Sunday, 19 October 2014

AAR- A Log...Fog in the Eye

Or, Playing Miniature Wargames over the web.

As a proof of concept we tried some long distance remote miniature gaming today.  It was a quick proof of concept and I think better than we could have hoped for.  Well, nightmarishly better.

Player Location 1 was 3,600km from Player Location 2.  The board was setup at Location 1 with a remote controllable webcam and player 2 got to swivel the camera and give orders.  The camera was always situated behind the leader unit and could only see what he could see (a little higher thank the gods!).  It was really like having a log stuck in your eye, suddenly your miniature gamers "god's eye" view had a huge log jammed in it by the devil (player 1).  Decisions of what to do are so much more difficult with lack of awareness and it feels as if every tree, wall or house is hiding something nasty.

We used Skype to communicate, and used the Share Screen option in Skype so Player 1 could see the EXCEL spreadsheet dice rolls of player 2 (makes it easier to compare) and also see what Player 2 can see through the webcam.

The interface as seen on the web browser.  The camera has a remote control swivel control
The After Action Report
Corporal Petersen was leading his section through a mostly deserted village on the far flank of the UN advance.  Over the radio he could hear chatter that the main column had been ambushed and he could hear distant exchanges of fire.  But, with the arrival of UN air support the insurgents began to melt away from the UN spearhead.  Corporal Petersen soon got a radio message from his platoon commander, a group of insurgents were heading straight for his position.
The world from an ants point of view - this is all you can see, and can swivel left and right.
Corporal Petersen shouted over to L/Cpl O'Donnel, "Donnyboy, get that GIMP up on a roof and see what you can see.  Watch out for civilians."

With that the Corporal ordered Private Bowles to kick in the door behind him.   The door gave away easily and the stack surged into the room, it was empty.  They moved up onto the roof for a better view of their surrounds.
With fireteam Charlie on the roof the better view is a breathe of fresh air.
Fireteam Delta climbed through the broken compound wall and advanced towards the doorways of the house.  The feeling of a hundred eyes following them across the empty courtyard could not be  shrugged off.
Fireteam Delta advancing across the compound courtyard
And now for something completely different - Cpl Petersen double takes thinking he saw a big hand come down from the sky, a swig from his camel pack clears his vision - at least it was not a big foot
The town seemed empty.  While Corporal Petersen and his men scanned the buildings for movement Private Cakubau in Fireteam Delta attempted to kick in the door in the compound, but all he got for his efforts was to fall backwards onto his arse to the nervous amusement of his team mates.
Fireteam Charlie scanning the houses on the left flank
Private Cakubau bouncing off the door
While Private Cakubau examined his trousers, "Gods, I think I am lying in human shit," the burly Private Lovett kicked the door in with a deafening crash.  The team surged into the room followed by the complaining Cakubau.  The team moved up onto the roof and setup the GPMG.
Both teams on the roofs
Now both teams had good eyes on each flank, but they had limited mutual support opportunities.

"I see movement," said the Charlie team SAW gunner, Private McLane.  Petersen grunted that McLane always saw something, then thought  how he had just hallucinated about the big hand in the sky.  He matched his scope on the doorway across the street that McLane was aiming at.  A figure moved furtively out into the street before motioning to men behind him to follow.

"Fucking Woz's," said the Corporal, the men were obviously armed with AKs and RPGs, they were definitely Woz insurgents [Successful Check on Intent].
A Woz insurgent leader appears in the doorway across the street
Corporal Petersen shouted into his radio for the L/Cpl to get eyes on.  Then he opened fire.  The fireteam poured in fire, some of the insurgents fell or scattered, but a few stood their ground and returned very heavy fire.  The fireteam ducked below the parapet, Corporal Perkins rolled to the ground, "Shite, shite, I've been hit in me face."

Corporal Petersen rolled him over, "It is just a graze, you pussy."

Private Bowles looked over and laughed, "Fuck Herky, I did not think you could get any uglier, but you just did!"

Perkins replied with an appropriate Queen's English reply, though his wave did not look at all like the Queen's.  But then he perked up and grinned through the blood, "I put a bigger fookin' hole in that Woz bastard's head" patting his L129 affectionately.

The Corporal ordered his men to get eyes on and give covering fire for Delta team as Delta moved up.
Fireteam Delta moves to bring fire to bear
Fireteam Delta moved into the other compound building, kicking in the door and rushing to the windows.  In the street in front of them they could see one insurgent being dragged to cover by his mate, and several others firing at Charlie.  The GPMG (only +1), the SAW and the UGL all fired, the insurgents turned to face the new threat.Charlie in its overwatch position poured in fire.  The insurgents all fell in the crossfire.

Lance-Corporal O'Donnel reported, "At least a dozen bodies, and one managed to crawl back through the doorway."

The UGL gunner on the roof fired one grenade into the doorway for good measure and then the teams fell back to their platoons position to the south.
I finally get a Gods Eye view

As a proof of concept I give three thumbs up.  The lack of awareness is truly scary, every house was a threat.  I think this is a great way of playing, and would consider adding this in even if the players were not 3,600km apart.  It adds a very nice dimension to the game.

In the future we will also look to have the remote player being a JTAC offboard giving support fire to a larger battle.  But, commanding units from the ground view is heaps of fun (in a masochistic sort of way).  Thank you Marcus for setting this up.  100% Proof of Concept.  Highly recommended as a way of playing, even with FtF players.

I used an EXCEL sheet to do the dicing, but will get myself a camera now, and use real dice.


  1. Very very cool. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Fantastic idea, and I might have to try it myself.

  3. What a cracking idea, we were only talking at our local club about how we could better create teh fog of war, never thought about skype.

  4. Cheers. The one thing I noted is that I needed to protect my flank as a priority, rather than take the central building to give better crossfire. In a normal game one can see the enemy so you can be far more concentrated with regards to the enemy. Not knowing where they are makes your flanks seem wide open. I think as a rule change we should allow teams to spot multiple times until they fail, much like overwatch.

  5. Interesting solution to this. We did similar things when playing by email, with me just sending photos of what was in line of sight, so the players where never getting the full picture of what was going on around them. Makes for very interesting games and adds a HUGE amount of Fog of War to your usual game.

  6. What a great idea. Could you share details of the webcam make / model and control software? Great blog, has been consistently inspirational ...

  7. That's a really cool concept, cheers!