Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Honoring a Gaming Legend - Donald Featherstone Memorial Game

On September 3, 2013 the gaming community lost one of its legends.  Donald Featherstone, author of dozens of books on wargaming and history in general passed away.  Many gamers gaming today got their start in gaming when picking up one of Mr. Featherstone's books. I am no exception. Two of my earliest inspiration were two books I picked up many years ago.  The first was actually by Stuart Asquith.  I picked this up at a book sellers tent at the EAA airshow sometime in the late '80s.  It has several sets of gaming rules laid out in it.  In honor of Mr. Featherstone we decided to have an old school gaming day.  We'd play two games, a Dark Age Viking game, and an ACW game.  The first would use Mr. Asquith's rules from the Military Modelling Guide to Wargaming.

Tad, Todd, and Andrew came over and we set up a quick and simple Viking game. A village, some walls, and a couple of fields and we were set to go.  Two warbands set to fight an epic struggle for control of the local hamlet.  Each side had a Leader, two units of heavy infantry,  unit of berserkers,  a unit of light infantry and a unit of archers.  We rolled for initiative and set to.
Tad and Andrew took command of the opposite side while I commanded the near force.  Todd opted to spend the day sitting at the other end of the table and painting more toy soldiers for us to order around another day. 
 As the battle lines close I plan to make a push in the center while the berserkers hold up Tad's light infantry on the right.

The berserkers push back the light infantry in an unexpected reversal.  Not being discouraged, Tad charges back in vowing revenge.

At midfield my light infantry surrounds Andrew's heavies.  Outnumbered 2:1 he manages to push me back.  Things are looking grim for the home team.

Tad and Andrew push back.  Andrew's archers feather a couple of my heavy infantry.  On the right, the beleaguered berserker holds on against a unit of light infantry and Tad's berserkers.

Tad moves up, content to defend his wall. My berserker charges in, heedless of the danger, eager to join his ancestors in Valhalla.

But apparently the All Father has greater plans for Ranulf.  Once again he slays his foes sending them reeling before him. 
Meanwhile, on the left, my heavy infantry rounds the corner and cuts down Andrew's archers.  My archers shoot down Tad's warlord's dog, followed by the warlord himself.

Ranulf chases off the last of my enemy's warband as Tadonicus lays slain upon the field by a peasant's arrow.

The victorious warlord claims his new hamlet.

Having now played a game from my first gaming book, we pulled out the ACW miniatures and one of Donald Featherstone's books.


It was a simple setup, but it worked very well for a simple game.  Vowing revenge and muttering something about the "South rising Again" Tad pushed his brigade forward.

The Confederates moved up while I opted to hold tight and soften them up on the way in.  It's an interesting facet of this game that units don't take casualties.  They are either in good order, or routed.  When they rout they move to the table edge until they move off the edge.  They roll to rally each turn as they fall back. This would come back to haunt me.

As the rebs move in I swing wide around their flank on the left.  The end of the Confederate line falls back.
I hold my ground hoping to wear the Rebs down.

Tad gives the order to "reform and hit 'em again!"  The union forces prepare to receive. 
Now it was my turn to get pushed back.  Unfortunately for me, the rebs I had driven off earlier rally and return to the fray.

Even though it looks like they are coming in piecemeal, the Rebs hit with strength.

The brigade on my right is shattered as two of its regiments rout off the board.

The failures cascade as the now superior numbers of the Rebels begin to tell,

I made one last series of desperate charges attempting to get away from my board edge.  Tad and Andrew cooly dealt with them, and it proved to be too little too late.
It was a great day of gaming.  The second game was so easy to pick up that we got in twenty or more turns.  It was an interesting perspective to get on the hobby. No one who plays these early rules can claim that this hobby isn't about "playing with toy soldiers."  Often times we overcomplicate our games with minutiae and forget to have fun.  Thank you, Mr. Featherstone for reminding us to have fun.


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