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"Making an OODA Loop Time Competitive IGYG game" Topic

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Wolfhag12 Mar 2020 10:08 a.m. PST

What makes the OODA Decision Loop and "time competitiveness" a better portrayal of the action in 1:1 combat?
Because it allows players to compete head-to-head in a simultaneous game time environment with more reliance on their decisions and less on the dice and abstracted rules. The OODA Loop is natural and replaces traditional game rules which speed up the game and makes it easier to play.

In a time competitive game, I GO before YOU GO because I'm faster. You don't need any other rules.

"Whoever can make and implement his decisions consistently faster gains a tremendous, often decisive advantage. Decision-making thus becomes a time competitive process and timeliness of decisions (OODA Loop) becomes essential to generating tempo."
Tactical Decision Making, Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1, Warfighting

Why would you want to use this to replace other game systems?
A time competitive game creates more of a real-time head-to-head game environment with less left to chance and more to the unit crew type and player decisions. Weapons platforms perform using their real rates of speed, rates of fire, reload times and turret traverse speeds with a minimum of abstractions. With all units being on the clock the timing of actions is portrayed in a smoother manner without needing initiative, unit activations, movement points, or opportunity fire rules

If you want a better understanding of "Playing the Loop" read this 3-page detailed explanation:

Timing and the clock: You can't really simulate timing through the loop unless you are using a clock to measure the seconds and minutes. The game uses one second turns to measure how long an order will take to execute and what time in the future it will occur (Act in the loop). As the clock ticks second to second (not in real human time, a player moves the second hand for each turn) all units that are scheduled to shoot at that time do so and loop back to Observe and decide on their next action and how long it will take to execute. If there are no actions for the current turn the clock ticks to the next second.

Example: If a player decides to shoot at 1:03 and it will take 12 seconds he shoots when the clock reaches 1:15. Of course, during those 12 seconds, anything can happen, including him being knocked out before he shoots. All units are "on the clock" acting within their own OODA Loop.

Timing and Initiative: Using the second-to-second timing of all of the unit decision loops on the playing surface, the initiative is now determined by who gets through their loop first, not by an arbitrary or a random rule. All loops and actions are synchronized on a turn-to-turn and second-to-second basis. Your (the player) actions and decisions "seize" the initiative from the enemy by staying on the offensive by being inside his loop using your timing strengths against his weaknesses.

There are many historic variables in a tank-tank engagement. The simplest form would be like this to create your own game environment.

You "create" your vehicle/tank based on historic values like speed/pivot rate, turret traverse, and rate of fire.

Engaging a new target:
When reacting to engage a new target with a first shot roll a D6 + a modifier based on the tank's historic turret traverse rate. Maybe +3 for 30 degrees per second, +4 for 20 degrees, +7 for 10 degrees or for assault guns pivoting. Maybe +2 for poor crews and a -2 for good crews, no change for average crews. Being buttoned-up would be +4 turns. Use whatever values you feel are realistic and will work.

Player Risk-Reward Decision: You could shoot one turn sooner with one negative hit modifier or two turns sooner with two negative modifiers. This would deliver a somewhat historic first shot engagement time of 5-15 seconds and with it being somewhat variable it creates some suspense and Fog of War as your opponent is never sure when you'll get through your loop to shoot.

Use whatever gunnery rules you want. When a unit Acts/shoots will depend more on the crew type and the player's decision to trade decreased accuracy for increased speed than a random die roll or luck.

The OODA Loop: Immediately after performing an action the player is back to Observe. Immediately after shooting he can place a movement marker to move (Shoot & Scoot), engage the same target with a follow-up shot (see below) or a new target like above. There is no activation, initiative, opportunity fire rules or an order phase.

The follow-up shots would depend on the guns historic rate of fire and reload time. At 6 rounds per minute that's every 10 seconds/turns. Good crews would use 8 seconds and poor crews 12 seconds. You could shoot one turn sooner with one negative hit modifier or two turns sooner with two negative modifiers using whatever gunnery rules you like. That's between 6 and 12 seconds.

Game Flow: All units are active and can react on any turn to shoot or move. The use of simultaneous "Virtual Movement" allows a game to "stream" and the action to unfold on a second-to-second basis better than structured IGUG or unit activation rules can. It synchronizes movement rates with rates of fire eliminating the need for special opportunity fire and initiative rules. It allows players to be put in the same critical situations as their real-life counterparts, making the same "speed vs accuracy" decisions using the real-life tactics to seize the initiative by breaking their opponent's OODA Decision Loop. Players are "Playing the Loop" for each or their units rather than playing artificial and abstracted rules.

Where's the fun? I've played this version with kids aged 10-18 that never played a war game before. I spent 10 minutes explaining the concepts and a few sample moves, there were no rules to read. A customized data card was used for each vehicle and gun type that the players referred to during the game for shooting and moving and timing variables.

All they had to do was select their target, roll a D6 adding one or two numbers, record the time they'll shoot on a 3x5 index card and pay attention to the game. They were running 6-8 tanks "playing the loop" for each one.

Seconds count just as in real 1:1 combat. The clock is always ticking to the next turn of action without the need for traditional game rules to determine action sequences. There was suspense as the clock ticked to the next second because no one knew who would shoot next.

Using action timing in seconds has the advantage of delivering historic split-second combat results with no additional rules. After 20 minutes they were on their own and I was a spectator.

I'll introduce a more detailed version in a video in a few days.


Big Red Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2020 10:24 a.m. PST

This sounds a lot like variable length bound. An interesting concept but it was difficult to implement on the table top.

A video would be helpful.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2020 12:05 p.m. PST

It isn't like VLB in that there is no 'change of situation' or complicated 'syncing up' of commands because of multiple CoSs. A video would help, but it isn't difficult to implement… of course Wolfhag has always been moderating, so that helped, but it certainly isn't the same process as VLB,

Wolfhag12 Mar 2020 1:16 p.m. PST

Thanks McLaddie.

I hope this helps:

At 2:38 a real Panzer III tank crew would have the option to halt and reverse out of the LOS, turn into the T-34 and shoot, accelerate to get out of the LOS, shoot on the move or try to maneuver for a close-range flank shot.

The T-34/76 has a two-man turret and is buttoned up. That should cause an Engagement Delay meaning the crew will not go into action before the Panzer III giving the German crew precious seconds to gain a maneuver advantage or shoot first and maybe even get off two shots before the T-34/76, especially if the Panzer III has a better crew and the player trades decreased accuracy for increased speed simulating a Snap Shot or Battlesight aiming.

If you think about it, the German player has all of the same options and tactics available that a real crew would if he just "thinks like a tank commander" and does not worry about the rules. He just goes through his loop, considers his options, decides on an order, and determines how long it will take to Act on it.

This action is not isolated from the rest of the game. Remember, all units on the table that are moving are performing the same way creating new LOS and shooting taking place at various times depending on their loop. The players are making the same decisions and carrying out the same actions as their WWII coounterparts did.

Models are almost always out of scale in the game. With the vehicle icons drawn to scale on the movement markers, you get a better overall sense of scale and obtain better LOS and it also helps with high explosive templates too.

This concept has been playtested for 5 years, mostly with new players. It was suggested by a non-player spectator at a convention.

Hopefully videos on Monday.


nickinsomerset12 Mar 2020 1:57 p.m. PST

Sounds like Crossfire, great fun, but need a good umpire.

Tally Ho!

Wolfhag12 Mar 2020 4:31 p.m. PST

Sounds like Crossfire, great fun, but need a good umpire.

Nope. I have Crossfire, nothing like it at all.

Next guess?


Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2020 5:33 p.m. PST

It's the problem with anything relatively new--everyone sees it through game mechanics they already know comparing it to what they do understand first.

A normal process. wink

emckinney12 Mar 2020 7:24 p.m. PST

It's basically a first-person shooter that works shockingly well.

Wolfhag12 Mar 2020 8:42 p.m. PST

Do you mean like a tank video game that uses one second turns like a video game uses frames per second/frame rate?


pfmodel12 Mar 2020 11:03 p.m. PST

Very early rules, 1970's, used a very ad-hoc sequence of play which mimics the concept of a sequence of play which is divided into a number of mini-phases, with start and end determined by opposing elements seeing, firing or moving too close to each other. You can see something like this in the very old WRG Ancients rules. The issue is the free flow sequence of play makes it hard to regulate movement on a playing area. Regulation based on time limits, which would require a chess clock, would work, but would begin to resemble a game of quick-play chess. You get good, short and intense games, but afterwards you need several aspirins and a lie down.
Thus the issue is how do you regulate movement and combat within a game-turn without requiring large supplies of aspirin. SPI tried a friction point system where combat and movement was merged, which works very well and can easily be implemented in a set of rules. Giving each side a number of actions, or friction points, which can be allocated doing whatever you wish, does work and has been implemented in some rules. However this does not achieve the objective of merging opposing players "activities", only the different activities of one player.
A system where a player conducts movement and combat, until an activity which causes an enemy response stops it. The game turn then flips to the enemy, who conducts its ad-hoc activity, before allowing the phasing player to continue, is a solution. Many rules simulate this with opportunity fire, or overwatch, or a non-phasing activity which is triggered by enemy movement or fire combat. I used this type of sequence of play when I attempted to completed Gene McCoy's old wargamers Digest WW2 rules and it works very well. (Kriegsspiel-Zusammenfassung). But it takes players some time to get use to the idea that there is no rest time when the opponents turn is occurring and can be exhausting.
Specifically on the time aspect, competitive play using a chess clock is a good idea. It forces players to conduct their movement and fire combat quickly, however this is better suited to a simple I go you Go sequence of play. You could use time clocks using the system described above and I have done so with boardgames in a competition environment, but there is a lot of frenzied clock punching occurring when this occurs. I suspect using a chess clock is better for competitions games rather than friendly games, but I admit it does change the flavour of a game.

advocate13 Mar 2020 1:49 a.m. PST

I played the Colonial Skirmish rules back in the seventies. Each phase was a second, actions and reactions took a given amount of time. We got to know the rules well enough to group phases together.
Sounds like that in a different context.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2020 11:56 a.m. PST

I have a colleague who created a Napoleonic game that moved from second to second. The idea isn't new and there are a miriad of ways to create mechanics around the idea.

Wolfhag13 Mar 2020 12:37 p.m. PST

I know that Phoenix Command used two-second turns and an eight-second mega-turn. Using timing you can get a better portrayal of how lower-level tactics work other than assigning an arbitrary die roll modifier.

I guess a question would be is a game easier to play if you didn't need unit activations, determining initiative, used separate move/shoot segments, didn't need an orders phase, and didn't need special opportunity fire rules and exceptions? I think it is but there are quite a few players that like the rules I just mentioned.


Blutarski13 Mar 2020 2:17 p.m. PST

Ahhh – "Colonial Skirmish". A wonderful set of skirmish rules that accommodate conversion to any number of other periods. We used it for WW2 skirmish gaming with good success.

IIRC, the official pronouncement regarding length of turn was – "a very short period of time". I recall that one game turn was required to unsnap the flap on a pistol holster, another to draw the weapon, etc.


Blutarski13 Mar 2020 2:24 p.m. PST

On the subject of the relationship between turn and length of time represented, Phil Barker stated that one turn in his Armor & Infantry Rule 1925-1950 represented about 30 seconds of actual firing time but about 5 minutes in overall clock time to allow for the typical command/control/communication/confusion components of the battlefield.

I think much depends upon where the game designer chooses to place his stake on the representational game-play spectrum.

Wolfhag, would it be unfair to describe your rules as a "tank skirmish game"?


Wolfhag13 Mar 2020 5:33 p.m. PST

Sometimes it's hard to pin down definitions. Right now I'm working to finish the tank, anti-tank gun, hand-held infantry anti-tank weapons rules. Next is infantry and artillery that we have outlined so it will be combined arms.

In the book "Attrition", chapter "Hierarchy of Combat", DePuy describes an "Action" as a single combat encounter between two forces, neither larger than a battalion or smaller than a squad, in which each side has a tactical objective, which begins when the attacker initiates action against the defender. An action lasts for a few minutes or a few hours but never more than a day. It is normally part of an engagement or battle lasting that last 1+ days.

That fits the game best.

The dictionary defines a skirmish as a fight between small groups of soldiers, especially one that happens away from the main part of a battle. Personally I'd define recon units as skirmishers like in ancient battles as they don't normally take part in the main action. Since the scale is vehicles/guns 1:1 and infantry squad/team I guess it could fit the skirmisher definition but I don't know if a battalion-size battle could be considered a skirmish.

We play larger reinforced company or battalion size battles fought on a 6x12 foot table with 1" = 25m for a size 1800m x 3600m. I've found micro to 15mm works best. We have played 28mm tank and infantry with a 6x12 foot table representing 250m x 500m. That would qualify as a skirmish.

represented about 30 seconds of actual firing time but about 5 minutes in overall clock time to allow for the typical command/control/communication/confusion components of the battlefield.

I can't really argue with that. Most of our games are over in 3-5 minutes of game time (not real-time of course). However, when a LOS no longer exists between opponents we go into what I call "Time Compression". Player's plot their movement and then we do movement in 5-15 second increments until a mutual LOS exists and we go back to the 1-second timing.

Player's can have a recon unit spot an enemy location, pull back out of LOS and then call in and wait for artillery to come in up to a few minutes of game time later but taking no more than a couple of minutes real time. The same goes for pulling back and waiting for reinforcements to arrive.


Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2020 10:09 p.m. PST

30 seconds of actual firing time but about 5 minutes in overall clock time to allow for the typical command/control/communication/confusion components of the battlefield.

Do you know where Baker got that 'typical CCC component of 5 minutes? Or is that just a WAG?

Wolfhag, would it be unfair to describe your rules as a "tank skirmish game"?

Without answering for Wolfie, the last game I played with Wolfhag involved several dozen individual tanks, but based on the scale of most game systems labeled 'skirmish' with figures equaling 1 man, I'd say yes.

Simo Hayha16 Mar 2020 11:28 p.m. PST

Your game is so detailed that I believe you should just play a video game. (recommend hell let loose). While there are players that could play a game like this many would be too slow and bog down the game. I'm aiming for 2 minute turn segments in my game.

Also battleground WWII has very short game turns. Their card activation works okay.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2020 8:01 a.m. PST

Your game is so detailed that I believe you should just play a video game.

As someone who has played it, don't confuse the information that went into the game and is incorporated in play with how easily it plays or how quickly.

Wolfhag19 Mar 2020 8:16 a.m. PST

Thanks McLaddie.

While there are players that could play a game like this many would be too slow and bog down the game.

This is a very typical reaction when one second turns is mentioned. I think we are all conditioned to think that more detail means more of a pain in the butt to play. I used to think the same thing.

Ask yourself: Can a game play more quickly with more action when you don't need unit activations, initiative determination, separate move/shoot sequences, orders phase, turn interrupts, opportunity fire rules, overwatch restrictions, command points and a host of other abstractions that attempt to parse the action in a believable manner?

Using the OODA Decision Loop eliminates all of those rules because the action between all units is based on how quickly a crew can execute an order with better crews normally being quicker. All units are executing the actions based on their timing through their loop with no additional game rules. It actually plays quicker because it only takes the player 5-10 seconds to determine what future time he'll execute his next action and does not hold up other players. It's also an excellent way to play a game solitaire.

Here is an explanation of the OODA Loop used in the game:

So rather than the game bogging down with a number of rules determining the sequence of how and when units are going to move and shoot, the clock is ticking (manually advanced second-to-second by a player or GM) until the next unit has an action to execute. It keeps "ticking" and does not stop until it gets to a time for another unit to execute its order. You'd think the game would bog down but there is actually more shooting and moving action that keeps players in action more than being a spectator while you wait for your turn to move/shoot all of your units or activate individual ones.

In the game, immediately after shooting before the game ticks to the next second, the player observes the new situation, evaluates the threats, his options and tactics, decides on an action and determines how long (seconds) it will take and waits for the clock to tick to that future time. He executes the action (Act in the loop) and then does it over again. That's what we call "Playing the Loop". It's not a rule, it's exactly the sequence a player is going through in his mind to make a decision. You don't need to teach it.

The game is a variation of IGYG but I go before you go for a variety of reasons (better crews, a faster rate of fire, surprise, tactical advantage, better tactics, etc) that make me quicker than you. You don't need to use seconds but I think it works best to portray 1:1 actions. Five or ten-second time increments could work but then you'll need some rules to determine the sequence of the shooting if multiple units are shooting within that time. I've found in the 1:1 games one-second timing works best without needing additional rules. Larger platoon and company-sized units would use larger units of time (maybe 30-90 seconds) and different tactical factors would come into play.


Simo Hayha19 Mar 2020 5:16 p.m. PST

I find some players take a long time making decisions and more decisions equals more time. I will try and think of some way of using it in longer turns – getting more troops on table.

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