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  • in reply to: I’m getting fired(and possibly arrested) #187898
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    I’d suggest talking to your Federation rep asap.

    In the meantime, your line is that you followed all protocols as laid down. Your initial debrief to line management, not Professional Standards is as follows:

    The safety of the public is the number one consideration in any policing action. However in a fast moving and confused hostage rescue operation it is regrettable but completely understandable that  collateral damage may occur. You were about to open fire at an armed suspect who was attempting to execute a hostage when the suspect pulled the hostage in front of themselves at the last second as you opened fired.

    Your immediate action, on assessing the situation safe, was to identify and offer assistance to the hostage. Regrettably you were unable to prevent their demise.

    You fully support your Bronze commander’s decision to enter the premises with no useful intelligence on numbers and disposition of suspects and hostages as it was a fast moving volatile situation. You feel that the order to ‘Clean house’ was less than clear however, and perhaps your team leader should have clarified the level of threat and the plan for ensuring hostage safety whilst arresting and neutralising the suspects  before entering the premises.

    You are certain that Silver Command was doing their best to coordinate the firearms strategy proposed by Bronze Command and offer the best intel available from cooperating teams and agencies to tactical units within the overall strategic framework. It is unfortunate that the urgency of the situation precluded contacting a keyholder with knowledge of the layout of the interior or plans of the building prior to the order to enter. The information that the suspects had intimated their intention to kill hostages at the slightest provocation may have led some to adopt a longer term; isolate, control and negotiate strategy. You are sure there were good reasons this was not done.

    Gold Command was undoubtedly on top of the situation.

    As a result you followed orders to ‘Clean house’.

    You regret the loss of life, especially the hostage and the dog.


    I reckon you can parlay that into a three month stand down from firearm duties, a retraining course and immediate return to the team thereafter.  You might even make Met Commissioner in a few years. Make sure you follow the official line in any enquiry, make no press statement as it is sub judice and keep a copy of the above statement somewhere nice and safe in a lawyer’s office strong room in case management need to refresh their memory as to why they are backing you in the Professional Standards enquiry.

    Good luck.

    in reply to: Seven Years War Squares? #187869
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    The Swiss at Rossbach were covering a retreat in ‘broken play’ against fast-moving swarms of Prussian cavalry. It was the right tool for those specific situations.

    I’ve heard of squares formed in earlier continental armies but only for very particular circumstances of retreating under pressure from cavalry and only in a very few instances.

    I couldn’t remember the name Rossbach when I wrote this, but that was one of the things I was thinking of. I’m pretty certain I never knew enough about tactical manoeuvre in the Russo Turkish War to have been thinking of that so thanks for the heads up.

    in reply to: Seven Years War Squares? #187865
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Apologies Vincent !

    Swiss/Austrian – easy mistake to make late at night for me.

    Proof read before posting!

    Someone was using ‘square’ in 1757 though.


    in reply to: Seven Years War Squares? #187858
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Thanks everyone. And apologies to Whirlwind for nicking his idea and running off with it for my own nefarious purposes.

    Chris – no problem, a trip around the buoy won’t do us any harm.

    Square – some of this probably depends on what we mean by square.

    I’m guessing a Schiltron á la NCS, was a square of sorts if we mean a pointy stick defensive infantry formation against cavalry (although with round corners I’m led to believe).

    The ‘real’ P&S period – 17th century.

    There were ‘squares’ but not the same ‘squares’ as used in Napoleonic warfare because they were based around pikes (although by the time these ‘squares’ were being formalised in manuals there were musket only units who seem to have had little trouble with cavalry).

    As the bayonet came into play through the end of the 17th century musketeers became their own pikemen, although some historians now think pike continued to be more widely used than previously thought, for longer into the eighteenth century.

    ‘Squares’ were being discussed as an infantry formation throughout this period and Parker claimed to have formulated manoeuvres to form ‘square’ from column in 1708. Talk continued through 1712, although Marlborough’s army seems not to have been recorded using them in major battles.

    That they had continued to be used or talked of being used is however evidenced by the Duke of Richmond’s 1757 comment about Mordaunt abandoning ‘squares’ among other ‘absurdities’.  But Vincent says the Austrians* were using them in the same year at Rossbach.

    In the 20 years after that the Seven Years War ended in 1763 and there was little other fighting in Europe. But an outbreak of military thought and manual writing resurrected the idea of the square in various forms from von Steuben onwards.

    Now this was before the demise of ‘professionalism’ and the advent of mass conscript hordes. The idea was sown however, an idea of a practise apparently regarded as ‘absurd’ yet  being used by Austrians in the same year. And it was taken up by theorists in the peaceful interim and then rapidly adopted in the field.

    Did the French revolutionary Schweinehaufen arrival on the field of battle prove so fast that those tactical opportunities presented themselves as the old order struggled to deploy? And then adopted the square in response to the new broken field deployment?

    It feels counterintuitive that unprofessionalism should shape the battle in such a way that a complicated drill manoeuvre emerged as the tactical answer among armies who were responding to the new warfare by deprofessionalising their military with citizen armies.

    But I may buy it as I can’t think of a better reason at the moment.

    So what does that do to Horse and Musket rules?

    Do we reflect a lack of need to form square prior to 1788ish and a compelling need to do so post French revolution until the breech loader? Is it a tweak to a whole period mechanism or a new set of rules for each subdivision? Does it constitute a ‘break point’ in rules writing? Or does it depend on the level of command/combat and therefore tactical abstraction being modelled?

    * edit: Swiss  not Austrian – mea culpa. Vincent had it right – thanks for the heads up Vincent.


    in reply to: Seven Years War Squares? #187792
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Undoubtedly – though a bit gnomic for me.

    Without going back that far it may (or may not) be worth noting that ‘The Abridgement of the English Military Discipline’ of 1676 makes provision for formation of solid squares of pike and hollow squares of pike for musketeers to shelter under and in.

    [Copy available at University of Michigan: An Abridgement of the English Military Discipline]

    Most musketeers were quite capable of dealing with cavalry on their own at this stage.

    Robert Parker discussed a method of forming square from the line of march in correspondence with Lt Col, Sterne then commanding the Royal Irish in lieu of Ingoldsby in 1708.

    Most of the time the infantry seem to have seen off cavalry during the WSS without the need to form square however. Officers kept writing about how to do it however, building on Parkers idea. Although it’s unclear if they ever did it in battle.

    By 1757 it was felt unnecessary for infantry to form square. The Duke of Richmond tells Lord George Lennox that General Mordaunt had abandoned such absurdities as squares etc. 9.9.1757 Bathurst Manuscripts p.681.

    Much of this is available in DESTRUCTIVE AND FORMIDABLE’: British infantry firepower, 1642 – 1765 Frontline Books 2014

    Guiber’s ‘Essai General de Tactique’ 1772 set a tone for change and by 1779 Baron von Steuben was advocating forming a solid square from close column in his Regulations for the Order and Discipline of Troops of the United States.

    Then we get into the familiar litany of Landeman 1788,  Dundas’ Principles…’ 1788, the French new drill regulations of 1791, then the British the regulations based on Dundas in 1792 and the Russians followed in 1796 and 97.

    The Austrians kept the 1769 regs.

    So there was obviously thought and experimentation and apparent rejection of it during the period 1708 – 57,  then a serious change of heart.

    Was it all geometry at the end of a line?

    in reply to: 3D printed coloured figures #187782
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Orc Diplomat perhaps?

    Middle Earth 70 Years on

    Middle Earth 75 Years on

    NB These will under no circumstances enhance your LoTR gaming but the 75 years on one may inspire a scenario?

    in reply to: Seven Years War Squares? #187770
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    I suspect the ACW and WWI high command attitudes to novel situations and other rank deaths is at least one and probably two, entirely different ball games!

    Sticking to the square business, my problem is actually not why people formed squares after they became obsolete but why they became de rigeur for infantry later in response to a tactical situation that did not seem to warrant it fifty years earlier.

    It feels like a solution to a problem that didn’t exist – yes cavalry did defeat infantry in the eighteenth century but more often than not they were seen off with fire from a steady line before contact occurred. Chris say the drill had not been developed but was that because they hadn’t physically worked it out? Or is it because it wasn’t a requirement as infantry were quite capable of seeing off cavalry now every man was a musketeer and a pikeman with the adoption of the bayonet?

    If you think about it the square does not change the head on dynamic. What it changes is the the psychology and possibly the all round protection of flanks a line does not give. Was it as simple as mobs not having confidence in their tactics? It would feel intuitively (often a wrong feeling I know) that if trained eighteenth century troops hadn’t developed the drill and the training to form square how much harder must it have been for Citoyen Carnot to do it? I can see Revolutionary French armies and later mass conscript responses from the European powers may not have been able to maintain a solid line across a battle front, but did the British change so significantly and what about the Ancien Regime armies of professional troops? Did they throw the tactical baby out with the bathwater because they were strategically outplayed by the French?


    in reply to: Seven Years War Squares? #187764
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Thanks Tony. I’ve read the Soviet Army story myself – no idea how true it is, but it sounds plausible.

    I used to go to a training stables in the Cotswolds occasionally and stand by the gallops (a friend owned a leg or something of one of the horses) and it is quite a visceral experience as thirty horses gallop past at full tilt – and you’re right the ground really does shake.

    I spent quite a lot of time as a youngster around horses – mostly acting as an unpaid groom to my cousin and her friends and helping build courses with my uncle. I watched lots of show jumping and eventing and watched hunts go past and they were all impressive, but being within a few feet of that number of beasts going past at speed at the gallops  made me appreciate you must have to be very confident that they won’t just crash through you if you are going to stand your ground.

    But why did Brits form square in the Napoleonic wars and not in the Seven Years War?

    And the French from 1805 to at least 1809 must have had many units incredibly well trained and experienced.

    I’ve heard of squares formed in earlier continental armies but only for very particular circumstances of retreating under pressure from cavalry and only in a very few instances.


    in reply to: Suffering 524 – Timeout errors #187762
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Response is a  bit slower than usual but no timeouts yet thankfully.

    in reply to: My diceless gaming system #187696
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Chris Engle formalised the idea into its 3 argument format and gave it the name. It did/could use dice as the umpire weighed the strength of arguments to decide whether the proposition the arguments supported would work. and rolled a dice against the chance he allocated to success or failure. It has since broadened and sometimes lost the formal 3 argument structure entirely -for the better in my opinion as it often rewarded adherence to the structure and formal debating skill rather than any military probability.

    Paddy Griffith had previously organised similar structured conversation wargames. His name for them was somewhat tongue in cheek –  Muggergames, because the umpire set up the scenario, forces and then left his ‘mugs’/players to discuss how and why and indeed what would happen next rather than tell them. They effectively built the game as they played it through consensus to meld their common knowledge, experience and analysis of the situation.

    The umpire was sometimes a ‘Plumpire’ – the ‘player umpire’ who ran the opposition forces, while the players were all on the same side, but often it was a minimal role.

    Paddy’s names were typical British self deprecating understatement and rather too twee to gain traction with players seeking a validation amongst a critical hobby and outside commentators who already thought wargamers a case of arrested development.

    Matrix gaming had a formality and rules ethos and a much more grandiose sounding name that was easier to sell.

    Fewer dice were used in a muggergame.

    There are descriptions of both in the Wargame Developments Handbook

    or a more in depth description of the Matrix Game here 

    Chris Engle has his own pages at Free Engle Matrix Games


    in reply to: why is modeling and painting part of the hobby #187636
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    The hobby is *miniature* wargaming, and collecting and painting miniatures is part of that.

    My hobby is ‘wargaming’ – I sometimes choose to use toy soldiers to pursue it, sometimes cardboard counters, sometimes maps and pens, sometimes one of, or a melange of, many other methods.

    ‘Miniature wargaming’ is just one small part of a much broader hobby, embrace it all.


    in reply to: why is modeling and painting part of the hobby #187491
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    An acquaintance of mine (not a producer or professional painter of wargame figures) suggested recently that he believed computing (more his field) and robotics would allow cheap machine painting of figures to be a realistic proposition within a short time if someone put sufficient money and energy into development. He believes most of the tech exists and just needs to be fused for this purpose.

    I wonder if that is not a more viable solution to your problem than 3d printing?

    (good luck with Aurore using pre coloured filaments!)

    in reply to: Editorial- Something Smells in Publishing #187413
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Sorry John. Just teasing.

    I fully understand your circumspection under the circumstances.

    Make mine a black coffee and it’s a deal.

    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    I wonder if it is manorial or seigneurial rents rather than taxes we are talking about?

    Burgage rents were usually related to the size of plot granted, but I don’t immediately see any advantage in building a smaller ground floor if you are being charged for the whole plot anyway. The freeholder or lord would lay out the plots for the burgesses to rent so he would have controlled frontage boundaries to allow for access. Jettying would get round that to an extent and protect lower storeys from weather.  Excessive jettying was fined and encroachment over another’s boundary prohibited.

    There were medieval English land taxes but they were related to the land not the building – Geld/Gafol, Carucage and they died out in the early 13thCentury when Royal taxation basis moved to personal property and movables in England.  Land tax as such didn’t come back in until the  late 17thCentury.

    Having spent an hour becoming increasingly depressed on the internet with ‘I heard it on the grapevine’ as my theme tune, I am becoming very suspicious of this story about taxation being at all associated with jettying. It has been ‘definitively’ linked to ‘a history teacher’, ‘Amsterdam tax laws’, ‘French tax laws’, ‘German building regulations’, general tax laws, and explained with allusion to Hearth Tax, Window Tax and Land Tax- all of which were very much post -medieval.

    Sorry Darkest Star – really not having a pop at you, but unless and until I track down a source I’m going with aesthetics, nicking a bit more space over the road, weather protection, effluent disposal and possibly improved stability through counterbalance on beam ends (over to you on that one I suspect!) as an explanation for jettying.

    Now about those interior door sizes… probably best to go with what works with your figures.

    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Darkest Star – the ‘Jettying’ of buildings has a lot of speculative explanations but I’m pretty sure in England at any rate it is unlikely to be related to taxation. I’m not aware that there was a building tax based on square footage of ground plan. Hearth tax and later window tax and various rents for unit ownership but not ground plan. I’m very happy to be proved wrong if someone can give me a primary source or even a reliable secondary hint.

    I’m not as certain about European medieval land taxation, but the main (only?) online source for this explanation of jettying in France I can find is a local guide book speculation which has even found its way into a Wikipedia page but without an original source.

    German medieval buildings – I’m going to have to hold my hands up and say I don’t know- there were so many local jurisdictions I wouldn’t know where to start – possibly in the Reichskammergericht records.

    Any sources for this theory in any jurisdiction?

    Or is it another Roman armour cleaning story?

    Sorry to hijack your building project thread Dan. The idea looks great.

    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Yeah, apologies for stating the obvious Dan- wasn’t trying to criticise.

    There are some significant differences between medieval buildings and late Tudor though. Chimneys for one. Chimneys appeared in the late 12th century in Europe but only in large, high status or institutional buildings – castles, palaces, Abbeys etc. for the most part. Most ordinary buildings, including most gentry and minor aristocratic ‘halls’, retained open hearths – smoke blackened roof beams a useful way of seeing if the building once had a double height main hall when later alterations introduced a first floor and a chimney – until the 16th or 17th century.

    Chimneys allowed the open hall to be filled in and  room heights to be reduced as they ducted smoke away – one of the reasons for the double height hall was to allow the smoke to gather and filter out at the top of the hall, allowing the people at ground level to breathe!

    Many of the buildings ceased being configured for defence as well, and doors and windows were widened and heightened during the later Elizabethan and Jacobean period as light and ease of movement in and out were prioritised over security.

    That is partly why I was trying to get my head around which period you wanted to build and which type of building.

    Looking forward to seeing the finished models!

    (Sorry to hear about your flood losses – I lost a lot of stuff in a storage facility fire some years ago – I wonder if that’s where my Brunskills went?)

    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    I wish you hadn’t asked this.

    I thought I would give you a quick precise answer but I’m pretty sure there isn’t one.

    First up – c1400-1500 not ‘Tudor’ (despite Henry VII’s accession in 1485)

    Most of what we see as Black and White half timbered buildings are mostly Jacobean vice Elizabethan or Medieval (some are medieval however).

    However – going for 1400 – 1500 houses as they appeared at that time:

    Do you mean the usual country house lord of the manor style half timber?  The wattle and daub is often actually lath and plaster – same idea but the laths are flat strips and give a flatter smoother wall/ceiling? Or do you want to include farms and small manor houses and/or town houses?

    Whichever – I can direct you to loads of plans and architectural comment on crucks and studded frame and beam sizes etc but not heights! Not as much about as I’d thought. Margaret Wood seems to prefer ‘lofty’ or ‘mean’ to measurement. Brunskill probably has measurements (it was his things after all) but I can’t find my copy. Have a look for a cheap copy of ‘Illustrated Handbook of Vernacular Architecture’ or ‘Traditional Buildings of Britain’ by R W(Ronald) Brunskill – second hand copies knocking about for under a fiver.

    2.9 metres seems a (relatively) standard height for normal rooms (whatever they are) but that is immediately overturned by any high status building which will have a double height main hall (often later spilt into two levels or otherwise renovated). Other rooms may be around the ‘standard’ height but I wouldn’t put too much money on it having worked in and visited many a long time ago.

    Town houses tended to be on ‘burgage plot’ widths  between one and two poles (roughly 5 and 10 metres) but note a Cheshire Pole was c24ft and a Pembroke Pole was c10 feet. National standardisation wasn’t a thing. Again Town houses tended to have floors around 2.9m but early upper floors tended to be slightly shorter – Stockport Market house was measured in a survey during ‘redevelopment’ in the 60s and the upper floors tended to be nearer 2 metres than 2.9.

    Doors – how big would you like them sir? The only actual measurement I can lay my hands on is for the door in the service end of the 14th century Baguley Hall in Cheshire which was/is(?) 7′ high by 4’6″ wide. But Baguley Hall was built in an area where Danish/Viking influence had been high and it is of a non-standard construction.

    I worked in one manor house and visited many others where front doors were 5 -6 feet wide and seven feet tall, with iron bound oak doors. Side and rear entrances were generally smaller – except where remaining service range doors were as large as the front to allow farm goods to be brought in to kitchens.

    Manor houses and high status farmhouses might have big doors inside as well – especially as entrances to high status rooms.

    Lower status farmhouses or ones that had been built earlier in a more defensive minded era had smaller and fewer exterior doors on the ground floor. Even modest farmhouses could have quite large and high ground floor halls (double height – so c5-6 metres) surviving from the era when the living was in one room or with a solar at one end. Other rooms were lower than standard and upper rooms could make even me stoop (5’9″).

    Town houses generally got bigger during your period as urban life grew but as frontages had been set, they went back and up. The jetty grew in popularity to grab a bit more space and contrary to the smaller as you go up theme in early upper stories, as suggested by the Stockport example, in some cases each storey got taller

    Chester Rows

    So no help at all really! Sorry.

    There was little standardisation and what there was (eg the Burgage plot) tended to depend on measurements with a common name but local interpretation. Castle  builders grew international reputations and could reproduce plans for similar style buildings but local builders had a local style dependent on tradition and local materials. Wood workers in Cheshire might all have a rule of thumb for how big a door would be and where the first supports for the first floor would go in, but it wouldn’t be the same as a Suffolk woodworker’s idea. They were roughly similar as they were building for the average human being and to fulfil the same requirements for shelter warmth and security. But there were quite a few ways of doing it.

    Best wishes for the scratchbuilding.

    Oh – just found this for London:

    Medieval and Tudor Houses in London

    Table 3: Documented storey heights in London, 1276-1466

    Floor                Date                Type of document       Height

    ground             1276                civic regulation            9ft

    ground             1310                contract                       10ft

    ground             1384                building lease              12ft

    ground             1410                contract                       10ft 6in

    ground             1466                civic regulation            8ft 6in

    first                  1384                building lease              10ft

    first                  1405                contract                       11ft

    first                  1410                contract                       9ft

    second             1384                building lease              7ft

    second             1405                contract                       9ft

    in reply to: discovered 6mm, and its blown my mind #187240
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    He posts some of them on here under another name. You are probably aware of his amazing Japanese armies and villages. His work on how ‘Renaissance’ Japanese armies were organised and work is fascinating and challenges the way we wargame a lot of this type of warfare. I suspect we do much the same with medieval European warfare.

    The whole thing looks immensely pretty and sounds as if it plays very well into the bargain.

    in reply to: The Accuracy of Contemporary Resources? #187212
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Interesting read, thanks.

    It is the fact they were the first things I found, an oasis in a desert as far as I was concerned c1974 that makes me so fond of them.

    I would probably have enjoyed the blog post more had I not struggled through the German and realised how much I have forgotten of the language before getting to the end and discovering it was already in English translation! Doh!

    in reply to: Villers-Bocage-ish & Villers-Bocagey #187171
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Good to see the Farquhar set getting more run outs. Kamfgruppe Salz indeed!

    Lovely set up.

    Echo what others said about infantry in the original WRG rules, I remember things bogging down considerably when we moved from unrealistic Eastern front tank fests to using infantry in western theatre post Normandy battles. The infantry rules feel more like skirmish level almost with rifle group and lmg teams acting as separate manoeuvre elements. I quite like Martin’s ‘treat them as sections’ approach. Transition to platoons may be stretching the rules a bit.

    One question – what’s a Pz IV M? I thought the series ended at J.


    in reply to: discovered 6mm, and its blown my mind #187020
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    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!

    in reply to: Should I strip? I would really rather not… #186933
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    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.

    in reply to: Editorial- Something Smells in Publishing #186853
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Wargaming’s great… 🙂

    No doubt.

    Any insights, as an editor, on the OP – the state of military history and wargames publishing? 

    in reply to: Editorial- Something Smells in Publishing #186848
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    I’m probably running a very old spell checker but it picked up

    ‘Proof reading? Spell check, moor often.’

    but loved

    ‘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.

    in reply to: Editorial- Something Smells in Publishing #186798
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    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.

    in reply to: Editorial- Something Smells in Publishing #186792
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    The lack of specifics left be lost for the authors intent.

    Is this a test?

    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    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.

    in reply to: Editorial- Something Smells in Publishing #186754
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    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!

    in reply to: Combined a boardgame and figures game 1862 #186738
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    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.

    in reply to: 10 years of blogging #186697
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    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.)

    in reply to: Visited partizan (UK) show today – may 2023 #186423
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Thanks for that Norm, lovely set of games and scales/sizes.

    in reply to: Drones in games, how would you model them. #186372
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    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.



    in reply to: Drones in games, how would you model them. #186300
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    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).

    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    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.


    in reply to: Drones in games, how would you model them. #186238
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    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.

    in reply to: Lincombe Barn Bristol Tabletop Sale 14 May 2023 #186219
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Sorry to hear that Steve. It would have been nice to have a chat face to face.

    Hope your finger is okay soon.



    in reply to: Lincombe Barn Bristol Tabletop Sale 14 May 2023 #186207
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Thanks Willz.

    I did.

    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.

    in reply to: A Bridge too Far Exeter wargame show 2023. #186170
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    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.


    in reply to: Drones in games, how would you model them. #186162
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    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).


    Avatar photoGuy Farrish

    Good refight.

    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.


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