April 18, 2024

Origins 2023 ~ Days 3 & 4 On The Ground

Patrick Rice, 3 July 2023

My 3rd day Origins was mostly taken up with one game, before I went to take pictures at the Origins Awards. Therefore, this article will cover both my 3rd and 4th days, the 4th being my final full day at Origins.

click images to enlarge

Vive Liberte, France 1944, Historical Miniatures Gaming Society

When I saw HMGS was running a 15mm tank game, I knew I would end up playing. I have a good 100-200 games of Flames of War under my belt, as well as another 100 or so games of Team Yankee (the 1985+ Cold War version of Flames of War), and there was no way I was going to let a similar system escape without my coverage. I was assigned to the German team, which was tasked with taking back the village from the British, who had rolled armor up to defend the town. The Germans were given one Tiger 1, five Panzer IVs, two StuGs, two Sd Kfz 234/1 scout cars, two Sd Kfz 250 scout halftracks, and two Panthers, which I commanded. The British commanded a force made up of Churchills, Daimler armored cars, Cromwells, Sherman Vs, and a pair of Fireflies. The Fireflies were my main target, since I knew they posed the greatest threat to my Panthers and our Tiger 1.

The British deployed throughout the town, ready to respond to whatever direction we approached from. The rest of my team decided to roll up their armor along the main road into town, so they could be kept in formation and in support of each other. Knowing that I needed to use my Panthers’ range to their advantage, I forward deployed my Panthers to advance to a hill South-East of the town, so I could begin firing from a hull down position into the advancing British tanks.

My Panthers reached the hill and began trading fire with the Firefly hiding on the hill South of the town, and putting shots downrange into Churchills advancing out of the town. It was around this point I ran into several issues with Vive Liberte. First was my discovery that, while hull down and approximately 700 in game meters from the British Fireflies, were totally immune to the 17pdr firing at them. I thought this was strange, since having no consequence to multiple rounds bouncing off the turret from a weapon I knew should have had the capacity to seriously damage my tank was odd. Second, was that the first Churchill destroyed in the town blocked line of sight to the tanks behind it. I was very surprised by this, since I had taken a hill position, and had assumed I would at least still be able to find targets after taking out the first tank.

At this point, the German tanks made two major mistakes. First, the Tiger 1 attempted to move across to support the Panthers firing into the town. The Firefly I had been trading fire with, sensing an opportunity, fired on the Tiger, knocking out a track, and panicking the crew into abandoning their tank. Second, the Panzer IVs began to move into the bocage field to the North of the road, leaving the protective field of fire from the Panthers. They ran into opposition from the Daimler armored cars sent to scout our flank, but were able to push past them with deceptive ease. From here, it would only go downhill.

The next several turns saw the loss of around half our tanks in the bocage field, as Shermans and Cromwells forced their way over the hedgerows to charge the isolated Panzer IVs and StuG. One of the Panthers, trying to knock out as many tanks as possible before they entered the melee of the bocage, lost a track to a lucky shot from a Churchill, but passed his morale check to stay stationary, an immobile bunker in the wrong place to help the battle any further. The other Panther chased down and destroyed the Firefly attempting to support the bocage field, but it was too little, too late. We ran out of time, and the battle was declared a pyrrhic British victory, with most of the Churchills, one Firefly, and several Shermans lost in comparison to a lost Tiger 1, three Panzer IVs, and mobility damage on both a Panther, a StuG, and a Panzer IV. 

What I Thought: I was fascinated by the shooting tables and D100 system used for shooting in Vive Liberte, but as previously mentioned I thought the system was a bit too narrow in terms of armor penetration. I always find situations where there is no accounting for incredibly lucky shots strange, especially when I know a gun should be sufficient to destroy a given tank. I could be showing a bias from too much Flames of War however, which I fully appreciate to be a flawed system itself. I appreciated the scale of Vive Liberte, which does a much better job than Flames of War at showcasing the range engagements can take place over, with forces feeling like they really do come into contact two miles from each other’s main force.


Rivet Wars, Ottawa Red Shirts

I joined the Ottawa Red Shirts for a 4-hour battle of attrition in Rivet Wars: Eastern Front. I played on a team of three playing as the Blightun Empire, against a team playing the Allied States of Rivet. Our goal was to have the most victory points at the end of our 4-hour time slot, which we gained by capturing objectives and destroying enemy heroes and vehicles.

Because we played so many turns, it is difficult to give a play-by-play account of every move and countermove from our game. Suffice to say, a great many brave USR riflemen and Blightun panzerfausts were lost in our constant efforts to shovel soldiers into the meat grinder long enough to snatch an advantage. The order of actions on a players turn was shoot, then move, then score objectives, so we had to make sure our troops would be in range at the beginning of our turns and not at the end of our opponents, while still moving forward to capture objectives, which only infantry could do.

The USR and Blightun Empire had totally different units to choose from, with panzerfausts as the basic Blightun infantry and riflemen for the USR. The panzerfausts were better against light armor, while the riflemen were excellent against other infantry. Additionally, the USR had field artillery guns, which attacked every unit in a grid they targeted, across from Blightun machine guns, which had enough shots to kill multiple USR riflemen in one volley. I tried to keep my panzerfausts spread out across multiple tiles when they reached the front line, so USR artillery could not destroy multiple models at a time. As the game wore on, our game master gave us special air units to make things more interesting, including the Red Baron, who quickly went to work establishing air superiority.

The Blightun Empire would eventually lose by about 7 points, due to an enormous USR breakthrough on our far-right flank creating a victory point deficit we were never able to recover. Multiple armor units were sent to that side to respond, and our counterattack would take both objectives back from the USR, but it was too late to make up the difference. 

What I Thought: I was deeply amused by Rivet Wars. I thought the system for constantly regenerating units worked far better than anything I had tried outside of computer games before, with a simple system of saved and non-saved resources gained every turn, that players spent on purchasing units to immediately hurl to the frontlines. Since returning home, I have been talking to my local game group about using some of the mechanics from Rivet Wars to create special event games for other game systems. The gameplay was designed with that system of regenerating units in mind, and emphasized aggressively sending units forward.


Settlers of Cataan, Rogue Judges & Conclusion

I wanted to end Origins on a relaxed note, so I decided to sign up for a game of Settlers of Cataan, a game I have played dozens of times with my family at home. Of course, it quickly devolved into the most frustrating game I had played at Origins that week, but that’s to be expected when you play Cataan! It gave me an opportunity to reflect on my time at Origins, and the different range of games I had played. I had never been to anything like Origins before, and the experience was eye-opening. Every day I still managed to be surprised just how many people were there playing any of a thousand different game systems, from RPGs to miniatures games, board games to card games, even video games and live-action roleplay. I never quite understood the appeal of big gaming conventions until I went to Origins, and I can safely say I’m looking forward to being able to attend again.





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Oh, the Origins Game Fair’s now done
And the fun and games, they’ve all run
Our hearts filled with sorrow
As we pack up tomorrow
Till next year, our spirits are undone!

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