Wargaming Moments of the Year

It’s that time of the year again! Stuffed with Christmas cookies and watching the old year slip off, everybody seems to reminisce. I don’t want to stand apart, so here are some of the highlights of my year from a wargaming perspective:

Victory of the year

K. and I were playing a pirate game, using Flashing Steel and our homemade secret missions system. By the time I got my act together, K. had already moved two of her crewmembers across the table – obviously her mission was to get half of her crew out. The last one remaining was her captain, who would be able to cross the table edge at her next activation and thereby win the game. I had only one pirate in range to do something about it. This was a rather medicore guy who had a pistol but needed at least one move to get out of cover. Putting all my eggs into one basket, I rolled for three actions and got two. I moved and then shot. My chances were slim, the movement would mean -1 on my shot and even if K.’s captain would be fallen, she could get up next turn without any trouble from any of my men. Lo and behold! I rolled a 6. Now K. rolled and we couldn’t believe our eyes: a 1! With all the modifications, this was the only possible combination to result in her captain being immediately out of action. I admit that my victory was down to plain luck, but from a narrative point of view the whole sequence felt like the grand finale a Hollywood movie – and it has since become part of our collective memory like any great movie scene.

This year's blockbuster, directed by: us!
This year’s blockbuster, directed by: us!

Defeat of the year

This has to be my Normans defeat against the Vikings at another take at the battle at the ford scenario. I have already written a report on this, so I won’t repeat myself. The exciting thing about this game was K. playing like a wily fox, keeping part of her force in reserve at the bridge while I was stubbornly smashing into her defences at the ford. The most heroic moment was her Warlord defending the ford against overwhelming odds and succeeding in stopping the Norman knights long enough to deprive me of any chance to cross. Another great game with a very memorable finale!

Outdoor activity of the year

Undoubtable my trip to Antwerp, about which I’ve already written in length. CRISIS was a marvelous experience, not only because it was my first wargames show ever and I brought home a big bag of stuff, but also because of the great games I saw and the ideas I got. Just how friendly and committed the organisers of CRISIS are was demonstrated when, after I presented some criticism about the after-show report on my blog, its producer took the time to state his position in very friendly words in the comment section – a way of engaging with controversial issues that is dearly missing in some of the bigger web forums and a testimony to the amiable spirit of CRISIS.

Reading of the year

I read a lot of great books, some on wargaming, but more on history, mainly on medieval warfare. I also worked through a couple of rulebooks, which is always interesting but not always engaging. Some of the most enjoyable reading was done on blogs – you can find a selection of what I like in the links section on the right hand side of the page. However, the thing I enoyed most was the new Miniatures Wargames with Battlegames. First, because it appears monthly, so when one is finished, another one is already on the way! Secondly, I really enjoy the content. I only read one other wargames magazine, this being Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy, which I like but which doesn’t exhale the fresh, humorous and inspiring air of MW/BG (and don’t get me started on the dull and predictable WI). Another great thing is that the magazine caters for more than just the 28mm crowd – for example, I eagerly follow John Treadaways reviews of 15mm science fiction stuff. And the piece on Bruce Weigle’s 6mm terrain was mind-blowing. I hope Henry keeps up the inventive and inspiring work!

Painting moment of the year

For me, painting is an integral part of the hobby. In general, I enjoy it greatly, even if I sometimes need a break to avoid a ‘burn-out’. My painting skills are mediocre and I don’t spend too much time on my figures, mainly aiming at getting them ready to play. The best part of painting is when I get into a flow: I am sitting at the table, perhaps listening to the Meeples & Miniatures podcast, the brushes are actually behaving like docile instruments and not like obstacles to be overcome, time is flying and palpable progress is made. There is not always time for this and on a daily basis, it’s ok to just do some basic work in between, but when those moments come, they are a great means of forgetting the stress of work and everyday life.

Grand Moff Tarking's got the flow!
Grand Moff Tarking’s got the flow!

Social event of the year

In contrast to the loneliness of painting, gaming is a social activity and I fortunately have a great gaming partner. While I tremendously enjoy all our games, the highlight this year was introducing my nephew to miniatures wargaming, first with X-Wing and then with a 28mm pirate game. As you can find a detailed after action report here, sufficient to say that it was a great experience to watch the kid’s excitement when he first saw the figures and the terrain and then to see him practically sponging up the rules in no time and enjoying himself playing. To transfer curiosity into addiction, he got some X-Wing planes for Christmas and will get some painted figures and simple rules for his birthday – and I am already looking forward to playing with him again.

All in all, it was a great year! So, what were your wargaming moments of 2013? What was your most memorable victory and defeat, and what other gaming highlights have you had?

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