It is useful to understand some of the parameters, algorithms, assumptions, and approaches in wargame design. Occasionally game designers will share these, most often they don't. So called "Design For Effect" school designers are perhaps the most reticent in this regard. But it would be worthwhile to compare and contrast approaches to various kinds of issues that budding military historians, game designers, and more than a few of us curious players are interested in.

COMBAT ADJUDICATION, WEAPON POTENTIALS, AND TERRAIN EFFECTS: The granddaddy of OA application. Nearly everyone has to come up with an OA model for this function. And we're all interested in how this was done and what calculations/assumptions/validations went into it.

TERRAIN, WEATHER, MOVEMENT, AND UNIT AGILITY: Not often considered but often just as important is how movement is thought of and how well units can change direction. There have been a few attempts at modeling this to various levels of fidelity--traffic jam rules in Bulge games are one example, but some may remember units taking up various "road space" in SPI's hoary old LOST BATTLES and Jack Radey's KORSUN POCKET, which complicating things. In HIGHWAY TO THE REICH, you had to watch out in what order you moved units as stacking limits applied during the ENTIRE move--overstack even temporarily (commonly moving a piece over a stack during movement that created an overstack...albeit you piece intended to move on...) and everybody got disrupted (shades of Patton directing traffic). Impacts of terrain are also not a "given" and we've seen games take a number of approaches to it.

STACKING. This rates its own discussion. How much physical space does a unit take up before clogging itself (and others)? How do you determine this?

ZONES OF CONTROL USAGE. Some games have tried to address this (ZOC "links" in CAMPAIGN FOR STALINGRAD, among others). What leads designers to pick "locking" versus "fluid" ZOCs, and why have ZOCs at all?

COMMAND AND CONTROL. We began to see games treat this a little more seriously in the 1980s--what are the analyses that leads to the various systems we now see proliferating in games?

LEADERSHIP AND MORALE. What leads to comparative "ratings" and assessments between cardboard warrior leaders? Between units?

SUPPLY AND LOGISTICS. Where this is covered in some detail, what are the calculations that led to rules to govern unit/capability sustainability? What could be simplified? What couldn't be? We all know how detailed CAMPAIGN FOR NORTH AFRICA was, but in KORSUN POCKET you had to watch your artillery OCS games supply is critical and explicitly managed, even if abstracted. You have to create dumps and forecast consumption well ahead of time when contemplating operations....

Don't know how many game designers/developers will frequent this group discussion, but I'd hope a few. In the meantime, when group members flip through designers notes in games (old and new) that seem to provide insight into these subjects, it would be worthwhile to post them here to "prime the pump" as it were. And if you have game designer/developer/playtester friends who are into this, please send them here....

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You say you have this database (in pdf form)?
Jon I can't replay below you I must have nested too deep (lol).

Yes I do have all 5 in PDF form. 10 -14 megs each. My email client only does 10 megs.

I have another idea but it would have to wait till weekend. PM me and I'll send you my email and we'll work something out if your interested.
Do you have Gmail? I'd be happy to send you an invitation if you don't. The maximum attachment size is 20 MB, and that should work.

No I don't have a gmail account. I think I have too many as is. What I am planning on doing is putting the files up on a hosted server. That way it's easy access for all that would be interested.

One thing of note about the HERO stuff the actual statistical database part is flipped so it's easier to see printed (you just turn the page then in electronic format).

Also a friend of mine and I may create something to make it easier to view. Again these cover a lot of pages of text (I have only printed off the Eastern Front ones and it was rather massive) 1600-1973 a lot of good info but you have to cull it out to make it make sense.

Will keep you posted (you may have to jog my memory from time to time) lol
BTW, Joseph Miranda and I usually present at the War College seminars at the Strategicon Conventions in LA. This Memorial Day weekend I'm going to present a design analysis of our Advanced Millennium Wars, States of Conflict design. If any of you are in the area, it's be great to see you there.
For years I have been trying to create a company level game system for low density battles in a Nordic environment (WW2), and with focus on realism. While much is more or less in place, like command rules and sequence of play, I have got stuck on something as basic and central as the combat mechanism and Combat Result Table.
On division scale there is such a lot of men involved that you can make a decent statistical analysis of possible outcomes, and on squad level they are so few that the situation is manageable. But when I have tried to get some order into the combat results when two companies or battalions make a clash I repeatedly get stuck in a lot of diverging details and never get any satisfactory result...

The scale would be mainly company units with platoon sized steps. Time scale would be 4 - 10 hr turns with 8 - 12 operation points to spend on movement, combat etc. Hex size would be 1 - 10 km

In the combat system I would like to reflect unit properties like fire power, unit cohesion, unit quality and fatigue, battle properties like position advantage, battle modes (like fire, maneuver or assault or something like that) and the environmental influence on the battle.

My question to you, Gentlemen (and maybe women?) is, do you know of any games that handles this in a reasonably realistic way, that I could take inspiration from? And is there anything written about OA on battles of this scale, that I could make use of?
Well off the top of my the old SPI Highway to the Reich covered a lot of what your referring to.
The problem with realism in such a game is that it leads you down the path of trying to quantify the issues you are referring to (fire power, unit cohesion, quality, etc.). When you put numbers to each of these you will run into some very specific issues: how did you quantify it, based upon what data, was the analysis technique valid, etc. But there's also a temporal issue. Designer's often quantify such things as unit quality, but in reality, the quality level was A. not constant, and B. not known ex ante. So in a sense, by including these things, you are actually removing a fog of war layer from the player experience, while creating layers of complexity.

Now that said, it all depends upon what you are trying to accomplish. If you are trying to show the actual quality (etc.) variance of the actual units as a historical referent, that's cool. On the other hand, if you are just trying to add these factors as stochastic modifiers to the combat result, you're talking about a separate approach. My personal opinion is that much of this can be incorporated into a minimum of hoop jumping. I think games like Wacht am Rhein 2 (for instance) try to add a lot of that sort of thing, but ultimately are making me as a player do a lot of extra work, all just so I can flip a counter over. Does it "feel" more realistic? Not really; it just feels like a lot of extra work.

So my personal advice here is to strive to make the player's decisions realistic, not the crank he has to turn to get a simple result to a combat. Can you provide more detail on how you're thinking of incorporating these elements, and what specific ancillary issues you are encountering in constructing the CRT?
Hello Jon
I see your point and I'll try to explain why I would like to handle all those factors as separate entities, and we'll see if my points do make sense.

"Gamish" issues:
a) In the theaters that I address (Norway, Sweden and Finland north of Ladoga) there were seldom distinct front lines. Instead you'll usually see a number of columns advancing along roads separated by forests or mountains. This will lessen the amount of maneuvering the players can do. Instead I thought I could make the individual battles more interesting by adding details and player interaction to them.
b) I have no thought on publishing this game system on a commercial basis. It is for realism buffs like me. (In fact I think it will most likely be used as a tool for me when holding game master led war games, were the players only have organization charts and maps, and a general idea of how it works, while I take care of the mechanics - we do such things now and then at my local club) Still I admit that this is no reason for adding complexity that doesn't result in a higher realism.

Realism issues:
I would like to use this system in creating what-if scenarios, where I could hope to achieve at least some feeling for what could have happened. As I haven't got any historical result to compare with, and no big statistical database on expected outcome on battles of this size in this environment, but a number of detailed battle descriptions (from Norway and Finland), where I can see a lot of the mechanics of the battles at work, my thought was to be able to build a system from bottom up. That is, to use the mechanics of battle that I can see in my examples and generalize them, put in some parameters and voila! A battle resolution system where I can put in unit quality (training, experience and doctrine), firepower, terrain and selected tactics and some other stuff, and get a plausible result in terms of losses in manpower and unit cohesion, retreats, fatigue and demoralization.
There is a lot to this and I realize I have to do simplifications, but I guess I don't know where to start really :-)
Okay, buried in the posts above is the Dupuy HERO introduction, posting a new thread for all to see. All in all 5 volumes.

Part I


HERO Summary and Introductory Materials
Part One: Wars of the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries
Volume II: Wars from 1600 through 1800

Part One: Wars of the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries
Vol. III: Wars from 1805 through 1900

Part Two: Wars of the 20th Century
Vol. IV: Wars from 1904-1940

Part Two: Wars of the 20th Century
Vol. V: World War II, 1939-1945;
Campaigns in North Africa, Italy, and Western Europe

Part Two: Wars of the 20th Century
Vol. VI: World War II, 1939-1945;
Campaigns in France, 1940, on the Eastern Front, and of the War Against Japan. The 1967, 1968, and 1973 Arab-Israeli Wars.



In this report prepared by the Historical Evaluation and Research Organization (HERO) for the US Army Concepts Analysis Agency, HERO has compiled data on 600 major battles of modern history from the beginning of the 17th Century through the first three quarters of the 20th Century, and presented this data in a combination of matrices and narratives. The matrices comprise seven tables which present all of the significant statistical data available on the battles and show how major factors of combat have influenced the outcomes of these battles. There is a concise narrative for each battle, which summarizes the principal sources consulted in the research for that battle. The data, information, and analysis are a presented in Volumes II-VI, as follows:

Volume II: 1600-1800
Volume III: 1805-1900
Volume IV: 1904-1940
Volume V: 1939-1945
Volume VI: 1939-1973

Introduction to Final Report
This study was performed by the Historical Evaluation and Research Organization (HERO) pursuant to Contract MDA903-82-C-0363, for the US Army Concepts Analysis Agency (USACAA).

The purpose of this study was to undertake a comprehensive analysis of the factors that have significantly influenced the outcomes of the major battles or modern history, commencing with the Netherlands' War of Independence and the Thirty Years' War, and continuing through the Fourth Arab-Israeli War of 1973, to develop a matrix of significant factors concerning conflict as they relate to battle situations in past wars.

The 500 battles and engagements which are included are described and analyzed in Volumes II-VI and have been arbitrarily divided chronologically into two parts and five roughly equal groups, as follows:

* 1600-1800 Part One: Wars of the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries
Volume II: Wars from 1600 through 1800
* 1805-1900 Part One: Wars of the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries
Volume III: Wars from 1805 through 1900
* 1904-1939 Part Two: Wars of the 20th Century
Volume IV: Wars from 1904 through 1939; the Russo-Japanese War, the Balkan Wars, World War I, the Russo-Polish War, the Spanish Civil War, the Mongolian and Manchurian Incidents, and the Russo-Finnish War.
* 1939-1945 Part Two: Wars of the 20th Century
Volume V: World War II, 1939-1945; Campaigns in North Africa, Italy, and Western Europe.
* 1939-1973 Part Two: Wars of the 20th Century
Volume VI: World War I1, 1939-1945; Campaigns in France, 1940, on the Eastern Front, and of the War Against Japan. The 1967, 1968, and 1973 Arab-Israeli Wars.

It will be noted that the majority of the battles and engagements included were fought in the 20th Century, and that about 30 percent of the total number were fought in or since World War II.
Part II

The authors of this work recognize that there has been no military historical effort of comparable scope, even though the need for such a work has long been recognized. The closest thing to such an effort is the massive Kriezslexicon of Gaston Rodaart (Vienma, 1908) which -- while including more battles, and also a large number of sieges -- made no attempt to provide as much detail on the battles as does this work; its statistical contents are also less than completely reliable. Nevertheless, the authors of this work must acknowledge their substantial debt to Bodart and his Kriegslexicon; it was consulted for most of the battles which we have included through the Russo-Japanese War.

In reviewing what we have done in preparing this report, it is obvious to the authors that the value of the work -- both historically and for purposes of military analysis -- can be substantially enhanced in the future in the following respects:

* There is a need for inclusion of all the important battles that contributed to the outcome of any significant war that we have included (and possibly a few minor wars that we have overlooked). The reason for this is that it is not possible to make an overall assessment of the war itself, or even its campaigns -- as opposed to the individual battles we have considered in detail here -- without being reasonably certain that the whole picture, quantitative and qualitatively, is available to the analyst.

* There is a need to review the contents of this work in terms of types of operation -- including such specialized operations as river crossings, mountain warfare, and operations in desert and arctic regions -- to be sure that the contents reflect a suitable sample of actual historical experience in all kinds of operations. Again,, the analyst will be able to benefit if he has assurance that the coverage of any specialized type of operation is truly representative, and reasonably comprehensive.

* There is need for a substantial sampling of wars and battles before the 17th Century. This is not just for reasons that might be considered pedantically historical. Rather, it is perceived as a service to analysts who are interested in war as a human experience, from -which important insights, and even lessons, can be drawn. Again, such analysts will have more confidence in the results of their work if they be certain of the universality and comprehensiveness of their data base.

* Possibly most important, there is a need for the most thorough, rigorous, and critical review of the contents of this work as herein presented. What we have done here has been based upon a truly massive research effort, but the work has been carried out in a very short period of time, considering the nature of the subject matter. We know there are sources which, when located, will enable us to fill some of the gaps, expand and correct some of the narrative details, and thus some of the analytical assessments, as well as to be more precise in our statistics.

This latter point is an important one. We do not wish either to be overmodest or to claim too much. We know we have -- within strict limitations in time -- produced a work of which we can be proud. We are equally aware that the combination of those time strictures and our own limitations has resulted in a work that is less than perfect. We hope it can be perfected, and thus we welcome all responsible comments, suggestions, and criticisms.

The one person most responsible for the strengths of this work is HERO's Executive Director for Research, C. Curtiss Johnson. Next most responsible is HERO's former Vice President, now retired, Grace P. Hayes. Other staff members who have made significant contributions are: Brian Bader, Arnold Dupuy, Michael Eisenstadt, Gay M. Hammerman, Paul Martell, Edward Oppenheimer, Brendan Rehm, Richard G. Sheridan, and Charles R. Smith. All of us are indebted to the secretarial staff that has helped us put this together, including Alane A. Fraser, Robyn Lucas, Virginia Rufner, and Mary Stolzenbach, and to Vicki Stumpf, HERO's Executive Director for Administration. The undersigned admits his own substantial contribution to the details, the concept, and the organization of this work, and assumes full responsibility for it.

T. N. Dupuy
Col., USA, Ret.
Are any of you attending the Thursday session of the MORS conference in New London?


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