Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Games a gogo!

The vicissitudes of everyday life have taken their toll on my blogging- key amongst which has been my labours to get my painting table up and running again after my long layoff; and a future onslaught is already on the horizon. Meanwhile, here is a quick roundup of last weekend's gaming.

Combat Commander
Badger was due round for another dose of Combat Commander last Friday. He was expecting us to continue our Stalingrad campaign. What he didn't know was that Mark and Robert were due to visit again. Hoping therefore that he might get chance to taste revenge after the pastings he'd suffered at Mark's hands last mayday, I suggested to Badger that we play an official scenario, something we could set up and play more quickly than the campaign with its decision tree and record keeping.

CC:P Scenario #B: Ambush at Mogaung
Learning that I had trimmed the corners of all my CC:P counters in readiness for CC@UK Expo'09 (what did he expect, hmm?), Badger decided that he wanted to try out another PTO scenario. Continuing from where we'd left off, as you do, we found ourselves in Burma (linkage to a nifty BBC animated map showing the course of the whole campaign) in June 1944.

The operational area; & its place (inset) in the '44-45 Burma campaign
The scenario represents an impromptu ambush by weary Chindits on a similarly ragtag Japanese column; and features an unusual variation on preplotted setup, in which the Commonwealth player has a range of predesignated setup hexes, plus some whose location can be chosen. The kicker is that these last must be chosen before the Japanese player sets up. The overall effect is similar to that of Scenario #20, A March in December.

Random selection gave me the Japanese. My dispositions gave me a plan with 3 elements:
  • A weak northern force (NB. north isn't conventional on the scenario map) which I was essentially willing to sacrifice.
  • A strong central force, featuring my best leader, and squads positioned to come to his aid as quickly as possible.
  • A middling southern force, which would break for the board edge and exit VP when circumstances permitted.
Long story short: Badger was slaughtered, eventually conceding when I was on 32VP and he was just 2 casualties from surrender. This despite an early setback to the Japanese plans when Badger turned up a double 6 to gain a mutual KIA in a melee I'd overstacked; how spammy is that!

As the dust settled, Badger was blaming the Commonwealth deck, which he'd not shuffled properly. True as this might be, I have to suggest that leaving the 3VP exit point wide open and so gifting me 20VP might just've been relevant? This was just one way in which I think Badger was humped because he simply didn't play towards the victory conditions and their special rules.

Green troops? 0
Wily old wardog? 1

Battlestar Galactica
I noted last month that FFG have scheduled a Battlestar Galactica expansion for an autumn release. This news has given me extra motivation to get in more plays of the basic game before the changes that'll be wrought by the expansion. Neither Andy, Donald nor Gav demurred, so Sunday saw us play our 5th game of this fine adaption of a truly magnificent TV show.

I'd decided I wanted to play a fighter jock this time, a decision I stuck with even after Gav drew Starbuck. Thus it was that Starbuck was joined by Boomer (me, natch), Saul Tigh (Andy) and Laura Roslin (Donald), all attempting anew to save humanity from the twin menaces of itself, and the Cylons.

The humans won, in a game which showed some of the strengths and the weaknesses of the design.

The strength was seen in the atmosphere of paranoia, for which I was largely responsible. A crisis resolution skill check had revealed the presence of a Cylon before the Sleeper Agent Phase. Events led me to believe that it was Gav, so I campaigned to have him put in the brig. Andy, the Admiral and the actual Cylon was only too happy to oblige. Soon enough, Roslin followed Starbuck into incarceration (and a Cell Block H spinoff?). It was only when I got a chance to look at Andy's Loyalty card that I learned he was our enemy within.

The weaknesses demonstrated in Sunday's game can be summed up in a simple phrase: it was the dullest game of BSG we'd yet played. The reason for this was that so little happened, which was largely down to the synergy between 2 abilities enjoyed by Boomer and Laura Roslin. These gave us a degree of control over the flow of the Crisis cards sufficient to ensure that Cylon attacks were few and far between. This wasn't helped by there being so many characters in the brig, because there is no crisis phase in a player's turn when their character is in the brig.

Even so, the game was quite close in the end. The shift in fortune needed to turn our victory into defeat wasn't at all great. That, and some tighter play on Andy's part could've made all the difference.

Long-suffering humanity 1
Complacent Cylons 0

Settlers of Catan
With enough time on our hands for another game before heading off to dine at Nanakusa, one of Glasgow's newer Japanese restaurants, we rapidly settled on this hardy perennial (my hankering for another game of Nexus Ops notwithstanding). The game was the same tense confrontation it always is.

I had a resource base which enjoyed a good range of resources, but a poor spread of numbers: each of my 2 initial settlements' regions were on the same 3 numbers. I suffered from this exactly as I expected. On top of that, I repeated my recently all too common mistake of not getting my first city up until it was far, far too late. Andy got himself trapped with minimal space for expansion, but he was still able to put up a better show than did I (which just goes to underline the importance of that 1st city). The final score was:
  • Andy: 8
  • Donald: 8
  • Gav: 10
  • Me: 7
Recent games are marking out Gav as the man to beat at Settlers. He just seems to have a knack for resource management.

All too human 2
Not quite human enough 1 each
Identification pending 0


Todd Reed said...

I really like the mos you include in your write-ups. So you normally post these at BGG? I think a lot of people would enjoy these over there as well.

"A bit political on yer ass!" said...

I'm guessing "mos" means 'maps' Todd? Although they are quite fun to do the maps can take quite a lot of work, so your kind words are appreciated. And I don't post my write ups over at the BGG:
1. I'd prefer people to come and read my articles here, natch.
2. I don't want to make a habit of starting threads which are just links to articles here; I keep that for special occasions.

I guess this costs me some readers, but I think it's the wisest course in the end.

Thanks again for your comments: positive reader feedback is always encouraging. ;)

Todd Reed said...

Yes, that was meant to be "maps". "Mos" is what we call them in the Midwest of the US ; )

Would you mind if I linked to your posts occasionally?

"A bit political on yer ass!" said...

Please do link away Todd. Are you talking about linking at the BGG? (I can't see my posts fitting in on your own blog.) ;)

Todd Reed said...

Yes, at BGG. I suppose the topics discussed here are a tad unrelated to marketing systems for small business!