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The Fog of War

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Experimental Designs
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That illusive thing we all enjoy on RTS games for PC to explore the map and keep things interesting to stage ambushes and flanking maneuvers. This is the problem with tabletop games as you can easily see your opponent’s models’ and the positioning making you more of a God-like being instead of an actual commander which is fine but takes away some of that unpredictable nature of warfare.

So I spent some time hashing out some Fog of War mechanics and here is what I have thus far:

In a model’s activation it may move and attack but to attack an enemy model it needs to take a sight test which is a predetermined stat. If it passes a sight test then it can proceed to attack the model. No more of this conveniently moving in to kill a model tucked away in the woods somewhere. If your troops can see them they can shoot them.

My question is will this slow down the game too much?

PaulG
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This is mechanically included

This is mechanically included in attack rolls in most games. If something is behind a wall, you take penalties to hit it. That's all you need, make it so that "sight" is a part of the normal attack.

JackBurton
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With the experience of Lupin

With the experience of Lupin the 3rd under my belt I can tell you that the sight check will definitely not only slow down the game but also create some disputes, if the rules behind are not so clear.

Anyway I think it's not what you are looking for: let me explain... If you are moving a unit toward another unit which, because of a jungle f.e., was not supposed to be seen, you are violating the fog of war principle, and not only because you cannot shoot at it. From this point of view it's better to introduce a simple and fast concept like the one suggested by PaulG.

It's difficult to fully implement a fog of war concept, because, in the worst case, every player should play writing on a notepad his/hers movements and then place his/hers units only if effectively seen by an enemy (considering a 2 players game, with more it's impossible).

I can suggest a workaround: keep the units on the board in their effective positions, but don't show their power (i.e. number and type of unit). This way you can keep the thing simple and create a realistic fog of war (which, in a real battle, represents "the uncertainty in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations", from Wikipedia).

Stormyknight1976
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Grey hex tiles?

How about grey tiles to simulate fog? Players place a grey tile for fog rolling through the battlefield? Fog hex tiles can be measured by feet of one tile and so forth?

James Rex
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Stratego, guys! Just do it

Stratego, guys! Just do it that way. Do this:

1. Give players X tokens marked 1-X. Have players put their units in "pools" marked 1-X.
a. Hide the pools or something if you feel it's really necessary.
b. Give players more than enough tokens to allow for "empty" tokens for bluffs.
2. Let players move the 'tokens' equal to the move of the slowest guy in the army.
a. Design space for "bonus" speed for tokens.
b. Scout units (low stats except moving) could just be revealed right away and have a faster move.
c. Rewards players excluding low movement guys, so give them a bonus.
3. If an enemy gets Line of Sight, reveal the token, then put the guys in the pool as close as possible to that marker.

questccg
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Hidden information

Basically what you are talking about is a *form* of *hidden information*.

In my current endeavor, I am using cards with 3 colors per card. These colors are on the *backside* of cards. What happens is that a player can speculate as to which unit is behind the card:

-The opposing player knows there is a unit.
-He also knows it is one of three colors.

What he does not know is what color the unit is. In my game this is important because there are bonuses or penalties using a RPS-5. So a color beats 2 other colors and is beaten by 2 colors. Correctly predicting which color you will face has a bonus.

There are obviously other cards that can alter the odds, change the outcome of a battle and so forth...

Experimental Designs
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JackBurton wrote:With the

JackBurton wrote:
With the experience of Lupin the 3rd under my belt I can tell you that the sight check will definitely not only slow down the game but also create some disputes, if the rules behind are not so clear.

Anyway I think it's not what you are looking for: let me explain... If you are moving a unit toward another unit which, because of a jungle f.e., was not supposed to be seen, you are violating the fog of war principle, and not only because you cannot shoot at it. From this point of view it's better to introduce a simple and fast concept like the one suggested by PaulG.

It's difficult to fully implement a fog of war concept, because, in the worst case, every player should play writing on a notepad his/hers movements and then place his/hers units only if effectively seen by an enemy (considering a 2 players game, with more it's impossible).

I can suggest a workaround: keep the units on the board in their effective positions, but don't show their power (i.e. number and type of unit). This way you can keep the thing simple and create a realistic fog of war (which, in a real battle, represents "the uncertainty in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations", from Wikipedia).

You and Paul make a good case and as well as any of you that replied thus far but you have the wrong idea that I’ve made it more complex than it actually is. It’s not.

Allow me to clarify and elaborate because I’ll admit I was very broad and vague on my first post and I do apologize.

Everyone deploys their models on the table like any other tabletop game. The only exception you cannot pick anything and everything that you see as a target on the table meaning you cannot have your artillery omnipotently hurling shells conveniently across the table! You must, during your model’s activation or a special ability during the command phase, check if enemy models you want to attack has been spotted. If you cannot spot an enemy model you can’t do anything towards it. Each model has its own threshold on situational awareness. Depending how good or how bad you roll this threshold your forces will take the initiative to kill the enemy or maybe they overlooked your opponent and his forces can jump you! This is all dictated by 2D6. In this game you have less direct control of your models unlike games like 40k, Warmachine and Dust.

This threshold also dictates how well your models perform in the engagement. Rolling high you’ll get bonuses towards shooting. Rolling poorly your models are likely to perform poorly in combat giving your opponent the initiative to counter attack.

As this happens to keep track which models have been sighted I have tokens designed. In this case if your squad has indeed spotted the enemy but botched the shooting action, maybe due to obscurity or maybe your squad was a bit twitchy and rushed their shots the opposing squad has the chance to get away. If the enemy squad decides to run for cover your opponent can remove the sighted token off them and you have to find them again. This happens if tanks are threatened by anti-armor assets they might pop a smoke screen and backpedal to increase their chances to get out of dodge.

This encourages people to use recon assets such as drones, scouts or if you’re lucky with the command phase you get an intelligence boom to know exactly where a squad is. All this is determined by a pair of dice. In some recent play testing it made for some really interesting cat and mouse mini-games.

I am still testing cards to mix things up even more but I'm taking one thing at a time for stability purposes.

pelle
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some solutions

Fog of war (FOW) is a very interesting problem in (war)games, and I have seen several solutions.

0: No FOW. What the OP describes seems like Line of Sight (LOS), used in every tactical game I have ever played (maybe some simplistic miniatures games do without it?). It does not solve the problems of FOW, because the player can still see all enemy units and make plans knowing where they are. There are never any real ambushes or surprises, you can't feint much. Because all solutions to FOW adds some complexity and playing time this is unfortunately what most games do anyway.

1: Blinds. This is what was suggested by others above. I think the common term for using small pieces of paper or empty bases on a miniatures table for FOW is "blinds". You print some type of unit or unit name (or "dummy") on the unseen side of each blind, and then move them like normal units until they are detected (rules for that vary, but a quick googling for miniatures game rules with blinds should provide some examples).

2: Umpire. This is the only other solution I know of that works with a free-movement game. You have two identical copies of the game set up ("double blind") and an umpire keeps the two synchronized and tells each player when new enemy units are visible. This solution has been known at least since the first Kriegsspiel in the 1820's. Alternatively you have only one game set up, and the umpire is responsible for removing units before each player turn so each player only see what he should see (makes the game even more time-consuming).

3: Flipped units and armies. Saw this in a few board games (Great War at Sea, the S&T Franco-Prussian War). Units (cardboard counters) on the map are moved with backside up, hiding what they are. Some "units" are "armies" (or "fleets" in that naval game) and you have an off-map hidden display where you put all units in that army. So when a unit enters combat with the enemy and is flipped over, it could turn out to be a weak cavalry screen unit or it could be a huge stack of artillery-supported corps. In GWAS you don't know if an enemy fleet marker is a single destroyer or half of the enemy fleet until you detect it.

4: Blocks. I guess block games deserves a mention (Hammer of the Scots, EastFront, Wizard Kings, etc). The enemy only see the back of the blocks, not what type of unit it is or how many (1-4) steps it has remaining. I guess you could have dummies as well, but I have not played a block game that included dummies.

5: Identical maps, no umpire. There are a few board games that comes with two identical game boards (sorry, forgot the names). You see only your own map with your own units, but you have special markers to place to keep track of where there might be enemy units, and players have to call out when entering some hexes (those that might contain enemy units) to know if there is contact (but of course no need to say WHAT you are moving into that hex. I have seen two variations of this:

5a: You keep track of the front between you and the enemy, so on your map you have a line (or lines) of markers representing the enemy front line, and the other player has a corresponding front for your front. As long as you move on your side of the front you do not need to tell the other player, but when you move into an enemy front area you have to tell your opponent and he will let you know if he had some units there or not. In some games you can probe with recon units into enemy areas to see what is there without getting drawn into a bigger battle.

5b:In a American Civil War game (http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/4276/across-the-potomac) there is a line drawn on the map showing what parts are the "home country" of each player. Every time you move into a hex on the enemy side of the line you need to tell the other player what hex it is, so on your own copy of the map you can move markers that represent where enemy units are on your side of the line. This way players will know when two armies come into contact (but you do not know what is in an enemy unit until you attack it). Saw this game for the first game this last weekend and thought it was a really clever trick, but perhaps only makes sense for operational level games, not tactical games. The rationale is that the local population will keep you informed of enemy armies moving on your side of the border.

6: I saw on some forum a while ago a description of some kind of mechanical device that was used to track in what areas of a map each player had units. You pushed some sticks or something into holes in the device and players would notice if they ended up with units in the same area. I think it was used for some kind of naval miniatures game? I'm sure you could make a similar device either in hardware or as an app for a smart phone.

Of course the solutions that only works for area/hex games could be used for free-movement as well if you can divide the table into some kind of areas that are used only for FOW.

RGaffney
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This is an interesting

This is an interesting topic.

Honestly, I always thought it was a pretty unrealistic element of PC games. it adds a nice strategic element, but seriously starcraft, in what real life situation would a tank be close enough to shoot me, but far enough that I cannot see it?

To me the realism of fog of war comes not from my inability to see or hit all of the troops I'm in battle with, but in my inability to see my opponent's home base and such.

What about multiple maps?

If I'm in a post apocalyptic United States and you and I are fighting in texas, then we can both see all of one another's troops in Texas. maybe we also each have some units in Oklahoma so we see all of that. What I don't see is your base in New England, and you know I'm in Louisiana, but you haven't gotten to look at that map in a a half hour since I killed the spy you sent there. and you definitely don't see me coming up and over through Kansas, Colorado, and down into New Mexico to flank your texan troops from the west.

...this would of course require quite a lot of table space, and make for a very expensive game indeed.

...or lots of expansion packs (ca ching!)

pelle
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RGaffney wrote: Honestly, I

RGaffney wrote:

Honestly, I always thought it was a pretty unrealistic element of PC games.

Actually I think some games do a quite good job at it, or is there anything in particular you think is bad about how for instance Combat Mission or the Command Ops games handle FOW? I think even simpler games like Panzer General often does a good enough job at hiding enemy units that are too far away, and I have no big problems with the way completely ahistoric (eg RTS) games implement it even.

Quote:
it adds a nice strategic element, but seriously starcraft, in what real life situation would a tank be close enough to shoot me, but far enough that I cannot see it?

Depends on the terrain of course. In theoretical flat clear terrain it would be weird, but if there are depressions or hills or trees or buildings somewhere to hide a tank it makes sense. What is unrealistic in many games is that terrain is too open. Of course scale and RTS games is not worth discussing. All RTS games deliberately mix different scales in ways that make no sense (but I enjoy them anyway) just like many miniatures games do (eg the "logarithmic scale" they made up for games like Flames of War so they could mix artillery and aircraft and infantry in the same game, even if the scales do not make any sense at all). RTS games have tactical units and tactical weapons ranges, but probably want to keep the FOW on a strategic scale.

Quote:
To me the realism of fog of war comes not from my inability to see or hit all of the troops I'm in battle with, but in my inability to see my opponent's home base and such.

Not seeing where the enemy is, or knowing the enemy is there but not what he has, is the norm in the real world and very important for what happened in historical conflicts.

Quote:
If I'm in a post apocalyptic United States and you and I are fighting in texas, then we can both see all of one another's troops in Texas.

This depends on the scale of the game and what time period we are speaking about. ACW-era armies (19th century) (or earlier; and I guess post-apocalyptic settings would be similar, with not much air recon) could easily move around in Texas for a long time without finding each other, or only have a vague idea about the location and size of enemy forces. Read up a bit about any big war pre-1900 and you will see a lot of that. Cavalry screens around each army might do a bit of skirmishing, but often with one or both sides not being sure about the enemy main force. The Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) has many excellent examples of where, in particular French, generals are completely in the dark and suddenly their army run into an enemy army and some of the (until then) biggest battles in history happened as a big surprise to them ("ooops, there was 100000 Prussians here"). The Prussian-Austrain war in 1866 is famous for how Moltke sneaked up an entire army hidden right up to the waiting Austrians and defeated them. In 1914 when the British expeditionary force first ran into the German army both were surprised and did not expect the encounter (known as the Battle of Mons). The two French and two German armies meeting in the Ardennes in 1914 was also a bit confused and did not instantly figure out where or what the enemy was, and that is a much smaller area than Texas. Even if you have air recon, modern armies are quite good at hiding and there are many exampels of undetected large enemy units in modern wars as well.

Quote:
maybe we also each have some units in Oklahoma so we see all of that. What I don't see is your base in New England, and you know I'm in Louisiana, but you haven't gotten to look at that map in a a half hour since I killed the spy you sent there. and you definitely don't see me coming up and over through Kansas, Colorado, and down into New Mexico to flank your texan troops from the west.

Your scale is way off. Maybe in a RTS with distorted scales this makes some sense, but in reality you could look on a real map how much space an army use and compare that to the size of land. Think needles in heystacks. But needles that are actively trying to hide and that try to feint and send out decoys to make you think they are somewhere else. :)

RGaffney
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Yes the scale I used in the

Yes the scale I used in the example is not true to life for infantry battles. I just wanted to use a geographical frame of reference that we would all be familiar with. We could just as easily apply that principal to quadrants of the field at Gettysburg, or city blocks, but Ya'll wouldn't understand what I'm talking about if I suggested things on that scale.

For example purposes, suppose the Post-Apoc troops have recon balloons, but primitive camouflage, and undisciplined troops. (and if you really want to push it, they are all giants who glow in the dark)

Re: examples of it done badly. I'm not even sure what a Combat Mission or Combat Ops game is. I'm familiar with FOW mainly from RTS, TBS, and FPS games.

And I don't care if a tank is behind a tree on a hill I'm still going to see it better than it sees me

Experimental Designs
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The aim wasn't for super

The aim wasn't for super realism and it seems that I've gotten myself into a real kettle of fish with this one.

Some of you make very good examples and some have a made a mountain out of a mole hill. I guess I shouldn't use the term fog of war perhaps a mechanic of sight would have been more accurate. The scale of this game is the same as Flames of War. Company based with 1:100th scale miniatures so that whole scale about Texas, New Mexico and New England and what not was blowing it way out of proportion.

I am in the middle of testing some game cards and tokens to play ambushes and other surprises and some of you have implied using some very complicated things such as two sided blocks or two maps of the same battlefield and having a third person to act as an umpire. My head started to hurt.

What maybe achieved is a delicant balance between simplicity and detial instead of going full blown realism that'll turn a 2 hour game into a 12 hour game. Twilight Imperium can be played in a day for crying out loud!

pelle
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Sorry I made it sound more

Sorry I made it sound more complicated than it has to be (some complicated methods were mentioned for completeness, not because I think they would be good to use). It can't hurt to have some knowledge of existing solutions (if actual fog of war had been the goal).

Just found a (short) geeklist on double-blind games (but of course many, many other games implement simpler (less dense) fog of war):
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/1483/double-blind-land-warfare-wargames

I'm tempted to design something like that. Seems like very few games have done it, and none very recently.

john smith
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Fog of War is an experience

Fog of War is an experience all its own. It is pined for and debated about often. Some whom have played games on the BGG list liked the experience enough to be full time consumers of this type of idea, and thusly are willing to tackle a bit more "complexity' in the product. Most others like the idea of FOW, but would not want to regularly make that investment.

That's why you see Double-Blind done more in convention settings. They have equipment and staff on hand to facilitate it. In fact, at the time of the OP of this thread there was a Dutch (or Belgian I.C.R.W) company that ran large scale games with FOW for a business.

jedite1000
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I have no idea how this would

I have no idea how this would work and its probably a stupid idea but you could maybe have a seperate deck of cards, if your unit enters a fog of war that player draws a card from the fog of war deck, they have a look at it and the card has some kind of arrows or something and you choose which arrow to use which is the direction your unit will move, then place the card facedown next to ur unit or something, each turn you can keep drawing from the fog deck and place the cards near your unit, after a few cards you exit the fog of war and your opponent can then check your fog cards and can determine how many spaces you have moved, the cards are there just to check if you are cheating or not, and the number of cards your unit has will determine how many spaces you have moved

Daggaz
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JackBurton wrote:I can

JackBurton wrote:
I can suggest a workaround: keep the units on the board in their effective positions, but don't show their power (i.e. number and type of unit). This way you can keep the thing simple and create a realistic fog of war (which, in a real battle, represents "the uncertainty in situational awareness experienced by participants in military operations", from Wikipedia).

This is what I did in my game. It's ok, but if you have movement costs it can expose your power when you pay them, and once you have fielded your army in battle a good player can remember what units survive, so you need a way to bolster your numbers on later turns that other players cannot detect.

john smith
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I'd be interested to se the

I'd be interested to see the responses.

Please think on, why were counters ever chosen to start with?

Daggaz
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In my game? You have to

In my game? You have to fight to win. If you let an enemy group waltz into your territory unmatched, you will lose.

john smith
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Chosen for wargamng in

Chosen for wargamng in general to be clear.

X3M
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RGaffney wrote:This is an

RGaffney wrote:
This is an interesting topic.

Honestly, I always thought it was a pretty unrealistic element of PC games. it adds a nice strategic element, but seriously starcraft, in what real life situation would a tank be close enough to shoot me, but far enough that I cannot see it?

5 year old post. But still.

The siege tank in siege mode is an artillery unit. It can shoot from very far away, and needs vision support to see enough for its own range.

***

As how I see a fair variant for FOW in war games.
Anything that can be hidden, should be hidden. Although, the hidden objects should only have a function when shown.

Cards are good solutions.

But a Stratego variant of a game is also an option. Given that all pieces are roughly worth the same in general.

FrankM
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Fog of war about the fog of war

X3M wrote:
RGaffney wrote:
This is an interesting topic.

Honestly, I always thought it was a pretty unrealistic element of PC games. it adds a nice strategic element, but seriously starcraft, in what real life situation would a tank be close enough to shoot me, but far enough that I cannot see it?

5 year old post. But still.

The siege tank in siege mode is an artillery unit. It can shoot from very far away, and needs vision support to see enough for its own range.

***

As how I see a fair variant for FOW in war games.
Anything that can be hidden, should be hidden. Although, the hidden objects should only have a function when shown.

Cards are good solutions.

But a Stratego variant of a game is also an option. Given that all pieces are roughly worth the same in general.

You probably didn't notice, but that post was in a fog-of-war space. It's likely that RGaffney had moved on before your shot reached the last known location.

X3M
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Henceforth the, 5 year old, but the need for, comment of mine

(I have been a SC addict and saw something incorrect, ocd, ocd)

Under the *** is more on a general note for the most recent contributors ;)

john smith
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In Wargames, True fog Fog of

In Wargames, True fog Fog of war is to mask SALUTE information

Size: as an element of organization. Such as Company Str.
Activity: IE advancing along route 101.
Location: Grid Reference
Unit: Who if known.
Time: When this was observed.
Equipment: Type of Vehicles arms etc.

PS AS one of these threads never got a reply maybe that's why the person left....?

X3M
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About 90% left. People move

About 90% left. People move on (I mean this in the most positive way) etc.

I agree with your true FOW. Actually, it would even be better if you don't even know that there is an army present.

I imagine some sort of economy game with 2 or more countries. Some might keep an army of some sort. But those games are so complex, that you need someone to watch for fairness.

Daggaz
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Its not much help now, but I

Its not much help now, but I think the advent of google-glass type technology will revolutionise board-games in the very near future, and one of the obvious advantages (besides having a computer to do all the book-keeping and stop cheating/mistakes) will be the easy inclusion of fog of war. Frankly, I am surprised nobody has put a system out yet.. I guess its the glasses themselves, how to put an image into a transparent membrane.

Anyhow, without a referee (human or computer) to do this, fog of war is always going to be pseudo-simulated. There's really no way around it.

lewpuls
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Article

My article (originally from ATO Magazine) about fog of war:
https://pulsiphergames.com/gamedesign/WaysToReflectFogofWar.htm

john smith
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I still am baffled why its

I still am baffled why its such a horrid thing that this is an old post. I take it is some territorial thing....

I find FOW is easy to do if you are not bound by the commercial demand. Most of it is a bit of record keeping, sure. But the experience is well worth scribbling a few notes on paper.

Also I would not bend over backwards to anticipate cheating. If you suspect a cheater and can prove it. Get a new opponent.

Daggaz
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lewpuls wrote:My article

lewpuls wrote:
My article (originally from ATO Magazine) about fog of war:
https://pulsiphergames.com/gamedesign/WaysToReflectFogofWar.htm

Whhhyyyyyyy.....

Cursive was invented because it was faster and less messy to write with using a quill; it is significantly harder to read however than a basic font. There is rarely a good reason to use a different font than Times New Roman in a published article. You are pushing away readers in a failed effort to appear "fancy", but why should an article on fog of war mechanics need to look fancy in the first place?

Ironic posting that in a forum all about optimal design.

john smith
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Good Article. Part 2

Good Article. Part 2 Kriegsspiel and Variants???

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