My Barrage 2019 Recap

The wonderful Barrage wargaming convention was held back on September 27-28 in Havre de Grace, Maryland.  It is run by the Harford Area Weekly Kriegspielers (HAWKS), and I have attended the last few years and run a few games there as well as a GM.  This year marked the 25th Anniversary of the convention.

The trip was enjoyable – and even though it’s been over a month since the event – I wanted to share some of the pics and details of the event from my perspective.  It’s not an all-encompassing review – but hopefully it will give you a flavor of the event and some nice views of some worthwhile and visually interesting tabletop games.

29 My badges

1 Old Grads
Three only slightly aging West Pointers – Dave Wood (’84), me (’84), and Buck Surdu (’85).  Dave and Buck are in the HAWKS and going to the convention doubles as a mini-reunion for us.  Plus I get to see how much better in shape they are than I am.

I drove down from Massachusetts and arrived Thursday night (the night before the convention) to help the HAWKS set up.  As a bonus, we got to play a few turns of Eric Schlegel’s Antietam: The Cornfield game using the A Union So Tested rules set.  It was a fun start.

The convention started in earnest on Friday – and I got a chance to check out some amazing tabletops.  Bill Molyneaux had a brilliant Boxer Rebellion game that had incredible terrain.  I did not get to play this game, but would have loved to try it.

I walked around Friday’s game and took some pics of a few games I loved seeing (but did not get to play) before I got into playing a Feudal Patrol™ game.  Here you can see a Napoleonic game (run by Dave Wood), a Gundam game, and a really neat G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T.  Sherlock Holmes themed game (run by Sam Fuson).   There was a Flames of War Tournament.  I have not played that game despite having (as regular readers know) a TON of FoW models.  The games looked a bit crowded figure-wise – and maybe that’s normal for that game.  Note the US TIE fighter (the gamer said he did not have a proper US plane so he painted this model)…not sure about that particular add personally.

I really wanted to try another game of Feudal Patrol™.  I had played one at HUZZAH! run by Duncan Adams earlier this year.  Feudal Patrol™ is a novel skirmish game (yet unpublished) and is similar to Combat Patrol™ – except it is for pike and shot periods and earlier.  I am hoping to write an Aztec supplement for it for Buck.

Chris Palmer ran a War of the Roses scenario involving securing an abandoned supply train of three wagons.   It was just the two of us, but as Buck came available, he joined in on Chris’ side.  I started off well, but in due course I got my ass handed to me by Buck and Chris!  Still, I was glad to try it and I feel confident that this will be another great system by Buck.

16 Feudal Patrol
Not the greatest sign up!  Too bad as it was fun.

17 Feudal Patrol

18 Feudal Patrol
My forces, with the enemy Yorkists across the table.  The abandoned wagon train (the objective) is in the center.
19 Feudal Patrol
The Lancastrians.
20 Feudal Patrol
Wagon train objective.
20a Feudal Patrol
Buck confers with Chris (off-camera) as the two forces cavalry converge.
20b Feudal Patrol
Chris moves his Yorkists up and takes two wagons.
20c Feudal Patrol
I moved a leader on top of the remaining wagon to seize it.  Unfortunately, the Yorkist crossbowmen ended that effort by turning him into a pin cushion, and pinning his subordinates in the process.

20d Feudal Patrol

After this game, I walked around and took some more shots of some cool tables.  There was a 54mm scale ACW game, and a 54mm medieval mayhem game.  Greg Priebe had a Poland 1940 Combat Patrol™  game for replete with an armored train.  Lastly, there was an Aliens-inspired scratch built table that was impressive.  These shots are below.

28 ACW2
Another ACW game, in larger scale.

The last game that I played on Friday was with Dave Wood and another player.  It recreated the scenario made famous by the events portrayed in the movie Black Hawk Down.  The rules were Force on Force, which had an interesting set of mechanics, but very complicated for a short game.  We actually ran the game twice, with Dave and I as the Americans.  All agreed that the scenario was impossible to win for the US.  Still, the GM Carl Olsen made the experience enjoyable.

26aa Blackhawk down

26 Blackhawk down
The tabletop for the scenario.
27 Blackhawk down
Even with air support, the mission was too difficult for the US.

That finished off Friday.  Saturday presented an opportunity to play the massive Combat Patrol™ Star Wars Battle of Hoth scenario (from The Empire Strikes Back) of the Battle of Hoth that Buck and Greg Priebe ran at Historicon.  It was pure eye-candy (as you’ll see below), and a blast to play.  We had a full table of 10-12 players.  The Combat Patrol™ Star Wars supplement was used – and was easily picked up by the players who were new.  Buck and Greg did an outstanding job of running this massive game.

I played with several other players on the Imperial side with the goal of destroying the Millennium Falcon before it could fly out of the cave it was hiding in with the other rebel ships.  We succeeded in eventually knocking out the shield generator with an AT-AT.  Subsequently the Millennium Falcon was destroyed when our forces could get a clear shot.  A strategic victory was had for the Empire!

32 Buck Surdu and Greg Priebe Battle of Hoth
Scenario designers and GM’s Buck Surdu and Greg Priebe
30 Battle of Hoth
A view from the attacking Imperial forces side – the rebels and their spacecraft were in the cave on the far side.  The shield generator is on the far right.  The rebel trenches and positions were beautiful.  All the models were so fun.
31 Battle of Hoth
Imperial set up before the game.
32 Battle of Hoth
Rebel spaceships getting positioned in cave.  The Millennium Falcon was not yet set up on the top corner.
33 Battle of Hoth Speeders
Imperial speeders storm anti-vehicle weapons positions.
34 Battle of Hoth Inf carriers
A bloody affair.
35 Battle of Hoth
The advance continues.
36 Battle of Hoth
A very unique set of walker positions.
37 Battle of Hoth Shield Generator blows
Bye bye shield generator!

After the victory, I had some time before I needed to set up and run my Normandy Breakout scenario for What a Tanker© that I have previously run a few times.  I took a few more shots of some interesting games.  One of these was a Dungeon Crawl run by a gentleman (sorry as I forgot his name) who makes his own miniatures out of small bits of wood and paints them really well – check them out below.

After this, it was on to setting up and running my Normandy Breakout game.  I have really gotten this game to be a great gaming experience – based on both my opinion and consistent feedback from the players.  This time, I had between 9 and 11 different players as some came and went.

The Germans made some very good decisions on terrain use and vehicle selection.  The Allies did not choose enough reconnaissance vehicles, and were less effective using terrain as a whole.  The Allies did not do a good job at crossing the table – with only a M10 Wolverine (by Dave Wood) and an M5 Stuart (by Buck Surdu) crossing the board.  To be fair, the dice abandoned the Allies at a few critical junctures.

The Germans chose expensive vehicles, such as the Panther D (Greg Priebe), Jadgpanther (Andrew) and Tiger II (run by a woman known as April or “Queen Tiger” in the game), but used them effectively to stop the Allies.   This put them in a points disadvantage, that they made up with their kills.  Don Hogge’s used his SdKfz 233 very well to delay and harass the Allies.  The Germans lost no vehicles, and the Allies lost a total of 5: a Dingo scout car, an M3A1 Stuart, an M10 Wolverine, and two 17-pounder Achilles.  The Allies vehicle choices hurt them (not enough tanks and reconnaissance versus tank destroyers). This had not happened in previous runs, and is a testament to the German players having a good plan.  The final score was 160-123 in favor of the Germans.  I will continue to run this game – it has never been the same twice.

00 Chris Palmer pic of my game
I GM the mid game action (photo by Chris Palmer)
41 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
Players on the Allied side get ready to play.
42 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
Here the Americans smashed an M3A1 Stuart through a hedgerow – where it discovered a Panther D.  It took the flank shot and managed to do some temporary and permanent damage.
43 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
The Panther then turned and knocked the Stuart out – the black smoke indicates that the crew lived and bailed out, but the tank was destroyed.
44 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
With a burning Dingo behind him, a Jagdpanther confronts the Achilles “Tabitha” (named after my granddaughter).  German artillery-delivered smoke dissipates in the top of this photo.
46 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
The poor Achilles “Tabitha” is no match for the Jagdpanther, and is brewed up on the next activation.
45 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
An American M10 Wolverine gets a rear shot on the Greg Priebe’s damaged Panther, but not enough damage is inflicted… 
47 Normandy Breakout What a Tanker
…and on the next activation, the Panther turned and knocked out the Wolverine.

After picking up, the last game I played in was a Roman Circus Chariot game with rules by DeWitt.  My chariot flipped and I lost – but it was fun!

And the flea market was outstanding!

Thanks to the HAWKS for a great weekend!

And thanks to you, dear reader, for looking – feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!