Thursday, 9 March 2023

New Book- Battle in the Vietnam War: including Buckle for your Dust! and other wargames by Paddy Griffith and Greg McCauley


I am particularly excited to announce a new posthumous book by the late Paddy Griffith. There is still so much more to publish from his archive.

Paddy was the UK’s tactical historian of his generation. He was particularly interested in the face of battle, what happened when forces met on the field of battle. This book is an attempt to assemble his key writings and wargames around the Vietnam War into a single work, published posthumously. Written over a number of years, most of it was never published.

This collection of writings and musings begins with a brief review of the history of the war and delineation of some of its key features and themes. Especially intriguing are the essays about the birthing pains of the so-called electronic battlefield;” the role of the helicopter; the still evident American predilection for assuming fancy technology will work as advertised, and reduce the mortal dangers faced by troops in combat; and the natural consequence of that attitude, the still amazing distortion of battles created by the pressure to and success in evacuating casualties. But the book goes beyond raw historical analysis to dive into the question of why and how we can recreate aspects of the war using a wide range of wargaming techniques.

Also included is an account of Memphis Mangler IV, the first hobby megagame. From the perspective of wargaming history this was the game that launched the new genre of megagames; multiplayer wargames that attempt to represent a piece of history including command and control issues. Close reading of the detailed briefs for the roles in this first megagame is an excellent way to learning about Paddy Griffith’s understanding of the Vietnam War.

Monday, 27 February 2023

Wargaming is Changing


The nature of hobby wargaming is changing, as all hobbies do. As an academic, author, professional gamer, publisher etc. I try to keep informed about the trends. Of course, of more importance is perhaps playing games on a Sunday afternoon at my local wargaming club, Lincombe Barn in Bristol (UK). Rarely a meeting goes past without someone opening up a new rule book or game and apologising as this is the first game with the rules.

A generalisation is that younger games often include computer games and virtual games as part of their hobby; they are not fixated on only playing with toy soldiers on a table top covered with terrain. Most clubs will have members who are playing some game virtually most weeks in addition to the traditional face to face meeting.

Already the new wargaming figure manufacturers are struggling in the face increasing range of cheap alternatives in every scale and period; compounded by almost every wargaming show having one or more tables selling off an entire collection of a wargamer who has moved on to pastures new. Talking of terrain, 3D printing and laser cut MDF kits are flooding the already crowded wargaming terrain market. Wargaming terrain is an environmentally friendly product as good quality scenery has a long life, some pieces passing from wargamer to wargamer for decades. We have some robust wargaming scenery in my club store that has been in use for decades.

At some point you will not be able to give wargaming scenery away at a wargaming show, with the proliferation of robot ready painted scenery. Along these lines it is likely that vehicle and miniature figures will also be produced almost on demand. The only requirement will be to base the figures. I can see a wargamer of the future waking up one day and saying I want to play with 10mm Aztecs on Sunday, then the army arriving all painted within 48 hours. I think it would take a university department perhaps five years to come up the prototype figure painting robot, all using existing technology and software.

Most wargames rules and board games will continue to be relatively straightforward to learn and play. Wargaming competes with other time pressures of life for many people. Therefore games that can be picked up and enjoyed rapidly will continue to dominate the games market. Modern wargamers play a far wider range of games and scales than those of even 10 years ago. Older wargamers can all remember people who used to say I am a Napoleonic Wargamer or I am an Ancient Wargamer (no pun intended), and that is all they used to play, every week. These people had nothing in their collections outside their chosen period. In the future, wargamers will have preferred periods, but most will play a very wide range of wargames.

One of the urban myths of our hobby is no-one makes money out of wargaming. This is not true. Games Workshop is bigger than Marks and Spencers in terms of stock market value. There are a lot of people out there in small pockets making a sensible income from wargaming. You see them on eBay (with the 100,000+ feedback scores). Some second-hand dealers are proactively seeking out wargaming collections that suddenly become available, snapping them up at a bargain price and reselling at a viable profit (of course they also get landed with large amounts of stock they cannot give away, e.g. some old figures). My best guess is there are some who are on the crest of the MDF printed scenery wave, followed by those printing unusual 3D scenery, who are earning good money at the moment. Of course, at some point the sales wave will break and the opportunity for a good return will have passed.

Rule writers are in a financial quandary. High production value, hard back sets of rules grab the market attention for a short while, but the financial risk behind them is large. If you print 30,000 sets of rules (to get a good price from the printers), you may need to sell 15,000 in order to break-even. As the market moves onto to the next new product, the suppliers can be left with large amounts of stock that they cannot give away (I know, as occasionally box loads of unsold rules arrive at my door). Osprey’s solution is to go for a reasonable standard production value rulebook, not too long. Print run of perhaps a 1000 and a huge warehouse to store them in for the next 20 years if necessary. Of some good rules sets such as DBA, HOTT, Alien Squad Leader, the Portable Wargame sell despite the lack of gloss; quality of rules trumps the lack of high-cost graphics.

In 10-20 years time, I think that the local wargaming UK clubs will look much the same. Mostly figure games, some roleplaying, some board games. The figures and scenery will be uniformly excellent, nearly all at what we call display standard now. They will be playing with elegant rules, full of clever mechanisms, but not too long to learn. Who will be supplying (and making a profit from this)? Firms with small staffs, but with teams of robots and printers. These businesses will supply figures, terrain mats, scenery in every scale. A handful of these firms will be the new Games Workshops of the wargaming world- but which firms they will be will depend on which businesses can invest with enough capital (at the right time) and provide world class quality service.

Monday, 16 January 2023

AI and wargaming articles


Chat GPT uses an enhanced predictive text generator, along with a large database of knowledge (until the year 2021, it knows nothing beyond that). It has no understanding, but can generate plausible content. For example see these random questions posted by members of Wargame Developments. 

 How will this affect authors and journals? Will blogs be full of automatically generated content?

 Does sound effects enhance wargames

Answer: Sound effects can enhance the experience of playing a wargame in several ways. They can help to create a more immersive and realistic atmosphere, adding to the sense of being in a battlefield or strategic environment. Sound effects can also help to emphasize important actions or events in the game, such as the firing of weapons or the activation of special abilities. Additionally, sound effects can add an element of excitement and drama to the game, making it more engaging and enjoyable for players. Ultimately, the use of sound effects in a wargame is a matter of personal preference, and some players may find that they add to the enjoyment of the game while others may prefer to play without them.

Describe Confrontation Analysis

Answer: Dilemma analysis is a method of analyzing and resolving ethical dilemmas or conflicts of values. It is a systematic approach to problem-solving that involves evaluating the potential consequences of different courses of action and choosing the option that best aligns with an individual's values or ethical principles.

Dilemma analysis typically involves the following steps:

Identify the dilemma: Define the problem or conflict that needs to be resolved.

Gather information: Collect data and evidence to better understand the context and implications of the dilemma.

Identify options: Generate and evaluate potential solutions or courses of action.

Evaluate the consequences: Consider the potential outcomes of each option and how they align with ethical principles and values.

Choose a course of action: Select the option that best aligns with ethical principles and values, taking into account the potential consequences of each option.

Dilemma analysis can be applied to a wide range of ethical dilemmas, including those related to business, personal relationships, and public policy. It is a useful tool for helping individuals and organizations navigate complex ethical issues and make decisions that are consistent with their values and principles.

Write a short article for the Nugget, the journal of Wargame Developments:

"Creating Realistic Military Units in Wargames"

As wargame developers, one of our main goals is to create a realistic and immersive experience for our players. One important aspect of this is creating military units that accurately reflect the capabilities and characteristics of real-world military units.

Here are some tips for creating realistic military units in your wargames:

1. Research and gather accurate information: It's important to gather accurate information about the military units you are trying to recreate in your game. This includes their equipment, organization, training, tactics, and any other relevant details. You can find this information through research, consulting with military experts, or even by reaching out to military personnel themselves.

 2. Consider the unit's role and mission: Military units are designed to fulfill specific roles and missions, and it's important to consider this when creating them in your game. Is the unit a heavily-armed and armored tank unit designed for front-line combat? Or is it a smaller, agile unit designed for reconnaissance and special operations? Understanding the unit's role and mission will help you design it appropriately.

3. Balance realism with gameplay: While it's important to be realistic, it's also important to keep in mind that your game needs to be enjoyable to play. This means finding a balance between realism and gameplay. For example, it may not be realistic to have a unit that is completely invulnerable, but it may be necessary for the sake of gameplay.

4. Test and iterate: As with any aspect of game development, it's important to test and iterate on your military units to ensure they are balanced and fun to play. Playtest your game with a variety of players and gather feedback on the units to see what works and what doesn't.

By following these tips, you can create military units in your wargames that are both realistic and enjoyable to play. Happy game development!

Why is it a good idea to clip the corners of counters in Advanced Squad Leader"

Answer:  Clipping the corners of counters in Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) is a good idea because it can make it easier to distinguish individual counters from each other on the game board. Clipping the corners can also make it easier to pick up and move counters without accidentally moving other nearby counters. Additionally, clipping the corners can help to prevent counters from sliding around on the board or falling off the board altogether, which can be especially helpful when playing on a slanted surface or when the board is bumped or jostled during play. Finally, clipping the corners of counters can help to prevent wear and tear on the counters over time, especially if the counters are frequently handled and moved during gameplay.

Why is it a bad idea to clip the corners of counters in Advanced Squad Leader"

Answer:  "In Advanced Squad Leader (ASL), it is generally a bad idea to clip the corners of counters because it can lead to confusion about the orientation and facing of the counter. The counters in ASL represent individual military units, and their orientation and facing are important for determining line of sight, range, and other game mechanics. Clipping the corners of the counters can make it difficult to determine the orientation and facing of the unit, which can lead to mistakes and misunderstandings during gameplay.

Additionally, clipping the corners of the counters can damage them and make them less durable over time. ASL counters are often handled frequently during gameplay, and the corners are a point of stress that can become frayed or bent if they are not rounded. This can make the counters harder to use and less visually appealing.

Overall, it is generally best to avoid clipping the corners of ASL counters to maintain their integrity and clarity during gameplay."