HAVOC XXXIV Recap – Notes & Photos

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.

0 warbots only
My flyer for the game

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.

1 setup Attack of the Warbots
The Warbots make their assault.  Their goal was to recapture a Mark 1 Sphere tank behind the building on the right center (which the Frinx were attempting to repair for their own use).  A Robo-Sentry gun has been taken out by the Warbots and burns in the middle.
2 Robo sentry guns and Sphere tank burn
Frinx anti-tank fire from the factory’s 2nd floor knock out a Warbot Mark 1 Sphere tank between the slag mounds, and more Robo-Sentry guns burn.  The remaining Mark 1 prepares to use its Death Ray on the Aphids on the left.   
3 Aphid Platoon Leader attacks Sphere tank
The Mark 1’s attempt to fry the Aphids fails and its weapon malfunctions.  Seizing the opportunity, the Aphid platoon leader leaps onto the tank from the second floor and attempts to destroy it with a satchel charge.
4 Warbots advance
The satchel charge attack failed to penetrate the Mark 1.  Frinx bazookas then hit the tank while the platoon leader was on top of it.  The Mark 1 was immobilized by this AT fire, but the Aphid platoon leader was killed by the same attack.  Note the card on the tank – I use cards with pictures on them to denote casualties for infantry. 

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.

000 Al Award

11a award
A true honor!  Thanks so much Battlegroup Boston!

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.

8aa 04062018 HAVOC frogs phraints only
My game flyer for this game

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.

8a set up for FROGS with me
My set up – Aphids attack from the south, Space Phraints from the north.  Terrain posed a challenge for the attacker because their long range weapons advantages were nullified.
8n me gming
The players listen as I brief – photo by Mike Paine

The Aphids got into the fray first with their Grav Cycles, while the Aphid infantry and the Space Phraints advanced.

8b Aphid Grav cycles start
Aphid Grav Cycles prepare to jet across the river

8c game begins

8d Grav Cycles attack
The Aphid Grav Cycles charge into the two 2nd squad Frog positions (two teams by the yellow dice).  The Frogs prepare to respond with Frogbot’s chain guns, their assault rifles, and a flame thrower.  The Aphids attacking on the right have begun to take heavy casualties.
8h Aphids taking flamethrower hits
Aphid attacks are torched.  The leader of the one on the right lost all of his troops and ended up committing ritual suicide from a morale check card.

The Aphids however did effectively draw the Frogs to their attack, weakening the side facing the Hurraku Space Phraints.  This would have consequences.

8e Phraints advance
The Frogs 1st Squad maneuvers towards the Hurraku
8f Phraints advance by hill
1st Squad’s assault rifles inflict heavy damage on the advancing Hurraku Space Phraints.  The red beads represent morale checks for the Hurraku
8g taking flamethrower Phraints advance by hill
Then the Frogs used their flamethrower on them…

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.

The other flank is swarmed
The Frogs are devastated by the assault.  Cards denote dead Frogs.  Blue beads represent morale checks for the Frogs, which were mounting up quickly.  During a Banzai charge, attackers do accrue morale checks, but are not stunned.  They also activate all at the same time.  The attackers would end their charge after a special card is pulled from the Action Deck – so it can go on for a while.  In this game, it never ended.

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.

8l Star Ducks arrive
Star Ducks reinforce Frogs for a last stand
A Hurraku Space Phraint reaches the sacred pond and wins the game

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.

5 bolt action start
The battle begins as Germans move towards the village

5a bolt action mid

5b David Shuster bolt action mid
David Shuster moves his Russians up
5c David Shuster bolt action mid advance
View from the Russians side
5d first building assault
Germans successfully storm the first building

5e first building seized

5e second building seized
Germans successfully take the second building
5f stug hit
The Sturmgeschutz is hit

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.

7 Gaslight start
The game starts – I had the red cars
7a gaslight start
After using a flamethrower on a white car, I t-boned the orange one, but flipped over the structure
7b gaslight playing
Game play – photo by Mike Paine

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!

6 the HAVOC on Sat AM
A view of the con Saturday morning. There were two rooms.
9b 3d deathmatch from above
Tim Allen had a magnificent home game using Legos
9 3d deathmatch from above
The Deathmatch Arena 3D game
9a 3d deathmatch from above
Characters from Deathmatch Arena 3D
12 Lion Rampant
Lion Rampant game (big game!) run by Richard F. Wareing – photo by Mike Paine
13 Chain of Command Hurtgen forest
Thomas Ballou ran a Battle of the Hurgen Forest scenario – photo by Mike Paine
14 Silent Death Smash
Bruce Carson ran a Silent Death Smash game – photo by Mike Paine
10j hanghai game
Mike Paine’s immense game – spectacular!  Eye candy for this below, some I borrowed from Mike Paine with permission

10 hanghai game10a hanghai game10b hanghai game

10c hanghai game
Game play – photo by Mike Paine
10d hanghai game
Nice sampan -photo by Mike Paine
10e hanghai game
Beautiful terrain, so complex – photo by Mike Paine
10f hanghai game
Photo by Mike Paine
10g hanghai game
Game play – photo by Mike Paine
10h hanghai game
Chinese bombard – photo by Mike Paine
10i hanghai game
 Nice American gunboat – photo by Mike Paine




If you are going to Cold Wars, here are some great options!

I cannot make Cold Wars this year – but these are some great options for those attending!  See below!

From Buck Surdu’s Blog

Buck F: 215: Hold as Long as Possible (1) Friday, 9:00 AM, 4 hrs, Players: 6 GM: Buck Surdu & HAWKS Sponsor: None, Prize: None Period: World War II, Scale: 28mm, Rules: Combat Patrol™: WWII. ItisthePhilippinesinearly1942. The Americans are retreating slowly toward Bataan. A platoon of infantry, along with a handful of Stuart tanks, must […]

via Combat Patrol (TM) at Cold Wars 2018 — H.A.W.K.S.


Buck Barrage planning and preparations continue. Barrage 2017 will be held 19-20 January 2018. (Yes, Barrage 2017 will be held in January 2018.) Our inclement weather day will be the following weekend. Take a look at http://www.hawks-barrage.org to see all the great games on offer. While the schedule is filling up, there is room for […]

via Barrage is Getting Closer; the Event List is Filling Up — H.A.W.K.S.

Announcing the New South Pacific Supplement for Combat Patrol(TM): WWII (from Buck’s Surdu’s Blog)

This is from Buck Surdu’s blog – nice addition to the Combat Patrol rules!

Announcing the Release of the South Pacific Supplement for Combat Patrol™: World War II. Like all the previous supplements for Combat Patrol™, this supplement is FREE to download as a .pdf. Why a South Pacific Supplement? Fighting in the South Pacific during World War II was unique compared to other theaters, even other parts of…

via Announcing the New South Pacific Supplement for Combat Patrol(TM): WWII — Buck’s Blog

What was going on in Finland During the Viking Age? Are the Finns descended from or related to the Vikings?

I am a lover of history, and of course love the dramatized series Vikings on the History Channel.  It takes some dramatic license of course, but is fun.

Lately, the History Channel has added Real Vikings as an add-on show.  It’s pretty good as you get to get some interesting facts and stories about the Vikings while seeing some of the European sites that they lived in and raided.

I’ve always been curious about my relationship to the Vikings and other races in history genetically.  I am ¼ Irish, ¼ Finnish, 3/16 French Canadian (the French origins of Morin seem to be more from Normandy), 1/16 Micmac tribe, 1/8 Swedish, and 1/8 Italian (near Naples).  Clearly the Irish side would have Celtic ancestry, but there were a lot of Vikings in Ireland – and I believe every major city in Ireland, or most of them, started out as Viking settlements during their raiding period.  The Normans certainly were of Viking ancestry, and Swedes were pretty much as well (along with Norwegians and Danes).  So I am pretty sure that Viking DNA is in me from the Irish, the French, and the Swedes, but what of the Finns?

The article below by Kristian Ola (Wilpuri) on the website All Empires is very interesting.  She does a very nice job in English (I believe she is a Finn).  Basically, she discusses the Finnic and Ugric tribes that lived in the Finnish peninsula during the Viking Age and how they interacted based upon the archeologic record.  I have a better appreciation now of how the Finns (and their ancestors) really got stuck between the Swedes and Russians going back to the days of the Vikings.  Curiously, during the Cold War, the Finns did not explore much of their history of that time so as not to alienate the USSR.  In any case, I thought this was a good read.




CHEVAUX DE FRISE (Old Glory Miniatures)

While I have been collecting many different fantasy miniatures this year, I have really wanted more terrain and obstacles for the tabletop.  I was happy to come across this out of print (OOP) chevaux de fries collection from Old Glory Miniatures.  This was acquired from Noble Knight Games which has a lot of OOP stuff.  As a former Combat Engineer, I looked forward to installing real obstacles on the battlefield!  Yes, “installing” is the word we Engineers would use – but I digress.

We have had the use of chevaux de fries in the fantasy miniatures rules for a while.  However, I was never happy with my ad hoc representations.  I have also known what chevaux de fries actually were physically in medieval days, but I was less familiar with their origin. I did some research, and I thought it would be useful to give a general historical background on them for the curious.

The term is of course French with the singular being cheval de fries and the plural being chevaux de fries.  Typically these were mainly anti-cavalry defensive obstacles, but they could slow up infantry as well on land, and there were naval versions as well.

They were often constructed using logs with iron or metal spikes or spears jutting through drilled holes.  The spikes could also be mounted on wooden frames.  They were used from medieval times up to and including modern times.

Fellow USMA graduates will remember the stories of the Great Chain at West Point during the Revolutionary War.  This was a massive iron chain with sharpened logs that was designed to deny the British Navy the ability to use the Hudson River from New York City to Canada in either direction as a means of communications.  This employment denied the British the ability to isolate New England from the other colonies.

1777 map detail showing the chevaux-de-frise between Fort Lee and Fort Washington
1777 map detail showing the chevaux-de-frise between Fort Lee and Fort Washington

Many early Civil War photographs exist depicting the uses of chevaux de fries such as the examples here from Atlanta and Petersburg during the Civil War.

Chevaux de Frise in Atlanta during the Civil War
Chevaux de Frise in Atlanta during the Civil War
Chevaux de frise at the Confederate Fort Mahone defenses at Siege of Petersburg
Chevaux de frise at the Confederate Fort Mahone defenses at Siege of Petersburg

In WWI and WWII they were used to plug gaps in barbed wire defenses.  Engineers devised the knife rest as a way to plug gaps in wire obstacles that could allow for passage through those gaps by friendly forces.  They are even used today as a way to block roads and the like.

Knife rest
Knife rest

With horse cavalry scarce as a threat, in WWII Europe, chevaux de fries morphed into “hedgehogs” that were employed as anti-landing craft defenses on beaches and anti-tank defenses on fortified lines.  I am sure that most would remember  from movies and war footage the welded steel I-beam structures such as were used by the Germans on the Normandy Beaches or the Siegfried Line.

Beach obstacles at Pas de Calais, 18 April 1944
Beach obstacles at Pas de Calais, 18 April 1944

The advent of barbed wire and the demise of horse cavalry has led to the obsolescence of this trusty defensive tool.  However, chevaux de fries have recently showed up in popular culture as well recently.  I do remember their uses against Walkers in two episodes of The Walking Dead – one to reinforce the prison gate and a second by Morgan when he was in Rick’s home town.  They were effective against the Walkers, as the walkers would impale themselves and get stuck.

Michonne got her second set of
In The Walking Dead, Michonne got her second set of “pets” off the chevaux de fries at the prison

The term chevaux de fries has its origins in medieval times.  Frisia is an area from roughly medieval coastal Holland and northern Belgium to Denmark.


Chevaux de fries means, literally, “Frisian Horse”.  Apparently the Frisians had little cavalry and first used chevaux de fries to defend against cavalry attacks.  Whether this was derisive or not on the part of the French or whomever no one knows – but the term stuck.

Let me get back now to the miniatures!  I found these on Noble Knight Games and got them for $14.95.  Note the misspelling on the label on the bag!

Chevaux de Frise in the Package - not sure of what date these were made
Chevaux de Frise in the Package – not sure of what date these were made

The misspelled label on the package said 8 figures, but really it was a set of 6 pairs of chevaux de fries.  Each set consisted of a log with spear-like wooden iron-tipped spikes and a wooden saw horse structure with screw-shaped iron spikes.  I got them out of the package, cleaned all the pieces with a brush and dishwashing soap, and was surprised to see how many tiny pieces there were that needed assembly!  There were also extra pieces that could have been flash or the bottom of the spikes.

I picked the best ones for stave pieces and moved on to assembling them with E6000 epoxy.  Thankfully, I was able to effectively use my pin vise to make available some of the holes in the saw horses that were not well molded.  My goal was to put these together to look as field expedient as possible – as if they were hastily made.  These would have been made on-demand as needed for a battle, and I did not want them to look too polished.

Chevaux de frise out of package unassembled
Chevaux de frise out of package unassembled

After putting them together I realized that basing them first for painting was the best option.  This would lead to some crazy angles in getting paint on the the undersides of the miniatures.  However, the models were just not sturdy enough without bases.  I decided the I would use my scroll saw to cut 1.5″ square bases from 1/8″ balsa.  I affixed the models to the bases with my strong wood glue and that proved to be a good call.

Chevaux de frise assembled on balsa bases
Chevaux de frise assembled on balsa bases

I then primed the six with black Krylon primer spray paint.  I then base-coated the miniatures and the bases.  With some nostalgia, I used up the last of my vintage 1984 Polly-S Jungle Green on the bases.  I must have used this paint on many figures over the years.  I painted the logs with a combination of Americana Raw Umber and Americana Raw Sienna.  I envisioned the sawhorses as being made from fresh lumber, so I base-coated them with a combination of Americana Raw Sienna and Americana Desert Sand, lightening and highlighting them with more of the latter on subsequent coats.  The iron rods in the saw horses and the iron tips of the staves were painted with Citadel Mechanized Gray.  The stave shafts in the logs were painted with Musket Brown from Armory (still some left over from 1996).

Chevaux de frise base coated and dry brushed before washing
Chevaux de frise base coated and dry brushed before washing

I then dry brushed the logs with Apple Barrel Pewter Gray which gave nice detail to the bark.  I the used a couple of wash applications with Secret Weapons Washes to add a a bit more realism – Red-Black on the wood logs and the saw horse frames and Heavy Body Black on the iron parts.

Chevaux de frise base coated and dry brushed after wash application
Chevaux de frise base coated and dry brushed after wash application

I then had the task of flocking and detailing the bases – on which I used three Army Painter’s products.  I used a slurry of water and Elmer’s White Glue to affix two coats of Grass Green flocking.  I then used Krylon Clear Matte spray varnish to protect the paint and stabilize the flocking before adding the final touches.  These were the addition of a combination of both 4mm Wilderness Tuft and 6mm Wasteland Tuft.  I found easier to attach these grasses with wood glue than with the Elmer’s.  I like the finished products, andeagerly await the chance to deploy some archers behind them!

Chevaux de frise base finished in circle
Chevaux de frise base finished in circle
Back of a Single Cheval de Frise  - Defender's Side
Back of a Single Chevaux de Frise – Defender’s Side
Front of Chevaux de Frise - Attacker's Side
Front of Chevaux de Frise – Attacker’s Side
Chevaux de Frise in Line
Chevaux de Frise in Line