Tuesday 12 February 2013

WRG 6th edition ancient wargaming rules are back

The WRG rules for ancient wargaming were the first comprehensive set of wargaming rules suitable for national competitions amongst hobbyists. They were detailed by today's standards, needed 100+ figures a side and included the innovation of reaction tests; players found their troops did not always do what they expected them to (a bit like military history). 

Out of print for many years, I brought them back into print and combined them with a guide to ancient warfare by Phil Barker, the man who wrote the original rules. The reprint sold a handful per month... until recently. Now a surge in sales indicates that many wargamers are bringing these rules out of retirement. 

This renewed interest is a surprise to me, as it will be to most wargamers. The WRG 6th edition rules are a detailed simulation of ancient warfare, probably the most heavily playtested manual wargame in the world. Battles on the table top, with players using historical tactics, normally produce historically valid results. 

The unexpected rise of WRG 6th edition ancients has reminded me that is almost impossible to predict sales trends in the world of wargaming.

Sunday 10 February 2013

German Armed Forces play board games

I met some key people in the German armed forces this week. They use board games for leadership training. They use historical games from well-known companies such as Victory Point Games and Decision Games, just blown up counters and maps to four times the size.

The games are two sided, with command cells issuing orders to the players moving counters on the board. Typically, each side has separate commanders for the left, right and middle. Inevitably confusion reigns; games are punctuated by mis-communication, lack of strategy and poor leadership.

The reasoning for using such historical games is interesting. By forcing them to use a game for a military period that is not modern, military players are moved out of their comfort zone of detailed knowledge of modern weapons. Inter-service players can work in groups, with games that are not classified. They can also add in civilians as players, civilians who have to work with the military in crises or who are responsible for directing the military to start operations.

NATO is the most powerful military alliance in the world with earth shattering power (the latter is not a metaphor). However, its key weakness has now been identified as an over emphasis on teaching commanders to control operations and not enough on tactics and leadership. So the German answer is to start playing military board games. They are convinced that putting leaders in situations they are not familiar with and putting them under pressure teaches the players to remember basic lessons in leadership and tactics. The aim is for players in a real future crises, when faced with chaos and confusion, will remember how they failed with the board games and do better in the real world.

NATO countries are involved in so many conflicts, no doubt we will have feedback if the idea of playing military board games for leadership training has any value.