Sunday, March 7, 2010

Where Pigeons Dare: After Action Report

Well my first turn as a game host has come and gone. Overall, I think it went very well as there were no tantrums and I think my guests had a good time.  I did learn a lot about running a game but more on that later.  The first picture is from the German end of the board.  The US starts at the other end and needs to get up to the church and transport an item back to it's side of the table.

The US were aided by a band of hastily thrown together Resistance fighters - so hasty that their stands don't have terrain!  Unfortunately these resistance fighters did tell the US Rangers about the secret cave passage (to the left) which leads to the church!  How was I to know that Brett speaks French?  The night phase of the game ended with the US rangers and Resistance holding the church  and destroying a German 105mm artillery battery in the balance.

The US attack commences - the US force consists of two full companies of tanks and mechanized infantry and made slow but steady progress across the board.  Sometimes the bocage terrain held them up more than the Germans.  The US tank Platoon at the bottom of the photo soon found out, after moving forward a bit more, that it was a bad idea to move next to German paratroops as the para's assaulted the tanks and essentially wiped them out.

Rather than wait to be rescued, the Rangers and Resistance decided to attack the infantry platoon guarding the road.  It was a valiant assault during which all of the attackers were eliminated but the trucks carrying the package (the objective) managed to escape just before the German reinforcements showed up.

Here is a picture of the end of the game - it show the Germans crowding the church area.  The Germans managed to disable the truck carrying the device but before they could get across the bridge a well timed artillery strike managed to disable two tanks on the bridge and block it.  We called the game at that point as there was no chance for the Germans to catch the Americans and the US artillery was making mince meat of the tightly packed troops.  All-in-all is was a very close run affair.

What I learned about Hosting a Game:
The was the first time I've hosted a game and while the evening was fun I could have done a few things better.  Here are four things I came away with:

(1) Know the Rules
The game runner really needs to know the rules of the game cold.  I'm still learning the ins and outs of FOW and could have known the rules a bit better.  I think artillery was a bit too deadly in our game and thats more from my not understanding all the finer points.

(2) All the players need to have something to do all the time
My scenario had a large German reinforcing unit that came on after the US moved the object.  This sounds great when writing up a scenario but is kind of boring if your given command of the German reinforcements and it's 15-20 turns before you show up.  A better approach would have been to divide both the on board and off board German units between the two players so everyone has something to do.

(3) You can't have enough...
One can not have enough dice and tape measures around.  I had two tape measurers and roughly 30 or so D6's which wasn't enough for four players to use.  I also need to build so trays to hang off the edge of the table to hold all the gaming tools.

(4) Offering Great Food Atones for Bad Game Running
I was fortunate that my wife elected to make a wonderful dinner for us, which consisted of fried chicken, ribs, mac-n-cheese and a salad (for color only).  She also baked a cake, which is her speciality.   Gamers are very forgiving to inconsistent game runners if they are well fed.  Had there not been food, I may not have survived the night.  Of course I will pay dearly today in the gym for what I ate last night....

Lastly, to the left is a close up of the completed GameCraft Miniatures Church.  It's a great kit and I highly recommend it.  I'm going to detail it later today.


DeanM said...

Sounds like everything turned out good. Wow, those guys should've at least brought their own D6's with all the food you served them :)! BTW, I know what you mean about having the rules down - I co-hosted a game at our local convention and felt the same way. Not to mention some of the players were rule-writers themselves! Did you have any QRSs for the players? I have enough for the four players for the Sharp Practice game I'm hosting in a couple of months. I doubt that I could trust my memory for all the tables/conversions (although not many). Dean

jmilesr said...

I had printed out some game play summaries for all the players but they were all new to FOW. Overall we muddled through fine. I did mess up the artillery a bit - it was too deadly but the error impacted both sides so no game tipping. FOW is an interesting system - each of the individual game mechanics feels a bit false but they all work together and give a good feel for the period. I do like the game mechanic that the more experienced your troops are, the harder they are to hit. It really shows the staying power of well trained formations.

As for the food, well lets just say that a well fed gamer is a docile one.

On to planning the next one.

jmezz382 said...

Nice AAR ..... looks like a great table top. The food is a great moral booster for sure !

The Belgian, said...

Nice game love the massed colonne of american armor!

Also love your terraintable!

Any tips on the how to make terrain with glued on grassmatts?

I also find it hard and want to spill costly matts!


Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Excellent write up, and good take-away thoughts on hosting... I've done it a couple of times, and it's quite tiring even when you know the rules inside out!

The key of course is whether the players enjoyed it, and whether they asked you for another game - if they did, you've cracked it!

Docsmith said...

I hope your fellow gamers appreciated the huge effort you have gone to in order to stage that evenings entertainment! You're right about the food but the terrain, the scenario and the armies all looked terrific and some shortcomings aside, I'm sure all had a pretty good time! I've hosted a few myself and can say that there's always something you coulda or shoulda done better. That's the nature of the beast and next time round - you will!

But you should be congratulated for putting on a great game with some terrain that would grace any demo at any convention!


jmilesr said...

I think everyone had a good time, but as with all endeavors, there is always room for improvement. I'll be hosting another club event in a month or so and I'll improve on what we did lat weekend.

indierockclimber said...

Excellent terrain! Very inspiring, I need to make some large terrain pieces soon. I've added a link to your blog on mine, and am sorry I haven't been to visit this before! My blog is at if you want to check it out.

Thanks again for the report! I've only run a handful of games myself, and though it can be stressful I always have a great time.