Thursday, June 17, 2010

Drazi are Fight! Redux: It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times

Today was another fun game with Mark. We played with the same forces as last time, the additional twist being that 30% of my force could enter on turn 3 from a long board edge. So, to recap, I had 1 Primus Battlecruiser, 2 Demos Heavy Warships, and 4 Vorchans plus 7 flights of Sentri fighters. Mark had a mix of Drazi ships including cruisers, carriers and 3 missile ships. He also had the potential for Earth Force reinforcements, which he rolled for each turn to see if they arrived, consisting of two Hyperion-Alphas. I kept the two Demos warships off board and set up my forces, shading slightly to the right. Mark set up his forces in the centre of the far edge, with his missile ships well back. Again, this will be more of a synopsis of what happened, not a blow by blow account. As mentioned in the previous blog, ships are activated when their cards are drawn from a deck which can make for some tense situations. A ship can get destroyed before it gets a chance to shoot, but Mark does allow ships a last shot but the damage it can do is limited.

I needed to get the Primus off the far board edge and my plan was to try and keep it off to one side and screen it with the Vorchans and fighters. I sent the Vorchans ahead at their maximum speed without overthrusting and the Primus lumbered along behind them. My Vorchans closed quickly on the centre group of Drazi ships, destroying one of his escorts in the second turn and the Primus did some long range damage to a cruiser with two lasers, something like 17 points which was not bad. The retributive strike of the escort hurt one of the Vorchans, which was subsequently destroyed by the mass fire of the other Drazi ships. Mark's missile ships let loose a barrage of 18 missiles but they wouldn't hit until the next turn and hopefully my fighters and point defence would knock some of them out.

Turn Three went well for the Centauri, at least to start. Their cards came up early and often, including the two Demos heavy warships which were able to enter the fray. As a result, several Drazi ships were either destroyed or heavily damaged. The heavy warships moved in from from each flank, using there torpedo's and medium arrays to good effect with the Vorchans and the other Lasers from the Primus adding to the carnage. To get the lasers to bear I had to turn the Primus into the main area of combat, but the Drazi centre seemed to be crumbling quickly so I wasn't worried at that time. Mark was also maneuvering his remaining escort for a possible ramming run at the Primus. I damaged it with my medium arrays on the Primus and it was taken out by a Vorchan on the next turn. One of the Demos took heavy damage from Drazi fire and decided it was time to bug out.My fighters had moved up to screen against incoming missile attacks from the missile ships in Mark's backfield. He lost 5 missiles from one group as they failed to make their endurance test and dropped out. His fighters tied some of my squadrons but I was able to assign some to each missile strike. Unfortunately they were not at their best that day and failed to shoot down a single missile. I also failed to shoot any down with my point defence. 5 missiles got through on one of the Vorchans, hitting on a 5+ on a D6, all of which hit! That reduced the Vorchan to an expanding mass of gas and shrapnel. Another Vorchan had been damaged previously was also destroyed by missiles.

I managed to mop up his centre, but then made a major mistake. I was in range of his missile ships, but the Primus used it's point defence to take out a squadron of fighters, leaving it open to a full strike of 18 missiles, which did something like 22 points of damage. Earth Force, in the form of two Hyperion cruisers entered. Though they weren't able to do anything right away, they managed to get their lasers to bear on the next turn, destroying the Primus, and thus I could not win the game. I had a Demos and a Vorchan remaining and decided to fight on, with my goal being to destroy the last of the Drazi ships. I managed to get one of the missile ships, but then the Earthers had a remarkable string of luck. They both managed to get their rear facing medium lasers to bear, one on the Vorchan and one on the Demos. The Vorchan was heavily damaged, taking two critical hits. Mark rolled 15 on a d20 twice, which was +4 damage twice. This destroyed the Vorchan. The Demos was hit by a laser, and Mark rolled max damage (8 points), which also meant he got to roll again for damage as the laser was sustained. This second set of damaged blew the Demos out of the sky.

The game had looked so good around the mid point of turn 3, but it rapidly went downhill. Failing to deal with the big missile strike on the Primus was a critical error on my part. It must be said that it was a bit of a Phyrric victory for the Drazi, who had only two ships out of 9 remaining at the end of the battle. Mark also had some amazingly good die rolls. At least things went better than in the first game.

Next time we will be playing War of the Ring and I will be facing Elves, possibly with an Isengard force.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Pikeman's Pleasure

Last weekend there was an SCA event known as Pikeman's Pleasure which took place in the Canton of Petrea Thule, near Peterborough, Ontario. PP was one of the first events I remember attending in the SCA and it's still held at the same site, a community centre in Millbrook, Ontario. It's an event we hadn't been to in awhile, especially since we moved from Toronto to Guelph, which made it a 2 1/2 hour drive to get there. This year we decided to make the trek as there sounded like there would be some fun fencing and Matthew would get a chance to shoot his new bow. Eve had also promised a scroll and I could deliver my latest miniatures painting commission to my friend Dave and pick up the check.

The forecast for the Peterborough area for Saturday called for rain and possibly thunderstorms for the day, but we weren't worried as the site had access to a hockey arena so there was plenty of indoor space. We packed accordingly, which was sort of unfortunate as it turned out to be a beautiful summer day. We hadn't brought things like blankets and chairs or adequate hats. We were able to make do though as I did remember to pack the sun block and Eve bought a lovely red linen cap for herself. Elizabeth had an oatmeal coloured linen cap so she was covered as well. I had my flat cap which doesn't cover as well as my felt hat, but it was ok. We did have one blanket, a large Strawberry Shortcake throw in red and pink. Not exactly period looking but it would do.

The drive to the event was uneventful. We didn't get out of the house until 9:30 so we arrived at the site just after noon. The fencing was well underway by that point and it took us awhile to get set up in the shade of some trees. The first two tournaments were over by the time I got there, but I got to play lots of pick up bouts with folks, especially THL Gareth Cambell. He was a student of mine who has become one of the best fencers in our Kingdom, though I'm not sure how much my teaching had to do with it. He's one of the people who advanced to Provost at the same time I made my attempt. I'm planning on trying again at War of the Trilliums but fencing with him did not leave me brimming with confidence. He did have some very good suggestions though and I'm going to have to relax and think a bit more when I fence. I tend to be aggressive and it can get me into trouble. Baron Alyce was also there and she was about to armour down when I whined that I hadn't got a chance to play with her, so she very kindly offered to fence with me for a few passes. I was also able to beg Her Majesty to play with me and it was a fun series of bouts. I did manage to commit regicide a few times. The last tourney ended up not happening as there was a lack of fencers, but Eve did make me a wonderful baloney sandwich on crusty French bread which made up for a lot.

A fencer from Ottawa named Lars, an old friend who has returned to playing fairly recently, showed up even later than we did. He had brought all his stuff but most of the fencers had armoured down or were doing other things. I still had my stuff on so I offered to fence him which he thought was great. For somebody who was out of things for awhile he certainly is good, It was a tonne of fun crossing blades with him and he even let me play around with my two handed sword.

While I was off fencing Eve was looking after the kids. She was able to take Matthew out to the archery range so he could use his new bow, and he had a lot of fun. Someone offered to watch Elizabeth so Eve got shoot as well, something she hadn't done before. Apparently she did quite well and the archery marshal said she had excellent natural talent. We've always wanted to get an adult bow for the household so we may want to look into this a bit more now.

I watched Elizabeth while Eve attended Court to see the scroll she did get given out. It was an Award of the Maiden's Heart for another old friend of ours named Thorolfr inn smithr. On the scroll was the image of a Viking ship and the text of scroll was written in tiny runes on the planks that made up the sides of the ship. The badge of the Maiden's Heart was on the sail, along with a place for the Kingdom seal. The whole thing was highlighted in silver. I thought it looked awesome and was very appropriate for Thorolf as I know he would love to build a Norse ship some day. I saw him shortly afterwards and he seemed to really like the scroll, especially the runes.

We weren't staying for feast so we started packing up to go. One plan had been to try to visit some friends in Orono but we weren't able to get in touch with them. I asked Dave and Susan if they'd like to meet up for supper and they said sure. We would meet them at their new place in Ajax and go from there. We finished our packing and loaded up the car.

We pulled out of the site but quickly noticed an odd noise from the right rear quarter of our van. We stopped and the tire back there was quite flat! We could see an Esso station and garage just down the road from us so we pulled in there. Unfortunately the garage part was closed. We saw that there was a giant staple embeded in the tire. A couple of people there tried to help us out, but the spare tire, which is stored under the car, was badly rusted in place and would not drop down. The pump in our car wasn't able to re inflate the tire but there was an air pump at the station. We filled up the tire and drove back to the site of the event. We hoped we could find someone to help us out and as luck would have it, we did. The first person Eve encountered at the site was a Lady whose husband, Lord Varenko happened to be rather good with cars and after an epic struggle was able to get the spare down and installed. We haven't had the car for long and were kind of clueless about how to change the tire. Varenko and his Lady, Gypsy were of immense help to us and we are very grateful to them for there help. Varenk suggested that we get the tire patched at some place like Canadian Tire and it would be as good as new. The nearest Canadian Tire was in Peterborough and was probably closed by then.

We called Dave and Susan and asked them if we could stay over at their place and get the tire fixed on Sunday. They graciously agreed. The spare is a "doughnut" type, not a full sized tire. We did not want to try to get all the way back to Guelph on it, especially as we would have to travel on the 401. We took Hwy 115 to Hwy 2 and then across to Ajax, doing about 70 km per hour, which was all we dared to do with the emergency spare. Slow and steady wins the race.

We made it safely to Dave and Susan's new house and got the tour. It is a very nice house and they've added some lovely personal touches, especially some cool lighting based on designs by Frank Loyd Wright. The wall o' crossbows is also very nice, and they'll be quite well prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse. We ordered in pizza and watched the new Sherlock Holmes movie which was really quite good. We had the play yard so Elizabeth slept in that and the rest of slept on couches or air matresses. After the tire stress it was really nice to reach a safe haven. Thank God for good friends and friendly strangers.

Eve headed out the next morning to Canadian Tire and got the tire repaired. It didn't take much time and wasn't expensive. Eve showed me the staple, which was one of the huge ones used to hold down electrical cable. We hope someone didn't drive it into the tire on purpose as we were parked near the main drag and there were some bored looking kids around. After thanking our hosts again, to whom we are also immensely grateful, we made our way back to Guelph.

Despite the car troubles things turned out well, and we got to spend a pleasant evening with our very good friends. We got home safely and that is the most important thing of all.