Saturday, August 25, 2012

Gen Con Indy 2012 -- Part III

The Black Knight
The next morning, I headed back to the gaming area (I don't just play D&D.) It was for something that I always liked: stuff with wings, preferably in flying condition. Scenario: Operation Türkenkreuz, designed for Wings of Glory. We were in 1917, when two Gotha bombers returned from a raid on London. Their mission was to exit the opposite end of the table to safety. Allied fighters were to shoot them down. German fighters were to deny the Allies. I'd shown up slightly after everyone else, so I ended up flying the lowly Albatross in the Kaiser's flock, while my teammates enjoyed Dr.III triplanes and, oh joy, a Fokker D.VII. On the other side wer high-speed SPADs and nimble little Sopwith Camels.

The two Gothas
Of course, I had the most advanced position—that is, closest to the two oncoming bombers and the sputtering pack of Allies bearing down upon them. Not to be discouraged one bit, I declared: “Ach! Dere ist nothing ein German officer cannot do! Vee vill show them, von't vee!” It was a delicate maneuver. I had to estimate where the bombers would be and plot my next three moves ahead of time, nearly head on. There was no telling whether the two SPADs approaching the bombers' sterns would pursue their quarries or bank to meet me. Turn too late, and I'd have to play catch-up. Turn too early, and I'd make a fine target for the incoming bandits.

The two SPADs and me!
Three moves later, I just barely missed intercepting the pesky SPADS. Cursing profusely, I began the chase with no one on my tail, thankfully. At full throttle, struts shaking, and canvas flapping, my old Albatross caught up with the Allies as they opened fire on the Gothas. Rat-tat-tat. . . I nicked one of the SPADs. I couldn't tell if there was any significant damage. The rest of the pack showed up and a fierce dogfight began. Soon, one of our bombers left a trail of smoke. It didn't bode well. At least I was tailing the two jokers behind the bombers.

Things are getting nasty
They kept shooting at the hapless Gothas, ignoring me. The German gunners returned fire, desperately trying to keep their assailants at bay. My twin Spaudaus spat fire and lead in anger, wreaking havoc upon one of the SPADs. Suddenly, a Sopwith barreled out of the furball, guns blazing. A miss! I breathed a sigh of relief and plotted my next three moves. Things were getting very dicey, no pun intended of course.

The two SPADS go for the kill
What I feared happened. The SPADs banked and sped out of the way. I looked at my maneuver cards, sadly realizing how unmaneuverable my Albatross was in comparison. At least I looked good in my snazzy black and white paint scheme, so I called myself Der Schwarzer Knecht.  The Sopwith, with the Fokker D-VII in pursuit, took a shot at a bomber, hoping for a cheap kill. I pressed on, praying to get him before he nailed that limping Gotha.

I'm not far behind them
The gal flying that D.VII cursed as her shots kept missing. She played well, but her luck proved about as bad as mine, if not worse. She banked almost right in front of me, and we both kept firing at the incongruous Sopwith. We both missed. “Das ist unglaublich!” I readjusted my goggles and hunkered down, my black scarf flapping over my shoulder.

The friendly D.VII shows up
Under fire from multiple directions, the closest Gotha caught fire but bravely soldiered on. At last, I managed to score a crapload of damage on that annoying Sopwith. Gotcha! Down it went. The other SPADs turned around fully and shot my tail full of holes. I didn't care. I was still flying and I'd managed to shoot down their buddy with my clumsy Albatross.

Something's burning
Then things got much grimmer. The furball continued fast and furious. Despite losses among the Allies, none of the Gothas made it home. Soon, I remained the only German craft in flight, with one SPAD and one Sopwith still to contend with, all of us flying clockwise in a wide circle of death. By then, accumulated damage limited my ability to bank left. I didn't think the other two players knew about it. My guns had jammed twice already, but I got them to work again after some frantic hammering.

Meanwhile elsewhere
Following some brilliant maneuvering (in my opinion at least) I loosed a storm upon a Sopwith before he could turn on me. I almost nailed that lucky bastard. Alas! Fate had it that the SPAD was just at the extreme limit of its firing range. The slender pickup stick we used to measure range teetered at the very edges of the two aircraft's plastic bases. I sneezed, but the stick stuck. So, it was official then. The SPAD could shoot. And shoot he did. Thus ended the tale of the Black Knight and his aging mount. He spiraled to his doom, a plume of smoke marking his last moments across the cold dawn sky above France.

All's fine on the Korean Front
I ran back to the room to grab a sandwich and some ice-cold tea. Thus refueled, I went to the dealer's room once more. I tried out the WWII version of Wings of Glory available in the demo area. That was cool. I flew a Russian Yak for a bit, and later on a Japanese Kawasaki Hien. My revenge was merciless. BANZAI! After several kill shots, I finally relented and left the demo area.

The Grande Armée smaller than your pinky's nail
On my way to another event, I encountered Tom Wham who decided to come along. I had registered for yet another air war, a WWII event called "Air Raid – London!" The idea seemed neat but the game bogged down right from the beginning. At first sight, the table was covered with paper foldouts representing a large German bomber formation on its way to London, including He-111s, Do-17s, and Ju-88s. They were static during the entire game. The only pieces that actually moved were RAF and Luftwaffe fighters, zooming by at relatively higher speeds.

With ambient noise, none could hear these cannons
The general idea was that Hurricanes would go after the bombers while Spitfires engaged German defenses. The Me-109s and Me-110s would, of course, try to protect the bombers. It was an interesting concept, but rules were very abstract which threw off the players. Visually, this was nowhere near as appealing as the morning's event and demo games. There were 8-10 players, which really slowed the game. A two-hour slot was allocated to the event, nearly half of which spent listening to the moderator telling us about game mechanics. Since they were so abstract anyway, that seemed rather pointless. Nonetheless, we went along despite the relative confusion.

I really should've been sitting at this table
Tom left the table shortly before the game began. I ran three teams of 4 Spits. All three headed for the closest Me-109 Schwärme. Luck was with me. The opposite player decided for head-on passes, while I opted to maneuver. Somehow, thanks to the weird rules and some hot-handed dice-rolling on my part, I got on Jerry's tail and shot down a few of them. A German player was getting rather frustrated with the rules. Things would have gotten much worse if the game had gone beyond this point as the Germans seemed to badly outnumber the Brits. Partly relieved, I barreled across the gamers' area, looking for more interesting sights.

Janet at Johnny Rocket's
Six o'clock came around fast, and I returned to base. I had four hours scheduled for Settlers of Catan, but I crapped out entirely. Time for some dinner. On that day, weather turned once again gorgeous, in the 70's and sunny. A quick dash to the nearby mall led us to Johnny Rockets.  We planned a better place for the following evening.  No complaints though.  The staff was friendly and a walk through the mall offered a nice break from hustle and bustle at the convention.  Curiously, the mall's entrance actually looks like a movie theater.  Weird.

Look!  I have eight eyes!
The mall.
I played with the mirrors to shoot a few odd pictures, which I thankfully deleted for the most part.  A trip to the local bakery yielded a treasure trove of goodies for breakfast, and we were off on a stroll to the hotel for some well deserved rest.  The streets were really busy: convention goers on mighty quests, locals in search of a cool hangout for this Friday evening, the guy at the intersection playing a saxophone for some cash, and bogus panhandlers begging for a few gaming chips to use at the convention.  Gaming chips?  They must have thought these "games" were slot machines and the dragon's hoard a jackpot.  Jacko-the-Dragon and his pot o' gold. . .  never mind.  Strange beggars indeed.

Here are a few more pictures from Gen Con, for good measure.

Will fight for food.
Will definitely fight for food (it's a "she" by the way)
Will paint for food.
Cry Havoc, and let loose the Cubes of War!
I thought this was so cool.  Some wargaming was available for the truly young at heart among us!
Future Joint Chiefs of Staff Commanders of our nation?
May The Cube be with you!
And more dice!
Another era, another game.
Nosebleed anyone?
Just next to Spartacus, we have the Hackmaster demo table.
More mayhem and destruction!
Orcs & Beasties?
Spot?  Is that you, Spot, with the armor?
Orcs with the blues?
A random muse along the way
If you can peel your eyes from the décolleté of the lady above, you'll notice this 360 degree view of the gaming area.  Click on the photo, then select View Image and enlarge.  For best effect, download the photo to see all the detail.  This image includes five different shots stitched together as a single image.

Click HERE to continue.

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