Sunday, October 15, 2017

Battle of Wannagama

North of Pensacola in the Spanish territory of Florida, 1818

General Andrew Jackson is besieging Pensacola. American reinforcements are hurrying south to join up with Jackson, but a Spanish detachment awaits them at the native village of Wannagama.

Game Notes
This morning I decided to play around with my copy of Manoeuvre. This time, I eschewed the command cards and simply used the boards and counters. Today's battle features 2 armies I haven't used yet - the Spanish and Americans. I decided the set the scenario in my home state of Florida, during a fictionalized version of the First Seminole War. In the real war, the Spanish protested American incursions but offered no resistance. But what if they fought the Americans?

For rules, I used Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame, specifically the late 19th century rules. I made a few tweaks, such as reducing musket range to 2 squares and adding an activation roll (using the Song of Blades and Heroes method). Furthermore, I did not use the Exhaustion rule.

I decided to use a scenario from One Hour Wargames (#9 - Double Delaying Action). In this scenario, the defenders (the Spanish) need to send 3 units as reinforcements off the board. However, they must also prevent the invaders from achieving their objectives (seize the village in the middle of the board and exit 2 units). The original scenario includes a river that must be crossed; my tiles don't have any rivers so I just used ones with lots of terrain instead. The armies are drawn randomly from the 8 counters in Manoeuvre. I designated units with a starting strength of 7-8 as elite (there are none on the American side), 6 as average, and 5 as poor.

The Battle
The American left (ironically the poor quality units) are the first to advance.

The Spanish cavalry drives back the American 3rd Infantry.

But they are cut down.

The American volunteer cavalry circles around to the road to Pensacola

In heavy fighting during the glaring Florida sun (I did not realize how bad the glare from my kitchen lights was) the Walloon Guards destroy the American 3rd.

The Spanish reinforcements head toward Pensacola.

Leaving 3 units to defend. One holds the native village of Wannagama, another blocks the road to Pensacola, while the Walloon Guards try to stymie the American advance.

  As dusk approaches (i.e. I turned off the lights), the Americans take Wannagama! They just need to send one unit down the road.

The American 10th Infantry belatedly moves up in support.

The Americans break through the road, but they lose Wannagama!

Their efforts to retake the village fail!

By holding onto Wannagama, the Spanish barely emerge victorious.

Notes

  • It has been a while since I played a OHW scenario. Two years ago, I began a project to play all 30 scenarios. I now have just one remaining! Here is my complete list.
  • I never formally tried Portable Wargames before; I must say that it worked well. Combined with the scenario, it was an entertaining and exciting battle! I plan some more experiments with PW.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A New Game

What do you do when the game you want to play is at the bottom of a stack of game?


BOARD GAME JENGA!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

A Manoeuvre Experiment

My cat Buster was a little under the weather yesterday so I skipped LARPing to watch over him. As he was napping, I pulled out my copy of Maoeuvre to experiment with different rules.

I decided to try out a couple of different armies. This battle featured the Ottomans invading the Austrians. I reduced the army size to 6 (a la One Hour Wargames). The randomly selected map tiles had 2 villages so I decided that the Austrians were trying to defend the villages against a Turkish incursion.

I made 2 major changes to speed play:

  • I used the cards for activation, allowing each side to activate as many units as possible. To activate required a unit card. Leader cards could activate as many adjacent units as their Command rating. The special HQ cards (e.g. Regroup) would have effects as close to their original intention as possible, although I tweaked the rules a bit here and there.
  • An attack required a roll on 2D6 >= the target's unit rating + terrain mods. Hit units retreated and would also lose strength if a D10 roll >= the target's rating.

I did not keep strict tabs but I probably played about a dozen turns.

At this point of the game, the Turkish irregular cavalry harried the 6th Grenzers off the battlefield.

Later, the Janissaries seized one of the villages.

The other village held out.

Given that one village fell and the Austrians suffered the most casualties, I grant the Turks a narrow victory.

I still need to work on the rules. Using cards for activation worked fine. The combat rules seemed a bit weak; there weren't enough strength reductions so combat seemed indecisive. I want to make it more deadly so that the game is more fast-paced.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

My Thoughts on Manoeuvre

I gave GMT's Manoeuvre a trial run today and wanted to share my thoughts.


This is not a full-blown review but I hope you'll understand the game better from my babbling. Throughout my discussion, I will illustrate certain aspects of the game with some (poorly done) photographs.

Here is the initial set-up of a game.

Set up is a breeze. Pick 4 map tiles, give each army its command deck, draw 5 cards, and deploy the 8 units for each side.

  • I really like the map tiles; they make setting up the battlefield a breeze.
  • The tiles did slide around a little bit. I'm not sure how to prevent that.
  • I also like the low counter density (only 1 counter per unit so a total of 16 on the board to start). This is a boon to a solo player.

Once the battlefield is set up, play begins. The sequence of play is as follows:

  • Discard any or all cards from your hand
  • Draw back up to 5 cards
  • Move 1 unit
    • You may be able to move more if you have applicable command cards
    • Infantry moves 1 square and cavalry moves 2
  • Make 1 attack
    • Combat can only be initiated if you have an applicable unit card or ambush card
    • There are 4 types of attacks - ambush, assault, bombardment, or volley. Adjudication is similar, albeit with variations depending on type.
    • If you have a leader card, you can have additional units support your lone attack.
  • Restore 1 unit to full strength (requires a command card)

As noted above, combat requires playing a card. The card will list the number of dice to roll. Sum your dice roll and add modifiers (such as the unit combat value, leader cards, or terrain effects). Compare your value to the target's defense (including mods). Combat resolution is similar to De Bellis Antiquitatis in that you calculate the ratio. The greater the ratio the more deadly the combat result is.

My first combat - the King's Dragoons bombard the French Guard Cavalry.


I rolled a 4 on a D10. This was less than the target's combat value of 8 so it had no effect.
  • One interesting facet of the game is that there are no artillery units. Instead, units have bombard cards that they can use to attack at a distance. I guess the Dragoon's had some horse artillery along with them.
Here is an assault in action.


I used the Guard Cavalry card to initiate the attack; the card allowed the French to roll 2D8 in combat. I also played a Marshal Ney leader card which provides an extra 4. I rolled an 8, + 8 for the Guard Cavalry's combat value + 4 for Ney for a total of 20. The British Dragoon's had a combat value of 8 with no modifiers. Ration is 2:1 which results in a retreat or reduction of strength.

First blood! This bombard causes a hit to a weakened unit, destroying it. Each unit can take 2 hits. On the first hit, flip the counter. The unit's combat value will be lessened.

La Garde recule! In this assault, the Light Dragoons score 15 versus a weakened Guard's combat value of 5. The 3:1 ratio is enough to ensure the Guard's destruction!

Normally, a game lasts until one side loses 5 units or until both sides go completely through their command deck once (this is the "night falls" rule). In the latter case, the victor is the army that controls the most territory on the opponent's side of the battlefield.

I decided to call it quits about halfway through (the French had lost 2 units and both had used about half of their deck). I had been playing about 45 minutes, which seems reasonable for a first run-through. Although I hadn't fully explored all options provided by the game, I felt I had a good grasp of the essential sequence.
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Here is the position when I ended the game. The British had destroyed more of the enemy and had advanced into the French side of the battlefield. Advantage England.

So what do I think? Overall it strikes me as a good game.

  • There are plenty of decisions to keep the players thinking. Do I discard or draw cards? Which unit should I move? Where do I move (how can I make best use of terrain)? What attack should I make? With proper card hand management, I can see players being able to coordinate a series of attacks over multiple turns. Having plenty of decisions makes for an interesting game.
  • I was pleasantly surprised by the use of cards in the game. Your options are limited, but not too severely. You can always move any one unit so your army won't be stuck in place. However, you have to manage your hand to plan your attacks.
  • In a 2-player game, the cards will provide fog-of-war. Your opponent won't know if you have the cards to launch an attack on his position.
I don't think I will playing this game much (at least as written).

  • I primarily solo game. For solo gaming, the pace is too slow for my taste. The 1-move + 1-attack sequence makes for a deliberate pace that will work well in a 2-player, chess-like, tactical duel. When I solo game, however, I want fast-paced action that will allow me to generate interesting stories in a short amount of time.
  • Some of the other mechanics (attacks limited to cards in your hand, calculating ratios to determine combat results) also slow the pace. Again, that should be fine for 2-player contests but it doesn't meet my needs.
  • I also prefer variable objectives (a la One Hour Wargame scenarios). Manoeuvre essentially only has one scenario (a meeting engagement where you try to defeat the enemy army or take territory away). Again, this is fine for a 2-player duel, but it limits the potential stories for my solo gaming.
Nevertheless, it was not wasted money.
  • I like the components (especially the map tiles and unit counters) and foresee me using them, albeit with different rules.
  • I liked the cards and would like to incorporate them somehow (especially since the different armies reportedly have a different card mix that reflects their respective strengths).
So now it is just a matter of deciding what rules I want to use.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Unboxing GMT's Manoeuvre

As I previously mentioned, I recently purchased Manoeuvre from GMT Games. Manoeuvre is a light wargame with a Napoleonics theme.

It comes in a nice, sturdy box (similar to Command & Colors: Ancients)

Here is the interior after I removed the counter sheet, rules, and quick reference guide.

One of the reasons I purchased this game was because I figured that the components would be very useful. For example, it includes 24 map tiles with a variety of terrain features printed on them.

Online there was a lot of criticism of the tiles; people complained that they were too flimsy and tended to warp. My tiles seemed thick enough. There was a little warping but not too bad. I think the tile issues may have been with the first edition, and got corrected in the second.

And here are the counters.

Here is a close-up of the British army. Each army consists of 8 units, represented by 1 counter, each 1 inch square.

 Another feature of Manoeuvre are the cards used for commanding your armies. Each army has its own specialized deck.

Some cards represent the army's units.

There are also tactics cards and leader cards (right).

I was a little reticent to order the game because of the cards. I'm not sure if the cards will work well solo. However, I liked the components and decided the get it because of that. Even if I don't use the actually rules / cards I think the map tiles and counters will be useful. After all, I got 8 armies in the box!

I will be trying the game soon and will review it.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

September Update

Six by Six
My motivation for the 6 by 6 Challenge has practically evaporated, but I managed to shake some of my lethargy to complete 1 game. As it happens, it was the sixth session of Kaptain Kobold's Spandau and Lewis. I have now managed to complete 3 of the 6 games.

Complete listing here.

Board Games
I have grown a bit weary of cobbling together games from a variety of components and rules. Playing One Deck Dungeon has reminded me of the value of commercial games where everything is all in one box. I am now on a bit of a board game kick. Since then I ordered a digital version of Tank on Tank Westfront; even though World War II is not a major interest of mine, I enjoy it thoroughly. Recently, I asked for recommendations for additional quick-playing board games. Manoeuvre by GMT Games intrigued me so I ordered a copy. We'll see how it goes.

Blogging
Traditionally, my blogging rebounds in September after an August swoon. Interestingly, the same has happened this year - going from 2 to 6 posts.

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.