France 1944 Fixes
France 1944 is a conflict simulation designed by Mark Herman and published by Victory Games in 1986. The simulation covers the Allied advance on Germany after the D-Day landings in Normandy. It is a notable simulation, not for its topic, but for the innovative (at the time) mechanisms Mark Herman designed for simulating simultaneity of movement and combat in a two-player game as well as the limitations of command and control. However, it is the opinion of many players that—despite some effective design concepts—the simulation falls apart because of a combat resolution system that generates unrealistic results and therefore encourages unrealistic tactical combat decisions that lead to anomalous strategic choices.
As Mark Herman explains, the original combat system attempted to show how combat efficiency (in the form of training, experience, and morale) can have a greater impact than numerical odds, as often happened in the battle for the bocage, the subsequent breakout, and the toughened defense of Germany. Mark also incorporated coordination issues into the system by assuming that higher force ratios reflected more complicated operations. Although every single one of his simulation goals was completely sound, the model used to achieve those goals generated anomalous results. For example, a set of combat units could reduce a defender, taking no losses, at 1:1 odds in an attack increment. Then, in the immediately following attack increment, the exact same units attacking the exact same defender, now at 2:1 or 3:1 odds after the defender step losses, would have a higher chance of taking losses than at 1:1 odds. The reason this result appears anomalous is because the exact same units are involved. It is my opinion that the problem with the system is that it linked coordination effects to force ratio instead of absolute force levels. Furthermore, it treated combat efficiency (i.e., morale) effects as a bimodal function instead of as a function of combat efficiency differential.
Working with fellow gamers on ConsimWorld, I have developed some fixes for France 1944 that attempt to reproduce Mark Herman's original design goals. Although I believe these to be improvements, they have not undergone a comprehensive battery of evaluation. These changes may make France 1944 a better game, but not necessarily a better simulation.