Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stratego ( again )

This lunchtime I got into a rematch at Stratego, this follows on from the previous session report where I totally won!

I placed my pieces with some planning. A couple of bombs near the flag along with my top man and the spy. The rest of the bombs were scattered around fairly randomly. I tried to get a mix of the middle men in the front rank.

Things were starting well. My opponent came in on the attack across a broad front. Once again I tried down the right flank. I used a scout or two to identify some targets on the right before following up with the middle men to kill off those I could.

The mix of middle men meant I was able to fend off or at least deal with the intruders as they advanced.

A good few turns later I had cleared a section on the right flank and there was in fact a couple of his base line spaces clear. I sent a scout down there into that gap and attacked right and lost. One of middle men went down the same gap to deal with the enemy that had been revealed and took it out with a mutual death attack.

Now it got interesting. The right flank was fairly clear so I shot a Scout down to his base line right next to a block that hadn't moved and I deliberately watched my opponents face looking for a tell-tale. There was nothing, so I assumed that I wasn't threatening his flag.

Then I got mixed up in a dance around the middle of my base line. The enemy had noticed that I wasn't moving my back row in the middle of the board and started down. I won an attack but this revealed my top guy. He started moving a piece quickly towards it, so I dodged it around and brought him into a position from where my spy could attack and it did, taking out his top guy. Around the same time A scout of his shot over to my base line threatening my flag, but I had a bomb on that side so didn't worry, until his scout took it out leaving it open.

The attacks around here kept coming and he wore me down and took the flag from the undefended flank. Then the real kicker. He revealed his flag HAD been adjacent to the scout I'd sent across the board turns ago! I had been sitting next to it for minutes!

I'm not quite sure if using your "Poker Face" in Stratego is cheating :) I'm warming to this game.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My First Video

No this isn't a post about a game called "My First Video" it's a post about the first game related video I've made. No glorious moving pictures I'm afraid, I've thrown a bunch of stills together added some titles and a narration.

It's a companion video to the latest episode of my podcast "Print and Play". Take a look if you have nothing better to do.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Stratego - Session Report

I was gifted a copy Stratego just after Christmas by a work buddy. He picked it up from a charity shop and it's in pretty good condition.

Today I had my first game, I dont think I've played it for twenty years or so.

We were both "new" to the game and so our placement of the pieces was very rough. I threw my flag on the back row and dropped a couple of bombs around it.

The game started fairly slowly we were both reluctant to make the first combat. This soon wore off and we started whittleing down each others pieces. The strength of the pieces was all over the place as neither of us had really planned any moves. I tried to make a strong move up my right flank basically because I didn't know what else to do.

I managed to thin the herd a bit on this side and by the time we had done this we were both starting to pay attention and started playing clever.

We had both realised that moving your scout more than one space was just like commiting suicide as it gave them away. My worthy opponent also boxed clever and sent a sapper up against a unit he had seen me moving around. He had correctly guessed that it was a bomb.

About this time he made a serious gaff and used a spy thinking it was a rank 5 unit, and I blew it away. At this point I was in a good position to defend my flag as the only unit left that could beat my top guy was his own top guy who I had knocked out earlier.

The speed of the game increased rapidly as we were both moving units up from the back of the board, turns were literally half a second or less.

I was lucky enough to have scout left, so I was able to shoot it right across the board to reveal a unit, the scout died but I then spent about ten turns moving up a unit to kill the unit he had revealed.

My opponent now knew that my flag was one of two or three pieces and tried to make a two-unit run at the group. I had my top piece (general?) in front of these units for defence and knew he could not beat it. I moved a useless piece in front of one of these to slow the pair down and this allowed me to take out both of his pieces. At this point he had nothing left and we just played out the remaining turns in a few rapid ten's of seconds. In the end I ran a sapper over to his side took out a bomb and got the flag.

I dont often beat this guy so was quite happy with myself. We both agreed that the game does have a lot of stratergy in the middle and end game and that all of the pieces do really have specific uses that you should save them for, The clever way the pieces interact has peaked our interest and we will be playing again, this time being extra careful with the initial placement.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Who designed this house!

Okay so I’m sitting at work twiddeling my thumbs waiting for some files to copy to a remote computer. I am unable to do anything while this is going on as the “Cisco” software prevents me from accessing anything else, so what do I do? I start looking through my draws for anything to occupy the time.

In my left bottom draw is a copy of Carcassonne, recently returned after lending out for Christmas, but I can’t play that, too big, too obvious, and no one to play with. Same goes for Stratego which is sitting in the bottom right draw (gifted to me from a co-worker just after Christmas and it hasn’t made it home yet.)

Then I spot a little “Black Magic” chocolate box in my top right draw, Ahha! No, I’m not going to eat, inside there is my copy of Zombie in My Pocket!

I pull the draw out as far as possible, pile all the rubbish in there at the back and I have a play-space, HUZZAR!

On the sly I shuffle the cards and tiles, place the first tile, place a plastic Shaggy ( from the Scooby Gang ) on the starting tile and begin.

From the Foyer I move North into the Kitchen, a good start. North again into the Bedroom. West into the Family Room, West into the Storage Room. A stinking dead end! Back through the Family Room, back through the Bedroom and into the kitchen. Now West from there into the Dining room. By now time is ticking by, Zombies have been swamping me, I’m real tired. Out of the Dining Room into... the Bathroom and another dead end. Zombies smash through the west wall I beat them down with a Golf Club and crawl through the hole to find the Evil Temple. Grabbing the Evil totem I go back through the hole into the Bathroom into the Dinning Room and out onto the Patio.

Storming southwards I trip over the Graveyard where I have to dispose of the Totem... but it’s too late. The witching hour has caught up with me. Muh!

So now I’ve entertained myself heartily in the office , when I take a look at this house. What a freak! The kitchen is next to the Dining room, that’s good. The front door enters into the Kitchen, that’s odd. Then to get to the family room you have to go through (thru) a double bedroom! Of course, having an Evil Temple behind the Bathroom wall and a Graveyard in the Garden are just normal practice in this game but surely the architect needs to be fired.

The World is lost due to a badly designed house

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Defence of Calais, scenario for Memoir '44

I'm reading a book at the moment about what you can think of as the Dunkirk campaign from 1940. Before reading this book all I knew of the war in 1940, was that the British retreated to Dunkirk, fought a furious holding actions and evacuated.

There is so much more to it than that. I'm finding it especially interesting in regards to how political motives drove military action. For instance the defence of Calais is something I'd never even heard of, and yet it was a heroic action where the British were told to fight to the last man and the last bullet, there would be no evacuation.

Why were they told to do this, because the British govt were being accused of running away by the French, and the British did not want the French to capitulate before the BEF got away as they seemed to have no will to fight in defence.

And where is all this history going you might ask. Well, it's simply that the reading inspired me to create a scenario for Memoir '44 based on the Calais action.

Use the following link to download the PDF. At the time of writing this scenario is untested and I suspect that the British may be a little too strong, if you try it then please post a comment here to let me know what you think of the balance.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Memoir in the Desert - session report

This week at work (lunchtimes) I got to play a couple of games of memoir. I had taken in the base game and the Terrain pack. Because we were playing in the far too short period known as lunch I opted for the first scenario in the book which is very quick to set up.

The scenario sets up on the desert board and contains hardly any terrain. A few hills on one edge, a three hex wadi and a couple of oasis is about it and all of these are around the edge of the board. Now add in the fact that this scenario is made up of only tanks and guns and you've got a smashing fun game lined up.

I played the scenario twice against two opponents and I played the allies both times.

In the first game I started with a couple of good cards, I had an "All" and "3" card for the centre. Unfortunately I didn't start with many tanks in this region. So I planned to use up my rubbish cards to try and move units from both wings towards the center. Then I'd use the "3" then the all cards to make a smashing attack. Sadly it didn't work like that. My opponent moved forwards, and as I moved pieces in, he was smashing them, thus I was not able to build the massive smash I wanted in the central region. In the end I just ended up playing a poor game, because I was trying to move rather than attack. Although I comfort myself with the knowledge that I did still manage to get 4 medals.

After the reset we started the game in the usual manner. Both sides closed towards the center, I took a lot of hits and thought I was onto a real loser from early on. However I managed to turn it round mid game. I bypassed my opponents tanks on my left and sent my tanks straight towards the guns. Of course we traded shots tank-on-tank as I went that way but then in a couple of lucky shots I took out the guns. Then the action switched to the right wing where once again I was closing on the guns. I was taking a beating and many units were severly depleated. However I was close on an opponents single tank unit and on 5 medals, as was my opponent. I open fire and guess what. MISS! My opponent took his turn and his single tank fired at my single tank and guess what. HIT!

So I ended the day happy to have played two good games but just a little sad becuase of two losses.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Hey! That's my fish, 2 player

Today at work ( during lunch ) I played a couple of games of "Hey! That's my fish!". My compadre made a comment that he actually preferred the game with 3 players than with 2. I hadn't given it any thought prior to this and it got me thinking.

When you look at the initial set up for just two players I did feel that the four Penguins each made it look rather crowded. Then with two players who know the game is all about cutting-out expeditions you very quickly start running out of options so the game seems to whizz by.

We found that both games were very close ( one win each by the way ) and that some of the WOW-factor was removed from the game play. When you play with two you can pretty much predict what your opponent is going to do most of the time. When you play with three it just seems that you aren't able to predict whats going to happen between your turns. It's like the third player add a chaos element to the game.

It was this chaos that my friend was missing. I guess its difference between playing chess with perfect knowledge and the usual euro game that includes some unknown element.

After our short discussion on the issue I tend to agree with him, the three player game is more fun. I enjoy the feel of the game with two just as much, but with three there is more interaction that makes it a different experience.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

ACW Solitaire - Review

I got this game from and it promised to be the entire American Civil War in less than an hour, solitaire!

The file downloaded as a single compressed zip file that contained two PDF files.

The first PDF contains the Rules and the Counters, The other PDF simply contains the MAP.

The rules are 10 pages long, well written and not overly complex. That said, you will no doubt get something wrong but like me, but probably get it all right second time around.

The counters that appear in the first PDF are simple outline type images on a solid colour background, either gray or blue. These represent ships, gunboats, indians, forts and infantry units. A few also represent the Generals. You can make all these up as single or double sided. The rules suggest that you might have to print a second set of these counters out, and I did in fact have to do this.

The second PDF file contains the map. This can be printed out on a single A4 sheet but I would rec' that you upscale it a little when printing. It shows as you might expect the United States, it's a point to point map with the various important cities linked by lines of communication. Each city is represented by a box in which you will be placing chits.

The map also contains a random placement chart, turn track, and the combat results table.

Overall I was quite happy with the components.

The play goes as follows each turn. Union Build phase, Union Move/Combat. Confederate build phase. Confederate Move/Combat. Finally, indian phase.

The union gets to build 5 things each turn. Movement overland is up to two locations, or 1 location into enemy territory, and can only be lead by General counters Movement by sea can go any distance.

Whenever the opposing forces come into contact a combat takes place. This is done with the roll of a single die with the odds and various other factors giving modifiers. the results of combat vary as you might expect from the attacker being defeated through to the opposite.

The Confederates get to build a limited number of things based on various rules. For instance loss of certain features on the map reduce their number of points. There are detailed rules controling how and where these reinforcements get placed.

Moving the gray forces also follows some specific rules.

The indian phase is for a few indian counters who basically wonder aimlessly through out the game.

The two sides have separate winning conditions, with the Confederates having a number of instant win conditions, which works very well, it keeps you on the defensive as you cant ever tell when and where the Gray forces will move.

With the Union forces getting more reinforcements each turn they will win provided the Confederates dont score one of their winning conditions. As you are playing the union forces the quality of your win will vary based on the number of turns it takes you to win, If you win within 11 turns, thats a Major Victory, 18 turns or more gets you a Poor Victory.

In summary : I found this to be good solitaire game that does what it says on the tin, I made it with cardboard counters and thin card (printable) board but I can easily see this doing well with upgraded components. A more detailed map and wooden blocks for generals would be a very nice first step and I might well get round to doing that.