Friday, 11 June 2010

The Impact of Little Wars

Readers of this blog will have no doubt seen mention on various occasions of my fondness for car boot sales. Furthermore, astute observers will have noted that little mention has been made of these for a number of weeks. This does not mean I have been idle in this respect; rather I have not acquired much of interest outside of the wargaming universe. A couple of gems were picked up though – a copy of Risk: Star Wars – The Clone Wars to begin with. This was in unplayed condition and is now listed on ebay – it looks OK but is of limited potential for me. There was also another game I acquired for the princely sum of £1 and subsequently featured in a most entertaining game at the club on last Wednesday evening.

This game is called Impact and is published Drummond Park Games or something similar (I am not sure if this is still available) and it features two forces – one human and one of armed dinosaurs – battling it out over a desert type terrain game board complete with some very nice assorted size rocky outcrops for the 3d aspect. Included in the game there are eight 28mm figures per side, moulded in a rubber/plastic material and painted (rather garishly, it must be said!). Each side also has three artillery pieces (2 mobile and 1 static) and these fire small plastic projectiles.

My visit to the club on Wednesday was originally to take part a pre-dreadnought naval game with Mr.Fox and others but due to a combination of War at Sea ship trading and general banter this idea was rapidly shelved – especially when I produced my copy of the game Impact. All thoughts of anything approaching a sensible game went by the board as we decided to have a little fun with this game – despite the fact I had left he rules at home!

The game board comprises 6 squares and is geomorphic with a number of indented circles in which the figures are placed. Each of these circles is connected by a pathway to any one of a number of other circles so movement has to be considered carefully in the light of the ‘lie of the land’. The plastic rocky outcrops (moulded in hard plastic) are in three sizes and fit onto the playing surface by use of some locating lugs that slot into the pre-punched holes in the boards. These outcrops also have, depending on the size, 1, 2 or 3 ‘steps’ upon which the figures can stand. These steps are slightly larger than a 1p piece so anyone with a 15mm set up with figures based individually could use these with ease. I would probably paint them and remove the locating lugs and they would be perfectly usable.

I set the game up with the boards positioned on a 3 x 2 basis and each side deployed at either end. From the start everyone positioned their artillery on the high ground with the dinosaurs choosing to have 2 guns deployed adjacent to one another and the remaining piece further away whilst the humans opted to have theirs spread across the front of their force.
I was able to remember sufficient of the rules to play the game – each side had ten command points which could be used to move their figures (I figure moving 10 or 2 moving 5 – or any combination in between), figures ‘captured’ enemy figures by surrounding them; or rather by covering any potential move points and any firing was from the artillery pieces only.

The game commenced with both sides cautiously advancing and making maximum use of the rocky outcrops. The firing was tremendous fun. Aiming these spring-loaded artillery pieces became a skill all of its own and the initial volleys were woefully inaccurate. The figures continued their advance but perhaps mindful of the possible impact of a well placed plastic projectile appeared to become a little more cautious and certainly took a much closer interest in the local topography! First blood went to the dinosaurs as a well placed shot managed to knock out (or, more accurately, over) one of the human artillery pieces. The furious barrage continued the next turn with the humans losing a man and a piece of terrain as a wayward shot from yours truly blasted a small rocky outcrop into dust. Both sides were limbering up for a large scale melee in the centre when, in quick succession, the humans lost another gun and a trooper and the dinosaurs suffered their first casualty. I should point out that previously a dinosaur trooper had taken a direct hit but this had miraculously bounced off the reptiles armour plated hide.

At this point and with their artillery reduced to a single gun the humans decided that discretion would be the better part of valour and conceded the game.

It was enormous fun to play and I was struck almost immediately by the fact that aside from the sci-fi setting of this game it could have almost have stepped out of H.G.Wells ‘Little Wars’. To my eternal shame I have never read this book and as a result of this quite unexpected introduction into the world of firing model guns this is a deficiency I intend to rectify as soon as I am able. The thing that struck me above all else is how using proper tactics on the tabletop and making the best use of the terrain etc becomes hugely important when faced with real projectiles being fired at you. The morale effect also comes into play as when having suffered casualties one’s aim can quite easily be put off under the pressure. Whilst I am certainly not considering embarking on a Wellsian style fantasy it has certainly made me realise that perhaps he was on the right lines with his games, certainly in respect of sheer entertainment value rather than our more usual cerebral approach to rules.

Of course, 54mm soft plastic figures and firing cannon are not impossible to come by (just look at what Armies in Plastic have available for a start) and I seem to recall seeing such a game at one of the shows in London many years ago so people obviously still play in this fashion.

Tremendous fun and a great time was had by all and at the end of the day, that is what it should be all about!

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