Trip Report--Huzzah!, Portland, Maine, 3-6 May 2012
The kids and I got organized on Thursday morning for our road trip to Huzzah! We haven't done an extended road trip since the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships last July...which may not sound like too long, but certainly feels like it. The car felt almost spacious, since we weren't hauling any of the terrain for the 40mm Rough Wooing games planned, just the figures. That left us with the room for a contingency game package, my case of 6mm DBA and Hordes of the Things armies. We arrived safely around 8:00 Thursday night, and settled in to discuss a few things with Ross.
The convention proper didn't get started until Friday evening, with the first gaming block at 7:00. That left us with some time to invest. As Norman and Ross have noted, we started with a warm-up game of Basic Impetus. The hotel had the tables set out after breakfast, so finding a place to spread out the game was no problem.
|6mm Roman Cavalry|
|The battle unfolds; warbands are surrounded?|
|William, Ross, and Norman all deep in thought|
By the time we were finished, things were starting to look lively. We took a lunch break to go downtown and get my son a lobster for lunch, which he hadn't had before. I have, and not being a fan, I ate something less intimidating. The registration desk was set up by the time we got back, so we took care of the formalities. We were pleased to find that we could sign up for games for each time slot when we registered, being accustomed to the HMGS Cold Wars/Historicon system which only gives you one guaranteed entry per day. I chose to stretch a bit and try some games I don't usually play, but more of that in the proper order.
We still had some time on our hands before the first official game, so we set up a final playtest of our Rough Wooing scenario for the convention. Norman posted a report as part of his convention coverage. As the French commander I found that the weight of the cavalry force on my right flank was enough to flatten the English, and my left flank distracted their center forces enough that my center was able to move forward and seize the gun. I had the opportunity to take the French side again during the third running on Saturday and found that it was not so easy to do again...
For my official game in the evening, I signed up for something tricorne-ish, the battle of Chotusitz from the early part of the War of the Austrian Succession using the Carnage and Glory computer-moderated rules. I will be honest: As a player of Old School games like Charge!, I have not thought that something like Carnage and Glory would be to my taste as rules, but I wanted to give it a fair shot. The gamemaster was Richard Wallace, and he did a fine job of keeping the game moving, although, as I expected, the need for everyone to interact with the computer each turn through the single point of input/output was the limiting factor. He also had a beautiful table, done with fake fur to represent grass, and an amazing set of 28mm figures to populate it, so the game was a visual treat. Nevertheless, the computer moderation appears to be addressing problems that I don't usually have with Charge!, and I really miss rolling the dice. If, after all of the factors that the computer takes into account, you are left with the planning assumption that a unit is good for one fight with a similar unit, you're not much better off in realism than you are with Charge!, and you've added a cumbersome mechanism in the computer I/O.
|Prussian cavalry charge during Chotusitz|
My Saturday morning game was a modern Afghanistan skirmish using the popular Force on Force rules from Osprey, also in 28mm. I'm not sure about the scenario balance for this one, but the rules seemed to crank along with reasonable speed, at least in the absence of vehicles and heavy support. A foot patrol of Americans, however, did not turn out to be nearly enough against four times their number of militant irregulars. The mechanisms, from what I could see, reminded me of Crossfire (in the movement, which, as explained, involved bounding from cover to cover with the enemy given the opportunity to interrupted with an uncommitted force) and what I can remember of Stargrunt (with a squad's fire generated a handful of dice of various shapes depending on weapons and training. I don't know how closely the GM was adhering to the written rules, though. It might be an interesting topic for a game-in-box, though, so I have ordered a discounted copy on speculation. I'd implement it in frugal 1/72 scale plastic, if I were to do it, though...
|The village looks quiet enough...|
We had four players for the first Rough Wooing game, on Saturday afternoon. For whatever reason, the English were having trouble in making good use of their longbows, and the French won fairly handily. I was starting to wonder about the scenario balance, but changed my mind after the second game. Due to the shortage of players, Ross and I each took a role in the game, and the tables were firmly turned. I was making no headway at all with the French, and the game resulted in what looked like an easy English win. The moral of the story is that one would have to check a scenario multiple times to be assured of having the balance correct.
|French right wing; gendarmes and lancers in profusion|
|French center advances; the gun is visible ahead|
|English and French swordsmen clash in the bog|
|French center in some confusion, evening game|
As a result of playing so much Rough Wooing in a short time, and stressing the rules with the exceptional situations presented in a larger game, Ross and I have a 'to-do' on some rules clarifications. We also spent some time discussing games for next year, and where projects were going, which he's already covered on his blog. I went a little easy on the shopping (sorry, dealers!), but nevertheless came home with an Elven tower on discount for some fantasy skirmish gaming and a copy of Christopher Duffy's book on Frederick the Great's army for some inspirational reading as we run up to Historicon and my NQSYW games there.
|Peking Legation scenery|
|Ross's Aroostock War game|
|Ross and Norman in 40mm American Revolution game|
|Boxer amphibious game|
|Norman trying some quinqereme action|