Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Skirmish Campaigns

Over the last few months the time I have to dedicate to hobby projects has been severely limited - our family moved into a house that needed (and still needs) a fair amount of renovation. So almost all my recent building and painting has been of 1:1 scale terrain.*

But I have managed to keep playing weekly games at the local club. Between September and November I was in involved in their Fall of Berlin campaign. Using the Bolt Action ruleset, and based directly on the Iron Ivan "Battle for the Reichstag" publication, the campaign comprised 16 games played out in the rubble of Berlin.

Written for the "Disposable Heroes" ruleset, each scenario comprises a brief introduction; a synopsis of objectives, game length, and special rules in play;a map and deployment rules, TOEs; and a "Campaign Events Chart" that slightly modifies deployment or TOEs based on ongoing campaign results. For interest, each scenario lists the historical outcome.

They worked surprisingly well for Bolt Action. This is despite some subtleties in the TOEs being lost in Bolt Action, and the players deciding Bolt Action unit-specific rules overrule the DH specifics. Not all the scenarios can claim to be balanced. Much grumbling over "hopeless" objectives was heard during and after certain games, but the side doing the grumbling changed from week to week. Over the course of the campaign the scenarios allowed both sides to record wins - and indeed streaks of wins - at different times.

Some felt the campaign dragged on a bit - 16 games fought with similar forces and over similar terrain each week can get to feel a bit "samey" - but it says something about the quality of the scenarios that we played them to completion. (Many campaigns I have signed up for have petered out after a few games.) The particular terrain of the Berlin campaign meant we became very familiar with certain aspects of the Bolt Action rules - buildings, infantry assualts and tank assaults and so on - and did expose some uncomfortable anomalies which deserve house-ruling to correct.

Iron Ivan has also published two other skirmish campaign guides under the "Fields of Battle" banner - one based on Operation Market Garden and the other on the Spanish Civil War.

We have also purchased a selection of the Skirmish Campaign series for consideration for our next campaign, and at first read look to have great potential. This series has a broader selection - some 27 publications in all - and the publishers have included "conversion" charts to guide the use of the scenarios in different rulesets. Bolt Action conversion tables have recently been added on their website.The production standards of these booklets have improved over the years, and in addition to their great content, the guides feature neat covers and better artwork.

Also of interest, but as yet not been reviewed, are the Skirmish Scenario series offered by Britton Publishing.

I appreciate that campaigns are not for everyone - especially those with limited wargaming time, or jobs and lives that prevent them committing to ongoing games. But there is nothing preventing these great campaign resources from being used to set up individual games. From where I stand, they impart a richness to each game. Not only because they mix up deployments and forces and provide additional gameplay restrictions. But because the historical context informs the in-game decision-making and helps make each game less of a "what do the rules allow me to do" exercise and more of a "what would the commander do" experience.


*It goes without saying that my limited hobby time affected my blog activity as well. Apologies to all for the lack of posts.

No comments:

Post a Comment