Sunday, 15 December 2013

General Musings on AARs

Some General Background Information
Craig and I visited Warfare in November for our first proper chance to walk a wargames show. Normally we are putting on demo games and so have little chance to really have a good look around. Sadly the demo games were not up to much, but this was more than offset by the traders, and both of us picked up some goodies from Pendraken. Craig ended up with a decent amount of kit to put together a nicely balanced battlegroup for BKCII. We resolved there and then to try and get a game in with our new toys before Xmas. There is nothing like a deadline to focus the mind on the painting and modelling front.

We agreed to do a fairly mobile scenario to reflect the early days of Operation Overlord and the fluid nature of the front and the battles that took place in early June. We decided upon a straight forward 'Encounter' scenario from the book, with each side having 2,000 pts. It was nice to be playing something a bit different from the, for us, fairly standard attacker versus dug-in defender scenarios that we have played of late. 

For my Brits I decided upon the following:

4th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry, 129th Infantry Brigade, 43rd 'Wessex' Division.
Support from 'A' Company, 8th Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment.
1 Troop, 43rd Recce Regiment.
477th Battery, 112th 'Wessex' Field Regiment Royal Artillery.

As always, I really enjoyed researching the units I was to field. For the scenario, it was to be based upon the figthing that took place on the second day of Operation Epsom, in and around the villages of St Mauvieu and Marcelet, with the crossroads located between the villages as the objective. The Germans were a Kampfgruppe from the units of 12th SS 'Hitlerjugend' and 21st Panzer Division.

So after some research I came up with the following layout for the table:

The outskirts of St Mauvieu are on the right (British deployment), with Marcelet on the left (German deployment). The objective of the scenario was control of the crossroads in the centre of the table.
The view from Marcelet towards St Mauvieu.
The view from St Mauvieu, with Marcelet in the distance.
Departure From the Norm
Now those of you that follow my Blog know that generally speaking I like to do fairly detailed AARs to show how the game went. Afterall this is something I like to see on other Blogs. But on the day I just was not in the mood to take copious notes and photos to put together my normal AAR. And do you know what? I enjoyed the game much more! 

So this got me thinking about why do we bother with putting up AARs on our Blogs? After all as I've mentioned before, they can take up an inordinate amount of time, generally a lot longer than the game itself. So with a couple of weeks to mull over this issue, I thought I'd jot down some musings from my perspective with regards the above:

Good Points
  • I like to show how I came up with a scenario, the table layout, the forces involved etc. After all that is something I enjoy on other Blogs as it can inspire me to try something a bit different.
  • A good description of how the game went accompanied by some nice photos showing progress of the units makes for enjoyable reading IMHO. You do not need to be Tolstoy, but a clear and coherent narrative with appropriate pictures and captions normally suffices. Whitty and dry comments are a bonus, one that my friend Keith excels at.
  • The background 'fluff' to a game I always find interesting, even if it is not from a period I normally game.

Bad Points
  • Writing AARs take time; an awful lot of time in my case. Maybe I ramble on too long and should try a case  "of less is more".
  • Taking notes during the game disrupts the flow as well as ones concentration. It also takes time to write them, increasing the length of the game. I was pleasantly suprised at how much more I enjoyed the game when I was able to give it my undivided attention.
  • Taking the pictures during the game, then editing them and sorting the good from the shocking (too much of the latter I'm afraid) takes time. Then you have to remember which pictures fit in which part of the game notes and then try and add appropriate captions to help with the narrative.

In future I still want to post useful and hopefully interesting AARs on my Blog, but I will try during the game to be less distracted by the whole taking notes business, and maybe rely more upon the pictures to job my addled memory. Hopefully this will work but only time will tell.

For those that are interested, the British won the game around the 6th Turn, when their Churchill tanks saw off the last of the German Pz IVs, leaving them with no viable anti-tank units to contest the crossroads.

Until next time...


  1. Your AAR's are really quite good so don't think that the efforts wasted but I do agree that the time taken in writing them up is often excessive (it is for me that's for sure!) and at the end of the day it shouldn't be allowed to detract from your enjoyment of the hobby.


    1. I'm glad you like them Richard. The trick I think is to come up with a way of recording the game that doesn't detract too much from the game itself. Only time will tell if I'm successful or not!

    2. What about using a voice recorder of some sort? There's software available these days that will even transcribe it all for you.

    3. Hmmm, now that's a good idea. However me and technology don't always get along...

  2. Interesting thoughts Steve, I have been trying a new method lately including more around the objectives and deployment areas, more as a means of capturing scenario ideas.