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.