Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Games in the classroom

It's coming up to the end of the school year here in Japan and a few of our long-term kids students are leaving.  They tell us it's because they can no longer fit English classes into their increasingly busy schedules, but maybe it's just that I stink as a teacher!

Whatever the reason, the incontrovertible fact is that some of them are going, so as a wee last-class treat I brought out my copy of DungeonQuest today and spent the last ten minutes of each lesson letting them play.

They would all simultaneously draw a tile and move, and if a tile looked a touch dangerous I would 'oooh' and 'aaaah' a bit and get the student affected to roll a die. If they rolled lowish I would bring out a creature (World of Warcraft board game: I've never played you, but your figures make good monsters!) for them to fight, and they'd have to beat its score on opposed dice before they could continue moving.

If they came to a locked door they would need to roll to get through it; a trap and they'd need to roll to jump over it; a spider web roll to escape it, etc.

To continue the illusion of it being an English lesson I had them each make sentences describing their action each turn:  "I go here!"; "I fight the monster!"; "I jump the infernal pit!"; "I swing my trusty blade and disembowel the goblin chief, spilling his entrails all over my textbook!", etc.

When they got to the treasure trove in the centre of the dungeon they had to fight the boss monster, a large green Balrog lookalike (thank you again, World of Warcraft!).  After the monster was slain (and of course it always was), they would roll dice to collect treasure, and whoever got the most gold would be hailed most triumphant.

They loved it, and it reminded me again how much fun games can be, especially when you make up the rules as you go along.  And you know what, it works: they chatter away using English, hardly even realising they are doing it, and end the lesson wanting more.

Sometimes - only sometimes, mind! - teaching can seem like the best job in the world.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Online interaction best practice

There's a song by a band named Lynyrd Skynyrd called 'Simple Man' in which the Southern rockers relate some advice their mother(s) gave them.  "Don't live too fast"; "Don't forget there's someone up above"; "Be a simple kind of man"; "Forget your lust for the rich man's gold", etc.

It occurs to me that wargame-centric bloggers need their own version of this, but rather than present it in musical form, I've decided to be equally imperative but more prosaic, as this is in keeping with our style.

So here we go.  You can hum it if you prefer.

1) Always comment on the posts of popular and respected wargaming bloggers.  Be aggressive.  For example: "You may think the article you've just posted demonstrates a good way to make nice cheap trees for 6mm ACW games, but I have a far better method."

This implies that you must be someone who has a lot to offer the community.

2) Be friendly.  Post links to your blogposts everywhere you can.  If the posts you link to have nothing to do with the topic at hand then so much the better: people need to expand their horizons at times.  Crossposting at TMP is a good idea, as is flooding your friends' facebook pages.

3) Don't be positive just for the sake of it.  When you are reviewing figures, complain about the service you got from the retailer, the poor quality of the castings and the lack of variety in the poses.  You never know if the retailers/manufacturers you dealt with ever see your post they may say to themselves "Gosh, I must send this dashing young opinion-shaper free stuff to placate him."

4) Be helpful.  If someone somewhere is asking a question, always answer it.  If you don't know the answer, use an especially authoritative tone.  For example, "Take it from me, you CAN use the Essex 25mm late Roman range to expand your Warhammer Empire army."

4) Don't be afraid to repeat yourself.

5) Be gentle with newcomers.  Don't rip them to shreds for disagreeing with you or for not knowing something that you already know. Just point out to them firmly but forcefully that they are wrong, and that since they clearly don't have much of a clue maybe they should shut up.

Or if you are really independently-minded you could just listen to the song and come up with your own adaption.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Shots of Sentinum

I was looking through the camera today and found some shots from a solo game of Sentinum I played in January.  It's a slow news day, so why not post some?

Game was, naturally, Lost Battles.

15mm Minifigs here, with command stands from Magister Militum.

Mix of Lancashire, Magister Militum, Old Glory, Tin Soldier and Xyston for the Samnite and Gallic foot

Miniatures Wars (from Strategia Nova) Romans, Miniatures Wars and Old Glory Samnites.

Old Glory Chariots, Xyston Gallic horse, Magister Militum Romans. 

I think we can see who won this!

Some notes on the whiteboard...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rise of Rome Campaign play test

I got though a play test of the campaign game last night to assess where it was at.  I used a simple dice roll to resolve the battles, with the odds being either even stevens or +1 to one side of the other, depending on the historical situation.

This is the map used, though in play it became clear that it needs a few tweaks...

Map adapted from this one here.

Each turn is made up of three phases, which may be either a Roman or an enemy action, depending on a dice roll.  On an enemy action, the general result is that the dominant enemy faction attacks Roman or Roman contested territory.  Depending on the turn and the enemy, one side or the other may have an advantage in the battle.

On a Roman action, the Roman player can make an attack against enemy territory, build up fleet points (necessary for attacks across water), or attempt to pacify a contested territory.  Again, this will likely result in a battle, with the odds determined by the situation and the time.

When Carthage becomes active, the dominant enemy starts to play with a little more intelligence, using its actions to attack Sicily or Iberia instead of battering itself against Rome solely.

Changes to the map -

  • Add a sea route between Rome and the Ebro region in Iberia.  
  • Add a land route between Cisalpine Gaul and Samnium 
  • Include fleet points needed for sea movement on each route.  
  • Include a combat advantage marker to show which side (if either) has combat advantage at the present time.

Changes to the rules -

  • Build in incentives for Carthage to conquer Sicily and Iberia, perhaps in the form of stored +1 attacks to represent Hannibal's campaigns.    
  • Work out a better scheme for 'pacification' of contested territories.
  • Build in better rules for Sicily.

Changes to the info -

  • Better clarification of who holds battle advantage.
  • Create a table to show possible divergences from the historically dominant enemy

As you can see, there is still plenty to work on!  

Regarding the game, Rome got belted early on and was unable to make much headway in Samnium and Magna Graecia against determined defence.  By the time of the First Punic War, Carthage was able to take Sicily without Roman interference (despite bad dice rolls meaning it took a long time to do so) and then consolidate in Iberia.

Rome finally completed the conquest of Southern Italy just before Hannibal appeared, and at game end, thanks to his rampage, Carthage controlled most of the board, with only Rome and Magna Graecia red, and just the Ebro region contested.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Rise of Rome Solitaire Campaign

I'm working on a few ideas for a solo campaign on the Rise of Rome from 300BC through 200BC, ie, from Sentinum to Zama.

The plan is to use very simple rules and perhaps a small set of event cards to spice things up.  It can be used to provide a context for tabletop battles or to race against time and try to better the historical rate of expansion.

If it looks promising I might do the rules up properly and send them in to Slingshot, but we'll have to see how we go on that...

Map adapted from this one here

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