Thursday, 17 September 2015

Polemos and the One Hour Wargame combat system

Whilst sitting at my computer today, I happened to come across a file that contained the text of the rules of POLEMOS ... so I re-read them.


These rules had no chance element in their combat resolution mechanism; casualties were inflicted automatically depending upon the type of units involved and the range at which the combat was taking place. I always thought that this must have made the resulting wargame rather sterile, and in the past I had given some thought to devising a replacement combat resolution mechanism.

Next to my computer was my copy of Neil Thomas's ONE-HOUR WARGAMES rules book ... and I was suddenly struck by the thought that the simple D6-based combat resolution mechanism in his rules could easily be be used with the POLEMOS rules.

This is not as daft as it sounds. In the POLEMOS rules the twelve units start with a strength of 10 figures ... which is not that different from the basic 15 points allotted to six units in the OHW rules.

It is certainly something for me to think about over the next few weeks and months.

10 comments:

  1. There is actually a random element or at least a degree of unpredictability, not in the damage that is inflicted but in the ability of units to take damage and in this being hidden. (for those not familiar each player has to remove a number of figures from his units but these come from the hidden strength.)
    That said, a variable rate of loss could add a level of exciteme t to the game, making it a bit more warm blooded perhaps.


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  2. Bob,

    That sounds like an interesting, yet quite simple idea. I suppose, given that Polemos was intended to be for military training, rather than a recreational game, the designer could argue that his combat results reflected the 'norm', what might typically occur in such situations, so that players would not be tempted to rely upon mere chance, instead of carefully planned manoeuvres and combinations of the different arms of service, to achieve success.

    Or, perhaps the predictable outcomes, coupled with the square gridded terrain, might suggest that the designer was - albeit subconsciously - influenced by chess, like many creators of early military games.

    What would such a hybrid be called? A POOH game (POlemos One Hour)?

    Regards,
    Arthur

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  3. Ross Mac,

    I have used reduced strength units with the OHW rules, and it worked fairly well.

    If I was going to use the OHW combat resolution system with POLEMOS, I would probably suggest that basic units should have a strength of 15, but that the players had to reduce their total starting strength to a maximum of 150. This would mean that players would have to 'remove' 30 strength points from their army by either removing 2 complete units or reducing the strength of the majority of their 12 units. I think that the resulting game would then have a bit more appeal for non-professional wargamers.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  4. Arthur1815 (Arthur),

    I suspect that you may be right, bearing in mind that this was the age of free Kriegsspiel. In the absence of an experienced senior officer, the players would at least know that the result were not down to random chance or the umpire's whim.

    I think that 'selling' the idea of a combined POLEMOS/OHW as POOH is a great one ... and I expect to see an article about it in MW&BG in the very near future!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  5. I have not yet picked up the book. Does the 1891 Graphic illustration give a basic idea of the game set-up? Curtain, etc.?

    http://www.amazon.com/Emperor-Germany-Griffith-Berlin-Mansion/dp/B004C9273I/ref=sr_1_fkmr2_1/189-0550003-3712109?ie=UTF8&qid=1442555576&sr=8-1-fkmr2&keywords=kaiser+griffith+1891

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  6. I've seen something like this before but POLEMOS looks a bit more user friendly. When I was in the Army as an instructor I had access to many training manuals that weren't available to the average soldier. One book was Dunn Kempf, a war game that played like many micro-armor rules of the time. The other, and dammned if I can't remember the title, was an elaborate spreadsheet game that could be role-played, done as a map exercise (MAPEX) or played as micro-armor combat.
    It used elaborate charts that let the referee determine the composition of an attacking unit, the composition of the defender, terrain, weather, time of day, etc. The charts would tell you how many armor kills, infantry kills, equipment kills, aircraft kills the unit was capable of inflicting per turn, usually in 20 minute intervals. Of course everything had to be recalculated every time a unit took losses. There were pages of random decimal numbers too. It was a tedious and tiring game to play and I only ever ran a few turns as a solo role play.
    I loved the idea though with less of your success affected by random chance and rewarding better tactics.

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  7. " One book was Dunn Kempf, a war game that played like many micro-armor rules of the time. "

    You may be interested to know that these rules are now available from the Hostory of Wargaming project:
    http://www.wargaming.co/professional/details/dunnkempf.htm

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  8. Rahway,

    The game was set up with both sides able to see each other's positions, although a curtain or screen could be used if the players wished it.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  9. Mr. Pavone,

    POLEMOS is certainly playable, and although I do prefer some variance in casualty results in my games, I can see why the fixed results were used in POLEMOS. It was much more in keeping with the movement away from 'free' kriegssiel approach that was then currently popular.

    The Dunn Kempf rules were quite popular in their time, and Phil Barker has some interesting tales to tell about it. As to the spreadsheet game you describe ... well that sounds like something from Trevor Dupuy's QJM book, about which, less said.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  10. Mike,

    Thanks for mentioning that the Dunn Kempf rules are available from the 'History of Wargaming' project.

    All the best,

    Bob

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