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  Feudal Patrol™ is a novel skirmish game (yet unpublished) and is similar to Combat Patrol™ – except it is for pike and shot periods and earlier.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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Casualty cards for Combat Patrol

I have been getting ready for Christmas, but I wanted to get at least a few things done hobby-wise before 2018 rings in.  Last month, we had a rousing sci-fi game using Buck Surdu’s Combat Patrol™ card-based rules (you can read about that game here).

We were able to use the new Japanese South Pacific decks for robot morale checks, and incorporated many of the rules from Greg Priebe’s superb Star Wars supplement.  We also used some of my rule additions for Mark III Warbot casualties, special weapons, and a few other nuances.

One of the issues came in the way of finding an easier way of denoting casualties on the table and making play a little easier.  As you can see below, we just tipped over the figures, and that became crowded!  I do like to see the casualties on the table as it gives a nice account of what occurred in the game, but perhaps there is a better way?  Also, given that the Warbots take many wounds, I also am making some play aids specifically for them and their weapons (and I will cover this work in a future blog entry).

8 Ma'kcon
Casualties litter the field/table last month

As for the casualties, Buck suggested that I could create some cards for the casualties that would take the place of the “dead” miniature on the table.  This would allow for showing the results of the battle, and enable an easier playing experience.

For this project, I bought a Fiskars® paper cutter from Michael’s.  I had a 40% off coupon so I got it pretty cheaply.  I used white 65-lb. card stock from Staples for the cards.

8 Star ducks card
Fiskars paper cutter

6 Star ducks card

I started out last week with the Aphid platoon.  My goal was to make the card sizes as close to the actual miniature sizes as possible.  The Aphids are really small, so their cards were small.  I experimented with Microsoft PowerPoint, using the grid lines tool, and comparing what I printed with the actual miniatures.  I ended up making the Aphids cards about ¾” – 3/8″ high by  ¾” wide.  I had a lot of variability as I got used to using the paper cutter.  The pictures that I inserted into PowerPoint had different aspect ratios, and I remedied this when I moved on to the Star Ducks.

I do recommend using the aspect ratio tool when cropping pictures for this type of work.  Additionally, the grid line tool in PowerPoint allowed me to make exact front and back cards by making sure that the sizes were the same and aligned.   The easiest way to do this is to import your photos first, and then copy that slide.  Then, you replace the photos on the second slide with the written cards.  By printing these on both sides of the paper (use regular paper first, not card stock to check), they will line up perfectly.  The only caveat I need to add is that you need to pay attention to the cards as you will need to reverse the text in the blocks so as to match the pictures – see below.

Aphid Dead Cards 1
My PowerPoint page of 39 Aphid photos – note the reversing of texts below on the text portion 
Aphid Dead Cards 2
The text section – I numbered these text box blocks and put up to the light to see which text went where – each is an individual text box

I printed these on card stock with a “thick paper” setting on my printer, and used two-side printing.  I then cut them out using the Fiskars tool.  There is a learning curve to the tool, and it worked out fine.  The Aphids on Grav-Cycles were not sized to the miniatures, but I wanted all of the Aphids cards in their deck to be the same size, so I can live with that discrepancy.  I did however want to improve for the next group of cards – which was for the Star Ducks.

Here, I needed to make bigger cards, and went with 1½” by 1½”.  I made a few important changes in my processes.  First, I used the “aspect ratio” function when I cropped the photos – in this case using the “square” aspect.  I also added a 2-point thick line on the pictures and the text boxes, which really made cutting easier.  Lastly, I colored the cards text-printed side with light orange hue, to match their bills!  I plan on having future unit casualty cards with different colors on the printed sides.

1 Star ducks card 1
Page 1 of my cards (photo side).  These when printed on a standard sheet of paper approximated the true sizes of the miniatures.
2 Star ducks card 2
The text block side of the PowerPoint, with adjustments so that the two-sided printing would line up properly.  These were then colored orange as below.
5 Star ducks card
The photo sides of the cards after cutting – they are 1.5″ square

 

3 Star ducks card 2
The printed sides of the cards with the orange backgrounds
4 Star ducks card 2
Close up of the cards

These were much better – and I feel confident that I can finish off cards for the Frinx and Mark III Warbots soon.  My goal is that when I next run a game that these aids will make play even easier than Combat Patrol already is!  These are not perfect, but are close enough and stiff enough to avoid becoming paper canoes!

7 Star ducks card
Casualty cards, Death cards, whats the difference!

Please let me know what you think in the comments section – thanks for looking!

 

8/31/2017 Mass Pikemen Gaming Night

Last Thursday Night we had our monthly gaming night for the Mass Pikemen Gaming Club.  Turnout was light but we were able to have a couple of games.  We had a brief card game from 1983 – Flying Buffalo’s “Nuclear War” in honor of our nights game master Jared Burns.  Why?  Well the game has a B-70 Bomber card which was a semi-prototype of the B-1, which Jared served on in the US Air Force.

The second game was an X-Wing demo game run by Jared.

Our next gaming night is September 28th at the East Brookfield Senior Center hall.  We should have a sci-fi skirmish game (retro sci-fi) and more.  The pics below tell the tale of the night – overall my daughter Ellen Morin was the night’s big winner!

 

1 Nuclear War
While Jared set up X-Wing, we broke out this old cold war card game – and all were annihilated – no winners of course!

 

2 x wing me
The rebels side – me -with a 60 point team consisting of Ibtisam in a B-Wing and Blue Ace in a T-70 X-Wing

 

3 x wing me
My B-Wing and my X-Wing

 

4 x wing Ellen
The Imperial side – Ellen Morin – with Tomax Bren in a TIE Bomber and Countess Ryad in a TIE Defender

 

5 x wing Ellen
Ellen Morin’s ships

 

6 Ellen and Jared talk
Early maneuvering

 

7 Ellen plans the destruction of her Dad
Ellen prepares to destroy her Dad’s (my) X-Wing

 

8 Mark rolls BLANKS
My defensive rolls for my X-wing – yes – ALL BLANKS!  Blue Ace, we hardly knew ye…

 

9 Ellen rolls BLANKS
Later Ellen returns the favor by rolling 5 blanks – ensuring the destruction of her TIE defender.  I was still out gunned though…

 

10 Jared GMs with glee
Jared the able GM

 

10 Mark rolls HITS
The Empire gets on a roll, and I am getting hammered…

 

11 Close encounters
Too close!

 

12 I am undone
And my B-Wing dies…Ellen is the winner!

It was a fun night!