Sunday, July 19, 2009

Historicon AAR

I was originally going to skip Historicon this year due to craziness at work, but decided to go at the last minute. I found a cheap hotel room, loaded some podcasts and a recorded book on my iPod, and off I went!

I arrived Friday evening. After grabbing a beer (Historicon 25th Anniversary free beer, that is), I sat down with a bunch of guys from the DBA crowd to play Shadows Over Camelot. It is a cooperative game where the players are the Knights of the Round Table and are tasked with saving Camelot from the forces of darkness. The twist is that one of the players is secretly a traitor, who wins if the rest of the players fail. The game started off poorly for the good guys, as we quickly failed one of the quests, putting us in a whole. We managed to mostly recover, but things were still very touch and go. That's when the traitor struck, tipping the scales against us an causing us to lose. Well played, Greek!

Saturday morning featured the DBA Matched Pairs event. In this, everyone brings a pair of enemy armies as defined in the DBA rules. Your opponent selects one of the armies, and you play the other one. I really like it as a format because you tend to get fairly balanced, historical match ups.

In the first round, I played against David Shepps. We used Dave's armies, and I played the III/3 Italian Ostrogoths vs III/4 Early Byzantines. The Ostrogoths were a knight heavy army with a smattering of infantry while the Byzantines had a mix of light horse, cavalry, and infantry. I don't remember much about the game, other than we had a big LH vs Kn battle in the middle of the field. The knight's combat advantage, coupled with a slight numerical advantage, carried the day, resulting in a 4-2 victory.

In the second round, I played Alex Bostwick (and eventual winner of the tournament). We played using my armies, II/32 Later Carthaginian (Alex) vs III/33 Polybian Roman (me). It turned out to be an epic game. We did a bit a maneuvering for the first couple of turns, then I sent in the legions. After the first exchange, things were stalled a bit on my right flank, with my Bd and Cv matched up against his Sp and LH. This first swing of the game happened on the left flank. My Ps killed his Ax with a 6-1, and I was able to close the door and kill two of his Wb. At that point, up 3-0, my attack stalled. He was able to work in his El and and remaining Wb to kill two of my guys, bringing the score to 3-2. Then his attack stalled. I pressed on with the legions, driving back his left flank. My plan was to force his LH back far enough so I could close the door on the Sp and win. Then the unthinkable happened... his LH killed mv Cv with a 5-1. Now it was tied 3-3 and my right flank was wide open. I launched one final attack with the legions, but it wasn't enough. He was able to get a good match up on the left and close the door on the right to end it. Final score, a 3-5 loss.

Game 3
In the third game, I had the II/49 Marian Romans vs Doug Mudd's II/39/Ancient Spanish. The board had two steep hills in the corners and a large wood in the center. I moved by battle line up to the woods and waited for the Wb to advance. I suffered the first casualty, when Doug was able to close the door on a Bd on the right flank. I used one of my Ps to pull a pair of Wb forward, which promptly killed one of my Bd. I took advantage of the Wb's advance and whacked them both, pulling even at 2-2. There was a bit more skirmishing with the Ps, then I was able to get an overlap against another pair of Wb, killing them and ending the game. Final score, a 4-2 win.

Game 4
In the forth and final game, I played Terrence McPartland. He took the Carthaginians against my Romans. He maneuvered his Cv and LH to threaten my right flank, and I used my general to stop them. He moved a Ps into a vulnerable spot, which I promptly killed. However, I quickly realized that it was a trap, as he was able to close the door on my General and kill him. The score was tied 1-1, and I didn't have a general. We skirmished a bit, then I got lucky and killed an Ax, putting me up 2-1. Now, he had to kill two elements to win instead of one. I maneuvered my blade against his El, forcing it to turn to face me and setting up a situation where a recoil would kill both El. Every move required two pips, which made things difficult, but I launched repeated attacks against the El. It came down to the final turn, with three make or break combats. He managed to kill a Bd and supporting Ps with his Wb, and my attacks on the El failed and another Wb pair failed. I came up short, losing 2-3G.

Overall, the tournament was a lot of fun. All of my opponents were great, and I had a couple of epic games. Thanks to Robert Torres who ran a great event.

DBA Steppe Wars
This was a large multi-player game pitting the Mongoals against Hsia-Hsia Chinese w/Turk Allies. I played a III/11 Central Asian Turkish army. The premise of the game was pretty cool, but it was a bit disappointing in action. There were seven Mongol players vs five Hsia-Hsia, so we were outnumbered all over the board. In my area, we were outnumbered 3 to 2, so it was really just a matter of time before we were crushed. I managed to break one of the Mongol commands before I was broken, so I had that going for me... Thanks go to Jeff Caruso for putting on the event.

Warbirds in Minature
My last event of the show was a Warbirds in Miniature event. This is a relatively new World War II air combat game. It is roughly similar to Check Your Six! and Blue Max, but with a bit more complexity. The scenario had three Ju-87 Stukas escorted by a pair of Bf-109s attacked fixed British positions in North Africa. Their opposition was a group of four Spitfires, and I was flying one of them.

My wingman and I went after the Stukas while the other pair of Spitfires went after the 109s. We climbed a bit, then made a high speed, diving pass through the bombers. We damaged two bombers, killing a gunner. Meanwhile, the other lead Spitfire mercilessly hammered the lead 109, blowing it apart with a deadly, short range shot. He followed that up with another one shot kill on a Stuka. Rolling boxcars twice results in two dead planes. Ouch! Anyways, I shot down a bomber on my second pass, leaving one Stuka left to bomb. He had a slight lead on the Spitfires, so was able to line up a bombing run on the last turn of the game as we converged on him. We managed to shoot him down, but he dropped a bomb squarely onto the British HQ. The game resulted in a tie, but the drama at the end made it very exciting.

Overall, I was impressed with Warbirds. It was a bit abstract, but it gave a pretty good "feeling" of air combat. Once you understand how the charts work, its a pretty good game.

I thought about doing a little bit of shopping, but decided just to head home. I had a pretty rough week at work, and a long day on Saturday, so I just wanted to relax on Sunday.

The shopping was good. The flea market was pretty big, although I didn't find much of what I wanted (cheap 15mm ancients). The vendor area was huge, and I did find a couple of bargains. The convention center was very nice, with big, well lit rooms, and fairly decent food. The swag was very nice... a nice tape measure with a 25th anniversary Historicon logo. Much better than a couple of dice. :-)

Overall, the trip was a resounding success!