Lessons for the Next Wargame

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Lessons for the Next Wargame

Postby KillaJules » Fri 9 Oct 2015 03:42

Since Eugen is taking a long break from the Wargame series, I think now is the time to think long and hard about what has worked, what hasn't worked and what directions this series should take in the future. In this post, I'll examine general gameplay, attacking and defending, deck creation, faction design, units and also naval combat. Feedback would be welcome.


1) GENERAL GAMEPLAY
One issue that the Wargame series has had to deal with from the very beginning is map control and the dynamic between attacking and defending. The main issue here is that there has never been a strong enough incentive to attack in Destruction games. Conquest mode rectifies this somewhat, but Destruction is still flawed and is still the default mode. The issue arises from the fact that, although there is an immediate cost to an attack (killed units), there is no immediate benefit to an attack, especially since defenders get a kill ratio advantage (assuming there is no disparity in skill).

To encourage dynamic gameplay, there needs to be an immediate score penalty to pushing the enemy out of a sector and/or a score bonus to capturing an enemy sector. Another possibility is that unit availability could be tied to how many sectors a player holds. This would reduce the cost of capturing sectors held by the enemy and would solve my other concern: In WGRD, gameplay has at times revolved too much around protecting irreplaceable super-units. By having unit availability tied to the number of controlled sectors, a successful attack can compensate for any losses. It would also allow attackers to overwhelm campers, even when said campers get a good kill:death ratio for their units.


2) DECK CREATION
The changes to deck creation in WGRD were controversial and I can understand some of the criticisms. However, the real issues lie elsewhere. Having only 5 slots per category was somewhat restrictive, but if people wanted more in a particular category, they were supposed to make specialized decks. Yet specialized decks have mostly been (even since ALB) gimmicks that enthusiasts can play around with in non-competitive games. Specialized decks are usually so crippled that there is no reason to use them if you want to win. I'm sure someone will be able to tell a story about how they won a competitive game using CAT C USSR marines or something equally ridiculous, but that does not make those decks competitive.

One of the basic tenants of good game design is to encourage players to use as many features as possible in a competitive setting (if applicable). This is a no brainer and yet it has largely been absent from the WG series.

National and coalition decks rendered general decks obsolete and I think that this was a good thing (although some coalition decks had issues of their own). Choosing a deck specialization should not cripple players. Instead, it should only provide bonuses to units within that specialization. For example, a marine deck should only give availability and/or XP bonuses to marine units without making all other units unavailable. This wouldn't destroy the viability of non-specialized decks, but it would encourage people to explore more options. If people want to create authentic decks, that's fine and they will still be able to do that. But this options will remain viable for everyone else.

The other issue with deck creation is the fact that era decks are just a gimmick. When era decks were competitive against non-era decks in ALB, balance suffered and cheese tactics were common. When era decks are not competitive in RD, they got banished to their own matches. Era games could be more popular but there is a barrier to entry: if you want to try a new era, you have to create a new deck.

I propose a simple fix. When adding a unit card to a deck, that card should include not a single unit type, but instead a unit 'family', similar to how it was done back in EE. Each 'unit family' includes at least one early period unit and possibly later period units as well. When you play a late period match, all units are available. However, when you play an era-restricted match, units from later eras would be unavailable.


3) FACTIONS AND UNITS
The poor implementation of China and especially North Korea in WGRD should serve as a lesson for Eugen not to bite off more than they can chew. The disappointment regarding the numerous missing units indicates that Eugen should focus on making factions fully fleshed out, NOT simply adding more half-done factions. Obviously, there is a limit to how many units can be added; the devs have a limited budget. Thus, Eugen needs to prioritize what units will be added. Adding pointless and outdated units like the WWII era South Korean MG truck or interesting but unnecessary prototypes (e.g. Zhalo) should NOT take precedent over giving every faction everything it needs in order to be competitive.


4) NAVAL COMBAT
Unfortunately, naval combat was not a success in RD. If Eugen ever decide to add this feature in future games, it should onyl be under certain conditions:

a) If the game is sent during the late cold war, in the modern era, or at any time when anti-ship guided missiles and CIWS are prominent, then riverboats, fast attact craft, transports, land attack vessels etc. should be the ONLY naval units added. Adding ships and anti-ship units doesn't translate well in this game. There are few, if any tactics, aside from 'blobbing'.

b) If fully-fledged naval combat with destroyers, cruisers etc. is added to the game, it must only be during, just after or before WWII. NO ANTI-SHIP MISSILES. Such a setting would have far better gameplay for many reasons. Combat would have a lot more depth, screening or scouting vessels such as destroyers would not get instantly mobbed and destroyed by aircraft the moment they are seen because unguided bombs and torpedoes are not accurate against small ships. Destroyers would also be able to lay smokescreens to cover retreats or in order to ambush with torpedoes. Instead of 'blobbing', fleet movement would be very important in order to avoid torpedo volleys and plunging naval gunfire. Cruisers and Battleships would have different strengths and weaknesses depending on the distance they are from their target; some ships would be good at long range, use plunging shells to pierce roof armour and be resistant to having their own roof armour penetrated at range. Other ships would have strong side armour and so have an advantage at closer range. Some ships would have lots of AA, others would have little. Some would be huge and easy to hit, others would be smaller. Some would have a tight turning circle in order to better evade torpedoes, some would be less agile, some would be fast or slow, some would have radar, others would not.


tl;dr version:
1) capturing sectors from the enemy needs to compensate a successful attacker.
2) there needs to be an incentive to use specialized decks. Lower the barrier to entry for era games by making different era versions of the same (or similar) unit on the same card.
3) don't add half-a$$ed factions (e.g. North Korea)
4) No ships in a game set after WWII

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Mitchverr
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Re: Lessons for the Next Wargame

Postby Mitchverr » Fri 9 Oct 2015 03:55

For deck creation unit family is interesting, but it also has drawbacks in some cases as to what would be counted as family, what wouldnt, how much space they take etc, for example how in EE some tank families consisted of a few models for 1 point, while others had only 1 tank model in it, thus making it worse overall to pick.


Also a simpler way to fix it would be to improve specialist decks a bit when it comes to specific nations i would say (if possible) for example give motorised a bit more vetting or something along those lines. However this wouldnt help in alot of cases due to the equipment thats on the shelf not being capable of doing, well, anything in fights vs tank meta style combat simply by being to inaccurate or to low armoured or a mix of both. Though some specialist decks simply cant work due to how the nation works and the kit in the game, many can be repaired a bit by buffing specific underperforming units with a mix of modifying the vetting of the specialist deck a bit.
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Re: Lessons for the Next Wargame

Postby MILINTarctrooper » Fri 9 Oct 2015 04:08

Mitchverr wrote:For deck creation unit family is interesting, but it also has drawbacks in some cases as to what would be counted as family, what wouldnt, how much space they take etc, for example how in EE some tank families consisted of a few models for 1 point, while others had only 1 tank model in it, thus making it worse overall to pick.


Also a simpler way to fix it would be to improve specialist decks a bit when it comes to specific nations i would say (if possible) for example give motorised a bit more vetting or something along those lines. However this wouldnt help in alot of cases due to the equipment thats on the shelf not being capable of doing, well, anything in fights vs tank meta style combat simply by being to inaccurate or to low armoured or a mix of both. Though some specialist decks simply cant work due to how the nation works and the kit in the game, many can be repaired a bit by buffing specific underperforming units with a mix of modifying the vetting of the specialist deck a bit.


The family system did help gameplay a "bit" but once you figured out hey..the mid to high tier side of the family was best you usually got those units.
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Re: Lessons for the Next Wargame

Postby KillaJules » Fri 9 Oct 2015 04:20

Mitchverr wrote:For deck creation unit family is interesting, but it also has drawbacks in some cases as to what would be counted as family, what wouldnt, how much space they take etc, for example how in EE some tank families consisted of a few models for 1 point, while others had only 1 tank model in it, thus making it worse overall to pick.

Figuring out what would be counted as a family and what wouldn't could be difficult to work out, I agree. However, in EE the unit families with fewer unit types had higher availability, so they didn't automatically become worse choices.

Mitchverr wrote:Also a simpler way to fix it would be to improve specialist decks a bit when it comes to specific nations i would say (if possible) for example give motorised a bit more vetting or something along those lines. However this wouldnt help in alot of cases due to the equipment thats on the shelf not being capable of doing, well, anything in fights vs tank meta style combat simply by being to inaccurate or to low armoured or a mix of both. Though some specialist decks simply cant work due to how the nation works and the kit in the game, many can be repaired a bit by buffing specific underperforming units with a mix of modifying the vetting of the specialist deck a bit.

As I suggested, spec decks could get bonus vetting. Because there are so many holes in certain spec decks, unit buffs alone can't make them worthwhile. That is why I suggested that spec decks get unrestricted (or nearly unrestricted) unit access with only a few buffs to their theme units. This would allow virtually any spec deck to be viable, instead of helping just a few.


MILINTarctrooper wrote:The family system did help gameplay a "bit" but once you figured out hey..the mid to high tier side of the family was best you usually got those units.

Your point is moot because I wasn't trying to make era-restricted units more competitive against era-unrestricted units. In an era-unrestricted game, you go with whatever is best (which can be, but isn't always the most recent type). My point was that, to lower the barrier of entry and to encourage people to try out era-restricted games, they can jump in with any of their existing decks.

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Re: Lessons for the Next Wargame

Postby Mitchverr » Fri 9 Oct 2015 04:25

KillaJules wrote:That is why I suggested that spec decks get unrestricted (or nearly unrestricted) unit access with only a few buffs to their theme units. This would allow virtually any spec deck to be viable, instead of helping just a few.


The problem here though is that it would make specialist decks automatically a better choice, it also removes flavour and most variation really as people will "specialise" for the 2 fav units and then just bring the minmax of the rest of the deck as usual at best, at worst it would mean a supped up minmax armoured deck all day every day. :lol: (or worse worse arty deck :shock: )
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Re: Lessons for the Next Wargame

Postby frostypooky » Fri 9 Oct 2015 04:36

I almost want to say for Deck Creation, there should be two modes... traditional, and WiC-style tactical role matches with preset selections and limited units. I keep thinking about how I want to make mod where its WiC/CoH style choosing strict roles preset to each nation

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Re: Lessons for the Next Wargame

Postby KillaJules » Fri 9 Oct 2015 04:39

Mitchverr wrote:
The problem here though is that it would make specialist decks automatically a better choice, it also removes flavour and most variation really as people will "specialise" for the 2 fav units and then just bring the minmax of the rest of the deck as usual at best, at worst it would mean a supped up minmax armoured deck all day every day. :lol: (or worse worse arty deck :shock: )


I don't really see an issue with that. Nobody complained when NATO-mixed and non-national REDFOR decks became obsolete during the transition from ALB to RD. The only 'flavour' or variation that the current system offers is worthless anyway because it is so noncompetitive. Seeing varieties of generalized minmaxed decks that sometimes have a marine or armoured bonus etc. is far preferable to seeing only generalised minmaxed decks without any bonuses. IMO, I'd rather see game features actually being used instead of marveling at great deck variety that exists only in the armoury.

Balance is relative. Some people would indeed bring supped up minmaxed armoured decks that would crush anything that we can get now, but that isn't an issue if others are bringing supped up minmaxed marine, motorized, airborne or mechanized decks. People will minmax anyway, my system allows for variety while doing that. Although, I agree that there should definitely not be any 'support' or arty-centric decks.

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Re: Lessons for the Next Wargame

Postby urogard » Fri 9 Oct 2015 10:00

KillaJules wrote:1) GENERAL GAMEPLAY
Spoiler : :
One issue that the Wargame series has had to deal with from the very beginning is map control and the dynamic between attacking and defending. The main issue here is that there has never been a strong enough incentive to attack in Destruction games. Conquest mode rectifies this somewhat, but Destruction is still flawed and is still the default mode. The issue arises from the fact that, although there is an immediate cost to an attack (killed units), there is no immediate benefit to an attack, especially since defenders get a kill ratio advantage (assuming there is no disparity in skill).

To encourage dynamic gameplay, there needs to be an immediate score penalty to pushing the enemy out of a sector and/or a score bonus to capturing an enemy sector. Another possibility is that unit availability could be tied to how many sectors a player holds. This would reduce the cost of capturing sectors held by the enemy and would solve my other concern: In WGRD, gameplay has at times revolved too much around protecting irreplaceable super-units. By having unit availability tied to the number of controlled sectors, a successful attack can compensate for any losses. It would also allow attackers to overwhelm campers, even when said campers get a good kill:death ratio for their units.

Destruction suffers from 2 main issues: attack incentive and total destruction limits

Attack incentive:
You provided a good suggestion, let me provide mine.
Capturing sectors would provide a constant flow of points like how conquest does now except you also receive a considerable bonus (20-25% minutes of the game duration worth of points) for each sector held once the game has ended, so you have an incentive to go after a sector even in the final minutes of a game (if not to capture it yourself, to at least deny it to the opponent).
Victory is calculated in part by sector points and in part by destruction points as is now. If you got twice as many sector points but won it with spam and I have 3 times as many destruction points then I win. Get more sector points with equal destruction points and you win.
Also don't forget that more sectors = more income, so there's a big incentive to cap sectors fast.
Also there would be no cv hunting at end of game since the cv system would be reworked that you don't need to keep a cv there to hold a sector. As long as you have regular units in there it remains capped. It becomes neutral only if they all die or if both players keep a cv in a sector.
The good part about this is that there's basically nothing new from a game mechanics perspective about this mode (sector ownership conditions, sector points gain, victory based on point comparison). Everything is in the game already and would require very little extra code to implement even now.

60 minutes vs No Time Limit
One could argue that NTL is an unnecessary mode, but many people like to play with the objective of complete destruction of an opponent (just like every single rts that has ever existed), the current time limit based objective make that very difficult. Too often have I experienced final pushes not seeing the result because 60 minutes ran out, hence preferring NTL despite the obvious risk. Also from experience 60 minutes is about the time that everyone can consistently continue using arty spam. After 60 minutes those fobs run out and the game becomes suddenly a lot more enjoyable. The NTL creates a problematic risk of causing a 3-4+ hour stalemate game.
There are 2 solutions (either one is fine)
- Decks start refilling after 60 minutes have passed (similar to how you get extra units when someone leaves) with a speed of 1 entire deck refill spread out over 60 minutes. FOBs would also slowly start recovering supplies.
- Allow a 90 minute time limit for lobbies. 90 Minutes is still an acceptable length which I'm sure people are willing to pay for a good game and would be willing to sacrifice the no time limit option for.

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Re: Lessons for the Next Wargame

Postby molnibalage » Fri 9 Oct 2015 11:00

The main issue here is that there has never been a strong enough incentive to attack in Destruction games.

I strongly disagree.

RD is a step back because cluster arty and top tier arty but in ALB was not "hand of God" which could ruined your offensive very quickly even HE rocket arty aimed and launched rocket faster . Morale dmg. it seemed to me higher but HE dmg. by arty is smaller. Combats were longer and many times you had chance to retreat because of generally lower ACC values. Combat in ALB seems to me much more dyamic. RD improved in many areas (LOG chain, AAA became effective, ampi. operations), but in other areas... As I see the recon also worked better in ALB but ALB also had major flaws for ex. min. autocannon dmg. at small range.


Conquest mode rectifies this somewhat, but Destruction is still flawed and is still the default mode. The issue arises from the fact that, although there is an immediate cost to an attack (killed units), there is no immediate benefit to an attack, especially since defenders get a kill ratio advantage (assuming there is no disparity in skill).

I never played with EE but what I read it seems ti me that had the best counq., meant better general abstraction and gameplay wise also better. It would wort to revive in a different way.

In WGRD, gameplay has at times revolved too much around protecting irreplaceable super-units.

If this referes suicidal AGM runs, very low avail super figther, etc. I agree.


The changes to deck creation in WGRD were controversial and I can understand some of the criticisms. However, the real issues lie elsewhere. Having only 5 slots per category was somewhat restrictive, but if people wanted more in a particular category, they were supposed to make specialized decks.

Not only the 5 slot limitation is problemaic but in ALB almost every land units had 3 different XP avail which made possilbe to select between qty. and quality expecailly because of generally lower base ACC and higher veterancy bonus.

Specialized decks are usually so crippled that there is no reason to use them if you want to win. I'm sure someone will be able to tell a story about how they won a competitive game using CAT C USSR marines or something equally ridiculous, but that does not make those decks competitive.

You mixed in your argument and era and you neglect a simple fact. Nobody ever should say that all specialization is viable... Saying that all specialized deck are non comptetivive is simply funny. Can you guess why so popular on some map and lobby conditions motorized/mecha and especially armored decks? (Only a very few player can use airborne deck other than suicidal airspam...)

National and coalition decks rendered general decks obsolete and I think that this was a good thing (although some coalition decks had issues of their own). Choosing a deck specialization should not cripple players. Instead, it should only provide bonuses to units within that specialization. For example, a marine deck should only give availability and/or XP bonuses to marine units without making all other units unavailable. This wouldn't destroy the viability of non-specialized decks, but it would encourage people to explore more options. If people want to create authentic decks, that's fine and they will still be able to do that. But this options will remain viable for everyone else.

If a deck specialization gives only bonuses pls. explain what would be the point of non specialized decks... Non specialized deck would have same AP, same units but with less XP.

The other issue with deck creation is the fact that era decks are just a gimmick. When era decks were competitive against non-era decks in ALB, balance suffered and cheese tactics were common. When era decks are not competitive in RD, they got banished to their own matches. Era games could be more popular but there is a barrier to entry: if you want to try a new era, you have to create a new deck.

In ALB era decks were comptetitive because per card avail bonus and general avail and veterancy bonuses. Even old untis with 60% base ACC were competitive, especially SAM, infantry and ATGM units and elite fighters and you could have a lot.

The plan of era games was not so bad only problem community somehow did not adjusted itself, even many players complaining OP godlike units of A cat games. These player mostly never try B/C cat just keep complaining... 90+ percent of community simply miss about 50% or more content of WG:RD...

4) NAVAL COMBAT
Unfortunately, naval combat was not a success in RD. If Eugen ever decide to add this feature in future games, it should onyl be under certain conditions:

Was not success but within some condition can be fun. I have propsed many times an ASM AP/ship rebalance to make more vulnerable ships by ther units but never was applied. Also ship ECM should be treated speratley from SAM/AAM/AC ECM.
4) No ships in a game set after WWII

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Re: Lessons for the Next Wargame

Postby ikalugin » Fri 9 Oct 2015 11:22

I think that many problems wargame series have is from the diversity creep it offers. This comes in both the diversity of units across factions and timelines, the freedom in deck creation, the creep in scale of the game with addition of aircraft (high end tactical/lower end operational assets) and ships (operational assets) into the game.

In my opinion Eugen could keep it's appeal in diversity and customisation by restructing freedom in how you use it. This in my opinion could be done by restricting users to a number of pre made decks, built around historic OOBs, with a limited choice of atachements.

This would make things easier to balance, would allow both all round good decks that have a balanced mix up of forces in one on one and specialised ones, which would compliment each other in the team game.

It would also be easier on new players, as they would see a balanced deck for what it is.
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