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"Taking Tech to the Table Top" Topic


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742 hits since 15 Mar 2022
©1994-2022 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP15 Mar 2022 1:35 p.m. PST

Do you or would you play a game that required a piece of modern, but common technology to play? I'm not talking about using tech to supplement or do a better job, but where the use of the tech was integral to the rules.

Tech as a supplement would be something like having the rules or reference sheets on a tablet, maybe even indexed, bookmarked, and digitally altered to focus on the parts you need for your specific game. You don't need the tablet; you could do it with paper. In some sense and cases paper might be easier, faster, better, etc. So, not that.

Three examples I do of what I am talking about:

- HVU designation. This is a simple use of a cellphone with a camera. Before the game starts, Player A takes a picture of the miniature (a figure, vehicle, whatever) that is considered their High Value Unit for the scenario. The survival or attrition of the HVU has a significant impact on Player A's victory conditions.

- Advanced Automata. This is basically programming an opponent for a solo game. I have several paper versions of automata with a few simple rules and conditions for generating orders, but at some point it becomes to clunky to execute by hand. For example, having a subtle strategy built in that would take many pages and tracking multiple variables.

- Minesweeper. Working on this AR. Player A takes a pic (in an app) then pokes the board to lay mines. The minefield is sent to Player B's app. After a move, player B centers his units in a close up view and presses his app button. The app shows mines in the view.

So, something that really cant' be done without the tech unless you want to drag the game to a halt all the time. Admittedly, I did used to do the HVU by writing serial numbers on the bottom of mini bases, then having a player write the HVU(s) on a slitp of paper…

DisasterWargamer15 Mar 2022 2:07 p.m. PST

Could really add to the fog of war – so sure

Zephyr115 Mar 2022 2:28 p.m. PST

"Do you or would you play a game that *required* a piece of modern, but common technology to play?"

Nope…

MajorB15 Mar 2022 3:48 p.m. PST

"Do you or would you play a game that *required* a piece of modern, but common technology to play?"

Nope. Too much like work …

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP15 Mar 2022 4:04 p.m. PST

In fact I will probably not play a map-based campaign again until I can get it to work on Android tablets or phones.

I've tried using GWAS games as a map campaign engine for generating battles, and the effort of managing paperwork wore me out. Heck, just playing a GWAS boardgame straight up as a 2-player game wears me out…

I would love to have a way to do the hide-and-seek phase of WWII carrier battles, but not without computers to do the grunt work.

The suggestion to use a computer for minelaying/minesweeping is an excellent one. That's another one I could use help with.

- Ix

smithsco15 Mar 2022 8:10 p.m. PST

When my group does modern or sci Fi gaming we have one side deploy all units including hidden ones. Then take a high altitude picture of the board (6-8 ft above) and send it to opposing side. Hidden units are then removed. Allows for some recon but pics aren't high enough quality to see it all.

Use a similar method for designating targets for air and artillery strikes. Take pic of board and designate target by drawing on it. When support arrives reveal target picture and roll for drift. Works like a charm.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2022 3:29 a.m. PST

No.
1. As said, too much like work.
2. Usually don't have the modern tech or know how to use it.
3. One more thing to go wrong on the day.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2022 5:37 a.m. PST

No. Tech is a challenge for me. Like Robert, I probably don't have it, and I wouldn't know how to do whatever you want me to do.

Gauntlet16 Mar 2022 11:31 a.m. PST

I would if it was elegant. I have used a networked app for fog of war and it was really fun but once half the units are visible it ended up being too much maintenance.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2022 12:52 p.m. PST

One of the reasons I still enjoy miniature gaming is that it gets me away from technology.

UshCha16 Mar 2022 1:35 p.m. PST

I use a modular terrain system so we always have an accurate map. Much of what seems to be proposed could be done on a map. Despite the cost of my battlefield which is a lot, its Kalistra Hexon II its p less expensive and lasts much longer than 2 top end phones. So no its seems to me an excuse to play with toys because you own them. Would I, no they offer nothing over a decent terrain system. Like Mserafin technology for technology's sake has noa appeal. I have a 3D printer but its just a tool it most certainly is not a hobby in of itself.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP16 Mar 2022 4:14 p.m. PST

Ok, I'll bite. How do you run an automata with a map?

Also, how do you designate an HVU on a map?

For the first and third, hidden information is one of the things decried as notoriously clunky to manage with physical objects. This approach makes both cases easier than writing a bunch of things down, hiding them, then only partially revealing them when necessary.

d88mm194016 Mar 2022 7:25 p.m. PST

I use light bulbs! Does that count…
Otherwise, we have a very ADD group with little patience for tech.

Striker17 Mar 2022 1:33 a.m. PST

I've taken pics and printed them for hidden placement and objectives but I'll try just getting the pic on my tablet (now that I own one) and pass it around. A handy thing if doing this is scrabble pieces (can find them separately online) and then place them next to points of interest/objectives. That way you can say "A is rough terrain, B is a stone building, etc".

Charts are usually easier to me if they are paper since they're lighter.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Mar 2022 5:09 a.m. PST

I used to do the mines (and hidden objectives) with an ultraviolet marker. Just shine the UV mini flashlight in the area of your minis and see if they hit mines. The problem is the marks are permanent.

With the hidden objective, I have six monkey head aquarium terrain things, each with a different eldritch symbol on it. This was great since I could mix 'em up and not know which was which for the game, too.

AR makes the entire board available for one game only, modular reveal. I'm working on a dynamic bit to add some automata to it.

UshCha18 Mar 2022 6:42 p.m. PST

Mines are an area weapon and their effect can me mapped statisticaly and so a map of the areas of dencity (a minefield is not a contant density in all places by design) so it woreks. HVU's are not an opyion used in our scenarios so designating them is not an issue I have even addressed conventionaly.

Automata, again AI is never going to be as good as a person and the complexity of IF THEN statements needed to control issues will need to be decided in advance before an automata could work effectively, sounds like you need to be more of a programmer to weight decissions, that most certainly has no apeal to me.

arthur181520 Mar 2022 7:30 a.m. PST

When I wargame, I don't want to have to deal with technology I don't fully understand, can't program myself or put right if it goes wrong (and it invariably will), that jars with the periods I play (17th – early 19th century) and costs money I could spend on more miniature troops.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Mar 2022 1:29 p.m. PST

HVU's are not an opyion

again AI is never going to be

So, for you, "much of what is proposed" means less than one third. OK

Mines are an area weapon and their effect can me mapped statisticaly

I did not propose replacing player decisions with random die rolls. The mines (or any hidden capability) are exactly where the owning player puts them, not random places that are different through different passes through the field.

a minefield is not a contant density in all places by design

No, your are parametrically distributed, which real mines (or other objects) are not.

sounds like you need to be more of a programmer

I didn't propose than anyone build an AI, just use one. It's not different than using a table. Most people that use them couldn't build them, either.

UshCha21 Mar 2022 2:00 a.m. PST

Placing mines exactly seems very difficult to me. We fight at 1mm = 1m groundscale. It would be difficult for a camera to exactly define where the treads were to see when a vehicle hit a mine at true groundscale. Using model scale would be as bigger distortion as a statistical approach and proably take longer. Specificaly laying mines as per the manuals would take extra time unless you put some form pre set system to disperse the mines as per the instructions within the manual.

For navel games (moderen at least the model to grounscale discrepancey would be far larger so the issues even more complex.

There may be ways to do it if the AI and the player have a common single point on the model to identify the "true" poisition of the model but it may be subject to the limits of cheap tecnology.

I am sure you are aware of Nato mine densities being Defensive at 4 mines per meter possibly spread over 1km so the minse are spaced 4mm apart at geound scale in the closest spscing but not ajacent to eack othet. With vehicle in my case with 2 tracks say 250mm wide, that needs a high resolution if not using a statistical approach.

I guess there could be gains but I have personally yet to see any gain that appeals to me. But that is not to say I there are not great gains to be had be some out of the bix thinking.

To me the next great tecnologhy step would be 3D progjected models, no painting and no dammage and if you could pick the model up actually or virtually it would be the same but painting would be gone and storage a tking of the past while maintaing the real world imagery of a tabletop.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Mar 2022 12:37 p.m. PST

I am sure you are aware of Nato mine densities being

I'm not aware of any unclassified documentation on NATO minelaying policies or tactics. Reference?

Most modern (and older) naval mines are larger than 1 meter in diameter, so I don't know how you are fitting four of them per meter.

We fight at 1mm = 1m groundscale.

But you are not the only wargamer on the planet. So if you don't use minefields to interact with individual figures the way described in the OP, then this would be irrelevant to your type of gaming, not achievable with a map.

Do you completely lack any hidden knowledge? While the mines were an example, it is a hidden knowledge system that requires less playing time overhead than traditional methods.

Specificaly laying mines as per the manuals would take extra time unless you put some form pre set system to disperse the mines as per the instructions within the manual.

Actually, neither. The app does it with a parameterized template, the way actual moderns systems do it. The player makes the strategic decisions and the computer does the nug work.

Andy ONeill21 Mar 2022 1:07 p.m. PST

Technically speaking.
A fair bit of game "AI" is just decision tree where the developer has to imagine all the possibilities and code for them.
These can be easily extensible with new subtrees loaded dynamically.
But the developer has to think of the situation and code for it.
The intelligence is in the developer really.
It's hard writing this stuff and players often find things the dev didn't think of.

Other AI are "trained" and self modifying.
They might be given a bit of a head start. They start with some base behaviour. For wargaming that might be like trying to identify an open flank, covered approach etc but they get better without someone writing code.
There's not so many of these sirt of AI around because it's really tricky setting em up and training em.
Such AI tend to be used for very specific narrowly defined purposes.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Mar 2022 2:10 p.m. PST

There are other types of static AI than decision trees (Markov chains, non-linear influence spaces, etc.), but the division into a static structure and a dynamic one is an important one. The dynamic piece (not necessarily a trained AI modality).

A Season in Hel uses an AI implemented in physical artifacts to simulate the weather. It isn't a "brain", but it does follow regular weather logic while providing random changes.

Having a dynamic system that can change the structure of the logic can provide a less predictable, yet still logical system. Doing that with something like a Markov map or a set of physical artifacts rapidly becomes very complicated and requires action from the user during play.

One of the better things about the weather system is that while the setup is somewhat intricate, during play all you have to do to get some good weather behaviour is to flip over one card from a deck.

A computer program where you push one button each round (instead of flipping over one card) has the same level of impact on the game, but allows a much richer response space.

Zephyr121 Mar 2022 2:34 p.m. PST

The best way to represent minefields is to define the area they are in ('hidden deployment' from the opponent, until they move into it ;-), and instead of placing individual mines, use a percentage chance of hitting a mine while moving through (such as a 15% chance in a light minefield, 50% for heavily mined, etc.) Clearing operations can reduce the % (but never entirely eliminate it, not always going to find them all… ;-)

UshCha22 Mar 2022 5:52 a.m. PST

FM 20-32 (13 chapters approx). covers a good basic introduction to mines. If you want to place individual mines cedibly you need to provide the players with at least a reasoinable approcimation of this manual. We are woking at a low lewvwl on this but it is only for serious players. This may be too much for many folk so a simple approimation similar to Zephr1's is a credible limit.

Tech cannot improve the fidelity without much greater imput from the player. Now that to be fair may be an advantage to serious players but the imput time would be long and complex and outside a normal evening game. It could be useful I admit in some of our longer and more complax games, so as I said looking harder there may be some gains but the resloution of the imagry needs to be very high and has some difficult to visulize assumptions.

UshCha22 Mar 2022 8:34 a.m. PST

I had another thought on this and it seems the more you look at it there are things that would be useful I had not thought of. In recording games to say play another evening it would be good to be able to take a series of shots of the table, a number of shots are needed as nobody wants to stand on a chair and even then there may be dead ground. These shots can then be integrated it into a composite 3D image of the battlefield. Then by taking close ups you would get a 3D map with all the fine detail integrated including the status of all vehicles and troops and the precise position and orientation of the troops on the battlefield.
Do modern tablets/phones have sufficient computing capacity for this form of task?

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Mar 2022 12:25 p.m. PST

The best way to represent minefields is to define the area

Well, the minefield itself might be hidden object if you are working at that level of granularity. At 1:1 models:units, the problem with probability approach allows someone to walk through the minefield and then walk back, retracing their path with the same odds of setting off a mine. Or to blow up a mine, and then blow it up again in the same spot later.

To avoid this, you require a separate set of rules and probabilities for return trips, or second units going through along the same path. Clearing methods would be a separate set of rules and probabilities. Lots of different approaches leading to different probabilities and rules. MRAPs have greatly expanded the variety of minefield conditions.

And different clearance methods will have different changes to the probabilities that also give away the nature of the field and success by telling you what the changed odds are. For ex, somebody who has read the rules would know if they had 25%, 50%, or 75% cleared the field based on the new rolls they were taking.

To expand this, any type of countdown (or more sophisticated) mine would require different probability rolls for the number of units passing and the roll would give away the nature of the field.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Mar 2022 2:51 p.m. PST

FM 20-32

is an Army field manual, so no naval mines, not NATO, and no mine densities. If you know the mine density you are working with, you can use it to position or properly sweep for mines.

This may be too much for many folk so a simple approimation similar to Zephr1's is a credible limit.

Tech cannot improve the fidelity without much greater imput from the player. Now that to be fair may be an advantage to serious players but the imput time would be long and complex and outside a normal evening game.

Perhaps you missed this in the earlier post:

he app does it with a parameterized template, the way actual moderns systems do it. The player makes the strategic decisions and the computer does the nug work.

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