Look, Sarge, No Charts Used for Officer Professional Development

Chris Palmer, Sam Fuson, Ed Duffy, and I staged an officer professional development event for the officers of the 114th Signal Battalion today.  There were two main purposes for the event: team building and learning some tactical lessons.  Sam is the human resources officer (S-1) for the battalion, and he organized the event.  He and Ed set up the table before Chris and I arrived.  Chris and I brought the troops, set them up, and ran the game for the group.  Afterwards I conducted an After Action Review with the officers.

OPD 1
Officers of the 114th Signal making their moves

We ran an event like this about 18 months ago for the same battalion; however, only four of the officers from that game are still in the battalion, so mostly they were novices.  We used Look, Sarge, No Charts: WWII (which Chris Palmer, Dave Wood, and I wrote) for this game.  LSNC: WWII seems to be a good set for conducting this kind of event, because the rules were easily learned and the players could focus on the tactical situation.

The scenario was based on the fighting around Lvov in 1939 Poland.  The Germans arrived at Lvov and began to surround the town.  The Germans occupied high ground near the town of Zboiska and shelled Lvov.  Among the Polish defenders was the 10th Mechanized Brigade.  When the Russians arrived a few days later and completed the encirclement of the town, the Poles surrendered.

Looking down the table toward the battalion commander in the distance
Looking down the table toward the battalion commander in the distance

In our scenario, however, we presented a hypothetical situation that required all three forces (German, Russian, and Polish) to maneuver.   There was no coordinated operation between the Russians and the Germans in reality, but we wanted to create a scenario that provided some interesting tactical challenges.

The table was shaped like a “T” with the Russians and Germans pushing across the top of the “T” to seize the town of Zboiska in the center.  In the meantime, the Poles counterattacked down the vertical part of the “T” to seize the high ground and destroy the artillery batteries shelling Lvov.

The heat of battle
The heat of battle

The officers, ranging from second lieutenants to majors, quickly grasped the rules.  Very few of them  had ever played war games before this event.  After just a few turns, they were running the game themselves with Chris, Ed, Sam, and me just answering the occasional question.

Germans preparing to assault a small stream defended by Poles
Germans preparing to assault a small stream defended by Poles

This is the fourth time we’ve run this scenario, which was originally designed for Cold Wars 2011 next month.  Each time it has played very differently, but the outcome has been in doubt until the end.  We conducted an After Action Review after the game and discussed a number of tactical lessons.

In one case a Russian infantry battalion was completely wiped out by two defending Polish battalions.  That Russian battalion was supposed to create a penetration through which the Russian tanks were supposed to push.  The officers quickly adjusted their plan and pushed the tanks through another penetration.  We’ve noticed that often gamers will focus on killing enemy troops instead of the mission.  The Russian objective was the town of Zoiska.  Interestingly, the Russian commander made the decision NOT to race for the town, since he would arrive without infantry support.  Instead he pushed left and right from the penetration.  It was exactly the right tactical decision in this case.  On the other flank, the Germans, however, tried to root the Poles out of some woodlines, which they could have easily bypassed with their panzergrenadiers and tanks.  The Polish commander, instead of a frontal assault on the Germans defending the artillery on the high ground, used one battalion to fix the Germans while pushing another around the flank.  It was the only time we’ve played this game when the Poles managed to take the high ground.

Buck interacting with some of the officers
Buck interacting with some of the officers

It was interesting to see how a group of Army officers approach the game.  During the AAR, they seemed to have learned a few tactical lessons and have had a good time.

Making Fake Pulp Weapons

For an upcoming GASLIGHT photo shoot, Chris and I have been bashing together toys and odd bits to create fake Pulp weapons.  I’m working on two, a six-barrelled gun and a six-barrelled pistol.  Hmmm.  I didn’t realize I had a theme going until I typed that last sentence.

Early stages of six-barrelled rifle
Early stages of six-barrelled rifle

This shows the early stages of the six-barrelled rifle.  The basic building block consisted of seven pieces of PVC pipe and a PVC connector.

Sam with six-barrelled rifle
Sam with six-barrelled rifle

At this point, the rifle has been assembled and decorated with gears, etc.  You can’t see much of that, but I wanted to show this picture for scale.  The round portion on the top will be fitted with a slide carousel as a Lewis-like ammunition magazine.  I’ll be dry brushing the weapon with silver paint and then painting the decorations in other colors so they stand out.  I’ll also be adding a cardboard “stock.”

Early staged of six-barrelled pistol
Early staged of six-barrelled pistol

The six-barrelled pistol began as a Nerf pistol.  I took this one from my son, but I replaced it with a new one.  With some gears and other bits from the craft store, I’ve been decorating the gun.

Sam with six-barrelled pistol
Sam with six-barrelled pistol

Here’s another shot for scale.  Again you can’t see too many of the decorations.  At this point, I have sprayed it black, so that it’s ready for dry brushing and other detail paining.

Some details on the six-barrelled pistol
Some details on the six-barrelled pistol

While the lighting in this picture is poor, you can see some of the details I’ve added.  Look closely.

Zombies by GASLIGHT

Last night the HAWKs tested out the rules we are working to play zombie games with GASLIGHT.  We intend to include these in The Compendium.

Zombies!
Zombies!

This is a picture of one of the games we played that Chris took with his iPhone.  At this point, Duncan’s corporate babes with guns were surrounded by zombies, but he managed to get most of his folks off the table.  One of them, however, was infected in the process and later turned into a zombie herself.

In the game, whenever you make noise, the place the noise was made is marked with a “noise marker.”  We used green, glass beads.  When the zombie card comes up, you roll to see how many zombies are attracted to the spot.  We typically put them about 12″ from the spot.  Zombies tend to pop up out of heaps of trash, old rags, closets, etc.

The rules worked well.  The consensus was that the zombies were a bit too hard to kill, so we’ll probably make their Save number a little worse, but otherwise, what we did seemed to work pretty well.  Everyone had a good time.

The G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. Compendium is Getting Closer

The next (and probably last) GASLIGHT book will be The GASLIGHT Compendium.  The Compendium combines the original GASLIGHT book, Battles by GASLIGHT, To Be Continued… by GASLIGHT, and Adventures and Expeditions by GASLIGHT into a single volume.  In addition there are new rules for Aeroneuf-style fleet actions, personal zeppelins, etc.  Finally, the book will include a few new scenarios.

Chris and Buck shooting new photos for The GASLIGHT Compendium.
Chris and Buck shooting new photos for The GASLIGHT Compendium.

This weekend we spent all day Saturday shooting new illustrations for the book.  Most of the text has been done since before Christmas.  When adding art to books, I find that it’s best to start at the beginning and work toward the back of the book.  If you start anywhere else, adding art earlier in the book causes all the layout and pagination work after it to get screwed up.  You end up laying out  pages multiple times.  This weekend we got to page 65 of a book we think will be about 150 pages long.

The book will have some of the old clip art and photos that players will find familiar, but it will have many new illustrations.  There are only one or two pages that don’t have a chart, figure, or illustration.  As we are looking at printing this with color throughout the book, we think the final, archival, comprehensive GASLIGHT book will be very attractive.

Martians attacking our heroes...
Martians attacking our heroes...

Above is an example of one of the new illustrations.

Our goal is to have the book read for printing by the end of March so that the book will be read for sale by Historicon in July.  Stay tuned.

Zombies!

Well, I didn’t get much sleep this weekend, but I did manage to finish painting my first pack of zombies for our club project.  They are actually fun to paint.

The zombies are coming!
The zombies are coming!

These were multi-part, hard-plastic figures from Wargames Factory.  I also mixed in a few torsos and legs from some ancient Germans to beef up the “unit” a bit.  My only complaint with the figures is that they come with the left arm molded to the torso.  This means you have to cut off the arm if you want a pose other than the left arm hanging to the side.

Closeup of some of the zombies.
Closeup of some of the zombies.

Here is a closeup of three of them.  I took an extra arm from one of the sprues and gave it to the zombie on the right for both a club-like weapon and a mid-afternoon snack.

Three more zombies.
Three more zombies.

This group features a flowered shirt.  On the figure in the middle, I cut off the arm holding the foot, which was hanging at the zombie’s side, and re-glued it up in the air.