Above is a pic of Lt. Colonel James Galbraith, Regimental Colour in hand, alongside Bobbie the regimental dog and some of the other "Last Eleven" survivors of the 66th (Berkshire) Regiment, making their last stand in one of the walled gardens just South of Khig village, a few miles West of the Afghan town of Maiwand.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

DESERT WARS 2022: "GOOD STUFF"

This past weekend, Friday March 18th to Sunday March 20th, I packed up the "Bloody Elephant's Paw" game, left Los Angeles, CA and drove 400 miles East to Mesa, AZ -- where I met up with my friend Shawn, who drove 400 miles West from El Paso, TX.  The plan was to team-up and run the same scenario we'd fought in the "Never Trust Anyone on the Frontier" NWF campaign at HMGS-PSW's first-ever "DESERT WARS" convention, held at the Mesa, Convention Center...






When I reached Chiriaco Summit I stopped to say hi to the Patton statue at the Tank Museum...




Then proceeded on to Arizona...


Knowing the terrain would take a while to set up, we met when the doors cracked open at 6:30am, as seen in the dimly-lit dawn pic below...


Pic below with Shawn on the left (blue-gray shirt, gray hair) and me on the right (black shirt, dark hair) was taken much later...


The welcome sign for the convention featured a colonial-themed photo, which I took as a good omen...


Unloading and set-up went pretty smooth and we were done in about 90 minutes.  We were assigned a nice prominent spot at the front of the hall, near the main entrance...


My greatest achievement of the day -- managing to properly arrange the insane puzzle that was this set of walled fields (I won't tell you how long it took me)...


The pic below shows Frank Patterson (my roommate for the convention) and Harmon Ward (the convention director for HMGS-PSW) both from Orange County, CA, with Shawn and myself, all wearing the commemorative t-shirts for our game...


Shawn's graphic designer nephew made the design, which IMHO turned out fantastic...


In addition to signing up to help me unload, set up, GM, and pack everything up again, Shawn also made custom game charts, scenario maps, and character bios for all of our players.  Somehow I don't have a single pic of any of them... but I swear they really did exist!

Of course our game would use the classic colonial rule-set THE SWORD AND THE FLAME by Larry Brom... but for some reason Shawn can be seen here smiling as he holds its far younger (and lesser!) rival, from Osprey Publishing, THE MEN WHO WOULD BE KING...


Just before I left home I thought to bring these 3 NWF themed books with me and laid them out on one of the side-tables by our game.  At least a couple of people flipped through them, which was great to see...


Both Shawn and I were amazed to learn that one of the players who signed up for our game is thanked at the end of TSATF 20th Anniversary Edition for having helped Larry Brom with play-testing!  It was like having a real-life celebrity in our game...


The first turn of our game kicked off at around 10:45am and the last turn (I believe it was #11) ended at around 4:15pm, so it lasted about 5-1/2 hours -- which in the history of convention games I've run through the years is the shortest ever!  It went about as well as it possibly could have, largely due to the wonderful group of players who signed up, including but not limited to Sylvain "Frenchie" Durand, pictured above, proving his he wasn't BS'ing us by showing us his name in The Book!

I will post a detailed AAR for the game soon.  The only bad thing about it was that Shawn and I were so busy GM'ing, neither of us were able to take many photos of our own game.  But here are a couple...


This second one shows one of the biggest highlights of the day, when young Connor stopped by with his dad (after winning 5th place in the Bolt Action Tournament, I later learned!) and we recruited him to help out with flipping move and fire cards and then rolling fire and -- most exciting of all -- melee dice...


As is usually the case, the "Kid" had a very hot hand...


Unfortunately one of our 6 players -- Scott Hansen, who served as British C-in-C Brigadier Ruff-Husband -- had to go before the game ended, but luckily I happened to catch his rear-view in this photo of the table, -- that's him in the "VIKING WORLD TOUR" t-shirt on the right in the pic below...


Here's the rest of us, from left to right: Adam Waters (British sub-commander), John Slattery (Lt. Colonel Wincott), the aforementioned VIP Sylvain Durand (Mad Mullah Omar), Thomas "Devil in a Skirt" Fraser (Malik Jamal Shah Baba), myself, Shawn, and last-but-not-least Greg P. (Pathan C-in-C Gul Akbar Khan)


Aside from not managing to take many pics of our own game, the other down-side on Saturday was that I was too busy GM'ing -- and then too fried -- to get any pics of the MANY OTHER VERY COOL LOOKING GAMES that filled the hall.  I was especially bummed I didn't get to check out another Colonial game set on the North-West Frontier involving a "What-If?" Russian invasion force teamed-up with native auxiliaries vs. British and Indian troops.  It sounded very cool!  If anyone reading this has posted pics of that or any of the other Saturday games, please comment below and leave an address to find them at online, and THANKS IN ADVANCE if you do!

S U N D A Y

Sunday was laid-back, and I spent the morning checking out all the games going on.  There were a decent number.  Many were skirmish type games.  Everyone was having fun and all the game looked good to me...

"Walking Dead" ZOMBIE game...




THE SWORD AND THE FLAME in Zululand...




Back to that amazing Zombie table...




TEAM YANKEE...



CONFLIKT '47 (Weird WWII)...





David Letizia -- one of the Conflict '47 players -- was nice enough to tell me about the "FREEBLADES" fantasy skirmish game.  He had brought along 5 factions worth of figures, and the bespoke miniatures were very nice sculpts...






At this point the TSATF action in Zululand was getting hot and heavy...





A view of the hall from the empty table where our game had been the day before...



Back to ZOMBIE TOWN...


Apparently the Taco Truck's alarm had been triggered, which drew more and more of The Walking Dead to that spot...





Around 12:30 on Sunday Shawn and I said our farewells, he headed East and I headed West...


Along the way I thought for a moment that somehow I was driving back to the North-West Frontier... but lucky for me it turned out to just be more of Arizona...


As always I had to stop at Chiriaco Summit and visit -- if only in passing -- the General Patton Memorial Museum...




Heading back into California I was surprised to spot some 1:1 scale US armor -- USMC Strykers heading West on I-10...



I gave them a honk and a wave as I passed...


A while later I arrived safe and sound back home in La-La Land...


I unpacked everything but the boards, which I left safe in the car to deal with the next day...


It was an AWESOME weekend that went as well as it possibly could have, and better than I expected, with the myriad logistical challenges all running like clockwork.  Again, my sincere thanks to all the players in our game, who made the 400 mile trek worthwhile and then some.  Also thanks to Harmon and Frank and also Mark Deliduka, who also came out from SoCal -- in Mark's case to run Battle-Tech games and in Harmon's case to run the convention itself.

Hopefully we can all do it again next year.  6-7 hours is not a short drive, but for me it's not an impossibly-long drive either.  The chance to get together and game and schmooze with miniature wargamers from Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, California, Texas and even a few non-South-Western states was a whole lotta fun, or as my co-GM said: "Good Stuff."

Speaking of my co-GM,  my last and biggest thank you goes to Shawn, whose collaboration made the whole thing possible.  We only found out about the convention on March 9th, but in that six seeks time we managed to pull it off.  If HMGS-PSW holds "Desert Wars 2023" in Mesa, Arizona, I think there's a decent chance we will each drive 400 miles and meet up in the middle again next year.

Hey -- I almost forgot -- we won a prize for best game at the con... actually it may have been "Best Looking Table"... I'm not sure.  But I am sure it was a very cool surprise, as we did not know they were giving out prizes, so thank you to the convention for giving us the award!

12 comments:

  1. Great post, looks like Big Fun! I wish I could’ve joined you gents. Congrats on successfully running your beautiful game and the earned award. I’m looking forward to your full game AAR and how this fits in and affects our ongoing Epic NWF Campaign.

    PS - I can’t wait to get my hands on my T-shirt, excellent design and execution Shawn.

    Cheers,
    Sgt. Guinness

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    Replies
    1. Saaarrrrge!!! THANKS for posting, my brother!!! Wish you were there too, that's one of the few things that could've made it an even better time! Maybe next year??? Have to agree, Shawn and his nephew did a fantastic job on those shirts!

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  2. Good Stuff Mad Guru. Thanks for the opportunity to meet some great gamers and run an awesome game. Also to see all that terrain in person, still blown away.

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    Replies
    1. Hmmm. Looks like I should've told Sgt. Guinness "MAJ O'Malley" and his nephew did a fantastic job on those shirts! You're very welcome, my friend -- and thank you for the same, as I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made the trek if it had meant setting up, running the game, and packing it all up myself! My buddy Frank would have done all he could to help, but that would have cut way into his own gaming time. Hopefully next year you can be blown away again by seeing the river boards that go with the same terrain -- be it for Kandahar 1880... or maybe another "Never Trust Anyone on the Frontier!" campaign game that happens to involve a river or two?

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  3. Thomas "Devil in a Skirt" Fraser,

    Great game with a great group of guys. The Highlanders will eventually forgive me I hope :)

    Hope to see Shawn and you next year

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    Replies
    1. TOMMMMMMMM!!! Thanks very much for posting!!! Great job at the game! You and your fellow Pathan commanders played the long-game and remained patient for turn after turn before releasing the Kraken, so to speak! At the same time I don't know if you'll ever be allowed back into Scotland proper, considering what you did to those 92nd Highlanders.

      It's a very mutual feeling and I very much hope that Shawn and I can manage to see you -- and your gaming buddies -- there again next year!

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  4. Congratulations, looks like a great game from here and sounds like tons of fun!
    Best Iain

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    Replies
    1. Thanks very much, Iain! Indeed it was. I'm very happy Shawn and I were able to pull it off.

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  5. Ethan, thank you for this wonderful game. I had fun and the miniatures and terrain were fantastic !!! Sylvain

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    1. Sylvain, my new-found friend, THANK YOU so much for taking the time and effort to comment here on my blog!!! Sorry it's taken me almost a week to reply, which is due to "blogspot" administration issues, AKA: my own shortcomings re: technology! I think Shawn and I had as much fun running the game for you and your friends & foes (on the Anglo-Indian side) as you did playing! I don't like to overstate things, but I do believe it was an awesome convention experience for everyone involved. I really hope to see you at a wargames table again some day... maybe at next year's "DESERT WARS 2023" if they hold it, and if you are able to visit from Indiana, and I -- hopefully with help from Shawn -- am able to return with another game.

      Delete
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