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Manoj E. Govindan

The Humble Beginning

Sometime in early August this year, Ravi was browsing the Internet for wargames and related material, and came across something called Piquet. The description and exceptionally good reviews for the game caught his attention, and by coincidence, I had also mentioned the same name to him in some conversation earlier. Taken by interest, Ravi followed the link and read a whole batch of reviews about this ruleset which was taking the wargames community by storm.

DBM was the first 'formal' ruleset to be played in detail by us, and had become quite popular with the crowd here. What attracted us to DBM was its simple theory; and now Piquet was offering a revolutionary way of looking at wargames. It proposed to make wargames more warlike than ever before, by means of a simple and effective approach. Ravi was naturally excited by the prospects offered by this new ruleset and told me in detail about Piquet the next time I met him. We were both impressed by what Bob Jones(the creator of Piquet) said and could not wait to get our hands on the rules set and have a game going.

Now came the catch. For we live in India, a place not known for hobby stores of any kind, not to mention those which sold rules for the wargames fanatics. (Read the article on wargaming in India to appreciate this better) We were stumped. Here was a ruleset which virtually promised us wargaming heaven and here we stood with the interest and the money to pay for but with no means to buy it. Several frustrating moments later, we regained our 'wargamer' nature and started thinking about solutions. As it happened to be, Piquet was available for sale in the US; and one of our brethren is doing his MS in Texas. There! We now had a hope, and Ravi mailed Sriram pronto seeking his help for the cause. Sriram quickly mailed back on the 18th of August 2000, with news that he had ordered for us, and that the package was expected to reach him in another month or so.

The mail I got from Ravi(note the joy!)

    Sriram has ordered Piquet at my request and will get it next week!!
    Les Cavaliers, CHHAAAAAARGE!!!!            

    --- Sriram Sundararajan wrote: ---
    > Reply-to: Sriram Sundararajan 
    > From: "Sriram Sundararajan" 
    > To: Ravi Mohan 
    > Subject: Order Placed!!
    > Date: Thu, 17 Aug 2000 15:28:48 CDT
    > Ravi,
    > Have placed order.. Will get to me within a week. I will send it to you 
    > immediately.
    > Bye,
    > Sriram


Hooray! Finally things were moving. Now it only remained for Sriram to come back to India for us to get the game going.

The need for more

Inspired by the results (so far) of our first attempt, we decided to take it further. Sriram had ordered only for the core rules and Les Grognards Supplement and we wanted more. We did not want to trouble Sriram further and decided to order for more supplements online. However, this involved considerable amount of 'background work'. The major reason being that neither Ravi nor I, nor any of our other club members had credit cards capable of paying in dollars, pounds or anything but rupees and therefore we had to get hold of someone who did.

This CC person had then to be convinced to spend money in our behalf and take the reimbursement from us. As it happened, I knew just the kind of guys who found it advantageous to use the credit card for need of the credit points it gave them. Soon enough, I took the guy(whom we affectionately call CC benefactor) by hand and went to the nearest Internet link to get on to and order Cartouche, Din of Battle etc, Piquet Supplements all. We were tempted to get out hands on Hannibal Ad Portas(A great scenario book) and the rest of the rulesets, but decided to get those we had ordered first. By the time the order was placed, it was the 20th of August.

Enter Brent Oman

As Luck would have it, we received a mail from Brent Oman(A Piquet veteran himself and in charge of Piquet shipments) with the latest from the makers of Piquet. The good part was that the order had gone through; the bad was that not all cards were in print due to a careless printer/subcontractor. In short, the order was ready but for the missing items. It would be sent as soon as all the items became available. Aaargh! These printers :-) But 24-48 hrs wait was very small in a place were waiting for products is usually mentioned in terms of weeks or months. Roger! , Brent. We'll be waiting.

Mail from Oman

    I do not presently have cards in stock for Cartouche and Din of Battle.  
    Our printer packaged the shipment to us quite poorly and lost 1/5 of our new  
    cards.  As a result, those must be reprinted.  I do not yet have a date from  
    the printer when they will ship the reprinted cards.  We will be pushing them  
    for delivery ASAP.  Once I have the cards, I should be able to send out the  
    order within 24-48 hrs.  Shipment overseas is via US Airmail and typically 
    takes 4 to 10 days, depending on location.

    Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions.

    Brent Oman

Il Postino(the postman)

All was going well when we remembered that in the order placed with Brent, I had given my house address for shipping. This could very well spoil our plans, thanks to the Postal system here which is not what we would like it to be, especially with overseas packages. The package could very well vaporize after entering India and we would never know. A quick decision was made to change the address, and we once again sought the help of Sriram. He was all willing to help (Thank you, Sriram!) and I send out the following mail to Brent. I am sure that Brent would have found ours the first order where the shipping address was changed after placing the order.

  Hi Brent,
  I would like make a request regarding the shipment of PK supplements. 
  The postal system in India is not what I would like it to be, and loss in 
  transit particularly for overseas material is common. Hence I would like to 
  entrust my friend Sriram Sundararajan who is studying in the US to take delivery
  of the shipment. He is expected back here in a couple of months, and I trust 
  him infinitely more than I do the posties here. If this is fine with you please 
  mail me, and Sriram will contact you by phone and make the necessary 
  arrangements. Kindly mail me your phone number, so that I can pass it over to 
  him. I am cc ing this mail to Sriram, who can be reached at the address given 
  below if you wish so.
  [Address here]


Another stretch of waiting

By the 21 of August it was finalised that Oman Brent would sent it to Sriram as soon the printer sent the cards to him. And we began eagerly waiting for the day when Piquet reached first Sriram and then us. Days passed, and it was soon September. Brent waited for the printer, Sriram waited for the package and we waited for them all. (Aside: In the meanwhile, we tried very weird things like trying to fit in PK into DBM and create a mutant DBM. What worked, however was our combo of 'Big Battalions' a set of Napoleonic rules from Foundry and PK. We incorporated the 'impetus' idea of Piquet into the game, and finally played a game on the 1st of October)

Of Chris Abbey and why we recommend Wargames World

Towards the end of September as the interest in Piquet grew, we were actively scouring the net for PK related material, including reports and discussion groups. As a result, Ravi came across the Piquet discussion group at egroups and made a post there regarding the state of affairs in India with respect to Piquet. His postings drew interest from one Chris Abbey, who promptly sent him a mail offering to provide Piquet and all but one of its supplements. He even offered to take payment in Indian Rupees. We were overjoyed! Here was a solution presenting itself to us and the best part of it was that we could pay in Indian Rupees if the need be. After a quick search, we found that we had enough 'Credit Card Holders' in hand to make the payment through the site. We were impressed by the way Chris conducted customer service. He even weighed the package and told us the approximate cost of shipping even before Ravi had finalised the order and suggested what to buy so as to get a good bargain. Soon enough, we were pinging the server with the intention of making payment. A few delays occurred due to server unavailability for a while, but finally on 5th of October, the payment to Chris went through.

We repeated the request for shipping through UPS to a puzzled Chris, who had sent packages to places as far off as New Zealand and South Africa without any incident. We briefed him about the postage here, and he quickly understood. Soon, UPS got a call from yet another manufacturer, courtesy India Wargamers.[We have a mind to get an account with UPS for this purpose alone :-)]

We'll now look a few days earlier so as to see what happened to the parcel sent by Chris. After being picked up from Chris's place, it travelled across unseen lands and seas to reach the desert city of Sharjah. There, a few attempts were made by envious Arab wargamers to make off with the package but our karma was strong and the police prevented them in time[Of course I am joking about the Arab players and the police. There was a delay, that's all:-).] A day later, an anxious Ravi(who was tracking the progress of the document through the web) was told that the package was on its way and had reached Bombay. Like in Sharjah, the package survived an ambush attempt, this time by angry Indian posties who thought that India Wargamers were making them unpopular with the masses :-). Finally, on the historical day of 6th October, I received a mail from Ravi(We stay 300 km apart)with just a single line about 'something terribly wrong with Piquet'. I had just finished sending a panicky mail asking for details when he mailed me again saying that the good news was that piquet had arrived !! He was trying to (and very successfully did) raise my blood pressure!

            Sorry the [earlier] headline was to raise your BP. 
            The news is PK arrived!!!!!!


When it rains, it pours

After a wait of about 50 days since we first discussed it, a copy of Piquet was finally in the hands of India Wargamers. And it did not stop there. We received mails from Brent Oman saying that he had mobilised both our orders(made by Sriram and me) and they were on they way to Sriram in USA. Ravi received a couple of really good battle reports on Piquet and so on... Hooray! We were literally being drenched in Piquet. All that remained was to play it which we are going to do this weekend (14th October 2000). Finally, India Wargamers were going to spill some lead...


Looking back, I can say that we were impressed by the dramatic new way of looking at battles offered by Piquet. (Thanks Bob Jones!) A couple of excellent, life-like battle reports by Ken Baggaley posted in the Piquet web page hardened our resolve to buy piquet and to re write our own battle reports. ( Ken, we really enjoyed reading your work. Thanks!) It is not often that we get quality customer service from vendors. In this respect, Chris Abbey of Wargames World and Oman Brent(Thanks again both of you!) were really eye openers for us. We wholeheartedly recommend to all wargamers for their wargame buys.

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