Friday, November 28, 2008

This week in my gaming

None. No Gaming. I watched one game using my copy of Memoir '44 but thats it.

I have printed out a copy of a game called Deadly Harmony that looks like a good Print and Play game, and hopefully I'll get to play that this weekend. It's just been a really dry gaming week.

However I have been inspired to make up a dice roller for Memoir '44 which I hope to host on my BookRanger web site. I'll announce it here when done.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Podcast Advantage

One of the advantages of being a long time Podcaster is that you become a "name" so to speak. Being one of these podcaster fellows I get approached by people with games, that is, game designers pushing their games.

I really enjoy this. It means that designers will often contact me to let me know that their game is available so I get a heads-up when new games are published. Without this I would miss so many great games.

Now don't get excited, I don't get sent free games! My podcast is about free or cheap Print and Play board games, so most of these notifications are just the designers letting me know that that have posted their game PDF's on a web site somewhere.

Without these heads up messages the podcast would be a lot more difficult, so here's a shout out to all of you designers. Thanks for letting me know, and keep telling me!

You can find my podcast at

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Memoir '44 - Session Report

Return to Sainte Mere-Eglise.

The Allied Air Drop put three units into the central area, 1 to the south on the left flank, 1 next to Sainte Mere-Eglise , 1 north in the central region near the village of Neuville-au-Plain.

Allies - Air Power

A blinding bit of luck for the Allies as the Axis forces start clumped on the two wings. Looking at the choices, the Axis forces on the left flank looked more vulnerable due to the lack of cover and the number of units close enough to attack them as a follow up. The luck continued and four Axis units are immediately reduced to 2 soldiers each.

Axis - Assault Left Flank

The chance to get the tank into play! The infantry advance southward and into the surrounding woods and buildings. The Tanks then advance south as well, just out of range!

Allies - Move Out

With the four units on the left already weakened, the Allied forces concentrated on them. Four units advance towards to Axis infantry. A shot two long range shots take out the first Axis unit. Three full strength units are closing on the weakened enemy.

Axis - Infantry Assault

The weakened forces on the right flank advance and attack the nearest Allied unit and weaken it serverly.

Allies - Direct from HQ

Once again the left flank is all action. The infantry close on the Axis forces and open fire managing to score hits from from retreat as well as attack.

Axis - Recon in Force

The tanks advance and open fire with some success, the infantry on th left flank also close and open fire causing casualties.

Allies - Probe Left Flank

Once again attack the weakened forces on the left but...

Axis - Ambush

The axis ambush the Allies as they advance and cause some wounds but its not enough and the Axis lose two more units.

Axis - Attack Left Flank

More wounds but no more kills, the Allied right flank is now forced far to the south with two healthy Axis units closing.

Allied - Probe Left Flank

One shot, one kill and the last Axis unit on the left flank is eliminated.

Summary : An extremely short game dominated by a lucky Airpower card right off the bat that knocked four units down to half strength. At that point it would have been a VERY luck Axis player that could come back to a win. Of course the Allied player could have easily had poor rolls that did no damage, perhaps in the return game...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Online Play

Today I finally caved in and used the special code that came on the back of my Memoir '44 rules. Days of Wonder who produce the game give you this number on the back of their rules books. This number allows you to register at the the Days of Wonder web site where you can play electronic copies of some of their games.

Now I have played turn based on line games before at Hexwar but today thanks to Days of Wonder I played my first couple of games of Ticket to Ride.

Wow! What a great game. Simple, challanging. Do I need to say more?

Seriously it is a very simple to play game but you are involved in strategic decisions ( perhaps I mean tactical ) every turn. I like the choices, either grab more routes or cards or play out a train.

I actually found the online game was played at a frenzied pace, when I played against actual people as opposed to robots. The other players were obviously experienced and they whizzed through their turns at breath taking speed and not a single message was written into the message box. It's that lack of communication that makes a big difference between playing with your friends round the table and this online experience.

I found the lack of chatting a little sad, I didn't feel like I was playing with pals, but rather against robots.

I am definitely going to play the online game again because its a good game but I wont be expecting too much interaction.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Napoleon at Waterloo - Review

I recently made up a copy of Napoleon at Waterloo, that is, I made a Print and Play copy of the game.

I actually sourced the components from two different places aiming to get the best of both packages.

I grabbed the original graphics from This allows you to print out a copy of the original map which I happen to like very much. I actually scaled the image up so that I had larger hexes, all the better to pickup and generally handle the counters.

For the rules and counters I went to a different source. BGG user haruspex has uploaded a nice "complete" package on the games page. This give you the rules tables and a blank hex map that you'll have to fill in yourself ( hence why I went to the other place for the original map ). Most importantly though haruspec has put together some very nice upgraded counters. These are bimple black counters on a white background so you need to print the counters on appropriate coloured paper.

The quick way of mounting the board and counters is to stick the printed paper onto the back of self adhesive floor tiles! You can cut these with scissors so making the counters is easy.

The counters are simple and uncluttered, Attack value, move points, start location and unit type is all there is. Very easy to read and play with.

Setting up the game is straight forward. The map indicates which space should have an French Infantry on it or British Cavalry, and each counter indicates it's type and start hex. So between these two guides you can quickly get the counters onto the board.

Play is in the classic I Go, You Go. Counters exude a Zone Of Control as is usual in hex and counter games.

The combat is very straight forward odds based. You add up the combat points in the attack and figure these against the attack points of the defender to calulate odds. I should also note that terrain effects combat, for instance units in Buildings get a bonus. Then you roll a die and cross reference these against a CRT that spreads the usual array of results from Attacker eliminated to Defender Eliminated.

Movement is very simple. Units have a number of movement points and you spend these to move from hex to hex. Movement is otherwise limited in passing through woods and entering Zones of Control. Very simple.

It's interesting that the two sides have differing goals. The British player needs to inflict 40 points of damage on the French, but the French on the other hand have to inflict 40 point and exit 7 units through the back line of the British side of the board.

So in summary what do I think of it? It is a simple and straight forward hex and counter game. There is really nothing unusual or unexpected in here. It is in fact "the classic" hex and counter game. I was a little disapointed that the movement and interaction of the various units did not feel more Napoleonic. However if you want a solid, small quick(ish) to play game, perhaps to introduce new gamers to wargames then this is your baby!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Busy Week!

I'm having a busy week. This weekend I launched a new podcast based on the game Memoir '44 and the history associated with it. This first episode was all about the history around the fight at "Pegasus Bridge" and an analysis of the games first scenario that is based on that fight.

If your interested in checking out the podcast you can find it at The show has just started so please feel free to get in touch and tell me how I can make it better!

A heads up on games, I recently bought a copy of Axis & Allies Battle of the Bulge but haven't had a chance to play it yet. Expect a review and session reports fairly soon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Memoir '44 session - Sword Beach

Today I got to play the Axis at Sword Beach and I was really looking forward to it after jealously watching others play through the scenario.

What I noticed when watching the others play was just how powerful the artillery in the center of the Axis forces were. Up to this point I have never played with artillery so I was looking forward to it.

After set up the the Allies go first and the Allied forces started up the beach. The Armour lead the way in the centre and their left. They also opened fire against the Bunkers with no effect.

Then came my first turn. I activated my right and managed to get my tanks into Riva Bella and also advanced the infantry up to the wire. I then opened fire on the tanks with two infantry units and between them scored two hits and two flags. The tanks withdrew to the waters edge and never came back.

My opponent seemed to be concentrating on the bunkers in the center and on my left he advanced to take them on. I took a couple of casualties in both flanking bunkers but managed to inflict greater casualties in return. This was helped by a significant bit of bad luck when my opponent attacked with two units in each region and missed with everything.

The Allied tanks in the center took out a gun in the bunker and took out my central infantry unit. I reduced the tanks here to a single vehicle and indulged in an interesting tactic that I'll be trying to leverage in future. I wanted to advance some infantry to attack the tank in the center. I checked my cards and had a right flank card and a center card. So I realised that I could move a unit into the center from the right. So I played the right card, advanced the unit and shot. Next turn I was able to move the infantry again to close the range on the tanks again and attack. It worked too, the tanks were eliminated.

Another incident of note took place on my left. The Allied tanks advanced up to the gap in the wire shooting at the bunker every time and doing little damage. I was able to concentrate fire on this unit. By playing a three/left card I was able to advance towards the tanks with two units and fire with all three. This eliminated the tanks.

The winning medal came in with an air power card. I had been holding this since a few turns into the game but my worthy opponent had never had even two units adjacent since I'd gained it. At this point I'd forced a retreat that had pushed three units together of four,two and one figure each. I got to roll 1 die against each of them and only needed one medal. I got a hit on the group of four, and a hit on the group of two, and yes(!) a hit on the single figure.

Although I won and felt well satisfied A post game rule review showed I had been cheating!. At one point the guns had been forced to retreat from the bunker. The rules state that bunker guns can not be moved, hence that would have been a kill.

So HUZZAR I WON, but I'm a big cheating b@st*rd!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Memoir '44 session - Sainte Mere-Eglise

Today I set up the table again for another battle with my son. We are working our way through the scenarios and today was "Sainte Mere-Eglise". My son saw the Axis tanks in the scenario and was wanting to play with them at first, but when I read through the scenario rules and he realised that there were up to four more Allied units dropped onto the table he changed his mind and opted to go green first.

He dropped in his air troops and all four ended up on the board in the central region. After our last battle where all of my troops were in the middle and I had no middle cards I was getting a bit smug. Of course that did not pan out and he managed very well.

I started out looking over the map. The most significant features for the Axis player are :

1 ) The entrenched troops on the hill are near unassailable.
2 ) You've got tanks! Unfortunately they are buried behind four infantry units.
3 ) You have one isolated unit in Sainte Mere-Eglise. Very isolated.

I decided not to assault the hill and to try and clear my infantry out of the way so that I could get to use the tanks.

I moved my troops on the right, forwards trying to go through Neuville-nu-Plain to assualt/support Sainte Mere-Eglise. Unfortunately for me the Allies moved up and into the hedgerows between me and my goal. So this ended up with the Allied unit on the hill taking long range shots and the my units unable to make much headway due to the blocking forces.

The Axis unit in SME ( Sainte Mere-Eglise ) was taken out, the town was occupied and I never manged to get it back.

Meantime on my left I cleared a hole and got the tanks into action. I tried to keep them at arms length because I was getting three dice attacks while the return fire would be a single die.

My son was well aware of what I was doing and occupied the woods and hedgerows reducing my attacks! I ended up having a bit of a race round these obstacles as I chased an unprotected unit and he sniped out of the woods at me. Twice the tanks were forced into double retreats. Three times he rolled a single tank and eventually I lost my heavy hitters. Fortunately I did manage to use them to take out 1 unit and damage another.

There developed a grinding match of casualties on both sides around the woods on my left and this dinged and donged until this leg ended with 4-3 to my son.

We reset and swapped rolls.

My air drop lost me one unit and placed the other three in the middle region.

In the first few turns I concentrated on getting position rather than attacks. I struggled to disperse the mass of troops in the centre by sending a couple to each wing and trying to get my troops into SME and the Hedgerows.

My son obviously had no cards for his left as for a number of turns they just didn't move at all.

On my left he occupied village of NAP and started moving through the woods towards the middle board. He soon realised that he couldn't hit the hill from NAP but I could hit back from there and I started rolling a single die against him there. He had more success than I did in crossing towards SME. He moved into the open assaulted the Hedgerows and did a lot of damage, then forced a retreat and occupied the hedgerows himself.

I soon occupied two hexes of SME and took out the Axis troops there. I then stacked one unit in each of the three hexes that make up the town.

It was then that my right flank became interesting. The Axis infantry dispersed allowing the Big Rumblers to emerge. I started shooting at them from the nearby woods and hedgerows but didn't have much luck.

The luck I did have came from air support when in a single attack I managed to get four hits acoss two units just south of Fouville. The bullets were otherwise bouncing off the tanks who went wherever they wanted. A couple of my units out in the open suffered from the tracked beasts and then all of sudden it was over. I held SME but the magic 4 medals had been won, and not by me!

A close score of 4-3 to him and basically a 2-0 overall result to my opponent.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Memoir '44 - Session report

Today i got in my first two player game of the brilliant Memoir '44. It was me versus the 15yo. The first game went to plan, my plan not his. I player the Axis forces and we ended this leg 4-2 to me.

The other leg, the one where I played the Allies was a different matter.

From my solo sessions I had devised a plan that revolved around attacking the right wing and taking the lightly protected eastern bridge, to be followed by a sweep up the center and then through the woods heading west, thus avoiding the Axis defences around Pegasus.

I had an excellent start I played out the Barrage card and used it to knock the northern axis unit on my right down to half strength.

My worthy opponent, shrugged it off simply blasted my troops hovering outside the wire on my left.

I advanced the right wing, with only one and a half units over there it looked like an easy win.

My troops on the left got blasted again. I didn't want to try and advance through the wire so I started withdrawing then south intending to sweep around the south of the pond.

The far west axis units closed up to the river.

Meanwhile on the right wings the axis moved onto the bridge and into the woods as I expected. I brought up a couple of units and had a right ding dong over the bridge. I damaged the unit in possession and forced back the germans in the woods while taking damage myself.

The forces in my center slowly started by swing round the pond but then I started having diffculty getting cards to activatethe central region!

Within a turn or two I'd eliminated the troops holding the eastern bridge. But with a staggering bit of bravery the single german figure advanced and made a close assault on my bridge troops reducing them to a single figure. I retaliated and removed this troublesome axis trooper.

My darth of card for the central region now kicked in. I had a couple of units advanced to within a couple of hexes of the woods above the wire with others strung out south and around the pond.

The Axis General guessed what I was up to, his troops advanced north into the woods, and we started exchanging long range fire.

I now had got into the situation where I had all left wings cards and no units on the left!

Then some very nice card play commenced my demise. First he played "behind enemy lines" card that allowed him to advance south out of the woods make a close assault and withdraw back to the woods. I couldn't reply! Then the next card out was "dig in" and so he placed sand bags on a unit that had advanced one space out of the woods. Then he brought the Axis air force into play pounding the advance troops!

So my plan to outflank the defences proved fruitless and disasterous. Not only had I lost too many troops getting there but I'd also been out played. The lack of cards meant I was unable to retaliate in a meaningful way and so my opponent wore me down and shot to victory.

So in summary, I goofed and tried a plan that didn't take in all three areas. I also didn't save up any cards before trying the tactic so I got what I deserved I guess.

I give props to my son who played an outstanding game not only for excellent and timely card play but also for insight into my motives and playing a good counter plan.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Star Wars Stolen Plans - Review

The Star Wars : Stolen Plans game caught my eye because of the Star Wars theme. It's a space theme, so that appeals to the Sci Fi geek in me.

It's a free Print and Play game. The PDF file contains the rules and the cards. Each card contains a photo image lifted from the films ( IV-VI ).

The rules are very simple and only take up two sides of paper. The Cards themselves are in the PDF with four on a page. Each page also contains a sentence telling you how many times to print that page. Thats a nice touch, rather than having to reference a list of print instructions, its right there on the page.

I print card games like this straight to thin-printable card so I have no mounting to do. The four cards per sheet is my only ( and minor ) problem with the games presentation. This leaves a lot of wasted card on each sheet. Once it's printed a few chops with the scissors and you're ready to play.

The game play itself is very simple and straight forward. On your turn you can draw a card into your hand, or play a card from your hand. That's it! The objective is likewise simple. When the last card is taken from the draw pile, the player holding the R2 card is the winner.

The cards come in a variety of types. You have Attack cards which you use to attack your opponents hand of cards. You have defence cards that allow to fend off attacks and even counter attack. During these attacks your trying to strip cards out of your opponents hand by making them discard them.

There are also "Rebel Hero" cards which have dual use. They can be played as defence cards or as special attack cards.

Another set of cards in the set are "steal" type cards, these allow you to just take cards right out of your opponents hand and place them in your own.

Another nice variation in play is that there a few cards that can only be played by Jedi, and in the deck is a Jedi card that if you get it, you play it out in front of you making you the Jedi. Some of these Jedi only cards have special abilities.

So the main tactics in the game play are based on trying to keep a decent hand of cards yourself while forcing your opponents to discard
thier cards and all of the time trying to steal the R2 card for yourself.

In summary this is a quick, light fun game that for a Star Wars fan is a must and for other Print and Players certainly well worth checking out.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Audio Promo for Free Trader

I've been working away this week on a new launch project for one of my games. The game in question is Free Trader. The game has been out for a while now, so it's not a gee-whizz-new-fangled game thing, but an official launch for the second version ( which has been out a couple of months actually ) but which has just had some art work created for it by a volunteer artist over at BoardGameGeek.

The guys art has inspired me to try and seriously raise the profile for my game. So this week I've been putting together a revamped home page for the game and most time consumingly an audio promo for it as well.

I will be playing the promo on my Print and Play podcast and I'm also hoping to get a few other podcasters to play it as well. So I'm hoping that will raise it's profile and perhaps get it enough ratings over at BoardGameGeek so that the game gets ranked.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Pegasus Bridge

Yesterday I finally after months and months got around to getting my hands on a copy of Memoir 44. I bought it from The Board Game Company, I actually got to go round to the owners house and pick it up personally!

After waiting months to get the pennies together for this I rushed home only to not have enough time to open it!

Finally today I cracked it open and played through my first game (solo) oh joy!!!!

When I play solo I often find myself rooting for one side or the other, this time I was with the allies.

The Allies moved up the left and right and generally left the center alone. The allies moved into barbed wire and started clearing it. They came under fire and started taking casualties. As this started I realised that you have to leave a retreat option open or you will suffer more casualties than required! The Allies fired into the sandbagged area scoring a retreat on the axis.

After the game I checked the rules to see if I'd missed anything, and of course I had. At this point having forced a retreat from the sandbags the Allies could have advanced into the vacated space. I simply missed the rule.

On the right the Germans advanced to the bridge and occupied the woods. The Allies advanced up passed the woods and into ranged combat with the two Axis troops.

Back on the left the Axis reoccupied the sandbags and the troops on the other side of the river moved into a position to enfilade the advancing allies. Shooting took place across the river and both sides took casualties. Then in a sudden burst a depleted allied unit sprinted onto the bridge thereby gaining a temporary victory point. Alas it was not to last the counter attack from three axis units eliminated the brave ( if a little crazy ) allied unit and removed the victory point.

The allied right was now seriously depleated, a ravaged unit withdrew to a safe distance and now the allied center finally began to move slowly forwards hoping to support the savaged left.

At this point the axis airforce came into play and in a single attack, killed one allied unit and serious depleted two more.

On the right the axis forces in the woods were well below strength and the unit defending the bridge had a casualty or two. An allied unit was pinned between them with only one figure left. Of course the axis forces focused on this brave soul and eliminated it from the game thereby gaining a game winning victory!

I was absolutely delighted with how the game played and I really enjoyed the way it worked. The play is light and fast, yet I was having serious decisions every turn making it an excellent combination isn my eyes.