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Friday, 13 January 2017

Sign up for BBB Bash Day, Saturday 18 February 2017!

The second Bloody Big Battles Bash Day will be held on Saturday 18 February 2017 in Wolvercote Village Hall, Oxford UK.

This is an opportunity to play historical battles, using the Bloody Big Battles (BBB) rules.
Scheduled participation games include:

Sikh Wars (1845-1849) (exact scenario to be confirmed)
Hungarian War of Independence (1848-1849): Tápió-Bicske, and either Kápolna or Isaszég or possibly both
2nd Italian War of Independence: Montebello (1859)
Austro-Prussian War: Königgrätz (1866)
American Civil War: Shiloh (1862), Spotsylvania (1864) & possibly Gettysburg (1863)
Franco-Prussian War: Mars-la-Tour and Gravelotte (1870), and either Coulmiers (1870) or St Quentin (1871)
Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905 (exact scenario to be confirmed)
WWII: (exact scenario to be confirmed), using Bob Mackenzie’s WWII variant of the BBB rules

Game masters are asked to arrive by 9am to set up.
Games to start at 10am.
Most games will be played twice, so players will have the chance to play at least two games, possibly three.
We have the hall all day, so play can continue until 6 or 7 or beyond if need be.
Post-battle rendezvous in The Plough is encouraged (they serve good food).

£5 entry on the door.
Tea/coffee and biscuits provided.
Bring a packed lunch or go to The Plough.

To read about what a great day the first Bash Day was, see these AARs:

To sign up, just email me and Crispin Matson:
Let us know which battles you are most interested in playing, and we will do our best to allocate you suitable slots.

It’ll be a lot of fun, and we’d love to see you there!


Bloody Big BATTLES!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Get out there and wargame!

Over Christmas and New Year I have seen lots of posts on various wargames fora where wargamers have been reviewing their activities in 2016, and discussing their plans for 2017. I was struck by how many self-identifying "wargamers" actually game very little or not at all. That struck me as really sad. I mean that in the sympathetic "oh what a pity" sense, not the disparaging "you sad man" sense.

I myself am about to do what for me is a rare thing: go more than a week without a wargame. (Don't feel too sorry for me. I'll more than make up for it the week after.) These days I have the fortunate luxury of a great gang of regular gaming buddies with enough shared enthusiasms and similar approach to gaming that there are always games to be played and players to play with.

But it was not always so. There were long years when I didn't get that many games in, and the games themselves, and the company, weren't always satisfactory. For a long time I was a bit frustrated in my quest for the High Quality Gaming Experience (TM). What was the problem? Partly it was the games themselves: too many evenings wasted using lame rulesets, or playing poorly designed scenarios (sorry, guys). But partly it was ... well, me.

A wargaming friend who was a psychologist once confirmed to me that hobbyists in general - including wargamers - tend to have poorer social skills than average, to be further than average along that autism spectrum, maybe with a dose of OCD thrown in. A very broad generalisation, of course, plus I may be misremembering and misquoting or exaggerating what my psychologist friend said. Still, it does tally with my personal observations of wargamers as a breed in general.

In that I include my younger self. When I started wargaming, I was excessively concerned with winning. I won the junior title at my then club's annual tournament. That was great for my ego, but I am sure I was obnoxious and annoying to play against, and not considerate enough of my fellow players and of what made a game enjoyable for them. As an adult, hosting games at my place, I'm sure I wasn't a very good host at first: minimal hospitality, inadequate appreciation of or concern for my guests, still too interested in winning and power.

I like to think I am a better person now.  :-)  I'm sure my social skills have improved. I'm no longer so insecure that I need to win games and trample over others to feel good about myself. I've learned from friends what makes for not just a good game, but a good gaming occasion. Our corner of the club is now always the lively noisy fun one, and new members often gravitate towards it. The games I and the other members of my group host at our homes are always popular, well-attended, convivial affairs bursting with bonhomie and good cheer.

If it was possible for me to do this, it could be possible for you too. So don't be a sad lonely non-wargaming wargamer: get out there and play! Thanks to the wonders of the web, it is relatively easy now to find other gamers within striking distance. Pluck up courage, bite the bullet, get in touch with someone and set up a game. Follow my advice about the HQGE. Choose a ruleset that will enable you to finish a game in whatever time you have, and that ticks all the boxes, not just for you but for the other player(s). Don't go out there to win, go out to have a good time yourself, and more importantly, to make sure the others have an even better time. Maybe you won't hit it off with the first group you try. Don't be deterred, try another, and another, until you find the one that you get on with.

Make some new friends, and have a happy 2017!

Friday, 30 December 2016

Spion Kop (1900), Second Boer War AAR

I don't get to wargame with my South African buddy Anton nearly as often as I'd like. He can't use living in Durban as an excuse - he's only down the road in London, but his work/life balance is terrible. But on the rare occasions when we do get together, it is always a High Quality Gaming Experience (TM). Yesterday, for our group's last get-together of 2016, Anton unveiled his second ever BBB scenario. The first one, Colenso (Second Boer War) had produced a great game and needed virtually no modification. You can find a full AAR for Colenso in the files of the BBB Yahoo group. This sequel, Spion Kop, was every bit as good. I don't know how he does it!

Naval guns at Spion Kop. Hard to believe these fine Baccus figures are only 6mm tall!
In our game, they were entirely ineffective - must have been at the rum ration ...

Spion Kop pits 8,000 Boer defenders against more than double that number of British attackers, on a front of about 15 miles. Anton's scenario really captures the flavour of the battle. The Boers are strung out in small Commandos along the high ground. The Brits rumble forward into the teeth of accurate Boer rifle fire which takes a deadly toll. The British return fire, against dug-in and camouflaged Boers using smokeless powder, is much less effective. However, if the large British units can close on the Boer positions, the Boers tend not to stick around but will mount up and disperse back to their farms.

If you want a detailed AAR, go to this Flickr album and read the notes under each picture. We managed to pull off a narrow British victory, but it couldn't have been much closer. It was a really tight game, and it's certainly a scenario that is winnable by the Boers as well. I'd be very happy to give it another go any time, and I'm looking forward to more of Anton's Boer War scenarios. The contrast between two armies of hugely different character makes for really interesting games.

The scenario isn't quite ready to share - it needs some editing and polishing - but I hope to be able to add it to the BBB Yahoo group files as usual early in the New Year.