Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Daytime Gaming, Friday, 2 Mar 2007

A few of us are gathering for daytime gaming on Friday, starting early and ending no later than 4PM. Please post in the comments if you'd like to be included in our battle planning efforts.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I would like to sell this old game, Blood Bowl, first edition. But I don't know how much to charge for it. I've tried, e-bay, bardgamegeek, vintage board games, and a half a dozen other places. No one has a copy. Can anyone give me a good web site or catalog where I can look up the value of this? Thanks.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Hunting Party honored by The Dice Tower

For those of you who haven't listened to the latest episode of The Dice Tower podcast, the board game Hunting Party, co-created by one of SABG's founding members, Patrick, and published by his company Seaborn Games, made it onto one of Tom Vasel's famous Top 10 Lists. Hunting Party was his #9 best "Hybrid Game" and was credited for being a great mix of Eurogame, RPG, and American-style game mechanics and theme. Way to go, Patrick!

Sunday, February 25, 2007


I don't know if anyone has ever heard of this, but I just was told about this Massive Multi Player Online game a couple of weeks ago. I was completly blown away. The level of detail is very deep and the graphics are like nothing I have ever seen. Check out the site and dowload the trailer (it rocks!). This is what the game is like. This is not just a promotional film. I did the 14-day free trial and was not asked to provide credit card info. I am tempted to trade in my WoW for this. At least check out the trailer.

The dowload took only about 30 minutes, as opposed to the WoW which took several hours. The learning curve for EVE is a little long (at least a couple of hours for the tutorial), but the game is not as difficult as it might seem. The story line is very interesting.

I think that because it is a little more comples than say WoW, it probably does not enjoy the same level of popularity. But I think the added complexity and depth will add to the level of play. My 14 day trial just expired and I am very tempted to "Go Live"

BattleLore fans...

I wasn't completely sold on the Call to Arms expansion until I read this. This expansion looks sweet.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Three Cheers for Eggertspiele

Eggertspiele, the makers of the recently released Space Dealer board game just sent me a complete set of replacement timers, all the way from Germany. The original timers provided with the game were significantly inaccurate to the level of +/- 15 seconds on a 1-minute timer for a couple of them. Postage on the package was 6 Euro, which I would imagine is a substantial portion of the publisher's profit from the original game I purchased. My copy of the game has now been inherited by Simon, so I look forward to hearing his report on the accuracy and quality of these new sand timers. I'm very impressed with Eggertspiele's commitment to customer service!

Monday Gaming

If you don't game Monday, odds are you won't game any more this February! Why risk it? The bag will be at Dragon's Lair in all of its glory. Will you?


Ted Goes Berzerk!

Ted had an amazing run today. First a resounding victory in Perikles against Steve and I. His point total was in the 70's while Steve and I were tied at around 45. Amazingly, this was Ted's first time playing, so he's a natural at ancient Greek politics and warfare. This game gets better each time I play it... a true keeper in my book. I'm even growing to like the combat system more as I perceive additional layers of subtlety to it.

We rounded out the morning with a quick 3-player game of Nexus Ops. This game is truly Twilight Imperium 3 in 45 minutes or less, which means I like it a lot. There aren't many fun, light 3-player wargames, and this one fit the bill quite well. Ted again dominated for most of the game, with Steve a few points back in second and me even further behind. Ted, you da man!

Oh, and thank you, Ted, for the delicious empenadas and to both Steve and Ted for making the morning journey to my place. These Saturday morning sessions are awesome!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Once More, With FEELING!

We had a good turnout last Saturday for early morning games, but not so much for afternoon/evening gaming. We're not able to host Saturday morning (we'll be at Brian's the night before and there are other things that need doing), but we will once again throw open the house to gaming in the afternoon and evening. We'll start around noon. RSVP in the comments.

You should go to Brian's as well. Game two days in a row. I know you want to.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Gaming Friday 2/23

Jacqui and I are hosting on Friday Night. Come one, Come all, but RSVP. I will have been working for twelve straight days, so gaming is mandatory.

We could play Walk the Dogs if there are any left after "Bitey's" dinner. Oh, the caninity!


Monday, February 19, 2007

2/19 report

DOOM avec expansion: We started late (1030am) because the DM (Jon) got there late. We had a lot of fun despite my demotion to simple 'cleric' 'casting' buffs on my fellow teammates (Michael, Ben). I did have a lot of fun as a regular marine, until I lost my valuable grenades. After that my character's best option (or....Michael with his evil coercive powers convinced me of it) was to transfer my Ready action tokens to my teammates as they needed it (I had the ability to do this). It is boring being the 'cleric' in a boardgame, but heck, it was towards the end of the game. We finished in about 2hrs. Unfortunately we weren't savvy enough to go after the corpse in the center of the last room, which would have blown up attacking the never ending hordes. Another bad day in Mars for the marines.

This game does a great job at creating the ambiance, and at implementing the 'essentials' of Doom the computer game (weapons, buffs, monster behavior, etc). Great fun. May need this in my collection.

Perikles: Finally played with 5 players. Steve joinedus. I really like this game because of its combination of mechanics (combination of mechanics seems to be a theme for 2006... Perikles, Mission Red Planet, Leonardo da Vinci, etc). Like in any other area control game, this game shines with 5. Plus of course, the theme is cool.

Coloretto, Ruse and Bruse, Fairy tale, No Thanks.... Just great fillers to end my stay at DL today. The rest of the crew stayed for a game of Manifest Destiny. My brain couldn't handle a new 4hr-long GMT game. My wife was surprised I was home so 'early' (6pm).

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Ben (?) and I are showing up early tomorrow. I can be there by 10am. Will be bringing a few of the usuals that are in need of some lovin': Perikles, Hermagor, Shogun...

The Dime? Well Combat Commander has reached it, with another devastating loss on my part (thanks in part to the endless rainfall of american units [Jon pulling about 6-7 unit-generating events])....meaning that I'd like to take a break from it, and play some of my other dust-gathering wargames that need some affection too. Unfortunately they are longer, and require some planning ahead. Of course, if I'm tempted with a possible game #11 of CC , and say...people start playing Stage II, I won't say no to CC.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Newsflash: Dunlendings Don't Suck After All

Jeff and I played a third game of War of the Ring (with the expansion set) this morning, starting at around 7 AM. Jeff had already taken the time to set up the game prior to my arrival, so we were able to start the instant I poured a hot cup of his finely brewed coffee.

For this game, Jeff again took the Free People, and I took the poor, misunderstood folk of the Dark Lord of Evil. We've posted enough session reports of this game recently, so I won't go into quite as much detail this time. Here's a quick rundown of some of the highlights:
  • Gondor bites it. Taking the subtle approach, I launched everything in Mordor towards Minas Tirith and succeeded in a few turns. Jeff launched a counterstrike from Dol Amroth to retake the city from my depleted army. Before he could get there, I brought up the Southrons (from the South, of course), to slide in behind Jeff, take Dol Amroth, and encircle his Gondor Army in the field, where they would stay the rest of the game.
  • Dunlending Zerg Rush (aka Rohan also bites it). I played a combo of three cards or so that blossomed something like 14 Isengard units in one turn, most of which were Dunlendings (aka Hillmen) and elite wolfriders. Poof! Instant army. These not only kept the Ents well back from Orthanc during their two assaults, but also allowed me to solidly encamp around Helms Deep. I thought the Dunlendings would be totally weak (one hit kills two of them), but they spawn so fast and as long as you have a few orcs around to take the hits they really add mass to your army. Rohan tried to launch a rescue mission from Eldoras, but I swept down from Dol Guldur and put a stop to it.
  • A Well Planned and Executed Fellowship. I don't think I've quite gotten the hang of how to mess over the Fellowship. Jeff lost Gandalf just outside of Rivendell to a 3-tile. The Balrog was in Moria, but apparently he was taking a snooze when the Fellowship came through, as all he accomplished was to have an Eye tile permanently discarded with no effect. Argh! Fortunately, Strider fell victim to The Lure of the Ring card, and Jeff decided to kill him rather than take the tree corruption. A slight asterix goes on this game, as I forgot to stick the Smeagol tiles into the bag until after the Fellowship had visited Lorien. I actually think this helped Jeff, as Smeagol would have been eliminated by the Lorien visit. Smeagol came up on the next tile drawn, and he guided the Fellowship all the way to Mordor. Jeff did a great job leading the Fellowship and entered Mordor with only a corruption point or two and still having 5 companions (including Smeagol).
  • A Close Finish! The strong and healthy Fellowship entered Mordor with the Dark Forces having 8 military VPs and huge armies all over the board. It was going to be a race to the finish. Unfortunately Lorien was well defended with half the Elves in the game plus Galadriel. I had a moderate sized force (about 17 armies in two stacks) in Dol Guldur, so I marched them straight north towards the Woodland Realm. Leading the stacks were the Witch King, Mouth of Sauron, and 6 Nazgul. Again, I wasn't being subtle. On the final turn, I had 5 orcs left in my army vs. one or two elves in his stronghold. A second force of another 5 Easterlings was one space away. If I rolled well, I could take the game in one attack. If things went badly it might take several attacks. Jeff was one space on the Mordor track away from victory. Seven dice were in the hunt box. About half the tiles in the bag would give Jeff a win. About 25% would result in a Shadow corruption victory. Jeff decided to chance it, and we drew forth a red tile. Corruption victory for the Shadow and tough loss for the good guys.
It was a very close game, and Jeff deserves accolades for his strong play. I floundered around a bit after I took out Rohan and Gondor, when I should have already been marching north. This delay of several turns nearly cost me the game. I'm not sure what Jeff could have done differently in Mordor, as he had almost a full Fellowship plus many of the defensive cards in play. I think he could have healed them up just a bit more perhaps, but he still could have been the victim of bad luck.

In any event, a great game and a very fun morning. As an added bonus I was privileged to meet Steve in person and see Chad again, who were engaged in games of BattleLore. Thank you very much for being such gracious hosts, Jeff and Amy!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Disaster for the Human Race in BattleLore 2-15

Today I set up to battle against Warlord Shifani and his hordes of goblins. I was aided by stout dwarves and a 20 foot spider the troops called Cupcake.

I had a decent commander and a decent warrior plus a newbie cleric. He opted for an extreme cleric and a mage.

As usual in BattleLore, the cards dictated the strategy. I had only cards for the left flank. I thought I could make it work, though, because my left was composed of dwarves, my best troops, facing his worst troops, goblins, on his right. A no brainer. The problem was that the scenerio set me up with a gap between the center and the left; pushing ahead on the left would make the gap wider. So, I positioned a unit of cavalry in the gap.

The doughty dwarves pushed forward and crashed into the goblin line on turn 2. They left their heavy infantry behind for speed i.e. I played Blue Banner and could move all the dwarves except the red unit. After some truly bad rolls, no goblin casualties, but at least they only killed one dwarf in the counter attack.

Then disaster struck. The enemy mage hit my line with Chain Lightning. The rolls were very good, many humans fell and a cavalry unit was completely wiped out. This was the cav unit that was guarding the gap on the dwarves' right flank, leaving the goblins free to swarm over the hapless Scotts. This they immediately did. The dwarves took some casualties but retreated out of the trap before they could be wiped out.

I straightened out the dwarven line and brought up the heavy infantry to support. Schifani hit my center with a lone unsupported cavalry, got a retreat, then hit them again. A human unit, weakened by the lightning, was wiped out.

Then I played my trump card. My cleric caused the very trees to attack his goblins from behind while the dwarves came in from the front. But the trees failed to get a single goblin on the vital left flank, only scoring a couple hits on the right. The dwarves failed to get a single hit as well; stupid Scotts Gits.

Schifani's cleric then healed his troops, all goblin casualties were returned. The cavalry unit in the center killed another unit with aid from a couple more infantry he moved up. He now had 5 trophies and I had not managed to get one. I conceded the game and fled the battlefied.

Since that game was so short, we played the same scenerio again.

This time the cards were all for the right flank. So, I pushed ahead with the right and center. This time I took my time, moving only one space at a time so the heavy infantry could keep up, and moving the whole line abreast. This also did not work out; as I was inching forward, he continually hit my line with archery and spells like Swarm. He would only get a hit here or there, above average rolling but nothing severe, but by the time I came to grips my two red units were down to one man each.

I played BattleLord card so I could hit him with the whole line at once together with a Berserk card, but the dice, who really hate me, said that I could only move 3 green units and one red. This was not good. I had to leave behind a blue and a red unit behind and none of my units were supported except Cupcake the spider. Cupcake was dismal. The first goblin who timidly shoved a spear at her ran it though the eye into the brain. The first counter attack on the spider unit killed it before it could cause a single hit.

Schifani then played a spell card, I did not look to see which one, which gave all units +1 die and caused kills on a lore die, together with a Infantry Forward card. I defended with a Shield Wall card. (Question: the shield wall lets a unit ignore the first color roll, but what if he is using a card and gets a hit on a lore roll? Does the unit get to ignore the first hit? S. said he didn't think so, so the shield wall failed to stop a single hit.) S. Rolled spectacularly, despite the shield wall he wiped out three units in one turn, which made four with the spider. I conceded again.

Final Analysis: The game seems to favor the defender greatly. The attacker has to move in slowly, especially with heavy units, which gives the defender plenty of time to store up the good cards for counter attack while the attacker burns a lot of cards just getting up to the line. When the attacker hits the line, unless he has a card like Blue Banner, he hits with only 2-3 units; the defender can then come around the flanks and put on some heavy hits. Do not even try to attack unless you have a card that lets you activate 4+ units in one zone together when contact is made.

The game also favors luck more than strategy. Shifani was wise to sit and let me come to him; but his drawing some excellent spell cards and a couple of terrific die rolls are what really settled the battle. I know that every loser blames it on the dice, but I think I'm justified here.

The best cards seem to come from Wizard and Cleric, especially cleric, so invest heavily in them. Shifani did and it worked well.

Saturday All-Day Gaming

Saturday Ben and I are playing round three of our War of the Ring series at my place. Anyone else interested in coming over for early morning wargames (or light wargames, or Risk-variants, or whatever genre WotR is) is welcome. You'll need to BYOO (bring your own opponent) though, since Amy won't be around in the morning. After the morning two-player gaming, we're opening up the house to multiplayer gaming during the afternoon and evening. Come when you can; leave when you have to. RSVP in the comments, and if you know what range of times you'll be there, mention that so others can plan. If there's a specific game you want to schedule, mention that as well.


Kingmaker admin 3

This is it for now, I promise!

The War Council

How many of you, like Balrog and I, have openly wept when you drew a Town card?

If a noble actively fighting in a battle has a Bishop card or cards, then his faction’s War Council may include a Level 1 cleric. A noble with an Archbishop card or cards may include a level 2 cleric. Bishop and Archbishop cards may not be combined to reach higher levels.

Any noble that possesses any 2 or more town cards other than Bristol qualifies for a level 1 rogue, warrior, or wizard (his faction’s choice). If 2 nobles on the same side have 2 or more Town cards each, then they may each buy a different War Council member, but they cannot combine to reach a higher level.

Any noble with Bristol may provide a level 2 wizard.

Any noble in possession of Carisbrooke castle may provide a level 2 warrior.

If any noble providing clerics, rogues, warriors, or wizards is killed or captured during the battle, this catastrophe causes the War Council to be treated as if it no longer has the council member that the lost noble provided. If more cards are held than the newly established level allows, then the player must discard lore cards from his hand until he is within limits. In addition, any lore cards played “out of character” will cost additional lore as described in the rulebook. This penalty remains in effect even if the poor noble is later liberated.

Nobles in Battle

So how do we represent the nobles and heirs in a game of Battlelore? Their position on the field is indicated by using the counters from Kingmaker. And, for the most part, we’ll use a modified version of how Commands and Colors: Ancients handles Leaders.

1. All units with a noble or nobles attached hit on a lore symbol (since these lore die rolls are being used for something, they do not add to the lore stockpile).
2. Player-nobles and Commanders (if not a player-noble), when attached, make their unit Bold.
3. If a unit with nobles or heirs attached takes casualties but is not wiped out, 2 dice are rolled for each noble/heir present; 2 lore symbols equal the death of that character. If the unit is wiped out, only a single die is rolled, and a lore symbol indicates the death of that particular heir/noble. Any unattached and surviving nobles (and escorted heirs, but only if they travel with their supervising noble) are captured if an enemy unit elects to move or “take ground” into their hex unless they are able to roll a flag. If the lost unit was killed by missiles or magic, the attacking enemy unit does not elect to enter their hex, or the noble rolled a flag in the face of pursuit, then the lucky survivor may retreat up to 3 hexes if desired, and is free to attach to any unit in its path of retreat. All nobles must roll for their own flags. Nobles/heirs on the last row of the battlefield may not attempt to roll a flag.
3. A killed noble adds one to the opposing player’s flag total for purposes of victory. A killed heir, or a captured heir or noble do not affect victory conditions (this may seem a bit odd, but often the opposing side in the Wars of the Roses claimed to only be trying to rescue the King from “evil advisors”…in addition, captured nobles may still be saved if their side is victorious).
4. Nobles may be ordered separately by using up one of the orders on the Command Card, so long as they are in a section to which that card applies. If ordered, they may move up to 3 squares. An heir may never leave his/her assigned unit (and will surrender immediately if left alone), but may accompany a noble if desired.

Winning a Battle

The number of flags required to win a battle is one-half (rounded up) of the total number of units and creatures in the opposing army. Flags are scored by eliminating enemy units, creatures, and nobles.


The game will last 15 turns (5 game years), as described in the Short Game, with standard victory conditions as written in the rulebook.

Alliances - dependent upon number of players.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Thursday or Saturday?

Anyone free at anytime on Thursday, or Saturday morning? I need to play either Kingmaker, Battlelore, or both, in order to test all this rubbish out.


Kingmaker admin 2

This picks up where I last left off. Next post will be how the Crown Cards determine your War Council, and how to represent the nobles and heirs on a Battlelore game board. I have openings for up to 7 players, who only need to inform me of their selected noble, and I'll kick off the initial set up. Feel free to e-mail me at if you'd like to play, or if you just have questions. I think we'll have several opportunities for practice games before anything meaningful results.

Resolving Battles

Anytime a battle must be fought, and the Crown Card totals are LESS than a 4-1 disparity, a game of Battlelore will be played.

The first thing to do is determine the overall commander and command level for each side. The commander will be the noble with the highest Crown Card troop points total in the largest faction on that side (alliances will be discussed later). An untitled noble has a Command rating of 3. A titled noble has a Command rating of 4. If an uncrowned heir accompanies the commander on the field, his Command rating rises by one; if a crowned heir accompanies the commander, his Command rating rises by two. The bonus for heirs is not cumulative. This allows for a range of 3-6, and reflects the army leadership's level of prestige.

Card Conversion

Percy: 1 Red Cavalry, 1 Blue Foot, 2 Green Archers
All other titled nobles: 1 Red Cavalry, 1 Green Archer
Non-titled nobles: 1 Blue Cavalry

All units derived from a noble and his title must be placed in the same section of the battlefield as that noble (his retinue).

Steward of the Royal Household: 1 Blue Foot, 1 Green Archer
Warden of the Cinque Ports: 1 Blue Foot, 1 Green Archer
Admiral of England: 1 Blue Foot, 1 Green Archer
Treasurer of England: 1 Blue Foot, 1 Green Archer
Constable of Dover: 1 Blue Foot, 1 Green Archer
Chancellor of England: 1 Blue Foot, 1 Green Archer
Marshal of England: 2 Blue Cavalry, 1 Green Archer, 1 Green Crossbow (use archer figures with green crossbow flag)
Warden of the Northern Marches: 1 Blue Foot, 1 Green Archer
Chancellor of Lancaster: 1 Blue Foot, 1 Green Archer
Chancellor of Cornwall: 1 Blue Foot, 1 Green Archer
Chamberlain of Chester (Wales): 1 Blue Goblin Foot, 1 Green Goblin Cavalry, 1 Green Goblin Archer
Constable of the Tower: 1 Blue Dwarf Foot, 1 Green Dwarf Crossbow

Extra Troops for Designated Areas:
Warden of the Northern Marches: Hill Giant, 1 Green Foot, 1 Green Archer
Chancellor of Lancaster: 2 Green Foot, 1 Green Archer
Chancellor of Cornwall: 2 Green Foot, 1 Green Archer
Chamberlain of Chester (Wales): Giant Spider, 1 Red Goblin Foot, 2 Green Goblin Foot, 1 Green Goblin Cavalry
Constable of the Tower: Hill Giant, 1 Red Dwarf Foot, 2 Blue Dwarf Foot
Bishops: 1 Blue Cavalry

Burgundian: 1 Red Cavalry
Flemish: 1 Red Foot
Scots: 1 Red Foot
Saxons: 1 Blue Cavalry
Once mercenaries fight in any battle, they are returned to the Crown Card deck unless the player can “pay” them. A Free Move card, a Writ, or any transferable Crown Card may be discarded to satisfy this requirement.

The War Council - next

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I know, I know....

... broken record...beating a dead horse... Yes, we all agree that nothing compares to face to face gaming, but the sad truth is that I'm moving to Galveston around June, and don't know how long it will be until I get some gaming going.... not to mention.... the fact that I'm... going to mis... (sniff, cough)....

ANYWAYS, I need to gain some converts before I leave.

Anyone remotely interested in trying out Vassal online? For those of you not aware of it, Vassal is a free downloadable client that connects you to a central network where you can find all kinds of games being played online. Some of the games that can be played include Battle Lore, Combat Commander (I just screen captured that pic blew me away), Twilight Struggle, Hammer of the Scots, EastFront 2, Carcassone, War of 1812, OGRE, etc etc etc... Think about it: no long setup/pick up times, most things automated, missing out on Monday night gaming doesn't need to be an issue anymore!

All you have to do is click here to begin. The How-to guide is here. May seem intimidating, but I can walk you through it. It's a lot simpler than it looks. Just shoot me an email, or call me.

Manifest Destiny Next Monday?

Dragon's Lair is having the Spring Clearance sale. Alas, nothing much on the table. Al noticed a copy of Manifest Destiny. It so happens that I recently picked this up in a math trade. Jon also indicated he'd like to try. I can bring it next week. Manifest Destiny is a modified version of Age of Renaissance.

It's a long game. If we start at 5:30 and cover the rules in half an hour, we'll probably finish by 11pm. (I figure the 2nd game would shave an hour off that ... first games are always slower). It can play 3-5, so we'd have room for two more (I know at least one other person expressed interest). Oh, and the rules are online.

Update -- FYI No gaming at my place this Friday.


Kingmaker admin

Here's a quick first draft. I've written the next section along with the conversion chart, and want to review it a bit longer.


The referee will first determine the number of players, selected nobles, and faction names. The players will receive an equal number of Crown Cards, and will be secretly informed of their starting draw by the referee. The players will assign cards to nobles as in the basic game, and will secretly tell the referee their starting positions on the map. All players will then receive a group message from the “herald” accurately relaying the locations of all nobles and heirs, as well as who possesses what Crown Card. The game is now ready to begin.

Turn Sequence

The first action of each turn will be to draw TWO event cards. Since movement is handled for all factions simultaneously, two cards will ensure enough chaos to wreck plans and create opportunities. The events will be announced and the results applied exactly as in Kingmaker, unless the event card is a Writ or a Free Move. If these are drawn, the referee will randomly and secretly determine which faction gets the card.

Once the Events phase is complete, players will relay their moves for the turn to the referee. This can be done in person, by phone, or by e-mail. If the players have an aim in mind other than simple point-to-point movement, they must be clear and specific. For example, it is perfectly acceptable to instruct the herald that a stack’s orders are to pursue and if able intercept/attack a particular heir or noble. Every turn’s movement will be accomplished in a randomly determined order by faction. If a faction’s heirs or nobles are intentionally intercepted prior to their move by a hostile faction, they are held in place and their move is cancelled.

Once movement is complete, the referee will confirm what players wish to attack a rival faction or conduct a siege. Sieges will be handled normally. Any nobles bottled up by a siege will have the opportunity to sally forth for a field battle if they have enough Crown Card points to prevent a “walkover”. For the purposes of this game, a field battle walkover will be called anytime the Crown Card points superiority is a ratio of 4-1 or greater. Pre-battle diplomacy is encouraged, and, if both players can be satisfied, battle is not required.

Once all conflicts are resolved, the Parliament and Coronation phases are completed. Players will then be notified of their new Crown Card, and a new turn begins.

Resolving Battles


War of the Ring Strategy: The Strider Push

Recently I've been playing a lot of War of the Ring (three games in the last four weeks). With the expansion set both sides seem pretty well balanced, but the true beauty of the game is how both sides have so many different possible approaches to choose from in prosecuting their campaigns. One of the key challenges facing the Free People side is how to earn (and keep) their two additional blue action dice.

Getting the first extra blue die is pretty easy. You simply spend a die to wake up Galadriel once Sauron goes to war. No longer must you quickly slay and resurrect Gandalf the Grey to get this die, which always seemed kind of weird to me. Activating Galadriel seems like a no-brainer to me, and I can't see any downside to bringing the great white witch onto the board, since you break even on your investment the next turn with the extra die. I think the only question is when to spend the die to bring her on. In general though, I think the sooner the better.

Even under the expansion set, the second die still only comes from morphing Strider into Aragorn. One of the most critical decisions the Free People player has to make in the game is whether to keep Strider with the Fellowship or to split him off in hopes of being crowned. Now I think its generally more worthwhile going for the die. With the new siege engine rules, Minas Tirith is now a much tougher nut for the Shadow to crack, greatly increasing the possibility that Aragorn will survive a good while after being crowned, maybe even lasting the entire game. Thus the payback on investing in the second die is now much greater. The loss of Strider from the Fellowship is offset quite a bit by the possibility of Smeagol joining the team, so the choice becomes that much easier.

It seems to me that if you're going to crown Aragorn, you probably want to do so as quickly as possible so as to maximize benefit from the extra die. I've seen this strategy labeled on various message boards as the "Strider Push." In other words, you spend every possible die and card you can during Turns 1 and, if need be, Turn 2, to rocket Strider down to Minas Tirith. Along the way, you'll probably want to dump off a hobbit in Fangorn to help muster Ents. I haven't counted spaces, but apparently with 3-4 character dice you can get him into the happy throne room, waiting for Will of the West to pop up. A good side effect of this approach is, assuming the Shadow player isn't sure what you're up to, he has wasted any dice in the Hunt Pool. Lots of dice in the Hunt Pool - push Strider. Little or no dice in the Hunt Pool - maybe still push Strider, but consider moving Fellowship to make him pay.

Of course a downside of this strategy is that the Fellowship probably takes an extended vacation in Rivendell for the first 1 or 2 turns. Assuming things aren't going too crazy on the military side, this shouldn't be a huge problem. To be safe, I might spend all my muster dice building trebuchets early to keep the bad guy a little intimidated.

Any thoughts? How would you counter this approach?


Monday, February 12, 2007

Kingmaker and Battlelore

I have had some excellent e-mail Kingmaker campaigns, but it's been awhile. We always had 6 actual players plus one of us took a turn as the referee, and we used Kingmaker for everything but the field battles. Whenever it was 5-1 or more, the battle was considered a walkover, and anything but "Bad Weather Delays Attack" was a complete pasting. Sieges, parliament, map moves, etc., were all handled as in the rules, except everyone e-mailed their moves prior to a deadline and they were exectuted simultaneously. If order mattered (such as one stack saying its intention was to pursue another group), then I'd dice for order rather than prorate the moves. Not sure how the other refs handled this, but there was never any worry about it if I remember right.

The real fun was the field battles. 4-1 would take a miracle to overcome (it was worth fighting since the threat of the stronger side losing a noble was there), but once you got around 2-1 and closer to even, upsets became possible. The referee would play these out using a simple set of miniature rules called Days of Knights. Great fun and it was easy to act as the players wished because Wars of the Roses tactics were very straightforward.

Now that we have Battlelore, I was wondering if there were any interest in this sort of campaign locally. Ownership of Kingmaker/Battlelore isn't required, as I'd act as the first ref and be happy to explain anything to new players. Each player would pick his favorite noble, except Percy. Even 10 or 20 point nobles are good choices, because they would get a permanently assigned title so that all players start evenly. Permanently owned mercenaries are another good way to even things.

Each player could e-mail/tell in person/telephone their moves to me by a given day, and I could post the results here on this blog page. If battles resulted, I would scale the game into a medieval-like adventure using the Battlelore rules. All of the cards would be transformable into certain types of units. Even battles would be 12 units vs. 12 units, with a 4-1 battle converting into 16-8. Flags needed to win would be 1/2 the enemy rounded up.

Ideally, the opposing players could play out their battles within a few weeks. Unforeseeable delays could be converted to a die roll.

Would anyone care to see if I can firm this up into something solid? Do you think the interest in Kingmaker and/or Battlelore is there? Ted and I get through the complex scenarios at a good clip, so I think the field battles would not take very long at all, while still being fun because they have significant meaning to the overall Kingmaker game.

Just rambling on.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Heads Up -- Zopp on BoulderGames

When I went to Essen 'lo these many years ago, Jacqui and I paused by and looked longingly at Zopp. It was smooth enough to make me think it was an air-hockey game ... those discs glide. But it was expensive (in the $200 range) and big. I noticed that Boulder got it in a while ago at a decent price, and I was tempted.

But now it's on sale for one night only. At (just) under $100, I'm sold. And I picked up a few other small games, too. (And remember, the nice owner has offered a 5% kickback to any SABG member).

Update -- As Rob pointed out (in the comments), the 5% offer has officially expired.


Monday Planning

I'm planning on showing up on Monday (the 12th), at around 4 or 4:30. Who else is in? I can probably switch to Tuesdays, but for now it's still Mondays...


War of the Ring (with Expansion) - 10 Feb 2007

Jeff and I met this morning at 6:50 AM at my house to play War of the Ring (with the Expansion set). Yes, we are hardcore dedicated board gamers, willing to go to extreme measures to fit board gaming into our busy lives. I already had the game half set up, so we were able to review the expansion rules, sip some hot coffee, munch on Girl Scout cookies, and begin the epic struggle all by 7:30 AM.

Jeff took the Free People's side, and I was immediately a bit nervous, as its probably been at least six months since I ran the Dark Side. Jeff masterfully handled the Fellowship, guiding them roughly two thirds down to Moria before they were revealed for the first time. Along the way Gandalf the Grey took it in the shorts, plus Strider went down in flames fighting the Balrog in Moria. (Note to Jeff: Slight asterisk. I should have removed the Balrog when he toasted Strider; though he didn't do anything else the rest of the game other than look threatening).

As the Evil One, I brought out Saruman and the Balrog on the first turn, quickly getting two bonus dice, but moving a lot of good nations down the diplomacy track towards war. I pushed all three evil nations to war and began my march towards Gondor and Helms Deep, pretty standard stuff. In fact it may have been a bit too predictable, because by the time I reached Minas Tirith, Jeff had it fully loaded with trebuchets, armies, and Gandalf the White. I had to use more than the usual amount of torture and maiming to convince the orcs it was in their best interest to attack the walls.

Jeff launched a well-timed Ent assault on my Isengard army that had just crossed the Fords of Issen, leaving behind a nice pile of dead orcs, wolves, and firewood. This totally took the momentum out of my advance on this front, and Saruman went on the defensive.

My Southrons moved up to Dol Amroth and conquered it over about 3 turns, only succeeding with the help of 4 Nazgul and the death of about half of their number. Those darn trebuchets are a pain! Gandalf mowed down most of my first army outside Minas Tirith, and the eagles flew in and killed a good number of Nazgul with the army. As you might surmise, Jeff did an excellent job countering every military move I made. My highest VP total in the game was 3, a long way from a military victory (10 VP).

About this time, Jeff popped the Fellowship into Mordor with only around 5 corruption. The Witch King (in his Leader of the Ringwraiths mode) howled in frustration, having accomplished little in his hunt along the way. Gimli and the hobbits still accompanied the Ringbearer. What followed over the next few turns was a highly eventful journey through Mordor! First I picked off one of the hobbits with a red card. Then, Gimli bought the farm, but the fellowship was over halfway to the volcano. Next, Smeagol appeared from a hunt draw, effectively giving Jeff a free advance and another Companion. Finally, disaster struck hard. Over two turns I drew two of the special red tiles (Give Us the Ring and Shelob), giving Jeff a total of 12 corruption! Ouch! Game over. Corruption victory for the Dark Side.

I did feel this was a bit of a anti-climactic way to win, since I much prefer to conquer via military victory. I sit now pondering what Jeff could have possibly done to counteract this bad luck. Sacrificing Gandalf the Grey and Strider early (plus separating Boromir to help Rohan) did weaken the staying power of the Fellowship significantly, but did shuttle them to Mordor very quickly. I think maybe there would have been a way to go a little slower, since I was a long way from a military victory. Rolling a 5 with Shelob, plus drawing a red eye when I had seven dice in the hunt box is hard to overcome though.

Jeff, you have my sincere appreciation for being willing to come over so early! You're a great player and a true gentleman. I think we're hitting the sweet spot with this game, as we were able to finish the game (including setup) in just about 2 hours. Very nice! If we both didn't have life interferences going on today, we'd probably still playing other games.


Friday, February 09, 2007

Bessarabia, April 1944

In this scenario of Combat Commander, the Russian forces (me) deploy first and randomly (using random hex drawing from the deck) around the map, and are defending against a small recon group of Germans (Jon) that deploy where ever, but AFTER the Russians and as a single contiguous group. The Russians had a few scenario-specific abilities like movement that is not hindered by the forest (SWEET!), and start with a unit reinforcement card in hand. The kicker? They can only play 1 order per turn vs 3 for the Germans (which proved to be a strategeery headache for me).

The predetermined starting open objectives state that kills are scored x2, and whoever controls all objectives by game end wins automatically. As an interesting twist, there is no map-exiting vp's, so it was to the death.... Secret objectives where drawn awarding VP's to spots on the left map edge (my objective), and one on the right map edge (Jon's).

So my units where scattered all over the map. Leaders were completely useless because they were scattered. It took me a few turns to get them within reach of other Russian units. My setup was the weakest close to the lower left corner of the map above, so the Germans popped up close to that group during setup (which btw, was very close to my aforementioned leftmost secret objective that I drew). The Germans quickly disposed off that small band which controlled my strongest weapon (a "stolen german light Mortar") while capturing this objective (unbeknownst to my opponent that it did provide vp's).

The rest of the game almost completely concentrated on that left half of the map specially around the lower clearings, as I tried fruitlessly to recapture that lost objective. Highlights of the battle:

  1. Even with all that forest cover, we both suffered incredible number of casualties, which again, in this scenario, the vp award was multiplied by 2! During 2 different melee attacks which Jon lost, I earned 8 vp's each time! ....even when we both played ambush cards beforehand (which break your opponet's units, effectively lowering the attack value before rolling). We both start the scenario with 2 leaders, and quickly lost 1 each, which made moving units around the map even harder.

  2. At one point in the game, I gained a radio to call in 82mm artillery. I considered getting another leader to go an rescue my other dispersed units, but the power of artillery tempted me. So you need a leader to spot a target to call it in.... I moved my only leader left close to that deadly clearing following the exposed train tacks.... only to be broken by Opportunity Fire from the Germans that where hiding in the forest. My leader lay there exposed and broken on the tracks (and thus unable to call in artillery) for 2 rounds as I tried to draw a Rally card (Recover Card). By the time I drew that card he was still alive, so he rallied. As a bonus I now had 2 Artillery Request cards in hand: I spotted 3 hexes away (oh the risk...! my troops thought my leader was nuts....any misfire and the shells could have landed on my units!). I fired my first artillery breaking a few German units. Unfortunately, I couldn't follow that up with a regular fire attack because I could only play 1 card per turn. The Germans of course then responded with a recover card. Second artillery request came around, and landed dead center between 3 German units. One of them was a broken squad....on which Jon played a Light Wounds card to mitigate the pain (switching a broken team for that broken squad giving me only 1 VP instead of 4!). At this point I realized that the Russians where really going to have a hard time winning this through killing units because of the 1 order per turn limit, so I switched to capturing objectives as my main goal (specially so when Jon decided to destroy my artillery radio).

  3. Snipers where dead on making hits in this scenario! Probably about 60% of the time, they scored a hit (in my experience, it's been more like 40%).

  4. An event made me reveal my secret objective which gave Jon VP's for controlling the lower left objective.... oh the smirk on his face....

  5. When the last Time! marker hit, ending the game, the score was 3 VP's in Jon's favor. On our post game analysis, we realized something very peculiar about this scenario: Jon won partly (totally?) because he used 3 of the Light Wound cards mentioned above. Essentially in this scenario, you get 4 VP's for eliminating a squad and 2 for a team. If you play light wounds, your opponent automatically gets 1 vp as stated in the card for reducing the squad to a team. Then once the team is eliminated the opponent gets 2 VP's.... therefore only yielding 3 vp's from that original squad instead of 4. He did that 3 times (IIRC). If I had gotten 4 points for each of those 3 squads instead of 3 points per, the score would have been 0.......with me controlling the tie breaker.... the Initiative card.
What a sweet game.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Hill Giant vs Giant Spider

Steve and I played 2 games of BattleLore tonight. What a blast! This game just keeps getting better.

We played the Hill Camp scenario putting the Hill Giant and Giant Spider against each other. We played the same sides back-to-back, and the two battles couldn't have been more different. In the first all the action was in the center and on my right. In the second all the action was on my left. In the first we sort of took our time and considered the board. The second scenario was played under time pressure since we knew the store was closing, and so we went for broke.

In the first game Steve wore me down over the course of the game. I got some great stikes w/ the Hill Giant before a well placed arrow brought him down. Bummer! Steve had taken a high level cleric vs my well balanced lore council. The 2 card limit on lore was very restrictive, especially since I kept getting expensive cleric cards, the only one I didn't take! At least I kept them out of Steve's hands... Final score was 6-3 or 6-4 IIRC.

In the second game I opted for a 2nd level wizard and 1st level warrior vs Steve's 3rd level warrior. I drew a foot-onslaught and a powerful left card and some generic cards like "counter-attack", and I had 2 red and 5 total foot on the left. I held off until I pulled another left card, and then I moved up on that side. Unfortunately, Steve had put his training camp on that side, too, so he pumped up a blue to a red before I arrived.

We clashed again and again on that side, and the carnage was major. The tipping point was the spider. Steve had the foresight to spend the time to bring him over to the battle. I would have liked to bring the giant, but he moves a lot slower, plus I was just happy to be drawing some low cost lore cards.

The battle came down to the wire. We each had 5 flags, and I decided to go after the spider. I picked a weak cavalry, figuring I might get a pursuit for a total of 6 dice, but instead the spider killed me on battle-back. In retrospect it was probably too risky, and I probably should have attacked w/ the healthier unit, but the store was also just about to close.

The game, especially that crazy attacking 2nd game, is too much fun to worry about who won or lost, but for the record it was Steve again, 6-5.

Having seen how restrictive 2 lore cards can be, I'm re-assessing my thoughts on the lore council. I now think that a 2nd level guy has some real advantages. Either way, 6 total levels is the right amount. It forces you to make choices, leaving you w/ the feeling of "I should try X next."

I'm now up to 9 games of BattleLore, looking for double digits. 4 w/ Steve, 2 w/ Jeff, 2 w/ Brian, 1 w/ Al. My overall record stands at 2-6-1.

Right now this game is dominating my attention. It's a ton of fun.

Game on!

ps We've not been using the labels so much recently. Tsk, tsk!


testing the H2O

Anyone available for gaming tomorrow during the day?


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Battles Brewing for Saturday, 10 Feb 2007

It seems there is growing interest for board gaming on Saturday. I know I'm interested. At this point, Jeff and I are tentatively lined up for a WotR rematch Saturday morning. I'm hopeful there might be additional folks interested in playing games of various types on Saturday, though hosting location(s), start times, etc. are still in flux. Anyway, this post is just meant to provide a spot for further discussion.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Dragons Lair gets Tide of Iron Pre-Release Event

Unfortunately, its the Austin location, but maybe we can talk them into a San Antonio demo as well. Here's the details:

Dragon's Lair Comics and Fantasy
6111 Burnet Road
Austin, TX 78757
Phone: (512) 454-2399 E-mail:

Event Details: One Operation: Early Bird event at 2/25/07, 1:00 PM - 6:00 PM


Monday Night Gaming

So, I arrived at Dragon's Lair at my typical time ... only to see naught but tumbleweeds. What gives? Where are the vibrant crowds from a mere six weeks ago? Gone with the holidays, I suppose. After polishing off a chapter of my book (The Nutmeg of Consolation), Michael showed up. Thus began the epic 2-player battle.

First off, I took the light side in LOTR: The Confrontation (yes, that's the wrong picture. But it has hobbits). There were several close moments where I basically choose my combat card randomly, but I got Frodo past the mountains and advanced him into a position where he could advance to Mordor with a bit of luck. Sam stayed back to guard the shire, everyone else having died. Luck was with me.

Next up, two games ofRoma. The first battle had me jump up to a large VP lead (Forum + Temple), but Michael managed to get his own VP engine, and snuck out a win by breaking the bank. (Odds are I would have won on my next turn). The 2nd game was a more typical "Pound 'em down". I got smacked early, and eventually spiraled down. So both games were 1-2 point difference, but 20-19 plays completely differently than 2-0.

By this time Simon had appeared, waiting for Ben. He had Ruse & Bruise, so we played. No review yet; I'm cautiously optimistic. Simple basic idea, but lots of fiddly chrome. He had to go back to class, so that was that. Back to 2 player games.

Rudiger Dorn's elegant little game took up our time and we wandered the African Plains, buying and selling. Ben showed up, looking for Simon. But then he left. Close games again, but I took a pair of victories this time.

So we set up San Juan, and got in a game. By this time Al had arrived, so our second game of San Juan was three players. After the 2nd game Jon appeared,
so we set up Imperial. This was Al's first time; and the third for the rest of us. I think I've reviewed this elsewhere, but each player invests in countries, with the biggest investor running the government (during World War I). A few countries changed hands quickly, but Russia rolled over the rest of Europe. In fact, Russia ended the game with no other country past the 2x multiplier (Russia's bonds were worth 5x). Jon and Michael were close, but Michael pulled out the win (83 to 80, I think). Al and I were way behind, having each lost an early country just prior to taxation, and being too heavily invested in the Italy, who lagged the rest of the countries (Austria-Hungary also didn't fair well). I want to play Imperial a few more times, but I'm getting a bit worried about it. The endgame seems to be getting more abrupt.

And then things fell apart.

Anyway, I'll hopefully be there next monday. And so should the rest of you slackers.


Eerie Similarities: Pizza Box Football Revisited

If you happened to read my account of the Pizza Box Football Super Bowl preplay with Jon, and watched the real game last night, you may have noticed some eerie similarities:

Our game finished 33-20 Colts. The real score was 29-17 Colts, with the Colts missing an extra point and a chip-shot field goal (otherwise, it would have been 33-17 Colts).

In our game, the Bears kept it close, even taking the lead 20-19 in the third quarter, before it all fell apart. In the real game, the Bears kept it close, down only 22-17 with 12 minutes remaining, before Rex Grossman threw the game away.

In our game, the Colts could march down the field at will, but struggled in the red zone (20-yard-line or closer), getting 1 TD, 2 FG, and two INT on five trips. In the real game, the Colts marched down the field at will, but got 1 TD, 2 FG, 1 missed FG, and 1 turnover in five trips.

Not everything matched, of course. Our game wasn't played in the rain, so we had zero fumbles instead of five. Tony Dungy is not a maniac, so the Colts killed the clock by running, finishing with 41 rushing attempts. PBF doesn't take special teams into account, so our game did not feature Devin Hester's predictable kickoff return TD. And while our game had six plays over 40 yards, the real Super Bowl had only two (53-yard TD catch by Reggie Wayne, 52-yard run by Thomas Jones). But overall, PBF did a surprisingly good job of simulating Manning's efficiency and Rex Grossman's staggering ineptitude (several witnesses will attest to me screaming "RUN THE BALL ON EVERY DOWN!!" at the TV throughout the second half). Dominic Rhodes got jobbed at the end, though; the MVP should be for the best player in the game, not a Lifetime Achievement Oscar.

Simon, I can't make it tonight (work-related things), but I will get you the decks as soon as possible.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Saturday Morning Games

A few of us got together on Saturday morning for some good gaming fellowship. Carlos and Amy played a game of War of the Ring while Jeff and Ben played Battle Lore. I hope that we get a good report from the Battle Lore game, but for now I will say the WotR game was good, but unfinished.

Amy took the role of the Free Peoples while Carlos took the Shadow. Amy did a good job protecting the ring from too much corruption and managed to guide the fellowship to the very gates or Mordor with a corruption of zero. Yes corruption was accumulated during the journey, but she managed it well.

The shadow armies managed to take most of Gondore and I think all of Rohan. Amy’s Free People’s army managed to slay orcs and evil humans by the hundreds, but they just kept coming and coming. Aragorn and Boromir lost their lives defending the strong holds of Gondore and Rohan. The battle for Minas Tirith was exceptionally brutal. Amy managed to hold off against the first wave of Southern armies, but a horde of foul orcs lead by the Witch-King himself ended this siege, along with one of her noble companions.

Meanwhile, the free people ambushed Saruman and his minions, but they were too late. In the end Isengard was secure and Rohan was no more. The ambitions of the Shadow looked north.

Middle Earth was at a cross roads. The fellowship, lead by Gollum was about to enter Mordor. The strange and pesky Gollum turned out to be quite a friend as he shielded the ring bearers from many points of corruption. At the same time to the west, two large Shadow armies approached two Free Peoples strong holds with fairly good odds of capturing them. If this were to happen, the Free Peoples would certainly have fallen, plunging all Middle Earth into darkness. It was determined that the odds were about 50-50. Either side had a good chance to win.

And in a far away and parallel universe, he who guided the Shadow heard a powerful call from the god called “Home Economics.” A powerful demigod known as Sears was offering this entity something called “12-months no interest” AND “10% off appliances”, whatever this meant. The battle for Middle Earth ceased to exist.

I would like to than Jeff and Amy for their hospitality and invitation into their home. Truly gracious hosts.


Friday, February 02, 2007

Napoleon in Europe

Napoleon in Europe is a game I have mixed feelings about. To me it is something of a heavy and somewhat clumsy Axis & Allies type, but during the Napoleonic Era. I am not too sure why the game was discontinued. I thought that it had quite a following. Has anyone in the group played? I thought it was a good game, but it did have some problems.


There is a simple but effective political system in the game that keeps things interesting. Small countries that are bullied by the French have some interesting Political options to remain a thorn in Napoleon’s side.

The game is really quite simple and one can learn it after only a few turns.

There are several optional rules (called the Advanced Game) that can be used to customize the game for the players preferences.

Works just as well for two as multiple players. Some may say that fewer is better in this game.

The tactical battles are well done.

You can play either historical scenarios or A-historical ones. The grand campaign is available if you have the time.


The game can take a long time if you let it. I am talking about two or three days of all day play.

The tactical battles can sometimes slow the game for those who are not participating.

There can be lots of down time if too many players are playing.

The miniatures can really get crowed on the huge board. They were really well made, but too big.

The naval rules could have been a little more exciting.

This is a cool game on a subject that I have always found interesting. While I personally like big epic games, this one may be just a little too big to be practical. I think my favorite Napoleon game is still Columbia’s “Napoleon”


Twilight Imperium 3: Major FAQ Changes

Fantasy Flight Games has issued a new Version 2.0 of its FAQ for Twilight Imperium 3 and its expansion set, Shattered Empire. In addition to stopping up a few pinholes in the rules, FFG has reversed some pretty major past FAQ rulings.

For instance, in the past one of my favorite, officially legal techniques was on Turn 2 to declare a transfer action between my homewold and the adjacent system I had colonized on Turn 1. Under the previous FAQ ruling I could build troops and ships at the homeworld shipyard and construct a new shipyard in the newly colonized adjacent system, all using a single action. This was a great way to supercharge your initial expansion, and new players not aware of how it worked were at a disadvantage. This technique has now officially been disallowed. Now if using a transfer action you're only allowed to build in one of the two systems, period.

There are a few other rule changes, like transfering fighters between carriers in the midst of movement now being legal (which seems a bit weird), so fans of the game would be well served to review the new FAQ and ponder its impact on their strategies.

Anyone else have thoughts on the rule changes?


Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage Pre-Orders Open

Yesterday pre-orders for Valley Games' Rome: Hannibal vs. Carthage officially opened. All pre-orders include as a bonus a set of plastic generals to use in lieu of the cardboard stands normally featured with CDGs.

Though I doubt I was one of the first to place the required $0.01 deposit down for a copy, I'm certain pre-orders are progressing briskly. Has anyone else in the group pre-ordered? I suspect we'll have almost as many copies in SABG as players.