Monday, 22 February 2016

After Action Report; EIR versus Germans (Sword and Spear rules) 21 Feb 2016

For this game against Ian I decided to get my 28mm Early Imperial Roman and German barbarian armies out of the boxes and try them with Sword and Spear rules. Both armies had 470 points and used the basic (not upgraded) troop options. The Germans had 3 leaders compared to the Roman 2.

We diced for sides and I got the Romans. Next we diced for terrain and ended up with 4 pieces of rough ground which were located around the edges of the board, so we were left with a basically empty gaming area (much to my relief). Next we bid for scouting which the Germans won, but because the Romans had all the heavy foot it made no effective difference. The two armies deployed facing one another, the Germans had to utilise a second line because they had so many troops. The German cavalry was facing my left flank, where I had deployed my bolt-shooters and some auxillia.

The Germans advanced whilst the Romans sat still. Ian first attacked my left flank with his cavalry supported by some warriors. My bolt-shooters were overrun and the auxillia also went down after a couple of turns. I reinforced using my Roman cavalry and this turned the fight. The German cavalry were destroyed, plus some warriors, but my cavalry pursued and were eventually also destroyed. The left flank now seemed stable, so Ian launched his main strike across the rest on my front. This was the key turn of the battle and the result would determine the winner. Ian needed some good dice rolls but only threw average numbers and the Romans held. The Germans did achieve some success on the Roman right flank, destroying my other auxillia unit and engaging a pinned legion in the flank. At this point the Germans fell below the 1/3 loss value and all German units had to take discipline tests. Ian threw OK except on his flanking units which failed, and these losses when combined with their accumulated casualties caused them to rout. Suddenly all the pressure on my right flank was gone! The next turn saw Roman victories across the battleline and the German army morale collapsed. A glorious Roman victory!
The game played fast with no rules problems. Both players were tested in their dice allocation decisions and, I think, the game was enjoyable for both of us. I think the Romans are a very tough army; the legions with a discipline 3, strength 4 are hard, and when you add on the armour and thrown weapon characteristics, they become a very tough nut to crack. Although the Germans have the impact characteristic, their discipline 4, strength 3 profile is too weak to prevail (NB/ I forgot to include the undrilled characteristic, so they should have been even weaker!). With hindsight I should have upgraded a significant proportion of the German army to heavy warriors (strength 4) to give the Germans more chance. Increasing the table size might also have helped but the Romans could easily re-deploy units to counter any flanking movement, so long as they held their ground. I hope to have a rematch but with a better designed German force.

Boardgame session: 20 Feb 2016

Val and Chris hosted this afternoon gaming session. We started by playing a new-to-us filler game, ‘Skulls’. Each player has 4 cards, one of which is a ‘skull’, and sequentially plays a card in front of them until one player bids to reveal the cards played. The bid is the number of cards the player plans to reveal, and other players can increase the bid number. The highest bidder then reveals that number of cards starting with their own cards. The aim is not reveal any ‘skulls’, if no ‘skulls’ are revealed then the player scores a point. If a ‘skull’ is revealed then the bidding player loses a random card, and all cards are returned to the players hand and another round is undertaken. The first player to score 2 victory points wins the game. The game is essentially a bluffing game, and a good ‘poker face’ is an advantage. We only played one game and I’m not certain I truly understood the game play. The game did not grab my imagination and I cannot see it becoming a favourite. I suspect this game would suit a pub environment and the beer mat style of cards encourages this view.
Next, we played Castles of Mad King Ludwig which we had not played for many months (see blog post April 2015). We all seem to like this game with its mix of bidding, tile laying and randomised victory scoring. Chris narrowly won by a point from Val, whilst I trailed badly score-wise. Although I lost, I think my castle was the most ascetically pleasing! I think this is one of the most enjoyable and puzzling aspects of the game; a player’s choice of room is not simply driven by the victory point score, you want to create your ‘dream’ castle. How could I not have a billiard room? What self-respecting castle can be without a dungeon region? Different players tastes impinge on the game, for example Val seems to like ‘garden’ features. The game touches a ‘nest-building’ response and this diminishes competitive play, because although you have lost you can take pleasure in what you have created.
We finished the session with a game of Ticket to Ride Europe, and included the 1912 expansion for the first time. We used ‘Depots’ and the ‘Major Cities’ tickets. Val was the eventual winner of a close game, except that Chris trailed badly due to failed ticket routes. In my opinion the ‘Major Cities’ expansion did not offer any improvement on the base game. I cannot see the point of this addition, but maybe I’m missing something. I think I need to play a few more games to judge better. The ‘Depots’ did work and provided a new challenge. Gaining cards from the depots, particularly from other players, is nice. Deciding where to place ones depots is important, not only because of potential connections, but also to block other players from placing stations. I think depots increase the aggressive play within the game because players start placing track that are not necessarily part of a route they may wish to construct, but simply to gain the cards lodged in the depot.