Monthly Archives: April 2014

Combat – basic logistics

Time to move on from command and control in my thinking aloud series, to tackle a different set of problems for V3 of the system. Now I want to get to the basics of representation of the men on the table, and the implications of this for combat mechanisms.

V2 of DTN was based on the Grande Armée system of strength points which combined actual strength with effectiveness. This was creating increasing stress as I took the simulation side more seriously. I want to make the representation a bit less abstracted, and allow more subtleties to the combat mechanism, and a more straightforward narrative. So I want strength points to be based on actual numbers of men, as with Volley & Bayonet. As V+B I think 500 men per SP would work for infantry. This is quite high – but with one-hour turns these rules need to be quite crunchy. A unit will be in the range of 4-8 SPs. My cavalry units are going to be much smaller, regimental size, as I think that is typically how cavalry was used at this level. That means I need a smaller number, say 200 men per SP, which means 2-3 per unit typically.

According to my Prussian kriegsspiel rules the 400p base frontage would be covered by about 1,400 men – 3SP. The maximum frontage, double this, means about 6SP. So the unit tends to cover the base frontage in a double line, or extended frontage in a single line. A single line has less chance of being overlapped, but is fragile – one hole in the line and it is gone. A double line is more resilient, and can also handle flank threats. Which type of formation the unit is in will have to be inferred from context. I’ll deal with that later.

First there is a bigger issue. How to represent loss of effectiveness due to casualties, fatigue/clogging of weapons and loss of cohesion? These factors are long-term and short-term. Previously this was represented by loss of SPs, some of which might be recovered; one hit meant that one SP was lost. This is how both GA and V+B work. In other words loss of cohesion was treated as the same as loss of men. Very often, though, the men would still be in formation, occupying the same frontage. The number of men is critical to stamina.

The alternative is to reflect loss of effectiveness purely through a qualitative factor, usually referred to as cohesion or disruption, depending on which way up you are looking at it. I’ve seen this idea referred to on TMP, and it is the way Sam Mustafa’s Lasalle works – and Paddy Griffith in his Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun of 1980. If I use a morale grade, then a “hit” means a loss of one grade.

Of course a hit could mean both a loss of an SP and loss of a morale grade. Let’s think this through.

Morale grade will determine fragility in impact combat. The lower the grade, the more chance of a refusal (for an attacker) or fracture (for the defender). Strength determines what a unit can achieve tactically – the frontage it can cover and the reserves it can call on.

I am very tempted by the cohesion loss idea. Units did tend to cover their frontage more thinly with the loss of men, rather than shrink; and the more important loss effects were qualitative.  But then what’s the point of SPs when the bases are on a standardised frontage?

Let’s think of an infantry unit (cavalry and artillery are going to work in very different ways, so I’ll leave them until later). It takes 3SP to cover its front. Smaller units are compromised. SPs beyond this are reserves, which be used to extend the line, or be available to plug gaps, or deal with threats to the flank or rear. The problem is that designing a combat mechanism that reflects this in detail gets out of hand. Players have to do too much mental work to figure out what is going on – so say nothing of a detailed knowledge of the rules.

If hits represent a qualitative loss, then it is difficult to avoid units being of a standard size. In that case they do not accurately represent historical units, and a dimension of the simulation process is lost. .

A hit might just “delete” an SP, so that a unit Is withdrawn from play once it receives as many hits as it has SPs. The question then is whether hits should affect the morale level too? Is it double jeopardy? Wouldn’t a larger units be at a disadvantage to smaller ones? (The same number of hits would do less damage to the same number of SPs if he units were smaller in size). The idea of separate hits for morale and strength will fail the complexity test – I found this from an earlier rules incarnation where I experimented with temporary and permanent hits. Some form of percentage casualties system is an alternative (e.g. a unit is “tired” if 25% or more of its SPs are lost, and morale reduces by one level). This looks a bit more promising – Fire & Fury (ACW rules with a Napoleonic development under the name Age of Eagles) uses this arrangement.

That then leaves the tactical options for units of different strengths . 3SP needs to be the minimum unit size (unless we create a special sort of small unit, on a smaller base). But a unit of this size has little resilience. One idea is to grade units as small (3SP), medium (4,5 SP) and large (6SP or more). Two units would be allowed to pool by being in base contact (forward to back), so two small units would then fight as a single large one.

There are three situations where this matters: standard combat (one unit against another on the same frontage); overlapping; and flank or rear attacks. How these situations are defined and handled is a subject for another time.

Wagram 1809

I have just finished reading Eric Gill’s account of the battle of Wagram in the third volume of his Thunder on the Danube series. I want to use this post to reflect a bit on some of the implications of this battle for those interested in simulation.

Ever since I first read about Wagram as a teenager in David Chandler’s Campaigns of Napoleon, I have been deeply fascinated by it. It has massive scope, the second biggest battle of the era, and with more coherent narrative than the Leipzig, the biggest.  It resembles Borodino in some ways, but is less linear. And it shows the Austrian army in a good light – an army that is a bit of an underdog in its treatment by historians in the centuries since, lacking a major national champion. They lost, but with honour intact – no worse than what the Russians achieved at Borodino – though in a strategic context that meant an honourable defeat was not good enough, unlike the Russian battle.

Also this is a battle taking place on a nearly featureless plain – closer than most real battles to the sort of thing we try on a tabletop. It begs to be refought as a simulation – though it is just too big. One day I might give it a try! May be I can develop a doubled up version of DTN to bring it within the range of feasibility. Episodes from the battle could be used as a testbed for rules – though since the various sub-battles tend to blend into each other, this would be a challenge.

Mr Gill has made good use of sources on both sides, and is on the whole pretty objective. He is a little too judgemental for may taste – but then almost all historians of Napoleonic military history are. I prefer my history to be about what happened and why, to quote AJP Taylor. Mr Gill has lots of bad things to say about Charles and the Austrian decisions when compared to Napoleon and the French. This is not unjustified – but I find this type of writing a bit of a bore. I would like to understand why they reached the decisions they did. And there is always a slight suspicion that the Austrians are being judged to a higher benchmark that the French.

More seriously, I could have done with the account providing a bit more detail; it could have added 50% in length easily. This contrasts with the excellent detail the author provides in some of the smaller engagements of the campaign. As a result I find a number of things puzzling. Why did the Saxon infantry collapse on the second day? They don’t seem to have been directly attacked. There is also a lack of detail over the encounter between Oudinot’s corps and Hohenzollern’s – even though the former suffered very high percentage casualties. Gill vaguely alludes to artillery being responsible in both cases – but this does not seem to be based on solid analysis. A third mystery is that in Massena’s march from the centre to the flank, he reports them coming under heavy artillery fire. But they were covered by the famous Grand Battery – which surely would have drawn the fire, and masked the movement?

Unfortunately I don’t think any of the other books I have that cover the battle will do much to illuminate these issues. For a simulator it is this habit of historians to drop into airy explanations that is particularly frustrating. We want to look at the data! One reason to try to simulate episodes from the battle.

Three issues from this battle struck me particularly: command and control; panic; and weapon ranges. I have already reflected a bit on command and control in my thinking aloud piece on my new rules. The difference between the two sides seems mainly to be a the corps level. The Austrians had only recently introduced a corps system, and they seem to have had very limited planning capability, relying on detailed plans drawn up by army HQ; it says something for the strength of the Austrian army HQ that they were able to produce these detailed plans as quickly as they did. But Napoleon found it much easier to watch and wait – and then give his corps instructions at a high level. This difference explains a lot about how the battle unfolded. As the second day got going Charles was chasing around adjusting the plan to take care of events – while Napoleon was able to calmly direct things from a distance. This difference is certainly worth trying to replicate in a simulation.

It is interesting, though, that when Napoleon made a spur of the moment decision to attack the (concealed) Austrians on the first evening, that the hastiness of it all meant that the French attacks were conducted inefficiently, especially by corps commanders less able or less trusted than Davout (who only made a gentle probe – perhaps all Napoleon intended). The corps needed to be given time to digest orders in order to deliver them efficiently.

As for panic, this poses a particularly interesting problem for simulation. Mr Gill’s account points to two particular occasions when substantial elements of the Austrian army started to panic and flee, having to be rallied by the senior officers, up to Charles himself. The first was on the evening of the first day when the Army of Italy  caught the Austrians off guard. The second was early on the second day (featuring many of the same troops, perhaps significantly) when the French retook Aderklaa and launched an attack beyond. The problem isn’t explaining these events – it’s understanding why these are the only two. As the battle developed, the Austrians suffered many further reverses, from one end of the line to the other. But they held firm. Disorder might appear, but as the French cavalry arrived to take advantage, the Austrians recovered composure and beat them off. In the general withdrawal the Austrians did lose a few battalions crushed by cavalry attacks, but their overall composure is quite striking. What made troops panic on a few occasions, and but not on many others?

There were panics on the French side too. Both the attacking forces in the two Austrian panics suffered the same fate, as the Austrians successfully rallied and counterattacked.  It is worth adding that on both occasions the French pulled themselves together and play a key role later in the battle. The Saxon infantry gave way on both days; the second time, it would appear, based just on an artillery bombardment. These panics don’t cause the same difficulty. They resulted from attacks that got out of hand and became vulnerable. The Saxon collapse on the second day is more of a problem – since ordinarily it takes a flash of cold steel to cause a disorderly retreat – though these men had suffered very badly the previous day. These incidents will repay study when assessing the way combats and higher level morale work.

The issue on artillery and musket ranges is based on a general impression rather than detailed  evidence. The quotes Mr Gill uses (especially from French witnesses) stress a lot about the strength of artillery and fire and bullets that the men endured – borne out, of course, by the high casualty figures. A striking figure is that the French artillery fired something close to 100,000 rounds – about 200 per piece present. That sounds a lot, but Austrian losses were about 38,000. Most of them would have been as the result of artillery fire. So the hit ratio for artillery was at least 25%; the Austrian rate would have been very similar. Each artillery piece cause 50+ casualties. That strikes me as being quite high given the generally primitive technology. Both sides reported instances of the opposing artillery firing too high at even close ranges.

Now one of the issues with creating simulations is that the quoted effective ranges are quite short: 100-200m for muskets, 500-1,000m for artillery. It is often stated that it was waste of time engaging targets at greater ranges than these. In terms of my wargames rules these maximum ranges are about 1 inch for infantry weapons and 3-7 inches for artillery. Not far at all; most units, most of the time are out of range.  Now while there were some close encounters at Wagram, particularly in the key villages, my impression is that a lot of the combat took place at longer ranges. Something doesn’t seem to be adding up; the usually quoted effective ranges seem to be too short.

One potential resolution to this puzzle is the idea that projectiles were still lethal at well beyond the effective aimed range, especially artillery – but also musketry which was often aimed too high by inexperienced troops (veterans advised to aim for the feet). Perhaps in the flat and open terrain of the Marchfeld a lot of the casualties were caused by projectiles that had missed their primary target. Though we read of lucky artillery shots that might kill a dozen in a single blow, we don’t read of entire infantry units collapsing under fire – even in front of the French Grand battery. This all speaks of a generally high and widespread attrition,n rather than artillery units crushing anything in their path. However, being caught in an “en potence” position with fire from two directions, as happened to Rosenberg’s and Oudinot’s corps and the Saxons, seems to have been particularly lethal. Since simulations tend to focus on direct hits and ignore the effects of indirect fire, this is interesting. But then again, the slow casualty rate from indirect fire was not as disruptive to morale as sudden impact.

Plenty to reflect on from this epic battle.



Formation and coordination

In my previous post in this series of thinking aloud pieces on simulating command and control, I was stumbling towards a turn structure that might work with one-hour periods. Next phase in the design process is to take a step back and come at the problem from another angle. What does command and control mean for the various sub-units of the army: unit, division and corps?

An infantry unit in DTN represents a group of two to four battalions, which might be a brigade or regiment, or an ad-hoc combination. It sits on a base 50mm by 25mm, which directly covers a frontage of about 400p (p=pace=0.75m), potentially double that, and with the possibility of skirmishers probing out in front. This covers a whole variety of configurations and formations. Users of DTN have to get beyond the idea that they decide whether to array their men in column, line and so on. That is left to junior commanders and arises from context. Judging from the TMP forum, the whole battalion formation thing is so much part of the Napoleonic atmosphere to some wargamers, that this is too much, and they don’t attempt to play this sort of grand tactical game. But to get a bigger battle into a two player game (never mind the physical space of a dining table) you have to get through this.

But in DTN V2 I developed unit “modes” which say something about what the unit commander is trying to achieve, and which have implications for movement and combat. These are:

  • Reserve/attack. The default has the units in battle line but ready to move off and deploy to attack. Think of one or two lines of battalions in attack or manoeuvre columns. Since movement is an important part of their role, they do not make any particular use of the terrain.
  • Defend. This is not dissimilar, but the unit is not deployed to move, but to hold its ground. They may well be already deployed into line formation, and they will certainly make use of any terrain features they can.
  • Movement. In this case the units are formed to advance rapidly. They will not usually be in march columns, but they may be in a narrower column than the default. The battalions are likely to be arrayed one behind the other, so that one picks the quickest way through the terrain, and the others follow without worrying about alignment. This makes them vulnerable in combat.

I think this still works. I think the first two modes should be represented with the base front-on, and the movement mode with the base sideways-on in a sort of column. My bases are made of two stands of 25mm square on a sabot – so these can be arrayed in “line” or “column”, amking this visually easier. A further mode might be “square” – rather exposed and immobile, but able to fend off cavalry attacks. I’m not sure about this. A further issue is whether the units are deployed wide or deep – but I think this can be inferred from context – strength and distance from neighbours.

How movement and switching mode works in the one-hour period is yet to be resolved, but I can leave that for now. How about the division? A division is a group of units (two or three infantry units typically with some artillery or cavalry support perhaps), with an officer figure (DG = Divisional General) in command. In V2 this unit would be given a general purpose “Action” order, or “Move” or “Regroup”. These might or might not be fully activated, and it is quite likely that there would be no order, which restricted them to a limited menu of “free” moves. Moving to a one-hour turn this might give too much friction. So what might command and control situations be?

  • Fully controlled, with all unit commanders having orders and knowing what they are supposed to be doing. this takes time to prepare and no doubt authority from a higher level. But in this state the division can deliver a fully coordinated attack or other manoeuvre. The more complex the plan, the more difficult.
  • Quick action. Single move actions. The DG can direct one of these; others might act on initiative, but with quite low probability.
  • Response only. A limited menu of reaction moves.

If I move to an interchangeable initiative move, this would work more easily than one player moving all his units followed by the other. I hesitate as this might throw away all the time gains from the one-hour turn route! The fully controlled mode corresponds to a fully activated order in DTN. The critical insight is that it needs a certain amount of time to set up, as well as linking in to the army command system.

One further idea is to allow two (or more) units to be placed in base to base combat to signify close cooperation; this might include artillery; infantry cooperating with cavalry in this way may not work so well, though is worth a thought.

So let’s move on to corps. In V2 the corps commander acted as a postbox for the overall commander – who passed on CPs for him to distribute as orders to the divisions, which moved independently. Fully coordinated corps actions, with divisions attacking simultaneously, did happen though. Think of Soult’s counterattack at Austerlitz, or d’Erlon’s main attack at Waterloo. If I do interchanging initiative, this matters! Obviously such levels of coordination took time to prepare.

Another aspect is the strength of corps staff. At Wagram it appears that the Austrian corps staff did not add much value to plans drawn up by army command. Napoleon routinely delegated this level of planning. At Waterloo (and Salamanca) Wellington did not use the corps system at all – but at Vitoria it appears that he did entrust quite a bit of the detail to Hill and Graham – though his own staff was quite weak. The extent to which other nations ever developed the depth of corps level command that the French did I don’t know. The Prussians did in theory, but may have been hindered by lack of officers. The Russians were notoriously weak. Did the Austrians fare better in 1813 than in 1809? But Marmont in 1812 in Spain decided that the corps system was too cumbersome, and abolished it, operating much like Wellington. Personally I rate Marmont in this campaign highly – he outfoxed Wellington until he became overconfident and made that fatal mistake outside Salamanca. So corps level command does not always add value.

There’s something very important lurking in here. I tried using corps commanders as a sort of mini Commander in an early incarnation of V2, with their own CPs, but it overloaded the system, however theoretically correct. I think solutions to this conundrum will only emerge as I get into the detail of the orders system.


Command & control in one-hour turns

The Dining Table Napoleon V3 (the changes are going to be more drastic than implied by V2.1 as I originally intended) will have a one-hour turn. I am thinking through the implications for a command control and movement system.

First each turn will comprise a distinct episode of the battle, rather than a precise time period. They will be named after hours of the day (which helps the simulation feel), but that is only to give a rough idea of when events happen. action will tend not to spill over from one turn to the next.

An hour is a long time, though. Six turns might encompass quite an important battle like Ligny. That creates some interesting design issues.

Fist thought: the side with a plan – or clear intent to move – at the start of the period move first and moves farthest. Perhaps through the use of stylised orders commands (up to corps level, perhaps) can have the following status:

  1. Active: movement. Changing location, usually in some kind of march formation.
  2. Active: bombardment. Deploy artillery and fire for a prolonged period.
  3. Active: engaged. Attacking enemy units.
  4. Passive: defensive. Deployed for defensive action, and resisting attack.
  5. Passive: reserve. Awaiting events.

To be active implies either a plan compiled in the previous period, or direct order from the commander at the start of the turn – or a lower commander on his own initiative. The former means some kind of stylised order carried over. The engaged order implies that the enemy is close at hand – within some kind of threat distance. That means close enough for an attack to be delivered without giving the enemy.

First issue. When and how are plan orders issued? Normally this would be done at the start of the turn in a Command phase – and then made subject to activation. Beyond using a stock of CPs that might have been accumulated in earlier turns, this does not reflect the time lags. Maybe a new orders phase happens at some point in the turn before? But how to do that without making it much more complicated?

Second issue. How are pre-issued orders given a shelf-life? Perhaps groups are given a stock of order chits, which they consume?

Be that as it may the period (as I should call the turn, in DTN speak – turns mean something different) starts with the execution of items one and two. Active movement is carried out, and batteries deployed and (perhaps) targets nominated. These might be done simultaneously. Units in march order get quite a long way in an hour, so some quite big distances could be covered. Couldn’t the enemy intervene? what happens when units from opposite sides bump into each other. An obvious rider is that this type of movement stops as threat distance is reached. If it is stopped early in the movement phase, then further activity should be allowed. Perhaps the concept of single and double moves can be revived from earlier versions of DTN.

Then come the attacks from category three units. If two opposing units bump into each other then it probably best to ask which come first. This could be done case by case, or one side could be said to have the initiative and move first. On the whole I prefer the latter. For impetus attacks (i.e. not skirmish firefights) we then do one round of combat.

We then need to move into a sort of reaction phase. This involves shorter moves. it may be that the main command phase happens here. Reaction orders are issued, as well as orders to be executed in the next phase. What happens next is a series of actions that might originate from conventional command and control, or might be initiative reactions. There is another round of impact combat. And maybe some kind of breakthrough or pursuit phase.

Finally we get into the attrition phase, where more protracted combats are resoled. This includes artillery (if targets haven’t moved), skirmish combats. There is scope for prolonged close combats too, where two high stamina combatants are deadlocked in impact combats, both infantry (think Albuera) and cavalry (I believe Friedland and Borodino featured these).

Finally there needs to be some kind of morale phase.

This is building up to a complex period structure with simultaneous and interchangeable initiative elements. This has strayed somewhat from my earlier idea of one side having a clear initiative, and losing it being potentially damaging to morale. That idea might come back, though.

A further question when using a complex turn structure is whether to stick to strict phases across the table, or follow something more event driven. For example a unit delivers a charge in the first phase, and we get round one of the combat. But across the whole period this might develop into a multiphase affair, including reserves being brought in, counterattacks, breakthroughs and pursuits. There is something to be said for dealing with all this there and then, drawing in other units as required, and (taking them out of any subsequent reaction movement).  I find this approach quite attractive.

What of command points (CPs). These played a central role to V2. But the idea of carrying them over from one period to the next loses its relevance to the longer period. Still I like the idea that these represent information, which is the basis on which orders can be made (could change them to Information points to make this explicit – though CPs are a widely recognised idea). A high stock of CPs means more orders can be issued. If the commander occupied a vantage point (or has access to one) then he gets more information. As the battle develops there might be both metaphorical and literal fog of war constraining what he can do. Information decays though. More food for thought.

Next I want to think about what orders might mean at each level of command.

Planning and simulation

So far in my thinking aloud pieces on command and control the main idea to emerge is the importance of planning in battles. Other ideas are some thoughts on how sub commanders influence the battle, the idea of chaotic episodes versus inertia, and initiative and army morale. Without disregarding these latter thoughts, I want to develop the idea of planning and think about methods it might be simulated.

What is a plan? It is a series of orders which set out how formations are to be deployed and move, and when and where to deliver attacks on the enemy. An active plan implies movement. A passive plan is defensive. A further passive stance is the holding of forces in reserve – which might better be described as “no plan”. It gets a bit more complicated if a plan has both active and passive elements – like Napoleon’s at Austerlitz, where he delayed his attack.

A plan allows different elements to be coordinated, and for more remote elements to move. It may work at all four levels in the game structure: unit (brigade/regiment), division, corps and army. as you progress up the hierarchy, complexity increases and they take longer to prepare and implement. It requires information (on the position of your own units, on the enemy’s and on geography), and time to put together and communicate. Active plans expire as they are executed or as the enemy or unforeseen events interfere with them. A defensive plan expires if an enemy attack displaces the formation.

One further point may be added. The technology of time was still very basic in this era; synchronisation would not have been a precise affair. I haven’t looked at any actual plans – but I don’t think they contained much in the way of detailed timings, as modern plans do. (I have a memory that Austrian staff general Weyrother had a tendency to put extreme detail onf time and movement in his plans – but these seemed not to have meant much in practice).

Now to simulation. The most obvious way to simulate, at least at the army level, is for players to draw up some kind of plan themselves and issue orders. This was quite popular in early wargames systems, and still survives in some, but it has generally fallen out of fashion. It is quite time-consuming and the results are often rather unsatisfactory, especially without the use of an umpire to intermediate. Since my basic idea is for a two player game, this can’t be designed into the system. Instead we usually have some form of alternate move system, subject to constraints. Volley & Bayonet, the nearest published rules system to what I am trying to do, has a fixed alternate move system where players are free to move their units, subject only to a control radius for the senior officers. The plan is purely in players’ heads; the attacker moves first. Since the attacker is the side with an active plan, this simulates the effect of such a plan on the way forces move.

In V2 of DTN the alternate move system is maintained except for an attrition phase where artillery bombardment and skirmish firefights are resolved. But who moves first varies with the number of Command Points (CPs) that each side holds. CPs were meant to simulate a combination of planning and information – and they were used to drive forward active orders. A problem with this in the Vitoria game is that any advantage the attacking side has can be short-lived, as the passive side rapidly accumulates points and tends to move first. Moving first is not necessarily an advantage, of course. Many gamers prefer to react to the other player. One feature of this variable initiative is the “flip-flop”, which happens when initiative changes hands. In this case the flip-flopper moves twice before the other side can respond – an unequivocal advantage, which adds spice to proceedings. This might be said to simulate the shock an unexpected turn of events.

Two further innovations are worth bearing in mind – which I first came across in Geoffrey Wootten’s Corps d’Armée rules in the late 1980s.  These are stylised orders and interchanging initiative. Stylised orders mean giving each command a simple order chit such as “Assault”, “Break-off”, etc. which then give players a more limited menu of options. The ability to move from one order type to another is constrained. I brought an element of this into DTN V2, and it is used in the 1870 system – though in both cases the menu was very limited. With interchangeable initiative, the initiative passes between the players in the same movement period, as they move different units or unit groups. Gå På uses a version of this system. This brings coordination issues to the fore, and makes the who moves first issue less winner takes all, as well not confusing unrelated events in different parts of the battlefield. The DTN V2 movement structure has the possibility of such a system within it – I didn’t use it because I thought it would add complexity and take time – a judgement I still think is quite sound!

Taking a step back, I think the most surprising thing about these various alternate move and written order-free systems is not that they have problems, but that they work as well as they do.  My Vitoria game, for example, gave quite an acceptable flow of events without the British player committing a plan in advance. The worry is that a player will be able to change plans mid game will relative ease. But the plan tends to flow from where the units are positioned, and it is quite hard to “un-commit” a unit. There is possibility for abuse – but it can be contained.

One further approach needs to be mentioned before I move into solution mode. Card driven systems are quite popular, as in the Picquet system or Sam Mustafa’s Maurice. Cards are used, amongst other things to mix up moving and firing sequences, creating fog and uncertainty for the players. While I don’t rule out the use of event cards or some such to mix things up a bit I don’t like them in simulation games. The mechanism and the cards become the game. In Maurice, players are looking at their hand of cards more than their forces on the table. And events on the table stray far from historical narrative – even if it is possible to construct a plausible historical narrative after the event. They do help recreate the uncertainties of war, so that events such as ambushes can form part of the action, but it strays from what I am trying to achieve. They have a more plausible role in resolving battles in campaign simulations, where the battles are completely counterfactual, and it is more important to recreate the fog of war.

That looks like a bit of a natural break. Next post: ideas for DTN2.