Wargame Thoughts and Commentary

E=MC2 + DF2 Happy


Well, after a month or more of DVD mailings, rule discussions on the Yahoo! Forum, and working on new directions for DFII, I finally realized that January was coming to a close, and I had not posted a blog entry in the month! I am very proud of my record now of 20 months of at least one posting, and most months two or three postings, on rule design, hobby crafting, history, and Repique Rule publication. So here's January's posting, and I hope to post several in February.

Albert Einstein contributed more to Physics than anyone since Newton, and fundamentally changed how science sees and describes the universe, but he failed in attempting his last great life's goal and that was the Unified Field Theory that linked all of his observations about Relativity, Time and electromagnetism into one unified and elegant theory. This unified Theory of Everything (now a movie title about Steven Hawking) has remained the goal of every great physicist and mathematician and has led to many discoveries, new theories of matter and a galaxy of new terms, such as the Higgs-Boson, String Theory, and the pervasive Dark Matter. However, no unified theory has yet been proposed-though the search for it has yielded much new knowledge and inspired modern science.

When it is discovered it will undoubtedly be what scientists and mathematicians call an elegant solution. What is an elegant solution? See: http://www.quora.com/What-makes-a-mathematical-proof-elegant


This search for some elegance is one of the central things I was seeking in the design of Die Fighting and Die Fighting II. I attempted to do this by unifying procedures and concepts throughout the game. It was the source of making ALL procedures, whether movement, fire combat, melee combat, and to a great degree rally all use the same process centered on the Free Dice Table to decide outcomes. It allows all the variables for actions to be placed on a single page table that uses a common cross-referencing of added dice or re-rolls vs. specific factors that influence that given action, whether moving, being the attacker or defender, or attempting to rally. Unlike many games which propose a different mechanic for moving a unit, and then different mechanics and tables for fire and melee, and yet another for rallies; DFII uses one mechanic and one table.

This concept is extended to the effect of terrain on movement and combat, where a simple common process of simply treating any die rolls of the terrain class or lower as not counting toward the total (No 1s,2s. or 3s count for movement or combat in a Class II wood, for instance). If you know the class of a terrain, then you know exactly how to deal with its effect on moving or any form of combat-no need to check a table or rules. Its always consistent and the same for all processes.

Instead of stipulating a different procedure for a lot of deployment procedures, maneuvers, or certain disrupting activities such as mounting or dismounting mounted units, entering or leaving a structure, voluntary retreats, or interpenetrating a unit, I opted to group them under The Rules of Six, again, a unifying concept that is consistent and easily remembered. No tables, no endless varieties of process, just a simple unifying concept.


All of this works because of an underlying commonality of dice usage for all procedures, which provides the variable outcomes. There are those that will maintain that they can calculate the exact time that events took in battle, and a system such as DFII cannot connect to these "real" times. This I believe may be the MOST unrealistic view on war and battles that can be held. Certainly one finds little support for this in Clausewitz, or in the battle narratives from participants, or from historians from Fortescue to Keegan. If there is one fact about battle that is paramount is that, other than in the broadest ranges, no event was as surely predictable, as certain in duration, or as firmly calculable in result, as many war-games and wargamers seem to want them to be. Nor can the people who follow this conceptual course prove their case, as exceptions, variability, and the unforeseen result, lurk throughout warfare. Far better to simply admit the obvious and deal with it as a firm factor in war-games. DFII does.


This search for consistency, elegance, and unifying processes also forms the basis for the stipulated victory conditions in DFII. They are clearly stated. Have two commands go empty at any time during play and you have been routed! If one command goes empty and remains so at the end of a turn, you have been decisively defeated, and if you disengage by using the Concede card you have suffered a narrow defeat. The last by either point values or in campaigns can allow the player to fight another day and with honor. No quibbling, debates after the game, or equivocal endings. There is even the case of the agreed upon draw that may be set by scenario design by the game master.

My goal is to continue to explore this whole concept of a unified design with consistent and integrated mechanics further with DFII as I play more over time and receive more reports from gamers playing the game elsewhere. The same similar approach in mechanics and rule integration will be pursued in Die Marching, and I hope the two sets together will magnify, extend, and improve the nature and outcome of battles on the table-top. A campaign certainly will make concessions and refusals of battle a more effective strategy and one that most war-games seldom consider. I am also intent on exploring many new ways to deal with rule books and rule writing as I have done with DFII with video and slideshows and topic specific PDFs, replacing the weighty rule book. I promise that I will not incorporate any Einstenian Physics into the rules, nor will I think them more than they are a simple diversion and fun way to play with history.

But, above all, a search for elegance , simplicity, and playability is the best of possible goals. I also recommend rule #10 below,to all gamers learning a new rule set, as well as life: