Wargame Thoughts and Commentary


I had always wanted to host a gathering of gamers and designers that are exploring the narrative style of wargaming, often using cards, dice, and other innovative uses of any number of gaming tools. The occasion finally arose when my good friend of over 40 years, Jim Getz, arranged to come out for a few days in September. It, initially, was to be a simple visit of a friend, but I soon got the idea to broaden the visit into an event. Thus was born GETZCON! I craftily named it after Jim, so that if is was a failure his name, and not mine, would by forever linked with the event.

I sent out invitations to people I have known and respected, and knew would enjoy each other and the prospect of a few days gaming and talking war-games. No rules lawyers, no whiners, no gamers that weren’t open to new ideas and fun. I also decided to concentrate on those that were very supportive of narrative wargames-such as Die Fighting , Piquet, Field of Battle, Maurice, and Longstreet. I invited about twenty people from across the US and Europe. Conflicts and distance required some to decline, but the group that did assemble was really a singular group. On Friday, September 13th, and Saturday September 14th, they assembled in Denver at Chez Jones for the new Micro-convention-Getzcon!

They were Jim Getz of Napoleonique, Empire, and Chef d’Battalion; Brent Oman of Piquet and Field of Battle, Sam Mustafa of Might and Reason, Grand Armee, Lasalle, Maurice, and now Longstreet, Myself, author of Le Jeu de la Guerre, Piquet, Zouave II and Die Fighting, along with long time supporters of these designs like Californians Freddie Avner, and Iain Black (Who flew in direct from Amsterdam. With some excellent cheese, I might add!)), plus expert play testers such as Terry Shockey and John Mumby. My long-time friend, Ed Meyers, who was part of the Les Jeu dela Guerre rules of so long ago, and New friends such as Eric Elder. Tony Fryer brought his usual pure fun and enthusiasm, and doubled as grill chef during the closing Cook-out. Tony always creates fun scenarios, and his FOB game was no exception! Greg Rold was very involved in the FOB game and the Longstreet introduction, and could be seen analyzing the new rules very carefully. Everyone was very busy either talking, gaming, or eating for the two days of the event.


Getzcon began on Friday evening with a cocktail party, which allowed a few people that had not met to do so, and for old acquaintances to talk about a wide range of topics, past games, rules, and the merits of good drink. It was a spirited and fun event with the conversation moving around the room accompanied by laughter and many a story about past experiences. Don Featherstone was one of the subjects and a toast was raised in his honor. Fond memories of meetings with Don, and David Chandler, were recounted.


I had had T-shirts made up for the group with the motto “ Historia, Ludus, Rixor, Crapula” which pretty much captured the activities of the convention. These were distributed during the cocktail party. I also had recently discovered among my collection a number of 30mm painted Stadden figures of the Young and Old Guard that I had purchased at the Tradition Shop on my first trip to England in 1969. These were individually mounted on simple black plinths and presented to each of the assembled Getzcon attendees.

soldiersphoto copy 11photo copy 6

As a surprise to me, Jim Getz had brought a presentation with him to the party. He presented me with a replica of the Victoria cross that had been given to him by Don Featherstone. (Jim was great friends with both Don and David Chandler and had visited them often in England). It was a touching and most appreciated gift.

.photo copy 5

But it was gaming that the group had come for, and starting after a small breakfast on Saturday the 14th, games there were to be! The morning games from 9:30 AM until 1:00 PM or so were a Die Fighting WSS game on the big table, and an FOB ACW game on the smaller table in the Fryer Lounge (recently converted from a storage room). The games began sharply at 9:30 with the attendees breaking upo into separate groups for the games.

The WSS game was made up of over 50 units on the 4X12 food table. It was a re-fight of a very successful game played in July, “Battle of Linswald”, that had been won by the Allies in a crushing defeat. (that battle may be found on this blog) . The field was unchanged from the earlier battle, but the set-ups could not have been more different.


The allies Ignored their left beyond the stream, and, instead, bolstered the center a bit, and added the bulk of their attack on the their right under Iain Black. The French again deployed in a balanced fashion with their dragoons on their right set to wend their way through the Linswald woods and take the undefended objectives, and then turn on the allied left flank. The center began a measured advance, while the left moved foreword to contest the Miasme Chateau.

Battle - CenterBattle - French Center

The Dragoons led by Sam Mustafa, did make their way through the the Linwald wood, and captured the road and the bridge over the steam, but the allies refused their flank.

Mustafa Attack

The Allies responded by sending the Prussians through the LInswald village, capturing most of the village. But the fatal blow was on the their right when they captured the Miasme Chateau and inflicted such heavy losses on the French left that their dice were running low (we played, as we do all games now, with the multiple bucket rule).

Crucial attack WSS

Even when the attack by the Dutch cavalry was blunted North of the windmill by the brave Bavarians, it was looking very bleak for the French Left as they had paid a dear price in troops (and Dice) for their defense.

photo copy 4Freddie and Ian

The crucial French error was a complete failure of communication between the CIC (Terry Shockey) and the Left Wing Commander (Fred Avner) as to his diminished resources (Dice) and the French had not committed the reserve dice to his flank on the last Turn. When that crisis became clear, it was a question whether Freddie could survive with a mere 14 dice left, before the next Rally, Restore, Reload card allowed the Reserve to be sent. Iain made sure with a full frontal attack that this would not happen! The French left ran out of dice and the battle was declared won by the Allies, while the French, once again, retreated back onto the Brabant fortifications. Thank heavens for the skill of Vauban! The game was concluded at 1:00 PM.

Meanwhile, the other gamers were fighting an FOB game in the adjoining room. Many shouts of “Union Forever! “and Rebel Yells were heard.


Here is the Union Commander’s report (since they were the victor they write the history):

“FOB game AAR

from: Brigadier General Greg Rold, U.S. volunteers, serving under Brigadier General Eric Elder

General Elder and I were ordered to probe the Confederate lines and were advancing our divisions side by side with myself on the left and General Elder on the right. As we encountered light resistance (the 4 Union Brigades initially faced 2 rebel brigades), I ordered up my 3rd brigade. (My 7 regiments were initially advancing against 3 regiments and a battery, 2 opposing regiments advanced while the other units deployed. I routed one of the enemy regiments and forced the other backwards.) At this point the advance of the fresh third brigade stalled as the commander lost his nerve. (This brigade had a huge opportunity to advance into close range with the outnumbered enemy and do some real damage, and after rolling a triple move to advance onto the board, he rolled a '1' on the next move card and stalled in place - this was a d8 leader). I had to threaten to relieve the colonel of command to get his troops moving again.


This delay nearly cost us the battle as the rebels were suddenly reinforced by 2 additional brigades, which, after a slight mixup in orders (one brigade rolled the dreaded '1' on its attempt to move onto the table), were able to coordinate a heavy counterattack on General Elder. General Elder was able to repulse the attack although he suffered some significant losses. (At one point, Eric's C8-D4 unit fought 3 melee's against C8-D4, C10-D6, and a C12+1-D10 units, winning all 3 melees, routing 2 enemy units and forcing back the C10-D6 unit. Our regiment was quite heroic and should be mentioned in General Elder's dispatches.)


At this point, my troops resumed the advance and exchanged heavy fire and assaults with the enemy. While my men did suffer some losses in the advance, we were able to force the rebels to retire hastily from the field. We did capture some rebel artillery and inflicted serious losses among the enemy infantry. (At this point, the Confederates were giving us morale chips, and they had a number of regiments that were routing or destroyed. We also had a few destroyed units, but were in much better shape to continue the contest. The Confederate players decided to throw in the towel. When we checked, the Union still had 11 morale chips along with the chips we were winning from the Confederates.)

Respectfully submitted by your obedient servant,

Brigadier General Rold”

(No one seems to know who that guy in the confederate forage hat was…he seemed mildly embarrassed by the fashion statement.)

Further commentary on this game may be found (along with scenario design notes) at Tony’s excellent blog: http://wargamebayou.blogspot.com Brent Oman’s site is at: http://wargamesandstuff.blogspot.com Additionally, more photos and text may be found on Eric Elder’s blog at: http://elderswargaming.blogspot.com/

The FOB game concluded at exactly the same time as the DF game, and left everyone free to break for lunch and catch a beer and a sandwich. Lots of chatter about the games filled the air, with the usual, “But if i’d only done ….,” statements.

The break was a swift one as Sam Mustafa was going to introduce all of us to Longstreet on the big table. Several players rotated through that demo and game, while everyone else watched closely. It is seldom that you get a designer willing to fly across country to coach you through your initial game of his new rules! Everyone was eager to give Sam’s latest a try. They weren’t disappointed!

Jim Getz seems absolutely mesmerized by Sam’s guidance!

The game was very much enjoyed by everyone playing. It is also a very different game than Maurice, which several had played before this game. It took only a few minutes of remarks and everyone was playing the game. It is very accessible!


As luck would have it (or not have it, as the case may be) Jim Getz at a critical moment opened fire at the Confederate lines and rolled this:

LS-6 ones

Yup, six natural ones! Needless to say the Union was very demoralized, and the Confedrates were convinced at this point they were proof from shot or shell, and swept forward to victory. One of the morals here is never trust a rule designer to win a game! That’s not what they’re good at!

Needless to say, it was a great game experience and Sam sold a number of rule sets on the spot! Check out Sam’s rules site at : http://www.sammustafa.com/honour-forums/index.php

By 5:00 PM the afternoon session gave way to a cookout with burgers on the grill, sesame buns, bean salad, chips, wine, beer, and chocolate cake! After a leisurely meal, some of the group went downstairs for a scratch game of Maurice, while others of us stayed above for a card game of Hanabi, one of the most delightful “party” card games I’ve played in years. Tony Fryer brought it, and it was an instant hit. Lots of laughter and light-hearted banter. This was helped by the addition of some good scotch for those who partake. It was a perfect end for all involved as we said our goodbyes and all left for home-some nearby and others a long flight on the next day.

I very much enjoyed hosting this event, and only regret that all those invited could not attend-maybe next year. It was a perfect “convention” and game weekend with four different war games, many meals and drink, and lots of wonderful conversation. It was a particular delight to have four of the hobby’s most innovative designers under one roof, sharing their ideas, and listening to the group’s insightful comments and the sharing of several hundred years of experiences and memories. It was also the first gathering of people dedicated to “Narrative” wargame design to my knowledge. May some even more innovative ideas come from this event! Micro-conventions are the thing, that’s for sure!

The only blot on the weekend was the beginning of the rains that brought so much suffering to parts of Colorado in the foothills and Mountain canyons to the North. Though Denver was not greatly affected, everyone shares in our heartfelt sympathies and wishes for their rapid recovery from this awful act of nature.

The end

The End