currently reading….

Posted: August 17, 2013 in Rus Mod

I’m reading The Caucasus Under Soviet Rule, from Alex Marshall:

The dramatic reverses experienced by Soviet forces in the North Caucasus during the winter of 1918–19 came about in part through the yawning disproportion in the size of forces fielded, and the logistical arrangements available to sustain them. Whilst Denikin’s numerically smaller forces could rely on the relatively richangrain belt in the Kuban for food and fodder, the supply situation of the Soviet armies, pushed further and further back against the dry and barren steppe of thé Caspian coast, and reliant upon convoys of camel trains from Astrakhan, quickly became critical following Wrangel’s northern breakthrough. On 20 January thé division of the White General Ulagai had finally seized the vital railway stations of Sviatoi Krest, depriving the 11th Army at a stroke of all communication to thé north-east, and leaving the only remaining roads open to them either the route through Vladikavkaz to Georgia, on the one hand, or a circuitous and tortuous journey through Mozdok and Kizliar to Astrakhan, on the other.
By January 1919, therefore, the Red Army in the North Caucasus was effectively leaderless, reeling from a number of significant military defeats, decimated by typhus, and more disorganized than ever. All that really remained was for Denikin’s much smaller but more mobile and effective forces to deliver the final military coup de grâce.

It confirms my projects for supply, no?

  1. biscan says:

    Any serious wargame should be based on supply and logistics. This summer I finally learned to play OCS (Case Blue), and it is pretty amazing how a boardgame can be so superior in dealing with these matters compared to computer wargames…

    • Clovis says:

      Sure. Data isn’t reality and reality isn’ t truth. As most computer design are relying only on data, they fail. A few but deep absrptracted rules may reveal the truth.

    • Alexey says:

      Boardgames (wargames) is also conditional on the supply: in OCS defending player does not require a supply of markers in contrast to the attacking player. This is realism? The defending troops not require ammo?
      The mechanics of computer wargames have not changed no less than 7-10 years, so there is no fundamental impossibility of modeling the supply chain of computer wargames.

      • biscan says:

        That is incorrect. Defending troops need supply in OCS too. Don’t argue if you don’t know the facts.

      • Clovis says:

        Imo, thé computer wargaming school is relying too much on a définition of realism as huge amount of data funneled in a complex system made of a large number of rules.

        Let’s take on example : the Allied supply crisis in September 44 in France. A computer wargame will be built on large numbers of oil, ammo, general supply elements, each unit spending let’s say 1,000 oil to move, etc.

        So the design must first define how these quantities will be delivered to units. A few possible problems : the player decides to use rail only to transport oil and so avoid a penury for this, when in rl you can’t transport oil in normal cars. Or the player will transport all oil on a unique railroad line, unless the game defines a limit on the maximum capacity for a site to allow passage. And you have to represent accurately the railroad network, create rules for the repair of these lines. If these repair is done by special units, rules are needed to cancel any use of these troops as combat unit, or ” ant units” used to cut supply lines.

        So each new rules forces to create another, that in turn needs new rules…

        In the end, you get:

        – a system needing first long months of developments to squash bugs,
        – a system needing too research of an incredible historical data, far beyond 99% of the efforts done by the most in depth military studies,
        – a system whose rules are either 10 pages long or poorly overviewed in 2 paragraphs, so players are generally deprived of real understanding about, or forced to follow a harsh learning curve,
        – a system whose playtest needs to be exhaustive about many months by several dedicated playtesters.

        Let’ s define some boardgamimg rules:

        – units to be in full supply must be at x hexes of the supply unit.
        – the movement allowance of the supply unit is very low when it moves in direction of the front, and higher when it moves back from the front
        – units not fully supplied suffers penalties during battles
        – units surrounded suffer yet more penalties, excepted in fortress
        – each side has a general supply level, and this one defines bonus and penalties for all units given the overall conditions: +2 for the Allied, so they could yet attack as in September, without being at their best for units not in full supply, -1 for Germany (aerial interdiction, falling general production)
        -the general supply level would define too the number of units a side may declare in full supply even if conditions aren’t met. Let’ say one army for Allied, either the Patton’ Third or part of British force, if the player wants to try a Monty concentrated trust, and 2 divisions for Germany
        – a rule for air supply.

        I firmly believe this set of rules, with a few refinements, is a better portrays of the reality than the successive moves of the 331th transport truck battalion with its 2,157 load of ammo….

  2. biscan says:


  3. Dick says:

    Computers should be used to handle the less interesting book-keeping stuff of boardgames, so that players could concentrate in the most interesting part, ie. thinking and executing moves. But unfortunately the mathematical possibilities offered by computers are usually wasted by creating overly complicated and buggy systems, exactly like Clovis describes in his post.

    The best computer wargames are the ones with clear and logical rules. If such rules allow the game to achieve historically believable results, then the designers have done something right. And if they are also able to create a decent AI, well, then they’ve hit the jackpot! 😀

    • Clovis says:

      For operational wargames, imho 2 systems have been succesful ( 3 maybe with TOAW, but that’s another story): one is alive and is made by Panther Games: the Combat command serie. This one is a pure computer system based on data but seconded by an AI sufficiently performing to avoid micromanagement. Unfortunately, this system hasn’t got a large audience.

      The second is the defunct Atomic Games V4V. It was a transposition of traditional paper wargames, keeping the basic principles and adding indeed a few pure computer features, like wego and FOW. The system was an high mark in computer wargaming, but, sadly, wasn’t profitable and was dropped.

      First lesson: operational computer wargames don’t sell much, whatever the system.So the companies producing them must be the smallest possible. Atomic Games had a rather large number of employees, with among other a designer and a programmer.

      So comes the second point: the size being very small, the programmer becomes the key. It’s interesting boardgames get identified by their designers when computer wargames are by their programmers. EIther the programmer is the designer, or the designer is much or less a minor part of the team, as the programmer has always the last word on what can be done or not.

      Programming is an analytical process: dividing a problem is smaller components, dividing these smaller points into yet more small points, until each point can be solved by a 0 or a 1. Programming is too revolving around numbers and operations.

      Designing a set of rules needs a synthessis effort: a rule must keep with all situations; if it can’t you then need a second rule to complete the first. Rather than dissecting, you create a a brick then another.

      Programmers may of course use synthesis. But when they aren’t, they apply to the design heir analytical method: what’s supply? Ok, ammo, food, oïl. So I’m going to create 3 supply items….and so on.The systhesis consists on the contrary to search if the ammo/il/ food disctinction is pertinent. Soemtimes, yes. For other subjects, no. For a Stalingrad game, 6th Army missed food, oïl and ammo. No need to introduce such a distinction.

      The best progammers in the computer fields are those having such a synthesis approach. Unfortunatly, they aren’t sometmes the most skilled in programming. Then they have to fight against the cultural bias of programming, ie the reality is made of numbers, and can be approximated with an overload of statistical datas.

      Third point: there’s unfortunately a public for this kind of games, and the sad point this public is certainly today dominating in sheer nubers the computer wargaming field.

      20 years ago, the numbers of consumers of operational games was yet too small to sustain Atomic Games. But at least it existed a large part of boardgaers searching the computer graal, because Internet being yet more a premise than a reality, they were isolated , in lack of human opponents.

      Today, they are at least Vassal, Sun Tzu, Cyberboard to play boardgames over the net. Then the tablet revolution is comming: less processing power and small screen size cancels any monster projects; whatever their quality, tablet wargames are easier to learn and play.

      So many boardgamers don’t look that much anymore to computer games. The main part of consumers is now made of people sharing the same illusion détails make reality, taht is rather funny considering how lenient they may show themselves about major points.

      Let’s imagine tomorrow a company announcing a WW2 game where Germany and Great Britain will ally to fight the USA/Japan coalition…..It’s exactly the same when in RUS, you may use Freikorps, Balts and White Russians backed by Allied support against Reds in the official RUS.These sides had all a different political agenda, conflicting each other. But, as it’s less well know, and the primary target of many is the exact data about the pancake supply of the 133th kitchen Company, these players are sincerely believing they are playing close to reality what it’s just a game as close to reality than Panzer General is for operational warfare, the burden of complexity aside.

      I firmly believe however there’s hope nad it comes from the last company I would have foresighted for this change: Paradox. Both CK2 and EU4 seems to have chosen to ally in design streamlining synthesis and historical plausability. Of course, Pardox is yet not exactly producing realistic games. But in EU4 they have solved one of the old problems: defeated armies are immobilized several provinces farther until they recover morale: that’s abstract but in the end very close to the historical outcome. There’s no more need to chase after defeated armies.

    • baris says:

      In that aspect it seems HOI series better than WIE in at least for less frustration in combat mechanics and scenario design for 1941. 🙂

  4. biscan says:

    Clovis, you are absolutely right about Combat Command and V4V, the latter still being the best computer design for land based operational warfare, in my opinion. However TOAW doesn’t belong to this elite group. Due to the lack of a proper supply model, it favours “hyperactive” playing style where you wear out your enemy with hundreds of small attacks. No need to stockpile anything. It has nothing to do with operational art of war.

  5. baris says:

    In matrix forum there were thread TOAW 3 was buggy with latest patch. This is unfortunate. I think with modding opportunities and the amount of volunteers about scenario design it is wasted opportunity for matrix adn the wargaming community.

    • Clovis says:

      One, the AA bug has been fixed by an unofficial patch. The second, belonging to the invulnerability of entrenched units with ignore losses setting, may be avoided by house rule, as the AI never uses this setting.

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