Wooden Wars: Quatre Balls - Battle of Three Bridges (and a Windmill)

" They don't give gold medals for beating somebody, they give gold medals for beating everybody."
~ Michael Johnson 

69K and Counting!
First off - I wanted to thank you all for continuing to stop by and check out my blog. I know there are a bajillion virtual soap boxes out there (I am subscribed to half of them) with amazing folks doing remarkable things, or whose writings and thoughts far exceed mine in talent and grammar! 
So, welcome aboard some new members: Captain Kobold, StuG ( my second favorite tank destroyer) and Mr. Saunders, whose own blog, Loki'sGreat Hall,  is an inspiration to me.  
Elite gunners cover the bridge

Take the Bridges!
The second day of Pacificon found the Wooden Wars armies converging somewhat downriver from the previous battle. To mix things up a bit, I moved the bridges closer, and added a smaller bridge to the North of them both which, although passable, was very flimsy and was not an objective (no medal on it).

Because all those Napoleonic paintings have windmills

About half the contestants were return players from the previous day, many sporting medals and swapping war stories from earlier engagements. Units were assigned and the battle began with infantry on both sides march moving to the bridges, with fierce fighting, cannonade, and cavalry charges to follow. 
First of many engagements on the bridges.

Flank attack on column!

Blue army cavalry cross over

The Commander sends in what is left of his guard to take the bridge

Officers meet on the field and stratagize

Last turn in the game- Blue army cavalry take both bridges!
After a fantastic two hour battle back-and-forth, the end-turn found the Blue Army in full control of both bridges, and victorious! 

Concerning Medals
When I run my Wooden Wars games, I always place painted medals at each objective; I try to make unique ones (by varying design or ribbon color or both) to represent each gaming convention. At the beginning of each game a medal is placed on the armies' flags and on any objectives available in the battle scenario. Before the battle commences, these are pointed out and it is clarified how they are to be achieved. 

Medals, as Napoleon knew, were great incentives to motivate his troops into doing things they may not otherwise have considered...sane.  This attitude is no different with the gamemaster and the players. 

Two BIG differences are the age ranges of my players, and the "everyone wins" mentality that is pervasive with children these days through "non-competitive competition".  I am sure all you parents out there have seen the "everyone wins" games played on soccer fields, or in class competitions where everyone is a winner. It has even gotten into the birthday party circuit, where each guest not only gets cake, but also a packet of favors as they leave. Curious...

Why am I bringing this up? This last convention, I had a larger than normal number of children ask, "don't I get a medal? "  when they took out an opposing unit, or at the end of the game, even when they were not on the winning side.   My answer to the question is always, "did you do something extraordinary?" This is usually met with confusion.   I mean - wasn't what they did in battle enough or their participation sufficient to receive an award?  I then give examples of them what's got medals during the battle, or from battles past, such as:  "Do you see captain S? She  got that medal she's wearing from charging and defeating two cavalry units, an infantry unit and capturing a battery of guns!  When you do something like that, you are likely to earn a medal."

At some point in this conversation, a parent usually moves in closer to listen and chime in. I am very happy to say that I've been backed 110% each time by parents with my explanation and examples, and that you don't always get a prize for doing the right thing, or just participating. 
Now, after my conversations with the children, I usually try to give them some heroic goal, such as clear a flank of  all infantry, capture the enemy guns way over on the other side, etc. I also let them put forth what they think would be heroic , and start a new conversation from there.  

How Medals are Won
There are 3 ways in which to win a medal in my games:
·         Capture an opposing army's flag, which ends the game
·         Have uncontested control of an objective, such as a bridge or a building
·         Do something extraordinary!
Now the first two are pretty straight forward. The last one needs more clarification.  During games, medals have been awarded for doing things like running down all enemy cav', capturing redoubts with gun batteries, saving another teammates unit from destruction, etc.  In this particular bridge battle, I awarded a medal to one of the small lads who commanded a gun battery. He didn't do any dreadful damage to the enemy, but EVERY turn he consistently took out 1-3 guys, and would aim his guns at threats to his teammate's troops on the front lines.  Pretty savvy and cool - and very medal worthy. 

Heroics Can be a Perception Thing...
Lastly, and to close up my ramblings, I have a medal known as the "Busy Bee" . This distinguished honor is given to the player who can't seem to hit anything and yet just keeps trying!   When awarded, I boast proudly of the Marshals in the back of the army seeing, "that officer and his unit purposefully marching here and there, and bravely and continuously blazing away at the enemy" - surely they deserve an accommodation!!!   This is always done as good sportsmanship, and so far, always accepted and worn proudly!!!  More often than not, this medal goes to a parent.
So, yeah, medals...folks do crazy things for them.  I'd love to hear any comments, recommendations and/or feedback  from you armchair generals.

Thanks very much for stopping by. Next time we'll look at the battle of La Haye Blocke, and where I am presented with an award (yeah, awkward after the above diatribe, and no - it wasn't the "Busy Bee"...)


  1. I do enjoy reading these accounts.

  2. I'm with you. But kids do expect some sort of award for everything. In flag football they give out participation medals, actually I've run several races that do the same thing. Teach them that just showing up is only the first step, not the endpoint for receiving recognition.

  3. Sean- thanks for the perspective. One of the dialogues I have withe kids when this happens is asking them did they have fun playing in the game, usually sighting some cool thing they did during the action. I try to make that the positive reinforcement instead of handing out smaller prizes.

    I did have one kid tell me no he did not have fun once.I damn near burst out laughing! He came back to play the next day, but chose cavalry, and seemed to "finally" have some fun.


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