Posted 08 February 2009 - 04:47 PM
I used to be more tolerant of rules priblems, the gamer's love of miniatures and such. I used to listen to the excuses about the teething problems with rules of all kinds. That is until I found, as an example, that Jim Dunnigan used to pump out a so-called authentic historical wargame a week at SPI, in addition ot his books that contain not one footnote nor any bibliography, making at least one professional reviewer comment on where Jim's what ifs begin and the so-called facts stopped.However, like say, Socrates questioning the Athenian citizens about what they did, I got nasty comments and no help from those who either played or designed these games whenever I pointed out the huge gaffes in either logic, language, playability or common sense, not to mention history and the rest. Ah, yes, the good old school of upside down Byzantine math, where the charts duplicate effects or ignore other effects, where the basics of probability are lacking. In disagreement with Mr Gill, it isn't that gamers do not read history as susch--nor that they cannot learn from it--it requires that their primary source of information, the game, present the history as faithfully as possible. But this presents some methodological problems. There are at least two schools of thought about Midwaqy. That the event was predestined to its outcome, shades of John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion and his argument that we are all predestined absolutely and we have no free will. Or that the Japanese were in a box that they couldn't get out of, as noted in an article in Naval History Review some years ago about that even if the cruiser Tone had launched its scout plane on time it would still not have reported back the location of the US carriers as the area they were in at the time was under an overcast of clouds. In a word, Nagumo had all the free will that he could have mustered, but because of circumstances, no decision that he may have made would have made any difference--The worst methodological problem is that the more one studies the leaders, the organization, tactics and so forth, the more one finds that the amount of alternatives that the historical actors could have had is extremely limited. It could be called the environemental factors, such as those at say, the battle off Samar. Kurita was so cursed by his environment and by circumstances--he had his flaghship torpedoed out from under him, fatigued by a dunk in the Pacific, then terrorized by American air attacks, and then confronts a set of U S ships that he knows not what they are as he has no aerial recon, was not told by Ozawa that the decoy had drawn Halsey away, that those ships were not the fleet carriers, and so forth. Indeed, the in the clear messages he intercepted of Sprague's for support, instead of making him more comfortable about the situation, made him fearful of imminent US naval arrival. The gamer playing the Japanese side in this engagement is not so afflicted and as he knows the historical scenario--as most game masters will announce proudly that they are doing a replay of the historical event, naming it--and will then attack and destroy the U S carriers and the amphibs(if he is allowed to move off the table to get at them, the usual edge of the world nonsense) with impunity knowing that the U S air is ineffective because they have no anti-ship capability and so forth. This is a methodological problem that has cursed all wargames, in addition to the other problems. If I were to have a game of GQ, it would include those greyed out ships to confuse the gamers, the stripping off of all names, to even include the players own identities so that they cannot have the knowledge of the ships, planes or situation. Here's a shortcut method--make up a scenario, hand out the ship data cards, without the names of the ships on the cards or the names of the planes, alter the data slightly to throw off the game lawyer or the gamer who memorizes the data cards, and then throw in some stuff about that your side lacks ships or resources and the point values would indicate that the loss of any ship would be a disaster(a sort of simulation of one of the Japanese problems), and to deny to the gamers any intel about the other sides situation about damage to its ships, except in the most obvious of circumstances. But this would violate the tradtions of miniatures and would give the know itr all miniature gamer fits about the so-called true data of the ships and why he didn't know what side he was really on. And it would need an umpire, of course, to make sure that the gamers cannot get too much info--I have done such games, a replay of Waterloo where the so-called French were Russians and the so-called British were Austrians and the so-called Prussians were British. Same type of terain, with a chateau and the rest--and we discovered a huge problem with the rules regarding artillery.Regarding those naval scenarios of the ABDA flotilla in 1941-42, well, the Java Sea battle was important for the misappreciation that many ships and commanders had of the situation, of Doorman's several contrary signals, of the mistaken idea that the dropping out of formation of a certain light cruiser meant a new change, of Tanaka's confusion about which way Doorman was moving, and of the importance of the Japanese spotter palnes and their destroyer smokescreen. In effect, for the Allied player, the Japanese ships should all be greyed out as they lacked arial scouts, and when that smokescreen goes up, that those greyed out mininatures should be removed from the table to indicate that the Allies do not know where the Japanese ships are--to be contrasted with the better intel for the Japanese.The game would require a lot of room as this battle was a running battle that lasted many hours, with intermittent contacts up until the end, so some of the action would be on a map or other device, like some hex gridded board game map. And as this is a what if replay, we would have to be prepared for night actions, a totla breaking off of the action because the several flotillas went the wrong way, an action against the tansports, the intervention of Japanes and Allied air power, and so forth. In my Ww2 land skirmish game, I have seen alll of these things, where the players move away from each other by accident, that the game is over because of a few critical hits, that the historical winner becomes the loser because he lost contact and the supply column he was supposed to protect was attacked and so forth--Now this all would be most interesting of a game except for one single fact that I have tripped over all too many times--the gamers who have learned warfare from the usual chess like traditional games (with all of the strategic or grand tactical problems of say, logistics and concentration solved beforehand) will invariably show up at the critical battle a day late and a dollar short--as in they will be scatterd, while the other guy, a little less scattered, show sup with a force twice his size, and the campaign and the game collapses with the walk over by the one side over the other.It is not only that gamers do not learn the history as it was before doing thier what ifs, it is also that, well, none of them have any notion of what it is to run a ship's division, much less to interpret the chaos of intel that the usual admiral or commodore is assaulted with and the art and science of sorting it all out to get to the right place at the right time.