For the sixth year in a row, the HAWKs rang out the new year at Casa Surdu with an evening of gaming. Though many of the regulars were unable to attend, we still had a large crowd — 12 gamers plus a couple of kibitzers. The plan was to play three games. The first was the traditional Santa Claus game using GASLIGHT. The second was a large X-Wing game with almost everything I have. And the final game for 2014 was Red Dragon Inn.
The first game was set in my pulp town of Granville, Illinois. We used To Be Continued… by GASLIGHT as the rules. In this scenario Santa has been shot down by Venusians and crashed near the Sinclair gas station. (You don’t see the sleigh in this shot, because I took it before Chris arrived with the sleigh.) The objective of the good guys was to gather up as many packages as possible and get them to Duke Morrison’s waiting airplane, the Anything but a Twenty, for subsequent distribution to deserving boys and girls. The various groups of gangsters who inhabit the town were trying to gather the presents for themselves. In addition, the Venusians (see the gold space ships in the park not far from Duke’s plane), were trying to capture the sleigh and/or reindeer so that they could study the technology. There was also a small group of Nazi Fifth Columnists in the town who were interested in capturing Santa’s giant mechanical nutcracker and clockwork Santas.
The packages were scattered around town, and the gangsters were likewise distributed in buildings. Duke Morrison, “Boats” Morgan, “Wrench” Web and their soldiers and sailors started near the Anything But a Twenty. The Venusians began near their ships. Santa and a few of his units landed near the Sinclair station. Nearby were professor Serafini Nannini and his lab assistants, who moved to investigate the crash, as well a group of friendly snowmen and snowball fighting kids who had a vested interest in helping Santa.
Many of Santa’s other allies, like teddy bear infantry, toy soldiers, additional kids with snowballs, Moonraiser’s Marauders, and additional snowmen arrived in the first few turns, their arrival location being randomized.
The HAWKs tradition is for my son to be Santa. The other unfortunate tradition is that Santa always has gotten killed. When my son was younger, that was disheartening for him. This year he didn’t want to play Santa, but we made him anyway. Spoiler alert: Santa lived.
The game began with Santa righting his crashed sled and calling four remaining reindeer to his assistance. Four reindeer weren’t enough to lift the heavily-laden sleigh, but they were enough to pull it slowly. In addition the clockwork Santas and giant nutcracker were enlisted to push the sleigh as well.
Hermie and Rudloph jumped into a nearby roadster and, after a slight mishap which involved getting their car stuck in a hedge — it turns out that Hermie is a poor driver, they began collecting packages. The nearby friendly snowmen collected packages and brought them to Santa while a group of kids with snowballs repulsed a group of gangsters and pursued a second one.
At the other end of the town, another group of snowball wielding kids and a group of penguins battled with angry snowmen and gangsters to secure an egress route for Santa.
Angry snowmen and gangsters tried to set up a roadblock to stop Santa’s sleigh while other gangsters (on the street to the left of the one in this picture) set up a bucket brigade to haul packages from a building to a “borrowed” bus.
Moonraiser’s Marauders (from the Island of Misfit Toys) attacked Bonnie’s gangsters, but took the worst end of the subsequent melee. This gave Bonnie, Harry the Horse, and the Limey’s gangs an opportunity to try to cut off Santa’s movement toward Duke’s plane.
Yukon Cornelius and the Bumble, hitched their red and yellow panel van to Santa’s sleigh and began towing it up the road. This freed up the reindeer to fly to the rooftops of Granville business to retrieve presents that fell during Santa’s crash landing. At the same time, Duke Morrison was battling Venusians and other bad guys. Tanks as having a bad dice night, rolling many 20’s. It was probably inevitable that Duke would be incapacitated before the end of the game.
Many of the gangsters began trying to ram into either the panel van or the sleigh itself to stop it. At the same time, the Nazi “she wolves” boarded the sleigh and engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Santa. At this point, I was worried that Santa was going to die again this year, but he passed all his Save rolls and cleared the sleigh of enemy boarders. The Venusians came alongside in a “borrowed” vehicle and began shooting at Santa. Still Santa Saved, while toy soldiers and teddy bears defended the sleigh. After four hours of play, we determined that there was nothing the bad buys had left in their bag of tricks to stop Santa from linking up with Duke Morrison’s men.
The final count on presents was 24 to the good guys and 14 to the bad guys. Santa lived. It was a convincing good guy victory.
I tore down Granville (a significant task) while everyone partook on breaded chicken over pasta with garlic bread. The chicken recipe came from my aunt and was prepared much earlier in the day. My wife heated it up while we finished the GASLIGHT game. This gave me time to put away all the buildings and figures.
The second game we played was X-Wing. I wanted to put all — or nearly all — of my X-Wing ships on the table. Each player had three fighters or perhaps a smaller number of larger ships. Bill brought the Deep Space Nine station from the Star Trek version of the rules to use as a communications satellite. This became the objective. The rebels swooped in to knock it out, but were surprised to find that it was fully operational and guarded by several squadrons of Tie Fighters. Does that sound like the plot of Empire Strikes Back?
Some of the rag tag group of rebel ships were piloted by experts. Some of the ships were older relics piloted by novices. The Empire had a couple of aces, but also a couple of academy rookies. The rebels also had the Mellinium Falcon piloted by Han Solo and a small cruiser.
I don’t know if Princess Leah was on board, but this ship was impressive on the table — even though it was armed with just a single weapon.
The Tie Fighters ganged up on the Falcon, eventually turn it into an impressive fireball. While the Falcon was keeping many of the imperial fighters busy the other rebel battle group ground their way toward the communications station. Despite heavy losses, they reached the station and were surprised by the heavy armament. Several rebel fighters exploded as they approached.
The communications satellite was an easy target. Despite the many shields, the rebels eventually punched through and began inflicting damage. Then the cruiser came into range and began to fire. A turn or two later, the communications satellite too exploded. A good night for the rebels!
X-Wing ended about 1130. While my wife passed around champaign in anticipation of the ball dropping in Times Square, we set up what we thought was going to be a quick game of Red Dragon Inn. The game ended close to 2:00 AM with Bruce finally besting my daughter.
I’ve never understood the fascination with New Year’s Eve, but these marathon gaming sessions, while somewhat exhausting to host, are a nice way to finish out the year and start the new year. What’s not to like about good food and fun games with buddies?! I played my 42nd and 43rd miniatures games for the year — falling short of my 50-game goal.