Fourteen months is a long time to go without seeing some of your favorite friends. On May 8, the Second Saturday Scrum Club held its first in-person gathering at Scum Hall since our March 14, 2020 game, and it was a grand time.
During the pandemic, we all did our best to maintain the monthly schedule baked into the club's name, but those games were all conducted virtually, running the gamut from multi-camera tabletop wargames to Tabletop Simulator matches to role-playing games (which everybody in the club loves to play even though we are a club ostensibly devoted to wargaming).
I was glad for Zoom and all of the ways we were able to stay in each other's lives for games and camaraderie (one Scrum Club happy hour stretched to three and half hours, which is a long time to hang in front of a monitor alone together).
But, as all wargamers already know, nothing beats being in the same room together, chucking dice and pushing lead soldiers across a table.
We were all kinda giddy with excitement, to be honest, and everybody remarked more than once during the evening how much they missed it all. In fact, we may have made up for 14 months of ball busting in a single night. I usually feel like I have to tread carefully in that regard because I'm apt to trash talk a bit more freely than the rest of the gang, but I'll say everybody was in pretty fine form when it came to jocular razzing, and I got at least as good as I gave.
I was so excited to finally play a game face-to-face that I set aside the whole day for gaming, inviting folks to come around 1:00 to try GKR: Heavy Hitters, a game I picked up during the pandemic but had yet to play. I bent one of my own club rules and put a board game on the table, justifying it as simply a warm-up for the big miniatures wargame scheduled for later in the evening. John Sears showed up to play, and Francesco showed up for a couple of hours to spectate and chat with me, John, and wife Ellen (for the future biographer, Ellen and I would never have met if not for our mutual pal Francesco).
It was a fun game, and I look forward to playing it again with more players. Fellow Scrummer Josh O'Connor has the game, too, and we're already talking about how to create a double-sized battlefield for up to eight of us to play simultaneously (reminiscent of the mega-Space Hulk game Jared Smith and I put together a couple of years back using three separate copies of the game).
|Battlin' giant robots across a post-apocalyptic cityscape...what's not to love?!?|
Eventually, Steve Braun made his entrance at the traditional 4:30 start time to set up a big game of Oathmark for the evening. Rather than use the game's proscribed setting, Steve prepared a clash in Hyboria set in the waning days of Conan's reign as king of Aquilonia. Steve and I share a great fondness for Robert E. Howard and his Conan yarns (we collaborated a couple of years back on some scenarios we ran at conventions in 2018-19 inspired by "Beyond the Black River" using the Sellswords and Spellslingers rules), so I was excited to play more in that milieu.
John and Walt played the Aquilonians and their allies, and Steve and I played the...I honestly can't remember. I was just so happy to be playing a game with friends, that sadly the incidental details were just that...incidental. (I am so sorry, Steve!) I know that we called the game around 10:00 p.m. when Walt had to start his trek back to Virginia, and it seemed doubtful that Steve and I could win the battle, especially as Walt was wheeling a mounted Conan and accompanying elite guard of Black Dragons around to charge across the field at a lot of our already weakened units. If you're interested in hearing more of a battle report, you can jump over to Walt's blog for a lopsided narrative that omits some of my own heroics on the field of battle, but as they say...the victor gets to write history. Walt also includes a bit more of a review of the Oathmark rules, which were new to the Scrum Club given they were released during the pandemic.
You'll see from most of my photos below that I was much less occupied with the ebb and flow of the battle than I was the people I was finally getting to share a table with. We had a rollicking good time, and in some surreal way it was as if we had come out of hibernation right where we had left off. Hopefully next time we will have even better attendance as the rest of the Scrum Club gets through their vaccinations. I can't wait for the rest of the tribe to finally be reunited.
|Steve (left) prepping the figures and table as John (standing) and Walt (sitting) catch up.|
|John taking in all of the praise we heaped on him for the great Kickstarter he had just launched a couple of days prior for his line of "Star Schlock" miniatures.|
|My cavalry thundered into foes up and down the line until they finally fell...|
|Steve did a lovely job on all of the figures he put on the table that night. A real pleasure to play with them.|
|"This hill is mine, Conan! Take your Black Dragons and be off with you!" (I didn't hold the hill.)|
It was especially fun getting to host the game in the newly renovated Scrum Hall (i.e., our dining room). And I think we're finally abandoning our go-to pizza order of Papa Johns for the much tastier &Pizza, which opened in Silver Spring during the pandemic. And later this summer my Wyrmwood gaming table should arrive, making Scrum Hall an even posher location for our make-believe battles and flights of fancy.
(As usual, the good photos were taken by Ellen, the rest were by me.)