Monday, April 29, 2013

Funny Little Wars Playtest Report

In hindsight it may not have been totally wise to paint hundreds of miniatures and arrange a convention game for a rule system I had never actually tried. I think I was using the logic that any game with adorable images and witty rules must be pretty great. While this has proven horribly wrong in the past (ahem, Dungeon Lords, Ankh Morpork...) in this case it turns out that Funny Little Wars is both adorable and well designed.

We held our game in the Charlestown town hall. That's a blog entry in itself. An antique hall with two gigantic open areas, a stage, and a kitchen. Why is this place not in use all the time? Tragic. There were five players. Two were veteran gamers, two had done some gaming, and one was a clever ten year old boy. The rules themselves took maybe fifteen minutes to explain. For an adult board or wargame that's pretty good. I had some play aids printed and then forgot them. That was unfortunate but turned out to be a minor issue only.

Prior to play I covered an eighteen by eighteen foot area of the floor with lime green felt. Blue and green fabric added a forest and river. I put down a half dozen simple houses and that was it for terrain. I think the overall effect was striking and effective, and certainly a contrast to the amount of fuss I usually put into gaming tables. With a bit more time I would probably want to add some lime green insulation sheet hills.

Our scenario was Charles Grant's Advance Guard Tabletop Teaser. I think a good convention scenario has to include either exciting troops, exciting weapons, or a scenario with clear objectives. Funny Little Wars troops are from imaginary lands and the weapons are pretty basic so using a Grant scenario was pretty essential. In this case the situation is that two equal armies stumble across two locations to occupy. Do the generals camp out on one, try and take both, or just defeat their opponent in the field and win by default? It's a basic question but engaging.

The group formed their plans and launched in. In the hours that followed we saw cavalry charges, towns being taken and defended, unexpected reinforcements, and artillery battles. I was very happy with the game on a number of levels. Firstly, each unit type had a strength and a weakness and the successful generals were the ones who recognized which was which. Young Liam scrambled to get his fast moving skirmishers into the town and held it afterwards against attack. Paul sent his cavalry in flanking sweeps across the board and tied up oncoming reinforcements simply by acting as a threat. Those moments were memorable because they felt right, they felt historical. The game is light but the foundation is solid.

Secondly, Funny Little Wars features matchstick firing toy cannons. Cannons that fire matchsticks across the board are more fun that a barrel of monkeys. After one turn I ran to my boxes and unpacked All of the cannon. They were insanely entertaining. I can't say they were terribly accurate but matchsticks flying hither and yon are just hilarious.

Finally, we found that the rules were more than adequate to manage the situations that arose. There were no fights, no pouty grumpy faces, just a bunch of players happily pushing soldiers around and firing matches at each other. That's most of what I look for in games. Not specifically flinging matches, but a relaxed good time. I'm looking forward to running the game at Huzzah and then getting it out into the garden.

1 comment:

  1. What a splendid time you have all had! Game pictures look great and the report gives a glimpse of your super game.
    I'm just back from playing in the Centennial Event (a couple of piccies are up on my Tradgradland blog) at Sandhurst (we played in doors and out)and it was a most enjoyable and social occasion.I feel you are moving along really nicely towards Huzzah!