Pictures from Ambush Ally Games at Reenactor/Military History Fest on February 19, 2011 in Wheeling, Illinois (just north of Chicago)

February 20, 2011

I spent a very pleasant Saturday hanging around the gaming area (new this year) at Reenactor Fest…well now known as “Military History Fest” held at the Westin Hotel in Wheeling, Illinois – a town just northwest of Chicago.

Here is a link to the event:

http://www.reenactorfest.com/Reenactor_Fest/Home.html

Ambush Alley Games was sponsored by Osprey Publishing to run some of their games there.  Some other local gaming folk also ran some games.

Skip Petersen of Legends in Time set up an amazing looking table to run “Battle of Britain” aircraft battles.

Dogfight over the British countryside

Skip’s minis were very well painted and his table just really drew you in.

This is ten or twelve feet long (3 to 4 meters)

I didn’t get a chance to play in this game because I was drawn to this game instead:

Iraq in 2003 - The road to Bagdad

Jim Roots and his son had set up an amazing looking Middle East board, representing an outlying urban sprawl like that in areas of Iraq.  I didn’t get there in time to join in this game but I observed and took pictures and spent a very pleasant time talking with some US veterans of our conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  One was playing in the game, taking the Iraqi insurgent forces side and another was just observing and hanging around.

A "Fog of War" card drawn by the Insurgent side gave the US Marines a sniper team

This picture shows a US Marine sniper team overlooking a target rich environment.  The Marines in this game were supposed to push a convoy through the town but got bogged down by the Insurgent forces.  One of the “Fog of War” cards drawn by the insurgent forces provided the Marines with some sniper cover.

The insurgent held side of town - the Marines were supposed to get through here

The Marines were supposed to get their column through here.  You can see several mobs of insurgents in various spots, waiting for a chance to attack and hoping to not get shot by the snipers who were picking off RPG-armed insurgents.  In Force-on-Force a sniper can target specific, individual members of enemy squads.

In the afternoon I did get to join in a game.  This time, using the Force-on-Force rules we played out combat in the jungle between the Japanese and the US Marines on Guadalcanal during WWII.

A section Guadalcanal - gamed in 28mm scale

While the Iraqi conflict table was set at 15mm scale, the battle on Guadalcanal was set at 28mm scale.  Jim Roots and his son had an amazing setup here too.  The minis for the Japanese soldiers were breathtaking!

One of the Japanese Squads at the start of the game

I joined a couple of players in controlling the Japanese side, while some new players were trying out the Ambush Alley Force-on-Force rules while controlling the US Marines.  The game balance favored the Japanese forces in this scenario.  Dice rolling at first was also amazingly good for the Japanese side.

Using the heavy cover the US Marines moved up to the edge of the canal

The US Marine forces (on the right of the picture) used the heavy cover of the jungle to line up along the canal edge and prepare to cross it.  Their mission was to disable “hot spots” where Japanese reenforcements could join the battle and then escape the area to the left.  The Japanese forces had the mission of stopping them.

The Japanese squads with the yellow rings by them are hidden and could not be targeted.

A Japanese squad prepares to charge the US Marines

In this game the strength of the Japanese forces was in their charge and close quarters combat.  The rifles they were issued were inferior weapons and was reflected in the game by lowering their “troop quality” dice  when shooting from a D8 to a D6.  They got a D8 troop quality die when engaged in close combat and got extra attacks as well.  So the whole Japanese strategy centered around setting up a charge.

"Hey, we got 'em! Uh-oh..."

This picture shows the remaining Japanese soldiers after their squad successfully charged and eliminated a 4-man US Marine fireteam.  This was a mixed blessing for the Japanese squad, since they now were taken under fire by two US Marine fire teams, a sniper unit AND a machine gun unit.  The Japanese survivors did NOT survive that…

Japanese squads pinned by Marine fire and bad morale rolls

The shooting from the US Marine side was very effective.  In this picture you can see a couple of different Japanese squads with blue markers by them, indicating the squads were “pinned” by the fire from the Marines.  This result happened because the Japanese soldiers had to make a morale roll every time they were taken under fire.  These squads were pinned when they failed their morale rolls.  Some reallly bad dice rolling…

Another Marine squad across the canal

The middle lower part of the picture shows the Marine squads that made it across the canal with one squad starting to advance.

Double "Banzai" charge at the US Marines

To get past the large amount of covering fire from the Marines the Japanese forces had to stage one charge after another, with the leading charges soaking up the Marine firepower so the later charges could make it in.The numbers were against the Marines in this instance.

The Japanese charge captures two US Marines

It took three charges by the Japanese units and the cost of over 20 Japanese soldiers to take down six US Marines and capture the remaining two wounded survivors.  The players on the US Marine side did very well considering the scenario was balanced against them.  Discussions with the game referee were that in the future, the number of Japanese soldiers per squad would be reduced, making it easier to take down a squad.  We thought that might make enough of a difference.

I enjoyed meeting Shawn and Peggy of Ambush Alley Games and got to drool over some advanced copies of Osprey Publishing’s “Force-on-Force” and its companion “The Road to Baghdad”.  The gaming was fun and I got to meet some really cool and impressive veterans.  A very good day indeed!

http://www.ambushalleygames.com/

http://www.ospreypublishing.com/

http://www.legends-in-time.com/

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Tomorrow’s War AAR – Humans vs. Mekanoids

February 15, 2011

(Thanks to Jim Roots for hosting this at Unique Games & Gifts in Grayslake, IL this past Sunday)

“We’d heard rumors of the action that took place on Mars.  Killer robots and giant walking tanks armed with guns that’d blow a hole lengthways through a main battle tank.  Pure scuttlebutt and a load of crap, if you had asked me.  Then we saw the flashes in the sky and heard the thunder coming out of the desert.  Orders came down moving a bunch of units like ours out into the small towns on the edge of the desert lands, trying build a wall of forces between the civilians and…whatever was coming our way.  We got lucky, getting backup for our infantry platoon by a short platoon of IFV’s stiffened by the biggest Main Battle Tank – MBT – that I have ever seen.”

“Our orders? Guard ‘Bridge 12’ on the ‘North Road’ where it crossed the ‘East River’.  Hold the line…some REMF who wrote that order had seen way too many war movies.  We took positions in the buildings around the road and stayed on the town side of the river where we had cover.  The only cover across the river was a few rocks and the occasional cactus.  And the blowing dust…”

“Meteorology report suggested a high chance bad weather coming.  Other bad things came first.  We saw the shapes approaching, rippling in the heat haze, surrounding what looked like a hill moving towards us.  A hill with legs…”

At the beginning of the battle the human forces were all deployed as "hidden"

At the start of the battle the human forces were all deployed in “hidden” mode.  The enemy knew where we were but could not target individual units until they performed an action.  This was due to fear from the “Giant Vehicle”, the Khurasan Mekanoid Dictator, which carried a railgun system, lasers mounted in its head and lasers mounted on all its legs.  These were three independent weapon systems, though the leg mounted lasers could only fire if the unit did not move.

The other units were Blue Moon’s 15mm Robot Legion and Skirmishers.  These were in groups of 4 (for the Legionaires) and I think 6 or so (for the Skirmishers).  The Mekanoid invaders were operating at a higher tech level, which gave them extra dice in combat.  Their weaponry was sufficient that 4 Legionaires had 10 attack dice, the 6 Skirmishers had, I think, 8 attack dice.  This was potentially devastating to opposing infantry forces. Finally the Mekanoids had a VTOL also armed with a laser and a Railgun.  Oy…

The human forces consisted of about 24 infantry, divided into teams of 3 or 4, supported by a heavy machine gun team and a missile launcher team.  They were backed up by a short platoon of 3 Infantry Fighting Vehicles armed with light cannon and 4 TOW-missile equivalent systems per vehicle.  Finally, the heavy hitter for the humans was the Siler Superheavy Tank, armed with a kick-ass rail gun and a couple of machine guns.  The humans also had a couple of unarmed Humvee-equivalents.

My son Thomas joined me to run the human forces.  He took the vehicles and I took the infantry.  For a little while he was afraid he was going to be bored…

The Mekanoid Dictator moved forward, supported by the VTOL

The Mekanoids had the initiative for the fist turn (and several thereafter…sigh…damn dice).  The Mekanoid Dictator (a “Giant class” vehicle in the Tomorrow’s war rules) moved forward.  The forward-deployed fireteam that included a Rocket-Propelled-Grenade launcher attempted an interrupt and did not succeed, in fact rolling a “1” on the die.  This meant a “Fog-of-War” card was drawn.  The card put a random casualty on one of the human force teams.  One of the members of the 2-man heavy machine gun team was apparently snake-bitten.  The Giant Vehicle fired its railgun and lasers at the fireteam.  Good dice rolling indicated that the building they were hiding in provided good cover.  The fireteam returned a shot with the RPG that actually, amazingly hit the Dictator and took out the leg laser systems.  Yay humans!  Return fire from the Mekanoid infantry through…ow!

Return fire from the Mekanoid Centurions devastated the attacking team.  A unit of Mekanoid Skirmishers charged forward and another human team destroyed all but one of them.  Their  “only on a 6” recovery roll made the odds good that what went down, stayed down.  However, when another of the human teams tried to interrupt a Mekanoid advancing team the dice gods proved they had a heck of sense of humor – another “1” was rolled and another “Fog-of-War” card was drawn.  This time the card proved to be one of the worst possible cards for the human forces…

GAS - GAS - GAS!!!

Yup, the “Gas-Gas-Gas” card was drawn.  This meant that the human equipment had detected a gas attack – something that makes great sense from a machine intelligence standpoint.  The game effect was just awful – the human infantry troop quality die went DOWN a level – from a D8 to a D6.  Now all successes for infantry had to be a 4 or better on a 6 sided die, as opposed to a 4 or better on an 8 sided die (like the Mekanoid forces).  Very game changing.  Still fun though, since it put the human forces under a considerable but not insurmountable disadvantage.  The human vehicles were judged to be “pressurized” and thus kept their D8 troop quality.

The humans had taken some hits...

The Mekanoid forces finished their activations, having inflicted complete casualties on every squad that popped up to shoot them.  The Mekanoid Centurions were almost impervious to fire – only one went down in an interrupt and it popped right back up again.  However, the human side still had forces that had not been activated, so finally they had a chance.  Bring on the Armor!

"Cue the spaghetti western music!"

First out of cover was the Siler super heavy tank.  It won the troop quality test against the Dictator,  lined up its shot and fired, generating a resounding “CLANG!” as its round bounced off the armor of the giant vehicle.  Return fire suppressed the Siler for the turn.  The IFV’s now had their time – their main guns were just light cannon and had little chance to damage the Dictator.  Their TOW-missile-equivalents , however, were potentially up to the task.

IFV trying to take the heat off a SUPER HEAVY tank...

Some armor drivers clang when they walk – or rattle when they shake their heads – hard to tell which sometimes.  One of the IFVs pulled in front of the Siler, acting as a meat shield with a crunchy shell.  The other 2 IFVs took firing positions.

The IFVs line up to attack...

The IFVs took positions and rolled for their interrupts.  Remember what I said about the dice gods and their sense of humor?

Yup, another "1" is rolled...

One of the Troop Quality rolls for an IFV was a “1”.  Another FoW card came into play.  This was another “man down” card and the random determination of what human infantry team was hit gave it to the remaining person on the 2 man heavy machine gun team.  He apparently was bitten by another snake hwere they set up the gun.  The shooting from the IFVs was like the argument of a fool – full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Note the 2 more cards...

Somewhere in the mix of the fighting another Fog of War card was drawn – the “Who Goes There” card, which basically meant a sandstorm moved in.  Infantry visibility was reduced to 18 inches.  If the soldiers were asked about the weather I don’t think their responses would be printable…

This allowed the Mekanoid infantry to freely moved forward, since only the human vehicles could see them on FLIR and they had bigger fish to fry.

Darned street is too narrow for manuver

The armor was shooting away at the Mekanoid forces, to little avail.  The crunchy meat shield, aka the IFV in front of the Siler got off lightly and was just immobilized.  The Mekanoid VTOL moved up to the river’s edge and blasted another human fireteam.  However, when you are in range of the enemy, vice versa.

Come out and play?

The VTOL got into some fire exchanges with the IFVs and a rocket launcher armed infantry team.  The humans got the bad side of that deal.

IFV hit at top of picture - missile launcher squad hit in road on left

An IFV shooting between some houses failed to achieve a successful interrupt and ate a Railgun round from the VTOL.  Another immobilization.  The missile team got as close to the VTOL as they could and also failed their interrupt.  They received on casualty.

The Siler moves to get a shot...

The Mekanoid Dictator continued its ponderous advance.  The human Siler superheavy tank manuvered to get a shot at it.  It missed.  The rest of the remaining human activation phase had its ups and downs, with action taking place on the river where some Mekanoid Centurions actually took some hits – including from friendly fire by way of a Fog of War card.  Then a miracle occured – the human side won the initiative!

Holy cow! We get to shoot first?

The human armor manuvered where it could and the infantry moved around to take up better positions.  Things looked grim – the Dictator was proving unstoppable, the VTOL was about move behind the human lines and the Mekanoid Centurions were getting into combat range again.  There were a lot of WIAs and KIAs among the humans along with many unassessed casualties.  The distant sounds of the “Bugout Boogie” were echoing in soldiers ears…

The Siler gets a clean shot - BAM!

Things looked bad.  The Siler won its activation and fired on the Dictator.  The dice gods were giggling. The Siler hit with 3 successes, meaning it rolled on the damage chart with a D12.  An 11 was rolled.  The Mekanoid Dictator, an unstoppable killing machine that had accounted for many lives on Mars and here, brewed up with a huge explosion and a cloud of smoke.  My son Thomas had rolled a heck of a good attack!

The storm got worse...

The Mekanoid forces, reeling from this staggering loss, got hit by a double whammy.  A “1” was rolled by the Mekanoid player and the Fog of War card drawn meant that the weather really closed in, grounding all aircraft and reducing visibility to 6 inches.  The game was called a draw at that point, with the Mekanoid forces withdrawing to wait for clearer weather and the human forces licking their wounds.

The weather won this round...

“Yeah, we held the line there.  Didn’t have much to hold it with at the end, some shook up grunts, some shot up armor and one hellacious tank.  I am never going to swear at a sandstorm again. If the weather hadn’t turned up so foul I think we’d have all been pasted by the robots.  Damn them, I hope that sand gets in their gears…”