Wednesday, March 18, 2009

North Texas Wargamers at Frisco Library - 3/14/2009

On Saturday, March 14th, twelve of us showed up at the Frisco Public Library for a meeting of the North Texas Wargamers. The Vivian Stark McCallum meeting room was the place to be from 10 AM to 3 PM for some boardgaming goodness.

The meeting room is quite nice with plenty of space and enough tables and chairs to hold a dozen more gamers comfortably. After a half hour of catching up, since we haven't had a meeting in a while, we divided up into four separate games:

1. Successors (GMT Games edition) - John Boone, Mervyn Dejecacion, Nevin Ball, Steven Sheasby
2. Storm Over Stalingrad (Multiman Publishing) - Al Hay, Greg Blanchett
3. The Napoleonic Wars (GMT Games) - Joseph Acker, David Harrod, Ken Mikolaj
4. Twilight Struggle (GMT Games) - Sean Harris, Steve Gallob

With the exception of Successors, the other games finished early allowing another round of games which included:
1. 1960: The Making of the President (Z-Man Games) - Joseph Acker, Ken Mikolaj
2. Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! - Russia 1941-1942 (Phalanx/Academy Games) - David Harrod, David MacAlpine
3. Manoeuvre (GMT Games) - Sean Harris, Steve Gallob

As you can see games by GMT Games were in the majority which is expected given the group's interest in historical board wargaming and the proliferation of games put out by GMT Games since their founding in 1990.

Sometime during the gaming festivities, John Kranz, founder of the ConsimWorld website, showed up to meet the guys. John relocated to the Dallas area from Arizona where he has hosted the annual ConsimWorld Expo for board wargamers in Tempe, AZ.; this was his first time to show up at one of our gatherings and hopefully not the last. Below are some after action reports (AARs) on some of the games played.

1. Twilight Struggle - A card driven game (CDG) simulation of the 40 year Cold War between the two Super Powers, the United States and the former USSR. I did a more exhaustive write up of the mechanics of game play in an earlier post here for those interested.

From Sean Harris' point of view:
"[The] U.S. was behind throughout most of the game. Every major area was very chaotic but the Russian got some key [victory points] in the Early war and Mid war. The U.S. did not make any headway in the Middle East until it did not matter. The U.S. got hit with Quagmire [an Event Card] and that made Russia's progress in Central America fairly easy. The late war began and Russia won on turn 8."

2. 1960: the Making of the President - Yes, a boardgame about the 1960 Presidential Election between Richard Nixon and John Kennedy. Why play a game on a subject when you already know the outcome? So you can see if you can do better of course! This game is from one of the designers who designed Twilight Struggle, Jason Matthews.

Joseph Acker's perspective:
"[The game] went the full distance. Nixon took the lead in the early rounds, pursuing a strategy of ignoring the East and focusing on the South and the Midwest. Kennedy was fortunate to win two of the three debate rounds and was then able to dominate the last two rounds, especially the last round with a final whistle stop campaign. The final result was fairly close but a definite win for Kennedy."

3. The Napoleonic Wars - Another card driven wargame - this time in the Napoleonic era when all of Europe tried to stop the steam roller of France under its greatest general Napoleon Bonaparte.

Joseph Acker's perspective:
"Nappy lasted one turn. France had the Capitulation card, so he gambled and made too strong [a move] on Vienna which was defended by a combined Austro-Russian grand army. Kutuzov routed Napoleon in both attacks, and Russia gained a resource each time. England and France both conceded the game [Russian victory?] at the end of the turn since France was badly weakened and had no hope of gaining an ally since it was a three player game."

4. Storm Over Stalingrad - World War II epic battle for Stalingrad. Not a card driven wargame but uses the same Area-Impulse system made popular in the games Breakout Normandy, Storm Over Arnhem, and Monty's Gamble Market Garden.

Greg Blanchett's perspective
"It was Al's first time playing so we did a standard bid of three [victory points?] and let him play the Soviets. I had hot dice on the first turn but things turned sour. Cards were not shuffled enough and I didn't take Mamayev Kurgan [an important objective] as I should have. He had four VP areas left and I was closing to take take two more on the last turn... If I had drawn an Overrun card it would have been possible. Al played a good game, exploiting the system to its gamey reaches..."

5. Successors - My favorite multi-player card driven wargame, recently redone by GMT Games. I have both the new edition and the original Avalon Hill Game Company edition. This is a multi-player game covering the wars of Alexander the Great's Successors after he died unexpectedly in Babylon leaving no direction and no apparent heir. My past entries about Successors are here. A random distribution of generals resulted in the following assignments:

Mervyn - Antipater(2L,2R,Macedonia - Pella); Lysimachus(2L,2M,Thrace)
Nevin - Antigonus(2L, 2M, Phrygia - Celaenae); Leonnatus(2L,2M, Hellspontine)
John - Craterus(2L, 2R, Cilicia); Peithon(2L, 2M, Media - Ecbatana)
Steven - Perdiccus(4R,2E, Babylonia - Babylon); Ptolemy(2L,2M, Egypt - Memphis)

Note: Numbers are the number of combat units (CU), L = Loyal Macedonians, M = Mercenary troops, R = Royal Macedonians, E = Elephant troops. Names in parenthesis are starting Province - starting location.

My perspective:
Turn 1- The usual first turn card play to place Political Control (PC) markers to expand everyone's holdings and no battles except Mervyn's run in with the Independent Army in Greece. I grab one of Alexander's heirs, Heracles, in Damascus.

Turn 2 - Steven buries Alexander in Babylon instead of trying to run the gauntlet to Pella. This effectively makes this a "crown the Regent" or "try to get the most territory, i.e. victory points, game". Mervyn spends most of the early turn capturing Greece and goes in to the lead in victory points (VPs). Mervyn also cashes in VPs for most fleets with control of the Macedonian and Athens fleets. Nevin raises a force in Persis province and builds a Loyal Macedonian there trying to be a pain in my backside threatening possible move against me in Media or against Steven in Susiana and eventually Babylonia. Mervyn then grabs Olympias from under Nevin's nose and marries her to one of his Generals strengthening his legitimacy bid as the rightful heir of Alexander's empire. Nevin is greatly disturbed Mervyn is messing around in his provinces. Nevin, in the later half of the turn, combines units from both of his Generals and defeats both of Mervyn's Generals piecemeal sending them to the Dispersed box. Now Macedonia lays completely open to Nevin. Nevin marches victoriously in to Pella but doesn't have time to take it by turn end. Steve is content not moving his Generals most of the turn but instead sends a small force to try to take the West African province of Cyrene. I gain control of the Phoenician and Cypriot fleets trying not to fall too far behind Mervyn's naval supremacy in the Med. Peithon hangs out in his own province of Media for most of the turn eyeing Nevin's force south in Persis but then heads west to Mesopotamia to attempt to break the PC marker stalemate there. Craterus ends up in Cyprus, gaining the Cypriot fleet, then goes to Rhodes thinking either to attempt to get the fleet in Rhodes or move against Nevin or Steven. When I'm in Rhodes, Ptolemy(Steve) starts invading Phonecia for easy pickings and I eventually lose the Phoenician fleet. Perdiccus(Steven) defeats Peithon(me) in Mesopotamia (Arbela), kills Peithon and sends my 3 Loyals to dispersed box; this is when I definitely decide to go against Steven and march to Egypt. In this battle, since I had more Legitimacy than Steven his 4 Royal Macedonian CUs (8 combat strength) would sit out the battle; this would give me an advantage in combat strength provided Steven rolled average for his Elephants. Steven rolls a twelve giving him 8 combat strength of elephants and I end up losing the battle. Moving into Rhodes in the first place was part of the possible circle back and head to Egypt plan but since Nevin had so thoroughly spanked Mervyn in Thrace I was having second thoughts about our alliance. Once Steven hit me in Mesopotamia and Cyprus I decided to continue with my first choice and go after Steven - 6 VPs in an undefended Egypt is just to good to pass up. At the end of the turn, I'm still low man on the totem pole for VPs so make Steven go first again. I believe Nevin is now the Usurper.

Turn 3 - Ptolemy (Steven) starts moving back toward Egypt. Mervyn spanks Nevin's big force in Pella (Antigonus) sending it to dispersed box and Nevin captures the rest of Hellespontine for 2 more VPs. I successfully seige Egypt's capital, Memphis, denying Steven the 6 VPs for Egypt. We have to call the game after first round of cards of turn 3 as our time for the room is up.

The game is pretty close at this point, Nevin leads in VPs but he and Steve are low in legitimacy, after giving up their Champion status, and are now Successors. Mervyn and I keep our Champion status since we are such nice guys! Since I had higher legitimacy than Steven I think I could have defeated Ptolemy this turn (he's not going to roll double sixes for elephants again is he?). With my combine legit and VPs I think I would have had a chance for a Regent victory at the start of turn 4. I definitely want to play this one again.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Game Day at Mark Woodson's House, Saturday Feb 28, 2009

News spreads quickly throughout the Empire that the Emperor has died. The circumstances are still unclear but he was involved in an "accident" leaving a power vacuum in the Empire. Now the nobles of the various houses have begun their struggle to position themselves to become the Galactic Emperor.

From 2009_02_28 - Galactic Emperor

Of all the noble houses, only four have a real chance to gain the throne, House Woodson, House Dejecacion, House Bausman, and House Boone. All factions have established their power bases on Omega Sector systems to use as jumping off points for further exploration and expansion into the newly discovered Omega Sector.

It's Hard to Conquer the Galaxy on $5 a Day!
From 2009_02_28 - Galactic Emperor

Another game of Galactic Emperor at Mark Woodson's house. We had played before at Mark Bausman's  place back in November of 2008. This was my second time playing and the game ended up pretty close in the final scoring. Mark Bausman pulled out the win, his first he remarked, with 51 points followed by Mervyn and I tied at 49 points, and Mark Woodson in 4th place with 47 points. Mark B was able to score 13 points in the final scoring round for a come from behind win.

From 2009_02_28 - Galactic Emperor

After Galactic Emperor ended, we played a quick 4-player team game of Neuroshima Hex!, Humans (Outpost and Hegemony) vs. Mutants (Moloch and Borgo). Mervyn (Moloch) and I (Borgo) ganged up on Mark B's Hegemony HQ and destroyed it for the team win. Mark Woodson's Outpost HQ was undamaged at game end. At one point, Mervyn and I were scoring a combined 7 hits on Mark's HQ every battle. At that rate, it didn't take long to knock it down to 0 damage points!