We slept in. It was really, REALLY nice having a suite; we had two bedrooms, two baths, a kitchen, and a common area. After waking we had oatmeal for breakfast, made coffee, and just hung out together.
Thursday at 2 PM was my first event, a TRACTICS battle. Now, I LOVE LOVE LOVE World War 2 historical miniatures, so I was really looking forward to this. Alas, the poor referee had had car trouble and arrived several hours later than planned. This was a real shame, as the terrain setup he had for this Falaise Pocket game was absolutely outstanding! But setup took a long time (hence his original plan to arrive early), and we only had time to play two turns before the time period ran out.
This was completely, utterly, totally not the referee’s fault. Car trouble happens, and it sucks.
After the battle I went over to the OTHER side of the table and looked at the situation from the Tommies’ point of view. One of the British players was none other than Mike Reese, the AUTHOR of Tractics (and retired U.S. Army tanker.) Well, I had been feeling pretty chuffed about our setup – Panthers on the left, some Mark IVH in the center, and a platoon of Tiger I’s on the right. The Panthers were scrumming with the enemy, and one of my Tigers had brewed up a couple of Shermans on the flank.
When I went over to Mike’s side of the table, though, I saw that he’d set up an entire platoon of Sherman Fireflies in a perfect enfilading position so that anything in the center or German right that came over the hillside was going to get shredded. From a thousand yards away that British 17-pounder would punch through even a Tiger. Had the game continued it would have gotten grim.
Nice to know that all that time and money that Uncle Sam spent training Mr. Reese paid off!
Right after the TRACTICS game I started getting ready for refereeing the CHAINMAIL historical battle, “Battle on the Ice.” As I mentioned in the last installment, Paul Stormberg had set up the miniatures gaming room with spare tables so that we had a space to set up the armies BEFORE the game.
THANK YOU PAUL! Thank you, thank you, thank you, and thank you! For any would-be convention organizers out there, this is a valuable lesson! For every 2 or, at most, 3 tables for miniatures games, have an empty table for utility purposes! It really, really makes a huge difference, especially when, as here, the game tables are in almost constant use.
I have continued to tweak the forces for “Battle on the Ice,” and I think I finally have it just about right. I provided a little one page handout so people who don’t know CHAINMAIL or medieval combat would have some idea how to proceed. I left out one important thing, though – how a routing unit that routs into a friendly unit will disrupt that friendly unit.
Unfortunately for the Russians, this is just what happened. They were moving their horse archers to the left for a flanking maneuver, but the Germans got a Russian foot unit to rout into the horse archers. During the brouhaha as the Russians tried to sort themselves out, the Germans were able to press the attack resulting in both the footmen AND the horse archers routing away.
With the horse archers lost, the game turned into a slugging match between horse units. Eventually the Germans’ heavier armor told, and once again the Germans won.
Besides clarifying the rules a bit more, another thing I’m going to do next year is pay attention to total army casualties. In the introduction to CHAINMAIL, one suggested victory condition is when one army or the other is reduced to a certain percentage – for instance, the first army to lose 1/3 of its total troops, loses. I’m going to adopt that, but at 50% due to the nature of the battle, so that the game doesn’t end like it did this time with tiny handfuls of figures still fighting on amidst heaps of the dead. That just didn’t happen historically, at least not in this battle.
I don’t remember how late I stayed up Thursday night. But Friday I had an 8 AM engagement (barf!) so I knew I needed to get some sleep.
More about that in our next installment.