Over the weekend I attended the annual CanGames gaming convention in Ottawa–and very good it was too. There were many miniature, boardgames, and RPGs to choose from, with two dozen or more games underway at any one time—plus vendor booths and a few workshops and other activities.
My own gaming schedule looked like this:
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Friday night – Dogfight Over the Death Star (X-Wing, Garth Elliot GM).
Two X-Wings and a Y-Wing (and later, a third X-Wing piloted by Luke Skywalker himself) tried their luck against two pairs of TIE Fighters and a TIE Interceptor. I’m pleased to report that the Empire triumphed, with my own pair of fighters destroying the Y-Wing and an X-Wing while receiving only minor damage.
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Saturday morning – The Battle of Quatre Bras (15 mm Napoleonics/Lasalle, Duncan Martelock GM).
I commanded the Dutch, composed of the 2nd Netherlands Division and 3rd Light Brigade. The bulk of my forces deployed to the east of the village itself, while my teammate’s Brunswickers deployed to a low hill in the centre and the cavalry to the right. British reinforcement were en route—could we hold out against the French until they arrived?
Apparently not. With the exception of a brave artillery battery that inflicted heavy casualties before retiring in good order, the Dutch line folded the moment the French columns slammed into it. British reinforcements hastily took up position in the village, as my light cavalry redeployed to strengthen the stricken allied right flank.
Shortly thereafter, however, French infantry and cavalry assaulted the central hill, routing the Brunswick forces there.
With this the game was ended as a decisive French victory.
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Saturday afternoon – The Siege of Louisbourg (25mm Muskets & Tomahawks, Ed Burley GM).
On 26 July 1758, after almost two months of siege, the French fortress at Louisbourg surrendered. This game explored an alternative history, one wherein the Governor had not surrendered and the British had been forced to assault the fortress.
The figures and scenery were superb.
I assumed the role of one of the three British commanders. My objective was the heavily-guarded King’s Bastion on the right of the table.
I started my assault, as did the British commanders in the centre and on the left….
However, I was driven back, as were our forces on the centre. Only on the left did the Scottish regiments appear to be making some headway.
I regrouped, and tried again.
Once more, I was unsuccessful. Our forces in the centre fared even worse, caught in the crossfire from the two main bastions. This proved to be something of a blessing in disguise for me, since two battered battalions from that force were redeployed as reinforcements to support my efforts. On the left flank some Scots made it onto the walls but were making little headway, and at heavy cost too.
My third and final assault went forward. By this time the Marines on the wall were severely understrength, supplemented by only a few lightly-armed French civilians.
Success! As more and more British troops entered the bastion the Governor surrendered and the fortress was taken.
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Saturday night – East Wind Rain 2018 (Bandits 2, David Redpath).
Tensions between the US and China have escalated to military conflict, and the US Navy has dispatched a strike force of F-35s to bomb a Chinese island airbase in the South China Sea—defended by J20 fighters. Since both sides had stealthy aircraft, it was a real challenge to know when to use active radar, or otherwise depend on passive, IR, and visual search.
As the American side, our plan called for four F-35s with an air-to-air loadout to secure an approach to the island, clearing the way for a follow-on strike package. The limited internal carrying capacity of the F35 would prove to be a major constraint, with the first wave limited to four AAM (2x AIM9X, 2x AIM-120), and the second wave flying with non-stealthy external stores so that they could carry a reasonable load of JDAMs and some AAMs for self-defence.
Initially our plan worked well. Two J20s on combat air patrol failed to noticed us, and both were bounced and downed by my fellow American player. I, however, managed to miss with every missile I fired—a streak that would continue through the game.
Now alert to our presence, more J20s closed in on our location and spotted us. Four F-35s were downed, while only one Chinese plane was damaged (and landed safely on the island). SAMs located on the island also fired on us if we strayed too close.
At this point, our strike package began its run, with two more F-35s in escort. They managed to penetrate the Chinese fighters screen and drop the JDAMS. These, however, had little effect, whether due to poor targeting, GPS jamming, hardened targets, or plain bad luck. My own bad luck also continued, with all 14 missile shots now all misses.
Finally, one of my pilots hit something. Hooray!
The Chinese were deemed to be the winners, but I was awarded a special trophy for truly abysmal dice-rolling.
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Sunday morning – Samurai Battles: Mikatagahara (Pike and Shotte, Mike Abbott).
Under the leadership of daiymo Takeda Shingen, we sought to sweep the Mikata Plain clear of Tokugawa troops. I took the left flank of our army, with a mixed force of foot and mounted samurai.
Our plan called for our right flank—almost entirely composed of cavalry—to seize the road, swing left across the bridge, and attack the enemy’s centre in conjunction with our own centre force. As they did so I would seize the hill overlooking the crossroads. Each of the commanders was given secret individual objectives, raising the possibility of treachery. Mine was to move troops to the enemy baseline, preferable where the road exited the board.
My cavalry were magnificent, routing enemy units atop the hill in repeated charges. Meanwhile, our right hook worked well too, with the enemy’s centre pummelled by a massive assault of foot and horse. It soon collapsed.
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Sunday afternoon – Aftershock.
I also ran one game at CanGames this year, namely AFTERSHOCK: A Humanitarian Crisis Game. Five players joined. Unfortunately I was too busy facilitating to remember to take any pictures.
The initial card draws were fairly lucky, reducing initial casualties from the earthquake which struck Carana. The government players made good use of their ability to distribute supplies through volunteer groups and repurposed public employees, and also responded promptly to reports of social unrest. The foreign Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Task Force (HADR-TF) focused much of its efforts on repairing first the airport and then the sea port. The NGOs suffered some supply bottlenecks early in the game, but these were soon eliminated by HADR-TF repairs. The United Nations seemed anxious to generate the maximum possible publicity for its efforts, and some friction developed between it and the government of Carana over this. In the end, however, the players’ joint score was positive and each individual score team was positive too, resulting in an overall victory for everyone.