Author Archives: Bill Hamilton

The Lashwood Expedition

On July 18, 2015, we took a trip deep into the Peruvian jungle of the 1930s (courtesy of FiveCore), where Professor Lashwood and his expedition had discovered a legendary lost temple.  When the locals began muttering about sacrilege and threatening to murder the archaeologists, the US embassy sent marines in to escort the expedition to safety.  Little did they know that the Germans have learned of the discovery. They have sent their Zeppelin Troopen in to capture the archaeologists and any artifacts they have discovered.  Larry, Fred and Sean played the Marines, while Phil, Jim and Ed played the Germans.  Photos are courtesy of Jim.  Figures are from Pulp Figures, except for two Marine BARs I borrowed from Jim.

The temple complex, a pyramid looming over the ruined buildings.

The temple complex, a pyramid looming over the ruined buildings.

The Marines and the Zeppelin Troopen first had to locate the expedition’s campsite and the archaeologists.  The Germans set up on the right side of the table, while the Marines set up along the stream feeding into the river on the left and the narrow track toward the far end of the table.  The camp lies near the pyramid, directly behind the rightmost of the two trees near the river in the foreground.

Zeppelin Troopen advance toward the camp.

Zeppelin Troopen advance toward the camp.

The early game had quite a few “Scurry” turns for both sides.  The Germans rolled more, allowing them to move into the camp while the Marines were getting into position.  They held onto that advantage throughout the game.

Germans enter the camp

Zeppelin Troopen enter the camp.

On the other side of the pyramid, the Germans take position in cover near the camp as Marines advance.

Gunfire breaks out.

A Zeppelin Troopen lies dead.

Both sides exchanged gunfire for several turns with little effect.  Then the dice turned hot.  One German was shot dead in the center.

Marine firing line.

Marines advance while Zeppelin Troopen search the camp.

On the German left, the Marines engaged the Germans taking cover in the brush while other Germans searched the camp.

Marines take fire.

Marines take fire.

In the center, the Germans returned fire, killing two Marines.  To the left, one of the archaeologists (James Lawson) was found in one of the ruined buildings.

Several turns later...

Several turns later…

Lawson took cover in the ruins as the firefight raged around him.  The Marines tried to pull him out, but were cut down by the Germans.  Here they have surrounded the ruin and are ready to assault the last Marine defending the building.

Dan is captured.

Dan is captured.

In the camp, the Germans captured another of the archaeologists, Dan Davenport.  Marines prepare to rush in and rescue him.

The bloody ruins.

The bloody ruins.

Marines and Germans fought and died around the ruins hiding Lawson.

Lawson captured.

Lawson captured.

Eventually, the Germans won out and captured Lawson.

Off camera, the Marines found Professor Lashwood and his daughter Sam, and led them to safety.  Unfortunately, they were unable to stand up to the Germans.  They were steadily driven back until the Germans had control of the entire temple complex.

In the end, this was a win for the Germans.  The Marines rescued two members of the expedition, but the Germans captured two others and were able to take their pick of the artifacts and documents in the expedition camp.

 

Overall the game was a blast to run.  The players seemed to enjoy it as well.  To run it for a group, I gave each player five figures and two activations per turn.  Each side rolled one action die and followed the results accordingly.  After a few turns, play moved quickly and required little assistance from me.  I definitely plan to run it again some time.  And maybe then I’ll get to play.

The Forbidden Treasure of Li-Zhao

Jim, Ed and I played a game of Pulp Alley a few weeks ago. It’s an interesting game with quirky mechanics centered around an activation system based on advantage. In short, the player with initiative declares which player gets to activate a figure next; initiative is determined by what players do, and can switch hands multiple times in a turn. It plays pretty quickly once the players are used to the rules, but it has some interesting twists that take getting used to.

Deep in the jungles of Southeast Asia, an ancient tomb holds unimaginable wealth and power for those who can take it. With the Tomb of Li-Zhao recently revealed, dozens have come to take what they can. Who will succeed?

Captain Rogers’ crew (played by Jim) is about to brave the river.  If the treasure of Li-Zhao is all the legends say, they will all be rich beyond their wildest dreams.

Commander Varken (Ed) landed his Zeppelin troopen close by.  They will claim the treasure of Li-Zhao for Der Fuhrer and the Fatherland, beginning with the glint of metal showing from this strange well. This is a “Plot Point” in the rules, and capturing it is worth a victory point.

Doc Rocket (myself), with his trusty sidekicks Captain Halsey and Sarge, cross a stream and approach the site from the west.

While his men, Doc Rocket’s team and the Zeppelin troopen had a three way gunfight, Captain Rogers captured the treasure of Li-Zhao itself (another Plot Point).

Doc Rocket and his teammates spent several turns searching through the abandoned archaeological encampment while dodging bullets.  Finally they turned up a strange amulet (a third Plot Point).

At this point we ended the game, as Ed had to leave early. Jim could easily escape to the south where I couldn’t stop him.  The main Plot Point he captured was worth three victory points, beating the one point each of us had for the Plot Points Ed and I took.

It was an interesting game.  I’d like to give it a try again some time, though I also have some other pulp rule sets I want to give a spin as well.

Liftwood & Steam: Commerce Raid

On July 21st, several of the usual suspects showed up at my place to give my latest VSF air-naval rules a spin. I drew some inspiration from the Seas of Steel rules that we have played in the past, and melded it with ideas taken from a few other sources.

The game was straightforward. A British dirigible convoy, escorted by two squadrons of Aeronef, were set upon by a French commerce raiding flotilla. After the French withdrew, one of the British squadrons gave chase. The escort commander, suspecting a trap, moved most of the remaining squadron up into the thick cloud cover above, staying just low enough to track and follow the dirigibles below. The plan was to lure more French raiders in to attack the poorly defended convoy.

The British transports and their escort sail steadily toward their destination. As always, click to view a larger image.

A French commerce raider flotilla in two squadrons moves to attack the British convoy.


The British pursuit squadron rushes to the rescue of the dirigible convoy.


The convoy sat at the middle of the table, moving toward the northeast edge. A French flotilla entered sight from the northwest, rushing to intercept the poorly protected convoy. And the British squadron that had hared off after the earlier attackers makes best speed in line astern from the southeast, trying to rejoin their charges. This sets the stage for the game; the remaining British ships are hidden on the table, waiting for the right moment to descend and attack.
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Battle of Henderson Road game report

Saturday we playtested one of my games for Bayou Wars this year.  The Battle of Henderson Road is an engagement in the ongoing rebellion of the Tau Ceti colony against the Solar Alliance.  We used “Fast and Dirty Scifi Skirmish”, a free set of rules that works quite well for small actions. As is typical for us, I changed certain parts of the rules up pretty heavily to simplify and streamline play.  I’ll go into detail about those changes over on my blog soon.

The Earth Force Marines were tasked with occupying a small town along Henderson Road and securing access to the Culver’s Gorge bridge to the northeast.  The Ceti Guard, a planetary defense force armed with second-rate equipment, are to stop this at any cost.  Both sides need the bridge intact, as it provides the only means of crossing the gorge for miles in either direction.

(photo by Jim Pitts)

A platoon of Ceti Guard “Centurion” tanks, with a “Scorpion” scout tank and “Swingfire” ATGM carrier advance through some scattered woods north of town.  The town is off-camera to the top, and the road coming from the gorge is off-camera to the right.

(photo by Jim Pitts)

Earth Force “Valiant” tanks advance on the road from the northwest, with a “Type IX” APC flanking them.

(photo by Jim Pitts)

Valiants take position at the intersection (the Gorge is to north) and fire on the Guard tanks among the trees.  Behind them, a Marine heavy laser section sets up in rough ground.

(photo by Jim Pitts)

Ceti Guard tanks taking fire from the Valiant tanks.  One Centurion is stopped temporarily (shown by the token on the turret), and a “Saracen” IFV in the background has been destroyed (shown by the cotton “smoke”).  In FaD, a unit that is fired at is automatically marked as “Under Fire”, which will affect how they move and shoot on their next activation.

(photo by Bill Hamilton)

Saracens carrying the Ceti Guard’s weapons and command squads move up to the shuttle landing pad near town and engage 1st Squad in the woods.  The Saracen on the left has taken fire and been incapacitated; it will have a chance to get back into the action on its activation.

(photo by Bill Hamilton)

The Marines’ command squad abandon their APC as it is destroyed by a Ceti Guard squad’s RPG gunner off camera.

(photo by Jim Pitts)

The Scorpion scout tank is destroyed by the Valiants, before it gets a chance to fire.

(photo by Jim Pitts)

Valiants take return fire from the Centurions, destroying one of them.

(photo by Bill Hamilton)

The Marine command squad hunkers down near their stricken APC, while 1st Squad’s Type IX moves to closely engage a Saracen.  Beyond, the Marines’ 1st Squad engages another Saracen.

(photo by Jim Pitts)

A Ceti Guard squad rushes a Marine squad in the woods, and drives them out.

(photo by Jim Pitts)

A Centurion rushes forward to engage the Earth Force Valiant tanks at close range, and knocks one temporarily out of action.  When a Type IX tries the same trick, the Centurion turns it back on his attacker, knocking the APC out permanently.

(photo by Jim Pitts)

The Ceti Guard weapons squad opens fire on Marines in the woods.

(photo by Jim Pitts)

A lone Ceti Guard leutenant is assaulted by two Earth Force marines.  He shoots at them as they advance (5 + Veteran = 2 hits), and guns both of them down. (weapon damage 5, each rolled a 2 + 2 for heavy armor = 2 failed saves)

(photo by Jim Pitts)

Ceti Guard 2nd Squad’s Saracen is hit by a marine RPG, destroying it.  The squad abandons the vehicle, but takes several casualties.

(photo by Jim Pitts)

A Valiant pushes into point blank range to get a rear shot on a Centurion, destroying it.

We called the game shortly after this; it was a close-fought battle, but the Marines inflicted more casualties on the Guard than they received.  The Ceti Guard players decided they wouldn’t be able to overcome the Marines’ developing advantage with the losses they had suffered so far.  The scenario and objectives felt pretty good to us (at least according to the old adage that it’s fair if everyone is complaining).  I need to tinker with my modifications a bit, but it’s all fairly minor things to smooth out play.  Nothing felt broken, which is always good.

As for what’s on the table, all the Ceti Guard vehicles and the hovertrucks scattered around the town are by Combat Wombat Miniatures.  The Earth Force vehicles and grey buildings are by Ground Zero Games.  Infantry figures are Rebel Minis Earth Force Marines and Modern US Infantry.  The large shuttle and landing pad are paper models by Ebbles Miniatures (no longer available, though some of his models are available on WorldWorksGames).