Thursday morning and afternoon passed fairly uneventfully. Oh, hell, I slept till noon, okay? Victor Raymond, my convention roomie and old gaming buddy, and I caught a late breakfast and noodled around a bit until it was time for me to head over to Gary’s house for “Battle on the Ice,” a historical miniatures game using the CHAINMAIL rules.
I’m really glad Paul set up the sandtable in Gary’s basement, and the owners of the house were beyond wonderful, but having the gaming at a separate location was really quite a pain in the tonker. Paul and his crew needed two more people and another vehicle, honestly. But there was no way to know this in advance and I have nothing but admiration for what Paul did.
This is the second year in a row that I’ve run “Battle on the Ice” at GaryCon. Last year I had a bunch of inexperienced players. This year I had a bunch of experienced players, especially on the Russian side.
The Russians got annihilated.
Setting up a scenario always involves some judgement on the part of the referee, and the scenario often needs to be tweaked. This one needs tweaking a lot. The Russians played quite well, but the Teutonic Knights heavy cavalry simply could not be stopped.
I will be writing up a full battle report/article for Gygax magazine on last year’s game and this year’s, in which I will go into greater detail. However, the major reason for the imbalance in the scenario is that I used the 1:20 rules, and in my years of playing CHAINMAIL in Lake Geneva, we virtually always used the Man to Man rules. So, for instance, in Man to Man, a heavy knight with lance charging Light Foot (Leather and Shield) – “roll 2 dice, 5+ kills.” Pretty good odds. But on the 1:20 system, it’s “roll 4 dice PER MAN, 5 or 6 kills.” So where in Man to Man, 10 charging knights will (on average) kill 8 light foot, under 1:20 they will on average kill 13.
Long story short, the 1:20 combat system is MUCH deadlier for light troops. So, next year I’m going to have to get ten sets of different-colored d6 so we can use the man to man table, but still finish the game in reasonable time.
After the game we went back to the resort for dinner, more conversation, and beer. Especially beer. Thursday night marked the second night in a row where I didn’t get to bed until 2 AM.
Friday arrived and I eventually levered my sorry carcass out of bed.
As usual, things I was interested in were scheduled opposite each other. I had to miss Rob Kuntz’ seminar on game design in order to get into Mike Carr’s “Don’t Give Up The Ship” game (DGUTS). Fortunately I was able to chat with Rob a couple of times separately and game design did come up. He has some really interesting ideas; I hope I can hear one of his discussions sometime.
DGUTS was a whale of a lot of fun. It’s a good game in the first place, Mike Carr had set up a great scenario, and the players on both sides were quite good. Bill Hoyt was also playing, as well as Dave Wesley (of “Braunstien” fame). I remarked it was rather like Old Home Week, with the four of us playing DGUTS for the first time in decades.
I was commanding a British 44 frigate. DGUTS is a plotted move game, and since I happen to be really, really good at estimating distances by eye, I did quite well. In fact, Mike Carr complimented me on doing the best job of captaining a ship in the game. The British ships of the line got rather badly mauled by the Frenchies, but the British frigates did quite well on the outskirts of the action. We shot up a couple of French frigates, and in the very last turn of the game dismasted one of them, whereupon the brave French captain struck his colors, no longer being able to move.
The French frigate captain was awesome, by the way. British 44s are pretty big, tough frigates, and the French player had a 24 and a 32, and he got away with one of them. In fact, if we hadn’t dismasted his 24 in the last turn he would have gotten close enough to his men-of-war that we would have had to let him go. After the game I congratulated him on leading us a merry chase, commenting that “it’s no fun playing against somebody who isn’t any good!” I hate to think what would have happened if he hadn’t been severely outgunned.
After DGUTS we had just enough time to grab some food (thank you, Geneva Ridge Resort, for having a table set up for gamers to get a quick burger!) and get back to Gary’s place for a TRACTICS battle. Mike Reese, scheduled referee and co-author of TRACTICS, couldn’t make it, so Terry Kuntz agreed to step in.
I love TRACTICS, and I hadn’t seen Terry in a dog’s age, so I was looking forward to this. As it turned out, only Victor and I showed up. (What the hell is wrong with all you folks at GaryCon anyway? You should be going to more historical miniatures games!)
TRACTICS was a lot of fun, especially since I taught Victor to play lo these 35 years and more ago! He was the Russian attacker tasked with capturing a German supply depot. He was very cautious, saying at one point “I just KNOW he’s got something nasty prepared.” He didn’t seem much reassured by my reply of “Don’t you see the big banner there saying Come on in, nothing bad here at all, you can trust us, honest hastily covering the sign that says ACHTUNG MINEN?” Strangely, he didn’t buy it.
TRACTICS went on almost until 1:30 AM. It would have gone longer but I was getting more and more tired, so I sprung my ambush earlier than the optimum moment, but had done my job well enough to drive the Russians away from my supply depot.
Interesting note: At one point as a critical hit disabled a Russian tank, I let out a loud “YES!” … which echoed through the entire house! No wonder Mary Gygax, Gary’s wife, used to complain about the gamers keeping the kids up all night!
Once again, it was 2 AM before I collapsed into my bunk. I’ll finish up GaryCon VI next time.