Central War Gaming Blog

Central War Gaming Blog


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Okay, Let's Try Something Else

Much to our disappointment, we haven't gotten the turnout we require to put on a good event. So, we're cancelling operation King Rail 17, not because we won't make enough money, but because we refuse to put on bad events.

For paying players, with the activities and immersion promised, we aren't going to run overly-small events that disappoint you. All those who signed up will be getting refunds in the next few hours.

We're not quitting entirely so don't give up and/or be sad. But after two cancelled games in just a few months, let us talk a bit more about what this means.

We still believe that the world needs more serious war gaming, or serious MilSim. Whether to fill an unmet need between re-enactors and the more woodsball paintball and airsoft gamer, or to provide useful training value, we think it's a good thing, and won't be going away soon. We have enough of a community expressing interest that if we could get you all to the same place, at the same time, we'd have an awesome event.

But, we're not sure that ever happens, so do think we're going to have to shift gears instead of proposing and cancelling events over and over, taking money and refunding it to you.

Our general plan is:
  • One "core" game a year, in April
  • Start putting on mass-market games
  • Collaboration and consulting
  • Begin offering training events
  • Continue with the community 

Core War Gaming Events

We call the Ardean/Kitoy set of events the "core" events. Yup, that's our jargon but we're being open so have to explain that to you.

We're going to cut back to only trying to make one a year. It'll be the event just cancelled, or the same as Swift Fox 16, in April and probably always at D-Day Adventure Park in Oklahoma.

Later, we'd love to expand this, by having events in other locations, at other times of year. If you know that you have a good group up in some other part of the country, but need us to run or help run an event, contact us and we'll discuss how we can make it work.

This is also likely to stay airsoft for a while.

We are unlikely to run another MILES event any  time soon, but if you think that's a great idea, we're a community! Rope your friends and comrades together and if you get enough we can put one of those on still, sure!

Mass-Market Gaming Events

We're never going to do weekend pickup games, if only because we don't have a place to put them on or a heavily local group to turn out every weekend, but we are going to attempt to make a more accessible event to bring in those not sure they can handle a core CWG event.

This will (probably) be along these lines:
  • One night, not two. Saturday mid-morning to Sunday mid-day
  • Offer camping off the field for those who do not feel comfortable playing full time; go back to the camp to reconsolidate, reload, and rest.
  • Have more than two sides; think guerillas, government, peacekeepers
  • Have relaxed uniform requirements for some sides, and essentially no field equipment requirements (sleeping bags, food) for most players; bring food to the campsite, and a place to sleep but it can be a bright colored tent or your car
  • Allow more guns, and more or less require Kalashnikovs for at least one side 
  • And maybe even have scored objectives, so we can declare winners and losers 
Expect to see this announced in the next month or so. If you have other specific features you want, or you can promise us enough players so want to bring it to your local area, or anything else about it, contact us or add comments here.

Collaboration and Consulting

We don't have any of these lined up quite yet, but have been talking lightly to a few folks about having collaborative events, in order to explore different regions, different scenarios, and different audiences. It's not totally different from the above section on being more mass market.

And we're happy to discuss this with anyone. If you have a field, a good regular group, and think a deeply immersive 2-3 day day/night event would be a good next step, contact us about creating a joint game.

And at the lowest level, we can help you make better milsim events yourself. Even to logistical support, making maps and so forth. If interested, contact us and we can talk about it.

Fieldcraft Training

As discussed recently on Facebook, we want to start offering training on topics others do not offer easily. General fieldcraft, land navigation, communications, tactical vehicle driving, and anything else you come up with. If the first of these go well, expect a regular series, maybe 3-4 a year.

We'll also consider adding some more conventional tactical training such as night vision familiarization, shooting (airsoft and live weapons) and so on.

These won't be free, but we'll try to keep them cheap. $20 is the sort of fee we're talking about but will vary based on our costs. Expect us to offer basic support like water, as well as maps, handouts, etc. But you will probably have to handle food and housing.

These will be based in locations near civilization, and will have breaks planned so you can run off to get food at a restaurant, and sleep in a hotel room. No camping required, though we'll try to also have sites that allow it when we can to save you money.

If you have input on this, of course you can comment, but also please take our survey on fieldcraft and training events. And yes, we're willing to travel to your part of the country, if you can actually promise a certain turnout, enough to make it worth our time and gas money.

Blogging, Facebook

We are also very interested in keeping the community up and running. Expect more nerdy blog posts on the vagaries of war gaming, on modern tactics and more.

And if you like what we've been trying to do and are sad, don't be. Again let us reassure you we're still around.

And you can help. Just keep subscribed to this blog, or to CWG on Facebook (or both). Add your own interesting posts on tactics, and share equipment that seems relevant. Tell your friends and consider better ways, places, fields and rules to make events work well.

And tell us what you think. We won't necessarily DO everything you say, but we're accepting of every idea you might have, and enjoy talking to you all.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Simulating Ambushes, Near and Far

I have previously written about the principles of scale in war gaming and simulation systems. I made some references to the effect specific terrain features have on the scenario, and implied tactical considerations of that without getting into too many details. Today, let me explain one of them to you. Not just for the theory, but as understanding the concept will make you more effective in war gaming, and better able to apply the lessons to real world warfighting. 

Ambushes are considered to be one of two types: near and far. Near ambushes you react to by running over them, far ones you react to with range weapons or support, and withdrawing. But the definitions of which is which are where things break down in my opinion. 

I've seen specific distances used, or "grenade throwing range" as a definition. And I've specifically seen good, smart instructors say you simply cannot have a far ambush simulated in exercises (some admit it maybe works with MILES). 

FM 7-92 even says that a near ambush is one in grenade range, and includes in the react-to-ambush drill that you throw grenades and smoke. But it leaves this out for far ambushes. 

But those are incorrect definitions, and lead to worse training and no one getting proper experience. Instead, the definitions I think are right are: 
  • Near ambush – Ambushers can be easily assaulted as they are nearby, without excessive distance, difficult terrain, or obvious obstacles in the way. React by:
    1. Returning fire 
    2. Using smoke to obscure your position and actions, and hand grenades to distract and kill the enemy
    3. Troops in the kill zone turn and assault through the enemy position as soon as grenades fire
    4.  Troops outside the kill zone continue firing upon the enemy position until friendly forces over-run the enemy position, then lift or shift fires
  • Far ambush – Ambushers cannot be easily reached due to distance, or obstacles. React by:
    1. Returning fire
    2. Using cover, concealment and smoke to reduce the effectiveness of the ambush fires
    3. If available quickly enough, using elements not in the kill zone to direct fires and destroy or displace the ambushers
    4. Withdrawing from the kill zone 

This definition allows us to accurately simulate both types of ambushes just fine with short range systems, such as paintball, UTM or Simunitions, blanks-and-yelling, or airsoft. This is important not just for the exercise or game administrator, but for tactical commanders as both options are available to you still. 

I have seen this happen on several occasions in fact, to great effect and to great training value. Near ambushes are largely unchanged, but far ambushes are different. The ambushing unit: 

  1. Sets at nearly the maximum effective range of their weapons
  2. On the other side of an obstacle such as a creek, embankment, marshy area, etc. 
Distance is actually irrelevant. Your "far" ambush may have troops set up 20 yards from the crossroads you are ambushing, because that is as far away as they can be to bring fire to bear effectively, and the steep-sided creek between the two is effectively impassable.

When the ambush occurs, the troops in the kill zone may be able to clearly see the enemy forces just a few dozen yards away, but will also be able to tell they cannot be reached and over-run. 

As an aside, simulation grenades are often very lightweight so have a reduced range, thereby adding to the scale effect. 

Complex terrain occurs in reality just like this. If I was setting up an ambush I would certainly want to make sure you could not assault my position, regardless of how far away I was. This has happened many times in our most recent wars, with walled garden plots, and frequent irrigation ditches providing obstacles to reach enemy forces who are quite nearby, per conventional definitions of ambushes. 

Do not hew too hard to doctrine and rote memorization of facts and drills. Think about why things are the way they are, how environment and circumstances get their vote in the battle, how you can exploit the situation, and how the enemy can use this all this against you. 

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