Monday, 19 February 2018

Labyrinth: Family Game

This is a particular family favourite of mine, Labyrinth (see below):

I like thew quirky way the board terrain 'transforms' by the players sliding the tiles as part of their move. Wargaming designers take not of the interesting concept of the player transforming the terrain. Another point to note, I lost my "champion's crown" as my daughter won the last game!

Friday, 16 February 2018

Book: Small Wars (from The History of Wargaming Project)

Courtesy of John Curry's History of Wargaming Project subscriber email and Bob Cordery's (Wargaming Miscellany) post this little tome caught my eye (see below, and it's a beauty!):

It concentrates on asymmetrical wargame and fills a gap I have in COIN games (or could be seen as a starter into this area). The figure count required is low and te ingenuity level is high. Having read each section you want to play.
  • ISAF Operations
  • Colonial Foreign Legion
  • Afghanistan (Soviet Era)
  • Bush Wars (Africa) 
  • Vietnam
Note: I am not on commission but it is a little gem, see link below (Note: It is in the Solo Wargaming Section although I think the games would be best run with an umpire and group of players over a pint).

Small Wars

Thursday, 15 February 2018

UK Connections 2018 Itinery Released

Coming in September 2018 the Hottest Wargame Show in (London) Town: UK Connections 2018

Note: Sadly the 2017 event coincided with a significant birthday of mine [I have to realise I am getting old as I am now looking forward to Saga priced holidays] so I "missed" the 2017 Conference. Looking at the 2018 line-up I am so sorely tempted to "go again" primarily because the event is focused on the "very practical" side of "doing wargames" (even being in the 10% hobbyist minority this should make it very interesting). However seeing as I am already committed to going to CoW2018 this year would this be simply too much for me to go to two mega events in a year? The horns of a terrible dilemma. 

Let the invitation email speak for itself  from Graham Longley-Brown
PS If this post looks "ugly in its pasted from email format" Rex has "done it very professionally" here 

Hi All,

Many thanks to everyone who completed the Connections UK 2017 feedback survey, and a warm welcome to those who have expressed an interest in finding out more about professional wargaming.

The Connections UK 2018 conference will be, as far as we can make it, a precise reflection of your views and requests in the 2017 feedback survey. The resulting conference outline is below. If this is of interest, please note the dates 4 – 6 September 2018 in your diary. I will send you registration details presently. More details of Connections UK, including all previous presentations, can be found at If you do not wish to be on this email distribution list, please let me know and your name will be removed from future announcements relating to Connections UK.

Connections UK 2018

If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. 91% of survey respondents found the 2017 conference useful or very useful; 85% said you would attend a future Connections UK; and 91% thought the conference was the right length. Some survey comments:

  • ‘An excellent event, a great opportunity to meet professional wargamers and those crossing over into the hobby side. An invaluable experience for the UK wargaming community.’
  • ‘Overall this was an excellent and extremely encouraging event demonstrating the high international standing of UK wargaming.’
  • ‘Looking forward to 2018!’

However, as the comments below illustrate, there are compelling reasons to go into more depth at Connections UK 2018. Answers to the question ‘How do we make the event better?’ included:

  • ‘More on practical approaches, case studies and insights.’
  • ‘Deep dives on game design and data capture, versus ‘we did this.’
  • ‘More emphasis on lessons learned from developing and delivering wargames.’
  • ‘Intellectual depth into the art and science of wargaming.’
  • ‘Methodology and best practice for analysis in wargames.’

Adopting a ‘deep, not broad’ approach accords with the Connections purpose, which is to advance and preserve the art, science and application of wargaming. So, this year we will concentrate on the ‘how to’ of wargaming, from design through execution and analysis to refinement. Expert speakers will talk in detail about the practicalities of designing and delivering wargames, and will include best practice and lessons identified, both positive and negative. The Games Fair and various breakout sessions will give you a hands-on experience of a large number of game designs and tools, and there will be plenty of time to network with many of the world’s best wargamers.

Three points the organisers would like to add:

  • The ‘High North’ was briefed last year by the UK MOD’s Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC). This remains a topic of interest for Defence. Games that feature the ‘High North’ would be most welcome at the Games Fair. DCDC’s presentation is at
  • There were a number of requests in the survey to feature the psychology of wargaming, human decision-making and such like. Rather than try to squeeze that – large and significant – topic into the 2018 conference, we are considering devoting most or all of Connections UK 2019 to this.
  • Games selected to be shown at the Games Fair will qualify for one free place per game. Conference fees for all three days will be waived.

Connections UK 2018 details

  • Connections UK purpose. Advance and preserve the art, science and application of wargaming.
  • DatesTuesday 4 – Thursday 6 September 2018.
  • Venue. Kings College London, The Strand, London, UK.
  • Cost: no change from 2017 (and 2016!): £60 for the megagame/Introduction to wargaming day; plus £135 for the two main days. Connections UK is not for profit; the cost covers administration and food, which is provided.
  • Themes. ‘How to’ wargame. Best practice, in-depth insights, and lessons identified in the wargame ‘steps’ below. You will note a striking resemblance between these and the MOD Wargaming Handbook, which can be downloaded at
    • Design.
    • Development.
    • Execution.
    • Analysis.
    • Validation.
    • Refinement.
  • Key note speakers: Volko Ruhnke and Brian Train. We are extremely fortunate that Volko and Brian, two of the world’s leading wargame designers, have agreed to help us. Straddling recreational and serious gaming, and with decades of award-winning and high-profile game design behind them, they will participate in multiple plenary sessions, as well as deliver the key note address. For any who don’t know Volko and Brian:

Volko Ruhnke is a game designer with three decades of experience in the US intelligence community. He most recently served as an analytic instructor, making extensive use of boardgames in the classroom. He also is an award-winning creator of numerous commercial wargames, such as GMT Games’ COIN Series about insurgency and counterinsurgency.

Brian Train has been designing conflict simulation games for the civilian market for over 20 years, with over 45 published designs to date. His articles and games have been published by a wide range of large and small firms. His special interests in game design are irregular warfare, "pol-mil" games, concepts of political influence in games, and asymmetry in games generally. In his spare time, he is an Education Officer in the Ministry of Advanced Education of British Columbia, Canada.

  • Outline. Some details remain to be confirmed, but the conference structure should look like that shown below. The left-hand column includes the themes, or wargame ‘steps’, mentioned above, and shouldn’t change much. The right-hand column includes topics drawn from your feedback survey suggestions. These will be refined as we confirm speakers and chairs.

Day 1. Tuesday 4 September
Introduction to wargaming for newcomers
This will be an entirely separate event to the megagame, with a series of games interleaved with talks
This will be an engaging and fun ice-breaker on a serious and contemporary topic.
Component production
Informal evening session.
Day 2. Wednesday 5 September
Relating the conference structure to the MOD Wargaming Handbook wargame process.
1. Dilemmas and Trade-Offs in wargame design.
2. Serious wargame design.
3. Design factors and choices.
1. Game mechanics and processes.
2. Play-testing and Test Exercises.
3. Scenario development.
(Look forward to Execution)
Scenario execution.
Games Fair session 1
Key note address
Volko Ruhnke and Brian Train.
Games Fair session 2
Day 3. Thursday 6 September
1. Wargaming uses.
2. Wargaming Case Study.
(3. Facilitation will be covered in a grand finale; see below).
4. Adjudication.
5. Automation – break out and demonstrations.
1. Analysing wargames.
2. Data capture.
3. Lessons identified from the analysis of the 2017 Dire Straits megagame.
1. Validating wargames.
2. Applying wargaming lessons identified to the real world.
1. Making wargames better.
2. Sharing best practice.
Facilitation (from Execution)
Hands-on learning experience.

 Please reply to me with any questions. Registration details will follow presently.


Graham Longley-Brown
Connections UK Co-organiser

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

28mm Russian Soviet Stalingrad Winter Infantry (WIP)

Well, I started painting my new genre of 28mm Winter Soviet (Warlord Games) fro the Chain of Command Stalingrad game. I was adopting the 'factory method' (which seemed appropriate for the battle in question) but decided to spurt on with one as a 'Proof of Concept' (see below, charging the enemy): 

Facing front (see below):

A side shot (see below):

The first of many Soviets. However I got a bit sloppy towards the end of this marathon painting session and need to touch up a few rough spots. 

Monday, 12 February 2018

Sparta v Argos (Re-Run Take III): Done (Part 7)

Flying high with gods the Spartan left flank can be seen cruelly wheeling into the Argive right hoplites, harvesting them like ripe wheat. The Argives have one last hope, a third attempt to shatter the Spartan "youth hoplite stand" of spears that has twice thwarted them (see below):

The proverbial kitchen sink is thrown at the Spartans. Notice how the Argive General (myself) refrains from attacking the Spartan hoplites to the right hand side of the attacking Argives, because success is unlikely to kill and a push back would help out the the beleaguered Spartan stand. On the other hand it would have potentially interrupted the run of "bad Argive dice" in the vital sector, but statistics say that should not have mattered because you do not affect the future with past rolls of a d6 (see below, I as the Argive ruminate about this now):

A sacrifice is offered to the gods, harsh words of encouragement by the Argive Captains of War are given and the attack commences and the die is thrown. Stunned into silence, all pleasure of head banging gone (see previous posts) just the sad (from the Argive perspective) calculation is repeated. "No, unbelievable, these Spartans cannot be moved" (see below):

The Spartan run through the Argive hoplites like a hot knife through butter. Smoothly and without mistake two Argive hoplites fall upon the hill. The Argive army morale shatters and they flee (see below, Sparta 5 Argos 3 - Sparta remains supreme on the Peloponnese):

What a fantastic game! Incredible in that right up until the end the Argives thought they had it, but the Spartans played true. This young novice Spartan King is a man to watch in the world of DBA, he plays the period not the game system. Immense fun. Maybe I should look to introduce some new troop types. Perhaps from Persia or Thrace ;)

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Sparta v Argos (Re-Run Take III): Time to Finish it (Part 6)

For the second time of asking the seemingly forgone conclusion of a forlorn stand of Spartan hoplites outnumbered 3:1 and with no possible room for retreat were drawn into a "do or die" combat (see below, "Spartans we salute you! You fought well but Argos needs to teach Sparta a lesson"): 

Instead the Spartans show Argos that today, here, on this piece of hallowed ground no more Spartans shall give way to Argos. Bang 8-6 - the massed ranks of the Argives bounce away again. Quite sportingly the Spartan King offers me a cushion so to not damage my head (see below, the unbelievable happens and to my shame I did not use the extra PiP I had to bring the extra Argive troops into "usefulness", hubris my friends, hubris): 

It is Sparta;s time to deal the death blow. The Spartan king watches as his mighty phalanx unfurls for a  Sparta [Spears 4 + 2 flanks] = 6 versus  3 Argos [Spears 4 - 2 overlapped flanks + 1 for being on a hill] basic attack - needing to double to kill (see below, all to play for at 3-3 and just one stand needed by both sides to win):

Ah! The Argives roll a 1, all seems lost but then Sparta also rolls a one: 7-4 Push Back! How on earth? Argos has yet another chance to pull it out of the fire! Will this game ever finish? Will this game not stop providing "crazy" dice rolls. The Spartan King is momentarily crestfallen but composes himself and moves on (see below): 

Apologies for the misdirection saying it was a "done thing" but we seem to be now playing on past the end of regulation time ;)

Next: Extra Time Sudden Death?

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Sparta v Argos (Re-Run Take III): Don't Go Counting Chickens (Part 5)

And so it came to pass that a bunch of Spartans stood between myself and immortal glory. These should be second-stringers as they were a third of the way along from teh weaker (less prestigious end of the line of battle). As an Argive it was time to "seize the moment" (before the catchphrase of the Dead Poet's Society even existed). Again the Argive killer Psilio were the key, placed in the rear of the Spartan Phalanx (see below, left middle):

In went my solid Argive hoplites, supported on their left by the Argive General's personal cohort and assisted by the deadly Psilio in the rear. It was the same trap to be spring for a third 'killer' time. Except these Spartan milksops had not read the script, the fought the Argives to a standstill and then pushed them back (see below, a classic case of DBA 6-1 to the Spartans!):   

The groans and revulsion was acute. A twisted knot formed in my stomach as my bolt was shot and the initiative had been passed back to the unforgiving scarlet Spartans. The concerned Spartan (novice DBA'er) General asked it I was OK. To which I replied "Fine. Absolutely fine. Banging my forehead off the tabletop like this is quite usual in these circumstances. In fact it has a quite a therapeutic affect!" I said smiling inanely (see below, the Argive General is left pondering "How did that not work?"):

Simply stated the Spartan milksops had remembered what their Spartan mothers had said to them before they left for war. Presenting their sons with their shields, "With it or on it" and you don't cross your Spartan mother (see below): 

The Argives now faced a fight for their lives on the right of the battlefield, but a critical low PiP roll of "one" gave the Argives hope. Instead of an overwhelming "no retreat overlap battle" the Spartans merely hit the Argive hoplite (who had luckily recoiled away from the front-facing Spartans last go) in the flank. The Argives turned to face and the die were rolled (see below):

The Argives gasped in horror as they were on the receiving end of a 5 to 1 die result. Fevered calculations took place, Sparta 4 (+0 supports) +5 = 9 versus Argive 5 = 4 + 1, so it was a push back. Had we been playing DBA version 2.2 then the rear holpites woudl have supported +1 and it would have been 'curtains' for the Argives, game set and match! As it was it was "Game on!" (see below, "Would you Christmas Eve it?"): 

And from another even more dramatic perspective, hoplite to hoplite and the Argives bend but do not break. The Spartan General adopted a disbelieving maniacal laugh instead of my primitive trepanning. Welcome to DBA, you never forget moments like these. They seem to come with alarming regularlity defying the 'sane' Laws of Statistics. In DBA terms statistics is merely a suggestion thrown at the gods, who more often than not will just laugh back at you. I digress! (see below):

After the recoil (see below, the Argives were now technically backing up a gentle hill. Could good news come from the other side of the battlefield to save the day? (see below):

After that"topsy turvy" sequence of events, both King and General wondered what twisted fate still lay in store for these armies?

Next: The End of the Matter!