Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Ancients, Orcs, and Demons: Monday, 30 Jan 2006

The clash of arms resounded throughout the night, mixing with the howls of foul orcish battle cries and shotgun blasts! A good crowd assembled to do battle on the fair tables of Dragons Lair. Brian, Jon, Ted, Rob, Simon, and I all took our places behind the boards.

First, Brian and Ben tried out the variant version of Lord of the Rings: Confrontation. We spent the game figuring out the various special powers of the new characters, when Brian made a suprise move to land his third evil character, the Uruk-Hai in the Shire, just as Frodo had Mount Doom on the horizon. Unfortunately, we flubbed the rules a bit, but a fun game nonetheless.

Next, we had two games of Commands and Colors Ancients on the table simultaneously: Brian vs. Ted; and Jon vs. Me. I, playing the Carthaginian, was able to collapse Jon's entire left flank with a massive cavalry charge, sending Publius Scipio scurrying back to his center. I then pressed forward on the right with my heavy infantry, but Jon counterattacked with barbarian warriors who were soon seen dancing on my proud warriors remains with my General's head on a pike! My troops rallied, showering his disordered mob with sling bullets, arrows, and javelins, killing just enough to secure me the required 8 victory flags. What a fun game! On the other table, Ted carried the day against Brian with repeated, well-timed play of line advance cards.

Next up were Doom (Jon, Simon, me) on one table and War of the Ring (Brian, Rob) on another. I had to pinch myself at sight of so many great games coming out on a single night. Simon's well-crafted house rules and expertly painted miniatures really made the Doom board game come to life. Jon and I fought our way through the first three areas, making good headway and doing our best to carve our way through the evil hordes with shotguns and chainsaws. Alas, the witching hour struck for me, and I had to come back to reality. I hope my Marine made it through the carnage!


At 11:56 AM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Monday worked particularly well for me schedule-wise... I've just added another DL event for next Monday, 6 Feb 2006 in hopes it works for others as well.

At 12:02 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Jon and I packed up Doom after you left, Ben, to go see what was going on with Rob and Brian. We (Jon and I) ended up playing a game of Confrontation as their game went on...Sadly, Rob lost to a Free People's military victory (ouch) while we played our mini version of the same epic.

I was hoping the variant characters would change a lot but it seemed pretty much identical to the base game. -Move people around, chunk cards simultaneously, hope a certain piece doesn't enter here. I won by getting Frodo into Mordor although we had our own rules flub. Sauron cards are resolved first and then Fellowship cards which threw me off of the whole "immediately" word I saw printed on my own. So we just pulled a renege.

I think the game lacks the scope to be anything really grand. If they scaled up the regions to make the playing area bigger or gave you some more characters, I could see more strategies entering into play to help replayability. As of now, it's more of a one shot game every now and then for me.

We have to finish a game of Doom in the future. Pulling it out and pouring over all the bits and rules made me realize how much I loved it and why I dedicated myself to painting all the figs. I say we pull it out for the all day session on the 20th. Heck, let's make it a zombie day and play Mall of Horror and Fearsome Floors while we're at it!

At 12:10 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Jeff said...

So the fact that I completely misread both the calendar and Rob's headcount post cost me not only a night of gaming, but a chance to meet the mythical 'Ted' as well? Arrrgh!!!

At 12:42 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Darn.... I wish my copy of Fury of Dracula would arrive by Feb 20 as well...

Doom sounds good to me. We'll probably have enough people that day to have a couple tables going.

Speaking of horror games, I have Arkham Horror as well.

At 1:25 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Jonathan W. said...

I saw the mythical beast (called “Ted” by some) with my own two eyes. I have been converted to a believer.

I can now look down my nose at those who have not joined the supreme few that have witnessed this rare creature.

At 10:03 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Mythical Ted....funny

BTW, Brian and I played Confrontation too before War of the Ring....it was LOTR overload night for me! I won taking the Witch King to the Shire, but b/c of a faux pas of mine I was close to losing.

As opposed to Simon, I enjoy the simplicity of Confrontation. It satisfies my pallate when I'm in the mood for something light. It's like beer in that sense. When I'm in the mood for something meatier, War of the Ring is my 15 year old single malt scotch.

Confrontation is an interesting game in that you have to really take into account what cards your opponent has in his hands sometimes more so than what you yourself have. Timing is of the essence when it comes to moving and playing cards. With a well-set plan, you can force your opponent to run out of key cards early in the game, that he won't have when you both are down to 1-2 allowing you that safe victory.

I guess, not having much time to play games in general, short but deep games like these have a "special place in my heart". Battle Line and Lost Cities both fall in this same group.

War of the Ring is an interesting game that I'm still trying to master. There are so many things going on at the same time that it takes some getting used to to be efficient. Last night was my second game and I felt a LOT more comfortable using my cards because I knew more of them (still, I need to sit down and analyze them all to play even more efficiently, which I think is key to winning). I felt I played much better when it came to putting pressure on the Ringbearers this time around, with the caveat that I neglected two key Shadow nations allowing Brian to have an easy and embarrasing (for me) military victory. It is after this second game that I learned to appreciate card "cyclers" like the Witch King, and The Palantir of Orthanc....they are KEY to getting those good Hunt tiles in the stack. I'm sure there are more cards that I need to make sure I play more effectively. Definitively a game I will keep playing til my gaming runs smooth as butter.

At 11:01 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

I don't know that I'd call Lost Cities or Battle Line "deep." Speaking of which, those two aren't up on my favorites list along with Confrontation either, so maybe it's just the faux genre of medium strategy I don't like. I just think any game worth putting the time into should have a controllable degree of skill to it. Then again, using your beer analogy, I’ve always been a bit of a snob. Screw the domestic light stuff and bring on the imports and malts!

As for War of the Ring, I think the Shadow player has to play conservatively. Take Rohan in the first few turns. Then work to the areas surrounding it for a few easy points and simply wait to see what else opens up. It's OK if the hobbits have made it into Mordor and you still need 4 to 6 VPs. Usually, the cards you pick up will dictate the last campaign for Sauron. As long as you progress carefully and steadily, time isn't a too big of a limiting factor.

-And as in any wargame, always remember:

Never spread yourself too thin.

...I think it's a holy commandment of gaming.

At 9:57 AM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Of course there are "deeper" 2 player games (from memoir 44/Command and Colors to even deeper like HotS/Twilight Struggle/etc.), but they are probably not playable in less than 30 minutes...which is sometimes what I'm in the mood or have time for. The time commitment I put into them is minimal. But don't get me wrong...I'm not saying Lone Star beer is better than Munich's Hoffbrau Heffeweisen. No way. I'm only saying that they satisfy my occasional need for light domestics.

Heck, I'm even thinking of getting Hive (which is almost like a mimosa).

(changing the subject a bit)
Talking about imports, anyone interested in joining Ben and I to play a six-player game of World of Warcraft? Hopefully we'll play it on big mama jamma gaming day on Feb 20....along with Doom, Hammer (or Crusader), Mall, Confrontation (hehehe), Chinese Checkers, Battle Ship (of course, I'm kidding)....

At 5:58 PM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Paulander Heffeweisen is my favorite, followed closely by Franziskaner Weissbier... both are sold at Whole Foods, though it's amazing how much better they tasted when I had them fresh on tap in Germany last year.

Oh... back to games...

When I was a little tike, I could eat cheeseburgers and chocolate bars all day long and spend the whole weekend playing monster wargames with a friend. We'd play double-board Risk (i.e., two connected planet Earths); combined Panzer Leader and Panzer Blitz (7 connected boards; with every American/British counter on one side; every Russian counter on the other side; with the PB and PL Germans combined in the middle defending the homeland); or other forms of silliness.

Now that I'm older and busier, I eat salad and have learned to appreciate the value of the 30-minute strategy game. Sure I'd like to own half the games GMT publishes, but I know I'll be lucky if I play a solid wargame 5-6 times per year. Battle Line, LOTR:TC, Lost Cities: some of my favorites.

World of Warcraft: Officially the prettiest game I now own. The game literally defines the concept of overproduction. I have to respect the game just for its amazing production. The game is another heavily-themed dicefest with red, green, blue, etc. hit and defense dice. Still, I really enjoy the fantasy quest theme and like Doom, Descent, Runebound, and others of its ilk. I'm busy digesting the 45 page rule book...

At 8:41 PM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

45 page rule book?!

That's longer than any of the grognard games I've played! Is it mostly pictures or something?!

Although getting back to the beer analogy, I realized that I regard German and U.K. beers in much the same way I do Euros. I respect them and think they have great flavor every now and then, but don't drink them often.

Beer and gaming are clearly a great comparison. Take that puzzles!

At 9:45 PM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

45 pages, but its lavishly illustrated with fantasy art and extensive gameplay examples. Plus, the rules seem written for non-gamers, so they take a long time to explain every nuance of the game.

I still think puzzles are like solitaire board games without the dice! ...only not as much fun. :)

At 9:54 PM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

ditto on the puzzles comment!


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