2022-11-13 millenniumcon / conventions / batrep /
It's that time of year again, for playing new con games with strangers til they become friends.
Thursday Night - 'Operation Bug Tussle' (Galactic Knights)
I took the Avarians (Green) commanding a BC and fast cutter, my partner similarly armed (Red Terrans), vs two BCs (Yellow Entomolians, Blue & Gold Carnivorians). We were escorting in troopships to the middle planet, they were protecting evacuating transports and we each were trying to blow up each other as well.
I sent the fast cutter down the edge of the board at full speed, as that was the only possible way to reach the fleeing civilians on the far side of the planet, though it meant flying straight past the enemy. The Entomolian BC launched a missile volley at it, escorting it with 3 wings of fighters. I responded with 2 wings of better fighters and ordered the ship to use all guns for point defense. It was a slaughter, with almost all the fighter craft wiped out and enough missiles getting through to take out some armor and PD weapons. A follow up conventional gun volley obliterated it, blasting straight through the weakened armor, taking out it's only meaningful weapon, and leaving it streaking out of the system like a comet. The Terrans began the turkeyshoot on their side of the board, aiming for engines and hyperdrives.
The next 3 turns consisted of a slugfest as both enemy ships concentrated on mine. They underestimated their accumulated velocity (the game tracks angular momentum, simple but nifty system) and shot so far past where I thought they'd be it flummoxed the Terran commander who had to about-face and burn to not wind up on the opposite side of the table. My ship had its weapons systematically crippled, but I weakened the armor of the Carnivorian ship enough that any further attacks on one side were penetrating straight through to the hull. In trying to protect that side and keep me in all the arcs, it wound up skimming the atmosphere of one of the moons.
Turn 5, the surface of my ship aflame, ALL weapons gone, invasion fleet landed and 1/3 of the evacuees crippled, we called the game in the invaders favor as I warped out of the system.
Operation Bug Tussle was a lot of fun, and Galactic Knights was a fine system for it.
Friday Morning - 'Austerlitz, Morning' (Quelle Affaire)
I'm a sucker for big Napoleonic tables. I sat in the wrong chair and wound up as French division commander Lannes, for which I apologize. We were ordered to take the hill between two roads in front of us.
Infantry and artillery advanced straight forward in formation on the center and left flank, with the right taking the cavalry and swinging wide. The Russians, Bagration commanding, built a classic tiered defense on the hill covering it with cannons surrounded by infantry, with Cossacks and more infantry in reserve. The Russian cav ran in a large sweeping arm, looking for a lucky breakthrough vs the French cav.
I think turn 3 was when we finally saw the effects of fire, artillery barrages placing fatigue and morale losses on the French center infantry.
Turn 4 was when our right flank collapsed, getting trounced by the Russian cav, while the infantry went mostly ignored. Turn 5 was when both of those situations worsened, Russian cav breaking ours, running straight through and well behind our lines, which themselves now had a gap large enough our cannons could fire clear through as the Russian infantry kicked the living shit out our lines.
Turn 6, we ran out of time, but it was agreed the French were about to get charged by heavy cav in the back while eating grapeshot in the front.
I prefer the command system from Et Sans Resultat, but the combat resolution was infinitely better in Quelle Affaire. Much fun was had, despite the loss.
Friday Afternoon - 'Siege of Monopolis' (OGRE)
I played this scenario last year and had a so much fun with it I went out and bought an OGRE set for my son and I to play, which we then did quite a few times. Last time I defended, this time I took the offense.
We opted to keep quite a few units in reserve, hoping to take out the laser tower defense early enough to bring in our more glass cannony weapons. Heavy units up the middle, fast units on the sides with medium OGRES supporting them.
The defenders chose to launch nuclear cruise missiles early, wiping out both flanks and expending a ton of countermissiles trying to keep them from reaching even further into our center. Both missiles detonated when destroyed, flash frying our ground effect forces on the left and infantry carriers on the right. OGREs pushed forward, concentrating missile fire on the lasers, beginning to take damage from howitzers, naval cruisers, and the defenders OGREs.
It cost a lot of damage, but we got close enough to take out their command center, leaving their smaller forces disorganized, and taking out sufficient laser emplacements to bring in our own cruise missile launchers. 3 launch, straight up the middle. ... 3 shot down to no effect well before we would even consider detonating them ourselves. Defenders dice were hot. The game was in slightly later slot, and we all had later games we needed to get to, so called it at this point as a defenders victory. The city center was largely intact, and though we still had sufficient small units to cause chaos, we had lost enough firepower that there was going to be no leveling of the city like we saw in the game last year.
Again, OGRE is damned fun, and the big Monopolis table is a hell of a spectacle. There were people stopping to look and ask questions about it constantly.
Friday Night - 'WW3 1975' (Fistful of TOWs 3, modified)
15mm mostly-tank battle, Britain vs the USSR over a German countryside. Smarting from my loss to the Russians at Austerlitz earlier that day, I wanted another crack at them.
Heavily houseruled and simplified FFT3, with extremely homogeneous sides. There were a lot of changes to artillery and terrain to make them more simulation and less game-like, and it had the intended effect. It was a slaughter from turn 1. British started off having their asses handed to them, and the Russians never lost momentum, though they lost a few tanks. It was a simple overrun objective, and they did.
There were so many tanks, and so little cover or concealment that it was basically a shooting gallery at front armor, and we were outnumbered 3-to-1 after the opening volley. Artillery being changed to not scatter also meant it pretty much guaranteed our infantry carriers were stuck sealed up and waiting ducks.
I can't say I had that much fun with this one, and neither did my partner. We conceded before the 2 hour mark, with I think 6 tanks on the table and easily 20+ headed towards us. I feel like I still don't understand the game all that well after having played it, so I'm reserving judgment on FFT3, and writing this one off as a scenario that just wasn't as much fun as it was intended to be. It felt like an excuse to chuck dice, fill a table with tanks, and swap stories. But there wasn't much game to it, no interesting decisions to make. Perhaps an expectation mismatch.
Saturday Morning - 'Clash of Ironclads' (A Game of Admirals, modified)
An ACW riverine game of ironclads. I took the CSS Patrick Henry and Tennessee, sailing up the James river to shell some union depots.
I had fun with this game, but I've got more complaints than compliments. But they're all easily fixed and improved and I'd play it again next year and I expect the guy running it to fix most if not all and more of them by next year.
There, caveat delivered, let the thrashing commence.
T Y P O S, E V E R Y W H E R E. The presentation of information was frankly bad, with a mix of dumb typos and insidious typos all over the ship sheets and references. There were numbers with no explanation attached, constant flipping of pages to cross reference stuff, an order of operations to firing that seemed backwards, unclear modifiers, unclear classifications of ships and weapons. We could have fit 50% more turns in with clearer sheets, easily.
The scenario was also immediately obviously a problem, and the guy running it realized this while setting up (after running back to find the dice and pencils he forgot to bring). The Confederate ships were slower than the Union ships by a good margin, sailing against a strong current. This meant we were moving at a snails pace towards our target. Meanwhile, the Union was barreling down river crossing a third of the map (and literally 4 times as many hexes as I did) in one turn. Our ships were so slow, we couldn't afford to waste speed on things like turning or maneuvering when we needed that for just getting up the river. Which combined with our weaker guns and rams to mean the most effective solution we had to the monstrous monitors the union had was virtually impossible to pull off.
There was also some confusion regarding how movement resolution worked, but it disappeared into the other noise of the game.
Again, fun, but needs to get its shit together. So I can play again next con.
Saturday Afternoon - 'Battle of Phillora, IndoPak War 65' (Seven Days to the River Rhine, modified)
Another microarmor game, 100% 3D printed, and another heavily houseruled game with tons of tanks and little else. Just like the previous FFT3 game, it started out one sided and just got more lopsided as it went. Our Indian tanks had tabled the Pakistani forces by the 4th turn. Interestingly, the guy that ran that very same previous FFT3 game was across the table from me commanding the last holdout of Pakistani tanks.
Again, the rules were so stripped down and units so homogenized that the game went by incredibly fast and I couldn't come to a clear a feeling about the ruleset.
I won, massively, but it wasn't a very interesting victory. And then I had this huge gap in my schedule because this game was over in 90 minutes in a 210 minute slot.
We drove forward. We rolled dice. There were more of us. The End. I drove home and relaxed with my wife for a few hours.
Saturday Night - 'End of Days' (All Things Zed, modified)
Boardgame sized board, simplified rules, game done in under 90 minutes. I forgot to take pictures of it. I was slightly annoyed the whole time playing. And that's despite pulling off an overwhelming upset victory that everyone else at the table seemed to think was cooler than I did. There wasn't any coordination going on due to conflicting goals, but it wasn't overtly antagonistic, so there wasn't much table talk. And with no clear idea who was winning, it was basically 5 players doing random stuff against the environment. Also, we rolled for stats at the beginning and one guy rolled poorly, which worked out to him not getting to do anything half the game which the GM just blithely ignored.
Sunday - Flea Market and Vendor Hall
I beelined for Mike Wikan's table and pilfered most of his SF games and books. Then it was hunting around for cheap SF minis, interesting rules, decent shape old board wargames. Made a pretty good haul of it all. Going to do this again next year, the best deals are GONE within the first 10 minutes.
One of the microgames had the wrong contents, missing the counters, but with its own rules AND 'Ram Speed's rules, but for $2 I'm not bothered in the least.
Overall a weekend well spent. I liked all the ship games I played, not so much all the microarmor. I'm still experimenting with games and people I don't know, so a hit and miss outcome for games is expected. I'm not looking for fast or simple games, and I just need to work out how better to avoid them. I probably blinkered myself with my immediate dismissal of anything larger in scale than 15mm. It also doesn't help that I signed up late and missed out on a few first picks.
Specifically on the microarmor, after the two games I played I wandered around and spectated a couple other similar games going on, and the whole m-con treadhead culture seems to love billions of tanks and fuck infantry. Which is just completely opposite what I want out of those games, that I think there may be an insurmountable difference of taste at play. Even the one micro-a game I played last year was the same.
And damnit, next year I'm running something. I want to put on a game. I could go any of three ways with it, space fleets, 10mm SF combined arms city fighting, or mech squads, but I'm aiming to be ready to run one by next summer.
Oh, parting thought, I hate the 'tech hall' in the center of the upper floor. I can't hear a damned thing even when its mostly empty. The side rooms, the front hall, even the vendor area tables, all fine. Fuck Tech Hall. I'll drop games to avoid it unless the game is at the corner by the door where the sound isn't as cacophonous, or it's something I'm desperate to play.