Sunday, January 14, 2018

Happy New Year -- A Plan to March with Bonaparte

Well it has been a while, hasn't it?  I've published a fair amount of stuff over at, but, honestly, I feel like I've fallen behind a bit in thinking and writing about games.  That said, I've done well in keeping to my New Year's resolution which is to play all of the Commands and Colors: Napoleonics scenarios -- standard, epic, and LGB -- as they fall throughout the year.  I intend to play the French against my son's allies and we'll see how things go.  He's a pretty good at evaluating games. if he likes losing no better than the next fellow.

Game the first was Corunna, 16th January 1809.  A well known battle to those that love the Peninsular War, it was the bitter end of the long retreat of the British army in the Peninsula that began months before when Napoleon crossed the Pyrenees and shattered the Allied armies raising insurrection against him.  Turning his attention back East, the Emperor left Marshal Soult to mop matters up and he drove Sir John Moore and his army mercilessly back to the port town of Corunna.

The map lays out well in C&C:N.  The principle pieces are all there -- notably the small town of Elvina which was the center of much bloody fighting.

In our game, my son, as is his wont, had no notion of waiting for my advance and instead descended on my right.  He made good progress, but some lucky card play -- I came up with not one but two "Assault Right" cards -- blunted that business.  Matters then turned to the center where he did everything in his power to push his Guards forward.  For those unfamiliar, British Guard Grenadiers not only have five blocks to the usual four, but, depending on the cards played to activate them, they can roll as many as seven dice.  I knew I had to do everything I could to blunt them and burned through tactical cards to hold him at bay.

In the end, his aggression got the better of him and I would up with a 6-3 victory.  I am curious as to why the scenario allocated five tactics cards to the French and only four to the British.  Each side receives the same number of command cards and I can see no reason for conferring this advantage on the French.

Still, a fine scenario and, for your enjoyment, here it is in 42 seconds:

Vive L'Empereur!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

A New Review and Saying Words About Games

Back now from not merely Jena-Auerstedt but Leipzig, Saalfeld, Schleitz, Lutzen, and Breitenfeld.  The latter two were a late addition, but I couldn't say no to my guy Gustavus Adolphus II.

Since coming home a bit over a week ago I've had this published:

And said some words about gaming here:

Both worth checking out, but I'm hardly unbiased.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A C&C:A Coda

First, today is the battle of Waterloo +202 and, for me, it's always a day of remembrance.  I think I shall always take it as history's greatest battle and only regret I can't visit every year.

Back weary from Origins, but I wanted to follow up on the folks who wondered how the kids' Commands and Colors: Ancients gaming from would go.

It was absolutely splendid.

For those who don't know, running a wargame at a convention these days is something of a crap shoot.  Some days you can't put up enough chairs and others you wind up talking to your friends in the booth.  The one thing the organizers of Grogheads Central Command seem to have intuited, however, is that there's a fair number of older folks with young children that want to have their children at least try the games they love.  It turned out that it would be hard to imagine a better game than C&C:A.  As said before the scenario was simple, the number of different unit types limited, there's no terrain, and the objective is simple enough.  The young people, and their parents, responded.

We had six slots if memory serves and only one of them had no takers.  Others were oversubscribed and I'm glad I brought an extra copy of the base game so we could set up an extra table for the unexpected players.

A few animadversions if I might:

1.  Every one of the parents that came by wanted their children to enjoy the game for its own sake.  Sure, a few of them seemed to be harboring the hope that their boy or girl would be willing to play something other than "Click, Clack, Lumberjack" with them, but that did not come at the expense of the youngster having fun.

2.  C&C:A is stupid popular.  I had quite a few folks wander by as I was setting up and ask if I was looking for a game.  They seemed quite disappointed when I said the session was targeted at kids.  My second favorite moment of the whole business, though, was the fellow who looked to be my age who, while HL was helping a youngster at another table, asked if I'd be willing to teach him the game as he'd just bought it.  His enthusiasm for the system and gratitude for me having taken the time was memorable.

3.  My number one moment, though, came from the very first session just on Thursday.  A pair of brothers were brought over by their father.  The older brother was a talker -- verbal and connected to those around him.  The younger was an introvert who said little even as I explained the rules and the game set up.  Once the game started though, this kid, who was certainly no more than six, either by accident or design understood the scenario almost intuitively.  Playing the Syracusans, he nigh-wordlessly marched his heavies, one hex at a time, across the battlefield and ground his brother into paste.  He could have advanced his flanks but never expressed an interest.  He never acted bored or restless -- quite the contrary, it seemed he really, really, really wanted to play.  He played cards, moved blocks, and rolled dice with the confidence and focus of a real veteran.  He crushed his brother 5-0.

A fine, fine set of memories -- and, may I say, a bit of a hope for a groggier tomorrow.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Bit of C&C Ancients By Way of Apology

It's been a bit since I've been by.  The nice folks at have been publishing a fair amount of my stuff and I've not been to the table as much as I'd like either.  With that as prologue, HL and I set to several rounds of Commands and Colors: Ancients as we prepare for our part in the Grogheads Central Command, set to begin this very Thursday at Columbus, OH's own Origins game convention.  I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those who remember that Origins was once a wargame convention and would like to see wargaming return to a place; its rightful place having been usurped it would seem by a combination of lovely boardgames and silicon chips.

Particularly exciting this year, we're going to have some wargaming geared to younger gamers.  We've chosen C&C:A because of its relative simplicity, but also because it's offered for sale by the fine folks at Enterprise Games who are one of the sponsors of Central Command.  We've got three slots available and have chosen three different scenarios, each of ascending difficulty, so that certain rules can be taught as we go.

The first is, appropriately enough, the very first of the included scenarios, the battle of Akragas (406 B.C.)  It suits the present purposes as it offers a limited number of troop types and has no terrain.  The historical narrative of the battle is reasonably well handled here: where, to sum up, the Syracusans come to break the Carthaginian siege of the city and win rather handily.  In our own dust up, HL had the Syracusans.

The image above is the board at start.  My big bats are the two heavy chariots, one unit to either side.  They punch hard and can follow up a successful melee with another melee, but, at two blocks, they are near an archetype of the glass cannon.  My foe men for their part have that cluster of heavy infantry in the middle that, while slow, represents the very best of Greek spear-and-shield fighting; all together best avoided.

It didn't take too many turns for matters to go pear-shaped.  The Syracusan right fell on my left -- as a dad, I'm pleased the boy is finding some aggression, but I digress -- and, with a couple of lucky rolls, wiped out my chariots before they could do anything more than kill a light infantry block or two.  My right flank is ordering pizza from a charming local eatery; or something else unproductive.

The left is not improving.  Dionysius has crashed his medium cavalry well into my lines.  If I'm not mistaken, I'm already down 3-0 in victory banners at this point.

I managed to turn the tide just a little bit by wheeling Himilco and his mighty auxilia (sigh) who, with the assistance of a "Clash of Shields" card, joined in my single best turn of the game.  With the bonus that card confers in hand, I was able to cobble together three victory banners.  Although, as can be seen, my other heavy chariot unit is gone.  HL proved unnaturally adept at rolling red squares this afternoon.

The end, though, was one of those moments for which C&C:A is deservedly well-regarded.  Daphnaeus had marched his heavies all the way across the board -- one hex at a time -- eventually to reach Himilco's command.  I would note in passing that Dionysius has scampered off to behind the Syracrusan lines.  His five heavy dice were enough to end the rest of Himilco's troops and then, at the last, Himilco himself.

Final score: 5-3.

This will be a good scenario for Origins, I think.  Short setup and HL and I managed the whole of it, with photography, in well less than 45 minutes.  Here's to a bit of groggy goodness in Ohio this week.