Session Report: Shifting Sands, 14 Aug 2006
Rob and I faced off for our second match of Shifting Sands. We switched sides for another go at the Campaign scenario, with me being stuck leading the evil Axis forces.
Rob started off very well with his skilled card play beating back my weak Italian desert army from the gates of Tobruk to cower in the Libyan mountains, hoping some Germans would come to their rescue. Seeing the deployable state of my army in Libya and admiring the well motivated Indians, Australians, and British facing me, I decided to turn my attention to the Horn of Africa and my legions in Ethiopia.
I launched a major assault towards Nairobi, running over Rob's weak colonial forces. I was on the verge of knocking him all the way back to South Africa when Rob displayed his talent for spotting when I've left a gap in my lines. He sprinted an infantry battlegroup past my lumbering Italian infantry division to capture my capitol unopposed. Argh!!! Key rule in this game: never leave your capitol ungarrisoned.
Now I had revenge on my mind. I brought my buddy Rommel on to the map and led my Libyan forces for an assault on Tobruk. I think I played about half the cards in my hand in one action round to make a maximum attack. The odds favored me heavily. If I forced Rob to retreat with Tobruk surrounded, he'd loose an entire stack of troops. The only way I couldn't win was to roll a 1 with Rob rolling a 6. Sure enough, that's what happened! No!!! Seeing the red blanket waving in front of me, I attacked again two more times with ever mounting losses (mostly assigned to my friends, the Italians, of course), but his troops held out. So, seeing British tanks on the horizon, I scurried back to the mountains to lick my wounds. I was starting to get nervous.
I still had not yet achieved revenge though, so I fought my Ethiopian legions back into supply, then captured Khartoum and again began my march to Nairobi. Then, I pulled my dream card: Egyptian Revolt. Rob had, I think, only one garisson unit sitting in Egypt, and with Khartoum in my possession I was able to activate a massive revolt across Egypt. I rapidly ran my rebels into most of the key cities of Egypt, racking up serious victory points. Rob had to spend most of the next turn burning his most powerful cards to reposition his troops to mop up my brave but doomed rebels.
While he busied himself chasing my guys around the pyramids, I busied myself stirring up revolt in Iraq. I launched a full-scale Iraqi revolt, then quickly obtained a full alliance with the Vichy French in the Levant. Next, I dropped a full German Mountain Division into Baghdad, and the game was on. I took complete control of Iraq, pushed him out of Jerusalem, then charged across the Sinai to capture the Suez canal. Victory for the evil Axis forces.
Wow, what a good game! This game definitely has a learning curve and a number of tricks. Its a game where you kind of have to know what might happen before it happens, so you can plan a defense against it in case it does. The two games we played developed very differently, so I do think there is a lot of variability and replayability. The key too the whole game is how the various events react against and counter each other and this will certainly be different in each game.
Rob played very well against me and if things hadn't gone my way during a key turn or two, he was set up to really beat up on me. I think this game is very well balanced, and I look forward to playing it again!