Thursday, 23 March 2017

What did I forget now?

The thing with writing your own rules is that you really have no excuse for not knowing what they are or knowing what is intended. Well, not really. I quite often forget what I was thinking when I made design decisions. Plus, as I'm developing them I can forget where I've got to and revert back in my head to an earlier version.

For this week's entertainment I also had the challenge of not playing a game with these rules for about a month due to holidays and other commitments. Any how, notwithstanding these challenges we were back in Spain for some more Civil War action

What I was able to do for this game was debut some new forces, - namely some Italians (well, lots of Italians) and also some new AA units in the guise of truck mounted HMGs.

Also, for this game I decided to play along the table rather than across it. I did this for two reasons. Firstly I wanted to try a multiple lines of defence game. Secondly I wanted to try my off-set squares grid going along the opposite grain, which makes it perform much more like a conventional hex grid board.

Phil got the Italians and started off in a bullish fashion, advancing across the open ground (BTW these pictures are taken with my phone, so apologies for poor quality & a bit of shakiness). At this stage I was having problems ranging my guns on the targets. And I forgot to put out the Under Fire markers, which were a significant change to the rules one or two iterations back.

Phil, on the other hand, had got his guns deployed and registered on the first defensive point. To make things worse he also got one of his tankette squadrons in close. The one with the flamethrower. This is a new toy, so not too unhappy to see it deployed.

At last my guns got registered on those chaps in the open, and I started to give them a pounding.

Too late for my brave fellows in the olive grove over on the left flank, who were outflanked and subject to a tank assisted close assault. This lead to a hurried retirement on my part.

Then Phil got an airstrike, and started to plaster any of my units on the main road. Some work still to be done here on the rules as I couldn't work out what I'd written down about target observation. I do know you get a modifier if you have air identification markings on your vehicles.

Despite my best efforts Phil was able to forge forwards. A combination of massive amounts of small arms fire, tanks and artillery with a little bit of bombing is a winning combination. I did rough up some of his units quite badly (and damaged a CV35 with an HMG), but I let my units get isolated and overrun piecemeal. Alas my attempt to close assault an armoured unit did not succeed.

Finally Phil seized the last bridge with his AA truck unit.

This is a picture of the final position. Note the howitzers firing from a defiladed position. I think the Italians are a bit strung out, and if I had any forces for a counter attack I'd be well in there.

Another satisfactory run through, with a few notes taken for future modifications. And a successful first outing for the CTV. Jolly good all round, really.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

S-21 and Choeung Ek

We have been away in South East Asia recently, starting in Laos and finishing up in Cambodia. Both are lovely, beautiful countries with friendly, welcoming people. There is much to commend both of them to any traveller. We chose not to see Cambodia as an extension to our Vietnam trip a year or so ago in order to do justice to them both. This tour took us nearly three weeks.

With Cambodia there is some awkwardness to be addressed. Like a visit to Poland raises the question of visiting Auschwitz, so a visit to Cambodia raises the spectacle of the Killing Fields and how you are going to react to them.

The Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis is history to my generation (I'm in my late 50s). I do not recall when I first learnt about it. In many ways it has always been something I've been aware of. The Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge are something that happened in my life time, the details slowly emerging to disbelief and outrage.

The Cambodian leg of our tour ended with visits to the S-21 Interrogation Facility in Phnom Penn and the Choeung Ek Killing Fields associated with it.

Within our small group there was a discussion about whether it was appropriate to photograph either site, and whether such tourist-like acts are respectful. In the end I decided that I would take pictures, for two or three reasons.
  1. I was unlikely to be going back. If I wanted a photographic record, then it was now or never. If I changed my mind about having the pictures later I could always delete them.
  2. I was still thinking hard about it all as I was going round. I knew that I would only be fully able to get all of my thoughts straight if I wrote them down. From the minute we approached the gates of S-21, I was going to write a blog about it.
  3. Whether it is respectful or not the evidence needs to be shared, and shared regularly. If the evidence is kept in a dark, locked away place then it can be denied. Furthermore our understanding of the Cambodian Holocaust as well as the German Holocaust must be based on evidence and fact. If either become a matter of belief or faith then their existence can be denied.
S-21 was mostly used to interrogate and torture members of the Khmer Rouge who had been identified as traitors to the regime. It has to be remembered that the Khmer Rouge was not just a collection of fanatical communists, but included Cambodian nationalists who supported the King and wanted foreign intervention removed form their country. King Sihanouk backed the Khmer Rouge and became titular head of state when they seized power.  The US backing for a the Lon Nol regime who took power in  a coup, and the fall out from the way the Vietnam War was being waged drove Cambodians of a wide range of backgrounds to support the Khmer Rouge. Thus, initially, there may have been genuine reasons for suspicion, but after the initial batch of prisoners were forced to give the names of 10 collaborators then it became a terrible, deadly, macabre snowball of denunciations.

Terribly S-21 was set up in a school. It is hard to thing of a worse perversion of a building's intent, unless they had used a hospital.

The four school buildings were lettered A. B, C & D. The building above is building A. It contained relatively large rooms where inmates were held and tortured in order to obtain confessions and further names. Many of the camp guards were young, - probably in their late teens. Only the very young, without family ties, brought up within the Khmer Rouge could be trusted. They had no history before the revolution and so could be relied upon to show total loyalty.

This is building B, one of the detention blocks. As I understand it prisoners were not tortured in here, just held captive in their minuscule cells (see picture below). The arrangements were nothing if not practical. There was insufficient room to interrogate or torture people in these spaces, although the denial of space, light, and food and the rudimentary sanitary arrangements was all part of the process to break the prisoner's spirit.

The rooms in the lower levels have had the cells removed and now display board after board of photos of the prisoners held and tortured in S-21. These include the head shots you would expect as well as before and after photos of inmates being executed. The Khmer Rouge kept meticulous records of who was taken to S-21, including height and weight to go with the pictorial record. They had a single typewriter, I think, and one of the survivors was kept alive as he was an engineer able to repair it.

All sorts of people were detained in S-21, including a few westerners, although as I said above this was mainly for Khmer Rouge members who were suspected of betraying the revolution. The principal criteria for being held was to be denounced by someone else who had been detained. The Cambodian Genocide was not primarily racially motivated, although ethnic groups do seem to have been exterminated, as it encompassed anyone who might challenge the self-sufficient agrarian model the Khmer Rouge were intending to impose upon Cambodia (known as "Year Zero"). As such teachers, engineers, and intellectuals (such as anyone who wore glasses) were not required by the new state and so had to be weeded out. The aim was that Cambodia would only need Cambodians to run it and it would rely entirely on resources within Cambodia. Those who didn't die in the Killing Fields were sent to the countryside to grow rice or construct canals by hand.

It is a chilling vision of where such thinking goes followed to its logical conclusion. This was not done in the heat of the moment. Unlike, for example, aspects of the genocide in former-Yugoslavia, where groups of men would go somewhere, round everyone up and shoot them, this was meticulously planned and carried out over a sustained period of time.

Clearly anyone sent to S-21 would soon lose hope. The Khmer Rouge allowed no form of escape, however, using barbed wire as anti-suicide netting.

The site was liberated by the Vietnamese when they invaded in 1978/9. It is interesting that we heard the view that all of this slaughter was conducted at the instigation of Vietnamese spies. It is a view that is quite hard to credit, and is probably more rooted in the history of the area than hard evidence. Of course, once the Vietnamese invaded we had the unseemly site of the US administration backing the legitimacy of the Khmer Rouge regime as they were fighting the Vietnamese.

When the Vietnamese got to the camp the guards killed their last 14 victims and then fled. The graves of this last 14 are in the square surrounded by the school blocks, as seen in the picture above. Not everyone died. There were seven adult survivors and three children

There is also a small monument as a reminder never to forget the deeds carried out here.

On most days two or three of the seven survivors can be found in the grounds of S-21. They have each co-operated in writing a small book about their experiences which they will autograph for you, and pose for a picture either with you or for you. Bou Meng joined the Khmer Rouge with his wife but was not a party member. He wanted to help restore the King. He earned his living as a commercial artist working for cinemas mostly. He left secure employment to go into the jungle to support the revolution, before being denounced as a CIA or KGB spy. After a period of torture and interrogation he was spared in order to paint pictures of Pol Pot. He was not the only artist so saved, - there were a few others who also painted as well as a sculptor. Alas his wife did not survive. He never saw her again, live or dead, from the day they were both taken to S-21 on the pretext that Bou Meng was being taken to teach at the Fine Arts School.

The other survivor when we visited was Chum Mey. He was the man who repaired the typewriter. I haven't read his book yet. Reading both of them back to back was a bit too much for me to stomach.

There isn't a lot else you can say, really. Most of the victims were not killed at S-21. Although they had a gallows it was for torture, not execution. Once the guards and interrogators were done with the inmates they were taken to Choeung Ek, a Killing Field outside Phnom Penn.

Choeung Ek was a  graveyard for the Chinese community, situated just outside Phnom Penn before the Khmer Rouge turned it into a place of mass execution. Prisoners were taken from S-21 at night, moved in the dark so no one, both prisoners and Phnom Penn residents, would know what was happening.

At Choeung Ek most executions were carried out by being hit by iron bars and the like, with throats being cut by rough edged palm leaves to be sure. This method saved bullets. Whilst this may have been the main reason it also had a couple of other effects. The sheer hands-on brutality of the process tied the killers even closer to the regime. There's no chance of aiming to miss, - either you are involved in the killings or it is clear you are not. It is also quieter. In any event loud music was played at the site to cover the sounds of screams. Covering gunfire is more difficult.

There are 129 mass graves, of which 86 have been excavated. From these nearly 9,000 bodies have been recovered out of probably in excess of 20,000. Buddhist beliefs make the disturbing of the dead even more problematic than would normally be the case, so the remaining graves have been left. This means that heavy rains bring new bones and clothing of the murdered to the surface every year. This makes the site even more chilling. Nothing has been neatly tidied away.

It is a place where you have no idea of how to react correctly. Lots of people leave offerings of various types. Our guide, a Buddhist, remarked that these were all pointless as they mean nothing for the spirit unless a priest has been involved. I expect that most are doing so because others have done so before them and it is doing something rather than nothing. If in anyway it assuages grief or makes the visitor feel better about themselves then it is wrong. You cannot come here and leave feeling better about yourself as a human being. This was an act of imaginable horror carried out by people like us. If you think it isn't, then you are both wrong and open to being manipulated by those who would have their way through fear and hatred. It starts with "We must/can rely on ourselves alone" and ends up with "Let's kill everyone else". This is nothing to do with the inevitable consequences of Communism or Socialism. It is all to do with hate and fear, driven by Nationalism. The Khmer Rouge regarded themselves as a National Liberation Army as well as Communist Revolutionaries.

Never were the words "No man is an island" more true. Each man's death diminishes us all, regardless of where they are from.

In the centre of the field is a monument, or as it is called locally, a stupa. It evokes the Cambodian style of temple building in its construction. The windows you can see facing you are mostly full, floor to ceiling, with skulls and other remains. I did not feel the need to go in it.

There is a museum on the site, but otherwise all the buildings have been removed. The store shed for the tools and weapons used to dispose of the prisoners and the chemical store where they kept the DDT used to mask the smell of the rotting corpses have gone.

On reflection this is even more disturbing than I imagined. I hadn't really considered that this is a horror perpetrated by my generation. As I said above many of the guards ween young, often teenagers. The same age I was when this was being done. Young people swept up in a belief at first that they were liberating their country and going on to do a greater good. Their idealism was perverted and they became trapped in a process where they had to carry out these crimes or become victims themselves. No doubt some enjoyed what they were doing, but all of them?

I was also struck by the organisation and thought that went into arranging all of this. I've suggested above that what was done here was not the work of white hot passion. Someone found a photographer. Someone found a typewriter. Someone found suitable premises. Someone had the buildings modified. Someone worked out the workflow from building to building and from room to room.

Someone arranged the transport to Choeung Ek. Someone arranged the slaughter in an efficient and effective manner. Someone ensured that neither sight, nor sound nor smell gave all of this away. The level of organisation and calculation is formidable.

As someone who has spent their life as an administration manager, who has worked and run many projects, the finger prints of someone like me are all over this. Someone was given a series of problems to solve with finite resources and did so. It is a terrible, terrible, chilling thought. Evil has to be organised.

And it wasn't just in Phnom Penn. It wasn't just a few individuals. Before coming to S-21 we had visited a Killing Field memorial near Battambang, in the grounds of a temple called Samroung Knong

This stupa-like monument was built through private donations both local and from Cambodian communities overseas. This is a minor Killing Field, and less organised than S-21 it would appear. They think about 10,000 people were killed, many pushed down a well afterwards.

As with the stupa at Choeung-Ek the monument has windows filled with skulls and other skeletal remains.

The monument stands on a base where concrete cast reliefs show what happened, from the rounding up, the sorting, the executions and the mass forced marriages. These type of reliefs are very much a Cambodian architectural feature, as the famous Wats and buildings at Angkor are covered in them.

A friend of mine who went to Bosnia with IFOR once remarked of the people that he had met, who had done terrible things, that "They had colour TVs and washing machines. They were just like us." In a few years they had reduced themselves to living in squalor, killing their neighbours. Whilst Cambodia in the 1970s was a poorer country than former Yugoslavia in the 1980s and 1990s they were still people with hopes and aspirations who lived in well ordered civilized communities.

Anyone who ever says "it couldn't happen here" is ignoring the world around them and has no imagination.

So that's why I took my pictures, and those are my thoughts, properly organised, for now.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

WMMS Alumwell 12th March

Last Sunday saw me and Phil heading off to Wolverhampton for the West Midlands Military Show, now in its 41st year.

This was my first chance to take "Northampton 1460" to a show since we published in January.
We were representing the Northampton Battlefields Society, the Society if Ancients and the Battlefields Trust, so quite a tall order for just the two of us.

We thought we were there in good time but others were up before us. We were at the far end of the hall (someone has to be) wedged in between a Bolt Action game featuring aliens (I might have dreamt this as I'm a bit out of touch) and a WW2 memorabilia group who were doing their best to fill as much space as they could with their two jeeps and arsenal of weapons. It was a bit tight and by the time we'd got our tables sorted and our banners up we barely had room to breathe and the Warlords man behind us looked less than happy at his none too prominent pitch, which our banners seemed to be conspiring to conceal. Sorry.

The show was busy if not spectacular. It was good to catch up with Martin and Nigel at Peter Pig and sort through their stuff to find what I needed for my SCW game. Sometimes photos on the web just aren't good enough, or you just can't find what you need by browsing. A brief chat with Nigel outlining the sort of thing you want leads to him pulling a few packets out from the racks and you can eventually narrow things down to a suitable alternative. So, anyway I've got some AA MGs to go in the back if a few Zvezda trucks and some mortars and some Isabelino caps for head swaps.

Otherwise the retailers were a good mix, although no Dave Lanchester and no Ian Kay, both of whom I'd have liked to have given money to.

Most of the display games were big 28mm jobs, a 54mm game or two and some WW1 air war so nothing stunningly original although all well executed. I'd have liked to have tried Martin Goddard's new version of his Vietnam game "Men of Company B", but I never get enough time if I'm on a stand.

We ran the game half a dozen or so times and sold 4 copies to players. Everyone who played it enjoyed it, so that was positive. We also did a deal with Dave Ryan who took a number of copies, so you will be able to buy through Caliver Books at shows we can't get too.

The nice thing about doing a stand like the SoA is that eventually everyone you know who comes to the show will walk past and say hello. It was lovely to catch up with Jim, who I last met nearly three years ago when he came for a visit and gave me a load of plastic El Cid figures. Alas for me he had to move for work and he is the other side of Wolverhampton, so this was a half-way-between-us show. Then Tim Cockitt and other ex-WDers stopped by and one or two I met at the Guild of Battlefield Guides. The latter were really useful as it meant that Malcolm Wanklyn stopped by as well, so I was able to thank him for the pleasure I've got out of his ECW books.

The show started to wind down half an hour before official closing, so we were away at a reasonable time, only to be surprised by the M54/M6 traffic.I drove this road through rush hour for nearly six months and the traffic was very nearly as bad as then. 

Then we got held up for nearly an hour on the M6 because someone had flipped their car over.

Apart from that a satisfactory day out.

Next up, Campaign at Milton Keynes 6th/7th May.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Northampton 1460 on Boardgame Geek

I have an approved page on BGG for the game now. You can find it here: link.

I will be adding more information and links as time goes by, but there's a place for you to record your comments and ownership now, should you wish to.

The FAQ page has been updated recently too: link.

More recently the press release was printed in the Battlefield Trust magazine, which has generated some interest.

This weekend - 12th March - I shall be at the Alumwell WMMS show with the game and copies for sale. Perhaps I'll see you there.

Monday, 13 February 2017

A Day in the West Country (3) Western Approaches

Finally it was Phil's turn to entertain us. He chose to give us his "Sink The Bismark" game.

He made use of Richard's green/grey cloth to give the impression of a cold dark seac, and used some white smokey stuff to give the flavour of fog banks. The picture in the corner indicates how rough the sea is.

I was the Bismark and Prinz Eugen trying to avoid the Hood, Prince of Wales and Ark Royal battle groups and get out into the Atlantic to sink some ships.

Finally I blundered into the Hood and Devonshire. Attempts to avoid them failed. The cards represent your attack options against the enemy - Big Guns, and Torpedoes, together with things like Fire Control and Drill that improve your effectiveness. Here both my ships are concentrating on the Hood (blue cards from Bismark, green card from the PE). The number of cards is the number of golf tees you pull from a bag.

Blues are misses, reds are hits and whites could be either depending on the circumstances.

The number of hits enable you to draw cards from your opponents hand. These are temporary out of action and are placed behind your ship so you can't use them until they are resolved and become permanent or are repaired. You have a Damage Control and Drill team in your hand, and you can swap these out for things you'd rather not be hit. Like your guns. If your ship has good armour then you have several armour cards in your hand so reducing the chances of your vital bits being hit.

I was taking a bit of a pasting, but I did manage to inflict some permanent damage on Richard. I thought I was for it, and then....

...a couple of lucky hits and I took out the Main Magazine and the Damage Control team on the Devonshire (red cards) and also the Main Magazine on the Hood (white cards). I had previously permanently knocked out the Hood's Damage Control capability (I didn't know this), and so was able to sail out into the Atlantic, with the Royal Navy lighting up the sky behind me.

It's a quick, neat system that gets away from the traditional hull hit point system and focuses on which bits of the ship have been hit.

I like it a lot.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

A Day in the West Country (2) The Game in Spain...

So, I was up next. I was torn between taking "It's getting a bit Chile" and "If You Tolerate This" and in the end plumped for the latter for two reasons. Firstly, the rules for IYTT are stuck in my head and I might get myself more confused than normal and, secondly, because it would be good to play it with someone outside our immediate group who would bring a different perspective.

I set up the terrain and scenario to be very similar to the last game as it went okay and neither Phil nor Richard had played in it. Richard took the Basques and Phil got the Fascists.

The table was slightly smaller and the two sides got to grips with each other even quicker than before. Phil's inability to roll higher than a two on the initiative dice meant that the Nationalist +1 did him no good at all, and Richard started first in all the turns. He also got a really effective airstrike in turn one (no pictures I'm afraid) that pinned Phil's right flank in position.

Richard's first move was to push some militia forward very quickly to occupy one of the villages. Phil countered with his armoured car and cavalry, trying to shoot the defenders out of the position. (BTW sorry for the lighting in these pictures. Richard has some really nice high level spots in Shedquarters West which are easier on the eye, but I'm afraid that for this table I was really missing the lower level more harsh light from the fluorescent tubes in Shedquarters).

Phil was able to get his forces up to the centre village fairly quickly and seize the bridge as Richard's militia were easing their way into it from the other side.

The wave of Russian, er, Republican, armour swept across the board, supported by Basque infantry. Phil was able to take the initiative, however, and slipped some infantry into the village (no picture of this).

This gave Richard the opportunity in the following turn to launch a combined infantry and armour assault for almost the first time ever in a game of IYTT. You'll remember that my attempt to do the same in the previous game fell apart when my activations failed.

The position was soon reinforced by more Basque infantry, lining the river bank.

In the centre fire was being exchanged as the battle for the village warmed up. The Falange on the river bank are taking fire from one of the tanks off to the right out of shot.

Phil is able to fight his way through the village, evicting Richard's troops and taking back control of the church .

On the other side of the board Phil was finally able to get his howitzers deployed and started to shell the village.

My photographic record is really rather poor for the whole game, possibly as Richard had never played before so needed a lot of umpiring support (in a good way) to learn the game. I have no record of Phil's ill fated flanking cavalry manoeuvre in support of his armoured car, and the action generally in that area. There was some discussion of how badly the cavalry came out of the encounter and whether they should have a retire option when they come under fire. I need to think a bit more about that as I have an artillery retirement rule which players have historically completely ignored, preferring to hold onto the ground they occupy. However these last two or three games have been the first where cavalry has got on the board, so maybe time to reconsider.

We finished with the Republicans clinging on to two of the villages whilst the Nationalists were firmly entrenched in the middle of the table. It took them a long time to recover from the first round airstrike which disrupted their right, and I may need to look again at the effectiveness of the air rules. Phil was not helped by his failure in every turn to win either the initiative or get his air support into play.

Richard declared the game enjoyable and held onto a copy of the rules, so that is positive. I'm pleased, as re-development of the system seems to be going pretty well.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

A Day in the West Country(1) What's The Point?

On Friday I went down to Wiltshire to meet up with Phil and Richard for a day of wargaming. Three white fifty-somethings in a purpose built wargames room in a picturesque Wiltshire village. Who says this isn't an inclusive hobby?

We managed four games in the day, first up being "Sharpe Practice" the popular "large skirmish" game from the Too Fat Lardies. This was an interesting prospect as neither Phil nor I had played it before, having both heard good things about it.

Richard got out some of his rather nicely painted Front Rank figures, of which we had about 50 aside. So, as someone who grew up with "Flintlock & Ramrod" from the Old West Skirmish group definitely a large skirmish.

The game has an off-to-on table deployment system, and our deployment points were marked with a cavalry figure each. I grabbed the Brits, so Phil had to manage the French. Obviously with much thinking.

Early doors he got on 6 voltiguers and 24 line infantry, presumably representing 3 sections (don't know if this is a Napoleonic concept. No doubt someone can tell me).

Movement is random by drawing officer chits from a bag. There are also other chits that give extra commands and end the turn, so you don't always know if you'll get to move all of your units.

I got on my two units of line infantry and pushed my one unit of skirmishers towards the wood on my right. My left hand unit is cunningly hiding behind the crest line.

My skirmishers worked their way into the wood, where lurked some of their French opposite numbers.

Then, I was able to move my left hand line up and over the crest....

...where I gave fire at Phil's right hand voltiguers. A waste of a first volley, perhaps? Who cares, - I killed most of them and they took loads of "Shock" and fled to the back of the table.

The skirmishers exchanged fire in the wood, - or at least I shot at Phil - and I hit some chaps and wounded their officer.

As Phil moved up a unit to support his voltiguers in the wood I was able to volley into them with my other line infantry.

I hit quite a few people. Now, pay attention to this bit. The French line blunder into the wood and contact some of my skirmishers. Fisticuffs ensue, and one of the French squads gets badly beaten up and expelled from the wood in a bad state (??)....

... however, Phil's outnumbered voltiguers then counter-attacked through his line, and my skirmishers were ejected from the wood in short order. Right.

By this point we were heading for lunchtime and I had got Phil well on the back foot. We declared it a British win, and Richard went off to make sandwiches.

So, what about a verdict? Well, ignore the nice figures, because this is about the game mechanisms. The system has a number of interesting mechanisms that mesh together to produce a challenging and occasionally tense game. Mostly the system is clear and clean and gives unequivocal results. In a case of parallel development there were a couple of things in there that I have stuck in some of my homegrown rules and thought that I'd made them up myself, so can't complain about them. Admittedly, most of the system is based on a single figure rolling a 6 or other number to hit which isn't ground breaking, but it is done well.

Where I had the problem was I wasn't sure what I thought the game was simulating. I don't know if small groups of men fought like this in the Napoleonic period. I'm inclined to think it is unlikely, and then it hit me. What this set of rules is for (and the clue is in the title) is to enable you to play games of the battles that you see on TV in programmes like "Sharpe", where they try to make 30 men look like an army, or a battalion. It's almost like that set of rules for 1960s Sci-Fi (7TV) which is designed not to produce realistic results but what you saw on your TV set in "The Avengers" and such like.

My personal view is that if you want to play low level actions with 50 figures side you'd be better off seeking out one of Pete Berry's "File Leader" style sets of rules, where figures are deployed as companies on movement trays. They actually simulate a style of warfare for which we've got some decent evidence.

Of course, if you don't care about any of that, then I guess it gives a decent, enjoyable game.