This is a write-up of the megagame 1866 & All that. Please see earlier parts for more information – Part One & Part Two.

Battle of the Burgs

After the enemy broke out of Dusseldorf, we used  decided to take a momentary respite and rest the army. Getting further reinforcements from Von Roon helped as well. Von Roon proved to be our only friend in the cabinet, for while Bismark held the ultimate strategy for the west, Von Roon was the only person with the vision to see that the Army of the Main needed to stay alive and supported in order to see it through.

But while we rested, the enemy was on the move – towards Cassel. We knew the garrison there wouldn’t last long, and being one of our national objectives we knew we had to take it back instantly, so onwards we marched again. Strangely, despite having their whole army there at one point, the Federal leaders decided not to stick around, instead going back to their early game tactics of ‘Cat and Mouse’. As our combined forces approached the fort, the enemy corps retreated down two separate railway lines to the towns of Rothenburg and Marburg to the south.

Wanting to bring matters to a head, I had earlier split off a couple of divisions to the south in order to head them off and try and trap them again. These divisions were waiting for the enemy army at the ‘Burgs’, but since they were unsupported I had them fall back to Essen and Fulda, while my main army arrived at the Fort.

It was at this moment that I decided to force a decisive battle – The Battle of the Burgs. Advancing my two blocking divisions, and then mobilising two further divisions from the fort, we pincered each enemy army at their respective town, with Marburg being the tougher fight as it had three corps there instead of two.

Rothenburg we won quite easily – Prussian divisions, while smaller, have better morale and stronger weapons, so all other things being equal (in the sense that it was two units vs two units), we beat them back easily, and they retreated east into Prussian territory.

Marburg would prove to be our finest hour – with three corps vs our two divisions, they were able to bring an entire third front to bare, which would deal extra damage to the unit I was leading (me and Carl long ago decided to split duties when fighting). We placed our units on the positions, and chose our cards. We had some good ones at this point – the problem with most tactical cards is that they’re one use, so you have to spend some time cultivating more… but by this point we’d managed to get a hold of some decent ones that we could keep using. Looking at what was arrayed before me, and sifting through the options I had left, I was struck with a moment of inspiration.

As our armies exchanged fire, as I suspected my division took the worst of it – six hits came my way, and I was only able to negate one of them through cards. My unit’s morale was 4, so it would have broken had I not played my trump card- a tactical ability that boosted my morale from 4 to 6 (and I ‘only’ took 5 damage. My division was bloodied, but it held firm. In the end, not a single unit broke, while we ended up breaking two of their three corps.

I learned later that it was the only time we’d managed to genuinely rattle the morale of the opposing team. They’d lost plenty of fights and forts, sure, but at the end of the day their army was still alive and at the time they believed that they could beat us – that fight changed everything, and their will was broken ( <- probably an exaggeration).

But it broke me too.

You see, I had dealt an almighty blow the enemy, bringing my entire army to bear (I’d left the Prussian allies at the fort to take it. Useful as they were, they didn’t really count) I achieved the best result I was ever likely to get… and yet their army was STILL in the field. They retreated, losing some cards and some points of health, but they were still there, and over the next couple of phases they would just run, such was their will to fight.

But mine was no better- like I mentioned above, our Army was doing everything it was supposed to, but nothing was happening. We were winning, but the war was still dragging on. Bavaria and Hannover were essentially occupied by Prussia, and yet they were still in the fight. The Battle of Burgs firmly established Prussian dominance in the field for all time, and yet I knew I’d never be able to truly beat them, and I foresaw my army marching up and down Western Germany chasing after a foe that wouldn’t fight, and wouldn’t quit. War without end, and with no feedback form the political team I made a decision.

I’d had enough.

Lunch on the Rhine          

It has been six weeks since the war began. After the Battle of the Burgs, our army had split up again – half holding the line at Fulda, to guard against the enemy formation at Karlstadt on the Main, while the other half pursued the second Federal force through the mountains and along the Rhein. Fearing another capture of Dusseldorf, we made sure to get there first, and at this point we were facing off against the federal forces across the Rhine from us in Bonn, while we were in Hagen.

It was at this point I proposed an Armistice.

It turns out that the Federals had been hung out to dry more than we had – no support from Austria, not even concern for their predicament as they were driven further and further south. I probably could have chased them south of the Main and into Bavaria, but I was tired. I was tired of fighting a war that nobody seemed to care about.

(In hindsight OOC, me and Carl both regret not pushing them back that one extra step, but once we’d made the agreement we couldn’t really break it – we’d have lost a lot of bro points.)

I had learned just prior to turn six starting that our forces had firmly held onto Vienna, and that people were gathering for peace talks. Lacking concrete orders I decided I wasn’t going to throw away the lives of my soldiers just for the sake of it.

“Nobody seems to care about this war we’re fighting,” I said to my counter-part as we had lunch on a bridge over the Rhine – middle ground and neutral territory.

“We’ve beaten you fair and square, and we’re happy with the lands we now own. Let’s draw a line across the map, and call it a day for a turn, let the politicians sort it out and give ourselves a rest.”

As part of the agreement, we also agreed to exchange Nuremburg for the one Prussian fortress I had yet to take back – Coblenz. It was taken at the start of the war and I hadn’t gotten down their yet to take it back. This seemed easier, and Bismark didn’t seem to care about Nuremburg any more despite being the one to tell us to take it in the first place.

It wasn’t the best negotiation ever- I probably could have asked for more but I got a bit carried away with the role-play of wanting to finish fighting, so it was what it was. Still, we had our national objectives, and while we didn’t finish on the Main, we had already been there, over it, and back again several times during the course of the war. We owned that river.


And just like that – our war was over. Just after the armistice was agreed, Von Moltke strode over and grandly declared that there was an Armistice in place (I hadn’t told him about our cease-fire. He didn’t seem to care so I didn’t care to inform him), to which we replied “We know”.

The next turn, the whole thing was over – Austria admitted defeat.

I learned that our forces pretty much dominated in the East, breaking through to Vienna and occupying it against repeated Austrian attempts to retake the capital. I learned that our Italian allies pretty much got hung out to dry in the end, storming out of the peace talks and dying by the droves in the final phase of the game. I learned that despite all evidence to the contrary, our war was in fact very important as it was essentially a land-grab, which no-one really thought to inform us about, but there you go.

A few other notes to make:

  • Our King, William (played by Katie) did actually come to visit us during the game, and was actually there to witness one of our victories (I can’t remember which one). She personally gave us honour for that victory, which was pretty cool. Since I can’t remember the ‘when’ I couldn’t really fit it into the narrative, so I apologise. Thanks for stopping by!
  • Again, Von Roon’s support was key to our ultimate victory. His timely use of a reinforcement card replenished our forces in the aftermath of Düsseldorf, allowing us to march to victory at the Battle of the Burgs.

Game Feedback

Overall, I really enjoyed 1866. I enjoy the high-level strategy that Operational Megagames bring, but since it was my first I didn’t do a lot of ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking. The only time I did I nearly annoyed Bernie, but talking to Tom, our local control, after the game gave me a few ideas I wished I’d thought up at the time. Generally it was a very well put together experience, and there were a lot of neat rules and mechanics that facilitated the themes involved.

A few things stood out for me as not really working that well, however. I’ve spoken to Bernie already about a couple of these and he disagrees with me, but here they are anyway:

  • Movement – I felt the movement rules, while historically quite thematic, as a game mechanic they were open to exploitation a little bit. Withdrawing from a fight essentially gives you a free extra movement if you weren’t looking for a fight, as you could ‘bounce’ off an enemy army you made contact with, then still use your normal movement if you hadn’t gone yet. I’m not saying armies should be forced to fight, but I would have liked a couple of things to be a bit more ‘absolute’.

E.g., if an Army uses its movement running away from a fight, it can’t move again unless you ‘Force March’ it, negating the ‘free’ move you got from running away.

For road limits as well – passing a long a yellow road limits the amount of divisions you can move down them, as they are poorer roads. However, when I defeated a three corps army, they were allowed to bypass that rule simply because they were running away. They had to discard their ‘baggage train’, which only really ended up being a couple of cards, so I find this ruling allowed for too much inconsistency.

Bernie’s argument was that armies ran away far more effectively than they marched towards an enemy, which is fair, but from a design point of view I’ve never really gotten on with loopholes.

  • Battles – For the most part I really enjoyed the battle system. The cards, the formation lay out. The only thing for me was that the ‘supporting formation’ system seemed pointless in the end. This is probably a by-product of our theatre – neither side had enough units to really fill out the sheet, apart from in one fight. I imagine they got more use out of it on the Bohemia map. Several useful cards though specifically refer to support formations, which I could never use because my enemy never used them because they would rather fill out the leading formations as they did more damage.

I think defining the strengths and weaknesses between leading and support a bit more as to understand their various uses might be something that could be improved on, and also changing some cards (River Crossing was the main one I was disappointed in) so that they account for more scenarios and still retain their usefulness. The River Crossing card might as well not been in my draw deck.

  • Feedback – this is less to do with the design of the game and simply a reflection on my personal experience. We had clear national objectives to follow on our briefing, and then additional targets passed down from on high. The problem was though, despite achieving all of these and more, nothing was happening. We were told to knock Hannover out of the war early, but apart from taking Stade I wasn’t really given any clear indication as to how to do that. Neil, our Von Bismark, advised us to take Nuremburg to take Bavaria out of the war, but we owned it for a month and nothing happened (To be fair, I learned just before we gave it back that the ‘will’ of Bavaria was about to break, but it wasn’t useful information by then).

This lack of feedback to our success is what strove me to ask for the Armistice. I was genuinely getting a bit bored – we’d beaten the enemy soundly, but I knew I lacked the men to truly ‘crush’ them, and perhaps take them out for good. I foresaw me just chasing them around the map until the game ended, and that’s when it kind of stopped being a fun prospect from a gameplay point of view. I used to it fuel a bit of role-play which kept me entertained until the game finished.

I’m not sure what could have been done to change how things happened, the only idea I had was when I overheard the Austrians not really wanting to give up, despite losing soundly on both maps. Perhaps a more strongly defined sense of ‘losing’ and ‘winning’, to mitigate the impact of genuinely stubborn players?

Other than that though, it was a lot of fun. Many thanks to Bernie for designing a great game and thanks to everyone on my team for such a great time!

This is part two of a write up regarding my experience during the Megagame “1866 & All That”, for more details and to read Part One, please click here.

Army of Ghosts

With the majority of Federal forces concentrated to the south, we anticipated having to fight harder for Cassel than we did Stade. In fact, with our four divisions more or less surrounding Hannover, and the enemy NOT starting in Stade, we anticipated the Hanoverians trying to break through our lines and make a run for it. Initially we left them alone, instead consolidating two armies at Cassel to present a strong showing whilst we besieged it. Our division at Hamburg moved swiftly on Stade, and after the first operational phase our final division chased the Hanoverian army, which decided to go on a grand tour of western Prussia on its way south.

Information is power, and historically this war is infamous for having terrible intelligence. Things you would think are common sense weren’t really done back in those days by many, and this concept was represented in the game rather uniquely. All of the army units had to be put in marked boxes, with markers corresponding to those boxes being placed on the map. Boxes had to be on tables, and while you could get glimpses of what was inside, you couldn’t really see. What’s more, each team had a number of dummy formations to put in boxes in order to inflate what was really there.

These dummies would be discarded over time as armies came into contact with each other, something that proved useful to us. It became obvious quite quickly that our opponents were opting for a defensive strategy. With the Hanoverians fleeing south, we decided to be more aggressive and chase them down. Good thing we did, as we quickly discovered that the army we were chasing didn’t exist – it was made up entirely of dummies.

This wasn’t something I thought of doing at the time, admittedly. Kind of blew my mind, but there were logistical restraints on my end – I literally didn’t have enough boxes to do anything like that.

If that wasn’t surprising enough, over the next couple of turns we would learn that a second formation was entirely fictional as well – something I thought was good as it mean’t we weren’t wasting time chasing false leads, although if I’d stopped to think about it I would have come to an obvious conclusion.

The armies we were supposed to stop from massing together had in fact already massed together. From day one.

Too bad we learned that the hard way.

Lines in the Sand

We took Stade and Cassel quite early – Stade was done as a trade-off. The enemy quite quickly moved on one of our fortresses to the south, which we knew we’d lose as I wasn’t prepared to commit the troops to defending it at the beginning of the game. We gave them the fortress they were besieging, they gave us the one we were besieging, and the garrisons were allowed to walk out without being molested to re-join their armies. All very gentlemanly (this was a big thing in the game; 1866 was seen as a war between brothers and wasn’t really ‘cruel’ as later wars would become, and acting honourably and fair got you mad props).

This was probably the only point of the game where we found ourselves slightly out of position. With the Hanoverian army proving fake, we marched a division south to take Nuremberg under orders from Von Bismark. The various cabinet members would take turns coming to visit us as the game wore on. Some were more useful to us than others, but generally we were left to our own devices.

The federal forces were gradually all shifting west and north through the mountainous terrain of Nassau, and up through Cologne/Bonn. It was clear that they were probably going to try and take Düsseldorf, and we weren’t in a position to defend it. Thanks to the timely intervention of Von Roon, we managed to scramble a division of ‘Prussian Allied’ forces to defend the fort in a delaying action while we hurriedly moved our divisions west.

These units were incredibly small and weak, and our they were quickly defeated. Düsseldorf was taken in short order, but it took them an extra phase and that was all we needed to get our army into position. Our ally’s sacrifice was not in vein.

We were formulating our next move when Von Moltke strode over rather miffed and asked me “What’s at Düsseldorf?”.

“A fort,” I replied.

“We need it back. The Austrians won’t negotiate because they control it. It’s a national objective. Take it back.”

Well OF COURSE it was. Back to work, then.

Learning the Hard Way

My memory was a little bit fuzzy in terms of battles fought during the game, but I don’t remember there being many in those early turns. We’d spent most of that time taking forts and chasing down ghost formations. We lost a battle at Düsseldorf, obviously, and we’d lose a few more over the course of the war. On balance, we won more though, and generally dominated the field – I definitely remember us winning a fight early on as we chased the enemy through the mountains of Nassau, prior to Düsseldorf.

But first, there was a hard lesson to be learned. See, what I’d epically failed to appreciate was that, if half of the enemy formations were dummy, that meant what forces they had would be concentrated in what was left. Our worst defeat of the day was probably when two of our divisions faced off against the whole enemy army – I can’t remember where they were, probably at Düsseldorf or Hagen – to find out we were facing FIVE corps worth of enemy. Our troops are good, but they’re not that good – we were vastly outnumbered and out gunned.

We lost that one as well, obviously, and came out of it severely bloodied but in one piece. We also managed to surround the enemy at Düsseldorf. Before we could rush in, they decided to break out of their own and retreat south. We lost one battle that allowed them to break out, but there were a few fights around that fort, and I honestly can’t remember it all in much detail now. We won some, we lost some.

Still, the end result was that we took Düsseldorf back, just like we were ordered to. What good soldiers we were.

Will to Fight

We had been fighting pretty much non-stop for weeks on end, mainly relying on support from Von Roon to keep us going. I did manage to brow beat Von Moltke into giving us more artillery, since the war in the east seemed to be going exceptionally well at that point so they could spare the reserves. Generally, we were winning.

And yet…

We had re-taken Dusseldorf like we were supposed to. We had taken Cassel and Stade like we were supposed to, and Nuremburg had been in our possession for nearly a month. We had been to the Main and back again, and generally we were dominating Western Germany– yet nobody seemed to care. Our enemies, despite their material and political losses, were still on the field. Our political masters were not only vaguely ignoring us, but they were also epically failing at using anything we’d done as leverage to come to any kind of agreement with the federal states.

Despite the fact that they had massed their troops early and were able to bring 5 corps to bear against us quite consistently by now, we weren’t worried – We were strong, and we knew we could beat them.

It was the Battle of the Burgs that did it, that finally broke my will to fight.

Please continue to Part Three.

Or: To the Maine and Back: A Tour of the Federal German States, as written by the Prussian Army of the Main.

Since the only thing I seem to be able to blog about these days are the megagames I end up doing, it’s of no surprise then that I’m here to talk to you about another Megagame – “1866 And All That”.

Another personal first, this was an ‘Operational’ level mega game. You could almost call it a war game, in the sense that the majority of the experience revolved around high-level strategy and war plans, with an added political dimension to give everything some character. Having only have done Watch the Skies and Come to a King before this, it took me a while to get into the swing of things as this was more rules focused, although wargame are generally my thing, so it was enjoyable.

I’d just like to thank Bernie Ganley and his team for putting on the show, with specific shout outs to my brother-in-arms and Best No.2 Ever Carl Waltenberg, my excellent local control Tom Hayllar, and finally our gracious and glorious Kaiser, Katie Anne Goatley.

As with all of my write ups, I may embellish, exaggerate, or otherwise make up minor details in order to supply a more entertaining narrative. The actual details of the day though in terms of actions taken, conversations had, and my own interpretation on events, are for the most part as true as I can remember them. Case and point – I will be hamming up slightly the idea that the rest of my team didn’t really care about what I was doing.

The Main Army

The year was 1866, and war was in the air. I had no name, no fancy title, but I did have a job to do – take control of a rag-tag army of leftovers and forgotten relatives, and teach the federal nation-states of West Germany that siding with Austria really wasn’t the best idea.

With me was my trusty number two, Operations Officer Carl “May Actually Be a German” Waltenberg. We were supposed to have a Chief-of-Staff, but in what soon seemed to become a theme for the grand ‘Army of the Main’ it seems high command had forgotten to send us one. Still, we made do, and it was hard to miss something we ultimately didn’t need.

The Army of the Main’s job was in its name – we were to push the enemy beyond this line, a river that ran along southern Germany, so that Prussia would rule undisputed from Hamburg to Frankfurt. In conjunction, we were to take Hannover out of the war early by taking their Fortress ‘Stade’, and then capture the fortress at ‘Cassel’ in order to secure a base and a safe supply route for the eastern and western halves of Prussian territory in this theatre. From there, we would drive the enemy south across the Main.

There was a lot of pressure assigned to the war I was trying to fight- not only did I have to show dominance on the field and try and knock the individual states out of the war as early as possible, I had to do it without causing too much damage or humiliation. On top that that, minor details like Great Britain potentially coming over to bitch-slap me if they thought I was being too mean to Hannover, and the fact that France’s million-strong army was RIGHT THERE, were also at the back of my mind. As far as high command was concerned though, everything would be fine as long as I did what I was told.

This lack of feedback from my superiors would go on to frame my entire campaign, although that’s not to say we weren’t without support. During the main briefing at the start of the day, all focus was in the east where a gigantic clash with Austria was about to take place. So much so that no-one even bothered to bring a map of my operating area. I had to supply my own and quickly go over my plans and concerns, which prompted the only response I would ever get all day – “you’ll be fine, don’t worry”.

I was lucky enough to get four divisions assigned to me (considering historically my army only got three), along with some cavalry and artillery. In what turned out to be a blessing in disguise, the dropping out of nine Prussian players prior to the event meant that our Army of the Elbe play team was deleted, thus meaning there was one less army with which to share resources amongst.

No Strategy without Movement

Our opening strategy was simple enough – divide, conquer, and claim the national objectives as quickly as possible, and let the politicians sort the rest of it out. Rush Stade, Rush Cassel, and stop the federal forces joining up and crushing us. We’d fill in the rest as we went, hopefully getting further instructions from on high as the war progressed.

A Prussian division, whilst smaller than the other German ‘Corps’ units, nevertheless had superior firearms & training. In gameplay terms this basically meant our troops could take more hits without breaking, and we had some excellent ‘tactical’ cards we could deploy as well. The only area we lacked in was artillery, but we made do with what we had. Our force was split it up into four mobile formations each with just one division in it, inflated with dummy units to make it seem bigger than it was. The danger here was that a division could get caught out and annihilated, but the rewards outweighed the risk.

As the whistle blew at 11:30, everyone sprang into action. We faced deployments in Hannover itself, with several more to the south along the Main, but no-one near the fortresses that were our objectives, and no-one we’d have to fight immediately other than the Hanoverians. It was a better starting position than I could have hoped for, and we would show the enemy our might.

With any luck Hannover would be out of the war within the week, and we’d be in a strong position to drive the rest south of the River.

If only we knew.

Please continue to Part Two.

This is an After-Action-Report on my experience at the Watch The Skies 4: Global Apocalypse Mega-game. I’ve talked about Megagames and what they are before, so if you’re curious please refer to the linked articles in Part One. This is a very narrow account on how I experienced the game, and so a lot of details are missing – apologies, I find it helps the narrative when I write this way. Please do check out the ‘Megagames Makers’ Facebook page for other accounts on what happened during the day.


I put everything in motion turn 7 or 8, and I yelled to our leader ‘Yo homes smell ya later!’

I looked at my kingdom, I was finally there, to sit on my throne as the DAFT Prince of Kenya(ir)

The Plan

With no real contact with any other DAFTers, and with no counter-ideas to the plan I’d come up with, the rest of my time was pretty much taken up with trying to make a Red Mercury Bomb in time for my coup around Turn 8. For that, I found out I needed an actual Nuke card, something that proved almost impossible to get.

Gavin, despite being the WORST secret deputy ever, did manage to get a lot of funding for me and was a real trooper in trying to get a Nuke, especially with the Chinese. In a past life the Chinese President and I had been best bros, so I was admittedly playing on an OOC relationship to get what I wanted. It didn’t work, but to his credit Matt didn’t rat me in, which I appreciated. Gavin had no such luck either.

Surprisingly, it was the South African guy who followed through spectacularly.

By Turn 8, I had no working nuclear device, but I had a note signed by control stating that I had bits and pieces that represented 30% of a device. I also had Red Mercury, and a captured GMIC NPC scientist who hadn’t been doing anything all game. So I decided to take a page out of Zimbabwe’s book. I bluffed.

Keeping control informed of my idea, I created a facsimile of a Red Mercury Bomb. I figured no-one would really know what one looked like anyway.

Meanwhile, I’d kept my South African DAFTatron informed of my goings on. He knew I needed a nuke. I’d tried a couple of turns earlier to get one out of North Korea, as they were going through a lot of political upheaval and turmoil – I failed and only got the 30%. I did get to witness the rise of Cthulhu while I was there though.

Turns out the SA guy, with the help of the Venezuelan chapter of DAFTpunk, managed to extract one. Legends! A Venezuelan SIF was on its way to Kenya to transport the nuke, so we could actually back up our threats.

Centre Stage

Even though my SA DAFTest contact had come through, I couldn’t wait for the nuke to arrive. Knowing what I know about WTS, turn 9 was likely going to be the last turn, and it was Turn 8. I had to act now if there was any chance of seeing any of it through. I’d learned by this point that there may be other plans in place, but I figured I could at least draw attention to myself to help my brothers-in-arms launch their own initiative.

Turn 8 came around, and Gavin looked at me. It was time – I took the two assassination cards I’d been ‘looking after’ on behalf of my government, and then killed my President and the Foreign Minister. The army then took control of the country and DAFT flags were flown everywhere. I deployed everything as a show of force and to stand a remote chance of defending against the back-lash. Control were informed.

During all this, the Nigerian General asked me what was going on in Kenya. I replied: “There is no Kenya any-more”.

My moment of triumph achieved, I was allowed to go up on stage (Thanks Jim) and declare DAFT and our intentions to the world. DAFT was here, it was real, and we would make the world feel our power.

Then I died.

The End of All Things

So yeah – not even a second after finishing my speech, an American player stepped up and assassinated me. I was a little peeved but I had accepted this probably would happen. I just thought I’d be allowed to return to my table first.

If I’d really thought about it, I’d have challenged the action with control – technically my announced was made from inside Kenya, and having just staged a coup I would have been surrounded by soldiers and several layers of protection. It’s highly unlikely someone could have just walked up and killed me in such circumstances. You know what they say about hindsight though.

With the President and Foreign Minister away taking a walk as part of them being killed, and with me about to join them, I grabbed my secret deputy. He was in charge, along with Joyce, our only other surviving team member.

Meanwhile, the Venezuelan’s were trying to deliver the nuke to loyal DAFT forces. With me dead though, some of the loyalist Kenyans fought back and shot at the plane, causing them to drop the nuke… right over Nairobi. The city, our science facility, the captured scientist who hadn’t done anything all game… all consumed in a fiery ball of death, thanks to a really unfortunate case of butter fingers.

All this I learned much later though. When my victims and I returned, all we knew was that my Secret Deputy had turned traitor and denounced DAFT – causing the regime to instantly collapse. We knew Nairobi had been nuked by an unknown party, and we spent the last turn trying to rebuild our shattered nation.

Gavin had taken the role of President, and used his time to out and arrest the Senior Ambassador for South Africa. The Angolan DAFT member was assassinated not long after I was, and globally DAFT members were being hunted down and executed, from what I understood. The game ended on Turn 9 (I was hoping we’d get to 10 this time, since it was the last WTS), and that was that.

Final Thoughts

DAFT had made its presence felt, and I liked to think we made the world tremble, even if the glorious DAFT revolution was un-done in a few minutes. I’m not sure how well we achieved our aims, but the President of America was eventually assassinated, despite surviving four attempts on his life, as had been the Grand Mufti and the Pope by the end of the game. The Pope was killed in South Africa, by the SA Daft member, during the African games that SA was hosting.

On the other fronts, apart from kidnapping a GMIC scientist, I’m not we had much of an impact on the Corporation game. I’m not even certain they were told one of their NPC’s had been taken. The thing was, I needed them to sell me weapons first for my coup, so I wasn’t really in a position to do much to them.

According to our super-secret DAFT handbooks, our measure of success was determined by how hard the World governments worked to try and supress us.

I was assassinated, so I’m pretty sure that means I win, right?

Long Live DAFT!

Some Amusing Moments from the Game:

  • When Africa was quarantined, one of the UK Generals came over with one navy unit and said he was here to “Blocked” Africa. This was hilarious for many reasons because A: He was trying to blockade an entire continent with one navy piece. B – by coming over to the Africa Map, Control were seriously considering trapping him there because he was now infected. I think they let him go in the end.
  • In the last turn, after our newly appointed former-DAFT President ousted the SA Ambassador and got him arrested, I was tasked with going to the press to declare that Kenya had Saved The World. I turned up at their desk to discover they had relocated to space.
  • Sending Kenyan forces to retrieve some Alien Tech while also sending my own DAFT agent to retrieve it. No one asked in the end, but my story was that someone from something called ‘DAFT’ stole the tech from under me. Yes, I stole something from myself to give to me.
  • Whilst we’re here – the whole process of having to secretly do DAFT-things through Control was both tense and hilarious. My secret-backhand shake got really good by the end of the game.
  • The look of joy and relief on some of the cetacean’s player’s faces when they found out we could talk to them because we had Dat Card.
  • Having bought a Level 3 SIF from GMIC, only to discover later my Foreign Minister had sold it to the Chinese, and having to go buy it back. I needed it go steal a nuke, dammit!
  • Watching Cthulhu rise from the deep. What was more amusing was a great alien battleship skidding into orbit and only doing 4 damage with its death lasers.


This is an After-Action-Report on my experience at the Watch The Skies 4: Global Apocalypse Mega-game. I’ve talked about Megagames and what they are before, so if you’re curious please refer to the linked articles below. This is a very narrow account on how I experienced the game, and so a lot of details are missing – apologies, I find it helps the narrative when I write this way. Please do check out the ‘Megagames Makers’ Facebook page for other accounts on what happened during the day.


Now this is a story all about how my game got flipped-turned upside, and I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became the Daft Prince of Kenya(ir).

I woke up on March 19th, 202whateveritwas from a bad dream. In that dream I thought I was the Chief of Defence for Nigeria and that I’d just spent countless months cleaning up poo. I’d been having a lot of dreams like that recently – one where I was the Chancellor for Germany, and another where I was a Viking.

As the Chief of Defence for the glorious nation in Kenya, I did find it odd that I was having dreams of being other people, but having talked to my local shaman about it he put it down to after-images from a past life. My wife thought it was probably just stress.

We were dealing with a lot of things at the time – Aliens had been a thing for quite a few years now, and they kept trying to strip-mine Africa. We’d also recently discovered the existence of sentient whales and dolphins, and had been having tentative communications with them about Fish and cleaning the oceans. As a nation that lacked anything that resembled a navy, you can probably guess how well those early talks went.

As Chief of Defence, I was tasked with making sure our glorious army – all 1 militia unit of it – was in tip top shape and ready to deal with any crises, the first of which was that Zimbabwe was apparently building nukes. After a quick con-fab between the rest of the Kenyan government, we decided that we actually really wanted those nukes for ourselves to make up for our lack of basically everything.

At the same time, I’d discovered that the corporations had perfected the weapons manufacturing process to such a degree that not only were they able to upgrade my army, but expand it as well. In my past lives as a German and a Nigerian, I distinctly remember being forced to deal with the fact that a nation’s army couldn’t be expanded. It could be upgraded, but you weren’t physically able to build any more regular units. Unless you’re awesome like me, that is.

So, you can imagine how happy I was at this new marvel in corporate manufacturing. I ordered two, plus two upgrades. Kenya was going to get all the guns.

It was at this point, around about Turn 2 (in Kenya we mark the passage of time in ‘Turns’ rather than days, weeks or months. It’s more efficient), that I got the call.

DAFT beyond measure                    

You see, there was more to me than apparently even I knew. I was a member of DAFT – Democracy and Freedom Today – an organisation dedicated to the destruction of corporations, the dismantling of America, and the curbing of oppressive organised religion. I was being activated – there were others like me, but I didn’t know who they were. All I knew was that “living the dream” was the code-phrase used to identify ourselves.

This. Changed. EVERYTHING.

Well not really – as a team, we’d already decided to walk a bit on the wild side and be a dark horse in Africa. I was now just going to be an even darker, more secret horse. I immediately set two aims for myself:

  • To launch a military coup in Kenya and declare DAFT to the world.
  • Get a nuke so that people took me seriously.

I thought Zimbabwe having a nuclear program was going to make the second point easier than it actually turned out to be. Turns out they didn’t actually have a nuclear program and were just trolling everyone – typical.

Still, a military coup was very doable – As I grew the army, I bribed the **** out of them to make sure they were personally loyal to me. We had an empty, state-of-the-art research facility in Nairobi that no one was using (as we didn’t have a scientist), so I kidnapped an NPC GMIC scientist (who I was using to expanded and upgrade said army), to work at that facility. Early in my time as a DAFT agent I recovered some Red Mercury from the aliens. I didn’t tell anyone about it and my vague plan was to make a Red Mercury powered weapon. That sounded scary, right?

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

Normally in a game like this funding become a problem. As one of the poorer African nations, we only got so much money in a turn, and I could only steal so much of it without anyone noticing (turns out that amount was a lot more than I probably should have been able to get away with). As a DAFT member though, I could claim 1 megabuck per 10 points in the regional terror track. I don’t know if anyone outside of Africa was paying attention, but it got pretty terror-fying over there. Suffice to say I was making it rain.

It was touch and go though – my plans took me away from the African map a lot – a lot more than I’d ever had to do in any of the previous games I’d played, and a lot more than a Chief of Defence with no back-up (one of our guys got sick and couldn’t make it) really should. The thing was, whilst I revelled in the terror and tried not to help or hinder the situation, I was worried at some point that it would all go horribly wrong and my country would collapse around me before I could do anything.

After Zimbabwe, Uganda kicked up a fuss and raised an army right on our border, which If I’d thought about it I probably should have been more concerned about – the U.N. sorted it though, since they were actually being useful for a change.

After that, there was a Zombie Virus out-break that Africa, collectively, hilariously failed to deal with. So much so it pretty much spread across the entire continent, spawning countless hordes and forcing Africa to be quarantined. South-Africa developed a cure early, but didn’t seem to do much to it other then sell-it to the player nations, including us. I was away from the map for a lot of this, although I had the presence of mind to mobilise the army to defend Kenya’s borders. I understand the Egyptians, Algerians and some Europeans did most of the zombie fighting.

There was also that one turn where literally every alien ever descended onto Africa, and no-one intercepted them. I didn’t because I was DAFT, but I don’t know what everyone else’s excuses were.

One big happy, anonymous family

It took me a while to figure out who the other DAFT Members were. As a military player in a game the size of WTS4 (and playing the nation that I was), I didn’t get a lot of opportunities to visit the other map. Early on in my DAFTness I recruited my friend who was in my team, Gavin, to the cause. It was his first game and he was feeling a bit directionless in his role, so I broke the rules and included him in my plot – sorry Jim/Viji!

Not long after though I discovered the Senior Ambassador for South Africa was also “living the dream”. We quickly started combo-ing our agent actions, and through him I found out that the United State’s team’s Ambassador for Africa was also a DAFT member. He was a weird one – I always got the impression through-out the whole game he never trusted me (having asked him about it afterwards, Ken said that he had this vague idea I may not have been DAFT. I was, but now that I think about it I never showed him my passport) – he wouldn’t talk openly with me about his plans, and whenever I would tell the SA guy something, he’d run off and tell the American and I was genuinely worried for most of the game that I was setting myself up for a big fail.

Apart from us four musketeers though, I didn’t encounter any other DAFT players. Apparently a big group of them met around turn 5 (including the SA player), but no-one told me about it. Not even Gavin! You really can’t get the staff.

Just before I made my coup, I found out one of the Angolan military players was also DAFT, but it was a bit late by then.

More to come in Part Two!


This is the third part in my report of the Come to a King Megagame. For more information, please read Part One.

The Spoils (or not) of War

Prince Owen and I returned as heroes from our foray to Ireland. Knowledge of how we were paid to leave, and the vast untapped richness of the land (the Civil Wars mainly ravaged the south eastern parts from what we heard) quickly spread across Scotland. Jarl not-Sigurd the Second was finally ready and eager to join in our grand enterprise. Even Lord Finlay of Moray was eager to get stuck in to something… it seems I was having a bad influence on my neighbours.

Only the Scottish Abbot opposed our venture, but only because he was generally against Christians attacking other Christians, and even then he did nothing to prevent our plans – he only stayed at home with the King. He did suggest we join in what was turning into a grand ruckuss down in Southern England, but I scoffed at the idea.

“You may know the ways of the Gods,” I said. “But I know the ways of War – you go where everyone ISN’T. And there’s no one in Ireland to defend their lands.”

No one except women and men in skirts, that is.

The King gave his blessing, troops were raised and ships were built. I once again tried to enlist the help of my compatriots in the Irish Sea, but they were committed. Wales would be theirs, or they would see it and the thrice cursed ‘King’ of South Wales burn. There was no-one else to ask.

Planning our actions and coordinating closely with the controls of both the Scottish and Ireland maps, our grand armada of six ships set sail. We were four Lords of War, A Viking, some Scots and a Welshman. It would be a glorious venture indeed!

We had 12 units in all for our invasion of Ireland – hardly a Great Army, but large enough considering there was still no-one at home. Just before we set-sail we learned that the High King of Ireland was slain in a duel, which would cause turmoil in the country. It was surely a sign from the Gods. We landed in Ulster, and were met by some local levies that had been raised that year to deter further raids, as well as another force raised by the same Bishop as last time.

(Jevan tried to convert me both times I was in Ireland. I admired his determination, if not his religion.)

We were asked if we would accept more money to go away, and we said we each wanted three gold.  There were four of us.

They said no.

Sadly, the invasion of Ireland ultimately achieved nothing. There’s no real way to narrate this – a combination of several things I don’t really want to get into right now hampered what we wanted to do. It was the only part of the day where I felt genuinely disappointed. We didn’t manage to seize any lands, didn’t get any money… we saw off the levies, but that was about it and we didn’t get anything from that either.

By this point the Lords of Ireland were retreating from England. Word of our invasion had spread, and with their leader dead there was no point in remaining in Wessex – they were coming home, and they were angry. With our own levies returning home and feeling disillusioned by our lack of success, we returned to our ships and sailed back to Scotland.

As it happened, the Queen who paid us off the first time rose to become High Queen and managed to keep the various Irish Lords in-line – she saw our return as a vile betrayal and swore bloody vengeance upon us. We planned our next move, not really knowing where to go at this point, (maybe we would go to England after all?) but we also had to consider a counter-invasion by Ireland.

Ultimately, we never found out what would happen, as the world ended at the end of the council phase that turn. Ragnarok was here.

I never did find a good women.

End of Part Three | Read Part OneRead Part Two


And that, in a nut shell, was the epic saga of Jarl Gilli.

There are probably plenty of things I forgot about or miss-remembered, but the above represents the core narrative of how my day went. As mentioned right at the beginning, it also lacks a lot of context as to what was happening in the wider game, since there was a lot I just never interacted with.

I felt very much a fringe character, on the periphery of a game not really meant for the general idea Gilli represented. This was a game of Kings, and of people who could be useful in the great ‘Game of Thrones’ (sorry). I didn’t really feel like either.

Jarl Gilli had fairly poor stats and low fame, and with few ways to boost any of it I was always destined to be a footnote. Personally organising and leading the invasion of Ireland was about as good as it got, but that was me as a person as opposed to Jarl Gilli as a game element, and despite everything I ended the game with the same stats I started with, albeit richer.

I had a great time though – as mentioned above, there was only one instance where I was genuinely disappointed. The rest of the time I didn’t feel like I was wasting my actions, or not accomplishing things I wanted to do… even when I wasn’t sure what it was I was even striving for (which happened a lot).

My first raid into Ireland was probably the highlight of my day: Turn up, Get Paid to Leave. Looking at the game-rules as presented, there was no way to come away with four gold from just a single action given the circumstances. A huge success in my books, and I hope the real Jar Gilli would have been proud.

Some other primary thoughts:

Province/Land ownership was weird.

There seemed to be no mechanism to exert influence over lands not controlled by you directly in terms of resources and manpower. For example, If I had been made Lord of Argyll without seizing the other Land, I still couldn’t have raised troops or collected taxes from the other man.

(If this wasn’t the case then it was a miscommunication applied across several maps, as far as I was aware.)

The point is best presented by looking at my friend’s situation. As the Prince of the Sub-Kingdom of Strathclyde, he was technically a power unto himself on the Scottish map. And yet he still had to spend early turns physically seizing and taking possession over everything within Strathclyde to reap the full benefits of the province.

I also personally disliked the rule that you had to be physically in a province to tax it, as it meant owning land was pointless in general. You had to own the RIGHT province (so one with at least 2/3 Lands and a Town), and once you had that it didn’t really matter what else you owned. Even owning two like that seemed kind of inefficient because you’d have to spend actions repeating tasks in the other province. I witnessed an instance like this where Tim had to do a Tax action in Orkney, and then a Tax action in Caithness, even though they are just across from each other on the same map.

It gave considerable advantage to players who owned such desirable provinces, and mean’t anyone who didn’t was off to a slow start. I didn’t really mind not being able to do something on another map entirely though – that at least made some sense.

This makes me uncomfortable, but I feel some controls were definitely better than others on the day.

I respect each and every one of them for donating their time, and their patience in dealing with all of us and acting as GM’s. To be clear, I had positive dealings with every control I talked to, and everyone heard me out when I wanted to propose something and ruled fairly, in my mind.

However, local controls also tend to interpret and enforce the rules differently, and in different ways (which I’m not questioning their right to either). In this specific game though those fluctuations had a far greater impact on things than I’ve ever experienced before. I’m sorry to say, some seemed to do this better than others.

I never went to/organised a single feast.

They were costly, and only one person generally got the benefit so it was hard to justify said cost. That left them being used as one of two primary platforms for assassinating another character – which meant nobody wanted to actually go to a feast ever. Even when the King of Alba married his daughter to the newly crowned King of Northumbria, no feast was held because nobody wanted a Red Wedding.

I understand there was actually a Red Wedding elsewhere in the game, so my viewpoint is by no means universal, but most of the people I interacted with certainly were wary of holding feasts. Brodir of Mann went to a feast designed to betray the King of South Wales, who (surprisingly) didn’t turn up. It just felt to me it was a bit too obvious what would happen if you went to a feast.

It would have been nice if Raiding were a mechanically supported concept.

For fringe characters like myself, all we really do is get swept up in greater events or try and make a nuisance of ourselves. For a Norse character especially, the ability to ‘Raid’ should have been a thing that was easier to accomplish. As it was, our invasion of Ireland was working on the plan of seizing lands, and then taxing the crap out of it for maximum profit, and then leaving/moving on. It was the only way I could think of representing a ‘Raid’ within the rules as written.

I realise I had a conversation with Andrew regarding this on Facebook prior to the event, so I know why the game was set up the way it was. I imagine I wouldn’t even be making this point were I a King in Ireland, or a Saxon Lord in the South of England.

As I’ve alluded to above, I feel the main meat and potatoes of Come to a King wasn’t really meant for someone like Jarl Gilli. I really enjoyed playing as him, and I had a blast working within the rules to be an unruly, troublesome Irish Sea Viking and I accomplished everything I wanted to (although not, as it turns out, anything my briefing suggested I should work towards. I didn’t even get married!).

Thank you again to Andrew for putting on this game, and I hope you don’t take offence to my criticisms. I would definitely play again – I would personally like to see a few things fine-tuned, is all (or maybe play as someone more grounded in the setting, for contrast).