Tag Archives: Gaming Camp

Game Camp 17 Day One War Rocket and Room 25


So Monday dawned and it was our first day of Battle Camp. I have a smaller camp than usual; that’s just fine. Easier to manage. We were set up for WAR ROCKET by Hydra Miniatures when they came in. War Rocket is a very retro look at simple space combat. The trick to War Rocket is being in the right place at the end of a turn, since War Rocket has a turn sequence of Move, then shoot. The combat system is kind of anemic but the basic mechanics are easy to pick up, which is why I tried War Rocket for the first time at camp. Verdict was quite enthusiastic, War Rocket is fun and a keeper!

We also played Room 25, a board game based on those weird Canadian “Cube” movies.

This was supposed to be just a light lunch time game (I played, too!) and we ended up playing it until 1:30 and finishing up War Rocket. The game ended in a tie when the giant Zenethian mother ship (the big green saucer) was taken out with a lucky shot! Talk about pulling ahead at the last second.

My impressions– this is a great crowd, very smart kids who like games and were VERY quick to pick up on everything. In other words, my favorite kind of campers. Not bad for a group who had zero miniatures background!

More War rocket pictures

Where to find WAR ROCKET
A great first day.

Tomorrow: Frostgrave

On to Day Two!

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Game Camp 2016 Finale: Frostgrave Friday



A conclave of all the Frostgrave Wizards I have right now.  Click to enlarge

The final Friday dawned for Game Camp 2016 this morning. My plan was to run Frostgrave in the early hours, and have an ice cream party. It did not work out that way. Even though I had a decent setup, it took far longer than I had in mind. This was even after I stayed up late building Frostgrave bands for my Wizard figures using the online tool, and saving the sheets out as PDFs.

The Terrain was a bit thin in places, but it looked good.

Thanks to my Cigar Box Battlemat and some nice pieces I’ve either built or picked up here and there on Ebay or Flea markets, I had enough to (loosely) fill out my table. I supplemented with some cheap Styrofoam grey hills.. nothing to look at but they do look the part and are suitably matching with the city.

The centerpiece was a Great Hall piece that I picked up at Historicon 2016 from Stonehouse Miniatures.  They were very nice about sending a display model (already painted) when my order was delayed.


You’re attacking ME? Oh yes, it’s ON!!

Sadly, it took so long to get people set up with magic spells, etc. that it really cut into playing time. The kids liked it, but the lesson I learned was set up the bands the night before, but ALSO give them a set of spells to work with along with that.. don’t waste time with any character creation stuff, even if I think personally that’s the funnest bit of Frostgrave as a game. The kids won’t be playing Frostgrave next week; I might, and I’ve played it it a lot. What I consider fun isn’t the same as how they see it– so I’ll just move the game directly into the looting and fighting next time I run it. Verdict: this will be my Tuesday game next year.

As is also customary we did our end of camp ice cream party, and the kids briskly destroyed 2.5 cartons of Neapolitan ice cream with sprinkles and chocolate sauce. As is also custom, I polled the gamers about what they liked and didn’t like. Results were:

  • Star Wars Armada: Like it, could be great, would play it again– learning it the rules slowed it down
  • Battletech: Didn’t like, found it too complicated and too slow. Fair points, we’ll work on it.
  • Big Danged Boats: Universally enjoyed and enthusiastically voted for a return enagement.
  • Frostgrave: Everyone liked, probably second favorite, wished we had more time to play.

I need to put a bigger effort into teaching painting correctly.  I wish I was good enough as a painter to feel smart enough to teach methods.  I’m not ham-fisted at it but I’m not anything more than workmanlike either.  I know my limitations.  It would be great to add to the program.  I ran out Tuesday evening and bought a few boxes of plastics for the kids to paint up but I kept the painting table more contained this year. Mostly this was to avoid wastage– in the past I’ve bought (or have had donations for) lots of miniatures that got assembled poorly and covered with gobs of paint and glue, then I end up tossing this gooey mess of glue, broken bits and paint-stained tarps out on Friday. I think this can be solved with a couple of days dedicated to teaching, with a shorter game in the afternoon.

I’m not sure what we’ll run next year, but BDB certainly still has legs, and I suspect Armada and Frostgrave will return too. The other days? Eh, we’ll work on something. I like presenting one new game (at least) every camp, so we’ll see what opportunities present themselves.

Thanks again to the FANTASTIC people at St. Stephens and St. Agnes School (lower campus) who bent over backwards to help me, thanks to the parents of the campers, and a big thank you to HMGS for sponsoring our camp!

and from me, too!

Game Camp 2015 Day 2: Dungeons and Dragons Attack Wing, Land of the Dragons


Garrett and I ran DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS ATTACK WING today, which is a recent purchase (this past year) and very reminiscent of Fantasy Flight’s X-WING MINIATURES, which is reminiscent of Ares’ WINGS OF WAR system, which is reminiscent of GDW’s BLUE MAX, which is reminiscent of Nova’s old ACE OF ACES game. Which is a very long-winded way of saying Attack Wing’s design is simply a “you plot your movement in advance, and execute movement in the execution phase” kind of game. There have been many of them, the trick is to learn the nuances.

We set up on some donated terrain and it worked perfectly, although it needed to be leveled a bit. D&D Attack Wing has some very snazzy models, and is really a great little game in itself.. obviously very derivative of systems that have gone before, but unique enough using the Attack Wing variant that I will definitely be running this one again. It’s worth the investment. If I want to play a “flying through space” game, I’ll go to X-Wing (or maybe the Armada game too, different scale and different mechanics) and if I want a fantasy variant, D&D Attack Wing works for me. I love the miniatures.

A troop of Arakari (bird men) attack the White Dragon, who had refused to attack anyone until the last turn of the game.

Immediately this game went over well with everyone. Even the two sulky kids from yesterday got into the spirit of the thing and attacked with a will. They stayed engaged throughout and the game was quite a bloodbath with 10 players engaged at once.

Game Camp 2015

Game Camp 2015

Game Camp 2015

One thing I noticed… both the Dwarven ballistae and the Wraith figures can be one heck of a lot OP if you don’t add some limitations. When the ballistae knocked the brass dragon down to ONE Point with ONE SHOT, only saved by his armor, I realized that the more innocuous critters can be pretty danged powerful in this game.

We added a “Basketball Break” which actually worked well for both me and the squirrely kids, who loved the idea, and played until they got exhausted.. which made for a very different and much more pleasant day.

CLICK ME to see all the Attack Wing Photos

A much better day and a game that everyone seemed to like. Much less shoving and grab-assery today. Basketball break– a must!

See all Photos here

Something New: FUTURE TANK a (sort of) sequel to TANK LEADER


Click for larger view

So, remember when I waxed enthusiastic about TANK DUEL by Mr. Jim Wallman, of the UK?   How I was charmed enough by his roleplaying approach to the trials and tribulations of tank teams on the Western Front of World War II?   How I was looking at running Tank Duel (or some iteration of it) at the Game Camp I run for kids in August?  Okay, so you don’t, but I do.  Tank Duel is pretty goofy and enjoyable and I’m going ahead with creating a game based on it.  Follow the link above to digital rules to get the EPUB I made of it.  However, even though I don’t think anyone would kick about it being historical, I do make a valid effort at keeping the content either Fantasy or Science Fiction oriented– to draw the kids into doing historical games (e.g., my evil plan).    As a result I’ve put some effort into converting Tank Duel into a more science fiction-y version that I call FUTURE TANK.  Future Tank makes a few assumptions that generally match certain observations I’ve made about the evolution of the modern battlefield as part of my day job– without being too sunk into the details.  Simply put, the tank battles of the future will be fought by Tanks that can A) see better B) communicate better C) are linked into a network and D) have access to drones for attack and defense.   I’ve tried to reflect that in the Future Tank rules without being too technical about it.  In a thumbnail, Future Tank is like Tank Duel, only the roles have more to do and there’s a lot of extras in it– it’s more customizable.   But still easy… I hope!

Challenges

It’s Double Blind.  I’ve never even PLAYED in a double blind team game before, and now I’m going to run one.  This is going to require some finesse!  My plan on building the screen between the two terrain areas is to build a curtain from a frame of PVC pipe that extends up about four feet.   As for umpiring one?  Well, it seems easy enough, we’re just going to see what chaos ensues.

I’m using 25mm Scale.  I really don’t want to go smaller than this. 15mm is fine, I suppose but you don’t get the same visual appeal and “chunkiness” of a 25mm game, and I don’t want to spend a huge amount of time driving around and trying to find each other– these are kids, they will get bored.   Still, 25mm scale?  Who makes tanks that big and how much of an arm and a leg will they command?  Games Workshop does, of course.. but yeah,  you can keep that.  I don’t need to spend 80 dollars on a single tank.   Solution: the Tehnolog Bronekorpus series.  The wha of the wha?   As it turns out, there’s a Russian figure company that I have done business with in the past (they made the figures for Orcs for The Magi) called Tehnolog.  No idea what the word means, but they make big, cartoony fantasy and historical figures, and somewhat less cartoony science fiction structures and vehicles.  Their stuff is decent looking, though I don’t always approve of the plastic they use.  Still, it paints up well.    They have a line of sort of snap together tanks in roughly 28mm scale– each tank a bewildering variety of Weapons and Sensors.  Being satisfied they will fit with 28mm figures, I picked up a box of four of them.  Again, not the best plastic, but wow, I am really happy with the result:

Click to enlarge (the next four)

Tanks 2, 11, 4 and 15 more or less done. I have some tidy up painting to do– I want the ordinance to all have thematic colors– missiles and guns different from each other. I suppose I should have painted the camo different for each tank but really, that’s not the point of this game, and it’s science fiction… I’m not trying to be “historically authentic” here.

I may have six kids.  I may have 20.   I scaled the game that each tank can probably work with three roles or less. If I get less than that I’ll just run something else, with deep regrets.  Sigh.

The new rules have more stuff than Tank Duel.   YES.  They certainly do.  That’s not complexity for complexity’s sake.  I think there’s a general assumption that if you are simulating something on a near-future battlefield (and I’m projecting forward about 40 years here, so it’s not a stretch), you should include nifty stuff like sensors, and IR, and networks, and drones, and railguns, etc.  It comes with the sobriquet “Science Fiction”.  That doesn’t mean they have to be too complicated for twelve year olds!  These kids are growing up with these concepts.  I have faith in their intelligence, shouldn’t you?

This is all largely untested.  Yep, well, there it is then.  It may suck.  It might not.  I don’t think it will.  Want to take a peek at Future Tank?  Contact me through the standard channels in a week or so from this posting.  I can get you a draft.  You’ll have to have a way of reading EPUB files.

So there we have it… a sort of roleplaying game simulating the complexities of the near future battlefield environment, all done in more or less 25mm scale with miniatures, kids, double-blind, and a very patient and overworked umpire with a stopwatch and a sense of gamesmanship.  What have I got myself into?

Related:

Six Dollar SF Tanks from Russia (contains a listing of parts, comparison to GW vehicles)

Game Camp 2014, Day Two: BDB Quest for the ORB Pt. 1


Tuesday was a day taken up with running the MAD QUEST FOR THE ORB OF POWER scenario again. This was the scenario I ran at HISTORICON two weeks ago, with minor changes– we introduced the Little People Flotilla in this game, as well as Aquatic Mines.

The objective of the game was the same– Gordon the Enchanter has holed up in his Wizard Tower, with a lot of hired swords and big guns surrounding his little island. He has spent a lot of gold and a lot of time hijacking the Orb of Power, a magical artifact of such great power that it will upset the balance of power in the Middle Sea for generations.

Gordon’s Tower

THIS IS PART ONE OF TWO Basically the kids navigated around the tower, encountered outposts of mercenaries on the outer ring fo Gordon’s defenses– just mercenaries and gun batteries. This proved to be tough work for the Brothers of Saint Brendan, who dropped off a landing party of four coracles full eagerly rowing Brothers, trying to perform a conversion or two.

Woops! Don’t row in front of a battery of quick firing guns!

The Bone Brigade attacked straight out at full speed and made the base of the tower quickly, but got shot to pieces by missile fire. They did get a major landing party ashore under fire, which is commendable. They were immediately engaged by Tower Guards, and the issue is still in doubt.

The Wood Elves and the Little People’s Flotilla were slow to come into conflict, just fighting with one battery which was quickly subdued.

Sylan Terror (Wood Elves) and Things 1 and 2 (LP Flotilla)

The Seng covered a lot of distance and when it became the back of the tower was mined with aquatic mines, effectively used a Spell of Gaseous Form to go over the mines with no harm coming the their ship, the Grey Empress Tzu.

As the game is a bit of a bear to set up, with lots of figures and pieces, we didn’t get started until late, and could only play for 2 and a half hours. I budgeted some extra time to play BDB, and it paid off, we will be running this scenario tomorrow first thing. It’s really heating up to be a fun battle.

Here’s a SLIDESHOW of the BDB Game, enjoy!

Game Camp for Kids, Day 1: The Magi!


Hey, hey the gang’s all here!

It’s that time of year again, when I run a Gaming Camp for kids at St. Stevens and St. Agnes’ School in Alexandria, VA. This camp will be a week long and it will focus on tabletop gaming. Mostly miniatures based with either a fantasy or science fiction theme. I like to keep the rules pretty simple and easy to teach. The trick between success and failure with these things is to keep the children constantly occupied. About 3 years ago I started mixing boardgames with the miniatures games so there isn’t any waiting around and thumb twiddling. Last year, I introduced THE MAGI, a game of Wizardly combat using hand gestures for spells. The game is an old postal game from the 80s that I dusted off and turned into a miniatures game (which, by the by, the creator was wholeheartedly in favor of and gave permission to do).

The game started at 10ish and proceeded to almost 3PM, with one break for lunch.

Wizards fighting it out in the Arena. In the foreground, a Summoned Ice Elemental plods towards a target. In the background, a Summoned Battle Ogre attacks the purple wizard, or the rock lava wizard, I can’t recall which . The giant crystals provide illumination, and could be destroyed, plunging the cavern in darkness.

The whole intention of the Magi is to defeat as many opposing wizards as possible. There’s no way anyone has enough time to kill every other wizard, but that’s okay in a free-for-all situation. The Magi has a unique magic system that is played totally with hand gestures. I have simulated the wizards ruminating over what to cast next by creating a largish deck of cards with 6 hand gestures on them– Clap, Flick, Wave, Digit pointing, Palm Proffered, and Snap. With these 6 gestures, you can build dozens of spells– Summoning Creatures, Tossing Missiles, etc. The trick is to play them in an order to have them go off in time to do something useful for you.  For example, if you want to cast a DISPEL MAGIC (a very useful spell), you perform the somatic (hand) gestures for C-D-S-P (Clap, Digit Pointing, Snap, Palm).    The rules stipulate you have to stand up and perform the gestures, in sequence, then show the cards.  If another wiz has an interrupt spell, he can stop the spell as soon as he recognizes it.

 

 

I toned down Elementals from last year’s camp Now they cause less damage, and I wrote a codicil in the rules that when two elementals that are opposite of each other (Fire and Water, etc), they are attracted to each other and will make an effort to move toward each other to cancel each other out. It balanced the big damage the Elementals were doing in previous games.

The game was not quite the bloodbath that it usually is. We had two Wizards who preferred to hang around the edges of the conflict, avoiding conflict and trying to get that PERFECT spell card set.  That’s a mistake in the Magi.  It’s much better to fire off a series of tactical spells (like Missile, or Elementals) than that Finger of Death spell that requires 9 cards.

It was a great game, and we had a lot of laughs.  Here’s a slideshow!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/54189591@N00/tags/magigc14/

Big Danged Boats, Get Bit and Olympica.


Thursday: the kids were jonesing to finish Big Danged Boats from Wednesday afternoon. I left it set up for them.

The End of BIG DANGED BOATS

The Spartans were attempting a rear ram, which wasn’t going to happen, even with a broad beamed ship like the Siege Machine. They DID end up next to the Siege Machine not moving, and moved into Boarding and Melee. The melee rules now look like this:

MUCH deplete Spartans charge across the paddle-wheel housing to slaughter some Gnomes.

Boarding procedure:

Target ship being boarded fires off a defensive volley with any shooters that can fire. (The Gnomes had 8 AD worth of fire).

Line up attackers and defenders.

Gnomes and Spartans lining up

each side rolls AD and DD. If they match, go to crit table. If the net result is negative for the attacker, he retreats. If he scores positive, he’s hit his opponent.

Unlike the last game, the Spartans got the butts handed to them this time. Only the Captain and one Spartan were left.

Since the Gnome ship was sinking fast, the Gnome Captain boarded right back, and slaughtered the Spartan crew.

Bad luck for the Spartans!

Cedric, running the Gnomes, played the FROM HELL’S HEART I STAB AT THEE action card. This blows up the ship and anyone around it. He ended up losing some Gmomes and the Black Galley lost some crew as well.

The rest of the action was inconsequential. The Black Galley went down to hard poinding, and then so did the Deadnought.

The last fighting ships were the Wood Elves, Primus, the Gnomes escaping in the Hoplite, and the Dwarves.

We called it as it was starting to drag a bit. <a href="nizzocles's Story” target=”_blank”>Here’s a slideshow

OLYMPICA Game

We had a great time running a repise of last year’s OLYMPICA game at Garrett’s request. This is a miniatures version of the old Metagaming microgame, somewhat expanded in scope. Unlike last time, the UN actually got pretty close to the Web of COmpulsion generator and if they hadn’t been converted, would have won this one.

The UN started closer than usual and took advantage of a glaring hole in the tunnel network:

The Webbie’s Tunnel Network. Notice tunnel 5-6. That ends up right behind the web of compulsion, which the UN Figured out.

Unfortunately we didn’t have time to finish it, but I thought the UN might have pulled this one off. They at least discovered where the web generator was in this game, but quickly got converted by it.

UN Company converted by the Web Generator. You have a new boss now!

They got this close:

See the WG counter? That means WEB GENERATOR. They were RIGHT there. Sadly the demonic web generator impelled them to desert the UN and join the Webbies.

I tinkered with the balance on this one and will publish a rewrite shortly. Both sides are a little better represented now. I think the game would have reached conclusion in about four more turns.

Olympica 2013

For more pictures, see this Slideshow.

Game Camp Day 3: Cosmic Encounter, Get Bit and Big Danged Boats


Wednesday was a big success. Garrett and I ran two elements of gaming: Gar ran Cosmic Encounter the best danged boardgame in the universe, in the morning, while I set up Big Danged Boats.

It’s gratifying to see how quickly the younger crowd picks up on a classic like CE and they were roaring with laughter, arguing over the finer points of the rules, etc. in next to no time flat.

We had lunch (and Gar ran GET BIT while doing so)

BIG DANGED BOATS being ready, we commenced to hand out ships. BDB has had some major redesign in gunnery, damage control, and ramming since our last outing. I’ve also handled the notion of reinforcements by instituting a Mercenary Market phase at the start of the game, and added reinforcements on a card on a side table. Worked like a charm.

I won’t dwell on the substantive changes but suffice to say that combat is leaner, with fewer choices and exceptions and just a straight roll for size of gun versus armor protection and other modifiers. Reducing the kegs of boom powder helps. I had factions run out of shots. By turn 3 the most armored ship on the table was smashed to pieces, sinking, when a prodigy of Wrenching rolls saved their butts.

Here’s a little slide show of the day’s events:

Ships engaged were THE FOOT OF THE DEAD GOD, the Dwarven IRON COUNCIL STEALTH FLEET, the SIEGE MACHINE (gnomes), the DEADNOUGHT and BLACK GALLEY (Bone Brigade), The PRIMUS (rat men), the SYLVAN TERROR (wood elves), and the HOPLITE (Spartan CosPlay society).

This was an agressive game and it definitely had the children showing the adults up from the last time I range a game. They were ferocious. As you can see here, young Kennon got into her role of summoning the Squid God.

Perhaps too well:

They thought this was so twisted they are now asking to play it tomorrow morning, so another, third day of running games day and afternoon.

Where have I been for a week? Gaming Camp AAR


Introduction: In case those folks that know me are fearing I’ve dropped off the side of the planet, I spent last week running a Gaming Camp for a local school for a week.  This is a continuation of a project started by onetime HMGS President Del Stover, and the intent was to get children interested in “unplugged” gaming– something outside the realm of Internet, Xbox, PCs and Iphones.   I’ve been doing this for about five years off and on.  Game Camp is an activity that I really enjoy and it has influenced a few kids over the years, I’m reasonably certain.

I did not put on a camp last year; therefore, I was a little late getting into the catalog and that may have kept attendance low– I only had word of mouth and the website to spread the word with.  I only had six kids this year, as opposed to 14 to 20 in years past.  Even with small numbers, we had a great time and in many ways the camp was more efficient.  In fact, I daresay I had a better time than usual as they were very easy to manage, with the help of my son Gar.

This year, I didn’t stress the format too much.  I design a new game (at least one) every year and this year was no exception– OLYMPICA 6mm debuted as a 6mm-ish miniatures game, and there are more details on it in this post.  I had a few arrangements fall through on me for this year so had to do some last minute scrambling to pick up supplies.

The format and structure of camp was similar to previous years in that I procured miniatures for the kids to paint (in this case, 3 boxes of Wargames Factory Storm troopers, 1 box of Warhammer Zombies and some leftovers and donated miniatures from Robert Peipenbrook, (for which they were very grateful).   I was flat out of things by Friday, and I just told them to take it all home with them, which led to an orgy of procurement.  I’m not a particularly gifted painter, but I can, kinda sorta, make things look like they should.  So I went over some fundamentals and they really took to it.  One person in particular, Gage, really did some nice work.

Day One: Really Big Gladiators versus the Undead Legion

I ran a quick game of OZ FLUXX during lunch, just to lighten spirits. It seemed to work!

Game idea: 54mm gladiators versus a seemingly endless wave of skeletal warriors, similar to Jason and the Argonauts (the good version)
Rules: Munera sine Milone
Minis: A mixture of Italieri, Pegasus, Marx, Alpha and a few other onesies and twosies.

I run Munera Sine Milone gladiator games using 54mm gladiator games on Monday, almost every year so far.  There’s a good reason for this.  It’s a great game that is phenomenally easy to pick up and kind of runs itself after a while.   It gets the kids into the spirit of the thing nicely.  This year, I added an undead horde of skeletons to vanquish, which they did rather handily, though I will make ’em tougher next time.

Gladiators versus the Skeleton Horde

Dwarf Gladiators get swarmed.

I got the vibe that they kind of dug it. This was our victor.


Day Two: OLYMPICA 6MM, The UN Attempts to defeat the Web of Compulsion on Mars

Game Idea: UN Raid on Nix Olympica Crater, targeting the “Web of Compulsion” generator and the near-hivemind cult of the “Webbies” on Mars.
Rules: Olympica6mm, written for the game.
Minis: almost 100% Mechwarrior Clickie miniatures from Whizkids, rebased, or kitbashed.  I also bought a radar station for the web generator from Iron Cow.

This activity is discussed in depth in an earlier post. Suffice to say that it looked great and the kids picked up on the game fast enough, but I don’t think they grasped a few concepts easily, so may have to rewrite these. Check the other post for a draft of the rules.

Olympica 6mm setup

Olympica 6mm main battlefield

Olympica 6mm Closeup

Another long view

In general the kids felt that the game was good but the UN players felt like they couldn’t win. Which is weird because I felt the opposite when I played the webbie player back when this was a boardgame. I’m going to make certain adjustments in hit points and movement rates. I did feel like the UN player wasn’t advancing nearly as fast as he could. It’s a work in progress.

While I was setting OLYMPICA up, Gar ran ROADKILL RALLY (this was his first day helping me, Tuesday, and he loved lending a hand). The kids definitely loved this one, and why not? It has everything a kid would love– cartoony violence and a smug sense of humor.

ROAD KILL RALLY by Z-Man Games

Day Three: Finish Olympica, Set up and Play Uncharted Seas, Battle of the Steam Plume

Game Idea: Multiple Fleets compete to establish foothold on rich island owned by the Dragon Lords.  Alas, there is a large active volcano blocking the harbor, which often erupts a little lava.
Rules: Uncharted Seas (commercial)
Minis: Uncharted Seas, various fleets (commercial)

Wednesday dawned and the kids wanted to finish OLYMPICA 6mm. I pulled another game out of the lineup, which was a rewrite of the old Lilliputtian game I had done several camps ago.

No muss, no fuss. We played OLYMPICA out to a Webbie victory, and then I got Gar to run my favorite boardgame of ALL time, COSMIC ENCOUNTERS (Fantasy Flight Version). Even running the short game with four planets, I was suprised how quickly the kids got through two games of CE.

Packing up Cosmic Encounters after two quick games

Oh well, they had fun and Gar does seem confident running this game. It’s a particular favorite of his.

Day Four: An entire day of Uncharted Seas, much to my surprise.

The setup for the Uncharted Seas game was a replay of The Battle of the Steam Plume, which I have run at Williamsburg Muster and Cold Wars.  I just love having the Volcano.

The rest of Wednesday and ALL of Thursday was taken up with an Epic UNCHARTED SEAS game, which may require an epic narration, so suffice to say, I will break that one out into another post shortly.   I was not surprised that the game went long, but was dumbfounded at how much they wanted to play after literally playing ALL DAY LONG on Thursday.   We did play through to a conclusion.   I ran a lackadaisical Orc fleet just to keep the far end of the board from stagnating, and it worked perfectly.  Gar ran his current favorite fleet, the Shroud Mages, and the Humans, the Elves, the Dwarves and the Undead were also on the table.  More on this later.

Undead and Shrouds get a horrendous critical hit in the last turn of the game…

A lesson in not counting your chickens before they are hatched. The tiny dwarf cruiser misses a ram, gets boarded, and in the ensuing fight to the death with Orc Boarders from the Pillager, manages to kill every last one of them to capture the prize.

The Humans try a Da Vinci boarding attack, from a balloon. It works admirably and they take a Dwarven battleship!

The Elves hold off attacking anyone until quite late.. earning the sobriquet, “The Pacifists” in this fight.

I promote Uncharted Seas as the centerpiece of the weak, and this game was no exception.. big, bright, colorful, with lovely big fantasy models that I have used for many sea fights. I love Uncharted Seas, and I made a fan out of some of the kids. One of them even went and ordered DYSTOPIAN WARS stuff from Miniatures Market based upon this game.

So Thursday’s stuff was packed up and Friday dawned as the last day of camp.

DAY 5: Hey, Hey, it’s Zombietown USA

Game idea: You’re running two SWAT team members in a group that just barely made it back to main camp, only to find it overrun by the undead.
Rules: Zombietown USA, written by camp members a few years ago but still great.
Minis: Mostly HorrorClix Zombies and SWAT team members.

I ran a game that was actually designed by my campers a few years ago and modded by me a little, HEY, HEY, IT’S ZOMBIETOWN USA. This is a dirt simple zombies versus a SWAT Team game, and it went really well.. for such a simple game, it may have been a favorite for many kids.

Zombie Mutants attack. All figures repurposed HORROR CLIX miniatures from Whizkids.

SWAT troopers shake off the zombie horde to run for it, not caring that running makes noise that attracts more zombies.

A hairy moment early in the game where the SWAT guys get surrounded.

Towards the end of the game, many silly things happened, including Garrett discovering a laser-wielding alien that nearly killed him, and Grenade thrown into the foundations of a very ricket building (FROM THE UPSTAIRS) and even more zombies showing up. Not quite a horde, but a lot.

We had to have a winner to close the game out, so we nominated Gage’s SWAT guy as a winner, zipping down the zip line to the helipad. SO long, Suckers! I’m outta here!

The Winner, mostly by decree as he had gotten the farthest to the chopper, was Gage.

And that was camp! We played a ton of games– Fluxx, Cosmic Encounter, The Resistance, and Roadkill Rally board and card games, and Miniatures games of Olympica 6mm, Really Big Gladiators, Uncharted Seas and Zombietown USA. Reaction to the camp was overwhelmingly positive. I had one kid say “This was hands down the best camp all Summer, PLEASE run it again next Summer”
That is very gratifying.

Couple of Paperless Gaming Notes: I didn’t print out Munera Sine Milone on Monday.  We just ran the game from my Ipad E-Reader, and that worked just fine!  Olympica, the same story.  I did work from a rulebook for Uncharted Seas (it’s too complex not to) and used paper.   I only worked from one printout to run Zombietown USA, but it was left over from last year.

I was amazed at how fast the week went. Things went off without a hitch. It was mostly a positive pleasant experience, with a touch of drama here and there. Boys will be boys. I’m glad I threw this this year and I hope I can do it again in 2013.

Farewell! Until Next Year!


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Mister Nizz is found


Where have I been all week??

I’ve been running a gaming summer camp for Saint Stephens and Saint Agnes school in Alexandria Va. I got the “gig” on former HMGS president Del Stover’s recommendation. He ran the program last year, and it was billed as primarily a Lord of the Rings battle gaming camp. I told the folks at SSSA that I didn’t really do the “Games Workshop thing” but they seemed eager to have me there anyway.

So my program was a wee bit different. I tried to create a game design course for 12 year olds with the stated ‘graduation’ of running a game that we designed, with figures we painted, with terrain that we built. I had mixed results.

It was clear that the vast majority of students just wanted to play Warhammer in some format during the week.. nothing wrong with that, I suppose. I brought in a whole bunch of unpainted Warhammer stuff from my basement and they went crazy for it.

They were less enthralled with 54mms, but I loved the ones I bought… they were great and just right for painting novices, who need a lot of room to make mistakes. MY mistake was not accomodating (off the bat) the need for more advanced painters in the crowd.

Painting was the morning class every day, and it lasted until 11. On one day we had a terrain building workshop… on another, we built buildings.

I ran a game EVERY DAY which was exhausting to me. On Monday, it was Gladiator fighting using my friend Steve Gibson’s rules and figures. On Tuesday, we did Lord of the Rings. On Wednesday, we did Lord of the Rings again and The Rules with No Name, VSF style. We continued that game on Thursday, as it was immensely popular. I designed a combat chariot game for the class and ran it on Friday, and it, too proved to be wildly popular. Our graduation exercise (designing our own game) did not come off as I thought it would, but we had great fun with the combat chariots game instead. Not to mention the ice cream party afterward.

I loved running this camp. It was the most demanding GMing I’ve ever had to do, and the most creative I’ve had to be as a designer. I liked “my guys”, who were uniformly clever gaming geeks. I hope to have the opportunity to do it again.

Perhaps the greatest compliment I’ve had as a GM came from Thomas, one of the sharper knives in the drawer, as he saw me limping out of the administration building at the end of the week. “Mr. O’Hara.. .just wanted to tell you.. that Wild West game, with the Prussians and Giant Steam Robot, and the United States Sharpshooters, and the evil cultists.. that was the best wargame experience I’ve ever had! Could you come back and throw a whole week of games like THAT next year??? for the older kids??”

Clearly I need to work on the format, but I have an idea of where I want to go next year now, and what pushes the buttons of these guys. Some of them came to just paint miniatures. Some of them came to just play Warhammer brand X. Some of them liked everything. Some of them just liked watching a movie at lunch time. It’s hard to motivate everyone all the time. But I think I have an inkling of where to go with it if they ask me back.

Mister Nizz is found


Where have I been all week??

I’ve been running a gaming summer camp for Saint Stephens and Saint Agnes school in Alexandria Va. I got the “gig” on former HMGS president Del Stover’s recommendation. He ran the program last year, and it was billed as primarily a Lord of the Rings battle gaming camp. I told the folks at SSSA that I didn’t really do the “Games Workshop thing” but they seemed eager to have me there anyway.

So my program was a wee bit different. I tried to create a game design course for 12 year olds with the stated ‘graduation’ of running a game that we designed, with figures we painted, with terrain that we built. I had mixed results.

It was clear that the vast majority of students just wanted to play Warhammer in some format during the week.. nothing wrong with that, I suppose. I brought in a whole bunch of unpainted Warhammer stuff from my basement and they went crazy for it.

They were less enthralled with 54mms, but I loved the ones I bought… they were great and just right for painting novices, who need a lot of room to make mistakes. MY mistake was not accomodating (off the bat) the need for more advanced painters in the crowd.

Painting was the morning class every day, and it lasted until 11. On one day we had a terrain building workshop… on another, we built buildings.

I ran a game EVERY DAY which was exhausting to me. On Monday, it was Gladiator fighting using my friend Steve Gibson’s rules and figures. On Tuesday, we did Lord of the Rings. On Wednesday, we did Lord of the Rings again and The Rules with No Name, VSF style. We continued that game on Thursday, as it was immensely popular. I designed a combat chariot game for the class and ran it on Friday, and it, too proved to be wildly popular. Our graduation exercise (designing our own game) did not come off as I thought it would, but we had great fun with the combat chariots game instead. Not to mention the ice cream party afterward.

I loved running this camp. It was the most demanding GMing I’ve ever had to do, and the most creative I’ve had to be as a designer. I liked “my guys”, who were uniformly clever gaming geeks. I hope to have the opportunity to do it again.

Perhaps the greatest compliment I’ve had as a GM came from Thomas, one of the sharper knives in the drawer, as he saw me limping out of the administration building at the end of the week. “Mr. O’Hara.. .just wanted to tell you.. that Wild West game, with the Prussians and Giant Steam Robot, and the United States Sharpshooters, and the evil cultists.. that was the best wargame experience I’ve ever had! Could you come back and throw a whole week of games like THAT next year??? for the older kids??”

Clearly I need to work on the format, but I have an idea of where I want to go next year now, and what pushes the buttons of these guys. Some of them came to just paint miniatures. Some of them came to just play Warhammer brand X. Some of them liked everything. Some of them just liked watching a movie at lunch time. It’s hard to motivate everyone all the time. But I think I have an inkling of where to go with it if they ask me back.