My HAVOC 2019 Recap

Battle Group Boston’s HAVOC 2019 (or HAVOC XXXV) is in the books.  This previous weekend in Shrewsbury, MA was a Friday-Sunday gaming marathon that saw me run two games (What a Tanker” in North Africa and “Attack of the Warbots” using Combat Patrol™).  I also played in three other games: a First Boer War scenario using Combat Patrol™; “Look Sarge we are Invading Russia” using Look Sarge, No Charts™and another “What a Tanker” game on Sunday.  I have not been blogging much recently as my prep for the event took a lot of time.  So, this post will share some shots of the events, with more focus on the games that either I ran as a GM or participated in as a player. 

Of note, it was very nice to have my West Point classmate and good friend Dave Wood from the Maryland HAWKS make it up to play in my games and run two of his own.   It was also great to see attendance and gaming from the Mass Pikemen, especially Mike Morgan, Leif Magnuson, Chris Comeau, and others.

On Friday, I ran “What a Tanker – North Africa” and had a full table.  I was able to roll out my new Bonus Attack cards that I created for the convention.  They were very popular in the game and I will be expanding my use of them in the future based on the scenarios I run and the historical aspects of the specific theaters and scenarios/battles.  I will adjust their use, and how I allow tank replacements going forward.  Still, the game went very well, and I earned an award for the “Best in Time Slot”!  The Axis battled back from early losses and defeated the British 104-58.

04062019 HAVOC What a Tanker North Africa Photo
My game announcement poster
Bonus Attack Cards
My “Bonus Attack” cards for the game.  They worked well, especially the Combat Engineers.
Overview
I mapped out the game board in my cellar beforehand.  I got a new 8′ x 4′ badlands/desert mat that worked very well for the scenario from Frontline Gaming.
Buildings with roads
Detail of the town I put in the middle of the battlefield
1 WaT starts
Friday night’s full crowd at What a Tanker – North Africa using 15mm tanks.
2 M11 39 burns after airstrike
The first use of one of my Bonus Attack cards – in this case an airstrike card on a hapless M11/39.
3 Panzer III rams A13
What a Tanker  – or in this case “What a Rammer” as a Panzer IIIE runs into an A13.  The Panzer IIIE got the worst of it from the Brit, but the A13 was subsequently knocked out by an Italian M13/40.
4 players
The game had a lot of action, but in the end the Axis prevailed.
5 Award
I was happy to earn this award, but the players’ enthusiasm carried the day.

Saturday, I played in two games, and ran a third.  The first one Saturday morning was “First Battle of the First Boer War” using the Combat Patrol™ rules system as modified for this era.  It was a fun game, with the Boers holding off the British as they attempted to seize a wagon.  In the end, the Boers prevailed.

1 Dave Wood first Boer War
Dave Wood briefs the players on the Boer War scenario.
2 Brits attack First Boer War
Boers are outnumbered, but hold the wall – each glass bead represents a morale check.  They held for a long time.

There were many other games – over 56 I believe, and I did not get a chance to take a picture of all of them, but here are some shots below.

3 ACW
A beautiful American Civil War board.
4 Palestine
Palestine in WWI.  Definitely a game I would have loved to try.
5 Wings of Glory
Wings of Glory.
6 Bolt Action
Bolt Action.
7 Trilaterum
A new sci-fi game, Trilaterum, had some beautiful scenery.
8 Test of Honour with OGRE in background
Test of Honor – and note a 1970’s classic return in the back – OGRE – a near future tank game.  I played that game with cardboard chits in the early 1980’s.

The next game went up in operational level and down in miniature scale.  Dave Wood ran “Look Sarge, We are invading Russia”, using the Look Sarge No Charts set of rules and 6 mm microarmor.  The Germans held off the Russian counterattack, and won the game.  Both of Dave’s games were very well-received.

9 Dave Wood's Look Sarge we are invading Russia
The Germans move down the road.

Skipping to Sunday, Leif Magnuson ran a nice What a Tanker game using 28mm tanks in an Eastern Front battle.  It was a lot of fun, and the Soviets eked out a win.  Leif also won an award for “Best in Time Slot” – well-deserved.  This meant that our club (The Mass Pikemen) won two awards – and both were “What a Tanker” games!

10 28mm WaT

“Ivan is a Tanker” run by Leif Magnuson.

Flashing back to Saturday night – I ran an updated “Attack of the Warbots” game.  The game was a success, as the players had a great time.

04062019 HAVOC Attack of the Warbots Photo
My game poster
04062016 Warbots setup pic
The game set up plan.
1 Attack begins
The tabletop is set – and the attack begins.
2 Attack on wall
The Warbots got slowed by the Aphids defense, but managed to advance a Mark 1 Sphere tank to the wall.
3 Space Roos try to spoil
On the other side of the board, Leif Magnuson’s Martians and Robot Peacekeepers press their attack against Chris Comeau’s Space Roos.
4 Space Roos try to spoil
Chris jet-packed his Space Roos into the heart of the Martian attack.  
5 SFC Mallard disables tank
The Star Ducks disabled a second Mark 1 Sphere tank with a satchel charge, immobilizing it and taking it out of the fight – a critical loss.
6 sprint to the finish
Biological forces desperately converge on the Mark 1 Sphere tank as it breaks through and approaches the captured tank and its Space Dwarf repair crew.
7 Robot Peacekeeper Banzai Charge
Meanwhile, the Robot Peacekeepers pulled a “Banzai” charge morale check and swarm the defending Space Roos on the other side of the table.

At this point in the battle, Duck Wader made a power leap with his Sith powers, and drove his light saber into the Warbot tank, resulting in its disabling just two inches from victory. 

Nearby, Roberker, a giant robot (with flame-throwing arms) was the Warbots’ last chance.  The Frinx shot Roberker a bit, and its resulting morale check caused a miracle result – apparently the robot lost face, ran away in shame, and blew himself up!

8 Suicide of Roberker
The suicide of Roberker.  I replace these “ancient” miniatures on the battlefield when they become casualties with homemade cards.
8a Suicide of Roberker
The card that did in Roberker.  Note the morale result at the bottom – I have the Warbots use the South Pacific deck from Combat Patrol deck which have different (WWII Japanese) morale results.

The death of Roberker was followed by raucous laughter from the table – even from the player who had it happen to his Roberker.

I was tired after the weekend, but it was a great time.  I want to thank all the players, as well as the GM’s, and especially Battle Group Boston for another fun convention!  

 

 

 

Looking Forward to HAVOC!

I have been very busy – too busy to effectively write blog entries lately.  I have been working on terrain and game support for the two games I will be running at HAVOC on April 5th and 6th.  Each will support 10 players – and its my goal that all have a blast!  So, in the interim, please enjoy these two announcements – hopefully I get some other stuff painted and blog-worthy for you dear readers!  The link for the convention is here.

I am looking forward to seeing a number of friends – including my old USMA classmate (and HAWKS member) Dave Wood who is also running a couple of games – so that’s exciting too.

I’ll be running these two games!  

04062019 HAVOC What a Tanker North Africa Photo

I updated this game with my Space Roos and have new terrain!

04062019 HAVOC Attack of the Warbots Photo

 

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.

8i BANZAI BUG ATTACK
BANZAI!  TO THE POND!
8j BANZAI BUG ATTACK
The other flank is swarmed
8k BANZAI BUG ATTACK
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
8m BUGS WIN
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