Old West Point ’84 Classmates Get in First Miniatures Battle in Decades in Arlington, VA

As I write this it is Memorial Day, and this weekend was spectacular in it’s breadth and depth of experience.  I traveled from Albany, NY on the evening of Thursday the 21st after working at Albany Medical Center.  I drove to Arlington, VA for the promotion of my fellow F-4 classmate Chaplain (COL) Paul Hurley, to Major General as the new Chief of Chaplains of the US Army (more to blog on that later as Fr. Paul’s ceremony and after party were indeed epic!).

The drive was going well until I hit an accident-induced traffic jam at the Baltimore tolls that lasted over two hours with ZERO movement.  Finally, it cleared, and after five aggravated lanes of traffic merged into two, I made my way to our class hotel in Arlington, arriving at 2 AM.  Got a key, went to the room, only to find that someone was in there.  I felt badly that I woke whoever it was up at 2:15 AM – and made a hasty exit back to the front desk for a new key to an unoccupied room.  This is why I ALWAYS bolt the doors at hotels.  At least I knew what was going on – the poor guy in the first room only knew someone opened his door and said “sorry!”.  I then crashed and slept until 7.

As backstory, the previous Saturday, Dave Wood, my classmate and old roommate from USMA swung through East Brookfield, MA on his way back from the Huzzah historical miniatures convention in Portland, ME with his wife Brenda.  Lynn and I were happy to see then and really enjoyed spending some time with them and had a great lunch (thanks to Lynn and not me!).

Lynn Morin, Dave Wood, Mark Morin, Brenda Wood
Lynn Morin, Dave Wood, Mark Morin, Brenda Wood
Dave & Mark get together for the first time in 16 years!
Dave & Mark get together for the first time in 16 years!

While in East Brookfield, Dave and I made final plans to go to Fr. Paul’s promotion (at Ft. Meyer by the Pentagon) on Friday afternoon, which left us some time to plan to have a quick miniatures game using the Buck Surdu “Look Sarge No Charts”/Bear Yourself Valiantly system.  Flash forward to Friday the 22nd – so Dave drove down to Arlington and met me at the hotel.  After we grabbed a quick breakfast, it was on to the battle!

Dave set up everything and did a great job.  He brought a drop cloth and that went right on the king-sized bed for a nice battlefield.  The battle was between an attacking force of Elves (me) and a defending group of Ratlings (Dave).  He also had a few orc/goblin ballistae, and I had an Ent.  I do believe that Dave gave me plenty of forces and did a nice job teaching me the game mechanics as we went along.

The Battle Set Up, Elves attacking from Right to Left
The Battle Set Up, Elves attacking from Right to Left
Elven Left Flank
Elven Left Flank
Better Detail of Elven Left Flank and Center
Better Detail of Elven Left Flank and Center

I focused on maneuver and less on frontal assault.  This allowed me time to marshal forces for multiple attacks on units.  Dave of course accommodated by advancing his forces into woods that I could hit on three sides.

Elves attack into Woods and go after Wounded Ratling Leader
Elves attack into Woods and go after Wounded Ratling Leader
The Woods become a Rat Trap!
The Woods become a Rat Trap!

The Ratling defensive position on the Elven left flank became untenable, and they quickly scurried away to the next wood line.  On the Elven right flank, casualties were higher, and progress was slower.

Despite Greater Casualties, the Elves push forward on the Right Flank
Despite Suffering Higher Casualties, the Elves Push Forward on the Right Flank

Ratling morale began to falter and their leaders faced multiple morale checks as shown by the red gaming stones.  Dave’s Morale Check rolls led to retreats.

Ratling Leader Losing His Nerve
Ratling Leader Losing His Nerve
At the Second Wood Line, Fleeing Ratlings Crowd the Forest
At the Second Wood Line, Fleeing Ratlings Crowd the Forest

At this point, the end was near, and we called it over.  Dave was gracious – really he set me up for a win.  Back in the day, we kept records of all the games we played, and he held a commanding lead over me in victories.  He did concede that now I am ahead in the 21st Century!

The End is Near
The End is Near
Elven Casualties at Top (1 Unit), Ratling Casualties at Bottom
Elven Casualties at Top (1 Unit), Ratling Casualties at Bottom

I was impressed with Buck’s system (no surprise).  I was also impressed with Dave’s ability to teach me the system.  I will be incorporating some of the mechanics and concepts into the version of fantasy rules that I am updating.  I was also able to catch up with Buck on the way home to discuss them (again much thanks to Dave & Buck)!

And after the game, the promotion ceremony for Fr. Paul and the After Party! (my next post!)

Author: Mark A. Morin

This site is where I will discuss stuff that I find interesting and that includes family, friends, golf, gaming, and Boston sports!

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