Wargame Outcomes

The other day I was pondering the use of alternate methods of randomizing in Wargames. The usual method is to throw dice of course, be they the standard 6-sided dice (D6), average dice (faces of 233445), or one of the specials such as a 4-sided, 12-sided, 20-sided dice etc.

Dice rolls, regardless of the number of faces, usually provide three outcomes. Either I win, you win or it’s a tie. Three outcomes then had me thinking of using the old rock, paper, scissors (or the extended rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock) for outcome generation. Using rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock as the example (indeed, any number of odd combinations can be used) provides for one tie, two win and two loss outcomes per round.

With 5 possible outcomes, the Win 2, Lose 2, Tie one compares with rolling two 6-sided dice where ceteris paribus (OK, so I didn’t need to use the Latin term for “everything else being equal” but it does make this post sound a little more highbrow 😉) the outcomes are 15 wins, 15 losses and 6 ties.

20% ties on rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock compares with 16.7% using two dice, so ties are a little less likely using two dice. However, and here is where it gets interesting, using rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock does provide for a less random outcome as we try and second guess our opponents of their next hand gestures.

Time to ‘fess up. I have no idea where I am going with this thought, just that I am going somewhere or considering an alternative. I know there are some wargames where rock, paper, scissors is used to determine one-on-one hand-to-hand combat, but I am trying to think of a way to use in mass battles.

Mind you, rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock does not have the same satisfying sound as a handful of dice bouncing around the dice tray and spinning to a stop to reveal a brace of ones and twos when you only needed one six!

Modern Spearhead and Shako

I’ve been quiet for a while but then this Tweet from @Thewargamesroom

set my mind to thinking, especially when Keith noted that he played the game on a 3’x2′ table.

As I am space challenged currently, and as Keith noted that it worked well at that alternative scale, I thought should have a look for these rules and see if I could get some modern gaming in with myself.

The Spearhead and Modern Spearhead rules were written by Arty Conliffe. I searched for Modern Spearhead and found only one place that had them on their catalogue, however, On Matters Military, sold out in July 2020.

I then thought to give Amazon a try and searched for publications from Arty Conliffe. I came across this gem!

Wow! Just WOW!

I think I will go home tonight and carefully place my copy of Shako (and Shako II for that matter) in the vault and leave it there.

What other old rulesets have you run across that are currently for sale at ridiculous prices?

Big Ideas to Grow Historical Wargming

A few days ago I posted a link to a Little Wars video asking the question, Is Historical Wargaming Dying Out? I also added my thoughts to the question as well.

More power to the guys at Little Wars, they released a follow-on video offering some ideas and suggestions (five of them to be accurate) for growing tabletop wargaming.

The suggestions are all quite good and certainly may help to promote the game. The Gateway Product and Curated YouTube channels I think were excellent ideas. To attract those in the 20 to 35 age group, the approach really needs to be electronic to start with. For those in the 15 to 25 age group, the competition is tough as it is mobile phone based games along with XBox, Playstation and Nintendo.

I will admit that having worked in IT for more years than I care to remember, I like the tactile nature of tabletop gaming — research, painting, pushing figures around a table, two out of three parts are unrelated to my day job.

Anyhow, do have a look at the video and see of you can think of something to:

  1. promote the hobby
  2. attract new gamers

Right then, back out with the paintbrushes.

Roll sixes, stay safe, wash your hands!

Wargaming Dying Out?

The folks over at Little Wars TV posed the question, “Is Historical Wargaming Dying Out?” I know this is something that has been often discussed in the wargames press, in forums, at shows and when just sitting around and chatting at the club. The greying of the hobby is apparent from the results over a number of years from the Great Wargames Survey.

If you haven’t seen it already, have a look at the YouTube video below, produced by Little Wars TV.

This video spoke to a couple of US wargame “dignitaries” as well as many UK ones. The mix was rules writers, figure producers and so on and one of the premises was that there has been very little in the way of new rules releases from US rules writers, although the English rules producers have been having a field day over recent years.

Some lively debate has followed on Twitter about this. Some of it has suggested that the responses were biased. I don’t think that there was a deliberate bias, the guys just spoke to the folks they knew at a show in the US and via other arcane means of communications in the UK.

Storm of Steel Wargaming, in his YouTube channel also discussed this topic, offering an alternative view:

To the actual question posed, here are my thoughts, written here as it is too long for Twitter 🙂

The first thing to note is that the feeling of the future from the folks in the UK was positive. More figure ranges being produced in more scales, many more rules written and released and, apart from the current plagues, clubs well attended as are shows.

Compare that to the US where they make the point that apart from Sam Mustafa’s Honor series, there has been little in the realm of new rules releases. Most of the rules systems being played are, in fact, systems that were written many years ago.

I’m not sure that I would describe this as dying out, rather I think it is a product of the times and the way wargames are played in the two areas. With a couple of notable exceptions, clubs in the US tend to be few and far between with most gaming occurring in gamer’s homes. Shows are organised by the various societies and generally run for 2 to 4 days with game masters running games for the attendees, often running a game many rimes. The objective of the show is to play games. It seems sensible then to stick to rules that folks know for that reason.

In the UK, the shows are mainly for shopping, and looking at lots of eye candy. There may be wargames competitions on as well but the shows are generally one or two days maximum, and the largest, Salute, is a one day show with many traders and demonstrations games.

Europe also seems to have a healthy scene as well with large shows (Antwerp for example) as well as manufacturers and publishers. APAC also has a healthy scene, and wargamers in the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong seem on average younger than those grey heads in the UK and US.

Where are all the youngsters playing wargames? Mostly on their mobile phones, Play Stations or Xboxes, playing Mobile Legends or Fortnite. These gamers will age, and eventually at the ripe old age of 28 or so, their reactions will have slowed, the ability of their thumb to hit a key at about 200 times per second will have diminished and they will start to look for other entertainment.

Enter the recent spate of “all-in-one” sets. These are boxed sets and are new scales and warames periods with all the new items being released with rules, models/figures, and painting instructions in one box. Verily these are starter sets and like them or hate them, they do provide an entry for folks whose interest has been piqued. Cruel Seas, Black Seas, SPQR Victory at Sea and other Warlord games provide complete packs, an easy entry for new starters.

The wargame shows, once the Plague passes, provide a means of showcasing the hobby and these days, with YouTube channels, podcasts, not to mention books and magazines providing support for the new starter, I certainly think that while the future the future may look a little dim in the US at the moment, in the rest f the world it appears vibrant and bright.

PhilPost and Slingshot — Back to Work

They might look like plain envelopes to you, but to me they are a few night’s good reading!

PhilPost has re-started clearing its backlog, after the last Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) period in Metro Manila.

I did miss that MECQ as I was away in the provinces. I fact, I arrived in Pampanga in the morning on 2 August 2020. The prez came out in the evening of 2 August and noted a return to MECQ for Metro Manila for at least two weeks.

So, staying in Pampanga won out, see Work in Progress, On the Workbench — Nil, Nada, Nothing … although it was a little expensive and the bank account hemorrhaged for a couple of weeks but the burgers and beers were most relaxing.

Two issues of Slingshot await my return to Makati

I got back to Makati Saturday 22 August after a three week sojourn. BAck in the office Monday to see the last two issues of Slingshot on my desk. They were received into Makati Central Posit office in July. Interestingly, the May/June issue arrived AFTER the July/August issue. I should note that I am still waiting the arrival of the March/April issue.

I guess the backlog of mail and parcels etc is cleared from the bags nearest the door, and they are the ones that come in last.

Mind you, if you have any sort of interest in Ancient Wargaming, or Ancient military history for that matter, I do recommend the Society of Ancients. Slingshot is their journal and it does arrive regularly in the letterbox.

Right, time for a coffee and a little read!

 

Work in Progress, On the Workbench — Nil, Nada, Nothing

Random photo from the past (2017) and only because it is two weeks to the ‘ber season

And no, I am not doing the Santa bit again this year, leastwise not unless there is a damned good reason as in some past years.

So, what’s happening on the wargaming front. Well, certainly no painting currenrly, none at all so far this August.

On 2 August I slipped out of Manila for a week to check out rental properties and some other matters in the province of Pampanga, where I intend to move later this year when the lease on the Makati apartment expires. This has been helped by the New Normal of Work From Home.

On 2 August 2020, the President announced that Metro Manila (including Makati), as well as the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan and Rizal, were being placed back under Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine – more restrictive than the General Community Quarantine they had been under for the period previously.

Well wrapped up … plus hand sanitizer in the pocket

It didn’t take an intellectual genius to figure that life here would be a lot more relaxed and it would be possible at least to go to the pub and watch some Rugby (both codes) and Aussie Rules over a burger and a beer under the easier quarantine restrictions here (random burger photos below with the ring-in hoagie).  I decided to wait out the extra quarantine here.

Mind you, we are required here when out of the home to wear both a mask and a face shield these days. The face shield presents its own problems but the atmospheric effects on the specs when getting out of an air conditioned car are foggy in the extreme.

A one hour quick game from the Lardies

Downside, no painting. Upside, recent rule purchases and books were digital so I have been working on that wonderful wargaming task … the planning session. I will admit up front, I am trying to keep the planning based around items that I currently have in the lead pile, but you know how well that goes.

So, one of the plans is to start playing Too Fat Lardies’ “What a Tanker” using 6mm. If that works well, I may look at the addition of some 6mm sets for Chain of Command as well, as I have a surfeit of 6mm armour and infantry.

I’ve also been considering some small scale naval, remembering that the area I have for gaming is little more than 2 foot square. I have some 1/2400 scale ships of the Napoleonic Period in the lead pile and they may just fit that area nicely.

I am also thinking on concentrating on finishing one of the 6mm DBA sets … maybe the Punic Wars set, although that may lead me into purchasing additional figures to introduce Pyrrhus of Epirus into that set.

In addition, I took advantage of some attractive pricing at Pen and Sword books to purchase a few eBooks. I’ll get around to reading them this trip as well. Come to think of it, I have a chunk of book editing to do as well as the day job.

First cab off the rank though, will be to finish the first force of 2mm figures, after which, maybe What a Tanker, which gives me an excuse to paint buildings and tanks.

And then there will be a 100 km move of residence in the middle of all this. Ah, plenty to do!

The Great Wargaming Survey 2020!

It’s on again. The Great Wargaming Survey, 2020 Edition.

This is a survey that has become an annual event now and one where the number of respondents have been increasing each year. It focuses exclusively on tabletop miniature wargaming.

The survey only takes about fifteen minutes to complete and the results will, when published, I am sure, provide grist for the podcast and discussion group mills for many months into the future.

This is your chance to have a say and hey, what else are you going to do in the middle of the plague?

Wargame Soldier and Strategy will publish the result of the survey when it completes.  and as a sweetener for participation, there are prizes on offer, and in addition, a 20% discount coupon and a bunch of WSS articles, free of charge, upon completion.

The survey is running from now until 31 August 2020. I do recommend you spend the 15 minutes it takes to complete the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/T5H2LVP and add your voice to that of the wargame community at large.

Well that was the week that was — the next week!

So, we are now at the week after the week that was. The condo building has three more days quarantine to serve then should have its quarantine restrictions eased. The mega city that is Metro Manila has another week to go before the government decides on whether to ease, tighten, or leave the restrictions as they are. Some of the cities in Metro Manila are performing better in comparison to others but will the government set tighter restrictions for some cities over the others?

After watching Kesari last week I have avoided rushing off and building a Sikh force for the Pehawar project … just!

I was able to work back in the office from Tuesday which was great. I am slowly cleaning my stuff out of the office in preparation for my exit from SOFGEN at the end of next week. Four more work days, then I think I will take a couple of weeks with my feet up, then full on looking for more work … if you know anyone who wants an old fat project manager, CIO, country head or similar, I am available!

The rules and the Army blocked up for the “press shot” 🙂

On the wargaming front, I completed the Anglo-Saxon DBA Army this time last week with the varnishing. Last Monday night I took the press shots of them (on the left and see 6mm Anglo-Saxons for DBA — 701-1016 CE). They are now waiting for me to get off my fat backside and paint up an opponent.

As for the middle eastern village buildings I was working on,  let me note that I have actually managed to do nothing at all on it this week.

It still looks exactly the same as the photograph below – in fact, it hasn’t moved at all on my painting/office table area thingy.

Plan is that today, I WILL finish these buildings. Some roofs, some windows darkened, a little sepia (maybe) wash and a dry brush and they will be finished.

I will then clean up the coffee table and my painting desk so I can do a couple of things. One is prepare the 2mm army for paint. Second is to sort books that arrived in the last nine months in a read/unread stack. Then I want to lay out some board games for a few solo games. Lastly I will need some space for a new laptop. My old one (now 5 years old) is giving me problems with the power supply – but it is probably a good time to get a new one.

So, a week when not so much has happened but hopefully ready to springboard into my last week at SOFGEN, then a couple of weeks of relaxation. Of course, the prospect of spending quality time by a pool with a hollowed out pineapple, a rum based drink in it and a fruit salad hanging off the side with an umbrella to reduce evaporation, well, in the middle of a pandemic, that may be hard to arrange but we will have a little period of relaxing.

Right then, where are my brushes?


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Painting Sea Bases (and some ships)

I put together some images of setting sea bases underneath 1/3000 scale model ships. I did dry brush rather more heavily then intended on one pass but overall, the information is good for those preparing small scale model naval vessels.

I based this exercise on two French Armoured cruisers from the early 20th Century – the Ernest Renan and Jules Michelet. The models were sourced from Navwar. They are presented as images below. Click on the images for a expanded view.

The Ernest Renan – French Armoured Cruiser and the Navwar model

I should note as well that this was part of a presentation put together for the Virtual Wargames Club, one of my two connections to sense, relaxation and de-stressing in this increasingly stressful world.

The Jules Michelet – French Armoured Cruiser

Why two French cruisers from prior to World War I? I did toy with the idea of using a couple of battleships but given the choice of the excessive tumblehomes of the battleships compared with the multiple funnels of the cruisers, it was a tough choice. However, who doesn’t like all these funnels?

THe models (both sides) and the material for the masts

Clean up the models, add the masts using the TLAR (That Looks About Right) principle.

Preparing the models

Next we get down and dirty.

Getting messy fingers – making waves

For this step I keep a damp rag or some damp kitchen towel handy to wipe the fingers off. Makes it easier that way. Also, once done, the fingers wash off quite well in soap and water.

I then looked at painting just the water surface but decided to paint the vessels anyway as part of the process.

Painting part 1 – view from left to right

First step, undercoating and I had some brown undercoat from Vallejo I wanted to try. That was followed by covering ship and base with black, then in order:

  1. Dark Blue (Prussian Blue or similar)
  2. A middle shade of blue, applied as a kind of heavy dry-brush
  3. A light blue (in this case, something like a sky blue) also dry brushed a little less heavily
  4. A very thin wash of a light green – in this case, lime green but Citadel has some bright fluorescent greens that will work well. This wash, applied lightly and wet will give a hint of green phosphorescence when the base is finished

After painting the bases, a medium sea grey and black wash was added to the ships

Painting part 2 – view from left to right

Medium sea grey is now brushed over the vessel then the ships are painted with the various colours for the deck, corticene areas, and black in the area where the coaling occurs. Black on the funnels and masts and lastly, a light dry brushing of white on the water surface.

The final product – and two other variations on a sea base

The wakes are then painted on the final version for the two vessels (see the left most images) and voila, done! Some varnishing can be done with your favourite varnish.

The other two images are other variations of a similar process with the Dante Alighieri illustrating the lazy man version of the Sea Base.

I do trust you have enjoyed this how-to post.


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Well that was the week that was!

Well, that was the week that was. Monday was a normal day, well as normal as it can be under General Community Quarantine. Tuesday morning, however, things got interesting. There was a note on the wall of the condo elevator as I was walking to the office.  I didn’t read it until getting to the office. It noted that there was an active Covid-19 case identified in the condo. Letting my Admin Manager, know, I was instructed to:

  1. Go home
  2. Get a test to ensure I was negative, and
  3. That the office would be closed until after my test then a deep clean would be organised (I did wonder why the wait)

The specimen was collected when a doctor dropped around to the apartment and shoved a swab the length of my umbrella up each of my nostrils. Technically it does not hurt but my goodness don’t the tears half fall?

Result came back today, SARS-Cov-2 viral RNA NOT DETECTED.

Great, life can return to near normal and I can exit the Condo from time to time.

I still managed to work from home, uncomfortable as it was, finishing up a few things before my enforced retirement at the end of the month. I also worked on finishing up some wargaming things that had been hanging around. I also managed to catch a few movies on Amazon Prime and Netflix.

One that I really enjoyed was Kesari, a movie made in 2019 (IMDB Reference) which is based on the real story of the Battle of Saragarhi in which an force of 21 Sikhs fought against 10,000 Pathans in 1897.

The background story is based around Havildar Ishar Singh disobeying orders from his English officer and saving a Pathan woman from the local mullah and men. This was on the North-West Frontier in Tirah, about 20 miles from Chat, 40 miles from Peshawar. After that, Havilday Singh was sent to the outpost and then the Pathans decided to get restless.

Wikipedia notes about the battle:

The Battle of Saragarhi was fought before the Tirah Campaign on 12 September, 1897 between the British Raj and Afghan tribesmen. On 12 September 1897, estimated 12,000 – 24,000 Orakzai and Afridi tribesmen were seen near Gogra, at Samana Suk and round Saragarhi, cutting off Fort Gulistan from Fort Lockhart. The Afghans attacked the outpost of Saragarhi where thousands of Afghans swarmed and surrounded the fort, preparing to assault it. The soldiers in the fort, who were all Sikhs and led by Havildar Ishar Singh, chose to fight to the death, in what is considered by some military historians as one of history’s greatest last stands. The post was recaptured two days later by another British Indian contingent.

Well, according to the movie, 21 Sikhs and a Pathan cook.

The movie was brilliant, although without English dubbing. Still the subtitles were adequate for following the plot lines and once the Pathans attacked, it was not difficult to work out what was being yelled.

Best of all, the area the filming was in allowed me to get an idea of land form and colours on the North-West Frontier and therefore for my Peshawar project.

Over the rest of the week I worked on finishing the Anglo-Saxon 6mm DBA Army as well as the Middle Eastern Peshawar buildings (building progress photographed to the left).

The DBA Anglo-Saxons had the edges of the flags painted to remove the white edge and blend the flags in.

The Anglo-Saxons were then varnished with a spray matt varnish. The varnish is Liquitex Professional Matt Varnish an seems to have worked well. The army is shown on the right with the varnish drying.

The Liquitex Matt Varnish was the only spray varnish I could get from the local paint store. For gloss or satin, all I have are varnishes that require brushing on – perfect for ships, less so multiple figures on a base.

What’s next? Well tonight it is time for the Virtual Wargames Club (and tomorrow at 14:30 local time). After which, I will take some “press release” photos of the Anglo-Saxons, finish the Middle East village and then clean my painting table/office, as well as the  coffee table just over there to the right. I want to lay out a board game or two and have a play. In addition, I will also be looking for a new job more seriously as well as brushing up my COBOL skills and maybe learning ELM.

In the meantime, let me leave you with a little more of my movie recommendation (and in case you are wondering, in true Bollywood style, they did manage to weave two songs into the movie!