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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

A wealth of wargaming knowledge

Scott Cole conducts a fascinating interview with wargaming historian George Nafziger at Castalia House for Wargaming Wednesday:
SC: David Hamilton-Williams’ Waterloo New Perspectives argues that one of the main influences for the modern understanding of the Battle of Waterloo is Captain William Siborne and his research conducted while building a topographical model of the battle field, all heavily influenced by interviews with British veterans while neglecting the role of minor Allies and, of course, the Prussians.

GN: One thing about published authors – Just because you find it in print doesn’t mean it’s correct. I found a book on Leipzig where the author gave an OB for Leipzig that had the 1st & 2nd Westphalian Hussars present at Leipzig, but both had deserted the French army in late August or early September 1813. This author simply assumed. He also listed Vandamme’s I Corps as still existing, but it was destroyed after the battle of Dresden at Teblitze

When I said that I found English literature on the Napoleonic wars unsatisfying, it was because English speakers are notoriously monoglots – reading only English and only repeat the mantra of “The English won the Napoleonic Wars because they were wonderful.” Let me ask you a rhetorical question: “How many English works go into any detail on Austrian, Russian, or Prussian actions on the battlefield?” I knew of very few.

Anyway, I’ve digressed. English-reading authors cite only English sources and you get the same stuff over and over again. When I buy a book on the Napoleonic era I look at the bibliography. If 50 percent or more is English, I figure the non-English citations are purely filler to flesh out the bibliography and it is purely a rehash of the same old Anglo-myopic stuff.

As for Siborne, he was an Englishman whose natural pro-English biases were accentuated by his desire to get subscriptions for his model, so he amplified the actions of those rich nobles he was soliciting for money. That said, he provides valuable information concerning the British (which must be evaluated for overstatement) and scanty details on the French. As for the Allies, they weren’t making donations to his model project, so they got left out.

 SC: Do you have examples of common misconceptions amongst the English reading public?

GN: Yes, the idea that Wellington invented the two rank line. In fact, in the Dundas infantry regulation you will find it mandated WHEN the battalion did not have sufficient men to fill out the three rank formation. I did an analysis, which can be found in Imperial Bayonets, where the British Army in the peninsula was so under strength that it had no choice, but to be in two ranks as prescribed by the Dundas regulation.

SC: You were a professional wargamer playing OPFOR at the Battle Command Training Center in Fort Leavenworth. Could you describe the similarities and the differences between the war games employed in the Battle Command Training Program (BTCP) and any commercial wargames you have played?

GN: Dissimilarity – the Army actually knew something about war, where I have often found that wargamers frequently have no practical or personal experience in it. Though I was never in the Army, 25 years commissioned service in the Navy counts for something. In addition, I have experience in naval gunfire support off the coast of Vietnam. I also wear the combat action ribbon, for having been in combat, i.e. exchanging fire with the enemy.

Similarities – the generals frequently have ideas, and facts can be an annoyance to those fixed ideas. By this I do not intend to sound like I’m a know-it-all, and some of what I know is classified so I cannot discuss it, but let me relate one story. After the invasion of Iraq, I was writing scenarios for brigade-level exercises. I wrote one where I had the terrorists seize a water works and release the chlorine gas. The generals threw my scenario out saying that the terrorists would never do that. Within a year the terrorists were putting cylinders of chlorine with their IEDs. I rest my case.

There is one major difference between the BCTP games and any type of hobbyist wargame, and that is that the BCTP game had no “eye candy.” Visually it was very sterile. Commercial games have a necessity to make their games visually appealing.
I don't often post links to them here, but rest assured that I never miss reading a Wargaming Wednesday post. They are reliably an excellent and informative read.

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41 Comments:

Blogger Mr.MantraMan November 07, 2018 9:14 AM  

Reading this is far better than reading the the previous two threads as the commenters personally vow to charge political Cemetery Ridge once they can cheer up

Blogger Looking Glass November 07, 2018 9:23 AM  

Very interesting.

Blogger DonReynolds November 07, 2018 10:40 AM  

I very much enjoyed the times in my life spent with wargames.

There are two types of games (and players):

One type are the historical re-enactors, who want to re-enact specific battles or campaigns and try out their own best plan for the situation. They are looking for authentic order of battle and resources and accurate maps of the vicinity in question. Interesting and fun at the same time.

The other type of game (and player) is not looking to re-enact battles or campaigns at all. They play with resources and spatial relationships in a recurring series of combinations and permutations. Chess and checkers would be two of the older wargames in this regard. (Even some of the chess players can be re-enactors if they have read too many books on the game.) Some of the new Sci-fi gamers are only possible because they are not tied to historical events and thus are not re-enactors, but they can still re-enact their favorite sci-fi novel.

To me, both types are wonderful, but neither are the sort of game I could call authentic. An authentic game, even a board game, would be played with little idea of the strength and posture of the enemy....at times, even the weapons being brought to the conflict. A certain amount of the information believed will prove to be wrong, with every sort of error in exaggeration or underestimate, or simply non-existent. Deception is an important part of conflict, even the weather can seem to conspire for and against. None of this can be experienced in a game where both sides have near perfect information of the enemy and terrain. Even sports teams are guilty of deception. In battle, much more is at stake.

Blogger Silent Draco November 07, 2018 1:01 PM  

Nice interview er review. I may want to attend Fall In, just to listen to his dession.

Blogger Doktor Jeep November 07, 2018 1:02 PM  

Man I used to love wargaming back in the day. The most challenging part is converting a wargame to a computer program.
Ah youth...

Blogger Silly but True November 07, 2018 1:14 PM  

Great insights. Though there will never be another Jerry Pournelle, it’s good to be able to follow those who are at least traveling within his same world.

Blogger Ken Prescott November 07, 2018 1:33 PM  

Interesting discussion.

Sometimes, one can see glimmers of genius in wargame design--the hedgerow rules in ASL, for example, uses a simple and elegant mechanic to show how hedgerows were such a pain to deal with for the attackers.

Other times, I wonder what the designer was smoking, such as the gun stabilzation rules in MBT that made the M1 Abrams into unstoppable slaughterbots shouting "EXTERMINATE!"

Blogger Daniel November 07, 2018 1:37 PM  

Have you played COIN games like Cuba Libre, DonReynolds?

Blogger Silent Draco November 07, 2018 2:07 PM  

Ken, the stabilization and integrated fire control let the Abrams do that. There should be another feature that shows time to empty. The gas turbine is good for agility, lousy for endurance. If fuel consumption wasn't included, there's the locoweed.

Blogger Yordan Yordanov November 07, 2018 3:19 PM  

Another awesome person Vox introduced me to, nice...

Blogger Haxo Angmark November 07, 2018 3:32 PM  

excellent post re military history and source languages. I read and write military history, 1914-45, and can translate (with a good dictionary at hand) German, Russian, French, Italian. But not Japanese. And one of the prime sources for 1937-45 is the 100 vol. Japanese Official History which - because of 1945 destruction of documents - consists mostly of solid firsthand accounts by surviving officers; only 2 volumes exist so far in English translation - on New Guinea 1942 and Java/Sumatra 1942 - and I really, really need to crack that linguistic code...or forget about publishing anything useful. But when I look at a page of Japanese squiggles, I somehow lose all motivation.

Blogger Dirk Manly November 07, 2018 5:15 PM  

@3

"To me, both types are wonderful, but neither are the sort of game I could call authentic. An authentic game, even a board game, would be played with little idea of the strength and posture of the enemy....at times, even the weapons being brought to the conflict. A certain amount of the information believed will prove to be wrong, with every sort of error in exaggeration or underestimate, or simply non-existent. Deception is an important part of conflict, even the weather can seem to conspire for and against. None of this can be experienced in a game where both sides have near perfect information of the enemy and terrain. Even sports teams are guilty of deception. In battle, much more is at stake."

Interesting... because I've been working on a Midway game which incorporates those things.

My biggest issue is keeping it contained so that it doesn't become a grand-tactical game covering the entire territory of the Pacific theater.

But your issue of NOT knowing the enemy's order of battle that actually participates in any one action is central to the design.

Also, doctrinal differences in the two navies will also be exposed.

* Ship design doctrine (how effective can damage control be on a certain ship),
* training doctrine (MOS specific, general seamanship, damage control)

* Operational doctrine differences. (How have the admirals trained the junior officers and enlisted men? How do their routines differ? What scenarios do they train for the most? The least? Not at all? What are their preferred weapons? What is their preferred method of delivery of that weaponry? With regard to carriers: What planes do they put on their carriers? In what proportions? How do they train those crews for use in battle?)

* interaction between ships' designs and damage control effectiveness over time AFTER the initial damage occurs. You can have a 1000 lb/ 500kg Armor Piercing Bomb make it into the engine room of each of two different ships, and end up with wildly different results based on differences in design and crew quality issues.

(continued)

Blogger Dirk Manly November 07, 2018 5:15 PM  

(cont.)

The initial plan is to offer a straight historical OOB with straight historical ships, crews, and doctrines. (The Japs have practically no chance of winning under these conditions. Even in their double-blind map-based wargame, the captain playing the US fleet beat the 3 admirals running the Jap Fleet... 3 times out of 3 playthroughs), and the captain was NOT privilege to the Admirals' plans. The first time, the results were disallowed because "The Americans would NEVER do that." ... which turned out to be exactly what the American admirals DID do. The entire operation was full of fail even before the planning stages.

Then, offer the what-ifs for comparison of results. (If the Jap warships were mirror images of similarly-sized American warships of the same class (BB, CA, CV, etc.), would it have improved Japan's performance at Midway?)

Basically, in the "variant"
* Both players get to choose what ships they are bringing to the battle. Neither side knows what the other is really up to.
* The U.S. is in a race against time to put together a fleet to oppose the Japanese -- some aspect here are generally OUT of the control of the Admirals -- from the perspective of the leaders, these are somewhat random events.
* U.S. player can... MUST get intel before the operation is in the execution phase. Japanese player generates Intel. U.S player hopes to get something useful out of it. Japanese player has no idea WHAT intel the U.S. player is getting.
Additional variation: Japanese, or both players (depending on what question the gamers are interested in before starting the game) can choose to fight with a navy that was built differently and/or trained differently, and/or fights under a different doctrine. Before the game starts, both sides have to commit, in writing, to what build/train/operational doctrines are to be assumed for their fleet. Each has drawbacks and benefits. (e.g. The U.S. could have built more ships if they hadn't built them to take a lot of punishment.)

Quiz question:
The Japanese took 4 fleet carriers to Midway, and the US took 3 fleet carriers to Midway.
How many did each side sink?
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Answer
US: 0
Japan: 5
====
Explanation
The only US Carrier sunk was sunk by Japanese aircraft.
All 4 Japanese carrers were sunk by either Japanese destroyers using torpedoes (3), or the crew scuttling the ship (1).

Blogger Dirk Manly November 07, 2018 5:22 PM  

@5

"Man I used to love wargaming back in the day. The most challenging part is converting a wargame to a computer program.
Ah youth... "

I am currently bedridden for the next week or so recovering from surgery. Anybody who wants to play some wargame or another via VASSAL, contact me at dirk.gently00@gmail.com

Blogger Dirk Manly November 07, 2018 6:04 PM  

@7

"Other times, I wonder what the designer was smoking, such as the gun stabilzation rules in MBT that made the M1 Abrams into unstoppable slaughterbots shouting "EXTERMINATE!""

Realize this -- the MBT rules were written BEFORE the M-1 Abrams was ever tested in combat.

After Desert Storm, the fact that the M-1 proved itself to actually be a slaughterbot caused the Soviet tank design and production complex to develop a new tank which is SPECIFICALLY designed to defeat the M-1 Abrams.

No M-1 Abrams has ever been lost to enemy tank main-gun fire. Meanwhile, Abrams were picking off T-72's while running across the desert (which is NOT as smooth as it appears in photographs) WHILE IN MOTION at speeds over 30 miles/hour.

The M-1's main-gun's gunlaying system is basically the direct progeny of a US Navy WW2 Iowa Class battleship's gunlaying system, controlled by the $150,000 (1940 dollars) Ford Mark 1 fire control computer....

Vietnam vets will tell you that fire support from the guns of an Iowa class battleship, firing from offshore while cruising at 30 knots were more accurate than ANY army or marine artillery piece shooting from a fixed, and VERY-well surveyed location on a firebase, being directed by artillery fire direction computers.

US Navy gunfire from ships with the Ford Mark 1 were orders of magnitude more accurate than ANY other naval gunfire -- vs land, sea, and aerial targets, and exceeded ONLY by systems using radar AND GPS, as well as the pitch, roll, and yaw inputs which are present on both the Ford Mark 1 an the M-1 Abrams' gunlaying computers.

If you know anything about a WW2 Torpedo Data Computer analog torpedo fire control computers which were developed independently by the Kriegsmarine and the US Navy, then you understand only 5 of the inputs and 3 of the outputs of the Ford Mark 1's 11 inputs and 9 outputs (of which a couple are feedback into the inputs unless someone changes the target data with a gun-director. The person using the gun-director continues making adjustments (by aiming at the target) until the output from the Mark 1 keeps the gun director aimed at the target.

The Ford Mark 1 is an electro-mechanical analog computer the size of a large car, and can track several surface and aerial targets simultaneously. The original M-1 Abrams gunlaying computer is digital computer, originally implemented with an 8-bit microprocessor, and only has to track 1 target at a time and keep 1 gun constantly pointing at that target. The Ford Mark1, being analog, had continuous output to the turrets. The M-1's fire computer creates an output stream which is "fast enough" to guarantee hits, as was demonstrated during such actions as the Battle of 73 Easting and the Battle of Al Busayyah

http://infogalactic.com/info/Battle_of_73_Easting

http://infogalactic.com/info/Battle_of_Al_Busayyah

Blogger Dirk Manly November 07, 2018 6:10 PM  

TL;DR The rules in MBT for M-1 Abrams are accurate.

Blogger Dirk Manly November 07, 2018 6:27 PM  

@9

"Ken, the stabilization and integrated fire control let the Abrams do that. There should be another feature that shows time to empty. The gas turbine is good for agility, lousy for endurance. If fuel consumption wasn't included, there's the locoweed."

As I recall, the scale for MBT is 100m/hex, and uses isomorphic boards the same size as Squad Leader, Panzer Blitz, Panzer Leader. Fuel is not a factor, because any scenario assumes that the M-1s have reached the engagement site. And since most actions involving M-1's don't last very long, it doesn't matter. Doctrine for M-1's is to refuel just before going into action. Quartermaster Corps can run out extremely long fuel hoses, extending the pipeline system, at the rate of several miles/hour, and fill fuel-blivets. The M-1 drives up to a fuel blivet -- a crewman or fuelhandler takes the fuelhose and stuffs the filler nozzle into the fuel-tank filler tube, and the tank driver slowly creeps the tank onto the fuel bladder -- the pressurizes the blivet, and the fuel handler fills the tank just like the tank was drawing fuel out of a fuel truck or ground-based fuel pump. If the fuel hoses can't reach far enough towards the intended battle site, the fuel can be easily and rapidly attached and removed from blackhawks. They are round, so they can be rolled on and rolled off of chinooks. Or they can even be loaded onto regular cargo trucks, and the refueling can be done simply by gravity feed.

While the M-1s fuel consumption is a real pain at the theater logistics level, it's not as much of an issue at the tactical level. EVERY maneuver battalion/squadron has at least one fuel truck per company/troop/battery in it's inventory. The fuel guys worry about getting fuel into the fuel trucks from the nearest fuelbag farm or arranging to get it from the forward end of the theater pipeline.

During WW2, that fuel consumption would be a huge issue. It's not so big a problem today.

Blogger Ken Prescott November 07, 2018 7:07 PM  

The thing is, it was an unstoppable slaughterbot in terrain where you didn't have to worry about snagging the main gun in the foliage or in buildings. That's fine in a game about Desert Storm, not so good in a game set in West Germany. Tankers I talked to preferred Assault's no fire if you took first move rule much better, it imposed real decisions on you.

Another WTF rule was TacAir making the air to ground strength the defense strength in air to air combat...a loaded F-111 was impossible to kill.

Blogger Ken Prescott November 07, 2018 7:11 PM  

The problem was that it let the player move at full throttle while spotting and shooting as if parked, in very complex terrain.

NATO tankers--US, German, and Canadian--that I talked to said reality didn't work like that in Western Europe.

Blogger DonReynolds November 07, 2018 9:37 PM  

Daniel wrote:Have you played COIN games like Cuba Libre, DonReynolds?

No....not at all. They all seem to be terrific.

Counter-insurgency is a bit like sword fighting with the combatants randomly being blindfolded, often at the same time. Even that allows for too much to be known at the time.

Maybe the Irish have shown how a determined and ruthless group of rebels can beat a declining empire in their own country. They did that in 1919-21, so nothing high tech.

Blogger Dirk Manly November 08, 2018 1:29 AM  

This comment has been removed by the author.

Blogger Dirk Manly November 08, 2018 1:49 AM  

@18

"The thing is, it was an unstoppable slaughterbot in terrain where you didn't have to worry about snagging the main gun in the foliage or in buildings. That's fine in a game about Desert Storm, not so good in a game set in West Germany. Tankers I talked to preferred Assault's no fire if you took first move rule much better, it imposed real decisions on you".

1. Tanks generally don't operate INSIDE cities -- and if they do, they don't travel any faster than the infantry on foot that's protecting them. Any driver who hangs up his tank's gun on a building because he decided to stray too close is gonna get chewed out by the tank's commanding NCO. Now.. being in a narrow street without enough room to swing 180 degrees... that I can see... for really old sections of town built with heavy stone. But that's really an exception in modern armored warfare. Commanders of armored units avoid such terrain if they can. They don't want some yahoo with a $75 RPG or M-72 LAW (to say nothing of a $400 AT-4) getting a nice top-armor shot from any one of the dozens of rooftops that has a line of sight on their precious tanks. Tanks enter cities ONLY with REALLY good reasons to do so. Even modern parts of town where the streets are wide enough that traversing the turret 360 degrees is no issue. It's something you do ONLY when you have barelled through the opposing lines so far that not only are you in the enemy formation's rear... you're in their LOGISTICS organization's rear.


The only terrain where the M-1 Abrams doesn't excel is in the woods (due to trees). Even in a city, all the gunner has to do is keep his eye on the target... and the gunlaying computer is actively assisting him in keeping that gun on his target, because there's a laser rangefinder in it, which tells the computer how fast to swing the turret. In a city, yes that M-1 is hampered, but not nearly as hampered as every other tank out there. The M-1's fire control computer knows the geospatial relationship between itself and the target. IF a building gets in the way for a couple seconds....that''s not a very big deal, the M-1's computer is going to assume that the target is continuing the same path of motion and speed, unless corrected. And if the target is merely eclipsed by an office building or an apartment tower or something, that's generally GOOD ENOUGH for the gunner to have his sight pointing where the target will be when the target emerges on the other side.

This is no different from how a WW2 Ford Mark-1 equipped battleship would do gunlaying, and it WORKS, even if other ships are dancing around between the firing ship and it's target. Hell, if it wasn't for the fact that oceans cause ships to have CONSTANT yaw, pitch, and roll, the WW1 era "range clock" and "damasque table" technology would be sufficient.

Blogger Dirk Manly November 08, 2018 1:49 AM  

@18
(part 2)


"Another WTF rule was TacAir making the air to ground strength the defense strength in air to air combat...a loaded F-111 was impossible to kill."

Yes, that does sound retarded. VERY retarded. Air Combat is really difficult to model in a table-top sim with the sole exception being WW1 level of technology. And even then, attempting to model squadron level clashes should really be done with a table for the 2 types of aircraft involved. When it comes to things like the air-battles over Britain and Germany during WW2... there's really no good way to model it at either that tactical level or the operational level. If tactical, the obvious length of real-time for any game turn is about 2 seconds... But then a 2 minute dogfight involving a bomber stream, escorting fighters, and intercepting fighters takes a week or more to play out. And LOTS of paperwork.

The problem is, you can have fighters A, B, C, and D where the expected outputs of matchups is A beats B, B beat C, C beats D, and yet somehow, D beat A.

This is one reason why frontline service lives of various aircraft, even in the same airforce, are so bizarre, instsead of an orderly procession.

A could be designed and enter service before C, and then C is retired from front-line service before A. It really all depends on what what the enemy air force is flying. And what they fly depends on what you fly. P-40 was kept in service in the Far East, facing fast, quick-turning Zeroes (whereas the P-40 was a lead sled) for years after it was retired out of the European North-African Theaters of Operation. A wooden, fabric covered biplane complete with a clutter of whistling wires to hold it all together, and, which looked like it came right out of WW1 was the Royal Navy's primary torpedo bomber all the way until 1944. And then it was replaced by something called the Skua (named after some obscure bird). Neither of those aircraft would have lasted one day in the Pacific. Yet they were perfectly fine for operations in t he Meditteranean, where the airspace was heavily contested by the US/Brits vs Italy/Germany. Go figure.

Air superiority is NOT a transitive operation.
But every game that attempts to reduce aircrafts' tactical combat abilities to 1 or 2 numbers is guaranteed to fail.

Blogger Dirk Manly November 08, 2018 2:35 AM  

The problem with air combat is that there are SO many factors. For example -- what altitude is the combat taking place in .... and how fast are they losing altitude? Who came in with the most fuel? Is it in drop tanks? --- if the fight is between aircraft of the same type, the one with the most fuel is going to be less agile... but if the flight goes on long enough the one with the least fuel is going to have turn tail and run... giving his better-fueled opponent a lot of time being able to work into a tail position, without having to fear being sucked into a scissors maneuver and becoming the hunted rather than the hunter. Which aircraft carries more SECONDS of machine gun/cannon ammunition? How much did they shoot already?
Who is carrying what radar, and what counter-measures (for both radar guided and heat-guided missiles?

Modelling aerial warfare without requiring a computer AND Department of Defense level of detail in your in your software flight simulators.. you MIGHT be able to do some Spanish Civil War stuff.... (still mostly biplanes)... the only thing I can see in WW2 would be Eastern Front night actions... the "Night Witches" were flying aircraft which were flat out obsolete during daylight hours....but their slow speed, and the sound of wind whistling through the struts and wires after they cut their engines for their bombing runs were as terrifying to the German soldiers as the rotor-powered air siren-equipped Stukas were to Germany's opponents.

Personally, I have given up on any map-based air warfare games that aren't tactical and aren't set in the age of biplanes (1910 to about 1935). WW2 carrier games like Flattop or Bismarck being the sole exceptions....primarily, because these games are primarily about ship vs ship and aircraft vs ship combat, and aircraft vs aircraft tend to be a small side-issue where some fudging doesn't significantly change the nature of the game or the outcome.

Blogger Dirk Manly November 08, 2018 2:36 AM  


If you really want to play aerial warfare sims, I suggest ACES HIGH (with or without the BLUE MAX expansion) and/or the rules/scales/stats-compatible AMERICAN ACES (which also includes some scenarios from the Russo-Polish War of 1920, when Lenin was trying to invade Central Europe via Poland) [All designed by Jim Hind].

They're simultaneous movement, but multi-phase (aircraft deemed to have more combat-savvy pilots can hold back on some of their movement plot...the more savvy, the later they have before having to complete their entire movement plot).... but ONLY if they have sighted enemy aircraft.

Both sides enter every game having not sighted the other... and so have to plot 3 turns ahead of the current turn. As soon as a formation sights an enemy aircraft of formation, the whole formation can react. This allows for a very realistic recreation of being to "bounce" your opponent -- catching him unaware, maneuvering up-sun and diving out of the sun with guns blazing. And if your protective fighters spots the enemy interceptors before your lumbering photo-recon or bomber crew does, then that photo-recon or bomber crew has to just keep chugging along like nothing's wrong, plotting 3 turns ahead, because WW1 aircraft didn't have voice radios. So, your fighters can try to do something about that nasty enemy flight that's just turned towards that lumbering 2-seater, but they have no ability to spur it into evasive action... That crew has either got to spot them themselves... or they'll wake up when they hear the muzzle reports of guns firing in their direction....

Plays relatively quickly. Scenario sizes are realistic for the time (6 aircraft on each side would be unusual for most of the war... most engagements, from the books I've read by the pilots who flew in that war, involved less than a handful of aircraft...TOTAL. Formations of 4 fighters were considered large throughout most of the war.

anything smaller than 10+ aircraft on each side was the exception rather than the rule in WW2. Most combat actions involved several squadrons simultaneously. Photo recce aircraft rarely got tangled with, because they were usually the fastest model of fighter available in theater, stripped of guns and anything else that might slow them down, including all armor for both pilot and fuel tanks, so that any combat-ready enemy fighter couldn't keep up with them even if they tried.

Blogger Dirk Manly November 08, 2018 2:48 AM  

@19

"The problem was that it let the player move at full throttle while spotting and shooting as if parked, in very complex terrain.

NATO tankers--US, German, and Canadian--that I talked to said reality didn't work like that in Western Europe."

The M-1 is a completely different beast.
It was designed FOR a war in Western Europe. NATO went around upgrading bridges all over the place so that the existing road network's bridges could carry it across water obstacles and similar things.

Watch one on a fire-while-maneuvering table... flying down a trail that would bog a humvee almost immediately, and hitting targets at over 1000 yards. The gun control system on the M-1 is just this side of magic. Gyroscopic inputs to the fire control computer keep that gun trained on the target like you wouldn't believe.

Blogger Dirk Manly November 08, 2018 2:55 AM  

And like a said, the M-1 is so capable, that the Russians have a tank that is SPECIFICALLY designed to defeat the M-1's fire control system with on-board countermeasures... just so that it can survive long enough to get a shot off.

Blogger Dirk Manly November 08, 2018 2:59 AM  

The primary counter-measure is a "radar dazzler" which is supposed to confuse the fire control laser rangefinder. I'm sure there's more that they haven't told ANYBODY about. (Just like they kept the T-34 a secret). I think their reason for revealing the laser dazzler was to prevent ANY U.S. Generals from even considering advising a U.S. President that they have the absolute ability to plow through formations of this tank the same way the M-1 plows through all Russian-made tanks before this one. Which is good. It prevents something stupid, like sending US armor to face off with Russian armor in Syria.

Blogger Ken Prescott November 08, 2018 5:58 AM  

@22 "Tanks generally don't operate INSIDE cities -- and if they do, they don't travel any faster than the infantry on foot that's protecting them. Any driver who hangs up his tank's gun on a building because he decided to stray too close is gonna get chewed out by the tank's commanding NCO."

First, in Western Europe, the term "urban combat" would be pretty close to a redundancy. Second, that's the point: a good chunk of the tank commander's time and situational awareness would be spent keeping the tank from smacking obstacles or snagging the main gun because the driver simply can't see well enough, and that equates to not being able to spot targets that quickly while racing along at 60 MPH on a logging road or through a village. And when I look at Armata, I see that problem cropping up with a vengeance because the tank commander's field of view isn't that much better than the driver's.

The MBT rules got too focused on the weapon side of the man-weapons system; GDW's Assault struck a better balance, according to guys who'd been there and done that in or in company with the Abrams.

@26

"Watch one on a fire-while-maneuvering table... flying down a trail that would bog a humvee almost immediately, and hitting targets at over 1000 yards. The gun control system on the M-1 is just this side of magic. Gyroscopic inputs to the fire control computer keep that gun trained on the target like you wouldn't believe."

Key words: fire-while-maneuvering table--an exercise. Fewer unknowns, and less dire consequences for getting it wrong. MBT plays like an exercise, Assault plays like a war.

Blogger Ken Prescott November 08, 2018 6:13 AM  

Another WTF, this time for overall system: SPI's Sixth Fleet. Used a Napoleon at Waterloo retreat-based CRT to model late-20th-century naval combat. No scouting/detection, no ranged combat even though hexes were only 60 miles across and some ships had missiles that could reach out 4-5 hexes. Dunnigan's designer notes stated his belief that a ship's captain would give a little ground (well, water) rather than risk losing his ship.

Blogger Dirk Manly November 08, 2018 8:07 AM  

SPI's "a new game every 30 days" production pace (due to introducing a new game, complete with map and pieces in each issue of Strategy & Tactics) made them do some really dumb things due to cutting corners and rushing.

On the other hand, the SPI guys who were collected up by Avalon Hill and formed into "Victory Games" did some truly outstanding work once they were taken off of the treadmill and allowed to do things right.

Blogger Dirk Manly November 08, 2018 8:08 AM  

Something tells me that Dunnagin never read much naval history by actual participants. Captains rarely OPEN the range unless the other ship has bigger guns and is slower, OR they're already taking on a serious amount of water.

Blogger Dirk Manly November 08, 2018 8:14 AM  

The exception being destroyers launching torps at cruisers and battleships, and cruisers launching torpedoes at battleships, followed by an IMMEDIATE turn away from their larger, better-armed targets, and hoping to get out of range before getting hit. And for a destroyer, one hit from a cruiser or battleship main gun is an instant sinking. An armored piercing shell will go all way through a soft-steel, unarmored destroyer without even exploiding... just leaving a HUGE hole below the water line that can't be sealed off quickly enough -- because so many bulkheads get destroyed inside the tin can before the AP shell exits. And if it's a GP shell, 500-1000 pounds of naval high explosive just disintegrates a tin can instantly.

Blogger Ken Prescott November 08, 2018 8:56 AM  

No, seriously, Sixth Fleet has ships and subs retreating--aircraft can't retreat. Also, ships can kill aircraft just by projecting a ZOC that they can't fly through on their RTB turn and pushing them past bingo.

All this in 1975, with antiship missiles in the mix. No, I don't get it.

Blogger Haxo Angmark November 08, 2018 4:24 PM  

@13, Dirk: nice trick question re who sunk what at Midway.

but you might as well get the facts straight:

Yorktown was attacked by Jap divebombers launched by IJN Hiryu during the early afternoon of 4 June; took 3 bomb hits, boilers out, briefly dead in the water, but excellent damage control soon put out fires and restored 17 knot speed. Shortly thereafter, a handful of Hiryu torpedo planes attacked and got 2 hits. Yorktown nearly capsized, then went dead in the water again. Ship was abandoned in apparently sinking sinking condition, but stayed afloat through June 5th and, by the following morning, had apparently stabilized. AM of 6 June, Nimitz ordered up a destroyer screen, one of which pulled alongside and began putting a repair crew back on board, and a fleet tug was dispatched from Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, an expertly-commanded Jap submarine penetrated the screen, blew the attending destroyer in half, and put two more torpedoes into the amazing Yorktown. Shortly thereafter she rolled over and sank.

so, ultimately, Yorktown was no more sunk by Japanese aircraft than the 4 Jap carriers were "sunk" by American dive-bombers.

but they were certainly turned into burned-out, useless wrecks by same.

Blogger Dirk Manly November 09, 2018 1:02 AM  

I agree with you about 6th Fleet using land-based mechanics for an air-naval game is retarded. It's a reflection of the insane production schedule that SPI was keeping. It's obvious that a deadline in the publishing cycle came up, and they didn't have an appropriate combat mechanic developed, and so they just tacked on a land-based model, and that's what got sent to the printer's shop.

Regarding Midway.

The point is, the US Navy didn't scuttle any ships at Midway -- they NEVER gave up on Yorktown as long as they could pump water out of her faster than the water was coming in; in contrast, the Japanese scuttled 4 of their 5 largest carriers because the alternative was to leave them drifting at sea, on fire from stem to stern, with no other Japanese ships to guard them, and therefore, to be captured once the USN could put hawsers on them.

The root of this is the Japanese Navy's decision to make Damage Control a separate MOS, and other Japanese sailors were never taught such skills.
The only men who had been taught damage control and fire-fighting were an extremely small contingent because, having no other skills, they were considered as little more than extra mouths to feed. And when damage came, they were blocked, by spreading fire and damaged passageways, from ever getting close to the locations where they could have actually performed any meaningful damage control.

Blogger Ken Prescott November 09, 2018 9:01 AM  

The US Navy has two unofficial religions, damage control and firefighting.

I was a Marine with VMFA-451 for the Coral Sea's final deployment, and I attended firefighting school as part of the workup. The instructors told me to be aggressive.

After the first major evolution: "Corporal, when we said ''' aggressive,' we didn't mean 'walk right into the middle of the damn fire!'"

My response: "I couldn't see the fire before that."

Blogger Dirk Manly November 09, 2018 3:14 PM  

And that's one of the differences between the WW2 cultures of the US Navy and Japanese Navy that I want to expose as a factor in WW2 Pacific naval warfare games.

Blogger Dirk Manly November 09, 2018 3:21 PM  

I wonder if part of Japan's negligence with regard to damage control and firefighting was due to never having a blue water navy until AFTER the age of wooden warships had passed.

Japan's naval experience before the Sino-Japanese war of the 1870's were a couple of brief skirmishes with mainland Asia, and in those actions, seem to have been similar to Drake's navy when he defeated the Spanish Armada -- composed of commercial and pirate ships recruited for the cause, rather than a standing navy with permanent recognition by the Japanese leadership as an arm of the military.

Blogger Haxo Angmark November 09, 2018 4:33 PM  

@39: I think it was more a matter of Bushido/Samurai culture.

that is, absolute emphasis on attack, very little on defense; and damage control is defensive. Same reason why Jap military aircraft had excellent range, speed, weapons...but no armor or self-sealing gas tanks, and so burned like torches when hit.

Blogger Dirk Manly November 09, 2018 11:57 PM  

Certainly ended the war a lot sooner, and saved a lot of Japanese lives (longer wars mean more military deaths, even for the loser)

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