Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Little Wars Report

I had a fantastic time at Little Wars this year. Good games, good food, good company. What's not to like? I know I promised photos, but the sad truth is that I was having so much fun that I forgot to take any pictures!

This year I rode up with my friend Bob, who is the proprietor of a local game store. We left Thursday morning after a quick breakfast at Perkins. The weather was good and traffic was light. We made it to the convention site in Lincolnshire, IL in a little over six hours. My proudest moment was that I after checking in, I made it to the hotel bar before Bob.

Bob and I hung out at the bar until the Brigadista showed up. With the Brigadista in tow, we met some friends for dinner at a place called Jimmy's Charhouse. I had an excellent fillet mignon. Everyone who didn't order the pork chops had a good meal, too. (The folks who ordered pork chops weren't very happy.) It was much better than last year's outing to Buca di Beppo.

Gaming started in earnest on Friday. Brigadista, Bob, and I played in an excellent Mexican Revolution game on Friday afternoon. The figures were wonderful 28mm figures from Old Glory. The scenario was that the rebel factions had isolated a group of federales in a town while a federale relief force with a train tried to breakthrough.

Each faction had its own objectives, which prevented close cooperation. A partner and I played the Villistas. And we had an awful time of it. We made the mistake of splitting our forces - my group was to hold off the federale relief column and train while the other tried to take the town. All we succeeded in doing was capturing a herd of sheep, a cow, and a small amount of loot before our morale failed and our troops broke. Our only distinction was that we suffered more casualties than anyone else in the game! Bob, the federale town commander, was proclaimed the winner of the game. Besides holding the town, his main accomplishment was to steal all of the loot he was supposed to be guarding!

Friday night we all played in a Command Decision: Test of Battle Spanish Civil War game. This was another game that featured a bunch of different factions with different objectives. The Nationalist players were trying to push through the Republican defenses to continue the march on Madrid. While the Nationalists had a unified military command, the Republicans were divided into different factions that had different secret objectives. The Republicans were also forbidden to communicate or coordinate with one another unless their command stands were touching. I was playing a Republican faction consisting of loyal naval troops. My objective was to advance to the main town and await further orders from high command.

I was able to march into town just ahead of the advancing Nationalists. The Nationalists had crack troops from the army of Africa - Moors and Spanish Foreign Legion. My naval troops were of unknown quality - I had to roll for it the first time I took a morale check. Low and behold, I rolled about as well as I could and my troop quality ended up very high - as good as that of the Moors, but not quite as good as the Legion. Once I was in that town, it proved impossible for the Nationalists to throw me out.

While I was busy trying to hold the town, all kinds of craziness was happening behind me. Two rival Republican factions had been given orders to occupy the telephone exchange and they came to blows over it. The POUM ended up mauling the loyal army troops who tried to evict them from the exchange. This whole situation was bad news for the Republicans because two of our five battalions were fighting one another. Fortunately the Brigadista, who commanded the doomed army troops, had left a company behind that was able to hold up some of the Moors and protect my exposed right flank.

Bob's command, the Anarchists, had been given orders to seize (and presumably destroy) the local cathedral, which had been occupied by the Spanish Foreign Legion. Bob launched a spirited, but ultimately futile attack on the cathedral. The Legion troops were just too strong.

To be honest, I have no idea what happened on the other side of the table, but it is obvious that it didn't go well for the Republicans. The Nationalists ended up winning a marginal victory by holding two of their three objectives. Bob won a prize for his bold attack on the cathedral. Ted, the commander of the POUM unit that savaged the Brigadista, won a medal. All in all, a very fun game run by a great gamemaster.

Saturday morning I helped Bob and the Brigadista get set up for their own Spanish Civil War game. I then went off to play in a Volley and Bayonet game based on the battle of Lobositz. I was given command of the Austrian cavalry and I had a very good game. I just had that feeling that I was going to roll well and win the fights that I needed to win. And that's just what happened. Right off the bat I was able to eliminate half of the Prussian cavalry with no loss to my own troops. From there I went on to exhaust the rest of the Prussian cavalry, destroy an artillery battalion, and do some serious damage to the Prussian infantry in support of the main Austrian infantry counter-attack. All my troops ended up exhausted, but they had given excellent service. Very fun.

Saturday afternoon was the flea market and I was able to clear out a bunch of stuff that was taking up space in my bunker. Very nice.

Saturday night was an invitational game of Wilderness Wars run by the authors of the rules. The scenario was an attack on a French camp by a British column during the French and Indian War. Bob, the Brigadista, and I were all on the French side. Brigadista was the French supreme commander and, in a very uncharacteristic performance, managed to win every initiative roll but one. It was amazing.

We French took a serious pounding from the British, but we managed to hold on for a victory. We were saved by the fact that the British regulars spent most of the game screwing around in the woods instead of marching quickly down the road to the open plain where they could deploy and be most effective. We were also helped by our Indian contingent, which went around the British left flank in canoes and massacred all of the broken and routed units milling about in the British rear. A brilliant victory snatched from the jaws of defeat. After the game, we all gathered in the hotel bar until they threw us out.

All in all, it was a very good convention. I played in four excellent games. I spent time with my friends and made some new friends as well. The only downside was that I couldn't really find anything to blow money on in the flea market or vendor area. I guess that means I need to keep painting the stuff I already have!

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