Sunday, 13 July 2014

Conference of Wargamers 2014 - Sunday

The weekend passes so quickly, but you cram so much in. The last three sessions proved to be just as enjoyable as those that preceded them. Not as many pictures this time, but here we go:

Challenges and Adventures
So Tom, who runs the best RPG sessions ever, was going to do a 40th anniversary D&D game. He got out his original white box etc to prepare and realised it was incomprehensible rubbish, so he wrote his own rules, and did some great graphics:
Oh look! I'm an archer & this is my stuff.
There were eight of us in the scenario which Tom outlined with his customary dash. We got off the boat and wandered up a path way and got attacked. Just to learn the rules, you understand.

Jon, Judith & John look like they are taking this way too seriously.
The mechanisms were quite ingenious and the graphics and stuff are great, as I said, but ultimately it's all about the story and how the players bounce off one another. This story had just the right mix of cliché and originality to bring back memories of the long, hot summer when we just played RPGs all day long as teenagers. In the end we found the evil temple, massacred the worshippers and freed the princess. Or whatever. Much fun had by all.

The final confrontation in the temple. How could I miss at that range?
Rapid Raphia 
This was my second session, organised at short notice. There were some gaps in the programme and I thought it would be fun to refight Raphia, - one of the largest ancient battles - in about 30 minutes with no dice. Couldn't work out how to do it. Then when I woke up Thursday morning I found I had dreamt the whole play system. I nipped down to Shedquartes, typed up the rules on the netbook, drew up two playing grids and sorted out the figures. I didn't ruin the idea with any play testing.

Over the weekend I got a bit worried as a few people remarked they were really looking forward to the session. I was expecting it to tank after 15 minutes.

As it was we played it four times on the two boards in just over an hour and got a mix of outcomes. Everyone who took part claimed to enjoy it and asked for the revised version once the changes were written in that were found in the play tests. I was astonished that the core system worked really well and only a few adjustments were needed. I'll write a more complete blog on the system in the next week or so, but the core of the game is a card management and deployment mechanism.

Jim Roche & Chris Ager clash across the Rapid Raphia board

Russell King takes me on for the first two moves before Tony Hawkins arrives.

The Drury brothers clash. A classic  CoW grudge match.

The Drurys end their game with Antiochus & Ptolemy killing each other at the head of their Companions
I thought of the game as a high speed knock about bit of fun. After a short while it was being referred to as "Carefully Considered Raphia" as much brain work was put into what cards needed to go where. Not every unit gets a card each go, and woe betide you if a cardless unit is attacked.

Lies, Damned Lies & Statistics
This was a discussion lead by Jim Wallman and John Bassett on the use of sources, how they influence game design and how you fill in the gaps. I can't really say more, but it was very thought provoking to say the least. It's the sort of well informed discussion that CoW excels in.

And then it's time for home, with many promises to meet up and play games before next year. CoW is unique. It's a group of old friends who meet once a year to eat and drink well and play games in a civilized environment. Even those who are attending their first one easily fall into the category of old friends after the first 5 minutes.

Next year will be the 35th CoW at Knuston. I've missed two, I think, over that time and I hope I never have to miss any more. Each year I learn new things and enjoy new games. Yes the toy soldiers are important and there are some nice looking games but it's about ideas, imagination and design. It's unique. I love it.


  1. I really enjoyed these last two posts. I'm looking forward to a blog post on Rapid Raphia, it looks like it was a bit of a hit at the conference. I also really enjoyed the pictures of the Afghanistan game with the block compound. Took me straight back to an earlier time when the game was the thing, not the elaborate terrain and paint jobs with flashy rulebooks etc.

    1. I think RR was more of a hit-ette, rather than a fully fledged hit but I think it has got legs to go further (possibly as a WD show game?)

      The games at CoW all have to be portable and they are all, pretty much, home designed (which is sort of the point). A game is judged by how it plays. It's okay to have your toys and terrain admired, but if that's all any one is impressed by then the game's a failure.

      And no one is impressed by you just turning up with someone else's rules unless you have a really, really, good reason.

  2. Hi Graham, I was interested to see your Rapid Raphia rules, as I have a written a card driven, grid based set myself, although the mechanics appear to be rather different. If you drop me an email I'd be very pleased to send you a copy. Best, Simon

    1. Simon,

      Thanks for the offer. Hopefully I'll post a copy of Rapid Raphia in the next few days. Once you've had a look let me know how far apart we are, then I'll get in touch.


  3. ' ... Yes the toy soldiers are important and there are some nice looking games but it's about ideas, imagination and design. It's unique. I love it.'

    Worth repeating that sentiment - and I agree. In a way it's a good job not too many people realise how much they would enjoy it (or we'd all get edged out in the rush for places ...) ...


    1. Good point Phil. I won't say another word.