Saturday, February 23, 2013


I’ve been suffering a bit of GADD – Gamer’s Attention Deficit Disorder – lately. As is probably clear from my posts, I have been flitting around from game to game. As a result, I have not been getting very far with any of my projects. The revolution in Grayrock is on hiatus, von Schmutz hasn’t flown a mission in weeks, and the German aerial campaign over Poland is stymied. I also have quite a few reports, thoughts, etc. I’d like to record.

Nevertheless, I have been playing games.

·         Axis & Allies Europe

Two weekends I hosted a gaming night with my brother and a few friends. We pulled out A&A. The Germans did well at the start: their subs terrorized the Atlantic convoys, they defeated the British at El Alamein and advanced into the Middle East, and they were practically knocking on the door of Moscow. But the Russians held firm and the British and American navies were able to clear the sea lanes. As the noose tightened, Germany conceded the game. This game seems like a very tough challenge for the German player. Nevertheless, we had a good time.

·         Pandemic

We picked this up at Barnes and Noble a couple of weeks ago but finally played it last weekend. It is a cooperative game where the players are scientists and doctors trying to eradicate plagues that are threatening mankind. Alas, humanity was doomed as we failed to stop the rampaging diseases in time.

·         Forbidden Island

Rather than watch helplessly again as Armageddon destroys the world, we decided to try something “easier.” We chose Forbidden Island. Created by the same designer as Pandemic, the rules are very similar but this game is a bit simpler. This time, we are adventurers trying to retrieve four treasures from an island before it sinks below the waves. We were very close; 3 treasures in our hands and one nearly in our grasp, when our helicopter landing pad sank, leaving us stranded to a watery death.

I also spent much of last Saturday working on converting the space opera RPG Tales of the Space Princess 

to a 2D6 system. I think I have a handle on it now. I am working up a short adventure to use as an experiment. During the week, I primed a bunch of figures for use with my Francesia campaign.

So my gaming life has been active, even if this blog has not been.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Review of the new Dungeon!

As mentioned in a previous post I owned the game Dungeon Quest but we got frustrated by it. I kept thinking that the old TSR classic Dungeon! would be perfect for simple dungeon crawls with my wife. Lo and behold, my prayers were answered as Wizards of the Coast reprinted the game in 2012. I purchased a copy and we have played it a few times already.

Dungeon! is a simple, relatively short dungeon crawl game. Players take on the roles of a wizard, fighter, cleric, or rogue and explore a dungeon looking for treasure. The first player out of the dungeon with a set amount of treasure (depending on the character class – as the most powerful characters wizards need the most treasure, etc.) wins the game. In our experience, games usually take about 1½ hours.

The turn sequence is quite simple. Each player can move 5 spaces per turn. If a player enters a room or a chamber, he or she draws a monster card and battles it. Battle involves one roll of 2 D6s. Defeating the monster requires rolling greater than or equal to a target number on the monster card (the number varies depending on the character class). If the player loses, he or she rolls to see the effect, which varies from nothing to death! Wizards also get spell cards (fireball, lightning bolt, or teleport). If the player defeats a monster in a room, he or she draws a treasure card.

The mechanics are quite simple, so the game moves quickly. However, this simplicity may be a drawback to some people. Combat is so simple (a single die roll) that it can seem to lack a certain atmosphere. A more complex combat system could be an interesting twist, although it would extend the game. I would also like to see additional abilities for the rogue and cleric characters. The rogue can find secret doors easier than the other characters but I’d like to see a backstab ability. The cleric has no special powers and is quite weak. Clerics should be able to heal (perhaps roll twice if defeated and use the lesser result). I will have to research variants or come up with some of my own house rules.

Nevertheless, Dungeon! will provide a simple dungeon crawl if you are in the mood for a light fantasy game that does not take too long.

Rating 3.5 / 5

Notes on the Battle of Maraconi

I meant to post this last weekend as a follow-up to my report on the Battle of Maraconi.

The battle of Maraconi was played with rules of my own devising. The combat rules are derived from the game Viktory.  I love the idea of using Risk Express dice  for unit activation, as described by Bob Cordery. Unfortunately, I do not have Risk Express dice, so I used normal D6s as follows:

Roll         Activate
1-3          1-3 Infantry as per die roll
4              1 cavalry
5              1 artillery
6              1 unit of player choice

The rebels rolled 3 dice per turn while the Bluderians only rolled 2 (to reflect their surprise). I have recently ordered some blank dice and will be creating my own version of the Risk Express dice.

I decided that this scenario would last until one side lost 8 stands (approximately half of the smaller army). I thought about adding objectives (counting as 1 stand lost), specifically the village and the square where the Greenglade infantry began (representing the road out of the Maraconi valley) but dispensed with these as to simplify the game.

Overall, the rules have promise, although I need to clarify some aspects (e.g. what happens to stands belonging to the losing side that are hit but then save?). Still, it seems a quick and easy game for solo play, which is my goal.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Battle of Maraconi

 Last weekend, I played the first battle in my version of a  Restless Revolutionaries campaign. I roped my wife into playing, and she chose to be the ruthless Bluderian occupiers who were trampling on the liberties of the people of Grayrock. 

Here is an excerpt from the Chronicles of Francesia:

When King Marius of Grayrock died without an heir, the throne fell to Marius’s second cousin, Luther, king of Bluderia. At the time, the nobles of Grayrock accepted the new king and offered their allegiance. Recently, however, the Bluderians have been oppressing the people of Grayrock, creating a great deal of discontent.

That discontent broke into open rebellion in the isolated little barony of Maraconi. The Bluderian Governor decided to confiscate the manor of the Sieur of Maraconi, who was much beloved by the people. When the Sieur set out for Grayrock to protest to the Viceroy, the Governor had him arrested. This spark ignited all the frustration and anger at Bluderian rule, and the people of Maraconi took arms. These fierce, independent people had long maintained a local militia, and this force gathered to free their Sieur. Buttressed by veterans of recent wars, the militia was determined to strike a blow for freedom.

As the determined rebels advanced on Maraconi, the Bluderian watch gave the alarm.

Picture 1 – Situation when the Bluderian watch first spied the rebels.

The Bluderians moved their artillery to the hill on its right flank and began a rather ineffectual cannonade. Meanwhile, their cavalry moved forward, only to be charged by their Grayrock counterparts. After a sharp clash of swords, the Bluderian horse fled the field.

Picture 2 – The Grayrock cavalry is victorious (right)

The Bluderians occupied the hills west of town, while the rebels advanced in the center and on their right flank. An initial attack on Maraconi was repulsed with casualties on both sides.

Picture 3 – After the initial assault on Maraconi

At this point, the Bluderian regulars grew overconfident. Believing that they could easily disperse the rebels, the Bluderians pursued the rebel militia out of town. The rebels rallied, however, and their counterattack wiped out the Bluderians.

Picture 4 – Grayrock takes Maraconi and advances on the right

The Greenglade infantry (allies of the Bluderians but of marginal motiviation) advanced in an attempt to retake the village. But the rebels launched strong attacks on the right and center, pushing back the occupiers.

Picture 5 – The rebels engage the remaining Bluderian infantry

The final rebel push drove the Bluderian infantry from the field. Seeing the defeat of their comrades, the Bluderian cavalry and artillery turned to flee.

Picture 6 – The Bluderians flee

The victorious rebels freed the Sieur and declared him their rightful monarch. Frustrated Grayrockians flocked to the Maraconi banner and the rebel army swelled. Flushed with success, they decided to advance upon the provincial capital.

This sets the stage for the next battle in the campaign.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Worst. Adventurers. Ever.

I recently picked up the reprint of the classic dungeon crawl game, Dungeon

Previously, I owned Dungeon Quest but gave up on it. After a certain number of turns, the main boss (a dragon) is released and kills all the characters still in the dungeon. Whenever we played, we all got slaughtered. With Dungeon, on the other hand, we always came to a conclusion with a clear winner. That is, until last night.

Last night, I played with my brother-in-law (cleric) and wife (wizard). I chose a rogue. Initially, I was doing well. Very early on I gathered some nice treasures to reach a wealth of 5,000 gold pieces, halfway to my goal. But then I suffered a series of defeats on the 3rd level, dropping my treasures in my hasty retreats. By the time we ended the game, I was broke.

The cleric did not fare well, either. About halfway through the night, he was killed. My brother-in-law then returned as a fighter. He found a nice treasure worth 5,000 gold pieces, only to lose it in the next room. Like me, he ended the night without a single gold piece to his name.

Which brings me to the wizard. She started her quest in level 4 but got frustrated after a couple of defeats. She also ran out of spells, so she switched strategy and moved to the lower levels, scooping up easy wins and easy treasures. She grabbed a lot of loot by following behind me and killing the monsters who had stolen my treasures. It looked like she would walk away with the game, as she had 24,000 gold pieces (she needed 30,000 gp to win).

The wizard's pile of loot

Unfortunately, the wizard ran into trouble on level 3. She was battling a monster but rolled extremely low. Defeated, she had to roll to determine the effect of her defeat. Double 6s – she was killed!

The wizard lies in a pool of blood (upper right)

After an hour and a half of playing, all three of us had as much gold as when we started - zilch. We called the game at this point, declaring us all losers. Last night we were the worst adventurers ever.