Play the Map!

Actual historical map of Manassas Junction.
Pub Battles “game board,” the actual Manassas scenario map!

Ever since I had first started playing wargames (starting with Tactics II in the early seventies) I had this dream of sitting around an oaken table, in a high back leathern chair, situated in a grand library, with a crackling fireplace. Before me would be a map, with blocks for the army units.

This is Pub Battles. In my imagination; I’m in the command tent sending out orders (moving my units) and receiving reports (resolving combat). The chit draw simulates the success, or failure, of my officers to carry out my desires, along with any number of an incalculable happenstances that may thwart or augment my plans. All this from a system that is Boom Simple!

I would look at military atlases that had maps like the one above, and despair that I couldn’t play a game that looked like that. When I looked through the available games, the gameboard was always covered with all sorts of “game” information. I am an avid wargamer, and I have always enjoyed hex and counter wargames, and took it as granted that a game would need all sorts of game information on the mapboard. I had shelved my fantasy of simply playing on a map.

I have also enjoyed miniatures, they’re great, both the rules and the aesthetic of 3D troops and terrain. I did tire of spending much more time painting figures, than I ever did playing the game. The hours painting/playing ratio finally drove me to distraction. And it took up so much space, both storing and playing. All the while, there was still that nagging desire to just “Play the Map.”

Then one day I saw a game simulating the battle of Brandywine. This game was played on a canvas map with wooden blocks. I was so excited, I had to have it. I didn’t even care about the rules. I would make it work. It looked exactly like what I had been dreaming about all these years.

When I got the game, I was amazed at how beautiful it was. This is a little surprising, since my expectations were so high. Then I read the rules, and they were boom simple. Like many simple games, if they are done right, the challenge is in the strategy. It did take me awhile to wrap my head around the Pub Battles system, I had a lot of baggage from other systems that I had to unlearn before I could truly see and appreciate the rules. Here is my post for veteran gamers who may be having the same experience.

Once I figured out how boom simple it was, I have had a game of it setup and playing almost constantly (over seven years)! Yeah, I’m that guy.

Published by

Mr. Q

I semi-retired at 47. I suffered a sever brain injury at 25. I have written 3 books about living with brain injury and have had a regular column in the Brain Injury Alliance of MN's quarterly mag since 1999. I received my BA in English with honors in 2014. One of my avocations is developing simulation games. Weather permitting, I enjoy a round of Disc Golf whenever possible.

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