|Not bad for a club night!
Needless to say on arrival at the club I was welcomed in to the group of players and given a cheerful crash course in the scenario and the rules. Ben, who had done the research and sorted out the set up, had deliberately kept things simple, so the 18' x 4' table was quickly in place along with the 15mm figures. The others were all long time FOG(R) players, so things cracked along at a good pace. The rulebook hardly came out at all, and even the playsheets didn't get much use - I had the usual experience in such circumstances of being heavily guided, and there was plenty of "roll 3 dice Keith, you need 5 or 6!".
|Ben braces himself for another roll of the dice, whilst Tom and Bob look on.
Meanwhile, Jerry gets on with a bit of cheating. I'm sure this was the case, as he kept getting the better of me.
What other explanation could there be?
It was all good clean fun, with plenty of banter and much cheering of successful die rolls, and after just over 3 hours gaming it was getting towards time to pack up. The battle was a close run thing, as was the original. The cavalry flanks had engaged first, and the infantry was just becoming seriously engaged as we finished. Both sides still had a chance, but maybe Parliament had a slight edge, with all that low class Royalist infantry around. What was really impressive was that a major battle, with all units represented on the table, had been set up, wargamed and cleared away in around 4 hours. This is a tribute to the enthusiasm and knowledge of the other 4 players, and also to the rules which coped admirably, although of course it helps immensely to be well practised in their use.
|The building prominent in the centre of the photo featured in the book The War Game, (Charles Grant, 1971).
It was a gift to Stuart from the author. I handled it with care.
On moving to the Cotswolds, Stuart had to downsize his wargaming somewhat, but he retains his love of the hobby, and in particular his enthusiasm for the collection and painting of classic figure ranges in 30mm, such as Willie, Tradition and Holger Eriksson. He is also a stalwart fan of the Charge! rules, which continue to be his favourite set, and cover his favourite period. So what could be better than to be invited over for a dining table recreation of the classic Battle of Sittangbad, where a young whippersnapper such a myself could be instructed in the finer points?
Stuart has adapted the rules for smaller units of between 8 and 16 figures, and he provided me with a playsheet and rules summary to help things along. Naturally these smaller units make things a whole lot easier than handling the 48 figure, individually based infantry regiments which featured in the original book.
And so we set out the figures and got started. This was my first game at Stuart's and it was old school all the way - in fact, a real bit of old school magic. It's been a while since I handled units with individual soldiers, but with the smaller regiments it was no problem at all. This was a very different experience to Monday - a wonderfully relaxing time with rules of a very refreshing simplicity that could be picked up as one went along. The respective forces were very much in the Grant/Young tradition, being a mix of various units from a variety of horse and musket campaigns, but all lovely figures beautifully painted. Stuart's forces (in the original battle, the Electoral forces under Herzog Johann) were commanded by his favourite general, Soubise, whose figure has been with him for a long while and always appears with an ADC and his favourite... erm, niece, as Stuart puts it!
|General Soubise and his suite on Eisenberg Hill, with the 'conspicuous pair of trees' duly represented.
|Imperial forces in Sittangbad
|Unpainted base edges! Disgraceful!
|One of Stuart's favourite pieces - here performing as an Electoral battery.
|Imperial cavalry. The kettle drummer was particularly impressive.
|The battle for Eisenberg village.
|Imperial infantry advance from Sittangbad.
|Cavalry melee in full swing.
|Stuart insisted I include this one - the closing shot of the game
when his favourite artillery battery destroyed my grenadiers in one go.
All in all a fine bit of wargaming. Stuart has some of his figures on multiple bases and so we might try a bit of Honours of War with these, which should be good.
|Despite many destroyed tanks, two T-34s can just be seen on the right,
entering the village behind the main defensive line.
|The entry of the German reserves (mainly STUGs and Panthers) prevents a Russian victory.
A final point - in classic wargaming fashion, Paul had resolved his need for a fair amount of cornfields at short notice by a visit to B&Q, where he had obtained the doormats you can see for a quid each. And of course, our imaginations supplied the rest. Doormats? What doormats?
On Variety In Wargaming
Being made redundant from my job in Bristol and moving to Oxfordshire was of course initially unwelcome, and an upheaval my wife and I could have done without, at the time. But overall things have worked out. In wargaming terms, I have managed to keep in touch with old buddies in the Bristol area, and have made a number of new friends in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire who have really enriched the hobby for me.
What these three games demonstrated to me was that despite all the different rules, different periods and different model scales, it's the wargamers themselves that make for such a variety of experiences in the hobby. Even with the same rules and the same period in the same scale, you can have very different games as your wargaming company changes. This is both enjoyable and instructive, as one is exposed to different approaches to the hobby. Intense or relaxed games, beautifully painted or quickly produced models, big or small scenarios - take your choice, or if you're lucky like me, don't choose at all and enjoy the variety. Long may it continue.