I have updated the Barrage recruiting posters. Everyone should feel free to repost any or all of them as widely as possible.
Month: July 2019
Barrage 2019 Web Site is Now Live
Barrage 2019 will be 27-28 September in Havre de Grace, Maryland.
Don’t miss this outstanding regional convention.
The Web site for Barrage 2019 has gone live, and it is open for registration for GMs and Attendees. Come back to the Web site frequently to see the growing list of games that will be run this year.
Being a “cowboy” has become a disparaging term in our upside down society where common sense got on a boat years ago and sailed for terra incognita. Still as a kid, I remember that my heroes were cowboys. Men like John Wayne, Jimmy Steward, Randolph Scott, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and Hopalong Cassiday were the folks on the silver screen to whom I looked for inspiration. For those who think being a cowboy is a bad thing, this is what Gene Autry said about being a cowboy. I’m sure that these ideas will seem trite to many and offensive to others, but this is my blog. 🙂
I wish those domestic enemies of the Constitution in D.C. — on both sides of the aisle — would abide by these simple ideals.
Retreat from Moscow at Historicon 2019
I ran a fun Combat Patrol(tm) game at Historicon using the Napoleonic supplement rules. It featured a ragtag group of starving Frenchmen trying to reach the safety of a small Russian village while the pursuing Russians worked to stop them.
The Russians came from all sides of the table. Most of the Frenchmen were in a small column in the center of the table. The French were aided by some early card draws and unusually fast movement.
When the game ended, the French had the better part of four teams (five figures each) into the town’s buildings. The Russians have four teams of infantry and some remnants of other units. We had to call the game, because the hotel was going to kick us out of the hall, and it was clear that the French would be able to hold out against attacks by the remaining infantry.
I think all the players had a good time. I made a few tweaks to the scenario after the play test at a HAWKs night, and it seemed to really make the scenario work well.
The Battle of Hoth
Greg and I ran two instances of the Battle of Hoth with Combat Patrol(tm) at Historicon 2019. The first was Friday night, and the second was Saturday morning. Both instances went well. On Friday night the Imperials got half way to the cave / hangar. On Saturday they blew up the shield generator. At that point, the heroes tried to escape in the Millennium Falcon. When it emerged from the cave entrance an Imperial AT-AT took a reaction shot and blew up the Falcon!
The Rebels received 9.7 points for every turn the Millennium Falcon was on the table. As soon as the shield generator was blown up, the heroes had to board the Falcon and fly away, ending the game. The Imperials received 1 point for each Rebel they killed and 5 points for heavy weapons. At the end of the first day, the score was 58.2 to 57 in favor of the Rebels. In the second to last turn of the second day, the score was tied up, but with a lot of last turn casualties and the death of the Falcon, it was a convincing Imperial victory.
Americans in the Philippines at Historicon
I ran a Combat Patrol(tm) game set in the Philippines in 1941 Thursday evening at Historicon 2019. The game involved and advancing Japanese infantry platoon supported by light tanks and defending American infantry with an anti-tank gun.
The Japanese were very cautions with their tanks, moving them through the difficult terrain instead of up the road. They guessed that the Americans would have the road covered, and they were correct. The Japanese weighted their right flank. Initially it was slow going (at half speed through the jungle) but when they hit the thick grass they picked up the pace a bit.
The Americans chose a very linear defense. When they detected the Japanese movement through the jungle, they quickly repositioned their machine-guns. A lot of hidden movement can really slow down a convention game, so I had the Americans deploy their infantry on the table, but I let them do hidden placement for their two machine-guns and the anti-tank gun.
The American player on their right flank recognized that the Japanese had weighted their right and that their left was weak. To make the game interesting, he chose to advance to try to disrupt the Japanese attack. Unfortunately, luck was not with him, and the Japanese spotted them first and opened fire. by the end of the game, this American squad was all but wiped out.
Toward the end of the Japanese finally mustered the courage to advance across the bridge with their tanks. The anti-tank gun took a reaction fire, which brewed up the light tank. Though the Americans lost the battle, this provided a moment of victory.
The Americans were defending the creek on their left. The Japanese advanced to the creek. The Americans reacted first, mauling the first Japanese squad that showed itself. After a couple of turns, however, the Japanese recovered somewhat and began to gain the upper hand in the protracted firefight. When the smoke cleared, the Americans were withdrawing, and the Japanese easily advanced across the creek to the hut along the road.
I think all the players had a good time. They were all engaged throughout the battle.
I used the rules from the South Pacific supplement, including the Banzai! charge rules. For some of the players, this was their first exposure to Combat Patrol, but they grasped the rules quickly and were soon playing the game with only minimal involvement by me.
Armies for Kids at Historicon 2019
At Historicon 2019, the Harford Area Weekly Kriegspielsers hosted another Armies for Kids game. This year’s GM was Chris Johnson.
I think this is the eighth or ninth year we have done this. We paint six sets of armies, one for each “side.” We package those along with rules (Milk and Cookies Rules from Big Battles for Little Hands), rulers, dice, paper terrain, and other goodies. The game is a participation game for kids under ten years old. When the game is over, each of the kids gets to take home a full set of painted figures and all the accessories.
The idea is that hopefully these kids go home and start playing games with their buddies. The kids at the convention come with their parents, so in many ways we are preaching to the converted; however, we hope that these kids go home and introduce their little buddies to wargaming.
We only had five kids this year, but we were prepared for six. Do these kids look happy to you? A couple of recent years we’ve had trouble getting enough kids for this project. Maybe we’ll need to put it away for a while.
Hawaii Vacation, Days 7-11
We began day seven by visiting the various volcanos, steam vents, and lava fields in Volcano National Park. We got a late-ish start but got out the door early enough to see all we wanted to see in the park. Kilauea is the least active it has been for 35+ years, so there were no active lava fields or flowing lava.
Near the visitor’s center there are a number of active steam vents where hot gasses from the most recent eruption are visible. We took a couple mile hike into the Kilauea caldera. Until recently this was an active lava lake until last year’s major eruptions. There are two major types of lava in Hawai’i: ‘a’ā and pāhoehoe. ‘A’ā is rough and chunky, while pāhoehoe is smooth and ropy. They may vary in color from shiny black to dull brown. Both types have the same chemical composition, but pāhoehoe is hotter when it erupts and is more fluid than ‘a’ā.
After this hike we drove the Chain of Craters road stopping at sites along the way to see different types of lava flows, craters, etc.
On the way back up the Chain of Craters road to the visitor’s center we stopped at an area with 23,000 petroglyphs engraved into the lava flow. Since they were engraved in the lava rather than painted on a cave or canyon wall, they were much more visible that normal.
It was a bit disappointing that there were no explanations of what scholars think some of the symbols might mean.
After this night of hiking and walking we had dinner in the cafeteria at Kilauea Military Camp, which is much like a military-style mess hall. The food was good, but no frills. We then went back to our cabin to watch Moana and have dessert.
We started the next day by walking along the trail past the sulphur vents around the visitor center. These are similar to the steam vents on the opposite side of the road, but the escaping gasses have more minerals, particularly sulphur, and they stain the rocks bright colors.
Then we drove the eastern side of the island, stopping to see various overlooks, beaches, and sites along the way.
As we stopped at these beaches — all beaches in Hawaii are public — in most cases we were surprised how few people were on them.
Then we kept driving.
These falls were impressive but were only a fifth as tall as Angel Falls in South America.
The next morning we bade farewell to our cabin and took a short detour to see the interior of the Volcano House lodge in the national park.
Our plan was to drive up the coast (mostly) from Volcano National Park to Kailua-Kona where we were would stay the last two nights in Hawaii.
Along the way we stopped at a place known as the “refuge.” The punishment for nearly all crimes in ancient Hawaii seems to have been death. A marked person could flee, and if he made it to this place and spent some time with the priest here, he could be absolved of his crimes and return home.
We arrived in Kailua-Kona (mostly known just as Kona) in time to check into the Royal Kona Resort and get the lay of the land before our scheduled luau. We had time to put on our swimsuits and play in the hotel’s private lagoon and then in the pool before showering up for the luau.
This was some of the best kalua pork we had on the trip.
At the luau we had excellent food and all-you-can-drink mai tais. Candy drank mai tai’s like a fish. Depending on who you ask the number was between four and six!
The luau lasted until after sunset.
As with all luaus, the highlight was the fire guy.
The next morning, we slept in and then went to the pool for a couple of hours.
This evening we planned to take a tour to Mauna Kea to see the stars. We have seen the brilliant star fields at Bryce Canyon, and Mauna Kea is supposed to be better. We met the van at 1430 and got part way up the mountain for an early dinner when the National Weather Service close the road to the observatories due to rain and flash flooding. We were very disappointed, but we made it back down to our hotel in time to watch the fireworks in the harbor, since it was the 4th of July.
The next day was really a travel day. Our flight left Kona at 2000, but we got a somewhat late checkout and planned to enjoy the day. We started at the pool again and then went to visit the Vanillerie. This is a small farm where the local businessman is trying to make a go of farming vanilla. After the tour, I have a much greater respect for vanilla. It is a HARD and LONG process. This is why you have probably never actually had vanilla, but imitation vanilla which is much more easily harvested from the bark of some type of pine tree.
At the end of the tour we got a small sample of ice cream made with his real vanilla, and there was a definite taste difference.
The flights home were uneventful but painfully long at the end of a ten-day vacation. I don’t know when we’ll all be able to take this much time together for a vacation.
Hawaii Vacation, Days 4, 5, and 6
On day 4 of our vacation we began with a short drive to the Makapu’u Lighthouse trailhead. The trail was about 1.5 miles mostly uphill to the point of land overlooking the lighthouse. The lighthouse was built to prevent ships running aground while traversing the water between Oahu and Molokai.
Sam was decidedly unimpressed with this “dumpy little lighthouse” and didn’t think it was worth the uphill climb to get there. The views from up on the point were very nice.
We then drove to the north shore to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Since the last time we visited the PCC, they have added a lot of shopping and food outside the center. We bought some fancy hotdogs from a truck outside the gates (apparently food trucks are a big tradition in Hawaii). Then we had to try some malasadas, which are like filled doughnuts. We bought one of each flavor to share: guava strawberry, chocolate, and coconut cream.
The Polynesian Cultural Center has six distinct areas for the various Polynesian islands. Each area has traditionally constructed buildings, traditional crafts, and entertainment. After our truck-lunch we entered the PCC just in time for the show on the water that runs through the center of the park.
After a day of walking around the PCC, we attended the Luau dinner show. The food was good, but we were disappointed the the kalua pig didn’t have much taste. As that was what we were most looking forward to, we though the luau was “okay.”
The highlight of the day was the Ha, Breath of Life live show featuring a huge cast of dancers and (the highlight for us) fire jugglers. The storyline was impossible to follow, as a Polynesian family transits from one island to another. The storyline wasn’t that important however, as it was really about the various acts.
You aren’t allowed to take pictures during the show, so these are ones I found online.
We were in the second row, so we had a great view of the entire show.
The next day we got up early to head to Hunauma Bay for some snorkeling. We were worried that the crowds would be heavy on a Saturday morning, but we really didn’t feel crowded. We rented snorkeling gear and had a really good time seeing the sea life up close and personal.
Hunauma Bay is a wildlife preserve, and it is full of sea life. We even got to see a seal that was sunning himself on the beach.
You enter Hunauma Bay from up top and then walk down tot he beach. From this view you can see how the bay was once the caldera of a volcano, but part of it has eroded away.
After snorkeling we went back to the Hale Koa to rest and then got two hours of surfing lessons on Waikiki.
We didn’t get any pictures of any of us up on the board. We were at least a quarter mile out (quite a swim!!), and they wanted $50 per person to provide a photographer.
After a tiring day, we went back to the hotel and cleaned up for dinner. We went to a local place, called The Goofy Cafe, for Mahi Mahi. The food was great. After dinner we walked to a local ice cream parlor and had ridiculously large ice cream desserts.
The next day we got up early to check out of the Hale Koa and head to Honolulu airport for a flight to the big island.
After getting our rental car a the Hilo airport we drove to a farmer’s market outside town where we hand a nice lunch and picked up a bunch of fresh, local produce. This was to make salad with our dinner in our cabin. We then drove to Volcano National Park, took in the victor’s center, and checked into our cabin at the Kilauea Military Camp, inside the national park.
This is a military camp, so it has a theater, PX, several places to eat, a recreation center, and a six-lane bowling alley. We made quesadillas with two different flavors of spam (jalapeño and garlic) and then went to bowl.
After two games of bowling, Sam and Tom played pool in the recreation center. We capped off the evening with some fresh watermelon and mango from the farmer’s market and a couple of mai tais.