Units of variable strength?

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Units of variable strength?

Postby Perygl » 21 Feb 2021, 19:58

This may have been suggested previously, but I couldn't find it by searching....

One of the basic elements of Diplomacy game play is that all units have equal strength. One army is equally as strong as any other army, which is equally as strong as another country's fleet. This greatly enhances the game’s playability while sacrificing a degree of realism; in the real world, some combat units are simply more powerful than others. I was thinking about how the reality of unequal strength could be reflected in a Diplomacy variant without becoming unnecessarily complex, and came up with the following.

Rules:

If a unit retreats, but is not destroyed, it goes to half strength -- reflecting the losses it suffered which led to its defeat. (The icon’s coloring could change from solid to striped-with-white to reflect its status.)

On the other hand, when a unit forces an enemy unit to disband (or to retreat and then to destroy one of its units in the Build phase), the attacking unit's strength increases by 50% (let’s say because of heightened morale and a boost in funding from HQ). (The icon could be haloed in red or gold to reflect its powerful status.)

When it comes to the effects upon play, it’s all mathematical:

Two lesser-strength units = one normal unit in strength
(0.5 + 0.5 = 1.0)
So one normal unit can dislodge one unsupported lesser-strength unit
But a lesser-strength unit supported by another lesser-strength unit cannot be dislodged by a normal unit acting alone.

Two normal units together are still stronger than one hyped-up unit
(1.0 + 1.0 > 1.5)
A lesser unit and a normal unit together = one hyped-up unit in strength
(0.5 + 1.0 = 1.5)
But one hyped-up unit acting alone can dislodge one unsupported normal unit, or a lesser unit supported by another lesser unit.

A hyped-up unit supported by another hyped-up unit (1.5 + 1.5) has the strength of a normal unit supported by two other normal units (1.0 + 1.0 + 1.0)

And so on.

A lesser unit can regain normal strength by successfully attacking and destroying another unit, and a hyped-up unit can be forced back to normal strength if it’s dislodged. If we really wanted to be cruel, we could say that a lesser unit that’s dislodged would be forced to disband, even if retreat would otherwise have been an option.

I don’t have the computer knowledge to set this up online, but once in-person play is a thing again, I might bribe my friends into playing it through with me to see how it goes in practice. In the meantime, grateful for any thoughts / concerns / tomatoes flung in ridicule / insights / etc.
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Re: Units of variable strength?

Postby Big Gun » 22 Feb 2021, 00:41

Cool variant idea
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Re: Units of variable strength?

Postby SelhurstPark » 22 Feb 2021, 01:49

This does overlook the role played by a supporting unit without which an attack could not be successful. Are they to receive no recognition for the part they played? And what of naval units engaged in a convoy without whom an attack might not have been possible?
Please understand that I am not being negative here - just sharing thoughts on how 'fair' this might be.
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Re: Units of variable strength?

Postby Perygl » 22 Feb 2021, 03:27

SelhurstPark wrote:This does overlook the role played by a supporting unit without which an attack could not be successful. Are they to receive no recognition for the part they played? And what of naval units engaged in a convoy without whom an attack might not have been possible?
Please understand that I am not being negative here - just sharing thoughts on how 'fair' this might be.


Good points. And here's another unfair angle I thought of:

Say a unit is dislodged, and the player has it retreat to a neighboring region. It goes down to 0.5 strength. If the player is down a supply center as a result, she has to destroy a unit; let's say she decides to destroy a different unit, for reasons of strategy. Unless the unit that was destroyed was also at 0.5 strength, this means that the player is effectively penalized for making a strategic choice. Not only does she lose a unit, but one of her remaining units is now at 0.5 strength.

I guess the glib answer is that my variant would at least acknowledge that different units have different levels of strength, even if it doesn't capture all of the possibilities, or accurately reflect the possibilities it does capture. :mrgreen: It's that pesky balance between realism and playability again. :mrgreen: A less glib answer is: You're right, I need to think about this some more.....
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Re: Units of variable strength?

Postby mjparrett » 22 Feb 2021, 12:08

What about when you self bounce in order to protect an unoccupied territory? If you had one unit at strength 1 and one at 0.5, would the strength 1 unit win? Or would you build in a rule (similar to you can't dislodge yourself) that meant your units were always same strength when bouncing against themselves? (also remembering that sometimes the enemy will support one of your units to victory scuppering your self bounce plans)

No criticism or objection - just the sort of thing you will probably need to decide on if you were to attempt a F2F game

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Re: Units of variable strength?

Postby Latanst1 » 22 Feb 2021, 17:58

These are interesting ideas but they ignore the essential elements of Diplomacy. While each unit may have an assumed equal value to any other unit, their actual value depends on the diplomatic strength of the players and their inter-reactions with other players. To reduce the contest to the strength of individual units is in many ways to reduce the contests to a sort of solitaire or other simple war game. The beauty of Diplomacy is not the mechanics of how the units interact, it is in the manipulation of the politics of the board.

There are other variants already available that allow players to avoid diplomacy. It may be best to allow those variants and other games to do best what they do best while allowing diplomacy (and other basic in game-based variants) to be what they are. There are war game aplenty.


Perygl wrote:This may have been suggested previously, but I couldn't find it by searching....

One of the basic elements of Diplomacy game play is that all units have equal strength. One army is equally as strong as any other army, which is equally as strong as another country's fleet. This greatly enhances the game’s playability while sacrificing a degree of realism; in the real world, some combat units are simply more powerful than others. I was thinking about how the reality of unequal strength could be reflected in a Diplomacy variant without becoming unnecessarily complex, and came up with the following.

Rules:

If a unit retreats, but is not destroyed, it goes to half strength -- reflecting the losses it suffered which led to its defeat. (The icon’s coloring could change from solid to striped-with-white to reflect its status.)

On the other hand, when a unit forces an enemy unit to disband (or to retreat and then to destroy one of its units in the Build phase), the attacking unit's strength increases by 50% (let’s say because of heightened morale and a boost in funding from HQ). (The icon could be haloed in red or gold to reflect its powerful status.)

When it comes to the effects upon play, it’s all mathematical:

Two lesser-strength units = one normal unit in strength
(0.5 + 0.5 = 1.0)
So one normal unit can dislodge one unsupported lesser-strength unit
But a lesser-strength unit supported by another lesser-strength unit cannot be dislodged by a normal unit acting alone.

Two normal units together are still stronger than one hyped-up unit
(1.0 + 1.0 > 1.5)
A lesser unit and a normal unit together = one hyped-up unit in strength
(0.5 + 1.0 = 1.5)
But one hyped-up unit acting alone can dislodge one unsupported normal unit, or a lesser unit supported by another lesser unit.

A hyped-up unit supported by another hyped-up unit (1.5 + 1.5) has the strength of a normal unit supported by two other normal units (1.0 + 1.0 + 1.0)

And so on.

A lesser unit can regain normal strength by successfully attacking and destroying another unit, and a hyped-up unit can be forced back to normal strength if it’s dislodged. If we really wanted to be cruel, we could say that a lesser unit that’s dislodged would be forced to disband, even if retreat would otherwise have been an option.

I don’t have the computer knowledge to set this up online, but once in-person play is a thing again, I might bribe my friends into playing it through with me to see how it goes in practice. In the meantime, grateful for any thoughts / concerns / tomatoes flung in ridicule / insights / etc.
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Re: Units of variable strength?

Postby Perygl » 23 Feb 2021, 04:00

Latanst1 wrote:These are interesting ideas but they ignore the essential elements of Diplomacy. While each unit may have an assumed equal value to any other unit, their actual value depends on the diplomatic strength of the players and their inter-reactions with other players. To reduce the contest to the strength of individual units is in many ways to reduce the contests to a sort of solitaire or other simple war game. The beauty of Diplomacy is not the mechanics of how the units interact, it is in the manipulation of the politics of the board.

There are other variants already available that allow players to avoid diplomacy. It may be best to allow those variants and other games to do best what they do best while allowing diplomacy (and other basic in game-based variants) to be what they are. There are war game aplenty.


Hmmm, I disagree that this variant would reduce the contest to the strength of individual units. The variable strength would be another complicating factor that affected each player's diplomatic choices (unless of course it were played gunboat, which would probably be fun exactly once and only for the winner). But I agree with your remark about wargames -- Ogre has its place, but Diplomacy doesn't need to be more like Ogre.

I don't think the variant would ever displace any of the other existing variants in terms of popularity... but I'd still like to play it once and see what happens. When and if that happens, I'll come back with an AAR.
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Re: Units of variable strength?

Postby Perygl » 23 Feb 2021, 04:02

mjparrett wrote:What about when you self bounce in order to protect an unoccupied territory? If you had one unit at strength 1 and one at 0.5, would the strength 1 unit win? Or would you build in a rule (similar to you can't dislodge yourself) that meant your units were always same strength when bouncing against themselves? (also remembering that sometimes the enemy will support one of your units to victory scuppering your self bounce plans)

No criticism or objection - just the sort of thing you will probably need to decide on if you were to attempt a F2F game

Mike


I vote that self-bounces are a bad idea unless the units are the same strength!
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Re: Units of variable strength?

Postby super_dipsy » 23 Feb 2021, 08:17

Just for info we already have some cases of variable strength moves on site. In the 1900 variant, if you move or attack 'around the cape' you do so at half strength, so we had to handle things like does a half strength attack cut support, what happens in a bounce etc. Also in Stuff Happens units can go berserk. So the support for handling variable strength is in the software.
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Re: Units of variable strength?

Postby mjparrett » 23 Feb 2021, 12:08

I think this is missing the point entirely. He's not offered this as a variant to replace diplomacy and be played like Risk etc - it is adding another factor to this wonderful game as a suggestion. Nowhere in the original post does it say this is a variant that will be played without diplomacy. And talking of which, gunboat seems incredibly popular on this site and that is surely a variant that has been reduced to just "a war game" (granted I don't play it for this very reason, but plenty do).

This is a place for people to make suggestions of variants they would like to see, all that can have a slight affect on the game. From build anywhere and winter 1900, to things like fog/chaos, double powers in Versailles and of course the dreaded gunboat/PPO. If you have no interest in a particular variant you don't have to get involved or play it. But I think it's sad you feel the need to just tell someone to drop it because there are enough variants already.

Latanst1 wrote:These are interesting ideas but they ignore the essential elements of Diplomacy. While each unit may have an assumed equal value to any other unit, their actual value depends on the diplomatic strength of the players and their inter-reactions with other players. To reduce the contest to the strength of individual units is in many ways to reduce the contests to a sort of solitaire or other simple war game. The beauty of Diplomacy is not the mechanics of how the units interact, it is in the manipulation of the politics of the board.

There are other variants already available that allow players to avoid diplomacy. It may be best to allow those variants and other games to do best what they do best while allowing diplomacy (and other basic in game-based variants) to be what they are. There are war game aplenty.
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