I have noticed a few computer applications out there that handle the rules of miniature wargames, such as Carnage and Glory. Some people love them and others hate them. Part of the issue (from what I have read; I have never used them) is that the program take a little time and effort to use. But in exchange, you get a set of rules that can easily handle a lot of complications with ease. Remember those rules from the 1980's, like Fire Fight and Challenger II, that had loads of modifiers and special cases? Computer-based rules seem good for that.
But in the end, those rules don't require an umpire (more like a bookkeeper), so they don't really solve the problems that double-blind wargames do, which is limiting the information that a player has about the opposing forces and where they are located. A good computer program for that would be a good idea.
That is what I have been working on all this time (and why I have not been gaming). The idea is for players to order their forces on a computer (I am initially targeting an iPad or Android tablet) and then the application reveals what both player's see. The idea is that the application acts as an aid to miniatures gaming. Only the miniatures that are visible are placed on the tabletop.
From this comes a slew of additional ideas on enhancing the wargaming experience:
- The application "knows" the rules.
- It can hide specific dice results and give general comments on the state of troops or damage (friendly or enemy).
- It can hide the command and control mechanics so that a player does not know their command "limit" for the turn (say if you are using a command point, or PIP, system). When the last point is used the computer tells them "you are done giving orders".
- Line of sight can not only be blocked, but it can be obscured, allowing for units to be seen, but not identified by type or grade. (At a 1000 yards those blue blobs are probably French soldiers, but are they the Old Guard? Or your Prussian allies?)
- Timed moves can be enforced.
- And, of course, you can track a number of additional factors (fatigue, smoke, ammunition, etc.) that would be too tedious to deal with without a computer.
I think I can morph the code from his vision to my original one, but network programming takes a lot more time so I see the pass-and-play version as a good stepping stone. After all there is a lot of coding just to deal with the interface, rules, line of sight calculations (you would not believe the math I put myself through), etc.
So, when will I be done? Who the hell knows. But the good thing is that I am plugging away at it.
Not that I will be discouraged if the feedback is less than positive, but I would like to hear your comments about computer-assisted miniatures gaming, pros and cons. Do you think that they (would) get in the way? Would you ever allow the computer to roll the dice for you? Is losing control – a lot of control – something that you think would add to the experience? Have you ever played a double-blind wargame with an umpire?