Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Nugget 234

I posted the latest issue of THE NUGGET yesterday, and it should be with full members of Wargame Developments by early next week.


I had hoped to upload the PDF versions of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website today, but problems with the web authoring software are presently making that difficult. I hope to solve the problems tomorrow so that they will be available by the weekend.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

My priorities for April are ...

  1. Finish testing my card-driven turn sequence.
  2. Write the latest draft of my development of Joseph Morshauser's wargames rules (incorporating the card-driven turn sequence).
  3. Play-test the rules (which will be an excuse to fight some tabletop battles for a change!).
  4. Finish the map of Maldacia.
If I manage to do all these things, I will have done very well indeed!

Monday, 29 March 2010

I blame my cold ...

I sat down this evening to set up what I had hoped would be the final set of tests I will need to run before I finalise the card-driven turn sequence ... and then I realised that I had got the numerical values for the different Command Abilities totally wrong in my last blog entry!

The card-drive turn sequence that I will be testing should read as follows:

Before battle commences
  • Each side’s commander is allocated a Command Ability.
    • Good = 2
    • Average = 3
    • Poor = 4
  • Each side is allocated a colour – Red or Black.
  • The number of units each side is fielding is counted and a playing card of the appropriate colour is allocated for each unit. These cards form the Unit Activation Pack.
  • Before the first turn the Unit Activation Pack is thoroughly shuffled and placed face down where both players can see it.
During a battle
  • The top playing card in the Unit Activation Pack is turned over to reveal which side will have the opportunity to activate a unit.
  • The commander of that side must then see if they can activate the unit. They throw a D6.
    • If the score is equal to or more than the commander’s Command Ability, they may activate a unit of their choice.
    • If the score is less than the commander’s Command Ability, they may not activate a unit.
  • Once an activated unit has completed all the actions it may take, the playing card is discarded and the next playing card in the Unit Activation pack is turned over and the procedure is repeated.
  • Once all the playing cards in the Unit Activation Pack have been turned over the turn has ended. The playing cards in the Unit Activation Pack are gathered together and are shuffled again before the next turn begins.
The only thing that I can say in mitigation for this very stupid mistake is that I am currently suffering from a very heavy cold, and when I wrote yesterday's blog entry I was not totally with it.

That's my excuse anyway ...

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Card-driven Turn Sequences: Even more thoughts

Having had time to sit and digest the latest test results – and in response to a very well argued comment that the disparity of results due to the differences in Command Abilities was too great – I have reconsidered the number of different levels of Command Ability are decided to reduce them to three. They would be:
  • Good = 5
  • Average = 4
  • Poor = 3
In theory this should mean that a 'Good' commander should be able to activate 83.33% of their units, an 'Average' commander 66.66%, and a 'Poor' commander 50%. The disparity in the result should be much less than those generated by having four or five levels of Command Ability.

Something more for me to test ...

Card-driven Turn Sequences: More thoughts and more tests

As a result of the feedback and ideas I have had from Jim Wright and Alex Kleanthous, I have decided to test the following card-driven turn sequence:

Before battle commences
  • Each side’s commander is allocated a Command Ability.
    • Exceptional = 2
    • Good = 3
    • Above average = 4
    • Average = 5
    • Poor = 6
  • Each side is allocated a colour – Red or Black.
  • The number of units each side is fielding is counted and a playing card of the appropriate colour is allocated for each unit. These cards form the Unit Activation Pack.
  • Before the first turn the Unit Activation Pack is thoroughly shuffled and placed face down where both players can see it.
During a battle
  • The top playing card in the Unit Activation Pack is turned over to reveal which side will have the opportunity to activate a unit.
  • The commander of that side must then see if they can activate the unit. They throw a D6.
    • If the score is equal to or more than the commander’s Command Ability, they may activate a unit of their choice.
    • If the score is less than the commander’s Command Ability, they may not activate a unit.
  • Once an activated unit has completed all the actions it may take, the playing card is discarded and the next playing card in the Unit Activation pack is turned over and the procedure is repeated.
  • Once all the playing cards in the Unit Activation Pack have been turned over the turn has ended. The playing cards in the Unit Activation Pack are gathered together and are shuffled again before the next turn begins.
The test

For the test I decided that Red commander would have a ‘Good’ Command Ability and the Black commander would be ‘Average’. I also allocate each side 10 units and this generated a Unit Activation pack with 10 Red cards and 10 Black cards.

The test lasted for twenty turns and the results looked like this (the cards that activated a unit have an asterisk [*] next to them):
  1. Black, Red, Black*, Black, Black, Red, Red*, Red*, Black*, Black, Red*, Black*, Red*, Red*, Black, Black*, Red*, Black*, Red*, Red (5 Black and 7 Red [60.00%] of the cards were activated)
  2. Black, Black, Red, Red*, Black, Red, Black, Red*, Red*, Red*, Black*, Black, Black, Red*, Black, Red*, Red*, Red*, Black, Black (1 Black and 8 Red [45.00%] of the cards were activated)
  3. Red*, Red*, Red*, Red, Black, Black, Red, Red*, Black, Red*, Black*, Black, Black*, Red, Black, Black, Red*, Black*, Red*, Black* (4 Black and 7 Red [55.00%] of the cards were activated)
  4. Black, Red*, Black, Red, Red*, Red*, Black, Red*, Black*, Black, Black*, Black, Red*, Red*, Red, Black*, Black, Red*, Red*, Black (3 Black and 8 Red [55.00%] of the cards were activated)
  5. Red*, Black, Black, Red*, Red*, Black, Black*, Red*, Red*, Black*, Black, Red*, Red*, Black, Red*, Black, Red*, Red, Black*, Black (3 Black and 9 Red [60.00%] of the cards were activated)
  6. Black, Black, Black, Black, Red*, Black*, Red, Red*, Red*, Red, Black*, Black, Red*, Red, Black, Red*, Red*, Red, Black, Black (2 Black and 6 Red [40.00%] of the cards were activated)
  7. Red, Black*, Black*, Black, Red, Red*, Black, Red*, Red*, Red*, Red*, Black*, Black*, Red*, Black, Black*, Black*, Red*, Red*, Black (6 Black and 8 Red [70.00%] of the cards were activated)
  8. Black, Red*, Red*, Black, Red*, Black, Red*, Red, Black, Red, Red, Red*, Red*, Black, Black, Black, Black, Red, Black*, Black (1 Black and 6 Red [35.00%] of the cards were activated)
  9. Red*, Black, Black*, Black, Red*, Red, Black, Black, Red*, Black, Red*, Red*, Red*, Red*, Black, Red*, Black, Red*, Black, Black* (2 Black and 9 Red [55.00%] of the cards were activated)
  10. Red*, Black*, Black*, Black, Red*, Black*, Black, Black*, Red*, Red*, Red, Red*, Black, Black*, Red*, Red*, Black, Red*, Red*, Black (5 Black and 9 Red [70.00%] of the cards were activated)
  11. Black, Red*, Black, Black, Red, Black, Black, Red*, Red, Red*, Red*, Red*, Red*, Black, Red*, Red*, Black, Black, Black, Black* (1 Black and 8 Red [45.00%] of the cards were activated)
  12. Red, Black*, Black, Black, Red, Red*, Red, Red*, Black*, Red, Black*, Black*, Black, Black, Black*, Black*, Red, Red*, Red*, Red* (6 Black and 5 Red [55.00%] of the cards were activated)
  13. Black, Red, Black, Red*, Red*, Red*, Black, Black, Red*, Red*, Black*, Red*, Black, Black, Red*, Black, Black*, Red*, Black, Red (2 Black and 8 Red [50.00%] of the cards were activated)
  14. Black, Red*, Black*, Red*, Black, Red, Black, Red*, Red*, Black*, Red, Black, Red*, Black, Red*, Red*, Black, Black, Black, Red* (2 Black and 8 Red [50.00%] of the cards were activated)
  15. Red*, Red*, Black, Black, Black, Red*, Black*, Red*, Red, Black, Black, Red*, Black*, Black*, Red, Black, Red*, Black, Red*, Red* (3 Black and 8 Red [55.00%] of the cards were activated)
  16. Black, Black, Red*, Red*, Black*, Black*, Red, Black, Black, Red*, Red*, Red*, Red, Black, Red*, Black, Red*, Black*, Black, Red (3 Black and 7 Red [50.00%] of the cards were activated)
  17. Red*, Black, Black*, Black*, Black, Red, Black, Black, Black*, Red*, Red, Red, Red*, Red*, Black*, Red*, Black, Black, Red*, Red* (4 Black and 7 Red [55.00%] of the cards were activated)
  18. Black*, Red*, Black, Red, Red*, Red*, Red*, Red*, Red, Black, Red*, Black, Black*, Black*, Black, Black, Red*, Black, Black*, Red* (4 Black and 8 Red [60.00%] of the cards were activated)
  19. Black, Red, Black, Red*, Black*, Red*, Red, Red, Black, Red*, Red*, Red*, Red, Black, Red*, Black, Black*, Black*, Black, Black (3 Black and 6 Red [45.00%] of the cards were activated)
  20. Red*, Black*, Red, Red, Black, Black, Black*, Black*, Black, Black, Red*, Red*, Black*, Red*, Red, Red, Red*, Red*, Black*, Black* (6 Black and 6 Red [60.00%] of the cards were activated)
Overall 33.00% of Black cards and 74.00% of Red cards resulted in a unit being activated. This compares favourably with the 33.33% and 66.66% rates of activation that the dice throws should have generated.

Combining the Unit Activation Pack with the use of a D6 works well. My only reservation relates to the Command Ability dice scores need to activate a unit. Even a ‘Poor’ commander should be able to activate more than 16.66% of the units under their command, and I think that the Command Ability categories should be reduced to:
  • Exceptional = 2
  • Good = 3
  • Average = 4
  • Poor = 5
This would at least give a ‘Poor’ commander some chance to make a game of it!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Card-driven Turn Sequences: Jim Wright's ideas

I can always rely on Jim Wright to give me excellent and constructive feedback as well as good ideas that I can develop. His ideas about my card-driven turn sequence 'experiments' is no exception to this.

His main suggestions can be summarised as follows:

Before the battle starts
  • Before the battle starts, each commander is given a rating.
  • Commanders are rated 1 to 5
    • 1 = Poor
    • 2 = Average
    • 3 = Above average
    • 4 = Good
    • 5 = Exceptional
  • A special unit-specific card is made for each unit in the game or a pack of ordinary playing cards is used and the cards are allocated to units by making a list of which card equals which unit.
  • Count the number of units each player has on the tabletop.
  • Divide this number by 2, rounding up any fractions.
  • This is the number of cards in the Unit Card Hand each player will start the game with.
At the start of each turn
  • At the beginning of each game turn, each player's unit cards are shuffled and each commander is dealt a number of cards equal to the size of their Unit Card Hand.
  • The rest of each player's unit cards are placed face down where all the players can see them as they may be needed later in the turn.
During a turn
  • Players take alternate turns playing one of the unit cards in their Unit Card Hand. This activates that unit.
  • When a player runs out of cards, they must take a Command Test to draw a card from their face down pile of unit cards.
  • Command Test
    • Roll 1 D6.
    • If the result is less than or equal to the player's Command Rating, the Command test has been passed and the player can take the top card from their face down pile of unit cards. That unit can now be activated.
    • If the result is greater than the player's Command Rating, the Command Test has been failed and the player cannot draw any more unit cards this turn.

When does a turn end?

  • A turn ends when one of the following occurs:
    • Both sides have drawn all their unit cards.
    • One side fails their Command Test whilst the other side has drawn all their unit cards.
    • Both sides have failed their Command Test.
This is quite a simple method of achieving the sort of result I want, and Jim's ideas will give me considerable food for thought over the next few days ... and may well lead to a solution that matches my criteria.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Card-driven Turn Sequences: More test results

For my second test I used a pack of cards that contained 8 Black cards, 6 Red cards, and 1 Joker. The results were as follows:
  1. Red, Black, Black, Black, Black, Red, Black, Black, Red, Red, Joker: 10 cards (6 x Black, 4 x Red)
  2. Red, Red, Black, Black, Black, Red, Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Black, Red, Joker: 13 cards (8 x Black, 5 x Red)
  3. Red, Red, Red, Red, Red, Joker: 5 cards (0 x Black, 5 x Red)
  4. Black, Black, Black, Red, Joker: 4 cards (2 x Black, 2 x Red)
  5. Red, Joker: 1 card (0 x Black, 1 x Red)
  6. Black, Red, Red, Black, Red, Black, Red, Black, Black, Joker: 9 cards (5 x Black, 4 x Red)
  7. Black, Red, Red, Red, Black, Red, Red, Black, Black, Black, Red, Joker: 11 cards (5 x Black, 6 x Red)
  8. Black, Black, Red, Red, Black, Red, Red, Black, Black, Black, Red, Red, Joker: 12 cards (6 x Black, 6 x Red)
This proved to be a difficult pack to shuffle because it was too small. In addition, the results were still far too variable for my requirements.

I therefore doubled the size of the pack of cards so that it contained 16 Black cards, 12 Red cards, and 2 Jokers. The results were as follows:
  1. Red, Red, Joker: 2 cards (0 x Black, 2 x Red)
  2. Red, Black, Black, Red, Red, Red, Red, Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Red, Red, Red, Joker: 15 cards (6 x Black, 9 x Red)
  3. Red, Black, Black, Black, Black, Black, Red, Red, Black, Black, Red, Red, Red, Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Red, Red, Red, Joker: 26 cards (15 x Black, 11 x Red)
  4. Red, Black, Black, Black, Red, Black, Black, Red, Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Red, Red, Red, Black, Black, Red, Joker: 19 cards (11 x Black, 8 x Red)
  5. Black, Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Joker: 6 cards (5 x Black, 1 x Red)
  6. Red, Black, Black, Red, Black, Black, Red, Red, Black, Black, Red, Red, Red, Black, Black, Red, Black, Red, Joker: 18 cards (9 x Black, 9 x Red)
  7. Red, Black, Red, Joker: 3 cards (1 x Black, 2 x Red)
  8. Black, Red, Red, Joker: 4 cards (2 x Black, 2 x Red)
Because this pack was much bigger the automatic shuffling machine had no problem shuffling the cards, which would indicate that a larger pack is going to be easier to manipulate than a smaller pack. Although the results were closer to what I want to achieve, they were still too variable in places. I therefore decided to make a minor change to the pack (i.e. remove one Joker) to see if that made any significant difference. The results were as follows:
  1. Red, Black, Black, Red, Black, Black, Red, Black, Red, Black, Joker: 10 cards (6 x Black, 4 x Red)
  2. Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Red, Black, Black, Red, Joker: 9 cards (6 x Black, 3 x Red)
  3. Black, Joker: 1 card (1 x Black, 0 x Red)
  4. Black, Black, Red, Black, Red, Red, Red, Red, Joker: 8 cards (3 x Black, 5 x Red)
  5. Black, Black, Black, Black, Black, Red, Red, Black, Black, Black, Red, Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Black, Red, Black, Red, Red, Black, Red, Red, Red, Black, Red, Joker: 27 cards (16 x Black, 11 x Red)
  6. Black, Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Red, Red, Black, Black, Red, Joker: 11 cards (7 x Black, 4 x Red)
  7. Black, Black, Red, Red, Red, Black, Black, Black, Black, Black, Black, Red, Black, Red, Red, Black, Black, Black, Red, Joker: 19 cards (12 x Black, 7 x Red)
  8. Black, Red, Black, Black, Red, Joker: 5 cards (3 x Black, 2 x Red)
This looked quite promising, so I continued with another eight turns:
  1. Red, Black, Black, Black, Joker: 4 cards (3 x Black, 1 x Red)
  2. Red, Red, Black, Red, Red, Red, Black, Black, Red, Black, Red, Red, Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Red, Joker: 18 cards (8 x Black, 10 x Red)
  3. Black, Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Red, Black, Black, Red, Red, Red, Joker: 12 cards (7 x Black, 5 x Red)
  4. Black, Black, Black, Black, Black, Red, Red, Black, Red, Red, Black, Black, Black, Joker: 13 cards (9 x Black, 4 x Red)
  5. Red, Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Black, Red, Black, Black, Red, Red, Black, Joker: 13 cards (8 x Black, 5 x Red)
  6. Black, Joker: 5 cards (5 x Black, 0 x Red)
  7. Black, Black, Black, Red, Black, Black, Red, Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Joker: 12 cards (9 x Black, 3 x Red)
  8. Black, Black, Red, Black, Red, Black, Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Black, Red, Red, Joker: 14 cards (9 x Black, 5 x Red)
The average length of a turn was 11.06 cards. This compared with 15 cards for the test I conducted yesterday and 8.125 cards and 11.625 cards for the first two of today's tests. In addition the ratio of Black to Red cards turned over was 1:0.67, which is much closer to what is should be (1:0.75) than the ratio in yesterday's test (1:0.85) and the first tests held today (1:1.03 and 1:0.9 respectively).

This still needs more testing and possibly some further modification, but I feel that I have almost got a solution that matches my criteria.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Card-driven Turn Sequences: Testing the theory

I decide to test my latest idea for a card-driven turn sequence by making up a pack of cards, shuffling them, and seeing what the results were.

The pack contained 24 Black cards, 18 Red cards, and 3 Jokers. I shuffled the pack using an automatic shuffling machine every time a Joker ended the run of cards, and ran through a sequence of eight ‘turns’. The results were as follows:
  1. Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Black, Red, Red, Black, Black, Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Red, Red, Black, Black, Black, Red, Black, Black, Red, Red, Red, Red, Black, Black, Black, Black, Red, Red, Joker: 33 cards (20 x Black, 13 x Red)
  2. Black, Red, Joker: 2 cards (1 x Black, 1 x Red)
  3. Black, Red, Red, Red, Black, Black, Red, Joker: 7 cards (3 x Black, 4 x Red)
  4. Black, Red, Black, Red, Red, Red, Black, Red, Black, Red, Black, Red, Red, Black, Red, Red, Joker: 16 cards (6 x Black, 10 x Red)
  5. Red, Red, Black, Black, Black, Black, Black, Black, Black, Red, Red, Red, Red, Red, Red, Red, Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Joker: 21 cards (11 x Black, 10 x Red)
  6. Black, Red, Black, Red, Red, Joker: 5 cards (2 x Black, 3 x Red)
  7. Black, Black, Black, Black, Black, Joker: 5 cards (5 x Black, 0 x Red)
  8. Black, Red, Red, Black, Black, Red, Red, Black, Red, Black, Black, Red, Red, Black, Black, Black, Black, Black, Black, Black, Red, Red, Red, Red, Red, Red, Red, Black, Red, Black, Black, Black, Joker: 31 cards (17 x Black, 14 x Red)
The result were – to say the least – very variable, and more Red cards were turned over than one would have expected (the ratio of cards turned over was seventeen Red cards for every twenty Black cards whereas it should have been closer to fifteen Red cards for every twenty Black cards). Some of the turns were very long or very short, and some of the ‘runs’ of cards of a particular colour were too long for playability (a player may well feel aggrieved if they had to sit through a ‘run’ of seven Black or Red cards as occurred more than once during the test).

I think that this basic concept will work quite well with a bit more development. In particular I need to:
  • Reduce the ratio of Black and Red cards turned over until it gets closer to what it should be
  • Try to ensure that the length of the turns is more consistent
  • Try to ensure that the ‘runs’ of cards are not too extreme
Back to the drawing board!

Interbellum Blog

Having thought long and hard about whether or not to set up a shared blog for those interested in imagi-nations and imaginary wars set in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, I have finally taken the plunge and done it.

The new blog is called INTERBELLUM and if you want to be a contributor/blog author go to the blog and contact me. I will then add you and your imagi-nation to the blog.

This is by way of being an experiment for me. I hope that it works ... but whether it does or not depends upon the level of interest it generates.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Card-driven Turn Sequences: Some further thoughts

The comments I received in response to my last blog entry have really helped me to develop my design for a card-driven turn sequence.

Currently the simple version of the card-driven turn sequence looks like this:
  1. Before the battle commences, each commander is allocated a playing card colour (Red or Black).
  2. Then the command ability of each side’s commander is assessed, and this generates the number of playing cards they are allocated.(For example, an 'Excellent' commander may get eight cards, an 'Average' commander may get six cards, and a 'Poor' commander may get four cards.)
  3. Each commander is dealt the number coloured cards that their ability allows them (e.g. Six Red cards; Eight Black cards). These cards are then placed together and a Joker is added to the pack. This pack of playing cards will be used to activate units during each game turn. The remaining playing cards are discarded for the rest of the battle.
  4. The pack of playing cards is shuffled and put face down where the players can see them.
  5. The top card of the pack of playing cards is turned over, and the colour is exposed for all to see. The player whose side has been allocated that colour may now choose one of their units to activate.
  6. Once the activated unit has completed all the actions it can take during a turn, the next playing card is turned over, and the sequence is repeated.
  7. If a Joker is turned over, the turn ends.
  8. When the turn ends, the pack is shuffled again and reused. This continues until the battle is concluded.
I am in favour of making this slightly more complex and less predictable by making a slight change to the second stage in the process. What I plan to do is to use more than one pack of playing cards so that I can have a larger 'activation' pack that contains several Jokers.

For example, Red is an 'Excellent' commander, and gets eight Red cards, whilst Black is an 'Average' commander and only gets six Black cards. The 'activation' pack starts with eight red cards, six Black cards, and a Joker. The process is repeated, and the 'activation' pack now contains sixteen red cards, twelve Black cards, and two Jokers. This can be repeated again ad infinitum, although I would suggest in this case that a maximum of thirty two Red cards, twenty four Black cards, and four Jokers will suffice as the 'activation' pack will contain sixty cards.

I experimented with an 'activation' pack like this, and the results were interesting. Some turns were very short and one side was able to activate far more units than their opponent, whilst other turns were longer and more balanced. In some cases one side was able to activate three or four units in a row. They could also have activated the same unit three or fours times in a row, which might have had a profound influence upon any battle.

I will continue my experiments, but feel that I am getting closer and closer to a viable working solution that meets the criteria I have already set down.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Card-driven Turn Sequences

As part of my project to develop a modernised version of Joseph Morschauser's rules, I have spent a lot of time recently experimenting with different card-driven turn sequences. The intention was to produce a system that met the following criteria:
  • It had to be simple
  • It had to have a degree of unpredictability
  • It had to incorporate some method by which differences in each army commander's abilities could be represented
  • It had to be rely on 'off the shelf' materials (i.e. no specially printed or produced cards
Over the years I have used several different card-driven turn sequences in my wargames rules. I therefore decided to start the design process by reviewing – in turn – each of them to see if any of them fulfilled my criteria.

The wargames rules that I had previously written (or helped write) included
  • Bundock and Bayonet
  • Restless Natives
  • Redcoats and Dervishes
  • Colonial Rules for Heroscape™ terrain
  • Solferino in Thirty Minutes
Bundock and Bayonet

There is no movement sequence in the traditionally accepted sense of the term (e.g. Both sides move all their troops; then all eligible units fire; then any close combats are resolved; and then any morale checks are made). In these rules the pack of playing cards determines who does what and when.

The system is very simple. The top card of the pack of playing cards is turned over, and the suit and colour is exposed for all to see. The player whose side has been allocated that suit and/or colour may now choose one of their units to "activate". This means that they must first test the unit's morale, and then they can carry out any permitted actions. When this has been completed, the next playing card is turned over, and the sequence is repeated. Once all the playing cards in the pack have been turned over, the pack is shuffled again and reused. This continues until the game is concluded.

Restless Natives
  1. The umpire (or the player who is acting as umpire) turns over the top card of the standard pack of playing cards.
  2. If it is a Red card, the British C-in-C may activate a unit under their direct command or pass the initiative to activate a unit on to one of their subordinate commanders. Once the activated unit has completed all the actions it can take during a game turn, the card is then added to the discard pile, and the umpire (or the player who is acting as umpire) begins the Turn Sequence process again.
  3. If it is a Red King, Queen, or Jack, the umpire (or the player who is acting as umpire) also deals each of the British players a further Special Event Card (subject to the rule that no player may hold more then three Special Event Cards at any one time).
  4. If it is a Black card, the Native C-in-C may activate a unit under their direct command or pass the initiative to activate a unit on to one of their subordinate commanders. Once the activated unit has completed all the actions it can take during a game turn, the card is then added to the discard pile, and the umpire (or the player who is acting as umpire) begins the Turn Sequence process again.
  5. If it is a Black King, Queen, or Jack, the umpire (or the player who is acting as umpire) also deals each of the British players a further Special Event Card (subject to the rule that no player may hold more then three Special Event Cards at any one time).
  6. If it is a Joker – and it is the first time a Joker has been turned over – then all the players must hand all their Special Event Cards to the umpire (or the player who is acting as umpire), who then deals each player one replacement Special Event Card. The Joker is then added to the discard pile, and the umpire (or the player who is acting as umpire) begins the Turn Sequence process again.
  7. If it is the second time a Joker has been turned over, the battle ends.
Redcoats and Dervishes
  1. A playing card is dealt, face up, to each unit or Leader except:
    • Opposing units or Leaders that ended the last turn in the same square as a result of a charge or hand-to-hand combat during the previous turn.
    • Impetuous cavalry and camelry units.
    • Those units that are disorganised.
  2. The undealt playing cards are placed face down where all the players can see them.
  3. Any Leader who has been dealt a King, Queen, or Jack is also dealt an Heroic Leadership card (subject to the rule that no player may hold more than 3 Heroic Leadership cards at the same time).
  4. Hand-to-hand combats are fought.
  5. If it is the first turn of the battle, any cavalry or camelry unit that has been dealt a red card becomes impetuous and must charge the nearest enemy unit. Any cavalry or camelry unit that becomes impetuous rolls two D12s per turn to determine the number of action points they have to expend upon movement until they come into contact with that enemy unit, after which they cease to be impetuous.
  6. Impetuous cavalry and camelry move.
  7. The unit or Leader with the lowest number playing card is activated first (N.B. An Ace counts as ‘1’) and throws an appropriate dice to determine how many action points they have. The unit, units, or Leader may then move and/or fire. Once this has been completed the unit, units, or Leader may not be activated again during this turn. In the event of two or more units or Leaders being dealt the same number playing card, the order of precedence used is Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, and then Spades.
  8. The unit or Leader with the next lowest number playing card is then activated and follows the same procedure as laid down in Step 7. This continues until all the eligible units or Leaders have had the opportunity to move and/or fire.
  9. Units that are disorganised may attempt to recover.
  10. The number of units that remain disorganised is checked to see if the ‘break off battle’ limit has been reached.
  11. Once the turn sequence has been completed, all the playing cards are shuffled ready for the next turn.

Colonial Rules for Heroscape™ terrain

  1. The top card of the pack of playing cards is turned over, and the suit and colour is exposed for all to see. The player whose side has been allocated that suit and/or colour may now choose one of their units to activate.
  2. They must first check the unit's morale, and then they can carry out any permitted actions.
  3. When this has been completed, the next playing card is turned over, and the sequence is repeated.
  4. Once all the playing cards in the pack have been turned over, the pack is shuffled again and reused. This continues until the game is concluded.
Solferino in Thirty Minutes

Each general was allocated a number of specially made activation cards, dependent upon the general's ability.

The activation cards were shuffled, and as each activation card was turned over, the general named on the card activated the units under their command.

A possible solution?

Each of the card-driven turn mechanisms outlined above has something to commend it, but none of them meet the criteria I set out to fulfil. I am currently experimenting with a system that does. It builds on the experience gained designing the mechanisms mentioned above (and borrows certain elements from some of them), and it works like this:
  1. Before the battle commences, each commander is allocated a playing card suit and/or colour.
  2. Then the command ability of each side’s commander is assessed, and this generates the number of playing cards they are allocated.
  3. All the allocated playing cards are gathered together and the remaining playing cards are discarded for the rest of the battle.
  4. The pack of allocated playing cards is then shuffled and put face down where the players can see them.
  5. The top card of the pack of playing cards is turned over, and the suit and colour is exposed for all to see. The player whose side has been allocated that suit and/or colour may now choose one of their units to activate.
  6. Once the activated unit has completed all the actions it can take during a turn, the next playing card is turned over, and the sequence is repeated.
  7. Once all the playing cards in the pack have been turned over, the pack is shuffled again and reused. This continues until the battle is concluded.
One interesting result of this turn sequence is that it is possible for a commander to activate the same unit several times during the same turn. Although this may at first appear odd, it does result in some interesting and unpredictable results. My experiments indicate that what is very important is that the difference in the number of playing cards allocated to the different commanders is not too great. Too big a difference can make it almost impossible for a poorer commander to do anything much to counter his opponent’s actions.

At present my experiments are continuing, but I feel fairly confident that I will have a draft set of rules that incorporate this new card-driven turn sequence ready for play-testing within the next fortnight.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

I have been to ... Skirmish 2010

I only found out that this show was on very recently, and as it was taking place at a venue that is less than fifteen minutes drive from my home, I felt that I had to go ... and I am very pleased that I did!

SKIRMISH actually takes place twice each year (in March and September), and it is described in the handout that I was given when I arrived as covering wargames, toy soldiers, Warhammer, and military modelling. The first three of these were particularly evident, and there were more than 50 traders selling a vast range of items from 54mm plastic toy soldiers to 6mm scale microarmour. The venue was a local grammar school in Sidcup, Kent, and the show was spread around the foyer area and two halls, one of which contained the demonstration and participation wargames and the 'bring and buy' stall.

Not knowing quite what to expect, I went with no preconceived ideas about what I might buy. In the end I bought a couple of DVDs and a model kit.

The first DVD that I bought was OMAR MUKHTAR: LION OF THE DESERT.

This film is set in 1929, when the Italians were trying to crush the remnants of the Libyan resistance to Italian colonial rule. The films stars Anthony Quinn as Omar Mukhtar, Oliver Reed as General Rodolfo Graziani, and Rod Steiger as Mussolini.

I saw this film when it first came out in 1981, and never realised that it had been released as a DVD. As it covers two of my areas of interest – colonial warfare and the interwar era – it was a 'must buy' when I saw it today.

The second DVD was a boxed set that contained GODS AND GENERALS and GETTYSBURG.

Whilst I have seen GETTYSBURG (it is jokingly referred to by several of my friends a 'Men in Beards'), I have yet to see GODS AND GENERALS. With a bit of luck I might be able to watch both films 'back-to-back' during my forthcoming Easter holiday ... if circumstances allow it!

My final purchase was made purely by chance. I happened to meet an old friend who was also visiting the show, and during our conversation I saw that one of the traders was selling some model tanks made by Pegasus Hobbies.

I have recently bought quite a few models of the 'Jaguarundi' tank with an eye to using them as the basis for several projects (the turrets for use on ironclads, the tracks for 1930s/40s tanks for my imagi-nations etc.), and thought that they were very good wargames models for the price. This time I bought the kits of the KV-1 (M1940) and KV-2 Soviet Heavy Tanks.

I was very pleased with this purchase because I discovered – when got home and opened the box – that both models could be made up as either the KV-1 or KV-2; in other words, I got four turrets for the price of two!

These 'spare' turrets have already made me think about the possibility of using them to arm armoured gunboats or armoured trains. In particular, the KV-2 turret, with its 152mm gun, would make quite a potent armament for a 15mm scale coastal defence ship as the gun would scale out as having a calibre of 211mm (or 8.3 inches).

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Laurania and Maldacia

Due to circumstance beyond my control, I have yet to start adding place names to my map of Maldacia.

In the meantime I have been writing a pronunciation guide for the Maldacian language, just as I did for Lauranian when I first 'created' it. I find that this exercise helps me come up with place names that make sense. It also makes me think about the sort of culture Maldacia will have.

Because both countries have at some time been part of the Roman Empire, the languages are both Latinate in origin. There are, however, some differences in pronunciation and spelling, and there are some imported words that have been absorbed into each country's language.

So as they say in Maldacia, 'Avero bello dio' (Have a nice day).

Friday, 19 March 2010

Lionel Tarr's Wargames

The only pictures I have ever seen of Lionel Tarr's wargame in progress were featured in the pages of Donald Featherstone's ADVANCED WAR GAMES and AIR WAR GAMES.

The three that featured in ADVANCED WAR GAMES showed his representation of Stalingrad ...

... whilst those that appeared in AIR WAR GAMES showed aircraft in 'flight' using his famous 'over the table' net.

John Curry has republished ADVANCED WAR GAMES as part of his HISTORY OF WARGAMING project.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Lionel Tarr: Another forgotten pioneer

In today's blog entry on the Vintage Wargaming blog there is a copy of an article written by Lionel Tarr. It appeared in the September 1960 issue of THE WAR GAME DIGEST, and describes Lionel Tarr's wargames table and figures.

In many ways Lionel Tarr was one of the most influential wargamers of his day. A version of his World War II wargames rules were published in Donald Featherstone's first wargames book WAR GAMES, and in my opinion they set the start point for all subsequent wargames rules for that period. A fuller version of his rules have been included in the latest republication of Donald Featherstone's book by John Curry as part of the HISTORY OF WARGAMING project, and when I recently re-read them I still found them inspiring.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Long live Maldacia!

I thought about it ... then I thought a bit more ... but I still could not come up with anything better, so my new imagi-nation will be called Maldacia.

I hope to begin work on filling in the place names on the map later this week, after which I will make a full size map of the country available via my Imagi-nations website.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

I need a name for my new imagi-nation: The situation begins to resolve itself

The general feedback that I have received so far indicates that Maldacia is currently the front runner to be the name for my new imagi-nation.

As Xaltotun of Python stated in his feedback, ‘Maldacia sounds ill-omened. Dacia was an old Balkan state that took on the Romans – see Trajan's Column – and mal means bad/ill, as in a malady, so 'Bad/Ill Dacia'.’ This neatly fits the bill because the original intention was that this new imagi-nation would be a potential enemy for Laurania to fight.

I have played around with the name Maldacia to see if I can ‘improve’ it at all. My results so far look like this:
  • Maldavia – This sounds a bit too much like Maldives for my liking
  • Moldacia – Again, this sounds a bit too much like a real country – Moldova – to work effectively as a name for an imagi-nation
  • Muldacia – This just does not sound right!
  • Malcadia – If Arcadia is some sort of rural utopia, would Malcadia be its dystopian counterpart? This has possibilities but …
On the face of it Maldacia still seems to be the most likely name for my new imagi-nation, with Malcadia as a possible second choice.

Monday, 15 March 2010

I need a name for my new imagi-nation!

I have been playing about with several different names for my new imagi-nation. So far I have come up with the following:
  • Fenetia – This is derived by replacing the 'V' in Venetia (the Italian name for Venice, the city that once controlled the area that the map I have created is based on) with the letter 'F'
  • Maldacia – This is derived by reversing the letters ‘D’ and ‘m’ in the name ‘Dalmatia’, and replacing the letter ‘t’ by a ‘c’
  • Ragusia – This derived from the old name for Dubrovnik (Ragusa) that gave its name to the dialect spoken along the southern end of the Adriatic coast
  • Veglia – This derived from the old name for an island in Kvarner, Northern Croatia, that gave its name to the dialect spoken along the northern end of the Adriatic coast
I have not yet decided which – if any – of these names I will use, and I may well end up with something completely different. Only time will tell.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

A new imagi-nation to go with Laurania: Progress made on the map

Since yesterday I have made quite a lot of progress with the map of the imagi-nation that will border Laurania.

I have added the rivers, contours, roads, railways, and towns to the map, and all I need to do now is to name the various locations and geographic features. Before doing that, however, I need to decide on the type of language the people of this still unnamed country will speak as this will determine the naming conventions I will use.

When I did this for Laurania I made the decision to base the language spoken (and therefore most of the place names) on the Latinate languages spoken in Italy, Spain, and Romania.

I think that this new country’s language will share many words in common with the language of Laurania, but probably with some Germanic influences in the way words are pronounced. This would reflect the fact I envisage that this country had – at some time in the past – formed part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

A new imagi-nation to go with Laurania: Outline map

As I wrote in my last blog entry, I have begun drawing a map of an imagi-nation that will border Laurania.

So far I have used the same basic methods that I used to draw the map of Laurania, and at present it looks like this:

I will be adding more detail to the map as and when I have the time and inclination.

Friday, 12 March 2010

A new imagi-nation to go with Laurania

In a fit of exuberance ... and because I wanted to do something a bit artistic this evening ... I have begun work on a map of a new imagi-nation that will border Laurania.

The basic outline is a somewhat distorted version of Montenegro's outline (Laurania was based on the outline of Albania, so this choice made a lot of sense). At present I have drawn in the frontier and internal county/district boundaries of the as yet unnamed imagi-nation, and the next stage will be to begin to add the terrain.

This is a project that I can work on as and when I feel like it. There is currently no deadline for its completion, but as soon as I have something interesting to share, I will.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

More books ... again!

The postman delivered a very welcome package from Amazon this morning ... my copy of AN ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MILITARY UNIFORMS OF THE 19TH CENTURY. This was bought on the recommendation of Ogrefencer, and was even better than I had hoped.

The book was written by Kevin F Kiley and Digby Smith, and Jeremy Black MBE acted as a consultant. It was published by Lorenz Press (an imprint of Anness Publishing Ltd) in 2010 (ISBN 978 0 7548 1901 1) and covers the following nineteenth century conflicts:
  • The Crimean War
  • Wars of German and Italian Unification
  • The American Civil War
  • The Boer Wars
  • Wars of the Colonial Empires
The quality of the illustrations is very good, and it has given me some ideas for some units that I may well want to recreate on the tabletop sometime soon.

A visit to the local branch of Waterstone's tonight enabled me to buy a copy of Harry Turtledove's latest book, HITLER'S WAR (Hodder & Stoughton [2009] ISBN 978 0 340 92182 1). Its premise is that World War II breaks out in 1938 as a result of the Munich Crisis and not in 1939, when the Germans invade Poland. As my dissertation – written many, many years ago! – compared Britain's military preparedness in 1938 and 1939, I will read his book with interest.

I have not always enjoyed reading some of Harry Turtledove's previous 'alternative history' books, but as this deals with the Interwar period, I will give it a try.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Whatever happened to the development of Joseph Morschauser's wargames rules?

I received an email from one of my blog's regular readers asking if I had given up on developing Joseph Morschauser's wargames rules.

The answer is ...

NO!

I have been doing quite a bit of developmental work with the turn sequence so that I can include an element of command and control without it taking over the whole game. This has been rather experimental and ... quite frankly ... would be rather boring to read about, hence the lack of recent blog entries.

So if you were wondering if I had given up on this project, keep reading; a new draft set of rules should be along in the next couple of weeks ... I hope!

Monday, 8 March 2010

Conflicts in the Interwar period

I did a trawl through the Internet and compiled the following list of conflicts that occurred during the Interwar period:
  • Austrian Civil War (Austrian Socialists vs. Austrian Conservatives/Fascists)
  • Battle of Khalkhin Gol (Japan vs. Russia)
  • Battle of Lake Khasan (Japan vs. Russia)
  • Chaco War (Bolivia vs. Paraguay)
  • Corfu Incident (Italy vs. Greece)
  • Cristero War (Mexican Clericals vs. Mexican Anti-Clericals)
  • Estonian War of Independence (Estonia vs. Russia)
  • Finnish Civil War (Finnish Reds vs. Finnish Whites)
  • Franco-Syrian War (France vs. Syria)
  • Franco-Turkish War (France vs. Turks)
  • Greco-Turkish War (Greece vs. Turkey)
  • Gugsa Welle's Rebellion (Pro-Empress Zewditu faction vs. Pro-King Tafari Makonnen faction)
  • Irish Civil War (Pro-Treaty Irish Republicans vs. Anti-Treaty Irish Republicans)
  • Irish War of Independence (British forces vs. Irish Republicans)
  • Italian invasion of Albania (Italy vs. Albania)
  • Italo-Abyssinian War (Italy vs. Abyssinia)
  • Latvian War of Independence (Latvia vs. Russia)
  • Lithuanian Wars of Independence (Lithuania vs. Russia)
  • Mukden Incident (China vs. Japan)
  • Polish-Czechoslovak border conflicts (Poland vs. Czechoslovakia)
  • Polish-Lithuanian War (Poland vs. Lithuania)
  • Polish-Soviet War (Poland vs. Russia)
  • Rif War (Spain and France vs. Moroccan Berbers)
  • Russian Civil War (Russian Reds vs. Russian Whites)
  • Sino-Japanese War (China vs. Japan)
  • Slovak-Hungarian War (Slovakia vs. Hungary)
  • Spanish Civil War (Republicans vs. Nationalists)
  • Third Anglo-Afghan War (United Kingdom vs. Afghanistan)
  • Turkish-Armenian War (Turkey vs. Armenia)
  • Ukrainian War of Independence (Ukraine vs. Russia)
  • Vlora War (Albania vs. Italy)
  • War of the stray dog or Incident at Petrich (Bulgaria vs. Greece)
I have tried to keep the list as simple as possible, and I have only listed the main protagonists on each side.

What I found most surprising when I compiled this list was how few but how many conflicts there had been between 1919 and 1939. It has gone some way to convincing me that the Interwar era has lots of potential for inspiring imaginary wars between imagi-nations.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Is it worth setting up an Interwar Imagi-nations and Imaginary Wars blog?

The recent responses to my blog entries about imagi-nations and imaginary wars set during the interwar period has made me wonder if a separate blog dedicated to this area of interest might be worth setting up.

What I envisage is a co-operative blog, run something along the lines of the Emperor v Elector blog. Comments (and expressions of interest in helping run such a blog) would be welcome.

Even more Interwar 'What Ifs?'

I have managed to recreate the drawings of the modernised Brazilian and Argentinian battleships that I 'designed' some years ago for a game about a naval arms race set in 1930s South America.

In my version of the South American arms race, the Brazilians decided to have their two battleships, MINAS GERAIS and SAO PAULO rebuilt and modernised by the British.

The resulting ships looked like smaller versions of HMS WARSPITE. During the modernisation both ships 'lost' two twin 12-inch gun turrets, had their reciprocating steam engines replaced steam turbines (with a resulting increase in speed), and their anti-aircraft armament enhanced.

The Argentinians had two American-built Dreadnoughts, MORENO and RIVADAVIA, but turned to the Italians when they wanted them rebuilt.

As a result the ships ended up resembling a longer version of the CAVOUR. These reconstructions were the most extensive of any carried out. The ships were given new bows, new steam turbine engines and boilers (which increased their speed), and had an improved underwater protection system designed by Pugliese.

In the process the ships also 'lost' two twin 12-inch turrets and their original secondary armament, but this allowed three twin 6-inch turrets and two twin 3.5-inch anti-aircraft guns to be fitted on each beam. Twin catapults and spotter aircraft were also now carried.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

More Interwar 'What Ifs?'

The ALMIRANTE LATORRE's sister ship, ALMIRANTE COCHRANE was taken over during World War I and converted into an aircraft carrier by the Royal Navy. She was renamed HMS EAGLE and served in the Royal Navy until she was sunk during World War II.

Not long after she was converted into an aircraft carrier she was offered back to Chile, but the offer was declined. I wondered what would have happened to her if she had returned to Chile as an aircraft carrier, and then been modernised by the Japanese in the late 1930s. The result looked like this:

The removal of the superstructure and the change to the bow makes a significant difference to her overall appearance, and she could easily pass for a Japanese aircraft carrier.

Interwar 'What Ifs?'

Some years ago I took part in a game that was about a 1930s naval arms race. It was set on an imaginary continent that was based on South America, and three countries had to expand their navies.

As part of the preparation for the game I used my computer to generate some drawings of what some of the actual ships of the South American navies would have looked like had they been modernised. I cannot find the original drawings, but last night I repeated the procedure for the Chilean battleship ALMIRANTE LATORRE.

I surmised that she might have been modernised by one of the major naval powers, and because of her position on the Pacific I selected the Japanese. The result looked like this:

She is still recognisable but now has a definite Japanese look about her.

Friday, 5 March 2010

More images from Things to Come

Korda used several interesting cinematic techniques in the film. One image that sticks in the mind is the silhouettes of marching soldiers. Although only a few figures were used, it gives the impression of a huge (and slightly ghostly) army on the move.

The tanks featured in the war that ends when the 'wandering sickness' kills off over half of what remains of the World's population show a considerable Art Deco influence.

To modern eyes they may look very impractical, but to a 1930s audience they must have looked both fantastic and plausible.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Things to Come

I happened to have enough time today to watch the majority of Alexander Korda's 1936 film THINGS TO COME. The screenplay was written by H. G. Wells and is adapted from two of his books; the novel THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME (1933) and the non-fiction work, THE WORK, WEALTH AND HAPPINESS OF MANKIND (1931).

The film starts with Europe apparently on the verge of an all out war.

The war starts when one side mounts a massive air attack using bombs and gas that devastates the centre of 'Everytown' (the capital of the unnamed country that is under attack, although the sight of what looks like St Paul's Cathedral in the background leave the viewer in no doubt that it is supposed to be London).

The war then degenerates into a brutal, bloody slogging match which is on an even greater scale than the fighting that took place during the First World War. This goes on for years, and only finally comes to an end when all the combatants are exhausted and civilisation is on the edge of extinction due to a plague that is called the 'wandering sickness'.

In 'Everytown' peace and order are restored by 'The Boss' or 'Chief', who then embarks on a military campaign to capture the coal mines that are currently under the control of the 'hill people' (probably an oblique reference to the Welsh).

It is this short section of the film that was of particular interest to me as the images seem to have been inspired by the sort of fighting that took place in the early 1920s in Russia. The whole look seems to suggest that the armies are very ill-equipped, and that most of their firepower is dependent upon rifles and machine guns.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

More interwar imagi-nations

I was very encouraged by the response to my earlier blog entry about interwar imagi-nations and have now 'discovered' some more. They include:

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Interwar imaginary wars

A separate but related topic to Interwar Imagi-nations are interwar imaginary wars.

These are international and civil wars that might have taken place in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, but that did not. Examples of the latter include a VERY BRITISH CIVIL WAR and THE END OF A COUNTRY THAT NEVER WAS. The second of these is Rudi Geuden's vision (and that of the other members of THE ANTWERP FUSILIERS) of what might have happened in Belgium if it had undergone a similar dynastic crisis as the UK did in the late 1930s.

These are, of course, the tip of a very large iceberg. There were several authors who wrote books and stories about what might have happened had a left-wing-inspired revolution taken place in the UK in the 1920s ... something that seemed a real possibility to people at the time.

In the 'real world' there were a whole raft of potential conflicts that might have taken place, but did not. For example, the German threats to annex the Sudetenland by force that led to the Munich Agreement of 1938 could have caused a European war if France and the UK had stood firm and refused to allow the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. This is one example of many, but it shows that the period between the First and Second World Wars is well worth greater study by wargamers looking for something a bit different.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Interwar imagi-nations

In a recent comment Abdul666 suggested that someone should set up blog that covers imagi-nations set in the 1920s and 1930s in the same way that Emperor vs Elector covers the 18th century. He mentioned Borduria and Opeland (the latter being my own 1930s imagi-nation) as examples of existing interwar imagi-nations.

I must admit that this idea appeals to me, and as a result I set about creating a list of suitable 1920s and 1930s imagi-nations that appear in literature. So far the list contains the following: I am sure that there are others, but I am presently unaware of them.