Monday, 1 September 2014

Don't Cry For Me...

...or:  How I stopped worrying about the bomb and learned to love penguins.

Being some memories of the Falklands War Matrix Game.

This game was first run at Sheffield Wargames Society in 2000 and it is of this first game that my memories are least vague.  I ran it again the same year as a core session at Wargame Developments’ Course on Designing Military Conflict Simulations, then at a private games weekend in Nottinghamshire in 2005 and most recently at the Sheffield club again to mark the 25 anniversary of the conflict in 2007.

Having played and run several previous Matrix Games, I introduced a variation on the normal method of allocating the player order.  I had cards printed with the numbers 1 – 7, there being 7 players in this particular game.  This enabled me to decide the order in which arguments were to be made in a turn, giving the player I felt was doing best number 1 and thus giving players doing less well more time to concoct their arguments.  I don’t recall being the first to devise this variant but Tom Mouat credits me with its invention so that’s good enough for me!

As always with Matrix Games, a good set of players will greatly enhance the experience and add considerably to the stock of post-game anecdotes!  No-one who was there will readily forget ‘General Pinochet’ (a bearded Yorkshireman) flirting with ‘Mrs Thatcher’ (a tall and completely bald gentleman), calling ‘her’ a “beeg sexy woman…”  This first game saw a number of broadly historical events, including the dispatch of the British Task Force, many comings and goings at the UN and the sinking of the Belgrano.  Rather less predictable was the brief appearance of a Soviet fleet and some not very covert Chilean military assistance.  In the end, the Brits recaptured the Islands with modest losses and Galtieri found himself out of work.  As far as I can recall, the Brits have taken back the Falklands in every game – albeit with varying levels of unpleasantness

Map and counters
I drew the stylised map onto a sheet of flip chart paper (A1 sized – around 23 by 33 inches).  For the various units you could just use cardboard counters but I used various toys I had to hand.  The naval units were represented by 1/3000 warship models and the ground and air units by 1/300 scale models.  After the first game I even acquired a 1/600 scale Vulcan – just in case!

A final word

Don’t be tempted to read text messages while driving.  The Sheffield game in 2000 led to the receipt of my first ever text message and the laughter thus generated damn nearly led to a Volvo 850-shaped hole in a hedge.  Sent by er, ‘General Pinochet’ it read simply “GOTCHA!”

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Matrix Games book

Hot off the press from the History of Wargaming Project is this new book on Matrix Games.  My copy arrived this morning!

I have followed the development of the MG concept over the past 20+ years and designed several successful such games so it is pleasing to see this attempt to make MGs more accessible to both professional and hobby wargamers.

“In Matrix Games, knowledge, imagination, and persuasiveness dominate. Both the referee and the players find their greatest success by drawing on their storytelling skills. In many ways, Matrix Games boil down the art of gaming to its essence”. Peter Perla

Invented by Chris Engle, Matrix Games are an innovative way of wargaming situations and conflicts that traditional wargaming methods find hard to model. This book was written as a manual to help develop and run matrix games about modern conflicts. The examples included have all been used for real military training to develop understanding of complex confrontations.
This book includes:
A foreword by Peter Perla, author of the classic Art of Wargaming.
An introduction to Matrix Games        
S.C.R.U.D. Simple Combat Resolution Using Dice

The five scenarios are:
The Falklands War (1982)
Chaoslavia- Former Yugoslavia (1993)           
Crisis in Crimea: A Counter Revolution (March 2014)            
The Red Line- The Civil War in Syria (August 2013)  
Lasgah Pol- Peace keeping in Afghanistan (2008)

As can be seen from the list above, the book includes my own Falklands War game which has been used by the military establishment of at least one country...

At £12.95 this book is well worth a look - even if you are simply curious about how MGs work and their possible applications.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Elchingen 1805 - part 2

Nearly forgot to post this - the second half of my game report!  Above can be seen the Austrian counterattack on the village while to the right(!) if the frame are some Austrian cuirassiers off to do battle with the French heavies.
The cavalry battle - watched by some French gunners.
A brief but bloody affair, the French had (just) the best of it.
An overview of the centre.
The French Cantiniere taking her horse to water.  I wonder if it had a drink...
Austrian infantry sweeping round the flank
The French still clinging to the village....
...and taking the ridge from the flank.  Sneaky!
More cuirassiers!  The plucky Cantiniere cheers on the French cavalry.
Endgame.  The French clinch a narrow and hard fought victory by overrunning the Austrian guns.  To quote the French General "It was the chaps in bicornes what done it."  It probably sounded a lot better in French.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Fishbed fun - part 3

The MiG-21 is now complete.  The photos were taken in something of a rush on a rather untidy painting table.  I used the Soviet markings included with the kit.

 Little Ivan at the controls.  Actually the pilot was missing from the kit and this chap came from the spares box.

In the not too distant future I will post some rather better photos of the MiG actually in use in a game!