The Battle of the Backyard; or, The Education of a Young Gamer
Yesterday afternoon, my son and I went out to play in the yard with the Alamo toy soldiers his grandparents bought him when we visited that monument. We were setting up the figures, and a quarter in my pocket prompted me to turn our play into an impromptu wargame. After setting up the armies, we took turns declaring which soldier would fire at which target, and then a coin flip determined whether the shot hit or missed. A “hit” soldier was considered out of the action and tipped over.
Surveying the territory, the Texians determined that the low plateau would be the most defensible location against the approaching Mexican infantry regiment. The outnumbered Texians then took up positions behind the rude rock wall, hastily constructed at the plateau’s edge.
Soon, the mass of uniformed regulars came marching carefully across the rocky plain, bayonets already fixed to their muskets in anticipation of closing with the rebels. The Texians grimly gripped their weapons, awaiting the order to fire.
The Mexican troops attempted a charge on the Texians’ right flank, but the superior position and cover of the Texians gave them a considerable advantage.
After suffering almost 50% casualties, the Mexican regiment retreated, yielding the field to the Texians. Victory for Texas, hurrah!
I was never much into wargames as a kid. I liked playing with toy soldiers, making fortifications and trenches in the sandbox, and conducting free-form battles, but never thought to make Rules for hits and misses, movement, etc. It was a ton of fun to get down in the dirt and play again, albeit with a little more structure for resolving actions. I think the next skirmish will involve fewer units, maybe with some similarly-simple, improvised rules for movement. Since the Texian army includes figures for Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett, I may also incorporate a multiple-hit rule for Heroes.
Interestingly enough, even with a simple binary resolution mechanic and no rules for cover, etc., I found that the Texians seemed to have a considerably higher success rate than the poor Mexican troops. Somehow, that quarter was doing just fine compensating for my lack of rules…
My son was very into the game, and is gung-ho to play again this afternoon. Since before he was born, I’ve daydreamed about playing games together, so naturally, I’m thrilled by his enthusiasm. Time to go buy some more plastic toy soldiers!