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Sunday, 11 January 2009
Empire of the Sun Combat Model
Topic: Empire of the Sun

Design thoughts on what is represented by how losses are distributed to full and reduced strength units. 


Sorry for the delay, but this business year has started at a sprint. This can be an article in c3i and might be at some point, but right now here are the basics.


I cannot emphasize this enough and I know that it causes cognitive dissonance for many wargamers, but geographic position of forces  during an offensive has no, let me say that again, no tactical significance. As Nimitz, you are resourcing an offensive based on JCS guidance (card) and available logistics (activations and range). What you care about is the timing of the offensive (how you sequence the cards), the objectives, and the kinds of forces sent (e.g. mix of carriers, air, surface, and ground forces). Where those forces are on the map to include what they are doing (smothering or involved in the main action) has no game cause and effect relationship. Basically the pieces have to be somewhere and since range via force movement is calculated the location of pieces is mostly a mnemonic to ensure that range calculations are conducted properly.


Just about every 'strategic' Pacific War game on the market or about to be on the market, embeds a mechanism for tactical timing (e.g., first wave air strikes, torpedoes, etc.) and a distinct surface action. I did all of those things in my earlier operational design Pacific War where it was the core of the design. This is based on the emphasis that the available literature places on the big naval battles, which were all carrier battles. But, there were only 6 carrier battles of this scale during the war. The importance of carriers goes way beyond big naval battles handled in EoTS via the air Zone of Influence mechanic. Don't get me wrong, it is loads of fun to re-fight carrier battles, but EoTS as a strategic simulation purposely divorces itself from this misguided hobby tradition.


What the combat model is trying to do, is produce a spectrum of historical losses relative to  your opponents action during an offensive. So for example losing a CVE to a smothering element of an offensive and then hearing that CVEs were not used in that manner, just totally misses the design point. Here I am leveraging player psychology to achieve an historical distribution of losses ala Leyte, without any special rules. In this design, the CVEs are part of the broader offensive and where they are on the map and the dice roll that they are associated with is a mathematical construct to achieve an historical outcome. It is not a statement about historical operational doctrine other than the historical role of smothering operations. I have analyzed every Pacific offensive and the combat system will reproduce all of the historical outcomes in a reasonably painless manner.


The combat system is based on a firepower model that uses effectiveness (total strength) and efficiency (modified die roll outcome) to generate potential damage.  The combat system then uses a hit allocation mechanic to turn potential damage into real damage, but does it to create non-linear outcomes (e.g., inability to score every last hit). The non-linear effects broadly introduce the aggregate effects of air superiority (e.g., carrier and air damage restrictions), doctrine (e.g., JP CVLs), and light naval force losses (e.g., DD losses). It is this last point that bears on the original question that initiated this post.


Every simulation has some level of molecular granularity that you cannot go below. In Pacific War I have individual DD losses, but in EoTS except for a few special small force units (e.g., JP APD Tokyo Express) all of the CLs and DDs are embedded in the larger Capital ship aggregations. One can look at a reduced naval unit as either the loss of one of the Capital ships (e.g,, Yamato/ Mushashi) represented by the piece or the stripping out of the light forces in the piece making the remaining Capital ships both less effective and more vulnerable due to the loss of the screening forces. It really doesn't matter because the full strength/ reduced strength is both representing some loss of capability for a damaged force aggregation and creating a non-linearity for the losses that are realized from any number of applied hits. From a CinC perspective it is a resourcing and force composition issue that is represented by the full and half strength units where the details are below your pay grade to worry about.  


I hope that answers the question...



Posted by markherman at 9:59 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2009 5:19 PM EST
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