Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Battle of Vesta

Battle 2 of the Zirconian Campaign

After their initial defeat, the human defenders of Zirconia prepared to defend the Vesta refinery. Additional forces were situated to hold a nearby hill.

With a rumble and a roar of engines, the robot army of the Dominion came into view.

A firefight broke out as robot infantry advanced on Vesta (left flank)

The defenders wiped out the robot attackers on the left. In the center, the robots annihilated some ambushers hiding the woods.

A tank battle commenced.

And the humans were victorious. Meanwhile, artillery fire wiped out the defenders of Vesta.

The humans lost an artillery duel on the left while the human armor battled hordes of robots.

The robots occupied Vesta.

The robots wiped out the human armor.

 Heavy fighting for the hill.

The humans were victorious on the right.

The remaining humans tried to swing left and retake Vesta.

Accurate enemy artillery scattered their forces, though. The robots held Vesta, inflicting another defeat on the defenders of Zirconia.

Game Notes:
  • With this battle, the robots are 2-0 in the campaign.
  • And now I've completed my first 6 x 6 sci-fi game.
  • This scenario was # 14 - Static Defense from Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargames.
    • The attackers had to seize either the refinery (a town in Thomas's version) or the hill by the end of 15 turns.
  • I played a rather vanilla version of WISER sci-fi. I did not include air strikes or force fields in this scenario. I'll have to add them in next time.
  • I'm going to rethink some of my unit statistics for my sci-fi version. For example, I thought artillery was too powerful. It used 2 dice without modification for range (assuming that drones are directing the fire). Most of the casualties were from artillery. It may be realistic, but made for a somewhat lackluster game. For example, after successfully defending Vesta, the human infantry were wiped out by long-range artillery, allowing robot foot to walk into the area. I would have liked to see a more protracted fight for the objective.
  • I had a minor logistical issue with the road. It kept sliding on the board. I need to find a way to secure it without damaging the board, or else I'll need to change the board.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Expanding My Boxed Game Project

I was so pleased by my experiment with a boxed portable wargame that I decided to expand upon it with additional terrain boards.

Here is the result - space, desert, and sea:

The boards consist of scrapbooking paper glued to stiff 8" x 10" artist board. I chose paper because I figured it would be thinner than felt and therefore allow for more stuff in the box. I played a test game with a road cut from some paper. It tended to slide, a problem I didn't have with my felt boards. I'm thinking of switching to felt (although laziness may postpone this idea for a while).

The space and sea boards are divided into an offset square grid, which I think will work better for ship maneuvering.

My plan is to get a Tuff Box for each board. I'll fill the box with everything needed to play a game. In addition to the board there will be dice, terrain (as applicable), a copy of the rules, and two opposed miniature armies. My ship and spaceship miniatures are too large for these grids so I will need to turn to smaller alternatives.

Anyway, I'll post my account of my latest experiment - the next battle in my Zirconian sci-fi campaign.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Battle of Mander's Hill

An Anarendor Battle

Inspired by Bob Cordery's boxed portable wargame, I ordered a couple of Tuff boxes. They arrived on Friday so I began putting together my own box.

I'm taking a slightly different approach, using miniatures and terrain. My battlefield is 8 by 8 1 inch squares.

I decided to test it, and complete a 6 x 6 Challenge game by playing a fantasy battle set in Anarendor. I'm using my WISER rules. Units are 1 stand each, and I tweaked the rules a bit to account for that.

The Battle
Following up after their victory at Merridale, the Dark Lord's forces pressed relentlessly deeper into Anarendor. A unit of rangers and militia took a stand upon a ridge (with the rangers upon Mander's Hill).
Rangers are on the right

With a wood blocking a direct route to the hill, the enemy forces swung wide.

Before they even came to grips, reinforcements arrived, including more rangers and a unit of the King's Royal Infantry.

A band of giant spiders attack the rangers on the hill.

They are routed, but more evil forces appear.

More militia arrive to bolster the Anarendorian ranks. The orc warbands rush up the slopes of Mander's Hill.

An orc warband pushes the militia off the ridge (center of the line).

Then the Iron Legion attacks the Royal Infantry.

The orcs rout two units and swarm up the hill. The Royal Infantry stands alone.

But they hold out stalwartly as a unit of rangers showers the orcs with arrows. A warband breaks.

A militia unit gains the top of the ridge and comes to the aid of the Royal Infantry.

They break the warband. On the Anarendorian left (the picture's right), orcs break some militia before they are destroyed by ranger arrows.

The Iron Legion tries to gain the hill.

 But now heavily outnumbered, the forces of evil are cut down.

Utterly routed, the forces of the Dark Lord slink back to their hideouts in the Bleak Mountains.

Days later, as the news reaches the capital, bells ring in celebration. In particular, the king recognized the brave Royal Infantry that held the hill despite the odds. From then on, their unit were to be known as The Stalwarts.

Game Notes

  • With this victory, the forces of good are up 3-1, and thus secure a victory in the campaign.
  • I now have completed 2 fantasy games for the 6 x 6 Challenge. I will start a new campaign to get in the last 4.
  • The scenario is # 8 - Melee, from Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargames. The objective is to hold the hill at the end of 15 turns. The Iron Legion was still alive but unable to take the hill by turn 15. I went 1 additional turn in order to destroy them and create a satisfying ending.
  • I used my WISER rules for the most part. Units could only take 2 hits, however. I compensated by halving any damage.
  • I would say that my experiment with a boxed portable wargame was very successful. Initially, I worried that the battlefield would feel too small. However, I actually liked that units took up most of the space. The boxed version made set-up and take-down very easy. This may become my most common method of gaming!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Still Can't Save the World

Tonight's family game night choice was Pandemic. It's not a game that we play very often because it's rather depressing. It is a cooperative board game where the players try to cure four plagues that are ravaging the world.

Unfortunately, we have never been able to save humanity. We are getting better; tonight we were one turn from victory before time ran out.

The board at the end
One thing that has helped is playing the game correctly. We erroneously thought that we had to wipe out all diseases to win. That is not the case; the players only need to find all the cures. So, for example, Santiago, Chile has 3 yellow cubes. Because yellow has been cured, we don't need to worry about Santiago.

Because we played correctly this time we focused on finding cures and did much better . At the end of the game, there are very few diseases (colored cubes) on the board and we had no outbreaks at all. We managed to cure 3 of the 4 plagues and were 1 turn away from curing the last. Then the deck ran out and the game ended.

We're still trying to get the knack of this game. Obviously, we managed our hands inefficiently. We used some red cards to fly to Asia and treat some diseases. This left us a bit lacking in red cards near the end of the game. If we were a little more conservative, we may have won. Still, this is a very annoying way to lose (and it's the second time in a row its happened). The board looks like we were doing well, but we still lose. Probably why we don't play this game very often.

A Colonial Diversion

Let me explain how this latest diversion came about. I blame Dan Mersey and Bob Cordery.

Dan Mersey is the author of the Osprey rules set The Men Who Would Be Kings. I picked it up recently and now have an itch for some colonial battles. The rules are geared more for larger, individually based figures so I don't think I'll be using them,but they have rekindled my interest in the theme. That's why I decided to do a colonial campaign as one of the games in the 6 x 6 challenge.

Bob Cordery is the other culprit. I am intrigued by his boxed portable wargame and want to make my own. I even ordered a couple of Tuff boxes to start putting one together. I still want to use minis and plan to get some small-scale blocks for use. The plan is to place 2 blocks on a stand and call it a unit, with armies consisting of 4-6 units.

What rules? I want something quick-playing (Bob Cordery mentioned a "sudden death" rule will be in his The Portable Wargame book. That's kind of what I have in mind). Then I had a flash of inspiration. Using a small board, the player army starts on one end and has to march to the other. The terrain, determined randomly, won't be revealed until a unit has the space in line of sight and range. Enemies will also appear randomly. I jotted down some rules and recently tried a game with a single unit. Thus, Captain Manwaring's expedition was born.

I am a bit concerned that this will divert me from the 6 x 6 challenge (I don't plan to count my non-miniature experiments). Alas, such is the trials of GADD (gamer's attention deficit disorder).

Massacre of Captain Manwaring

Below is a test game using a new set of rules I'm experimenting with. I don't have the requisite figures so I played on a virtual board.

After the discovery of the island (or was it a continent? explorers had not yet fully determined) of Rapala, the merchants of Redgrave opened a brisk trade with the natives. The powerful inland state of Lumbago brought goods to the coast for exchange with Redgravian manufactures.

Recently, some of the native tribes have been raiding the coastal trading posts. Captain Manwaring with a detachment of Redgrave Trading Company marines has been dispatched to investigate.
Note: For this test, I am only using 1 unit + a leader (the star). I intend to use 4 units + a leader for a standard game.

The marines land on the Rapala beach. Immediately, a band of native warriors appeared on a hill overlooking the beach.
Note: I only determined terrain when the square was visible to the marines, assuming a range of 3. Light green has not yet been determined.

The marines formed a line and unleashed a volley, which scattered the warriors.
Note: The black dots indicate morale markers, which affect combat results.

The marines then advanced along a line of hills. A band of musket-armed natives began to fire from the woods while another warband approached.
Note that I changed the color of the squares where terrain has not been determined. They are now blank (white) while light green is open terrain.

The natives attacked the marines from the front and flank.

But the marines held off the warband and then charged the muskets, causing them to rout.

They turned on the warband and sent them packing, too.

More natives appeared. The marines charged again.

This time, the warband held firm. Shots rang out from the left flank.
Captain Manwaring was hit and killed! Without his leadership, the marines lost heart, and routed from the field. Only a few made it back to the beach and the waiting boats, with a horde of natives in hot pursuit.
Note: Manwaring's death is merely poetic license. The rules do not (yet) account for leader casualties. Instead, the unit got destroyed so I described it as resulting from their commander's death.

There's definitely trouble in Rapala!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Some Thoughts on Dark Waters

Dark Waters is a module for Ganesha Games' Four Against Darkness dungeon crawl game.

I purchased it when it first came out last year. I wanted to use it for a session with my wife, but she has somewhat soured on dungeon crawls in general. When I was trying to decide what to play for the 6 x 6 Challenge, I decided I would play some of the modules that have been lying around (figuratively, for I own PDF copies). I recently completed this module (the reports are on my Tales of the Templars blog - parts 1, 2, and 3) and wanted to share some thoughts about it.

First, a little about the module itself, It consists of 2 parts - a pre-generated adventure and a random adventure with new tables for determining enemies, treasure, etc. Your characters get to fight new foes, including corsairs and denizens of the briny deep. The second part of the adventure is an interesting twist - the dungeon is actually a sunken temple.

Overall, this module is an excellent value (especially for a cost of 2.50 USD). It provides a bunch of new foes, treasures, events, features, etc. I liked the underwater location; that was a pleasant twist. The dungeon itself was enjoyable. I found myself getting into the story (even though I tweaked it a bit to fit my fantasy world).

If you read my last game report, you'll see that I went back to 4 characters (I've been experimenting with a party of 2). For the second part, I decided to play 4AD fairly straight. I still abandoned looting and assumed that my 2 main characters carried a potion of healing each. I must say I am glad that I used 4 characters because the final boss was HARD. I had 2 characters down to 1 life point and the others were down to 2. If the boss didn't die when it did, I was going to lose someone. So if you play this, make sure you have lots of healing ready for the final confrontation.

Another interesting aspect was how short it was for me - only 6 rooms. This is quite unusual for 4AD; I usually end up with a dozen or more rooms in the random dungeon. I did a rough calculation of the odds and figure there was about a 5% chance of finding the main boss so quickly. In a way that was good; I don't think the party would have survived if they had to fight their way through more enemies. On the other hand, the party did not get to experience very many of the challenges that the authors prepared. I will have to dust off some of them for future adventures.

Anyway, if you like 4AD, I highly recommend this module.

6 x 6 Challenge Note:
Even though Dark Waters was one module, it essentially consisted of 2 separate dungeons. Therefore, I counted it as 2 games for the challenge.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Blogging is Bad for Gaming

But I wouldn't have it any other way

What I mean by this is that (for me anyway), blogging can take away time from actually playing games. This thought struck me because I played a game for the 6 x 6 Challenge last weekend. I had time to play another scenario but instead chose to take the time to blog. Because my WISER rules are simple and quick-playing (games last around 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the scenario), I actually spent more time writing than I did playing! If I didn't blog, I could fit in a lot more games.

But that is not something I want to do. I have found blogging to be one of my favorite aspects of the hobby. In a TMP thread about the most satisfying part of the hobby, I wrote:
I get the most satisfaction out of creating and recording stories. I enjoy the world-building aspect, setting up the scenarios, playing the game to see what happens, and then developing the story to go around the game. I use my blog to record these stories.
 I expressed a similar sentiment in a retrospective about Diplomacy. Back then I stated:
My favorite part of all those campaigns was the newsletter that I wrote to describe the events. As a result, Diplomacy transcended from a mere game to an epic story with heroes and villains, triumphs and tragedies.
 You may be able to tell that I like blogging because I actually have 3 blogs - my wargames blog (where this is posted), my RPG blog, and my LARP blog. Because I like blogging, I can get a little long-winded sometime (such as this, a post dedicated solely to an introduction to a dungeon crawl scenario).

Anyway, the short version of this post is that my blogging may prevent me from completing the 6 x 6 Challenge but I wouldn't change a thing.

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Merridale Massacre

Despite suffering a major defeat at Redwick, the Dark Lord kept sending his minions into Anarendor. Faced with overwhelming odds, the garrison at the dilapidated frontier outpost of Fort Ormill decided to withdraw to a more defensible location.

However, as they neared the village of Merridale, they ran into an advance party of the Dark Lord's orcs.

The knights charged and wiped out the orcs, opening the road to safety. But then more orcs appeared on the left flank.

The knights continued to press forward and two companies of levies followed close behind. On the left, the orc hordes launched devastating attacks while another horde appeared to the south (top of the board)

Game note: My WISER rules include a horde rule. Any horde that is destroyed will reappear on a roll of 4-6. Thus, the horde destroyed by the knights reappeared to block the levy.

The lines stabilized on the left but the orcs to the south crushed the levy. And more orcs appeared from the west (right).

The orcs pressed harder, however, and two companies of levy were cut down.

One company of levy hurried down to the road. They had nearly reached safety when they ran into a band of the Dark Lord's Iron Legion.

The Iron Legion smashed the levy while the foresters (archers), who had been largely silent through the battle, ran for safety.

The foresters made it but the remaining levy were massacred.

Thus, the Dark Lord finally had a victory.

Game Notes

  • The scenario was #13 - Escape from Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargames.
  • The army of the Dark Lord included 4 orc warbands, 1 orc archer unit, and 1 company of the Iron Legion (infantry). The Anarendorians had 4 levy, 1 archer, and 1 knight.
  • The objective was for the good guys to get 3 units off the board while the enemy appeared at various times and points on the board. I managed to get 2 and was very close with a third but the Iron Legion arrived just in time to win the day.
  • I often worry that my WISER rules won't work with OHW scenarios. I include activation rolls which Thomas doesn't. This can prevent the troops having enough turns to make it to the objective. Fortunately, that was not the case this time. Unfortunately, not enough of the good guys got past the enemy.
  • Currently, the Anarendorians are still winning the campaign with a 2-1 score in battles won.
  • With this session, I have managed to complete 3 games toward the 6 x 6 challenge within 2 days. Because I go back to work tomorrow, I don't expect to continue that pace.
  • I am also one game closer to playing all of the OHW scenarios. I began that challenge in June  2015 and have been making slow progress.

2017 Six by Six Challenge Tracker

As I previously mentioned, I decided to take on Kaptain Kobold's Six by Six Challenge. I will use this post to track my progress throughout the year.

Anarendor (Medieval Fantasy using WISER rules)
1. The Merridale Massacre
2. Battle of Mander's Hill
3. Battle of Pogo Pass
4. Raid on Presteria
5. Harumba Hill
6. Massacre at the Foaming Flood

Lumbago (Colonial using WISER rules)
Replaced by Spandaus and Lewis

Spandaus and Lewis (WWI dogfight rules by Kaptain Kobold)
1. Dirk Downs a Bomber
2. I Guess Training Is Not His Forte
3. Dirk's Patrol
4. Pip's Big Day
5. Spandau in Space
6. Invasion Irma - Aetheria Style

Zirconia and Beyond (Sci Fi using WISER rules)
1. Battle of Vesta
Replaced by Slipstream

Slipstream (Pulp Sci Fi using FU-inspired rules)
1. Surprise Attack!
2. The Templars' Last Stand
3. Say Goodbye to the Sunstone
4. Into the Black Hole and Pirate Panic
5. Cavern of the Rock Men
6. Uninvited Guests

Four Against Darkness (Fantasy Dungeon Crawl)
1. Dark Waters - part 1
2. Dark Waters - part 2
3. Castle of the Chaos Lord
4. Grove of the Gorgon (part 1 and part 2)
5. Crypt of Count Valod
6. Wandering in the Woods

DC Rivals: Batman vs. Joker (Card Game)
1. Jan. 1 (during 12 Games of Christmas)
2. March 12
Replaced by Machinas

1. Nothing Shall Stop These Couriers
2. Saturday Night Race
3. Motorcycle Madness
4. Truck Country

Ticket to Ride (my new addition to the list)
1. Feb. 18
2. Apr. 8
3. May 27
4. July 3

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016's Twelve Games - Part 2

I previously recounted the first week of the Twelve Games of Christmas. Here are the rest:

Wed 12/28 - Love Letter
My wife is working early tomorrow so we went for something short - the card game Love Letter.

Thomasina our cat loves this game. Perhaps it's because we call her Princess and there's a princess in the game. She probably thinks we're talking about her.

Anyway, I pulled out to an early lead (5 hands to 3) then lost the next 4 to lose the game. I then spent some time playing this:

Thu 12/29 - Boss Monster
We tried to play Boss Monster (which I described in an earlier 12 Games). We had a slight problem:

Onyx is not the Boss Monster
Onyx decided that he wanted to play. Every time we moved him, he hopped back up on the table. Ultimately, he bored of his game and we finally finished ours. I managed to put together a killer dungeon filled with deadly traps, which allowed me to win 10-5.

Fri 12/30 - Ticket to Ride (Nordic Countries)
I was feeling good when I ended the game. I had completed two very long routes (including Murmansk-Kobenhagen) for massive bonus points.
My routes are in white
And in fact, my bonus points were enough to overcome my wife's lead and her bonus points. One problem - because she was completing shorter routes she finished more of them and earned the 10 point Globetrotter bonus. She beat me by 5 points.

Sat 12/31 - Gloom and Batman Fluxx
What better way to spend New Year's Eve than to play games? We decided to play another card game, Gloom (described here). It turned out to be a short game because I got some great cards. I was able to pile on the misery and then kill my family, securing a quick victory.

We then played Batman Fluxx and my luck continued. I rattled off 3 straight victories. Fluxx can be a very unpredictable game - sometimes it ends quickly but others it can go on and on. Tonight, my victories ended quickly. My wife went out on a high note, however. We played one more hand and this time she won.

Sun 1/1 - DC Rivals
We originally thought about Mice & Mystics but I was tired from a day of killing (like this) so we turned to DC Rivals instead. We decided to shorten the game by playing to 2 confrontations won (instead of 3).

I won the first confrontation but then my wife won the next. This left us tied 1-1. Then I had a hand with about 9 points, however 3 cards allowed me to draw more cards. I needed another 4 points to win. I debated whether I should try a confrontation, then decided to go for it. With my additional draws, I gained 4 more points and my wife had no blocks in her hand. I won the confrontation and the game!

I don't expect to game on Monday so this wraps up the Twelve Games of Christmas, and true to its name we played 12 games.

What's in Store for 2017?

Let's pull out the crystal ball and see what's in store for 2017.
  • The Six by Six Challenge - I decided to accept Kaptain Kobold's Six by Six Challenge. I have selected the games (part 1 and part 2). I predict that I will: 
    • Complete Four Against Darkness, DC Rivals, and 2 of the 3 miniature games
    • Fail to finish the last miniature game (it is unclear which one will fall by the wayside)
    • Will dither on deciding the sixth game then will go easy by choosing Fluxx.
  • Portable Dungeon Crawl - I recently experimented with a portable version of a dungeon crawl, using the 4AD engine. I predict that I will have a basic boxed set completed by the end of the year.
  • A New Army - some time during the year I'll catch a bug and decide to build a new army. It will be 3mm and most likely will be a fantasy army.
  • Board Game Purge (Not!) - We are going to run out of storage for our board games. I will suggest getting rid of some that we no longer play. My wife will resist and we will get some new shelves for them.