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combat system tests - 4/2/2009 12:53:28 AM   
damezzi

 

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Since I began playing Toaw, even if I love the game, one thing bothers me: combat results. Sometimes they seem too arbitrary. I've read already a lot of critics to the combat system in Toaw and must say that some seemed to make sense. So I decided to run some tests, beginning with the basics, to see if one could predict combat results based on such things as unit type and terrain, without bothering with deployment, stacking etc, since their effects seems pretty linear (easier to comprehend).

I've created three units (armor, infantry, anti-tank) with barely the same strength and placed them in different terrains. That was the only difference between combats taking place; order emphasis were the same in all combats, units were not in any defensive deployment, proficiency were the same (80%), all were fully supplied and had readiness 100%. I wanted to see terrain and unit type effects only, since I think this is the foundation for further modifiers.

I have run the test 20 times for each combat; it's not the ideal number, but I think one can already have an idea of the expected results.

The first thing that striked me was that not so rarely (17 times during all test) I would face extreme results like 100% losses vs 0-5% in combats that usually wouldn't present more than 5-10% losses. So, you see a good order, supplied, good proficiency unit evaporate in a combat that shouldn't present more than 10% losses. Those results weren't considered in the casualties media, not to distort them.

Only extreme terrains like dense urban and bocage seem to present significant influence in combat casualties and they seem to make sense (I'm ignoring anti-tank attacking, since the intention was to invert the attacks on a second test, making more sense in that case). But even so, I think that influence is very low; some further unit strength difference and it would be diluted, perhaps. For most terrain types I think numbers aren't conclusive. I really think terrain should have a greater influence on casualties and if we consider that modifiers aren't cummulative, so that terrain will play lesser role when the unit is digged in...

But what really seemed arbitrary was the dislodgement of defensive units (first row). Even if the conditions of my test weren't ideal (I'm no expert on the combat system), they were the same for each combat and I really expected that infantry (being attacked by tanks) in the open would be dislodged more easily than in bocage or forest or urban, regardless of deployment; I expected that infantry in dense urban would be a lot more difficult to dislodge (by tanks or other infantry) etc. Apart from mountains (tank vs infantry) and bocage (infantry vs infantry), dislodgement seems random. Ok, digged in or fortified they would be a lot harder to dislodge, but then it resumes to comparing odds to fortification level.

Apart from that, I think that relations between unit types in Toaw make sense, even if I think that sometimes it seems almost impossible to hit armor with artillery, even when stacked to the limit. I'm no military expert, but went check on the internet and found the following article (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0IAU/is_5_7/ai_97722805/), which I found interesting.

My goal is not to criticize arbitrarily the combat system, but to try to find out what point is passing unnoticed by me, or to discuss what could be improved. I think Toaw is the best operational wargame available, but in great part this is due to it's flexibility. I think wargaming industry is too focused on WWII and some games seem to be made for WWII expert trying to analyse a certain battle. I would never buy those; I don't want to analyse every aspect of the battle of the bulge, for example... I want to be able to wander through history and learn something in the meanwhile, and toaw allows that. But if someone asked me what should be changed for Toaw IV, I would say the combat system, for sure. Well, perhaps someone can show me the light, so that things begin to make more sense.

Below are the numbers from my test. The first row shows the number of times the defenders were dislodged (20 combats total), the second shows attacker casualties and the third defender casualties. I would calculate readiness losses too, since I think it's an important factor, but it began to take me too long and I don't have the spare time.

(Numbers don't show space between them, but I wasn't able to change that here, don't know why. The way I copied them from excel seems to lock them in place. Sorry for that.)

Disl. Attacker Defender

12 11.45 9.35 Tanks attacking infantry in the open
11 31.89 8.26 Tanks attacking infantry in dense urban
14 18.74 6.21 Tanks attacking infantry in bocage
9 16.20 7.45 Tanks attacking infantry in mountains
18 13.05 8.74 Tanks attacking infantry in forest

12 18.61 6.78 Tanks attacking infantry in urban
13 8.90 11.05Infantry attacking infantry in the open
10 17.65 7.25Infantry attacking infantry in dense urban
8 19.44 5.06 Infantry attacking infantry in bocage
12 17.55 7.35 Infantry attacking infantry in mountains
15 12.25 9.10 Infantry attacking infantry in forest
15 11.60 6.35 Infantry attacking infantry in badlands
13 12.26 5.63 Infantry attacking infantry in urban
19 6.74 25.26 Infantry attacking anti-tank in the open CLEAR TENDENCY TO RETREAT BEFORE COMBAT
16 8.30 22.50 Infantry attacking anti-tank in dense urban CLEAR TENDENCY TO RETREAT BEFORE COMBAT
13 11.20 19.35 Infantry attacking anti-tank in bocage CLEAR TENDENCY TO RETREAT BEFORE COMBAT
11 8.68 23.89 Infantry attacking anti-tank in mountains CLEAR TENDENCY TO RETREAT BEFORE COMBAT
16 8.40 22.85 Infantry attacking anti-tank in forest CLEAR TENDENCY TO RETREAT BEFORE COMBAT

16 8.74 26.05 Infantry attacking anti-tank in urban CLEAR TENDENCY TO RETREAT BEFORE COMBAT
9 30.47 5.11 Anti-tank attacking tanks in the open
14 20.50 8.06 Anti-tank attacking tanks in dense urban
12 43.21 12.11 Anti-tank attacking tanks in bocage
9 37.72 9.89 Anti-tank attacking tanks in mountains
9 29.47 15.84 Anti-tank attacking tanks in forest

12 21.85 12.05 Anti-tank attacking tanks in urban

< Message edited by damezzi -- 4/3/2009 1:06:29 AM >
Post #: 1
RE: combat system tests - 4/2/2009 5:42:19 PM   
Curtis Lemay


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Did you ensure that only one combat round was expended in each combat? That can be done by setting the MRPB to a value of 1. If, instead, the attack lasted as many rounds as necessary to dislodge the defender or fail, then you might expect equal dislodgement rates regardless of terrain. That wouldn't be an apples-to-apples comparison, though.

You don't show what the combat odds were. And, you say the "orders emphasis" were not the same for all combats. By "orders emphasis" did you mean "loss tolerance". If so, that affects combat.

I assume the Anti-Tank equipment was passive, based upon the RBC tendencies.

My understanding about artillery has always been that, if attacked by tanks, 1/4 of its AP strength will be effected as AT strength in that defense. I guess I need to test that, though. But, if so, that could model the failed German attack in the article. That models using it for direct fire - like an AT gun, instead of the normal bombardment or support.

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Post #: 2
RE: combat system tests - 4/3/2009 1:34:37 AM   
damezzi

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Curtis Lemay

Did you ensure that only one combat round was expended in each combat? That can be done by setting the MRPB to a value of 1. If, instead, the attack lasted as many rounds as necessary to dislodge the defender or fail, then you might expect equal dislodgement rates regardless of terrain. That wouldn't be an apples-to-apples comparison, though.


In fact not! Anyway, I think that on the average that might not be so important (not sure here). Well, at least it seems to me that if we allow more rounds for tanks to try to dislodge infantry in the open (supposing the problem was a lower number of rounds actually fought), casualties would raise too and would come closer to those of tanks trying to dislodge infantry in dense urban. Then dislodgement would be more easy in the open, but with the same casualties number, which seems unrealistic, too. Anyway, since the combat system has its mysteries, I will consider running the test again.

quote:


You don't show what the combat odds were. And, you say the "orders emphasis" were not the same for all combats. By "orders emphasis" did you mean "loss tolerance". If so, that affects combat.

I assume the Anti-Tank equipment was passive, based upon the RBC tendencies.


Units had almost the same attack strength, but I wasn't too worried about odds, since my goal wasn't to compare unit types - in that aspect I think toaw does a reasonable job -, but to see, given the same odds, how far terrain would influence results. The loss tolerance was the same in fact(my error... I've already edited the original post).

Anti-Tank was passive. I didn't take this last part much into consideration when trying to figure out what was going on. My intention was to invert the attacks in a second test and then I would check tank unit losses when attacking an anti-tank unit in a frontal attack in different terrain types. I don't know if I will run this second test, since, as it is, I can't really see much difference based on terrain. This is a pity, since I used to take terrain a lot into consideration for planning combat and given the number of other variables, wasn't able to figure out that it wasn't so significant to results. I think it should be, mainly with such different terrains as open and dense urban.

Well, I'll perhaps try to run another test limiting round numbers and if you have another suggestion, please tell me. My intention is not to prove my point, but to come to a conclusion about terrain effects in combat.



(in reply to Curtis Lemay)
Post #: 3
RE: combat system tests - 4/3/2009 6:22:48 AM   
damezzi

 

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Curtis, I've done some tests (not as many as the first ones) restraining combat to 1 round. This time I dug in infantry and attacked with tanks with ignore losses. Results are more contradictory than on the first test, since now I noticed that tanks attacking infantry in the open takes a lot longer to dislodge than attacking infantry in mountains or dense urban. In fact, in those casualties raised a lot faster and a conclusion was took place much faster too. Even if I got the impression that tank units wear out faster than infantry in those two types of terrain, the difference wasn't so significative in order to compensate the time lost to dislodge infantry in the open. I really found it strange, but I'll carry on, since the number of combats I've done can't be conclusive.

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RE: combat system tests - 4/4/2009 3:46:24 AM   
ralphtrick

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: damezzi

Curtis, I've done some tests (not as many as the first ones) restraining combat to 1 round. This time I dug in infantry and attacked with tanks with ignore losses. Results are more contradictory than on the first test, since now I noticed that tanks attacking infantry in the open takes a lot longer to dislodge than attacking infantry in mountains or dense urban. In fact, in those casualties raised a lot faster and a conclusion was took place much faster too. Even if I got the impression that tank units wear out faster than infantry in those two types of terrain, the difference wasn't so significative in order to compensate the time lost to dislodge infantry in the open. I really found it strange, but I'll carry on, since the number of combats I've done can't be conclusive.

Were the defenders on ignore losses? If they weren't, they've got a good chance of retreating in good order, and that's going to skew the results.

Unit quality also has a large effect on the combat results.

Digging the defenders in is pretty much going to overwhelm any terrain effects, it's also going to make retreating a lot less likely. I forget what the multiplier is, but it's a bunch.

Terrain should have an affect on combat, although I don't think has any direct effect on the likelihood of retreating, only cuts down the losses and has an effect for that reason. One thing that you can do it to turn on the TOAW Log in the INI file to see the exact effects. As far as I've been able to see terrain should have a huge impact on combat results.

Why youre seeing the 0-5% or 100% results may be due to the fact that a retreat triggers disengagement penalties, which are probably pretty severe since the tanks are so much more mobile. You might try turning off active disengagement and see if you get different results.

Toaw is an extremely complex game, and I'm curious to see what you find out.

Ralph


_____________________________

Ralph Trickey
TOAW III Programmer
Blog: http://operationalwarfare.com
---
My comments are my own, and do not represent the views of any other person or entity. Nothing that I say should be construed in any way as a promise of anything.

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Post #: 5
RE: combat system tests - 4/5/2009 2:49:25 PM   
macgregor


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Personally, I consider TOAW to be in 'recall' mode. My admiration for the game engine cannot obscure the fact that it's functioning is still arcane, understood better by the game technologists than the military scientists. It appears as though Ralph has a monumental task changing over the code, which IMO is a preliminary requirement, before any injections of realism can be made. That being said, it's a magnificent model, albeit experimental, capable of portraying a vast array of historic situations. I imagine I'll have played through several games of 'World in Flames' before a satisfactory pbem situation is achieved. I like everything Ralph is doing. I don't think he's gotten 'squataa' from Norm Koger, which is unfortunate. All I can say is good luck Ralph. This will eventually be the best operational game out there, it's just got a long way to go. Know that everything you're doing is worth it, for nothing compares to TOAW's complexity, that's available to the public.

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RE: combat system tests - 4/5/2009 7:58:18 PM   
Curtis Lemay


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Ok, I decided to run some tests of my own on this. I created a scenario with ten terrain types for the defenders. I'm only checking infantry vs. infantry - to focus on the terrain effects only. Attackers had 9,000 Assault Squads each vs. 3,000 Assault Squads in each defender - giving combat odds of 3:1 exactly. All units had proficiencies of 70%. All units on all combats were on "limit losses". The MRPB was 1.

In addition, I decided to test the ability of artillery to kill tanks when directly assaulted by them. I modified the 150mm Howitzer to have an AP of 32 - giving it an AT of 8 when defending. I then also modified the 50mm AT Gun to have an AT of 8 - identical to the howitzer. These were attacked by M4/75 Shermans (Armor of 8). There were 2700 defending guns vs. 900 tanks. Finally, I also tested the effect of bombarding with 2700 Howitzers against those 900 tanks.

All combats were in suites of 10, so a run produced 10 results each time for each terrain, etc.

The results are shown in the attached table. What I found was that a few evaporations skewed the results. They were too rare to be evenly distributed without massive numbers of test runs. So I decided to up the Attrition Divider (from the default of 10, used here) in subsequent runs. More on that later. Nevertheless, it appears that RFCs (Retreats From Combat) were not very dependent upon terrain.

Also, the results confirmed that the Howitzers had the same AT defense strength as the AT guns. Bombarding with artillery still killed a small fraction of the tanks.




Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Curtis Lemay -- 4/5/2009 8:22:42 PM >

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RE: combat system tests - 4/5/2009 8:03:59 PM   
Curtis Lemay


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Here I've attached a table showing the results when the Attrition Divider was increased to 40. That got rid of the evaporations. You can now see impact of terrain on the losses suffered by each side. They seem to be working after a fashion. But, again, there is little terrain impact on RFCs. Since each type seems to have about 3 failures, and the proficiencies are 70%, I wondered if it was based upon some sort of quality failure by the defenders. For the next test, I revised the scenario so that all proficiencies were 100%.

Note that I didn't repeat the artillery tests, since the first suite of tests seemed conclusive.




Attachment (1)

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RE: combat system tests - 4/5/2009 8:06:12 PM   
Curtis Lemay


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Here's a table showing the results when all units were at proficiency of 100%. The RFCs are the same or worse. So that doesn't seem to be it.




Attachment (1)

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RE: combat system tests - 4/5/2009 8:09:37 PM   
Curtis Lemay


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Finally, I tried changing all unit proficiencies to 50% to see what that caused. The results table is attached. Not much difference. I suspect the RFC trigger must be based upon the odds ratio left after the losses are effected - but only Ralph can tell for sure.

Whatever it is, there doesn't seem to be much effect of terrain in that trigger - and that probably should be altered in some fashion.




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RE: combat system tests - 4/5/2009 8:21:36 PM   
damezzi

 

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Ralph, I didn't come to a conclusion yet; I don't want to be frivolous, so I set up another scenario just to test terrain effects in the long run. It should be more important to see if a set of combats would experiment a difference and also consider the movement restrictions that terrain will impose to the number of combats per turn. That is, I've set up a test that is more like in-game situations; after all, is the final effect that counts.

quote:


Digging the defenders in is pretty much going to overwhelm any terrain effects, it's also going to make retreating a lot less likely. I forget what the multiplier is, but it's a bunch.


That is one thing that always bothered me. I think that terrain multiplier should have a fraction which accumulates. That is even more true for scenarios with short turns. Fortified will overwhelm and nullify even dense urban and can be attained with less than one day in six hour turn scenarios. One day later, a unit in the open has the same type of cover of a unit in dense urban, which also may have worked in fortifications. I really think they should be cummulative. Perhaps some cases would be exception.

quote:


Terrain should have an affect on combat, although I don't think has any direct effect on the likelihood of retreating, only cuts down the losses and has an effect for that reason. One thing that you can do it to turn on the TOAW Log in the INI file to see the exact effects. As far as I've been able to see terrain should have a huge impact on combat results.


I will try to take a look on the log file. Didn't know about it


quote:


Toaw is an extremely complex game, and I'm curious to see what you find out.

Ralph


I must say that I admire what you do in order to develop Toaw and the way you face the challenges. Some developers tend to persist on denial as if there was such thing as a flawless game. As macgregor said, Toaw is on the way to become the best operational wargame (for me it is already, but it can be become the ultimate reference) and in my opinion this is due to three factor: it's flexibility (from now on, games that don't allow the community to add something or that restrict options, no matter how good they are, won't last long); the fact that it is in constant development for years, since the even more complex games only attain a solid state after maturity; and your open mind and capacity. Keep the good work!

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Post #: 11
RE: combat system tests - 4/5/2009 8:30:42 PM   
damezzi

 

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Curtis, I didn't see your test before posting. They seem to confirm that RBC isn't affected by terrain. Anyway I will run a test I set up multiple times (it will take a while, since I want to run multiple combats in each one) to see the capacity of advance in different terrains, since even without the RBC, casualties and number of combat/turn based on movement restriction can cause an impact on advance through the terrain. Anyway, I think that there should be a difference in RBC results, since sometime that single hex is what matters. But I really think, as stated above, that modifiers should be cummulative.

I'll have a better look on your numbers later, since I must leave now.

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Post #: 12
RE: combat system tests - 4/6/2009 12:12:39 AM   
ralphtrick

 

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I don't see where retreates are affected by terrain, but the unit quality defintely should have made a difference. I'll see what I can find out about that.

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RE: combat system tests - 4/6/2009 3:47:57 PM   
macgregor


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Let me repeat that I am just a player with no idea what level of cooperation Ralph is receiving from Norm Koger. My deductions, albeit assumptive, are that even if there is no negotiations between Norm and Matrix, the game still reverently bears his name, which should be incentive enough for him to willingly provide Ralph with the kind of data and ...help that he needs. It just seems like Ralph is being forced to decipher this code from scratch. Which if were the case, would be tragically unfair to Ralph. At some point, the game will need to be renamed 'Ralph Trickey's Operational Art of War'. My opinion of Ralph is that he would never complain. But Norm's lack of involvement in the forum alone is enough to tell me that he has washed his hands of it. If Ralph wants to chastise me for being an assumptive @%^@$# I suppose that's his right.

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Post #: 14
RE: combat system tests - 4/7/2009 4:52:54 AM   
ralphtrick

 

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To make sure I set the record straight, I have nothing but admiration for Norm. He wrote TOAW over a period of many years, and he put a lot of sweat and tears into TOAW, it is obviously a labor of love.

The one time I had a question, shortly after I started, he responded quickly and courteously.

The last time I heard, someone said that he was happy that someone was still wokring on TOAW.

The code actually is very well written overall, well commented and easy to read. The only real complaint that I have is that the UI code is more convoluted than it should be since he converted his DOS code instead of rewriting it. The combat logic is straightforward, there is just a LOT of code.

Norm is a professional designer, as far as I know. He makes his living writing games, and had to move on to another game for reasons I'm not at liberty to discuss. I'm not a professional, I'm a semi-pro, I'm doing this for fun, mainly. That's one of the reasons Norm can't really help. I also haven't asked since that would cost him time, which is money. If I asked him, after 5 years being away, I'm not sure that' he'd be able to remember, the fact that I've made changes since then doesn't mean that he'd be right either.

I'm using Vs2008, which has evolved into one of the better tools out there. Even better, I've got the team and the commmunity, some of whom seem willing to endlessly create and run test scenarions to keep me honest.

I can see where the code is checking proficiencies, so I'm not sure why they aren't showing up in the results. Once I figure that out, I'll see if it was something I did or something that's been there a long time, or something intentional.

Ralph


_____________________________

Ralph Trickey
TOAW III Programmer
Blog: http://operationalwarfare.com
---
My comments are my own, and do not represent the views of any other person or entity. Nothing that I say should be construed in any way as a promise of anything.

(in reply to macgregor)
Post #: 15
RE: combat system tests - 4/7/2009 5:10:36 AM   
ralphtrick

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: macgregor
Personally, I consider TOAW to be in 'recall' mode. My admiration for the game engine cannot obscure the fact that it's functioning is still arcane, understood better by the game technologists than the military scientists. It appears as though Ralph has a monumental task changing over the code, which IMO is a preliminary requirement, before any injections of realism can be made. That being said, it's a magnificent model, albeit experimental, capable of portraying a vast array of historic situations. I imagine I'll have played through several games of 'World in Flames' before a satisfactory pbem situation is achieved. I like everything Ralph is doing. I don't think he's gotten 'squataa' from Norm Koger, which is unfortunate. All I can say is good luck Ralph. This will eventually be the best operational game out there, it's just got a long way to go. Know that everything you're doing is worth it, for nothing compares to TOAW's complexity, that's available to the public.

MacGregor,
Thanks. I go into some of the reasons that Norm can't help in a different post.

I personally believe that is IS the best operational wargame out there. I don't know of any other game that has lasted as long or had as loyal a following. I'm glad you feel passionate about it too.

I'm not sure what you mean about game technologists and military scientists. Because it takes into account every shot at every piece of equipment, even knowing all the rules isn't going to help a lot. I'm working to clean up remaining the 'gamey' issues, and make it respond to sensible military strategy. It does have some rough edges at the extreme cases like 10,000 soldiers against one tank, and some things which don't make sense yet (like this thread.)

Actually, I started enjoying TOAW when I quit trying to figure out all the rules and just started playing.





_____________________________

Ralph Trickey
TOAW III Programmer
Blog: http://operationalwarfare.com
---
My comments are my own, and do not represent the views of any other person or entity. Nothing that I say should be construed in any way as a promise of anything.

(in reply to macgregor)
Post #: 16
RE: combat system tests - 4/7/2009 6:20:07 PM   
macgregor


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Thank you very much Ralph for letting me know that information. I'm glad to hear that Norm has been available. When I mention 'game technologists' vs 'military scientists' what I'm trying to say is that the advantage is as much with those who understand the mechanics of the game than the mechanics of operational warfare. Damezzi's tests are IMO somewhat conclusive that some tweaking may be necessary. The wishlist is full of this kind of stuff, and you've been graciously receptive. It's a lot of work. I guess I feel a game this good would warrant Norm's ...solicitation of help, or at the very least a periodic pass at the forums. I'm sure within his memory are gems that could help the members as well as yourself. The conclusion is that he's moved on, washed his hands of TOAW. So be it. It just seems unfortunate somehow. It'll be Ralph Trickey's Operational Art of War hopefully soon enough. I'm under no illusion that what's on the wishlist can be accomplished within the next two years. I suppose I'm trying to channel my impatience into some form of constructive thought. My thoughts are with you and TOAW regardless of whether I'm playing the current version.

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Post #: 17
RE: combat system tests - 4/10/2009 3:45:38 AM   
damezzi

 

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Ralph, I think I may have (just may have) discovered one point of the system that may be distorting combat results giving sometimes the impression of arbitrariness. If you have the patience to read through it, since sometimes, due to my English, I may be repetitive in order to make things clear. I know that, since Iím not a forum regular, my impressions will probably be taken less seriously than that of those who manifestly know the game system well, but Iíve dedicated some time this week for some tests and came to some conclusions.

In my opinion (so far, since some extra tests may be needed to confirm) proficiency difference dominates the probability of dislodging a unit, independently of losses (even if those play a part, too), while weapon type, odds, terrain, deployment dominates casualties. That way we come to a completely artificial result, so that one would use proficiency difference (or any other variable that may be influencing the break-off checks) to advance and odds, terrain, weapon type, etc for causing casualties. Summarizing, the break-off checks may be nullifying the consistent results of the shot calculations (my tests show that the core of the system is in fact very solid). As youíve said, Toaw calculates each shot taking into account each type of weapon in a straightforward way and those results seem to be realistic as far as I could verify. The problem is that to end it all, as the conclusion of the combat resolution, you have the break-off check, forcing a defender to disengage and, not only leaving the defensive terrain, but also breaking at times. If this check isnít consistent, it doesnít matter if the core of the combat engine is; it will spoil the results with the break-off consequences.

And I think it isnít. In fact, I think that those checks should be a lot more dependant on order emphasis and relative shots results and much less dependant on proficiency or any random value. In the manual proficiency isnít stated as influencing break-off, but for some reason I could verify itís ample effect on the break-off chances.
On the first test (all units at 80% proficiency) units took longer to break-off and to evaporate (and evaporation is one thing that sometimes seems completely random). On the second test (all units at 40% proficiency) units broke-off and evaporated a lot more easily and results became more unpredictable, but similar to the first test on the long run. I could already imagine what would happen on a test with units with different proficiency levels and I set one using only three of the units of the first test, since I thought it would be enough. The third test was made with attacking unit with 80% proficiency and defending units with 55% proficiency. The first thing one should consider is that proficiency increase units strength level and more proficient units should cause more casualties and make enemy break-off more easily too, advancing further. Well, base on the second test, I could predict that the last part of this statement would be true, and it was in fact. But that didnít change the losses (well, not much). Attacker would advance very easily, dislodging defenders on difficult terrain (dense urban in this case Ė in the open it was already easy), but at the end, defenders would make attackers evaporate and when evaporating themselves, would cause the same loss ratio as before. So, proficiency difference make units break-off, but with no relation to casualties (at least, no significant relation). That spoils the solid results of the losses calculations. What should one do? Use proficient unit to dislodge and advance and strong units with proper weapon combination to cause damage? In fact, proficiency could cause even further damage indirectly in a game situation, since units breaking-off near other, sometimes strong, enemy units will have to disengage and leave defensive terrain. So, what matters if Toaw can calculate losses very well when a single variable with the help of a strong random component (at least it seems so, since frequently results for breaking-off fluctuate a lot, not being as consistent as losses results) will define your capacity to advanceÖ and frequently advance is more important than casualties.

To make those tests I have created a scenario which I called ďTerrain RaceĒ. Iíve place five rows (doubled) of five different kinds of terrain and created attacking units with slightly better odds. The first five rows show attacking tank units against defending infantry and the last five show infantry vs infantry. I thought about a test that, even if less precise, would simulate a more Ďgame likeí situation than the previous test Iíve made.

On the first test Iíve set unit proficiencies to 80% and set all units to ignore losses. All units were fully supplied and supply points were distributed along the tracks, so that supply wouldnít influence.
From turn 1 on I would attack always when possible with the attacker unit and on the defender turn I would set them back to ignore losses. I would keep this, controlling each unit, until one of the sides in each track evaporated. So I could check how far a unit could advance, how long would it take to advance, and how long would it take to evaporate using a game like situation.

We can see that results are very consistent on the long run when proficiency is the same for all units. Tank will smash infantry in the open and advance fast, infantry will have a much easier time stopping tanks in dense urban. Combat in forest, bocage, and mountains will be more balanced, but mountains would make casualties to be milder, making combats last longer. In one occasion, I saw tanks advancing faster after infantry had lost the few anti-tank teams it had, but causing little damage, as one would expect in mountainous regions when infantry destructive power has been gone, but not itís defensive capacity. All that was very solid. Only perhaps forest presented a surprising parity with bocage and mountains, if we consider modifiers, but the fact is that the results were consistent and predictable to some degree (what is great for a game, since there is no point on pushing counters just to see what the dice will say)

The second test was the same, but with tank vs infantry only. Proficiencies were changed to 40%. Results were more extremes. Units would evaporate a lot earlier and break-off much more frequently. Usually I would have to set much more combats per turn. To be precise, one would have to run extra tests, due to the more extreme results, but as the table shows, they werenít much different than the ones from the first test, if taken relatively.

The third test was the decisive one, since I just wanted to confirm what I suspected. Attackers were given 80% proficiency against 55% of defenders. It was a feast for attackers in terms of advance (and the numbers shown are conservative, since once at least, defender was able to fortify in forest and created an extreme result which I included for fairness). First I thought it may be due to proficiency changing the attacking capacity of units, but then I noticed that the results in terms of evaporations and casualties werenít that different from those of the previous testsÖ only break-off chance was. That meant: attacking units were advancing without killing and sometimes, while being killed. Iíve watched attacking units which kept advancing with already lower odds, taking greater damage and easily dislodging a more efficient defender only because itís check was favorable and the only variable Iíve changed was proficiency, but it may be other the causeÖ I donít know.
Well, letís say you take a fanatic faction unit with low proficiency, but able, due to defensive terrain, odds etc to cause more damage than the attacking one and ordered to hold the ground to the last man. Itís improbable they would break-off. I think the break-off check is nullifying the good loss calculation results that Toaw is able to bring and breaking off can be worse than taking damage. Itís extremely artificial to use the formula: proficient units advance faster and dislodge enemy even when not causing enough losses while stronger units with lower proficiency causes more damage but are unable to dislodge enemy that fast. Iím donít know the program to state what is the problem with certitude, but I really think it must be on the break-off check that had to be less random and more based on actual loss ratio.

Well, thatís the main point, but another thing that I think completely unrealistic is the way entrenchment level is raised. In less than two days (on a half day turn game) a defender in the open can bring up a defensive position stronger than an entrenched unit in dense urbain terrain. That seems absurd. Toaw simulates different stacking penalties and movement rates for different scenario scales, but entrenchment is lacking this kind of treatment. It would be nice to see entrenchment levels raising slowly during full day turns, being helped in a more intense fashion by engineer units. It would not only bring a new nuance to Toaw, since players would have to administer engineers and fortification efforts more closely, having to choose regions which should have precedence in terms of fortification, but small scenarios like Kasserine would feel more real, without the automatic routine of digging in which donít add anything to the range of available player decisions. One canít build a dozen of strong fortified points every two days in the desert. Sure strong fortified points could be build pretty fast due to extraordinary efforts, but that wouldnít happen all around, all the time. The way it is, it is the same thing to defend a vital dense urban hex and a vital open hex which are two days away from enemy advancing forces and infantry can spread fortifications in the open to deal with tanks on a 3 or 4 days high movement scenario in the desert.
I know that any solution must consider already created scenarios, which are one of the great commercial advantages of Toaw, but creating different rates of fortification and stronger influence of engineer would maintain compatibility with all scenarios, like what is being done with supply. Only the scenarios dynamics would change and that could be great to bear new life to old scenarios.

Those are just a player point of view. I keep thinking that there is no other operational wargame as good as Toaw, but Toaw can be even better. Those engine details and a more modern interface are all that must be changed to make Toaw live for the next decade.





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Post #: 18
RE: combat system tests - 4/10/2009 3:46:57 AM   
damezzi

 

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An image of the starting position. Make your bets!




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Post #: 19
RE: combat system tests - 4/10/2009 4:50:23 AM   
ralphtrick

 

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damezzi,
Can you please email a copy of your scenario?

ralphtrickey (at) operationalwarfare (dot) com.

I'd also like to see why some attack seem to either have no effect or disentegration. I know that disentegration in TOAW just means that all the unit has lost all it's cohesion. That one smells funny, although it might be correct. I've learned not to trust my 'common sense'.

The defnder's order emphasis should have a huge impact on how likely the defenders are to retreat. I wonder if that explains the disentegrations. Units on Limit losses would be a lot more likely to retreat, but would do it in good order. A unit on ignore losses would be less likely to retreat, but it would be bloody. That lets you decide which is more important, ground or equipment.

Any change to include terrain effects in the chance of a retreats would probably be a big enough change that I'd want to make it an optional rule or push it to a future patch depending on how things go.

Fortification has always seemed like it was too fast to me too, but that's just from a personal/aesthetic viewpoint. Fixing that does seem to be likely to break a lot of scenarios. They may be broken now because I fixed them in the new patch anyway(they weren't working as expected except in clear terrain). I'll have to see what's in the wishlist for fortifications.

Thanks,
Ralph


_____________________________

Ralph Trickey
TOAW III Programmer
Blog: http://operationalwarfare.com
---
My comments are my own, and do not represent the views of any other person or entity. Nothing that I say should be construed in any way as a promise of anything.

(in reply to damezzi)
Post #: 20
RE: combat system tests - 4/10/2009 4:51:12 AM   
ralphtrick

 

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damezzi,
I forgot, thanks for the detailed tests.

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Post #: 21
RE: combat system tests - 4/10/2009 7:50:29 AM   
Legun

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: ralphtrick
Digging the defenders in is pretty much going to overwhelm any terrain effects, it's also going to make retreating a lot less likely. I forget what the multiplier is, but it's a bunch.


Yeah, this is next very, very questionable feature of TOAW mechanics. An unit fortified in open steppe has the same defensive strength as the same unit fortified in alpine terrain . This hasn't any evidence in millitary history. Fortified positions in mountains were always recognized as much more difficult to assault. IMHO effects of digging and terrain should be additive.

(in reply to ralphtrick)
Post #: 22
RE: combat system tests - 4/10/2009 7:56:14 AM   
Legun

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: ralphtrick
Fortification has always seemed like it was too fast to me too, but that's just from a personal/aesthetic viewpoint. Fixing that does seem to be likely to break a lot of scenarios. They may be broken now because I fixed them in the new patch anyway(they weren't working as expected except in clear terrain). I'll have to see what's in the wishlist for fortifications.


If you really want to look at the problem, I'm very glad. I'll see at the wishlist, too. Today I remember that digging in AFVs is too easy, for sure. It's very questionable in the many cases, too - for example in the case of halftracks .

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Post #: 23
RE: combat system tests - 4/19/2009 4:10:27 AM   
ralphtrick

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: ralphtrick
I'd also like to see why some attacks seem to either have no effect or disentegration. I know that disentegration in TOAW just means that all the unit has lost all it's cohesion. That one smells funny, although it might be correct. I've learned not to trust my 'common sense'.

Yes, it was funny.

I can see how it happened.

When checking to see if a unit can disengage, a flag is set called UNIT_DIVIDE_CHECK.
When calculating the combat results, a check is made in some cases to see if UNIT_DIVIDE_CHECK and unit_can_divide. If it can, is divides, otherwise it disbands.

Makes sense, right?

Yes, except for the minor problem that the attacker never sets the UNIT_DIVIDE_CHECK flag, so they disband automatically instead of breaking off.

I've modified the code, and it looks better now, no mysterious 100% losses out of nowhere.


_____________________________

Ralph Trickey
TOAW III Programmer
Blog: http://operationalwarfare.com
---
My comments are my own, and do not represent the views of any other person or entity. Nothing that I say should be construed in any way as a promise of anything.

(in reply to ralphtrick)
Post #: 24
RE: combat system tests - 4/19/2009 4:52:56 PM   
Sekadegas

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: ralphtrick

quote:

ORIGINAL: ralphtrick
I'd also like to see why some attacks seem to either have no effect or disentegration. I know that disentegration in TOAW just means that all the unit has lost all it's cohesion. That one smells funny, although it might be correct. I've learned not to trust my 'common sense'.

Yes, it was funny.

I can see how it happened.

When checking to see if a unit can disengage, a flag is set called UNIT_DIVIDE_CHECK.
When calculating the combat results, a check is made in some cases to see if UNIT_DIVIDE_CHECK and unit_can_divide. If it can, is divides, otherwise it disbands.

Makes sense, right?

Yes, except for the minor problem that the attacker never sets the UNIT_DIVIDE_CHECK flag, so they disband automatically instead of breaking off.

I've modified the code, and it looks better now, no mysterious 100% losses out of nowhere.



Be very careful with untried changes.


Correct me if I'm wrong but the obvious result of this modification is those divided attacking units planning an attack during next round, cancell it (to change their status from retreated to mobile), then regroup and continue attacking without penalties.
The attacking unit it's on its own turn and not on the opponent's turn (as the defender unit is) so the treatment of both situations can't be similar.


Most experienced players can feel when the attacking unit runs the risk of disentegration and just don't make the attack or just consider the risk.

Why shouldn't an unit get completely desorganised and ceases to exist in a coherent form when attacking?


< Message edited by Sekadegas -- 4/19/2009 4:53:29 PM >

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Post #: 25
RE: combat system tests - 4/19/2009 10:18:31 PM   
ralphtrick

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Sekadegas
Be very careful with untried changes.


Correct me if I'm wrong but the obvious result of this modification is those divided attacking units planning an attack during next round, cancell it (to change their status from retreated to mobile), then regroup and continue attacking without penalties.
The attacking unit it's on its own turn and not on the opponent's turn (as the defender unit is) so the treatment of both situations can't be similar.


Most experienced players can feel when the attacking unit runs the risk of disentegration and just don't make the attack or just consider the risk.

Why shouldn't an unit get completely desorganised and ceases to exist in a coherent form when attacking?


Yes, I've stepped into it more than once with side effects from changes.

This change still has to survive the beta testing period and those guys are brutal. In addition, the unit doesn't go to retreated, it goes to into reorganizing, which is fairly drastic. It won't be attacking again that turn, so the overall affect shouldn't impact balance too much.

I was running the 'terrain race' scenario from earlier in this thread, and it didn't make sense to me that losses were generally about even, between 10% and 25%, but occasionally, an attacking unit would just go 'poof.' I don't think that in a given battle, given equal losses, it's reasonable that the defender would split into three parts and retreat, while the attacker would disband. Reorganizing makes a lot more sense to me.

Ralph


_____________________________

Ralph Trickey
TOAW III Programmer
Blog: http://operationalwarfare.com
---
My comments are my own, and do not represent the views of any other person or entity. Nothing that I say should be construed in any way as a promise of anything.

(in reply to Sekadegas)
Post #: 26
RE: combat system tests - 4/19/2009 11:08:07 PM   
Sekadegas

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: ralphtrick

In addition, the unit doesn't go to retreated, it goes to into reorganizing, which is fairly drastic.



But an attacking unit going into reorganizing already happens often... and much often than disentegration.

Of course if you attack with a weak and tired red unit against a well suppoted target you can bet on disentegration. But that's what should be expected. Or not?

Toaw combat system can have minor problems but this just isn't the case...

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Post #: 27
RE: combat system tests - 4/20/2009 4:55:51 AM   
damezzi

 

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Sekadegas, I also think that an attacker should have the chance to evaporate on the conditions you present, but I must support Ralph on this. I've seen attackers evaporate out of nowhere when green, with 100% readiness, against unsupported units, in favorable terrain and with 100% vs 0% damage, what is really drastic. I've run the test dozens of times and it wasn't so rare. I've run the test until unit evaporation in all cases and most of the time you would expect a chance to evaporation to take place, but sometimes it was really a surprise, really out of nothing.

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Post #: 28
RE: combat system tests - 4/20/2009 12:31:07 PM   
Sekadegas

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: damezzi

I've seen attackers evaporate out of nowhere when green, with 100% readiness, against unsupported units, in favorable terrain and with 100% vs 0% damage, what is really drastic.


This is your experience, definitively not mine.


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Post #: 29
RE: combat system tests - 4/20/2009 3:58:04 PM   
MechFO

 

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Have to agree with damezzi and Ralph on this. When attacking Green condition fortified defenders I have seen evaporations from Green condition attacking units several times. Even with very lopsided odds in favour of the attacker. OTOH the attackers tended to be from yellow or red stacked hexes and I don't know if overstacking would also influence the results.

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Post #: 30
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