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Author Topic: Hast thou found me o mine enemy?  (Read 5283 times)

bob48

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on: September 01, 2023, 07:25:49 AM
Limited Intelligence, or 'Fog of War', call it what you will, has always been, for obvious reasons, a bit of a problem for board wargaming. To get round this 'Eye's-in-the-sky' effect, designers have come up with all sorts of idea's, with varying degrees of success, often resulting in much confusion/annoyance/frustration.

I remember a long time ago at a weekend event, being involved, somewhat reluctantly I may add, in a multi-player game of the old SPI 'Sniper'. This involved 2 teams on different tables and a moderator running between the two. It actually worked quite well and was really a fairly nail-biting experience, and it made me realise how different it is to play a game where, basically, you have no idea where the enemy is. If memory serves me correctly, my participation ended quite abruptly when I was run over by a tank!

We also tried, back in the day, and struggled, with SPI's 'City Fight' which had some good idea's, but we never really got the hang of it. I seem to recall a few other games where players used 2 copies of the map and various mechanisms to play with 'FoW' rules. NATO Division Commander, again by SPI,  seems to ring alarm bells in my memory.

So, as usual, lets hear your experiences with this sort of thing. Any games that you though did this in a particularly effective / terrible way?

Comments, if you please.

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trailrunner

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Reply #1 on: September 01, 2023, 09:42:24 AM
A big part of ASL is concealment.  It adds some fog of war, and prevents the over optimization of the battle plan, where every little move is planned to perfection because you know exactly where the enemy is.  The concealment rules aren't perfect, but they're playable.  The rules also generally allow guns (ordnance) to be hidden, and worrying where that hidden AT gun is will usually prevent a full-on blitz of tanks and even make attacking infantry a little cautious. 

I played a scenario last weekend where I was allowed to hide up to one squad, so I hid a half squad with a bazooka.  My opponent had two Stugs and a Panther, but he didn't do what I expected (darn him) so my hidden unit wasn't a factor.  Another time I had the Germans playing the Russians in a late-war scenario.  I think my opponent had some T-34/85 and maybe some IS-122s.  I perfectly hid a half squad with a PSk.  When the Russian tank came down the road right in front of my hidden unit, I popped up with a point-blank shot -- and missed.  Arggh.

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BanzaiCat

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Reply #2 on: September 01, 2023, 10:15:09 AM
Totally see it in a 2-or-more-player game.

Solo, it's not as much of an issue, as long as the system bakes in the FOW aspects. Such as, the old Ambush! games. Something like NATO Division Commander (I just recently acquired a copy of it, for some odd reason), or NATO: The Next War in Europe, or similar such games, means you have perfect intelligence across the board.

It could be especially harrowing if you are a 'chess thinker' - to me, that's someone that thinks several moves ahead. I never was good at chess and my brain unfortunately does not work like that in gaming. So that, perhaps, is something of an advantage, playing by the seat of your pants. In The Next War in Europe, for example, I've played it so many times solo. When playing the NATO side, I know there's reserve Warsaw Pact armies, and I can see them, yet I don't know what "I" am going to do once it's the WP's turn. I try to mitigate weakness in the NATO line, and when it's the WP turn, I look for said weaknesses. Maybe it's not that I'm not good at thinking several moves ahead, but I've been conditioned to do so due to years upon years of solo play? I don't know.

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Putraack

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Reply #3 on: September 05, 2023, 04:45:06 PM
The second-ever wargame my brother and I bought was "Flattop" (Battleline edition), which bakes in the hidden movement of ships. For those who don't know, this game covers the carrier battles of the South Pacific in 1942. Aircraft are on the map most of the time, so as one player moves their planes, the other should be checking their plot-sheets to see if the planes seen any ships. Hunting for carriers is the main effort of the game, but strikes against airbases or other groups of ships are also a factor.

I played in a double-blind game with an umpire at a local convention sometime in the 90s, and remembered that was a lot of fun. I bought another copy of the game (and should probably get another?) and have run double-blind games at Winterfest most of the last 8 years. I've seen games in which one or the other side has been spotted and hounded early, and some in which no one sees anything of importance. The most dramatic moment was when the Japanese carrier commander drove his ships south at full speed overnight, hoping to find the Americans early in the morning. For some reason, he didn't see the significance of seeing some American destroyers during the night, so when the sun rose, he discovered his carriers were within visual distance of an American battleship-cruiser force, but no Yankee carriers in sight!



bob48

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Reply #4 on: September 05, 2023, 04:52:04 PM
 :bigthumb:

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bayonetbrant

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Reply #5 on: September 05, 2023, 05:17:49 PM
Looking through some older magazines for a different project, I found this nugget of a column from Prados from 1986 that certainly fits the vibe of this discussion  :cowboy:

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bob48

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Reply #6 on: September 05, 2023, 05:20:27 PM
Very interesting.

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HellCat6

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Reply #7 on: September 06, 2023, 07:07:35 AM
That is an interesting article Brant. However I disagree with the direction Prados is arguing that since both sides had "ample" intel there would be no need for using FoW. There's information collection, and there's actionable intelligence. Modern war is full of data, but turning that into something you can use to make good decisions is the trick. I can say from my vantage point as a dude on the ground in Afghanistan I did not have a lot of actionable intelligence. Open and perfect intelligence (most wargames) is in my opinion is not even remotely the experience commanders have. I will always be an advocate for some form of FoW.

One of my biggest bones with wargaming is that the map in a wargame is always perfect. If a hex says there's woods there, when you play the game, 100% percent of the time, you get the effects of the woods in the game. Reality though.... Anyone who has done land navigation realizes very quickly that what they discover on the ground is different than the map they've been given. There are more or less trees, a building has been built, or torn down, a forest was cut or has grown up since when the map was made. At Northern Strike our training areas annually have logging done, so we make a point to tell everyone to actually drive to your prospective training area first or you may be quite surprised/disappointed when you start training.

So we're working on a system for an upcoming game ("True Command") that allows both sides to conduct a bit of IPB (Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield) and place a marker on the map that signifies the terrain could change. You get to add decoy markers, so you aren't completely forecasting where the map will change, but it adds uncertainty until verified by a scout or unit moving into the hex. So far feedback seems positive about this, but need to get some more playtesting completed.



bbmike

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Reply #8 on: September 06, 2023, 08:12:50 AM
I playtested (is that a word?) True Command at Origins this year. It was a lot of fun. Looking forward to the added terrain 'fog of war'.  :bigthumb:

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Putraack

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Reply #9 on: September 06, 2023, 05:41:08 PM
The Prados article reminded me of the GDW double-blind games that covered Normandy, Market-Garden and Crusader-- I played 2 of those, but I have no strong memories of liking or disliking them.



bob48

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Reply #10 on: September 06, 2023, 05:53:03 PM
I played the Market Garden one a while back, but can't say that I found it to be a particularly good game. Interesting attempt though.

“O Lord God, let me not be disgraced in my old days.”

'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers'