I attended Enfilade over the Memorial Day weekend. It was my 24th Enfilade. I haven’t missed one yet, and I’ve had organizing responsibilities in almost all of them. Last year I announced my retirement from the Enfilade committee and all other leadership responsibilities for NHMGS. It was a carefully considered decision, and the right one for me. There was no animosity or rancor in my decision, and I’ve moved on.
It was a very good convention and I think the organizers did quite well. It seemed to me there were few glitches and almost all of them were beyond their control. If I have one suggestion it would be to try to problem solve the event sign-up dilemma. I know and understand all the problems associated with pre-registering for events, but the long 45-minute lines must be addressed. They’ve done a great job of promoting pre-registration electronically for the convention, and now it’s time to put equal or greater promotion into pre-registering for events. It’s complicated and I get that, but this seems to me a must-do, especially as attendance hovers around the 350 mark and the lines snake through the convention hall.
Each convention is different, and this one certainly was for me. I had to work on Friday. That’s unusual for the day of the convention and it presented a number of problems I clearly foresaw. It meant leaving at school about 2:30 and driving to Olympia and arriving in time to host my 7:00 event. if you are a stranger to Washington geography, that’s about a 60-70 minute drive under normal circumstances. Unfortunately Memorial Day weekend is far from normal. It is the beginning of the camping season, and as the weather moderates any long weekend is a good excuse for camping. The roads were a mess and instead of arriving at the hotel 3:30-4:00ish, it took an extra hour. I had piles of stuff to haul in for my game, so by the time I checked in, set up my game, and caught my breath, it was game time. Something to consider for the future.
Friday night I ran my raid on Agen scenario. It was a Lion Rampant game with seven players who had not played the rules before. All had purchased copies of the rules and were genuinely interested in learning them to see if they liked them, which meant they were motivated to work through them. That made life a lot easier for me. After a somewhat slow start, they were doing things pretty much on their own. The story of the scenario is something like this: three English retinues arrive outside the village of Agen, defended by a dilapidated castle. This is a chevauchee, meaning the English are there to loot and burn the village and carry off their goodies. The French arrived with a three retinue relieving force-something frequently unusual for a chevauchee-and their job is to prevent the English from achieving their goals. The last retinue was a smattering of serfs, whose job it is to offer token resistance, but most of all survive. The French were able to inflict some damage to the English, but the invaders were pretty efficient, looting and burning many of the various buildings on the table. But, the big winners were the serfs, who by staying away from trouble, managed to score 105 points edging out the English who amassed 104. Most importantly, the players seemed to enjoy themselves,and especially the rules. They were running the game themselves by the end of things.
Saturday morning I made time to actually play a game. I have long been interested in Galactic Knights, the space epic using ships originally made by Superior Models. I own some of the ships and the rules, but only walked through a kind of quickie scenario with Dave Schueler. The Saturday game was hosted by Scott Williams and Joe Grassman and was loosely based on the WWII Battle of Midway. I commanded the Terran star bombers, which are the rough equivalent of the Ameriacn TBD torpedo bombers slaughtered by the Japanese. In GK they have the virtue of being faster than the Devastator death traps. I loved the scenario and learned a lot about the rules. I was able to be sneaky and sly, took advantage of the rules and administered the coup de gras to two thirds of the Avarian capital ships–following the advice of my colleagues. The game inspired me to work on my collection of GK stuff-in fact I’m writing this during a break from them.
The Saturday mid-day period was all about judging games for the period’s “Best of Show” award. Often that falls to one person, but the convention organizers did a super job of mobilizing three judges for each period. That’s way better than I was able to do. I actually hope to continue aiding in this because it is great fun. The best part of serving in that role is the ability to circulate and see all the games during the period. I actually got around to see each game three times and there were some wonderful ones. While the 28mm Waterloo game raged on in the corner, John McEwan hosted an amazing undersea submarine game. Max Vekich and Ed Texeira ran a very interesting hypothetical 28mm WWII Japanese invasion of Washington game I was very intrigued with. Special guest Howard Whitehouse had a very interesting Vinlander/skraeling semi RPG with miniatures game that was very cool. But the winner was FireForce Rhodesia ’76. This was a great looking and playing game in which the miniatures and terrain all seemed to work well. Damond Crump, Bruce Smith and Lawrence Bateman were the big winners in that period.
Saturday evening was my big game, Smoked Bolougne. It was another Lion Rampant game with space for eight players. It was a mixed group of LR veterans and noobs. The game featured an attack on Bolougne’s port at either end by a picked English force. The goal of the English is to destroy key buildings in the town and destroy the French ships at anchor. The English got off to a roaring start, using their flaming arrows to set fire to their targets. The waterfront was quite ablaze, but the invaders were soon bogged down by French reinforcements and poor activation rolls. In the end they were able to achieve what the English did historically–destruction of their targets, but their forces were also destroyed.
During Sunday’s final period Dave Schueler and I hosted the Raid on St. Nazaire. I got some credit for helping, but honestly this was Dave at his finest. Based on the raid on the French port city on the Loire River that also contained the Normandie dry dock, this was going to be a tricky show. We’d walked and talked through the way the scenario would be played, but hadn’t had a real playtest. We’d done that on other scenarios, but this was complex in the sense that the six British players had to move their 13 motor launches plus five escorts through German gunfire, land their load of commandos, and destroy important features in the the port area before re-embarking for home. Overall the game went well. The Brits suffered two losses and several vessels damaged while engaging the port defenses. They did get some commandos ashore, damaging the one of the winding houses and the pump house for the dry dock. But it was concluded that, like Bolougne, it was a pretty historical result. Serious damage to the dry dock meant the Tripitz would have to find a new address, but the British attackers were pretty much trapped and would likely be killed or captured.
The good news is that the powers that be thought enough of our game to consider ti the best of show for the Sunday game period. It also won the best game for the year’s theme, raids. It was the perfect finish for the weekend.