If my bladder, stomach, and obsessive need to read work e-mails can be kept in check, it's a five hour trip to Chatham for me, but in practice it's about six hours, so I took Friday off to get down there to check into my hotel and be ready for Friday's 7pm start.
Friday was in the backroom of the host hotel's pub, and was set to be a board and mat game night, so I'd volunteered to run a game of Ganesha Games' Galleys and Galleons (that's a lot of Gs) under the latter category - a flat mat game with miniatures. Other games run that night were Last Night on Earth, Imperial Assault, and Firefly.
My G&G scenario was called "King of the Pyrate Atoll", in which four small squadrons from different nations/factions swarm to the Pyrate Atoll after Typhoon Mary destroys the Pyrate King's fleet and scatters his treasures over the bottom of the shallow atoll. Each player had a choice of nation/faction (British, Spanish, American, French, Pirate, Crimson Skull Pirate, Voodoo) and then a choice of squadron composition (three options, except for the Voodoo Nation which only had one). Once within the atoll they could choose to fight and earn VP by sinking/capturing ships or capturing the treasure others hauled up, or hauling it up themselves. Players rolled for each action spent trying to dredge up treasure to see what they got, which could range from the Peacock Throne (which was found!) or waking up the Kraken (which also happened!).
Unfortunately the scenario didn't quite work as planned or as I'd playtested. I had designed it for four players and got three, and that through things off balance, and all of them went treasure hunting with both ships, except Brian who went half and half and his one ship ended up in a bit of a cross-fire by Barry. His treasure-hunting ship was the one who awoke the kraken, and it ended up sinking him and then chasing down his badly damaged second ship.
Barry found the most treasure, and had a pretty large lead and the wind shifted in his favour, giving him an easy way off the board by the end. Tom was left alone because of the off-balance number, and while one his ships had trouble with the shallows and damaged its keel, his main trouble was lousy treasure rolls.
I probably should have just adjusted things on the fly and let the guys fight it out on an open board with a few islands, but I though the scenario would work out still. Waking the kraken early also didn't help. I'd playtested the scenario with multiple strategies, but always with four squadrons and always with a mix of strategies, rather than all using generally similar strategies. So lesson learned, that scenario needs work and four players (or two).
Saturday morning I was on call for another game, running a four-player Song of Drums and Shakos game set around Leipzig in October 1813. It was the first appearance of some more Russian card models, a "Prussian" church and a chateau, and a Miniature Building Authority town hall.
The scenario was the Polish had left behind some valuable plans and maps when they retreated from a village north of Leipzig (around Mockern), so a French force is sent back to find them while the Russians have just come across the remains of the Polish HQ while looking for valuables and other loot.
I had five potential sites in my mind where the lost maps could be, and when anyone got within 1 Long measurement of the site, a marker was put on it as a potential location and would stay that way until someone got adjacent to it to check it out. That player would then draw a card (seven cards for five sites) to see what he'd found. Four were nothing, letters to mistresses or food wrappers, and three had some value, from 1 to 5 VP. Five VP was the big enchillada, the maps and orders of battle straight from Napoleon's headquarters. If after four sites were investigated the 5 VP maps weren't found, they'd automatically be at the fifth site, irrespective of the card draw.
As it turned out, I had two players, Cain and Andy, from KEGS, and both were willing to play two forces, so Andy took the French and Cain the Russians. Andy had voltigeurs and carabiniers, Cain had musketeers (with drummer and standard) and jaegers.
Andy had his carabiniers on his left and the voltigeurs on his right, with the church in front of them. Cain sent his jaegers down the road in the middle, and the musketeers on his right, around the town hall. Both sides raced forward in groups, Andy send a group of voltigeurs to the right of the church, and learned he had potential locations for the lost maps both ahead of him, at the base of a tree, and on the far side of the church, on a bench.
Cain got tricky and ran his jaegers through a gap in the hedges into the back yard of the town hall, loading up that side of the table for him. His musketeers had some activation issues and were a bit slow getting into the game.
The Russian jaegers got into a firefight with both some voltigeurs in the graveyard and the carabiniers behind the fence line (above), and lost a few early to Andy. When his musketeers finally got into the fray, they found amidst the abandoned Polish tents and gear, the maps! Cain assigned one guy to run them back to HQ while his musketeers hunkered down behind some soft cover (haystacks and tents) as the carabiniers tried to pick them off.
Then, however, despite my warnings, Andy moved his commanding carabinier sergeant into the firing line and got promptly picked off by a volley of rifle fire from the jaegers. This sent his force backwards, and eventually off the table, as he thought he'd had enough VP, between the dead Russians and the mid-level VP prize he'd found (3 VP).
Unfortunately this allowed the Russian musketeers to move up and start dropping more French figures from both forces, which eventually widened Cain's lead. And that's about where it ended, with the French leaving the table and the Russians holding the field and knowing Napoleon's plans for the day. I'm sure it changed the entire battle of Leipzig!
The game went well, both players got into the Ganesha Games activation cycle easily enough, and it was pretty tense until Andy brought that sergeant up. Oddly, two of the five potential locations never even got spotted, one because Cain never went to his left, and the other because the chateau and town hall were never searched (Andy did search the church). It was nice getting my Russians out for a non-winter scenario, I do need to get some more French late-period voltigeurs painted so I don't need to mix in Spanish-era guys for these four player scenarios.
Saturday afternoon I played in the Battle of Salem Church in 15mm with Carnage and Glory II rules. They're a computerized set of rules, where all the factors and unit names get inputed and then only a general sense of the outcome comes out to you as the brigade or divisional leader. It creates a unique fog of war; some people don't like not rolling dice but I didn't mind that. My biggest challenge was just making sp,e decisions without really knowing whether they were a good idea under these rules or not (e.g. attaching a leader).
Well, to be honest, my bigger challenge was not expecting the Rebels to come off the hill and meet us Union types in the valley. They caught us a big off-footed, and my smaller, skirmish-y regiments were out in front and my heavyweights were further back and never got to be the hammer they were supposed to be. Meanwhile, our centre faced the weight of the Confederate push, and our reinforcements never got into the battle before the Union called a halt to the day and fell back, other than their battery got some shots off. The Rebel reinforcements didn't get into the fight much either, other than as targets for our guns. I suffered the shame of losing the battle standard of the 5th Maine...
In the evening was the traditional free-for-all western gunfight with everybody left at the convention (about 16 or so this year). I did better this year, lasting until about the middle of the game, waxing a couple of scoundrels before Brian (the guy who got sunk by the kraken Friday night!) came after me, and after we both did little damage to each other at close range, he ran up to me and from point blank range, also did little damage, but it was enough to finish me off. I do hold grudges :-)
Enough of us were willing to stick around for another game that we were able to have a five-on-five gang battle for the western town, fighting over the train. I was the last guy standing from our gang, unfortunately I was up against four survivors from the opposing gang. Well, I briefly faced four opponents, as one had broken his leg falling off the flatbed train car, and his "buddy" finished him off to save splinting the loot. The same player had just shot his father in the head to eliminate my last teammate! It's a hard life in the old west! In the end it was Andy shooting me in the stomach to finish me off and make me dramatically fall off the train engine I was on, Jackie Chan-style.
So those were my games, either hosting or playing. Elsewhere at the con there was a lot of Hobbit Strategy Battle Game action, some Friday night in a separate room, and then a day-long tournament in the main room, with eight (by my count) tables, plus a regular Middle Earth convention battle. Both the morning and afternoon sessions had a lot of high quality games, when I had to choose for Saturday afternoon, it was tough between Carnage and Glory, Big Chain of Command, Sharp Practice 2 (though I think it was full by the time I made it to the sign-up table), and a homebrew modern Afghanistan game with Canadian forces vs. Taliban (presumably). There was also an all-day X-Wing tournament going on, and open board gaming tables. There's probably more I missed too, and several good looking games in the morning.
The Ontario Hobbit Adventure/SBG tables were specactual, this series of photos captures the eight tournament tables, unfortunately I didn't get a shot of the bigger battle one.
KEGSCon wraps up my convention attendance for the year, there's one left this fall but I have a football conflict. I'm also going to miss Hotlead next March, so Broadsword V in May is probably my next one. I'll really miss Hotlead, but I am looking forward to a bit of a break from needing to get stuff done for a convention and I can meander between projects and work (again/still) on 6mm WWII and Kaiju City terrain - which are supposed to be my main projects at the moment!