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"I have seen the future of Miniature Wargaming..." Topic

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3,266 hits since 11 Jan 2014
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tuscaloosa11 Jan 2014 8:09 a.m. PST

So last night I head over to Dennis W.'s in Alexandria VA, for a diverting air combat. It's to be the Yamamoto shootdown scenario, with 2 P-38s intercepting a Betty escorted by three Zeros.

As I arrive, Dennis has me log on to his home wireless network with my smart phone, and open up my browser to a website that he's set up. Voila – there are all the aircraft types for the scenario, and as I take two Zeros, I need only tap on the Zero and my plane's stats are visible, in a graphic user interface where each of the plotted moves available to it (climb, dive, straight, bank left/right etc etc). I need only tap on the right button to select a move, and the program adds my moves to display the end result. Since the laws of physics closely control aircrafts' actions, if I bank right I can not then immediately afterwards turn left, for example. Those buttons are grayed out until I have flown straight long enough to level out. If I dive, the plane's speed is automatically increased on the GUI, and the "airbrakes" button is highlighted, letting me know I'd better slow down before I rip the wings off. The updated altitude is also kept track of.

Now, I am not particularly knowledgeable about air combat and dogfighting techniques, so in the past when I played tactical airgames, it was always me and all the players holding clipboards and stubby pencils, while I kept asking "Can I do this? Can I do that?".

The beauty of this system is that we all had smartphones (Dennis had tablets available too, anything with a wifi connection and a browser works), and instead of having to ask what was possible or consult charts, all the options were on the screen in front of me, with altitude, speed, and orientation kept track of automatically by the program (which Dennis wrote himself). Turns went by much quicker than normal, since the admin chores were already taken care of. I flew two aircraft, so I could toggle back and forth using tabs in the browser for each aircraft. With a wireless laptop plugged into the wall, you could easily run this game at a convention.

We played this game using Air Force/Dauntless rules, but you could also edit the program to use Check Your Six, or any other WW2 or WW1 rules that use the move plotting system.

And the results; one Lightning shot down, one Zero shot down, and Admiral Yamamoto made it back to Balalei Airfield alive.

Allen57 Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2014 8:17 a.m. PST

Not really miniature wargaming. A video wargame really. Sounds cool. Your friend is very creative. I wouldn't mind playing that game.

tuscaloosa11 Jan 2014 8:21 a.m. PST

Oh no, we had a big table in front of us and all the miniatures in their respective hexes on the table. But instead of plotting the moves on a clipboard, we entered it into our smartphones, and after everyone had finished, moved the planes on the table to show the move (just like you do in a clipboard game).

The smartphones just replaced the clipboard, and kept track of admin details, also letting us know what moves were legal or not legal. No fuss, no muss.

We still played out the battle with minis on the table, so had all the eye candy and social interaction which are part of the fun of mini gaming. But the program doesn't keep track of where your plane is relative to other planes; you do that by moving the mini on the table.

Black Guardian11 Jan 2014 8:26 a.m. PST

Depends – I think there were still miniatutres on the table, with most of the inputs being handled by the computer?

If so, IŽd rather call it computer-aided wargaming (CAW?! xD), not really a video game. I could imagine some scenarios and games where additional complexity could be added and relayed to a computer which just calculates results and feeds them back to the gamers, just like the program did for tuscaloosa.

Used properly, it could considerably speed up gaming by saving you work like looking up charts & rules, tedious calculations and instead have you focues on the essential decision making parts of the game.

On the other hand, when implemented badly, youŽll have a game running itself – all depends on the designer, IŽd reckon!

nazrat11 Jan 2014 8:50 a.m. PST

I don't think the smart phones did anything but replace paper and clip boards from them-- the figure moving and dice rolling were still on the table from the sound of it. I'd just call it "paperless wargaming".

Great idea, though!

Don Manser Inactive Member11 Jan 2014 9:16 a.m. PST

Could you share the name of the app?



tuscaloosa11 Jan 2014 9:40 a.m. PST

Not an app, a program my friend wrote himself, as I noted. Browser-based, so it's not dependent on a particular operating system. I'll let him address it more if he drops by.

The G Dog Fezian Inactive Member11 Jan 2014 9:43 a.m. PST

Neat idea. Reminds me of David Ferris did with Shipbase III for naval gaming in a pre-tablet world. He called it "computer assisted gaming".

How was damage tracked? Did the program resolve all the firing, or did you have to input the damage results?

tuscaloosa11 Jan 2014 9:48 a.m. PST

This was just an early playtest version, so no damage included, but it would be easy enough to incorporate for each plane.

We resolved the firing ourselves (rolling the dice – don't want to automate that!).

And yeah, we commented that it really does harken back to programs like Shipbase III. Lots of other potential, for detailed tank rules, Starfleet Battles, those kinds of games.

Don Manser Inactive Member11 Jan 2014 9:49 a.m. PST

Thanks. It's something I'd definitely purchase if available.


FredNoris Inactive Member11 Jan 2014 10:12 a.m. PST

I would purchase also.

The Monstrous Jake11 Jan 2014 10:31 a.m. PST

Reminds me of David Ferris did with Shipbase III for naval gaming in a pre-tablet world. He called it "computer assisted gaming".

I had dreams and schemes of doing the sort of game Tuscaloosa describes above back when PDAs became available in the mid-and-late-1990's, but the expense and cross-platform problems made it impractical.

Now that just about everybody has a smart phone with web browsing capability, I think it's the first time it's actually practical to do this sort of game. I wish this stuff had been available back when I was writing Shipbase.

Phillius Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2014 10:56 a.m. PST

Sounds like a great tool. Hope you get many more fun games out of it.

Allen57 Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2014 11:31 a.m. PST

Sorry for the misunderstanding. That is really cool. I am a big fan of aircombat games with 1/600 aircraft and such a system would really be nice. I could envision it handling unsighted aircraft as well. It would also be nice for space combat and as mentioned naval wargames.

Texas Jack11 Jan 2014 2:09 p.m. PST

I am really too old school to really appreciate this app, but something like this might finally get my 19 year old son interested, and thus I too think it is cool.

I try to tell him wargaming is 3D gaming, and something like this would certainly help!

ordinarybass Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2014 5:41 a.m. PST

Very interesting.
I saw something like this at Little Wars this year. A big ACW game IIRC, where every unit had a small flag with a unit designation code. When the players moved the units into combat the fellow running the game would use his laptop to engage those units. I didn't ask, but it appeared that the computer carried out the combat and recorded casualties/degradation of the various units.

One major difference here is that I didn't see any dice being used by the players. There were painted miniatures and beautiful terrain though.

Etranger Inactive Member12 Jan 2014 7:25 a.m. PST

That ACW game probably used the Carnage and Glory computer moderated rules. We're fans of them!

skinkmasterreturns12 Jan 2014 6:10 p.m. PST

Last Saturday a buddy and I played Kings of War. We both had the rules downloaded to our tablets,there was no paper involved with the rules at all.

Personal logo Lost Wolf Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2014 7:58 p.m. PST

Excellent. Wonder how this would work for Silent Death.

tuscaloosa13 Jan 2014 6:41 p.m. PST

As a follow-on, if you live in the northern VA area and are interested in playing a scenario this upcoming Friday, and incidentally participating in the second round of playtesting a tablet/smartphone expedited game, we'll play again on Friday Jan 17,2014, 7pm. Dennis's place is about 6 blocks from Huntington Metro, or half a mile from the Beltway. Contact Dennis at for address and to confirm.

BattleGuys Inactive Member13 Jan 2014 7:03 p.m. PST

It isi indeed the future. We are developing an IOS and Android moderated campaign system that you can use much the same way you discribe the game you played. The exception being it generates OBs to take to the table when contact between forces is made.

We should have it out for purchase by summer for $10 USD or less. We were initially just doing it for our group as a way to ill inset the double blind paper maps we had been using but the further we got in spec'ing it out the more we realized its potential for use in any game system. Does not matter if it's 40k/Warmachine or Napoleonics/ACW you can use it to run your campaign live over the internet between devices until you have a contact you would want to pull the minis out to resolve.

You r absolutely correct that this kind of gaming aid is the future

Rocketeer Inactive Member14 Jan 2014 5:52 a.m. PST

ordinarybass, Etrainger:
I play with that ACW guy (Tim) in the Chicago suburbs. The rules are his own invention "Minie Ball". He wrote the program in Visual Basic. He is currently running a website-assisted campaign (he wrote his own website coordinating the campaign) tying action in the Shendandoah valley with that of the Peninsula.

Perhaps smartphones/tablets *are* the future. I just completed, on contract, an assistant program for a space battle game.

CzarBLood Inactive Member10 Jul 2014 9:24 a.m. PST

I had this vision of you all zooming around the room dogfigting , Ipads on one side , Android on another…

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