Thursday, July 28, 2022

Summer of Gaming, Part 2

Living History

I created this camp because Kansas City has a lot of great military history. The camp features a trip to an American Civil War (ACW) and the WWI memorial museums, with wargaming sandwiched in between.

This year, I focused on the Battle of Westport (Brush Creek) from the ACW and we always end our week with WWI aerial combat. If you haven't been to the Battle of Westport museum, it's a nice visit. The Docents really know their stuff and they'll tailor their presentation to your needs.

For those not familiar with the Battle of Westport, it was the largest ACW battle west of the Mississippi and spelled the formal end of Confederate presence in Missouri.

The campers enjoyed the museum visit and were excited to wargame the battle. I used Junior General rules, but created the scenario myself. Ironically, history did not repeat itself, as Union infantry forces were eliminated by the Confederates. However, Union artillery chose not to retreat and used grapeshot to devastating effect. At the end of the day, it was acknowledged that the artillery would have withdrawn and the Rebs would have won the day.

The forces around Brush Creek

The Rebs thwart the Yanks from crossing the creek

The following day, we journeyed to the WWI memorial and museum. Always a great time. Always informative. Always shocking how similar conditions were then when compared to now.

The final day was WWI dogfighting. I made my own planes and map, as I'm too cheap to spring for the "real" toys. Again, I used Junior General rules, but added a lot of pilot information to the pilot cards. 

The opening pass, guns blazing!

The Flying Circus in the house!

A great camp! Next year, I want to try to head to the Battle of Lone Jack museum and fight that fight.

Strategic Gaming

I ran this camp twice this summer. Every time I run it, it's different. I give the kids free choice as to what we play. This year, Pirate Dice and Stratego were the big winners. 

Having said that, I made a point of exposing the kids to an upcoming game, Dice Legions. This little gem of a game will be released by Modiphius Games later this year. Until then, a special edition was released to earn money for "frontline aid efforts" in Ukraine. I can get behind that.

For those not familiar with the game, here's the official blurb:

Dice Legions is a fantasy style tabletop top battle game, where vast armies of every day gaming dice, are transformed by its lightning fast rule set, into vast legions of fantasy battle units. Dice Legions is designed by Australian writer and game designer Adam L Dobbyns and published by UK based Modiphius Entertainment. The game is part of the “dice as models” genre of hobby play whereby brightly coloured everyday dice from 4 sided, right up to 20 sided dice, are used to represent various combative game Units, in both solo and oppositional play.

I can't wait for the full game's release! I've included pics of the four maps I made for the game. Most are 1v1, but the largest (A Bridge Too Far) accommodates 2v2. The actual game features terrain cards that you can put on literally any flat surface, so your games fit your needs.

A Bridge Too Far

The Crossroads

Swamp of Death

You Shall Not Pass!

Summer of Gaming, Part 1

While I haven't posted in a bit, I have been active. Summer, for me, is working at a private school's summer program. I "teach" classes such as Strategic Gaming, Toy Soldiers, Mythology, NERF Wars, and other fun camps. I use wargaming and gaming in general in most of my camps. None of these are part of my "regular" gaming, so I plan on breaking down what I did over a couple posts.

Toy Soldiers

I have three sections of Toy Soldiers: Medieval, WWII, and Sci-Fi. 


Medieval battle rules came from Junior General. If you haven't perused that site, do yourself a favor. I selected the battles of Agincourt and Towton. The kids enjoyed the experience and I listened to them compare strategies outside of the actual battles. Win!

We also had a jousting tournament. I used Thomas Foss's Breaking Lances rules (unpublished as of yet). It's a quick, fun set of rules that really capture the essence of the joust and grand melee. Foss's web presence is found at From there you can link to his store and FB pages. 

To make the jousts and battles more memorable, we discussed heraldry, livery, and what the symbols meant. I had the kids create their own heraldic devices. While not totally accurate, they liked making their "shields". I used the very easy and convenient site CoaMaker to convert their ideas into functioning devices. Seeing their designs on the knights as they jousted really made it fun for the boys. It also stymied the almost inevitable "He's got my knight!" arguments.


This one was trickier. I decided early on to use skirmish rules, as 54mm toy soldiers don't lend themselves to mass actions in this theater. I finally decided on Wiley Games Fistful of Lead (FoL) rules. Simple, but with enough "meat" to make it memorable and fun.

What I didn't anticipate was the most obvious obstacle: my campers' ages. 2nd to 6th grade, to be exact. The kids "got" the rules easily enough. What the younger ones didn't have was a long enough attention span. The campers that did had a great time. The ones that didn't wound up playing other games. I also had 16 campers, so it was difficult to keep them entertained. Live and learn.  The last pics of urban combats were separated into 4v4 engagements. It was much easier to manage than a full-blown 8v8!

The scenario was Western front, American GIs vs German Wehrmahct. Painting the figs was daunting due to sheer numbers, but fortunately, 54mm figs take paint easily.

A ruined farmhouse became the battlefront for three days!

Another angle of the battlefield

Urban combat #1

Urban combat #2


Same rules, half the kids. Same issues with youngsters not maintaining attention. I made this one more interactive for the players, in that they got to decide location, naming rights, etc.

The plot: Planet J34456, or "Jasper", was discovered to have rich deposits of Barstownium in a series of caverns and tunnels. Barstownium is used to power spaceship engines, so is valuable to Human expansion. 

Two companies, Lanayru Corporation and Temptania Labs, laid claim to the planet. Stopping short of waging war for the rights, they settled for splitting the planet in half, figuratively speaking. This is the setting in which the campers found themselves. 

Having learned that scenarios overstay their welcome quickly with youngsters, I told the boys that there would be four, linked scenarios for the week. 

The first took place on the perimeter of the shared border between the two companies. Border guards lazily eyed each other from built-up areas, as they had done for nearly six months. The land was barren, desolate, and boring, as terraforming efforts hadn't reached that far. The only cover were rock formations and hardy native scrub plants. 

Suddenly earpieces crackled with reports of an attack inside Lanayru space! Reports were minimal, but casualties were being taken. Attack!

Lanayru forces

Temptanian forces

I see you...

Eventually, Lanayru forces took too many casualties and were forced to retreat. Temptanian forces seized the opportunity and pushed into their rival's zone. 

Day 2 found Lanayru having set up a hasty defense outside a facility. Temptanian forces needed to force their way past the hill before reinforcements from the facility arrived.

Lanayru, set up

Temptania, on the attack


Perfect kill spot

Just as the two groups are really going at it, an alert sounds from the compound! The attackers aren't human, they're "bugs"! Cease hostilities and band together - or die!

The two groups do just that and kill the few "skitters" that had escaped the compound - but not before the sniper had his head removed by a sneak attack!

Day 3: Enter the compound and retrieve the bug research.

Banding together, the companies were tasked with finding the data Lanayru had compiled regarding the "bugs". evidently, mining and terraforming operations had awakened the indigenous apex species on the planet - and now they wanted to feast and breed. The data would go a long way toward understanding the threat, both to humans and the corporate bottom lines.

Bug factory

For more (and better) pics, go to The Penny Whistle on FB. Thanks, Ken!

Day 4: Get to the LZ!

Having acquired the data, it was now time to get to the LZ and off planet! I warned the kids that this one would be brutal, and it was. I switched the rules to a variant of the old Leading Edge Games Aliens rules. They simpler than FoL, but are proven to work very well. 

The kids wanted to "turtle" and take their time, but this was simply a "run and gun" mission. Nobody lived. The companies will have to figure out a way to manage this "issue". 


There goes the pilot!

Last man standing

The co-pilot, after the pilot was dragged into the jungle by a skitter, wisely chose to hole up in the landing craft. Once radio contact with the withdrawing force was lost, he dusted off and swore he'd never return...

All in all, the kids loved the camp. Another win!

Friday, April 1, 2022

March to Victory 2022

March to Victory

March to Victory (MtV) is a brand-new convention in the KS metro. Put on by Jaye and Robin Wiley (Wiley Games), MtV was started to bring convention gaming back to the metro in the absence of Recruits.

A little over a hundred players joined in the fun and there were some absolutely gorgeous tables throughout the weekend. I, stupidly, didn't take any pictures of said games, but there are plenty of places, namely on FB, where you can see pics of the fun.

What I did do was sell some games and gaming-related stuff to convention goers. That's my main excuse for not taking pictures and I'm sticking to it. I also had the chance to converse with several people I've missed since the start of the pandemic, so it was a great weekend.

Thrilling Tales

I offered my emerging pulp rules, Thrilling Tales, to be played Saturday night. I had a full table of five players, so all the factions of my scenario were represented. Kingpin (Wilson Fisk) and his ne'er-do-wells, Falcone and his mob, Lobster Johnson and the heat, and the Upton gang.

I rehashed the plot I've been using to playtest these rules. Fick has a McGuffin in a box, loaded on a truck at the docks. He has to get said box through the gates to win. Standing in his way? Falcone, the cops, and the Uptons. Falcone's goons will shoot at anyone. The cops are focused on the gangs, and the Uptons, while not against the fuzz, aren't for anyone.

The docks, aerial view

I've been working on the vehicle rules for this game. I thought I had them hashed out, but the night's activities proved me wrong. I also made the rookie mistake of telling the players that they could drive vehicles without them asking first. Yes, there were a lot of collisions. Still, this gave me the opportunity to realize weaknesses in the rules and ideas on how to fix them.

The game started with everyone closing in on Fisk and the box. Unfortunately, Fisk's crew got initiative very late the first couple rounds, so he was unable to really get started early. 

Falcone and henchmen

All four factions promptly jumped in vehicles and tried to start the engines. Upton's crew comically failed for a few turns. the police started half their vehicles. Falcone's crew were successful and started moving immediately. They and the Upton clan disposed of Scourge, Fisk's bodyguard/SMG-wielding killer, in a hail of bullets. Fisk's dock workers got the delivery truck rolling toward the gates, but their late start meant that the other factions were lying in wait. Fisk hopped into his car and tried to act as a rolling shield from the upcoming violence. 

Fisk's crew loading the McGuffin

Both the truck and Fisk's car were riddled with bullets. The truck eventually was shot enough to knock it out of action. It was then rammed by Falcone's crew, knocking it into a building. Fisk, seeing that his "mysterious object" was not going to leave the docks and his hirelings dead, fled. Captain Long, also deciding that he didn't get paid enough to die, hightailed it back to his boat.

Falcone's gang take position

Meanwhile, Lobster Johnson and the police worked their way toward the ruckus. Lobster picked off a couple of Falcone's thugs with expert, long-distance pistol fire. Lt. Gorman and Howard tried to block off the dock's exit. They were fairly successful, but eventually they ran across the Marconi brothers, Sid and Sal. Lt. Howard was shot repeatedly in the head and face as he attempted to run over Sal. The upholstery was utterly ruined.

The Uptons showed that they absolutely did not care who they attacked. Initially starting with Fisk's men, they moved on to Falcone's and, eventually, Fireman O'Leary hacked the feet off an officer that was attempting to climb onto a roof with his trusty fire axe. He in turn was killed by another officer that arrived on the scene of the heinous crime. Sir Reginald and Jimmy died in a a hail of gunfire when tangling with the Falcones. 

Falcone got in on the action, too. He ordered his men to attack both Fisk and the Uptons and his Marconi twins died fighting the cops. He decided it was too hot at the docks and faded into the night.

Sir Reginald showing he can be spry at his advanced age

Jimmy Upton, moments before his death

In the end, the Falcone, Fisk, and Captain Long escaped. Fisk's dock workers and Scourge were dead. The Maroni brothers and Falcone's thugs were dead. All of the Uptons were dead. Two police officers and Detective Howard were dead. 

It was that sort of game. There were an inordinate number of natural 20s rolled, meaning that characters were one-shot in horrific ways. Still, pretty much everyone had a blast and several cinematic moments were had. 

I definitely need to tweak the vehicle rules to accommodate collisions and some other areas. I look forward to the challenge!