Sunday, July 26, 2015


Our garden was left a bit untended during last weeks Historicon activities....

and we have a surplus of produce including two big baskets of tomatoes.  My wife and I made tomatoe sauce all day on Saturday and now we've got about a gallon to freeze.  MB finds a mix of the Roma's and cherry tomatoes makes the best sauce.  I find whatever she makes is an angelic ambrosia and worth every ounce of effort.

Maybe not directly related to miniature gaming but like armies, we gamers do both travel and paint on our stomaches!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Histporicon 2015: My ACW Battle Game in Review

On Friday (July 17th) Mike and I ran our second game - a fictional land battle pitting a combined CSA / British Intervention Forces (BIF) against a Union army.  The objective of the game was simple - the CSA/BIF had to exit two regiments off the road near the church (bottom center of the picture).  We used the Longstreet ruleset which I both like to play and find very easy to use in a convention setting. The rules aren't as detailed or realistic as Regimental Fire and Fury but still give a great game.

Opposing the CSA/BIF force was a Union army of 16 infantry and 2 calvary regiments plus 5 artillery batteries spread across 4 players - 3 Brigade commanders and an overall CIC.  Pictured here is the left flank Brigade - one of it's infantry regiments is in march column just to the right of the picture.

The Union center was held by a Brigade of Irish regiments, who were just aching to get a crack at the Brits.  Also pictured is the reserve brigade that was under the command of the Union CIC.  There's an artillery redoubt in the small hill with pine trees in front of the reserve brigade.
Lastly, the Union's right flank was defended by an infantry brigade and some artillery positioned on a large hill.

Opposing the Union was a large CSA/BIF force that numbered 20 Infantry and 3 calvary regiments.  They were a bit short on artillery having only 3 batteries.  Pictured are two CSA infantry brigades on the CSA left flank.

The other flank featured a very large BIF force - look at the pretty uniforms but can they fight?  Oops - this picture was taken before Mike arrived with the British Lancers so they're not in the picture!
Lastly in the center was the CSA reserve force which would be thrown into the battle by the CIC at the outset - there will be no holding back on this assault!
Battle is joined!  Mike and I were very fortunate to have 8 great players - some of whom have played in both our past Historicon games and the previous day's Ironclad clash.  I think the most important part in having a good con game experience is setting the right tone and havinf a good set of players.  Mike and I were very fortunate that we had all of that in every game we ran this con.

By the way, the Lancers showed up! (center, lower-left)

The BIF makes it's initial advance.  In response the Union calvary regiment runs back and dismounts in the pig sty which forms a mini fort. This was a very important move as calvary held up a few BIF battalion 4 critical turns.
In the center the CSA advances across the board and begins to take losses from a hail of artillery fire.
Both sides are loosing stands to artillery and rifled musket fire
The BIF lines up it's lancer for a charge...
and begin to wear down the calvary unit holding the pig sty.
A view from the Unions lines - that's a lot of grey coming our way
A whole lot of grey...
Confederate losses mount as the initial assault is thrown back
With the Pig sty cleared the BIF begin to push the Union blocking force back
It's being to look dicey for both sides as regiments begin to break.  In Longstreet when a regiment is reduced to one stand it's removed from the game

The final rebel assault break the Union line just as the BIF force a crossing of the river.  A battered rebel regiment makes a break for the road - with only two stands the next loss will result in it's breaking.  Unfortunately for the web's theres a single Union gun right in front of the unit.  The gun fires a round of canister at the rebs and scores three hits.  All the Union player needs to do is roll at least one 4+ out of three dice rolls for the hits.

The Union roll the dice and gets a 1, and then a 3 and then a 1!  No kills and the regiment makes it off the table.

At that point we declared the game a rebel victory and all the players cheered the result - it was a grand game and a lot of fun to run.

I was very surprised the see that Mike and I got an award for this game also.  I know the PC thing to do is say "aw shucks..." but I was really pumped to get the award.  Mike and I put a great deal of effort into getting ready for the con from painting minis to making all of the terrain - everything on the table scenery wise was made in the past three months.  It was very gratifying to get some recognition.  I know, I know I sound like an ego maniac.

Later in the evening we ran the game again and had some of the vendors join us - specifically Ed and Jaimie from Architects of War and the guys from Trenchkworx (they make THE best 28mm 3d printed and resign tank kits).

We ran the same scenario but...
The game ended in a decisive CSA/BIF victory as the Union decide to counter attack in the center and lets just say it didn't go well.  Then again, if the attack worked it would have gone down in gaming legend so I say it was the right move just with the wrong dice rolls!

Historicon 2015: My Ironclad Game - A More Detailed AAR

On the first day of Historicon (2015), I ran my American civil war ironclad game twice.  The scenario was rather simple - the combined British / CSA fleet had to escort 4 transports off the map.  The Brit/CSA fleet consisted of the HMS Warrior, Hector and Scorpion and the Stonewall, Tennessee, Richmond, Columbia and Gaines from the CSA navy.  The four transports (steamboats) are in the center of the formation.  Opposing them is a Union fleet that consisted of 2 Saccacus class double enders (paddle boats) in the center, four monitor ironclad in the upper left and the New Ironsides, Hartford and two escorts to the right plus the fort.

The Union fleet was much slower than it's opponents and had less firepower - at least on paper it did!  Along the right side of the game mat are the ship data cards which I laminated so it's easy to erase them.

Opening moves as the confederates begin to approach the gap.  Each side had four players so  8 players in total and often had 10 + people watching the game.  The game was played using the Sail and Steam Navies ruleset.
A narrow miss between the Warrior and the Stonewall.  Yes, the Warrior is scaled appropriately - she is a huge ship with lots and lots of guns.

The most critical move of the game involved the USS Shamrock gets tangled up with the Warrior and slowing her down.  This ended badly for Shamrock but also effectively took Warrior out of action for a few critical turns.
The Union fleet tries to plug the gap.
The confederate ironclads try to maneuver around Warrior to get into the flight
The confederates make a critical mistake and leave a gap in the center of their formation which allows easy access to the transports for the Union monitors.
Seizing the initiative, the Union fleets makes for the center and those oh-so tempting ironclads.  Wolves amongst the sheep as they say.
A few rounds of gunnery and the transports are rendered to smoking hulks - a decisive Union Victory!

As mentioned in an earlier post the game was given an award, which was very unexpected.  More importantly, all the players seemed to have fun and 4 of them convinced me to run the game again in the evening since I had the table all day.
The second game was a lot more involved as the most of the players were experienced with the system.
The CSA kept their transports back this game and didn't leave a gap in the center - much better fleet management.
Furious action in the center with the Warrior pounding the fort into submission

The Hartford managed to slip past the Warrior and despite being down 2/3rds of hull points and surviving 2 ram attacks managed to drive off the transports given a very, very marginal victory to the Union.

I was very pleased with how the game went and the players in both versions seemed to have a great time.  If I was to run the game again I would likely increase the number of player to 6 per side and reduce the number of ships each controls down to one or two.  While S&SN's is a relatively easy game, it can be overwhelming to a brand new player.  The laminated ship cards worked really well.  The terrain also got a lot of compliments which was surprising given how simple it was.  The gaming mat is just a 10 foot by 5 foot roll of marine grade vinyl (used for boat cushions) which just happened to come in a great "water" color.  From a logistical aspect, Naval games are a much easier to put on than the "big battle games"!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Historicon 2015: Closing Thoughts & Other Gamess

I've returned from another Historicon exhausted but extremely satisfied _ this may have been one of the best 'con's I'ver ever been too.  I'm sure there's a little ego in there as I'm pretty stoked that all the hard work Mike and I put making terrain and painting mini's paid off in both our games winning awards.  I also realized that I like being a GM more than a player at a convention and will focus more effort on that that role by running games on every day.

I've just finished unpacking the troops and am please to report that all mini's made it home safely with the exception of one confederate rifle being broken but a quick dab of plastic glue and it was good as new.  I was shocked that the broken off piece was still on the unit stand.

I did play in the "By Fire a Sword" tournament of Saturday and got crushed coming in 14th out of 16 players but really enjoyed learning the system and getting a feel for the game.  I suspect you'll see a lot more of that game on the blog.  I also got to play some Armada and board games with the WWPD crowd which is always fun.  All-in-all, a great 'con and I'll be going back to HCON in July'16.  Another aspect of the convention that really stood out is the quality of the games seemed to be a lot higher than previous historicons.  I came away with a lot of great ideas on how to make my future games better (hopefully)!

In the next few days there will be some more detailed posts on both the ironclad and ACW battle game Mike and I ran but for now here are some pictures of games that caught my fancy...

Bolt action Pacific beach hopping
A huge "By Fire and Sword" game.  I really like the command control mechanics

A wonderful hill fort being assaulted by Romans in 15mm - really superb work

'gotta love the battering ram
A big Waterloo game

Double sided Island assault - side A
And side B

Ernie ar Architects of War ran a big Napoleonic game in the vendor hall which was just beautiful.