Several times a year, HMGS Gamers International hosts a very ambitious weekend of wargaming, sponsored by Old Glory. Unlike other wargaming events the Campaign'99 weekends focus on a single campaign. Everyone present is involved in that campaign in one capacity or another.
At the Campaign 99 - Waterloo (June 11th - 13th) there were about 30 players over the course of the weekend. A staff of eight supported the campaign.
|U.S.M.A.P.S.||Pete, Fred, Charlie||Jim||Jodie|
Pete Panzeri exercised overall responsibility for the convention. The facility is the Military Academy Prep School at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. It is a great facility for an event of this nature. There are plenty of rooms for separate games and private strategy meetings. There is also a large auditorium for getting the entire group together.
Jodie, a very hard working and diligent young lady, handled administrative activities. Jodie's efforts are so indispensable that these get-togethers are commonly referred to as JodieCon.
Fred Hubig was the head referee and rules interpreter. He also made sure that there was the correct collection of figures for every battle. You may remember Fred from Tricon. Fred's games feature a very impressive collection of 30mm Seven Years War figures. Fred oversaw the activity of four other referees. Every battle was assigned a referee to help with the rules and keep the game moving along.
Jim Birdseye was the Operations Umpire. Jim asked each player what their plans were for the next several hours and interpreted these narratives into final results. He took into account a myriad of details like march speed, length of column, traffic, road capacity, mission etc. He processed all of this information and quickly got players to the game table. The Campaign produced ten separate battles. However, most battles featured one or more divisions marching on as reinforcements often dramatically changing the complexion of that engagement. So, these 10 battles were extremely rich, providing tactical and grand tactical challenges not found in the average set piece game.
Charley Elsden ably assisted Jim. Charley was also the "color commentator" for the activity that transpired through email before we arrived at the convention. It was Charley that fomented rebellion against the Prussians for destroying every bridge in sight.
Six Conspirators made the trip to Campaign 99 - Waterloo: Paul, Phil, George, Allan, Leo and myself. We were the Prussian team. We had one additional player; Ami Silberman. Ami was a real nice guy and an excellent player. In fact, we voted Ami Prussian MVP.
|Leo||Paul, Leo||Paul, Leo,|
The game started before we ever left home with the convention staff sending several emails calculated to inform or confuse and obfuscate. A few days before the campaign weekend each army commander was required to issue an Operations Order for the campaign. When we arrived at the convention we were told how our forces had responded to that order and what our starting circumstances were. From that point on each individual player was responsible for responding to all of the grand tactical challenges the enemy could throw at him.
Tabletop battles were played out in separate rooms so that the fog of war could be maintained. Referees set the terrain and stayed on hand to keep the game from bogging down.
|The Battle of MONS|
|The Battle of|
|French II Corps|
|More Mons?||Prussian Road|
The campaign format added a tremendous amount of interest to the tabletop battles because each game is strongly influenced by grand tactical maneuvering. For example, toward the end of the campaign our Prussian army was converging on an important French position. Two corps came from the south while one corps, II Corps, came from the east. From the south, we had the advantage but from the east we weren’t as lucky. II Corps was facing two enemy infantry corps, a cavalry corps and Napoleon with the Imperial Guard. The game started at 8:30 AM and things looked impossible for our II Corps. By 11 AM the Guard had marched away to face a threat from the rear and Prussian II Corps had been reinforced by a couple of divisions from the British army. Suddenly the French are outnumbered and their attack grinds to a halt. This kind of reversal of fortune would be unacceptable if arbitrarily created by a referee but, when it is the result of grand tactical maneuvering by the players, its part of the fun, and a large part at that.
The campaign was augmented by a couple of interesting lectures. One lecture discussed staff functions and another gave us a look at a highlander's uniform of the Napoleonic wars and an American light infantryman's uniform of the American War of Revolution. The latter was a show and tell by reenactors.
The staff created a familial atmosphere at Campaign - 99. We started off by meeting everyone at the convention and en'ed the event with an awards ceremony. After the awards and prizes were handed out the umpires gave us a view of what happened to each army during the campaign and critiqued our performance. Pete and Fred felt that the neither side had achieved a victory. Fred pointed out that the French army was still quite powerful and the Allies were spread out over a very large part of Belgium. Jim thought that the allies had achieved a marginal victory by getting astride Napoleon's supply line and forcing the French into the position of having to fight a battle not of their choosing.
I had a lot of fun at Campaign 99. I enjoyed making new friends and participating in a unique wargaming experience. I'll go back again.