At the HAVOC gaming convention in Marlborough, Massachusetts I ran four games – two Wars of Ozz and two Feudal PatrolTM games between March 31st and April 2nd. Hopefully shortly, I will be sharing some of my own pictures and a few links about HAVOC in future posts – BUT FIRST…
My first Ozz game was on Friday night, and I had a full table of 6 players – all new first-timers to the game. During that game, one of my players, my friend Bradley Gosselin, took copious notes and photos of that game. I noticed him doing this and assumed that he wanted to really learn the rules. To my humble surprise, he said, no, he was hoping to do a battle report and that I would be welcome to using it in my blog! It’s not often that one of my players does me such an awesome honor – and so – thanks Brad – here is your wonderful report – I could not have done better!
Game Set Up
There were two brigades facing each other – Winkies and Munchkins. Each base/stand of troops or artillerist taken out is worth 1 point to the other side. The deployment is randomly determined.
So, in the end the Munchkins prevailed over the Winkies! Thanks Brad for all the work on this (and he might have more on other HAVOC games – stay tuned). The players had a good time and really picked up the rules quickly.
The game was quick and bloody (as it’s supposed to be). Though both sides did well – the Munchkins did a wee bit better.
The HAVOC 2022 gaming convention ran in Sutton, MA this year from April 8-10. It was the first one held since 2019 due to COVID. As I promised, I would share some pics and brief discussions about the fourFeudal Patrol™ games I ran there. Yes, it’s a couple of months late post-wise, but I think the pics are nice enough to share. As I shared in my last post, the last two to three months have been very busy!
I ran “Surprise Aztec Raid on the Spanish Outpost” on Friday night, “July 7, 1520 – The Battle of Otumba” on Saturday morning, “July 1, 1520 – La Noche Triste – Bloodbath on the Tacuba Causeway” on Saturday night, and “Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt” on Sunday morning. Yes, that’s a lot of games, and each one had a four hour time slot. This convention also occurred right before our Florida trip (for RECON and golfing which you will read about in a future post hopefully shortly). Also, the HUZZAH gaming convention was coming up May 12-15, so I was aware that I had a LOT to do to be ready for that. More on HUZZAH later…
At HAVOC you will notice that masks were required for the convention – hopefully the next time HAVOC happens we won’t need them. I definitely think they kept attendance lower than otherwise. Just my opinion.
For this post, I’ll share my game briefing and then a gallery of photos that you can check out individually. The game briefings help the gamers to understand the basics of the scenario and how it fit into the history of the Spanish Conquest. I do not run the games in any historical sequence – I rather set them up based on the time slots and time required for setting up.
“Surprise Aztec Raid on the Spanish Outpost”
I have run this gaming scenario several times before – and it really works well at a con or club gaming day.
Here is my game briefing:
Near harvest time, a Tlaxcalan village is being raided by the Aztecs, seeking to take wealth, food, and prisoners. The Aztecs know the majority of the Tlaxcalan troops are with the Conquistadores elsewhere, and expect an easy task. Unbeknownst to the Aztecs, there are some Spanish troops at this town who will help to defend it. This is a generic scenario based on Aztecs launching a surprise raid Veracruz or a Tlaxcalan Village serving as a supply base for Cortes. This scenario lasts 10 turns.
Below are the pics – as memory serves, the Spanish held on to a victory.
“July 7, 1520 – The Battle of Otumba”
This is another scenario that has been popular.
Here is my game briefing:
For almost two weeks, the troops under Cortes retreated across central Mexico – hoping to reach the safety of Tlaxcalan territory. All of the Spanish were wounded to some degree – many died each day from the wounds suffered during La Noche Triste and the subsequent skirmishes that occurred as the Aztecs, under Cuitlahuac, pursued them mercilessly. The Conquistadores found themselves on a small rocky outcropping – and according to Diaz nearly surrounded on two sides. They were just short of the mountain pass that would bring them to safety of Tlaxcala. They took up an infantry square position bristling with pikes and halberds upon on the rocky outcropping overlooking plains. The Aztecs rained missile fire upon the Spanish, and subjected them to numerous human wave attacks. The brutal end was near when Cortes noticed that the attacks were being coordinated by the cihuacoatl, the High Priest of Tenochtitlan, the Cihuacoatl Matlatzincátzin. He was the one who was acting as the Aztec General. This High Priest was using signalers and bannermen to coordinate the attacks. Cortes personally rounded up what remained of his cavalry and with great personal courage led a mounted charge towards the High Priest and his retinue. The Aztecs had never before faced a massed cavalry attack. While the hooves of the Spanish cavalry were previously unable to make such a charge on the smooth pavements of Tenochtitlan – at Otumba, they were able to make a classic cavalry attack. The charge succeeded in killing the High Priest and many of his officers. It was reported that Cortes himself dispatched the High Priest with his lance. With the death of their leader and disruption of his communications system, the Aztec attack faltered. It quickly fell apart without the command and control that the signals had provided. Cortes and what was left of his troops were able to escape to fight another day, and eventually conquer the Aztec Empire – but this battle could have changed the course of history. This game will last 5 turns and can accommodate 4-12 players on a 6’ x 4’ tabletop.
The Spanish took massive casualties but the arrival of Cortes and his cavalry managed to eke out a Spanish victory.
“July 1, 1520 – La Noche Triste – Bloodbath on the Tacuba Causeway”
Here is my game briefing:
The struggle for the high ground of Temple of Yopico had been a fleeting success for Cortes. Importantly, the Spanish had not succeeded in the most important task at hand – allowing Cortes and his troops to escape Tenochtitlan and reach the safety of Tlaxcalan allies on the mainland . While the Spanish did temporarily seize the high ground of the temple, their war wagons were now destroyed, their supplies of food and water were gone, and they found themselves again trapped in the Palace of Axayacatl surrounded by thousands of angry Aztecs. Times were even more desperate. For those trapped in the city, one last try would either succeed or fail. Either way, a Spanish failure meant either death on the battlefield or on the Altar of Huitzilopochtli. Success might still mean death on the battlefield. Cortes knew that the Aztecs had removed multiple spans over the canals on the causeways, which effectively meant that he would have to bridge those gaps to get to the mainland. Cortes’ men stripped beams from the palace, and had constructed pieces to make temporary haulable bridge pieces. No matter which causeway the Spanish took – they faced a dire situation. Cortes decided to try to make a night escape attempt with all of his forces – and head for the Tacuba Causeway – which was the shortest way out of the city. He left at midnight, and under the cover of darkness, made headway undetected – for a while. The Aztecs finally detected the Spanish movements, and raised an alarm. War canoes, manned by Aztec warriors, surrounded Cortes’ troops on both sides of the Tacuba Causeway, and he faced enemies to his front and his rear. Cortes’ men and his Tlaxcalan allies had taken with them as much looted treasure as possible, as well as prisoners (sons and daughters of the now-late Montezuma). The Aztecs are hell-bent on stopping their escape. A Tlaxcalan warband will try to help clear the way to the Spanish from the mainland. This scenario can accommodate 6-10 players and lasts 10 turns.
This time, Cortes’ escape failed and the Aztecs won the day handily.
“Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt”
The last game I ran was my massive “Cortes’ Causeway Escape Attempt” game. I was honored to win the “Al” award for this game – described by Battle Group Boston as follows:
“Starting at Havoc XXVI (2010), this award 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!”.”The Al award was created in honor of Al Garnache, an avid and active local player.
This is the second time that I was honored to win this award – the other being in 2018 for “Attack of the Warbots”.
Here is my game briefing:
While Cortes was away confronting Narvaez at the Battle of Cempoala, some of his troops under the command of Pedro de Alvarado had remained in Tenochtitlan. Cortes had previously bloodlessly seized Montezuma as his prisoner/puppet, so he felt relatively secure to make the trek to Cempoala. This was not the case with Alvarado. He feared that the Aztecs were planning to surprise his troops and massacre them; thus, he decided to strike first. At the Feast of Toxcatl (an annual Aztec religious festival), hundreds of the political and military elite of the Aztec Empire were participating in the “Serpent Dance” – and were unarmed. Alvarado took the chance and attacked all of those celebrating with no quarter. Most were murdered and some were captured. The warriors killed by Alvarado and his men were among the best in the Aztec Empire. Still, the Spanish and their Tlaxcalan allies were far outnumbered in Tenochtitlan, and they now faced an entire city that was rising up against them. Cortes returned from the Battle of Cempoala. His forces were reinforced by the men and equipment of Narvaez who had defected to Cortes’ banner. He was able to enter Tenochtitlan with his men, and soon learned of the general uprising. As a goodwill gesture, yet a strategic mistake, he released Montezuma’s brother, Cuitlahuac – who had been captured by Alvarado at the massacre. Cuitlahuac almost immediately became the leader of the Aztecs, effectively becoming the new Emperor – and Montezuma’s replacement. The siege of the Spanish began in earnest. The Spanish had occupied the Palace of Axayacatl, were without water, and were coming under increasing attack. The Aztecs even tried to burn the palace down around the Spanish, but were stopped with artillery, crossbow, and arquebusier fire. Cortes tried to use Montezuma one last time – to see if the Aztecs surrounding them would stand down. Montezuma was brought out at the Palace of Axayacatl try to get the attackers to stop their assault. Montezuma’s exhortations not only failed to sway the crowd of enraged Aztecs, but he was hit in the head by a rock from an Aztec sling. That wound would incapacitate him. Shortly afterwards, he died. The cause of his death was the slung stone or perhaps he was murdered later by the Spanish as he lay unconscious – the truth is forever lost to history. In the end, Cortes realized that he had no safe escape route to the causeways. In any such attempt, his troops would be vulnerable to a massive volume of missile fire. Cortes ordered his men to tear out any lumber available from the palace to build a number of war wagons. These would serve as similar devices to the Hussite war wagons of the 15th Century, but would be moved by humans, not horses. Cortes hoped that they would hopefully provide cover for his own missile troops from withering Aztec missile fire – and therefore help his forces make it to the causeways. With these war wagons, Cortes launched an escape attempt that he hoped would be able to punch through the Aztecs and escape to the causeways – and then onto the safety of the mainland and the his Tlaxcalan allies. This scenario lasts 10 turns.
I was pleased to run so many games and especially to see that the players had a great time. My personal thanks to all at Battle Group Boston for a fun convention – and especially to Leif Magnuson for ALL his help with setting up and taking down of my games.
And of course, a big THANK YOU to the players. It has been very rewarding to see players coming back again and again just to play in my games. As Cortes would say, muchas gracias!
Next up in the blog – RECON Convention in Florida, gaming with Buck Surdu and Dave Wood, and golf school with my lovely wife Lynn!
Thanks for taking a look and I hope you found this interesting – if late!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
“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.
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!
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!
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!
I updated this game with my Space Roos and have new terrain!
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.
In this blog, first I’ll discuss the two games I ran, then share some photos and eye candy of some of the convention.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Aphids got into the fray first with their Grav Cycles, while the Aphid infantry and the Space Phraints advanced.
The Aphids however did effectively draw the Frogs to their attack, weakening the side facing the Hurraku Space Phraints. This would have consequences.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!