Monday, October 24, 2016

What-Khan 2016

Another year has passed and What-Khan 2016 is in the books.  While there were some hiccups it was another well organized well run event....Kudus to the What-Khan staff.

When I arrived Friday I was informed that this was the last year for What-Khan.  Don't despair this is because the name will change back to Rock-CON which is was for many years.  The dates will be 20-22 October 2017.  Additionally, the venue is moving.  This is due to the fact that the sports complex where it has been for years is undergoing an extensive remodel which included installing artificial turf throughout  two weeks ago which made it less than ideal this year and will no longer be available for future years.  The new venue is the Tebla Shrine Temple in Rockford.
Venue Remodel Underway
Gaming area, yes that is artificial turf
I registered, and dropped off my auction items.  I was also able to secure the tables for our Saturday Isandlwana game and setup.  This was ideal as I would be judging Naval Thunder games Friday night and Saturday Morning.  Special thanks to Dan for the help unloading all The Isandlwana terrain and figures.
Isandlwana set up

Zulu, Thousands of them!
After Setting up I was invited to join in a game of Mare Nostrum by Beth and Bob who I have played Wings of Glory with in the past.  This game was a Kick Starter awhile back and I new little about it.  It is set in Ancient Rome with the Mediterranean Sea map.  Initially it reminded me of Conquest of The Empire or Civilization.  It was very unique with its own special mechanics and multiple ways to win.  I imagine that each game is very different.  I was only able to play a couple hours before my game began, but it was great fun.
Mare Nostrum...a great game
Link for Mare Nostrum

Once Mike arrived Dan and I helped him set up and judge his Naval Thunder game.  We used the  Battle of Cape Spartivento scenario from the Bitter Rivals book.  This historical scenario pits the Italians against the British in the Med.  We had a full table of gamers and the scenario played very well.  In the future Mike would like to add destroyers to this game, but we were not quite ready yet.  All in all a great game and everyone had a good time learning the rules.
Cape Spartivento

Saturday morning kicked off with Dan running his Naval Thunder Battle of Guadalcanal.  This is historical a night action which matches the American Battleships Washington and South Dakota with destroyer escorts against a IJN Cruisers and destroyer force which included the battle cruiser/ battleship  Kirishima.
American Battleships
Unlike History though the American Battleships were not able to take advantage of their superior fire power pummel the IJN force.  Instead the IJN players including Phil were able to turn the tables with the use of the long lance torpedo and win a decisive victory for the Emperor.
Fleets Engage
Fish in the water

Again all involved had a great time.  The Naval Thunder rules really excel in portraying the gun battles and work very well in a convention setting as they are easy to learn.
Bad night for the USN
Saturday afternoon was time for Anglo-Zulu battle of Isandlwana run by Phil and I.  Unfortunately Brian was not feeling well and was unable to make it.
Phil: "Well actually......"
We had a full table of 12 players eager to resolve this battle.  Two of the players were recruited  over to help Phil and I run the Zulu.  This is the 2nd time we have run this scenario using the Warlord Black Powder rule set.  Black Powder works well, but it does require some tweaks to make this scenario work.  Based on what we learned at Little Wars we decided to make a couple more modification.
Artillery Deployed
1. Zulu did not suffer the affects of disorder when it came to movement.  Even if disordered, Zulu could still make one move toward the enemy.
2. We had previously limited the British to one 12" move after we told them they could start retreating.  This time we did not limit it to one move, but for infantry each move was limited to 6" instead of the normal 12.
Thin Red Line ready to face the unknown
In the end these tweaks allowed the battle to develop faster as the Zulu did not get bogged down and the British could not flee as quickly once they were given the order.
Zulu massed to attack
The scenario goal was to wipe out the British as happened historically, but we used the cooperative play mechanic from the Zulu supplement, so players scored points for each turn they stayed in the fight, successfully getting off the board and bonus points if their randomly picked cooperative unit also made it off the board.
"Here they come Lads!"
The British had an excellent accounting in this game keeping the Zulu at bay for 6 plus turns.  Unfortunately on Turn 7 Company F on the far left flank was trying to redeploy back and blundered resulting in a charge.  They smashed two of the three Zulu units in front of them, but were now dreadfully exposed and eventually eliminated by the Zulu horde.
Holding the Line
In the end the Zulu rolled through the camp as planned and there were 3 British units hanging on by the hill and road attempting to get off, but they were stuck.  We called the game at that point and made them co-winners.
CHARGE?  Which one of you blokes gave the order to charge?
I felt that Little Wars went well, but this time it ran even better.  No British successfully withdrew, but the game was much closer to a full conclusion at the 4 hour mark which was the intent.  Even through we recycled the Zulu units we could probably use another 3-6 to get the full affect.
Sir, we just can't take anymore
Orderly withdraw
Zulu smell blood now
For God's sake save the guns Man!
In full retreat
Once the game concluded I had plans to try and play in a game that evening, but clean up always takes longer than expected and I was exhausted, so Phil and I decided to call it a day after packing up.
The final stand
I returned Sunday morning to run my last game of the weekend, WWII Wings of Glory.  I set up a scenario, "Find the fleet" Premise as it is 1000hrs on 7 DEC 1941.  The attack on Pearl Harbor just took place.  A lone P-40 is tailing the remnants of the Japanese attack force.    In this scenario the USS Enterprise is much closer to Pearl Harbor and the furious Admiral Halsey is looking for an opportunity to deal and immediate counter blow if he can locate the IJN fleet.

P-40 Tails a flight of VALs
I set it up to accommodate up to 12 players.  Sunday is typically lightly attended, but I was able to recruit a few stragglers and ended up with 7 players which included a father with his 9 year old son.  All were rookie pilots, but quickly caught on and a couple were aces by the conclusion of the battle.
CAP moves to intercept
The P-40 was able to score 3 kills on the damaged Vals, but failed to follow their course to the edge of the table and therefore did not find the carriers just over the horizon.  American reinforcements from USS Enterprise arrived on scene and made piece work of the zeros.   In the end the IJN combat air patrol was able to beat back the Americans and keep the fleet safe.
Surrounded by Zeroes
Most importantly all had a good time.  Always a good sign when you take a break and players come back from the vendor area with the game and are discussing where they can buy it.
Help eventually arrived, but was met by a hail of 20mm cannon fire
In addition to the three games I was directly involved in there were a ton of other events going on. What-Khan runs a very nice silent auction with buy out prices.  I took two boxes worth to find better homes and only returned with one.  I exercised great restraint in my purchases.  There were several amazing deals including new Bolt Action Metal Infantry box sets with buy it now $20.  Phil scored an assembled and painted M8 Greyhound for $10.  I bought an assorted box of Soviet Team Yankee items that included multiple infantry companies, 7 Hind Helicopters, Afgansty rules, and the Team Yankee core book for $40.
Brian's score
As usual they had a vendor area which seemed slightly expanded this year.  What-Khan also conducted a door prize drawing which was bigger than usual.  the organizers received so many donations they were able to support some games with a prize pick table which was greatly appreciated.
Vendor area
Here are a variety of pictures of other games I captured throughout the weekend.  Once again people went all out on some of the terrain
Age of Sail
All Quiet on the Martian Front

15mm Pegasus Bridge
Team Yankee in 6mm
1/1200 Goeben
The Old West is becoming a popular Genre
Armored assualt
I am sure Phil and I will compare notes and do a recap on the next episode of the Northern front Podcast for any interested in more details.

The Northern Front Podcast

I look forward to attending ROCKCON next year and hope to see some of you there.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Northern Front Episode 8

Prior to leaving for vacation Brian, Phil and I recorded the latest episode of the Northern Front Podcast which published while I was gone.

In this Episode we cover down on a number of items including:

What we have been doing in the gaming hobby
Naval Thunder rules overview
Spanish American War
Initial thoughts on Bolt Action V2
Upcoming events

You can check it out here:

The Northern Front EP 8


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Recent Travels-why we play the games, the history

I just returned from a long vacation.  In addition to some much enjoyed relaxation on the beaches of South Carolina I was able to visit a number of National Park battlefields and other historic sites.  In the course of a few days I covered the American Revolution, Civil War and WWII.

We were staying with a group of friends at Mrytle beach.  Due to tropical storm Julia off the coast there was a day of no swimming, so we headed to Charleston to check a couple items off the Bucket list.

First off was Fort Sumter where the U.S Civil war officially began.  One of the launch points for the ferry to Sumter is Patriots Point which is also home to the WWII Essex class carrier USS Yorktown as well as the famed Destroyer USS Laffey that survived kamakazie attacks in WWII.

We drove, so one we checked out of the condo last Sunday we took our time coming home.  First stop was Wilimington NC where we visited the Battleship USS North Carloina.  I have been close before, bit this was my first time actaully on a battleship.  It was awesome.

The next day we went back two centuries and visited the NPS American Revolution battlefields of Kings Mountain and Cowpens.  Both of which were pivital American/rebel victories in the southern campaign.

We then drove the historic Blue Ridge parkway.  The views were stunning.  It is hard to imagine that our ancestors were able to traverse these moutains and make their way westward.

Finally, we stopped by the NPS site of Abraham Lincoln's birthplace in Kentucky before making the final stretch for home.

My wife is a saint for indulging me in visiting all these sites.  I think she seceretly enjoyed it.  We have decided that when I retire I need to explore becoming a NPS ranger.  She smiled several times when I would give her the abridged history of what we were about to see and then during our visit the ranger would parrot what I had just told her.

My retirement job, still in uniform.
Finally, thanks to a reminder from Phil I was able to make it to the WWII living history event in my own back yard down in Rockford,IL.  Tons of vehicles and equipment to view along with the large number of re-enactors in uniform.  I wasable to retrain myself when visiting the vendor area.

I certainly enjoy playing the games based on history, but there is nothing that compares to visiting the sites and experiencing the history we love.