[MUD-Dev] Matrix Game

Ling K.L.Lo-94 at student.lboro.ac.uk
Mon Jan 18 11:59:30 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

May interest those with (or wanna have) a strategic simulation in their
muds.  The first paragraph below sums it up quite neatly.  Has been
edited slightly.

  |    Ling Lo (aka Lethargic Lad)
_O_O_  kllo at iee.org

From: paul_hayes at my-dejanews.com
Newsgroups: rec.games.design
Subject: Re: ANNOUNCE: Matrix gaming newsletter (long)
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 1999 08:29:26 GMT

What is a matrix game??

The Origins Of Matrix Games Matrix Games were invented by Chris Engle, an
American psyciatric social worker who plays wargames. He began to develop the
concept that became Matrix Games in 1988 because he wanted to create a system
by which it was possible for a player to "role-play" an entire country. He
was told that he would have to use a number-based system if he wanted
something that would work, but he felt that this essentially missed the
point. What he wanted was system that reflected the intangible aspects of a
nation such as its culture, beliefs, and perceptions of itself; in essence a
model of a nation's "character".

Taking as his starting point the work of Emmanuel Kant, Chris began to develop
a "matrix" of words that would form the framework for his "model". To this he
added George Hegel's idea that argument and counter-argument (thesis and
antithesis) lead to a synthesis or consensus of ideas. Thus the basic idea of
the Matrix Game was formulated.

Like all good ideas, the Matrix Game is very simple in concept, but has huge
potential in that it can be adapted to fit almost every wargame. It is
particularly suited to dealing with the politico-military aspects of
campaigns, but can also be used to resolve any aspect of combat if the
participants have open minds and the ability to think rationally.

The Matrix
The main component of a Matrix Game is a set of "cues" which form the "Matrix".
In a basic Matrix Game these "cues" are:


N.B. Additional "cues" can be added to the basic "matrix" if required, but in
most cases this will not be necessary.

During the course of a game-turn the players select up to five "cues" from the
"Matrix", and these form the basis of an "argument".

Constructing An Argument There are some cynics who, having seen this stage of
a Matrix Game in progress, have stated that this was the ideal game for
wargamers because they love arguing ... and for once the ability to present a
good argument actually does confer a positive advantage to a player. In the
Matrix Game, however, the "argument" is not about the rules; it is one of the
rule mechanisms!

The "argument" should be structured in such a way as to meet the following
criteria; namely it should contain an ACTION, a RESULT, and up to three
REASONS, and that these elements should normally be drawn from the "Matrix".

Example 1: ACTION: "I will FORCE MARCH my troops towards the enemy and
RESULT: bring their forces to OPEN BATTLE. I can do this because REASON 1: my
troops are REST(/PREPARE)ED, REASON 2: I have the TACTICAL ADVANTAGE because
they are not expecting me to do this, and REASON 3: my troops LOVE their

Example 2:
REASON 1: "Because the enemy has a LARGE FORMATION near me capital city and
REASON 2: is threatening to cut my SUPPLY LINES,
REASON 3: thus forcing me to admit (VICTORY/)DEFEAT,
ACTION: I intend to use the mountain passes known only to my troops (TERRAIN
EFFECT) to allow me to outflank the enemy forces guarding the frontier and
RESULT: make a surprise attack upon the enemy's homeland, thus forcing them to

Example 3:
REASON 1: "Although I have a SMALLer FORMATION of troops than the enemy,
RESULT: I intend to (VICTORY/)DEFEAT them
ACTION: by attacking (OPEN BATTLE) their forces
REASON 2: in the jungle during the monsoon season (WEATHER EFFECT).
REASON3: I can do this because they are not expecting to have to fight at this
time of year (TACTICAL ADVANTAGE)."
All three of these examples show how, with a bit of imagination and rational
thinking, it is possible to present very persuasive "arguments" as to what
should happen in the next game-turn.

Resolving Arguments Once each player has presented their "argument" for a
game-turn to the Umpire, the latter must decide which of the "arguments" will
be successful. This can be done in a variety of ways, but the most widely
used method is by dice-throw. In this case the Umpire judges whether a
particular "argument" is Very Strong, Strong, Average, Weak, Very Weak, or
Stupid and then throws a D6. The result is then read from the Argument
Success Table shown below.

The only exceptions to this are:

When two or more players present "arguments" that are incompatible (e.g. they
both argue that their forces will receive the only available supplies next
turn). In this case both sides throw a D6, and the higher scoring "argument"
is successful and the other fails. If both throw the same score, they keep
throwing D6s until one side prevails.

When two or more players present "arguments" that are the same (e.g. they
argue that a particular unit should be sent into a specific area of
province). In this case the "arguments" MUST be successful, unless it is
incompatible with another "argument", in which case it is resolved by dice
throws as shown above.

Argument Success Table:
Strength Of Argument
 Dice Score To Be Successful

Very Strong Argument
 6, 5, 4, 3, 2

Strong Argument
 6, 5, 4, 3

Average Argument
 6, 5, 4

Weak Argument
 6, 5

Very Weak Argument

Stupid Argument
 No Roll

Once it has been decided which of the "arguments" presented by players have
been successful and which have not then any resulting combat takes place and
all changes in status are recorded by the Umpire.

Play then moves on to the next game-turn.

Trying A Matrix Game
It is hoped that this brief outline has imparted some idea about how to play a
Matrix Game, but the only sure-fire way to really understand how one works is
to play one. As Chris Engle says:"The describe a method for deciding the
outcome of events rather than telling the players what the possible outcomes
are. The methods are simple to learn and easy to play, but yield a nearly
infinite variety of potential outcomes."

List Of Published Matrix Games
At present the number of Matrix Games so far created is limited, but the list
of Matrix Games written to date includes:

Banana Republic - Chris Engle (1988)

Russian Civil War - Chris Engle (1988)

Viking Raid - Chris Engle (1989)

Quest For The Holy Grail - Chris Engle (1989)

Solidarity: The Decline Of Communism - Chris Engle (1990)#

Save Gordon! - Chris Engle (1990)*#~

Swashbucklers - Chris Engle (1990)#

Peninsular Campaign 1809 - Chris Engle (1991)*#

Bonnie Prince Charlie - Chris Engle (1991)*

Blood Eagle - Howard Whitehouse (1991)#

French Revolution - Chris Engle (1992)#

The Invasion Of Russia 1812 - Chris Engle (1992)*

Bannockburn - Chris Engle (1992)*

1494! - Chris Engle (1992)*

Blenheim - Chris Engle (1992)*

March To The Sea - Chris Engle (1992)*

Zulu! - Chris Engle (1992)

The Balkan League 1912 & 1913 - Bob Cordery (1992)#~

Crusade - Tm Price (1992)~

Austerlitz1805 - Chris Engle (1993)#

Death At Sea - Chris Engle (1993)#

Et Tu Brutus - Chris Engle (1993)#

Chaoslavia - Tim Price (1993)~

Arguments Of World War II - Marcus Watney (1993)

Robin Hood - Chris Engle (1994)

The Crimean War - Chris Engle (1994)~

King Solomon's Mine - Chris Engle (1995)

The Sun King - Chris Engle (1995)

Viva La Muerta! - Bob Cordery (1995)~

Scotland The Brave - Chris Engle (1995)

On Killing - Chris Engle (1997)~

Richard III - Tim Price (1998)~

All the Matrix Games that are marked with a "*" were published in 1992 as part
of Chris Engle's Campaign In A Day booklet; all those marked with a "#" were
published in EGG (the Experimental Games Group newsletter); and all those
marked with a "~" were published in The NUGGET, the journal of Wargames


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