Monkeys With Typewriters

Discussion at the gamesquad.com ASL forums generated the question of what would happen among scenario designers presented with the same material. To that end, a contest was organized at the start of September 2008. Ian Percy collected data on a real world situation from forum participants who contributed materials related to the fighting at Carpiquet airfield, during Operation Windsor in early July 1944. The battle was selected after discussion on the forum.1

The real-world battle pitted a reinforced Canadian brigade, supported by divisional artillery assets and a regiment of armour, against elements of the 12th SS Panzer Division. The information provided to contestants included a map, tracts from the Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War by C.P. Stacey, and a number of photographs from the Canadian Library and Archives online.

Judging was done by a panel of "experts" rather than by popular vote. Steven Linton, Ian Percy, Tom Repetti, David Roth, and James Taylor all volunteered their services as judges. Kerry Smith served as "Scenario Anonymizer Guy" (SAG), accepting submissions and reformatting them before sending them to the judges to maintain the anonymity of the participants.

The rules of the contest were presented as follows:

The Aim

To see how scenario designers would deal with the same source material to design a scenario based on a limited action. 10 similar scenarios or 10 different ones?

The Rules

1. Design a scenario based on the attached (material). Extra research cannot be legislated against but please acknowledge that it's been done with the submission.
2. No limit on size or length of scenario, big or small is good.
3. Submissions will be sent to the Judging Panel for discussion and blind Final Judgement i.e. no designers name on the card.
4. Rights will remain with the designers, but it'd be in the spirit of the contest for them to allow the scenarios to be made available as a free download.
5. Format doesn't matter. I have Word and Powerpoint scenario cards if anyone wants to use them, but I'll reformat any entries to a consistent format before passing them to the judges...

The Timing

Submissions in by 5th October 2008. Judging starts ASAP after, with 6 weeks judging time allocated.
2

Following up to enquiries on the forum, Ian Percy responded with the following:

First and foremost, the question...is whether this is a contest or an exercise? I'd have to answer that it's a bit of both, but I see it as an exercise more than a contest. Oh sure, there's some healthy competition there to liven things up, but we're not playing for huge prizes here. I'd hope that the scenarios produced will one day end up being in a publishable form, but up to that day, they're effectively PT scenarios. Some may well be more ready than others

How much playtesting? However much you feel comfortable with! Think you've got a workable scenario with a solo playing or two? Send it. Got an army of playtesting rats locked in a basement who've played it and checked it for historical accuracy a million times? Send it. If you're not comfortable with where your scenario is at come submission time, then send it anyway and tell us why you think its not ready.

I'd like to see this as the first part of a process. First it'll be interesting to see how everyone is thinking, and second it'll be really cool to see these develop post submission. Lets make it as much a two way street as possible (three way including the authors, judges and peanut gallery?) and try and get some insights and hopefully some Cool Scenarios out of it. With a couple of nominal prizes thrown in for good measure.
3

Thirteen scenarios were submitted, from a diverse range of players, including some well known and established designers.

Tom Repetti reported the following on October 15th:

We're still bandying about how we want to present the results. I'm hoping we'll just do it as two groups - the Top 5 and Bottom 8. That way nobody gets too excited or hurt. We'll also sift through our comments and provide a few choice bits of feedback, both as constructive criticism and self-defense. And in order to give everyone an idea of what kind of dysfunctional personalities we had sitting in the judge's chambers this time out.

From there, the Top 5 all get playtested by all 6 judges over the next 2 months or so. They then rate each scenario again, and we have a winner, with full bragging rights therefrom. Medals are awarded, much back-slapping and mutual admiration, everybody goes home happy, and we do it again sometime soon.
4

On December 17th, the announcement of final placings was made;

#5 Fourth Of July by Chris Olden
Board 53, 6 Turns
This scenario depicts the attack by Le regiment de La Chaudiere and the Fort Garry Horse on Southern part of Carpiquet, held by 3rd company, 3/26 SS. The Canadians have a half board of OG to cover to close with the village with Shermans and Wasps to do the job, and a pretty vanilla German OB defending, aided by 150mm OBA AND rocket OBA. In the end, we all thought the scenario looked great "out of the box" and had the potential to be excellent, with some great flovour SSRs including ABTF cellars and Fanatic Strongpoints but needed some serious tweaking, especially the OBA. Our judges comments included (and I'll post the fuller ones when we start a thread for each):

  • "Oh sh*t, all my Canadians are dead" - Ian

  • "At first glance this one looked real neat! OBA, Rocket OBA, strong leaders, fun toys including one of my favz - the German 75mm Inf gun, plus two Wasps. But after two playings, we came to an agreement that this one was just weighed far too heavy for the Germans. The OBA and Rocket OBA (both 150mm) never go away per SSR. And the Blazes spread like...like wildfire. Half the town was blazing away by end of game. I'd like to see some major
    changes done as I think this one could be a very good scen. " - Dave Roth

#4 50 Butchers by Glenn Houseman
Boards 53 and 35, 5.5 Turns
Rather more of a generic "Canadians attack Carpiquet" this one, with a great title. This generated more discussion about its balance than any other scenario and was played multiple times. As it is, there were enough questions about it to rank it 4th, but at least one judge reckoned it was the scenario with most potential. Some comments:

  • "Fun toys for both sides, good mix of units, smallish playing area yet room to move around with three avenues of
    approach...what's not to like? The Germans are just a bit too strong in this one. " - Dave Roth

  • "Good sound basis for a scenario that could have replay value, but the Canucks are way too tough. Even playing like crap against a very good player (Steve Linton), I was still able to push him back and basically gain the advantage in the scenario by T2." - James Taylor

  • Dave and Steve have a similar (amicable) difference of opinion about this one with Steve retort to Dave's assertion that "An aggressive German player will come away with a victory about 75% of the time." being "I'll see your aggressive German and kick his arse to Berlin"

#3 Party Boys by Pete Shelling
Boards 10 and 43 with Overlay 6.
This one stands out as being the only one featuring a German counterattack, a nice touch. Some comments...

  • "A little beefier than the first two picks, but still can be played in an evening. At first glance, with the Canadians only having one Piat and the Germans three Panthers it looked like a lopsided affair for sure. But the VC's and SSR's limited the Panther's impact on play." - Dave Roth

  • "Very one dimensional. The Germans must attack up their left flank in-order to have a chance at their VC. A proper Canadian will occupy the heights and look to delay the Germans. I would prefer to see something that opens the scenario up dimensionally… possibly a secondary victory condition that would steer the Germans towards the other flank" - James Taylor

  • "ok, but could use a tweak or two - give the Brits another PIAT and somehow make it more feasible/desirable for the Germans to attack along their right instead of along the bd43 walled compound on their left." - Tom Repetti

#2 Lalande Leads by Bill Brodie
Board 17
This one really stands out as a very different scenario to all others submitted, having an Urban Guerillas-like SSR which generates SS half squads or triggers an OBA attack. I think all of us who played it had a giggle at the sniper-generated shenanigans and ranked it for what it is, popcorn, fun ASL. I wouldn't like to play it for kidneys, but that isn't its aim. Comments....

  • "I suspect the German SAN is too high, which is going to result in too many Bad Things happening to the somewhat fragile Canadian force, but I'm s ure there'll be games where the Canadians just roll through with a horde of halfsquads." - Tom Repetti

  • "Popcorn. I didn’t look forward to setting this one up… but it really was quite a bit of fun. There is a sort of “forlorn hope” aspect to the Canucks. Jazz and I had a few giggles at the weirdness of this one. "- James Taylor

  • "I liked this one for a couple reasons..a small playing area, small OoB's, short enough for an evening's play. Even so, both sides have a few options on both defense and offense. The only thing that was both a plus and a minus was the SSR about Sniper attacks" - Dave Roth

So that leaves only 1 and the winner is

#1 Streets Of Carpiquet by Kevin Meyer
DASL Boards b and d. 5 Turns
An attack by the North Shore regiment this time to try and take 2 buildings on board d. This one seemed to impress everyone right off the bat and played well straight out of the box, with plenty of options for both sides and a plethora of hard decisions at every turn. Judges comments....

  • "There are so few DASL scenarios so this one caught my eye right away. I was not disappointed. Again, short, small OoB's but some fun toys for both sides." Dave Roth

  • "Solid scenario design, and probably the best right out the gate IMHO. The problem with this scenario is the gully. It is very difficult for the Canucks to get past the gully at the end game." - James Taylor 5

The success of the contest led to a second installment in 2009, currently in the judging stage.

Notes

  1. Not realized at the time, was the fact that three scenarios using this battle as inspiration had previously been published: TAC 7 Piège à Carpiquet, KH 7 Windsor Knot, and Canadian Wargamer's Journal had also published a scenario dealing with Carpiquet. The fact was deemed immaterial when it came up during the contest.

  2. http://forums.gamesquad.com/showpost.php?p=1049342&postcount=1

  3. http://forums.gamesquad.com/showpost.php?p=1050883&postcount=97

  4. http://forums.gamesquad.com/showpost.php?p=1064069&postcount=397

  5. http://forums.gamesquad.com/showpost.php?p=1089864&postcount=1


Battles of Carpiquet

Developer: Monkeys With Typewriters
Publisher: Self published
Date of Release: 2008
Components: ► 13 ASL scenarios

Listing of Scenarios

No.

Name

Designer

1

Field of Fire

Steven Swann

2

Fourth of July

Chris Olden

3

Fifty Butchers

Glenn Houseman

4

Stalwart Sons

Gary Fortenberry

5

Carpipquet Battle

John Bock

6

Rifles Standing Where They Fell

Grayston Ulery

7

The Streets of Carpiquet

Keven Meyer

8

The Hangars at Carpiquet

Bruce Childs
9 LeLande Leads Bill Brodie
10 Party Boys Pete Shelling
11 A Choice Morsel Ian Percy
12 Tenacious Defense Steven Swann
13 Prelude to Caen Michael Dorosh

 

 

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