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Simultaneous Decision Rule (1E4)
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Patrick Doyle
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 7:10 pm    Post subject: Simultaneous Decision Rule (1E4) Reply with quote

For Mike West:

I have a statement about rule 1E4 and then a question. I am doing some thinkning about the Simultaneous Decision Rule and how the question is answered will affect my thinking.

Also, to be clear, I am not here to advocate that we get rid of 1E4, but the rule as written has some flaws in my opinion that I would like to address over time.

To all others, PLEASE!, I do not want this thread bogged down in gripes about or praise of the the rule as it is. It works most of the time, maybe even 90% of the time or more. I fully acknowledge that. My opinion is that it needs a little tweeking and or clarification. I do not play with "house rules". I don't use them and don't like them. I am interested in an official solution that is good for the game system.

(1) First I'd like to make a point about rule 1E4, Simultaneous decision Rule:
Bottom Line: In a fleet engagement, it is important to know who is firing at whom, but the simultaneous decision rule does not address who must begin weapon declarations (ie the bidding process). Because of this, fleet battles tend to get bogged down at the point of firing declarations. as people incrementally allocate weapons.
If an enemy carelessely tells me what he is firing first, I will have a big advantage. The more ships, the bigger the advantage.
The more ships involved, the more important it is to have a declaration system.
The bigger the battle, more tedious this process is...I would go so far as to say it gets exponentially more tedious with more ships. THis is simply one of the places that the game bogs down in the case of multi-ship engagements.

(2) I was curious if the Simultaneous decision Rule example that was once published in Communique 24 is still applicable given that the rule (1E4) has been adjusted over time?

I had tried to include the text of the communique in this post but for some reason it did not work so you'll have to look up communique 24.

This example and this procedure is fine if you assume each player only has one ship. This is because the enemy's one ship is the only possible target. So any weapon fire will target that ship. But when each player has more than one ship, this process gets out of control quickly as each player tries to understand who is firing at whom and also track all their weapons. It gets tedious and very hard to keep track of as each player incrementally adds weapons to the "pot", 1 or 2 phasers at a time.
In a recent online tournament game, my opponent and I reached a critical point in the game where we both needed to fire. The outcome of this impulse would likely determine who won. The only question was how that fire would be allocated and what targets each weapon would have. With each player having 3-4 ships and easily 40+ weapons per side, the firing process was tedious. I think we spent the next 1+ hours simply determining which weapon was firing at which target.
The KEY POINT here was that if one person revealed too much info too early the other would have an advantage.
For example, this becomes especially important if one player has 4 units in a single hex. If I can determine which 3 ships are firing at me, then I can concentrate firepower on the 4th ship to destroy it before it ever gets a chance to fire (due to rule 4A3 Blocked Targets). Therefore it is not to his advantage to reveal any information first about which ships he is firing from. (I've encountered this situation twice, and in both cases the opponents had tactically valid reasons for stacking their 4 ships in the same hex).

Thanks Mike, I appreciate the time you put into this! -- this was supposed to be a very short post at first! ~ Pat
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Last edited by Patrick Doyle on Tue May 31, 2011 9:18 am; edited 2 times in total
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Kang
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Odd. I have just tried to paste in the text and it didn't work for me too. I will try a different tack....
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Kang
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Got it:

SIMULTANEOUS DECISIONS
The whole point of rule (1E4) is to eliminate "secret written decisions" of the type common in the more complex game Star Fleet Battles. The firing of each weapon is a unique decision, but having decided to fire a weapon, a player cannot reverse that decision. (You can reverse a decision not to fire it if your opponent makes some decision.) For example, you could see this exchange between the captains of a Federation CA and a Klingon D7:
Federation: I am not firing. I want to get closer.
Klingon: I am firing my disruptors.
Federation: Rats. Well, he might get through that weak shield. Ok, I'll fire my two left phasers.
Klingon: I'm good. Anything else? Federation: Hmm... I will fire the two front phasers as well.
Klingon: Did I mention I am also firing all seven of the phasers that point at your ship? Federation: Uh... no, you didn't mention that. He will definitely get through that shield. Shucks. Ok, I'm going to fire two of my photons. The empty tubes can absorb damage.
Klingon: Did I mention that my disruptors are over loaded? Federation: Uh... no, you didn't mention that either.
That's going to hurt. I'll fire the other photons, and ...
counting ... I have enough energy to overload two of them while keeping enough battery power for one round of reinforcement.
Klingon: Did I mention that ... oh wait, I'm out of things to fire. Moving on ...

Patrick, if you want the secret of how I did it, I can tell you I used a program called 'autounbreak' - Google it to find it easily.
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Patrick Doyle
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good, well at least it wasn't just me, thanks for posting that!
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mjwest
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 3:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let me answer things in reverse order.

2) Yes, it still applies. In fact, that was the initial effort in clarifying (1A4) which eventually culminated in what is in the RRB6 now. Do note that the exchange is written in a very "loose" format, and isn't a perfect "each statement is a declaration" example. There is interplay within a given declaration. But, yes, the note still stands.

1) The problem with doing anything more with (1A4) is that there is really only one option: secret written orders revealed simultaneously. That is really the only solution for what you are describing. But going to that completely eliminates the whole me-too mechanism and totally changes the "feel" of Federation Commander.

So, on this, I don't see a whole lot that will be done, because I don't see a whole lot that can be done. At least without significantly changing the fire declaration mechanism (if not the character of the game).
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duxvolantis
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 5:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mjwest wrote:
Let me answer things in reverse order.

2) Yes, it still applies. In fact, that was the initial effort in clarifying (1A4) which eventually culminated in what is in the RRB6 now. Do note that the exchange is written in a very "loose" format, and isn't a perfect "each statement is a declaration" example. There is interplay within a given declaration. But, yes, the note still stands.

1) The problem with doing anything more with (1A4) is that there is really only one option: secret written orders revealed simultaneously. That is really the only solution for what you are describing. But going to that completely eliminates the whole me-too mechanism and totally changes the "feel" of Federation Commander.

So, on this, I don't see a whole lot that will be done, because I don't see a whole lot that can be done. At least without significantly changing the fire declaration mechanism (if not the character of the game).


The problem is that what works reasonably well and at much better speed in small battles works very poorly and much more slowly in large battles.

To be honest if there are more then two ships involved, secret written orders simultaneously revealed are faster, better and result in less player conflict--particularly given that in FC there are only 8 firing decisions per turn and very little incentive to game the DAC with multiple small volleys.

As a compromise in our local group we have a rule that a ship may not "me too" to choose to fire if it initially declined to fire during that impulse unless it is already involved as either a ship firing or a ship being fired at. We also limit firing and move decisions to 5 seconds, give or take.
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Without consciously doing it our group tend towards a simultaneous then me-to style declaration. As we are normally playing with a number of ships we will be writing notes of who fires what so we don't forget anyway, so we just reveal them together. Then me-to if anyone wants. Mainly there isn't to much me-to as we don't go out of our way to game the fire declaration for the sorts of advantage that Patrick was talking about. At worst there will be a second round of fire as a main target unloads before getting clobbered.

I think I was one of the 2 players that had 4 ships in a hex that Patrick was talking about. That is the first time I have ever had any problem with fire declaration, and to be honest that was more when I thought it about afterwards rather than at the time. During the game itself I pretty much declared all my fire as I normally would, I'm just not into that level of competitiveness slowing the game down even more - trying to calculate out my expected damage to be spot on what was needed (as opposed to gut feel) was slow enough. I thought about it somewhat afterwards and am pretty sure that if I had gamed the system I could have largely protected the 'spare' ship.

The other 3 games I played in that tourney had no such issues.

I'd really like to say it is just some people being to competitive, but there is no getting away from the fact that the game in my case could well have been decided by who got the edge in the fire declaration rules. That seems a game flaw - deciding moment is based on who can hold out declaring some key fire (or non-fire) for the longest. Then again 99.9% of the time it doesn't seem to cause any problems, so maybe it is just a case of learn to live with it.
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Patrick Doyle
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Storeylf, yes I was talking about our game but the description also applies to the game I played against Paul Scott. He also had 4 ships stacked, but was less forthcoming with information than Storeylf was in our game. We did the poker bidding back and forth each throwing out a few weapons at a time. It was painful... My point is that if most players have to modify this process because using it "as is" doesn't work in large games. Since these were tournament games, house rules can't generally be applied so we followed the book. I will say that neither Paul nor I like house rules anyway, and our contribution to the community is trying to improve and balance the tournament.

One of my reasons for bring this up is for the tournament. That IS a comepetitive environment, and it also requires that the rule is clear. At the second FC Origins Tournament all players just did fire declaration like in SFB, and yes it did change the feel.

One thing I am learning from reading the previous two posts is that the groups that Storeylf and Duxvolantis modify the rule to speed it up, but they don't follow the rule example as in the communique'. I wonder how many other players out there modify the rule for larger battles.

I think there is one possible solution (not the only possible solution): Treat direct fire the same way that you treat seeking weapons which is kind of a hybrid of "me too" and secret and simultaneous".... which I think tends to be close to what many people do anyway. And since it's been in the rules since day 1, there is precedent for using this.

ROUGH DRAFT PROPOSAL:
At the bottom of rule 1E4, it states that the whole "point of this rule is to eliminate secret written decisions".

However, having said that, seeking weapons are handled differently than direct fire. See 4F2a Launch: paragraph 2. ---("If several players are launching seeking weapons at the same time, players should write down the unit launching the weapon, and the target of the weapon. All information is revealed simultaneously.")

How I interpret this is that you determine which ships are launching without stating what they are launching or their targets. Players then write those down and reveal at the same time.

So in effect ships get to "Me-Too", IE, a player gets to "me-too" with individual ships declaring that "YES ship A is firing", but the specifics of what they do is written down and revealed simultaneously. It must be made clear that a ship that declares it will fire MUST fire something at somebody. This would speed the game in larger battles (or among more competitive @$$#*!%s like me as Storeylf kindly avoided saying ; ) and it's possible that it is more in line with what many players already do anyway during large battles to keep the game moving.

The bidding process detailed in the Communique is fine when it's a duel but breaks down quickly, causing the game to grind down to a halt. Slowing the game was not something that was intended by this rule and I beleive that something like this suggestion would speed this up.
Most decisions that the me-too process works well for are simply Yes/No decisons, but firing is a decision of how much you will fire and at whom.

There is also one other minor consideration. I am tring to write the FC Tactics Manual. Me too firing is an important aspect of the game but how do I explain how to use this rule to one's advantage without encouraging players to bring the game to a grinding halt if they want to win in a fleet battle?
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Patrick Doyle
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is my belief that if the rule is kept as is, that there must be mechanism that determines who has to start making the first declaration, and how it ends. If you are creating a bidding process for weapons fire, then there must be a mechanism in place that determines who opens the bidding and how that bidding might end short of everyone running out of weapons.

Another thing that could be done is that each ship announces which weapon it is firing without revealing its target. The target is then secretly written down. The problem is that weapon firing is not simply a YES/NO decision. You must incorporate the target of the firing. This is obvious in a duel but not in a fleet engagement, which FC is intended to handle better than SFB.
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I assumed that Paul was the other game. I also assumed Paul wouldn't be quite as upfront with his fire. I think I'd rather just lose than engage in that level of me-to. Oh, wait, I did lose Crying or Very sad

No, we don't (always) play strictly according to that rule. Though that wasn't really a conscious decision but just the way it tends to end up naturally. Neither of us want to spend an evening adding in a weapon at a time to obtain some edge. However, if for some reason we did get to a position that it was important then we would stick to the rule as written because we don't like house rules either. There are also times where someone will say no fire, and then me-to if the other person chucks a load of fire in. The simlutaneous part only happens where it is obvious that we are both going to be firing.

I think we play more in the spirit of the game, not getting to much into the bluff and double bluff of firing declarartions, or at least that is how I've seen the purpose of me-to described.

On the other hand I fully realise that in a tourney you need a clear cut set of rules, so 'spirit' of the rules is a bit useless in that environment.

The 4+ units in a hex is probably about the only time I can see the me-to issue being so hugely decisive. I knew when I went in stacked 4 that I was taking a risk, c'est la vie.
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terryoc
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

then there must be a mechanism in place that determines who opens the bidding and how that bidding might end short of everyone running out of weapons.

There is, for the bolded part at least.

"I'm firing X."
"I'm not firing anything more. OK, time to resolve it..."
"But wait, I wanted to add more fire!"
"Too bad. You don't get to react to a lack of a fire declaration."
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Patrick Doyle
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terry,

I agree with your assessment of the rule and I think it is how it should be and how it was intended, BUT....

If you read The example from the communique note the point where the Klingon player says:

Klingon: I'm good. Anything else?
Federation: Hmm... I will fire the two front phasers as well.

The process should stop when the Klingon decides that he will fire no more weapons. This is consistent with your example and consistent with the rule when it states that "once both players have decided not to fire,declaration is over" (paraphrased) BUT it is not consistent with the example. Fed gets to fire more weapons after the Klingon decides NOT to fire.

The example makes the end point of fire declaration a murky point AND makes 1E4 hard to decifer when you really start getting into thinking about it and its effects. At a minimum some clarification is required, or new examples with several different situations needs to be published.
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storeylf
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was going to say the same thing Patrick, but MWest does say "Do note that the exchange is written in a very "loose" format, and isn't a perfect "each statement is a declaration" example."

Also of course the klingon does ask if there is anything else - he invites more declaration, in the same way that anyone might say 'are you sure', or 'any more' in order to avoid any issues about whether the other guy had actually finished declaring.

But, yes it is a bad example, and a better example written as a perfect each statement is a declaration would be better, and it would be good if it showed the end of declarations being someone wanting to add more but not able to because the other guy had just passed.
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Savedfromwhat
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Me too" in yes or no situations work well, not when you have multiple choices. Things get murky. I am at the point where I just declare all my fire and write it down while my opponent will tell me afterwards. Why? It makes me a better player because I am forced to enter a situation where I want to fire with the actual intent to fire. Either way it would be much stricter to do written hidden fire, but it would make for more competative tournements.

Me too for weapons fire is much more forgiving to new people but it is easily abused by veterans.

It would be great if we had a weapons card that had a row of numbers and letters based on ship weapons with a box next to each where we could just write in the counter info as a target, in fact I will have to make those up for our group.
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Patrick Doyle
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike West:

I am working on a list of examples of the SIM Decision Rule when applied to firing in multiple situations. It is based on my understanding of the rule. However, if you could comment on the post that Terry O'Carroll and I left regarding our interpretations of the rule. I really need to know if we are right or wrong.

Also, My understanding of the rule is more based on an old version of the rule than the text that is in the latest version of the rules. I've read and re-read 1E4 and I am not certain that either Terry or myself are correct. ANyhow, your interpreation, thoughts or insights would be appreciated.

Thanks!
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Last edited by Patrick Doyle on Wed Jun 01, 2011 7:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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