Posts Tagged “Battle Lab”
Rapid fire thoughts about your game acquisitions ~
Brant, 27 April 2020
Plenty of us have a stack of wargames that we haven’t played yet. And quite frankly, there’s a not-insignificant portion of that stack that is, in all honesty, unlikely to ever get played. Occasionally, we’re just holding onto something in unpunched condition (ie, “investing”). Sometimes we got it, read thru it a bit, and decided we weren’t going to play it after all. But how many of us bought something with the express purpose of studying the game more than playing it?
What do you buy? What do you read or study? And what do you actually play?
That brings up a very interesting three-part question: What do you buy? What do you read or study? And what do you actually play?
In my case, I buy a lot of games from designers and companies I like to support (that said, I’m a bad comparison for “what do you buy?” because as a regular reviewer of games and convention event organizer, I don’t spend nearly as much on games as it might appear). But the games that I study and the games that I play do tend to diverge quite a bit. (more…)
Seeing a new way to do things ~
Brant, 31 March 2020
The professionals talk about wargaming in very different terms than the casual hobbyists do. Don’t get me wrong, the professionals know the difference between a hobby or game and their jobs. Most of them also wargame for fun, and have a huge knowledge of the hobby. But for casual wargamers the professional uses of wargames mainly seem like two cases, and an occasional third.
Brant Guillory, 2 July 2019
There’s an interesting thread / discussion over at BoardGameGeek about an oft-tread topic of “how many ____ games do we really need?”
This question is invariably muttered under the breath whenever a new Stalingrad, Gettysburg, D-Day, Waterloo, or Bulge game is released, we’re rapidly approaching those saturation points for Sicily, Jena/Auerstedt, Battle of Britain, Shiloh, Midway, Leipzig, strategic-level AWI games, and Kursk.
Great, another game about the same old battles, in the same old places, with the same old contestants, resulting in many of the same old results and lessons learned. The fact that no one even needs to reference a map or any further details when discussion the Peach Orchard, or Hougoumont, or Sainte-Mère-Église, or the Tractor Factory tells you how well we’ve over-gamed these topics. Or have we? (more…)
What aren’t we training, and why not? ~
Brant, 23 May 2019
The US military has a wargaming problem. Well, honestly, they’ve got a bunch, but we’re only going to focus on one specific problem in this column. And I have no idea if other militaries suffer from a similar problem, so I’ll let our international readers (both of you!) chime in with your thoughts if you’ve got some inside information.
The core of the issue is this: US military games don’t account for soft factors, like morale, training, esprit de corps, technical competence of the commander, or simple soldier skills, among literally dozens of others.
Look, we know that not all units are created equal and that not all leaders are equally competent. But there’s never a platoon of morons in a JANUS exercise, and at BCBST, you’re never allowed to stick C CO in the rear of the march column because if they were out front they’d be the most likely to get lost en route. Well, you’re allowed to stick them in the rear, but if the evaluators ask you why, you’d better not give that answer, because how dare you accurately assess a weakness of a subordinate unit and then develop a plan to minimize the exposure to that weakness (and isn’t that a real piece of risk management?).
Brant Guillory, 14 May 2019
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.