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Battle of Rock Ridge

Posted by Rob on June 9, 2016 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (0)

In May, the B&P group finally ran a Western skirmish game.  This has been a long time coming considering we've been playing games for 6 years and never done a western game...

I pulled out the Great Escape Games rules Dead Man's Hand and issued a call for everyone to bring their own gang of figures and any western terrain.

Some of us have been slowly acquiring some of the MDF laser cut terrain from 4Ground and we had plenty of terrain show up.

Mark from New Orleans brought some very nice figures of US Cavalry and Mexican Banditos.  Andy ran a Pinkerton detective game, Stephen had renegade Apaches, Larry + son took the US Cavalry and the town Sheriff, Mark ran his Banditos, Joe ran some Outlaws while I took some equally dastardly Desperados.

DMH is designed as a two-player game and once again, B&P had to completely scale-up a massive 7-way fight!  We never do things small in Texas.

Highlights of the fights that I can recall (I'm getting to be an old-timer these days).

The Pinkertons moved on quickly getting a gang move bonus.  They caught the Apaches in the side and started a gun battle on one side of town.  Meanwhile at the other end of Rock Ridge, the Sheriff and US Cavalry decided that Mexican bandits had no business being in town and started a fight in the street.  Joe's Outlaws decided to take rifle shots at anyone in the street and caught a few exposed Sheriff deputies and Apaches and gunned them down.  Joe was holed up in the hotel in the center of town, enjoying some companionship w/ the locals.  My Desparadoes decided to sneak in the building next to the hotel and had some gunfire w/ Joe's guy on the roof and some Pinkertons that moved up.

At one point Joe demonstrated the effectiveness of a double barreled shotgun blast to one of my Desparadoes, and someone played a stumble card on another of my guys as he tried to jump from a window onto the hotel balcony.  He died in the resulting fall to the street.

Joe grabbed a barmaid as a human shield when I rushed into the hotel.  Being a desparado gang, I just shot the hostage w/out blinking an eye.

There was lots of mayhem going on.  We all enjoyed the card play mechanic that allowed for cinematic moves that you see in the Western movies but aren't written into most rule sets (out of ammo, stumble/fall, etc.).

It's bloody, figures die.  We each took half size gangs (11 pts) since we had 7 players and the system worked well.  I think we will continue to paint new gangs and assemble more buildings for more Western action using DMH.

Star Wars Armada

Posted by Rob on June 9, 2016 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)

In March I pulled out the Star Wars Armada fleet scale game.  A good chance to put some pre-painted spaceships on the table and fire some turbo-lasers for a change.

I used a great website for Armada fleet building, Fab's Fleet Generator using the models I already owned.  I wanted to feature two Star Destroyers vs. a scratch fleet of Rebels.  As our first game, I minimized the enhanced leaders and upgrades so that we could concentrate on the basics and add in the chrome later.

The Rebel Fleet was x6 X-Wing squadrons, x2 Y-Wing squadrons led by x2 Nebulon Frigates (one each Escort and Support Refit) and x2 CR-90 Corvettes (one each Type A and B).  289 pts.

Empire had the massive Imperial-I Star Destroyer escorted by it's little cousin the Victory-I Star Destroyer with a cloud of x8 TIE fighter squadrons and x2 TIE-Bombers.  265 pts.

We had a good crowd out, Larry + son, Will + son, Stephen, Duane, Barry, Joe, and I.

Battle was a simple encounter.  Each fleet online w/ fighters engaging like skirmishers in an ancient Greek or Rome game.  We learned the basics of the activation sequence, and fighters value as a screen to lock up enemy squadrons.  Bombers tried to slip through but usually got caught up in the furball as CAP did their job and intercepted.  

Star Destroyers have massive forward firing weapons but weak rear shields.  Rebel light ships want to slip to the flanks and deliver broadsides and maneuver better than the Imperial behemoths.  The TIE fighters died fairly quickly, some upgraded named squadrons led by Imperial heros (Howlrunner or Mauler Mithril) would have more survivability.  X-Wing are much harder to kill and I might have given too many to the Rebels as the Imperial fighters were outmatched by a +20% point margin in fighter strength.

The capital ships have some interesting mechanics w/ command orders and tokens to help minimize damage.  Imperial admirals have to plan 2 moves ahead while the Rebel corvette captains can be very flexible and set new orders each turn.

Overall we enjoyed the game, good cinematic feel and definately will pull this game out again w/ some chrome added and a scenario storyline to create objectives beyond a battleline slug-fest.

May the Force Be with You...

Blink and It's Gone - Year Six in Review

Posted by Andy on April 28, 2016 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

WOW!  Where did the last year go?

Here it is late April again and, for once, despite having a slow year at writing after-action reports, I find myself actually catching up and knuckling down and writing a recap on time!  I must not be feeling well.

Really, has it been a year already?  Our first full year at the Black Labrador, where we've played in the bar area, the Churchill Room, and Cezannes, and transitioned from meeting on the fourth Monday of every month to the first?

Our attendance this past year has pretty much stayed even, with the occasional new face here and there, continuing to allow us to run one multiplayer game that can cater to as few as two players or as many as eight or more if need be.

This past tear we revisited our annual themes - VSF, modern day Elbonia, zombies - turned back the clock to medieval Japan and leapt ahead to a galaxy far far away.  All the while enjoying each other's company, downing a few beers, and playing it simple, fast, and fun.

So before you blink again and another year passes, you'd better read through the summary of what we got up to over the last twelve months, and take note of what's ahead in the next few.  

If you live in Houston, or plan to visit Houston, why not look us up and come out for a game.  We can always use another wargamer, beer drinker, and friend!


April 2015 - The Battle for Emden 2085

April saw us kick off our sixth year as a club with a long-in-coming return to OGRE.  Ed hosted and brought all his many metal toys and used them with modified Deluxe OGRE rules to portray a North American Combine Attack against an OGRE assembly plant in Emden.

Simple terrain mixed with simple rules for a fast and fun experience, as the lead Combine forces reached half way down the length of a 12' table but couldn't quite reach their strategic targets before time ran out.

We didn't see a detailed after action, but more photos are here.


May 2015 - Star Wars X-Wing

To celebrate "May the Fourth Be With You" on May 4th, we ran our third installment of the X-Wing miniatures game, Point of No Return campaign game, centered on the CR90 Correllian Corvette expansion pack.

Rob hosted and we played the Satellite Uplink mission, which turned into a fight of attrition.  The CR-90 was stationary, making it easier for the Imperial pilots, who were able to score a victory.  In the process they took Wedge out of the last installment in the campaign and paved the way for the minefield mission, to be played later this year.

The full blog post is here and more photos are here.


June 2015 - Return to Elbonia

June brought us back to our favorite imagi-nation, modern Elbonia.  Home of Presdident Robert Wubaqui.  I hosted a game simulating an armored infantry clash along the Elbonian/Garlamistani border, which would later precipitate the Three Week War between those two nations.

We used the Fields of Fire modern warfare rules published by Proving Ground Games, which are designed for 1:285 microarmor and more of a tank centric rule system.  For this game we used 15mm moderns and since everyone likes to play with their own toys, I let them field what they had, within limits.

We experienced what often happens at some of our game nights, too many of us, including myself, were unfamiliar with the rules, which made this slightly complicated set of rules difficult to play simply and quickly, making the whole experience less than total fun.  As evidenced by us not getting through more than a few turns of the game. 

The night was so underwhelming for me that I didn't even write an after action report, although lots of photos were taken and I'm not giving up on these modern battalion/company level rules just yet.  I have too many lovely 15mm T-80 and M1 tanks to paint and have invested in socket bases to allow my 15mm individually based modern infantry to be grouped into teams/squads.

More photos are here.


July 2015 - Formula 1 Returns to Houston!

Brian ran another successful play test of his Two Hour Wargames rules for car racing, which have now been finished and published as "Win or Go Home!"

Unfortunately, at time of writing, I didn't have access to any photos or notes from that game night.  I didn't attend it myself.  If Brian has anything he wants to add I'll update this blog article for the record.


August 2015 - Guadeloupe, December 1809

In August we returned to a Beer & Pretzel favorite with Sails of Glory.  Using a bit of creative license and the shore terrain that comes with the game, I fashioned a cove and Daniel, Barry, Dan, and I had fun recreating a bit of Caribbean action.

Over the course of the year, in 1809, British Royal Navy squadrons had isolated and defeated the French Caribbean colonies one by one, until by the autumn Guadeloupe was the only colony remaining in French hands. Cut off from the rest of the world by British blockade squadrons that intercepted all ships coming to or from the island, Guadeloupe was in a desperate situation, facing economic collapse, food shortages and social upheaval, as well as the impending threat of British invasion. In an effort to reinforce and resupply the colony, the French government sent four frigates to the West Indies in November 1809 under Commodore François Roquebert. Two of the ships were only lightly armed, their cannon removed to make room for supplies and troops. Two others were at full strength, ordered to protect the storeships on their journey from the British forces operating off both the French and Guadeloupe coasts.

The French ships were caught in a small cove along the south coast if Guadaloupe and our game tried to simulate a what-if, had the two fully armed French ships not have abandoned their lesser armed charges, as was the case historically.  The French didn't fare well in this one, as expected.

Unfortunately, I never got around to writing an after action for this game, but more photos are here.


September 2015 - A Matter of Honor, Samurai Style


There is always a girl...

Homare was a beautiful country girl, whose parents' untimely death left her in her uncle's care. As war ravaged Japan, many a man was interested in her well being.

The powerful Hatamoto, Houjou Matsui, wanted her for his bride.  Her uncle, the famed sensei Akiyoshi, believed she was still too young and too naive to belong to any man.  Her heart, however, belonged to the bandit, Chikao Kagayama.  Which one of these men would overcome the others?  Which one would do the honorable thing?

Well, in September, Daniel, Barry, Joe and I found out as I hosted a game of Osprey's Ronin, with 28mm minis from North Star Miniatures.  in the process we were able to preview and play test the game and scenario I would later run quite successfully at Texas BROADSIDE! 2015.

No after-action was ever written but more photos are here.


October 2015 - Hot Spot in Elbonia

Fright month returned with a vengeance as Rob ran a GASLIGHT zombie game the week of Texas BROADSIDE!   While attendance was light, those who played had a great time in modern Elbonia where an Elbonian gang controlled small village sees an SAS team drive in looking for gas, at the same time a Virtucon team with Dr. Evil at the helm wants to get out of Dodge.

Once the players realized that shooting made noise and noise attracted zombies, they began to scuffle rather than shoot,  There was initially some hiding in vehicles, then when the SAS and Virtucon realized the vehicles weren't an option, the SAS called for a helo EVAC.

Once the Chinook touched down the SAS survivors made a break for the chopper.  RPG in hand, a gang member thought he could take out the helo but his rocket jammed.  The SAS waited for Virtucon to board just as the RPG gunner cleared for another shot.  Fortunately for those on the Chinook, it took off before the ganger activated next and the zombies got the unlucky RPG gunner in the end.

A scuffle aboard the Chinook between the healthy and the newly zombified put a dramatic ending to a fun filled zombie night.


The full blog post is here and more photos are here.


November 2015 - No Game

Daniel had planned to host a scenario based around Crete's Prison Valley, using his recently designed Brigade level rules, but apparently attendance was minimal so the game didn't make.

Hopefully we'll see it on the calendar for 2016.


December 2015 - Jungle Fever

Continuing our Christmas game tradition, Rob ran a Bolt Action game set on New Britain in December 1943 during the Battle of Cape Gloucester, known in Marine history as The Green Inferno.

The scenario was adapted from the experience of a diversionary landing at Green Beach by 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines. The landings on New Britain were unopposed and the airfield at Cape Gloucester was taken easily, but sizeable Japanese forces were elusive to find and pin down in the dense jungle. Terrain described on maps as damp flat was actually swampy dense jungle making for miserable conditions to move, survive, and fight in.

On the heels of withdrawing Marines, the Japanese moved aggressivly towards the beach and wasted little time in brining their tank up the beach to engage the approaching landing craft.  One landing craft offloaded a 37mm AT gun to engage the tank, but didn't do more than put some pin markers on it.  In return the tank immobilized the LCM.  The AT gun crew was wiped out by the sword wielding Japanese command squad, who subsequently suffered at the hands of the LCM's gunners.

An LCVP swept in to pick up surviving Marines that had reached the beach but a pair of Japanese snipers popped up and harassed the squad and managed to kill the Marine lieutenant in command.  

In the end, a half squad of Marines were all that were able to escape on the LCVP, which later recovered the crew who swam off the LCM, despite having the boat's driver being sniped at and having to evade continuous tank fire..

The full blog post is here and more photos are here.


January 2016 - Out of Africa

VSF gaming, in the form of Aeronef and In Her Majesty's Name mostly, has been a regular staple of this club since the beginning.  In January I launched the first of three linked games to bring us back to our imagi-nations and alternative history setting of 1895.

Following close on the heels of the epic Battle of West Africa, fought in March 2015, elements of the British Mediterranean Aeronef Squadron, rumored to be in possession of stolen ancient Elbonian artifacts, perhaps dating back to the rule of the Pharoah Wubaqhamun himself, made a hasty exit from African skies, in an effort to reach the relative safety of British-friendlier territory.

The British commander (Stephen) was given the choice of three egress routes, Rock, Paper, and Scissors.  The other players were asked to divide their available vessels up between these three routes, so they were poised to intercept the British as a ragtag collection of "hostile" coastal patrols tasked with shadowing the British or slowing their passage.

Rob, as our resident French player, chose not to send French ships to patrol the Paper route.  That happened to be just the route Stephen selected.  Rob ended up replacing Stephen as British commander on the night, while Steve H. was there commanding both Italians and Austro-Hungarians while Kurt fielded his Turks.

In the end the British were able to sneak the ancient relics they'd stolen south, off the table, and away from Africa.  Their destination?  The perceived safety of Gibraltar.

For the night we play tested Rottenlead's new "Imperial Skies" rules, a promising update and improvement on Aeronef and designed to use all the same Brigade Model ships we all own.


The full blog post is here and more photos are here.


February 2016 - Trouble on the Rocks


In March 1895, the Conservators of the British Museum had been the first to reach the inner sanctum of the Temple of Wubakhamun, at bir Ra'ben'Hud, beatng a rival French adventuring company and slipping past the local servants of Wubakhamun and their allied Yahu tribesman.

What the British brought back with them should never have been allowed to be taken from its crypt, but the month before, a number of rival aero craft commanders were unable to stop the British from leaving Africa with their trinkets.  

February saw me host the second of our 2016 VSF games in the linked scenario arc, this time using Osprey's In Her Majesty's Name and 28mm figures largely from Reaper and North Star.  The British had brought the African relics they'd removed to the relative safety of Saint Bernard's Hospital, partially for security and partially  because the man in charge wanted to begin studying them.  The fabled Staff of Wubakhamun was of particular interest.

The Staff was actually of interest to several other parties, as four Adventuring Companies descended on the hospital and its British Colonial Infantry defenders and the Conservators of the British Museum.  After fightng through the 28mm halls and rooms of my foam core hospital, against the Prussian Assault Korps, Lord Curr's Crew, the Servants of Wubakhamun, and others, the French sponsored Family La'Strange, under the command of Daniel, were victorious, spiriting away the Staff and setting us up for the third and final chapter of this trilogy, played in April. 

The full blog post is here and more photos are here.


March 2016 - Star Wars Armada

March saw Rob host a learning game of Star Wars Armada, with some of our regulars as well as a couple of new faces.  I missed this month so haven't had a chance to play, but from what I've heard everyone had a good time.

We don't have a formal after action for this game but more photos are here.


What's Ahead?

Thanks for hanging in and reading down this far.  If you haven't blinked too many times, or closed your eyes completely, you'll now get a brief glimpse of some of what we have planned this year.

In May Rob hosts a game of Dead Man's Hand, the unique card driven western game.  It seems from the emails that have been flying around that many of our active gamers have a fair number of painted western figures, and not a few 28mm western era period buildings.  I'm looking forward to bringing out my Foundry gunfighters and two 4Ground buildings.

In June we celebrate Rob's birthday month with our annual visit to modern Elbonia.  I'm again going to risk trying a new rule set, but have found I really like the wargame rules that Osprey has been publishing.  Reading through their new Black Ops, I see a real cool game that can be used to play out conventional as well as stealth modern skirmish battles.  I'm really looking forward to playing this one.  So much so that I am going to use June to launch a three-game campaign that will continue in August and complete at Texas BROADSIDE! 2016 in October.

We're again looking to run some wargames inside, and as a public service, to the Houston Museum of Natural Science.  Last year we had great success running demonstration games of Osprey's Ronin, in front of their visiting Samural exhibit, on two separate occasions.  In late 2014 we did the same with naval wargaming for the visiting USS TEXAS exhibit.  This year we plan to tie into one of the permanent exhibits, the Hall of the Americas, and feature wargames involvng the struggles of the Plains Indians,  In the future we also want to look at the wars of the Ancient Egyptians, to give us a second annual option that can tie into another of the Museum's permanent exhibits.

The weekend of October 7-9 sees the return of Texas BROADSIDE! 2016.  :Last year we were able to donate to the Battleship Texas Foundation the greatest single sum to-date, a check for $1000.  Thanks to the generosity and hard work of our many volunteer GMs and the many wargamers who came out to play and experience the weekend on Mighty T.

This year we expect to do even better, with the return of our vendor, more promised air conditioned gaming space, and further incentives to our volunteer GMs.  So please mark your calendars now and plan to attend our sixth annual USS TEXAS based wargaming event,

The calendar is still open for many of the other months this year, so if you have the desire to host your favorite multiplayer wargame, historic or otherwise, please contact me and we'll get your game on our calendar.

Thanks again for reading to the end, I hope to see many of you in the year to come, and until next year's review, always keep at least one eye open in a gun fight, preferably the eye you use to sight down the barrel.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Posted by Andy on April 22, 2016 at 2:20 AM Comments comments (2)

Dante quickly closed his book as his school hover bus pulled up in front of Donald J. Trump Middle School.  The heavy and quite old tome, "Out of Africa : The British Military Exodus of 1895" , had captivated him now for several weeks.  This work of a retired Major Dr. Werther Farthingsworth had been written not long after the events it described.

Dante had learned quite alot about the Phoney-War period that followed the 5 March, 1894 declaration of war between Great Britain and France.  That declaration, in turn, drew a number of other nations into the conflict, thanks to the political spider web of mutual defence alliances that existed at the time.  The Phoney War wouldn't turn "real" for well over a year.

During that period of "war-but-not-war" there were still several very real armed clashes, from under the Atlantic, to over the deserts of French Northwest Africa and on and over the Rock of Gibraltar.  It was this latter battle that had closed this particular book and Dante looked forward to writing a book report about it for the librarian, Miss Gann.

Dante would write about how, immediately following the Battle of Saint Bernard's Hospital, the adventuring party of Charles La' Strange, in the service of France, and in possession of the fabled Staff of Wubakhamun, had escaped the battle still raging in the hospital.  Just a city block away the French, with Spanish underground assistance, had arranged three identical vehicles.  La' Strange, presumably with the Staff of Wubakhamun in his possesion, got into one vehicle and all three vehicles then set off in opposite directions.  One vehicle was destined for the Spanish border, one for the end of the large mole, and one headed towards the southern tip of the peninsula.  

This deception and the threat of firing at three civilian vehicles in the streets of the city would, the French masters pulling the strings of this operation had hoped, discourage the British from firing at any of the vehicles.  French agents and their Spanish allies saw to it that the way was clear for all three vehicles,

Meanwhile, overhead, and in coordination with the attack on the hospital, a small supporting French aero force went into action.  Under the able command of Admiral Daniel Sharou, the French ships LES ARCS, CHARLAMAGNE, LOIRE, JEANNE LA PUCELLE, L'EPEE, and a handfull of escorts opened fire on the closest British aero ship, destroying one quite quickly.

Unfazed by the double surprise attack, Flight Admiral Stephen Casten-Smith, CinC British Africa, responded quickly, getting his several battleships, moored just over Gibraltar's harbor, underway.  His earlier orders only hours before the attack, to his ships' captains, to rig their ships to feign being moored, proved to pay off.

That morning also witnessed the arrival, from the west, of a fairly large force of Japanese aero ships under the command of Japanese Air Admiral Joedeki Phiyapamoto.  Phiyapamoto was conducting a round-the-world cruise, designed to showcase the newly engineered might of the Japanese Empire in Asia.  Following a formal invitation and request for assistance from Casten-Smith, Admiral Phiyapamoto hesitated not one bit to engage the trailing end of the French fleet.

Also arriving over the area, from the east, were the aero ships of the Austro-Hungarian Air Admiral Larrazier Bucanon.  Late in arriving to battle, Admiral Bucanon nonetheless pressed his ships forward to aid his ally and friend, Admiral Sharou.  The Austro-Hungarians fielded no less than one battleship, two light battleships, three light cruisers, and a full complement of rocket boats.

Dante even used Google to look up some of the more famous image renderings of the battle, thinking they would make his book report for Miss Gann even more impressive...

Lead Japanese ships quickly closed on the French and began targeting capital ships to the rear of the French force, just as the lighter ships of the British did what they could to make the French pay for their temerity.

The various large and medium bore batteries of Gibraltar also took their toll on the French, doing considerable damage to a couple of the smaller ships.

As the vehicles began making their way to their mysterious final destinations,, along their separate routes, a rather innocous looking surface vessel was reported by some eye witnesses to be moored at the end of the large mole.

The French carrier LES ARCS launched two squadron's of fighters, which proceeded to attack the British and cause some serious damage, even as the three vehcles made their way to their as-yet unknown destinations.

Casten-Smith agonized for a time over the decision to fire or not fire lage caliber guns at the moving vehicles.  In the end, he realized there would be serious repercussions over the probable collateral damage that would ensue, and there was no guarantee, in the busy streets below, and given the smoke, haze, and confusion, that the vehicles he targeted were really the suspect vehicles at all.  So for a while he held his fire.

As the Japanese fleet turned to deliver a devastating broadside on the French, Admiral Sharou knew he had to make full steam, had to use the speed advantage of his vessels to his advantage, even as the Austro-Hungarians started nipping at the leading edge of the Japanese.

Unfortunately for the French, the exchange of fire with the British and the Japanese cost them the L'EPEE, the LOIRE, and the CHARLAMAGNE, although the British also suffered the loss of three of their escort class vessels.

In the waning stages of the battle, Admiral Sharou made good his escape with LES ARCS, JEANNE LA PUCELLE, and their gaggle of escorts, headed for the safety of the open Mediterranean and the cover of a large French surface naval fleet sitting in international waters.

Admiral Bucanon was in an excellent position to cover for the withdrawing French and he, in turn, turned his fleet to the east and soon made good his escape, but not without the eventual loss of almost all of his rocket boats.

Admiral Phiyapamoto fended off the coveing attack conducted by the Austro-Hungarian rocket boat diversion and exchanged long range shots with the Austrian-Hungarians as they withdrew from the area.  The Japanese then returned for rest and refit over Gibraltar in the days that followed, before resuming their round the world cruise.

As for Casten-Smith, he finally had his opportunity to fire on one of the suspected vehicles, as it moved out of the civilian areas of the city and entered the land end of the large mole.  The British aerial bombardment was accuate and effective, in fact destroying the vehicle and holing part of the large mole.  However, the British were not as lucky as they would have hoped.  Searching the wreckage they could neither identify the body of any of the member's of the La'Strange family, nor find evidence of the Staff of Wubakhamun.

Casten-Smith had realized then that the Phoney War was at an end.  Fighting the French and her allies under the Atlantic, in the murky neutral depths, was a tussle.  Fighting over a colony like French Northwest Africa was a wrestle.  But fighting in and over and firing on Gibraltar, a military fortification and part of Britain's Empire, was a down right fist fight.

Dante loved the way Farthingsworth ended his book.

"As that brutal morning became a mournful midday over Gibraltar, a small French plane quickly and unexpectedly touched down on a still-quiet stretch of straight road in the southern most part of the peninsula.  The few British AA guns in the area were strangely silent at this, thanks in no doubt to the work of the Spanish underground resistance to Brithish occupation."

"Having departed LES ARCS with the rest of the launched aircraft, this lone plane and its two-plane escort had managed to fly low and unobserved to this rendezvous point.  As the grey sedan quickly pulled up and stopped, its passenger door flew open and Charles La' Strange, with a wrapped parcel in hand, rushed for the waiting aircraft."

"The contents of that parcel and the affirmation of Casten-Smith's dire predictions would both combine to bring ruin to Europe within the year."

With all of this history rattling around in his head, Dante's path to the library, where he planned to excitedly tell Miss Gann of his book report plans, was on autopilot.  His "plane" was about to crash, for as he rounded the last corner, he ran straight into Jamal.

"Where do you think YOU are going, you little runt?!?!", bellowed Jamal, giving Dante a solid shove backward.

Angry and frustrated with all that he'd had to suffer at the hands of bullies like Jamal, Dante reacted the only way a kid pushed to his limits could.

As Jamal closed on Dante, with malice in his eyes, Dante swung as hard as he could.  The loud crunch from that heavy book meeting flesh, Jamal's shout of pain, and the crash as he hit the floor could all be heard through the open library door.

Miss Gann came out the door in an instant, determined to find out what had happened.  Eyeing the situation she shouted, "Dante Broussard and Jamal Wubaqui, what on EARTH is going on out here"?  "Your fathers will NOT be happy about this!!"

Trouble on the Rocks

Posted by Andy on February 28, 2016 at 10:40 PM Comments comments (0)

"I remember feeling the need, then, to assist, but assist who I was not certain - perhaps to protect the less able patients. But as I stood, I lost my bloody balance, my bloomin cane failed me and slipped away, and I fell to the ground, bashing my head against the nearby table and knocking myself out cold."

Reading this passage, young Dante caught his breath, and adjusted his electric torch beneath his sleeping linen.  His father would give him a whipping if he got caught reading in bed, after hours.   

Dante had found this gem of a history book in the school library some days before.  He'd found it fascinating and was having trouble putting it down.  Written long ago by a retired Major Dr. Werther Farthingsworth, "Out of Africa : The British Military Exodus of 1895" told of a time when Britain and the rest of Europe were in the midst of transitioning from a Phoney War to a very real Great War.  

He'd read about the great aerial battles over French North-West Africa, how members of a British Museum expedition had used the cover of this battle to "rescue" certain ancient Elbonian artifacts.  A chapter retold the daring escape of the British aero fleet and how it left Africa for safer skies, on its long journey back to Britain.  He was just about to start a new chapter, the last for tonight before really turning out the light.

"Trouble on the Rocks"

"I returned to conciousness just a few minutes later, thanks to the gentle ministrations of Anna, the lovely nurse who had been an angel to me over the several weeks of my recuperation.  I was clearly not fit to render any of my fellow countrymen aid, but rather, made do by helping Anna, as best I could, ensure the safety and well being of the other patients in this wing of Gibraltar's Saint Bernard's Hospital.  While our efforts were focused on those who could not help themselves, far more relevant events were playing out elsewhere in that very building.  It would be long after the event had passed before I could collect notes, interview survivors, and be in a position to document what had actually transpired."


"Following its successful evacuation from Africa, along the "Paper" route, the British Aero forces, under the command of Rear Flight Admiral Robert Wubhearst, joined up with the main British task force under Flight Admiral Stephen Casten-Smith, CinC British Africa.  Casten-Smith then brought the fleet to safe mooring in the shelter of Gibraltar's guns."

"Eager to begin his examination of the relics of the Pharoah Wubakhamun, Sir Harold Collingwood, Conservator-in-Chief of the British Museum, ordered the transfer of the relics in his possession to the relative security offered by Gibraltar's Saint Bernard's Hospital.  What at first might seem a foolhardy decision, makes some sense when one stops to consider that some of Sir Harold's men had been wounded in the previous battles and Sir Harold was nothing if not concerned about the well being of his staff.  The hospital also provided him equipment he might need to begin his examination of the treasures brought from Africa."

"Sir Harold secured many of the treasures in a large lab in the center of the hospital, including four sealed sarcophagi.  Pity for him, the fabled Staff of Wubakhamun was elsewhere, secure and under guard in the hospital administrator's office."


"Saint Bernard's had seen a recent increase in the presence of British Colonial troops, no doubt assigned to the wards as security.  I myself witnessed this in the weeks before that fateful morning of 1 May 1895.  The intelligence services of a number of nations must all have come to a similar conclusion.  Faced with the potential for the imminent relocation of the relics, no doubt to a location far less easily assailed, no less than four adventuring companies, clandestine agents provacateur for several of the Great Powers, struck the hospital that fateful morning."

"Bursting in through the northern wing's main doors came the forces of Lord Edward Ronan Curr, late a Major of the Queen’s Own Africa Rifles, and a maverick. He had lost his commission after successfully putting down a Bantu uprising, but at the cost of most of his command.  Curr's force had become a mercenary outfit.  While he may have been there as insurance to help Whitehall protect the relics, his history and his actions that day suggested he may have just as easily and just as likely been there working for some other employer."

"As I regained conciousness I was able to note that he and his men were moving unopposed out of the ward, heading deeper into Saint Bernards.  My later research suggested that the local British Colonial Leftenant in charge of the hospital garrison succeeded in misleading Curr, sending him off on a wild goose chase.  This brilliant ruse succeeded in making Curr and his company a non-factor in determining the final outcome of this Battle for Saint Bernards."

"Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the hospital, in the southern ward, the sounds of gunfire and obvious pandemonium elsewhere in the hospital spurred Charles La' Strange into action.  La' Strange and his associates, believed to represent the interests of the French government, had been posing as patients.  Rising up from their restful positions and revealing their well concealed and camoflaged weapons, the Family La' Strange moved quickly, deeper, into the hospital.  Their chosen course would be fortuitous, as they quickly came to the offices of the hospital administrator.  The speed and decisiveness of their movements suggested the French had no doubt been busier then their rivals in gathering intelligence.  Conspiracy therorists to this day believe there is a connection between the French being strangely absent at the Battle of the Paper Route and yet were Johnny-on-the-spot at the Battle of Saint Bernards."

"The Family La' Strange would go on to fight their way through the British Museum guards set to protect the Staff of Wubakhamun and would, in fact, secure it and spirit it away"

"Troops of the Prussian Assault Corps, under Oberst, Herr Josep Phlips, also stormed into Saint Bernards, through the east hospital entrance.   Oberst Phlips' stormtroopers quickly engaged a concentration of British Colonial guards.  Once the guards were largely overwhelmed, the Prussians were immediately acosted by the dire forces of the Servants of Wubakhamun."

"The Servants had rushed into the hospital from the main western entrance. They were the guardians of the memories, temples, and relics of the great Pharoah. The battle in the center of the hospital raged on for close to 30 minutes, with the Servants gaining the upper hand for a time, until the weight and discipline of Prussian arms were too much for all the Servants save the very tough mummified remains of a long dead priest. "

"With the British soldiers beaten back and the bulk of the Servants decimated, Oberst Phlips' men focused on the dead priest while the Oberst himself made off to find the Staff of Wubakhamun.  Unfortunately, he was too late.  La' Strange had just escaped the hospital with the relic in hand."

"In the immediate aftermath of the commotion, the prinicpal antagonists melted back into the warrens of Gibraltar, just as easily as they had suddenly materialized, no doubt aided and abetted by the Spanish underground."

Dante yawned and closed his book.  He knew there were a few more pages left in this chapter but he was too tired to finish them tonight.  He was looking forward to reading about the next stage of this great story.  The tale of how La' Strange and his French masters managed to fool the British and escape Gibraltar with the Staff of Wubakhamun, an artifact that would have tremendous impact on the battles to come.



We had a great time playing In Her Majesty's Name with a collection of Northstar and Reaper figures and a model hospital I built from foam core and balsa.  The building shell can be used in the future for any skirmish game and I may, at some point, have to build both a basement and a second floor for it.  

Barry, Rob, Joe, Kurt, Daniel, Thattya, and I had a great time propelling our ongoing VSF saga along.  I'd like to thank them all for playing.

Out of Africa

Posted by Andy on February 4, 2016 at 1:30 AM Comments comments (1)

Breathlessly, eleven year old Dante Broussard closed the door behind him.  He'd slipped through this way a number of times, to evade the bullies stalking him in the school's halls beyond.  He found solace and comfort here, amongst the books of the library of Donald J. Trump Middle School.

Dante silently wandered over to his favorite section, History.  Like his father, he found books on military history particularly fascinating.  He'd been here many times before, at the tail end of lunch, evading the mean kids who were too dumb to come look for him in here.

As his eyes scanned the familiar spines of the books, his gazed lingered on one that he didn't recall seeing before.  Perhaps Miss Gann had put a new book on the shelf.  He was always interested in reading something new, about a historic battle he hadn't heard of before.  He liked quizzing his father later, to see if he knew as much as young Dante had discovered.

Sliding the book off the shelf, he glanced at the publisher's name.  Cussler Publishing House, he read.  His father wouldn't think much of that, often cautioning his son that some publishers, like Cussler, were prone to exageration - might publish as historic fact information that was really based on rather questionable historic research.

Dante noted the title and sub-title, "Out of Africa : The British Military Exodus of 1895".  He also took note of the author, a Major Dr. Werther Farthingsworth, retired.  He'd have to ask his father about the name, he didn't recall seeng other books by this author, and he'd spent lots of time browsing the military history books in this room.

Knowing he had little time before the bell would ring and he'd have to rush off to class, Dante flipped the book over and read the back.

"Following the March 1895 five-fleet aeronef battle over and for control of the skies of French North West Africa, the British chose the uncharacteristic course of action and withdrew their forces from the region altogether.  That they had sent the Conservators of the British Museum into Africa to search for relics of Ancient Elbonia, under the cover of the battle, would suggest that their dramatic and unsual decision to exit out of Africa after the battle was undoubtedly related to their archeological expedition."

"In late March 1895, British Flight Admiral Stephen Casten-Smith, CinC British Africa, was faced with the choice of three possible routes "out of Africa".  Code named Rock, Paper, and Scissors, Casten-Smith opted for the one route that would take his forces to the Mediterranean coast the fastest, Paper.  Placing Rear Flight Admiral Robert Wubhearst in charge, Casten-Smith hoped his forces could avoid a large proportion of the hostile forces arrayed against them."

"Having divided their own fleets to try and intercept the British, patrolling forces of the Ottoman Empire, Italy, and Austria-Hungary were all in position to offer some, albeit token, resistance to an otherwise free British passage.  Strangely absent from the ensuing battle were the French, having eschewed route Paper in favor of concentrating on routes Rock and Scissors"

"The resulting battle for "imperial skies" witnessed the utter devastation that could be wrought with the latest in air-torpedo technology, with the very quick demise of OES KAPLUNK and OES KAPUT and their screening escorts.  Indeed, the Ottomans suffered mightily, at the hands of the British, with the further loss of the OES KAPOW, to concentrated fire from HMAS RWALPINDI and HMAS ISANDLWANA."

"Wubhearst's fleet did not escape unscathed, however.  While it would later be borne out that the British had indeed managed to extricate their archeological findings from Africa, it cost them the HMAS ISLANDLWANA, as it was tragically torn from the skies by the concentrated might of the Austro-Hungarians."

Fascinated and wanting to learn more, Dante reluctantly place the book back on the shelf, sliding it between two other volumes he hadn't noticed before, "Trouble on the Rocks" and "Between a Rock and a Hard Place".  

Just then he heard the peels of the school bell sound.  He'd have to tell his father about this book; have to ask him about the role the French seemingly DID NOT play in a region of great interest to them.  That his father was a staunch advocate of all things France meant he imagined his old man would have a strong opinion on the matter...

The Green Inferno

Posted by Rob on December 23, 2015 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Continuing our Christmas game tradition, I ran a Bolt Action game set on New Britain in Dec. 1943 during the Battle of Cape Gloucester, known in Marine history as The Green Inferno.

The Black Labrador's Churchill Room as our setting had been freshly remodeled/expanded and decorated w/ natural evergreens and lights, giving it a nice Christmas cheer feeling.

Andy and Andrew brought their boys, and my Dad (USN vet) joined us for the evening.  Pre-holiday date reschedule may have hurt attendance but we had a great game.

The scenario was adapted from the experience of a diversionary landing at Green Beach by 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines.  The landings on New Britain were unopposed and the airfield at Cape Gloucester was taken easily, but sizeable Japanese forces were elusive to find and pin down in the dense jungle.  Terrain described on maps as damp flat was actually swampy dense jungle making for miserable conditions to move, survive, and fight in.

2nd Battalion setup a perimeter to block the retreat of any Japanese forces and was hit by night-time banzai attacks on Dec. 30 which were held off w/ great heroism.  Our scenario changed the result to a Japanese breakthrough and began w/ a fighting withdrawl by 2 Marine squads being pursued through the jungle to the beach by 3 Japanese squads w/ a Ha-Go tank, infantry gun, and HQ unit in pursuit.

The Marines elected to push aggressively toward the beach, while the USN LCM attempted to land a 37mm ATG to engage the tank which was restricted to trails and beach terrain only.  The LCM HMGs engaged the tank and scored pins, but the tank scored an immobilization hit on the LCM.  Meanwhile one of the Marine squads got caught by a Japanese squad using fire and maneuver and lost the ensuing close combat leaving only the USMC HQ and one squad in the final dash to the beach.  

The USN LCVP raced to the beach to pickup the surviving Marines while it's LCM cousin drifted ashore in the surf and landed the 37mm ATG.  The Japanese dropped a sniper hole (Pacific themed house rule) in front of the Marine squad and shot at but missed the LT.  The Marine squad over-ran the sniper scoring an easy kill.

As the climax loomed, the Marine ATG fired at the tankette and stunned the crew, but was then wiped out by the samurai sword wielding Japanese command group.  The LCM gunners returned fire killing off most of the HQ unit but were stuck on the beach in their immobilized LCM.  The surviving squad reached the LCVP, and was caught in close combat by a Japanese squad on their heels, but won the assault and consolidated into the LCVP.  The LT was killed by another sniper hole and the platoon sergeant jumped in the LCVP which then escaped from the tank which was still firing from the beach.

In the end a half squad of Marines survived, and the LCVP picked up the sailors who swam off the immobilized LCM.

A victory for the Emporer as the Japanese captured a 37mm ATG, and a damaged LCM.  Thanks to all who came out and enjoyed Beer & Pretzels in 2015.

When Mr. Bigglesworth gets upset... people DIE!

Posted by Rob on October 7, 2015 at 1:50 AM Comments comments (0)

The traditional October game featuring Zombies was a great outing for GASLIGHT rules and my 28mm modern collection.  We had a smaller than normal crowd due to Texas BROADSIDE being this weekend, but the Churchill Room at Black Labrador was a great setting and the game ran very cinematically.

Forces available: 

  • British SAS team on the run from a prior off-table incident with the Zombie outbreak.  Arriving in a comandeered Elbonian Police Land Rover, very low on fuel.  Stephen K. ran this force.
  • Local Elbonian criminal gang, runs this village and controls a fuel tank alongside the main dirt track.  An old colonial chapel is the anchor for the village, and has a small UN World Health Organization (WHO) clinic nearby setup to handle the outbreak.  Michelle K. took this unit.
  • Virtucon team composed of Dr. Evil, Number Two, and some henchmen who were escorting the only surviving WHO Scientist back to the Virtucon regional secret base.

The Action begins, Scene 1.

The SAS drove down the dirt track toward the village.  Virtucon mounts up in their vehicles outside the chapel.  Elbonian gang closes in on Virtucon w/ some shooting.  Players begin to realize that shooting, starting up vehicles, and driving vehicles causes noise markers, which leads to Zombies showing up.

The Elbonian gang and Virtucon shoot at each other, henchmen and gangers start to die from gunfire.  More Zombies arrive and begin marching/running toward the sound of the guns.  Gangers seek cover but Zombies start shambling out of any nearby building or jungle.  SAS team drives into the village outskirts and park next to some dumpsters near the clinic.  Virtucon fails to start one their pickup truck and a henchman in the bed starts to Scuffle with Zombies.  After the driver is killed from Ganger small arms, a new henchman takes the wheel and starts the truck and drives away with Dr. Evil in the orange SUV from the chapel w/ the scientist and trades some firing w/ the SAS.  More Zombies arrive...

Elbonian gang is in the thickest fighting as they are on foot and learn that Scuffling w/ Zombies makes far less noise than gunfire, but also the disposable nature of GASLIGHT extras w/out saves.  Luckily Elbonian gangs re-spawn when wiped out (there are alot of gang members in this village).  SAS and Virtucon stay in their vehicles and are largely immune to Zombie Scuffle attacks.

Scene 2

Virtucon and SAS decide to cooperate and stop shooting at each other.  A large horde of Zombies has already been generated and despite attempted run-over attacks by Virtucon, starts shambling after the SAS and Virtucon vehicles.  SAS call for their evac helicopter but remain in their vehicles instead of securing the LZ.  Zombies begin to attack the vehicles.

Realizing that they eventually have to get out, SAS exits their Police Land Rover (which only had 1 turn remaining of fuel) and Scuffle w/ the Zombies.  The effective close combat SAS start killing Zombies but there are so many of them....  A few Zombies Scuffle hits and failed Saves cause infections to set in...

Virtucon sees the SAS holding their own and bail out of their vehicles just as the RAF Chinook lands in the LZ.  Elbonian gang #2 after battling some Zombies in the village push a RPG team w/ some escorts within range of the Helicopter.  Just as the RPG fires, a dreaded '20' is rolled in the attack rendering a mis-fire!  The frustrated Gang grenadier must spend next activation clearing the dud rocket with Zombies closing in.

Scene 3

The SAS realize they will not be able to defeat the horde and decide to run for it.  The Zombies take their free Scuffle attacks but are ineffective.  SAS board the helo and have a chance to double-cross their Virtucon allies(?) but Stephen decides for Queen and Country to wait for Dr. Evil and the scientist to join them.  This proves a pivotal decision in the final outcome.

The Elbonian gang member clears the jammed rocket and is ready to fire but Virtucon activated first and boarded the helicopter, taking some Scuffle attacks by the Zombie herd but boarded with several healthy henchmen.  At the climax of the action, the next activation was the SAS so the chopper lifted off, successfully escaping the Zombie herd and Elbonian gang RPG gunner who ultimately was devoured for dinner by the herd of local Zombies.

In a final moment of drama, the SAS infected trooper turned into a Zombie as the chopper flew away and a Scuffle erupted INSIDE the chopper with the other survivors.  The now-Zombie SAS trooper fought better than a local Elbonian civilian Zombie and infected another soldier before being killed.  Infected trooper #2 turned into a Zombie and now the Virtucon henchmen were needed to control the former SAS Zombie-trooper.  Number Two jumped into the fight and was bitten and infected in his efforts to control the second Zombie ex-soldier.  When the Scuffle was finally over, Number Two, another Virtucon Henchman, and the two SAS troopers were all dead.  Only two SAS troopers, Dr. Evil (w/ pet cat Mr. Bigglesworth), one henchman (new Number Two?), and WHO scientist Dr. Stevens survived.  It was just another day in darkest Elbonia during a Zombie outbreak.

I'll run this game Saturday night at Owlcon with a few tweaks.  Thanks to Barry, Stephen, and Michelle for playing.  Pictures are posted in the Photo Gallery.

A Harrowing Adventure

Posted by Andy on August 20, 2015 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

A Harrowing Adventure - by Major Dr. Werther Farthingsworth, retired

Reprinted by kind permission of the London Gazette, 25 August, 1895

Here I sit, quite comfortably now, in my Kensington flat, cigar and brandy firmly in hand.  Still recuperating from my harrowing adventures of March past.  The gentle rain, falling on the window before me, quite the contrast from the palpations I feel still when I think upon my recent experiences.

It all started for me in early March of this year, when, accompanied by my trusted man-servant of twenty years, Mustafa Gahtan, we set out to French West Africa, on Safari.  In the lands once known as Ancient Elbonia, cradle of the Wubakhamun led Elbonian Civilization; a distant offshoot, and oh so brief rival, of Ancient Egypt.

I sought the great maned head of the famed Elbonian Lion, whose proud visage graces so many of the Pharaoh Wubakhamun's discovered ruins.  In mid March I was hot on the trail of one handsome specimen, when a misguided step off the edge of a wadi, a step that rotter Mustafa failed to warn me about, saw me quite literally "break-a-leg".

Evacuated through the French colonial city of Cantwellabu, my time in the Boer War, and years spent serving in Her Majesty's - God bless 'er - Army, saw me transported to the hospital of Saint Bernards, in Gibraltar, where fine doctors of  good standing were able to surgically repair my leg.  Alas, I shall always need this bloody cane, but at least I can walk again.

I was there, recovering for a good while, when near the beginning of April a number of military casualties were brought in.  Seemed the bit of international bother of late with the Frenchies had brewed up a bit, over the skies of French West Africa, as it turned out, and Saint Bernards had on several occasions served as a military hospital.

Eager to learn more of what had transpired, and with nothing better to keep myself busy, as I recuperated, I kept a keen ear open, and overheard the poor injured bastard aeronauts of Her Majesty's - God bless 'er - Royal Aero Force, telling and retelling their war stories.

It seems quite the brouhaha had unfolded in those war-torn African skies.  For not one, or two, but as many as five aeronef fleets were rumored to have engaged one another over those bedeviled sands.  Our own beloved RAF, the ugly Frenchies, the greasy Italians, the sniviling Austro-Hungarians, even the dreadful Turks, were all present and fully engaged in deadly conflict.

I was so eager to record the stories I was overhearing, in words and pictures, if possible, that it seemed prudent of me to send Mustafa on an errand.  I knew, you see, of a stalwart fellow, a good friend of mine, and a right proper and excellent artist, living, nay, I dare say, struggling to make a living as a painter in Gibraltar.  My good friend, the Spaniard, Andres Rocha.

Andres's specialties were oils, and I was certain that, when he understood the gravity of the situation, and the drama of the moment, he would acquiesce, and paint for me a set of pictures that could aptly illustrate these brave mens' tales of war.  Besides, I had been a best man at his Caribbean wedding, at his marriage to the captivating and beautiful Tralinda, and I had recited there such a speech, so as to make men weep.  He owed it to me to assist in this literary and artistic endeavour, the recording for posterity of this aeronef conflict, before time and memory lost it forever.

Over the following weeks, as I continued my recovery and rehabilitation, Andre painted as I chatted with the several aeronauts who came and went.  In so doing, I began to piece together what had transpired in the skies over French North Africa, the probable motives of the forces involved and the purported aeronef losses for each.  I will summarize here, but together with Andres' addiional renderiings, do picture a book in the none too distant future.

With a great war surely looming in Europe, the search for R-matter deposits around the world has, generally, intensified.  Knowing that there have been recent R-matter deposit discoveries in West Africa, it is unsurprising that the various European nations would have a renewed interest in the region.  I heard from some aeronauts that the French have built new R-matter extraction facilties in their African colonies, so no doubt they had a vested interest in protecting their possessions.

Having no love for the French, under the command of Admiral Wubbenchivre, I must say that I was overjoyed to hear that the French battleship LOIRE had been brought down by our gallant fleet.  Additionally, I learned that the cruiser PUCELLE and the frigate FONDUE had also met similar fates.  One recovering aeronaut reported to me that he had heard that the Ottomans also had a hand in the demise of the FONDUE.

The Ottomans, under the command of Imir Caliph Looff, a recent arrival in the region, one can assume, were there to spread dissension amongst the native Muslims, in their general war against empire.  One aeronaut informed me that the battle was fought near the Temple of Wubakhamun, at bir Ra'ben'Hud.  I think this may also explain the presence of the Ottomans, as it is commonly believed that the Cult of Wubakhamun has many adherents in Constantinople...

One young officer, who had lost an arm, shared with me his observations.  He indicated that the Ottoman battleship KABOOM had succumbed to French destroyer and torpedo bomber attack, he'd also heard that the cruiser KAPUT had been brought down by French destroyers.

As a matter of course, I engaged in discussion with a number of fellow doctors, all extremely friendly and seemingly quite capable.  In the course of our discussions, I learned some vital details from them, details they in turn had gathered from some of their military patients.  It seems likely that the Italians and Austro-Hungarians fought it out at some stage of the battle.  That they share a common European border, and the tensions I've heard and read about along that border, it did not take me by surprise that they had come to blows over the desert sands.

Ever since the Morton Affair over Perle Hafen, we have strengthened our relationship with Vienna against the French.  That the Austro-Hungarians, under the command of Konteradmiral Brueggeman, were there in force was further evidence of our close alliance with them, against a common foe.  I was later to learn that they suffered severe losses to their rocket patrol force, with the CHURSO, PAGUS, BALATON,  and DUNA nefs all succumbing to Italian fire.  The same fate fell to the rocket corvette SCHWARZENBERG, although its demise was seen to by concentrated fire from Italian, Ottoman, and French vessels.

A pretty nurse of British and Italian descent shared some further information that she in turn had gleaned from conversations with our wounded aeronauts.  She learned that the Italians, under the command of Admiral Holtini, faired well, only loosing the destroyer POLESTRO to Austrian-Hungarian aggression.  I hadn't the heart to inform her the real reason the Italians had fared so well.  I'd fought against Italians in the past, and knew first hand about their willingness to put their lives at risk.  As to the reasons the Italians were in the theater in the first place?  More than likely, they were chiefly there to protect their engineering and financial interests in the R-matter extraction operation.  It is generally public knowledge, amongst learned and well read men such as myself, that the Italians and French are working together on the science and engineering of R-matter extraction and refinement.

It was easiest, of course, to learn of the tragic fate of our own ships, under the able command of Rear Admiral Kasten-Smith.  From a number of sources I learned, and was later able to confirm, that we had lost two cruisers and a destroyer to French fire.  The cruisers YORK and EXETER and the destroyer PHAETON served our country valiantly and the crew lost on those ships, and the casualties on several other ships that had sustained damage, will never be forgotten.

I can only surmise that our own forces were there over ancient Elbonia in order to protect British interests.  That there is a great deal of archelogical interest in the recent discoveries made in that region of the world, and that the British Museum, Royal Geographic Society, and other British establishments have financed and staffed expeditions to that region, one can only assume that our brave aeronef forces were there to protect our own people.  I'd even heard news that some wounded archeologists had been brought to Saint Bernards.  That news, days and weeks later, would come to mean so much more to me than when my ears first heard it...

I will never forget May 1st, 1895.  I'd been at Saint Bernards for six weeks, the doctors had done what they could for me and now it was just up to the healing processes in my body to do the rest.  I had expected to be discharged within a matter of days, and was planning to return to Britain on a steamer, where I was looking forward to retiring to my flat for a time.

It was early morning on that fateful day, near sunrise, when the entire ward must have been awoken by the explosion.  The blast sounded close by and, at first, I'd thought I'd dreamt it.  Perhaps had I been sharper and had my wits then, I would have predicted such an event might have happened, at least been prepared for the unexpected.  Because for days before, I'd noticed an increase in the presence in-hospital of our own colonial soldiers, not as patients, but seemingly as increased security.  Almost as if the local commander had suspected trouble was afoot.

The sound of the blast reverberated off my militant instincts, and I grabbed at my cane and my glasses at the same time, as I'd sat up.  Smoke had billowed in from the far end of the ward, and I sensed a number of armed men rushing about behind me as if in a panic.  A pair of soldiers over to my left seemed to be carrying a heavy weapon, perhaps one of those new fangled heavy repeating rifles.  They acted as if they were preparing the weapon for fire, to defend the ward and its patients.  I remember deciding at that moment that the hospital ward was not going to be a very safe place in those next few minutes.  I was quickly proved correct.

As I was beginning to rise from my bed, I saw him,  Striding into the room, brandishing a terrific rotary-like firearm, a turbaned giant of a man.  Clearly of Indian descent, from the style of his dress and the color of his skin, this monstrosity of a man swung his heavy weapon about in a very menacing fashion.  Behind the Asian I'd seen another man step into the ward.  His face and confident aire and demeanor had been familiar.  It wasn't until after the incident, back in Britain, that I was able to identify this man.  It had been none other than Lord Edward Ronan Curr, late a Major of the Queen’s Own Africa Rifles, and a maverick.  He had lost his commission after successfully putting down a Bantu uprising, but at the cost of most of his command.  I had met him once before, long ago, when he was still in Her Majesty's - God bless'er - Army.

I remember feeling the need, then, to assist, but assist who I was not certain - perhaps to protect the less able patients.  But as I stood, I lost my bloody balance, my bloomin cane failed me and slipped away, and I fell to the ground, bashing my head against the nearby table and knocking myself out cold.

Alas, the telling of the remainder of this dimension to my life story must  wait for another time.  I grow weary now, and must rest.  However, rest assured my good and loyal readers, I shall not tary over long.  Just wait for my tale to continue, in short order.

The Fifth Year in Review

Posted by Andy on July 16, 2015 at 1:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Here I sit with some rare free time on my hands, in between a three week summer family vacation and the next two weeks of business travel.

(At least that's when I first started this.  Now, as I write the last sentence and proofread this article, it has been five weeks since I began this piece.  Wow!!...)

Thinking about annual events like family summer vacatiions, and my company's international user's conference I'm attending next week, it strikes me that I'm a little overdue for another annual event - the crafting of another year-in-review for our illustrious, tight knit, and evolving wargame club.

This is, of course, not just any yearly recap.  It's a recap for our club's fifth year.  From humble beginnings in the back room of Asgard, to the darkened panelled retreat that was the Stag's Head's Oak Room - we now, five years on, find ourselves in new wargaming quarters - the lighter, more upscale, and earlier-closing Black Labrador Pub.  

So what games did we play this year, between March 2014 and April 2015 inclusive?  Here's a look back, for those of you who are curious, and revel in the annual recap.


April 2014 - Violent Encounter in the Atlantic - Aeronef/Aquanef

Retold from the perspective of a lost chapter, now rediscovered, from Jules Verne's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", the battle between British and French Aeronef and Aquanef forces was played out in April last year.  In commemoration of our fourth birthday as a club.

I hosted this experimental game, using Wessex Games' as yet unpublished Aquanef rules, together with a number of scratch built Victorian era submersibles, including a model of Nautilus herself.

The situation was a follow on to the previous downing and subsequent sinking of the RMS MAJESTIC, mid-Atlantic, and saw the British discover the remains of MAJESTIC before French forces were able to reach her.  Giving Britain that much of the edge in the European war that was certain to come.

The full blog post is here and more photos are here.


May 2014 - March 1795 - The Battle of Cape Noli

May would have seen John Terry hosting the Battle of Cape Noli, a Napoleonic era sea battle between the British and French, off the coast of Genoa.

Unfortunately, and tragically, the world lost John way too early.  We take this opportunity to honor the memory of our wargaming colleague and friend, John, and wish his surviving wife and family all the best.


June 2014 - HUNG Out to Drive in Elbonia - Modified AK-47

Chaos reigned supreme again, in modern strife torn Elbonia, as Rob brought us modified AK-47 skirmish, for this, our annual tribute to the birthday of Elbonian President Robert Wubaqi.

Between the Elbonian National Guard protecting Route 1, UN forces protecting a World Food Programme humanitarian delivery to nearby Uonga, elements of the Hollywood animal protection movement, PETARD, seeking to protect Elbonian wildlife, and bikers from the Haitian Underground (HUNG), striving to make a "deal" in the area, all the wargaming particpants had a great time.

The full blog post is here and more photos are here.


July 2014 - Point of No Return - X-Wing

In July we brought out one of our favorite quick and easy games to play.  Rob hosted X-Wing and we played the first scenario in the CR90 Corvette campaign, using Rob's recently acquired model.

Barry, Joe, Andy, and Dan took the Imperials, whose mission was to cripple the corvette, while Andrew and Rob divided up the corvette's fore/aft section and managed its systems.

In the end, it was a close-run thing, but the corvette managed to survive till the game ended without suffering crippling damage, leading to a Rebel victory.

We also enjoyed bottles of Saint Arnold Bishop's Barrel #7

The full blog post is here and more photos are here.


August 2014 - Recollections and Regrets - Convoy

No less than seven wargaming sessions, played intermittently over the span of four years, between June 10th, 2010 and August 25th, 2014. is ALL it took to complete our recreation of British convoy HG-84. :)

HG-84 took ten actual days to go from Gibraltar to Liverpool, and certainly suffered some loss to the u-boats of wolfpack Endrass.  Our replay using 1:6000 scale minis and Mal Wright's Convoy tactical rules, with convoy events generated using Mal's Deadly Waters supplement, saw many more merchants sunk.

The disparity between history and our simulation, in terms of convoy losses, can largely be attributed to bad luck on the event generation, misinterpretations of the rules regarding how many u-boats should be thrown at a convoy at once, and the players learning the system and the tactics of WWII undersea warfare.

The full blog post is here and more photos are here.


September 2014 - Stake Through the Heart - CY6! Jet Age

Brian returned us to the skies over Asia, with a return to Check You 6! : Jet Age.

The Pakistani attempt to take control of the disputed Kashmir region, Operation Grand Slam, began with an attack by 12th Division (Infantry) into the Chamb sector.  In danger of losing the strategic position, which would isolate southwest Kashmir, the Indian Army made a desperate request for air support.  Six hours later, and only after approval by the Indian Ministry of Defense, the first fighters were on their way to attack Pakistani positions in the failing light of the day.

Lasting only three turns, the game was over so fast there was never a blog report written or photos taken.  The rapid demise of the Indians saw to that.


October 2014 - World War Z: Elbonia - Ambush Z

October has become our traditional month to try something with zombies in it.  The year before it had been the rather simple Zombies board game.  In October 2014, trying to capitialize on the wealth of modern US infantry I had, and native African regular and irregular troops, I decided to acquire zombie figures from Rebel minis and paint them up.

We tried a return to Force on Force (aka Ambush Alley, aka Ambush Z) to play out a scene from the popular movie of the time, World War Z.  In a city in Elbonia, overrun by zombies, could US forces defend the fortified wall against an ever growing zombie horde?  Could the "uninfected" locals make it to safety behind said wall?  Would the wall's defenders let them in?

The full blog post is here and more photos are here.


November 2014 - Wings Over Europe - Wings of War

November has become another month of tradition in these parts.  Given Veteran's Day (aka Remembrance Day, aka Armistice Day), we often turn to another simple game to setup and play, Wings of War.

Brian, Chris, Stephen, and I were in attendance and we each dropped down a pair of planes from my collection and flew and fought until there was a clear winning side.

Brian and I flew the Germans while Chris and Stephen flew the Allies. In the end, the Germans held the field, and pretty handidly won the battle, with the loss or departure of all the Allied planes, and no loss (but plenty of damage) to the Germans.

The full blog post is here and more photos are here.


December 2014 - Elsenborn Ridge - Battlegroup

Christmas time means it's also Battle of the Bulge time.  Last year I hosted the game and decided to use a new set of rules, Battlegroup (Battlegroup Kursk, Battlegroup Overlord, etc), published by the Plastic Soldier Company, and written by Iron Fist (Warwick Kinrade).

We used Battlefront 15mm figures in this platoon/company level game, featuring my snowy ridge terrain with a town below.  American forces were dug in on the ridge and German Fallschirmjager and armor attempted to storm the ridge.

A number of lessons were painfully learned and the Axis forces never came close, but since the Christmas ale and holiday cheer was flowing freely, no one really minded. :D

The full blog post is here and more photos are here.


January 2015 - Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

In January, seven gamers turned out to help Brian test a new set of auto racing rules he is writing for Two Hour Wargames.

The game uses your standard Hot Wheel scale cars and a virtual track mechanism, meaning the cars don't move around a physical track, but instead, the cars change position relative to each other.

Brian learned much about his design, about teaching rules to new players, and about the trials and tribulations of playtesting a design in progress.

The full blog post is here and more photos are here.


February 2015 - South France, 1944 - Brigadier General Commands

Daniel has run some great and very original wargames in the past, always based on a historical situation.  This past February was no exception, when he brought out for the first time his 1:285 scale WWII microarmor and taught us all the rules he's been working on, Brigadier General Commands.

Set in the south of France, following the Dragoon assault,  it featured the Allied armies (US and French) attacking towards a major highway, with the aim of cutting a major line of German communication and transit.

Daniel has continued working on the rules, taking into account what he has learned from this and other playtests.  We look forward to continuing the battle in the future.

More photos are here.


March 2015 - A Harrowing Adventure - Aeronef


March saw our fifth birthday celebrated with beer, good company, and our favorite VSF wargame, Aeronef!!

With tensions escalating between Britain and France, over the earlier Majestic Incident, conflict in the colonial regions of the world, where territorial tensions are high at the best of times, led to a head to head battle between British and French Aeronef fleets over the deserts of French West Africa.

Italian, Austro-Hungarian, and Turkish fleets were also in evidence in the region, each with its own agenda, as it was observed that valuable landmarks were in the area, including an ancient temple to Wubakhamun and an R-matter extraction complex.

The full blog post is on the way and more photos are here.


What's Coming in the Next Few Months?

Since March we've experienced a move to a new location, with the closing of Stag's Head.  The Black :Labrador brings us some new challenges, but it remains a centrally located place with good food and beer and plenty of well-lit space.

April saw Ed entertain us with another OGRE game.  May the 4th brought us another chapter in the CR90 X-Wing campaign.  In June we celebrated President Wubaqi's birthday in style along the Elbonian-Garlamistani border.  For July Brian returned us to the racetrack for another playtest of his game design.  Finally, August saw us bring out Sails of Glory and recreate a Napoleonic engagement along the south coast of Guadeloupe.

Coming up the rest of this year we have my Ronin game, for up to six players, which I'm running at BROADSIDE! but plan to playtest this month.  In October we are destined to return to a zombie theme, but no one has yet volunteered to run the game.  November, likewise, should bring us another bout of Wings of War.  Perhaps this year I'll get around to painting my three metal Gotha bombers.  To round out the year, on Monday, December 7th, Rob brings us a Pacific jungle romp with Bolt Action, taking us away from our seasonal love for the Ardennes.

We’ve also got the following wargame conventions to look forward to:

Texas BROADSIDE! 2015, USS TEXAS, October 9-11, 2015

MillenniumCon 18, Round Rock, November 6-8, 2015

That about wraps it up for another year,  See you all around the game table and, remember, keep it simple, fast, and fun!