My photos from OwlCon 2019, held at Rice University the weekend of February 22-24.
On Friday night Brent and I ran a giant eight-player game of Osprey's Ronin. We were able to manage the chaos by arranging it to be four two-player games all sharing the same large table full of terrain. Everyone had a great time and Brent and I plan to run a Madame Butterfly themed game of Ronin, for six players, at Texas BROADSIDE! 2019.
Saturday morning John ran a large game of Blood & Plunder. I participated with a 100 point English land force, lost my commander to gun fire early, then fell behind over the center-board objective and couldn't make a Strike Test because I'd lost my commander.
Saturday afternoon and evening saw me playing Daniel's Brigadier General Commands, fighting the Battle for Arnhem. I'd managed to have the entirety of British 1AB table-ready in time for the con and ran the Air Landing Brigade.
Sunday morning Rob ran Cruel Seas, which I'd picked up from Table Top Generals at the con. I really liked the rules and plan to run a game of it at Texas BROADSIDE! 2019. If possible with a 1:350 waterline model of the USS TEXAS on the board too.
Sunday afternoon I played in Rob's Check Your Six! Jet Age game, flying in two battles taken from the Hollywood engagements featured in Top Gun and the Zeros vs F14s scene from Final Countdown.
Great con and great fun. Enjoy the photos.
November 2018 saw us recognize the end of the so-called "War to End All Wars." World War I ended 100 years ago, and as we do every November, we memorialized this with a Wings of Glory slugfest. Held at our new haunt, the aptly named Tea & Victory, we took over the largest table and transported ourselves back to late October/early November 2018.
Leading the Allies in the initial onslaught was none other than the intrepid aviator, Snoopy (no, seriously...Steve Kastensmidt provided a model of Snoopy on a doghouse which flew very similar to a Sopwith Camel). The Jasta of fighters on the German side was a mixed-bag of hastily thrown together pilots striving to protect a bomber on a critical mission. At one point, we had 13 players each controlling a single aircraft jinking about the skies striving to down their opponents. About mid-way thru, we had a mock demonstration of the Navy's Blue Angels when six aircraft where in such close proximity that it took both umpires a few minutes to sort out the maneuvers, all somehow accomplished without a collision! By the end of the evening, around 2200, four aircraft on each side had been shot out of the sky, but with the fighters tangling with one another the bomber made it thru to it's target unscathed.
During the game, we paused to remember the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of soldiers who sacrificed themselves for their nations. A toast was proposed, glasses were raised, comments made...but in the end, the fighting resumed.
Waiting in their troop carriers offshore the Special Marine Assault Force ASL sharpened K-Bars while they planned their attack on the island with the newest intel that they just received on the landing beach. This savage gang of hard-core dice rollers plotted death and destruction to the Japanese occupiers.
The Tea & Victory Galley turned out a great meal for the Marines before they headed in, Fish & Chips, Chicken Tika Masala, Fried Baloney sandwich and beer! Making sure everyone was well fortified with their favorite, after hitting the beach who knows when or where their next hot meal was coming from. Or would this be their last…
Naval bombardment started a little late but hit the Japanese hard, raining those heavy shells down on the island, beaches and hard points, pinning most of their first line of defense. Go Navy big guns!!!
The rough seas, the reef and midshipman Murphy, scrambled the Marine carefully made plans to land on the specific Red Dog beaches to work their way through the strong points in the best approach possible. After the initial confusion of landing in the wrong place, a few mumbled about the typical Navy abilities deliver them in the right place, the Marines poured ashore and across the sand looking for Japanese to kill.
The Marines move and shoot kept the Japanese pinned in their hard points and Bunkers as they moved forward up the beach. All the time pouring fire, as if on the training grounds, into the numerous bunkers, trenches and emplacements the Japanese had laid out as they crossed the open ground.
Before the first LVT could get off the beach, with a squad of Marine hunkered down inside, the 47mm antitank gun found range and sliced into the full vehicle. The Marines learned while armored these things aren’t tanks! This knocked out the LVT, but wasn’t powerful enough to impact the passengers. The Marines were forced to disembark onto the open sand, but didn’t take too many casualties.
The Army Air Corp seemed to be more interested in hunting for Zeros or keeping Kamikazes away from the fleet. Every time it took repeated calls from the AO to dial in an attack on one of the Japanese strong-points. Next time bring a Marine or Navy AO who could get a more immediate response for the guys taking the fire…
There were stories, one of those myths that seem to be formed in battle, of a sailor from Colorado who had joined up with the Japanese defenders. If he existed his body was never found, maybe he just sailed away, continuing his journey elsewhere.
Those pesky Japanese kept popping up in the rear and from the sides where the Marine had thought they had cleared everything out. To add injury to insult the FO’s called in artillery bombardment that fell short of the bunker and onto the Marines preparing to assault it. So much for a little help from the Destroyers offshore, the marines were going to have to do this themselves! Shortly they stormed the bunker and cleared out the remaining defenders, silencing the machine-gun for good.
The second LVT turn the corner hosing down a strong-point with a hail of MMG fire but at a cost of having track blown off by the AT gun with before the Marines were able to storm the next line of defense bunker and taking out the pesky gun.
The Japanese snipers began to take their toll as the Marines advanced deeper, pushing to clear out all of the bunkers and stay on their timeline. The squad NCO were targeted by the dastardly sneaky devils! But this did not stop or slow down those hard fighting Marines, fortified with another round of beers that somehow made it ashore. Those Marines are very ingenious in this way, maybe it is how they got that special assault force title, ASL, Always Serving Libations! There were also sightings of some Marines eating a strange rice cake snack that either they had scavenged from an overrun bunker or sneaked from the Tea & Victory galley. One wonders if the Marine unit was raised by emptying a jail or prison somewhere…
True to form the Japanese launched several Banzai attacks as the Marines moved inland. However, they learned charging into smoke cloud against flamethrowers doesn’t end well. The Marines really didn’t need to aim and just let the charging Japanese run into a wall of flames. When the smoke cleared only the Marines were left standing and not smoldering. But when the smoke cleared those snipers zeroed in on the flame boys to even the score…
A crazed Japanese soldier with an antitank mined strapped to the end of a bamboo pole came charging across the scrub towards the demobilized LVT only to be cut to ribbons short of his target. These fanatic Japanese soldiers just don’t seem to care if they live, only looking to die for the Emperor! Or was it the sake’?
The Marines approached the final cave complex, their finial objective. They had taken casualties and had to leave men behind to guard against the damn Japanese that had a habit of popping up in the rear. Moving up the slope they were caught in vicious crossfire from the final line of defense and cut up with LMG and MMG fire seeming to come right out of the mountain its self.
All the time as the Marines were advancing the AO was frantically call in air support to give them cover or at least make the Japanese keep their heads down so the squad could get close enough to assault the caves. As before it took several calls before the fly-boys finally showed up and in the final act of the offensive was only able to blast away at the rock face. When the dust settled the machine guns nests were still there pouring fire out of their holes and crevasse down the slope at the Marines. Keeping them just short of their objective for Day 1, as it became too dark to continue the advance…
It was a long battle, hard fought with camaraderie holding both sides together and the beer was good! Stay tuned, next time the Marines with some armor support will move inland to clear the island of Japanese defenders in round two of island hopping!
Battlegroup has been our go-to rule system for 2018, replacing Flames of War and Bolt Action as our platoon to company level WWII game, having scheduled it for multiple game nights. We'll play it one final time in December, but in September Rob hosted another scenario from the Market-Garden campaign book.
Rob contributed the following after-action to go with our photos below.
We had a large crowd for the September Beer & Pretzel Game Night. In honor of the 74th anniversary of Operation Market Garden this month I ran Battlegroup WWII rules and a scenario from the Market Garden Campaign of the 2nd South Staffordshire Para Glider Regiment fighting through the western suburbs of Arnhem trying to reach the bridge on September 19, 1944. Opposing them were recently arrived 10th SS troops led by Maj Sepp Kraftt.
Some players knew the BG system so we divided them up and got straight into the action. The SS pushed west along the north side of the Utrechtsweg road, with one squad on the south side. The British evenly divided their platoon occupying buildings north (houses) and south (museum) of the road and waited for the German advance.
The player soon learned the value of pinning as the Para light mortar team and rifle squad started to score against the German rifle squad and MG team advancing in the south toward the museum. We made one small error here and were treating the rifle + MG team as one unit but soon fixed that after the first pin and morale test.
The AAA fire into the rear houses and the British 6pdr gun offboard both seemed to invoke more caution than actual results. The StuGs hung back and were not inclined to cross into the LOS of the British ATG. Instead, we all learned the ‘shooting at buildings’ rule as the StuGs consumed their HE rounds shooting into the houses on the north side of the street. One structure took 2 of the 3 possible structural damage points but was able to out-last the German HE ammo supply. The British teams inside vacated regardless due to the implied threat. The museum was assaulted once by a German rifle squad from the reinforcing platoon but was repelled. After both PIAT teams were knocked out by a very well placed German MG-34 team on the NE corner house from the museum, a very brave Para rifle team attempted to assault a StuG with anti-tank grenades but was not successful. German mortar strikes inflicted a few casualties and we applied a building damage opportunity when the mortar bombs struck a house.
I actually cannot remember which side hit their battle rating first, but it was close [I believe the Germans hit their battle rating first, giving the British the win. - ed.]. The players all enjoyed learning the rules better, I don’t think we made any major mistakes after the first small error w/ a rifle team and MG team. I enjoyed getting my Dutch terrain out and seeing the small soldiers do what they do best, bring enjoyment to our gang of players and honoring the many soldiers and civilians who were lost fighting in Arnhem 74 years ago.
We met at Tea + Victory on August 2nd where we tried out the What a Tanker! rules from Too Fat Lardies. William offered to host, originally using his 28mm tanks, but the sheer number of attendees (11, one of our highest turnouts in years) overwhelmed his ability to use his 28mm toys. In best Houston Beer and Pretzel Wargaming tradition, Rob volunteered the use of his available 15mm Western Desert themed tanks and we were off to the proverbial races.
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