creating a simulation of freeway traffic to be used in the freeway expansion. I noted it because those folks, like you and most all responible folks would look at traffic studies covering highways and such, coming to the same conclusions.

The reason I mentioned it in the first place is because everyone was surprised when the study of the freeway didn't support the very reasonable assumption that there would be more accidents in bad weather. I could give you the reasons, but it was an example of how statistics can surprise us or counter 'solid' information.

Without knowing the details of your data, I can't be sure, but the difference might be accounted for in that BBB includes the increased uncertainty that difficult terrain introduces into the initial decision to move, whereas your data only count time spent actually moving. Could that be true?

I realize I don't know your data and you don't know mine. I certainly will share it when I have it all in presentable form [there is a growing mountain of it…]

However, I am not sure how you determine that increased uncertainty/hesitation in moving on top of any loss of speed because of the terrain itself.

Using statistics, you don't have to inject that kind of data.

For instance, at Austerlitz, the Russian column traveling over the muddy trail, having to stop and repair the trail before moving on, made the overall 2 miles at 40 yards a minute or about two-thirds of the othe columns' speed. Any hesitation, stopping to repair etc. etc. is included in that speed. All those variables are part of dealing with difficult terrain. Get enough instances and such issues are subsumed in the results.

I am not sure what to make of the numbers you give for the BBB probability curve. The ground scale represents 150 to 250 yards to the inch and normally 1 hour turns, but can ge 30 minutes to 2 hours or more.
Just with a normal 1 hour turn that range in movement is 1 mile an hour to 1.7 miles. And this is before any terrain, command or formation issues. As most troop movements I have seen average 60-75 yards a minute [or a little more than half a football field] or 2 to 2.5 miles an hour--with all the variables possible in movement, how does your terrain table work?

I understand I may not be reading what you're doing correctly. Have you compared games of battles with the movement in the actual engagements?

Archduke Charles is good on contrasting a ponderous Austrian army with an agile French one: ‘[I]n the recent wars incompetent leadership generated quite opposite effects among [the Austrians] and the French

Interesting quote, but I am not sure that using Archduke Charles' thoughts on incompetent officers as the contrast between ponderous and agile armies is meaningful unless a good portion of both armies are incompetent. The mechanics for represent to two types of incompetency would be fun.

A scenario for Austerlitz could give the Austrian and Russian columns a +1 on their activation rolls for the first turn or two to represent them being lined up to go according to plan. As soon as the enemy is encountered and they have to start using initiative and reacting to circumstances, they'd lose that +1.

Chris, this is the kind of quick solution that I see as dancing on air. What makes you think their 'agility' changed during the battle?

I can only think of two example of the Allied army at Austerlitz that *might* be considered'ponderous' along the lines you suggest.

1. One column commander, [Langeron?] on being told the French were on the Pratzen Heights to his right, and urged by his officers to advance on them, said that his orders were to attack straight head and until he received different orders,he would continue to follow his original orders.
2. Several column commanders had no mounted couriers, so couldn't report back to the CinC[s] including Langeron.

There were similar actions by French commanders like Bernadotte--failing to follow orders or slow. For the first hour and a half of the battle, Napoleon didn't issue any orders and none of his commanders failed to follow the plan during that time regardless of their 'agility.'

Even so, generally, there was no Allied 'slowness' or hesitation in responding to Napoleon's army. Bagration, Constentine and Kollowrat all moved with acclarity and initiative. They were simply out-generaled. I suspect that if you had the the modifier you suggest…it would be difficult to replicate the original movement rates during the battle.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2020 6:03 a.m. PST

Hi Bill,

I'm enjoying the discussion. Do you think anyone else is still following? Nice to know you've enjoyed playing BBB.

Thanks for the clarification re weather and traffic accidents. It is true that in some specific contexts, of which your Sacramento freeway example is one (Athens seems to be another), weather seems to have counter-intuitive effects on accidents.


"I am not sure how you determine that increased uncertainty/hesitation in moving on top of any loss of speed because of the terrain itself."

I realized later that there is another, simpler, better explanation for why my difficult terrain movement reduction percentages are a bit higher than your data suggest. BBB operates in 3" increments, which is 25% of infantry's 12" move. The kind of slightly impeding terrain that would cause a 10-15% reduction simply has too modest an effect to be categorized as Difficult in BBB terms. That's a question of granularity and scenario design.


"The [BBB] ground scale represents 150 to 250 yards to the inch and normally 1 hour turns, but can be 30 minutes to 2 hours or more. Just with a normal 1 hour turn that range in movement is 1 mile an hour to 1.7 miles. And this is before any terrain, command or formation issues. As most troop movements I have seen average 2 to 2.5 miles an hour--with all the variables possible in movement, how does your terrain table work?"

The furthest an infantry unit can move is 24", if it is in column on a road. That should usually work out to about 3.5-4mph. Our calculations worked back from there.


"Have you compared games of battles with the movement in the actual engagements?"

Yes, of course. Various scenario writers have now created 100s of historical scenarios for BBB. Each one necessarily entails examining how far formations moved and over what period of time, setting the ground scale to accommodate the battle, and dividing the game into an appropriate number of turns of appropriate length accordingly. By and large, this works. Occasionally in playtest we find that it doesn't. Eg, in my Waterloo scenario, it is technically feasible for the Prussians to reach and take Plancenoit, but probably a little too difficult; at some point I or another of the team will probably revisit that scenario and adjust either the number of turns and the time they represent, or the difficulty of the terrain the Prussians have to get through, or a bit of both. We fought Austerlitz a few months ago and again, the time-space equation probably needs a bit of tweaking.

But overall, after fighting 100s of historical battles with BBB over the best part of a decade, I am very confident in saying that BBB movement distances produce plausible historical results. (And so do the combat resolution and command and control rules.) If they didn't, I'd be playing something else by now.


"I am not sure that using Archduke Charles' thoughts on incompetent officers as the contrast between ponderous and agile armies is meaningful unless a good portion of both armies are incompetent."

Like your freeway example, it was a specific context: the 1799 campaign, particularly in the difficult terrain of Switzerland where independent thought and action were particularly necessary. And where, indeed, a good portion of the Austrian commanders (including Charles himself) were incompetent. Doesn't necessarily apply to 1805 or any other time or campaign. Each campaign, indeed each battle, is different and needs to be modelled individually.


"What makes you think [the Austro-Russians'] 'agility' changed during the battle?"

I never said it did. I don't know Austerlitz well enough to have a strong view; when we fought it recently, it wasn't my scenario. But mechanical implementation of a C-in-C's plan is different from using initiative to respond to local circumstances. It is possible for an army to be good at one and bad at the other, per Charles's comment re 1799. IF that were the case at Austerlitz, that +1 I suggested could be a way to capture that. Similar but different: we fought the ACW battle of Stones River this week. Half the Union army was handicapped in the initial turns with either no move at all or else a -1 on units' movement rolls. These are simple modifiers that enable fitting the probability curve to the specific context in an elegant and plausible way.

Chris

Bloody Big BATTLES!
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Wolfhag13 Feb 2020 10:34 a.m. PST

I'm still following but the 1800's era of warfare is not my area of expertise and I have not played the game so please excuse any ignorance on my part.

The furthest an infantry unit can move is 24", if it is in a column on a road. That should usually work out to about 3.5-4mph. Our calculations worked back from there.

I'd be interested in for how long and how far could they keep up that rate and I'd imagine less well trained and conditioned troops would be able to keep it up for a shorter distance and amount of time. At the tactical level, I'd think that you could have a fast rate for a specific amount of time which if exceeded would generate stragglers. I'd think that would apply to any era of warfare but I don't know of many examples in the 1800's.

From my 25 mile forced march experience is about 6 hours for a Company size column formation on a dirt trail. We'd stop about every 50-55 minutes for a break and to allow the stragglers to catch up (that aspect is very important at the tactical level). The ideal rate of movement would be as fast as the slowest man. However, there is a big exception. The commander can always choose to go faster and string the march column out and increase fatigue. I think this would fall under the category of friction and a "Risk-Reward Decision" for the commander. If a column is spread out they will need to recover which increases your Loop to attack. The commander in a forced march in advance to contact may arrive and see he has achieved surprise but only has 50% of his troops ready to attack. If he waits for the other 50% the enemy will deploy to defend against the attack and he has lost to surprise factor.

Stonewall Jackson's unit had a reputation as a fast forced marcher. One time (I forget which battle) he marched all night and showed up in the Union flank at dawn and immediately attacked and surprised them. However, because of the fast rate only 1/3 of the men made it to the attack. If he had slowed the rate he would have lost the surprise factor.

One characteristic of elite and well-trained troops is that they can keep up a faster rate and stay in formation longer than less well trained and conditioned troops.

Examples: When my son was going through Recon training at Camp Pendleton he did a 7 mile "Ruck Run" (a fast forced march)with 75 pounds of gear in 2:15 for just over 3 mph. This was on a hard trail but through the mountains and not in formation as it was a timed event. He finished second being beaten by 10 minutes by a Marine 6'6" tall that competes professionally in Iron Man Triathlons. I doubt if more than 10% of the men in his unit could have kept up with them. I used to carry 60-70 pounds of gear and I could not have kept up that rate, no way.

A team of eight Royal Marine Commandos managed to cover the 26.2 miles distance in 4 hours 16 minutes and 43 seconds, breaking the previous record by two minutes. Each man was carrying more than 40lbs. And for the attempt to be valid, all the team members had to finish.
link

The Marine Recon Shuffle and Airborne Shuffle:
It is a relaxed shuffle with full packs where the feet are kept horizontal to the ground (not toe to heel running) with the arms relaxed at your side at a rate of 12 minutes a mile or 5 mph. Well-conditioned units could keep this rate for hours and still stay in a Platoon or Company size column formation on a hard trail or road. I don't know of any attempts to do this above the Company level.

My questions would be what is the fastest rate of road movement a battalion, regiment or division could make in a column without getting strung out to the point of losing effectiveness and how long could they keep it up? What formation sizes are your movement rates based on? Does the player have a Risk-Reward Decision to move faster but create friction and stragglers? Are rates based on unit training/experience?

"Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious than to be able to decide." Napoleon Bonaparte

For me, this translates to Decide in the loop which is a major factor in Acting. The longer you take to decide the more you are giving the initiative to the enemy allowing him inside your Loop. I see it as a timing variation, not a chance with a die roll modifier to activate. So a good commander may take D6+5 turns modified by a number of tactical and strategic factors (personal observation, staff expertise, friction, current intel, etc)and personal characteristics/reputation. A poor commander might be D6+10 turns. I'd think it would be difficult to determine exactly under all circumstances how long the Decide part may take. If you are not using discrete units of time you'd have to go with a chance/modifier to activate.

One last question. In an attempt to "get everyone doing something at the same time" do you have some type of way to simulate simultaneous movement?

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2020 6:20 p.m. PST

Davout's soldiers marched 110 km (68 mi) in 48 hours or 34 miles a day--others state after a forced march of 80 miles, covered in just 50 hours. Of course, that is 1.6 miles an hour so if marching 2.5 miles an hour means they were on the march for 32 hours, at least 16 hours per day. That was considered a surprising rate for a large column.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP14 Feb 2020 5:26 a.m. PST

Hi Wolfhag, I'm glad we're keeping you amused as well as ourselves.


"I'd be interested in for how long and how far could they keep up that rate and I'd imagine less well trained and conditioned troops would be able to keep it up for a shorter distance and amount of time."

I do recognise the real-world effects of hard marching – I too have had to nurse stragglers along. In principle, if the dice and the situation are kind, in BBB a unit could march at ~4mph for the whole game, 8 hours plus, without suffering any penalty in terms of stragglers, fatigue, loss of cohesion etc. (Conversely, while vanishingly unlikely, it is theoretically possible for no unit on either side to move at all, for the whole game, if everyone keeps rolling snake eyes.) In practice, it doesn't happen, either because the dice reduce some of the moves, or more often simply because at 24" a move you will probably be in combat after a couple of turns.


"Stonewall Jackson's unit had a reputation as a fast forced marcher. […] One characteristic of elite and well-trained troops is that they can keep up a faster rate and stay in formation longer than less well trained and conditioned troops."

Of course Jackson's ‘foot cavalry', like Napoleon's Army of Italy in 1796, were unencumbered by such luxuries as food … 😉 Yes, you are right. General Bem's campaign in Transylvania in 1849 is a case in point. He left half his army behind at one stage, because he felt the raw national guards would slow down his hardcore Polish Legion and regular troops too much. In one episode he covered 150km of Transylvanian mountain roads in four days, and in general he danced round his Austrian and Russian opponents. Another good instance of ‘ponderous' vs ‘agile'.


"My questions would be what is the fastest rate of road movement a battalion, regiment or division could make in a column without getting strung out to the point of losing effectiveness and how long could they keep it up? What formation sizes are your movement rates based on? Does the player have a Risk-Reward Decision to move faster but create friction and stragglers? Are rates based on unit training/experience?"

Fastest rate: see above.
Formation sizes in BBB: typically a brigade or division of several thousand men.
Risk-Reward Decision in BBB: not at the individual unit level, only the gamble if eg you move your leading unit the full distance and hope it won't be left isolated if the following units fail their rolls.
Training/experience: occasionally in BBB scenarios you will see militia or other poor troops rated Passive (slowing them down).


"I'd think it would be difficult to determine exactly under all circumstances how long the Decide part may take. If you are not using discrete units of time you'd have to go with a chance/modifier to activate."

I agree. That's pretty much what BBB's command/activation mechanism is based on. It integrates factors such as terrain, doctrine etc, but ultimately there is uncertainty resolved by dice.


"do you have some type of way to simulate simultaneous movement?"

Not really. A player can spend a couple of turns lining all his brigades up tidily, ready to launch them all in a concerted assault, and then be let down by the dice failing to activate some of them, without getting any bonus for his preparation. I have toyed with the idea of granting a modifier for ‘conforming' – a +1 if a unit ends its movement within 3" of the previous unit to move, if they were within 3" of each other at the start of the turn. But I haven't implemented that. The nearest BBB comes to representing such a prepared attack is that the turn before assaulting, the player should make sure his units are clear of difficult terrain (no -1 penalty), and the C-in-C or other qualified General is on the spot to dedicate suitable command attention (his +1 modifier) to making it happen.

Chris

PS Anyone in UK in June who wants to come to the BBB Bash Day, please get in touch!
TMP link

Bloody Big BATTLES!
https://groups.io/g/bloodybigbattles
bloodybigbattles.blogspot.com

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP14 Feb 2020 11:28 a.m. PST

"I'd think it would be difficult to determine exactly under all circumstances how long the Decide part may take. If you are not using discrete units of time you'd have to go with a chance/modifier to activate."

I agree. That's pretty much what BBB's command/activation mechanism is based on. It integrates factors such as terrain, doctrine etc, but ultimately there is uncertainty resolved by dice.

Chris:

I've been enjoying the discussion too. We are getting down to the nitty-gritty of wargame design. We've talked about maps and terrain. You research well, certainly better than me at times. It's the question of turning that reseach into a system that represents it. We are talking about simulating history.

I do have ask: What exactly are you integrating above? It sounds like you agree that because "it would be difficult to determine exactly under all circumstances how long the Decide part may take" you have just come up with some uncertainty modifier because you are uncertain.

This sounds fairly vague, to say the least…and unnecessary if doing a statistical analysis.

I gave the example of Austerlitz. The column that moved slower because of mud and stopping to repair the trail. That speed included decision time, doctrine etc. etc. There is no reason to 'factor in' anything, because it is apart of the information.

If I get say thirty such speeds through mud [or just difficult terrain], not only will I have an average much closer to reality, but if different countries have different performances averaging below and above that overall average, I can see that doctrine etc. has actually made a difference in moving through difficult terrain--established with some concrete evidence.

That 60 yards per minute movement wasn't road march rate. It was how fast troops in battle formation moved. For instance both Contantine's Corps and Soult moved at that rate with two divisions each in battle array in the presence of the enemy.

As most tables will be 6 X 4 feet, that is 10 X 6.5 miles square at most with 250 yards per inch. There is far more battle movement than road marches with most all table top games.

So far, you have given 3 examples of 'ponderous vs agile' armies. One is dealing with the behavior of incompetent generals and the other two elite units on road march. Neither of these make sense in the wargames we are discussing. For instance, Stonewall's troops marching ability. How does that presumed agility translate into troop performances at the Shannandoah campaign battles, which is what our games will be representing?

You called Archduke Charles 'incompetent' in 1799 Switzerland. What kind of performance earns that label and how do you establish the 'chance' of particular behaviors for 'incompetence?'

In simulation design, labels don't help much at all unless they describe a particular, valid data base. Otherwise you are 'dancing on air.' You know, I have a 'incompetence' modifier and I'll lay it on Charles. Then you are in tweaking, feel, and fudge territory. If you'll excuse the pun, that is very dicey approach when representing history.

Yes, of course. Various scenario writers have now created 100s of historical scenarios for BBB. Each one necessarily entails examining how far formations moved and over what period of time, setting the ground scale to accommodate the battle, and dividing the game into an appropriate number of turns of appropriate length accordingly. By and large, this works.

So, you have a standard set of movement rates and move the time and ground scale to make it work--for that scenario.

Occasionally in playtest we find that it doesn't. Eg, in my Waterloo scenario, it is technically feasible for the Prussians to reach and take Plancenoit, but probably a little too difficult; at some point I or another of the team will probably revisit that scenario and adjust either the number of turns and the time they represent, or the difficulty of the terrain the Prussians have to get through, or a bit of both. We fought Austerlitz a few months ago and again, the time-space equation probably needs a bit of tweaking.

Apart from using one game system to represent over 100 years of land warfare. [e.g. movement rates and formations weren't the same over that period.], this 'tweaking' as a simulation method in representing history, it is wonky, however well it works in creating 'less difficult' play challenges technically.

But overall, after fighting 100s of historical battles with BBB over the best part of a decade, I am very confident in saying that BBB movement distances produce plausible historical results. (And so do the combat resolution and command and control rules.) If they didn't, I'd be playing something else by now.

Is that by the methods you give above, by 'tweaking', or is that just an overall feeling, or have you used consistent methods for determining that 'plausible'?

Plausible in representative terms, in simulation terms has a particluar meaning and methods for determining that rather than some gut feeling over many games.

Such work is time-consuming to actually design a simulation, a representative system, apart from the hard work to design a game system and/or scenario that 'works.'

I have no problem with wargame designers who don't want to do that, whether because of time, the effort involved or whatever. I am bothered when designers think they are doing something that they aren't in representing history.

Wolfhag15 Feb 2020 7:52 a.m. PST

McLaddie,

This sounds fairly vague, to say the least…and unnecessary if doing a statistical analysis.

I'm not really sure what would be the best way to approach it. Maybe take the average and adjust it for friction, troop types, command or particular commanders. If you are looking at the command loop there are factors like the latest intel/report update and how correct it was. If the commander had eyes on the situation that would enable him to get through the loop more quickly than being back at the Corps HQ waiting for reports.

If you'll excuse the pun, that is very dicey approach when representing history.

When you are using an activation mechanic all you can do is estimate it and modify it with die rolls. One situation I see with activation rolls is that if you miss activating say on turn 3 and 4 but activate on turn 5 you see the battlefield situation and intel on game 5 and can issue the order then having perfect intel you would not have had on turn 3. Now if on turn 3 the player issued an order and then each turn rolled to see when the order (not the leader) activated and if the order was activated on turn 5 it may be the wrong order now because of changing conditions during the turn it took to be activated. Once issued the command cannot be withdrawn. However, if the order is the wrong one for the new tactical situation you could use a subordinate leader's initiative to potentially change it. Otherwise, the wrong order must be executed. That sounds like fun to me and I'm sure someone is already doing it that way. That should be a better representation of the OODA Loop that just leader activation. Ideally, leaders are always active, it just a variable amount of time for their will to be carried out. That's how I see it.

Such work is time-consuming to actually design a simulation, a representative system, apart from the hard work to design a game system and/or scenario that 'works.'

Personally, I think you can design an overall system or tailor one to a particular scenario and tweak it to get the historical results. I did this for a Charge of the Light Brigade at a convention. Knowing nothing about the era, I read up on the battle, tactic, personalities, weapons and troop characteristics. There were three aspects to the battle: getting there, fighting and getting back. By knowing the causalities and how long the cavalry was exposed to the cannons I could tweak the cannon fire to get historical results. The British players had a choice to gallop faster and take fewer causalities but be strung out when they get to the cannons or stay together and take the cannon fire longer but be better prepared for the assault. The players loved the game and we got the historic results that everyone was expecting. However, unless players performed non-historic actions it may have been different. I did the same thing for an ACW Battle of the Crater and got historic results. However, I would not recommend either system for other battles.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP15 Feb 2020 10:03 p.m. PST

When you are using an activation mechanic all you can do is estimate it and modify it with die rolls. One situation I see with activation rolls is that if you miss activating say on turn 3 and 4 but activate on turn 5 you see the battlefield situation and intel on game 5 and can issue the order then having perfect intel you would not have had on turn 3.

Wolfhag:
No, it isn't all you can do. Now you are talking about situational awareness. That is something all military men were concerned with and talked about.

Personally, I think you can design an overall system or tailor one to a particular scenario and tweak it to get the historical results.

The problems in representing history with this method are this:

1. What constitutes a 'historical result.' For instance, Chris posted about the Waterloo scenario [Feb 13] and the conclusion that it was 'too difficult' for the Prussians to take Plancenoit. Now that might be a game conclusion, but if it is a historical conclusion about the system as it stands, how difficult was it to take Plancenoit? Did the Prussians do something extrodinary or simply average?
Unless that conclusion is based on some historical evidence rather than game needs, how is that 'representing history.'

2. What consitutes 'historical results?' what template is being used here? I can design a game that gets 'historical results' without ever opening a history book.
Shoot, roll a D10, 40% French win, 60% Allied win. A game with a historical result? The question is how the game system is representing the environment and dynamics of battle based on historical evidence in getting to the 'result.'

3. If you really believe it is impossible to actually determine with historical evidence, then do whatever you want, but let's not pretend we are capturing anything of history. At best we are illustrating some military principles such as conservation of force or the offensive needing superior force to succeed.

I'm not really sure what would be the best way to approach it. Maybe take the average and adjust it for friction, troop types, command or particular commanders. If you are looking at the command loop there are factors like the latest intel/report update and how correct it was. If the commander had eyes on the situation that would enable him to get through the loop more quickly than being back at the Corps HQ waiting for reports.

Remember, we were simply talking about how fast and how often troops actually moved, not the commander's OODA loop in making decisions. The US Army and other nation's armies have made studies of this, which certainly can be used. However, officers of the 1700s and 1800s were concerned with the same issues. It's just that they came up with different answers.

It is possible to come to some conclusions about 'how long' such thing would take and how much of a factor was the experience and temperment of the commander. That takes some research. What is interesting is that question wasn't lost on contemporaries during the Napoleonic wars or after. They just didn't put it into 20th century US Army conceptual jargon.

The players loved the game and we got the historic results that everyone was expecting. However, unless players performed non-historic actions it may have been different. I did the same thing for an ACW Battle of the Crater and got historic results. However, I would not recommend either system for other battles.

Well, again, what constitutes 'historical results' and was it the fact that you used just the results of cannon fire etc. from the actual engagement and/or the fact that all the players got the results they expected?

That doesn't take away from the fun, it simply was a static simulation built on a one off event modeled pretty much to create the same result… which makes it a movie, a static simulation, where you get the very same result every time, not a dynamic simulation where player's decisions can change much of the outcome. The 'results' are pre-programmed.

When a scenario is built on just the results of that historical event… and 'tweaked' to generate those results on a very narrow band, what else but a 'historical result' could you expect?

With a dynamic simulation, we are placing the players in an evironment modeled on the battlefield environment and asking 'what could they do?' and what were the historical variables defining the answer?

Wolfhag16 Feb 2020 10:03 a.m. PST

Regarding movement, personally I like the idea of exceeding historical movement rates but with some type of friction or fatigue penalty. Let the player decide.

It is possible to come to some conclusions about 'how long' such thing would take and how much of a factor was the experience and temperment of the commander. That takes some research.

Yes and that's part of the overall problem. Much research is an interpretation of which there is not normally a consensus agreement. The next problem is the designer getting into the commander's mind and how he would react at that moment. You may know his general disposition but what advice was he getting and how accurate and up to date were his intel reports in that battle? Was he under other mental or physical stress? Was there any politics involved in his decision? What did high-level HQ desire?

In the end, the designer needs to make his best estimate and have a game mechanic to simulate it. I think the two general choices are activations with die roll modifiers or OODA Loop timing with delays built in between each step in the loop. It appears to me BBB captures the overall feel of command as best as he can using activations.

That doesn't take away from the fun, it simply was a static simulation built on a one off event modeled pretty much to create the same result… which makes it a movie, a static simulation, where you get the very same result every time, not a dynamic simulation where player's decisions can change much of the outcome. The 'results' are pre-programmed.

The game was at a convention so we needed something easy, interactive and would meet the player's expectations. The goal was to recreate the battle, immerse the players into it and make them "feel" as if they were experiencing it themselves.

What we didn't want to happen was to have the game bog down by having the players get involved in rules they had no previous knowledge on.

I knew how far the cavalry moved at a walk, trot and gallop per minute and the cannon's rate of fire so I just synchronized them to be somewhat simultaneous within a 1-minute turn. That eliminated the need for IGYG and unit activations. I think that part is pretty historic with a minimum of abstractions.

However, I'm not sure if the cannons and crew were highly or poorly trained so another battle could deliver different results. I had the CRT charts designed to deliver the results I wanted which were historic for that battle but maybe not universally accurate, I don't know. Were the Russian cannoneers have a good or bad day, I'm not sure. Were there any malfunctions? Don't know. There are many more unknown factors that could have changed to result. We could have included chances for bad things to go wrong but we didn't want any surprises that could throw off the "production".

We were putting on a production to entertain people that had paid $$ to come and enjoy themselves. Not to do a study of warfare in that era. There are many players that are looking for that experience. They have a lot of historical knowledge and would like to see it replayed visually on a big 24-foot long table with pretty miniatures. They weren't there to learn a new set of rules or be lectured to by the game designer about why his interpretation of the battle, while different than theirs, is right and they are wrong. We aimed to please.

With a dynamic simulation, we are placing the players in an evironment modeled on the battlefield environment and asking 'what could they do?' and what were the historical variables defining the answer?

I totally agree there. Personally, I would have designed the same scenario without the historical constraints forced on the players and let the players themselves decide what to do. My partner wanted to recreate the command problems and personal issues between the commanders before the battle. It was part of the "color" that players were expecting as all participants were very familiar with the battle and I had minimal knowledge at best.

IIRC movement was historic based on the AAR of how long it took the cavalry to get to the cannons. However, I can't claim the same movement for other battles as there are too many factors.

When a scenario is built on just the results of that historical event… and 'tweaked' to generate those results on a very narrow band, what else but a 'historical result' could you expect?

Exactly! The designer met his goal. Mission accomplished. My goal was not to recreate a universal system that would be applicable to all battles in the Napoleonic Era and I'm not claiming that to the extent I don't recommend my approach to other battles. I think it's the same for BBB. However, I do get your overall point.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2020 11:40 a.m. PST

Regarding movement, personally I like the idea of exceeding historical movement rates but with some type of friction or fatigue penalty. Let the player decide.

Wolfhag:
Huh? Wha do you mean…what do you consider 'historical movement rates." I was talking about determining the historical movement rates--not exceeding them. sticking in made up friction and fatigue is not only unnecessary if using proper methods, but more make-believe.

es and that's part of the overall problem. Much research is an interpretation of which there is not normally a consensus agreement.

As how is that different with ANY simulation design. First of all, statistics can often clear up the vagarities of 'interpretation'. Second, knowing whose 'interpretation' of reality is being used needs to be both consistently used and known to the players.

For instance, Dundas and Torrens both determined that a line of battalions in line formation--on average--would cover 1000 to 1200 paces in 12 to 15 minutes over even ground under artillery fire. It's stated in the British regulations of 1798 and 1824. At 30" to the pace, that is 2 miles an hour.

That is an interpretation, a conclusion on average by experienced military men. If I used that as the average for a game system over even ground…it was be a faster movement rate than almost all Napoleonic war games. Rebels that made it to the wall in Pickett's Charge, under serious artillery fire did better at 110 paces per minute.

what 'interpretation' are you thinking of when you say 'historical movement?'

In the end, the designer needs to make his best estimate and have a game mechanic to simulate it.

My best estimate isn't simulation design. My best use of proven simulation design methods is the approach for creating a functioning simulation system.

I think the two general choices are activations with die roll modifiers or OODA Loop timing with delays built in between each step in the loop. It appears to me BBB captures the overall feel of command as best as he can using activations.

First, I don't see those two general choices as the only two. Second, what do you mean when you say 'captures the overall feel of command'? Compared to what history? We are back to feelings again.

The game was at a convention so we needed something easy, interactive and would meet the player's expectations. The goal was to recreate the battle, immerse the players into it and make them "feel" as if they were experiencing it themselves.

Fine, I have no problems with that goal or having players immerse themselves in the game. The question in terms of simulation is what are they 'feeling' and how do we know it has anything to do with the history supposedly represented…particularly if simple things like the rate of movement aren't 'historical?'

I just played "Clank" with some friends…it is a D&D type hunt for treasure while getting out alive. [I didn't]

Very emmersive, but I never thought I was experiencing something that had any connection to past reality. Let's not confuse the two. A simulation is 'guided pretending'. What players are 'guided' to do in a simulation is experience things that have a DIRECT relationship to the thing being modeled, mimicked, recreated, simulated.

If you can't make those connections between actual history and play for the gamers, no matter how deep the immersion or what they think they feel based on who knows what, you haven't provided a functional simulation.

One of the advantages of a system like your wargame design is that it is down to the actions of individual tanks and crews, the relationships between reality and the game are fairly obvious. You have based much of the timing and hit probabilities on military studies [statistics] which are interpretations of the evidence.

Your efforts are much more likely to be 'guided pretending' for those reasons. The same experience can be made at higher command levels IF the players have some idea of what the reality was.

Like the Urban Tactical exercises, for a simulation to work, players have to be very clear on what play is and isn't linked directly to reality in the way of experience, skills, and methods.

I totally agree there. Personally, I would have designed the same scenario without the historical constraints forced on the players and let the players themselves decide what to do.

Without historical constraints?? You mean event recreation constraints. The actual British at Crimea or the Union at the Crater weren't under the 'historical constraints' you suggest in your games.

My partner wanted to recreate the command problems and personal issues between the commanders before the battle.

That isn't what your partner created even if those were his goals. What he recreated was the particular decisions made because of the problems and personal issues. The players didn't have to deal with the command problems or personal issues… they had to deal--I mean play out-- the singular consequences of the decisions already made.

Exactly! The designer met his goal. Mission accomplished

So in those scenarios your partner and you were satisfied with creating an immersive movie rather than a decision-making platform.

Nothing wrong with that, but let's not confuse the two.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2020 1:12 p.m. PST

Nothing wrong with that, but let's not confuse the two.

I want to add, that is what 'the by scenario tweaking' does at worst, create a straight-jacket game, a movie. At best it makes a mishmash of two distinct types of simulation by mixing the goals and methods for producing them and then failing to provide a functional simulation of either.

It might well produce a great game experience, but it ain't providing history in a dynamic system much at all.

Most wargame designers confuse the two systems all the time. One recreates a historical event, a movie to experience, then other recreates a historical environment where players make decisions and create the events.

They require different design approaches.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP16 Feb 2020 1:29 p.m. PST

Hi Bill,

Thanks again for taking the trouble to comment so extensively and critically. It's healthy to have my assumptions and assertions challenged like this.

While BBB was obviously based on a lot of reading over many years, I won't pretend its foundation was rigorous statistical analysis, even if I seem to have got reasonably close to the answers some of your stats give.* The real research effort goes into each individual historical scenario; dismiss that 'by scenario tweaking' if you wish.

There are certainly things about BBB that are unrealistic. The big one is the fact that there is no fog of war – all the objectives are known, all the troops are on the table. Another, as Wolfhag mentions, is that activation uncertainty is an imperfect substitute for the real-world time-lag between issuing orders and implementing them. No doubt we could both point to others.

Where I believe BBB achieves a degree of realism is in putting players in a general's position, confronting him with the strengths and weaknesses of his army vis-à-vis his opponent's, forcing him to make a plan that exploits those and takes account of other relevant factors (terrain, time constraints, etc), and rewarding good plans or punishing bad ones in appropriate ways. I do think there are insights to be had from this, such as appreciation of why generals chose certain courses over others, why events went the way they did, and how they might have gone differently.

You may dismiss all that as ‘feelings'. That's fine. At this point I'm ready to leave it at that and let our readers and players decide for themselves.

Chris

*I.e., the effect of difficult terrain. Also, you have prompted me to examine all 9 scenarios in BBB and 15 in the companion BBEB scenario book. Turn lengths range from 30 to 120 minutes. Ground scale ranges from 125m per inch to 667m per inch. The speed at which an infantry unit can move varies between scenarios from 0.9-2.5mph cross country (1.9-5mph in road column), with the average across scenarios being 1.6mph (3.2mph in road column). While some of these numbers may seem a little low, the ones at the bottom of the scale were all affected by adverse weather conditions, eg Inkerman – fought in the fog – and Le Mans, fought by two exhausted frozen armies in the snow. Thus your 2mph figure is comfortably in the range.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2020 10:28 a.m. PST

Good Morning,Chris:

[Or night in England] I appreciate your explanations of how you have approached your game design and scenarios. That is what this list is all about. It isn't necessarily easy to go back and suss out what was done six years ago.

Just to clarify. I am not 'dismissing' feelings. They have a very important role in the game experience and thus game design. What the participants are feeling in play, providing those feelings in game system, is in itself a fascinating challenge for game AND simulation designers.

I am saying that the validity of any functional simulation simply isn't based on impressions, feelings and flavor. Those always remain vague, based on so many unconscious assumptions, anecdotes, or just the beer you drank or the last book you read. Such feelings have to be tested against actual evidence to be used as the basis for historical representation.

I can't tell you how many times my feelings on some historical issue have been simply wrong when really tested, let alone game design beliefs.

Where I believe BBB achieves a degree of realism is in putting players in a general's position,…

To do that, there has to be an established, overt connection between what the players are doing and what the generals could do--not just what the generals did do. That is what the historical research and analysis does. That 1:1 connection with an otherwise artificial environment is what is the 'realism' you speak of.

*I.e., the effect of difficult terrain. Also, you have prompted me to examine all 9 scenarios in BBB and 15 in the companion BBEB scenario book. Turn lengths range from 30 to 120 minutes. Ground scale ranges from 125m per inch to 667m per inch. The speed at which an infantry unit can move varies between scenarios from 0.9-2.5mph cross country (1.9-5mph in road column), with the average across scenarios being 1.6mph (3.2mph in road column). While some of these numbers may seem a little low, the ones at the bottom of the scale were all affected by adverse weather conditions, eg Inkerman – fought in the fog – and Le Mans, fought by two exhausted frozen armies in the snow. Thus your 2mph figure is comfortably in the range.

No, my 2 mph average and your speeds were not generated the same way at all. You are comparing apples to oranges.

Even so, that average difference [if accepted as a norm] of between 1.6 mph and 2 mph comes to a difference of more than a mile every three hours, or 700 yards every hour. If you add in the chance of command failures, what do you have? Significantly slower troops. In BBB terms that is 3 to 5 inch difference in movment every turn at best.

What you have done is averaged out the conclusions you and others made about average speeds, a second level of conclusions removed from the actual data. What is your method for determining how fast a unit [on average] can move in any given scenario such as Inkerman or Le Mans? Are all the scenario designers using the same method[s]?

Is that giving the players the command power/challenges of the actual participants? I know averaging adverse weather conditions into the base to establish a norm for overall movement doesn't work for either determining the average movement with or without weather or fatigue etc. etc. In the end, you have simply based what could happen in a scenario on what did happen in that single event. It generates questionable results such as a 1.9 to 5mph range in road movement, for instance.

There are certainly things about BBB that are unrealistic.

Of course, that is true of every simulation ever created, or will be created. What players need to know is what realism is and isn't being provided by design.

The basic problem of doing individual scenarios without an overall 'norm' is just what I have stated: You are designing scenarios around single events…which systematically creates scenarios where those events have to happen and little else. Then at the end of a game, everyone sits back and says that it feels right and it produced 'historical results.'

I'm trying to point out the loopholes and weaknesses in current wargame design methodologies compared to the methods tested and used to design functioning simulations. You aren't necessarily getting what you think you are getting.

UshCha18 Feb 2020 9:33 a.m. PST

This is a facinating thread, not least the fact that many of the parameter are not key for me! That is NOT my usual insult it is just a simple diffrence of approach!

McLaddie is correct its important to define what is deliberately based on reality and what is at best illustrative rather than detailed statistical analysis.

Our focus is primarily on approximating the very basic behaviours of Tanks, not even to the extent Of Wolfhags system of detail, but on a wider scope of time that allows interaction with troops who behave on an altogether longer timescales.

Out movement system is very approximate, but really only aims very crudely to model the variations of speed possible by some vehicles. However even our attemps are far superior (in my opinion) to the attemps of other systems I have seen save perhaps Wolfhags.

Interestingly our command and control is very crude, primarily, its there to mimic very losely the command of units and groups of units. The uncertainty of command is as much based on my experience of briefing of folk during my exclusively non miliatry career and the need to eliminate "excessive simultinatity" easisest to decribe as excessive synchronisation of flanking partys arriveing in a world without maps or time pieces.

The aim of the system was to have a crude system that at least demonstrated approximately the benerfits of various formations, something lacking (in my opimion in most other systems).

Thus (I hope) demonstrating what is and is not realism provided by the design

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