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.

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