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Archive for the ‘Flower of Battle’ Category

Continuing from part 1 and part 2. This is a really quick post about a Youtube channel that does a good job gathering, and commenting on, clips of self-defence and other violent encounters. Primarily shootings but occasionally stabbings and other incidents. A lot to learn that brings home some of the points I made in parts 1 and 2 of this series: Humans rarely die instantly, even when suffering a killing blow. To balance this statement there are off course cases where people die instantly, or are at least taken out of the fight instantly.

If you have studied Historical European Martial Arts you may be aware of the eyes being soft spots for lethal stabbing. Not talking about the “eye gouging” you always hear about from the self-defence crowd, this is about actual penetration. This video is a disturbing example of how soft this spot can actually be as a person is stabbed with a pool cue and reportedly dies. Again, quite disturbing but an important example of how attacks can end fast.

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It’s finally official — I’ve gotten my Ph.D! Since I want to try to keep up a resemblance of anonymity I won’t tell you the subject except that it has to do with contemporary warfare. With that little detail out of the way.. I have started updating my own wargaming rules and hope to playtest them within a couple of months. Also ordered a box of victrix archers and light hoplites and a box of fireforge games mongols that i will convert to scythians. In other news the figure swapping i did with nobby went well and we both got what we wanted.

I have primed my fireforge Swedes and have continued painting my perry mounted men at arms. Will show some progress pics soon.

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Situation Report

So, I haven’t updated this blog in a while. The reason is that I’m in the US of A right now finishing my dissertation and that takes up most of my efforts right now. Plus, I have no hobby stuff with me here — everything is back home in the North.

Rest assured that I will continue the good work once I’m done here!

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Out of Town

Hi! I am currently not anywhere near my hobby and gaming stuff so expect a long break from any posts with my own material. I’ll just repost any interesting stuff I find. I am in a totally different country for some months having a blast but not being able to do much gaming at all. So, this blog isn’t over, its just on a break.

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I never really get to making molds of all parts of my modular Italian buildings. And, I have only done a couple resin copies of one wall. To get a feel for what I can do with the modular building blocks I just did a few casts and pressings using plaster and clay. Since I don’t have molds of all parts I will scratch build a lot of this trial building. Here it is tacked together. A lot of scratch building remains to get this together. When its done that should be the motivation I need to finnish a few more molds and do some resin casts. Work in progress!

image

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Continuing from part one.

Close combat in wargames should first and foremost be fun and simple with no boring score-keeping. But for my own rules I also want the fighting to feel real. For realism’s sake the player takes on the role of the company’s captain by issuing orders to units. For fun’s sake the player also gets to control the flavour of close combat. No, it isn’t realistic that the player can control units without giving them orders — but it is realistic that if faced with choices a unit will do what is best for its survival.

In video games the AI takes care of this, but since that isn’t possible on the tabletop the player provides the intelligence. Do note that the player get to step in as “AI” only when there is little to no conflict of interest between the unit and the captain (the character that the player controls). When acting as AI the player cannot make units do suicidal actions. All actions that are for ‘the greater good’ will need to be triggered by orders. So in short, the captain orders units to fight but the unit decides how to fight.

Depending on circumstances a unit can perform close combat using one of its four abilities. All units will have weak and strong abilities but sometimes it might be beneficial to use a weak ability just because if it is applied successfully a special action will be unlocked. I’ve seen others call this type of special action a “stunt”, so that’s the term I’ll go with. A stunt could for instance be applied to your own unit, like faked flight, or applied to the opposing unit, like broken shields. Different units have different stunts depending on their training and equipment.

I’m not going to go into the abilities and stuff at this point, but I do want to show some videos of actual fighting to give an idea of why I want units to be able to fight in different ways and to be able to unlock various stunts. None of the videos can off course contain actual ancient or medieval fighting but they do illustrate various aspects of close combat.

First some group fights with blunt weapons

Huge gang fight. The groups assemble in rather dense clusters. After clashing the lines eventually pivot and then a few guys start retreating which causes a chain reaction of mass flight. This is similar but smaller scale. In this fight you can see how the winning side has an advantage of greater stability from the start.

This is just a drill showing riot police shifting between different forms of open and close order formations. In the beginning you clearly see how they have several rows densely packed to stop the momentum of the attackers. They are in this instance supported columnwise by reserves. In other drills they support eachother by rows.

Second group fight with stabbings and slashings

Six guys defend room from scores of blade wielding attackers. This shows how the narrow passage into the room of the “victims” gives the victims leverage to use their agility against the mass of opponents. The guy that is first attacked, the one with the meat cleaver is all over the place and then they manage to push and stab the attackers out of the room. From there on they can use their open formation against the close formation of the opponents by pelting them with office equipment. It does help that the victims have a couple of guys that are really courageous while the attackers seem to have only one guy that is really into the fight (the one that started attacking the guy that pulled out the cleaver). The big boss man slips away without making much contact at all.

Although it definitely looks like people get stabbed and hacked noone is taken out immediately. Rather, they try to hit eachother until one side has had enough and disengages en masse.

I find that these videos illustrate that people are not that easily taken out of group fights one by one. Rather, wounds, real and imagined, amass until those bravest on one side have been cowed to the point that those least eager to fight can start the flight. It seems that the less deadly the force employed, or the more courageous the participants, the more people will have stayed in the fight long enough to be knocked down (or pretended to be knocked down) and unable to join the flight.

The videos also illustrate that there is a time and place for close order combat relying on stability and mass, and loose order skirmishing relying on movement. And at least the video with the drill illustrates what can be done with superior ability to coordinate your forces.

I can also recommend watching some “Battle of the Nations” vidoes of Russia against some opponent. For instance, if the opponents form up too tightly the Russians just open up their own formation so they can surround them and take them out one by one.

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I want to share some of my thinking concerning close combat. There are definitely differences between single combat and group versus group combat and I want to focus on group fighting. However, before getting there I just want to share some vidoes on how individuals react to different forms of violence.

Note that some of the videos might be disturbing and require a youtube login. However, no innocent victims were killed in any of the incidents.

First, blunt violence

Stick fighting. From five minutes into the stick-fighting there is mainly stand-up, up until then mostly ground-work.

One brave man with a baseball bat. A bunch of hooligans meet an angry guy.

A conclusion is that people that are used to fighting (or people that are intoxicated or otherwise worked up) are pretty hard to stop with light sticks or even baseball bats.

Second, stabbing and slashing

Prison stabbing.

Couldn’t find a better video of this but it contains the typical surprise attacks and multiple stabbings of prison stabbings. In most of these types of videos the victims suffer multiple wounds but are still able to move around until totally spent or until the attacker is interrupted.

Knife-wielding guy stopped by store owner’s gun.

Again multiple attacks on one of the victims, and the victim is still able to fight until he ends the fight and notices his own wounds. The guy with the ‘sore throat’ survived.

Knife fencing.

This time both guys have knives. They don’t fight with the intent of hardened killers but they still seem to hit eachother. And again, they are able to continue fighting.

There are off course videos of people being taken out by one stab only, but I’m not sure if the innocent victims survived in those videos so I don’t want to share them. However, there are other examples like the above where people that get stabbed take up all the attention of the attacker and get stabbed repeatedly until the victim is entirely spent (or manages to overcome the attacker).

Lesson learned for my own rules: Keeping track in game of whether anyone is injured or dead is kind of pointless at the level of granularity that I’m dealing with. A person will either be involved in a fight or not. Even if someone is injured and has a decreased ability to fight, that person will still tie up an opponent until he is knocked out, killed, or runs away. That is why no person in my rules have hit points that are decreased from round to round. Individuals (or units if they are in close order) instead have resilience. If an opponent deals enough damage to reach up to the resilience level in that particular attack the individual (or unit) is defeated. A unit is hence only depleted by loosing individuals (or sub-units) and not by taking wounds. More on that later.

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