Friday, August 31, 2018

Napoleonic Bridges -- A World without C-4

Long time, no write, I guess.  Work and extracurricular activities have directed me elsewhere.

But tonight I was playing through a few rousing sessions of "Holdfast:Nations at War" with my son.  For the unfamiliar, it's a 75-on-a-side Napoleonic skirmish game.  Lovely models and terrain wrapped around a combat system I cannot seem to get any better at.  Still, there aren't enough Napoleonic shooters to let me complain overmuch.

In the midst of one fight, I wound up a British line infantryman trying to fight my way over a bridge "somewhere in Spain".  After a lot of shooting -- and a lot of dying -- it hit me really hard.  Hard enough that I stopped fighting and took a picture.

You see, over at, I'm one of two umpires running an 1809 Kriegsspiel using the Flight of the Eagle rules.  Much in the early going in the scenario involves the Austrians crashing across either the Isar or the Danube and the French -- significantly outnumbered -- trying to stop them.  As the game has unfolded over the past month, there have been numerous attempts to build bridges, destroy bridges, build pontoon boats, damage bridges, &c.  My fellow umpire and I have agreed that folks don't quite seem to understand how difficult it was to either build paths across rivers or to significantly damage bridges.  This was, after all, the era before the Army Corps of Engineers and C-4.  I'm inclined to think most of the tasks imagined by the players were nigh impossible and the "nigh" got dropped if your opponent happened to have forces on the other bank to stop you.

The rules do an excellent job, I think, of getting at this, but the players are certainly kicking against the restrictions.  I shall have to tell them a Holdfast story or two.

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