Saturday, 12 July 2014

COW 2014 - Friday

Another July, another Conference of Wargamers. The sun is up, the sky is blue, what more could you want?

The weekend started with the traditional battlefield visit organised by John Curry. This year nine of us made the journey to Cropredy to visit its bridge and the environs where was played out William Waller's last action. We met at the Brasenose Arms (very nice, - doesn't open until 12) and enjoyed a lovely lunch and some excellent beer before heading off to view the site.

The Memorial on Cropredy Bridge. Wreaths from the Battlefields Trust

Phil does the briefing on the bridge. He'd walked the field before.

The view from the bridge towards the Royalist line on the ridge

About halfway across. View from 17th century barn towards bridge

View from Royalist position across valley to Bourton

There's no real substitute for walking the land. The Cropredy area has been changed by the addition of hedges and the building of a canal but the site of the battle is mostly unchanged. The area round the bridge is water meadow, and the hills are open and shallow. The horse riders amongst us declared it would be fine countryside for a gallop.

The battlefield is spread out as Waller was attacking the King's Army whilst on the march, so you need time or a car to see it. Best of all, probably, is to get on a Battlefield Trust walk.

Phil had kindly done the driving from Northampton so we had to go back to Trebian Towers for me to pick up my car and equipment for the weekend, then off to Knuston!

A Mighty Wind

The Plenary Game was short and silly. Players were divided into teams of two, - ground crew and pilot. They had to produce head bands, haikus & paper planes to crash into the oncoming American Fleet. Yes, its a game about kamikaze flyers. All over very quickly, a bit like.....

The Fleet approaches across the croquet lawn.

The first wave prepares to launch its attack.

Toni-San poses for his farewell picture before his mission

The Imperial Sun rises over Knuston.

We then swapped rolls and the ground crew got to write haikus and attack the fleet:

My plane has a bomb
But on the whole I'd
Rather be in Philadelphia

WW2 Special Forces Operations
In previous year's Tom M has run "Footfall" games, where teams of daring specialists take on eldritch horrors and blow them up. This year he took the core mechanisms of that role playing game and used them to run a commando raid on a German Secret Base in Holland. There were eight of us, ably commanded by Jim Roche, with me as his deputy. I really should have paid more attention to the briefing.

Tom briefs us over a facsimile of a wartime map.
We were one section of a company landing in nine gliders. We had to land in this secret base, dismantle all the secret equipment and then spirit it away on a jeep provided by one of the other sections. We were to be delivered by glider under cover of a 500 bomber raid. Other sections were to seal off the area, provide cover and so on.

Things went badly from the start. The flak was very heavy. There were night fighters. Our towing plane was hit and we crash landed. Captain Jim was thrown through the window and killed, putting me in charge. I really, really should have listened to the briefing. Luckily for Jim the glider co-pilot survived and he got to join the section as him. Alas he had no idea where we'd crashed.

Tom laid out the terrain and it looked like we were on the target. As we crept towards the buildings you got the feeling something wasn't right. Then a convoy of German trucks drove past, ignoring our crashed glider. Perhaps we were in the wrong place. We promptly re-checked the map, stole a German truck and followed the German column on the grounds they were probably off to protect the high value target in the area.

Soon explosions were going off in the distance. The German column had been ambushed. After some discussion we deployed our Bren Gun and snipers (good quick thinking by Corporal Alex) whilst we got on the radio to the Dutch resistance.

The German convoy is ambushed

It turned out the Germans had been ambushed by the Dutch.With our help they were wiped out and through the radio we managed to avoid getting killed by our allies. Alas the road was too badly blocked to get the stolen truck through. Any how we finally found the proper location having received the news from the Dutch that no other gliders had made it down safely. We were on our own.

The Secret Base (NB Antenna in wrong position)
We stealthily approached up the road. We improvised a plan. Chris & Rob would go off to the launch pad and blow it up and steal things. Alex & Charlie would go and steal a truck and the rest of us would follow the Germans down into the bunker to steal more things.

Searching the bunker
Most of this went smoothly. We were able to unmask a Nazi spy in our midst (someone posing as a Geramn speaking Jew to get into the Commandos), and get out of the bunker with lots of paper work, only taking one leg wound (well done Russell).

We rush towards the truck in a hail of bullets
Chris & Rob killed some guards, stole a control panel thingy and blew loads of stuff up. Alex had rigged up the Bren gun in the truck to provide covering fire as we fled the scene with lots of special effects happening in the background. He also remembered the route to the rendezvous with the MTB. As I said, really should listen to the briefing next time.

A rip-roaring success all round.

I managed to squeeze in a final game of Ian Drury's night bombing raids over Germany, but I have neither a name nor a photograph for that session. I'm pleased to rpeort we landed home safely with slight damage having dropped our bombs somewhere in the region of Hanover. Probably.

An excellent start to the weekend.


  1. Sounds exciting, and I wish I could be there.

    1. You should plan to come. Last year we had someone who finally got round to attending after years of not doing so and regretted all the years he had missed it.