Sunday, January 10, 2010

Drumbeat 2009

Lots of important annual events began as small, informal affairs that magnify in their impact as time goes on. Bing Crosby used to call his little stop at Pebble Beach on the PGA tour his "clambake." I think Dick Larsen's gathering on Beacon Hill each January similar. It's something special. It has the merit of location in Seattle. It is intimate. Although I ran a game virtually all day, I could still get around to see most of the games, say hello to friends, see what was going on.

Max Vekich and Herbie Fairbanks hosted a pretty substantial Sword and the Flame game in Afghanistan. It was almost as long as my own game, and all the gamers seemed to have a good time. Bill Stewart hosted an American Civil War Game using Black Powder Rules. More about this later. Mitch Berdinka and Mark Waddington hosted a Napoleonic game using La Salle rules. Damond Crump hosted a good looking Patrol game down at the far away end of the room. Dean M. ran some WWI WABishness, and Mark Serafin ran Kampfgruppe Commander, and Gary Williams had some very cool 28mm Jacobites. .

As promised, I ran my St. Jean game, and old friends Darin Howard and Tom Biecker were two of the players, together with friend Joel and Darin's brother George. Darren, Tom and I go way back to the old Fire and Steel Napoleonics days and seeing them is a very pleasant blast from the past.

Joel took the role of Prince Edward/Warwick, while George was Holland. Darin managed the town defenses while Tom was Eu in charge of the fortification. Though the result was pretty similar to last week's game, the process was a lot different. Darin pushed the town defenses into the houses, though the French players also built the barricade defenses. I gave them a barricade to defend on the bridge as well, which made some tough sledding for the English. It was historical, and I thought it made sense. The English assault force of knights took it from light bolt shooters on the towers (which I remembered to pack.)

George's assault on the barricade started off well. He employed his arrowstorm effectively, and made average die rolls to beat up militia on the barricade. He effectively dispatched a small force of town militia that Darin used aggressively to buy time. The militia crossbows were pretty ineffective. More thoughts on this later. George pushed aggressively on to the barricade.

Joel's assault also had considerable initial success. He ran his three knight units right up the bridge and attacking at the barricade. He took a lot of missile fire, but absorbed it, and even though he suffered a lousy exchange at the barricade, held morale until the French defenders withdrew inside the barbican. The arrow exchange with the cogs was no contest, with the defenders swept clear after two turns of sustained fire with the longbowmen. The Welsh slowly, but successfully waded the river and eventually joined the attack on the barricade.

George's assault ground down as he ran out of effective assault troops. His Bretons were snuffed by knights on the barricades and he was forced to use his bowmen as shock troops. The results weren't pretty, but he effectively eliminated Darin's command and wore down Tom's regular troops. The barbican defenders were faced with troops assaulting at the front door, and as Joel was able to move to the flanks. By the end of the game (turn 10) with English on the roof of the gatehouse and the barricade thoroughly breached I declared the game in favor of the English. It was a good, tight game and all players were clever and creative. I thoroughly enjoyed gaming with all four of the guys and look forward to doing it again.

In terms of the scenario, a couple of ideas have crossed my mind. I'd like to move the river a bit closer to the Prince of Wales' side of the board and give Holland a bit more ground to cover. I think the English bow fire works well. I think the crossbow fire is penalized a bit too much. I think giving them half fire works, but eliminate the additional penalty for firing at knights. Still penalize for firing into fortifications and behind cover, but allow for the enhanced penetrating power of the crossbow.

Next game is at Game Matrix on the 18th. All of we public employees, or those not working, will get together for a little Zulu action.

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