This post should have been appearing back in March. However, General Winter came a calling and the final run of Operation Dragon’s Hoard was delayed due to the show being cancelled after an unexpected amount of snow.
In my last post on Operation Dragon’s Hoard, I covered some major tweaks I’d made to the plane to make it look more crashed. I also covered some other tweaks I’d thought of making to add some extra detail. However, I ran out of time to make these alterations. They might be something I come back to in the future but honestly I think the game looked pretty great anyway.
The only other tweak I haven’t previously mentioned was to add some low cover for the insurgents. This was the Spectre Jersey Barriers I covered last week. This low cover was designed to give the militia a bit more staying power, especially after the great explosives massacre that was game 3 at Vapnartak.
After a night spent in York and a 1:30 drive down to Newark, Peeb and I managed to get to the Gamer’s Lounge to set up one hour before opening. Everything was really well organised, with easy access to the venue and plenty of parking. The switch over to using bubble wrap rather than the foam blocks continued to be a better choice. Unfortunately, just after setting up we spotted some large chunks of plaster surface that had cracked in transit and would need repairing. Luckily there were some big chunky terrain that could cover it up.
As you can see, we did a few little tweaks to the game layout. The biggest addition is the construction buildings from Supreme Littleness Designs, adding some much-needed vertical elevation to the board. Combined with the jersey barriers, it now looks like the plane has come down close to an abandoned building turned militia stronghold. I also assembled the two adobes to be a little less square. Is this practical town planning? Not really. Does it look better? Yes.
During the first game of the day (traditionally run between myself and Peeb while everyone attending was in “look around the show” mode) we had a good few pieces of action. This was the shot just after one of the operators loosed an AT4 round down range to knock out the MMG team on the first floor. Adding in the multiple levels really helped to make the game more interesting, especially as it gave the insurgents a slight advantage in a few cases.
And here it is again from the Operator eye view. Picking up the teddy bear stuffing and painting it for smoke clouds really adds something to the game.
Later in the game, four of the operators stack up on the edge of the plane.
Partway through the game, one of the RPG gunners spotted a possible shot by threading his explosive payload under the wings. Instead, thanks to a scatter roll, he managed to catch himself in the blast radius.
Game 1 ended with the BLUFOR having wiped most of the enemy off the board, popped smoke and then began to retreat with black box in tow. All at the cost of one killed operator and some injuries.
Board reset for game 2 – a few different operators ready for the players to use.
As always, blowing the cockpit is among the first objective everyone does.
For game 2, I decided to tweak the setup and have a technical waiting on the board. Thanks to a very low body value, this turned up once the players had started moving and so required a bit of careful planning. In the end, the technical managed to cause some injuries before being shredded by close range assault rifle fire.
What couldn’t be planned for was a lucky RPG shot flying straight across the board to hit a Good Samaritan trying to heal up an injured colleague. The RPG was a perfect shot and 6D10 damage has a habit of overwhelming even body armour.
I spent the final game talking to a few people so didn’t see much of the action. However, it sounded like the insurgents caused a fair amount of damage to the oncoming operators.
With the last game done, it was pretty quick to get the game packed up and begin the drive back to York. Overall, running a game at Hammerhead was great fun. Although I kind of wish we had been in the main hall rather than the Gamer’s Lounge so as to get the most eyes on it, it was still quite busy. The team behind Hammerhead was great, with plenty of emails and help on the day to making running the game super smooth. I also got some really nice feedback and advice from the Mantic rep at Hammerhead which made me start planning ahead.
Also The Terrain Tutor covered my board in his video – click here
With this being the last run, and no more game days planned due to real life work, I think it’s time to look back at the project.
What Went Well:
- It Got Done – This was a project that went from initial concept to execution in just over a year. I managed to get four runs out of the game, going to multiple different shows and getting a lot of people to have eyes on the game. Everyone who played it seemed to enjoy it so it’s safe to say mission accomplished
- Crashed Plane – The crashed plane, the very expensive cornerstone of the map, was a risk. But in the end if fulfilled the role I intended it to have – it caught the eye, with plenty of people rubbernecking as they walked around the various shows.
- Scenario – Simple idea (recover crashed plane), multiple fun objectives (especially with multiple BLUFOR players) and a great show of the Plausible Deniability’s rules with stealth and new weapon systems.
- Gradual Evolution – Although not the traditional way, varying and improving on the game between shows meant that even people who had seen the game before still stopped at the table to check in and look at the tweaks. It also meant that the work was spread throughout the project rather than being front-loaded before the game even hit the board.
- Skirmish Sangin – I finally got to show Skirmish Sangin (and my book) to people. A common phrase said while near the board was “I’ve heard of Skirmish Sangin/own a copy but I’ve never played it”. As it’s a ruleset I very much enjoy (enough that I wanted to write a book for it), getting to show it off was really great.
What Didn’t Go Quite So Well:
- Game Length – Due to the game lasting 2 hours, we only managed to get 3 games run through at each show. With game one normally being between me and peeb, this massively reduced how many people actually got a chance to play. When I next run a game, I’m going to aim for something closer to 1 hour. As for what I would change I’m not sure. Possibly reducing the number of figures or switching to a slightly faster playing ruleset.
- The Boards – I used my Ford Fiesta for transportation which meant I had limited space. As much as they looked fantastic, I’m in half a mind if I would use moulded boards again. They were very heavy and had to be repeatedly repaired after breaking chunks of the surface up.
- Pick Your Team – This was an idea I had to take advantage of the cards I had printed for the teams but as cool as the idea was, it didn’t quite work – it was very hard to balance and I’m not sure it was as exciting as my brain thought it was.
- Multiple Missed Targets – As you may have noticed, a few of these posts included comments about “not managing to do tweaks I’d want to”. This meant there were ways I could have improved the game but missed out on due to time. Next time I think needs a bit more planning.
Overall though, the Operation Dragon’s Hoard game has been a pretty great experience. I got to go to various wargames show, get people playing moderns and show off something I’ve made. I’m already thinking a game we might do next, possibly inspired by the recent trip to London for Salute. So maybe you’ll be seeing another set of project posts coming soon. But not for a while – I have to work out where I’m storing all this stuff.