Monday, 4 November 2019

Boardgame Session; 3Nov2019


It has been a while since I last reported a boardgame session. Elaine and I have been playing weekly at a local games group, but I have decided not to write any posts on these evenings. Elaine also plays Mah-Jong at another group each week.


Val and Chris have not been around for a couple of months so it was good to get together again. We played a couple of ‘old’ Reiner Knizia games that were ‘new’ to us. We started with High Society, a simple bidding game that is a short (10-15 minute) filler. The rules are simple and easy to teach, but the beauty of the game lies in the twist at the end, where the player(s) with the least remaining money are automatically eliminated. Therefore as a player you are trying to get the most status points by out-bidding opponents, whilst ensuring you do not spend the most in doing so. The presence of negative cards also works by introducing the occasional rounds of ‘reverse’ bidding, and triggering a variable game end-point. This is not game that should be the focus of a game session, but it does provide an excellent filler for those spare moments that can arise and it can accommodate 4-5 players easily. I don’t think it would work with fewer than 4 players.


Next we tried Palazzo, a game I bought about a year ago from a charity shop and have not got round to playing. Players are trying to construct palaces of 3 or more floors, with as many windows as possible, and in a single building material if possible. Each turn a player can either get more money, obtain a new floor tile, or remodel one of their existing palaces. Each floor can either be bought from a central pool, or acquired by auction from one of 4 quarries. I am personally not keen on auction games (maybe why this game had not made it to the table), but Palazzo works well because the auction option is not dominant and other choices are available. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this game, and can see it appearing fairly regularly from now on. Val won both games we played; the margins were tight and I did not spot any clear tactical reasons that ensured her victory.

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Off the Painting Table (Oct 2019), part 2


I have pretty much reached the bottom of my painting pile, and so I have painted a few ships.

I am not especially interested in naval wargaming, but I had a couple of plastic sprues collected from magazines. The Napoleonic ships (for the newly released Black Seas rules) are 1/700th scale and are slightly larger than my existing ships of the period i.e. 1/1200th. They may prove useful in single ship combats.


The other sprue was a pair of Vosper MBT’s for Cruel Seas, but WW2 narrow seas gaming is not my ‘cup of tea’, so these models are likely to be sold on in a B&B sale. I also painted a ~15mm coast guard vessel (I cannot remember where I acquired this), which may be used as a feature in future AK-47 games.


So, now my painting gear will be cleared up for a while, at least until after Warfare in mid-November.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Off the Painting Table (Oct 2019)


As a stop-gap between projects, I decided to paint a few more figures for my Pirate collection. All were from Wargames Foundry. I really like and enjoy painting their Swashbucklers range.

Firstly I needed a few ex-slave figures, and these will nicely fill in as Spanish Lanceros for the Blood and Plunder rules.


I also bought some Royal Navy figures from a slightly later date (Napoleonic) which will add to my existing British naval forces.


On the gaming front I have focussed on solo games using Sword and Spear rules with my Greek & Persian Wars armies. This rules work really well for solo play and bring to life these armies, who are normally rather bland under other rules systems. I plan to use my Punic Wars armies next, because I’ve never tried them with S&S, so it should be interesting.

My gaming activity is basically on hold until the Warfare show in November, when I hopefully will be inspired again.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Inventory 2019


Due to a lack of painting and gaming activity at the moment, I decided (foolishly?) to update my inventory of wargaming armies and rules. I first created a ‘crude’ inventory back in the late 1990’s when I moved house. This was a purely electronic listing. It seemed like a good idea because all the boxes needed sorting and figures standing upright etc. In the early 2000’s I bought a new digital camera, so I decided to photo many of the armies and update/improve on my initial inventory, and then print out a hard copy. This did entail a lot of work but looked impressive, and proved very useful when planning games etc. It was my intension to maintain and add to this document whenever I painted up new units/armies, rebased etc. Such good plans sadly crumble when faced with reality!

Well, after 2 weeks sifting and sorting I have managed to complete the task. It is scary how much ‘stuff’ I’ve got! What is most concerning is the fact that many of the armies have not been out of their boxes for years. I now have a new resolution to try and get some of these figures on the table during the coming year(s). My catalogue now extends to almost 100 pages (not including photos) and is completely up to date. I’m amazed how many rule sets I’ve bought over the years (I never throw out or sell any rules); for example I’ve more than 30 different ‘Ancient’ rules (not including army lists), dating back to WRG 2nd edition! Anyway, my armies are labelled and lodged beneath my table in the garage and occupies roughly 1002 foot of space (not including rules on shelves). Surprisingly there are no major gaps in my collections; I was hoping to spot such gaps and finish any incomplete projects. What I have noticed is that some work could be done to provide ancillary markers, objectives, camps etc. I plan to rectify this went I visit Warfare in November.

Monday, 23 September 2019

AAR: Samurai (Impetus2) 22Sept2019


Ian and I continue to explore the ‘new’ Impetus 2nd edition rules. This time I used my 28mm Samurai armies; two 400 point armies each with 3 commands. We played on a 6’x4’ table which meant a compact deployment, with little room for manoeuvre (on reflection, we should have opted to use a 8’x6’ table instead). The battlefield was again open, but I did place an impassable building on my right flank.

The early phases of the game saw my army advancing whilst Ian held back, this gave his bowmen a first chance to inflict damage which they duly did! The first moves of the game also saw 2 of my commanders improve grade and 1 of Ian’s commanders decline. The battle then proceeded in a ‘wave’ fashion, with the action moving from my left flank across my front towards my right flank.
View from my side of table. On the left, my mounted samurai charge Ian's peasants.




On the left, my mounted samurai charged Ian’s peasants expecting them to be easy meat. Although the samurai won, they did not initially destroy the peasants, who were forced back. The mounted samurai had to pursue to complete their eradication, which placed the victorious but disordered samurai in the table corner. The unit was out of command and refused to re-order, which they needed to do in order to change facing. Also they were attacked by more peasants which further delayed them. Meanwhile, Ian attacked and destroyed the bulk of my support troops on this flank, which broke the command.
The impassable building, and my central and right commands on either side.


In the centre, my arquebus armed teppo achieved some success before my foot samurai and ashigaru charged in. The resulting combat was bloody for both sides. I was worried when my left flank command collapsed (above) because it looked like Ian was in position to roll my army up. The game now threw a spanner into Ian’s plan; a weakened unit of his foot samurai charged a unit of my teppo in the rear. My teppo not only held but destroyed his samurai, which in turn broke his right-hand command. Suddenly my vulnerable flank was OK, and meanwhile a unit of my ashigaru achieved local success, destroying a couple of Ian’s units. The battle seemed to be in the balance, but the losses sustained by my central samurai and ashigaru told. A couple of units finally broke, and this pushed my army over its limit and yielded victory to Ian.
A side view of the game, my forces on the left and Ian to the right.


The action on my right-hand flank was minimal and a waste. Both of us thought there was room for 2 units to pass between the impassable building and table edge, but quickly found it was about 1cm to little! Therefore only a single unit could fight with no significant advantage to either side. I effectively tied down and wasted 3 potentially valuable units, whereas Ian only lost 1 unit. These troops could easily have turned the balance of power in the centre of the battlefield. I think this was the key error I made in the game, and an important lesson was learned – always measure before making plans, because the eye can deceive!
The game was tight and enjoyable. I think it needed to be played on a larger table size, and the congestion did result in a bit of a slogging match. We are both getting used to the ‘new’ rules and think they work well. They keep all the good elements of the original Impetus, and add/clarify areas such as unit reactions. Again, my only major criticism is the terrain selection aspect which continues to generate bare, open, uninteresting battlefields.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Review of boardgaming year 5 (2018-19)


A collated list of games we have played is tabulated below. The list is primarily aimed at providing me with a detailed record of my boardgaming activity, so that I can spot and understand trends and favourites. It also sparks my enthusiasm for games I overlooked and want to play more of. The first figure is the number of times a game made it to the table, whereas the superscript number is the number of actual games played.

No Games played
Boardgame
1216
Targi
1017
Quacks of Quedlinburg
913
Ganz Schon Clever
626
Mind the Gap
510
Western Legends
58
Roll for the Galaxy
58
Ticket to Ride
414
Carcassonne
410
NMBR9
48
Azul
47
Keyflower
46
Doppelt So Clever
44
Dungeon Petz (& Dark Alley)
38
Mah-Jong
37
Paperback
35
Metro
34
Parade
34
Wingspan
28
Schotten Totten
28
Machi Koro
26
Santorini
25
Onitama
24
Blueprints
24
Pandemic
24
Ominoe’s
23
Patchwork
23
Lost Cities
23
Century: Spice Road – Eastern Wonders
22
Transatlantic
22
Now Boarding
22
Merchants & Mauraders
16
Deception; Murder in Hong Kong
14
Timeline
14
Marrakech
14
Parfum
13
7 Wonders – Duel
13
Sushi Go
12
Tiny Towns
12
Unexpected Treasures
12
Cockroach Poker
12
Small World
12
Five Tribes
12
Key to the City; London
12
Bang; The Dice Game
11
X-Wing
11
Port Royal
11
Castles of Mad King Ludwig
11
Lords of Las Vegas
11
Mexica
11
Kingsburg
11
Railroad Ink
11
Apotheca
11
8-Minute Empire
11
Arboretum
11
Welcome To...
11
Hey, That’s my Fish!
11
Castles of Burgundy
11
Pyramids
11
Citadels

 

In sharp contrast to my wargaming activity, this year has seen a bumper crop of boardgames played and a wide range of differing games. Elaine and I have played many more two player games and these feature strongly in the above list i.e. Targi, plus some multiplayer games that translate into good two player versions (e.g. Roll for the Galaxy).

There were a number of ‘stand-out’ games this year. My favourite must be Wingspan; the game is both beautiful and enjoyable. The mechanisms work nicely and the pace of the game accelerates, so that by the final 3rd round players struggle to achieve all they want. A close second place goes to ‘Quacks of Quedlinburg’; a very simple push-your-luck style game that includes enough variants to ensure it remains fresh and fun. I have bought the ‘Witches’ expansion, which is OK but not really necessary. The next game that deserves mention is ‘Western Legends’; a game I wrongly thought Elaine may have disliked and would sit gathering dust. We have really enjoyed this ‘Sand-box’ game, particularly as a 2-player experience. A higher player count results in much more player confrontation and slows the game down, which I’m fine with but may not be to others taste. Finally, we discovered ‘Targi’; an old game but new to us. This simple 2-player game really tests the players, and combines the right amounts of decision making about your own actions, together with a degree of blocking moves to disrupt your opponent.

Other points to note from my listing are: (1) The high number of plays for ‘Mind the Gap’ resulted from a short city break in Amsterdam where this was the only game available to us. (2) The appearance of Mah-Jong on the list; we used to play this many, many years ago with my mother. We discovered a Mah-Jong group locally and decided to give it a go again. The game is fine but suffers because there does not seem to be a set of universally recognised rules! For example, the local group only accepts “clean” hands whereas I have always played “dirty” (as allowed by the British Mah-Jong Association rule book I have). Also all the “special” hands make the game more complex than it need be. (3) The ‘Clever’ Roll’n’Write games are a current favourite when it comes to a filler game, but it is not easy to flip between the two games (play one or the other, with a gap between the 2 game types). (4) Finally we have joined a newly formed local gaming group, which has expanded and added to the games we play. For example, we took ‘Bang, the Dice Game’ to a meeting and played with 8 players and found it to be highly enjoyable, whereas previously with only 4 players it was a much less fun. Another example of improved game play was a recent game of ‘Citadels’, which again benefits from a high player count.

So, a very busy and good boardgame year, and I’m looking forward to the coming year.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Review of the wargaming year 2018-19


The fifth year of my blog has now been completed and the number of hits still seems to be rising but only slowly (up 9% on the previous year). The audience appears to be consistent, with USA, Russia and UK dominating, but a good number of European readers spread across the continent. Most interest concerns new rule sets (e.g. Saga v2, Impetus v2), but there are more views on posts related to my painting progress than in previous years. Boardgaming also continues to be highly viewed (see my next post on the Boardgame Year). I still would like to see more comments but overall I’m happy with how the blog has gone. The main purpose is to keep a sort of diary of my activities for my own record, and I’m happy that others may find this interesting.

The games I have played this year are listed below:

 
Period
Rules
Type
Scale
1
Ancient
Impetus; EIR vs Germans
OpposedL
28mm
1
Napoleonic
Grande Armee
Solo
6mm
1
Ancient
TTS: Lysimachid v Thrace
OpposedL
15mm
1
Medieval
Saga: Teutonic v Pagan
OpposedL
28mm
1
Ancient
S&S; Persian v Indian
OpposedL
15mm
2
Dark Ages
Saga: Viking v Anglo-Danes
Saga: Normans v Scots
OpposedW
OpposedW
28mm
1
Ancient
S&S: Succesor v Greek
OpposedD
15mm
1
Ancient
Impetus2; Punic Wars
OpposedL
15mm
2
WW2
Chain of Command
Solo
20mm
2
Napoleonic
Sharp Practice
Solo
28mm
1
Pirates
Blood and Plunder
Solo
28mm
1
Modern
Cold War Commander
Solo
6mm
1
AWI
Washington’s Army
OpposedD
15mm
1
Ancient
Impetus; Han Chinese
OpposedL
15mm

 

I have played a similar number of games compared to last year but more of these have been opposed games rather than solo efforts, but I continue to lose more than I win!

The wargame highlights of the year must be the new editions of Impetus and Saga, both of which I think are improvements on their earlier versions. I enjoyed trying the “To The Strongest” rules and think they give a good game. I have also started to revisit other rules that I feel have been neglected, such as “Blood & Plunder”, and I hope to get my pirates on the table soon.
In summary 2018-19 has been a very quiet year. I continue to say that I must play more regularly, but life just seems to get in the way! I don’t have any specific plans in mind for next year projects, but the upcoming Colours show in Newbury may help.