Friday, February 1, 2013
18th - 20th January, Usk
So ... deep mid-winter sees our annual expedition to South Wales for the Godendag festival of food and drink spread around 4 doubles wargames. DBM, FoG-R and FoG-AM are on offer and I regularly opt for FoG ancients.
Differences this year were the red weather warning for South Wales (bit of a wet blanket by mid afternoon, but it put around 10% off) and V2 of FoG getting (I think) its first tournament run out - also a bit of a wet blanket in my opinion ... but regular readers will know what my opinion is worth :) ...
(FoG-AM V2 at Godendag ... our Seleucids take on the metal walls of the Roman Republic ...)
Constrained by this year's historical theme, we reluctantly took a Seleucid army - which Chris rendered palatable by the addition of a Parthian ally. Neither of us really like the way FoG (or most other ancients games really) treat infantry ... but V2 has promised to tone down their battalion level manoeuvre (so maybe we should give a go ... maybe what seem like a few minor changes will capture the phalanx feel FoG never got): well you ought to give us credit for trying, anyway.
We got drawn against African Vandal, Palmyran, African Vandal and Romans. The double rations of Vandals was because to even out the draw one of the pairings split (with each player reconfiguring their original entry army - exactly): we drew both players over the weekend so got to play against exactly the same army twice. That really doesn't help variety. It is also clearly not 'just luck' ... the same thing happened last year, and again we played both halves of the split team. For the purpose of the 'modified swiss chess' playing the other half of a split pair where you have already faced that army ought to be an invalid draw.
(Patrick's Later Carthaginians take on some Alans from London)
The other parts of our SoA/Northants (and honourary Northants) were Patrick and Lee's Later Carthaginians (though Lee wimped out because the weather forecast said it was snowing) and Charles and Richard's FoG-R Malian/Tuaregs (or was it Tuareg/Malians?) ... Everyone had their moment of glory ...
And there was also some DBM
What did I think of the changes to FoG-AM ... ? Well, they didn't seem to have changed the game at all.
OK ... Temporarily, they seem to have slowed the game down while we all look up fiddly little word changes that either don't apply or don't make much difference. There are changes to the 'turn and move' rules which seem to hamper Light Horse more than they hamper 'all singing/all dancing' infantry ... so one of the few things that did seem to work quite well in V1 (skirmishing) works less well in V2 ... Hmmm ...
But really, the bottom line is this. We played to win, and with a reasonably 'game on' spirit ... but all our games were score draws (all games were timed out after 3 1/2 hours), two of them at a barely happening 11-9 score. This is a woeful judgement on the game.
We would normally get a result (either way) in around half our games. Obviously the perverse way FoG was designed to stay indecisive despite the long game time (to give everyone a full game, I was told by the designers) is partly to blame, as was all the looking up associated with a new version.
Nevertheless, FoG remains a game where shock troops spend most of the game dicing control tests not to charge each other (as in too many cases it is advantageous, often unhistorically so, not to charge). Inspired Commanders really help pass these tests and are becoming ever more popular: so battlelines stare at each other and games end unresolved. This is a fault in the game design, I have no doubt.
Armati still models this period of warfare much better than FoG, and it is a pity it has missed the overhauls that would have been necessary to keep it up to date. It is a pity that the only Armati Doubles event (at Stoke Challenge) has fallen by the wayside. I would certainly play an updated Armati Doubles game in the classical/antiquity period.