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computer assisted wargaming : a dead idea or time to resurrect ?

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This topic contains 76 replies, has 17 voices, and was last updated by  limburger 1 week ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 77 total)
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  • #1414496

    limburger
    Participant
    7416xp

    @phaidknott radios aren’t perfect … I think one of the issues during Market Garden had to do with radio equipment (the wrong crystals or something? Or was that only in the movie?).
    The Dutch definitely had issues in early war as the radios they had didn’t have reliable power sources (low quality/primitive batteries, outdated equipment).
    Then there’s the Soviets who had no radios inside their tanks, so they had to use signal flags.

    In modern combat you get the exact opposite : information/data overload. Plus this is were ECM and ECCM start to affect communications, which effectively means you’re back to pre-radio era … although the effect is probably more at the abstract strategic level as opposed to the miniatures scale tabletop.
    Remember : just because you can talk to units at the other side of the battlefield doesn’t mean you’re getting accurate and reliable info. It also won’t guarantee the commanders is going to do as told …

    Wether is or isn’t a market probably has a lot to do with a bit of luck and marketing.
    The programs I’ve seen so far have been hobbyist projects at best. That might explain why they have gone the way of the dodo, because if no one knows it exists it is next to impossible to grow the market.

    There probably is something at the professional level, but that sort of stuff is probably classified and definitely not suited to hobbyist/recreational use.

     

    #1414518

    phaidknott
    Participant
    2821xp

    Been able to find out more info on the Follow the Eagle rules so fondly remembered (by me). Alas Dave Watkins who wrote the program passed away some years ago. FTE was probably one on the first Computer Assisted Wargame Rules out there (apparently it started in 1986 and was available on the Sinclair Spectrum, then Atari ST, and finally in a PC version) and formed the genesis for later products such as Carnage and Glory and Iron Duke (indeed Nigel Marsh who wrote Carnage and Glory was introduced to them here in the UK and bought a copy and a Sinclair Spectrum here in the UK (only to have the Spectrum blow up due to the differences in domestic voltages in the US). To buy a computer just to run a set of wargame rules really shows how much of an impression it made with players back then. I was running it on an old Atari ST with a dot matrix printer and we got through BOXES of cheap printer paper (the stuff with the holes down the edge and it was a continual ream of paper rather than individual sheets…which would have been a pain) over the years we used it. Alas my ST eventually broke down and no second hand ones were around and so it just faded away from use in our wargaming group.

    I never knew these rules were so “old”, and coming out in 1986 it would have been a real ground breaker. After 20 years of development time (and moving from platform to platform), it really shows how this must have been a labour of love for Dave.

    I did meet him a couple of times at shows running a game or two (although he never really sold the game at shows), which is where I first came across the whole concept back in the early 90s. Alas we’ll not see these great set of rules available again

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 1 week ago by  phaidknott.
    #1414544

    chaingun
    Participant
    1808xp

    @phaidknott do you remember those produced by English Computer Wargames? I used to play Blood and Iron for my old 10mm ACW figures on my old Amiga, until I got in to Rebel Yell.

    I’ve spoken to Nigel Marsh several times before I had the chance to play in his edgehill game, he is a jolly nice guy with lots of enthusiasm for what he does.

    #1414577

    limburger
    Participant
    7416xp

    wow … that really must have made an impression.

    Never mind having to haul a heavy tv just to play the game.
    One can only wonder what would have happened if this game had been developed with modern tech in mind.

    OTOH … it’s likely to have been a computer game as opposed to the mix of minis and software it was.

    #1414619

    phaidknott
    Participant
    2821xp

    English Computer Wargames? It rings a bell, but not sure if we tried any of those rulesets (can you remember the name of the ruleset to see if that triggers anything?).

    HOWEVER, I have put in an order for Carnage and Glory and the ACW one (I also want the SYW/AWI one, but that will have to wait a few pay days more) after being reminded of all this with the show report from Historicon (apparently it’s all via dropbox these days, so no need to wait for the postie and things arriving from overseas….see another advantage of computer assisted rules…distribution is a breeze as there’s no physical product to ship 😀 ). I’ll have to have a looksee and a few mini games with a brigade each side to get a feel of things, and perhaps a few phone calls to my old wargaming buddies and we might be digging out the 15mm Naps that have be dormant for far too long 🙂

    #1414634

    chaingun
    Participant
    1808xp

    @phaidknott from memory it was as I said Blood and Iron 2.

    I have both the Carnage and Glory ECW & ACW versions, unfortunately I’ve not used them yet, but if your local then maybe we could learn together.

    #1414639

    onlyonepinman
    Participant
    10437xp

    My personal view on this is that no matter how good the technology gets, I don’t really want it. I love tabletop games because they don’t have that technological element, I like the humanity of the experience.  Your mileage may of course vary but for me this isn’t about whether it is possible to do, it’s purely about whether I want it and honestly I don’t.  I don’t like it in boardgames either, I don’t use the App for Star Wars Imperial Assault, I want to play against a human opponent.

    #1414652

    phaidknott
    Participant
    2821xp

    It’s not just the fact that it’s replacing charts and dice rolls, it’s also the fact that they can introduce elements not usually seen with pen and paper rulesets (for example the fog of war aspect where none of the players actually have the full information about the units during the game).

    I don’t think any of the ones that currently exist for the historical games introduce an “AI opponent”, so you’re still playing against another player (or players) as normal. You could use them to play a solo game against yourself, but that would be in the same way as you would play a wargame solo with pen and paper rule sets.

    The Apps you refer to are more a player aid than rules themselves (although the Imperial Assault app adds some basic “flowchart” mechanisms for the GM for playing the game solo). Because the rules like Carnage are Glory are in great detail, you just couldn’t add a similar system for a Napoleonics game (so apps like these are just for boardgames). But who knows in the future I guess….

    But it’s almost like a sub genre for tabletop gaming, it provides a “style” of gaming that’s not for everyone (not every player would like the idea of not knowing how the mechanics work because they like to be able to calculate the possible outcomes as part of the decision making process). But for players who enjoy the “refight” of historical battles (where you start the battle as things were historically at the start of the day and then see where the game takes you), or want to play a fictional campaign (with tactical battles linked into it) these rules can provide exactly what they are looking for in trying to recreate the battles of the day (and the real life difficulties the commanders had to deal with that you just can’t model with pen and paper rules).

    #1414663

    ghent99
    Participant
    2846xp

    So I think computers are already getting involved.  One place they can have an impact,just like with Rpgs, is to keep track of units.  We already use list builders, I like them and love them for at the game and use books at home, and with a simple expansion they could handle other details for the units easing paper work.

     

    We have discussed computer games v on the table and they both have a place.  It is important to remember that people need to enjoy their hobby their way.

    #1414675

    elessar2590
    Participant
    8541xp

    I’m not a fan of computer ASSISTED wargaming.

    I am a fan of Computer FACILITATED Wargaming.

    @oriskany and a lot of members of the community play wargames online every weekend. Jim makes everything himself and uses Excel to run the games (Hex and Counter + Darkstar) and they’re a lot of fun.

    I’m not a fan of having to stop what I’m doing on the physical tabletop, get my phone out, find the app then go searching for something. That’s why we have rulebooks so we don’t need our phones.

    #1414699

    oriskany
    Participant
    33899xp

    Thanks for the plug, @elessar2590 .

    A couple weeks ago we have a Darkstar game with you in Queensland, plus spectators in the UK and Canada.  Four countries, three continents.  500 point game knocked out AND RECORDED in five hours.

    Do that without computers.  😀

    After we were done, I built a table.  Built a Waffen SS Army.  Built some new units for a British and a Wehrmacht Army.  Went to bed.  Played another game with this board and units with people in the UK and Kansas.  Total time from starting to build the table to finishing the game with new armies: 16 hours, six of them were sleep, four of them were trasnatlantic gaming.

    Do that without computers.  😀

    As far as what I think @limburger is talking about, I am a fan of computers insofar as database management for game prep.  Scenario design, list construction, etc.  I’d rather not have one open at the table, although I sometimes do for charts, reference pdfs, etc.  Never for RNGs or resolution.  That’s what dice are for.  😀  Just me.

    #1414890

    beccas
    Participant
    182xp

    I’m not interested in combining computers and tabletop gameplay.  I like the good old feeling of chucking dice and putting out status tokens.

    I’ll just use my computer for PC wargaming.

    #1415042

    limburger
    Participant
    7416xp

    Computers are notoriously bad at RNG unless you’ve got the kind of RNG used for encryption.
    As such I wouldn’t recommend them as a means to replace dice rolls.

    The database/management aspect is definitely something that plays to the strengths of what a computer can bring to the table.

    And like the rules of games in an ideal situation the presence of a computer is not noticed.

    #1415067

    tarrox
    Participant
    234xp

    @limburger the RNG of PCs is more then enough for games and a lot of other stuff, the times of bad rng ended like 20 years ago (Also Operating systems have rng sources that are basically true rng). The main problem is programmers using stuff the wrong way which leads to problems.

    For Encryption the reason why better RNG is needed is due to attacking vectors and prime generation. And even then there are cryptographic secure pseudo random number generators. But for gaming Mersenne Twister is more then enough (there are even worse ones which would also be more then fine). Or to put it bluntly you couldn’t differentiate between real rng and pseudo rng in the context for gaming. Even slot machines use pseudo rng and everything is more then fine (although funnily enough they have to cheat slightly in favor of the player otherwise no machine could legally be operated).

    So this argument has no merit from a theoretical or practical standpoint. I hear it so often, especially when it comes to rolling apps, but it is simply wrong. The real problem is possible cheating by having an app that allows you to cheat, but that is a different can of worms.

    Also I am pretty sure the avg dice used in war gaming is worse at creating good rng then any pseudo random number generator (except for the small electronic dice thingies, don’t use them, they are just bad). Not to forget all the time that people throw dice in a way that does not creating nice random results.

    #1415069

    limburger
    Participant
    7416xp

    @tarrox you’re right … it usually is down to silly mistakes (like always initializing the RNG with the same value).
    However I think people still would need to have a piece of mind.

    If the dice are ‘cursed’ then you replace them (or maybe you want your lucky dice).
    You have no such options in software.
    And then there’s the act of rolling the dice, which is extremely satisfying.

    This is why a flashy UI is not to be underestimated.

     

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