The Festival of War, held at my flat last weekend, was a great success. Estimated casualties were about 15 million, mainly thanks to a refighting of the First World War, but the Third Crusade and the War of the Ring must have added a few hundred thousand each as well.
Quite a few games were played, not all of them out-and-out wargames:
Blue Moon: I taught this one to Dave when he turned up on Thursday evening. I love this game intensely but I suspect Dave was slightly underwhelmed. Not wargamey enough for Dave probably. I even let him play with the Mimix but he seemed blind to their charms.
Wings of War: This got played in the pub on Friday by Dave, Nick and John while they were waiting for me to get home from work and cook their dinner! We played it again on Saturday evening. I thoroughly enjoyed this, reminded me of happy hours playing SPI's Flying Circus when I was a kid. Phil had an amazing comeback, he looked like a dead duck and his partner Nick was already down in flames, but he held out for ages - after I had accidentally flown off the table he was in with a real chance of shooting John down in a final head-on shootout, but lost on the final draw of the card.
Beowolf: We played this on Friday evening, after Simon had arrived, a curry had been cooked and eaten, and significant amounts of booze consumed. It was a lot of fun, especially as Nick managed to find a sexual subtext in just about everything that happened in the game!
Paths of Glory: Dave and Nick spent most of the weekend playing this. Dave was the Germans - of course! - but got off to a slow start as he concentrated on event plays to get to Total War. Later on he broke through into Italy. The game went into 1917 on Sunday when Nick had to leave for his train, but Dave looked like a clear winner by that point.
Crusader Rex: I taught this to John on Saturday, a straightforward task - the rules to this game are so beautifully simple and brief. We drew sides and John got the Franks, a tough side to play on your first time. I managed to split the Christian beachhead in two and after taking Jerusalem cleared the whole of the southern end of the map of the infidels. I think John suffered because he couldn't resist being fairly aggressive early on in the game. This swamped his replacement pool with casualties and made for a long delay before the first crusaders finally arrived. It ended with a sudden death victory for me in the fifth turn.
War of the Ring: Dave and I finally got to play this on Sunday afternoon after everyone had left (apart from John who was snoozing). It felt tricky to explain this, the lengthy rulebook doesn't help and the rules for the companions and the hunt are not simple to convey. But once we got going (with Dave cast against type as the Free Peoples) the play flows very simply and cleanly. The biggest problem we both had as forty-somethings was reading the text on the cards! I enjoyed this a lot, even though we didn't finish. In fact I'm getting faintly obsessive about this game - rereading the rules over breakfast every morning, and planning how to paint the figures, even going so far as painting a trial figure.
Another highlight of the weekend was a trip to the Games Shop in Aldershot where we must have spent about £150 between us, on such goodies as the shop's entire stock of Wings of War expansions, ASL Starter Kit 2, San Juan and Chariot Lords.
A special mention must go to Phil who cooked a glorious four-course meal for us all on Saturday evening. Thanks also to Dave, John, Nick and Simon who made the journey to Farnham. Let's do it again soon!