"Follow Me!" he cried and so I did

Years ago when I was 14 I went to a gaming convention and met some amazing people. David Donovan and Pete English were there. They became friends for life. Pete and I played in a WWII game called Follow Me! I loved the experience because it really brought the war alive for me more than any film ever did.

Pete got a copy of the rules. Now that he is married and has a house full of kids he has to make sacrifices every now and then. He got his copy of “Follow Me!” the day we met. It pained him to think he’d have to throw it out because he was running out of space but I was there this past weekend and it had just as much sentimental value to me as it did to him so I have taken it. I am not sure how I will care for it but I’ll find a way. I don’t want it for the rules – there are plenty of other WWII rules I prefer now such as DHC7B. Its worn cover, dog eared pages and stains make it unattractive looking. But it was the first and so it will always be special. Though I didn’t wargame again until I met Jan Spoor many years later, this is definitely the experience that planted the seed.

The rules model so much. They were meant for Platoon or Reinforced Platoon action but by today’s standards they would be seen as very slow playing. I don’t know how accurate they are at simulating combat but there is a table for everything. For example one decision point is how fast are you going to drive your tank over broken ground to escape the guns of tank destroyers? There is a table that looks at the chance of a mechanical breakdown occuring because you are going too fast and being hard on the machine! Very few rules today cover such an issue.

I look at them more as role playing rules than wargame rules. You write your orders. You move everything simultaneously. You have a thousand decision points to contemplate. It is truely fascinating to contemplate. I remember in that first game the question was asked, how do you cross the intervening distance between the crater you are in to the woodline over the field? The rules were meant to cover that kind of detail.

Another friend in that same game was Nat St. John who went on to form the St. John Group. He stated a few years ago that learning how to play “Follow Me!” made statistics in college easy. I have to agree. I think it did the same for me.

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