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Zombies Invade the Library!

Posted by BrianW on March 11, 2014 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

After some false starts and missteps, the first game day at the Evelyn Meador library is finally on the schedule.  It will be on March 22, and Greg Burns, the librarian there wants me to run a game of Zombies!  According to him, the library system tries to stay current with trends, and as all gamers know, the zombie craze is still going strong in popular culture.


As of right now, the game day is scheduled to start at 11 AM, and run to whenever.  So, if anyone would like to come out and play along with me and the public, feel free to show up. The address is:


2400 North Meyer Road Seabrook, TX 77586


The link below gives the address, as well as directions:


www.hcpl.net/location/evelyn-meador-branch-library


We don't know yet when the next one will be, or what the game will be, but I promise that there will be more advance notice than this.


BWW


Glorious Out-of-the-Box Sails - February 2014

Posted by Andy on March 4, 2014 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

The members of this club have always been fond of Ares Games' Wings of Glory and Wings of War series, with their pre-painted airplanes and simple, card-driven maneuver and damage chit draw sub-systems. It was thereore natural, when the Kickstarter for their new Sails of Glory was announced, that I had to invest in it. The game and sixteen Napoleonic era pre-painted sailing ships later, I learned the rules and then ran a few test games at home.


Having planned to GM this new game at OwlCon, I was disappointed when someone else beat me to it, volunteering to run the game on Friday night at Rice. Later, when he had to cancel his participation in the con, I jumped at the chance to run the game in his stead.


When planning the early 2014 calendar for the club, and realizing the fourth Monday in February fell immediately after OwlCon, it was natural to pull out this ready-to-run game for our post-OwlCon meetup. Much to my surprise we had a great turn out of gamers for Monday night, February 24th.



In the end we were able to field a total of thirteen ships, including three British first rates and three British frigates versus three French first rates and four French frigates. We used Advanced rules, with a chance for wind change, and each player controlled two ships. This was a knock down fight as both battle lines faced off accross the table. We set the initial wind direction across the width of the table, so neither side started with an unfair advantage, and it wasn't long before both fleets were closing and unloading round shot at each other.


The French line closed on the Brtish line, which was sailing at a 45 degree angle off the bow.  The ships in the middle of the British line were thus able to fire on the lead French ship with relative impunity.  Two flanking French frigates ran either side of the French line to try and mess with British tactics.




The middle of the table quickly became confused as shots were exchanged, most broadsides being loaded with round shot.  Not once in this fracas was a boarding action pulled off, despite a few collisions on both sides.



In the end everyone had a chance to learn the Advanced rules and become familiar with handling their ships.  This game will definitely become an annual fixture in our club calendar as it is simple, fast, and fun, AND filled with a lot of period character and age-of-sail goodness.



GREAT BRITAIN AND FRANCE AT WAR!!

Posted by Andy on March 4, 2014 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (0)

PARLIAMENT CITES MAJESTIC AFFAIRE AS LAST STRAW


By Gerd Maloins, Gross Austrian Gazatte (GAG), 5 March, 1894


Today, Sir Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, was presented to the Queen as the newest British Prime Minister.  In his first address before Parliament, Prime Minister Primrose called for immediate hostilities against France, in continued abhorant reaction to the shameful occasion of the recent French attack upon, subsequent crash, and sinking of the British liner RMS MAJESTIC.




Prime Minister Primrose exclaimed, "The British people have suffered long enough with the abominable behaviour of the French government and France's military elite.  The British people have no issue with the good people of France.  But not since the French Revolution has a French government, a ruling elite, and a military general staff needed to be so badly replaced by the French people.  Never in the history of human endeavour have so many, faulted so few, for so much."


Soon after his speech, Parliament took steps to declare a state of formal war with France, closing its diplomatic offices in Paris, and withdrawing its ambassador back to London.  It is believed the French diplomats in London were also expelled from the proud island nation of Great Britain.


A proponent of a strong Royal Navy, it is believed that Prime Minister Primrose will see the British are moving quickly to ascertain the final resting place of the .MAJESTIC, and to order salvage operations as quickly as possible, before the ravages of the sea can further take their toll on the remains of that once proud British vessel.




Official reaction from governments around the world, concerning the state of war between Britiain and France, were mixed.  United States President Grover Cleveland reportedly shrugged his shoulders and said, "They're always fighting over there.  That's why we left the Old Country."  Unofficial sources in Vienna indicate the Austro-Hungarian government is sympathetic to the British position over MAJESTIC.  In Berlin, the feeling is surprisingly pro-French.  One German government official was heard to mutter somethng about an ignored custom's inspection.


-------------------------------


OwlCon XXXIII gave us a rare opportunity to move our Victorian Science Ficiton (VSF) campaign along, with a sizeable endeavor.  Having acquired Osprey's "In Her Majesty's Name" (IHMN), and a collection of minis for same, while I was at DragonCon in London last December, I decided it would make for a great skirmish option for our otherwise Aeronef-based VSF exploits.  I figured what better way to have our steam punk cake and eat it too then to run Aeronef on one table and IHMN on an adjacent table.  Each game could accomodate four players and the action on one would coincide and be linked with the action on the other.


Our Aeronef game two years ago featured the British, Americans, and Austro-Hungarians in a bit of three way bother.  Specifically, HRH the Prince of Wales was coming to Pearl Hafen, Neu Wien, in the Caribbean.  At the same time, the British White Star liner RMS MAJESTIC was arriving as part of a scheduled and routine cruise.  United States Vice President Levi Morton and his family were aboard MAJESTIC.  The sudden and mysterious death of Morton brought things to a head between the local British escort force, a nearby patrol of US Aeronefs, and the local defenses of Pearl Hafen.


Two years later, after much sabre rattling by Washington and a punitive but half-hearted land ironclad assault on some of Austria-Hungary's Caribbean possesions, American investigations into the cause of Morton's death have led nowhere.  The British are apathetic, at best, putting into immediate question the quality and efficacy of their investigations aboard MAJESTIC.


Then it happened, last month, a mysterious man who calls himself, "The Eagle", contacted the major governments of the world.  Offering to sell to the highest bidder what he promised were earth-shattering secrets concerning the death of Morton, indicating that the information he possesed would unhinge the balance of power in Europe.  Thus, in motion was set the inexorable pendulums of government chicanery, over possesion of the "Morton File".


We deployed a roughly balanced set of four Aeronef forces, in the corners of one table, depicting the open skies and water of the mid-Atlantic.  Each Aeronef fleet commander was handed a one page set of orders.  Those orders were somewhat dependent on the actions aboard the MAJESTIC, which was placed in the center of the table, flying along its route between New York and Paris.




The British were instructed to protect the MAJESTIC from harm, and to do harm if necessary to protect her.  In the opposite corner from the British was the fleet of the United States.


The US received orders to move within visual range of and await a signal from the decks of MAJESTIC.  Upon seeing a green flare fired from MAJESTIC, the US player was to stop MAJESTIC and moor with and board her, to rescue the Secret Service agents aboard.


Between the British and American fleets, in a third corner of the table, were the Austro-Hungarians.  They were ordered to close to observation range and await a signal from the decks of MAJESTIC.  Upon seeing a red signal flare, they were to close with, stop, and board MAJESTIC, to rescue their agents aboard ship.  The fourth corner of the table is where we found the French.




The French had the most outrageous orders.  They were ordered to approach to within visual range of MAJESTIC and await a yellow signal flare.  Upon its appearance, they were to close on and destroy MAJESTIC, no questions asked...




On the other table, four corresponding factions deployed in the four corners of the lower cargo/ballast deck aboard MAJESTIC herself.  They were the hired securtiy consultants of Lord Curr and Company (hired by the White Star Line in the wake of the Morton incident of two years previous) (Northstar minis), a team of United States Secret Service agents led by none other than James West and Artemus Gordon (Foundry minis), a group of Prussian mercenaries hired by the Austro-Hungarian government, to provide them deniability (Brigade minis), and finally, the family of Charles La' Strange of New Orleans, agents provocatuer in league with the French government (Reaper Chronoscope minis).  The premise was that they were all aboard the ship because each of their respective patron nations had gathered independent intelligence that suggested that The Eagle would be aboard and might try and reach a business deal with someone over the "Morton File".




Terrain for the deck table was a combination of Mantic's Deadzone plastic terrain, combined with David Graffam's paper terrain, all on grey felt.  The outer "walls" served as the exterior walls of the ship on this "deck".  Windows in that wall were portholes open to the Atlantic skies.  It was envisioned that this "deck" was a double height deck, with the roofs of the sideline corridors looking down over the center areas of the deck.  Beneath the elevated walkway, in the center of the table and oppostie the port side amidships cargo doors, was the cargo door control room.  That room would play a pivotal role in the game as the four adventuring companies began the game by hearing gunfire emanating from somewhere ahead of them.




Each of the four companies was given verbal instructions.  Lord Curr had orders to simply protect MAJESTIC.  To aprehend or physically stop any trouble makers - basically, just shoot them all.  The Secret Service was there for the "Morton File", with orders to secure the File and then fire a green flare out a porthole and await rescue.  The Prussian contingent was informed that their agent was meeting with The Eagle, in the hopes that he could acquire the File, and that they were there to back him up.  They too were to secure the File and fire a red flare out a porthole, then await rescue.  Finally, Charles La' Strange was told to do everything in his power to secure the File, and failing that, if it looked like he and his family needed assistance, to fire a yellow flare from a porthole...




It really WAS coincidence that the role of Charles and his family fell to my nine year old son and his ten year old friend...  I really TRIED to get the other adults to share a command with the boys... But in their eagerness to play, the two boys just took over five French figures and there was nothing for it but to press on...  One can imagine that when the Aeronef game needed a little "push" on my part, it was a simple matter to whisper to my son, "Do you think its time to fire the yellow flare?"  :)




My first worry concerning running two linked games side by side was trying to GM one or both games while also coordinating the action of the overall experience.  Fortunately, this was resovlved by having Rob and Steve, two experienced Aeronef players, both co-game-master (GM) and play in the Aeronef game, while Bill helped me out as GM for the IHMN game.  Leaving me with the task of coordinating the two games overall.  My other worry was that the two games would get out of sync, because their turn sequences could not be easily coordinated.  I resolved this by letting both games play out at their own paces, while translating cross-table-affecting events whereever in the turn sequences they occured.  For example, if someone shot at MAJESTIC and hit her, I interrupted the IHMN game and had every figure make and pass an immediate Pluck roll or fall down then and there, regardless of which turn or where in the turn that game was.




The Aeronef game went several turns (five I think) before the IHMN players had completed its first turn (due in large part to having many new IHMN players) and the Aeronef players dutifully closed in on the worrying MAJESTIC.  I hadn't anticipated that the French vessels would move so much faster than the other three nations, so before long the French nefs had all but surrounded MAJESTIC, French bombers from their carrier nef buzzing about the MAJESTIC.  Then came the message from the French flagship to MAJESTIC, sent so all in the area could read it:


"MANDATORY CUSTOMS INSPECTION...HEAVE TO AND PREPARE TO BE BOARDED."




To which the captain of MAJESTIC soon replied:


"A MID-ATLANTIC CUSTOMS INSPECTION?  I THINK NOT, SIR."


Meanwhile, over on the cargo deck, the four adventuring companies began moving onto the deck, looking for the source of the gunfire that had opened the game.  The Secret Service and Lord Curr's team seemed to strike an uneasy alliance at first, while the French and Prussian groups at the other end of the deck were more wary of each other.  Initital shots were exchanged at long range, between the French and Secret Service and between Lord Curr and the Prussians.




The boys running the La' Strange family were challenged to know what to do with their figures, and I was too busy to coach them overmuch, so they found themselves in trouble pretty quickly.  Having said that, they did manage to rush Claudette La' Strange forward and she was one of the first to discover two bodies and a satchel in the cargo door control room.  She then became the focus of hostile attention from the other three sides.  As mentioned earlier, it was pretty easy to convince the boys that they might need the help of the French fleet, and I may have gently suggested that they should fire their yellow flare.  After all, I reasoned to my son, "do you think you can grab and hang on to the satchel?"  He wasn't so sure.


That set off Aeronef hell as soon as that yellow flare flew from the port side of MAJESTIC.  Rob, the French nef commander, unleashed all his bombers and shot up the MAJESTIC.  In that one round of shooting the French had effectively destroyed MAJESTIC!  Oops...play imbalance...time to improvise.  Using GM perogative, I decided the MAJESTIC had been damaged to the point of coming to a dead stop and that the R-Matter lift engines had failed.  Thus I announced that the MAJESTIC was starting to settle in the air.  I also had all the IHMN figures check Pluck to avoid a fall to the ground.  Claudette La' Strange failed and fell, then spent several turns trying to stand, quite unsuccessfully, all while others tried to shoot her!




Once the French had fired like that on MAJESTIC, the other three fleets began opening up on the French.  At that point the French decided the MAJESTIC had taken enough damage, and there was always time to finish her off, so the French began defending themselves.  My son was a little upset that French reinforcements weren't on their way...I'm so evil...  


Over on the IHMN table, Bill began independently improvising and having sections of the deck collapse/explode as secondary damage rippled through MAJESTIC.  The Prussian commander in IHMN managed to grab the satchel from a fallen Claudette and he began scrambling for the exit.  Then he fell the next time MAJESTIC was hit.  The Secret Service player soon decided he'd better fire his green flare, in the hopes that the "cavalry" would come in response.




Chris, the Austro-Hungarian nef commander, having not seen the hoped for red flare, decided he'd ignore the French and attack MAJESTIC!  I guess he didn't want anyone to find the "Morton File" either.  What he didn't know was that the Prussian mercenaries had control of the satchel and hadn't remembered to fire the flare!!  A little reminder from me prompted them to do that and I thought we had the makings of an Austro-Hungarian overall victory, but as the red flare flew from the ever-settling/sinking MAJESTIC, Chris opted to ignore it and continued firing on MAJESTIC!




This caused more falls on the cargo deck and, soon later, we had the MAJESTIC hit the water.  I then had everyone in the IHMN game make a Pluck roll to continue in the game, ruling that a failure would indicate that person had been incapacitated for the remainder of the game.  Several failed and were eliminated, reducing the numbers on all sides.  Then the flooding started.  Each turn we had water rushing in to the cargo deck from the hull sides, four inches a turn, increasing to five inches a turn when the Austro-Hungarian nefs hit the MAJESTIC for one more point of damage.  Anyone in the water was washed away and eliminated from the game.  The only exit we allowed was to the center of the deck, up the ladders to the overhead catwalk, then out the forward or aft ends of the catwalk.




On the other table, the French nefs continued to take a beating and began to withdraw when they saw that the MAJESTIC was in the water and quickly sinking.  The British had begun rescue efforts and had begun targeting the Austro-Hungarians, while chasing the remainder of the French force off.  The Austrians continued in their attacks on MAJESTIC and even lashed out at the United States nefs.  That would not bode well for post-MAJESTIC relationships between those two nations, a relationship that was already extremely delicate.  Finally, the US player closed on MAJESTIC to try and rescue the Secret Service, without realizing that none of the Secret Service were still in the other game!




The flooding had taken its toll and like rats on a sinking ship, the remainder of the adventuring companies began running for the ladders, while still shooting at each other!  The Prussian player had to make the tough choice.  One of his troopers had the satchel, but was on the ground.  Rolling Pluck to stand up would cost an action/turn.  Having the nearby Prussian soldier, still on his feet, rush over and pick up the satchel would also cost an action/turn.  In either case the flooding waters would wash that person away.  Thus, just as the water reached the foot of the catwalk ladder, the last French figure (Jean Taureau) had clambered up and the Prussian clutching the satchel, presumably containing the "Morton File", was washed away.  The sole survivors then were four of Lord Curr's men, two of the La' Strange clan, and two of the Prussian contingent.  None of the Secret Service made it to the catwalk!




Overall, it was a wonderful adventure and I think everyone had a great time.  It neatly sets up our next chapter in the saga, to be played in April at the Stag's Head.  My thanks to Rob, Steve, and Bill for helping me GM, and to all the players for giving it a go and being patient with the setup.

Grieving Over Blown Bridges

Posted by Andy on March 4, 2014 at 2:05 AM Comments comments (0)

I call myself a wargame facilitator.  What can I say, I love organizing games and events for others to enjoy.  I think it started back in the day when I'd rather be "Dungeon Master" over "Dungeon Explorer".


I work hard to organize and prepare a fun game for those who choose to play in one of my events.  And when its over, I breathe a sigh of relief, hoping that everyone had as much fun playing, as I had in game mastering.


When the latest game is over, I relax a little, and start thinking about the next event.  Which means many times I find myself temporarily burnt out, and subsequently unable to find the energy or desire to take the time and write a proper after-action report for this site...


That's my excuse, and I'm sticking too it...


But it doesn't bode well for a site that needs new blog entries for visitors to read, to keep them coming back to these pages...so...I'm sitting down tonight...and catching up on some blogging.  Hopefully these articles will give folks out there something interesting to read, and provide a little recorded history for our  informal game club, so we can look back a year or two from now and say, "oh, THAT's what we were playing in 2013 and 2014".



Last December was the last game I ran that needs an after-action report, so what better place to start on this cold March night then to recap our simulation of those cold Belgian battlefields of 69 years ago.  Using Bolt Action, a large group of us, including Rob and his dad, John and his son, Brian, Matt, Chris, Stephen, Kurt, and my son, got together to recreate the iconic scene from The Battle of the Bulge, where several Operation Grief German commandos, dressed as American MPs, are confronted by a US tank crew and a nasty firefight soon commences.


We were able to use my figures, Kurt's Fallschirmjager, and his armored vehicles, together with my forest/road/river terrain and his ruined buildings.  All told I think the table looked pretty good.  The game began with the disguised German squad in the center of the table, just across a bridge, facing a single Sherman tank.  The remaining forces on each side entered out of reserve, including two Panthers and a German track and some FJ, and two more Shermans and more US infantry.




The German side got bonus VP for exiting forces off the Allied end of the table.  Both sides got standard VP for killing each other's units.


The terrain was dense and led to lots of cover for the infantry.  The tanks pretty much stayed to the roads and the Panther's made pretty good work of the Shermans, as to be expected.  The Germans tried a flanking move across the cemetary and fields, but in the end the Americans were struggling to hang on to the buildings on the very edge of the table.  The victory pretty easily went to the Germans, and everyone seemed to have a good time.  If we run this scenario again we'll have a better idea about tweaking it to make it more playable and more enjoyable.




As always, Rob provided some great post-event feedback, which I am including here so we don't lose the "paper trail" on stuff like this.


Things we got right:

 

  • "Assault of vehicles w/ SMG/shotgun does not get you two attacks. p. 50"
  • "Measure from muzzle of tank guns for range. p. 80"
  • "Small arms fire against that half track worked exactly right. p. 98"

 


Things we got wrong:

 

  • "Side armor for vehicle shots is a 45deg arc to either side of front, not a 180 front facing. We have to re-train our FoW thinking. I think both sides missed a lot of flank shots due to our misunderstanding of this rule. p. 84"
  • "Enter buildings at a run, not advance. This seems strange and we could house-rule that advancing into a building is ok, but as written its a run order only. p. 100. Note you can exit a building at advance or run. p.101 I'm trying to make sense of this but that's how it's written. I think it allows you to enter buildings faster. We should just play as written and get used to it."
  • "Assaulting into a building- we got this totally wrong last night, probably to the German's disadvantage. I blame last-turn/late night fatigue. p. 104 shows how to do it. The entire squads fight even though it's only one window. Makes it more bloody/decisive. The German squad could've thrown a lot more dice than the small US squad in the building and probably won that fight."

 


Changes to the scenario for future running:


"US reinforcements: Make it more random. Have the US roll each turn on a pool of tanks, artillery barrages, or bazooka armed recon units. Make a basic table to fit what you have available for the game and give one option for 'no support this turn' and another for 'US player chooses' on the extremes of the chart. This would be more of the penny-packet flavor that the Bulge was than a rush of US support flooding in on turn 2. Advantage to US is that they can respond to the German attack axis with reinforcements instead of early committal of assets like last night. The US squad in the woods and at least one US tank were totally out of position to counter the German attack on the opposite side. Having delayed reinforcements would help this. Would also allow the Germans to close the range and get into a point blank fight at the high tide of the assault - good drama."

 



All in all I'd say a fitting end of 2013.  We'll no doubt return to the Ardennes next December, and return to Bolt Action as well.  Rob and I are already planning.  I'll try extra hard next year to avoid the post-game-the-holidays-are-upon-us doldrums and get the after action report written in a more timely fashion. :-)

A Belated January Report

Posted by BrianW on February 19, 2014 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

For January, the club took part in the India-Pakistan War of 1965, thanks to the Crisis in Kashmir! scenario book for CY6JA, and my airplanes. The scenario was entitled, “Breaking the Sabre,” and recreated a fighter sweep by Folland Gnats of the Indian Air Force (IAF) against missile carrying F-86 Sabres and F-104 Starfighters of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF).


 


At the beginning of the scenario, things looked pretty grim for the PAF. With only two Sabres on the board, they were facing a total of seven Gnats. To make things worse, the PAF players were sandwiched between the three Gnats they were ambushing and the four Gnats that were ambushing them! While the PAF could expect reinforcements in the form of a single F-104 later in the game, it looked like that might be a long time in coming. The IAF did not have everything its own way, however. The Folland Gnat suffered from problems with its guns, maneuverability at high speeds, a short amount of time to spend on the board and poor visibility. Or, in the words of one CY6 Jet Age player, “the Gnat’s a piece of junk, but it’s a fun piece of junk.”




The game turned into a twisting furball almost immediately, and any idea of aircraft staying in pairs for maneuver went right out the window. Even though the PAF Sabres had Sidewinder missiles, none were fired during the game. There were a number of reasons for this; the range was too close, the Sabres were busy doing special maneuvers and the IAF pilots seemed to delight in making head-to-head attack runs. The power of 6 x .50 caliber HMGs would not be denied though, and the IAF lost two Gnats. The PAF pilots seemed to be extraordinarily lucky, especially when one Sabre was attacked by three Gnats, and none of them hit. Numbers would tell though, and by the time the PAF Starfighter arrived, one of the Sabres had been damaged. Although designed as an interceptor rather than a dogfighter, even the Starfighter managed to get a gun kill on a Gnat during the battle. It still wasn’t enough though, and at the end of the game there were three IAF Gnats shot down, but both of the Sabres were shot down as well, with none of the PAF pilots surviving. That, along with the remaining Gnats returning safely to base, was enough to give the IAF a razor-thin victory. The final score was 14 IAF victory points to 13 PAF victory points.



 

Upcoming events on the Southeast side of town

Posted by BrianW on October 16, 2013 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

A couple of months ago, I was approached by Greg Burns, a librarian with the Harris County Library System.  He wants to set up a display with wargame miniatures in the Seabrook branch of the library during the months of November and December.  The library has a locking display case that measures 57" H x 134" W x 17" D.   The idea is to set up a display called "From History to Hobby" and showcase miniatures and books that compliment them.  So, if anyone has some minis that they would like to show off to someone other than ourselves, here is your chance!  To give you a idea of this display case, here's a picture:

Also, he would like to try and get some miniatures gaming going at the library.  He wants to get area kids to do something more than just stare at computers all day, and thought this might be a good way of going about it.  He has offered the use of a conference room that is almost large enough to hold a mini-convention in and has over 100 chairs available along with quite a few 3x8 tables.  The idea would be to hold regular meetings there, and use it as a way to generate interest in our hobby.  It would also be a far better place to game in the summertime than my garage is.  My current plan is to try and hold a meeting there either once a month or once every other month.

If anyone has minis they would like to have displayed, please bring them to the October B&P meeting, and I will pick them up from you there.  Also, if you'd like to assist in one of the upcoming game days, please let me know.

Thanks,

BWW

SALUTE Patrol Report

Posted by Rob on September 29, 2013 at 11:45 AM Comments comments (0)

From:  1st Squad, 1st Platoon Co B 1/7

To:  C.O. B Co. 1/7

  • Size - Reinforced infantry platoon
  • Activity - Patrolling N toward Co B lines
  • Location - Map Grid L-4 or L-5, Dir S, enemy main line of resistance.  2 bunkers
  • Unit - elements of Oka Brigade
  • Time - 0745-0830 local
  • Equipment - 1 Heavy Machine Gun, 4 Light Machine Guns, standard infantry small arms


Enemy Main Line of Resistance spotted and marked.  Friendly casualties KIA, WIA, and MIA.  Full report ASAP.  Enemy casualties:  KIA 5 squads.  No enemy prisoners.


I'm getting too old for this sh$t

Posted by Rob on July 19, 2013 at 7:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Personal Blog entry of Manuel Exposure - WWF Photojournalist

June 24, 2013

Living in Elbonia for the last 20 years, I have seen the outlook on the wildlife here go from rather hopeful to incredibly dismal.


By the mid-2000s—shortly after Elbonia fell into despotic rule under General Wubaqi—wildlife numbers of lions were of typical sub-saharan levels in many communal areas. But since the Elbonian government began state sponsored lion hunts, the depletion of these animals has been amazing. Elbonia now has the smallest population of indigenous lions in the world.



This deplorable condition has all been possible due to Elbonia’s lack of vision for conservation and total disregard for the importance of engaging communities in conservation. The government has ignored multiple non-governmental organizations’, including WWF, call to create a national community-based natural resource management program. In fact, efforts to jointly assist communities in forming conservation areas to manage and benefit from their wildlife have been thwarted at every turn by bureaucratic harassment and continued demands for extra ‘permits’ and payments for non-judicial administrative judgments. Finding it impossible to meet this legal criteria, it becomes necessary to appeal to the world community to recognized all branches of government in Elbonia as a public enemy of conservancy.


With government owned game reserves covering 38 million acres, Elbonia has become a conservation disaster that motivates countries and communities around the globe to cry out on behalf of the lions. Twenty different countries have sent delegations to come and protest Elbonia’s practices and failures.


One of the most abyssmal visits was a high-ranking delegation from Garlamistan. It was remarkable to sit in the constitution room at parliament and hear our Elbonian hosts so proudly tell their guests about how important it is to create a constitution that incorporates sustainable game management of the environment and proactive engagement with communities. “After all, if we didn’t hunt the lions, they would just in turn hunt us. It’s a quid-pro-quo you see” stated the Under-minister of Ministries Kidd Rockus. When the Garlamistani delegation pointed out that the lions in Elbonia were on the verge of extinction, the Under-Minister commented “We will just breed or buy some more, what do they take, a few months/years before we can hunt them? There are plenty of Zoos who will sell their lions for a good price. Besides, what do you berry gatherers know anyway?  Gunga ga loonga, isn’t that a word in your language?”.


It’s very depressing to watch the transformation in how people value wildlife in Elbonia. Wildlife, once perceived as a valuable asset to peoples’ livelihoods to be used for tourism, is increasingly being viewed as a detriment useful only to attract big game hunters. One can see peoples’ mindsets incrementally shift; they start to think that wildlife is not worth something and that it’s ok to be hunted for sport by the state.

An example of this is the recent secret Great Lion Hunt where over 20 lions were slaughtered for pleasure by international hunters on motorcycles, offroad land cruisers, and even an armoured vehicle with helicopter gunship support in northwest Elbonia. If you approached the game reserve, Elbonian Army units would not let you pass stating the reserve was closed for “Executive Training Maneuvers”.



We offered to provide half the money to buy the lions’ lives and secure their release before the hunt. After two hours of discussion, the Army’s representatives took our money told us to leave. That was a huge demonstration of their attitude shift. Not only did they condone killing the lions for sport, they now were willing to confiscate NGO money with total disregard to the lives of the lions.


Working for WWF and being involved in this kind of work is incredibly dangerous. I doubt there's any other place in the world where I could have so little impact or satisfaction from a job. This place is hopeless from a conservationist view. I’m packing my things and leaving on the next boat or flight out, back to Sevilla.

Attention to Orders

Posted by Rob on June 2, 2013 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (1)

ATTENTION TO ORDERS: THE PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL, ACTING UPON THE RECOMMENDATION OF THE MINISTER OF DEFENSE, HAS PLACED SPECIAL TRUST AND CONFIDENCE IN THE PATRIOTISM, INTEGRITY, AND ABILITIES OF LIEUTENANT FIRST CLASS REUVAN ROZEN.  IN VIEW OF THESE SPECIAL QUALITIES, AND HIS DEMONSTRATED POTENTIAL TO SERVE IN THE HIGHER GRADE, LIEUTENANT FIRST CLASS ROZEN IS PROMOTED TO THE GRADE OF CAPTAIN, ISRAELI AIR FORCE, EFFECTIVE THE 8TH DAY OF JUNE, NINETEEN HUNDRED SIXTY-SEVEN, BY ORDER OF THE COMMANDER IAF.

As I heard these words, I thought back on the mission that I had narrowly survived.  What a cluster...  There were 8 of us that went in.  It was supposed to be a 'milk run' to hit some of the Egytian troops near Refidim.  This was the third day of Operation Moked and we were winning!  What happened?  I never saw such good flying by the Egyptians.

Everything was going fine. Giora said this would be a great day to get some more kills.  Oh Giora, what happend?  It must have been the shrapnel wound he had only two days ago.  Made him a little crazy.  The Commanders loved him, we all loved him.  A true natural pilot and oh how he could fly.

105 Squadron's Super Mystere's went in first, dropped their bombs and got some hits.  One of the Super Mysteres got dropped by some AAA right away.  That should have told us this was not going to be our day.  Then some MiGs popped up, perfectly bracketing 105 Squadron to the front and rear.  One of the 105 squadron pilots shouted out that he recognized them as the newer MiG-19 types right before he fire-balled from a deflection shot.  No chute.

Giora led our section of Mirages into a power dive to assist our attack pilot brothers.  He said to ignore the ground targets and to get some MiGs roundels painted onto our aircraft.  Oh he was so confident yesterday.  I pulled in behind him and was shocked when suddenly, a fireball from his aircraft and then he was gone....  The MiG that got Giora immediately fireballed too when Giora's wingman took him out with a savage scream over the radio.  We were all stunned at that point.

But there were still MiGs all over, and the Super Mysteres were running for home with MiG calls cluttering the radio.  One by one I saw the rest of 105 Squadron go down.  Avi and I pulled Immelmans over the top of Giora's smoking grave and ran for home using all our afterburners and diving to the deck.  Two MiG-17s came after us with similar moves and took shots until they probably ran out of ammunition.  I was upset that we were running but silently agreed with Avi this was the time to egress and fight another day.  Avi did not make it.  The MiGs choose to concentrate on him.  No chute.  I mourn for you Avraham. Why you and not me?  Giora...  105 Squadron friends...  As the triple silver Captain bars are pinned on, I wonder what is the next mission for me?  Will I meet those same Egyptians the next time up?  Who were they?  How were they so well trained?

***************************************

We had a great crowd out last month for a continuation of the Six Day War mini-campaign from the CY6 book Star and Pyramid.  Nine pilots took to the skies and Andy's buddy, Andrew, took some amazing photos with the best lighting equipment and camera we have ever seen.  All pilots quickly mastered the mechanics and we got down to it.  Scenario was Giora's Shahak from the S&P book.  It's a cool scenario, basically an egress game with the attack pilots dropping bombs on Turn 1 and then trying to escape with escort fighters coming in to help.  I doubled the ground targets, defenses, attack, escort, and intercepting pilots as we basically had twice the number of players as the original scenario calls for.  AAA fire was incredibly accurate, getting a quick kill, and then started shooting solely at Egyptian aircraft but luckly for them missing from then on.  The MiG dice were hot as witnessed by a green MiG-19 flaming veteran Giora Ram in a head-to-head shot.  If you play this game enough you will eventually see almost anything possible happen.  Unfortunately the victorous Egyptian MiG pilot did not live to celebrate his kill. 

Score of the game was 44-8 in Egypt's favor, mainly due to the high points for aircraft kills (Giora's alone was worth 12 points).  Current campaign score after 4 games is 74-31 in Egypts favor again.  This Six Day War may have a shorter duration. 

Another bonus discovery during our game is that Steven H. has an amazing painted aircraft collection.  He said his best paintbrush is his credit card!  We decided to try Yom Kippur War or Iran/Iraq in our next Jets outing with his aircraft to move the weapons technology forward and try out some radar missiles and ECM.

Looking forward to the next modern-Africa outing in the Wubaqi Chronicles later in June.



Third Time's the Charm

Posted by Andy on May 17, 2013 at 1:00 AM Comments comments (1)

That's right, all you wargamers and beer aficionados out there, its our third annual year-in-review. We've recently celebrated the third anniversary of what Rob first conceived of three years ago, back when we started meeting occasionally in Asgard's back room, to drink beer and play a multiplayer, simple, fast, and fun wargame, and have a good laugh or three while doing it.


Some of our 2012/2013 gaming has been light hearted, some has been more serious. We've explored the what-ifs of managing a modern urban and industrial crisis, the frozen fjords of WWII Norway, tongue-firmly-in-cheek modern war-torn Africa, and a fair bit of far future science fiction gaming as well, plus a whole lot more.


So here it is, a brief recap of what we played over the last 12 months, with links to the full after-action reports and photos if you are interested in seeing more.


April 2012 - We're Not in Good Shape Anymore


Stephen provided us a rare treat back in April.  A chance to use a model of a real Texas port and surrounding industrial and residential areas, to run through the kinds of exercises real emergency management and homeland security officials run through.  Stephen created some threats and disasters, provided the players (who had each assumed  typical roles) limited intelligence and an evolving situation, and watched with glee as we muddled and mangled our way through, unwittingly, in trying to deal with the challenges and always insufficient resources and information at hand.  Not to mention the politicing and finger pointing.  All good fun.




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


May 2012 - First Battle of Narvik


In May Daniel treated us to an operational recreation of the first battle of Narvik, when the British Admiralty sent a destroyer flotilla and small invasion force to recapture Narvik.  Without benefit of having read up on the real battle, those of us commanding the British ships weren't fully informed as to what to expect.  A German U-Boat and a mix of international shipping later, not to mention stronger German naval forces than expected, didn't result in too much success for us Brits.  Still, quite a bit of German shipping was hit and sunk or damaged in Narvik's harbor.




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


June 2012 - Return to Elbonia


In June I brought the group back to fictitious modern-day west Africa, with Force on Force, where a very public meeting in the cosatal town of  Kamsar, between Elbonian President Wubaqi and officials from B'Eano and the US engineering firm Bellihurton, quickly led to bloodshed.  Quick thinking by Daniel Wubaqi, son of the President and commander of the Elbonian Army unit securing the coastal town of Kamsar, saved the day, in fiery and explosive fashion.  Needless to say new enemies and new friends were made in the streets of this Elbonian town.  We'll continue the tradition of celebratng Rob's birthday every June with an ongoing story arc in his adopted "home country".




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


July 2012 - WWII Wings Over The Desert

 

Eagles flew over the sand in Check Your Six! action, hosted by Rob and Sandy, but no after-action report was ever filed, funny enough. Shame on you Robert!.




More photos can be found here.


August 2012 - They Have Another Plan


Having gone to Millenniumcon in the Fall of 2011, Rob came back with a new passion, and a lighter wallet.  Battlestar Galactica.  With he and Sandy launching a new "subsidiary" (Space Junk), what better way to advertize their new products than by running a game for a bunch of friends.  I'm personally sorry I missed this one, but it looked and sounded like a lot of fun,  While Galactica bit the big fiery dust ball in space, that gorgeous Commander Cain and her Pegasus are still out there...and so are the Cylons... 




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


September 2012 - No Game


While Labor Day and other obstacles prevented us from gaming in September, our second annual convention, Texas BROADSIDE! 2012, did take place over a three day period aboard USS TEXAS in early October, and it was very successful!




More photos of the convention are here.


October 2012 - See What You Can Do, R2


Rob returned us to a science fiction theme when he brought out another recently acquired game, the new Star Wars space combat miniature game.  Simple, fast, and fun pretty much sums this one up and it makes another great Beer and Pretzels style game.  Rob and a couple of others spent the evening playing through two pretty basic games, but in so doing learned the rules well which paved the way for what happened in January...




The full blog post is here.


November 2012 - HG-84 Keeps Sailing (and Sinking)


Begun by me way back in May 2010, the saga of  British convoy HG-84, which historically sailed from Gibraltar to Liverpool way back in May 1942, has been an ongoing campaign, featuring six sessions now over the last few years as the convoy makes its way across the eastern Atlantic.  Episode six of this adventure was held this past November, using a slightly tweaked version of Mal Wright's Convoy tactical rules.  The u-boats of wolf pack Endrass continued to plague the convoy, as they sent MV EMPIRE CONRAD to the bottom and a sailing accident claimed the life of MV SHETLAND too.




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


December 2012 - Buchholz Station


Another recurrng theme during the year is to hold a winter battle in... wait for it... winter!  That theme was revisited in December as we continued to move through the early hours and days of the Battle of the Bulge.  This year I hosted a recreation of the action around Buchholz Station, when German volksgrenadiers unexpectedly encountered some breakfast eating GIs and all hell broke loose.  This action seemed to center around killing or protecting a single M3 halftrack.  We used the increasingly popular Bolt Action rules to play this game, in 28mm, and the whole Christmas party was very well attended.




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


January 2013 - Deposit Confirmed


In January Rob brought us back to a galaxy far far away.  Apparently short on Imperial Credits, Boba Fett was on a mission to deliver valuable intelligence to Imperial authorities in exchange for a huge payout.  In this Star Wars miniatures battle, Boba chose the oddest of places to make this transaction, the edge ot a remote asteroid field.  Needless to say, asteroids and TIE fighters don't really mix, however in this case apparently the Force was truly with the Dark Side as the Imperial players well and truly bested the Rebels.  No doubt we'll see plenty more Star Wars action in 2013, now that a certain Correlion transport, TIE interceptors, and TIE bombers have been released as new toys.




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


February 2013 - Operation Menace


Daniel brought us back to the taffeta with a recreation of the 1940 battle for Dakar.  Using his own rules to guide us, we were presented with a British force of warships and support ships with orders to call for and then accept the surrender of the French fleet in the North African port of Dakar.  A rather proud French commander was going to have none of it.  With some British envoys held prisoner and the subsequent Brtish reprisal air strikes on the harbor only serving to embolden the French, the game pretty much followed historic lines with the British being unsuccessful in being able to carry out their orders and, in the end, sailing away pretty much unsatisfied.




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


March 2013 - Rome is Not Burning


We followed a trip to WWII Africa in February with a visit to Rome in the far future in March.  Ogre miniatures is a system we visited in the first few months of our club's existence, so revisitng the system was long overdue.   This time it was Ed, who in his debut as club GM ran a futuristic battle, of ogreish proportions, which saw the Vatican Guard in action, defending the Eternal City against Combine aggresion.  After much carnage and a little bit of glory, the game was called a Pan European victory, for despite an absence of white smoke from the Vatican chimney, it was clear that Rome was safe for yet another day.  




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


What's On The Horizon?


So there you have it.  Another year in the proverbial can, with new faces as well as old.  What do we have to look forward to?  Here is what's coming up in the next few months...

 

  • This month Rob brings us back to the Sinai, to pick up where we left off in some desert jet action with Check Your Six!: Jet Age.
  • In June we celebrate Rob's birthday with a return to Wubaqi's Africa.  A little Force on Force that will get the lion's share of attention at Stag's Head.
  • In July Brian will return, after a year's absence as a GM, to run our first Bag the Hun game, as we return to the air for some East Front dogfight action.
  • In August HG-84 will return for episode seven.  Maybe the convoy will get lucky this time, but I kind of doubt it...
  • In September, rather than book the space for the end of the month, I have reserved the Oak Room for September 16th, the eve or Operation Market-Garden.  I'll be hosting a recreation of the fight for the Arnhem bridge, using Flames of War.
  • The weekend of October 4-6 sees us running Texas BROADSIDE! 2013.  I invite you all to consider serving as a GM or attending as a gamer, to support our ongoing annual fund raising efforts, to help preserve Mighty T.  We also have a late October game night planned but currently do not have a particular game scheduled.
  • In November we have an open game night as well, with no particular game planned as of yet.
  • To wrap up the year, we'll return to Belgium and I'll use Bolt Action to recreate the work of Skorzeny's GI disguised commandos in the Battle of the Bulge.
Where you see an open game night on our calender, please consider stepping up and running a game.  You know what we are all about.  It's your call when it comes to what game you want to run, so long as it follows out three basic tenets.  So remember, always try and keep it:



Simple!

Fast!

and Fun!


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