Saturday, August 30, 2008

Another haul of treasure

Today I got to go round a BIG car boot sale and of course I was only interested in games. I really didn't see anything else. Tons and tons of toys and games that are really toys pretending to be games. Yet, despite all of the brightly coloured plastic not one copy of Loopin Louie!

However I had a double treasure haul of goodies. The first is an game from '73 called The Game of Nations. It looks good. The pieces are a bit spartan and with a quick glance it all looks very Diplomacy like, but with some fun added.

The other treasure was simply getting my hands on a second copy of Heroscape Rise of the Valkyrie. The lad behind the stall said it was all there, and I couldn't beat him down to less than £5. So in the end I handed over the huge wad of cash and walked away with the game.

I only picked this up because I wanted more of the scenery that comes with the game. I have no use for the minis and cards as they are just duplicates of the ones I've already got. ... and it's just as well. I still went through the new game process of checking the component list to see if it was all there. It wasn't. The honest looking boy, it turns out, was a liar! A couple of the minis were missing. One was broken off its base, ones weapon hand was missing and the dragon had only 1 wing. Also one of the army cards was missing.

So I was very glad I only brought this for the scenery because all of that was in the box. So now I have a loverly second set of scenery to add to my current set. This will allow me to build bigger and better maps over which to fight. A good day out!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Lost Treasures...

One of the guys at work reported that he had a bunch of games in his garage that the kids didn't play any more and woudl I like to look over them. Of course I said yes. Yesterday he turned up in the office, with a huge sack, all he needed was a red suit and I'd have said "Hello Santa"!

I dove into the bundle of goodies and had a great time. There were a couple of puzzles that I passed over. There were a couple of trivia games, once again I passed over them.

Trivia games have never interested me. They are a poor excuse for a game really, your progress depends on general knowledge and nothing to do with skill. I'll never forget the sad pathetic games of Trivial Pursuit that grind to a halt with everyone with only one segment missing and not able to answer that one type of question. For me it was always sport questions. I know less than nothing about sport, so I was never going to get that point.

So skipping the trivia games, I dug down deeper and came across something else that caught my eye.

A complete copy of a Harry Potter game. In the past I've turned my nose up at any "License" game as I've always found them rather poor. That changed a while back when I heard Scott ( of Board Games with Scott ) mention that sometimes just sometimes these games are quite good. The umpteenth retheme of "Life" might have a particular theme rules added that makes it cool, so he said. So now I give these games a chance. So I snuck this game onto my take home pile.

The next game is one of my old games! A few years back I spent a year and a half living with my family and two dogs in a camper van and as the day of moving into it came nearer and nearer I started giving away all of my games, I would have nowhere to put them! Anyway, the game I pulled out was my old copy of DungeonQuest. Alas, alas, as my friend told me the game was missing one of its boards, and had been missing it when I gave it to him. I still dont know what happened to that board.

The next game out was another of mine, Space Fleet. An old Games Workshop game, back from where they made games! So this went straight into my keeper pile.

Next was Dragon Quest another of my old games. Never actually played by me, or the guy from work. So still in excellent game and now back in my collection, huzzar!

The last game is an old family game, the name escapes me at the moment but it's horror themed and has huge board, lots of cards and and minis. I'll look forward to getting this one home.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bank Holiday Gaming Goodness

Here I am on Bank Holiday Monday just relaxing after a loverly game of Doom The Boardgame. I just spent an hour and a half blasting my kids with monsters and fireballs, ahh such fun!

The manufacturers Fantasy Flight have posted some rules variants on their web site that allow you to adjust the difficultly level. As I was playing with the kids, I used these rules to dial down the difficulty one level and make life just a little bit smoother for their game play.

It worked very well. I had to remind them a few times to keep moving and not get into the kill all of the monsters mind set. That happened last time. They concentrated so hard on killing monsters and I kept spawning monsters that they ended up running out of ammunition and failed to get anywhere near the end of the level.

Today however they did extraordinarily well. We were playing the second mission and the kids kept moving and even , wait for it, won! Thats right, they won, they found the red dorr and scooted through it before I could kill their marines. It was a close game, I had 5 frags and only needed 6 to win. It all came down to a single roll by the cyber demon, who needed to score 7 woulds to win. He only got three.

These kids are good.

But my good gaming day didn't end there. I've been playing Valor & Victory recently and found I was looking up the terrain details, movement costs and firing effects. So today I knocked a Terrain Reference sheet together. I've posted that to Board Game Geek and it should appear there in the next few days. On a side note I also recently posted two other files for this game on BGG. These were a simple Turn Sequence reference card ( to stop me confusing myself when playing solo ) and a tiny scenario that only uses very few counters, which would be a good one to start with when learning the system.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fixing Doom Figures

When you buy Doom: The Board Game you get a lot of plastic figures. Like many other people when I got my set I found that many of the bigger figures had warped bases. They still stood up, but tended to lean forwards and look rather silly.

After all, these are supposed to look like nasty beasties from another dimension, not aged ugly blokes who have lost their walking sticks!

Well I recently read on Board Game Geek about a remedy to this problem. It is simplicity itself.

Boil some water, put in a cup. Submerge the figures base in the water for a few seconds, then hold the plastic under the cold tap making sure to hold it straight. This effectively refreezes the plastic.

It worked first time for me, and so I spent half an hour fixing all of the warped bases in my set.

My olde blokes, now look rejuvinated back into youthful befanged monsters of DOOM!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Freedom for creative juice

It might happen today! I might get to play a game! While my time at home has drifted away, I may have a chance to play during the lunch hour at work.

I've managed to take in Heroscape, it took two days to get it there ( there's no way I could carry the whole set the 10 miles to work on my bicycle).

Now I think about it I probably wont get a chance to play, we'll be setting up and choosing armies today... oh but tomorrow I may get to roll a die!.

On another note, last night I changed a long ingrained habbit. As a hobbist game designer I've always written my game notes and ideas into A5 spiral bound note pads. Last night I found great liberation in using the printer paper that was due to go into the recycing. This is loose leaf, printed on one side, leaving the other side free for my notes. I found that with loose sheets I could scrawl notes quickly, draw bigger diagrams, mock up boards across multiple sheets, in short I found freedom from the tyranny of the A5 spiral pad!

I have a spare box file, so I'll be dropping these idea sheets into there. You probably wont understand what I mean, I know that. I understand, I feel the FREEDOM.

As an example I was able to quickly throw my ideas onto paper and get some sleep. Often if I've been carefully noting ideas into a neat notebook I find my head still swimming and that prevents sleep. So in ten minutes I was able to sponge out ideas for a Arkham Horror like game and a Sonic the Hedgehog platformer.

Last night, was good sleeping!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Alas alas for gaming...

I'm feeling a little bereft of late. My mucking about with boardgames has kind of ground to a halt.

The first thing to get in the way was one of my podcasts. I was under time pressure to get the next Cthulhu Podcast out of the door. I've set myself a timetable of getting 1 per month released and the day was drawing close. So for a week all of my effort has been going into the latest episode which is actually a mini dramatic piece.

Unless you've done a podcast you really don't know how much time it takes. I used to think it was just switch on the mic' and go...then I started recording and the true picture came through. When you have to not only record, but edit, search for and add sound effects, add in just the right music, post production, and then once it's up on the web you have to advertise. Oh it goes on and on.

So I get that out of the way and I find my time taken up by another project. This one is a web site that I'm building that will hopefully bring in a little pin money that will of course go on games!

So I've just had a weekend with not a single game! I should be able to get some games in at lunchtime at work, but that's doubtful as well due to current work load.

As my wife would say, things are a bit "muh".

Friday, August 15, 2008

Valor & Victory - Review

Valor & Victory is a hex and counter wargame for two people. The game is a free Print and Play product and available for download on the web from it's own site at . The game is WWII combat themed and represents individual squad action.

The game is currently packaged as a series of PDF documents, ensuring that all of the parts will print to the same scale.

Game boards

At time of writing there are four game boards available, these can be used individually or placed next to each other as a larger playing surface. The boards show various arrangements of countryside in a top down view. On the boards already produced we can see, streams, lakes, woods, roads, hedges,walls, cropped fields, canals and houses. All of the boards look very nice and are excellently produced. I particually like the Pegasus Bridge board.

The boards are overlayed with a hex grid, each hex has a unique letter-number identification which is used to indicate particualr locations. For instance you might have a scenario indicating in which hex a particular unit might start, and this is indicated by use of the identification number. These numbers are small and do not obscure the artwork.

Additionally each board has a board-identification-number on it, which is used to indicat a particular should should be used for a scenario. The number is quite large but coloured so that it blends in quite nicely with the terrain.

Each hex has a small white dot at it's centre that is used for determining line of sight.


The counters are single sided and represent one of the following, Infantry squad, Infantry half squad, Leader, Individual vehicle or artillery piece. Currently there are three "armies" available, that is, a sheet of counters for each of three nations, the US, Germany and the UK. Squads and half-squads are represented on the counters by a number of soldiers standing. The artwork is representative of the nationality and very crisply produced, these are very pleasant looking counters. They also have the statistics used in the game printed on them.

The leader counters show the head and shoulders of an individual, a close up if you will, and the name of the individual leader, such as "Cpt Johnson".

Infantry support weapons and grenades are shown individually and are stacked with normal units to indicate their use.

The vehicles and guns are shown top down and once again very nice to look at.


The game has a number of markers these are once again nicely laid out and look very nice. You get counters to indicate Mines, Sandbags, trenches, barbed wire etc that indicate the presence of said item in a hex. You also get a number of in-game counters used to indicate effects and events that take place. For instance if a counter moves it gets a "Moved" counter, a unit that Fires it's weapons gets a "Fired" counter, when smoke is used a counter gets placed at the appropriate hex. Counters are also used to represent artilley barrages and air strikes.


The rules are presented in two ways. One PDF simply prints them up with two columns in landscape ( like two pages of a booklet ) and the other PDF has the pages arranged to that is can be printed in booklet form. You only need print one as the only difference is in the arrangement of the pages.

The rules themselves are very well written. There is little or no ambiguity. Each section and paragraph is individually numbered. There are a number of diagrams and examples scattered throughout the text that not only help you to understand the complexities in the system but also pleasantly break up the text. I found the rules to be well layed out and in a meaningful order. That meantthat when I had to look up some statistic or rule, then I easily found it in the relevant section. Having read a number of similar rules sets where this is not the case I really appreciate it.

Game Play

A turn is divided into two player segments, player A goes first then player B. During their segment a player goes through the following phases.

Command Phase : The player rallies all of their pinned troops and carries out Artillery and air support attacks. He may also split or merge squads.

Fire Phase : The player may attack will his units, marking those units that have fired.

Movement Phase : The player may move his troops. Troops have a number of movement point and expend these to enter hexes, the cost of each move is dependent on the terrain in the hex and on the hex border. Units may also opt to move Assault move, which halves movement points but increases defence against Opportunity fire. Player B may elect to fire with any his units that have a line of sight to any of player A's troops as they move. This also allows player B to create fire lanes for support weapons. Units are marked as having moved or fired appropiately.

Defensive Fire Phase : Any of Player B's units that have not fired as opportunity fire may now fire if they have a line of sight to player A's.

Advance and Assault Phase : Player A may now move any and all of his units 1 hex or carry out a Close Assault attacks against adjacent units.

After Action Phase : Player A may attempt to rally any of his units that are pinned. Move and Fired counters are removed, smoke counters are reduced.


Anti Personnel combat is resolved on a simple table, the fire points of all attacking units are summed and this is cross referenced against the roll of two dice. The result indicates a number of casualty points that the defender allocates as reductions in squads, squad eliminations and pinning actions. The die roll is modified by Leader scores as appropriate, the effects of terrain in the target hex and intervening terrain.

Close assault is odds based, with particular odds giving a kill number, which is resulved with the roll of a single die.

Armoured combat is once again a simple table, cross reference the attacks gun against the defenders armour taking into account the aspect of attack, and roll less than the resulting number.


I've played a few games using this system and have been very impressed with what I've found. The game system retains a level detail that should keep the most hardened grognard happy while at the same time removing the tricky details that can bog down other game systems and turn them into a bit of a slog.

Play is quick and smooth and there is very little downtime. Each player is involved during the other players turn due to the opportunity fire/defensive fire mechanisms meaning you are never left sitting idly by watching the fun happening on the other side of the table.

The game is free and web published, so go download it you have nothing to lose and a good game to gain!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Thunder Road

On saturday a trip to one of the local charitity shops brought to light a game that I've had on my radar for a number years.

The game is called ThunderRoad and was/is produced by MB games. Being MB it's a mass market affair and was obviously inspired by either the Mad Max films and or the Road warfare game produced by Games Workshop back in the day.

What we have ended up with is a mass produced game that's actually quite fun. It's not deep and does not have a lot od stratergy and is far from being a gamers game but is so simple and quick to play that it still wins out.

The idea of the game is to race your three cars along the road shooting and ramming your opponents cars as you do so, last man driving wins. Today I had one game that went on for about ten turns and another won by my ever-winning-son that lasted only three turns!

So it's quick, has a fun theme and actually the bits are jolly nice as well, and a super bonus, it only cost me a pound!

I should be doing a review and a session report in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


I've been playing with the Valor & Victory system trying to create a new scenario. I sorted out which boards I wanted to use, (there are 3 now!) then laid out the counters in the start positions I favoured. This allowed me to get a good feel for the balance of the forces.

That's when I ran into the problem! I wanted the scenario to use a few vehicles, tanks and so on. The system does not yet have stats or counters for the Infantry Anti Tank weapons! I contacted the designer and apparently the numbers/stats for these are not firmed up yet. He is still working on the game, obviously he wanted to get the Infantry side of things worked up and out there ASAP.

So now I have to wait a while until the stats get published, and then I'll be able to post the scenario on BoardGameGeek.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Valor & Victory - Session Report

Valor & Victory is a high quality, FREE ( yes FREE ), print and play, squad based, WWII hex and counter wargame. This is easily the equivalent quality of the Lock n Load system.

Anyway what follows is a session report from my first game using the games first official scenario : Hedgerow Hell.

The Germans knew the Americans were coming. They dug in on the road to Treviere and between the hedges just next to the road. Two other squads were placed further east next to the stream. The other two squads were placed to the west occupying a building and a field filled with hay stacks.

The Americans advanced, fearing the road would be too obvious the first squads pushed through the hedge to the east of the road and entered the field only to find themselves in an MG fire lane. The MG was mounted in the foxholes on the road but has a clear line of sight into the field. The Americans went to ground.

Another squad pushed through the hedges to the west of the road and started moving through the crop fields. Some ineffectual fire from the occupied buildings and haystacks was ignored.

The Americans advanced again. Those in the crops came under effective fire, the unit on the road was pinned down and those to the east of the road became pinned or took casualties. The Germans in the eastern fox holes got as good as they gave.

The German left wing advanced from thier start line, running up to the hedges that edged the east-west road. From there they could pour fire onto the Americans on the road.

Doyle and a depleted half squad skirted the foxholes and broke through to the south. The Germans on the right wing left their strong points to close on the action in the centre and plug the hole Doyle had just used.

A brave American leader lead his troops in an assault on the foxholes across the road. He successfully wiped out the German occupants, but at a terrible cost, after the melee he was the only man left standing.

Meanwhile the Americans moved out of the fields on either side of the road and took casualties or became pinned. The Germans of the left wing weren't getting away with it, they were also taking hits.

The Germans from the right wing dived into the fox holes killing the brave American leader, but this left them with only their leader.

The Americans now strung out along the east west road started running along the road to get around the Germans right which was now sat on the north-south road.

The Germans moved out from behind the hedge and shot into the rear and flank of an American unit pinning them there. They also ineffectually tried to pin the runners with some confused close quarters shooting.

Then the Americans broke through, leaving half a squad to be taken prisoner.

On the road to Treviere was Doyle, two squads, and three half strength squads. A success for the American player.

The Germans were left with only three full squads and the three leaders Lensen, Steiner and Weissman

Friday, August 01, 2008

SPIV's Session Report

I just today completed my first session of SPIV's. It was quite an experience.

This is not a gamers game, but if you approach it as a lighthearted game perhaps as a family game, you'll have a good time.

I played in a two player game that was played over four lunchtimes at work. Now dont suppose we played for four hours, these lunchtimes, excluded time for eating and interruptions by actual work.

We actually started out very slowly as we didn't have any plain idea of what exactly you were supposed to do. We knew there was a goal of collecting money, but we literally had no idea how we earned it when we started.

Of course as a first game there was also a lot of slow turns on the first day and a not a few look ups in the rules.

By the second day, we were whizzing through. We followed the process of "move to planet-beam up alien- move to station-sell alien" once again with much reference to the rules.

By the fourth day we hardly looked at the rules at all, and when we did it was just to confirm.

We didn't count the money as we played but I had a feeling that I was behind every time my opponent landed a couple of high value aliens, and he felt likewise every time I did, which is a good feeling.

I tried buying one of the upgrades for my ship but prompty lost it when an alien drained me of my energy and therefore lost me the upgrade! That kind of soured me to upgrades from then on. However my opponent spent a lot of money and gained an upgrade that gave him extra range when he jumped, and frankly that looked useful enough that I now will consider buying it when I next play.

There were a few memorable moments, such as when after three or four turns of trying to reach a planet, I finally got there, only to have my opponent pick up an alien that swapped out locations!

Then there was the time I was constantly failing to bean up any aliens while opponent got an alien with every attempt, only to lose them all when the last one he picked up eate the others.

Those examples show the controlled chaos that goes to make up this game. Lots of die rolling, and card drawing all of which can change your situation and make you revese decisions you made last turn.

We finished the game early, because we had reached the end of the week as opposed to anyone getting the required 100,000 credits. As it turned out, it was quite a close game and I narrowly won.

We both agreed that it was a fun game, not deep, but fun and light hearted.