Archive For The “Columns” Category
Brant Guillory, 14 May 2019
originally published at GrogNews.com
Note that this is a companion piece to the original column on recon & intel in tabletop wargaming.
In the tactical world, we have several different tools we use to ensure that we get the right data at the right time.
One of the key methods involves the use of map graphics. We use transparent overlays on standard-size military maps (1:50k) and use graphics to indicate enemy actions: locations of units, routes for movement, places we expect them to attack or defend, etc. (more…)
Brant Guillory, 7 May 2019
Brant Guillory: The “Sterrett Games” at the Origins War College seem to keep growing in popularity. Aside from the nomenclature, what can you tell us about the origins of these ‘exercises’?
Dr James Sterrett: I struggled to figure out how to present a paper at the Origins War College that would explain how CGSC uses games for military education. No approach worked well until I realized that the key was to stop talking about how the exercises worked – and instead to run an exercise.
BG: If I’m a new participant to this entire process, what should I expect when I walk in the door for one of these games?
JS: You’ll get a job! Well, at any rate, a job on a staff for the duration of the event. Jobs include roles such as the commander, the operations officer, and the intel officer. We’ll teach you the basics of that job, and then provide an overview of the US Army’s planning process. Then you start to do your job: you and the others on your staff use the planning process to create a plan for the battle. Once the plan is complete, or time runs short for planning, we transition to fighting the battle. At the end, we run a short After Action Review, in which we try to point out things that were done well (or poorly), and to discuss some of the learning points that might have been brought out if this were run at CGSC.
Brant Guillory, 9 April 2019
I mean, 25 years ago, this wouldn’t have made any ripples in the gaming world, so thanks, social media. That said, maybe this was a ripple that needed to be made.
For those of you that missed the kerfuffle, GMT Games elected to remove their upcoming Scramble for Africa game from their p500 list.
Depending on who is screaming loudest in your ear at any given moment, this is alternately (deep breath) the end of GMT, a well-reasoned decision about a difficult topic, whitewashing history, covering up and buying time for a failed design, a travesty of SJWs run amok, the dangers of GMT coloring outside the wargaming lines, walking back from something that never should’ve made it to p500, Marxist censorship, and/or rebooting the game under a different ‘skin’. Of course, which of those reasons you choose to believe is, like many other things, significantly influence by where you stand on most political issues these days.
I don’t know much about the design, other than what I’ve seen reported. I didn’t play an advance copy of it. I haven’t seen any advance materials on it. I missed the BGG forum meltdown over it, but there are others. But there’s been more than enough to dissect in the reaction to pulling the game, and I think there’s some discussion needed here.
First, let’s get this as out-of-the-way as we can:
GMT Games gets to publish whatever the hell the damn well please because it’s their company and they’ve been pretty successful over the past quarter-century making decisions for their business.
Everybody caught up so far?
Brant Guillory, 1 January 2019
In a tradition carried on from past lives, we’ve reached out to some friends in the gaming world, and asked a pair of questions about the year in gaming.
What was your best game-playing memory, moment, or experience over the past year, and what made it so great?
Part 2 today, to close out 2018, and part 1 yesterday.
Peter Bogdasarian – Wargame designer
Best gaming moment was probably committing the Imperial Guard in Pub Battles: Waterloo and having them shatter the Allied left so I could roll up Wellington’s army. Just found it very satisfying to see them strike such a decisive blow.
Best gaming experience was completing our campaign of Gloomhaven. I thought Cephalofair delivered the most polished RPG experience I have ever received from a tabletop game.
Jim Owczarski – Dragoon!
I am almost offended you would ask: the 1824 Kriegsspiel, as modified by Dr. James Sterrett, as played at the Wargame HQ at ORIGINS 2018. Seeing that many people excited about my favorite activity, much less game, was very special.
Close runner-up was starting up the 1809 Vol de L’Aigle operational Kriegsspiel currently running on the Armchair Dragoons forum.
Brant Guillory, 31 December 2018
In a tradition carried on from past lives, we’ve reached out to some friends in the gaming world, and asked a pair of questions about the year in gaming. Part 1 today, to close out 2018, and part 2 tomorrow.
What do you think was the biggest news story in the hobby gaming world over the past year, and why?
Byron Salahor – Dragoon!
Since I am reluctant to quote a single, definitive article, my vote for the biggest news story in the gaming world continues to be the ever-increasing popularity of Dungeons & Dragons. Over the last couple of years, this hallmark role-playing game has increasingly showed up in the oddest of places – like popular mainstream media. TV personalities (hullo Stephen!) discuss the game on late-night talk shows; respectable newspapers feature articles on how this odd, niche fantasy game is (surprise!) bringing people together, creating community, or is being used in the classroom. Local libraries are running D&D game nights; my local FLGS reports having sold “dozens” of starter kits in the run-up to Christmas, and an FLGS in a neighboring province stated on their social media feed that they just sold their 2000th copy of the 5th edition Player’s Handbook. While D&D will probably never become as popular as Risk, or Catan, or Monopoly, it is – in this gamer’s opinion – very heartening to see how a game that encourages imagination, cooperation, and story-telling has meaning and value in an age of electronic amusements.
Jeff Tidball – Game designer and GAMA board member
I think that it’s a bit unsung at the moment, and we’re only looking at the beginning of it, but I think that Tabletop Wire’s founding, and their ramp-up of legit daily journalism about the business side of the tabletop gaming hobby, has been really exciting this year. There’s simply no other place that’s doing that kind of work, and it’s been a real need for the business (in my opinion) for a long time.
Brant Guillory, 10 December 2018
How does intel work in board wargaming? How could it work? Here are a few thoughts.
What is Intelligence? What is Tactical Intelligence?
Intel is critical information needed to make decisions; that information is currently unknown, or known but likely to change. Tactical intelligence is specific to the battlespace in which a commander operates, and is needed to make decisions of a direct military nature, involving the employment of battlefield operating systems to accomplish his mission.
For example, a commander may not know the strength of the enemy’s force at all – a situation common in naval combat. In this case, he is dealing with a “pure” unknown. In another case, he may be familiar with the enemy’s initial strength, but following attrition for maintenance and expected harassment and interdiction (H&I) fires, it can be expected that the enemy will hit the commander’s main defensive belt at something less than full strength, but the exact strength is uncertain.
Another common occurrence in reality, but rare in games (especially historical ones because of the way that scenarios are designed), a commander might have a fairly complete enemy order of battle – and his reconnaissance may even have eyes on the enemy – but he has no idea what the enemy objective is.
In any case, there is information about the enemy that the commander needs. That information is intelligence. It’s often developed through inference, and it’s rarely an exact science. Based on what can be seen, what does that tell us about the enemy’s strength, intentions, and capabilities? Based on what is known, what can be extrapolated?
These are the challenges that commanders face in a real-world intelligence development environment.