Thursday, April 25, 2013

Returning to Things of No Interest

After more than a year away, I make a return to Things of No Interest. January saw a number of sessions, so I'll just try and wrap everything up in one large burrito of a post. And without further ado...

Jan. 4, 2013
Robert Bolan came over and we played a few iPad games as well as one real boardgame! Our iPad adventures included two-player Ra and Keltis HD so that I could explain the games. We also played Kingdom Builder face-to-face. I still really enjoy Kingdom Builder, but need to play it more as I'm terrible at this game. We tried to play Dominant Species on our iPads, but at one point, my iPad went to sleep and when it came back, it had lost connection to the game and I couldn't get back in. DS on iOS really REALLY needs an async option to play through Gamecenter.

Jan. 6, 2013
The kids an I played a game of Lost Cities: The boardgame. My daughter hadn't played before, but my son has and he concentrated his efforts on just a couple of colors. We played a "short game" (one round) and he beat me by 5 points. The kids like this game (the simple choices make this attractive) and I like it because it is still interesting enough.

Jan. 11, 2013
This particular evening of gaming saw me with some additional guests. Ravindra Prasad (I had met Ravindra a few years back on my first trip to the Geekway in St. Louis where we partnered up to play Tichu) and his wife Mary were in town and had contacted Matthew Frederick about gaming, so the two of them joined us with a couple of the other usual suspects - Nathan Winchester and Amelia Boli. Matthew and Amelia had stopped on the way at the Game Depot and picked up the 7 Wonders expansion Cities, so we started the night with that. Cities adds some new buildings to mix things up a bit. I had Ravindra and Amelia on either side of me and Ravindra was not being terribly helpful with making resources I needed. I had a ton of blue buildings, but not a whole lot of points otherwise, as Ravindra and/or Amelia kept up with (but didn't surpass) my military. Either Matthew or Nathan won with science as the main points (I never had a chance to build a science building).

After the smoke cleared from the scoring, Amelia choose our next game - Top Race. I enjoy this racing game, though I usually do poorly at it - not this night. I placed second in the first race and managed to correctly identify the winner in all three bets. The second race was equally successful for me and I was easily winning the game at that point. I created some confusion in describing the catch-up card though, so the first race was likely slightly dubious. Regardless, I had fun watching Nathan's car get stuck a lot.

We moved on to a couple party games after that, playing Telestrations and Time's Up: Title Recall a couple times each before Ravindra and Mary called it a night. Telestrations wasn't quite as funny this particular night (though there were a couple of goofy pics) - I guess it can't be side-splittingly hilarious every time I play. Time's Up was good with Nathan and Ravindra squeaking out a win over Matthew and I. Time's Up: Title Recall is easily my favorite version of the game and one I'll play just about anytime.

After Ravindra and Mary left, we pulled out Discworld: Ankh-Morpork. I quickly reviewed the rules and explained the game to Matthew and Amelia. With four-players, the game has the same chaotic fun that three-players does, but is actually slightly faster since you go through the deck so quickly. I had the winning condition of getting through the entire deck with nobody else winning, but hid it pretty decently from the others. I think this condition might be the easiest to win with in a four player game since you get through the cards faster.

We finished the night with a game of Tichu. For most of the game, things were going against Matthew and Amelia, but with us needing less than 50 points to win, Matthew and Amelia managed to pull out a win. Not the worst lead I've ever blown, but pretty close. Oh well, any Tichu played is good Tichu

Jan. 18, 2013
Matthew and Nathan came over, with Matthew bringing his new game - Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar. After punching the game and going through the rules we started up. I had heard that this was a good game, but knew nothing about it and was intrigued by the gears. The game itself is pretty much a straightforward worker placement game and the gears are mostly a gimmick, though they work well and make the game "maintenance" very easy. Nathan had an early lead and looked to be in good position for the win, but I was able to sneak in some points at the end for the win. The game was interesting, though for whatever reason, the three of us took a long time to play it. This is one of those games where AP is easy to fall into and makes the game longer than it has to be.

Jan. 19, 2013
My daughter got bored and asked to play a game with me. I hadn't ever even opened my copy of California, which I got from Tanga years ago. I figured we'd see what this game was all about. turns out to be an interesting little family type euro and my daughter quickly picked up on the mechanics, understanding that if she took money which she needed that I'd be able to buy things cheaper.She did a pretty good job with getting things and trying to hurt my position as much as help her own. Of course, being the savvy gamer dad, I did better than she did, but I wouldn't be shocked to see her do even better next time.

Jan. 25, 2013
Robert and I had been pushing for a little while to get Dominant Species to the table. Amelia wasn't going to be able to join us on this particular Friday, so we setup to play this. Nathan brought along a friend of his from his work - Jacob, so there were five of us in total. After we were all there, I covered the rules and took out all the action pawn related cards in hopes of a slightly faster game. We ended up playing 5-players in about 4.5-5 hours, so it wasn't too bad. I was the mammals (never used my power until the last round), Jacob amphibians, Nathan reptiles, Robert insects and Matthew birds. As the game started, I jumped out to a modest early lead, earning cries of "bash the leader". I wouldn't hold the lead long as the last place player at that point (Matthew) used Niche Biomes to reel everyone back to him. At that point, Nathan made some aggressive moves on the board that ate into species cubes of everyone (he grabbed the Catastrophe card) and set me back a bit. Robert also was making decent moves, isolating himself a good bit and using glaciation to score points and limit access to "his areas". As the game progressed, I was making good progress on the board, but not scoring much. Nathan and Robert were pulling away, but Robert realized near the end that he had no board position to hold of Nathan. As we approached the last round, I continued to expand and set myself up. I was able to get the blight card and used it to change a lot of standing on the board. On the second to last round, Matthew and I ended up teaming to clear the tundra of nearly all species except for one spot where I still had 2 species left. Heading into the final round, I decided to try to get more cubes on the board and then migrate to the tundra to try and score the final survival bonus. However, with all of us focused on our own plots, Nathan grabbed all three of the final Wanderlust actions to devastating effect. He scored a ton of points and grabbed three areas of scoring for himself. I somehow managed to dominate in enough areas (6 or 7) and with migration, also score good points in the final scoring. When the dust finally cleared, I had somehow managed a 4 point win over Nathan.

Jan. 26, 2013
My wife and daughter were out of town for the weekend, so I put a call out to see if anyone still had some gaming in them. Nathan responded and when it turned out he'd be the only one, we decided to play some Combat Commander. I pulled out C3i #22 and we started up the Pathfinder Campaign. The campaign is based on the airborne portion of the June 1944 Overlord campaign and has you play a series of scenarios (three) with the overall winner determined by success and points. I let Nathan pick which side he wanted to play and he wanted to try out the Americans, so I took the Germans and we got going. We started with scenario #33 (from Combat Commander: Battle Pack #1 - Paratroopers).
St. Mere Eglise, France. 6 June, 1944
In the early hours of June 6, the paratroopers of the 101st and 82nd Airborne divisions leapt into the night over Normandy to clear the path for the invading Allied forces who were at the time steaming across the English Channel. Through the chaos of enemy fire, the pilots did the best they could to put the troopers over their planned drop zones, but many of them were dropped far from their planned sites, with little idea of where they were. The 506th PIR landed on the outskirts of St. Mere Eglise. They quickly organized as best they could and began clearing the way to Utah Beach.

The Americans set up randomly (ie for each unit, draw and place on the hex listed) after the Germans. If the unit is adjacent (or on), it gets placed broken. Only a couple of Nathan's units ended up broken, but honestly, his units weren't scattered us much as I had hoped. The map is #2 (hedgerow hell) and so I had setup in the houses, with machine guns covering the roads as best I could. Nathan moved as couple units near one house to begin an assault, but after his first shot was unable to continue the assault nor move. Feeling bold, I took three (of my very limited units) and advanced on a lone squad of Nathan's. He had an ambush card, but I still had the advantage - He needed an 11 to tie or 12 to beat me. Of course, he drew an 11. It was a terrible draw as we both died, but I paid the heavier price. I went to work on his other two units sitting out in the open and managed to kill the squad and break the leader, but couldn't put him away (I constantly re-suppressed the leader , but couldn't get enough for a kill). I finally had an advance card and went after his pesky Americans, and again, he needed an 11 or 12 to win the melee. And once again, he drew to 10, tying us and killing three of my units. As the German surrender was 6, I immediately lost (which was worth 30 VPs for the campaign).

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

More Combat Commander

Robert Bolan came over this evening to get in a bit of Combat Commander action. I was hoping we could start a series from the Stalingrad battle pack, but when I opened it up, there was no playbook with the rules. I sent an note to GMT and I expect they'll be sending a booklet to me, but I was saddened that we weren't going to explore Stalingrad yet. Since that was out as a plan, I just went with the RSG (Random Scenario Generator) hoping for some minor powers (Italy, France, Britain). Instead, we ended up with the Germans and Russians in 1942. We did end up on a map neither of us had seen before - #20, a nearly total forest with a small amount of marsh, a hill running through it and a road through the forest. I ended up with the Russians and after we made our unit choices, I ended up as the defender to Robert's attacking Krauts. As attacker, he had the option to try for a radio (artillery), which he got, which didn't make me too happy since artillery and trees are bad. I setup first and setup with a leader and an SMG unit on a hill to best shoot at anything Robert tried to move in the only open area (note, this wasn't much of a threat as I didn't have a gun and SMGs only have a range of TWO (four with the leader's command)). The rest I spread out in the cover of the forest, two of the SMGs having satchel charges. Well, Robert took on of his units to start the game and exited them off after racing them down the side of the map uncontested. The rest of the units were all engaged in not a whole lot of anything. My hilltop foxholed unit and leader kept working at Robert, but weren't too hot. I did finally manage to kill off Robert's radio, which made him start moving in to try and eliminate my units. Robert managed to get a random medium machine gun unit behind my lines and he moved in to kill me. He tried and before his unit could get the kill shot in, a sniper popped up and killed my unit, robbing his gunner of the kill. I got a mortar, which I used to finally nail a couple of his guys on an opposite hill, so he used an advance to come get me. A few ambush cards later, I killed off enough of his troops to force his surrender.