Saturday, February 28, 2015

Chain of Command Market Garden campaign game 2

We continued our Market Garden mini-campaign from WSS 74. In our previous game, the British paratroopers and the green SS recruits clashed for the first time. The Germans were sent running, suffering two permanent casualties and two miss-next-games for the campaign. The British managed to shrug off all their losses.

This game takes place shortly after the last encounter. The SS have regrouped and set up a more substantial defence near the road to Arnhem. This time around they have some light entrenchments and a halftrack in support. How will the paratroopers fare now?

Commentary is embedded in the images, as usual


So, another clear defeat for the Germans. This time they suffered 6 permanent casualties and 3 miss-next-games, as well as losing one NCO as captured. The paras suffered two permanent losses and one miss-next-game. I really have to think about how I will play the Germans next time. They have the numbers and ample support compared to the Brits, but are doomed to lose in a long range exchange of fire. The grade difference between the forces means that it's easy for the British to hit the Germans who don't know how to keep their heads down yet, whereas the Germans struggle to hit the elite British hiding in terrain. The Germans also suffer from poor force morale, which means they will break long before their numbers suffer heavily. I find it prudent to retreat my force when I start to be penalised on chain of command dice, as I cannot take advantage of my numbers at that point anymore.

The campaign system of Chain of Command (the "at the sharp end" -expansion) also includes the success of the platoon commander by tracking the opinion of the CO and the men in relation to the platoon commander. At this point, the morale of the Germans has not yet suffered nor the opinion of the CO soured, but the British player will receive additional support next game and the men have an even higher morale rating. I'll be in for a tough challenge, that's for sure!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Wargaming with my wife and thoughts on why women don't wargame.

After eight years together my wife finally submitted to my unconventional desires this week. Our boy was away at his grandparents so we had some unexpected peace and quiet, and I used the opportunity to bring Columbia's War of 1812 to the table. Well, to be honest it's not her first wargame but it took me four years to proceed with the conversion after that game of Battle Cry in 2011 :)

War of 1812 is as simple as block wargames get, but it serves as a great introduction to the genre and gives a nice stepping stone to the mid-level Columbia wargames so I like to hold onto it in my collection. Sure enough, explaining the concepts to my wife only took a few minutes and after the first campaign year she was already in full swing. War of 1812 has relatively little dice rolling, so luck may become a factor, and I had lots of it in the beginning. I was getting worried that my wife will lose just on the account of me rolling too well, but luckily (heh) the dice balanced out and my wife won a glorious and deserved victory at the end of the second year as the US

After two days my wife wanted seconds (yaaay!). We set up the game again and she played the US again. This time around she lost, but wasn't unhappy about it. We have precious little time for boardgaming these days, so it was quite enjoyable!

The games got me thinking a bit on why there are so few women in wargaming. When I go to a boardgames convention, a good third of the people there are women, but they rarely sit down to play war themed boardgames or heaven forbid a hex&counter wargame. I've seen a woman playing Warhammer or a Commands & Colors game occasionally but that's pretty much it. The female wargamer remains a rare specimen among the population.

Is it the theme? Is war so masculine a theme that it puts off women? Maybe some, but I've seen women play plenty of boardgames with downright macho themes so it must be something else. Is it the complexity? Definitely not. Eurogames can be brutal not only in complexity but in the way you have to optimize every move and plan your game many turns in advance, making many of them more difficult than the average wargame, yet they are still favoured by women.

Is it because wargaming is a boys' club of fat middle aged men and it's quite difficult to fit in that group? Maybe, but I don't see the local gamers here as sexist. We love new blood in the hobby regardless of gender or age. It might just be that the atmosphere of.. err.. manliness condenses around the table and it might not be that attractive.

I think the secret might be in the mechanics. When I look at the games women play at boardgame conventions, they are often based on a "race" of sorts where the players gain victory points and compete for the winning position by "doing their own thing" without much direct and personal interaction between the players on the board. Cooperative games are also popular. Wargames however are based on the idea that you are in direct, aggressive confrontation with the other player and must seek the best way to hit her where it hurts the most. Is it this dynamic that makes women shy away from these games?

In any case, I shouldn't make generalizations and there are women among us who revel in the joy of crushing their opponents on the field of glory, but you have to admit they are few and far between. If you happen to be one, drop a comment and share your opinion!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Signal Close Action napoleonic naval PBEM kriegspiel

During the last few months I've taken part in a Naval "point of view" Kriegspiel experiment by The idea has been that using the Signal Close Action naval wargame rules we fight a limited intelligence naval battle where the umpire sends players situation reports to their email complete with pictures in what the captain sees on deck. We played a "simple" one-on-one ship battle which took quite a while but was very exciting and fulfilling. I played as a British ship's captain chasing down a heavier French vessel.

The umpire has written the complete report on his blog so visit it for a good report on the action:

It would be interesting to extend the concept to fleet actions and also land wargaming, but some streamlining on the PBEM method needs to be done as well as a way to advance the game if a player doesn't submit his moves in a timely manner (guilty as charged, I was quite busy with work last autumn).

A typical picture the umpire sent me. The view from my port broadside towards my opponent.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Some Blood Bowl and Block War

Quiet on the Hobby front. I haven't been finishing many models lately, although I did do some 20mm scale telegraph poles for WW2 I might post later,b ut I did get a couple of games in. Nothing much to report but here's a couple of pics.

Blood Bowl:

I'm shocked to find out that I haven't played a single game of Blood Bowl on the table during the existence of this blog! I have played the computer version(s) during this time but not a single game on the board for years even though I love the game to bits! This will not stand! I dusted off my goblins last weekend (I also have an orc and an undead team) and played against my friends' Ogres. I lost 1-0 after a lengthy grind, but it was fun. I actually noticed I had forgotten quite a few core rules during these years of downtime even though I have scores of games under my belt. I hope to reignite the game in my local group now to get people playing again.

My custom Blood Bowl board transforms into a carrying case to put my figures, papers and dice in.

The Goblins try to catch the snotlings while the Trolls grapple with the Ogres.

This one doesn't like being filmed.

Excuse me..

Napoléon (Columbia Games):

You know I love block wargaming and Columbia's offers are always a treat. I've played an older edition of Napoléon before and got a chance to play the fresh Kickstarter funded edition now. I don't remember much about the first time I played but my opponent says the changes to the new edition are minor. The game details the Waterloo campaign and I played the French. I tried to focus on the Brits first to defeat the Coalition one army at at time, but it didn't work out so well. Napoleon did beat Wellington and force the British to surrender, but the French didn't have the time or the fight in them to stand against Blucher after that

In other news, I've fixed my old Amiga 500 and replaced the old disk drive with a floppy emulator so that I can now load games onto the Amiga from a USB stick. All it took was a firmware flash to a generic industrial pc floppy emulator! Pretty neat, huh?