Why micromanagement in a company-level game is not desirable

Michael Dorosh

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From The Bloody Battle For Tilly by Ken Tout:



Later Able Company saw a strange sight. Heading straight at Baker Company were robot driverless tanks - filled with high explosives set off by means of time devices. One by one they entered the confines of Baker Company, caving in slit trenches, the deadly blast killing, wounding, maiming. One courageous soldier fired his PIAT at point-blank range, destroying both the 'beetle' tank and himself.
The game player has perfect knowledge that the infantryman on the ground doesn't. While Allied soldiers eventually learned that you could pick off a Goliath with rifle rife, the soldier with the PIAT obviously didn't know that. If you want to simulate a battle early on in Normandy where inexperienced troops faced German pioneers, the only way to capture adequately the impact of the German weapons is to place restrictions on what the Allied player can and can't do with his men, and model their reactions appropriately.

What I liked about CMX1 (though not the first time or two I did it) was the ability to kill yourself by ordering HE fire too close to your own softskin vehicle. Blowing up one's own self-propelled gun was realistic, and you can see in the quote above that one's own weapons were sometimes a hazard. So it should be in a simulation.
 

dalem

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I wholeheartedly agree. CM:BO was really the first game where I had to really worry at all about friendly fire, or other such limitations on my control. The first time I got a tank stuck on a steep slope I literally yelled "that's awesome!" When I blew up my first Priest from firing into the corner of a building I was hiding behind, I crowed just as loudly. Not every self-inflicted wound in CMx1 is necessarily "realistic" in detail but the fact that it happens AT ALL is huge.

I remember an ancient hoary CM:BO thread where I was expressing my disappointment that every 'zook round that hit, exploded, since I was/still am under the impression that WWII-era HEAT rounds were finicky things.

Thinking of other levels of control, I wrote a long email to Dan, I think, years ago when CMx2 was announced as in development but long before the switch to modern was revealed. Not really understanding the level of change that was coming I outlined what I thought would be a neat addition for scenario makers, that of Areas of Responsibility.

I pictured another layer over the terrain map color-keyed like setup areas that you could "lock" units to. During the scenario no unit could move out of or be in command outside of its initial AOR. You would be able to set some sort of "elasticity" number via which the AORs would gradually expand turn by turn, eventually encompassing the whole map if you wanted.

Pretty obviously I was trying to emulate stuff I've read about where 1st platoon sets up on the left of the road, 2nd on the right, and 3rd in reserve, and once the lead starts flying it takes a while for a complete enough picture of the battle to allow or encourage redeployments. During the first few minutes/turns of an engagement it would force "realistic" restrictions on who could do what where, I thought.

I dunno, it made a lot of sense to me.

-dale
 

Michael Dorosh

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I wholeheartedly agree. CM:BO was really the first game where I had to really worry at all about friendly fire, or other such limitations on my control. The first time I got a tank stuck on a steep slope I literally yelled "that's awesome!" When I blew up my first Priest from firing into the corner of a building I was hiding behind, I crowed just as loudly. Not every self-inflicted wound in CMx1 is necessarily "realistic" in detail but the fact that it happens AT ALL is huge.

I remember an ancient hoary CM:BO thread where I was expressing my disappointment that every 'zook round that hit, exploded, since I was/still am under the impression that WWII-era HEAT rounds were finicky things.
Imagined reliability is just as important as the actual. PIAT rounds routinely failed to detonate in the early days (i.e. Sicily). The fuzes wouldn't go off unless they smacked the target dead on. So the Army redesigned them so they weren't so finicky. But it took tons of encouragement to convince guys that they worked better. Because when you're facing a 20-ton tank wearing nothing but a cotton shirt, with some gizmo whose range is 100 yards, you've got two choices - believe the egghead who has never been in combat, who wrote the memo that says "the fuzes now work", or lam the hell out of there thinking that the boys in the divisional anti-tank regiment with the 17-pounder guns might do some of the work for a change.

Thinking of other levels of control, I wrote a long email to Dan, I think, years ago when CMx2 was announced as in development but long before the switch to modern was revealed. Not really understanding the level of change that was coming I outlined what I thought would be a neat addition for scenario makers, that of Areas of Responsibility.

I pictured another layer over the terrain map color-keyed like setup areas that you could "lock" units to. During the scenario no unit could move out of or be in command outside of its initial AOR. You would be able to set some sort of "elasticity" number via which the AORs would gradually expand turn by turn, eventually encompassing the whole map if you wanted.

Pretty obviously I was trying to emulate stuff I've read about where 1st platoon sets up on the left of the road, 2nd on the right, and 3rd in reserve, and once the lead starts flying it takes a while for a complete enough picture of the battle to allow or encourage redeployments. During the first few minutes/turns of an engagement it would force "realistic" restrictions on who could do what where, I thought.

I dunno, it made a lot of sense to me.

-dale
That makes sense to me, too. Might even make that command and control stuff they botched up the QBs for, actually have a purpose in the game.

In fact, if BFC wanted to encourage "proper" command and control structure, that would be the way to do it - not by artificially restricting 'purchases' but my encouraging real life reduction of command 'friction' in ways like that.
 

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I thought, way back in the mists of time when we were discussing CMx2 prior to release, that what they had in mind was very interesting. It seemed as if they were going to crack proper C&C with a workable game. You would have a real natural feeling obstacle to overcome if C&C was stretched. It would be interesting to go back over that particular thread.
 

Michael Dorosh

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Actually, it's funny that Ken Tout wrote that those Goliaths were set off by time delay. I thought they were set off by remote control - i.e. telephone cables. There were reports that Goliaths were found on the D-Day beaches for example, but were quite useless because the cables were cut by shellfire. Another example of how scary some weapons systems are at first sight, but once the intel on them makes the rounds, and you learn how to deal with them, they're not so bad. Which is why it is good to shackle experienced game players with restrictions on what he can and can't do in a game setting, since while he may know the ins and outs of every piece of kit from a Goliath to a King Tiger, the men he is purporting to command would not have. He may be crazy enough to try and bounce a round off the rounded bottom gun mantlet of a Panther into the driver's head - but one of 'his' men may not be so crazy-brave given the real life opportunity...
 

shell-shocked

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I wholeheartedly agree. CM:BO was really the first game where I had to really worry at all about friendly fire, or other such limitations on my control. The first time I got a tank stuck on a steep slope I literally yelled "that's awesome!" When I blew up my first Priest from firing into the corner of a building I was hiding behind, I crowed just as loudly. Not every self-inflicted wound in CMx1 is necessarily "realistic" in detail but the fact that it happens AT ALL is huge.

I remember an ancient hoary CM:BO thread where I was expressing my disappointment that every 'zook round that hit, exploded, since I was/still am under the impression that WWII-era HEAT rounds were finicky things.
I totally agree.

Small arms friendly fire would be neat as well, though it might be pushing a bit too much into micromanagement direction. Perhaps small arms friendly fire (think overwatching MG fire thru advancing friendly infantry) should be rather modelled as lower rate of fire (for the MG) or as suppression (for the infantry the MG is firing thru).


Thinking of other levels of control, I wrote a long email to Dan, I think, years ago when CMx2 was announced as in development but long before the switch to modern was revealed. Not really understanding the level of change that was coming I outlined what I thought would be a neat addition for scenario makers, that of Areas of Responsibility.

I pictured another layer over the terrain map color-keyed like setup areas that you could "lock" units to. During the scenario no unit could move out of or be in command outside of its initial AOR. You would be able to set some sort of "elasticity" number via which the AORs would gradually expand turn by turn, eventually encompassing the whole map if you wanted.

Pretty obviously I was trying to emulate stuff I've read about where 1st platoon sets up on the left of the road, 2nd on the right, and 3rd in reserve, and once the lead starts flying it takes a while for a complete enough picture of the battle to allow or encourage redeployments. During the first few minutes/turns of an engagement it would force "realistic" restrictions on who could do what where, I thought.

I dunno, it made a lot of sense to me.
Makes a lot of sense to me as well. I have had similar thoughts.

I think it all comes down to a system having a real concept for formations and the commander's ability to issue them orders. When you have some of that in a game you don't need so much micromanagement to make the game fun.
 

[hirr]Leto

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I don't even micromanage taking a crap. Hold on a sec... I think I just pooped myself... hmmm... I guess I should have micromanaged a little then.

I stand corrected (don't want to sit atm).

Cheers!

Leto
 

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Actually, it's funny that Ken Tout wrote that those Goliaths were set off by time delay. I thought they were set off by remote control - i.e. telephone cables. There were reports that Goliaths were found on the D-Day beaches for example, but were quite useless because the cables were cut by shellfire.
These remote control tanks didn't blow themselves up, if they could avoid it.

They carried the charge in front of them, dropped them, then drove back. Of course that requires that the operator and the wire stay in place, but that was the plan for most models.
 

Michael Dorosh

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These remote control tanks didn't blow themselves up, if they could avoid it.

They carried the charge in front of them, dropped them, then drove back. Of course that requires that the operator and the wire stay in place, but that was the plan for most models.
Yes, makes more sense than blowing up all that German engineering.

The Russians had a more low-tech idea, so the story goes, thanks to Pavlov...
 

[hirr]Leto

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Arf!

-dale
I think you meant "Arfsky!"

Equally suitable would have been "barksky, roofsky or wooferov."


Which reminds me of the story of a noble Soviet minenhund, named Bonyack (translates into "empty pot" in Russian), who not only detonated inside the barracks of a German panzer officers mess, but managed to also bite two German Colonels in the nuts, urinate on a batman, chew up several operations maps and deficate on the walkway of a FieldMarshall (who promptly stepped into it, slipped and died).

He received the Order of Lenin shortly thereafter (which was then buried by Bonyack's three son's and two daughters).


Cheers!

Leto
 

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I was taught in my Russian classes that Russki dogs say "Gav gav!" instead of "Arf arf!"

But I wasn't sure if anyone else here had used Lipson. ;)

-dale
 

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Without some level of micromanagement in a company level game, there would not be much to do beyond watching the computer play itself. Playing the role of just Company Commander would entail giving a total of four general orders to your Platoon Leaders and then watching the computer screw up your plans. That doesn't sound like a very fun game to me!
 

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I agree with RM, a wargame works precicely because you can micro manage down to quite a low level. Games like TOAW are what you want if all you need to do in your wargaming is give units a general order, let them get on with it and move on to your next unit.

Games like CM are more interesting exactly because they let you micro manage units as small as a squad.
 

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Without some level of micromanagement in a company level game, there would not be much to do beyond watching the computer play itself. Playing the role of just Company Commander would entail giving a total of four general orders to your Platoon Leaders and then watching the computer screw up your plans. That doesn't sound like a very fun game to me!
Talonsoft used to have an option like this in their Civil War games. Instead of micromanaging every regiment you could just give orders to your brigade commanders and the AI would then control their subordinate units. Unfortunately the AI just wasn't up to controlling the units with any kind of finesse.
 

Geordie

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Talonsoft used to have an option like this in their Civil War games. Instead of micromanaging every regiment you could just give orders to your brigade commanders and the AI would then control their subordinate units. Unfortunately the AI just wasn't up to controlling the units with any kind of finesse.
Wow, believe it or not I found the old Gettysburg game the other night and fired up the CD. I actually had a half decent time playing it again after all these years. Your right though, the AI isnt up to controlling units.
 

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I'm not sure this thread is properly titled , we're really talking about C and C , and FOW ?

I think Command is one of the funnest things to simulate , and totally non-fun , such as playing a miniatures game with teams and you can only communicate with other team members with hand written notes .

The Gamers did a ACW board game series that did a lot with C and C . Talonsofts ACW games were good , are they published by HSP now ?
 
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