Post by stevelortz on Jun 10, 2011 20:23:58 GMT -9
Earlier yesterday (it's the wee small hours of the morning here now, and I'll have to go to bed soon), I wrote a post on a thread where Sam Moss solicited feedback on his Into the Fray design. After giving it some consideration, I realized the things I had written were too far off Sam's intended topic of ITF, and I deleted my post to put up some more relevant material...
...but not before gilius got hooked on MY topics.
So I'll reproduce on this thread tomorrow certain of the thoughts I deleted from Sam's, and then we can ALL go at it!
One Saturday back in the early fall of 1971 I was sitting in the cube that had been assigned to me, along with three other students, in the Nuke School barracks on the Naval Training Center at Bainbridge, Maryland. It had been a big, open bay barracks during WWII, but it had since been divided into four-man cubicles by partitions. Each cubicle contained four beds (two sets of standard issue bunks), four lockers, four chairs and a round table.
The barracks was nearly empty, most of the guys were out enjoying the day off by drinking or chasing skirts. My cube mates were gone, but I was at the table reading a book about the naval battle of Lepanto in 1571. I was having trouble visualizing as I read where particular ships were located, so I took some 3X5 cards, cut out some crude ship counters, put names on them, and maneuvered them around the tabletop as I read.
A classmate walking down the passageway stopped and came into the cube when he saw what I was doing.
"Oh, you're a wargamer, eh?" he asked.
"Whuh...?" I replied.
So he took me down to his cubicle and opened the doors to his locker. There was hardly a uniform in the thing. It was stuffed full to the gills with curious boxes. The boxes contained maps with hexagon-grid overlays printed on them, and hordes of colorful, small cardboard chits. The boxes had titles like Blitzkrieg, D-Day, 1914 and Waterloo.
That was my introduction to involvement with wargaming, an involvement that continues to this day, an involvement that has always been closely associated, at least for me, with studying military history.
Last month I finally finished the bachelors degree I should have finished forty years ago. The degree wasn't in history, but I had some hours to kill last semester, so I took History 3470, The American West. Each of us had to write a paper worth 50% of the semester grade, so I chose to write about an incident that occurred at the battle of Buena Vista on February 23, 1847. At one point in the fight, the 2d Indiana regiment of volunteers fell back in disorder... or "absquatulated", as folks would have said during the Civil War. My thesis was that the regiment fell back, not as a result of low morale, but because the regiment's colonel gave a faulty order in a form that the regiment's officers and sergeants couldn't understand.
My prof liked the paper so much, he offered to help me get it published in an historical journal, if I wanted to pursue it, so I'm still working on the paper, even though I've already graduated.
A couple of weeks ago, I found an online version of Winfield Scott's Infantry Tactics, the manual of field regulations that were in effect during the Mexican War. By studying it, I was able to document exactly what the colonel of the 2d Indiana did wrong, and exactly how he did it, which confirms some educated guesses I had made in my original paper.
THEN... day before yesterday... Sam Moss posted some questions for people who had read and playtested his Into The Fray rules. Apparently some had expressed confusion over his use of the terms "squad" and "troop".
And it ALL came together.
As I re-studied Sam's Into The Fray, I realized I was doing the same thing as when I was studying Scott's Infantry Tactics, and even misunderstanding the use of the word "squad" had a tangential role to play in coming to grips with the error of the 2d Indiana's colonel!
I gotta go do some other things, more later...
Have fun! Steve
Last Edit: Jun 11, 2011 5:28:14 GMT -9 by stevelortz
Post by stevelortz on Jun 11, 2011 16:26:17 GMT -9
Every rules writer worth his or her salt recognizes that there are times when a military unit will fail to do what it is supposed to do, and even times when it may simply run away from a fight. Most games include a system to gauge the morale of various units, and give odds for how they will behave under different circumstances. Are the systems that we design "realistic"? Are they worthwhile in game terms? How does a failure of morale manifest itself in figures on a tabletop? These are some of the questions Sam Moss is wrestling with regarding his "Mettle" system for Into The Fray. I want to get into this, but I'm spent for the day. I don't have the stamina I used to have.
Post by cowboyleland on Jun 11, 2011 17:34:12 GMT -9
Your paper would also seem to suggest that a leader's ability to give clear orders (or not) should have an effect on troops nearly as great as moral. In Song of Blades and Heroes the troops have a quality number that is boosted by having a leader near by, but there is no distinction in the quality of the leader.
On the other hand, maybe it's the herd that is crazy.
Ah, the power and value of original historical source material ! You cannot have enough of it ... and the brain spark at the right time. Congrats, Steve, it's very rare and hard work to find the key for unsolved riddles of academic History.
I think, the Colonel of the Mexican War failed his "Command" check.
I remember some rules (for Civil War gaming ? Had to search my HD for this ...), where complete command chains are simulated, with sometimes very frustrating, even funny (but deadly) effects on the battlefield. Misinterpretation and shot/hesitating/delayed leaders/messengers are all considered by the rules.
Further you have the overall Attack/Defense/Movement/Range powers of the troops, which could be boosted or diminished by Quality, Weaponry and Morale. A good leader could boost the Morale and hence combat effectiveness. Troops suffering leader loss or cracked morale because of heavy losses/shellshock/frightening enemy etc. should lose combat effectiveness, fall back, get into disorder, retreat, flee etc.
Another parameter is Quality-dependent Exhaustion. Exhausted troops may stand the enemy flood, but they are too tired to advance, attack or move etc.
And of course all those situational modifiers like Pinned, Flanked, Trapped, Terrain, Weather, Magic, Special Weaponry etc.
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