Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Just to tempt you this September ... PS Connections UK 2016 was brilliant IMHO

A invitation to attend Connections UK 2017 (see below)
Check out the website to see if it rocks your boat ;)


Hi All,

Many thanks to everyone who completed the Connections UK 2016 feedback survey. Some comments are extracted below to encourage those still to put Connections UK 2017 in your diary:

  • “I have attended many conferences over the years. This is, perhaps, the only one I would describe as outstanding.”
  • “An excellent, thought provoking, and network-enabling event. I look forward to next year.”
  • “I came away having drunk from the most valuable fount of knowledge this side of the pond. The megagame was a great addition, which I enjoyed immensely. A fantastic quality of speakers and attendees made both presentations and networking thoroughly worthwhile. Roll on the 2017 edition!”
  • “An excellent conference that just gets better.”

We have listened to the points you raised. We can’t promulgate details because anonymity is important, but Connections UK 2017 will be 100% based on your feedback. The principal suggestions were:

  • Connections UK 2016 was generally what you wanted in terms of content, timings, frequency and location. Hence, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – just make it better!
  • You specifically asked for:
    • An update on how the UK military and Foreign Office use wargaming.
    • Time to network.
    • Another megagame.
    • A Games Fair and more hands-on sessions.
    • Worked examples of wargame design.
    • A short 101 for newcomers (only).
    • More hobby gaming and gamer involvement.
    • Presentations on wargaming in education.
    • Sessions on how to run Seminar and Matrix Games.
    • Ideas how to wargame Human Terrain.

Three comments from the Committee:

  1. While this e-mail has gone to 442 people, and Connections UK appears to be the largest gathering of wargaming professionals in the UK, we do not have any formal remit to progress wargaming. We will strive, along with Connections US, NL and Australia, to ‘Advance and Preserve the Art, Science and Application of Wargaming’. This accords with the vision of an ongoing high-level UK initiative, which is that: ‘Across Defence, Wargaming is understood and appreciated, widely and correctly applied, done well, and delivers tangible operational and business results.’ Whether via Connections UK, or a formal Defence body, it seems we are tantalisingly close to institutionalising wargaming.
  2. Several comments suggested that Seminar Wargames had been belittled at last year’s Conference. We were somewhat baffled by this as we all use, and promote, Seminar Games, so any derogatory inferences were entirely unintentional. There will be a plenary this year on Seminar and Matrix Games.
  3. The question was asked why we don’t devote more time to computer-only simulations.  While we all use computers, and argue that they are entirely complementary with manual simulations, we feel that computer simulation receives sufficient coverage elsewhere. If you want computer-based games you might be better served at ITEC/IITSEC conferences.  For the moment, Connections UK concentrates on manual simulations, high-engagement role-playing games, computer-assisted games and complementary approaches within the professional environment.

From the above, the general details, themes and broad structure for Connections UK 2017 are:

  • Connections UK Purpose. Advance and Preserve the Art, Science and Application of Wargaming.
  • Dates. Tuesday 5 – Thursday 7 September 2017.
  • Venue. Kings College London, The Strand, London, UK.
  • Approx cost. £60 (megagame/101 day) plus £135 for the two main days. This TBC but shouldn’t go up much, if at all.
  • Themes. These still to be refined, but broadly:
    • UK Tri-Service and FCO wargaming.
    • UK military wargaming doctrine.
    • Seminar and Matrix Games.
    • Hobby gaming.
    • Wargaming in education.
    • Modelling Human Terrain.
    • Designing wargames.
  • Broad structure. Something like:

Day 1. Tuesday 5 September
Wargaming 101
Informal gaming session
Day 2. Wednesday 6 September
UK military Tri-Service and FCO wargaming examples
Update on UK military wargaming doctrine
Seminar and Matrix Games
Current design ideas in hobby gaming
Games Fair session 1
Keynote speaker
Games Fair session 2
Day 3. Thursday 7 September
Wargaming in education
Modelling Human Terrain
Wargame design
Breakout workshops

Please note that there will be an earlier date for registration. We’ll let you know more details presently.



If this floats your boat why not give it a whirl

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Another Randomly Generated Simulating War FireMove Battlefield (Flipped)

Playing around with my new toy and generated the following default terrain. At first glance it looks poor for the German defender (see below):

However press the "flip" button and it suddenly becomes a defender' paradise (see below):

To my "game players" eyes this would be a "hard" task.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

FireMove Terrain Generator

Here is my first attempt at a simple Terrain Generator for the Fire and Movement game from Phil Sabin's Simulating War book. I took a basic version of the software to Connections UK 2016 (see below, no more do you need to spend all that time rolling forty eight pairs of d6's to generate a random 2D battlefield):

Note: I have gone for a basic home-spun (retro) 'make-it-yourself" feel that does a basic job for the wargamer, hence the off-set squares instead of hexes. A cheap trick picked up from Naval Wargaming  without a plentiful supply of hex paper to hand (I should say before the era of desk-top publishing but that would accurately age me somewhat). It runs in a browser with a mixture of HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. Something that a second year (or someone just having completing their first year with good web-grades) Computer Science graduate could do.

PS: I hope to distribute the code on a MIT Open Source Licence via Phil Sabin's web-site in the near future,

Monday, 13 February 2017

SimWar FireMove "Lost Battle of 2016" (Part III)

The first glimmer of hope/success for the British Commander as the "close assaults" go in and after fierce hand-to-hand fighting two German Platoons are removed (see below, the low hills [top left] and central plain [bottom right] are cleared, the Germans are down to 66%):

Just as the momentum started to seemingly shift towards the British, accurate defensive fire and further ammunition depletion strikes the British Battalion, taking it down to four infantry platoons (33%). Regardless of sustained losses so far the British Infantry push to their last to gain a final round of "close combat" (see below):  

A last gasp of (round twelve - German only activity) combat sees one more British Platoon fall. The German defensive line has been barely scratched in all honesty 75% British Casualties (admittedly not all KIA and wounded, it represents ammo depletion and disruption to unit cohesiveness) to German 33% looses (see below, German VP 9, British VP 2, a difference of 7 VP to the Germans a significant victory):

Darn! I thought I was getting the hang of this game. In hindsight the terrain was unforgiving and I was "fighting everywhere" instead of a specific localised area where I held local superiority. It was all part of a learning curve but from what I have learned since you had best apply the British Army philosophy of basing your attack on the "seven questions". In short my plan played into the strengths of the German player. In the amended rules Philip Sabin has introduced a bidding system (letting the Artillery Barrage be decremented down in power [starting at 4], with the lowest bidder becoming the attacker.


Game over and some things to think about ... in particular the amount of time it takes to generate the terrain (at least 15 minutes of frantic dice rolling, 48 pairs of dice at that). Yes I have a computer programme for that now and it is time to share (which this Blog for a later post/link). Further it still seems 'hard to attack', but maybe that is because I am not doing it right or perhaps attacking is hard. Also is the terrain truly representational. A soldier said to me "where are the roads"  and all I could say was "Er, there kind of abstracted", to which I was met with a quizzical look of bewilderment. To which he said "Look, there are always paths, if not roads." He also brought me back to the "seven questions" and said "Why am I fighting here, I would like to fight where the enemy does not have such a continuous front?"

Four great sources for analysis of the British Army "seven questions" (note see slide 2 in the first presentation) come from the Connections UK wargaming event (see below):
Meanwhile, I uncovered two additional FireMove photographs of "generated terrain" as of yet not played over (see below):

I was obviously playing around with what sort of defence the Germans should put up. Here was my solution (see below):

The challenge here is the obscuring Line of Sight (LOS) feature delineating the board into two halves. Maybe the game board's time will come this year. I might try it out with Phil Sabin's paper AI defence as a solo game.


SimWar FireMove "Lost Battle of 2016" (Part II)

As the British Commander (me) pushes his troops across the British right hand side of the table the attrition (via casualty points) rises and "ammunition expenditure" also threatens to deplete the attack soon. The British forces are pretty much committed now, the "Reserve" a measly single platoon. However a degree suppression in middle has been achieved. The British left hand side is "keeping them honest" attack is waiting its moment before committing as the German Platoon dug in on the low hills would be deadly in a close assault counterattack (see below, the British Commander still "feels in control" of events):

All British forces are committed, the British for got it on both the left and right flanks. Things look promising look promising on the right but could get hairy of the left as that German Platoon dug in on the rolling hills refuses to be suppressed (see below):

The British attack hits a grinding gear change that is painful to the ear.Although strong in stands the deadly effects of suppression mean that the British Infantry is suffering "under the guns" on the British right flank. On the British left at least they have managed to get numbers up now (see below):  

Through German Fire and British Ammunition Expenditure two British Infantry platoon are removed. Their loss is sorely missed. The stalemate on the British left, while frustrating, is less serious than the failing infantry attack on the British right (see below, note the British are at 25% "ineffectives" while the Germans as yet are untouched):

The British Commander asks for one last push from his troops. They duly comply but suffer another two infantry platoons lost, but at least have reached "close quarters" with the enemy (see below, the British have lost five. One ray of sunshine is that the German mortar has now expended its ammunition and is no longer a factor [three combat and two ammunition depleted] infantry platoons with seven still active plus the HMG and mortar support);

Although a good round of close combat could see the British "get back in it" time is beginning to become a major factor. British casualties have been heavy (almost 50% removed and 25% KIA/injured). So far the German defense has bend but not been broken.

Next: The last push!

Sunday, 12 February 2017

SimWar FireMove "Lost Battle of 2016" (Part I)

I dug this old FireMove battle out from the innards of my iPhone recently (dating back to July 2016). I was in "cleaning the camera roll out" mode and I even didn't realise I even had recorded it. The generated [human  by rolling forty eight pairs of dice, taking up a good fifteen minutes of pre-game preparation] terrain is very sparse. One wood (middle right), two low ridges (top middle) and a BUA Farmstead (top left denoted by a 'bottle top'). Not very promising territory for a swift British Infantry attack (see below, open ground aka "The Somme"?):

The German defender chose the "slightly" more terrain rich right hand side of the battlefield to deny the British player any chance of "dead ground" behind the wood. The German commander spaced his infantry out evenly across the board (see below, that is a lot of deadly "open ground" for the British infantry to cross, did I mention "The Somme"):

The classic British infantry response, four platoons spaced out with a gap between so they do not present multiple "grouped" targets. The HMG platoon is placed in the Farm BUA to gain benefit of the cover and avoid taking casualties (see below):

The oblique view of the battlefield (see below):

The initial artillery bombardment had a poor effect and a further turn spent trying to suppress seemed to avail nothing in the "net column".  The British Commander (me)  resolved to start pushing platoons forward which inevitably meant giving the German Commander a "target rich environment" for his accursed mortars (see below, the British player has successfully suppressed two "centrally placed" German platoons [denoted by two small silver 5p pieces]):

The British Commander decided to "push his luck" and try to exploit his "suppression" by flooding his right hand attack with of his infantry three companies. The mortar has been brought to bear on the central German Platoon (denoted by the 'blue marker') along with the interest of the British  HMG platoon to the sniping German Platoon located on the low hills. The favourable terrain on the left flank has allowed the fourth British Infantry Company to attempt a single file, stealth, flank attack on the British left. This means the British Commander has committed eleven out of twelve of his infantry platoons relatively early on in the game (see below):

A perfect plan, but what will the Germans make of it. There comes back an old proverb that says "no matter how strong the lion he is best to conserve all his energy and chase only one hare at a time". Note: Even early on the British have been steadily accumulating casualties.

Next: Withering fire shall stop them! But whose?

Saturday, 11 February 2017

US WWII Carriers WIP ... now "Mounted on Bases"

The early war US CV's mounted on bases. Two things to note, one from a historical context regarding their dimensions and configurations namely (see below):
  • The USS Wasp is small, as per reflected in all historical commentaries but so much more noted on model (forth up from the bottom)
  • The USS Lexington and USS Saratoga are large, even though converted battle-cruisers and so not ideally configured for CV operations their flight deck space is impressive (second and third up from the bottom)
  • The USS Ranger looks very ungainly and I can only imagine those smokestacks being operationally awkward (bottom of stack)
  • The USS Yorktown, USS Hornet and USS Enterprise (top three on stack) seem a very good step in the correct direction but seem to be fighting to be bigger, something the Essex class clarified successfully  

Second thing to note: This is the best way of assembling them. First "unflashed" lead is (UHU) glued onto card stock already annotated underneath with the ship's characteristics ready for the second  DIY "sea-scaping" to quickly follow, followed by undercoats (and then official ship and sea painting).