Thursday, 4 September 2014

Schild&Vriend Crisis Games 1997-2013

As some of you know, our little gaming group Schild & Vriend runs a demo/participation game every year at the annual Crisis wargame convention, held in Antwerp. We started doing this in 1997, although we had run some games at other conventions before that. That makes 17 wargames total. During four of these years, we have won a trophy for either 'Best game of Show', 'Best participation game' or 'Most innovative game'.

With our 18th game at CRISIS coming up, I felt it was time for a quick overview ...

1997: Wild West Gunfights

We were in our "Wild West" phase during those years. We played the "Shootist" rules, a small leaflet I picked up during one of the Fantasy World conventions held in Antwerp years previously. I even had written a small C-program that generated random gunfighters. These were collected in a big listing with 1000 entries, which we called the "Shootist-O-Matic" (roll a D1000 and a random shootist came out). I still have it lying around somewhere ...

So, no surprise we staged a Shootist game that year during Crisis.

Shootist game using Geohex terrain. All figures from Wargames Foundry. Gathered around the table (left to right: Frank Vleugels, Bart Vetters, Dominique Coene, Maarten Logghe, and unknown.)
Some more pictures of Crisis 97 can be found here.

1998: "For a Few Tusks More"

This was the period in which Foundry released a large number of Darkest Africa figures. Some very nice jungle scenery was constructed (still in our possession), along with special desert terrain tiles.

For a Few Tusks More. Maarten Logghe is at the far left.
More pictures and report of the game can be found here. The scratch-built fort and the jungle scenery were later re-used in our "Attack on Fort Stanley" game in 2008.

1999: "Mons Badonicus"

This game featured an Arthurian battle on custom-made terrain. Sadly, no pictures were recovered, and the terrain itself has also been liquidated.

This game was awarded "Best of Show"  by the show organizers.

2000: ACW game

A large American Civil War game, featuring mostly Foundry 25mm figures. Alas, we have no photographs to back things up, but the figures and most of the scenery are still in our possession.

Update October 2014: recovered pictures!

2001: "Raid on Zeebrugge"

We decided to stage a Belgian battle, and after some rummaging through one of the books written by military historian Luc De Vos ("Veldslagen in de Lage Landen"), we ended up with the Raid on Zeebrugge. This raid was set during WW1, and involved British troops storming the mole at Zeebrugge harbour. We made the gaming boards in the garage of Bart Dils' parental house during several weekends.

The Raid on Zeebrugge setup.
I recall we spent quite a lot of cash on this game. All model houses, railways, etc. were all bought from toy stores. This was also the time at which the standard of wargames at CRISIS was not yet terribly high, and thus a game like this was a real showstopper. This resulted in a 2nd place for 'Best Game of Show', nicknamed 'Best Scenery' - which was quite a disappointment for us at the time. We got a gift voucher for roughly 30 euros, if I recall correctly, to be used at one of the trade stands.

More pictures of the game can be seen here. The scenery of this game was re-used for our Crisis 2004 game "Operation Shield Friendly", and also made an appearance at one of the Red Barons shows.

2002: Wild West meets Indians meets ACW

For this game, we re-used a lot of material from the ACW and Wild West games we ran a few years earlier. We also used the Shootist rules again, playing out some small inter-linked scenarios on a huge gaming table.

Sadly, I cannot find any photographs of this game.

2003: "Legionnaires in the Desert"

This was a very special game, made completely out of wood - and that includes the figures! When I was living in the US, I became a big fan of the Woodens range of flat wargaming figures. The idea for this game revolved around creating a wooden landscape out of MDF-wood. It produced a nice visual look, and got a lot of attention during the convention.

All figures are Woodens, scenery elements in resin.
Some more information about this game and the figures can be found on the Woodens page

2004: "Operation Shield Friendly"

2004 was another year in which we apparently did not have much inspiration, since we re-used the Zeebrugge gaming table from a years before, but now we staged a WW2 landing operation. Again, no pictures of this game, we still do have the flyer.

2005: "Arnhem"

In 2005 we organized a Kriegspiel-like setup. Based on the 1944 operations around Arnhem, we staged a 6mm game that allowed participants to contribute a micro-move to the game.

This was one of the first convention game we designed around getting as much participants involved as possible. The idea was that the umpire would act as narrator, and provide decisions to onlookers. Every decision to be made revolved around some particular unit, and involved at least some dice rolling. Here's a blogpost describing the game in more detail.

This game also resulted in an article (our first!) we wrote for Wargames Illustrated.

This game was also appreciated by the organizers, since we were awarded with the "Best Participation Game" trophy.

2006: "Dogfights over Flanders"

After the efforts we had put in the Arnhem game, we decided to stage something lighter in 2006. We ran a hexified version of the WW1 dogfight rules "Wings of War". This provided some short, 15 minute games. IIRC, this was also the start of our love for Kallistra hex-tiles.

Some planes are visible in the background in this WW1 dogfighting game.
2007: "The Blue Lotus"

This was a game based on the famous TinTin story "The Blue Lotus". My original idea was to run a pulp-game set in 1930's China, more or less based on the adventures in the comic book. The modeling of the town was done pretty well, if I can say so myself, but the big drawback was we actually did not have a game to run ;-) All time had crept into painting and modeling - literally up to a few hours before everything had to be packed in the car. I still have all the scenery and figures, so at some time, we should run an actual game using this setup.

1930s Shanghai modeled after a Tintin comic.
2008: "Attack on Fort Stanley"
This game was again an effort in getting as much participants involved as possible. The game was set in Darkest Africa, and recycled scenery and figures from our 1998 convention game. Fort Stanley was positioned in the middle of the jungle, and was attacked from all sides by natives.

The game design itself revolved around large action cards, which were made available for everyone to see. Any bystander could pick one of the action cards, and execute the order listed on the card. This mechanism consolidated some of my thinking w.r.t. mass participation games, something that would prove useful a few years later.

Fort Stanley, still in our possession. Also notice the wildlife.
2009: "AquaZone"

In 2009 we staged a game that I had been thinking about for quite a few years. I always wanted to do a scuba-diving game of underwater combat, and so over the years I collected plastic fish, plastic scuba divers, etc. The game itself featured our time-tested system of each figure having a number of action points, and combat resolution was resolved using opposite dice.

Notice the whale in the middle of the gaming table. From left to right: Eddy Sterckx, Bart Vetters, Phil Dutré.
2010: "Poltava"

Bart's obsession with the Great Northern War produced this excellent game featuring the battle of Poltava. Again, we wanted a game that targeted audience participation. A card-driven system drove the battle forwards, with each card offering some choices for the players.

2011: "Papierslag"

In our quest for providing some original game settings, I stumbled upon the paper armies from Billy Bones' Workshop. We spent quite a few evenings cutting and glueing together these excellent 2D figures and scenery, and built an entire ECW battlefield.

The new look-and-feel charmed many players, including the organizers, who awarded us with the "Most Original Game" trophy.

2012: "An Der Schönen Blauen Donau"

The Danube was featured prominently in our 2012 game. Instead of moving troops, players would control the currents in the Danube to make sure various flotsam and jetsam was bumped into French pontoon bridges, such that the battle of Asspern-Essling would be won by the Austrians. A fun and original game, and we also published in article about this game in Miniature Wargames with Battle Games.

2013: "Red vs Blue"

My lingering ideas of running a mass-participation wargame finally came all together in our Red vs Blue game. We printed several thousand participation cards, handed these out in the convention hall, and inviting players to come to our table to participate for a few minutes. The game ran continuously in real-time. At the end of the day, we clocked over 250 participants. This game gave us the "Most Original Game" award. An article about this game is currently in the pipeline ...

2014: ??? 

Our drive for setting up games during CRISIS is still burning strong, so watch for our game this year!


  1. Great post !
    I remember all your projects since 2001 (but first seen at the Red Barons convention).
    Your "Arnhem" and "Red vs Bue" are clearly among the best tables I have seen.
    Hope to see you at Crisis,
    Kind regards,

  2. Thanks for remembering all our games. I had difficulty myself to remember what games we have ran in what year :-)

  3. Great seeing all those games again.