The first megagame, and still for some the benchmark of insanity! If you have ever tried to get more than about 6 friends to play a game at the same place and the same time, then have some sympathy trying to get 50 plus blokes to turn up to a holiday camp in Cornwall in the middle of winter to play a game using a rule system that maybe 60% had a working knowledge of.
Even now the months of discussion over the Orbat (orders of battle) with some members if the German command team still bring me out in shivers. The fact that I had bespoke terrain made (some 840sq ft of it) and a quarter of it was going to be delivered at the start of the game did not help my nerves! The Russian C-in-C said he could not attend with only days to go, and the player who took over missed most of the first day. Apart from that all went well until we got there.
In the summer the camp looked fine, nice and warm, full of holiday makers. In the winter oddly enough, it was bloody cold, every room was damp, and the heating system for each chalet seemed to be rigged so that a £5 power card lasted for about 30 minutes at best.
The only option was to stay in the main hall, Wargame, eat and drink. And essentially that is what the guys did. We used the Spearhead system with a few amendments, and somehow muddled through, with some great vignette games in amongst the carnage of the Russian defence and the ruthless German advance. I stood in as the 6th Army commander and had a really good time despite eventually having my own army command platoon headhunted by 3 panthers.
Part of the layout of the room allowed for the Russians to hold the high ground toward Prokhorovka, and for four days three players concealed the bulk of the Russian armour ready for the counter attack against the German forces that had broken through to the fifth set of tables, (each table being 6ft deep). The Russian army had stood and fought without the benefit of these Tank Corps in order that a mass counter punch could be unleashed. On the fifth day the Russian counter- offensive began. 4 days of waiting, 4 days of suffering, and the counter offensive all went badly wrong in 3 turns and was defeated in 6 turns at best. Welcome to the world of the megagame.
So if the first year was not a barmy enough idea, lets do it all again. Except this time it’s D-day, so that means 45 ft of bespoke beach terrain. I’ve included a couple of pics of the British section of beach here, one with the ‘attack arrows on’ and one without.
What still makes this game stand out for me is that not only did we want to play the landings in the British and most of the American sector (we did not include Utah as there was a limit to the space) but we wanted to include the breakout too. So the logical conclusion at the time was.. play for 2 weeks. And that is what some guys did. A 2 week wargame…Fab
Of course this time the problems with the chalets would be sorted as the camp was under new ownership. Sadly that proved to be anything but. The food was worse, not helped by a food venue which was flooded at high tide, as the place earned the nickname Millendamp. Again the only option was Wargame, eat, drink. And again some great games came out of the experience. These included an American flanking attack to take a hill which 5 days later became a 2 Division offensive, just to take the same hill. The original plan had seen it being skirted as I recall. I had the happy experience of being hit by Naval templates from my own side and then a full RAF bomber strike at the start of the second week. Perhaps they were trying to tell me something. Somewhere during that game a attempted to ‘kill’ a plucky German platoon racing across Pegagus bridge. 23 attacks needed just 4 or more with any one hit. 23 attacks with no higher than 3 on a D6. What are the odds. High it seems, ridiculously high.
After D-day every new megagame seemed easier because they only lasted a week. I’ve never been so mentally tired. I always felt sorry for the players who turned up in week 2. The ‘veterans’ from week one barely had the energy to speak to them.
D-day was a turning point. After this we looked at producing our own rules set, and finding a new warm venue.
Millendamp closed later that year. Environmental health could well have been involved.