I got two good solo plays in, The Expanse Board Game and Pacific Fury. I really need to get more wargaming going. With the coming of winter (hard to tell with unseasonable upper 70’s outside) I hopefully will get more tabletop time to do so.
Looking forward to November, my niece will be visiting. Last time she was here she became obsessed with Ticket to Ride. This time the RockyMountainNavy Boys want to get Scytheto the table with her. We shall see.
The scenario I set up was the Battle of Bemis Heights, October 7, 1777. I chose this battle partially because it was the first scenario in the rulebook – with lower unit density – and partially because it was (nearly) the anniversary of the battle! I took the Americans while Little RMN took the British. The British start with light artillery supporting a line anchored at one end by heights. The Continental Regulars are forward in a line passing thru/behind trees. There is also a detachment of Light Infantry (Col Morgan) on the left flank. A strong group of American Militia are further back and can be brought forward as reserves.
The battle began with an Opening Cannonade from the British guns. Fortunately, many of the Continental Regulars were just out of range or behind trees and safe. The British pushed out a unit of elite Grenadiers on their own left flank, and in the initial engagement routed an American Militia unit and pushed back the American right flank. Morgan’s light infantry on the American left pushed out independently and threatened the heights, but the terrain advantage helped the British defenders. The British also used some line volleys as the Americans pushed forward into the tree line.
At this point, Little RMN was feeling quite confident; he was leading 3-2 and had watched the American Militia run away after a single volley. With his elite Grenadiers and terrain advantage he felt that he was on a path to victory.
But fortune was to favor the Americans. The Command Card “Steal the March” allowed the main American line to rapidly advance across the open field and enter Melee Range. Little RMN triumphantly played another “Line Volley” fully expecting to devastate the pesky Americans.
Then the Americans played the Battle Card “The Whites of Their Eyes.” This card lets the Americans fire FIRST in Melee combat. In the exchange of fire, not one British unit was able to stand and Battle Back. Indeed, three units ROUTED and ran off.
The Americans now held the advantage with the score 5-3 after the close fire exchange. Little RMN tried to reorganize his line and pick off ANY American unit. But while he was doing so, Morgan’s light infantry on the right got a clear shot an an unattached Leader – and got the kill. Americans win 6-3.
Little RMN has played plenty of Memoir ’44 and a few games of Command & Colors: Ancients so he was not totally unfamiliar with the game system. The real difference in Tricorne is the morale rules and the potential of routing units. This bit of historical chrome becomes an essential part of the Tricorne experience and makes Tricorne thematically appropriate without a huge rules overhead.
Little RMN wants to play Tricorne again. Worrying to me, this game we had the Middle RMN Boy as an observer. He quietly watched and learned. So quiet was he I fear playing him in the future because I could see the whites of his eyes as he studied the battle and considered what he would do differently.
After several weeks of rules review and study, finally got Scythe (Stonemaier Games, 2016) to the table for Family Game Night. To summarize the night, it was a great hit!
We played a three-player setup. After random draws of Factions and Player mats, Little I was Polania-Patriotic, T was Saxony-Engineering, and I was Khanate-Agricultural. Play started off a bit slow as I was teaching the boys how to play. I was actually getting worried when one hour into the game only one Achievement Star had been placed. Up to this point the boys and myself had been learning more than playing.
I need not have worried; Little I quickly understood the special faction power for Polania (“Meander”) and took advantage of it to the greatest degree possible. T also started understanding the in-and-outs of the engine-building game mechanics and started optimizing his actions. Both T and myself got a fire lit under out collective a$$es when Little I completed an Objective Card at the same time he placed two other Achievement Stars for a clear 4-star to 1-star/0-star advantage. The last 90 minutes of the game (we took about 150 minutes total – longer than advertised but we were -slowly – learning) turned a bit frantic as the action passed around the table rather quickly. A misplay on my part handed the final star to Little I who was able to complete his achievements. Final Score – Little I- 74, T- 38, Dad- 37.
I was a bit worried that Scythe would be too complex and challenging for the RMN Boys to quickly learn. After all, there are four Top-Row Actions, four Botton-Row Actions, and four Mech Abilities as well as a special faction ability for a total of 13 Actions/Abilites that need to be understood to play. And that’s before one could add a Factory Card (two more Actions), and the Structure Bonus (a scoring consideration).
I need not have worried for the outstanding graphical design of the player tableaus made all that easy. It took the first hour for all of us to become comfortable interpreting the symbology on the boards, but once it all (and I mean ALL) clicked then the real game was on. For such a heavy, thinky, complex game it was amazingly easy to teach – and learn – the game mechanics and get over the “learning curve” and start playing (i.e. strategizing) the game.
Little I has especially taken to Scythe. He has always liked puzzles and the multiple combinations of Faction-Player mats intrigues him. The two boys generated enough buzz about the game that even the oldest RMN Boy, a bit of a none-boardgamer (hey, I keep trying) who sat out the night is interested.
Our plan for Family Game Night (Saturday nights in our house) was to play a rotation of games. Maybe a wargame one week, a family tabletop game the next, and throw in a RPG campaign session too. Little I loves Scytheso much right now he has asked to preempt the kick-off of the next RPG campaign and repeat Scythe. We will have to see; Compass Games’ Command & Colors Tricorne: The American Revolution is supposedly enroute.* I also want to play around with the Automa (solo variant) to see how it works as well as the experimental rules for playing a mix of Automa and different player-counts.
Scythe has won many awards, but most importantly it has won the RockyMountainNavy family’s admiration and respect for the enjoyment we all have playing the game. Even Mrs. RMN appreciates how Scythe has captured the intense interest of Little I. The RMNBoys are already pooling their money to purchase expansions though, to be honest, Dad will probably spring for it because, well, he wants to!
* </RANT ON> I am a bit disappointed with Compass Games. I backed C&C Tricorne on Kickstarter and now hear that it was on sale at WBC in late-July. It is being sold on-line at Compass Games since August 17, but I have not seen any shipping notice that my copy is on the way (nor have I received my game). There are some customers indicating they received their order already but is is unclear if they were KS-backers or just ordered from the site once it went on sale. Perception is reality, and my perception is that the KS-backers are being ignored. Overall, not a very positive experience. </RANT OFF>
Traditionally, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer for the RockyMountainNavy family. That is until we moved to the East Coast. Now school for the RMN Boys goes until mid-June. However, I still want to use this occasion to look back on my geek hobby year-to-date.
According to my BGG profile, I played 10 games in January, four in February, four more in March, none in April, and only two in May. For a year that I wanted to play more I certainly have dropped off! Summer may change as I have several new games inbound. Arriving tomorrow is Conflict of Heroes: Guadalcanal – The Pacific 1942 (Academy Games, 2016). I also may be getting closer to my Kickstarter delivery of Squadron Strike: Traveller(Ad Astra Games, ??) which after many delays (unwarranted and unacceptable in my opinion) finally opened the BackerKit this week. I also pledged for Worthington Publishing’s Mars Wars – but it cancelled. This month I pledged to support Compass Games’ new Richard Borg title Command & Colors: Tricorne – The American Revolution. To be honest, I am buying this title as much for myself as for the RMN Boys – which is both a blessing and a curse. I am certainly blessed in that I have boys who love gaming, but cursed in that they are not a hard grognard like their old man. The titles also reflect a change in my gaming interests as I struggle with the closure of many FLGS and the movement of my purchasing online or (shudder) to Kickstarter. I also have several games on P500 at GMT Games and hope to see that production schedule move forward this year.
I started off at Christmas with a good collection of books that I am whittling down at a much slower pace than I wish. This is not because I have ignored them; on the contrary, I am probably reading more than I did last year – just not reading off my list! Science fiction books have taken up much of my reading time. I have found myself lost in rereading the Charles E. Gannon’s Caine Riordan series from Baen Books. I also turned to Kickstarter again for content, this time in the form of Cirsova 2017 (Issues 5&6) and its short stories.
I didn’t get time to build much but the RMN boys got many kits completed. We even found a YouTube channel that we love, Andy’s Hobby Headquarters. He not only shows great models, but the boys are studying his techniques for better building.
I also have to do the Dad-thing and boast a bit about my youngest RMN Boy. This past quarter he was studying World War II and had a project to complete. The project supposed the student had found items in the attic from grandparents accumulated during World War II. The student had to put together a scrapbook of a newspaper article relating a battle (writing assignment), a letter from a soldier/sailor to home describing another battle (writing assignment), a letter from home describing the home front (writing assignment), a letter from the mayor to a local boys club thanking them for supporting the war effort (another writing assignment), notes from Grandmother about key personalities (short biographies), and a propaganda poster (art assignment). We had fun doing this project as together the youngest RMN boy and I prowled my shelves for sources, watched movies and documentaries online, and even pulled out a few games to better visualize the battles. A very proud moment for this father as the New Media and my book and game collection came together to teach a young man history.
Command & Colors: Ancients (C&C:A) was a Christmas present for A. He likes the historical subject, but has actually played very few wargames over the years. We finally got a chance to go head-to-head in a real game and not a rules walk thru.
We started out with the first scenario; the Battle of Akragas in 406BC. A took the Carthaginians who fielded a mostly mercenary infantry force. I was Syracuse with a seasoned force of heavy infantry.
Syracuse pushed forward their right flank drew the attention of the Carthaginians. Both sides battled to a relative tie, with both commanders gaining two victory banners. But while the right flank fought on, the Syracuse heavy infantry slowly plodded their way forward. With both the center and left flank staying in line, the fortuitous play of Line Command allowed the entire force to advance and engage in combat. The Syracuse heavy infantry mercilessly sliced through the Carthaginian line and gained the necessary five victory banners for the win.
A almost turned the Syracuse right flank, but by the time he was threatening his units on this flank had been attrited down to an ineffective condition. Being this was A’s first real game, he also failed to realize the power of the Syracuse heavy infantry and was not prepared for the fury of combat (the five Close Combat die) when the battle lines finally clashed.
Both of us appreciate the way C&C:A give the flavor of combat in the ancient era without a huge rules overhead. Expect to see this one on the table more often this yer!
Pacific Fury: Guadalcanal, 1942by Revolution Games. Originally published in Japanese and now translated into English. Emphasizes planning by using a very different system of assigning units to Task Forces and then resolving combat in sequence. Suffers from some production issues (very DTP-publishing feel) but nonetheless an interesting exploration of naval combat in and around Iron Bottom Sound.
The Space Patrol(by Richard Hazelwood, published by Stellagama Publishing). A 2D6 OGL Sci-Fi/Cepheus Engine RPG book for playing Space Patrol characters. Includes a very detailed discussion of legal terms and interstellar law. An interesting look at yet another career option. I try to support the Cepheus Engine system as much as possible since I disapprove of the direction Mongoose Publishing has taken the Traveller RPG rules.
We wouldn’t be the RockyMountainNavy family without the kids getting games for Christmas too:
RMN A got Command & Colors: Ancients (GMT Games). This is technically A’s first wargame that he “owns.” He is studying history and very interested in the period. Looking forward to facing off across the battlefield from him (but first he needs to put all those stickers on)!
RMN Little I got Tanks: Panther vs Sherman (Gale Force 9). This starter-set game plays to two of his interests; WW2 armor and models. The price entry point is very low ($19.99) but he will surely be spending a good deal of his earnings over the next year on the expansions (i.e. models). He already has several 1/100th scale Zvezda armor – look for him to make his own stat cards soon!