Monday, February 23, 2015

Birthday Greetings #47

Happy birthday to Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor.  Matthias was emperor from 1612-1619 although its fair to say that he seems to have gained most of his power prior to that date.  Matthias was the younger brother of the emperor Rudolf II a gloomy depressive who spent most of his time in Prague castle hoarding artworks and attempting to turn lead into gold.  In addition to his imperial title Rudolf was also Archduke of Austria, King of Hungary and King of Bohemia.  As an emperor he didn't seem to be quite up to snuff.  Certainly he didn't seem so to Matthias.

Matthias started off his career by becoming governor of the Netherlands.  This was a little awkward as the Netherlands were then in revolt against Philip II of Spain (a relative) and Philip was less than pleased with Matthias inserting himself into the mix.  A measure of the success Matthias achieved can be seen in the fact that the Netherlands declared formal independence shortly afterwards and Matthias unemployed and humiliated slunk back to Austria.

Still you can't keep an ambitious princeling down forever and Rudolf, becoming less and less interested in the ruling of his territories, appointed Matthias as governor of Austria.  This brought Matthias face to face with the Hungarians and specifically the war which Rudolf was fighting unenthusiastically with the Ottoman Turks over that land.  Given command of Habsburg forces Matthias didn't achieve much but by comparison with Rudolf he must have seemed like a military genius.  There was also a protestant revolt in Hungary which Matthias dealt with by giving them everything they wanted.  As a result he persuaded the nobles of Hungary to appoint him king and the various members of the Habsburg family to make him head of the family which must cheered up the emperor no end.

Tossing concessions around like confetti Matthias clashed increasingly with Rudolf (one of whose titles he had just pinched after all) and managed to convince a large group of people that he would be the better ruler.  Pausing only to marry his cousin (a fine Habsburg tradition) Matthias moved against Rudolf and seized control of the Austrian and Moravian lands of the Habsburgs.  This left Rudolf with only the titles of Emperor and King of Bohemia.  A year or so later Matthias essentially imprisoned Rudolf in Prague castle and persuaded him of the necessity to hand over the title of King of Bohemia as well.  When Rudolf finally died, possibly of depression but more likely exasperation, Matthias gained the imperial title which was the only one left.

Now, however chickens starting coming home to roost in battalions.  Matthias had cut deals with protestants for their backing for his ambitions which had alienated the remaining, maniacally catholic, members of his family.  What's more the protestants seized the opportunity to launch revolts in the hopes of gaining more concessions.  Matthias, who had hoped to bring about a compromise between the two now found himself roundly distrusted and hated by both parties.  In the last months of his reign the ultra catholic Habsburgs managed to essentially do unto Matthias what Matthias had done to Rudolf squeezing the titles of King of Hungary and King of Bohemia out of him for his ultimate successor Ferdinand II.  Fortunately for him he died just before everything went completely to hell in the Thirty Years War which opened in the year of his death and ran for three decades to packed houses all over central Europe.

Another Silly After Action Report

Of all the various weapons, vehicles and aircraft that littered the Second World War one of the most iconic is surely the German tiger tank.  This isn't something that developed later either, it grabbed that cachet at the time and has held it ever since.  To the allied infantrymen who faced it every German tank was a tiger despite the statistical improbability involved.

This isn't particularly surprising.  Perhaps nothing ever built before or since has looked so appropriate to its purpose as the tiger tank.  If you ask a six year old child to draw a tank, they will draw a tiger.  There are other famous tanks from the era, arguably some of them are actually better tanks but nothing quite matches the sheer presence of a tiger.  If an alien were to come to earth they could look at a sherman tank or even the magnificent Soviet T-34 and perhaps for a brief second be unsure as to their purpose.  This couldn't possibly happen with a tiger.  The thing looks like a fist on tracks.  German tank designers would prove that they were no strangers to aesthetics and even elegance with some of their other designs but with the tiger they just thought, "Bugger it!  Let's make it brutal."  A tiger is a massive steel box with another somewhat smaller steel box set on top of it out of which protrudes a ridiculously long gun.  "Sloping armour is for wimps.  We'll make it all right angles and simply slather on the steel to compensate."

The result was a huge, hulking somewhat ponderous monster.  Sixty tonnes of self propelled armourplate carrying a gun which could quite literally kill anything that moved.  If you wanted to outgun a tiger you would be wise to bring a battleship.

A box on a box and a massive great gun

The deep impression the tiger had on the soldiers who opposed it, however, was as nothing to the impression it appears to have had on the scenario designers of the wargame I play.  Every possible opportunity to work a tiger into a scenario is snatched at with childlike enthusiasm.  Scenario titles are littered with references to tiger bodyparts.  "Eye of the Tiger", "Paw of the Tiger", "Fangs of the Tiger".  The "Dangling Genitalia of the Tiger" is in playtesting as we speak.

With that as a backdrop I sat down to play one such scenario with David Wilson.  I believe it was the Fangs of the Tiger; ASL Scenario SP87.  In this scenario a bunch of German infantry supported by four tigers attempt to push past a Soviet blocking force (including five T-43 tanks) and cross a bridge to safety.  Snow covers the ground and the stream was frozen (but not solidly enough to support a tiger).  Dave took the Germans (and thus the mighty tigers) while I commanded the Soviets.

I'm not going to bother going into the order of battle in detail.  It all stood or fell by the tanks.  The Germans needed to get a number of units across the bridge and off the board.  At least one of those units had to be a tiger.  The Soviets had to stop them and furthermore have one of their own tanks on or near the exit road at the end.  The Germans entered the board from the top of the picture below and were headed towards the bottom.

The beginning and pretty much the end
The truth is I made a bad botch of this scenario as a result of insufficient research.  The T-43 (essentially a fatter, less reliable T-34) is quite well armoured and carries a reasonably impressive 76mm cannon.  While they weren't a match for the tigers in a straightforward slugging contest I did think that with the opportunity to shoot first I might be able to inflict sufficient damage to make David struggle.  I expected to lose all my tanks but I had two more coming on as reinforcements to fulfill my victory condition.  If I had checked I would have noticed that while the tiger's gun can penetrate the frontal armour of a T-43 (albeit with a little difficulty) the T-43's 76mm has almost no chance of penetrating the tiger.

I would have done better to set up as far to the rear as possible off to the flanks in the hope of getting a side shot or two.  As it was my plan to delay him worked admirably for two turns.  He couldn't really just trundle past my tanks and expose his flanks and rear to them.  Unfortunately two turns was all he needed to pound every one of my tanks to scrap metal without a single scratch on him in return.  His only tank casualty came as a result of bad luck.  He broke the coaxial machine gun, then the main armament then completely destroyed it while attempting a repair.  The resultant recall reduced Dave to three tigers which as it turned out was two more than he needed.

I had a little better luck with his infantry.  One of my tanks, sensibly picking a target it could actually hurt, reduced an entire squad to little more than a red stain on the road and Dave himself killed one of his half squads by accident when it attempted to dismount from the tiger it was riding and boxcarred the morale check.  In return another of his halfsquads proved to be more than capable of killing one of my squads in close combat and the slaughter of my armour went on.

With my onboard tanks destroyed David sent a tiger down deep into my territory to await my reinforcements.  Which almost turned out to be awkward for him as I brought them on behind him.  With two tanks sneaking up behind a tiger you might have thought I had a chance for a little revenge.  Sadly not, Dave rotated the entire tank and killed both of them in the same firephase before they could fire a shot.  That was a little unlucky but in reality didn't affect the result at all apart from giving me a plausible sense of grievance.  With all my tanks destroyed I couldn't win and surrendered in shame only halfway through the game.

Possibly anticipating my tank fighting abilities David brought another scenario with him to fill in the rest of the day.  I lost that one halfway through as well and I'm not even going to bother writing about it. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Recycling Not So Much for Dummies as for the Mentally Retarded

There are many and varied ways of recycling old and useless materials and thus go some small way towards reducing the intolerable burden our species is thoughtlessly placing on the rapidly dwindling resources of our overstressed planet.  The most popular method is probably the "Greatest Hits" album.  However coming a close second in the popularity stakes is the garage sale.

For those who don't know a garage sale is essentially a means by which we get complete strangers to pay us for the privilege of transferring crap from our house to theirs.  They are the means by which we get rid of all the useless garbage that has been cluttering up our homes for years.  There doesn't seem to be any other way.  None of it appears to biodegrade, at least not within an acceptable timescale, and for reasons I can't possibly explain we point blank refuse to just throw the damn stuff out.  The things we sell at garage sales are the sort of things we didn't even remember we had until the time comes to flog them off to an unsuspecting member of the public.  We've never used any of it and probably don't even know where we got it.  Although if I had to take a guess I'd say we probably bought most of it at garage sales.

You can buy almost anything at a garage sale except anything valuable or useful.  There are however a few staples without which a garage sale cannot be said to be complete.  There will be the brightly coloured, mismatched plastic kitchen utensils.  There will be at least one hideous poster/print which the purchaser thought would make them look edgy or avant garde but now just demonstrates what a tasteless tosser they were and finally there will be a small but well thumbed collection of paperbacks. I use the term "well thumbed" advisedly.  It's entirely possibly these books have never been read.  Which is probably all to the good if you want future generations to have any interest at all in literature.  These books have been well thumbed by people thumbing through them at garage sales.

With these items as a foundation you then toss in anything broken, outdated, tasteless and unwanted (including in extreme cases kittens and surplus to requirements children) and then invite the general public in to paw through the tawdry flotsam of your life in the pitiable hope that there are other people stupid enough to buy this stuff.  In return for essentially paying to take your garbage out these people get to roll their eyes dramatically at your possessions, make value judgements on your homemaking ability and somehow forget that they are buying the stuff you are finally getting rid of second hand.

This seems like an eminently fair trade off to me and the planet will thank you for it.  Or at least the planet would thank you for it if anyone ever used anything they bought at a garage sale.  In actual fact we buy this stuff, toss it into the garage and then go to the shops to get the stuff we actually use.  So the actual benefit to the planet from a garage sale is virtually nil.  I wouldn't worry too much though.  When, finally, the planet is exhausted, filthy, crumbling and unliveable we'll probably be able to sell it to some gullible species at a garage sale.

Pity the Photo

The purpose of photographs has changed over the years.  In the very beginning the stiff formal presentation of the subjects was successful in convincing future generations that our Victorian forbears suffered from acute constipation.  Of course camera technology was in its infancy back then but it wasn't long before technological advances allowed the photograph to assume its rightful place in our society, ie kept between the covers of heavy books to be brought out at strategic moments for the purpose of embarrassing ones offspring on the occasion of meeting their boyfriend or girlfriend.

Sadly time, which should certainly know better, marches on.  As a result the noble photograph has been reduced to being little more than a record of the food we eat.  We then flaunt the photograph's shame and humiliation all over instagram for the amusement of the slack jawed public.

What is this going to say to future generations?  Assuming we can stop photographing our food for long enough to have any.  The people of the Victorian age will be remembered as sturdy (albeit constipated) groups of explorers, soldiers and industrialists.  Those of the early and middle twentieth century might not be so dynamic but will at least present as loving family units.  But the current crop will come across as lazy nonentities completely obssessed with food.

"Dear god," these thoughtful observers of ancient civilisations will say, "did they ever do anything except eat?"  Of course since the human race will have died of diabetes and congestive heart failure by this stage the thoughtful observers will be aliens.  When the ruins of our civilisation are dissected by dispassionate outsiders they will probably be surprised to find that some of our buildings weren't restaurants.

Until that happy time there is something we can do to make our decline a relatively painless one.  Essentially we have to ensure that the technology to take and upload photographs remains relatively expensive.  It's all very well to have our iphones made by half starved semi slaves but if they ever manage to get an instagram account they're going to rise up, tear us limb from limb and quite possibly cannibalise us.  Although not before taking a photograph to post on instagram.  The real danger to our way of life comes not from the desperate poverty of others but the very real risk that they gain just sufficient wealth to realise what they're missing out on.  Revolution is caused by affluence not poverty.  The truly and deeply poor are far too busy trying to survive to revolt against anything.

It isn't food riots that will destroy civilisation.  It will be "I can't get a decent rare steak with a red wine jus, wilted asparagus, distressed spinach and absolutely brutalised carrots to go with my cheeky sauvignon blanc" riots that are going to do for us.  If we really want to prolong our existence for a few more decades we should probably start taking pictures of lentils and gruel and posting them on instagram.  If the suffering masses believe that's what we're subsisting on they may spare us for a little while longer.

The whole impetus for this blog entry came from an icecream I bought the other night.  Naturally I took a photo of that and naturally I posted that photo on instagram.  I would dearly like you to think I did it ironically.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

CanCon 2015

Well its been a long time coming, a combination of internet issues and a heavy workload have resulted in my not being able to do any blogging for a couple of weeks but in response to absolutely no demand whatsoever finally here is the penultimate entry for my Canberra road trip.

The next morning; bright, early and not in the least hungover we made our way to Exhibition Park for CanCon.  It was a revelation.  There were people everywhere!  Milling hordes of folk who apparently rarely saw the sun (or the gym) sizzled gently in the morning heat.  Attendees seemed to prescribe a sort of human sine wave; teeth and bellies protruded, chins and hairlines receded.  It is rare that our little bunch of wargamers can be accounted some of fittest and best looking human specimens in a group but so it was.  None of which helped us at all as we dragged our equipment up a modest flight of stairs and collapsed gasping and drenched with sweat at the top.  Except for those of us who had collapsed halfway up the stairs and were now looking for somewhere to throw up.

Eventually, and once they'd taken me off the oxygen, it was time to play.  Five scenarios in three days I hoped perhaps to win one or two.

The first scenario was FrF30, Biderman's Escape which sees a group of Germans, backed by a couple of AA gun toting halftracks attempting to flee Soviet Russia in 1944.  I commanded the red banner heroes attempting to stop this flight while stewardship of the pusillanimous Germans went to Eric Topp.

Eric had nine squads, plus the afore mentioned halftracks.  He needed to get three squads off the south edge of the board to win.  A halftrack counted as a squad.  To stop him I had six squads, an mmg, some concealment counters and reinforcements in the form of two slow, elderly, radioless T-26 tanks.  I set up my initial defences in two clumps.  On my far left where there was a ratrun down the side of the board I placed a squad, lmg and a leader with another squad in support.  In the centre right I had my 9-1 leader, mmg and a squad covering the direct approach down the road plus the other two squads protecting him and covering the right flank.  The centre was covered by one squad in a wooden building and my prayers.

Eric came in hard on my left while sending a token force through the buildings against my right.  One of his halftracks rolled down the ratrun with squads in support while other squads filtered through the woods probing for openings

Germans have to exit off the bottom edge of the board

 My lmg squad managed to stun one of his halftracks and then he and fellow defender fought like heroes against overwhelming odds.  Eventually they fell of course but by this time I had pulled my centre defence squad across to the left to reinforce and my tank reinforcements had clanked slowly towards the fighting.  By the time Eric had cleared the buildings I was defending and made it to the road there were a pair of T-26 tanks covering the crossing.

Over on the right a cautious secondary defence met a cautious secondary attack, there were a couple of breaks and a certain amount of trading ground for time on my part but I managed to tie him up sufficiently so that his right hand force couldn't get through.

On the left things got brutal as Eric was forced by time pressures into increasingly risky actions.  He did eventually get across the road and into the building but with my tanks sweeping the area with fire he could get no further.  Highlights included my generating a hero while passing a ridiculously low morale check and taking his 9-2 officer and a squad prisoner only to lose them the next turn as their guards finally succumbed to the inevitable.

Completely out of time Eric ran his troops for the exit under direct fire from my tanks on the left and my mmg on the right with predictable results.  One victory for me, unfortunately it was a "friendly" introductory game and didn't count towards the competition.

Scenario two did count and of course I lost it.  I played Paul Seage in BFP30 Melee Near the Coast.  If you have a retentive memory you might recall that I have actually played this scenario before in a competition.  Then I was the Chinese and my opponent was David Wilson and I lost.  If you substitute Paul's name for David's you probably don't need to read this.  Another parallel with my previous match with Dave was that our mortars turned out to be useless.  Neither of us got any value out of them and would have been better off leaving them at home.

I was the Chinese again (through choice) attempting to defend a village against onrushing Japanese.  I had thirteen squads, a pair of mortars, a mmg and a reasonably decent officer.  I also got four elite squads as reinforcements.

Paul had thirteen and a half squads of Japanese, a trio of mortars and some lmgs,  He would also get three squads of reinforcements.  The Japanese have to capture 10 buildings which are split between a clump down by the river and another bunch behind a hill on the right.  Jungle, kunai, bamboo and palm trees mean that anywhere you think you have a line of sight you're probably wrong.  My intention was to use the bulk of my at start force to delay Paul's attack and use my reinforcements to garrison the rearmost buildings.  By this time Paul's weary (and hopefully depleted) force would lack the time to push them out.

Paul's forces pushing through the jungle. I was incapable of stopping him

OK, I did make one howling mistake.  I set up my medium machine gun on the hill on the right in a position which meant that thanks to bamboo and other hindrances it couldn't see a damn thing.  Other than that I don't think my plan was too bad.  I set up about a third of my force in the village guarding the stream.   Another third (plus dummies) went into the jungle to put a wall of arms and legs in Paul's way.  The mortars set up on the other hill.  I also set up one squad in the rear building cluster guarding the right flank just in case he pushed through my defence on the hill a wise but futile precaution.

 Paul pushed aggressively through the jungle and (a little more circumspectly) towards the stream.  Each of our mortars failed to support our respective efforts with smoke or high explosive.  Once Paul closed up with me in the jungle I learned an important lesson.  My troops were not just cardboard, they were wet cardboard.  They collapsed the moment pressure was put on them.  Paul cleared me out in close combat without taking a single casualty (killing my dare death squads while doing so). 

Over at the stream things were slightly less one sided and fire was exchanged and blows were traded for a turn or two.  Paul finally lost patience and one of his squads went berserk.  This guy managed to kill at least two squads in advancing fire and failure to rout before he ever actually went into close combat.  Seeing the writing on the wall I tried to withdraw the (now somewhat tattered) remnants of my force behind the hill to the rear village.  Unfortunately my idiot mmg set up had allowed Paul to walk straight up to it and kill the owners.  He then swarmed the hill thus dominating my retreat path.  A rare beautiful moment occurred when he got just a little too eager and moved a squad straight down a road at me and a crew killed it outright with a 1-2 snake eyes.  Still the hill was his, my reinforcements were panting towards the buildings but needed another turn to get there.  Time for my rear defence squad to earn his pay.  Sadly at about this time my rear defence was broken by a sniper and the entire village was wide open.  It could have gone on for another turn or two but I decided enough Chinese had died that day and conceded.

So, a defeat.  This meant I was out of the running to win the tournament.  But there were still games I could humiliate myself in.  Games like the next scenario AP86 Milling About.  This pits a British (actually Gurkha and Indian) force against the Japanese (with some Burmese in tow) in a rather unusual situation.  The objective is simple enough.  The Japanese need six more victory points than the British which they can gain either in battle or by exiting troops off the south edge of the board.  The unusual situation arises in that both sides set up pretty much on top of each other without either side being aware of where the other will be.

I took the defending British and my namesake Neil Andrews took the Japanese.  Dense jungle is in effect meaning no multilocation firegroup and movement hindrances.  Neil (the other Neil, I don't usually refer to myself in the third person) also had a couple of Burmese squads who could help the Japanese move swiftly through difficult terrain.  The set up is below.
The Japanese need to get off the bottom edge of the board, this they did in spades

What happened was a race for the flanks.  If Neil could get around my initially very clumped up forces it would be impossible to prevent him getting enough troops off for a win.  What happened was Neil got around my initially clumped up forces and got enough troops off for a win.

The British need to pull back and at the same time spread out to form a defensive line the Japanese have to fight through.  On my right flank I more or less achieved this,  Neil got one squad past but after that nobody else got out that way.  On my left it was a different story.  With less cover I thought I could allocate fewer troops and still manage to shoot up anything going that way.  As it was Neil pushed vigorously on my right and I focused so tightly on stopping him there that I didn't pay enough attention to what was happening on my left.  He filtered a large force through and it rapidly became apparent that I didn't have the force to stop him.

By the time I noticed and started pulling some troops back and across I was already playing catch and this allowed Neil to press in the centre as well.  The most impressive of my troops were on the right where they did their job but were out of position to deal with the remainder.  My left flank came under fire from both sides and essentially disintegrated leaving Neil a clear run for the exit.  Salt was rubbed into the wound when I made an attempt to cover the exit of his middle troops by moving an elite squad, 9-2 leader and the mmg around to a position where they could fire on anything that passed.  To do this I had to move through just one hex of open ground giving Neil the opportunity for a 2-1 shot.  He killed them, he killed them all and what might have been a defeat was turned into a humiliating rout.

So three games and two losses but more importantly two competition games and two losses.  Fortunately in my next game I would be commanding Italians so my victory was assured.

Scenario 4 was ESG106 Splatter Spray which pitted the last battle worthy elements of the Italian army on Sicily making a last ditch attempt to defend Palermo from Patton's onrushing Americans.  As the Italians (of course) I had fifteen squads divided evenly between not very good and outright bad.  However I also had a 9-1 leader, hmg, mmg and three lmgs.  My opponent, Peter Howard, had fourteen squads, a mmg, a pair of 60mm mortars and a pair of M3 halftracks to carry them around.  Fourteen squads doesn't sound like much to take on fifteen until you realise that the American squad has double the firepower of its Italian equivalent.

Peter had to capture sixteen buildings which were for the most part grouped in three clumps.  One clump was perilously close to the American entry location and would no doubt fall swiftly, a second clump was in the north east near a sort of lake thing.  The final clump (and naturally the key to the whole defence) was behind a ridge.  Peter needed sixteen buildings and he couldn't get the necessary number without taking at least a couple behind the ridge.  Thus the ridge became my main defensive line.  Expendable diversionary forces went into the other two building clumps to force Peter to split his troops but the best of my men, the officers and both the hmg and the mmg were nestled in foxholes guarding the ridge.

Peter brought on his forces in two more or less equal groups.  One he sent off to capture the other two building clumps while the second worked its way towards the ridge.  The M3s rolled on and a machine gun shot promptly recalled one although not before it had unloaded its mortar.  The story unfolded as one might expect over in the east as Peter's forces sliced through my expendables like a knife through butter but along the ridgeline it was a different story.  I had some open ground to work with and I was sitting in foxholes.  A critical hit from one of his mortars on my hmg position wasn't helpful but I managed to hang on.

Eventually Peter, perhaps feeling the pressure of time, ran out of patience and launched a frontal assault on the hill.  The results were ghastly, I three American squads were broken (two surrendered) and his preparations were thrown into disarray for a turn.  Peter did eventually pull himself together and started making a more methodical attack (aided by his mortar which was killing everything that moved) along with a flanking squad to get around behind the ridge but he'd left it a turn too late and when the game ended my gallant Italians were still clinging to the ridgeline by their eyelids and covering the last clump of buildings.  Below is a picture of the midpoint of the battle just after Peter's doomed charge.  If you think you can't see many Americans near the ridge that's because I've just captured or killed most of those conveniently to hand.  Over in the northeast he is closing on another group of defended buildings but these are being defended with throwaway troops and are soaking up a lot of his available bodies.

Which only leaves the final scenario, J103 Lenin's Sons.  Returning to where it all began, on the eastern front I would command a pretty high quality force of Soviets attempting to defend a small village from a very high quality force of attacking Germans.  The role of Germans was to be played by Mark McGilchrist.  I had six elite squad equivalents, a pair of first liners making up the numbers plus a 10-0 commissar, hero, mortar and a pair of demo charges.  In return Mark had ten elite squads, an mmg, a flamethrower and a pare of demo charges of his own.  With such awesome troops and amazing firepower this one would surely be spectacular.

My initial set up, defending the woods at the top and covering the more or less open ground at the bottom.  Mark will be arriving from the left.

Well actually no not so much.  This wasn't really the fault of Mark or myself.  I had set up with a forward defence in the woods and further troops back in the village itself covering the open ground.  Mark set up a firebase opposite the open ground (just out of shot in the picture above) but sent most of his troops through the woods.  So far so good but it became rapidly apparent that neither of us could shoot anything.  Each of us had ridiculously bad dice, Mark had difficulties pushing me back but I couldn't hurt him either.

In four turns he gradually cleared me out of the woods and positioned himself for the final assault on the village.  He had the numbers and the firepower but he didn't have the dice.  But then neither did I, as the noose drew tighter I shot away at anything that moved with very little effect.  Finally, on the last turn numbers and firepower told and with his last move Mark managed to capture the final building required for victory.  Highlights included my not once but twice tossing a demo charge into an adjacent hex (in keeping with our dice rolling this hurt me more than it hurt him) and in one solitary piece of amazing rolling my winding up with a fanatic 10-0 commissar which certainly steadied my defence for a while.  In the end Mark played well enough to beat bad dice and I didn't.

So that was CanCon.  Five games three defeats but at least I won with the Italians so I'm going to call the overall weekend a success.

A huge vote of appreciation has to go to Ivan Kent who arranged our accomodation, rented our car, drove us around everywhere and put with questions like "Is that a cow?"