Allies Defeat Germans at Fort Devens Game Day

On October 19th, 2019, the Fort Devens Gaming Day was held at the Fort Devens Museum.  This was our monthly gaming day as an “away” game day for the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.  Our club sponsored two games as Scott Howland ran a pulp game in another room which was very well-received. I believe it was similar to this one.

This was my second time attending this small convention and my first time as a game master there.  For nostalgia alone, I really looked forward to the event as I was stationed at the old Fort Devens before it was closed in the 1990’s.   It has since been converted to commercial uses and some US Army Reserve functions.  Running a game here was fun.

10192019 Normandy Breakout with contact info

Mike Morgan graciously helped me set up my game in the museum among the exhibits (as you will see below)).  Thanks so much Mike!  Mike also supported Scott as a player in his game, and that was very cool.  I ran my Normandy Breakout game for What a Tanker©.  We had seven players – including several from the Mass Pikemen.  On the German side were Chris, Peter, and Steve.  On the Allied side were Leif and Walter (US), and Evan and Alex (UK).

Both sides started with 150 points/chips to use during the game.  The Allies started with a 40 points worth of vehicles.  For the UK, they bought a Dingo scout car and a Churchill “TIM” (nicknamed for theimperfectmodeler aka TIM), along with an M5 Stuart, and an M8 Greyhound for the US.  The Germans spent slightly less, choosing to buy an SdKfz 231 scout car, a StuG IIIG, and a Panzer IVH for 36 points.

1 Set up
The players prepare for battle among the museum exhibits.

The Germans took up very good ambush positions – especially the Panzer IVH, which was hull-down behind a stone wall.  The M5 Stuart successfully reconned it, and the German fired point-blank at the light tank, missing it.  The Stuart then prudently backed up behind the hedgerow.  The Churchill “TIM” then moved up the road, to be also shot at, and again missed by the Panzer IVH.  Amazingly, the Churchill immediately reversed the bad German die rolls, and miraculously hit and knocked out the Panzer IVH for its first kill ring of the day.

2 Churchill takes out Pzkw IVH
The first exchange goes badly for the Germans as the Panzer IVH missed its first two targets (the M5 Stuart and the Churchill).  The retreating M5 is at top behind the hedgerow.  The Churchill “TIM” drives past the knocked out (with crew surviving) Panzer IVH.

The Allies then successfully reconned nine possible German positions at 2 points apiece, adding to their score.  They also successfully crossed the tabletop with an M8 Greyhound, gained the points, and respawned as another M8.  The Germans spent some points and respawned the destroyed Panzer IVH crew into a Panther D which drove up next to the burning Panzer IVH.  The Churchill “TIM” went Panther hunting.

Meanwhile, the Germans tried to put an end to the Allied reconnaissance successes.  The StuG IIIG ambushed both the M5 and the Dingo gaining them crucial points, which they used to buy a Marder III.  The Allies respawned both losses with similar models.

3 StuG IIIG takes out M5, while Churchill moves around Panther
The Churchill “TIM” at top maneuvers to attack a Panther in the rear.  In the foreground, The StuG IIIG takes out the M5…  

The Allies spent some chips to respawn the Dingo as a Cromwell IV nicknamed “IRO” aka imperialrebelork.  The Germans dropped some obscuring smoke in front of the Cromwell.

4 StuG IIIG takes out Dingo, while Churchill moves around Panther
…and then the Dingo.  The Germans dropped smoke to protect the StuG from the Cromwell IV “IRO”.  The Churchill “TIM” at top hunts the Panther D.

“TIM” continued its winning ways and managed a flank shot on the Panther D.  Its good dice rolling (and the German bad dice rolling) yielded a second kill ring for “TIM”.

5 Churchill gets second kill ring against Panther
The Churchill “TIM” takes out the Panther D.

The Germans were aghast at this expensive loss and vowed revenge.  The SdKfz 231 managed to call in a rare Luftwaffe air strike on the Churchill, which destroyed “TIM” after it had been so effective.

The British mourned this loss, and respawned it as an Achilles 17-pounder nicknamed “Per”.  The British also bought another Dingo and a Cromwell IV nicknamed “JNV” or justneedsvarnish.  The US bought an M10 Wolverine.  The Germans went for broke and bought a Jagdpanther and an SdKfz 233.

The StuG IIIG went head-to-head with the Cromwell “IRO”, and took it out.  The Jagdpanther caught the Achilles “Per” in the open and made short work of it.  In the meantime, the Allies successfully crossed a Dingo and an M8 Greyhound.  This resulted in denying the Germans any end of game bonus points for preventing more than two Allied vehicles crossing the table.

To make matters worse for the Germans, the respawned M5 Stuart knocked out a well-hidden Marder III with some help from a supporting infantry assault (see how I use bonus attack cards here) and well-placed 37mm rounds.  As the game was winding down, and it was clear the Allies had a commanding edge in the score, The Germans bought a Tiger I and converged all vehicles on the plucky M5.

6 Marder III taken out and other Germans seek vengeance
The Marder III burns, and the Tiger I and SdKfz 233 hunt the M5 Stuart… 
7 Stuart will not die
…and are joined by the Jagdpanther!
8 Traffic jam
This traffic jam at game’s end yielded no damage on the M5 Stuart – the dice had completely deserted the Germans.

At games end, the final score was Allies 193, Germans 142.  This game yet again delivered a different result.  Player choices, and player luck all made this game fun and unique.

This is my 12th post about my development and running of this scenario and the models that went into making it.  I started back in May 2019, so it’s been a lot of work, but one project that I really am proud of now.

I wanted to honor the history and the struggle of the Allies in the days after the D-Day landing 75 years ago.  I will continue to run the game, and at this point I really only need to add a StuG IV to be really complete vehicle-wise (and I have one to build!).  To read about previous games and related posts, see the following:

Thanks to the Fort Devens Museum, Peter Lowitt. and the guys at Fencing Frog Gaming Adventures for running the event.  I hope to see you next year, if not sooner.  I also hope that some of the players join us at The Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.

I hope you enjoyed this post and would love to read your feedback!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween Diorama with Classic Movie Monsters from 1970’s Ral Partha

When I was young boy, the local TV station would show an old monster or horror movie on Saturday afternoon.  Sometimes these were the of the 1960’s Japanese Godzilla et. al. genre, other times they were the B-movie sci-fi stuff from the 1950’s.  Even the British Hammer remakes would be shown.  Those were all cool, but the best ones were the classic 1930’s and 1940’s films like “Dracula” (1931), “Frankenstein” (1931), “The Mummy” (1932), and “The Wolf Man” (1941).

My dad would enthusiastically watch these films with us and I have really special memories of those occasions.  Now of course every movie ever made can be had immediately, but back then you had to wait and hope that they would be coming on – and that made their rare showings quite eventful.  The subjects of those movies have seen numerous remakes, but the originals remain classics and have had a huge impact on popular culture.

One of those influences was in the creation of games with monsters, such as Dungeons and Dragons (and others) – and the miniatures that were used with them – such as 25mm scale figures from Ral Partha.  For US folks unfamiliar with 25mm scale – this is the common Ral Partha scale in the 1970’s and 1980’s and it means that each figure is only about 1″ tall.

I first was exposed to Ral Partha miniatures in 1982 – and have loved them ever since.  Sculptors such as Tom Meier, Julie Guthrie, and Dennis Mize made fantastic creations that were true scale, not “hero scale” as many of today’s miniatures are.  Ral Partha figures are still made today in Cincinnati by Iron Winds Metals.  When I returned to the hobby in 2014, I acquired many of the old figures in various lots of figures on eBay.  Among these of which I came into possession were several of the old classic movie monsters.  They often were encrusted with the types of thick enamel hobby paint that was commonly used back then.  I stripped many (with some damage), and put them away for future consideration.

That future consideration arrived this month.  A local hobby store, Great Stories in Uxbridge, MA, has gaming and other hobby events that you can read about here.   One of these events was “The Great Pumpkin Halloween Hobby Challenge”.  The store had a pumpkin patch for figures to be displayed – and the only rules were that there needed to be a pumpkin (provided for $5 as entry) as part of the figure – and that it needed to be submitted by October 28th.  I decided that my filed-somewhere Ral Partha monsters would make a nice diorama for the challenge.  I dug into my stash, and found that I had 5 suitable figures, two werewolves, one mummy, one Dracula, and one Frankenstein’s Monster.  I wanted to push myself with the mini-diorama – as I have been admiring many of those by theimperfectmodeler for years (check one of his recent dioramas here).  I am nowhere near his creative league (he is award-winning) – but his work is inspiring and I wanted to see if I could accomplish something of which I could be proud.  I decided to use an old DVD and card as a base and a Woodlands Scenics rock as elevation.  The edge of the pumpkin patch would be on the DVD so I could line it up on the display at the store.

The effect that I wanted was that of having these classic monsters coming from off the pumpkin patch and moving to prey upon the unwary townsfolk beyond.

1 4 bases
1976 and 1979 figures’ bases.  From left to right is Frankenstein’s Monster (1979), Dracula (1976), The Mummy (1976), and one of the two werewolves (both were 1979).
2 cd and stone and card
The base was an old DVD sanded down – and a Woodland Scenics resin stone.
3 cd and stone and card painted
I decided to brush paint the base with primer to keep the stone pristine (and away from any airbrush mistakes).  I also wanted to have a great bond between the stone and the DVD so I affixed it prior to painting along with a piece of polystyrene card to cover the hole.

Again, these are 25mm figures so they don’t stand out like larger models.  This is what we had back in the day!  I will share details of each of the five models, and then the completed piece.  As is my custom, I will list the paints and materials I used at the end of this post for those interested.  I did use many Citadel Contrast paints as base paints.

Dracula

The Dracula/vampire model was #01-014, a Tom Meier sculpt from the Personalities and Things that Go Bump In The Night line.  The base had “Ral Partha 1976” on it.  I probably over-cleaned it – but the details on it – especially the face – were not great.  Trying to get the right skin tone for Dracula was a challenge – and the lack of detail did not help.  I wanted Dracula to be the highest model on the diorama – like he was sending his evil minions forth.  The rock had a nice place for me to place Dracula’s base as its size and shape were considerations as well (it was not a removable base).

1 Dracula unpainted
Dracula after cleaning – I probably got aggressive trying to remove the old enamel (note the scratches).
2 Dracula mounted for painting
Dracula mounted and ready for airbrush priming and traditional brush painting thereafter.  I did use many of the new GW Contrast Paints on all of these models, but ended up needing other paints and products as well.
3 Dracula painted
Dracula painted and varnished.
4 Dracula mounted
Dracula mounted on the diorama.

The Mummy

The Mummy model was #01-020, another Tom Meier sculpt from the Personalities and Things that Go Bump In The Night line.  It was also from 1976.  This was the easiest to paint and I thought it came out as desired.

1 Mummy unpainted
After cleaning and stripping, there were still remnants of the old paint job, but these were not an issue.
2 Mummy prepped for painting
The Mummy, mounted for painting.
3 Mummy painted
After painting and varnish – looking very old school Egyptian.
4 Mummy mounted
The Mummy mounted on the diorama.

The Were Wolf (crouching model)

The were two werewolf models that I used.  The first werewolf was in a crouch.  This model was “Were Wolf” #01-061, (two words) – yet another Tom Meier sculpt from the Personalities and Things that Go Bump In The Night line.  However this one was from 1979.  I wanted to have this one climbing up the back slope of the rock, giving a little more depth to the piece.

1 Werewolf crouching unpainted
Some of the original paint can still be seen.
2 Werewolf crouching prepped for painting
The Were Wolf mounted for painting.  The detail on this model was still in good shape.
3 Werewolf crouching painted
A close-up shot of the model after I painted and varnished it.
4 Werewolf crouching mounted
The mounted monster climbs the back of the rock.  Here again, I needed to deal with the base.

The Werewolf (standing model)

This is the second of the two werewolf models that I used.  This model is standing (and this one is wearing pants).  It is “Werewolf” #98-003, (one word).  This could have been sculpted by Tom Meier, Julie Guthrie, or Dennis Mize, as the Lost Minis Wiki is not clear on that.  The sculpt is from the The Adventurers line and has 1979 on the base.  I wanted this beast standing in the front of the diorama.

1 Werewolf standing unpainted
The Werewolf cleanup up – I do not think this model was previously painted.
2 Werewolf standing prepped for painting
The Werewolf mounted for painting.  The size of the small base was helpful in mounting to the diorama.
3 Werewolf standing painted
The figure after completion.
4 Werewolf standing mounted
The Werewolf moves forward on the diorama.

Frankenstein’s Monster

Often called “Frankenstein”, this is actually Frankenstein’s Monster (created of course by Dr. Victor Frankenstein.  The model is another one from The Adventurers line and has the designation #98-003.  The detail on this was also fairly good for a model from 1979.

1 Frankenstein's Monster unpainted
The model after I cleaned it as best as I could – some old paint remnants remain.
2 Frankenstein's Monster mounted for painting
The Monster mounted for painting – I did not want to take away any detail here as I thought it was pretty good.
3 Frankenstein's Monster painted
The painted Monster.  I went with heavy eyebrows as before I did the effect of the brow was not what I wanted.  Close up it has a little Groucho Marx look – but at a distance it worked – at least for me.
4 Frankenstein's Monster mounted
Moving to the attack!

The Pumpkin

The pumpkin was a from a Reaper sprue -and had to be part of the contest submission.

Basing the models after painting them required a bit of landscaping.  To fit better on the hobby challenge table, I made a field edge with Citadel “Stirland Battlefield” on the field and “Agrellan Badlands” on the rest of the ground.  I added autumn leaves from 4Ground (now available from Warlord Games here) to the still-wet texture paints and some matte varnish droplets on the rock.  These were placed as how I thought they would naturally collect – as well as to break up the form of the flat mini bases that were mounted on the rock.  Then, I used a handheld hair dryer to dry the terrain (and crack the Agrellan Badlands a bit).    I added some grasses from Shadow’s Edge Miniatures.  These also helped to hide Dracula’s base a bit.

6 Dracula and crouching Werewolf mounted
The Dracula figure and the crouching Were Wolf are mounted on the rock here with Gorilla Glue.  For better adhesion, I scraped away the black primer where I was going to mount the other three figures.  This also allowed me to mount them sequentially.  Doing this made it easier to paint and hide the figures’ bases with the texture paint products.
7 figures mounted, front side
The texture paints are still wet here.  I created the pumpkin patch edge with “Stirland Battlefield”, the rest with “Agrellan Badlands”.  I put a few dots of matte varnish on the low spots on top of the rock for the leaves.  While the paints were still wet, I sprinkled the autumn leaves about as you see here, then used a hair dryer to dry and crack the ground.
8 figures mounted, left side
A right side view of the same as previous.
9 figures mounted, rear side
A rear view of the previous.
10 figures mounted, right side
A left side view of the previous.

Once it all had dried, I removed the piece from the poster tack.

11 finished
Finished piece.

I then drove down to Great Stories to get it entered.  There are a lot of nice pieces there, so we’ll see how it does – and of course most folks who will vote are not used to wee 25mm scale!  It did mesh well with the edge of the pumpkin patch.  At the least, I’ll have a Halloween decoration for many years!

12 on Hobby Challenge table
The Pumpkin Patch is alive with creatures!
12a on Hobby Challenge table
Side view of the previous shot.

Thanks for looking – and I always love getting feedback and any opinions in the comments section, so feel free to post there.

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THESE FIGURES:

On the base:

  1. Gorilla Glue gel
  2. Poster tack
  3. Used DVD
  4. Polystyrene card
  5. Woodland Scenics resin rock
  6. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  7. Citadel “Stirland Battlemire” (texture)
  8. Citadel “Agrellan Badlands” (texture)
  9. 4Ground Loose Copper Foliage
  10. Shadow’s Edge Static Grass Tufts
  11. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

Commonly used on all figures for mounting, priming, and varnishing:

  1. Poster tack
  2. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  3. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  4. Vallejo “Surface Primer – White”
  5. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish”

On the Dracula figure:

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gulliman Flesh”
  2. Citadel “Contrast Medium”
  3. Vallejo “Light Flesh”
  4. Army Painter “Flesh Wash”
  5. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Black Templar”
  6. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Basilicanum Grey”
  7. Vallejo “Black”
  8. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  9. Vallejo Model Air “Base Grey”
  10. Citadel “Astrogranite” (texture)

On The Mummy figure:

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Apothecary White”
  2. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  3. Citadel “Longbeard Grey” (dry)
  4. Vallejo Model Air “Base Grey”

On the Were Wolf figure (crouching):

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gore-Grunta Fur”
  2. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Volupus Pink”
  3. Citadel “Contrast Medium”
  4. Vallejo Mecha Color “SZ Red”
  5. Citadel “Prayeti White” (dry)
  6. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Space Wolves Grey”
  7. Citadel “Skrag Brown”
  8. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Black Templar”
  9. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  10. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Apothecary White”
  11. Vallejo Model Air “Base Grey”
  12. Citadel “Astrogranite” (texture)

On the Werewolf figure (standing)

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gore-Grunta Fur”
  2. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Volupus Pink”
  3. Citadel “Contrast Medium”
  4. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Dark Angels Green”
  5. Vallejo Mecha Color “SZ Red”
  6. Citadel “Prayeti White” (dry)
  7. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Space Wolves Grey”
  8. Citadel “Skrag Brown”
  9. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Black Templar”
  10. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  11. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Apothecary White”
  12. Vallejo Model Air “Base Grey”

On Frankenstein’s Monster figure:

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Plaguebearer Flesh”
  2. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Ork Flesh”
  3. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Basilicanum Grey”
  4. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Militarum Green”
  5. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Wyldwood”
  6. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Dark Angels Green”
  7. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)
  8. Vallejo “Black”

On the pumpkin:

  1. Citadel “Contrast Paint – Gryph-Hound Orange”
  2. Citadel “Astrogranite” (texture)
  3. Citadel “Contrast Paint – “Ork Flesh”
  4. Citadel “Nuln Oil” (shade)

Thanks for looking!

 

 

 

 

Remembrances etc. from my 35th West Point Class of ’84 Reunion

This blog has the subtitle Life, Golf, Miniatures, & Other Distractions.  Mostly it has been focused on hobby stuff- notably miniatures and gaming – and less on the other – and often more important – aspects of Life.  This post will be a bit different for some of you regular readers and I hope that you find it interesting.  As of this writing I am happy to say that this blog has had nearly 25,000 visitors and over 100 followers from dozens of countries.  It’s an enjoyable aspect of my blogging, and I have been able to connect with many like-minded people all over the planet.  Here, I aim to give a limited view into my alma mater and a bit into my own related history.  It’s a personal glimpse to a large extent, and by no means complete, but one I decided to share some thoughts and photos.  Hopefully it’s not overly self-indulgent, but I wanted to write this up.  If you are my classmate, or fellow USMA grad, and reading this, I hope that you get that, and of course GO ARMY!   BEAT NAVY!

Last month I had the privilege of attending my 35th college reunion.

Thirty-five years – wow.

I am a proud member of the United States Military Academy Class of 1984.  Our class motto is “Best of the Corps” – which we chose while just fledgling members of the USMA Corps of Cadets.  That motto certainly did not endear us to the upper classmen from the classes of 1981, 1982, and 1983 at the time.  Some of you may be more familiar with USMA’s more common name – West Point.  We were all commissioned into the US Army in May 1984 as second lieutenants.  Only a handful are still wearing the uniform on active duty.

Regrettably, I had not attended any previous class reunions – something “always came up” with family or work.  Our class of 985 people has now lost 32 brothers and sisters.  Four of the lost are even former roommates of mine, and many more were friends I knew well.  Some of course I only knew from seeing their faces in obituaries.  No matter what, I was never going to see these fallen comrades again, and that really stuck in my craw.  This time, I was determined to attend, honor the fallen, and share some camaraderie with my classmates while it was still possible.  I fervently hope to attend more class events in the future, and hope that we all grow old well.  As for the lost – I also wanted to honor my late classmates by attending the Memorial Service for them.  Below is the program booklet from that service.

1 Page 1 Memorial2 Pages 2-3 Memorial3 Page 4 Memorial

The service was very classy and moving – and those who participated as lectors and speakers (noted above) all did an outstanding job.  I’ll always remember how Craig Bohn sat next to me in the pew and sang “The Corps” and “The Alma Mater” like an angel (really impressive).  On the list of the lost above, many I called friends.  I knew most, and roomed with four – Craig Hogan, Bill Fallon, Troy Overton, and Mike Wooley.  Too soon for all of them, and honoring them was a major motivation for my attendance this year.  God rest their souls.

After the service, which happened on Thursday, we had several activities through the weekend which I will share some shots of as well.

4 Memorial Service F-4
Mark Morin, Bruce Bruno, and Angie Gaston – all company F-4 Frogs – after the Memorial service.

The first reunion event was actually a class golf outing at the West Point Golf Course on Wednesday (the day before the Memorial Service).  I did not want to start with describing it here, as the Memorial Service, in my view, was more important.  I played with Glenn Goldman and Matt Johnson and we had a blast.  I did not play up to my desired level, but hey, we had fun.  I only wish that I had some shots of us playing.  I had not played the course since the early 2000’s – and the hole markers were awesome.  Each described a war/campaign/battle in a lot of detail (especially for a hole marker) and referred to the West Pointers involved.  They covered the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts.  I really liked them and thought I’d share them below.

The Thursday golf was a nice start to the weekend.  Much catching up occurred that night back at the Park Ridge, NJ Marriott – to continue all weekend.  Things started well with a few beers with Tom Eisiminger.  There was certainly a lot of socializing over the weekend – ending up with a class dinner on Friday night, a parade on Saturday, revisiting West Point, and of course an Army football game against Morgan State.  It was great to be among fellow classmates and graduates.

For those who are not USMA grads or classmates, some background.  As a start, I was in company F-4 (company F, 4th Regiment) for my last three years.  I was in C-1 during my plebe (freshman) year.  My yearbook photo was fine – well sort of.  Fellow F-4 Frog Bruce Bruno (from photo above) wrote my blurb underneath.  Only by the time it went to press the girl I was involved with (and had at the time planned to marry) had broken it off!  I also had Aviation branch listed (the wings).  I started after graduation as a helicopter pilot, but decided to leave flight school.  As I had failed a simulator check-ride in instruments, I was told that I’d have no chance to get into Apaches or Blackhawks as a result, only Hueys.  So, I changed branches, became a combat engineer officer, and enjoyed that greatly until I left the Army in 1992.

1 Me back in the day

5 Michie on Friday
At Michie Stadium on Friday after the Memorial Service.  I reported here on July 1st, 1980 and my parents left me in the loving arms of the US Army.  On May 23, 1984, we graduated at on this very field.
16a BOTC Beast squad
My “Beast” (Cadet Basic Training) Squad shot, summer 1980.  We got a ride in a UH-1 Huey which was awesome.  I am in the middle row on the far right.  Standing behind me is Pat Scanlan from Chicago – and we got to catch up a lot at the reunion which was nice.
6 Class Dinner Bruno, Morin, Sgro
Fellow Frogs Bruce Bruno, me, and Jeff Sgro.
7 Class Dinner Ray and Morin
One of the most fun classmates I ever hung out with – Kyle Ray.   Great dude!
8 Parade Cabacungan and Morin
Fellow Frog Gil Cabacungan and me at the parade.
9 Parade Cabacungans (Alec and Gil) and Morin
Gil’s son Alec has raised millions for Shriner’s Hospital for Children – and it was an honor to meet the fine young man.  He has been on TV nationwide for them, and is very inpiring.
10 Parade Line view
The view of The Plain from our place on the parade field.  Third and Fourth Regiments would march by our reviewing position.  The Plain is where we in our class all took our first oath to the Constitution.

You can see multiple pieces of equipment in some of these shots – helicopters, tanks, artillery, and more.  They were there to show the First Class as they decided which branch of the Army they might want to choose to enter after graduation next May.

11 Parade Line view
Third and Fourth Regiments in formation.
12 Parade Line view
A view down our reviewing line.

One of my classmates who has really served the nation well  (and there are many who have) is one hell of an impressive dude.  H.R. McMaster is a retired three-star general, the author of Dereliction of Duty, and formerly President Trump’s National Security Advisor.  We got a chance for a photo together on the Plain after the parade.  Today he’s at Stanford University.

13 HR McMaster and Mark Morin
H.R. McMaster with me…
13a HR McMaster and President Trump
…and H.R. McMaster with his previous boss…

At the parade in the reviewing stand was also the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, USMA Class of 1986.  With him was the current and Superintendent of the United States Military Academy, LTG Darryl A. Williams.   He is a member of the USMA Class of 1983, and was in my company F-4.  He was also a very tough football player.  More importantly, he was smart, decent, a true leader, and funny as hell.  He has had a stellar career.  My first semester Firstie (senior) year (1983),  he was assigned to my platoon as he was a December grad – so I was his last platoon leader – and the late Mike Wooley (from above) was with me as roommate and platoon sergeant.  It is very gratifying to see him as Superintendent developing new leaders for the US Army.  He was swamped with people after the parade, but we F-4 folks snuck in for a photo and that was great!

18b F-4 1984 in 2019
Gil Cabacungan, Bruce Bruno, LTG Darryl Williams, Angie Gaston, and me

 

14 LTG Darryl Williams and Mark Morin
A very impressive soldier and me

After the parade, we hit the old officers club for a pre-game tailgate and to change into more suitable game for an Army football game.  Angie Gaston and I took a stroll along the Plain to our old barracks, checked out the equipment, and watched the helicopters take off.

15 Chinook
CH-47
16 Scout, Apache, Blackhawk
Apache’s and Blackhawks – still serving!
17 Helicopters departing and equipment in front of barracks
You can see the aircraft moving away over the barracks and the other equipment on display.

17a Helicopters departingAngie Gaston and I then made a visit to our old home – that being the 43rd, 44th, and 45th Divisions – our old barracks, Scott Barracks, which dates from 1938.  The Divisions are very different from the other barracks.  Think of them as stacked milk cartons  put side-by-side with no connections horizontally (except occasionally on the first floors).  Divisions are thus arranged vertically – with four cadet rooms and a restroom per stacked floor (with 5 or 6 floors per Division) – if fading memory serves.  Again, as opposed to long dormitory hallways there are no horizontal connections between the Divisions.  It was a fun environment, though if you were on the top floor you got a workout going back and forth to class.  A current G-4 cadet was nice enough to take our pictures – and now this is part of G-4 as F-4’s current barracks is located elsewhere.

18 Angie and me in front of 43rd Division
Angie Gaston and I on the 43rd Division landing…
18a F-4 1984
…and our F-4 class 35 years ago.  GO FROGS!  I’m on the the top row second from the left.  Angie Gaston, Bruce Bruno, Gil Cabacungan, and even Darryl Williams are in this shot.  Jim Kelly and Larry Carroll attended the reunion but I did not get pictures of them for this post.  Of note, the late Bill Fallon and Mike Wooley can be seen here too.

19 Angie Gaston and me in front of 43rd Division

20 Morin and M1A2
Those who follow this blog know I love tanks – so here’s a shot of me and an M1A2 in 2019…
20a Morin and M1
…and one of me and an M1 in 1981 in Fort Knox, KY.  I’m happy I went Engineer, but part of me always wishes I’d gone Armor (and that I weighed the same now as here).
21 Artillery
Artillery and movers
21a Artillery
Self-propelled howitzer (155mm)

Then on the way to Michie Stadium, we got some shots of LTG Williams current home!

22 Supe's house

23 Supe's house
Angie Gaston on the front porch avoiding detection.
24 Supe's house
She wanted this shot for our friend Darryl!

The game was a blast – and it was a very warm and sunny day.  Hung out with Pat Scanlan and Kyle Ray – and even got some Steve Kreipe and Shamus Hanlon time in!

25 At the game
And on to Michie Stadium for the game!
26 Army's got this!
Army defeats Morgan State 52-21!

It was a great weekend, and one that I will cherish the memories of for a long time.  We are all getting older and a 35-year gap is frankly way too long between catching up.  That’s on me – I will do better.

Classmates Jack Picciuto and Curt Cozart did an outstanding job in organizing the reunion – and great thanks to them.   Also, a shout out to Steve Epling, Randy Lee, and Meg Gordon who keep us all connected on the world wide web.  Lastly, I want to thank all of my fellow classmates who I got to catch up with and who thankfully retained a memory (mostly good) of me.  I definitely was thrilled to relive memories with you.

As always, I appreciate any feedback you may have in the comments section – thanks for looking!

Until we meet again, GO ARMY!  BEAT NAVY!

 

Normandy Breakout Game at Mass Pikemen

Last Saturday (August 24th) we had a very action-packed game of What a Tanker© using my Normandy Breakout scenario at the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.  I have been tweaking the scenario, some rules, and improving the terrain and markers – and I believe the gamers who played really noticed all of the upgrades and changes.  I have been fortunate to get valuable feedback from the gamers which has been invaluable, and this game was no exception.  I have acted as a Game Master for this game a couple of times (discussed here), and this, the third iteration, was another great game that had the players highly engaged.

For this post, I will show some of the photos that tell the story – though simultaneously being a photographer and a GM are not always easy.  I appreciate the generosity of both Chris Rett and Ted Salonich helping with some photos – as well as playing of course!

The game scenario is:

After a successful D-Day landing and consolidation, the tanks of the Americans and the British are stymied in the hedgerows of Normandy. German armor has set up effective defensive positions in favorable terrain. However, the Allies do not know the exact locations of the German tanks, and the Germans have limited knowledge of where the Allied armor will be coming from and the direction to which they will try to break out. New rules that allow reconnaissance and the effects of other combat forces will challenge both sides in this action-packed game.

The Germans are in secret positions (basically ambush positions) that they choose in advance of the Allies arrival – which is also secret in terms of the exact vehicles that the Allies choose.  Both sides get to secretly select their vehicles (with some restrictions), and poker chips are used for the scoring.  The Germans here did stop the Allies from breaking out – though the Allies were able to gain more points by both effectively recon of enough blind positions and knocking out enough valuable German vehicles.  The final score was 117-109 in favor of the Allies – with the game score turning on the Allies knocking out a Jagdpanther on the last turn.  The casualties were:

  • Allies – 5 vehicles:
    • UK – 3 vehicles:
      • 2 Daimler Dingoes
      • 1 Firefly
      • 1 M10 Achilles
    • US – 2 vehicles:
      • 1 M3A1 Stuart
      • 1 M10 Wolverine
  • Germany – 3 vehicles:
    • 1 Sdkfz 233
    • 1 Panther D
    • 1 Jagdpanther

Let’s see what the day looked like!

4 map at session
The Allies moved on from here.  The British had the far left road, and the Americans had the far right road.  The middle road could be used by both Allies.  The wooden discs are possible German positions to be reconned.
5 map at session
A side view of the tabletop that better shows some of the (blind) possible German positions.
6 map at session
The view from the German side of the board that the Allies needed to cross.
1 Me as GM
Your properly attired GM.  (Photo by Chris Rett)

The Germans effectively used a Bonus Attack card to draw first blood – calling in a rare Luftwaffe attack on a Daimler Dingo.

7 Dingo hit by Luftwaffe
The Daimler Dingo hit by the Luftwaffe – my new blast/knocked out tank markers looked pretty amazing (and I am biased of course).
4 Jagdpanther hunts Stuart
A Jagdpanther prepares to engage an M3A1 Stuart from an excellent ambush position.  The Stuart decided to run around the corner and recon the disc on the left…(Photo by Chris Rett)
5 Surprise!
… and the Stuart “successfully” reconned the position – it went around the bocage to find the Elefant in the room. (Photo by Ted Salonich)
5a Surrprise
The Stuart fired its 37mm at the frontal armor of the Elefant.  No effect.  The Elefant returned fire, and blew away the Stuart.
9 Firefly knocked out by StuG G
A Panther D and a StuG G combine forces to knock out a Firefly near the burning Dingo.
10 Panther D knocked out by Achilles
An M10 Achilles fires at and knocks the Panther D into a ruined building, damaging it.  It gets a second shot, and rolls well enough to torch the Panther.
11 M18 Hellcat moves up to help British
The Americans move up an M18 Hellcat to help the Brits – it ended up moving behind the Jagdpanther and was able to destroy it.
8 Gamers
The gamers ponder their moves.
13 Last shot
The Allies called in a lot of artillery-delivered smoke to protect their vehicles.  It was effective.
6 Panther burns and Tiger I arrives
Here comes the Tiger!  Note the StuG G that ambushed the M10 Wolverine.  The crew of the M10 survived – as denoted by the black smoke versus the fiery smoke.  Also shows the Allied smoke screen in front of the Jagdpanther.

As the German vehicles are worth, in general, much more points, the loss of their expensive vehicles made a big difference.  Both sides played well, but I have to say the Germans were not very lucky with their dice at times.  

I will be tweaking the game scenario in a couple of ways:

  • Adding stopping bonuses for the Germans:
    • A 20-point bonus for the Germans if no Allied vehicles are able to breakout across the tabletop.
    • A 10-point bonus for the Germans if only one Allied vehicle is able to breakout across the tabletop.  If 2 or more cross, no German bonus.
    • Award the Germans 2 points for each unreconned point.  This will incentivize recon, but force the Allies to choose what is most important.  (The Allies already get 2 points for each reconned point.)
  • Allow a “banked 6” to be used for either an advantage on the next activation (per the rules) or as an automatic “6” on the next activation roll (determined by the player on the turn he banks it). Thanks Ted Salonich!

Thanks again to the all of the players.  And for those who follow this blog who wondered if their named vehicle got fried, only one Cromwell (“IRO”) deployed and did not get into action.  However, the M10 Achilles “Per” (named for Per from Roll a One) did get knocked out by one of the StuG G’s.   Sorry my Swedish friend!

Hope that you enjoyed this – and I will be running this game on Saturday at BARRAGE in Maryland (September 28th) and at the Fort Devens Game Day on October 19th.  I may also run it at other upcoming gaming cons if possible.  Thanks for looking!

 

 

British Armor and Some Blogs Worth a Look

During the Allied breakout from Normandy in 1944, the British Army used several different tanks and tank destroyers.  Some were American-made, some were British-made, and some were conversions of American vehicles.  For my What a Tanker© Normandy Breakout Scenario, I had plenty of British Shermans, a couple of Fireflies, and a few Daimler Dingoes, but the available British vehicle menu needed some fleshing out.  Clearly missing were the Cromwell Mark IV cruiser tank, the Churchill Mark IV heavy infantry tank, and the M10 Achilles tank destroyer.  This project aimed to rectify that situation, especially as I plan to run the game at a few upcoming conventions (such as at BARRAGE and at the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.

While looking at some images of these vehicles in my reference books, I came up with a new idea to incorporate into the project.  First – a brief segue.

I started this blog back in 2015, inspired by my friend Buck Surdu’s blog.  I was getting back into the hobby – and thought I’d share what I was learning about the gaming I was doing, the miniatures that I was working on, some history, and whatever I found interesting.  Since then, I have posted 143 times (this post is #144), have 139 followers (thanks to all and I am always happy for more so feel free to follow if you don’t already!).  I also learned of many others’ blogs and now I follow many of these.  Several  originate in the United Kingdom, Australia, and other Commonwealth nations.  They inspire and entertain me, and perhaps they will do that for you as well.  So, let’s get back to the idea I just mentioned.  Perhaps I could work in a few of those bloggers into these vehicles and have them be represented in a small way in this project and the future games I run.  More on that shortly…

Now, a few qualifying points.  Each of the vehicles you will see below has a link to a blog – BUT, these are not the only ones that I follow and my goal was not to leave anyone out.  However, I chose to include the following as ones that are among my faves, AND who have a connection to a place where, well, the Queen is on the currency (with two notable exceptions that I’m sure you’ll allow me).  Also, I wanted to use Battlefront decals to both make the tanks both easier to identify on the tabletop (these are small 15mm scale tanks) and have some connections to the bloggers.  Ease of identification on the tabletop is important, as most players have little knowledge of the history of the tanks.  Of course, there are experts somewhere who can correct me – and that’s not an issue.

Truly, I wanted to be as authentic as I could, but as I tried to research British tank markings, frankly, I got more confused!  The issue is not improved by any information about the decals from Battlefront.  US tank markings are pretty straightforward comparatively (IMO).  With 6 Cromwells here, I needed some variety!  You will see I used a number of decals from varying Commonwealth nations – and different theaters – incorrectly – and on purpose!  In addition to the decals, I varied spare road wheel and toolbox placements, as well as adding some freehand names to the tanks.  My freehand work is OK for the scale here I think – you can be the judge – I had to use a spotter brush and still make them look like a crew added the names.  Again, the decals I used below are not as historically accurate as possible, and that’s fine with me – they do accomplish the playability and blogger-linking goals I described.

So onto the project – I had 9 vehicles:

The Achilles had some casting defects that I remedied with green stuff.  I also gave them some leftover plastic .50 caliber machine guns as the ones they had were too bendy.  The plastic Cromwell’s got some BB’s in the hulls to add weight.  I tried to make the tanks a lighter green so as to match the other ETO British Shermans I already had.  I also added some radio antennae.

Now, in alphabetical order by name – and all linked blogs are worth checking out:

Alex

Alex’s blog can be found at Leadbaloony   He does a great job with terrain and older GW Space Orks (I believe from the late 1980’s to early 1990’s) that are painted unbelievably well.  I named a Cromwell Mark IV for him – it has a number 4 and solid white decals on the turret.  The red and white unit decal is (I believe) an older one from the 21st Tank Brigade, which I chose because Alex is a British veteran.

1 Alex done3 Alex front side on road2 Alex left side on road

AZAZEL

Azazel’s blog can be found at Azazel’s Bitz Box.  He is a fantastic painter and modeler and his interests run the gamut from terrain to 40K to Flames of War to board game minis and more.  He still finds time to run a monthly community painting challenge.  This July’s was “The Jewel of July ’19 Community Painting Challenge”, which included:

It’s for Vehicles. A Motorcycle or a Maus. A Starship or a Gaslands Car. A Panzer IV to a Kettenkrad. A Rhino APC or a Konigstiger or a War Rig or a M’ak I. (or M’ak II?)

This post is my second one for July’s challenge (here is my first).  The challenges are a always LOT of fun to see and he is a great guy for doing it month after month.  The Cromwell named for Azazel below has an open white square on the turret and a number 81.  As Azazel is an Aussie, I gave the tank an ahistorical 9th Division (Australia) decal with a lovely platypus on it.  The Aussies during the Normandy campaign were of course busy back in the Pacific theater fighting the Japanese, having already done their time fighting the Germans in North Africa.  I am sure that this Cromwell will acquit itself well.

1 Azazel2 Azazel front in field3 Azazel left side in field

IRO aka Imperial Rebel Ork

Moving on to yet another Aussie, IRO, his blog is Imperial Rebel Ork .  He is the master of kit bashing GW stuff into marvelous creations all his own.  He creates new worlds of wonder is all I can say – and I recommend you take a gander.  He also has a fine podcast he does with his buddy Warren (Waz), and its very funny and worth listening to (and not just because I made a promo on episode 14).  They do indeed need a lesson on American accents that originate outside of the Deep South!

His imagination is wonderful, and you never know what he will come up with next.  His Cromwell has a few markings that need explanation.  The turret has a couple of 3rd Infantry Division (UK)  triangle markings that I chose because I liked the look for the tabletop.  There is a number 75 on the tank, and the unit marker is a later 21st Tank Brigade one (I think).  I chose it because it had a devil/imp on it, and IRO is definitely that!

1 IRO2 IRO Cromwell front3 IRO Cromwell right side4 IRO Cromwell left side

John aka JNV aka Just Needs Varnish!

I find John’s blog Just Needs Varnish! very interesting and informative, PLUS the guy really know how to paint and create games.  His stuff ranges from WWII to lesser-known conflicts like the Paraguayan War and the War of Italian Unification.  He does his research, and I really like his attention to detail.  We are alike in that way I think.  Most importantly, John loves tanks too!

While John is a Brit, the tank with his JNV on it has turret markings for the 1st South African Infantry Division. As with IRO’s tank, these are of course not correct, but will visually helpful on the gaming table.  The tank has a 96 number on it, and a British 2nd Armoured Brigade insignia from North Africa on the hull front.

1 JNV2 JNV front3 JNV front in bocage4 JNV left side

Pat’s 1:72 Military Diorama’s

Pat is a military modeler and not a gamer.  He has a lovely blog Pat’s 1:72 Military Diorama’s that details his work from the medieval era to the English Civil War to WWII.  His projects could be considered epic just from their size and scope, but the man does very high quality work too.  As I call it, great eye-candy – check him out!

Pat is also an Aussie.  His Cromwell has open white triangles on the turrets, and a number 15 on it.  It also has the same Aussie 9th Division platypus marking as Azazel’s tank.  

1 Pat2 Pat Cromwell left side3 Pat Cromwell front side

Per at Roll a One

Here is my first exception to the rule of having links to blogs of subjects of Queen Elizabeth – Per.  Per is Swedish, and I believe lives in the UK, so we’ll include him here.  His gaming blog is Roll a One which I follow on WordPress and on Twitter (though mine is also linked on Twitter I have little idea of what to do with mine on Twitter!).  Per creates truly massive games, most of which deal with Sweden in some way or another.  He has done WWII era what-if games with Swedish tanks, some unbelievable stuff for the Great Northern War in 6 mm, and lately some post-apocalyptic stuff that I really like.  Similar to Alex, he creates very immersive games.

Now I have no Swedish tanks like the Stridsvagn m/42 (but Per does) – and I wanted to include him as I like his stuff.  I’m also 1/8th Swedish, so I had a soft spot!  Per, I named an M10 Achilles for you – but with no decals.  Mainly this was because I could not find much in terms of references on such unit designations – and secondly because the model hull was not great for decals.  It did get (like all my British here) a star to keep them safe from the RAF and USAAF misidentifying them.  I did not buy a crew for this one.

1 Per2 Per left side Achilles

Pete at SP’s Projects Blog

Pete is another Brit with a fantastic hobby blog.  His is SP’s Projects Blog, and is quite good and has a number of interesting projects from terrain to vehicles to infantry.  I like Pete’s blog because he does a great job on his hobby work, and has a number of very interesting modern pieces.  He is also well versed in history, and writes some of the best battle reports on his Necromunda games.

Pete’s Cromwell has turret markings with an open red circle.  This is the only one I made that is resin and metal – the other 5 Cromwell’s were plastic.  It has a number 91 on it, and an insignia from the famous 7th Armoured Division – who was in Normandy!

1 Pete2 Pete left side3 Pete front side

Tabitha

Now for a real exception – Tabitha is my granddaughter and only a bit older than 2½.  She’s not a Brit or an Aussie, but she does light up our lives.  I’m still waiting on her blog though…

Similar to Per, she gets an M10 Achilles named for her.  As she has Finnish heritage (through me and my daughter Ellen of course), in her stead I will recommend a full Finn –  Mikko – and his blog here.  Mikko’s blog is the wonderfully named Dawn of the Lead.   Mikko is into pirates and zombies (and maybe pirate zombies).  His painting is superb, check his stuff out.

Now back to Tabitha and her named Achilles.  Also – I did not buy a crew for this one either!

Me and Tabitha1 Tabitha2 Tabitha front Achilles3 Tabitha left side Achilles

TIM aka The Imperfect Modeler

Now last, but most definitely not least, may I present the last tank and blogger for this post!  TIM aka The Imperfect Modeler (neither are his real names – he is actually Dave).  His blog can be found here.  It might be a shorter list to share with you what he is not into in terms of modeling.  His dioramas and figures are 28mm to 54mm, and span the American West, WWII, fantasy, and much more.  They are amazing, and you are missing out if you have not seen his stuff.

Dave also has a skill with writing and his blog postings are also very amusing.  We are relatively close in age, and I appreciate especially his discussions on movies and music.  His painting is top-notch, and his dioramas are stunning.  It’s a shame he is not a gamer though, his tabletops would be mind-blowing.

As Dave is a Brit, and a real man worthy of respect (just ask his wife), he gets the Churchill IV heavy infantry tank named after him.  It has turret markings of open red squares, and a number 71 (which was a good year for him I understand).  I chose the battleaxe symbol of the 78th Infantry Division for his tank (also not in Normandy, but worthy of Dave).

1 TIM2 TIM Churchill front3 TIM Churchill left side4 TIM Churchill left side in field5 TIM Churchill right side6 TIM Churchill rear view7 TIM Churchill top view

That wraps up the individual nods – please check them out!  I’ll conclude with a group shot, my new British tank menu for What a Tanker© and the paints and materials I used.  I hope you enjoyed this post, please let me know your thoughts, and I hope you found a new blog to enjoy!  Up next, more Americans!

5 group side

British Tanker Menu

PAINTS, INKS, GLAZES, SHADES, WASHES, PIGMENTS, FLOCKING, GLUES AND MORE USED ON THESE VEHICLES:

  1. Gorilla Glue
  2. Daisy Air rifle steel BB’s
  3. Neodymium magnets (1/8″)
  4. E6000 epoxy
  5. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Black”
  6. Spare Battlefront plastic .50 cal machine guns
  7. Reaper MSP “Black Primer”
  8. Vallejo “Flow Improver”
  9. Vallejo “Airbrush Thinner”
  10. Vallejo Model Air “Olive Green”
  11. Vallejo “White”
  12. Vallejo Game Air “Black”
  13. Battlefront “Dark Gunmetal”
  14. Vallejo Model Air “Aluminum”
  15. Vallejo Model Air “Wood”
  16. Citadel “Typhus Corrosion”
  17. Citadel “‘ardcoat”
  18. Battlefront “Monty Shade” (wash)
  19. Army Painter “Military Shader” (wash)
  20. Vallejo “Surface Primer – Grey Primer”
  21. Vallejo “Gloss Varnish”
  22. Testors “Universal Acrylic Thinner”
  23. Decals from Battlefront
  24. Microscale Micro-Set
  25. Microscale Micro-Sol
  26. Microscale Liquid Decal Film
  27. Vallejo “European Mud” (Thick Mud)
  28. Vallejo “European Slash Mud” (Splash Mud)
  29. Vallejo “Crushed Grass” (weathering)
  30. Vallejo Mecha Varnish “Matt Varnish

 

 

 

I just wanted to do this!

For those of you who are modelers and or gamers, you know the feelings about your hobby work –  to do a good job recreating a scene, a vehicle, terrain, or just a figure such that others enjoy it.  I put this blog in the same category.  I understand that for better or for worse, I am putting myself out there and my creativity to be judged up or down.

This blog post will be a bit different in that its admittedly somewhat self-indulgent.  I am unsure as to how it will be received – but I hope that you enjoy it and that you can appreciate what this was for me and why I was doing this last weekend.

Last Saturday, the Historical Gaming Club of Uxbridge, MA, sponsored a road trip to the American Heritage Museum in Hudson, MA.  I have posted about this museum last year (you can read about it here).  It’s really great.  I unfortunately also signed up for a golf tournament an hour away and was disappointed in my planning.  I was however able to leave the tournament (my team lost by one stroke) after I was done and drive to meet the others (about 10 of us) at the museum.  And I brought two “friends”…

Followers of this blog know that I have been somewhat tank-heavy in hobby activities and gaming since last fall.  I thought that it would be cool to have the real Panther at the museum meet my 15mm/1:100 scale Panther.  And as my late grandfather Marcus C. Delaney drove an M24 Chaffee light tank in WWII, I wanted to hook up one of my M24’s with a real one too.

I just thought it would be a cool thing to do – and to give my models a connection to the real deal.  Of course, you can be the judge.

First stop was the Panther.

1 Big Panther, Little Panther
A real Panther and my  model – can you see it?
2 Big Panther, Little Panther close up
There it is!
3a on left fender
Impishly placing my Panther on the right fender.
3 on left fender
Both Panthers are now aiming at a T-34…but I don’t think mine has the needed gun velocity!

Then I moved over to the M24 Chaffee.

4 On M24 Chaffee side
Where is my model?
5 On M24 Chaffee side close up
There it is!
6 On M24 Chaffee side close up
On the M24 frontal armor.
7 me and both M24 Chaffee's
Trust me, we are all smiling.  Even my grandfather from above.

It felt good to do this, and I’m glad I did.  Now when these are in a game, I can say that they have been with the real thing, and in actual contact.

Would you do this?  Let me know in the comments section, and thanks for looking!

My HUZZAH! 2019 Recap

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).

1 The Enchanted Valley

2 The Enchanted Valley
Eric and Vickie await the start of the game
3 The Enchanted Valley
My squad – these are Grenadier halflings from the boxed set Halflings – which was issued in 1980 by Grenadier.  You can read about them here.
4 The Enchanted Valley
My squad stats.
5 The Enchanted Valley
Nice view of the board and some of the players, including Bruce Carson on the left and another H.A.W.K. Duncan Adams on the right.
6 The Enchanted Valley
The frogs I battled.
7 The Enchanted Valley
My hobbit leader dispatched a goblin leader and a few giant ticks.

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.

8 40k

One of the two tables  – not the one I played on.

9 40k
Table 1
10 40k
Table 1
11 40k
Table 2 – we were defending this side.
12 40k
We came, we were confused about the rules, the scenario…then plague marines wiped us out.

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:

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.

13 Feudal Patrol
Game set up.
14 Feudal Patrol
Maryland militia move in for the assault.
15 Feudal Patrol
Duncan Adams ably ran this fun game.
16 Feudal Patrol
Virginia had Indian allies – shown here attempting to flank our attack through the woods.  
17 Feudal Patrol
A relief column of Virginians (upper right) kills one Marylander (forefront).  The Virginians are then taken quickly under matchlock fire as they exit the woods.
18 Feudal Patrol
Marylanders take out the Virginian leader as he less than bravely hid in the brush.
19 Feudal Patrol
This became a bit of a scrum afterwards, with casualties mounting and the Marylanders prevailing.
20 Feudal Patrol
Close up of some of the figures and terrain.
21 Feudal Patrol
The Indians made a flanking charge from the woods, but were beaten back.

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.

22 WaT Battle of Hannut
The Battle of Hannut set up.
23 WaT Battle of Hannut
My SOMUA attracts a lot of German attention (upper right).
24 WaT Battle of Hannut
Eventually, my SOMUA was knocked out.
25 WaT Battle of Hannut
Late in the game, I got to ram a Panzerjager I with my second SOMUA, doing minor damage to the German.  Christopher Boynton used the flame markers as “ACQUIRED” markers.

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.

26 Test of Honor
Ryan (standing on the left) getting set up, while Mike Paine and his team wait for the game to start on Mike’s table.
27 Test of Honor
Mike Paine’s board is so much fun.
28 Test of Honor
Final scrum on the island – we were soon pushed back.

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!

29 Hanghai
My crew and gunboat.
30 Hanghai
Eric Schlegel’s forces return fire on me.
31 Hanghai
Mike Paine – master of Hanghai game.
32 Hanghai
The game attracted a lot of players, young and old.  The amount of terrain is unbelievable.
33 Hanghai
View of the harbor.
34 Hanghai
My gunboat and Captain Nemo – before Eric shot them all.

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!