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.