Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Historicon 2014: Fridays' Game, One Day during the Seven Days

 On Friday, Mike and I ran our second ACW game at Historicon.  The game used the same terrain setup from the previous night but was a more traditional "big battle" style game rather than a skirmish.  I decided to use the newish Longstreet rules for the game and was extremely please with how they worked (more on that later).  While our battle was fictitious in nature it was themed the be part of the Seven Days Battles.  The first few shots show the initial set up for both sides.  The game had four players per side, with one being designated as the Commander-in-Chief (he could play interrupt cards).  Each side 18 regiments of infantry, 2 cavalry and 5 artillery batteries of 2-3 guns each.  Oh yes - there was also an ironclad for each side but these were more for show (they were GM controlled)

 The Confederate right flank featured a dug in position manned by Confederate marines.  There were three objectives in the game - best two out of three to win.  One of the objectives was held by either side and third was neutral.  The Confederate held objective was the pumpkin patch in the lower left center of the picture.  The Union held a pig sty in the diagonally opposite corner and the tree stand at the top of the center hill wasn't held by either side.

 Down the Confederate line.  All of the infantry for both sides was on the board.  The calvary regiments would enter on turn three anywhere along a sides table edge based on written down order from the respective CIC's prior to the start of the game.
 The Union line starting from the opposite side of there table features a very strongly fortified artillery battery and some regiments moving up to secure a stone fence line.

 Going down the Union line

 Longtreet is a card driven game that does a very elegant job of simulating command friction with cards.  I was a little worried it would be too complex to throw at players in a convention setting but everyone seemed to pick up the basics after 2 or three turns.  I'm sure we (and when I say "we" I mean "I") did a few things wrong, but the players seems to enjoy the game and it was a grand time.
 The Confederate general staff discussing their battle plans.  "Lets charge the hill" is a pretty good summarization!
 The Union side deep in strategic contemplation.  You can see the Union held objective - the pig sty in the lower left of the picture.

 The game commences - both central brigades make a general advance onto the hill with the Union being a bit quicker and seizing the tree top objective with a three gun artillery battery.
 The non- river flank saw extensive skirmishing at the start of the game before a general Union assault.

 The Union infantry catches up to the artillery and a defensive line is established....
 The Confederates continue to advance but their CiC has a devilish gleam in his eye.  Hmm I wonder what interrupt card he is about to play?

 Contact!  The Confederates are significantly advantaged as they playe the card ""They couldn't hit an..." which requires one of the opposing brigade commander to discard a D6 of his six command cards - the Union player rolled a 5 which left him with little ability to respond during the confederate turn.  The result was that the Union artillery battery was overrun and the Confederates gradually pushed the Union back off the objective.

With the land game going so well, Mike and decided not to add in the complexity of the ironclads and left them more as color than true game influencers.  We put them on in case one side ended up running way with the game to even out things (they have really big guns) but never needed to use them.  I firmly believe the primary role of a GM at a con game is to ensure everyone has a good time and I'm not above "re-balancing" a game if needed.  This game needed no rebalancing given the great players we had.

 The Union attacks and breaks the extreme Confederate non-river side flank.  The river side flank on the opposite end of the table actually saw very little action as both players where of a very defensive mind set.

 There was a lot of see-saw fighting for the hill with the confederates initial advantage evaporating in the mode portion of the game and then they regained some momentum and finally held the hill objective.
 Finally some movement on the river bank! but the Union advance was checked by a surprising confederate calvary charge into their flanks!
 Action in the center - many regiments where very worn by then.  Longstreet features casualty removal so regiments get smaller as the game goes on.  Each regiment was made up of 6 stands, with the exception of the LA Tigers who had 9.
 A shot of the battlefield at the end of the game.  Total losses for the Union 39 stands of Infantry and calvary vs 42 for the Confederates.  However, the Confederates firmly held 2 of the 3 game objectives and were granted a well earned "Minor Victory"


A miniature gamer version of Mathew Brady surveys the battlefield.  A lot of people came by during the game and took pictures of the setup - Mike and I received a lot of very nice complements about the game which is always very gratifying.  At the end of the day, con games are essentially more elaborate versions of "show and tell" from our elementary school days.  There are times I wonder is we ever really grow up?  I kinda hope that answer is no!

 Overall, both Mike and I were very pleased with how the game worked out.  As with our game from last night, we were very lucky to have a great group of players (a few of whom played with us on Friday also).  All of the players were more interested in having fun than "winning" so the game was easy to manage.  The interrupt card play of Longstreet can lead to some initial player frustration when they are the recipient of their first interrupt card but that frustration quickly dissipates when they get to, umm, "return the favor".

I was extremely pleased with how the Longstreet rules worked in a convention setting.  We essentially used the Longstreet "lite" version which simplifies the game but it was both easy to teach and the players were able to play the game without guidance after the third turn.  To be honest, my favorite ACW rules are still Regimental Fire and Fury but Longstreet is a very close number two and a great option for beer and pretzel gaming or cons.  It will likely be my goto rules for ACW at cons going forward.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Historicon 2014: Thursday's Sink the Tennessee! Game

 This will be the first of several posts discussing Historicon 2014.  As usual, I had a blast and really enjoyed putting on several games with Mike.  Our first game was Thursday night and was a re-run of last year's game "Sink the Tennessee" using Architects of Wars "Uncivil Wars" ruleset.  The first picture shows the table at the start of the game.  The cards in the picture are the unit activation cards - put them in a deck and when pulled the named unit gets to do something.

The game was played on a 16 foot table and had four players per side.  The scenario was a Union raid to destroy the CSS Tennessee.  The Union had two repeater armed calvary forces that were intended to delay the massive confederate reinforcements which would enter the game at the bottom of the table (time was nat a Union ally).  They also had a land based infantry force and a seaborne Marine / Engineer force to take both the town and CSS TN.  Of course, the seaborne force arrived via an Ironclad.  The Confederates had the CSS TN's crewman and Marines, some town militia, a calvary patrol and a never ending amount of infantry regiments.  Unfortunately for the confederates the crew of the TN was in town on shore leave so they needed to get back to the ship before it could escape.

 A few turns into the game with the Union forces entering the town before the confederates could react (it was night so visibility was 12 inches).
 Contact!  The Yankees went for the CSS crewman first and this would prove decisive late on in the game.  The Confederates marines did manage to get on board without many casualties and prepared to "repel boarders".
The Town militia may not have been the best quality troops but they were brave lads and went down to the last man.  The gentlemen playing them was a hoot and did a very good impression of Slim Pickens from Blazing saddles (a hooping and a hollering!)  It was a lot of fun.  At the other end of the table the Union cav did a great job holding off the confederate infantry (and decimating the LA Tigers in the process)
 The decisive movement - The confederate marine manage to throw back the Union marines after their engineers blasted open the top hatch to the TN.  Unfortunately for the confederates, they just didn't have enough troops to hold back the Union infantry - their crewman shipmates  couldn't get on board to support them.  The Union carried the ship and won the game.  We all had a great time playing the game and I was very fortunate to have 8 players who were all in the frame of mind to have a good time.

One surprising aspect of the evening was our game won an award at the con - a "PELA" which I think is given out for the best game in a particular time slot.  I think the real reason we won was the quality of the players I had - they were a lot of fun and would have made playing checkers using unpainted 40k figs seem exciting!

I really enjoy putting games on at a con, but it is a lot of work.  Mike and I have started planning for next year but all we've settled is that it will be something other than ACW - more details to follow.  Our big debate will be do we do one or two games.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

All Packed Up for Historicon 2014

 All of the miniatures I need for Historicon are packed up and ready for me to hit the road tomorrow - in these boxes are over 1,200 28mm ACW miniatures for the two games I am putting on, my Japanese Bolt Action army for the Saturday tournament (still need to finalize my list) and a bunch of All Quiet on the Martian Front stuff for Ernie to use at his demo games.

 A "custom made" transport case for my 28mm scale ironclads.  I'm sure seeing this will make the guy at battle foam very nervous...

 I also manage to repaint my terrain boards - turning the glow in the dark artificial blue that was into...

A slow flowing dark brown of the James River - rich with piedmont runoff and other biologicals from large army encampments along the river's banks upstream.  I think the boards look a lot better.  I'm glad I only put on games at Historicon 'cause it's a lot of crap to transport.

Monday, July 14, 2014

First Tomatoes of the Year!

 Yes, I know there are much more important things to blog about, like frantic Historicon preparations but there are other activities.  My wife's garden has recovered from a rocky start and has yielded it's first of, hopefully many tomatoes.  Cherry tomatoes to be specific.

 We've planted 16 tomatoes plants in two beds of 5 different species (including my favorite Roma's).  The planting has been staggered to hopefully keep us in tomatoes at least throughout the first frost in October.

 My monster tomato stalk - it's 7 feet tall and still growing.  I repainted the deer fencing this year and think it came out rather well.

 Some okra

 Eggplant - one has to have eggplant in any garden

Beets - I'm not a fan of beets but my wife (MB) likes them and I work for her.  Not pictured are the usual Zucchini, Cucumber and Pepper plants.  I had a good bit of lettuce but it went to seed so was pulled out.  It's just about time to plant brussels sprouts so I think they will be the next to go in.

My apologies for the breach in protocol by posting a non-gaming item but getting the garden in top shape was one of the tasks I was assigned to earn my Historicon pass so it's kind of related to miniature gaming.  I also use the tomatoes and peppers to make salsa for gamers during game nights so that fact makes gardening a critical aspect of the gaming life.

Friday, July 11, 2014

2014 Historicon Prep

 The river sedge sections have been completed - 5 feet of river's edge on two sections (one 4' and the other a foot).

 I'm pleased with how they came out.  I have decided to redo the water it's just too damn blue.
A shot with the Union Monitor in the picture - at 28mm these are big darn models.  Also completed on the HCON to-do list are all the player handouts / cards / charts for both games.  All that's left is some shading on 8 Confederate artillery figs and I think it will be time to start packing.

I'm also painting up a few vehicles for the Bolt Action tournament on saturday - still trying to decide wether to play Brits or Japanese.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

1 Week to Historicon and Sectional Terrain River Test Section

 Yikes - it's one week until Historicon and I'm still making terrain for my games.  At least it's better than my usual rush of painting figs for games the day before - all the miniatures I need are done and ready to be packed.  The final terrain section are some river banks that will merge Ernie's existing terrain sections with mine and form a river bank and small dock.  I've made the first pass with ground covering and I', letting that dry for an hour or so before going over it again.

 Here's a shot of the four foot section of river bank along with a dock I built in 10 minutes from scrap wood on-hand.  Unfortunately it looks like I spent 10 minutes on it so I'll need to figure a way to dress it up.

 The "10 minute dock".  I used an old model railroader trick to "age the wood" - a few drops of black india ink in rubbing alcohol.  The picture shows the results after a single pass.  Each successive pass darkens a bit more.

 The tail end of the river section has the start of a beach...
 Here's the final section (for 5 feet in total).  It boasts a beach (hmmm, I wonder where the Union waterborne force will need to land in my "Sink the Tennessee!" game).  The rocks will have some trees and maybe an Easter egg for visual detail and to add some height to the rivers edge.

Lastly, unrelated to Historicon is my rough build of a river section.  Work will have to stop on the sectional terrain project until I get on the other side of Historicon.  I am really excited about this project but have figured out some changes I need to make in my approach.