Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rock-Con 2012

After missing last year, Peg and I returned to a semi local (three hours away) favorite con this weekend.  Held in Rockford, IL it is ostensibly a Friday night through Sunday event, though in practice little tabletop gaming seems to occur on Sunday.

Besides miniature, boardgame and RPG gaming, the event features a silent auction, decent dealer area, painting competitions and the very popular "paint and take" area with donated figures and paints.

My Friday night game was with Bonaparte with the scenario set in Spain in 1813.  It wasn't my first choice but the game in North Africa had only me sign up.  Not being a fan of one against the ref games, he kindly excused me and I went to try and help get a supply column off table in the face of British, Portuguese and Spanish forces.  The game system is fairly simple.  Two range bands for musketry, d6 resolutions for firing and melee, and d6 or d10 for morale.  The French were marching out of a mountain defile so my brigades could only come into play as each unit cleared.  Cavalry moves are special in that if they declare a charge they get to do a full "maneuver" move including wheeling before you can react.  So if you get within a move of infantry and then charge, they have no chance of forming square.  This "motorcycle cavalry" dominated the game and sort of saved our bacon.  For as my unit emerged I was immediately taken under fire and then charged by the enemy that had just come on table to my right!  So not only was I out-gunned 10-4, out cavalried 2-1 and out-manned 9-5, but they got to start on my flank.

My cavalry launched the first of many desperate charges that *had* to succeed.  My attitude was to just buy time but to the surprise of many they kept winning or surviving.  Some fortuitous dice rolls by the enemy (thanks Ron) helped and I got a few infantry units on table.

At the end of regulation play I had lost one infantry unit but had routed several enemy and gotten my command out of the pass.  They gave me a prize, redeemable in the dealer area.  The scenario continued in future sessions and despite the long odds the French I think ended up winning.

Peg in her first game, a "4.5 D&D" system

Saturday morning I got into my main reason for coming game, Command Decision: Test of Battle.  The scenario was a breakout from Kiev in 1941.  Not my favorite period of the war, but I volunteered to be Soviet, "for the challenge." 

We had four groups of one tank brigade and a regiment of infantry each.  Troops were green, morale 8 for those who know the game.  Each tank group had a KV-1 model, two T-34s, six T-60s and a armored car model.  But, to represent the chaos of the opening days of the war and the retreat situation, we could only control two of our four units at any one time.  So once a unit was shaken or demoralized, there wasn't really time to rally them.  The Germans (veteran, morale 10) got five free moves to get on table and into position.  We had to cross the table the short way.  The plan was one brigade would start and go on the far left attempting to draw German reserves that way.  The rest of us would mass on the right (near the German entry point) and flood whatever was there.

It quickly became apparent that while the Germans were very good, they had no armor.  Their anti-tank guns could hurt us and took out many light tanks, but their AT rifles were ineffective against the T-34s.  The hard part was resisting the temptation to try and kill Germans rather than escape.  But seeing the opportunity I threw my forces at the Germans in close assault which tied up all in the area, allowing much of our other two brigades to escape.  Really hot dice never hurt either.

Although listed as an intermediate game most of the players were inexperienced, but it turned out well.  Oh, and the sacrificial brigade on the left?  They escaped with minor losses.

Next up was a Napoleonic skirmish game, "Sharpe's Gold" using Green Jackets.  A typical command is a dozen figures, commanded by a "hero."  It was very well organized though the game system had some goofiness.  After people had grabbed commands I found myself left with two units of redcoats and.... Sharpe.  Three mules were laden with gold to get off table.  Combat was fairly direct with d20s for hits and stunned, seriously wounded or dead being the results. 

When your unit was eliminated or made combat ineffective, more units came on table.  So the Allies could never breathe a sigh of relief till the very end.  It is odd how games can give expected results.  Shooting with Sharpe he hit 7 times out of 8, and six of the hits were kills.  In the end, despite attempted treachery by the Spanish who arrived to "help" us, the gold was saved.

This was from a lovely 15mm War of 1812 land/sea game.  There were five or six ships total.

Here is a totally cool looking Roman naval game in 6 or 10mm.  Ramming and boarding actions ensued.

My last game was supposed to be Burnside's Bridge at Antietam using Johnny Reb III.

But again I was the only one to sign up.  The morning session was well populated, but by the end of day people were getting weary and going home I guess.  The GM clearly didn't want to run it so we both went off to play Jadgpanzer with the author.  The table was nicely done and fairly accurate from by trip there this summer.  BTW, in the morning the Union forces were triumphant.

The game opened in a dust storm.  Both sides used dummy counters till spotted and each player control roughly a squadron or company from a tank battalion.  I had Valentines plus some Bishops.  The DAK had an assortment of PzII, PzIIIj, PzIVe and f models, plus some light AT vehicles.  We advanced on a tight front with the HQ squadron held off table at first.  Although they got in the first whacks, we had some hot dice and ended up giving better than we took and got forces off table, which was our goal.  Plus the Germans had the additional requirement of not losing too many tanks to a non-repairable state.  So it was a double whammy on the Germans and perhaps more importantly to my exhausted mind, an early end.  The eight players got in a lot of dice rolling and tank killing.

Some other cool images from the con:

I bought a few things from the dealers, sold a few things in the auction, and painted a figure.  So all in all an intense but enjoyable weekend.  I'll go back next year if I can.

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