Tuesday, August 11, 2015

InCon Comox Valley - 2015 edition

a sweat soaked shirt of one of the event core team
From 1993 to 2012 there was a game-focus annual (sort of) event called Dak-Kon that ran in Courtenay.

I had the chance to be part of the event's inspiration and then to help run a few years of the event from 2001-2012. 

With the end of Dak-Kon there came a new event called InConcievable, or InCon for short.

This past weekend was their second attempt at running this event.

I was able to put on some game demonstrations, which I will post about in future postings here, for now I would like to share some items I saw at the event.

In the games space, there were 40K and Warhammer Fantasy games going on.

fantasy terrain in the Warhammer section
Along with  a series of retro-video games consoles and a couple of the latest game units using projection screens to play on.  Where else would you find Venom and Batman playing?

did I mention there was a lot of COSPlay going on at this event?

 Downstairs from the games space was Magic the Gathering.

Across a parking lot was another presentation space filled with a stage and merchant hall, and more board games tables and a children expo area along with an operations room for the core team of the event.

Oh yes there was also a lot of COSTUME Play (COSPlay) going on all over the place ...

yours truly mugging with a 501st for charity
 The 501st costume players put in a contingent that was raising funds for the local YANA association, that helps people travel and have accommodations when needing medical procedures at more distant hospitals (we are near the end of the road here).

a Mos Eisley MP on patrol in the game area

In all, given that this is a Number two attempt at this sort of event, I was happy to see so many young people come out and had whole families check out the board games and miniatures games that I had on display for demonstration game (more about them in later posts to come).

game token marker
Since the event was of the 1-2-3 series (it felt like a #1 'first time' kind of experience) I could only rate the performance of what I could see.  From that I would say that Saturday was a 6/10 for the game area I was in.  And that I did the full set of demos that I had planned, though it would have been nice to have a few more players in each game - they did come off well.  For Sunday, things were much slower in the game area, until 1 pm - which I did not mind as it let me and my son run off to see the dealers and get some photos with the 501st.  When I got back in the afternoon I did two demonstrations of the game parts and actually used all of them with one group of three boys.

Overall I believe that the event deserves another go round before I could give any clearer rating than this was a "FEAT" of work for the core team!

Friday, August 07, 2015

ECW Warr Without an Enemie - Battle of Southam (1642)

First ever play-test of the Warr Without an Enemie rules set from the Wyre Forest Wargames Club.

Jeff and I had set the plan of building English Civil War armies (I selected Parliament to start) and getting them on the table in both large and small actions.

We have done Edgehill, now for a smaller action, Southam, this time with a really new rule set; indeed it was printed in 2014 and some new changes were made in 2015.

the jumble of orders
In reviewing the rules I discovered that 'disruption points' were the critical item that we would need to keep track of on the tabletop, with 5 as the maximum number.  So I designed some quick play aids with the 1,2,3,4 around the sides of a dark square, on the 'white' side when flipped over I put a 5 in red ink with circles around it - to make it stand out that the unit was in some 'trouble'.

The rules also call for orders to be given to each unit or group of units on the tabletop, so I made up a set of cards, blank black on the back side with the orders, red for advancing or aggressive orders and black ink for the more static or retreat orders.

Then on to the tabletop, Jeff was still dealing with chemo-brain (as he calls it) so deferred to Rob to command the Royalist forces.

The scenario has the Parliament on the edge of a hill covered in hedgerows facing a Royalist force with their backs to a river, though this does not really matter as the Parliament does not have any effective cavalry being set with only Raw Pistoleers.

I chose to set up in classic horse-on-the-wings fashion, while Rob selected a more or less freestyle cavalry stacking on the flanks with dragoons on foot out front of a lone Pike and Shotte unit that the Royalists had.

The field at start

Parliament flags (double size and double numbers for this small engagement)

View from behind the Parliament lines
The first turn was just artillery cross fire, though there was no chance of anything actually happening, as these were Ultra-Light batteries manned by raw crews (-2 dice which is all they get to roll)

Turn 2 was a bit more exciting as we get to follow the complicated procedure of charge testing ...

Royalist left moves up

getting ready to charge (though not perfect as the "1" on the DP marker shows

The Parliament line stood and gave artillery fire, this time scoring multiple DP's on Royalist horse
Turn three was the clash of horse on the Parliament right.

the Royalist left wing horse, Raw Gallopers were triumphant over the Pistoleers of Parliament

the Royalist horse won the first engagement, then because they were Raw, had almost no chance to stop them running off in pursuit

Raw Dragoons (dismounted) were leading the way of the Royalist foot towards the Parliament line

while on the Royalst right, the best horsemen were getting blasted apart by the deadly cannonade

Parliament guns were having an effect in the center
The WWAE rules call for "Command Points" to be rolled for each turn, we did this in the open for this playtest game, though I suspect that such information is vitally important to not be openly shared.

The Parliament Average commander only gets a d6+1, while the Good Royalist one gets d6+2.  Close, yet often the Royalist needed the extra command to move his commander about to keep up with the needs of the wildly roaming horsemen in his force.

With the loss of the Pistoleer horse, the Parliament side now had to test for morale, not a big deal as it would only cause a 'retire' order if the roll was a 1, it was not so we continued.

turn 4, the Royalist right wing cavalry now moves to get out of cannonade

the Royalist commander had to constantly use up command points to keep moving

Parliament lines shift, to get ready to charge the line of Dragoons that were peppering the line

even a small shift like this took up 4 command points in the move and clearing off the disruption it caused
I have learned that moving any force and keeping it in good order is a near impossibility, double so if doing the moving under fire.  The "DPs" associated with wheeling and moving are horrible, made worse if you roll bad die number ('!s' in your movement)

The Royalist learned this in spades as attempting to wheel his left wing horse, they rolled double ones and not only did they not mvoe they increased their DPs by 2!

Royalist advance had halted on the left, and shifted on the right

now the Dragoons (left) started to inflict huge DPs into the Parliament Pike & Shotte

the return fire was hopeless, a charge was the only way to beat the Dragoons

given the order to charge, the Pike & Shotte unit ended up crashing into a Horse unit, then retreating into the guns, a horrible mess for the line
Losses in DPs (Disruption Points) build up until you have 5 of them, then every DP (from fire not terrain) after that causes the loss of a stand of the unit.

Melee combat could cause units to melt away fast, and units that are at 3 or 4 DPs hit by a lot of fire could also suddenly vanish almost on the spot.

The Pike & Shotte unit collapsed in the crashing about against the guns and the hedges.

This called for another army morale roll, though by now the Royalists had also lost a unit (the Gallopers in pursuit) and this also caused a number to appear for the Royalists, who promptly rolled a "1"! which called for their army to retire!  The Parliament side also just rolled their number, a "3" and this also called for a retire order to go out to all units.

Though the horse on the Royalist right were now locked in Hand-to-Hand and as such could not change any orders.

We then rolled for CPs (Command Points) to see if we could each get  our armies new orders to at least hold ground.  Well the Royalists went for a new charge order ...

By the end of the turn, there were more casualties, more DPs, yet neither side was any closer to winning.

horse of the Royalists, hit both flanks

Pistoleers managed to catch the gallopers with DPs and hold them up

end of the turn, bad rolls again came about
Now the situation for both sides was grim.

the Royalist left held up with too many DPs, the right was blasted apart by cannon and pistol shotte

view from the Parliament rear

looking from Parliament right across the field

the critical die roll
Now with both sides needing to roll over a "3" to stay on field, the unthinkable happened - BOTH ROLLED "1"

Final result: BOTH armies withdraw immediately from the field, they flee away from each other!

I think this was the most accurate result for such raw forces put into contact with each other.

Rob has since noted some more errors we made (likely in the charge procedures) yet I liked the rules and flow overall.

At all times the commander is engaged in the action - there are not many 'dull' moments, since movement and fire is not U-go; I-go.  The movement and firing are all in sections and simultaneous which makes for a more intense and dramatic set of actions.

This rule-set I shall want to play again.

 Added 16 August 2015:

Find more pictures and the point of view of the Royalist commander here <--click a="" nbsp="">


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Summer Trip 2015

I have been away to Minnesota again this summer to visit with my wife's family.

Again I brought out a set of troops for my two nephews, I was most pleased that they had actually kept the other sets I have given them in good condition (some bayonets broken and a flag pole gone - all in all really well kept for a 5 and 8 year old).  When the younger one saw the four red boxes he knew instantly what they were and inhaled with excitement, what a joy to give to someone like that!

During our time there we played many games with the boys, the usual battleship and asked for monopoly (though the younger one was really not up to using the money, so we 'faked it' with just the cards and houses.  He likes to count the dice anyway.  I also played a few games of "Tower" defense (?), with orcs and goblins and rolling boulders in a team effort.  The young ones like it and it was silly fun.

We also traveled to a few craft places and some game/comic stores.  Since time was available on the return trip I made a stop at Imperial Hobbies, where I picked up the next book in the English Civil War series.

In Minnesota I finally got to handle the new Ares Games sailing ship models for Sails of Glory.  They are a good size in plastic, yet the coloring seemed off for what I was expecting, also there did not appear to be any way to switch out the masts to show damage to sails or no sails or striking of colors.  I am still torn on attempting to follow the game for just the models, I am sure that the system has its fans, yet the problem will be getting the ships I want, beyond the usual ships of the line and frigates, Xbecs and sloops or ketches and any other barges or inshore craft are what are needed to do justice to the other than main naval forces of the era, for it was near inshore waters where the SOL were vulnerable and not enough Frigates could be made to keep then all safe at all times...

Summer 2015 loot
More humble in budget for such things right now, so only a book and much needed Molding Paste along with a silver paint to replace the one that dried out a few months ago, the last tube lasted 10 years, maybe this one will also!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Stagonia and Alpia clash again in a Victory Without Quarter

A few weeks ago Bluebear Jeff hosted a Victory Without Quarter game.
Stagonia's lines

Once again it was Stagonia vs. Alpia.

Alpia's left and Center

The game was put on to show Rob, our new area game enthusiast, what forces Jeff could field for the 14th to 16th Century.

Jeff's wonderful cards set-up in support of the tabletop
This was also a chance to showcase the Victory Without Quarter game system.

My eldest son came out to command the left wing
For me the VWQ system is a non-starter.  I understand the concept of the cards driving the action on the table, I just do not agree with the tactical results in a face-to-face game. 

Jeff's models with their simple colorful pain jobs are fun to work with
Having played many games now via email, I have learned not to expect much from any one game turn and deploy my troops in much tighter formations with little or no expectation of really moving in any sort of co-ordinated fashion.

because of the card mechanics there is the possibility of key forces never moving

indeed it was not until turn 14 that my Commander in Chief got to do anything
Tactical objectives are kept totally limited and strategy is a waste of effort.

The game was another Victory for Stagonia, my eldest son was happy to have driven back cavalry with his foot units.  Yet the face-to-face experience was not what I like from tabletop play, again mostly due to the card driven randomness of all the tabletop action.

Still fun to push lead and chat.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Many Shades of Quatre Bras

Over the past 10 days I have had opportunity to play out the Quatre Bras scenario a few times.

Ney in command at Geminoncourt Farm
With a Garden Wars game, I laid out the troops to do a solo game, to examine the battlefield and get a better sense of what challenges there were that day.

Sadly my own challenges included a call out to drive for the family, so the game was suspended early.

Then I had opportunity to do a game demonstration at my son's high school.

With four lab tables pushed together we had a fine battlefield.

field as seen from Picton's left rear, Bossu Wood to the top center of the image

Anglo-Duch lines of Pciton, with Wellinton's command just behind Quatre-Bras

The French prepare to cross the stream

By turn six the situation had gone poorly for the French attackers

Jerome was stuck in the woods

Dutch units were standing firm in the face of French assaults

French units in Bossu wood were taking hits and not pressing forward

By turn nine the situation had further deteriorated, Bachelu had retreated his whole division and Pire was not able to pick up the slack.  Picton's force was going to hold their ground.

Not all was perfect for the Anglo-Dutch though, as the Brunswick division had also retreated...

Picton had gone over to the attack to drive off Bachelu
By turn 10 it was clear that the French could not dislodge Picton's division and with the collapse of Bachelu and Pire it would not be possible to reach the crossroads at all.  We ended the game at this point.

Then on Sunday 21 June, I did a game demonstration at the local farmer's market.

smaller table, so only the center/right of the field was represented

Bachelu's Division charged into the woods in three columns

The Brusnwick force was deployed in a series of lines

The field on turn two as seen from the French left, Foy's division in the foreground

by turn five, the Brusnwick force was coming under attack on the flank, as the battalion covering the woods had fled the field, leaving a gap in the dark black line

on the French right, Bachelu had smashed through the woods and was now coming onto the flank of Picton's forces

the broken flank of the Brunswickers, their nerve gave way as the Duke of Brunswick rolled a "2" for the Division morale and they fled en-mass

by the end of the turn, Merlen's cavalry had also been pushed into action against Pire's lancers, half of the formation was gone and again a "2" was rolled ... again the result was a retreat from the field ... Wellington was running out of troops.

By turn eight the action was decided as the Guards under Picton were hit enfilade in the flank by a French column and the melee went all for the French a 6-1 die roll sealed the guardsmen's fate and Picton's Division left the field with 80% battalions broken.

The center of the field, littered with dead men & horses

French battalions surged into Quatre Bras, long before any re-enforcement could come up
Many thanks to Jeremy, and his wife, for good sportsmanship and patience on the hot day.

Now only one more Quatre-Bras game is planned for this bi-centennial year at the InCon event in August.