Originally created 01/20/05

Soldiers are small, but their battles are intense

It's a pastime that combines two areas of interest for Tom Fisher.

"I like to play games, and I like military history," said Mr. Fisher, one of about 220 people who attended the Siege of Augusta, a miniature gaming event Friday through Sunday at the Augusta Towers Hotel and Convention Center.

Mr. Fisher moderated a game involving the French Foreign Legion and Arabian soldiers.

Using small metal figures, dice, a set of rules and a tape measure, gamers battle their opponents, sometimes on elaborate tables complete with trees, hills and other land features mimicking battlefields.

During the siege, gamers from California, New York, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and other states met to stage battles from different eras, said Jim Birdseye, an Augusta State University history professor and coordinator of the 14th annual event.

"We do it to promote the hobby and to provide a venue for it," he said. "A lot of these guys work really hard (creating their miniatures and battlefields)."

Gamers participated in World War II battles, a Napoleonic war, the War of 1812 and the American Civil War. Some created futuristic or fantasy battles.

The convention was a first for Caprii Edenfield, who attended for credit in Mr. Birdseye's geography class.

"This was really interesting," she said. "I enjoyed it. It's unbelievable how much time and effort goes into this."

What amazed Dawn Diver, another of Mr. Birdseye's students, was how involved players got in their games and "how excited they get waiting for a certain number on their roll so they could destroy something," she said.

The gamers range in age from children to seniors.

Ty Goyne, a fifth-grader at Gracewood Elementary School, said the military games are not hard to play.

"You've just go to know where to move the people and the dice to roll," said Ty, who has been attending the convention for three years. He was maneuvering his Arabian army in Mr. Fisher's game.

For others, it was a learning experience.

Zack Rose, an eighth-grader at Burke County Middle School, listened as Alex Sakraida, a senior at Augusta State, explained some of the rules before the start of a sea battle.

It was Mr. Sakraida's second year at the convention, and he was on a mission.

"I fought this battle before and lost miserably last time," he said. "I am dutifully here to regain my honor."

Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at czbrackett@hotmail.com.


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