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Mind the Gap, Mind the Gap

Posted by Andy on February 20, 2017 at 2:10 AM Comments comments (0)

There has, unfortunately, been a period of several months over the past year where blog articles haven't been written covering the games we've played at our monthly get togethers.  I only recently (over this past holiday) completed my own after-action report for our July game of Black Ops.

There are a number of reasons for this gap in blog coverage.  Laziness/procrastination on my part, apathy on the part of the other guys who have run games over this period of time, or an uncertainty on peoples part on what to write or how to write it.

So I figured it's now a new year and time to catch up and start 2017 off on a better foot when it comes to blog articles/after action reports.  Therefore, here is a short recap of what happened on our game nights for August through November, 2016.  Following this, I'll write a new article for our Not This Christmas game that was played in December and I'll encourage Rob to write us an article for the CY6 Pacific action we saw at January's game night.  Having skipped February because of OwlCon, that will then see us caught up and ready to go full tilt in March.

Stock Cars: Rubbin' is Racin' - August 2016

Ever wanted to drive a race car? In August you could, when Brian hosted a game of "Win or Go Home", the new rules from Two Hour Wargames (aka: THW Game Design).  In this game you can do whatever it takes to be first under the checkered flag, but be sure not to wreck your car doing it!   You plan your passes, pit stops, and even bumping other drivers who get in the way.  With these rules, you are always part of the race, and are making important decisions every turn.

Unfortunately, there were no photos taken of this event and we're not sure who all was in attendance, but from what Brian has told me, everyone had a good time.



Roman Seas - September 2016

Larry treated us to a first - ancient warfare on the Mediterranean Sea, using his paper biremes and triremes and the Roman Seas rules.  We all gained a new appreciation for this rule set and for this age of sea battles, which saw a lot of the boats coming together, grappling, and divolving into a lot of hand-to-hand boarding actions.  Near the end of the game it really did look like land combat across an archipelego of grappled vessels.  We all had a great time and I look forward to playing this again.

Larry didn't come forth with a blog article but we did take a few cell phone photos and the rest of those can be found here.


Zombie Night - October 2016

We returned to one of our annual themes with a revisit to a possible apocalytic near future with the ongoing zombie outbreak in Elbonia. Following on from last year's adventure, where Dr. Evil and his personal staff had escaped Kantwellabu airport in a commandeered Lear jet, the notorious group now found itself exiting from the crashed plane, not far from a known regional secret lair.

Some of Dr. Evil's staff from the nearby secret lair were out looking for him, with the hopes of escorting him to safety.  Meanwhile, local smugglers and other survivors, and countless zombies, were out in force to try and stop Dr. Evil from reaching his goal.  In the end we all had a fantastic time and, with the aid of some allies, Dr. Evil and several of his henchmen were able to reach the safety of the lair, however, I believe Number One sacrificed himself to make it possible for Dr. Evil to survive.

Rob never wrote up an article after the game, but we took plenty of pictures of the cool looking table and countless undead and they can be found here.

Great War in the Skies - November 2016

Stephen and Joe hosted another yearly tradition - our WWI tribute ala Wings of War.  It was circa November 1916, as we paid homage to the 100th anniversary of the conclusion of the Battle of the Somme.  In addition to the standard rules, we used some house rules that Steve and Joe have used over the years (no infinity clips in your machine gun magazines and you don't have an unlimited fuel supply!).

At one point, after my ally had been shot down, there were three pilots flying against little old me!!  Needless to say, I didn't survive that battle.

No after action blog article was written but nine photos are up here.

The Deal - Black Ops in Elbonia - Part 2

Posted by Andy on August 22, 2016 at 11:10 PM Comments comments (0)


Director Ryan couldn't tear his gaze from his screen. There it was, the early stages of a deal he had been tracking for some time, using various overt and covert sources in Elbonia and elsewhere. The moving images he was seeing were black and white and grainy in places, but he was grateful for any means that allowed him to track what was happening in this Elbonian backwater.


Thank the stars for an old Octagon satellite that was still operational, geosynchronously, over this part of Africa. Part of the Octagon Program of the mid 90's, Octagon 7 should have been retired along with the rest of these older tech spy satellites, but the Agency kept one or two active to cover areas of the world that most folks within the Beltway considered to be too remote or backwards to care about. Elbonia was just one of those places. Ryan was pretty certain that President Wubaqui would take egotistical pride in the fact that a US spy satellite was regularly trained on his country, even if it was a technological relic by today's standards, forgotten by most of the American intelligence community.

The images Ryan was seeing were of a small bridge over a rather insignificant but rather swollen stream some dozen miles outside Kantwellabu. He knew, from the intel they'd been able to collect, the time and place this "deal" was to happen, one of the latest shady deals negotiated by that scumbag Max Killimov. What he wasn't certain about was who was dealing and for what.


Ryan's worst fears were confirmed quickly as he was able to clearly make out US Army issued uniforms on the men on the north side of the bridge. Octagon 7's maximum resolution wasn't going to cooperate with him and afford him the ability to recognize faces or insignia, but he could make out one Bradley IFV and one US Army truck, with what appeared to be a tarp-covered cargo.

It was difficult to get a definite count, but Ryan estimated there were about ten men dressed in US Army uniform. Careful scrutiny of the live video, as it slewed and changed its FOV every few seconds, led him to also estimate a similar number of unidentifiable figures on the other side of the bridge. Their informal dress would have suggested they were rebels or some other para-military or mercenary organization, perhaps local gangers.

It was soon evident that two men were approaching each other, planning to meet half way across the bridge. What Ryan would have given to be the proverbial fly on that bridge. At first the discussion between the two men seemed cordial enough, if body language was any indicator, but it soon became a little more animated. Perhaps there was something about this deal that was off or not going as all parties had planned?

It wasn't long after the two had become more animated when there was new commotion on the US Army side of the bridge. The activity caught the attention of the Octagon 7's delicate, finely tuned, sensors, and the device trained its FOV to focus on this new source of commotion. At that point Ryan, leaning in closer to look at his screen, could just make out what appeared to be three separate groups of new "actors". One group had opened fire from the underbrush and palm groves off to the northeast of the bridge, a second group had opened its assault from a rocky ridge off to the northwest, while a third team appeared from the palms to the southeast of the bridge, to assault some of the "Rebels" taking cover behind field walls.

Zooming in as much as he could, given the 7's older technology, Director Ryan could just make out that the newly arriving teams were uniformly attired and clearly working together. He estimated there were four or five men in each of the three new teams, and their tactics, uniform, and the fact they were here at this place and at this time, led him to believe that these were Elbonian Special Forces, perhaps Wubaqui's fabled Golden Lions themselves.  

The renegade American soldiers and unidentified Rebels were returning fire and seeking what safety they could find behind the walls near the bridge and in the fields covering the bridge. The Bradley appeared to also be gearing up to engage the new force, as its crew quickly buttoned up and started moving their vehicle.

It wasn't long after that that Ryan could see several RPG rockets go off, fired by what he was certain were now Elbonian SOF. One was able to take out the truck but repeated shots directed at the Bradley were ineffective. Several of the Americans were seen to be popping smoke, as they were at a distinct disadvantage, with no eyes and ears nor external support, they were not in a position to withstand a protracted engagement, particularly if the Rebels attacked them as well.

It was at this point that Ryan noticed a new development on the bridge. The "American" negotiater was down, possibly shot, as Ryan just caught a glimpse of his bridgemate lowering a weapon. It seems things had now gotten worse for these renegade US soldiers.

Ryan zoomed out a little to get a larger picture of the action. He could clearly see the "Rebel" on the bridge standing over the "American" and the two Army teams taking cover on either side of the road just north of the bridge. The Bradley was beginning to engage the SOF group closest to it, just as several of the soldiers seemed to realize what had happened on the bridge, and the Rebels seemed newly driven to entrap the Americans and avoid the Elbonian SOF elements altogether.

What Ryan had to respect in these men as the warrior's creed of "never leave a man behind", seemed to drive a couple of the soldiers onto the bridge towards their fallen comrade and subsequently drive the rebel leader off the south side of the bridge and into his own cover.


As the pressure continued to mount on both the Americans and the Rebels, it appeared that both groups had reached the same conclusion at the same time. Cut your losses and bug out. With the Bradley tryng to provide some cover, most of the surviving Americans headed north up the road, only abandoning the Bradley as it finally succumbed to an Elbonian RPG.


Ryan didn't notice what happened to the surviving rebels, as the Elbonian forces were about to swarm the bridge from both sides. He was more concerned about identifying who the Amercian soldiers were and who their leader might be. Unfortunately, the Octagon 7 just hadn't given him enough resolution to postively identify the suspects.

Close to giving up and having to turn to other investigative means to identify who the renegade Americans were, Ryan saw something that tipped him off to their identity, certainly the identity of one of the soldiers... As he was panning the 7 back towards the bridge, Ryan saw movement along the bridge wall at its northwest corner. There, hunkered down, one lone American boy, who had been one of the men who had gallantly rushed the bridge to the aid of a fallen comrade, only to be pinned by intense rebel fire, still clung to his position.

Director Ryan could only imagine what must have been going through that boy's head. Capture, torture, embarrasment for his family, death? But then something happend and, despite knowing that these Americans were criminals and would need to be punished for what they had done, Ryan found himself rooting for this young lad. What the boy did next was remarkable, instinctual, and gave him away to the spying eye of the Octagon 7. The boy quickly shed his helmet, webbing, and shoes, tossed his weapon in the creek, and leapt into the creek himself, even as the Elbonian forces swiftly approached.


From the vantage point of low earth orbit, CIA Director Lawrence Ryan, a former competitive swimmer himself and an ever-avid fan of the sport, knew he now had his man. One stroke, then another, then another, told him everything he needed to know. The technique and rhythm were unmistakable. This wasn't just any young soldier, this was none other than Matthew Jefferson himself, one time Olympic freestyle champion.

Now he had a name... now he would track down and deal with the man responsible for this crime against his beloved country, for leading Matthew and the other once-loyal soldiers astray.

The Broker - Black Ops in Elbonia - Part 1

Posted by Andy on June 22, 2016 at 1:55 AM Comments comments (0)

With practiced speed and agility, Elbonian President Robert Wubaqui rolled off of the cooing twin Swedish starlets, and rose to his feet.  Wubaqui was having a great night (and so too, he was sure, were Greta and Olga).  Just a scant few hours ago he'd received a report that his Elbonian Secret Police (ESP), hot on the heels of recent HUMINT regarding the activities of the notorious black market entrepeneur Max Killimov, had struck with reckless bravado and, in so doing, had secured vital intelligence about the most recent deal arranged by Killimov.

He'd learned that a team of eight ESP agents, including six recruits, had deployed quickly from ESP headquarters in Kantwellabu.  That in broad daylight they had approached the small, inconsequential village of Wehavanoname, 30km outside of the city, under the relative cover of a nearby palm grove.  The briefing he'd received went on to relay how, having spotted a number of Killimov's guards on various roofs, the team leader, Jamal, had ordered two of his men to sprint across the nearby stream ford.  At the same time, Jamal's men had identified another group of armed individuals moving off to the left of them, through the brush.  Several of the ESP agents engaged this group of unidentified combatants, one a female.  

Wubaqui had been so very proud to hear that several of this group, who had clearly been acting unlawfully on Elbonian soil, had been gunned down.  The bodies of these interlopers were later recovered but it has not yet been possible to identify their origins or associations.  The briefing did note, however, that the female had been a looker.

Killimov's roof guards had momentarily turned their gazes away from the stream, allowing Jamal's men safe and unaccosted passage.  The briefing went on to describe how his men had then begun stacking up along a wall they'd reached once crossing the ford.  Scaling that wall together, they'd encountered a lone guard in the yard of a large house and, in a short engagement, finished him off.

From there it was simply a matter for Jamal to slip around and into the house, where he reportedly encountered and gunned down another guard.  A quick search of that building found nothing of interest so Jamal and his remaining men moved up the street to the long building on the left.  As they did, they reported seeing gun fire exchanged between a guard to their right on a nearby roof and what they believed were additional members of the unidentified group they'd encountered earlier, situated further up the street.  A scan of the interior of the long building uncovered several laptops and some additional papers, which Jamal believed belonged to Killimov.

Shortly thereafter, as repeated radio calls had been made for reinforcement, additional national security assets arrived and what was left of the remaining guards were rounded up.  With his photo in hand, Jamal and his men had not identified any of the living or the dead as Max Killimov.  It seemed the bad news had been that Killimov had probably escaped.  There was no further sign of surviving members of the other mysterious team.

As President Wubaqui smiled at his intelligence coup and threw back another shot of tequila, his phone rang.  It was the commander of his secret police.  After studying the intelligence gathered in Wehavanoname, all that they could tell for certain was that the latest deal brokered by Killimov involved the Elbonian Liberation Front (ELF).  His analysts were able to identify a place and a time but could not ascertain who the seller was or what was being sold.  With a sly nod and a wink towards the still writhing Greta and Olga, Wubaqui momentarily returned his attention to the man on the other end of the line and quietly and proudly ordered the activation of Golden Lion Team 6...

Smoking gun dropping to his side, Russian FSB General Bari Brugevich watched as Boris dropped dead to the floor.  With a tortured  glare the General spun around and paced back to his desk.  How could his men have failed?  It was bad enough that he had been running a black FSB operation outside of Russia, designed to keep tabs on Max Killimov, but now to receive the news that his beloved Natasha was lost to him!  Her body now in the hands of those Elbonian pigs!!

Before his sudden and well deserved forced resignation, Boris had reported that he, Natasha, and four of his men had tracked Killimov to the small Elbonian village of Wehavanoname.  Knowing that pressure was mounting to end the Elbonian operation, it seemed a good time to shut down that operation and bring Killimov back to Moscow.  Particularly when Boris and his men had discovered that Killimov was brokering yet another unauthorized deal.

Boris had relayed how the six of them had acted quickly, in broad daylight, to approach Wehavanoname from the northwest, through the cover of a nearby grove of palms.  As they moved towards the village, cutting their way through the underbrush, and closing on a stream they knew was in the area, Boris divided his team.  He and two of his men moved quickly towards the stream as Natasha and two men were a little further south, providing backup.  

Apparently, Natasha's group had been focussed on the village and spotting Killimov's men before they in turn were spotted.  Boris had reluctantly described how he heard gun fire from over his right shoulder and had feared the worst for Natasha and her men  He was uncertain at the time who her assailants had been, but the subsequent rapid arrival of Elbonian national police suggested to him that a unit of Elbonian soldiers must have been in the area.

Boris had reported that he carried on with their operation, despite fearing for Natasha, and had subsequently reached the stream.  Crossing under the cover provided by a cluster of palms on the far bank, Boris and the two men with him crept closer to the northern end of the village.  His two men engaged guards on the nearby roof as Boris himself slipped into a small house.  A quick search had turned up nothing of value, and as Boris exited the building he saw another group of armed men further down the road, towards the south.

Concerned that the Elbonian authorities might have been closing in, Boris had then ordered a withdrawl.  As he and his men were leaving the area, Boris had glanced through the window of a light truck parked nearby.  He smashed the window and stole some folders he found in the back seat, hoping something of interest could be learned from them.

General Brugevich set the still smoking gun down on his desk and looked down at the folders just sitting there.  While this intelligence was slim, it seemed to suggest that the deal Killimov had brokered involved an exchange of drugs for an anti-aircraft weapon system.  Unfortunately, what was not at all clear, were the other details of the deal.  Who were the parties involved, where and when would the deal take place.  Regardless, it was high time to bring Max in for good...

Slamming his fist down on the table, CIA Director Lawrence Ryan couldn't believe Felix had botched his assignment so badly.  He knew Felix was getting close to retirement.  Hell, he was probably well past that point now!  Too many of those cushy Caribbean assignments bailing out that pretentious British MI6 agent.

Felix and his five men had had strict orders.  They were to quickly assail the suspected hiding place of Max Killimov, in the Elbonian village of  Wehava-something-or-other, and secure him for further questioning, while seizing any other intelligence they coud find.  "Quickly" apparently was the part of their orders they hadn't followed.  According to Felix, in his post-mission debrief, he and his men had very caustiously approached the Elbonian village from the southwest, through a grove of dense palms.

Felix had ordered his men to slowly advance through the underbrush.  While this maintained their concealment, it also meant that they were ultimately late to a party that was larger than they expected it to be.  Once they had reached the west bank of the nearby stream, from the cover of the grove, they could make out several of Killimov's guards on rooftops.  They also reported hearing gunfire off to their left, but never got a glimpse of who was firing.

The CIA team reacted when it had heard gun fire.  Using the associated commotion as cover, Felix had ordered the five men to wade across the stream.  Unfortunatley, as Felix retold it, it was just as his last two men were mid-stream when shots rang out and one of his men was hit.  Felix believed it was one of the rooftop guards who'd caught a glimpse of his men.  Despite the risk, Lenny, the team's medic, reacted quickly to try and see to his fallen colleague.  Felix had been visibly moved, then, as he reported how the same rooftop guard had susequently shown no mercy and had cruelly gunned down Lenny as well.

Ryan would have to give Felix credit for pressing on with his plan, despite having two of his men go down.  Having been concerned about his left flank and having heard the gun fire off to his left, Felix ordered suppressing fire to the left as he and his last two men made for the safety of a nearby wall.  Felix reported that as they moved east along the wall, they could hear an exchange of fire from the other side and from the nearby roof.  Suspecting that the gunman who had shot and hit two of his mean was nearby, Felix had led the remainder of his team along the wall, towards the main road.

As two of his men rounded the corner of the nearest building, into the main street, they reported having seen another group of armed men at the far north end of the road, at the other end of the village.  They reported being unable to identify these men, but knew they were engaged with gun men on the roof to the immediate right.  Not long after this, as Felix and his men assessed the current situation, he determined that there was an ever increasing chance that Elbonian police may have arrived on the scene.  Felix, perhaps showing his age, perhaps his seasoned concern for OPSEC, chose to withdraw and evacuate his two wounded from the scene.

While no useful intel was gatthered, what was clear was that the CIA was not the only organization out there after Killimov.  Ryan knew he was onto something, and he was concerned what that something would uncover.  He'd had other intel available to him, and he wasn't happy with what he was seeing.  He also knew it was high time for Felix to finally hang up his secret decoder ring...  


Relieved to still be a free man, Max Killimov handed Josef Fillipov, his local "contractor", a briefcase full of cash.  Business was business.  You could never take it personally.  But Max was understandably a little shaken by what had recently transpired, and the pressure from apparently several quarters had seemed very intense.  

Having been engrossed in his favorite pastime, he'd been unaware of what was happening outside the building he'd been in.  Fortunately for him, he'd heard the commotion outside just in time.  He'd grabbed his gun, run to the back door, slipped out, and was able to make his escape eastward.  Most of his hired guards had either been killed ot captured and he'd had to leave all his belongings behind.  However, in this business, this impersonal world, you learned to travel light,   So apart from some documents and a few other pieces of equipment he'd prefered to have taken with him, he'd been smart and had the most important information in the safest place imaginable, his own head.

Josef had just explained that they'd been simultaneously assaulted from three directions, from what may have been two separate groups.  He recognized the uniforms of the ESP worn by the center group.  He had surmised that the other two teams on their flanks belonged to a single group of civilian agents, who were no doubt supporting the ESP.  Advisors, probably French, was his guess.  Max wasn't so sure.

Briefcase in hand, Josef was turning now, towards the door.  Max thought some more.  How had they found him, he moved all the time?  Were they really part of one large effort to seize him?  He would have thought that perhaps General Brugevich would have been after him, but Elbonian Secret Police?  He'd have to tighten up his own personal security, but he thought it best not to warn the two parties involved in this most recent deal, this breach in his security would not reflect well on his reputation as a discreet broker,  He really needed to tie up the loose ends.

The gun in his hand fired twice, in rapid succession.  Josef crumpled to the floor, one hand on the briefcase and the other hand on the door.

Business was business. You could never take it personally.

We all had a great time trying out Osprey's Black Ops wargame rules, bringing a little more intrigue to modern Elbonia.  This scenario was an adaptation of one recently published in Wargames, Soldiers, & Strategy - the editor of which (Guy Bowers) is actually the author of these rules.  Based on that article, and the campaign system suggested in the rules, I am going to be running the next chapter in this story this month (July), so look for another entertaining blog article soon.

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.