Thursday, 5 December 2013

Picking Up Loose Threads

It's been a while since I posted anything. If you are interested, Mrs T & I are just back from a week's sitting in the sun at Sharm el Sheikh. Lots of booze, lots of food, and lots of books read. Thank you for asking.

Whilst I've been away the Monday Night boys have been playing a bit of ACW. They do that when I'm not around as they know I'm not a big fan of the period. I also missed Ian's last Monday Night game as he went off to retire in Cornwall this week.

Any how, they'd been playing 1st Bull Run or Manannassasssass or whatever. Like "banana" Manananasassas is a word it is easy to start spelling but I'm never too sure when to stop. Will hosted the game and he's on a journey to refight all the battles of the ACW, using plastic 20mm figures and RFCM's "Civil War Battles". A man's gotta have goals in life, I suppose.

Because of the style of games we play we frequently play a game across several evenings, and because of the loose nature of the group we don't always get the same players each week either. Despite their best efforts last week the Group were unable to finish the game, and so it carried over into this week. And they did give it a good go, as is evidenced by Phil's write up: Phil's Blog. However, most of what the Unionists did was put in a massive flank march, presumably ahead of a final assault.

I say presumably as the Unionists were lead by one of our occasional Grahams and Ian. We knew Ian wouldn't be back for part two as mentioned above. And the occasional Graham couldn't make it this week. So the Unionists were handed over to me and one of our very occasional Chrises.

Not having had a briefing from the previous players we sort of looked at where we were and scratched our heads a bit, then just plunged in. I'm not sure what Ian's grand scheme was for my bit of the board but within a move half my chaps were streaming off the table in rout and the others had effectively gone to ground for a protracted fire fight. All very ACW, I suppose, but I was left wondering if I'd missed a trick. My partner in crime, Chris W, likewise just tried to move forward and similarly got into a fire fight. The Rebs, played by Phil & Richard continuing from last week just smiled and held on.

And that was about it really. There was a bit of movement and the odd charge but in essence we blazed away at each other for about four hours of playing time to very little effect. I was left wondering if I'd missed a trick. I'd certainly missed my camera, so you'll need to wait on Phil for some pictures of the second day's gaming. In summary, the Rebs held on easily and the Unionists made a complete botch of it all, ably assisted by discontinuity in command and our inability to know when it was best to roll sixes and best to roll ones.

Will has modifed CWB to make it play a bit quicker but there's still an awful lot of dice rolling to no great effect as the armies bog down into fire fights and melees are a real crap shoot. All very authentic but not always completely fulfilling as an experience. With all of that said Will has got a nice visual aesthetic for the armies and the games, even enlisting Mrs Will to paint some of his hills.

Honestly, try as I might I do not get this period*. I do not find it interesting militarily, I do not consider it to be as important as a world event as most of its gamers seem to think. It is only, in my opinion, because it occurred in such a large, dominant country that it gets so much coverage. Like US police programmes mean most people in thr UK know more about their rights when arrested in the US than they do in their own country many think of the ACW when the phrase "Civil War" is mentioned. I just do not get it.

Still, if the game's there, I'll play it.

* And believe me, I've tried. I've built and got rid of ACW armies in the distant past. I even studied its origins at university. I did quite enjoy watching "Glory" however.


  1. Being wargamers, I think we all understand Graham and Ian trying to outflank the position - but, from within the game, I thought it was fatal, all the way through: they should have knocked us out of the dominant central position when they enjoyed overwhelming force there, early on.

    As it was, we were able to defend on the front foot, and had plenty of space to deploy arrivals where they needed to go.

    As for your lack of engagement ... well, to me, it is like our own Civil War ... two sets of amateurs killing each other over a set of ideas/ideals most of the protagonists don't fully understand so that posterity can argue over the fragments long after they are dead.

    Militarily I think the battles - and the evolution of the ways of war - are quite interesting ... but I'm not sure if CWB is the game to bring that out.

    Way better than the ponderous 'Fire & Fury', but still some way short of doing the military history any favours ...

    Not everyone will agree :)


    1. I think your reply makes my point for me. I wasn't aware of what Graham & Ian's plan was, so I couldn't have carried it through. I was like the country man giving directions "I wouldn't have started from here".

      As for the interest and comparison with the ECW, - well that's a matter of opinion. I think the ECW battles are much more interesting and exciting. But that's me.

  2. Grrr. Let's try again. The European wars of the mid-19th century are much more interesting than the ACW in my uneducated opinion.

    Best Regards,


    1. I think there's a lot in that. As a group we've touched briefly on 19th century Europe. Phil has a Franco-Prussian wargame under development. Last play test was about 10 years ago. You can see the speed we move at.

      Whether you find something interesting is a matter of opinion, regardless of education. How else can you explain the apparent obsessional interest in the minutiae of "celebrity" lives.