Sunday, July 26, 2009

Another loss at Space Crusade

Well... Huh... I, erm...



Number 1 son is basically a genius at games, or lucky to an inappropriate level. We've played three scenarios from the base game and every time he's won by over 20 points.

I will admit to being fairly close to winning this time, which makes a rare change. I'd taken out all of the standard marines on his team.

He had decided to split his marines up in order to reveal the blips on all of the boards that's something he just loves doing, I don't know why, it's a kid thing.

His Commander sprinted off on his own and his marine with the standard bolter went the other way with the reminder clearing the nearest rooms.

Having read a recent article on BoardGameGeek about tactics in Space Crusade I had decided to adopt the suggest from there that HandToHand combat is the best option for the weaker aliens. So with that in mind I placed the blips in groups just out of sight, the intention being to swamp the standard marines and once they were removed focus entirely on the Sergeant.

Of course it didn't quite go the way I wanted. His missile launcher placed a shot that removed 3 minis in one shot. Then he made a very clever move with the plasma gun guy that lined up a few Gretchins and removed them from the game. In two shots my horde on the first board was all but eliminated.

The Bolter marine who'd gone investigating on his own was my next target. he entered a new board and I placed the blips in just two rooms, in his case I had no fear of the heavy weapons damage I'd just suffered from on the first board. He advanced and then I swarmed him and took him out with a force of Gretchin melee.

His Sergeant stormed across the third board heading for the fourth. I kept the aliens out of reach as much as possible as he whizzed by. Then the missile and plasma guys followed the Sergeant. I took the chance to run all of the guys who had been hiding to jump out and say boo. A Chaos marine heavy weapon poured it on and took out another marine.

The plasma guy replied in kind taking out a couple of aliens with a single shot.

The Sergeant entered the new board and I blipped behind all of the far corners. By now his commander was Bionic and Shielded turning him into a death machine. he turned around to take on the swarm attacking his buddies behind but was jumped himself by a Gene Stealer for three points of damage.

So the sergeant was hurt and alone. I took the opportunity to wave the baggie of reinforcement counters at my worthy opponent. There may even have been an incident of the "I'm going to win dance".

The next turn he made a break for the exit and I began to panic. He had all but killed all of the aliens and that meant I was low on points. I ran the two aliens within range to block the exit including an android but it was not enough. He played a card that reduced my dice and promptly roll 7 to which I had no reply. next turn he was out.

Final result was him in the lead by 20 points. Time for sulking :(

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Using my new Memoir 44 Card-Replacement dice

So yesterday I played a game of Memoir 44 using the M44 Card-Replacement Dice. I was playing against another experienced player of the game and it was the first time I'd played using the dice against another experienced player.

Obviously I went through the dice explanations and we set up the Sword Beach scenario from the base game, I was to play Axis.

When using these dice you don't use the cards at all, but rather roll the dice to see what orders you get to issue.

So we started with the allies going first and the dice started rolling. Each die roll usually allows you to order 1,2 or 3 units and about 1 in 6 times, double that. The allies actually used the the airpower die option for the first two turns attempting to take out the guns in the central region.

I choose to move my tanks forward.

Next the Allies opted to run forwards with their own tanks. One took on the guns and the other took a shot at the infantry on my right flank and then followed through, by again trying to take out the guns, which they never managed.

The dice kept giving me the option to use the guns, so at every oportunity I used them. My attack dice were practically on fire throughout the game leading me to beat back the attacks on the right, decimate the tanks in the middle and hold off the Allies on the left.

The game ended with 5-2 to the Axis.

So how did the Card-replacement dice work out? They certainly speeded up the game which was one objective. No one ended up doing nothing on their turn ( which often happens with the cards ) evey turn both players were able to do something, so that side of the new dice worked very well.

I felt the dice were an interesting variation that worked but my worthy opponent brought up an interesting point. In the Sword Beach scenario the US forces have many more units than the Axis and this is a balancing mechanism in the scenario. As an example of this, if the Axis player had a 3-on-the-left card he would not be able to order three units because he doesn't have that many, but the Allied player would be able to, thus the balance. With the new dice the Allied player was never able to take advantage of the mass of troops.

I would also like to say that all three areas of the board were fully active throughout the game, no one area stayed quiet as can sometimes happen with the cards.

In summary : The dice worked, speeded up the game, both players were always busy, but there may be scenario balance issues when using them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

First game of Lost cities

I've just had my first proper game of Lost Cities. I've previously played the game with myself just to get a feel for it but that was a couple of months ago ( I think it was that long ).

Well it was actually very good, better that I feared it might be.

The outsize cards were a joy to handle and the numbers/symbols in the top left corner worked well to let me keep an eye on what cards I had.

The game was against a complete newbie who hadn't even played by himself but you know what(?), we both had a good feel for the game and felt the brain burn ( such as it is ) when deciding what cards to play.

For example, my noble opponent played a Green handshake and I was holding Green 2,3 . I was planning on waiting a couple of turns to see if I could get a green handshake, but didn't get one. With only 2,3 in my hand I didn't want to risk starting the expedition and the fact that he had played a handshake suggested that he was holding some good green cards himself. I also didn't want to discard the 2,3 because he would have picked them right up and played them down.

In the end I had to use two spaces in my hand to keep these two cards until much later when he played a Green 5, at which point I was able discard the 2,3.

There were a few situations like this as the game went on. Another pressure I felt was the deck running out, as the game ends as soon as the last card is drawn and I'd managed to collect a bunch of cards that HAD to be played and so had to rush play them all during the last few rounds.

In the end we both had 3 expeditions on the table and I had managed to have two successful expeditions and one minor failure, my opponent had two mildly successful and one disaster, so I got a win, HUZZAR(!) for me.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Memoir 44 card-replacement dice

Last week I played a few games of Memoir 44 and watched a few more games. In more than one game both I and others got into a situation where we had no cards at all that we could use and ended up discarding cards until we got a single card we could use. Then once the card was used started discarding again.

I know and accept that this is a meaningful situation in the game and part of the playing is trying to avoid this situation.

However I posed myself a question, how could this be avoided. How can I improve the chances of getting to Order units but still keep some tactical choices.

It came down to producing some special dice to replace the cards.

I'm using two dice. One die is a region die that lets you order units as normal. Each die face indicates what units can be ordered. For instance a result of 100 means 1 unit on the left, 101 means on on each flank and so on. One face shows 1* meaning one unit in any region.

My original idea was to just use this die, but experimenting showed you still has the same problem and in fact you had the same problem, even worse!

I then tried just adding in a second of these dice and giving the player the choice of which die to use. This worked and if you make a set of these dice this is a viable option. However it felt very un-Memoir-44-like. So I worked on a second type of die to work with the first die.

On this new die are 6 new faces each with it's own effect each of which feels more Memoir-like.

One face allows you to restore one injured infantryman.

One face allows you to order one Artillery unit.

One face allows you to order 1 Armour unit.

One face allows you to Dig in one unit.

The final face doubles the number of units on the other die.

So on your turn you now roll one of each die type, and then choose one of the two results. This increased the chance of a good or at least usable result and included the Memoir like feel. I'm happy now with these results and invite you to give them a try. They won't ever replace the cards but it is an option.

Download the dice from BoardGameGeek

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Space Crusade - again

Back in misty days of my youth (1990) I purchased a copy of Space Crusade from MB/GamesWorshop. It was a simple to play WH40K game in board game format. As these games go it was pretty darned good. I played quite a few games of it back then, oh those glorius days.

Then life moved on and the game was played less and was stuck in the loft for a few years.

Then life moved on again and a time came when I was home and living on the road. I saw this coming and started giving away my stuff, including all of the games I'd collected over the years, and yes Space Crusade was one of them.

Then life moved on and now I'm back inside a brick and mortar swelling and able to trawl the local charity shops looking for cheap games.

And what did I just find? Well you've guessed it, Space Crusade, for a mere £2.50 I've bought a copy of the game I used to love. I was astounded to find the game in the shop, further astounded to find it in excellent condition and EVEN more astounded to find it complete!

So I brought home this game treating it with awe, and set down to reading the rules. then yesterday i set it up and invited my son in to play.

Wow we had a good time, Bolters, Plasma Guns, Orks, Androids, Chaos Marines and the Ed-209 lookalike. Good stuff.

The game was fun, my son was all excited about it and gee, what memories it brought back. We plan to retry the game again today.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Skirmish Wars Advance Tactics - First impressions

If you've ever seen any of the "Advance Wars" games on the Nintendo game systems then you know what Skirmish Wars Advance Tactics is all about.

Some fans of the Advance Wars games have put together a free Print and Play version of the computer game. The artwork on the board, cards and counters is exceptional, it features characters and artwork from the computer game, but not in the usual poor quality, enlarged sprite kind of way. No , instead all of it is print quality and a real delight to look at.

After one game I can tell you that the game play mimics the computer play almost exactly which is great. The combat is a real dream, I know the designers put a lot of effort into calculating the combat results to match the computer games combat. Like the computer version there is practically no luck in combat. You can work out the results before launching an attack and luck only comes into rolling 1 die to see if you do an additional point of damage. That doesn't sound like a lot, but every point matters so the die rolls are critical.

The computer game is turn based, you verses the AI but here your opponent is more intelligent as it's another player, in fact up to three other players and the game handles 2-4 players.

The rules are very simple and easy to grip on and joyfully also very short with some good examples.

There is not a lot of downtime, at least in the two player game, as when battles take place you get to battle back if you survived the hammering.

I'm really impressed with the game and plan on having another game fairly soon, I think I'll even run this out to my gaming group at work. Thumbsup!