23 September 2021

Southern Front 2021

 Mark J and I went to Southern Front game convention in Raleigh, North Carolina last weekend for a couple of fantastic days of dice and toy soldiers. We left Savannah early Friday morning and got up there a bit after noon. A quick check-in to the hotel and then down to the game room. The games are primarily historical in nature, but there was enough pulp and sci-fi in the blend to keep it real. You know me, my taste in genres runs the gamut and I always like to see everything represented. 

My first game of the day was a Vietnam Force On Force battle in 28mm. There were four players per side and we each controlled a few fireteams. I just purchased FOF a few weeks ago and had never played so it was a good intro to the system. I took command of an American rifle team, two weapons teams and a command team.

There are my boys, moving through a clearing.

Our mission was to locate two heavy machine guns that had been wreaking havoc in the area. Enemy presence was strong.

There's a better shot of the whole layout. In addition to infantry we had two M48s, an Ontos and an Amtrak in the group. A lot of hardware for two silly machine guns!
Masking sucks but participants were pretty compliant.
The heavies move out. A giant hand also appears!
I send the rifle team across the gap and one of the 12.7mm guns reveals itself. They're all gunned down! 
My teammate pulls the Amtrak forward to act as cover for the Marines who were just gunned down. I send a medic team forward to help them.

At the end of the game, the Vietnamese force had taken significant casualties and the Americans were rolling along nicely. The HMG we'd found would have been pounded on by an M48 but alas we ran out of time. The other HMG was about to reveal on the left flank where it likely would have gunned down a fireteam or two. A pleasant start to the gaming and a great chance to try out FOF which I liked.

So, for the evening's activities, I GM'ed a game of Star Fleet Battles. I ran my Jailbreak scenario which has had plenty of play testing and is perfect for occasions such as this.

I had two players join me - that's Oliver on the left and Henry on the right. Oliver had played SFB in the past, perhaps 20 years ago. It's just like riding a bike though - so he took the pirate ship being the most experienced player at the table. Henry, at only twelve, of course had never played but was a very quick study. He started with just a single vessel and the fighter, but took control of the Aux Cruiser when it appeared on turn 3. I controlled assorted riffraff.

Henry did manage to get a torpedo hit on the Orion!

Henry and I did our damnedest to catch up with Oliver's ship and slap a tractor on him but he wasn't born yesterday and did a masterful job of evading us.

One of my ships eats a type-F. Feh.

The pirate exhibits uncommon chutzpah and zips through an asteroid hex at speed 31. Let's take a gander at that chart, shall we?

Son of a gun rolls a 1! He channels Han Solo and remains unscathed. I hulled out a Hydran Cruiser a few years back at Gnomecon doing the same thing and rolling 6es two impulses in a row.

We got very close but he managed to get away at the end of turn 4. We wrapped up around 11:30PM. Off to bed!

For Saturday morning, I'd signed up for a Midway game. It didn't begin until 10:00am so I wandered about for a bit looking at other games.

Some ACW

Bombers vs Fighters

THEM! The army vs giant ants in a giant ant colony

Samurai battles

Roarke's Drift in 40mm

So the Midway game was an operational-level affair. The seven players were each given command of a carrier. I was given the Hiryu. Ship locations were hidden to begin the game. We had to send out scout planes to locate the enemy, radio their location back to the carriers and then send out attack groups to crush the enemy! Once we lost track of enemy ships, typically due to scout planes being lost, they were removed from the table and more recon was required.

The battlefield. Midway Island was centered on the far edge of the table. The battle commenced just as the Japanese attack on the island had finished. Those planes were returning to our carriers.

Japanese scout planes take to the air!

The rest of the Jap team.

The Americans and our wonderful GM / game designer Bruce. 

Before long, the skies were thick with aircraft as Hellcats hunted Japanese scouts and TBDs searched for our carriers.

It was 1:50PM when we located the USS Hornet! Make no mistake, this was an EPIC game. Nearly four hours in and we'd just now made contact with the enemy fleet. The hunt was tense and great fun.

Perhaps 15 minutes later, the Americans found us. My ship and the Akagi were located together. Our other two ships were paired up elsewhere.

Shenanigans result in Akagi taking a torpedo. Damage was not significant.

Around 3:00PM a flight of Zeroes I'd sent out to patrol located all three Yank carriers! The Japanese ships launched massive waves of attack aircraft - this was the moment!

The American lack of a cohesive plan resulted in scattered small flights reaching our ships that were relatively ineffective.

Our three American players had all bailed out for one reason or another by 3:00 and were all replaced by new recruits. This put them in an unfortunate position, particularly since they weren't part of whatever the USN's original plan was.

Be that as it may, Mike did manage to put a torpedo into Kaga which was heavily damaged as a result.

Steve and Rich's combined strike packages were large enough to get through the American defenses and two torpedoes struck home on the Enterprise, sinking her in short order! 

My torpedo bombers were savaged by Hellcats and the USS Hornet's AAA was quite effective. I did manage to get a single bomb onto the Hornet though, wrecking her elevators.

At this point, we'd been playing for an almighty seven and a half hours! The convention organizers gave us the boot at 5:30PM since another GM needed the table. The Japanese team got the win for sinking one and damaging another. This was by far the most amazing game of the day and a remarkable gaming experience.

Dinner at Hooters then back to the hotel for some 28mm ECW!

A terribly impressive setup. The GM's plan was to simply put his whole collection on the table, history be damned.

Not only plentiful, but very well painted. 

Plenty of characterful diorama elements adorned the table as well.

Early into the proceedings, I deployed my Dragoons in the barn area which had some meaningful cover. My opponent was bothered by this.

The gamers

My Dragoons were charged by a block of Roundhead pikemen and gunners. Not good.

A wider view of my section of battlefield.

I am informed that my Dragoons get to fire at the Tercio charging them. I roll the dice. One lousy kill. Larry across the table botches his morale test and his Tercio flees! Oh. My. God. The Dragoons let out an almighty cheer!

I mean really, that's a thing of beauty.

Of course, to their right things weren't so delightful. My unit on the far right was getting mauled and my unit in the center was fighting their opponent to a bloody draw.

Eye candy. What a treat to be able to play with these!

These were the weird rules we were using. Melee left a lot to be desired.

My Dragoons re-mounted. I bet you can guess what they have in mind. Also note my cavalry unit was to the left on the road.

My unit on the far right is run off. Boooooo!

But the Dragoons smash into the flank of the battle in the center and break the stalemate!

And the cavalry from the road smash into the Tercio who'd earlier fled from the Dragoons, routing them.

I had pretty good results, although my teammate in the middle and left sections took a pounding, so overall it was a Roundhead victory. At 11:00PM we called it a night.

Mark and I both had a terrific time and it was great to be out at a game event like this again - it's been far too long. Attendees were respectful with masking, sanitizing and not sharing dice. I'm sure I'll head back to Southern Front in the future.


  1. Ski this looks great. So happy to see people at conventions!!!! I plan on going to historicon in November.

    1. I was so nice to get back into a group setting like that just really getting stuck in without any other concerns for two days.

  2. Looks like you had fun. Almost 8 hours at a game! What stamina.

    1. The Japanese team had bonded with the GM via Stockholm Syndrome by the end of the game!

  3. Looks like fun. Wish I'd been there.