Monday, March 31, 2014

Avalon Hill's Classic Civilization (1980) at Gary Con VI

To close out the Gary Con VI festivities this year, a handful of us opted to play Avalon Hill's Classic Civilization (1980).  I snapped a few pics though we didn't complete the game.  We all agreed to meet next year and start quite a bit earlier and try to get in a full game on Sunday.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Chainmail and Little Wars, H. G. Wells to TSR

A couple of the joys of small convention that cater to Old School wargaming are Little Wars and Chainmail.  The first is considered the first rules for playing with miniatures, a "wargame."  Even if it isn't a "tabletop" game, since it was meant to be a floor game.  The latter was an early ruleset from TSR that took modern wargaming into the realms of fantasy.  I was able to participate in two Chainmail games this year at Gary Con VI but this is the first time I have participated in a Little Wars game anywhere.

The first of my two Chainmail scenarios was played on a sand table, essentially a sandbox with legs.  These have been around in spirit forever.  Or as Terry Kuntz, Paul Stormberg, and Kevin Maurice might put it, at least since Alexander picked up a stick to show his generals what he planned to take next. Certainly, the old school miniatures wargamers of the Sixties used them and there was one in the Gygax basement on Center Street in Lake Geneva then, and a recreation in that basement where we played a Viking/Saxon scenario.

I managed to get in a second game of Chainmail, this time hosted on site at the Lodge and organized by Kevin Cabai,  His scenario portrayed the Battle of Sarn Athard, an Elves versus Dwarves ambush straight out of Tolkien.  Kevin really sets a fantastic table and it was great fun.

Finally, I participated in a Little Wars scenario hosted by John Bobek.  His scenario, For Queen and Country, pitted the Bengal Lancers against the Pashtun Tribes.  The canon being uses fired ordinance (without gunpowder, of course!) and pieces knocked down had to be removed from the field of play.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Divine Right: TSR's Classic Fantasy Wargame

One of the highlights for me is playing in the annual game of Divine Right as set up by John Appel.  Each year, I have joined him, Steve Sullivan, and Kifflie Scott, and Dave, in the epic struggle to control a fantastical land.

In short, despite controlling most of the northern territories for much of the game, I was thwarted in my attempts to hold my title from last year as Steve managed to knock Kiff out of the action and gain enough victory points to secure the lead late in the contest.  Congrats to everyone on a great tradition well played!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Studio McVey Assembles Resin Minis

Over on the Studio McVey YouTube channel, there is a new video titled "Assembling Limited Edition resin miniatures." Enjoy!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Kingmaker - Classic Avalon Hill Wargamey-Boardgame

I'm playing a number of classic boardgames/board-wargames at Gary Con VI this (long) weekend and yesterday that meant playing Kingmaker (1974) from Avalon Hill.  As described on Board Game Geek -
Kingmaker simulates the Wars of the Roses, the period of sporadic Civil War in England between 1450 and 1490. Ruled by a weak and mentally unstable king, Henry VI, demoralized by the defeat in France at the end of the Hundred Years War, and encouraged by the ambitions of Richard, Duke of York, and his sons; the country's Noble families used their large private armies in attempts to gain control of the government.

The game is based on the premise that the powerful Noble families used the Lancastrian and Yorkist princes as pawns in a greater game of gaining control of England. Players control factions using their military and political power to control and influence the royal heirs, supporting the heir in their control as king while trying to take down all of the other heirs.
I've always had fun playing this game and introducing it to new players, young and old.  Some folks do not love the events deck which can be brutal to those who do not gird their strategy against any eventuality, but I find the unpredictability of plagues and calls to duty as well-based in historical possibility. So, too, when the deck is used to determine the outcome of battles, there is a chance that the nobles involved can perish, leaving a player's plans in disarray.  However, Kingmaker is also a game where someone can lose everything in the course of their attempts to control an heir to the throne, yet turn things around while switching sides and supporting yet another heir. I also find that to be true enough in spirit to actual history so as to make it a fair expression of what can happen in the game.

We played with three and managed to finish in three hours, including a couple of breaks which cut actual game time down to about two and a half hours.

I was dealt a solid group right from the start

Fred's son was holding some good cards as well

Fred's cards were decent but without many individual nobles

We all had some work getting our nobles closer to one another and although I snapped up Margaret in Coventry, a plague knocked her and one of my nobles out right away.  So, too, my noble Scrope, who I made the Captain of Calais, sailed down and sat on young Richard, and he too was wiped out by plague.  It seemed every heir I gathered would be struck down.  No matter, there are more of them.

Wearing my new lucky Beholder hat (Thanks diaglo Dave!), I plotted and schemed my way into destroying several more heirs even as Richard the elder and Henry remained in their starting locations of York and London, respectively.

I was able to use my connections in Cornwall to halve Fred's starting forces and although my own nobles kept getting drawn back to their territories to quell revolts, I was able to keep their factions strong enough to deter direct assaults for awhile.  I was also able to gather York's Edward and George in the battle with Fred's subsequently-executed noble then remove them from the equation.

It all came down to Fred's son making a move on the largest of my thin-spread forces, but some bad weather held him at bay and I was able to slip from his grasp.  Finally, a lucky chance of gaining the arch-bishopric of York at the same time as Henry was called up to Preston allowed my far-flung forces to snag the heads of both households.  With the highest of the bishoprics in my possession, as well as the chancellery, I was able to call a parliament and force the remaining heir, Lancaster's Edward, Prince of Wales, by way of Writ, into striking distance.  Everyone attended and the forces were close enough that a mere majority would be the scant advantage once the King's Peace was ended.  Knowing how swiftly even that slight lead can vanish, I chased down the final obstacle to holding the sole heir and finished the dirty job in Northern Wales.  Both forces numbered in the 600s and no nobles died in the actual battle.  The Prince was dead, Long Live the King!

We had a great time and I thanked them both for joining me.  I did have some good luck in the cards but, as I said during the game, "Fortune favors the bold."  And I think they would both agree that I jumped on each opportunity and didn't allow any of the bad turns I had to deter me from taking full advantage of the offsetting good turns.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wappel paints the Warlord of the Sisters of the Raven

The wonderful Wizard of Wappel has treated us with some photos of his painting of the Warlord of the Sisters of the Raven. See more here!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hirst Arts Inn with Robert Shears

Over on his YouTube channel, Rob Digs Gaming, Robert Shears has a new video titled "Hirst Arts D&D Inn Project - Part 5: Great Room, Kitchen & Bar." Enjoy!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Ernie and Tom and Gaming

Some of the great fun I have been having in the last year can largely be attributed to the gaming I have been able to get in with Ernie Gygax and Tom Wham.  Sometimes we even get to play all together.  This last Friday, as a run up to Gary Con VI, we enjoyed an afternoon of boardgaming, this time with a Tom Wham original, Aliens Are Arriving, as well as a game of Stone Age.  Such a good time.  I feel very lucky to be alive and gaming with these friends.  Huzzah!

Tom Wham shows off the cover of his Aliens are Arriving game

The aliens just keep coming

And each of the players builds a nation to defend against them

There are Pilots with jets and rockets, gunners with artillery, scientists and any number of unique weapons to thwart the aliens

There is a good bit of stretegery involved, as Ernest recalled from previous games

You only have six slots to fill but can replace lesser slots as the aliens become more difficult, and you keep track of your own kills

There is some die rolling but luck is no substitute for planning

We also slipped in a game of Stone Age

It's an old favorite and we had a lot of fun

Don't forget to pick up your copy of the Fighting Fire - Ernie Gygax Benefit Adventure to help our friend in his time of need.