Friday 22 March 2013

WI 306 and Hidden Movement

I received my issue of Wargames Illustrated yesterday and have just about had time to peruse its contents. The Theme this month is Vietnam which - not entirely unsurprisingly - coincides with Battlefronts release of its new Vietnam Rulebook, Tour of Duty. If this is your period then you'll love this issue with articles on the development and contents of the new book and sneak previews of new models. However if you aren't into this period you may find this issue a bit 'Nam heavy. 

Having said that there are articles on a variety of other periods, as always. Deus Vult looks at Fireforges new game set in the time of the Crusades. This is a really interesting looking period with still have relevance and resonance in modern times. The Battle of Jersey is another interesting article as it deals with Frances attempt to invade Jersey in 1781 to remove the threat the island posed to French and American shipping in the American War of Independence. Air Combat Wargaming by Rob Wubbenhorst fills a niche that is often overlooked in wargaming magazines and writes about fighting in the skies.

However one article in particular caught my attention as it is a subject I have been thinking a lot about in relation to my North Africa Project. Hidden Movement by Pete Brown of the Worcester Wargames Club reviews several methods for introducing the fog of war into a game. This is a well researched article with interesting photo's illustrating the seven methods described and I think will be of interest to most wargamers, no matter what period they play.

Some of the methods listed, such as 'Duplicate tables' or the 'Three Room' method strike me as the sort of thing that can only be achieved by a wargaming club or the richer sort of wargamer (no Ray, not me). These require either lots of room, or lots of terrain and miniatures, or both. Other methods such as the Shield or Blanket method are much more practical. I used this method regularly when I played Warhammer Fantasy Battle several decades ago, but most recently I have seen it used by Postie in a Crimean game where the Fog of War was literally fog that obscured movement of friend and foe alike.

The curtain goes up...and Ray's laughter could be heard across town. 

The 'Token' or 'Blind' method is another technique that has been around for a long time. The likes of Donald Featherstone were using this technique thirty or forty years ago and is employed in modern games like I ain't been shot mum! to simulate uncertainty. Its also the method I favour for my desert games, although I have yet to figure out how to fit it into the Flames of War rules. One of the things I have read a lot about was the effect of dust, heat haze and the glare of the sun to reduce visibility and confuse the senses for all the combatants in the desert. Utilising a larger table, smaller 6mm models and 'dust/hidden markers' will give me a chance to simulate this effect on the table and hopefully will introduce some much needed confusion and uncertainty into the game!

I'd be interested to hear what method other gamers have used and how they got on with them. In particular any advise or ideas with regards using markers would be appreciated as there seems to be a dearth of information on the 'interweb' regarding this (maybe I was Googling it wrong, as the Vicar said to the Nun). 


  1. I tend to play only skirmish level games now, Lee, and use Two Hour Wargames rules solely, which employ 'Potential Enemy Force' or PEF markers that move on their turn as a normal unit would, depending upon their characteristics etc. They are only revealed as either units or not once 'sighted' by LOS to them.
    They also employ a scouting rule where likely enemy locations are tested via dice throws to establish if they are occupied, which, again, often results in an unexpected fire fight - all good stuff.

  2. A very easy to achieve uncertainty is to use activation cards and pips. Say you have a hand with the activation of 3 specific platoons while you have 6 on the board. Then you can assume that there is for the other platoon you cannot activate:
    -lack of situational awereness
    -"something's wrong and they are busy"

    The idea is not as much as to recreate at all cost the fact that you haven't identified the enemy but rather you do nothing about it.

    This in my opinion is a very good approximation of the fact that even if as a player you have a god's view of the troops involved, it doesn't matter in the end because your troops don't have this awarenss and do what they can.

    This is very much inspired from Command & Colors that I have been playing a lot lately.

  3. I too play a lot of skirmish platoon level with assets. My regular opponent and I use card chits with numbers to denote recon and sniper models. The actual troops are given a number corresponding to chit by the owning player before battle..
    A house rule of 12" to chit and LOS is required to to test for reveal...if it isn't the troops they were seeking we give the squad a minus one modifier to morale/ leadership to simulate jumpiness and uncertainty.


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