On Saturday we held our annual Drumbeat game day at the Lake City Community Center in Seattle. It was a good turnout and we had a good time, but poignant with Dick Larsen being in the hospital due to his recent stroke. Drumbeat is Dick's brainchild. He founded it ten years ago as a game event to get us through the grim Seattle winter and it's been going strong ever since.
Game 1: Quetzalcoatl Rampant
Kevin Smyth and I put on our game of Quetzalcoatl Rampant. We tweaked things just a bit after the last playtest and assumed that we were in good shape.
|The Aztecs deploy|
In our early playtests, the Spanish consistently wiped the floor with the Aztecs. We tweaked things a bit to make the Spanish less formidable and the Aztecs less horrible. I'm not sure if we went a tweak too far or what, but the last two games have been disasters for the Spanish.
|Aztecs defenders of the village|
Part of this problem has been the inexplicable inability of the Spanish commanders to make their activation rolls. In the Drumbeat game, the Spanish never managed to get more than a handful of activations for their troops. The Aztecs did better than average.
Unlike the last play of this scenario, the Spanish/Tlaxcalans managed to capture corn. However, they didn't manage to get it off the board. The Aztec counterattack landed in the Spanish/Tlaxcalan right rear and just started tearing things up. The Spanish troops were on the opposite side and couldn't manage to get an activation anyway.
|The Aztec counterattack: kicking butt and |
The "Your beating heart" rule proved to be too much for the players. We hadn't used it much in our earlier games because it was moot. The Spanish v. Aztecs melées left the Aztecs too beat up to pass a simple courage test, they didn't bother with trying to take captives. In our last games, the Tlaxcalans—whose regular warriors are no match for Aztec knights—bore the brunt of the fighting and easily lost heart, so to speak. I'll have to tweak things to make it less easy for the Aztecs to convert casualties to captives and lessen the effect. I'm a bit hesitant, though, to make too many tweaks due to what may just be anomalous events.
|Sitting out the battle|
The next task is getting our figures ready for the two scenarios we're running at Enfilade! in May.
Game 2: The Pikeman's Lament
After fine dining at Seattle's own Chez Richard, we got ready for the second game of the day.
Doug Hamm was set to come down from Vancouver BC for the day to put on a game of The Pikeman's Lament with Bill Stewart, but he got snowed in instead. Bill had just rebased a whole pile of his 28mm ECW for the rules I had two dragoon units completed, so we managed to pull it off as understudies. There was no particular scenario, we just put terrain out and set up two opposing forces divided between six players. One side was in red, the other in blue—except for my turncoat dragoons, who were in red.
I had my two dragoon units, plus two units of Bill's cavalry taken as trotters.
|Part of my forces deployed|
Opposite me was Wes Rogers with a similar force, except that his cavalry were taken as gallopers.
|Facing off across a wee brook|
The object of the game was to take and hold the bridge that sat in the midst of a small village (whose beautiful building were scratch-built by Bill Stewart).
|Commanded Shot taking position by the dung pile|
The red forces took position early in the game and managed to get a unit of pikemen on the bridge. However, it was not to hold it long. Shot at by blue musketeers in the surrounding houses, it finally wavered (and kept wavering) after a whiff of grapeshot from Russ Bowder's regimental gun.
|Enemy pikemen on the bridge, alas|
Russ' gun fared poorly after that. He became the target of a lot of fire until the crew was all shot away or had been removed from failed morale tests while already wavering. We had no guns painted for the game, so we pressed into service a couple light guns I'd painted for my dormant 1672 project.
Commanding my forces, was my personal figure, surrounded by his four cats, painted to look like Grendel, Bogart, Rhiannon, and Maebh.
|I ride with cats|
On my flank, Wes and I sparred a bit. He had the upper hand for a short while, and then I managed to come back briefly. At one point Wes' officer challenged mine. I lost the duel and was severely wounded and left writhing on the field with my cats indifferent to my pain and wanting food. A crueler fate could befall no man.
|Dragoons slugging it out|
Eventually, Wes took me out. I managed to kill his officer in the course of wiping out his galloper unit. Both of us battered and officerless, Wes had the last man standing—he also managed to get one of those lucky activations where he rolled boxcars, then got reinforcements. He was able to replace his lost galloper unit and soon had command of the flank.
On the rest of the field, things slowly went for red. Russ was unable to hold the buildings he'd occupied, Tyler (on Russ' right) got most of his troops shot away from Gary Greiss' musketeers. In the end blue ceded the field to red, the day was theirs.
Drumbeat X went very well. There were several other games being played, including a morning game Wes ran of Loose Files and American Scramble, a venerable set of American War of Independence rules by Andy Callan. Kevin ran a Lion Rampant game in the afternoon with his Hundred Years War English against Darren Howard's French.