Monday 29 May 2017

Conference of Wargamers 2017 - session list

Updated with four additional sessions 31/05/2017
This years COW takes place at Knuston Hall from 7 - 9 July.  The sessions so far offered are as follows:

By John Bassett and the Holborn group
The Most Dangerous Place On Earth
An edifying and uplifting game on the 1961 Berlin crisis suitable for aspiring Cold Warriors of all ages.  Your chance to end the world before the conference even begins...

Russell King
Why Is There So Much Hatred In America Today? Series 2
Still the “reverse X Factor” format, still set in 1960s USA, and still presented by Walter Cronkite – and with all your old favourites such as George Wallace, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, and Timothy Leary. But…… with enhanced TV coverage, the more soundbitey script requested by Series 1 participants, and amongst new guests Gore Vidal, Stokely Carmichael and George Lincoln Rockwell have already agreed to appear – the only question is, will they make it through to the end of series dinner party in New York past the vengeful and cruel assassins?

Russell King
Firefight’s Grand Day Out
SPI’s 1976 Firefight on modern armoured tactics, partially commissioned by the US military, was rubbish …. or was it? A participative workshop session starts with a presentation of this simple board game, a run of a game as a miniatures game, and a lively workshop format consideration of the many possible ways to improve it including scenarios.  No prior experience needed. Please feel free to bring your own 1/300 or 1/285 eye candy to the session!  The aim is for the last hour to be a game in participants’ preferred format.

John Armatys
It has been a long time since there was an ideas exchange session at COW, so people might have a lot of good ideas about all sorts of things wargames related to promulgate...

Rich Biggs
This session starts with playing the ‘rescue Gordon’ scenario, followed by a lively discussion on how to improve the rules.  These rules use a deck of playing cards to resolve things and 54mm figures. White feathers are also available.

John Bassett
Fall Edelweiß
An Army Group/Front level game on von Kleist's 1942 Caucasus offensive.  An attempt to produce a simple game in which the key factors are logistics, intelligence and planning.

John Bassett
Rote Armee Fraktion
A matrix game on the rise and fall of an earlier generation of superstar terrorists, the Baader-Meinhof revolutionary group in 1970s West Germany.  Liable to be a black session.

Ian Lowell
A light-hearted diversion on the death of Tutankhamūn, involving scarabs, dice, playing cards, the usual suspects and most probably a dead pharaoh.  Any relationship to any living, dead or historical personage and/or insect is strenuously denied.

Ian Lowell
Further investigations into chariot warfare by way of a talk and how to wargame it.

Russell King
The Warsaw Pact Political Consultative Committee 1981
A simple but accurate drinking game of the last days of the Brezhnev era. It will be an advantage not to have any skills in RPGs for this game, but those who have them are equally as welcome. No rules, but full briefing and pre-prepared speeches given for all comrades during the opening drinks. Fancy dress optional.

Ian Drury
The Greater Enemy: Operation Crusader, 1941
A double-blind map game of the first battle in which British and Commonwealth forces defeated a significant body of Germans — the Afrika Korps — in the Second World War. The game is a work in progress: a test of the mechanisms that I hope will sustain a larger scale 4-5 hour game in the future. Players represent corps and army commanders, and anyone volunteering to be a liaison umpire (two would be good) will have their pick of roles in future games.

Ian Drury
Hurrah Boys, We’ve got them!
A return trip to Knuston for my 15mm Plains Wars figures, in a revised version of the rules I used in the 1990s. Between 1868 and 1878 the US Cavalry made 18 attacks on Indian villages (each approx 200 tepees) and all were successful. What can possibly go wrong? 

Sue Laflin-Barker
Asterix and Redbeard’s Treasure
A re-run, slightly revised, of the game I ran at COW some years ago. Again the game is set in the Forest of Broceliande and features the three groups, Pirates, Gauls and Romans and a treasure, which may or may not exist, reputedly hidden by a previous Redbeard, grandfather of the present Pirate Captain.

Sue Laflin-Barker
To Sail the Spanish Main
An excessively simple naval game involving pirate and merchant ships and possibly some from the Royal Navy. Captains have limited control over their ships and contact with anything involves someone being sunk, possibly with loot collected by the victor. The winner is the one with most pieces of eight – or possibly on a bad day the last ship left afloat.

Graham Evans
Northampton 1460
Take a chance to play the participation game produced for the Northampton Battlefield Society enabling a historically believable refight of the Wars of the Roses Battle of Northampton in about 15 minutes. Players are presented with the options available to the various commanders and characters present and have to choose how and when to use the actions and resources available to them. The game has a scoring system that measures how far away from the historical outcome the players are and the resulting consequences for the history of this Scepter’d Isle. Copies of the published version will be available for sale as well, and you don’t even have to play the game in order to buy one.

Graham Evans
If You (still) Tolerate This
After more than five years this set of Spanish Civil War Divisional Level rules for 15mm figures has been given a sufficiently significant refresh to justify returning to COW for a session. The rules feature an activation system to simulate the difficulties both sides suffered and fire and melee systems designed uniquely for the period. So if you like lots of toy soldiers hammering at each other under the fierce Iberian Sun this is the game for you.

Tim Gow
The session which has everything: big toy soldiers, a kinetic shooting system, maps and even a potted history of the campaign.  Honed to perfection over six years of gently pondering and several minutes of development, this may well be the last medieval wargame you ever want to play.
A mercifully brief game which will run at least twice during the session.

Nick Drage
The evolution of player tactics in the video game Watch_Dogs
(and why that illustrates how wargamers are so clever )
Watch_Dogs is a near-future "open sandbox" video game where you play a hacker able to manipulate the technological infrastructure of the Smart City of Chicago.
A highlight of the game's design was its "online hacking" mode, whereby other online players could surreptitiously join your game and turn it into a hacking battle.  However by using the "hacker mindset", which I argue many wargamers possess, it was possible to gain a distinct and unfair advantage over other players contrary to the game designers' intent.
This presentation will give a brief overview of the game, and then show how innovative players were able to manipulate design issues in Watch_Dogs to defeat opponents.  This illustrates both how counter-intuitive hacking can be, and how useful and rare the wargamers'
mindset can be.
Prior knowledge of video games or cyber security will not be required to understand the presentation, in fact feedback from gamers outside of video games is particularly welcome.

WD Display Team (North)
The WD Display Team (North) (and Sheffield Wargames Society) game for the 2017 season. The same scenario from Military Training Pamphlet No. 33, Training in Fieldcraft and Elementary Tactics, 1940 as was used to introduce the rules at COW 1996 but now with the radical innovation of hexes.

Andrew Rolph
75 years on, this is a board game representing the German attacks on Stalingrad from mid September 1942 to the beginning of November of that year. Weekly turns, interactive combat resolution and pretty straightforward rules. Inspired originally by Mike Elliot's 'A Terrible Beauty' from COW 2016 it features any number of mechanisms stolen from that game and a great many others.

Tim Gow
How the West was really won.  The game of the film of the book.  Or to put it another way, movie-style gunfights in the Old West.  Featuring 54mm figures and matrix arguments.

Martin Rapier
KARTENSPIEL, by Phil Sabin
“In the whole range of human activities, war most closely resembles a game of cards.” Carl von Clausewitz
A game for up to 10 players which models an early nineteenth century battle. No dice involved, but considerable fog of war may be present and the mechanisms may be useful for a range of situations. This rather splendid game is buried in the appendices to Professor Sabins 'Simulating War', and having run it at the Sheffield club, it was deemed worthy of the full COW treatment.

Mike Elliott
Following on from the success of "A Dark Night in Whitechapel" last year, here is a rerun with updated rules based on the suggestions from participants. Have you got what it takes to survive trading in the oldest profession on the streets of London?

Mike Elliott
Being a recreation of the battle of St Fagans, 1648 during the Second Civil War.

John Curry
Trireme and Bireme
A Game of Ancient Naval Fleet Combat.  Nearly all ancient tactical wargames are concerned with the detail of individual ship combat, recreating the skirmishes of the ancient naval world. By way of contrast, this set of rules is an attempt to recreate the fleet actions of the period.

Tom Mouat
WW1 Trench Raid
You play British soldiers taking part in a night-time raid on German trenches in 1917. It has been quiet – too quiet… High command wants to find out what is going on… This is a role-playing game for up to 8 people.

Tom Mouat
Battlegroup Kriegsspiel
This is some work I’ve been doing for the Army. Trying to come up with a simple two-sided, double blind, Kriegsspiel that military units can use for training and education of junior officers. Up to 6 players.

Tom Mouat
Baltic Challenge
The new Cold War is hotting up. Events in the Baltic States have been tense, with ethnic Russians in Estonial and Lithuania protesting about discrimination and the Latvian SS parades. NATO has deployed “tripwire” forces to the region in retaliation over the situation in the Ukraine and Putin has threatened to hold “snap” exercises on the Russian border and in Belarus… This is a Matrix Game for 6 people based on the current situation in the Baltic.

Tom Mouat
Fetch Felix
A role-playing game about Bomb Disposal in 1970s Northern Ireland, for up to two people… Just grab Tom in the foyer (ooh, nasty!). There are no detailed maps or toys, just your imagination and a few dice…

Mike Young
This session starts by explaining what Blockchain technology is and how it functions.. In particular, we will look at Ethereum-style Blockchains that can enforce contracts between participants, and the possible effects this will have on conflict in the future. 

This will be followed by a game representing a cyber war between governments and groups of international criminals (with the two sometimes being indistinguishable).  The unique feature of this game will be that the players will use a Blockchain to enforce agreements and offers. Ransomware, kidnapping CIA backdoors, extortion, and political embarrassment points will feature.

John Curry
Mechanised Infantry Battalion Staff in a combat situation Gaming Simulation Device (1975)
From the archives of the History of Wargaming Project.  The game is designed to be played as training wargame with the maximum of learning taking place.  The scenario is a company defence of a hill line (vital ground) against a Bn attack over a river. Each side is portrayed as American in terms of the units, but the attackers (the Russians) have a very Russian like assault plan.

Jim Roche
1917 from Zimmermann to Allenby with songs including the Internationale for Lenin and British classics.  As well as a monthly look at 1777 and Britain's earlier interactions with our American cousins 330 years ago, 'Oh say can you see'.

Alan Paull
A prototype 2-player strategy micro-game with action cards, armies, and a few VP cubes, inspired by Clausewitz’s On War.
Scenarios include:
·         Introducing War: the basics
·         Limited War: 18th Century warfare
·         Vive l’Empereur: Napoleonic Wars
·         The war to end war: World War 1 in the West
·         On War: war and politics
5 minutes to learn, 30 minutes to play, much time for discussion

Stephen Aguilar-Millan
Putin Rolls The Dice

Description: The purpose of the session is to examine how a political game can be crafted onto a commercial game to be used to generate a set of potential future conflict scenarios. Using the commercial game 'Putin's War', we shall attempt to consider some options if President Putin were to attempt to recapture the 'lost' territory of Eastern Europe. The focus is on the politics of grand strategy.

Friday 26 May 2017

Israeli Skyhawk

Latest out of the dusty aircraft pile is this only slightly shabby A-4 Skyhawk in Israeli colours. I'm not sure of the origin of the kit.  Airfix perhaps?
Aside from reattaching some wobbly extremities I have only varnished over the markings.

Thursday 25 May 2017

Newfoundland Memorial Park - European Road Trip Day 1, Part 3

I still have about another 12 posts-worth of photos from our recent visit to NW Europe.  This post concludes Day 1 with a visit to the Newfoundland Memorial Park near Beaumont Hamel, south of Arras.
Above - the park was on the Somme battlefields and some of the original trench lines are still in evidence.
 The 29th Division memorial.  This division saw action on day 1 of the Somme battles.
Some of the trenches have been floored in order that visitors may experience their twists and turns. And yes, by now it was raining.  But that seemed somehow fitting - after all, some mild weather-related discomfort is a small price to pay compared that levied on the parks permanent residents.

In a corner of the park is Hawthorn Ridge Cemetery No.2.  Most of the 200 inmates were killed on 1 July 1916.  Over 50 remain unidentified.
 I always look out for Black Watch graves.  Here L. Cpl Hutchison shares space with Pvt. Mansbridge of the Royal Fusiliers.
Hunter's Cemetery (named after a chaplain attached to the Black Watch) occupies a large shell crater and it's 40+ dead are mostly from 51 Highland and 63 Royal Naval divisions.  It dates from the November 1916 battles.

 All the cemeteries are beautifully kept.

 I particularly wanted to visit the 51st (Highland) Division memorial...
 ...which is very imposing.

 This bench in the park had been presented by a Freemasons Lodge in Newfoundland, Canada.

The Y Ravine Cemetery holds over 400 casualties....
 ...including several Black Watch...

 ...Royal Navy...
 ...and Newfoundlanders.

 The impressive Newfoundland monument features a Caribou

Well worth a visit whatever the weather.

Thursday 18 May 2017


This splendid tri-motor bomber was part of last year's excess at Partizan. I'm not sure of the maker but I recall Airfix produced such a kit - which I confess I always coveted.
 Clearly only a maniac would use such a thing in a game......

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Le Mur des Fusillés - European Road Trip Day One, part 2

Still in Arras, and indeed still in the citadel, is Le Mur des Fusillés  where resistance fighters and the like were executed during WW2.  A strange place to visit on such a pleasant sunny day.
The plaques commemorating the dead cover a large area of the fort's original walls.  Here are but a random few:

   The site of the execution post.
To lift the mood a little I had a look round some of the citadel walls...
...and the nicely (rebuilt after WW1) squares in the town centre.

Monday 15 May 2017

Arras - European Road Trip Day One part 1

As you'll have gathered from my previous post, Mrs Gow and I been away in mainland Europe for a few days.  The device pictured above was both our transport and accommodation for the week.  Sharp eyed readers will note that this is a different 'Command Bus' to that deployed last year in Belgium.  A wee bit bigger all round, it is still less than 6 metres long and provided a very comfortable home from home.
We used the overnight P&O ferry from Hull to Zeebrugge, arriving on the morning of Saturday 6th May.
 After crossing the border into France, first stop was Arras.  Specifically the Citadel.  One of M. Vauban's finest, this was occupied until recently by the French Army.  Now it forms the site of new student accommodation - lucky sods!
 The chapel is particularly pleasing.
 Mrs G takes in the atmosphere.

 The interior of the chapel.
The walls are adorned with lists of the fallen - mostly from a single engineer regiment in the Great War..

 There are also plaques commemorating other units...
...and more recent conflicts.
The Great War dead of 1st Escadron du Train - I'm not sure how big this unit was but I suspect this list represents a casualty rate of about 200%  Grim.

Thursday 11 May 2017

10 May 1940

I am currently away in Europe with only sporadic internet access.  
Lest it be thought, however, that I had forgotten that 10 May was the anniversary of the German assault on the west, I can now reveal that I spent most of yesterday in Bastogne. 
While there I was privileged to witness a ceremony commemorating the death on 10 May 1940 of Chasseur Ardennais Caporal Emile Cady during the German invasion of Belgium. 

There is much more to report this trip which so far has taken in Arras, Cambrai, Sedan, Verdun and Bastogne. But tonight let's raise a glass for Emile.

Edited 15/05/2017 - for some reason I couldn't get the photos to load up 'in the field' so here they are at last!