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A Comprehensive Wargames System

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A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby thistlebarrow » Mon Apr 03, 2017 3:29 pm

In 2006 I designed a comprehensive wargames system to provide me with interesting battles to wargame. So far it has provided 252 and is still going strong.

It is a very simple system which can be used for any period from ancient to Star Wars, any scale from 2mm to 54mm and any size of wargames table. It can handle any wargame from skirmish to world war.

This system would be suitable for any wargamer from complete novice to jaded veterans. The whole concept is that it is tailor made to what you want to do and how you want to do it.

I use it to run a Napoleonic campaign, but it could be adopted for any period

For most of the 40 plus years that I have been wargaming I have been searching for the perfect system, the Holy Grail of wargaming. I am not saying that this is it for everyone, or perhaps even for any of you, but it has been for me.

If you already have a collection of figures, a table and a set of wargame rules there is no expense in setting up this system. If you have none, then this is a good way to plan what you want to achieve in time.

The introduction is on my blog now. You can find it here

http://napoleonicwargaming.blogspot.com.es/

Over the next few weeks I will cover planning and preparation, the campaign system and wargame rules.

If anyone would like to convert the system to their own use I would be happy to give any assistance that I can.

However even if the whole system does not appeal I hope that some of you may find it thought provoking and that you may be able to use parts of it.
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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby subedai » Mon Apr 03, 2017 8:02 pm

Looks very interesting.

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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby thistlebarrow » Sat Apr 08, 2017 9:23 am

The first post considers planning and preparation, and in particular setting an objective of what you want to achieve at the end of the process. I suggest how you might make a start, and use my own planning and objective as an example.

There will be about 10-12 posts and each one will deal with one step in the process. In each one I will try to explain the basic principle, and then use my own experience as an example. I have tried to keep each post short and to the point. The idea is to allow anyone interested in adopting my system plenty of time to absorb each step.

I would be happy to answer any questions about each step either on this forum or on my Yahoo forum.

I have approved all applications to join my Napoleonic 1813 Campaign forum. If you have applied and not received a reply please try again.
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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby thistlebarrow » Sat Apr 15, 2017 1:17 pm

This week make an inventory of what model soldiers and scenery you have available, and what you need to obtain, in order to achieve your objective. I use my own inventory as an illustration of how to tackle this.
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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby thistlebarrow » Sat Apr 22, 2017 5:31 pm

Having decided on your objective and then calculated how many figures and facilities you have, or are prepared to obtain, the next step is to decide how you are going to organise them.

A lot will depend on your objective and the figures available. If you want to play skirmish wargames, even if they are in different areas and even periods, then you will probably be able to provide all the figures you will need. You may need more scenery or terrain, but that is not a great problem.

However if your objective is to fight a major campaign, or worse still a series of campaigns, you will need a lot of figures. If you are unwilling, or unable, to obtain them all then you are going to have to compromise. However you will have to live with your compromise, so it is worth putting a little effort into how best to achieve your objective with what is available.

I wanted to fight the whole of the 1813 campaign in Germany and Spain, but I only had just over 1500 figures. Worse still they were painted and based as 36 figure infantry battalions.

This week I explain how I organised them as 20 allied and 16 French corps without repainting or rebasing a single figure.
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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby thistlebarrow » Sat Apr 29, 2017 10:09 am

This week the blog entry explains how the corps are organised into armies and why the 1813 campaign was chosen. The aim is to use all of the different nations in rotation and also to use the collection of north and south European buildings I have available.

As the wargame is the most important aspect of the campaign, the size of the armies in relation to the tabletop space available is very important, as it the ability to be able to wargame any size battle provided by the campaign.

The blog contains a photograph to illustrate this point, showing an example of the largest battle possible with my campaign, which is four corps per side,

This is the last blog about the model soldiers, next week I explain how I designed the wargames table in relation to the size of the armies and the campaign map.
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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby irishserb » Sat Apr 29, 2017 2:04 pm

Hello,

I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for sharing your campaign game methodology. Thus far, I have found your posts to be clear, efficient, and endlessly interesting, as we do a similar thing, but come from almost completely opposite ends of the miniatures gamer spectrum. I am one of those people that probably falls outside of your definition of "wargamer", and given the differences between our approach to our hobbies, the joy I find in your posts is the difference in the perspective. It doesn't hurt that I might learn something practical about the campaign game as well. In any event, thank you for sharing your thoughts, I greatly look forward to future posts.
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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby thistlebarrow » Sat Apr 29, 2017 2:37 pm

Thanks very much for your comments. It’s nice to get some feedback, especially when it is so complimentary. I had hoped that this series of blogs might spark off some discussion but very little so far.

I hope that you have not taken my “definition of a wargamer” as any sort of criticism. I was simply struck by how many people are happy to come under that group title these days, even if they do not actually wargame with figures. When I started back in the 60s it was considered a put down, particularly by the BMSS collectors of Britains 54mm.

After I had been collecting Airfix and Hinton Hunt for a couple of years I found a very useful book in my local library. It was called “Collecting Model Soldiers” by Henry Harris. The illustrations were, if I remember correctly, mostly BMSS type collections. And, again from memory, he seemed to be concerned with Victorian era British Empire type figures. But he explained how to go about collecting model soldiers in an organised manner. For example the relative numbers of guard to line, and infantry to cavalry. It was a real eye opener for me, and caused me to completely rethink what I was doing.

It was in the hope of providing a similar viewpoint to a new generation of inexperienced wargamers that I decided to pass on my hard earned experience. And particularly as my present campaign has provided such interesting wargames over such a long period.

Thanks again for your comments. And I hope that you continue to enjoy the remainder of the series.
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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby irishserb » Mon May 01, 2017 1:35 pm

Unfortunately, the forum has become pretty quiet of late. Apparently we have the most agreeable bunch of the gamers on the web here.

Wasn't offended by your definition of a "wargamer". I think of myself as a "miniatures gamer" who sometimes games things other than war, so no argument from me.

I imagine that in time I'll probably come up with some questions or comments relating to campaign methodology, but for now, I'm just sort of taking it all in. Your posts have been pretty complete, so not much in the way of loose ends to wonder about thus far.
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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby thistlebarrow » Sat May 06, 2017 11:14 am

As part of the planning for my comprehensive wargames system I realised that the size and type of wargames table would be critical. I was fortunate that I would have a new wargames table when we moved to Spain, and I would be able to decide beforehand what was necessary to complement the campaign.

I start this weeks blog with the statement “size is not in fact everything when it comes to wargaming”, and in fact I have long found this to be true. One player can only comfortably manage a relatively small area, and command a relatively small group of figures, with ease. I have found that an area of about 6 foot wide and three feet deep is quite sufficient. As there would be only two of us taking part in the wargames a table 6 foot by 6 foot would be quite sufficient.

By far the largest problem would be transferring the map battles to the wargames table. This prompted me to settle for a table consisting of two by two foot scenic squares. Each map square would be one table square. Providing I had sufficient scenic squares I could reproduce any nine squares on the map with ease.

The original 21 squares have proved me right by allowing me to create every wargame we have fought over the past ten years.
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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby thistlebarrow » Sat May 13, 2017 12:01 pm

You can use any commercial rules with my comprehensive wargames system, just as you can use any basing system. However you will have to consider how they will fit with your campaign system.

I have only taken part in a couple of campaigns before I started my own, but in each case the campaign ended abruptly when the first battle had to be fought as a wargame. I suspect that the interface between the campaign map and the wargames table causes a lot of problem for those who run campaigns, whether solo or with other players.

The advantage of writing your own rules is that you can overcome all of these problems at the planning stage of writing the rules.

This week I consider the advantage of writing your own rules, particularly in relation to your proposed campaign system. In the coming weeks I will look at what I consider the most important aspects of wargame systems to compliment the campaign rules..

The first is what I call “men and supermen”, in other words how to campaign with the best and worse troops. Getting the balance right between elite, average and poor type troops is essential for the smooth running of the campaign.

Next will be the important relationship between wargame and campaign casualties. What works well on the table may ruin the tempo of the campaign. Most wargame rules result in destroying the enemy. But that would mean the end of your campaign after just one battle.

Finally will be length of battles in the campaign and on the table. This is essential for the smooth transfer from map to table, and to estimate when troops will arrive on the table.
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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby thistlebarrow » Sat May 20, 2017 9:52 am

In response to last week’s blog I was asked how I can ensure that I complete each wargame within 12 moves without sacrificing a lot at the tactical level. This made me realise that I had not explained the interface between the campaign and the wargame as well as I need to.

So I have added another blog to explain how the wargame is designed to complement the campaign, and to ensure that most games reach a conclusion within the 12 moves allocated.

Each game always starts with the two armies one scenic square apart, I call this “no mans land”. A square is 24”x24”, which is more than long range artillery fire.

The rules are designed to allow three phases in each game, and each phase is four moves. The first phase is the deployment, which is done out of artillery range. The second phase is advance into artillery range, and the artillery combat. The third phase is the close quarter battle consisting of skirmish and volley fire.

This sequence usually results in a clear winner and loser. Normally the morale of both sides is pretty brittle by move 10 or 11. At this stage brigades start to rout due to loss of morale after battle casualties. One rout will often have a knock on effect as nearby brigades have to check their morale and often join the rout.

If there is still a stalemate one side can order one or more brigades to attack. This results in hand to hand combat, which always ends in sufficient casualties for one side to break and run. The outcome is heavily influenced by a throw of dice, so it is a very risky option to take.

The wargame sequence and the different types of wargame are explained in this week’s blog entry.
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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby paintinglittlesods » Mon May 22, 2017 10:57 pm

Hi Paul,

Thanks for posting all of this. I took part in a few phases of your campaigns and they were always great fun and hopeful the same for you and Jan.

I plan on running a similar format for some local gamers to keep us on a more regular gaming calendar.

Cheers
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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby thistlebarrow » Tue May 23, 2017 1:52 pm

Its always nice to hear from anyone who took part in the PBEM campaign. We have continued it as a solo campaign, but we both miss the outside imput of a PBEM campaign. The problem, which I am sure that many have encountered, is relying on the commitment of people you recruit online. Most were a pleasure to work with and took part in many campaign phases. Some were very sorry when I took the decision to revert to solo. But one or two were very disruptive. When you are trying to run a complex campaign with ten players working to a weekly turn cycle, it does not take much to cause problems. And, of course, it is the other players who suffer. If I could find a way to overcome this problem I would revert to PBEM tomorrow.

Do try running a campaign for your group. It is a great way to produce good wargames with a purpose, and win or lose there is always interest in the outcome.

If there is anything I can do to help just let me know.

regards

Paul
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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby thistlebarrow » Sat May 27, 2017 11:04 am

This week is called “men and supermen” and considers how to use different types of troops in the campaign.

For many years some elite, such as French old guard or British riflemen, had stood on the shelf and collected dust. Or at the other extreme poor quality troops such as Spanish had suffered defeat time after time.

I wanted to make it possible for the Prussians to win against a French army including the old guard. I also wanted to make it possible for the Spanish to win against a French peninsular army.

I explain how I allow both extremes to campaign against average line troops to ensure that both sides have an equal chance of winning a campaign.

Link to blog
http://napoleonicwargaming.blogspot.com/
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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby thistlebarrow » Sat Jun 03, 2017 11:47 am

It takes considerable time to set up each campaign phase, including producing new strategic and tactical maps. So I wanted each phase to produce more than one battle. Each phase is similar in scope to the Waterloo campaign, so it is not unreasonable to expect more than one battle to decide the winner.

In the past I have found that if one side lost the first battle, they were very likely to lose the subsequent ones. The loss of artillery and cavalry in particular left the loser at a severe disadvantage in the remaining battles.

To overcome this my wargame rules rely more on morale than numbers of casualties to determine the winner of the game. It is quite difficult to inflict casualties, but each one then has a significant effect on the performance of the brigade concerned.

This week I explain how I have used this device to reduce the actual number of campaign casualties. This allows the defeated corps to rally and reorganise providing they can avoid battle for a number of days. Not all battle casualties are replaced, and the combat effectiveness of the corps is permanently reduced. But they still have a reasonable chance of winning the subsequent wargames.

You can find the blog here
http://napoleonicwargaming.blogspot.com/
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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby ochoin » Sat Jun 03, 2017 11:56 pm

TB, I thought I'd post to say that although I don't comment much on your system, I do like reading about it. I feel it's a bit beyond me: the sort of gaming I'd aspire to if I had the time (& possibly the brains).
At any rate it gives me things to mull over on the long drive to work or those endless staff meetings. :)
So whilst I can't speak for other WD3ers, I suspect many of us feel your posts are a "jewel in the crown" of WD3.

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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby thistlebarrow » Sun Jun 04, 2017 7:14 pm

Ochoin, thank you for your kind comments, which I appreciate.

I hope that I have not made it all sound too complicated, as indicated by your comment that “I feel it’s a bit beyond me”. I have tried to explain each aspect of the system is some detail, so that anyone interested can understand. But I have also tried not to swamp it with too much detail. Not at all sure that I have got it right!

There are one or two aspects which some might find difficult. For example making your own maps, or writing you own wargame rules. But the system will work quite well with a commercial set of rules and a road map. The important thing is to gear your campaign to the figures you have available, and use rules to allow them to represent the size of battle you want to wargame.

The system has worked really well for me, and has proved its worth over nearly ten years. So I hope that others may find something of use that they can then use with their own system. Or better still might be prompted to try something similar.

I am fortunate that my days of long drives and endless staff meetings are well behind me. And I am aware that other wargamers who still have to earn their daily bread will not have the time to devote to their hobby that I have.

But most of what I suggest can be achieved with very little work and even less expense. The important thing is to sit down and decide what size and type of wargaming you want to play, and what figures, scenery and table space you have available. That is the difficult part. Making it work in practice is the easy, and fun, part.

Regards

Paul
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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby thistlebarrow » Sat Jun 10, 2017 11:16 am

This week I explain the different types of maps I use in my campaign. I make my own maps, which are all designed for my 1813 campaign. Any commercial map can be used, but I explain the advantages of tailor made maps.

All of the campaign administration is handled on my desktop computer, so I do not have paper maps.

I started by making two large maps, one of Germany and the other Portugal/Spain. Having plotted the major cities and towns I then added rivers and borders. International roads (in red) connect capital cities. National roads (in yellow) connect regional towns. The road system is fictional, as are the terrain features. These maps are so large that even using the computer monitor they are difficult to work on.

So I then made five regional maps, one of each campaign geographical area. These are north, central and southern Germany and north and south Spain. They are the same scale as the first maps, and contain the same details and information. But they are much easier to work on.

For each campaign phase I make a new strategic map. This is the same scale as the two previous maps, but covers a much smaller area and has much more detail.

Finally I make a tactical (or wargame) map which covers the same area, but shows the wargame table terrain. This is the map I use for all campaign movement and for transferring battles from the map to the tabletop.

You will find samples of the maps and a description of each on my blog here

http://napoleonicwargaming.blogspot.com/
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Re: A Comprehensive Wargames System

Postby thistlebarrow » Sat Jul 01, 2017 7:50 pm

The latest post is a brief introduction to my campaign rules. I describe how the rules are organised and what they are designed to achieve. I stress that they are not designed to play historical campaigns, and may not appeal to many wargamers. They were written to provide interesting battles to wargame and to compliment my wargames armies and rules.

You will find a link to the campaign rules on my blog here

http://napoleonicwargaming.blogspot.com/
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