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Have you ever had all the advantages in your favor, more of everything, and lost it all with a bad die roll? That has happened to me quite a few times. It always bothered me, but even more when I began playing games by mail and later email.
You aren't there to see the die roll, but you get the message telling you that your well-thought out plans are going nowhere. Of course, they have die roll simulators and random number generator programs now, that take away the 'he cheated' feeling. Still, it bothered me a lot.
What if the outcome of a battle could be based on realistic things like your decisions, deployment, tactics, terrain, weather, and support? Suppose that a whole war could be done that way. I began to work it out for a game I loved and was playing at the time by snail mail. That was a long time ago. It worked then and it is still working today.
Of course, it does require a moderator/referee to be the most effective, keeping some decisions from the enemy so as not to influence his choices. My game design, WW2 The Big One, uses this system and I am the moderator.
Defender deploys his forces in left, right, center battle area. He can put units like artillery and transport or others in the rear. He sends the attacker his unit list and their deployment indicating if he has air or naval gun support. To the game master, me, he sends his choice of tactic to use for infantry and tanks. He also sends how many of his Command Points (sic) he is investing in the battle.
The attacker then deploys his units also to left, right, center, and rear. He answers the message of the defender,sending to him the unit list and deployment, including any air or naval support available. To me, moderator, he too sends choices for tactics and number of points to be used.
The Command Points are used in the game to reflect the 'focus' of high command and players on the various battles that are going on. Each Tactical Officer begins the game with 5 points. So too the Operational Commanders begin with 5 points. The OP Commanders can lend points to Tactical Level to use in battle. So a TAC officer has his own plus any loaned to him from Command. Each point can only be used once per turn, so how many points used in a battle indicates how important it is.
As referee, I compare the tactics used and some are worth an advantage when compared with others. Usually attacker or defender gain an advantage based on tactics. I then compare the points invested and this usually finds one side higher, and they gain an advantage. Possibly one side will gain two advantages, from tactics and points.
This is done for each of three engagements, left, right, and center. Each action is settled separately, beginning with the defender's left flank. The objective of the flank actions is to see if an advantage can be earned or denied the attacker for use in the center battle. If he wins on both flanks, he has two advantages to add in to the center, main battle.
There is a list of 45+ possible advantages that a player could win, such as more units of a given type, air support, naval gun support (more of each), terrain, weather, time of day, and so on. Once the flanks have been resolved, the players compare their center situation. Always, the player with the highest total advantages will win the battle.
Long story short, it works. The winner gains a Command Point for later use, and the loser gets one deducted from his total. When a city changes hands, the OP Commander wins a point too.
Each player has a list of possible advantages and can clearly see each one. The randomness comes from the secret submission of tactics and points per action. Air action and naval action are done the same way, seeking advantages versus an enemy air or naval tactical officer.
http://ww2thebigone.webs.com Game site. Get the rules and play for free.
Don't like rochambeau, and a simulation pretty much requires EXTERNAL randomizers.
Mike you say "What if the outcome of a battle could be based on realistic things like your decisions, deployment, tactics, terrain, weather, and support?" but you miss out the randomness inherent in war. Napoleon and all his opponents and contemporaries knew this. They all understood that the resort to war involved letting random factors enter outcomes. That was the main reason most of them were all reluctant to resort to it. Several overwhelming favourites ended up coming last when the randomness of battle was resorted to.
There has got to be some type of way of representing "complete goof-ups" in combat. A bad dice roll does this nicely. However, the old micro game "One World" uses something similar to rock, paper and scissors instead of dice rolling. I think they called it blade, stone and fog or something like that.
I guess some people like that "if only" feeling. Even with the advantages system, there can be player mistakes. For instance, not knowing or failing to notice advantages that your opponent does pick up on. Overlooking your supply situation can cause a planned attack to be denied. Pre-planning a loss followed by an overwhelming counter-attack can ruin your opponent's day. In counter-attacks units are added to the original battle group.
My system isn't perfect, but in the hands of clever opponents, can be an eye-opening experience.
Incidentally, I'm now working on a re-write of the game; making it into a full play by email alternative. No dice again, but adding in full political rules in the form of Cabinet on one side and War Councils on the other. Politicians compete with each other for political points in order to take control. Each headquarters will be a team of officers. Decisions, rather than die, will make the difference in the outcomes. Teamwork and planning. Ready 2018.