Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wargaming Scenario - Breakout 1915

For the upcoming Guns of August convention, I am going to be running two miniature wargames events.  The first one will be a 15mm battle representing a Russian infantry division attempting to breakout from a German encirclement.  In order to make it interesting, I am only using a portion of the circle. 

The Russian units (four infantry regiments) are in good shape (rare for Russian units in WW1), and are pretty strong compared to their German counterparts.  They are being reinforced, as the battle opens up, by two mounted Cossack battalions.  The Russian infantry regiments have some attached MGs, but no artillery.

The German regiments (four, again) are tired and have dampened morale.  What the Germans do have, is two field gun battalions mixed in with their infantry units, as well as MGs attached to the regiments.

The objectives of the Russian division are to secure safe passage out of the area surrounding the town, and escape the encirclement, preferably by the north or east road.

The German objectives are to either render the Russian division ineffective, or to contain it within the area.

The time of the year is February, and while there is (surprisingly) not a lot of snow on the ground, a warm week has rendered the farm fields to the east of the town (between the cross roads and the forest line) to be soft and extremely muddy.

I have written some home brew rules (modified from my Russian Civil War rules), that I call "End of Empires".  They are a basic "I go/you go" type rule system, rolling dice per stand to inflict casualties, and 2d6 vs a target number for morale.  The tactical decision in the game is when a unit takes casualties from fire, it can ignore a certain number per firefight, and choose to give up ground instead.  That is a costly decision for both sides, so I hope this is a good fight.  I have tried out the rules using blocks and dice at home, but you never know what Wargamers will try.  I will try to take lots of photos while refereeing, and post them here as a follow up article.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Recent Gaming News

I have been doing a lot of travel for work lately, so haven't been able to game too much.  Some things to report, however.

First, Gaming with Chuck headquarters (GwCHQ) is due to relocate just after the middle of the month of July.  We will be decamping from Mossflower, our current location, to larger quarters at Bag End.  Early scouting reports have come back with this photo of the lane climbing up to the new quarters . . .

Approximate map of Andrew Chapel Road, leading to Bag End

Second, there has been a pair of acquisitions in the area of Miniatures for miniature wargaming.  The first of these is a collection of French and Indian War figures, in 15mm, from the Carl Scisio estate sale.  Carl was a member of ODMS, and had recently passed away.  There is a memorial page for him at the Guns of August 2015 website, and there is planned to be a large estate sell off of his (not small) miniatures collection at both Historicon 2015 and GoA 2015.  Prior to that, club members were able to make some donations to the family estate, through purchase of some miniatures.  I selected French & Indian War, which include a number of formed British and French units, and plenty of irregulars.  I plan to run some convention games over the next year, featuring the attack of, or defense of, Fort Carlhouse, and the Springdale settlements, in the forests between the Seneca and Shawnee in Pennsylvania.

Fierce fighting at Fort Carlhouse

The second miniatures acquisition has been the acquisition of a large (over 1000 pieces) collection of Mexican War (1846-1848) miniatures, in 15mm.  Recent sorting and rules reviews have been taking place, but a decent sized Mexican-American War Table Top Exercise (TTX) - meaning a wargame with map based planning, campaign work, and finally tabletop battle execution - is planned for the first serious wargame to take place at the new Bag End location of GwCHQ. 

Mexican American War gaming should be pretty exciting!

Third, several recent Boardgame purchases and acquisitions have taken place, more on that later, but recent board game plays have included some light fare such as Trekking the National Parks, and Dungeon Roll.  Just this evening, however, a game of Vikings took place at GwC, amidst the general chaos of bugging out the HQ and packing up the household.  Vikings is a great Michael Kiesling design, and plays well with 3 or 4 players.  We had a 3 player game, and I had the fun of introducing it to Anita and Heidi - everyone had a great time, in spite of it being a first for them.  I think I owe them a game of something more familiar (Catan or Carcassonne).

Vikings! (bgg image)

Fourth, some upcoming Science Fiction Roleplaying is imminent.  I have been preparing a Star Wars RPG (the WEG D6 version, using the second edition rulebook) session for an upcoming convention session, and simultaneously John D has been preparing a White Star RPG game, for online play (google Hangouts, most likely).  My Star Wars game will feature a band of adventurers on the YT-1300 light freighter "Tumbling Asteroid".  It is set between the battle of Yavin and the battle of Hoth, but the players are not necessarily part of the Rebellion (yet).  John's game will be set in the Solar System (as opposed to interstellar), and the players will be part of ASTRA - an organization dedicated to fighting pirates and smugglers.  Both sound great (as GM of Star Wars, and as player of White Star).
Tumbling Mermaid is a YT-1300FP - combining passenger and freight options
Fifth, in the upcoming (#3) issue of Yaah! Magazine, I should have a couple of Star Wars articles (one for X-Wing, and one for Imperial Assault).  I recently got to play Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures, with Jack H's excellent Monday night group at World's Best Comics, in Newport News.  I had a truly excellent time!  The articles coming up in Yaah are (1) a mini campaign for the Rebels and Imperials to fight over control of a space station, fighting it out using X-Wing Miniatures.  The second article is a fight (inside) for control of the station, once one side or the other projects space control of the area around the space station.  That second battle (inside the station) is fought using Imperial Assault.  I'm pretty excited about the articles, and have started working on several others, and a boardgame design.  Who knows?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend Gaming

Played a few things this weekend, and read some nifty miniatures rules.

First, I have been playing around with Star Wars: Imperial Assault from FFG.  Great game, but it have been giving the Skirmish game some thought, and trying to justify making up scenarios using the old Star Wars collectible figure game maps to use...

Today we played two board games with some friends.

First, there was the 10th Anniversary version of Ticket to Ride.  What a lovely (and LARGE) re-do of a great game.  I only wish that the 10th Anniversary edition came with rules for all the Mega variants in the ticket deck.

Second, we played the Reiner Knizia camel fest, Through the Desert.  What a fun game.  Some problems because of pastel colored camels ("They look like Lucky Charms marshmallows!!").  But the game went rather well.
Some of the gamer activities I have been stewing in have been getting the new website for the Guns of August convention a living thing. 

I have also been reviewing the new Sailing Ship rules from Osprey.

Reports and reviews coming up.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Board Game session - after RPG session

We had a fun board game night at the Gaming with Chuck secret headquarters location.

Admittedly, this followed a role playing session, which featured the intrepid adventurers in our World of Greyhawk campaign finally escaping the perils of Cannibal Island.  Of course, the means of escape (teleportation from the bowels of an evil castle on the rim of a fiery volcano) led them to a snowy pass in the Lortmil Mountains.  During a blizzard. With dire wolves and yetis closing in.  Oh, and Baba Yaga made an appearance (the first of many, in this campaign).  But they escaped from Cannibal Island.

Back to the board games - half of the group retired after the RPG session, and dinner from a local pizza and subs shop, but the rest of us were in the mood for some light, fun board games.  Here is our play list:
King of Tokyo (I didn't win)
Boss Monster (I didn't win)
Fandooble (I didn't win)
Tsuro (I didn't win)
Fandooble, again (I didn't win)
Web of Power (I didn't win)

There was a theme to those games.  But, of course, winning isn't so very important, especially here at GwC.   And besides, I got to run an RPG that featured octopus-men, yetis, a statue of Kali, and Baba Yaga, all in the same episode.  I really think I won, after all.

As an aside, check out the web site run by the Esoteric order of Gamers, with a list of all the fantastic quick reference sheets they make. Extremely useful.  Boardgame Reference Sheets

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Naval Imagi-Nations Campaign

As the nations of Balkania left the Imperial Age, and entered into the age of massive industrialization, like their European counterparts, there was a mad rush to construct fleets of warships of ever increasing complexity and lethality, in an arms race that rivaled those of the early 20th century.

Tweedland Destroyer Flag

The Imperial Navy of Tweedland, modeled after a number of successful designs in the British Navy form the years between the wars, was involved a series of strategic operations in the Pampion Sea, against her ancient adversary, Royal Marina of Vulgaria.  The Vulgarians had jump-started their naval architecture program just a few decades earlier by kidnapping several prominent Italian designers and engineers, so their units bear a strong resemblance to the Regia Marina.

Vulgarian Royal Marina
Tweedland, in this region, is operating from their colonial ports at Utica and Cyrene, and operate a rather large air station at Pancritas.  They are actively involved in policing the Pampion Sea, as well as supporting their ground operations in Talantis - which means delivering supplies to Tarraco.

Vulgaria, on the other hand, has their southern mainland ports of Massilia and Salonae to support operations in the Pampion Sea.  The regional capitol at Cremona is home to not only Vulgarian 4th Air Force, but also is home to their notorious Motor Torpedo Boat squadrons.
Friesland Naval Ensign

The ground campaign in Talantis is between the Tweedland 8th Army, and the Frieslander Talantian Corps.  In order to limit the amount of support that the Tweedland navy can deliver, the Frieslander Supreme Commander has authorized the use of U-Boats in the Pampion Sea, against Tweedland shipping.  These elements will occasionally coordinate with the Vulgarian Royal Marina.

As a political gesture towards honoring the Pampion Triple Naval Alliance, the Free-Falconia Government has placed some of their remaining naval assets under command of the Tweedland colonial office at Utica.  These would normally be allocated to keeping the Talantian Approaches open, for supply convoys, but operational needs may have them committed, alongside Tweedland ships, throughout the Pampion theater of operations.
Free Franconia Military Forces

I have been working up a simple system whereby two sides of players (one commanding British and French ships, representing Tweedland and Free-Falconia; the other commanding Italian and German forces, representing Vulgaria and Friesland) will follow this order of play for each turn:

1. Allocate patrol forces - naval and air
2. Receive operational intelligence and orders
3. Commit reserve forces for support of operations, or divert patrol forces
4. Adjudicate map situation, and develop tabletop battle for that turn

I will be using General Quarters.  I plan to employ the original GQ1 and 2 rules - I have the newer GQ3 edition of the rules (published by the fine folks at ODGW), and they are great, but they would distract, as I am expecting players who are not necessarily naval gaming experts, and the older rules are much simpler).  Ship models will be Navwar 1:3000 vessels.

Operations Map
This was developed using AutoRealm, and I plan to use the same map for several different fictional naval campaigns.  I plan to go back and use the transition fleets I developed for Furstenberg and Rumpwhistle in an operation on this map, as well.

Monday, April 13, 2015

New Train Titles - pt 1

So, a few new games were acquired late last year.  Some of these were discussed in the posting about Thanksgiving gaming, and some were mentioned in the post about the Christmas break gaming.  But, a few of the titles were train related, and as train related gaming is something of a high interest theme here at Gaming with Chuck, it felt right to do a short blog post about it.

First, a word about Train games.  These are not all what purists would call Railroad games.  To some, that includes the 18xx series.  To others, that includes the Martin Wallace masterpieces, Steam, Age of Steam, and the various derivative titles (Railroad Tycoon and Railways of the World).  Still others include railroad themed route building games (which tend to be lighter, such as Ticket to Ride, or TransAmerica).  To some it is the family of crayon based games, such as Empire Builder (and Dampfross, and many others).  It might include railroad theme games such as Russian Railroads.  And strange combinations of these, like Chicago Express.  Finally, to some it even includes games that have mechanics that are typically Railroad game mechanics, but for non-railroad themes like Elfenland, or Poseidon.

To me, all of those are Train games.  It can be a train related mechanic (pick up and deliver, stock manipulation, network building, travel), or it can be theme (Russian Railroads, Express).

So, what were some of the train titles acquired last year here at GwC headquarters?
  • Boxcars
  • Isle of Trains
  • Continental Express
  • Paris Connection
  • Russian Railroads
  • Ticket to Ride 10 Year Anniversary Set
  • Trains: Rising Sun
  • Yardmaster
  • Yardmaster Express
A few words about these . . .

Boxcars, of course, is the Rio Grande Games re-issue of the Avalon Hill classic, Rail Baron.  But wait!  Rail Baron was a reissue of the game Boxcars.  So we are now back to the original.  Except, it has a new board (the UK) and some adjusted rules.  This is a game of pick up and delivery.  The routes are all developed.  What players can do, other than receiving a constant stream of pickup and delivery points, is to purchase railroads, which are cheaper for them to run on, but more expensive for the competition. The game is a simple race to develop a pile of money ($200K) and then return to home base (starting position).  Very fun, and now made even better because the one tedious part of the game was using the charts to roll up cities for delivery.  This can be done, now, with a very nice App for iPad and iPhone - available for free from iTunes.  What a great thing!

Isle of Trains is a great little card game, from the Dice Hate Me games series of 54 card games called the Rabbits.  This was the result of a kickstarter, the ended up with six published titles.  The series includes:
Yep - Seth Jaffee of Eminent Domain fame is the (co) designer of this great little card game.  The game is one of building your train (using mechanisms familiar to deck builder game players - cars have costs, and you pay that cost with other cards from your hand), and then loading cargo on your own, and others', trains.  Why load on another player's train?  Well, because you are rewarded with special actions - and they make all the difference.  Once you have a train, and some cargo, you can complete contracts - of which there are six, each corresponding to one of the main cities on the Island of Sodor Isle that is the namesake of the game.  We have played this a few times, and the decision making and action planning is great - especially for a small format game.  It takes about an hour to play, and it is an hour well spent.  One of the best things about the game, is that the great card art (by Daniel Guidera and Christopher Kirkman) is fantastic, and very reminiscent of a Little Golden Book (especially The Train to Timbuctoo and The Little Red Caboose).

Continental Express is also a small format card game. This one is from Asmodee, and is packed in a really nice tin box, similar to another of their titles, The Builders: Middle Ages.  They have several other titles in this same format of small tin box (Noah, Souk, Cardline: Animals, Cardline Dinosaurs, and Cardline: Globetrotter), however The Builders and Continental Express seem to be the most mature of these.  In this game, as in Isle of Trains, you are constructing a train.  However, that is the goal of this one - building the train.  You collect sets of cards, drawn from a pool of available cards each turn, and then turn them in for new cars on your train.  Each new car card has a train line symbol, and there are bonus point categories for those symbols.  Not a bad little game, and set collection is always a good mechanism.  The artwork is gorgeous, although closer to the Ticket to Ride artwork, than it is to other styles.

More coming on other titles, but this is enough for now. . . .

Assorted gaming projects and activities - an update

Several things have been going on lately, in the Gaming sphere of life at GwC headquarters.  Here is a rundown...

Cold Wars - I attended Cold Wars last month - it was a touch and go decision up until the last minute, and it wasn't helped by the fact that there was a dreadful blizzard on the day I was supposed to leave.  I left the next day, and still had a great time.
I met up with Chris and a bunch of the folks from Maryland, and further north, who game together at the HMGS shows - I have played with them a bunch in the past, but mostly it was Warhammer Ancients.  Patrick, of course, was there - as were Mike and Gil and some others.
I got to participate, as a viewer/heckler and Referee's assistant (glorified title for flipping a few initiative cards) in some really compelling games of Muskets and Tomahawks from Studio Tomahawk (the fine folks who publish SAGA).  I bought a copy of the rules, and the cards, etc, from Steve at Age of Glory- a great fellow to deal with.

Painting - I have begun collecting some new paints.  I have wanted, for some time, to experiment with using artist acrylics, entirely, for a project - and then assessing what the finished look is like, compared to using gamer paints (like Vallejo or Reaper), or craft paints (like Folk Art or Apple Barrel).  The brand I have selected is Liquitex.  I went with the Basics line, rather than the Heavy Pigment line.  I have used some of the colors from their Heavy Pigment artist line before - notably Titanium White and Cadmium Red (for 19th century Egyptians and British Red Coats, respectively, because I wanted bold bright colors, and I wasn't getting that from the craft paints I was using at the time).  The results for me were excellent, and so I wanted to follow up by purchasing a full palette of colors to use for an upcoming project.  I went ahead and got the 24 color starter set - the additional colors in the 36 color and 48 color sets did not really inspire me too much as being necessary for an experiment in a new medium.  I did wander outside of the Liquitex range for some other colors I will need - notably, I picked a light terracotta color from the Winsor & Newton line, to use as a basis for flesh.  I plan to try this out on a unit or two of Vikings, either for SAGA, or Lionheart, or both.

Boardgames - Many new card games and board games over the past few months, since Christmas, mostly from Kickstarter rewards and a few trades and purchases.  I have begun writing an article about new Train titles at GwC headquarters, and will publish that shortly.  Played a few titles on the week leading up to Tabletop Day, but did not participate in any activities this year (we were on a spring break trip, and returned too late to host a game day, or attend the activities at the local game shop).  Some of the titles played recently included Salmon Run, On the Underground, and Valley of the Kings.  Loads of boardgames on the iPad, but hey - that don't count.

Wargaming - There has been, of late, a resurgence in interest in Wargaming in the Department of Defense, and a number of professional developments for me are underway, where I am participating in wargaming design, the re-purposing of models and simulators for wargaming, and also teaching my Combat Modeling class.  Not really hobby oriented, but hey - steel sharpens steel.

Roleplaying - I have taken up the flung gauntlet from John, in following on his Village of Hommlet game, in the World of Greyhawk.  I have the players investigating the circumstances (which, of course, includes a DUNGEON) around the mysterious deaths of three brothers, who were Knights from Veluna, who came with Prince Thrommel to fight the army of evil at the battle of Emridy Meadows.  The Knights, distracted by the youngest one who fell in love with a Village girl near Nulb, disappeared before the battle of Emridy Meadows took place.  Now, ten years later, the players were traveling through the region, on their way north from Hommlet, and they came across tales and rumors.  The game so far has focused on the upper level of the Dungeon they uncovered in the forest glade where the Brothers were laid to rest - but who killed them?  What happened to the girl?  How come two of the three graves are empty?  The game is going well, although we only play about 1-2 times a month. 

Conventions - I have been helping, and will continue to help with the ODMS conventions in Williamsburg.  Some of the Staff have had medical problems and the remaining crew needs the help.  Also, I plan to attend Fall In next November (I can't wait).  I don't know about Historicon (family travel the week before, and the week after, will leave that weekend pretty tied up), but have been thinking about "The Weekend".  Does that event's name sound like an M Night Shyamalan movie to anyone but me?  Also, planning on attending Congregate in Greensboro NC this summer, working staff for the Con Suite.  Plan to do some heavy gaming while there, as well.

That is all, for now, will report back soon, and hopefully the Train Game article will come around quickly.