Friday, January 23, 2015

TundraCon 2015

Our inaugural one-day con was judged a rousing success.  We had about 50 players in a Flames of War tournament and many one-off games.  Held at the Legion Hall in Appleton, WI we gathered around 9:00AM and were out by 11:00PM.  I ran a WWII naval game and filled in for one round of the Flames of War tourney when one player was late.  A Mid-War themed tournament, I had the misfortune with my Italians to draw a German Tiger company as an opponent.  I made him earn it.

At least my table looked nice.

Another 1st round game.

Great looking game mat, available from Adventure Games in Oshkosh.
Our naval game using "Naval Thunder" was very satisfying. I had limited it to five players, but the Americans took a sixth who just ran the DDs. Before we started I had the Americans roll five d10s. A ten was rolled so the battleship Tennessee dropped out of Task Force 1 with engine trouble. The Americans were told them they were looking for cruisers covering a pair of Japanese carriers which had attacked Dutch Harbor in June, 1942.  In reality the historic distant covering force of four elderly Japanese battleships were closing after a spotting report.

Both sides made a deployment sketch and on turn one I put one American DD, one Japanese DD and the two LCs on table. People plotted. The DD laid a skillful smokescreen. Nothing else appeared for the Americans. Next turn the Japanese added two BBs and two more DDs. Even though they were out of sight the Maryland opened up under radar direction but with just four guns firing missed. The Japanese eyes kind of bulged when I described the huge geysers of water erupting around the Fuso.
The next couple of turns the rest of the respective fleets came into appearance. No grousing from the US players about the faulty information. The Japanese players were somewhat careless with their box and everyone saw the models in there. Planes were my backup plan if things went horribly awry.

Right away a classic pattern developed. Never play against kids. There was a middle-school student playing and he was HOT. Using my dice I'd say, "you have 12 rolls looking for 8+." He would get six hits. Then I'd say, "you need a 9+ to penetrate." And he'd get four. The MS (Mississippi) got most of the attention and a fire broke out. The other BB formation had the Maryland and California. Although the former was firing with radar, the California was masked by their own smoke. As a result the US was firing with one less battleship and the Mississippi and New Mexico were soaking up a lot of attention.

The US DDs continued to make smoke, one as a red herring attempting to make the Japanese think another group was coming. They stayed focused and continued to pound and close. Using the American smoke to help, the Japanese started a torpedo run early. The MS and NM each lost a main gun turret. Critical hits on the Fuso and Yamashiro scored lots of secondary hits (all publicly rolled). While Thomas kept up his hot rolls all day.

The torpedo cruiser Kitakami went down in a flurry of 14" shots, but the Japanese BBs kept pounding while the Americans were distracted. A US destroyer went down too. The damage control parties on the MS failed and secondary ammo to detonated. Another fire broke out on the MS. NM is getting hammered with statistically flukey penetrating hits. The California finally starts shooting, then is masked again by American smoke. Fuso is getting all the love from the radar guided MD but has no significant loss except for a main gun turret.

The smoke clears and the Oi is in position to fire at the New Mexico.   MS is failing so badly at damage control that the fires spread. At one point she is fighting four fires and is heading for the table edge. Incredibly the Oi survives the BB gunfire and prepares to launch at long range. I say, "Thomas, you have five quadruple banks of torpedoes. How many do you launch?" Everybody, including me, silently mouths "five." So he has five rolls for the spreads, starting at 8+. He gets two hits for his 20 torpedoes, one beats the bulge armor and the New Mexico goes down. The Oi escapes, turns around and prepares to make another run.

A couple turns later and three Fubuki class destroyers line up on the Maryland and California. A US destroyer gallantly sacrificed herself to screen off one Fubuki. She was lost for her cause and the Japanese put one torpedo each into the US BBs. Nothing huge there, but discouraging for the Americans. I told the players weren't going to worry about reloads in combat. I think we played 9 or 10 turns, and at this point the Americans conceded and ended the game. The Mississippi never got her fires under control and she burned out the turn after we quit. The Fuso was going down if the Maryland fired again. The others were only down 20-40%. I had a prize for each side. When asking the Japanese about who deserved it they all pointed to Thomas. When I asked the Americans who should get their prize, they pointed at Thomas. He hadn't played any naval tabletop games previously but does some online stuff so had an idea about Japanese torpedoes and tactics.  So maybe computer games are good for something after-all.

We were done and picked up in 3.5 hours so under schedule.  I think it was a most satisfactory game for all.  Even the "losers" seemed to enjoy themselves.

Other games were real eye candy.  We had sailing ships, WWI flyers, WWI trenches, Iran-Iraq War, War of 1812, Johnny Reb, space invaders, etc.  Some pictures:

Sails of Glory

Iran-Irag game

Johnny Reb

Ranger Rick (center) did a great job running the tournament

Wings of Glory
As a result of the day it has been decided to have TundraCon 2016 next January 9th.  It will remain a one-day affair but we look to expand the game offerings and get a bit more space.  Mark you calendars now!

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