Saturday, December 8, 2018

Prepping for DANG 2018 - Planning and New Ships

In an earlier post I mentioned that the 2018 version of Dave's Annual Naval Game (DANG) will revisit the American Civil War. This year’s game is entitled Cradle of the Rebellion - The Siege of Charleston. The game will cover potential battles the Charleston, South Carolina area between July and September 1863. Historically during this time, the Union Army and Navy were cooperating to reduce Confederate forts on Morris Island. The Union attacks on the Fort Wagner failed to dislodge the Confederates (see the First and Second Battles of Fort Wagner), but it did convince them to evacuate the island in September. There were only a couple very minor naval skirmishes during this time, as the Union Navy tried to stop resupply and reinforcement attempts to the island. But the Confederate General P.T. Beauregard had requested that the Confederate ironclads attack the Union forces to break the attack on the forts, setting the stage for a nice hypothetical action.
Confederate ironclad Chicora attacking blocking ships in Charleston Harbor
For the game, the Union forces will be tasked with using their ironclads to reduce the Confederate forts and batteries around the harbor, allowing the Army to storm them, and maintaining a tight blockade on the city. The Confederates need to support their forts and the blockade runners, while trying to break the blockade. As usual with DANG, both sides will have some options to start the game and missions they must complete.

I’m borrowing most of the ships for the game from others. But I always like to put together some ships for each of the games. This year I picked up four new ships (a Yankee Gunboat, Confederate Gunboat, and two ‘Purchased’ Screw Steamers) from Thoroughbred Miniatures 1/600 Ironclads line. The kits are mostly generic that can be used for any number of ships from the era. I’m painting up the kits now, but wanted to post a few photos of the ships before and during construction.

The Yankee Gunboat is a sidewheel steamer that can be configured to represent a number of different purchased sidewheelers. It comes with six guns that allow you to vary the armament.
Unassembled Yankee Gunboat
The Purchased Screw Steamer is truly a kit-bashers type kit. It comes with parts to make a wide variety of screw steamers. It comes with three masts, a raised forecastle, two wheelhouses, a long cabin, and six guns. You can easily add your own cabin (using wood or plastic) to change the configuration and create different ships.
Unassembled screw steamer
For my ships, I used the included cabin for one to create a ship similar to the USS Aries and the other I left the cabin off to make something similar to the Confederate gunboats Macon and Peedee.
Assembled screw steamers (bottom and left) and Confederate Gunboat (right)
The Confederate Gunboat is a cottonclad sidewheel steamer, meant to represent the Jackson, Governor Moore, and General Quitman. But it too can be a somewhat generic ship.
A side view of the assembled ships
I’ll get a few photos of the painted ships up before the game.

This my seventeenth-year running DANG and is the second time we’ve played an ACW battle. Here are links to recaps of DANG from before 2010, the 2010 Lepanto game, the 2011 American Civil War river game, the 2012 War of 1812 Lake Ontario game, the 2013 Operation Landcrab game, the 2014 Cogs of War game, 2015 The Shores of Tripoli game, 2016 The Big Stick game, and last year’s Seastrike game.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

2018 NHMGS Game Day at the Museum of Flight

This year NHMGS was joined by the NW Scale Modelers and Lake Sawyer Hawks Radio Controlled Airplane Club for the Hobby Day Expo at the Museum of Flight.We had a good turnout of gamers for the event and a good number of people stopping by to watch the games and ask questions.
NHMGS game tables on the port side of the Blackbird
NW Scale modelers tables
A closer view of one of the model tables
Radio Control planes
It was fun to see some of the other hobbies there and I'm sure it gave the museum-goers an interesting view of the different hobbies.

As usual, NHMGS had four gaming tables and some information tables. Thanks to Al for covering the information table for most of the day. He did a great job talking with people about the hobby.
Al at the information table
The morning session had an air attack on a bridge during the Vietnam War (using the AirWar C21 rules), a World War I - Wings of Glory game, a World War II Eastern Front microarmor game, and the air battle over Malta game Kevin and I ran.
USAF F-105 bombers enter the map
An F-105 approaching the target bridge
Wings of Glory getting off the ground
A Soviet paradrop
Malta - here come the bombers
Me-110s mixing it up with the Hurricane IIs
Two bomber groups make for the floating drydock with a Hurricane in pursuit
The Germans did an effective job keeping the interceptors busy
The third group of bombers was basically unopposed
The Malta game went well, but the RAF took a real beating. They lost 3 out of 6 Hurricanes (the other 3 were all damaged) and only knocked down 1 bomber (although 2 others were crippled). However, the Italians didn't have much luck in hitting their targets, so it was a complete defeat.

In the afternoon there was a Star War Armada game, the Battle of Coronel naval game, a continuation of the microarmor game, and a What a Tanker game. I took the chance to play the tank game, driving a Panzer IV.
Star Wars Armada with the rebels covering the escape of some VIP transports
Coronel, with the Royal Navy bringing along the battleship Canopus
HMS Good Hope cuts the German line, just before she is sunk
My Panzer IV making its way down the road
I also took some time to look around the museum. In addition to their normal exhibits, they had some items from the recent First Man movie about Niel Armstrong. This included a model of the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) that really looked great.
A big LEM model
Overall, it was another good day at the museum. Be sure to take a look at the photos on Kevin's A Gamer's Tales blog and Dean's WAB Corner blog.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Malta Playtest

Monday was a day off for me (one of the rare times I actually get Veterans Day off), so Kevin and I decided to do a playtest of the Malta raid game we are running at the upcoming NHMGS Museum of Flight Game Day. We put the word out about the game and expected a handful of players. We were both a little surprised when eight people showed up for the game.
Players starting to gather around the table
The scenario is a straight-forward bombing run on Valetta harbor by nine Italian BR.20s, escorted by four Me-110s and intercepted by six Hurricane IICs. The bombers could choose from three different targets, although after a couple turns, it was pretty easy for the RAF players to guess where the bombers were going.

We were using David Manley's unpublished Air War 1940 rules for the game. Our previous games used relatively lightly armed fighters, so I was really interested in seeing how the cannon-armed fighters would do.
Bombers and escort enter
Planes close in
A long-range (fuzzy) shot of a fighter fly-by (no shots were exchanged)
Hurricanes and Me-110s jockeying for position
Me-110s see lots of targets
Photo just after the Me-110s blasted a Hurricane out of the sky
Hurricanes hit the bombers as they drop bombs on the floating drydock
The other bombers on their bombing run over warehouses
A Hurricane knocks down one bomber
The game went pretty well and played out fairly historical. The RAF knocked down one bomber and damaged several others (two had fuel leaks and probably would not make it home). The Me-110s shot down one Hurricane and, along with bomber defensive fire, damaged some others. The bombers did minor damage to the floating drydock (call out the painters) and moderate damage to the warehouses. We rated it a minor Axis victory. Overall everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

Kevin did a great job painting up the aircraft. The Valleta map looks really good and should be a hit at the museum game day. We are hoping for a good turnout at the museum.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Catching up on Odds and Ends

October turned out to be bad hobby month for me. For one reason or another, all of my October gaming plans fell through and most of my hobby projects languished on the paint bench.

I'm hoping to turn that around in November. But, in the meantime, I want to catch up on a few things.

NHMGS Museum of Flight Game Day 2018

This year NHMGS Game Day at the Museum of Flight is slated for Sunday, November 18. If you're in the area, be sure to stop by. The museum is advertising the 18th as a Hobby Day Expo. So we will share the floor with the NW Scale Modelers and Lake Sawyer Hawks Radio Controlled Airplane Club. Once again NHMGS will have four game tables and the schedule of games is set.

AM Games
- Air War over Malta (Kevin and I are running this one)
- Thuds Over Hanoi
- Wings of War
- Micro Armor - Eastern Front 1944: Soviet Attack

PM Games 
- What a Tanker
- Battle of Coronel
- Star Wars Armada
- Micro Armor - Eastern Front 1944: Axis Counter-Attack

It should be a good day of gaming. I'll be sure to post some pictures after the event.

Dave's Annual Naval Game 2018

Voting is all done for DANG 2018 and the winning game this year is entitled Cradle of the Rebellion - The Siege of Charleston. The general idea for this American Civil War mini-campaign is to start just after the First Battle of Charleston Harbor when the Union Army and Navy began cooperating in the siege of Charleston, South Carolina. The Union will be tasked with using their ironclads to reduce the Confederate forts and batteries around the harbor, allowing the Army to storm them, while maintaining a tight blockade on the city. The Confederates need to support their forts, while supporting the blockade runners or even trying to break the blockade! As usual with DANG, both sides will have some options to start the game and missions they must complete.
I'm hoping to get two or three battles out of the game, including at least one ironclad fight.

I'll be borrowing a lot of the ships for the game from others. But I am planning on getting a few to put together myself, so there won't be too much in the way of planning photos.

Cruel to be Kind

Warlord Games recently opened pre-orders for their new naval game Cruel Seas. The game covers coastal forces actions during World War 2 using 1/300 scale miniatures. Those of you that read my blog know that I like doing coastal forces games and have a wide variety of coastal craft, but they are all 1/600-700 scale. I like the look of the miniatures and I'm interested in the learning more about the rules, but I'm not sure about a new scale. Last year, I was very interested in the Blood Red Skies game when it was first announced. But when I read the basic rules and as more information became available, I found that I was disappointed with the system and saved my money.

That said, the videos and information that has been posted for Cruel Seas seems encouraging. So it will be hard for me to resist this game and I'll probably order a starer set. But, assuming I like the rules, I will probably use 1/600 scale ships (unless, of course, I just can't help myself and have to buy the larger ships).

So far, November is looking pretty good.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A Short Update

The last month has been busier at work and home that I expected, meaning I haven't had much of a chance for gaming and other hobby activities. But last week Kevin and I got together for a couple hours of gaming. This gave me a chance to pull out my version of Naval Battle in Archipelago.
My Kickstarter version of the game
The game is sort of the spiritual successor to Seastrike, in that it is an easy, fast-play modern naval game. The version I got came with some extras, including two game boards and miniatures.

Instead of using a paper form or rosters to keep track of weapons, damage, and fuel, Naval Battle in the Archipelago comes with cardboard forms and lots of counters/markers (aka "fiddly-bits") to track those items. The photo below is my starting forces for the game.
Starting forces
I had four ships (a torpedo boat, a destroyer, a frigate with a helicopter, and a missile corvette) and a base (the base roster is in the upper left and has extra ammunition for the ships and helicopter, along with repair tokens for the ships). Pretty much all the information you need for running your ships is on the forms and is pretty easy to read, once you figure out the symbols. The game also comes with a couple reference sheets to help remind you of movement and combat restrictions.

During a game turn, each side moves their forces and then shoots. You normally don't get to move all your ships or aircraft during the turn, so you have to make decisions about which ones are going to put you in the right places. But any ship or aircraft can attack during your turn. 

Since we just wanted a small game, we used the small map. But that did make maneuvering around a little more difficult, since all the ships except the torpedo boat needed deep water for movement and there was a limited amount of that.
My forces on the map
When you fire a weapon, the marker on the ship form is removed and you roll dice to see if you get a hit.
My helicopter lining up for an attack on Kevin's frigate
The number and type of dice used depends on the weapon. If the roll is greater than or equal to the range to the target, you get a hit (there are a couple other things to, but those are the basics). If you get a hit, you place the weapon marker on target do show damage.
My torpedo boat sunk by a surface to surface missile with one torpedo still onboard
During the game, Kevin rolled poorly for his attacks, while I rolled about average. I ended up losing my torpedo boat and having a couple damaged ships, while sinking all of Kevin's ships.

The game has several different scenarios that provide some interesting situation. During game play, there are enough decisions and different ship/weapon types to keep it interesting. Additionally, there are rules (and fiddly-bits) for land troops and commandos. So you can conduct amphibious landings and raids. Overall, we thought it was a fun little game.

In other developments, I saw a preview of Warlord Games new naval game called Cruel Seas. If you haven't seen the preview, it can be found on the Wargame News and Terran blog. They have some nice photos of the preview in the blog. It looks like the game will cover coastal actions during World War 2 using 1/300 scale ships and aircraft. I'm interested in seeing the rules, but I'm not sure if I want to get into another scale, since I already have a lot of 1/600-700 stuff. It is supposed to be out some time in December, so I'm sure more previews are coming soon.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

More Song of Drums and Tomahawks

I'm late in getting this up, but last Saturday a few of us got together to playtest the Song of Drums and Tomahawks game Kevin and David are putting on at Fix Bayonets 2018. The six-player game set around 1640 has a force of Hurons trying to ambush a combined Dutch – Iroquois force that was making its way across the map. Each group had 8 figures. The Native American groups had a leader, hero, two muskets, two bows, and two regular natives. The Dutch had a leader, a hero (both in armor with nasty halberds), and six muskets. I took one of the Huron groups.

The Dutch set up in the middle of the advance, with their Iroquois allies leading and bringing up the rear. Half the Hurons moved to hit the lead Iroquois unit, while the others (including my force) moved to hit the Dutch.
The lead Iroquois unit
The dastardly Dutch boys
We all started out in lines, so we could take advantage of group movement. Movement was a problem in our last game, so being able to move as a group was a benefit. As we got closer, individual warriors broke off from the group to start their attacks.
My Hurons moving into action
I started out trading musket fire with the Dutch, with each of us losing one figure.
Opening shots
The trailing Iroquois unit was having trouble moving. So, I closed with the Dutch, hoping to take out several of them before reinforcements arrived. However, the plan didn’t quite work, and I had my own movement troubles as the Iroquois arrived. We had a big melee in the middle where I combined with another Huron player to kill the Dutch leader. That was not an easy feat, since the Dutch armor protected them against, most native weapons. But I got a lucky roll with a primitive weapon for the killing blow. Unfortunately, I lost my leader to an attack from an Iroquois hero and had to fall back. By this time, I had lost about half my force and I decided to let the enemy come to me.
Moving to melee
reinforcing Iroquois move up
Big melee
The Dutch leader goes down, forcing the other Dutch to fall back
My turn to fall back
Over in the middle of the table, the Huron were having good luck against the lead Iroquois unit, killing three and forcing the others back. The Hurons then came streaming around the longhouse to take on the on Dutch.
Lead Iroquois taking casualties
Battle at the longhouse
Skirmish in the middle
There was a lot of back and forth fighting, but in the end, the Dutch and their allies held their ground. By this time pretty much everyone had lost half their force and we decided to call the game. It was a very bloody game, but we decided the remaining Dutch and Iroquois would probably be able to make it across the board.

Overall it was a fun game. I like the basic Song of … system from Ganesha Games. I haven’t played any of the other variants yet, but it seems like a good set of skirmish rules. It will be interesting to see what changes they make for the rules where everyone is armed with ranged weapons.