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!
The H.A.W.K.’s held their BARRAGE convention in Havre de Grace, Maryland at the end of September 2018. They had over 70 gaming events, and it had been on my “hoping to attend” list for most of 2018. Also on my wish list was to be able to run my “Attack of the Warbots” game using the Combat Patrol™ card-based system. I was hoping to attend but was unsure (for several reasons) up to a week beforehand as to whether I was going to be able to go or not. In the end, the stars aligned, and I also got to run my game! Box checked!
There was a lot going on here – and I saw a lot of great games. The following is just a snippet, through my eyes, of the experiences that I had. The games and the game masters that I saw did an incredible job. Truly impressive. Certainly, the H.A.W.K.’s put on a great gaming convention and my kudos to all of them and the other game masters.
I started on Friday with running my latest iteration of “Attack of the Warbots” with my Archive, Mega Miniatures, and Wargames Supply Dump figures, all of which are OOP. I had seven players, with three on the Warbot side, and four on the defending side. Of note, I was lucky to have had as players both Buck Surdu (my old West Point buddy and the author of the Combat Patrol™ rules) and Dave Wood (my old West Point roommate who introduced me to tabletop gaming in 1982). I also had the good fortune to have Greg Priebe playing alongside Buck – and Greg wrote the Star Wars supplement for Combat Patrol™. Buck is very fond of ducks (in a good way of course), and was in command of Duck Wader and some Star Ducks, while Dave was on the Warbot side with a couple of Mark 1 Sphere tanks. Greg commanded the Aphids and the Frinx. A few other players were there but I did not get their names (sorry). The Warbots needed to recapture a lost Mark 1 before the defenders could repair it and get it off the board.
I then turned into a player, and decided to try a Lion Rampant game ably run by Philip Jones. We were the Vikings who had seized prelates, monks, and treasure in a raid, and were trying to escape to their longship, while being pursued and blocked by Welsh troops.
Our casualties mounted! The game points were tallied, and rightly called for the Welsh. I did find the system fun, and Philip ran the game in a very fun way.
After this, I was walking around, and was recruited for a “What a Tanker” game run by Brian Lipscomb. It was set in North Africa, 15mm scale, with the British set against the Germans and Italians. Brian asked if I wanted to have a German or Italian tank. Being a sucker for a challenge, I of course said Italian. I was given a Fiat M13/40 tank.
Needless to say, I really enjoyed this game and the mechanics. Brian is a superb GM. More on that in a bit…but this was a fun way to end Friday!
On Saturday, I had really looked forward to playing Buck’s Sea Lion game. There weren’t enough players, so it was called, BUT I wanted to share the unbelievably beautiful game set up. Buck will run this game at Fall In and you can read about a play test of the game here.
So again, I wandered around, and saw another Brian Lipscomb “What a Tanker” game, this time set on the Eastern Front. After Friday, I was happy to give it another go. I was teamed with two others who had not previously played the game. We had a certain number of points, so I volunteered to take a lesser tank (a T-70 light tank) so that they could have better ones – in this case a T-34 and an SU-76.
At this point, Don Hogge and Buck Surdu visited the table put up a dollar each for anyone to kill me! Talk about motivation! We were being outmaneuvered by the Germans at this point, so I moved back and used my kill points to upgrade my T-70 to an SU-85.
The scenario that Brian devised also had infantry (controlled by him as the GM and using a random events chart) – with the town as an objective. I used the SU-85 to hammer the German infantry as Soviet infantry was arriving. I killed four stands and got a bunch of kill points. I reminded my teammates that I had started off as a T-70, and they gave me one extra kill point, which allowed me to get a monster ISU-152. At the same time, the Germans were reinforced with a Jagdpanther and a Sturmgeschutz III.
Immediately I maneuvered the ISU-152 to hit more infantry. The Germans decided to try to get me with their Jagdpanther and the Sturmgeschutz III. I moved my tank destroyer next to a building to face the Jagdpanther down the main street. He fired.
I returned fire and destroyed the German tank destroyer.
At this point, the Sturmgeschutz III was maneuvering to get a flank or rear shot on me. As the ISU-152 is very heavy and slow, I was only able to spin to face the Sturmgeschutz III. It was a question of initiative – and I got it, hit the German assault gun, and got kill #6 for the weekend (and the $2 bounty on me!).
I then participated in a play test for a near future warfare scenario using cyber warfare with the Look Sarge No Charts system. It was run by Dave Wood and was interesting to do.
Every BARRAGE there is a pickup WWI air combat game that is a hoot. I’ve never managed to get a kill in the game before, but I did this year as a German. Eventually, I got shot up and had to glide home.
The last tabletop game that I played in was a First Boer WarCombat Patrol™ game. I was on the Boer side and we had to defend our wagon from being seized by the British. The game was fun, but there was a low point. We had a couple of players from New Jersey who vanished mid-game without so much as a notice that they were leaving. I think they hated defending. Anyways, we struggled on and ended up winning the game. The other players were great sports, and were great company.
After this game at the end of the con, I got to play in the traditional LARP pirate game. I had a nerf crossbow (treated by the GM as a musket) that took out Buck with a shot to the glutes. My weapon later misfired, and the resultant damage took me out. That LARP is always a fun game though!
The flea market presented many vendors and items for sale. I grabbed a Verdun game that I had last played with a gaming club in Monterey, CA in 1985! I’m not sure when I will get to play it, or with whom, but it was OOP in 1985, so a nice find! Buck and I visited the Verdun battlefield in 1987 or so, so it was nice to get this game here.
I must congratulate again the H.A.W.K.’s on a well-run con. Little Wars TV attended and filmed so you can see more of the convention here.
Thanks for looking and as always, I love any feedback!
I have been accused of having a Boston accent, but this is not really true – I have a Worcester accent, or properly a Worcester County accent. Throughout my military and civilian career, my pronunciation of my name, Mark, sounds to others like Ma’k. My good buddy Buck Surdu has often shortened it to “Ma’k” on his blog posts. Last weekend (right before Thanksgiving) he and my other good buddy, Dave Wood, made the drive up from Maryland on a traffic-filled Friday afternoon for a Saturday full of gaming – and it was called “Ma’k Con”. My wife Lynn really helped out as well with her keeping us well fed. This blog post is about the gaming we crammed into that Saturday.
Buck and Dave got me into tabletop wargaming when we were back at West Point. Since then, Buck has published a myriad of rules for gaming, and Dave has contributed to many of those rule sets. The most recent rules that Buck published is a fantastically easy to play and streamlined card-based system for skirmish-level combat in WWII called Combat Patrol™. It is truly flexible, and has had optional rules and supplements written to cover different possible scenarios, to include the South Pacific theater, the Winter War, the Falklands War, the Napoleonic era, and even the Star Wars universe. These can be downloaded for free from his website, and the cards are available in the US from Drive Thru Cards and in the EU from Sally Forth. The rules are also available in book form from both On Military Matters and Sally Forth.
Buck recently added a new set of cards for the South Pacific, which have different morale results for Japanese troops. Readers of this blog know that I have been collecting and assembling units from the old Archive Miniatures Star Rovers line of figures, specifically Star Ducks, Power-Armored Frinx, Aphids, and Mark III Warbots. Additionally, I have been supplementing these forces with Khang Robots, weapons, Robo-Sentry Guns from War Games Supply Dump, and my own sculpt of a sphere tank. I also used some weapons from Bombshell Miniatures.
I decided that I would combine aspects from different Combat Patrol™ rules for a fun retro sci-fi game. Specifically, I would use the new South Pacific deck for morale results for robots, the new vehicle-mounted flame thrower template for my sphere tanks’ death rays, and the Sith rules from the Star Wars supplement. Also, I added in several rules from the optional rules. Lastly, I added my own special rules for the Mark III Warbots and their leader, Juggerbot, to account for possible effects that weapons fire could cause on their behaviors and capabilities.
Upon arrival in Massachusetts, Buck surprised Dave and I with uniform t-shirts from West Point that we would have worn to gym or when we played sports. It was called Gym-A (Gym-Alpha) and we wore it for Saturday’s game marathon. Admittedly, both Buck and Dave wore it better than I did. We were also joined by my daughter Ellen Morin and her fiancé Chris Smedile.
The scenario was one where the Star Ducks, Aphids, and Frinx were allied against the cybernetic horde of attacking robots. The non-metallic forces had captured a robot Mark 1 Sphere tank. The Frinx were attempting to repair it so it could be used against the robots, who were to have two Mark I Sphere tanks of their own in the assault. The tanks have two side mounted laser cannons, and a Death Ray (think 1953 War of the Worlds movie). Dave and Ellen had the robots, while Buck, Chris and I defended.
The Robo-Sentry guns slowed the attacking robots slightly, but allowed Aphid and Star Duck mortar fire to hit the Warbots near Juggerbot, damaging the robot leader, and causing some of his robots to go rogue, or blow up. When they went rogue, they would attack the nearest figure. Juggerbot ended up dealing with such a problem.
Normally, in Combat Patrol™ games, figures can take a certain number of hits, usually three wounds, before they die or are incapacitated. In this game Frinx had 4 wounds (because of their power-armor), most line Star Ducks had 3, and Warbots had 6. However, I allowed for critical hits as outlined below. This had a nice balancing effect on the game.
The Warbots also had some devastating energy weapons. The opposing forces had two “Sith Lords” (Duck Wader from the Star Ducks and Lt. Ma’k from the Frinx) with special powers from the Star Wars supplement. Early in the game, Buck moved Duck Wader up to engage the Warbots, only to get vaporized along with some Aphids by an arc weapon blast.
The other Sith, Lt. Ma’k, used his Force powers to fly into the middle of a group of 8 immobilized Warbots (they had drawn a “Hold until Death” morale result due to Frinx fire, but the robots could still fire).
Lt. Ma’k (a Frinx) then tried a Sith power – Force Blast – which damaged some robots’ weapons and caused them to explode. Additionally, friendly mortar rounds landed there (Lt. Ma’k did not care) and eventually he succumbed, as did several Warbots. Simultaneously, Juggerbot finally was destroyed by Aphids on Grav-Cycles. As he was the platoon leader, his destruction led to his unit becoming pinned – and only activating on black cards. This really had the effect of reducing the entire robot platoon’s combat effectiveness.
At this point, the carbon-based living got very lucky and fixed their captured Sphere tank earlier than would have been expected due to Chris pulling some great cards. However, the robots got reinforcements in the form of two of their own Sphere tanks, a squad of Warbots, plus 2 self-propelled robot guns. Chris and Buck were able to immobilize one tank with some very lucky shots. The other annihilated a squad of Buck’s Star Ducks with a Death Ray Blast.
By now it was dinnertime and pizza called, plus we wanted to move to the next game. It looked like a slight victory for the living forces, but casualties were high! The game turned out well and I may redo this scenario at Barrage in Maryland in January. Buck’s account of the battle is the next entry in this blog.
Then we moved onto a play test of Dave’s micro-armor game of “The Battle of Nikolayevka (Nikitowka)” using the Look Sarge No Charts rules. This was a breakout of Italian forces on the Eastern Front in 1943 as part of the Battle of Stalingrad. So we had Italians and some Germans attacking a small town held by the Russians. The link above describes the historical battle well.
Buck attacked with a combined German/Italian force on the right half of the battlefield and I attacked along the left half. Dave defended. It was a tough slog, with the Russian artillery (they had no armor) making progress difficult. Later in the game Dave had us command reinforcements in the form of the Italian stragglers from an earlier phase in the battle. It was a good scenario, and interesting to see a primarily Italian versus Russian scenario.
I think Dave will have a very good scenario for an upcoming convention!
The day flew by, and I am so appreciative that we West Point Old Grads had the chance to game together. Thanks to Buck and Dave, and Chris and Ellen! And of course, Lynn for her logistical support!!