Mittwoch, 23. Mai 2012

Fog of War - A must have for realistic wargaming?

In this post I want to discuss the need for "Fog of War" (FoW) as an essential point in designing a tabletop game.

Short definition of the term FoW in context of tabletop: Without FoW you can see the whole plate and all units of the enemy. Of course that is not a close representation of reality. In a more realistic scenario all enemy units are hidden till they are in the range of effective reconnaissance (e.g. scouts). FoW simulates this natural limits of recon in a tabletop game.

If you are interested in a better definition in context of military: Greetings to Clausewitz!

We used to play without FoW for many years. It seemed to be very complicated to simulate hidden units with a free movement (without Hex fields or any other type of predefined movement). In our last games we tried "Blips" (papers that represents the infantry or vehicles) and the opinions were divided over this experiment.

Here you can see some Blips in action.

I´d like to discuss some pros and contras of FoW.

- The quotation by Molke "Kein Plan überlebt den ersten Feindkontakt" (no plan survives the first contact with the enemy) can happen. You placed your units. The enemy did the same but now you only see some "Blips" - not the units behind. The game starts and you scout some "Blips" to expose the units behind - ouch! Your harmless russian BT-7 tank stands vis-à-vis with a german Tiger. Now you have to proof your skills as a general, right?

- I felt more tension. The Blips were moved. You are thinking "hell, what drives so fast?" or "this Blip could be slow driven scout to buffalo me or a really big tank". This knowledge gap produces a good mood right from the beginning. None of the units are in fire range but the game is thrilling.

- The other way around - FoW is a tool for a general to make strategic or unexpected movements to get an advantage in battle. As a player I have more options.

- Blips cannot represent "hidden" units. I see a Blip and I know there is a unit.

- Blips cannot represent the height of a unit and that can become a burden when discussing if this unit (Blip) can be seen by a scout or not.

- Before starting a game you have to tinker the Blips and that costs time. Even more time if you want to represent different classes of vehicles or their specifics like size or weight.

- For risk-avoiding players its even more difficult and time consuming to decide their lineup. More options lead to longer turns.

- A problem rises when a granade scatters on top of a Blip. If it is a vehicle and the Blip represents the right size of it, everthing is fine. If it is a group of infantry you have to call "Scotty" - that´s a real problem! Does the granade damage the whole group? Or just a unlucky number of soldiers? Or should the shot be defined as "missed"?

What do you think? Any more Pros or Contras? Which FoW rules do you play?


  1. Well you're leaving out an important problem with fog of war:
    Playing with "blibs" prevents that we use our lavely painted models... An enormous disadvantage!

    Joking aside:
    I love games that are fast to play and more or less easy to handle. "Blips" for the beginning of the game are nice and using them during the deployment leads to interesting surprises.

    But on the other hands there shoudl be simple rules to replace the "blips" with real models as soon as necessary.

    Just my two pence...


    1. We should test our rules next time again, Monty.

      Aren´t they simple enough?
      Blips will be replaced when...
      ...a scout accomplished his test. enemy unit is within a range of 30cm and can see the Blip.
      ...the Blip fires.

  2. I agree with Monty the look of wargaming is the figures amongst the terrain. A person could use a figure/vihicles painted grey and use them as the blips therefore still getting a nice visual on the table. Thus a figure would represent a squad or not but you will only know after scouting.John from MiniatureZone used this method at one stage.

    1. Thx for your comment! To use grey figures or vehicles as blips is a good idea. Just use a hand full of unpainted german troops - usually they are grey. But who wants to build and paint 5-10 grey vehicles? And you should have at least different sizes to represent Jeeps, halftracks, tanks or trucks.

      Maybe I should discuss in a second post what information have to be represented by a blip - just a unit or group? scale? type? weight?

      what do you think?

  3. Your terrain is super an idea to get the blog going post some photos of you buildings\terrrain and figures\vehicles.

    1. Your wish is my command!
      In one of my next posts I will present the proud red army and some other stuff ;-)