A periodic blog about Games, Books, Movies, Pop culture, Technology and whatever else I happen to feel like writing about...

Friday, July 30, 2004

Light Wargame Concept

I have been thinking about this concept for some time, combining some of the mechanics that I like form various light wargames. The concepts that I like are:

Unit strength tracked by figure reduction, as in Battle Cry (BC)
Easy terrain modifiers, BC
Variable unit strengths on Attack vs. Defence, A&A

One thing that I like in A&A vs. BC is the fact that in A&A, you can, and in fact, should, make forces that have different units in them. In BC, a unit will always be composed of the same forces.

I would like to see various unit types, with different cost/benefits.  Units that we don't normally see in these games, like engineers.  My concept is that engineers add to the defensive capabilities of units.  Another unit would be the artillery spotter/communications unit, that could call in a directed barrage with reasonable accuracy.  Or, infantry acting as a screen for tanks could add to the defensive bonus of the tanks, which would encourage a more real-life use of combined arms.

I am thinking that unlike BC, the total attack dice would be modified by the number of figures. Attack and Defensive fire should be simultaneous, and infantry subjected to overrun style attacks should get added defensive bonuses.

If I ever get this all down on paper, I'll post it here for you to check out.  I have some inexpensive WWII figures that I picked up just for this experiment, before Memoir 44 was announced, and I think that one of these days I will have to write up a draft rule set to see how it works.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Cottage Gaming

Karen and I are going to her cottage in two weekends with some friends, and they have asked if we (I!) will bring some games along. Due to the logistics of the trip, there won't be a lot of space, so things have to be efficient.

Also, most of these people are not Spielfrieks, so games have to be accessible.

One thing to remember is that many games can be packed into much smaller spaces than their boxes. I once packed all the components for 4 player Settlers into a small drawstring bag.
Card games are intrinsically good as they are small, easy to transport and many people find them easy to play. The Rage deck that I picked up can play the following games:

Rage: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/568
David and Goliath: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/44
Sticheln  http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/354

Then, of course there is 6 Nimmt  http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/432

There is Bruno's Citadels: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/478
And Reiner's Modern Art, which is a very fast playing game that I think would go over very well: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/118

So, I will take In Pursuit http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/2897 (because there was a request for Trivial Pursuit), a few decks of cards, and I can pack Settlers for 5-6 into a very small package. Modern Art would be a very good choice as well, as it is essentially a card game where you are auctioning paintings to the other players. Citadels is fun, and can also be packed in a very small space.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

A&A D-Day and Memoir 44

Saturday evening, Mike the uber-spielfriek came over to play A&A D-Day and Memoir 44. We started out with D-Day, as it would take longer, and we played a standard game, not using the fortune or tactics cards.

Since I had one game as the Allies under my belt, I played the Germans. I knew that I had to concentrate on retaining control of at least one city, and I opted for St-Lo. I put up a token defence in Caen and Cherbourg, and assembled as many units as I could around St-Lo.

Fearing the effects of Allied air power, I tried to spread out adequate artillery to try and take down a few Allied planes. In the end, I was only able to shoot down one fighter the entire time, while losing a number of units to Allied bombing and strafing runs.

The good news, at least for the Axis, was that the tanks just outside of St-Lo proved to be excellent, more like Tigers than Panzers. They scored many, many hits on the Allies, and, in fact, the Allies never made it into St-Lo, even by turn 10.

If the Axis plays well, at least in the standard game, they are hard to beat. I am looking forward to my next play, to see if the Allies can finally take St-Lo.

Since it was Mike's copy of Memoir 44, I told him to select a scenario. He selected the one where 7 French Resistance units are being hunted by 2 German Elite armour units and 7 or so infantry units. The French Resistance units only have three figures, but they are able to move onto any terrain and still fight, and they can choose to retreat 1-3 hexes for each flag rolled.

As the resistance, I figured that I had to make good use of the available tree and town cover. I was able to eliminate one elite armour unit, which counted as two flags, and I had reduced one infantry unit to 1 figure, but, ultimately, the Germans were able to use the remaining tanks and infantry to good effect, and I lost the engagement 4-2.

I like Memoir 44, and I can recommend it. It is more of a generic WWII game than a D-Day game, but it is fast and fun. It has some interesting differences with Battle Cry. I did have some bad luck with my command cards, but I still had a good time.

One suggestion for reducing card hosage might be that any useless card could be used instead to order one unit in any sector. This is not out of line with the special order cards, which are all able to do that, and it would not be overpowering. The Recon cards allow you to move one unit, but they also allow you to draw two cards and to keep the one that you prefer, which can be a good bonus.

All in all, it was an enjoyable evening.

Friday, July 23, 2004

The Tragic Tale of Burgess the Bold

As I was writing Back in the Day, I remembered the D&D story that Colin and I will be laughing about until we slip into senescence. The names of the characters, their specific levels, and how many bags of Cheetos were consumed have all faded into memory, but the core of the tale is as clear as it was that day...

I was DM'ing, and I remember that I had just purchased some dungeon tiles, so that we could build the dungeon as the party explored, so that the inevitable battles would be easier to follow and to DM. I also remember that I had been telling the players that I was going to try and pay more attention to the relative timing of things, just like real DM's were supposed to.

As usual, Colin was playing, as well as Bob, Burgess, and maybe Bob O'Lewis. Colin had a 10th or so level wizard, and Burgess had a Dwarven Cleric. The party was being attacked by the typical mob of bit-part orcs, and Colin told me that he was casting a fireball spell. I told him that it would take a few seconds, and I asked the other players what they wanted to do.

Burgess, who was probably thinking more like a Dwarf than a Cleric, stated that he was going to rush up and attack the orcs with his beloved mace. He moved his miniature up towards the approaching horde. I was taken aback, but decided that this was a good time for an object lesson. I told Colin to roll the 10 dice damage, and Burgess to roll a saving throw. Burgess blanched, and frantically tried to get his miniature back behind the blast.

I quickly slapped his hand away from the miniature, and said, in my best DM voice, "NO". Burgess paled even further, made the saving throw, and barely survived the blast. I think he had maybe 4 hit points left...

Needless to say, the table was consumed in raucous laughter and good natured jibing as we imagined Burgess's Dwarf, looking like Elmer Fudd after Bugs Bunny had conned him yet again into being blown up by an improbably located stick of dynamite.


Thursday, July 22, 2004

Memoir 44 and A&A D-Day

On Saturday evening, uber-spielfriek Mike is coming to play Memoir 44 and A&A D-Day. He is bringing M44, and I have a copy of A&A D-Day. I have been playing Battle Cry since it came out, and so am already very familiar with the system, and I am looking forward to seeing what effect the new cards and units have on what I think is a fundamentally good game.

Now, I don't want to open that old debate, "Is BC a wargame?" As far as I am concerned, it is a very fun game, and it plays a lot like a light wargame, even if one player can get severely hampered by poor card draws and bad dice rolls.

I am not a big fan of standard Axis and Allies. I always found it to be much too long for what it was, and the very large scale of the map makes strategic movement very abstracted. I read with much interest the reports on A&A D-Day while it was being produced, and I was very pleased with the direction that they took.

By restricting the map to the area around Normandy, and by adding clear objectives and removing the economic system, Hasbro has made D-Day the best of the A&A games. It is short, and it forces players to get right into the fight. Combat is simple, fast and bloody, and the different units really do have different benefits.

The addition of the Allied fighter and bomber units is a real treat, and they can exact a heavy toll from the Axis player.

I am anxious to try out M44, but I can't help but think that A&A D-Day is the better game at simulating the feel of D-Day. I think that M44 will come out as being more of a generic, fun, light wargame, which in itself isn't bad. It just doesn't seem to evoke that D-Day feel, at least from what I can see. In M44, you are usually trying to eliminate a set number of units, while in D-Day you have to either take or defend specific towns, which somehow to me feels more like a real battle. Also, the fact that a unit that is attacked gets an automatic defensive attack is a bonus.

Of course, the proof is in the pudding, as they say, and, to quote a certain Danish prince, "The play is the thing".

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Back in the day...

Anyone who has played games for any appreciable amount of time has used these words. They are usually suffused with the warm glow of memory, recalling bygone days when games were games and dice quaked in fear!

There are games that still create fond memories, games like Car Wars, Illuminati, OGRE, D&D, Magic Realm. It was because of these games that my love of gaming was created. I can still remember being able to buy Microgames for less than $5 each, new, in Canada no less!
We played these games back when we were teenagers, when we didn't have dates or girlfriends, jobs or mortgages. They were simpler days, when all we cared about was getting together to slay the dragon, loot the treasure, maybe level up...

When I look at the instructions for Magic Realm, I have a hard time believing that we ever had enough time to spend an hour setting the game up before we even started to play, and that we played for hours one Saturday, with nothing we would have rather been doing.   Now, as an adult, we still get together to play, but time is at a premium. There are always things to do and bills to pay. At least now, when we get together, we know that, for a few hours at least, the world will be a simpler place, where wit, will, cunning and luck will decide the victor. But victory is never the goal, rather, the game itself is the thing.

These days, when we get together to play, it truly is like we are back in the day....

Evil Dead The Musical in Montreal

When my good friend Colin and I found out that Evil Dead, The Musical was playing in Toronto last Halloween, we tried to book some tickets. They were sold out, and so we missed our opportunity to see the show, or so we thought..

When Karen was in Montreal a few weeks back, she saw an ad for Evil Dead 1&2, The Musical, playing as part of the Just for Laughs Festival.   Well, this time, Colin and I were able to get tickets. Colin's wife, Amy, and Karen, my girlfriend, were going to come down with us, and have a nice meal and some drinks while Colin and I enjoyed the masterpiece that is Evil Dead.

If you are a fan of the Evil Dead movies, or Bruce Campbell, or comedy horror, then this show is a must see. They have adapted the stories of Evil Dead 1&2, and have used the best one liners from Evil Dead 1&2 and Army of Darkness. They have written some funny songs, and they adapted the special effects for use on stage.

This show is campy, B-movie horror at its best. Kudos to the cast and crew! Colin and I had a great time, and the girls enjoyed their dinner at a Montreal cafe. For more information on the show, and to see if it might be playing in your neck of the woods, go to www.evildeadthemusical.com

Friday, July 09, 2004

More Goa Impressions

I played another game of Goa with my roommate and a buddy of his, and we were all very impressed with the game. This time we got the starting cards right, so it was much easier to build up tech levels and found colonies.

Once the game gets into the second set of auctions, things really get interesting. This time, I did not use the taxation action a single time, and I did not have the red tile that produces income, yet I came in a solid second. I focussed on Exploration cards and my Colonist levels. I was able to score for a full house with my 5 Exploration cards at the end of the game (3 of a kind is 6, a pair is 3, for 9 points total). I missed first place by around 5 points.

My roommate, who came in first, had focussed on spice production and had built up a number of spice producing tiles. He was able to claim the VP for the Mission by discarding the 6 bags of spice at the end.

Having only played two games, I can't say that I have a fully formed strategy yet. I did miss a few colony founding attempts due to bad luck, but I don't think that the luck factor is overpowering. I think that Goa is a very balanced game, but I also think that it is not a game for everyone.

So far I am really enjoying this game.

Minority Report

The results of the election are in, and the Liberals have won a minority government. They did much better than I expected, but still lost a lot of support. It will be very interesting to see what effects this has on average Canadians, and how long the Government will last before it falls.

It is interesting, because, in order to get things through the House, the Liberals will have to count on BQ and NDP support. And the BQ and the NDP are very similar in a lot of ways, so the cumulative effect should be to pull the centrist Liberals more to the left. Only time will tell. Right now, I will predict that the Government will not last more than 24 months...