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Playing both sides is great, I’ve had a lot of fun over the year with exactly what you describe.
But what I’m finding interesting with this project is the challenge of the design. Personal opinion, I think a solo game can be fun and rewarding as a competitive experience, but it’s all down to precise design. Again, I’d cite RAF (https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/40209/raf-battle-britain-1940) as a good example of this, but there are others.
I guess it’s because this is new to me, I’ve never looked at a wargame like this before. The frustration is…fun.
The ‘muscle’ of the rules – combat, movement etc, that’s fairly straightforward. The tricky stuff is in creating a ‘bot’ which the human player can use to control their ‘opponent’ while still providing enough unpredictability to make the game worthwhile.
What I’ve realised over time is that it needs to be a very restricted, focused game/scenario, as you have to plan for every possible thing the bot might need to do, as it were, and the wider the scope of the game the more unplayable it becomes.
Really good examples of solo wargames, such as Where There Is Discord, NATO Air Commander, pretty much anything from Dan Versenn Games, the GMT games COIN series, the legendary RAF and more besides, all keep the basic premise of the game narrowly focused. Every time I realise I’ve gone down a dead-end with something, it’s usually because I’ve tried to include too much. I’m trying really hard not to rip off anyone else’s ideas, so there’s a lot of dead-ends…
Games can wait. Your kid is more important (obviously you know that but somehow it feels important to let you know that literally everyone else thinks the same as you).
I hope you’re able to access the help you all need. I have a close relative in the same situation as yourselves and I know things can be all-consuming under these circumstances. Without getting too political, it’s certainly harder than it should be these days, though most people at the coalface of SEN education are fighting the good fight; I hope you have some of them in your corner.
These days I’m really into Vassal. I think it’s great. It means I can leave even quite large games “set up” for days on end while me and other people in the same boat (young kids and a full time job) can play a turn here or there.
This has meant that I can revisit games with fairly complex rules, because I get to work through them at an enjoyably leisurely pace. Lately I’ve had a couple of great games of Red Storm (latest in the ‘Downtown’ series), and it’s pretty complex but using a computer to provide the playing space is a Godsend, as I can squeeze in my move after the kids have gone to bed.
Vassal has basically saved my gaming hobby.
Given the current political environment in the UK, I don’t think the school and police responses were completely out of line – remember Jo Cox. As others have said, we only have one side of the story. It is entirely possible that the intervention and meeting were called prevent a young man from being radicalized by an extreme political ideology – we simply don’t know. What we do know, is that whatever the intent, what Vespasian, his son and his family experienced, was distressing for them, and that is unfortunate. About all we can do is be sane and calm representatives of our hobby.
It sounds like no blame can be attached to the police – indeed if you watch the video they stay that the police have taken action against the teacher concerned and they won’t discuss it for legal reasons (likely a charge of wasting police time).
Police have to respond if called in by the school, on this occasion it sounds like they were doing their job properly. The school, on the other hand…
I do appreciate that schools, social workers and doctors are placed under ridiculous pressure to report likely radicalised behaviour, but I cannot for the life of me understand how common sense did not prevail early on in this instance.
I’m really glad someone is still playing the old version of Command Horizon; I utterly LOVE those rules, had loads of fun with them in pre-parenthood days.
I’d say the easiest way would probably to assign some sort of command skill to each ground unit, then make up a random table for ground unit movement. If a ground unit passes it’s command skill then it can move/attack towards nearest enemy/objective, if not then it stays in place/defends/reorganizes. Then you have another chart for sorting out ground combat abstractly with some of the results being retrograde movement. This way you don’t have to control the ground units at all, just roll for them and off they go while you concentrate on bombing the crap out of them. Are you specifically going to do NATO vs Sovs? Or more of an ImagiNation sort of thing?
That’s a good idea, a pretty smooth way of doing it. Thank you.
I sort of want to do both NATO/Sovs and Imagination, in that I want to use the aircraft of the Cold War simply because we have a lot of information on them – modern stuff (Typhoon, F-35, Su-35, J-20 etc) is still mostly hypothetical in capability (or classified up the wazoo). Plus I’m a child of the Cold War and theres a certain amount of nostalgia there. However, I want to use fictional terrain.
Well there’s an interesting point which serves to demonstrate my lack of knowledge on the subject; I know very little about tablets in general, but my wife is an Apple fangirl so our house is filled with Apple devices. Thus to me tablet=iPad. Sad, I know…I’m quite the luddite.
Well, if there’s a better tablet out there then I’m happy to know about it too!
That’s really great! If you don’t mind, where did you get the counters for the ground forces? Are they from another game or did you produce them yourself or…?
I spend quite a lot of time on BGG; Tom Vasel is highly thought of by many.
I am not one of them.
It always astonishes me how big fish in very small ponds lose their sense of perspective…
Well I like to get your attention Thad!
Seriously though, thanks. I’ll try both.
Anyone else able to vouch for these methods?
I certainly don’t think they Sov’s wanted a war, and a large part of their doctrine I’m sure revolved around the idea of making us believe that they would annihilate us with nukes straight away if it kicked off. Conventionally I believe that if they had done the total strategic surprise thing they woulds’ve, as John Salt avers, been sitting in our fighting positions, bombing our airfields and sinking our ships before we had our boots on, and NATO would never have recovered from that; in many ways that was their main weapon, they were set up to deliver such a shocking first strike, even conventionally, that we had no hope of defeating.
If NATO could somehow have withstood the initial onslaught then it’s quite possible it could’ve turned the tide.
The two big ‘what-ifs’ to me were always a) whether the Warsaw Pact itself would hold together. I’ve met enough Polish guys over the years to make me think Poland would simply take the opportunity to settle scores with Russia, and b) how long would the ammo last?
- This reply was modified 3 years, 4 months ago by Dan Kennedy.
I agree his own scenarios are biased towards the Russians like the one we played last night, 12 T72 platoons vs 2 Abraham ones with one ITV and an infantry platoon in an M113, I can’t see how the Americans are meant to win. We’ll be trying it again with a bit more support for the Americans…
I have to say it sounds like a realistic assessment of what might’ve happened, although I admit I’m one of those who believes NATO would’ve been steam rollered in a matter of days by Pact forces, so long as the Pact held together. Just too many of them.
Doesn’t make for a great scenario though.
You see, this is why I focus on boardgames. I just can’t paint this well, not even close.
That’s fantastic work, I love it. Keep it up.
Nerf the cavalry.
Warmaster is great, a lot of fun, but yes, cavalry become too dominant. There’s also something go be said for importing the (I think) activation rules from WM Ancients, which limits it to three in row, if I’m remembering correctly.
Haven’t played it in years, but always enjoyed it.
That’s where I’ve been exploring the last few days – the idea that manoeuvre itself is almost a weapon, in that if a vessel has limited fuel (and I’m most definitely playing it that way – almost no fusion powered ‘infinite fuel’ ships in this), then forcing it to burn that fuel in the posturing and positioning before any weapons are launched is a big part of it. Planetary naval vessels have to consider fuel, but for vacuum vessels it’s way more important.
Again, this works because of the players point of view – they wouldn’t be thinking about the exact dispersal of a drone cloud, for example, more concerned with getting their forces into a good launch position and still have enough fuel to escape of things go wrong, or to continue their mission afterwards.
The problem of course, as always, is turning the rough thoughts in my head into coherent rules on paper…
I’d also like to add my thanks again to you all, those are some really useful posts and I’ve learned a lot.
I was playing earlier with some rule ideas involving drones as the main weapons platforms. I’m envisaging the idea that vessels carry a mix of reusable and disposable drones, many of which are multi-role, and can be tasked to everything from all out attack to loitering and patrolling. Possibly the bigger vessels are capable of manufacturing some of these?
The game itself places the player in the role of a high level commander, overseeing the whole campaign, so the actual details of how the vessels fight can almost be hand-waved away. But I like the idea that combat in vacuum is more concerned with denying the enemy maneuvring room, cutting them off by the use of mines and drone attacks, forcing them into a position where they can be attacked. It’s all just theory at this point, but I want to the vacuum combat to ‘feel’ different to planetary combat – I don’t want it to just feel like a naval game in space.
There really has been tremendous food for thought on here, thanks again!
Hmmm, interesting points, thank you, all of you.
Science doesn’t support them at all. But a game run entirely by science is going to be no fun. If my ultimate aim is to create interesting decision points and an enjoyable gaming experience, maybe I’m over-analysing.
Fighter are going to have flaws. There’s a lot they can’t do as well as other vessels, but maybe that wouldn’t stop people building them? They have potential uses in many ways, so maybe I’ll include them, warts and all, and let players figure out the best use for them.
I’m thinking though would there be a role for them in combating bandits, long range patrols, harrasment etc.
I like the idea maybe of giving fighters (or equivalent sized craft) a role in the game somehow, but not in those great swarming attacks. Like maybe they can utilise their tiny signature and high speed somehow to be effective, but are basically toast if deployed against anything bigger?
This kind of answers the question for me!
It’s always slightly awkward writing sci-fi, because ‘real science’ renders most of what we see in movies (books are different) useless. I’m setting the game in what I’m calling a ‘hard futuristic’ background, inspired as I am by the forthcoming Bladerunner 2049. I want some level of reasonably believable science, and I can’t really come up for a reason to have fighters in space that isn’t thematic.
The planetary part of the game has large elements of naval and air combat, and I don’t want the ‘vacuum’ aspect to just look like the same, but twenty thousand miles higher. I want it to ‘feel’ distinct, like it has different tactical problems, which I think it would.
How ‘hard’ to go in a sci-fi setting is a rabbit hole of dangerous proportions; the game needs to be playable without a slide rule and calculator. In the end I want players to feel like there’s something gritty and realistic there, and I just don’t know what a squadron of fighters can do that other ships couldn’t more efficiently. Also, I quite like the idea of forcing players to think differently.
I admire Pat’s stance on this subject; I think there should be room for games to be used to inform or educate where the topic is suitable. I would probably not play them, but certainly don’t judge those who do. I don’t see much difference in reading a book on the subject to playing a game, if the intention is to gain knowledge and understanding.
For myself, I play games for escapism and to indulge my imagination, so I’m naturally drawn to fantasy and science-fiction. That said, as a child of the Cold War I remain intrigued my NATO/Warsaw Pact games, though as that’s a hypothetical set in the past I’m not sure if it even counts as historical.
If someone else has been kind enough to set up the board and invites me to join, then I’ll try pretty much anything that doesn’t involve children or torture. However, my preferences are most assuredly in the realms of imagination, where I feel safest.
I have to say that what does annoy me about this whole issue is how some people (not on this thread) seem to think that because it’s gaming it doesn’t really matter, like having an attitude 50 years out of date is ok because this is only a hobby.
Well, it matters a great deal because if you treat people as different in one area of life you’ll probably do it in others. It’s not less important just because we do it for fun.
Storm in a teacup……not met a transgender wargamer yet ( knowingly) and not bothered either way……much more important things to get concerned with in the world……….and on the playing table!
As Thad says, this particular incident most probably is a storm in a teacup.
However, it’s important not because of what it is, but what it represents. Sexism is still rampant in the world, and the attitudes of Lambshead et al are doing nothing to end that. It simply reinforces the perception that gaming is a ‘boys club’, with a lot of the negative connotations that go with that.
I have a close friend who is quite well known within the video gaming world, she’s got a successful career going as a comedian and has been on tv and radio many times. She still gets resistance from people who think gaming is for boys and that girls can’t do it. Tabletop gaming is worse.
We need to speak up when stuff like this happens. Lambshead is making himself look archaic and it really reflects badly on us all. I don’t understand why people still behave like this, but will continue to resist them.
So yes, this per se is a storm in a teacup, but the wider issues it sprung from are not.
Apologies for the weird formatting below – never posted to the site from my phone before.
I’ve found Flight Leader also works really well as a small unit naval action game, with some adjustments.
You intrigue me strangely. Do say more.
Well, I’ve always thought that in Flight Leader one flies the formation, rather than the plane – it’s a game which really shines with multiple aircraft each side. As such it’s focused on the air battle, rather than flying one or two individual planes.
It occurred to me one day that if I took altitude out of it, it seemed to me that I could make a reasonable approximation of naval action. After all, the information I work with in Flight Leader – how fast am I moving, how quick can I turn if I need to, what are my sensors telling me, what weapons can I employ and so on, aren’t too different from what (I theorised) a naval commander might be working with. I changed the time scale to five minutes per turn, but kept it at one mile per hex. A lot of it is abstracted away in Flight Leader, to good effect, much as with Shipwreck. Essentially I’m trying to do what I like in a game, which is focus on having that information and decisions that I would reasonably have as a commander in that situation.
Basically it comes down to what the vessels can physically do (speed, turning), what they can sense, what they can see or what they can hit. Much the same as the game is with aircraft. It allows me to focus on the manoeuvre and tactics, without descending into Harpoon levels of detail.
Of course, submarines are still awkward to do – I’ve taken to treating them like snipers in ASL – and aircraft have been heavily abstracted (attempts to play aircraft and ships on the same game were a success, but still a bit too much work).
these are all quite old games […] I know some of these rules have great gaping holes in them, that they aren’t perfect and have been superseded by smoother, more elegant mechanics.
I’d query that for the games you listed that I’m familiar with — they seemed to be a premium selection, and the choice of someone who knows the subjects of the games very well. Only yesterday a naval wargaming pal of mine was to be heard recommending the “Fleet” series of games because nothing better had been written since on modern naval fleet combat. While “Birds of Prey” might be an improvement on the “Air Superiority” system, no other air rules I’m aware of do a better job for jet fighter combat. And the longevity of “Air and Armour” is I think to be explained by its getting to the heart of the tactical situational awareness problem — where are the other side and what are they up to? — in a way very few games do, although I’m buggered if I can see how you can use it solitaire.
I should’ve been clearer – I meant that there are miniature games out there which have been more successful. For example I know people who love Air War C21 but shrink from Air Superiority, and although the scale isn’t really comparable I imagine a lot of folk would rather do Shipwreck than the Fleet games, even though (especially with the adjusted rules from The General) Fleet really is an excellent game which does so much more.
I agree that Air Superiority is excellent if you want to ‘fly the plane’. I wouldn’t use it for more than two aircraft per side usually, but I really enjoy it, especially if I’m planning ground attack with Air Strike.
Playing Air and Armor solo? Not so hard given what I use it for in this context. I adore this game, and to do it solo I put all ‘Opfor’ units on the map initially without a step counter. I then randomly generate what steps they have when ‘my’ units encounter them, based on a die roll using tables o worked out which vary according to how aggressive/cautious the Opfor is being, and what they are trying to achieve. Often I won’t even generate those tables until the last moment, so I have no idea what I’m playing against. It generates a certain amount of uncertainty for me, and on top of that, if a unit loses contact with an Opfor I remove the step counter, allowing the random tables to decide later what happened to it. Is it perfect? Of course not. But it serves it’s purpose well enough.
- This reply was modified 4 years, 5 months ago by Dan Kennedy.
I prefer forums. The various Yahoo groups I’m on are of ever-decreasing use, and I have no intention of following my hobby all over Facebook. Forums (fora, sorry John!) seem a better place of the exchange of ideas, as you can access different genres and systems in one place.
Well now that’s hard to argue with given that I’m using an iPhone to write this. And when kids take over everything a smartphone or tablet becomes your own little slice of privacy, the only access you have to websites and blogs and forums which may be the only way you can keep abreast of what’s going on or keep your interest up.
I think Norm is correct that ‘screen time’ can take away from hobby time; I guess it’s just a matter of willpower to make sure we don’t do that.
Glad to know it isn’t just me !
In all seriousness it’s almost a relief to find out that others do as little gaming as I do. That’s one of the reasons I turned back to board games: it’s all provided, don’t have to paint anything, and with a phone camera I can record the situation and then pack it away knowing I can set it up again easily.
I will get back to Renegade Legion though. I love that game!
I play very few games that aren’t part of some kind of campaign, so solid rules for that are a pre-requisite for me.
Beyond that all I really ask of rules nowadays is that they stick as faithfully to the ‘commanders view’. That is to say, if I’m commanding a brigade or an individual aeroplane, I’m faced with the decision points that are appropriate to that ‘command level’.
I’m open minded about most mechanics, and lately I’ve been playing a lot of old hex and counter board games with some fairly dated rules and systems and finding that they don’t really bother me, so long as I get a good feel for the ‘role’ they put the player in (big love for Air and Armor over here!).
Dude! Have a break!
Lord knows you’ve earned it, give yourself a well earned break, enjoy the holiday and find a decent cocktail bar.
We’ll be here when you surface, so will TWW. Relax!29/03/2015 at 19:18 in reply to: What Game Would You Like To Play That May Not Exist? #20883
The challenge initially is working out the technogy base. I feel (YMMV) that the better rule sets are the more tightly focused ones – one thing that the operational level Strike Legion rules irked me with was (and it’s just for me, they’re overall a good set of rules) too many different tech levels and styles able to be mixed in.
For example, Battletech is big stompy robots, Renegade Legion is grav armour, Star Wars is, well, Star Wars, even 40k is pretty well focused. As you say, what would Corps level battle look like in the distant future? By trying to imagine too many possibities the game becomes cumbersome; but by defining the background first all the rest can flow from it. I’m using the Renegade Legion background, because I’m intrigued by the idea of grav armour that moves at 200mph rendering traditional front lines obsolete, amongst other things. But I don’t want to pull in too much other stuff that ‘might’ happen, because that dilutes it.29/03/2015 at 19:03 in reply to: What Game Would You Like To Play That May Not Exist? #20877
The other idea I’m playing with is some kind of more detailed version of the ‘battle board’ used in Axis and Allies.
I’d like to be able to have players exercise some level of control over a fight if they wanted. But I’ve got no idea how to make it work.29/03/2015 at 18:59 in reply to: What Game Would You Like To Play That May Not Exist? #20872
Mr Average (sorry, not figured out quote formatting posting from my phone yet!)
Interesting you should say that; my home-brew, constantly-in-development rules for this scale have that in mind as a major part of it – after all, it’s fun to decide that instead of a quick dice roll we can play it out tableside.
After some trial and error I decided that the simplest way was to have detailed TO+E for all forces, thus allowing players to gain a reasonable idea of what to deploy in a lower level game. The scale dictates that each model represents one battalion, but what’s giving me a headache is representing cross attachment at this level.
Anyway, the point is that if players know exactly what’s in any given force, then setting up a different battle is straightforward.
Although it occurs to me maybe you meant one set of rules that would allow battles at two different levels. Yes, that’s difficult, but not impossible. The old FASA game Renegade Legion did just that with Legionarre (RPG), Centurion (armoured tactical), Interceptor (spaceship tactical), Leviathan (spaceship fleet, though unplayable) and Prefect (armoured strategic). There’s also a fan made armoured operational game on the web called Legatus. It’s not bad.
Given the choice I think I’d still opt for an exhaustive TO+E, solid rule sets at whatever level we wanted to play and common sense to move between them. I reckon it gives the best chance of games actually happening, and in the end that’s a result for everyone.
29/03/2015 at 16:54 in reply to: What Game Would You Like To Play That May Not Exist? #20857
- This reply was modified 5 years, 9 months ago by Dan Kennedy.
Operational level science fiction. I played the heck out of an old boardgame – Air and Armor – back in the day (still pull it out if I can), and it’s a fantastic treatment of operational level NATO vs Pact.
I really want a sci fi equivalent. I’ve played the old Baccus Command Horizon (great fun, especially the Skycraft rules), and Strike Legion: Planetary Ops (good rules, bit too crunchy for me), but I’d love something like Air and Armor that let me command up to a Corps sized force, dealing with engineering, fog of war, recce, air and naval assets, logistics, even environmental factors.
Grand sweeping manoeuvres, hoarding of reserves, deep air operations, logistical dilemmas, all that stuff. Of course I’m trying to home brew it, but I’d like it if there was other stuff out there at this level.
Oh yes, and another vote for Sam’s carrier rules!
Just wanted to add my thanks to Mike/AB for doing a brave thing and starting this website which has proven to be fun and educational to read, and so I’ve decided to stop lurking and try to be a part of the excellence.
I’ve played the Operational Level rules a few times, they seem tightly written and give a good game, though it’s not quite what I was after so I’ve moved on.
I’ve only read the tactical level rules, not played, but they look good. It’s a different way of looking at it maybe but a good one. I like most of what that author does.
- This reply was modified 5 years, 9 months ago by Dan Kennedy.