Saturday, June 30, 2007

Machine Guns, Battle Axes, and Cute Pandas

Chris and I formed up for duty at 1000 hours at Dragons Lair to run FFG's new big box game, Tide of Iron, through the paces. Though Chris had played once before against Steve, and I had read the rules twice, we were still a bit intimidated by the beast. We picked the second of the two introductory "early bird" scenarios, depicting the Americans trying to force three ammo-laden halftracks through German lines and over a bridge to safety in just six short turns.

We rolled for sides, and I was awarded with the green forces of goodness. Chris deployed his evil grey forces, including two nasty machine gun teams, a bunch of riflemen and elite veterans, as well as two specialized anti-tank squads. Besides my three halftracks, I had a mortar team and a fairly good sized contingent of infantry, including my own share of elite troopers.

On turn one I boldly ran forward to seize a couple nearby objectives, discounting the fact that Chris had his well-oiled machine guns siting in Op Fire mode, ready to mow my boys down. I made it to my objectives, but two of the four squads I sent to do the job were splattered all over the green French grass. Lesson learned! From then on I was careful to respect the power of the German MG.

I implemented a strategy of first laying down fire from long range using the heavy MGs mounted on my halftracks to pin down Chris' troops. I would then follow-up with a mortar barrage to further suppress defenders in the key areas I was after that turn. Finally I would rush my boys forward out of the woods to do a close assault on the panicked defenders. I was able to orchestrate this sequence two times, which succeed in clear a nice path to the bridge for me.

Chris made several valiant attempts to reinforce his beleaguered forces, but I was able to cut them down with halftracks as they marched on the board. Thankfully I was able to sabotage his heavy weapons team (i.e., mortar) reinforcement team before they were able to deploy. I was also, just barely, able to keep his anti-tank teams from getting in range of my ammo carrying halftracks.

So, after about 2.5 hours of play the Americans were able to declare victory, which seems only fitting for the 4th of July holiday season. Chris put up a very spirited defense and did an excellent job teaching me the finer points of the game and let me roll back more than one stupid move. I had a great time, and I look forward to many more plays of Tide of Iron in the near future!

Taking a mind cooling break, we decided to try out 2-player Zooloretto. This game is pretty much Coloretto with a fair bit more going on in terms of building a zoo, breeding your creatures, and managing concession stands. Chris somehow mastered the art of sparking uncontrollable animal romance and soon baby critters were spawning in almost every pen of his zoo. I forget the final tally, but I think Chris pretty much doubled my score. This is a short, light, fun family-style game with a terrific theme. I look forward to playing a full five-player game. We didn't play with any of the expansions yet, but they all seem to add nice features to the game, and the petting zoo in particular almost seems like an effective mini-patch to the game.

Lastly we played Runebound: Sands of Al-Kalim. I'll keep this short, but I'd say this is, hands down, the best version of the Runebound system I've yet played. Its short, very interesting, fun, and even the losing player has an epic journey through the game. FFG really added innovative mechanics to the base system to make this a very fascinating adventure! I was able to squeak out a win in the last turn, but the game could have gone either way.

Many thanks to Chris for a fantastic way to end the drought in my gaming life. My thanks also go to Jon and Steve for stopping by to help add to the fun.

On one interesting side note, I don't think I remember SABG ever dropping as much cash in DL as I saw today. Chris and Jon injected Star Wars Pocketmodel crack into their veins; Steve picked up Epic BattleLore; and I purchased the new World War 2 version of Wings of War.

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At 9:32 PM, June 30, 2007, Blogger Carlos Pena said...

Sounds like I missed a great session. This is a great report. Makes me think that there is no way I am going to escape the "Tide" and I might as well give in now. I am also interested in Zooloretto. SOunds like my kids might like this one.

At 10:30 AM, July 01, 2007, Blogger Brian said...

And it's nice to see cash spent at DL. For one-off games (like when I got Notre Dame) it's roughly the same as mail order.

They also have card protectors (for your games you'll play to death) with multiple packs of the same color. Finally! (Although I may skip doing that for Race for the Galaxy, because shuffling will become a bear.

At 10:43 PM, July 01, 2007, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Sounds like an all-day event. Henry is home now, so I've joined the ranks of the sleep deprived, no-free-time parents of newborns.

I guess I'm saying there aren't a lot of games in my immediate future.

ToI sounds awesome, but before i go there I need to get someuseout of the many fine games already in my closet.


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