Finding a gaming convention that is close by to my home has been somewhat frustrating for me over the last few years. Since I returned to the hobby, I have attended a few BARRAGE events in Maryland , but that’s it.
Imagine then that there was a con 15 miles from my home AND that they have been having it for 34 years (and I never knew!). The event was the three-day (Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday) HAVOC convention, run annually by Battlegroup Boston. This year was HAVOC XXXIV, and I learned of it through the New England Wargame Groups List page on FaceBook. It ran from April 6-8, and I am really glad that I could attend, but it was a last-minute decision. I was also hoping to let folks know about our group, The Mass Pikemen’s Gaming Club in Central Massachusetts.
Back in March, I went to the HAVOC web page, and I also saw that they were looking for game masters. I needed to wait to see if I could attend. Ultimately, I was able to not only attend the event, but to run two retro sci-fi games using the Combat Patrol™ system. The first game I ran was on Friday night. It was “Attack of the Warbots” using figures from the Archive Star Rovers line from the late 1970’s (Mark III Warbots, Star Ducks, Aphids, and Power-Armored Frinx) along with my Mark 1 Sphere tanks). There were also some Wargames Supply Dump Robo-Sentry guns acting as stationary defenses.
In this blog, first I’ll discuss the two games I ran, then share some photos and eye candy of some of the convention.
I managed to get 7 players for the game, which was great. I did not get as many pictures as I would have liked as I was running the game. The players really had a great time and there was a lot of action. No one had ever seen these figures before, and the mass of the Mark 1’s surprised them all! I used a number of Armorcast sci-fi structures as well on the board, and they worked great.
While all this was going on, the Warbots on the right closed with the Robo-Sentry guns and the Star Ducks defending the wall. In this game, I have the Warbots use the Japanese Combat Patrol™ deck, which has different morale results. A morale card result caused one Warbot team to make a Banzai charge at the last surviving Robo Sentry gun, which was jammed. This enabled the Star Ducks to hit the team with direct fire. When the Banzai charge was over, another morale check caused this same team to flee the game, stifling this assault. The Frinx just got their captured tank fixed as the game was out of time. Due to the casualties inflicted by the Warbots, I called the game a draw. The players all were highly excited by the game and loved the ease of use of the Combat Patrol™ decks for all aspects of the game.
Unbeknownst to me at the time, my game was nominated for the “Al Award”. From the HAVOC website, this is “presented for the game with the most stunning visual appeal. Our crack team of experts (expert team of cracks) will vote on the game that made us say “Wow!”.” I was honored to be nominated, but even more so to win! Thanks so much for this to Battlegroup Boston! A great con it was to be sure – and I felt very welcome here by all the club members.
The second game I ran was on Sunday, which was “GO FROGS RIBBIT – STOP THE BUGS”. It was a battle between the F.R.O.G. Commandos (with Star Duck reinforcements) and two Archive Star Rovers foes – the aforementioned Aphids and the Hurraku Space Phraints. So, basically, it was insectivores versus insects, albeit big bugs. The Frogs were defending a wooded area between two rivers and specifically their sacred pond. The insects’ objective was to seize the pond, and to dispatch as many amphibians as possible along the way with extreme prejudice.
I ended up with four players for this game – one for each attacking bug side on opposite sides of the board. Star Ducks would reinforce the Frogs as a special event card was pulled during the game. The Frogs would use the regular decks, while the bugs would use the Japanese decks. The Space Phraints also had a Sith. Here again, the players quickly adapted to the Combat Patrol™ deck. All were new to the game.
The Aphids got into the fray first with their Grav Cycles, while the Aphid infantry and the Space Phraints advanced.
The Aphids however did effectively draw the Frogs to their attack, weakening the side facing the Hurraku Space Phraints. This would have consequences.
At this point, the Hurraku gambled and turned the tide of battle. Linda (the Hurraku player) decided to take advantage of her Sith’s power of “Rage”. This ability causes a Banzai attack. This also removes all stun markers from her troops while they charge at the enemy and engage solely in hand-to-hand combat (or just melee as we are talking about bugs and Frogs). The Hurraku also all have the same activation number until the banzai charge ends, resulting in a true mass attack. Here (in melee) the Hurraku have an advantage as they are very tough fighters. They also move fast normally, and the “Rage” improves that movement by a factor of two.
At this point, a Star Duck squad jet packed in as reinforcements, but it was not enough. They jet-packed in to defend the pond.
The players here had a good time and were good sports. The tide swung from one side to the other. In the end, the “Rage” Banzai charge was decisive.
I will now share some photos of the two games I played on Saturday morning and afternoon (I did not play Saturday night). I played a Bolt Action scenario run by Friedrich Helisch. The scenario was a 1941 German attack on a Russian-held village. David Shuster was on the Russian side, while Friedrich and I played the Germans. This was my first try at Bolt Action.
This was a points-based game, and our taking of the second building allowed us to win by 1 point, so it was very close. As for the rules, I am on the fence, but more than willing to try them again at some point in the future.
The second game I played was a Gaslands scenario. I had heard this was an interesting game and thought I’d try it out. In this game you get so many points to choose and arm 2-3 vehicles (performance car, regular car, and pickup truck). The goal is to run over (3 points) or shoot (1 point) pedestrians (in homage to Death Race 2000) instead of the usual zombies on the game board. You can attack your opponents, but their destruction does not get you points (you do eliminate the competition). The movement is very much like X-Wing.
I played with two other players, who chose to max out two vehicles, while I did three lesser-armed vehicles. I chose to go after the competition and eventually had one of two vehicles to be the last on the tabletop. However, at this point the game masters deploy invulnerable Monster trucks to hunt you down and end the game. I just missed my last pedestrian which would have tied me for first. The game masters (Michael Eichner and Erich Eichner) did a nice job, and this was a fun game. The table looked great too.
I thought that I should share some photos of the rest of the con. I did not get to see as much as I would have liked, but there were a lot of very cool games. Kudos to all the folks at Battlegroup Boston, as well as the GM’s and players! Please share your thoughts in the comments section – thanks for reading this blog!