Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Drumbeat 2014

Last Saturday was our annual NHMGS Drumbeat mid-winter game day at the community center in Lake City, WA. Attendance was very good and we had several games running in two gaming periods. We even enticed Doug Hamm to come down from a place he calls "Canada." Doug ran a game using the figures and rules he's been working on and writing about on his blog.

Phil Bardsley, Bill Stewart, and I planned on running a Bolt Action game set in North Africa. I managed to borrow from John Kennedy the desert mat and some buildings that we use when we game at The Panzer Depot. We didn't have any of the sculpted pink board we use for hills under the mat. I solved that by getting up early on Saturday and using my hot knife to carve some hills out of a few slabs of pink board I had in my garage left over from building land bits for my Row Well and Live game. The fumes didn't kill me, but after a short while, I was seeing colors not normally found in the electromagnetic spectrum and experiencing something not quite the same as "reality." After that wore off, and the hill bits were done, I packed up and headed down to Lake City.

Along with several others, I showed up bright and early and went through the obligatory waiting period in the cold, cold weather until the guy with the key shows up. Fortunately I'd already had my coffee and breakfast courtesy of Starbucks—and I didn't need to pee—so the wait wasn't too bad. I spent some time chatting with Phil in his warm car and later with Bill in his warm car. Phil had to bail out before the key arrived, but he left his figures with us, so we had a lot to put on the table. After about 30 minutes, the key arrived and we got into the community center and started getting table, chairs, and out games set up.

I carefully planned dashed out an impromptu scenario that had a squad of French Foreign Legion, with a few 8th Army assets in support, holding a small village while Rommel and a small contingent of Italian allies tried to take it. More 8th Army was on hand to counterattack. We wound up with six players.

Italian troops and German tanks move up on the Axis left
We had a few new players, but they quickly caught on and play proceeded well. We played six turns in  less than three hours.

British troops and tanks move in to support the village
I ran the bulk of the British armor—to little effect. I spent most of the game trading shots with the Axis tanks opposite me. When I managed to actually hit, I flubbed my penetration rolls. Fortunately for me, the Axis were just as feeble. The Pz IVD, with its cute little howitzer, kept hitting my Grant, but had no chance to penetrate the +9 armor with its +2 PEN. However, I wound up getting several pins and had to spend a turn rallying at one point.

Mon Dieu, les Allemands sont à venir!
The FFL squad holding the outpost got shot up pretty early in the game. Mitch Berdinka ran his panzers and a few squads of Afrika Korps in close and started a big fusillade, which quickly reduced the troops until they failed a morale check and fled.

Holding the west wall
We got troops into the center of the village to hold it against the Germans working around the building held by the FFL. I also ran one of my tanks into the center in the hope of holding off any Axis tanks who had the same idea.

Lulubelle goes up in flames
German tanks from the Axis center moved against Bill Stewart's position on the British right. Bill's 2-pounder and M3 Lee "Lulubelle" had limited luck stopping them. One german tank was immobilized, but "Lulubelle" was hit and caught on fire forcing Sgt. Gunn, Waco, and Jimmy to bail out.

Bruce Meyer, commanding the Axis right, put more pressure on Bill's lone infantry squad holding the reverse slope of a sand dune. After a quick rush from the panzergrenadiers and a fusillade of submachine gun bullets, Bill's flank collapsed.

Reinforcements pour in
The British squad holding the west wall was quickly shot to bits by Mitch's Afrika Korps troopers. We got another squad to come in and shore it up before everything went downhill.

Kampfgruppe Berdinka
Mitch's troops shot up the British defenders and got into the center of the town. One of his tanks overran Bill's 2-pounder; another took out my Crusader tank with a side shot. My only success of the game came when I finally took out the Pz IV I'd been targeting with my Grant all game long.

Even though the Germans and Italians failed to take every building in the town by game's end, they had shot us out of all of them. They even re-killed Lt. Kevlar, who had recovered from earning his posthumous VC in a previous North Africa game. The only british forces in town were my burning Crusader and my small four-man command team. Apart from that we had my Grant, a Valentine, and a Honey facing off the almost untouched Axis armor.

After lunch with Bill at the Elliot Bay Brewery, now occupying the old site of the American Eagles hobby shop, I brought Phil's troops to him, went home, and then got fairly ill for the next three days. I'm not sure if it was Drumbeat, the wait in the cold, the burning pink board fumes, or what. I was experiencing the return of an intermittent cough/sore throat, but it turned into a full-blown cold on Saturday afternoon as I sat at home and shivered with chills. Better now after a sick day at home.


  1. Wow - excellent models for that Bolt Action game, David. Very impressive building terrain the morning of too. Best, Dean

  2. Beautiful game! May I ask where you got those stone walls?

  3. The walls are Armorcast. They come unpainted. I gave them a coat of overall dark gray and then a series of lighter drybrushings. Followed by a dark wash.

    They're chipping a bit after years of use and abuse. I need to touch them up. I also have several sections that got I got no further on than the dark gray base coat.

    Armorcast kind of dropped off for a while, but they're back at