Tuesday, 25 April 2017
ONE HOUR WARGAMES - a review and mini AAR
When I was a kid living in Norfolk back in the 70`s, I discovered my first ever books on wargaming. Actually, they were among the first ever books to be written on the subject of wargaming - full stop! Great titles by great gentlemen. Sadly, mostly all of these authors have now passed on to the great game table in the sky.. a poignant reminder perhaps, that so much that we take for granted now is in fact a mere transitory moment in time: but their books remain... and are as passionately insightful and wonderful as they were the day they originally hit the shelves (the good old days when real book shops smelt of old wood, paper, and just the slightest hint of pipe tobacco). Aaaah the good old days when every self respecting gamer`s book shelf contained at least a few titles by the likes of Charles Grant, Donald Featherstone, Bruce Quarrie, Terrance Wise, Tony Bath, Gavin Lyall, and Stuart Asquith.
Times changed.... things moved on, and the old days were all but forgotten by most. Same as a distant memory of things long past: faded and barely retained. Nowadays, gamers are too busy carrying on the modern trend of all too readily disposable games and rulebooks. Buy a game, play it twice, put it on a shelf, and forget about it ever more. So, so sad.
But occasionally, just very occasionally.. a book comes along which makes us sit up and take note. It really is a rare thing nowadays, which is why when it happens (and it comes to my attention) I make a big point of ensuring I spread the word about it to all my gaming peers, so they too have a chance not to miss out on such a wonderful and precious treat.
The book I discovered quite by chance, is by a wargame author called Neil Thomas. He is an avid and passionate gamer, and a writer with an unusual sideways take on the hobby: an oblique thinking man with a keen mind and an unusually astute perspective on things. The book in question is one of his newest titles, called “One-Hour Wargames.” And promotes 176 pages of pure unadulterated heaven:“practical battles for those with limited time and space.” he calls it. And quite frankly the book is a masterpiece; not only of rules-man-ship, but also of the lucidly eloquent written tongue.
The author straight away dismisses the myth that to play a game right, the gamer has to be playing with painted miniature of a modern Warlord Games or Games Workshop standard. He then goes on to inform the reader that complicated and `realistic simulation` doesn’t always equate to fun to play games on the table top.. but that true immersion into the hobby comes from imagination and suspension of disbelief, and a willingness to let reality drift away, go with the flow; much the same way we do when we engross ourselves in a really good film or TV show.
What is now (rather patronisingly) called “wargame table standard” painted miniatures. To me these are merely the epitome of perfect toys for grown-ups.. ideal for indulging in games of the imagination... i.e. Wargames.
I suspect One Hour Wargames will mean something different to each reader. For me, One Hour Wargames suits my sensibilities by giving me perfect scope to indulge in one of my all time favourite table top immersions, World War Two.
... and below, a more in depth review from an amazingly intelligent wargamer (just check out the book tiles behind him on all his You Tube videos:
The following game was played using One Hour Wargames. It took me ten minutes to set up and 25 minutes to play. Perfect for a nice easy solo distraction, when the urge to enjoy a quick game takes a hold.
Sergeant Oddball (Kelly`s Heroes) sits half in and half out of the topmost turret hatch of his Firefly Sherman tank. He lifts his arm and gives a typical 7th cavalry yell to halt: “heeey-up!” The loud vehicle comes to a sudden halt, its engine noise echoing off the tall buildings all around.
Ordered to scout out the outskirts of the town, Oddball reluctantly does as he`s told. Infantry support is not far behind and coming up fast at the trot: but still, the sergeant is not happy about using his crew and his tank as bait, while the rest of the regular infantry take their pretty time getting their asses into gear.
“Hey Oddball, What`s up?” Private Moriarty enquires, shouting up from the co seat.
Oddball sniffs the air. “Something`s not right.” He calls back down into the tank. “Stay here a minute will ya, I wanna take a closer look.”
Oddball may appear to be just a harmless nut job to many who only know him casually. But he is a seasoned tank veteran, and can usually smell a pooh deal... before he steps right in it.
Clambering out of the turret hatch, he climbs deftly along the extended barrel of the `fake` 90mm gun (really a 76mm mock up, designed to look bigger than it is, to fool the Germans) and drops to the tarmac, at street level, in front of the huge metal beast.
Movie Quote: Oddball “To a New Yorker like you, a hero is some type of weird sandwich, not some nut who takes on three Tigers!”
Amazingly, One Hour Wargames not only allows me to play a big scale wargame with multiple units per side in a full on onslaught (fought on anything from a 2` by 2` or 3` by 3` or even a large 6` by 4` table).. but the rules also work really well too, in tiny/small scale skirmishes with just a handful of men and maybe a vehicle or two as an optional extra to include if you feel like it.
Basically, everything works by giving a unit 15 points of damage. This can be a single hero, a single vehicle/tank, or an entire unit (no single casualties, just mark hits using a casualty token).
To this you add a D6 and any plus or minus points (+ -) to arrive at a total. This becomes direct damage which is then applied to the unit. Units in cover cut casualties down by half, and there is no book keeping at all involved in the game. When the unit takes 15 points of damage, it is destroyed and removed for the game. Dead easy huh? You can pretty much carry the rules in your head, they`re literally that easy to remember. This is the crux of the entire game and means you can learn to play in less time than it take to sit and drink a cup of tea... I know this, because that`s how long it took me to pick it all up first time I got ready to play: and was literally ready to play my first game, minutes later. With over a dozen World War Two games under my belt already, and half a dozen English Civil War (Pike and Shot) games as well. I really CAN say at this stage, wow, One Hour Wargames is for me, and could so very easily become an overall `go to` set of wargame and skirmish rules I would be proud to use in any situation.. private home games or club.
The potential application for using the rules to play things like = Captain America, Agent Carter and the Screaming Eagles American Airborne Elite versus Hydra and Red Skull, has not been missed by me either. The whole premise is quite revolutionary in its sheer simplistic adaptability.
Suddenly, sections of American Rangers are pouring past the tank and entering the outskirts of the town. Oddball just stands and tilts his head to one side.
Then a shot rings out. A trooper goes down, hitting the dirt with trained ease (he made his saving roll). “I`m all right,” he calls out to his comrades, already diving for cover left and right. “Bullet hit my canteen.”
For a few moments there are relieved whoops and cheers, calls of:“you always were a lucky Schmuck, Peters.” But the excitement quickly dies down, as eyes desperately search the roof tops for the German sniper.
A squad on the left think they spot movement from the top of the Hotel on their left, and quickly move to enter the building and engage.
Their rigorous training counts, and in moments they are in the building and dashing up the wide staircase... just as the lone German is moving position to a safer spot. In surprise, he runs almost headlong into the corporal leading the assault.
It`s down to a reaction test. Who will be quickest to respond.
A Thompson rat-ta-tats, spitting fire as a burst of bullets spews across the landing: and the German goes down. “Clear!” Corporal Apone calls to the rest of his squad.
Another door, leading to the roof, is directly ahead. The Squad gathers around it and on Apone`s silent count 4....3....2....1.... they burst through! Catching a small Germen section completely by surprise: just as they are preparing to discharge a shell right slap on top of the Sherman tank.. mere metres below.
There is a brief fire fight, and at the end of it, the small three man Germen Panzerfaust team and spotter, lay still on the ground.
With the building now secure, the Americans (with their lone Tank support) continue to push cautiously up the road... slowly moving deeper into the little French town.
Rumour has it that the legendary Captain America is in the sector, along with his special team. Perhaps they may be the first to take the town and get to meet this iconic hero of the war.
This book does it all. I like simple, I like playable. I would compare One Hour Wargames to Ganesha Games "Mutants & Death Ray Guns" in this regard... only (believe it or not) a hell of a lot simpler - even! Whereas M&DRG spells it out for you exactly what it is.. i.e. a post apocalyptic or futuristic hero and/or superhero type game engine, with lots of options for expansion: One Hour Wargames may not be so obvious, and certainly doesn’t spell it out. It sells itself as a wargame book, but the astute gamer will quickly quiz this simplistic premise and realise with sheer delight, its applications go wayyyy beyond this, and can easily be adapted to any genre.. probably without even needing to changing a single rule.
A good old game involving paper miniature Pikemen and Musketeers, in an English Civil War romp across the imagined war torn lands of yester-year. No painting required, no suffering for our art... just setting up on a table, then losing yourself for an hour or two in a nice solo adventure of the mind.
This book is currently on sale direct from Amazon.co.uk for £12.08 but I see, can also be found (from independent sellers) from as little as £5:88).
Article By Steve
Posted by Steve at 15:39