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Do we live simultaneously?

The 5000’ General is waxing philosophical while peering at the battlefield from his light plane. What is time?

Noted British wargame design and now retired professor, Philip Sabin, wrote a ten-page paper* on how wargames handle time. Is simultaneous player activities better than IGOUGO? I used to aspire to what I will abbreviate to "simo-move" and still like it in General Quarters 3, a naval battle game. But for land-based games, I think IGOUGO may be better in many respects.

The TL/DR: IGOUGO is more effective than simo-move. The latter’s rules overhead give too low a “Gamer ROI,” Return On Investment: fun divided by learning the game. Action and reaction are the nub of how IGOUGO may work out better. The fourth variable is command activity. How do commands work in the time allotted.

We also agree that some games divide up player turns too finely, which typically are called impulses. I’ve played games where there could be a dozen or two dozen impulses per turn. And those are unpredictable due to gamey factors, so that you may get a double impulse. His preference is for fewer turns so that the players can finish the game. Admittedly, he tends to think of a larger scale battle or campaign than a skirmish.

He mentions the OODA loop, which stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. The OODA explains how a “more agile force can ‘get inside the enemy decision loop.’” Perhaps some nations’ training might justify multiple actions before an enemy responds. I’m not so sure if this is quite right. Maybe there are more nuanced ways to accomplish this difference.

How does this apply to the rules we are working on? Both Fast Rules and Tractics have a sequential movement then simultaneous fire. I think their roughly IGOUGO—actually one side’s infantry moves first, and then the other side’s all units; finally, the original side’s tanks move—is fine if using Opportunity Fire. I’m less sure about the simultaneous fire. I will produce a free variant for fine-tuning fire order and run it up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes.

Tractics also has the 1976 Modification with IGOUGO to move and fire before the other does. While this seems more straightforward, it requires marking those that do either thing and are left on Overwatch if doing neither. For me, the jury is still out on that. Mike and I spent a lot of time fine-tuning this.

You will find free play aids and variants on my Wargame Campaign blog. See the category for the game system you are interested in.

*If this link breaks, let me know, and I will enter a new link. I give a hat tip to Pax Sims that gave Sabin’s paper a mention in their blog.

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