Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Scenario Ideas : "You were a bloodthirsty foe, but your chicken is delectable!"

I have occasionally run Taiping-era games at conventions, using a modified version of the Brother Against Brother rules (which I've titled Elder Brother Against Younger Brother). It's an intriguing period, colorful, and allows me to play out Colonial-era games without the annoying colonists who grossly outclass everyone else.

Among the many intriguing people from this era is the Imperial Chinese general Zuo Zongtang (左宗棠), better known as Tso Tsung-'tang. He's the General Tso of General Tso's Chicken fame, the name being used only to mark the meal as a Hunan-style dish. In fact, the dish is entirely American in origin. One of my favorite variants of the recipe is here, which I originally found from this article. As a vegetarian, I use either cubed tofu or chicken-style textured vegetable protein. (It's not as vile as it sounds, particularly after you cover it in batter and deep-fry it.)

All that aside, the thing that caught my attention was reference to Zuo hauling Krupp siege guns all the way into central Asia to put down the Muslim Rebellion in the 1870's. While I have no clear historical scenario to work from, I immediately saw the opportunity for a skirmish scenario involving Chinese troops seizing a position from which they could bombard the Muslim Hui fortress. Of course, it meant buying some Old Glory Krupp siege guns, and painting up a bunch of Afghan troops to look vaguely like Bokhara mercenaries. And perhaps I really should be using some Foundry figures for the Hui rebels. And by the time I had all the lead I wanted, there wasn't time to paint it all for KublaCon.

Perhaps I'll run it at the next ConQuest.

One last, food-related note. Kudos are in order to the KublaCon staff for convincing the food vendors to stock a decent selection of healthy foods this year! As a vegetarian, I can say that there is nothing worse than finishing running a game at 3:00 in the afternoon to find that the only edible food available is an extra-greasy cheese pizza and a bag of chips. The fruit bowls and vegetable platters were lifesavers. Overpriced, as always, but for once I was able to forgive that.

Monday, May 26, 2008

New Beginning: KublaCon Report

OK, I'm trying to start again. This weekend was KublaCon at the San Francisco Airport. The only game I participated in without running it was Nick Stern's excellent Kris and the Flame Pirates of the South Seas game. As usual for the period and region, it was colorful.

The next day, I ran two games, running the same Wars of the Roses battle using first DBMM and then Field of Glory.

DBMM has been out for a few years, and is the latest offering by Phil Barker. Field of Glory was just released at the beginning of this year. The most prominent name on it is Richard Bodley-Scott. Together, Barker and Bodley-Scott are the Truffaut and Godard of the British gaming world. Or if that's too obscure, they're the Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige. No, wait. That went from a really obscure analogy to even more obscure, didn't it?

Anyhow, the two worked together on earlier rules sets, but have fallen out, each to pursue their own unique, but clearly similar concepts of their oeuvre. People on the DBMM forum spend a lot of time finding reasons to dislike FoG. I haven't been following the FoG forums, but I assume they're spending at least some time complaining about DBMM.

Personally, I find most of the carping fairly silly. I don't generally play tournaments, so I hate to specialize in one rules set or another. Even putting aside the argument over whether games-playing is a serious attempt to simulate military history or an excuse to show off painted figures, every rules set will emphasize and abstract different aspects of history. To insist that one, and only one, set has captured the Truth is to commit the sin of having read only one book.