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Loopy Ideas


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I should perhaps explain to those for whom English is not their first language that “loopy” can mean something concerned with loops or something slightly mad – I leave you to decide which this is!

I have been experimenting with loops to see how best they might be used for a Player v Player scenario although there might be aspects an AI could handle. This is what I have found although Hubert or Bill et al please tell me if I am wrong.

A loop can have more than one destination some distance apart. The second or subsequent destinations are for use if the first and its surrounding tiles are completely filled with either friendly or enemy units. Thus loops do not need to fail as you can specify alternate locations short of the original destination.

It is possible to set the loop delay to be various numbers from zero upwards. If the delay is an even number “0”, “2” etc then the unit will appear at the beginning of the opposing players turn, if it is an odd number “1”, “3” etc then the unit will reappear at the beginning of a turn for the player using the loop.

A unit can emerge from a loop adjacent to an enemy unit. Thus if the loop has used zero or an even number for the delay the emerging unit can be attacked by the adjacent or nearby enemy units whereas if the loop has used an odd number the emerging unit can choose whether to attack or move away.

The destination for a loop can be a port tile.

Loops are country specific except where the country is set to equal zero in which case any country may use it.

Loops can be disabled either by specifying that a specific location must be under friendly control or by being subject to a decision event.

Loops also have a Trigger % which ought to give a chance of failure but from my tests it appears that this does not work – Hubert?

I have three ideas for utilising these various features to improve naval warfare aspects. I will give them reference numbers to assist other posters in commenting on them because I would welcome a discussion before I do more work to put them into a scenario.

1. I would like to give the German player more opportunity to use raiders as they did irl (in real life). Up until the Bismark’s ill-fated mission the Germans enjoyed 100% success in getting raiders past the British patrols and into the wider Oceans. They had somewhat mixed fortunes in getting their ships home again. The Graf Spee was caught but Deutschland (Lutzow) which was at large at the same time as Graf Spee managed to return safely as did Scheer and Hipper in subsequent voyages. The Scharnhorst and Gneisnau (the Twins) made it as far as France but then had to undertake the Channel Dash to get home and only did so after suffering some damage from air dropped mines. To make these events possible in a scenario, I would establish single tile loops from the Baltic to the North Atlantic, the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. These loops would be of the variety that enabled the emerging ship to either attack enemy units or move away. I would also provide something like half a dozen return loops to facilitate raiders returning safely to Germany. If the Trigger mechanism is repaired then I would set the chance of a return at about 50% with zero delay for failure so the Raider would remain at large at the location of the Loop entrance if the trigger failed and could be attacked by the Allies. I think this should give the Allied player a reasonable opportunity to try to catch Raiders attempting to use these loops but with 6 entrances to guard it would not be easy – I would also place loops between the Oceans so both the Raiders and the Allies could move between them. Following the fall of France a new 100% loop would allow the Raider to get to Brest as the Twins did irl but obviously they would be vulnerable there. I would use DE events triggered by date to shut down the loops from the Baltic around Feb/March 1941 so that Bismark would have to fight her way out but I would set up two or three German loops just past the area of the British Northern patrol which Bismark could use to get well into the North or South Atlantic if she broke through. The return loops to the Baltic but not the ones leading to Brest would also be disabled at about the same time.

2. The following is one example of how I might use loops where one side or the other would be using them to transport land units to a warzone where they own a port – the example is for the Allies getting troops to the Mid-East. I would aim to allow the Allies to loop move from various locations to a position off the East African coast not far from Madagascar – this loop would have a zero delay which would give the Axis player the opportunity to attack the emerging units. Within AP range of here there would be entrances to further Allied loops to port locations in Egypt. This would enable a transport to be immediately ready to unload on the subsequent turn if it survived the move from near Madagascar to the loop entrance but the Axis player would have already had some opportunity to try to intercept it. Clearly if the Axis captured Madagascar, as the Allies feared they might, then that opportunity could be enhanced by stationing Recce aircraft there. If I set the loop delay at zero the net effect of the two stage loop is that the Allies might be able to get their transported unit from a land tile in the UK to being unloaded in Egypt in 3 turns. First move to load and get to the 1st loop entrance, second move to get to the 2nd loop entrance and on the 3rd turn the unit is ready to unload and go into action. In the standard game this would represent an elapsed time of 2 months before availability for combat in Egypt (2 x 2-weekly alternate turns = 8 weeks). This is not unreasonable as the actual voyage would have taken less than 1 month irl but the troops ought to be given some time for training and adjustment to the new environment. I have previously posted that delays in the standard AOD WW2 scenario are too long and in my view this would be about right.

I would use this technique for the Allies moving troops to India (break near Ceylon) and Australia (break near Fiji) and eventually some of the islands near Japan as they are captured. Similarly for the Japanese some locations such as Rabaul might become staging areas for attacks on the Allies but getting troops to an active warzone such as Guadalcanal would need transports to run a risk of interception. Thus a transport “looped” into Rabaul could carry on to Guadalcanal as a transport or unload in Rabaul to become an amphibious unit.

3. Attacking enemy held locations will also need assistance via loops as the distances are now so large compared to AP values. My intention here would be to create loops that would bring an attacking force within AP range of a potential target such as Midway but have those loops of the type that meant the attackers would be vulnerable when they emerged. The side that owns the location that might be under attack would benefit from loops that would enable their units to attack immediately they emerged and these would be adjacent to the target with some possibly going into a port if one is available. These defender loops would be utilising the ability to nominate a friendly location condition for a loop to work. The “defender” would lose their ability to use their “non-vulnerable” loops if the target location changes hands but they would also have another set of loops, like those of the attacker, which would have their units emerge vulnerable but further away from the target. Thus the positions become reversed once the location changes hands. The defensive player would of course have the opportunity to use either or both of the loops available to place forces in the theatre so there is good potential for ambush as happened at Midway with stronger forces waiting out of spotting range.

Some of you reading this (well done for getting so far!) might think that there will be too many loops and too much abstraction. However, my view at the moment is that this would actually give a better representation of WW2 naval warfare than currently exists in SC variants. In SC Gold I experimented with giving naval units longer ranges to match the distances they could have travelled in the elapsed time of a turn. However, I did not like the way that naval units could then jump into an ongoing battle from effectively much too great a distance. One of the advantages of AOD is that naval units effectively cannot travel as far as they used to when coming to join a battle. In my proposal a lot of the naval movement will be undertaken by loops so there will be some sort of a delay before players can bring more units to participate. Opposing units will effectively get an extra chance to move away before naval reinforcements can attack them if they are arriving via loops rather than speeding in using AP movement.

Another possible objection is that the map will be filled with entrances and exits to loops. I should say that I favour marking the exits as experienced players will already know where they are and newbies need all the help they can get! It is true that the map might get somewhat cluttered and some areas of sea might become so full of loops that for example the British units could not effectively guard the sea and loops near the UK from U Boats as their own ships would loop away if placed on loop entrances. However, that should not be a problem because, for example, the Allied player could utilise Canadian ASW units to guard these tiles and they would not use these British loops. This ASW role in fact mirrors the part Canadian ships actually played.

Sorry this post is so long but I do hope it stimulates interest and debate. I am beginning to think that an imaginative use of loops might be a way to significantly improve the naval aspects of the SC series albeit mainly for PvP games. I will have a think about what advantages the AI might be given for its likely sub-optimal use of loops – most likely it could be compensated by having more units “appear” via events for it to use in far off locations such as the Mid-East and India.

Regards

Mike

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Some good ideas Mike, but I prefer the evasion factor as developed by Al. I'm afraid that loops may have a tendency to compartmental size the naval game and granted not many intercepts occurred in mid ocean but the potential was there.

Probably your ideas would need to be tested as they do have merit and may work as expected.

A good point about naval reinforcements reacting to a battle from far away would make me think that there needs to be a factor that tracks the travel distance of the reinforcements and allows the target vessels to have an increasing chance(distant dependent) to evade the engagement. Something probably for SC3.

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Hi SeaMonkey

I understand why you have picked up on evasion because I mentioned that the German raiders were 100% successful at evading the British patrols until the Bismark as part of my suggestion. However, that was not the main reason for my suggestion. The main issue is the number of tiles between the German ports in the Baltic and the sea areas they raided in the Indian Ocean and the South Atlantic. For example if the Battle of the River Platte occurred in the game and the Graf Spee got away from the Allied cruisers she would be something like 150 tiles away from any friendly port. It would take the Graf Spee unit 8 turns or 8 elapsed months to traverse that distance even assuming she was not intercepted. The actual distance in nautical miles is about 9,000. The Graf Spee was an extremely long ranged ship and could easily do that trip if she had her tanks a bit more than half full. Her cruising speed would be around 15- 17knots to achieve maximum range and at that speed she could do the 9,000 miles in less than the one month of elapsed time that a standard "alternate" game turn represents.

The use of very expensive warships as surface raiders was a questionnable strategy by the Germans but without loops to get out and home it has to be seen as one that is doomed to fail if tried in SC.

I mentioned the 100% successful evasion point because I thought people might object that it would be unrealistic to have a loop from the Baltic to the S Atlantic when in fact it is not unreasonable. Part of the trouble with interception in current implementations in SC is that the unit that has an encounter is stopped at that point and even if it has some level of evasion other enemy units can rush in and overwhelm it. The use of loops is a reasonable way to get round that for the period 1939 to early 1941 before better radar made interception of German raiders breaking into the Atlantic more or less certain.

The other points in my post were an attempt to enable naval forces to move around the globe as they did irl which necessarily involves loops but still provide some opportunities for interception albeit in a somewhat stylised manner. The current AOD loop to the Mid-East terminates in a restricted area of the Red Sea which it would be rather too easy for Allied players to block off from any possibility of naval interception simply by using 2 or 3 naval units to block Axis access to the Red Sea. I might mention that moving to the Red Sea from the UK using normal AP around S Africa would take nearly 1 year of elapsed time or nearly 1/5 of the total playing time for a game going from 1942 to 1947. Moving a naval unit from the UK to Singapore would also take about a year making it impossible for Prince of Wales to fight the Bismark North of the UK in May 1941 and be available to be sunk off Malaya in Dec 1941. Thus loops are essential it is just a question of making their impact less artificial in terms of possibilities for interception where those potentially existed.

The location for Naval battles was quite limited in WW2. In terms of the surface units represented in SC there were 3 engagements in the N and S Atlantic combined, one in the wide open spaces of the Indian Ocean, and 2 in the open spaces of the Pacific but many in the "island waters" of the Indian & Pacific Oceans, the Mediterranean and off the coast of Norway. The game mechanism has to provide a reasonable way for units to travel between these theatres of naval warfare all of which could actually be reached one from another in the equivalent of one game turn irl.

Similarly with respect to land forces, Australian and NZ troops made a major contribution to the fighting in the Middle East but it would take over a year to get them there with troop transports' movement regulated by APs. Decision Events can be created to make units appear where they served irl but that destroys a player's opportunity to follow alternate strategies so again a number of loops to alternate destinations are the better compromise.

Regards

Mike

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Hi mcaryf1,

i allways read with interest your Posts, as they are well thought before writing and helpful.

I personally think Loops in a future would be obsolete, if the global map Scrolling would be in place.

first the AI is not so Loopo-phile and mostly it is a dificult thing to explain the AI proper Looping.

second i think that the travelling distance capabilities of Naval Units may be upgraded. I.e. if a Naval Unit travels "normal Speed" with 8 Tiles there would be "no" or not much "cost" (MPP, Oil or whatever Energy) while each more tile with higher Speed would exponentially increase the Bunker Added Fuel Surcharge. (i.e. 9 tiles + 2, 10 tiles +4, 11 tiles, +8, 12tiles +16, 13 tiles + 32 etc). In this way it would be a simple manner of spending, while Units could reach in a 10 Days Turn almost any Position of 6000Miles.

Actually a part of this i think that Loops for Axis would be like a Little bit justice, as normally Axis Player is not really able to move out into the Atlantic, and AI Axis Player mostly better not even attempt...

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Hi Mike,

I've read through your assessments on how the LOOP function works and I'd say all your assessments are correct.

However I checked the code on the TRIGGER and it seems to be set the same way as it is for other events so I'm not sure why it was not working in your case.

For example, did you set it at let's say something like 25% and it was still firing every time?

Hubert

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Hi Hubert

I thought I had set it to 1% but when I went back to double check the trigger mechanism did stop the loop. I think I must have had two versions of the event file in notepad open at the same time and saved the one without the trigger change! My apologies for the false alarm. I can now also confirm that the fail delay of zero just leaves the unit sitting where it was on the loop entrance.

Hi PowerGMBH

Actually I am inclined to think that we will need loops in the future unless quite a lot else changes. The 100% intercept for units in adjacent squares is actually quite unlikely if you consider that a unit is surrounded by 8 other squares as well as its own square. This is equivalent to 45,000 square miles of sea and yet all these ships are supposedly finding each other. Also as you increase the ranges for APs you have big problems with the "I go You go" model as ships can come in and attack from huge distances which would notionally take sufficient time for the spotted enemy unit to have moved away.

When I first heard from Hubert et al that the maximum range for naval units would not be increased despite a 4-fold change in the map scale I was a bit disappointed. However, now that I have thought about it a bit more and looked at how loops might be used I actually think that using a lot of loops but with gaps between some of the loop entrances and exits could provide a sensible way to model naval warfare with the ability to move historic distances with some possibilities for interception but without other enemy units rushing in for the kill unless they were already relatively close. I will try building a bit of a test bed for this using the AOD map and 1939 scenario but unfortunately I am quite busy with other activities at the moment so it will probably take me 2 or 3 weeks to do it.

My aim will be to create something like "operational movement" for ships. However, I do not see any reason why I would want to charge MPPs to use it as in most situations the game does not try to model operational costs such as expenditure of shells or bombs or fuel on bombing missions. If you did create extra cost you would only need to find some way of giving each side extra MPPs to pay for it and that could unbalance the game if the player spent it on some other item. The virtue of SC is simplicity and abstraction and I would want it to keep to that.

Regards

Mike

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I have been considering how to set the AP value for various types of warship in my pilot scenario for testing loops. Differential APs will be important as it is possible that units will emerge adjacent to enemy units and will then have the option to fight or flee/evade. If one unit type has 2 more APs than another then this should ensure that it could flee in most directions without risk of being caught. My current thinking is this:

25 x AP CV, CA

23 x AP Modern BB, fleet DD, CVL

22 x AP Allied Transport (e.g. Liners)

20 x AP Old BB, IJN Transport

19 x AP ASW DD/DE, ASW CVL/CVE, SS

18 x AP German/Italian/Soviet/Other transport

14 x AP Amphibious transport

However I would allow amphibious transports to improve their AP range by 5 for each level of research. Eventually I might fine tune some of the AP values to reflect national characteristics e.g. Italian ships were built for speed rather more than RN ships.

Comments anybody?

Mike

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Hi SeaMonkey

The way it works is that you specify one destination tile and the loop will send you to that for preference and then any of the other 8 tiles around it if that tile is occupied. If all of those tiles fail then, if you have specified a second destination tile it starts to look at that in the same way and so on to however many tiles you specified. You can specify multiple start positions as well as multiple finish positions. I have not yet checked how far apart the start positions can be but I suspect there will be no limit.

You can of course have more than one loop able to emerge in the same vicinity thus rather than having multiple starts and multiple finish positions in one loop you could have multiple loops with single starts and finishes so you could have more control over the relative position of each emergnce but you may or may not know whether an enemy unit is on or near a finish position depending on your recce situation there. Of course all the emergences happen after the end of your turn so you cannot send one through and wait to see what happens.

Has this answered your question?

Mike

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It surely has given me greater insight into how the loops work. Originally loop emergence could be predicted, especially for the enemy to hang out and ambush units coming through.

To add to the unpredictable nature of naval sightings, I would like to see a set of loops have a variable, unpredictable number of tiles in a general vicinity for the unit(s) appearance. I would like to see, on the World jump map, those starting positions in green and the emergence area circled in red. When a player moved his mouse pointer over the green starting position(s) the red circled area will highlight, all on the "jump" map.

I understand that the present SC2 engine might not be able to accommodate such a feature, but never the less, the variable emergence area might be within grasp by defining a number of tiles for the units to appear. I don't think it would be unrealistic for the looping player not to know exactly where his units will be appearing, just that they will enter on to the map in a general area.

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Hi SeaMonkey

I have done a couple more tests to see if it might be possible to have more than one loop with the same start tile. This is actually the way convoys work thus if one convoy route cannot be completed, due to loss of the destination, ice or whatever, then the convoy routines take the next specified route for that country and tries that. I had hoped that loops might use the same logic but it appears they do not. I tried 3 loops - one with a very low trigger and one with a failing condition regarding a friendly tile and finally one that would be able to work. Sadly the unit just stayed on the start tile so I assume that if a loop attempt fails there is no second chance other than within that loop itself in the case when all destinations are occupied. Convoys are special in that you can only have one outbound per country so I guess there is different code for convoys and loops.

However you can still create uncertainty for the opposing player by specifying several loop entrances that end in different locations that are near each other. Thus as far as the opposition is concerned they could not be sure to be in precisely the right place for an interception even when they were in the right general sea area.

Regards

Mike

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My mod to create a set of loop points in all the major oceans just for the base AOD scenario so maritime units can move move round the world is progressing very well. However, I have run into a couple of issues and would appreciate some help.

First I wanted to create a loop to help the Germans to get to US East Coast once the Americans join the war. I made this loop conditional via a DE that the US must be at war before the loop starts to work. I only added 1 x DE at the end of all the other DEs but the editor is reporting a fault in the DE file saying that it could not find Friendly_Position= at line 240. Two problems with this report - first I never changed anything near line 240 and second you do not seem to use Friendly_Position any more you use an Alignment indicator instead. Can anyone help me please?

Second SC is set up very well to allow events with trigger dates as to when activities might start but it is less easy to prevent things (e.g. loops) from being available after a particular date. Thus I want the Germans to have Raider loops available into various oceans from the Baltic up to the end of 1941. The method I have found that might do it is to use a square of teritory in the very bottom RHS of the map where various mines etc are located. There is a blank tile of German territory there and I can use a date specific territory transfer event to make that empty square become British territory with effect from 31/12/1941. I am hoping that I can make the Raider loop depend on this tile being Friendly. This should switch of the loop from that date but I am worried as to whether there might be any side effects with my doing this. Can someone advise whether I can use existing blank tiles here and even make a few extra blank German tiles if I want to fine tune the date availability of some other loops?

Regards

Mike

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Hi Mike,

Under proper event checking circumstances by the Editor, the error message at line 240 simply refers to an event error that starts with the event beginning at line 240.

In this case it refers to an issue with the FRIENDLY_POSITION or the lack of one.

As far as I can tell LOOPS only use FRIENDLY_POSITIONs, not ALIGNMENT_POSITIONs and perhaps this is the problem if you are using older scripts with the latest AoD engine?

For your idea on using an off map area tile to help control LOOPs I think this should work fine.

Hope this helps!

Hubert

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Hi Hubert

The fault is being reported in the Decision Event not the Loop event and in part of the code that I did not change. Since that format command should not be appearing there in a DE I do not understand how I can fix the fact that the editor is saying it is not there.

In fact if I load up the unmodded version of the original AOD scenario and try to run the Update command on the DE file it still reports that unaltered file as being faulty because of the missing command. Is it possible that I have somehow corrupted the editor? That seems very unlikely.

Now here's another clue I tried inserting a FRIENDLY_POSITION= at the 240 line mark and the Update ran past line 240 and then reported the same fault at line 282. However, I am not keen on going through all the DE commands and inserting a new dummy line in each!

Regards

Mike

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Hi Mike

Your loop ideas are actually quite interesting. The one thing I have to add to this discussion is intelligence. The key reason that Axis raiders succeeded so frequently early in the war is that German naval codes were pretty much impenetrable to the Allies early in the war. The Bismarck sortie was not stopped by decryption, but Allied chances of interception were definitely improved by the breakthrough in decryption that occurred just before that vessel entered the Atlantic. Intelligence actually proved quite important in the Battle of the Atlantic as well, although it was only part of the overall Allied response. The actual details are quite complex, but should not be forgotten when you are thinking about adding more 'historical reality' to the game, which in essence is your objective here I believe.

When it comes to your loops it might be interesting to tie them to the intelligence advantage (or disadvantage) as it exists in a game as opposed to simply putting a termination (or activation) date in for them. Termination and activation dates have the advantage of simplicity, but intelligence advantage has the advantage of reality – as well as making intelligence research even more useful than it currently is.

One of the great challenges would then be balancing a game with all these various possibilities integrated into it, but then that is also the whole point of most games of this nature!

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The first para is a reply to Ludi the second relates to loops past Gibraltar.

Hi Ludi

As far as I know there is no way to link a loop to intelligence. You can make them depend on a trigger, that is a random chance of failure, a friendly position, as an example you might set it up to be able to loop next to an island such as Midway only if you owned that island, and you can make a loop depend on a response to a Decision Event. DEs themselves can depend on various factors such as dates, states of war, numbers of units in an area and national morale and of course you can require payment of MPPs to accept a DE. So sorry I cannot do intelligence.

Dear All

It seems to me that there are two cases in blocking access into an area of sea. An example of the first type is a transit that require use of a canal such as Suez or Panama or Kiel. Clearly it should not be possible in any circumstance for a hostile unit to pass through a canal owned by an opponent. Unfortunately submarines do occasionally dive through canals and we just have to accept this as a current weakness in the game engine.

Gibraltar is an example of the second case where a narrow strait was dominated by guns but in practice enemy units such as submarines could and did pass through although there would be some hazard involved. Units from countries not at war with each other should also be able to pass - typically this relates to Italy.

I have been experimenting with a single loop entrance on each side of the Straits of Gibraltar which emerge (if there is room) next to Gibraltar on the opponent's next turn so the owner of a coastal gun on Gibraltar could fire if appropriate at the unit if it is hostile. If the port of Gibraltar is also occupied then that unit would also be in a position to attack the looping unit.

Clearly there should be little chance of a surface unit getting through without heavy damage and only one can try at a time but a sub could get lucky and dive its way to safety which would be about right.

I think this would make the situation of Gibraltar and possibly some other Straits more akin to reality. Certainly Italian submarines did participate in the Battle of the Atlantic and German submarines did enter the Med and enjoyed some successes versus the RN.

I have added this extra loop to the AOD plus loops scenario I am testing. I am not an expert on all the Straits in the world so would appreciate suggestions as to other loops to pass Straits that it could be appropriate to add.

Regards

Mike

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