Tuesday, June 13, 2006

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.


At 5:30 PM, June 13, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Great write-up Ben.

Nothing to add on Lightning: Midway: great fun, different play for the two sides.

I enjoyed WK a lot, and I think it would be even better with at least one more player. The map was big enough that we didn't interact much. 4-5 is probably best. 6 players is always chaotic in any game.

Despite some complaints from the peanut gallery, I don't think it was that long. Once we knew the rules it moved pretty fast.

I must admit, though, I had a lot trouble separating my cards into 3 groups of 2. I'd get 2 groups with 2 & 4, or 2,2 &3 or something else screwy. Embarassing for a guy with multiple advanced degrees.

At 6:19 PM, June 13, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Hey, at least you kept the different colors straight! :)

I too thought the game moved right along. Each player's mini-turn was maybe 30 seconds to 1 minute, which kept the action fast.

More players would make a tighter map, which would make for more combat, and this is always good in my book.

One of the best things I like about this game is the fate deck. I'd gladly throw my dice tower on the camp fire if every game had such an elegant mechanic!

At 6:21 PM, June 13, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Note: I'll be out of town next week, so someone else will have to perform Google Calendar duties.

I'm glad to here Jon picked up Battles of the Third Age. I foresee this hitting the table sometime soon!

At 8:27 PM, June 13, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Ben, excellent report. Again, the key words are gaming vicariously.

At 8:31 PM, June 13, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Ben, I was reading on BGG that they are recommending 12-15 VP per player to make it longer and have more battles.

At 9:15 PM, June 13, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Yep, I think that would be about right. About two more turns, and perhaps Michael and I would have realized how badly we had been duped by Ted!

At 1:16 PM, June 14, 2006, Blogger Dennis Ugolini said...

Other games played by the peanut gallery:

You Must Be an Idiot!
A quick party game in which everyone draws a card, with 20% of the cards requiring you to be an Idiot. Someone reads a trivia question and everyone answers on paper, but the Idiots must answer incorrectly. Players may then accuse each other of being Idiots. Points are scored for getting answers right, being an unaccused Idiot, being an unjustly accused normal, or correctly accusing an Idiot.

There are a couple of skills to the game. You want to pick trivia questions of intermediate difficulty -- too easy and everyone spots the Idiot, too hard and no one can. You also want to master the well-placed bluff to draw lots of wrong accusations (all worth +1 to you and -1 to the accuser). Newcomer Bob Purnell had two well-placed bluffs along with two only-he-got-it-right answers for the runaway win.

Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel
Players act as Doomtroopers, heavily-armed corporate Space Marines who are battling the Dark Legion for fun and profit. This was a top-five game for me in college, along with Magic: The Gathering, Diplomacy, Space Hulk, and Bridge/Spades/Hearts. It's also by far the most riotous of that group, as the point of the game is to screw with your "partners" at the same time you are trying to complete your mission, since not everyone is rewarded equally.

Alas, this turns out to be a very group-dependent game, as our intrepid heroes blew through the mission in only half the required time, and only then started meekly poking each other. Thanks to exceptional accuracy with his Grenade Launcher, John easily outpointed everyone else combined.

Ticket to Ride: Marklin
Basically Ticket to Ride with a German board and the inclusion of passengers, who can make a Grand Tour of Germany for big points. I don't think I like this addition; it seems to reward those who get an early start on their routes due to the right colors coming up, and there's a lot of draws from the deck once passenger cards choke the display, both increasing the luck in the game. I'll still vote Europe as my favorite, though I'm not a big fan of any of them. John (155) leapt past Bob (150) and myself (145) by scoring the most completed routes, which Bob or I could've tied for if we'd had the stones to draw routes on our last turn.

Including "You Must Be an Idiot", John had now gone 2nd-1st-1st on the night, breaking the spirit of the rest of the group. This just left Rick and I for...

Memoir '44
We played Arnhem Bridge, in which Rick's Germans had my entrenched British totally surrounded, but had to get most of their material across the bridge chokepoint. Rick managed to shell away two of my units from a distance, but that's where his fun ended. Troops in cities (-1 inf./-2 armor) with sandbags (-1/-1) are an awfully tough nut to crack, and in the time it took the German infantry to get to close assualt range, I was able to pick them off one by one. This looks like a really hard one for Germany to win; the trick may be to ignore your armor altogether (painful for a German commander), get infantry in all three regions just out of range, and then rush everyone in tight as quickly as possible.

At 8:21 PM, June 14, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

I am so glad to see people playing Memoir '44. I really need to bust it out sometime. Actually, the game I really need to bust out is C&C: Ancients now that GMT just charged me $45 for the expansion! Perhaps I can convince someone to give Zama a shot.

At 2:31 AM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Dennis... I may be wrong (I'm at work and can't confirm this), but you are not supposed to add the defensive bonuses from combined defensive structures. You are supposed to take the higher bonus for infantry and armor defense, AND any other special defensive bonus conferred by all the structures in the given hex. So if in a village with a sandbag, again off the top of my head, you get -1 infantry, -2 armor, tanks can't enter, and protection from first flag rolled.

BTW, great report. I've never thought about getting any of the expansions because I've only been able to play it like 5 times since it came out. Like Ben, would like to try some of the scenarios I still haven't seen.


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