In post-game retrospective, I asked if the village defenders ought to be afforded a DRM on activations when deployed within a village (or any substantial protection) to improve their lot for activation. The rationale for my suggestion centered upon leadership. I figured that a unit situated within protected terrain ought to see an advantage in command and control responses. Now, the incoming fire could be sufficient to pin the defenders but would the likelihood of response be no more than that from a unit caught in the open?
“For complex rules tend to suffer from conceptual flaws. The chief of these is what can be referred to as 'double jeopardy', or to be specific, accounting twice for a contingency that should only be considered once. For example, units which are behind cover frequently enjoy a morale bonus in complex rulesets: however, this fails to account for the fact that the role of cover has already been accounted for, given that the unit within would suffer fewer casualties than its more exposed comrades. If the unit behind cover is still suffering sufficient casualties to endure a morale test, then it is clear that the cover is no longer doing its job – and should not therefore confer any morale bonus.”
Thomas, Neil. Wargaming Nineteenth Century Europe 1815-1878. Pen and Sword. Kindle Edition.Now, Thomas' Wargaming 19C Europe is one of the favorite wargaming books in my library. I view this important work as a body of design notes with rules and scenarios attached. Before this exchange, I am not sure I ever read this passage quite so closely or understood the nuance packed into these few sentences.
Assume we agree on Thomas' definition of double jeopardy. If double jeopardy occurs during one process in the model (say firing) then that could be open to scrutiny and critique. Can double jeopardy affect separate processes within the combat model? Is it a critical flaw to have an attribute affecting one process (say, firing) also affect another process (say, activation)? Is this truly double counting? If the perceived double jeopardy surfaces across processes within the combat model, does this still violate Thomas' rule of thumb? I think every instance must be validated on its own merit and within the totality of any given combat model. The assessment relies on process and modeling combat.
Let's take a look at Peter's D3 OHW rules (a variant of Thomas' One Hour Wargaming) as a case in point using the example of shooting and activation.
Shooting and Activation are two separate and distinct processes within D3 OHW. Cover reduces hits. The fewer the number of hits a unit has sustained, the more likely the unit is to activate. Good so far. The process of activation is separate from the process of taking fire. Does this still fall into a double jeopardy situation? Are the shooting and activation contingencies a double counting of attributes that should only be counted once?
Suppose two units (one in cover, one in open) have sustained the same number of hits. What does a failed activation represent? If it represents a temporary loss of cohesion or resolve to the testing unit then doesn't being within cover offer a Command & Control advantage over being in the open if hits are equal? If C&C is enhanced by cover then Activation Tests ought to carry a modifier for cover during the Activation Phase. If C&C remains the same whether in cover or in open then no modifier is needed. The decision really rests upon the designer's shoulders. What does the designer want to model and emphasize in his game engine?
In the end, Peter thought that adding a DRM to activation rolls for units in prepared positions (such as a trench) may make sense but not for cover such as villages. We will see if that change makes it into the rules.
What is my point on double jeopardy?
I guess I am saying that "one size fits all" is not applicable and that, as in most things, "it depends." Separate processes have less to worry about violating double jeopardy (however it is defined) than do double counting inconsistencies within one process. The designer must make these decisions on how to model combat. Not all approaches that contradict Thomas are based upon conceptual flaws. Sure, some may but it is not universal.
To end for now, when is a perceived double jeopardy not double jeopardy? Is the concept of double jeopardy avoided when the violation occurs across two or more distinct processes or do these accounting contingencies have memory and carry across multiple game processes and routines?
When I return to this topic, I look at examples of what are and are not double jeopardy, how to assess the difference, and does Thomas violate his own ruling.
Many questions with not as many answers since double jeopardy seems anchored upon situational specifics and personal preference. As always, I enjoy reading your thoughts on double jeopardy. Do you agree with Thomas?
In the meantime, I'll take Obscure Wargaming Terminology for $1,000, Alex.
Generally yes and specifically No!ReplyDelete
What I mean is that all rule writers should scrutinise their process to avoid genuine double jeopardy, but I think in this specific situation the question we are asking is that does it ‘feel right’ that turn after turn the defenders cannot fire?
Occasional failing to activate is something I like, it represents the chaos of command and the lack of all - around perspective that we unfairly give our little people. In this instance, perhaps they are just keeping their heads down from concentrated and sniper fire.
But repeated failures seem odd, might seem unfair (the dice sometimes does that) and perhaps undermines a good game, which is what this is all about really.
I think in this instance, if a defender of a village fails to activate fine, but the next time it perhaps should have a favourable TEMPORARY DRM and then once activated that DRM is lost until the same situation arrises.
If one thinks about a village or anything similar that is fortified and designed to defend, then that is what it should do. In boardgame terms, it would have a zone of control, i.e it would influence the area around it, but how can it do that if it cannot fire - if the defenders are suppressed or some-such, then yes, otherwise the whole point of a strong point is to dominate that strategic point (Hougoumont!).
Where double jeopardy may creep in is that in most rules, if an attacker assaults a defended position, the defender automatically gets closing fire … that might be an area to think about.
I have the boardgame Marengo on the table (Jours de Gloire). in that system, holding a village means the defender does not have a flank or rear and treats every hexside as though it were its front …. But the flip side is that when it fires, it suffers a -1 DRM to represent that ‘defending every direction’ aspect.
Fundamentally, the specific issue in this case is best answered by asking what should a defended village look like and behave like. What should the defender expect and hope for and what does the attacker expect and fear.
It perhaps should be the point on the table that dominates the commanders attention - is it doing that?
Perhaps the double jeopardy could be removed if small arms were ineffective against the village - leaving artillery with a truer role and the reality of having to do the job at point of bayonet / assault.
Or small arms cannot cause casualties, but do cause morale checks (frazzled nerves). It is most interesting to consider the challenges and options open to the designer.
“Yes and no”, I like that. Thanks for your feedback, Norm.Delete
One simple question for you that may be answered with a “Yes”, “No”, or “It depends”…
Does having a DRM for cover in one phase (Shooting) and a DRM for cover in a different phase (Activation) represent a case of double jeopardy?
No, I see it just a bit of fine tuning to get to the ‘feel’ that you may be happy with, though it does come at the cost of additional rules overhead, which is something that the current trend towards streamlining tends to avoid.Delete
The DRM to activate would only be applied if the unit had failed to activate in a previous turn, which is just a process of trying to smooth out the chaos factor from being too energetic!
In Black Powder, you roll for orders (in effect activation), if you fail, that is the end of that …. EXCEPT if you have a unit in march column, it will always get one move - this just seems a sensible approach to dealing with march columns, which one assumes that once in motion, with a destination to go to, they would not be stop -start - stop for no apparent reason. Chaos is good, but if it stops things happening that would normally happen then it loses its justification.
I'm going to have to think about this one a bit, Jon. Definitely interesting. One thing in the village example that is worth questioning is why do you think troops in the village should have less command and control disruption? If it is because they suffer less from impact of incoming fire, I'd suggest NT's "double jeopardy" ruling applies. If, however, you have a different rationale, like communication is easier, it wouldn't apply, IMO. So, the generalised takeaway would be what is your abstract mechanism representing/modelling?Delete
Anthony, prompting a good think is the goal! I reckon your answer is “it depends.”Delete
Rather than focus entirely on the village example I provided, turn your attention toward the response of “double jeopardy” as a reason for not having a modifier for cover in both Activation and Shooting Phases.
Would allowing a DRM (or move reduction) in cover during Movement Phase trigger a “double jeopardy” response for having a DRM for cover in the Shooting Phase?
I think, on reflection, that "true" double jeopardy is where you apply modifiers for the same cause twice. So, say, reduction in casualties of the target for being in cover and reducing the chance of the shooter hitting a target in cover is covering the same thing twice. Giving a lower hit chance at a target in armour but also a higher saving throw to the target because of the armour likewise. However, giving a lower hit chance against a target in cover but also a higher saving throw because of armour isn't truly double jeopardy because the causes are independent. Whether it is good design could be debated separately.Delete
Anthony, we agree! To extrapolate, if a unit in cover receives a benefit in reducing the probability of being hit, would a subsequent Morale Test triggered by this shooting factor in this cover or not???Delete
Thanks for your comments!
Jonathan, I would agree with Norm.....the laws of unintended consequences make the situation you describe very believable . What is modeled is the huddling the cover, the going to ground of the units concerned . You followed the rules of deployment, took a good position, your troops appreciate your help in staying alive. If you don't think the solution is valid, certainly change the rule.ReplyDelete
Just remember, Donald Featherstone called the stacking of modifiers to die rolls "cobbler' s crap." Rules writers are reacting to that idea as well
Thanks, Joe! I agree with your rationale on the specific case of defending a village. Instead of focusing on that specific situation, generalize your thoughts toward the notion of double jeopardy as a response to not having a modifier for both Activation and Shooting.Delete
See my response to Anthony above.
By the way, I do not recall Featherstone’s “cobbler’s crap” comment. Good one to remember.
Responding last to first,;Delete
It is because you are too young, m'lad.
If you know anyone ever playing WRG Ancient rules, 4th through 6th Edition (been there, done that, it is why I have my gunpowder rule) ask them about the morale chart. Spend three minutes on factors that 90% plus or minus cancelled each other out in the process to roll. Add a factor for each new situation, 'cobbler's crap. '
Okay and...I like activation rolls about as much as I like saving rolls, or melees that continue into the next phase/turn, that is to say not at all.
Pummel a unit with attention and a unit will react or not. Are you objecting to how easy it was to roll poorly to activate despite the cover?
Do you feel it should have been automatic to do something because the units were in town? In that vein, how easy is it to form a square when the cavalry are charging you? Would it matter if the attack is from the rear? Flank? Do you get to do wonderful things since you are now in square? Double jeopardy?
The only way through to a solution to the 'problem' is to stop breaking out activating vs. firing at vs. melee.
Another example: Column, Line & Square...cavalry charge, a 2 D6 roll, 7 and above is a go ahead, suffice it to say 4 or less routed the charger. Yes, a brand new 27 casting unit of Scot's Greys routes off the table turn 2 despite no casualties. Basically an activation roll. Never played those rules again. (1975)
If I play the rules, and the set allows a lower casualty rate and a positive bonus to morale tests to stay, is not that what a commander would want? Do you think you should 'cap' advantages? In other words, a D10 roll of 5 or less to hit, goes to 4 or less in unit is in any sort of advantageous situation?
The original combat rule was two units (soldier models) come together, a coin is tossed and the loser is removed. My, that would be real old school.
Thanks for dipping back into this topic, Joe! Many good thoughts will more to consider.Delete
While I never played WRG, it is not because I am too young, I reckon. I have played CLS, though. Gosh, what a bloody game.
Intriguing. I'll have to think about double jeopardy some more, but can't disagree with Norm.ReplyDelete
Regarding command and control in a town or village. I wonder whether this is harder than we imagine. Consider that a battalion or company are deployed in buildings, barricades and junctions around the perimeter. How does a commander quickly get orders to each part?... wherever they may be... and that is assuming that they don't move seeking better cover. Plus, if they are pinned by fire, then isn't it harder for orders to get through? At least on a field in formation the unit are mostly in plain sight of the officers.
Having said that, one might assume that if in a village and fired on the troops would use local inituitive to defend or respond. Effectively the defend and fire back order is established upon occupation and deployment.
Still thinking about double jeopardy!!
Thanks for weighing in, Richard! Happy to provide some food for additional thought.Delete
Now, turn your focus to double jeopardy, itself, rather than my village example.
Is claiming “double jeopardy” an acceptable reason for not allowing modifiers for cover in both Activation and Shooting Phase?
What if we were claiming double jeopardy for cover as a reason for not having modifiers in both Movement and Shooting Phases?
I think not. One is about being able to act on orders, the other is about the effectiveness in which the orders are then executed. Both may have their own rationale for modifiers.Delete
I'm not sure that double jeopardy universally holds. A charge on a flank may confer a morale modifier on both attacker and defender. One due to the heightened morale gained by the sense of likelihood of victory, the other by a sense panic and caught at a disadvantage. Do you only apply once to one unit. No, because both are uniquely affected.
Still pondering though.
We, perhaps, are looking through the same lense now. I agree that double jeopardy is not universally held but situational. I also wonder if we can extend the notion of double jeopardy to being applicable only within a particular game process or phase and not across game phases?Delete
This is a great discussion. But this is really about those who write rules and seek conceptual validation in the streamlined and efficient manner of their mechanics.Delete
Rules are written for players to understand and execute in games. So regardless of the existence of double jeopardy or not, if the consumers consider that it feels right, is fun, and gives a satisfyingly plausible experience then the rules work.
As defined, I'm not sure that I would readily recognise it in commercial rules, nevermind avoid it in my own.
I am enjoying this discussion too. I wager many of us here are rules' tinkers by trade. Having considered double jeopardy, you will know what to look for and be seeing instances of it often. Sometimes where it is not!Delete
Thank you for contributing to the conversation!
Hey JF, our home grown rules had similar 'flaws' that were highlighted after I read Neil Thomas's book. A simplistic case was the superior fire factor of say English longbows...and then the negative ( dice deduction) that bows had firing at heavy infantry or knights- but exempting longbows. So they were getting double benefit. Our home grown set was full of these types of 'double jeopardy' and led to some big re-writes.ReplyDelete
John, this is a perfect example of what I envision as double jeopardy.Delete
I find the tortured explanations in defense of any number of the of the bizarre situations that arises from the current craze of any of the fake friction systems (Thomas included) nothing more than conclusions in search of premises. "Well, you may have failed to activate sixteen times in a row, and that makes this a particularly good simulation of warfare...let me tell you about the battle of Adrian's Ankle where a snake frightened the horse of the left wing commander...blah, blah, blah...and that is why your troops did nothing in the face of enemy action for the equivalent of seventy two hours." Others may like those things, but I'll take something along the lines of what you suggest: there needs to be some common sense involved.ReplyDelete
Good one, Ed! I prefer common sense and generalizations over special cases too. If not those, then at least something I can rationalize in my own mind.Delete
Good discussion already, and a couple of small points strike me. Neil Thomas's morale rules tend to control the possibility that a unit runs away (or loses a base); reducing that possibility as well as reducing the chance of being hit in the first place is clearly double jeopardy, where activation would be unrelated.ReplyDelete
Coming back to your original complaint that the village defenders failed activation repeatedly, I wonder why that feels wrong in comparison with an attacking unit failing to activate. Is this just the issue that it shouldn't be possible for any unit to spend the whole battle as a spectator, which caused such bad reviews for Lion Rampant? As Norm says, that could be fixed by a +DRM for each turn missed, until the unit can't fail to activate.
Thanks for adding into the discussion. Now, please identify yourself!Delete
The purpose of focusing on the village defenders inability to activate at the beginning of the post was to highlight that double jeopardy was the reason for not having a modifier. Putting that aside, I figured a unit in a defensive position benefitting from cover ought to have an increased chance to activate. Is this a bad assumption to make?
I agree that Thomas violates his own rules on double jeopardy. You provide one example and there is at least one other in Wargaming 19C Europe.
I have always thought that saving throws are a case of double jeopardy. I have always understood the concept of scoring a hit and rolling for damage as per a naval game, or rolling dice and having the score dictate the level of damage, but have always found the concept of obtaining a hit and then handing over to the other player to totally negate the effect of that hit difficult to get used to even though they arguably amount to the same thing.ReplyDelete
All the rules I play use activation rolls to dictate movement, but units are always able to defend themselves and shoot back whether they are activated or not. The effectiveness of that return fire can vary according to the circumstances under which they find themselves, with shaken units unlikely to do much damage. I would find having a unit protected in a village but unable to fire very frustrating, but would view being unable to move or reposition troops due if they failed an activation test as fair enough and indicative of a temporary loss of control or reluctance to leave cover.
Are Saving Throws a case of double jeopardy? I do not see how one can be considered accounting for something twice that should only be counted once. Eliminating the notion of a Saving Throw is not mathematically difficult. The designer simply combines the probabilities of HITS and SAVES into one joint probability so that one die roll does the work of two.Delete
Negating a well-earned hit is annoying but we ought to rationalize it in other terms so that it is not thought of as HITS and SAVES.
I do not care for the term Saving Throw either.
I personally really dislike saving throws as a rules mechanism. There are more elegant ways to deal with these situations!Delete
On saving throws, it really depends upon how they are implemented. If "hits" are thought of in terms of Fire Effectiveness then why not term "Saving Throws" as Cohesion Tests? It works for me if put into play correctly.Delete
I personally think the almost universal use if saving throws us primarily a mechanism to involve " both sides" in the portion of the game....the defending player us imagined to feel more engaged if he is rolling to make saves!Delete
As to your point Jon, you will know the maths of that bette than most of us! Our mate Marks explanation for introducing saving rolls to his rules is it increases the number of possible increments for success and failure, so he can have more nuanced results....but my argument to the is use a D 10 or 12 or even 20 if that's what you need...and just say, in certain situations, only a score if 19 or 20 will get a hit!
Keith, involving the inactive player into the game process is a good reason for including a saving throw. Without some engagement, the passive player may wander off during this down time and not pay attention to the tabletop action. Perhaps we ought to have a separate discussion on saving throws?Delete
Some 40 years ago, developing my own ACW rule set (Bluebellies and Graybacks), I had the same idea as Neil's, though expressed somewhat differently. I figured that the effect of incoming would be the sole trigger of a test for morale/ reaction. A unit in cover being somewhat protected would suffer fewer losses and would therefore be less likely to retreat or rout.ReplyDelete
In an early campaign battle a Confederate regiment protected by a hastily constructed earthwork came under attack from a whole Union brigade, advancing through a tract of woodland. The CSA did a decent amount of damage to the lead Union regiment, but lost a figure to incoming. That was enough to trigger a test, the CSA failed, and they abandoned their entrenchment.
It seemed to me that that was 'too easy' (though not altogether 'unrealistic'). On reflection it seemed to me not unreasonable to suppose that a unit taking stick might tend to stay where there is protection than to hazard a retreat into the open. I seem also to recall a comment made by someone in respect to the effect upon infantry of having friendly artillery in close attendance. It helped morale, and units tended to stick around longer in the face of enemy fire in such circumstances. Note that the artillery can offer no real protection from incoming fire (except maybe to reduce it in some way). So clearly it is the moral support of the artillery that affects the reaction of the infantry.
It appears that a unit's morale or reaction is in some way associated with a perception of risk (to life and limb). Anything that might seem to reduce risk in the face of enemy fire will go towards reassuring the unit under fire.
In the end I persuaded myself that the 'double jeopardy' (not that I used such an expression) was justified. Mind you, I always kept the modifier list short and simple.
Ion, thanks for your comment!Delete
I, too, think morale and associated response ought to be a function of perceived risk. What was the double jeopardy that you addressed in this example? Was it the presence of nearby artillery?
I remember Neil Thomas' idea making a big impression when he included it in an article on his Napoleonic rules in ( I think ) Henry Hyde's Battlegames mag. In the Portable Pike and Shot game I recently tried, I noticed Alan Saunders had spotted a bit of 'double jeopardy' where the original 'PW' rules allow Elite units to have an extra 1 SP, but also make it harder to remove SPs from them on the hit resolution table - so they get double benefit. He kept the extra SP but stripped-down the hit resolution to treat all unit grades the same - absolutely right.ReplyDelete
I guess one might indeed argue that troops in cover should be easier to activate as they feel safer - or perhaps they would be less keen to put their heads up and engage, and more likely to just hunker down?! How about making them more likely to activate the closer the enemy came to them? Is that a nice side-step? Its good to think about and discuss this kind of stuff...
David, when you can identify and recognize a double jeopardy then it can be addressed properly as you did. If you do not recognize it as such then the task is much harder. As I mentioned in the body of the post, the designer must make these choices. Perhaps having a double jeopardy situation (however defined) is OK in the combat model?Delete
It is very good to think about such matters and discuss them in a fruitful way.
Thanks for your feedback!
All very much a matter of "it depends"; however I understand Thomas;' point that wherever possible, use s single effect instead of two separate ones. A reasonable starting point, if not a hard and fast requirement. :-)ReplyDelete
We are on the same page...Delete
There may be a difference here between a) the village-holding unit ‘actively’ shooting back to a degree where they may cause attrition on an attacking unit and b) the village-holding unit ‘passively’ holding on the the village while not risking poking their heads out of cover to shoot? It could be argued that while unable to activate (in game terms) they weren’t able to significantly contribute to reducing the enemy force, BUT they WERE still holding on and blocking that enemy force’s chance to break through (which is modelled by the decreased rate at which their nominal ‘strength’ is reduced, through being in cover). So, a fine line between ‘able to fight hard’ and ‘able to not run away’…as reflected by the activation roll relating directly to how much of a pasting they had taken so far.ReplyDelete
Bit of a tough topic to argue, as a lot probably depends on the perception of the wargamer as to what is being modelled. ‘Failed to activate’ might yet involve a bit of unmodelled desultory fire from the defence, but not enough to be counted in gaming terms, whereas ‘activated’ might be seen to reflect a significant volume of fire from the defence.
Apologies for the ramble…..😶
No apology necessary, Martin. This is a most interesting ramble. Player perception is key to rationalizing what is happening down on the table. Thank you!Delete
I THINK I agree with most comments above .....but I may not understand them all! Anything I might have added to the debate has already been covered, so I will keep my own counsel....ReplyDelete
Well, at least you read through the discussion and considered weighing in. That is good!Delete
Hmm? Whether the rules are wrong or right, sometimes a little common sense needs to be used. If a unit is in cover in a village, they should be allowed to fire out, not at full effect as they're spread out.ReplyDelete
I agree, Ray. The rules ought to reconcile with common sense and perception. Still, the rules as written function as expected.Delete
A topic that I don't suppose I've ever thought about Jon, as I've always seemed to play with roll to hit and roll to save mechanisms. I can't think of any that have obviously caused double jeopardy, but I could be wrong of course. Certainly an enlightening post and comments to get the grey cells ticking over!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Steve! Good to get the grey cells ticking over! Since you are a self-confessed Hit/Save wargamer, a discussion on Saving Throws might prove another interesting topic for discussion. Why the bifurcation in this Love/Hate relationship with Saving Throws?Delete
Fascinating discussion here, Jonathan - I'm not sure I have much to add that hasn't been said but that's never stopped me before!ReplyDelete
Put me in the camp of "it depends". I think it has to vary based on the intent of the rules designer, what level of combat they are trying to model, and what they feel a particular mechanism models. It undoubtedly also has to factor in what feels right to the players of the game who are actually using the rules - since very often we do not know anything about the designer's intentions.
A quick aside, it would be nice if designers explicitly defined what is meant when a unit "shoots" or a unit is "hit" (for example, strictly wounded/KIA, which I think many players tend to assume, or a loss of combat effectiveness which includes morale, as in Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargames rules). Similarly activation rolls, morale recovery, etc. It could just be a mechanism to introduce game-play friction rather than model any real phenomena, but it would be nice to know that!
Back to my rambling.
By way of example, what comes to mind, for me, is 1 figure:1 person skirmish systems where the shooting figure suffers a penalty to hit the target (ie a bonus for the target) because the target is in cover, and the target, if hit, gets a bonus due to the cover when determining the severity of the wound (just a scratch, knocked down, or dead - which is, in essence, one of those oft maligned saving throws) and the reaction to the fire (do they duck, run away, stay and fight).
Is this double(or triple)-jeopardy?
In this case, despite the shooting figure being penalized three times because the target is in cover, it would not be double-jeopardy if the intent is to model various levels at which cover impacts the shooting event. Of course, as the player controlling the shooting figure, I might feel quite a bit different and perceive it as double-jeopardy, particularly if the dice favor the targeted figure. That is until my figure in cover is being shot at!
If the intent is to model only the impact of cover on the ability of a shooter to hit a target, not on the wound or reaction that follows, then the additional bonuses on the results rolls would be double-jeopardy. In that case, perhaps they were just modifiers left over from early drafts and rightly ignored.
I didn't say it was a *good* example :D
Cheers and thanks for making me think a bit on a Friday afternoon!
What do you mean you have not much to add? Your comments add a lot!Delete
I agree with request for rules' writers to include Design Notes. Armed with the premise and thought process going into the design, readers could assess almost immediately if they buy into the design philosophy, goals, and methods. This would be most useful.
I am in the camp of "it depends" along with you. Once we understand the method and execution of particular rules' mechanisms, perhaps what appears to be double jeopardy actually is not. Or vice versa.
You sum up the discussion's challenges very well. Glad you added your thoughts into the conversation! Thank you!
Such an interesting discussion prompted by your post Jon. With a bit more thought from our initial correspondence and aided by the many comments, it seems to come down to: 1) what context you are applying to the activation mechanism, 2) how you view the terrain from a few painted wooden blocks, and 3) is it sufficient of an advantage to have a DRM?ReplyDelete
The activation mechanism covers a number of things for Sinai-Palestine campaign. These include: command and control (already mentioned) and supply. These battles were fought in a harsh environment, hot and dry with poor roads. This meant unit’s effectiveness was also impacted by their supply of ammunition as well as water with degraded as the battles progressed. The lack of water in this campaign could cause units to cease their advance and in some cases retire. All these factors are wrapped up in a D6 roll (returning to this a couple of paragraphs).
Perception of terrain and what the buildings represents. Is it a small village with a handful of houses and a few walls here and there? Following the initial discussion with Jon there was a strong argument for units in prepared positions (eg trenches) should benefit in their activation with a DRM. This was because prepared position would (or more then likely) have supplies of ammunition, water, and defenders would be well established in their planned positions. As opposed to occupying a village where the benefit is a reduction in hits.
The current discussion has also raised the question for me as to how well I describe the scenario. From memory Charles Grants tabletop teasers were quite descriptive of their terrain features. If in the scenario I had included a bit more of a description, e.g. that the village is abandoned and a collection of run down dwellings and poorly maintained walls. Then the question of a DRM may not have come to mind because of the context provided. This is in itself an interesting point about writing scenarios, but for another time maybe?
The final consideration is whether the buildings provide sufficient cover to have a DRM. That is not saying they don’t have some benefit, but is the benefit big enough? Again this comes to context. For example, if buildings provide a DRM +1, should not prepared positions such as trenches provided a better DRM +2? In rules using a D6, is there enough fineness with the dice to represent this? I suspect not, and I can now hear my D20’s rattling around in their dusty box. As the rules originate from One-Hour Wargames with a few modifications I have tried to apply the Neil Thomas approach as best I can, and I do like the idea of an activation DRM+1 for units in prepared trenches.
Peter, our brief post-game exchanges launched a very interesting discussion. The commentary seems to be split between comments regarding activation DRMs and cover, and double jeopardy. Both branches offer interesting insights to ponder.Delete
As you list out, the result of this dialog reduces to a few design choices. In every case, I think it ultimately rests upon design preference and objectives.
This has been a fascinating discussion. I am glad that this conversation helps steer your design in a direction of your liking. I enjoy seeing you work through these puzzles in a logical manner. Always good to get a peek behind the design curtain.
Looking forward to our rematch!
Not sure I have the time to contribute to the discussion, but a very interesting topic and one I will now be more aware of.ReplyDelete
No worries. There is a lot to digest at this point.Delete
I must confess that I’ve never thought of it seriously. My own double jeopardy is when the wife gets mad at me for something as it happens and then will proceed to bring it up Again days / weeks/ years later …ReplyDelete
Sometimes it’s even triple jeopardy. 😀
You understand double jeopardy very well!Delete
One does find many of the best discussions here! :)ReplyDelete
I'm not sure I have anything to add but having been activated I'll go ahead and try to add noise if nothing else. Now a warning, I really don't like "activation" rules per se even when I do occasionally use them. When I compare history to game mechanics, one does find occasionally that a commander takes longer than expected to prepare and execute an order, or makes an error in what he thinks he has been ordered to do, just plain gets lost or is being affected by enemy action but for each such incident there are hundreds if not thousands of orders being obeyed so the percentages of subordinate error are grossly exaggerated in many wargames. (not to mention the opposite possible results, I get very tired of hearing the Light Brigade at Balaclava being brought up when technically, they did what they were ordered, It was the general (ie the player) who screwed up, not the subordinate! )
As far as the particular example of cover and activation, I can see that either troops or commanders who are in cover, might be reluctant to leave it, and I can see that 20thC+ troops in cover may be reluctant to put their heads up and rush out into the open, but I have a hard time seeing them not shooting because they are in cover. Sort of makes one wonder why people built forts.......
Ross, I appreciate your endorsement of the discussion quality!Delete
Rolling to activate, while adding some friction (sometimes a lot!) into a game, in many applications they add too much chaos into the system for my tastes. Still, they can perform a useful function in some situations.
I have a wargaming buddy who, when asked about activation rolls, clearly stated that he puts all of the figures out on the table to use. He wants them doing something!
Good point about fortifications.
I'm coming late to the discussion ;-)ReplyDelete
I don't worry about that much, insofar I look at the resulting behaviour of units on the table. There's always a danger in overanalyzing individual procedures and trying to match them to real world actions. If the combined effect of frequency of activation + firepower + damage taken + morale ... results in a realistic behaviour of the unit, then the rules are ok. Whether bonuses and penalties are accounted for in one procedure only, or spread out over various procedures, doesn't matter that much.
In my own games, I therefore tend to look more towards behaviour of the army as a whole, depending on rule mechanics. Take e.g. a typical attack scenario, with a static defender. Suppose your rules say a unit - upon activation - can either shoot or move, but not both. What should be the ratio of attackers vs defenders for such a scenario? Defenders can shoot every turn, but attackers have to alternate between shooting and moving. Do you increase the number of attacking units to counter for this effect? Do you compensate by giving an increased activation chance for attacking units? Or do you give die roll modifiers for attackers? Neither of these options is wrong or right, but one has to be aware what one tries to simulate.
There is an example though in which double jeopoardy can be important, and that is giving some troop types bonuses based on hsitorical behaviour, if these bonuses would only be the result of statistical chance. E.g. suppose that based on the historical record, the Purple Brigade has performed excellent. The initial reaction of many wargamers would be to give the Purple Brigade a +1 on some die roll. But perhaps the Purple Brigade only did better because they rolled a 6 in the first place, so why give them a +1? Some unit will turn out to be the best, perhaps only be sheer luck. Should this luck be reflected in the rules, or should the rules produce their own luck, perhaps not for the Purple Brigade, but in our games perhaps for the Maroon Brigade?
Excellent, Phil! Never too late to add in your thoughts and comments. Very good to see you take the time to weigh-in on this issue (or non-issue).Delete
For me, these decisions ought to be left up to the designer. Let's hope the designer/developer knows what is what.
Apologies for being so late to the party. I'd like to return to the original point which I don't think has anything to do with double jeopardy and is more about the logic, or otherwise, of activation systems. My view is that in reality a commander orders his units to eg advance. He doesn't need to keep telling them to do so every so often. How about, instead of activating units you put an order counter with a unit and the unit will continue to follow that order until the commander sends them a new one. There'll be circumstances in which the order may end, such as encountering an enemy in which case you can dice for reaction. Better still, give the unit commander some character - is he the type who will halt and wait to ee how hte siutation develops, is he the type who yells 'charge!' and leads the men forward to death or glory, etc, etc and dice against his character. The input of the player is then one of trying to control what is happening in the game by sending orders or perhaps going over to the critical point or should he give an order to his reserve. Decisions, decisions.ReplyDelete
Never too late to the party, Brian! Late comments are always welcome. Yours are no exception.Delete
You raise a good point on orders. I have a set of Napoleonic rules that do just as suggest. That is, orders are issued and actives upon until either countermanded or the formation encounters a triggering effect that changes the order involuntarily.