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Review: Scenarios For All Ages

The title of “Scenarios for all Ages” by Charles S. Grant (son to the legendary Charles Grant, and an acclaimed writer on wargaming in his own right) and S.A. Asquith is deliberately ambiguous.

The goal of this book, published in 1996 by CSG publications, is to provide wargamers with a wealth of mostly generic scenarios to help them make their games more interesting, challenging, make more sense and above all to help them make their games fun.

Overview

In the foreword of this book Grant argues (in 1996 already. This goes even more for gaming today I think) that all too many wargames consist of equally large forces being set up face to face and then, much like boxers, have at it until one side is left standing. Battles very rarely work like that. Instead they are embedded in a grander scheme of things – the campaign. This context dictates the forces involved as well as the aims, goals, nature and consequences of their actions. Most of cases will have forces of asymmetric strengths and indeed goals in the field. To turn this into enjoyable affairs for wargamers this book offers 52 pre-made scenarios, including mini-campaigns and special rules suggestions.

The scenarios are grouped into categories such as Attack and Defense, Delay and Pursuit, Raids, Amphibious Operations, Operations at Night, Logistic Problems and many more.

Scenario Descriptions

Each scenario description starts with an estimated duration (short games being 2 or 3 hours, medium length games taking a ‘full evening’ and long games taking a full day), followed by suggestions for which periods of history can be covered with it as well as a suggested number of players (usually two, but some scenarios allow for more participants). A few scenarios also require an umpire/organizer and to get the most out of the scenario, are only to be read by him.

Most of the scenarios are designed to be played in almost any period or setting (including of course Fantasy and Sci-Fi settings). With each scenario you will find a map with a general suggestion for how to set up the game. The maps are drawn up with 5′ by 7′ tables with each square of the grid being roughly one foot in length and width.

The paragraph Purpose of the Scenario presents the situation at hand and explains the goals of each side. It gives the scenario a context, the ‘reason why’ and thus, purpose. The next paragraph explains the map and the general nature of the ground and environment.

The opposing forces are traditionally colour coded Blue and Red. Each scenario has a paragraph explaining each side’s forces and their objective. Out of necessity forces are presented in a rather generalist way, such as this (taken from a Medium length scenario):

Blue Forces:
2 Units of Light Cavalry
2 Units of Medium/Heavy Cavalry
1 Unit of Light Infantry
6 Units of Infantry
2 Units of Artillery

So you can play this scenario in all kinds of periods. For the modern age of course cavalry will (in most cases) be replaced with armoured fighting vehicles.

Light cavalry in a futuristic setting

For smaller skirmish scenarios like a trench raid the forces may be listed as “4 units of infantry OR 48 figures”.

The section Game Setting describes the way the game is to be set up, where and how forces are deployed and so on. The Success Criteria paragraph describes which points have to be met for the game to conclude and how the winner is determined based on each side’s aims.

The last part of each scenario description is Special Rules. Those are suggestions for special rules to use in this scenario, be it terrain rules, night fighting rules, rules for discovering the enemy and how to simulate having to get your troops in order in case of a surprise attack, civilian behavior if any should be present and so on. The kind of stuff important to the scenario, but usually not covered by wargames rules.

Each scenario’s description, including maps, is about two to three pages in the book, so pretty compact.

In addition to the scenarios there are four ‘mini campaigns’ (Reconnaissance Operation, A Major River Crossing, Amphibious/Land Action, Mini Siege) included in the rules. All of them are map-based and include rules for movement on the campaign map between games and various other bits and pieces.

Gotta love a proper campaign map

After the mini campaigns there is the Fun and Games section, containing five scenarios (or mini games) featuring more light-hearted, fun premises: ‘The Tourney’, ‘Musketeers, Swordsmen, Gentlemen and Others’, ‘Pirates’, ‘Wild West Gunfight’ and ‘Highwayman’. The Tourney is about a classic knightly tournament, with each player controlling a ‘stable’ of six knights, trying to get one of his knights to win the championship over three phases of the tournament (horse-mounted jousting, one-on-one battle on foot and a final fight between the two teams all on foot), including the option of adding in a third party of vigilantes crashing the party and trying to take the princess from the audience box.

The ‘Musketeers, Swordsmen, Gentlemen and Others’ scenario is more of a game in its own right, based on hexes rather than a map. It includes rules for general swordplay between less than 10 figures per side.

‘Pirates’ gives suggestions for four Pirate-based scenarios (Mutiny!, Surprise attack carried out by a small boarding party, naval action with several smaller craft attacking a larger ship and attack on a coastal force), most of them taking place on a pirate ship. I want a 28mm pirate ship now. Anybody got suggestions for who makes them these days?

Of course pirates come in many shapes and sizes

‘Wild West Gunfight’ is just that between two feuding factions. ‘Highwayman’ presents a very interesting scenario in which a dashing highwayman and his partner in crime have to relieve a travelling party of their valuables, unknowing that among them are armed constables with concealed weapons.

Towards the end of the book we find some Mechanisms and Rules, mostly for map movement – movement off the table for campaigns, wider flanking maneuvers during a battle, night movement and so on – and rules for handling casualties.

Conclusion and verdict

A fellow wargamer I recently met showed me this book a few weeks ago. Despite it not being in print any more, I didn’t have much trouble hunting it down. I think I got it used off Amazon.co.uk in the end for roughly GBP15.00. For this price I got 152 pages of generic wargames scenarios, including force suggestions, maps and so on. While this book of course is not mandatory, I find it to be a host of very, very useful ideas and inspiration for making one’s game more interesting and for giving it a sort of purpose. Anything that leads off the path of ‘you got 1500 points worth of stuff, I got 1500 points worth of stuff, let’s have at it’ is a good thing I believe.

I don’t know about any newer books which would give you this kind of content. I highly recommend hunting for this book. If we’re lucky it gets re-issued some day.

 

I hope that you enjoyed this review, found it interesting, enjoyed the painting and so on. If you have any questions, comments or indeed commission inquiries, feel free to let me know via the comments section, the Battle Brush Studios Facebook page or via e-mail.

Sigur Squirl

Sigur is the painter behind "Battlebrush Studios" and a familiar face in many wargaming circles online. Plays a metric ton of skirmish wargames and shares his experiences here on the blog.

3 Comments

  1. Excellent review! Scenario driven games require a little extra work, but they also yield so much more. I went and ordered the book straight after reading this 🙂

  2. @Jakko: Thanks, I did pretty much the same after Cpt.Shandy showed me the book. 😀

    @Cpt.Shandy: Thanks for the additional Links!

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