Why Fog of War Rules

General feedback and discussion of the game.

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Breeblebox
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Why Fog of War Rules

Post by Breeblebox »

Premise 1: Who smiles on you?
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Battle for Wesnoth is not a deterministic game. Most elements of gameplay have a 'luck' component. This makes the game quite unlike other turn based games such as chess, draughts, chinese checkers etc where you can 'see' all of your opponents' pieces.

Premise 2: Strategy vs Tactics
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In a militaristic sense, strategy is your overall 'gameplan'. eg; given your current terrain/ location, your current level of intelligence, your race and prefered style of play, how do you plan to win this game?

Tactics, or tactical play on the other hand is more akin to battlefield engagements. eg; given your current force within striking distance, time of day, the actual opposing units you have encountered, how do you plan to create a beneficial outcome from this situation (remember, you may not always want to engage, and therefore beneficial outcome may be getting away unscathed!).

Premise 3: The Scourge of Semantics
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Semantics, or rope-learning, is what we do when we are new to something. We learn that in this situation, we press this button/ open this menu/ select this unit/ attack that unit. This approach can quickly bring someone 'new' up to speed with gameplay. The problem comes when we have seen all there is to see, fought all there is to fight, beaten all there are to be beaten. What do you do then? We continue to press this button/ attack that unit/ recruit this unit until someone comes along and beats us, then we say 'Hey! this unit is unbalanced!', because the way we have sematically learnt to play has let us down.

Now consider the heuristic, or impirical approach. We know what everything does, what everything is good/ bad at. How can we use these attributes to our advantage ALL the time? We try different strategies. Sometimes a seemingly bad move can actually be a winner if for instance, your opponent didn't know that your fleeing goblin is actually a trap for the would-be killers of that unit. What do we need in order to try different strategies? Intelligence (knowledge of the battlefield, not brains), and suprise. This is facilitated by Fog of War.

Premise 4: The Purpose of a Scout is to...
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Why does Wesnoth have scouts? Is it to annoy your opponent temporarily by taking a town off them? Is it to rush into their territory, where they can do little more than offer a distraction? Perhaps, but I like to think of them more from a strategic point of view.

If I cannot see what my opponent is doing/ where his units are, but he has a bat watching everything I recruit and where I am sending my units, I become very frustrated! My strategy is compromised. He/ She can ambush my units, or worse, slip past them and nail my leader! Without a scouts ability to see further, move further, and uncover thy evil enemy's plan, they are simply expensive distractions. Even worse, is that people say 'This scout is unbalanced! Sure it can move faster, and see more than everything else, but I cannot strike their main force with it!'
...to which I would reply 'Surely this is by design!'

Premise 5: You Win! Lets Play Again!
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One of the hallmarks of any good game is replayability. One of the hallmarks of any good player is adaptability. I don't want to discover that someone has devised an unbeatable race/ tactic for Blitz. I will not play Blitz with them, or anyone else who emulates their 'How to Always Win...' post in this forum. It will inevitably lead to yet more balancing arguments. Many people have discussed the fact that combinations of units, strategy and tactics are the real factors to game balance, not simply a side by side comparison of equivalent faction units.

It is also worth mentioning that balancing units in this compartmentalised way may disappointingly dilute one of the great assets of Wesnoth - diversity. Having very different factions rather than 'reskinned' units allows for many different styles of play; which I hope you will agree is a most enjoyable factor of Wesnoth.

Premise 6: What's Around This Corner?
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How many enduring adventure/ rpg/ warfare games start by showing you everything?! One observation, which is NOT a criticism, is that campaign developers generally do not use Fog of War. There may be many reasons for this, but I personally would love to see a campaign that has an element of exploration as facilitated by Fog of War. It also allows for seamless branching in that an event may never be triggered, if you didn't bother to go and have a look somewhere before leaving the area. If you knew it was there from the outset, of course you will try to trigger it.

Ideas for this;
* Ambushed in the night by a group of nasty trolls!
* A hidden cave filled with who knows what, opened only by standing on a certain tile.
* A character that may join your group should you happen to come across them in the woods/ hills/ desert

In Summary
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Fog of War is fun. It makes old maps and old foes into a new challenge every time. It avoids the need to semantically learn a counter to someones tactics. It makes scouting units into much more than a fast squishy unit. It allows people to develop strategies that cannot be played as effectively without Fog of War, such as diversionary tactics, traps, swift flanking, out-scouting and therefore hobbling your opponent. It lets a cunning opponent attempt to defeat or delay your troops with a much smaller force than you thought you were engaging, whilst his/ her real attack slips past in the night. It means you can steal towns from a careless opponent without their knowledge, or sneak a hand picked group of leader killers past the battle deep into enemy territory. In fact, I would go so far as to say that with Fog of War, the possibilites are endless.

The Reprise - I Still Hate FoW!
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Fine, in fact great, because you and your opponents can turn it off. I will play the game either way, but I have never had as much fun as in a random map game with FoW turned on against adaptable, amiable, experienced, and cunning opponents (Hopefully you know who you are).

Edit: Fixed arbitrary numbering system =]
Last edited by Breeblebox on January 10th, 2005, 9:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Elvish_Pillager »

What? All but one of those headings are arguing totally against fog of war! Almost every single statment in the topic is a statement of a way in which Fog of War is bad!
It's all fun and games until someone loses a lawsuit. Oh, and by the way, sending me private messages won't work. :/ If you must contact me, there's an e-mail address listed on the website in my profile.
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Post by PDF »

Personnally I like Fog of War. Maybe because I'm mostly a wargamer, but real life works under FoW too !
It makes the game more unpredictable and allows for surprises (good or bad). I understand it also makes it less "chess like" strategically, but have no problem with that. 8)
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Post by Dragonking »

PDF wrote:[...] real life works under FoW too !
That's it. I like chess very much, but I prefer real-life strategy than chess-strategy. In all wars/battles key to victory is tactics based on a intelligence (scouting in BfW) and/or overwhelming noumber of units and/or skills of units. When BfW MP game is started, we don't have many/skilled units, so we must take care of scouting, and on the basis of this - chose tactic.
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Post by martenzo »

PDF wrote:...real life works under FoW too !
Right, for example, in a real battle you wouldn't know if there is an ambush waiting for you in a mountain pass or in a forest. In wesnoth yiou can use that for you as an advantage, like this:
3 orcish warriors and 3 trolls are going to capture several of your villages near your castle. The quickest way is through a road in a forest. They are on the road you have 2 elvish rangers and 6 elvis fighters in the forest. they can't see you because of FoW, but you can see them, rangers attack from sides 3 fighters cut away the escape, 3 attack the front. Due to your protection in the forest you'll probably win, but if they are starting to defeat you can just quickly retret.
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Post by cobretti »

Elvish Pillager wrote:What? All but one of those headings are arguing totally against fog of war! Almost every single statment in the topic is a statement of a way in which Fog of War is bad!
No one of his arguments goes against FoW, not at least in a game that is considerably based on luck. If this was chess, where 'attacks' always 'hit', you would have a point, but just arguing Fog of War is bad because it makes results to be based on chances in a game already based on chances is nonsense.

FoW doesn't kill strategy. In fact, it makes you have to use strategy, and not just tactics.
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Post by Darth Fool »

One word: Stratego.
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Post by Disto »

I like shroud as you have to explore but i hate fog of war because you have to leave a unit to watch over a area so you don't get flanked or anything without knowing. But if you leave a unit around like a Elvish scout that is costing you and to watch most of the map will cost you your army. The only way you can get round this is having shroud so you only have to explore once or build a watch tower which is just a feature i oppose.

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FoW of war is only suited to a few things. And if you want to ambush people get a unit which can ambush.
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Post by Circon »

Elvish Pillager wrote:What? All but one of those headings are arguing totally against fog of war! Almost every single statment in the topic is a statement of a way in which Fog of War is bad!
You're incredibly biased and you're viewing the world through a "FoW-is-bad" set of glasses, then.
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Post by Breeblebox »

I don't think any of those headings argue against FoW, and even if this was a perception, actually reading the text to follow would dispel this. I'm not totally mad =]

As for Shroud being better than FoW, well this is obviously a preference. In a 'real' battle situation, you are very likely to know the lay of the land, but unlikely to know exact enemy units/ positions. The opposite of this is virtually never true.
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Post by Invisible Philosopher »

Circon wrote:
Elvish Pillager wrote:What? All but one of those headings are arguing totally against fog of war! Almost every single statment in the topic is a statement of a way in which Fog of War is bad!
You're incredibly biased and you're viewing the world through a "FoW-is-bad" set of glasses, then.
All of you are biased. It was a good explanation of the effects of Fog of War, with some bias towards FoW being good. It does not give concrete evidence that FoW is good or bad, because FoW is a game element whose effects are NOT good or bad, just different.

However I don't see what "Premise 4" or the first paragraph of "Premise 3" (the first one; there seem to be two 3's) has to do with FoW or anything else mentioned.
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Post by MRhe »

Hear, hear! Breeble's got the essence of why I enjoy FoW and presumably why others enjoy it as well.

If people don't like it, that's understandable, and it's probably impossible to convince them why it is such an enjoyable feature for others. I find that the unknown variable makes any game more challenging and more fun to play than if everything can be seen (and this can also work in my favor - setting up traps, outflanking opponents, etc. are not only fun but classic strategies in warfare).
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Post by Elvish_Pillager »

Invisible Philosopher wrote:All of you are biased. It was a good explanation of the effects of Fog of War, with some bias towards FoW being good.
"You" should have been "us", methinks...
Breeblebox wrote:I don't think any of those headings argue against FoW, and even if this was a perception, actually reading the text to follow would dispel this.
The headings didn't have anything to do with Fog, I was referring to the text, and the subsuquent meaning it implied upon the headings.

Under "Premise 1", you state a fact which does not inherently say anything good or bad about Fog, but the way I view it, it is a statement of one of the bad aspects of fog.

Under "Premise 2", you make some general definition statments that don't say anything about Fog.

Under "Premise 3", version 1, the first paragraph has nothing to do with Fog, and the second paragraph states one gameplay effect of Fog, which I view as bad.

Under "Premise 3", version 2, the first paragraph states that you find a gameplay aspect annoying, and implies to me that you don't understand that aspect very well, and the second paragraph states a reason which Fog of War is annoying and forces you to use a certain strategy, which I consider bad.

Under "Premise 4", you state some general statements of balancing principles, which complain about unbalance, and since it is obviously harder to balance for two modes of play than for one, this is against Fog in my view.

Under "Premise 5", you imply that features that large numbers of successful games have are good features, which is not generally true. It also says that you like Fog of War, which is hardly an argument in its favor. Also, you state some ideas which I consider to be bad ones.

Under "In Summary", you brag about Fog of War's benefits, most of which I consider defecits.

Under "The Reprise - I Still Hate FoW!", you say that you prefer Fog on, that you also prefer another setting I consider to be very unbalanced, and that you like playing against adaptable, amiable, experienced, and cunning opponents, which I like as well, but find rather rare. This is also not an argument for Fog.
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Post by Breeblebox »

Let me just say that this is my opinion. Some people agree, others don't, which is fine by me.

In partial defence of my original statements, let me clarify what I was trying to achieve with each premise;

1) Who Smiles On You?
Put simply, this is not a deterministic game. Claiming that luck should not be a part of it is fallacious.

2) Strategy vs Tactics
Strategy deals with an overall gameplan, tactics with an engagement. FoW adds more depth to the strategic side of the game IMO.

3) The Scourge of Semantics
Some games rely entirely on build orders or somewhat robotic responses. FoW attempts to dilute this effect by allowing people to use 'unorthodox' styles of play, adapting in their own way to a given situation.

4) The Purpose of a Scout is to...
A scout is not supposed to be a front line soldier. Superior sighting range and speed are far more useful when FoW is turned on.

5) You Win! Lets Play Again!
Some thoughts of mine on elements that make some games good. FoW helps to keep you on your toes. It also freshens heavily played maps and oft met opponents.

6) What's Around This Corner?
Suprise is fun. Dealing with suprise is challenging, and ultimately makes you a more rounded player.

Summary & Reprise
An attempt to homologate the previous statements, and a disclaimer that acknowledges that some people still prefer not to use this feature.
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Post by Elvish_Pillager »

Breeblebox wrote:1) Who Smiles On You?
Put simply, this is not a deterministic game. Claiming that luck should not be a part of it is fallacious.
This is a real statement which I can argue against. You see, I do not claim that luck should not play a part; I only claim that said luck should help those who use good strategy, where "good strategy" means "not sending units off into the pointless wilderness just in case your opponent has done the same thing."
Breeblebox wrote:2) Strategy vs Tactics
Strategy deals with an overall gameplan, tactics with an engagement. FoW adds more depth to the strategic side of the game IMO.
Which is the side that should be minimized, IMO. (where minimized means "not added to" rather than "subtracted from".)
Breeblebox wrote:3) The Scourge of Semantics
Some games rely entirely on build orders or somewhat robotic responses. FoW attempts to dilute this effect by allowing people to use 'unorthodox' styles of play, adapting in their own way to a given situation.
That's just plain false. I use plenty unorthodox strategy without fog, but with it you have to spend some of your gold just preventing your opponent from using unbalanced strategies which I consider unorthodox on you. The game becomes a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. (Rock, Paper, Scissors is the bad kind of luck.)
Breeblebox wrote:4) The Purpose of a Scout is to...
A scout is not supposed to be a front line soldier. Superior sighting range and speed are far more useful when FoW is turned on.
Scouts should not be overpowered. A balanced unit becomes overpowered when its power is increased, and assuming that our units are balanced, this means that Fog unbalances things.
Breeblebox wrote:5) You Win! Lets Play Again!
Some thoughts of mine on elements that make some games good. FoW helps to keep you on your toes. It also freshens heavily played maps and oft met opponents.
I just don't understand this, but if some feature increases your enjoyment, even if it's for no reason, you should use it.
Breeblebox wrote:6) What's Around This Corner?
Suprise is fun. Dealing with suprise is challenging, and ultimately makes you a more rounded player.
No, it isn't; no, it kills you first; no, it makes you a more annoyed player.
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