Enfilade 2015: the hits just keep coming.

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.

Picture of St. Nazaire set up courtesy of Rod Fleck. I'm the goof in the green Jaguars wind shirt.

Picture of St. Nazaire set up courtesy of Rod Fleck. I’m the goof in the green Jaguars wind shirt.

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.

Enfilade around the corner: My mad dash to the finish line.

Though I may not have written much recently, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy.  I have three games I’m running at Enfilade, and I’m still trying to wrap up the last one in time for my weekend-before-the-convention playtest.

I’ve done a lot this spring/winter (this is so embarassing!) Dave Schueler and I will host a game we’ve wanted to do for many years-the 1942 combined sea/land raid on St. Nazaire. I slowly accumulated all the motor gunboats and assorted naval vessels needed to play the game, but the challenge was always going to be putting together what would pass for a harbor and adapting a game to it.  Dave and I have done a lot of projects together including the Tirpitz game and the Persian Gulf tripwire scenario with lots of modern gunboats, but this was especially challenging.  Dave did most of the work modelling the various pieces representing warehouses and dockyards.  I contributed some, but the work is mostly his.  The scenario will force the British players to cooperate and be aggressive as they try to land their commandos in the face of fire and demolish their targets.  Dave and I will run the Germans using a combination of ideas from David Manley’s excellent Action Stations and the old Raid on St. Nazaire board game by Avalon Hill.

I’m also running two games using the Lion Rampant rules by Daniel Mersey.  As I’ve written before, I really like these rules-you just need to think outside the box. The first scenario, Raid on Agen, I’ve already written about.  I’ve done a couple of playtests, and hopefully I’ve worked out the flaws. It represents a typical chevauchee of the Hundred Years War.  Maybe not typical, but the French are inclined to resist in this scenario.

The second game is the preparation sucker.  It is based on the English raid on the port of Bolougne in 1340.  It reminds of the Raid on St. Nazaire in the sense that the raiding force was disembarked in darkness, did their work, but were trapped and captured or killed. The English will start on either end of the lower town.  Their job is to destroy buildings and ships along the waterfront. The resistance in the dock area is light, but enough to be a pain to the attacking English. The challenge to the English will be the French relief force as it masses and thunders down from the upper town.

For both scenarios I’ve tried to think outside the box.  I’ve used or created troop types to assist in the scenario.  Town militia was a type suggested on the game forum hosted on Boardgamegeek.  I’ve created a sailor troop type to defend some of the ships.  I’ve also created an engineer type charged with destroying the ships and town in the Bolougne raid. In addition to troop types I’ve also worked out rules for burning.  In the case of the Bolougne scenarios, I’ve put together rules for tow-wrapped flaming arrows and combustibles used by the engineers.  Don’t know how historical they are, but they should be fun and easy.

Playtest photo.  The English land in the lower town, setting afire a waterfront building and a ship

Playtest photo. The English land in the lower town, setting afire a waterfront building and a ship

I hope to have pictures from the Saturday playtest on the web by the weekend.

The playtest set-up. The French fleet rests at anchor as English retinues approach from either end of the town. French reinforcements boil out of upper Bolougne and down to the docks

The playtest set-up. The French fleet rests at anchor as English retinues approach from either end of the town. French reinforcements boil out of upper Bolougne and down to the docks

A special Enfilade

I know it’s been a long time since my last post, and I know this mostly because my friends keep reminding me. So much has happened since March 14th.

We are about ten days until Enfilade.  This convention is special for a several reasons, but I see this as a turning point in my life.

One reason it’s important is because I’m cutting my ties to NHMGS leadership. I’ve been pretty involved with conventions and events or the presidency and decision-making for more than twenty years.  While I’ve enjoyed my time in these roles, I’m just willing to let it go.  I hate to leave my colleagues in the lurch, but I’ve given plenty of notice, and I just feel the need to simplify my life. Of course, I wish everybody well, but this is an episode in my life I need to close.

One very good reason for making this change is I recently learned I have prostate cancer.  It’s a little more aggressive and wandering than the disease most men get at some point, content to be inert and grow fat and happy. No, mine has to come out and on June 16th I’ll have surgery.   The mortality from prostate cancer is low.  The cure rate is 80-85%.  That doesn’t mean it’s without risk, and the collateral damage is real, though hopefully temporary.   Clearly,  I need to make some changes in my life.  I want to get more exercise.  In a perfect world I’d like to take on walking, working to jogging and running.  A bunch of my colleagues at school just ran the Tacoma half marathon, and I would love to see me be among them next year.  I’ve also got to do a better job on diet, and lose weight. I just want to live a more healthy lifestyle.

What does this change in my gaming life?  I’d say little.  I’d like to play more games than I do now, not less. But there are some changes I will make:

  1. No new projects, period the end.  I have so many periods in so many different scales that I don’t play it’s silly.  That means lots of painting of things I may or may not ever play with and enjoy on the game table.  If anything I need to cut back what I have and let go of the things I’ve been hanging on to for no clear reason.  I see a big lot of stuff heading out to the Bring and Buy at Enfilade 2015.
  2. No crash painting campaigns.  Each year I try to plan well ahead for what I’m doing at the convention.  Never again.  I’m going to paint what I want, when I want, and when convention planning comes around I’ll build scenarios with what I have.
  3. Have fun.  Play more games. Truth be told, it’s more difficult for me to get together during the school year on a week night.  But occasionally I’d like to do that. There’s no excuse for not playing on NHMGS days, third Saturday of the month, none, zilch, zero.

Throughout the six week trial that has accompanied my biopsy, diagnosis and preparation for surgery I’ve painted most days.  I hope to have pictures this weekend of some of my completed work.  All the items I’ve completed go with my Louisiana project.  24 figures of Spanish infantry, 10 figures of American Dragoons, 22 figures of Comanche cavalry, 10 figures of Spanish Cuera militia cavalry.  Lots of horses.  I’m down to having only five figures left to paint for the convention–all leader figures, all mounted.  I should have pictures of painted miniatures ready to post this weekend.

I also  made a decision not to run Bladensburg at the convention this year.  The Burr game requires more preparation, and honestly is more interesting to me, so that’s where my focus is. Had a great meeting with Dave Schueler this weekend, going over rules and options, so I’m ready to sit down and start banging everything out.

In closing, I’d simply like to say thanks to all the folks I’ve worked with along the way.  There are too many to name without the risk of creating a list that runs the risk of leaving folks out.  But from Portland to British Columbia, from Aberdeen to Washington, D.C., I’ve had a tremendous opportunity to meet lots of great folks who do this hobby, mostly for fun, and a few for a living.  I can truly say I’ve enjoyed 99.9% of my interactions, learned a lot from most, taught a little bit to others.  I have few regrets.  See you all soon.


A view toward 2014

It’s now post-Enfilade and time to begin looking toward what I may have on the docket for next year.  Yes, I know it seems early, but I’m heading into summer vacation, my most productive time of year, and I really am a planner. So here are a couple of ideas for the convention

Director again. I’m going to take on the role of Enfilade director one last time.  My goal was to continue on with the people we have in place and find successors willing to take on the jobs for at least three years 2015-17, and I’ve done that with Dave and Lloyd of Astoria.  My other goal is to extend our contract if at all possible at the Red Lion so Dave and Lloyd don’t have to worry about dealing with it during their tenure.  That’s still up in the air but we may have some information soon.

Those are the big picture items I have my eye on, but the small picture is determining how my duties will affect my game-running role at the convention.  Usually I’m involved with four or so games and I can see a fistful of games I’d like to do, but I definitely have some commitments for the War of 1812 bicentennial.  They may take up all the time I have to run stuff at the con.

Bladensburg and beyond.  By agreement I’m hosting the Battle of Bladensburg, the action outside the District of Columbia that led to the burning of the capital in 1814. I’m painting Brits and Americans, which I’m happy to do.  I just finished painting the last of the four British Marine units that show up in the third wave of British troops that make their appearance. My chief task is to paint the three British line units (Victrix plastic figures) and massive light infantry battalion present at the battle.  I also have an American line unit and  one more unit of Maryland militia.  Ideally I need to have these figures finished by the first of the year, so I have some time to try out a playtest or two leading up to the battle. The Americans outnumber the Brits, but not by a huge amount, and the Brits definitely have the not stupid and unit quality factors on their side. 

Mark is also hosting Sackett’s Harbor and Doug is waffling about hosting Chippewa.  I may get tied into these games as well.  Or not.  Still 11+ months to go to see what happens.

Hero of Weehawken. This is the name of a solo board game on the Burr conspiracy.  But I was thinking that maybe there was an interesting way to make it a multi-player miniatures game.  I’m hoping I can talk Daveshoe into helping me craft something with varying victory conditions per player as Burr, commanding a force of loyal militia followers as American regulars under a loyal commander, American regulars under say, James Wilkinson, and Spanish forces close in on him.  I probably wouldn’t have to paint many more figures to make it work, and there could be enough choices to make it really interesting.

Hydroplane racing.  I would really like to run Thunderboats at Enfilade again.  I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm for the game and it would give me a reason to finish the nine boats I have.  I’ve already decided on a design for the JagWire boat in Emerald Ridge colors–my own fantasy boat using the old hulls.  It’ll take some research and work to put together my picklefork fleet.

Just some thoughts going forward.

Racing at Enfilade

Gee Bee Z leads Gee Bee Y in the early stages of Golden Age Air Racing on Saturday night

Gee Bee Z leads Gee Bee Y in the early stages of Golden Age Air Racing on Saturday night

I ran a pair of racing games at Enfilade. Friday night I pulled out the inaugural race for my Shapeways planes.  Saturday night I hauled out the hydros for a Thunderboats! game. Both were quite fun, and I have lots to share about both.

I run Golden Age Air Racing at the Museum of Flight each year, so my planes are often out where the public sees them.  However, I don’t often bring them to Enfilade.  It requires three large tubs to hault the 1/48th planes around, and I often have a carful of other stuff to bring to the convention, so they’re easily left at home.  Not so much the 1/144th planes.  Just a single tub for the pylons, and a smallish plastic box for the planes.

I made space for seven racers and with 12 planes let everyone make their choices.  Some were veterans, like Doug, Arthur, and John, while others were noobs, like Jeff and Owen. For some the race started off with a bang, as racers went full throttle at every opportunity, while others pushed every corner.  Others took a little time to get oriented.  By the end, however, everyone was madly screaming for the finish line.  Jeff Condon won the race on the final turn, and I doubt he’ll ever miss any race ever again.  Odd fact–Bruce Harborne suffered an engine stall on the second turn in all three laps.  That’s a tough way to win.

With the race over on Friday night, I decided to enter the three Gee Bees in the painting competition, and they won in the aircraft category.  That they had no competition means little to me.

Saturday was the Thunderboats! night.  There was some buzz about the boat race.  I’d run into Sean the night before and he told me he had some new boat miniatures he’d brought to the convention.  Picklefork hulls from the 70’s and 80’s, but still pre-turbines. He showed them to me, and they were absolutely beautiful miniatures.  I promised to buy six of the boats on race night.  I made sure Sean got into the event.

Chris's Tahoe Miss passes Jeff's Miss Wahoo, while John's Miss Bardahl follows closely.

Chris’s Tahoe Miss passes Jeff’s Miss Wahoo, while Nick’s Miss Madison follows closely.

When the event arrived, it was filled mostly with those who hadn’t raced before, including Jeff, Nick and Darcy.  But there were some cunning veterans like Chris, Sean and John too.  I had a feeling it could get wild.  And it did as Henry Sr. and Henry Jr. burst into the lead.  Both Henrys lit up their nitrous bottles early and took an early lead as Junior promptly set himself on fire. He put it out quickly, but both busted quill shafts early and fell out of the race.  John was driven out with a bad hull bounce.  After a rocky start, Chris eventually took a lead he would not relinquish, but barely edged out Nick who had a stupendous finish.  A late stalled engine put Jeff out of the running and Sean and Darcy battled to finish.  All agreed the game was a lot of fun, and that’s all we can ask.

I’ve pledged more games for the near future.

An Enfilade Gallery

I took a fair number of pictures using the camera on my iPad.  I’ve got a fair number I’d like to share.  There were literally hundreds (like 130 or so) games at Enfilade this year and my regret is I didn’t get more pictures of them, because there were lots of good ones.

Lloyd Mebust and Dave Mebust won the first period best of show with their Viking Run game.

Lloyd Bowler and Dave Mebust won the first period best of show with their Viking Run game.

Scott Williams' street fighting game based on Gangs of New York

Scott Williams’ street fighting game based on Gangs of New York

Guy Bowers' excellent skirmish/ rpg game based on Kurosawa's Yojimbo

Guy Bowers’ excellent skirmish/ rpg game based on Kurosawa’s Yojimbo

David Sullivan's Silent Death Returns game was a big hit in the first game period.

David Sullivan’s Silent Death Returns game was a big hit in the first game period.

Scott Potter gives instructions to his 15mm ACW Pipe Creek scenario

Scott Potter gives instructions to his 15mm ACW Pipe Creek scenario

Interesting take on the War of the Worlds including a mechanized Martian killing machine.

Interesting take on the War of the Worlds including a mechanized Martian killing machine.

Another glimpse at Chris Craft's beautiful Henry V game.

Another glimpse at Chris Craft’s beautiful Henry V game.

Wes Rogers ran two of his 28mm Seven Years War scenarios.

Wes Rogers ran two of his 28mm Seven Years War scenarios.

Doug gives pre-game instructions to the massive 28mm Napoleonic game

Doug gives pre-game instructions to the massive 28mm Napoleonic game

Andrew Mah and Denny Hartung play Check Your Six Jets

Andrew Mah and Denny Hartung play Check Your Six Jets

Enfilade Day Two: period one

Almost a full house this morning. One table empty due to a no-show. The hall is buzzing. Life is good. Lots of good games from lots of periods.

Here are some of note.


Neil Marker’s The Battle at Bjork’s Drift. A 28mm battle on Mars.


Dave Schueler’s Second Battle of St. Leonard’s Creek.


Doug Hamm and Seth Terry run the Battle of Hanau in 28mm


Chris Leach runs his Conquest of Empire game in 28mm. Can’t have too many Zulus.

Best of show winner for this period: assault on Crete.


Enfilade live blog?

It’s Friday!!! I’m so excited for the convention. Usually I go with this feeling of foreboding and am totally stressed out. But I don’t feel that way this year. Maybe I’m just too dumb to know better. In any case I’m looking forward to it.

I thought I would try my hand at some live blogging this year. Of course that’s all contingent on having access to wireless at the hotel. If there’s no free internet, no live blog. I’ll try to keep anybody that reads this blog up to date as I go along. One more caveat: there are six game periods, I’m playing in one of them and running games in four of them, so it may be difficult to get around a lot.

1:30 at the Red Lion. Half hour short of the first game period. Here are pics of games being set up.


Lloyd Bowler and Dave Mebust’s Viking Run Game.


Fix that damn Bridge game 28 mm Civil War


Chris Craft’s Henry V game.

Playing in Chris, Agincourt game. Old friend Kim Harris and I split a command. Unfortunately the English have not covered themselves in glory. Arrow fire has been fairly ineffective, so archers have been driven from their stakes. The French have been un able to totally take advantage of the situation but things are looking bad.




Jammed full

When I made my last post, I thought it would be smooth sailing to Friday, but such things were not to be.  One of my problems is that even though my games are pretty easy to schlep and transport, I’m providing goodies for my friends to use.  A couple of game mats, and tidy tubs of air racers and hydroplanes, my Fleet Air Arm planes and throw in some rules and dice and ta-ta, I’m good.  However I’ve agreed to support Mark Waddington’s Crysler’s Farm game with figures and terrain, and Scott Murphy’s Martian game with figures.  This means transporting three times more stuff than I am dragging along for my own games.

I also needed to do some extra work for Crysler’s.  First, I made myself a little deal about mountings for my War of 1812 stuff.  I remounted all my artillery on 50mm square bases, from their much larger bases.  In some ways this is ground-breaking stuff.  Doug Hamm always feared having masses of artillery on the board.  Now there is.  I have five sections of militia artillery, four sections of regular artillery and two sections of naval artillery.  Need it all for Bladensburg.  Though Doug may fear bumping into this in a game, it all runs away defending Washington, except the naval guns.  I also remounted all my officers (six) on smaller (40mm square) bases, including one on a round base that could serve as a C in C.

I also agreed to bring trees.  There was a problem with this, of course.  I no longer own any singly mounted trees.  I followed Mark’s lead to create some vignette-like wooded bases.  Unfortunately, I only had four of these, and some were quite small.  I also had three that were incomplete, and much larger.  I decided to take these on over the weekend and finished them Sunday.  The key to completing these pieces is to try not to rush them.  Make them each look a little different. Not sure they are that great, but, I also think it’s foolish to make them too busy (just in case you have to put move figures through them.) I’ll need two tubs to get it all to Enfilade.

So lots of stuff going south.  This is complicated by my desire to part with my Geo-Hex.  I bought this in the early 80’s, and for a good fifteen years gave it quite a workout.  Unfortunately it’s passed it’s prime and I’ve tried to find other solutions to creating varying elevations. I have a willing victim who is willing to take it all, and there is a lot of it.  And that’s part of my problem.  Somehow I have to get it all down there. I did do a trial jamfest last night and everything seemed to fit.