Archive for the ‘Miniatures Games’ Category

Detroit Grand Prix at RIW Hobbies, June 9, 2017

Saturday, June 10th, 2017

On June 9, eight aficionados of the new Championship Formula Racing game gathered at RIW Hobbies & Games in Livonia, Michigan, to race the downtown Detroit Grand Prix. I just finished painting the track a couple of days before the race. We (actually, Richard White) used to have a large scale downtown Detroit track, but it was stolen from him at a game con a number of years ago.

Detroit Grand Prix track

Detroit (downtown) Grand Prix track, painted on a flat bedsheet.

Actually, there were seven of us ready to race, we had bid for starting positions and had lined up on the grid, and then Russ Herschler finally showed up at the last minute, so he got to start in the 8th (last) starting position on the grid. Jack Beckman and I had given some new folks to the game some instruction, and helped them configure their car specifications before we bid for starting position.

Detroit Grand Prix

The racers are ready to start the Detroit Grand Prix.

Detroit GP starting grid

An overhead view of the starting grid.

Jack Beckman had bid an enormous amount of Wear and Skill markers (mostly Skill), and so he had the pole position. Jack also brought his various 1:64 scale Formula One car collection, and most of us chose “vintage” 1960s-era F1 cars to race with. I used a green and yellow mid-1960s Lotus-Ford, while Jack went with a front-engined Ferrari roadster. Here’s a picture of Jack’s red Ferrari leading the race:

Detroit Grand Prix

Jack’s red Ferrari leads into the turn onto Atwater St, just before entering the Goodyear Tunnel. Richard’s car collection are all parked to the left of the track.

Unfortunately for Jack, his car was the first to run out of Wear, and he eventually crashed out of the race. Surprisingly, he was the only car to not finish the race. When the race was over, Jim Robinson took the checkered flag, Richard White was 2nd, and Garry Kaluzny was 3rd. It was a good race to help teach the rules, and even Richard White, who had a lot of previous experience playing Advanced Speed Circuit, learned the differences in rules between Advanced Speed Circuit and Championship Formula Racing.

Detroit GP finishing order

The finishing order of the Detroit Grand Prix. Jim Robinson’s car is at the left.

It was also cool to see Richard White’s Formula One car collection again.

Richard White's 1:64 scale F1 cars.

Richard White’s 1:64 scale F1 cars.

Richard’s collection is all the more remarkable because his cars were all hand-modified and hand-painted from stock Hot Wheels cars, back in the 1980s when you couldn’t buy “collectible” cars anywhere, much less over the Internet (as there was no Internet then).

We will have more Championship Formula Racing demo races on Saturday, July 1 at the Canton Public Library and at Warriors 3 in Wayne, Michigan, and on Friday, July 7 at Imperium Games (formerly Flat Land Games) in Wixom, Michigan. Come on out and join us!

Championship Formula Racing/Speed Circuit

Friday, June 9th, 2017

I was first exposed to the Avalon Hill version of Speed Circuit in the late 1970s, at a Metro Detroit Gamers MichiCon game convention. Someone (I can’t remember who) had made a very large scale track and used 1:64 scale cars. There were a number of us playing that game that day, but I don’t remember anything else about that race.

Speed Circuit large-scale track

Speed Circuit played on a hand-made large-scale track at MichiCon, circa 1978.

I then bought the Avalon Hill version of Speed Circuit, but couldn’t find any other folks to play it with. It seems none of my gaming friends were interested in auto racing games. About that same time, I played USAC Auto Racing at local MDG game cons. I believe it was Don Walker who made a large scale Indy 500 track and used painted Mattel Hot Wheels cars. Don stopped running those events, so then I built a large scale Indy 500 track and bought and painted some Hot Wheels cars, and ran USAC Auto Racing at cons a couple of more times.

Then in early 1984, I took the regular sized board game of Speed Circuit to the Michigan Gaming Center in Ferndale, Michigan (it was on Woodward, just north of Nine Mile Rd.), one day. Interestingly, several other folks wanted to play it. After we got done racing, somebody suggested that we should make it a regular game. Then we proposed a series of races, like the real-life Formula One race series. We posted a flyer at the Michigan Gaming Center that looked sort of like this:

Speed Circuit flyer from 1985.

Speed Circuit flyer from 1985.

A number of other guys then contacted me, and after having another demo race, we started our 15-season race on March 16, 1984, racing the Brazilian Grand Prix around the Jacarepagua track. Tom Kane took the first pole position, and was leading the entire race, only to have Tony Ploucha pass him at the last corner, and then Tony won the race! I managed to finish 3rd after qualifying 11th (out of 13 racers), mostly due to retirements of other drivers.

That first Speed Circuit season in 1984 was won by Ray Eifler with 67 points (we used the 9-6-4-3-2-1 scoring system at that time). Richard White was 2nd with 62 points for the season, and Steve Zack was 3rd with 35 points. Race winners were Ray Eifler (5 victories), Richard White (2 victories), Andy Balent, Mark Hesskamp, Tom Kane, Tony Ploucha, Jim Robinson, Jeff Schwartz, Don Woodward, and Steve Zack. I managed to finish in 9th place with 19 points. We had a total of 26 different drivers during that season, and we averaged 12.8 drivers per race. The most drivers at a race was 17, at both Italy and Brands Hatch, and the fewest was 8, at Detroit.

At that time, we were using the various Avalon Hill Accessory Pack tracks, in standard board-game size. We were also using the plastic cars from USAC Auto Racing that I had painted like the real Formula One cars of the mid-1980s.

Avalon Hill's Silverstone track.

Avalon Hill’s Silverstone, England, track from Accessory Pack I.

Starting in 1985, I had to make some tracks that were not available from Avalon Hill. In particular, I made the downtown Detroit, Michigan track:

Detroit Grand Prix track.

Playing Speed Circuit on the 1983-1988 version of the downtown Detroit Grand Prix track.

Avalon Hill had a Detroit Grand Prix track you could buy, but it was of the 1982 course that had the hairpin turn at East Jefferson going into Chrysler Drive. The west end of the track wasn’t totally accurate, either, for either 1982 or for years 1983-1988. I got data for tracks from Road & Track magazine, but then I started buying the Autocourse books, which had much more detail about the races.

Autocourse 1983.

Autocourse 1983.

It was also evident that playing on small tracks made it hard for everyone to sit around the table and be able to see which of the miniscule cars was theirs. So, we started making large-scale tracks on bedsheets, using 1:64 scale Hot Wheels cars. Richard White made most of the large tracks, and also made most of the cars. I helped cut off a few sidepods and wings, but Richard did a magnificent job of molding new sidepods, engine cowlings, and made new wings. He then painted the cars to look like the real Formula One Ferraris, McLarens, etc. Richard even painted the driver’s helmets to look like the helmets of the real-life drivers. This was back in the era when you couldn’t buy “collectible” cars that were molded and painted like the real cars.

So then we eventually started playing on the large-scale tracks, with the larger cars, and it was much easier to have a large number of folks sit around the table and see the track and where their car was on the track.

Suzuka, Japan, track.

Large scale Suzuka, Japan, track.

Alas, I can’t find any pictures of our old Speed Circuit races using the large tracks, so the above picture is of one of the large-scale tracks that was made in our Speed Circuit days. We are using that track with Championship Formula Racing, though. You can see some of the CFR driver and speed cards on the table.

Championship Formula Racing

I ran the Speed Circuit campaign from 1984 until 1991. The Detroit-area campaign continued on without me for a few more years, then sort of faded away. Then, when I was GMing the Gutshot game at MDG’s WinterCon 2017, I met Jack Beckman. He was playing a Formula One style game with someone else, and as I am interested in auto racing board games, I started talking with Jack. He told me that a new game had just been published, Championship Formula Racing (henceforth known as CFR) from Jolly Roger Games, and that I should check it out as it was just like Speed Circuit (SC). Of course, when we played SC, we extended the rules and called our version of the game Advanced Speed Circuit (ASC). I downloaded the CFR rules, and while reading them, I thought, “these are almost exactly our old ASC rules!”

Championship Formula Racing.

Championship Formula Racing.

I exchanged some emails with the creator of CFR, Douglas Schulz, and he said he was given a copy of some “advanced” Speed Circuit rules from someone in the Baltimore area in the late 1980s. I believe they were a copy of our Detroit area ASC rules, as I had given copies to some folks in the Baltimore area when I attended an Origins game con there in the late-1980s.

There are a few differences between ASC and CFR. For one thing, CFR uses a simplified qualifying procedure where you “bid” some of your Wear and Skill markers; the higher bidders starting in front of the lower bidders. Also, we had used an attribute called “-2 DRM” and CFR uses “Skill” markers, where you can pre-designate using Skill to modify dice rolls. In our ASC days, we had actual qualifying sessions that were somewhat time consuming, but ensured that the better (or luckier!) drivers would start in the front.

CFR also uses different (optional) rules for pit stops than we did. In CFR, you just move your car off the track and into the pits, whereas in ASC you had to drive down pit lane and into your numbered pit stall. Probably the most interesting rule in CFR are the hard tires/soft tires rule (which is used with the optional pit stops). If using the pit stop rules, your car will only start with about 40% to 60% of the Wear it would have received if you weren’t using the pit stop rules. If you are on hard tires, your car will regain a few Wear every time it completes a lap. But the coolest thing (for us maniac drivers) are the soft tires. Soft tires will enable you to use Wear for some things that you would have had to roll dice for. In particular, if you are on soft tires and are 60 mph over the speed limit in a corner, you can use 3 Wears instead of having to use 2 Wears and roll a Chance (to see if you might spin out or crash).

Doug has also designed a number of tracks, especially newer tracks that didn’t exist in Speed Circuit’s heyday, and they are available as 8.5″ x 11″ printouts (downloadable from the Lucid Phoenix web page). I believe that Doug has given too many tracks “three-wide” sections of track (and the Monte Carlo track that comes with the board game of CFR is way overly simplified), but all-in-all, Doug has produced a lot of good stuff for folks who want to race cars in a table-top board game! I believe Doug’s philosophy is to produce playable games, whereas our dedicated ASC group were more into an accurate simulation of tracks.

CFR Nurburgring track.

CFR Nurburgring track.

We have a web page for our new local races using the CFR rules. Anyone who wants to race with us in the Metro Detroit, Michigan area, is welcome to attend our races. We have a demo race on Friday, June 9th, 2017, at 7:00 pm, at RIW Hobbies & Games in Livonia, Michigan. We plan on having races in several different game stores in the metro Detroit area, to even out the traveling miles and times for folks. This is so west-siders won’t always have to drive to the east side of town, or vice versa.

–Posted by Garry

Playing Gutshot at MDG’s Wintercon – Part II (aka “Carnage Asada”)

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

After I got done playing in the Siege of Budapest game near 7:00 pm on February 11, it was time to set up the wild west minis game I was running, “Gutshot.” I laid out a sand-colored piece of felt, then placed some cardstock buildings on the felt. BTW, the Gutshot rules are from Hawgleg Publishing, some folks from down Texas way. There are many wild west style “skirmish” rules out there for using with miniature figures, but Gutshot makes for a fast playing game at gamecons. There aren’t a lot of modifiers to figure out, so with a minimum of time spent teaching the basic game, players can be blazing away at each other right away!

Game Marshall Garry at Whitewash City

Game Marshall Garry at Whitewash City

I built the buildings out of cardstock, using the Whitewash City buildings that were designed by Eric Hotz. After downloading and assembling the free Imperial Saloon, I purchased the entire “Mother Lode” of buildingsĀ  which was a PDF file with more than 40 large buildings plus a number of smaller buildings and other accessories you could print. Although the buildings are supposed to be for 30mm scale minis, the stock buildings seemed small, so I enlarged them to 125% of their original size, then they seemed better proportioned to the western minis I used. So far I have built: Bank, Cafe, Imperial Saloon, J.H. McFarland Blacksmith, Livery & Feed Stable, McSweeny Dry Goods, Medical Building (doctor & dentist), Pioneer Hotel, Sheriff’s Office & Jail, Small Building Set 1 (bath house, small log cabin, two small sheds, and two privys). I also built a few watering troughs, some corral fencing, and couple of piles of lumber and a couple of wooden crates.

Whitewash City Sheriff's Office

Close up of the Whitewash City Sheriff’s Office

While the Whitewash City buildings are meant to be printed on cardstock, then cut out, folded, and glued together, I also added balsa/bassword/poplar wood as reinforcements for the corners and bottom edges. I also added some roof supports for large roofs, like with the Livery Stable building. While the Whitewash City buildings are not meant to have removable roofs, there are floor plans you can print of the interiors, and you can lift the entire building off its floor plan. I also glued the floor plans to foam-core board to keep them from warping, plus they won’t get bumped out of position as easily as if they were plain cardstock.

I also purchased a number of western miniature (mostly 25mm & 28mm) figures online from Noble Knight Games. Before Christmas 2016, Noble Knight had a sale on a whole passel of used, already painted, western minis, so I bought more than 50 minis. Being already painted saved me some time putting everything together. I also found some horses in about the right sizes from places such as Michaels crafts and Toys-R-Us, and they filled up the corral. I also made some hay bales from the “pluck foam” I plucked out of the foam carrying trays for the miniature figures.

OK, so I only had three players show up to play, P.J., Cory, and a youngster named Bryce. The premise of the game was that four Mexican banditos came to town to rob the bank. The Banditos were controlled by Cory, and the Banditos were named Juan, Squelch, Jueves, and Eral. P.J. represented the law in town, controlling sherriff Kathleen and her deputies Hoss and P.J. Bryce only wanted to play a single character, so he controlled the bounty hunter Bat, who sported twin six-shooters.

Shootout at Whitewash City

Shootout at Whitewash City

So, the Banditos strolled right down main street of Whitewash City, heading towards the bank. As they passed the Sheriff’s Office (the building at the far left of the above picture), deputy Hoss fell in behind the banditos. Bounty Hunter Bat, who had been talking with the proprietor of the Livery Stable at the other end of town (off the right side of the above picture), recognized one of the banditos as being wanted. Bat then ran to intercept the banditos before they reached the bank. At the same time, sheriff Kathleen and deputy P.J. came out of the sheriff’s office and also followed the bad-looking hombres in the street.

Bat came right up to the man he wanted to claim the bounty on, then Bat pulled out both his pistols and demanded the man (Juan) surrender). Juan put his hands in the air, but kept saying, “Why you want me? I am just going about my business, and not bothering anybody!” But then the other banditos pulled their pistols, as did the lawmen and lawwoman, and the shootout was on! When the hot lead stopped flying, all of the “White Hats” (Bat, Hoss, Kathleen, and P.J.) lay dead in the middle of the dusty street, as did three of the banditos (Juan, Jueves, and Eral). Only Squelch survived the shootout, but he was badly wounded. (The townsfolk had no trouble capturing Squelch, then hanged him with some vigilante justice.)

Dead minis in the streets of Whitewash City

Dead minis in the streets of Whitewash City

Just when the first character was wounded, I asked the players if they wanted to play the game “gory, or non-gory.” As I had expected, they all answered “gory!” so I started placing the “blood splatter” markers (the yellow markers in the street) at locations where characters were wounded.

I hope to run Gutshot again at the next MDG con in the summer of 2017. I hope to build more buildings, and hope to get more players for the game.

Main Street at Whitewash City

Main Street at Whitewash City – Yuh have to admit, cardstock buildings look pretty durn good, don’t they?

So, why did I decide to run a wild west shoot-’em-up game? About 10 years ago, probably the last time I attended a local gamecon, some other feller was running a similar game. He had a western looking town with 20 or 30 buildings in it (I believe they were actual wooden buildings, not cardstock), and the premise of his game was that 8 different gangs (each with four outlaws) all arrived in town at the same time with the idea of robbing the bank! Needless to say, there were multiple crossfires and dead bodies everywhere. I had a hoot of a time playing in that game, and always wanted to duplicate the experience. Well, now I can run my own games.

Metro Detroit Gamers’ Wintercon 2017 Report – Part 1

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

I used to go to the local “GameCons” sponsored by the Metro Detroit Gamers (MDG) all of the time, although I haven’t been to one in about 10 years. So, I decided to go back to the local MDG’s Wintercon 2017 which was held at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, on February 11, 2017. I got to see some folks there I haven’t seen in years, I played in a miniatures game, and then was the GM (Game Marshall) of a wild west style minis game, Gutshot.

I wanted to get to the con early in the morning to play in the railroading game “Empire Builder,” but after having to get up early all during the week for my day job, and then volunteering at the Redford Theatre in Detroit on Friday evening, I was too whipped to get up early on Saturday. I did finally get to the con around noon, though.

I had planned on playing in an Age of Sail minis game, “Up Yer Six, Mate!” at 2:00 pm, but I was the only player who was there to play that game, so that GM (Game Master) decided not to run that game. I then moved over one table to where GM Vic Hiris was setting up a large castle (it was about 6 feet long by about 4 feet wide). He was running a minis game called “Siege of Budapest,” referring to the Mongols besieging Budapest in the early 1400s (not the later siege of Budapest from 1945). I was one of four Mongol commanders who were trying to take the castle.

Vic Hiris' castle used for "Siege of Budapest"

Vic Hiris’ castle used for “Siege of Budapest”

I had a blast playing the game! Vic has developed his own home-brew rules that make the playing fast and furious. We had our Korean archers try to pick off as many of the defending archers on the ramparts as we could, then we moved some spearmen up with scaling ladders to try to storm the castle. We also had some foot soldiers move up a battering ram to the drawbridge, as well as move up a siege tower to get our attacking troops on top of the wall. In all, our strategy worked fairly well, as we had pretty much disposed of any archers who could have fired arrows against us.

The Mongols storm the castle!

The Mongols storm the castle!

Some of our attacking Mongols who got to the top of the wall battled for control of the tower above the drawbridge, and eventually our attackers took control and were able to lower the drawbridge and raise the inner portcullis without us having to batter them down; however, we ran out of time for the game near 7:00 pm, and so we didn’t get to see whether or not the defenders could have survived our assault.

I understand that Mr. Hiris will be running another castle siege game at an upcoming Pro or Con in Livonia, Michigan. I plan on playing in that game, as it will no doubt also be a lot of fun!