Saturday, October 15, 2016

Northern Conspiracy October 2016 Game Day - French & Indian War

This past Saturday, fellow Northern Conspirator and friend Earl hosted our club's game day. The theme for the day was French & Indian War. Earl provided all the terrain, figures and scenarios for the entire club to game all day - two sessions, three games each session. This was a Herculean effort and Earl pulled it off beautifully! Fellow conspirator and blogger Ed M has also written up the event on his blog, which you can read here.

There were two teams of six players on each team, the French (shown left) and the British (shown right). I'm missing from the British photo as I was taking the photo.

The British pulled lots for which table they would play on. Bob and I pulled table three. The mission was for the British to protect some supplies on two wagons and three animals, while the French were tasked to take those supplies and burn the British fort nearby.

Ralph and Chris were our opponents. Ralph headed for the fort to commit arson, while Chris started to approach our supplies through some light woods. Bob (shown left) defended the supplies while my Indians and British regulars attacked Chris' Coreur De Bois. Fortune was with me early in this game. In a system where you roll for 6s to hit enemies in cover, a Yahtzee in 6s is pretty deadly. I also had more than my fair share of hits in my second round of fire. Chris took it like a consummate sportsman, but the early damage really sealed his fate. Ralph had to cross a wide expanse of open ground to get to the fort and fared similarly on his side.

Other round 1 table photos:

In Round 2, Kevin and I pulled table one against French Players Phil and Ralph. This was another scenario where the French wanted to burn down all the British stuff. The French wasted no time in burning three fields of crops and two buildings. They also killed several civilians and obliterated two full units of local militia, while Kevin's British regulars and my Rangers rushed to oppose them. We called time with the game split 18-22 in favor of the British. The French thought future gains would be tough due to all the burning fields blocking most avenues of advance, but from our side I think my Rangers were in serious danger of being obliterated very quickly by the French numbers. I'd call it a draw at best. Likely given a couple more turns either side could have turned the game with some good shooting rolls.

Other round two game photos:

Anyone who's run even a single game at a game night or convention knows how much work it is. I cannot even imagine running a whole game day alone. Earl did a great job at pulling off a great event for the club. Thanks Earl!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Wright Con - 2016

This week I turned 50. Last Friday my wife surprised me by arranging for my three best board gaming friends to 'camp in' for the weekend at my house and play marathon board games all weekend. Lori cooked quesadillas for dinner on Friday, had continental breakfast set up in the mornings and cold cuts for lunch. She even had commemorative T-shirts made up for each of us and an additional different board game themed T-shirt as a gift for each of us!  In the past we've played games all weekend and we always name the event after the host's home, so this one was "Wright Con 2016". Just to make it official, she even had the banner in the photo made. I can honestly say, it was the best birthday I've ever had.

Mike and Scott showed up late Friday afternoon to surprise me as I came home from work. I was actually feeling under the weather and home sick from a 5-week virus, so the surprise was less sudden, but none the less special. As usual, Scott kept impeccable notes of the gaming while he was there. The last two games are from my memory, so scoring will be less accurate. While waiting for Josh to fly in from a job interview in NYC, we played some smaller 'filler' games, and Mike and Scott taught me some new games I hadn't yet played.

We started with a new game to me, Roll for the Galaxy. This photograph is from later in the weekend after Josh joined us. Roll for the Galaxy is an interesting game where you start off with a small number of dice which garner you opportunities to play in each of the game's phases. You choose one phase that guarantees one phase gets played and you also play in phases your opponents choose. As the game progresses you acquire control of worlds which increase your dice and make them more efficient. We all enjoyed this and played it several times. These first two games scored as follows:

Game 1: Allan - 30, Mike - 25, Scott - 21
Game 2: Scott - 35, Allan - 33, Mike - 29

Game three was Caribbean, a fun game of bribing pirates with rum for control of the Caribbean's ports. The game has quick to understand mechanics and fun pieces, but the game within a game is out witting your opponents with your moves. Mike and Allan battled for DFL as Josh likes to call it, dead freeking last. Mike secured second with some brutally good moves.

Game 3: Scott - 41, Mike - 26, Allan - 25

Game four was one of my new favorites for 'Quick and Easy' games, Age of War. This one is great for gamers and non-gamers alike. In addition to being fun and fast to play, the box is small. This is one game I keep a copy of in my RV for playing with new friends at the campground. All that and it's very reasonably priced. This is a dice rolling game where you battle for control of groups of regions represented by tiles. The theme is feudal samurai Japan. This game was new to both Mike and Scott, but the scores sure don't show it. They brutalized me!

Game 4: Scott - 15, Mike - 13, Allan - 8

Games five and six were King of Tokyo. A fun 'fist of dice' rolling game with a movie monster theme. Think Godzilla vs King Kong vs Mothra.

Game 5: Allan - win by killing all other monsters
Game 6: Allan - win by killing all other monsters

Josh arrived and after a quick meal we got to four-player gaming. Game seven was another new game for me, Lords of Waterdeep. This is a board game where the players compete as lords hiring warriors, thieves, clerics and wizards to complete quests for them. The more quests you hire workers to complete, the more points you score. This is essentially a resource management game with lots of interesting mechanics. We all enjoyed this game a lot and played it several times.

Game 7: Josh - 110, Allan - 101, Mike - 93, Scott - 85

It was close to midnight so we retired to the basement, fired up the PlayStation 1 and played an old favorite of ours - Micro Machines. Still feeling under the weather, I retired early. Scott, Mike and Josh played a few games - no scores logged for this.

Saturday morning, the guys humored me and helped me play test a board/card game I'm working on which is a conversion from a wargame campaign system, called Protector of the Realm. I've replaced the tabletop wargames with a quick card combat system. I got a lot of good feedback and I definitely have some adjusting to do, but the guys seemed to have fun and we were able to play a game to completion without any major hiccups.

Game 8: Allan and Josh tied - 61, Scott - 58, Mike - 46

For repeat games I will just list the results from now on.

Game 9 - Lords of Waterdeep: Mike - 133, Josh - 114, Allan - 98, Scott - 97
Game 10 - King of Tokyo: Allan - 20 (victory point win), Scott - 13, Josh and Mike tied - 3
Game 11 - King of Tokyo: Scott - 22 (VP win), Allan - 11, Josh - 9, Mike - 6
Game 12 - Roll for the Galaxy: Mike - 33, Scott - 30, Josh - 29, Allan - 27

Game 13 was a favorite of ours we've played before, Endeavor. Endeavor is a resource management game with a global colonization theme. You explore, settle, trade with, enslave the peoples of and govern regions around the world.

Game 13: Mike - 61, Josh - 53, Allan - 45, Scott - 44

This brought us to about 11:30 pm, so we retired to the basement to play another round of Micro Machines - this time four player. I cannot remember who won, but Mike, Scott and Josh all had scores in the 550-600 point range. I think I ended at 140 points. I never owned a PS1 or played Micro Machines except during other 'Cons' so I got schooled! 

Game 14 was the last new game of the weekend, 7 Wonders. As the name suggests, players compete to build city wonders in the ancient period. In three ages players develop the economy and resources to build wonders and military. Scores are based on decision making during a card passing mechanic. You start with a hand of 8 cards to choose from. You pick one to play and pass the rest. The chosen card is played and then the process is repeated. The game plays quickly and there are mechanics that interact with your neighbors in card play, trading and scoring so strategy and player interaction are there. Games play in well under an hour which is nice.

Game 14: Mike - 56, Allan - 52, Scott - 47, Josh - 40
Game 15 - 7 Wonders: Scott - 52, Allan - 48, Josh and Mike tied - 47
Game 16 - Lords of Waterdeep: Allan - 113, Josh - 99, Scott - 91, Mike - 73

Scott had to leave so Josh, Mike and I finished up with these games, scores from memory:

Game 17: Lords of Waterdeep: Allan - 125-ish, Josh - 107, Mike - high 90s
Game 18: King of Tokyo: Josh win by killing all, Allan - 18, Mike - 7

Total wins:
Allan: 6.5
Scott: 5
Mike: 4
Josh: 2.5

My wins were mostly padded by King of Tokyo, which has a HUGE amount of luck involved. I'm still scratching my head at how I dominated a luck-based game, but heck, even a broken watch is right twice a day. If you take out King of Tokyo, the scores look like this:

Mike: 4
Allan: 3.5
Josh: 1.5

Considering Josh's travel spotted the rest of us four games, these scores are mighty close with Scott and Mike scoring the same amount of wins - congratulations guys, and thanks for the incredibly fun birthday weekend.

Blog note, I'm only counting the weekend as one game in my 'games played' count to the left, just so it doesn't artificially skew the war gaming numbers for the year.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Uniform Uniforms

While looking at the photos from our club's recent trip to Fr. Ticonderoga's annual AWI reenactment it struck me that the photographs of this pair of American skirmishers were wearing the same uniform, but when looking closer the differences in the color of the uniform jacket, the wear and dirt on the white trousers and the difference in the equipment was striking. I noted this to our club's mailing list and the discussion was quite interesting - interesting enough that I thought sharing the photos and some thoughts here might be of interest to the readers. 

One of our members discussed the uniform differences with the reenactors. They cited that uniforms and cloth were sourced continuously and often not from the same source. Dyes were not standardized until the mid 1800s, and of course fading due to wear, sun exposure and washing all take their toll. At least up through the black powder periods, these are all excellent reasons to vary not only the shades of your uniforms, also the base tones. The thing that struck me the hardest is that the coat on the right is a more reddish brown than the one on the left. It's not just newer and brighter, it's a completely different tone.

I hope to experiment with this a bit on my next AWI unit. I encourage others to do the same.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Carthaginian Generals (2)

Recently it became apparent to me that my Carthaginian army has reached a size that has out grown the number of command stands that I had previously painted for it. Rummaging through my unpainted ancients lead box I found the last unpainted Carthaginian figures that I own - a pack of Old Glory Carthaginian Generals - perfect!

I've painted these up as two army level commanders with two figures per stand, and two wing/division commanders mounted one figure per stand. Some of these figures are obviously from Old Glory's Carthaginian cavalry molds, so I painted them up as runners/assistants and attempted to match the Carthaginian citizen cavalry I previously painted. I wanted them to look like they were pulled from those ranks.

The brown horses are my first try at a new painting technique. They were white primed and then 'painted' with successive ink washes. This includes the base color, hooves tails and manes. Only the tack and one white blaze on one horse's face were applied with traditional acrylic paints. I have to admit, they painted up very quickly this way and I'm just as happy with them as other horses painted using the traditional method.

With half of a Roman army left to paint and a whole Pyrrhic army to paint, I'm happy to finally once and for all to call the Carthaginian army finished. At some point in the future I may array the entire army on my table and make a short video to review all the troops. It should make for an impressive sight. Next up on the painting table are some British WWII infantry. I needed a break from ancients and some British Tommies seemed like a good choice.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

"Robbie Con" 2016

This past weekend, a bunch of us headed up to Chester, VT to game Friday-Sunday with our friend and fellow Northern Conspirator Robert "The Rouse". Robert has an old Victorian Vermont home that the company he works for has converted into a conference center. With us all chipping in a few dollars he can rent it for the weekend and game with a couple dozen of his closest friends. This was a half board gaming and half wargaming weekend. The wargaming happened on top of a ping-pong table located in the "creepy clown room" - named for the photo on the wall pictured to the left.

I messed up and didn't have my memory card in my camera until we were wrapping up and doing the AAR for our first game. Apologies to Charlie, who ran a great game of Napoleon's Rules of War - French vs British and Spanish. Ed will have plenty of photos of this game on his blog as soon as he posts his update on Robbie Con.

As you can see by the photo of my sector of the battle below, Robert did an excellent job of destroying my command which was supposed to hold the flank. The troops you see there surrounding Robert's attacking troops are ones Ralph committed from our reserve. Without them we would have been toast.

 Next up was a Galatian vs Ptolomaic battle run by Ralph using Hanibal at the Gates. Rob, Charlie and Ed played the Ptolomaics and Byron, Dave Cheng and I ran the Galatians. Dave runs the excellent convention Council of Five Nations which is coming up in a week in a half. If you're not busy check it out. In this one the Ptolomaics had the run of the barbarians. Early clashes between elephants came up all Ptolomey and the Ptolomaic cataphract and infantry battle lines held strong to combined Galatian infantry and cavalry attacks.

The final game on Sunday was Robert's house rules for Napoleonics. These rules will re-use our extensive collection of 15mm Napoleonics that are based for Volley and Bayonet. Robert's rules have a few similarities to V&B, but for the most part are a complete re-write with new combat and morale systems. Robert has done an extensive amount of work on the rules and every time we play them they get better and are more fun.

In this game the scenario was Ralph, Robert and I commanding the French and Dave, Charlie and Rob command the Austrians. We gave our largest division to Robert with a command to attack the Austrian left. Ralph massed artillery in the center in hopes to support the attack and I held the right with a lesser force hoping to buy time for our attack.

Robert's attack went in hard and fast. It also got destroyed hard and fast (sorry Robert!). The Austrians countered Robert's attack with their heavy cavalry and a series of surgical counter-attacks. In the center Ralph's grand battery just managed to hold, although it was well battered. On my flank I gave as good as I got, but with less assets the writing was on the wall, with the Austrian converged grenadiers moving to my flank to guarantee the job got finished properly. Victory to the Austrians.

Three days gaming with friends. You can't get any better than that! Thanks for a great weekend Robert.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Battle of Epirus - Part I

Last weekend a group of us got together to fight the next battle in our Mediterranean Tyranny campaign. This one is taking place in Epirus and pits the ever aggressive Egyptians, using a Roman model army with local pike mercenaries against the Greeks, who recently also adopted a Roman model army. Pictured to the left the Greek monarch Mike (in orange) and sub-commander Bob. I also helped bolster the Greek ranks as the right flank commander. Below the Egyptian monarch Rob (middle) with his ally the Levant monarch Charlie on the right, and Byron on the left as the Egyptian right flank commander.

As the Greek right flank commander I was given a fine Greek (Roman model) legion, to defend against the opponent's legion, converged Triarii and a couple of soldiers from their allied Greek command. My orders - hold out as long as I can while we hopefully could attack on our left flank were we had the superior numbers.

I had some early successes and failures. My cavalry chased down some enemy skirmishers, but then got mired behind enemy lines and ended up being destroyed. My legions gave better than they got early, but in the final two turns of the evening, Charlie reversed his losses and punished my legions heavily. If it weren't for Bob's skirmishers and Pilum attacks eliminating one of Charlie's over aggressive cavalry, the latter turns would have been all Egyptian successes on my flank. As we broke for the evening, my flank is looking quite sparse and weak. Hopefully our fresh legion on our left flank can capitalize there before my flank collapses. We'll find out when we resume the battle in a couple of weeks. At this point it's anyone's game.