Southern Front 2022

 Ziggy and I rode up to Raleigh North Carolina over the weekend for a couple days of high quality gaming at Southern Front. Overall, the experience was terrific. The GMs were great, the other players were great and the games were gorgeous. No full AARs, but lots of eye candy and recaps of the games I participated in. 

First up was some Spanish-American War historical fiction with some big pretty ships in a real quagmire of islands in the Philippines.  Ziggy and I were led by team leader Jon commanding the Japanese faction against the Russians and British. We allied with the Americans because it seemed prudent.

The Russians and Brits were across the table.

My ship, the Zhenyuan which was actually acquired from China after being built in Germany. 

Some of the players were challenged by the turn templates but years of X-Wing have taught me well.

That's my little ship in the gap taking a broadside from the big Russian. Although my ship was heavily damaged, a fire control problem occurred on the Russian vessel right as he got me tee'd up and he was unable to fire! An entertaining way to start the gaming on a Friday afternoon.

Next up was some Weird West skirmishing in BIG WHISKEY!

The town of Big Whiskey. Each of the ten players had a different five-person faction that had an agenda to accomplish. The other players were just there to get in the way or become targets.

Some very purty cowboys. I think these scoundrels were actually in town to rob the bank.

I cast my lot with the Mummy Hoponpop and his followers. Our mission was to slay the living infidels. Capturing the mine was a nice bonus too, though it was a lot to ask of my fellows.

Two of Ziggy's lawmen (by the fire) prepare the greet the Indians riding into town.


Meanwhile, the rowdy Mexicans have burst into the bar and they're dumping booze all over the place! Are they going to torch it? Is that a group of Werewolves following them in?

The bar has turned into a complete disaster as "dancing girls," gamblers, Mexicans and Werewolves spill out into the street! The Fightin' Irish are out there waiting for them as is Crazy Tom, heaving sticks of dynamite around!

About that time, the Chinese gang who'd been putzing about at the mine finally came to the party. Po and Princess Pipi thought they'd have a go at Hoponpop. A brawl for the ages was set to begin! Ziggy's nearby lawmen wisely left the area as the First Annual Big Whiskey Invitational commenced.

For many turns the Professor and the Mummy went toe to toe with the Beast from the East. Their henchmen joined in and it was a right slobberknocker.

At the far end of town, Vampire Lord Count DeMonay took on the bank robbing cowboys.

The saloon had not calmed down much at all.

Hoponpop catches a break against Po! The terrifying gaze of the Mummy rattles the warrior who flees from combat! Very shameful for Po but outrageously beneficial for me. This left the princess to duel both Hoponpop and the Professor.

A thousand curses! The Princess turned into a cloud of mist and disappeared! 

At the end of the evening, the Professor and Hoponpop were still stalking the town which was now in complete shambles. From what I could tell, the Werewolves, Bank Robbers, and Ranchers all did well. It was very much the end of Blazing Saddles and who knows what was really happening? We all had a great time and would gladly do it again.

Saturday morning was on us in now time and we were off to the jungles of Siam for some Pulp Adventures!

My crew in their Skiff Carnivale! Ian Gamble and his merry band of interstellar traders. Some might call them scoundrels or pirates, but we're definitely just traders and salesmen. The mission was to get some security tapes from Prince Valiant of the Venusian Socialist Society that would go a long way to clearing my reputation regarding a little something that happened on Ganymede. Finding my flame Pat Savage was something to keep in mind as well.

There's that blockhead Doc Savage and his crew making their way through the jungle below.

My first order of business though was dealing with that massive ray gun atop the hill. I couldn't imagine that it would do anything good to my skiff, so a mighty blast from the prow blaster on the Carnivale was in order. The menacing weapons was reduced to slag in moments!

The Nazis make their way to the camp in the center of the table. They cannot be up to any good.

Flash Gordon and company wreck their craft in the rocks. Heheh. Amateurs. You can see the Venusian contingent on their way over to the rocks - this was to be the meeting place between them and myself.

Flying Monkeys! What kind of jungle is this! Although they were easily run off, they cut the ropes I'd dropped for Doc Savage to send a couple of crewmen with. Savage's goons suffered only minor concussions when they hit the ground but that imbecile Savage accused me of skullduggery. The gall of that man.

His response after I left him and his monkeys to their own devices was an attempt to wreck the Carnivale! Savage managed to explode a fuel silo near my skiff but luckily, the shock and flame wasn't up to the task.

There was quite a lot going on in the center of the table at the not-so-secret lair.

A wider shot of the large, busy table.

Heheh. The goons that had fallen from the ropes are set upon by dinosaurs! Things keep looking up.

The "other" end of the table now became my focal point as I approached the rock formation.

Things got tense for a moment as I pulled up next to Gordon's wrecked shitbox. I loudly mocked his driving prowess. As the laughter still hung in the air, my skiff started to tip! Crewman Pete fell but a swiftly moving hand (Ziggy's) caught the skyboat before it suffered the same miserable fate as Flash's craft. As I gasped in shock, everyone else at the table erupted in laughter. Truly a great gaming moment.

The Carnivale eases down, landing in a clear spot. Ian and company disembark to meet this Prince Valiant fellow.

Another tense moment as we meet and talk. Prince Valiant asks for the tape I have for him, to which I respond, "no sir, I believe you have a tape for me." Much laughter erupts from the table and particularly the GM. There's more discussion about exactly who was supposed to bring what to this meeting. I asked First Mate Eccentrica Gallumbits to double-check the glove box and the tape was indeed in it. Too much Romulan Ale I suppose! Prince Valiant was satisfied and so was I. Off to try to round up Pat Savage before her idiot cousin.

Unfortunately, Ziggy's F-Troop Rocketmen turned her over to Doc after rescuing her from the evil scientist's henchmen. Love would have to wait. Not worth starting a shooting match.

As things wound up, the Nazis made off with some scientific equipment and one of Mad Scientists top aides. The F-Troop tried to stop them but a well-timed volley of carnivorous flying fish from the trunk of the Mercedes caused enough of a distraction for the Germans to get away.

That was a blast. So much going on, so much player-player interaction and role-playing. The GM gave us a lot of flexibility and leeway but doled out liberal quantities of surprises and "gotchas" to keep us honest. Three hours of pure excellence. Bruce is a GM par excellence.

After a long lunch and gym break, it was more gaming of course! We headed back to the jungles of Southeast Asia, this time in Vietnam, 1968.

Ziggy and Jon trying to make sense of all their expensive tools of war. I managed two NVA fireteams. No fancy tanks for us! The Marines were attempting to rescue a downed aircrew that was behind the thin NVA line.

They blend in well, that's for sure! 

A nice black and white before things turned ugly.

Yes, the NVA forces spent about the first two hours of the game doing this. It was poor reaction rolls, poor morale tests and poor firing that set the game up as a complete ass-whip for the North Vietnamese. We measured success in drops while the Marines reaped it in bucketsful. The Marines maintained a slow cautious advance though.

An M48 and Ontos creep across the field, Marines huddled behind.

Imagine that, more NVA falling back.

But then, the big announcement. The GM asked us NVA players why we weren't attacking the aircrews in the buildings to our rear! In utter amazement, we all shrieked that we didn't realize that our forces knew about the crewmen. Well that'll change the tune quickly, won't it. New plan for team Red Star. Kill the Airmen.

An almighty fireball erupted in this shed as two rockets and a hail of gunfire smash into it. Three Yanks down in the blink of an eye. The USMC players quickly develop a sense of urgency as they realize the slow painful death they've been delivering isn't going to pan out.

Fortunes really shift as our recoilless rifle slams a round into a Yank tank, immobilizing it. The crew bail out! The Marine players start to show genuine doubt and boy is it glorious.

Adding insult to injury, a machinegun nest is revealed in the bokchoy patch across from the ruins. It tears into the remaining American airmen.

It's a tragic massacre as the machinegun, rockets and rifle fire rip through the building, taking out the Americans. 

The Marine players are in shock as they cannot believe what's happened. They had it in the bag and the whole encounter shifted 180 degrees late in the game. Another terribly entertaining game. One more up after dinner!

How do you follow up an epic Vietnam firefight? The Five Days in Milan of course. It's March 1848. Milanese rebels have grown past tired of the Austrian occupation and take up arms against them. Marshal Radetzky and his troops fight for their lives and try to get past a mob of townsfolk.

I threw my hand up to command the townsfolk against the Imperial Austrian swine. This was the eye-candy game of the century.

Our home. Most of the Austrian soldiers were on the far side of the canal. There were some musketeers on the city walls towards the back there.

As the commander, I only controlled the Finanzeri. My co-belligerents commanded various groups of rabble throughout the town. Peter likewise only commanded the Austrian coach and cannon. His lieutenants took control of the riflemen, musketeers and cavalry. 

The view from the city walls.

Ziggy's group atop the two-story limbered up their throwing arms. It would be makeshift bombs, stones and roofing tiles for the cavalry!

A bit of Nunnery Gunnery!

Two Hussars fall to the sounds of wild cheering from the Italian contingent. The Hussars fail a morale test and fall back!

Croatians storm a barricade and embarrass themselves terribly. Things are really going well for the Italians.

The Hussars have rallied and made it around the block. They are greeted by a hail of musket-fire from my Finazeri. 

 The Hussars are tough customers though and smash into the line, sending it reeling.

The bravery of the Finanzeri inspired a mob of townsfolk to charge into the Hussars! They gave a fair accounting of themselves...

Until they too fell back. Things were starting to look sketchy.

But the Finanzeri were equally impressed by the townsfolk's bravery. They re-gained their nerve and charged back into the Hussars running them off! A MASSIVE victory for the Italians in this alley.

The Croatians are beset by a mob of townsfolk. The Croatians fighting spirit is evident as they run off the mob in short order.

The coward Radetzky finally encourages his driver to move forward across the canal. Ziggy's roof-dwellers descend to greet him.

The center of town has been a killing field. The cannon and riflemen have killed at least half of the the defenders. 

The battle at the wall has been slow but no less vicious.

Ziggy's roofers assault the coach and are martyred by the Croatians. Radetzky and his cronies exit the coach.

And that's about when we wrapped things up. The GM declared an insurgent victory! Three cheers for Free Milan!

Wow. Two days and five very memorable games. An excellent con experience if I've ever had one. Already looking forward to the next. Everyone take it easy and good gaming!


  1. Quite a weekend, some great looking tables.

  2. The games looked great, qirth lots of surprises and drama. Clearly well worth the trip!


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