The Paddington Bear stare (part 2)

In part one, I discussed the “Paddington Bear” stare, which is – in my humble opinion – entirely appropriate if an opponent’s army has been either tooled up the extreme or contains some equally fanciful notions or clever rules interpretations (read: rule abuses).

There’s playing a game for fun and there’s playing to win (at all costs). Don’t get me wrong, I play every game to win, but to win fairly. As a wise Priestley man once said to me, “A game is for both sides to enjoy.” When gamers lose sight of this simple tenet they risk spoiling the fun and bordering on the ancient Chinese art of “Chi-Ting”.

Let’s discuss some examples.

The army list made me do it

I recently played a Pike and Shotte game where the Parliamentarian army consisted of a few units and a wall of cannons (!). After all, the rules said that the New Model Army can take up to 3 guns per batallia. It was like an ECW version of the charge of the light brigade. Suffice to say the Royalists fared very poorly that day; they were blown to bits on a frontal charge. When we tried to outflank the New Model Grand Batterie, it simply turned and blew away the rest of the army.

Another classic example from my Ancient Battle days was the Norman army consisting entirely of mounted knights and crossbowmen. I have heard the same story several times of gamers who tried WAB only to be steamrollered by Normans (or similar) and be put off the game forever. A few years back I played a ‘gent’ (who will remain nameless), who was very pleased he’d steamrollered my Age of Arthur army and failed to see any problem with. Moreover, he wondered why I hadn’t I taken a similar army (doh! Because my army was more fun to play and far more tactically challenging).

The “Kustum Kombi” army

I tend to prefer scenario play rather than straight pitched battles. But, there is a danger that if your opponent knows the scenario or your army, you can be facing a customised army designed to defeat you or to exploit the scenario.

In a recent game of In Her Majesty’s Name, we played a four-way game with the “Stop the Pigeon” scenario. We had three standard out-of-the-book companies (Anarchists, British Navy, and Sons of the Desert) and one custom force consisting of only four models, all in SRC armour (which is very good), rocket-packs and machineguns! I like to think that such a combination would have Messeurs Cartmell and Murton waking in their sleep screaming “By all that is holy, dear God, NO!”

Suffice to say, with their superior firepower and manoeuvrability, the UBER team decimated any others who came close and used their rocket packs to grab the “Pigeon” first. Fortunately, before they could run off table with their loot, a Brick Lane anarchist threw a bottle grenade hitting the model carrying the pigeon and toasted him. However the UBER team still won on points. Ah well, justice of a sort.

I’ll tackle more fun examples in my next blog post.

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