Wednesday, 25 February 2015

"If It Ain't Broke" Scribblings

Analysing Hit Probabilities
Some time ago I was trying to work out a way of having simpler range brackets, by the looks of my jottings here, as well as the possibility of going over to D20 dice. As it happens it became a thinking out loud on paper exercise into deciding I didn't want to change anything after all.

As it stands, I measure the range, go to the combat chart, get the penetration %, adjust the % for the usual reasons, then roll the dice. As you can guess, very few guns are similar enough to group together in such a chart if you look at their stats closely enough but three categories of weapons did fall into line with each other somewhat: small arms; 13.2mm-47mm; & 75mm-150mm.

Don't get me wrong, I am reasonably happy with the eight range brackets I currently use (Point Blank, Close, Short, Intermediate, Medium, Long, Distant & Extreme). The WRG WW2 rules I used to use felt wrong when either side of a certain range gave a vastly different hit probability. I just wanted to see if I could work out a simplification without increasing the probability steps noticeably or bending the penetration data overmuch by using Point-Blank, Short, Medium, Long and Extreme ranges.

Having not quite ironed out very many of the wrinkles in that idea I then wanted to see if I could devise a way of rolling a handful of D6 for however many attackers were firing within these simplified range brackets, getting back to a long-abandoned group suppressing fire concept I toyed with a few years ago. I am sure it has been done in other rule sets.

Imagining that hit probabilities tail off rapidly towards the end of a trajectory's arc and increase alarmingly at point-blank ranges, I surmised that there might be a largish section in the middle where although, percentages are changing, they are more gradual than at the extremes. Not being a ballistics expert, this was going to be something which was merely required to work in a gaming context, not give very silly results and make everything simpler.

Having decided on PB, S, M, L & X range brackets for the three categories of direct firing weapons and that the M bracket was going to be some kind of norm where, in theory, most of the firing would occur, that left the extremities just needing some adjustment factors and eventually some new adjustments for other combat factors (cover, movement, etc).

All well and good but although the possibly easier to remember range brackets might have resulted in slightly less range table checking there was now going to have to be a roll for penetration, something I did not really want. It could never be factored into the one dice roll, not without, off the top of my head, probably a hit chart for every gun.

Quite an enjoyable bit of noodling about with ideas, nevertheless, if only to conclude I like things how they are.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Having a go at World of Tanks

I'd been given the heads up about World of Tanks a few years ago by my brother-in-law who probably assumed I would be in there in a flash as the game is naturally tank-related. I'd watched my son in Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) Player vs Player (PVP) games of Minecraft and as much as I came to enjoy the biggest Lego game on the internet for the building and exploration aspects, getting hyperactive and knocking players out of the game was never really my pint of beer.

Fast forward to 2015 and my son had started playing World of Tanks with a school friend, initially on the PC. Bless him, he had abstained from borrowing my laptop for the best part of a day while the game downloaded so all that was left for me to do was register.

The upside of starting WoT is that the initial tank availability is at the lower end of the power scale and that means at first having to use pre-war tanks or those from the early campaigns. Result! The German start tank is the Leichttraktor, after that you can go down various tech tree routes via the Pz 1, Pz 2, Pz 35t, PzJgr 1 or something I seem to remember resembling the Neubaufahrzeug. The British & French tree starts with the Vickers medium 1 and FT17 respectively. One thing a wargamer has to get his head round is that you have ahistorical combinations of tanks on a battlefield, even Brits vs Brits or Japanese vs French. I think there used to be a historical mode but that got dropped due to player pooling/server issues.

Straight out of the starting blocks, a new player is "destroyed in seconds" (as the say on the TV). Repeatedly so in game upon game. I gather many quit at this point. The controls aren't that complicated but with incoming rounds from unseen opponents it is easy for the beginner to panic or lock up. Either way your tank will be disabled in one or two rounds and destroyed in one or two subsequent hits so there isn't much of a chance to analyse what is happening. "Where's the fun in that?" you may ask.

This is just one problem I have with the game. I understand that it is an arcade style third-person-shooter and not a simulation, so the fact that Pz 1s can dart up and hose your Matilda to oblivion with MG rounds is silly but is just part of the artistic license of the game.

However, this business of being "one-shotted" gets a bit irksome after a while and I used to wonder whether I was forever being pitted against opponents that bought premium gold rounds for real money but it is doubly annoying when one is taken out by one extremely accurate artillery round. (Apparently, even experienced players hate 'arty' where in the higher tier matches it is even more prevalent.) I believe other platforms are somewhat easier to get along with, perhaps only because, for instance in the tablet version, there are no SP artillery as yet, or player-aid mods.

World of Tanks is completely free and many players play for nothing and never buy upgrades, special ammo or restricted tanks for hard currency. It has great graphics, nice gameplay features and if you have good internet, you will be able to install player-aid mods to help your win rate on the PC. And it has A9 Cruisers, FCM36s and CharBs to name a few.

It is very addictive, though. After quitting (for the second time) it took me 3 days for the urge to reinstall to subside and another 3 days to stop going on the WoT forum, so on balance I am glad I have decided it is not the game for me.

It has served its purpose on one level, however. I have been going through Horne's "To Lose A Battle" again, harvesting potential scenarios for games and will do the same with Goutard's "Battle of France" after that.
I have also been figuring out the usage & allocation of StuG3, SiG33/Pz1, PzJgr1 & Bunker Flak units in the campaign, so prepare for more games or modelling photos.

Long live miniatures gaming!