Monday, 11 May 2009

Them at Milton Keynes Show

We took our new game 'Them' to Campaign 09 at Milton Keynes yesterday. It is basically Big Battles Hordes of the Things modified to suit our demonstration. There were 3 commands per side Giant Ants against the 1950's US Army, in 20mm scale so we used 60mm base frontages.
There was lots of interest from gamers and unsuspecting shoppers since the venue is in a open plaza in the shopping complex. We spent much of the time explaining the idea of wargaming to some, details of the rules to others and we even had participants (only 3 but that's good for MK on a Sunday).
The game moved slowly but that suited our purpose and it was quite a relaxed game certainly compared with previous hectic show games. I think we did a good job of showing off the hobby and the very low cost of the figures (about £5 for the ant army) took some people by surprise. I went out of my way to emphasise the low cost because I think cost is a barrier to people starting out in gaming. One guy, who I think was familiar with the Starship Trooper insects, said to me that all those ants must have cost a fortune. I bet people will be scouring the cheap shops for toy ants!
The game itself started on the ants right flank as the US troops advanced purposefully. All seemed under control until a Big Soldier Ant (Beast in HoTT terms) lunged out of bad going and struck down the US general commanding that flank. Fortunately for the Americans they were ahead on points destroyed so there was no immediate collapse. A methodical attack with all arms slowly ground down the ants element by element although endless numbers of reinforcing hordes scurried to the defence of the right wing. The US fighters and bomber (fliers and airboats) harrassed the open flank picking off elements and the tanks (knights) advanced boldly with artillery support. In the end the irreplacable loss of Soldier ants (beasts) and finally the winged general caused a collapse. We froze the action here and engaged the next pair of armies.
This proved to be a tougher job for the US troops with the inspired ant assault lead by the Queen herself. Self-propelled artillery, a tank and the general in a jeep fell before the onslought.
We once again froze the action and took up the final pair of armies.
These were mostly played by a couple of gamers who wanted to join in. They did a creditable job although heavily coached from the touchlines. The ants were defeated after some particularly stubborn hand to hand fighting with tanks. By chance crucial melees were drawn move after move, even though the odds favoured the tanks, but it did increase uncertainty about who was likely to emerge victorious.

We had made changes to the system of play in order to better demonstrate the mechanisms and it had the desired effect.We shall bill this as a participation game for Valhalla.

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