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Subject: Bottoscon 2015: what a weekend! rss

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Peter Collins
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This past weekend, I attended Bottoscon in Surrey B.C. for the second year. The host, Rob Bottos, toldus that this year broke the previous attendance record with 112 or so attendees. I was able to play my favorite games and learned one or two others as well. Also, of course, I acquired a few new titles.

I'll definitely be back next year. If you have never attended this event and you enjoy wargaming, you owe it to yourself to mark your calendar for Bottoscon 2016, November 4th through 6th, 2016.

Here, I'll share my highlights from this year's event.

Enjoy!

EDIT: Figured out how to upload my photos, which were stored on my desktop as email links, duh. Sorry for the graininess of the photos, but you can still see what's going on. Now to figure out how to enlarge them.

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Robert Wesley
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Does any of you attend "Enfilade" over in Olympia, WA during our "Memorial Day"-weekend? There is even something this upcoming February around Issaquah, just outside of Seattle along I-90 and it is hoped to eventually meet up with some of you there, or wherever and whenever. You want primarily 'minis'? Let's find out, eh?
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Peter Collins
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Started out on Friday with the Up Front tournie, organized by Duncan Rice. In spite of the fact that this was my first time playing the game (except for a learning session with my wife a few weeks ago), I had a great time. UpFront is instantly one of my top three or four games. Such a classic. Play is intuitive, once you can interpret the archaic rules set and the narrative that the game generates is unmatched.

Here is my loss, 4 unpinned at range 4 in defensible terrain.



I had one loss and an epic draw against the eventual tournament winner, Sage Schreiner.



In the draw, as the Americans, I was able to infiltrate Sage's German group, containing a pinned trooper and his squad leader with my squad leader, the rest of whose group had perished. In his turn, Sage successfully infiltrated my squad leader. I put the panicky guy to the knife, which brought both squads down to half-strength. The next casualty would determine the winner. Sage initated close combat and the two squad leaders went at it, Mano a mano. His CCV strength was one more than mine, he drew a 0. Needing just a 2 RNC for the victory, I drew a...1! Both squad leaders dropped dead and the remnants of their depleted squads routed the battle field. Classic.
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Richard Boyes
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Any specifics on what you played at Bottos?

What are the hot games these days?

I'll be at Game On in Issaquah.

Thanks for the report.
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Peter Collins
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Next, Sage and his buddy Justin introduced me to Triumph & Tragedy the newest release by one of my favorite designers, Craig Besinque.

This thing is awesome, especially if you aren't too picky about staying close to the historical narrative in a wargame. Sage and I were new to the game and Justin had only played once. Perhaps our play was...er...suboptimal.

As the Western Allies I diplomatically took Poland and had a blast interfering in the Soviet and Axis diplomatic plans. But I had low production and was unable to build up my troops as quickly as the other two. Justin invaded Paris and I was worried that I'd be facing an early exit from the game. In desperation I invaded the Ruhr from England, leaving London with a single one CV naval unit defending. Combined with the increasingly vicious Soviet/Axis struggle, I was able to fend off the Germans in the west. At the end, my occupation of Leningrad was very short-lived and I groaned when Justin pointed out that had I taken the vacant Baku in the same turn, which I could have done with a single armor unit two spaces away, I would have won the game.

As it was, Comrade Sage and I drew with 15VP each while Justin was close behind at 13VP. It was a very long, tense session. We ended at 2:30 a.m. That left me with 4 hours sleep before Saturday morning's session.

EDIT: Richard, T&T may have been the hot draw for the weekend. At times there were two or even three games in progress concurrently. Everyone who tried it seemed to love it and I heard several people say they were going to pick it up at the earliest opportunity. Including me.
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On four hours sleep, I was wiped out from the previous night's T&T session, but I was stoked to play my all time favorite game after a too long hiatus. Duncan Rice and I setup for the Battleaxe scenario of Rommel in the Desert.

We thrusted, parried, counterthrusted, bluffed and more or less chewed our fingernails off for three glorious hours. The best part of the game was when we had three battles going at the same time as Duncan fought to lift the siege of Tobruk, while my panzers tried to bludgeon their way across his lines of supply. In the end, Duncan prevailed, winning a fairly close attritional victory. Well played.



So, two Besinque designs in two days. Not bad. Man I love RitD. Duncan repeatedly said, "I forgot how much I love this game."



Again. Classic.
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On no rest, two beers and a couple of shredded lamb sliders, I fought my rematch of Up Front(the epic draw described above) against Sage.

My evening session was Pacific Victory, another block game, another classic.

My opponent, Geoff Conn, had been eager to try out this title and I was excited to play it again after a couple of years since my first plays against my wife.

The main concern, voiced by Geoff, was the game's notorious play balance reputation. I always sort of shrug when that issue is raised about a PTO game. "Of course it's unbalanced, Japan can't win." But we house-ruled an easier instant win condition (16PP instead of the 20 called for in the rules) for the Japanese side and Geoff took full advantage of the opportunity. Since he started the scenario at 14PP, there was the potential that this could be a very short game.

First demonstrating hard in the Western Pacific, then feinting at Anchorage in the north, he concentrated his assualt on India, trying to knock the British out of the war and take the win. It was only a tactical oversight, in which I was able to Strategic Move three naval blocks across his line of supply, that foiled his dream of Asia for the Asiatics.

Here's Geoff early on, laying his plans:



The best part of the game was the conversation. Geoff raised some excellent concerns about the rules as written and we had a fun time figuring out the logic of those rules. In the end, Geoff said he'd like to play again and even would like to obtain a copy of the game.

Pacific Victory is currently out of stock at Columbia Games. Given the recent talk about the state of the art in block wargames, I think that PV is an obvious candidate for a thoughtful and innovative reworking. It's a diamond in the rough.

Columbia Games, if you're listening, I'll bet that you could find willing play-testers in such an effort. Just voicing a hunch.
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Peter Collins
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I got a better night's sleep and woke up Sunday refreshed for yet another epic block game session. This time, Chris Gillmeister and I took out Napoleon's Triumph for a spin. It was my fifth play and Chris's first. Once again, tension was the order of the day.

We played slowly at first, while Chris got his head around the implications of movement and I tried to ease us into the battle procedure after a few feints. Chris is a quick-study though and he soon had me back on my heels, driving hard with three strong corps against the stalwart General Legrand on my right flank.

You see him here, loading up on my right flank:



I responded with an aggressive thrust at his center in which I spent Lannes corps in order to place a single strength two cavalry block behind his lines. Inefficient.

I played the feint game and was able to peel block after block off his corps. I zigged further right and forward, advancing Vandamme to the Pratzen where he faced off against Leichtenstein in a tactical stalemate. I could neither advance nor retreat, without putting myself in jeopardy.

In the meantime, Chris patiently positioned himself for a three pronged assault on Legrand that would have completely opened my right flank. However, a lucky guess on my part enabled me to attack a single artillery unit in the approach with a three strength cav that routed two of his corps and caused a 5 point morale drop on the Allies.
It was an unfortunate mistake. Chris was still able to keep the heat on, but we were forced to call the game early and he didn't have the chance to put the question to me again.

For my part, I was looking at the left where all game long Bessieres and Bagration had stood staring at each other like two wall flowers at the high school dance. I was thinking, "this would be a good time for Bernadotte and Davout to scurry down that highway for the win." It would have been interesting to see what would have happened.

Maybe we'll find out next year, hey Chris?

This shot shows the end position, with Vandamme heavily engaged, the aftermath of the Allied debacle on the right, and an open highway leading north:





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Peter Collins
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I closed out this year's Bottoscon with a spirited and fast-played session of Hammer of the Scots against Ben Vanderlei, who is an excellent blockgamer. As the Scots, he efficiently marched Wallace through the Highlands, persuading the Scottish nobles one after the other to join his cause. This done, he turned his eyes south and systematically demolished England's finest, time after time.

In my defense, I only drew the Edward block twice early in the game. One of those times, we both played event cards and ended the year early. Lacking sufficient infantry supporting, the Longshanks grumbled his way back to the draw pool, and was never seen again. It's hard to be competitive in this game if you can't get your best block on the board regularly.

But that takes nothing from Ben's effort. He was relentless and I'd have been hard put to find a victory in any case.

Well played Ben!

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Peter Collins
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So it was a very "blocky" weekend for me and I loved every minute of it. What I love about Bottoscon is that it's predominantly a wargamer's convention. To be sure, there were other games being played, but the grognards were out in force for this one. I really enjoyed the enthusiasm that everyone displayed for their games. We played to win, but sportsmanship was the order of the day, and a camaraderie among people passionate for their hobby was plainly evident.

The highlight of the whole thing was when the widow of a fallen gamer arrived to distribute her late partner's games to the community. People paid her a fair price for the games and I saw that there were many classic and even rare titles on offer. Her comment was, "I just want my husband's games to go to people who will appreciate them and play them." It really put a fine point on the whole weekend.

Thanks again to Rob Bottos for organizing this excellent event. I'll see you all again next year.

Cheers for now.

'nuf sed.

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Peter Collins
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P.S.

I forgot to mention, I made some very nice acquisitions at Bottoscon 2015. Here's the list:

Nothing Gained But Glory
La Bataille d'Orthez
Lobositz: First Battle of the Seven Years War
Pax Porfiriana
Soviet Dawn: The Russian Civil War, 1918-1921 with the expansion
Ottoman Sunset: The Great War in the Near East 1914-1918
Shining Path: The Struggle for Peru and the designer Brian Train autographed the map.

Again, what an awesome weekend.

Cheers again,

trotsky
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Richard Boyes
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Excellent AARs. Thanks. You appear to have had a great convention.

Now who has some photos?

I better get with it next year.
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Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
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I had a great time too. I clearly should have posted about my weekend here instead, but here's my con report..

Roger goes to BottosCon 2015: A Mere Matter of Gaming
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Geoff C
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PeteyWA wrote:


Here's Geoff early on, laying his plans:



The best part of the game was the conversation. Geoff raised some excellent concerns about the rules as written and we had a fun time figuring out the logic of those rules. In the end, Geoff said he'd like to play again and even would like to obtain a copy of the game.

Its tops of my list right now! Great game, thanks for hosting it.
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Justin F
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PeteyWA wrote:
Next, Sage and his buddy Justin introduced me to Triumph & Tragedy the newest release by one of my favorite designers, Craig Besinque.

This thing is awesome, especially if you aren't too picky about staying close to the historical narrative in a wargame. Sage and I were new to the game and Justin had only played once. Perhaps our play was...er...suboptimal.

As the Western Allies I diplomatically took Poland and had a blast interfering in the Soviet and Axis diplomatic plans. But I had low production and was unable to build up my troops as quickly as the other two. Justin invaded Paris and I was worried that I'd be facing an early exit from the game. In desperation I invaded the Ruhr from England, leaving London with a single one CV naval unit defending. Combined with the increasingly vicious Soviet/Axis struggle, I was able to fend off the Germans in the west. At the end, my occupation of Leningrad was very short-lived and I groaned when Justin pointed out that had I taken the vacant Baku in the same turn, which I could have done with a single armor unit two spaces away, I would have won the game.

As it was, Comrade Sage and I drew with 15VP each while Justin was close behind at 13VP. It was a very long, tense session. We ended at 2:30 a.m. That left me with 4 hours sleep before Saturday morning's session.

EDIT: Richard, T&T may have been the hot draw for the weekend. At times there were two or even three games in progress concurrently. Everyone who tried it seemed to love it and I heard several people say they were going to pick it up at the earliest opportunity. Including me.
Such a great game. If I had known you had a single naval unit in London, I would have brought all force to bear on England ASAP. Still can't believe I couldn't take Paris in that attack...

Anyway, really nice meeting you and playing with you. Lot of epic moments last weekend. Can't wait to do it again next year!
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GROGnads wrote:
Does any of you attend "Enfilade" over in Olympia, WA during our "Memorial Day"-weekend? There is even something this upcoming February around Issaquah, just outside of Seattle along I-90 and it is hoped to eventually meet up with some of you there, or wherever and whenever. You want primarily 'minis'? Let's find out, eh?
cool
Been to Enfilade a few times. It has predominantly been miniatures with a smaller array of boardgames. Great convention if that's your thing.

The "other" con you mention is Game On! at the Holiday Inn in Issaquah which will be held 2/4-2/7 in 2016. Given the size of the place, there is a cap of 150 people and they are likely to hit that cap this year. This is a war gamers delight with beer service on the floor.

Like Game On!, Bottoscon is mostly war-games. The format is individual players setting up games. The tournament organizer sets up table space and keeps the calendar. I attended again this year and got in games of 2nd Fleet, MBT, World at War and Age of Renaissance. There were a few monster games set up for weekend and a bit ASL tournament. Great con experience.
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Geoffrey Phipps
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Rulesjd wrote:


The "other" con you mention is Game On! at the Holiday Inn in Issaquah which will be held 2/4-2/7 in 2016. Given the size of the place, there is a cap of 150 people and they are likely to hit that cap this year. This is a war gamers delight with beer service on the floor.
Clarification - they'll serve you beer even if you are not lying on the floor

g

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