Sunday, 29 December 2019

Happy Holidays!

Work in progress.....

Tanks, small maps, possibly OHW rules and a campaign? Nuff said at this stage, early days but it probably involves Russians and stuff.


Due to confluence of birthday and Christmas I have some books, hurrah!

Interesting translation from the Swedish, not yet certain how useful this is...

Lots of numbers in this one which will be useful, the main argument presented by the author is open to discussion though.

Game ideas in this one....

This one is a long felt want, great book following up the author's long ago Miniature Wargames articles which I still consider excellent references.

Plea for help!

I have developed a very strange (but perfectly legal!) interest in the US Army's weighted unit indices/weighted unit values methodology. I am, unfortunately, unable to find the declassified WEI/WUV I, II and II methodologies. Does anyone have access to these? They must be around somewhere. Please leave a comment if you have any info. Many thanks. 

Best Christmas read......

Norm has done an excellent job on his annual update, a nice read on Christmas Day or, of course, any other time!

Best wishes to everyone, hopefully 2020 will be a great year for all of us!

Monday, 18 November 2019

Long Road....Short Wait

I'm very excited to see how this new game from Flying Pig is coming on. A development from their Platoon Commander series, The Long Road is full on WW3 1985 style with a large number of linked scenarios. Due spring next year and definitely on my present list (I'll invent an extra birthday at the right moment!).

Research or drinking beer?

It is remarkable how in-depth research can appear to the uninitiated as sitting about drinking beer. Indeed, I have been researching very hard and am busy digging up some interesting modern tactical stuff. 

One great source is CALL (Centre for Army Lessons Learned). The 17-02 Newsletter (December 2016) is called "Decisive Action Training Environment at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Vol. XIV: Company-level Combined Arms Maneuver". At JRTC (Combat Training Center, Louisiana) the OPFOR is provided by 1st Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment who rough up in fine style all units put through the training routine. The hard lessons learned are fairly brutal as shown in this example:

How Can I Best Plan Where to Employ My Weapon Systems? infantry company was tasked with establishing a blocking position on a high-speed avenue of approach near Hilltop 95. The company commander was able to position key weapon systems far enough away from the blocking obstacle that they could be effective against the planned targets. One critical deduction missed was that these weapon systems had no line of sight due to vegetation. The enemy was able to move through the blocking position’s dead space and destroy the company.

Other lessons that are really interesting are:

  • Companies do not identify the ammunition consumption rate required to attain the doctrinal level of effect for a given task for a given time period (they don't brass up the target enough to suppress it effectively).
  • Platoons and squads do not forecast the impact of moving the ammunition to succeed in achieving the specified task ("ammunition weighs more in person than it does on paper" as it cogently explains).

  • And the real gold dust for all wargame designers is a table entitled: 
    Analog tool for commander’s reference in determining munitions requirements for a given task (i.e., enemy suppression). Basically this shows realistic ranges and fire suppression rates (effective range with a 50% probability of a hit):

    • small arms 200m against troops
    • .50 cal HMG 800m vs vehicles
    • 40mm GL 400m vs troops/vehicles
    • AT4 300m vs vehicles 
    The only weapons with a long reach deployed by infantry themselves are 60mm mortars and Javelin missiles.

    Wednesday, 6 November 2019

    Numbers, numbers and even more numbers...

    Bang on gunner! I reckon 47.5% chance of a hit after mods for stabilisation!
    I have been enjoying posts by top boffin Phil Dutre on his blog Wargame Mechanics. Not being a prof, and having missed negative binomial distribution in school (I forgot my PE kit, honest), I have to take the posts very slowly. Nevertheless, there is some great stuff here.

    One of the issues with many relatively simple mechanics is figuring out the parameters, what sort of results spread do I really want? This is the case for any rules where there is a roll to hit and the target is destroyed after an appropriate number of hits. Phil examines this issue in detail in his July post "1 hit for 10 damage, or 10 hits for 1 damage each?".

    I strongly recommend you read his post, which has graphs and lots of squiggly equations. However, I have simplified the core of his presentation down to this:

    1. What is the hit probability? You are shooting at a target and you hit on a score of 4, 5 or 6 on one d6. This gives 3 possible successes from 6 possible outcomes so 50% probability. 

    Note that if this was a d8 and the same hit number is used (4 or more) the probability of success is 62.5% (5 successful possible outcomes out of 8 possible outcomes). There is great potential for using different types of dice.

    2. How many hits can the target can take before destruction? Let's say 4 points of damage.

    3. How much damage is caused by one hit? Keep it simple and say one point of damage per hit.

    So how do we calculate the number of shots that are required to kill the target?

    Shots to kill = target damage points/(hit probability x damage per hit)

    In this scenario the shots to kill = 4/(3/6 x 1)

    Therefore shots to kill = 4/0.5 = 8

    This is easy peasie and you can set up an excel spreadsheet to work out the range of results with different parameters. 

    The more tricky issues to consider are the likely number of units shooting at the same target in one turn, the number of units and the number of turns in the game. This allows you to consider what sort of attrition rates you need to have a decent and exciting game in a useful number of turns.

    Lessons here are don't forget your kit when doing posh maths, don't drink beer and do hard sums and sometimes doing some proper maths rather than endless play testing will help with design decisions. I have, of course, learnt none of these but am continuing to aim to be a better person!

    Edit: Many thanks to everyone for helping me with my maths homework. Hopefully this is now correct!

    Tuesday, 5 November 2019

    Does size really matter....?

    Well, it obviously depends on how you are measuring it. Anyway, lets get back to toy soldiers!

    My pondering is around the question of how big is 10mm? I have done a survey on how these miniatures are described:

    • Victrix Games: 12mm or 1/144 (new WW2 range)
    • Plastic Soldier Co: 10mm or 1/144 (new NORTHAG range)
    • Pendraken: 10mm or 1/150
    • Cold War 84: 10mm or 1/144
    • Minifigs: 10/12mm or N gauge

    The Pendraken size description is interesting because their figures are 10mm but their vehicles are deliberately 1/150 for a good fit with other ranges. Also interesting is that Irregular's Bush Wars 10mm troops are made deliberately bigger to fit with other manufacturers 12mm ranges.

    As to what these descriptions really mean remains to be seen (in the flesh as it were). However, the maths seem to me to be this:

    1/144 ~ 13mm
    1/150 ~ 12mm
    1/160 ~ 11mm
    1/200 ~ 9mm

    In my view, the older you get the less size matters. As a youngster I found it impossible to use 1/300 and 1/285 troops together. Nowadays I couldn't even see them, let alone the difference. I suspect that the various scale descriptions will be pretty meaningless until we see the actual products and test what fits best together.

    As you can see from the picture above, the NORTHAG idea has strongly resonated with me. I have been revisiting many old war games including Mech War, NATO Divisional Commander (oh yes!) and several other games from the real Cold War. 

    Lots of ideas cooking once "Battle of Hue!" finally launches.

    Wednesday, 25 September 2019

    Normal service.....

    Well, not quite normal service but a tentative first post after a lot of frenetic activity. One thing has caught my eye recently, what appears to be the first sighting of the 10mm NORTHAG project coming to fruition. I think this is very exciting and I'm looking forward to seeing what it looks like, the indications are that it will not be a straight port of Battlegroup. I have a couple of ideas around this subject which I am mulling over quietly.

    I am making sure I don't jump off into another project before the current Hue game is completed, however, here are a couple of really interesting things:

    • Two Fat Lardies: The guys have kindly released a free PDF of their Blitzkrieg in the East supplement for their I Ain't Been Shot, Mum rules. You can find it here. No scenarios but plenty of great army list information.
    • Jozi's Tin Men: This blog covers a lot of things I really like. One recent set of house rules covers the use of Squad Hammer (from Nordic Weasel) for Hammers Slammers. You can find them here. If you can use Squad Hammer for sci-fi combat you can use it for modern combat.
    Lots of food for thought!

    Wednesday, 21 August 2019

    Feeling nervous......

    At this stage in the game design process I begin to panic! Hopefully it will go OK and I can return to less stressful blogging activities.

    Sunday, 21 July 2019

    We have drunk the enemy's beer.....

    Blogging has taken a back seat to the latest project, samples herewith. Things will be back to normal later in the summer once the mission is successfully completed.

    By the way, the enemy's beer is very nice....

    Sunday, 16 June 2019

    Next project.......


    BTR60 and BRDM2

    Some pictures of recently acquired 10mm Cold War vehicles from Butlers Printed Models. Very nice, if I say so myself! I did screw up the varnishing, lesson learnt for the future!

    One of the big advantages of printed vehicles is cost, a T64 from BPM comes in at £2.75 against £4.50 for Cold War (resin) or Minifigs (metal) examples. 

    I'm planning to cover US and Soviet forces, vehicles from BPM and troops from Cold War (Timecast). I may change my plans when PSC get underway with NORTHAG in 10mm though.

    I have also been tampering with :

    Nice to see this stirring up lots of interest.

    Saturday, 11 May 2019

    Simplicity, time for some FAQs

    "....and you Sir can FAQ off!"
    Thank you all for your questions and comments, all very much appreciated! I have prepared a set of consolidated FAQs which you can find here. I'll revise the rules later this month, just in case anyone has further thoughts.

    Wednesday, 8 May 2019

    Simplicity update.....

    I'm really pleased with the number of people who have given this game a try and provided feedback. Lovely to see the variety of styles and periods. The picture above is from Kaptain Kobold's blog showing his paper Liberation figures in action. 

    The Kaptain has also posed some questions:

    Q1: If I move a unit adjacent to an enemy unit, is it automatically assumed that I've charged? Or can I sit tight and opt to shoot when eligible.

    A1: Moving adjacent to an enemy unit counts as charging. Only a unit eligible to charge may enter a hex adjacent to an enemy unit. 

    Q2: Also I'm guessing that a unit unable to charge an enemy that finds itself adjacent to such an enemy can still shoot at them. 

    A2: Absolutely!

    Q3: If a unit is obliged to retreat but can't, what happens?

    A3: If required to retreat and the retreating unit is forced to: leave the map, enter a hex containing impassible terrain or a hex containing another unit, it must be eliminated and removed from the game. A tough outcome.

    Q4: Finally, it says that Light Infantry can interpenetrate friendly units. But with a move of only 1 hex it can't do this without exceeding its movement allowance. So how is this possible?

    A4: It is not possible! You are correct, as Light Infantry can only move 1 hex they cannot interpenetrate.   

    The longer story is that I tried to encompass dragoons in their mobile infantry role and light infantry in one set of rules. Ordinarily, I would give light infantry a two hex move (or move one and fire or vice versa). However, having dragoons in the same rules who can move two or dismount to fight, giving light infantry a two hex move looks a bit odd. Hence the issue in the rules. Good spot!

    Tuesday, 7 May 2019

    Simplicity in Hexes gets an airing!

    The latest post from Projects and Procrastination shows the game in action as per the Emperor's Balls campaign. Really nice!

    Also a great bit of period tweaking from Norm on his Battlefields and Warriors blog putting the campaign into 1065!

    I have posted the map files and a revised set of counters on the game page here.

    Monday, 6 May 2019

    Oh, I seem to have nearly invented....

    ....geomorphic maps! It is interesting that when you print out the OHW hex maps they seem to be nearly geomorphic. This gives me a few ideas! 

    I aim to have up on the game page the PNG files for the maps and a revised (improved) counter set in the next couple of days.

    Thursday, 2 May 2019

    What would happen if....?

    OHW Scenario 10

    So, what would happen if.......

    • You make a hex conversion of Simplicity in Practice
    • Use it for OHW scenarios
    • Decide to make some hex map versions of the scenarios
    • Make some counters so you can play it on the hex maps
    • Make up a stupid story to form a campaign background set in the 18th century
    • Design a ladder campaign
    Well, it is called The Emperors' Balls and you can find it here. A first go so comments and suggestions welcome!

    Tuesday, 16 April 2019

    A (very) small diversion.....

    I'm currently suffering from an abscess so my ability to do anything game related at the moment is very much limited. However, I have dug out a very old project and, having re-read it and made a couple of tweaks, it is ready to go.

    So, here is Simplicity in Hexes, an adaptation of Neil Thomas' Simplicity in Practice rules for use with his One-Hour Wargames scenarios. It is still subject to some further tweaking but views and comments most welcome as always.  

    Thursday, 28 February 2019

    Hibernating or what?

    The answer is "or what" rather than hibernating but the effect is very similar! As someone infamous once said "When I hear the B word I reach for my revolver!". Nuff said.....

    As to plans for this year, the fact that we are nearly in March means my planning is made much easier. Last year I only managed 20 or so posts and met none of my initial objectives. Not so much a lack of enthusiasm or effort, more that I was sidetracked on to the development and publication of Ramadi. Now that feedback has been received and digested it is pretty positive overall. A couple of glitches in the rules which I have sorted with FAQs and some very interesting thoughts on how the system might be developed.

    So, as to plans for this year....

    1. Stout Hearts: This is a Ramadi development into Normandy 1944, working version of the map as above. This tells the story (or allows you to live the story) of a British infantry battalion attack through difficult terrain against variable opposition. The design is going well having resolved a couple of tough issues, given that the scale is different and I have to make account of ranged fire combat.

    2. Hue: Not saying much about this yet but the battle for Hue is another excellent subject for solitaire urban combat.

    3. Steel, Steel, Steel: Again, another take on the Ramadi solitaire model but much larger scale covering the southern attack of the battle for Kursk. 

    Other interesting stuff.....

    There are a number of other areas to explore this year, as and when time permits:

    • Rebels and Patriots: I have this in mind to adapt to the Vendee campaign in revolutionary France. I wish I could find some 10mm (or 20mm even) peasants with scythes.
    • Lock n Load's World at War 85: This is on the verge of coming out via Kickstarter. One thing to look out for is the free starter pack (A Matter of Bridges) which looks like a great introduction to the system and is FREE. There is also a Nations at War starter kit which is also FREE!
    • Nordic Weasel Squad Hammer: Lots of activity on this front over the winter including a free (pay what you want I mean) Squad Hammer Core rule set. We are waiting to see if sales will trigger the issue of an open licence to make new versions. If this is granted then I can see myself having a field day with the system (a major distraction warning here!).
    • Butlers Printed Models: There has been a tidal wave of new stuff from BPM ( including a 6pdr Portee) so I'm planning on several purchases in random areas and periods as the year progresses.

    Lots of other ideas to pursue as things develop this year but there is so much uncertainty that who knows what will happen. Cheers all and belated happy new years all round!