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The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

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The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  Iconoclast on Wed May 16, 2018 9:16 pm

Hey all,


a recommendation for you. The game has just ended and information is being pieced together by the participants. Find some bits and pieces in Video form here.

The link to the forum article is included.

Cheers,

A
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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  Martin on Wed May 23, 2018 7:11 pm

Hi A

Interesting stuff and thanks for posting.

Nice to see James Sterrett is still in the saddle as Davout. He & Corinne were regulars with us for several years when he was studying in the UK.

We would normally run such a campaign in a day, although we would use a team of umpires. I just don't think you could do that with one, so can understand why it took a long time. How difficult was it to keep motivation for umpire and players over such a long period?

Martin (J)

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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  Iconoclast on Wed May 23, 2018 7:22 pm

I think this is quite some achivement as well. As for the motivation I can only speculate, since I have signed up just a tad too late. But in the Grogcast they did, you can really hear the excitement about the entire affair. Really fantastic.

Interesting to see as well how closely knitted the community is Martin. I, of course, had no clue about James relationship with this group/you.

Cheers,

A
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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  James Sterrett on Sat May 26, 2018 12:35 am

I learned Kriegsspiel from Martin, Bill, and the rest of the crew at Hemel Hempstead in the 1990s. It is in part due to their tutelage that I am gainfully employed. Smile

We run Kriegsspiel several times at year at CGSC, both for our simulations classes and for some of the History instructors. The simulations class scenarios are Napoleonic, and those for History are a mix of Napoleonic and 1870; though we run all of them in a very Free Kriegsspiel mode, trying to move events forward fast for the students. (Half of the students are runner-umpires, and those have just as much fun, and learn just as much, as the player students! The most common comment from students is "Now I understand mission command"; the second most common comment is that it's the best thing they did during the year, so why isn't it more frequent... to which we can only reply that we're ready to make that happen. Smile )

We tend to use one of two Napoleonic scenarios. For a smaller groups, we use Demo Scenario 1, which I was given by Bill or Martin or Arthur - I'm not sure who - but the scenario is reliably lightning in a bottle, and easily modified for up to around 3 players per side, or a quick turn around and re-run with minor changes to shake things up.

For larger groups, we use the "Altstedten Cross", which sees lots of forces, each of 1x Cav, 4x Infantry, and 1x arty, converging on Altstedeten in the early morning in order to rendevous with friendly forces. As the fog lifts, they see... enemy forces to their left and right. The forces have been deployed in a pinwheel, often with two of them colliding head on in the middle of the town. It's extremely artificial - but it gets all the commanders into the action right away, which lets everybody make decisions, have a fight, and still leave time in class for discussion of Kriegsspiel.

It's a testament to the Reisswitz's insight that their Kriegsspiel is still useful and relevant over two centuries later.




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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  Martin on Sun May 27, 2018 8:49 am

Hi James

That all sounds excellent.  Reassuring to know that the KS mafia is in full control of the US Army officer corps.

Like you, we put the emphasis on speed of resolution these days.  Keeping the game moving for the players is pivotal, and in our current series of army-level Napoleonic games we have introduced various equipment and process improvements.

You wouldn't recognise our own set-up now.  Instead of Bill's rather bijoux cottage, we play in a large, modern village hall, with a separate umpire room.  Plenty of room, plus well-equipped kitchen, so plenty of tea & coffee available throughout the game.

This is just as well, as the group is also much larger now.  

Martin (J)


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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  James Sterrett on Sun May 27, 2018 4:35 pm

Glad the group is doing well! Smile


How do you tend to run the team umpiring?

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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  Martin on Sun May 27, 2018 8:29 pm

Whenever we can we aim for one liaison person per player, plus one additional to act as game controller and do the map-work & combat.

For the current series of army-level games, we have refined that a bit, and made corps commanders responsible for briefing their CinC - either via courier or if he visits their corps HQ.  A further addition is to provide the CinC with a Chief of Staff if their team is large enough.  The CofS will also get most of their briefing from other players.  That all worked very well.  couriers were flying all over the place, and players had plenty to do.

In our last game we had 14 attendees and the the arrangement was:

Red: 5 players (CinC, CofS, 3 corps commanders)
Blue : 3 players (CinC, 2 corps commanders)
Umpires: 6 players (controller, 5 liaison)

Martin (J)


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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  James Sterrett on Sun May 27, 2018 8:56 pm

Thanks!

We've experimented a bit with multiple master umpires, but keeping two master umpires coordinated gets complex along the seam between them, if you are trying to go fast.

We have had some significant success with a "messages umpire", who handles all the message traffic, while the other umpire handles resolution of activity and briefing the liaisons. (The map umpire only gets written orders when handed them by the message umpire.)

The upper limit we've found is around 12 to 14 players (which is Too Many); we aim to have no more than 10 if possible, and 8 is more ideal.

I'd hoped you had some pearl of wisdom on running the overlarge games! Smile

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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  Martin on Sun May 27, 2018 10:46 pm

I fear not, James.  Catering for so many players is a real challenge.  Extra control umpires are fine if the map is clearly split into 2 or more sectors, but often that's not the case.  And even if it is, there comes a point where action in one sector begins to impinge on the other(s).  And if that cannot happen in the scenario, then you might as well be running separate games.  

One thing we have done with the army-level games is to move to 30 minute turns.  That's meant we've been able to complete a 10 hour battle in 5 hours of actual play.  But it's difficult to justify such a long turn with a traditional Reisswitz detachments game.  Organising a large divisional attack with preparatory bombardment could take 90 minutes, but if you're dealing with single battalions, things can happen a lot more quickly.  Although still probably more slowly than most wargamers expect Wink

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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  James Sterrett on Sun May 27, 2018 11:04 pm

Interesting - our rescaling effort was to make a combined Metz index map, and redeclare the scale as 15 minute turns and the pieces as brigades - which more or less works out to scale. That's often what we use for the 1870 games, as it gives a better sense of the scale of the forces and the problem of, say, having your artillery at the rear of the column! It unfolds faster than it should even so, but the instructors are happy - they are usually pushing for us to make events go faster still in order to get more fighting in! Smile

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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  Martin on Sun May 27, 2018 11:29 pm

Yes that sounds a lot like our thought process. For the army-level games we also use brigades as the manoeuvre unit, and we started with 15 minute turns. We've only recently gone over to 30 minutes, which we've found works well, but obviously doesn't allow for some of the fine-tuning on timings that you can have with shorter turns. I've sometimes wondered about trying 20 minute turns.

The main focus of our current games is on managing the battle. The larger & more complex your attack, the more effective it's likely to be, but the longer it takes to organise. You may win big, or you may lose the initiative to someone who mounts a series of simple brigade-level attacks instead. I like to think of it as the Longstreet set-piece vs the Jackson just hurry-up, pile-in and attack. Comparison's a bit crude, but does have some merit.

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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  James Sterrett on Sun May 27, 2018 11:32 pm

The speed/prep balance is something we probably ought to adopt..... (fades off thinking. Smile )

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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  Martin on Mon May 28, 2018 9:41 am

Somewhat to my surprise, it's been well-received. I don't know whether we've got the balance quite right yet, but he players seem to 'get' the need for it, and it really does allow one side to get inside the other's decision loop.

But then our group play because they are attracted to our weird hobby niche, with its chaos, FOW and command lags. Some of them (though not all) actually revel in the frustrations that arise. Your officers are doing it as part of a course, so might react differently. What do you think?

I'll send you a copy of the charts & tables we're using for the current games, and would welcome your thoughts & critique.

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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  James Sterrett on Mon May 28, 2018 5:01 pm

Some of our students do not revel... they are driven nuts by the chaos and confusion, and the delays on messages and orders. Smile However, that also serves to drive them to the understanding of mission command and an appreciation for radios....

Playing as Mack in the Marine War College 1805 game drove me to get better at writing a commander's intent for wider forces!

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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  James Sterrett on Mon May 28, 2018 5:25 pm

Martin sent me some docs on how the Army games are being run in the UK these days -- some notes back rom me, which I figured might be of broader interest. It's interesting that many of our solutions are similar; either we are both on the right track, or we are comrades in craziness (or maybe both?)



Good stuff! We are likely to adopt (steal? Smile ) some of this - notably the prep time table.

We get far more strict up front with our students in some places:

* No splitting units, period (otherwise they do it with abandon)
* You have only two couriers (otherwise they bombard every friendly unit they can think of with requests for information, every turn)
* You must write a separate note for every intended recipient! (Otherwise they write one note for many people and expect us to photocopy them or some such....)
* You must write your messages using the provided pen - red for red, blue for blue. (Otherwise we get notes in the wrong color and confusion spreads fast, or a note in black ink to "my commander" - who?? , etc..)


We encourage phone cameras but remind the umpires that they cannot show the picture to the players! Smile

I'm repeatedly surprised by the degree of skill required to be a good reporting umpire - to condense what has happened down into a short, clear, effective summary. Seems like a useful skill.... Smile


Our scheduling:

Turn begins:
Reporting umpires fan out to their players with reports and messages to be delivered
At the same time, the map umpire moves all troops in accordance with orders.

Reporting umpires come back
Combat from the movement get resolved unless there was an in-person order that would prevent them
Messages & new orders get dealt with
Agree on reports going out

Repeat

This means that the grunt work of moving all the pieces doesn't take extra time, *and* sometimes effectively increases order delay. Smile

We usually have a "Pit Boss" - usually Mike Dunn - who stays in the player's room in order to answer player questions about how things work (most of them know nothing about Napoleonic (or 1870) warfare); and to force the reporting umpires to leave the room! Smile


I'm going to post this to the forum as well.

Note that I'm about to be travelling - both work and vacation - for the next month. Part of that is being at Origins Game Convention - and part of *that* will be running some Kriegsspiel at the Grogheads booth! Jim Owczarski, the guy who ran the Le Vol game, will also be there.

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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  James Sterrett on Mon May 28, 2018 5:30 pm

A further thought -- over the years of running these at work, I'm ever more impressed by how *well* Reisswitz's core concept works.

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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  Martin on Wed May 30, 2018 8:26 am

Good stuff, James.  It occurs to me we should probably have been swapping ideas more frequently over the years  Surprised

Mostly our restrictions follow yours.  The one area where are we are perhaps more relaxed is couriers.  Err......in some ways.

We don't allow messages for info to units at all.  If the umpires decide, a player will receive information from a unit, but not otherwise.  But we allow couriers to other players without restriction.  The rationale is that the players are free of many of the tasks their forbears would have needed to spend time on - eg riding around in order to acquire a view (or views) of the terrain and troops that they get automatically, dealing with force admin, resolving disputes, replacing senior officer casualties etc.  So the risk is that they have too much time on their hands.  Having to deal with plenty of messages seems to have eliminated the downtime.  Essentially the players are entertaining themselves.

The risk is that they have too much situational awareness as a result, but this doesn't seem to happen.  It's probably a combination of the speed at which we're now turning the turns around, the need to write their own messages & orders, the deluge of paper, and the frequent inadequacy of the messages themselves!

Excellent point re using side-specific colours for messages.  And for marking-up maps in games where we use that approach.  It seems so banal, but anything which saves a few precious seconds in the umpire room is good.

"I'm repeatedly surprised by the degree of skill required to be a good reporting umpire - to condense what has happened down into a short, clear, effective summary. Seems like a useful skill....  Smile"

Absolutely.  A game can stand or fall based on how good these folk are.  We have recently moved to give our liaison people more responsibility, by having them interpret orders they receive from their player, and brief the control umpire accordingly.  Removing that task from the control umpire has proved a huge benefit.  It also tends to mitigate the problems arising from using the wrong pen colour!

"We usually have a "Pit Boss" - usually Mike Dunn - who stays in the player's room in order to answer player questions about how things work (most of them know nothing about Napoleonic (or 1870) warfare); and to force the reporting umpires to leave the room!  Smile"

This made me smile.  We have similar issues.  It's understandable.  Liaison folks want to be supportive, and players like liaison support.  A prolonged chat can result, and the game of course moves at the pace of the slowest.

Lacking the services of Mad Mike Dunn, we have come up with a different approach, which is to emphasize the clock.  When the liaison person visits their player, they have only two tasks - update him/her, and collect any orders already written.  If there are no orders, or the ones already written need amendment in light of the update, they don't wait for the player to frantically scribble.  The clock is ticking, so those orders will be picked-up on the next visit.

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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  Mr. Digby on Wed May 30, 2018 6:29 pm

Would it make any sense from a game management or technical perspective to base the turn on a time segment that we know was generally enough to cover the activities common in a Napoleonic or other horse-and-musket era game?

I can think of, say, a 1-hour turn.

In this you can deploy a division;

Set up and conduct a preparatory artillery bombardment;

Make and resolve a brigade-sized attack;

Send out and receive back meaningful cavalry patrol/flank patrol information;

etc, etc.

So if a player wants his division to attack, it takes a turn to get ready, then a turn to make and resolve that attack. If a corps arrives on the battlefield during a battle, it takes nx hours for it to be ready to get into action where n is the number of divisions it has.

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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  Martin on Wed May 30, 2018 8:55 pm

Yes indeed. That's very much the approach we're now using.

We think it creates a much more historical tempo for a battle. It means that not everyone is attacking the whole time, as there are lulls in the fighting while forces recover from the last fight and/or prepare for the next.

Unless a player specifies otherwise, their subordinate division and brigade commanders will employ a preparatory bombardment prior to attacking. But they do have the choice to dispense with this. As you might expect, the lack of such will allow an earlier assault, but make it less likely to succeed.

It means that our battles can reflect events which occurred in actual battles. An example is Bautzen in 1813, where Ney arrived on the Allies' right flank with several corps, but failed to attack in good time.

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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

Post  Iconoclast on Wed May 30, 2018 10:24 pm

very interesting.

@ James

What kind of job are you doing, sounds like something I would apply for in case you have some openings. my time in the German Army is soon over, you know;)

I tried to write a generic modern-times Division/Corps level wargame myself. Interesting what kind of challenges that uncovers, in terms of how you incentivize a certain kind of behavior. I ended up leaving the first draft where it is and starting all over again. The first draft would have been way too complicated to umpire for anyone but a full-time umpire team.

Now I am trying to come up with something way more streamlined. I also work on ready to use excel Charts to help organize and synchronize activities. I am planning to use a modified BOS Sync matrix and am pretty sure that this will help a great deal managing a game. So looking at that option might be a suggestion I'd make, would be curious to see what you think from the perspective of an experienced umpire.

James wrote:* No splitting units, period (otherwise they do it with abandon)


This is something I start to agree with, although it hurts. Still trying to implement some sort mechanism to reflect the allocation/splitting of resources when it comes to combat support.

James wrote:* You must write a separate note for every intended recipient! (Otherwise they write one note for many people and expect us to photocopy them or some such....)

I had the pleasure to introduce Teams over at the German General Staff College to a few rules of wargames we ran. While there is no obligation to restraint, I always quoted from Manstein's Lost Victories to make them lean towards not writing too many msg's; the passage where he is waiting for his division's SITREPS at the beginning of Case White and he reminds himself to stay patient and let things develop for a while since anything else is telegraphing an erratic leadership style. Although he also mentions that sometimes subordinates not reportig is because they are reluctant to report failures...

Cheers,

A
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Re: The Groghead Crew just finished a 1 1/2 year of Vol de a'igle III

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