Zones of Control: A further progress report

I am still slowly reading my way through this book. I usually read books at quite a phenomenal rate, but so far each section and contribution in this book has given me something to think about, and in some cases I have felt compelled to re-read them before moving on to the next to ensure that I have fully understood what the writer was trying to communicate.

PART II: WAR ENGINES

  • War Engines: Wargames as Systems from the Tabletop to the Computer by Henry Lowood
  • The Engine of Wargaming by Matthew B. Caffrey Jr.
  • Design for Effect: The “Common Language” of Advanced Squad Leader by J. R. Tracy
  • Combat Commander: Time to Throw Your Plan Away by John A. Foley
  • Empire of the Sun: The Next Evolution of the Card-Driven Game Engine by Mark Herman
  • The Paths of Glory Lead but to the Gaming Table by Ted S. Raicer
  • New Kind of History: The Culture of Wargame Scenario Design Communities by Troy Goodfellow

This section examined the development and use of what have become known as ‘war engines’. In other words, the mechanisms or systems that drive the wargame along. Matthew B. Caffrey’s contribution was extremely interesting in that regard, and provided an overview that I found easy to follow and which dealt with ‘war engines’ that I know something about. I did have concerns as I read J. R. Tracy’s article that the chapter was going to become dominated by all things ASL, but once I began to read Mark Herman’s contribution about card-driven systems I was reassured, and this was born out by what Ted S. Raicer wrote.

PART III: OPERATIONS

  • Operations Research, Systems Analysis, and Wargaming: Riding the Cycle of Research by Peter P. Perla
  • The Application of Statistical and Forensics Validation to Simulation Modeling in Wargames by Brien J. Miller
  • Goal-Driven Design and Napoleon’s Triumph by Rachel Simmons
  • Harpoon: An Original Serious Game by Don R. Gilman
  • The Development and Application of the Real-Time Air Power Wargame Simulation Modern Air Power by John Tiller and Catherine Cavagnaro
  • Red vs. Blue by Thomas C. Schelling
  • Hypergaming by Russell Vane

As one would expect, Peter Perla’s contribution was succinct, informative, and well-written … and I wish that it was more widely available than just through the pages of this book. Brien Miller’s article may have a long title, but the content is an excellent exposition of the importance of validating the models one creates, and Rachel Simmons’ explanation of the thinking that went into the design of Napoleon’s Triumph is one that will resonate with anyone who has every tried to design a wargame. Whilst I agree that Harpoon is a very good naval wargame, I’m not sure that it could be described as wholly ‘original’.

The contents of Red vs. Blue resonated with me, and put me in mind of a wargame about the Cuban Missile Crisis that the Jockey’s Field Irregulars played some years ago. The various teams were separated by a considerable distance (one team was in London and the other in Sheffield!), and had to communicate with each other and the umpires using texts or notes. When one is face-to-face with an opponent, one can ‘read’ their reaction, whereas when one has to do so by trying to read the subtext of their messages, miscalculations and misunderstandings don’t so much creep in as hurtle in! Add in the additional problems of information and transmission delays, and one has a real cooking pot full of problems.

Russell Vance’s Hypergaming describes Game Theory, what Hypergame Theory is, and then explains how it was applied to the First Gulf War. As such, it more than justifies the use of gaming to examine what one’s enemy might do, why they might do it, and what the best counters to that would be.

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Warship 2016

The latest copy of WARSHIP was delivered yesterday afternoon. This is Volume XXXVIII of this annual publication, and it is edited by John Jordan and published by Conway (ISBN 978 1 894486 326 6).

This year’s edition of the annual includes:

  • Editorial by John Jordan
  • The Colonial Sloops of the Bougainville Class by John Jordan
  • The Colonial Sloop Eritrea by Michele Cosentino
  • The Japanese Destroyers of the Asahio Class by Hans Lengerer
  • The Naval War in the Adriatic Part 2: 1917-1918 by Enrico Cernuschi and Vincent P O’Hara
  • Post-war AIO and Command Systems in the Royal Navy by Peter Marland
  • The Soviet Fugas class Minesweepers by Vladimir Yakubov and Richard Worth
  • Divide and Conquer? Divisional Tactics and the Battle of Jutland by Stephen McLaughlin
  • Modern Littoral Surface Combatants by Conrad Waters
  • The Chinese Flagship Hai Chi and the Revolution of 1911 by Richard Wright
  • The Battleship Courbet and Operation ‘Substance’ by Stephen Dent
  • The ‘Flat Iron’: The Coast Defence battleship Tempête by Philippe Caresse
  • Warship Notes
  • Naval Books of the Year
  • Warship Gallery

This year’s annual is full of interesting articles, and I look forward to reading them over the next few days. My only gripe is the fact that they have not published the book with a dust jacket. Instead the illustrations are printed onto the book’s cover rather than onto its dust jacket, and this has the effect of making the book look a bit ‘cheap’ … which it certainly isn’t!


Zones of Control: A progress report

I am gradually making my way through this book, and so far I have read:

  • Editors’ Introduction by Pat Harrigan and Matthew G. Kirschenbaum
  • Series Forword
  • Foreword: The Paper Time Machine Goes Electric by James F. Dunnigan

As one would expect, the introductory part of the book sets the scene for what is to follow, and explains the logic behind the thematic approach adopted by the editors.

James Dunnigan’s contribution gives a brief but interesting personal oversight of the development of wargaming, particularly since the height of the Cold War and in light of world events that have occurred since it ended. It covers the way in which military and commercial/hobby wargames had drifted apart, only to re-engage when the military realised that the commercial/hobby wargamers had useful tools/games they they could use … a trend that has gained wider currency in recent years if CONNECTIONS UK is anything to go by.

PART I: PAPER WARS

  • A Game Out of All Proportions: How a Hobby Miniaturized War by Jon Peterson
  • The History of Wargaming Project by John Curry
  • The Fundamental Gap between Tabletop Simulation Games and the “Truth” by Tetsuya Nakamura
  • Fleet Admiral: Tracing One Element in the Evolution of a Game Design by Jack Greene
  • The Wild Blue Yonder: Representing Air Warfare in Games by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
  • Historical Aesthetics in Mapmaking by Mark Mahaffey
  • The “I” in Team: War and Combat in Tabletop Role-Playing Games by A. Scott Glancy

Part I covers the development of what we have come to regard as wargaming in its multiple forms, and although to some readers it may appear to have a bias towards what the American view of that development is and has been (John Curry’s contribution being a very noticeable exception to this), it is an extremely useful examination of that development as well as raising some very interesting points.


On sale in the National Archives bookshop

Recently Sue and I paid one of our periodic visits to the National Archives, Kew, to do some genealogical research. (We are still charting the career of William Richardson, one of her forebears, who started as a Gunner in the Royal Artillery in the last eighteenth century and – after surviving service for many years as a member of the garrison of Jamaica – eventually reached the rank of Sergeant Major.)

Whilst we were there we paid a visit to the onsite bookshop, where I bought two books that were in the sale. They were HMS HERMES: 1923 & 1959 …

… and THE COLOSSUS-CLASS AIRCRAFT CARRIERS: 1944-1972.

Both books were written by Neil McCart and published by Fan Publications in 2001 and 2002 respectively.

HMS HERMES: 1923 & 1959 (ISBN 1 901225 05 4) begins by telling the story of the first aircraft carrier to be named Hermes from her building in the aftermath of the Great War until her sinking by Japanese aircraft in the Indian Ocean in April 1942. It then charts the origins and service of the second aircraft carrier of that name through her numerous commissions, her rebuilding and re-tasking from her role as a conventional aircraft carrier into that of a commando carrier and then again into a VSTOL carrier, and her eventual sale to the Indian Navy, with whom she still serves as INS Viraat … albeit until her replacement by a newer aircraft carrier.

THE COLOSSUS-CLASS AIRCRAFT CARRIERS: 1944-1972 (ISBN 1 901225 06 2) relates the history of eight of the ten ships of the class. (It does not cover HMS Pioneer or HMS Perseus, neither of which was ever commissioned as an aircraft carrier.) At some stage in their careers all of them were commissioned into the Royal Navy, and several of them were loaned, transferred, or sold to other countries, where they performed sterling service in navies that otherwise might not have been able to operate aircraft carriers:

  • Colossus: Became the French Navy’s FNS Arromanches in 1946. She continued in service until 1974, and was scrapped in France in 1978.
  • Glory: Scrapped in Scotland in 1961.
  • Ocean: Scrapped in Scotland in 1962.
  • Venerable: Sold to the Royal Netherlands Navy in 1948, where she was renamed HNLMS Karel Doorman. In 1969 she was sold to Argentia, where she was renamed ARA Veinticinco de Mayo. She was scrapped in India in 1999.
  • Vengeance: Loaned to the Royal Australian Navy in 1952 as HMAS Vengeance. She was returned to the UK in 1955 and then sold to the Brazilian Navy in 1960, where she was renamed Minas Gerais. She was withdrawn from service in 2001 and scrapped in India in 2004.
  • Pioneer: Completed as a maintenance carrier. Scrapped in Scotland in 1954.
  • Warrior: Loaned to the Royal Canadian Navy in 1946 as HMCS Warrior. Returned to the UK in 1948, and sold to Argentina in 1958, where she became ARA Independencia. Scrapped in Argentina in 1971.
  • Theseus: Scrapped in Scotland in 1962.
  • Triumph: Rebuilt and reclassified as a repair ship in 1965. Scrapped in Spain in 1981.
  • Perseus: Completed as a maintenance carrier. Scrapped in Scotland in 1958.

Not a bad collective service record when one considers that their expected operational life when they were designed was three years!


Zones of Control: Perspectives on Wargaming

I ordered my copy of ZONES OF CONTROL: PERSPECTIVES ON WARGAMING when its forthcoming publication was announced last year. Recently I had heard that its publication was imminent … but the announcement did not include an actual publication date. It was therefore a pleasant surprise when my copy was delivered yesterday afternoon.

The book has been edited by Pat Harrigan and Matthew G. Kirschenbaum and published by MIT Press (ISBN 978 0 262 03399 2). It has 806 pages and is intended to provide ‘a diverse set of perspectives on wargaming’s past, present, and future.’ It is divided into nine sections, each of which starts with what the editors term ‘an anchoring chapter by an established authority.’ These are then followed by ‘a variety of shorter pieces both analytical and anecdotal‘.

The contents are as follows:

  • Editors’ Introduction by Pat Harrigan and Matthew G. Kirschenbaum
  • Series Forword
  • Foreword: The Paper Time Machine Goes Electric by James F. Dunnigan

PART I: PAPER WARS

  • A Game Out of All Proportions: How a Hobby Miniaturized War by Jon Peterson
  • The History of Wargaming Project by John Curry
  • The Fundamental Gap between Tabletop Simulation Games and the “Truth” by Tetsuya Nakamura
  • Fleet Admiral: Tracing One Element in the Evolution of a Game Design by Jack Greene
  • The Wild Blue Yonder: Representing Air Warfare in Games by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood
  • Historical Aesthetics in Mapmaking by Mark Mahaffey
  • The “I” in Team: War and Combat in Tabletop Role-Playing Games by A. Scott Glancy

PART II: WAR ENGINES

  • War Engines: Wargames as Systems from the Tabletop to the Computer by Henry Lowood
  • The Engine of Wargaming by Matthew B. Caffrey Jr.
  • Design for Effect: The “Common Language” of Advanced Squad Leader by J. R. Tracy
  • Combat Commander: Time to Throw Your Plan Away by John A. Foley
  • Empire of the Sun: The Next Evolution of the Card-Driven Game Engine by Mark Herman
  • The Paths of Glory Lead but to the Gaming Table by Ted S. Raicer
  • New Kind of History: The Culture of Wargame Scenario Design Communities by Troy Goodfellow

PART III: OPERATIONS

  • Operations Research, Systems Analysis, and Wargaming: Riding the Cycle of Research by Peter P. Perla
  • The Application of Statistical and Forensics Validation to Simulation Modeling in Wargames by Brien J. Miller
  • Goal-Driven Design and Napoleon’s Triumph by Rachel Simmons
  • Harpoon: An Original Serious Game by Don R. Gilman
  • The Development and Application of the Real-Time Air Power Wargame Simulation Modern Air Power by John Tiller and Catherine Cavagnaro
  • Red vs. Blue by Thomas C. Schelling
  • Hypergaming by Russell Vane

PART IV: THE BLEEDING EDGE

  • Wargaming Futures: Naturalizing the New American Way of War by Luke Caldwell and Tim Lenoir
  • Creating Persian Incursion by Larry Bond
  • Modeling the Second Battle of Fallujah by Laurent Closier
  • Playing with Toy Soldiers: Authenticity and Metagaming in World War I Video Games by Andrew Wackerfuss
  • America’s Army by Marcus Schulzke
  • We the Soldiers: Player Complicity and Ethical Gameplay in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare by Miguel Sicart
  • Upending Militarized Masculinity in Spec Ops: The Line by Soraya Murray

PART V: SYSTEMS AND SITUATIONS

  • Wargames as Writing Systems by Sharon Ghamari-Tabrizi
  • Playing Defense: Gender, Just War, and Game Design by Elizabeth Losh
  • Debord’s Nostalgic Algorithm by Alexander R. Galloway
  • The Ludic Science Club Crosses the Berezina by Richard Barbrook
  • War Games by David Levinthal
  • Troubling the Magic Circle: Miniature War in Iraq by Brian Conley

PART VI: THE WAR ROOM

  • Wargames as an Academic Instrument by Philip Sabin
  • Lessons from the Hexagon: Wargames and the Military Historian by Robert M. Citino
  • Simulation Literacy: The Case for Wargames in the History Classroom by Rob MacDougall and Lisa Faden
  • The Amateur Designer: For Fun and Profit by Charles Vasey
  • Struggling with Deep Play: Utilizing Twilight Struggle for Historical Inquiry by Jeremy Antley
  • Model-Driven Military Wargame Design and Evaluation by Alexander H. Levis and Robert J. Elder

PART VII: IRREGULARITIES

  • Gaming the Nonkinetic by Rex Brynen
  • Inhabited Models and Irregular Warfare Games: An Approach to Educational and Analytical Gaming at the US Department of Defense by Elizabeth M. Bartels
  • Chess, Go, and Vietnam: Gaming Modern Insurgency by Brian Train and Volko Ruhnke
  • Irregular Warfare: The Kobayashi Maru of the Wargaming World by Yuna Huh Wong
  • A Mighty Fortress is Our God: When Military Action Meets Religious Strife by Ed Beach
  • Cultural Wargaming: Understanding Cross-Cultural Communications Using Wargames by Jim Wallman

PART VIII: OTHER THEATERS

  • Wargaming (as) Literature by Esther MacCallum-Stewart
  • Tristram Shandy: Toby and Trim’s Wargames and the Bowling Green by Bill McDonald
  • Third Reich and The Third Reich by John Prados
  • How Star Fleet Battles Happened by Stephen V. Cole
  • Total Global Domination: Games Workshop and Warhammer 40,000 by Ian Sturrock and James Wallis
  • When the Drums Begin to Roll by Larry Brom
  • War Re-created: Twentieth-Century War Reenactors and the Private Event by Jenny Thompson

PART IX: FIGHT THE FUTURE

  • War, Mathematics, and Simulation: Drones and (Losing) Control of Battlespace by Patrick Crogan
  • How to Sell Wargames to the Non-Wargamer by Michael Peck
  • Wargaming the Cyber Frontier by Joseph Miranda
  • The Unfulfilled Promise of Digital Wargames by Greg Costikyan
  • Civilian Casualties: Shifting Perspective in This War of Mine by Kacper Kwiatkowski
  • Practicing a New Wargame by Mary Flanagan
  • Acknowledgements and Permissions
  • References
  • Index

This is a massive tome, and it is not a book that one is able to read overnight. Neither is it a book that is one could describe as ‘not put downable‘ … in fact to someone who has become used to reading most books on a Kindle, it feels like it weights a ton! That said, I think that it has something for everyone who likes to think about wargames and wargaming, and from what I have read so far, I believe that it is going to become a book to which people will refer for many years to come.


Some interesting things were delivered whilst we were away

Some time ago I ordered a book and a game online, and expected them to be delivered after Sue and I returned from our cruise. Both products were released earlier than I expected, and as a result the book was waiting for me when we got home, and the game was at the local post office distribution office awaiting collection.

The book was one of Osprey’s latest publications, IMPERIAL CHINESE ARMIES 1840-1911.

It was written by Philip S Jowett and illustrated by Gerry Embleton and is No.505 in the ‘Men-at-Arms’ series (ISBN 978 1 4728 1427 2). It is divided into a number of chapters with the following titles:

  • Introduction
  • Conflicts with external enemies
  • The Armies
  • Character of the Imperial Army
  • Weapons
  • Uniforms & Equipment

This book fills a niche in my collection and will hopefully spur me to sorting out the small collection of Chinese figures that i have in my collection of 15mm-scale wargames figures.

The game was AIRFIX BATTLES by Modiphius.

(This image is taken from their website. © Modiphius)

I bought this game for a number of reasons, including:

  • Nostalgia: Like so many wargamers of my generation, my first ‘proper’ wargames were fought using Airfix figures and tanks, and buying this game seemed to be the obvious thing to do.
  • Interest in the period: I grew up with stories about the Second World War, and it has always been one of my wargaming areas of interest. For this reason I seem – over the years – to have collected quite a few sets of rules etc. and if for no other reason than that, I wanted a copy of this game.
  • Interesting design features: I have met one of the designers at COW (Wargame Development‘s annual Conference of Wargamers) and he has promised to demonstrate the game at this year’s conference. As I know that he designs games with interesting features and mechanisms, it struck me that having a look at the game before the conference might be a good idea.

I have yet to take the components out of the box and to use them … but rest assured that when I do, I will write a blog entry about my play-test.


Holiday souvenirs

When Sue and I first began cruising, we seemed to bring back quite a few souvenirs, but as the years have gone on we have brought back less and less. This cruise my souvenirs amounted to two books and a flag!

The books were bought in the excellent Libreria Arenas bookshop in La Coruña. The books were EL CRUCERO REINA REGENTE Y SU HUNDIMIENTO EL 9 MARZO DE 1895 by Joaquín Gil Hondubill (published La Spada y La Pluma [ISBN 84 933793 1 X]) …

… and LAS ARMAS BE LA REPUBLICA: LA EXPOSICION DEL GRAN KURSAAL (SAN SEBASTIAN, 1938) by José Maria Manrique Garcia and Lucas Molina Franco (published in 2006 by AF Editiones [ISBN 84 96916 74 9]).

The former tells the story of the Spanish Navy’s cruiser Reina Regente which sank on 9th March, 1895, and the latter is based on the catalogue produced by the Nationalist Government for the exhibition of captured Spanish Republican weapons that was held in San Sebastian in 1938.

Luckily both books contain lots of illustrations … which is just as well as my Spanish is not that good!

The flag was also bought in La Coruña, and it is the ensign carried by Spanish-registered yachts.

This unusual flag has been added to my growing collection of flags belonging to the countries and places I have visited.