Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Hot Lead 2015

Last Saturday, Beth, DJ, and I drove up to Stratford, ON, for Hot Lead, a very nice convention held every year in that fine city. It's a good size, had a number of vendors, quite a bit of gaming, and we get to see old friends we don't get to see in the winter. Andy, Martin, Steven, and Kevin had to be there early (Like 9:00am) because Kevin was assisting in the running of an early game. Our car came up later since we were there primarily for the shopping. I need my dose of lead/pewter/white metal!

"Another successful convention, guys! Just bring the cart up to the hovel there!"

A Napoleonic game in progress using Shako rules.

I watched a bit and kibbitzed with the Mad Padre who was general of the Baden contingent.

Some of the flower of Baden's metal manhood.

A Light dragoon regiment that controlled the entire end of the board...
even with a trash barrel of one rider's head.

Austrian Landwehr, fusiliers and grenadiers take the fight to the French.
Hoch Hapsburg!
Some space gaming with many and varied space ships
"In space, no one can hear you whine."
(Such a great line. I wish I'd said it first.)

A huge ancients game. Here are the Carthaginians - Gauls and the Citizen phalanx

The Roman legions form up.

Carthage's greatest tourist attraction - War elephants!
No Carthaginian army should be without them.

A Battletech game preparing to start.
That town is TOO pristine. Do something about it!

A WWI game preparing to start.
This was an afternoon offering, not the one Wayne and Kevin ran in the morning.
British and Imperial troops form up for an assault.

German troops in their staging area. They'll break into less rigid formation shortly.

Russians in the redoubt? It looks like it.

French preparing to assault? I'd think so.
A nice looking game and I don't know what rules were used.

RAFM miniatures ran a Steampunk RPG game with a huge airship and lots of adventurous folks.

The loot at the end of the day.
Pooka is doing a security check for anything edible.
I picked up some great things. More 15mm Aztecs and 15mm Pike&Shot Poles.
The bring-and-buy is always a great source of bargains

I enjoy this convention. I've been to Historicon, Fall In, and Winter War in the States. Hot Lead is not nearly as big, but it is more personable. The crowding is less, the comraderie is greater, and the stench of the unwashed is FAR less. Keep up the good work, James! I look forward to next year!

It's not just a story; it's a SAGA!

Some of the members of the Hamilton Road Gaming Group have been experimenting with the Dark Ages skirmish rule set called SAGA. I watched them do some gaming while Martin and I played Pike & Shotte a few weeks ago. Two weeks ago, we all tried it. (Last week, the bunch of us when to Hot Lead in Stratford, so we didn't gather at the library. That's another story... and blog.)

I watched while Andy, Kevin, Bear, Martin, and Ralph all pushed small groups of lead around the table. Byzantines fought Normans and Vikings fought Jomsvikings. There are some subtleties to the game and I decided to watch for a while in order to try to understand the "Battle Board." That still has be a bit confused.

Martin's Strategos doing his strategy thing. The shields mark fatigue - a big point in the rules.

Armoured Byzantine horse archers

Byzantine Psiloi or regular light troops
Martin's heavy cavalry - his elites or "hearthguard"
A small-ish horde of Jomsvikings...

... about to be flanked by the Byzantine cavalry.

Norman cavalry lined up to do mischief.

Norman levy archers, the least of the soldiery on the Norman side.

Jomsvikings with Ulfhednar on the hill.

Normans clash with the Byzantines
Some serious flanking action.

Looking at some plain ol' "bread-and-butter" vikings who were fighting their flashier
cousins, the Jomsvikings
When my turn came, I fielded 4 points of Normans - a warlord, 2 units of elites (4@), a unit of warriors/sergeants (8), and a unit of levy as peasant archers (12). I faced the Byzantines and was thrashed but not too badly. Martin advised me (The Grand Vizer) and said my die rolling was horrendous. I don't have any photos of my game since I was busy playing and getting used to/being confused by the Battle Board. That's going to take some time. The good thing is I don't have to buy any (or too many) new figures. What my wife and I have on hand will do fine. She's quite interested in running an Arthurian style outfit and the closest we could find was the Welsh faction. She's ready to field them soon.

It'll be a while before I play again. Holy Week and Easter is quite a busy time for pastors and after the Easter morning service, Beth will take me home in an Easter basket and I'll rest a while.

Now a few photos Andy took.
Norman archers lurking in the woods

Byzantine troops who I think are Skutatoi because of the spear, big shield, and armour.

Norman Cavalry

Byzantine heavies
I have to say the jury is still out for me on SAGA. I'll have to play a few games with warbands of my own choosing before I'll really understand it. But I'll keep trying!

Monday, 16 March 2015

Gaming in a broken month

I didn't blog last week... because I didn't play. My family and I were busy with a Society for Creative Anachronism event. This week Martin and I gamed a Thirty Years War battle using Warlord Games' "Pike & Shotte" rules. Next Saturday, my wife and I intend to head off to Kalamazoo, Michigan for a huge historical reenacting gathering. The week after that is the local gaming con, Hot Lead, in Stratford, ON. The week after that is Holy Week and Easter Saturday; I probably won't play anything that weekend because there's a good chance I'll be exhausted and will still have two large services to celebrate.

In any event, last Saturday at the Games Group, Martin fielded a German Imperial/Catholic army under Wallenstein while I set out an army of Swedes under Gustav Adolph defending the Protestant cause in that war. (I do understand the real reasons involved.) The game proved interesting. No one else played with us as the rest of the guys were either involved in a game of SAGA at the other table or were kibittzing at both tables.

Martin's infantry of the centre battaglia

His left flank cavalry including Wallenstein's bodyguard with lances.
These proved to be tough customers.

The right-centre battaglia

His right flank cavalry including his Croats
My right flank cavalry and the reserve brigade - almost all harquebusiers

The infanry brigade -right centre- including the elite Yellow and Green regiments
Not that it mattered.

the left centre infantry - including a Scots regiment

The far left flank including dragoons, light horse, and Finnish Hackapells.
There's some "commanded shot" from the other brigade out front of the cavalry.
Martin got the first move and came on quick. I have to admit that he knows his troops better than I and he wished to come to grips with the Swedes as quickly as possible. The Germans are better in hand-to-hand while the Swedes can out-shoot the Imperialists and have more cannon. He want to absorb as few salvos a possible. He refused his right and set the two infantry regiments into hedgehog as soon as he could. This tied up my left wing cavalry and dragoons. The fact that my dice rolling was abysmal didn't help. I failed a number of command rolls and the units stalled where they were.

The Tape Measure of Doom brings the Imperialist forward.

Martin's infantry around the rubber roads.

The Yellow Regiment takes on Martin's one elite unit.
The Blue Regiment moves up in support.

A Scots mercenary infantry regiment and a light gun.

The Imperial Cuirassiers clobber the Swedish harquibusiers on my right flank.
My brigade was torn apart and reduced to two regiments who had to flee.

Wallenstein's lance-armed bodyguards destroyed one of my two Cuirassier regiments.
They also smashed two Harquibusier regiments soon after.
This is one nasty unit.
Our infantry in the centre went toe-to-toe and I had the worst of it. I couldn't throw dice to save my life - which is messy when you're trying to make saving throws for your troops. I would lose the pikes in a regiment while the sleeves of shot stayed of vice-versa.
On my left. Martin tied up my Finns, light horse, and dragoons by doing NOTHING. Martin does love his "tar babies."
Finally two of my five brigades were shattered and we called it quits. His bodyguard lancers were a very tough crowd and since my dice were cold and since I fell for his trap, I had no legs to stand on.

An "after" photo of my hammered right wing cavalry. The lancers are disordered so we turn a stand side-ways.

Lots of action "at push of pike" on the left centre.

The Scots await the Imperialist charge. They've been reinforced by two stands of pike that had retreated earlier.

Imperial Infantry, even though they have French flags.
It's okay; most of my flags are Irish from Owen Roe O'Neill's army in the English Civil War.

Imperial guns. I had more guns on the Swedish side but they tended to be lighter.

The supreme command stand. It's supposed to be Wallenstein, although the flag says Turenne.

My stunned left flank cavalry and dragoons amidst the cardboard houses.

Martin's two hedgehogs and a command stand. I like the idea of round command stands.
They can't be mistaken for a regular unit and I'm going to rebase my commands.
Meanwhile at the other table, two games of SAGA were played. I don't know much about this system yet, but I imagine I'll play it soon enough. I watched a bit of the second game which appeared to be Crusaders vs. Saracens.

Bear's Saracen force.
A close-up of the Crusader force (Andy's photo)
Andy's photo of Saracen cavalry rounding the forest.
The Mentula Mustalae award in gold is seen here. This was not awarded by the official electors,
but by popular demand and might not be considered proper and of eternal memory.
The move must still have been nasty to receive such folk status.

Kevin's Crusaders
Another long view of the Saracens.

On Sunday, my family hosted a D&D 5th edition game for some friends. Two young fellows were to take part as their first out-of-the-house D&D experience. Sad to say, one young guy could not show up because of a scheduling problem. Still we had fun.

Katie (in the captain's chair), Tyler's son, Tyler, myself, and Greg (who is obscuring me in the photo)
sit around the dining room table. Beth took these photos.
Characters: a Tiefling cleric, a gnome rogue, a dwarf rogue, and a dragonborne barbarian.
I, of course, play the rest of the world.

Beth - who ran an elf ranger - took a few moments out to put the mac-and-cheese in the oven
and stir the sausage and sauerkraut.

Tyler makes his point... somehow.
("No, you have to roll for yourself!")

Tyler's son performs some higher math to add up his experience points.
Yes, he's wearing a "Minion" touque.

I don't know what happened here. I'm engaged in giving the "hairy eyeball" for some reason or another.
The game was fun and everybody succeeded although they took damage and got dirty. As a first outing, not bad. Next time, Greg's son will make it, I'm sure.
As an author's note, I like the 5th edition of D&D. The systems are simple and make their own sense within the game. Quite often, I rely on the player to know the effects of their magic or even their weapons. I did confuse them with a "scarecrow" which was uneffected by non-magical weapons and with a colossal armoured centipede which some of our more squeamish players were repulsed by.
Ah, success!