Tag Archives: TNGG

2011 Nigel Clarke Invitational Christmas Game

I honestly thought I was boned, trying to get to the annual Nigel Clarke game.  This is the Christmas event my gaming group, the TNGG people, throw pretty close to the end of the year.   The last few years have featured a re-themed CIRCUS MAGICUS race (“Circus Santicus”), and as far back as 2005 I even put one on, THE DARK SECRET OF SANTA TOWN.   End of the year games tend to be pretty goofy, high concept, low on rules and universally about Winter or Christmas.  Hosting duties this year were assumed by Steve Gibson, an old hand at the Christmas game.   Steve’s offering this year was Christmas zombies. Steve runs a lot of Zombie games, using the Ares Fantasy rules.



that’s a whole lot of zombies.


Ares Rulebook

We’ve played in Steve’s zombie games before and they usually are modern affairs set in a universe somewhat similar to Resident Evil.  Not this time!  This game was the Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge.  Small units from both the German and American armies blunder into a terror greater than any horror of war they could possibly imagine in the midst of a driving snow storm.

The Map

American and German troops start the game on the move– the Americans have two halftracks, one of which is disabled, the other has run out of gas and ammunition (a common theme in the Ardennes). The Germans also have a halftrack, which is on fumes.  There are three German units, all squad sized.  One enters from the top right corner of the map above, and ends up beset by a zombie horde.  Another is in the half track.  Another is taking refuge in building 1.  Most Americans ended up in buildings 2 or 3.  I ended up making a beeline for 2, then changing my mind when it became clear that zombies were present, so I made for the much smaller and more open building 4.   I entered from the bottom left corner.

Inistial move, my corner of the board

The rules were ARES Fantasy combat miniatures rules with some zombie detection and generation rules influenced by ALL THINGS ZOMBIE. I’ve played it before, and found the basic framework easy enough to understand, except for combat, which I had to watch carefully to grasp. I arrived late, so missed the initial couple of turns, but Steve graciously made a space for me in the game. Alas, my force wasn’t exactly a group of hard chargers. They were a small headquarters division, green soldiers except for the veteran sergeant I had along with us.

My Jeep only made it so far.

And they drove in directly from the Southeast Corner, as mentioned.

not exactly GI Joes

My guys were HQ soldiers, not exactly G.I. Joes. I had two green rifle squad guys and an experienced Sergeant with a Thompson SMG.  Fortunately I was entering the map with the only vehicle with sufficient gas in it.  My first encounter was with an advancing horde of reinforcing zombies, so I had to find shelter, fast.  The primary victory condition for any side was surviving through the upcoming snowstorm, which made the combat conditions less than optimal.

Grenade City!

The battle was brief actually.  There were more shots fired between Americans and Germans than humans and zombies.  Both German units in contact with the Americans were what I would characterize as “Grenade Happy”, tossing potato mashers at the Americans all willy-nilly.  This did a number on the Americans, but also did a fine job of attracting more zombies, much to everyone’s chagrin.

Bunkering down

Bunkering down as best I could

Enhanced by ZemantaI got my little HQ team to Building 4, where we prepared to climb up the stairs, barricade ourselves in on top of the stairs and be besieged by a ravening horde all evening, all the while trying to deal with staying alive in a blizzard when half the building is gone.  Other forces on the table were retreating to the safety of the houses, except for the German halftrack (which was highly zombie resistant) and the German squad in the upper right corner, which got surrounded and wiped out. See below for their fate.

So long, Germans!

The other American Squads eventually clustered in Building 2, which had the best shelter available and fewer entrances for zombies to assail.  They had the best shot at surviving the night.

Non Motorized Germans bunkering in

The other Germans, above, managed to make it building 1, and probably had a decent shot of surviving.

German Half Track winner

The halftrack, as seen above, was last seen exiting the area with every ounce of horsepower they could muster, followed by a giant horde of slaverng goons. I guess they might be “the winner”, but I suspect the ‘track only got a mile or so before running out of gas completely and being beset on all sides by the undead.

Simple concept, simple enough rules, great presentation. The Christmas theme was terrific, maybe the best yet. Hats off to Steve Gibson (and children) for putting this one on.

Chris Gibson sums it up like this: zombieswantbrainsforxmas.mp3

And Merry Christmas, Nigel!


Notes for Next Week’s Christmas Game

NORTHOP 2006: Return to the Pole*

As some of you might remember from next year, Harry Morris and I ran a Christmas game for our TNGG club at the Game Parlor, Chantilly Va. I really enjoyed that one and wanted to put together a sequel of sorts. So here it is, NORTHOP 2006: Return to the Pole*.

As you might recall, last years’ game ended with a decisive North Pole victory due to Sam Walton underestimating his opponents in an uncharacteristic fashion. This year, he hopes to put that behind him by doubling his forces and bringing in the Chanukah Gang as Allies. Walton’s primary target will be taking out Santa’s toy factory with ancilliary targets of taking as many presents with him when the raiding force exfiltrates (industrial espionage, of course)

Design Notes:

We will likely be changing from TRWNN (which worked after a fashion but proved to be somewhat unbalanced) to BLOOD AND SWASH, heavily converted. Here are some conversion and scenario notes for next week.


Walt has:

For the North Pole Force:

Several Armed Elves from the Amazon line
A decent (unarmed) painted Father Christmas (acts like a leader)
2 Mounties (reserve figs.. they have rifles)
Professor Marvel and the Naughty Elf (controlling snowmen)
A couple of unpainted Copplestone evil snowmen
more Elves from Amazon (recent purchase)
About a squad (12 figs maybe) of the new Eureka toy soldiers, unpainted
A Horde (dozens) of gingerbread people, wielding candy canes

For the Wal*Mart Force:
Two squads unpainted hassidic gunmen (The Channukah Gang)
TWO Wal*Mart trucks this year
One large batch (approx 20 figs) “Longshoremen’s Union” figures


Many many gingerbread houses (ceramic)
miscelaneous presents and such
some hills

Harry has:

For the North Pole Force:

Evil Snowmen from Copplestone
Teddy Bear troops?
Santa with a bazooka
2 “Bumbles” or abominable snowmen, from the Rudolph show (souveniers).

For the Wal*Mart Force:

About three squads (maybe four) of SWAT figures, in different colors.


A nice white felt groundcloth with sparklies in it.
Some christmas packages in scale.
A nice large Ruined Factory
Diverse little hills and snowbanks, styrofoam

Steve Gibson has:

The new glacier terrain bits from Heroscape
(more SWAT Guys?)

Combining this all together, we get a force that looks like this:


Santa (Commanding) Santa can move independently or stop and command any North Pole Force on the board, including the beasts and snowmen.
Sherman, Lead Elf and Executive Officer (Commands , 9″ radius)

About 15 Armed Elves. Each Elf can command up to 3 stands of gingerpeople previously dormant (not commanded this turn) Gingerpeople stands. Once a gingerperson stand is commanded, a bead is placed upon it to show that.

Professor Marvel, Naughty Elf and the Evil Snowmen. The Professor commands Snowmen to do things in his turn. He can move and command up to 4″ radius. Naughty Elf (a girl) can beguile once a turn, which means the opposing unit rolls versus save or loses an action this turn. She works in tandem with the professor.

Mounties: two Canadian Mounties, 1 mounted and 1 not. Both with rifles. Use as reserve.
Bumbles: Abombinable Snowmen toys. Large Beserk Melee beasts. can be commanded by Santa, Sherman, and Professor Marvel. Use as reserve.

The Ginger Horde: Dozens of stands of gingerpeople, in single, double and triple stands. They wield melee weapons only and have to be controlled by elves or Santa.

Toy Soldier Platoon: Act like ordinary unit, but don’t take morale checks for unit losses (other than leader).

Teddy Bear Unit: Act like ordinary unit, but they ignore the first hit of the game.


Leader: Ebenezer Walton
Captain Diaz: Executive Officer.

Grey Squad: About 5-7 guys with modern weapons.
White Squad: Ditto
Blue Squad: DItto

We may need more of these.

Longshoreman thugs. About 15 to 20 gangs of melee thugs. Can be split into two groups if neccesary.

Conversion Notes for Blood and Swash:

Changing Character Labels

Swashbuckler = Mythic Hero
Hero = Hero
Swordsman = Veteran
Man-at-Arms = Stooge
New Category = Drone
New Category = Berserker

A Drone has stats similar to the other categories, but has to be directed by OTHER characters to take actions.
E.G., Gingerbread people

A Berserker requires a controller.. but when it isn’t being controlled it can act in a random (often vicious) manner.


Good Guys

Santa: Mythic Hero
Sherman: Hero
All the Elves: Hero
Professor Marvel: Veteran
Wooden Soldiers: Veterans
Teddy Bears: Veterans
Naughty Elf: Veteran
Mounties: Hero and Veteran
Bumbles: Berserker
Snowmen: Drone
Gingerbread Men: Drones

Bad Guys

Ebenezer Walton: Mythic Hero
Captain Diaz: Hero
All the SWAT guys: Hero
Longshoremen: Veteran
The Chanukah Gang: Veteran + Hero

Battleplan: One factor that hampered Wal*Mart’s progress last year was the terrain stopping the truck outside of the village. Walton has doubled the trucks, and plans on penetrating as far into the perimeter of NPV before deploying his teams. IT should be interesting, and a lot bloodier for the Santa side!

* ..

NOTE: Steve rightly pointed out that NORTHOP 06 didn’t sound macho enough, so we’re changing this to OPERATON POLAR VENGEANCE: The Battle of the Factories

AAR: Dark Secret of Santa Town

It’s a HoHoHOlocaust!!!


In the Grim Darkness of the North Pole, there is only War….

In a future that is only the day after tommorrow away, a corporate colossus spans the Earth. The fortuitous marriage of the scion of the venture capital giant Scrooge and Marley, Ltd. and the great-great daughter of Sam Walton, Lavinia Walton, has created a partnership that generates a remarkable asset.. Samuel Scrooge-Walton, named in honor of Lavinia’s illustrious ancestor. The merging of one of the world’s greatest sources of capital and the world’s leading retailer was a recipe for global domination.

After a remarkable youth, highlighted by an energetic and innovative approach towards solving the problem of the Wal*mart-Target war (leaving parts of Minneapolis St. Paul radioactive to this day), Sam came into his maturity, and the controlling interest in the mother corporation, when he arrived at the age of 25. Almost immediately he commenced working on the “Strike North” campaign. Long had he gazed on the one, last uncontrolled toy distribution network left on the face of the earth. He had to control it, and the time had come for aggressive negotiation.

Against the advice of key subordinates, Sam prepared a strike force of elite Wal*Mart Security teams Blue, White and Grey (named in honor of the store’s heraldic colors), and allowed reprentatives of the Longshoreman’s union (purchased long ago) and the Sweat Shop Union (from China and the Latin American shops) to accompany as observers. “We are up against indiginous personnel with almost no weapons, men!” Sam gleefully chortled in the mission pre-brief. “This should be a walkover”. He chortled with glee as he swiftly approached his target.

Full Backstory piece and mission briefs located here

The Game!

in the frigid darkness of a North Pole morning, a certain village wakes to another day’s frenetic activity. The dominant industry of the town has an impending deadline to make, and everywhere there is signs of rush, as the evening shift of skilled workers goes home to rest and the morning shift takes over.

Suddenly, the warning klaxon blares out:
Alarm! Alarm! Outer defenses have been breached! There is a large shape approaching Gingerbread Village at a high rate of speed. The object is metallic, of high density, and with many life forms inside!

Santa Claus, the Legend of the North, confers with chief elf Sherman: “Get the guard elves to the inner defenses. Activate the gingerbread people… and for God’s sake, MOVE THOSE PRESENTS INTO THE WAREHOUSE!!!

Santa grimaces and comments to the Bumble: “Dang it, this happens EVERY YEAR!!! And we have the entire Teddy Bear army locked up in the South fighting off the Mouse King!”

GM Note: Mouse King is a reference to last year’s Christmas Game, which featured Marxist Mouse soldiers and Brave Teddy Bear defenders of the North Pole

Elves and gingerbread people (hastily dragooned into the militia, grabbing for their peppermint stick melee weapons) burst into a frenzied activity to prepare for invaders.

(above) Santa knows he can call upon his friends in the Royal Canadian Mounties, Sergeant Preston, Rex the Wonder Horse, King and Dudley. But he might not need to, with the troops he has at hand…

… such as the Professor, Naughty Elf, and the Professor’s Animated Snowman squad.

(GM notes: the professor can cause the snowmen to ambulate and attack. Naughty elf has the power to “Beguile” humans when the professor spanks her. This equates to a human peforming a ‘duck back’ if in cover or just standing still)

(above) The vast majority of troops on hand, however, are the Gingerbread folk in the nearby village. The elves dragoon them into service with the weapons on hand, mostly giant peppermint sticks.

(above) On the horrizon, the behemoth approachs like a fast land-whale…

(above) CRASH! The Wal*Mat Offense force barrels on to the table, Goes about 100 more feet and crashes into a snow drift. Sam, in the command center, curses. He had meant to penetrate the village itself.

The grey team pops out and moves towards target quickly.

(above 2) The right flank of the invasion force hangs open precariously… fortunately, gingerpeople don’t move fast.

(above) Sherman commands gingerpeople to move the packages indoors.

(above) Meanwhile, Boomer, the littlest grenadier elf, bravely encounters the Wal*Mart truck.

… and we all discover that THIS brave little elf is aptly named.



(above) Boomer is concussed; he lays there happily in the snowbank, thinking happy thoughts.

(above) Blue Team joins Grey Team as the Gingers line up for the gingerbread wave attack.

See that brown felt piece? It’s ginger goo left from a gingerbread casualty destined for the rebaking ovens.

(NOTE: incoming “Dead” Gingers went to the “bake pile” in groups of four. At the start of each turn, you rolled 1D6 for each bake pile. If it matched how many stands were in that pile, the stand was placed in the Biscuit shop.

(above) Sam Scrooge-Walton jumps out and runs for protection behind the grey squad. This is not going as planned. He whistles up for some longshoremen reinforcments, but only one is bellicose to stop cowering in the back of the truck.

(above) On the right flank of the Wal*Mart attack, White Team is doing markedly better.

(above 2) The gingerbread wave on the left flank was awesome. Here, the chef “Goops” a Blue Team soldier.

GM Note: A Ginger Person can fire (twice) a big gob of icing at a target before dissolveing. These are “Shooters”. The icing halts movement for a turn

We got a man down!!!

(above) Freshly baked reinforcements rush up to cover the left flank. That brown felt is ginger goo from a gingerperson casualty.

Grey team goes down (mostly) due to head wounds from melee (mostly). Blue team engages a couple of multiple attack stands… things look bad.

(above) Cute and cuddly doesn’t equal “Stupid.” Here, Wilma and Boomer hide in the snowbank created by the truck explosion and let the “big cookies” catch lead for them.

“You Hear that, human? That’s the Jingle Bells of DOOM, and they’re ringing for YOU!!!

(above) A longshoreman summons the courage to join in. See that multiple candy stick base up there? It was the best fighter the gingers had, and it kicked butt with three attacks per turn.

(above) Blastina (r), Bronson (c) and Boomer (l, under partial cover), engage White Team directly. They must sense weakness.

(above) Some of the faster Gingers (on sleds) approach on the run.

(above 2) Blastina and Bronson don’t know of the reinforcements arriving right behind them. Good thing; they are now riddled with bullets.

(above) The Longshoremen finally show up in force; they show the SWAT guys how it’s done; six bat-wielding Longshoremen to one Ginger turns Gingerbread people into ginger goo!

(above) Blue team, in extremis, is bailed out by the Longshoremen..

(above) Bronson gives White Team a lesson on how sawed off shotguns are no fun at close range.

“Mercy, please!”

“I’m sorry, you’ve been Naughty!” (BOOOM!)

(above) The tide might have turned a bit with the arrival of the Longshoremen, but Sam now knows this battle is lost. “Retreat, boys! Retreat! There will be a another day!” he howls, as he runs for the comms unit to call in a chopper extraction. “Curse you, Claus!!!! You haven’t heard the last of meeeeee!”

As he gazed out on the smoking ruin of of the Wal*Mart assault, Santa laughed a cheeful “Ho Ho HO!”…

These Waltons are amateurs.. we’ve been fighting a war at the North Pole every year for a thousand years!”

How did you know how to defeat him, Santa?” asked Sherman

‘Tis Simple, Sherman.. I knew all about it in advance, due to my highly skilled intelligence network. After all, I know when you’ve been sleeping, I know when you’re awaaaake…” shouted Santa over his shoulder, as he hustled back to the Workshop to supervise another job lot of toys getting prepped for shipment.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!


White Team: All Dead or severly wounded.

Grey Team: one dead, three unconscious, one alive.

Blue Team: one unconscious.

No Longshoremen casualties.

No Sweat Shop union casualties.

Elves: Four elves severely wounded.

Countless Gingerbread casaulties.

Clearly, The North Pole was victorious. No presents were extracted, nobody got kidnapped, and no industrial secrets were compromised.

Christmas was saved!

Wal*Mart, suffering a bloody nose, vowed to try again next Yuletide.

Technical Notes

The rules were heavily modified RULES WITH NO NAME (originally by Brian Ansell, heavily modified by me and many others over the years). I have conversion notes, mission briefs, North Pole Creature notes, and etc. available at the following link:

http://mrnizz.50megs.com/darksecretdownload.htm (50megs popup warning!)

TRWNN works very well for this game, but it badly needs tinkering. The Elf-controlling the Gingerbread thing did give the North Pole side an awesome advantage in melee (not ranged) combat, and having fewer troops on the bad guy side didn’t help much, even if they did have autofire weapons.

I tried the modern rules conversion for autofire (Foundry’s street chaos rules) and found them too complex and slow for our game, we went back to a modified “Gatling gun” approach towards autofire.

As in many of our Western games, Duck Backs (but NOT recovery) were quickly abandoned as a game slower.

This game was concieved by Walt O’Hara and executed by Walt and Harry Morris, who provided most of the terrain pieces (except for the village and factory), the snowmen, various Wal*Mart teams, Santa and the bumble. I provided all of the Elves, the Mounties, the Longshoremen, the Gingerbread People, and various terrain bits.

Figures were a real hodgepodge of a lot of everything, mostly Eureka, Copplestone and Foundry.

Picture of “Doctor Jeckyl” above is copyright 2005 Parroom Station.

Special thanks to Anne O’Hara for painting all those candy sticks for me.


Speaking from my own perspective, this was one of the funnest games I’ve ever run, with exactly the right crowd to play it. I just wish we had run it earlier in the month so that we could have had about 4 more players. I look forward to a rematch.

Oh; and the truck was donated to a deserving kid…