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Strategic, Operational or Skirmish?

Last night, I played Empire Total War, and got involved in a long running battle with the Spanish to capture Gibraltar, it would give me a strategic base controlling the access to the Mediterranean, and allow me to base ships in my constant fight with the Barbary States Pirates - who keep raiding my merchant fleet and costing me valuable trade.

I have attached a You Tube video of the game if you do not know what it is - even if you do, I commend the video to you, because it is really well made, and has a classic sound track:

I captured Gib twice, and lost it twice. My last army fought well against overwhelming odds, but finally succumbed, as did one of my best Generals - I am now faced with the big decision of stripping Britain of her home army and sending a well guarded convoy to try for a third time, or admit defeat, at least in the short term.

Another factor I have to consider - I commenced building fortifications around the town, and if the Spanish complete them, it will be a tough ask to try and re-take it. All of this happened because I supported my ally Portugal when the Spanish invaded. Spain is an ally of France, who appears to be building a fleet to challenge mine, I am thoroughly enjoying the also got me thinking about war gaming, and the different aspects of the hobby, and players tastes.

For example, my secret war gaming friend was into Twilight 2000 as a kid, he told me about a number of other games, including Dungeons and Dragons (I think), and Leather Clad Bikers from Mars ( I swiftly moved away from that conversation.....), and I think this legacy shows up in his war gaming preferences.  He firmly enjoys skirmish games, and even when we played WW2 Rapid Fire, he confessed that a small part of him was not imagining the units as companies, but as single units of men and machines. He enjoys the character building of his units in linked battles. Its his bag.

I on the other hand used to play some Avalon Hill board games (Battle of the Bulge for example - which now has a different connotation now I am middle aged), and the classic game Diplomacy to name a couple. My dreams were of vast operational battles, and of combined arms, air and sea movement to win a campaign rather than the close down tactics of small unit battles.

I will one day participate, or run a campaign set on the Russian front (obviously units would have to be abstracted down to playable levels on the table), which would link in with an Artic Convoy campaign - where successful arrival of allied ships would be represented by Lend-Lease kit on the table, with a number of players taking command of different aspects of chain of command, with an overall leader who would issue the commands using a map, and have no contact with the table top action (sad I know).

That is what interests me, and is probably why I am running an AWI campaign at the moment with four players.

I have talked about a Normandy campaign with a wargaming friend, with players as the German command, against an umpire driven Allied force. The difficulties of command, and miscommunication, as well as tactics and operational decisions fascinates me. They know the invasions is coming, when, where and how? - now, that is a different story.

The AWI campaign is an example of people with hindsight - as umpire I know of every missed opportunity, I actually think one side could win the game out-right, but the commanders do not know what I do. I can appreciate now, how our historic leaders and commanders appeared to make 'historic' mistakes - we have the whole picture in hindsight, they did not.....................

It does not mean that I do not enjoy skirmish games, I just prefer the large battles, and campaigns, ones where I can actually make a difference, good or bad by my operational moves, and not just a few poor dice rolls during the battle...................

Now, do I strip Old Blighty of troops to capture Gib, and take away her Channel Fleet to escort it?...........................


  1. Just to clear up and misunderstanding, the game was called Leather Clad Biker GIRLS from Mars. And, I was only 24 and played it once.

  2. I think you are wrong in what you say SWF. The game you describe was the planned expansion pack, but was cancelled after only ONE copy of the original was sold.


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