Thursday 21 April 2016

Hamburg Tactica 2016 / Part Two

Here are my impressions about the Tactica 2016. Also check out the first part of my text about this excellent wargaming convention in Hamburg.


The second game the Kurpfalz Feldherren presented this year was a skirmish game using the ruleset "Donny Brock". After the Swedish soldiers had lost the battle of Lesnaya in 1708, they were supposed to destroy supplies which the Russian troops wanted to catch. Jörg and I decided to play the Russians, basically because playing the Russians we were allowed to control a toy boat, quite a beautiful model. Krüger and another man played the Swedish. The other man wasn’t the same other man Krüger had played the battle of Lesnaya with. He was yet another man and was the commander in chief on their side.

the battle of Lesnaya

This game, too, worked with a card deck which organised whose turn it was and on which side reinforcements would arrive. The scenario worked this way: at the beginning both players had the same number of troops, but the quality of the Swedish troops was much better. During the game more and more Russian troops would arrive. So as the Swedish player, you had to act quickly, destroy objectives and get your troops over a river that divided the board. (I quite like the scenario and would like to use it in one of our games.)

Krüger and the other man managed to destroy several objectives in the first rounds, but then the Swedish commander in chief decided to wait, instead of crossing the river with a wagon. This made Krüger nervous. While Krüger spends a lot of time patiently waiting in real life, he prefers to act quickly as a wargamer. More and more Russian reinforcements arrived. Jörg and I were able to make up for a bad start. We secured several objectives and finally won the game.


Jörg enjoyed this so much, that he bought the ruleset "Donny Brock". He also tried to buy some 28 mm Swedish tin soldiers from Wargames Foundry, but they were sold out.

Saturday night, we met one of Jörg’s friends who wanted to show us St. Pauli. We ended up in the bar of our hotel Superbude. While the others were talking about smart phones and trying cocktails with funky names, I sat in a comfortable chair, drowsing and thinking about our first day at the Tactica.

People who present participation games at wargaming conventions spend a lot of time doing so, I thought. They invent rules, paint models, make a board, model trees and little houses. Then they transport everything to the convention, prepare the game, explain the rules to the players, over and over again. Large games take about two hours to play and involve four to six players. As a game master you can run about three games a day, I suppose. So they do all this for a handful of people who play their games. And there is no money involved. That’s great, I think. Ok. A lot of people walk by, look at the tables, take pictures. And many more people look at the pictures when they are later published on the internet. Thinking about it, some people might go to conventions because of the amazing participation games and then buy stuff from the vendors, so there is some money involved, I guess. Anyways. I believe people who present participation games at wargaming conventions get a lot of respect from the wargaming community. Well, they should. Hell, they get my respect!

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Hamburg Tactica 2016 / Part One

This year I decided last minute to go to the wargaming convention Tactica in Hamburg. After some discussion that started a couple of months ago about who would come along and who wouldn’t, I went with Krüger and Jörg.


Jörg had already booked his train ticket half a year ago and started to bother us around Christmas with his plans to travel to Hamburg. (Jörg goes to the heavy metal festival Wacken every year, where you have to book a year in advance to get a ticket. So German metal heads are not the most spontaneous lot, I guess.) Krüger arrived at Bürgerhaus Wilhelmsburg with his old fashioned suitcase Saturday at noon, rather spontaneously. Why did I go in the end? Being an obsessive collector of miniatures, maybe I wanted to get the free miniature that came with the ticket. Hamma, prince of the Lombards, sculpted by Frank Germershaus. I already have Adolf III, Noble Lord of Schauenburg and Count of Holstein and Stormarn, (2015) and Bishop Ansgar (2008).


What I enjoy most about the Tactica are the participation games. On our arrival we went around looking for games to join. We found a table in the Rome theme room where two friendly people, Rob and Karl-Heinz, presented the ruleset DBA 3.0 on three boards. You could play the army of the Roman Republic or of one of its enemies. The results of the battles had some effect on a campaign map, hanging on the wall. On one table they had a beautiful piece of terrain, an ancient city on a hill.


I had a game of DBA 3.0 with Jörg on Saturday morning, Later Carthaginian versus Polybian Roman, and another game with Krüger on Sunday, Gallic versus Polybian Roman. Both games were fun. Thank you, Rob and Karl-Heinz!

In the afternoon we joined two games organised by the wargaming club Kurpfalz Feldherren. Their theme this year was the Great Northern War. Apparently in 1708 the Swedish King Karl XII tried to invade Russia and failed. Czar Peter the Great won the war. I must admit I heard about this conflict for the first time at the Tactica 2016.

the battle of Lesnaya

One table presented a simulation of the battle of Lesnaya, using beautifully painted 20 mm plastic miniatures, imported from Russia and not available any more. The rules were derived from DBA and might be published on the club’s website later this year. The game used a card deck, so players could boost their troops or damage the troops of the opponent.

the battle of Lesnaya

Jörg and I played the Swedish, Krüger played the Russians with another man. First I thought he was from Belgium because of his strong accent, but Krüger and Jörg thought he might have been from Bavaria. Not that this matters much.

the battle of Lesnaya

After two hours of gaming there was a time limit and the two game masters ended the game, inventing a horrible snowstorm. We had a chat about how long it takes to prepare a participation game for a convention and about the games we play. We started to talk about Warhammer Ancient Battles and the games that evolved out of it, when GW closed down WAB, like "
Hail Caesar" and "War and Conquest". I asked one of the game masters of the battle of Lesnaya which of these ancient rulesets he could recommend. I added, I don’t go to clubs or shops to play with random people, nor do I care which game is popular at the moment. He recommended WAB 2.0, but with the old army books, like "The Age of Arthur" or "Alexander the Great". So the oracle spoke to me. And gave me the answer I had hoped for. I wonder why I need somebody to tell me that it’s ok to play an out of print ruleset anyway.