Nugget 291

I am going to collect the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N291) from the printer this morning and I hope to post it out to members of Wargame Developments by tomorrow at the latest.

I hope to upload the PDF versions of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website later today, and when I have they will be available for members of Wargame Developments to read online or to download and print.

In addition I will have uploaded Ian Russell Lowell’s presentation entitled TRUMP IT! so that members can download and read it.

This relates to the session that Ian ran at COW2015 (last year’s Conference of Wargamers) and is well worth reading.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the ninth and last issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2015-2016 subscription year.

Renewal reminders will be sent out to existing hard-copy subscribers with this issue. It will be sent to members who have not yet re-subscribed. E-members will be sent a renewal reminder after the forthcoming annual Conference of Wargamers (COW2016) has taken place.


Conference of Wargamers 2016: Sessions

As the next annual Conference of Wargamers (COW2016) draws nearer, the list of sessions is finally coming together.

As of today, the following sessions should be taking place:

HOLY RELICS! (Sue Laflin (with Wargame Developments Display Team North))
The Plenary Game
Based on the idea that the Anglo-Saxon and medieval religious centres competed for income from pilgrims and collected relics to increase their popularity. Of course, all of our relics will be completely genuine….

CURSUS HONORUM II (Wargame Developments Display Team North)
A slimmed-down version of the original game of careers in the Roman Republic. Wargame Developments Display Team North’s participation game for shows in the 2016 season.

DE VALERA’S WAR (John Bassett)
A matrix game on Irish neutrality in WW2, featuring Abwehr agents, intransigent Orangemen, bombers, gunmen, and quiet Americans.

A workshop looking at how to game what is probably the worst refugee crisis in history: the expulsion of fourteen million Germans from eastern Europe in 1945. Participants should note that this may be a black session.

A simple military training game to practise future force development, in particular the reduction in manpower in infantry companies: 3 platoons to 2 per company. Using large homemade counters and 1/300 stylized terrain it will emphasize the importance of ammunition conservation, concentration of fire, coordination of all arms, covered approaches and suppression. Games are played against active opponents who are doing their best to win.

An introduction to Modiphius Entertainment’s Airfix Battles Introductory Set, and/or the Collector’s Edition (WW2 land combat). An opportunity to use those old Airfix figures and models that you have tucked away at the bottom of a cupboard of miscellaneous stuff you collected when you were young and naïve! A chance to play (and to talk about ‘hollywood wargame’ design too). [This ‘should’ be using the released game itself, subject to the vagaries of publishing, plus any expansion materials to hand.]

Mission Command is a set of World War Two wargaming rules for use with miniatures. It’s an umpired game, and prior knowledge of the mechanics is not required. This session will be an attempt at an interesting and stimulating miniatures game for one team versus an umpired enemy, with associated discussion about simulating tactical/operational engagements in WW2, focused on Normandy on and after D-Day. It will use Mission Command (the alpha or beta?) version of SSG Wargames’ draft WW2 miniatures rules) and some toy soldiers.

Between 1879 and 1884 Chile, Peru, and Bolivia fought a brutal and bloody war on both sea and land ostensibly over guano mining rights. The outcome shaped the power structure of modern South America and still has ramifications today. From the maritime warmth of the coastal areas, to the harsh, dry Atacama desert and the brutal altitude of the Altiplano they armies fought each other anywhere they could, showing no mercy on either side. Fought with (mostly) modern weapons comparable with their European contemporaries, using a variety of tactics from the Napoleonic to the most up to date.

A most obscure war … except for a couple of really good wargaming based sources and a really neat range of 15mm figures from Outpost. For this year we’ll go with a table top 15mm late 19th century wargame that is under development to educate and excite COW-goers, under the gaze of European military observers. So, put on your sandals, wrap yourself in your poncho and put some coca leaves in your cheek, it’s nasty up there.

Being a gentlemanly method of resolving conflict on the high seas. Conceived during the Great Herring War of 1909 (reduced from 2016), this session will feature 1/1200 toy ships and matchstick firing cannon. It’s as if Fred T Jane bumped into H G Wells in the pub.

2016 is the 150th anniversary of Lissa (20th July 1866), the only major fleet action of the ironclad era, and the most over-analysed hour of fighting between Trafalgar and Jutland. The Italian fleet has all the advantages: bigger ships with far better guns, and more of them, and includes the Affandatore ram ship with two unfeasibly huge Armstrong rifled muzzle-loaders. What can possibly go wrong? A game for 4-8 players keen to shout ‘ramming speed’ (in German).

Another game of political advancement in the Roman Republic – based on Rummy, it has had a few test games with three players but needs some serious testing, preferably with different numbers of players.

Up to five expert support service information technology giants bid for and execute contracts for cyber-security from amongst the world’s most massive, successful and sought-after companies, across a wide-range of activity from banking, pharmaceuticals, and entertainment to construction. In the dark hours of the morning, when not working with their clients, and under the influence of performance-enhancing drugs, their employees are also engaged in activity disrupting the very corporate sector they slavishly serve, striving to achieve social justice and modify the behaviour of these increasingly self-serving corporate nightmares.

Eyes down! Get a line for a big surprise!

A short, slightly dark, game about an international response to migration across a small sea.

WARGAME 2020 (Jim Wallman)
A tactical wargame based on some recent professional work I’ve been doing. The game is about battlegroup and brigade operations in the near future based around the projected capabilities of professional armies in the 2020-2025 period. This is map based and a pretty simple and accessible system that wargamers should be able to pick up in a few minutes. The game is designed to draw out insights and discussion about force mixes and the application of capabilities in a variety of settings.

Developed since last year, a card driven game for four players whose object is to end the game with the most money by the control of crime and the running of illegal operations (and of course to prevent the other players from doing the same).

An illustrated talk on the 1274BC battle.

THE DEVIL TO PLAY (Ian Russell Lowell)
The Reformation: Rebellion and Reaction. Further thoughts on the German Peasants’ Revolt, 1524-1526. A talk with gaming.

English and Flemish Pirates off the Barbary Coast in the Jacobean Age. There will be no references to rum, but sodomy and the lash might be touched upon in passing, possibly with some Shakespeare quotations thrown in for good measure.

Back in the good old days of the Cold War, an elite team trains with the very latest in anti-tank technology. This session may involve laying on grass. And possibly getting up again.

A lawn game from the team that brought you PVO Strany and Spock’s Shameful Secret. So you’ve been warned.

PICKETT’S CHARGE (Wayne Thomas et al)
Up to seven players are needed to replay the famous action using 10mm figures and the new ‘Hail of Lead’ rules.

A game based on the last battle fought between ‘private’ armies in England.

A game/discussion on the Easter Rising, Dublin 1916, to mark the centenary of this historic event in Irish history.

September 1888. A dark night in Whitechapel. An ADG based on (you guessed it!) the arch-criminal who was never caught …

For several months I have been working with some organisations on developing new gaming models around the dark subject of terrorism. Playing a red team has been used in serious games for many years, but the difference is these new games are designed to be run from perspective of the terrorists. The aim of the research is to explore the value of such games in developing a deeper understanding of these complex issues. The session will consist of a short 20 minute introduction, then I will give people the chance to try one of the game prototypes. Wargame Developments is the only group with some track record in gaming this area and so feedback will actively be encouraged.

A reworking of Paddy Griffith’s ‘Men Against Fire’ game in the light of Leo Murray’s ‘Brains and Bullets’. With toy soldiers and the risk of being hit on the back-of-the-head with a rolled-up copy of the Daily Telegraph.

A singalong based on the events of 1916, from Gallipoli and Kut-al-Amara to the Somme and the Easter Rising; plus the Battle of Jutland and the Sopwith Camel, with a nod towards Verdun and Winston Churchill’s command of a battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers. If you want the old battalion, We know where they are…

This is a wargame used at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst as part of junior officer training. So simple I could teach someone how to run the game in 30 minutes – so no experience a positive advantage. There will be two scenarios – a Platoon Attack and a Counter-IED patrol (scenario created by Capt Ed Farren).

This is a ‘Footfall-type game with completely revised rules and mechanisms, this time set in the Far Future (and looking a lot like the classic game ‘Traveller’). The crew are adventurers in the Laver Asteroid Belt, looking for Pirates and Salvage! The rules are simple enough for anyone, so no experience necessary.

This is a game used by the Defence Academy for language training. It is a simple Matrix Game set in the jungles of South America and featuring the Army, The Police, the Village Elder, and the notorious Drug Baron! And probably a couple of other people!

A (hopefully) fun/not too serious session of late ironclad/pre-dreadnought naval battles using home-made toy-style model ships, Hexon II hexed terrain, and simple rules based on the ‘Portable Naval Wargame’ and ‘Memoir of Battle at Sea’ rules. So if you fancy yourself to be a reincarnated Jackie Fisher or Charlie Beresford – or even a Percy Scott – then come along and try your hand.

A presentation and discussion on winning and losing the narrative in contemporary conflict.

This is the usual mixture of serious and not so serious games covering a wide range of topics … although there do seem to be more naval wargames and contemporary wargames this year than in recent years.

This is the 37th year that Conference of Wargamers has taken place, and the 36th year that we have staged it at Knuston Hall, Northamptonshire. Not a bad record by any means!

Like all organisations, Wargame Developments has its own jargon. For example, there are a couple of sessions where the term ‘black’ or ‘dark’ are mentioned, and at least one is described as an ADG.

The former deal with topics or subjects which look at the nastier aspects of warfare, and are not recommended for people who might get easily upset by the discussion or by participating in such sessions.

ADGs are After Dinner Wargames, and are usually scheduled to take place after dinner on the Friday or Saturday nights of the Conference. They tend to be more fun, frivolous, and entertainments, although they can also be quite thought-provoking as well.

For a full list of the jargon used by members of Wargame Developments, read the group’s handbook. It can be found on the Wargame Development website.

My Torpedo Boat Destroyers

I finally got my act together and built some torpedo boat destroyers for my forthcoming naval wargame session at COW2016 (this year’s Conference of Wargamers, which will be held in July).

The eight ships fall into two almost identical classes, with only the length of the two groups of four ship defining which class they are in. All I have to do now is to paint them … and then the play-testing can begin!

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.

The final ships are added to the fleet … for the moment!

I seem to have finally reached a natural place to stop in my model ship-building project, and have added the following ships to my fleet:

  • Two armoured cruisers
  • Three protected cruisers
  • Seven more merchant ships

This gives a total of:

  • Eight battleships
  • Four armoured cruisers
  • Six protected cruisers
  • Twelve merchant ships

I now have more than enough ships for the naval wargame I aim to run at this year’s Conference of Wargamer (COW2016), although I would like to add some more ships (especially torpedo boats and destroyers) in due course. What I need to do now is to paint the ships that I have finished and to do some work on the rules I intend to use.

A generic pre-dreadnought battleship: Another attempt

Despite having decided to set my most recent project to one side for a day or two, I changed my mind overnight and decided to have another go at building a generic pre-dreadnought battleship for the naval war game I plan to put on at this year’s Conference of Wargamers (COW2016). The result can be seen below.

This is – in my eyes – a much better model, and it is the style I shall now try to replicate.

There was a section of wood left over when I made the hull of this model, and rather than waste it I turned it into a small engines-aft merchant ship.

This could easily be the sort of collier that was used to re-supply coal to a fleet’s ships … or it could be a cargo ship that needs to be protected by a cruiser from an enemy raider.

The ‘massed’ fleet of ships that I have so far built for this project now looks like this:

Though I say it myself, they don’t look too bad, do they?

A pair of generic pre-dreadnought battleships

Having recently built a couple of generic cruisers for the naval war game I plan to put on at this year’s Conference of Wargamers (COW2016), I have now applied the same modelling techniques to building a couple of generic pre-dreadnought battleships … and I am not particularly impressed with the results.

Basically I think that I have tried to do too much on too small a scale. I am therefore going to set this project aside for a day or two to give me time to have a bit of a think. These models were not a disaster (in fact they look somewhat akin to the ‘Monopoly’ battleship that I tried to build some years ago!) but somehow they look too overcrowded and top heavy and I don’t find them aesthetically pleasing (the turrets look far too big for a start and the cruiser-style stern looks wrong when viewed from the side) … and if they don’t meet that criteria, I know that I will not be all that happy using them.

The original ‘Monopoly’ battleship looked like this: