Sunday 11 February 2024

Fuentes de Onoro


This weekend it was time for the 4th Rose Hill Wargaming Group annual wargame, and our 2nd in the Peninsular. We had over 2000 20mm figures and a playing surface of around 20' x 14', split into 3 tables. The rules were our in-house Steady Lads Steady, played on a 10cm grid, and whilst there are always tweaks to make everyone seemed to be getting along with them nicely.

Following the superhuman performance of the Spanish at Talavera we decided to start implementing some decent Command and Control rules, beyond our use of ADC cards. Two main changes were made:

  • Instead of rolling dice each turn for initiative each side now had a set of playing cards and bid for the choice of initiative each turn - so they could have some attempt at control of the tempo of the game. After a few turns we made the bids completely secret, all they knew was whether they had won or lost, not how much the other side had bid. All worked really well.
  • Each Brigade now had an orders block. One the face-up side it gave the type of order (eg stay, advance, move) so that the opposition could police its general behaviour, the face-down side showed essentially the level of aggression/commitment to the order (e.g. assault, defend at all costs etc). Order cards were needed to change orders, and there was a dice throw based on the Bde Comdr command rating, and the CinC could keep cards between turns so as to build up orders ready for a big change. Worked better than we could have hoped for.

Along with the use of blinds at the start for almost all troops there was far more of a sense of the CinC playing a CinC level game, whilst the rest of the players fought their Corps as instructed. 

In terms of how it played the British pulled out of Fuentes de Onoro before the French even got there! The French pushed for the gap between Poco Velho and Nave de Haver, but didn't want to get caught in a confused mess as they passed through the defile, but did get caught in a confused mess as the British extended a very thin red line all the way down the ridge to level with Nave de Haver. There was then essentially fighting along the whole length of the 20' table - a grand sight - and eventually the line provided a little too thin and the French not only turned the S flank but also split the line in two - which would effectively have caused 1st and 9th Divisions to surrender!

One of the really nice things was just there shear amount of space to manoeuvre in. We have about the same table area as Talavera but only about 2/3 rds the troops.

A great game, played in a great spirit by everyone. A few more tweaks for the rules and we'll hopefully be back for Albuera in 2025.

Photos in reverse order, so end of the game at the top!

STARTEX - Almost all the troops on blinds - some are dummies!

Sunday 7 January 2024



At VCOW this year I ran Cityfight2024, a massively simplified (and updated) version of the 1979 SPI classic Cityfight. It's a platoon level hex-and-counter game but designed to be played double-blind, so ideal for remote play. I set up each board  on its own Google Slides document, and the players all had voice comms via Zoom. It's a bit like Battleships, except the "ships" can move every turn!

You can find out more about the game on my PhD Wiki.

My control set-up, one screen per side

Red's view of the battle

Blue's view of the battle

Thursday 23 November 2023

Battalion Level Rules Megatest - WW2


In October/November I've started on my Battalion-level mega rules test for mechanised rules. I started with those rules aimed primarily at WW2. I set up the Cristot scenario from O Group and played it through with 3 different rules sets, plus my own. As previously noted many of the Coy level rules - see - would also work at Bn, as will some of the Bde level ones in due course.

Since most of my time is being sucked up by the PhD I've just done this one omnibus, note form, post for the playthroughs. The Modern Battalion rules should be tested 1H24.

TLDR: O Group is the set to go for!

O Group

108pp soft-back, 4pp QRS

How It Played

- Germans deployed well fwd, with A/T gun trained on road and PzrSchrk team in wood by road.

- British went for a broad advance, but A Coy (W) hesitant at start.

- On E flank B Coy came under fire fm farm, laid smoke, moved across neighbouring field and into MG ambush. Never really recovered initiative as battle focussed on W

- Once A coy got act together advanced to wood line, but 3 Pl sent home by en fire. 2 Pl stormed the farm house, took flanking fire but go through, and after couple of rounds melee took farmhouse. 

- German I. Coy tried to counter but pl defeated by fire and pulled back to wood. Germans deploy res pl and MG team into wood. Firefight with farm whilst British move 1 Pl up and Carrier Pl to enfilade the wood

- Meantime Sherman/Cromwell tps move up, but hit by the A/T ambush. The 2nd troop lasts longer, Panther Pl deployed, fires and misses, and PzrShrck firing on flank gets the final kill

- German II Coy pushes fwd W of the road against minimal opposition, risking flanks of both British thrusts

- Germans bring down mortar fire on farm, but twice get OOA. British take several turns to get Fires, but finally bring down couple of turns fire on the woods, which combined with the MG fire finally starts to get KIAs and I Coy effectively wiped out. 

- Called time. ~Turn 10/16. Probably still in balance but unlikely that Brits would get 50% of Cristot in another 6 turns, esp with II Coy fwd


- really emphasises bn level

- simple die rolls (everything is 4+), rolls+DMs easily memorable


- shock->suppression->KIA takes time to build up - realistic (in some cases)?

- quite abstract rolls (but Bn)

- confusing terms (orders, unit etc)

- Index, but page numbers hidden in spine

- not 100% logical layout

Possible Improvements

- Smoke on any arty/mortar impact squares and no other firing into before or after

- 4+ for opportunity so 50:50?

- Coy morale?

- Use a Suppress markers once get to 3 shock for less clutter and to emphasise

- Redeploy of sp wpns?

- Use tanks as individuals not sections? Else put on larger bases to emphasise.


Really nice set of rules. Certainly preferred them to Chain of Command and think the way that the patrol bases works is really good and well worth stealing. The set to beat at this level? 9/10.

Sunday 19 November 2023

Jaws of the Dragon


Jaws of the Dragon was a megagame held in London by an academic colleague looking at a potential Chinese of Taiwan. The game postulated that the initial landings had gone well, but now a week or so later the Chinese are starting to get bogged down and the US and other nations are mobilising to come to Taiwan's aid.

Being a megagame the main part was the hall of teams playing each nation and having political discussions and issuing orders to their armed forces. I was in the LOCON team, playing the Chinese Army on Taiwan, and other tables were managing the air and sea battles. A high level set of hex-and-counter type rules were meant to control the combat but in the end we freestyled quite a bit, guided by the rules.

In terms of how the game went, we almost managed to break-through the main Taiwanese defence but the US Marines arrived just in time in order to hold the line. Our biggest issue though was that the US subs had effectively blockaded Taiwan from China, so there was no way we were going to get resupplied or reinforcements. Apparently there was not a surface ship form either side left on the high seas. The US did a strategic air strike against Chinese industrial centres - particularly chip fabs, and the Chinese responded with small nukes against a US base in Japan. The US thought about it, sacked their President, and decided not to respond (or the other way around!). The real winner was probably the Philippines which had now become the dominant Naval power in the region and was wielding a high degree of influence!

My first experience of this type of game and great fun!

The Hall of Nations!

Chinese High Command

The Sea/Subsea table

Our Land table

The Air Table

Close-up of the fighting

The sentiment meter was a key part of the game

Monday 13 November 2023

Mixed Reality for Wargaming - Very Initial Experiments


In October I upgraded from my trusty Oculus/Meta Quest 1 to a Quest 3. Whilst the VR support of the Quest3 is only a marginal improvement (on the already very good) Quest1, the big step forward with the Quest3 is its Mixed Reality (MR) capability. By Mixed Reality we mean the ability to overlay virtual objects and information onto the physical world - but in such a way that the virtual objects are aware of, and respond to, the physical world layout. So for instance if you threw virtual dice onto a physical table they would bounce and roll across the table, and then probably fall off the table edge and onto the floor! 

Mixed Reality

The Quest uses a process called video pass-through. Existing Mixed Reality headsets such as the Microsoft Hololens and Magic Leap deliver Mixed Reality through projecting digital information onto a visor which the users looks through to see the physical world with the virtual overlay. By contrast, with the Quest the user is looking at a stereoscopic video screen which uses camera on the front of the headset to show the physical world, and then then displays the digital information on thew same screen. The Hololens and Magic Leap suffered from two big problems - they had a very narrow field of view and they either needed a relatively dark room or had to darken the physical world view in order to get enough contrast to see the digital information. The Quest3 solves both of these, the FOV is the same as in VR, so about 120 degrees, and it actually prefers more brightly lit rooms.

So what does it look like. This photo at the top of the page is the introductory game in Quest3 where a spaceship falls through a hole in your room's ceiling, lands on the table below it, and then starts spewing little furry aliens which start bouncing around the room and which you need to shoot - and each time you miss and hit your rooms (physical) walls the (virtual) walls begin to disappear and reveal an alien landscape behind!

Mixed Reality Wargaming

But what about wargaming? If you've played Tabletop Simulator you'll know that that already delivers a 3D wargames table - complete with models, terrain, cards and dice - but you only "see" your opponents as icons - there is a limited sense of being in the same room as them. With MR, you should be able to have that same virtual tabletop experience, but you can put the table top on your own (empty) physical table in your gaming room, and your opponents can be a mix of people physically in the same room as you (but wearing their own MR headsets) and people in remote locations coming in via the Internet (and wearing their own MR headsets and seeing the virtual table set up on their physical tables).

The nice things about MR wargaming, just as with Tabletop Simulator, is that you don't have to code any rules, you just need the various 3D assets - models, terrain, dice, cards etc - and then let players manipulate them just as they would in the physical world, and consulting physical rules (or digital copies) as and when needed.

My initial experimentations in this area are all about proving the concept, so I'm not trying to bring in a full game, just proving that the technology can do what is needed. There are likely to be 4 stages:

  • Proving it for solo play - i.e. only I am playing - but I get a fully configurable virtual wargames table (ideal for urban wargaming experiments)
  • Proving it for remote play - I'm at home and my opponent is in their home
  • Proving it for local play - I'm at home and my opponent is in the same room as me
  • Proving it for hybrid play - ideally with 3 locations and 4-6 people spread between them (if I can find enough Quest3 owning wargamers!)

First Experiments

Seeing as no-one has yet built (to my knowledge) a wargaming MR app, and I didn't want to have to write the code myself, I first needed to find an app that would let me import, place and move objects in MR. I drew up a long list of potential games/apps that I might be able to co-opt to my needs, but luckily the second one I tried - Arkio - did exactly what I needed. Arkio is designed for architects and  lets them import 3D models and share and explore them in MR, and crucially also has simple in-world build and annotation/measurement tools. So using Arkio and one of their demo cityscapes I brought in a T72 model (bought for $7 on Turbosquid) and moved it around the table, both using the controllers and just with my hands. For good measure I could move the model yacht in the model too.

And here's moving the objects by hands:

A very basic demo, but enough to prove that the concept of solo wargaming in MR is completely viable.

One issue I did have though was that when I first brough the T72 into MR I was expecting it to be something like a 1:35 scale model, whereas it came in as a 1:1 model and completely filled my (relatively large) wargames room!

If you're going to play a game in MR then its good to be able to use the physical rules as it saves you having to work out how to import them. The video quality on the Quest was not only good enough to do that, but also good enough to use your smartphone or tablet - so PDF rules would be OK. 

Of course its useful to have things like QRS sheets in world - so I converted a PDF document into an image and brought that in-world. Since this is MR you can of course put things anywhere, even hanging in space, and resize them as you need them.

A key capability is to be able to improvise within the game/application so you aren't limited to what's been already imported - this is vital to provide a flexible environment for game prototyping. Luckily Arkio has the tools to support this - the simple buildings in the video below were built using the in-world tools.

Another really neat feature of Arkio is that you point your controller at a point in the model and then be teleported into that place at "human" scale so you can view the whole model in VR. Ideal for sorting line-of-sight issues!

And finally, this need not just be for miniatures gaming but can also be used for boardgames - in this case Littoral Commander. If the cards were moved form the physical to the MR space you'd then be able to place them anywhere around you - no more running out of physical table space!

So that's it for the initial look-see. Next task is to try and get the stage 2 test sorted, and maybe bring some more assets in start working up a playable game.

Monday 14 August 2023

City & CEMA at COW

Not sure if I'm going to get as far as a review post on COW (and I've put a load of photos up anyway and written the WD page on it at, but here some of the pics from my big game at COW - City and CEMA, which was also billed as The Battle of Redditch 2027.

The game is a reasonably serious attempt at a modern Brigade-level urban wargame, with all the UAV, Cyber, EW and other whistles. You can read more about it on my PhD wiki at:

And here's one shot from my smaller solo card-based game, Rubble Town, being played head-to-head with two decks. Again more info on the wiki at