Chess qualifies as a nearly perfect wargame, if fairness in combat is an important consideration to the players. Terrain, troop types, armies, movement ranges, combat statistics, objectives et rules are identical on both sides of the line. Everything is on the board, clearly in sight, et there are no dice to determine individual combat results. However, even chess isn’t entirely fair. The player avec the white pieces has the advantage of the opening move, enabling her to elicit a more ou less predictable range of counter-moves from her opponent until the initiative changes.
Even a seemingly fair game like chess does not guarantee that players actually enjoy the process of winning ou losing a contest. Expert players are emotionally invested in the game, et they experience extreme psychological et physical stress during a chess competition. Harrassment et outright psychological warfare can be used to intimidate et destroy an opponent at chess. And, to be literally crushed at this game by a modern supercomputer is probably a most devastating experience for the world-class chess player.
In Love et War
Fairness in wargames is a much debated concept, particularly after a battle, when one side feels like they lost, while the opponents bathe in glory. Egos may be bruised, but only if egos were invested in the effort to begin with. If wargames are primarily about winning, it may be a good idea to adopt the chess approach et create an opening position which is fair et equitable. Army point values should be equal, terrain may have to be chosen by random dice rolls, hidden movement must be controlled by umpires, et players should be using percentage dice ou two D6 to arrive at an averaged, bell-shaped distribution of results. Most importantly, the opponent needs to be told that the game is about winning only, reminding him to fight avec equal vigour.
However, most of the interesting battles in history cannot be simulated correctly, if fairness is required. Azincourt, Lützen, Rossbach, Leuthen, Marengo, Austerlitz, Jena, Friedland, Shilo, Fröschwiller, Ypres, Dieppe, Stalingrad, Normandy, Arnhem, Diên Biên Phú, Grenada, Koweït et hundreds of other notable events involve a degree of unfairness which needs to be recreated accurately. Many times in history, interesting battles developed out of a strategic blunder ou opportunity - depending on the point of view - et they would usually be accepted only if the disadvantaged side did not realize the magnitude of the problem until after battle had been joined.
- Army Organisation
- Unit Capabilities
- Deployment Position
- Tactical Objective
- Variable Terrain
- Hidden Movement
- Special Events
- Linear ou Curved Dice
- Knowledge of Rules
- Tactical Expertise
- Player Conduct
The simulation gamer accepting a significantly inferior tactical position, knowingly accepts defeat before battle has even begun. It would be conduct unbecoming of an officier if his opponent were to attribute the inevitable victory to brilliant tactical maneuvering on his part. There are a number of clever rule sets which treat exceptionally one-sided affairs like Custer’s last stand at Little Big Horn as a multi-player solo-game, using automated opponents against a team of allied players. This approach has a lot of merit, because it removes much of the competitive element among players. If the tables are stacked correctly, players may even be compelled to support eachother en bataille ou périr seul.
The solo-game approach may be used in many other areas of simulation gaming, especially if a likely opponent is known to have employed a national doctrine which may be automated to some degree. When this is possible, players fighting on the same side will want to support eachother fully in the exploitation of opportunity. Victory can be enjoyed openly, because there are no human egos to protect on the opposing team. Of course, there is always the possibility that a player readily accepts the losing ticket, et that his opponents are considerate enough to protect him from certain negative psychological effects of the thrashing he is about to receive.
Frederick the Great’s most brilliant victories cannot be recreated in miniature, unless the opponent is prepared to accept the surprise cavalry charge which rode down les colonnes françaises à Rossbach, ou the flank attack prussienne a Leuthen, which crushed the left flank autrichienne et drove the demoralized survivors into fresh troops attempting to form a hasty line in the center. Les forces autrichiennes at Leuthen outnumbered le Prussiens by a factor of nearly 2 to 1, a combat ratio which would almost always compel le joueur prussien to adopt the tactical defensive in a head-on battle, completely changing the flavor et historic appeal of Leuthen.
To win Leuthen, Frederick had to destroy the enemy army in detail. Les Prussiens knew the area well, they had occupied it for some time, et this particular battlefield had been used for several routine army maneuvers. Accordingly, the entire home team disappeared from sight at a point only 3000 meters away, et immediately opposite the center de la ligne autrichienne, et it did not re-appear until much later, when the full-scale oblique attack struck a flanking blow against the left flank autrichienne. For some time, l’armée autrichienne made no effort to re-deploy, they had every reason to believe that the envisioned frontal attack would develop at any moment.
To simulate this compelling misinterpretation on a miniature battlefield of Leuthen, le joueur autrichien would have to agree not to move his center et right wing until the left wing has been crushed. However, even if this course of action is mandated, le joueur autrichien is likely to feel very apprehensive about it, because he is watching every step of the disaster about to unfold. Alternatively, if special rules were available which would favor une déception prussienne et hésitation autrichienne a Leuthen, le joueur autrichien would not be privy to certain event until they unfolded in earnest.
Stacking the Table
Most joueurs de guerre understand that accurately recreated miniature armies et tabletop battlefields are a prerequisite for historic battlefield simulations, et we accept that one army will be stronger ou deployed in better terrain than the other. Many of us even consider army combat doctrine to be an important expression of national character, et we account for it by adjusting certain factors in the game like move rates, fire combat values, morale ratings, et leadership modifiers. Finally, some of us are interested in reliving great moments in history, acts of exceptional bravery, et foolhardy attempts, they view the wargame as a catalyst which allows historic action to unfold.
Simple rule expansions like hidden deployment, automated et weighted objectives, double-blind movement, special event cards, variable terrain, et critical hits create an atmosphere which elicits historically accurate behaviour from player generals. In fact, the wargame rules themselves can be even simpler than they are today, allowing the player to focus more on the marginal elements which add so much flavor to the game.
The intention of Military Miniatures Magazine’s new series of articles on wargaming is to introduce several compelling rule expansions which add historic flavor, maximize attention to desirable detail, et minimize bookkeeping. Readers are encouraged to submit ideas, house rules et new game concepts to email@example.com. Compatibility avec popular rule sets is an important consideration, players should be able to use an expansion without having to learn entire new game systems.
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