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Advice needed: Historical military factors

This is a discussion on Advice needed: Historical military factors within the Military Strategy and Tactics forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; I'm trying to design a little mini-wargame for use within a tabletop RPG. While I know a little bit, I'm ...


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Old April 6th, 2007   #1
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Advice needed: Historical military factors

I'm trying to design a little mini-wargame for use within a tabletop RPG. While I know a little bit, I'm certainly no military historian. I'm good at wargames, and that's about as far as it goes. What I need some advice on are the important factors that go into deciding the outcome of a military conflict at the level of individual battles. I'm not sure what the term is for this, but I need to design rules that allow the representation of battles that, put together, decide the outcome of a war. At the same time, if possible, I'd love to be able to scale it down to use with smaller numbers.

That said, I'm looking for three or four total factors to work with. I know that there's no way to realistically boil a military conflict down to three factors plus a randomizer, but that's what I need to do for the purposes of this mini-game. So I'm looking for some input on the factors that I should consider and the relative importance of them to the outcome of individual conflicts that will, together, decide the outcome of a war.

Logistics, important as it may be, I think would be best handled by the use of general modifiers because getting into that level of detail would not work well in this game. Also, I'd like to keep strategic and tactical representation as a single factor and forec strength as a single factor.

What immediately springs to my mind is, equal parts of:

1. Strength/ability of forces (including numbers, training, prowess, mobility, etc).
2. Strategic and tactical expertise (representating the entire brains of the operations).

and maybe (though it might be best as an external modifier, like logistics)

3. Terrain (A little redundant with strategy, I know, but it serves as an extrenal modifier, which is hard to resist.

What do you think? Any ideas?

I welcome all responses, but I ask one very important favor: please identify your perspective in your posts! If you're response represents some measure of actual study of military history, then please let me know. Conversely, if something just sounds cool to you, point that out as well. Both types of responses are important, but I think it would be best if they were identified.

Thanks!
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Old April 6th, 2007   #2
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Read the story of Thermopylae?

1. Training
2. Morale
3. Tactics
4. Equipment
5. Use of terrain

However, all the the above needs to be supported by a logistical system. Without proper logistics, you can win every battle but still lose the war.
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Old April 21st, 2007   #3
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The example of Thermoplae, while showing that geographical features are often a key advantage, only indicates that like most modern warfare, each battle is a stepping stone, not the start & finish of a war.

If you take major geographical features out of a battle, your left with 3 factors : technique/training, strength in numbers of forces & tools equipment used.

History is full of decisive battles where one of the above 3 factors has been dominant, helping win a victory for the home side, against the invader.

Classic examples of technique & training go all the way thru history, especially to the example left by the Roman Empire & the use of the short sword, attacking the man to your left/right, rather than the man directly ahead, the use of the "tortoise" shield layout, etc.

Some of these techniques are still used today all over the world, especially in Urban / hand to hand combat with large crowds, where Riot Police use batton charges & the Use of the "Tortoise" shield layout

Strength in numbers shouldn't always be counted as an advantage, but it can be made to work, when used in conjunction with the techniques/training.

Finally, tools & technology, can always allow a much smaller force to ovecome monstrous odds, with a classic example being the Zulu wars / the battle at Rourke's Drift, with the British forces being out numbered, 150 to Approx 4000. (over 20 - 1).

...then again, am I just stating the obvious & copying others ?

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Old April 23rd, 2007   #4
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You only need these points to succeed in a miltary RPG.
1. Tactics
2. Large Number of Troops
3. Territory Adaptation
4. And Equipment
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Old April 27th, 2007   #5
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Originally Posted by Sgt.Banes View Post
You only need these points to succeed in a miltary RPG.
1. Tactics
2. Large Number of Troops
3. Territory Adaptation
4. And Equipment
I disagree with point 2. Replace it with technology and I would agree totally though.
1967 '6 day war.' Israel was completely out numbered, but they had the air support they needed to defeat three other nations and capture territory to create a military buffer zone or 'speed bump.'
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Old April 27th, 2007   #6
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The three numbers you are likey to find printed on the counters are attck power, defensive strength and mobility.
In other variants, there are four, and the fourth one repersnts skill and morale, also known as Carde value.

It would help a lot to know what Technology Level you are deanling with.
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Old April 28th, 2007   #7
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Sid Meir's Civilization type games likewise use 3 factors, attack, defence, mobility. It worked well because it easily accomodated units ranging from cavemen to carriers.
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Old April 28th, 2007   #8
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Well, that's the ultimate in simplicity, as is usualy the case with computer games, sadly enough. The social element seems to have left Wargaming, dam it.

There are other factirs as well, such as step losses that simulate losses, so that elimination or retreat are not the only results of a loss.

I also do not like Zones of Control, it leads to unrealistic problems. The idea of a tank battalion having to interupt thier advance due to the persence of a mortar battery right next to thier line of advance is a little silly.
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Old May 10th, 2007   #9
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MOOSE MUSS...is this US acronym still in use? Haven't heard the term in many years...but I am out of the loop.

Nine Principles of War...still US doctrine? I believe so...but possibly in a revised form.

Any wargame that does not require the applications of these principles would be lacking? I believe that each principle warrants consideration...more so if large scale wargames are the application???

There are many online links reference the Nine Principiles of War...one is a more recent Naval War College (US) report entitled How Did General Schwarzkopf Apply the Nine Principles of War?

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Old May 11th, 2007   #10
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