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.

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

Saturday, 9 May 2020

VCOW Session List - last updated 01/06/2020

This post will be updated as more sessions are offered  - so please keep checking in.

The format of the listings is as follows:
Presenter(s)
TITLE OF SESSION
running time    start time                                 number of players
platform
description

The Session List

Peter Perla
WARGAMES: WHAT AND WHY
20 minutes      Friday 1930
Zoom
Plenary lecture

Mark Herman
TALK
20 minutes      Friday 2000
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            Saturday 2000                                                                        
Zoom
The game will introduce players to the active edge of professional wargaming led by two of the top professional wargamers in the world.
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 number
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
                                                                                                               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.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Guidance for session presenters


To register a session, please send Tim Gow the following information, preferably by email (contact details in Nugget) or by leaving a comment on THIS post. 
  • Name of presenter(s)
  • Contact email address for presenter (this will be provided only to VCOW attendees) 
  • Title of session
  • Type of session – e.g. Role play, matrix, toy soldier, committee, lecture.
  • Approx. number of participants
  • Running time
  • A few lines of chat about the session for the updates and programme
  • Preferred time slot (day, morning, or afternoon)
  • Media for participating (Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, etc.) Support is available to presenters with little or no experience of such platforms.  A number of WD members have Zoom licences.
  • Sessions or presenters you’d prefer not to clash with. 
If you are unsure about which platform would be suitable for your session, please ask!  Help and advice is available and we will shortly be posting a comparison of the various systems.
Presenters are urged to keep session length to multiples of 90 minutes. Breaks between sessions will be longer than is usual - partly to limit ‘screen time’ and because unlike at Knuston, some attendees may have to cook their own meals!
The deadline for session submissions to be included in the programme is 12 noon on Monday 15 June.
The timetable will be published w/c 22 June.
Booking for players/participants attending sessions will open on 1 July.

Booking are to be made by attendees contacting the session presenter (or facilitator) by email.
Session presenters will then confirm by email and send out instructions and briefing materials as appropriate. It is the responsibility of presenters to ensure their players have the appropriate IT.

If you have booked to attend a session please be ready 10 minutes before the start time as presenters will not wait for you and you may lose your place. Session end times must be rigorously observed

Provisional timetable slots are as follows:
Friday evening
1920-1930 Welcome and opening remarks - Tim Gow & Bob Cordery
1930-1955 Plenary lecture 1 - Peter Perla
2000-2020 Plenary lecture 2 - Mark Herman
2030-2200 Late ADG slot

Saturday
0900-1030
1030-1100 morning break
1100-1230
1230-1400 break for lunch
1430-1600
1600-1630 afternoon break
1630-1800
1800-2000 break for dinner
2000-2200

Sunday
0930-1100
1100-1130 morning break
1130-1300
1310-1345 Virtual WD AGM


Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Planning for VCOW

The Conference of Wargamers is an extraordinary event. There can be very, very few, if any, conferences which charge a fee for entrance and then expect delegates to provide the entire program and write up the proceedings. Yet each year CoW is a triumph of good will and collective endeavour over standard consumer practice. Each year, as the call goes out for sessions and the members of WD provide, and we all have a jolly good time at Knuston. Then your Editor eagerly awaits, and eventually receives, enough reports for 9 issues of The Nugget.

For obvious reasons this year is not the same. It is extremely unlikely at this time that we will be meeting at Knuston this year. We can however take this as an opportunity to develop our wargames and the way we engage with conflict simulation. Following a discussion with a handful of members, we have taken the decision to offer an alternative to COW – Virtual Conference of Wargamers (VCOW).

VCOW will take place over same weekend as physical COW, that is the weekend of the 10th to the 12th July. It will begin on Friday with a Plenary session, and there will be 4 blocks of sessions over the Saturday and Sunday. These sessions will be a mixture of lectures, discussions and games, and attendees will be able to sign up to a range of different activities over the course of the VCOW. Sadly, you will have to provide your own food, but other than that, we hope to recreate the COW experience as far as possible for all attendees. We also hope that VCOW will provide us with some innovative new types of games and allow us all to explore the benefits and limitations of the virtual medium.

Obviously, attendance at VCOW will be by remote access (or, from the comfort of your own home, if you prefer), using conferencing apps such as Zoom or Skype, which I’m sure many of you are becoming rather familiar with at the moment. Sessions will likewise be run via a remote access media of the session leader’s choice.

To register a session, please send Tim Gow the following information:
  • Name of presenter(s)
  • Title of session
  • Type of session – e.g. Role play, matrix, toy soldier, committee, lecture.
  • Approx. number of participants
  • Running time
  • A few lines of chat about the session for the updates and programme
  • Preferred time slot (day, morning, or afternoon)
  • Media for participating (Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, etc.)
We intend to be able to provide technical support and a virtual briefing to session organisers ahead of VCOW to help the less technically secure.

As virtual participation is rather more intense than face-to-face meetings, we recommend that non-game sessions last no longer than 40 minutes.

We are delighted to announce that the Plenary session will feature two sort lectures by:
  • Peter Perla, Author of Peter Perla's Art of Wargaming
  • Mark Herman – author of numerous titles for SPI, Victory Games, etc.
Also, Graham Longley Brown, a well know professional gamer who runs session for the army, will provide a lecture over the weekend.

Any fully paid-up member of Wargame Developments or anyone who has been a member within the last two years may register to take part in the Virtual COW. In order to take part must register your email address and make a small contribution (£5.00) to the cost of the software licence. This can be done via the VCOW blog page at https://wdvirtualcow.blogspot.com/.

We very much hope that this format will enable WD members who for whatever reasons have been unable to attend COW in the past will be able to participate in the full WD experience.

Just as with COW, participants are strongly encouraged to submit On and Offside reports to the Editor of the Nugget. As always, your submissions ensure the Nugget’s publication.

We hope that VCOW will appeal to the membership of WD, and we look forward to you registering to attend and submitting your sessions in the near future.

Friday, 10 April 2020

What is VCOW?

The organisers of COW have decided that as it is very likely that a Knuston Hall won’t be able to host COW2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they will try to organise a virtual conference ... and Virtual COW (VCOW) was born! This blog will feature the ever-developing programme for VCOW.