To say that one actually ‘plays’ against Richard Bodley Scott is perhaps misleading. A wargame with Richard as an opponent is more accurately described as an ‘experience’, one that has left the strongest of men feeling weak and listless. Firstly, you face the ‘light’ banter that usually questions your sexuality and/or your parentage. With little time for small-talk about births and deaths in the family, or the misadventures of his long suffering wife Mary, army lists are produced and his dreaded black briefcase is opened. The scene that follows will no doubt resonate with generations of competition gamers. Contained within this case are to be found the tools of his craft, felt terrain pieces ,daubed with green paint , that have been the ruin of many an unsuspecting aspirant to his wargaming throne. Add a wooden ruler and the writer of countless rulesets and arm lists is ready to pounce……….
If you were wondering where Richard has been for the last eighteen months then I must direct you to the Slitherine webpage and the computer game “Pike and Shot.” If you have yet to play it then you are missing a treat. Quite simply, the results of his and the team’s work are staggering. Indeed, when viewing the game ,our conversation turned to the very future of wargaming with figures! The whole package is amazing; terrain, personalities, illustrations and the armies are all produced with consummate skill and attention to detail. The crowning glory is of course the artillery batteries that actually recoil and give fire in a rolling cannonade.
I pressed Richard for information on whether the screen units could not be printed on card ( ala Sam Mustafa’s soon to be released Blucher cards). A boxed set of such cardboard units has apparently been discussed. The graphics for Pike and Shot would certainly lend themselves to become unit counters for a tabletop game. Although, I was always puzzled why some enterprising soul did not publish the unit markers used in the explanatory diagrams in the Field of Glory rulebooks. Without wanting to offend any lead addicts, card pieces could be a low cost entry point into the hobby and a chance for the wargames ‘butterfly’ to try out his new must-have army without buying and painting the lead ( and then maybe discovering that the army is a commander’s nightmare!)
Richard’s history in wargaming is of course filled such “what ifs” and “if onlys”. Who hasn’t sat through a discussion of ‘ what would have happened if DBM was released ten years later than it actually was, with modern style graphics and coffee table style photos?’ As it was DBM was certainly my favourite game for at least a decade. Richard had started his career in gaming long before, with WRG second edition, in 1974. Field of Glory is of course an attempt to iron out some of the perceived problems with DBM, especially for competition play. I must admit I was never gripped by Field of Glory ancients but the Renaissance version is altogether different with a very healthy competition player following. The computer game uses many of the mechanisms of the tabletop game, with firepower and armour effects somewhat reduced. Version two of FOG Ancients is already out but there was a twinkle in Richard’s eye when a new Ancients computer game was mentioned, on the lines of Pike and Shot. Richard May we’ll be disappearing for another eighteen months?
In the next post I will give details of the tabletop slaughter!