Wednesday 10 March 2021

It Suffices

 I have been asked for my thoughts so far on 'Vauban's Wars'. Well, I don't like to sit on the fence, and so I am going to come right out and say that they seem "perfectly acceptable".

I shall certainly be exploring the rules further and am currently considering what I might make or paint next to facilitate this: a couple more siege guns for sure and, assuming that access to the laser cutter won't be long in resuming, some ravelines. Because, apart from anything else, I am grateful to these rules for keeping me occupied during lockdown and providing a route for me to try out resin casting. That context has undoubtedly provided a halo effect and made me feel warmer about them; on top of which, even if I say so myself, it all looked pretty good.

Nobody games sieges because...well, because they go on a long time and nothing much happens. So it is to the great credit of Eric Burgess that he has managed to develop a set of rules which extract the action from the tedium and, by moving things along fairly quickly, make it playable. Every turn represents a few days and the results of each are effectively a summation of all the digging, firing, moving about etc done during those days. Issues such as supplies of food and powder, weather, desertion, disease etc are dealt with, but at a level of abstraction that doesn't overwhelm everything else. It's a bit like a campaign fought out on a tabletop, a concept I'd never really thought about before; although if someone were to tell me that Donald Featherstone had written a book on the subject I wouldn't be that surprised.

 I enjoyed my solo run through, in which the balance between garrison and besieger tipped a few times backwards and forwards. The caveats mentioned in previous posts still apply, in particular this is all my interpretation of what is meant and how it should work. I believe that the author runs a Facebook group on the rules, but I don't have a Facebook account so that hasn't been of any help to me.

I do have one or two observations that I would be looking to confirm or otherwise in subsequent games:

  • The defender's role seems a bit reactive.
  • Many of the swings in fortune mentioned above stemmed from things other than the actions of either side; I like a random event as much as the next man, but you don't want the entire game determined by them.
  • The rules for sorties and assaults are limited and, while we never had either in my try out, my wargamer's common sense (shut up!) tells me they wouldn't work very well.
  • Some of the points and strengths ascribed to unit types - Coehorn mortars for example - look a bit odd. 
So, to sum up: passed the time perfectly pleasantly, and would seem likely to provide a sound base for the tweaks and house rules which will inevitably emerge in due course.


  1. Thanks for that overview. I’ve been thinking about getting the rules but I have so much unfinished stuff at the moment and I won’t have a place I can leave a fortress up for days on end for several months.

    Until then I’ll continue to act like a true man of the period and quietly observe the enemy and see what develops.

  2. Good summary - one thing I thought was perhaps the defender gets to do too much. I understand your point that its not much of a game for a defending player if its not a solo game, but in reality, its my impression most besieged forces simply waited it out, hoping for a relief column to appear over the horizon, and occasionally shelling the besiegers. Sallies out in the dark of night to assault the advancing saps were pretty rare I think?