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Huzzah 2013 Day 1

Yes, it’s that time of year again, Huzzah is upon us, starting today. I haven’t been blogging much and so didn’t have any lead up posts, but will try to at least blog the convention while I’m here.

I rolled in to Portland at about 3:15 to the convention’s new location at the Doubletree in South Portland.  Right next to the airport.  It’s as beautiful as it sounds.  The internet doesn’t do sarcasm well so, in case you might be confused, that’s sarcasm.  Location aside though this venue is probably going to be better than the old location, which the convention has already outgrown.

I strolled around a bit to get my bearings and located the rooms where the con is being held.  Not a lot was set up yet as it is still way early, but a few vendors were set and ready to go.  I had a chance to chat with Gordon from Adler Hobby for a few minutes; they are running demos of Bolt Action all weekend long. There were a few games going on but pretty quiet so far.  That will all change starting around 6pm or so.  My first game is at 7pm and is an American Civil War battle, the Battle of Brandy Station using Regimental Fire and Fury for the rules.  I’m very much looking forward to it as I haven’t had a chance to play Regimental yet and am hoping to get my gaming group going on it.  Having some play time with it will make introducing the rules easier.

Time for dinner now then a short nap before the long night ahead I think.  There is a Cracker Barrel right next to the hotel guaranteeing that I will return to MA 25 pounds heavier than when I left.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2013 in Convention, Feature

 

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Sam Mustafa’s “Maurice”

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to play “Maurice“.  These rules from Sam Mustafa specialize in recreating battles from the 18th century and is suitable for games featuring armies from the 1710′s-1720′s, some of whom were still partially pike-armed, through the American War of Independence.

Maurice is about a year old at this point, so plenty of people have reviewed it already.  That’s fine, I’ll add my two cents anyway.

A key factor of the game for me, is that you can base your figures however you want.  I have a low tolerance for games that insist upon a particular basing style and/or number of figures per base.  Want to try a new game?  Fine, all you have to do is re-base all your current troops or paint new ones, your choice!  I won’t buy that set of rules.  An infantry or cavalry unit in Maurice is 4 stands of troops, based however you please.  Artillery is 1 stand.  Measurements in the game are in base widths (BW) rather than inches or centimeters.  So if you have your figures based on a 40mm square base, then your basic unit of measurement is 40mm.  The easiest thing to do if you have odd base sizes is to make some measuring sticks using dowel rods.  This makes it easy to game with whatever figures you have from 6mm up to 28mm; scaling takes care of itself.

The game is card driven and this concerned me when I bought the rules.  I had every expectation that the game would play more like a game of Pokemon (Pikachu I choose YOU!) or Magic the Gathering than like a ‘serious’ wargame.  I’m happy to be able to say my fears were unfounded.

Each player maintains a hand of action cards during the game and may have in their hand any number of cards from 0 to 10 at a given time.  Each card has a number known as its span, which is used to activate units, and also has either an action, which can be used to modify how a phase of play happens, or an event which a player can use in place of taking any action during a turn.  Some of these cards can be used to modify your own play, or to prevent your opponent from taking some action he wants.

In order to move a force (a group of units selected to activate together) a player must discard a number of cards whose total span is equal to or greater than the distance in BW from the commander to the force.  The player has a choice of actions he can have a force undertake: march, charge, bombard, rally or pass.  Passing does not require card expenditure, but does allow a player to draw the maximum number of replacement cards.  The other options are pretty much as they sound.  The only one that is a bit odd is bombard.  If artillery wishes to fire at long range (>4 BW) it must be ordered to bombard; it cannot fire long range during the free volley phase during which infantry is able to shoot; artillery can fire at short range during the volley phase though.

Needing to play cards, and the ability to activate only one force per turn seriously limits an army commander’s flexibility, and this is completely in keeping with the combat of the times.  Unless you keep your army in a relatively compact front (and even if you do), you are not going to be able to have all of your troops acting every turn.  This is very different from many games and I love the feel of it.  It really feels like you are struggling to maneuver a large army where your communications are limited to a guy on a horse with a hastily written note.  And the guy might get lost enroute to his destination.  Or the note might get wet and the ink smudged.  You get what I’m saying; command and control in Maurice is difficult.

Melee combat is short and sharp always ending with someone falling back, again this is in keeping with the combat of the period where long drawn out melees were uncommon.  In Black Powder, I have charged into combat at the beginning of a game and had the resultant combat last the rest of the game.  That isn’t going to happen in Maurice.

Musketry can be very deadly.  Each base that is able to fire rolls one die, so for the most part a unit shooting is rolling 4 dice.  Once hits are made, they must be confirmed by rolling again to see if they have an effect.  This is similar to Black Powder except there is no morale save.  Once a unit’s stamina (determined by the number of bases, 4 for most units, 1 for artillery) is exceeded it is broken and removed from play.  Hits can be removed from all units in a force by using the Rally action and doing so is essential to success in Maurice.

This was only my first game, but I can see myself becoming a big fan of Maurice.  There is more to the rules than I discussed above and perhaps I will cover it in a later post.  Suffice it to say if you are looking for a set of rules that will allow you to recreate combat in the Age of Reason and which will give you a good period feel and not be overly complex so you can teach you gaming friends the rules in an afternoon, Maurice is a very, very good choice.  If you’re the type who obsesses over the technical differences between a Brown Bess and a Potsdam Musket, what we called a “thread counter” back in my re-enacting days, Maurice might not satisfy.  For the rest of us though it is an excellent game.

Below are a few photos of the game I played with my friend Adam at The Whiz.  All of the toys and terrain were provided by Adam:

Armies in their starting positions.  My British/Hanoverian force is closest and Adam's d' Argent imagiNation force is opposite

Armies in their starting positions. My British/Hanoverian force is closest and Adam’s d’ Argent imagiNation force is opposite

After a few rounds of ineffective artillery fire, Adam starts the real fighting by advancing his cavalry on my left.

After a few rounds of ineffective artillery fire, Adam starts the real fighting by advancing his cavalry on my left.

Knowing my 2 regiments of Dragoons are outmatched by his 4 regular cavalry units, I move part of my infantry to help cover.

Knowing my 2 regiments of Dragoons are outmatched by his 4 regular cavalry units, I move part of my infantry to help cover.

As the cavalry forces bleed each other dry, a furious struggle over the town raged on the left-center.

As the cavalry forces bleed each other dry, a furious struggle over the town raged on the left-center.

As their comrades busily kill each other on the left, half of my and Adam's armies sit idly by, whittling, singing and swapping stories.  Neither of us can afford to divert the commander's attention for even one turn to get these idle wings moving.

As their comrades busily kill each other on the left, half of my and Adam’s armies sit idly by, whittling, singing and swapping stories. Neither of us can afford to divert the commander’s attention for even one turn to get these idle wings moving.

Ultimately I was able to break all of Adam's cavalry (at the cost of all of my own) and the majority of his right wing.  I wasn't able to close the deal and break his army though.  But given he was reduced to 1 morale point and I wasn't nearly so bad off, this was declared a minor victory for me.

Ultimately I was able to break all of Adam’s cavalry (at the cost of all of my own) and the majority of his right wing. I wasn’t able to close the deal and break his army though. But given he was reduced to 1 morale point and I wasn’t nearly so bad off, this was declared a minor victory for me.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2013 in Product Review

 

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Aerodrome 1.1 at Huzzah!

In my day 2 post I mentioned that I played in the Aerodrome tournament at Huzzah! but failed to take any photos.  Fortunately Andre, the GM did take pictures and has posted some of them on his blog:

Aerodrome 1.1 Tournament

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Convention

 

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Huzzah 2012 – Day 3

Finally the last Huzzah! post.  I hate having so much stuff that isn’t wargame related to do.

Day 3 this year culminated in the Battle of Dennewitz.  This event began as an idea put forward by, who else, Rich Claydon of Boston Trained Bands on the Black Powder New England Yahoo group months ago.  The thought was to play a large battle that board members would contribute troops for that we could use as a showcase for our outstanding brushwork (by ‘our’ I mean, ‘not mine’), show Warlord’s Black Powder rules in their best light (tons of models on a big table), and finally to get some board members fired up about painting troops that can be used in the once monthly ‘Black Powder Sunday’ put on at Adler Hobbies.

I promised to provide a Prussian infantry brigade consisting of 5 line battalions and an artillery battery.  I managed to actually finish 3 battalions, basing the last unit the night before the con.  Fortunately, other members weren’t so lazy and my brigade was fleshed out by 3 Landwher battalions and a foot artillery battery.

My brigade in their start position in the center of the Prussian line. The line battalions are Perry Plastics painted by me. Notice a problem with them?

Dennewitz showing everyone in their start positions. French to the right, Prussians to the left. Rich finished spray painting the cloth table top the night before the game, so I wasn’t the only one doing last minute work!

Having been beaten soundly by the Prussians the day before at Wartenburg, I was looking forward to sweet revenge today.  One of the great things about playing a game this large is that, much like a real battle, you don’t really know what’s going on except for the area immediately around you.  So I can’t give a good blow by blow of what happened everywhere.  I know that I faced two French brigades in my front with nothing but open ground between us.

The commander of the two French brigades was an aggressive type and he gave brigade orders to both units to advance on my position.  Thankfully one brigade failed its command roll and so did nothing on turn one.  This was excellent news for me as I would be able to deal with them one at a time.

One of the two brigades facing me advances, the other, having failed command remains in place.

I’m not timid either and advanced my brigade down the low hill they were on.  I faced off against the French to my front with 5 battalions having detailed one of the Landwher battalions to demonstrate against a French light infantry unit that had occupied a villa to my right.  My opponent wasted no time in hitting me hard, with his Frenchmen in their characteristic dense attack columns.

The melee begins. With supporting battalions to the flank and rear, one of my line battalions accepts a charge from a densely packed French assault column.

We each continued to feed battalions into the meat grinder, with unengaged units and artillery exchanging fire where possible.  We both held on with determination.  I broke two French battalions forcing them to flee, but my casualties were mounting quickly.  Before long my brigade was broken, forcing all battalions not actually engaged in melee to withdraw from the enemy, but lo and behold thanks to some supporting fire from Prussian units in the town to my left, both French brigades were broken as well!

The situation near the end game. My brigade has withdrawn to its start position except for two battalions still locked in melee. The French have been forced to withdraw as well.

At this point I felt quite good.  True my troops had been mauled but the French to our front were in no position to do anything about it.  I turned to the commander of troops on my left and suggested that if he moved out of the town and pushed the French, they would have to retreat and their center would collapse.  But, as I said earlier in a big game like this it’s hard to know what is going on everywhere.  It turns out the Prussian left had disintegrated early on and there was nothing on my left but broken units.  Since he was occupying a town, my compatriot was not compelled to withdraw, but he couldn’t advance either.

Just beyond my troops you can see the town occupied by yet another broken Prussian brigade. In the far distance you can see the last fresh unit on the board, a French cavalry brigade, moving up the middle about to sweep us all like chaff before the breeze.

All in all, another outstanding game at an outstanding convention.  I believe everyone had a great time; I definitely didn’t see any frowns around the table.  It’s a lot of fun playing in a game that you contributed to however small that contribution may have been!

Plans are already underway for next year.  I don’t think I’ll say anything about it here and now, but it’s going to be big.  You don’t want to miss it, so block off your calendar in May 2013 for Huzzah!

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Convention, Feature

 

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Huzzah 2012 – Day 2

Day 2 of Huzzah was a very full day.  I made sure to register for every game session which left not much time in between for meals.  That meant eating at the hotel restaurant which, well, I wish I’d had more time to go out!  Still, if you aren’t going to play, why go?  It didn’t leave too much time for shopping either, but maybe that was a good thing.

For the morning session I didn’t want anything too taxing so I signed up for a wild west adventure game.  It was a blast.  The game was Incident at Prairie Creek using Legends of the Old West and run by Billy  DiGiulio from Maine Historical Wargamers Association.  The game was a free for all between six different factions and two wandering herds of buffalo.  There were US Cavalry, lawmen, renegade cavalry, outlaws (me), and two different bands of Indians.  Each faction had differing goals and no one knew what the other factions had to accomplish, except that everyone knew the Indian factions got a pile of victory points for each buffalo that survived.  Goals were quickly forgotten though as the game turned in to a general melee.

Some how the lawmen and the renegade cavalry troopers formed some kind of unnatural alliance against me, so I had my hands full trying to stay alive.  The different Indian factions ended up tied for the win based on the fact that only 1 buffalo ended getting killed by the renegades.  That was their primary goal, but they were too busy fighting me to bother with it.

The renegades in their starting position. See those boxes? That’s loot that nets me a lot of points as the outlaws, it gives the renegades nothing. They fought me over it anyway.

The lawmen, sneaking around on their bellies. I never saw John Wayne or Clint Eastwood doing that. Their intention was to snipe my gang as we tried to get into the fort. Didn’t work out for them. Four of ‘em died right there!

My boys, making use of cover and trying to slip into the fort. We ain’t here to hurt no one, just give us the loot!

They made me do it. The Parson, bible in one hand and a sawed off shotgun in the other slips underneath the lawmen’s perch and erases 2 of them with a single blast. Two more lawmen went down to my gang, one to some fancy six gun work by The Kid and one to a looong range shot from a Sharps 50-90 buffalo rifle packed by Deadeye. The lawmen ran after that.

For the afternoon session, I signed up for The Battle of Wartenberg, a Napleonic extravaganza run by Rich Claydon and Chris Bergonzi from Boston Trained Bands.  This game was played using the excellent Black Powder rules from Warlord Games.  I can’t say enough good about Black Powder; if you’re a thread counter, the type that feels the difference in performance between a .75 caliber Brown Bess vs. a .69 caliber Charleville should be reflected in the rules, then Black Powder might not please you.  But if you want a fun, fast, action filled game that gives good period flavor you’ll love it.

How did the battle go?  I was on the French side, playing the role of the Wartenberg contingent with a portion of Bertrand’s IV Corps to my left.  We had a large cavalry brigade in support as well.  We got the snot slapped out of us.  Our cavalry commander was new to the field and he was a tad timid.  Not good for cavalry.  By the time he engaged the Prussian hordes it was too late.  I had been driven out of Bleddin by superior numbers and the French were fiddling around trying to decide whether to shoot or run thanks to some blundered orders.

I deployed one battalion of my Wartenbergers as skirmishers to harass the Prussians as they approached. I planned to fall back if engaged in melee but it didn’t work out. The battalion was broken by musket and canon fire and retreated.

Prussian infantry attacks the first block of the town of Bleddin.

Our cavalry finally moves up. We were hoping to bottleneck the Prussians at the bridge in the distance since it was the only place they could cross the river. The cavalry commander failed some early command checks though and so could do nothing. The French infantry on the left are in trouble and are about to be knocked off the heights.

For the final gaming session of the evening, I had signed up for the Aerodrome 1.1 tournament run by Andre Kruppa of MHWA.  This event has become a must do for me.  Andre is a great GM and the event, despite being a tournament, is the most enjoyable of the weekend.  The atmosphere is friendly and casual and the beer flows relatively freely :)  There’s a lot of good natured trash talking too and it all just adds to the enjoyment of the event.  Aerodrome is a simple game of aerial combat in WWI.  Sadly, I didn’t have my camera with me so I don’t have any photos of the game or the gorgeous models and control panels that Andre supplied.

Aerodrome features pre-plotted movement, but the plotting isn’t burdensome, and there are no dice involved in combat resolution.  You plot if you are going to fire at the end of a phase (3 phases per turn) and if you have plotted fire, if there is an enemy aircraft in your arc and range then you WILL damage him.  The amount of damage done varies based on the number of bursts fired, range and relative position of the two aircraft.  I ended up with 2 kills for the night.  Better than my performance last year, but certainly not tournament winning!

Day 2 ended with me exhausted, but that’s as it should be after a full day of warfare.  I had to be up early in the morning though because day three is the Battle of Dennewitz…

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Convention, Feature

 

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Huzzah 2012 – Day One

First day of Huzzah is always exciting.  I won’t quite compare it to Christmas Eve (yeah, I still get excited.  What of it?) but it’s right up there.  I always try to get in early so I have time to settle into my hotel room and have dinner and maybe look around at some of the vendors before the evening gaming session begins.  I got to Maine a little bit later than I wanted, but still had plenty of time.  In fact I was in the hotel for all of 20 minutes before I spent my first money of the weekend.  I bought 3 books from John Durant at fire sale prices.  He’s getting out of the business and so was letting his stock go at a deep discount.  I could have bought a bunch more but, like most of us I imagine, I’m short on funds of late so had to settle for three.  I was actually pretty good for the weekend; I bought the books, some metal bases for the 10mm AWI army I’m working on and a copy of Regimental Fire & Fury.  I don’t need more rules (no one does) but I’ve been interested in these since they came out and ACW is a favorite period of mine.

I only played in one game on Friday night and that was First Battle of Sacket’s Harbor which was put on by Rich Claydon of Boston Trained Bands.  This is a naval engagement, fought during the War of 1812 on Lake Ontario.  Rich used 1/100 scale (i.e. way big) ship models and the Trafalgar rules from Warhammer Historical.  Trafalgar is a very good set of rules for convention play as they are simple, but give a very good feel for fighting in the Age of Sail.  The ships in the battle were smallish, built from green timber, and largely manned by soldiers rather than sailors.  The armament on them is what could be scraped together locally and consisted largely of powerful but short range carronades.  The biggest ships in the battle (Oneida for the Americans and Royal George for the British) mounted around 20 guns each.

The background was that the American forces had captured a small British sloop, Lord Nelson, and the British wanted her back.  Point of pride and all.  The forces in the game were Oneida and Lord Nelson for the Americans, Royal George, Seneca, Governor Simcoe, Prince Regent, and Earl of Moira for the British.  Lest the sides seem unfair, know that the Americans had control of a fort at the harbor entrance that was well armed and protected.  British goals were to capture Lord Nelson and, if possible, neutralize the fort.

I’ll jump to the end.  The British (myself and Adam of Fencing Frog) captured Lord Nelson and pummeled the fort into submission.  Overwhelming British victory.

The Americans came out with what looked to be a very good plan.  Oneida pulled out of the harbor and anchored in front of the fort with her formidable weaponry pointed right at the British fleet bearing down on her.  Rather than moving Lord Nelson to a position of safety behind Oneida and the fort though, Admiral Reinhart brought her out in front of Oneida and attacked the superior British fleet with her!  Bonus points for aggression.  He was counting on Lord Nelson’s speed and maneuverability to save him; he didn’t count on getting dismasted by a well aimed broadside from one of Adam’s ships.

After crippling Lord Nelson, her capture was just a matter of time and Adam pulled it off with alacrity.  In the meantime, I was concentrating on reducing the for with my two ships.  I had the Governor Simcoe and the Royal George with her 22 carronades under command and so was best equipped for the job of reducing masonry to rubble.  Simcoe is a very fast ship and quickly pulled ahead of the Royal George.  I anchored her in a position between the fort and the anchored Oneida so I could bring both under fire.  This plan worked wonderfully until the fort found her range and hammered her badly.  Fortunately by the time that happened, Royal George was up and I was able to weigh anchor on Simcoe and continue firing on the fort with George.  I silenced the fort’s guns, which, combined with Adam’s capture of Lord Nelson, earned us an overwhelming victory.  Not a bloodless victory though.  My Royal George and Simcoe were both severely damaged by the fort’s guns.  Allen, the fort’s commander also managed to sink one of Adam’s ships.  Oneida also put a hurt on several of Adam’s vessels.  So the victory was dearly bought, but tasted all the sweeter for that.

Oneida and Lord Nelson standing out from Sacket’s Harbor

British fleet bears down on the American forces.

Oneida anchored, while Lord Nelson moves out to attack.

Adam captures Lord Nelson at left, while Oneida weighs anchor and moves to assist, but is too late. Simcoe and Royal George pound the fort into submission.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Convention, Feature

 

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Huzzah 2012 – In the rear view now

This past weekend (May 4-6) was the annual Huzzah Historical Wargaming Convention held in Portland, ME and sponsored by the Maine Historical Wargamer’s Association.  This is the event’s third year; I have been lucky enough to attend all three years and can’t say enough good things about the guys from MHWA and the con they put together.  It is a full weekend of gaming, I played in every session available and was sort of done in by Sunday afternoon.  Totally worth it.  The quality of events run at Huzzah are second to no one.

I will try to put together a more coherent AAR this week.  If nothing else I have a number of photos I want to put from some of the weekend events.  For now though, I think bed.  Long week at work after a long weekend of gaming.

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2012 in Convention, Feature

 

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