Monday, May 7, 2018

Broadsword 5

I hadn't realized it'd been so long since my last post, but I blame Twitter :-) Since I changed jobs at work in the new year, I haven't been responsible for a work Twitter account which has let me get my own personal one that I devote to hobbies (gaming and Canadian football), so my instant gratification for game reports, painting successes and mad purchases goes there.  I'll try to catch up, though I see I still have photos from conventions in 2014 that haven't made it here!

Anyway, this post is prompted by my attendance at Broadsword 5 in Hamilton last Saturday.  I had committed to host a game in the afternoon, a new scenario for Song of Drums and Shakos, and then in my enthusiasm for Toofatlardies new What a Tanker rules, I convinced my friend Mike to bring his tanks and we'd use my terrain in the evening to put on a game and learn the game ourselves.  So that left the morning for me to play in a game, more on that in a second.

First though, some photos of some of the new terrain and scenics I prepped for the SDS game, another 1812 in Russia scenario.  These are 15mm MDF sleds from Things From the Basement:
Obviously the one on the bottom left will also be used for Christmas scenarios in Fear & Faith games (Monster Hunter International), when snowmen go bad!

Next up are some Novus Design Studios 15mm pieces, two livestock pens and a rickety wooden bridge.  I did one pen for the winter (below), the other for the summer (still needs its flock), and the bridge in the middle is sort of generic, not committing itself to a season.






The night before the con all of southern Ontario was under a wicked wind storm - one brother in the eastern part of the province lost a good chunk of his roof, another in the same city had nothing happen.  My mother lost a tree (actually her neighbour did, it landed on her property though!), and another brother in the western end of the province lost a few shingles but his neighbours got hammered).  I kept my car far away from any trees till the winds blew down, and otherwise avoided any damage, though my town got beat up pretty good.  The point of this aside is my gaming buddy Ron, who was going to come with me and run his own game in the evening, lost a chunk of roof and a 40' pine tree that landed in his neighbour's driveway (not sure if cars got crushed or not), and therefore had to bail on coming.

So I had a solo drive from Peterborough to Hamilton and got there in plenty of time to kibbitz with the fellows.  I also got a good parking spot to make my haulage distance bearable.  The extra time did cost me though, as I ended up buying a couple of t-shirts on offer, one of the Hamilton Tabletop Gaming Society's flagship "Peace Through Superior Firepower" club shirts, and a cool faux "Drink Coca Cola" Cthulhu shirt.

For the morning session I played Dux Bellorum by Dan Mersey (Osprey Games) for the first time, one of the few rulesets of his I don't have.  Working from my 1/8th Welsh heritage, I chose to play Welsh raiders making their way back with some cattle liberated from those filthy Anglo-Saxons (possibly 1/8 to 1/4 of my other heritage though - these decisions are so complicated).  The game was set up as basically two side-by-side battles, two of us Welsh (Howard and I), with Howard facing John and me up against Alex.  It was a very congenial game, and the rules were pretty simple to pick up, though it took me a while to sort out a good use for the skirmishers.

And we'd obviously forgotten to milk the cows before we made off with them, because they were bloody slow!  I only got 2" of movement out of them on the last turn, otherwise it was 1", 1", 1", 1"...

Some of the intense early fighting as the battlelines met:

Reinforcements for the Welsh!  After about 500 messages begging for them...
Pretty fun game with good company.  Not sure I have any ready projects that I could use the rules for, at least until maybe someone makes some 3mm Dark Ages (looking at you Magister Militum).

Then it was a chicken salad sandwich and buying some MDF bases for my Anglo-Zulu Wars / The Men Who Would Be Kings project (Dan Mersey again) and possibly 3mm samurai (Chrysanthemum Throne / The Pikeman's Lament (uh, Dan Mersey) / Irregular Wars).  I wasn't sure 3mm bases would work for 3mm figures, but since this will be truly big battles, with 30-64 figures per base, when I did a test set-up later they looked ok.  I also picked up some resin craters, all from 6 Squared Studios.

After the food, I set up my Song of Drums and Shakos game, this scenario being the "Thin Sled Line", where retreating French infantry have barricaded most of the table but Russian infantry have flanked them.  Also playing a part are Cossacks and French Hussars.  I'll do another post with my last playtest game later, as I only got this one shot of my game Saturday:
Not sure why it looks snowy maybe my phone's camera was suffering from condensation, the room was getting a bit muggy.  Hopefully some of the other attendees with cameras will do a full recap for us, I'll post a link later.

The game itself went ok, it ended with a fairly quick convincing French win, which I'd never seen in playtesting.  Oddly the Russians had one returning player and the other has the rules and read them, and the newbies whipped them despite a suspect initial set-up that left potentially lots of gaps for the Cossacks if they'd been bolder.  It was only an ok game for me as GM as I had one player struggling to get the rules; I was rushed at the start and didn't bring out my "So It's Your Turn" intro guide, and I think that was a mistake.

For the evening timeslot, I'd asked my local friend Mike to bring out his HO scale-ish WWII tanks to go with my 15mm terrain for a game of the new Toofatlardies rules "What a Tanker!".  Both of us were interested in them, but other than a few solo games by me in 6mm to get myself ready for Broadsword, neither of us had played.

I set up a bigger 6x4 winter mat and brought out all of my Russian village and most of my road pieces and winter trees to fill the table.  We opened it up to another four players to sign up for, for a full game of six (all I had the tokens for).  It was a Long Ball/King of the Ring scenario, so no real objectives other than blowing the enemy up.  Mike's tanks weren't really balanced, so we started with a Pz.IVB (me!), a IVG, and a StuG III on the German side, and two T-37/76s and a Lend Lease Sherman for the communists.  As tanks died, better tanks could come up - Tigers, KV-1, SU-152.  And tanks died...

A few pictures to tell the story:
The long view of our table.  The river was fordable, didn't want to make the Russians go over that bridge! 

The side view of the table, Germans coming from the left, Soviets from the right. 

The first kill of the game, Brian in the StuG IIIG took out the Lend Lease Sherman - oddly it ended up being Brian's only kill, but then he was also the only player to survive the entire game in his original vehicle, so he claims to have been the biggest tanker. 

The line-up of Brian's shot. 

Alas, I was the second player to have his tank deaded, killed by a T-34.  I almost had a wicked shot on one of the other T-34s, but after getting to rolling my damage dice with 3 sixes out of 4 dice, I realized I'd been buttoned and didn't have enough acquisition dice to walk through the acquire-aim-shoot sequence, so I had to take all that drama back! 

I did, however, eventually get one of T-34s when I came back as a Tiger (handy trick, that), and then as the game was winding down I got a second kill on the SU-152 when it kindly decided to stop facing me off and gave me a flank.  Here's the view with my Tiger carefully concealed behind a shrubbery and the 152 in the distance.

And here's the close-up from another side of the table, just so the reporters wouldn't miss this news:

In the end, two of us had two kills, but both of us lost tanks; Brian had one kill and no losses, and Keith (the other German) had one kill and one loss.  Both Keith and I got our first kills by finishing off guys Brian had damaged, but that's the way the cookie crumbles...

With that I attempted to escape Hamilton, which was harder than usual as the bridge over the harbour was closed for construction and I had to drive through most of the city to get out.  Got back at a solid 2:30am and that wrote off most of Sunday for me...

Broadsword 6 is in August and I'll be back with at least another SDS game.  A few other things are in the near-done pile and we'll see how my focus holds up over the summer.  I'm off to CanGames in Ottawa the weekend after next, just to play games though!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

KEGSCon V

Back from my second trip to KEGSCon in Chatham, Ontario this past weekend, and it was another fun weekend of gaming, along with some treachery and betrayal in the Old West!

If my bladder, stomach, and obsessive need to read work e-mails can be kept in check, it's a five hour trip to Chatham for me, but in practice it's about six hours, so I took Friday off to get down there to check into my hotel and be ready for Friday's 7pm start.

Friday was in the backroom of the host hotel's pub, and was set to be a board and mat game night, so I'd volunteered to run a game of Ganesha Games' Galleys and Galleons (that's a lot of Gs) under the latter category - a flat mat game with miniatures.  Other games run that night were Last Night on Earth, Imperial Assault, and Firefly.

My G&G scenario was called "King of the Pyrate Atoll", in which four small squadrons from different nations/factions swarm to the Pyrate Atoll after Typhoon Mary destroys the Pyrate King's fleet and scatters his treasures over the bottom of the shallow atoll.  Each player had a choice of nation/faction (British, Spanish, American, French, Pirate, Crimson Skull Pirate, Voodoo) and then a choice of squadron composition (three options, except for the Voodoo Nation which only had one).  Once within the atoll they could choose to fight and earn VP by sinking/capturing ships or capturing the treasure others hauled up, or hauling it up themselves.  Players rolled for each action spent trying to dredge up treasure to see what they got, which could range from the Peacock Throne (which was found!) or waking up the Kraken (which also happened!).
The basic set-up for King of the Pyrate Atoll

Unfortunately the scenario didn't quite work as planned or as I'd playtested.  I had designed it for four players and got three, and that through things off balance, and all of them went treasure hunting with both ships, except Brian who went half and half and his one ship ended up in a bit of a cross-fire by Barry.  His treasure-hunting ship was the one who awoke the kraken, and it ended up sinking him and then chasing down his badly damaged second ship. 
About mid-battle, the kraken has awoken!  Brian's second ship is off to challenge the two British ones, while the Spanish in the back are anchoring to look for loot.

Barry found the most treasure, and had a pretty large lead and the wind shifted in his favour, giving him an easy way off the board by the end.  Tom was left alone because of the off-balance number, and while one his ships had trouble with the shallows and damaged its keel, his main trouble was lousy treasure rolls.
The end game, with two pirate ships at the bottom and two British ships laden with treasure trying to sail their way out of the atoll.

I probably should have just adjusted things on the fly and let the guys fight it out on an open board with a few islands, but I though the scenario would work out still.  Waking the kraken early also didn't help.  I'd playtested the scenario with multiple strategies, but always with four squadrons and always with a mix of strategies, rather than all using generally similar strategies.  So lesson learned, that scenario needs work and four players (or two).

Saturday morning I was on call for another game, running a four-player Song of Drums and Shakos game set around Leipzig in October 1813.  It was the first appearance of some more Russian card models, a "Prussian" church and a chateau, and a Miniature Building Authority town hall. 
Shot from the Russian side of the table, though we turned it around 180 to make things easier for Andy, so he wouldn't have to stand as much.

The scenario was the Polish had left behind some valuable plans and maps when they retreated from a village north of Leipzig (around Mockern), so a French force is sent back to find them while the Russians have just come across the remains of the Polish HQ while looking for valuables and other loot. 
 Closer view of the Russian side of the table.  See my beautiful autumn trees!  Need to work a bit on more clutter for around the big buildings, or at least smaller stone mats.

I had five potential sites in my mind where the lost maps could be, and when anyone got within 1 Long measurement of the site, a marker was put on it as a potential location and would stay that way until someone got adjacent to it to check it out.  That player would then draw a card (seven cards for five sites) to see what he'd found.  Four were nothing, letters to mistresses or food wrappers, and three had some value, from 1 to 5 VP.  Five VP was the big enchillada, the maps and orders of battle straight from Napoleon's headquarters.  If after four sites were investigated the 5 VP maps weren't found, they'd automatically be at the fifth site, irrespective of the card draw.

As it turned out, I had two players, Cain and Andy, from KEGS, and both were willing to play two forces, so Andy took the French and Cain the Russians.  Andy had voltigeurs and carabiniers, Cain had musketeers (with drummer and standard) and jaegers.

Andy had his carabiniers on his left and the voltigeurs on his right, with the church in front of them.  Cain sent his jaegers down the road in the middle, and the musketeers on his right, around the town hall.  Both sides raced forward in groups, Andy send a group of voltigeurs to the right of the church, and learned he had potential locations for the lost maps both ahead of him, at the base of a tree, and on the far side of the church, on a bench.

Cain got tricky and ran his jaegers through a gap in the hedges into the back yard of the town hall, loading up that side of the table for him.  His musketeers had some activation issues and were a bit slow getting into the game.
 The French have found some valuables, and are setting up in the graveyard, meanwhile the Russian jaegers are shooting through the hedges.

The French carabiniers have made the fence line and are firing back; Russian shooting was pretty poor early, and the French wasn't, so some jaegers went down!

The Russian jaegers got into a firefight with both some voltigeurs in the graveyard and the carabiniers behind the fence line (above), and lost a few early to Andy.  When his musketeers finally got into the fray, they found amidst the abandoned Polish tents and gear, the maps!  Cain assigned one guy to run them back to HQ while his musketeers hunkered down behind some soft cover (haystacks and tents) as the carabiniers tried to pick them off.
A view from the other side of the table (that's my hand posing) courtesy of Keith of KEGS.

Then, however, despite my warnings, Andy moved his commanding carabinier sergeant into the firing line and got promptly picked off by a volley of rifle fire from the jaegers.  This sent his force backwards, and eventually off the table, as he thought he'd had enough VP, between the dead Russians and the mid-level VP prize he'd found (3 VP). 
The endgame with the French falling back and the Russians come out from behind the hedges to take the fence and chase them off.

Unfortunately this allowed the Russian musketeers to move up and start dropping more French figures from both forces, which eventually widened Cain's lead.  And that's about where it ended, with the French leaving the table and the Russians holding the field and knowing Napoleon's plans for the day.  I'm sure it changed the entire battle of Leipzig!

The game went well, both players got into the Ganesha Games activation cycle easily enough, and it was pretty tense until Andy brought that sergeant up.  Oddly, two of the five potential locations never even got spotted, one because Cain never went to his left, and the other because the chateau and town hall were never searched (Andy did search the church).  It was nice getting my Russians out for a non-winter scenario, I do need to get some more French late-period voltigeurs painted so I don't need to mix in Spanish-era guys for these four player scenarios.

Saturday afternoon I played in the Battle of Salem Church in 15mm with Carnage and Glory II rules. They're a computerized set of rules, where all the factors and unit names get inputed and then only a general sense of the outcome comes out to you as the brigade or divisional leader.  It creates a unique fog of war; some people don't like not rolling dice but I didn't mind that.  My biggest challenge was just making sp,e decisions without really knowing whether they were a good idea under these rules or not (e.g. attaching a leader).
Big view of the Battle of Salem's Church, relatively early in the battle while the Rebels hold the middle of the table still. 

My forces to the left of the road, just as we start to move forward.

Well, to be honest, my bigger challenge was not expecting the Rebels to come off the hill and meet us Union types in the valley.  They caught us a big off-footed, and my smaller, skirmish-y regiments were out in front and my heavyweights were further back and never got to be the hammer they were supposed to be.  Meanwhile, our centre faced the weight of the Confederate push, and our reinforcements never got into the battle before the Union called a halt to the day and fell back, other than their battery got some shots off.  The Rebel reinforcements didn't get into the fight much either, other than as targets for our guns.  I suffered the shame of losing the battle standard of the 5th Maine...
About mid-battle, we've seized the fence and my forces are swinging to our left to be the hammer.  Unfortunately they couldn't even do the impression of a good anvil...

In the evening was the traditional free-for-all western gunfight with everybody left at the convention (about 16 or so this year).  I did better this year, lasting until about the middle of the game, waxing a couple of scoundrels before Brian (the guy who got sunk by the kraken Friday night!) came after me, and after we both did little damage to each other at close range, he ran up to me and from point blank range, also did little damage, but it was enough to finish me off.  I do hold grudges :-)
Wild west town! 

Me skulking around the building like the coward Robert Ford.  I would eventually shoot down Barry, who's figure is behind the sandbags, but only after he'd massacred some gunslingers in and around the buildings to the top left. 

My final moment, as Brian manages to Light Wound me to death.  I did actually go elsewhere in town, I just ended up back here to meet my maker.

Enough of us were willing to stick around for another game that we were able to have a five-on-five gang battle for the western town, fighting over the train.  I was the last guy standing from our gang, unfortunately I was up against four survivors from the opposing gang.  Well, I briefly faced four opponents, as one had broken his leg falling off the flatbed train car, and his "buddy" finished him off to save splinting the loot.  The same player had just shot his father in the head to eliminate my last teammate!  It's a hard life in the old west!  In the end it was Andy shooting me in the stomach to finish me off and make me dramatically fall off the train engine I was on, Jackie Chan-style.

So those were my games, either hosting or playing.  Elsewhere at the con there was a lot of Hobbit Strategy Battle Game action, some Friday night in a separate room, and then a day-long tournament in the main room, with eight (by my count) tables, plus a regular Middle Earth convention battle. Both the morning and afternoon sessions had a lot of high quality games, when I had to choose for Saturday afternoon, it was tough between Carnage and Glory, Big Chain of Command, Sharp Practice 2 (though I think it was full by the time I made it to the sign-up table), and a homebrew modern Afghanistan game with Canadian forces vs. Taliban (presumably).  There was also an all-day X-Wing tournament going on, and open board gaming tables.  There's probably more I missed too, and several good looking games in the morning.

The Ontario Hobbit Adventure/SBG tables were specactual, this series of photos captures the eight tournament tables, unfortunately I didn't get a shot of the bigger battle one.








KEGSCon wraps up my convention attendance for the year, there's one left this fall but I have a football conflict.  I'm also going to miss Hotlead next March, so Broadsword V in May is probably my next one.  I'll really miss Hotlead, but I am looking forward to a bit of a break from needing to get stuff done for a convention and I can meander between projects and work (again/still) on 6mm WWII and Kaiju City terrain - which are supposed to be my main projects at the moment!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

No Sword Like a Broadsword

As my last few posts should have made clear, I was down in Hamilton this past Saturday for Broadsword 4, put on by the Hamilton Tabletop Gaming Society at the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Veterans Association.  It's a one day convention with a mix of miniatures and boardgames, and some that blur the line between the two, like my friend Mike's game of Conan.

After an early start, I picked my friend Ron up along the way, he was putting on a game of his homebrew 6mm operational level WWII rules (which I played, so more below), and we had a fairly decent drive into Hamilton.  Much better than the drive home!

Getting there we hobnobbed a bit with some of the other early arrivals that we knew and ran into Robert who we'd met at Hotlead in March.  I later learned Robert had built his own 1:1 scale Dalek and I'd probably seen it at the Ottawa Comic-Con last year!

I'll start with the games I played in, which were the morning and evening sessions, before I get to the game I ran in the afternoon.

First up was a game of Might of Arms with Mike M., set in the Northern Crusades circa 1197, which the Danes coming to civilize the poor, pagan (yet heroic) Estonians.  As you can probably tell, I was an Estonian, holding the right flank with Ralph on my left.  Mike and Dan were against us.  We had a stream with a lot of woods and rough round around it to use as our defensive line, and we made use of it, only our left flank had a gap in it between the wall of our village and the stream.
 My part of our line, before we actually put our troops into position.  I had a five medium infantry units, three went to defend the river line, two on the hill as reserve.  My five or six skirmish units either went in front of the mediums to chip away at the incoming Danes, or on a wide right flanking maneuver, eventually coming at the Danish subheavy foot from the flank and rear.

 The view toward's Ralph's side of the table, again before our final set-up.

 The lines are starting to meet, with the Danish mounted knights coming up against Ralph's heavy and light horse.  Mike is bringing his infantry in behind, and Dan (the Danish left) is angling some of his infantry to the right to hit our entire line.

 Dan's subheavy foot have gotten through my skirmishers, though some are still behind, firing into them when they can, and Dan's trailing unit is about to have guys on three sides firing at him.

 The Estonian left at the end of the game.  A hole was punched into our line and the knights were a-coming in against our rear, but their right had totally fled the field and we had our whole reserve to deal with them if we hadn't called the game at the point (an Estonian win!).

My side of the battlefield at the end of the game, after the Danes had routed away.  My skirmishers nickle and diming them on their way in, plus the defensive advantages of the stream and rough ground were more than the attackers could bear.

After that game, I checked out RAFM and 6 Squared Studios, who were there as vendors.  I didn't need any bases from 6SS this time, after making that buy in May, but from RAFM I was able to pick the two packs of Crucible Crush Pulp Figures (sculpted by Pulp Figures' Bob Murch), which included a guy who looks an awful lot like Silver John, from the awesome series of stories by Manley Wade Wellman (greatest name in the history of names) and another guy who looks like he should be a night stalker in 1970s Chicago, if you know what I'm saying...  I also picked up an old west store which will be perfect for my 1885 Riel Rebellion project, it looks a lot like one of the (or the only) store in the old pictures of Batoche.

Blackfyre Productions also had a great-looking table (I think they had two) as they're part of the Ontario Hobbit Adventures society (?) / collective (?) that plays Middle Earth SBG:  Ents vs. Uruk Hai:

Jumping ahead to my evening game, I played in Ron's WWII game against Robert, this one generically representing part of Gazala in 1942.  I was the defending British, Robert was the attacking Italians (it was his choice!).  Ron's game is area-movement and card-driven, the cards letting you move and shoot, or use artillery/air power, or some special events (like engineers putting down minefields).

I only got a couple of shots of the game, here's things near the beginning:
 The town and entrenchments are under my control, I've already lost a truck to long-range fire.  The Italians are in the distance, trying to spot my weak point.

This is at or near the end of the game, as the Italians ran out of time (cards) without taking any part of the town.  They'd done a good job of swinging around my left (the red smoke markers are where their vehicles died; yellow are my dead vehicles), but a carefully placed anti-tank minefield made them take the long way, and a spoiling attack I made with my Bren carriers really distracted them.

Now back to the afternoon, where I ran a game of Song of Drums and Shakos, "Out of La Marisma".  A squad of French hussars and a full squad of French carabiniers tried to seize a crossroads and road exit from British rifles and light dragoons in 1813.  There was a lot of rough terrain on the board, which channeled things a bit, but it was also the debut of a few buildings I've bought/built/painted over the last while, including a Spanish windmill only finished the Thursday before!

Robert played in this as well, commanding the French hussars, and also on his side was Harry (with the carabiniers).  The British rifles were under the command of Dan S., and my friend Brian from KEGS had the light dragoons, who had to wait a couple of turns to saddle up before they got into action.  The French victory conditions were to either take the crossroads by clearing the mill and granary of the British, or get a certain number/type of troops off the western exits, or just drive the British off the field completely.  The British had to stop all of that from happening.

The British rifles set up with their marksman hidden in the windmill, three riflemen in the mill on the second floor, and Lieutenant Lovecraft (it was a Mythos themed convention!) and three more riflemen were around the bridge.  The light dragoons, under Sergeant Reilly were saddling up behind the granary.

The French hussars decided to ride along the small trail to the main bridge, while the carabiniers would take the southern road towards the windmill.  
 This is about where things turned really wrong for the French, the riflemen in the open had moved into the swamp (good protection against cavalry!) and the riflemen in the mill had clear targets.  Also, the French carabiniers were rolling terribly!  About four turns in a row either the officer or the group he was ordering rolled a turnover.  They barely budged and the hussars were hung out to dry.

 More from that moment, you can see the smoke coming out of the mill.  And things get worse for the French as the light dragoons are up and on their mounts.  I really wanted this shot though to show off the windmill!

Near the mid-point of the game, despite the near-destruction of the hussars (4 out of 5, including Lieutenant Tindalos), the carabiniers are opening fire on the combined light dragoons and riflemen who are still out on the field.  Everyone's trying to hide behind shrubberies!  The riflemen soon retreated to the granary, and the light dragoons behind it to regroup and await the French moving towards the road edge.  One trait I gave the light dragoons to help balance things was Individualistic, meaning they couldn't be activated as a group.  It worked pretty well (and is pretty historic), though it frustrated Brian!

 Another shot from that moment in time.  The French were still rolling some really ill-timed turnovers!  The British had a couple, but nowhere near the frequency of the French - and all pretty troops had Elan, which with an officer or NCO meant they only needed to NOT roll a 1!  I'm also showing off my new roadside cross here, from Hovels.

The end game for the French - they've gotten close, but between some fire coming from the granary and their decision to tackle the light dragoons hand to hand, their end was nigh.

And that's a wrap for me at Broadsword 4 - a lot of fun at my second time at that convention, it was good to see a lot of friends again, and make some new ones.  I think my game went well, probably one of my best jobs at GMing, and SDS seemed to be popular.  A couple of the guys in the game had really wanted to play some Ganesha Games live and this was their first chance.

A few other AARs from Broadsword have shown up already too:
and on Facebook, the KEGS page.