Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Funeral Games II - Whoops! A Palace Coup!

In part 1 of my review of the megagame Funeral Games, my character, Perdiccas had been assasinated.

After a break, I was given a new role for the second half of the game. I was to be the youngest, and very wayward, son of AntipaterAlexarchus.

Alexarchus was a very different role, more appealing to the role player in me. Although in the end I did something that influenced the game. I was effective, by accident!

I had only two game objectives in my brief. 
  1. My big brother, Cassander, was always and utterly right and I would follow and do whatever he said.
  2. I wanted to found a New Thebes, in Greece, so my new religion of sun worship could thrive.
In the historical background to the brief I was told that I liked Diogenes the Cynic. In fact I was told he was my hero and if I wasn't Alexarchus, I would have wanted to be Diogenes. I liked new religions, building cities, chatting and hanging out with my mates. I thought Queen Olympias and her daughter Cleopatra made a lovely couple. I though most people in the world were squares and not cool. I wanted to found a new age elite colony of like minded sun worshipers. I must have spent a fortune on hair cuts and clothes.

So I was a Macedonian hippy, with some power and prestige and a very determined and aggressive big brother, Cassander.

It was a very different role from being the authoritarian and ineffective Perdiccas. I could just role play. My first game act was to refuse to go on the Macedonian hunt - I wasn't into killing animals. At any opportunity I could I mentioned the power of the sun, and praised him, sometimes in song. I then took to sidling upto players hanging around quiet tables and asking them if they wanted to be immortalised in stone. I would build them a city, and name it after them, all they had to do was give me 2,500 talents, I could get the Tyche cards and 2 units of Hoplites. To my surprise a tired looking Seleuchus said yes. He had money and liked the idea. I am not sure why, perhaps he thought he would ingratiate himself with my nasty big brother, Cassander.

Anyways. The conversation went a bit like this:

Hey Cassander big bro dude, how's it hanging. (I think I was getting all Bill and Ted on him, at this point.) 

Watcha our kid. Whaddyaupto? 

Dude bro, how's about building the New Thebes and getting all our cool mates to come along. We can smoke and drink and party like the sun ain't never coming back. I got this shaved head soldier bloke, mate of our old Dad, who says he's got enough bread to spread to make us the city, Daddyo.

Well that get's a bit tiresome, but you get the idea.

Anyway, it all worked a treat and we got the new Thebes-Seleuchus built somewhere in the back-olive groves of Greece. The only thing I had forgot was Cassander and his brief. He had been talking with my other brother and they had decided that they were going to capture Queen Olympias and Cleopatra. Well I knew they were the hot couple, always at the best parties, so I approved. Only thing was, he got me and my hoplites to go to the palace when everyone was busy on campaign or partying at the new city. We then killed the guards and our men ran amuck through the palace, capturing and killing the Queen, though Cleopatra escaped. I was mortified. It really was a downer. All that blood on my new party clothes and just when my new city was going to be the hoopiest place in Greece and the rest of the known world. We were going to have the party of the universe. And now we had a dead old Queen looking like a Dutch cheese. 

So I ran off to my new city and chilled out. 

And then I had an idea, I was going to build a protest statue. I was going to build a colossus, of Diogenes, with a miniature Alexander the Great, who would rotate and always be in Diogenes' shade. Yeah, they would be so overcome with shame and guilt, all those turnip headed squares. That would tell 'em. I tried to get, Arrhidaeus, the architect who built Alexander's funeral cortege, to build my colossus, but he got all timid and square on me and said the bad dudes with spears would spit him. I gave him a withering look and went back to my sunlight city.

That was a real bummer.

Then the game ended.

...

This was the complete antithesis to Perdiccas' role. I had a little bit of money, some prestige, and some dynastic points. And I just got in a role-played and a lot of fun. 

Perhaps a great illustration of why megagames are such addictive fun. You bring yourself to the game and make the game you want - within some limitations.



Funeral Games II - The Plight of Perdiccas

I was Perdiccas in the Megagame* "Funeral Games II", played in London, on the 22nd November 2014.

Perdiccas was the Regent of the Two Kings and the titular inheritor of Alexander the Great's power. Alexander died suddenly in Babylon aged 32, just after conquering vast territories, stretching from Greece to India and from Egypt to Bactria. Unfortunately Perdiccas was not the most popular choice for the post. He got the post because he was the most senior of Alexander's generals at the death bed scene. His big rivals were Craterus, somewhere in Asia Minor, and Antipater, somewhere in Macedonia.

It is unusual for me to get such a senior role in a megagame. I have an inkling of why I was chosen for this post. I was chosen so I would fail. Well let me put it a different way: the historical Perdiccas failed because he was not the most popular choice and because he tried to rule by dictate and ordering people about. He was not a good political operator, perhaps a good general, but not able to negotiate, and broker deals like a politician. And eventually he was murdered by his Generals when he has made one too many mistakes. I think I am not a strong leader and would thus recreate history.

I was aware of my destiny with history. And I was aware that my fellow Generals and other players would probably have briefs to dislike, or distrust me.

My game objectives, given to me by the game designer in my game briefing:
  • Issue strong and clear commands to your subordinates across the Empire.
  • Regain control of the Empire, especially the frontier provinces
  • Employ someone at an early stage to do a financial appreciation
  • Decide on the outcome of the Athenian Appeal against the Exiles Decree
  • Marry into the Royal Family if at all possible
  • Ensure the survival of the two Kings unless it makes more sense to ask the Macedonian Assembly for ultimate power.
  • Do all you can to repay Eumenes for his loyalty

Now I am firmly in the school of Megagame players who honour their player objectives, even if my game-playing brain is saying better you do something not in your character's brief. Perhaps this is the other reason why I was selected for this senior role: the designer trusted that I would try to follow my brief and not get clever and start to develop a clever political strategy to survive. Megagame designers are very keen on getting the players' casting right. It is probably the most important decisions they take to cast players into roles that means that the strengths or weaknesses of the historical characters are mirrored by the personality of the players.

I decided after a little reading around the history of the time (Wikipedia!) that the key to my brief were the first two objectives. Perdiccas had tried to rule the Empire like he would an Army. I give strong clear orders. I was concerned with the entire Empire, not my little patch of power in Persia. If I was sensible and a gamer I would have started brokering deals with my subordinates and rivals and started to limit my ambitions to perhaps control the provinces around me in central Persia. I would have been less of a Regent, and more of a survivor.

But as I said, the briefing informs how I will play the game. I am not one of those armchair wargaming generals who thinks they have thought up some fantastic strategy and want to try to do better than the historical counterpart. One of my great joys in playing in Megagames is that it enables me experience as near as I can what it is like to be in Command, or to be a General etc. 

In this game I was overwhelmed. I tried to meld a team of inexperienced players (for several their first megagame) into a team that ran my operations, my intelligence and my logistics. But this was difficult. One player would not cooperate and gave me a lot of stress. The others were hesitant and coming to me for every decision that I had hoped they might get on with. And then I had all those loyal subordinate generals, in far flung provinces, sending messages, requests, suggestions, whinges, accusations, and admonishments. Often in the game I had a queue of players waiting for their ten seconds worth with me. 

If I was a more focused player, a more calculating player I might have coped better with this. As it was I was overwhelmed. I started to narrow my focus, crisis manage from one input to the next. Occasionally I wanted to take control - go and negotiate with a player - and my arm was jostled, my elbow gripped and another player asking to talk to me.

And this for me was an interesting lesson in the failures of leaders in history. Some people can and have excelled in leadership. And I - and others - do not. I cannot dismiss and ignore people, and talk to only those I want to. I find it difficult to keep in my mind's eye my objectives and aims. I get pushed and pulled by the immediacy of events, requests, conversations etc. And this led me to make the mistake that would become my fatal mistake.

My mistake was to allow the betrothed princess Eurydice to come to Babylon and marry Philip III of Macedon, the idiot half brother of Alexander the Great. I thought it would mean I would control one of the royal princesses and it would give me another thing to trade. However, soon after her arrival she secretly married Philip. She apologised and looked innocent. I believed her and forgave her. She then took control of Philip, and I lost some "Legitimacy points". She apologised and looked innocent. I believed her and forgave her. And then she set off with the funeral cortege of Alexander - without my knowing, without my permission and with nothing I could do about it.  

I got angry - well more of a role-play anger - and had a few shouts at people. But I realised that the bindings of my Regency were becoming frayed and undone. When the body of Alexander was buried in Alexandria, Egypt, I saw red. I denounced Ptolemy as an outlaw and asked all to turn their hands to defeating and capturing him, with intention of moving Alexander's body to Macedon for a proper burial.

As I was making my speech to the 
Macedonian Assembly... 
I was assassinated by 
Peithon and Puecestes. 
And then... well it all went wrong. My armies marched, some generals hung around, some slunk away and only a couple came with me. I had to leave most of my loyal supporters in Babylon looking after operations and watching the other generals. I came a cropper at the Nile, a flood took away part of my army and my subordinates lost faith in me. Grasping at papyrus reeds I took the opportunity to attend a Macedonian Assembly in Alexandria. I made my case about the outlaw Ptolemy, there were strong words said, accusations etc. Eventually the Assembly voted out my declaration of outlawry of Ptolemy and then I was stabbed in the back by my generals Peithon and Peucestes.

And as the blades went in I said: "thank f**k for that, I can get a cup of tea now." My games was over, what a relief.

And this was the other insight that the game brought. Towards the end of my game I realised that all was failing, and that it was only a matter of time before I was stripped of all my power by my rivals. So I did something I could do - I took control of a field army and marched, giving distinct, clear and strong orders to march and fight and get that outlaw Ptolemy. I was so out of control of the political situation that I decided to roll the "iron dice of war" and take control of an army on campaign. If you sometime wonder why generals do foolish things in history, like march to the attack when their support is ebbing, I had my answer. When all goes to sh** you start to focus on doing things you can control.

A great game, even if I was backstabbed. 

I learnt a lot about myself, and about command and leadership. And confirmed that I am no leader of men. I make a good staff officer, a loyal subordinate. I am one of the world's NCOs.




* Megagame is a game about a conflict that involved teams arranged in hierarchies. It usually involves about 30 to 50 players, some rarer games having 150 players. If requires people skills more than tactical or strategic knowledge. It requires that the players talk to each other, cooperate within their team, seek information about the enemy and negotiate, make alliances and political deals.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

It all went swimmingly


It all went swimmingly.


Guards' Armoured Division, Wargame Diary

Market Garden MegagamesNL,
Nijmegen, 30th August 2014



Move 0 – morning (pre-game)

A superb performance from the 5th Guards' Armoured Brigade with support from the Guards' Divisional Artillery Group (GDAG) and XXX Corps Artillery saw a deep penetration into the German lines.


Move 1 - afternoon

Orbat
Guards' Armoured Division (GAD) plus the Household Cavalry (HC) Regiment of armoured cars and the attached 129th Infantry Brigade from 43rd (Wessex) Division.

Activity
The GAD spent the afternoon reorganising after the morning assault of the German front line. Overnight they prepared for an assault next morning.

5th Guards' Armoured Brigade (GAB) was in the front, along the Hell's Highway, with a recce screen thrown out by the HC in front of Valkenswaard.

The artillery regiments had got into road columns ready to move forward. Artillery support was made by XXX Corps artillery.

The GAD supply dump was near Lommel. Up front with the 5th GAB was the Guards RASC Column. Collecting supplies from the base was the 90th RASC

129th Infantry Brigade was to the east of the positions and was patrolling and probing into wooded areas attempting to discover if the bridges were being held. As they approached the first bridge the German forces there blew the bridge.


Move 2 - morning

Orbat
129th Infantry brigade was detached, back to 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division.

Activity
Major assault by 5th GAB, with artillery bombardment from the XXX Corps and a good show from the RAF. The forward platoons of mechanised infantry discovered that the German infantry positions had been weakened and the infantry had moved out over night. The Brigadier swiftly asked the XXX Corps to move its fire plan to shift its main effort to the second line of the Germans near to Valkenswaard. This was successfully done, and the armour and mechanised infantry rushed these positions under a superb effort from the Corps Artillery. A few self-propelled anti tank guns – Panzerjager remained active and a few Shermans were brewed up but the FOO directed 5.5 stonks which suppressed them. The RAF were excellent and concentrated their bombing in the rear of the second line causing havoc - which we witnessed later as we had to literally use Shermans as bulldozers to clear the wreckage off the road.

The Divisional commander (the Old Man) urged the Brigadier of 5th GAB on, on, and on to Eindhoven and beyond. The Irish and Grenadier Guard armoured battlegroups brushed past groups of bewildered Germans attempting to surrender and with a cursory glance our happy Tommies pointed down the road, “hande hoche down there mate.”

As our armoured columns raced down the road the Sherman's made good use of those pintel mounted machine guns and strafed soft skinned transport columns, the men not even bothering to loot the paltry German supplies – who wants sauerkraut and acorn coffee – and they rapidly found themselves pushing into the streets of Eindhoven shooting up surprised flax units and ersatz groups of old soldiers with old Mausers who either took to their heels or did the hande hoche dance.

XXX Corps had information that the bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal at Son, north of Eindhoven, had been blown. So the HC Regt was pushed along the road encountering some German resistance on the road near Acht.


Move 3 - afternoon

Orbat
Addition of 525 RASC Regt to Divisional assets.

Activity
The 5th Brigade with HC probed for the flanks of the position and prepared themselves for an assault the next day.

The Divisional commander received notification from XXX Corps that the German units had elements of the US 101st Airborne Division in their rear and were thus surrounded.

The Old Man spent a lot of time trying to sort out his supply problems. Apparently his RASC supply columns had been caught up in the mother of all traffic jams along Hell's Highway, mostly being caught in the queue of the 43rd and 50th Division footsloggers. His supply problems were temporarily resolved when the XXX Corps was assigned the 525th RASC Regt. already loaded up with supplies.


Move 4 – morning

Orbat
No change

Activity
Over night reports from infantry patrols noted that the German units had left their positions and had moved over the canal to the south-west of the road!

The attack was cancelled and the 5th Armoured Brigade moved forward gingerly only to be greeted by relieved looking Yanks, who were only too pleased to share a hot cup of char with our Guards. The Old Man was on the blower toute suite and gave the Brigadier a rocket getting him to move his troops on, on and on again, destination Nijmegen.

The 5th GAB moved along the road, lined with smiling 101st paras. We passed through Best and Sint Oedenrode courtesy of the US Airborne only to find that the bridge at Veghel had just been taken by a well organised German counter attack using artillery and and infantry attack from the west, driving off the US paras weakened after several days of continuous fighting.

During the day the Old Man ordered the move of the Guards Supply Dump to Eindhoven only to find it could not make any headway along the road, still being blocked by the 43rd Division and its preparation for an assault. The supply dump moved up to Lommel instead and waited.

The Old Man garrisoned Eindhoven with the Welsh Guards mechanised infantry battalion, the AA Regt, the Engineers and the 525th RASC Transport column, still with essential and now very precious supplies.


Move 5 - evening

The GAD was able to concentrate itself before Veghel, with the 101st Paras spreadout on the flanks in support, the two Guards Artillery Regts. were ready to give fire support. Again with the 5th GAB in front. The 32 GAB was further down the road waiting its chance.

Belatedly the 525th RASC Regt was sent from Eindhoven, the Old Man reassured by the 101st Paras that the road was safe. A resupply was managed that night in the forward positions of Veghel.


Move 6 – morning

The attack went in as planned though there was a no show from the RAF, something about the weather they said afterwards. The Germans had dug themselves in but seemed a little disorganised and were not even supported by their artillery, which had caused the US paras such problems the day before. Even so the fight was a little stiffer than before, but we were supported gallantly by the US paras who wanted to show us Brits that they knew a thing a to and with their ability to infiltrate across any sort of ground they were able to out flank Veghel and subject the German positions to a withering flanking fire. Soon our armour was able to take out their strong points with our Shermans using their main gun at short ranges, and the position crumbled quickly. The paras took many prisoners as our armoured battlegroups motored through the streets and on, on and on to Grave and beyond.

The 5th GAB moved down empty roads through Uden to find its way blocked by some German positions just short of Grave.

The HC checked out the airport at Volkel and was blocked by some accurate flak fire across the open fields. It was later supported by the Irish Guards mechanised infantry battalion from the 5th GAB. The 32nd GAB was on the road past Uden. Our artillery remained in its positions to support the 101st in guarding the crossing at Veghel.


Move 7 – afternoon

Our supply situation was now critical. Later in the day the positions at Veghel were threatened with a pincer movement from both east and west of the road. The 101st infantry in the town were getting jittery. The HC and the Irish Guards were hastily recalled to assist and our artillery group gave sterling service bombarding the gathering German troop concentrations. The unflappable Guards Artillery CO informed the Old Man that they had used their last 25 pdr shells and he was going to issue his men rifles and bayonets and show those Screaming Eagles how to give Jerry the taste of cold steel.

Luckily the German pincer proved chimerical and there was only a combined infantry and artillery attack from the west that was causing the US paras some problems, though the appearance of our “armour” soon dismayed the Germans and the attack petered out.

In the front, the 5th GAB was preparing an attack with the assistance of the 82nd Airborne units. The 82nd were ready to use up the last of their ammo to give the 5th GAB an artillery bombardment with their light 105's. Things were getting desperate for the 82nd..

The Old Man at last received word that the road to Eindhoven had been cleared of Germans and our foot slogging infantry was making its way to Eindhoven. To make amends, XXX Corps ordered the up several RASC columns to supply the GAD. The GAD own RASC columns had managed to reach Eindhoven.

One success cheered everyone up when the Engineer unit reported that it had set up one of its Bailey Bridges at Son. This meant that we now had two routes north of Eindhoven, though as yet no traffic as the road was only just being unblocked.


Move 8 – morning

Unfortunately the counter attack on the bridge at Veghel had delayed the movement forward of our promised supplies. The GAD RASC Regts. were still at Eindhoven and started the journey late that morning. This meant another day waiting for supplies to catch up the teeth, what a tale.

The 32nd GAB took over the front lines from the 5th GAB and prepared for an assault. The 5th GAB probed round the flank of the German positions just south of Grave and found numerous German infantry dug in.

The HC screened off the road to Volkel and the Irish Guards mechanised infantry battalion moved up Uden. The Old Man was concerned that the road would not get broken just when he needed to get his supplies up.


Move 9 – afternoon

The Old Man got into his battered Humber Staff Car and personally directed the GAD's RASC transport columns along the road, bollocking any who dared to get in the way. He said later he had never had to play a being a traffic cop before and it was an invigorating days work. No doubt the RASC were galvanised by being reminded of the anonymous private who had driven his wagon of Brown Bess ammo to the north gate of the besieged Hougomont Farm at the Battle of Waterloo. The drivers drove like demons along the road, not heeding any danger, just making speed. A few hours later they were delivered ammo and fuel directly to the tanks at their start lines, and with an “off you go mate, see you in Arnhem” the 32nd GAB went into the assault. The Taffy's and the Coldstreamers, were at last given their chance to show the Paddy's and Grenadiers what they could do.

Later the Old Man confessed to me that he had had to be nice to the CO from the 43rd who had button holed him in the Corps mess and asked him how he liked the Infantry's bully beef – the old man said he had not the heart to tell him that they just left the 43rd's grub to the hungry US Paras. He thought it was only fair as the Guards had nicked the Paras Hershey Bars.

The Brigadier of the 32nd GAB was a little concerned at the lateness of his attack as he had heard that the 82nd were under attack from a new group of krauts who had appeared out of the polder. The hard pressed 82nd in Grave had withdrawn when they found themselves attacked by superior Germans with artillery support. The Brigadier guessed that this meant the German's in front of him had been weakening their front line with the Guards and with a tally ho the Coldstreamers were off after the fox running before them. They easily over ran the thinned German positions in front and launching themselves into the Germans who were busily trying to sort themselves out in Grave after they had just captured it from the Yanks. It was a messy affair, with a much lighter artillery stonk from the 82nd, but our lads had their blood up and with our Shermans lobbing shells directly into the German troop concentrations the Guards Infantry demonstrated why they were still the best, driving up in their armoured half tracks and debussing right ontop of the hapless Germans! Hey ho, to work we go with a bayonet and grenade and an M3 Armoured Halftrack!

With the town taken the Welsh Guard battlegroups then pushed through the town on, on and on, towards Nijmegen and Arnhem. As the light faded the HC pushed onto the Island at last.


Move 10 – morning

With an early morning start the whole division, lead by the 32nd GAB, and now including about six RASC transport columns from the Guards, the 43rd, the 50th and the XXX Corps, moved along the road to Arnhem, passing through a eerily quiet Nijmegen, only a few tense 82nd airborne chaps poking their heads out to wave us along.

Once on the “Island” we started to met some grim looking Red Berets. They all assured us that there were no Germans on the road and so the men of Harlech sped on and met no foe men, just over excited Polish in khaki who were a little too enthusiastic in their welcome. After some language difficulties – the Welsh thought the Poles were Scottish, and the Poles mistook the Welsh for Irish – they drove on into Arnhem.

We heard later from Corps that the Germans had attacked Nijmegen and Veghel (again) as the Guards Armoured Division had swanned unopposed into Arnhem. We didn't even notice!!

Hurrah for the Guards.

….......

Note

This was all written from memory a few days after the game. I might have got some of the facts wrong but I am pretty sure it is a reasonably accurate record of the GADs progress during the game.

I was the Liaison Umpire for the Guard's Armoured Division.

Nick Luft



Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Word Battleship

Learning aim

A game for pre-Intermediate and advanced-Intermediate English learners.

  • Listening to and understanding the rules of the game
  • Practicing saying letters and numbers 
  • Understanding and spelling words in English

Game synopsis

Using the traditional format of Battleships, the players attempt to locate words and predict them and their location on the grid.

Resources

  • paper with 10 by 10 gridded squares
  • whiteboard and markers / blackboard and chalk
  • pens, pencils etc.


Preparation

The teacher prepares a crossword like grid with 10 words that are written vertically top to bottom or horizontally left to right and that intersect. All words have to be written like a crossword so that they only form proper words. Do not run words parallel to each other or butt words endtoend!

Each player is given a blank grid to mark off the shots and letters as they and the other players hit them.

The teacher writes on the whiteboard 20 words, 10 of which are already on the grid prepared earlier.


Order of play

  1. In turn each player calls out one of the gird references. (e.g. "A8")
  2. The teacher tells the player if they have:
    • missed
    • hit and what letter was at that grid reference
  3. The player can try to guess either a word or the entire grid. See "scoring" below.
  4. Next player...

Scoring


There are two variants on scoring. One provides quick scoring opportunities throughout the game and the other only gives victory when all words and their positions on the grid have been correctly guessed.

Quick Scoring

After each player calls gets a hit, the player can attempt to guess the word hit. Each word hit gives them a point.

Alternative scoring: To encourage guessing a correctly guessed word scores as many points as there are un hit letters!

The two above variants suit younger children as they get immediate feedback.

Final Victory

At the end of a player's turn - not dependent on hitting or missing a letter - the player can announce they know the grid and bring their paper to be marked by the teacher. The words and their orientation have to be correct.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Monster's Inc

This is a simple educational game that engages the children in a game, gets them using their imagination and naming body parts, and also gives them some drawing fun.

I have used it to assist children in listening and speaking English.

Resources
  • pens, pencils, erasers, crayons etc.
  • paper
  • alternatively you could use a whiteboard or blackboard
Rules
  1. Each person takes it in turn to suggest a body part, a type of animal or some feature. For example: a big nose, speakers for a hands, pirate arms, angel wings or a giraffe's body. The teacher writes this on the board.
  2. Each child draws the new "body part" on their paper, adapting it to the other parts drawn before.
  3. When all have finished, each student passes their paper to another student. This is simplest if they pass to the same person each time. It could be randomised, but this will create more fuss and potential confusion.
  4. Go back to 1 and repeat.
I would suggest that no more than 6 or 8 parts are included in each drawing as the sketch gets a little busy after a while. Keep an eye on progress.

End
When all have completed their drawing, gather them in and ask for the children to judge which is the best.

Ask them what they like about each one. Praise good ideas etc.

Ask them to name the bit which is the head, or the body etc.

Example

This example was created from the following list.
  1. Speaker Head
  2. Thin Body
  3. Pirate Arms
  4. Octopus' Tentacles
  5. Silly Hat
  6. Small Legs.
The class voted this one the best one.

I liked it because one child told me that he had included two "pirate arms" - the one with tattoos and the "internet pirate" with the mouse! Not bad for a Spanish kid of about 12.




Acknowledgement
Thanks to Ian Temple for suggesting this idea.


Monday, 6 January 2014

The Wrinkles of Tactics - First World War tactics

Infantry and artillery tactics in the late part of the First World War were constantly being adjusted to cope with changes made by the enemy, or because of a military defeat or failure. Occasionally there were big changes, like the German elastic defence, early 1917. Most of the time there were small adjustments or responses to tactics, for example the Germans changing their deployment of reserves in response to the British "Bite and Hold" tactic, in 1917.

I want to focus on the tactical adjustments; the wrinkles of tactics. 

This would also reflect another idea I have that the Generals of the First World War had very few real decisions to take during a battle. Most of their decisions were taken in planning and then embedded in the dissemination of the orders.

Synopsis of the Game
The players represent the Army Command running a campaign on a front. For example they could be Plummer's HQ team at Passchendaele, in 1917.

The game would involve the quick resolution of several of battles and the players would learn from each battle and make adjustments accordingly for the next battle.

The players would be provided with the existing tactical doctrine and would have to conform to that. The player teams are provided with a tactical pro-forma that guides them to creating a plan. The pro-forma will conform to the tactical doctrine of the time. So the German elastic defence will have sections indicating the three layers that require resources etc. The umpires can assist with the planning.

Each battle will be resolved by the umpire team very quickly, probably 10 minutes.
The battle would be fought probably more like a mugger game (a discussion) within the umpire team. The opposing plans are examined and the battle resolved.  The umpires then provide a set of reports (verbally) to the teams from the point of view of the Divisional and Corps Commanders.

After listening to the reports and hearing the outcomes the players may wish to modify some aspect of their next operational plan. For example they might opt to have a longer bombardment, or more artillery focus on counter-bombardment etc. Or the Germans might wish to deploy their reserves nearer the front or further away. The main thing is that they cannot alter the overarching existing tactical doctrine.

These tactical changes and counter-changes form the main part of the game. A kind of bluffing game, and kind of guessing game. Will the enemy persist in holding their reserves a long way back?

This part of the game could get complicated by adding rules about Intelligence gathering and deception work. But that is another game. This game is about working within the confines of a tactical scheme the players cannot change. The players can make small adjustments within the scheme. These I think were the main decisions the Commanders had available to them during a campaign.


Changing tactical doctrine
There were only a few occasions when an Army would change its tactical doctrine. It took a lot of resources to re-train the soldiers to implement these changes. The training had to embed the knowledge so that it did not require thinking through, but was part of the standard operating procedures of the units. Thus these big changes were rare.

The only game I can think for this would be the debate amongst the senior commanders each championing their tactical idea, though some evidence might be needed. This would come through after the battle reports.