Thursday, June 27, 2013

Grand Re-basing Project

In October 2004, Jef Lauzon, my long-time friend and ancient opponent passed away. He was 56 years old, an age that I have reached.  Jef moved to Halifax from Montreal at some point in the early 1980s. Years later, he'd say he moved to Nova Scotia,  after voting "Oui" in the May 1980 Quebec Referendum.  Jef liked to try to get a rise out of people and he told me this story a number of times after I moved to Quebec. 

Chariots on original 40mm wide bases were added to 

60mm Wide Elements. The Edges were built up

Elephants Re-based

He was a fierce competitor. He wasn't above using Scotch to dull my wits in our WRG 5th and 6th edition ancient matches. From him, I learnt much about the game. He was the opponent that I never beat. I kept going back, despite the punishment. As in chess, one improves by playing against the best. I regret that I was never able to convert him to the 7th Edition rules. If I had, I might not be writing this particular post.

I received a call from his widow, Annette. The time had come to downsize the collection. She kept an army for herself, and both Dru and Chris, sons of his first marriage took the armies they wanted. Annette called to ask me I wanted Jef's Roman Army.  I was surprised but pleased, that she thought of me and immediately said yes. It was an army that I fought countless times over the years and one which caused me constant heartache. It even contained a unit that I painted in the late 1970s.

Example Romans After Debasing.

Legionnaries in Centre are an example of my early paint job.  My First Roman Army consisted of  Airfix Plastics.  We exchanged  24-man units.  I know for certain that my painting skills have improved.

Two boxes of figures arrived about a week later. Last month was time to take stock. The army was in storage since its arrival. One reason is that the majority of the figures were individually based. Jef liked the flexibility that it provided.  I knew that it was going to take a while to redo. In addition to the Romans, there were Celtic Chariots; Indian and African Elephants: and Greek Cavalry and Infantry. 

Cavalry on the Right needs to be Soaked

I didn't redo any of the Light Infantry or Horse

Each day  I would soak a couple of units in water in order to soften the glue. Each evening I'd spend an hour or so, detaching the miniatures from their individual bases. The figures were then mounted  for the WRG/DBX family of rules. Sometimes it seemed to be a hopeless struggle. I replaced numerous blades of my utility knife.  I'd swear that it would have been easier to have used a hammer and chisel on some of the bases. But finally after three weeks, the job was done.

Greek Phalanx on Double Ranked Elements 

Step one is complete.  I still have to use texture paint and flocking to complete the makeover, but I think the worst part of the job has been done.

List of Troops that were rebased:

Nation Type DBX Elements Figures
Celts MCh Kn 6 6
Late Roman SHC Kn 3 12
Persan (Sassanid ) El El 3 3
Roman HC Cav 8 24
Roman HC/MC Cav 13 39
Roman HI Blades 24 96
Roman LC Lh 20 40
Roman LHI Aux 8 32
Roman LI Psiloi 26 52
Roman LMI Aux 22 66
Roman LMI Bw 6 24
Roman MC Cav 5 15
Roman MCm Cav 2 6
Successors El El 5 5
Successors HC Cav 4 12
Successors HI Pike 11 44
Successors HI Pike 16 64
Successors HI/MI Spear 8 24
Successors HI/MI Spear 9 36
Successors HI/MI Spear/Pike 2 8
Successors LC Lh 17.5 35
Successors LI Psiloi 27 54
Successors LMI Aux/War 3 12
Successors MI Bow 6 24
Totals: Elements/ Figures 254.5 733

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cangames 2013 Day 3 Sunday May 19th

It’s another late night with beer and pizza and good friends. The sun arrives far too early and with 5 guys sharing one bathroom I decide to forego the morning shower and shave. It’s 8:30 AM and I head over to the convention by myself. I didn't preregistered for anything but I am sure that there will be something available for me. I am torn between the annual Diplomacy Tournament hosted by Ken Murray or trying out a new rule set. The miniature game wins out.

9:00 AM: Recon to the Reichstag by Tod Creasey.

View of the Terrain

This Bolt Action game is designed for 12 players at a beginner level and I always try to play at least one new system at Cangames. It’s a chance for me to check the waters without any outlay. The rules are a collaboration between Osprey Publishing and Warlord Games.  Bolt Action is the name of Warlord Games’ line of 28mm WW2 miniatures. I have a collection of about 150 WW2 Soviet infantry (mostly Westwind Productions and Black Tree Design) in 28mm, along with three T-34 tanks, for use with The Face of Battle, that can be played in a Bolt Action game as is.

Selecting the Trroops

IMO the simplicity of the game lies in its method of activation and actions. Each unit in play is represented by a 6 sided die. The referee pulls one die at a time from an oblique container and announces whether it was Soviet or German. The die is handed to the C-in-C of that side. It is then passed to a sub-commander who announces which unit he/she will activate and then places the die next to the unit with a selected action face up.  The six possible actions are: 1. fire, 2. advance, 3. run, 4. ambush, 5. rally, and 6. down.

I selected 1 Half Track, 1 LMG Team (mounted in Half-Track)and a 6-man SMG Squad on Foot

These actions are all fairly self-explanatory: fire allows the unit to shoot at full effect whilst remaining stationary, advance allows the unit to move and shoot but at reduced rate and effect, run allows the unit to move at maximum speed without shooting, ambush puts the unit into ‘ready mode’ and allows it to shoot later, as opportunity fire, at enemy units that move into sight, rally reduces the number of hit markers on the unit, while down simply gets the unit to take cover, making it harder to hit.

The Soviets I will Face in the Battle
10-man Rifle Squad and a 10-man SMG Squad

Units have to pass a morale roll in order to carry out an order, which can be modified by the presence of officers, the quality of the troops and the number of accumulated hits on the unit. When hits are taken, your opponent rolls to try to convert them to kills, which remove figures from the game. In the shooting phase each figure fires (throws) dice based upon the type of weapon carried. A rifle gives one die, a SMG allows you to throw 2 dice, an LMG team giving 3 dice. Fire is directed unit against unit. The roll is modified by range, cover, movement etc.

The Soviets Advance Quicker than I

My SMG Squad takes Two Hits as I Cross the Road. 

I Go Down and Take Cover

Once the ref has emptied the bag, the turn is over. If a unit is eliminated from play, its die is removed from the pool. I found it to be a simple system that allowed for quick play. Once we understood how the combat tables worked the game ran rather quickly. The main problem laid in getting your commander’s attention to be given the die or dice you need.

I get very lucky. Better yet, the Soviets are very unlucky. They Fail to Destroy my SMG Unit by Fire from their SMG Squad. They then failed in a Close Assault with their Rifle Squad.

Based upon my experience in this game I will be making an outlay at some point in order to purchase these rules.

My Troops are receiving support from a friendly Stug III

My Half-Track and LMG Team have outflanked the Soviets

The Remains of the SMG Squad clear the Position

2:00 PM: Plassey 1757 by Nick Swales.

According to Wikipedia, " The Battle of was a decisive victory of the British East India Company over the Nawab of Bengal and his French allies on 23 June 1757. The battle established the Company rule in Bengal which expanded over much of India for the next hundred years. The battle took place at Plassey (anglicised version of Palashi) on the banks of the Bhagirathi River (another name of Hooghly Riverupstream of Calcutta), about 150 km north of Calcutta and south of Murshidabad, then capital of Bengal.

The forces of Siraj-ud-Daulah, Nawab of Bengal

The troops of Mir Jafar awaiting their orders

Siraj-ud-Daulah had a numerically superior force and made his stand at Plassey. The British, worried about being outnumbered, formed a conspiracy with Siraj-ud-Daulah's demoted army chief Mir Jafar, along with others who assembled their troops near the battlefield but made no move to actually join the battle. Siraj-ud-Daulah's army was defeated by roughly 3,000 soldiers of Col. Robert Clive, owing to the flight of Siraj-ud-daulah from the battlefield and the inactivity of the conspirators.”

Lord Clive's Command Stand

This was a six player game using the DBR rules. Nick provided three magnificently painted 15mm armies to take part in the game. There were the soldiers of the Honourable East India Company and the army of Siraj-ud-daulah, the last independent Nawab of Bengal, and standing in the wings the forces under Mir Jafar. Whose side were they on, who knew, or which way was the wind blowing? 

Both Sides Advance. The Bengalis take the Reservoirs.

I played the part of Clive, commanding the troops of the HEIC, with my two  sub commanders. Joseph took command of the right flank and I the left, with Simon in command of the centre. Our forces were fairly evenly divided. Paul took a cavalry command under Siraj-ud-Daulah and was joined by Duncan and Mark.

Clive rushes to join his Troops

Rgts of the East India Company Advance

One thing I like about the rule set is the ability of units outside of tactical range (240 paces) to continue to use additional pips to keep moving. This can allow some grand manoeuvers.
Until the very end I was not sure if we could pull a victory out of the hat or not. 

After the Battle, Lord Clive Meets with Mir Jafar

The forces of Mir Jafa were controlled by the referee and released depending on how the game was going. Some of those troops initially activation joined the native side. Later in the game, others joined up with the company. My greatest fear was of the right flank being smashed by a sudden release of the majority of Mir Jafar’s forces against the Company. Finally, the Bengalis reached their breaking point and victory was ours.

Meanwhile next door to us was another interesting game.

7:00 PM: DBA Tournament  DBA 2.2 ‐ Tod Creasey 

Intermediate ‐ 4 rounds open book DBA tournament with NASAMW clarifications. Players can bring their own armies or borrow one of the loaners provided. Some degree of teaching the rules will be provided but players should be aware this is a tournament. Prize is a painted 15mm army.

I arrived with three armies.  I was going to play using my Seleucids, and I brought two loaners. Paul planned to borrow my Nikaian Byzantine army, but I also had Mongol Conquest Army for the use of any who needed an army to play.

This tournament is what I look forward to the most at Cangames. Normally, it is the only time in the year I get to play DBA. My first match was against a gentleman by the name of Chris. Chris, like Paul used to play WRG years ago, but never played DBA. He borrowed my Mongol Conquest Army from me for duration of the tournament.

I must apologize to Chris if I lost my cool, but we were playing in a competition. Each round is of 45 minutes length and after 20 minutes, he had failed to complete his set-up. The clock was ticking. I don’t mind losing, and I don’t mind teaching the game, but I want to complete my match. Finally we were engaged in close combat when Tod walked by and told us to finish the round. I was fortunate in that I achieved three more kills and was able to walk away not only with a completed match, but a win. I would have been upset if we were halted with a draw.

My second match was against Nick Swales and his Indian Army. It was the second time today I faced his figures, the previous being in the Battle of Plassey game. Due to the shortest of the DBA matches I didn’t take any photos, nor make any but the briefest of notes. I can do no more than announce a 2nd victory in the evening.

My third match of the evening was against Mike Abbott and his Viking Army. It was a close run game but in the end I destroyed four of his element for the loss of two of mine. This was the third year I faced Mike in the tournament and the 2nd time I've defeated him.

My final match of the evening was against Duncan Martelock. We were the only undefeated participates in the tournament and were waiting for the next round of play to begin. So Tod matched us up and said we could start early if we wanted. Duncan fought using a Middle German army, which was very impressive. Along with elements of six knights, he also had two war wagons. It covered a lot of space.

This was an interesting match because I recently painted a Hussite Army with War Wagons, but I had never faced them in game. It was for that reason I decided not to deploy them this year. Next year may be a different matter.

Of the troops I had at my disposal only my elephant offered a real chance to get a kill on the war wagons. It was going to be a difficult match and despite my best attempts I failed to get the upper hand. In the end, Duncan won his second DBA tournament and I walked away for the third time (2006 Welsh Army, 2010 Burgundian Army) in 2nd place. As a consolation prize I received an unpainted 15mm Viking Army to which I have already added a black base coat.

At this time I want to thank all the volunteers and the people who year after year help put on Cangames. I for one am appreciative of your efforts and enjoy the chance to go to Ottawa and game in an atmosphere of friendly mayhem.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Cangames 2013 Day 2 Saturday May 18th

It is an early morning, and we have to get ready to head over to the convention site. Desperately needed, in short supply are coffee and tea As is the purchase of an air pump based upon last night's comedy. We were up until 1:30 AM, preparing artist board bases, upon which to display our units for the painting competition. The idea was by Joseph and both Paul and I thought it was worthy of use. Joseph had purchased enough supplies to go around. My first game is at 9:00 AM and I wanted to get my figures entered in the painting competition, and to get to my game on time.

9:00 AM Spaghetti Western by Gilbert Collins.

It was 9:03 and I was the twelfth and final gunslinger to arrive. They were about to give away my spot, for which I had preregistered. This is a wildly popular game, play with a set of home grown rules played to the last man, or woman standing. The object is very straight forward. Reach the centre of the board, in this scenario, an abandoned farmhouse: search for a bag of gold and exit from whence your character came.

Five more Players with the GM  on the left
Three Players to My Left
The GM randomly dealt characters to the players around the table and then explained the rules. Briefly when your character was selected, by draw of a card, you could perform one action. Walk, run, crawl, go to cover, fire, aim, reload etc… I think if you had a total of 5 hits you were dead. When you fired your weapon you gave one ammo marker to the GM. You’re forced to scavenge ammo to reload, unless you have a shotgun and then you carry a couple of extra rounds.  The GM also encouraged us to make alliances with the people closest on the tabletop in order to survive the start of the game. I lasted until 10:45.

The Target

My character is based on Frank, played by Henry Fonda in the classic film Once Upon a Time in the West by Sergio Leone. I am an expert with my pistol having 3 dice to roll.  On my right I have an agreement with Harmonica (played by Charles Bronson in the same film), and another with a nameless character on my left. A mistake on my part, Harmonica is true to his word, but not the same with the character on my left who along with his ‘brother’ open fire on my back as I approach the stone wall that I hoped to use for cover, against the teams approaching from the others side of the board.

My Figure: Armed with Pistol not Shotgun

My Card
Different people have different styles of play. On the far end of the board it seemed the players commenced firing on one another at the start of the game. There was another player with a sharpshooter rifle who seemed to only be interested in a body count. If you were wounded and he could spot you, he tried to finish you off.  Once dead I saw no point remaining in watching the carnage and went off to find breakfast.

Almost to Cover but Shot in the Back

Notice the body near the well

2:00 PM: Last Flight of the Leper Colony by Bernhard Holmok

The Leper Colony

Over the years at Cangames I've taken photos of many of the games that Bernhard has run. This was the first time that I played. This year he ran both the Dambusters game (Friday night and Sat morning) and this, a scenario inspired by Dr. Strangelove. The game is elegant in its simplicity. The players are all on one side, fighting against the system. In our case, Soviet Air Defenses which grow stronger and stronger the deeper into the Rodina-Mat that we flew. I would assume that it was the same format used in his Dambusters game.

Strike Missions Entering Soviet Air Space
The table was three 8 foot table lengths long, divided into 2 foot bands.  Each band had random events, SAM missile batteries or fighters. Once we passed the half way mark on the table we started to encounter secondary targets, with the primaries located far in the distance in the end table. With each move forward you were allowed to adjust your altitude (Low, Medium, High) which altered some of the search results against your plane, or you could shift from your flight path into an adjacent lane. There were three streams on the board, left, right and centre.

The game was for 8 players, including 2 members of the French Force de Frappe, 2 planes of the RAF, and the rest were American. I ended up flying the Leper Colony, the B-52 Bomber commanded by Major T.J. King Kong. No one else it seemed wanted to be a large lumbering target.

Soviet MIG-21 launching AA Missile
SAM Battery in position
SAMs and MIGs enter the fray.
Events could be deadly or humorous, as was the one I drew labelled survival kit. And to quote the movie, which it did in most part I received: one forty-five caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days' concentrated emergency rations; one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair of nylon stockings.

As Major Kong said,  a fella' could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.

Here on turn 3 we see the Brits taking a Missile up a tailpipe.
In the next move the Brits pass a random event card to me. The Leper Colony is the target of a random SAM missile. I try to brazen it out with my flying and not waste a flare.

I am certain I will need all I carry as I fly deeper into the enemy's territory. This is a mistake on my part because I take 3 points of damage. My plane's airframe can withstand 20 points but I am doomed and don't know it.

Turn 6: I draw a random event. Fuel Leak. Because of the 3 point hit I took in turn 4
I now have 3 turns left in the air. My primary targey is out of range.
I was forced to turn around to go at the nearest secondary

Bomb's Away

Heading Away from the Blast: Another Airfield Dead Ahead
Once things went hot, mushrooms were spouting all over the board. I took an early hit which caused me to divert to a secondary target. I was leaking fuel and only had three turns left in the air. Afterwards I tried to aim for a Russki airfield to ditch the plane, but I was assured by the ref that I wouldn’t make it.

The theme of this year’s convention was Armageddon, and this game fits the bill. I hope Bernhard was recognized for his fantastic efforts.

Fortunately for our side, most of the allies were able to get through to the main targets. Murmansk is taken out by the Force de Frappe. Congratulations to Paul and his wing-man.

My Best Major Kong Impersonation.
 I didn't have a White Stetson.
7:00 PM: Junta hosted by Norel Rebin

This game is a long-time favorite of mine and I try to play every 2nd year at Cangames alternating between it and Rail Baron. Norel does a great job at hosting this event with as many as 3 games going on at once. He prearranges the budget amounts so each table will receive the same amount of budget in turn. The cards and players will do the rest. This year the Atlantic Simulations Society was well represented with four players at two boards and Mike providing commentary. In the final analysis Stuart won 2nd place and I took third.

The game is played with some home rules. The Minister must attempt to assassinate somebody each turn, and the President must always stress how bad the economy is. Everyone receives a free Megabuck if they have to play a card that requires money to attempt an assassination. Things can be bloodly.

Taken from Boardgame Geek we have the following description for Junta:

Players represent various office holders in the ruling Junta. Depending upon his office and the various cards he holds, each player has a certain number of votes. These are important as they must first elect El Presidente and then vote on the budget that he proposes. Here's where it can get sticky. El Presidente draws cards face down from the money deck (which varies in denomination from $1 to $3) and must propose a budget for the year, distributing the money as he sees fit amongst the various offices. Of course, loyalty to him is usually rewarded, while those pesky 'thorns in his side' are usually cut off completely. The beauty of all this, though, is that El Presidente can - and most always does - keep some of the loot for himself. And since no one but he knows the value of what he drew, no one knows how much he's keeping. Suspicion is always keen.

Players may attempt to assassinate the other players by guessing where they will be from among five locations. Players who successfully assassinate another player take that player's money, as the only safe money is the money that has been deposited in a Swiss bank account, and the only way to get to the bank is to survive the assassination round.

If the players are unhappy, and there is an excuse, they can call for a coup, where the opposition players seek to take control of a majority of the power centers. Rebel players control the forces of the role which they were assigned (e.g. army, navy, air force), and players loyal to El Presidente do the same, seeking to control the strongholds until the rebellion is quelled.

The goal is to amass the greatest wealth secreted away in your Swiss bank account

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Cangames 2013 Day 1 Friday May 17th

Paul, Mike and I didn't leave Montreal until noon on Friday so it wasn't until almost 4:00 PM that we arrived on the site. I had hoped to sign up for a Samurai Battles game hosted by Mike Abbott, but with my late arrival time, it was not to be.

I like the format that Cangames offer. The doors open Friday at noon and close Sunday about midnight. The convention is organized into 4 hour time slots with an hour break between sessions. These sessions can be sub-divided into 2 for shorter games. Thus we have two sessions Friday and three on each Saturday and Sunday as the first games start each morning at 9:00 AM.

The first game I looked at was a recreation of the Battle of Put-in-Bay, Sept 10, 1813, hosted again this year by Patrick Laffey. Last year was the 200th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812, and the theme of the convention was Flames Across the Border. This game certainly fits the bill. The rules are Rocket’s Red Glare and the objective is for the British to sweep the Yankees (or our American cousins) from Lake Erie. Our friend Joseph who arrived earlier in the day was deeply involved in the fray when we showed up. 

It was a scenario that I played last year and enjoyed immensely. I believe the model ships used for the game from the Pirates of the Spanish Main by WizKids. I am not a fan of the collectable card game genre but this clearly illustrates how one arm of our hobby can utilize tools of another branch.

Martian Temple
Friday afternoon is not that busy. The crowd really begins to arrive after 5:00 PM. The evening session commences at 7:00 PM and I was looking forward to a leisurely dinner. However Joseph’s game went to almost 6:00 PM.

I wrote to Pat Gilliland earlier that I looking forward to taking part in his Space 1889 (Soldier’s Companion rules) scenario, "For the Honour of Mars". Pat wrote up the scenario on his blog, Irr Wb (F). He forgot to bring his camera along so I provided him with access to the photos I took. Unfortunately, they tended to be from my POV, or at least my side of the table.

Ben, Pat (Our GM) and Paul
I played the part of the commander of her Majesty’s Forces. Paul although he held (that is to say lost) the left flank was my right hand man. We were joined by a young gentleman by the name of Ben who took charge of the right flank held (that is to say lost) by a unit of colonials (Canadian).

My Unit occupying the Monorail Track with HQ in Reserve 
The objective of the scenario was to be the side in control of a Martian Temple, located near the centre of the table at the end of the game. Between it and my command was an embankment with a primitive monorail system. (see Pat’s Blog). The embankment provided us initially with cover, and later the advantage of high ground.

Paul's Command Waits for the Order to Advance
I have a copy of the rules and have read them. This was the first time I played a game with them.They remind me of The Sword and the Flame, especially in how units are structured. My only real complaint was with the initiative system. Even with a plus one to the British die roll for being regular, we rarely had the initiative. This results in our forces sitting there, unable to move and only ordering defensive fire.

The Left Flank Finally Advances
After repeated attempts by my sub commanders to take initiative I was finally forced to leave my tent and deal with the situation myself. Success, we were finally on the move.  At one point the Martian players had 5 turns in a roll. At a couple of other points in the game, they had 3 turns in a roll each time. It hurts.

Skillful use of the native terrain.

My unit, in line takes command of the embankment, overlooking the walled Temple. My HQ staff forms reserve. Paul’s command, with his Landship await to advance on my left flank, the Canadians under Ben's, in open order, do so on the right. 

Canadians in Open Formation Hold the Monorail Line
They immediately come under fire from the Martian guns. The Martians make good use of the brush to mask their advance. Enemy flyers on liftwood dominate the skies.

Martians High on Liftwood
Former Confederate Guns sold to the Natives.
Once Paul has occupied his high ground I order my unit to advance on the temple. Paul's command is assaulted by a Martian horde. As is mine.

Martians close to hand to hand Fighting with Imperial Forces

Paul guts the enemy in front of him, but fails his morale. His unit breaks and runs for cover leaving the Landship alone on the hill. My flank is hit by Martian cavalry which I beat off. The Canadians have finally taken enough from long distance fire and an assault from the air by Martian flyers.

Colonial Infantry Breaks
My right flank scurries for cover. Fortunately, on the far right a train enters with an artillery piece as our reinforcements. Ben will have something to command. In spite of these reversals I continue my advance to the temple courtyard walls. 

Despite an offer of Honourable Surrender Martian Cavalry Fights to the Last 

I announce that I have seen the movie Gunga Din and I expect hordes of natives to come steaming out of the temple and over the walls towards my troops. I was not disappointed. The Guardians of the Temple hurl themselves, for naught against my valiant line. They are quickly swept away. 

Hidden Guardians of the Temple about to Spring their Ambush
Martian Horde Fails at the Temple Walls

Our Gracious Opponents 
It is 10PM, and the game is called. I am disappointed with the results. The Martians still control the Temple. I am confident in the ability of my command to successfully assault the courtyard and to take control of the structure. I am also certain in my ability to hold off the remaining Martians. Alas it was not to be.

Thanks to Pat for putting on a great game. I enjoyed following his preparations for the scenario on his blog and it was great to see how it all came together. Everyone enjoyed themselves and there were exciting moments for all the players. I look forward to another attempt…

While our game was going on Joseph was taking part in Garth Elliott’s Ogre game. 

The other game that had my interest was Operation Chastise: The Dambusters 70th Anniversary, run by Bernhard Holmok. 

There were so many games to play and just the one of me.