Sunday, September 24, 2017

Invasion Irma - Aetheria Style

It's been a while so I decided to get back on the 6 x 6 campaign. I had a little trouble setting up

But I was able to manage to get my Aetheria planes out.

The last time we saw our heroes, Dirk Daring and his wingman Pip Paddington, Pip managed to down two Imperial Raptor fighters. This time an even bigger prize presented itself - the Imperial Air Ship (IAS) Irma.

Dirk and Pip spot (lower right) spot Irma being escorted by 3 Raptor fighters. Our heroes are in an excellent position for an intercept (their starting position was determined randomly).

 At long range, Dirk manages to riddle the airship. One Raptor spots our heroes and begins to turn towards them. (The lead Raptor was a veteran while the other two were inexperienced. Their qualities would have major implications throughout the game)

Dirk and Pip continue their run at the airship. The lead Raptor turns back toward the fray.

As Dirk focuses on the airship, the lead Raptor maneuvers into an excellent firing position. His burst is deadly accurate - Dirk's plane shudders and goes down.

Pip keeps up the pursuit and continues to hammer the airship.

Irma heads for the clouds, hoping to escape Pip.

Pip circles around the cloud.
And avoiding the veteran Raptor pilot,  Pip zooms ahead of the airship.

He turns back and makes a head-on pass. More bullets rip through the airship.

Pip turns for a tailing shot. His burst blasts Irma; it catches fire and begins to plummet to the ground. But before Pip could celebrate, a burst rips through his Goshawk fighter - he goes down!

Fortunately, both Pip and Dirk manage to parachute out of their stricken aircraft and are rescued by friendly forces. Although they lost two aircraft, they managed to destroy an enemy airship!

6 by 6 Challenge - 3.6 Complete!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Tank on Tank

My experiment with One Deck Dungeon has impressed upon me the value of commercial games where all you need is contained in the package. Last weekend, as I waited for Hurricane Irma to hit, I spent some time searching online for a simple, small, board wargame that I could pull out when I don't feel like dealing with miniatures. Eventually, I stumbled on Tank on Tank by Lock n' Load Publishing. I remembered that the Battlefields and Warriors blog did a very thorough review, which had piqued my interest, When I noticed they had a digital version, I decided to give it a try.

I picked up the Westfront module. 

I played the first scenario (Overrun) a few times. The starting positions are shown below:

In this scenario, German Panthers and Tigers are trying to overrun an American held position. I played the Americans in my first attempt. Not really understanding the objectives or how to play the game, I proceeded to lose my entire force. Imagine my surprise when the game said that I won. The Germans (the computer) never managed to secure the 2 objective points before the end of the game (7 turns for this scenario).

I then tried as the Germans and got slammed. I tried a couple more time before Hurricane Irma knocked out my power. As I played, I began to pick up the rules and tactics of this game. Now that I have power, I tried again and finally won! On to the next scenario!

I really enjoy this game, even though I am not particularly interested in World War II. It is simple, quick, and yet requires tactical planning. I think this will be a wonderful filler for when I want to play a game without setting anything up. I am even tempted to get a physical copy!

If you have an interest in quick and simple WWII games, I recommend you read through the Battlefields and Warriors review I mentioned earlier. If you like what you read, order a copy!

Friday, September 8, 2017

One Deck Dungeon - My Thoughts

Previously, I described the basic mechanics of Asmadi's solo/cooperative dungeon crawl game, One Deck Dungeon. So what did I think of it?

Throughout play, I kept comparing it to a favorite game of mine - Four Against Darkness, Obviously, both are solo-able dungeon crawl games so they have their similarities. However, there are some distinct differences. Let's go over them.

In some ways, I like One Deck Dungeon better:

  • Physical components - ODD is a boxed game, complete with cards, dice, tokens, etc. so it naturally wins on the components front. Furthermore, those components assist with the next point.
  • Ease of play - ODD is a bit more abstract than 4AD, which makes the game a bit simpler. For example, there is no mapping of the dungeon. The encounter cards really make things easy; you just flip over a card to search a room - no rolling on multiple charts.
In other ways, I prefer Four Against Darkness:
  • More flexible - It is very easy to modify the charts in 4AD (and even to create your own new monsters). This allowed creation of distinctive adventures. I can't envision doing that with ODD because it seems that the game is highly dependent on the card mix. There is an expansion that can add variety to ODD but it is still less flexible than 4AD.
  • Less randomness - Actually, both games have a large degree of randomness. This makes dungeons seem like an illogical hodgepodge of encounters. I mitigated this in 4AD by customizing dungeons based on a specific theme. As I noted in my previous point, ODD seems less flexible in this respect, therefore I expect it will feel more random.
  • More character - Both games offer archetypal character classes with opportunities to improve. However, adding skill in ODD is done per dungeon.When you start a new dungeon you pretty much start back at square one (there is a campaign mode that allows you to gain some permanent skills, but you still lose the cards you acquired in previous sessions). As a result, 4AD provides a better sense of character development. I have provided lengthy accounts of my 4AD characters' adventures. I just cannot imagine doing that with ODD.
Overall, I like both games and expect that they will serve different purposes. ODD is great if I want a quick game without much effort or prep. 4AD will serve when I want a bit more immersive solo RPG experience. My verdict is to get both!

Invasion Irma

Last year, Hurricane Matthew turned out to be a dud for us. It turned northward before it reached us, skirting the coast. We got some rain but that's about it.

Hurricane Irma is looking like a different kettle of fish altogether. It is already pretty much wiped out Barbuda. According to the latest forecast, it is heading right for me.

Right now is the proverbial calm before the storm. I'll be hunkering down throughout the weekend and praying that we make it safely through.

Monday, September 4, 2017

One Deck Dungeon - Overview

Last week I mentioned that I picked up a couple of quick play dungeon crawl games. My wife and I played both of them over the weekend and enjoyed both of them. This morning I played another run-through of One Deck Dungeon by Asmadi Games.

One Deck Dungeon (ODD) is a dungeon crawl game for 1 to 2 players. It uses cards to build the dungeon and dice (lots of dice) to adjudicate encounters.

Below is a photo of the play area. There is a deck of cards with encounters listed on them. As your character explores the dungeon, the rooms are revealed (a maximum of 4 is laid out at any one time).

Here is a hero card. One can play as a warrior, mage, paladin, rogue, or archer. The icons on the left represent attributes and items. For example, the warrior starts with 3 strength, 1 agility, and 4 health. Strength, agility, and magic (none for the warrior) translate to dice that are rolled to overcome encounters. Health works like standard hit points; don't fall to 0!

 Here is a combat encounter card. To defeat the goblin swarm, the player rolls their dice pool (which can also include black "heroic" dice that act as wild cards) and tries to fill in the boxes on the encounter card. Boxes are color coded - yellow requires strength; pink = agility, and blue = magic. The numbers represent what needs to be rolled. For example, to fill the bottom right box requires a roll of 5 on a strength die.

Once the dice are rolled, allocate them to the boxes (note that you can use multiple dice to fill in the larger, rectangular boxes). In this case, I failed to fill a pink box, thus I must take damage (red heart icon) and lose time (yellow hourglass).

So that's the basic mechanic - roll dice and cover boxes. I kind of think of it as yahtzee, in a dungeon. Hey, that's not a bad thing - I like yahtzee. If you are looking for a more traditional dungeon crawl (roll dice to hit, record damage, rinse and repeat), this isn't it. Nevertheless, the core mechanic allows you to breeze through encounters very quickly. ODD also requires a lot of decisions, which makes the game interesting. Decisions include:

  • How to allocate dice during combat
  • Whether to enter or flee a room
  • What kind of loot to take (there are multiple options per encounter - more on that in a moment)

There are different dungeons, each with a unique main boss. I played the Dragon's Cave. Depending on the dungeon and floor, you'll have additional boxes you need to fill. For example, on the first floor of the Dragon's Cave, you need an additional 3 strength per combat encounter (you also need to fill the yellow box)

You don't need to cover all the boxes to succeed in an encounter; you just need to survive. If you do, you keep the encounter card as loot. There are 3 possible types of loot (you can choose). The icons on the left represent additional items that boost your abilities. For example, you can use the goblin card to boost strength by 1 die. The bottom box represents either a skill (shown) or a potion that provides beneficial effects. Finally, you can apply the encounter to experience (icons on top). Gain enough experience to level up, which allows you to apply more items or skills to your character.

Here is the warrior with an additional item (left) and skill (bottom). Your loot is kept under the character card, with the relevant info peeking out.

(Note: You may notice that the warrior in this photo has more dice than the picture above. That's because I started my solo game using the 2-player side. The 1-player side gives you more dice)

There are also perils (e.g. traps). You will always have 2 options to deal with the peril. For example, you can use strength to climb around the pit of spikes or use agility to jump it. I used strength, and boy did I roll poorly!

Once you get through the floors of the dungeon, you come to the main boss. Here is the dragon!

Boss battles proceed over multiple rounds. Fill in the boxes with the skull icon to inflict damage on the boss. But first you must get past its defenses (fill in the boxes with the green shields). If you inflict damage equal to the number in the bottom box (6 for the dragon) then you kill the boss and complete the dungeon!

So that's an overview of how to play ODD. For more info, I recommend checking out some of the walk-throughs on YouTube.

What are my thoughts on this game? I'm going to do another post with my thoughts.

Friday, September 1, 2017

August Update

Nada, zip, zilch, nothing. That's what happened in August.

Six by Six Challenge
Last month I predicted my pace would slacken and I was right about that. I had hoped to get one game in, but I never managed it.

Nevertheless, I have completed 27 games, an average of 3.375 a month. Still on pace.

What Happened?
There are a few reasons why I believe my productivity crashed.

  1. The August Swoon - I'm not sure why, but August tends to be a slow month for my gaming. Over the years, I average 5 posts a month in August compared to 8 posts a month overall. Still not sure why August tends to be slow.
  2. Burnout - I have been on a (for me) torrid gaming pace this year. I probably average 1-2 games  a month in a typical year compared to over 3 this year. That pace was a result of the 6 x 6 challenge, which was the point of the challenge. The drawback is that I began to feel burned out, that I had to perform. I just tired of it.
  3. Real Life - lots of things going on this month, from a sick cat (the Buster saga is continuing) to work, church, etc. I just have not felt up to much gaming on the weekend.
  4. LARP Life - I also mentioned last month that I started a project to launch a new LARP kingdom. This project has been diverting a lot of my energy.

Prospects for Next Month

  • Once again, I hope to complete at least one miniature game during the month.
  • I am excited about a couple of games that I recently ordered. My wife and I have been feeling tired with many of our games. Too often they require a bit of set-up, which discourages us from playing. We've been moving towards games that can be set up and played quickly. We recently found a couple that seem to fit the bill.
    • Welcome to the Dungeon - We saw this game on Tabletop and my wife was interested. It is a bluffing / push-your-luck card game of dungeon crawling. Players take turns adding monsters to the dungeon or taking items away from the hero. A player may drop out of the round. The last player left in the round then takes on the role of hero and tries to make it through the dungeon. If the player succeeds then he/she gets a treasure. Get 2 treasures and win! When we watched the Tabletop episode, we expected it would be a 3+ player game. When I saw that it can accommodate 2 players I immediately ordered it.
    • One Deck Dungeon - Another dungeon crawl game. This can be played by 1 player or 2 players co-op style. It is essentially a dice-rolling game.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Cat City in Carcassonne

Tonight my wife and I played a quick game of Carcassonne.

I started out quickly, completing a bunch of small cities. Meanwhile, my wife was working on a large, meandering metropolis. As a result, I built up a nice 30 point lead. Elizabeth was at the point of conceding, feeling that she could never complete the city.

Well, she managed to finish it. My 30 point lead turned into a 6 point deficit.

She called it Cat City because she said it looked like a cat.
Elizabeth's "Cat City" (circled)
We then were in a neck-to-neck race for the rest of the game. However, I had one more farmer than her and racked up 12 points from him to pull out the victory.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

July Update

Six by Six
Thanks to the long Independence Day weekend, I got a good start to the month, so I was able to get in 5 games! I have now completed 27 games (average of 3.75 a month).

Here is a list of the games played during the month:
I suspect that my pace is going to slacken because I am so close and won't feel pressure to play. I doubt that I will finish DC Rivals (my wife lost interest in the game) but expect to finish the others.

The Generic Army Project
For my initial Slipstream ground battles, I used 2mm and 3mm ancient figures. I noticed that I could not tell what they were. At normal game ranges their weapons are nigh on invisible;  I can only see their formation and primary colors (shields are even hard to see). This led to a revelation. the actual figure is not discernible therefore a figure can stand in for any period. In other words, I only really need 2 generic armies to cover all of history and beyond.

To this end, I started working on 2 generic armies (red vs. white although I am tempted to add a third blue army). Each army will consist of 4 units each of heavy infantry, light infantry, and cavalry supplemented with some elite infantry, artillery, and perhaps some war machines (tanks or whatever).

In the past, I've tried to distinguish unit types based on strip type or supplemental colors (e.g. shield color). This doesn't always work at the micro-scales, For the generic project I plan to differentiate based on formation, perhaps supplemented by flag colors.

I started this project but stalled because of . . .

A New LARP Kingdom
I am a devoted LARPer (live action roleplayer) but often find myself dissatisfied with the state of LARPing. It's not so much the local group as it is dealing with national organizations that dictate rules to the local groups. I would prefer local autonomy so that my realm (local group) can develop its own customs, especially with regards to knighthoods. Well, I recently discovered a cure for my frustrations. The High Fantasy Society, a national organization based in Texas, actually allows each local group to rule itself. I am in the process of creating a chapter of the HFS in South Florida; this involves a lot of organization in its own right (writing bylaws, creating a rank structure, developing heraldry, scheduling practices, recruiting, etc.)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Spandau in Space

One of the nice things about science fiction gaming is that you can easily encapsulate ideas from other periods. For example, I've always enjoyed the "dogfights in space" approach of Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, et. al where space fighters duke it out in a futuristic version of World War II air combat. Although it is admittedly unrealistic, it is great fun!

Anyway, I ginned up some crude rocket ships for my Slipstream project. I had a little time this morning so I decided to have a go at a dogfight. What rules did I use? Spandau and Lewis!

Three war rockets (red) of the evil queen Anathraxa are looking for renegade Theophilians (background for my campaign is on Tales of the Templars). They discover two Theophilian rockets.

Game Note: The Queen's rockets use the stats for the Fokker EIII while the Theophilians use DH-2s. The lead Theophilian is a veteran pilot while all others are experienced.

Battle is joined. Red Two takes a long range shot and hits, inflicting minor damage.

The Theophilians catch a Royal rocket in a crossfire. Critical hit! It explodes.

Blue One gets another rocket in his sights. He misses (throughout the game, Blue One rolled horribly for shooting).

Here is an initiative tracker that I whipped up. Crude but effective.

Blue One has another shot, and blows it again.

Blue Two gets into the action, inflicting heavy damage on one of the enemy rockets.

FINALLY, Blue One hits, finishing off the damaged enemy rocket.

The remaining Queen's rocket tries to escape. The Theophilians pursue.

Blue Two takes it out.

Virtue has triumphed over the forces of evil.

Game Evaluation
Despite re-skinning the pieces from World War I planes to rocket ships, the game worked. I also enjoy air combat games because they are so easy to set up.

Six by Six - Game 3-5 complete!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

More Ticket to Ride

Last night my wife and I wanted to play something patriotic to celebrate Independence Day, but we don't really have anything appropriate. So we played Ticket to Ride with the US map.

First we had to survive a Cat-zilla attack.

Here is the final board. My wife (the brown trains) completed 9 routes for 83 bonus points. She also got an extra 15 points for completing the most routes. Needless to say, she handily defeated me.

6 by 6 Challenge - 6.4 complete!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Massacre at the Foaming Flood

With the long weekend, I am able to fit in another game! I decided to do a one-off battle in Anarendor (my fantasy campaign world).

The Royal Army of Anarendor has received word that a large horde of orcs has disgorged from the mountains. A defensive force consisting of 2 companies of Royal Infantry, a company of Rangers, and a band of local levies stands ready at the river called the Foaming Flood. Both crossings are guarded. With more troops in reserve, the men of Anarendor are confident.

On the right, the accurate archery of the Rangers cuts down one band of orcs.

Orcs try to cross the river, with support from goblin archers on the far bank.

The Royal Infantry cuts down the orcs, but more appear. (My rules have a horde provision - any horde unit has a chance to respawn and re-enter the battle).

 The Royal Infantry wipes out another band trying to cross but disaster strikes. The goblin archers destroy the levy. In the south (lower right), two orc warbands and a troop of cavalry surprise and overrun the reserves,

The newly arrived invaders race toward the river.

The remaining Royal Infantry fend off attacks. Those pesky goblin archers now wipe out the Rangers!

After a long, hard-fought battle, the Royal Infantry destroys the enemy cavalry. Alas, on the other flank, the infantry succumbs to a flank attack.

The orcs set the village aflame, then attack the remaining infantry.

The combined attacks are too much. The Royal Infantry falls!

Game Notes

  • The scenario was taken from One Hour Wargames. It is scenario 19 - Blow from the Rear. The attackers (orcs) must remove all resistance within 6" (I used 1 space) of the river while the defenders must hold on.
  • This is game 6 of the Anarendor portion of the 6 by 6 challenge. Achievement unlocked!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

June Update

It was looking to be another lull month - I had only completed one game (a Spandau and Lewis scenario) and was not motivated to play anything. However, I had a burst last week when I started experimenting with FU rules in the Slipstream universe. I completed 2 games in a day. However, I lost a game because I dropped my Zirconia campaign. Thus, I only netted 2 games, below the pace I need to complete the challenge.

I did not complete any of the board games on the list. I am behind schedule for DC Rivals (2 games in 6 months). I suspect that I won't finish it. I am OK with Ticket to Ride (3 games).

I have a long weekend coming up so I hope to crank out a couple of games.

Kaptain Kobold's Six by Six page is up-to-date for my challenge.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Slipstream Six by Six

Over this past weekend I began the Slipstream campaign I've been discussing over the past month. I have completed scenarios 1 and 2. Here are links to the battle reports (which are on my Tales of the Templars blog):

The Scenarios
I'm not using any formal scenarios (i.e. these are not One Hour Wargame Scenarios). Instead, I came up with the context - Queen Anathraxa wants the Sunstone from the Theophilians. So how would she get it? Sneak attack, of course! Bam, I had my scenario. I then just plopped some figures and terrain down and went at it. The second scenario just built off the first and I already have another in mind for the third. In a way, it's sort of like a Mythic session; each scene just flows naturally from the prior one.

The Board
I played the scenarios using my boxed portable wargame set-up. 

The board is 8 by 8 inches, divided into 1 inch squares. Because I don't have any figures specifically representing the combatants, I improvised using my 3mm Magister Miliitum ancients that I painted up for my fantasy Anarendor campaign. Orcs stood in for primals, the Iron Legion served as Handmaidens, and Anarendor infantry became Theophilians. It worked for me!

The Rules
As I mentioned, I plan to use a modified version of FU (Freeform Universal) RPG rules. I really like its action results system. Essentially you ask a yes-no question and then roll a D6 to find the answer. Here are the possible results:
  • 6 = Yes, and
  • 5 = Yes
  • 4 = Yes, but
  • 3 = No, but
  • 2 = No
  • 1 = No, and
This system is very flexible (not surprisingly since it was designed for freeform roleplaying). A character can try anything and the system can handle it.

The system handles better or worse odds by adding dice for each advantage or disadvantage. If you have an advantage, for example, you would roll 2 dice and use the higher. A disadvantage would involve 2 dice, taking the lower roll.

The "and" and "but" results also add interesting twists. For example, a "Yes, but" result means that you succeed, but something unexpected (and undesirable) happens. Perhaps your blast takes out the charging primal but the pistol's energy charge ran out.

I did not have any formal rules on using the results matrix but in general I would roll when combat occurred. a "Yes but" meant that the enemy was defeated but they retreated in good order. A "Yes and" meant that the enemy was defeated and wiped out. On a simple "Yes" I would reroll to determine if they enemy was eliminated.

Advantages / disadvantages depended on terrain (for example, the Templars are defending a building in the second scenario so they got a bonus dice when defending). Also, in FU, characters can have descriptors, which give bonus dice in applicable situations. For example, if a character has a descriptor of Strong then he would get a bonus for lifting heavy objects. This concept can be applied to a wargame, with units getting descriptors. I did not give formal descriptors, but the visitors were weak in combat while the Templars and Handmaidens (due to their training as warriors) had advantages.

Note that I rolled against the matrix in the following situations:
  • To activate a unit
  • To make an attack
  • To save against an attack
Overall, the rules worked, albeit a bit vaguely. I did not apply rules consistently throughout. For example, early on I eliminated a unit when its attacker rolled a "Yes." Later, I began to roll saves if an attack succeeded. Nevertheless, the games were quick (~ half an hour each), involved plenty of decisions, had plenty of suspense, created good stories, and ultimately were fun.

I plan to codify the rules a bit (e.g. define what "and" or "but" means in certain situations) so expect more experiments.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Six by Six Announcement

Hi, my name's Kevin, and I have GADD (Gamer's Attention Deficit Disorder).

Over the years that I've been writing this blog, I have found myself flitting from one period to the next and one rules set to the next. For example, I originally set up this blog to record campaigns in my fictional 18th century continent of Francesia. I quickly branched out to medieval, fantasy, sci-fi, air combat (my previous craze), etc. I call this tendency GADD, and I am having a bout of it now.

My current craze is for pulp sci-fi in the Slipstream universe.

I've been toying with some ideas and have been keen on playing some games in this setting. I already have scenarios in mind and even wrote an introduction to one that I plan to play this weekend.

One thing I've learned since starting this blog is that I have to go with the flow, gaming-wise. As a result, I've decided to embrace my GADD and jump into Slipstream, which leads to the following 6 by 6 announcement:

  • Effective immediately, I am dropping my Zirconia campaign from my 6 by 6 list.
  • In its place will be Slipstream battles and skirmishes using modified FU (Freeform Universal) rules
I have already made the change on my 6 by 6 tracker. I am aware that I will be losing a game (the Battle of Vesta). Also, I will play out some rocketship battles, but I will use a modified version of Spandau and Lewis (and will record those battles under S&L rather than Slipstream)