Tuesday, November 30, 2004

It's been a bit of a gaming drought for me lately, but last weekend really made up for it - the heavens opened and down poured the rain!

The weekend started on Friday (my birthday) with a trip to Salisbury and a very pleasant lunch with Phil at the Lemon Tree. The food was great and Phil was on good form. Then I picked Dave up from Amesbury and drove over to Cardiff in the gathering dark. Nightmare queueing on the M4 from the bridge onwards, and Nick's directions were only moderately helpful due to his mixing up of "right" and "left", but we reached his flat in the end, only to be immediately dragged out again by Nick to his local pub, where we drank a nice local mild and chatted with a scary Welsh ex-para about rugby and Iraq.

Saturday was a gaming epic, one of those occasions that will stick in my mind for a long time. 14 hours of Europe Engulfed, living on breadsticks, wine, and takeaway leftovers, with only a couple of 15 minute breaks. It was marvellous. I took the Western Allies, Nick (newish to the game) was the Russians, and Dave played the Axis. We were playing the 1941 Campaign Game, so Dave had a lot of fun the first couple of turns carving through Nick's army. For some reason he kept attacking all through the mud and snow of winter, severely damaging his own strength without significantly hurting the Russians at all. Nick took his emergency conscription and with the arrival of the Siberian elites started to fight back. He needed a bit of encouragement from me to get aggressive as he was still feeling nervous from his 1941 experience, but once he got going the Germans found themselves in desperate straits.

Meanwhile I was making a couple of strategic mistakes - forgetting my Alexandria income, and as a result not taking my first ASW build, and mistaking the weather in Africa at a crucial point which robbed me of an early chance to clear out the Italians with a Special Action. In the end it took me a whole year to collapse Italian morale. Then we waded ashore at an undefended Salonica, and were within an inch of taking Ploesti before Dave got his defence organized. By 1943 the Russians were pocketing large groups of German blocks on the Polish border, while I exploited Dave's slack defence of France with an uncontested landing at Bordeaux, followed by an armoured breakout which had my units rattling around Germany while his armies in France fought to regain supply.

Exhaustion finally stopped us 12:30 and November 1943, but it was pretty clear by then that Dave had lost.

Next morning we got up at 9, ate an enormous cooked breakfast courtesy of Nick, then played Amun Re. I was really pleased to get a game of this at last, and it lived up to its promise. A really intriguing enjoyable game. Dave won. Then it was Euphrat & Tigris in which I just scraped a win (it went to the 2nd tie-break with Dave). It was 2:30 by then and time to leave the Welsh sunshine behind and drive home into the English rain and another working week.........

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