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Mark Herman's Wargaming Blog
Sunday, 11 April 2010
How to simulate intelligence failure in an historical wargame
Topic: Empire of the Sun

One of the healthy debates that continues in the wargaming community is what does or does not make a particular game an historical simulation. A challenge that a designer faces is the uneven knowledge across the community on what is factual information or myth based on earlier game designs. A case in point is a key Empire of the Sun sub-system whereby intelligence about enemy dispositions is determined.

 

It should be obvious that if two players are sitting at the same map and moving their pieces that both sides have an extraordinarily clear picture of where the enemy forces are located. Many designs try to handle the 'fog of war' in many ways, but in the end the visual clues of counters, whether real or 'dummy' counters, does indicate where enemy forces are located, but even more importantly where they are not located.

 

As I have predominantly worked in manual games you need to work within your medium. It is an inescapable fact that the pieces on the board have to be somewhere that is visible to both players without creating some elaborate double blind system that tends to bog down play with its resultant feeling of tedium. I look at this issue not as a problem but a feature of manual games and I work with it as a strength if properly incorporated into a design. 

 

When I designed Empire of the Sun I wanted to simulate the 'fog of war' in a very different manner. I went for what I will call the 'empty' map where you see forces, but their location is intended to be imprecise. I see the piece locations as an abstract electron cloud where the precise location of the electrons is only known when you closely observe them at a particular instance.

 

What this means in practical play is once the location of the offensive forces move to an objective fixing their relative location to an objective, the opposing or reaction player then determines where his forces are located for that series of battles initiated by the offensive player. Within this concept resides the ability to have ground forces at the objective despite the fact that the offensive player thought it was undefended or less defended than it appeared when the offensive began.

 

The reason that this is important to a Pacific War design, although it would reasonably apply to any campaign in history, is the historical accounts are replete with examples that the Allies were usually incorrect as to the size and composition of Island defenses. This inability to understand the true nature of the Japanese defenses was an important historical feature of the conflict and one that is simulated in Empire of the Sun. Here is a link to a primary source document that demonstrates my point.

 

http://www.history.navy.mil/special%20highlights/WWIIpacific/Battle%20Experience%20-%20Marianas.pdf

 

If you get a chance to look this document over note this little gem buried in the text. 

 

Pg 74-4: "The enemy ground strength was considerably in excess of what was expected, sizeable reenforcements having arrived in the Marianas just prior to our attack." 

 

This is EXACTLY what is being simulated when you make a reaction amphibious move with the Japanese in response to an Allied offensive. The reality being simulated is the Japanese ground unit was already on the Allied objective before it began.

 

However, mechanically this is hard to do with physical pieces on a board if you execute the historical actions in a time linear manner. What I did in Empire of the Sun is the Allied player in this example is forced to launch his offensive with uncertain knowledge. The Allies are aware of what the potential Japanese dispositions may be at the time of the offensive, but needs to apply a risk profile for the attack and plan accordingly. This is what the real commanders faced during the war. Depending on player style you tend to either accept a great deal of risk or send more than you will need, which is exactly the debate that repeated itself throughout the war.

 

The mechanic in the game reverses the actual sequence of events to hide the Japanese intentions until the Allies are committed to their attack. It is at this time that through the reaction mechanic the Allied player finds out what was really at the objective all of the time, but without the Japanese player having to go through an elaborate paper driven planning process. Let's face it, lots of paperwork is not fun in real life or in a wargame. The net effect of the mechanic is player behavior and thinking begins to approximate what occurred during the war. 

 

<sarcastic mode on> Although as many of the 'experts' on the various boards tell me Empire of the Sun is not a very good historical simulation because of subsystems like this as it is too 'gamey'. So, please note, this historical primary source quote, not their opinion, must be wrong.</sarcastic mode off> 

 

Excuse my sarcasm, but this goes directly to my earlier comment that while we have a solid tradition of debate in the wargaming community many voices in the debate know far less than they really know. But that is the nature of a democracy, so you take the good with the bad.

 

Mark


Posted by markherman at 8:26 AM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 11 April 2010 8:43 AM EDT
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Thursday, 8 April 2010
Washington's War Poitical Control
Topic: Washington's War
Andrew,

Joel explained it elsewhere, but let's see if I can paraphrase:

As long as a space is "open", its leanings in the matter are still open for debate. Once a space leans Tory or Rebel, that crystallizes locals. When you have a large cluster or chain of PC markers that cannot chain to an open area, then that cluster or chain is so crystallized that it now draws military and political attention, especially that it is now surrounded by those of an opposite opinion.

The isolation process, then, is the simulation of those crystallized clusters or chains "going underground" for fear of reprisals.

In other words, it was okay to admit to being a Tory ... unless you were absolutely surrounded by Rebels ... and vice versa.

Brien


This is a reasonable rationale, but I would also add that a community of like political minds needs to be supported. If you have a large group of PC markers that is unsupported by any combat or political figure, it is at risk of folding if assailed by the enemy. The empty space does represent, albeit very abstractly, a situation still in flux, but once hard lines are drawn that community needs to be linked into the rest of the rebellion (counter-rebellion) or its morale collapses due to being isolated from its political leadership.

The way I was thinking about it is similar to Joel's well stated view, but I would put an additional spin on this concept. The American Revolution is at its core a war of ideas. The PC markers are an abstract way of taking a Revolutionary War gallop poll. A group of PC markers in a colony represents this war of ideas and a low level conflict that is pitting neighbor against neighbor. The side that is dominant in the colony has sufficient residual energy to generate a militia on occasion. The political energy of a group of PC markers is either expanding, stagnant, or contracting. If it is still expanding, as represented by additional populace open to the political war of ideas (as represented by an empty space), it continues to gain energy. Once it can no longer grow because it has run up against a wall of political opposition, the issues begin to change. The group needs to begin to govern and protect its community, which requires the trappings of government. This is where many local revolts falter and collapse. Once the exciting moments of protesting and public debate have passed the issues change. The new revolutionaries now have to become a governing body, which at its core is ensuring domestic tranquility and providing for the common defense (you might recognize that last phrase from somewhere). Failure to do so drives the situation in the other direction and morale collapses and the situation is once again up for grabs as simulated by the fact that isolated markers are removed, not converted. 

Looking at it from a game risk-reward perspective, a one PC investment that is isolated is probably not worth the investment to save, but a multi-colony sized grouping starts to represent a major constituency that is clamoring for support and represents a sizable investment in political capital. The value of the investment should draw enemy attention and at this point the investment is at risk unless you invest in actual military forces to support it. For example a 10 PC marker now requires a one card investment to garrison. Failure to do so is a calculated gamble on your part.

Given this is the big picture of the hearts and minds war you have two main tactics to protect your community of political allies. As the Continental Congress or the British Parliament you need to show your constituents that you care about them and support them. This means troops, so sending even one CU solves the entire isolation issue or for the British connecting them to a port and the British navy. Failure to support your 'political capital' as represented by the PC markers puts your people or said another way your level of political support at severe risk.

The other important tactic is the discard for the removal of a PC markers. This is meant to show, as cited in my design notes, the low level combat that was the essence of the war. The ability of a surrounded cluster to put the situation in flux again by attacking adjacent spaces puts the group back into a potential expansion mode that generates another wave of revolutionary energy. 

So remember, especially when playing your last card; make sure that the battle or maneuver that you are planning is more valuable than just removing one enemy PC marker and preserving a large concentration of PC markers. Another similar tactic for the Americans is saving the second reinforcement for a late turn play and just stick a 1 CU army in the middle of a key PC concentration.

Enjoy,

Mark
Last edited on 2010-03-17 06:54:10 CST (Total Number of Edits: 13)
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RPardoe wrote:
asfhgwt wrote:
Sorry, I see no real difference between a cluster of 10 connected cities with a hole in the middle and one with no hole.


Or perhaps this isn't the game for you. Within the rules of the game, there is a difference between 10 connected cities connected to a liberty and 10 connected cities that have none, so I play to avoid that situation if possible. There are events (Declaration of Independance) that do have some risk, so borrowing from Go again - nice to try to leave two liberties for a group of PCs (without military support) to counter these threats.


Note that there is a difference between the Americans and the British in this regard. Trying to use the GO tactic of leaving two MEI (or eyes) is very vulnerable in Washington's War. Unlike GO you have maneuver forces, so if a PC concentration had an empty space, or two, in its midsts, an army could just move into those empty spaces which would convert during the political phase. The new PC just placed is not isolated because it is supported by an army and the surrounding enemy PC markers, assuming that they were surrounded by a set of enemy PC markers would collapse due to isolation. 

The GO mechanic that I used is significantly modified so GO strategy does not translate smoothly into WWR. Think of yourself in the game as the Continental Congress or Parliament. The PC markers represent political constituents who are all clamoring for support. As a group reaches critical mass its voice is louder than the others and if you fail to support them they can go silent.

Mark

Posted by markherman at 7:37 PM EDT
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Thursday, 1 April 2010
More EoTS Discussion
Topic: Empire of the Sun
Phil,
First off this is an interesting discussion, so I am happy to continue, but
understand I do not expect you to convert to the faithful, although at some
point CV may realized that he has been wasting his time with all that English
Civil War nonsense and see the light. I apologize for its length, so CV and
others please ignore this and move on. In point of fact I need to get into a
game of UKC soon as I want to play a good game for a change instead of this
tripe that I have been designing. &#9786;
I want to take your comments in a slightly different order as I think it will be
a more succinct reply although too long by half. You state that you like how
FITS handles air-naval. I agree with that since EoTS does not examine air-naval
combat at the Operational-Grand Tactical level. I think this is a significant
point. FITS, AE, PacFleet, and East Wind Rain are all the same kind of game.
They are one-map Operational level games with some blend of strategic (oil) and
tactical factors (air phases, surface combat phases, torpedoes and the like). 
The reason that these games have an involved air-naval combat set of procedures
is that each of these designs is centered on the carrier-carrier battle. That's
fine, but it perpetuates a wargame myth about the Pacific War that it was
dominated by these kinds of engagement. There were 6 carrier-carrier battles
during the entire Pacific War, four of which are in 1942. As a player I
personally do not like having to play out a tactical battle board procedure
every time there is a naval encounter because of six, albeit very exciting,
carrier battles. When I want to play carrier battles I play flattop one of my
all time favorite games.
On the other hand carriers are essential to offensive operations in the war and
this is their major impact in EoTS. Supporting this is the fact that the Pacific
war was an air war. I continued to be amused and confused by the claims of
accurate PacWar OBs, when except for EoTS they treat the land based air portion
as air points of specific aircraft types. That is an operational-tactical view
of airpower. At the strategic level it is about the 13th AF and the Offensives
they are supporting not abstract airpoints.
When I sat down to design EoTS I wanted a strategic game focused on the Theater
commander level. I wanted to fight a war where the senior leadership gave me
some basic guidance and logistics and let me execute that strategic plan.
Nimitz, MacArthur, Mountbatten, etc. did not deal with torpedo planes, but
resourced offensives. Air-Naval combat is a necessary function that needs to
occur so we can figure out who is winning the war, not the battle. Another
design abstraction is the location of forces is not very important other than
what battle they are committed to. This is very much out of the mainstream and
has confused many, although players did not trust the rules. For me that has
been a big problem with EoTS. Folks do not want to accept what they say because
it is too different from what they expect. And it seems no one can follow the
sequence of play.
So comparing EoTS to any of the above games is an apples and oranges discussion.
They are at their heart different types of designs. One of the unstated
frustrations that people have with EoTS is it is not an operational one map game
masquerading as a strategic game, but a strategic game that eschews lower
echelon decisions. I make no apologies for that as that is what I was going for.
At the same time having someone tell me that they like how one of the
aforementioned games has a better treatment of air-naval combat misses the point
that EoTS does not deal with air-naval combat per se, but strategic offensives.
So, when I see this comment it is no wonder that you do not like EoTS because it
is not the type of game you want to play even though it is a one map Pacific
game.

So given these points, you wrote, "I agree with your assessment. But the naval
portion feels more accurate due to the oil points (which Asia Engulfed cleverly
copied, so what do you think about AE?).

Due to how FITS treats ground combat, which you agree with, I cannot play FITS
anymore and prefer USN over all of the newer games in this genre. I have not
played AE, so I have no opinion, except to say that each time I pick up the AE
rules and see the battle board operational treatment of the war, I put it away
and play EoTS.
I will lump the remainder of your questions into a broad answer. You wrote: "How
about what you see in many games, the Japanese player keeping his reaction
forces scattered? I think it's more of a 1943 issue than later. Is there any
real benefit to keep your forces concentrated?" Usually, Truk is in range
beginning of 1943, after the US has captured Buna and Lae, isn't it? Correct,
but attacking with Navy only is a risky business in 1943 for the Allied player.
I begin to feel that my many attempts to play EotS were not far enough into the
game?

Let's first discuss the history, because at the root of the criticism of EoTS is
the notion that it plays ahistorically. Said another way it fails as an
historical simulation. Obviously I disagree and I also do not care to change
anyone's mind. CVs and others comments indicate that they also agree, so I write
this as an answer to a question, but it is one that I have written to many times
and I expect the same result. Let's take the 1943 set up as an historical
moment.
Truk has 5 naval units and is as large a fleet concentration as the Japanese had
anywhere and at any time during the war. Rabaul has 3 CA and lighter units with
3 more at Kure. This represents the entire IJN in 1943. There are two schools of
thought on the best way to deploy the IJN fleet, concentrated and dispersed. All
I can say is if you go for dispersed (viewed as ahistorical) you will have your
IJN fleet destroyed in pieces and accelerate the Allied timetable whereas
keeping it concentrated makes it very hard to destroy or severely damage until
the Allies get a major delivery of Essex class carriers in late '43 to'44. In my
view, this makes it obvious that concentrated (historical) is the only way to
go, but it is not dictated by the system, you just lose the fleet faster if you
disperse. In my mind historical deployments are followed not due to rules, but
due to desired outcome.
The same situation prevails for ISR where you do not have to segregate your army
and navy assets for either side, but if you do not you will find yourself tied
up in knots. So, again no rules to make you do smart things, but smart things
work much better. As you point out Truk is in range of Buna at the beginning of
1943, but note that the Allies are also under Interservice Rivalry, so they
cannot coordinate the land based air assets with their weak naval assets. This
is the period of time when the Army and the Navy are going their own way, so
Truk remains a viable naval base, but just barely. A design is more than its
separate parts, so it is the combination of command control issues and assets
that prevents the Allies from taking advantage of the situation. Once ISR is
lifted the fleet base is still somewhat secure from direct attack, but will have
its operations hampered by having its infrastructure wrecked (see monograph).
Once this becomes evident it is time to move the fleet back as they did
historically, without any special rules. I wrote an entire article in c3i on the
1943 scenario, so all of the nuances of how to play this scenario well are
available in deep detail.
Regarding PoW victories, they happen, but not once during any of the CSW team
games. I have found that it is a claim made by folks who do not play much and if
you do not know how to respond it can happen. I would also note that I won a
team match while spending much of the war with a very negative WiE situation and
ISR, which supposedly an automatic Allied defeat situation. The real issue is
the morale of many players breaks when they are in this situation, but that just
shows they are wimps.
Mark


--- In perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com, Philipp Klarmann <philipp.klarmann@...>
wrote:
>
> Good points, let me address them a bit.
>
> 2010/4/1 markherman50 <MarkHerman@...>
>
> >
> >
> > We now are descending down into how to play well, which I am happy to
> > address. But it is clear that you have not played in a while. The notion of
> > scattering your fleet to avoid pinning, does not work well in the game
> > because it allows the JP fleet to be defeated piecemeal.
> >
>
> How about what you see in many games, the Japanese player keeping his
> reaction forces scattered? I think it's more of a 1943 issue than later. Is
> there any real benefit to keep your forces concentrated?
>
> > I have no problem defeating a JP player who plays this way, so I'm good
> > with it. What I do is keep three or four concentrations of ships, which was
> > the historical deployment. A Japanese concentration of three or four JP
> > naval units is a large concentration of ships in EoTS and as big a
> > concentration as the JP usually had at any one fleet base like Truk. The
> > monograph I wrote is about Truk, so to avoid repeating what I wrote there,
> > another game myth is Truk. Truk was abandoned by the JP, because it was in
> > range of Allied bombers at the beginning of February 1944 because of its
> > vulnerability to US air power. When that happens in EoTS varies by the
> > situation, but once it does occur you need to move the JP fleet back to
> > Palau, which is what they did historically.
> >
> Usually, Truk is in range beginning of 1943, after the US has captured Buna
> and Lae, isn't it?
>
>
> > The other issue is Interservice rivalry. You can only do the smothering
> > operations that you speak of when their is central agreement, otherwise you
> > cannot coordinate in the same manner.
> >
> Correct, but attacking with Navy only is a risky business in 1943 for the
> Allied player. I begin to feel that my many attempts to play EotS were not
> far enough into the game?
>
>
> > Again every game plays out differently, so there is no common way to handle
> > the situation each time. Lastly, there is the issue of the JP fleet reacting
> > to every allied offensive. So which is it, it is either pinned or it is not.
> > It has been my personal experience with playing the game that what you speak
> > of is theoretical not practical. In my games the ships get sunk, so if the
> > JP is using their fleet to react to every Allied move, they tend to not have
> > it very long. Even a poor rolling Allied player by late '43 has more than
> > enough naval factors to make this a short lived strategy.
> >
> Indeed, but what about up until then? Progress of War is needed early on.
> So, how many PoW losses the Allies can afford?
>
>
> > But let me ask a question in return Fire in the Sky, which I believe you
> > like better. Or someone else said that several posts back. One of the big
> > issues in a strategic Pacific game is the JP strategy for inflicting heavy
> > Allied ground casualties to bring the US to the negotiating table. On the
> > Allied side it was a bloody business to take the various islands and in the
> > end it was the bloodbath of Okinawa that contributed to the expanding
> > estimates of anticipated casualties for invading Japan that made the A-bomb
> > decision an easy call.
> >
> > So, with that preamble, when you play FiTS and you invade an island once
> > you get past the air-naval stuff and you hit the beach there is NO
> > possibility of taking any land casualties for the attacker. Now in EoTS
> > invading an island is a major Nimitz level decision, but when I play FITS
> > and I have the ships no worries as the Marines are not going get hurt, so
> > not much pressure there. And yes I know you can lose in the counterattack
> > during the next JP turn, but if you send sufficient ground forces you never
> > lose anyone. For me that was a an interesting way to portray ground combat,
> > but it does have oil points.
> >
> I agree with your assessment. But the naval portion feels more accurate due
> to the oil points (which Asia Engulfed cleverly copied, so what do you think
> about AE?).
>
>
> > Anyway, check out my various articles in c3i on JP strategy where I
> > specifically deal with how to deploy fleets and such.
> >
> > Over to you... :-)
> >
>
>
> >
> > Mark
> >
> > --- In perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com<perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>,
> > Philipp Klarmann <philipp.klarmann@> wrote:
> > >
> > > I appreciate this conversation very much! Trust me, I still harbour good
> > > feelings for EotS and I am not ready to give up as there are lots of good
> > > things in the game.
> > >
> > > I am with you on historical grounds, but so far, what I have seen
> > happening
> > > is, that a typical Allied offensive involves activating the pinning
> > forces
> > > and then go in for the kill. This means, the Japanese player should
> > rather
> > > spread out his forces, isn't it? And if you keep a large stack in range
> > of
> > > Long Range air, you will not be able to react at all...granted, in 1943,
> > > this does not happen too often as the Allied player will not have enough
> > air
> > > to always block you. But it happens.
> > >
> > > So, if I put a Long Range into Buna after having conquered it, you block
> > > Truk. No big fleet there ever afterwards, if the Japanese player is not
> > > stupid.
> > >
> > > But that's just the old pinning discussion. How about the oil issue (and
> > > let's revisit that). Correct, the Japanese player sortied his big boys a
> > few
> > > times. In EotS, however, they not only threat you with an attack, they
> > > occasionally do this. But, they can do it as a reaction to every card
> > play
> > > if interception occurs. Ok, you might say, it would be bad for the
> > Japanese
> > > player to sortie on every reaction but especially in 1943, the odds are
> > > pretty even and the Allies are under immense pressure.
> > >
> > >
> > > 2010/4/1 markherman50 <MarkHerman@>
> >
> > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > Well you answered the question on oil as I would. It is why the
> > Japanese
> > > > start the game with 7 cards and by mid game or so are down to 4. Think
> > of
> > > > cards as oil points like in FiTS if you like points more than
> > activations.
> > > >
> > > > As far as the Yamato moving around it did move around, but if the JP is
> > > > sending it to a continuous stream of offensives/reactions, why is it
> > not
> > > > dead. Note that any naval unit loses a great deal of its value when it
> > is on
> > > > its reduced side, so the Allies need to wack it and then it stops
> > moving
> > > > around a lot. As far as the fact that the Yamato was very expensive in
> > oil,
> > > > which is the point that you are making, it did not matter so much once
> > it
> > > > was located near the oil.
> > > >
> > > > But here is where wargaming myth gets in the way of historical fact.
> > The
> > > > Japanese used the Yamato and the Mushahi as the centerpieces of several
> > > > reactions in 1943 and in 1944 (Leyte). For example the Yamato sortied
> > from
> > > > Truk on September 18th with the Nagato in response to American raids.
> > On
> > > > October 17th the Mushahi with six battleships and carriers sortied from
> > > > Truk. My point being is the Japanese did move the big boats out on
> > several
> > > > occasions to meet Allied attacks and they were always the centerpiece
> > of all
> > > > of the reaction forces. Sure it cost them lots of oil, but these
> > movement
> > > > had priority over mama san getting cooking oil. The home front
> > suffered, but
> > > > the fleet was moved when they wanted it to move. My advice in EoTS is
> > if the
> > > > JP are enamored with the Yamato focus hits on reducing the Yamato when
> > it is
> > > > used, once hit you will not see it again for at least 1 turn (4 months)
> > and
> > > > usually longer. It is usually only impressive once.
> > > >
> > > > As far as the 1943 scenario being a very tense scenario where one
> > mistake
> > > > costs you the game. What's wrong with a tense scenario, I thought that
> > was
> > > > the point of good gaming. The same could be said for a Japanese
> > mistake.
> > > > Each situation is unique in a game where based on probability you will
> > not
> > > > see the same hand twice in your lifetime. As they say in chess for
> > every
> > > > chess brilliancy there is a reciprocal chess blunder.
> > > >
> > > > But this is how all my EoTS conversations go. I do not expect you to
> > change
> > > > your views and quite frankly it does not bother me that you do not like
> > the
> > > > game. What you will find is I have lectured at the US Naval War College
> > on
> > > > this topic and I have studied it in great detail. Folks are always
> > telling
> > > > me that this is unrealistic and this is not historical, but I have
> > reams of
> > > > data that says that most of what I am hearing are wargame myths not
> > concrete
> > > > facts. EoTS is a strategic game not like all the other Pacific games
> > > > mentioned (Pacific Fleet, Asia Engulfed, East Wind Rain, etc.) an
> > > > operational game on one map. That is what I was going for and that is
> > why I
> > > > play it. Nimitz never concerned himself with air points and wave
> > attacks
> > > > etc., which are considered the standard for this type of game. EoTS
> > goes its
> > > > own way on purpose and is not everyones cup of tea. I am fine with
> > that.
> > > >
> > > > But I love the debate...
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > Mark
> > > >
> > > > --- In
perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com<perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
> > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>,
> > > > Philipp Klarmann <philipp.klarmann@> wrote:
> > > > >
> > > > > I think the pinning issue is resolved (at least for me), but what
> > about
> > > > the
> > > > > oil issue? I see that you argued many times that the cards display
> > the
> > > > > logistical limits on major movements by the Japanese, but it's often
> > the
> > > > > case in EotS that Yamato scurries around reacting to offensives. I
> > find
> > > > that
> > > > > EotS especially in 1943 is brutally tough on the Allies, mostly one
> > > > mistake
> > > > > will cost you the game.
> > > > >
> > > > > 2010/4/1 markherman50 <MarkHerman@>
> > > >
> > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > > That is the point these days. There are lots of games out there and
> > > > many
> > > > > > calls upon people's time. The fact that there is an active EoTS
> > group
> > > > is
> > > > > > much better than most games have these days. Most games generate no
> > > > long
> > > > > > term enthusiasm so I am glad that EoTs still is actively played.
> > The
> > > > fact
> > > > > > that a game does not reveal all of its mystery's immediately is a
> > two
> > > > edged
> > > > > > sword. If it does not catch your fancy you move on because it is
> > too
> > > > much
> > > > > > effort to play well, if it does you stay with it and the experience
> > > > doesn't
> > > > > > get old even after many playings. No free lunch there.
> > > > > >
> > > > > > As far as the rules go, people deal with rules of games they want
> > to
> > > > play.
> > > > > > I break out in hives when I think of ASL rules or most of the more
> > > > popular
> > > > > > CDGs and just about any of the magazine games. The ones on topics
> > that
> > > > I am
> > > > > > interested in I deal with, if I am less interested then any set of
> > > > rules is
> > > > > > too much. My take is we all take in information differently and if
> > a
> > > > game
> > > > > > has many nuances to add historical richness, which I wanted for
> > EoTS,
> > > > which
> > > > > > makes the rules more involved. What I find is experienced gamers
> > seem
> > > > > > incapable of following the EoTS sequence of play. All wargames have
> > > > > > sequences of play, so why is this one so hard. It is what it is.
> > > > > >
> > > > > > As far as the wtf moments that you mention regarding 'pinning' of
> > > > fleets
> > > > > > all I can say is WTF! I wrote an entire monograph that anyone can
> > get
> > > > on my
> > > > > > website about this very point with all of my research. It would
> > have
> > > > been
> > > > > > easier to write a rule that states that historically fleets
> > abandoned
> > > > their
> > > > > > anchorages when they were in range of enemy land based air. Of
> > course
> > > > then
> > > > > > people would try and get around this rule. Instead I chose to
> > > > incorporate it
> > > > > > into the system. You do not have to move your fleet back, but if
> > you
> > > > choose
> > > > > > to ignore the historical facts thats the players business. I just
> > set
> > > > the
> > > > > > table, but if you want to eat your dessert first, go for it. The
> > > > monograph
> > > > > > comes with the post war interviews establishing their thinking on
> > this
> > > > > > topic. So, WTF...
> > > > > >
> > > > > > Anyway, Washington's War is appealing to a broader audience due to
> > its
> > > > > > lower complexity. I went out of my way not to make the game more
> > > > complex,
> > > > > > just more interesting, at least for me. Over time I had issues with
> > WTP
> > > > that
> > > > > > kept me from playing it. That has now been addressed in
> > Washington's
> > > > War and
> > > > > > due to its short playing time it gets a lot of play around my
> > house.
> > > > > >
> > > > > > Break, break... One of the annoying things about Yahoo groups is I
> > find
> > > > it
> > > > > > hard to get to the original message in a thread if it is set within
> > a
> > > > > > subthread etc. So to CV...
> > > > > >
> > > > > > I may be a cheap bastard, but if you had asked, I would have been
> > happy
> > > > to
> > > > > > send you a copy of Washington's War. One of the unfortunate aspects
> > of
> > > > my
> > > > > > later years is I have lost the ability to read minds. And if you
> > ever
> > > > get to
> > > > > > DC, I will buy you dinner.
> > > > > >
> > > > > > Mark
> > > > > >
> > > > > > --- In
perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com<perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
> > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
> > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>,
> > > >
> > > > > > Philipp Klarmann <philipp.klarmann@> wrote:
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > Thanks for your comments. I think Empire of the Sun suffers a bit
> > due
> > > > to
> > > > > > the
> > > > > > > fact that there is small group of excellent players giving you
> > > > feedback
> > > > > > > while leaving out the large rest of the gaming population. I do
> > not
> > > > doubt
> > > > > > > that EotS is a great brain exercise and therefore, fun for some,
> > but
> > > > I
> > > > > > fear
> > > > > > > that most of the players like me are put off by the complexity
> > and
> > > > some
> > > > > > > mechanisms which make sense after a dozen or so playings.
> > Compared to
> > > > the
> > > > > > > easy approach Washington's War offers, one dreams about a similar
> > > > playing
> > > > > > > experience with EotS which it simply isn't.
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > 2010/3/31 markherman50 <MarkHerman@>
> > > > > > >
> > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > --- In
perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com<perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
> > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
> > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
> > > > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>,
> > > > > >
> > > > > > > > "Steve Crowley" <steve@> wrote:
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > > Good news about Washingtons War - just arrived here and
> > you've
> > > > saved
> > > > > > me a
> > > > > > > > > job of getting out WtP to do a comparison.
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > > EoTS is a game I desperately want to like but every time I
> > play
> > > > it I
> > > > > > get
> > > > > > > > too
> > > > > > > > > many wtf moments. The pinning of fleets (mentioned oft times
> > > > here)
> > > > > > just
> > > > > > > > > doesn't seem right.
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > > Not everyone's cup of tea I know but I prefer Fire in the Sky
> > at
> > > > this
> > > > > > > > level.
> > > > > > > > > Of course, I'm still waiting for the reprint of Pacific
> > Fleet.
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > > We should probably kidnap Mark and not release him until he
> > has
> > > > > > produced
> > > > > > > > the
> > > > > > > > > CDG game on the Pacific which we really want - and no remarks
> > > > from CV
> > > > > > and
> > > > > > > > > LBW about EoTS being the game MH wanted to design if you
> > please.
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > > From:
perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com<perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
> > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
> > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
> > > > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
> > > > > > > > >
[mailto:perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com<perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
> > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
> > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
> > > > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>]
> > > > > >
> > > > > > > > On Behalf Of Philipp Klarmann
> > > > > > > > > Sent: 28 March 2010 8:11 AM
> > > > > > > > > To:
perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com<perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
> > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
> > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
> > > > > > <perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>
> > > > > >
> > > > > > > > > Subject: [perfidiousalbion] [Games] The Herman night
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > > Two games of Mark Herman back to back, and it's certainly
> > > > enlighting
> > > > > > as
> > > > > > > > we
> > > > > > > > > go backwards in terms of the evolution of the CDG genre.
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > > The first half of the evening is spent setting up and playing
> > > > through
> > > > > > a
> > > > > > > > turn
> > > > > > > > > of Empire of the Sun's tournament 1943 scenario. Lot's of
> > > > complicated
> > > > > > > > rules,
> > > > > > > > > intertwined with bean counting and hex counting, odd rules
> > > > > > exceptions,
> > > > > > > > most
> > > > > > > > > cards appearing at the wrong time (just witness the cards
> > that
> > > > need
> > > > > > to be
> > > > > > > > > taken out in the scenario instructions, almost all card
> > numbers
> > > > are
> > > > > > low)
> > > > > > > > and
> > > > > > > > > the US losing it's will to fight in 1943. Huh?
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > > After so many tries, I consider this a valiant failure. It's
> > over
> > > > > > > > > complicated, ignores oil as the major factor in the naval
> > warfare
> > > > and
> > > > > > > > > strategic consideration of the Japanese and forces in my
> > opinion
> > > > > > > > unrealistic
> > > > > > > > > behaviours (just look at the Yamato BB running around). I
> > know
> > > > Mark
> > > > > > > > defends
> > > > > > > > > his game with vigour and it's, if you have understood the
> > > > horrible
> > > > > > rules
> > > > > > > > > book, a brain exercise par excellence. But is it fun outside
> > of a
> > > > > > circle
> > > > > > > > of
> > > > > > > > > insiders and enlightened readers? The current playthrough in
> > the
> > > > CSW
> > > > > > > > folder
> > > > > > > > > sees the Philippine scouts landing in Korea for lack of Air
> > ZOC
> > > > in
> > > > > > Japan.
> > > > > > > > > Double huh? I think given time and effort spent to learn it
> > to a
> > > > > > degree
> > > > > > > > of
> > > > > > > > > perfection, I rather pull out another Pacific War title or
> > Mark's
> > > > > > older
> > > > > > > > PW
> > > > > > > > > title for a campaign.
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > > The second half of the evening is reserved for Washington's
> > War.
> > > > And,
> > > > > > > > boy,
> > > > > > > > > given the tedious exercise of the previous three hours, this
> > game
> > > > > > really
> > > > > > > > > shines even more. It's fast, exciting, close and runs
> > smoothly.
> > > > The
> > > > > > new
> > > > > > > > > combat system is easy to learn and poses great trouble for
> > the
> > > > > > American
> > > > > > > > > player so he is even more reluctant to go head-to-head
> > against
> > > > the
> > > > > > > > British.
> > > > > > > > > The British steamroll the coast but have troubles controlling
> > the
> > > > > > > > colonies.
> > > > > > > > > A near perfect 10 for this redux of We the People. Better
> > cards,
> > > > > > better
> > > > > > > > map,
> > > > > > > > > better counters, tense gamplay, a must buy.
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > > No virus found in this incoming message.
> > > > > > > > > Checked by AVG - www.avg.com
> > > > > > > > > Version: 9.0.791 / Virus Database: 271.1.1/2775 - Release
> > Date:
> > > > > > 03/28/10
> > > > > > > > > 07:32:00
> > > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > I have not been here in a while, good to see you got a chance
> > to
> > > > play
> > > > > > > > Washington's War. It is not a reprint as you have already
> > surmised.
> > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > As far as EoTS goes, its not everyones cup of tea, but I design
> > the
> > > > > > games
> > > > > > > > that I want to play and this is the one that I play the most. I
> > > > guess
> > > > > > we
> > > > > > > > have different tastes.
> > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > As far as the Philippine Scouts ending up in Korea, this is
> > just
> > > > part
> > > > > > of my
> > > > > > > > design philosophy. I could just write a rule that says you
> > cannot
> > > > do
> > > > > > stupid
> > > > > > > > things, but why bother. The first stupid thing was the Japanese
> > > > emptied
> > > > > > > > Japan of every air and naval unit. Would the real Japanese do
> > that,
> > > > no,
> > > > > > but
> > > > > > > > I hate writing garrison rules and other such nonsense. If they
> > want
> > > > to
> > > > > > play
> > > > > > > > badly let them. As a consequence there was nothing stopping the
> > > > Allies
> > > > > > from
> > > > > > > > raiding the coast. The Allies are out of supply and will
> > quickly
> > > > > > disperse,
> > > > > > > > so it is more about pissing off the Japanese.
> > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > Anyway, enjoy Washington's War...
> > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > > Mark
> > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > >
> > > > > > > >
> > > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > > >
> > > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > >
> >
> >
> >
>

Posted by markherman at 9:38 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 31 March 2010
EoTS Historical Debate
Topic: Empire of the Sun
Re: [Games] The Herman night

Well you answered the question on oil as I would. It is why the Japanese start
the game with 7 cards and by mid game or so are down to 4. Think of cards as oil
points like in FiTS if you like points more than activations.

As far as the Yamato moving around it did move around, but if the JP is sending
it to a continuous stream of offensives/reactions, why is it not dead. Note that
any naval unit loses a great deal of its value when it is on its reduced side,
so the Allies need to wack it and then it stops moving around a lot. As far as
the fact that the Yamato was very expensive in oil, which is the point that you
are making, it did not matter so much once it was located near the oil.

But here is where wargaming myth gets in the way of historical fact. The
Japanese used the Yamato and the Mushahi as the centerpieces of several
reactions in 1943 and in 1944 (Leyte). For example the Yamato sortied from Truk
on September 18th with the Nagato in response to American raids. On October 17th
the Mushahi with six battleships and carriers sortied from Truk. My point being
is the Japanese did move the big boats out on several occasions to meet Allied
attacks and they were always the centerpiece of all of the reaction forces. Sure
it cost them lots of oil, but these movement had priority over mama san getting
cooking oil. The home front suffered, but the fleet was moved when they wanted
it to move. My advice in EoTS is if the JP are enamored with the Yamato focus
hits on reducing the Yamato when it is used, once hit you will not see it again
for at least 1 turn (4 months) and usually longer. It is usually only impressive
once.

As far as the 1943 scenario being a very tense scenario where one mistake costs
you the game. What's wrong with a tense scenario, I thought that was the point
of good gaming. The same could be said for a Japanese mistake. Each situation is
unique in a game where based on probability you will not see the same hand twice
in your lifetime. As they say in chess for every chess brilliancy there is a
reciprocal chess blunder.

But this is how all my EoTS conversations go. I do not expect you to change your
views and quite frankly it does not bother me that you do not like the game.
What you will find is I have lectured at the US Naval War College on this topic
and I have studied it in great detail. Folks are always telling me that this is
unrealistic and this is not historical, but I have reams of data that says that
most of what I am hearing are wargame myths not concrete facts. EoTS is a
strategic game not like all the other Pacific games mentioned (Pacific Fleet,
Asia Engulfed, East Wind Rain, etc.) an operational game on one map. That is
what I was going for and that is why I play it. Nimitz never concerned himself
with air points and wave attacks etc., which are considered the standard for
this type of game. EoTS goes its own way on purpose and is not everyones cup of
tea. I am fine with that.

But I love the debate...

Mark

--- In perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com, Philipp Klarmann <philipp.klarmann@...>
wrote:
>
> I think the pinning issue is resolved (at least for me), but what about the
> oil issue? I see that you argued many times that the cards display the
> logistical limits on major movements by the Japanese, but it's often the
> case in EotS that Yamato scurries around reacting to offensives. I find that
> EotS especially in 1943 is brutally tough on the Allies, mostly one mistake
> will cost you the game.
>
> 2010/4/1 markherman50 <MarkHerman@...>
>
> >
> >
> > That is the point these days. There are lots of games out there and many
> > calls upon people's time. The fact that there is an active EoTS group is
> > much better than most games have these days. Most games generate no long
> > term enthusiasm so I am glad that EoTs still is actively played. The fact
> > that a game does not reveal all of its mystery's immediately is a two edged
> > sword. If it does not catch your fancy you move on because it is too much
> > effort to play well, if it does you stay with it and the experience doesn't
> > get old even after many playings. No free lunch there.
> >
> > As far as the rules go, people deal with rules of games they want to play.
> > I break out in hives when I think of ASL rules or most of the more popular
> > CDGs and just about any of the magazine games. The ones on topics that I am
> > interested in I deal with, if I am less interested then any set of rules is
> > too much. My take is we all take in information differently and if a game
> > has many nuances to add historical richness, which I wanted for EoTS, which
> > makes the rules more involved. What I find is experienced gamers seem
> > incapable of following the EoTS sequence of play. All wargames have
> > sequences of play, so why is this one so hard. It is what it is.
> >
> > As far as the wtf moments that you mention regarding 'pinning' of fleets
> > all I can say is WTF! I wrote an entire monograph that anyone can get on my
> > website about this very point with all of my research. It would have been
> > easier to write a rule that states that historically fleets abandoned their
> > anchorages when they were in range of enemy land based air. Of course then
> > people would try and get around this rule. Instead I chose to incorporate it
> > into the system. You do not have to move your fleet back, but if you choose
> > to ignore the historical facts thats the players business. I just set the
> > table, but if you want to eat your dessert first, go for it. The monograph
> > comes with the post war interviews establishing their thinking on this
> > topic. So, WTF...
> >
> > Anyway, Washington's War is appealing to a broader audience due to its
> > lower complexity. I went out of my way not to make the game more complex,
> > just more interesting, at least for me. Over time I had issues with WTP that
> > kept me from playing it. That has now been addressed in Washington's War and
> > due to its short playing time it gets a lot of play around my house.
> >
> > Break, break... One of the annoying things about Yahoo groups is I find it
> > hard to get to the original message in a thread if it is set within a
> > subthread etc. So to CV...
> >
> > I may be a cheap bastard, but if you had asked, I would have been happy to
> > send you a copy of Washington's War. One of the unfortunate aspects of my
> > later years is I have lost the ability to read minds. And if you ever get to
> > DC, I will buy you dinner.
> >
> > Mark
> >
> > --- In perfidiousalbion@yahoogroups.com<perfidiousalbion%40yahoogroups.com>,
> > Philipp Klarmann <philipp.klarmann@> wrote:
> > >
> > > Thanks for your comments. I think Empire of the Sun suffers a bit due to
> > the
> > > fact that there is small group of excellent players giving you feedback
> > > while leaving out the large rest of the gaming population. I do not doubt
> > > that EotS is a great brain exercise and therefore, fun for some, but I
> > fear
> > > that most of the players like me are put off by the complexity and some
> > > mechanisms which make sense after a dozen or so playings. Compared to the
> > > easy approach Washington's War offers, one dreams about a similar playing
> > > experience with EotS which it simply isn't.
> > >

Posted by markherman at 10:45 PM EDT
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Dialog on my views of Game Reviewers and Ratings
Topic: Wargame Design Musings
bentlarsen wrote:
MarkHerman wrote:
Thanks for posting your views over on the Washington's War folder. Based on your comments I did re-read Chris Farrell's comments again and I am not sure why you think that this is a better review than the more positive ones other than it is more negative.

Chris is a smart fellow who is very impressed with his own opinion. I read all comments about my games, so I have a view of what does and does not make a good review. A good review sets metrics for how the game will be judged, otherwise it is just opinion with no objective standard. One of the reviews that you did not like did a very good job in this regard. 

Chris fails as a reviewer as he has very distinct tastes, which is fine for a gamer, but a major problem for a reviewer. He makes ascertains without any supporting thoughts and thinks he is stating facts. He has reviewed all of my recent games and he has disliked all of them. No problem, but all I can conclude from his reviews is he has not played any of my designs all that much, so his comments on design features and their impact on game strategy are misguided at best. As a consequence he offers a professional game designer and the reader nothing much beyond his personal tastes in games.

He starts off by saying in the review that you wanted me to re-read that he did not like We The People all that much, then points out several factors that he thinks make Washington's War a worse game (discard mechanism and OPs Queue) and then later contradicts himself by saying that the activation system does not work because the British need 3OPS cards, which is the point of the OPS Queue. It is my belief that he imagines how the game should play out vice actually figuring it out through play. The discard mechanism is generating a lot of positive comment, so people like it. Chris does not like it, but as usual without much explanation other than it makes the game more complicated. Complexity is in the eye of the beholder not some objective standard of goodness. 

Frankly I have read all of Chris's reviews and all that comes through is he seems to know how to design a better version of the game he is playing. That's fine, but upon reading his remarks it is clear that he really hasn't played Washington's War many times as his comments about the worthless American generals demonstrates to me that he does not understand how to play the Americans well. This point was true in We The People, but the new attrition rules require the Americans to play very differently, so it is my belief given how quickly his review came out that he read the rules and applied his thinking to what he remembers from We The People. I was told at a recent convention from serious players that Chris does not know what he is talking about on this specific point. Again this demonstrates to me that he is just doing a drive by review with little thought or time invested.

It is my understanding that the basis of the BGG game rating was tied to a player's willingness to play it again. From what I can tell on BGG and over on CSW, the players that are rating the game very highly are playing it constantly, which may be the basis for their high ratings vice some philosophical design standard. In the end if a game grabs someones fancy, and most of my designs do not generate this level of enthusiasm, then it is what it is.

I decided to write you privately as I find that open forums are not useful for real communications, but I do take all comments seriously and I wanted you to know that I took your advice.

Take care,
Mark


Mark,

Thank you again for reading my comment and writing to me.

Before I get to your response, I do not want you to take any criticisms of your designs as criticisms of you, Mark Herman. Your games must be like your family, so I imagine it might be tough. Second, you are the "guy" who started it all with these Card-driven wargames. You are the inovator. We the People might not be a game I like, but your original concept and design has led to many games that I do like. Third, I would rank you among the very best designers. I never try to rate a list like that from best on down; it is just too difficult.

If you reread my comments, what I hoped you could influence in the BGG community are those individuals who helped develop or play-test the game, and who are rating it highly. I think it is not ethical for these individuals (there are two for sure, are there more?) to have ratings, not that anyone is going to go to hell for loving or hating a game. I think they are entitled to comment, but they should leave off the numbers. This issue is a frequent flyer on BGG. You are not responsible for what they do or say. If you see my concern, maybe you could give them a nudge. If they do not budge, that is not your fault. 

"Sycophant" is a strong term, a fighting word, as Yosimite Sam would say. I haven't read any hate mail about it, so I guess that no one has seen my comment because it does not have a number rating. Either that, or these people do not know what it means.

None of these tens qualify as a review in my understanding of the term. None of the reviews under the review forum qualify as a real discussion of the strengths and weaknesses--no game is perfect, not any on my top ten list, that's for sure--a your design. The geeks leaving tens come across as people kissing up. You have earned your place among the best of the best (and I am not kissing up, just stating a fact), and your behind does not need any lips on it (the image makes me go "ewww!"). 

Most of the reviews I have read for wargames are an embarrassment to anyone who wants to have a serious discussion. These kinds of comments should just go under the "genera" forum so that everyone gets to exercise his or her freedom of speech. I know this is a social networking site for gamers, but if I am going to write a serious piece by way of review, I want to sweat before I write it. I have written at least six reviews for Paper Wars, not that anyone would know it because there has not been an issued published during the past two years or so. I have typed out 35 pages or more. When I gripe about this on the geek, I am looked down as an eliteist. I just want an intelligent discussion.

How many times have you see the mob mentality at work on BGG? You go with the flow or you get dumped on. The first serious (it likely won't be, it will just be a rant) negative review of your new WW will bring out the wolves in force to tear the nay-sayer apart.

Now, turning to Chris Farrell. He is an odd duck (so am I, for that matter). He has tremendous influence (anyone with tremendous influence has too much power) on the BGG community. It would seem he has earned his position with comments that I find sober and serious and free of the nastiness that I sometimes--sometimes?--leave when I am on a roll of one sort or another. It is sad, but I find I have to "yell" to be noticed around this place, that is when I want to be noticed. 

The comments that Chris left with his six rating do not qualify as a review (nor, as I said above, do any of the tens or other ratings, for that matter). But Chris says it without rancour. 

Take another look at what I said about his comments and the six:

Is anyone taking Chris Farrell's comments, and his six, seriously? Chris can be wrong (just look at his comments on Pursuit of Glory and compare them with the actual game). Chris has good gaming instincts, if you choose to ignore the time factor (everything is too long for him) and chrome (everything is too detailed). Other than these, he is usually okay. 

Mark, do you see there is a fair bit of agreement between you and I concerning Chris. One, he can be wrong. The five rating he gave for Pursuit of Glory, with his brief comments, is a joke. How do I know this? Look at my review that I wrote after playing the game for at least a full week. Two, I note how everthing is too long or too detailed for his taste. I use hyperbole, but I am well aware that Chris has, or seems to have, a strict set of guidelines for every game, and woe be to the game that falls out of him. For me, as an example, I can find Paths of Glory a blast to play, lots of fun, but do not confuse it with an historical wargame. Raicer has a great design with history pasted all over it, but that's all it is: paste. I prefer a game to be both good history and good game, but I can like it if it is only one or the other.

I want Chris' six, his sober, non-insulting tone, and his comments to put a brake on the lips of the sycophant chorus. He would need to move his comments into the review section. Given what passes for reviews, he would have no problem being accepted. Then the community might enter into a serious discussion of your game.

When I wanted to discuss ACW leadership ratings in games like For the People and others, I did a pretty botched job of trying to express my points. I think Chris, with his comparision to how the generals are rated in Hannibal, made a valid point that perhaps you could consider for a variant for the GMT magazine (the name escapes me).

Mark, I understand if I cross historical swords with you that I am likely to be on the losing end, but I think you have rated the American generals to highly in their combat capabilities. How many major battles did the British lose during the Revolution? Three at best? Howe bested Washington at New York and during the Philadelphia campaign, but you only have one point of difference between them. Washington is a great leader, but competant only, at best, general. 

To go back to For the People, I think you are of the traditional school that sees Grant, Lee, Sherman and Jackson as being on an equal plane of skill, and I feel this view has been overturned in the past ten years (if not before). For FtP, it would be nice to see a Hannibal aspect to the generals in these games. Grant is better on strategy that Lee. Lee is the tactician bar none. Jackson is at his best in a subordinate role. Sherman is a lousy tactician--he was at least honest enough to admit that he was not the best--but you have him equal with the others. Argh! 

But I digress.

In fairness, I do not know how any designer, even one as experienced and wise as you, can do full justice to the complexities of the the American Revolution. 

I hope you will consider me part of the loyal opposition, and I want to stress the loyal part. I have WW on order through the p-500, but Canada seems to be on the other side of the globe for all the time I have been waiting for its arrival. I want to get your Pacific War game, and I have heard that you and Richard Berg are working on a monster ACW game. Is this true? You can be sure that I will buy a copy. I want to help put food in your table, even while I preach to you how you have some--only some--things wrong. 

Invite me to your house for a week, or come to mine, teach me the basics of wargame design, and you won't have me as an armchair critic. Or hopefully even a critic.

I do wish you the best. If time allows, I will try to review WW, but I have to master the rules to Berg's Dead of Winter for a Paper Wars review--do you have an "easy guide" to these GBACW games?

Let me know how you feel about what I have said. 

Take care, and I hope you continue to do well with WW and with all your other designs.

Joseph 



Thanks for your thoughtful remarks. You bring up many points so I will focus on a couple. First off thank you for your warm remarks about my overall body of work, I appreciate the sentiments.

To your game review remarks I also read Chris's comments on Pursuit of Glory and based on my single play I mostly agreed with him. On the other hand I only played the game one time and I think that is all Chris may have played it. As a professional designer I feel that I can ethically support a game that I actually play and enjoy, but I will not criticize a design as it would be perceived as a conflict of interest. As far as the playtesters rating the game on BGG goes I do not see this an unethical or a conflict of interest, because they gain nothing by doing so. The review that I liked from the guy who was Sean or Paul, I forget, was a playtester and gave it a nine instead of a ten because I did not take one of his suggestions. So it is not clear that the playtesters are always a home field crowd. 

You state that Chris writes without rancor. That is in the eye of the beholder, but lets for argument state that I agree. That is not my issue with Chris' reviews. Why people think he deserves his reputation is not for me to say, but what he says is never supported or measured against any objective standard. So, for me all I am getting is Chris' opinion, his right, and based on the sameness of his reviews I find that they have little value for me as a professional designer. 

For example he has panned my EoTS game not once but twice. He does not like the War in Europe mechanic and states that it has driven every game that he has played. As background, I am a professional OPS Research analyst and I have taught Analytics (probability and statistics) at the graduate school level for Georgetown University. So, I am very strong in probability mathematics. When I built the decks of cards I ran them through a simulation and this was validated by independent gamers who have posted the spreadsheets that are available on CSW for all to see. So what he claims is not mathematically possible or he does not know how to shuffle a deck of cards. Based on this his remarks carry no weight with me as they cannot be substantiated in mathematical reality.

In the same review he makes a comment about how unrealistic in EoTS it is for a fleet to be pinned by a bomber. I wrote a monograph on this specific point with all of my research that is posted on my website. It seems to me that unless a reviewer is willing to wade into the historical detail that he is commenting on how seriously can I take said review. On a review he did for my For The People game he made a similar offhand remark about the CRT and how it was ridiculous or some such. Yet, I built that table out of actual data and every battle of the war can be reflected through that table. As I said Chris does not do his homework, just levies his opinion. For me that makes him no better than any other opinion on BGG or CSW.

I could go on but you get the point. Later in your letter you make note of the general ratings in Washington's War and then I remembered our earlier exchange and your thoughts on the For The People general ratings. If done well and I think I know what I am doing, a design is an intrinsic whole. If you take out one piece and evaluate it alone without the remainder of the design you can draw incorrect conclusions.

I agree with your analysis that the British won most of the battles they fought in the war. Actually, if you find my old General article on We The People what you really find is the attacker won the majority of the battles during the AmRev. This by the way is characteristic of most low density battles in musket and rifled musket period (AmRev and ACW). 

Your point is that Howe is only one point better than Washington, so it must be incorrect, because he won all of his battles. However, that is only one piece of the battle puzzle. First off you can never more than double your combat unit strength, so since the Americans lose half their CUs each winter (except the Continental army if it is in winter quarters) the ability to achieve those full ratings for the Americans is very rare. Another issue is the British gain a regulars advantage and in ports the navy, which is two more ticks. On top of all that the attacker wins ties which is effectively another tick. The end result from actually playing the game is that the combination of all of the above creates a large British advantage in combat. If you look at the message traffic it appears that the British strategies in the game are more obvious so no one is having any problem winning battles or the game with the British. My point is you have to look at the totality of the battle system, not just the General ratings, to see how the game achieves the historical result.

What Chris is totally missing, which makes me believe that all I am getting is a rehash of his We The People review is his point about the worthless American generals. Due to attrition the Americans do not want to over invest in large armies that will just evaporate. However, any General will never lose his last CU due to attrition. Think guerrilla army. The Americans have 7 generals to the British 5 and if the French come into the game it is 8 to 5. For the Americans to achieve a strategic maneuver advantage, which was not necessary or desired in WTP, you want to have as many 1CU armies in the game as you can get. If you do this the Americans can maneuver to gain leverage over PC markers, which the British are hard pressed to do. The point is to demonstrate, albeit abstractly, a key feature of the real war. Therefore, Lincoln is a very useful general if he has 1 CU, but dangerous if you give him a substantial force. Lincoln with 1 CU protects a group of PC markers from isolation and is expensive to kill as the British do not move as easily as the Americans. 

The same is true in my For The People design. The ratings are not my evaluation of Lee or Grant specifically, but generally. What is also being represented is their ability to eschew logistic certainty and their impact on their subordinated command structures. The ratings are also how the game represents terrain. Note that there is no terrain distinction between spaces. How could that make sense? My view is there is defensible terrain everywhere, but it is the ability of the commander to find it that generates a terrain advantage as reflected in the rating. As you can see unless you bring in all of the factors, the ratings make no sense. Besides on any given day everyone had a bad day, which was an improvement that I brought into Washington's War.

Another point that you raise is about synchophants and people following the herd mentality and shouting down those that they disagree with etc. All I can say is that is not a BGG phenomena, but an internet feature. I have hardly ever seen any open forum discussion, anywhere, remain civil or change anyones view from the one they held when the shouting began. It is not a problem, but a feature, so I just avoid those situation as they go nowhere. What I will say is that David Dockter who is a first class consultant did a very detailed analysis of BGG ratings and CSW message traffic. Not perfect, but better than one persons' opinion. Empire of the Sun and For The People which are two games that Chris dislikes are in the top four games of total player activity. My point is the BGG rating system is interesting, but it is the temperature not the weather. Before they modified the algorithms not one of the games that I actually play were in the top 100 wargames of all time. Now I may not represent the mainstream of gamers, but that is too statistically odd for me to think much of the BGG rating system. Now that they have modified how they calculate things at least a couple of the games that I play are in the top 100 and not one that is in the top 10 or 25. Not much for me there.

Note that For The People has been played continuously for over a decade by a very active group of gamers. Not many wargames can claim that. Is For The People perfect, no, and neither is any game, but lots of people play it despite Chris panning it. Clearly they do not give a hoot about what Chris says or thinks. The same is true for Empire of the Sun. So, if a BGG rating represents your desire to play a game, not a subjective rating of design goodness, then activity should equal a high rating for these people. Does that make them synchophants? On another level who cares if they are having fun. 

My last point is important to me. I do not design games for money any longer. There is no money in it to be had and the amount of time I spend discoursing with gamers if put on a per hour basis would be less than I made when I had a paper route as a kid. I do this because of my passion for wargaming. I design games that I want to play. I spend most of my time playing For The People, Empire of the Sun and now Washington's War. If I do not want to play them why would anyone else. I only like to play games that are in my opinion, historically accurate. I actually research and think about all that goes into one of my games because if it bothers me I would change it. 

Well time to write another lecture and get some sleep,

Be well,

Mark

Posted by markherman at 9:09 PM EDT
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Saturday, 23 May 2009
FTP Recruitement
Topic: For The People Material
More or less...

I can gather it is a sociological inferation circa 1861-65, that the CSA Army cutting off Illinois, Indiana and Ohio would be a more economic negative substantial effect, as opposed to Union occupation of Georgia, Virginia and Tennesee in terms of SPs according to your data. 


To some degree this is an apples and oranges comparison. All is not always equal when it comes to production. The two sides use different recruitment models using the same factors.
 
The rail line discussion got me to go back into my notes (over a decade old) on this topic and see what data I had used for the recruitment model that generates SPs during the reinforcement phase. FTP is looking at frontline strength based on a soldiers on the rolls with some factors thrown in for frontline strength versus logistic troops. The overall analysis shows that once you get into mid 62 until almost the end of the war, the amount of men for each side hit a steady state that averaged around 48 (plus or minus 4) for the USA and 34 (plus or minus 3) for the CSA.
 
Remember, the historical model is based on the historical actions, so if the Union doesn't spend sufficient effort to shut down a blockade zone with amphibious forces or succeeds in accomplishing the capture of TN early in the war, etc. then the generalized model will produce different results.
 
When it comes to the overall model of what makes an SP it is a blend of Administration, People, and Ordnance. At all times there was some set of factors that limited output with the 1863 period being the one most in balance. So early in the war there was a surplus of people (recruitment enthusiasm), but a deficiency in administrative acumen and ordnance. Late in the war there was greater administrative efficiency and more available ordnance, but a deficiency in people (conscription difficulties due to going to war not being that attractive any longer). It is this deficiency that drove the Union to incorporate colored soldiers and the South to consider conscripting slaves into the army. When it comes to the Union, approximately 2/3rd of the SPs are being produced on the map and 1/3rd are being produced north of the map, so on a normal Union turn 12 SPs are produced on the map and 6 SPs are produced north of the map. I chose to consider Union State Capitals as key locations that impacted Union production as they were the administrative and production centers (ordnance and armories). My basic premise is if an administrative center is occupied it reduces the potential SPs available due to administrative and production losses. I viewed cutting railroads as disrupting production. I viewed DC as a major administrative center whose loss or isolation (loss of telegraphic communication) would create inefficiencies in SP production akin to when the Federal government shut down recruiting for a short time in 1863. There is also the Union Governor reaction effect whereby some amount of state troops would be held back akin to the National Guard of today.
 
Rolling back to a Confederate force operating across the three Western states would represent the disruption not only of state ordnance production, but occupation of the means to move people around. It also is severing the links to states like Michigan and Wisconsin (note that portions of the Great Lakes are just off the northern edge of the map). Perhaps more importantly is the Union states are not producing SPs equally. On the map IL, IN, OH, PA, and NJ are producing more than their share with NY, WI, MI, and MA the major contributors north of the map. So, in the aggregate the railline cutting rules are trying to capture an impact that taking out three major production centers and isolating them from the broader grid is taking out about 2/3rd of Union recruitment capability.
 
The southern model uses the same factors but behaves differently. The production centers are the resource spaces and the values represent their historical output normalized on 100 percent. New Orleans was always a problem as its potential production was never fully developed before it was captured, so I chose to model that blockade zone differently (takes only two to shut down) to account for this factor. The South was also dependent on finished ordnance and critical metals to maintain their production base, which is all tied into the blockade model. The issue with the south was the stronger state control over local production and recruitment. The Southern railroads could not support the Union industrial model making it far more local in nature. So although TN and VA were the major production centers the people were more distributed than they were in the north (New Orleans was the only major American city that went with the South). Consequently the Southern recruitment model is more resilient, but more vulnerable on the SW side if you were to lose both TN and VA (57 SW points).
 
So, different views of the same recruitment model. Now back to Riku's gambit. Quite frankly I put the rail cutting option into the game with a severe penalty with the knowledge that a Union player would do what it takes to stop it. The question on the table for me is whether this is a trick that cannot be stopped or just another historic vulnerability that has to be paid attention to. As far as whether it can or cannot be stopped, I submit that can be stopped without significant resources as per Riku's earlier comment. Columbus OH is the key coupled with effective use of strategic movement of reinforcements. Effectively if the CSA is threatening an invasion north of the Ohio, the Union has to have some rear area garrisons to limit Southern options.
 
Mark 

Posted by markherman at 9:39 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 23 May 2009 9:59 AM EDT
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Saturday, 17 January 2009
For The People Riverine Q&A?
Topic: For The People Material

The one aspect of For The People that continues to create problems is the riverine rules. It is a function of a non-intuitive concept (non-bilateral relationship) and the need to read the rule and apply it literally. To aid this process the final version of the rules included extensive diagrams, which apparently most people do not want to look at. Anyway, here was a good exchange that captures all of the issues that seem to crop up with this rule and my responses. I felt that I needed to capture this as a future resource.

 

 Windopaene wrote:

To Mark:

 

What makes them confusing for me is a couple of things.

 

Upriver/downriver - there are a bunch of those rivers that don't run the way I think they should, (all heading south like the big M), so when reading the rules, I get confused about what is being described in the examples.

 

"Crossing a river" - There are one or two examples that talk about crossing a river when leaving a space, even though there are rules before that say that crossing a river only impacts crossing a blue line when entering a space that contains the blue bar. I may still have this confused.

 

And that's just the basic stuff. Doesn't even start to consider Riverine movement, and the like. And the coastal forts/inland associated port stuff.

 

I think I understand the rules, but don't feel like I am at all comfortable with them, and any attempt to apply them will result in having to go over them step by step as I try to take a move, to be sure I'm not screwing them up...

 

And Empire of the Sun is to For the People as For the People is to We The People... 

 

 

On the up/down river question, remember in the real world all rivers run to the sea, which is New Orleans in this case, so north-south has no relevance to rivers. However, we did put the arrows on the map to show you which way the river is running. I would use the arrows... as an aside, if you ever get lost in the woods and see a river, follow it downstream, eventually you will get somewhere... :-)

 

Crossing the River: this is the one that continues to confuse people, but mostly folks are not reading the rule, although the graphic chosen doesn't help. You are only crossing a river when you enter or exit a riverine port space. The part that gets missed is the last part, "...riverine port space." A riverine port space is any port space that has a blue bar. So entering any space that is NOT a port space regardless of whether you exited a Riverine port space to get there is NEVER crossing a river. 

 

As far as the rest of the riverine rules they are easy to summarize, but hard to write unless you use alot of words. Basically assume that the Union navy has river control unless there is a Confederate fort in the riverine port space, not adjacent, to the port space (see crossing the river above). There are really only two situation you have to consider. 

 

Situation 1: If you have a CSA fort (or ironclad), the CSA can cross the river. If not assume you cannot. Neither side can cross a river into a port that contains a fort. This is the corollary to why the CSA can cross from a port space where they have a fort. The simple concept is neither side can cross a river into a port space where there is an enemy fort and the CSA can never cross a river unless they have a fort in the space. This is by far the major case you have to remember regarding river crossing. 

 

Situation 2: There is another significant case when the CSA has a network of forts, such as in the opening, where they bookend a major portion of the river. (see the diagram on pg 28). Here, the combination of Fort Philip-Jackson, Columbus KY, and Dover TN creates a large Mississippi zone where the Union does not have naval control (deny Union naval control=DUNC). As soon as any of these forts fall, you more or less find yourself in the first case. 

 

I submit that this latter case is very visual if you just look at it logically, but beyond the opening set up, it is hard, approaching I have never seen it in actual play, where the CSA can do much better than their opening set up. Assuming that the CSA controls Fort Philip-Jackson OR has a fort in New Orleans, the CSA needs a fort in Columbus KY or Memphis TN or Vicksurg MS to hold any section of the Mississippi. Once New Orleans (and its associated fort) are Union, basically there are only two crossing points at Memphis and Vicksburg if there is a CSA fort present (situation 1 again). 

 

The only other portion of the river that ever gets in a similar state is the fort at Dover allows the CSA to cross at Clarksville and Nashville TN. Once Dover falls you find yourself back in Situation 1. There are other possibilities, but in actual play they just do not occur, so just do not try and consider them.

 

Hopefully that helps, but I would also not worry about all of the details, especially when you are learning the game. Basically deal out cards and move armies and conduct battles. The riverine rules tend to sort themselves out if you just look at all situations through the Situation 1 lens.

 

As far as the EoTS to FTP comment... that is a personal taste issue. What I find is folks never read or follow the sequence of play in EoTS (rule 6.2). I then get a whole host of questions that indicate that no one is following the sequence of play. In a hobby of rules lawyers I find this the most curious situation of all. I get beat up all of the time for not being precise in my wording, but the corollary is most people are not reading what is written, so we are even.

 

My biggest piece of advice is, stop reading the rules per se, but set up the game and play out, move by move using the 1861 turns at the front of the rules. We spent hundreds of hours creating and checking this for accuracy, but no one ever seems to use the resource. Once you get through the third turn in the example, just continue playing into 1862. If you do this you will experience just about every rule in the game through the example. I hope that helps your endeavors... 

 

Mark

 

Eric Brosius wrote:

MarkHerman wrote:

So entering any space that is NOT a port space regardless of whether you exited a Riverine port space to get there is NEVER crossing a river.

 

 

I think you are implying that the CSA can move from Louisville to Bloomington, or from Cincinnati to Falmouth, at any time regardless of the UNC situation, without a fort or ironclad in Louisville or Cincinnati.

 

I didn't think this was legal.

 

In rule 6.2 it says "A force is crossing a river the instant it enters or exits a riverine port space by crossing a blue bar which is part of the port space." (Italics supplied by me.)

 

To me this implies that moving from Louisville to Bloomington is crossing a river (and hence requires DUNC for the CSA,) while your quote seems to contradict this.

 

I recognize that you're the designer, Mark, so I may very well be missing something.

 

 

You have put your finger on the thing that continues to trouble folks, so you are not the first one to get this wrong. However, right in the rule that you cite, there is a diagram (bottom right of pg 24) that explicitly demonstrates the point that I am about to make. By the way the diagram is the Louisville-Bloomington situation that you mention. However, if you read my earlier note, sans a fort, the CSA cannot cross any rivers except when their fort network has protected a large segment of the river as in the opening set up. 

 

I cannot re-iterate this enough, practically speaking, unless you are crossing the Mississippi in the deep south with the original fort configuration, it is easier to assume that the CSA can never cross a river except if they have a fort in the space (note: ironclads allow CSA river crossing like forts, but are vulnerable to removal ala the USS Monitor unlike forts).

 

As to the citation you mention, you need to read the next sentence. It is important not to take just one sentence out of a rule, but apply the entire rule.

 

Rule 6.2...Forts affect entry into a riverine port space when crossing the blue bar that is part of the port space..."

 

The connection to spaces is not bilateral, in that what is permitted in one direction is not permitted in the other direction when a fort and a river are concerned (see the really informative diagram on page 24 that covers this exact situation). The question I always get asked is can a Union unit move from Washington to Manassas if there is a Confederate fort in Manassas. The answer is yes, because Manassas is not a port, so the river rules are not relevant. The opposite situation is not true, you cannot cross from Manassas into Washington if there is a fort in Washington because then you are effected by the river rules.

 

Before trying to apply the river rules ask yourself is the space a port, if the answer is no, do not look at the river rules. The closest wargame metaphor is when a game portrays rivers within a hex as opposed to sitting on a hexside. In FTP the rivers are effectively running through the hex.

 

Besides the written rule and a diagram, not sure what else I can do. People who have tried this game and gotten frustrated, like the nice guy who started this thread, continue to tell me how much the river rules confuse them. I hear their pain, but the rules here are written very precisely and each concept has a diagram, beyond that all I can do is dialog with folks when they ask for help. The key is if the space is not a port then the riverine rules that continue to bother some just do not apply. I hope that helps,

 

Mark 


Posted by markherman at 9:59 AM EST
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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...

 

Mark


Posted by markherman at 9:59 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2009 5:19 PM EST
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Wednesday, 7 January 2009
London Times Article Link
Topic: Wargaming For Leaders
http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/management/article5460627.ece

Posted by markherman at 8:56 PM EST
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Sunday, 4 January 2009
What's the End Game?
Topic: Wargaming For Leaders

Hamas continues to prove that anarchists cannot run a government. It is clear that Hamas' agenda of destroying Israel dominates any concerns about the Palestinians it governs. They purposely make their people targets of Israeli bombs, so they can use the subsequent destruction and deaths as further justification for their agenda. There are reports that Hamas has used the situation to assassinate opponents as they lay helpless in hospital beds. The sad truth is Hamas doesn't care to govern, just sacrifice the Gazan people on the altar of their agenda. What is worse, it is working, if the naive protests across the globe are any indication of popular sentiment. 

 

On the other hand, I cannot believe that the Israelis seriously wargamed this situation out. As outrageous as the rocket attacks were, it is beyond me to imagine how this offensive is going to do anything but legitimize Hamas. Air strikes usually achieve the majority of their objectives in the first 48-72 hours. Once you have knocked down or destroyed all of the fixed infrastructure (e.g., buildings, tunnels, ammo caches) you reach an impasse that forces you to stop or escalate. Which is exactly where the Israelis have found themselves. Fanatics never surrender, that is why they are called fanatics. Since the Israeli military knew this, the ground invasion was always going to be a component of this offensive.

 

Now that the Israeli Army is on the ground in Gaza there is almost no way that innocent civilians will not be killed in significant numbers. If nothing else, Hamas will make sure that this occurs by operating their forces amongst the population. As more Gazans die, the more radical the future generations of Palestinians become. So, it begs the question, what is the Israeli end game?

 

This was a situation where the Israeli's needed to take the missile fire and bring regional actors to the table to cut off Hamas' funding and ability to smuggle in weapons. There is no way that the new longer range rockets that Hamas is firing into Israel got there without the knowledge of Egypt, Iran, and probably all of the other Arab countries. The road to stopping Hamas begins in Tehran and Cairo. Unfortunately Israel was entering an election cycle and felt compelled to take more direct action. The end result of failure is Israel is now going to become more radical as nothing else has worked. It remains to be seen where this all ends, but if the actors in this drama do not start to consider what the end game looks like, the innocents suffer and peace will remain very elusive.

 

However, stay tuned, as the Gaza situation may not remain the crisis du jour. the Indo-Pakistani situation is not fully resolved despite some hopeful signs tempered by Pakistani troop movements. Hard to say how that situation will develop, but the new administration needs to start looking beyond the next crisis with a long term set of initiatives that lead to a positive end game for the Middle East and SW Asia.


Posted by markherman at 10:56 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 5 January 2009 12:19 AM EST
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