Sunday, April 22, 2007

Hero's Gambit 2006: Sunday Afternoon

Hero's Gambit 2006 Game Reports

Part VI: Sunday Afternoon

The last one.

Sunday afternoon was another Savage Worlds skirmish this time set in Vietnam (Tour of Darkness). For this game we had many of the usual suspects; the Jeffs, John Burt, Darrin, and a new player named Lloyd.

The Jeffs and Darrin, regular players in my Tour of Darkness campaign were probably mightily tired of seeing the same damn village as they have been secretly helping me play-test the scenario for the convention with minor changes each time for some weeks beforehand. (There will be more variety in future games, lads, hang in there! ...wait until I get the NVA painted up!) The Jeffs, Darrin, and Lloyd each had a wildcard squad leader and two fire teams of extras, John played the platoon commander.

Jeff P. took his regular (though somewhat reduced by previous action) Weapons Squad commanded by Sgt. Ronald Hicks, a jovial but clueless gambling addict. Darrin played Sgt. Dane Lyles, the alcoholic commander of Third Squad. Jeff C. played SSgt. Wallace Owen McDaniel, a stubborn, hard-ass, korean vet and the meanest, ugliest mother f@*ker the poor saps under him ever met. McDaniel is the Platoon Sergeant but lacking regular players he usually commands the platoon as well as personally leading second squad. However having two new players today I gave Lloyd Sgt. Edward Graham, the nominal, though rarely present commander of Second Squad, and John played Lt. Nathan R. Johnson the Platoon commander. Johnson is a west-pointer and formerly a star quarterback and so he has an annoying habit of using football analogies when trying to explain anything. McDaniels was thus relegated to his official role of second in command and lead first squad into battle today - which is nominally commanded by another occasional player that was busy playing in the Flames of War tournament.

So I mentioned that I had stayed up past 2AM marshaling troops and writing out unit cards for this game. I was really REwriting out unit cards for all my "bad guys" as the ones I had were rather beat up and scribbled on and I wanted everything to be clean and organized looking and this was a demo at a convention. Appearance is everything, right? Well after handing out the unit cards to the players I wanted to get mine ready, though out of sight and hidden in the box with all the figures I would be controlling, so they would have no idea what they were to be facing. I searched through everything; the figure box, the terrain box, every book I had with me. Twice. Three times. No such luck...I forgot them ALL at home. At that point I seriously just about cried. So after apologizing to the players I hastily scribbled out the necessary info onto some scrap pieces of paper. So much for neat and tidy appearances....

The Platoon is the blue team (aero-rifle platoon) of X-ray troop, 1/8th Cavalry, First Cavalry Division (Airmoble). It is the spring of 1966 and the Division in the middle of Operation Masher/White Wing in Bong Son Province of the Republic of Viet Nam. I briefed John of the situation and then let him formulate his plan and brief his subordinates. The situation was a White team (scout/observation helicopters) of their troop flew over the village earlier in the morning and thought something looked suspicious. Not much activity on the ground for a village of it's size. So the Blue Team was to be send in to sniff things our supported but the Red Team's gunships. The village was surrounded by mountain and jungle to the south and west and rice paddies to the north and east.

(remember: click on the pictures for a bigger version)

Happy players for Tour of Darkness and the General Layout of the table. From left to right; Lloyd, Jeff P., John, and Darrin. I supplied the boonie hats and wore one myself. While I was in Calgary for Fallcon I stood in Crown Surplus for some time pondering a reproduction NVA Pith Helmet but eventually decided that $65 was a bit much for a fiberglass reproduction.

John had his slicks land the troops in a large semicircle in the rice paddies to the north and east of the village. The troops then converged on the village from the two sides. As my initial (hostile) units were hidden and on hold I just told them all to do double moves (moving twice as far as they normally would) until I thought they were close to where I would start firing on them. After each of their moves I moved the villagers that were scattered about the village. They quickly ran into their houses as the Americans approached. They did two such moves and then I dealt them in as McDaniels and First Squad were entering the village in the south east corner very close to where one of the teams of VC local militia were waiting in ambush.

That's Jeff C. on the right. This is just at the beginning of the game. The people in the town are villagers heading for their huts. Most of the Americans are still in the rice paddies.

When one of First Squad's fire team's card came up they ran into the village intending to go prone between two huts. As they were running right through the killing zone of the local VC militia I decided to interupt. I won the opposed agility test and so squeezed off a couple shots from their bolt-action rifles at the cavalry troopers but missed. The fire team carried on to their intended position and went prone.

Members of the First Squad enter the village.

Throughout the turn I revealed the other two teams; another local VC militia and a support team of Main force VC, shooting at Americans that blundered into my sights.

A B-40 rocket missed wildly and when whistling over head and blew up in the rice paddy. An RPK opened up and sent a volley of bullets down to the far end of the village where Lyles team of FNG's were standing out in the open. Some of the Main Force VC took down two members of First Squad. But the Americans were giving better than they got.

Second Squad advances towards the village.

Some of Second Squad had entered a building full of villagers, as did Sgt. Lyles, and the other fire team of First squad. I had been dealing in the villagers and one turn they pulled two jokers... well.... now was as good as any to get rid of the white devils that were ruining their country. The villagers in building with part of Second Squad and the one with Sgt. Lyles ATTACKED!

Bennies saved Lyles’ ass and even numbers and body armour saved Second Squad. One of the VC near the hut where Second Squad was being attacked rushed in to help their fellow villagers.

One of the troops of the First Squad fire team also occupying a hut with villagers detailed one of it's members to keep an eye on their fellow occupants.

The villagers and VC were quickly overpowered and taken out of action. A little TOO quickly! I had intended that a couple of them would be still in the bushes when the second wave showed up. The Americans would see a burst of flames off in the jungle "like a flame thrower". The remaining VC would burst out of the jungle running like madmen. If the Americans didn't just gun them all down the VC would run up to them and beg the Americans to save them...

Well there was no opportunity for such dramatics so the Fire Lizards and Cham Zombies burst out of the Jungle unannounced. A couple of the zombies stopped to feed on downed Americans and VC the rest swarmed through the village.

One of the Fire Lizards belched fire in the window of a hut now occupied by McDaniels and the remaining two members of the first fire team to enter the village. McDaniels successfully leapt out a window but the other two remained. By pure luck (and bad dice rolling on my part) they both survived though one was shaken.

The Zombies and Fire Lizards enter the village.

A Vietnamese Sorcerer was also with the group successfully cast a puppet spell on one of the two Americans in the hut previously occupied by McDaniels. Later on their action card the one trooper fired off a point blank burst at the other MISSING! Lucky for the players; it just wasn't my day for dice rolling.

More of the Zombies and Fire Lizards in the Village.

McDaniels fighting a Fire Lizard.

Most of the Zombies and fire Lizards were quickly taken care of and I had to wrap the game up rather quickly as it became too distracting and impossible to carry on with people taking down tables all around us and noisily dropping them and clanking chairs onto their respective piles. There was nearly 40 minutes to go in the time slot but over enthusiastic volunteers were unconcerned with such things.

The figures I used were a mix from a wide variety of manufacturers. The Americans were mostly West Wind with a few Assault Group. I like the Assault Group figures, they're much nicer and more accurate, but the West Wind ones can't be beat for price! It's a nice quick way to get a full platoon on the table. The VC were a mix of West Wind, Assault Group and ... uh... I can't remember the name of the other maker... out of England... they make Vietnam and Zulu war stuff... for some reason I think Corps or Team might be in their name... whatever. The Zombies are a mix of West Wind, Coppelstone, and Reaper. The Fire Lizards are Reaper Basilisks. The buildings were scratch built out of 1/8" MDF and various widths and shapes of pasta.

I had a cold all weekend and started the convention with a sore throat. Each evening after having to shout to be heard for hours in the noisy auditorium I could barely speak. Two or three days later I was still having a bit of trouble speaking and my ears were still ringing from all the noise.... but DANG it was a good time!

Hope to see more of you come out next year!

Cheers everyone and thanks again to all that participated!

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