Thoughts on the FoG 2.0 debates....

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shadowdragon
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Thoughts on the FoG 2.0 debates....

Post by shadowdragon » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:04 am

I originally was going to post this in response to a thread, but it became too long.

The original thread was on the "Roman" - viewtopic.php?t=19354

Sorry for picking on Richard's quote. A lot of people could have made it, Richard was unlucky in just being one of the most recent.
RichardThompson wrote:If you want to look at statistics then go to:
http://www.slithdata.net/files/fog/rankings.html

Choose:
Rankings -> army rankings,
ELO or Points Per Game (as you prefer)
Click here for more options -> Armies with 50 or more games (for statistical significance)
The stats will confirm your suspicion that Pikes generally do better than Romans.
Actually, the results show that "armies with pikes" have generally done better than Roman armies. These Roman armies have little else than legionnaires, while many "pike armies" have much better supporting troops than the Romans. That "armies with pikes better than Romans" is a vastly different statement than "pikes generally do better than Romans". The game results do not show the contribution of "pikes" to victory compared to the other arms in those armies. Inferring that “pikes” are the main reason for the rankings is thus a statement of faith.

Honestly, I haven't played enough games to have an opinion on most of the alleged short comings of FoG on the various posts for FoG 2.0. But so far, I can see that skirmishers can cause a problem – but perhaps that’s not unrealistic problem and one that can be perhaps fixed by victory conditions or if you play, as I generally do, in a campaign setting by using objectives. I have had trouble with “supporting lines”, which I can work around if I don’t mind a “line of columns” for the support line. I don’t mind but can see that some people might.

I’ve had a fascination with the apparent avalanche of flaws to FoG that need fixing. I’ve adopted a conservative attitude. FoG has rekindled my interest in ancient/medieval miniatures and I’ve played more games in the last year than the preceding six. So I have to be convinced that there’s a problem, but without having played a lot of games I look for the logic of the various arguments. I can tell you that a statement that begins…

“The stats will confirm your suspicion…”

…is an immediate “red flag”; and, whether the statement is really true or not, it makes me wonder if it isn’t a case of confirmation bias. This is common approach in politics, legal cases and policy analysis…you start with a position and look for confirming evidence in order to sway someone’s opinion. That’s okay but, like anything in politics, one ends up judging the case more by where the person is coming from than by what they are saying. My background is scientific and therefore I look to the data, try to understand the problem and then, slowly….slowly, develop a theory and finally to do my best to tear the theory apart. I tell the young scientists that join my team that you should be so familiar with the flaws in your analysis that no one – no one should surprise you with their criticism. However, I admit that such rigour is not often seen.

I’ve really enjoyed the FoG database and have spent a good deal of time looking over the games results. It’s fascinating and I think there are things to learn in the database but not what I see people doing….which is to quote differences without a clue as to whether or not those differences are significant or random and, if significant, why they are so. There are a lot of factors to control, before one can significance and cause. These factors include controlling for player influences and time variances. I should point out that most statistical methods for measure significance are based on the normal distribution, but if it’s not a normal distribution you could have great difficulty in assessing “significance”. As well when a distribution looks like a normal distribution but has parameters (mean and variance) that vary in time you’ve got one really, nasty distribution to work with - and there are clearly time varying influences in the FoG results.

It’s speculative, but I wonder if the performance of some armies actually resembles the economic case where a new market is discovered. There’s not much activity, but then the market takes off with the first movers doing well. Then more and more companies are attracted to the market, saturating it and results are diluted. Finally something else comes along and the market declines. It’s just a speculative analogy…but it could explain results as much as some of the arguments posed by people with an a priori position to prove.

Back to “pikes” being better than “Romans”…

If the FoG database does indeed show that, then advocates of that position must then explain why…

…the Early Carthaginian Army (with only 1 average, armoured cavalry BG, only 1 armoured offensive spear BG and hordes of protected foot) is doing better (10.42 versus 9 points per game) than the Late Carthaginian Army?

….the Ancient British do better than Mid-, Late-Republican Roman or Principate Roman. Can it be all of those light chariots? Wasn’t there a case about chariots not being cheap enough or good enough?

…Hellenistic Greek do better than any other Greek, Macedonian or Successor army?

…100 Years War English is better than War of the Roses English?

By the way, the Graeco-Bactrians are just under the Principate Romans (the worst of the Roman armies), yet the Graeco-Bactrians have armoured, superior lancers, cataphracts, pikes, thureophoroi, lots of bow armed LH (with an option for a Saka ally). Yet there they sit….low on the list.

What I’ve actually like using the FoG database for is to look at the detail…a slightly –ever so slightly - more empirical approach. For example, the Christian Nubian army is doing well, very well of late….so I looked at which armies have routed these infidels. Here’s the list…

Hellenistic Greek,
Late Republican Roman,
Palmyrian
Early Byzantine,
Carolingian Frankish,
Nikephorian Byzantine,
Early Hungarian,
Ghaznavid,
100 YW English (Continental) – twice,
Catalan Company,
War of the Roses English,
Santa Hermandad Nueva Castilian, and
Aztec – twice.

Don’t get too excited about the Nikephorian army. They’ve also been routed three times by the Christian Nubians. The fascinating ones on the list, for me, are the Carolingian Frankish (isn’t that from “Wolves from the Sea”!!!) and the Aztecs.

Just a few things to think about as we flame-on about what’s wrong or not wrong and how to fix what’s broken or what’s not broken….depending on your politics.

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Post by gozerius » Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:46 am

Well, the Carolingian Frankish can be explained by the fact that it gets superior drilled armored offensive spearmen.
Another super-troop.
Thracians
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Re: Thoughts on the FoG 2.0 debates....

Post by nikgaukroger » Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:28 am

shadowdragon wrote: I’ve had a fascination with the apparent avalanche of flaws to FoG that need fixing.

I must confess that I have a suspicion that a large chunk of the recent avalanche is actually trolling :?
Nik Gaukroger

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Post by timmy1 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:52 am

The way you fight an army with superior armored drilled offensive spearmen (SADOs) is two fold. First you will find the army quite small (though not small enough - FoG:R fixes that by having Superior being much more expensive in relative terms) so you fight where the SADOs arent't (unless you are fighting Spartiates...) and refuse where they are. Second they are prone to charge anything that comes in range, so make sure that you pick on one end of the line, draw them out and use your superior numbers to hit them in the flank. Even SADOs don't like beind handled roughly on the flank by unprotected MF while engaged frontally; once they drop from steady they are toast. I know as I have used them and been unpicked in this way.

Another super-troop, yes but only if you let it be.

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Post by philqw78 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 7:31 am

gozerius wrote:Well, the Carolingian Frankish can be explained by the fact that it gets superior drilled armored offensive spearmen.
Another super-troop.
At 17pts a base. More like the player had balls and charged his lancers in. Then the Nubian wasn't lucky. ++ impact, ++ melee. Instead of +Impact, ++ melee. And less being shot, though it is worse.
phil
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Post by Strategos69 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:15 am

I have liked your post, shadowdragon. The problem you are rising is something we have to deal everyday (at least in Social Sciences is very common and I fear that it is too in all Sciences): people come up with an idea before they look at the data. That idea installs in your brain and it is hard to get rid of it, so you make your case based on that. The discussions we have here, in my opinion, seem to depend on what we are thinking about the game itself.

Everytime I try to join the conversation, it is only to try to give the rules a more historical flavour. I am playing FoG to recreate historical battles, not for tournament purposes (I don't play them and I don't think I will) I agree tournaments are the best statistical proof sometimes to know how good or bad a list is. I imagined FoG scale as being able to see in the tabletop something similar to the deployments I usually read in books. I guess that people playing tournaments will be thinking in the balance of the armies regarding other features trying to get a balance with the opponents of the book (tournament). Everyone has their own legitimate reasons.

In my case I have played a few games, but certainly more than I did with DBM. I was smashing my friend with my Later Carthaginian his Romans so badly and so many times that it was certain it wasn't me but the rules. We stopped playing as it wasn't funny. We started with FoG and many issues seemed to be fixed. We could deploy in a more historical way (we always start like that until we get tired of losing everytime the same way), but there were things missing and you feel the rules are not getting that right. Therefore, it seems to me that we have a primitive difference in concept design, the real question that leads to split into various groups when arguing. Some people want results closer to what happened between historical enemies and others an equilibrate set of rules to make tournaments more competitive.

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Post by philqw78 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:47 am

Strategos69 wrote: Therefore, it seems to me that we have a primitive difference in concept design, the real question that leads to split into various groups when arguing. Some people want results closer to what happened between historical enemies and others an equilibrate set of rules to make tournaments more competitive.

The problem here lies with a set of rules covering thousands of years and many many different troop types, battles, strategies and tactics.

Perhaps each list book should contain special rules for historical battles? But that would take a lot of work and a lot of people may not be too bothered and others would be a bit annoyed when they found their special rule did not count in competitions.

Perhaps the CAMPAIGN BOOK WE WERE PROMISED could resolve some of these issues with a special chapter for particularly popular historical campaigns and battles and special rules to apply to them.
phil
putting the arg into argumentative

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Post by grahambriggs » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:53 am

Asking for comments on how rules can be improved brings everyone out of the woodwork. DBMM has just been through similar. We all like to sound off on our pet theories. When you post on line you don't have to have any qualifications (no degree, no peer review). So you'll get a wide range in terms of experience levels with the game, historical knowledge, common sense level and so on. Most of the ideas will not see the light of day. Some of them are people just free wheeling their minds. Fortunately it all costs nothing. The authors will take the small proportion of bright idea and mull them over.

To be honest, I suspect the authors are pretty much there in terms of defining the problems to be fixed and the ways of fixing them.

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Post by philqw78 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:57 am

grahambriggs wrote:..., common sense level and so on. .
They've already discounted your theories then Graham
phil
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Post by hammy » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:13 am

philqw78 wrote:
Strategos69 wrote: Therefore, it seems to me that we have a primitive difference in concept design, the real question that leads to split into various groups when arguing. Some people want results closer to what happened between historical enemies and others an equilibrate set of rules to make tournaments more competitive.

The problem here lies with a set of rules covering thousands of years and many many different troop types, battles, strategies and tactics.

Perhaps each list book should contain special rules for historical battles? But that would take a lot of work and a lot of people may not be too bothered and others would be a bit annoyed when they found their special rule did not count in competitions.

Perhaps the CAMPAIGN BOOK WE WERE PROMISED could resolve some of these issues with a special chapter for particularly popular historical campaigns and battles and special rules to apply to them.
Perhaps they could.

That said I really don't like special rules in army books (and I know that Flames of War is full of them but that doesn't mean I have to like them).

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Post by Strategos69 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:20 am

philqw78 wrote:
The problem here lies with a set of rules covering thousands of years and many many different troop types, battles, strategies and tactics.

Perhaps each list book should contain special rules for historical battles? But that would take a lot of work and a lot of people may not be too bothered and others would be a bit annoyed when they found their special rule did not count in competitions.

Perhaps the CAMPAIGN BOOK WE WERE PROMISED could resolve some of these issues with a special chapter for particularly popular historical campaigns and battles and special rules to apply to them.
YESSSSSSSSS!!!!

I expected that before FoG:R and nothing finally. I think that campaign book could balance some of the questions risen and get happy a profile of player. It was a little dispointing that finally the lists books were just that, lists. I would have preferred compagnion BOOKS, but that would be harder to do and more expensive for the player that only wants an appendix of lists.

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Post by Strategos69 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:27 am

hammy wrote:
That said I really don't like special rules in army books (and I know that Flames of War is full of them but that doesn't mean I have to like them).
I don't like when the develpment of new rules ends up having a juridical problem with the other player and the game becomes in the jurisdiction of rules (the rulebook, the expansion, the army book, the amendments? It is like debating in the Supreme Court!). That happens with the games that rely too much on special rules. However, I think that Flames of War idea of getting a book of lists that also presents miniatures, how to paint them, historical background (although not much), some rules to make the game "more historical" within that period and some tips for the player is a very good idea as a companion book. And when they seel it and resell it with various forms and formats it becomes a fairly good business.

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Re: Thoughts on the FoG 2.0 debates....

Post by grahambriggs » Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:32 am

shadowdragon wrote:

What I’ve actually like using the FoG database for is to look at the detail…a slightly –ever so slightly - more empirical approach. For example, the Christian Nubian army is doing well, very well of late….so I looked at which armies have routed these infidels. Here’s the list…

Hellenistic Greek,
Late Republican Roman,
Palmyrian
Early Byzantine,
Carolingian Frankish,
Nikephorian Byzantine,
Early Hungarian,
Ghaznavid,
100 YW English (Continental) – twice,
Catalan Company,
War of the Roses English,
Santa Hermandad Nueva Castilian, and
Aztec – twice.

Don’t get too excited about the Nikephorian army. They’ve also been routed three times by the Christian Nubians. The fascinating ones on the list, for me, are the Carolingian Frankish (isn’t that from “Wolves from the Sea”!!!) and the Aztecs.
I was one of the Aztecs (vs Ian Stewart's CNs). The aztecs were 8 drilled MF BGS (2 elite, 3 superior, 3 average) and 3 LF; IC and 3TCs. The CNs were the usual mix of undrilled bow and mounted. The problems the CNs have in this match up is that the bow are fragile if the Aztecs get decent numbers in (double POAs). The cavalry lancers are quite good if they get a decent charge in but can be distracted by the aztec LF. and the Aztecs are better at manouvering.

Given the Aztec manouverability I was able to feint an attack on a bow centre. then when these ran off to the wings I was able to throw most of my army against one wing and defeat the bow and cavalry there. 36 bases plus fighting generals of superior and elite impact foot that can shoot were sufficient to do he job. There's usually a sticky charge of brave cavalry at on point when you have to hope that IC and rear support will fight them off.

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Post by shadowdragon » Thu Sep 30, 2010 2:09 pm

Strategos69 wrote:I have liked your post, shadowdragon. The problem you are rising is something we have to deal everyday (at least in Social Sciences is very common and I fear that it is too in all Sciences): people come up with an idea before they look at the data. That idea installs in your brain and it is hard to get rid of it, so you make your case based on that. The discussions we have here, in my opinion, seem to depend on what we are thinking about the game itself.
Thanks.

To re-word something a Spanish friend told me about Spaniards.....If you have two wargamers you have three opinions. A set of game rules is, by definition, a compilation of theories about how to model warfare. You have to calibrate that theory against historical outcomes and we have to rely on historical accounts for which the authors had different intentions than satisfying future wargamers. :cry: When that's all you have, it's the best you can do, but it does lead to arguments when people have opposing theories.

By the way, another "red flag" is to dismiss a primary source as propaganda if the ancient author's account doesn't match your theory. In my view you must take it at face value unless you have solid reasons for dismissing part or all of the account. For example, clearly the numbers Herodotus gave for the Persian army are implausible based logistical considerations....but what should be the correct interpretation? Did he mean only combatants or did he include non-combatants? It makes a difference, but we can't actually interview Herodotus to assess his motives or intention.

Also....just from my own experience of 45 years (yikes!) of wargaming experience, wargamers are an opinionated lot who often refuse to let basic facts sway their views. The best personal anecdote is a game which was a tactical scenario from the Battle of Kursk. I played the Russians. I was worried about his Tiger tanks, but fortunately he rushed them forward without any support and my Russian anti-tank guns took both out of action by firing on the flank or rear of the Tigers. Well my opponent was very upset. In his view that was an impossible outcome; and no amount of factual data on the front, flank and rear armour thickness of a Tiger’s armour would convince him. They were Tigers and they therefore MUST be invincible. On the other hand, I was a bit slow since it took me another two games before I realized that playing against this chap wasn’t fun as all he really cared about was winning and if he lost the problem was due to the rules.

Game On!

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Re: Thoughts on the FoG 2.0 debates....

Post by shadowdragon » Thu Sep 30, 2010 2:10 pm

nikgaukroger wrote:
shadowdragon wrote: I’ve had a fascination with the apparent avalanche of flaws to FoG that need fixing.

I must confess that I have a suspicion that a large chunk of the recent avalanche is actually trolling :?
I can understand that suspicion, but as long as we don't take it too seriously and can laugh at the trolls and ourselves, we're in good shape.

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Post by shadowdragon » Thu Sep 30, 2010 2:19 pm

grahambriggs wrote:Asking for comments on how rules can be improved brings everyone out of the woodwork. DBMM has just been through similar. We all like to sound off on our pet theories. When you post on line you don't have to have any qualifications (no degree, no peer review). So you'll get a wide range in terms of experience levels with the game, historical knowledge, common sense level and so on. Most of the ideas will not see the light of day. Some of them are people just free wheeling their minds. Fortunately it all costs nothing. The authors will take the small proportion of bright idea and mull them over.

To be honest, I suspect the authors are pretty much there in terms of defining the problems to be fixed and the ways of fixing them.
I think you're right Graham. What some of the people with complaints, suggestions or ideas seem to not understand is that if they want something changed they need a convincing, well-thought out and substantiated argument. There are cetain interactions, such as Legion versus Pike, that have almost certainly been thought through by the authors and thoroughly play test since they are classic match-ups. Saying you disagree with the authors' view on historical interpretation without new evidence to the contrary just isn't going to go very far. If we don't like a set of rules we are entirely free to play another set, write or own or modify an existing set for personal use. However, most - not all, but a fair chunk - of the debate seems to be preaching to the converted. The onus is actually on anyone who wants a rule changed. FoG has been though through by the authors, play tested and, to some degree, popular (at least with me it is). The rules speak for themselve in their own defence and it's up to the challenger to prove / convince others that they are wrong. That's the way it should be for FoG or any set of rules. Just imagine the rules we'd have if every suggestion on this forum were included in FoG 2.0! :shock:

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Post by shadowdragon » Thu Sep 30, 2010 2:20 pm

philqw78 wrote:
grahambriggs wrote:..., common sense level and so on. .
They've already discounted your theories then Graham
Yours and mine too, Phil. :P

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Re: Thoughts on the FoG 2.0 debates....

Post by shadowdragon » Thu Sep 30, 2010 2:23 pm

grahambriggs wrote: 36 bases plus fighting generals of superior and elite impact foot that can shoot were sufficient to do the job.
:shock:

That's a sight that must have caused Ian's heart to skip a beat. :lol:

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Re: Thoughts on the FoG 2.0 debates....

Post by grahambriggs » Thu Sep 30, 2010 3:17 pm

shadowdragon wrote:
grahambriggs wrote: 36 bases plus fighting generals of superior and elite impact foot that can shoot were sufficient to do the job.
:shock:

That's a sight that must have caused Ian's heart to skip a beat. :lol:
Do you know, I think he may even have said a bad word?

It's an odd army Aztec. When it deploys, it looks small and vulnerable. 11BGs with nothing better than protected MF and only a sword in melee. Sat there in the open just waiting to die. But if you can use the manouverability it can hit really hard in one area and overwhelm the enemy while running away elsewhere. It's easy to get it wrong though and then it all falls apart like tissue paper!

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Re: Thoughts on the FoG 2.0 debates....

Post by Ranimiro » Fri Oct 01, 2010 3:36 am

nikgaukroger wrote:
shadowdragon wrote: I’ve had a fascination with the apparent avalanche of flaws to FoG that need fixing.
I must confess that I have a suspicion that a large chunk of the recent avalanche is actually trolling :?
I don´t think there is an avalanche neither trolling. There have been several discussions about particular topics with more or less foundations maybe, and many about ideas to give some edge to the lower quality infantry to be more attractive. Either way i think that is unfair to say that people that like FoG enough to play it and share their thoughts about it, is trolling.

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