Saturday, November 21, 2015

HAWKs Run Memorial "The Sword and The Flame Game"

    Friday night, and their regular meeting, the HAWKs played a memorial "The Sword and the Flame" game to commemorate the passing earlier this month of the rules' author, Larry Brom.   Many of the club members had not played the rules in over a decade, and for some of the younger members, this was their first exposure to the rules.
      GMs Buck Surdu and Chris Palmer chose to use the "Revision 1" version of the rules.  The scenario involved a British column sent to capture a Pathan fort where "Wee Willie Winkie" was being held.
     The game seemed to be a close one until the unit defending the fort failed their Critical Morale at 50% casualties, and decided to "abandon ship".   After that, things fell apart pretty quickly for the Pathans.
      Everybody had a great time, and for this old wargamer it was a lot of fun to dust off this old set and run it again.  Many of my formative wargaming years were spent playing these rules, and this was a nice trip down memory lane.
          Hopefully another decade wont pass again before we break out these timeless rules for another game.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

HAWKs Help GM an Army SLPD

 This past Monday, a group of Gamemasters from the HAWKs (Harford Area Weekly Kriegspielers) took part in an Army Senior Leader Professional Development session by running three historical wargames involving the northern, central, and southern wings of the Battle of Antietam.
Buck Surdu, in blue "HAWKs" shirt, briefs players on the rules before the beginning of the game.
    This event, organized by Sam Fuson,  was actually the culmination of of a three part exercise. Particpants had previously done a Staff Ride of the battlefield, and the senior commanders had done a map exercise to determine the actual location and arrival time for the corps involved in the battle. Some of the goals of the event were team building, leadership training, decision making, and reinforcing the principles of battle.
An overview of the room at te height of the action.
    The participants: more than 30 Army officers, NCOs and senior civilian staff, where divided up and each assigned to a table, with a senior officer or civilian taking the command of  each side in the battle, and others acting as their sub-commanders.   Four objective locations were marked on each of the tables with small flags,  The objectives started in control of the defenders, and it was the attackers' job to try and capture them.
Sam Fuson, in hat, supervises players on conducting a melee.
     The rules used for the games were, "A Union So Tested" ACW divsional level rules.   The figures used were  20mm on two of the tbales and 10mm on the third.  Game-masters for the event were myself and Sam on Table 1, which was the north end of the battlefield including the The Cornfield, Buck Surdu and Dave Wood did the center of the battlefield and the fight around the Sunken Road, and Eric Schlegel was the GM for the Southern portion of the battlefield, including the Burnside Bridge area.
Dave Wood, in blue shirt, helps a player measure an artillery battery's range
     For many of the participants this was their first exposure to historical miniatures wargaming, yet most were able to quickly pick up the concepts and rules, and after a few turns were fully engrossed in the games and the command of their units.  There was lots of friendly trash-talk among the participants, as well as table-wide cheers and groans as fortunes rose and fell.
Eric Schlegel in blue shirt, advises players on their options during the game
     Everyone seemed to have a good time, including us, the gamemasters.  This is an event that I have taken part in now for 6 years, and the eighth such event, and it is always a blast.  Thanks to Sam's efforts it is always well run.
Buck Surdu, conducts an informative AAR session on Table 2.
     At 1430 hours, Buck called the time for the games to end.  The participants gathered at each of the tables and  Buck led an after-action discussions on the outcomes for each of the games.  Commanders were questioned about their mission goals and how well their objectives were met; obstacles that arose and insights that were gained.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Another Frostgrave Cork Ruin Completed.

   I recently completed another ruin for my Frostgrave set-up, using cork tiles.  This one I designed to be a more substantially built building, so less "ruined" than the previous ones.  I used a spare Armorcast doorway I had for the main door, an old set of plaster steps for the front stairway, and a pair of game pieces from the old boardgame "All the Kings Men" for the statuary.
Test fitting the components

The walls cut out, and being glued.

The main structure painted, and now the roof and debris being added.

The finished product.

Another shot of the finished product.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Fall-In Report: Happy Birthday General Grant by GASLIGHT game

  Friday night at Fall-In I ran my "Happy Birthday General Grant by GASLIGHT" game, using 25mm figures and GASLIGHT rules.   I had only run this game once before for a friend's birthday gaming day, so was a little unsure going in to it how it would turn out.  I shouldn't have worried...
Union Dignitaries, and proud Army Cooks, pose with the huge cake prior to the Confederates crashing the party.
      The set-up for the game is this:  Union Army Cooks have made a huge birthday cake to celebrate General Grant's birthday, and have shipped it via railroad car to a small town near the front, where a small celebration is being held; with troops on parade, along with the latest steam-powered technology, and assorted honored dignitaries.
The surprise is sprung: Rebel Mole Machines burrow up from the earth, with the Whiskey Wagon right in front of them.
      The Confederates have caught wind of this event, and see it as a golden opportunity; so they plot an assault to break up the celebration.    The game was designed for 6 players, and I got three folks registered who showed up, and was able to corral three HAWKs into filling the empty spaces.
The mobile part of the Rebel force enters from the nearby woods.
      The Confederates were tasked with three objectives: kidnap General Grant,  steal the wagon full of whisky that had been brought to the celebration, and steal the train carrying the cake.   To help them, they had two steam-powered Mole Machines that would allow two thirds of their force to enter very near the Yankee celebration.
An overview of the table as things get underway.
     At the beginning of the game the Confederate players could put their Mole Machines anywhere on their side of the table behind an imaginary line drawn across the table from the top of the corn field on the Rebel left.  They placed the two machines, one right of center and one further right.  They then rolled a scatter d10 for each machine to determine where it actually came up (its tough navigating underground!) and ended up with both of them almost side by side on the far right.   They then were able to disembark one unit per turn.   The remaining third of the Rebel force needed to enter from a woodline along the Confederate table edge.
Rebel troops start to drag away the Whiskey Wagon, as the Wagon Master charges into combat with them.
    With the Whisky Wagon directly in front of them, it became the obvious first target for the Rebels, and both sides began to converge on that area.  From that point on, all heck broke loose.  A rebel unit got its hands on the Whisky Wagon, but the Wagon Master was right there, and charged into them with a vengeance, dropping Rebs left and right.  Nobody was taking his whisky!  This running battle continued for a short while, but then  a bad die roll and a rebel bayonet, and the Wagon master fell.
The Army Cooks melee with the Electro-Cannon crew.
    Meanwhile, the Union Cooks had charged the crew of a nearby Rebel Electro-cannon, and engaged the crew while they were setting up the weapon.  A multi-turn melee ensued.  With one cook, and a cannoneer locked in continual combat for almost the whole game.  Eventually the remaining cook perished when help arrived to aid the cannon crew.
Another table view as the action reaches it's height. 
      Meanwhile, General Grant had arrived to help regain the Whisky Wagon. Nobody was taking his whisky!  He charged his horse into combat, only to roll a 20 for his Scuffle and so promptly fell off his horse.  The Rebel he was fighting promptly wacked him with his musket butt, knocking him out.  A long battle for control of the unconscious general now developed.
General Grant wades into the fray (in a kepi for a change!)
    As this was going on, the Rebels had the bright idea to bring up an officer in a steam-powered mechanical suit to help pull away the Whiskey Wagon, only to have the mechanical suit fail its Sustain roll right as it reached the wagon. So, it now not only couldn't pull the wagon, it was blocking the troops that were pushing it.  Eventually the crew from the nearby Rebel Volley Cannon had to come and push the immobile officer out of the way of the wagon so it could continue to be pushed by hand.
The Air Cavalry (and Bicycle Dragoons) to the rescue! (Note the lone Union Cook still meleeing in the lower right of the photo!)
      In the end, the Rebels had gotten the Whisky Wagon safely away, but had lost General Grant to a very strong Lady Zouave trooper in the final moments.  Also, the train crew that the Confederates had brought along to drive the train away, had been ambushed and killed by the Union Dignitaries.  So the game was deemed a Union 2-1 victory.  General Grant ended up with a sore head, and no whiskey for his birthday!
The chaotic scene near the end. 
     I have to say, as a GM, this was one of the most fun GASLIGHT games I have ever run.  A perfect combination of players and events.   The outcome of all the victory conditions was up in the air until almost the end, and the many catastrophes and near-catastrophes made for much hilarity.  I look forward to running this game again at Cold Wars.

Fall-In: Saturday Morning In the HAWKs Room

    In the HAWKs room,the action began early Saturday morning at Fall-In with a room full of games and gamers.  Here are a few photos of some of the games
An overview of the room
     I was scheduled to help Buck Surdu and Dave Wood run their double-blind Road to Bastogne game, using 6mm figures and "Look, Sarge, No Charts: WWII" rules.   This was a lot of fun to watch, as gamers play very differently when they don't have the 1000 ft general ability, and know here all the enemy troops are located.
Buck Surdu, in dark blue shirt, gives the rules briefing to the players
      The game set-up was American forces pushing as quickly as possible down the road to Bastogne to relieve the trapped troops in the city.  The Germans have defenders along the road to stop them.
American forces, move cautiously towards their unseen foe
     The Americana pushed across their entire frontage and were never able to achieve a breaktrough; as the Germans continually melted back into the woods as soon as they were spotted and engaged, only to set up another defensive line a little further back.  In the end, the game was a German victory.
A look at the two identical tables for the double-blind game
  Also being run Saturday morning was Kurt Schlegel's Assault on Santa's Village game, using GASLIGHT rules.  This was a crowd favorite with both the kids and parents alike; and it was often standing-room only around the table..
GM, Kurt Schlegel, in yellow shirt, helps one of the young players.

Goblins and evil snowmen move across the town square of Santa's village
   Another Saturday morning game was  James "Tank" Nickle's Battle of Pydna 22 June 168 BC, using 10mm figures and "Bear Yourselves Valiantly" rules.
GM, James "Tank" Nickle, in blue t-shirt, helps answers a player's question

Another look at the forces engaged in the Battle of Pydna
      Also on the schedule was Kevin Fischer's Clash at the River game using 12mm figures and "Mobile Suit Gundam: The Gravity Front" rules.
GM, Kevin Fischer, in tan shirt, discusses the game with one of his players

Fall-In Friday Night: Island of the Lizardmen

  Friday night at Fall-In I ran my "Battle for the Island of the Lizardmen" game, using 10mm figures and "Bear Yourselves Valiantly" rules.  The set-up for the game is that the Dwarves have allied with the Lizardmen in order to gain access to their volcanic jungle island, to use the volcanic power to construct a super weapon.  The Elves have found about about this, and have sent an expeditionary force to put an end to it.
        The game was intended for 6 players, but unfortunately we only got 4.  So, I jumped in to fill  the fifth spot, and an Elf player took two commands. The Elves have three objectives they need to accomplish: destroy the under-construction super weapon, destroy the Lizardmen village, and destroy the Dwarves' encampment.
      Both sides have deployment problems they must overcome. For the Elves, they can only disembark two bases of troops from their boats per turn; and for the Lizards, they have to move their troops through dense jungle to meet the Elvish threat, which greatly slows them down.
   The Elven plan quickly fell apart, as many of their troops became bogged down in fighting the Lizards in the jungle, and another Elf force, attempting a flanking manure, became slowed down by a bridge crossing. Then, due to long range flanking artillery fire from the Dwarven encampment (which the Elves chose to bypass) the Elves crossing the bridge failed their morale check and ended up retreating back over it, just as they were reaching the other side.
     The unfortunate tactical setbacks, combined with very cold Elf dice, resulted in a Lizardman victory; with the Dwarf-Lizard alliance retaining control of all three objectives.
  Everyone seemed to have fun though; and as a GM, it was nice to get a chance to command a few troops on the table as well.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Buck Surdu's "Combat Patrol" WWII Skirmish, Now Availalbe

    I wanted to let my readers know that Buck Surdu's "Combat Patrol" WWII card-based skirmish rules for miniatures gaming are now available for purchase at Drive Thru Cards.   I as lucky enogh to be one of the playtesters for these rules, and can say they really are a lot of fun.
Here is a quick promotional video:

 Here are some of the features of the rules:
  • The Double Random Activation™ mechanism provides the unpredictability and drama of card-based activation without the drawbacks. This activation mechanism was originally developed for Battles by GASLIGHT and was refined during the development of Look, Sarge, No Charts titles.  The mechanism uses cards for activation but ensures that multiple players are acting at the same time.
  • No big yellow or pink chart cards cluttering up your beautiful gaming tables.  Each player needs one or two 3″x5″ cards with the information about his units, including their weapons and equipment.   Other than those, there are no chart cards.  The back of these unit records includes the modifiers for hand-to-hand combat and terrain effects on movement.  After a game or two, players rarely need to refer to these, so two unit records can be taped back to back for even less clutter.
  • Combat resolution is resolved by flipping cards.  Players read different sections of the cards in the Action Deck depending on what they are trying to do:  shooting, resolving hits, “rolling” to penetrate enemy vehicles, hand-to-hand combat, movement, and morale.  In development, I took a series of charts and then broke them apart to fit on an Action Deck of 50 cards.  Flipping a card is essentially the same as rolling a die and looking up the result on a table.  The difference is that you don’t have to do all that table look up.  Flip a card and determine whether you got a hit.  If so, flip the next card to see which target figure was hit, how severely, and whether he is protected by cover.
  • Cover is represented explicitly.  Instead of cover providing a negative modifier to hit, if you get a hit, when you flip the next card in the Action Deck, you look for cover icons.  If the target figure is in the type of cover indicated on the card, instead of being wounded or incapacitate he ducks back behind cover and is stunned.  While the use of cover as a to-hit modifier and the process in Combat Patrol™ can be mathematically equivalent, there is something intuitively appealing to knowing that the window sill deflected that round that would have otherwise hit your figure.  In play tests, this explicit representation of cover has made players make better use of cover while maneuvering their squads.
  • Messy “opportunity fire” rules are replaced by a simple reaction mechanism.
  • Somewhat randomized movement speeds based on the Guts level of the unit or its leader.
  • The G.A.M.E.R.™ engine name is an acronym for the attributes which describe figures in Combat Patrol™: Guts (morale), Accuracy (shooting), Melee (hand-to-hand combat), Endurance (how many wounds a figure can take), and Reaction.  The game master can “sculpt” a unit to fit a historical scenario.
  • Playable on multiple levels of resolution.  At the lowest level, all the figures in a unit have the same attributes.  At the highest level, each figure can have different attributes.  The levels of resolution can be mixed so that the Commando unit has more detail than the installation security personnel.  The allows games that have a historical feel as well as those with a more cinematic feel.
  • Rules for replacements of personnel and equipment between scenarios enable players to represent mini-campaigns.
  • Ground scale is 1 inch = 5 yards, pretty close to the scale of the 28mm figures I used in play testing.
  • The basic rules are just eight pages!  And that includes several pictorial examples of firing and grenade resolution that fill almost a full page themselves.
Buck has prepared a tutorial video, explaining soe of the mechanics of the rules:

The rules are free, all you need to do is buy a set of 4 decks of cards to get started!