Background image is Les Dernières Cartouches (The Last Cartridges) by Alphonse de Neuville

Friday, July 8, 2016

Catching Up: Early Summer 2016

While work has been busy, keeping me from doing as much blogging as I would like to do, I have also had the opportunity over the last couple of months to squeeze in a bit of wargaming here and there.

For one thing, I was able for once to get out to a meeting of our local ASL club, the DC Conscripts. I played two scenarios, WO3--Counterattack at Carentan and the venerable scenario 11--Defiance on Hill 30. I lost both, the first to Jason Sadler and the second to David Garvin, but enjoyed both games.

My Germans in their futile attack on Garvin's paratroopers.
Second, I met up with a group of gamers in Falls Church who meet somewhat regularly to play board wargames. I've now played four sessions with them. In one I finally got to play GMT's Virgin Queen, an excellent but highly complex game of European great-power politics in the 16th century. As the Ottoman Empire, I was able to rid the Mediterranean Sea of the Spanish scourge and establish my rule over almost all of the North African coast, as well as roust the Knights of Malta from their island stronghold. I came in third out of six blocs, which against some brainy opponents made me feel good.

Having thrashed the Spanish, the Ottoman navy book in for a minibreak at the Knights of Malta B&B.
In two other outings with the group I've had a chance to play GMT's new COIN game, Falling Sky, about the politics and warfare among the Romans and the Gallic states of the 1st century BCE. In the first playing I drew the Arverni, the central Gallic faction, against the two game designers, one playing the Romans and the other their Aedui allies. with a fourth player in charge of the Belgi, the warlike northern Gauls. I acquitted myself adequately there, with a drawn game when we stopped. On the next occasion I got the Belgi and was able to come close to winning when we had to stop the game for lack of time.

Our German cousins (black) regroup, but the Belgi (gold) have reclaimed all their territory.
And most recently I brought Wellington and was randomly selected to command the Iron Duke. I completed the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo in record time, recaptured Salamanca, and was able to draw Marshal Soult off from his siege of Cadiz, but he and Wellington fought to a standstill and we had to call the game before any decisive result was achieved.

My canny French opponents Adrian (Joseph, left) and Roberto (Soult, right) plot and plan.
 UPDATE: Here's a blog post by our host on recent boardgaming.

I've also managed to get in a couple of miniatures game. A couple of weeks ago several of us played two American Revolution scenarios using the new edition of Sharp Practice from the Too Fat Lardies. I'll put up some photos and comments in a future post, but my short review is that I was disappointed in the rules. They seem to have gone in just about the opposite direction I was hoping--instead of clarifying and streamlining the first edition rules, they're no clearer and have added layers of complication that (in my opinion) add nothing to the game. Instead of becoming more like a historical wargame covering small-unit actions (a field woefully bare in horse-and-musket era gaming), they've become more generic and game-y.

M&T: Mohawk warriors move forward in an attack on a French outpost.
I also played two scenarios of Muskets & Tomahawks recently. In like manner, I'll try to add a post with photos and commentary from our games soon. The game rules are much more clearly written than Sharp Practice, but I didn't find the games terribly compelling. Units are very small and combat results are therefore highly variable; a single round of shooting from one unit on another can be completely ineffective of completely catastrophic. Like Sharp Practice, the game feels more like watching a Hollywood movie than watching a historical battle unfold.


  1. Interesting blog. And here I am piddling along with Axis and Allies Wargaming :)

    Ever try it?

    1. Back in the early days after the first edition came out, I did play it a couple of times. I generally prefer games with a little more crunch to them, but it's a tremendously popular game.