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  • Avatar photoMcLaddie

    My stock reply to people claiming to have years of experience doing a job is: “That’s all very well, but are you any good?”

    Ian and John:

    I appreciate your skepticism, very healthy, but I would have thought you’d ask about the research I spoke of, reference to which was called ‘vague.’ [Which it was]  I gave my experience to simply establish why I would ‘cringe’ and question Josh’s conclusions at all.

    Am I any good?  I taught for 15 years, at a correctional facility, then Social Science in high school and Community College. On the side during that time, I was training other teachers and Professors (UCBerkely among them) in using simulations in the class room. I designed and had several published by Simulation Games. That was the 1980s.  I then was a teacher trainer and regional executive for a national training corporation. In 1992, I formed my own company, Insights and Innovations. For the next 22 years I personally presented, designed programs, taught and trained over 600 school facilities in 20 states and Canada,  in 12 universities, 7 DOEs, with several training companies and presented at every major educational conference in the U.S. I worked with several educational labs, several teacher associations with both the AFT and NEA, as well as the Parent-Teacher Association. This is not counting those who worked with me.

    Was I any good?  A value judgement to be sure, but important to me, which is why I always had end of program evaluations.  I was obviously competent enough to stay in business for more than two decades until I retired.

    Best Regards,


    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    I was cruising threads, saw this and cringed.  Josh, with his personal book and on-line research, skewed it to cover a wide range of learning and tasks requiring many skills, when his research targeted learning a skill.

    Even ‘deconstructing’, ‘removing distractions’ or ‘self-correcting’ a single skill are skills.  [That is what teachers are doing for students with a lesson]  He has just enough information to be dangerous, and then goes on to prove it.  There is a vast world of learning between 10,000 hours practice to gain world-class expertise in playing an instrument and simply becoming proficient at a craft or SET of skills, let alone just a single skill.

    The learning research is very clear, which he smears over a whole raft of issues. For instance, to learn to play a musical instrument, you must have some concept of music. How long does it take a person to learn a new concept [‘Music’, ‘Democracy’, ‘baseball’ or ‘be considerate’] from introduction of the new idea, through practice to applying it in the real world by themselves?  Learning research says on average, 10 hours.

    Alone, it takes a person about 20 hours on average to learn how to juggle three balls efficiently–a set of several skills. With a good teacher: 15-30 minutes, because the teacher has done all the ‘deconstructing’, etc. etc. etc.

    It took Josh 20 ours of research and ‘deconstructing’ the skills along with practice, to learn to play one song on a ukulele with four cords. He implies that you can be proficient in speaking a language in the same amount of time at the beginning of the talk, even when putting the words ‘LEARNING A SKILL’ on the overhead.  Having taught learning research for over 30 years, as well as teaching and coaching myself, I just cringed at the kind of sloppy ‘pop’ science, misrepresentation and ‘happy thoughts’ he was selling.


    in reply to: Croats! #131267
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    Yep, gorgeous. I can’t imagine how they’d blend into the woods unless it’s autumn and low trees…

    in reply to: Military sci-fi book suggestions? #130720
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    Here’s the story:


    Thanks MR. B.   The movie sounds like a hoot. However, I know that other writers besides Heinlein refused to talk to Harry at one time or another, usually for the same reason.

    in reply to: Military sci-fi book suggestions? #130713
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    In fact, IIRC, Bill the Galactic Hero was written in response to it.

    Well, I know that Bill the Galactic Hero  was a satire on the whole Space Opera genre, but I can imagine that Starship Troopers could be the specific inspiration for such a response. It certainly did with the movie. ;-7

    in reply to: Military sci-fi book suggestions? #130703
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    While I’ve enjoyed a number of Heinlein’s novels, Starship Troopers is not one of them.  It is all philosophy and talk where not much happens. I still can’t understand it’s draw or why it is held up as one of his best.

    in reply to: Military sci-fi book suggestions? #130666
    Avatar photoMcLaddie


    For the oldies, but goodies, the Dorsai series by Gordon R Dickson, particcularly Tactics of Mistake and Dorsai are enjoyable. I tend to pull them out every year to re-read.  Ground and Space tactics do predominate both books…still a good yarn.

    The Forever War series and others by Joe Haldeman is still compelling. Joe Haldeman was a combat veteran and so was his wife [military nurse]. you can tell with his descriptions of combat, army life and the silliness that can happen in the Military. [He describes how his company received training for combat under mud and swamp conditions because of the world they were to invade…only the lakes and swamps were methane in -150 degree weather.]  The series also deals with the time dialation of Space travel.


    in reply to: Rick Priestley #130351
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    I missed that on comment in the book. I thought the sections on presenting and writing rules, and the language of design were very well done and valuable. The chapter on scale was frankly bizarre, and I at first thought the controversy was over that chapter.



    in reply to: Trolling my own self #128726
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    The real problem is: you can´t really simulate conflict/war. There are so many variables that´s it´s more or less impossible.


    Yes, all of war can’t be simulated…thanks goodness, but a great deal can be simuated even with all those many [even unknown] variables. All efforts to simulate dynamically any environment in the real world face innumerable variables.  It is much easier to simulate events.

    So, any simulation/wargame designer faces those uncountable variables.  So, how are they approached?

    1. Limit the scope of what is being simulated
    2. Determine through statistical analysis what happens how often.
    3. Determine which variables are important and which have minimal [rare] impact, again through statistical analysis.

    Here is an example. I have a friend who many years ago was researching what galaxies did when colliding. He had a software program which, with a few thousand pixels attempted to simulate two galaxies colliding on a black computer screen. Now, both galaxies would actually have billions of stars and planets, dust clouds etc. etc., all affecting the gravitation of any collision. Lots and lots of variables…far too many to program into the program even if he knew them all.  These galaxies were hunreds and thousands of light years away and hundreds of light years across. He didn’t even know about dark matter at this point.

    He simplified, where one pixel represented hundreds or thousands of individual stars, ignored all the rest as either part of the pixel count or lack importance in this case with this question.  He got the pixels to act like spiral galaxies and then had them collide.  The images he got allowed astronomers to identify galaxies that were colliding and had in the past… because the images matched up with the observable events.

    I can give an example from a wargame I am designing if you are interested.

    in reply to: Trolling my own self #128725
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    So even with deploying and moving as happened on the day, and with good luck on side, the side that won in real life, lost in the game.

    Bad rule design?

    Happy New Year Mike and everyone else. I haven’t had the time to sit down and comment until now.

    There are two types of simulations: Static and Dynamic.

    Static Simulations are movies [and movies are static simulations] The simulation recreates events. Play it a hundred times and you will get the same events and results every time. Everything is scripted…not much of a game.  What you describe until the die rolls is a Static Simulation.

    Dynamic Simulations create environments where the users [researcher or player] create the events, the narrative instead of a script. The chance events created by die rolls is part of creating that environment… the probability of X happening should mimic the probability of X happening in the real world…or whatever is being simulated.

    So, your set up is a bad ‘design’ because it mixes Static and Dynamic structures.  IF you were going to create a functional Static simulation, you wouldn’t roll dice, but instead resolve the combat etc. exactly the way it happened in the actual battle. [using the game parameters for combat etc.]

    Mixing efforts to recreate battlefield events with attempts to create a battlefield environment is bad simulation/wargame design. Neither a functional Static or Dynamic simulation is achieved… it is doomed to failure every time. Hence your problem with the Dice rolling [creating events] in what is a Static simulation of a scripted events.


    in reply to: Suvorov's Attack Columns #111137
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    Sorry to get back to you so late.  Thank you for that information. Great stuff and a big help in my research efforts.

    in reply to: Suvorov's Attack Columns #110802
    Avatar photoMcLaddie


    I have been following the thread with interest. Lots of great information on an otherwise part of the wars with very little available information.

    Your comment about using the third rank as skirmishers is something I can add to. As I understand it, it was common practice [French, Austrian, Prussian and British] to detach them by company/platoon with the file closer at the end in nominal command–something between 30-60 men depending. Each company section would have practiced separately and with other ‘sections’ from platoon third ranks. Each section would have one or more NCOs and a commanding officer for the entire group would have already been designated when and if the third rank was needed…regardless of how many of the third rank were sent out. Obviously, how well such deployments went depended on how well the infantry was practiced and comfortable with the process. Because of equalizing that often occurred, soldiers were often working closely with others that weren’t part of their parent section or platoon. It was always done by at least company because anything else created some awkwardness for the battalion in maneuvering.

    You gave a link to a diagram of how Suvorov/the early Russians deployed his/their troops:  

    From your description, I wasn’t sure whether this diagram above was showing a brigade deployment or two separate methods [divided along the vertical from the blue arrow at the top] left and right with no relationship between them. What am I missing?

    That link didn’t lead to the larger website [for me at least]. I would be very interested in the sources of the information you provided, particularly about the skirmishing about the above diagram and later when you wrote: “The skirmish screen could be formed from any type of troops.” I’m collecting information for a book.

    Best, Bill


    in reply to: 5th Hanoverian Brigade of 5th Division in 6mm #90645
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    Yes, well done.  I have always liked the dice holders for keeping score.

    in reply to: Historical gaming trend? #72913
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    Interesting thoughts from someone deep into the economy of the hobby.  The wants and preferences of gamers and what magazine articles and advertisements promote or display is a symbiotic relationship and they feed off one-another. But like any wheel turning on several spokes, shove in a stick and the spoke it hits and stops the wheel will seem to be the most important one.

    I think if there is a driving force behind this 28mm preference, the one with more power than the other ‘spokes’, it is the game designers and thus publishers. They create games that favor one type of figure or another. They make one size of figure more available with a wider selection. Any advertisement however wide-spread, magazine article or game at a convention or garage is going to be circumscribed by that.

    I chose to do the Spanish Civil War in 15mm. I would have been far better concerning availability, variety and support if I’d gone with 28mm.

    in reply to: Emotional Intelligence? #72060
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    So it is just humans being human and there isn’t much we can ‘do’ about it, apart from stand up for our own standards of acceptable behaviour to a degree we are comfortable with individually.

    I have to agree. Having been an educator, working with folks from many states, from politicians to parents, I don’t see any difference in the numbers of folks that can be disagreeable or the extent to which they practice that disagreement.  When I taught high school, the wargame club members were generally far more agreeable in their behaviors than the overall population of teenagers, but certainly not all of them.

    Emotional intelligence and social etiquette don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand, but I don’t see wargamers being any different from the general population in any regard.  Those with ASD  gravitate towards jigsaw puzzles too, but I don’t think that implies much of anything about those who like jigsaw puzzles.




    in reply to: Some thoughts about die roll modifiers #71618
    Avatar photoMcLaddie


    Yes, an interesting post/article. Would terrain be an inherent modifier, providing terrain characteristics much as unit morale classes do. Phil, your example of the hill advantage would seem to make terrain situational. I’m not sure that situation modifiers are ‘inherently’ better than inherent modifiers for decision-making. [excuse the pun…] For instance, Lance-armed cavalry are better for some situations than others… and often come with situational modifiers as well as inherent ones. [Being better against infantry squares than other light cavalry, for instance.]

    A agree with what you say about the purpose of the die roll modifier.

    “Mechanically, the purpose is clear: to increase or decrease the probability of a die roll succeeding, and affecting the outcome that is linked to the die roll.”

    But a more important factor to consider is whether the modifier affects the decisions made by the player. And yes, it can give a false feeling of realism.”

    While this last point can certainly be and is true with various games, I think it overlooks one other reason for modifiers, among other aspects of a game design: Anchoring detail that evokes the event for the players. Have two stand of figures touch, one with 8 factors, the other with 4, and roll a die to see which one wins is pretty abstract.  The same engagement as militia -2 meeting veterans +1, being up by +2 for outnumbering the veterans 2:1, but the veterans are up hill and the divisional commander is leading his veterans into battle, +2 and…. You get the idea.

    That isn’t the only way to infuse a game event with historical detail, but is certainly one that has been used and gamers seem to appreciate.

    “The former is – at least in my view – a much more important effect of die modifiers: do they steer the decisions made by the player?…I do think that the true purpose of modifiers should be to influence decision-making during the game.”

    I always get nervous when designers talk about ‘influencing the players’ or ‘steering the decisions’ made by the players. I would think the designer is laying out the environment the players are to make decisions in based on the real environment, and whatever influence that has on the player decisions is between the player and a well-crafted environment, not the designer attempting to ‘steer’ the player anywhere. That is just me. I want to leave the players to make of it what they want. [Terrain has X effect, period.] The environment of the game is all the restrictions or ‘guidance’ they need or probably want.  When you start steering the decisions of the players, where do you stop before you have a movie that has the same ending no matter how many times you play it? It may be semantics, but it does speak to designer thinking.

    Good point. Certainly, you want to limit the number of modifiers, if you want to use them at all, because too many does slow down the game, but more importantly, if the player can’t keep the number of modifiers in his head, he won’t be using them for decision-making unless he continually has to refer to the CRT or rules. That not only slows down the game play, but limits the players’ ‘flow of the decision-making’ which is the real flow of the game, in my opinion. We often see players simply forget rules or modifiers and never consider them because there are too many to keep in one’s head, particularly those that are only used one or twice in an entire game. Those are the ones that should be jettisoned first regardless of whether they are inherent or situational…

    Again, your post highlighted important design considerations.

    in reply to: Gareth Glover's Waterloo Archive vol2 #67749
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    Firstly: Paddy Griffith’s Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun had it right: pretty much everybody could and did skirmish (although the skill of the skimishers could naturally vary).

    I haven’t read Glover’s Waterloo Archives, but everything I have read indicates just that: everybody did skirmish but rarely noted it in AARs or memoirs. And that the skill of skirmishers could vary just as it could for formed infantry, cavalry and artillery.

    Squares were mobile to some degree, but from what I have seen any mobile square was actually two lines moving with columns on the sides closing the square where they could quickly stop and face out. That is the logic behind McDonald’s massive square at Wagram. Protect the flanks of his advance from Austrian Cavalry. Clausewitz stated that ‘fresh’ troops were important, and that a small unit of fresh troops could best a larger force in not fresh.

    The point about fire at the company level, I don’t know. Don’t have any real opinion on that one.

    I agree that those points are important ones for any Napoleonic rules.




    in reply to: Fast Play Rules? #67700
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    I doubt that any game designer would advertise his rules as ‘slow play’, but like books, that ‘fast’ can mean anything.  A book can be 150 pages and be a fast read, or 1050 pages and be a fast read because of the pace.  Obviously, the reader is done with the former long before he is done with the latter.  Unfortunately, like books, the number of pages in a rule book is not necessarily an indicator of how fast a game will play, either in hours or experienced pace.

    What indicators [other than playing the game, naturally] do folks have in gauging how ‘fast’ a game will play?


    in reply to: Morale in Twlight of the Sun King #67507
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    Yeah, that’s the funny thing about rolling two dice of the same type. You will get a classic bell curve for the probabilities every time. D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20.  All will produce the same bell curve on a probability graph.  The only difference is the spread of numbers depending on the size of the dice.

    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    I don’t think are relevant here because the change in modifier applies to all forces, regardless of nationality.  So the effect would have to be systemic in a given period, not contingent on the doctrine of individual nations.

    Well, then I guess such a ‘systemic’ difference wouldn’t be justified historically, unless there is evidence of it that I don’t see.  Any answer would have to start with the historical justification for systemic differences in ‘effectiveness’ in the first place.  Any awarding of modifiers at different levels of command/organization would have to be based on what the designer saw as ‘effectiveness’ differences in the first place.


    Avatar photoMcLaddie


    I think that would have to be considered on a unit to unit basis. I don’t think it will hold up generally. Too many exceptions. Here’s an example of that not being the case: Wellington’s well-know comment about British cavalry:

    “I considered our cavalry so inferior to the French from a want of order, that although I considered one of our squadrons a match for two French, yet I did not care to see four British opposed to four French, and still more so that as the numbers increased, and order (of course) became more necessary. They could gallop, but could not preserve their order.”

    He goes on to say that the British cavalry could maneuver somewhat as a brigade but not as a division, something he felt the French excelled at. So, Wellington saw British squadrons superior to French squadrons, but British cavalry brigades and divisions inferior.

    Several British comments run to the effect that the French were better skirmishers than the British, save for the 95th, but the French like Pelet felt the British had a better system than the French organizationally. [supporting the skirmish line and rotating the skirmish line through the reserves.] Obviously, this is all somewhat of a perspective thing, whose opinion of effectiveness you are viewing, and only British Napoleonic being considered.

    Overall, I think that it is difficult to make any generalized statements on ‘overall’ effectiveness when there are so many differences in operational needs at different levels of command/organization.

    I have the Polemos rules, but I haven’t played them, so I can’t really comment on them. There certainly could be differences assigned to armies depending on the level of command.  I think there could be an argument made for the French higher commands being superior to the Russians, for instance, but Russian battalions being somewhat superior in a head-to-head fight… though not so much in maneuver.






    in reply to: Firefly Board Game #45952
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    Wow, nearly 450 cards of various sorts.  Impressive.  Thanks for the display!  That isn’t a bad set of physical game equipment for @ $36. I also see that they already have an expansion set.


    in reply to: Firefly Board Game #45927
    Avatar photoMcLaddie


    That looks like a lot of cards, fake money etc.   How many cards would you say are included?


    in reply to: History and wargames #40173
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    I agree, which is why I was wondering about cross-genre/period elitism and snobbery, not if a game is a simulation or realistic.
    Just if people have had to endure other fellow gamers looking down on them as they play what is classed as fantasy (non historical.)


    I guess the question would be is such snobbery or elitism is more prevalent in our hobby than others.  I don’t think so. Tournament racquetball players can look down on the occasional player. A True Scale RC airplane modeler can look on those who only build and fly semi-scale planes.  The hardcore backpacker who hikes all summer in sandals can turn up his nose at the boot-clad backpacker who goes out maybe three or four times a year. I have seen them all. Those are snarky individuals.  However, elitism on a large scale across the wargaming community can be symptomatic of something else. In that previously mentioned wargaming site, the question was about the differences in wargame genres, but the discussion unsurprisingly led back to the very question you asked.

    So it is a question of whether the elitism simply involves snarky individuals [or groups] or whether it is a historical Wargaming attitude in general.

    If such snobbery is general, that can be for one or more reasons:

    1. The type of people attracted to historical gaming.
    2. The changes of who, what and why people are now involved in wargaming [Change can make folks grumpy in general]
    3. The lack of distinctions between genres, leading to any mildly different ‘type’ of wargame incursion [at a club, convention or…even weblist] creating a sense of possible loss or assimilation simply because no concrete distinctions are commonly recognized.

    I really doubt that it is the type of person attracted to our hobby, from the many folks I have met. The elitists are few. In general, I think it is a combination of 2 and 3, three being what makes the changes and ‘inclusion’ more threatening than simple change.

    My first experience with gamer snobbery was at my first convection and featured a historical gamer looking down on other historical gamers.  He was an officer in a fairly large gaming club that was sponsoring he convention with an interest in Napoleon and earlier.  For whatever reason, he found need to announce that WWII gamers weren’t real wargamers, and that anything with tanks should be excluded from the convention.

    Irishserb:  That is a good example of #3.  Why would he feel the need to make such a pronouncement and what could it gain him? He probably knew there were as many or more WWII treadhead than grognards. That could have been threatening… [That doesn’t mean the guy didn’t earn a label of ‘jerk’, of course.]

    When I started out wargaming in LA as a teenager I joined the Spartans International, boardgaming. I also joined a group of miniatures gamers. I was welcomed by both, but even though I was the only teenager in the miniatures group I never experienced the snobbery or elitism that I did in S.I. And that isn’t saying that most all of them were great guys.

    in reply to: History and wargames #40165
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

     I have no problem with fantasy at all, even “Historical” is a fantasy as even refighting an actual battle is make believe. Can the sources be totally trusted given that the winner writes the history books?

    On No:

    No source can be ‘totally trusted.’  That’s true for most disciplines or subjects of study that uses sources of any kind, including science.  And yeah, historical wargaming is make believe.  But then, so is every simulation ever made. They are fake, artificial, not the real thing.

    “‘Simulation’ is a broad term. But simulation is, by definition, pretending. All simulations are “tools that give you ersatz (as opposed to real) experience.”

    –Marc Prensky, Education and Training Simulator  “Interactive Pretending: An Overview of  Simulation.”                                                                                                                                                                                  Digital Game-based Learning  2007

    In other words, simply because all wargames are pretend doesn’t keep them from being simulations… if that is what is wanted.  No rule says that that a wargame has to be or should be. It’s all up to the designer and what the players want from their gaming experience in make-believe.  However, unless you believe that all history is fantasy, a historical wargame isn’t based on fantasy. It is modeling something else altogether.

    in reply to: History and wargames #40137
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    Every now and then I come across a topic, thread, status update, whatever; that talks about how wargaming encourages study of history, and that without understanding history you can’t ‘get’ wargames. Tosh I say, wargames can be fantasy too. You don’t have to study history to be a ‘proper’ wargamer.
    Wargaming is not the sole domain of the historical gamer.


    I would agree and haven’t really encountered those attitudes. I and my mates play historical, fantasy and all other sorts of wargames. [Recently played Axis & Allies WWI and had a great time.] Enjoy them all. We don’t play each one for the same reasons though. We go to the table for difference experiences besides just a good game.  If that was all we wanted, we’d play Qwerkle. A great game without all the paraphernalia, time requirements and controversy, and up to six can play and have teams if desired.

    Personally, I have no more expectations of a rules set than what the designer says the rules provide. It they are promoted as ‘historically accurate’ and providing the same challenges as those faced by the real commanders, that is what I expect from play. And I have reason to ask how that was achieved, not that the question is often answered. But there is no rule that says a ‘proper wargame’ has to provide such things.  The question would be what makes a set of rules a ‘proper wargame?’ And how does one make it ‘historical’, whether that constitutes simulating or not?


    in reply to: AAR Adrianople 378 AD #38218
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    Great-looking game. The shields on both sides are gorgeous. What do you like about Hail Caesar?  It’s been a while since I had ancient armies.  Don’t know the rules at all.

    in reply to: MDF buildings #38093
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    Many of them don’t require a lot of rework if you want something different. I like the way the wood takes ‘staining’ and still keeping the details, particularly brick and stone.  in any rate, they can be ‘tweaked’ to fit different periods and genres.



    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    TSTF Sudan.  Since the rules first came out. I can’t count that high.

    in reply to: MDF buildings #37790
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    Could be more work, depending. I had fun. I had these given to me at one time or another and never used them. Then when I wanted to get into the Spanish Civil War, I needed buildings.  So it was modify or buy.  I chose the cheaper avenue.   It is always a choice between ‘time’ and ‘money’.  Which are you going to spend?  What a choice.   *sigh*

    in reply to: MDF buildings #37786
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    Mike: I had some of my terrain out and remembered your question.  Here is 4Ground’s Cartshed turned into a cantina:


    in reply to: Colouring Mdf #37785
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    You might be better off using thinned out acrylics in washes depending on what kind of detail you are going for.  I’ve done that with sidewalks and building too.

    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    Impressive. I like the mix of railings and roofing.

    in reply to: MDF buildings #36951
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    Me too. Starting with the church and admin building I received as Xmas gifts.  They work very well for that. I have some other examples.

    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    There is a significant difference between trying to model actual tactical experience and writing a game.

    Is there? Around 1824 Prussian officer von Riesswitz tried to do the latter as a training platform. Many of the mainstays we see in our games like combat charts, dice and measuring sticks–among other things–were first used in his wargame.  He writes that he was surprised to find that the officers found his Kriegspiel “entertaining.”  The amount of trading designs back-and-forth between the Military and the wargame hobby over the last fifty years suggests that the differences, while real, may not be that significant… depending on the design and why you are playing it.


    Meanwhile,a game is supposed to be fun!

    Absolutely. I can’t imagine anyone arguing with that.  And wargames offer that in many different flavors rather than just vanilla.

    The art of writing a war game is to strike the balance between having a game that is fun for both players, whilst also giving an impression of tactics.

    Personally, I’d question whether there is a some ‘balance’ between a dichotomy of ‘fun’ and that ‘impression of tactics.’  Certainly those playing Kriegspiel today don’t see it.  Using historical tactics can’t be fun?  Or are historical wargames more fun without having to ‘balance’  them [i.e. reduce the fun]  with the ‘impression of tactics?’

    Richard Clarke does a great job describing how Chain of Command models small unit tactics employed during WWII.  It is more than a simple impression, it represents a convincing set of game dynamics.

    That is fun for a number of gamers, but not for everyone. There certainly are things that require that balance in a wargame design, but I question whether modeling historical tactics is the opposite of gaming fun requiring a designer to trim both for some ‘balance’.

    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    Tactical warfare is one of the very hardest things to simulate as there is so much chaos, randomness and human stress response. Even soldiers who have actually done it often can’t remember what happened, why, how or to who.

    I can imagine.  So the question is what–and how much–can be represented well with  a wargame. Or rather the question is what small part of reality the designer chose to capture and what huge part he didn’t. There are a number of things that CoC does well, even to modeling the chaos, randomness and stress of combat. All of it? Not by a long shot, but certainly some of it, particular points very well.  And I am glad that wargames don’t model everything.

    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    “Are we all kidding ourselves that any rule system can truly simulate anything resembling real warfare?”

    Anything?  That is painting with an extremely wide brush and is a statement that few if any military men would agree with.

    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    We’re kidding ourselves. The experience of war, like any other experience, contains so many variables, contingencies, so much immense detail each atom of which can explode from insignificance to decisive importance in a blink, that any attempt to simulate it automatically fails.


    That is only true if you try and simulate everything, every little atom.  The whole point of a simulation is to avoid having to ‘include it all’, and at times the purpose of which is to identify atoms that have more chance of exploding than others.  “The the want of a nail…” is true, but how often are nails lost with some significance?  It that sense, simulations are neither suggestions nor mimesis…at least the general definition.



    in reply to: a general question #36061
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    Personally, I think some misunderstandings about the relationships between the particulars, personalities and the macro-issues tend to obscure the reasons for the resulting military development.

    in reply to: Military Terms / Slang #36060
    Avatar photoMcLaddie

    I’m a little late with this, but here is British Army Slang during the Napoleonic Wars

      Against the sun:  Counter clock-wise

     a la Hussard (Hussar)  Rough it a la hussard.  Hussars were seen as scouts and dashing. Sleeping with their horse while on reconnaissance.  Calling some one a Hussar, meant they were willing to make do, forage, do dashing and dangerous assignments, while a la hussard(Fr.) was to make do, forage, and generally live off the land.

    Assembly: “To beat assembly” means to bring the unit together in marching order.  First beat, part of a unit, second beat, the whole unit.  ‘Assembly’ was used as slang. The mess is to gather for dinner, the officers could call out to their comrades, “Assembly” or “Beat to assembly.”

    Bamboozle   From Scottish bombase, to perplex or fool.  Probably picked up from Scottish troops.

    Barndook, Bundook:  Hindu words crept into the British army even before the Victorian era.  Barndook was the Hindu word for government-issue muskets. (The British pronounced the word several ways.)

     Bilk:  To cheat or swindle.  A navy term that crept into Army vocabulary

     Billet: Fr.  Many of the military terms have French origins.  At first a ticket for lodgings given to a soldier, particularly when lodged with private citizens. Billet came to mean the  assigned lodgings themselves, regardless of whether they were private lodgings to military..

     Birthday suit:  Amazingly, this originated in the 18th century British army.  Means to be naked.

     Biscuit-flipping range, bottle-throwing range:  About 25-30 yards. Often the range at that an officer would wait to call for a volley.  Came to mean anything dangerously close.  

     Bitch:  Used as a verb meaning to quit or surrender from fear.  This is besides the usual connotations.

     Black Bess / Brown Bess:  The soldiers’ name for the British army’s musket from about 1750 through the Napoleonic wars. Called Black or Brown because at different times the barrel would be chemically turned brown to the metal, or the stock black to match the ‘blued’ barrel. By the Napoleonic wars the practice had stopped, but the name remained.

     Blubber:  To cry uncontrollably.

     Bluff: A buxom female.  “She was Bluff.”

     Bobtail: Name given to women camp followers, particularly the loose ones.  Refers to one who flaunts her backside, often while marching.

     “boots” Youngest officer in a regimental mess, whose duty it was to ring the mess bell and tend the fire.

     Booty:  Military stores and goods seized legally during a time of war–originally. By 1809, most any items, military or not, seized legally or not, was referred to as booty.

     Brass Monkey: A brass container found on board ship or in artillery caissons that held shot. (artillery canister ammo)  Many references to the Brass Monkey and his balls were circulated. (“Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey”)

     Bringers-up: The file-closers. The NCOs responsible to see that the company line was straight and any stragglers were brought up into line.  Any soldier in charge of making sure that other soldiers were where they should be.

     Buckler:  The belt and brass buckle that went over the shoulder and held a sword scabbard at a soldier’s hip.

     Buff: Leather with the animal hair removed. Color of leather (a very light tan). Also refers to being naked or very tough like the leather.

     Bully:  Salt beef.  It also was used to refer to someone with a big mouth or a pimp or a tough in a unit. (One who would try intimidating other soldiers with his size or strength.)

     Bumfodder:  Anything used as toilet paper.

     Bunk: A plank where a soldier sleep, usually in a barracks.  Often covered with straw or built to stack the planks one on top another.  (Bunk beds.)

     Buzzard: A dim-witted person or someone afraid of everything.

     Canteen:  Fr. Cantine/ Sp. Cantina   Small shop or bar–also refers to water bottle or wooden flask carried by soldiers. Often the two meanings would be mixed in humorous ways.

     Cantonment: Unfortified camp area, or general area of rented/seized buildings for housing troops.

     Captain-General:  Commanding General of an army

     Captain-Lieutenant: A lieutenant holding a command usually given to a captain (A company or squadron.)

     Chamade: The drumbeat used to signal a meeting between officers of opposing armies. Generally used in reference to breaking up fights or making amends between friends.

     Cheerily, men!  An order to move quickly, with dispatch.

     Cheese or Bread toaster:  A straight sword, not a saber.

     Cheese paring: Petty theft or stealing from the mess supplies.

     Click:  A blow to the body or to grab something. (From the quick ‘click’ of a flinlock hammer coming down on the frizzen.)

     Clinkers/clinker:  Refers to the leg and wrist irons worn by prisoners,(any soldiers arrested for theft etc.) Thus anyone who would cheat or steal was a clinker.

     Cocksure: confident where there is danger.  A cocked weapon may not go off, or go off prematurely, though it shouldn’t.

     Coldcock: To knock unconscious.  Comes from either hitting someone with a pistol butt rather than shooting them or from cocking the pistol when there is no powder in the pan to fire the pistol/musket.

     Cocks up:  To die.  Several versions of the origins of this.

     Commissary: Any officer or group in charge of supplies for an army.

     Cooler:  A prison, or cold, unaffectionate woman.  From the sheds called coolers used to keep milk and meat cool.

     Corporal’s guard:  Any group of soldiers commanded by a corporal for a particular duty.  Often used in reference to a group of officers out drinking.

     Cozy dogs: Dogs figure often in army slang.  This refers to those who have found great billets, or have made their camp comfortable. The image is a dog curled up in front of a fire.

     Johnny Crapaud / John Toad:   Names given a French soldier.

     Creeper:  Name for body lice, or anyone with similar characteristics.

     Crow: To boast or to beat an opponent into submission. “Eat crow.”

     Crying out:  Deciding to leave the army.

     Dandy funk, Duff,  Slush,  Hasty pudding:   All are puddings made from stale biscuit, and any number of ingredients including slush(grease left from cooking) bits of meat, molasses and raisins and various vegetables. Either baked or boiled.

     Dead Soldier: Empty bottle of wine or liquor

     Diehard: Tough, one who stands their ground against the odds.  From Colonel John Inglis, who commanded the 57th Foot at Albuera. Told his unit to never surrender and to “die hard.”  They did: 75% losses. The regiment became known as the ‘Diehards.”

     Dock:  To deflower or ravish a woman

     Dogsbody:  Pudding made of vegetables (usually peas) boiled in a cloth sack. Also soldiers referred to any new junior officer as a “dogsbody”–shapeless and weak.

     Doff: Middle English: to remove.  To remove an article of clothing, usually a hat.

     Double Dutch:  Unintelligible, nonsense.

     Double time: Order to move at twice the rate.  If the unit was moving at 60 beats a minute (and steps.), double time would have them moving at 120 beats a minute.

     Draw the longbow: Tell a tall tale or be long-winded

     Dutch courage:  False courage induced by drinking. The Dutch were known to issue both sailors and soldiers liberal amounts of liquor before battle.

     Epaulette: The shoulder decoration denoting officers. Because it’s appearance reminded sailors of their mops, sailors referred to officers as “swabs.”  All sailors later became known as swabbies or swabs because they mopped the decks.

     Face a fence–top a rail–rasp a rail–skim a furrow: Horse racing/hunting references that meant to do well in difficult circumstances or to show a brave front or to just barely succeed.

     Fencible: A name for the Militia raised between 1793 and 1800.

     Fid: The twisted fuse inserted into a cannon’s vent to set off the powder.

     Fid of tobacco: A quid or plug of tobacco. Resembled a cannon fid.

     Field officer: Any officer commanding a regiment or below. Anyone holding the rank of Colonel or below.  A General officer were usually generals, but referred to anyone commanding a brigade or higher. Often included staff officers who were not in command themselves, but aides to commanding officers.

     File: The rows of men in ranks of two or more. In a two rank formation, each file would have two men in it.

     Filer:  To run away. Fr. Filer: to run, slip.  It was often expected that a common soldier would run, so the term ‘filer.’   However, it was often used as a really derogatory term for an officer that showed fear or ran away.

     Firemaster: The officer who mixed the gun powder for the unit or army.  It was also used to identify anyone that was socially in the center of a unit or a group of officers. Also refers to anyone essential to a unit’s functioning.

     First chop: the best, from the Chinese ‘chop’.  Came by way of India.

     First luff: 1st Lieutenant

     Flapper: Young duckling, or anyone, particularly young officers, without much experience or sense.

     Flash-in-the-pan:  Looks good, but no substance.  From a flintlock misfire. The powder in the pan ignites, but not the powder in the barrel. The gun looks like it should have fired, but didn’t.

     Fogey:  Term for experienced soldier.  Origin of “old fogey.”

     Forager/to forage: One who goes out to find feed for the animals and food for the troops from the surrounding countryside. Usually, by stealing/seizing it.  It also meant when troops would buy supplies from surrounding farms, but usually not.  The British were generally willing to give script for supplies.

     French leave: To leave the unit without permission. AWOL.

     Frizzen: The Piece of metal attached to the pan that the flint struck on a pistol or musket.  It was also slang for being mad, or excited or making love.(the sparks)  It was also used as a substitute for several swear words.

     Frog: French soldier.  Also used to describe the excessive lace on an officer’s uniform such as many French officers used. (Frogging)

     Furl: The act of folding a regimental standard.  Unfurl is unfolding it, letting fly in the wind. Term was also used for leaving, as in “Let’s furl our colors.”

     Gabardine: A very long gray overcoat made of coarse materials. Often worn by cavalrymen.

     Gall: To irritate or rub the wrong way.  Comes from the strong smell of gall, often smelled on the wounded.

     Give Chocolate:  a bitter, extensive chewing out, like unsweetened chocolate.

    Glory hole: Holding place for prisoners, the vent on a cannon or the flintlock pan hole.A reference to officer’s quarters, as well as sexual connotations. Could be referenced as someplace unattractive in a sarcastic way or as someplace very attractive.

    Going off half-cocked: When powder was put in the pan, the hammer had to be ‘half-cocked’ to do this.  It was assumed that the gun would not go off when half-cocked, but because of inferior materials did. The reference was to anyone doing something without thinking or unprepared, or unexpectedly..

    Grasshoppers:  French term for the 95th Rifles and their green uniforms.  It became a reference to all light infantry, especially those with green facings.

    Gunpowder tea:  Army-supplied tea that was very finely ground.  It looked like gunpowder and was difficult to strain out of the tea when poured.

    Hempen dogs:  The dogs that chase horses and carriages.  Anyone who treated horses and other animals badly was a hempen dog. Supply wagon drivers and some cavalry officers would be called this as a real insult.

    Hoist/ Hoisted by one’s own petard: Hoist is Fr. For lift up, and petard is a metal kettle filled with gunpowder used to blow up trenches and fort gates.  Literally, to be hoist by one’s own petard meant that your own bomb blew you up.  The slang meant that you were done in by your own plans or your plans backfired.

    Hors de combat: Fr. You were a battle casualty.

    Humbugging:  Humbug meant nonsense.  Humbugging was going around causing trouble or doing nonsensical things. “messing around.”

    If that don’t beat the Dutch:  The Dutch were seen as very resourceful, so the phrase meant that someone had done something amazingly clever.

    Irish pennant: The stray threads from a coat or pants. Any torn piece of clothing.  Generally, to see Irish pennants on the parade ground was not a good thing.

    Jawing tasks: Difficult and unimportant tasks, ones that everyone would want to talk their way out of, thus it is a ‘jawing task.’

    Jewing bag: Soldiers kept their sewing kit in a jewing bag.

    Jiggered up: Messed up. From navy slang, that found it’s way into the Army.

    Jock:  A Scottish soldier.

    John Company:  The right Honorable East India Company.  It had its own army.

    Jury rig:  Fixed so it would work, but not very well or the way it is supposed to.

     Keep your powder dry:  Reference to Oliver Cromwell’s comment to his troops in 1649 before attacking the Irish.  It means just that, but also to be prepared for anything.

     Keep your shirt on: Means to keep one’s temper under control.  It was common practice to take off one’s shirt before a fight, especially in boxing matches.

     King’s own: This originally refered to anything with the royal armory’s crown mark stamped on it, but also became part of the name of some regular foot regiments granted the title ‘Royal’ for outstanding service. All had dark blue facings as did the Foot Guards.

     Kit: The entire set of marching equipment for a soldier.

     Lick into shape: The lick of the cat was flogging. To lick into shape was a reference to beating them until they behaved.  Usually meant that the officer would spare on means to see that a unit or man would learn to do what they should.

     Litter: Any bed, or even straw on the floor.  Also referred to a stretcher for the wounded.

     Loggerhead:  Metal knob at the end of a pole, pike or flag pole.  Referred to someone as dense as a metal loggerhead: stupid or dull.  Coming to loggerheads meant that there was a fight on.

     Mind your Ps and Qs:  Reference to British sailors having a drinking quota in pints and quarts. Often said by the tavern or innkeeper.  Became a phrase to remind someone to be careful.

     Nip: To cheat or steal.  To go down to the tavern for a nip meant to steal a drink or two.

     Pale ale:  Soldier’s term for water.

     Parade: Sp. Parada, to prepare.  An assembly for military review or field exercises. A parade ground was the place this would take place, often a large field next to a barracks or cantonment.

     Pick a quarrel: A quarrel was a medieval crossbow bolt. To pick one was to prepare for a fight–The meaning of this phrase, to pick a fight.

     Pip: The number of buttons, stripes, or chevrons on an officer’s collar.

     Point-blank: Very close.  Point-blank is an artillery term referring to when a target is close enough that the barrel of the cannon is level to the ground, and does not need to be elevated to hit the target.

     Private / Gentleman of private means: Originally medieval, referring to a private or freeman as opposed to an office holder or officer. Private referred to any soldier that was not an officer, commissioned or non-commissioned. When a soldier was promoted to an officer, but did not have the education or background of a gentleman, the Gazette would note his commission by referring to him as a ‘gentleman of private means.’

     Prize Money: The army took prizes just like the navy. In the army it would be any material or equipment captured from the enemy. The army would pay the soldier or officer for the captured equipment.  Often, when art objects or money was captured by a regiment, the regimental agent would sell the ‘booty’ and the proceeds then were divided up between the officers and perhaps rank and file.

     Provost marshal: An officer appointed for an army or regiment to secure criminals, deserters, or to prevent any other kind of crime including plundering.  It was a temporary position that was shared by the unit or army officers, much like the officer of the day.

     Quintas: Typical (small) Spanish home usually taken over in groups to provide housing for soldiers. So there could be any number of quintas in a cantonment.

     Rank and file: All the soldiers that were not commissioned officers.  Officers were not positioned in the line with the privates, but outside and behind the line.

     Ramrod: The metal or wood rod that was used to ram the powder and ball down the barrel of a musket or pistol.  Anything that would be stiff and straight could be referred to as ‘ramrod straight’ or simply as a ramrod.

     Recruit: Any replacement to a company or squadron.  A new recruit was not necessarily recently enlisted, only new to the unit and replacing casualties.

     Review: Troop inspection, either to show off the troops or to ensure that the units were fit for service. Could be done anywhere.

     Sally: To go forth, to attack. The word comes from the small door in a fort wall, the sally port. Troops would charge out of this to counterattack besiegers.

     Sharpshooter: Gr. Scharffschutze or Schutzen.  The earlier practice with the Germans and British in the American Revolution was to pick the best shots in a company to go out and skirmish.  The German word became ‘sharpshooter’ in the British army, referring to anyone who was a good shot.

     Shot his bolt: He has nothing left. Another crossbow reference.

     Show a leg: This was a common phrase first used in the Navy.  In the navy, men were called to get up. If they had a woman in with them, the woman showed her leg and they got to stay in bed a little longer.  In the army it could have the same reference, but usually meant to get moving or to make a commitment one way or another.

     Sharpnal: Captain Henry Shrapnal invented a shell that would explode about fifty yards above the ground, showering soldiers with hundreds of pieces of metal from the shell.  During the Napoleonic Wars only the British had the shell. It was a state secret.

     Silent insolence/contempt:  This was a contemptuous look that someone would give a superior officers or NCO. It was a punishable offense.  Soldiers learned to look straight ahead with an expressionless face.  It became the expectation in the British army.

     Skyrocket Jack: Any artillery officer in charge of a battery of Congreve rockets.

     Soldier’s wind: A navy term about a wind that allows the ship to sail in just about any direction.  It was picked up as a reference to anything that would move a soldier along, from the image of being propelled by passing gas to an officer hurrying them along.

     Spike a gun:  A way to disable an enemy gun by driving a metal spike into the vent of a cannon.  The phrase was used to denote anything that stopped a person short like “She really spiked his gun.”  Of course, there were many ways to shade such phrases.

     Sutler: A civilian that followed regiments, selling needed goods to the soldiers and officers. A moving general store.  Many sutlers made fortunes providing supplies in the Peninsula to an army that was not being supplied by the British government.

     Touch off: Lighting the fuse on a cannon to fire it. (the vent is often called the touch hole.)  Used to mean leaving, getting drunk, or when someone was starting something.  “I will just touch off,” or “They touch off every now and again with claret.”

     Van:  The forward guard of an army. The leading troops, usually the best.  “He is leading the van,” or “They are in the van.”

     Wallop: to beat or defeat severely.  Originated with General Wallop, who at the orders of Henry VIII , carried out a violent raid on the French.



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