Thursday, June 29, 2006

Someday...oh yes... someday

Rick Thornquist from is doing an awesome job reporting from Origins. You guys have to check this out. A piece of gaming heaven... They have it all: the latest euros, CCG's, rpg's, wargames (GMT, ASL...), etc etc etc. Makes BGG.Con look like just a regular game night.

War in the Pacific

I'm not sure why, but I tend to go through periods of varying game theme obsessions. For a while I'll be totally interested in fantasy quest board games. Then, it'll be WW2 Eastern Front stuff. Then, civilization building, etc., etc. Right now, I'm on a Pacific Theater WW2 kick. Lightning Midway, Zero, Hellcats and Corsairs, Memoir '44 Pacific (just ordered), Silent War (trying to hold back from ordering), and even Axis and Allies: Pacific are all good stuff! I haven't bitten on Empire of the Sun yet, but I secretly hope someone else will. Asia Engulfed is just a matter of time.

Anyway, I'm hopeful my copy of Memoir '44 Pacific will be arriving any day now. Once I saw it included two Guam scenarios on beaches I visited earlier this year, I was sold. Anyone interested in playing next week, just give me a shout.

PS: The above picture is me with a Japanese two-man mini-sub captured by the US Navy during the battle for Guam in 1944.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Half a year gone -- gaming friday?

Time slips inexorably into the future ... so Jacqui and I will host gaming this friday if anyone is available. RSVP in the comments.

Big News from GMT

For those with a lot of games ordered on GMT's P500 list, the following news posting may cause both excitement (at the new games soon shipping) and dread (as the previous impulse P500 charges come home to roost)!


It looks like I'm going to have a lot of new wargames to toy with this Summer... Now to get my existing GMT games from the closet to the table!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Pre-Independence Day Gamefest, 3 Jul 2006

Come one, come all for an all day gamefest at Dragons Lair on 3 Jul 2006. I'll be there at 1000 AM as the doors open, and I hope to stay until around 10 PM or until my brain turns to jelly. I posted the event on our Google calendar some time ago, but I figured the blog may be an easier way to communicate about the event. Plus, I like the pretty picture of the fireworks.

Games I'm thinking of bringing are:
  • Descent
  • War of the Ring: Battles of the Third Age
  • Warrior Knights
  • Colossal Arena
  • Twilight Struggle
  • Dungeoneer (with expansions)
  • Ra
  • Winner's Circle
  • C&C: Ancients
Of course, the more games the merrier! If you're definitely coming and there's something in particular you'd like to play, just reply to this post. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Thangorodrim and Angband

Since Rob has been posting topics about gaming diversions in between our SABG sessions, I thought I'd recommend anonther:

Thangorodrim - The Angband Page

If you enjoy Descent, this game is pretty much the same thing, though you're on your own. I enjoy the Tolkien theme to the game as well. Best of all, its totally free.

Food For thought....

I think we see some of this in our group too...

For example, if it hadn't been for all the playtesting and analysis I put into Crusader Rex, I wouldn't have discovered all the nuances and strategies in the game....and I'm sure there are more.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Gaming Tomorrow

The traditional Friday night gaming will occur at Brian & Jacqui's. 7pm to whenever! RSVP in the comments.

"The foundation of empire is art and science..."

It looks like I do have a favorite subject this month: what to do when you don't have the time to play.

Well it looks like I found yet another thing (besides BGG'ing, playing lighter games with my family, etc). Lately I've been watching different documentaries on the History Channel specially here at work during breaks. Just tonight which has been a slow night (knock on wood) they had one on the Cuban Missile Crisis (great to dream about TS). This was followed by a short documentary about the aftermath in Berlin after WWII... communist east...the free west...etc. (great to dream about the hundreds of WWII games out there...heck and TS too).

Tonight they apparently are premiering a series of documentaries on the history of different empires. Check it out. The first one will be on the Ottoman Empire. Hope I have another slow night.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Games I Don't Quite Get -- 6/19 Session Report

I took off work early on Monday, watched Spain spank Tunisia with three goals in under twenty minutes, and then hurried over the Dragon's Lair to find Brian and Michael playing Roma. My guess is that some dice were rolled, one of about 864 card types was drawn from the discard pile, and somebody won. Meanwhile Jonathan arrived, so we broke out the attention-getter...

A dexterity game crossed with an area control game, with wicked leaning magnets. Jon is much better at placement than me, even getting a double at one point (a leaner on another leaner), but a few too many conversions and conservative play by him allowed me to run out of discs first and nip the 5-4 win.

Figuring we had just over an hour before Ted and/or Simon arrived, the four of us decided to give this a shot. I've always preferred to call this game "Sellout" rather than "Acquire", since it seems like your goal is to be bought many times over. Brian took a commanding early lead by founding five (!?!) of the seven companies. I thought I was making an excellent comeback, though -- I was the majority holder in the first and third merger, and shortly after the third merger I was majority shareholder in the two large, safe companies. There was only one other company (one of the middle-value ones) that could grow past the safe point, and try as I might I couldn't merge it into one of the big ones. Meanwhile Brian and Jon managed to merge one baby company after another into it, cashing in over and over again. In the end that cash on hand was too much -- Brian finished with $54,000, Jon with $34,000, me with $30,000, and Michael (cut out of nearly every early merger) somewhere south of $20k. Not that I've played that much Acquire, but I think this is the first time I've seen tile play take on such importance, as opposed to buying into the right companies at the right times.

Still no new players, so we stalled with a short filler game. Players build tunnels towards a hidden gold mine, with (maybe) one secret saboteur trying to hold them up. This game seems very group-dependent to me; if people are really determined to be the first one to the gold, then and only then does the saboteur have some chance. But even then, the scoring mechanism makes the winner a coin flip. Bleh. Jon won the first two rounds for a vast chasm of winning.

Age of Steam
Ted arrives, and giving up on Simon we pull out the meaty game of the evening. The starting goods are an almost perfect mismatch for the nearby cities, so I pay a ton to get the first Urbanization and set up what appears to be a solid starting position. Unfortunately I forgot the first rule of AoS/Railroad Tycoon: the way to win is to build where nobody else is. On the first turn Brian builds two links at one end of my route, then on the second turn bids high and builds on the other end. Game over for me, though I managed not-last solely by keeping my shares and locomotive size low and making 2-link deliveries all game. Brian was the runaway winner, which is my main problem with this game -- while I like the idea of it, all four of my plays have (a) gone over 2 hours (last night was the shortest at 2:15; the longest was 3:30), and (b) had an obvious winner before the end of the first hour. I was that winner once, too, so it's not sour grapes; I just don't like playing a decided game for over an hour and a half. Note that my one playing of Railroad Tycoon was much tighter, though I couldn't tell you why.

Ricochet Robots
This is what passes for "light end-of-session filler" in this crew. I played horribly, and for once was saved by the tiebreaker rule that I still so strongly dislike (see, here is a game where a runaway leader is not a problem, because the game is only 20 minutes long -- start another!). Michael and Jon were quickest on the draw, but Michael's fast calls came too early, leaving Jon with the 5-4-4-3-1 win.

I'll be in Boston next week, but I'm looking forward to a monster day of gaming on July 3rd!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Games at Dragon's Lair 6/19?

So who's coming? What time? I can be there any time, the earlier the better to beat the traffic.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Oh! Ding-a-ling! I knows it!

Last night we had a game of T2R: Marklin, and then the trivia hit the fan with a game of smarty party, and then two games of Stage II. Stage II asks trivia questions, and the answers form a theme (somewhat like Password). It's a great game ... but it does have the problem that it's over two decades old. And it asks tough questions, and has a few themes that are nigh impossible. [Do you know who Nixon's VP candidate in 1960 was? How about who lost the 1928 presidential election? What was Mary's (of "Peter, Paul &" fame) last name?

The classic moment of the night, though was when the answers were:
  • Barry Nelson
  • Woody Allen
  • David Niven
  • Roger Moore
(And one name I forget). At this point, Michael said "Well, it could be James Bond, except for Woody Allen ... ". But he hadn't paid to make a guess. The next answer? "Sean Connery." At this point, everyone was so convinced about Woody Allen that nobody was willing to make the obvious guess ... so nobody got the theme.

In Michael's defense, the Wikipedia page on James Bond doesn't even list Woody Allen, but his list of films does include his version of Casino Royale. (Pretty much every non-famous name on there starred in a non-official Casino Royale).

Perhaps we should give the people born after the game was published a few extra points, though.

And if you feel the need for more humor, see the recent Get Fuzzy quick show.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Friday Gaming at Brian & Jacqui's (5/16)

Factoid #1: Yesterday, I had a 70lb rolling suitcase that I dragged 10 blocks through a DC suburb at 2pm. In a suit. I sweated more walking to my car at the airport at 11pm.

Factoid #2: Jacqui and I are hosting gaming this Friday, starting at 7pm! Respond in the comments.

Factoid #3: Factoid #1 would not be true in about two weeks. DC in July is miserable. I hope to not rediscover this in person.

Come game, and discuss the vagaries of weather and how to drag heavy objects!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Upcoming Dragon's Lair Sale, Aug 2006

Apparently there's a 20th Anniversary sale coming up at Dragon's Lair in late Aug 2006, detailed here: link. Hopefully there will be some bargains to be had for board gamers. Personally, I'm always looking for a reason to throw more business their way (i.e., beyond purchase of soft drinks, dice, card protectors, etc.).

I did notice they seem to be publishing a monthly events calendar for the San Antonio store. I'm going to make a point of seeing if they'll add the Monday SABG meetings to their calendar.

Lightning: Midway and Warrior Knights, 12 June 2006

Ted and I started our evening by trying out the light wargame/card game entitled Lightning: Midway. I took the Dark Forces of the Imperial Japanese Navy, while Ted took the Free People's navy, aka the US Navy. Each of us played from a separate deck of cards representing the unique forces, tactics, leaders, and fortuitous events available to our navies.

Ted started with the island base of Midway plus three carriers. I had four carriers. My advantage seemed to be in sheer numbers of aircraft I was able to put in the air. Ted's forces seemed to have superior tactics and leaders. So, as with many games, my villainous imperial navy's strategy was to use sheer might to overpower his sneaky maneuvers.

This was our first time playing the game, so the first few rounds were tentative for both of us. Ted, going first, led off with a large strike towards my approaching fleet. Luckily, I already had a fighter screen in the air with some key tactics cards dealt to my hand. We battled back and forth in this first dogfight, both emptying most of the cards from our hand. Finally, Ted had to abort the airstrike and limp home, but I was also in no shape to strike back. I spent the next few turns marshalling my airfleet until I had six full squadrons of torpedo and dive bombers armed and ready to go. I launched them several times looking for Ted's fleet, but each time Ted was able to make sure I couldn't find his carriers. Ted struck back, but my Zeros continued to hold him off.

Finally, we both stuck paydirt and each lost one of our carriers. After using every plane I had to kill Ted's carrier, Ted struck back, and I didn't have a single airplane to defend with. He also had the knockout blow, which enabled him to attack multiple carriers with one strike. It looked like I was going to be toast! Luckily, the special power of one of my targeted carriers allowed me to draw one extra defense card. I luckily drew the "Lost Target" card, and Ted's attack armada was lost in the clouds. Whew!

Luckily, the loss only took away one of my Zero squadrons, so my strike fleet was still in tact. Again, I launched a series of assaults, and one by one, Ted's remaining targets were destroyed. Overall, a tense, engaging, fun game that took well under an hour to play.

Next up, Ted, Michael, and I decided to try out my new copy of Warrior Knights. We each mustered our nobles and deployed them to three corners of the kingdom being carved up. After a turn or two we figured out the basic mechanics of play, and another epic struggle for global domination was underway. Ted took a strategy of deploying fewer nobles, but had each packed with a greater number of troops. This enabled him to successfully assault cities in rapid succession, while Michael and I conducted a larger number of slow sieges. I took an early lead in victory points, staying safely across the river from the squabbling of Sir Ted and Sir Michael. I concentrated on maintaining my roles as head of the church, eventually declaring Ted as a heretic and placing a bounty on his head.

Ted meanwhile secured a powerful role from the Imperial Senate (aka Kingdom Assemby), which enabled him to buy a victory point each turn, though at a high cost. Somehow, Michael and I also allowed Ted to secure the kingdom's wine and spice concessions, giving Ted a hefty cash influx each turn, thus enabling him to buy these VPs. Ted, then deftly convinced Michael that I was winning and sent him across the river to attack my most powerful city. Argh! I could almost hear Ted doing his best Dark Lord of the Sith laughter impression on the other side of the table as Michael and I fought it out. Ted was a master diplomat in this game!

Warrior Knights soon entered its final stages with Michael firmly in control of the senate, but with the least victory points. I was somewhere in the middle, and Ted, unfortunately to the surprise of both Michael and I, with a solid win! I really enjoyed the game. Now that we know how to play, I'd like to add at least one or two more players to the game and perhaps a few more VPs per person to the central pool to make the game last just a bit longer.

Mini fix...

Hope you all had fun on 5/12's session....

I had my own small gaming session yesterday. I played Bohnanza with both my parents and my wife. It was a blast as expected. I won by a single point, followed by my wife, and then my parents. Yes, I know we have talked about "conceding" victory to the newbies (ie my parents), but I just had to win to tame the evil gaming-addiction gods.

Then we played one session of Coloretto (I had to go to work so we only did one full round). Light simple fun as always. No carebear-coloretto though. The animosity had built up quite a bit with Bohnanza, and it was unleashed in coloretto. My wife won, I came in second, and then my parents.

Hopefully me and my wife haven't discouraged them from playing again. We'll see.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Off Topic Geek Stuff: Intergalactic Nemesis

Those of you that don't mind a quick trip up to Austin and are fans of science fiction might enjoy checking out the Intergalactic Nemesis Trilogy. My wife and I went last night and found it to be quite fun.

Side note: If you go, please be careful when driving in east Austin. We made a wrong turn on East 7th Street, and my wife got to see her first real life crack dealers.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

SABG's Newest Member

Kendahl reports his wife and new baby daughter are doing well. Congratulations, Kendahl! Its not too early to begin teaching her valuable gaming skills like color recognition, numbers, auction methods, and perhaps even squad-level infantry tactics.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Knizia-Fest, 5 June 2006

Last night we celebrated one of the greatest board game designers of all time, Reiner Knizia, by conducting an all-Knizia game night (well, sort of). Thank you, Ted, for coming up with what I think was a great idea. Security, please escort that disruptive guy in the Doom Marine costume out the back door, please!

Knizia games I was involved in were Colossal Arena (my favorite light game); Modern Art (which I discovered is even better when you get the rules correct); and Pikomino. I also saw Ra, Beowulf, and Merchants of Amsterdam getting played. Overall, I would declare Knizia-fest a success.

I also managed to spend about half my night playing the non-Knizia game Indonesia. I do enjoy complex business games like this one, and I especially enjoyed experiencing the 18XX DNA you could see pumping through the veins of this one.

Like 18XX games, I think Indonesia might require 3-4 plays and/or a lot of study before one could be seriously competitive against players who know the game well. I used to play 18XX games against a group of older guys who played nothing execpt 18XX games every week for over five years. The learning curve was a frustrating, humbling experience for about 3 months, but victory was intensely rewarding when I dominated my first game of 1830 against this hardcore group. Then, we'd switch to 1835, and I'd suck again for another month or so...

Anyway, I enjoyed Indonesia. Due to the learning curve there was a fair amount of downtime during other players' turns, which was artificially worse due to the fact that I was hungry and really wanting to play more Knizia games. Still, the morning after I do find myself thinking about the game and how I could have played better, which is always a very good sign!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

And my wife thought I was a geek...

...because I built a dice tower in 3 days (plus I added stuff Ben's prototype didn't have like the nifty bouncy sticky insides, crenelations, windows), I have a laminator to protect cards/playeraids/etc., poster frame AND a plexi for wargames, tackle boxes for counters, etc etc etc etc.

Check this out:

Off-Topic, Geek Alert: Star Wreck

An interesting, for geeks-only diversion I watched this weekend is Star Wreck. It's a fan-made, 1.5 hour long Star Treck parody with suprisingly great special effects (screen shot from film above). If you can stand reading the subtitles (its produced in Finnish), and you enjoy Star Trek, Babylon 5, and similar things, I think you'll enjoy.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Your Chadness

Chad! I need your email for the Doom RPG. The one I recovered from your blogger account seems defunct. We will be playing a game this Sunday @ 7 (short notice, I know). Send a message over to the gmail account on the front page if you want to be added into the email ring for organizing this particular venture. Everyone else is welcome to inquire as well.

Google Calendar Established.... Testing

Friday, June 02, 2006

When I am bored...

I was bored a few days ago (around 8am when I came back from work), and was starting to feel the withdrawal pangs from not having played anything in a while. Usually going to this site, or BGG, or catching up with my gaming podcasts, etc. takes the edge off this urge to play. But those weren't helping anymore. I knew that only one thing comes closer to actually playing than the aforementioned. ....Buying new games...

So I was reading online that Wizards was discontinuing Hecatomb TCG. Unfortunate because I was interested in one day trying it out. Using a more streamlined formula based on the tried and tested and highly succesful MtG in a dark evil setting sounded just perfect. Then the bulb lit up in my head. I went to ebay, and lo and behold, the boxes of booster packs are being sold like candy (with prices that low too!). I quickly logged in and ordered 1 booster box of the only 3 sets that came out. Being a master rationalizer I thought that by discontinuing the series, the game turned from TCG to a regular card game (well, almost) with lots of cards. I got the three sets for cheap ($45 with shipping when each box usually sold for ~$50 or more). I just finished organizing 936 cards, and the game simply looks great. Very dark theme, great art, cool mechanics. All kinds of different strategies popped up in my head as I opened each pack. I was pleased. If anyone wants to play sometime, let me know. I'll make you a deck. It can also be multiplayer.

So how about you fellow gamer... what do you do to calm your thirst when you can't play?

BTW, this morning when I came from work, I preordered Samurai Lords AND Barbarossa to Berlin....joining my long list of wargaming preorders.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

War of the Ring: Battles of the Third Age

I just spent yesterday riding an airplane back from North Carolina, studying the rules to the new expansion to Fantasy Flight Games' War of the Ring, entitled Battles of the Third Age. Besides providing a balancing patch to the main game, the box includes two additional mini-games: The Battle of Rohan and the Battle of Gondor.

My out-of-the-box impressions were quite good. The map boards for each mini-game were painted by John Howe and are among the best I have seen in a board game. The miniatures were as good as in the original game. Artwork on the cards is fantastic. I was surprised at the size of the rulebook for the mini-games, which is approximately 30 pages. For the battle scenarios, significant depth has been added to the combat system and each unit has a special ability that can be activated under special circumstances. Terrain effects are much more prevalent as well. Another thing that impresses me is how strong the Ents are made to be in the Battle for Rohan scenario as well as the main game. Remember when the Entwood devours Saruman's entire army at the end of the battle for Helm's Deep? Well, this is now very possible.

Even with the Ents, I'm skeptical that the Free Peoples have received enough of a boost in the main game. The Shadow forces receive Corsairs, Dunlendings, the Balrog, and another version of the Witch King in the patch, which only seem to make them stronger. Still, I trust that balancing was a major focus of the patch, so I'm sure there's subtle advantages present in the new event cards present in the game.

So, who wants to play? I'd like to coordinate a game of the Battle of Rohan with someone this coming Monday if possible.