Sunday, July 31, 2022

Kammebalango's Capital Rocked by Factional Warfare as President's Motorcade Fired Upon

    Mysterious helicopter with unknown intentions hovers over the capital of Kammebalango
This trip to Historicon, the first since 2018, would be an experiment of sorts. Normally, I bring one of our First Command Wargames rules sets to run at the show. This time around, I was running two of my rules - both Mean Streets gang warfare and Wars of Insurgency modern skirmish. To make this more doable, I created scenarios for both that could utilize the same basic terrain. For Wars of Insurgency, the downtown area I used for Mean Streets became the capital of Kammebalango. I changed out the magnetic billboards to my third world Africa ones, and shifted the location of a couple buildings to create a "Z-shaped" route for the president's motorcade to move from the middle of one of the short edges of the 5'x4' area to the opposite corner.

President's motorcade & bodyguards roll through the capital streets - will he make it to the airport?
The scenario would be "To Kill A President," which I playtested last month at DayCon 2022. Each player controls a faction in the country with varying degrees of support or opposition to the President. One faction is the President's bodyguards, which are attempting to shepherd him safely off the table in the direction of the airport. He wants to attend a meeting of African leaders in Cairo, something the UN Faction opposes. The Ghanaian peacekeepers don't want to kill him, they just want to make sure he doesn't make it to that summit. The mercenary faction, on the other hand, has other plans for him. They are trying to kidnap the president and take him to a secure location where he can be intimidated into signing away mining rights to a Western corporation (who is paying for the Mercs).

    The president will be safe if the loyal Peoples Militia have anything to say about it!
On the other hand, the Peoples Militia wants to protect the president. He is the Great Elephant and beloved of the people. They don't care if he exits off the correct table edge or not. They just want to stick to him like glue and ensure his safety. Aiming to frustrate that, the Army Faction is in open rebellion and is attempting to assassinate the president. Their goal is the most straight forward. Finally, there is a mysterious new faction, Kammebalango for Kammebalangans (K4K). Their goal is to root out foreign influence, and they are kind of a wild card faction. They violently oppose both the Mercs and UN, but have no beef with the rebel Army faction. How aggressively this faction was played often was the hinge that the events of the game turned on.

How do the Ghanaian UN peacekeepers feel about the president attending that conference in Cairo?
In the final game on Saturday, K4K was fired on immediately by the People's Militia and presidential bodyguards, who were spooked by their advance. Ostensibly, they are an ally of the president -- though there is nothing in either faction's briefing to spell that out for them. This degraded the combat ability of K4K, and in the end, gave both the Mercs and UN more free reign. In this game, the President's motorcade was turned back. The president and his bodyguards took shelter inside an apartment building from the fire of the two mercenary helicopters, who were hosing down his escort vehicles with LMG fire. Not checked by K4K, the UN player enforced his own "no fire zone" in the vital intersection the president would have to pass through to escape.

    The answer would lie in the hands of these people - our players - who were a wonderful group!
The game on Saturday morning ended with the president alive and well-protected inside the building. His mission to fly to the meeting failed, but he was alive. The every-loyal Peoples Militia was at his side, meaning they had actually won a Major Victory. The UN won a Minor Victory as the president did not make his flight. However, he had not give up and left the table, preventing it from being a major one. The fate of the UN faction in the two runnings of this game at Historicon could not have been more dramatically different. In Friday night's game, everyone seemed to be taking pot shots at the UN. They were not completely eliminated, but they lost a substantial number of troops. On Saturday, the player really got into the role playing aspect of it, making announcements and doling out clues that kept the other players from firing upon him for most of the game. It was fun to see the blue helmets take on a leadership role in the progress of the game.

    First ominous signs - two APCs of an army unit roll onto the table, looking angry, fingers on triggers
Unlike at DayCon, where the president succeeded (barely) in getting off the table, neither game went according to script for the beleaguered Kammebalangan president. He was turned back in Friday night's game, and on Saturday had to exit his motorcade and take shelter. On Friday, the Peoples Militia pulled off a surprise win, too. The father-son team playing President and People had a shocking ending to their teamwork. The militia actually fired upon the president's driver to prevent the limo from taking him out of their vicinity and "into danger." This sudden betrayal by a stalwart ally was the final nail in the president's hopes at getting off board. It made for a fun and interesting ending Friday night.

    Another warning sign - a helo lands on a rooftop disgorging a squad of mercs...followed by another!
Both groups of players did an awesome job and were loads of fun. When the president's turn came to move on Friday, his loyal players would immediately let out a cheer in honor of the Great Elephant. Once the shooting started, some of those turned to jeers. It was all in good fun and smiles were all around. On Saturday, the president was Steve from Little Wars TV. His role in the game is featured in their Historicon 2022 report on YouTube, which is well worth a watch. I encourage readers to check it out. They do a high tech, fast-paced and fun look at their attendance at historical miniature's biggest show in the States. Steve ended up buying both the Wars of Insurgency and Mean Streets rules. He seemed to have a great time, and was a perfect example of the great players we were lucky to have sign up and play for our games.

    The motorcade and Peoples Militia come under fire from the rebel army's APC-mounted HMGs
Steve's presidential motorcade was ruthlessly hounded by the mercenary helicopters in Saturday's game. The player was definitely the most aggressive and persistent in the use of the mercenary's air mobile assets I had seen yet in any of the three times I've run the game. The helicopters did take some hits, but neither were forced down like happened at DayCon. The Mercs plan looked like it might be working to fruition until one of his squads made the mistake of running across the street in the open. A burst of fire from K4K cut down three of the four professionals. These losses hamstrung his firepower and made him give up on his attempt to nab the president.

    Even the president's (or is it his decoy's?) up-armored SUV begins to take hits from the HMGs
I may have to give the Mercs a few more troops in future runnings of the game (though technically they have the highest starting point total). So far, none of the mercenary factions have laid hands on the president or even been within one move distance of him. None of the three players expressed any dissatisfaction with their lot in the game, though. On the contrary, they seemed to enjoy the challenge of planning and executing a Special Ops mission. So, maybe I'll leave it "as is," and see if future Dogs of War surprise me and pull off a victory in the scenario.

    A look at the table for 'To Kill a President' and our Friday night players -- a fun, boisterous group
The rebellious army faction was played aggressively, as well, in both games. They have a clear-cut mission and in both games hammered away at their enemies. The key to their survivability is to not make unnecessary enemies. Both games saw their firepower diluted by responses from either K4K or the UN, who should not be an enemy as the scenario is set up. Both games saw their forces slowly dwindling due to the attrition of attacks by other factions.

    A squad of mercenaries descends the stairs after disembarking from their helo on the hotel roof
One of the things I almost included in the scenario was for the army and UN to be able to set up barricades. This could be burning tires or a bus or other vehicle blocking the road. However, I felt that this might make it too difficult for the president to escape. I certainly can't have them completely block the road, otherwise I would need to include mechanics for removing the barricades. I don't know, though. The three games of it I have run so far were all fun, interactive, and all the players said they had a great time. Maybe I will leave it alone?

    Too much fire coming from the intersection forces the presidential motorcade to divert down an alley
Another success, I feel, was using similar terrain setups for Wars of Insurgency and Mean Streets. I feel my mostly Sarissa Precision buildings work equally well for my 28mm gangs and 20mm modern forces. This has been a definite success, and I will likely continue to do this in the future. As the sole author of these two sets, it is kind of up to me to run games of it to promote the rules. This pairing of events allows me to run both games in one day, as I did Friday at Historicon. I may do the same thing at Advance the Colors 2022, the October convention for HMGS Great Lakes.  I even have an idea for a new terrain set up that would work well for both games. Stay tuned for details on that!

    In most games, the Mercs and rebel army realized they were allies and poured fire into the motorcade

All in all, I want to thank my players for being such great groups of wargamers to roll dice with. We all know how one sourpuss can cast a pall over a game, and that did not happen in any of the Mean Streets or Wars of Insurgency events at Historicon. It was fun to have my buddy from South Carolina, Jason M, play in each event, too. And of course, thanks to Jenny for helping me run all four events. If you watch the Little Wars TV report, you will see her there in the First Command Wargames shirt ably running the game on Saturday morning.

    Unfortunately for the president's enemies, the K4K faction tipped the balance against them
With all four games successfully run, and the terrain and miniatures packed away, I could relax and enjoy the remaining hours of the convention. So, what does that mean to an avid wargamer? Shopping in the Exhibit Hall, of course! As I was running my final game Saturday morning, my friend Jason texted me to let me know the last of my DBA armies had sold at his flea market table. I ended up with $340 in profit from minis that have been sitting on my shelf, unplayed, for nearly a decade. This would make my trip to the dealer area even more sweet!

    With little hope of kidnapping the president, a squad of mercs exfiltrates via their helicopter
What did I buy? First, I got some essentials. I picked up more wire spears for my Saga armies from Brigade Games. I use the North Star ones and trim them to length to be a javelin, spear, lance, or long thrusting spear. I also picked up some Howard Hues paints from Dayton Painting Consortium - I use these for my dry brushing as they are a bit thicker in consistency. I bought some Gamers Grass flower tufts from Michigan Toy Soldier Company. Lastly, I visited Pastimes on the Square, who make all kinds of great terrain for wargames. They had great pre-made and flocked hills, three to a bag, for $11 each. I ended up buying about six packs in all. My Saga hills are getting a bit abused or in need of an upgrade and these fit the bill perfectly for practicality and looks.

    Two of the Bad Squiddo Games animal packs I bought from Badger Games & Cotton Jim

Those were the "Needs." Next, were the "Wants." I went to the Badger Games booth and bought a pack of Crusader Miniatures Thureophoroi as mercenaries for my Republican Romans. I also picked up another pack of their Roman gladiators so that I have more figs for my students to use if I redo my gladiator game day this year. While I was there, I was captivated by their animal packs from Bad Squiddo Games. Between Badger's booth and Cotton Jim's, I picked up Freyja's Wildcats, Ravens, Beavers, Moose Family, and a very cool pack called "Angry Tree Stumps." These resin tree stumps appear to be carved into leering faces by a primitive tribe and will make perfect objective markers for Saga. Wait till you see in another post what I did with them to make them even cooler! The ravens will make good fatigue markers, preying upon corpses or body parts littering a battlefield. The other animals can be used in my French & Indian War games for hidden movement or decoy markers.

Crusader Miniatures purchases sitting on the 6'x4' fleece mat I bought from Shieldwall
Finally, there were the impulse purchases. Cotton Jim was running a 50% off sale on lots of Saga stuff, so I bought five different packs of warlords. I plan to paint these up and give them away as prizes in the upcoming Advance the Colors Saga tournament, Oct. 8, 2022. I also bought the Greek and Barbarian Age of Hannibal dice since they were 50% off, too. Who knows? I may paint one of those armies one day! The last impulse purchase was at Shieldwall Gaming Club's booth. I went back and forth whether to buy one of his 6'x4' neoprene ocean mats or a fleece mat I can use for basic land games. I ended up going with the fleece one. Jeff Gatlin was one of our incredibly generous sponsors at last year's Saga tournament, so I always like to support his booth when he attends a show that I visit.

    My "impulse purchases" - five packs of Saga warlords (50% off!) to be painted up as prizes for ATC
Doubtless, the money I made off of the DBA armies spurred some of my purchases, but I felt that I kept my buying under control this trip. I didn't sink money into a whole new period or rules set or anything like that. Everything I bought was either something I needed for a current project or supplies I was running low on. So, I guess "self-control" is a success, too! With my Wars of Insurgency games continuing the success of my earlier Mean Streets ones, it was an overall "win" on my visit to Historicon 2022. And though the president of Kammebalango did not get to Cairo, my trip east was a definite success!

    The Peoples Militia and his bodyguards escort the motorcade through a narrow alley

    Another look at our full Wars of Insurgency game being run at Historicon 2022


  1. Those FIBUA skirmish games looked really cool, as did the scenario and all the different factions - must have been a blast for all the players who took part!

  2. Thanks! That is probably the best part about how the games went -- all the players seemed to have fun...

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  4. Well, those were awesome looking games, Mike! Sorry I didn't get to see them in person when we were both at Historicon. Do you think you'll go to Fall In? If so, let's try to cross paths!

  5. Both the Wars of Insurgency and Mean Streets games were a lot of fun to play and visually outstanding.