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Friday, 24 November 2017

A long Weekend of Warfare!

I don't get to many shows, but one I make a point of going to every year these days is Warfare, in Reading UK. It's a nice size, the organizers are helpful, and it's only an hour's drive. This was the third year running that we've done a BBB display game. In fact this year there were four!

 
Dunbar 1650 in 2mm! Doon hill looms on the right.
Formations of musket and pike line up to do their impression of C17 woodcut battle pictures.
Bruce maintains his reputation for high production values and great games.

I could only make it on the Saturday. Dave and I each ran a small 4'x4' game. His was Nagy-Sallo (1849), to show off his Pixart printed battlemat and his 10mm Pendraken Hungarians and Austrians. It looked like he kept a good crowd entertained for about 3 hours.

Meanwhile I ran the classic Montebello (1859) scenario which has established itself as a popular favourite. It is easy terrain to set up, only needs 4'x4', and is quick to play (we completed it three times in 5 hours with total novice players); the contrast between French quality and Austrian quality, in terms both of troops and of commanders, is really brought out well by the rules; and the scenario special rule that lets the outnumbered French delay the Austrian reinforcements by assaulting boldly makes for a good ding-dong scrap. Saturday's punch-ups confirmed its reputation. I was in action non-stop, running the game three times in succession, producing one French win, one Austrian win, and one draw. My thanks to Pete, Mark, Fred, Tony, Steve and Simon for playing in such good spirit.

On Sunday Dave and I were replaced by Crispin who fielded his custom layout for Mars-la-Tour (1870), and I understand again had good interactions with plenty of passing players.

Meanwhile the Dunstable Generals laid on a beautiful BBB Gettysburg game. We were tucked away in the furthest corner of the hall (which was perhaps a mercy, as I don't think we could have coped with many more visitors) but they were in pole position close the entrance, and each time I went by they seemed to be besieged by spectators and engaged in intense combat.

So Saturday was a good day for BBB. It was a doubly exhausting one for me as I then had a 3-hour drive to a family get-together. It was worth it as I spent most of Sunday wargaming with a 6-year-old. On the strength of reviews saying it was a good game for youngsters, I'd bought him Memoir '44. "Best present ever!" apparently, according to our young recruit. That was time and money well spent, then.

As if that wasn't enough dice-based action, I was spoilt for choice at the club on Monday night. I'd been keenly looking forward to trying out Bruce's draft adaptation of BBB for the English Civil War. However, there were six of us, and Mark had also brought along his scenario for the last battle of the Indian Mutiny, Bareilly, and needed an opponent. So I ended up quelling mutineers instead. It was a tremendous game. Like all the Indian games, the great contrast between the two armies makes it interesting, as does the open terrain which enables sweeping maneuver. In the space of 8 turns I was able to make an impetuous error on Turn 1, recover from that, try implementing a second plan, then change it to a third, switch my points of attack, fend off Indian threats to my flank and to my baggage that could have cost me the game, and come within an ace of storming entrenchments that would have given victory to me instead. The end result was of course Mark's favourite outcome, a draw. It really was an exhilarating evening.

On the other table, the boys had fought out the battle of Dunbar (1650). The Scots were emphatically routed just as in history. Consensus seemed to be that Bruce's rule tweaks are elegant and effective and give the right flavour for push of pike, vulnerability of flanks, etc. It seems as though this is a serious project and people are keen to playtest it more and develop scenarios, including knowledgeable allies beyond OWS. Maybe there are interesting games to be had from Pre-Napoleonic Warfare after all ...