Saturday, August 30, 2014

More New Games

Last week I mentioned that we picked up a bunch of board games. We tried out a couple more.

Elder Sign
In Elder Sign, the players are investigators trying to stop an elder god from traversing a portal into the world. Failure will spell the doom of mankind.

Elder Sign is a dice-rolling game cleverly joined with a Lovecraftian horror theme. Some reviewers have complained that it is essentially Yahtzee with monsters, but we had a good time. Players will undergo missions which they complete by rolling specified combinations of the themed dice. There is strategy in that players must be careful what missions they choose. Some missions are harder than others, however you can gain rewards from easier missions that will allow you to roll more dice. You'll be able to work your way up to the harder missions. Overall, the rules are simple and one can learn to play in no time.

We won pretty easily (another complaint I read in reviews) but that is because I made a mistake and we forgot to apply one of the abilities of the elder god. Nevertheless, it was fun and we are planning to try it again this weekend.

Cthulhu Gloom
In Elder Sign we tried to prevent the elder gods from dooming the world but in Cthulhu Gloom we wanted our characters to suffer a horrible fate.

Gloom is a card game where you win when your characters lose. You'll play cards to make your characters miserable or to cheer up your opponents. When your characters are thoroughly miserable, you kill them off with Untimely Death cards. The player with the most miserable family of characters wins. Cthulhu Gloom takes the basic premise of the original Gloom card game, but the characters, events, and deaths are given a Lovecraftian spin. It's a simple card game but the real fun comes when you create stories to explain how your characters met such misfortune.

We played this last night to get us in the mood for tonight's venture against the elder gods. I racked up a ton of Pathos points but I just could not get the cards to kill them off. I had forgotten that you can use a play to discard your entire hand. My brother-in-law actually killed all of his characters first but my wife had the most miserable family. We really got a chuckle out of the litany of woe that befell each character. For example, poor Barnabas Marsh, the anthropomorphic frog, was invited to dinner with family and friends (more frogs) where he became to main course (the death card was "eaten by frogs"). Anyway, this is another keeper for us.

This is the last game we were waiting for. We haven't played it yet but I'll provide a report when we do. My wife loves it because it features a cute panda.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A New Game (for us) - Dixit

Yesterday we received a fairly large package from Amazon. It contained 3 new board games!

All these were games that we saw on Wil Wheaton’s (Wesley Crusher) web show Tabletop. If you haven’t seen it, it is a lot of fun. He invites a few fellow actors over and they play a board game. It’s a great way to learn about a game and see if it’s something you’d like. Based on our viewing, we ordered:

In addition, we are still waiting for:

I'll be discussing these as we try them out. First up is:


This was the first game we tried, primarily because the rules are absurdly simple that I read them in a few minutes. My wife picked it out but I wasn't expecting much from it. A French game? All about pretty pictures and words? With no fighting? Boring! Or so I thought.

I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. As the “Storyteller” it was quite a challenge to come up with a clue that one person would get but someone would miss. Trying to determine the other Storytellers’ clues also took some thought. There was strategy involved as well. In one game, my wife was in the lead and closing in on a win. It was my turn to be the Storyteller. If she got my clue, she would win. I had to come up with a clue that someone else would get but she wouldn’t. My clue was so vague that she didn’t get it. Our other opponent didn’t understand it but I got lucky and she picked my card. As a result, I pulled ahead and ultimately won. If I had gone with my initial instinct, my wife would have gotten the clue and the game. It also is a short game; each one we played took about half an hour. This makes it ideal for a quick game (sometimes we won't do a game night because I don't feel like setting anything up). The only drawback is that there is a limited number of cards (although there are expansions) so I can foresee us repeating clues at some point. Nevertheless, I also foresee this getting regular playtime.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Star League - Season 2

After the rousing success of the Star League, a sequel was inevitable. So far, I've played 3 weeks of season 2. Standings so far (click for a better view)

So far, the Canopans are once again on top of the Galactic Division, but the undefeated Fomalians (2nd place in their division last season) are the talk of the league.

I believe the changes (described here and here) I've made to the system are paying off. In addition, I tweaked some of the ratings (lowering some of the top ratings and increasing some of the worst). As a result, scoring is up across the board, there seem to be fewer shutouts.

I'm not going to bother posting every week or even summaries of each game. Instead, I think I'll highlight some games every few weeks.

Week 1 - Canopans at Denebians. Week 1 featured 2 overtime games, but the contest between last season's first and second place teams in the Galactic Division was the best. The Canopans looked like they were going to extend their mastery with a quick goal in the first half. After that, the Denebians fought back and tied the score in the 2nd. It appeared that we were heading to OT when the Canopans snuck in a goal in the waning moments of the game. Canopans 2-1

Week 2 - Fomalians at Electrans. After trading goals in the first half, the Fomalians scored early in the second to take the lead. As time was winding down, the Electrans stole the ball, raced downfield, and scored. The game went into OT, but the Fomalians rectified their defensive lapse with a goal. Fomalians 3-2

Week 3 - Betelguesans at Canopans. An exciting week in the Galactic division. The Denebians beat the Antarens 2-1 with a come-from-behind last-second goal. And that was the boring game. In the other contest, the Betelguesans took a 2-0 first half lead against the defending champions. It looked like the Canopans' winning streak was about to be broken. But then the Canopans struck back with 2 goals in the 2nd (including a last second score to send the game into OT). In extra time, the Betelguesans managed a shot that rebounded back. They grabbed control and shot again. Blocked! Once again, the snatched the rebound. Shot and score! Betelguesans 3-2 (ending the Canopan win streak at 10).

Monday, August 18, 2014

Notes on Medieval Francesia

Having the day off and inspired by the receipt of my latest Baccus figures, I decided to run another Redgravian Raiders scenario. I realized, however, that I have no buildings for 6mm.* How can I raid a village if I have no buildings for a village?

* Actually, I don't have any buildings anymore. Overly enthused by my 6mm miniatures, I started to divest myself of my 10mm stuff and prematurely gave away my Village in a Bag to Goodwill.

So I decided to put together some buildings. During my latest visit to Hobby Lobby, I picked up some balsa wood and other wood bits and pieces which I now put it to good use. Here is a sample:

New buildings pressed into action. The glue is still drying on the hut.

Inspired by Bob Cordery, I decided to make thin buildings, such as the one on the right, that would not take up much space in a square. I also picked up some wood buttons to make huts (left). In the spirit of Village in a Bag (and sheer laziness) I only painted the roofs while adding doors and windows with marker. For stability and a little height, I mounted the buildings on wood stands. I still need to paint the base edges.

I'm taking a new approach with my 6mm figures. I picked up a couple of these divided craft organizer boxes at Hobby Lobby. I want to keep everything I need for a game (except for the board) in one box. I currently have my medieval figures, trees, building, and casualty markers in this box. My current hills won't fit so I just made some new, slightly narrower, ones that will.

Anyway, I took my new toys (not the hills - I made them after the battle) and played out a raid. The battle report follows.


I played the next raid in my Redgrave Raiders campaign.

Set Up
After their defeat earlier in the year, the Redgravians decided to raid in force. Two warbands approached one of Count Deleas's villages. The alarm was raised, the levy formed in the village, and reinforcements were rushed to the scene. The raiders moved quickly, however, and soon were nearly upon the village.
Starting positions

The Raid
The Redgravians swooped to attack the village. The levy held out as long as they could as reinforcements rushed forward.
The village beset
 The raiders went into berserk mode, thrashing the levy, which fled from the village.
The village falls
 Both sides temporarily ceased hostilities in order to fend off a giant cat.
 Once it was gone, the Imperial reinforcements engaged the enemy. One warband held them up while the other pillaged and set fire to the village.
Too late! Reinforcements arrive as the village goes up in  flames.
 The pillagers then made off while the other warband covered their escape.
Making off with the plunder
 The plunderers got caught up in the woods while Redgravians and Imperials battled it out near the village.
Stuck in the woods
 The Imperials managed to push aside the blocking warband. They tried to chase down the plunderers but could not catch them. The other warband managed to slip away.
 The Aftermath
Their produce stolen and their homes in ashes, the villagers face a rough winter. Meanwhile, Count Deleas is concerned about the following spring. Will this successful raid embolden his foe, bringing more raiders in the new year? Will the carnage discourage his people, making it harder to recruit soldiers for the upcoming campaigns?

Saturday, August 16, 2014


A few updates about my gaming goings-on:

Last Saturday was another edition of family game night (no pictures of Tom, though). This time we played Star Trek Catan and it was a massacre. Elizabeth raced out ahead and never relinquished the lead for an easy victory. I came in second with a paltry 5 points. If you're keeping track, that's 3 consecutive victories for Elizabeth. Her evil reign must end.
Final position.
Elizabeth really liked the horseshoe-like design of her galactic empire (blue)
 Next up, I received my latest order from Baccus. After my positive experience painting up the Saxon huscarles I'm moving back to 6mm figures.I ordered 2 armies of 18th century minis, which will form the armies of Redgrave and the Empire. I also have some medieval Norman cavalry and archers to add to the huscarles.
My Baccus bundle
 Finally, I did some work on some LARP weapons. I previously showed off my two-handed "torch mace" that I built using a PVC core. A few weeks ago I broke it in half against someone's shield. I cut it down and am in the process into turning it into a one-handed "torch mace" (I still need to cover it).

I really liked my two-handed "torch mace" so I built another, this time using a sturdier fiberglass pole as a core. It was previously a two handed warhammer but I found it to be a little unwieldy so now it is a 4' "torch-glaive."
LARP projects

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Redgrave Raiders Campaign

Although it was intended as a raid, my last medieval game felt more like a battle. For a raid, I wanted something more like Dux Brit - a small band of raiders crossing the countrywide toward a target while defenders frantically rush to the defense. I jotted down a set of rules pitting one or two opposing warbands. The raiders are trying to pillage the village and escape before the defenders arrive.

After coming up with the rules, I was too lazy to set up the board. Instead, I created a virtual board and ran a game on my computer.

Set Up
The map is shown below. First, I rolled to see if there were any defenders in the village; a band of levy had taken up arms. Then raiders (in red naturally) entered from the bottom edge and were able to move 2 turns (a randomly determined head start). Finally, a band of Imperial troops entered at a randomly determined location (in this case a band of horse came in at the top edge).

Starting Positions
The Raid
Each turn, both raiders and defenders must roll to determine if and how far they can move. I designed this to give a sense of suspense. Will the defenders be able to arrive in time or can the raiders escape? At this point in the game, the raiders dithered outside the village while the defending horsemen raced into the village.
The Imperial Horse make it to the village in time
 Finally, the Redgravians moved forward, launching an attack on the village. The Imperial Horse charged into battle. Bloodshed and mayhem ensued. Soon the raiders had taken grievous casualties, although the Imperials had lost some men as well.
The bloody battle for the village.
I used a yellow star burst as a casualty marker.
 At this point, the Redgravian commander realized that his situation was precarious. He tried to withdraw toward the woods but the enemy horse kept him locked in melee ( I made opposing dice rolls to see if the raiders could get away. The horse received a bonus due to their mobility. Unsurprisingly, the raiders failed to escape). With their fatalistic nature, the raiders became determined to sell their lives dearly. Seeing the raiders occupied, the levy decided to act and rushed upon the enemy flank.
The levy rushes the flank.
 The onslaught was too much for the raiders. One by one they fell to the Imperial swords. Yet they died valiantly, taking out the opposing horse before they finally collapsed from their wounds, only to be slaughtered by the levy.

The Aftermath
Dead and wounded horsemen and raiders littered the grounds of the village while the levy stood triumphant (even though they spent most of the fight hiding behind the Imperial horse). Word spread throughout the region of the valiant defense by Count Deleas's troops. The victory also bought a season of peace in the province.
The aftermath.
Only the levy remain
Campaign Notes
Inspired by Dux Brit and Kaptain Kobold's Dux Bellorum (located on this page - not to be confused with the published rules of the same name), I also jotted down some simple campaign rules. Each campaign turn represents a season; raids can occur randomly in the Spring through Autumn seasons. After 3 successful raids there will be a full-scale Redgravian invasion. The campaign shall last 5 years. Will the province last that long?

So far, Deleas's troops have defeated a raid in spring. Summer was quiet (note that a defeated raid makes a new raid less likely in the following turn while a successful raid makes another more likely) but in the autumn word has gone out that more Redgravians have been spotted.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Star Cup

I have completed the Star Cup - the championship series for the Star League. In Star Cup I, the Galactic Division winner Canopans met the  Stellar Division winner Geminids in a best of 3 series.

Game 1 - Geminids at Canopans
Having the best record in the league gave the Canopans home court advantage for the Star Cup. Alas, home court was no guarantee of an easy victory. Midway through the first half, the Geminids managed a breakaway. They shot and scored for a 1-0 lead. The Canopans fought their way back late in the half with their own successful breakaway. Score 1-1 at half.

The Geminds struck again midway in the 2nd half. 2-1 for the visitors. The Canopans wasted no time, however, with a shot that slammed into the net to knot the score. It looked like the game was headed for overtime when the Canopans seized the ball, moved upfield, and shot. BLOCKED! The ball rebounded back into the court. There was a mad scuffle for the ball. A Canopan picked it up and shot again. SCORE! With seconds left in the game, the Canopans squeezed out a hard-fought, 3-2 comeback victory.

Game 2 - Canopans at Geminds
Playing at home, the Geminids hoped to even up the series, and those hopes seemed justified in the early going. After a series of deft passes, the Geminids spotted an opening and slammed home the ball. Then the floodgates opened. The Canopans picked up the rebound after an unsuccessful shot and scored. Then their offense took over and scored twice more in rapid succession. At halftime, the Canopans held a 3-1 lead.

Nevertheless, the Geminids refused to buckle. Their offense got back on track in the 2nd half, scoring twice in the early minutes to tie the score at 3-3. After this, both defenses tightened the screws and neither side could make a run until the waning moments of the game. Then a Canopan grabbed the ball, rushed upfield. A quick pass found an open player. He shot. SCORE. Once again, the Canopans used a late goal to win, this time by a 4-3 score.

With this victory, the Canopans secured the first ever Star Cup. Stay tuned for season 2!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Game Night Update

For the second week in a row, we pulled out Ticket to Ride for game night.

As usual, Thomasina took in the action from her favorite vantage point.

Last week, my wife Elizabeth coasted to an easy win on the Nordic countries map. This week, we played the Germany map and I was hoping for a better result. At the end of the game, I (white routes) had what seemed like a comfortable 18 point lead over my nearest rival Elizabeth (purple)

Then it came time to count the bonus points for completed routes. She completed the most (6 routes vs. my 5) to gain 10 bonus points. She also amassed a whopping 61 points for her routes to soar to the lead. I only managed 44 points. With a net difference on 27 points, she wiped out my lead and pulled ahead for an impressive victory.

Some More Francesian History

When I last discussed the affairs of the Redgrave war (which took place about a generation before the Grayrock Revolution), Southcoast had fallen to the Redgrave invaders despite an attempt at an amphibian reinforcement. An Imperial counterattack reclaimed the city.

At this point, Duke Johann of Drakendorf unfurled the banner of rebellion against his sovereign. Taking advantage of the Emperor's distraction, Johann marched on the Imperial captial of Silverfern with assistance from Bluderia,

Battle of Greenville
With some of his chief supporters, the Emperor Lester rode madly back to the capital and established defenses in the village of Greenville just outside the capital. Although the Bluderian forces successfully seized the right flank of the Imperial earthworks, Johann’s forces were devastated in their attacks on the left. Facing apparent disaster, Johann fled. Without their ally, the Bluderian troops relinquished their gains. A bloody and narrow victory for Lester.

  • Lester – 23,000; 7,000 casualties
  • Johann – 34,000; 8,500 casualties

Battle of Silverfern
At this point, Bluderia dropped all pretense and invaded the Empire supported by its client states of Greenglade and Grayrock with assistance from Duke Johann. Bluderian forces stormed the walls of Silverfern but were cut down in droves. Nevertheless, the defenders also suffered heavy losses. Finally, the Landwehr routed. Imperial artillery continued to hold out, but Drakendorf troops reached the Citadel and tore down the Katzplatter standard. Prince Lester fled for his life from the fallen city.
  • Lester – 24,000; 8,000 casualties
  • Edmond and Johann – 45,000; 14,000 casualties
The End of the War
With Silverfern controlled by his militia, Johann engineered a coup. He had the Archbishop declare him Emperor. He called upon the kings of Bluderia and Redgrave to negotiate a truce. Neither one wanted the other in control of the Empire, and their armies had been battered by the war, so they reluctantly agreed to let Johann take the throne. Thus began the reign of the Drakendorf family. Unfortunately, some of the wealthiest provinces of the empire had fallen into the hands of its powerful neighbors. Meanwhile, Netherbottom remained loyal to Lester. The Admiral helped the deposed emperor to flee to the Lands beyond the Inner Sea where Lester plots his return.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Star League - Week 10

Final Standings:

The Geminids were victorious in their final game of the season, clinching the championship of the Stellar Division and earning a berth in the Star Cup.

Week 10 Games:

Scores listed above. There was no real standout game this week as all victories were by comfortable margins. In the Stellar Division, the Fomalians handily won their game, which meant that the Geminids needed a win to clinch the division.

Geminids vs. Hydrans - The Geminids started slowly in their contest against the Hydrans, but they scored in the waning moments of the first half to take the lead. They also scored at the start of the second half, but the Hydrans got a goal a few minutes later to keep the game close. Then the Geminids took control, scoring twice more to close out the game and the division title.

Next Up
The Star Cup! The division winners will meet in a best of 3 series to determine the Star League champion. After losing their first game, the Canopans reeled off 9 straight victories to win the Galactic Division handily. The Geminds started the season with a 2-2 record (with losses to the Canopans and the Fomalians) but had their own winning streak (6 games) to surpass their division rivals with a crucial win in week 9.

Week 10 was played using my revamped game tables. I'm still using opposed dice rolls (a la DBA) but i revised the table to create more gradations of results. The change increased scoring just a tad. I didn't see it fully realized but I'm hoping that the new tables will give more chances to the weaker teams. If you look at the final stats for the league, you'll see a striking disparity between the top-scoring teams (with 30 goals being best) and lowest scoring teams (only 2 goals in 10 games!). I also plan to tweak the ratings a bit next season to even out results a bit.