Thursday, June 14, 2012

WinterCon 2012 Demo Games

We road-tested our Black Powder FPW game at WinterCon and it worked a treat.  As Doug predicted, a full game and decision in eight turns - the way the game ran, it was almost spot on.  We were also able to add some elements, both in terrain - a proper vineyard this time and entrenchments - and in units represented.  Both sides had four regiments of cavalry which were present historically but not involved in the battle of Froschwiller.  We decided it would be much more exciting and interesting to include them, even knowing what tends to happen to cavalry in this period.  In this post I'll include a few photos taken by some of our colleagues of our game but I will put the full story of it illustrated by over twenty action photos in the next post.  For this one I want to show the other two marvelous demonstration games put on by the Canberra Black Powder gang and associated CanCon DemoGamers group.  The first  is Peking.

The entire table is of the built-up area that housed the old foreign legations - the one closest is the partially demolished (by Boxer fire) British Legation compound.

Some of you of our vintage may remember a wonderful old action drama '100 Days in Peking' starring David Niven, Charleton Heston and Ava Gardener etc, etc set during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.  The Boxers, with the conniving of the Chinese Empress Dowager, attacked the compounds of the foreign legations in Peking and lay siege to them for 100 days before finally being relieved by an international force sent to rescue them.  Its a mighty story and one of uncommon cooperation amongst the Western powers who had to pool meager resources to survive the ensuing siege.

Not known for any half measures our mate Andrew (of the Kokoda campaign fame posted previously on this blog) organised a group of equally fanatic wargamers to rebuild old Peking, including a section of the huge wall of the Forbidden City, to re-stage a game of the 100 Days in Peking episode.  He even went to Beijing and took photos of the surviving old legation buildings and area which is just down the road from Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City.  He's quite mad as I've been there too and I believe the old British legation building is now a Ministry of State Security (MSS) headquarters.  Historical or not - you can be locked up for happy-snapping it!  You can imagine what the security guys would have thought of his explanation: ("Listen mate, I just wanted to rebuild old Peking! Honest!')  But it goes to show what lengths wargamers will go just to 'get it right' - the reconstruction of the legation buildings is amazingly accurate with an incredible attention to detail.

In addition to the fantastic buildings reconstructed, there are all the main characters involved such as the various diplomats and spouses etc.

The British Consul and his good wife: 'just loading up to pot a few of those dastardly Boxer chappies, eh what?'

They are accompanied by other diplomats like the Russian Consul and his wife (dressed for a Siberian winter!) and the Teddy Roosevelt-like US Consul and his offsider. I think the Americans provide most of the fighting muscle of the tiny Legation force.

The fur-clad Russian Consul and consort

The US Consul and his Marine guard captain - both of 'em 'can-do' kinda guys &
 the epitome of the heavily armed diplomat, fully equipped for 'negotiation'!

Their redoubtable and fanatic Boxer opponents - hordes of 'em!

I don't know how the action went as I was too involved in our own game but there was a noticeable crowd around the table and plenty happening - the three demos attracted a lot of attention from the WinterCon crowd.  Suffice to say it looked spectacular and all the more impressive as half the building is still to be completed - an amazing job in just a few months.  I predict its going to be a knockout at CanCon next year.

Quite a view - the Americans capture and occupy the section of the wall that overlooks the Legation compounds and surrounding hutongs (Chinese walled house compounds).  Gives you some idea of the scale of the thing.

Boxers or Imperialists wait to advance into the barricaded legation area 

Hordes of fanatical Boxers swarm over the ruins to get at the 'Gwailo' ('foreign devils') 

Not to be forgotten were the redoubtable Greg and Ian who put on a quick skirmish game 'Isandlawanah'.  Here the challenge for the colonial British is to survive the onslaught of the Zulu hordes (hmmm, hordes of Boxers, now Zulus and then Prussians - I'm sensing a theme here...).  Greg assures me that of the five(!) games played that day, three were 'won' by the British.  I'll take a liberal interpretation of 'won' to also equate with 'survive'!  I have a few of my photos but also include a few of Greg's amusingly captioned shots.

A peaceful bucolic scene at the British camp, a few of the lads falling in for early morning parade...

Meanwhile, out on the veldt the Africaaner scouts spot something :
'what's that rustling in the grass over there...?'

Ye Gods sir - its 'ordes of Zulus - permission to run for it sir? Er... sir?

'Do that button up Private Williams - you slovenly soldier!' [Photo: Greg]

"I say Caruthers, do you think we could just talk to these chaps and sort it all out!" [Photo: Greg]

The guys also kindly sent me some very nice photos of our game (thanks Ian!) including one of two old farts messing about  splendidly attired in their field marshal's flouro vests! (oooh - the power!!!)

Doug gazes on Yours Truly thinking 'what is that silly old sod doing now?' 
Not happy as he had to pay for his own coffee AND mine too! 
Game participant and French co-commander Mark looks on patiently, waiting for the initial set up by myself and Prussian co-commanders Dom & Michael so that he can obligingly shoot them to pieces.
The French wait patiently in their entrenchments for more feelthy Boche Prussian targets
The first Prussians march boldly out of Worth: "now ver ist zoz verdammten Franzosiches?"
We is 'ere - come and get it Monsieur Boche! 
Prussians with wet feet just innocently trying to go for a walk in the woods...
Ooh look boys - a French vineyard! 
Hope they brought their tubs with them 'cos a lotta grapes are gonna get trampled today!

Well that's about it for this post - much fun was had by all at WinterCon and judging by what we managed to put on, the next CanCon in 2013 will be even more impressive - and fun!  Thanks also from Doug and myself to the many interested passers-by who stopped to look and ask us about this little known but fascinating era of wargaming and of course to our convivial guest gamers Mark, commanding the French and Dom and Michael the victorious Prussians.  Hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did.