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    John D Salt

    I’m just back from COW (the Conference Of Wargamers). Another magnificent two-fisted snorter of a weekend. I got Sue Laflin-Barker to sign me a copy of her “Start Ancient Wargaming Using DBA 3.0”, caught up with old pals at the bar, and was pleased to see quite a few new faces this year. The programme of games was packed with goodies, and, from photos I’ve seen since on the Wargame Developments Facebook page, lots of people were having all sorts of fun in other games I was quite unaware of at the time. The conference organiser (Tim Gow) continues to fail to use parallel timestreams to fit the available games into the time allowed, so as usual most conference-goers often found themselves wanting to be in two places at once.

    My own session-picking problem was somewhat eased this year by the fact that several of the games offered were ones that I had already played at the Defence Academy Wargames Club or Connections UK; I knew they were good, but thought it better to give others a chance to enjoy them, and try something new. There was still plenty to choose from, and I still wanted to be in two places at once.

    After the plenary game (AFV identification using the old 1/100th Miltra models and a pair of highly recalcitrant binoculars that refused to give a decent view in the time allowed to fiddle with them), Friday evening was spent buying and drinking beer, chatting with friends, and playing Jim Roche’s “Osprey Trench Poker”, which is harder than it sounds after a few pints. The rest of the conference I spent as follows:

    Saturday morning:
    “Kestrel’s Hover”, Mike Young: a modern tactical hex game of air assault tactics, written for and used by the staff of 16th Air Assault Brigade.
    “Hurried Hydaspes”, Graham Evans: a quick recreation of this classic battle, using a simple but ingenious card-driven system.
    Saturday afternoon:
    “Trafalgar”, Mike Elliott: the whole battle in less than an hour, with individual ships represented and only one page of rules.
    “Gangsters”, Colin Maby: make a profit running protection, gambling or bootlegging in 20s Chicago, with some lovely 28mm cars and charcter figures.
    At the dinner-table, we were invited by Mike Elliott to submit “Late Arrivals at the Duchess of Richmond’s Ball” (as played on ISIHAC).
    After dinner:
    “Mini-Jutland”, John Armatys and Martin Rapier: the whole battle in less than a hour. Not individual ships, but one page for both rules and scenario.
    Unaccountably I stayed drinking beer and talking with more friends, thus missing Jim Roche’s singalong session, which was a pity.

    Sunday morning:
    “Five Minutes of Political Courage”, Jaap Boender: role-playing Belgian coalition politics, 2010 — can you form a government in less than 541 days?
    “Waking Shark”, Mike Elliott: a presentation and discussion on how wargames might represent infosec and cyberwar.
    Sunday afternoon:
    “Paddy Griffith, his Rise and Fall”, John Curry: a presentation on the life of the late and much-missed founder of Wargame Developments.

    After that it was the WD AGM, and we all said our goodbyes and dispersed until next year, tired, happy, and very full of cake and the good old-fashioned “stick-to-your-ribs” food provided by Knuston Hall — over lunch one day I heard one of our number caution another about tactful answers to the question “what was the food like?” when returning to his wife, as praising it too highly might cause a certain amount of miff.

    If you haven’t tried COW, you should. I believe next year’s COW will cost £275 (including bed and very full board) and run on the 8th, 9th and 10th of July. It really is the wargaming highlight of the year.

    All the best,


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