What is Virtual COW?

Virtual COW (VCOW) has been set up so that Wargame Developments can run its annual conference - the Conference of Wargamers or COW - during the current COVID-19 pandemic. It will consist of a programme of talks, lectures, online discussions, and even some games, and will take place over the traditional COW weekend.

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Book now for Virtual COW 2021!


Virtual Conference Of Wargamers – February 2021

What is it?
When is it?
Where is it?
What will it cost me?
                                   
VCOW 2020 comfortably exceed the expectations we had for the event when our traditional Conference Of Wargamers was cancelled. That the well-educated Anarchist collective that is WD managed to pull off a weekend of innovative and entertaining gaming and discussion is a testament both to the underlying strength of the organisation and to the hard work and dedication to the cause of the membership.

VCOW featured participants from four continents and welcomed many new and returning members, many of whom had in the past been unable to share in the COW experience. The post-VCOW participant’s survey revealed overwhelming support for the event and a desire to repeat the experience.

Given that the global pandemic shows every sign of being with us into next year; that VCOW widened participation and encouraged many new members to join us; and that the event was such a success, the virtual committee has decided to host a similar VCOW event over the weekend of 5-7 February 2021.

VCOW 2021 is not a replacement for COW. We are planning to hold COW as normal in July 2021. If circumstances make this impossible, we will look into running a second virtual event in the summer of 2021, however this is a backup plan only.

We look forward to seeing you all.   

Details of sessions available will be posted on the VCOW blog and this will be updated as more information becomes available.

Attendance at VCOW is open to the following:

Members of Wargame Developments

Guests invited by WD members

The cost to attend is a mere £5 – the Paypal link can be found on the VCOW blog.

Numbers will be limited so book now to avoid disappointment!

Saturday, 8 August 2020

One attendees’s review of VCOW

Recently, Geordie an Exiled FoG, who writes the blog entitled Geordie’s Big Battles, wrote a personal review of VCOW. It is well worth reading and can be read here.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

VCOW Zoom Links

I have just sent out the Zoom links for VCOW to all those of you who are registered as attendees.

The document contains hotlinks and should be treated with care. Please DO NOT share these links with anyone as VCOW Zoom sessions are restricted.

If you have any queries, please contact Bob Cordery or Tim Gow and they will try to answer them.

Please remember, you have to have registered to take part in VCOW to receive this list!

Saturday, 27 June 2020

URGENT - BOOKING FOR GAME SESSIONS


SESSION BOOKING DEADLINE APPROACHING!


BOOKING FOR SESSIONS
Sessions fall into two categories – those with no limit on numbers and smaller, numbers-limited games sessions.  On the timetable (SEE PREVIOUS POST BELOW) these are colour coded in green and yellow respectively.

For the first, Zoom links will be sent to attendees a few days before VCOW. 

If you’d like to attend any of the smaller sessions, please send an email as per the instructions on page 2 of the VCOW Programme NO LATER THAN 1200 ON 3 JULY!

For oversubscribed sessions, players will be selected randomly, though we’ll make an effort to ensure that those who want to are able to attend at least one such session. 

If you secure a place in a game session, the presenter will contact you by email in the week before VCOW.  The presenter may expect a reply to their email – so remember to check your inbox!

If sessions are oversubscribed you may be offered a reserve place or the chance to ‘sit in’ as an observer.

And if you haven't yet received a Programme & Timetable - 
YOU NEED TO BOOK!

Sunday, 21 June 2020

VCOW Timetable



The VCOW 2020 Programme and Timetable should be sent to attendees by email this week.  Here, in case you can't wait, is the latter.
Friday
1500-1600
Virtual battlefield tour – Landsdowne 1643 [JC]
1920-1930
Welcome and opening remarks [TG]
Note that the welcome and the two plenary lectures will run as a single Zoom session
1930-1955
Wargames: What and Why (Plenary Lecture 1) [PP]
1955-2020
Professional and Hobby Wargaming (Plenary Lecture 2) [MH]
2030-2230
The Day Of The Jackal [RK]
The Great Mutiny 1857 [JC]
Hadley’s Hope [TP]
Saturday
0900-1030
Give Me Back My Legions! [JB]
Remote Wargames [DB]
1100-1230
ECW Virtual TEWT [JC]
Carrier Strike [MY]
1400-1600
One Hour WW2 [MR]
The Convoy – Gridded Age Of Sail [JA]
Remote Kriegsspiel [TP]
1630-1710
Wargaming & History [GS]
1720-1800
Defence & Recreational Wargames [GLB]
1930-2130
Unfortunate Differences [EM PP JC]
2140-2230
VCOW2020 Singalong [JR]
Sunday
0930-1010
WD40 [BC]
1020-1120
Storming a Medieval Castle [JC]
On His Most Catholic Majesty’s Service [DB]
1130-1230
Adventures in Lockdown [ME]
1240-1320
The Wargame Developments Virtual AGM [TG & BC]



Saturday, 13 June 2020

Session List latest

Last edited 20 June by Tim Gow


Presenter(s)
TITLE OF SESSION
running time                            number of players
platform
description

The Session List

Peter Perla
WARGAMES: WHAT AND WHY
25 minutes                                                                                                       any
Zoom
Plenary lecture

Mark Herman
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PROFESSIONAL AND HOBBY WARGAMING
25 minutes                                                                                                       any
Zoom
Plenary lecture

Russell King
THE DAY OF THE JACKAL
90 minutes                                                                                           6-8 players
Zoom
DeGaulle needs shooting for dishonouring our war dead and giving Algeria back to the terrorists.  This game carries out the original plan to whack DeGaulle in his car on his way to the Elysees Palace.  If you fail, you're facing the firing squad, and Edward Fox gets all the money.  Features Auntie Yvonne, Paris Match, some bonkers driving and - I shall say this only once - the over-violent, gun-toting French Police.

Ed McGrady, Peter Perla, John Curry
UNFORTUNATE DIFFERENCES
2 hours
Zoom
The game will introduce players to the active edge of professional wargaming led by two of the top professional wargamers in the world.  Participants will need to have MS Powerpoint.
This is a simple, quick, force on modern force game in the area around the Senkaku’s.  It sets up a knife fight between Japan, China, and the US, one that is inevitably going to get messy.  The players represent the Japanese JTF, the US CSG commander/Commander 7th Fleet, and the Chinese Eastern Theater Command.  The Chinese have occupied the Senkaku’s with “demonstrators” and slapped an exclusion zone around the islands.  The Japanese are determined this will not stand and have sent a SAG along with a couple of amphibs to sort things out.  The US, with its UK partners (represented by a couple of UK Daring class DDGs), wants the whole thing to go away.  But the US still has a CSG muddling around somewhere out there keeping an eye on things.   We will start with a planning turn, its best to designate someone in charge as the commander, and we will communicate using maps with annotations on them. Please try and annotate legibly otherwise I may assume that your comms are not working that turn!  Basic turn sequence is:   space (settle down, remember your ROE), cyber (capabilities will be assigned), C4ISR (how do you see stuff), and then air, surface, and subsurface.  Logistics, like always, won’t play much of a role here.    
There will be three teams: Japanese, American, Chinese

John Curry
ECW VIRTUAL TEWT (TACTICAL EXERCISE WITHOUT TROOPS)
90 minutes                                                                                           any number
Zoom
The epic struggle between King and Parliament continues.  Your army is in the line of march on the wat to take the city of YORKVILLE.  The enemy have deployed, do you dare offer battle?  You are the experienced command staff of the army, you must deploy your forces and issue your orders.
You will have maps, photographs of the terrain, ORBAT and reports from scouts.

John Bassett
GIVE ME BACK MY LEGIONS!
20 minute presentation + 40 minute discussion                                              any
Zoom
A review of John's sprawling Roman internet game which took place in the spring, with a focus on lessons for future multi-centre games ans some thoughts on subjects for future games.

Martin Rapier
ONE HOUR WW2
90 minutes including post-game discussion               4 players, plus observers
Google Meet, with Skype as a backup
An adaptation of One Hour Wargames for brigade level actions in WW2.  A largeish action on a small table in a relatively short period of time for up to eight players involving toy soldiers and rulers.  Owners of Neil Thomas's 'One Hour Wargames' my struggle to find much resemblance to the original rules.

John Armatys
THE CONVOY - A SIMPLE GRIDDED AGE OF SAIL NAVAL WARGAME
2 hours including post-game discussion                                             up to 6 players
Skype
A chance to try my pre-steam, iron and steel variant of Bob Cordery's "Gridded Naval Wargames" (Eglinton Books, 2018) using a very small hand drawn board, some very old 1/3000 ships and the cheapest IT kit available.

Jim Roche
COW 2020 SINGALONG - TENS, TWENTIES AND MORE
1 hour                                                                                                              any number
Zoom
This session will feature some drinking-related songs, including 1620's The Parting Glass and 1970's A sailor ain't a sailor, ain't a sailor any more, marking the ending of Rum Ration.  I hope to provide an historical/military context for all. Along with Wee Joe and his adventures in Russia in 1920. We will also mark Hitler's Hofbräuhaus speech in 1920 by singing the non-historical Tomorrow belongs to me, while I promote the Bernie Gunther novels.

Gary Sheffield
WARGAMING AND HISTORY/HISTORY AND WARGAMING
30 minutes                                                                                                       any number
Zoom
In this talk Professor Gary Sheffield reflects on his career as a professional scholarly military historian and his other life as a wargamer. He has used wargaming for teaching purposes for over 30 years as well as being a recreational wargamer. Gary looks at how useful he has found wargaming as an educational tool, and discusses its strengths and limitations in informing his research. Over the years he has come across many influential wargamers such as Paddy Griffith and Phil Sabin, and will give his thoughts on the contribution of these people and others to the hobby/profession. Finally, he will indicate some areas in which he thinks there are possibilities to develop wargaming.

John Curry
The Great Mutiny 1857
1 hour                                                                                                  5 players
Zoom
The rebellion against the authority of the East India Company was widespread through much of Northern India, but essentially it was sparked by the mass uprising by the sepoys of the units of the Army which the company had itself raised in its Bengal Presidency (which actually covered a vast area from Assam to Peshawar). Seeking a symbol around which to rally, the first sepoys to rebel sought to reinstate the power of the Mughal Empire, which had ruled the entire Indian subcontinent during the previous centuries. Lacking overall direction, many who subsequently rebelled also flocked to Delhi.
You are in a group of likeminded civilians with some regular officers and men of the East India Company. The enemy are spread out and lacking coordination. You are breaking the back of the rebellion one group of rebels at a time. It is a tactical map-based game.

John Curry
A Practical Guide to Storming a Medieval Castle
1 hour                                                                                                                          any
Zoom 
To celebrate my new book, A Practical Guide to Medieval Warfare by Richard Brooks and John Curry, I will talk about storming a castle. Faced by questions that were unanswered by the history books, the obvious thing to do was to hire some castles and pretend to storm them. This talk is by one of a few people who has actually climbed a siege ladder in recent times, dropped rocks off battlements and shot through arrowslits.

Tim Price
Remote Kriegsspiel
2 hours                                                                                                            6-8 players
Google Meeting
Tim Price, a professional wargamer working in the Government funded education sector will demonstrate how to run a two-sided, double blind, Kriegsspiel, using free tools and no downloaded apps.  The session will include a game.

Tim Price
Hadley's Hope
2 hours                                                                                                            6-8 players
Google Meeting
Sci-Fi skirmish game with toy soldiers and limited information.

Graham Longley-Brown
DEFENCE AND RECREATIONAL WARGAMES
40 minutes                                                                                                       any
Zoom
Graham Longley-Brown has wargamed since aged eight, used wargaming for serious purposes throughout his military career and been a professional wargamer since leaving the Army in 2004. He was the lead author of the 2017 MOD Wargaming Handbook and published his own Successful Professional Wargames: A Practitioner’s Handbook in 2019. He is co-organiser of Connections UK, the leading conference outside the US for wargaming professionals (those who use wargames for serious purposes). In his talk on ‘Defence and recreational wargames: distinctions and synergies’, he will discuss some of the differences between these wargame contexts and invite comments and suggestions from the wider community that might enhance Defence wargaming.

John Curry
Battle of Landsdowne 1643 virtual battlefield tour
1 hour                                                                                                              any
Zoom
As is traditional, there is a pre COW walk on the Friday afternoon of COW. This is the virtual replacement looking at an important and well preserved battlefield site. This will start with a 20 mins introduction to the battlefield, then break into small groups to look at the period accounts, maps, photos of the ground and use Google Earth to walk around the battlefield. Then each group will present their thoughts to the whole group.

Bob Cordery
WD40 – OILING THE WHEELS OF WARGAMING SINCE 1980
40 minutes                                                                                                      any number
Zoom

A look back at the history of Wargame Developments, how and why it came about and what it has achieved.  Bob is the only current member of WD who attended the original Moor Park conference in 1980.

Mike Elliott
ADVENTURES IN LOCKDOWN
1 hour                                                                                                              any
Zoom
A general discussion about our wargaming experiences in lockdown:
Did you do more or less wargaming?
Did you use the time for painting figures rather than playing games?
Methods: solo, online, other?
What has worked for you?
What didn't work?
What can we learn from the experience to improve our wargaming activities in the future?

David Bradbury
On His Most Catholic Majesty's Service
1 hour                                                                                                             
Zoom
A simple look at the decision-making of the commander of a Spanish light warship on cruise in the Mediterranean in 1551.

Michael Young
CARRIER STRIKE: WARGAME PLAYTEST
90 minutes                                                                   2+ players, plus assistants & observers
Zoom (but players must have Excel and PowerPoint with macros to be a play the force commander role)
This is a wargame looking at the effectiveness of the new Queen Elizabeth carrier task force written entirely in PowerPoint and Excel, illustrating how you can write a detailed wargame using just these media, and play it over the internet.  It does this by extensive use of Microsoft Visual basic macros in PowerPoint and Excel.  I have been commissioned by Dstl to develop this game and have permission to use this as a playtesting session.
PowerPoint and Excel was an interesting choice for developing a wargame, but it has the major advantage that these programs are present on all the MoD computers so there are no difficulties with porting the game from one system to another.
The players move their forces by moving shapes and arrows on a on a PowerPoint slide in design mode (making a new slide each turn) , and then fight them by putting the slide into presentation mode and clicking on the unit shapes and arrows.  Clicking this way activates macros, User Forms and Excel Worksheets to resolve the movement or combat.
I’m developing this at the moment, so this will be a work in progress, but I hope to get some good feedback and suggestions on how to further develop the game.


David Burden
Remote Wargaming
60 minutes                                                                                                      any number
Zoom
This session will introduce the different forms that remote wargaming can take before providing demonstrations of three different technology solutions for ways of playing remote games synchronously (i.e. all players active in real-time): Roll20 (2D), TableTop Simulator (3D) and a prototype Virtual Reality (VR) environment. Demonstrations will include equivalents of SPI type hex games, and figure based games. There will be a chance to ask questions about each system and the session will close with an open discussion of the merits (and demerits) of different approaches and how they might be used and evolve in the future.


Thursday, 28 May 2020

Important COW 2020 announcement

IMPORTANT COW2020 ANNOUNCEMENT

I have just been informed by the management of Knuston Hall that they WILL NOT be able to host COW2020 this July.

As a result, WD will be running Virtual COW (VCOW) in its place over the COW weekend.

As further information becomes available, it will be passed on to interested parties.

Friday, 15 May 2020

Tech platform comparison (updated 29/05/2020)

Alex Kleanthous and Martin Rapier have very kindly compiled this comparison of tech platforms which presenters may find useful.

Feature
Zoom (paid)
Zoom (free)
Teams (paid)
Skype (free)
Google Meet (free)
Google Meet (paid)














Max attendees
300 (webinar 100)
300
250
50
100
Very many
Webinar rather than meeting (better for talks)
Y
N
N (maybe possible with difficulty?)
N
Y
Y
Time limit?
N
Y (40 mins)
N
Y (4 hrs)
N (60 mins end Sept)
N
Screen sharing
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Scheduled meetings
Y
Y
X
N
Y
Y
Virtually raise hand
Y
Y
N
N
N
N
Breakout rooms set up in advance
Y
Y
Y
N
N
N
Breakout rooms on the fly randomly
Y
Y
N
N
N
N
Waiting room (can’t begin without host)
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y?
N?
Background Blur
Custom background
Custom
Y
N
N
N
Recording
Local or cloud
Local
Cloud
Local
N
Cloud
Chat between participants
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Q&A tool
Y
N
Chat only
Chat only
Chat
Chat
Mobile apps
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y
Y