Sunday, 27 December 2015

Christmas Eve and Boxing Day

My whole family was home for a few days just before Christmas. Rob came home on the 23rd, Katie was already home, as were Beth and I, so we were all together for the festival day. Rob intended to be home for Boxing Day but he had to work and since he was being paid  time-and-a-half on Boxing Day and some bills had surfaced (like a 'gator in a swamp), we couldn't blame him.
On Christmas Eve, Beth and Rob played a game of SAGA - Beth's Welsh versus Rob's Vikings. It ended up being a fairly even match. I served as referee of sorts since my back was hurting a bit. 
Rob took a warlord, two units of hearthguard, two of warriors (Bondi), and two of levy (Thralls). Beth took a warlord (Arthur, of course), a unit of mounted hearthguard, three units of warriors (fielded as two units of 12), and two units of levy with bows and slings.

Rob's Ulfhednar hoody... worn for effect.

Viking warriors/Bondi and levy/Thralls. Since Rob's force is not complete he needed to borrow from my Irish faction force.

More Thrall and four female Hearthguard.

"Arthur" and his Welsh mounted Hearthguard

Beth's levy defend the house and wall while her warriors move to the attack.

Beth's Welsh warriors lurking in a wooded area.
(Late Roman or sub-Roman Briton figures by Essex, Griping Beast, and Old Glory)

Rob's Vikings move forward, His Jarl and Hearthguard are on the hill. Again, borrowed Irish but the Jarl was a Christmas gift to him.

A close-up of the Shield Maidens -
Wargames Factory huscarl bodies with Wargames Factory Female Zombie Survivor heads,
which work fine with a little filling.
Another view of the Welsh line of battle
The battle from overhead.
The Welsh hearthguard charged the Viking hearthguard and they each destroyed the other although Arthur survived.
The other Viking hearthguard - Berserkers all - charged into the flank of the Welsh at the wall and smashed them. The archers were destroyed to a man by the Berserkers with 2-handed axes.
The game was pretty even and neither side killed the others warlord. We went by victory points, which totalled up as Vikings - 19 to Welsh - 20. The Welsh won by points! Rob had to leave shortly after this for his girl-friends house for Christmas Eve, but both he and Beth enjoyed the game. His work schedule doesn't leave as much time as he'd like for this kind of gaming, but that could change over time.

On Boxing Day (December 26), we had scheduled a game of Traveller, d20 version -  a favourite RPG. Beth played her Darrian medical doctor with an interest in alien cultures. Katie ran her two characters - A Vargr ship's captain and a very interesting human noble with multiple personalities, a character tough to play but really adding a lot of fun to the game. DJ played his retired Imperial Marine Force Commander/Major who pilots the ship. Tyler had his human rogue/pirate with a scientifically enhanced monkey, while Ken played his "Quendi" rogue, a sort of space elf, for lack of a better description. (Rob's Aslan character was "on leave". Crew NPCs included a human drive lackey, an android, and two Unsine heavy weapons specialists - Yogi and Boo-Boo. All of these folks watched the ship while the party was away.) 
They joined an academic on an archaeological expedition to a lower tech planet to find possible Ancients artifacts. The Professor had a crack-pot scheme which put him on the "outs" with academia. When they arrived there as a security/assistant-ing/support team, the local aliens saw Ken's character and immediately went into religious awe! He was the Venerable One who was to fulfil the promises of the long-gone Fullness of Mysteries!

The party, the Professor, and his lovely assistant meet with the local denizens.
(If this sounds a little like The Man Who Would Be King award yourself a extra piece of Christmas gingerbread.) 
It ended up that the Venerable One (who told the rest of the party in his most venerable and revered voice, "Shut your cakehole now!") was to be thrown into the fusion reactor to join the Fullness of Mysteries... along with all his friends! For some reason, Ken objected to this and gave new religious commands that allowed him to "ascend" ("Shut up! I'm ascending!" and "Trust me; I'm your god!") with the help of flash-bang grenades, smoke bombs, an alien tractor-pressor projector, and his chameleon-configuration Combat Environment Suit. The Professor objected to this trickery, so DJ tranked him while his assistant put him in a choke hold. The party ended up gathering some really interesting alien/possibly Ancient goodies and high-tailing it into the next subsector. A good thing too, since DJ tired to blow up the Professor's ship, first by having his ship's AI hack into the Professor's ship (Failure #1!) and then planting an alien explosive aboard. (Failure #2!) As the ship's went their separate ways, the party (well, DJ anyway) notices hidden insignia on the Professor's ship - the open-eye insignia of the Imperial Bureau of Internal Security! Things could get interesting in the future. Beth's abilities to dope out alien equipment was vital in discovering what these alien gee-gaws could do.

In case you were wondering, it's wonderful to have a wife who games!

Beth, always wear a visor so you won't be blinded by science!

So? She's an alien.

I'm going to take it light between Christmas and New Year's. I hope my wife and I can get a Napoleonics game in, and maybe we'll do some small SAGA skirmishes. I hope you're holidays are all great.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Christmas party at the library

Yesterday the Hamilton Road Games Group held it's annual pre-Christmas party at the Crouch Branch library in London, ON. Traditionally (meaning we've done it for more than 2-3 years), we play a game of Wings of War, a WWI aircraft game with miniatures. We add Snoopy on his doghouse as well as Santa's sleigh to the game for a seasonal feel. We added a game of Where Heroes Dare, a Pulp Era small group game from Iron Ivan. It was a variation of what was done last year.

Martin, Katie, myself, Kevin, and few of the local kids who come to the library prepare for the game.
Since we also bring cookies, hot chocolate, cupcakes, and other goodies, it gets to be a popular place.

Snoopy, the Red Baron, and Eddie Richenbacher take a go-round in the air.
I "flew" the Baron's plane and was the first to be destroyed by an in-air explosion.
The first player downed comes back in as Santa in the sleigh.

The Snoopy miniature counts as a Sopwith Camel and is a home-make paper model based on a down-loaded one.

More planes in a swirling dog fight. Katie liked the pusher.

Can't you just hear it? "I'll get you, Red Baron!"

The sleigh enters the fray although we broke for lunch soon after.
Kevin and Martin and one or two others when to the laundromat across the street for pulled pork sandwiches.
Yes, you read that correctly.
The Where Heroes Dare game was almost the same as last year's: Santa and the elves have been captured by the Krampus and the Grinch and their muscle - some gangsters and some Stormtroopers, both the Imperial/Star Wars and the Freikorps/trench raider varieties. A number of teams of heroes are tasked with freeing Santa and saving Christmas. As games master, I took the Krampus and hid the hostages in various places on the board.

Here were the other teams:
  • Bear captained the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
  • My son, Rob was Sherlock Holmes and Scotland Yards finest
  • My daughter, Katie led the adventurers from the music of Steam Powered Giraffe, her favourite band.
  • One of the local girls handled the Shadow ("The weed of crime bears bitter fruit!") and his team with Kevin's help
  • Martin upheld the tradition of the Force and had Sergeant Preston and a team of the RCMP with warrants to arrest EVERYBODY!
  • My wife, Beth fielded a fearsome patrol of the Toyland Fencible Infantry, teddybears all.
The Shadow and his team including Moe Schrebnitz, Margo Lane, the Physicist, the Waiter, and a street tough.

The Steam Powered Giraffe team - Professor Walter, Bunny, Captain Albert Alexander, Rex Marksley, and Lily who flew a mean aeroplane... until Inspector Lestrade of Scotland Yard damaged her engine with his two pistols.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Alan Quartermain, Captain Nemo, Dr. Jeckyl/Mr. Hyde (that the Hulk-ish guy in the centre. It takes a turn to change.), Mina Harker, and the Invisible Man (the empty base in him being invisible.)

The Toyland Fencibles at the advance! Bravely led by Captain Edward "Pooh" Gund-Steiff (seen here on his trusty steed)
and First Lieutenant Teddy von Tedenberger, the entire rescue force was named "Ted." My wife painted the majority of these figs; I will admit to doing the flags.
Sergeant Preston and King with their stalwart Mounted Police. "The Commissioner" (lower right) joined them but had no real part in the adventure.

Santa, chief Elf Bernard, Dominic the Christmas Donkey, Chris or die Weihnachtsmaus, the hippopotamus everybody wants for Christmas, Christmoose, and a few elves who look like aliens. (Why not?)
Die Weihnachtsmaus is the fellow who is blamed for anything that goes wrong at Christmas time - a handy German custom!
("Who ate the cookies and got into the gingerbread?" "Don't look at me! It was Die Weihnachtsmaus, of course!")

The Toyland Fencibles with their field music.

Sherlock Holmes, Gladstone the bulldog, Dr. Watson, Inspector Lestrade, and a few PCs from the Yard.
The Krampus, the Grinch and his dog, Max, four mobsters, and seven stormtroopers made up the evil destroyers of Christmas cheer.
Rob and Kevin discuss what-ever as the teams take the table.

The North Pole village

Actually a rather inviting place, with surprises in many of the houses.
The League advances to confront the evil doers. Dr. Jekyll has not changed yet and the Invisible man still wears his over coat and hat - It IS the North Pole, you know!

Holmes and Watson deduced that Santa was in the big house. They made short work of the Grinch and his stormtroopers, who actually DID hit what they shot at, taking out 3 police constable and the Hippo everybody wants for Christmas. Our sturdy adventurers now had to hustle Santa off the table.

The Shadow and his team confront the great four-armed snow ape, which appeared as they entered the circle of standing stones. Was this the source of Santa's magic power? We may never know!

The Toyland Fencibles and the RCMP assault the house holding the Krampus and the elves. Beth's Fencibles dragged off the severely wounded Krampus to face justice in the Toyland courts, while Martin's RCMP detatchment arrested everyone else, even the dead mobsters. Martin got a little RCMP-OCD  and repeated he had warrants to arrest the entire table.
The teddybears ignored him.

Lily flew a strafing mission over the great four-armed snow ape and really hurt him. Between this, the Shadow's automatics and Sergeant Preston's amazing sniping, the ape was taken down.

How did the RCMP get into the Krampus' house? Well, they met a friendly Time Lord who agreed to use his TARDIS to bring them all into that building. I think Martin tried to arrest the Doctor, but you can guess how that worked out.
The League overwhelms a Russian mobster who was on sentry duty with his PpSH SMG.

A big-time overview of the action.

Lily attempted to stop Scotland Yard and the Baker Street team from spiriting Santa away. All she got as a damaged engine for her trouble.

The Toyland Fencibles advancing into the village. A lone Freikorp stormtrooper is surprised by the bears' quick action.

The Grinch and his stormtroopers (Imperial and Freikorps) open fire on the Baker Street team. The constables and the hippo everybody wants for Christmas took the brunt of it. Holmes, Gladstone, and Watson took the stormtroopers down in hand-to-hand combat while Lestrade took out the Grinch with his two Webleys.

The Shadow and his team free Dominic the Christmas Donkey.

The League heads off with Santa's bag of toys as their victory swag.
Each team captured something of great value to the Christmas legends, like Santa's toys, the Christmas Donkey, the Krampus' remains, or Santa himself. If there WERE a winner, Rob would be close since he actually got Santa and die Weihnachtsmaus off the table where they could be picked up by airship or some-such vehicle. It was all for fun anyway.

My thanks to all the Hamilton Road Games Group members for playing along in both games, to Iron Ivan Games for letting me mess with their fine set of rules for pulp adventure games, to Steam Powered Giraffe for allowing my daughter to set up a team in their honour. (I hear they're great gamers themselves.)

Merry Christmas - however you celebrate it - and Happy New Year to all the readers!

"And I heard him exclaim ere he flew out of sight 'Merry Christmas to all and to all, a good night!' "

Another Delayed Blog --- Over the Top 2015

It has been a bit busy and I've not been keeping up with current events as it were. A few weeks ago, Andy, Kevin, Martin, and I journeyed to Brantford, ON to take part in a games day. We met Ralph, Dan, and Mark there as well as a number of other people we knew. It wasn't a convention as conventions usually go. There were a few vendors from the local area and a number of games were offered, but there were no panels, discussions, or presentations. Just games, and that's what we go to thing like this for, not so?

In the morning, we played an American Civil War game using Ralph's 25mm figs and the Black Powder rules. It was a good game although my luck held and it was all bad. My troops failed to activate during a number of turns and when they did activate there were cut to pieces half the time. I controlled a mixed brigade of two infantry regiments, one cavalry regiment, and a batch of "pickets" which usually mean skirmishers.

the field of battle - Confederate lines to the left, Union to the right.

My infantry brigade, including a veteran Zouave regiment... not that it helped.

Rebel infantry. Oddly they all seem to hail from the Carolinas.

More Rebel foot behind the plowed field.
The most amazing play in the game was a melee in which 15 hits were scored against the Union side, which promptly saved 14 of them! This should be a record.

My cavalry finally activated and countercharged the Reb horsemen... who sent my boys packing in one round of melee. My pickets also did the same sort of run-off. My opponent turned his infantry to attempt to flank the player on my right, but he got bogged down and was concerned I might flank HIM! No worries! I couldn't activate my infantry enough to do any more than amble forward a little bit. Not my best day in the lists.

Another Confederate brigade

The Boys in Blue answer the challenge.

The fight over the field heats up.

My pickets/skirmishers wander forward without enthusiasm or direction.

My cavalry regiment prepares to counter-charge (and melt away like an ice cube on the front steps in August.)

Ralph in his Flame shirt instructs.

All the troops were Ralph's and the terrain was Andy's. We hope to capitalize on this in the new year with both Ralph and Martin (from J&M Miniatures) bringing their substantial collections of ACW troops to the Hamilton Road Games Group. I'll keep you informed.

Later in the day, Andy and I hosted a "Tiger Hunt" game, a Disposable Heroes "free-for-all" where each player starts with a Tiger I and runs it until it's knocked out. The respawn (as it were) with a Panther until that's knocked out. They then respawn as a Mark IV. After that, you're sidelined. This makes for a fun game, especially for younger players. It also serves as a primer for the rules for armoured fighting in the DH/C7B game system by Iron Ivan.

Mark, another friend Dan, two adult women, and an adolescent girl played. The young lady truely enjoyed the game and was quite vocal in her delight when she brewed up an enemy tank.

A view of the lovely village of Panzerdorf-am-Schlecht.

Down near the sheep pasture.

The game... already in progress.

 One targeted and one brewed up.

Panzerdorf-am-Schlecht with a view of Flat Oak Hill.
(I was given some "flats" of the old school type a number of years ago. I ended up calling them Flat Oaks.)
My understanding is that we hope to have games days like this every three months or so in various venues in Southwestern Ontario as a way of keeping interest, communication and cross-pollination going. There are possibly three or maybe four true conventions within a day's drive of where I live, so this alternative is a way of keeping interest alive and avoid wargaming isolation.