Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Battle of Squidway!

It's been more than a few years now (I believe the game was held in 2005), but I just found my collection of photos from The Battle of Squidway, an epic battle using our Pirates! rules. This was something I had been wanting to do for a long time, but it was really a two person project so when my brother-from-another-mother Thomas offered to team up with me to get 'er done, I was only too happy to accept.

Here's the basic story behind the scenario, as I remember it (and everyone knows how good my memory is, so there is sure to be plenty of creative license in this retelling...): The Goblins held the Island of Squidway, a small but strategically important island in the Churning Sea. The Dwarves desired control of the island in order to protect their shipping lanes, but the long and bitter Porridge Wars had kept them from doing anything about it until after the Khellog Clan eventually gained dominance over those darn Pozt Clan and their underhanded, cold-porridge loving ways. High King Bran Khellog ordered each of his warlords to build at least one ship to join him in wresting the Island of Squidway from the Goblins. Because the Porridge Wars had seen leaps in Dwarven steam technology, many of the warlords built ships designed to carry steam powered flying machines. Dubbed the Dwarven High Fleet, King Khellog gave command of it to his most capable seaman, Admiral Jellycone, and the fleet set sail for Squidway as soon as the weather was favorable.

Unfortunately for Jellycone, it took almost two years for the fleet to be built and assemble. In that time the Goblins got wind of the plan, and concocted a plan of their own...

I had the concept for this event in mind for some time, so when it finally was time to start building it didn't take much time for things to come together. Of course, the biggest task for me would be to build the secret Goblin superweapon... the IGN Gobomoto!

Above is a shot of the Gobomoto during layout. The hull was cut from a large strip of basswood. The majority of the rest of the ship would be made from bits from Flagship Games' pirate ships, and some odds and ends such as balsa wood, and few items from my bits box. That's a GW figure case to the left of the photo, and the tips of my size 13's at the bottom for a sense of scale.

Obviously, Squidway is a fantasy-spoof on Midway. Beyond that, the historical sides have been placed in a bag and shaken vigorously before being dolled out to the two sides involved - Dwarf and Goblin. The Goblin navy has a much more Japanese feel, but they are defending the island. The Dwarves look and feel more like the American fleet, but are on the offensive. Who says one can't play fast and loose with history and still have a good time? :)

The next big construction project for me would be to make some aircraft for the Goblin fleet. I had a half dozen diecast Gee Bee R-1 models that came with some WWII diecast planes from China that I used for an actual reproduction of the Battle of Midway back around 2000. I never had any use for the Gee Bees, and why they were included with WWII planes I'll never know. They worked perfectly for my "Gobikazes" for this game though. I stripped off the cockpit with my Dremel and placed the upper portions of snotlings therein as the pilots. After a quick repaint and the addition of a BattlePole nipple, they were ready for action, easy-peasy!

And that's the IGN's "Angry Pimple" symbol on the wings, NOT an IJN rising sun...

Fortunately for Thomas and I, when word got out there was a lot of interest in this game, and quite a few people eagerly kit-bashed their own ships. One of the great things about Pirates! is that if there are no rules for what you want to do, they are easy enough to extrapolate. Above is part of the Goblin fleet, most of which was provided by Thomas. In the foreground is his giant alligator with howdah. In the mid-ground is a galleas crewed by some very colorful Goblins, and in the rear is a customized ironclad made from I believe a 15mm ACW Confederate Ram. I do not remember the manufacturer, but Thomas sure turned it into a convincing fantasy ironclad!

There was more interest from the players in the Dwarf side than the Goblin, and the quantity of customized ships, aircraft and other odds and ends was remarkable! Above is the left wing of the Dwarf fleet, deploying for action. The carrier on the left is made from a Flagship Games Hulk model, heavily modified.

This is Terry Matheny's very impressive Dwarf carrier. The base ship was a Flagship Games Galleas.

This is a top down view of the Island of Squidway, built by Mssr. Thomas Foss of San Jose. NOBODY makes better islands than Thomas does. This was a relatively small one for him, but that's because it was all part of the cunning Goblin plan...

When the Dwarves arrived in the vicinity of the Island, they found themselves opposed by a good sized, but not overwhelming Goblin fleet. The Dwarves figured they could take the Island before the Goblin reinforcements arrived, as it was lightly defended and there were a hell of a lot of Dwarves! The Island above is what they saw, and they were sailing for it at full speed when Thomas and I asked them to leave the room for a minute at the end of Turn 2...

When the Dwarf players were allowed back in, the above is what they saw, although it took them a minute or two to notice that the Island had... changed. That's right. The Goblins had cleverly camouflaged the Gobomoto as Squidway Island, and the Dwarves had fallen right into their trap! (It turns out that Squidway Island was demolished by some entrepreneurial Tritons as part of an underwater urban renewal project.)

Here, the IGN Gobomoto steams forward at full power, some of its clever island camouflage still stuck to its forward turret!

Here's a shot of the action as it heats up. The Dwarf players are grumbling mightily as they are thinking they are going to get gamed. Of course, that's just silly as we're trying to sell product so we almost always let the players win. :) Anyway, this is a great shot of Stanley's Dollar Store Pinnace fleet. They look pretty lame, and I can't believe we let him use them as he had plenty of other stuff on the table. But Stanley is an awesome guy, and we just can't say no to him after all he's done to help us!

One of the Dwarf carriers goes down! Fortunately, it's flight deck was also a flotation device so the Captain and crew were able to drift until rescued.

How's about a Gobikaze right in your Dwarf Pinnace? Talk about ouch! I basically did this out of spite, just to show my objection to the Dollar Store Pinnace fleet. Take that Stanley! :)

It wasn't long before the Dwarves were really pouring it onto the Gobomato. Here's a shot of the action near the end of the battle.

Same part of the game from a different angle.

The tiny Dwarf Pinnaces are attempting to ram and board the Gobomoto! Don't they know "No means no!"?

An overhead shot of Terry's fantastic Dwarf carrier, taken late in the game. I wish I could afford to have him paint for me! Here one of his gyrocopters is rearming for a second run at the Gobomoto.

Some of the Dwarf aircraft are making an end run to get at the Gobomoto!

Ski-DOOSH! Two Gobikazes manage to crash into one of the Dwarf carriers. This particular ship was made by Thomas years ago for our good friend, Tim Wagoner (aka "Timmy") back when we used to play a lot of Pirates! at the Chico Game Club.

A few pesky Dwarf marines have made it upon the Gobomato's deck and are taking it to the crew! I believe they were eventually repulsed (there weren't many of them in the first place), but it was not long for the Gobomoto as it continued to be the focus of fire for the entire Dwarf fleet.

You can also get a good impression of the anti-aircraft "guns" I made for the Gobomoto. They are the Flagship Games ship's wheel capstan, with two bolt thrower tops attached in lieu of a wheel. Easy!

The My Mother's Mustache explodes after one of the Gobikazes punches through the deck and into the powder magazine!

Still, the game was a loss for the Goblins after the Gobomoto sank at the end of the following turn.

This last photo is a side-by-side of the Island, and the fake Island of Squidway covering placed over the Gobomoto at the critical moment. It never ceases to amaze me just how similar the two are to one another from this overhead view. Thomas is truly an amazing artist!

My thanks to everyone who participated: Thomas, all the great guys in the SBGC - especially those who built their own ships, and Timmy for letting us borrow his carrier for the event.

I've found some photos of our last great convention Pirates! event (or mine, anyway), The Battle of Portland Race. A more sober and serious wargame, to be sure. I'll post those next for your consideration and amusement.


- Rod

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