Unexpected terrain

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Uwe
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Unexpected terrain

Postby Uwe » Wed Feb 13, 2013 4:48 pm

We just had an Army representative visit our offices in order to discuss adding unexpected topographical features to the Conflict of Heroes game series. The main topic was that unexpected terrain that is not shown on maps or satellite pictures must be dealt with and decisions must be quickly made. For example, a platoon leader may have set up overlapping MG positions to cover a defensive perimeter, but he did not notice (or can not see) a slight depression 200 yards from the positions through which enemy units can pass unhindered.

So we need to decide how to include these challenges in the game in a manner that will require the player (commander) to have to make quick tactical decisions. They would need to be random, for replayability's sake.

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Whiterook
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Re: Unexpected terrain

Postby Whiterook » Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:39 pm

Now that's a very interesting side to wargaming I'd never thought of!

And I like the random element for replay ability...a must, probably. The first thing that came to mind was, so much depended on Intel, and knowing as much as possible on what to expect for movement, LOS, fire lines, etc., in the field. A barely noticed depression or rise in the terrain at a crucial spot, causing LOS issues can be a very big deal indeed.

Wasn't there an issue at Pickett's Charge where the angle of topography led to walking into withering fire rather more unexpectedly?

How a leader on the field reacts to such an unexpected hinderence can cost lives if not figured out quickly. The stress level must skyrocket, and training and instinct kick-in (or doesn't!). The rapid deployment of not-so-experienced leaders to the field as a world war progresses likely put a lot of leaders in charge that didn't have the toolbox of talent and experience to deal with it.

That too would be an interesting leadership gaming element: Commander experience. I'm not sure I've seen that fully explored.
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Whiterook
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Re: Unexpected terrain

Postby Whiterook » Thu Feb 14, 2013 8:46 pm

For those that don't know who Uwe is......http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uwe_Eickert

I met Uwe at Origins a few years ago and fell in love with his game,
Conflict of Heroes: "Awakening the Bear- Russia 1941-1942".

Not only a fantastic game designer, but an outstanding guy!

Visit his site at http://academy-games.com/
If you can't be a good example, be a horrible warning

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Frizzenspark
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Re: Unexpected terrain

Postby Frizzenspark » Thu Feb 14, 2013 10:13 pm

If I'm not mistaken, there was a fence-line that impeded movement during Pickett's Charge... first by being there, and second by giving troops in the open something to hide behind instead of moving forward...

You also had the beaches at Dieppe which were difficult if not impossible for the supporting tanks to negotiate...

unexpected terrain can affect morale as well as movement
"Why piddle about making porridge with artillery and then send men to drown themselves in it for a hundred yards of No Man's land? Tanks mean advances of miles at a time, not yards.".
Maj-Gen Percy Hobart (1885-1957)79th Armoured Division

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josta59
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Re: Unexpected terrain

Postby josta59 » Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:00 am

Frizzenspark wrote:If I'm not mistaken, there was a fence-line that impeded movement during Pickett's Charge...


Was it a picket fence?
"...military glory, that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood—that serpent's eye that charms to destroy..." --Abraham Lincoln, 1848

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Whiterook
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Re: Unexpected terrain

Postby Whiterook » Fri Feb 15, 2013 6:49 pm

An example of the day was, open area the infantry had to cross was cut across its length by the sunken Emmitsburg Road with a rail fence on its west side and a post-and-board fence on the east. The Confederates would have to climb over or tear down these obstacles while under fire.

In Uwe's topic, would this have been an unexpected topographical feature not illustrated on the maps available the commanders (leaders) in Pre-operation planning, it would have presented a significant problem to the leaders in battle directing their men in advance and defense.

It's a fascinating aspect of the need for a leader to think on their feet, quickly and with some level of experience to prepare them for that situation. One could postulate, where did this experience come from....previous combat experience? Would it not also have come from their training as officers at some point? Would actual field wargames with troops have better prepared the common leader to deal with the unexpected. Is this a viable mechanics component in board or miniature Wargame design, and how would this work?
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Re: Unexpected terrain

Postby Double Deuce » Sat Feb 16, 2013 2:04 am

It could probably be implemented through the use of a type of terrain overlay BUT they would have to be placed AFTER setup so it would not be able to be taken into consideration until units were in place by either both or one side.

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MAGNA
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Re: Unexpected terrain

Postby MAGNA » Sat Feb 16, 2013 9:10 am

A sudden requirement to change your plans / dispositions. This can be annoying for players and sometimes
becomes the basis for argument but for the scenario designer / umpire it's all part of the fun.

This kind of problem is good to intertwine with good or bad reconnaissance.

For example, the players have the option of spending points / fatiguing units according to how much recce they
want to use. This may or may not uncover obstacles or show enemy units according to how much the scenario
designer weights the odds for exploration but does stop any argument dead in it's tracks.

"You had the option of sending units forward to scout but you decided to go by the map you were given so...."

An interesting aspect of gaming and one which is generally not used as time is required. If maps and scenario
requirements can be handed out the week before (for club type gaming) this can be done. It's a matter of
making it simple enough to use.

I would imagine as an aspect of a board or computer game this would be easier to implement and control.

Let's hope we get some more "neglected aspect" subjects as we go. This is good stuff.
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Re: Unexpected terrain

Postby Whiterook » Sun Feb 17, 2013 1:28 pm

Uwe....

Your statement, '......challenges in the game in a manner that will require the player (commander) to have to make quick tactical decisions' got me thinking:

When you (and game designers you may have spoke with on the subject) design your wargames, how do you handle....the player as commander (leader)?

By this, I mean....the usual wargamer has not necessarily participated in military leadership training, or even have been in the military. Yet, in the wargame, they are in fact participating as a commander...a leader of men. Do you rely on the mechanics of the game to guide them through these leadership decisions, and thereby develop the rules with that in mind on some level? Or do you feel that each of us inherently have some principles of leadership capabilities that comes to the fore naturally?

I'm sure some reading this may figure I'm pretty far down in the weeds on this but, I firly believe that as a wargamer, we are at some level making command decisions. Leading, with some level of inner leadership capability.
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Uwe
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Re: Unexpected terrain

Postby Uwe » Sun Feb 17, 2013 11:49 pm

Our original goal was to give young and newly promoted commanders experience by playing these games. A computer game teaches differently than a board game. Both are good in their own way. By repeatedly playing games, the player develops a 'gut feel' that helps him come up with snap decisions in the field. That is why in Conflict of Heroes individual or groups of units are activated and played through until spent. A commander has to segment his attention and time from one demand to the next. It is not all done all at once.


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