Saturday, January 07, 2012

more Warfare from the Age of Awesome

...It was agreed upon that the figures had to come from a sword using culture written about by a famous fantasy (not science fiction) author. This brought us back to the number of figures we should use and in the interest of getting the game started less than three hours late, we decided on an arbitrary fifteen figures plus one special being related to that culture. Almost everyone started reaching for their storm giants and dragons, but Monty with a wicked smile on his face pulled out fifteen Viking type men and women and an old dude in a chair. He had done an unusually fine painting job on them, but they were very colorful for Vikings. I figured the guy in the chair must have been someone mighty special with an artifact or something and we all started making guesses on the weapons the puny Vikings were going to use. It just wasn’t Monty’s style to bring out a batch of humans that could get blown away by something small like Ernie’s squad of iron golems or Jake’s flight wing of red dragons. Then Monty hit us with the bombshell. Since he was limited to sword using cultures written about by fantasy authors he had decided to use the fifteen toughest Norse Gods with Odin leading them. We all started shouting unfair at once, while we were putting away our dragons, golems, and undead and bringing out tougher things. 

After long debate, in which our first move was to make Monty put away his Gods, we decided on a new definition. We would use figures taken from sword using cultures. It had to be written about by a noted fantasy author. The fifteen figures had to be normal everyday beings of that culture with normal weapons and armor for that culture. The special being could have one weapon not above plus three, special armor not above plus three, or one spell, and they couldn’t be so strong that a direct hit from a panzerfaust couldn’t kill them with one shot. That last point was brought up by the Tractics boys, but it still sounded good to the rest of us. 

Mounts and movement factors were discussed when Tom brought out sixteen knights on sixteen platinum dragons. We thought that knight types generally were found on chargers (not the cars, he had those too) and this was how they were to be mounted. Dave pulled out some really strange Petal Throne things that nobody could make head nor tails of. I think he called them hooggies or something like that, but we made him put them away stating that they were never written about in a fantasy book. After all was said and done we had a pleasant mix of knights, dwarfs, elves, ogres, winged men from Mongo, nomadic horse archers, elephant riding Greeks, giants, Swiss pikemen, and Romans. 

Monty and I had wisely held back when everyone was digging into their bushel baskets of miniatures and bringing out things. In fact, while everyone else was grabbing figures Monty and I were deciding terrain and who would be on whose side. I said a desert area with a few big sand dunes and little other terrain would be fun and everyone but Pete with the wood elves agreed (he was shouted down). Monty decided a free for all with no one siding with another would be good. The point was brought up that natural enemies like giants and dwarfs shouldn’t ever fight together no matter what (which really hurt the two Diplomacy buffs that had the dwarfs and giants). Finally Monty felt he couldn’t hold back anymore and brought out sixteen of the prettiest tyrannosourous Rex you ever saw. He also brought out two comic books and a novel none of us had ever read to support his use of them. Over a loud and long protest by the single F.I.T.S. [Fight in the Skies, precursor to Dawn Patrol - Jeff] lover in our group who wanted to argue logically for the fact that such a group would never realistically come together. All the rest of us surveyed the playing area; with its assemblage of monsters, magic, men, and his flying men of Mongo, and laughed him into silence. It was my turn to place my figures on the board and while I took out by black enamel coffer from its fishing tackle resting place I started to talk about Edgar Rice Burroughs. I mentioned the fact that no one could doubt that Burroughs was one of the greatest of fantasy writers. I saw the beads of perspiration start to form on eleven foreheads. I also mentioned as I opened the black coffer shielding its contents from all the others that his Mars series was certainly a culture using swords. I saw the Tractics and Diplomacy boys turn pale and Monty tried to pull back his dinosaurs, but I held his hand. 

With a gleam of triumph in my eyes, I pulled out sixteen of the nicest, best painted set of green martians the world has ever seen. Each one had a radiation rifle, a radiation pistol, and two swords at hand. I could see the looks of fear in eleven eyes and the grim determination of eleven jaws. The battle was brief and when it was over the heaped bodies were laid around the martians inches deep.

--"Monty Haul and his Friends at Play", James M. Ward, The Dragon #14, May 1978.