Friday, 25 May 2012

Games that define us

From the Frontline Gamer, via[1] Big Lee..The challenge, to list the ten games that define you as a (war)gamer...

So here goes.

1. WRG Ancients 6th Edition

Way back when at school, when we weren't playing other things (of which more later), we used to play WRG Ancients. Being somewhat impoverished, none of us could afford figures: the end result was thus the infamous 'cardboard ancients'. A4 sheets of card, cut to the right base sizes, and lovingly hand-lettered. No such thing as an inkjet printer, so producing (for example) a decent size Basillian Byzantine army was a labour of love. I can still see in my mind's eye the neat lines of rectangles reading "Reg B / EHC / kontos, bow".

On the good side? It was a lot cheaper!

2. Tom Farrar's WW2 rules

Tom was our main man when it came to our club - he had stacks of WW2 tanks in 1:72/1:76, and he had written our rules.

They weren't IABSM, or even FoW, but they were, or so we thought, pretty damn awesome, and there was a tank battle going on most Wednesday afternoons at school.

The other reason these define me, is that the first ever computer programme I wrote was to calculate armour penetration given muzzle velocity, shell weight and caliber at various ranges, for a friend's 8K Commodore PET, to check against the rules.

3. Advanced D&D

Yes, like many folks my age, I discovered AD&D at university. And there, sad to say, went my wargaming hobby - much easier to play when you don't need a 6'x4' table, figures by the ton, scenery and dice, and in fact the players' imaginations is your main requirement.

But, I didn't quite get away without the odd battle...

4. AD&D Battle System

I wonder if I'm the only person who remembers this?

One of the campaigns I played in did in fact have a number of battles, mostly PhilN's empire against Orc hordes. The first edition of Battle System was, actually, remarkably playable.

The second edition should never have happened.

And then there was...

5. Space Hulk

None of my players were GW fans. So none of them had run across Space Hulk, and I'd lucked into three (count 'em!) boxes via the CIX RPG forum. Our campaign had, however, moved into space, via the Spelljammer supplement. and they did just happen to come across a big drifting derelict metal craft in wildspace. So they explored:

Me: The door at the other end of this corridor just opened with a hiss.
[Places two Genestealer miniatures on the table.]
PCs: What the <deleted> are they?
Me: Your characters have about as much idea as you do. [Rolls initiative dice.] Ting ting, round one, segment one.
PCs: [roll initiative, move their PCs the usual one or two squares]
Me: Ok. [move both critters three squares]
PCs: <deleted>! [start counting squares to exit they came in by and know how to close. Come up short.] <deleted, deleted>!!!

Ahhh, memories...

6. Battletech/Mechwarrior

Back before it got munchkinised with the Clans, Battletech was a very nice hex-based wargame with attached RPG, and I loved it.

So much so, that when I found the online BT3056 MUSE (a multi-used text based Battletech sim), I spent a heck of a lot of time on it. It's probably the first game of any sort that encouraged me to write - to the extent that three of us co-crafted a novel outline for FASA. Nothing came of it, but it was a rather fun exercise.

7. Blood Bowl

What the hell. Introduce one GW game to an AD&D campaign, you might as well introduce two.

Which is why a number of the PCs in my campaign (which used an extended skill system) have strange skills like Block and Blitz! And the players are very good at negotiating 'my Block skill should be good in this situation, right?'

8. Wings of War

My first introduction to my current club, courtesy of our local assistant Vicar (who as far as I can gather was mostly into Warhammer, but I won't hold that against him!)

A fine, and fun game - I don't have every single plane for the WW1 set, but I do have enough for a good several-player-a-side fight.

9. Warhammer Ancient Battles, 2nd Edition

Probably the system I play the most now - I have three full armies, and the unpainted plastic for two more. I like it because it was easy to pick up (even not having a background in WHFB or 40K), and it does have a decent community of all-round nice folks to play with.

Pity about Warhammer Historical, though.

10. Operation: Squad

Fantastic, quick, simple to learn, WW2 squad level skirmish game. What's not to like?

Something else, like WAB, I expect to spend some time playing with my son, just as soon as I get together some decent 28mm Normandy scenery.

[1] Dear Facebook. THIS is how you use 'via'. Not the other way round. No love. Me.


  1. Good list...I never knew about AD&D Battle did that pass me by?

  2. The first edition was pretty decent - whole load of cardboard counters (so you can see why it appealed to me!). IIRC the basic mechanism involved matrixing hit roll against a dice roll, and looking up how many hit dice/points of damage that did.

    I have a strong memory that the second edition, which I also own and was a complete rewrite, sucked, and I can't remember why. I may now have to go raid my bookshelves and find out. Curse you!


  3. Great list Mike. Ah....WRG 6th edition....three units in rout....minus 9 on over. Ahhhhhh.....nostlgia!

  4. *grin*

    I still have the book too :D

    (Was more expecting you to comment on the previous post, actually!)

  5. I've had experience in four of those on the list.

    We played WRG Ancients rules in the early 80's until I found I really preferred pitting my Roman Legions against German warbands instead of HI P, Sh, SS vs. MI Sp, Sh etc.

    AD&D took up a very enjoyable chunk of my time for the best part of two decades until the RPG group finally fell apart. 2nd Ed. has to be my favorite. We tried other editions but they seemed too asinine.

    I bought the Battlesystem rules but regard them as fifteen quid I'd rather have back, thanks.

    Wings of War I like. Seems a decent set of rules.

    Thanks for the memories!

  6. I played 1, 3, 5 and 7 with fond memories of them all. Ditto what Sidney said about WRG.

  7. I purchased Normandy Scennery in


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