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ArgusEye

Who's up for an experiment?

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This post is not strictly about CM:C, but it is about trying to do what its purpose was, by other means. If this is the wrong place to post, I apologise.

When playing Medieval wargames, I have had some success with a multi-level game. 'Kings' build forces and move them around, and the resulting battles are then fought by their 'captains'. There's no reason why a King cannot be one (or all) of his captains, but this resolution system seems to have been the aim of CM:C. But with a referee, who will set up the different battles for the players and translate the results into a new operational situation, we could get there.

It sounds like fun to me, who else is interested?

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The concept is pretty simple. It's basically the Kriegsspiel version that along the lines of the von Moltke school - but simplified, because we're no full-time officers.

What I was thinking: the ref makes an overview map, with all the appropriate landmarks, and gives an order of battle to the general in charge. Indications of enemy forces would be supplied in much the same form as his real life counterpart would have received. The forces he has start out on the map, in a position determined by the ref. Then the ref asks him where he wants to send his troops, put fieldworks, headquarters, how he wants to organise standing orders, comm nets, repair shops, scouting, AA, transport, muster areas, etc. When the orders come back, the ref tracks all changes until either the orders complete, or there is an encounter with the enemy. This encounter is then built as a CMAK or CMBB battle (depending on where this is all taking place), which then has to be fought. Both sides of this battle report their (and their opponents') losses, and send the ref a screenshot of the summary. That gets taken into account when setting up the rest of the operational level action. Lose a sniper? One less sniper. Burn a Tiger? One less Tiger. Lose a vet tank crew? The replacement crew will be green or worse.

The guy doing the operational level has to have fun doing logistics. The tactical guys might get different orders than 'score more points than the other guy'. Sometimes the goal of a battle will just be to escape with as many men as possible.

Interesting?

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No, not at all. Onion wars works on a much higher level. It has purchasing, which I intend to avoid. It is highly abstracted on the operational level, which I also intend to avoid. The idea of what I propose is the operational action on the regimental level. At most.

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WeBoB has toyed with various htings like this over the years. It is important that if it is long-term there is a deputy organiser, and people have a "name" that they will wsh to keep clean and not drop out. Unfortunately RL can screw most things.

I think there is a team event due to start where the players have a core unit and they get given assets for the missions in the series.

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Yes, reliable players are a must. And given the response thus far, I doubt we could get anything substantial going. These things always end up taking months at the least, and people dropping out eats away at the fun.

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Clubs are important if you want a pool of reliable players. I have avoided the serious ladder clubs as I play for fun. Winning is nice but it is better to lose an exciting game than win a boring game.

One thing that I had never really formalised was how many games I played and at times with CMBB I was playing eleven at once so it was nice to have a club were statistics were kept. So officially I have now played around 140 CMAK PBEM games since joining WeBoB!

On eday I am going to go through my stock of older computers and count up my old games not recorded : )

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At Onion Wars, we've been campaigning for 7 1/2 years now. The first turns took about 6 weeks each, now it's more like 6 months. There was some rule creep, but that didn't make much of a difference. We had perhaps over a hundred players involved over the years, but the ones still playing are mostly veterans of the early years. If tactical players drop out, they're easier to replace. Finding new GMs is what can make or break the campaign.

And yes, the most important bottleneck is GM time. As you said, it needs to be simple, or it'll never get off the ground, or worse, you'll invest a lot of time and then it dies after the first turn.

Then the ref asks him where he wants to send his troops, put fieldworks, headquarters, how he wants to organise standing orders, comm nets, repair shops, scouting, AA, transport, muster areas, etc.

Repair shops and comm nets? That's the opposite of KISS. I'd advise against any sort of logistics, except a rule saying for cut-off troops. That's because a) they don't matter much in terms of fun and B) one of the most crucial factors eating up GM time is communication.

At first you might think it's fun to engage in endless debates with players about how a repair shop should be able to repair 8 trucks a turn instead of 4 tanks (unfortunately you forgot to include a detailed repair shop rule). But that discussion alone can take up a substantial amount of time. Hours become days. Keep it as simple as possible, then drop half of what you have and take it from there.

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That's the thing, rule discussions must be avoided like the plague. Just like the PC game doesn't discuss rules, and is purposely obscure about the underlying mechanisms, so too does the Kriegsspiel version I proposed.

When I say 'set up a comm net', I mean the player to indicate which units share frequencies, and where he wants the X kilometers of phone line he has to be laid. This is important to see which forces could or could not react in time to enemy developments, and whether or not communications can be cut by shrewd operating. The ref must keep track, not together with the player but for him.

Discussions of the sort you mention are never fruitful and should be avoided. You get what the ref says you get. If the repair shop turns out four trucks today, but your Tiger is still under repair, then you don't have the Tiger today. The shop does its best.

Thus compartmentalised, discussion and rules-lawyering is mostly eliminated. The only thing one needs is a trusted ref. Nobody likes to be jerked around, after all.

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I'm willing, all we need is players (preferably four, but two should be enough) who can agree on game (BB or AK), period (as in year), location (Libya/Baltics/Italy/Central Eastern Front) and houserules (some people don't like planes, or want mandatory exchange of passwords after games, or whatever).

Once we have that, we can get started. We'll see.

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Having put together a few MBX-style wargames, I would strongly suggest more players rather than the minimum, just because it would help if one person suddenly became involved in rl affairs, it killed the MBX...where with a "staff" on each side, could alternately do the battles,covering a large part of the action in several concurrent battles(you may be winning, but wont help much if that Rumanian unit on your flank crumbles) :-) ha..and then there is also enough to cover the gap if and when some players are unavailable for some battles....just my 2cents

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When I say 'set up a comm net', I mean the player to indicate which units share frequencies, and where he wants the X kilometers of phone line he has to be laid. This is important to see which forces could or could not react in time to enemy developments, and whether or not communications can be cut by shrewd operating. The ref must keep track, not together with the player but for him.

Just one more point: almost all players who joined the Onion Wars campaign over the years were interested in playing tactical battles, very few were willing to put in some extra time, learn the system and do the planning, bookkeeping etc. If one of those players drops out, your campaign can be finished. Keep that in mind when writing the rules.

If in doubt, why not start small and simple? Describe what kind of campaign you have in mind, then see how many players you can find. And only then discuss adding more complex rules. Begin with a simple system, a small map, few forces and a campaign that lasts only five turns. If your players stay with you, try something bigger.

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Just one more point: almost all players who joined the Onion Wars campaign over the years were interested in playing tactical battles, very few were willing to put in some extra time, learn the system and do the planning, bookkeeping etc. If one of those players drops out, your campaign can be finished. Keep that in mind when writing the rules.
The player is not supposed to know [or at least recognise] *any* rules. The idea is to simulate, so to speak. This method has been in use for military wargames throughout the 20th century. I'm inclined towards a style in use in France and Germany in the '20s.
If in doubt, why not start small and simple? Describe what kind of campaign you have in mind, then see how many players you can find. And only then discuss adding more complex rules. Begin with a simple system, a small map, few forces and a campaign that lasts only five turns. If your players stay with you, try something bigger.
I'm tempted, but:

- If I limit the possibilities to an unpopular locale or timeframe, any prospective players might not show

- Much of the information would only be known to ONE of the players, so to throw an example on here would be giving away too much information.

So I'm going to limit myself to an outline sketch, and we'll see who shows up with piqued interest.

I'll supply a gridded terrain map of a (probably fictional) part of the Eastern front in (for instance) may 1942, with some villages and features like hills, forests, and whatnot. Let's say a sector of 25 km to a side.

The players then get a list of assets, probably two depleted batallions or so, with some tanks, AC's, artillery etc. but also wire, mines, phone line, signals units, field kitchens, maybe a field hospital - all the trimmings necessary to run a fighting force. These then have to be placed appropriately, in the area known to be under control.

Then the player will be interrogated how he wants his troops organised, what the standing orders are, mostly to see how fast reactions will be.

When the ammo dumps are dug, the phone line is in use, and the repair shop is ready, both players get orders from higher up. If they can make a good case, they can request divisional resources to achieve their goals.

Then they order their troops to move. I keep track, to see if the troops meet anything. Reports come to the player in much the same form as in RL. Any substantial encounter will be made into a scenario, and played out. Outcome and losses are recorded, and will be taken along to the further game.

I foresee infiltration groups running afoul of patrols, recon AC's meeting in in no-mans land, and highly concentrated spearheads hitting defensive positions. The added fun would be that instead of trying to 'score', one would have the bigger picture in mind. Sometimes the objective would be to get away, or to save the last radio car of the regiment. Even when you tactically win by ramming your spearhead through the enemy, you might find yourself wishing you hadn't because now your reserves have been depleted too far. That kind of things.

In principle, the tactical commanders are interchangeable. They only have to fight a single battle at a time. It is important, however, that the operational commander remain the same, unless some other player enjoys being dumped into a developed battle (which has its points of realism as well). The only important thing is to keep the sides separate.

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ArgusEye,

I have the greatest respect for what you are attempting.

1. However if look at this from my possibly jaundiced view you have been around for two years with 81 posts so whilst you are the lynchpin you are also the person with a short track record. Your staying power is relevant.

I did suggest previously that you may be better served by joining one of the clubs where a deputy might step into the breach if you were overtaken by RL.

2.

When I say 'set up a comm net', I mean the player to indicate which units share frequencies, and where he wants the X kilometers of phone line he has to be laid. This is important to see which forces could or could not react in time to enemy developments, and whether or not communications can be cut by shrewd operating. The ref must keep track, not together with the player but for him.

I think that you are appealing to a very limited market if you are going into this detail. And perhaps revealingly you seem to ignore the despatch-rider, and the use of existing telephone lines - as used by the French in 1940.

Perhaps a viable solution is to arrange for several players per side to hold, or attack a front and your role is to release the forces/reinforcement/artillery assets at the direction of the Commander as he assesses the verbal/written reports he is given.

In detail:

Say five maps. The attacking CO will always have copies of each map but will only ever be able to plot what is reported to him - never borg-spot actual active maps. He will allocate his forces in line with the overall plan.

Reserves will be positioned as desired. However to make things easy all maps will have the reinforcements on a strip at the back of the board so if the CO orders them into action the GM will advise how long they will take to reach the actual battlefield.

That is if the reserve is central it will be X+ or - turns to be released to a flanking map. FOO's can be active on all boards but will only be allowed to to use higher level artillery when authorised by the CO. The GM of course will be checking this for both sides - especially as all messages will be copied in to him.

That is the rough outline. Given a 60 minute maximum possible the attacking CO will probably need to make commitments no later than 15 minutes in. This does mean the early assaults need to be pressed to assess the situation asap.

Nowhere as complex but it does I think provide a flavour of higher command problems and with a good GM feeding information and calculating other effects it could go quite well.

It could be made more realistic but I think if I were touting a higher level without too much complexity* this might be a starting point.

** Allocated airpoints for "bombing" bridges. If undefended by AA the attack gets through and an existing TRP on the bridge recieves a salvo of 152mm or 170mm artillery : )

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ArgusEye,

I have the greatest respect for what you are attempting.

1. However if look at this from my possibly jaundiced view you have been around for two years with 81 posts so whilst you are the lynchpin you are also the person with a short track record. Your staying power is relevant.

I can understand that - but it's not something I can remedy. If this thing takes off, I'll just have to prove myself.
I did suggest previously that you may be better served by joining one of the clubs where a deputy might step into the breach if you were overtaken by RL.
Yes, but no: Thus far I've not found the type of game I propose. So I still toy with my idea.
I think that you are appealing to a very limited market if you are going into this detail. And perhaps revealingly you seem to ignore the despatch-rider, and the use of existing telephone lines - as used by the French in 1940.
I know of very few games more suited to this setup than the CMx1 series. As for the despatch rider, pre-existing phonelines, telegraph, etc: those are not things that have to be laid before battle. Some are there already, others adaptable. As such, I see no need to include them at that stage. Please note that what I wrote is a rough outline. Not everything would be included. Also, as in the military style wargames, the player is not limited to the 'moves' the referee asks about. If you want to do something novel or complicated, this can be arranged.
Perhaps a viable solution [...] the bridge recieves a salvo of 152mm or 170mm artillery : )
Your idea would be fun, but seems excessively complex to me. I wouldn't be able to run it, in other words. I was thinking about simpler tactical situations. Let me illustrate with an example:

Player 1 wants to send a team to capture some enemy troops for interrogation. He chooses to use half a Recon B company without support, but with M5 halftracks. He assumes a swamp to probably be lightly defended, therefore this seems a good snatch spot.

Player 2 has indeed not fortified the swamp, but has some patrols there, consisting of a single radio car and one platoon of infantry, spread out over two kilometers. He has a radio net that includes some other AC's, as well as the rest of the infantry company. Their standing order is to come to assistance upon contact.

I then design an appropriate CMBB map, with the appropriate troops, and because of the situation of player 2, he will get reinforced with some AC's at turn 12, and with extra infantry at turn 20.

The objective of Player 1 is to get one of his units either to capture an enemy unit or to have one of his units to 'touch' an eliminated enemy unit. This last thing because the pixel troops are much too fanatical, and surrender a bit late. Then he has to extricate himself.

The objective of Player 2 is not explained to him at the beginning of the battle, all he knows is OMGWTF he's being attacked!

After this battle is concluded by the tactical types, the results are reported to the ref (me), and there is a reckoning on the operational level. Direct interference by the operational commander *during* a battle seems unfeasible and even unrealistic. When I read reports about fighting in Italy, I read responses from regimental or brigade level sometimes measured in days.

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AH yes swamps! Joining Onion Wars on a wave of excitement [ diminished slghtly by having to observe protocol and get my correct Russian identity] my first two battles were infantry in the same swamp taking attacks. Very boring and if one were to measure pleasure to time it was a definite fail.

I am rather afraid that what you are suggesting would also seem to me to be very light in terms of player satisfaction.

But then I prefer games with very large maps and tanks. I have consistently held that tanks are better modelled than infantry in BFand that bigger battles will stand more chance of diminishing luck as a decider. Also bigger battles means taking higher level command decisions such as allocation of scarce resources and judging time to contact and likely results etc.

The current BB9 round has, in my game resulted in 42 dead tanks in 33 turns, - but that is only a part of the armoured forces involved in a large desert battle with probably getting on for a battalion + of infantry.

AFAIR the top two CMAK downloaded scenarios are tank heavy and I think this tends to prove what people really like to play. [i very rarely look at CMBB so I have no idea what the favourite downloads are]

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I agree with dt on this. Also, unless you have already run tournaments/campaigns and know what to expect, I fear you make be taking on more than you can chew. Players are notoriously fickle and RL issues has stalled/killed many great tournies/campaigns at BoB.

Maybe cut your teeth on something smaller/easier first?

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I've run layered games like this before, albeit not with CM as tactical resolution. The only trick is to know your stuff and keep control, then it isn't too hard. I don't see a problem there.

Where I do see a problem, is that there just doesn't seem to be too much enthusiasm. I may have misjudged how this part of the wargames world operates. I'm more of the simming side of things, but this forum seems to be more gaming oriented. It's a matter of taste.

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It's ironic you say it's about "gaming" here Argus, as the majority of posters seem convinced that CM2 is a sim more than a game, so go figure. Good luck with your project!

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I've run layered games like this before, albeit not with CM as tactical resolution. The only trick is to know your stuff and keep control, then it isn't too hard. I don't see a problem there.

Where I do see a problem, is that there just doesn't seem to be too much enthusiasm. I may have misjudged how this part of the wargames world operates. I'm more of the simming side of things, but this forum seems to be more gaming oriented. It's a matter of taste.

the niche is already filled. for those parts that are not filled, people have become cynical because in the past the ambitious meta-campaigns all died out under the weight of running them.

this is the wrong place to post about this anyway. make a post on CMBB forum to see if you get people interested. at least two of the currently active posters over there (JasonC and Bigduke6) have run meta-campaigns themselves, so perhaps you can team up and get something running.

at that point people will join if you can convince them it's doable and fun. i know i would. the thing i dislike the most about CMx1 is the isolated nature of battles.

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