Destructive and Formidable by David Blackmore is a quantitative look at British infantry doctrine using period sources from the British Civil Wars of the seventeenth century up to just before the Napoleonic wars. If anything you can see the constancy, which drove the success in battle of British forces, even when outnumbered.
Development of British Infantry Doctrine
This has got a lot of the detail you need to model infantry battles in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It’s not quite at the level of the WW2 operational research, but it’s good enough. There are comparative weights and rates of fire. Measured hit rates based on range, and commentary on doctrine and how certain tactics worked in certain situations but not others. In short everything you need to design a game (although there’s clearly a morale factor, which Destructive and Formidable covers but makes no attempt to quantify).
There’s a fairly readable style, and the book isn’t long. The examples are of individual battles and focus only on what the British infantry did, their immediate context and the doctrine/tactics of their immediate enemy. The only place there’s anything more in context, and discussion of the commanders impact, is the chapter on the North American irregular wars. This latter chapter also touches on failures of leadership, and shows that there is an effect of good leadership on the successful application of doctrine. The defeats are more attributable to poor leadership and lack of confidence than to failure of doctrine.
Core Infantry Doctrine
The core of British infantry doctrine was to reserve fire until they were close enough to ensure that it was effective. Once fired from close range the British infantry then closed to hand to hand, with clubbed muskets in the early period and bayonets later. Only one or two round were fired, often from a salvee or volley. This kept the effect concentrated, which increased the shock value.
Why didn’t British infantry doctrine spread?
If British infantry doctrine was so successful why did other nations not copy it? Blackmore shows a relative isolation in the British officer corps from the debate of firepower vs shock which European armies seem to have spent the period arguing about. British infantry doctrine seems to have developed by trial and error during the British civil wars to get decisive battles based on the available people and technology. Early civil war battles were inconclusive, yet the British on both sides strove to improve effectiveness. They got closer before opening fire, massed to fire salvos and closed with the enemy to finish them off. Europe spent the same period in the Thirty Years War yet never came to the same conclusion. Drill manuals from the period emphasise fire, the cavalry doctrine shows shock of impact is what works.
What made the British successful?
My suspicion is one of the main things that keeps the British Army successful in this period is a continuity of experience. From the civil wars there is a near continuous presence of warfare. More importantly the outcome of the civil war is the establishment of a standing army. Even though this is supposed to be temporary, Parliament needs to renew it every year, it remains continuously in being. This means that soldiers pass on their experience to the new recruits, and many officers are professionals. Serving in one war as juniors and returning to later wars as commanders of battalions and armies.
Designing a game
My copy of this is flagged in many places, and there are a lot of marginal notations. I fully expect to use it as the core of an infantry combat model for one or more games. There’s a good model explained in the book. Maximum effective range is about 80 yards, at 100 yards less than 1% of shots result in a casualty. At 25-30 yards about a quarter of shots cause casualties. Closing with the enemy is pretty much always decisive (they either break or die). Infantry firing by platoon can stop cavalry with firepower alone if they reserve fire until the cavalry is about 30 yards away. Similarly if you fire at charging Highlanders at about 10 yards (or less) then it ends the charge…
These rules are intended to cover small unit actions at a platoon plus to company minus in size. The sort of thing that has happened a lot over the last decade or so for most armies.
There are some gaps in these, but it shows the structure. The primary gap is that I’ve not yet properly incorporated the effects of casualties, and there isn’t a proper OR driven basis for this (there’s loads of source material though). There is a morale driven combat model though, that determines whether attacks will be successful or not.
Attacker casualties don’t seem to be determined by the success or failure of the attack. They are more affected by whether the defenders are engaged. Defender casualties are completely different when the defence is overwhelmed (about 80% including killed, wounded and prisoners). If the attack fails and defenders are well sited then they can take no casualties.
Here are the rules, both as open document text ODT and PDF. Also another ODS spreadsheet that shows some of the workings out of probabilities and charts etc.
So far this half a shelf is my 1689 reading list for the proposed megagame about the Glorious Revolution. I’ve read some of this already, and marked up the interesting bits. Notably Bonnie Dundee and the Bruce Lenman books as well as Glencoe by John Sadler which sets the scene for the 1692 massacre very well with a decent treatment of the 1689 campaign.
What I’m largely missing is stuff on the events in Ireland, I know that there is a load of material on the campaigns there. Albeit much of it biased by the sectarianism that continues into the present day. My bookshelf coverage of Ireland is much later than this, mainly the recent Troubles and the early 20th century events.
If you can recommend any books about the 1688-1694 period that would be good. Ideally I want material that covers the administration of the armies and government as much as the series of events. As the say Amateurs talk tactics, professionals love logistics.
Recommend me some books for my 1689 reading list please?
In November 1688 William of Orange landed at Torbay with a combined force of Dutch and British troops. Early in 1689 the English Parliament declared for William. In Scotland and Ireland things were less clear cut, Scotland was finely balanced and Ireland was more Jacobite than Williamite. The events of 1689 determined who sat on the throne, and Britain becoming a global power.
A 1689 megagame will let players explore this and see if the outcome was a foregone conclusion or not (I don’t believe it was as easy as history makes out, and the Jacobite rebellions of the first half of the 18th Century bear out the continuing support for King James II and his descendants).
The 1689 megagame will be a political and military game about the events of 1689 that historically lead to the overthrow of King James II and his replacement with William & Mary.
The events in Scotland must be played
Events in Ireland could be played
events in England are unlikely to be played (it was much less contentious)
The 1689 megagame should cover the strategic options of both Kings, and the immediate political issues from the ruling classes of the Kingdoms. Specifically there should be a real dilemma for players on whether to switch sides (and at what point to jump, and whether to jump back). Historically changing sides was common, and some major figures did so more than once.
Underlying this there is a military game. Although all out war was avoided in England (the memory of the Civil Wars was too recent) this was not true in Scotland or Ireland (where the memory was still recent, but there were more scores to settle and force of arms was used more often). Significantly the settlement was rapid in England because William threatened to take his army home.
There are also resource constraints. Money needs to be borrowed, and paid back, to finance the campaigns. William appears to have planned better and has more immediate resources.
Potential Structure for a 1689 Megagame
William has a Government in London and the Netherlands. It supplies him with money and troops and he needs to engage politically with both Parliaments. He is also fighting a war with France, of which this becomes a wider part.
Decisions here are about deployment of resources and diplomatic efforts to close down support for James, and ensure that he does not have to get blood on his hands directly. His orders in late 1688 specifically allow James to escape, he was worried that elements of the English aristocracy would push him into a position where a captured James would have to be executed.
Members of the government (not William himself) could potentially be subject to desertion to James, so they need to be kept onside.
Scaling at the lower end this can be a control role, in a high turnout game it could be a small player team to co-ordinate across Scotland and Ireland and do some diplomacy (via control).
James’s Government in exile
As with William King James II has some loyal followers with him. Initially he is in France, having fled London in December 1688. After getting help from the French he returns to Ireland to raise an army to fight against William’s troops. Throughout the period his government is in letter communications with a number of officials and sympathisers across the three kingdoms to keep them in play as his loyal subjects.
Within his cabinet there is a high level of political intrigue and this leads to it being dysfunctional. In particular the Drummond brothers are hated by many who are otherwise loyal to James. There are also other enmities, often borne of the same issues that lead to William being invited over.
Defections and desertions from and to James are common.
Scaling this could be a control role in a small game. In a larger turnout it would be useful to play some of the Cabinet roles with James as Control. In a very large game then there could be a Hitler’s Henchmen style sub game going on with this team.
This represents the Nobles, Clergy and Gentry of Scotland. It met in March 1689 and was initially neutral, however when Viscount Dundee left it then it eventually declared for William & Mary. Potentially this could have been different. Orange or Lemon deals with this area and I’d re-use it as a sub-game in a 1689 megagame.
In effect this group of players hold the Government in Scotland in their control. They have agreement of who is the King, and to some extent the office holders of the Scottish Government are drawn from their ranks. Which way the Convention jumps will have a major impact on the course of the game (if they went for King James it could lead to him landing in Scotland rather than Ireland and calling on the Scottish Army to march south (it was disbanded at Reading in December along with the English Army)).
Scaling this needs at least 7 players, of which two are staunch supporters of one of the Kings. If the ‘wrong’ King is chosen by the convention there is a role for these characters elsewhere in military opposition to the decision. The minimal player set are the leaders of the main interest groups, most of whom are undecided. In a medium sized game there are roles for up to 20 members of the Convention, the decided factions get a little larger and more undecided players are added. Each of the undecided will have agendas they want to see to gain their support, and a fear of being on the wrong side. It will take longer to make the Convention choose with more players, but it should become decisive if lobbied correctly.
These are a disparate bunch, with internal conflict within them. Typically the Chiefs are well educated men (many are university graduates, or have studied). However they have a distrust of central government and obey only in so far as the King is willing to enforce things. They recognise authority in force of arms rather than de jure. An internal power struggle will be seen as a golden opportunity to settle old scores and raid for plunder in the guise of supporting the King.
There are few that can control Highland clans, their Chiefs and people they respect. An example of this is the recent Battle of Maol Ruadh (anglicised as ‘Mulroy’) in June 1688. Though government troops were involved, the fight was essentially a localised, private power struggle between clans (the MacIntosh clan settling a land dispute against the Keppoch MacDonalds). It was the result of deeply-entrenched, on-going clan tensions exacerbated by decades of political upheaval and lack of centralised authority in the Highlands. The battle of Mulroy highlights King James’ tenuous political authority and inability to maintain order in Scotland.
Scaling the major clans need to be played, ideally with at least two players per clan to allow dealing with both political and military issues (or both sides simultaneously if they aren’t active military). This would make for at least eight players (two each of the Grants, Camerons, MacDonalds and Campbells – although the last have at least one in the Convention). With a larger turnout there are 18 major Chiefs that were involved in the 1689 battles that could be played. There is also the possibility of running the clan sub-game in a similar way to the ancient celt game.
James II disbanded the armies, but William brought his own loyal troops from the Netherlands, including a Scots Lowland brigade. There were also some other Lowland troops raised either to fight for William, or re-mobilised by William. There are also some castle garrisons.
Conventional forces operating North of the Highland line are hard to keep supplied and operational. Also the terrain makes a lot of the training and doctrine hard to implement. The primary military leader for William was Major General Mackay, a highlander who had spent over 20 years in the service of the Netherlands. He has considerable freedom of action in how he deals with Jacobite forces in Scotland. His primary constraints are money and logistics.
Scaling the conventional forces need 2-3 players as a minimum. They have a standard command structure which means that the subordinate players have less freedom of action. If the game was larger there could be scope to add some liaison officers and logistics officers, but this is unlikely to take the need to more than 5 players. The key determining factor is the number of independent forces that could be created and the level of diplomacy done by military players. In the latter case I would expect this to be done by players from the Convention once it had reached a consensus on the King it was supporting.
There are three significant castles, Edinburgh, Stirling and Dumbarton.
Edinburgh is a player role and casts an important shadow over the convention. The other two could be run by control if necessary. They guard important routes to and from the Highlands and are nominally controlled by the King. Other castles exist but these are private strongholds.
The entire revolution took just under two years, but mostly the decisive phase is between March 1689 and August 1689. Ireland takes another year to mop up, there are also some loose ends in Scotland to deal with after the clans return home after the defeat at Dunkeld.
Potentially the Convention decision cycle could be extended from when it actually happened to allow it to go in parallel with the raising of the clans. That would allow the events to take place over 8-10 turns of about 40 minutes each (longer first turn and variable end). This would give a notional turn period of about two weeks.
Thoughts or comments?
Would you play in a 1689 megagame if it was worked up?
is there anything else you think could be included or left out?
would you want to work with me to make it happen?
leave a comment and let me know what you think. If there is enough interest I’ll approach Megagame Makers and see if it can go on the programme.
One of the things that I often do when I am writing a story is to sketch a map of the area where the story takes place. This helps me to visualise what the characters will be able to see. The thing is though, you can’t just bang down stuff randomly (well you can, but it isn’t realistic – you want your world to be realistic don’t you?)
How settlements form
Typically people build houses where there is shelter from the elements, adequate supplies of food, water and fuel. They also like to build them in easily accessible places for the most part. All villages and towns grow from farmstead, places a farmer, and his family, decided to settle.
However not all of these farmsteads ends up as a village. There are loads of outlying farms in populated countryside, some of them are ancient or at least built on the remains of an ancient farm. What distinguishes those that get bigger?
There’s an element of luck, but mainly it is because they either have an abundance of some resource or they lie along a convenient route. Trade is the reason most of our towns exist. Certainly this is true of the most ancient ones. There exceptions to this, but these tend to be modern capital cities (Washington DC being an example) or new towns intended to displace people from densely populatedinner cities (like Milton Keynes, or Cumbernauld).
Look closely at the next handful of villages you drive through. There is a clear difference between an extended farm
with houses for the labourers and a proper village. Villages tend to have a focal point, usually a green space, but sometimes a market square. Modern villages still have them, there will be an open area possibly with a children’s play area. Around this there will be a Church, possibly a pub, a shop or two and often a war memorial. Even if there isn’t an open area there will be a cluster of the Church (with graveyard), a pub, shop and war memorial. These will be surrounded with houses, perhaps along a single linear road. If there is a second cross road this may also have houses along it. The cross roads (sometimes a Y) will often run on two sides of the Church, or the village green if there is one.
Optional extras, depending on the size of the village
village hall (needs about 1,000 residents to be viable);
school (needs a couple of hundred kids aged 4-11 within five miles to work);
more shops and pub (scale up shops per 200 inhabitants, and pubs per thousand);
larger villages have more streets, keeping everything within minimum walking distance.
Of course when you are world building for a story you make the village suit the narrative that you are conveying. It doesn’t really matter if the shops, pubs or anything else is economically viable. If you need an internal rivalry then two pubs might be a way to do it. If you need a football team, or a Women’s Institute then write in the Pavilion and pitch, or the village hall or whatever you need.
A key feature of villages is that typically people know who there neighbours are, and in the smaller more settled ones far outside the commuter belt, the lineages of all the residents. Or at least some of the inhabitants know all of that. This can be a feature for interesting stories. The other thing that happens in these sorts of communities is that the smarter kids leave for university and jobs in the big city. Some of the others join the services (including some of the smart ones) and go away that way. Often they reappear later in life, retired in their forties, or professionally qualified as the local GP, district nurse, solicitor, entrepreneur, mechanic. A good way to bring people in without having to make them complete strangers to the rest of your characters.
Towns are a whole different order of magnitude different. They don’t scale into villages, there is a sort of multiplier effect with proper towns. Almost every old town that I have looked at, and I do pay attention on my travels, is based around a market, and very often also a river crossing.
Towns tend to be on the nexus of trade routes, and they draw in people from surrounding villages for markets and also specialised trades. As well as being bigger than villages, especially with the tradespeople, they also have a lot more in the way of amenities. There will be a square, with a town hall of some sort on it, and often also a church. In many modern towns the square has been infilled, usually with parades of shops, descended from the market stalls that once stood in the same place.
Like the villages the towns are often formed around a cross roads, this can be two sides of the main square, or sometimes they join at one end of a widened high street and then split out after the shopping area (Reigate in Surrey does this, the A25 and A217 being the primary routes).
Another key feature of a town, other than being astride a trade route, is that it tends to have an abundance of something useful (or it did have in its early days). This could be something simple like weavers in a sheep farming region, or a watermill in an arable area. There ought to be something. This might not matter to your story though and you don’t need to worry about it much. However it could also be useful as a hook, or a clue.
How I draw maps
Firstly I think of the sort of place that I need for my story, and the key locations I need it to have. Once I’ve listed those out I get myself a blank sheet of paper (although I do sometimes use squared paper).
Pencil usually starts with some outline topographical features (which way is uphill, where are the water courses).
Then I put the focus of the village/town on the map, along with some routes. I see this as growing the town organically.
Next down are the key locations I need relative to each other. I then fill in the gaps between them with the other necessary parts of the village/town. i.e. the pubs, shops and civic amenities. If it is a mediaeval walled town then I add these in now as well.Â If there is a need for industry I also stick that in too.
Lastly I add in some houses for the people to live in, making sure to put the bigger ones upwind of the town (the richer districts of towns/cities tend to be upwind on prevailing winds because the rich folk can afford to build where the air is sweeter). I try to put in at least one building for every ten inhabitants, in modern times maybe two to three times that much, we live much less densely these days, even though there are more of us.
This is the third post on my Operational Research driven wargame rules (and it’s probably about time that I came up with a catchy name for them, ideas in the comments section most welcome).
One of the most unrealistic things I find in most commercial wargames that I have read or played is that it is very easy for players to change their plans and give new orders to their troops every turn.Â This is so common that there’s even a name for it, the 200ft General.
What is the Problem?
The concept being that the player is like a General with perfect perception and control of his troops, and he can react to things that they aren’t yet aware of because the player can see the models on the table.
Here are a couple of relevant quotes from the Operational Research that demonstrate why this is a problem.
“a detailed, well-rehearsed plan blocks acceptance of the quick orders rattled out over the radio ten minutes before an attack starts. This mix of friction and mental block can be seen to play a part in nearly half of all mission failures.” Murray in Brains & Bullets
“complicated plans were much more likely to fail.” Murray in Brains & Bullets
So this gives a constraint to the game design. A successful OR driven wargame will ensure that it isn’t easy to change orders and that the more complicated a plan is the more likely it will be to fail.
This isn’t a new problem, many wargame designers have grappled with it over the decades that wargaming has been popular. Lots of games have mechanisms of one sort or another to counteract this, ranging from hidden movement and deployment through to complex activation systems. All of these have problems, but at least they’re trying to solve the core problem of limiting player decisions to those that are reasonable for a commander on the ground.
Hidden movement & Deployment. This is a very good solution, and one that lots of games try to implement. It has difficulties in that you either need to trust the other player or have an umpire. Failing that some pre-game organisation to produce maps that can be annotated helps. It tends not to be used for competition wargames.
Written Orders. This is what real armies do, and so far as I’m aware only one commercial game has attempted this (Spearhead). It slows down the game, or increases setup time. Possibly producing a pro-forma might speed things up.
Unit activations.Â This seems to be common in popular rules. The actual mechanisms vary considerably, but the gist of it is that as a player you cannot be sure whether or not particular units will be activated. About all you can be sure of is that you cannot move your entire army. A good example of this is the DBA PIP system. A general gets 1d6 unit activations each turn.
I think that a good solution would be streamlined and easy to implement by players. Something like this is likely to have a major impact on gameplay speed, and we’re looking for ‘fast’ as a default setting. Each game turn needs to take 5-10 minutes to run through so that a whole game (including setup) can happen in about 2 hours.
Do you have any other potential solutions to this problem?
Further to the previous post Faith in Morale I’ve tried to synthesize the varioius readings on military psychology into a set of morale rules that might give a realistic ebb and flow to an engagement. I’ve not had a chance to test these yet, but here’s what the chart looks like.
Reading through the various OR type publications it seems to me that morale is affected by proximity to both friends and the enemy. The closer solders get to the enemy the more they seem to do things other than follow orders. This is not really a surprise, but it’s nice to see the research back up the gut feel.
Where I can find hard numbers for things I have used them to construct the 2D morale chart. In some ways this is sort of arbitrary, the numbers aren’t comprehensive enough to complete it. I’ve taken distance from the enemy as one axis and propensity to fight as the other axis. Probability isn’t as straightforwards as counting the squares, as I’ve chosen to use a 2d6 roll on this chart. This tends the answer towards 7 and I have used the probabilty of a given result (or greater) as the method for putting the shading on the boxes. Where certain conditions make something more or less likely the difference from the probability of 7 or more is what I’ve used to decide whether the die modifier would be +/- 1, 2 or 3 (most end up as +/-1).
I’ll post up more of this, along with some ideas on how I expect it to work, in a later post. Broadly though each glob of troopsÂ will have a marker on the chart showing their current morale state. Each time morale is tested they will roll 2d6 and modify. Scores of 6-8 (about 45%) will remain unchanged. scores of 9-11 will improve morale and 12 will improve it and move the unit closer to the enemy (except for defenders in prepared positions). Scores of 4 or 5 will decrease morale, a 2 or 3 will decrease morale and cause the soldiers to give ground back to cover.
The thought that struck me was that combat is very stressful and that soldiers are called on to do unpleasant things to others. This isn’t an every day thing but it does happen. The after effects can be very severe, PTSD isn’t pleasant for anyone and can last for years after the traumatic events have finished. Psychological casualties are as real as the physical ones, they just have a delayed onset and are harder to spot.
Faith in Morale
Looking at rational human reactions in combat and life threatening situations you can see that the belief system of the individual plays a strong part. If you read first hand accounts enough you begin to understand this. Heroes often do what they do because they don’t see other options that they find acceptable.Â People run into burning buildings or stay at a point of danger to help others. A selfish rational view would get you out of there. This often comes down to helping other members of the in group, not letting others down or not being able to live with themselves if they hadn’t tried to help. It is rare to hear patriotism cited, although often modestly you’ll hear ‘I was just doing my job’. That last is rarely true from a technical perspective but it reveals that the person that said it was driven by their belief system.
You’ll have noticed that I’ve been writing about a belief system here rather than faith. That’s deliberate. Faith is a kind of belief system but isn’t all of it. Everyone has a belief system, even atheists. Not everyone has faith.
They are a product of our upbringing and life experiences.Â Religious faith has a major part in shaping them, as does the dominant culture in the society that we live in. Even those that consciously reject those are shaped by it in their rejection.
Some examples. Homophobia is driven by belief systems. The dominant culture in the UK has taught us that it is a bad thing. Some religious groups disagree, and there is a high level of support far that point of view from the older members of society and those that have arrived from other cultures that don’t share the same belief as our dominant culture.Â In the main the driver for homophobia is the classic out group of psychology.Â Humans form groups of similar outlooks and turn against other groups. It’s animal instinct and manifests in many places and in many ways. Civilised humans learn to control the behaviour it drives and accept that other people (mostly) aren’t a threat. Being indoctrinated from birth into thinking about things makes this much easier.
Back to combat. The fundamental beliefs that go on here are about harming others and self preservation.Â Religion tends to have a view on both of these. Typically it is don’t harm others and you need to make earthly sacrifices for a heavenly reward.
The combat calculus every combatant goes through is pretty much ‘does the risk to me outweigh the benefits of what I’m doing?’
If you are an atheist with no belief in an afterlife then you aren’t going to be as keen on checking out as someone expecting a massive reward for furthering the cause of their chosen religion (and it is the individual combatant’s interpretation that counts here, not the orthodox view).
Kills only when there iis no alternative. Will stay well within the rules of engagement as it is what their belief system demands. Won’t take unnecessary risks but will do what they can to help others.
Killing is wrong, but God accepts that sometimes it is necessary.
I don’t want to die yet, but there will a reward in the afterlife if I do good work.
As with the Humanist avoids harm to others, but if it him or me will kill the enemy. Will self-sacrifice to save/help others but tries where possible to preserve their ability to continue to act.
Brains and BulletsÂ is an excellent and very readable book which tries to put some hard numbers on a variety of psychological tactics that can be used to persuade your own troops to fight and the enemy to give up.
This is an excellent work on what happens in combat and why. It is very readable, structured into bite sized chunks on the key phenomena and then some joining up when it has all been explained. Each chapter opens with an account from a real soldier who experienced that psychological effect in combat. This is then analysed and explained, pulling in other examples as required to show that it isn’t an isolated incident but a general effect. Those examples range from the Napoleonic Wars right up to operations in Afghanistan, and they’re the products of proper scientific research not just a collection of war stories from unreliable sources.
That said there is no need to be an operational researcher, or scientist to understand the book. The language used is straightforward and direct, each of the concepts is very well explained and it forms an excellent introductory work as well as being well researched. The target audience is ordinary people without a technical or military background (although the author hopes that many military officers and civil servants will read it and think about it). Here’s my favourite line from the end of the book “if you are paid to be a military analyst, donâ€™t forget that you work for the Crown (or the people) and for soldiers. You owe no allegiance to your cost centre manager. Crack on.”
If you do have a serious interest then it is worth saying that this isn’t fluffy pop psychology (I like those as light reading, having read Psychology at uni). All the conclusions are backed up with hard numbers from years of solid operational research. The author is hoping to influence army officers to use tactical psychology to make them more effective, so for example “even the hardest-fought flank attack seized ground with a smaller force, captured more of the enemy and caused fewer fatalities on both sides. flanking attack was six times more effective than a frontal attack.”
I’m not going to summarise this book like I did for theÂ Stress of Battle, it’s way more available and affordable. Go buy it yourself (or borrow from the Library) and enjoy it. I certainly did.
At Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group we design and play a lot of games involving game money. We do this to the extent that we often joke that all you need for a game are CLWG members and some (play) money. Â By definition none of this is real, but in game terms it is always genuine. There is never any question that some of it could be fake. For more modern games involving high value government expenditures this is definitely fine, but in some of the games we play it would make for an interesting dynamic if it turned out we couldn’t rely on the value of the coins.
So while my daughter was playing with my stack of play money (see the photo above) I was thinking that I could run a game, probably in a fantasy setting, where the different players had briefings about what they saw as acceptable money. Â I thought it would need to be a trading game, perhaps with merchants from different parts of the world with their own coinage, and supplying things to either each other or to city/principality governments. I could brief them about the relative values they had for each of the types of coins, and I could also suggest to some of them that damaged coins, or those where the paint had come off, weren’t worth as much (or were even totally worthless). This would add an interesting dynamic to the game, especially if the briefing wasn’t too widespread. An additional possibility would be to deliberately add in counterfeit currency and have someone try and pass as much of it as they could into circulation.