Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Crisis 2018 coming up

Coming weekend will be CRISIS 2018 - the highlight of our wargaming year. Our little gaming group will stage a game for the 22nd consecutive year. This year our game will feature 25mm Napoleonics in the battle of Landshut.

There's a funny thing about convention games. They never really turn out the way you imagine them. Perhaps it's because we like to talk other attendees and friends too much, such that the game never really progresses. Perhaps it's because sometimes our participation games are too successful and end up with a bunch of fanatics around the table. Sometimes it's because the game is only so-so and we also lose interest ourselves in the game after the first 30 minutes. But let's be realistic. The purpose of a convention game is not the game itself. The game is only there to serve as a starting point to talk to fellow wargamers and have an enjoyable day. And yes, I know this is different from the American convention scene, but at most European conventions, games are there as focal points to have lively conversation, not necessarily to play all day long (although that sometimes happens as well).

I've been attending gaming conventions since the late eighties and I have seen some changes over those 30 years.
  1. There is a trend that conventions become more about shopping, and less about socializing. This has been pointed out by many people on various forums before, so it's not a new observation. Whether this is a good or bad thing I don't know, but I do miss a bit of the camaraderie that was more prevalent during my early gaming days. But perhaps I am wearing rose-tinted glasses.
  2. There is more diversification in games than ever before. I don't think that at a large con such as CRISIS, with over 50 games, you will find 2 games that feature exactly the same period with exactly the same rules and exactly the same line of miniatures. That used to be different. I still remember cons in which half the games were Warhammer (has almost disappeared completely from the general cons), or DBx, just to mention a few household names.
  3. The standard of games goes up every year. We had our fair share of awards for our games over the years, but the games we displayed 20 years ago (some won a "Best of Show"), would not even receive a minute of attention these days. On the one hand, that's a good thing, but on the other hand, it's putting the bar very high for any new blood in the hobby. Also, I feel many of the excellent showgames are more about visual spectacle, and less about the game itself. I always felt that wargaming should be a blend of visuals and mechanics, but mechanics are much harder to show off when people walk by your table and don't take the effort to look more closely, because they have to spend their time shopping :-)
  4. Many years ago, conventions were still covering many aspects of the "gaming hobby", along with some peripheral activities. I really enjoyed conventions were you had roleplaying games, classic hex-and-counter wargames, miniature games, along with a few LARPers, some re-enactors, and the local Tolkien fan club thrown in for good measure. Perhaps this was because gaming was still a small niche back then, and most gamers were interested in many things, but it seems gaming has balkanized in many different subniches, which each have their own conventions, and don't mingle anymore. Again, this might be good or bad. I certainly was not interested in all of these things (I still think LARPing is silly, don't get me started ;-) ), but it provided an eclectic mélange of related interests.
Now, don't get me wrong! I still enjoy conventions very much, and I'm certainly looking forward to this weekend.

And here's an unrelated picture, me in front of the famous mosaic of Alexander the Great in the Archeological Museum in Napoli, which I visited a few weeks ago:

Thursday, 4 October 2018

ACW game: A fickle flanking force

It had been a long time since we played our last ACW game, but we managed to play one this week. We used our house rules, but with the modification of trying out a new mechanism for activating units, as decribed in this blogpost.

The new command mechanism worked quite well, and both players (Eddy and Graham, I was umpire) seemed to like it, so I will include it in the rules sheet in due time.

As for the scenario, we used the "A fickle flanking force" scenario published in WSS 95.

Without much further ado, here are the pictures. All pictures were taken by Eddy using a smartphone, and are unedited.

Initial deployment. Confederates are defending the ridge (bottom), the Union (top) has to attack the ridge. Reinforcements on the left side of the river will try to outflank the Union, but are ambushed. Graham obviously is not paying attention :-)
Reinforcements on the Confederate left flank, ambushed by Union units.
Overview of the right flank.
Reinforcement column slowly crawling forwards.
Defensive line.
Action on the left flank.
Action on the right flank.

The first Union units have reached the ridgeline.

Final action of the game.

And some more photos, covering the same game of course, taken by me: