Forum Replies Created
09/06/2023 at 01:29 in reply to: discovered 6mm, and its blown my mind #187020
3mm? Giants – try 2mm.
Glad you found and enjoy 6mm gamegonegood but be advised; I can fail to finish set ups in 6mm just as easily as in any other size/scale. This may be the honeymoon period!05/06/2023 at 19:55 in reply to: Should I strip? I would really rather not… #186933
I was coming in with a chorus of ‘Get ’em down you Zulu Warrior!’ but I now realise that may not have been where you were coming from and may possibly be culturally insensitive to boot.
So er, no, no stripping and I’d follow Martin’s advice.
Or if you really hate painting 15s that much, sell all the old ones and pay someone else to paint a much smaller army.02/06/2023 at 14:04 in reply to: Editorial- Something Smells in Publishing #186853
Any insights, as an editor, on the OP – the state of military history and wargames publishing?02/06/2023 at 08:40 in reply to: Editorial- Something Smells in Publishing #186848
I’m probably running a very old spell checker but it picked up
‘Proof reading? Spell check, moor often.’
‘Proof reading? Spell cheque, more often.’
It flagged ‘Proof reading’ as a fragment which I should consider revising. So not necessarily the answer to all our prayers.
If anyone is a collector of book publishing errors (there generally aren’t any apart from things like the Sinner’s Bible – ‘Thou shalt commit adultery’ 1631) I have an Osprey Elite Series 28 Medieval Siege Warfare by Gravett and Hook 1994 printing, bound in an Elite Series 21 The Zulus by Knight and McBride cover I can let you have for a very reasonable price.31/05/2023 at 15:35 in reply to: Editorial- Something Smells in Publishing #186798
If you’d like a general update on why you shouldn’t be a writer (general, any type) see
10 Awful Truths About Publishing
Admittedly US data but optimistic compared with some estimates that in the UK average book sales are <250. That is the mean, so if we include Booker Prize Winners and Richard Osman’s 3.1 million (God Help us) in those stats some of those books are going to be lucky to sell 10, in a good year, with a following wind and their Mum being very loyal in her Christmas present buying.
There are more positive ways to look at the figures but I’d just like to share the fact that while History does pretty well as a category (not in the Amazon top 5 non-fiction categories though) most of that is taken up with WWII and things frankly I wouldn’t recognise as history per se. A lot of social, economic and gender studies get branded as ‘history’.
Military history is a niche ( a still academically suspect one at that) within a niche in a minor sales category. Be thankful anything gets published.31/05/2023 at 13:28 in reply to: Editorial- Something Smells in Publishing #186792
The lack of specifics left be lost for the authors intent.
Is this a test?31/05/2023 at 07:32 in reply to: Reading rules, and playing them correctly. Eventually. #186764
I think we should have a world symposium on rules writing to agree proper standards.*
Nothing about mechanisms allowed. Just how to set the things out and the style used.
I always liked the US boardgame approach to rule writing. Numbered paragraphs with easily understood sub headings and sub paras with an index. You could find stuff in seconds – what’s not to like?
I loved reading Charge! and Grant’s rule books too. Hardback goodness with witty (not whimsical) explanations of why and how. Not always the best to find things again – especially as sometimes the rules were spread throughout the other writing.
Barkerese like all language developed through use, and in many cases abuse. Not by Phil but by the competitive obsessives who actively tried to misread the intentions to gain an advantage in the quarter finals of the Penge Wargaming Collective World Ancients Championships. He simply responded in an attempt to convey the original intent. I suspect he should have shrugged his shoulders and accepted you can’t please all the people all of the time. Especially competitive wargamers.
As for whether you can ignore (intentionally or otherwise) large chunks of rules and still get a result – probably, but will it be the same result and would it be the one the writer intended?
*My Chat Bot informs me that irony is still recognised by 35.76% of the English speaking world in most circumstances and said I should risk this.30/05/2023 at 23:53 in reply to: Editorial- Something Smells in Publishing #186754
I have some sympathy with the complaint about copy editing and proof reading. Some publishers seem worse than others but many (in all genres) have cut back considerably on these expensive skills.
Was it better in the past? I remember suddenly recognising several pages of a work by Oman lifted and slotted into a wargaming book without attribution, altered slightly by the expedient of changing a few active voice passages to passive voice. Any decent editor with a knowledge of the subject should have spotted that.
As for fake news, there’s a lot of it about in most histories from Ranke onwards – before that it wasn’t even pretending to be history and you were lucky if what was written bore any resemblance to what happened.
Series? Of course they leapfrog and hopscotch – the publisher needs an income stream and if they go to the same well too often too quickly they will be left with a lot of remainders no matter how good the book.
I’m not sure how you judge the value of the information in a book like the first English language Liliane and Fred I bought in 1973 for £2-75, published by Ward Locke. I couldn’t find anything anywhere else where I lived then. It at least got me a start. Would I get a comparable volume now at the inflation adjusted price of £27-90? Doubt it. The internet has cut the ground from under a publisher of that type of work. You don’t think of the cost of the computer/tablet/phone, the broadband connection, electricity bill and damage to the environment of running the server farm when you look up the uniform for Austrian Grenzer. It’s free! Why buy a book?
Ah well, we are where we are not where we’d like to be.
Oi! Doug’s Archaeology. For $7,100 get a copy editor who’ll stick the ‘n’ into ‘a Archaeology book!’ ffs!30/05/2023 at 09:14 in reply to: Combined a boardgame and figures game 1862 #186738
Nice one Norm.
I used to use board games to generate tabletop games occasionally- mainly campaign level board games – eg the old 1809 Napoleon’s Danube Campaign by Victory Games. The transfer back and forth between table and map sometimes felt a bit clunky but that may have been more to do with the figure rules I was using at the time than the basic idea.
I suspect because of that experience it felt like you did the right thing not transferring the tabletop result back into the board game, although the context is different and modern rules may be more amenable to such results transfer.
One of the things I was never sure I got right was the transfer of points from the map game to unit numbers and strengths on the tabletop and vice versa. Reducing the number of units to reflect map losses may tend to produce stronger units that can do more on the table than their counterparts on the counter in the map game could. Lots of smaller brittle units may shatter faster and be less useful than a few full strength units.
Table sizes may tend to favour the latter over the former however, apart from the frustration of not being able to do much with units teetering on the brink of collapse. It didn’t seem to bother your outcome though so again it may have been the rules I was using (or my prejudices about who could do what!).
Great read again.28/05/2023 at 19:36 in reply to: 10 years of blogging #186697
Good post Norm and congratulations on the 10th anniversary.
(I worked out why I was made to be anonymous when commenting, and am now in full stalker mode! Thanks for the hint.)22/05/2023 at 00:26 in reply to: Visited partizan (UK) show today – may 2023 #186423
Thanks for that Norm, lovely set of games and scales/sizes.19/05/2023 at 19:24 in reply to: Drones in games, how would you model them. #186372
I don’t find written orders, even if funnelled through a competent umpire, a useful mechanism for tabletop wargames. Too slow, too unwieldy and not appropriate to most of the games I play in any case. I am happy to allow the dice to represent the vagaries of real life combat. If I order a unit to
Hang on a tick…you’ve just given them a what? Carry on.
take and hold a hill…
I still don’t see drones as intrinsically different from meatbag units.
Pretty much agree
As ever, each to their own. It’s only toy soldiers after all.
Well, perhaps but some of us like the ‘war’ to be in the ‘wargaming’ as much as the ‘game’. If we make absolutely no attempt for our lead/plastic/resin people to behave a bit like their flesh and blood equivalents – for me that might be a fun game but it probably isn’t a ‘war’game.17/05/2023 at 14:06 in reply to: Drones in games, how would you model them. #186300
I don’t agree. Autonomy is autonomy, whether the autonomous behaviour is human or machine. One of the big things a commander has to do in real life — and this is the difference between extremes of Auftragstaktik and Befehlstaktik and all the possibilities in between — is to decide how much autonomy to grant to subordinates. .
Autonomy may be autonomy but in my first case of modelling drones’ actions in a manual wargame we are reducing complex, and possibly complicated, control of the drone to a simple mechanism like a card draw or a die roll. Unless the drone’s actions are our game focus, the most abstracted method possible is best to avoid buggering up the rest of the game. Does it attack? Does it press home in the face of return fire/EW suppression, does it hit/survive.
All of the complexities are rolled up into a usable if possibly erroneous model, much as electrical engineers do when they use a lumped element model to work with circuits rather than go through Maxwell’s field equations each time. The description doesn’t actually reflect what is really happening but the model produces a workable outcome near enough for jazz or wiring a car.
Using machine AI to model all the other actors in a command chain and their perceptions which act upon them to produce their actions is coming at the thing from the opposite end. Rather than using a die throw with a few modifiers to reflect situation – pinned, suppressed etc AI is being used to open up all those decision nodes at each level of command and fill them with many inputs. We are putting the complexity back in and using a million dollar answer to a ten cent question. Rather than representing the autonomy (or lack of it in Madman’s description) of the subordinates by rolling together all the inputs; cultural, formal command chain and situational into a simple output, it examine each and every input.
It feels like some of the games in the seventies which sought to track the path of every round fired.
It’s probably doable with even current AI but it seems to me the reverse of what modelling drones on a wargame table seeks to do. (unless of course you want to model the whole drone fighting thing in detail in which case you are using game AI to model battlefield AI behaviour and perhaps we can let the machines play wargames about machines and we can go and have a drink).16/05/2023 at 11:08 in reply to: From 1975 to Here: Hinchliffe ‘25’mm Resurrections -The Allies #186239
S&A Scenics are producing the Napoleonics and other post 1700 figures.
There is a contact page if you want to ask him any questions.
Lancashire Games are producing the pre-1700 ranges.
I have no idea what the relationship, if any, between the two is.16/05/2023 at 10:59 in reply to: Drones in games, how would you model them. #186238
Representing AI on the battlefield in a wargame is one set of problems. Using AI to play the C3 in a wargame is a whole other bag of spanners.
Computers were loudly touted in some quarters in the late eighties/early 90s as the way to ‘assist’ tabletop wargame rules and take the agony out of chart and factor flipping. Of course the computer could do the arithmetic faster and give you combat results in killed/wounded/shocked/incapacitate/frozen/run away detail for any size unit you cared to programme should you wish. You just spent ten times as long inputting the situation and what was happening on the table into the computer. Once you’d worked out a spatial reference for the units as well as their characteristics everyone jumped into the screen and never bothered coming back to the table. I know of at least one gamer who resisted that trend and still uses an assistance programme and swears it works well for him.
Those who stuck with toy soldiers mostly did the obvious and binned the charts and factors – sometimes binning the baby along with the soapy water, but producing slicker game play at least.
So AI for orders. Big old steam hammer to crack a smallish nut. If you are playing solo it might have a possible use I suppose. Given my interactions with Chat GPT and Bard so far I wouldn’t be seeking to replace Davout with either. Maybe not even Grouchy. Possibly Mack. Not sure the effort of training the AI model to your needs is worth the outcome.
AI might in fact be perfect for C3 rules in wargames given they are to limit Command and Control not facilitate it.15/05/2023 at 23:23 in reply to: Lincombe Barn Bristol Tabletop Sale 14 May 2023 #186219
Sorry to hear that Steve. It would have been nice to have a chat face to face.
Hope your finger is okay soon.15/05/2023 at 15:35 in reply to: Lincombe Barn Bristol Tabletop Sale 14 May 2023 #186207
My son came with me as muscle – books seem to get heavier as the years go on for some reason- and he manfully sat there during the morning but I didn’t think he could stay sane much longer listening to me wittering on about Soviet EW assets of the 1980s and why I wasn’t going to buy the 20mm British Bobbies someone had on sale for a very reasonable price.
So I took pity on him and we missed the games at the end. Sad for me, but a great relief for him. A few years ago he might have joined in – I had high hopes when he helped out on a few games – but Metallica, Slipknot and a dedication to thrashing a burgeoning collection of electric guitars has led him astray for now.
I still had a great time talking to people and seeing old faces.
Thanks to all at Lincombe Barn for a very enjoyable day out.15/05/2023 at 00:07 in reply to: A Bridge too Far Exeter wargame show 2023. #186170
Looks like it was a good time.
Sounds as if you had your umpiring skills tested as well! Gotta watch these Prussians!
Lovely game, it all hangs together so well.
Thanks for sharing Willz.14/05/2023 at 14:54 in reply to: Drones in games, how would you model them. #186162
People (San Jose State University for one, KTH Royal Institute of Technology – many others in less publicised institutions) are thinking about and working on long loiter solar powered UAV which can soar high and slowly lose height during the night and power up again during the day, theoretically indefinitely (as recce at the moment – obviously you’d have to rearm them if you ever got them efficient enough to carry weapons).13/05/2023 at 22:48 in reply to: Battle of Talavera: A Polemos Ruse de Guerre Refight #186153
Interesting to see you back on a big table. I find that I always want to run bigger battles but if playing solo it can get to be hard work remembering where I am when I am administering it all.
I’m sure I have fought Talavera, but a very long time ago. I can’t remember what rules we used – may have been Quarrie it was that far back – I know I don’t remember finishing the game. From memory everyone stayed well away from the town and seemed to obsess over the cerro at the other end of the field, but I can’t for the life of me remember why.
I do remember the Spaniards didn’t run away when they fired their first volley on day one.13/05/2023 at 14:29 in reply to: Today’s rant #186147
Think of it as a ‘Heritage Wargaming Experience’
(For an extra fiver they’ll wait 28 days and then send you the wrong figures because the ‘n’ and ‘m’ in the order numbers all look alike on the Banda sheet)
[This is a joke and is NO reflection on Bac Ninh, from whom I have never ordered but are no doubt caring and considerate retailers]13/05/2023 at 13:47 in reply to: Drones in games, how would you model them. #186144
I’m left with a sense of wonder (and possibly dread) that somewhere in MIT a team is designing (or has designed?) its way to producing one of the more unlikely types of AI to control (or not) autonomous drones in Auftragstaktik.
Artificial Narrow Intelligence may not be so bad I suppose, but perhaps not well suited to mission oriented decision making. AGI and ASI (Artificial General Intelligence and Artificial Super Intelligence) sound much more likely to succeed in that, but probably also intelligent enough to say ‘I don’t think so, I’ve got a better idea.’
Fortunately those appear to be a very long way off.
But if Auftragstaktik is to be more than the US tendency to mangle the concept into a more efficient set of orders rather than a more cultural approach to mission solving, that means an intelligent AI driving autonomous drones also appears to be a long way off.
Someone will bring out a version (some people say it is already being used) that looks as if it might teach itself how to fulfil its missions and may simulate some ability to learn what the mission might be. It very probably will be fooling some of the people some of the time and will fail spectacularly when left to its own devices. I think I prefer that to a genuinely autonomous drone that can be told to defeat the enemy in a certain area and go and successfully work out how to do that.
If we did achieve that, it sounds as if it might be much better at playing a wargame as well and perhaps the only answer is as Dr Falken’s Joshua works out, the way to win is not to play. I’m not sure I’m ready to give up wargaming just yet.12/05/2023 at 14:30 in reply to: Reporting on a campaign game – Wavre 1815 #186114
Great write up Norm!
This looks to have been a brilliantly immersive game for everyone concerned (and a lot of work for the Umpire!).
Dealing with the hindsight of everyone knowing (roughly at least) what is going on over at Mont St Jean/Belle Alliance is a problem but the VP changes seem to have worked to solve this. It does somewhat mean that the French have their options of strategic choice artificially limited (but in the light of Ney’s ear chewing after Quatre Bras/Ligny Grouchy did stick to the letter of his orders) and then the Prussians (not being told of the change in VPs) blinded to what may have been obvious to their actual counterparts. No matter – the greater picture was well served by the look of things.
Congratulations to all involved and thanks for such an enjoyable aar Norm.11/05/2023 at 13:32 in reply to: Drones in games, how would you model them. #186073
Yes, I think John had it right.
Worth noting that one reading of the RUSI piece suggests they tend to be throw away pieces of kit. There aren’t pilots involved so people tend to regard them as expendable assets. You do have to replace them however and if you read the RUSI article the attrition rate probably had significant effects on UAF performance at times.
The other things is – define your ‘drone’ – cheap quadcopter bodged from Amazon doing tactical recce, or multimillion fixed wing high flyer?11/05/2023 at 12:56 in reply to: Drones in games, how would you model them. #186070
‘Drones in games, how would you model them?’
Despite the importance of UAVs to remaining competitive, their attrition rates were extremely high. Of all UAVs used by the UAF in the first three phases of the war covered by this study, around 90% were destroyed. The average life expectancy of a quadcopter remained around three flights. The average life expectancy of a fixed-wing UAV was around six flights.
I like the (low tech) idea of having both (all) players sitting down with eyes at table level unless and until they launch or net into a feed from a drone. Then they can stand up and look but they need to throw on a dice to remain standing for the turn. If they fail – drone shot down and they sit again making decisions from the memory of where things were.
You can see why manufacturers like selling these, great income stream.
A related fun game might be a group of ‘cyber warfare’ manufacturers and software houses trying to flog their latest set of emperor’s clothes to the Pentagon – lots of room for lobbyists, Congresspersons and other Beltway shenanigans.09/05/2023 at 14:25 in reply to: Exeter Legionary 2023 is on for MAY 13TH 2023. #185986
Very nice Willz, I wish I could make it. Otherwise engaged on the Saturday unfortunately, using my wargaming pass to go to the Lincombe Barn Tabletop Sale on Sunday.
Hope its a great day in Exeter, looks like it will be.
I simply found it peculiar anyone would renew the domain name when the owner and all the mods have long ago rowed off to Hispaniola with their doubloons and left the hulk to the spam rats. Odd one.
Just checked the domain as it was the anniversary of when someone ‘on another site’ said it was going to die – just been renewed for another year. Full of juvenile spam bot crap. No sign of admin or mods. Odd way to spend cash.02/05/2023 at 16:40 in reply to: In defence of the workhorse rules #185778
I’m saying interpret the word as a the average person in the street would interpret the word. I don’t think it’s a complex concept to grasp.
You know you’ll get #3 in the list above if you do that, right?02/05/2023 at 16:26 in reply to: In defence of the workhorse rules #185774
Blimey, it’s true what they say about wargamers
Suave, debonair, handsome with a rapier like intellect you mean?
Yes, I get that a lot.02/05/2023 at 01:03 in reply to: In defence of the workhorse rules #185751
Thanks Ivan, that really was all I was after.
Now I know I’m not sure I do have anything that I think fits the bill. I play games that seem simple to play to me, (but obviously not all) but which definitely don’t feel unremarkable. If they didn’t produce what I wanted I’d ditch them and try some others or write my own.
I like your No End In Sight which don’t feel like a workhorse – they feel much more of a thoroughbred experience.01/05/2023 at 16:59 in reply to: In defence of the workhorse rules #185739
If we can’t take a phrase like workhorse and find a common understanding of the word, then agreement, consensus or otherwise is nigh on impossible when discussing the merits of individual sets of rules and their mechanisms.
I’d like a common understanding of the word, then I could find out if I agree or disagree with it.
I understand the concept in terms of mechanisms or rules but not the whole shebang.01/05/2023 at 14:57 in reply to: Exeter Legionary 2023 is on for MAY 13TH 2023. #185728
Tiny point – Charles Grant didn’t write the book ‘Charge!’ (or the rules in it). Young and Lawton.
Or ‘The War Game’ by Grant.30/04/2023 at 11:22 in reply to: In defence of the workhorse rules #185714
I think we had this difference of opinion on V&B before – I meant to ask, and never did – is it V&B Road to Glory’ you find too fiddly – with the slightly insane emphasis on skirmish tactics shoehorned into an Army level game with the brigade as the smallest unit?
Or is it the original as well?
And if so, what would you strip out to make it less ‘fiddly’? I still use it quite a lot and don’t normally have any problems but I’m always open to improvements.28/04/2023 at 21:20 in reply to: Wargame Designer Job Advert #185677
I thought that was our erstwhile Chancellor of the Exchequer at the top left of the ad for a moment. Scary thought.28/04/2023 at 21:13 in reply to: In defence of the workhorse rules #185676
Andy Callan came up with Dark Age Infantry Slog (which has been morphed into slightly more traditional game formats by various people) to make an interesting game of a period and warfare where the height of tactical sophistication is often portrayed as line up and hit each other.
I think it worked pretty well, but after a few games the gloss of the system wore through a little – not because it didn’t work at representing what it was trying to represent but because it did it so well that you yearned for a bit of unrealistic helicopter viewpoint and Bowman (or Clansman at the time of design) to contact the far end of the line. There was basically no manoeuvre and your influence once battle commenced was your hearth guard and the immediate neighbouring mobs (I don’t think you could dignify them with the name units).
I’m pretty sure it’s online somewhere – it will be in a Nugget but I’m pretty sure the early ones aren’t online – wait a min… Yes they are on the Wyre Forest site: DAIS
Players do like to feel they are controlling something though – possibly one of the reasons many of us like games, knowing that, unlike real life, our actions matter in them (bit of a jaded view I know).
I sold B17 Queen of the Skies (Avalon Hill version) after I’d played well short of my 25 missions. I decided I might as well flip a coin and see if I survived and spend the money on something life affirming like Stolichnaya or Black Bush.28/04/2023 at 14:41 in reply to: In defence of the workhorse rules #185643
John, I wish I’d posted the original thing I’d written – specifically the bit where I said I liked the concept of workhorse mechanisms vice rule sets. The same, or very similar, mechanisms turn up again and again doing good solid work whereas I find it difficult to reconcile the concept of a ‘workhorse set’ with how rule sets address the aim of enabling the recreation of particular periods of warfare.
As for DBA, I thought you might think I’d gone mad. When I saw it at COW prior to publication I loved it (and still do) but I was immediately struck by the idea it’s a great game but not necessarily the best representation of ancient battle. I just dug out my (rather fluffy) March 1990 copy and am struck by its neatness, brevity and simplicity. I have an uncomfortable feeling I may have been a little harsh.
It was certainly a ‘paradigm shift’ compared to what preceded it. The PIP mechanism was a great idea to limit command efficacy (perhaps not enough for an ancient battle) and I can see why it, in various disguises, has become one of those workhorse mechanisms.
The 12 elements each side, moving to contact and shuffling to base edge and corner to corner contact with no part element overlaps, all troops of a type being exactly the same just feels a little too stylised for me.
Although Phil rightly says that most wargamers (certainly then) placed too much emphasis on weapon differences, it still feels as if weapon and shield combinations still count for more than the character of the people behind them.
I like the fact casualties are not the determining factor of a long drawn out morale calculation like earlier WRG sets.
I suspect my main gripe is that ancient battles are intrinsically boring if done correctly. The command decisions are largely made in the alignment for battle and the main(only?) influence the commander retains once battle starts is in control of a small uncommitted reserve and his perception of the best time to release/lead them to victory is at best limited.
I remain unclear what a workhorse set of rules is but am ecstatic that workhorse mechanisms are a thing.
(I will now meditate for some days to consider other wargamerisms for your rage inducing delectation)28/04/2023 at 00:24 in reply to: In defence of the workhorse rules #185627
I confess to being completely confused by this concept.
‘Workhorse’ means someone or thing which does a lot of routine, boring work reliably without complaint. I don’t see how a rule set can do this .
Workaday perhaps makes sense – not special or interesting – rules which do a job but don’t enthuse you?
Or do you mean a ‘go to’ set that you know and like but which has no/few bells and whistles?
DBA was all bells and whistles when it came out (it still is – but it’s a good game with no resemblance to ancient warfare – which is why you can call the ‘units’ anything you like and the same stone paper scissors calculations work whether ancients, napoleonics or fantasy).
Nimitz sounds like it is a good game and possibly ‘elegant’ in achieving a fair amount of the feel of naval warfare without the mind crushing boredom of ticking off flotation boxes, damage points and checking to see if damage to your signal lamps have cut your comms to the fleet.
If however the definition of ‘workhorse’ is a set of rules that can cover warfare from Chariot era to Merkava (think about it) then there is no defence for them. Down with workhorses!25/04/2023 at 12:23 in reply to: Spaceship Terrain #185494
Pumice stone (for exfoliating). No the expensive stuff on ropes etc – get the cheap end of bin – these were/are 50p each. As is or spray painted and dry brushed.23/04/2023 at 12:44 in reply to: Bernard Coppens -RIP #185445
Dave, that wayback link doesn’t seem to work for me.
Is this any help?
1799-1815 L’Histoire autrement
[Coppens died 5.9.2020 – Site Web de Bernard Coppens]