18 December 2015
If you love the 18th century or campaigns, you're in for a treat.
BORDER RAID: “PILLAGE IN PROCRASTOR”
By Charles S Grant, Partizan Press,
ISBN: 978-1-85818-703-7, 80pp,
Charles Grant is, of course, the creator and Grand Master of the Table Top Teaser. These clever and challenging scenarios appeared for years in Battle for Wargamers,Practical Wargamer and then, much later, in my own Battlegames, before Charles decided to hang up his boots and take a break. However, you can’t keep a good man down and it wasn’t long before he launched into a writing career that has encompassed several volumes for Ken Trotman’s Wargaming in History series and this growing list of A4 wargaming publications for Partizan Press. Previous outings dealing with the fictitious wars of the Grand Duchy of Lorraine and the Vereinigte Freie Städte (VFS) have all been highly entertaining as well as informative: Raid on St Michel, The Siege of La Crenoil, The Annexation of Chiraz, The Wolfenbüttel War, Attack on the Jünger and now this, Border Raid. This latest volume comes with a particular raison d’être based on feedback from his many fans, and Charles has realised that “...a large number of my campaign battles require significant wargame armies. These are not within every wargamer’s reach ... Following on in this vein, Border Raid is very much about a mini campaign with small forces and small actions.”
And so it is that after a few pages of introduction and background for the uninitiated, we are plunged into the necessary planning for the scenarios contained in the book, though you need to be careful because a number of sections are intended to be secret and only read by the particular player(s) representing one side or the other or, indeed, the umpire alone. Therefore, this is very a much a book for umpires initially – if there are gamers intending to get involved in actually playing through these scenarios, they’d better hold off reading the book until their campaigning stint is over! It would make an excellent purchase for a club looking for campaign ideas, so that the designated umpire can drip-feed the relevant information to the players as required.
The book is a Grantian gem, packed with all the familiar enthusiasm, groaningly bad puns, wit and clever ideas for campaigning with relatively small forces that only a retired brigadier could dream up (and get away with; I mean MacYavelli – really?!) The core of the book is the set-up which requires a mere handful of units on each side, something that is manageable for even the most parsimonious or space challenged of gamers. The many colour photographs show the author’s own 30mm collection, but of course you can play using whatever scale of miniatures you like, from 6mm upwards.
The vast majority of the book, however, is given over to an illustrated narrative recounting how the campaign actually played out when umpired by the author himself, whilst the forces were commanded by wargamers John Dougan and Graham Cummings. Interestingly, only once did John command troops in one of the battles, and Graham not at all! They received information via email from the umpire and sent their orders in return, but the tabletop encounters were in the hands of the umpire and other players.
I don’t want to reveal more here but will just say that if you love the 18th century, or if you love campaigns, or if you’re looking for inspiration for small actions (and there are about a dozen maps here ideal for such encounters), then you’re in for a treat. A proper wargamers’ book. (Henry Hyde)