Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hotlead 2017

I've run out of cute titles for this report on Hotlead 2017, probably because I'm still suffering from sleepiness and random napping episodes after another fun-filled weekend in Stratford.  I'm just going to cover the games I played, other games around me, and my selling and shopping experiences in this post, then I'll cover my two (yes, two!) sessions as game host in a follow-up report.

My buddy Ron and I drove up together, so my Friday started with a mid-afternoon departure from Peterborough to meet Ron after he finished his afternoon shift as a crossing-guard in Pickering.  We hit the road ahead of schedule from his place, and despite some iffy predictions in the days leading up to the weekend, the weather was great.  Traffic was pretty good until we hit Cambridge, and then there was a lot of swearing in the car as traffic slowed to a crawl for no apparent reason (all the construction is off to the side of the highway) and turned our arrival into a bit of a scramble to eat, check in, and set up my Friday game.  I basically ended up doing all three at once.

I'll cover the game in another post, but here are some shots of what was going on Friday:
The shots above and below are general views of the crowd that night, folks were saying there was a lot going on for a Friday.  They're taken from my table, which was very conveniently right beside the bar :-)
I'm going through the schedule for the night to figure out which game is which, this is "Send Pirates, Guns & Money!" by the fellow who brings us "Mongols and Mausers" every year.  You didn't hear it from me, but word on the street was the Thai Rangers ended up with the drug cache.
Mark's "Battle of Slovchenko, Russo-Polish War 1920" game with TooFatLardies' Triumph of the Will rules, I heard this year the armoured train was captured!
These next two pictures must have been a late arrival to the schedule, unless I seriously misunderstood the Battle of Crysler's Farm in high school.
Charlie Company Vietnam game:
Frank from KEGS ran TooFatLardies' Dux Britanniarium games all weekend!  This Friday night one ended in a Saxon loss.
Brian's "Island in the Sun" Napoleonic naval game in a close-up view of the ships.
One of the set-ups at the Ontario Hobbit Adventures booth (they were selling terrain and bits too), a very, very, awesome Goblintown!
I also did almost all of my shopping that night, some PSC 1/72 Universal Carriers for Chain of Command, The Men Who Would Be Kings rules from Osprey, and some terrain bits and bobs.  After the gaming and shopping, many of us ended up in the bar for a few drinks and multiple wide-ranging discussions, and it was about 1 or 1:30 before I headed up to bed.

Saturday started with a run to get some fresh air and breakfast, then I was back to help Ron set up his operational-scale 6mm Kursk game, which he ran in the morning and afternoon Saturday (with an impromptu repeat Sunday morning) and get my stuff into the bring and buy.  I had some 15mm sci-fi, the bleeping 28mm not-Star Trek figures I've been unable to unload for about four years, some rulebooks, and one lone Osprey (that I'd accidentally bought two copies of) for sale.  All but the Osprey sold, so that was good and I basically ended up dead even for buys vs. sells over the course of the weekend.

While doing that, I also ran into Ontario Hobbit Adventures' other awesome set-up:
Before the morning's gaming started, I also did a bit of shopping at one booth (I'm guessing it was Empire and Eagle) and got some German and American WWII trucks, and Pz IIC's, all for Chain of Command.  And that was it for my shopping.  I've sort of run out of things to buy, there's a lot of 28mm pulp or VSF stuff from the vendors, but those projects are sort of on hold because I'm about 100 years behind on them; ditto for RAFM's 15mm sci-fi - and in that case I basically have everything.  So terrain, buildings, and 1/72 Chain of Command stuff made up almost all of my shopping list.  I did a couple of casual sweeps by the bring-n-buy table, but I wasn't committed enough to dive into the crowd.

Anyway, for Saturday morning I got into Brian's "Bloody Buron" battle with TooFatLardies' I Ain't Been Shot Mum rules, my first choice for the timeslot.  IABSM is my preferred set for whichever century I finally get my 6mm WWII stuff finished, and I love to play it.  In this scenario, three of us Germans defended a town in Normandy from a couple of Canadian companies.  It was a pretty bloody battle, like the name says, with a lot of artillery hits and burning Shermans, and was a marginal Canadian victory in the end, the Germans still held the town but were running out of resources to do so.

The table as the forces were setting themselves up:
My half-section of Pz IVH's, hiding.  I had a full platoon as reinforcements, but the game ended before they did more than race up the road.  These two guys did do a bit of damage, including later firing HE into those two buildings on the right.
This is probably about mid-game, before the German ATGs got revealed but after the Canadians dumped all sorts of smoke onto it.  The red-roofed buildings on the left are now occupied by Canadians, and you can see a couple of TDs following along.
Saturday afternoon I played in a six-player game of Frostgrave.  To avoid it turning into a deathmatch, the victory conditions encouraged us to do things other than kill each other's wizards, but that didn't last long and my magic-flamethrower-armed dwarves got into a drag-out battle with the wizard across from us (he started it, I swear!).  I think I killed more of his guys, but he killed the important guys in my warband.  Anyway, the terrain was spectacular and the GM did a good job of getting us all up to speed on the rules and magic; four of us hadn't played Frostgrave before.
This is just a plain awesome observatory.  I magically leaped one of my guys up there, and he did pick off some opposition but eventually got nailed himself.
My warband, pre-battle:
The later stages of the game, an icewall has been thrown up and I've got some opposition interfering with my attempt to read the ancient writing on the walls of the ruins at the centre of the table.
For Saturday night I had a crazy number of games I wanted to try and get into, in the end I had two that I agonized over, One was a big samurai battle using Chipco's Chrysanthemum Throne rules, which I have and have thought may be the best solution for middle-ground samurai rules and the other was an ECW big skirmish game using the new The Pikeman's Lament rules from Osprey.  I went with the latter and it was superb, a lot of fun and I ended up earning the most Honour by achieving my major and minor victory conditions (perhaps the only time in the history of the world that's happened to me).

The scenario had three Scottish forces and a Parliamentarian one (I think, it was at the other end of the table) vs. four Royalist forces.  The game was set up through so it was basically four two-player games, though with a bit of side to side action.  I think that was a good call, as it let the game flow and my opponent and I just had to worry about each other and we could work our way through the rules on our own.  Our main challenge was figuring out how hits turned into figure losses (it wasn't on the QRS) and after reading the rules again when I got home, I realized we'd been doing it wrong.  Luckily we kept turning to our host Mark to solve things for us and that didn't affect the game.

From left to right on the Scottish side, there was a battle over the body of a martyr who'd been tossed from the tower of a church, a battle over that same church, a village battle to find the guy who'd tossed the guy from the church tower, and then a fight over the high ground to see the town, church, and martyr.  I was the immortal Donald McHaggis, hero of the Covenant, fighting over the churchyard.  Here are my guys early into the battle, having not moved far because three of my first four activation rolls were 3s (and I needed 5s or higher on 2d6):
I had two shot units, a pike unit, a Scottish forlorn hope of crazies, and two Scottish trotter units, who were a bit handy with the pistol, but not up to fighting off a Royalist charge.  The photo below is mid-battle, the Royalists had seized the church and churchyard first because of my crappy rolls, but now I was fighting back.  I've driving off their pike in the centre (they're way behind the churchyard now) and my shot is working over the Royalist shot, with my forlorn hope ready to charge the church.  My cavalry on the left are protecting that flank (the Royalist horse never came after me in the end) and my pike block is doing the same on the right.  My other trotter unit has been drive back through a random event, they had been shooting at the Royalist shot unit in amongst the graveyard.  They did return though.  Shortly after this, the forlorn hope took the church, my shot took the churchyard, and though things got a bit crazy when some Royalist horse jumped over the wall and into the fray, ultimately things weren't sustainable for them.
I'm now super excited to get a TPL project underway.  Well, probably a few projects, you could do the ECW, TYW, WSS...

So that was my personal Saturday, here are some shots of the rest of the day:
Above and below are some more crowd shots, this must be from before the BnB opened.
A great Death Star set-up for X-Wing:
Beside the Frostgrave table was this Metaverse game that lived up to its name, Star Wars vs. Star Trek vs. Battlestar Galactica vs. Babylon 5!
That's alotta space ships!
An awesome village (Huron or Iroquois?) for Flint and Feather:
And of course Mongols and Mausers, as I said in a text with this photo I sent to my nephew: "Rule #1 is wear an awesome hat!"
The big "Fenian Raids 1866" game run by Pete and Keith:
Saturday ended with some chats with friends, another drink, and then a run to A&W to get a second dinner, things had been pretty hectic helping Ron take down his game, getting signed up for the evening game, so I just had another sandwich for dinner, which is about 1.5 sandwiches too many for me.  Not sure A&W counts as real food, but it hit the spot at 11pm.  After that I hit the sack as I had to get breakfast, check out, and set up my Songs of Drums and Shakos game all before 9 on Sunday morning.

So that wraps things up until my post of my own game hosting experiences, it was another great year of Hotlead, lots of familiar faces and friends and new ones as well.  Clearly the social event of the season!


  1. Great report on the weekend and glad you like the Pikeman's Lament game. It was a great weekend.

  2. Thanks Mark, and it was truly a great weekend, I'm missing it already (though I still need to catch up on my sleep)...

  3. Thank you - enjoyed the photographs.

  4. Great pics, thanks for sharing

  5. Thanks guys! Glad you enjoyed it, it's a great weekend.

  6. thanks for the kind comments on the 'awesome village', it was King Philip's War 1675 set in Massechusetts, rules are modified Muskets & Tomahawks. Great blog :-)