Attended the HMGS Fall In convention again. Unfortunately, my son Nick had college committments so I attended by myself. Still, a great time and a particularly well-organized event. Also, being of Polish descent, this convention's theme, "Poland Through the Ages" had a special appeal for me. I put on two games, one set in The Deluge and the set in the Polish-Bolshevik War, more on them below.
The first game in which I played, on Friday afternoon, was Howard Whitehouse's delightfully retro A Gentleman's War, using classic toy soldiers with colorful, not-found-in-nature scenery. Set roughly in a Victorian/Edwardian era, it involved an invasion of England by the dastardly French who sneaked over the Channel whilst no-one was looking
A French onion seller/intelligence agent
I commanded the center of the French line but not for long.
In this game, the players commanded the Swedish forces tasked with capturing a fortified monastery containing a large treasury of donations, the capture of which would enhance the Swedish warchest. I had 11 players, 9 commanding a regiment sized unit, one player I had assisting me in running the Poles' garrison and partisan forces and one player as Mother Courage, head of the Swedish camp-followers. This latter was played with great aplomb by Howard Whitehouse himself.
The rules provide for each turn to have a shifting time scale, from one minute up to days, based on the players intentions and the GM's plans for the opposition. The players started with an attempt at a ruse, having the camp followers appear to be fleeing to the monastery chased by a regiment of Scottish mercenaries. This attempt at a Trojan horse-type of attack failed when the Polish commander did not buy the ruse. Being fired upon by the garrison, the camp followers and Scots rushed the walls. Mother Courage herself attempted to drive a flaming vodka cart against the gate but ending up immolating herself.
In the mean time, another Polish regiment serving with the Swedes, this one of winged hussars, decided to switch sides and attacked the Scots as they retreated from attack. Although the hussars inflicted some casualties, they were attacked from the rear and routed but not before the hussars' commander escaped to the fortress to become another Polish leader. He later sneaked out of the fortress and organized the local partisan forces who would have devastating effect on the Swedish operations.
The much hoped-for heavy guns were captured on the road by Polish partisans and the Polish light cavalry who had been serving with the Swedes managed to steal the Swedish payroll chest and set off to join the partisans. The Swedes were left with a last do-or-die attempt to assault the walls in which a minor breach was achieved by use of a petard. The assault was bloodily repulsed ending any chance of Swedish success and the game. Despite the frustrating result, all the players seemed to have really enjoyed the game and threw themselves into it with gusto.
On Saturday I ran my other game, The Twelve Chairs. Set during the Polish-Bolshevik War, it was inspired by an old Mel Brooks comedy about a search for the family jewels belonging to the Vorobyninov family that had been secreted in the chair seats of the formal dining room set. In the game, the tide of revolution and civil war resulted in them being scattered over old Ukrainian manor of the family. I had six markers hidden on the table, each one representing two chairs. At the end of the game, a player rolled a dice for each chair they possessed and a roll of a 6 indicated that they had a portion of treasure. So it was really like a giant scavenger hunt but with armored trains and heavy artillery. Each player had several infantry or cavalry units, some type of vehicle, a commander and a group of "treasure-hunters" who had extra chances to search for the treasure. I had four Polish players, five Bolshevik players, a Ukrainian player, a White Russian player, an Anarchist player, a player controlling the odd mix of nobles and retainers inhabiting the two manor houses on the board, and one player controlling a single very lost British armored car under the control of Capt Blackadder and his batman Baldrick.
The action in the game was too confusing to give a detailed narrative but it broke down into a battle between the main Red infantry force along with some Red sailors battling the Anarchist and Ukrainians over the manor houses. This all went for naught when the manor inhabitants were able to sneak out of the mayhem with their chairs in tow. The Red command armored train and heavy artillery battled the Whites while most of the Polish players ignored the fighting and searched the village for the treasure.
There were some long range firing between the Red armored train and the Polish Blue Army train. The Red cavalry and Polish cavalry providing the fiercest battle, wiping each other out in repeated charges up the stairs to the second floor of an inn where some of the chairs were stored. The remnants of the Polish cavalry were able to finally secure these chairs.
From a military standpoint, the end result was that half of the board was under red control and half under Polish control. Three players, out of five who had gotten the chairs, ended up sharing in the actual treasure, the Red army player, the Polish cavalry player, and Blackadder. I think all the players enjoyed the game.