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"THE RENAISSANCE OF HISTORICAL WARGAMING" Topic


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Analsim15 Aug 2021 3:56 p.m. PST

My fellow Wargamers,

Today is Napoleon's 252nd Birthday!

A fitting reason and appropriate historical starting point to start this "Renaissance of Historical Wargaming project".

Like the vast majority of you on this TMP website, I've been interested in military history and wargaming for several decades. From the very beginning, I've been fascinated by the thought of portraying and participating in recreations of historical battles, with the motive of better understanding 'cause & effect' relationships and how they impacted what transpired AND,..Oh Yes!, wondering how I could assess how my handing of a given battle would stack-up against my Historical counterparts (i.e. the Wargamer's Holy Grail).

Now that I have officially retired (at the beginning of this year), I finally have the 'Time and Resources' to dedicate my full attention to completing this Renaissance of Historical Wargaming project.

The project's primary goal is to reinstate/restore 'Historical Fidelity' as the prime ingredient and input into creating a historical wargame design. The secondary goal is to provide the historical wargamer with the means to measure and assess 'his own performance' against the historical outcome of a particular battle. Sounds daunting but, it's really not that hard of a goal to achieve.

The results from this effort will be utilized in two (2) ways. The first, is a new military history book about 'quantifying & qualifying' the Napoleonic Warfare and the Napoleonic Battlefield environment. Secondly, a new set of wargame rules that capitalize and benefit from four (4) decades of research on Napoleonic Warfare. I expect that this project will take me about 1 year to complete.

Moving on to the task at hand. After floating this initial message out on the TMP website to start the ball rolling, ascertain/garner potential interest and/or support, I intend to follow up this initial message with a series of postings that will help level the playing field, between us by discussing these five (5) relevant topics areas upfront that bound this effort and have a significant impact on understanding my approach and expectations:
1) Military Science vs. Military Art
2) Professional vs. Recreational Wargame Design (i.e. the three (3) key contributing members, their perspectives and their impact/influence/shortcomings as it effects historical wargame design).
3) Historical Wargame Paradigms.
4) Historical Wargame Terminology (DOD vs. Recreational).
5) Historical Data availability & usefulness.

My purpose in including YOU in on this project is quite simple. One, I enjoy discussing historical wargaming. Secondly, I want YOUR feedback. I have little doubt that many aspect of what I am going to present is going to be new to quite a few of you. Again, let's discuss it in open forum. Don't worry, I am very thick skinned and am not afraid of your opinion(s) or any honest criticism you have to offer. Additionally, I am very interested in recruiting some Historical Wargame Play Testers for the wargame portion of my effort, that will start a month or so after the beginning of next year (2022).

Finally and most importantly, I have no ulterior motives other than a genuine desire to give something back to the Historical Wargaming Hobby that we all love!

Regards,…James (AKA: Analsim)

14Bore15 Aug 2021 4:40 p.m. PST

Well first off want to congratulate you for 1st retirement 2nd not to stop doing work and hopefully something you will find rewarding.
I do only play Napoleonics, use historical formation and units but ends there due to playing solo and not a Frenchman figure in the house.

Thresher0115 Aug 2021 7:04 p.m. PST

Napoleonics without the French???

Heretic!!! LOL

SHaT198415 Aug 2021 10:30 p.m. PST

First thing I'd do is change your name.
Life would have to improve after that____

pfmodel16 Aug 2021 1:08 a.m. PST

I must admit gravitating towards historical gaming rather than a points based ad-hoc figure gaming. Philip Sabin has done a reasonable job in creating rules and scenario for ancients battles and based on my investigating of this I have been slowly converting SPI Napoleonic board games into a figure gaming format. As board gaming tends to be primarily focused on recreating historical battles it's an easy start point.

If your objective is to do for Napoleonic's what Philip Sabin has done with ancients, then your project is most certainly worthy and I would be interested in the end product. To get an idea what I mean check out Philip Sabin's Book, Lost Battles, and his board game. There is an IO:group site, groups.io/g/LostBattles, which also covers figure gaming using his board game rules.

This is a review of his rules used for in a figure game format. Its pretty simple, but his historical analysis in the book is more interesting. youtu.be/CsEjtb8HfPk

ConnaughtRanger16 Aug 2021 1:53 a.m. PST

To plagiarize what someone might have said about Mark Twain – the reports of the death of Historical Wargaming are greatly exaggerated. Really not sure a Renaissance – particularly this sort of psuedo-scientific one – is needed?

LaserGrenadier Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2021 3:22 a.m. PST

The mind boggles . . . I wish you the very best in this quest. I have been writing, and rewriting, wargame rules since the late 1960's. During this period I earned a Master's and PhD in military history. I have explored the extremes of "realism" and playability, but my real interest was in understanding "how it really was" in battle, whether the period was the FIW, FPW or WW2. I have created rules that I am very satisfied with, but I know from experience that the first urge of another wargamer would be to want to make changes.

Cdr Luppo16 Aug 2021 4:17 a.m. PST

Hi James,

good luck with your project ! point n°1 is interesting : so what's the difference between an Evolution and a Maneuver ?!
; )

best regards

David Manley16 Aug 2021 5:10 a.m. PST

"The project's primary goal is to reinstate/restore 'Historical Fidelity' as the prime ingredient and input into creating a historical wargame design."

I'm interested to know why you think it needs reinstating. Is that not already a prime ingredient for many wargames?

Not a criticism, an honest question.

Blasted Brains16 Aug 2021 6:28 a.m. PST

While I'd love to see more folk, especially younger folk, playing 'historical miniatures games', I know my first and foremost goal is to have fun, not some serious recreation of history. Yeah, history is the start point but this seems to be a perilous arrow pointing to a return to the eighties when historical gaming went wrong by trying to become 'serious' and thus really unplayable.

I'll opt out and stick with seeking fun games with history as the backdrop. Historical gamer exclusively for knocking on 40 years actively and add 15 years inactively prior to that.

rustymusket16 Aug 2021 7:42 a.m. PST

I will follow with interest. Thanks!

jwebster Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2021 8:50 a.m. PST

fun games with history as the backdrop
(Blasted Brains)

Realistically – this is the best we can achieve in wargaming

For instance – we have access to hundreds of orders of battle based on contemporary records, but this gives no clue to the state of the units when they arrived on the battlefield, morale, training, tiredness etc. which is at least as significant as the numbers

However, I do see that many rules simply don't crunch the numbers available to them


  • Probabilities created by dice/card mechanisms
  • Relationship between unit frontages, shooting distances and movement

I do sympathize with you. There are almost as many sets of Napoleonic rules as there are gamers and seemingly more opinions than there are gamers. Most people agree that all rule sets are flawed, except the set that they are currently writing, which might get finished soon. I don't think I'm exaggerating, and I certainly include myself in this group.

At a high level, what I struggle with is this – in most periods of warfare, technological change drives tactical changes, however if you compare Napoleonic warfare to previous 18th century wars, the muskets didn't change, but the pace and dynamism of the battlefield was very different, driven initially by the French and later adopted by other armies
Most rule sets do a great job with the "linear" tactics of the 18th century but don't really produce anything "revolutionary" that would distinguish a Napoleonic battle from an earlier one

Most of the "tactical guides" I have seen are regurgitations of drill manuals. This is interesting to a point, but doesn't necessarily help solve the problems I described above

If you do find the Holy Grail, I promise I will drink deeply from it

John

Blutarski16 Aug 2021 6:17 p.m. PST

This should elicit some interesting "cut and thrust". I will keep a close eye on the coming proceedings.

B

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP16 Aug 2021 11:14 p.m. PST

"…the eighties when historical gaming went wrong by trying to become 'serious'…"

You can do "serious" history without complicated detailed rules. I play the easiest rules I can find that are fun and engaging. The "serious" and for me the fun part is researching scenarios and to model the period as closely as I can. Curating the buildings, terrain and of course figures and uniforms.

Analsim17 Aug 2021 12:56 p.m. PST

TMP Members,

Thanks for all your comments.

Those five (5) relevant topics I listed above in the initial message are important to this discussion because they serve to bound the Historical Wargame problem area.

If we're going to ultimately discuss and evaluate 'Historical Wargaming', we're going to need to have a common framework and acceptable/consistent terminology.

Spoiler Alert!

By the time we are finished with this first round of discussions, we're going to have a legitimate, working hypothesis, premise and description of what a 'Historical Wargame' actually is, that will stand up to Recreational-Professional-DOD levels of scrutiny and criticism.

I can make this outlandish claim because I worked 30 years in the DOD M&S and Weapons RDT&E communities and have had to check the 'legitimate block' pertaining to Simulations & Analysis at least a half-a-dozen times.

Secondly, and allot closer to home (i.e. TMP Wargamimg), I expect that this notion of historical fidelity is not going to be very popular with many of the Recreational Wargame Design community that play loose with their claims, because a discussion such as this poses a threat to all those casual wargame designers, that do not want to be held up to public accountability and/or any credible historical scrutiny. Not my problem. I am the customer, and I want to know what the historical ingredients are before I buy it.

This is also why I chose the first topic area, "Military Science vs. Military Art" to lead off this discussion.

It's a forcing function that requires YOU to see 'The Elephant' for the first time and commit to a position as to the nature and substance of these two (2) terms 'Science & Art' and their application and their limits/boundaries.

So, let's just get started with discussing it, I'm sure you'll quickly grasp the significance once you've had the opportunity to see things in motion.

The debate 'Military Science vs. Military Art' is not a new idea or issue. Its been around for at least two (2) centuries now.

Here's several examples of what Military/Civilian thinkers have said about this topic, in order to provide some context and to aid you in formulating your own opinion.

BACKGROUND INFO
The difference between theoretical reflection and practical application of the results of the reflection is traditionally conveyed by the terms ‘science' and ‘art'.

Originally, the ‘Arts' subjects were thus ones that implied practical skills, like the ability to speak a language, or to paint a picture (‘fine art'). The equivalent German word, Kunst, was related to Können,
the ability to do something.

The French and English word ‘science', by contrast, originally implied abstract knowledge and reflection upon a subject, the theory (as opposed to the practice of art). It is derived from the Latin 'scientia', knowledge or wisdom, and has its equivalent in the German
Wissenschaft. Abstract logic, mathematics, theoretical reflections upon the laws of nature were all sciences, and stood in clear contrast to applied subjects (i.e. arts) such as engineering, founding cannon, building fortifications, or indeed, organizing for and waging
war, the skills expected from a general.

Henri Baron de Jomini, the foremost and first great analyst of Napoleonic warfare, first published his definitions on the subject in 1805 and defined strategy as:
"the art of making war upon the map, and comprehends the whole theater of operations. Grand Tactics is the art of posting troops upon the battlefield according to the accidents of the ground, or bringing them into action, and the art of fighting upon the ground in contradistinction to planning upon a map."

Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840–1914), writing at the end of the nineteenth century, provided perhaps the most elaborate defense of the concept that warfare should be seen as an art. He followed Jomini in many respects, and picked up in particular on the Jominian argument about strategy as an art, not a science:

"Science is sure of nothing until it is proved … it aims at absolute certainties, — dogmas, — towards which, through numerous experiments, it keeps moving. Its truths, once established, are fixed, rigid, unbending, and the relation between cause and effect are rather
laws than principles; hard lines incapable of change, rather than living seeds. Science discovers and teaches truths which it has no power to change; Art, out of materials which it finds about it, creates new forms
in endless variety. It is not bound down to a mechanical reproduction of similar effects, as is inanimate nature, but partakes of the freedom of the human mind in which it has its root. Art acknowledges principles and even rules; but these are not so much fetters, or bars, which compel
its movements aright, as guides which warn when it is going wrong. In this living sense, the conduct of war is an art, having its spring in the mind of man, dealing with very various circumstances, admitting certain principles; but, beyond that, manifold in its manifestations, according to the genius of the artist and the temper of the materials with which he is dealing. To such an effort dogmatic prescription is unsuited; the best of rules, when applied to it, cannot be rigid, but
must have that free play which distinguishes a principle from a mere rule."

French General Jean Colin tackled the subject in his Transformations of War of 1911. To him, war was the object both of a science and an art. Science,
he wrote,
"Science ‘seeks laws, identifies and classifies facts; art chooses, combines and produces'. There is a science of war which studies the means of action and the
elements of war, analyses the events of past wars, compares them, and draws conclusions about the relations of cause and effect, sometimes succeeding in establishing general laws. Art, more or less using the results produced by science, at the moment of action
chooses the procedures that seem suitable to diverse particular cases. [Art] is the application to action of the actor's natural gifts and of assimilated knowledge. Depending on each individual instance, the
latter will play a more or less important role. Science finds in art a more or less direct application … sometimes art can do without science, sometimes it is reduced to the [pure] application of scientific findings.

Sir Julian Corbett (1854–1922) commented on the art–science debate:
"The classical strategists insist again and again on the danger of seeking from [their so-called science] what it cannot give. They even repudiate the very name of ‘Science'. They prefer the older term ‘Art'. They will permit no laws or rules. Such laws, they say, can only
mislead in practice, for the friction to which they are subject from the incalculable human factors alone is such that the friction is stronger than the law."

Finally, It is a testimony to the genius of the Prussian philosopher-general Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831) that he overcame this confusion of terminology and these semantic quarrels by cutting the Gordian knot. In his great On War, Clausewitz simply concluded that neither
term was satisfactory, speaking out against this separation between arts and sciences:
"No matter how obvious and palpable the difference
between knowledge [science] and ability [art] may be … it is still extremely difficult to separate them entirely in the individual … [I]f it is impossible to imagine a human being capable of perception but not of judgment or vice versa, it is likewise impossible to separate art and
knowledge altogether.' He conceded, creation and production lie in the realm of art; science will dominate
where the object is inquiry and knowledge. It follows that the term ‘art of war' is more suitable than ‘science of war' … But we must go on to say that strictly speaking war is neither an art nor a science …'War' … is part of man's social existence. War is a clash between
major interests, which is resolved by bloodshed — that is the only way in which it differs from other conflicts. Rather than comparing it to art we could more accurately compare it to commerce, which is also a conflict of human interests and activities, and it is still closer to politics, which in turn may be considered as a kind of commerce on a larger scale. Politics, moreover, is the womb in which war develops."

*** End of Quotes (You are free to add your own) ***

Like me, you may find these descriptions of Bachelor of Science & Art Degrees very helpful in establishing what bin a certain item should fall into (i.e. Art or Science)

Bachelor of Science (BS) degree are generally more strictly focused on their subject matter, requiring more credits that are directly linked to the major. Students are expected to concentrate their academic energies on mastering the technical and practical facets of their field. They have fewer opportunities to explore topics outside of the subject of their major. Bachelor of Science degrees are usually offered in technical and scientific areas like computer science, nursing, mathematics, biochemistry, and physics.

Bachelor of the Arts (BA) degree program provides students with a more expansive education, requiring fewer credits that are directly linked to a particular major. Instead, students are expected to earn credits in a variety of liberal arts subjects. Courses in the humanities, English, the social sciences, and a foreign language are typically part of this degree program. Students can pick and choose from a broad array of courses to fulfill these requirements, allowing them greater flexibility to customize their education to match their individual goals and interests. Bachelor of Arts degrees are commonly offered in fields like English, art, music, modern languages and communication.

My own Opinion and Bottomline:
- "Military Science" covers real items that have form, fit and function that tend to lend themselves to quantification. It's more Objective in nature.
- "Military Art" covers the human application of military concepts and commodities. It's more Subjective in nature.

Finally, the intent here is to eventually evaluate and classify military factors such as Leadership, Firepower, Maneuver, Logistics and Situational Awareness (SA) as either a candidate for Military Art or Military Science.

Regards,

James

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Aug 2021 1:12 p.m. PST

WOWIE !!!
I just likes little toy Army mans.

Cdr Luppo17 Aug 2021 1:53 p.m. PST

Hi James, thanks for your post.

if anything else, here's the link to Commandant Jean COLIN book : "The Transformations of War", free at archive.org

link

best regards

SHaT198417 Aug 2021 2:52 p.m. PST

I've promoted gaming rationally and historically based and had to defend two clubs several decades ago against accusations of nazism and closet 'influencing' (to no less than 'proving' this to our nationl braodcaster).

So for more than a decade I'd helped run and promote clubs, and the hobby as part science; part history, part skill learning and just fun to parents and nay-sayers who were themselves anti- 'influenced' by watching the debacle of the Vietnam War on tv.

The average game can include as much or as little as the player knows- whether using "Charge.." or a computer game. The thing is table-top games do not need the complexity of computer games, nor even board games, to be enjoyable.

Adding rules and 'science' does just that. Leave it to the university kids to sort that out.

And BTW, some of those youths whom I referenced above and mentored in clubs have better jobs, incomes and education than me, but 40 years later we are still 'friends' and gather for the ocassional round and, well round.

I wouldn't buy the book, but good luck.
cheers d

Jcfrog18 Aug 2021 3:23 a.m. PST

As long as you don't have "factions"…

arthur181518 Aug 2021 7:18 a.m. PST

Cdr Luppo, thank you for posting the link to the Colin book.

For myself, I think I'll stick to playing toy soldier wargames like Charge! – rules that are easily understood and learned, and a game that is simple and fun to play.

4th Cuirassier18 Aug 2021 7:35 a.m. PST

You're overthinking it, for my money.

Where do the miniature figures come into it?

Blutarski18 Aug 2021 12:01 p.m. PST

Old Contemptible wrote -
"You can do "serious" history without complicated detailed rules. I play the easiest rules I can find that are fun and engaging. The "serious" and for me the fun part is researching scenarios and to model the period as closely as I can."

My experience confirms the commentary of OC, provided that the "fun and engaging" rules retain some semblance of reality/verisimilitude (pick the term of your preference). Both a well-designed scenario and a well run campaign will do wonders, as will mature gaming colleagues.

Strictly my opinion, of course.

B

Wolfhag18 Aug 2021 12:29 p.m. PST

Explain the difference between 1) Military Science vs. Military Art

4) Historical Wargame Terminology (DOD vs. Recreational).

Will you be able to eliminate non-military rules like unit activation, initiative determination, IGYG move/shoot, etc?

Thanks,
Wolfhag

Lieutenant Lockwood18 Aug 2021 2:26 p.m. PST

My dear Analsim… My congratulations on your new project. I am thoroughly impressed by your experience and academic credentials, and while my own pale in comparison, I would very much enjoy an opportunity to discuss pertinent issues as they arise.
I, too, believe that a playable simulation is possible, and the intricacies of combat can be modeled with accuracy through that ever-elusive blend of art and science.
Please let me know how I might be of any assistance. Best regards…Mark Bois

pfmodel18 Aug 2021 3:38 p.m. PST

Art and Science, or Deterministic or Pattern seeking decision making, described in another manner, is an interesting grouping. Science attempts to arrive at a deterministic solution, which is laudable but for complex models impossible. Medicine is a classic example. Art seeks to achieve the same through pattern seeking or in medicine in a probabilistic manner. 10 people had following symptoms, 9 had ended up having a specific disease and outcome, thus these symptoms equals this disease, for the most part. As Clausewitz stated in terms of warfare, the two cannot be separated because you need both. Warfare throws up new situation which require pattern seeking to solve, yet in many cases the situation has been seen before which allows for a deterministic solution and knowledge.

You can see this when learning a new board game, the first time you play it requires "gut feel", subsequence times uses a deterministic method as you know if you do that, it will fail in most cases, thus you do not do it. I suppose a great commander uses art more than science, unless the warfare is never changing.

However, as Philip Sabin determined when he studied ancient battles, its impossible to arrive at a deterministic solution to a military situation, you need to wing it. IN his cases this was due to a lack of data, but in Napoleonic the vast amount of data available does not make it any simpler. It possibly makes it more difficult as we can delude ourselves we can arrive at a deterministic model. Troop number x training x condition = result will never be achievable.

Sabin started with the result and asked himself what was required to achieve that result using the simplest possible model, this works although may be a bit bland for most gamers. Thus you will achieve more if you focus on the simplest possible game system, thus increasing "player" decision making influences as much as possible. You then model the battle by following the historic decision and confirm if the result is the same.

ConnaughtRanger18 Aug 2021 4:11 p.m. PST

Seems to something of a transatlantic split developing here. It's certainly the antithesis of everything I enjoy about the hobby.

pfmodel18 Aug 2021 4:33 p.m. PST

Unless you are a scholar, I would always go with the simple and fun game. As long as I get a chance to bring out my Prussian Fusiliers, or Austrian Grenze, have a quick and fun game and I can take some pictures, I am happy.

Wolfhag18 Aug 2021 11:31 p.m. PST

Military Science vs. Military Art

So Military Science would be stuff out of the manuals. Military Art would be gut feelings attempting to derive the enemies intention, filter intel reports, motivation and leadership, and cut through the Fog of War?

I've run games using real military jargon and nomenclature. It's a steep learning curve for most players but players with hands-on experience like it.

Based on what games are selling the most, there needs to be some new type of play aid or rule or dice mechanic to captures peoples interest. I check out KS to see what's getting the most attention and why.

Good luck,
Wolfhag

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP19 Aug 2021 4:26 a.m. PST

Hi James,

I applaud your emphasis on historical fidelity, but aren't your primary and secondary goals the wrong way round? What is your actual mission – isn't it to create a new set of wargame rules incorporating those goals?

If so, do you have any practical parameters in mind? For instance, my mission for BBB was to enable historical battles to be recreated in their entirety on a 6'x4' table and playable to conclusion by four players in a typical 3- or 4-hour Monday evening club session. Is your aim similar, or – if historical fidelity requires it – might we be looking at games for 17 players lasting 17 hours on a 17' table? Maybe a $100 USD million DOD-type computer-supported simulation?

I'm teasing and exaggerating, of course. But I am curious to know more about what you are actually hoping to achieve, as it's not clear to me from your OP.

Chris

Bloody Big BATTLES!
groups.io/g/bloodybigbattles

Analsim19 Aug 2021 9:45 a.m. PST

To all TMP posters (as of 19 August),
REF: Your latest messages above.

The present discussion only covers the first part of my Historical Wargaming project & effort.

Here's what else I intend to bring into this historical wargame design discussion, which I think will help me expand your own knowledge and perhaps?,.. influence you to change your perceptions and opinions about the utility, significance and value of historical wargaming.

1. Authoritative Documentation.
I have read and have expert knowledge of over four hundred (400) US Army & DOD professional reports, studies and analysis covering and quantifying a host of factors that shape and influence the historical battlefield environment. Among them documents I have reports quantifying Tactical Observation (from 0-2,500 yards), European LOS, Probability of Detection, Timelines, Effects of Smoke, Dust and Weather upon Observation, Engagement Ranges, Weapon System Performance, Unit Cohesion, Morale and Measuring Situational Awareness (SA) as just a few of the topics that would be relevant to any discussion of Historical Wargaming.

2. Historical Database.
I've compiled and classified over 500+ Napoleonic engagements from 1800-1811, in terms of Leadership, Force Ratios, terrain, tactical outcomes (i.e. results & retreats), identified in many of the reports that I allud to above. I'll be starting the remaining portion this effort that covers the 1812-1815 portion of Napoleonic Warfare, at the end of September 2022.

OK, It's time for another BIG, "So what!"

The major significance of these two (2) items above, is that the first one told me what and how to determine and look for the measures of performance (MOP) and measures of effectiveness (MOE) that I used to collect the data that will provide me with the basis for developing a truly Historical Napoleonic Wargame system.

So, let me throw you a 'Historical Bone' that will provide you with an example and help me to make my case.

Let's consider the wargame design task of quantifying "the individual 'historical capabilities' of Napoleonic leaders" at the Brigade, Division, Corps and Army Commanders.

Thanks to statistical analysis software packages such as Minitab 19, I can provide YOU with an Historically Accurate Leadership 'Player Baseball Card' that quantifies each Napoleonic Leader's probability of successfully winning an engagement, by year, by Campaign and/or throughout his Napoleonic career, at the Brigade, Division and Corps levels.

I can even provide you with an assessment of "What this Historical Leaders actual combat effectiveness (CE) was by level of Command and at several different Force Ratio levels (i.e. 1-1, 2-1 and 3-1 and etc.).

As an example of the Historical Wargame benefits this project can provide. Let's take a hypothetical look at French GdB Lochet's Brigade Command 'Leadership' Performance.

Overall historically, GdB Lochet had a 47% chance of winning a 1st round French Brigade level Attack engagement, at 1-2 Odds, against defending Austrian Infantry, during the 1805 Austrian Campaign.

Now, let's go back and reconcile/reconsider GdB Lochet's Leadership capabilities by considering the numerous factors and constraints GdB Lochet had to contend with relating to just the Napoleonic battlefield environment he was part of.

1) What was his present Situational Awareness Level?
2) Was he under Orders that provided him with the Authority to act?
3) Could he see the Enemy Unit(s) he wished to Attack?
4) Could he Organize the Combat Units in sufficient Time & Space to enable him to perform this attack?
5) Where will he place himself to effectively Lead and Coordinate this Attack?
6) What about supporting Artillery?

I might add that, 'these items listed above' are just a few of the issues that You will be forced to contend with in a wargame based upon historical factors such as what I expressed above.

I interested in "Modeling You" on the Napoleonic Battlefield, using physical and historical data and realities. Not gimmicks, mechanics, cards and nebulous terms and game procedures.

There's a whole lot more to this effort, that falls along the same lines as what I outlined to you, briefly above.

I am only one person and it will take me a few more months to dot all the 'i' and cross all the 't' details that will be embedded in the overarching wargame system.

Regardless, I am convinced and confident that I am going to be able to make Good on these claims. Like attempting to eat any historical Elephant, it's going to have to be eaten in small bites, over a considerable amount of time.

But, as I mentioned before, now that I am Retired, I have Lots of Time to pursue this task!

Regards,

James

Nine pound round19 Aug 2021 10:24 a.m. PST

But can you tell us how long they'll be able to offer effective resistance for?

Asking for a friend-

HMS Exeter20 Aug 2021 1:10 a.m. PST

Suffering from insomnia at 3am, I decided to revisit your 2 cross connected threads for therapeutic reasons.

FIRST – I must agree with SHaT that you would benefit from a handle change. My brain confabulated it to "Analism" which, given the nature if this thread, is well…

SECOND – My dear late mother would likely suggest "you'll get more flies with honey than vinegar." While not explicitly stated, there is an implied inference that all existing game rules must be suspect unless penned by experts or academicians. It would be helpful if you could point to existing rules sets which you feel comfortable suggesting as meeting the proposed scholarly standards.

I was always surprised how really well rendered the SPI games were. These ran from the vivid, yet simplistic, Bloody April, to the immersive, yet unplayable, Campaign for North Africa.

Scotty Bowden is renowned/infamous for creating some of the most comprehensively detailed rules sets, including Stars and Bars and Empire I,II,III,IV,EMPIRE and Empire 2021. There is a tall tale that he paid to have a Napoleonic Austrian 6 pounder fired at various elevations to guage its' range. Have you had a chance to assess the merits of his efforts?

THIRD – To be sure, any concerted effort to improve the quality of information and interpretation underpinning an historical game's rules set is commendable. I am afraid, however, that the end result will be a morass of data, confounded by myriad intangibles, which will leave you where every other game designer has ended up, parked at a desk, rubbing your forehead, on the verge of trying to fudge it all into some kind of usable structure.

FOURTH – If your desire is to lead us all out onto the green uplands of better rules, it is essential that you present a sufficiently compelling case to induce us to follow. Your end product must serve the dual purpose of academic excellence and elegant playability. If you put yourself through all this, but the gaming community does not follow, you'll have generated the basis for a world class series of Ospreys, and we'll still be playing what we are now.

Let's be clear. It seems you are setting yourself the task of developing the last, the final, definitive, all encompassing Napoleonic Rules set.

For my part, I admire your ambition, but I have to wonder, are there no shorter windmills you'd like to tilt?

What do I know? I'm just the bozo who can't sleep.

pfmodel20 Aug 2021 4:15 a.m. PST

For my part, I admire your ambition, but I have to wonder, are there no shorter windmills you'd like to tilt?

I tend to concur, I attempted many different ways of getting a playable and accurate set of Napoleonic's rules. BBNB and Age of eagles can give me a reasonable accurate historical game, there may be other rules but I have not found any myself yet. My other path is the convert SPI Board games into a figure gaming format, which has worked rather well. I have converted all 14 SPI battles and they all play in a similar manner to the board game, which means they duplicate history even if they resort to fudgy special rules.

This outlines an early game I had, in this case reproducing the Battle of Marengo. My current project is Leipzig as I can create 3 scenarios from a single playing area. When I complete a few games I may create a video of it. The link to the scenarios can be found in the Kriegsspiel IOGroup site. groups.io/g/Kriegsspiel Just select files, Napoleonic's and NAW v1.

Garth in the Park20 Aug 2021 7:15 a.m. PST

It's certainly the antithesis of everything I enjoy about the hobby.

Personally, I freakin LOVE this stuff. I haven't laughed this hard in years.

Napoleonics (and historical gaming in general) has for too long settled comfortably into the slump of playable, comprehensible rules that offer a pleasant gaming experience for a few hours. Whatever happened to the attempt to make everything insanely detailed, complicated, and preposterously obsessed with historical microdata?

I'd thought those glorious days were long gone, then along comes this beauty:

Overall historically, GdB Lochet had a 47% chance of winning a 1st round French Brigade level Attack engagement, at 1-2 Odds, against defending Austrian Infantry, during the 1805 Austrian Campaign.

I'm sure the author was just sparing us the excessive detail, but he neglected to add that Lochet has only a 42.8% chance of winning a second-round Brigade-level Attack engagement at 3-2 odds, against defending Piedmontese infantry, in hilly ground (assuming the hills aren't – on average – more than 17% inclined on their eastern-facing slopes, in which case it goes down to 39%).

If his Brigade attaches an extra battalion of Swiss infantry (assuming they weren't conscripted on a Wednesday), Lochet's chances go up by 3% in first-round engagements but not second- or third-round, unless the Swiss are in the second rank of the formation and haven't deployed skirmishers, in which case Lochet's chances go up by only 2%… assuming his brigade isn't placed on the Left (up to 60 yards' separation within a 45-degree arc of the left-most battalion from) Gen de Brigade Painneau's brigade, because Lochet and Painneau hated each other due to a duel over a woman in 1801. (This rule only applies until 1807, when they reconciled.)

Now THAT'S Napoleonics! At last, somebody who gets it!

John the OFM22 Aug 2021 3:20 p.m. PST

Carry the torch, Garth.
Carry the torch.

Scott Sutherland26 Aug 2021 12:12 p.m. PST

This looks quite interesting but I'm not sure the process you are following is correct.

Firstly is there even a need for a "new" set of rules as there is already a field-tested set? Namely the 1824 Kriegspieel. The only rules designed, tested and revised by the actual soldiers who fought in these wars for the express purpose of introducing newbies to the reality of what they should expect in reality. Refine this rather than invesnt a new wheel.

I'm not sure you have the correct models for example you noted above "…GdB Lochet had a 47% chance of winning a 1st round French Brigade level Attack engagement, at 1-2 Odds, against defending Austrian Infantry, during the 1805 Austrian Campaign".

This is actually incorrect, if the model works you should have the data to tell that given we have correctly measured all the external factors he has possibly a 1% to 99% per cent of winning the situation in a particular game. The concept of a 'standardised' performance for any commander is flawed as it gives them a chance of success without regard to the actual odds of success in the situation in the game.

There is already a model which the US military compiled. With around a 0.7 correlation to historical events for c1700 to c1865. I last engaged with some US officers just before 9-11. The outcome of this was that the general was of little relevance. Even a Napoleon, Davout, Lee, Grant or Sherman seem to have minimal impact at the level of a brigade's performance.

Rather – at the moment of the attack, factors like the following were more important
- What was the brigade battalion commanders competence over the previous 20 years and how did that influence junior officer and NCO training and how this impacted unit esprit,
- what was the food (especially hot meals), sleeping conditions (ie wet or dry), pay situation over the previous two weeks,
- what was the food (especially hot meals), sleep (ie wet or dry), pay situation over the immediately preceding 24 hours,
- what happened to adjacent units within the previous hour (ie artillery casualties etc)
- what happened to own company within previous hour (ie artillery casualties etc)


I cannot remember all of the precise details, but these types of factors were more important predictors than if Napoleon, Murat, Davout or Ney was nearby.

Good Luck
Scott

UshCha26 Aug 2021 1:22 p.m. PST

I think the aim is a praise worthy one. Like my rules it will never make money as its not where the popularity is. War gamer's generally seem adverse to doing too much thinking as they do not consider that fun, however to a few of us, games that require no effort have no fun. Even cycling for fun needs some effort and academic work with maps to get to a standard that gives fun returns.

I must say the definitions to me were a bit too academic for a mere Degree level engineer.

I would go for the LEGO interpretation. The science is the bricks. You cant make anything without the bricks. What you build is art based on the Bricks of science.

In my similar decades of war gaming the most horrifying revelation was just how much of a "standard" war game is really utter rubbish and in many cases has no logical justification. "We have always done it this way is the cry|" even if its stupid.

One commercially successful author an writing rules stated Infantry must move 6" and Cavalry 12" HOW STUPID IS THAT ONE SPEED? Clearly the guy never walked or looked out of his window. That may be an issue with some of your audience.

In WW2 you read of places being taken and retaken over the course of a day. This never happens in a conventional game. Reserves never make it to where they are needed. It does not need too much science or art or rules to get close it just needs the designer to actually check even cursorily if the rules are sensible. How many sets have stupid effects as the rule writer clearly never tested the simple model thoroughly.

My personal opinion is its not that hard to get close to the truth provided you build it from simple scientific bricks and leave the rest to the player as your "art".

pfmodel26 Aug 2021 2:14 p.m. PST

In my similar decades of war gaming the most horrifying revelation was just how much of a "standard" war game is really utter rubbish and in many cases has no logical justification.

Very true. I tend to be more of a historian than a gamer, although I must admit I still need a good game which can be completed with a clear victor in a reasonable time frame. I expect this is why most of my gaming is board games, which tend to focus on the history and can be played within 2-6 hours. When I got into figure gaming I was always perplexed why what I read never seemed to be reflected on the playing area. I really noticed this with Napoleonic warfare, but WW2 figure gaming also had this issue.

Then I discovered corps commander, by Bruce Rea Taylor. These rules are not perfect, close assault is problematic, but once you actually learn and understand the rules I learned more about regimental cold war or ww2 combat than any history book I read. After I discovered something new I would go back to the historical sources and I did find solid evidence for this actually occurring, but as the historian was not someone with combat experience the emphasis was not high and I did not earlier notice it.

Of course the issue is a game of corps commander takes a lot of effort and time, with headaches and actual mental exhaustion being common after a 6 hours session. The other issue is understanding the rules fully, which took an immense effort. I love corps commander, and its ww2 version, Korps Commander, but those rules would cause a new players head to explode.

This is the conundrum, one with also exists in the world of board games. My most enjoyable games were with a simple game called Wurzburg, while NATO divisional commander, while a good game, were less enjoyable.

Personally I feel the optimal method is, pick the scale, find a historical example and duplicate that result as closely as possible with the simplest possible game system. This is basically the Prussian method of creating their kriegspiel training tool.

Gazzola26 Aug 2021 2:57 p.m. PST

What's the saying 'no plan survives first contact with the enemy' or something like that.

In this case, my feeling is that no scientific or fancy system will survive first contact with a wargamer.

When we read and study past military histories, battles and campaigns, various tactics, use of weapons, etc, etc, that's absorbing scientific information even when we might not see it as such. It is what happened and why. It is also absorbing the art of war and is why we are amazed and admire some of the events that happened and how who did what and when. But even then, we still end up questioning things like why didn't Grouchy find and stop the Prussians getting to Waterloo for example and why did this happen and that not happen? Even with the luxury of hindsight some things are still puzzling and can't be explained totally.

Things and events happened in real life (and perhaps in wargames) that were not expected to happen. I don't think the human factor in warfare can ever really be converted into a scientific system or totally accurate set of rules. However, I wish the best of luck to whoever gets into this approach to wargaming and it will certainly be interesting seeing any results that come from debate and discussion it may create. Just as long as the 'fun' element of 'playing' a wargame, as opposed to actually having a real war, is not fobbed off as not scientific or arty enough. Wargaming is not real war and never will be. I wouldn't play such games if it was.

Blutarski26 Aug 2021 3:14 p.m. PST

One factor which IMO is rather under-represented in many war-games is the morale effect produced by surprise, panic, sudden and unexpected flank/rear attacks, even fire from an unexpected source or direction.

B

Escapee Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2021 8:10 p.m. PST

Blutarski you make a great point. Much of this relates to perspective as mentioned before – we can see everything and it is hard to undo this and still have a game that you want to play.

The fog of war is very difficult to represent to the extent that it is realistic. The real ground is never flat. Vision is often obscured. There is that feeling of "where are we" and "where are they" that make troops edgy and commanders sweat.

Also movement of units is always uniform when they are glued to a thick base.

And the whole issue of scale is difficult to address. Keeping everything in scale is almost impossible except maybe for 6mm or smaller. Even then, troops are clomping around on big bases, taller than trees and could never fit in many of the doorways of our models buildings. Scale hills can take up most of the table and scale rivers look like the ocean. And then there is the issue of the passage of time as it relates to movement and distance and other stuff…So we make our best estimates and enjoy.

More game than science any way you cut it. I want the feeling of the era, but not with too many beans to count.

pfmodel26 Aug 2021 8:12 p.m. PST

More game than science any way you cut it. I want the feeling of the era, but not with too many beans to count.

Totally agree, especially for figure gaming. Its all about the bling.

Blutarski27 Aug 2021 2:08 p.m. PST

Hi Tortorella,
Leaving aside the matter of special negative modifiers for surprise, flank and rear threats, etc, I can testify from personal experience that hidden units and hidden movement all by themselves can DRAMATICALLY alter game-play – even with rule-sets as relatively simple and straightforward as "Fire & Fury" and GQ. It strikes right at the psychology of the players and can produce some situations unimaginable under typical "Eye of God" game play protocols.

B

ConnaughtRanger27 Aug 2021 2:21 p.m. PST

Perhaps this should be moved to one of the Fantasy Boards? It's not real. It will never be real. It's rather sad that some people seem to think it can be real.

Blutarski27 Aug 2021 4:42 p.m. PST

Hi Connaught,
Totally agree that miniature wargaming will never achieve a state equivalent to "the real thing". But, I think our wargaming hobby/pastime/compulsion can be nudged a bit closer in that direction. There is WAY too much corporate foolishness polluting the hobby at large today – Osprey's "Traphalgar", "Phlames of War", and GDW for example.

It is possible to gain valuable insights into the world of war, even if the experience falls far short of the reality. For example, I once participated in an ACW Wilderness Campaign, playing the role of R E Lee. My campaign documentation package consisted of a single 8.5x11 photocopy of my order of battle, a single 8.5x11 map photocopy of the principal road net, towns, rivers, major water courses and the phone number of "God" (the campaign master). The time table was one day of real time = one day of historical time. It was my obligation to contact God every day, ask for intelligence on the enemy, the ground, the weather and then issue basic orders to my command as I saw fit. God then took care of executing these orders, but you would never know the result until you spoke to him the next day. If I failed to reach "God", my command did nothing that day.

When a major contact sufficient to justify a tabletop battle occurred, the calendar clock was stopped, the battle was fought (Fire & Fury) and the results (retreats, advances, casualties) applied to update the campaign. The Confederates did well indeed in three major battles (the first a draw in the Wilderness, the second a big victory (ambush) just west of Spottsylvania that broke two Union corps and the third a crushing maneuver victory shortly thereafter that rolled up the entire Union defensive position along the Plank Road and drove them back across the Rappahannock.

The only problem was that the Confederates were receiving NO replacements or reinforcements whatsoever. Every battle, win, lose or draw, steadily sapped my army's strength while the Union army replaced its losses and kept coming back for more. I lasted three months before suffering a pseudo-breakdown from the stress.

I learned something valuable about the weight of command and wouldn't trade the experience for anything.

What am I really saying here? I don't think we need to score a perfect bulls-eye to make a useful hit upon the target we are aiming at.

FWIW.

B

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP27 Aug 2021 6:46 p.m. PST

Seems to something of a transatlantic split developing here. It's certainly the antithesis of everything I enjoy about the hobby.


Not entirely transatlantic — for my tastes, this sounds like a grim return to the dark days of Empire III. [shudder]

There are folks who enjoy that sort of thing, and they're welcome to it. But I've been in line with Connaught Ranger's opinion since the 1970s that the adherence to more charts and data and complications is only an illusion of reality that serve to make games complicated and time-consuming, but not more 'realistic'.

UshCha28 Aug 2021 2:23 a.m. PST

ConnaughtRanger a simulation IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE REAL THATS THE POINT. When you screw up nobody dies that's the point. Nobdy gets wounded (except perhaps a wounded pride but that soon mends). pfmodel has it it can aid understanding.

To me there are issues with Human factors as we have humans playing. Trust me, I have seen folk go to pices and their troops move away if confronted with the unexpected.
No tank WW2 commander goes within Panzerfaust range more than onece like the real thing he knows the losses will be unacceptable and fears woods. No need for daft moral rolls.

Poorly designed game dont allow this but good ones do.

Coimplexity and improved simulation do not always go hand in hand. Our game (to me anyway) is more simple than many classic games regards rules.

Gazzola30 Aug 2021 4:55 a.m. PST

I think the whole matter of gaining as much reality and accuracy as possible is difficult, especially when trying to convert it into rules for wargames.

For example, on paper, infantry will not attack cavalry and cavalry will not break a square of infantry. But in reality both happened. And there are lots of reasons and human factors as to why they did.

But, at the same time, I see nothing wrong with trying to make a game as 'realistic' as possible, if indeed, that is possible?

UshCha30 Aug 2021 8:35 a.m. PST

Gazzola, even a commercial simulator for aircraft will never be perfect, real life has the occasional rare event that may not have been predicted or 3 different events that may never have been considered likely to occur at the same time. simulation is by definition never 100%. Most of the time it covers the typical. Chaos theory is always going to be in play as is game theory.

Wolfhag31 Aug 2021 8:27 a.m. PST

It's a combination of the rules and visual/special effects that create the level of reality for players. Players will accept trade-offs in one or the other to simulate what is "good enough" for him.

Your level of direct experience and knowledge will automatically screen for realism. In a war movie to the novice a US Patton tank with an iron cross painted on the turret passes for realism. When I was 17 and first player the board game AH Panzer that was my level of realism and I had no real knowledge of WWII AFV warfare before then. That's changed quite a bit.

Remember when we played "Army" with the little plastic soldiers? We made up our own rules and "sound effects" on what we thought was realistic and we didn't paint any figures. We had lots of fun. We even squirted lit lighter fluid out of the can for a flame thrower. Try that on your gaming table! We had a great time without any real knowledge. Watching a 1/72 scale plastic tank burning was the ultimate in realism.

New players or ones without detailed knowledge of tactics (other than watching movies) will get a great deal of enjoyment out of a game like BA. As their experience and knowledge increases they may move on to other systems or not. For may players the visual stimuli is what counts.

In reality, low level 1:1 combat is mostly about timing and the use of tactics to "seize" the initiative to act before your opponent. Video games and military computer simulators can create a real-time immersive combat environment. Artificial and abstracted game mechanics cannot. However, they can create chess like strategies that can make the game interesting and fun. Don't discount them.

Real commanders don't get to choose the sequence his units will act nor will units act randomly even if it appears they do.

I imagine a real battlefield with each unit acting within its own OODA Loop bubble with tactics, chaos, suppression, crew expertise, FOW, limited intel, etc increasing or decreasing his time to Act once an order is given because orders are not normally executed immediately with lightening speed. In real combat seconds count. Also, there is no orders phase in real combat.

For many players their favorite IGYG, command points, unit activation's, etc rules simulates the above "good enough" and the better the visuals and special effects are on the table enforces it.

Personally, I'd be interested in how the OP is able to recreate the historical timing in the game with a minimum of artificial and abstracted rules.

Blutarski gives a good example of what a higher level commander is faced with. If you had hidden deployments and hold units off the board if they cannot be sighted by the enemy that will go a long way in creating the realistic FOG and hesitancy commanders and crews were faced with.

Unfortunately, in most games players have the same level of real time intel as a 21st century commander does with GPS, satellite and drone feeds on his and the enemy units.

Wolfhag

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