On the RPG front, very little has been happening since the conclusion of our epic Dracula Dossier campaign. We've had a small foray into Lamentations of the Flame Princess, but other than that I've been doing some Pathfinder reading and have started writing a sandbox for Dungeons and Dungeons. In this case it literally is a sandbox, being situated in the arid western reaches of the World of Greyhawk campaign setting. The idea is a simple one - the party has stumbled through a pass in the Barrier Peaks and arrives in the realm of Ull. From there, it's up to them. I'm not aspiring to anything award-winning here, and the primary reason for this exercise is to add one new encounter every day - if I'm not too tired! So far I've made some progress, but it has been a long time since I've written anything of this sort, and who knows how far I'll get with it?
The new edition of Warhammer 40,000 is coming out this month, and seems to be provoking great excitement in several quarters of the hobby, as gamers hope that Games Workshop may be able to breathe new life into the game. It has been enough to get me back to my painting table, where I'm working on a squad of Deathwing Terminators for my son, who is in the process of putting together a combined force of Dark Angels and Imperial Guard. We're hoping to get some games in during July if we can, although much will depend on the progress with the painting. We may also be going back to second edition 40K for some old school nostalgia, but more on that if we can make it happen. I refer you to the business empire mentioned above!
Speaking of painting, I'm also working on a couple of bands for Frostgrave and have been experimenting with snow bases. They're not there yet, but when I manage to summon the energy, I do a little bit of dabbing here and there.
I've also set up the Fords of the Isen battle for the War of the Ring. It looks as if I have enough miniatures to muster a couple of relatively modest Middle-earth armies. I'd like to give these rules a test drive at some point soon. My Gondor chaps have been drafted in to serve as elite Rohan infantry and horse for this battle. I'm also chucking in a company of passing Rangers from Arthedain who just happened to be sneaking through the Gap of Rohan and got caught up in it all! More on this when we actually get to play it!
Limited intelligence wargames!
On the topic of miniatures gaming, I've been mulling over how wargames can be used to study decision making, particularly in the context of limited intelligence scenarios, namely when players do not have all the information they have to hand in a normal situation. Take the Fords of the Isen battle above - players have a pretty good idea of exactly what the other force has, where it is deployed and what its capabilities are. However, commanders of all sorts rarely have this level of information at their disposal. I've harped on about this before on this blog. In RPGs of course, limited information is part and parcel of a game - dungeon delvers have no idea what they are getting themselves into. But in wargames, participants frequently get way too much information on where the other side is.
My thoughts are coalsecing, as ever, around a number of scenarios, which go as follows:
- A platoon operation in Vietnam with players taking the role of squad commanders on one side, i.e. the Marines. The umpire plays the Viet Cong. For added realism, players may not even be at the table, but will receive photographic updates via WhatsApp, which seems ideal for this.
- A campaign scenario where moves are map-plotted. I've had a few ideas on this one: British and Zulu armies in South Africa, the War of the Ring with various factions represented by different players - including possibly the Fellowship themselves, or a raid into Confederate territory during the American Civil War to destroy railway lines.
- A slightly different take on the above using the Indian Mutiny, where the mutiny is run by an AI system while the player or players manage the East India Company trying to respond to an unpredictable and fast-moving situation. The mutineers had a very haphazard strategy from the off, and seemed to be taken somewhat aback by their initial success, but sadly for them were led in a very uncoordinated fashion, leading to their eventual defeat. This will require some more reading / research from me, as it would need some rules writing from scratch. Tabletop battles would use Flames in the Punjab or something similar.
- Some kind of WW2 naval scenario, again run on a double blind basis, making good use of recon assets like flying boats particularly valuable.
- A fictitious scenario in the Republic of Turan (modern day), where US forces have to take a couple of strategic bridges. This functions at two levels, one at division level of command, using wooden blocks on a map, and the second at company level. This is at a much higher operational level than the Vietnam scenario above, but the intention is to try to replicate the chain of command and decision making process on both sides, plus limited intelligence. If anything, this is an even bigger project than the Indian Mutiny one.