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"Same ruleset, very different wars, very different games" Topic


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ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2024 6:40 a.m. PST

In writing a blog update of games I've played over the last month, I was struck by how the single ruleset we use most ("Bloody Big BATTLES!" aka BBB) has kept us entertained for 15 years playing very different historical games from very different wars:
link

I know BBB is far from unique in covering a wide range of wars – ancients rulesets routinely cover 1000s of years of conflict – so I'd be interested to hear from others who have had similar long and happy relationships with a favourite ruleset that constantly produces different games.

Equally interested to hear from those who have been disappointed by rulesets that try to do so, and why.

Equally interested to hear from those who prefer a dedicated ruleset per narrow period or specific war, and why (presumably mostly to do with capturing some particular characteristic of the given conflict?).

Greylegion11 Mar 2024 7:34 a.m. PST

That is very good to know. I've never played them.

Durban Gamer12 Mar 2024 3:58 a.m. PST

Lots of nice maneuver room with those 6mm small units!

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2024 2:16 p.m. PST

Bet you liked the Otavi game, DG!

Yes, small scales are the way to go if you want room for the game to move (unless you are blessed with a 12' table and 6' arms). Wall-to-wall 28s may look spectacular but it limits the tactical options.

Decebalus15 Mar 2024 6:18 a.m. PST

I am still fascinated how DBA produces different games and an absolutely different feeling because of different armies. The change of the few unit types gives a huge difference.

We played mostly the ancient times of the foot soldiers, i.e. greeks, macedonians, romans and carthaginians. Playing with Spear, Pike and Blades in DBA gives the feeling of solid battle lines.

Than we build armies for the late medieval times. Longbows, knights, pike gave another feeling of big successful or unsuccessfull charges.

Now we are building biblical armies. Again, chariots combined with low quality auxilias are a very interesting matchup.

I know, many players find DBA bland. But i think these simple rules, with always the same troop types, but different combination give very different games.

TimePortal15 Mar 2024 6:44 p.m. PST

Back in the 1990s, I designed a set of rules using DBA mechanics. The force options included 15 unit armies up to 30 unit armies. The Larger force actions were similar to big battle actions. Also allied coalition forces could be fought as well.

The background was future wars to far off planet battles. We called it Distant Orleans Battles.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2024 12:09 p.m. PST

Different rules for different armies within one rules set will produce a different feel to the resultant games.

The underlying assumption with any one rules set covering multiple wars and historical periods is that there are commonalities universal across war during those time spans. There are some rules that cover hundreds and thousands of years.
I am not sure that is a reasonable assumption if there is a desire to get a 'feel' for distinct periods of warfare.

A different 'feel' to different games within a single rule set isn't all that unexpected if you add or subtract mechanics. The question is "So what?"

Is there something with those changes that game experience indicates other than producing a different feel to play?

I decide to give all units in the Union army repeaters in 1864. That will produce a different 'feel' to play. And so?

pfmodel16 Mar 2024 6:22 p.m. PST

One issue with "one set of rules to rule them all" is scale. A 30th year's war battle is typically a lot smaller than a latter Napoleonic battle. Even within the Napoleonic period early battles were smaller than latter battles. If you design a set of rules for Leipzig, then Marengo will be a rather small affair. On the other hand ancients achieves this by not focusing on historical battles and going for ad-hoc hypothetical games using points. That may work and is something I have been thinking about this last few days, mainly in the musket and pike era. I want to build up at 7 years' war force mix and was looking at specific rules for the period, but I now feel I should just use my favourite Napoleonic set of rules. To give me some variety I will look at a 10mm force mix using a different basing system.

UshCha18 Mar 2024 2:32 a.m. PST

To be honest I think it says more about the clientel than the rules. Modern warfare is complex, the diffrence between a company of Tigers and a company of Shermans is very diffrent yo a company of Brirtish Line infantry in the Napolionic period, Hell tanks were not around in the Napolionics wars so a universall set at any reanonable scale of detail is a failure from the start.

If you vary the details then by definition its not a universal set but a set in which huge tracks need to be re-written for a specific time operiodon, i.e a period specific set of rules. Try getting Napolionic artillet to shoot 15km.

Calling for artillery in WW2 by radio using Vehicle drawn guns oe even SP guns is vastly diffrent to calling for artillery in a Napolionic game. Thus if its the same rules you are going to get one of them horrendouly wrong. Guns in WW2 can be moved at proably 15mph average. Horese drawn proably walking pace given bad roads etc. So at even big battle scale that is a factor of 6 minimum.

Now if the clentel and there are many of them, who are more interested in the painting of a multitude of period, are not that interested in detail or the history, then a bland inaccurate set of rules may be a good compromide in that you get to move figures, not have to think about wildy diffrent speeds of movement as you have a "universal set" and have a pleasant game.

If you are more interested in the History, the command and control structure and speed of responce and the changes in tactics forced on the protagonists by changeing technology then a universal set of rules is most unappatiseing.

Now some basics may be universal, our own rules addressing crest lines of hills and who shoots first at one level is universal as the terrain is to some extent similar. However as I understand it the Maize area cultivated by the plains induians in the US weer not the same as the ACW maize fields so present diffrent tactical issues.

Similarly logistics for Napolionic battle especially Big ones will to a large extent be defined by logistics, these are wildly diffrent to the Logistics of say D Day.

Hence as a game a Universal set will have a perfectly valid appeal to certain gamers while not being suitable for others.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2024 6:59 a.m. PST

Guys, thanks for elevating this to a higher-level discussion of the meta-questions behind the phenomenon of rulesets covering multiple different conflicts.

I suppose there are some underlying eternal verities about the application of force in time and space. These are then moderated by technologies both physical (weapons, vehicles, comms, etc) and social (systems, processes, organisations, drills, etc).

To a certain extent, the ways technology moderates the force-time-space equation can be handled with a +1 or -1 here, +/-3" range or movement distance there, a column shift or two for particular interactions of tactics, terrain, etc.

So long as movement is limited by the speed of man or horse, communications similarly constrained (or to LOS with flags etc), and weapons to relatively short ranges and low rates of fire, I suppose there is sufficient commonality for a common ruleset to work.

Once we get internal combustion engines, armour, radios, long-range and/or very destructive weapons, smoke, mines, flares, and a ton of other stuff, it gets harder. A basic common rules engine may still work but for sure we will need more and more different or additional special rules on top of it.

I may add that ours is certainly a discerning clientele that knows its history – BBB is definitely nearer the Military History corner of the "Wargame Triangle" here:
link

UshCha18 Mar 2024 8:45 a.m. PST

To be hones your triangle is wrong as a premise, at least from my standpoint. Fun and serious are synonymous, for me a non serous non history game is no fun at all, ergo the triangle is incorrect. The anti-detail obsession is one I have never understood.

Incorrect detail is a bad thing, be it big details or small detail so that is a none starter in logical terms and there is a lot of the latter in many games.

However but insufficient detail is even worse. You need to know a lot about a tank its HP to weight ratio, more critical than top speed to see if it can even make it across certain terrain and sets its actual speed over the ground in most cases, not some theoretical max top peed.

Armour at least for a tank is critical, Front hull and Turret, Side hull and Turret and rear hull and turret are critical. It critically sets the tactical need in defense for Protection of say the hull.
Similarly anti-tank defenses will attempt to hit the most vulnerable spots shooting from flanks wherever possible if these are the weakest sections. This shapes the ground where the defender will chose to fight so is critical.

This makes this data critical as it impacts the highest levels of command. Hence perhaps your Universal is not as credible as you first thought.

Certainly in the early days The Phil Barker ancients games editions (I started at 4th through 7th and DBM). They do not perform well against contemporary army's the over simplification (not fast play as some like to call it) fails to adequately discriminate between contemporary opponents as the categories are excessively broad, a huge anti Historic compromise.

So in answer if you are on the side of game not History, then a universal set may be appealing but certainly I do not see fun compromised in a decent period optimized game.

On the contrary an over simple game is not fun but as was noted Bland and not fun.,

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2024 8:47 a.m. PST

To a certain extent, the ways technology moderates the force-time-space equation can be handled with a +1 or -1 here, +/-3" range or movement distance there, a column shift or two for particular interactions of tactics, terrain, etc.

Really. Does a +/-1 or 3 do all that--represent all that?

So long as movement is limited by the speed of man or horse, communications similarly constrained (or to LOS with flags etc), and weapons to relatively short ranges and low rates of fire, I suppose there is sufficient commonality for a common ruleset to work.

So, how do you know/suppose that? On the face of it, that is quite a sweeping statement across hundreds of years.

UshCha18 Mar 2024 9:50 a.m. PST

My last post seemed a bit harsh in retrospect.

I think the universal systems have an appeal to certain folk. For me the appeal is less than none. However I study a single period for a reasonable length of time (Moderns for at least the last 15 years exclusively) and my time is spent on "history" and playing/preparing games. Painting is a very small section of my wargaming time.

Now if most of your wargaming time is spent painting and covering a wide range of army's over a wide span of history. your available time to study detail in one specific period will be massively reduced compared to folk such as me.

So there may well be a spot for some universality of rules for the less informed players, they prefer to spend more time on other aspects of the Hobby. That this is the case is at least anecdotally covered in a recent thread on taking wargaming seriously.

There is a huge spread of folk who have different priories, game, to History to painting. This will I feel significantly shape the appeal of a "universal" set of rules.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2024 4:32 a.m. PST

"To be honest your triangle is wrong as a premise": I'll give you that one, UshCha. It should be that there are three different dimensions a game can excel or fail on. Conceivably, the same ruleset might be the best ever in all three dimensions: most historically accurate, most entertaining game mechanics, most exciting competitive contest. (Or, equally, it could be rubbish on all three counts.) Our corner of our club does best on the historical dimension. As the other two dimensions are more subjective, I suppose the other corners of the club are having just as much fun as us but in a different way.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2024 4:39 a.m. PST

[… can be handled with a +1 or -1 here, +/-3" range or movement distance there, a column shift or two for particular interactions of tactics, terrain, etc.]
"Really. Does a +/-1 or 3 do all that--represent all that?"

[… I suppose there is sufficient commonality for a common ruleset to work.]
"So, how do you know/suppose that"

Hi Bill, I was talking in the abstract. Some things are just a matter of degree and can be handled that way. A +1 or +3" or a column shift are likewise changes of degree. They may or may not be correctly applied to a given case, but that's a different question. In principle, yes, they can work: degree represents degree.

Other things are not quantitative differences (degree) but qualitative differences, a capability that did not exist before. They change the nature of warfare and require a different rule rather than a tweak to an existing one. Submarines. Indirect fire. Radios.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP14 Apr 2024 10:39 a.m. PST

Hard discussion to have because we don't know what rules are.

I have a definition. Mine is not better or worse than anyone else's. But you can't really have a deliberate conversation if the definition changes post to post (including different posts from the same poster).

For me, rules are the deterministic statements that establish relationships among the static and ephemeral characteristics of the entities in the game based on orders (player decisions) give to those entitles.

This means that unit stats (static characteristics of entities that represent combat units) are not "rules".

So, any set of rules can be expressed as a linear algebra matrix. This may not be the most efficient or useful way to express them, but it can be done. So any two rulesets can be combined into a single matrix, and reduced if you like.

You can make a ruleset as universal as you like. You run the risk or making them awkward to express or to understand.

This also separates rules from scenario (specific sets of characteristics for specific gaming events) and meta-game elements (player behaviour outside of issuing orders). You certainly could encode any of those things in the same way you encode rules and combine them with the rules. That leads to the larger matrix that keeps walking toward awkwardness.

Because stats, scenario, and meta-game elements can be kept orthogonal to rules, I prefer to keep them separate and allow them to act orthogonally.

Our QILS rules were written to focus on a sparse set of dynamics – maneuver, a few categories of combat, environmental effects, and basic C2 – which allows the rules themselves to be learned quickly and statted out for different dynamics, thus able to cover a large number of different types of warfare, with other elements being handled in scenario or meta-game.

This means that instead of having reams of rules for different circumstances, you only design elements for the things that will appear in the actual game you're playing.

UshCha15 Apr 2024 1:18 a.m. PST

The point is technomogy changes the whole precept of war. We rightly stopped our rules at 2010. Now bits are still relevant today. Older tanks than 2010 are still being used. However our own rules would not accomodate the compete change in warfare with the arrival of vast numbers of drones and anti drome warfre. They would not be universal say with a napolionic game.

Ergo perhaps withing certain technological limitations some form of commonality is possible, we can do WW2 with till 2010, however the rules are on a similar base but radios are less prevalent so the communications are by the old system and the new radio so there are still elemwnts that are not universal. The rise even towards the end of our opertional period of digital communication changes the face of battle considerably and new rules and tactics apply.

So what is the definition in detailed terms, of a universal set of rules?

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP15 Apr 2024 1:45 p.m. PST

Technology is irrelevant to a wargame (and you don't model it, anyway). Military capability is relevant.

A Napoleonic scout and a modern drone have the same functional capabilities – maneuver, spotting, communication, fires. They have differences in performance, which is parameterization, not rules.

A drone moves faster over various types of ground than a dismounted scout. Then again, so does a mounted scout. It's a matter of the stats you apply within the rules, not making new rules.

If you want, you can create different rules for how different entities move as if they existed in different universes with different natural laws.

It's a great example you gave. I've actually pointed this out to real-world militaries and helped them leverage what they already had instead of piling unnecessary rules on top.

So what is the definition in detailed terms, of a universal set of rules?

No idea. I didn't say you can make a universal set. I said you can make a set of rules as universal as you want. Start with the decision spaces you want to represent, then identify the capabilities you want to be relevant.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2024 12:51 p.m. PST

I find the core assumption in 'universal rules' is that there are core similarities across the centuries, and all that is needed are some die modifiers, range differences, maybe different troops types and scenario rules.

Consider this statement by etotheipi.

A drone moves faster over various types of ground than a dismounted scout. Then again, so does a mounted scout. It's a matter of the stats you apply within the rules, not making new rules.

What are the differences between a 'mounted scout' and a drone? Would a change in 'stats' and not rules take care of it?

It is more than just that the drone is 'faster.'
1. It has a far wider view of the battlefield.
2. What it sees is instantaneously relayed to the pertinent soldier/officer.
3. Terrain is no hinderance to the drone's movement.
4. Whatever the mounted scout sees has to be delivered by riding back to wherever the pertinent officers are.
So, terrain, time delays, and what can be seen is quite different.

A change of rules can't be avoided if the designer is interested in portraying one or the other type of surveillance depending on the original rules.

It also ignores the empty current empty battlefield and fast moving tactical situations that simply aren't part of a pre-20th century battlefield.

To equate the scout and drone in some way as an intelligence gathering effort would miss ALL the characteristics of the two types of reconnaissance and their role and limitations on the very different battlefields. The same argument could be made for such differences between WWII and today, nearly a century away.

Consider all the rule sets that cover the entire 19th century and beyond, the assumption being that tactics and operations were the same from 1800 to 1900… with the typical differences in weapons and replacing withdraws with going to ground. The Prussian and French tactics in 1870 have some significant differences to 1800 or 1861 that can't be covered with a change in gun ranges and die modifiers IF one wants to portray the particular challenges of a particular era.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Apr 2024 1:36 p.m. PST

Consider this statement by etotheipi.

Perhaps you should consider all the things I said, not just take one thing and critique it out of the context of the others.

same functional capabilities – maneuver, spotting, communication, fires

Everything your list

1. It has a far wider view of the battlefield.
2. What it sees is instantaneously relayed to the pertinent soldier/officer.
3. Terrain is no hinderance to the drone's movement.
4. Whatever the mounted scout sees has to be delivered by riding back to wherever the pertinent officers are.
So, terrain, time delays, and what can be seen is quite different.

is covered in parameterizing the elements I listed:

Communication delay, completeness, probability of intercept or manipulation of the information, failure rate and type, and so on apply to both milieu.

Specifically, 1 is a parameter. 2 and 3 are not true (unless you want to move from technology to magic), and can be parameterized, nonetheless.

If you have one or the other set of rules without a military capability function, then obviously you cannot parameterize it for the other use case. So, if you have a modern drone ISR model that lacks the capability for a garbled message, then you can't parameterize that in for a Napoleonic scout. But if you do, you can.

UshCha19 Apr 2024 3:01 p.m. PST

This thread is getting a bit esoteric. Etotheipi is sort of correct, but to be honest also not being productive in my opinion. We have a universal set of rules that allows us to model any period in history, it's called the laws of Physics. These are universal and by using different data sets you can model all known situations and hence can model any period.

However personally starting from "I think therefore I am and deducing the existence of rice pudding" is not the fastest implementation for a wargame. Yes you could have a huge set of rules and ignore bits that are not relevant (like quantum physics) to a specific period but I would submit its not a useful system. Better to tailor the model to using only a sub set of the rules of the universe as required by a specific model and optimize the data needed to implement the model'than use a more complex model that while more capable universally provides a slower and less optimum solution.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Apr 2024 3:37 p.m. PST

We have a universal set of rules that allows us to model any period in history, it's called the laws of Physics.

Nope, it won't. Mathematical models of physics are necessarily incomplete.

Which doesn't bother me because "modeling everything" is what you say all the time, and not what I said. Modeling things is what I explicitly said not to do.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP20 Apr 2024 9:15 a.m. PST

Specifically, 1 is a parameter. 2 and 3 are not true (unless you want to move from technology to magic), and can be parameterized, nonetheless.

etotheipi:

I did consider them, which is why I covered the same things you did. The bottom line in your post was still the same: A military era can all be parameterized without changing the rules. I disagreed. It invites skewing the history/battlefields to fit what is a single view: the universal rules set.

I suppose real time battlefield information and drones floating above battlefield terrain can seem like magic, but it is still an aspect of a battlefield far different than a 19th century conflict with scouts and runners--helping create a far different battlefield with far different challenges..

Is it reasonable to assume you can create a single set of rules that represent both 19th Century and 21st Century conflicts simply by 'parameterizing' with out changing the rules? I don't think it is reasonable.

The belief that a designer can create "one rules set to rule them all" where everything is the same except some different 'parameters' invites both the designer and players to ignore the very things that made a particular era unique including the military challenges.

I see my military friends do something similar. They insist that the challenges and effects of combat in 1800 are the same in the year 2000. Fear, weapons, training, orders and combat tactics etc. etc. create different demands in behavior, and fears involving death. It does a disservice to history to paint with such a broad brush.

Just a thought.

UshCha21 Apr 2024 12:03 a.m. PST

etotheipi:
you miss the pouint the laws of physics is our best simulation of the world as we understand it. It can be used to simulate anyting we whish to the limit of our current understanding provided we have the data to use with it.

A universal set of wargames rules will use a subset of the laws of physics. How big a subset will be dependent on the data and suibject matter.

A universal set of rules must have the ability to run from a horse to a least an 80 ton tanl with 800 Hp. A Typical early period war will only cover 8 horsepower typically, hence using a universal rule you have to hav inputs for a wider range of data than is required. However you could use a subsert of your universal rules but Ego the sub set is not a universal rule set but a subset. so at least from an engineering stsndpoint that would be classed as period specific. Ego a universal set is not usefull.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Apr 2024 4:06 a.m. PST

I did consider them, which is why I covered the same things you did. The bottom line in your post was still the same: A military era can all be parameterized without changing the rules. I disagreed. It invites skewing the history/battlefields to fit what is a single view: the universal rules set.

There isn't a universal rule set and I've said that many times, so how was that my point?

I suppose real time battlefield information and drones floating above battlefield terrain can seem like magic, but it is still an aspect of a battlefield far different than a 19th century conflict with scouts and runners--helping create a far different battlefield with far different challenges..

You said both instantaneous and real time. Both of those are not possible in the world in which we live. Do your drone communications move faster than the speed of light? Magic, that is.

From a functional standpoint, they absolutely are not different. The message moves from one location to another, in one case, significantly faster. Your instantaneous communication does not represent the real world and misses the opportunity for some of the military challenges in the real world.

But even if you want your magic instantaneous communication, you can parameterize a communication model with the appropriate functions for either case.

s it reasonable to assume you can create a single set of rules that represent both 19th Century and 21st Century conflicts simply by 'parameterizing' with out changing the rules? I don't think it is reasonable.

nvites both the designer and players to ignore the very things that made a particular era unique including the military challenges.

Which is why my starting point was find the military functions you want to represent.

I see my military friends do something similar. They insist that the challenges and effects of combat in 1800 are the same in the year 2000. Fear, weapons, training, orders and combat tactics etc. etc. create different demands in behavior, and fears involving death.

I don't know why this is relevant to your response to my posts. I absolutely said you have to change things to represent different military situations.

I think your broad brush is the belief that there is something like "1800 warfare" and "2000 warfare" and collections of individual unique events.

You may not think it is reasonable, but it is achievable and done every day.

The belief that a designer can create "one rules set to rule them all" where everything is the same except some

Don't believe in this. Never said you can do it.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP21 Apr 2024 4:26 a.m. PST

you miss the pouint the laws of physics is our best simulation of the world as we understand it.

Physics is not one single, unified model. It has multiple models, some of which are incompatible with others. All models are wrong, some models are useful.

A universal set of wargames rules will use a subset of the laws of physics. How big a subset will be dependent on the data and suibject matter.

I don't know what a universal set of wargame rules is, however, no set of wargame rules has to use physics. And very few actually do.

For any transfer function you want to represent (a set of inputs mapped to outputs), there are an infinite number of ways you can model it.

Take the Fourier model. The generalized Fourier transform can map anything to anything else, but it does not purport to represent the "reality" of what happens in the real world to cause the behaviour it models.

Actual engineers who do actual work in the real world use it all the time because it is fast, simple, compact (in a relative sense), and can represent any behaviour you want to any precision you want at any granularity you want.

using a universal rule you have to hav inputs for a wider range of data than is required

Stumped. I have no idea what that means.

I also have no idea what the problem with modeling horse cavalry and modern tanks in the same system is. Neither does any military I have worked it, probably because both have been used in the same conflicts in wars I have fought in.

pfmodel21 Apr 2024 4:45 p.m. PST

I know BBB is far from unique in covering a wide range of wars – ancients rulesets routinely cover 1000s of years of conflict – so I'd be interested to hear from others who have had similar long and happy relationships with a favourite ruleset that constantly produces different games.

Some game mechanics may be common, but i suspect different periods do require different rules.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP22 Apr 2024 9:09 p.m. PST

There isn't a universal rule set and I've said that many times, so how was that my point?

etotheipi:

Well, I certainly could have misinterpreted what you meant, but this was what I was going on:

A drone moves faster over various types of ground than a dismounted scout. Then again, so does a mounted scout. It's a matter of the stats you apply within the rules, not making new rules.

I didn't say you can make a universal set. I said you can make a set of rules as universal as you want. Start with the decision spaces you want to represent, then identify the capabilities you want to be relevant.

So, what do you mean when you write that? Is it reasonable to create a universal set of rules for some extended era or not?

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP22 Apr 2024 9:13 p.m. PST

All models are wrong, some models are useful.

I really hate this idea. It states things in the negative, dissing all models, all simulations. It should be all models can't cover everything, but some work in portraying aspects of reality.

OR

Some models are all wrong, some models are partially right and do the job they were designed for and no models are all right.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP22 Apr 2024 9:19 p.m. PST

I know BBB is far from unique in covering a wide range of wars – ancients rulesets routinely cover 1000s of years of conflict – so I'd be interested to hear from others who have had similar long and happy relationships with a favourite ruleset that constantly produces different games.

Whether a rules set constantly produces different games may or may not have anything to do with history and an era's combat.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP23 Apr 2024 4:23 a.m. PST

Is it reasonable to create a universal set of rules for some extended era or not?

You can create a set of rules to cover any set of behaviours that you can specify.

What's the difference between saying I can model one specific combat interaction between two units, and I can also model two different types of combat interaction between those units in the same ruleset OR I can model one Napoleonic battle, and I can model 17 Napoleonic battles in the same ruleset OR I can model a Napoleonic engagement, and I can model a Napoleonic engagement and a Second Kosovo War engagement in the same ruleset?

The difference is scope, not mathematical possibility.

Looking another way, all your rulesets are collections of orthogonal individual rules. The rule for moving a unit is wholly independent from the rule for having that unit fire. So they operate on independent orders – Move and Fire. If you allow a unit to move and fire, you either have a third independent rule for it (invoked by an independent order), or you execute the other two rules in some series fashion.

What is the mathematical limit on the number of rules you can collect in a set? There isn't one, so it is a practical limit – as many as you want (as many as you put the effort to).

As I said way back at the beginning of my posting on this topic, this can get clunky, or awkward, or some other adjective. Which is the advantage of collecting rules around the behaviours you want to express (the military capabilities) instead of the physical entities being modeled.

So we could collect two rules for moving two different types of unit. Or we could have one rule and parameterize out speed. Likewise, we could have a separate rule for moving through different types of terrain. Or you could parameterize the different terrain types out as modifiers and have one rule. (You could even have that modifier be 0, for units unaffected by terrain, not needing a separate rule to cover their movement.) And you can combine those concepts to create a single rule with two parameters.

You could even parameterize both unit type and terrain into a single parameter (through linear algebra reduction, though you don't really need to use it on this simple a case). That also runs the risk of becoming awkward, so we often stick to two parameters in a table, or on a list on a unit card. That said, implementation of the interface is a fundamentally different thing than developing the core model.

You could reduce all rulesets into a single rule, but that would end up being awkward with a lot of mathematical dead space. For example, if you had only one unit of 25 types affected by a condition (say, terrain) and it had the same effect for all 12 types of terrain, you could do that with a parameter, a big table with lots of zeroes. But generally we don't.

So while there are reasons not to combine rules and parameterize out the differences, it is not mathematically impossible to do so.

What I see in many rulesets is way too many rules. Many of which could easily be combined to actually reduce complication in play without reducing the complexity or granularity of the model.

Which is why i have pointed out to real world militaries that in several cases, they could use their existing rules to add drones to the battlespace instead of writing new rules (which would have resulting in writing more code for most of them).

And I pointed out that they could reduce the number of rules by parameterizing out several communications methods instead of having independent rules/code for them.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP27 Apr 2024 3:08 a.m. PST

"Whether a rules set constantly produces different games may or may not have anything to do with history and an era's combat."

True. I wasn't making any particular claims one way or the other. Though I suppose there is necessarily a connection in that a given plus or minus, or movement or combat or command rating, or weapon range or factor, will all be an attempt at representing some historical combat factor. Whether it is an accurate representation is a different question.

What I originally asked for and didn't get much of back, because of the thread wandering off into the meta-questions, was:
- who's been either happy with or disappointed by broad-era rulesets, and why;
- and who prefers narrowly focused rulesets, and why.

Incidentally, since I wrote this post, we just had a great time going back another century to the Great Northern War:
link

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP28 Apr 2024 7:48 p.m. PST

who's been either happy with or disappointed by broad-era rulesets, and why;
- and who prefers narrowly focused rulesets, and why.

Chris:
We/I did get far afield. So to respond to your questions:

1. I have been happy with a number of broad-era rule sets IF I have no expectations that those eras are going to be faithfully represented, from Command & Colors to a number of rule sets that span two hundred years of black powder warfare. Have a great time playing them. There are rule sets I don't enjoy playing as games.
2. IF I am looking to play games with some historical heft, I find 'narrowly focused rulesets' are a must. To assume that one core set of rules can meaningfully portray warfare across one hundred or two hundred years simply a bridge too far. It may be that I know too much about particular eras, but that has been my experience.

It all has to do with what I want/expect from the rule set when I play it. That is dependent on 1. the designer claims, 2. my knowledge of the era and 3. the game play experience. Guess which rules sets disappoint more often?

Bill

UshCha30 Apr 2024 12:09 a.m. PST

A rules set is reall a set of actorts call them Cubroutines and a design of imputs and a levem of detailed information to go into the "sub routimes".

Lilke Mcladdies I find need a level of fideltie and detail that matches my understanding, or at least my level of doubt and uncertainty". RTo be be playable for mr they need to be tailored to fit the period to be useful. I need to "input" the tank is unbuttoned not a value in some non period specific parameter. My exdperience with wide range rules is that they lump the "tecnnological and treaining" definitions into too wider catoergories, so that period specific diffrences in conteporary protagonists are washed out and for ma in the end makes the experience unrewarding.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Apr 2024 9:14 a.m. PST

The comparison to computer code is interesting, since in a computer, there is no difference between an instruction and a parameter. they are the same and one can be transformed into the other. In microprocessor design optimization, they are.

There is no behaviour that you can express in a rule that you cannot express in a parameterized rule to the same degree of fidelity.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP30 Apr 2024 4:20 p.m. PST

There is no behaviour that you can express in a rule that you cannot express in a parameterized rule to the same degree of fidelity.

etotheipi:

I *think* I understand this pithy remark. On the other hand, maybe I don't. Are you giving a vote to the possibility of universal rules, which can be parameterized to fit any occasion? I'll assume I do, taking a chance…

Age of Empires covers 1700 to 1900, Big Blood Battles cover as Chris says, "Egypt in 1801 via Spain in 1813, the American Civil War, WWI in Africa, to WWII in East Africa – all using BBB!

While I am sure that all the variants rules "parameterized" can provide very different game experiences, at some point the rules have treat such things as movement and firing as the same thing, but with 'tweaks.' I am not convinced that at some point history is lost in the effort to universalize in the name of a single core rule set.

Then again, if players really enjoy a particular rules set, how far can you parameterize before the players actually don't enjoy the core rules experience?

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP30 Apr 2024 4:45 p.m. PST

Are you giving a vote to the possibility of universal rules, which can be parameterized to fit any occasion? I'll assume I do

Instead of assuming, you could read the times I've already said the opposite in this thread.

at some point the rules have treat such things as movement and firing as the same thing, but with 'tweaks.

Can you explain why this is necessary?

I am not convinced that at some point history is lost in the effort to universalize in the name of a single core rule set.

The form of the rule has nothing to do with the way it represents the referent. If a parameterized rule leads to the exact same game interactions as a long list of independent rules, how does it lose the history?

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP30 Apr 2024 8:45 p.m. PST

Instead of assuming, you could read the times I've already said the opposite in this thread.

etotheipi:

Well, for me, the simpkin, it isn't all that easy to digest what you are saying when you write things like this:

The form of the rule has nothing to do with the way it represents the referent. If a parameterized rule leads to the exact same game interactions as a long list of independent rules, how does it lose the history?

We are talking about different eras, often not having the same 'game interactions' or at least shouldn't historically. I am not talking about a 'long list of independent rules', but simply different rules. Some of the problems inherent in creating universal rules are these:

1. A set of game rules can lead to 'reasonable' or 'realistic' results [depending on who you are talking to] when the processes for generating those results have nothing to do with history/reality. [i.e. processes: game play and the decisions asked of players.] So, the question is always what the players are asked to deal with historically during play.

2. Take movement: Games like AoE and BBB have a block of infantry units moving at particular rates, often similar rates across the centuries. [6 to 9 inches being very common] Some of those eras placed particular emphasis on rates of march, in fact not training a recruit until he had mastered walking at a particular pace. Before and after that period, say 1700 and 1940, it wasn't an issue at all. Movement was handled differently--expectations were different. So, the game process is the main issue in representing the period.

3. By themselves that might not be a issue if the units represented are large enough, but the movement rate and HOW troops moved influenced and were influenced by other military practices and necessities of the era. Which means a 'long list of rules' needing new parameters, if not additions.

4. Rules are often 'universalized,' like AoE and BBB because the players like the game system. I know how hard it was to even add a more reasonable skirmish system into AoE [while the original system F&F had no such system] while keeping the system intact. So, the question also becomes how much do you change/parameter the rules before the original attractiveness of the rules are lost?

5. When men have generally walked at about the same rate throughout history, the assumption is that they always move at the same rate on foot with the same obstacles from 1000 B.C. to 2024. A.D. They didn't, not as organized or disorganized units for a wide variety of reasons. Some movement restrictions are seen with heavy, medium and light units as if that were the only issues, or even true.

That is the way I see it. Perhaps you could give an example of what you are thinking of when you say "If a parameterized rule leads to the exact same game interactions as a long list of independent rules, how does it lose the history?"

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP01 May 2024 12:13 p.m. PST

So, again I have never said you can make universal rules. And I have said the opposite.

1. isn't an argument against universal rules. It restates something I said earlier in tis thread, and other places, If you identify a "historically accurate behaviour" you want in your game, there are an infinite number of ways to represent it. I fail to see how having multiple options to get what you want in the game is a problem with any approach.

2. is also not a problem with anything. In fact, it is a great case for parametrized rules representing multiple ears accurately. The first set of movement behaviours you describe is a subset of the second. So one rule with different stats for the different type of unit covers both. you certainly can write separate rules for the different types of movement you describe, but you don't have to.

3. No. The opposite. As described above, parameterization of rules does the opposite of what you describe. You're the one who says you want to have multiple different rules to cover something that can be optimized. Which is fine, if that's what you want. But the fact that you want to write rules that way does not mean no other way is possible.

4. is a different problem – what different people like. People's preferences have no impact on whether or not a set of rules can "meaningfully portray" any specific outcome.

5. again is an argument for parameterizing. Different units get different parameters assigned. In your listed case different base and variable speeds and a different set of terrain effects.

Asking for an example without providing a referent is asking me to guess what you think is important for a specific game. Provide an example, of separate rules for the same capability that you think can't be parameterized and joined. Something like the situation you describe above.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP03 May 2024 9:31 p.m. PST

etotheipi:

Thank you for clarifying your points. Much appreciated.

1.isn't an argument against universal rules. It restates something I said earlier in tis thread, and other places, If you identify a "historically accurate behaviour" you want in your game, there are an infinite number of ways to represent it.

I totally agree.

I fail to see how having multiple options to get what you want in the game is a problem with any approach.

My problem was trying to relate your comment to the issue of universal rules…

2.In fact, it is a great case for parametrized rules representing multiple ears accurately. The first set of movement behaviours you describe is a subset of the second. So one rule with different stats for the different type of unit covers both. you certainly can write separate rules for the different types of movement you describe, but you don't have to.

This sounds like an argument for universal rules of some historical span. I will have to disagree with this. In doing so, boxes are created to stuff the historical issues into. The movement of a 1710 unit without set paces was a different issue, added to all the others. Even then methods based on those issues were different from say 1756. It is more than different 'stats' for movement.

3. No. The opposite. As described above, parameterization of rules does the opposite of what you describe. You're the one who says you want to have multiple different rules to cover something that can be optimized.

Multiple different rules to cover something that can be optimized? We will have to disagree on this point. I am all for optimizing rules. I am simply saying that such an effort can and seems to often lead to missing the history in the effort.

Which is fine, if that's what you want. But the fact that you want to write rules that way does not mean no other way is possible.

If I thought it was 'universally' possible, I'd have no problem with such attempts.

4. what different people like. People's preferences have no impact on whether or not a set of rules can "meaningfully portray" any specific outcome.

No impact? Really? Considering how some people like universal rules 'outcomes' vs those who don't [If I read the TMP comments correctly], I would say it does have some impact on what gamers like. It is true, the success in meaningfully portraying history isn't a like or don't like issue.

Different units get different parameters assigned. In your listed case different base and variable speeds and a different set of terrain effects.

A great example of this 'optimizing'. It assumes variable speeds and different terrain effects covers the issues involved, let alone all the attendant effects on combat and command which will also be 'optimized' down to a limited box of variables. It works sometimes in some places, and in others, doesn't.

Asking for an example without providing a referent is asking me to guess what you think is important for a specific game.

No, just how that works, not about what I think is important as a subject.

Provide an example, of separate rules for the same capability that you think can't be parameterized and joined.

"The same capability" as in movement? 1600 to 1700 there were no paces set, no or early bayonets, movement also involved open and closed formation for firing, which involved troops rotating through four to six lines. The time involved and processes were quite different from 1756 and the SYW. Uniform steps had been introduced, with three ranks of troops in line with bayonets replacing pikes. That is just the differences over 70 years.

Now movement in both eras could be covered by the same number of rules, but to portray the combat issues involved faithfully, optimizing variable movement and terrain effects between the two won't do it. The other way this 'universality' is handled is to go to a scale where units are just big blocks, moving into the operational and away from the tactical altogether… which too has its problems.

I have never said you can make universal rules. And I have said the opposite.

However, you felt I provided a "great case for parametrized rules representing multiple ears accurately."

So, why do you feel universal rules can't be created if I provided an example of how parametrized rules can represent multiple eras accurately? Either they can or they can't. Or you have a different definition of universal rules.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP04 May 2024 5:36 a.m. PST

My problem was trying to relate your comment to the issue of universal rules…

Then you shouldn't have listed it as your fist point on why universal rules were problematic,

This sounds like an argument for universal rules of some historical span.

Rules covering a finite set of behaviours are not universal. So, yes, as I said earlier, if you pick a set of behaviours you want you can make a set of rules for them. "Universal set of rules of some historical span" is an oxymoron – it says the rules are both all-inclusive and limited at the same time.

can and seems to often lead to missing the history in the effort.

Can't comment on this because it is your personal opinion about your view of specific things you have experienced.

I will say that "can" and "often" are different than is different than you initial arguments saying it is not possible to cover multiple different versions of a capability in one rule by parameterization.

As I have said before, anything that you can do, you also can do poorly. The fact that you don't like some other people's rules doesn't mean that it is not possible to write rules that fit your preferences.

If you don't like someone else's rules it is more probable that you don't like their intent rather than they poorly implemented the rules. you think X is important, but they didn't so it's not in the rules doesn't mean it isn't possible to write rules with X in them.

the success in meaningfully portraying history isn't a like or don't like issue.

Well, we will have to agree to disagree. Being meaningful is not an absolute.

will also be 'optimized' down to a limited box of variables

Optimization and parameterization are different things.

Parametrization does not require loss of resolution, granularity, or precision. Neither does optimization.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP04 May 2024 5:51 a.m. PST

1600 to 1700 there were no paces set, no or early bayonets, movement also involved open and closed formation for firing, which involved troops rotating through four to six lines. The time involved and processes were quite different from 1756 and the SYW. Uniform steps had been introduced, with three ranks of troops in line with bayonets replacing pikes.

My expectation is that you will object to my answer to this by bringing up something you didn't say in that paragraph. You also provided on context or constraints for formation changes, so I will have to make some up. I also expect yoi to criticize my having to fill in the blanks on what you were thinking but didn't actually say.

You only provided a vague idea that firing and timing is "different", but not how it is different, so I can't implement that.

Distance travelled is calculated as Base Unit Speed pus Unit Consistency Factor minus Terrain Interference Value.

While moving, units can change formation based on their formation map.

1600-1700 unit
BUS: 4"
UCF: +d3"
TIV road +1"
TIV easy 0"
TIV hard -1"
Open -> Closed; Closed -> Open

1756 unit
BUS: 4"
UCF: 0"
TIV road +1"
TIV easy 0"
TIV hard -1"
Closed -> Closed

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP07 May 2024 10:26 a.m. PST

My expectation is that you will object to my answer to this by bringing up something you didn't say in that paragraph.

etotheipi:

I appreciate your effort when you thought I'd disagree. I really love "Unit Consistency Factor." I certainly could have added more detail and the fact that during this hundred years, armies were transitioning from one form of combat to the other, not at the same pace or final solutions. In other words, the two sets of parameters you have outlined would have to meet on some battlefields, which would involve some more parameters.

And of course, assuming all the factors you provide are meaningful or numbers could be adjusted to better match the data, they still have to mesh with combat and command issues, which mean more parameters.

That brings me to the same question I asked before. Most all 'universal rules' apply such parameter solutions in an attempt to capture the meaningful differences over hundreds of years with one rules set. And you obviously feel such parameters can capture those many differences if your examples are any indication.

So, why do you say universal rules aren't possible? It's like you give all the examples to support the idea and conclude as I do, that it isn't possible.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP07 May 2024 12:11 p.m. PST

And you obviously feel such parameters can capture those many differences if your examples are any indication.

No, my examples encapsulated what you expressed. I agree that there is likely more that is meaningful to people who are looking to represent that type of hehaviour.

I appreciate you living up to my expectations by criticizing the implementation on criteria you didn't specify (and still haven't)

the two sets of parameters you have outlined would have to meet on some battlefields, which would involve some more parameters.

The two units meeting on the battlefield does not require more parameters. Only if you add desired behaviours do you need either additional rules of parameters.

the same question I asked before. Most all 'universal rules'

No, that is not the question you asked before. You stated that it is not possible to represent meaningful behaviours that span (your unspecified, vague) too many years in parameterized wargame rules.

Later you brought up AoE and BBB as examples and now "most all universal rules" (whatever your personal definition of that is), which is irrelevant to whether or not you lose "ALL the characteristics" of the capabilities.

It's impressive that you would use the Red Herring logical fallacy and the Strawman logical fallacy that the same time.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP07 May 2024 12:15 p.m. PST

So, why do you say universal rules aren't possible? It's like you give all the examples to support the idea and conclude as I do, that it isn't possible.

Universal means it includes everything. I never said you could include everything. I said you could include whatever you identify as relevant.

Ignoring the practical problem with writing an infinite set of rules, you run up against Gödelian uncertainty, a fundamental mathematical limit of what you can represent in a model.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP13 May 2024 11:20 a.m. PST

Oyi I assumed that 'universal' was how it was being used to reference rules covering a wide number of eras. That is the way it was being used by UshCha and others here.

Of course, a game or simulation can't include 'everything.' That 'infinity' doesn't need to be repeated.

I never thought you'd thinking "Universal means it includes everything," period.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP13 May 2024 12:36 p.m. PST

So, despite the fact that early on I explicitly put in writing that the idea of a universal set of rules being contained to a specific period is a contradiction in terms, you were surprised that I was thinking a universal set of rules would be universal in terms of the actual definition of the word universal?

I have no idea how UsCha uses words …

I need to "input" the tank is unbuttoned not a value in some non period specific parameter.

When he brought the word universal into the conversation he was talking about WWII tank companies and Napoleonic infantry companies, but he didn't constrain the word universal to that or any other specific set of interactions. He said the problem was that you couldn't include enough detail in a set of rules that covered whatever unspecified interactions he thinks are necessary to represent those things.

Other peoples' use of phrases like "one set of rules to rule them all" also do not sound like they are limiting universal to a specific set of milieu, but rather using the word the way the dictionary defines it.

Aside from that, the idea that you can include the infinite everything for a "wide range of eras" or even the smallest span of time you want to specify is also ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as the idea that there is some "magic limit" of content below which you can write rules and above which you cannot.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP16 May 2024 8:00 p.m. PST

So, despite the fact that early on I explicitly put in writing that the idea of a universal set of rules being contained to a specific period is a contradiction in terms, you were surprised that I was thinking a universal set of rules would be universal in terms of the actual definition of the word universal?

etotheipi:

Yep.

I have no idea how UsCha uses words

Well, UshCha used the word in on post and you responded to it, and until you two used it, no one else had. So, Neither of us were as clear as we thought we were.

Aside from that, the idea that you can include the infinite everything for a "wide range of eras" or even the smallest span of time you want to specify is also ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as the idea that there is some "magic limit" of content below which you can write rules and above which you cannot.

I totally agree. Funny how long it took us to get to this point. [Though 'ridiculous' is perhaps a bit harsh.]

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP17 May 2024 8:15 a.m. PST

Well, UshCha used the word in on post and you responded to it, and until you two used it, no one else had. So, Neither of us were as clear as we thought we were.

UshCha and I (as well as others in this thread) agreed that you can't have a set of universal rules. You're the one who kept bringing it up.

We took that long because you have been arguing that there is some magic limit of content that can bet put in a set of rules.

To assume that one core set of rules can meaningfully portray warfare across one hundred or two hundred years simply a bridge too far.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP19 May 2024 7:24 p.m. PST

We took that long because you have been arguing that there is some magic limit of content that can bet put in a set of rules.

? No, I never suggested that. Certainly that doesn't mean there is no limit to the content that can be put in a set of rules. That sounds very universal…

There is the content limit to play. At some point the amount of content/detail makes the game unplayable. One type of limit.

There is the obvious 'can't portray everything' and so no universality possible.

Then there is the limit to how much historical/reality content is known in the first place. A content limit.

What I have been saying is that when a design covers a large swath of history, the danger is the system painting everything vanilla, so every era is painted as a shade of vanilla to fit, regardless of the 'parameters' that can be added or not. No, actually the 'parameters' themselves can easily be part of that vanilla construct, where every period is just a version of the earlier or later era with a parameter tweak. Doing that lends itself to burying all the spices that make an era unique.

Does that have to be? No. But it is what I see in all the rules sets I have read and played that cover centuries of warfare. That isn't a 'magic' limit. It is a problem I see in representing history/reality.

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