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Scenario design questions: play balance vs. historicity

 
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Scenario design questions: play balance vs. historicity - 7/24/2000 10:08:00 PM   
Fabs

 

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I enjoy designing scenarios and have designed a number for my own use, mostly fictional affairs for quick play. I have worked on some historical situations, developing two scenarios in Steel Panthers 1, through to SPWW2 which I am now trying to convert to SPWAW with the help of Frank Chalanda's excellent Wavmap utility. This posting is about the first of these scenarios. It represents the abortive attack by 6th Green Howards in the Cristot area on June 11th, 1944. I have several accounts of this fight from both sides, and a modern 1:25,000 map of the area. Earlier versions were simply not accurate enough, mostly because of game limitations, to make me confident of posting it on the game depot, but with Spwaw's new capabilities I think it could be knocked into good shape. Here are the dilemmas that i would like to share with the more experienced scenario designers that participate in this forum, in the interest of producing an enjoyable scenario. 1) The map. Some of the map areas are covered by really dense bocage. To represent it faithfully I would have had to run parallel hedgerow lines with no open ground in between them. This looked a bit silly, so I compromised and played around with the layouts until I felt that I achieved a suitably claustrophobic feel. As a result, there will be less hedgerows to defend. I would be interested in knowing if other designers have encountered similar problems when dealing with bocage, and their way of dealing with them. Historical OOBs/deployment vs. a fun game. Historically, the brits got whipped at Cristot because their infantry-tank co-operation was bad. The tanks got going 20 minutes later than the infantry and fought mostly independently. Eventually, after heavy infantry losses, a counter-attack by 4 Panthers of 12SS PzRegt triggered a British withdrawal. Modelling this in the deployment of the scenario would ensure a frustrating game, with an almost certain outcome. I am opting for deploying less infantry and more armor at the outset (only two infantry companies supported by one squadron of tanks), but to deploy them together so they fight combined. They are re-inforced later by the other two companies and one more squadron of tanks. I am not featuring the third squadron because at this point and with the Brits fighting tanks and infantry properly the scenario becomes heavily weighted against the Germans. My first attempt at playing the 30 turns through produced a result where the Brits took all the objectives and won a marginal victory against the German AI (4,573 - 1,444) having suffered heavy infantry and tank losses. The German counter-attack is modelled faithfully, with the 4 Panthers coming in on turn 15. Handled in the usual, ham fisted way by the AI and with little infantry available to support them, their impact was not exactly determining (they did knock out four Shermans, but three of them were destroyed). At this point, I clearly need to do something to get more balance into the scenario, but whatever I do will be at the expense of historicity. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. It would also be greatful if someone would help me with testing the scenario. ------------------ Fabs [This message has been edited by Fabs (edited July 24, 2000).]

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- 7/24/2000 10:28:00 PM   
Fabio Prado

 

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Hi, Fabs! Perhaps adding to these Panthers experience and moral values along with armor proficiency would help. Make them Elite. if they are still work in performance, add some more... I'll be happy to help you in testing the scenario, if you don't mind waiting a little for the response (I'm having some time problems lately - but you know: All work and no SPWAW play makes Fabio a lousy Tiger Bn commander...) You are on the right track, IMHO. Best wishes, FAP

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- 7/24/2000 11:42:00 PM   
Wild Bill

 

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Hi Fabs! I understand your dilemma. It is an onrunning problem for all scenario designers who, as I, have an inordinate love of military history. For me, SPWAW and other games afford a glimpse into the past, a moment of reliving the time, the battle, the feeling. So, what is one to do? Consider this. Do I want historicity or playability or a good mix of both? If you create a totally historical scenario (actually that is not possible...we just don't have enough data to do that), then we better get ready for the totally historical outcome. OR... Do I want to design a fun, tough scenario and stick a historical name on it? Some do that. Not a good idea. OR... Find a chord of harmony between the two. To do that and offer a fairly equal chance of winning from either side, then you must do some "finnigaling" (southern word) or play with things. Fabio has hit upon one tool, changing unit experience and morale levels. Terrain, turns of entry, unit modifications, all are tools to create this balance. So I readily admit that my battles for the most part are historical simulations (not historical recreations), trying to be as realistic as possible while offering the gamer an experience that is challenging and fun. And remember this one point. Even if you do choose all the units correctly, and make sure every tree and rock is on the map as it should be, there is no guarantee that the battle will come out the same. Think about this. If the real battle were to be fought over again, same units, same ammo loads, same roads, same weather, same decisions, the results might be quite different. So the best you can do is to make as historically accurate as you can while not sacrificing playability. And that, my friend Fabs, is ALWAYS the challenge facing a scenario designer. You'll do well. Just remember, a good mix of historicity plus playability equals a great scenario. Good luck. ------------------ In Arduis Fidelis Wild Bill Wilder Coordinator, Scenario Design Matrix Games

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- 7/25/2000 12:17:00 AM   
Fabs

 

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quote:

Originally posted by Fabio Prado: Hi, Fabs! Perhaps adding to these Panthers experience and moral values along with armor proficiency would help. Make them Elite. if they are still work in performance, add some more... I'll be happy to help you in testing the scenario, if you don't mind waiting a little for the response (I'm having some time problems lately - but you know: All work and no SPWAW play makes Fabio a lousy Tiger Bn commander...) You are on the right track, IMHO. Best wishes, FAP [/B]
Thanks, Fabio. As a matter of fact, I am not in a hurry for answers. I will be away between July 28th and August 12th on my summer holidays, and I can wait for your opinion until I come back. Is it OK if I E-mail the files to you attachments in a zip file before I leave? ------------------ Fabs

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- 7/25/2000 12:29:00 AM   
Fabs

 

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My thanks to you, too, Wild Bill, for this reply and for the one on the other thread. Having tried my hand at designing historical scenarios I now realize the amount of work that has to go into producing them. You have produced so many excellent scenarios for us to enjoy, since Steel Panthers 1, the hours that you must have labored to achieve those results must have been many! Well, I for one have had many hours of enjoyment playing them, so thank you very much again, and thanks to the other members of your team who have developed this excellent game, and continue to develop it to give us even more enjoyment. ------------------ Fabs

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- 7/25/2000 2:03:00 AM   
Tombstone

 

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You could always make 2 scenarios. One that is as accurate an historical representaion as possible, and another that has been tweaked to be played as a 2 player game or make for a better challenge for the side that historically won. Tomo

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- 7/25/2000 2:09:00 AM   
Fabio Prado

 

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quote:

Originally posted by Fabs: [QUOTE]Originally posted by Fabio Prado: Thanks, Fabio. As a matter of fact, I am not in a hurry for answers. I will be away between July 28th and August 12th on my summer holidays, and I can wait for your opinion until I come back. Is it OK if I E-mail the files to you attachments in a zip file before I leave?
Please do. I will be more than happy to help you! FAP ------------------ Fabio Prado [email]fprado@fprado.com[/email] Webmaster - The ARMOR Site!

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- 7/25/2000 4:28:00 AM   
Wild Bill

 

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Fabs, your reply is my paycheck! Congratulatory words of encouragement like yours are like saying "sic em!" to a hound dog. I'll copy out our statement and make sure the whole design team sees them. Good, supportive folks like you and so many others on this forum make every effort very much worthwhile. And we'll try to do better, I promise! Wild Bill ------------------ In Arduis Fidelis Wild Bill Wilder Coordinator, Scenario Design Matrix Games

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- 7/25/2000 8:46:00 AM   
Polrbear

 

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Scenario Designers, Great topic, balanced or historical. I would suggest that there is a strong desire for both, but request that you not compromise and comingle the approach. I would also suggest that you make it a standard to note in the text of the scenario which approach you selected. This make it easier to find a balanced scenario for a two player game or a historical scenario for the solo experience.

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- 7/25/2000 10:40:00 AM   
Wild Bill

 

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Good thought, Bear. That probably should be done, though again, totally historical scenarios are highly unilikely, but a very close facsimile, yes, that should be possible. A lot of scenarios I have seen are indeed close enough to be labeled historical and are still fun and challenging. That is the hardest job a designer will face. But it can be done...WB ------------------ In Arduis Fidelis Wild Bill Wilder Coordinator, Scenario Design Matrix Games

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- 7/25/2000 3:17:00 PM   
victorhauser

 

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Has anybody done a map of Iwo Jima yet, using the new largest SPWAW (240x100) size?

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- 7/26/2000 12:52:00 AM   
Tombstone

 

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Its my guess that Mt. Suribachi sure wished it had more than 3 elevation levels to play with... Tomo

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- 7/26/2000 3:56:00 AM   
Dean Robb

 

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1. The incredible Raiders certainly inspired me to try my hand (try Border War in the Depot...lemme know what you think!) at scenario design. It's hard - mine took a bit over a month to do - but rewarding. Without those scenarios, though, I'd know a bit less about military history and SP would be a lot less fun. I *always* play through the scenarios before going for a campaign. 2. History vs playability: I'm a firm member of the simulation vice recreation camp. I don't care if every tree is where it was historically - I want the force mix to be about right (doesn't have to be identical down to the last rifle) and the situation and terrain to be realisticly what the combatants faced. The idea is to provide a chance to refight the battle - with the same circumstances as the original commanders faced, could I do as well or better? The terrain should be reasonably accurate...steppes should be flat, the Ardennes should have lots of trees, etc., but it doesn't have to be perfect.

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- 7/26/2000 5:34:00 AM   
Wild Bill

 

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Yes, I have, Victor...Iwo, Wake, Betio and working on some others...Perhaps Peleliu, Makin Island, etc. Wanna see it? Before or after naval bombardment Wild Bill ------------------ In Arduis Fidelis Wild Bill Wilder Coordinator, Scenario Design Matrix Games

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Wild Bill Wilder
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Post #: 14
- 7/26/2000 5:44:00 AM   
Wild Bill

 

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Ah, Daddy Dean! You are right on target. Now those are the scenarios people play and enjoy! Believe me, that is the case....WB ------------------ In Arduis Fidelis Wild Bill Wilder Coordinator, Scenario Design Matrix Games

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Wild Bill Wilder
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