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, 13 June 2020

Session List latest

Last edited 20 June by Tim Gow

running time                            number of players

The Session List

Peter Perla
25 minutes                                                                                                       any
Plenary lecture

Mark Herman
25 minutes                                                                                                       any
Plenary lecture

Russell King
90 minutes                                                                                           6-8 players
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
2 hours
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
90 minutes                                                                                           any number
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
20 minute presentation + 40 minute discussion                                              any
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
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
2 hours including post-game discussion                                             up to 6 players
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
1 hour                                                                                                              any number
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
30 minutes                                                                                                       any number
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
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
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
40 minutes                                                                                                       any
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
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
40 minutes                                                                                                      any number

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
1 hour                                                                                                              any
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                                                                                                             
A simple look at the decision-making of the commander of a Spanish light warship on cruise in the Mediterranean in 1551.

Michael Young
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
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.

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