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"Wargaming Without Dice" Topic


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Marcus Brutus24 Jul 2023 6:53 p.m. PST

Remember, the player generally represents the highest level of command in any game system. Whether that be a commanding general is a grand tactical game to a squad leader in a skirmish game the player acts on behalf of his side, or a major section of his side. Again, dice represents the uncertainty that comes from a commander dealing with situations that lay beyond his command horizon. An army commander is not expected to know what is happening in a 500 man battalion type unit. Unless we are prepared to move to a level of granularity in a game system that would make it ponderous and tedious we simplify situations with the use of dice. So it is not a question of unit variability as much as unit circumstances that lay beyond what a commander would normally be expected to know.

Bolingar24 Jul 2023 10:44 p.m. PST

@Old Glory: my take is that there is a fundamental difference between modern warfare and warfare before, say, the Boer War. Modern warfare essentially consists of small unit vs small unit, with troops spread out over a much greater area than was the case in the past. You have essentially hundreds of squad-level combats. As I mentioned earlier, there are so many factors affecting squad level combat that it is impossible to represent them with modifiers and one is obliged to fall back on dice. Add to that the average lieutenant's ignorance of the whereabouts of the enemy or even of his own troops and it becomes a big pile of unpredictability, so Kaos.

In the past, thousands or tens of thousands of men would form up shoulder to shoulder in a battleline that faced the enemy likewise formed up in a battleline. To take your example of Hue, in the past 15,000 vs 7,000 men would have occupied a frontage of about half a mile. There was much less fog of war and combat was at regimental or divisional level. A thousand men shooting at another thousand men can be quantified in its result, which is what I implement in my system. Using a fixed number is maybe not exact (there's always going to be some variation), but it's near enough.

Bolingar24 Jul 2023 10:52 p.m. PST

@Marcus Brutus: I would query whether the player represents the highest level of command. IMHO he represents all levels of command, from general to subcommander to unit captain. He sees what all three levels of command see: the overall picture and the detail of any part of the battlefield. The trick is to limit the initiative of each level of command to what it was historically capable of.

In Optio the general represents the player and can move his command as the player sees fit.

The player however needs a plan for the commanders as there is a limit to the number of times they can change direction (BTW there are about 2 – 4 commanders in an army). Once they've used up their 'orders' (number of times they can change direction) they can move normally only a fixed number of squares from where their last 'order' took them. This represents their limited battlefield awareness, confining them to local action.

Captains (not represented by figures) command individual units. Whilst part of a battleline under a general/commander they have no personal initiative and must move with that battleline – even if enemy is approaching their flank or rear. If they are separated from a battleline however (by bumping into impassable terrain, say) they are capable of limited movement – no more than one square per turn – which represents their very localised battlefield awareness and their tendency to act only in their immediate area.

It seems to work.

Bolingar24 Jul 2023 11:57 p.m. PST

BTW just in case anyone hasn't realised it, I'm not really on a campaign to abolish dice from wargaming (might as well try holding my breath and swimming down to view the Titanic). But I think there is too much bias against diceless wargames – historical accuracy is not the overriding consideration in wargaming however diceless systems IMHO are at least as accurate as dice driven ones and they offer a very unique kind of fun.

UshCha25 Jul 2023 1:51 a.m. PST

A well desined game with lots of interesting parameters and some hidden troops and possibly even hiddem movement creates lots of fog of war with no dice required. Hell I played a game last night and had to use dummy markers and not even that many. Why? Becaus the players could not cope with a simple empty battlefield. No you can see the absurdaty od diceing for strange actions as they are far more difficult to cope with and analysis paralasis sets in. I suggrest overuse of die is becaus ether rules are poor to start with. bounds taking too long and too little happening by definition, eleiminates fog of war, no too and fro.

The "you are a genral you don't see all" argunments don't wash. Any decent command has a grip on what his men may do. They will in the main make sensible decions on the basis of their immediate situation. To my knowledge no die has yet to achieve consioudness, so can't make those decisions so suggesting that they can is pure farce. Montgomery and Ronmmel went to look at battlefields before hand so knew what it was like so could look at reports and view them in context. I regret to say that after 15 years of playing our game, our friendly platoon commander sees far more into the terrain than me. So while I am no way anti die, far too often its missused and the game beconmes a farce. But that is perfectly acceptable, we have Lots of farce in our theaters but nobody consideres it reflects life, despite it being entertaining to some.

Gamesman625 Jul 2023 4:14 a.m. PST

Play the game you want.
And let others do the same.

BUT personally I've never found a system that did all that I wanted…

I've found dice Becom about dice… values rolled… talking about bad rolling etc.

But I've had the same with cards…

I remember reading an intro by Jkm Webster, to some diceless rules he'd written… its about results… if flipping a coin works then use it…
And Buck Surdu with his use of resolution and fidelity.

I think multi faced rollable randomisers
Have a place as do one face ones… but not in the ways we tend to think about them or use them…

I also belive we can better add excitement and choices by reflecting on informstikn communication command and control and choice.

paperbattles25 Jul 2023 8:34 a.m. PST

@Bolingar how I am happy to read your topic. So I am not alone. I totally agree with your opinion. As a matter of fact I am wargaming with (thousands) of papersoldiers at 1:1 ratio. Thanks to this I do adopt a system of average hits on target with tons of variations WITHOUT a dice.

here an extract
o I calculated a minimal width of a unit, having 15 (shooting) men; the firing unit was on 3 rows: 2 firing 1 recharging. So in 1 turn (1 minute) mor eor less they did 1 volley (in battle); so I calculated that 30 men firing (15 recharging) and a line that is as wide as the unit.


The first metal line represents the width of the unit (on 15 men) while the second the width of the fire considered a little wider than the unit, considering that men at the edges shot also a little in diagonal.

Obvioulsy, if the rate is 2 shots/minute it will be enough to repeat the operation 2 times per turn.

In this article link there are a lot of statics about the failing shots and the precision. It is important to note that a soldier in battle under stress would have behaved in a total different way than in parade.

A shot failed 10% in a total way and 20% by some sort. It can be summarized as 18% of no-shots.

The rate firing was theoretically of 2 or or 3 shots per minute; but at the very end the rate was much less between 1 shot per minute or a little less (in the article they quote 5/8 minutes per 10 shot i.e. 1,5 shots every minute. This would go down to 1shot/minute during the fighting.

At a Napoleonic Battle at 100 yards there was 5% hits.

It is also very important to note (big mistake!) that is not true that 1 shot = 1 hit = 1 soldier; it was possible that a soldier in the first rank took 2 or 3 hits.

This allows to reduce again by 50% the numbers above.

The precision of shooting was very relative:

under 15 meters: 70%

15/50 m. 60%

50/100 m 50%

100/150 m 20%

150/180 m 5%

have a look on

link

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP25 Jul 2023 11:20 a.m. PST

Bolingar, where did you find that image of Dice Quixote? Who did it? And may I share it?

Bolingar25 Jul 2023 11:34 a.m. PST

@Robert: I made it in Photoshop using two separate images. Sure, do what you like with it.

Bolingar25 Jul 2023 12:16 p.m. PST

@paperbattles: I'm impressed by your dedication – those armies must have been a lot of work. Do you have a mechanism for morale? How does your command and control work?

Wolfhag25 Jul 2023 4:45 p.m. PST

There is an element of luck in just about everything.

We were rolling a bucket of D6s in a few games with hits on a 6. Several times in a short span it resulted in just over half of the dice being a 6 resulting in about a 25% causality rate for a Union Regiment over 200 yards away on the first turn of the game. This was deemed to be unrealistic and even if the odds even out it would still result in a quick loss for the Union.

Our solution was to implement a modified binomial table for causalities which would result in a more realistic and evened outcome.

So rolling a D100 (2xD10) if you had a machine gun firing at 5 targets (left column) with a 25% chance to hit each one (top row) there would be no causalities on a 1-24, one causality on a 25-64, two causalities on a 65-92 and three causalities on a 93-00. "Theoretically" he could get all 5 but the odds would be extremely high. It is a little more variable than a deterministic model which makes the event a little more interesting.

A 90% chance to hit a 1 is two causalities, 2-9 is three causalities, 10-42 is four causalities and 43-00 is five causalities.

What I like about it is that is easy, quick, and takes just one roll of two dice.

Wolfhag

Bolingar26 Jul 2023 1:05 a.m. PST

For those not completely wedded to the Cursed Cube I've posted an overview of Optio on my blog. Link here. (I had posted it before on TMP but repetition is the soul of learning and there've been a few changes anyway).

UshCha26 Jul 2023 1:48 a.m. PST

Close assult in many rules was really not predictable and made the game daft, reading accounts the assults doid not fail in such an unpredictable way. Fortunately we use a D20 so we VERY approximately followed a Normal distibution so the result was typical about 50% of the time and the extreme 5% was wa very significant. This to us looks more like what we read.

Bolingar26 Jul 2023 3:29 a.m. PST

Rules for Wargaming by Arthur Taylor, another diceless classic which is unfortunately out of print.

paperbattles26 Jul 2023 8:32 a.m. PST

@Bolingar. Yes I do. some of them are in Italian, other already in English.
I did a first attempt:

The calculation of the morale is very important.
Every single unit (a company or less for 1:1 ratio) has primarily to calculate its value of morale
There are 6 kinds of level of morale

a) Regular (normal state of all the units at the beginning of a battle, except particular cases)
b) 1st level shocked
c) 2nd level shocked
d) 3rd level shocked
e) 4th level shocked
f) en route

Every unit starts with different values of points of morale, as in the following scheme;
To execute the test it is necessary to calculate:

Reducing factor RF
Firstly, at the beginning of the battle every single has its particular value called "Reducing factor" (in short RF); this is a fix number (for all the battle) to be used to understand how much the morale decreases during a battle, according to some events.

This value is so calculated:
a) total number of figure present in an unit. The personalities (NCO, colours and Officers) add the value of 0,5 each. This number is called "Fighting Number" (FN)

b) divide the FN by the Initial Point of Value (in short PV) as per scheme A); the result is the reducing factor (RF)


Scheme A)
Kind of Unit Initial Point of Value – PV
Elite Plus 60
Elite 80
Veterans plus 100
Veterans 120
Ordinary 140
Recruits 155
Militia 175

Example:
A veteran unit (company) of 113 (whose 14 personalities) has as FN 120 (113 + 05,X14)
This value must be divided by the PV; in this case: 120/120 = RF 1


This will be the fixed RF for that unit for an entire battle. This is the first step, possible to be done at the beginning at to have always present.
Once every unit has its RF, when it will be necessary to calculate the morale of that unit, it should be proceed in this way.

MORALE CALCULATION

A) NUMBER OF LOSSES (NL)
First it is necessary to calculate the number of losses (NL); this number is given by the difference between the losses the unit got in that turn and the number of loss it provoked in that same turn as in the Scheme B) (it is different actually to lose a soldier, or a Personality and it changes also according to the status of the unit)

So first calculate the total loss; than add the value for the personalities lost in that number and finally subtract the number of losses provoked to the enemy. This gives the NL.

Scheme B)

Value to subtract to the initial point of morale for every soldiers it loses Value to subtract to the initial point of morale for every personality it loses Value to add to the initial point of morale for every eliminated enemy
Elite Plus 1 1 0,5
Elite 1 1 0,5
Veterans plus 1 1 0,5
Veterans 1 1 0,5
Ordinary 1 1 0,5
Recruits 2 2 0,5
Militia 2 3 0,5

Example:
A veteran unit with RF 1.
First turn: 18 men lost (whose 4 personalities) – 10 provoked losses (10X0,5=5) NL = -13 (18-5)

B) CALCULATION MS
Once you obtained the NL (in this case -13) you simply divide it by the RF and you obtain the "Moral Status" (MS); this MS represents the percentage of the decrease (or increase) of the Moral of a single unit.

Example:
A veteran unit with
RF 1.
NL = -13
MS = 13:1 = 13 (-13%)


C) TOTAL MODIFICATION STATUS MS
The MS can be still modified by some events

1) presence of CIC at less than 20 m: +6% (+8% if charismatic + 10% if Napoleon or Federic)
2) Loss of CIC – 10 (+12% if charismatic + 18% if Napoleon or Federic) for all units at 300 m
3) presence of CIB at less than 20 m: +3/ loss of the CIB at less than 50 m – 7
4) Commander of the Battalion in first line + 2% attached (5m) to the unit; loss of the commander – 6
5) One side protected +2
6) Two sides protected + 4
7) Attack from (each) side – 4
8) Attack from back side – 7
9) Repair of first/second/third level: +4 / +6 +8
10) Friend unit at 50 m that retreats: – 6
11) Enemy unit at 50 m that retreats + 6
12) Cannon fire on the unit: – 1 (for each ball)
13) Every turn of fighting – 2 (starting from the second)

Adding these values give the Total Number of Losses (TNL)


EFFECTS
In this way, the value of MS provokes the changing of status like in Scheme C), considering that every unit has an initial value of 100%; adding the various MS's gives the Total Moral Status variation (TMS)


Scheme C) – Total Morale Status

1st level
Shock 2nd level
Shock 3nd level
Shock En route
Elite Plus 15% 33% 50% 70%
Elite 15% 33% 50% 70%
Veterans plus 15% 33% 50% 65%
Veterans 15% 33% 50% 65%
Ordinary 15% 33% 50% 65%
Recruits 15% 33% 50% 55%
Militia 15% 33% 50% 53%


RECOVERY
When the TMS is over one of the percentage as per in scheme C) the unit will suffer the mutation of status as mentioned. Obviously, there is a difference between having just overstepped one percentage or to be close to the other passage.
So if a unit overstepped these percentage by just 3%, it can try to recover by simply withdrawal from the fighting and resting for 1 (if it is under 1%) or 2 turns (for the rest).
If is over the 3% no recover will be possible. It is possible to reduce the percentage and so to try to recover the unit to use the modifiers of point C). (like put the commander in the front line, or enter a shelter, or cover one side).
It is also possible to make another friend unit to come close (less than 20m) to the shocked unit; it can pass to this one till 4% of its TMS (and has to subtract from its).
.
Example:
A veteran unit with RF 1.3

First turn:
23 men lost (whose 6 personalities) – 13 provoked losses NL = -22,5 1 side unprotected -2
T

paperbattles26 Jul 2023 8:34 a.m. PST

I also did "cohesion" to try to reproduce the fact that sometime units just fled even BEFORE the real fighting (like the Wurtemburger at the Battle of Leuthen in 1757) that no wwargame rules (as far as I know) is able to reproduce:
here extract:

The idea of cohesion is something different from moral even though strongly connected. It is the force a unit has to remain together before the real contact or fighting between troops, like for instance when cavalry charges on an infantry unit and this unit could simply flee instead of stand and fight. This is quite an important factor because in real battles a lot of time one part simply fled without even engage in fighting.

I tried to make it simple: use the single RF. If the difference of RF's is more than 5 the lowest flees. There are these modifiers:

1) presence of CIC at less than 20 m: +0,6 (+0,8 if charismatic + 1 if Napoleon or Federic)
2) presence of CIB at less than 20 m: +0,3/
3) Commander of the Battalion in first line + 0,2 attached (5m) to the unit;
4) One side protected +0,4
5) Two sides protected + 0,4
6) Attack from (each) side – 0,4
7) Attack from back side – 0,7
8) Repair of first/second/third level: +0,4 / +0,6 +0,8
9) Friend unit at 50 m that retreats: – 1,5
10) Enemy unit at 50 m that retreats + 0,6
11) For every unit calculated in the average RF + 0,40

If the attacking group is formed by different units then do in this way
Take the all the RF's and calculate the average RS of all the units.
To avoid to many calculations, this cohesion check must be done only if one of the units is ordinary, recruits or militia.
Usually, it should be done with between single units. It can happen that one unit is attached to another.
It can happen that a single unit has to face a line of enemy units. The fact is to understand how many to consider.
In this case, the single unit will consider all the direct facing units of the enemy + those at 20 meters at the right and left of its point of view and even if they are just partially in front.
It will also consider the 1 or 2 (per side) enemy units attached (i.e. within 20 meters) to those in front as above said.

paperbattles26 Jul 2023 8:39 a.m. PST

and finally from my rules SINE ALEA ANTIQUITATIS (in Latin without dice of the antiquity) an extract of fighting system

5 ) FIRST SHOOTING
This section of fighting (the other one is the hand-to hand fighting) concerns the fighting that occurred with the throw of javelins or lances, with arrow or slingers.
First element to be considered before starting the shooting is to count only the soldiers present in the first 3 rows of the engaged unity even at the back of friend units.
It is absolutely important to note that not all soldiers present in the first 3 rows can participate to this calculation: musicians and standard-beares should never be calculated (but the officers do!)
In the case that the fighting from the back of a friend unit is to short, the losses will be suffered by that friend unit (the so called "friend fire"), simulating an error in calculate the distance, as it actually occurred during confused battles.
A unit can shoot on a target till 45° on his right or left, on condition that the range of the weapon reaches the target.
There are two kinds of shooting: "shooting without moving" (that means that the unit didn't moved in the movement phase) and "shooting after moving" (that means that the unit has moved in the movement phase). This difference is not valid for soldiers carrying "pila" (roman spears ) or lances, as better hereafter explained. They can actually move and then shoot without any consequences. At the contrary for archers, slingers and other troops this difference is valid and has to be strictly observed.


A) Schedule for shooting without moving
Type of unit Max distance of launch Usefull distance of launch Losses for the 2 different distances of launches
Legionars (pilum) 30 m 20 m 7% – 16%
Celtiberians and Iberians ( with pilum) 30 m 20 m 7% – 12%
Other units with spears (i.e. roman Velites, skirmishing) - 20 m 8%
Archers 70 m 50 m 8% – 15%
Slingers 60 m 40 m 7% – 12%

B) Schedule for shooting after moving
Type of unit Max distance of launch Usefull distance of launch Losses for the 2 different distances of launches
Roman Legioners 30 m 20 m 7% – 16%
Celtiberians /Iberians 30 m 20 m 7% – 12%
Other units with spears (roman Velites, skirmishing, moors) - 20 m 5%
Archers
70 m 50 m 6% – 11%
Slingers 80 m 60 m 6% – 9%
Cavalry with arch 60 m 40 m 5% – 10%
Elephants with crew with arch 60m 50 m 8% – 13%

The above given dates are the offensive factor of each unit.
Note that the spearmen don't have any difference of rating if they move or don't.
Obviously each spear, arrow or stone launched by a slinger would have impacted (if succeded) against an enemy that very often was wearing some sort of defensive arms, like cuirasess, shields or helmet. To re-create this factor the player has to apply to the above given percentages the following diminishing percentages that represent the value of each defensive weapon. Consider that one weapon doesn't exclude another, being well possible for a soldier to wear a cuirass, together with shield and helmet. In the schedule are also indicated 2 improper values of protection that not directly connected with defensive weapons, but with array of the opposite unit and for the kind of shooting. So they have been inserted in the schedule because of their influence in reducing the effectiveness of shooting.


Schedule of the protection values against shooting
Type of protection Reduction (in percentage) of the effects on the losses as described in both shooting schedule (A&B schedules).
Big shield - 9%
Middle shield -6 %
Small shield -3 %
Bronze cuirass - 8%
Lamellar cuirass - 5%
Leather&bronze cuirass / linotorax cuirass - 3%
Leather cuirass -1%
Enemy unit in skirmishing array - 12%
Indirected shooting - 3%

Units with pila (roman and iberian spears) after their shooting (as indicated in the schedule A &B) can make an attack movement and fight a hand-to-hand fight, without any reduction in their skill of fighting, as it will be explained in the chapter of hand-to-hand fight. This re-create the capacity of these units of launching their pila and then immediately attack the enemy.
All other units – if they shoot – they cannot attack and fight. They can just be attacked. In that case, they fight with a malus of -20% and fighting as disorganized troops (see further for its meaning)
Units shoot against the more direct unit in front of them or at maximum with a visual of an arch of 45°.

6) SKIRMISHING PHASE

Units in skirmishing array can avoid fighting with more solid units, passing through friend units at their back, provided that there is space –among units at their back- between unit and unit of al least 20m, moving then back to the friend unit.
This movement can be normally done, during the movement phase or during the attacking moving phase of the enemy (this simulates the possibility that this kind of special units had, consisting in disturbing the enenmy and then retire back in safe at the rear of friend and strong regular units)
In this case, the units arrayed in skirmishing will be able to make use of the phase of shooting through launching their pilas: they shoot towards the enemy (at a range of 20 m) but they will suffer eventually some losses if the enemy will decide to throw the pilas against then, instead of shooting directly against the solid and dense unit. (obviously if the skirmishing units are not retiring back, they will then represent t the first line of the array and will suffer normally losses).

7) SECOND SHOOTING
The only units of slingers and of archers (but NOT the spearmen) can shoot a second time against troops that are doing at their range, normally, or – important – against units that are doing an attack movement before the contact.
This re-creates the intensity of a shooting against troops that are charging, as a defensive shooting.
The losses are exactly calculated as in the schedules of the "first shooting without moving" without changing (just consider that spearmen cannot shoot a second time)
In the second shooting it is very important to consider the distance of the attacking unit from the shooting unit (considering that the attacking unit is moving during the shooting itself).
Two possibility: when a unit declares about doing an attack movement (see the chapter) he can fail to reach the enemy unit or it can reach it.
- In the first case, (failing) the distance will be the final one reached by the attacking unit.
- In the second case, (impact) the distance will be as done at the useful distance (not at the maximum distance)
At this point it is necessary to calculate the losses inflicted by the second shooting, eliminating soldiers, and in any case always before the hand-to-hand fighting.
Note that is always possible to shoot a second time even on units that are not attacking but simply stay in the range of shooting.


8) ATTACK MOVEMENT

When a unit decides to attack another unit, it declares its intention (usually it is enough that the player says that). The unit has at its disposal an attack movement range, that is the ½ of the normal movement range.
In this case, the player doesn't measure the distance between his unit and the enemy's unit exactly, but he calculates it with "free eye", re-creating thus the evaluation that the commander did, with no certitude that the distance between units could be totally done.
It can than happens that a unit's movement will be too short, hindering the effective touch between units (the so called "failed attack").
In the case of a "failed attack" the unit that failed the attack can be in turn counter-attacked by the enemy unit in front of it. This gives like an "impetus" to the counter-attacking unit, that is prized with the following percentages to apply in the following hand-to-hand fighting:

Counter-attack Impetus schedule
Type of unit Additional percentage for impetus
Elite unitis 40%
Veteranas // Veterans plus 25% // 30%
Ordinary warriors 20%
Milice 10%

Note that when a unit comes in contact with other enemy unit the bases have to line up. During the attacking movement the attacking unit can be the target of shooting (see that chapter).
The attacking movement represents a further movement as for the approaching movement. Therefore this (second) attacking movement is limited along with the following schedule:

Schedule for the attacking movement
Type of unit
Flat ground Uneven ground Ground with obstacles (trees, rivers etc)
Infantry arrayed in line 100 m 70 m 50 m
Macedonian phalanx 80 m 45 m Not possible
Light Cavalry/Archers Cavalry/ Numidian cavalry/Officers/ dispach riders 180 m 140 m 80 m
Heavy cavalry 140 m 120 m Not possible
Skirmishing infantry 120 120 80
Cataphracts cavalry 120 100 Not possible

Before the hand-to-hand fighting the unit must undergo the disaggregation test.

Bolingar27 Jul 2023 12:52 p.m. PST

Here is a battle report on my blog with a hard-fought game between Rome and Carthage at my playtester Peter's place. It gives a good idea of Optio in action.

paperbattles, give me time to digest your input. It looks interesting.

Zephyr129 Jul 2023 2:54 p.m. PST

Well, if one desires a non-dice/non-card randomizer, I humbly submit the venerable stopwatch.

Place it face down on the table while it's running. When time to determine a random number, press the stop button, then flip it over.

Wherever the seconds hand has stopped is your random number.

Yes, you'd have to modify your rules to use this (I'm not doing the work for you. ;-), but, no dice, no cards, no computer-generated, etc.
And to speed up play, have several stopwatches in use (just start'em back up & flip'em over until next time.)

UshCha31 Jul 2023 10:32 a.m. PST

Cearly I have lost the plot. I assume doing without die implied no random factors artificially introduced. The only random bit being the actions of the players (like chess). Clearly that seems to be incorrect and it's at best doing without quite so many random factors, but that is just doing a decent job not a new way of doing things.

Gamesman631 Jul 2023 10:57 a.m. PST

We can't deny that chance or rather unpredictability plays a part. The question is what best serves that?

It's also intersting where we consider it important for to maintain or represent that unpredictability in.

Of course we have reduced or ignore many places where those things would be in doubt.
Information, transmission or orders and communication, obeyance of orders, response to new actions and information. Time to make decisions in game.
I've seen plenty of realistic situations from no standard or simplified rules, by putting time restrictions or players.

I see us shifting things in to areas that represent uncertainty, justifiably or not or suitably or not. But personally I question in my own designs where ams how we model chance and uncertainty and the methods that can represent or replicate them

Bolingar31 Jul 2023 11:35 a.m. PST

Clearly I have lost the plot. I assume doing without die implied no random factors artificially introduced. The only random bit being the actions of the players (like chess). Clearly that seems to be incorrect and it's at best doing without quite so many random factors, but that is just doing a decent job not a new way of doing things.

There are no random factors in my system other than throwing a die for generals/commanders involved in combat, that might result in their injury or even death (rare).

The problem is that most people swear by what they were brought up with. So mother's baking is always the best. The realisation that a diceless game might have as much or even more unpredictability – and fun – than a dice driven game is something that can be acquired only by experience. I've played plenty of dice games and I've spent years testing a diceless game. My experience from all this is that diceless game can be at least as good as a dice driven game at representing the unknown factors of fog of war (note "unknown" not "utterly random").

Marcus Brutus31 Jul 2023 3:17 p.m. PST

The problem is that most people swear by what they were brought up with. So mother's baking is always the best.

Several people on this subject have made strong arguments in favour of dice in wargaming systems. Yet you keep going to the ad hominem explanation for why people generally reject dice less games. No, people don't swear by dice because they were brought up this way. Rather they have good reasons for preferring diced games. I, for one, don't play chess and don't think chess is good at reflecting ancient warfare. It gives me no sense at all that I am doing anything but playing chess. So stop making up facts about people's motives for disagreeing with you.

Bolingar01 Aug 2023 2:30 a.m. PST

Several people on this subject have made strong arguments in favour of dice in wargaming systems. Yet you keep going to the ad hominem explanation for why people generally reject dice less games. No, people don't swear by dice because they were brought up this way. Rather they have good reasons for preferring diced games. I, for one, don't play chess and don't think chess is good at reflecting ancient warfare. It gives me no sense at all that I am doing anything but playing chess. So stop making up facts about people's motives for disagreeing with you.
I agree with you that chess is no good at reflecting ancient warfare – it's an abstract game like draughts, not a true wargame. I've read through the arguments in favour of dice and replied to them but, hey, everyone plays what they like. The idea is to have fun and wargamers have fun (I've had plenty of fun with DBA, DBM, FoG, MeG, etc.). My point is that very few wargamers have had experience with a diceless wargame that is not abstract or semi-abstract and it might be an idea to give one a whirl – not just mine, there are others.

Wolfhag01 Aug 2023 4:54 a.m. PST

Here is an example of a diceless war game set of rules:
PDF link

Wolfhag

Marcus Brutus01 Aug 2023 5:08 a.m. PST

My point is that very few wargamers have had experience with a diceless wargame that is not abstract or semi-abstract and it might be an idea to give one a whirl – not just mine, there are others.

That is a better way of making your point although it does presume things that you can't really know for certain. And of course it still presumes that people reject your diceless mechanism because of habit which I don't think is necessarily accurate.

You mention about responding to arguments in favour of dice but really we are talking about the contingency of battle of which using dice is one way to show it. I guess we disagree at some basic fundamental elements of gamed design and warfare. I don't agree with your basic assumption that a large body of men will operate consistently through time and place. I also believe that good game design has to provide unpredictability in representing elements beyond the command horizon that any tabletop game can't easily represent. So, a priori, I don't agree with your basic assumptions and therefore your use of diceless (ie. lack of chance) mechanisms.

Bolingar01 Aug 2023 7:18 a.m. PST

I guess we disagree at some basic fundamental elements of gamed design and warfare. I don't agree with your basic assumption that a large body of men will operate consistently through time and place. I also believe that good game design has to provide unpredictability in representing elements beyond the command horizon that any tabletop game can't easily represent. So, a priori, I don't agree with your basic assumptions and therefore your use of diceless (ie. lack of chance) mechanisms.
Excellent! We agree to disagree and bump along happily ever after. ;-)

UshCha03 Aug 2023 12:03 a.m. PST

Bolingar

The idea is to have fun and wargamers have fun

This sort of implies that die are required for fun. That is patently absurd. If I could do without die I would and most certainly I would have more fun! Real fog of war is not moddeled by die, its the restult of real effects linked to the situation. Our own games are hell for fog of war but none is generated by die. The time for communication is varied a bit by die, this refelects the real world from my own experience. Armour penetration tables are presented statisticaly so we use a statistical approach. Fog of war like the real world is generated by players digging ther own graves and making mistakes under pressure. If you are not under pressusr you are not playing my sort of game.

I am looking for this thread to see how games can be improved by at least reducing die and coming up perhaps with new more effective ways of helping to replicate real fog of war rather than simple arbitrary die rolling.

Bolingar03 Aug 2023 3:41 a.m. PST

I am looking for this thread to see how games can be improved by at least reducing die and coming up perhaps with new more effective ways of helping to replicate real fog of war rather than simple arbitrary die rolling.
Actually an excellent topic for a separate thread. Do you want to start the ball rolling? I suggest first defining exactly what fog of war is, then the extent dice do or don't represent it, then other ways of representing it.

Now I remember we did do it, here. Any fresh angles?

UshCha03 Aug 2023 12:26 p.m. PST

Bolingar,
To be honest that thread degenerated quickly into die vs no die on combat. It failed utterly to get a grip on the fact that many "populations" are Normally distributed from tree heights in an area, to the variation in size of a part that is ostensibly made to the same size on a machine tool so die arguments lacked any statistical appreciation of what the variability was and why even at a very basic level.

It also got mired in the CBA (Cant Be Arsed) to do it properly, die are more fun debate. To some folk One armed bandits are fun but not for me, an utter pointless system stacked against the player winning. That fundamentally makes the two types of playing style irreconcilable.

At least the dice less guys are the thinking type who want a credible game not an expensive one armed bandit system.

I find it interesting that I have met folk who want the appearance of fog of war but not real fog of war. Half of a war game is making sure you are minimising the fog of war by scouting and preparation. You cannot do that against a purely random roll. The Romans sometimes got ambushed not by fog of war but by arrogance of not scouting. Now the CBA types want a die roll. Me I want to do it properly. If I underestimate my opponent it's on me not an arbitrary die roll.

The random unpredictability of large numbers of statistics is valid. Roll 5000 D6 and look at the variation from the mean, it is small and statistically significant outliers are quite small so by and large the result is surprisingly predictable. How do you argue for a mechanism that does not operate that and how and why the laws of physics and statistics have become undone. Waving of arms does not count as a reasoned argument.

If I had any new ideas I would put them up, but at the moment I have not. Hopefully somebody will come up with ideas I have not thought of or have not tried.

pellen03 Aug 2023 3:05 p.m. PST

I believe Reisswitz got the idea for his dice-based combat from the Austrian wargame by Opiz designed in 1760 but published in 1806 (Das Opiz'sche Kriegsspiel, link even if the dice in that game were used in a quite different way. There was one other pre-Reisswitz wargame that I know of that used dice (Het Strategisch spel, link , from the Netherlands, but also published in translations for French and German; Prussia gets all the credit for early wargames, but they were developed all over Europe).

A few years after Reisswitz there was another Austrian that made a game called Strategonon, published in 1830 (http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=431599). It did not use dice. In fact the author begins the rulebook with a long rant about why he believes wargames should be deterministic. OP would probably approve of much of what it says. The rules are also not entirely unlike what OP's game looks like I think (both use a grid, both have tables to determine losses… but they differ in many details).

Having played a few of the deterministic 19th century wargames I enjoyed them more than I expected to. I still prefer dice, but I found when there is enough complexity in a game that there is no way I can predict what will happen on future turns that works quite well as a "randomizer" much like dice would and can make battles surprisingly chaotic.

Bolingar03 Aug 2023 10:40 p.m. PST

@UshCha

Half of a war game is making sure you are minimising the fog of war by scouting and preparation. You cannot do that against a purely random roll. The Romans sometimes got ambushed not by fog of war but by arrogance of not scouting. Now the CBA types want a die roll. Me I want to do it properly. If I underestimate my opponent it's on me not an arbitrary die roll.
Agreed.

@pellen

A few years after Reisswitz there was another Austrian that made a game called Strategonon, published in 1830 (http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=431599). It did not use dice. In fact the author begins the rulebook with a long rant about why he believes wargames should be deterministic. OP would probably approve of much of what it says.
So the dice vs no dice debate is two centuries old. Nice to know I've raised up an old and venerable standard. ;-)

I still prefer dice, but I found when there is enough complexity in a game that there is no way I can predict what will happen on future turns that works quite well as a "randomizer" much like dice would and can make battles surprisingly chaotic.
Yes! yes! yes!

Gamesman604 Aug 2023 1:05 p.m. PST

Another thing for me is that dice tend to be incongruent and break immersion. The process of rolling dice as fun as ut can be doesn't feel or aid in immersion. At least as we generally use them.
Though some of the more memorable moments in games came from a simple opposed die rolls… but then there were no modifiers etc. It was simple quick rolling and what made it memorable was when certain runs lead to fighers seemly having God's in their sides.

But I don't like playing chess much either.

Again we make decisions what is predicable… movement rates premeasuring and what isn't, combat effects, saving rolls morale checks etc.

But then coming back to the first point… I'm not think shoot well, hold it together stand firm… I'm and when I hear people talking or writing… we're thinking, after comparing some charts etc. Roll 6s! Or whatever….

That's why I've focused on things that reflect what the player in role would be thinking or deciding on.
Randomisers then can be designed to aid immersion….

UshCha04 Aug 2023 1:51 p.m. PST

Gamesman6 – while die rolls are less than ideal to me the endless lists for morale checks followed by a die roll really did destroy immersion. DBE all those years ago put those chants ts to shame, DBM was far more belivable as the battle progresses the disorder increases unless steps are taken to reorder. A crude but clear demonstration of the need to stay in control to keep d order to a minimum.

Wolfhag05 Aug 2023 7:40 a.m. PST

Some ideas to increase realism:

Formations: Give payers a reward for using the right type of formations. Like if using a Bounding Overwatch the units on overwatch get some type of bonus for shooting first or activation. If it is a wedge they get better Situational Awareness to their flanks.

Vehicle Spacing: Tactically tanks were kept at least 100m apart. One reason was that if you hit a target you basically have your gun ranged in for any other targets +/-100. So engaging a new target +/-100m from the last target increases your chances of a first-round hit.

Recon by Fire: Some type of abstracted way to spot or get enemy hidden units to expose themselves or shoot.

Pre-Game Recon Report: A report on general enemy force makeup, ground conditions, weather report, etc.

Sound: Put a miniature Blue Tooth speaker inside a building. Link it up to your cell phone and play the appropriate soundtrack for moving, direct fire, small arms fire, artillery, etc. part of the turn.

Tracing Line of Sight: It can be difficult to trace a LOS on a table with different elevations and hills. You can use a cheap miniature wireless camera to place on the table next to a unit to check for a LOS or hull-down position. Also great for taking pictures from a crew position on the table.

Miniature Wireless Camera: link

Wolfhag

Gamesman606 Aug 2023 3:32 a.m. PST

Ushcha it's nkt do much the dice rolling I mind… its how they intrude… I'm rolling dice to get a number to operate a mechanic abstract from the decisions being represented.
I don't like charts either… it feel like I'm calculating tax or something… 😅

That's why I'm more to keeping simple and using dice with out numbers and then having reference materials self contained with other things we have to hand.

Gamesman606 Aug 2023 3:46 a.m. PST

Wolfhag
Indeed… all good things… unpredictability and realistic things emerge when we reduce information on the players increase tempo, which calls for.mechanics that operate at a higher tempo, don't have igo/ugo. Mechanics thataide immersion in the situation rather than in themselves. Having sub units that are not automatons.. uncertainty about effects.

Then other thinks like you say… we used to play Nam games with tapes of radio comma playing then when fire fights happened we played tapes of platoon and hamburger Hill battle scenes.

In lockdown I ran a LRRP game via WhatsApp. And used a sound effects app a vice app to do radio comms.

Of course things are easier if one is nOt trying to run a competitive face to face game..

UshCha06 Aug 2023 12:12 p.m. PST

Wolfhag, to be honest background noise not synchronized to the action s no fun and is not helpful. They don't do that in a simulatort so why do it elsewhere?.

I don't play race track noises when driving my slot cars for the same reason, they are not synchronized to the cars.
Now the better Model railway sound systems sync the sound to the loco so when its pulling hard it sounds like it and when coasting it sounds representative. That I can see the point of.

The first 3 suggestions are pretty vital for any decent set of rules. They are in our rules but I would not crow about it as it's basic common scene like linear ranging.

If a basic set does not get something like that then really its descending into fantasy, nothing wrong with that but again not of interest to me personally.

Bolingar06 Aug 2023 2:32 p.m. PST

Here are a couple examples of deterministic – but not predictable – combat in Optio. Can anyone work out how the second fight goes before scrolling to the end?

UshCha07 Aug 2023 1:07 a.m. PST

Bolingar – Not a complaint, but its not really Diceless. Limited die, still worth aplusding as it is how we would aspire to go, minimal use of the die.

Bolingar07 Aug 2023 1:08 a.m. PST

Thanks UshCha. :-) I use dice if individuals are involved like generals and commanders. I would do the same for a squad-level game

Kenntak07 Aug 2023 6:01 a.m. PST

I appreciate the work you put into Optio, and compliment you on the rules. A few years back I went on a mission to find diceless war games, whether using miniatures or counters. I even tried designing my own games. However, in the end I came back to dice-based games.

For me, the use of dice (or a similar randomization tool) adds an unpredictable element that is necessary in warfare. I have found that more skilled players can better manage the unpredictability aspect. However the degree of randomness can be controlled through various gaming tools, so you obviously don't have to have one roll deciding everything.

In my experience, deterministic battles are simply not as enjoyable, and don't feel as dynamic or "human." Yes, you can sometimes be victimized by unpredictability caused by dice, but that is the nature of warfare. Things that should happen may not. That is why playing a series of games or a campaign is often fulfilling.

There is something to dice rolls evening out in many games. I have had some very enjoyable games where the battle was going one way, and then swung the other way. Some players may not like that. and would want more predictability. I personally love the dynamism that creates.

One thing that changed my mind for good about dice was that over the years, I saw in various games filled with luck, the best players continued to come out on top. For example, in the Mage Knight miniatures game, the same player won the world championship two years in a row with completely different armies. So, it often takes more than just luck to be a consistent winner.

These are obviously my personal views. But dice vs. diceless games are not mutually exclusive. We can enjoy both, even if preferences may lie with one or the other. I applaud you for taking the time to design a diceless game, and wish you luck.

Bolingar07 Aug 2023 6:24 a.m. PST

Hi Kenntak, ta for the good wishes. I've played all kinds of dice wargames (there isn't any other kind out there popularly available) and I understand perfectly the attraction of dice. But I know the thrill of a diceless game where everything that happens depends on the decisions of the players. It's the same thrill you get in chess, go or draughts. If you watch The Queen's Gambit you'll know what I mean.

Optio is a calmer game than, say, Triumph, but it lacks the frustration of dice throws that don't correspond to reality (really not) and that the player has to make a mental effort to rationalise away. Meself I love a game where the unexpected keeps happening but always happens for perfectly good reasons. But each to their own.

Kenntak07 Aug 2023 8:58 a.m. PST

And that's the thing. Diceless and Dice games all have their place. I used to play chess a lot, and that included studying opening moves and defenses. What ruined chess a little for me was how well AI does against players. At least with some randomness, I would have a chance. :)

Gamesman608 Aug 2023 4:09 a.m. PST

The balance between pure variability and unpredictability and determinism.

It seems a lot of the diacussion is on the extremes.

Personally I don't want to playa game where everything is about my decisions unless its a on a 1 2 1 scale and I'm controlling only me.
Combat is about having a plan… adapting to the opponents plan… and adpatining to your own forces application of that plan.

The resolution… as is Resolution and Fidelity. Depends.

At the end of the day… I issue a command.. all I want to know is… was it followed or not. Simple… but what determines that? Working all that out many be important? Possible? Necessary?
And we are always going to encounter thjngs we can't determine as we don't have the infkrmstion what factors determine it and or we don't have the resolution.

What interests me Is who is how to model in an intersting way the ways that subordinates do what they want to do.. Good or bad while having an idea what they should do, roughly and in a way that still gives the player a chance to do something as the "commander" and as the subordinate.

But it's also about the unforeseen. Those are more often the things that stand out and often prove vital.

These are thjngs that I feel are poorly served by most games rules.

arthur181508 Aug 2023 7:24 a.m. PST

One thing to remember about the von Reisswitz kriegsspiel is that – as far as the players are concerned – it is diceless. They do not the dice to determine the results of fire or combat; the umpire does, and reports the outcomes back to the players in terms of what the officers they are portraying in the game would experience and observe.

Adopt a similar system of umpire control with modern wargame rules and you will achieve a more immersive game with 'fog of war'.

Bolingar09 Aug 2023 4:56 a.m. PST

What ruined chess a little for me was how well AI does against players.
I doubt that would ever be a problem with Optio. There are so many choices in each turn that an AI simply wouldn't have the computing power to calculate all the outcomes so many turns ahead, and would be obliged to follow general tactical algorithms – which a player could beat.

Gamesman609 Aug 2023 6:01 a.m. PST

Indeed… things are much "easier" when you run a scenario with players V umpire. Or PVP moderated by though in this case its then about not overloading the umpire/s.

We can also have a PVP if we trust the opponent.

I think a lots of issues Rise from trying to increase verisimilitude in a "game" while also keeping it as something that can be run head to head against an "untrustworthy" opponent.

UshCha09 Aug 2023 11:40 a.m. PST

Gamesman6 Why play and untrustworthy opponent, absolutely no fun.

Gamesman609 Aug 2023 5:00 p.m. PST

I don't but many rules tend towards. Asking systems thag factor it jn. I've also in the past fought enough rules lawyers. 😉

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