Friday, July 7, 2017

The True Story of the Bowling Green Massacre

With a title like that, I'm guaranteed to get tons (and even tonnes) of Google hits... :-)

Anyway, this past long weekend at a family gathering I played another game of Mighty Monsters with my nephew, getting some of the buildings I've used in other games onto the table again, but this time finally glued to their sidewalk bases.  Out for the first time was a new building (the "Time Warp Movie Theatre"), my nuclear reactor cooling towers (eventually to be based), some small-scale felt roads and rivers I've had from Gamecraft for a while, my scratchbuilt forests, and a bunch of scenics and vehicles/figures from my 3mm Vietnam project.

I've also put some more thought into running MM at a convention, so I bought some cheap plastic shot glasses from a dollar store and labelled them for each monster (over 70 glasses!).  If I was smart, I would have bought clear plastic glasses so everyone could see what colours of dice each monster has, but I didn't (and I'm not relabeling 70+ glasses!).  To offset that, but also because I can see a use for them, I'm looking at Litko now about markers and tokens to get for the game.  I also have now printed and laminated my monster sheets, though I may have a few tweaks to make for some of them.

The premise for the game is that the evil and/or alien kaiju have decided to prepare Earth for invasion from space by polluting the environment, including releasing radiation.  So they've come to a certain American city to do so, while heroic monsters and the army have come out to defend the planet.  The scenario takes its basis from the Stomp City Blues scenario in the rulebook, with each building (or block) being worth just half a VP to the bad guys (I had to ban my nephew from blowing up farmhouses - the schoolhouse was the minimum!), the reactors worth one apiece, and if a third went up then the whole plant melted down and a huge swath of land become alien-friendly - an automatic major victory.  For the good guys, only a body count of bad guys could get them VPs.

A long tweet (or game convention blurb) about the subject might just look like this:  Main-stream media won't report it, but through careful digging up of alternative facts, we present you with the mostly true made-up story of the Bowling Green Massacre!  Bad monster hombres, probably coming up through Mexico or blue states have attacked Bowling Green's coal, or maybe nuclear, or one of those powers, plants, bigly!  Only Godzilla can fix things!

My nephew had Destroyah and a Ultraman monster that I call and statted up as the Avatar of the Volcano God, I had an equivalent number of points in Godzilla, Mothra (1960s version), and four tanks and an infantry platoon.

The basic table layout, the nuclear plant and its four cooling towers are in the upper left, surrounded by a 15mm wall (proper chainlink fence still coming). 

Sideview of the table, and my nephew going through the monster cards to pick who he wanted. 

Close up of Bowling Green itself, with my buildings on their new bases, and the round building to the mid-left is the the Time Warp Movie Theatre (it has classic action movie posters up on its walls).

Destroyah flew onto the board, the slower moving (Avatar of the...) Volcano God behind. Destroyah has already done a number on the only working bridge across the river with his Oxygen-Destroyah (area effect) breath.  The schoolhouse is next.

Destroyah keeps flying, for some reason still far away from the nuke plant.  Godzilla and Mothra go out to meet the monsters, the army meanwhile tries to find a good blocking point.  At the bottom you can see my monster dice cups! 

It wasn't intentional, but I really like this and the next shots of Destroyah as a silhouette in the background.  May try to sepia tone this. 

Turns out Destroyah was really on an end-run through the city, destroying buildings with his breath weapon or his fists! 

My nephew knew the Time Warp Movie Theatre was special too me, so he made sure to blow it up! (I still need to make ruined versions of the building bases, so smoke would had to do).  But Mothra has swept in behind Destroyah now!  The Volcano God is still plodding along, he's paused at the river now.

Godzilla had to do a bit of a two-step peek-a-boo game with Destroyah, but now we had him trapped!  Unfortunately on Godzilla's first radioactive breath attack  I rolled a 1, so no more juice until a reactor went up!

I was playing some kaiju music I bought off WarGame Vault or RPGNow (Bailey Records), but here I wish I had the Flight of Valkyries going! 

A close up of Destroyah at NOE height. 

Things are going to hell in a handbasket now in Bowling Green.  Godzilla and Mothra are beating on Destroyah, but the Volcano God's gotten into the city and has the nuclear plant in his (fortunately short-ranged) sights.  The army forces are trying to shoot him, but he is pretty well armoured, and one of the tanks also forgot to bring its ammunition... However, Bowling Green was saved from radioactive disaster when the Volcano God's first (and only) shot at the cooling tower missed.  And then...

Big G showed up to fight him.  Meanwhile Mothra had released a poison gas cloud that was putting some hurt on Destroyah.  For some reason in his next turn my nephew decided to try to activate the Volcano God first AND chose to roll three dice, getting three failures, so Destroyah was stuck in the poisonous cloud of moth wing dust for another turn.

At that point though real life intervened - we'd played this over two mornings, avoiding my younger (2yo) nephews and their real life monster rampages, and it was a nice weekend so we packed up and spent the rest of it outside, doing proper summery things.

All told, I hadn't killed any monsters, so no VP for me; Destroyah was Stunned, almost Wounded, but nowhere near deaded.  I'd only taken one Wound for Mothra's use of the poisonous cloud.  Theo, however, had 3 VP for all of his rampaging destruction, so a Minor Victory to him. Again!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

CanGames Visit

On the Canadian Victoria Day long weekend in May (yes, I know, another late report!) I made the trek to Ottawa for my first visit to CanGames, the major local games convention.  The games started Friday afternoon/evening, but there was no way to get out of my work schedule in order to make it for those sessions, so I drove up to Ottawa on the Friday, planning to get an early start Saturday.

I had pre-registered for four specific games, Saturday and Sunday mornings and afternoons.  I had plans for dinner with my brothers and family Saturday night, and planned on driving home Sunday evening so I could get at least one full day of "rest" at home on Monday.

Having a couple of nephews in Ottawa, I was able to take the older one (my opponent in a few game reports here) to the con Saturday to browse the vendors and see the early morning action before my mid-morning session started.  He was technically too young to register and play this year, though next year he should be good to go, given he's already a veteran of a couple of Ganesha Games rulesets and Silent Death, and a few GMs as we were browsing the games offered to let him in.  He was pretty impressed with all that was going on (despite not getting indulged in everything he wanted to buy!) and has an idea of what games he wants to get into next year.

A shot from the back of the hall (a local curling rink), with some open tables in the front of the shot, miniatures back towards the windows, and the RPGers and board gamers behind the glass, in the lobby area and upper eating area.  CanGames hosts all three types of games - RPGs, boardgames, and miniatures.  Word on the street is it's more of the former than the latter, but there seemed to be at least a half dozen miniatures games going on in every slot.

 Theo with his free comic book from registration, he also picked up some Pokemon packs and a bead do-hickey from a craft vendor.

One of several books Theo wanted me to buy, without knowing what it was for or what type of game it represented.  I held him off, though I sort of regret not indulging him in the old Citadel how-to paint guide for miniatures - so I'll have to point him to Youtube.

Now onto my game sessions:

Ogre - the Modern Version
Only one (in-focus) photo from this game, but this was just a quick basic battle with the new Kickstarter powered big box version of the game, a fair sight different than my 1983 pocket game from Steve Jackson Games.  Garth had a few games running, and my opponent, Bryan, and I played the traditional intro scenario of an Ogre coming out of the seas to attack a headquarters.  It'd been a long time since I played Ogre, but I picked it up pretty quickly, it was interesting how the rules came flooding out of my memory once I saw the data sheet for my Ogre.

Funny thing was I just started the Ogre from where Gareth had placed it on the board, to the left in the picture above.  My opponent had set up his defending forces as speed bumps in front of the command post, in the top right above.  When I started rolling up straight ahead, sticking to the left, his forces risked being outflanked and he had to move them over, which messed up his plans and he was never really able to gang up on me with everything he had.  I eventually broke through before losing my treads, and hammered the CP with my last missile.  Yay me!

When I was asked about my unusual starting set-up, I thought about claiming it was strategic and tactical genius, but I owned up that I was just too lazy to move the Ogre.

This is one of the games Theo wants to try next year.

Fort William Henry
Saturday afternoon I got into a six player 28mm game assaulting Fort William Henry, brought up from Kingston I believe by Ed.  This is the awesome fort itself, in a slightly out of focus photo:
I was one of four French players vs. two British players.  We had two forces of top-notch regular troops, one force of suspect regulars and naval marines (my guys), and a force of natives.  The British had a bunch of forces inside the fort, and as it turned out, some within hailing distance.

A view from the French lines and our central gun battery, with the fort in the distance.  Ed's homebrew rules play the game at three levels, very high level strategic turns (so trenches can be dug, reinforcements sent for, etc.), more operation turns, and then tactical turns once the fighting gets into people's faces.  There were a lot of events in the game as well - small pox broke out in the fort, British reinforcements showed up before we could seal off the fort from all sides, etc.

I did that!  I controlled one French gun battery, and some good rolls blew up part of the British gun line in the fort.

My troops eventually setting up in the French trench supporting the guns.  A long way from the fort.

Me, in a totally accurate portrayal.

We've dug our trenches in front of the fort and blown a breach (at last!) in it; unfortunately our heavy mortars got blown up pretty much right away, so there wasn't much left to do but finally charge in.

The first force got into the fort, but wasn't able to hold anything and got shot up pretty badly.

My guys in the trench on the left, waiting there turn for death or glory (never both).

Some of our native help - they were off to the side of the fort, trying to climb over one wall and assault a rear gate, more to distract the British than really with the hope of taking the fort that way.

My guys coming out of the trench and (once more) into the breach.  They fought well and some were still there at the end, but our attack had petered out and the British weren't going anywhere with their reinforcements in place.

Samurai Battle - Battle of Azukizaka
From the convention schedule: "The Battle of Azukizaka took place in 1564, Tokugawa Ieyasu sought to destroy the growing threat of the IkkĊ-ikki, a league of monks, samurai and peasants who were strongly against samurai rule."  This was a six player (a seventh player got squeezed in on the samurai side) game using Pike and Shotte rules modified for the samurai period and 15mm figures.

I'll start with some nice shots of the figures, buildings, and great terrain mat Mike had:

My guys - I had the left flank on the side of the monks.  However my commander and forces were all samurai, who had recently left the Tokugawa side over a dispute on how the samurai were treating the monks.  However, my loyalty to the monks wasn't that solid, and I had a secret objective (all players had one) to be on the winning side and respect bravery, and if I saw our commander killed in personal combat with Tokugawa, then I'd switch back to the samurai.

And even though I tried to attack the samurai opposing me, between the three of us (two samurai players and me), we couldn't get anything going thanks to crappy activation rolls.  On the far right, it seemed back and forth, but ultimately I believe the monks had routed the samurai cavalry, but not permanently routed them, and now they were coming back with a vengeance.  The centre of the table was a bloodbath, but ultimately the monks appeared to be prevailing.  However, that turned out to be a trap, as the photo above sort of shows.  Tokugawa had indeed challenged and killed the monk leader, and I promptly betrayed my allies and turned my force to come at the monks' in the centre from behind.  The samurai I'd been facing were now free to turn and take the monks in the flank, and meanwhile the monks in the centre were busily running forwards to chase down the fleeing samurai, leaving themselves open to our attacks in the flank and rear.  At that point we called the game as being ultimately a samurai victory - giving me my objective!

Battle of Hohenfriedberg
Again from the CanGames schedule:  "Frederick the Great's defence of his conquest of Silesia against the Austrians and Saxons during the War of Austrian Succession, 4 June 1745" in 15mm using a homebrew variant of the Warmaster rules.

Although up to twelve spots were available we ended up with seven players and that still worked out well.  There were four on the Austrian/Saxon side, and three of us gentlemanly Prussian types.  The actual battle (as explained to us) was adjusted a bit for this scenario, combing what was in reality two separate battles on one day into one rolling battle.

As you can see, the table was huge and filled with figures!

These are my guys on the Prussian left - two and half cavalry brigades and four infantry brigades.  Our plan was to follow the rough outline of the actual battle - hammer the Austrians on our right and centre, with more emphasis on the right (the centre had to keep the Austrian left from being reinforced).  Then we could roll up the evil Austrians and Saxons from one flank to the other.  My job on our left was to not lose the battle before that happened, despite being outnumbered about 3:2.5 in cavalry (not much of a difference) and at least 14:4 in infantry (I think it was really into the 20s:4).

Some of the action on the Prussian right - the Austrians were on the ball and blunted the first attacks, both on the right (their left) and the centre. Eventually though they fell to the continuous attacks we were inflicting upon them.  The turmoil on that side of the table did help as it pulled some of the infantry on my side of the table over there (hence why I think it was about 14:4 on my side by the end).

My side near the end game, well into the battle.  My infantry is formed in a bend, with the cavalry on my left still and our centre forces joined up with mine.  My role in this battle, fighting a delaying action, actually played to my strength as a gamer, as I like to think I'm pretty good as a spoiler, keeping an attacker from getting a good grip with me.

So in this battle I sent my cavalry strongly and quickly off to my left to face off the Saxons, but then halted, leaving the Saxons with the choice of chugging through a stream to get to me or waiting for their infantry to threaten my cavalry's right flank, and they choose to sit and wait, which played into my game.

My infantry also moved up quickly, looking to grab some swampy terrain to anchor a flank on and occupy table space so I'd have lots of space to retreat back through if I needed to, keeping the Saxons from getting me into a decisive fight.  That mostly worked for my infantry, I made a mistake and didn't get to anchor my right flank like I'd wished, mainly because I was thinking with a Napoleonic mindset and not an 18th century one, and I blinked thinking I was going to get hammered in a close assault.  Otherwise though, my quick move and deployment into wide lines had the Saxons do the same on their side, which took time they didn't have.

The end of the game, declared a narrow Prussian victory as the Austrian centre and left had collapsed and they didn't break through on their right (our left - my side!).  My cavalry had taken a beating once the Saxons started coming at me, but I gave back better.  My lines of infantry held and were in no risk, again giving as good as they got, and our centre was now able to start moving infantry over to help if I'd needed it.

It was a really fun, tense game, given my objectives and the razor's edge the game ended on.  I think it was one of my better games ever as a player, really satisfying and rewarding.  My colleagues on the centre and right played really well and also seemed to enjoy the game, hopefully the Austrians and Saxons did too!

Odds and Ends
A few random photos and final thoughts:
This was a game of Modern Naval Battles with miniatures called "Trump's Folly" - China vs. the USA.

A cool game of Lego mecha, using Mobile Frame Zero: Rapid Attack - Theo and I plan to play in this next year!

I also had a pretty good haul at the vendors and the CanGames equivalent of the Bring-and-Buy (I only did the Buy part).  Between the BnB and the Crossed Swords booth I got about 12 1/72 WWII vehicle kits (probably about 15 vehicles total) for about $60 Cdn.  A few were for the hell of it, others filled in some needs for my Chain of Command project(s), ever useful T-34s, Soviet trucks, different Shermans, etc.  I also got three old GW Warhammer faction books (codexes I guess) to use as painting guides for my 6mm Warhammer world project, I think two were $2, one was all of $3!

I scored some Ospreys as well, and again from Crossed Swords, TWO (yes two) of Essex's 15mm carriages for use in my Song of Drums and Shakos skirmish gaming (and SDS in non-Napoleonic periods, like the ECW).

My main brag though was finding a copy of SPI's Musket and Pike boardgame for $12.  Yes, $12.  Canadian.  I've seen it on ebay and online used game stores for $85 to $115, and I got this copy in decent shape (minus one counter that isn't mission critical) for $12.  Did I mention that?  M&P isn't a perfect game, but for the moment it's the closest we have to a pike and shot version of Commands and Colors, letting you play out historical battles, or imagi-nation ones, as you will.  The Consimworld forum also has a bunch more fan-made scenarios, should I ever run out of the ones in the box.  With a little effort one could even upscale the counters and play it out on C&C boards.

So all in all I had a good time, met some really nice people and played in some fun games.  As long as work allows it, I look forward to being back next year, particularly since I don't think I'll be able to make Hotlead in March.  I may run a game, and certainly plan on playing in a few with my nephew, and maybe setting him loose on the kids games too.

It was my first experience with a system for pre-registering for games, and although I didn't do so until about two weeks before the con (missing the early bird discount - I ain't always so smart), I got into all of my games.  At the con, I sort of found out why - for many games I was the only, or maybe only one of two, person to pre-register.  Everyone else were sign-ups once the sheets go down half an hour before the time slot.  I'm not sure why more people don't pre-register; I was kind of paranoid that I wouldn't get any slots I wanted so I did it, and I still think I will so I can have some control over what I (and Theo) play in.  I also don't like jostling to fight over a sheet.  So my tip to give you the edge would be to do so too.

That's all on CanGames 2017 from me, next up is "The True Story of the Bowling Green Massacre" (hint - it involves Godzilla!).