Category Archives: NOVAG

NOVAG’s Winter Game Day, 29 Jan 2017, Centreville VA


(Note: I have some reports that the inline pictures are not viewable on this post.  They are to me, that’s a little mystifying, but it might be a permissions issue– I’m using Google Photos instead of Flickr for this post.  Here is a link to every picture I took, which is public: https://goo.gl/photos/3GzUcNgKknah5hFQ9)

Today was NOVAG’s Quarterly Game Day (Winter 2017) held as usual at the Centreville Library. This is the big meeting room facility at the library and it can hold roughly 9 setups for miniatures games, roughly equivalent to a 5 x 8 table at a convention (somewhat smaller). This gameday was fairly well promoted on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere and attendance was fantastic– every table had something on it and every game ran the length of the gameday (pretty much), from about 1 to 5.


Ron Prillman Routs some Russians. I think.

I’ve posted the PEL elsewhere, and every game but two (the Space Hulk and Russo-Polish game) was played.


Okay, maybe it was some Americans.


… and Dave Luff is astounded at the results!!

Jason Weiser runs his game with Mike Pierce in the background. Okay, yeah, it was Eastern Front. The green paint job fooled me.

This was Battlegroup World War II “The End of the Iron Dream”.. looks like everyone enjoyed themselves. I like the fire effect Jason was using with a flickering tea lamp under the smoke cloud.

Peter Schweighofer was there with his new rule system aimed at kids, Panzer Kids Deluxe. This looked like a blast from where I was sitting. Tons of kids at this game con, this is a great sign!

Brian Dewitt, kind of an iron man of running games at cons and gamedays, took a break from Chariot Racing and Ancient Galley Warfare, to make a game about Medieval Siege Warfare, the Siege of Skipton Castle.  I like Siege games, for some reason– and this looked like it was a hit with the younger set.

There was also a modern game of Force on Force going on in the corner, called The Battle of Yampil.  This was run by the Byrne brothers and seemed sparse in infantry and dense in armor vehicles.

Elsewhere, Roy Jones ran Sword and the Flame (Sand Dunes of Zwarfontein) NOVAG’s own Tim Tilson ran a War of the Austrian Succession game (15 June 1746. Piacenza), and Dennis Wang reran his cool variant of Air Force / Dauntless that used a tablet client to make moves. It’s a fun game, more on it here.

What was I doing?  Oh, I was busy.  I actually came to play in Dave Markley and John Koprowski’s Russo Polish War game, which is a favorite period for me.   They had cancelled but that was fine– as I came in I noticed Mark Fastoso, a GM I associate with running historical games, had set up a Napoleonic skirmish game using many Alternative Armies FLINTLOQUE game figures and DRAGON RAMPART (modified for Napoleonics) as the rules.  I asked if had space, he said “sure, wanna play?” and I said “I”m In!”.   This proved to be a good time– first time for me using both Flintloque miniatures (which are charming!) and the Dragon Rampart rules, which make total sense to me and are a blast.  Bear with, here on the many pictures of this game, this is where I was for most of the day and I only nicked off to snap a few of other games now and then.

See the rest of them here in this GOOGLE PHOTOS album!

I tried Facebooking live on here which I posted publicly to the Facebook Alternative Armies group in three parts: ONE TWO THREE (I made this public share specifically so it could be viewed by everyone).

and compiled it all here on a YT, but it’s kind of small:

In summary, a great time and it’s always fun catching up with people you don’t see that often, even locally. Kudos to the organizers, another fun event.

NOVAG/Potomac Wargamers Winter GAME Day 2017 Primary Events List


NOVAG Game Day will be on 29 January 17 at the Centreville Library, Centreville, VA

Administrative Details:

Winter Game Day will be held on Sunday January 29, 2017 starting at 1:00 p.m. at the Centreville Library.  The library is located at: 14200 St Germaine Rd, Centreville VA 20121-2299  (roughly I-66 and US 29).  The Library phone is 703-830-2233. This event is free.  The library opens at 1:00 for players. GMs may enter the side door starting at 12:00 noon.

GAME TITLE:  Siege of Skipton Castle
GAME MASTER:  Brian De Witt
PERIOD:  Medieval
SCALE:  25mm
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 8
RULES:  Home

GAME DESCRIPTION: Bring your ladders, catapults, rams burning oil and rocks to either storm or defend Skipton Castle. Rules will be taught.

GAME TITLE:  Piacenza
GAME MASTER:  Tim Tilson
PERIOD:  War of the Austrian Succession
SCALE:  15mm
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 5
RULES:  Black Powder

GAME DESCRIPTION: 15 June 1746. Piacenza Italy. After concluding peace with Frederick of Prussia in December 1745, Maria Theresa ordered Field Marshal Ulysses von Browne to Italy with a small force.  The Austrians marched over the Alps in late winter and upset the prevailing Allied dominance in Lombardy.  Browne quickly retook a number of outposts and Milan.  The Spanish evacuated Parma, retreated north to Piacenza and entrenched outside the city.   With the arrival of the main Austrian army under General Liechtenstein, the Spanish were outnumbered 56,000 to 26,000.  However, the entrenchments greatly favored the Spanish and so Liechtenstein settled down to a siege.  On June 14, a French relief force under Marshall Maillebois arrived on the Allied left wing, south of the city, shifting the balance of forces in favor of the Allies. Browne sensed an Allied attack, and refused his left wing, deploying it behind the Canale San Bonico. At first light, the Allied right wing advanced. 

GAME TITLE:  “Halle 1806”
GAME MASTER:   Tom Bierschenk
PERIOD:   Napoleonics
SCALE:     15mm
NUMBER OF PLAYERS:    2-4
RULES:    Napoleons Battles 4th Edition

GAME DESCRIPTION:  17 October, 1806:  Bernadotte’s I corps rushes to cross the Saale river at Halle and destroy the Duke of Wurttemberg’s Reserve Prussian Corps, the only remaining intact large Prussian force between Napoleon and Berlin.  Bernadotte must restore his honor, after having shirked his duty at Jena/Auerstedt.

GAME TITLE: Sharke’s Bridge
GAME MASTER:  Mark Fastoso
PERIOD:  Napoleonic Fantasy
SCALE:    28mm
NUMBER OF PLAYERS:  6
RULES:   Dragon Rampant

GAME DESCRIPTION: Lt. Sharke and his Chosen Orc Rifles have been ordered to destroy a bridge on the border.  Seems like an easy mission but he has been accompanied by Colonel Simm’Orcson, a rather buffoonish officer, and his men who are out for glory.  All seems quiet at the bridge and Simm’Orcson despairs at losing his chance for fame and fortune until he spies a cannon being moved into position across the river.  He immediately orders his men to cross the bridge and capture the gun!  Lt. Sharke stares in shock at Simm’Orcson and his men cross the bridge he is about to blow to kingdom come.  This is a Napoleonic Fantasy game using Flintloque figures and Dragon Rampant rules.

GAME TITLE:  Sand Dunes of Zwarfontein ( German South-West Africa)
GAME MASTER:   Roy Jones
PERIOD:   Colonial
SCALE:     25mm The Sword and the Flame (Modified)
NUMBER OF PLAYERS:  6
RULES:  The Sword and the Flame (Modified)

GAME DESCRIPTION:  The Herero War is over – the Nama Wars have begun! The alliance between Nama leader Hendrik Witbooi and the Kaiser is shattered! A combined Nama force of Witbooi troops and those of Simon Kooper confront the Germans at Zwarfontein. The Germans have mobile mountain guns, but the Nama have some

GAME TITLE:  White Eagle, Red Star
GAME MASTER:   John Koprowski and Dave Markley
PERIOD:   1920 Post WWI Poland
SCALE:     20mm – 1/72
NUMBER OF PLAYERS:  6
RULES:   Too Fat Lardies’ Triumph of the Will /If The Lord Spares Us

GAME DESCRIPTION:  It’s 1920 and Vlad, Lenin not Putin, is moving west to spread the Glorious Workers Revolution to Western Europe and …Amerika.  Can the out gunned and under manned Poles save Civilization from the Godless Bolshevik barbarians?  Man your machine gun; pilot your fighter plane; or drive your armored train into the Polish fight for freedom…or ride into glory with Seymon Budonny.

GAME TITLE: Panzer Kids Desert Skirmishes
GAME MASTER: Peter Schweighofer
PERIOD: World War II
SCALE: 15mm
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-6
RULES: Panzer Kids Deluxe

GAME DESCRIPTION: Command tank forces battling for control of the North African desert in World War II using these beginner-friendly rules. Maneuver British and German tanks around dunes, oases, and other obstacles to destroy enemy tanks and win the day. Drop in to learn the rules and fight a quick skirmish or stick around to try some of the optional rules to add depth to your game experience. Wargaming beginners welcome. Kid-friendly game; ideal for players 7-12 years old.

GAME TITLE:  WWII Air Battle – Wildcats vs Me-109s
GAME MASTER:  Dennis Wang
PERIOD:  WWII
SCALE:  1/285
RULES:  Air Force/Dauntless

GAME DESCRIPTION: Air Force/Dauntless with computer assist. 4″ hexes and  1/200 airplanes (Wings of Glory scale) with telescoping flight stands equipped with climb/dive, bank, altitude indicators. Bring your tablet/smartphone/laptop equipped with a WWW browser. Windows, Mac, Android, Chromebook all OK. Paper and pencil not r equired/used. Novices welcome. Rules PDF free on the Web or at the meeting. On 26 March 1945,  FM-2’s from 882 Squadron Lieut Comdr. GAM Flood, RNVR) off HMS Searcher, escorting a flight of Avengers along the coast of Norway, was attacked near Christiansand by a flight of eight III Gruppe JG 5 Me-109Gs. The Wildcats (now called “Wildcat instead of “Martlet” as the Fleet Air Arm adopts the USN names for carrier aircraft in January 1945) shot down four of the Me-109Gs at a cost of one Wildcat damaged. A fifth 109 was claimed as damaged. These were the last British Wildcat victories at the end of WWII

GAME TITLE: End of an Iron Dream
GAME MASTER Jason Weiser
PERIOD: WWII
SCALE: 20mm
NUMBER OF PLAYERS:  8
RULES: Battlegroup WWII

GAME DESCRIPTION: It’s the typical story, 1945, a German garrison in East Prussia is holding on by their fingernails to stave off the inevitable. Someone at OKW had the bright idea to send in some supplies to them, and thought, if we’re going to do that, why not launch a local counterattack to open a corridor to them? Suddenly, an entire company sized Kampfgruppe is now on the move at night against a Soviet force of unknown size, trying to blast open a corridor to a garrison that may not still be there.

Can you make a silk ear out of a sow’s purse and complete this fool’s errand.

GAME TITLE: The Battle of Yampil, 19 June 2014
GAME MASTER: Mike and Patrick Byrne
PERIOD: Modern
SCALE: 28mm
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 6
RULES: Force on Force

GAME DESCRIPTION: Before a cease fire takes place pro-Russian rebels launch an offensive to take more towns.  The Ukrainian Army launches a counter attack to encircle the rebels.  Can the rebels stop the Ukrainian counter attack?

GAME TITLE: Space Hulk
GAME MASTER Stefan B. Tahmassebi
PERIOD: 40,000 AD
SCALE: 28mm
NUMBER OF PLAYERS:  4-6
RULES: Space Hulk 2012

GAME DESCRIPTION: Terminator Space Marines versus hungry Tyranids.

NOVAG’s Winter Game Day 2016


SLIDESHOW of Game Day pictures.. tons of them are Artemisium which I played in

On January 31, 2016, NOVAG threw it’s usual quarterly Game Day, Winter version. The location was the Centreville Library in the multi-purpose room. There were about ten tables in play. I think we had a pretty good turnout considering the recent weather.

Here are a few pictures!

GAME TITLE: WWII  Air Battle
GAME MASTER: Dennis Wang
PERIOD: WWII
SCALE: 1/285
RULES: Air Force/Dauntless (Note: same system as mentioned in this blog post from 2014)
GAME DESCRIPTION: Air Force/Dauntless with computer assist. 3″ hexes and 1/200airplanes (Wings of Glory scale) with telescoping flight stands equipped with climb/dive,bank, altitude indicators. Bring your tablet/smartphone/laptop equipped with a WWWbrowser. Windows, Mac, Android, Chromebook all OK. Paper and pencil notrequired/used. Novices welcome. Rules PDF free on the Web or at the meeting.

GAME TITLE: Fontenoy
GAME MASTER: Tim Tilson
PERIOD: War of the Austrian Succession
SCALE: 15mmNUMBER OF PLAYERS: 5
RULES: Black Powder
GAME DESCRIPTION: In the spring of 1745, Marshal de Saxe prepared to invade theAustrian Lowlands, and take Tournai. Facing him was an Allied army under the 23 yearold Duke of Cumberland. DeSaxe wanted to defeat the Allied army before starting thesiege. Thus he planned to goad them into attacking him. First he dispatched a columntowards Mons. Cumberland accepted the bait and moved his army there, while deSaxeproceeded to Tournai. Realizing he had been hoodwinked, Cumberland then marchedtowards Tournai where deSaxe awaited him on terrain of his choosing. The French werein an extremely strong +L shaped position, with the village of Fontenoy forming thehinge. The flanks were protected by woods and the river Schedlt. Finally deSaxe hadmade the position stronger with the use of redoubts. At 2:00 a.m. the Allied army wasunder arms and ready to advance.

GAME TITLE: Assault on Hoth
GAME MASTER: Phil Pournelle
PERIOD: A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
SCALE: Galoob Micro Machines (1/188)
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-6
RULES: West End Game’s Assault on Hoth
GAME DESCRIPTION: Imperial Forces have arrived to destroy the Rebel hideaway on the ice planet Hoth. The only hope for maintaining the rebellion is to use the Ion Cannons to enable transport ships to evade Imperial StarDestroyers. General Veers and his ATAT forces have been dispatched to destroy the Ion Cannon and the defenders of the base. Luke Skywalker leads Rogue squadron in a desperate attempt to delay the Imperial Forces long enough to for Princess Leia to complete the evacuation and escapein the Millennium Falcon. Will the Rebel Alliance survive? Or will the Imperial Forces prevail? Will Luke be captured and turned to the Dark Side? Take

command of either Imperial or Rebel forces and decide the fate of the galaxy

GAME TITLE: Ranger RECCE
GAME MASTER: Michael Byrne
PERIOD: Modern
SCALE: 28mm
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 6
RULES: Force on Force
DESCRIPTION: With all SEAL teams on missions, elements of the elite Ranger RECCEunit and 3/75th Ranger Battalion were tasked to secure a high value target. Aerialinsertion had not worked in the past, so the Rangers would make their attack overlandfrom a staging point. The terrain was more difficult than expected and the attack startedat day break. Can the Rangers capture the high value target or will he escape again?

(I played Artemisum (bel0w) and took lots of pictures of the game in progress.. see them HERE)


GAME TITLE: The Battle of Artemisium – 480 BC

GAME MASTER: Brian DeWitt
PERIOD: Ancients
SCALE: 15mm
NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 8
RULES: Greeks at Sea
TIME: 2 Hours
GAME DESCRIPTION: The Battle of Artemisium was a series of naval engagements over three days during the second Persian invasion of Greece. The battle took place simultaneously with the more famous land battle at Thermopylae, in August or September 480 BC, off the coast of Euboea and was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, including Sparta, Athens, Corinth and others, and the Persian Empireof Xerxes I. The Greek fleet was protecting the flank of the army at Thermopylae, whilst attempting to not being cut off themselves. The Persians needed to force their way through either at of Thermopylae or Artemisium to outflank either position. The Persians were at a significant tactical advantage, outnumbering the Allies and having “better sailing” ships. The “better sailing” that Herodotus mentions was probably due to thesuperior seamanship of the crews; most of the Athenian ships (and therefore the majorityof the fleet) were newly built, and had inexperienced crews. This scenario represents part of the first day of the battle when the Persians saw the Allied fleet rowing towardsthem and decided to seize the opportunity to attack, even though it was late in the day,as they thought they would win an easy victory.

Notes on Artemesium.  This was the same game I played at Fall-IN! 2015, run by the same GM (Brian DeWitt) using the same rules (Greeks at Sea).  I chose Persia this time.  We started out trying to have a plan, forming a line moving down the table, but that didnt’ last long as the Greeks burst into our formation.  It was an embarrassing start for the Persians as my left wing took some casualties from boarding and capturing.  I lost two ships to capture — the Greeks get elite marines, and my opponent always seemed to have a “Fierce Marines” chit and a 1 or 0 initiative chit to use handy.  Shrug.  It is what it is.  Even with only 1 damaged ship left, I did do my duty to Ahura-Mazda and rammed one of the Greek hulls, sinking it.  I then was trying to maneuver around to ram his other damaged hull, and the game was called.  Result was a Pyrrhic victory for our side.  We killed 1 more ship than they killed or captured from us, but they sank the flagship.  I think the rules are great, but tend to favor the Greeks too much.  You just don’t want those Greeks aboard your ship.  Gar played as a Persian as well, and was up against  a kid who was hand picking his initiative chits (perhaps he was confused about blind drawing?) so he always had the jump on Gar with an initiative of 0 many turns in a row.  Still, Gar did some damage on his ships as well, he was no cake walk.  He really enjoyed the game.  More importantly his buds were texting him during the game and he was sending them pictures.  Now THEY want to come to the next game day.  Our job here is done!

Oh, I did make a little movie of Artemesium.. have fun.

Chariots and Such: NOVAG Game Day Winter 2014


Thanks to the tireless efforts of the NOVAG leadership, the NOVAG Game Day was held at the Centreville Library on Saturday 15 February 2014. I like this venue a lot, it’s relatively easy to get to by everyone, adequate parking, close to a lot of food choices, and as far as I know, free for us to use. The down side is its on the Western side of Fairfax County and we could probably have one on the Eastern half, or at Victory Comics, or something, just to spread it out a bit. For the time being, though, I like Centreville just fine.

It was also cool to see Dennis Largesse, pioneering game shop owner of the LITTLE SOLDIER in Alexandria (mentioned here), drop by for a visit.

Dennis Largesse

NOVAG Game masters had ten events on the schedule. For the most part it appears that they came off as advertised.

10:30 am – Battle of Chickamauga, By Mike Pierce

Chickamauga, Regimental Fire and Fury rules

10:30 am – Command & Colors Napoleonics , By Eric Freiwald

Command & Colors Napoleonics, rules: GMT

10:30 am – Jousting Tournament, By Brian DeWitt

No Pictures

11 am – Stop the Goeben, By Bill Cira

Stop the Goeben GHQ rules

11 am – The Trenches of Onganjira (German South-West Africa, 1904), By Roy Jones

No Pictures

11 am – Kloster Kamp, By Tim Tilson

Kloster Kamp, rules Black Powder

12 pm – The First, By Roxanne Patton

No Pictures

12 pm – Fireball Forward, By Mark Fastoso

1 pm – Air Force/Dauntless, By Dennis Wang (see previous blog post for a dissection of this event)

3 pm – Roman Chariot Race, By Brian DeWitt

I attended with my son, Garrett (15). As I’ve said in the previous post, we arrived at noon thirty more or less. We played AIR FORCE/DAUNTLESS almost immediately and my reactions to that game are captured in the previous blog post.

There was a nice assortment of games out and I liked them all. I wanted to play in the Goeben game but it didn’t end until we were well into the Air Force game, which is what I came to play. We brought a few board games and were going to put out one to play amongst ourselves when Brian DeWitt asked us if we’d like to play his Roman Chariot game. We were game for that!

And off we went!

Both Gar and I have long experience in Chariot racing games. Gar has played my Fast Shuffle Chariot Combat Racing game in the past and other chariot games, I am an old hand at Circus Maximus, Circus Minimus and various chariot games. So both of us are of the mindset that when it comes to chariots, spare no effort to get out and get ahead of the pack if you can. ANY which way you can. I have played Brian’s rules before, or something close to them in 54mm scale, by another GM at a HMGS convention. They are relatively simple at four pages. The big problem with games of this kind is that once the field thins out a bit it becomes clear who will be the winner, and people tend to glaze over until the end. I didn’t think that happened here.

The Race is 2.5 laps. Going into the first lap, we are still bunched up. And the attacking has already started, top left.

Garrett’s chariot met its grisly end fairly early. That suited him, he shrugged and went back to scrolling up and down Redditt. Of course, his stiffening corpse and wreckage added some challenges to the course.

So long, little buddy!

No time to remain sentimental, I had a race to try to not lose. Brian’s rules have elaborate drafting mechanics so I got to the rear of the conga line to avoid having to deplete an endurance chip (black or green poker chips).

For some reason I ended up (in the Orange chariot) the target of a lot of the other racers, as I did here when they tried a squeeze play:

YIKES! Get me out of this

Too bad for the guy on the left, his homicidal efforts got him in hot water. In Brian’s rules when one chariot rams another, there is a dice differential roll which can run into the negative numbers. When he rolled a two and I rolled an eleven, he knew he was in trouble.

-5 or more on the attack table ended up flipping the ATTACKING chariot. See ya later, Doofius!

The joy of being attacked continued unabated during the next turn.

Ramming someone into the wall (in this case, me in the Orange Team) is an age-old tactic in chariot race games.

I was actually expecting to die going around the last curve (for me), as I had to go over a wreck somewhere, I didn’t have that many options. Actually driving over Garrett’s corpse only jostled me a little bit and I got back to the inside lane quickly, tearing down the track ALL OUT that turn

I knew it couldn’t last! Fred Haub’s chariot rammed me, I guess he was a little miffed I tried to do for him in the preceding pass. I skidded into the wall and disintegrated.

Sadly, keeping an “all or nothing” pace has its risks, and my ticket got punched going into the last lap. I shrugged off driving over wreckage, a whip attack, and rammed another chariot (Fred Haub’s, ineffectually) on the way down to the end, but got rammed back for my pains, damaging the chariot even more. It was actually the corner strain test that did for me; I lost control during the turn and skidded sideways into the wall; the chariot turned to flinders. And that did for me!

I like chariot games.

So that was NOVAG’s Winter Game day for 2014. Lots of fun, easy to execute, and relatively cost-free. Thanks to the NOVAG leadership for putting this on, and the Fairfax County Public Library system for hosting us.

Slideshow of the entire game day

Slideshow of just the Chariot hijinx

Air Force with Ipads! NOVAG Game Day Winter 2014


Thanks to the constant efforts of Mr. Tim Tilson and Mr. Brian DeWitt, NOVAG held its Winter Game Day event at the Centreville Library on 15 February 2014.

My son Garrett and I showed up at a little after noon, so we missed any early games.  I was interested in playing in this game I noticed in the PEL:

1 pm – Air Force/Dauntless, By Dennis Wang
Period: World War II
Scale: 1/300
Rules: Air Force Dauntless
Players: 8
Time: 3 hours
Size Table Needed: 5’ x 6’

Air Force/Dauntless, the Battleline/AH game of plane to plane combat updated for the computer age. Tabletop 1/300 scale plane to plane combat with a computer aid using your Wi-Fi enabled tablet computer to handle movement and all those pencil and paper calculations of speed and altitude. Bring your tablet, laptop or smartphone that has a WWW browser.

This really appealed to me, being A) a big tablet nut, and B) liking plane to plane combat games.   The part that REALLY appealed to me was the clever idea of automating the combat tables for movement and combat away from the paper rulebook (which you can get here as a PDF) and onto a server, which can be viewed through any smart device, like a tablet, ipad, smartphone, etc.   I played it on an Ipad Air Tablet; Garrett used an Iphone 5.  Other players used Kindles and generic Android Tablets, all provided by Dennis Wang.

Two tablets being used during the game, it all went splendidly!

Mr. Wang, pictured below, set out a very simple scenario.  A group of Aichi D3A Vals were attacking a US picket destroyer “somewhere close to the main American fleet”, which was somewhere close to the Japanese mainland in 1944.   They are escorted by two advanced Zero fighters (possibly the A6M5 or 6)– both Japanese aircraft were obsolescent by 1944 standards, but the Zero much less so.    The Americans, me and another fella (Tuscaloosa on TMP), were both flying a single F6F Hellcat, if memory serves.  Our job: destroy or disrupt the attack.  The job of Garrett and the other Zero fighter was to keep us off of the Vals.  Dennis ran the Val attack.  I ran the picket ship Anti-Aircraft fire as well.

Mr. Dennis Wang, creator of the mobile device Air Force game, setting up the scenario.

The infrastructure was remarkably simple. Mr. Wang set up his router and we pointed our devices to the IP address. A screen came up:

Opening screen. This screen takes the place of “Airplane Cards” in Air Force/Dauntless. All the information needed to run an *individual plane* in this implementation. See next screen

I selected the plane I was running, the F6F Hellcat. The Hellcat was arguably the best plane that was ever fielded by the US Navy during World War II. Clicking this hyperlink brought up the turn screen:

Start Screen for F6F. The Vals were handled slightly differently, but the Zero pilot players also saw a similar screen.

The original Avalon Hill game came with a series of data cards that essentially guided you through the physics of combat maneuvers and firing.

Card for F6F in the original DAUNTLESS game. Click to expand

Mr. Wang’s computer program condenses the information on the card into a browser based app that basically tracks all that information, including ammunition, fuel, and damage.

Two F6Fs take on a small horde of Japanese.

My colleague on the American side, Tuscaloosa, was used to the game and Mr. Wang’s implementation of it, and had a better idea of the maneuvering. The point of this scenario was NOT to engage Zeros, but to splash as many Vals as possible. Yet, I dove on the Zeros and managed to inflict some damage on Garrett’s plane. Unfortunately, I shot pasthis plane and found myself shooting away from the action quickly as the diving Vals gained speed. In Air Force, as in reality, a plane gains speed in the dive, and loses speed in the climb. We all started at 10000 feet and the Vals split up and were descending to their target, the picket boat, every turn until they hit max speed.

Lesson 1: go after VALs not ZEROs.

In the background, my Hellcat has just shot past the Zeros after a short dogfight. The Vals spread out to make a harder target and Tuscaloosa is desperately trying to catch up. At this point, it’s looking grim.

Speed was tricky.  Mr. Wang made a big point of this in the game briefing.   If we see a red message in the status window, we had to pay attention to it.  Alas, I didn’t.  I tried to wing over and dive to the right after the Vals on the right.  I tried to descend far too quickly and the wings came off my plane.

Not the status on the bottom right yellow box. Yeah. That sucked.

At least the log file tells you what you did wrong.

Mr. Wang was magnanimous, and gave me another F6F to throw into the fight because at this stage it didn’t look we were going to be able to do much to stop a Japanese victory.

END GAME. Japanese Victory

I didn’t manage to do much but damage a single incoming Val with aircraft gunfire and I splashed one with Heavy AA fire. I think if the game had continued a few more turns we might have splashed a few, but the Vals achieved their objective, which was to get to the Picket boat.

Lessons Learned: I should have turned and dived after the Vals immediately and not even cared about the Zeroes. We might have splashed about two before they got to the Ship. The quality advantage of the F6F over the Val was negated by basic physics.. they were accelerating away from us in a dive WAY too fast for us to catch up.

We didn’t have much of a chance of winning after the second or third turn, but you have to try, right?

As far as the technology implementation, I thought this was a brilliant approach to the game. I remember playing Air Force (the board game) when I was 20ish and it was enjoyable, but very slow to plot and execute movement and combat with 2D cardboard chits. I think Mr. Wang is on to something. The explosion of mobile devices (NOT necessarily Ipads) means this technology (which is web-enabled, therefore not dependent on a particular OS) is going to be increasingly available for gaming. A Kindle, any Android tablet, a smartphone or Iphone.. they can all handle this kind of server-based implementation of the rules.

Rules were minimal. There were two charts, with some basic maneuvers associated with AIR FORCE that were used (See the slideshow link, below). I ignored them for the most part and used my tablet. I still had to use a paper chart to roll gunfire and antiaircraft fire on, and Mr. Wang had to keep track of several Vals on a roster. I think there’s a great future for this, even as a commercial program. I hadn’t played Air Force in decades, but playing this game made mewant to scamper out and buy some planes and try this myself, being an Ipad nut. So, in sum, well done, Mr. Wang, I really liked this event and I liked your implementation. Keep working on it, your efforts are appreciated.

Here’s every picture I took in a single slideshow

NOVAG Spring Game Day, 01 June 2013


NOVAG will host is Spring Game Day on Saturday 1 June 2013 at the Knights of Columbus Hall on the campus of St Leo’s Catholic Church. The church is at 3700 Old Lee Highway in Fairfax. The hall is at the back of the campus by the baseball fields. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m. for GMs to set up games. Gaming will start at 1:00 pm. We have the hall unit 6:00 pm. Admission is $3 per adult and children free. All the money raised by the admission fees will be donated to the Knights of Columbus.

Flea Market. A Flea Market will be held from 1:00-2:00 pm. Sellers need only pay the $3 admission fee.

Internet Donation. Being organized on line now, NOVAG has only one expense. Our web site is hosted by Peregrine Computer Consulting Corporation for free. However we do receive a yearly bill for $17 for our name registration. Currently the treasury has enough to pay next year’s fees. So we will have a donation basket to help defray the registration fee. When we host Game Days at libraries etc we are prohibited from charging admission. So this is an opportunity for the club to replenish its coffers.

The Primary Events List follows:

Primary Events List

Title: Lutterburg
GM: Tim Tilson
Period: Seven Years War
Rules: Black Powder
Scale: 25mm
Length: 3 hours
Players: 5

Description: 10 October 1758 1500 hours. Early in Ocotber, the Comte de Soubise was reinforced by Chevert and St. James and promptly advanced. Facing him was LTG Oberg with only 17 Allied battalions to oppose the 78 French/Saxon battalions. Consequently, he retreated northwest across the Fulda river through Lutterburg, with a goal of crossing the Werra river. However the French were on his heels. Ober’s only crossing was at Munden. Fearing he would be caught by the French en marche, he stopped at the heights of Lutterburg and deployed his army. His right flank rested on the Fulda with his left on a hill known as the Klein Stuafenberg. Soubise followed him and planned to use his superior numbers to outflank the Allied army and push it onto the Fulda or force it to surrender.

Title: The Struggle for Omaruru (German South-West Africa 1904)
GM: Roy Jones
Period: Colonial
Rules: The Sword and the Flame (modified)
Scale: 25mm
Length:
Players:

Description: The Hereros hold the German garrison town of Omaruru;the Kaiser wants it back! But Herero riflemen are defending in depth from stone field works and strong points, with their usual courage and skill. A tough job awaits Haupmtann Frank’s elite 2nd Feldkompagnie. From the scenario book The Herero War. More at http://www.hererowars. com

Title: Second Battle of Heligoland, Novebner 18, 1917
GM: Bill Cira
Period: WWI
Rules: Fleet Action Imminent
Scale: 1/3000
Length: 4 hours
Players: 8

Description: The Royal Navy has learned of a German Navy plan to conduct a mine sweeping opersation west of Heligoland in the North Sea. The Germans want to ensure safe passage of their U-Boats while the British plan to spoil the plan. A strong force of RN light cruisers and battle cruisers have scattered the German mineswepers and are in hot pursuit of a squadron of German light cruisers. But there could be an unpleasant surprise for them at the end of the ride. Rules taught and beginners welcome.

Title: The Battle of Denmark Strait.
GM: Walt O’Hara
Rules: Victory at Sea
Scale: 1:600
Length: 3 hours
Players: 4

Description: In May of 1941, the Bismarck and the escorting Prinz Eugen finally broke out into the Atlantic and were free to begin their commerce raiding cruise. Just two ships of the Royal Navy stood in their way, the HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales. The resulting battle proved to be disastrous for the Royal Navy and lead to one of the greatest confrontations at sea during WW2. Perhaps it could have gone differently, who knows? The RN players will have the Hood and Prince of Wales, the Germans the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen.

OPTIONAL (Depends on remaining time)

Title: The Battle of the River Platte
GM: Walt O’Hara
Rules: Victory at Sea
Scale: 1:600
Length: 3 hours
Players: 4

Description: The first major naval engagement of WW2, the Admiral Graf Spee had been successfully raising merchant ships in the South Atlantic, but the Royal Navy’s Sought American Division was closing in. On December 13th, 1939, three British Cruisers engaged the German pocket battleship. On paper, they were outgunned. Historically, the German captain balked due to his certainty that there was another RN squadron nearby (there wasn’t)- – so he cut and run to a neutral harbor where he ended up scuttling his ship. This scenario allows the half-completed historical battle to be played out. In a stand up fight the British player will be at a gunnery and armor disadvantage, but will have the advantage of attacking from different directions.

Title: Police Action
GM: Dwin Craig
Rules: Fireball Forward!!
Scale: 15mm
Length: 3 hours
Players: 4

Description: 22 August 1941, 0500hrs The SS Police Division was located several kilometers south and southwest of Luga. SS Brigadefuehrer Muelverstedt advanced up to Luga and assaulted several bunkers and ran into problems. The Soviets had to literally be shot outof their bunkers and defensive positions.

Title: Mannecourt Hill
GM: Roxanne Patton
Rules: Battlefront WWII
Scale: 20mm
Length: 3 hours
Players: 4

Description: 20 September 1944. Turning back from the advance to the north, Col. Abrams leads a reinforced task force on a sweep east to the town of Ley to clear the village of German armor. C/37th on Abram’s left crests Mannecourt Hill into a deadly German fusillade.

Title: The Scouring of the Westfold
GM: Lance O’Donnell
Period: Fantasy
Rules: War of the Ring
Scale: 25mm
Length: 4 hours
Players: 4

Description: A dark cloud has fallen over Rohan, Saruman has betrayed the White Council and seeks the One Ring for himself. He has allied Isengard with Barad-Dur as the two towers unite. First Rohan must be destroyed. Saruman has unleashed the forces of Isengard to wreck havoc upon the Westfold. With King Theoden under Saruman’ s spell, his nephew Eomer has gathered loyal riders to try and stop Saruman’ s vanguard. This game uses Games Workshop’ s Lord of the Rings: War of the RIng mass battle system. The forces of evil are a mix of Uruk-hai and Warg Riders and the forces of good are Rohan Oathsworn Militia and Riders of Rohan. Rules will be taught, not recommended for children under 14.

Title: Mini Mech: City Under Siege!
GM: Sean Conlon
Period: Future
Rules: Mini Mech
Scale: 6mm
Length: 2 hours
Players: up to 6 (possibly 8)
Description: A fun, streamlined set of rules for combat between companies of tiny mechs and combat walkers, in an urban environment.

01 Jun 2013 NOVAG Game Day: Denmark Strait and Battle of the River Platte


As a favor to Tim Tilson of NOVAG leadership, I responded to his request to run games with a couple of “games in the hip pocket” as it were.  I think a dedicated miniatures hobbyist should always have something in a box ready to go for just this sort of occurrence.  So here’s my plan:

NOVAG GAME DAY, 01 JUNE 2013.  Location: Knights of Columbus Hall in Fairfax, VA.  Gaming starts at 1300 and ends at 1800.  That means I have all of 5 hours.  I could run one long or two short games, and my money is on two short ones.  I think Victory at Sea can support this.  It’s not the most complicated naval rule set I’ve ever seen (Harpoon it ain’t) and has very straightforward game mechanics that should execute quickly with minimal oversight.


GAMES:

The Battle of Denmark Strait.

Players: 4 max, plays reasonably well with down to 2 players.
In May of 1941, the Bismarck and the escorting Prinz Eugen finally broke out into the Atlantic and were free to begin their commerce raiding cruise.  Just two ships of the Royal Navy stood in their way, the HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales.
The resulting battle proved to be disastrous for the Royal Navy and lead to one of the greatest confrontations at sea during WW2.
Perhaps it could have gone differently, who knows?  The RN players will have the Hood and Prince of Wales, the Germans the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen.  Rules will be Victory at Sea by Mongoose Publishing.
Scale: is slightly larger than 1:600 (Axis and Allies War at Sea ships)
Rules: Victory at Sea,
Duration: Probably 3 hours max.
if needed in the late afternoon,
The Battle of River Plate
Players 4 max, the British player can play multiple ships
The first major naval engagement of WW2, the Admiral Graf Spee had been successfully raising merchant ships in the South Atlantic, but the Royal Navy’s Sought American Division was closing in.  On December 13th, 1939, three British Cruisers engaged the German pocket battleship.  On paper, they were outgunned.  Historically, the German captain balked due to his certainty that there was another RN squadron nearby (there wasn’t)– so he cut and run to a neutral harbor where he ended up scuttling his ship.  This scenario allows the half-completed historical battle to be played out.  In a stand up fight the British player will be at a gunnery and armor disadvantage, but will have the advantage of attacking from different directions.
Scale is 1:600, rules Victory at Sea, probably 3 hours max.

I expect the Bismarck scenario will run faster than the Graf Spee.  Since I’m playing with over-sized WaS miniatures the scale might be a little tight, and thus players will start closer together.
As mentioned the Bismarck scenario ship models are all from the War At Sea collection from Axis and Allies.  A little large for naval gaming and crude close up, but from a distance they look just fine to me.  I have picked these ups in dribs and drabs from flea markets and Ebay, it was a very cost effective acquisition of ship models.  Their great advantage is that they all come pre-painted, and that makes life easy.
To make the River Platte Scenario happen, I went wild (courtesy of a 25% off sale on Free Comic Book Day) and bought Mongoose Publishing’s BATTLE OF RIVER PLATTE battle set.

Battle of the River Platte. About 28 USD for me, and I consider it a pretty good purchase.

The miniatures are a pleasant surprise.  Scaled for 1:600 which some people find overlarge but I’m quite comfortable with after years of Uncharted Seas, these minis are very well detailed, solid, with think attached bases and some metal bits, such as turrets and masts, to cut out and glue on.  Each kit comes with a label on the bottom and an extra set of metal bits.  I’m impressed.  (edit: the Mongoose Publishing ships are 1:1800, not 1:600.  They compare favorably to the Axis and Allies War at Sea ships, which I discovered last night)

photo of miniature

Top, River Platte Set Miniature

image_1 (2)

Dude, I know. It came from the Publisher spelled that way.

These miniatures are competitively priced and very well done.  I just might acquire more, especially the battle packs for engagements with small numbers of ships engaged.

So, if you’re in my neck of the woods, and want to play a naval game or two if they let us go long, Drop on by.

Lastly, a little inspiration. I have discovered you can view several excellent films on these battles for FREE, on Youtube.

The Battle of the River Platte (This is a Playlist collection on youtube– Part 1 appears to be missing, but it’s not really required to enjoy this film)

This was a very accurate rendition of the battle shot in the 50s, with one of the British ships that participated in the battle (Achilles) playing itself and an American cruiser playing the Graf Spee. Sure, it has one turret too many, and there are a few other historical goofs, but no real howlers. I like this film for the same reason I like SINK THE BISMARCK (the British Action Film, not the documentary)– it’s not melodramatic, it doesn’t concentrate on human drama so much as portray the events as they occurred and it depicts both sides as doing a professional job of accomplishing their mission as ordered. The effects are subdued and even crude, but the melodrama is minimal and there’s not even a single shot of a captain staring up at the camera and shouting “Nooooooo” with a dying ensign in his arms.

Sink the Bismarck! (this is a playlist on Youtube of the History Channel’s documentary of the Battle of Denmark Strait (in full)).

This is a documentary, not the 1960 drama referenced in the paragraph above. The documentary is quite good and has good animations.

The Prinz Eugen Film of Denmark Strait

Camera footage taken from the Bismarck’s escort, the cruiser Prinz Eugen.

The Mighty HMS Hood (part 1 of a 4 part series)

A PBS documentary about the confrontation between HOOD and BISMARCK, likely originating from the BBC.

Battle of the River Platte newsreel

The Scuttling of the Graf Spee newsreel footage

Enjoy, hope to see you there!

EDIT: Just got this from Tim Tilson via email.

“The deadline for the PEL is Friday.  A final PEL will published early next week.  Currently there are seven games as follows:
 
SYW Land x1
Colonial x1
WWI Naval x1
WWII Naval x1 (two if necessary) That’s me.
WWII Land x2
Fantasy Land x1
 
 
We start at 1:00 pm so people can take of errands/soccer etc in the am.  Since this is not a library we can stay as late as we want.  A 6:00 pm end time is about right as most games will be done by then.  And yes the price is the major determiner.  We are not paying a set fee. Instead we will take all the $ from the admissions fees and donate that to the Knights of Columbus council.”  

NOVAG Game Day Winter 2012


Spartacus (film)

Image via Wikipedia

NOVAG held our annual Winter Game Day at the Chantilly Library today.

Chantilly LIbrary

Chantilly LIbrary

There were about 5 games ran and played, all of them historical miniature wargames. There was a GENERAL QUARTERS game going on when I cam in, World War One era.

Tim Tilson was running a game of Command and Colors: Napoleonics modified for miniatures, with a mostly youthful audience, which I thought was just grand.

I got into a game of Wings of War, trying to bring down a German Balloon with Bob, Cleo, and Fred Haub. Sadly, I think all of us, save Bob, got shot down. My adventures over the Western Front are recounted here:

There was a nice looking WW2 15mm game going on behind us.. I didn’t think it was Flames of War, it was too chaotic looking. Who knows?

And, Naturally, there was a game of WATCH YOUR SIX!

I was easily cajoled into a quick (and I mean VERY quick, as we only had 45 minutes left before library closing) game of Spartacus‘ First Battle. I played on the Gladiator/Barbarian side and we used Brian DeWitt’s rules, which worked very well for the purpose. Given the time constraint I didn’t play very cautiously, figuring I needed to knock the Roman’s morale down as fast as possible if I had a shot at winning it. Still, I waited for the Roman to come to me, figuring I would gain the advantage with him attacking up the hill towards me (and I was right). I also used two of my leaders to motivate the troops and gain an advantage on the attack downhill. The Roman (played by Mike Pierce, Fred Haub, and one other fella) were equally risk-taking, and plunged into a melee without waiting. When you’re short on time and possessing little resources, you go all in. We played the advantages we had, including a flank attack from the woods with some hidden troops, which helped a lot, and the elite bonus for gladiators stacked with Spartacus. Sadly, Spartacus died on the slope, a victim of a miscast bolt, and that was all she wrote for the barbarian side. I did manage to put a serious hurting on my flank of the battle and was the only player to shatter a Roman unit, which would have helped a lot had the game gone on longer. In any event, it was a Roman Victory because of Spartacus dying and we called it a day. A great NOVAG game day for all concerned.

The Death of Spartacus!

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National Capital Model Soldier Society show, Annandale,VA


I had the pleasure to attend the National Capital Model Soldier Society’s annual show at the Ernst Center on NOVA CC’s Annandale campus on Saturday, 9/10. I am what miniature painters might consider “workmanlike” in my approach to miniature painting, when they are being kind. This means that the units look pretty good in a group but not close up. This doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the art of miniature painting, and I love to see outstanding miniature soldier painting work.

NCMSS show

Hussar

Assorted 54mm figures

There’s a lot of everything at these shows– dioramas, figures, stuff for sale, terrain, art by Keith Rocco, and juried shows.

Vampire Priest

NOVAG

NOVAG was there, to run demonstrations and hand out leaflets. Pretty good exposure.

Lancer

NOVAG’s newsletter GAMERS CLOSET #64 released


NOVAG’s excellent electronic newsletter, THE GAMER’S CLOSET, just published their 64th issue. I have placed it in my dropbox public folder and it is available for download HERE. I recommend it, there is an excellent historical article on the Russian army in World War I, as well as a review of COMMAND AND COLORS: NAPOLEONICS (reviewed elsewhere in this blog) using miniatures. Well worth printing out and reading.

Gamer's Closet 64 Cover

Gamer's Closet 64 Cover: click link to launch PDF file

Cosmic Encounter: A Thorough Drubbing


The HATE

Me playing as the Purple HATERS...

We had a chance to play one of my favorite games in the omniverse, Cosmic Encounter, at Steve’s house for his annual OMG it’s the weekend before GENCON frenetic Paint n’ Pack fest on Sunday. I brought my own painting projects, which I managed to complete:

Ironclads 1/600 Scale, mostly Thoroughbred Figures except for the Spartan Games models:

  • Detail work on the RalGard Heavy Cruiser
  • Water giant for Uncharted Seas
From Instant Upload
From Instant Upload
From Instant Upload

After we finished up painting and Steve’s frenetic last minute prep for selling a bunch of stuff at GENCON, we took a look at the giant FEZ BOX Steve and family made for NOVAG’s games at GENCON. Painted NOVAG fez green, with tassel included.

The Fez Box

The Fez Box!!

After that we pulled out Cosmic Encounters, playing the basic game plus a few encounter cards from the first expansion– no flares, lucre, moons or other silliness– just Encounters, Artifacts, Kickers and Morphs.

We selected aliens randomly, just like the good old days.  Here’s the spread:

Steve Gibson: The Chosen (yellow) Can Draw Extra Challenge Cards from the Deck & use them
Chris Gibson: The Vulch (green) Harvests Artifacts.
Jeff Molman: The Mutant (red) Can draw cards up to 8 if he is under.
Me: The Hate (Purple) Can force people to discard a card TYPE of his choice, and if the other players don’t have that card type, they lose three ships.

I had been in games with the Mutant and The Vulch before– they are reasonably balanced.  The Chosen was new to me and I found him a bit overwhelming. I used the Hate power judiciously as it didn’t win many friends– I still think it was no match for the Chosen.  But that’s life.

The Chosen

The Chosen: Yes, we ARE holier than thou.

The game started out in a series of defeats for THE HATE.  Purple was chosen two times in a row in the destiny pile and solicited Allies from the Vulch and the Mutant as depicted HERE. and THE CHOSEN’s  power to draw the first three cards from the encounter deck proved very difficult to counter in any meaningful way.  And nobody wants to ally against someone who could pick the top three cards of the draw deck, decide to add one of all of them to the final outcome  and there you go– you’ve been outnumbered.  In most cases, the power worked in the Chosen’s favor, and Steve played it aggressively.  He was only Cosmic Zapped once, and decisively.   Jeff played the Mutant as well as he could but the Mutant role is not as aggressive in this mix as the Chosen or Vulch proved to be.  THE VULCH was particularly effective, picking up artifacts every round.  Soon he had a hand to be feared, as most of us knew what was in it.

The Hate

Hatin' is for Haters

As the Cone passed to THE HATE, I drew THE VULCH in the Destiny Deck.     THE HATE drew in THE MUTANT to his attack, but the Vulch pulled a 30 attack card, and that was all she wrote.  Thus ended the great Hate offensive for the first time around the circle– and the Cosmic Cone passed to the Vulch.  The Vulch had a strong attack with all those artifact cards and understood the need to attack aggressively, but he vacillated in his turn, making a sweet arrangement with the Chosen as depicted HERE, and then moved on to attack the Mutant in half-hearted fashion, as depicted HERE.  The

Vulch.. doin' his vulchin thing... stripping the battlefield of artifacts.

Vulch’s assault stalled in the face of stiff resistance from the Mutant (with help from allies Hate and Chosen, who were happy to get a bunch of ships back from the Warp.  As his challenge failed,  so did the Cosmic Cone move on to the Mutant, not by nature a very aggressive player or perhaps he is just unlucky?  Who knows?      The Mutant proved he could prevail over the Chosen steamroller, and as he had stood by the Hate in the earlier round, Hate would stand with him now.

Numbers were finally playing in the favor of the anti-Chosen coalition– the higher cards had been played and the Chosen’s defenses were thin in his galaxy.   It was a gamble that payed off, Hey, you muties!  Get out of my cabbages!and the Hate jumped in with both feet.  Finally, no longer a Galactic loser!!!  The Cone passed on to the Chosen, who managed to encounter a stiff resistance from non other than the Hate (last Destiny card drawn). And then it was Hate’s turn once more.. one more time to try to turn the tide of fortunes around.  I had been keeping a weather eye on the Chosen all game long, as he seized an early lead and held on to it all game long.  However, I should have been paying closer attention to the Score wheel.  I had not noticed that the Vulch was now up to four victories after our last alliance, and when I invited him the last turn, naturally I didn’t count it.  Here I am rueing the day… and handing the victory to the Vulch!!  Oh well, losing track of who is the lead in a game of CE is also part of the game as a whole.   Even a solid loss in Cosmic Encounter is a fun time, and I think I can say a good time was had by all without fear of contradiction.  A fun day!

NOVAG Game Day at Centreville Library, Centreville, VA.. and ROAD KILL RALLY!


NOVAG, the Northern Virginia Gaming club that’s been around for decades, throws a “game day” at various locations– usually the Game Parlor but sometimes at public use rooms at libraries. We often put one on at the Centreville Library.

Game Day

Gar knows the power of the Fez.

We were there from about noon to four, which was about all we could fit in. There was some Carnage and Glory evident, and some 15mm or possibly 10mm American Revolutionary War game, and a 25mm game set in German East Africa, Anime Tactics, and later, a 50s era Jets game of Check Your Six. Gar and I got there too late to really participate in one of the longer miniatures games, so we pulled out Z-Man Games ROAD KILL RALLY, a recent purchase, and started playing. We had a grand time of it. The game plays quickly and very smoothly. The core mechanic of the game is Rally Cards. Players maintain a hand of them, and replace them 3 at a time, if they have less than 5 of them. Everything in Roadkill Rally cost rally cards– crash resolution, combat, recovery from wiping out, ammo expenditure. Rally cards can be thought of “freedom of action” or “options that a player can take”. So the more cards you sacrifice to avoid crashing, or deal with a combat result, or defend yourself, or pay for ammunition for a weapon, the less you options you have left in your turn. I liked it. It’s elegant, but limited to the cards and tiles that come with the game. I wish there were expansions. Unfortunately, since I just saw it show up on Tanga, it would appear that Z-Man doesn’t plan on expanding this one past the basic game. Or maybe not. Who knows.

Thematically the game is very evocative of a mix of Car Wars and Death Race 2000 (the 70s version). It deals with the somewhat violent subject matter (scoring points by running over innocent pedestrians) in a lighthearted manner, not unlike the source movie Death Race. I didn’t find it horrifically offensive or anything.. just funny.



Road Kill Rally Slideshow link
, for Facebook Viewers.

Here’s a brief glimpse of us counting final victory points for the game. Garrett came in first which gives a 100 point bonus– but it’s still possible to win even if you don’t come in first. That’s just the equivalent of scoring two older people, after all. I like asymmetrical scoring systems like that.

I briefly, and I mean BRIEFLY played a short bout of ANIME TACTICS. This is a game I would recommend more enthusiastically if they had done a better job on the cards. The game is a miniature skirmish game set in an Anime universe, and cards are a huge part of it. The cards printed by Fantasy Flight Games are so tiny as to be unreadable. I had to stare at them or a while to figure them out. The game system itself I rather liked. All the cards have all the information you need to play. Each character card has stats and information about the actions it can perform and the points it cost to make it happen. Here’s a slide show of our quick game.

As usual, it was a great time and I look forward to the next one. Word has it NOVAG will throw another this Summer.

Williamsburg Muster 2011 #2, games, logistics, fun…


Gar and I decided we’d go visit the Williamsburg Muster this year. We went last weekend, with the intention of running two games: LAND OF THE GIANTS and FAST SHUFFLE CHARIOT RACING which are both games I designed for the Gaming Camp for kids I run in the Summer. I live in the Northern Va area, getting down to Williamsburg was fast and easy for me, roughly 2.5 hours, no tolls. Traffic was minimal. I booked a hotel through Priceline, but it’s almost a waste of time. We stayed at the Sleep Inn, which was about a mile from the convention hotel, but there are PLENTY of low cost hotels in the area around the convention. The Super 8 right next door was advertising a rate 20 dollars less than what I paid through Priceline. I’ll just do my homework next time.

Gar in front of the Holiday Inn, WIlliamsburg

The Muster was held at the Williamsburg Holiday Inn conference center. The hotel is of middling vintage.. not brand new, not a dump, and appeared to have amenities and comforts expected for the price range. No complaints. Parking wasn’t ample but I found a spot. We unloaded and played the first game, LAND OF THE GIANTS, at 1 PM as advertised. unfortunately nobody showed up to play it. Sigh, oh well.. good thing I brought my son! I played the game versus Gar. The results are shown here in THIS POST. We had a great time, and Gar has proven to be a sharp dissector of rules that need tightening up. I enjoyed the dad-son time.

Fast Shuffle Combat Chariots

Saturday Night at the Fights: Fast Shuffle Combat Chariots.

We hit the vendors, which were respectable, I thought, for a smaller con. About 15 or so, maybe less. I bought some stuff– a small gun sloop off of Toby Barrett, a couple of boardgames, some hobby supplies to make some last minute repairs. Gar and I didn’t have to run a game until 7PM, so we went over to the Sleep Inn to register, caught a quick dinner at the Ihop on the way back (where we played one of our new purchases, a Fantasy Tavern Brawl game), and headed back to the convention center. I can attest that the dining choices in Williamsburg are varied, reasonably priced and very convenient to the hotel. There were something like 20 plus restaurants of various stripes on the way to the Sleep Inn, and a bunch of moderately priced hotels mostly of the national chain vintage. Williamsburg has a lot of options for dining and sleeping.

We got back and set up the “Saturday Night at the FIghts” Fast Shuffle Combat Chariots event. I had a family of four and a couple of other people jump in for this game and we played a three round game. Gar played in this one, too. and appeared to have a good time despite crashing during corner strain.

Facebook users: click HERE for a direct link

We packed up our Chariot models, went back to the Sleep Inn and slept like logs, coming back with just the intention of a pass at the dealer’s room in the morning.  Gar convinced me that we really, really needed to run LAND OF THE GIANTS again, which he seems quite taken with.. I allowed that a small, short game was possible, playing for two color goals only.  We set up half a table and only played with desert terrain on Sunday morning.    Gar won this one, too.. very handily.  so we packed up and said goodbyes for the weekend, in particular thanking the organizer, Chuck Turnitsa, for a lovely convention.

Garrett and Chuck Turnitsa

Gar and Chuck T. on Sunday

The Long and the Short of it: Williamsburg Muster is a fine, friendly and inclusive event, with representation from boardgames and tabletop miniature wargaming. The Muster is very close in concept to how I used to visualize that TRIADCON convention we started in DC a few years ago.  We saw plenty of all kinds of gaming in evidence.  In particular, I saw Arkham Horror, Command and Colors: Napoleonics, Call of Cthulhu, the card game, and many other boardgames being played.  The miniatures events were mostly historical but there was plenty of room for whimsical stuff– someone was running SPACE:1880 with the giant aether ships, and there was a Mechwarrior event going on right behind us.  I saw many gamers that I know personally from all up and down the East Coast. mostly from VA, MD, and NJ. We got a chance to run some games for the first time in a long time.  Gar and I had a sincerely wonderful time and will make every effort (barring another three feet of snow) to attend next year.  We are hooked.  Congratulations and well done to Chuck and his crew for putting on a great break for a convention in the middle of Winter.  This one is on my radar.

Memory Time:

Facebook Users, click HERE for direct link

Here’s a note on HOBBY GAME RECCE.

The ODMS (Old Dominion Military Society) puts on the Williamsburg Muster and Guns of August, a convention in August. HERE is a flyer for the upcoming August show.

Sad passing: James McCourt


Jim McCourt

Jim McCourt (left)

Jim McCourt had a tough job. As a D.C. police officer, he routinely encountered the worst part of human nature, and managed it with a cheerful and effortless grace. As these CHAMPS after action reports might attest to, he was no stranger to courage (1, 2, 3) There’s no doubt Jim had guts and determination, along with a sincere community spirit.

Sadly, Jim McCourt passed away last month after a four year battle with leukemia. Jim’s friends and neighbors knew that Jim was a good guy, a good humored pleasant chap that was obviously a great dad to his boys Gregory and Nicholas.

Members of NOVAG and HMGS remember Jim’s amazing creativity and industry, too.

Jim made some fantastic games out of literally, junk and wood bits– always put on for a kid crowd (or adults with a kid spirit). I wish I had more pictures of his efforts. I remember a cute little Napoleonic era game with tons of little soldier pieces made out of small wooden blocks, each and every one of them painted to be British, French, Spanish, Austrian, Russian or Prussian. They sailed around in little boats (also made of wood) to capture other countries. I remember thinking “What madman did this?” followed by “Man, I wish I had thought of that!

Jim in Action

Jim in Action (second from left, in shorts). 2006 Star Wars Game

Sadly, I don’t have many pictures of Jim in action. The pictures here are reposts from a HISTORICON maybe 5 years ago, where Jim put on a Star Wars game using craft he made himself (out of wood pieces and junk). Think about that for a second.. he made everything you see here himself. The game took up the back quarter of the Distelfink Ball room at the Lancaster host. I think the expression on the kid’s faces says it all.

2006 game

2006 Star Wars Game

2006 Star Wars Game

2006 Star Wars Game

2006 Star Wars Game

2006 Star Wars Game

Jim would probably be the last person to accept praise, especially from a guy who didn’t know him personally all that well– we were just on a “Hi Jim!” basis. I think the guy had a certain genius for creating games that kids love and the patience and understanding to run them FOR kids. If HMGS ever considers giving out awards for running children’s games, they ought to call it the Jim McCourt Award.

I’m a little late in reporting this.. I didn’t hear about it until I bumped into John Montrie (Chort) at FALL IN last weekend.

Jim passed on September 3. He leaves behind his wife Christine and sons Nicholas and Gregory. Services were held at St. Patrick’s Church, Washington, DC on Sept. 7. Donations may be made to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or to HEROES (Honor Every Responsible Officer’s Eternal Sacrifice).

On a cheering note, John Montrie approached Christine at Jim’s wake, a little shy and tongue-tied about the subject of offering to host and chaperone Nicholas and Gregory at the next HMGS show (Fall In!)… it’s a hard subject to breach in our over-sensitive environment. Christine interrupted his overtures by asking “So you’re taking the boys to Fall-IN!, right??” And so he did, and so they got to go, and thus in no small measure their dad’s legacy lives on.

The Fez: the New Archtypical Hipster Headgear.


Cthulhu Fez

The Cthulhu Fez

WE DID IT FIRST!!! HONEST!!!

Recent postings on the latest version of the NOVAG Fez, the tasseled green tarboush of the Northern VirginiA Gamers’ club (NOVAG) in the D.C. suburbs should be proof positive: we considered Fezzes to be the hippest head gear on the planet long before these johnny come late-lies showed up.

The new Doctor Who agrees with us (shouldn’t he become an honorary member of NOVAG now?).

With all that being said, the product line at Fez-0-Rama is visually stunning and quite pleasing to the geeks in all of us. They are made of heavier cloth than the rigid cardboard and felt fez we are using, with velvet finish and embroidered art. To quote “Fez-o-Joe”, “The fezzes are embroidered, not patches and the lining is quilted cotton. This means you can pack your fez, crush it, etc. and it’ll come back into shape.” They are a bit pricey at 60 bucks but the visual quality appears self-evident.

Lono Fez! Sons of the Desert! Doctor Who Tardis Fez! The Android Logo Fez! These guys are definitely catering to the ultra hip nerd elite. And that’s fine. Your faithful narrator has ever been a promoter of the silly hat concept. Me, I think I have my specialty fez already picked out….