Any other Modern gamers ?

Conflicts and wars from the end of the Second World War to the end of the 20th century.
Panzer21
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by Panzer21 » Mon Mar 05, 2018 5:43 pm

The "three levels down" is as stated a real world expression of command intent; as division commander I give orders to my brigade / regiment commanders based on a knowledge of the whereabouts of individual battalions (at least that is how I interpret the historical quote).
By inference, I leave the actual management of those battalions (and their companies) to the commanders of those formations.

In wargames, unless playing a multiplayer game, it is however likely that I will act as both divisional as well as sub-commander of those units, moving, firing etc. The degree and detail of what I am able and / or required to depends on the rules. Player and rule writers preferences (or prejudices) determine the latter.

Napoleonic rules are often pitched at the army level; yet there is a strong urge among players and by extension rule writers to include all the fine tactical details that are considered essential to capture the "feel" or "flavour" of the period. So rules for forming squares, detaching skirmishers are all included. The rationale is given that the miniature troops are being moved in accordance with the will of both army general AND colonel of the regiment, as the miniatures are unable to do this themselves.

So too in tank warfare, things like ammunition type selection and facing are included in rules whatever the supposed level.

The alternative is to reduce such elements to abstract rolls, where the results are interpreted as being due to failure to form square or hold fire in an ambush, but without resolving them through fine detail.
Players often complain that such rules lack "flavour" or detail and don't "feel" like the period they represent.

Neither approach is inherently right or wrong; so much depends on personal preference it's more a case of what works for you.

However I do think the "two down" rule is useful if you are inclined to design rules from top down, rather than bottom up, as it helps focus on where you should be concentrating.

Whatever is designed, you still are dealing with wargamers perception of the game. A model tank can be taken to represent anything from an individual vehicle to a battalion; most wargamers will think of it as 1 tank, even when accepting intellectually that it's a platoon or whatever. Likewise the acceptance of 12-48 figures as a Napoleonic battalion.

Lots of people are happy to accept these distortions, claiming playability or dismissing the possibility that it's anything other than a game of toy soldiers. The only problem I have is when such distortions are trumpeted as "realism". Take for example rules where 10 figures represent a platoon or company; if one of those figures is represented with a bazooka do they represent the concentrated anti-tank capabilities of the unit? If so then it becomes an issue should they become a "casualty" as this represents the loss of all that units AT resources. It obviously requires a certain amount of rationalization to reconcile this.

Is this any different from a very abstract system that allows a unit an inherent AT capability? Both require a certain amount of suspension of belief to reconcile the miniatures to "reality".

I'd argue the only difference is personal preference.

Unless playing at 1:1, scale distortion is something that has an effect on all rules.

I'm not sure I buy the argument that you include facing and ammunition type rules in order to represent the actions of subordinates; at the end of the day that would be all you, acting as both army commander AND unit CO. I'm sure it can be rationalized as representing a competent CO with equally competent subordinates, and when it goes wrong as representing an incompetent subordinate or wrongly interpreted order.

To me this just looks like a control preference; there is a desire to act as both general and lieutenant simultaneously, rationalized as the doctrine of an army or whatever. Not only do you want to conceive a great plan but also site that AT gun to gain defilade. It's often a feature of rules designed from bottom up.

I think it is just as easy to design something that ignores this fine detail;it does however rely on accepting a considerable degree of abstraction.

By contrast, rules aiming to cover operational or grand tactical games subsume the competence or otherwise of subordinates by the results; ordering a brigade of cavalry against an infantry regiment results in repulse (the infantry commander formed square or held fire) or riding them down (they didn't form square). This is determined by a single "combat" dice roll rather than several for firing, morale etc or mechanisms for how long it takes Spaniards to form square.
This however is often too abstract for some or appears to relinquish skill to a dice roll.

Ultimately in many rules it seems to come down to being able to roll a certain number on a dice at a given time; the degree to which this is influenced by either minor detail or accepted as part of a broad brush rationalization is down to personal choice.

Neil

cartfc
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by cartfc » Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:25 pm

I agree with Neil it is possible to abstract out the detail of low level units when playing at a high level. One problem with playing both the General and the lieutenant is it gives too much information to the general about the state of low level units. As Phil Barker pointed out in the designers notes to DBM a real general has limited information about the state of the units under his command. In premodern times it was limited to what you could see and the likes of were the troops advancing, pursuing retreating enemy, locked in combat, being forced back or routing, plus any information you got from couriers. Even in modern times a general would get daily reports on the state of the units, but it is likely only limited information such as if they are fully capable of offensive action, capable of limited offensive action etc. This is very different from the sort of information you have when low level units are played. You know that A company is 2 hits away from hitting its breakpoint or something similar. I have played in a number of high level games and the interest is in deciding when to commit reserves, rotate units out of the line for rest, where to commit army level assets and air support, managing logistics etc.

Cheers Fred.

UshCha
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by UshCha » Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:53 pm

This is the issue. As regimental commander you briefing to your battalion commanders and so on down is that the threat is to the left flank. You would therefore expect all command level to optimize their firepower to the left flank. So as the mover of models you have to set the companies and platoons with optimum firepower to the left flank. You could dice for incompetent company commanders looking right but it seems a poor simulation. However if you as a regimental commander got it wrong and the enemy got round the left flank you c would be in BIG trouble. Thus as a Regimental commander you need to get stuff right and set the sub levels to conform to your intent. Dicing or giving unrealistic arcs of fire because you can't be bothered is no reasonable substitute if you are aiming for plausibility. Otherwise is just becomesgambling. I for one find ZERO fun in gambling.

Seret
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by Seret » Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:20 am

UshCha wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 11:53 pm
Dicing or giving unrealistic arcs of fire because you can't be bothered is no reasonable substitute if you are aiming for plausibility.
I don't think anyone is suggesting that though? The point is that if a single model represents a whole platoon then it can reasonably be assumed to have its arcs of fire covered, so that's not something you need to represent in a game at that figure scale.

sediment
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by sediment » Tue Mar 06, 2018 9:55 am

I think dicing for successful orders is quite an elegant technique for deciding if your subordinates follow your orders, do their own thing or cower in the bottom of their trench. It's all about deciding on the chance of your subordinates doing what you ask, converting that into a score to succeed and then rolling the dice. As an example, your NATO tank troop wants to advance around the flank of an advancing Soviet tank battalion. It needs a less than 9 on 2d6 and rolls 8, so follows the order. The Soviet commander is aware of this and orders his battalion to wheel towards the threat, needing a 7 or under to succeed and rolls an 8. His troops can't see the threat and think the old man is off his rocker or the command net is down. Next turn NATO have a free hand provided they get the order to fire. You could add modifiers or scores that result in unexpected heroic actions or fleeing in terror to add to the complexity and friction of war.

Works for me at these higher levels of command.

Cheers, Andy

Panzer21
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by Panzer21 » Tue Mar 06, 2018 8:05 pm

As I read the current debate, it seems to come down to either complete control of sub units to the lowest level or imperfect control leading to an inability to predict with absolute certainty how they will act.
These opposing views are then compared to the real world.

Assuming my reading is correct, both views are capable of being correct; it rather depends on your viewpoint and interpretation of facts. Likewise gaming will reflect this view.

I've played both; unless it's so chaotic as to be completely unpredictable I would argue a certain absence of control is preferable as it gives a better game. I used to play a lot of Command Decision and sometimes it was very predictable, which while intellectually satisfying, became "chess-like".

These days I tend to concentrate on high level games; things like facing are dealt with by use of zones of control. A lot tends to become abstract, you give orders to sub units and these determine their success in movement and usually combat.

Neil

Seret
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by Seret » Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:24 pm

Panzer21 wrote:
Tue Mar 06, 2018 8:05 pm
I would argue a certain absence of control is preferable as it gives a better game.
I agree. I also think it gives a more realistic game. Real commanders operate with limited control over events. Command and control needs to suffer from friction, or you aren't really playing a game that's anything like actual war.

UshCha
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by UshCha » Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:13 am

Seret Wrotr
I don't think anyone is suggesting that though? The point is that if a single model represents a whole platoon then it can reasonably be assumed to have its arcs of fire covered, so that's not something you need to represent in a game at that figure scale.
The problem here is in most rules the unit faces forward and is given a very wide arc of fire and often an unrepresentatively small frontage. Both need to be better represented then repositioning a company or higher to sn unsticipated threat is going to take some time.


On the command I am always in favour of some friction. We only allow frictionless command if very close (sight or sound) and no use of radio,

Friction is always an interesting isssue. We have found that is is often not needed as dreadfull dice roles. You can get into trouble if you put the bridge layer in the wrong place, send too may units down a single road and somtimes if have no idea when the enemy is going to stop and re-group. However we have had it said, folk would prefer a dic throw to the actual real thing as avoidinbg it required thought,

Seret
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by Seret » Thu Mar 08, 2018 11:12 am

I'm actually not a big fan of the whole "dice for orders" model of friction. I much prefer games where you've got a pool of command resources that is somewhat random, but where you can try and allocate the resource you do have in accordance with some kind of plan. Examples of that would be Chain of Command at the low level and Rommel at high level. The whole "dice to activate" thing is just a bit random and discourages players from trying to actually work to a plan. Instead you end up just doing whatever has the highest chance of succeeding on the dice roll.

cartfc
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Re: Any other Modern gamers ?

Post by cartfc » Thu Mar 08, 2018 7:43 pm

We have used dicing to activate for some years in PBI. Never found you don’t need a plan, quite the opposite. You have to think carefully what your command assets are going to do, because the best chance of getting the troops to do stuff is when the commanders are in close proximity.

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