Forum Replies Created
I don’t think I’ve ever played a game with sim moves that has been a success.
Simultaneous movement depends foremost on the attitude and honesty of the players, not on the rules. Amongst gentlemen players , it works. Amongst cut-throat competition players, it doesn’t.
We have used the following to allow for flexibility:
- Players set out 50% of their force (measured in whatever scale you think is appropriate), using whatever method you like.
- On each player’s side, we have off-table “zones”. The first, immediately behind the table, is divided in left/centre/right. The second is a zone behind that, and is the “rear”.
- The other 50% of the troops are placed by the player in these off-table zones: left, centre, right and rear.
- During movement, a player can move his units in these zones: from the left/centre/right onto the table, from the left/centre/right back to the rear, or from the rear forwards to left/centre/right. No movement is possible between left/centre/right. Once a unit is on-table, it can never move back off-table.
- Advantage: you have flexibility to move troops around in your off-table zones before they enter the table. Mechanics-wise, we just use an A4 sheet of paper, quickly make a sketch of the off-table areas, and pencil in where each unit is. Since units move on the table sooner or later, the number of units becomes less and less and bookkeeping is kept to a minimum. It also creates the impression of having an army deployed in depth, with reserves coming on the table were and when needed.
- Disadvantage: not all the troops are on the table from the beginning, and you need some space to put the undeployed figures.
We found this was a good system to use on tables that don’t have much depth, and hence limit the possibilities for redeployment once the game started. You might to adjust the system a bit depending on scenario and movement rates etc.
(If I remember correctly, there was a Columbia Games card game about the ACW that used something similar, we drew inspiration from that).
I paint whatever I’m in the mood for. I usually have a number of things on my painting desk: a unit of 20 or so figures, some individuals, a building or two, some various figures that need repairing.
When I sit down to paint, I decide then and there what I want to do.
There’s one figure on my painting desk which has been sitting there, unfinished, for over 10 years.
Don’t you have access to a laser-cut workshop? So-called FabLabs are springing up all over …28/06/2017 at 20:09 in reply to: I'm a bad, bad, gamer. I don't enjoy reading rules… #65941
It’s not as if wargaming rules are rocket science. Nor will the gaming table explode when you do something wrong. So, I’m totally relaxed about the rules. But then, I belong to the school of thought that considers rules a set of guidelines, not a book of law.
My usual approach:
- read the rules for the first time, but only the sections you’ll think you need for a first game
- play a game – improvise as you go along
- read the rules again, see what you did wrong
- play a second …
By the third game, house modifications will start to creep in 😉
Video rules are just a waste of time. I agree they are too slow and boring.
Well, yes, you have to shorten the squares by the cosine of 30 degrees (0.87) to preserve the areas.
Hi Phil, forgive me, but I don’t understand what this means, can you explain?
You mentioned that a radius of x squares in an off-set grid looks lopsided. If you use squares, that is indeed the case. The reason is that with squares, the distance between two adjacent zig-zag squares is at an angle of 30 degrees with the rectangular grid, and hence is elongated by a factor 1/cosine(30 degrees). That causes a lopsided area. To correct for that, you should not use squares in an off-set grid, but rectangles with size ratio 1:0.87.
The effect is only visual, gameplay is not affected by this. It’s a similar effect as if you would use rectangles instead of squares in a regular square grid. The game mechanics work still the same, but visually, it looks as if the world is contracted along one dimension.
It’s not quite the same as hexagons, though. There are some differences, especially radius of x squares looks more lopsided than that of x hexagons.
Well, yes, you have to shorten the squares by the cosine of 30 degrees (0.87) to preserve the areas. But that has nothing to with the connectivity between adjacent squares.
There are some other differences as well. A line connecting the centre points of non-adjacent hexagons does not always pass through exactly the corresponding offset squares. Depending on your ruleset, this might or might not be an issue for line of sight calculations.
Offset squares have the same topology has a hexgrid, so the problem of diagonal movement is absent there.
do you mind if I add these ideas to the webpost?
The ESCI 8th Army guy sitting on a oil drum eating his lunch but shoving the spoon in his ear
Just looked him up, but he’s Revell, not ESCI! 😉
Or you could just google a map of the Sudan from 188o.
Or even a map of today. Google maps!
As far as mechanics are concerned, many rulesets are transferable between periods. Many scifi rules that focus on infantry firefights are modern rules in disguise. Change the chrome, and you’re good to go.
There are of course also rules in which mechanics and history are much more intertwined, these tend to be not transferable …
I’m in this hobby to be a storyteller and a world-builder, not a military commander.
Over the years, we have been migrating from ruleset to ruleset … preferences change over time.
Currently, we play Black Powder for Napoleonics and GNW, Hail Ceasar for Ancients, Dragon Rampant for Fantasy, house rules for ACW and Scifi and Nap6mm and Wild West, I am not even sure what we used for our last WW2 game …. Mostly it’s the host who decides what rules we play (we play at each other’s houses). If the host decides to try out something new, so be it.
As a rule of thumb, we want rules that can be summarized on a single A4, play fast, have enough historical flavour, and can conclude a game within 3 hours. Historical accuracy (whatever that is) is less important, good gameplay and interesting player decisions are the main factor. Some storytelling elements are preferable as well. Strict adherence to army lists are a thing of the past – the host decides on scenario and forces, and when players arrive, we usually dice to decide who takes what side. No more “my army of 3000pts vs your army of 3000 pts”. Our playing style is much more focused on the scenario rather than on a specific ruleset. The rules are there to support the game, not the other way around.
But there’s no right or wrong in this. Every player group is a little bubble in the wargaming universe, and has to converge to a playing style that that group is comfortable with.
Just to avoid any confusion: I am certainly not claiming close assault or firing from a distance are tactically the same sort of operations. I know a little bit too much about military tactics to put forward that sort of statement 😉
However, I do think that it is not always necessary to model them using different mechanics on the tabletop. As Martin has pointed out, you could use the same procedure, but with other modifiers for close range, as some rulesets do.
The difference in *wargaming* mechanics between firing and close combat is something that I think originated in the classic turn structure. When it’s my turn, I fire, and I can kill your figure, and you can’t do anything in return. But when we do close combat, both our figures are fighting, and I can kill you, but you can also kill me (or only one gets killed). Thus, a different mechanic is needed. This is very much present in early wargaming rules, and has not changed much since the days of Featherstone and Grant. But it is only a consequence of thinking about firing and close combat in terms of the turn structure. If you use a turn structure in which firing is resolved simultaneously (as an example, other examples are possible as well), do you still need different procedures for close combat and firing?
the dynamics of infantry close assault are very different to those of the firefight and might be better modelled by a different mechanic.
It depends on the scale of the game, of course, but I think people should think more about why you want a seperate melee and firing phase. It’s one of those things in wargaming that aren’t questioned enough 😉
The real question is, of course, whether you need “assault” rules at all. I would say a ruleset can work perfectly as well by limiting your combat rules to fire only, esp for modern periods (including WW2).
Another one in the series:
D20 = 21 – D20?
To introduce a lack of precision. A unit placed in a hex wouldn’t be ‘right there‘ but instead ‘somewhere around there‘; its facing would be any of 6 (or 12?) options (“I want them facing East.” “Fine, they might be…or they might not.“); and it would take one or three turns to move into a hex that would ‘normally’ be reached in two (- they could also go in the wrong direction).
Ok, but that is a very atypical use of hexes. Almost all gridded games use the grid to count distances and ranges. For positioining, a unit is in the hex, and the hex is the position of the unit. 1 on 1 mapping.
The effect you describe can also be used without a grid, perhaps even easier …
Firing arcs are one of those mechanisms that are avoidable in a ruleset if you want to.
E.g. If you allow a free orientation at the end of movement, is a fire arc really necessary?
You could also use a penalty for firing at two different targets in the same turn, thereby simulating the ‘cost’ for reorientation.
Another typical isse are flanks – you could mechanisms that give penalties when being attacked from two different sides, instead of worrying about flanks. In essence, this comes down to allowing dree reorientation when you receive the first attack, something that many rulesets also allow.
In our rules, if we use fire arcs, they are either 360, 180, or perhaps 90 degrees. Anything else is making things difficult for yourself.
I didn’t know the Croats used ‘:’ as a symbol for division. Do any other countries do this?
Of course. : is one of the standard symbols for division, ratios and scales.
I have to confess to not liking Hexon at all – while I love (love!) the overall look, as in the Gettysburg photo above, in practice I found them fiddly to assemble and quickly sold them off.
I like the Hexon system especially because they are easy to assemble 😉
But I do have a permanent table, with all Hexon paraphenelia close-by, so that helps. I specially ordered half-hexes as well, to fill up the gaps along the edges. And when I need my desert Hexon terrain, I simply put it on top of my permanent green terrain.
Before my Hexon terrain, I had a large amount of Geohex hexes. Now that was a pain to setup!
The whole hex is clearly defined as something i.e. a woods hex or a building hex. Whatever is in the hex is simply in the hex, location is not an issue (unless you make it so as Phil suggested for Line of Sight purposes – something that I would avidly avoid).
In our house rules, we have used both approaches (although not in the same game ;-)).
For larger-scale battles, using units, and in which 1 unit == 1 hex, then yes, the entire hex is one terrain type. Placement of the visuals (whether terrain, scenery, units) doesn’t matter within the hex.
But we have also used Kallistra hexes for skirmish games (e.g. Wild West shootist games). Movement and firing ranges are still counted in hexes, but since you typically play with single figures, you want a higher resolution detail for your terrain. Hence, individual placement of the figure inside the hex is important (behind the tree, behind the house, …), and LOS is traced from figure to figure.
BTW, here’s a typical Hexon setup I use:
My Hexon terrain was probably the most cost effective thing I ever bought
I am a big fan of hexes. Esp for miniature wargaming, I think hexes have gained significant popularity since the Kallistra terrain system was launched a little bit over 10 or 12 years ago. In any cases, gridded games have been a part of miniature wargames for over 50 years, just look at the games designed by Morschauer.
Hexes are only a game design factor, just as much as a ruler or dice are, and you have to consider the resulting game mechanics carefully for the chosen period, scale of figures, unit footprint size, etc. As with other game design elements, the hexes have to be part of a coherent gaming engine. Moreover, for miniature wargaming, the esthetics of hexes are important as well.
I won’t go into summing up all possible pros and cons of hexes (these have been debated to death already), but let me just mention some of the issues which are think are crucial in whether hexes do work with miniatures:
– what are the hexes used for? Movement and range are obvious, but perhaps line of sight is not? Esp in skirmish games using single figures, this is an important consideration. Decoupling los from the hexgrid allows to have a finer terrain resolution than the hexgrid.
– orientation and facing. Can be eliminated by using clever rules dealing with arcs of fire and flank attacks.
– Hex resolution. Irrespective of size of the gaming table, the hex size should be such that have a significant number of hexes along either dimension. The C&C boards measuring 9 by 13 hexes work because the gaming mechanics are designed for that type of playing area. But for a more general approach, as is traditional in miniature wargaming, a larger number of hexes is needed. A 6 by 4 table filled with kallistra hexes does the trick. Going to smaller table sizes, you should make your hexes smaller.
Anyway, saying that hexes equate a boardgame is a bit missing the point. Miniature wargaming is defined not by the lack of hexes or counters, but rather by the framework of having a generic set of rules, and using setups and scenarios independent from that set of rules (and of course the esthetic of having a nice gaming table, which is the whole point after all). It usually provides a much more open environment, rather than a boardgame, which is more often a closed environment. Playing a boardgame using the plastic figures in the box does not make that game a miniature wargame. It is simply is a boardgame with plastic playing pieces resembling toy soldiers 😉 I have seen C&C games in which gamers pick up the figures in a hex , squeezing them all together, and plopping them in the target hex in a big bunch, irrespective whether they would even stand upright. You would never see that in a miniature wargame. 😉
In order for it to be a fun game there should be some conflict, and that will only happen if something is contested, given I know what I have to do, then it should be obvious what they will be trying to do?
Perhaps. But the conflict can also be indirect. I might have objective A, you have objective B, but B can only be reached by negating A. It might not say so in the briefing.
Good scenarios do not always have to be able to declare a winner. Games can as well end in a tie, or victory for both sides, or even victory for the side who didn’t reach its initial objective. History has many examples of this.
The best scenarios are with intents defined for both sides – not the same as clear-cut objectives defined in rules terms. After the game, a short discussion and briefing usually reaches a decision on who has “won”. Not for all types of players though 😉
The problem really arises when combining elastic and exact measurements in the same game. E.g. I don’t mind if your movement isn’t measured too exactly, but if you then insist my firing distance is measured to the mm precisely to reach those same troops, then we have a problem. Same goes for firing back and forth. If you fire at my troops, and we conclude it’s possible (range and LOS), the shot is also possible in the reverse.
Grids (or implied grids such as used in Crossfire) solve many of these problems.
Also, some rules make it difficult for themselves. E.g. they insist troops are oriented properly, but when receiving a charge, you can turn to the enemy anyway. Or you can start movement in any direction you want. Then what’s the purpose of having exact orientations to start with … ?
Hi Phil, Are you still missing the following MW Missing issues of Miniature Wargames: 1-120, 122-148, 149-197, 199-202, 204-224, 237, 240, 248, 251, 252, 254, 255, 277, 281-311, 313-360 As I have a load of them somewhere so can go and check if you like
Yes.still missing them.
However, since I am located in Belgium, it might be unpractical to get them to me. Post is probably expensive. I usually arrange for a pick-up at CRISIS in Antwerp.
Not allowing premeasurements for actions that would happen only a turn later helps a lot. Keeps everyone guessing.
But if someone intentionally wants to take constant advantage of the inherent fuzzyness of wargaming measurements, you should address the player about it. It’s a player’s attitude problem, not a rules problem.
I agree it’s only a change in mechanic, and the outcome is mathematically identical. But the point I also wanted to make, if you look at a mechanic in a different way, it suddenly might open a string of possibilities into new mechanics.
I sort of like the idea of using skewers painted with random ranges, but have never implemented it myself …
Another nice side effect when using random ranges is that fuzzing over too exact movement measurements becomes obsolete. Depending on your preferences, this might (or might not) be a good thing.
For me, a good AAR should inspire the reader to setup a game himself. Narrative is the best way to achieve that. Nothing more boring than explaining game mechanics. That works well for people interested in that specific ruleset, but it is utterly boring for everybody else.
Not at all. Occasionally, we play the boardgame Carcassonne together. But I have to play in “social mode”, not in “cut-throat” mode as I would do with my regular gaming pals.
There are advantages to having different hobby interests when in a relationship 😉20/05/2017 at 17:57 in reply to: Question for Historians and Game Designers: Effectiveness at Different Levels #62351
I don’t think that scaling up effectiveness works at all.
In order to make 3 platoons work together and act as a battalion, you need more than just combined firepower. You need to know how to make them work together. That skill can be wildly different at all levels in a military organization, and can flatten out, or even reverse, underlying levels of effectiveness.
The higher up the chain you go, in the end, the only thing that counts are numbers. Whether your individual soldiers are more effective than the enemy’s individual soldiers is not much of an issue … It is an issue for the individual soldier, but it is not that much of an issue to win the war, although it might determine how fast you might win the war.
Indeed … when comparing die rolls that way, modifiers are not symmetric at all.
I should write another article about that 😉
BTW, I also included the first issue in my growing article index of wargaming magazines: http://snv-ttm.blogspot.be/p/wargames-magazine-database.html
As a gamer, I don’t expect anything, and I don’t actively seek out “support”. I find it creates too much stress if you feel compelled to always look for the latest clarifications and rules updates. I want to enjoy a game, not be in a perpetual state of asking myself “Am I using the correct rules?”.
Occasionally, when we play a game, we might have an issue we feel is important enough to find a more official clarification for. In that case, I might look for a FAQ or so online – for boardgames usually boardgamegeek. For miniature games, we never look anything up, we resolve the dispute ourselves.
But support in real-time (as in I ask a question today, I want an answer tomorrow)? No. Some games I play have been published several years, if not decades ago. It’s a bit silly to still expect the original publishers being available to “support” the game. On-line communities or archives are good enough.
A bit late, but anyway:
- A unit next to a building has discovered an excellent wine cellar. The spent the next x turns drinking wine and smoking cigars.
- Suddenly a strange contraption appears in the sky. Could this be one of these experimental flying machines we read about in the papers? Designated unit loses x turns, gazing into the sky.
- The closest enemy unit’s honorary colonel-in-chief is actually the king of our own country. We cannot attack them!
- Two officers, who still have an outstanding bet going back to their Oxford days, decide to have a horse race across the battlefield. X %chance one of them gets killed, causing a drop in morale.
- A machinegun (unreliable technology!) overheats and explodes.
- Officers from both sides decide to hold a polo game on the battlefield to show their gentlemen spirit. All hostilities are stopped, but units can still move.
“A set of rules” means different things to different wargamers. Even for the same wargamer, when evolving over time.
These days, I don’t care anymore about rulesets being “complete” or “supported” or “playtested”. I am interested in their original design ideas, and how I might use them in my own rules – which revolve around scenarios and story-telling elements. That also carries over in your expectations about a commercial product.
I guess it also strongly depends whether you consider a set of rules to be applicable in all possible situations during the game, or ratehr as a set of guidelines on how to play your own game.
But I do understand that if your wargaming is of the form “my 100pts warband vs your 100pts warband on randomly generated terrain”, you’re looking for something else in a ruleset than I do.
SciFi and Fantasy stories usually are about idealized people; the decisions they have to make are rather cartoonish in nature. Moreover, books and movies etc. focus on “interesting” characters rather than the “average joes”. Where are all the farmers, factory workers, clerks, … in those invented universes?
History is about real people that have to deal with real life, and have to make hard and very tough choices, especially during war times. That makes the distinction between “good” and “bad” very greyish.
In a number of European countries that were occupied during WW2, there still are varied opinions about various aspects of the collaboration, which by itself had many different shades of grey (political, economical, military, …).
Or take the Napoleonic era. Lots of pain and suffering, but also a much-needed shake-up of the ancien régime. Many European countries still trace a lot of their legislative structure to Napoleon, and in many respects, the Napoleonic way of organizing society, along with the spread of the ideals of the French revolution, was the start of the modern era.
I also remember the good old usenet days (rec.games.miniatures.historical …), back in the day when there were perhaps 10K people worldwide active on internet/eunet/bitnet/… , half of them working in computer science departments.
The internet has changed. In the same manner that it makes no sense to have 1 million people in the same bar, there is fragmentation in online discussion forums as well.
As for FB, I deactivated my account several years ago. I read through the user agreements and concluded FB is an unethical company I no longer wanted to support.
Might I miss out on some things? Sure. But let’s play some games instead.