Thursday, May 25, 2017

HUZZAH! PART 2: MY SMALLE WARRE GAME REPORT

On Saturday morning at the Huzzah! convention, I ran my aforementioned Smalle Warre 17th Century Skirmish Game, "Reiters and Croats and Cuirassiers, Oh My!" Description below:

"On 8 November 1632 “an advance party of about 100 men under Oberst Brandenstein found the main bridge over the Saale poorly guarded and captured Naumburg only hours before two Imperial regiments, De Suys’ foot and Bredau’s cuirassiers, arrived on the scene"(Richard Brzezinksi, Osprey Books). This incident of “small warre” would lead to the epic Battle of Lutzen eight days later. This scenario asks, “What if Imperialist elements had arrived sooner?” Up to 6 players get to find out. Convention-tested home brew 17th Century skirmish rules, 28mm figures, and buckets of dice."


Not to be warned off by the above description, there were six pre-registered players. On the day of the event, however, there were but five (one, apparently, had been warned off after all). This worked out well, though, since the scenario is scale-able and the five player version is the same as the six.  Although I took the names of the players down, I failed to correlate which players played on which side, and my memory for names is lousy. So I shall name the stalwarts here in list form and in brief, without regard to cause. These sporting gents were: Richard W, James F, Jim M, William S, and Jeff V.  A fine crew they were who made running the game a pleasure.  On with the story.  In this report, as usual, you may clix pix for BIG PIX


The game is afoot. The table set up and ready to go. There were two central hills worth 2 points each, and three 1-point objectives in the middle of the table, represented by a gun, and two wagons. The side with the most points wins (had to win by 2): simple, no?  The Imperials started with one of their two units of Croats on the hill and some Dragoons in a house in the corner (who would activate on a die roll--tardy fellows who should have been on guard in the area). The rest of the forces (Protestant and Imperial) would enter in their respective areas over the course of the first three turns.

There were also some special cards that each side had that would act as a variable--these allowed them to return casualties (Mars), re-roll a result (Fortune), and influence activations (Command). In a six player game, each side would have nine cards, with each player having a "deck" of three (one of each). Given five players, the side with two (in this game, the Protestants) divided the cards between them (one having an extra). Cards could only be played within a player's command and upon an activation. Each card would be discarded if used. There would be a die roll at the end of the game that would combine with the number of cards remaining to produce extra points (so the fewer used, the more likely it was that a side would gain a tiebreaker point advantage, although not guaranteed: insidious, no?). I juggle these and their impact depending on the scenario. This mechanic invariably leads to some fun moments during a game when one player decides he needs to spend a card and  his team-mates scold him for losing points. You'll hear about these cards again. But I digress...
 The Imperials (above left) and the Protestants (above right) bring in their first units
  Things start getting interesting as the opposing forces converge on the middle of the table.
The first contact involved the Croats sending off some Protestant Dragoons and seizing wagon #1, followed by the Protestant White Reiters trotting up and engaging another Croat unit and taking the gun. This area would see much back and forth fighting like this as both players thrust units forward to contest control. In the other part of the table, the advance was more deliberate. 
The Imperial and Protestant commands weigh the situation as more forces become engaged. Meanwhile...
...the heavens look down down on the petty mortal strife below...either that or my camera went off while I was putting it away. But I digress (yet again). 


The crisis of the battle arrives with the high water mark of the Protestant advance. The White Reiters have since been bundled back to the baseline, but the Protestant Brown Reiters have come forward to seize the gun in their place. One unit of Imperial Croats stubbornly hangs on to wagon #1 while the other Croat and the Imperial Dragoon come up in support. Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, the Protestant Dragoons dismount and take wagon #2 while the Black and Gray Protestant Reiters screen in the face of growing Imperial pressure.
The Blue Imperial Cuirassiers, not amused, come up to "debate" the Protestant Thesis.
The action near the end of the affair. Casualties among the Red Cuirassiers and the Imperial Arquebusiers, as well as the shaken status and red "wounded" markers on the Blue Curiassiers, are indicative of the action that has gone on. The kill rings, by the way, indicate empty firearms (pistols, arquebuses, muskets). The Protestant Reiters took their lumps, but held off the Imperial horse long enough for the Dragoons to drag wagon #2 back to a safer spot. Meanwhile, the musketeer lines of both sides have come up and have begun to influence the action. The pesky (heroic?) Croats (all 2 figures of them) still hold wagon#1, while the gun reverts to limbo. Eventually, the remnant 2-figure Croat unit would trot out to take control of the gun (laurels go to the Imperial Croats for their doggedness in this game).
So, who won?  Well, at the end of the game the tally was 3 points for the Protestants and 4 points for the Imperials--the margin to win is 2, so a tie.  BUT...I still had to account for the variable points for the special cards.  Once I had counted those and added the die roll, the result swung to a 1 point advantage for the Protestants--still short of the 2 point margin needed for a decision.  Thus, the convention game ended just as the club-night game: in a tie!  In both cases, the games did feel close, and the players seemed comfortable with the result. I guess I'll have to either trash this scenario or run it a third time to decide the affair.  My thanks for the good humor and elan of the players (a bad run of dice never became a bad run of attitude!)--'twas well played on both sides.

For those who have the stamina to still be reading this (I'm impressed!), in the very near future, I'll be adding another content page to this blog with my Smalle Warre rules and materials (this at the request of the players in this game--so you have them to blame, hence my masking of their full names!). Watch for it (or watch out for it) soon.
Excelsior!

Monday, May 22, 2017

HUZZAH! CONVENTION REPORT

This is the first of two posts that I'll be doing in the wake of this weekend's Huzzah! game convention. The second (now posted) is a report on my  Smalle Warre  game which ran on Saturday morning. This post is a brief report on the convention for the benefit of those who are curious or just couldn't make it.  In short, this was another quality experience provided by the Maine Historical Wargamers, and this regional convention has grown into a highly anticipated fixture on the gaming calendar. Once again, they had more people applying to run games than they could accommodate, and many games were filled via pre-registration ahead of time.  I was present on Friday afternoon and again on Saturday, and here is my less than coherent picture essay on the event as I captured it.  For another report on  Huzzah! you can check out AJ's Wargaming Blog where he recounts his experience running his Electronic Brigadier game.  As usual, you may clix pix for BIG PIX
FRIDAY
 The Registration area (left) and a shot (right) across the main gaming area/vendor area (this space would get more busy on Saturday!)

The convention included boardgames. In the above, there was a game of a very interesting block game, Waterloo 200 going on. Unfortunately, the only action I saw was the game master flipping through the rules, so I didn't get much of a feel for it (but I'm curious). 
Sci Fi isn't my thing, but there was this most impressive mecha-thingy layout just waiting to be used. Very cool.
Above, Mike Paine's spectacular, kid friendly Pulp/China games have also become a fixture at the convention. 
The Alamo seems to make an appearance at most US Conventions, the above being particularly nice (and received with much enthusiasm by the players). 
Above left, the ancients tournament.  Above right, just some cool figs I ran across. 

Above, a superb 28mm Battle of Chotusitz Carngage and Glory game. 

My friend and fellow blogger Mark D setting up his game for Friday night. He uses a variant of Bolt Action to depict contemporary actions.  Despite the enthusiastic assistance of myself and fellow club member Earl, he was ready to go on time, anyway. 
Mark's contemporary troops lined up and ready to go. You can visit his blog for a report on his game and more shots of his excellent collection in action.

 SATURDAY

  A very eye catching Dien Bien Phu game...

...complimented by appropriately impressive headgear. 


 An "Old School" Pas De Charge! game (above). One of the players expressed satisfaction with the system, despite it being "chart heavy." What was old is new again!


Almost in contrast to the preceding, there was a Sharp Practice game running at one of the vendor tables. 


 The Flames of War tournament area. 
There was naval action, of course.


Not sure what this was. I think either French and Indian War or King William's War.


The centerpiece of the convention was the massive Stalingrad  game, which will consume the remainder of this report.  There were several tables, each with a different focus...


 ...each with more detail than this blog could ever capture. You might want to check out this posting on TMP which has more photos and links to other shots. 


That concludes my brief and incomplete snapshot of this great convention. There was much more to the convention than I captured in this report--which covers what I was able to see while walking about on Friday and Saturday afternoons.  Next up will be the report on the game I ran there on Saturday morning. Watch these pages for that in the next few days.
Excelsior!
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