In the morning I played in Mike Whitaker’s “Dawn on the Gothic Line”, which involved three of us commanding a British force attacking a German-held village in Italy. Mike ran the game using I Ain’t Been Shot Mum. Mike knows these rules really well and was able to provide us with a pretty seamless command experience.
It was my first time with IABSM and it tallies with my expectations - every forward move was made with the expectation that it might trigger a devastating German response! Mike ran the game using low camera angles so we could only see approximately what our commanders could see from their battlefield locations. This added tremendously to the atmosphere and to the sense of paranoia.
Thanks Mike and to my fellow players Henry and Noah for a terrific experience.
I don’t have any pics of Mike’s lovely models but I’ll edit in a link to Mike’s blog if he posts any. Oh and I think there might be a YouTube video too!
After lunch (homemade soup and Tesco’s sourdough bread) I ran my first non-solo Woebetides game "A Bridge Too Far Up River". I didn’t go with the point-of-view camera approach as to me the Sharp Practice rules are about the story-telling approach and I wanted my players to see the story as it emerged.
In this game Mike Wilkins and Tom ran a British force tasked with escorting a waggon-load of rum across the table. Mike Whitaker and Jim, meanwhile, were in charge of a French force tasked with destroying the bridge the British planned to use. In retrospect maybe I should have put both Mike Ws on the same side!
I’d built not one but two new bridges for the scenario. As well as the main road bridge across the Borno river, there was a rather worn-out-looking rope bridge between to perilous crags.
The French arrived by boat in the form of two Arab dhows and two longboats. Their players had to decide on the positioning of these boats which would be both their Deployment Points and their means of escape. Each dhow could carry two Groups and each longboat one.
This was a very asymmetric action with the British attempting to drive of the French with fire while the French had three tasks to complete - demolishing the bridge and getting the two dhows successfully turned around in the narrow river.
As usual, the vagaries of the Sharp Practice activation system led to some interesting command problems for the players. The French struggled to get their larger formation of Sepoys across the bridge and into action, having deployed them from a dhow on the far side of the river from the British. However, by careful play of the flag chits they were able to get their sappers into position and working on the bridge demolition from early in the game.
The British did manage to form a nice, straight firing line along the edge of the woods and caused some significant casualties to the French troops but this was not enough to prevent them completing their mission. By the time Ensign Tom Laine led his group of civilian skirmishes forward towards the crag it was too late; the French had mostly reembarked and were making their way down-river leaving a demolished bridge behind them.
When time for the game elapsed there was only on outstanding question. Could M. Choufleur the engineer pick himself up from the dirt in time to catch the last dhow for Fort Charles?
The British, I think, became hypnotised by the effect of their own firing. Their chances of victory would have been higher if they had engaged the enemy more closely but then they had gone into the action in the first place not knowing what the French intended to do.
Or were they perhaps fooled by Mr Whitaker's insistence that the French engineers were just there to inspect the bridge for the purposes of planning permission?
I really enjoyed the game and I think the players did too. The spirit of the game was honoured throughout And the few rules issues we encountered were resolved amicably. Thanks Mike, Mike, Jim and Tom for making this such fun.