Year of Our Lord 2021, Monday, the thirteen of September.
Usually I don’t mix “work and pleasure”.
Meaning it is a most rare occasion when I game what I am reading about but as with all good things in life there’s always that single exception that “everyone will point out as being the rule rather than the exceptional event”.
Anyway, I’ve recently acquired a book ( was on the list to get a.s.a.p. but somehow forgot it ) which couldn’t have been written at an earlier time due to World War 2 classified documentation which was only released somewhere around 2015… Yeah, that’s how things roll when dealing with proper war changing top secret epic tales. No one gets to know the stuff until 70+ years later.
David O’Keefe’s ‘One Day in August’ makes for a crescendo that introduces the reader to the importance of the cryptography ‘shadow’ war and builds up all the elements necessary to understand the WHY. And for Dieppe that is paramount.
I am still rolling through the thunderstorm that O’Keefe unleashes and that builds up on some knowledge I acquired along the years on how the combined operations and connection with the intelligence services and especially the true and palpable impact some of those operations had in the big picture and especially on the named battles and events, for example the chase of the Bismarck.
The gaming table has been empty of gaming proper for a while due to having been commandeered to act as a crafts workshop to cut and slice and glue and texture and paint and whatnot “put together bits and pieces” kind of scenario as we ( me and the youngsters ) are putting together some wargaming terrain pieces to play Five Parsecs from Home in cooperative mode.
( it has nothing to do with the book, I know. We’ll get there )
Five Parsecs From Home is a most complete system built from the ground up to accommodate solitaire narrative miniatures wargames but can easily be a cooperative experience as well. The important aspect I always look for when planning games with daughter and friends is the possibility of story telling into, during and concluding the games and for that purpose the rulesets that aim at tactical skirmish are the very best. Nordic Weasel have surprised me before with other rules and once I got the Five Parsecs… book in my hands we knew we were up to a good project – note that this does not invalidate the other campaigns, mainly the age of sail Captain Croft stuff. Is just another game universe to play.
We did build a couple terrain pieces and that occupied the gaming surface for more than a week, working in and out until we called it almost done and ready to store for later varnish coat process.
Thus was the gaming table free to be used for a game.
Wanting to distance myself a bit from the miniatures I managed to sit for a quick scenario of By Shot Shock and Faith to recycle remembering the rules and was about to setup Helsinki 1918 again when fate intervened and I ended up pulling Atlantic Chase out of the shelf.
I stared at it for a moment and looked back at the book and remember thinking “am I not breaking my own rule if I do it and thus get lost in translation between what is history and what is just a game?”…
Darn it, i furiously put it up and restarted the entire thing right from Tutorial 3 with a new set of eyes on how the shadow war of information between the naval code makers and breakers and how the game may portray that.
Obviously I am being kind as the game abstracts the entire process of information gathering along a non existing timeline but in truth that’s not a problem. Once the players know what they are looking at and what, historically, is contained in the game actions and phases it is very easy to pin point the chronology of fictional events that lead to sinking the big enemy vessels.
Of note is that I miss in the game the most important aspect of that code breaking war – the submarine arm and the enigma machine versions – which is exactly the main reason of the events covered in the book.
While I’m not a strategic scope gamer, something like War & Peace does not catch my fancy, I do enjoy Atlantic Chase a lot for its grasp of the essentials of the surface naval war in the Atlantic. Have yet to explore fully its battle system but, not unlike AP Jutland, seems to be functional without being an entire game on its own and relates to a support system IF players what to use it for a more in depth tactical combat experience but I’d say it is not needed and just the basic is enough for the command position the player is acting upon.