Tuesday, November 12, 2013

BattleLore 2.0

I don't go to BGG too much these days.  Sadly, middle age has taken a big toll on my game playing.  When I did go, however, I was greeted with this intriguing news: BattleLore 2.0 has been announced. 

I've been poking around the FFG web info about it, and so far I like what I've been seeing.  I'm a little sad to see the whimsical tone of BL1.0 gone, but it looks like a more "grown-up" game.  I'll be interested to learn how they are handling the lore system.  Eventually I concluded the lore council idea didn't really work.  I wanted to like it, but it was too much hassle and too little control. 

Given that I don't play games these days, it would be hard for me to justify sinking yet more cash, yet I find myself tempted....

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Long Game of Twilight Imperium

Have not seen any posts here in a long time. Mark and I played a LONG game of TI3 with some friends this past Monday. It was an almost 12 hour session. Part of the slowdown was due to 2 inexperienced players. Part of it was that we had a seven player game.  All said it was an excellent game.  Rather than go into detail about the flow of the game, I would like to share some of my experiences with winning and losing this epic “mini-monster” of a game.
I think that when people sit down to play TI3, that very often they revert back to simpler days of gaming and games such as RISK! Enter their minds. The mentality of conquest and warfare take control and they go into “Attack Mode”.  But that is the perfect strategy for losing this game if you ask me.  So here are a few tips that are worth considering:
1)      Always make decisions based on Victory Points (VPs). Yes sometimes you need to make a quick reactive decision or you need to pounce on an unexpected target of opportunity, but do this in the shadow of getting VPs.
2)      Don’t do something just because you can. Have a really mean and nasty Action Card? Don’t want it to go to waste? Sure, go ahead and use it, but think about those VPs. Are you going to make someone angry? Sure that can be a lot of fun, but it may hurt you in the long run.
3)      See a juicy planet lightly defended? Should you take it from another player? If it dosent help you gain VPs then maybe the answer to that is “No.”  If you take it then the other player may amass a fleet to get it back. Maybe you don’t want to let him have it back. You may spend 10+ resources beefing up the defenses of a planet that is not going to help you gain any VPs and miss an opportunity to cash in on the good old “I Now Spend xx Trade Goods for 1 VP”.
4)      Ok, so you decided to take a planet from your friend…maybe you did not really like him too much anyway.  Before you get in a really nasty shooting match with him, why not offer him a few trade goods for his trouble. Bury the hatchet and make him feel better.  Maybe he’ll use that money to attack someone else.
5)      Did some mean and un-feeling slimy alien seize your planet, destroy your ships, and kill your troops on some distant little dust ball of a planet whose name escapes you?  Do you really NEED that planet?  Before you call a jihad on it and sacrifice a bunch of VPs, maybe you can use this experience to make a new friend. “Ok, Mr. Insect Guy, now that you have got what you want, lets talk this over and be friends.”  May not work, but it’s worth thinking about. Maybe be is really not such a bad guy...maybe he just needed the VPs.
6)      Have some good trade contracts?  I just love those! Most people like to trade them for other big juicy trace contracts and that’s great. But they can also help secure friendships and cooperation. If someone wants to attack you just remind him about that trade contract he has with you. Remember that insects and cyborgs have big guns, but no one really wants to buy their crappy products. Maybe you can just to play nice.
7)      Remember that in TI3 good friends are the very best thing that trade goods can buy!
Shards of the Throne is an excellent expansion.  We are considering letting the winner of this game (Who pulled off a brilliant win with perfect use of the Bureaucracy Card) play the Lazax in the “Fall of the Empire” scenario this December. Still not sure if we will play that or the standard game. Have played “Fall of Empire” once before and I liked it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sword of Rome

Some friends and I got together recently to try out GMT Game’s CDG about the early Roman Republic, The Sword of Rome.   This was the first time playing this for all of us so it was very much a learning game all around.   I drew the Romans, actually the Greeks but agreed to swap with another player, long lost  SABG member Carlos drew the Etruscans and two other players took the Gauls and the Greeks.
The Gauls opted to go first throughout the game.  Their first action was to propose an alliance with the Etruscans which was accepted and held through most of the game.  The Etruscans with their limited reinforcements spent most of the game building up their forces, while the Samnites used their mountain lair to harass everyone.  The Greeks spent the early game sparing with Carthage and driving them out of Sicily.  The Rome tried to stay neutral while building a defensive ring of cities. Unfortunately, the Gallic-Etruscan alliance made this impossible.  Rome was quickly brought into conflict with its neighbors as the Gauls attacked its outlying cities.
The early attacks on Rome meant I had to burn a lot of my cards activating leaders and rebuilding my forces. This left little time to build colonies or deal with the Volcii.  Constant attacks by the Gauls wore down the Romans and eventually Rome itself was sacked.  The Gauls opted to take the victory point instead of occupying the city.  With Rome focused on the Gauls and Etruscans, the Greeks evicted Carthage from Sicily and started conquering the southern Italian peninsula.  At that point we had to call it a night and everyone made a last dash for Victory Points.  I think the Etruscans actually won by blitzing into Gaul territory to claim a victory city, but it was late so I’m not sure of that. 
The Gaul-Etruscan alliance was something that surprised me and I still don’t know if it was a rookie mistake or a brilliant move on the part of the Gauls.  I kind of learn toward brilliant as it enabled them to deal with the Trans-alpine Gauls without worrying about their backside and it kept Rome in check from the beginning.  In the endgame Gaul would have to crush the Etruscans since that is the best way for them to gain VP—looting Etruscan territory—but they can do that easily enough after the Roman threat is neutralized.  This is because Rome can build walled cities (colonies) while Etruria cannot and the Romans receive more reinforcements.   
It was an interesting game but I really didn’t get a chance to see if I liked the game or not.  We spent a lot of time struggling with the rules, partly because I didn’t learn them well enough ahead of time and partly because of a poorly written rulebook.   I felt like we didn’t understand what we were supposed to be doing and how to acquire territory.  It seems like the heart of the game is contained in the Political Control (PC) rules but they are not well written or as the Tao of Gaming called them, “opaque”.   I felt like this really detracted from the game.  I was able to locate a player’s aid for the PC rules on BGG and I would recommend anyone playing this game get a copy beforehand.
I think I need to play this game one or two more times to get a good feel for it before I decide if I like it or not.  I give it 6.5/10 on the BGG rating system.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Greetings from the PNW

So there are 6 months of posts on a single page in this blog. I recall when two weeks would have rolled over at least once and maybe twice.

I guess that Rob R's meet-up is now how San Antonians are getting their game on?

I'm sure it makes for good times and good games, but it doesn't leave much record, does it?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fortress America

I never played this. I was just too poor when it came out, but a lot of guys I knew really enjoyed it. It seems that FFG is going to re-release it. Does anyone have the MB version? Did you like it?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

While I have been away from the SABG, I have had a chance toplay a good number of TI3 games with my game buddies from my church. Over the past year we have evolved a few house rules that I thought I would share with y’all. They have worked out quite well and would be
interested in your feedback.
Hidden Carrier Compliment – For just a few dollars (less than $6), I was able to get some small six-compartment boxes. We mark each compartment with a number and also a corresponding carrier (1 – 4) and war sun (5-6). Instead of placing fighters on the board, we place them in the box. This masks the number of fighters that a carrier has aboard. You would be surprised how well this works!! People now see carriers in a whole new way – does it have the full complement of fighters or just one or two…maybe its empty and just a bluff. The rules of the game
were not changed, just the units on the board. I loved the way this worked out. It also considerably reduces the board clutter.
PDS rule modification – A PDS planetary shield
can now effect a war sun similar to the way it effect a dreadnought. Basically the PDS will reduce the number of
dice that a unit (dreadnought or war sun) rolls by one during planetary
bombardment. So a war sun will roll only
2 dice when bombarding a planet with 1 PDS and only 1 dice if the planet has
two. Why this rule? We just thought that even if a war sun could get
past the PDS, it should still at least be hampered by it.
Double the amount of Political
Cards: This is only for the second set of strategy cards as these give you more
control over the political cards. Basically every time you draw a political
card, you take two instead. When you play a political card you will also
discard one without playing it. This will give more attractive choices for the
political process. We did this because we all agreed that this just gives us
more choices about playing political cards and we are more likely to use the
political process. It works well.
Before shuffling the objective deck, we photo copy the cards so that the
players can all see what the cards will be. This gives the players a chance to
know what to work for, but not know when the card will come up

Well, I was finally able to get my latest Twilight Imperium expansion
on the table. I don’t think that Shards
of the Throne was as good as Shattered Empire, it defiantly is worthwhile if you
are a fan of the game. But for this
time, all we used were the new Flagship units and the Mechanized ground force

The Flagship was phenomenal.
Each one is quite unique and because they were new to us their effects
were quite a surprise. Interestingly
enough the mechanized units were not used much at all in this game. I was rather disappointed with my own
Flagship of the Xxcha Kingdom – probably the lamest of the Flagships. The Human flagship had an impressive to care
scores of ground troops. This made it a
very worthwhile venture.

We did not try the mercenaries or the new political
system. Some of the buzz I have been
reading about the political system is that it slows the game without adding
much. I have mixed feelings about the mercenaries. My son really wants to try them out, so maybe
we will next time.

I think that I would have been happier with just
the new units. I do want to give the historical
scenario a try one day, but who knows when that will be. I have not read any feedback about it on BBG

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Terraclips + Miniatures = Ridiculous

If you haven't seen Terraclips yet, here's a look. I bought the Streets and Buildings set. What's shown is only about 60% of the Streets set; I haven't even punched out the Buildings yet.

They are not Lego bricks; they don't go together instantly or fit perfectly. You need to plan a little before you start throwing things together. The layout shown took about 15 minutes of forethought and an hour of assembly (and that's cheating a bit, since it's a simplification of what's on the Streets cover). Also, the raised levels do not attach to the walls below. This is a feature in that you can lift them off and manipulate figures underneath, but it's less visually appealing than I'd like (notice the slightly levitating tower in the background).

That being said, you can create just about any cityscape with these two sets, up to 3'x3' in area and several levels tall. It should make skirmish games like Song of Blades and Heroes tremendously more fun. Not to mention diorama building. Check out the crossbowman near the stairs, who just realized they are being outflanked.