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mcaryf1

Realism and loops

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I enjoyed reading MonsterClaude's post about realism in the Tournament thread but I did not think I should respond to it there as that thread is for the tournament.

I understand entirely that Hubert and his team have as a priority to produce an enthralling and balanced game at a reasonable economic cost to them and realism has to be sacrificed on occasion. I try in my comments to identify aspects where I think the balance has swung unnecessarily far away from realism. This is largely because I would like to influence their thinking for the future (SC3) and to give other modders ideas as to how variants might treat the aspect in question because I do not think it reasonable to ask Fury Software to make major design changes in a just issued game.

In previous versions of SC I have noted the unrealistic size of Midway on the map. I understand the SC issue is the difficulty of basing enough units there given that SC does not have stacking. However, the truth was that Midway itself could only be defended by naval forces. If the US fleet had lost the naval battle of Midway, then the island would have fallen. However, the more interesting consequence thereafter would have been how might the Japanese have attempted to defend it as the same dilemna would have existed for them. As it is players now have a different option to pile up land and air units which seems to me to be an unnecessary additional invention which I would prefer not to be carried forward into future variants.

I guess adjusting loops possibly would make a significant difference to play so my next suggestion might also be ruled out but I will try it anyway. My objection to loops is not that they prevent transports from being intercepted but that they take units out of the game for too long. Hubert actually made an amendment at my request so that transports can be set to have an evasion in the editor. I am not sure if any other modder has used that yet but it is a step towards reality because extremely few troopships were intercepted in WW2. Speed made them almost invulnerable to U Boats and escorts were provided if there was any chance of surface ship intervention.

It seems to me that the design of the loops in AOD has been too much influenced by the in game logic rather than the reality of what they might represent thus they are set to take too many turns. There is an interesting web site here http://ww2troopships.com/crossings.htm that gives many examples of journeys made by particular units travelling via troopships in WW2. One for example shows a unit travelling from Brooklyn NY to New Caledonia via the Panama Canal in around 1 month of elapsed time.

The elapsed time between a player's game turn is actually 28 days (14 days alternate). A troop transport moving at say 18 knots would travel about 12,000 nautical miles in that time. The loops seem to be set to match how long a transport unit might take at 21 squares per turn to reach a destination rather than how long they would have taken in real life. Even a slow convoy of merchant ships would get across the Atlantic in less than the elapsed time between player turns let alone a "fast" troopship.

Unfortunately the scale of the map means that loops are necessary but in my view with 28 days elapsed none of them needs to be longer than 1 turn delay.

I have said few troopships were intercepted by naval forces in WW2 but undoubtedly they might have been if carriers had been available to the opposition. Thus I would recommend that the loop which emerges in the Red Sea should actually be shifted to the Indian Ocean so that the Allied player has to worry about whether a Japanese carrier TF might be lurking there to ambush them and whatever escort they might have. The same argument might also be true for moving the Australian loop exits further from safety. However, I would also give the transports an evasion factor to reduce the risk of sub attack.

Regards

Mike

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Loops and realism will never fit together.

The new loops of AoD have killed my interest to play this expansion. Sad but true.

I agree that there is a need for fast naval movement. But i disagree that the loops are the right way to achieve this goal.

If we want to play on a large map, we need a solid solution to play on the map. Are there any loops for the warfare on land? No! There we use OP movement.

Wouldn't it have been much better to use OP movement for naval movement as well?

Yes, of course, you're right, OP movement is unrealistic too. But at least you have to pay for it. And you can't OP through enemy held tiles or nations.

I'm pretty sure that a little bit more brainpower into this direction might have ended in a WAY BETTER solution than loops, where a unit jumps into the earth orbit, only to be placed back on mother earth some turns later. In the meantime the unit is gone, safe for enemy attacks, no matter if one alliance rules the oceans or not.

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First of all, I'm a proponent of simplicity, as the tedium of resolving various intercepts on a long ocean journey would greatly complicate play. Never the less, some additional player micromanagement may be in order for realism.

If a naval unit could choose a mode of "patrol" and a player defined route by using the "Ctrl" path(AP limited) finding mechanism be calculated, then any opposing naval unit crossing this defined path would run the possibility of losing strength points every time an intersection occurs is the simplist action I can think of.

Obviously the unit initiating movement would end its path at the phasing player's designated location(at a possible reduced strength) and the intercepting naval unit(s) location being revealed would be subject to attack by additional follow on naval/air units at the discretion of the phasing player.

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Uhmm...seems there's no real alternative for now. Even adding to naval AP won't do it and may create these silly gigantic sea battles where everyone can join in from about any corner of the map. Besides, the AI won't take it, too much again.

Nupremal had FRIENDLY POSITION CONDITIONS for using loops, maybe some could be add here and there to make sure the player controls at least some of the loop starting or receiving areas

Another option would be turning loops off for Multiplayer, some or all of them. It can be done with a gentleman's agreement through advanced menu before the game start or it can be done through the Editor by giving those scripts AI Flags only.

I might suggest our next tournament don't use loops but I will have to test it before.

Ideas anyones?

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Loops in AoD are ONLY for naval shipping – not merchant shipping. What is the difference? Well, in the game (and this is very much a GAME), merchant shipping is abstractly depicted as a convoy 'lane'. This convoy lane can be raided by submarines, ships or aircraft, although submarines are the primary warships employed in this role. Is this a kludge? Absolutely – you will NOT see 'lanes' painted on the water in any ocean of the world. Even more significantly, convoys in World War II were regularly routed along different paths to AVOID U-boats (who sometimes had intelligence that allowed them to intercept, sometimes just got lucky, and other times simply were placed on the expected great circle convoy route and told to scout for ships). Do convoy lanes work in SC? Well, more or less, yes they do – although they are most emphatically NOT historically correct.

Now, loops can ONLY be used by transports (which represent embarked land units) or warships. There are serious problems with loops – Mike has certainly noted that the speed of naval units in SC is very, very slow, something I have complained about for years – but causing intercepts to be avoided is not really a major problem. Xworms argument that 'loops have killed my interest to play this expansion' is therefore not really very valid, as it can only be because naval ships and transports are not being intercepted as readily now that loops are available. But historically naval warships and transports with military troops embarked were not often intercepted in mid-ocean. As a game mechanism to reduce work and preclude interception of these vessels in mid-ocean (a rare occurrence), loops more or less work.

I really don't know how to fix the speed issue. It is a definite problem, but there are a number of related problems that are simply not addressable in the current configuration of the game, so I am simply accepting it as an SC anomaly at the moment, as any fix I can think of rather disrupts the game. (Examples of the issues that the game currently doesn't address? Amphibious operations by the Allies included massive lifts across entire oceans – much of the force involved in Torch, as just one example, sailed right from the continental US. This is pretty difficult, verging on impossible, to emulate in the game. The Axis were not really EVER capable of this level of amphibious sophistication, but in the game the mechanism used by both sides is pretty much the same. And in terms of simplicity that works, but as a means of recognizing the incredible versatility of Allied operations in the Second World War, it is not nearly as good. But we are playing a GAME).

So, while there are significant problems still evident in this game, the addition of naval loops is, for the most part, a good addition to the game within the parameters established by the game. Is it close to historical reality? Well, not really. Is it closer than previous iterations of SC? Actually, I think it is.

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Plus, imho, it has the right 'feel' to the transport/sub interaction. While I joking refered to War in the Pacific above, it is the only game I have ever played that actually has WWII Naval operations done really well. Once you play that, you truely realize how difficult it is to model, in two very different areas of operations (Atlantic and Pacific. Three if you count the Med) naval operations. All of these have naval forces operate very differently due to size of the area involved, enemy operations, etc. So to have a game cover all these areas and model them accurately is really asking too much.

The only thing really in common between the naval operations in the Alantic and Pacific theathers is that they all have ships in them lol.

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I think some of the complaints made about loops in the posts above are not fully justified from a realism perspective. In fact I expect that I will try to create several more loops when I work on scenarios for the AOD map. You need to consider where and why naval engagements occurred in WW2 and then judge whether loops add or subtract from the likelihood of these occurring.

There were significant naval battles associated with attempts by both sides to move men and supplies in the Mediterranean - the loops do not impact that aspect. There were battles in the Pacific with respect to amphibious operations and supplying the two sides engaged in the resulting land conflict. Again loops are not really going to change that. There were battles to protect convoy routes from surface raiders - again loops not a major problem.

My issue with the loops as implemented in AOD is that the settings used for the delay to vessels passing through the loops is way too long. Thus naval ships and troop transports effectively might take half a year getting from Port A to Port B when it should be 1 month at most. My other issue is that in a couple of cases the loops end in areas that make it too safe for the Allied player. The IJN did not actually use surface vessels to interdict the Allied supply and troop movement route up the East coast of Africa to the Middle East and USSR but they could and probably should have done. Thus I would prefer that the "Red Sea" loop emerged somewhere in the Indian Ocean so that the units using it might be subject to intercept in the last leg of their journey to Mid East or USSR. Similarly for units travelling to Australia.

There could be an issue with players knowing where loops emerge and lying in wait there. My solution to this would be to have loops emerge near a port or an island with spotting ranges that enabled the "looping" player to see whether there were enemy forces in the vicinity before using the loop. Of course if the island or port were lost then the loop would disable. I am not sure if a delay of zero setting for a loop would work for instant moves but if it does I would use that setting. A player currently has to move a unit to the start of a loop and then move it on again after it has been looped. Effectively utilising a loop occupies two player turns or 2 months elapsed time before any other looping delay occurs.

I also like to create some ocean tiles which impact supply, similar to tiles adjacent to ports so that there might be a reason for naval forces to engage each other in that vicinity and to create the effect of a distant blockade which was a real feature of WW2. Judicious placement of these tiles which would cause serious disruption to critical supply sources relating to some current land battle should give players reasons why they would not always use loops to pass through large areas of ocean. Some board games use a concept of boxes to represent sea areas where players can choose to deploy whatever naval forces they are allocating to that sea area. Use of my suggested interdiction tiles could effectively define a reduced area in a large ocean where the battle for local sea supremacy might be fought out.

I would also like to pick up on a point made by MonsterClaude about naval battles with units jumping in from great distances. I think this is a very good point and would suggest for SC3, or AOD if at all possible, that there should be a mechanism so that any naval unit joining a battle or attacking a ship from a distance of more than 8 tiles should suffer the effect as if they had been surprised regardless of whether the enemy was effectively spotted. I choose 8 tiles because at around 400 nautical miles that is the sort of distance most Naval units could travel in one day so they might stand a chance of joining an engagement still in progress with some knowledge of precisely where the enemy forces were.

In truth the fact that any naval units in adjacent squares automatically engage each other is a much bigger anomaly than loops. Conflict is potentially taking place in any one of 9 squares which comprises around 20,000 square miles of sea and the encounter might be taking place in the hours of darkness. The likelihhod of an actual engagement in this situation is certainly not 100% so my surpise suggestion for units travelling from a distance is not unreasonable..

Regards

Mike

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Hi Ludi

Concerning your lament about the short range of amphibious operations, actually amphibious transports are the only naval unit in the game to which you can allocate a range greater than 25. This is because their range can be increased by research. Thus for each level of amphibious research you can set the transport's range to increase by up to 5 x AP. So you can have an initial setting of 25 x AP for amphibious transports and by giving the country a research level of 5 you can add 5 x 5 = 25 AP to its range so it totals 50 x AP. I have used this technique in my Axis Triumphant scenario for Gold and I have tested that it still works in AOD.

An excellent feature of the SC Editor is that you can adjust every country's unit characteristics and research independently so you can give the USA a realistically huge range for amphibious ops, Japan a lesser range but still reasonable for its island conquests and Germany a minimal range so that it can do Norway and Sealion but not much more.

In my view the Editor is a tremendous feature of the SC series and the main reason why I have purchased the AOD expansion.

In Axis Triumphant I make amphibious research very expensive (300 MPP per chit) so it is not cheap to get the longer range but then I make the actual cost of using an amphibious transport very low on the basis that the research paid for the creation of the specialised shipping and after that it should not make much difference in cost terms how often you are able to use it.

Regards

Mike

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Ludi, i agree that fast passengers ships were considered safe from sub attacks (even though this might have changed if the war would have taken one or two years longer).

My point is that i consider these naval jumps unfair. They cost nothing and they are single sided. Even worse, they rob me of my surprise engagements.

Operational movement costs at least mpps. That would have been something i would have felt much better about, if naval troop movements would have been able via naval operational movement (from port ot port). Or warship operational movement, from naval tile to naval tile. One could surely think of some additional operational movement limititations, some kind of basic rules under which circumstances the OP move is allowed, or how far it might take.

The good thing is that OP movement cost MONEY. So if you want to move fast and far, you have to pay for it. For the excessive use of fuel and engines, for the preparations to provide it and to keep the move as secret as possible.

The next good thing would be that players would suddenly start to invest into the more or less dead tech of infrastructure, as this tech lowers the OP movement costs.

I know that it is much easier to simply place the arrows on the map. But this doesn't mean that it is a solution which offers the better realism (sic) or play fun.

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Naval Loops do not have to be free. You can script in the editor a variety of different mechanisms to simulate the safe transport of these units.

One way is to make a group of naval loops be inactive until a decision event pops up to make them active. This way an Allied player would have to make an investment in securing safe passage of their transports/fleets for the rest of the game using that particular loop. So there could be multiple decision events that correlate to different loops, so an Allied player may have to decide which areas of the sea it intends to scout out sort of to ensure safe passage.

Another way is to do this on a unit to unit basis, and have decision scripts that fire each and every time a unit is on the naval loop and can be used to simulate OP cost. I am not 100% sure that an event can be fired by a unit being present on a square without their being a resource present but if it can then this would be just the same as OP a unit.

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Xworm

It wasn't just fast passenger ships that were relatively safe – find ANY troop convoys that were attacked in deep water and you will be lucky. Troop convoys in disputed waters, such as the Bismarck Sea, did result in devastating losses to the troops, but this was NOT anywhere near where loops usually go. As for fast vessels being more in danger if the war lasted longer, the only possible answer to that is 'perhaps'. Type XXI U-boats, which were finally becoming operational as the real war ended, MIGHT have been able to sink a fast ship, but the limiting lines of submerged approach on a fast passenger ship were still pretty small even for a Type XXI. Basically a U-boat needed quite a bit of luck to sink a fast passenger ship because of the geometry forced on U-boats by the speed of the passenger vessel – it is actually quite hard to sink them. I have done the calculations and its really not easy at all – especially if the large ship uses any kind of long leg zigzag (which they should and usually did).

The main problem with proposing operational movement for troops is the seamlessness of the oceans. Do you charge by the increment? (ie for every ten squares travelled charge so much MPP?) What do you do? The current system requires troops to embark in amphibious ships or transports, both of which already cost MPP. Therefore there already is a cost to use naval movement for troops. The main concern raised (aside from yours) is the slow pace of this movement, both for transports and naval warships, not the cost. Operational movement offers the possibility of faster (potentially MUCH faster) movement, but it is difficult to see how the cost factor would be addressed. Charge more MPP for a longer move or one flat fee for ANY movement at sea? I really think the operational movement approach would be more complex, and would offer less intercept possibilities – even less than the loops do.

And, finally, how many naval engagements actually occurred where the loops are? Most naval engagements happen near 'something', whether it is a strategic destination or a place where shipping is likely to congregate. The convoy lanes already offer a reasonable (gamey, but reasonable) way to attack (and defend) merchant shipping. Aside from these battles (and even GRAF SPEE, a ship operating primarily as a raider, was cornered at a strategic location, the Plate River) how many battles occurred in the open ocean? Very, very few. In game terms having the occasional intercept in the deep ocean may be 'interesting', but that is really a game thing – not historical reality at all.

After saying all this I do think that the loop 'speed' is much too slow, but it is scaled to the game (I am trying to be fair here). If reality were any guide ships would pass through the loops much faster than they do. But if wishes were fishes, etc....

Mike

I take your point that amphibious shipping as configured in the game CAN be researched to the point where long distance lifts are possible. However, this is difficult, unless you use the editor. I avoid the editor (for many reasons, but I will just leave it at that). Without editing or a LOT of research, the game rather penalizes the western player. Which is simple enough, but wrong. The western Allies were primarily naval powers, which in this game are made somewhat similar to the Axis for simplicity. Fair enough. Its just not very accurate historically!

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I'm not sure the naval situation can ever feel right in the SC2 engine, because the 'heart' of the game was built around the original European scenario, which was entirely land focused, and the naval 'simulation' was very basic. It works, and I don't want to say naval units are a 'hack', but they're pretty much ground units that move on water in the game.

I hope SC3 redesigns the naval system from the ground up with an eye to making it more distinct then just flinging around destroyer and battleship 'units' like they were tanks racing around the Ukraine.

What that design would involve, I don't know. Sea zones? Assembling multiple ships into actual 'fleets'?

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