Opinion & Product Reviews
General commentary, ramblings, and opinion from Auckland Wargaming Club members; along with any Wargaming product reviews that don’t fit within any of the specific period categories.
Well the latest Classic Wargamer’s Journal is out – and in it is an article from Dan Grove of the HATSOFF (Heart of America Tactical and Strategic Order of the Followers of Featherstone) Wargaming Club. Dan points out that in addition to rules for playing wargames a club also needs rules for the club itself. The HATSOFF Club have their 10 ‘commandments’ which have been in play for 35 years and Dan assures readers their club has run to the spirit of their intent the entire time. In the unlikely event something crops up outside the particular rules of a specific game they also have a ‘Quadribium’, which consists of the 4 senior club members, or the 4 members hosting the game(s), who are called on to make a unanimous adjudication – the Quadribium has been convened once in 35 years!
In March this year, my wife and I moved to Oxford in the UK. We will be here for a several years while my wife does genius things that I do not understand, similar situation to my wargaming.
I miss the AWC and its excellent members not to mention my Romans and newly painted ACW army. However, with England being the home of toy soldiers I have an excellent opportunity to buy buy buy. With that in mind, I visited the Foundry in Nottingham on July 23 for their open day with Sean (who was visiting the UK). Firstly, Nottingham has very few trees, no men in tights, no sheriff, and maid Marion had no teeth but she knew where St Mark’s road was luckily.
Mark’s Supplies is a new operation based in Auckland and intending to supply all New Zealand Wargamers, and any wargamers worldwide, with cost effective basing & flocking materials and accessories. Mark’s Supplies specialise in inexpensive modelling terrain materials as well as supplying useful tools such as hot wire cutters for polystyrene foam. For flock & scatter material they guarantee to offer more than twice the amount of product for less than half the cost of the ‘big name’ brands in the usual hobby & model shops…
Interesting thread recently [on the Yahoo!Group about attendance at the Club meetings and related areas of interest such as club competitions]. Some interesting points have been raised, and of course a few red herrings (unintentionally I am sure) have been thrown in there too.
Club competitions have two effects usually. They raise interest in a particular theme, but often cause people to stay away for a bit until the “silliness” (in their eyes) is over. Club periods can have the same effect.
One of the big challenges facing the club today is the debate in Ancients Gaming between DBMM and FOG. As in many other clubs and wargaming groups around the world at present there is a split between gamers who prefer FOG and those who prefer DBMM – luckily the AWC at least has no odd Ostriches still sticking to DBM (of course there is nothing really wrong with that if its your thing, but its a position causing a 3 way rules-set split of gamers in some areas so doesn’t help unify the scene)!
FOGN (Field Of Glory: Napoleonics) is a regimental game where 1 unit is a regiment. It has small units (1200-2000 men for infantry) and large units (2000-3000 men). This means it is an in-between scale game (sort of like Principles of War), where you can change formation into things that look like column, line, square and skirmish but aren’t really (and in practice you stay in one formation for most of the game in FOGN).
Round Robin and knockout competitions have been found wanting in wargames competitions, perhaps the most popular draw has been that known as ‘Swiss Chess”. However, recent discussions with CWS members and observation of the smallish numbers of competitors in many competitions have persuaded me that;
- The “Swiss Chess” system is not well understood;
- That “Swiss Chess” is not always the best system to use, especially where competitors do not outnumber available rounds by many.
Explanation Of The Swiss System:
The basic idea of the Swiss System is to cater for large numbers of competitors in a tournament of few rounds, allowing all to play in every round, yet retaining the knockout idea of providing a dramatic finish by matching the best two performers in the final round. This is achieved by progressively pairing players on the same or nearly the same cumulative scores. So far, so good.
In a preceding article Ion Dowman clearly demonstrates the correct way to run a Swiss Draw tournament. One of the important factors in the Swiss system is the “Pairing” of opponents, and consequently how participants are ranked based on their results during the tournament. I would like to make some further observations and comments on this.
An issue that I personally consider significant is whether a Win is of greater value than two Draws? I believe it is, the reason being the artificial constraints imposed by the tournament environment which prevent all games from reaching their natural conclusions. This effectively means those players who are slow (whether intentionally, or unintentionally), who use the Fabian tactics Ion alluded to, or who compete without a reasonable knowledge of the rule set being used can often end up ranked in the middle of the field at the conclusion and having won perhaps only one game! While those who play to complete their games in the time allowed (and perhaps win two games in 6 rounds) are effectively penalised in comparison!
All to often we play games with little thought about victory conditions, usually just to shoot ’em up and she’ll be right! However with a little effort and time before each game it can be given much greater depth, and consequently be more challenging and interesting to the participants. I would like to suggest some ideas for how this can be done.
Many wargamers play their games in isolation with little “purpose” behind them, the recent suggestion that a gamer’s tactics would change if their opponent got to ‘hit’ each element they lost with a heavy hammer is all too true, and it is this ‘strategic’ purpose that is lacking (we would all be very cautious if playing with the above rule)! The ideal situation to impose this ‘purpose’ is the campaign, this always puts an all new perspective to things, the opponents in a battle may not have the same objective for instance. Unfortunately 99% of the time we do not have the luxury of participating in campaigns (which is a pity) and so we need some way of creating these constraints artificially, one system I have come across is in one of my many rulebooks; “Washington’s Wars”. These rules were designed for French & Indian war action and the American Revolution, disappointingly the rule mechanics and effects on the table did not match the impressive packaging! The rules did however include one good idea about victory conditions and it is a variation of this that I will present below.
Or Why Ancients competitions are better for using win/draw/loss ranking systems.
Probably the 2nd loudest “discussion” at NatCon (held in Auckland, Easter 1997) was the ranking system used in the DBM competition. Some players had thought that ranking’s in the Swiss Chess draw would be determined by accumulated victory points, and were surprised to find that win/draw/loss was being used. Clearly the umpire and/or organisers stuffed up badly by not telling players exactly what variety of “Swiss Chess” was to be used, but why all the angst?? Isn’t one “Swiss Chess” system the same as any other? Not in this case!
A brief summary of the two systems:
DBM awards players from 0 to 10 victory points per game, so you just count these over the course of the competition, and the player with the most points wins.