Commanders, a wargame digest

Commanders, a wargame digest

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Boardgame Collection

Going for playability

I have spent the past couple of years selling and buying, trying to shape this collection to meet specific playing demands and as 2022 starts that has mostly been accomplished.

Firstly, there is now a solid core of games or scenarios that can be played face to face to completion in around 2 to 2½ hours, which is a typical gaming session for us. This prevents getting involved in those half played games, where at the end of the session, there is a discussion of what would likely have happened if we had more time. 

Secondly are the games that may be a bit bigger, longer or deeper that just take my fancy due to subject matter alone.

The point is that both these parts of the collection rely on two things. Either being part of a series game, where one set of rules work across several games / expansions or clever, short rule sets, that provide no obstacle in getting the game to the table. The more these are played, the more familiar they become.

Gone are the games that fit neither description and which in truth would just sit on the shelves, not getting played. The result is a more concise but more functional collection. There will need to be a discipline to ensure it stays so! Getting to know fewer games well, will no doubt make for better gaming.

Plancenoit 1815

Crisis on the Right - Plancenoit 1815 by White Dog Games, is a small footprint look at the problem that Napoleon faced at Waterloo when the Prussians suddenly appeared on his right flank.

His troops took up positions in and around Plancenoit to block the Prussian advance. Part of the victory conditions are determined by whether Napoleon has to divert his Young Guard and / or Old Guard to bolster this wing ….. denying him those troops against Wellington at a critical time.

The map here shows the opening positions, soon the Prussians will be increasing in numbers. Plancenoit can be a neglected part of the battle for boardgamers, so it is nice to see this action covered.

Antietam

Antietam by White Dog Games. An introductory game with just 4 pages of rules.

This is the opening set up for the Confederate and Union armies. The map is particularly attractive, done in a painterly style.

I need to play this a few more times before making a decision on his game, but in my first playing, it felt like the Union had to work hard ……. and the Confederates didn’t! With an associated drop in excitement as the game went on.

I will return to this post in due course.

Hougoumont

A mini folio game from Decision Games’ Musket & Saber series. Turn 3 (1245 hours) has just concluded and the French left flank have suffered a bloody repulse, falling back with two units flipped and disrupted and another removed from play.

To the left, the Anglo-Allies have just been ejected from the woods and also forced to retreat back from the gardens. The French need more support if they are to press this position and have started to bring up their artillery to bombard the Chateau.

The game was a close win for the French, as after capturing the Chateau, they just reached two of the VP hexes, behind Hougoumont, in time.

Old School Tactical

ABOVE - OST from Flying Pig Games covers tactical WWII at a scale of 50 metres per hex, with counters representing individual infantry sections, vehicles and heavy weapons.

It is an inter-active game with ‘impulses’ going back and forth between players. I have recently shed a few tactical systems, but this one reminds me of those early days of wargaming with Avalon Hill’s basic Squad  Leader (by John Hill) and so I am happy to have the series as a core part of the collection.

Jours de Gloire

Above - This is a Napoleonic series, with hexes representing around 400 metres. The above map is from the Quatre Bras battle and on the flip side we get the waterloo map.

The series has the advantage that there are now a lot of battles covered and I have acquired Ligny, Wavre, Aspern Essling, Marengo and Austerlitz among others. 

Panzer - from GMT

A tank centric design set at the scale of 100 metres per hex. This is double the typical tactical WWII game scale of 50 metres per hex, used by the likes of Squad Leader etc and has the effect of allowing tank engagements to occur at the more likely ranges of 800 - 1500 metres.

The maps are in a sort of schematic style rather than ‘beautiful’, but I think this is simply to make the main terrain features obvious to allow the commanders eye to ‘read’ that terrain and use it to their advantage for defensive plans with interlocking fire and for safer / efficient manoeuvring when attacking.

The design goes back to the late 80’s and was later converted to a miniatures system and then in 2012, went through substantial streamlining was was republished by GMT.

To date the entire east front order-of-battle is complete, with additional modules covering west front ‘44 to ‘45 and France 1940 (minus the BEF contribution). The North African module is in development.