Like I had mentioned in the past posting, Kalissa and I got to Historicon a little early. One of the first things we did after talking to some various friends was to look at the gaming chart and look were we were going to really be. As luck would have it, we were to have the same table all convention long with no one else using it. So we naturally set up. It was perfect, since we did not have to fight any of the crowd and we could get maximum expose to the crowds. We had come armed with signs this time in hopes that I would not have to speak so much. This did reduce the amount of repetitive conversations about the game. The other purpose was for education of the battle. There were a lot of people who did not know about the Canadians' involvement in Operation Husky. This was really very cool, because I did feel like I did the veterans of the battle justice. We had a sign for our miniature company supporters, the description of the game and it's time, and a tri-fold board that had pictures and fact on them. Below was what the tri-fold board had on it. This was the scenario.
First German Encounter for the Canadians
On the morning of July 15th, 1943, loud cracks from German 8.8cm Flak guns hammer down at the men and tanks of the 1st Canadian Army. It was an ambush set up by the Hermann Goering Flak Regiment in the seventeenth century built town of Grammichele, Sicily. Up on a mile long ridge with a view commanding the southern approaches with a nearly unobstructed view of the countryside, the Germans were surprised to see the Canadians rolling up Highway 124 in full single line, two mile long column. Instead of waiting for the Canadians to venture into town to ambush in close quarters, a German gun crew open up on the stopped Allied Division. The Canadians, Infantry of the Hasting Prince Edward Regiment and Tanks of The Three Rivers Regiment, were halted on the highway by a crater the Germans made to slow the Allied progress. The Germans were fighting a series of rearguarding actions to set up better defensive lines on the Catania Plain.
After the Recce of the Three Rivers Regiment and the Hasty Pee's B Company entered the town, Lt.-Col. Tweedsmuir, commanding the Hasting Prince Edward Regiment, ordered for the crater to be filled. The first shots were fired, quickly destroying a Sherman tank. Machine guns and mortars rained down on the Canadian position causing the infantry to dismount off the tanks and take cover in the ditch. The Germans did not expect for the Canadians to react so well with this being their first battle. The Canadians went into action splitting their forces into a classic pincer move with the support of Bishop Self-propelled guns. After three hours of fighting, the Germans realized they were in danger of being surrounded and decided to withdraw at noon. They left behind a large amount of supplies, three burning tanks, and a number of dead. For the Canadians, they lost a Sherman tank, three Universal Carriers, and suffered 25 casualities.
The game used Bolt Action rules that had simple modifications. For one, we ditched the "Tiger Fear" rule, since the Canadians had not yet seen them in action yet. We also got rid of the "Turret Jam", since it does not make sense and it is hated by nearly everyone. The game played with glass beads in the pull bag instead of the order dice. The reason was to move the game along. I was only running each game for four hours with a six turn limit. The way it worked was that there were two color glass beads in the bag: either German or Canadian. Whatever bead was pulled, that side of players each got to play a unit. It made the game move faster without having long lulls of players sitting there doing nothing. It also did not ruin the integrity of the game system mechanics. The order die would just go behind whatever units. The draw backs were that the "Snap to Attention" rule would sometimes confuse things, as well as, "Ambush" and "Down" orders. I think there were two turns out of the five games where it got a little confusing. Also, the forces were assigned in advance. I found there is less chance for arguing if you don't give the issues a chance.
Since this was an ambush, the player running the 8.8cm Flak guns got to fire two rounds for free before the first turn like a real ambush. Only two vehicles died from this in all five games. The last game, it was the front Dingo that took it in overkill. I even considered bring spare vehicle parts for a vaporized vehicle. The counter to the ambush to represent the fast response time, every unit of the Canadians got a free move! Then, turn one would begin.
Overall, the Canadians technically only won one game, which was the last one. Despite this, everyone had tons of fun. We even had a grandson versus grandfather fight where the younger of the two rammed his Panzer III in a Sherman tank on the road. I was asked if he could, and I told him that I would buy him a Coke if he pulled it off. I ended up forking out the money for him!
All games made it to round five. The first game was not scheduled. I felt I needed to play it instead of just occupying a table all day with no action. The second to the last game, we played a random tank face off round. We ignored all pins and fired to see what would die. Why not? Most of the games had almost the same casualties and losses as the scenario they were playing. Most of the time, it was a German tank short.
These games received a lot of attention. It was heavily photographed by most of the attendees. I won a Pour Encourager Les Autres Award (PELA) on the Thursday game. I was a little shocked, since the players had not yet rolled a die in the game! It just received that much attention! We had all game tickets sell out, as well as, having a waiting list for any openings in the game. I would have added more, but I did not have the forces. Plus, too many people could ruin the game for everyone. I was told that judges wanted to give a PELA to every game I ran. You can only win one in the convention. This is was lead up to the next award I won, which was the "Best in Theme." I was also informed that I was in 2nd place for "Best in Show." A pirate game beat me out. They had a cool table.
Either way, it was another success story! I had met lots of new gamer friends and had repeat players from the last two games I ran in the previous. Even though, I won some awards, I am awarded more by the people who want to play my games. That is what makes running at a convention well worth the effort. Now, I will just have to continue for next year's project! Here were the photos. Enjoy!
|This was an 6' x 18' board. I am standing in the background for scale!|
|The set up for the beginning of each game.|
|There is a crater in front of the railroad tracks on the road that was done by the Germans. This was listed as impassible.|
|Lt.-Col. Tweedsmuir of the Hasty P's.|
|The Canadians were color coded for the player. They are just stickers on the rear of the tank.|
|A side view of the Canadians position before the ambush.|
|The evil 88's!|
|The German's ambush view.|
|The beginning of the town of Grammichele, Sicily.|
|I got these 99 cent rulers to help with the shorter movements to reduce the tape measure fights we all have.|
|The German's using Soviet tactics of Kursk!|