Monday, 25 February 2019

AAR: Viking v Saxon (Saga 2) 24Feb19

This game was a bit of a spur-of-the-moment affair, Ian and I were available but had not planned a particular game. So, I suggested Saga using my Teutonic forces, but on the day I opted to use my Vikings and Anglo-Danish forces instead. Neither of us are fully familiar with the new version of Saga nor with the characteristics of the armies, so we were both winging-it a bit. This week I did receive my copy of ‘Saga Book of Battles’ but had yet to read it, so we played the standard scenario from the main rule book. Ian took the Vikings and I played the Anglo-Danish.
View from Anglo-Danish side

Rather than describe the skirmish in detail, I will simply pick the highlights as I saw them. Ian could not throw any Y-symbols on his Saga dice for the whole game (!), which prevented him expanding his dice pool. He mainly utilised the ‘Ullr’ and ‘Loki’ characteristics of the Vikings, which are pretty strong. At a couple of points in the game his dice rolling let him down (a common feature of Saga games), especially when his 4-figure Berserker unit charged and bounced off one of my warrior units. I tried using a wider range of Anglo-Danish characteristics; I particularly liked the ‘Crush the Weak’ ability to annihilate Ian’s Levy missile unit. Most of my efforts were spreading fatigue on key Viking units. Neither of use risked our Warlords in the game, instead using them for their ‘We Obey’ ability.
Viking Berserkers about to attack my unit of Warriors

After 6 turns we totted-up the Massacre Points and my Anglo-Danes led 17 v 14, which gave me the win (just!). We both enjoyed the game and played at a good pace. I look forward to future games using scenarios provided in the Battle Book. For me Saga remains a nice pick-up style game that requires little forward planning.
Anglo-Danish Hearthguard (left) in a tricky situation

Friday, 22 February 2019

Off the Painting Table (Feb 2019); part 2

I have painted the horde of Celtic warriors that I have been dreading. Friends have asked why I dislike painting the Gauls? Firstly, both their shields and fabrics are multicoloured with a variety of stripes, cheques, plaids and borders; a real pain to paint. Secondly, based on my experience of Lancashire Games Spanish foot, the range of figure poses and variants may be limited.

I discounted the second reason immediately I opened the package; there were at least 12 different figure sculpts and Lancashire Games supplied 80 figures instead of the expected 60! I was well chuffed! Painting did prove a strain. I decided to paint them as a single batch and by halfway I was regretting the decision. Once completed, I think  I am happy with their appearance and would highly recommend others to consider Lancashire Games if interested in building a Gallic army.

The end is in sight for my Punic War armies. Next a batch of Gallic cavalry, then Generals and elephants!

Monday, 11 February 2019

Off the Painting Table (Feb 2019)

I have been struck down for a week with man-flu, so it took longer than expected to complete my Italian allied forces for the Roman Punic war army.

I have completed 4 units if light-medium (FL) foot, 1 unit of heavy foot, and 2 units of cavalry. I wanted the Italians to look similar but different to my more regular Roman troops. I painted the plumes and shields in uniform colours within each unit, but did introduce some patterning on the shields and varied the tunic colours. I also did not use a maniple style of basing, and I added a couple of velite figures to the bases to distinguish the light-medium foot from the heavies.

Next up are the hordes of Celtic warriors. I have been dreading these, but they can no longer be ignored!

Boardgame session 10Feb19

Our small group met at a neutral venue, Thirsty Meeples in Oxford, for a change. This would enable us to try some games we currently don’t possess but are of interest to us.

We started with a small ‘Roll’n’Write’ game called Railroad Ink. In this game players are trying to utilise common dice rolls to form the ‘best’ rail and road networks over 7 rounds. This more of a puzzle game rather than a competitive game; you are focussed solely on your own developing map and only at the end are the relative scores worked out. I enjoyed the puzzle aspect, but the theme and game play did not grab my interest, so I was not enthusiastic about playing a second game. I think both Elaine and I did score highly (which is surprising for this type of game) but for me the game was forgettable.

Next we tried Quacks of Quedlinburg, a game that has received much praise and nominations for various gaming awards. This is a bag-building, push-your-luck game in which players are medieval alchemists concocting potions. The more varied and developed the potion, the more it scores in victory points and the more money earned. The problem lies in the pesky white berries, which if present in too high amount causes the potion to explode, thereby losing the player either the money or victory points for the turn! So, do you dip into your bag again and risk disaster? Everyone seemed to pick up the rules quickly, and as more ingredients are bought, the better scoring potions result. I really like the way the different ingredients give different benefits, and the ‘rats-tails’ provide a nice catch-up mechanism to keep all players in contention. I also like the variations for the ingredients which can improve game replayability. The game looks good and is one of the better push-your-luck games I have played, the simultaneous drawing of chits from the bags speeds play considerably. Elaine was the winner of our game. Overall this game was a hit with us, and Val/Chris would have bought a copy immediately except Thirsty Meeples were out of stock.

We only had 45 minutes of gaming time left, so we finished with a game we know well and which is always fun to play, Roll for the Galaxy. Finally I would like to thank Thirsty Meeples for continuing to provide a nice environment for gamers in the Oxford area.