The 10th running of the HUZZAH! wargaming convention was held last month from May 17th-19th in Portland, Maine. It was ably run by the Maine Historical Wargamers Association. There were a lot of games, including some run by friends from both the Maryland -based H.A.W.K.’s (Harford Area Weekly Kriegspielers) and the Historical Gaming Club of Uxbridge (Massachusetts). Several members of the Mass Pikemen were also in attendance. I missed the sign up to run a game, but I was nevertheless happy to make the trek to Maine, attend and play.
As I am catching up on my blogging, and as I did not get a chance to take many pictures of games that I was not involved in, this post will focus on the five games that I did participate in at the convention. It will hopefully give a flavor of the games, and my experience – however slim compared with all the events that were run there.
Game 1 – “The Enchanted Valley; Rules – Blood & Swash/Thunder & Plunder
The first game was run by Eric Schlegel from the H.A.W.K.’s. The scenario was “The Enchanted Valley” – a fantasy game in which you had a small squad, and you had to battle GM-run bad guys for treasure and points. In my case, I had a squad of halflings (hobbits), and the figures were old Grenadier ones from the 1980’s. I spent the game battling giant armed frogs and goblins, while other players were similarly battling other creatures. The rules were Blood & Swash/Thunder & Plunder written by two friends of mine, Buck Surdu and Chris Palmer, and were the basis for their later set of rules – G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. You can read about these and other rules here (just scroll down).
I fared OK, but did not come out on top. I think that there were close to 8 or 9 players. I think that Eric and Vickie ran the game well and it was quite fun.
Game 2 – “Mortwald Under Siege: Zero Hour”; Rules – Warhammer 40K
Many of you who follow this blog are avid 40K players and GW miniature painters. The minis that you assemble, convert, and paint are truly a sight to see. Additionally, the terrain is very eye-catching. Of course, I missed that whole era/genre of wargaming when it launched and as it grew. I wanted to give this 40K game a shot, and I will likely give the game another shot at some time in the future. But before I go on, I want to say that the following is not an attack on anyone who loves 40K – it’s just my experience with it at the HUZZAH! convention.
It was the absolute worst gaming experience that I have ever had. Sorry, but it was.
The terrain was gorgeous, and the figures were well-painted. The game scenario, unfortunately, had no story or reason as to why anything was there in terms of terrain or figures. There were two tables next to each other, and mine had several newbies and some experienced players. A couple of the GM’s were subbing (and admirably trying I will say) for another GM who could not attend. But hurting their efforts was the fact that there were hardly any cheat sheets or charts available, and those that were were microscopic in font size. Much of the game was spent figuring out the stats of the different space marine factions by either looking at the rule books or some players using a GW app on their iPads or iPhones.
The players on my side with whom I played also had a similarly negative experience. What I remember about the game was that a large number of Plague Marines moved in, and over us (whoever we were – the figs were blue and some kind of space marine) with seemingly no way of effectively stopping them. I don’t remember many strategic of tactical gaming choices we made except to move and take up defensive positions and try to shoot. Was it balanced or play tested? Who knows. My memory of the game includes spending a lot of time looking at other people consulting rule books and devices, interspersed with being overrun by gloppy plague marines. Oh yeah, there was the conversations on my side with teammates asking WTF multiple times. I was told by someone I trust that this game was not typical – and that perhaps Kill Team is better. Again, I’ll keep an open mind, but for beginners this game was definitely was not! I also want the GM’s to know that we did not hold the experience against them at all – at least I did not. It’s not easy to be a GM.
One of the two tables – not the one I played on.
Just to be clear again, I follow several blogs whose authors do a great job on GW stuff. I mainly tried to play because I have been inspired by their projects. If you want to see some of their excellent painting and conversions of GW stuff, check out any of the following sites:
- Azazel’s Bits Box
- Alex at Leadballooney – It’s a Lead Thing
- Pete at SP’s Projects Blog
- IRO aka Imperial Rebel Ork – – I model – therefore I am
These guys give me hope to try 40K again…sometime. This game finished off Friday at HUZZAH! for me.
Game 3 – “Clash at Palmer’s Island, Chesapeake Bay 1637”; Rules – Feudal Patrol™ (as of yet unpublished)
Duncan Adams of the H.A.W.K.’s ran this scenario on Saturday morning. It featured Marylanders (my side) contesting the “illegal” occupation of Palmer’s Island by Virginians and some Indian allies. The rules used were Buck Surdu’s soon to be published Feudal Patrol™, a card-based system similar to Combat Patrol™, but for eras/genres with more swords and arrows and matchlocks than modern warfare. As a huge fan of Combat Patrol™, I was really looking forward to trying the system. Here, it was a skirmish action.
The game went very well, with the players grasping the game’s concepts very quickly. Also, I liked the changes on the cards for melee and missile weapons. Our team’s matchlocks (and troop maneuver) held the day with a major victory.
Game 4 – “Battle of Hannut” with 28 mm tanks; Rules – What a Tanker
I have been very much into playing What a Tanker© by Too Fat Lardies since I attended BARRAGE last year. I was very psyched to try this scenario, The Battle of Hannut, which happened in Belgium in 1940. Christopher Boynton ran the game and did an excellent job. There were 10 or 12 players. His tanks were 28mm (I prefer 15mm but 28mm are fine and fun). His tanks and terrain were very well painted. The terrain and set up were cool as well. I played on the French side and took a SOMUA.
Interestingly, Christopher had a few changes he made for the game. First, for activation, he used a card-based system. Second, he had everyone roll all of their Command Dice at the same time at the beginning of the turn. Lastly, he allowed you to turn in all your dice for one you wanted if your roll was bad. The card system was interesting, but really not too different than rolling dice, except that “banking” a six from the previous turn got you an additional card for activation that could be better than what you would have gotten. I’m not sure I like all players rolling all the Command Dice at the beginning – it allows you to see what your adversary can do before you take your turn. You also get to choose which Command Dice you lose if you take damage. The house rule on converting all your dice into one desired action was interesting, but I would not add that as it helps damaged tanks too much. It was different, but consistent for all players.
My SOMUA moved up quickly and was the target for no less than four German Panzers. My armor absorbed the hits, but eventually my tank was knocked out – with the crew surviving. I respawned as a new SOMUA, and rammed a Panzerjager 1. The game ended there. We achieved a minor victory for the French. Thanks to Christopher for running a superb and fun game.
Game 5 – “Test of Honour Returns to Hanghai”; Rules – Test of Honour
The last game for Saturday was “Test of Honor Returns to Hanghai” using Mike Paine’s wonderful and extensive Hanghai tabletop. Ted Salonich and Ryan MacRae split GM responsibilities as Chris Rett was unable to attend. They did a marvelous job running the Test of Honour rules by Grey for Now Games.
I also finally got to game with Mike Paine, a true legend in the New England gaming community. We were teams of three, and Mike faced off with us. We had a back and forth, but in the last couple of turns we were beaten back soundly.
Thanks again to Ted and Ryan for running a fun game.
Game 6 – “Returning to Hanghai”; Rules – Mike Paine’s home brew rules
On Sunday morning, I had the chance to finally try Mike Paine’s Hanghai game. It is a 1920’s pulp game, and it is a big hit at a convention with both young and old. It was pretty much the same table as what we played Saturday night, but there were ships and planes and many other cool things all scattered everywhere. The amount of work that went into the table is staggering. You have to see it to appreciate it.
I took a naval crew in a gunboat – and I had a submarine. My leader was Captain Nemo. The goal of the game was to grab treasures and key items. I was playing next to Eric Schlegel, and I decided to try to eliminate the competition, which led to counter-fire, with Eric getting the better of the exchange. I ended up with only a submarine and one sailor, so with a long drive back home, I surrendered my sub to Eric with Mike Paine’s blessing.
Truly an epic game to try! Thanks to Mike Paine!
This was my first HUZZAH! but hopefully not my last. By my count there were 117 games over the three day weekend, so this is a very small sample. Thanks to the folks of the Maine Historical Wargamers Association for running a classy convention!
If you have any thoughts or feedback, please let me know below. Thanks for looking!