Thursday, March 22, 2012

Revisiting Merlyn's

(Image:  Nicol Williamson as Merlin in Excalibur)

No, not the famed wizard's tower, but the game store in downtown Spokane, WA. 

My first duty assignment in the military was Fairchild Air Force Base, in the mid 1980s.  Back then, Merlyn's was a small game shop inside The Flour Mill.

I was in Spokane, for the first time since my initial assignment, visiting my girlfriend's family.  To say I was excited to hear Merlyn's was still in business would be an understatement.  Just before leaving Spokane, we stopped by the store, now on Main St, to see if there's anything I couldn't live without.

Of course there was.  During our quick shopping spree, I bought The Everything Guide to Writing Graphic Novels, the latest D&D Dungeon Tiles: Cathedral of Chaos, along with Snow Miser and Heat Miser bobbleheads for my girlfriend.

The best part, is that my girlfriend enjoyed the visit because it reminded her of scenes in the sticom, Big Bang Theory.  She bought me a Game of Thrones Coaster Set and a Waco Glider model for an elderly gentlemen she takes care of. 

Since I'll be making semi-regular trips to Spokane, I'll be sure to swing by Merlyn's during every visit.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Hell Over Korea Wargame: The First Mission of Freshly Maid

My friend Tim is an aviation buff.  So he couldn't resist purchasing Legion Wargames' Hell Over Korea

Here's an after-action review (AAR) of his inaugural mission, (written as Captain Decker):

B-29, Serial No. 224325 “Freshly Maid,” assigned to the 98th Bombardment Group, 343d Bomb Squadron (Medium), Yokota, Japan.

The crew:
Bombardier. 1LT Neil Sutterfield, USAF. Trained at Roswell AAF bombardier school during the waning months of WW2. Had just deployed to the Pacific when the war ended. Fairly experienced, but not actual combat experience. Temporarily reduced to enlisted status post 1945, but has since had rank restored with the outbreak of hostilities in Korea.

Pilot. CPT Terry Decker, USAFR. Trained to fly the B-29 in 1945. Flew 8 missions over Japan before war ended. Remained in USAF reserves during interwar years while working for the Department of Public Works, Alameda, CA. Recalled to active duty in July 1950.

Co-Pilot: 2LT Harold Kimbro, USAF. New pilot, fresh from Training Command. Wanted to be a fighter pilot, but it didn’t work out that way.

Flight Engineer: MSgt Matthew Murawsky, USAF. Experienced flight engineer who flew full tour on B-24s with 8th Air Force.

Navigator: 1LT Damon Zubek, USAFR. ROTC student, graduated recently from Penn State. Hopes to go regular.

Radio Operator: T/Sgt Eugene Newlin, USAF. Joined the Air Force in 1948. Has been flying operationally since 1949. This is his first combat experience.

Central Fire Controller (CFC): T/Sgt Benjamin Montez, USAF. Served in Army during WW2 as a gunner on a B-25. Joined the AF in 1947 and has been serving in a variety of operational and training roles. Has some combat experience serving in the Aleutians during WW2 and in the Pacific.

Right Waist: Sgt Ted Bourdon, USAF. New gunner from Air Training Command (ATC)

Left Waist: Sgt Jesse Burkes, USAF. New gunner from ATC

Radar Operator: 1LT Edward Potter, USAF. Served as an enlisted man during WW2 in the USAAC. Did not leave the United States and was assigned to a number of technical and training command jobs. Demobilized in 1945. Joined USAF in 1948. Has peacetime experience as a radar operator in B-29s and other aircraft.

Tail Gunner: S/Sgt Nicholas Durkin, USAF. Joined in 1948. Assigned from Training Command. Has plenty of peacetime experience but no combat.

Mission 1: Interdiction Mission, Kanggye, North Korea

Fighter escort: Yes/F80-Cs from 51st FIW.

Weather: Patches of bad/poor weather.

Take off uneventful and although we hit a rough patch of weather over the sea of Japan, we successfully got through it and rendezvoused with the rest of the flight. It was nice to see those F-80 escorts, too, especially as this was a trip to “MiG Alley.”

Sgt Murawsky (Flt Engineer) notified me that the emergency fuel transfer pump was on the blink (random event), but I did not think it grounds for an abort. Apart from that, the run in to the target area was quiet until we were in Zone 8, when a Chinese AF Yak-9 was seen approaching from 6’O’clock low. The guy must have been green as this was a very clumsy attack. Sgt Durkin opened up on him at medium range with the tail gun and lower turrets. This must have scared the enemy mightily, as he broke off early and we did not see him again.

Upon arrival in Zone 9 (Target area), another Yak-9 came in from 3 O’clock high (Chinese). The bombardier took control of the upper turrets and let him have it when he came in range. The results were spectacular. The left wing of the Yak appeared to disintegrate under the pounding of the .50s and the aircraft went down out of control. No parachute was seen. I am submitting this as a confirmed kill.

Visibility over the target area was good (no negative modifiers, but no positive either). Flak was moderate and none of it hit us during the bomb run. Bombs were dropped in the target area—the bombardier estimates good results, with the rest scattered a bit due to high winds [20 percent accuracy/on target result].

During the turn around to exit the target area, things got interesting. The flak was still moderate but this time they bracketed us good—we took multiple hits in the nose area, resulting in a cracked windshield, destroyed LORAN instrumentation and a minor flesh wound to the navigator, LT Zubek. He was able to continue with his duties, however, and as we were depressurized no further damage was done. Some of the flak also hit the waist area and caused a bit of excitement when the fire extinguisher back there blew up, initially causing concern that the damage was serious. No one was hurt in the aft section, however.

Once clear of the Flak, a MiG-15 showed up for the first time. This guy seemed to be pro so my guess (based on the color scheme and other intel) was that it was a V-VS aircraft. Fortunately, he came in at 6 o’clock level and a combination of fire from the tail guns and lower aft turret spoiled his aim and he broke off, without making another pass. The F-80s buzzing around may have distracted him.

Once out of the area, another Yak-9 dogged us briefly, but was driven off by the fire from the front turrets. [North Korean Yak-9/green].

The rest of the mission was uneventful, until we hit another patch of nasty weather over the sea of Japan (again). Thanks to the loss of LORAN and the poor visibility, we found we were off course and had to burn some fuel to correct.

We landed at Yokota more or less on schedule in the dark. LT Zubek’s wounds are superficial so he won’t miss any duty time—guess he’ll get a Purple Heart for this one. The Crew Chief notified me that the damage should be repaired in time for our next mission.
Capt T. Decker, aircraft commander.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Grue Cafe #6: Massively Effected

For you Mass Effect 3 fans, the Grew Crue discusses the good, the bad in the inane of the latest offering from Bioware.

From what Doc Ezra and Kim say, games like Mass Effect are more than just shoot 'em-ups.  They're rich in character development and even--romance.

For some of you computer gamers, this may be nothing new.  But to this table-top gamer, who's too prone to motion sickness to play most of these games, this was something that made me go "hmmm."

But judging by the pictures I've seen on line, like the one's I used for this post, I can certainly see the--romantic appeal.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Noteworthy Blog #2: Early Dark Ages Campaign

Today, several of my friends will embark on a Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB) campaign sponsored by NWHistorical Wargames (NWHW).

They're using the latest rules, WAB 2.0, by Warhammer Historical.

I've played several WAB games with my friends and own the first edition rules, along with the supplements, but I don't have any armies of my own.  So I look forward to "gaming vicariously" through NWHW's blog posts.