Wednesday, May 30, 2018


Following from my previous post on the Huzzah! 2018 Convention, this post, dear readers, will report on the convention game I offered on Saturday morning,...
...the description for which runs as follows: "Loot the Baggage Train!" (30 Years War): This game represents that moment so characteristic of this age when the lure of looting the baggage train overcame any interest in the battle. In this game, players will control a file of dragoons, Croats, or "Polish cossacks" as they all converge on a semi-abandoned baggage train. Loot the train; loot the other players. It's every man for himself: the player who comes away with the most swag, wins.  For those new to this blog with enough  curiosity (or endurance), you may check out an earlier post on my preparation for this game, which will in turn link you to other posts regarding playtesting, etc.  For now, we resume the current topic (as usual, in this report, you may clix pix for BIG PIX).

 The Scene of Action and Dramatis Personae

The scenario has six players, and each is on his own (although there were some agreements struck between players, of the live and let live--for now--nature). The factions enter in balanced fashion on opposing sides of the field (three per table edge).  The terrain setup represents a post-station at a road junction, with a stable and a small inn, around which a few households have popped up. Given its routes and location, it was a natural concentration point for the baggage of a small army in the area--which is in the process of losing a battle in the environs as the game begins, leading to a panic in the train (a not uncommon occurrence ).  Consequently, the place has already been partially looted by its attendants (again, not an uncommon occurrence) and in their rush to save their skins, mostly abandoned, save for a few dispirited guards and the quartermaster (players may attempt to bribe the former to do their bidding in limited ways). Rumor had it that the army's paychest might be  here, hence the interest of our player-heroes (this also explains why some of the guards allowed themselves to be talked into hanging about: self interest. If all others abandon the place, then they could take their share).  Enter our six factions, representing the kinds of enterprising troops who could be found on the edges of a battle...
...a figure's-eye view of the approach to the train from various perspectives.

Scattered about the table are a number of cache's, a selection of which are circled in red (above) for illustration.  Searching the cache flips the green marker, which in turn reveals a number corresponding to a list of contents.  Some might be dummies.  Others might contain loot or other things, such as loaded pistols or even a "grenadoe"--the latter of which could be as dangerous to would-be users as to intended targets (more on that later).
 Above, the Grenadoe marker (front, back). 

The table set-up and ready to go with figures and player materials in place.

Each player controlled four figures (a leader and three soldiers). Each figure had wounds, action points, equipment, reloading status, and a flask (first aid) to track. During the playtest, players used a tracking sheet (above right) with markers to keep track of these things. These worked, but turned out to be rather fiddly and slowed things down.  By the convention game, with the help of my friend AJ, who has a laser engraver, I had created 24 tracking boards, one for each figure (above left), with pegs to track wounds and operations points, and places for activation markers, equipment, unit identification, and so forth. As of the Sunday before the convention, these were only a concept. By the following Friday, they were assembled, labelled, stained, and ready to go on Saturday morning.  Thanks to AJ for helping with design and cranking out all the pieces on a long Sunday's project.  These improved play very much...
...the components of the tracking boards are interchangeable (above left), so that I can repurpose them for different systems and/or different stats. There are also counters that represent equipment, whether carried, in-use ("equipped"), or in some location on the table, like laying about or on a wandering horse. In the case of firearms (above right), there is a "loaded" and an "unloaded" side: just flip the empty side up after firing. So much for logistics. Back to the game. 

Although the nature of this game made it something of a free for all, and therefore not very structured, it basically broke down into two phases...
PHASE I Phase I, all factions entered and converged on the town, at least initially. The Gray and Black German Dragoons  skirted conflict, checking out outlying caches and heading for the town, while on the other side of the table, the Brown German Dragoons went for an all out attack on the Brown Croats. The Blue Croats rode hard down the edge of the table and wound up colliding with the Polish Dragoons, who had dismounted and were searching outlying caches approaching the town in their area. As the factions approached, the baggage train the guards fired off some shots (none of which hit) before scampering. I should point out that each side had a starting number of crowns that they were obliged to spread out among their troops. Therefore, picking off an opposing player's figures and lifting their loot was another means of gaining points--by extension, safeguarding your loot from falling into a rival's hands was another point of tension in the game. Getting back to phase I, the Brown Croats eventually prevailed over the Brown German Dragoons, meaning they wiped them out, which signals the end of this phase...
PHASE II Phase II, the Polish Dragoons decided that getting stuck in with the Blue Croats was not in their best interest, so they agreed to cease the fighting and back off (eventually, they would stumble on a nice cache in the stable in the center of the town). The Blue Croats continued their ride around the town and charged into their cousins, the Brown Croats, who had only just dispatched the Brown German Dragoons. Back in Dodge City, the Black and Gray German Dragoons got engaged with each other in earnest as they converged on the central Inn building (on the right) and its outbuilding.  The Black German Dragoons wound up with the most loot at the end and won (in order to win, a faction had to have at least five more crowns than the nearest other). 
The game in the town wound up being a two-player game (Gray and Black German Dragoons) because the Brown Croats and Brown German Dragoons got stopped outside of the town, and the circle-ride of the Blue Croats  took another faction out of the contest in the town.  Consequently, the Black German Dragoons' small positional edge over the Gray became more decisive given the absence of corresponding forces moving into the town from the other side (although the Brown Croats did initially have a figure enter the town ahead of others, it was recalled to the fight on the edge).  This is a simplified boiled down narrative, but captures the broad trajectory of events. Here are a few images of the details:  . 
Above: The Brown German Dragoons ride into the Brown Croats on the edge of town.

The Blue Croat leader fires and discards an empty pistol (Left Above). Then is joined by another Croat as they bowl over a Polish Dragoon.  The Polish Dragoons make way and...

...The Blue Croats ride on to hit the depleted Brown Croats.

The Gray and the Black German Dragoons stuck-in at the edge of the town. In the above, the grenadoe has just gone off upon being lit (a 1 in 6 chance), blowing up in the face of the Gray German Dragoon leader--one of those cinematic moments that seem to happen in skirmish games...

...The Gray German Dragoons, having fired the outbuilding, are systematically driving back the black German Dragoons. Just out of the shot to the left, the Black German Dragoons would eventually crawl out of the back window of the Inn as the Grays closed in, making good their escape, loot in hand.

The tracking system in-use during play.  I'm happy with how these turned out. 

The shot of the ceiling that I invariably wind up taking when (mis)handling the camera.

Two shots of the action, courtesy of AJ (of AJ's Wargaming Blog). The winner of the game, the commander of the Black German Dragoons, is seated to the left in the black t-shirt in the lower picture. 
Post-Convention: The game sorted and re-packed for movement. I'll be running it again during our club's June Game Night. Watch For Another Battle Report!
Until Then...


Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Once again, I attended the excellent regional convention, Huzzah!, sponsored by the Maine Historical Wargamers. This year, I once again ran a game, Loot the Baggage Train, of which I will focus on in my Convention Report, Part the Second--yet to come. In this report, dear readers, I will relate the sundry impressions and images gained during my meanderings at the convention.  I fear that this year's convention report will be a bit less robust than the last, but that is more a function of my dysfunction than the 2018 convention being of lesser substance. In the following, as usual, you may clix pix for big pix...

It just so happened that my table was not in use on Friday night, so my attendance that day was mainly utilitarian: to get my badge and set up my game ahead of time (more on that anon).  I knocked off work early as well, so that was another good thing! Above, the lobby area and check-in desk on Friday afternoon. Things were still fairly light when I arrived, but even during peak periods, there is no problem moving through the check-in. As a game master, admission fees are waived.  That's nice...
...but for running a game, one is presented with a handsome set of commemorative dice! It was upon getting home with the above that I rediscovered my handsome commemorative dice from Huzzah! 2017. Indeed,  A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon (Napoleon).

This year's convention was dedicated to the memory of Kermit Kincaid, a well known figure in the hobby whose recent loss was felt by many. This remembrance was posted in the lobby at the entrance to the main room, so I thought it appropriate to place it in the entrance to this report. Although I was not a personal friend, I was certainly acquainted with Kermit, as were most who had spent any time on the east coast/New England convention circuit. He will be missed.

On Friday afternoon, things were still a bit light in the main gaming room (above left), and in the WWII/Bolt Action area (above right). I spent the majority of my time setting up my game, and then I was pretty much done in, so didn't get lots of shots of the Friday evening gaming....
...however, this particular American Civil War game, Richard Wallace's Carnage and Glory extravaganza, "The Queen's Cotton," was set up and waiting in the room where I was getting my game ready.   It featured not only beautiful Union and Confederate forces...
...but also a contingent of the Perry British Intervention Force figures (above)...
 ...and a 28mm ironclad!
A popular fixture of Huzzah!--Andre's WWI Friday Night Dogfight game was getting started in the lobby when I was heading out. 
My game was set up, minus troops and a few other bits, at the conclusion of my Friday trip.  First thing Saturday, I would be back to put the figures down and add the player materials.

Arriving bright and early on Saturday, I was joined in the room by two compadres from my gaming club who were also setting up for the morning session in the same room. Above left, AJ, of AJ"s Wargaming Blog, was setting up his Electronic Brigadier game (AWI Battle of Monmouth). Check out his blog for a game and convention report.  If you aren't familiar with Electronic Brigadier, I recommend that you check it out.  Greg S, above right, was setting up his Great Northern War Sharp Practice game. All three of our games were filled, and there were several players on stand by looking to fill any no-shows. In short, all games had good interest and no empty chairs--a good start, to be sure... this point in time my game transpired; stay tuned to the next post for more... 

We now resume our normal broadcasting.  Having completed running my game, I was able to take a bit of a rest and then sample the Saturday afternoon proceedings...
ACW seemed a popular presence, in various scales...
The Great Northern War in "Gawd's Own Scale": 6mm  (I luv's me some 6mm)
Young gamers were present and well taken care of; above left, Mike Paine's ever popular Hanghai pulp game ready for action. Above right, a youngster (minion?) working his way around a game table sporting a Maine Historical Wargamer's Association pith helmet (and goggles!).  They're bringin' them up right in these parts!
 A wonderful WWI trench game. This had flashing leds imbedded in it to replicate machine gun fire:  if you check out the big version of the lower picture, you'll see the flash of one of the leds (just to the left of the firing slot of the sandbagged bunker opposite the tank). Spiffing stuff!
The amazing Stalingrad boards from last year's featured Bolt Action game were reprised in the WWII room...
..with the addition of new of a set of stunning Monte Cassino game boards.
                                                            Vikings: tons of 'em!
 Wings of Glory, WWII
Not quite sure to make of this one, other than to say, "bloody sheep!"
A few more shots of games, just because. 
 The much busier main room on Saturday, with the convention in full swing.  

Nicely organized, wonderful games, excellent gamers, good attitudes--another excellent Huzzah!.  I and my compatriots are already looking forward to Huzzah 2019!

Part the Second will be forthcoming: in which our correspondent conveys the curious tale of his machinations as game master, and of the bold spirited bravos who "played up!" in his game.  I beg your patience, dear readers, until then, and bid you adieu for now.

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