Micro-level Combat: Gaming in 100:1 /Drone Wars

2018-11-07 Uit Door website admin

This is not 1:100 scale (aka ~15mm Flames of War) but the reverse – miniatures are dramatically LARGER than the unis they represent.  I.e. the actual real world units are tint, almost invisible to the naked eye.

I’ve thought about 1:1 gaming (using both insects au naturale and also human-controlled insect “drones” with guns attached) and have purchased a few hundred plastic ants or ant colony wars, but at the moment I am rather lazily waiting for this videogame to go on sale.  I did explore the dinos I mentioned in the post, and am the proud owner of an extensive plastic dinosaur army (both pillaged from my son’s sandpit, and bought from junk shops in bulk). But my psychic-knights-on-dinos (and the rules I am developing for them) are meat for another post.

No, the current musing is about drone/miniature vehicle warfighting.  I’ve been eyeing off normal toy drones lately (which have advanced amazingly in tech while dropping in price) especially the ones you steer in FPV (using goggles you “see”what the drone sees, kinda “flying”the drone from the cockpit so to speak.

You can see the potential of drone dogfights.

Drone dogfights would make a pretty cool wargame.  (Also, a pretty cool videogame as well – I wish someone would make one). There are already drones with sensors where you can “shoot down” your friends’ drone, so to escalate to real weapons doesn’t seem to much of a leap.

Now using drones in “current”size (say your average drone about the size of a pizza box) would make for interesting and unique combat. The ability to make violent maneuvers at G-forces far exceeding a human pilot, and the stunning agility would put it apart from the usual dogfight genre.  Add in “lag” and EMP weapons (or jamming) and it gets yet more unique.  Furthermore, the ability to evade detection (“nap of the earth” is literally a foot off the deck) and fly into structures/launch ambushes.

Micro drones are not new, and have been around for a while, especially as a recon unit.

Drone swarms are also becoming (a somewhat terrifying) reality.

But what if we project even further into the future? Perhaps where drone-on-drone combat has become the primary means of warfare.  Duels between drone swarms fighting though buildings at high speed, using unique weapons (including EMPs) would be like supersonic helicopter combat, mixed with sudden ambushes, like Descent on steroids. 

As a wargame, you could play as a pilot of many drones. You could have some sort of resource pool of tokens representing your “attention” which you could distribute among individual or groups of drones, who would otherwise act automomously. Kinda like a Warcaster in Warmachine boosting his warjacks.

The ability to create unique weapons (and tactics – suiciding your drone to take out key opponents would be an option) and unique environments. 

Drones could even be aquatic. Which could have its own hazards – your super high tech drone swarm could get gulped by a trout….

But what if we go smaller?  I’m not original here, I like the Eylau Sequence (one of the coolest wargame settings no one has ever heard of) and their micro-tanks (though the rules are too gluggy and the minis a little expensive to an Aussie).  Their MGVs are 20:1 drones. 

Microscopic? In the Scott Westerfled book Risen Empire there is a scene about drone combat.  The drones are the size of dust motes. They have pincer claws and explosives and can “go silent” using thermals to navigate a room and land in a glass of water (which magnifies their listening/detection systems).

Imagine microscopic squidder drones headed up your nasal cavity and burrowing into your brain – yikes!

Models require imagination….  My cheap EM4 spaceships (which have lately seen service as supersonic submarine fighters and MTB-like strike fighters, Descent fighters as well as hovertanks ) may now see service as drones.  Probably painting out the canopies would give a more “drone” feel. I swear they have been the most cheap (~50c) and versatile minis I own. For value/usefulness, they can’t be beat.

Heck you could even use an actual 1:48 model of a drone… a target drone.… The sky is the limit with  sci fi and your imagination….

 I think I could probably use quite a few spaceship models that are scale-agnostic,and of course there are the cool MGVs. For the hipsters, there’s always scratch-building your own; deoderant cans, end caps, disposable razors, and LEGO and hydroponics piping + various weapon bits from everything from 40K to 1:48 WW2 boxes can result in some amazing stuff. (google “scratch built spaceships” and you will be amazed). 

Anyways, I think there is fertile ground for sci fi drone wars.  You could have drone swarms, antonymous vs piloted, unique tactics and weapons, and have games ranging from 1:1 duels to 100 vs 100 swarms.  Stealth, dogfights, kamikaze attacks, and dogfights in the kitchen. You can change the scale from pizza box to dust mote.  Heck, spider-bot drones the size of literal spiders…  Or hovertanks that skim centimetres off the ground….

In a wargaming sense, you could use magic mechanics to simulate management/processing power of AI, as well as layers of EW including jamming, ECM and EMPs. Perhaps they can be coated in thermal camo or float silently to attack like dust motes.  Drone combat can be a fun wargaming area which can be taken in any direction you want it to….