First up apologies for the lack of posts in the last few weeks. Not only has the weather continued to conspire against me (for my international followers the UK has been in a frozen state since Christmas witjh no sign of the promised spring) but commitments on domestic and work fronts have seriously curtailed both my gaming and painting/terrain building.
All I have to show for a fairly torrid March so far are a few Redoubt Miniatures pirates, civilians and animals. Photos of these will appear shortly.
As you will be aware one of the things I tend to do in my games is to set out a story, why the combatants are present? What are their objectives? And where possible add some unforeseen events. To do this requires some preparation, some writing and a good deal of imagination.
As a starting point I do build up all the orders of battle, plan out the objectives for both sides and then commit these to paper. These documents not only serve as an introduction to the game but also serve as ready reckoners during the game itself. For example I copy the crib sheets from rule books and laminate these to the descriptive text that i have written. These are all then kept in a file so the game can be replayed in the future. In addition I can then circulate these orders of battle to others in the wargames fraternity of interested.
The mission objective is always my first step, from here I can develop the idea of which forces would be present, the nature of the terrain and any sub plots that may arise. Equally knowing how long a game is to be played, how many players involved etc always helps. To give you an example.
Last month I attended Cavalier, a small show in Kent. Whilst rummaging around in one of the lead bins on a stand I came across a very large ships cannon – much bigger than the ones I had already purchased for my Pirate games. This was a beast. The idea of the scenario was born in the purchase of this gun. Thinking French Indian Wars, what if one force transported this large gun up river and positioned the piece on a bend of a strategic river. Such a cannon could have a devastating affect on local traders, supplies etc. A bit like the Guns of Navarone. Presuppose that the attacking force had to eliminate this threat because it endangered their supply lines. Then throw in a time element, if it is not destroyed in a certain time the attackers forces elsewhere would suffer.
The gun itself would be well defended (opportunity for terrain building), it would need supplies of powder (another opportunity to disable the piece), and could well be sited near a resident garrison(local fort)
The attacking force would need to be skilled, fast and determined to meet its objectives in time, but maybe the attackers had mistaken the size of the garrison. I like nothing better than setting up a game with a fog of war. Its not that I don’t like matched sides in points but lets face it life is rarely fair, so why should our games. Overcoming distractions, obstacles that hadn’t been considered in advance and the odd twist all add to a game’s enjoyability.
The other thing I like to do in my games is to throw surprises into the mix, whether these be traitorous spies, shortages of ammo, dummy cannons etc. Clearly the side that manages these would be in the know but their opposition doesn’t. This does mean that that sometimes I end up umpiring a game but to watch the players faces when they have been double crossed or to discover that the loot is not where it is supposed to be always adds to the fun.
Based on some of the feedback I have received to date one of the things that appeals in my games are the ‘extras’ – civilians milling around, animals grazing and various bits and bobs scattered across the table. I think they all add to the personality of the game and can add some real flavour especially when they can be drawn into the narrative of the battle. For example scalp victims in the French Indian Wars, plunder in Pirates and raids in the Viking times.
These are just a few musings...off to finish painting the cannon and to prep the next battle