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My fleet sailing towards the enemy

My fleet as it set sail to meet the enemy: From bottom, 2 pinnaces, 3 frigates, 3 sloops turning away. At top, you can see Joel's ice floes

Jan. 17, 2010: Fleets of the Things fantasy naval at Joel's place

(This week's report courtesy of the GM, Joel Sams...)

Fleet action at Goat Islands

Admiral "Dorsal" Finn & Buccaneer Steve V

Adm "SosloJojo" & Buccaneer Mike

Down with Scurvy: Tom, Dave

Missing at sea : Steve S

In the drunk tank(AND lovin' it): Allen

Shore leave: Jason

It was a trial of the Fleet of the Things rules with equal size forces (40 points):

5 Frigates (1 of which was a Buccaneer)
3 Sloops
2 Lurkers (sunken wrecks)
2 pinnaces
3 Ice floes (Hordes)
2 rogue waves (Beasts)
2 Storm clouds (Flyers)

Two fleets prepare to clash

Buccaneer Steve's well-ordered battleline prepares to pound Joel's and my ships to splinters

The board was 42"x72" with a reef (acted like a river in HOTT) to the north and two small islands (impassable terrain) to the south. Winds out of the north, Drift 1"

With the start of action Mike and Steve mixed it up with the flyers then quickly followed by frigate action. Steve out rolled Mike and pushed on with superior numbers. As the battle progressed, the slower hordes started to fall behind and drift more and more (Note to self: smaller board? Might help get the hordes into play sooner?). Meanwhile Admiral Finn was able to close and put a pinch on Mike, also, before I was able to support Mike's few remaining ships.

Towards the end, with the our fleets was scattered, both the buccaneers made death-defying heroic escapes. Admiral Finn & Buccaneer Steve won in the end. I was too slow to get into battle and Mike complained about his dice rolling. The rules will have to be run through again before final judgement. Lets try them again with more sea monster and less scurvy...

My two pinnaces fight off a rogue wave

My two pinnaces fight off a rogue wave while Steves frigates sail down to scatter them

Jan. 10, 2010: Path to Power modern Africa campaign at Keith's Clubhouse

City Fight between government and PAUN rebel forces in our modern Africa campaign

The fictional African town of Kananga, site of a battle between government and rebel forces

So, we go together for our second meeting of the modern Africa campaign that I'm running. I had four players, so two battles this time around. Keith was feeling under the weather so his Hastily Organized Gathering of Guys (H.O.G.G.) opted out of fighting a battle. That meant that Joel's JuJu Tribe and Tom's PAUN were the factions fighting battles, with the other participants playing the non-player defenders. Once again, both players rolled to be the Attacker, and both rolled the same kind of opponent. This week it was government forces.

The JuJu Tribe rolled up the scenario, "SAM is my name," which features a United Nations APC carrying a shipment of SAM missiles broken down in the boonies. Both the JuJu's and their governmental foes were gunning for the shipment. Despite taking heavier casualties from the well-armed Kammebalango army force, Joel's forces ended the battle in possession of the disabled APC and won the scenario. His faction's flag marker advances one step towards the capital.

Government forces close in on the disabled UN APC in SAM is my name

Government forces close in on the disabled United Nations APC in 'SAM is my name'

Tom's PAUN rebel movement was fighting its second battle of the campaign (Keith "passing" opened the door for him to get in a battle in the revolving system I have set up). He rolled up "City Fight" as his scenario. Allen took the part of the army colonel in charge of the small town of Kananga, and set up a wonderful urban battlefield using Keith's and my buildings. That was about all Allen did that was wonderful, as his die rolling was abysmal. Tom's PAUN rebels rolled over the Kammebalangan army -- making this the second better armed adversary he had defeated. The magnitude of his success rocketed his flag marker 3 additional spaces forward. He also picked up a Covert Aid card for passing up the designated space on his track.

Allen did a great job setting up the urban battlefield in PAUN's City Fight

Allen did a great job setting up the urban battlefield in his battle with Tom's PAUN rebel forces

So far, the campaign seems to be going well. I like the way things are working out. Militia forces DO forces are composed of lots more figures than we're used to playing with, but we seem to have enough figs to field the battles. I do need to get more RPG armed guys, though, it seems. Maybe I can pick some up cheap on ebay or somewhere...

Jan. 3, 2010: Spaceship miniatures at Keith's Clubhouse

City Fight between government and PAUN rebel forces in our modern Africa campaign

Here's Keith's account of our Sunday night gaming:

We tried another round of Generic Oversized Space Battles (GOBS), and round 2 went fairly well. A Klingon task force had the mission of driving off/destroying a smaller Romulan force that was building a space station in the Neutral Zone! None of the torpedos in the GOBS rules were used, I decided that the GOBS weapon called a plasma cannon was a better match for the Star Trekian 'photon torpedo'.

The Romulans had 6 small gunboat ships called 'sneakers' - these were allowed to 'hide' near an asteroid, and have one turn where they could fire from ambush  - this was a close to cloaking as I wanted to try.   The feared Ronulan 'plasma torpedo' was replicated by the GOBS 'Spinal Mount' weapon - four of the Romulan ships had the Spinal Mount weapon. 

Part of the attacking Klingon fleet

This game went better and faster than last game - things were discovered (small ships with shields are VERY hard to hit, but if you do hit, they die!). You have to get close - long range sniping did not work so well.  The spinal mount weapons are fearsome, but somewhat clumsy.  

I think these rules will work well for the 'big fleet space opera genre' - the next game will probably feature fighter swarms and carriers. 

More Klingon space ships

Dec. 27, 2009: Colonials using "Queen and Planet" at Keith's Clubhouse

The Anglo-Egyptian relief force assaults the Ansar at El Obeid

The battle for El Obeid swirls around an Ansar strong point

I will let the GM, Tom Graves, tell the tale for last night's excellent Colonials game:

On Sunday we played a scenario of Queen and Planet that was semi-historical. Early in the Mahdist revolution, a mercenary named Pasha Hicks (a discredited British officer) was sent into the Darfur region with 8000 penal and 'conscripted' police troops. They were guided by what were suspected Ansar sympathizers that lead them around in the wilderness until their food and water was exhausted. They were then surrounded by about three to four times their number of Ansar and in a battle that lasted over three days were killed, virtually to the last man.

My command marches on El Obeid

My wing of the Anglo-Egyptian Relief Force advances

In our semi-historical recreation, I assumed that their guides were loyal/competent and were able to guide them through the wilderness and avoid the Mahdist forces operating against them. They arrived at the capital of Western Sudan, El Obeid, and gave battle to a force of Ansar just slightly weaker than they were. Our battle consisted of about 2900 British-lead Egyptians and 2800 Mahdists in a struggle on the outskirts of El Obeid. Joel and Mike lead the Egyptians and Allen and Keith commanded the Ansars.

Joel's command moves in, firing its artillery battery

Joel's command leads the assault on the Ansar-hold town

The Ansar deployed hidded in the buildings, slums and orchards of El Obeid and the Egyptians marched forward to recapture the city. As the battle developed it was clear that the two Egyptian commands had Shiek Keith's single command in a bit of a 'pinch.' Shiek Allen rather leisurely (but brilliantly) redeployed to assist his commander in chief. The Ansar had deployed a battery of old brass cannon on the roof of the most forward home and since this home had been designated by the Egyptian CinC (Joel) as the initial objective to sieze both Colonal Mike's command and General Joel's command quickly closed in on it. Unable to removed the cannon from the rooftop. CinC Keith decided to support his forward position by pushing his Jehadia infantry forward to support the cannon.The home and the battery quickly became the focus of the entire battle with the Egyptians twice storming the building and attacking the battery on the roof only to be driven away by extremely well timed counterattacks from Sheik Allen's redeploying command.

The Relief Force's high water mark, the charge of Hicks Own Cavalry

Our "High Water mark" -- the charge of Hick's Own Cavalry penetrates into El Obeid

In a final outpouring of bloodshed both CinC generals were killed or routed and with casualties on both sides at 50% or higher and with both commanders fallen, the Egyptian and Ansar armies broke and fled the field.

Successful counterattacks drove the Relief Force back

Successful Ansar counterattacks drove the Relief Force back from its hold on the town

I was trying out some new thoughts/rules on urban warfare and most things seem to work well except close combat vs units in buildings. It didn't seem reasonable to give overlaps against units inside buildings, but it also didn't make sense to give hard cover to them either. Thoughts on how best to handle hand to hand with one unit inside a building and the other attacking from outside would be appreciated.

Dec. 20, 2009: Beamstrike 25mm Sci-Fi at Steve Sattler's House

25mm Sci-Fi infantry scout squad

The long-awaited playtest of Steve Sattler's military Sci-Fi game had a good turnout -- 6 players and Steve as GM. The rules explanation took about 45 minutes. The concepts are fairly simple in this game. You have varying range bands depending on your weapon, which provides a number you must equal or score higher on the roll of 2d6 to hit. Then there is a damage roll, which can range from No Effect, Glancing Hit to Kill. Medics were in just about every squad, and if close enough to the hit player, could reduce the severity. I had skimmed the rules, which Steve found online, earlier that day, so I was fairly familiar with the basic concepts.

Everyone felt the rules played fine, and were definitely willing to play it more. We did make one major mistake with how we handled concealment, that affected the game. However, it was played equally for both sides, so only served to increase the value of static defense. Everyone pretty much figured out how to do their own combat after a turn or two. Steve had provided sheets for each squad with the pertinent numbers. More importantly, he had wisely minimized the types of troops and weapons in this first playtest, which made it easier for us to get our heads around the rules. We'll add more "stuff" -- like vehicles and indirect fire -- next time.

It was neat to see the figs out on the table (many of which I'd painted for Steve as commissions). I almost wish I had a ready source of 25mm Sci-Fi to paint up for my own squad -- anybody have any old Star Frontiers figs for cheap...? Stupid me, I had set out my camera and tripod to take, but forgotten it. Hopefully, I'll remember next time so that you can see a game in action. The pics here are sipmly ones I took of the units I painted for Steve.

Zeke's 15mm chariots wheel through a turn on his scale built track

Dec. 13, 2009: Race #4 of Circus Maximus League at Zeke's Abode

So, it was meeting number four of the scheduled 10 race Circus Maximus chariot racing league that Zeke was running. Going into this race, Zeke had won two of the three, and I had won the other. Zeke nearly pulled it off again, despite Allen and Tom having statistically better teams. It came down to one team each from Allen, Tom and Zeke, but the host's luck couldn't hold out. Allen faster team won by a comfortable margin, in the end, and Tom ended up second, Zeke third, and one of my relatively slow (compared to the 10 team field) came in fourth.

I was able to cause quite a bit of mayhem, flipping one of Joel's and one of Tom's chariots by grinding their wheels with my heavy chariot. Zeke took out one of Allen's teams on the second turn of the game, then proceeded to kill two of the four horses on my heavy chariot's team by the end of the game. With the campaign rules the way they are, that team is probably finished for the league. Zeke is still the money leader in the game (scoring is done only by a betting system, in which you essentially cannot bet more on opponent's teams than your own). So, the effect is the teams that win tend to be the money leaders, too. After this race, Tom analyzed average team speeds, and which teams have won the four races. Surprise, surprise, the faster teams are winning the races! And since the speed of your team is based both on the points you allocate to your horses and a random roll when initially setting them up, you don't have a lot of control whether you've got a fast team or a slower one.

The final stretch and teams from three factions battle it out

Nevertheless, we're have fun at it. As Zeke pointed out, the slower teams simply need to be more aggressive and attack the faster teams whenever they get a chance. I think that is not always as easily done as said, but in general, we probably have been too "nice" as racers -- despite the slaughtered horses, flipped chariots and wounded drivers the league has seen so far!

View of the batttlefield - the muddy Mississippi River

Dec. 6, 2009: American Civil War Ironclads at Keith's Clubhouse

Keith had written his own set of Ironclads rules, and we gave them a playtest last night. I'll let the others describe the action, this time around:

Battle of Walrus Flatts (named after a large Sycamore snag that looked walrus)

Mission: CSA Navy must break thought to Vicksburg, MS

Union: Admiral Allen Sams, Capt. Steve Sattler
CSA: Admiral Mike Demana, Capt. Joel Sams
Rules: Iron, Fire & (swim)Finn
Current= 2 knots

We (Confederate Navy) chased the Union picket ships, who drifted down stream & returned fire. Our 'nimble' ships arrived in battle first and were quickly dealt with harshly. We closed with the main Union fleet and found we were outgunned and our struggle began. We fought bravely, Line Abreast manning the guns with a swagger. We changed course and made for the bluffs forcing the enemy to sail between us (AND all the better to run aground when the need came).

Cannon fire was hot & heavy, the burst boilers were hotter and the Union slowly continued up stream. Then the CSAQueen of the West blew up and we struggled to maintain a fighting force became a struggle to survive. As the smoke & steam cleared the CSA Arkansas was through the Union lines and Union was in mopping up the last of the last. -- Joel Sams

My Confederate Squadron sails to its doom

Game Master's Analysis

The game seemed to flow OK, and I would call the outcome a draw.  The most powerful CCS unit, the Arkansas, ran through the Union fleet and will shelter at Vicksburg.   The loss of the Tennesee (foundered in shallow water) hurt the CSS cause.  As a simulation, the game worked as I expected.  Now we tweak thing to make it more a game for the CSS. Some tweaks in the future include improving the CCS chance to kill ships by ramming, adding in mines and shore batteries for the CCS.

 Probably will make damage from 3x and 2x hits not repairable.  Also, maybe first time you get holed is fixable, but not the next time! And fleshing out the 'tragic flaw' for ships needs to be done.  I came up with that late Saturday night, and did not have it completely done by the time the game was going. Also, since the special hits from doubling are so important, will maybe expand that out to a 3D6 result for more outcome.

Close up of Keith's 1/1200 scale ships, printed ship cards and nifty Litko markers

Nov. 27, 2009: GOBs of spaceships at Keith's Clubhouse

We tried out a space ship combat game that Keith had found on the internet, called GOBS. Steve and I played a Romulan fleet making a spoiling attack on a Klingon invasion force. The basic premise of the game works -- larger, better-armed ships move first, while smaller, more manueverable ones move afterwards (able to react to the clumsier ships' movement). Smaller ships are harder to hit but suffer more damage when struck. The "To Hit" charts took a bit of time getting our heads wrapped around, but once we got a handle on the procedure and modifyers, it wasn't bad.

The real problem, in my opinion, were the "torpedos." These were essentially guided missiles that moved for three turns, homing in on their target. On a visual level, I thought a bunch of markers with a dice next to them designating which turn of movement they were on, was a miniatures table spoiler. On a game level, having to keep track of which of the dozens of torpedoes out there were targetting which of your ships, was a logistical burden. In addition, they used different modifiers to the "to hit" and damage processes from all other attacks. And as another one of our regulars pointed out in our usual battery of email exchanges after a gaming night, that is simply NOT the way photon torpedoes functioned in the Star Trek universe. Although my fellow players didn't necessarily agree with me, I proposed eliminating the torpedoes altogether for our next playtest of the rules. The GOBS system seems fairly elegant, and in my opinion, doesn't need a bunch of guided missiles flying all over the battlefield to simulate spaceship combat.

Though I don't believe I won over my fellow players with my anti-torpedo rules, I think I convinced Keith to try a game without them in the next go around.

Nov. 22, 2009: Kick off of modern Africa campaign at Keith's Clubhouse

Ever since the rules were pretty much good to go for my modern Africa games, I've wanted to run a campaign using them. I finally got everything ready and kicked it off last weekend at Keith's. Each player controls a faction trying to take over the same fictional, African country (modeled roughly on The Congo's post-independence tribulations. I actually started a blog to cover the campaign.

So, check out Chaos in Kammebalango, if you get a chance!

Nov. 15, 2009: Chariot Racing at Zeke's House

Ah, poor Game Nights. A month and a half between updates! You'd think that we weren't gaming on Sunday nights or something. Actually, up to this point, our gaming had been rather disorganized, with phone calls and e-mails on early Sunday evening finally deciding where, what and when. Consequently, we played a lot of board games over the last month or so.

One thing we have been doing over the last couple months is playing a Circus Maximus campaign, of sorts. Years ago, Zeke and Steve had constructed a miniatures version of the old Avalon Hill boardgame. Zeke decided to bust that out of storage, and what's more, run a campaign with it. This campaign is essentially a series of 10 (I believe) races, with each of controlling a faction or stable of 5 chariot teams. We rolled them all up to get their various statistics, then field one or two teams per race. The "score" in the campaign is controlled by betting, though. Using the Circus Maximus rules, you wager on your own or other teams to finish first. After four races, Zeke is leading, but I am in a relatively close second.

I remember playing the game a good 20 years ago, and it being a hoot back then, too. It took us a race to get re-familiarized with the rules, but it seems to be flowing along well, now. Zeke's Red faction has won at least two of the races, I won one, and I can't remember who won the other. Allen has shown a propensity for flipping his chariots. Joel has shown a tendency to go through horses. Surprisingly, Tom's NOT winning! It's fun, and we have a good time laughing at each other's misfortunes. I have noticed a tendency for whichever team gets out in front by a decent amount to pretty much run away with the race. I guess it makes sense, being a race and all, but it seems the 2nd through fourth place guys just beat up on each other so much and so often that number one has that much easier of a time with it. We'll see...maybe we simply need to learn to cooperate more and be less bloodthirsty!

Check out more accounts of our Game Nights in my Archives:

Game Nights Archive 5: Nov. 30, 2008 - Dec. 27, 2009

Game Nights Archive 4: Aug. 3, 2008 to Nov. 30, 2008

Game Nights Archive 3: Jan. 25, 2008 to Aug. 31, 2008

Game Nights Archive 2: Aug. 5, 2007 to Jan. 13, 2008

Game Nights Archive 1: Jan. 28, 2007 to July 5-8, 2007