This past long weekend was the CanGames 2016 gaming convention in Ottawa. I was able to participate on Saturday and Sunday, both as a GM and player.
The Cruel Winter: Operation Veritable (1945)
I started Saturday morning by participating in a 20mm WWII skirmish game set in the context of Operation Veritable, pitting elements of the Canadian 1st Division against the defending Germans. The Germans had flooded much of the area, which made it difficult going. We Canadians also faced an array of enemy fortifications, obstacles, and minefields. Fortunately we had a number of engineering “funnies” from the 79th Armoured Division attached to our force: a Sherman Crab (flail), an AVRE SBG bridge-layer, and a Churchill Crocodile flamethrower.
Our objectives were three-fold: to secure a farm located on a rise of ground on our left flank (“the island”); to rescue two trapped Canadian officers; and the secure the crossroads in the centre of the village. If possible we also hoped to destroy a bunker complex on our right.
I was placed in charge of the far left flank. My LVT-equipped infantry were ordered to assault the island and seize it. Facing me were a similar number of (well-equipped and highly motivated) German Fallschirmjäger (paratroops). The main force would proceed along two parallel roads towards the village.
Despite stiff resistance, I gradually got the upper hand. It was an intense confrontation, much of it fought with grenade and bayonet.
Elsewhere our forces cleared a minefield, breached an anti-tank ditch, rescued one Canadian officer and contested the crossroads. However our infantry were engaged and pinned down by MG42 fire short of the village, and were unable to fully secure our final objective.
CanGames: The Apocalypse
On Saturday afternoon, Chloe and I ran a session of the Ivory Goat Gaming Group’s (in)famous zombie apocalypse survival game:
While the gamers were gaming, a horrifying zombie apocalypse has befallen the city. Can you make it home from CanGames without being eaten.. or worse?
The eleven players represented a diverse group of survivors. Each had slightly different secret objectives: to escape the city via a particular exit; to find food or other supplies; to observe zombies so as to improve their miniature zombie painting skills; to kill zombies; or even to get other survivors “accidentally” killed:
- The King (an Elvis impersonator)
- Myles Boffin (scientist) and Demi Delite (waitress)
- Uncle Wilf (a crazed man with an axe) and Aunt Agnes (the more stable of the two)
- Dirk Bogart (private eye)
- Mister Moose (a Mooseketeer pack leader)
- The Children (a trio of schoolgirls with a rocket launcher)
- Laurie Kraft (hypoglycemic former Olympian)
- Dick Danger (reality TV star)
- Contessa Ruiz (steampunk aristocrat with an experimental radium rifle)
- “Shank” Williams, “Abe” Abner, and “Dixie” Lee (an escaped chain gain with compatibility issues)
- Tex McClintock (cowboy)
In the end, Dirk, Uncle Wilf, and the chain gang all died, while everyone else managed to escape. The King was declared the winner, in part because of his good fortune in finding several boxes of stale Timbits along the road.
The game seemed to go over very well, and I hope to run it again next year.
Thanks to Michael Copage for help with set-up and several of the pictures above.
Siege of Fort Beauséjour (1755)
On Saturday evening I assumed the role of Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Monckton as I and a fellow British commander sought to capture the French fort of Beauséjour. The game was run by Ed Burley, and as with his Louisbourg game last year the scenery and figures were beautiful.
An immediate assault was out of the question. Instead, we slowly dug forward saps from which we could launch our final attack, while bombarding the fortress with artillery. The French guns gave as good as they got, however. Several times the main French powder store caught alight, but each time the fire was extinguished before it could detonate the stores within.
Fortunately for us, the French suffered a number of defections, both of Indian allies and local Acadians. Unfortunately for us, however, many disgruntled irregulars from the New England colonies also got fed up and went home.
Finally our trenches approached the edge of the fort. We were almost ready–we just had to prepare ladders and fascines, and soften up the defenders one more time with cannon and siege mortars. However, just then news arrived of French reinforcements en route from Louisbourg. We needed to attack in the morning, or all would be lost!
The British regulars were shattered by heavy fire from the defenders. However, our Rangers noticed that one section of parapet was only lightly-held, and scrambled up the poorly-maintained glacis. As the defenders rushed to reinforce the breach in their defences, they abandoned other positions, and Boston colonials clambered up there too. There was fierce hand-to-hand fighting on the ramparts.
Ultimately the defenders were overwhelmed, and were forced to surrender.
British casualties, however, were very heavy. Given this—and the soon-to-arrive French force from Louisbourg—the fortress could not be held, and the game was a narrow French victory.
Battle of Jutland (1916)
I assumed the role of Rear Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas, commander of the 5th Battle Squadron. This consisted of four fast Queen Elizabeth-class battleships, attached to the larger Battle Cruiser fleet of Vice Admiral Sir David Richard Beatty. Our task was to scout ahead of the main force, find the Germans, and try to lure them towards the Grand Fleet proceeding from Scapa Flow under Admiral Sir John Rushworth Jellicoe.
All went according to plan. We sighted the lead elements of the German fleet, opened fire, and then turned slightly to bring them towards our main force. We took something of a pounding, but lost no ships. The Grand Fleet arrived just in time. Showing excellent seamanship it deployed smoothly into an extended battleline, bringing broadsides to bear on the enemy. The German dispositions were less effective, and rarely were they able to bring the full weight of their fires upon us.
Ultimately the German fleet turned to the east and fled into the cover of the rapidly-approaching nightfall. The Royal Navy had been victorious!
AFTERSHOCK: A Humanitarian Crisis Game
Finally, on Sunday afternoon, I ran a session of AFTERSHOCK: A Humanitarian Crisis Game. Sadly I didn’t remember to take any pictures. The players did very well indeed, showing excellent cooperation and securing a very substantial “victory.”
All-in-all it was another excellent convention again this year. I’m looking forward to CanGames 2017!