Friday, January 28, 2011


This week it was Command and Colors Ancients turn to make use of the table and it did so in a big way. As there were 4 of us we had decided before hand to try an epic game. One of the expansions provides another board and a special deck of cards to allow multiple people to play.

We split into two teams with each side having one member who has played the game and one who hasn't. I was teamed up with Gornad and we had a quick chat about the strategy in the game.

The scenario picked was Cannae, one that I haven't managed to win in the past. We decided to play quite aggressively and push hard on both flanks while the warriors ran into the middle. It took a few turns until we had picked up how the game was playing and managed to get in the lead, mainly due to some heroic action by our heavy horse on the Left flank. The warriors in the middle were busy harassing while our light infantry and horse were trying to hit and run on the right flank.

We needed 3 blocks to win against the Romans 5 and we thought that was quite possible. However the dice were against us and we didn't hit anything. Unfortunately the Romans had the luck of Fortuna and came back strong and picked off enough units to win the game.

It was a really good game and playing with teams was really interesting. I was worried that there wouldn't be enough to do for the General after he handed out his orders. As there was only 2 per team the general controlled the center of the board which was good. Watching your commander interpret your orders was a bit stressful. I had plans of hit and run on the right flank drawing the enemy in towards some heavys but it didn't happen.

It was a very good and interesting game. It also looked awesome setup on the table, Ed did a great job of setting up the blocks and packing it away afterwards.

I am now tempted to get some Operation Overlord expansions for M44 and try that with more players.

We managed a game of Defenders of the Realm afterwards which was interesting, but as I am playing it again next week I will talk about it more then.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Release the Kraken!

I finally managed to play Cyclades this week. It's been brought to the game group a few times in the past but I have never been quick enough to get to the table. It always looked good from afar and Gamethyme has been raving about it for a while.

I managed to score the win, but I felt a bit deflated. Three of the four players had managed to build Metropoli and were working towards their second. My first was built by heavy use of Athena and trading in the 4 cards. I had managed to grab 2 more cards and was set to win. All I had to do was get Athena again, but even though I bid high I was outbid. I managed to move around the gods making sure everyone else bid high then ended up getting Apollo for a few extra coins.

As everyone had bid high there wasn't much for them to do and I knew if I could get Athena again I would have the win. I picked the god who wouldn't be available and the others were turned over. Athena was there, but the last of the three gods. Then the monster was turned over and it was the Pegasus. I knew I was in trouble here as it meant one of the others could send in their forces by air ignoring the need for boats. John went first and picked up the Pegasus, I had 1 guy in my Metropolis and he had 2 attacking so it was down to the dice. I won the first attack, then the second being 1 up. That was it, the others couldn't get near me and Athena brought home 2 more cards to win me the game.

I did enjoy the game, but I was expecting more to happen on the board. We all just expanded a little then hunkered down. There was only the 2 dice rolls in the game!
I liked the bidding mechanic, that was really nice and worked well. The components are lovely and the theme of Greek gods helping the players works really well.

I definitely want to give the game another go, but I think next time I will be a little bit more aggressive. Trying to capture islands from the others and building up my Metropoli in other ways rather than handing in white cards.

What is the plural for Metropolis anyway?

I also managed to give Dominion Prosperity a go, it been on the shelf since November unplayed which is a shame. The new cards and treasure mechanic worked really well. It was interesting that players were struggling to get to buy the 11 gold Colony cards when before you always ended up 1 short of being able to buy a province. Royal seal was one of my favorites. When played as a treasure it was worth 2 gold, but the card you used to buy it with end up on the top of your deck. Useful until another player plays a spy card.
But I expect there are better cards in the box somewhere....

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Forward Brothers!

I played Spacehulk a lot. I still own the first edition and all expansions but it doesn't get played that much. Mainly due to it being a 2 player game and its with most of my GW games up in the loft.
The new edition of Spacehulk is lovely, I have only played it once but it did look really good and played very well. However the price tag put me off and as I don't play my other copy that much it wasn't going to join my collection.

Death Angel continues the spacehulk genre but is condensed into a couple of decks of cards and scales to 6 players. It's been called spacehulk light and I can see why.

When my copy arrived I opened it up and started reading through the rules. Then put it down again, the rules just seemed to be a mess. Any rulebook that tells you to jump to page 22 then page 21 during setup has not been put together properly in my mind. FFG gets a bit of a bad wrap about there rule books and sometimes its for good reason. I ended up watching a couple of videos on the geek and the picked up the rules again. It didn't seem that bad afterwards and was ready to play.

The game is for 1-6 players and takes about 30-60 minutes. So its got the potential to be a quick solo game which is nice. Our initial game was 5 players. Initial starting location is determined by the number of players and a number of location cards are randomly selected and placed on the table. These represent the areas the marines are going to fight through to make their way towards the mission objective. Other landscape cards are placed on the table to represent corridors and doors. These are where the Genestealers are going to spawn from. Each player chooses a marine team and the cards are collected, shuffled and dealt out to make the marines formation. Marines are facing different ways which can cause challenges in the game.
Lastly a number of Genestealers are but into blip piles on each side of the location card.

Play then commences with each player choosing one of their action cards. These are either move and activate, support or attack. Any card you play stays on the table and cannot be used the following round. This stops you just playing attack cards continually. Each team of marines has different effects on the cards to represent the equipment they are carrying or the abilities of the marine.

All cards are revealed and played in numerical order, the support cards generally go first followed by move then the attacks are dealt with. Attacks are easy, you just roll a dice and hope you get a face with a skull on it. Some cards effect the number of genestealers you remove but generally its only one.

Then its time for the genestealers, and marine engaged with genestealers must roll a dice and get a number higher than the number of genestealers attacking him. If not he dies. This is where support tokens come in. You can place them on marines using support actions and they allow you to re roll an attacking or defending roll. So if you have any you can discard them to roll again. Unfortunately if you are being attacked from behind you can't use them.

An event card is then drawn and resolved, them more genestealers are spawned and then moved depending on the icons on the card. Play continues until one of the 2 blip piles is empty, then the marines get to move to the next location in the deck. This continues until the last location is reached where the marines have to fulfill a final objective to win the game.

We managed to win our first game, although at the end our squad of marines was down to 3 men. So only just, I don't think we could have survived another round. The genestealers were piling up and most of the heavy hitters in the squad were down.
The game felt like spacehulk, slightly claustrophobic with a feeling of dread. Play moved along at a reasonable pace, you had a couple of choices in what to do each round which helped. Although you have to work as a team supporting each other and moving to be in the best spots to attack. I think different teams work better than others but there is enough variety in the box to keep the game interesting. I suspect that there will be an expansion for it which will build up the rules and add new locations and marines. Although I don't think I will need anything extra for a while.

So for under £20 you get a pretty decent co-op game that can be played solo. I need to give it more plays to see how well the solo play works but it looks very good.

This page on the geek lists a number of common mistakes and is worth a read if you already own the game.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Toy Soldiers

I was late to the world of Memoir 44, it always sounded like a great game with lots of support but the price tag put me off. Then along came Battlelore as the new kid on the block and I decided to start with that. I wanted to be at a level field with expansions and experience the C&C game system.

Battlelore was great and I picked up a couple of expansions but then it died. Meanwhile M44 was still getting lots of support and a friend offered to sell me his copy. I was a fool to say no and quickly snatched it up with intentions on trying it out with my eldest.

If you don't know much about M44 its a WWII combat game that uses cards to determine which of your troops are active and dice to determine combat results. It's quite a simple system that has been built on with expansions and extra rules.

I played my copy a couple of times, but getting 2 player games to the table is a rarity and knowing that a mate near Warwick was a heavy player asked him for advice on playing online. Vassal was used along with Skype and numerous battle were played out recreating the Normandy landings, the push to Paris and the siege of Stalingrad on the Eastern Front. It all worked quite well in a heath Robinson kind of way.

Now Days of Wonder have released their own Memoir 44 online system. It's still in Beta but its been put together very well. It looks exactly like the board game which is great. The board and pieces make the real game in my mind. You can either play solo against the AI or against another online player. Games cost "gold bars", but you get 130 bars when you sign up. Additional bars can be bought online for real money, but the initial shipment of precious metal is doing fine at the moment.
I am not sure when its going to come out of Beta, I can't image its going to be long. I am also hopeful that more scenarios are going to be released. The main Western Front scenarios are suffering from being over played.

If you like Memoir 44 and don't get enough time to play it give it a go. a typical game takes around 15-20 mins so its perfect for when you have a little down time. If you haven't played it before the rules are available on the web site, give them a read and jump right in. You can't do anything wrong.

client and instructions can be found here.

If anyone wants a game, drop me a mail or add a comment.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

7 Questions

The last month has been busy, busy at work and pretty busy with gaming. Lots of games have been played both new and old with some surprises. Zombie Dice was well recieved for a push your luck filler game. I think I prefer Can't Stop but it fills a hole and doesn't take up much room.

7 Wonders continues to be played and now the core players know the game it doesn't take longer than 30 mins to get a game in. My copy is now sleaved using the mayfair cards from especially as they looked as though they were going to start showing some wear.

Santa brought a few games, my Secret Santa sent me a copy of Small World. I have played it and enjoyed it but never bought a copy for myself. I think that my boys could probably get into the game so it was a good choice. Other Christmas games included a copy of Scotland yard and some Small World and Memoir 44 expansions.

Memoir 44 has become my favorite C&C based game. The fact that you can now play it online with the very good DOW client has helped. I am now looking for someone to work through the Eastern Front and Ardennes scenarios.

Gaming for the year finished with a game of Gambit 7 on New Years Eve. I have often brought a game or 2 to try and last night there was a bit of interest. I came last, terrible at this game and it went down well. So there is a glimmer of hope that other party style games could be well received in the future.

So for this year I am going to make an effort to stop buying so many new games and play the ones I have more. Also to play more games with the kids. They are at the age now where they should be able to understand some more games and their reading skills have improved. So I am going to try the family version of Agricola and maybe Memoir 44 and Small World this month. Also I am determined to get Apples to Apples and Dixit out and see if the wife enjoys them.

So here's to a new year of gaming.