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"Herero Games" Topic

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rjones6910 Nov 2019 12:24 p.m. PST

I'll be running two Herero games at Fall-In. For details go to:

Later on this week I'll be posting my new German carbine rules for the Nama Wars on the website.


Chuckaroobob11 Nov 2019 9:52 a.m. PST

You're the man, Roy! Always fun games!

jurgenation Supporting Member of TMP11 Nov 2019 12:03 p.m. PST

great write up on blog.

Col Durnford Supporting Member of TMP12 Nov 2019 6:36 a.m. PST

And I just sold off my Colonial Germans.

SgtGuinness Supporting Member of TMP29 Nov 2019 8:14 a.m. PST

Roy, how did your games go sir?

rjones6908 Dec 2019 6:16 p.m. PST

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Thanksgiving and then work got in the way.

The games went well. The Hereros won the Friday game ("The Struggle for Omaruru") handily and thus the town of Omaruru remained firmly in Herero hands despite a valiant final German assault. The Germans, however, won the Saturday game ("Assault at Liewenberg: the Main Line"), which was much closer. A bayonet charge by the sailors drove a broken Herero unit off the board on the last turn, which decided the game.

While both games were interesting, Friday's game (Omaruru) was particularly memorable. The Herero commander who was very, very sharp picked up on a clue about one of the Germans' surprise advantages, something no Herero player has figured out in more than 10 years of my running the Omaruru scenario. The Herero commander then chose a very unorthodox, very unhistorical, and very high-risk deployment one that could cost the Hereros the game very early if it failed. He left the Herero fortifications directly in front of the Germans COMPLETELY UNDEFENDED giving the Germans a clear path directly into Omaruru.

The risks of this deployment for the Hereros are obviously very high. If the Germans cross over to the other side of the fortifications once they spot there are no Hereros directly in front of them, things can go very badly for the Hereros. The Germans can plunge forward into the heart of Omaruru without opposition, and assault the high-value objectives in the center of the town early in the game. Or, once over the fortifications, the Germans can pivot 90 degrees, and roll up the Hereros' flank.

But if the Germans delay in crossing the fortifications, out of caution, the Hereros can remain concealed, far away, and unmolested by the Germans for a very long time. By the time the Germans do assault the Hereros it will be too late.

That's what happened in this game.

The following description of why it was memorable contains some spoilers for Omaruru things about the Germans the Hereros shouldn't know, things about the Hereros the Germans shouldn't know (e.g., the total number of points both sides can obtain, and where they can obtain them). I've tried to minimize what I reveal to what's absolutely necessary to explain what happened. But if you've never played the Omaruru scenario and want to get the full experience in the future, be forewarned: you may not want to read beyond this point.

So in Friday's game the Hereros defeated the Germans, 25 to 10. Had the German final assaults succeeded, it would have been 24 to 22 still a Herero victory, but very close.

These kinds of point differentials are standard for the Omaruru scenario over the 10 years I've run it. It always comes down to the next-to-last or last turn for this scenario, and the Germans seizing or not seizing the final high-value objectives. If they seize them, then the point differential is very close: the Germans have won by a few points, the Hereros have won by a few points, or it's a tie. When the Germans fail to seize the final objective by game end, if they still have a combat-effective force and the game had lasted one more turn the Germans would have been able to close the point gap or even win. This scenario is very balanced, as those who've played in the Omaruru scenario can attest.

So the point spread for Friday's game (25 to 10 Herero victory, but 24 to 22 if the Germans had seized the final objective) doesn't stand out. What does stand out is the Herero point total: 25 points.

If the Germans' plans go well, and they clear the Hereros from all of the fortifications, seize all objectives in Omaruru, and destroy all Herero forces, they can't gain more than 24 points. That point total was designed to be sufficient to defeat the Hereros. And that has worked for 10 years.

But the unorthodox deployment of the Herero commander allowed the Hereros to accumulate 25 points, which made it mathematically impossible by 1 point for the Germans to win even if they did everything right. In other words, the Herero commander just barely broke my scenario design!

Now no one has chosen this deployment in more than 10 years of my running this game. There are strong disincentives (in terms of points) early in the game for the Hereros to choose this deployment, and there are historical and tactical reasons why the Hereros would not leave their fortifications directly in front of the enemy undefended. So no one is likely to choose this deployment in the future, and if they try I can always forbid it on historical and tactical grounds.

But what's really fascinating is the Herero commander figured out something no other Herero player had figured out in a decade of my running the scenario. He then deployed his forces in a very risky way in response to something that had not yet happened. It put his forces in immediate risk of major defeat if the Germans were bold and immediately crossed the trenches. But it worked out for him and he ended up winning the game.

By the way, he had no idea how many points the Germans could accumulate, and thus he had no idea he would end up making it mathematically impossible for the Germans to win. So he wasn't trying to "game" the scenario. He just made a risky but ultimately triumphant choice.

SgtGuinness Supporting Member of TMP09 Dec 2019 6:33 p.m. PST

Roy, very exciting indeed! Thanks for posting.

wargamingUSA20 Dec 2019 5:19 p.m. PST

Great roll-up Roy. I don't miss living on the east coast much, except for not being able to participate in your Herero games, gaming with the FBF gang, and gaming with my old pal BillS.


rjones6912 Jan 2020 8:28 a.m. PST

Miss having you here Bill. It was always great gaming with you.


Basha Felika13 Jan 2020 12:58 p.m. PST

Any update on the Nama scenario book? Not that I've got the figures for the Herero wars finished yet, you understand!

rjones6928 Jan 2020 6:33 a.m. PST

Sorry for the delay in responding. I was in Berlin, listening to the Berlin Philharmonic and picking up some more German primary sources for South-West Africa.

I'm working on a new Nama scenario that will be run at Cold Wars: Camels in the Kalahari (German South- West Africa, 1908). Camel-mounted Schutztruppen assault the Nama forces of Simon Kopper in the dry desert sands of the Kalahari. There will be 100 camels on the game table. They're being painted up as I write this.


47Ronin28 Jan 2020 1:04 p.m. PST

I saw your "100 Camels" game in the Cold Wars 2020 PEL, Roy.

Looks great.

Hope to see you there.

SgtGuinness Supporting Member of TMP03 Feb 2020 5:54 p.m. PST

Roy, that sounds awesome! If your Nama War project is half as good as your Herero project we are in for a serious treat! Will you be doing another history / scenario book?

Sgt G

rjones6907 Feb 2020 7:22 p.m. PST

Yes I will be.

rjones6909 Feb 2020 8:38 a.m. PST

The book will have a history of the Nama, the Nama Wars and the main Nama leaders, as well as Nama War scenarios. It will also include some new Nama-War-specific rules that weren't in the Herero War rules: for German carbines, German camel troops, Nama leaders with field glasses, etc.

SgtGuinness Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2020 1:36 p.m. PST

Roy, that's awesome news. Count me in! Please let us know when it's available.

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