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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Keep on truckin'!

Regular readers will know the cause of another such long hiatus in my posting to RDKA!. A lag in keeping up with my meds helped precipitate this last downturn; which fact has made me chuckle recently when I've come across media comment from voices in the 'mental illnesses don't really exist and medication has no proven benefit' line of critique of this branch of healthcare services. This opinion is- I can assure you- simple nonsense!

And meanwhile, my carpal tunnels were playing up something rotten.

Gaming got while not posting included 2 further sessions of the adventures of Klaus Nguyen and his crew aboard the Firefly class ship Paretsky. Forced into the captaincy by the potentially fatal treachery of his co-owner- and now ex-partner, Klaus and his skeleton crew find that things have got hot after their recent escapades.

Those 2 roleplaying sessions aside, board-gaming thrills have not been thin on the ground. Recent highlights have included the latest serious session with the ever-inimitable Badger; a landmark victory against 'Uncle' Martin (heh!); and a most entertaining session of Magic: The Gathering in the company of my old pal Bill and his family.

Badger has already commented on our most recent games on his own myspace blog. It was interesting to read an opponent's comments on our games before putting up my own remarks.

So, what would I add to Badger's comments about our games?

Well our first 2 games were 'Ticinus River- 218BC' as already covered in my last post. My playings of this scenario have convinced me that it hinges on 2 tactics
  • for the Carthaginians: getting the heavy cavalry moving early
  • for the Romans: anchoring their line against Ticinus River.
The basic merits of getting the Carthaginian heavy cavalry moving early have already been covered in my comments about the games Gav and I played. Subsequent experience has taught me that it matters not where your heavies are going to attack (ie. I haven't been able to repeat my first, brilliant, flank manoeuvre!), what is most important is getting them moving so that their assault on the Roman lines can properly be coordinated with those of the Carthaginian Numidian lights. I was able to pull this off with no problems in the first game Badger and I played.

For the Romans anchoring their right flank on the Ticinus River all I can say is that is prevents you from facing the threat of light cavalry rampaging around 2 open flanks. Sure, this tactic does leave you facing all that Carthaginian cavalry attacking your centre or your left, but you're going to face an onslaught of this sort one way or another, so this tactic enables you to impose your own measure of control on where this attack will occur- ie. it gains you a measure of initiative. My 2/3 record defending in this scenario (I beat Martin as well as Badger) means that I as yet have no reason to question the validity of this essential tactic.

I introduced old 'Uncle' Martin and Tony to C&C:A as well as revisiting the game with Badger. The specific details of the games played are by now quite vague... well not quite: my Romans won 'Ticinus River' against Martin's Carthaginians with a magnificent counter-attack from my Medium Cavalry which managed to despatch 11(!?) of the Carthaginians' heavies' 12 blocks in a single round of close combat. His game-winning attack thus more than merely blunted, it was downhill all the way thereafter for 'Uncle' Martin's Carthaginians at the Ticinus River.

Anyway, that particular personal gloat aside (and no, it wasn't the "landmark victory" to which I earlier referred: what gamer would want to claim such a victory during an introductory session after all?), what was most striking about playing C&C:A against Martin and Tony was how they both took to the game. I mean, I really love M44- my initial encounter with the C&C system; but I cannot ignore the evidence of my experience- which is that C&C:A seems to have a greater immediate appeal than its superficially more accessible 'sister', M44.

Roborally, Settlers of Catan, Ivanhoe, and HeroClix are among the other games I've enjoyed in recent weeks. Most of these are staples I've enjoyed regularly for years. HeroClix, on the other hand, is a game I've not played in some time.

Now I really, really dislike the collectible format. My miniatures-gaming based army-building experience means that I deeply resent being unable to buy the force elements I wish, being forced instead to buy random packs in the hope of picking up those elements I most want (you'll note that I don't even consider as an option paying premium collectors' prices). More than merely disliking the basic marketing format, I deeply despise the artificial scarcity built-in to the collectible format.

These caveats about the collectible format as a marketing device aside, I have found that the games themselves can be really rather good. The fun I had playing M:tG only the other day is a case in point. But I have to say that Wizkids' HeroClix remains by far my favourite game to emerge from this hell-spawned maw. It was great finally to introduce Tony to this finely honed game of tactical comicbook combat. It was better even utterly to crush his puny X-Men with my Avengers. I hope to be reporting on more games of HeroClix soon!
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