Author Topic: Wargame Unit Symbology  (Read 661 times)

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Offline solops

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Wargame Unit Symbology
« on: August 30, 2020, 12:15:38 PM »
I get frustrated by some of the computer games coming out these days because they get the unit symbols wrong. They go to the trouble of making the symbols, but use the wrong one...AAAARG!!! There is a standard NATO  unit set that is used by the military for good reason. I have lost the link, but it's easy to find. And over the years, boardgamers have expanded and improved the NATO set. For wargamers its pretty standard. You can open any boxed game and instantly understand ALL of the units.  Attached is a pic of what is pretty much the standard WWII ground unit set. Somewhere I have an even more complete sheet (more air and missile symbols), but I am afraid to go into that closet. SO, for all you game designers and mod makers, PLEASE put this in your data-base and use it!

https://boardgamegeek.com/image/3839043/scorched-earth
« Last Edit: August 30, 2020, 12:28:45 PM by solops »
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Offline Philippe

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Re: Wargame Unit Symbology
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2020, 12:45:19 PM »
The precursors of the Nato symbols were probably the ones used by the Americans in WW II.  You can still see these if you look at the old situation maps for 1944. They look remarkably like what we think of as Nato symbols, and were incorporated into what we think of as Nato symbols when Nato came into existence.  It's a bit like the military alphabet. Able, Baker, Charlie eventually became Alfa, Bravo, Charlie: they're similar, but different.

Sometime in the sixties or seventies Nato symbols got an overhaul.  The main differences that I always look for are the anti-tank and anti-aircraft symbols.  In WW II games I prefer seeing the symbols that were in use at the time, just as I hate seeing 50-star US flags in WW I and II.  But when it comes to unit symbols, I'm reluctant to be doctrinaire about it because almost everybody gets it wrong, and the right answer depends on the period you're representing.

If I ever design a WW II computer game, the symbols that you see will be different depending on whether you're playing the Americans, Germans, or Russians. (I love the German symbols for division, corps, and army, though I don't really care for their small-unit tactical symbols).
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Offline Yskonyn

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Re: Wargame Unit Symbology
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2020, 01:11:39 AM »
If there ever was a true grogheads thread here, this is truely it!  :dreamer:
"Pilots do not get paid for what they do daily, but they get paid for what they are capable of doing.
However, if pilots would need to do daily what they are capable of doing, nobody would dare to fly anymore.

Offline Pete Dero

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Re: Wargame Unit Symbology
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2020, 02:22:03 AM »
NATO UNCLASSIFIED APP-6(C) NATO JOINT MILITARY SYMBOLOGY APP-6(C) : https://www.awl.edu.pl/images/en/APP_6_C.pdf

CONTENTS   (558 pages !)

Chapter 1 Military Symbols
Chapter 2 Air Symbols
Chapter 3 Land Symbols
Chapter 4 Maritime Symbols
Chapter 5 Space Symbols
Chapter 6 Stability Activities and Civil Support Activities Symbols
Chapter 7 Control Measure Symbols
Chapter 8 Meteorological Symbols
Annex A Symbol Identification Codes
Annex B Comparative Formations/Unit Designations
Lexicon

Offline Philippe

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Re: Wargame Unit Symbology
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2020, 10:07:05 AM »
Like most documents written by and for bureaucrats, it's more or less unreadable.

The key point is that it only reflects what symbols should look like in 2011 and a few years after that (like now), and may not even be entirely appropriate for a Vietnam scenario or even a Nato vs. Warsaw Pact scenario set in the eighties .
Every generation gets the Greeks and Romans it deserves.


History is a bad joke played by the living on the dead.


Senility is no excuse for feeblemindedness.

Offline airboy

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Re: Wargame Unit Symbology
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2020, 10:48:21 AM »
I like the one-pager quite a bit.   :bd:

Offline W8taminute

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Re: Wargame Unit Symbology
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2020, 07:57:02 AM »
Very cool!  Thanks for sharing solops. 
Forgive me my old friend.  But I must use all my experience...to get home.

Offline MengJiao

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Re: Wargame Unit Symbology
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2020, 02:42:03 PM »
If there ever was a true grogheads thread here, this is truely it!  :dreamer:

  It's true.  I feel less groggy already.  On the other hand (and maybe a bit off topic), I really like Adam Starkweather's approach to symbology in his
various company level boardgames.  Here's a bunch of symbols (some are vehicles as they appear on the counters) and some are German and some are "Western Allies" and some (the guns/artillery) are the same for everybody:


Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Wargame Unit Symbology
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2020, 04:57:02 PM »
But what's the NATO symbol for Elven Longbowmen? 

And is that different than the symbol for Dwarven Crossbowmen?

 <:-)

Offline Gusington

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Re: Wargame Unit Symbology
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2020, 06:42:45 PM »
Yes!
"I'm not even dead and I'm rolling over in my grave."

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Offline MengJiao

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Re: Wargame Unit Symbology
« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2020, 07:12:22 PM »
But what's the NATO symbol for Elven Longbowmen? 

And is that different than the symbol for Dwarven Crossbowmen?

 <:-)

  It ain't NATO, but Henri IV might have seen them as variations on Argoulets:





Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Wargame Unit Symbology
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2020, 05:24:26 PM »
I'm not even sure how to pronounce half the names of those units.  So maybe NATO symbology is nicer?

Offline MengJiao

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Re: Wargame Unit Symbology
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2020, 08:02:49 PM »
I'm not even sure how to pronounce half the names of those units.  So maybe NATO symbology is nicer?

   Nicer yes!  Just as tanks are sort of easier to manage than horses.  But, I suspect the terrain of symbolic representations is potentially
a bit bumpy: