As a newly-minted Gentleman of Leisure I now have time to do the sort of things that normal people do, such as going to wargames shows. The show at Milton Keynes is a bit special as it is held in a shopping centre. This means that the public is a bit more diverse than a self-selecting audience of wargamers, and most of the public walking through will be relatively new to the idea of wargaming or military history.
The brief that I set myself was to have a board that took up no more than 3′ by 3′ for convenience and would tell the story in five minutes or play through in ten. This is what I came up with for the board:
It is a five by five grid, giving enough space to visually separate the three elements of Operation Mercury – Orion, Mars and Komet as seen from east to west. A player will need about three or four minutes of orientation, leaving little time for die-rolling.
My first run-through with the Empress took 15 minutes and was too repetitive, It persuaded me that the firing mechanism using Table 12 was the wrong one for this game. Also, there was no need to use the smaller bases, as they added nothing to the story except length. I was also persuaded that giving the players choice slowed the game down too much :
“Do you want your bombers to attack the anti-aircraft defences or the troops on the ground?“
Each question led to a minute of to-and-fro question and answer sessions, for which I had no spare time budgeted. As with patients, wargamers will not answer a question until you have given them enough information to persuade them that theirs is the right answer.
The second run-through went much better using the close assault Risk-based die mechanism. The player still had choices to make of when to break off the attack, but was led through the historical course of action, and didn’t have to ponder overly long. I am still wondering if putting Greek troops and Italians onto the board as non-acting extras will clutter things up too much and be another distraction.
All that remains to do now is finish any last-minute painting and pack everything up. Hang on! Will W is coming round for a game of DBA this afternoon! 🙂