Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cangames 2011 May 20-22, 2011 Part 3

Sunday May 22nd

9:00 AM Diplomacy

The original Game of Thrones, with the seven great powers in Europe. One never knows how many players will show up. It has been a while since there have been three full boards in play, the maximum that Ken plans for. This year we had nine gamers, ready for action. Ken, in his wisdom divided us into two groups, the beginners and the lying, cheating bastards. You can imagine to which group I was consigned.

 The Fall of Austria

It has been a while since I've played in a 5 player game of Diplomacy. I drew Turkey and my buddy, Stephen, who decided to come and play pulled England out of his hat. Following the initial move, it became clear that England and France had formed a Western Alliance, and I had reached an uneasy agreement with Russia. I've had a long history at Cangames playing Diplomacy with Bruce, and I am sure that neither of us felt our borders were secure.

Both Bruce and I tried to get Austria interested in a a three way deal to split the Balkans, Germany and Italy. Our initial moves were to show that we were willing to try to move around Austria but the Austrian player decided that his western frontier was more secure than the eastern one.  He pulled off two quick moves that were decidedly, in our humble opinion pro-western. At this point the graciously went into civil disorder and went off to seek another game. He said he could stay and become rapidly frustrated or bow out now. A true gentleman.

The western powers relentlessly drove east. Russia and I were slowed down but the resilient Austria offense. None of our ploys or negotiations could break the western alliance. It was clear that France was in the drivers  seat and would win the game. I laid a proposal at the Tzar's door. France will win, but I had a chance to catch up if I took advantage of Russia's lack of troops. I would grab a couple of his centres and try to batter my way into Central Europe.

 The End of the Game. Darkness blankets Europe

Unfortunately the game was called at the end of the spring move, at 1:00PM. I had just captured a centre to equal France's total and was in a position to take another from him in the fall. But the official count stood at France with 11 and Turkey with 10. The totals were based on the previous fall total.

2:00 PM Wars of the Roses: 

 My general surveys the battlefield.

Medieval Warfare – Chris Evans – 4 players – 15 mm – In the late 15th century, Lancastrian and Yorkist forces fought for control of the English Crown. Warwick, the Kingmaker, has switched allegiance and now battles Edward IV. Pick a side, and carve your way to glory!

 My General is in H2H Combat as is a unit of Men-at-Arms.
Both have suffered a hit, indicated by the white skull.
My Men-at-Arms are in pursuit.

One of the things I look forward to at Cangames is the opportunity to try out new rule sets. Ottawa has a very active miniature gaming scene and this is reflected in the number of events the Ottawa Miniature Gamers support or put on at Cangames. Hats off to the club and its members!

This day I had the chance to try out Medieval Warfare, Rules for Medieval Battles 450-1515 AD. The rules were written by Terry Gore and are published by Foundry Miniatures.

 Both of my units were successful in combat.
The enemy General has routed and his unit lost a stand. 
I remain with two casualties.
My Men-at-Arms have failed to make contact in their follow -up

What I remember is that each commander, or general of a battle (division or wing) of the army receives between 3 and 5 order chits, depending on his competence. For the purposes of this game, we had identical ratings of 5, each general in command  of 6 or 7 units. Thus one was never able to issue commands to every unit, unless it was the general all units advance.The orders are charge, move, hold, defend, retire, and recover. The chits are played face down and are reveled simultaneously by both sides.

This is a link to a Quick Reference Sheet.

There are two types of movement, strategic and tactical. Strategic occurs when units are beyond 12" of the enemy and tactical when within 12".  Strategic allows you to move further, but you cease  when you enter the 12" enemy ZOC.  Movement is affected by a random die roll when charging or routing. Morale rolls may be required by units under your command. They are determined by a D10, with modifiers. A small difference can bring you to a halt, or disorder your unit. A failure of the morale by 6 points will cause two stands of a unit to vanish.

 My archers are low of ammo.
My C-in-C has his opponent on the run as well.

Missile troops roll 1d10 for each stand firing. Handgunners roll 2d10 per stand firing, while artillery roll 1d10 for each remaining crewman. The die roll is modified by range and other tactical factors to determine casualties. Melee uses a D6 to which modifiers are added and then multiplied by the number of stands in combat. The resulting number is divided by 10 to get the number of casualties. When a unit receives a number of casualties equal to the number of figures on a stand, the stand is removed.

 The Battle goes well for the House of York.
Victory will be Ours.

All in all, I found this to be a enjoyable game. We were using units with between 3 or 4 elements (stands) each but it was easy to see that you could easily double the number of troops on the table and have no effect on the complexity of play. It is a more complex game then DBA, but if you'd like to cover a table with troops for the afternoon. It is a way to go.

7:00 DBA Open Book Tournament

De Bellus Antiquitas (DBA) 2.2 – Tod Creasey – 32 players – 15 mm – 4 rounds open book DBA tournament with NASAMW clarifications. Bring your army or borrow one of the (limited number of) loaner armies provided. Some teaching of the rules may be provided but players should be aware this is a tournament. Prize (a painted Morean Byzantine army) provided by GM.

This is the main event of the weekend for me. As I wrote in Captain's Blog earlier this year I planned to bring a Burgundian Ordnance Army with me.

The organizer has a sense of humour and in the first round, I faced the winner of  last year's tournament Vlad Kinastowski, or Vlad the Impaler as he was known. Things went well for me and I easily destroyed the Early Polish Host  that I was against.

Vlad's army consisted of 1x2LH,  3x3Kn, 4x4Sp, 1x4Bd, 3x4Bw, and 1x 2Ps. I only lost 1x4Cb while Vlad lost his General (1x3Kn) , 2x 3Kn and 1x2LH. I was thinking, good, very good. This bodes well for the evening. Alas that was my final victory for the night.

My casualties mount, including my General.

My 2nd battle was against a Eastern Roman Army commanded by a Ron Taylor, a transplanted Brit. We had an enjoyable conversation as his army  destroyed mine. My third round opponent was a fellow commander from the Face of Battle Game on Saturday morning. I believe it was his chariots (Late Hittite if I remember correctly) that ran rings around my troops, but I may be wrong. In either case, chariots did run rings around my poor boys.

Unfortunately, almost two months have passed since the tournament was held. The demands of the accounting program I am in do not leave much time for gaming reflection and I have not found all the notes I made regarding the enemies my army faced. I regret that I have not done justice to my opponents.

By the end of the night I finished in either eighth or ninth position out of the 16 players who took part in the tournament. As always it was a lot of fun and I hope to be back in 2012 for the Flames Across the Border Edition of Cangames. It will be the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cangames 2011 May 20-22, 2011 Part 2

Friday May 20, 2011

After the end of the Agira game, I joined a couple of other gamers to a quick trip for supper in Chinatown. We let our waitress know that we were on a tight schedule.

7:00 PM Junta

Junta – Noral Rebin – 14 players – Players represent various office holders in the ruling Junta. Players may attempt to assassinate the other players by guessing where they will be from among five locations If the players are unhappy, and there is an excuse, they can call for a coup, where the opposition players seek to take control of a majority of the power centers. A game of lying cheating and stealing how can you go wrong? (ends 11 pm)

 Our Friday Night Game

Junta is always a popular board game. Noral runs two tables of Junta and another couple of Samurai Swords/Shogun at the same time. First place goes to the person with the highest amount in his Swiss Bank account. Second place goes to the player in the same position in the other game

I was fortunate to arrive in time to grab the final spot at one of the boards. I was disappointed by the overall play of the table. One coup per game is fine, but beyond that you are slowing the game down, for whatever reason. The end result was that our table had one of the lowest  money scores I have ever seen in Junta.

Saturday May 21 9:00AM
After the Action Report: With Rage and Sorrow

Face of Battle – Michael Ball – 6 players – 25mm – Canadian infantry and tanks clash with elite SS Panzer divisions after the Normandy Landings in June 1944. For all the horror endured on June 6, every soldier on this front line knew the worst was yet to come. World War Two skirmish using The Face of Battle rules.

I was very interested in trying out this rule set. I picked up the rules, 1st edition either in 2006 or 2007 at a local gaming store. I have read the rules twice but I never attempted to play them. It was  great to be able to take part in a game that was run by the author. We were playing the 2nd edition. I ended up on the German team.

The Battlefield as viewed from the Canadian Edge

Near the centre of the table is a crossroads with 5 buildings/ruins. The object of both sides is to gain control of the cross roads. Three of the structures are on the eastern (German) side of the board but to compensate the Canadians start closer to the crossroads. Actions are dictated by the simultaneous draw of cards. Each player had a deck of 42 cards.

 View from the German Side of the Board

Each squad member is mentioned on a card. Command elements, NCOs or Officers (Leadership Cards) appear more often. They can use their card to act themselves or order an underling to move or fire, if they are within the leaders command range. It is a nice clean system. Having played a fair number of Combat Commander games in the last 6 months I have become a fan of the card driven system of orders. 

Some cards may be for group (i.e. vehicle movement) and other are no effect. It really adds nicely to the fog of war. As a commander you have to plan, but you never really know if lady luck will be with you. Movement is 6 inches, but you can run double the distance. This creates fatigue on the figure. Fatigue will effect your ability to preform. Your choices include using a order option to rest and remove fatigue .

In the above two photos my Squad leaves their Assembly Area (the Barn) and advance towards the crossroads as rapidly as possible. Note the generous use of Fatigue markers.

The Canadians advance at the same time.

and they have Friends.

It became a rapid movement game. The Canadians gain control of the church and the other building on the western side of the crossroads. I occupy the two ruins in front of me and begin a long and drawn out game of sniper and toss the grenade with my Canadian opponent. Luck was with me today and bullets just seem to have no effect on my squad. I'd be hit, but pass my saving throw. It was a lot of fun. While this was going on the Sherman tank was slowly advancing to take me in the flank. I had countered this by moving my panzerfaust into position to take it out. Just in a nick of time, the panzers arrive and the Sherman is brewed in a long distance duel.

As the game grows more intense, I have less and less time to take photos. It is a shame because this is such a great scale to photograph. My fellow German commander launched an assault across the road and ends up in fierce hand to hand combat with the Canadian squad he faces.

I was not as aggressive as I could have been but I didn't like the odds of assaulting a solid stone church. With the enemy tank out of the way, I was trying to move the panzerfaust into a position where I could hopefully blow a hole into the church, or at least remove the door If that works, then I'll launch a close assault. In the meantime I had taken out a second sniper in the bell tower.

Overview at the end of the allotted time. It was almost 1:00 PM and the game had to end. The German team has control of  four of the required buildings at the crossroads. I found this to be a very enjoyable game and I am looking forward to doing some of my own eastern front skirmish gaming using the Face of Battles rule set.

Mike Ball (on the left) and two of my fellow gamers. The gentleman in the blue shirt is Alex Klesen, currently in Quebec, but from Europe.  He was one of the Canadian team members. The gentleman on his right is a fellow German team member and was declared overall winner for his fierce successful crossroad attack. Thanks to all the players who made this game possible. This photo was posted by Doug Blair.

After this game I departed the con for the rest of the day. I had planned on a 7:00 PM return, but I didn't leave the BBQ I went to until after 8:00 PM. It was such a beautiful day.

Part 3 will cover my Sunday gaming adventures.

Cangames 2011 May 20-22, 2011 Part 1

Each year in May I look forward to going to the Cangames Convention in Ottawa for the Victoria Day Weekend. This year I arrived Thursday night and departed Monday evening. I'd like to thank my friends Stephen and Doreen for putting up with me once again for this annual event. The doors at the con open Friday at noon and shut Sunday night after 11:00 PM. There is a full schedule of events, with games for children off all ages, easily 8 to 80. Cangames is very open and runs the full gambit of miniatures, boardgames and RPGs.

 Sign at Entrance (Photo from 2009)

The venue of the event is the Rideau Curling Club, which is located minutes from downtown Ottawa. Last year the club was in the middle of renovations and there were problems with the lighting and the air exchange. This year, everything was ready. A bar is available on the main floor, and a kitchen with a reasonable menu (towards fast food) and hours is located in the building. Ottawa's Chinatown is just one block around the corner, and has a great selection of restaurants to choose from.

 View of the upstairs Board Gaming Area

I noticed that this year the attendance at the convention was down. My own thoughts were it was the first really nice weekend in months. We had a long, cool wet spring in southern Quebec, and Ottawa is just about100 minutes away by car from Montreal. Weather systems often roll through Ottawa before hitting Montreal. The Victoria Day weekend was perfect. I even accepted an invitation to a Saturday afternoon BBQ, instead of gaming. It was great to just sit in the sun, drink some coolers and enjoy the greens and the blues of a warm, spring day. I didn't return to the con until Sunday morning, but here I digress. 

Main Ice Surface showing Miniatures Area 

I come to Cangames with two major games I want to take part in. First is Ken Murry's Diplomacy game and the second is the DBA round robin, open book tournament. Everything else is icing on cake. Diplomacy is scheduled every year for Sunday morning at 9:00AM, and the DBA for the last two years has been slotted into Sunday evening with a 7:00PM start time. My understanding is that many of the local Ottawa gamers who take part  in the tournament run games during the convention and it is felt that having the DBA late Sunday doesn't draw away the talent pool from other events.

Friday May 20, 2011

I left Stephan and Doreen's Friday morning about 10:30PM to head down to Fandom II, one of Ottawa's major gaming stores. The only item I purchased there was a set of Warlord Games Pike & Shotte Parliament Cavalry, for only $20. Oh so many periods and so little time. I slowly made my way to the convention arriving on site by about 1:00 PM. Doors were open, and I was quickly processed, having preregistered. I sat with the latest schedule and started to plan my campaign for the weekend.

2:00 PM: Agira: The Canadians in Sicily 1943
After the Action Report

Great Battles of WWII – Patrick Laffey – 3 players – 1/285 – Sicily: With the British pushing from the south and Patton advancing from the west, the crossroads at Agria are critical. Can you, as the Canadians take it; or as the Germans hold it?

It had been a while since I played in a microarmour and I decided that this was my cup of tea. After introductions Patrick gave me the German command. I was experienced and had fewer forces. I was being faced by two inexperience Canadian (one was actually Dutch) players.

I really liked the terrain for this game. It was homemade, and looked very much as if it was inspired by geohex. It had my vote for the best terrain of the convention. Trees and hedges were abstract, as were boundaries of the towns. You were in the town, or on the edge of the town, or outside the town. For purposes of the hilltops, you were either at the edge looking down (and thus can be seen) or were away from the edge. The two Canadian players, each in command of a brigade,  either on the west edge of the board. They have to clear the road. As the Germans I can sit up as far west as the first town, on the first hill.

Agira is not seen in this photo but is further east, along the road in the lower right hand edge of the above  photo.

The view from Agira, looking west down the road. The cemetery belong the town provides hard cover, but wasn't needed in this game. Bare spots on all the hills are cliff faces and are impassable terrain in the game.

The Canadians decide to assault the hill and the town of Nissoria from two sides. The Germans are dug in and prepared. The Canadians have an advantage of a lot more off board artillery. Each turn represents roughly an hour of real time and I only have three requests for the day. I have to use them wisely. A unit take casualties and suffers morale losses. A point will come were units will call a halt to operations for the day. This is what happened to the Canadian assault as they failed to dislodge the Germans from their position.

Night falls and the Canadians regroup. I have pulled pack all my forces except an Infantry Battalion that I left in Nissoria. In the lead up to nightfall the Canadian have pushed some forces westwards in the valley to the south of the hilly region. I have set up, prepared to meet them, but they still have to clear and take the road to achieve their victory conditions. In the morning they have assumed that I have pulled out of Nissoria and move forward in column. A close assault combat results and the Canadians are once again stopped in their tracks on the 2nd day.

After two days, the Canadians have failed to take the first of their objectives. we have played for about 3 and 1/2 hours and it is time to pack up. Needless to say I had an enjoyable game. Patrick has run this game at Cangames for a number of years. This was the first year I had to opportunity to play. Merci

On that note I'll end my tale here. I'll post the remaining details of my Cangames experience this weekend.

Bonne St-Jean à tout le monde!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Conjurations Game Convention May 14 to 15, 2011

When it rains, it pours. Suddenly gaming opportunities seem to be popping out of the woodwork. According to its website this was the 13th edition of the Conjurations Game Convention in Montreal. That is about the length of time that I've lived in the city, but it was the first year that I was made aware of the existence of this con. Due to prior commitments I was only able to attend on the Sunday.

For me, the location was very easy to reach. I only had to hop on the number 55 St-Laurent (Sud) bus at the corner of St-Viateur  and 12 minutes later I was deposited outside the site of the convention. Gaming was held in the reception room of The Church of St. John The Evangelist ("The Red Roof Church"), conveniently located in downtown Montreal at the corner of President Kennedy and Kimberley (which is between St-Urbain and Jeanne Mance). Signs were located on the door, but it wasn't obvious where I should go, once I entered the building.

I joined a group of 4 players who had already started a game of Hamburgum. The game would keep me busy for  the next two hours. According to Board Game Geek ...

Hamburg in the 17th century! Mighty walls protect the city against the devastations of the Thirty Years War. Thanks to Protestant religious refugees, Hamburg has become the biggest and most prosperous city of Germany. From far away the skyline shows the steeples of huge churches and the masts of mighty trade ships displaying the citizens’ pride and prosperity. The players guide families of Hamburg in the pursuit of wealth and prestige. 

They produce beer, sugar and cloth and sell these goods with their ships overseas. They compete over the best sites for their buildings and the best berths for their ships in the harbour. But ultimately they vie for the most prestigious church donations, because neither gold nor goods, but only prestige decides the game. Hamburgum is a strategy game for 2 – 5 players without any luck of cards or dice. The actions are selected according to simple rules on a rondel. The reverse of the big double-sided game board offers another city, Londinium, a different strategic challenge.

I was the fifth player. The rules were very simple to learn and it is the third church building game that I've played. In my opinion it was the easiest to pick-up and comprehend. The other 4 players had already completed three rounds of play when I sat down, and I was allowed to catch up. It took the five of us about 2 hours to play to completion. Even if I hadn't won the game, I'd still recommend it.

Then it was time to play miniatures. It was a 20mm skirmish game called Revolutsi! using the  PUMMEL! (Pick Up Multigenre Miniatures, Easy to Learn) rule system. created by Polymancer Studios, publisher of Polymancer magazine and Polyglot. PUMMEL! was first published in 2006. The ref was kind enough to send me a copy of the rules afterwards and they can be found at the following website.

After the Action Report: Revolutsi! Chechnya, December 31, 1995

In the first challenge to Russian sovereignty since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian Federal forces are mounting a major offensive into the capital of the rebellious province in the North Caucasus. The Russians are confident that their heavy armor and superior firepower will carry the day, allowing them to reach the city center and crush the separatist rebels once and for all. The Chechens have different ideas…

 I had the command of the Russian Federal forces.
The tanks are T-72s and the APC are BMP-3s

“Revolutsi!” is a miniatures combat game taking place in the modern era. The game system being used is easy to learn (with free copies available on site!), designed for a minimum of record keeping and quick resolution of movement and combat to allow each player to focus on tactics, rather than game mechanics. 

 My Orders: Advance up the Street to City Hall and crush the opposition.
Stacked wooden blocks represent building. each block is 1 floor.
The street is blocked by concrete barriers and burnt out vehicles.

The Chechens face superior firepower. The Russians face the difficulties inherent in deploying tanks in urban areas. This is a dirty, bloody, desperate skirmish. Modern, PUMMEL! System, No previous system knowledge needed.

Before long, the street is swarming with the enemy.

The Infantry disembarks from their BMPs and cautiously 
advance up the street.
Tanks and APCs provide over watch and heavy fire support.

Enemy troops occupy building on the lower right. 
Die is used to indicate the floor they are on.
Direct fire by the T-72s have destroyed two of the concrete barriers.

Russian Federal Forces advance building by building
on the left side of the street.
Use of mouse-holing tactics developed by Canadians at the 
Battle of Ortona aid in the advance.
I cannot believe my opponent's luck.
Two RPG rounds, and two destroyed BMPs.
Good thing I already dismounted.

The face of the enemy. 

After about two hours of play, we decided to wrap up the game. It was agreed that I would not be able to reach my objective. My only real losses were the two BMPs that the Chechens brewed-up.  I had taken out about two dozen of the terrorists, but on the point scale I had lost.

Pummel! was a very easy system to adapt to. John and I solved most of our problems with a simple die roll if the ref was not available to provide a ruling. Play alternated between the two of us very quickly. It was easy to decide who would move, or who would fire. Once inside a building, we just said it would take a move to climb one floor. There was an extreme difference in vertical vs horizontal scales.

Overall the game reminded me of the late 1970s when a group of us would meet and play skirmish games on a kitchen table on Bland Street in Halifax..Alcohol would flow, and smoke would fill the room. Dishes, coffee mugs, ashtrays and beer cans were the pieces of  terrain, representing downtown Beirut, as we fought over the Beirut Hilton. Troops were plastic Airfix figures and the rules we used were a two page sheet typed up by Charles Gallagher.

My next posting will be about Cangames 2011.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My weekend at the Stack Académie Con

It has been over a month and I have not had the chance to write up about my experience at the Stack Académie Con, held April 15-17th at the Comfort Hotel and Suites Downtown. The location was very central, located just minutes away by foot from one of the hubs of Montreal's busy metro system (Berri-UQAM) , as well as the main intercity bus terminal (Gare d'autocars de Montréal).

The convention was devoted to old style paper and hex wargames. Some other games were in evidence along with what appeared to be Magic: The Gathering CCG. There were no miniatures or RPGs at this event. The con opened Friday April 17th at 9:00 AM. For people staying at the Comfort Inn, breakfast was available in the dining room located in the bottom floor of the facility. Otherwise the kitchen was closed and participants had to seek meals offsite 

The con was held in two meeting rooms located near the dining room. The dining room was undergoing renovations and it was clear that the washrooms near our meeting site had been newly renovated. I took some pictures of the sink that I sent to my roommate who writes a blog about public washrooms.  They may yet appear on her blog.

I would describe the site as very intimate. When filled to capacity (60 participants) the rooms were loud and it was difficult to freely move. Refreshments (juice, water, soda) were available and the price had been included in the registration fee. The concept behind the con was open gaming. Bring a game you want to play and find a partner.

The Montreal Boardgame Meetup Group was holding a 16 player Twilight Struggle Tournament which started in February. Once Jason Matthews, one of the designers of Twilight Struggle was confirmed as Guest of Honour, it was decided to hold the semi finals (if possible) and the finals at the con. Marc Guenette who beat me in our quarter final match (see April 13th posting) , won his semi final match but lost the tournament's final game to Edson Tirelli. I think this was the only semi-organized event at the tournament.

I'd also like to congratulate Marc Guenette on his hard work and success in organizing this con. He was able to convince the many sponsors to donate products so everyone in attendance won a door prize. I won a copy of Battles Magazine No 5 with its White October Game. Some items that were available included some of the very latest games from GMT Games such as Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Infantry Division and Dominant Species to older issues of Vae Victis Magazine, a French language gaming magazine.

Friday I arrived about noon and I was able to get three full games in. Stan Myszk and I started with Combat Commander: Battle Pack 2 Stalingrad. I did not record which scenario so I cannot add details. I am pretty sure Stan won. He and I then paired off in a game of Storm Over Stalingrad. This is a 2-player wargame simulating the Battle of Stalingrad from October to November 1942. One player plays the German army, and the other is the Soviet army. Play continues through 6 turns, at which point the winner is determined. It is a area movement game with cards used to influence and control events. Stan won the Storm over Stalingrad tournament at Cangames last year and wanted to get some practice in. It was my introduction to the game and I'd play it again. Comrade Stalin would not be happy with my performance on the Volga.

My third game of the day was against Jack Stalica a gamer from Ottawa. We played Rock of the Marne. This game covers both the final attack of the German army in July 1918, and the Allied counteroffensive that produced the battle known to Americans as the Second Battle of the Marne. The Germans believed they could launch an offensive on both sides of Reims, which would pinch out an Allied salient and draw in Allied reserves, and thus possibly produce a breakout across the Marne leading to the final drive to Paris. We played an introductory scenario with a 6 turn limit. I was the Germans. Being familiar with the Standard Combat Series of games by The Gamers I had no problem picking up the mechanics of this game. As the German player I had to gain territorial objectives, including a number of towns and the French trench line for points. I had no problem achieving my goals.

An interesting feature of the game was the supply rules. A unit has to be within the supply radius of its Corp HQ, or the Army HQ to make an attack. Once used to provide attack supply the Corp HQ has to resupply before it can provide attack supply in another turn. This is done by rolling a 6 on a D6, during the resupply phase. I was very lucky when it came to resupply. It gets harder as the game advances. It is impossible to roll a 7 on a D6. The allies have the same problem. The solution lies in the overrun rule. You make overrun attacks as part of movement. They do not require attack supply, but in order to achieve results you must be willing to be bled white.

I later learnt that Jack runs the Storm Over Stalingrad tournament at Cangames and brought a play test copy of Storm Over Normandy with him to Stack Académie Con. I was content with my Friday results and headed home at about 11:00 PM .

Saturday I knew was going to be a long day. It turned out that I only got two games in. The first was against, Andrew Nick, another visitor from out of town. We played Combat Commander Mediterranean Scenario 24. I was the Indians and he played the Italians in the battle at Tug Argan Pass, Somaliland August 12th, 1940. August 12th is my birthday and it proved to be a good omen for the game. This match took us almost 3 1/2 hours to play and was very intense. It was a good workout of the system and in the end I won a major victory. I am enjoying the exploration of this game system.

My second and final game of the day was an old favorite of mine. I hoped that I'd run into Bill (AKA Chinese Gordon) at the con and we could get a game of Panzergruppe Guderian under our belts. I knew that Bill was an aficionado of the game, having played it many times at the World Boardgames Championships. I met Bill through the Montréal Wargame Meetup Group.

According to Boardgame geek "Panzergruppe Guderian is a simulation of the German campaign to capture Smolensk in July, 1941. The game is played in twelve turns: each one represents 2 days of time on a map scale of 10.5 km/hex. The game is famous for its innovative use of "untried" Soviet units. The Soviet combat counters are face down, their combat strength unknown to either player, until they are involved in a combat. The game also models the effectiveness of German operations by allowing them a full movement phase both before and after a mechanized movement phase after combat, while the Soviets only move prior to combat. If all a German divisions regiments attack or defend in the same hex, their strength is doubled, by a so-called divisional integrity bonus. The German player scores victory points for capture of cities and the Soviet commitment of forces from the Southwestern Front. The Soviet player scores for recaptured cities and destroying entire German divisions (which possess several steps of strength)." PGG is always a surprise. 

German Position at the End of Turn Two

I drew the Germans and at the end of my second turn I had managed to get a Panzer Division into Smolensk. Bill was down cast and only continued to play to be a good sport and let me have some fun. Turn three is when the main onslaught of German forces is unleashed against the untried Soviets holding the front. I had no doubt that I'd have reinforcements up and in Smolensk within two turns. It was not to be. I could not crack Bill's front line. It seemed to me that there were no 0-0-6 Russian Infantry in front of me, nor was any of the Soviet armour, when flipped a 0-10. At the end of my mech movement phase on turn 6 I had failed to break through. The Panzer Division that was holding one hex of Smolensk suffered it's third step loss and was about to be overwhelmed. I knew that I would not win. It was still one of the most amazing games of PGG that I ever played.

Failure to Break the Soviet Line at the end of turn 3

Due to the nature of the con, I didn't take too many pictures.  They would have only offered a view of a cramped meeting room with players hunched over their tables. It would not offer any of the colour and pageantry that miniatures provide.

Bill and I went out to eat. I bring this up as a footnote on the recent Canadian General Election. We walked passed the Headquarters of Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Québécois. I was truly amazed that with just over two weeks to go in the election campaign, that his HQ stood empty and deserted at 7:30 on a Saturday night. That fact alone told me that the Bloc was in trouble. I know from my personal experience working past election campaigns for the NDP downeast that our HQ would be hopping. After eating I decided that I had enough for the day. I had two very intense games against two very able opponents. It was time to head home to catch the final two periods of the hockey game. Montreal won the second game of their series against Boston. Still it was not an excuse for the Bloc HQ to have the lights out. They could have had game playing on a TV in the corner.

Sunday was the final day of the con. Things were winding down. Gamers from NY and Vermont were on their way home. I arrived in time to get a spot in a game of Founding Fathers. The following description of the game is by Dirk Knemyer and is part of a review he posted on Boardgame Geek.

Founding Fathers is the newest game from Christian Leonhard and Jason Matthews, the co-designers of 1960: The Making of the President. Matthews was also the co-designer of Twilight Struggle. Again dipping into U.S. history, Leonhard and Matthews have created a game about the authoring of the U.S. Constitution. You play one of five of the Founding Fathers of the United States, attempting to be the primary influencer of the document in order to be recognized as the "father" of the country.

Play centers around three primary mechanics: voting on issues, deciding issues in committee, or having the most influence in debate across the four factions in the game (Federalists, Large States, Small States and Anti-Federalists). Each of these are largely straightforward in their mechanics. Similarly straightforward are the four actions each player can take on their turn: to have a delegate vote "Yea" or "Nay" on the current issue, to commit delegates to the debate tracks for the four factions, to use the Action on the card of a delegate, or to jettison your delegates and redraw. Each player starts with three delegates in their hand: the Founding Father they are playing and two other delegates. These cards have flavour text, action text and clarify which state and faction they are affiliated with.

Players earn victory points based on how successfully they commit delegates to winning issues, how well they do in the debates at the end of the game, and based on special actions on the delegate cards. Thus you are trying to come in on the "right" side of issues - yea or nay - while steering the faction control behind the issues and debates in a way that proves advantageous to your debate equity at the end of the game. Nice, clean, simple

I was the fifth player to arrive and we were walked through the game mechanisms by Jason Matthews, the co-designer of the game. His presence helped keep the game flowing and provided a clear guide to the rules. He talked of his interest in politics and started to explain some of his views on the problems of the American federal state at the time and stopped. "You guys are Canadian I don't have to explain that to you." Unsaid is that we were a collection of Canadians (a mix of French and English) living in the province of Quebec, which has its own unique view of the Canadian federal state. He sort of joked that he might be interested in designing a game about the Canadian political situation.

The game is limited to six turns. each turn an article of the constitution is introduced to the convention.  On the reverse of the card is an article written in such a way to oppose the meaning of the actual article.  Players vote, and commit delegates, pro or con. The first side to reach 7 votes wins. Each state may only have one vote. If player A votes yea with his delegate from Georgia, player B may reverse the vote if he controls two delegates in his hand from the Georgia and have them vote Nay.  Otherwise you cannot use your Georgia delegate to vote on the floor of the convention. A state may only have one vote and is marked off on the list of states on the board.

You gain points by being on the winning side of the vote.  Losers go to the Committee room, where they can influence articles that fail to pass convention. You gain points in committee by getting a resolution into the constitution. The final way to gain points is have the most delegates in one or more of the four available factions in the debate room. Founding Fathers is an easy game to play. I don't think it would provide as much interest for me as Twilight Struggle. Who would have thought that you could turn articles of the constitution into a game. People started to drift out for lunch and I was content to leave.

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Leisurely Friday Afternoon Part II Seljuk Turks vs Later Crusaders

It has been a busy month and I am long overdue with the 2nd part of this posting. Blame the weather, blame the Canadian election, or better yet blame the Canadian tax filing date. It has been a busy month. Today was the first day in almost two weeks that I didn't have some tax related function that I had to fulfill.

Anthony and I met so I could introduce him to DBA the last Friday in March. Our first battle was a Roman Civil War after which we stopped for lunch. For our second dust up we looked for some medieval inspiration and decided to do a Crusader Game. I suggested we play with a Later Crusader (IV/17) Army and the Seljuk Turks (III/73). I forget the method used to pick sides but I ended up with the Crusaders.

We fought the game beside of a waterway. which ran along the western table edge. The northern two quadrants each had rough going and the southern quadrants had a gentle hill in the east and an oasis with palm trees in the west. I rolled a 1 for a total aggression of 2. The Seljuk Turks have natural aggression of 3, so he didn't even bother to roll. He was the invader. Anthony's army entered from the north, which was the table edge he wanted. My forces established their camp in the south.

Armies In there Initial Positions viewed from the West
(Transport Cases in background)

Later Crusader (IV/17 Ag 1)
1x 3 Kn (Gen) Non Hospitaller
2 x 3 Kn (A chance to use  my Knights of the Order of Saint John the Hospitaller)*
1 x 3 Cv or 3 Kn (I choose an 3rd Hospitaller Kn element)
5 x 4 Sp ( represented by Halberders with one Element assigned to guard the camp)
2 x 4 CB (I used LB)

Seljuk Turks (III/73 Ag 3)
1 x 3 Cv (Gen)
1 x 3 Cv or 2 LH (Anthony choose a 2nd Cv Element)
8 x 2 LH (A chance to exercise Jef's Hun's)**
1 x 2 Ps or 3 Bw or 3 Aux or 2 LH (3Bw Chosen) and the same choices repeated
1 x 2 Ps or 3 Bw or 3 Aux or 2 LH (3Bw Chosen again)

** See Captain's Blog

Anthony go off to a slow start and kept his forces intact. I was lucky with my pips and rapidly advanced in three battles.

After two more bounds Anthony rushed his light horse forward into my knights. Units on both sides had remained out of bow range to this point. My spear had grabbed the high ground and I was feeling confident with my position. My spear would defeat the light horse they faced and could move to protect my right flank. My bow were positioned to guard the left flank and were safely positioned in rough terrain.

Anthony's General and BG, and bow held back on his right flank. My general was in the forefront of the battle but I was overlapped.

Oh how the mighty fall. Tactical lessons are forgotten and one of the beauties of DBA is the rock, paper, scissors aspect of the game. Knights are quick killed by Light Horse. My General and another Knight Element fall to superior numbers. Even though I had a +4 tactical factor to a  +2 for Anthony's Light Horse, God was not with me. Death and disaster are risks one takes when leading from the front.

After the initial meeting it was all over but the crying as my general and another element of knights  were blown away with no loss to the enemy. Below the remaining knights look in disbelief at the horde that will wash over them.

A Leisurely Friday Afternoon Part III

It was about 3:00PM and we decided to play one more battle. In order to save time we would use the same two armies but change the look of the battlefield.

Once Again Armies In there Initial Positions viewed from the West

Both Armies Advance, but it looks like the Seljuk Turks will be able to grab the high ground and the better tactical position before the Crusaders.

 Seljuks and Crusaders Battle for Control of the Hill Crest.

Suddenly Two Elements of Light Horse are Destroyed

The Seljuk BG (L) and Gen (R) slam into the Crusader General (L) and BG (R)

 The Battle Ebbs Back and Forth. Both Generals Recoil

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!!!

Two More Seljuk Elements are Destroyed (a 3Cv and a 2LH) for a total of four Elements.
The Crusaders lost a 3Kn in the Battle for the Hilltop.
Proclaim the singing of Non nobis throughout our Host

It was about 4:00 and the day was done. I was able to get some of my miniatures in action and I hoped that Anthony enjoyed his introduction to DBA I re-staged the battles about a week after we fought. I used the photos I took at the time and a couple of quick notes to set the stage. I hope I got it right.