Military Spin

Sunday dawned a new day and I had done my homework on the Charge of the Light Brigade. The reason for my homework was Jon Casey’s game at lunchtime which involved each one of the participants being given a piece of paper with a great military disaster.

As originally set this had to be glossed over and presented in a positive light, the only prohibition being outright lies. A late rule change, which I missed, was that it was to be unidentifiable so others could guess which defeat you had been dealt.

It was very entertaining, whether or not the defeat was disguised, and it shows the possibilities for deception without lying. I like the idea of this game, perhaps it has other outings ahead of it? Although I wrote several versions of what I needed the one I used in the end was as follows:

“In an audacious action Lord Lucan lead the Light Brigade against enemy artillery. The Light Brigade attacked & captured, unsupported, a Russian Battery defended by a numerically superior force. In so doing a large hole was created in the enemy line which the enemy reacted to by committing a sizeable counter-force. Overwhelmingly outnumbered the Brigade withdrew taking relatively few casualties.
Never before has such an action occurred and it is unlikely that any other cavalry would have contemplated a similar action, let alone been capable of succeeding in what our cavalry achieved. The bravery & tenacity of the Light Brigade in pressing home their charge under heavy artillery fire will be forever burned upon the pages of history.”

Retreat to Victory

In the morning, before going to the festival of truth I joined in Nigel Howorth’s planning session for a game called “Retreat to Victory”. This was interesting for me as I hadn’t seen a design session before.

As far as I recall it the session was quite wide ranging with several people contributing ideas. Almost every angle was discussed, at what point to start, how the teams should be structured etc.

I was amazed by the level of detail gone into, although it was also reassuring the everyone was keen to help. I hope I get a similar response when I have to plan my game. I hope Nigel’s game is around in the near future as I’d like to see how it turns out.

Incidentally if anyone wants to help I’m interested in doing an end of empire game starting in 1946, or alternatively an economic game, a military restructuring game or even all three rolled into one, although that would perhaps be a bit too ambitious.

Breakers are Breaking

The game I remember most about, and have the most useful criticism for was Phil McCarty’s “Breakers are Breaking”.

I managed to get the briefing on Saturday and had a good chance to look through it beforehand. I played Admiral Canaris in the plot against Hitler.

Although I know a fair bit about the Second World War I didn’t really know anything about the July plot other than it happened and that a bomb had been left in a briefcase under the table in Hitler‘s briefing room. I also knew that Hitler was saved by the table.

With this scant background my briefing seemed quite good. With hindsight there were one or two things missing. None of the resistance team knew what scale the plotters organisation had, things that the characters certainly would have. This in turn affected how we saw certain cues and how we acted. Just a little more detail would have turned round how I played the game.

Another major factor which influenced the resistance team was that the briefing said that the turns would last four days, this meant that we didn’t really try to plan the immediate post-explosion takeover, instead we planned for contacting the Allies to negotiate a cease-fire and the post-coup control of Germany.

We took it as read that if we offered the Wehrmacht control of all ground forces that they would follow us. Had we known that the turns were actually to be one day long we would have taken a less strategic view and probably planned the immediate stuff. I’m not saying that the outcome would have been different but we would have planned differently.

All in I enjoyed the game, even though I quickly decided to leave Germany. Originally to talk secretly with the OSS and latterly permanently (or until the Allies had won the war and made me head of the new Abwehr) when an arrest warrant was issued for me.

I think the game itself worked fairly well, the idea was engaging and the format worked. All it needs is for a slightly expanded briefing for the resistance (I can’t speak for the others) and an agreed turn duration. We had a fairly extensive debrief and most of this was talked through, so I’m sure Phil has his new improved version waiting on the shelf for another outing. I’ll look forward to it.

That’s all, at least for now.

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