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!
Combat Tanks Collection Magazine from the UK is now available here in NZ – you can subscribe on line or pick it up from Whitcoulls or similar book stores. Each issue includes a 1/72nd Scale Die-Cast Model similar to those produced by Dragon Armor; Forces of Valor; and similar. The magazine covers World War II and more Modern Vehicles. This is a great way to get some good quality models for Wargaming World War II & Modern conflicts in 1/72nd (20mm) scale. Issues cost NZ$19.95 each so you get the model for half or less what a Dragon Armor or FoV model would cost; albeit the models aren’t quite the same quality as the latter 2 manufacturers (e.g. no weathering effects). The publication has been running for about 24 months in the UK and over 12 months in Australia with 2 issues normally coming out each month. The following is an approximate list of what models have in been each issue in the UK…
Last year, 1995, the United States Marine Corps began trials of a modified LVTP7 amphibious APC with a rather interesting Power plant; A gas turbine-driven electric generator of some 750 thousand watts of power production. Electric current from this generator drives two engines on the tracks and two aquajet water drives, replacing the Diesel engine and standard Hamilton Jets. Even including the mass of the complex cooling fans required for the gas turbine, the weight is precisely the same as what has been removed, and in fact the situation for the engine now becomes more flexible; the lighter fuel storage system required has improved the performance of the vehicle by around ten percent in speed.
This is a vindication of the 1990 study by the US Department of Defence that predicted the day of the “ All-Electric Tank “ was within sight; An armoured fighting vehicle in which locomotion, weapons and defences are driven by electricity. This is not Sci-Fi, in the sense of ray-guns, but Science Fiction that becomes Science Fact, and it has some very interesting effects on wargaming.
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.
1st Armoured Division, WDA.
Formed July 1942.
- 1st Mobile Infantry Regiment.
- 1st Anti Tank Battalion.
- 1st Tank Regiment.
- 5th Tank Regiment.
- 1st Armoured Recon Unit
- 1st Mobile Artillery Regiment.
- 1st Armoured Divisional Antiaircraft Defence Unit.
- 1st Armoured Divisional Engineer Unit.