Virtual Gaming – Chain of Command

Thanks to COVID-19, many of us had not had the chance to play a game face-to-face with an opponent for almost 11 months. Over that time several solutions to this problem have arisen. As I have previously documented, I have spent some time playing online boardgames via apps and playing Role-Playing games using online software and chat media.

Another solution that a number of people have tried is running physical wargames where one or more of the opponents is only present virtually, by the means of social media. This solution does rely on someone having both the space to create a game at home, plus all the relevant scenery and figures for a game. However, if this can be provided, then this is a viable alternative.

A number of my friends have been running games like this for several months – indeed VL4, the fourth Virtual Lard gaming tournament, is soon to be run.

I, however, had yet to try my hand at this…that was until last Thursday evening when I found myself facing my friend Ty across the table as we played a game of Chain of Command. The game was hosted and umpired by Mr Matt Slade (he of Glenbrook Games fame) – he provided the table, scenery, miniatures, cameras and the photos on this blog (thanks Matt!).

The previously mentioned, this was a game of Chain of Command, set in the early part of the Desert War, where a force of British were trying to rescue Squadron Leader Algernon Wedgewood-Plate DFC from the clutches of the dastardly Italian garrison of the settlement of Shah Wadi Wadi (see above).

The practicalities of the game were actually quite straight forward. Matt had two devices set up – an ipad set up at one end of the table, giving an overall view of table, and a camera on a small tripod which could be moved around as required. Both devices were online and connected to a Google Meet chat room – a room which myself and Ty were also connected to. This meant that Ty and I could see the table and communicate with Matt in order to provide troop orders and dice roll results.

Poor Matt was left to move troops around the table, provide answers to line-of-sight questions and generally umpire the game, whilst myself and Ty had the relatively simple task of giving orders and telling Matt where we wanted troops moved to, and rolling the odd handful of dice. I was using a 10″ Kindle Fire for the game, connected to the Google Meet app – a perfectly viable solution.

The game worked remarkably smoothly, with almost no technology issues – unless you count Matt constantly having to scurry around the table with a tape measure to move models and provide updates on LOS issues where they occurred, poor chap! He was thoroughly exhausted by the end of the night, though he had the satisfaction of knowing that he provided a most excellent evening’s entertainment.

And my own verdict? Really enjoyed this way of playing. Whilst it is no substitute for being in the same room as an opponent, it is a fantastic compromise, with the added bonus of being able to provide the opportunity for friends who are separated to miles and lockdown to play a wargame against each other. Did I mention I was playing again on Monday night? ‘Nuff said.

I’m sorry? What was that? How did the game go? Well, let’s not worry about details shall we?

6 Comments on Virtual Gaming – Chain of Command

  1. Thank you for detailing the tech setup. Really seems it worked well. Playing this way is potentially more immersive than moving your troops yourself. After all you give commands and have imperfect knowledge of the terrain etc.

    • That is one thing that really appeals about this way of playing – it’s an extra layer of Fog of War.
      I quite fancy playing a game where the only view you get of the table is model-eye pov. You could probably run that using the camera on a phone and a periscope or two.

  2. Keep telling you, you should really try table top simulator ๐Ÿ™‚
    Its the mutts nuts for Star Wars Armada whilst I can’t do meet ups.
    My concern with TTS is that it could weaken proper table top gaming, but in reality it’s more of an intro to different games to see if you like the mechanic. Its a good temporary substitute but not totally same as pushing a super star destroyer or your mansions of madness minis across a real table. There are compromises (e.g. simple things such as minimum steps rotating a ship)

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