Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Mountie Always Get His Man: On Vacation to Blog-Con and Lard Island

We finally finished transiting from planes, trains and automobiles and are now enjoying the first leg our much anticipated spring vacation. I write this from the picturesque town of Delft, Holland after spending the previous week in the St Alban's area outside of London where we enjoyed the generous hospitality of Sidney and his wonderful family at Roundwood Towers. So now that I'm in a gap between gobbling food, binge drinking and gaming I thought I'd crack off a post and provide a blog update on recent goings on. 

As some may know, last weekend Sidney and I drove up to York to attend Blog-Con. DaveD was kind enough to arrange the venue and put on the first game of the day, a spirited cowboy donnybrook in his storied town of Serenity. This was a real treat as I've had the pleasure of witnessing the progress of this wonderful project over the past two Painting Challenges and now I was getting a chance to play a scenario within it. Brilliant!

(Thanks to Phil and Dave for the great Blog-Con photos displayed here!)

Blog-Con: Great company and a good many laughs.
Being the token Canadian in the crowd I was assigned to play 'The Mountie' in the scenario. His job was to escort the villainous 'Budgie' Ray on to the local train for transport to Canada in order to face charges for crimes against beavers (or something along those lines). 

The Mountie
The Mountie's just mission was opposed by a host of shady characters ranging from bloody-minded Pinkertons to vicious lasso-wielding hillbillies all bent on stopping the virtuous Canuck lawman from doing his duty. Nonetheless, our hero jutted his lantern jaw, furrowed a brow over his narrow-set eyes and resolved to get the job done no matter the cost.

Once he saw what was arrayed against him, the Mountie knew he had to take desperate measures, perhaps cutting a few corners regarding the comfort of his prisoner. With this in mind Ray was unceremoniously shoved off the saloon's balcony, with the intention that he would land in the water trough below and save a bit of time in their bid for freedom. Well, as it turned out, both physics and geometry were not The Mountie's strong suit and poor Ray landed just shy of the trough and was knocked senseless. 

Hmm, where's the splash? Oh, sorry about that Ray old boy...
Undeterred, our Canadian hero jumped down to the ground, fetched some rope from his trusty steed 'Flat-Out' (a name soon to be realized), hog-tied Ray and, not wanting to waste time, set off on his horse dragging the prisoner behind him.

A few local miscreants tried to interfere, but apart from of few wild shots, the steely-eyed stare of The Mountie made them change their minds and leave him be. 

Nonetheless, the arrival of a team of cold-blooded Pinkertons soon made things a bit hot for our hero.  The Canadian's faithful horse tripped on the tracks in front of the moving train, but The Mountie managed to bundle Ray to the other side before the locomotive made glue of the Canadian's unfortunate mount. 

The Pinkertons, these chilling mercenaries of American justice (very ably led by Ian), wounded The Mountie several times but the Canadian girded his jodhpur-clad loins and succeeded in getting both himself and Ray into the caboose of the escalating train.  

After securing Ray to the caboose stove a frenetic gunfight ensued with the Mountie fighting Pinkersons at either end of the rail car. My luck managed to hold out and The Mountie dispatched both assailants in a flurry of pistol shots.

The fierce shootout in the caboose.

The next game was run by Sidney using his fabulous WWI figures and terrain. The scenario was titled 'Get Carter' which entailed the British forces scampering across No Man's Land to rescue their popular Captain Carter. From my post-game discussions with Sidney I understood that the scenario would always be a challenging one for the British. Nonetheless, the Tommies made a valiant go of it and almost pulled the caper off, but were ultimately swamped by elite Stosstruppen released from the German tactical reserve. 

It was a great game and very evocative of the period. I won't go into great detail on it here as Sidney has provided an excellent photographic account on his great blog. He also provides details to running this scenario along with helpful play aids. I must say that I particularly liked the scenario's 'whistle blowing' mechanic. This is where the German side accrued 'alert' points through the whistles of their forward sentries. These alert points eventually built-up to the point where various levels of alarm / activity would be initiated. This added great tension to the game as the British try to creep up to the German lines to quickly snatch Captain Carter and make their escape.

Big kudos go to Sidney in keeping eleven players fully engaged in the scenario. It went right down to the wire and was a treat to both play and view. Well done my good man!

A few days later I got to do it all over again when Sidney hosted a variation of the same scenario for his clubmates on Lard Island. Yes indeed, I had the distinct pleasure to be invited out to a club game night with the collective that makes up Two Fat Lardies. I won't go into the details of the rules behind the game but it did involve the development of the upcoming Version 2 of 'Through the Mud and the Blood'. Pretty exciting stuff.

The nerve center (nerd centre?) of Lard Island...
I must say I was a bit star struck in a dorky kind of way. I'm a big admirer of the Lardies rules and I was quite chuffed to meet all of them and especially to chat with Richard. All the members were very gracious in having a colonial in their midst and were a load of fun to hang out with. I quite enjoyed talking with Richard regarding rulesets, styles of play, clubs, etc. 

Richard and Big Al pondering the enormity of it all...
What particularly impressed me was how open they all were to challenging and changing the mechanics of their own rules. Some rules designers can be a bit pedantic regarding their designs but I was delighted with the enthusiasm and creativity of the group in adapting rules mechanics or changing them entirely. I know, it's pretty nerdy stuff but I found it very cool to witness and be a part of in a small way.

Rich and Big Al looking at Sidney: Patent disbelief on their faces, writ large...
At the end of our stay in the UK I gave out a few figures. Two of them were Mounties, with one of them going to Dave in thanks for the figures he provided me and his great efforts in organizing Blog-Con...

...the other went to Phil whose Pulp Adventure collection seemed desperately in need of a man from the NWMP (North West Mounted Police - the precursor to today's RCMP) to fight the good fight.

I also gave a figure, a French WWI aviator, to Sidney in deep gratitude for his marvellous hospitality over the week.

He just needs a long-ashed gauloises gripped in his fist to complete the scene. 

Thank you Sidney, it was a delight and a privilege to hang out with you! I very much look forward to the next time.

So there we have it! That's brings us pretty much up to date with my adventures. Next up is an update on my participation in the Lead Painters' League and more importantly my gaming visit with the excellent lads from the 'Royal Dutch Water-Bicycle Detachment'. Stay tuned!