HAWKs Expeditionary Force to NASHCON 2014

Buck

For the second year in a row a subset of the Harford Area Weekly Kreigspeilers (HAWKs) from the Baltrimore area headed down to NASHCON for the weekend of gaming.  This year’s expeditionary force was Dave, Chris, Duncan, Don, Greg, and me.

Packing Up for NASHCON 2014

We had signed up to run 15 games throughout the weekend.  We tried to pack lightly, but 15 games in scales running from 1:2400 naval to 28mm ancients require a lot of terrain, figures, and other paraphernalia.  We rented a 12-passenger van, loaded it with our gear, and headed southward.

Unpacking at NASHCON

The drive was long — over 12 hours.  Despite some traffic snarls along the way, the trip was uneventful.  We arrived Thursday night.  Gaming doesn’t begin until 1400 on Friday, so we had lots of time to unload the van and then divvy up all the gear for our various games.

Steve from Age of Glory setting up his booth at NASHCON

Some of the HAWKs take a tour of the Battle of Franklin

Before the gaming began, four of us took the opportunity to take a guided tour of the Battle of Franklin around the Carey House.  I didn’t know much about this battle.  Without the guide, I’m not sure we would have gotten much out of walking the area, as there were very few markers.  The guide was quite good.

The calm before the storm:  breakfast on Friday morning before all the gaming began

We all found it interesting how many things occurred during this short engagement that gamers often complain about when those things happen to them in a war-game.  Examples are when the entire Union army marched past the Confederates encamped just 200 yards off the road they were using, a battery standing up in desperate hand-to-hand combat against determined infantry, units not moving when the commander would like them to, veteran units in entrenchments running away, but green units in the open standing, etc.  I was quite pleased that I’ve seen all of these things happen in games using the Look, Sarge family of rules.  A good set of rules should enable or allow such events while not requiring them or constraining them to take place.

Our first gaming session involved Chris Palmer’s Battle of Five Armies game with Bear Yourselves Valiantly, Duncan’s Charted Seas WWII naval game, and my G.A.M.E.R. TM  Commandos game.

Chris' Battle of Fire Armies setup

Chris ran this twice, once at 1400 on Friday and again at 0900 on Saturday.

The Battle of Fire Armies underway

Chris going over the Bear Yourselves Valiantly rules with some players

Duncan’s naval game seemed to go well despite only have two players.

Duncan's Charted Seas WWII naval game

Here are three shots of my WWII skirmish game, using G.A.M.E.R. TM.  I talked Steve from Age of glory into joining us for the game.  He is usually running his booth and doesn’t get time to play.

Commandos get distracted from their objective to engage some Germans in the woods

Advancing commandos

The scenario involved a group of commandos attacking a coastal villa to seize and Enigma machine.  They are supported by some partisans.  The partisans arrived too late to do more than divert some of the Germans.  The Germans were on the ropes much of the game and has half a squad head for the hills at one point.  In the end, the commandos stormed the villa but were defeated in hand-to-hand fighting with a couple of guards and two officers with pistols.

Steve conducts an attack with his Germans

I only had two players for this game.  There were many more games being offered than gamers for this first session.  I guess that this convention is largely attended by locals who chose not to take off work on Friday to game.  Light weights!  Lots of people commented on the G.A.M.E.R. TM mechanics later.  I think if I had run the game on Saturday, I would have filled it up.  The folks like the mechanics.

Don and Greg ran a series of French and Indian War games.  Friday night it was Dr. Who during the FIW using the Dr. Who Miniatures game in a scenario based on the Curse of Fenric Tom Baker episode.  This scenario, however, involved a more modern Doctor and his companions.

My Acheson Creation fort -- first time on the table

Greg always seems to attract all the women at a convention into his Dr. Who games

Amy, Rory, and River advance up a road

Saturday morning and afternoon, Greg and Don ran Muskets and Tomahawks.  The morning session was supposed to be a series of small games that would influence the larger afternoon game.  Only two people showed up for the morning session, but they seems to have fun.  The afternoon session was over full and went really well.

Don explaining Muskets and Tomahawks

They used the overgrown fort in the center of the table to divide the two smaller games for the morning session.  It looked neat and gave me some ideas for some scenarios I might run in the future.

Muskets and Tomahawks Saturday morning

Duncan ran his War of 1812 game using Wellington Rules.  The scenario involves an American attack to repulse the British before the Battle of New Orleans.  The game outcome was quite similar to the real battle.

The British encampment

Duncan has written some very nice night rules for Wellington Rules that open up the possibility for friendly fire and really limit command and control in the dark.    With my well-known dice-rolling luck, I availed myself of the friendly fire rule many times.  I had a unit fire on Dave’s unit in the flank three times and rout it.  Once they did make contact with the enemy, they didn’t last long before bugging out themselves.

Battle rages

My unit in hunting shirts that caused more damage to friendly forces than the enemy

Dave Wood ran two Bear Yourselves Valiantly games on Saturday, a fantasy one and a Roman one.  I didn’t get any good pictures of the Roman game, but here are two pictures of the fantasy game.  I played in the fantasy one and rolled a statistically improbable number of ones, which did not help me accomplish my objective.  In the end, I had to concede victory to the forces of evil who led my elven prince into slavery.

Dave running his fantasy Bear Yourselves Valiantly game

A close up of the heated action near the stream

Duncan ran his WWII game with a mashup of LSNC WWII, A Union So Tested (ACW), and his own ideas.  He had four of six players, but the game went well with the attacking French eking out a victory.

I ran my Fate of Battle scenario, the Battle of the Mincio River.  I had four players and could have handled six.  All four players were largely running the game themselves by the end.  The French did not manage to cut the road to block the Austrians, but it was a hard-fought game.

Mincio River

This was a successful test of this scenario for a convention setting.

Our final event of the convention was a ten-player G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. TM underwater game.  This game, because of its unique terrain and crazy contraptions attracted numerous passers-by.  We even won an award from the Cigar Box Battle blog for superior presentation.

Scout subs and soldiers of the scientific expedition

The disabled Nautilus is an attractive target

The anti-Nemo soldiers of fortune advance to loot the Nautilus

Lots of activity. Note the giant octopus doing battle with the Atlantean walker.

John Ohlin, who I used to game with in Tallahassee many moons ago

After a quick breakfast Sunday morning we finished loading the van and headed home.  The ride back was faster than the ride down, because we only hit one traffic snarl along the way.

Despite low attendance numbers at NASHCON that caused most of our games to have light participation and two games not go at all (Chris’ first Battle of Five Armies game and Dave’s WWII Look, Sarge game), we had a good time.  The rental of the van made the trip much more comfortable than last year, so when we arrived home we all were in much better shape.

The stats:  Six HAWKs, 12 successfully run games, 2 games that didn’t run, and lots of lead purchased.

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