The Magic Tree


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By James M. Ward
It was Tuesday night, our weekly “anything goes” night. We all went to Robert’s house for the game. Monty was going to run it and was being very secretive as to what we were going to do. We filtered in one or two at a time until nine of us were there. The Tractics boys. Dave (I), Tim, and Brian were all clumped together talking about something called “Cham-bowi” armor (it sounded something like that) and I was just going over to see if I could incorporate it in my medieval campaign game when Monty started setting up the ping-pong table and Robert brought out the soda pop and food. Most everybody went over to help Monty, I went over to help Robert (which was my first tactical error of the night).
Monty had the Tractics boys and me (because my mouth was too full of food to protest) go into the other room with our written orders. When the three I was with read the WW II orders with us being the Germans, they were overjoyed. It seemed we were going to attack a bunch of snipers that were entrenched in a hilly area. That kind of game was their kind of thing, but it left me far from pleased. I never enjoyed playing any game using gunpowder (figuring it was too hard to duck a bullet or cannon ball), but I usually put up with it with as good a grace as I could manage. We were to be given an armored car, four halftracks, and two Kubelwagens. The list included enough men and materials to sink a pocket battleship. I ignored it and waited to be given what the others didn’t want. They started setting up vast battle plans with three or four alternate plans if the enemy did this or that. Our attack plan was to be called “Goblin” and it was to be a lightning quick pincer movement of men and vehicles. I tried to point out that goblins didn’t have pincers and maybe we should call it operation “Crabby” or maybe operation “Silverfish”. They ignored me and finished writing out volumes of orders. We put Dave (I) in charge. Tim and Brian didn’t like being blamed for things (especially things like losing the game for us) and Dave was from Chicago and was used to getting blamed for things. They gave me the armored car with the 20mm cannon and I was to guard the rear (they probably figured that I couldn’t do much harm back there). Tim started tooling up the dirt road with his two half tracks while Dave started up the other side of the board with his two half tracks into a grove of woods. Brian drove up the middle a little behind both advance groups and I sat back in the woods setting up what they a wide field of fire but what I called a good place to hide.
Then we saw the orcs!
They came out in hordes from a group of rocks in the middle of the board. Monty had tricked us into thinking we were going to fight a WW II battle and while he didn’t please the Tractics boys, I had a big grin on my face. I started roaring up the side of the board towards the Orcs wanting to tangle with the beasties, but that brought loud shouts from my teammates. They pointed out in typical German fashion that I had to obey orders and was to get back to where I belonged. I think that’s where my mind switched from German to the common tongue. The Orcs were cut to ribbons by a cross fire from the half tracks and those that survived ran back into the rocks closely followed by Brian and his Kubelwagens. Brian’s search revealed a secret tunnel. He was going to enter it and blast anything in his path, but Tim (acting like typical tricky SS storm trooper) suggested that it be booby trapped to explode when it was opened again. Dave and Brian thought that was a good idea and even I agreed (now thinking of it as a delayed blast fire ball). A fourteenth level EHP jumped up (it was Dave II) and threw an insect plague at us (he was used to sneaking up on things in a typical Petal Thrown fashion). The bugs were terrible and Monty rolled two of the German troopers dead from bites. I then suggested we toss a cloud kill on the bugs in the form of smoke bombs and that took care of the problem (they didn’t thank me).
Tim and Brian started saying something about “bore sighting” the likely hiding places and the castle on the hill and our leader Dave was talking about something called hedge hopping towards the primary objective. I then realized that thinking in the common tongue had made me unable to understand the language they were speaking. I just sat back in the woods, waiting for more D&D goodies to come crawling out of the hills. I have a funny feeling that it was the mortar fire that Dave (I) was directing at the castle that caused the four storm giants to come running out tossing boulders. Tim and Dave both laughed saying that rocks couldn’t hurt their armored half tracks (while I was backing my armor car behind some big trees). The first set of boulders crushed in the front of one of Tim’s units and pushed over the unit of Dave’s that had the mortar. Bullets (of all different calibers) didn’t seem to do much to them. The bazooka took out one and Brian got two others with his panzerfaust, but the remaining giant ruined one of his Kubelwagens and its crew. Two hand grenades took care of the wounded giant and we (or I should say the Tractics boys) started moving towards the castle at maximum speed to make them a tougher target for rocks. So far we had seen Orcs from Tom, and Giants from Robert and I figured now that we were making it hot for the castle Ernie would be raising his tricky head as a magic user and sure enough he jumped from another pile of rocks as a warlock, after the German units had passed of course. His fireball took out the half track that Tim had repaired and three of the troopers escaped with their lives and a flame thrower. I opened up on the pile of rocks he had come out of with my 20mm cannon (that 1 was now calling my lightning bolt thrower) and caused Ernie to run towards our little surprise in the other pile of rocks. We were all rewarded by a very satisfying explosion (related to us by Monty) and Ernie was supposed bits and pieces over a bunch of rocks.
Mike then told us all that he was taking out his flight wing. It was a pack of Manticores, but Mike spoke of everything in WW I flight terms and we all put up with it. He had the monsters go over Brian’s Kubelwagen in a strafing claw run and they ruined the thing. We then were able to get him into a triple crossfire and were able to ruin him a little too. Out of his ten uckies he was able to take one back into the castle walls. Mike was pleased with his kill ratio (numbers of any type impressed him) when Brian told him that kamikaze flyers didn’t come around until WW II. That got a laugh out of the rest of us, but he didn’t even grin.
Little did we know that when Dave (II’s) heroes and Robert’s superheroes were pelting us with arrows, Dave was raising Ernie for some more magical help. We lost some men to the arrows and they lost their heroes and superheroes to our return fire. We started mortaring the castle and a panzerfaust took out the front gate. With the gate gone, five Trolls rushed out at our Germans. Bullets and grenades didn’t do much good because they regenerated too fast, it looked bad for us when Brian thought of the flame thrower and burning Trolls (I guess he had switched from German to the common tongue too). Then the stupid Vampire of Tom’s rushed my armored car. My cannon a la lightning bolt thrower did nothing to the thing and he started charming away my men. I think it was Dave that suggested the use of phosphorous grenades on the thing. I didn’t even know I had any and according to Monty it sure did the job on that Vampire. It soon was all over but the shouting. Ernie started plastering us with spells from a tower of the castle; Dave as the EHP was sending out aerial servants right and left, Mummies and Ghouls from Tom and Robert came out of the ground, and Mike had a flight reserve of one Roc that really broke the Sopwith camel’s back as far as we were concerned.
We killed a few other things, but big deal; we were chomped in the end by a magical barrage that would have turned the tide for the Germans on D-day. While it was a total loss for our side, I considered it a personal victory for me. Not only had my D&D tactics helped us out some of the other Tractics boys D&D thinking had aided our cause. Proving, at least to myself and the few other sensible people reading this, that things of the D&D nature are the best . . .
Note this is the (in)famous night of Sturmgeshutz and Sorcery


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