Thursday, 31 March 2011

Talking During Games??

Surj and Fran silently move their troops

 Last Sunday, six of Posties Rejects met up at Posties place for a War of the Roses game, myself and Fran both posted a report of the game on our blogs, Link to my post., Fran's Post. It was quite an unusual game as Postie changed a long standing rule. With nearly all the games we play, we are allowed to discus tactics before and during the game. This as some of you well know helps stabilise your side, sometimes it’s very easy to make a silly mistake or forget a move you were thinking about.

But with this game unbeknown to us at the time, we were only allowed to talk before we set up, myself and Smiffy decided that he would defend the left and I would attack on the right, which was all well and good until we found out we could not talk anymore. While our opponents decided to defend against my large army and attack Smiffy’s smaller army.
The only way we could talk was if our command stands were touching, which was never going to happen, or we sent a message. We were not even told how long the message would take to get there or if it turn up at all.
Postie was quite strict, saying no talking, no nudging or no gesticulating what so ever would be acceptable, if we did and were caught, then the opponents would receive either a re-roll of any firing or melee of their choice, which could prove costly
Smiffy and I were quite happy with the rule and it only bothered me once, I had blocked the line of sight of my artillery due to my advance, so thought I'd give Smiffy a hand and fire on the troops advancing on him. But because we couldn't talk tactics he moved a unit forward blocking my line of sight, but I could still fire on the unit behind.
On the other hand our opponents had a bit more of a hard time, possibly because there was three of them, (I’d like to think it was me and Smiffy who dazzled them with tactics and great dice throwing).
Their original plan fell to pieces as their commander Surj, who was in their centre stopped the joint attack on Smiffy as he wanted to reinforce Fran’s troops who were having a rough time of it, (from me!!) on their left. But he couldn’t tell Richard of his change of plan, so Richard moved his troops up thinking Surj’s troops were going to be by his side, but they didn’t turn up, leaving poor Richard’s troops to walk into a hail of Smiffy’s arrows.
This in the end was a major mistake and helped them lose the game because Smiffy could concentrate all his firepower on Richard’s troops and quickly destroy them before they all got into contact.
At the end of game debate, Surj commented that he hoped Richard wouldn’t move forward and realise what he was going to do, Richard was gobsmacked saying, “ How the hell did I know what you were going to do”. It did make me and Smiffy laugh!!
Personally I quite enjoyed the game, it defiantly made my brain ache, you had to really watch what you were doing, as well as your teammate, and of course watching your opponent moves. I did miss the usual banter and abuse that we throw at each other during games, which was missing as we were all concentrating so much!!

So my question’s to you are,
Do you ever play a team wargame and are not allowed to talk?
Which do you prefer, the talking or non talking game?


  1. sounds fun! do you have a video of the game>?

  2. Unfortunatly not, but that's a great idea for the future!!

  3. I have instituted "no kibitzing" rules in many games where it is appropriate. I frequently do this for Japanese forces in my WWII air games set in the South Pacific as it is a simple yet effective way to show the advantages afforded by the Allies efficient radios and teamwork based tactics.

    I also will usually invoke a rule such as this for my Roman naval games, as admirials had little (if any) control over their fleets once the game has started. Communication restrictions are a feature of most Age of Sail games as well.

    I enjoy games with limited communications where it is appropriate as it gives you a glimpse into the command difficulties of the time. However, I also enjoy a nice relaxed game without such restrictions as well.

  4. I just became a follower, I just want to hear all the bantering that goes on between you and the Lurker..... :)

  5. You see Ray that's why people follow you because of me, it was a good idea as long as it's just tactics you can't talk about because you need a bit of banter at a game.

  6. we used to play big club games where the centre and flank were in different rooms and the only the general could move between the rooms. Was great fun.
    We also played team games where each game was a set battle and could be realy one sided, but if you where one side in your game your team member was the other side in the other game then both scores were added. That too was fun as you maybe had to fight a retreat and the longer you held out the better you did.
    I hope after my Dad retires next year and get his game room up and runing we will be doing these types of games again
    Peace James

  7. These type of games are good fun usually because they involve the players trying to think of ingenious ways of how to hoodwink the Umpire.

    Sounds like Postie had you lot well under control though!

  8. I love to congratulate you post!!!

    R E S P E C T BRO!!!

  9. This sounds great Ray,
    I am not sure how it would work with our group as the banter and abuse goes on throughout our games (and also by txt into the night if someone has an especially hellish day).

    The older members of our club did a Vietnam game a number of years back with walky talkies with the commander sitting in another room calling in the orders. There was a limit on what messages were sent/received on the roll of the dice. Sounded pretty interesting.

  10. I think this makes a lot of sense for a pre-20th Century wargames. From WWII onwards it wouldn't make sense (as radios were used more and more for communications) and you'd be better served using some sort of rules based 'fog of war' mechanic.

    Having said that I think you also need a group of players that know the rules well to pull this off. In a regular game (with cross talk and banter) its possible to confer with fellow players to check on rules if you're not familiar with them. I'd have been floundering within minutes if I'd been at this game!

    Another thing to consider is "why do you game?". Is it for the competition? The mental exercise of strategic thought? Or as a social activity? If it’s the latter then playing in silence seems to kill off the reason for coming to the game.

    Personally I think I prefer to sacrifice a little 'reality' for the fun and camaraderie of in-game banter.

    Great Post by the way, very thought provoking!

  11. looks fun..i wonder how long a typical game session would last for these games.

  12. We use a similar set of communication rules for Napoleonics - commanders can talk tactics either when bases are touching or a messenger arrives with a written note. For messengers we have single ride figures and the note is limited to what fits on a 3" post-it note. I remember one game where there one player had his commander constantly running away from the messenger because he "thought" the incoming message was something he didn't want to do - it was very funny and great fun.

    As someone pointed out, the limited comm rule only works when all players have a firm understanding of the rules, but I like it a lot.

  13. Hi

    I fear this system would cost me dearly in re-rolled dice and possibly black eyes after the game !! :-)

  14. i dont tak
    i use psycho stare :3

  15. Alternative solution would be that any discussion has to be carried out at a normal conversational level and thus the opposition will be privy to your plans...

  16. Sounds like a very cool idea for multiplayer games thb. And maybe adds a bit of "realism" to wargames where several allies are fighting and no one really knows what his fellow buddies are going to do unless they have telephone lines or sending couriers.

  17. A tweak to this could be to allow some sort of auto message delivery, that changes or is broken depending on the situation.

    I think a lot of cool stuff could be done with this.

  18. That's a neat concept. Maybe an alternative could be signalling, flags drum or bugle calls. Might give a hint of your teammates intentions without the table talk.

  19. This was interesting. Thanks for posting about it. Tim's buddies say stuff to each other too and I gotta say, some of it's pretty funny and at the end of nearly every game, they have what they call, the quote of the game. Good stuff.

    Good post. Happy Almost Weekend :-)

  20. Talking or silence???? You didn´t include tearing hair out, gnashing of teeth and finally crying :-D

  21. I prefer the not talking about the game before you... not least because it gives away the game to the opposition. Passing written notes is a good idea, but only if you have to use a runner on the table to deliver it to the other players commander/

    Talking generally, non-game, typically about disgusting, filthy things should still be allowed though.

    p.s This white on black layout is very uncomfortable on a plasma monitor.

  22. It was a pretty important consideration in the real deal, so it's good to experiment with it, and I wouldn't throw out the concept because it's frustrating. It's supposed to be. But it sounds better on paper than it feels to stand there and do it, for hours.

    You didn't mention anyone actually using any signal, nor messenger, at all. If it was the first time, it was unfamiliar, but why not you and Smiffy ride together and talk while the other three don't, that would really hurt them.

    Unity of command is a principle of war, and it was how Napoleon or Frederick could use one brain to beat coalitions all the time. How any tyrant can take on a democracy, or a committee.

    Even as it was, they were hurt by Surj and Richard not coordinating the change in plan by Surj. But that certainly did happen historically, all the time.

    Was there an 'out of command' penalty that you chose not to risk it, leaving the troops on their own to ride over there?

    The re-roll of their choice penalty is a neat mechanism to enforce the rule.

    It would be easier on the players if they were expecting it, and mentally prepared. They'd have been more sure to set up more signals and messengers, knowing how it's going to be.

    If the game was shorter in time, more limited in scope, the frustration would be more limited, not to ruin the whole day as far as the social aspect is concerned.

    But that all affects the scale and size of the game, and of course most guys use the biggest table, most troops from the whole collection, and as much time as they can be together as possible.

    That, combined with the enforced silence, and nobody actually using the few means allowed to talk, maximizes the frustration.

    Anyway if you're still thinking about it the following Thursday it must have had an impact.

    Good thinking post, bro. Respect and following.
    Because you said you taught TAL everything he knows.

  23. Well if the primary concern is historical accuracy, there has to be some way to be able to replicate the command-and-control of the time period. There has to be some way it was done otherwise the general was just some guy sitting on a horse with nothing to do. I think his creative and is imaginative as you guys are you should be able to come up something for that.

  24. get drunk and taunt each other. good times :D

  25. i'm pretty sure people talk in the

  26. Next you will ban ale, but then what is the point of a game with out a natter and ale. Do I detect a sheen on those figures?

    It is an interesting point.


  27. Another interesting read! Great blogger!

  28. i never played these things, but i believe beeing not allowed to talk is a little too grim.

  29. I agree - this is good for ancient games, but drums, horns etc would be good for basic comms. For modern games, obviously radios change the picture greatly.

    I recall Dionald Featherstone talks about this in several of his books and basic messenger systems. An abstracted 1 turn per 12inches or so for message delivery would be good and spice things up a bit too perhaps.

    But whatever you do though, just make sure its fun! Sounds like the additional challenge worked well for this battle, but that might not always be the case.

  30. I once played a game where you had to write down your battle plan and orders...and then that was it. Each unit could only move/fight according to it's orders

  31. I stare down my opponent until I break him, and then I let the playful banter begin... because it's just a game, right...?

  32. Thanks for all your comments chaps! except the lurker! It's about 50/50, I enjoy both types of game, but a little banter does make a better game, even if you can't talk to your team members about tactics, you can still call them a idiot and generally verbally rip him to shreads if his dice throwing let him and you down. And of course this doesn't stop you laughing your arse off when the opposition do something stupid or throw crap dice. For our little group of sad patsies, it is more about the social side, we don't meet up often enough for it to be anything else.
    Thanks again

  33. Oh indeed- banter is obligatory in almost all circumstances, and thats very different to discussing tactics :-)

  34. I think it would be interesting, but the rules should have been clear, and told before the game began.

  35. Thank you for sharing the info. I found the details very helpful.


  36. i quite like the idea, although a bit of banter is always good too.