Posts Tagged ‘Canton Public Library’

Close Action in the Detroit, Michigan, area

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

A number of years ago, I was introduced to the game “Close Action,” which is a board game about naval combat in the “Age of Fighting Sail,” circa the year 1800. It is basically an improvement of the old Avalon Hill game of “Wooden Ships & Iron Men.” Close Action was designed by Mark Campbell, although he has had a lot of folks play various scenarios and offer suggestions for improvements along the way. The game was published by Clash of Arms games in 1997. But then I didn’t get to play the game for more than a decade (probably closer to two decades).

Close Action box cover

Close Action box cover, from Clash of Arms games.

So, probably around the middle of 2017, I was checking out the latest sales flyer from Noble Knight Games, and I saw they had a brand new copy of Close Action for sale. I immediately bought the game, because Close Action has been out of print. Noble Knight also had the two add-on scenario packs of Rebel Seas and Monsoon Seas for sale, so I bought those, too. (Rebel Seas is the only product from the Close Action series available for sale at the Clash of Arms web site, as of February 2019.) So now I owned the basic components of Close Action, but didn’t have any miniature ships to play the game with. Although CA was designed as a board game, it does seem more fun to play when using miniature ships.

I was still in contact with Jim Robinson, as he races in our CFR-Detroit racing games. He’s the guy that introduced me to Close Action in the early 1990s. We were playing then with “pre-publication” rules for the game (version 4.30). Dennis Daughetee was another player, and between Dennis and Jim we had a good sized fleet of miniature ships to use. Anyway, in March 2018, we got several folks together to play a scenario of Close Action at the Canton (Michigan) public library during the first Saturday meetup boardgame day. We used (I believe) 1:900 scale ships on Jim’s large hex mat (with 2-inch hexes). It was pretty cool.

Close Action with 1:900 scale ships

Close Action with 1:900 scale ships at the Canton, Michigan, library.

Now, the large 1:900 scale ships are really neat, but later, while playing another scenario at Imperium Games, with about a dozen ships on each side, it became apparent that it would be very difficult to get all of the ships on the same playing mat at the same time. This made me want to use smaller scale ships. I began to look into the various ships available. It seems that 1:1200 scale is a very popular scale for naval minis from the Age of Sail, and it seems the two main sources for ships are GHQ’s “Micronauts” and Langton Miniatures. GHQ’s ships are about $17 each, though, and the Langton ships are about the same price, once you buy the hulls and sails. Sort of a steep price if you want to purchase enough ships for a 40-ship battle!

So then I discovered the 1:2000 scale ships available from Valiant Enterprises. While Valiant’s ships are not nearly as detailed as the larger 1:1200 scale ships, they are much more affordable, and they are “good enough” for minis gaming. You can buy a 3-pack of 74-gun ships-of-the-line from Valiant for less than $15, or $5 per ship. Now we’re talking affordable! Not to mention that the ships won’t take up as much space, so one can use a smaller hex grid to play on. What made it even better, just about the time I mentioned to some of our Championship Formula Racing group that I was going to start buying the Valiant 1:2000 scale ships, two of the CFR racers, Jim Robinson and Mike St. Peter, gave me a bunch of already built and painted ships! Jim gave me close to 40 ships, mostly 74-gunners but also a few larger and smaller ships. Mike donated around a dozen serviceable ships to me, and some other parts that can be salvaged to repair some other ships.

So, now I had a fleet of ships to use, so the next thing to do was to obtain a playing mat. Now, most folks I have seen online who play naval minis just buy a large hex-grid mat from folks such as Hotz Mats. While the mats from Eric Hotz are beautiful, they are also somewhat expensive, with a 45-inch by 72-inch “Mediterrean Sea Blue” mat costing $67 (with shipping). And you would need more than one mat. But there are two problems with using a plain-colored mat.¬† For one, the generic blue-hex-grid mats don’t have numbered hexes, making it difficult to correctly place the ships for the scenarios. Also, some of the scenarios in Close Action have land or shallow water. The original maps that come with Close Action have different colored hexes that can be used to depict shallow water or land, while the generic hex-grid mats are all the same color, making it difficult to designate areas as land or shallow water. Not to mention that I don’t want to limit my playing to only deep-water scenarios. So then I decided to use my flat-bed scanner to scan the CA maps, then enlarged them 160% so the hexes were 1-inch across. I then printed them out as tiles, and then glued them to a folding cardboard display board. The final result looks¬† like this:

Close Action enlarged maps A & B

Close Action enlarged maps A & B.

For basing the ships, I made some 1.75-inch by 0.75-inch rectangles, and added the number of guns, each ship’s name, and the country flag of that ship along both sides of the rectangle. Then I printed out the artwork and glued it to foam-core board, then used an X-Acto knife to cut apart all of the bases. The ships on their bases look like this:

1:2000 scale ships on foam-core bases

1:2000 scale British 50-gun Adamant and French 64-gun Ardent, mounted on foam-core bases.

So, now we’re ready to start playing some semi-regular games of Close Action in the Detroit, Michigan, area!

 

Championship Formula Racing demo races, July 1, 2017

Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

On Saturday, July 1, 2017, I ran four more demo races of Championship Formula Racing, trying to attract more regular racers for our upcoming season of races (that should begin in September). I ran two races at the monthly first Saturday boardgame Meetup group at the Canton Public Library in Canton, Michigan, then later in the day I ran two more races at the Warriors 3 game store in Wayne, Michigan.

I got to the Canton library just before they opened the meeting room for us boardgamers at noon. Meeting me there were Greg Lim and Jim Robinson. We quickly set up four folding tables together so we could place one of our large scale race tracks on that group of tables. I had just borrowed four more large tracks from Richard White on Thursday, two nights previous.

For our first race, we had eight racers, and we raced on the Monza, Italy track. This large track is based on the mid-1980s Monza track from Avalon Hill’s Accessory Pack tracks from that era. It has not been modified for the newer Monza changes. But we all race on the same track, n’est-ce pas?

Racing on the Monza, Italy track at the Canton Public Library.

Racing on the Monza, Italy track at the Canton Public Library. (Greg Lim photo)

After we completed the first race at Monza, I asked folks if they wanted to race the 2nd race on a different track, but they wanted to race the Monza track again. One of the drivers from the first race dropped out, as he wanted to play some other board games at the library, but we added two other drivers, so the 2nd race had nine drivers. That was the most drivers we have had (so far) for our demo races.

The last lap of the 2nd Monza race at the Canton library.

The last lap of the 2nd Monza race at the Canton library. Brian Robinson (center, in the gray t-shirt) comtemplates how he can win the race from his then 2nd place on the track.

Brian Robinson won that 2nd Monza race. Brian is relatively new to the Speed Circuit/Championship Formula Racing type games, but he is driving like an old pro. I told him at the end of the evening after the last race at Warriors 3 that I no longer considered him a rookie, but an “old pro” driver.

After that 2nd race at the Canton library, Greg and Jim and I went to a local fast food place for some dinner. (If you’re going to drive “fast” in racing games, you should eat “fast” food, eh?) Then we got to the Warriors 3 game store in Wayne, Michigan, in plenty of time to arrange four folding tables together to make room to set up another large track. I set up the Silverstone, England track.

The Silverstone, England track.

The Silverstone, England track.

While we were setting up the 1:64 scale race cars on the track while we were waiting for some other racers to arrive, a three-year old boy, Thomas, came over to our table. He was determined to play with our 1:64 scale cars! We first moved the cars from one side of the table to the other, but then Thomas tried to climb on top of the table to get to the cars. I was afraid of Thomas falling off the table and injuring himself. Finally, though, Thomas’ father called him away from us. The father was playing in a different game in a different area of the same large gaming room. Anyway, we were relieved, as our 1:64 scale cars are definitely not toys, and would not survive without damage from being handled by a three-year-old!

Racing on the Silverstone track.

Racing on the Silverstone track. Garry Kaluzny in the red shirt at left. (Greg Lim photo)

It should be noted that our race on the Silverstone track was also based on the mid-1980s configuration of that real-life track. In CFR game terms, I built my car to have 60 mph Acceleration and Deceleration, and a 180 mph Top Speed. You can pretty much drive either 120 mph or 180 mph every turn on this track configuration. Centered in the picture above is Ian, a young guy visiting the Detroit area from his home in Kentucky. Although he had never played CFR (nor Speed Circuit), he pretty quickly grasped the strategy to use. His downfall was taking too many early chances on cornering, and a spinout dropped him back in the race. If he wouldn’t have spun, though, he would have been a tough competitor.

After the Silverstone race was complete, we had time to race once more. We switched to the Monaco track for that last race of the evening. We had the same six drivers from the Silverstone race competing.

Half a lap left to race on the Monte Carlo track at Monaco.

Half a lap left to race on the Monte Carlo track at Monaco.

Ian took the early lead from the pole position, although I was hot on his heels from my front row position. The first time at the Casino/Station/Loews hairpin turn, I got the inside position from Ian, meaning I got to move first the next turn, so I took over the lead.

Jack stands to move the cars, while Garry tries to stay ahead of Brian's car on the last lap at Monaco.

Jack stands to move the cars, while Garry tries to stay ahead of Brian’s car on the last lap at Monaco. (Greg Lim photo)

On the last lap, I had to hold back Brian’s car. With about a half-lap left to race, I had only 3 Wear remaining, while Brian had 7 Wear. At the finish line, Brian pulled alongside my car, but I nipped him by a nose at the end. Whew! I had to make two cornering Chance dice rolls late in the race, using my two -3 Skill chits.

Although the day was long, I believe everyone had fun racing in the different races. We added another six names to our CFR email list. We now have about 30 names on the list, but not all of them will race in our upcoming season. Some folks, such as Brian, have been using the frequent demo races to gain a lot of experience in racing CFR. When the season starts in September, I expect some close competition!

We will have another demo race on July 7, 2017, at Imperium Games in Wixom. Imperium Games used to be Flat Land Games, but they had a recent change of ownership. That demo race will start at 7:00 pm, and will be a 3-lap race. All of the demo races on July 1 were only 2-lap races, as they were intended to be used for teaching the game mechanics. Shorter races mean you can run more races in a day, plus if someone were to crash out of a race, they wouldn’t have to wait as long to get back into the next race. Surprisingly, though, every racer (including me!) finished every race, in spite of multiple chances being taken by rolling dice!

Check our CFR-Detroit web page for more info about upcoming Championship Formula Racing races in the Detroit, Michigan, metro area.

Posted by Garry

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!