Last Saturday morning I had the chance to GM and play…(wait for it)…a real tabletop wargame!!! We were able to play a game of Feudal Patrol™ via Zoom. This game is a member of the Combat Patrol™ WWII family of games, and will be available soon from On Military Matters in the US and Sally 4th in the UK. The players were all alone at home and included myself (in Massachusetts), Buck Surdu (in Florida), Dave Wood (in Maryland), Greg Priebe (also in Maryland), and Chris Abbey (in the UK). Buck hosted the Zoom meeting, and I ran the game with some of my Aztec figures in my cellar that followers of this blog have seen completed such as my last one here.
The scenario is called “Raid to Satisfy Huitzilopochtli”. Huitzilopochtli was a major deity in the Aztec religion, and was particularly noted as a god of war and sacrifice. The scenario uses the supplement I wrote for Feudal Patrol™ called Civilizations Collide. It takes 60 points of attackers against 26 points of defense. However, this being an Aztec attack on another Mexica town, the focus is on capturing incapacitated warriors and dragging them back for sacrifice on the altar of Huitzilopochtli. Of course, the defenders would be trying to take captives to satisfy their particular deity as well. My rules focus on this, and other aspects of Mesoamerican warfare – to try to create an authentic feel – and a different wargaming experience. Even the difficult-to-pronounce names of the weapons (macuahuitl, tepoztopilli, cuauhololli, atlatl, sling (well not that one)) add to the feel. I aimed to create a scenario that is similar to a “Flower War” – where both sides deployed for a ritualized pre-arranged showdown.
The defenders would get more victory points for the same achievements – such as taking captives or incapacitating an enemy figure. One interesting aspect of the Aztec supplement rules is that as you take out an enemy you must take troops away from the battle to drag the incapacitated figure back to a prearranged spot for your side. Which means that as you achieve success on the battlefield, you lose troops for “captive duty” as it were.
Dave, Buck and I were on the attack – and Buck and Chris defended. At first, the defenders were a bit concerned with the seemingly overwhelming odds facing them. But they had the advantage of choosing to deploy after the attackers, as well as the chance to use the defensive terrain around the fields.
Logistically, I had two cameras logged in for the game – one from my iPad and one from my iPhone. I had acquired a nice inexpensive tripod from Xenvo via Amazon called a “Lobsterpod” that worked really well. I moved the figures based on the gamers commands and the game moved along fairly well on the Zoom platform, though not as fast as if the players were all in the same room. Of course, the option to actually see my figures in all their “glory” was compromised (I’m pretty proud of them) – but hey – they are on my previous blog posts for all my readers to see so no problem, right? I only used Aztec figures, but later I will be able to augment the defenders with Tlaxcalans (when I get them painted). I planned here and for the future to allow the gamers to pick their figures beforehand from a menu of available ones, and organize their forces prior to a game.
I set up the tabletop as shown below – some of my 15mm Normandy hedgerows served well as protection around the fields. The walled section of the village is pretty basic here as it does not come into the game except as a collection point for captives.
The attackers tried to flank the enemy on both sides of the board while simultaneously making a frontal assaults to tie the defenders down at the wall. The attackers got a bit unlucky (to say the least) as a veteran/novice “twinned” unit (Dave) moved slowly (even at a sprint). Buck took a unit of Jaguar Warriors straight at Chris’ Arrow Warriors (yes I know they may not have been historical – think of them as elite atlatl troops with limited ammunition), and got mauled – losing two Jaguars Warriors to the defenders as potential sacrifices. On the other flank, I faced off against Greg, and despite his having a terrible early morale result that dispersed his troops, he was able to inflict good damage on my greater numbers. In the end, the defenders were able to do enough damage and take enough prisoners on the attackers for a pretty convincing victory. All agreed that the scenario was well-balanced, and all seemed to have a good time.
Buck took some screen shots that I will share below (click on them for a better view) – and he also wrote a blog post on the battle that you can read here.
I used color-coded and numbered magnets to try to keep the forces straight, and it worked. But magnets in melee do attract…so next time I will use poster tack and small hole punched card of different colors. A gaming challenge is to make sure that the Aztecs and other forces are identifiable for the player, either in remote mode or live. The card solution should be an easy fix.
Here are some shots that I took after the game:
Lastly, here are the gamers:
My thanks to all who participated. It was a nice test of my scenario and the special rules I wrote for Civilizations Collide, which will be a free download from the game’s website when it goes live in September. I must say it was a gratifying experience, and one that I hope to repeat.
I intend to buy Zoom if there is enough interest and host some more games – at least until we are clear of the COVID-19 virus. I could see my running more Feudal Patrol™ games, and even What a Tanker games. If you would be up to a remote game, let me know in the comments section – maybe we can make it happen!
Check out the links for Feudal Patrol™ – its a great and easy card-based system that is really a great step forward.