Houston Beer and Pretzel Wargaming

Beer and Wargaming...Pretzels?...Not so much...

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.

Operation Menace - Battle for Dakar

Posted by Andy on March 17, 2013 at 11:20 PM Comments comments (0)

[Game designed and umpired by Daniel T SHAW at Stag’s Head - Beer & Pretzels Club - 25 February 2013]

My name is Jean du Pont and I’m an able seaman of the French “Aviso” le Commandant Duroc. Aviso is the equivalent of what you English call a sloop, but it can also serve as a mine-sweeper. We’d escaped from France when the Germans invaded and I’d volunteered to continue the fight alongside our friends of the Royal Navy.

On 31st August 1940, we were in the Clyde military dockyards and to a man we cheered General de Gaulle (Andrew) as he boarded the SS Westernland, which we had orders to escort. We sailed in the evening and under the orders of Admiral Cunningham (Andy Bouffard) formed convoy in the Irish Sea. The passage around the North of Ireland was uneventful. It was a beautiful sight, six grand liners, several cargo ships with an escort of a battleship, cruisers and destroyers. Then one morning as we steamed south in the Atlantic, I realised something was amiss as the leading destroyers veered violently: surely a sign that they had detected a submarine. The light signals down the convoy confirmed my suspicions and our captain called us to action stations.

To our astonishment, a huge explosion ripped up on the starboard bow of the Westernland. Perhaps de Gaulle had been unwise to be so public about which ship he had boarded. We could see smoke and another Aviso, the Domine, moved in to assist. Another liner, the Ettrick I think, was also hit by a torpedo and she burst into flames. We were ordered to assist and I really wondered how we could as the fire was spreading rapidly. As we closed, I was sent to man the boats. Over my shoulder I heard the sound of depth charges exploding. Later I would gather the good news that HMS Fortune had sunk an enemy U-Boat right in the middle of the convoy. Sadly, the score was soon to be one a piece as the Ettrick reared up and sank stern first. Few hands and even fewer of the soldiers aboard were saved.

Fortunately, the Westernland had not been seriously damaged and was able to proceed at reasonable speed, certainly enough to keep station in the convoy. Miraculously, on that ship, no one was killed and only a few seamen had suffered minor injuries.


We were joined by reinforcements of the Royal Navy, that had sailed from Gibraltar, including the Arc Royal. After nearly three weeks at sea, we arrived in Freetown. We were given 8 hour passes to explore the town and I was fortunate in the lottery to draw an evening pass, so along with my mates we had good knees up touring several of the bars.


The next day we sailed again and I learnt that our destination was Dakar. It was a misty morning, but I was near enough to the Arc Royal to have a good view of her aircraft taking off. First was a flight of four Caudron C.270 Lucioles. Those little French bi-planes are so unmistakable. Then many Skuas took off.


After the war, I heard the story of what happened to those Lucioles. They landed at an airfield near to Dakar and requested a diplomatic audience with the Governor (Keith Bellman). In fact, the Vichy French were not welcoming and threw them in prison, along with the French Admiral in command of Dakar, Contre Amiral Bourragué (Bill Brenneman) who it seems had been too outspoken with his views to side with us. A similar fate fell to another diplomatic party that had sailed in a small launch under white flag into the harbour.


In the evening, we were briefed that Cunningham and de Gaulle had resolved to take a hard line. During the day, a stern dog fight had taken place over Dakar and, for the loss of 4 Skuas, all of the Vichy aircraft known to be in Dakar had been destroyed. The plan was that an air attack would be launched with Swordfish on the Battleship Richelieu, which was moored in the harbour as a demonstration of strength.


Dawn broke and the battle took many surprising turns. The Swordfish made their runs, but did not score any significant hits. Meanwhile, we were surprised to be attacked by American Glenn Martin 167F bombers, which scored a hit on the aft deck of the Arc Royal, but that hole was quickly patched and the Skuas made amends shooting down or badly damaging all the Vichy bombers. The shock however was a series of torpedo attacks from unidentified submarines. The Arc Royal took two torpedo hits and the Westernland was sunk. Fortunately de Gaulle was on the HMS Barnham at the time, but these losses were enough to convince the Royal Navy that Dakar was not worth a fight and we were ordered to withdraw.


It turns out that the Vichy had sent Amiral Émile Lacroix (Played as a second role for Bill), whose flagship was severely damaged at Mers-el-Kebir and whose nephew died there under the British shelling. It was his determined command that had put the Vichy submarines to the task of disrupting the British fleet.

First Battle of Narvik, April 1940

Posted by Andy on June 7, 2012 at 1:55 AM Comments comments (0)

A special thanks to Ed for authoring the following... 


On May 21st, a week earlier than usual to avoid Memorial Day Monday, a number of us had the GREAT opportunity to enjoy an outstanding naval gaming scenario GM’d by Daniel T. Shaw, of London, England.  The scenario was the British attack upon the fjord/port of Narvik in 1940.  His miniatures (ships) were excellent, but the real treats were the fabulous detailed maps, the visual aids (flags), and the well-researched scenario itself.  We British players were given many opportunities to succeed or fail, based entirely upon our own decisions.  And, our German opponent players kept up their own spirits despite their many setbacks.



I, Edward J. (of Houston), had the privilege of serving with a great team of friends, both old and new.  The five British H-Class destroyers were each commanded by Andy, Barry, Dan, and myself; we were very capably led by our flotilla commander: Capt Hardy.  The Admiralty had assigned our flotilla the task of landing our marine detachments into the port of Narvik and securing the town itself (and it’s no doubt valuable breweries!).


SPOILER ALERT!  Be advised that if you are planning to sign up for this scenario in the future, reading any further will spoil this game for you AND for your team!  Therefore, as Daniel plans to run this scenario again at both Heat of Battle AND Texas BROADSIDE!, if you plan to play this game at one of these two events then read no further.  Otherwise, click here to find out what happened.

Battle of Calabria or The Italian Job

Posted by Rob on January 26, 2012 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Thanks to Joe & Stephen for running a fantastic B&P game night for us this past Monday.

We've decided to switch to the fourth Monday of each month to change things up a bit.  This first outing on a Monday was a resounding success with 12 gamers showing up (record high) and even two lady guests (a record first).

The battle was fun and decisive.  Joe & Stephen setup a historical matchup from the 1940 period in the Mediterranean between the British and the Italians.  As an Italian destroyer squadron commander, I anticipated a short-life expectancy.

I'll leave the battle after action report to others (or see the photo album), but wanted to add some color to the blog for the awarding of highest honors by the Commando Supremo to the Capitan of the destroyer Ugolino Vivaldi.  Capitan Boyardee took his destroyer to point-blank range of British Battleship Malaya at great risk to his ship's olive oil storage locker and delivered a successful torpedo attack which led to the destruction of the Royal Navy's capital ship.  Vivaldi survived the battle, returning to Naples for a long overdue refit of the galley with a new pasta maker.



The play-by-play looked something like this...

32 Italian Vessels and 26 British would begin the battle. Before battles end, 12 Italian and 15 British would join Davy Jones at the bottom of the Mediterranean.


  • Turn 1 - WARSPITE fires at CAESARE at 26000 yds and scores hit! Swordfish Sqdrn chased off by CAVOUR. Smoke laid by multiple DDs.
  • Turn 3 - Wops continue to get pounded...Brits finally lose a DD.
  • Turn 3 - VIVALDI pumps torpedo into MALAYA at point blank range!
  • Turn 4 - MALAYA blasts GARIBALDI to kingdom come at 400 yards!
  • Turn 5 - MALAYA, surrounded by 11 Italian surface units, takes another torpedo from BARBIANO and is finished off by BOLZANO.
  • Turn 8 – Italians achieve MAJOR Victory - WARSPITE riddled by 5 torpedoes from Italian DDs. Sinks like a rock. … Winston will be pissed.


Final Point Total: Italians 185 – Brits 99



We've posted some of the files used to setup and run this game.  Check out the Documents page.