On Saturday I made the trip to the HAWKS annual one-day mini con, Barrage. I know the HAWKS from games at the HMGS cons (as well as knowing Buck Surdu for a long time), so was expecting a quality event and I weas not disappointed. It was a great time and well worth the two hour drive over and back.
Barrage was held in the Havre de Grace Community Center, which offered an excellent venue for an event of this size. Everything was housed in one large main hall, with gaming tables in the center and dealers around the edge. They had a Flames of War tournament set up on one end and the gaming tables throughout the rest of the space offered plenty of room to get around. The space was also really well lit, which was a refreshing change from many bigger convention spaces. Even my camera phone was able to get decent pictures with the ample light. The HAWKS are also long time convention gamers and so were sure to provide plenty of time on each table for set-up and tear-down of the games, which helped to make everything smooth and easy going. They also had a nice concession stand and gave their GMs a couple of dollars credit for concessions, which is nice. Overall, the standard of games put on was very good, there was a nice little selection of dealers, and everyone in attendance (over 100 attendees) seemed to be having a grand time.
I had signed up to run my Roman Naval game, using the same scenario and rules as I had done at Historicon. In this one, the Romans represent one fo the fleets organized by Pompey to clear out the pirates in the year 68 BCE. Their opponents are a fleet of pirates, who having learned of the approach of the Roman squadron are attempting to escape with their lives and their ill-gotten gains. In the first turn, the Romans got all three of their movement cards for the turn in a row before the pirates moved and so charged ahead into the center of the table in a rough line. When the pirates finally started moving, they were able to aim to punch a hole through the Roman lines knowing they had several move cards in a row coming. The pirates in this game did a good job of playing to their strength, using the speed, maneuverability, and better crews of their light ships to repeatedly oar rake the larger Roman vessels and slow them down.
As the fleets jockeyed around, a hole opened in the center of the line and the pirate admiral ran his squadron toward it. The usual confused scrum of ships developed to the left and right of the center. On the Roman left, one of the pirate squadrons got the worst of it, with several ships damaged and captured. The other player on that side was able to escape with most of his ships intact, but lost his treasure ship to the Romans. On the right, the pirate commander sliced past the Romans with a couple of oar rakes, but his slow moving cargo ship was left behind and captured. He turned his ships around to make a run at recapturing the treasure ship, but then decided that it was not going to happen and began to retreat. This led to the hilarious situation of 2 pirate ships rowing furiously in reverse being pursued by two Roman ships rowing furiously in reverse. The pirate admiral was the most successful, exiting with most of his own fleet, his treasure ship, and even a captured Roman trireme or two. Overall, the game was ruled a draw as the pirate fleet escaped mostly intact, but had to leave behind almost all of their treasure ships. Everyone seemed to have a fine time and the rules tweaks I’ve been working on since Historicon did the trick. I’ll be running the game again at Fall In! (on Saturday at 1 PM), so if you are interested, look me up.
After taking my game down I crusied around checking out the other games and had a little lunch. I also checked ou the dealers, where one of the chaps had brough virtually the entire line of Crusader Miniatures. I was able to pick up the Crusader Irish wolfhounds that I had been searching for for quite some time to add to my Saga Irish force.
In the afternoon, I jumped into Duncan Adams’ War of 1812 game using Buck’s Wellington Rules. I had not played these since way back in College Station, but we played a lot of games of these (and even more of their predecessor, Santa Anna Rules) while Buck was there in Texas. These rules have some great mechanisms that I really like but which are not comp[atible with my usual terrible dice rolling! The scenario, Crysler’s Farm, was set in 1813 during the American campaign to take Montreal . Our troops represented the rearguard of the American army which turns to attack the British that had been pursuing us for days. Our troops were green and our leaders were inept. The British were neither of these things… and defending. We did have superior numbers, but terrain and dice served to negate those handily. Our force were in march column coming out of the woods and had to cross a deep ravine which was defended by a long line of skirmishers. Normally skirmishing troops can be brushed aside and while they may inflict some losses, it is not usually crippling. However, if those skirmishers consitently roll high (really high)…
We sent a flank march through the woods to turn the main British line, but our troops faltered at the ravine, taking several turns to cross (I myself generated miniumum movement three turns in a row) and accumulating lots of stragglers. When I had finally crossed and paused to reform my ranks, my officers were barely able to keep up with the disorder being brough on my the enemy artillery and the continued harassment of the British skirmishers. The flank march had reached it’s place, but the main line was in no position to threaten the front, so we had no choice but to push forward before the British turned and crushed the flank march piecemeal. Predictably, massive stragglers were generated from crossing every obstacle, from every ragged charge, and from the continued accurtate shooting of the British. Eventually the majority of our line was broken and in total disarray and we ceded the field to the British. Our plan was OK (given the quality of our troops and leaders), but the British never panicked and methodically crushed us. Despite a totally inept showing, the game was a lot of fun and looked fantastic. Duncan is also running this game at Fall In! (it won and award at Historicon), so check it out.
I thoroughly enjoyed Barrage and if you are within your driving range for a one-day event (I’m from Texas, so my driving range is pretty far), I highly recommend making it next year. The HAWKS are excellent hosts and they go out of their way to make sure everyone has a great time. They were frequently seen during the day checking in with GMs, directing players to table with empty spots, etc., and the extra effort really shines through.
Straight from the Painting Desk
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