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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Thursday, December 01, 2005

It's December!

Yay, December has come around again! December means that soccer season is over, and my weekends free up for gaming. And have I been lining up some gaming!

This weekend sees my 2nd annual 2-player gaming weekend. Mostly an opportunity to pull out the longer wargame type games, anything that features only 2 players is welcome. So far I'm down for Under the Lily Banners, probably the Freiburg scenario, Rommel in the Desert and East Front. Both the last are Columbia block games, and I'm just itching to play them, especially EF. ULB is another in the GMT Musket & Pike series. These are against Eric (GoE blogger), Chuck and Chris (also GoE blogger), respectively.

I'm curious to try ULB because it will test my interest in wargames a fair bit. I have This Accursed Civil War and have played 3 times against opponents and a couple times solo. However, I'm still not sure whether my interest in playing it (and, by extension, other games in the series) is driven by my interest in the game/series/wargaming or whether I'm only playing it because of my long association with the English Civil War, via The Sealed Knot, books and various people I've met.

I think the fact that I only have TACW, am only moderately interested in obtaining Sweden Fights On and I am very unlikely to pick up ULB, is telling. Wallenstein, a game I love, is about the same time period as ULB, so I don't think the time period/theme is the issue. I'm pretty sure that TACW just manages to overcome my 'meh' factor related to wargames. We'll see.

Of course, the Columbia block games are also classed as wargames - according to the Geek. However, my mind doesn't consider these as wargames, they feel far more like a Euro. Especially when playing Wizard Kings. Odd thing, my mind.

Interestingly, the Geek doesn't class Memoir '44 as a wargame, which is probably correct. I've played it a few times (my kids like it) with mixed outcomes (I got totally whupped on by Chris' 12 year old) and I'm still not sure about it. Yet, I think the card mechanism in a way portrays the uncertainties of battle better than most wargames. Often you can't move the forces you want because you don't have the appropriate card. My mind sees that as communication issues or a sub-commander that is hesitant, and is better than games that just allow you to move all units to their optimum positions like some all-seeing god of the battlefield. Of course those who play 'regular' wargames complain about not being able to move the units they want, and that it all comes down to luck in the card draws. I can see that position, but I think I prefer the M44 way.

Which brings me back to TACW. (Well, the whole Musket & Pike series, really.) I really like the mechanism here, where you switch back and fore the movement of the wings and you can try to move the same wing twice or even pre-empt the moving wing. I'd even like to see that taken down to the unit level, although it might be a bear to keep track of. One of the things I reall ylike about the old AH GBACW series was the turn order, where a die was rolled for initiative and the winner was allowed one action, which could range from activation of a single unit to a corps commander and all brigades in his command. (If memory serves correctly, as it's several years since I looked at the rules, even longer since I last played. Incidentally, one of my favorite wargames of all times was a moderated game of Stonewall in the Valley on CompuServe, with each player commanding a corps, and with an overall commander. The moderator controlled feeding you information about enemy positions (with varying degrees of accuracy), all communications and orders submitted had to be written in the style of a commander of the day to his subordinates, and using place names instead of the hex numbers. Whilst it was a lot of work for the moderator (it was his idea in the first place) it was a terrific experience, trying to figure out what those pesky rebels were doing. Everyone played in the spirit of the game, and there were several times when you had to figure out what the commander was trying to get you to do or that move orders weren't quite what the commander had planned for. Of course you still didn't know what order the initiative die rolls would mean the corps moved in. The overall commander submitted his plan for order of corps movement, per his priorities, then the dice were rolled, which meant by the time your actual units moved it could be good or bad news. A fascinating experience, probably the closest you can get to the real thing with paper and cardboard.)

Anyway, the following weekend is more gaming, as is the weekend after that. The weekend after that is the Christmas weekend, which is followed by my 2 Library mega-gaming sessions and my traditional all day event. Totally game-alicious. Man, I love December!


  • At 9:48 AM, Blogger Eric said…

    It'll be interesting to see how you react to ULB's 1st scenario for Freiburg.

    Freiburg is a rather unique conflict for the period due to both the terrain and the fact that the full battle lasted three days. (Day one - the scenario we'll be playing - ended due to a rainstorm, day two was recuperation, and the battle concluded on day three.) The 1st day of the battle also has the feel of a meeting engagement rather than a set-piece affair.


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