Sunday, October 9, 2016

Pulp Western at Guns of August: Pulp Alley Games

Fallen angels at the town saloon.  The terrain and details were absolutely
amazing in the game.
Post two of two on Guns of August.  Our last game on Saturday was Pulp Alley.  I highly encourage you to check out their site as they have tons of downloads and I have NEVER played a game that was so fast paced, full of action and insane twists and turns.  In short:  INCREDIBLE!

A view of the town, with my banditos in the lower right.
We sauntered over to the table and I played as a gang of Mexican Banditos-just think Eli Wallach from the Magnificent Seven ("If God didn't intend for them to be sheared, he wouldn't have made them sheep") , my son played as some Gringo bankrobbers, my friend Greg as a vigilante Parson and his shotgun toting Sunday school teachers.  Another gentleman, Rob, joined us with the Sherriff and his deputies, and a young fellow played a squad of Pinkerton Detectives.

Jose and his Henry rifle make a dash for the witness.
The game starts off with players drawing fortune cards and placing their gang.  The fortune cards represent challenges that players must overcome with their abilities (dice rolls)  The object is to capture plot points, in this case:

    1.  A bank robbery
    2.  A bartender looking for a bribe
    3.  A witness needing to be rubbed out
    4.  A horse asking to be stolen
    5.  A mugging in the alley beside the saloon

Based on your faction's level of morality you either prevent or assist in the skullduggery.  If people get gunned down or brained along the way, so be it.  Initiative is controlled by whoever last took a plot point or gunned a player down.  It is not arbitrary at all.  Whoever holds the initiative can tell what players to take their turn and when, until each character piece has moved/taken an action.

Dry gulched by a Sunday School Teacher.  The tokens help you keep track of who
has fired, run, taken a hit, a blow to the head...just about anything!
My muchachos immediately went for the witness, and I took the first hit, when a Sunday school teacher came up behind me in an alley and "dry gulched" me.  Thankfully, I beat the roll with my health and was back in the game the next round.  At that point, the gloves came off. 

Non-stop action:  Muggings, assassinations, petty thievery and flying lead...all at the same time.
The parson stopped the bank robbery, without a shot, but my son's gang made for the corral and stole the horse.  Then he made his wade to one of the saloons for the crooked bar tender.  Gunfire in the streets between the Parson's bleeding hearts and my son's gang. 

The Parson's "Ladies" challenge the bank robbers.

Capturing a plot point involves "Peril".  When a character is in peril, players can lay down a fortune card that identified a challenge (or series of challenges) one must overcome with ability dice rolls.  The game master also plays a final random challenge (my son spent half the game trying to steal one horse as a result).

Fight gone bad:  Desperados and Sunday School teachers sling lead in the streets.

Meanwhile I was up to my ears in deputies and Pinkertons.  I was able to eliminate the witness, and had worked around the deputies with my gang leader and sidekick, initiating a gun fight that ended in fisticuffs.

Keeping the deputies busy while we kidnap a witness.

As the sheriff made his way across the street to gun down my gang leader who had captured the witness (you can lose plot points) I played my "Out of Ammo" card. 

Jose has the witness, vamanos muchachos!

He had to reload in the middle of the street.  This allowed me to abscond with the witness and gun down another deputy.  It also allowed me to get over to the mugging in the alley and fight my son's gang for the honor of robbing the town drunk.

Sorry, law dog, you've had your six.

In the end, my son had stolen a horse, Greg had stopped a bank robbery and placed the bartender under citizens' arrest, and I had silenced the witness and mugged a drunk.  Since the bank robbery was a major plot point and was worth two point, Greg won.

A simple mugging goes horribly wrong when two gangs end up in the alley at the same time.

It was a great game, we were laughing the entire time as it lent itself to recalling cinematic events from golden age Cowboy films and serials (i.e. my Eli Wallach reference).  So as a result, I am building more western buildings and downloading Pulp Alley game material.  More on that next time!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Guns of August: Williamsburg, Virginia

Boys, are we going to take this or beat these guys?
Here it is October and I am posting about Guns of August.  That should tell you what my September was like.  At least the convention was good!

Royal Navy frigates in line of battle:  Buccaneer Wars!

Met up one of my best friends, Greg Starace up in Williamsburg for this one.  Grandpa and the boys tagged along and played some games as well.  While we only came for Saturday, we were able to get in three games:  Buccaneer Wars, Rusty Old Bayonets and (my favorite...more later...a Western Genre Pulp Alley game).

Closing to pistol shot with the pirates.

Our first game of the day was Buccaneer Wars, a kid-friendly game we've played before at Historicon.  My crew was all Royal Navy and we cleared the main of pirates within four turns.  Sad to say my yards became tangled with a pirate ship and it was all I could do to sweep their decks with musket and pistol shot before they disengaged.

You roll the dice, Dad's got no luck today!

 Thankfully my son's 36 gun frigate sunk two of the pirate vessels and the Royal Navy emerged victorious.

Only half the guns are brought to bear.
Thank goodness for Marine Marksmen.

We then moved right next door for a non-historically based Texian Revolution game in which just about every Texian unit faced off in a set piece battle against a Centralist Army (Alamo Order of Battle) under Gen Santa Anna.

Mexican Infantry is raked by the Two Sisters.  My Tennesseans giving way.

My US volunteers acquitted themselves well on the right, but my middle (Tennessee Volunteers and Texas 1st Regiment) was broken under successive Mexican heavy infantry charges. 

With my guns spiked, my right and center are engaged in close combat.
My artillery waited too long to spike the guns and were slaughters, but not before destroying two cavalry squadrons with grape.

My Red Rovers stood the first charge, but Mexican reserves pressed home the second charge.

The left (New Orleans Greys and Red Rovers) held for a time, destroying two cavalry charges, but were ultimately turned by Mexican heavy infantry.

Spiking the guns.

We broke for lunch and then returned for a Western-themed Pulp Alley game, which I'll cover in the next installment...

Friday, June 24, 2016

BATREP: Carnage and Glory II Battle of Brier Creek, Georgia...AWI

Disciplined British Light Bobs sweep through the Whig camp enroute to
cut the Americans off from their line of retreat.  Poorly led troops would be drunk
and sacking the camp.

My best friend Gregory Starace set up a Carnage and Glory II game for us at the Hobby Chest in Jacksonville, NC last week and events stayed pretty close to the historical outcome.  Carnage and Glory II is similar in construct to Black Powder, however, orders of battle are entered into a computer system, which calculates damage, morale, mandatory actions, etc.  It was interesting and the computer spits out very detailed information about the actions and reactions of the troops.  A good mix of table top gaming and the digital age.

The Whigs camped at a bridge crossing Briar Creek, which feeds the Savannah River.
His Majesty's forces approach from the upper right.

The original battle took place on the 3rd of March, 1779.  From Georgia Historian Dale Cox,

              "The events leading to the Battle of Briar Creek had started in the fall of 1778 when British forces began a major campaign to take control of Georgia for King George III.  The American Revolution was then in its third  year and the focus of the war was shifting south.

              British forces advancing by land from East Florida turned back after the Battle of Midway Church, fearful of rumored American reinforcements. An amphibious attempt to take Fort Morris at Sunbury ended in failure after the Patriot commander, Col. John McIntosh, dared the British to "Come and take it!"

             The King's forces had more success on December 29, 1778, when they captured Savannah. Pushing quickly inland, they took Augusta by January 31, 1779. Things then took a turn in favor of the Americans.

             A force of irregular Loyalist militia led by Col. James Boyd tried to make its way from South Carolina into Georgia to join the British at Augusta. They were met and badly defeated  at the Battle of Kettle Creek on St. Valentine's Day, February 14, 1779, by the forces of Gen. Andrew Pickens, Col. John Dooly and Lt. Col. Elijah Clarke.

            The destruction of Boyd's command at Kettle Creek led the British to conclude that their position at Augusta was too vulnerable and they began a slow retreat to the safety of  Savannah. American forces, led by Brig. Gen. John Ashe, moved across the Savannah River in pursuit.

            When the British reached Ebenezer, they halted. Command was turned over to Lt. Col. Mark Prevost, who turned on the Patriot force that had been slowly following him.

            The Americans, meanwhile, went into camp near the confluence of Brier Creek and the Savannah River on February 26, 1779. The British had destroyed a bridge over the creek during the withdrawal and the Patriots now began the effort of repairing it.

            Ashe's total army included around 1,300 men, 200 of whom were light cavalry. They were camped with Brier Creek between them and the British, who were thought to be far away at Ebenezer.

           Prevost took full advantage of the false sense of security in the American ranks by sending a decoy force of around 500 regular and militia to within 3 miles of the burned out bridge being repaired by Ashe's army. They took up a position there to capture and hold the attention of the American commanders.

          Lt. Col. Prevost in person then led a larger force of 900 regulars and seasoned militia soldiers north up the creek to a mill owned by Francis Paris. They quickly repaired the destroyed bridge there, using timbers from Paris' house and barn.

         The British crossing at Paris' Mill went completely undetected by the Americans and Prevost immediately pushed south toward the rear of Ashe's army. [1]

Briar Creek was the culminating event is a series of small actions in Georgia.
It ended in slaughter and defeat for the Whig forces.

Order of Battle for the Crown forces included Sir James Baird's Light Infantry on the Right, LtCol Prevost (Brevet General) and the 71st Highlanders in the Center and Provincial Cavalry on the Left.  In reserve were three companies of Florida Grenadiers and a troop of dragoons.  Artillery support was a brass 6-pdr and a battalion grasshopper.  For the Whigs, my left under General Elbert consisted of a company of Georgia Continentals and 150 Georgia Militia.  Center and Right: Generals Bryant and Young with NC Militia (Wilmington, Brunswick, New Bern).  My artillery was two light brass pieces (although in the original battle, there was only one on the American side).  My reserve (not on the board) was Col Perkins with a battalion of Continental Light Infantry, south of the bridge.

Immediately after deployment, my son chose to charge with his Highlanders and Light Infantry.  His co-commander moved his Provincial Cavalry up on my left in anticipation of my militia breaking ranks.

My NC militia on the right under Young and Bryant was able to stand, stalling the charge of the Highlanders.  Meanwhile, my light artillery was able to send solid shot crashing through their ranks.  On my left, it was a different story.  While my Georgia Continentals stood like men, the Georgia and NC Militia was a mixed bag.  One battalion faced about and ran for the bridge, exposing the flank of their sister battalion.  The rout was on.

My left wing caved in, allowing the British lights to capture my camp and forcing the withdrawal of my remaining militia battalion.  They rallied under Gen Bryant in time to hold the bridge across Briar Creek, but only for a moment, both Bryant and Young were mortally wounded and carried from the field.  You could hear the militia groan (General Elbert failed every single attempt to inspire and rally his troops.  At one point it was rumoured that he was in camp breakfasting while his troops were engaged.  Shameful!

A precipitous retreat, and poor command influence and my militia were throwing down their arms and either dispersing or cowering before the bayonets of His Majesty's Light Infantry.  Success begets success and failure begets failure.  My senior General (Elbert) consistently failed to inspire the troops, at one point, the Brunswick Militia even expressing embarrassment at his attempts to rally them for a counter charge.  I think they knew the way this battle was going to turn out from the first sound of the charge.

The Light Bobs have the bridge...if only my Continentals would make haste to
reinforce my wavering NC militia.

My guns kept firing and withstood cavalry charges.  Further, the Loyalist provincials were not convinced that Mars would smile on the side of the Crown.  In the end, it was of no consequence.  LtCol Prevost manfully reorganized his stalled Highlanders and enveloped my guns, causing my remaining Brunswick Militia to fall back carrying their General's bullet-riddled corpse.  My cavalry made for the bridge and my gunners spiked the guns and ran as well.

 My Continental Light Infantry Reserve never made it on to the board, but at this point, I had forces on the bridge, with their route of march blocked by the Light Infantry on the other side.  Inglorious defeat and the hands of teenagers and a handful of Highlanders and Light Infantry.

A great game and a good time with friends.  Total time to play was about three hours, mostly due to 14 and 10 year olds bickering about the wisdom of charges and displacement of artillery! 


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Running Scum and Villainy Squadrons: Star Wars X-Wing

Four ship squadron based on the Khiraxz

My boys and I meet up with local X-Wing enthusiasts every Wednesday at the Hobby Chest in Jacksonville.  Attendance is on and off, but I've recently been working on two new Scum squadrons, one a four ship based on the Khiraxz and the other based on the Jumpmaster (Punishing One).

Khiraxz, Scyk and 2x Z-95s:  100 pts

I played this against my son running a Ghost with an A Wing and B-Wing and started in a linear formation, focusing on the Ghost with my assault and concussion missiles.

The Khiraxz and Scyk maneuver on to the remaining rebel ships after splashing the Ghost.

My Z-95s then broke off to engage the B and A wing with the Khiraxz amd Scyk and focusing on the Ghost.  While I lost one Z-95 almost immediately to the B-Wing, the Khiraxz and Scyk joined the fight after dispatching the Ghost.

With the A-Wing now a flaming ball of twisted wreckage, the Scyk and Khiraxz double-team
the lone B-Wing.

I focused fires on the A-Wing, leaving the slow-moving B-Wing for last, splashing it with my three remaining ships.  I found that the key to this squadron was staying in formation for the initial engagement and focusing on the large ship.  I was able to get all my missiles off in the first two turns, leaving none of those cards on the board.  The Z-95's were expendable, but kept the B and A-Wing busy while my stronger ships with higher pilot skills concentrated on the Ghost.  I've had little success with the Scyk in the past, but I find that launching missiles at range 2 and then bugging out to get onto an opposing ships' flank or rear is the way to go, with that light armored fighter.

Moving on to a second game, I picked up the Jumpmaster (Punishing One) for the Scum faction.  I've seen a lot of people running this ship and after playing it, I can see why

The Punishing One is about to execute a micro jump to join the Khiraxz in attacking the Ghost.

My squadron was based around the Jumpmaster, piloted by Dengar, supported by a Khiraxz.  One of the interesting capabilities of the Jumpmaster is its ability to conduct micro hyperspace jumps and leap around the board.  This I did on my second move to focus both my ships on my son's Ghost, again firing missiles immediately. 

The primary weapon turret and ability to counterattack are key for the Punishing One. 

A close call:  liberal use of the Segnor's Loop maneuver allowed me to keep
enemy ships in my primary firing arc, thereby allowing me to use my counterattack
special skill.

Having a gunner and/or R4-B11 attached and a loadout of two missiles as secondary weapons didn't hurt either.  Even though my son deployed his Phantom, it was easily destroyed based on some less than optimal evade rolls.

The rebel Z-95 maneuvers for the Khiraxz, only to explode in a hail of fire. 

All in all, I love fielding the Punishing One (it is 2 for 2 in the win column), but I'm starting to wonder how the ship will change the metagame.  It seems too powerful...

Assault missiles end the Ghost's misery

Friday, April 15, 2016

X-Wing Tournament at Cape Fear Games, Wilmington, NC

My boys and I recently attended an X-Wing tournament with my best friend and his son in Wilmington, NC at Cape Fear Games. GREAT STORE.  They have a huge selection of games, cards, disc golf stuff and generally awesome analog entertainment.

A close shave, but my scum bested my eldest son's Rebel squadron (with K-Wing and YT-1300).
This is only the second time I've humbled the little beggar.  As you can see, he already splashed the Khiraxz.

I ran a Scum and Villainy squadron, one of two there.  Kath Scarlett in the Firespray, 2x Black Sun Z-95s, and a Khiraxz fighter.  The squad works well, allows me to get off early missile shots and then play hard to get with my firespray, while the Z-95's team up on the large ships.  I lost my first match, but won the last three and came in third place in the Swiss-style tournament, winning some cards, counters, and some sweet dice bags.

My youngest son went 2-2 on the day with a TIE swarm.  Not bad for 10 years old.
This was one of his losses since the shuttle had the Emperor on board.  Hard to counter that.

The Championship:  Zuckuss, Dengar, and a second Jumpstarmaster-5000
squared off against a Rebel squadron of A-Wings and B-Wings.

In the end it was 1st Place:  Scum, 2d Place: Rebels, 3d Place:  Scum.
Not bad for the seedy underbelly of the galaxy.

It was an afternoon well spent.  The folks at Cape Fear Games put on a heck of a great tournament and are all about children of all ages.  We'll be back again and again (I came back a week later and bought a bunch of Sails of Glory stuff...but that's another story.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Wars of the Roses: Earl of Oxford's Billmen and Martin Schwartz' German Crossbow Troops

Earl of Oxford's Billmen advancing
Latest Troops off the Table:  From Perry's plastic European Mercenaries, I painted these based on the livery of John De Vere,  Earl of Oxford, and ally of Henry Tudor.  Oxford rallied to the Tudor banner, having fought against both Edward and Richard previously during the Wars of the Roses. 

The movement tray is simply cardboard covered in sand and flocked.  I added
washers for weight and to give the magnets on the bases
 something on which to cling
At Bosworth, he held Henry's left flank against Norfolk, and was appointed Lord Admiral and Captain of the Yeoman of the Guard upon Henry's taking the crown.  (He also dabbled in privateering during his exile in the 1470's).  Oxford was probably one of Henry's most trusted lords, commanding the van at Stoke during the Lambert Simnal affair and again leading troops against the pretender Perkin Warbeck at Blackheath.

Several of the billmen wear the Oxford livery and star badge, also depicted on one of the two flags.  The smaller pennant is Devere's personal banner, with the blue boar and stars.  I painted both of these on linen for the flags.  Not as detailed as decals, but I like the fabric texture it gives to the banners.

I also include a movement tray of German Crossbow companies under an Imperial banner.  Over 1,500 Germans, 2,000 Swiss and 5,000 Irish Kerns fought under the German mercenary, Martin Schwartz at the battle of Stoke.  Schwartz was probably recruited by Margaret of Anjou (as she recognized Perkin Warbeck as the heir, Edward).  Schwartz joined John De La Poole, The Earl of Lincoln in the Warbeck conspiracy.  So I need to repaint my Burgundian handgunners as Swiss, must purchase some Irish Kerns and repaint my other Burgundian infantry in the livery of Stafford (who accompanied Oxford to crush Lincoln and Schwartz at Stoke.

The pavises are painted from actual German pavises I found online...but I am not sure of the actual units or cities, except the white/red and what appears to be a cedar (Augsburg).  I thought this was appropriate since Schwartz was born in in Augsburg, however what companies were actually at Stoke is up for debate.  I am not aware of any extant contracts or rolls that record that information.

The movement trays are just cardboard with magnet sheets covered with sand, pebbles, etc.  The pennant is an Imperial German pennant.  Again, conjecture, but Schwartz' last gig before the Warbeck Conspiracy was putting down rebellions in the former Burgundian holdings (as the long arm of the Holy Roman Empire), which is probably how he came to the attention of Margaret of Anjou.  It would make for a good story!
German Command:  The horn on the Herald is a paperclip with millput to make
the bell.  I used an arm from a Wargames Factory Saxon to hold it
(with a bit of pinning and a resculpt at the shoulder joint). 
The flags are glued linen and are typical of Imperial units...
not sure if they would have carried them to England..