Historicon 2021, Christoricon, and Axis & Allies

This post will cover my wargaming over the extended Veteran’s Day weekend – hopefully you will enjoy the discussion and the photos of the games here. Hell, grab a beer or a wine or whatever! Some cool pics and links to be sure.

I had been planning to attend the last Historicon – but it got moved (I think there was a pandemic or something, I (try) to forget). The event was then rescheduled for November. As Historicon and the other HMGS events have been on my bucket list, I wanted to go as a GM anyways and player too.

Also, as followers of this blog know – I have been deep into building out a series of games for the Spanish Conquest over the last year-and-a-half. This has involved many aspects – writing a rules supplement, painting figures, and building a series of games and battlefields much more for the for Feudal Patrol games for the period of the Spanish Conquest in Mesoamerica 500 years ago. I also recently rewrote my supplement Civilizations Collide – which will be a free download (as will a scenario booklet with multiple historic scenarios that I am working on now). So, I was very much looking forward to Historicon 2021.

Therefore, I signed up to run two games – both of which are scenarios on my in-progress booklet. I planned on running both my “Surprise Aztec Raid on the Spanish Outpost” and “Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt” games on Thursday night and Saturday morning respectively.

The Maryland-based H.A.W.K.’s were kind enough to admit me as a game master and share their room. I have been long-time friends with two members, Dave Wood (my old West Point roommate) and Buck Surdu (who also has been a friend since our West Point days which are now going back aways). Buck is also the author of many games, to include  Feudal Patrol and Wars of Ozz© (see a nice review of Ozz here).

My friend Craig Hogan, myself, and Dave Wood back at USMA – probably Ring Weekend in the Fall of 1983. Craig sadly was killed a few years ago now in a private plan crash.
Thanksgiving 1987 in Hagenbach, Rhineland-Pfalz, West Germany, Buck, myself, and my daughter Ellen (who is 34 now). We got together for gaming and the holiday. Buck came up from Vicenza, Italy where he was stationed to my place with a buddy, and we gamed and we had fun.

Through Dave and Buck, I have been lucky to make new friends with others of the H.A.W.K.’s, like Greg Priebe, Chris Palmer, and Duncan Adams (and many more too – like Zeb, Don, Eric and others – please don’t feel left out if I did not mention you). Due to my ongoing garage+ build (of which there are a number of updates that are listed here), I missed BARRAGE in September. So, I was pretty stoked about the opportunity to get together with friends (and make new ones) and push lead around the tabletop.

However, as fate would have it, some folks would not be able to attend Historicon due to personal reasons. As seeing and gaming with friends are as much a draw for me as the convention itself, I needed to make a change in plans. We had a Zoom call, and collectively arrived at a new plan. I would drive down from Massachusetts and meet Dave in Maryland for a gaming afternoon on the 11th at my hotel room. Then on Friday morning I would run my “Surprise Aztec Raid on the Spanish Outpost” game in Chris Palmer’s gaming room in Maryland, and then play in an Ozz game afterwards until I needed to leave for Historicon (about 90 minutes away). Friday night I would drive up to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania to set up my “Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt” game for Saturday morning play.

So, on a 28-degree morning in Massachusetts, I defrosted my loaded car (12 boxes of terrain, plus 2 mats, a wagon, plus a suitcase) and headed to Maryland – arriving around mid-day – where it was 4o degrees warmer. Ah, New England!

Frosty morning departure.

Axis & Allies

Dave and I have now gamed since 1982 – so coming up on 40 years. We have played Avalon Hill’s “Victory in the Pacific” (as well as other titles) dozens of times over the years. On Thursday, after I arrived, we decided to be different and try Milton Bradley’s “Axis & Allies” this time – a board game with plastic miniatures that we have discussed many times but never played before. I got this game back in the mid-80’s. At one point there was an on-line version but we never got around to playing that either. For this game, we picked sides at random, and Dave played the Axis, and I the Allies. It was Veteran’s Day, and as we are obviously both vets, it was a nice add.

The game went back and forth. A lot. I managed to keep Russia in the game – and built an industrial complex in India for the British. This allowed me to build 3 units per turn there in an attempt to keep the Japanese off the Russian’s back.

After the first turn, I had consolidated a nice position in Mother Russia to try to thwart Dave. And yes, the shirt says what I am impressed with – Dave has run dozens of marathons and many runs up to 50 miles and maybe more in distance.
We had a back and forth fight over the Karelia territory that had a factory I did not want to lose. Eventually, I did.

Meanwhile, my Indian gambit attracted a lot of Japanese attention – maybe too much. Dave hammered away at it and while the Japanese were unsuccessful he did attrite my forces and that prevented me from exploiting my force buildup.

Dave made multiple attacks on India supported by carrier-based fighters and land-based bombers. I had sent the American-supported Chinese infantry in to help defend. Meanwhile, Russia fell.

Dave kept hammering away at India, and eventually had his Germans violate Afghan neutrality – hitting India for the decisive blow. Yes, the Germans took India by blitzing panzers through Afghanistan…

I built India up and flew in American air support, but the next turn it fell.

I did desperately roll for Weapon’s Development for both the Americans and the British – with only the British succeeding in getting 3 – Rockets, Super Subs, and Strategic Bombers. My rocket and strategic bomber attacks slowed the German’s production, but it was too late…congrats to Dave!

Christoricon – Surprise Aztec Raid on the Spanish Outpost

Originally I was supposed to run my one of my games at Historicon on Thursday night – that being a rural one where Aztecs are making a surprise raid on a Tlaxcalan village (acting as a Conquistador supply depot) – only to see that there were indeed some Spanish there. Instead, we went to Chris Palmer’s house and I ran the game on early Friday morning. We joked and called it “Christoricon”. I hosted and there were 5 players – Buck, Duncan Adams, and Dave for the Aztecs, and Chris and Greg Priebe for the Spanish/Tlaxcalans. The defending Spanish/Tlaxcalans had one Warband of three Elements – 23 figures worth 41 points. The attacking Aztecs had two Warbands of 3 Elements each – 53 figures worth 78.25 points. Buck has already written a great post about this game and the others that day on his blog here – and his write-up and pics are great. I took some photos that you see below, but for me, simultaneously being a GM and a photographer is not easy – so I do recommend you take a look. Meanwhile, here are my pics.

The game is ready to begin. Chris and Greg elected to place the Conquistador Element armed with arquebuses further away from their leader in their secret deployment in lieu of their Element of Sword & Buckler men. This meant that they were “pinned” with their black powder weapons only activating at best on half of the turns. They could have “unpinned” but as luck would have it the dice did not let that happen. Note also that Franco the unlucky Conquistador made the trip!

Chris chose to send out his war dogs towards Dave’s Aztecs as a screen, and they promptly took atlatl damage. Dave, Duncan and Buck moved up quickly, while Greg took up a position in the maize field with his dangerous Tlaxcalan bowmen.

Dave moves up his “twinned” Elements of veteran/novice warriors towards a wounded war dog.

The Spanish then had their Catholic Priest take possession of the gold (possession of the gold was one of the game objectives) and drag it to a more secure location while they contested the Noble House (another objective) – (insert joke here).

Battle starting at the Noble House – the war dogs are already going down here. Their priest has already dragged away the gold to a safer location.

Buck’s advancing Elite Cuahchicque (“Shorn Ones”) took the full volley of arquebus fire from the less-activating pinned Spanish. Despite these Elite Aztecs taking a lot of damage and having a ton of Morale checks to overcome, Buck was able to rally his troops successfully against the odds twice. Meanwhile Duncan moved his Jaguar and Eagle Warriors against Greg’s Tlaxcalan bowmen in the cornfield – hoping to best them in melee.

Dave and Buck confer while surveying Duncan’s advance – and their chances at victory – with concern. This shows the second volley that Buck’s Elite Shorn Ones took and the blue beads are Morale checks he needed to pass. He did. Twice.

Slowly, the tide of battle started turning in the Aztecs’ favor. Dave’s attack on the Aztec right was making headway, and they were gaining control of the objectives.

Priest still dragging the gold away here.
Lots of carnage on the tabletop.

Eventually, the Spanish and Tlaxcalans were overwhelmed.

The game ended as a resounding Aztec win, as they had control of three objectives, as well as dragging off 9 pour souls for sacrifice, killing 2 more, and making one run away. The Spanish had only the gold, but did dispatch 15 Aztecs and capture one more. The final score was 86-40 as you see below. I think the players had a good game. Congrats to Dave, Buck, and Duncan!

Christoricon – Ozz

After the Aztec/Spanish game, Chris Palmer ran a Wars of Ozz© game that I played in briefly – again, Buck’s blog post has an excellent account as I left after having stymied Dave’s advance a bit (though I was pretty well smashed force-wise in that effort). I commanded a force of Winkies with allies (Greater and Lesser Pumpkinhead Warriors). My sacrifice was not in vain, and it allowed Chris and Greg to smash the Munchkin center.

I love the Ozz figures!

I then drove to Historicon, and set up for Saturday morning’s game.

Historicon – Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt

The drive up to Valley Forge Resort Casino was uneventful – though finding the H.A.W.K.’s room was a challenge. The gaming was not located in one location at the resort. Unfortunately, it was also a Friday night at a casino and all the close parking was gone. Luckily, I have a little collapsible wagon and was able to get into the room with my stuff in a few trips and set up the terrain and the troops for Saturday morning’s game, Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt.

My game flyer

You can see a short Instagram video of the set up here.

It’s a BIG battle. The Spanish/Tlaxcalans have three Warbands of three Elements (2 Spanish, 1 Tlaxcalan) plus support – 77 figures (including the 4 war wagons) worth 161.75 points. The Aztecs have five Warbands of 2-3 Elements each – 109 figures worth 154.25 points. 186 figures in total. This battle is Cortes’ second attempt to escape. He would do a second on the following day, and three days later a third – La Noche Triste. Originally, on the Historicon listings, the game was supposed to be La Noche Triste – which again happened three days later (and of which I will have that scenario written soon) – but I needed war canoes for that one. Those I don’t have yet, and will be mentioned here in a bit.

Back to the game set up. As I was setting up, I had a number of people come by to remark positively on the game visuals – terrain and figures. They had seen my posts on different forums (or fora both are ok!). To all of you, thank you so much for your kind words and interest.

Besides all of the cityscape – and it’s a lot I know – but with everything predeployed I just needed to put players on their troops and let them know what they needed to do on their part of the battlefield.

As I mentioned before, I had previously needed to cancel my Thursday game – and I got a comment from one of our blog community – Harry (aka borderguy190)- that he was disappointed as he had signed up for the game. I apologized, as I wish I could have ran that too at Historicon as well. But the good news was that he would be playing in this game!

He joined 7 other players. They seemed to grasp the concepts of the game quickly – and I did get some help from Greg Priebe and Buck Surdu in the early turns before they had to help run an Ozz game.

The game set up.
Troops deployed and dashboards out. My undermagnets and game markers really have proven their worth – especially in big melee scrums.

In this game, the Conquistadores are surrounded, and need to fight their way out from the Palace of Axayacatl where they were holed up with their hostage/puppet Montezuma II. They have war wagons, and while these are helpful in providing cover against missile weapons, they are also rickety and slow – and prone to breaking. In fact, all of them broke during the game and were unable to move afterwards. The Aztecs are trying to get to the Conquistadores and avenge the massacre that the Spanish perpetrated at the Festival of Toxcatl. Their Tlaxcalan allies are mostly on the other end of the tabletop and trying to break into Tenochtitlan to help their Spanish allies escape.

There were ups and downs for both sides all over the table. The Conquistadores breakout went slowly, but they did take out a lot of Aztecs. On the other end where the Tlaxcalans were trying to help, the two sides traded missile fire and got into a scrum but were unable to change the status quo.

Lots of action! Harry (in red) ponders his next move.
Aztecs swarm the war wagons and wound the crossbowmen and arquebusiers inside.
Thinks get more contested in Tenochtitlan.

One of the aspects of the game is the importance of The Banner of Cortes. It provides inspiration to the Conquistadores and helps them to reduce negative Morale effects. However, I also made its capture (as well as incapacitating Cortes and dragging him off for sacrifice) game objectives. The Aztecs took some heavy losses BUT were able to take out the bannerman and seize the banner. This lead to the Spanish having to try to satisfy Honor and retake the banner. However, this did not happen before the game’s end. As it was worth 50 points (see below), it was decisive.

The Banner of Cortes is taken!
Aztecs won 78-35. The 50 points for the capture of The Banner of Cortes made all the difference!

Thanks so much to all who played! I did not win any awards for the game – though many said I should have. Anyways, the best reward is happy gamers afterwards – and I got that in abundance!!

The gamers! Very cool group – thanks to all!

After the game, I got a lot of positive feedback, and learned of some areas to help make the play easier. Those suggestions have already have already been acted upon when I got home (mainly on the dashboards such as linking the undermagnet colors to the dashboards).

After the game, I then went with Greg and Buck to the vendors and the Flea Market. It was nice to go to the Badger Games booth and actually be remembered! Also, I was looking for canoes to use as war canoes, but only found one from Firelock Games that was $20. That is way too expensive when you need as many as do. I also found one in the Flea Market – a balsa wood scratch-built one from an estate sale- for $3. I am going to use both for gaming and as ideas on how to make my own. Of importance, Greg is a big lover of his 3D printer – and in exchange for me painting up some Viking figures for him, he will make me a good number of canoes! Win-win! So, my next job will be to paint those up.

I look forward to returning to the gaming and convention scene as a GM and a gamer. I hope you found this interesting – thanks for looking.

For all of my previous posts on games, units, and other projects for my 16th Century Spanish Conquest supplement for Feudal Patrol™ – “Civilizations Collide” – please see this page.

Author: Mark A. Morin

This site is where I will discuss stuff that I find interesting and that includes family, friends, golf, gaming, and Boston sports!

20 thoughts on “Historicon 2021, Christoricon, and Axis & Allies”

  1. It’s great to be able to get out and about, more so to meet up with friends and get people playing on your amazing set-up. The write-up was wonderful, and sounds like everyone had a really good time! Hopefully, there’s more of this in the near future.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. A really, really great post!

    It looks like you and everyone else had a great weekend of catching up and gaming.

    The one downside of gaming in Oz is that there a very few hobby events to immerse yourself in. Cancon and Little Wars are probably the only ones but none of these are on the scale of Salute or Historicon. The later is still on my bucket list to do. Maybe post the Apocalypse!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Hey, glad you liked the post – I wanted to knock it out while it was still fresh but it did take a bit to write. From what I understand our cons are very different than UK cons – ours are very much oriented on players playing versus the demonstration games in the UK types. Yes, post-apocalypse!

      Like

  3. Its always fun to read about people’s experiences at conventions and I’m glad you got to spend some time with people you’ve known for a long time too. The games look and sounded like a ton of fun! Thanks for taking time to share photos and a write up with us. I imagine it took some time to do and we all appreciate it! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  4. That is a lot of awesome packed into one blog post! It is great to see all your work come to this. Also a joy to see photos from the 80’s. I got to Berlin in late ’88 and did cold weather training out of Vincenza briefly in early ’89 if I remember correctly.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Really enjoyed reading this, Mark, so thanks for sharing! You packed quite a lot into the time you had I think but having the games and meeting up with friends sounds like it really made it special for you! 🙂 Great to get the Tenochtitlan game played after all that work as well!

    Liked by 2 people

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