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Battles That Fascinate Me
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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There have been a lot of military history lists on this site, the latest being this one: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/34083. It got me thinking about battles that aren't necessarily great or decisive, but those that fascinate us or speak to us on a deeper level. I've made a list of ten of these battles. Forgive the bias for musket combat, because it is my favorite form of warfare, and the lack of non-western battles. Sadly I'm mostly ignorant of Asian and African history prior to 1850.

Please feel free to add any battles that fascinate you.
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26. Board Game: Descent on Crete [Average Rating:5.90 Overall Rank:7966]
Mike McDonald
United States
Arizona
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For most New Zealanders the most important battle to us has always been Gallipoli, but for me Crete has always captured my imagination. While we lost this battle in the end New Zealand forces (along with British and some extremely vicious creten partisans) broke the back of germany's elite paratroopers. Part of it is the sheer desperation of the defenders against the surprised attackers (they were told the cretens would welcome them with open arms). Part of this is a story my high school history teacher told me, about his time as a tour guide travelling through crete. His tour bus broke down, and he was informed by the mechanic that it could take almost a week to get it fixed. As he was walking around the bus the mechanic noticed a prominent New Zealand flag afixed to the back of the bus. He innocently asked if my teacher was from New Zealand. When he replied affirmatively the mechanic corrected his earlier time frame and advised he would have the vehicle fixed the next day! I love this sort of stuff - the human element to battles and how the actions of your predecessors can have an impact on your life. In essence their mana (honor) transfers to their children (or in my case grandchildren as my grandfather fought in this battle).
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27. Board Game: Stalingrad [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Bill Lawson
United States
Rutland
Vermont
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I figured I should add Stalingrad to the list.It is arguably one of the major turning points of the 2ndWW.What fascinates me the most about it is why the Germans were stupid enough (Hitler)to put themselves in such a poor position.
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28. Board Game: Cannae [Average Rating:5.81 Unranked]
Jim Zadrozny
United States
Fort Myers
Florida
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First ancient battle I studied in-depth. Made a clay representation of the battlefield for a class in high school, and proceeded to take up the entire period (with permission of the teacher) with a detailed lecture. My classmates hated me, but what the heck.

Hannibal may have not be the greatest strategist of all time, but at Cannae Roman overconfidence resulted in a true battle of annihilation. Hannibal's high-tide, and a text-book double-envelopment. I was always humored that the Roman General, Paulus, was the name-sake of another general several hundred years later that also fell victim to a text-book double-envelopment.
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29. Board Game: Downtown: Air War Over Hanoi, 1965-1972 [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:1215]
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(I'm a newb to military history, wargaming and boardgaming so please excuse me if I make any incorrect statements)
I'm not sure if this qualifies as a 'battle' maybe more precisely defined as a series of battles?
I bought this game titled "Downtown: The Air War over Hanoi, 1965-1972" after reading the subject manner and positive comments here at BGG. I was fascinated by the asymmetric forces (d'oh, is that the proper term?) and battles in the description. This battle(s) has the U.S. air assets going up against the ground forces (and meager air assets from what I have read in the manuals) of N. Vietnam.

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30. Board Game: Bouvines 1214 [Average Rating:6.39 Unranked]
Michel Boucher
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
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To my mind, the definitive battles were:

Bouvines
Peipus
Any napoleonic battle
Vietnam

Bouvines: was the battle in which Philippe Auguste defeated Otto and forced Jean Sans Terre back to England where he was forced by his disgruntled barons to sign the Magna Carta. It also resulted in the first draft of a modern state: France.

Peipus: pitted the Republic of Novgorod and its prince, Aleksandr Yaroslavich Nevskij, against the encroachment of the northern Crusade led by the Teutonic Knights. Whether a battle or a mere skirmish, it resulted in an extended peace for the entire region which had been at war for some time.



You can see where Monty Python got their inspiration for the wacky costumes in Holy Grail. Oh, the cruel Teutons...

Napoleonic battles: The Napoleonic period is characterized by having the most socially integrated army to march through Europe since the time of Attila. Its soldiers and officers were from much closer social conditions than their opponents and its entire senior officer corps was between 37 and 41 years of age at Austerlitz. From the way this (more) egalitarian army behaved and caused consternation among the royal house of Europe, one can see why England, concerned about the continuity of its political system, put money into it and manipulated the old European monarchies into a series of military actions that brought about the end of the Empire.

Vietnam: A long unending battle which is significant inasmuch as, with plenty of forewarning (Vo Nguyen Giap to Oriana Fallaci, 1968), the US nonetheless took on a seemingly weaker enemy, one which Roosevelt had summarily dismissed as "a small and peaceable people". With the world's largest portable arsenal at their disposal, the US military nonetheless managed to lose badly to the side armed with what amounted to bamboo sticks and baling wire, two pickup trucks of supplies a day and a determination which overcame all obstacles.



It seems the documentary glosses over the cancelled election with a measly quote, when it was the whole enchilada. No matter. Gotta love the little guy, although I'm guessing this notion will not appeal to all in this one circumstance. Tough, I say. History is a harsh mistress.
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David Rauscher
New Zealand
Mount Victoria
Wellington
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The Battle of Oriskany is one of the scenarios in this game.

A part of the Saratoga Campaign, this battle between about 800 patriots and their Indian allies, and 450 loyalists with their Indian allies (supported by some German Jagers, I believe), the battle was a tactical defeat for the patriots, but a strategic victory. There are some interesting moments in it as well: it began as an ambush, while the patriots awaited their allies from Fort Stanwyx, and despite being wounded at the opening of the battle, the patriot commander Herkimer managed to rally his men and hold off the British for much of the day, and even managed to hold out when additional loyalists reinforcements arrived (trying to dress as patriots and thereby gain surprise) until their allies from the Fort finally sortied. A bloody battle in a famous campaign – in a campaign covering the capture of Fort Ti to the Battle of Saratoga, nearly 25% of all patriot casualties occurred in this one battle.

I’ve always liked the Battle of Oriskany because of what it represents. This battle reflects the complexities of the American War for Independence.

First, it’s one of the few engagements almost exclusively between loyalists and patriots. When the colonies went to war, the country was roughly divided: while over a third supported the rebellion, nearly as many remained uncommited, and a good 20% or so of the population were active loyalists. We so often forget how divided loyalties were in the states, and how violent they could be (tarring and feathering, anyone?). It was as much a civil war, brother against brother, neighbour against neighbour, as a rebellion. (The famous Rip Van Winkle is a tale about the drastic change in the colonists view of England. Before he goes to sleep for 20 years, the colonists are loyal subjects of the king, coming out of the successful French and Indian Wars. When he awakes, England is the hated and despised enemy.)

Second, it demonstrates the signifiant role Indians played in the conflict. Five of the six tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy allied with the British. Only the Oneida’s sided with the patriots (though apparently some of the Tuscarora did as well). The revolutionary war played a critical role in both the break-up of the various British colonies, but also of the great Iroquois Nation. (Hailing from western New York, we view the Indian tribes of the region with a great deal of import. American Indian names are everywhere – I grew up in Honeoye Falls, for example – and in school we spend a great deal of time learning about Indian History in New York –from their longhouses and permanent residences, to the famous constitutional documents of the Iroquois Nation, and their at least nominally matriarchal social structure. It’s an important part of our cultural heritage.)
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32. Board Game: Druid: Boudicca's Rebellion, 61 A.D. [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:4567]
Joseph
United States
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Today, we're all Spaniards!
The battle that fascinates me the most, dates to about 60 AD. Romans versus Britons.
There are similarities in this tale to Agincourt and Thermopylae, which I will let you discover for yourself.

The short version: 10,000 well trained and disciplined Roman troops, against a rebelling peasant army of some 230,000. The story was reported by various people, but most notably Tacitus the Roman historian. It’s a fascinating read for those who love a good military drama. We have:

1. An outnumbered elite fighting force. (The Roman Legions)
2. A charismatic warrior queen. (Boudica, a woman of great intelligence, with long red hair, a harsh voice, and a piercing stare)
3. A rebel army attempting to overthrow an “evil” empire.
4. A revenge motive thick enough to cut with a knife.

Here are some more details

Most of this information is para-phrased from the internet.

Boudica was the Queen of the Iceni tribe of East Anglia when her husband Prasutagus died in about 60 AD. In his will, Prasutagus left his kingdom jointly to his daughters and the Roman Emperor. Unfortunately, the Roman Empire didn’t recognise daughters as heirs. Boudica was flogged, her daughters raped, and her kingdom was annexed as if conquered. Boudica gathered her tribe together, and went on a bit of a rampage, destroying Camulodunum (Colchester) the capital of the Trinovantes. In the process she laid waste to a temple, and routed the Roman legion IX Hispana. Londinium (London) was next, followed by Verulamium (St Albans). Both settlements were burned to the ground. An estimated 70,000 – 80,000 people were killed in the three cities.

General Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, commanding XIV Gemina and various elements of XX Valeria Victrix, marched out to engage Boudica. He encountered her horde of 200,000 somewhere in the west midlands along a Roman road. Suetonius had about 10,000 men. He found a position in a defile with a wood behind him. He occupied the top of the incline, in keeping with standard Roman battle tactics. The hill had a forest to one side, which meant he would only have to face the enemy coming from one direction.

The lack of maneuverability of the British forces, combined with lack of open-field tactics, put them at a disadvantage to the Romans. The Romans were skilled at open combat due to their superior equipment and discipline. The narrowness of the field meant that Boudica could only put forth as many troops as the Romans could at a given time.

The Celts were high on enthusiasm. The sound of drums, pipes and the people shouting carried far and wide. Many Celts were clothed in their tartan attire, many naked as was Celtic tradition in battle. Brandishing spears, swords, or stolen swords, their skin patterned with blue woad to frighten their enemy. After final speeches had been made on both sides, the Celts charged towards the Romans.

First, the Romans stood their ground and used volleys of pila (heavy javelins) to kill thousands of Britons who were rushing toward the Roman lines. The Roman soldiers, who had now used up their pila, were then able to engage Boudica's second wave in the open. As the Romans advanced in a wedge formation, the Britons attempted to flee. Most of the advancing Britons were killed in the initial stages, and the others began to panic rapidly. The Roman cavalry joined the battle, encircling the horde.

At the rear of the battlefield, the British families sat in their wagons watching the slaughter, knowing that they were helpless. As the legionnaires continued to attack Boudica's forces, they went into the camp where the families were waiting. They killed nearly every man, woman and child. Though there were some survivors, most died. Many individual skirmishes continued well into the evening, until the light faded and darkness brought an end to the carnage.

The final death toll:
400 Romans dead
80,000 British dead

Respectfully submitted

Falloutfan
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33. Board Game: Carcassonne: Die Katharer [Average Rating:6.94 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.94 Unranked]
 
Mateusz Wilk
Poland
Warsaw
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The Battle of Muret, September 12th, 1213.

A battle which is somewhat forgotten today, yet it undoubtedly contributed to the current political shape of the European continent.
It was one of the highlights of the massive military and political operation known today as the Albigensian Crusade (which, in my opinion, is one of quite few things staining the honour of an otherwise good king, Philippe II Augustus of France).
The two enemy sides were the crusaders led by Simon de Montfort and the coalition of Occitan nobles (Catholic and Cathar alike) led by the Count of Toulouse, Raymond VII supported by a large force led by Peter II, king of Aragon (and count of Catalonia).
The crusaders were victorious which was the beginning of the end of the political, cultural and religious peculiarity of what is now southern France, but most importantly, as Peter II died on the battlefield,, it was the end of any hope of a new political entity which was in the making at that time - a realm of the common "language of Oc" which would extend over the Pyrénées encompassing Aragon, Catalonia and what roughly is now Languedoc, Rousillon and Gascony. In this sense, it shaped Europe as we know it - had such a kingdom emerged, the European history would have doubtlessly been very different.
After this defeat Raymond VII fled to England where he pleaded for assistance of John the Lackland (or Jean Sans-terre), who wanted to aid him, but it soon turned out that he would be unable to do so, as he had his own troubles caused by the battle of Bouvines mentioned some posts earlier.
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34. Board Game: The Battle of Raphia [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:6506]
ian cam
United Kingdom
Staines
Middx
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Different species of War Elephant!
 
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35. Board Game: Coral Sea: Campaign Commander Volume II [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:4016]
 
Francisco Ronco Poce
Spain
Sevilla
Sevilla
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Solomon & New Guinea campaigns 1942-43. Full air-naval-land integrated system to refight the battle for Buna, Coral Sea, Eastern Solomon, Guadalcanal and more.
Operational level of warfare with emphasis on logistics, command and control.
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36. Board Game: The Kaiser's War: World War I, 1918-19 [Average Rating:7.45 Overall Rank:5349]
Terence Co
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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The German Spring offensive 1918...

What is fascinating?

Germans started out with the military upper hand in Europe in 1918. However with the end of 1918, the Germans had surrendered.
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37. Board Game: Storm over Hengyang 1944 [Average Rating:7.16 Unranked]
Terence Co
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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Battle of Hengyang 1944

Effective use of a city defense to cause as much enemy losses as possible.

Japanese 11th Army with 40,000 men attack the KMT Chinese 10th Army with 10,000 men.

The Chinese fortified the city of Hengyang with manmade 20 foot walls, trenches, booby traps, minefields, firing points and bunkers.

The Japanese attacked with heavy air and artillery support and some chemical weapons.

After one month the Japanese overran the city but lost 20,000 men while the Chinese 9500 men. One of those rare Sino Japanese battles where the Japanese actually lost more men.
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38. Board Game: Menglianggu: Best Division under Heaven [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]
Terence Co
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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The Central Shandong Campaign May 13-16, 1947.

KMT(Chinese nationalist) plans the destructuion of CCP(Chinese commie) forces in Central China.

KMT have 400,000 men, have good air and artiller support, troops are better armed and generally better trained but have poor morale, coordination and unit leaders hate each other.

CCP have 200,000 men veteran guerilla troops leavened with KMT defectors and local peasant support. Have OK artillery support, have excellent leadership and coordiantion and local intelligence of KMT positions and movements. However soldies are more poorly armed with equipment and supplies captured from the KMT, no air and armour support.

CCP units use superior local intelligence and coordiantion to evade and conduct hit and run attacks on to inflict heavy losses on the KMT units. CCP units manage to encircle and besiege the best KMT unit(74th XX). The KMT XX is destroyed mainly due to the nearby KMT units not coming to its rescue due to KMT leader rivalries. In fact, it was a clos run thing, as the KMT had more units surrounding the CCP forces all commmited to destroy the KMT 74th XX. According to the CCP commanders, if the KMT coordinated better, the CCP would have destroyed.

Result: The destruction of the KMT's best unit in the area results in the wholesale defection of the other KMT units int he area resuling in the strengthened CCP armies and the CCP control of a major part of Central China.
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39. Board Game: The Battle of Changde Operation Yo Go [Average Rating:7.50 Unranked]
Terence Co
Canada
Vancouver
BC
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2nd game on the obscure battle of Changde 1943 Second Sino Japanese war 1937-1945. Called Stalingrad of China. The earlier game was the Chinese view, now you have the first Japanese wargame on a battle of the Second Sino Japanese war.

This another major China Japan war city battle. Very bloody for both sides. Also the Japanese used massive amounts on the Chinese in this battle.

There are english rules for download on the BGG site for this game translated to English by the great BGG gamer Hiroshi Tamura.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/92239/the-battle-of-ch...
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40. Board Game: Devil's Horsemen [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:2400]
Founding Fathers: try your hand at being President.
United States
Bay Area
California
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The Battle of Köse Dağ in 1243 featured the Mongols outnumbered by the Seljuk Turks. Nevertheless they managed to achieve a Cannae-like success that has apparently never been realized as a battle war game. Or has it?
More info:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_K%C3%B6se_Da%C4%9F
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