Sunday, June 29, 2008

Where are you playing?

Reading all the session reports from this weekend got me thinking: there were a lot of games in San Antonio this weekend! How many? Well here's a map showing the ones I know about, including DL tomorrow night (note: all locations are approximate to protect both the innocent and guilty).

The SABG continues to evolve, and membership is active.

Game on!

View Larger Map


Triops has three eyes

As we move past the gaming (mainly wargaming, although we haven't heard from Chris et al), three points:

1) I've only got seven "Top 20" lists. Get those in!

2) The proposed Fourth of July weekend gaming extravaganza at Mi Casa has generated no response. If you plan on showing up, let me know or we'll be making other plans. The Wii has rock band (although only one guitar ... and no compatibility with other guitars, unless someone happens to have a spare Wii guitar). I'm currently stuck on Suffragette City (solo guitar).

3) The usual monday planning. I'll be at DLair at around 5:30 or 6.

Labels: ,

SABG vs. The Emasculated Black Goat of the Woods

Yesterday an intrepid band of investigators (Chris, Jon, Scott, and I) journeyed to the sleepy hollow of Arkham. We responded to reports that a great ancient evil, Shub Niggurath (aka The Black Goat of the Woods, apparently), was stirring from his ancient slumber, threatening to plunge this dimension into eternal darkness and make other associated bad things happen. Yes, one of my favorite games, Arkham Horror, once more made it back to the table. We started to shuffle in the parts from all four expansions, but we quickly realized it would have turned into an all day extravaganza, and so we settled on playing with all the new cards and investigators, but without the new boards.

The four of us made steady progress the whole game, getting knocked out a few times each, but closing gates with relative ease. Chris' character was a mega-spell caster, but unfortunately for about 75% of the game an environment card was in effect that cancelled all spellcasting. Ugh! Jon and I were the tanks, and we each racked up impressive piles of monster trophies. Perhaps a bit too impressive actually....

We were nearing the climax of the game, where we needed to close one more gate to win. We were one doom marker away from utter destruction as well. White knuckles gripped all four sides of the table in anticipation of each mythos card draw. Just then, Scott pointed out that we had forgotten the Goat's power of adding one toughness to every creature in the game! Whoops! Major asterix. We coasted through the next few turns and dunked the ring, I mean closed the final gate, but we each new that the enemy we faced was somehow the weaker cousin of the real Old One we should have faced.

I have to say I still really enjoyed the game. The new cards and investigators were well done and fit seamlessly into the game. For some reason we kept running into mysterious old men in trench coats offering us candy, including one named Mr. Skin, which was perhaps a little too creepy. The lightning gun was fun though, and Scott's cursed reported was pretty cool.

Scott and Jon bolted after the grand finale, then Chris and I played couple quick hands of Blue Moon. All in all, a great day of gaming


Saturday, June 28, 2008

WW2, Take 2: Rommel the in Desert

While Carlos and Jose were recreating the Pacific Theater of WWII near Helotes, Mark and I were busy with the North African campaign near Sea World. We made a day of it, and we manged to review the rules and play parts of three scenarios.

This game is a definite step up in complexity from the games I've been playing recently, but I think it's worth the investment of effort.

The first one we picked was a short one with a theoretical play time of 1-2 hrs. As always, this play time refers to after you know the rules. Playing through this, Mark and I were reminded that the supply rules are brutal and unforgiving. Mark drew some troops away from his siege of Tobruk to defend the front, and we realized I could put his entire army out of supply and there was no way for him to prevent it. Since we were focusing on mechanics, this would have defeated our purpose, so we both made a mental note and continued play w/o the game winning move. Here's a pic from the middle of the scenario, before the troops were drawn away from Tobruk.

After lunch, we played the 1941 scenario, which starts about 9 months prior to the pic on the left. In this scenario, the axis has to get to Tobruk, whereas the previous scenario has them starting there.

Mark tried his hand as the Axis. He got close, but then he left too much room in his supply lines and I split them wide open, wiping away most of his offensive punch in the process. We decided to call the game at this point even though there were lots of turns left.

The afternoon was waning at this point, but we decided to swap sides and repeat the scenario. I took the Axis and tried to get to Tobruk. After quickly grabbing the fortress at Benghazi, I focused heavily on the inland route. Unfortunately, Mark had deeply studied this line of attack in the previous scenario, and he caught me in brilliant trap and crushed (crushed, I say!) my offensive as I neared the coast again. If you're going to lose, I think it's sort of nice to lose to a brilliancy rather than your own screw-up. Once again, we decided to call the game with many turns left to play.

By the end I think we had both pretty much internalized the rules, and we were beginning to focus mostly on the strategy and tactics. Whereas the first two scenarios were lost based on not understanding the rules completely, Mark won the last scenario through superior strategic insight. By understanding where the choke points are, Mark knew where to defend and where to retreat.

We both agreed the Axis seems harder to play in this scenario. Don't know about the other scenarios.

This game has about 6 scenarios with various durations from 1-2 hrs up to 8 hrs for the full 41-42 campaign. Now that I'm getting the rules sorted out, I hope to get this to the table often in the future. I hear there's a Vassal module for it, too.


Asia Engulfed was worth the wait

I finally got Asia Engulfed on the table and I must say that I was pleased. Jose and I have been planning this for quite some time and we finally got our chance. I’ll be brief and tell you right off the bat that Jose won the game as the Japanese in our Guadalcanal scenario. I personally think that I was just a couple of turns from taking the island, but this was the short learning scenario. There were some great carrier battles, battleship engagements, American code breaking, and the quagmire in China was very interesting.

The game is similar to EE, but not so similar as to say that this is just EE in the Pacific. The mechanics and order of play are quite different. Also as this is really the first time I had played a Pacific WWII game, so I was having to unlearn some paradigms that have been in my brain for a long time.

I hope to play this game again before the end of the summer. Of course EE is always welcome at my table. Let me know if you are interested. Jose, I think we should rethink the mechanics and try again in a month or two with the entire war scenario. Thanks for dropping by.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Ben and I finally got to try this combination.

Since there were only two of us with but a few hours, we played the short game. 15 turns, all heirs on the island, and a nasty optional gales at sea card to sink anyone sunbathing offshore.

We each picked a player-noble. Ben took Fitzalan and I took Pole. We then each got 17 cards, with me getting the far better offices (Marshal and Constable of the Tower of London).

After we grabbed all the heirs but poor Richard of Gloucester way down south in Plymouth, Ben's two key nobles got called north to deal with Mel Gibson's Scottish raid. We were playing a variant where two event cards are dealt, then movement is done randomly, after which all sieges, combats, coronations, etc. are done, then finally the power-up card. It's a lot of fun, because if you go early, you can scoot from trouble or launch an opportune attack. If you go late, you can swoop into an already looming battle to swing it one way or the other.

In our situation, If Ben went first, he could regroup, but the dice said I got to move first, so I attacked his stack with Richard of York (already crowned).

We then went to the Battlelore game. I had all the advantages of more units (20-18), more nobles (hit on lore if they were present), and 3 war council members to Ben's 0 (based on bishop cards), but his well played counterattacks resulted in a tight battle with a 9-7 margin.

We called the Kingmaker game at that point. I had based my unit assignment system on more players, so we each ended up with a lot of crown cards, which pretty much emptied my box and used a lot of the supplemental units to boot. With 3-6 playing, I don't think this would be as much of a problem. We got to use the mounted knights, the hobgoblin spears, ostrich and hyena riders, horn blowers, and other nonsense. Still, I might have to consider buying another battlelore set for Kingmaker parts down the road.

So I've got some more adjusting to do on the conversion system, but overall the combination works pretty well.

A great playtest session, and I'm very appreciative of Ben donating his time. We probably should have just played CnC Ancients, which is a better game with less bother. Unfortunately, I don't have a good campaign tie-in for it. And I do enjoy medieval history above all other subjects, so will continue to work with Battlelore as a vehicle for Kingmaker battles.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wargames, scale 1 mile = 1 mile


If I ever wanted to know if I was ever going to be a true "wargamer", the answer after seeing these pictures is clearly no.

Not that I thought Memoir '44 or Combat Commander was where the bar was set, but I didn't know that people played on this scale. This is fascinating in a I'll-never-do-that kind of way.

(From this BGG thread with pictures from this site.)

Quick Heads Up

For anyone who does math trades on BGG, there's a fast one going on with listings due by close of business today. (And want lists a few hours later). It's headed towards the 1,000 item mark, so there should be something for you.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Saturday planning post

Is it too early to start thinking about the weekend?

A few weeks back, I mentioned I was looking to have a Mare Nostrum game at my house this Saturday. The response was underwhelming. Therefore I'm sorry to report there will not be an MN game at my house this Saturday.

To salve my wounds, I managed to arrange for an all-day Rommel-a-thon with long-lost SABGer Mark.

If others are planning any Saturday gaming, post in the comments. As always, DL is open. I assume w/o checking that the D&D mania has ebbed to a low roar, so DL might be safe for general gaming.


Monday, June 23, 2008


I keep reading/hearing on podcasts... about how great the new D&D edition is. Anyone else noticed? Just read this today, and thought "Wow... this sounds like a fun Descent" (liberally quoting something Dennis said elsewhere).

My experience with Dungeons and Dragons is very limited. I had a few AD&D 2nd ed source books, and some of the Dark Sun campaign setting books. I probably have played twice (that's 2 sessions...not even a single full campaign) in my lifetime. I've since lost interest. This new edition seems pretty cool: it really seems to blur the line that divides classic pen and paper, boardgame, minis, and computer games. Sounds pretty cool to me.

Any thoughts? Jeff/Amy? Dennis? Bewler?


Fantastic Friday Fun

Come one, come all to the fantastic Tiffy is moving event! (yup, shameless plug. but it can't hurt to try)

I don’t know if any of you all are bored, with lots of free time sometime in the vicinity of Friday afternoon. I need some help in the moving process, just the large stuff (most the boxes should be knocked out on Thursday). So, should any of you wish to come to the fantastic moving extravaganza you will get fame and glory points. And pizza. And soda. And there might be a tasty cold beer or two. And my eternal thanks.

So yeah. Just thought I would throw it out there. Something to help you pass the long hours of the day. It isn’t quite a gaming event. But once I have moved I might be able to host something.

Comment or geekmail me or email me or something should you wish to join the fun.

Labels: ,

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Monday Gaming, and TaoCon

Another Monday, another fun filled afternoon/evening of gaming at the Lair ... or will it be? Who knows? I'll probably be there around 5-5:30pm-ish.

And since Rob asked about SABGCon ... well, I don't know about that, but Jacqui and I will host a mini-convention the July 4th weekend at our house. We'll have our kids there (and chances are they'll be involved), but it's a general open house of gaming weekend if anyone is interested. We'll go from 9am until whenever each night, although Sunday will probably end by dinner time (if anyone is still here).

We'll have details as we get closer, but post general interest notes in the comments. If we get a bunch of "I'm in, but not for this time" then we may have an official break (i.e., if you stop by at that time we might be out).

And I've got a fair number of Top 20 lists, but you've still got time.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ahoy, mateys! Thar be piratey gamin' ahead!

Well, we all know you can't write a session report about pirate games without using a wee bit o' pirate language.

Bright and early, Steve, Ben, and Tiffany showed up and we decided to start off with a little light piratey goodness to whet our appetites for the Blackbeard game to come. So we played Rum & Pirates. I first played this almost a year ago at Jeff and Amy's and thought that I needed a light pirate game as part of my game library and that this would fit the bill nicely. It's easy to learn, quick to play, and dripping with theme and high production quality. So our pirates marched around Pirate Town drinking in pubs, fighting the city guard, getting stung by scorpions in treasure chests, meeting piratey sweethearts, putting together treasure maps, and fighting over bunk spaces. In the end, Ben and I ended up tied for most pirate VPs. The first tiebreaker was fewest pirates of a player's color in the unemployment office (times are hard for these pirates, what with the economy and all), and I emerged triumphant, and rightfully so.

We then broke out the tour de force that is Blackbeard. This game is also produced with high quality components. The map in particular is beautiful. In this game, each player takes a turn sailing the high seas trading in cards either for favorable events or for action point allowances. Action points are used for sailing the high seas searching for and looting merchant ships, torturing hostages (it's not exactly a lighthearted game), attacking and plundering seaside towns, and engaging in general debauchery and revelry. During a player's turn, however, the opponents are constantly trying to put the hurt on the active player by playing event cards (as interrupts) and deploying pirate hunters and royal warships. If the active pirate can overcome these annoyances, they get money and notoriety. When they get powerful and rich, they can then sail into a port and retire, and their name enters into buccaneer legend (their notoriety and money translate into VPs). If a pirate retires or dies, you can draw another pirate from the pirate deck (there's quite a few pirate cards) and start another pirate career with the new one. The game ends when a timekeeping card in the event deck is drawn for the third time, so you need to "bank" your pirates as you go along.

The game has a rather steep learning curve. It's almost like trying to learn two games--the pirate game and the anti-pirate game. It took us a while to get rolling, but we eventually got some semblance of game flow. Tiffany started off on the VP track early, as her crew came down with scurvy and mutinied, sending her pirate to Davy Jones' Locker. Her pirate still entered into pirate lore (maybe not for all the right reasons) for which she got a modicum of VP, and then she was off again with a new pirate. However, her next pirate also met an untimely demise (I can't quite remember--was it a pirate hunter or warship?), and at this point she departed to attend to more pressing RL matters.

Steve, Ben, and I continued on and sailed the seas, bringing in the money and generally pestering each other. Ben's pirate finally took in a huge haul from a merchant ship in India and quickly found a friendly port in which to settle down and live his golden years. But soon after landing, his own crew double crossed him and Ben's pirate was arrested and put on trial for piratey crimes. At trial, though, there was insufficient evidence to convict and hang him. Ben's pirate skated and retired a rich man, jumping over Tiffany on the VP track and taking the lead. At the same time, my pirate was also doing quite well, and his notoriety attracted two pirate hunters who both tried to make a name for themselves by sinking him. Realizing his ship was too slow, he was forced to turn his boat to fight. Despite being outgunned, my pirate's credible combat skills led to two very close victories over the pirate hunters. My pirate became instantly famous throughout the Caribbean, and with his career made, he sailed into Port Royal to retire. As he did so, another pirate also decided to make a name for himself and tried to ambush and kill Mr. Instant Celebrity. But my pirate was just a tiny bit faster with his cutlass and emerged triumphant. Walking off into the sunset of retirement, he was heard to say in Ben's direction, "Won easily..."

Ben, Steve and I finished with Kingmaker. We are trying to convert this game into a War of the Roses campaign that will let us use the Battlelore combat system to play out the battles, and Steve has already developed the ruleset that we are going to use (although he wouldn't want me to point this out, don't forget that he is literally an award-winning game designer). So as an introduction, we played the basic Avalon Hill Kingmaker. A player wins this game by capturing and holding the last living heir to the British throne and crowning them King. Ben started by sweeping up the heirs to the throne and executing the ones that didn't amuse him. He finally sacked London and took King Henry VI, while I ran up to York and captured (and crowned) Richard of York and Steve went to Plymouth and found Margaret of Anjou. We generally stayed away from each other, as Ben and I were strong in our home regions but weak away from them, and Steve got on his boats and sailed away from the rest of us because his nobles didn't have the military strength to survive a battle with either Ben or me. With the game thus stalemated, we went to Parliament where I emerged with the win, as my nobles held the most influence in the House of Lords.

Perhaps one of the biggest differences between Kingmaker as it is now and the way we intend to play it is that, in the basic board game, you need at least a majority stack (more troops than the person you're atacking) to have a chance to win a battle. In Battlelore system battles, it is possible to win even though you don't have the strongest force if you manage to maneuver and roll well. This (and the fact that there is a campaign to connect them) should make the battles much more entertaining.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Something weekend this way comes

Yeah, ok, so I'm not going to win any awards with the post title.

But the weekend approaches and Cthulu is on the brain.

My short list of games to play on Saturday includes:
Arkham Horror + n expansions
Twilight Imperium 3 (really starting to crave this one)
Combat Commander

People are welcome to come over Saturday morning at 9am. I think a fair number of people are out so the numbers may be small, but I am undaunted.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

High praise for Warriors of God

Warriors of God covers the 100 years war between France and England at a strategic level (see map at left). This period is the same one covered by BattleLore, though BL is a tactical, battle level game. Many people think this conflict defines medieval warfare. This game has been getting a good bit of buzz, and now there's a rave review.


As another contender in the light wargame category, this game has my attention. The wargamers who grew up in the 70s and 80s now have jobs and kids, both of which eat away at free time (I resemble that remark...), so I expect this game niche to continue to see new entries.

There's probably a cool way to incorporate BattleLore as a battle system for this game. Would be a cool thing to do during a con over a weekend.

When is the first SABG con again?


The Top 50 -- Summer '08 Edition!

Last Labor Day, we SABGers voted on our favorite games. I figured I'd make this an annual thing, but why by stuck to the strict confines of annual-ness? Particularly when we've got so many new members (and I've got free time)...

For those who have forgotten (or never knew!) here's how it works: You send me an email (or geekmail) your 20 favorite games (in order). I'll give your favorite game 40 points, and your 20th favorite game 21 points. That way, any game on two lists will outrank someone's #1 game that nobody else likes.

You can see the geeklist I made for last year's results, or view it right here!

Voting will be open until the results stop trickling in, but hopefully two weeks will be enough time. I'll try to get results compiled by the 4th of July weekend.


Monday Monday

So good to me ...

On the first day of my involuntary vacation, Ted made a surprise appearance and we broke out Lord of the Rings. Gandalf got medieval, taking out Saruman, a Cave Troll, Shelob and 2-3 others. Sadly, the rest of the fellowship had heard a rumor that whoever dies gets reincarnated, so decided to follow Boromir's lead. Gandalf made it to Mt. Doom, but discovered that he was all out of bubblegum and had nobody's ass left to kick. Frodo was almost there, but the Warg (which cancels his ability) and the witch king (who kept flying to his space) formed a wall, beat him senseless, and took his stuff.

Next was the obligatory game of Race.

By this point we had a quorum. Michael and Dennis split off to play the beisbol, and Ted, Chris, Sean, Jon and I broke out Princes of Florence. Sean got off to a quick start, but stalled at the end (having no actions to take on the last turn). Actually, by that point I was running away with it, so I decided to keep doing that. I'm not one of the PoF sharks, but I do have 15-20 games under my belt ...

Jon and I then played some baseball, and I managed to avoid the sweep, making my record vs Jon 1-5 (shudder). Al had arrived and the rest of the group played Torres (I think?).

We ended up with some Simpson Jeopardy, and Alex Trebeck beat up Michael for owing him money.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Monday Planning

Now that I've put away my new ties, and a suspiciously mass-produced "World's Greatest Dad" cup, I'm looking forward to gaming. I'll be at Dragon's Lair tomorrow around 5:30 pm.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Re-Writing History... The Hard Way

Yesterday Steve again punished me for my foolishness. We refought the Battle of Gaugamela using Command and Colors: Ancients, with me as Alexander the Great, and Steve playing the always evil Persians. Our initial set up looked pretty much like the diagram above. Steve's initial cavalry charge on the right was quite succesfull, though Alexander leading the Companion Cavalry was able to beat it back. Stevel launched an elephant into my main line, stomping a unit or two of my finest phalanxes into bloody toe jam before finally being hacked apart. My loyal general Parmenion (who was later, historically, executed by Alexander for suspected disloyalty) on the left chewed up a couple of Steve's troops who were watching the elephant rampage, but in the end, it just wasn't enough. Steve launched back into my center, slaying noble Greeks with great impunity, thus destroying the future of Western Civilization. Good job, buddy!

We also played the Battle of Pharsalus using the same system, this time with me take Julius Caesar to Steve's Pompey. Once again, Steve destroyed history by crushing Caesar. It was great seeing how system models the different capabilities of the various armies using only subtle changes in the unit characteristics. Great fun.

We played another 2 games of Lord of the Rings: Confrontation, this time with the variant characters. Steve and I were both able to dunk the ring.

Lastly we played a couple games of Battle Line, the best themed poker variant I own.

Thanks again to Steve for hosting! It was great to get some gaming in before what's shaping up to be a totally busy weekend.


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Leftorium Roster

For SABBL eyes only -- everybody else scroll down and read Ben's session report.

Scott mentioned that I never posted my roster, so I'm putting it below:

Starting Lineup:
Jason Varitek (c)
Todd Helton (1b)
Chase Utley (2b)
Jose Reyes (ss)
Aramis Ramirez (3b)
Eric Byrnes (lf)
Randy Winn (cf)
Nick Markakis (rf)
Travis Hafner (dh)

Jeremy Hermida (rf)
Aubrey Huff (1b/3b)
Kelly Johnson (2b)
Kenny Lofton (lf/cf)
Miguel Olivo (c)
Miguel Tejada (ss)

Starting Pitchers:
John Lackey
C.C. Sabathia
Kelvim Escobar
Oliver Perez
Orlando Hernandez

Relief Pitchers:
Manny Delcarmen
Lee Gardner
Brad Hennessey
Ryan Madson
Darren Oliver


Vacation Doesn't Suck

So, I had the week off this week, mainly to make a hard push on a major interior remodeling project underway at the casa. Still, I was able to make time to accept Steve's gracious offer to spend a day of gaming today at his wonderful, happy home where dog and cat frolic together in unholy union.

We started off with a game of Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage. I took the beleaguered Romans, and actually had a good start, holding onto a chunk of Spain, while minimizing the bleeding from Hannibal in Italy. Like the USA in Twilight Struggle, the key for the Romans in the early game is just to survive the onslaught, or, even better, maintain reasonable parity. Unfortunately, crafty Steve eventually cornered my incompetent Consuls into a position where I was forced to give battle, and, wow, did I lose big.... about five battles in a row. My typical die rolling lack of prowess was in peak form, but Steve has truly mastered the art of playing his battle deck to the fullest. I was able to reproduce Romans pretty must as fast as he was able to kill them, but the political will of the empire was turning against me with each defeat. I finally made some desperate attempts to crush Hannibal by slamming him in between two Consular armies, but Steve intercepted the first one before it could form but, utterly destroying it and winning the war. Curse you, Longus!

Next, Steve agreed to try out Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation. We played several games, trading sides each time. Shadowfax again made a key appearance in the game, helping carry Steve's Frodo into the loving arms of the Witch King. All in all, this is one of my favorite quick filler games, rich in theme, yet meaty enough to hold one's interest.

Lastly Steve set up Kingmaker, and we played through a turn or so. I first played this game back in 5th grade, so it was probably one of the first 3-4 wargames I ever played. Ah, nostalgia! Steve did a wonderful job of running through the rules and explaining how he could adapt the game to use either miniatures rules or perhaps BattleLore eventually to resolve the battles, with the turns being resolved by e-mail. I'm totally signed up to participate in such a campaign game!

Okay.... back to studying Europe Engulfed. I think this is a game I just need to get to the table and struggle through the first time. The rules just make me sleepy! Anyway, tomorrow looks like its going to hold more vacation wargaming! Woo hoo!

PS: SPQR Deluxe arrived today from GMT. Wow, what a spectacle of a game.



So -- I suppose this will count as advanced warning, but I will be putting in a boardsandbits order in early July. Just an FYI in case anyone wanted to order something, and didn't wanna pay shipping.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A day in the life of...Mr Vader

Anyone coming to Houston tonight to see this brilliant comedian? I know I am.

Cake or death!

Labels: ,

Monday, June 09, 2008

Monday Planning Post...

...goes here.

I'll be there at 5pm.

Labels: ,

Sunday, June 08, 2008

W-w-wait...that's not how it happened! Memoir '44 Overlord Revisits D-Day

Ben, Steve and I gathered on Friday for round 2 (round 1 here) of Memoir '44 Overlord. As it turned out, Friday was June 6th. On D-Day, you play...D-Day! We selected the Omaha Beach scenario out of the scenario book.

As historical background, the US forces landed from the English Channel to the north, assaulting the German-occupied coastline of Normandy, France to the south. Omaha Beach was the code name for a five-mile stretch of this coastline, with Utah Beach to the west and Gold Beach to the east. The US forces consisted of two Regimental Combat Teams, the 116th RCT to the west and the 16th RCT to the east, with support of two tank battalions and two Ranger battalions. The Germans countered primarily with the experienced 352nd Infantry Division with the support of artillery units in bunkers and pillboxes and the deployment of "hedgehogs," twisted pieces of metal meant to slow down the movement of armor units. The primary strategy of the Axis forces was to stop the landings, and so they committed most of their forces in the area to the coastlines. This left the Germans with relatively little defense further inland. Thus, if the Americans could overwhelm the German front lines, they could then move past the beaches toward their more vital inland objectives with much less organized resistance.

The Western end of Omaha Beach with the 116th RCT assaulting the beach. Armor units from the 743rd Tank Battalion and Ranger units from the 2nd Ranger Battalion (the little orange cardboard chits in the far back) are in support. The German 352nd is waiting.

The center of Omaha Beach. The 16th RCT and 741st Tank Batallion are coming ashore. Hedgehogs and wire have been placed by the German defenders to slow their assault.

The eastern end of Omaha Beach assaulted by additional companies from the 16th RCT and 741st Tank Batallion. Note the Axis forces are concentrating their defense at the chokepoint formed by the sea bluffs.

With the setup complete, we rolled for sides. Last time, we had four players, but family responsibilities limited us to three players for this session. Die rolls dictated that Ben and Steve would play the Allied forces (with Steve as Field Commander of the central forces and Ben directing the forces in the right and left wings) while I would command all of the German defenders.

The first side to claim 8 medals would gain the victory. In addition to eliminating units, however, the Allied forces could claim additional medals by taking and holding the towns of Vieville-sur-Mer, Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, or Coleville-sur-Mer, each lying just beyond the sea bluffs to the south. Furthermore, the Allied units would gain victory points for every unit making it successfully past the German line of defense and off the Axis side of the board (representing their heading further inland). With the rising of the morning sun, the attack began.

As the Allied forces approached the shore, the German artillery immediately opened fire. All across the beach, infantry and armor units began to take a beating. While most casualties were direct hits, additional units were lost as they were driven back into the ocean and either submerged or swept away by the strong undercurrents. The Allied commanders quickly realized that forces left in the water were surely doomed and began to concentrate on two goals: 1) Get as many forces out of the water as quickly as possible, and 2) Silence the artillery. The Americans slowly began to make their way ashore and tried to use the hedgehogs to their advantage, hiding behind them for a modicum of cover while giving the forces behind them room to get out of the water. However, the armor was simply too bogged down by the poor traction in the sand, the liberally placed hedgehogs, and the struggle to get to the choke points formed by the few openings in the sea bluffs. With the Allied armor units eliminated or pushed back to the water's edge, the artillery were then free to take aim at the infantry units further down the beach. A fortuitous strafing run by a German Messerschmitt further decimated the forces along the western shoreline.

The Allied casualties began to mount, especially in the western and central sectors. Although the forces in the east remained generally strong, the chaos inherent in a battle of this magnitude limited effective communication in this area and their progress was slow and halting. As the losses increased, the American commanders changed their tactics and began a relentless sprint of infantry and Ranger units to the German artillery sites. Slowly, the artillery units began to take damage, and at the western end of the landing zone, the Rangers finally managed to scale the sea bluffs and destroy the German gun emplacements there. This, however, came at an incredible cost to the Americans, as almost all the other supporting units fell in front of them.

The American forces finally begin to take ground and race toward the powerful and well-protected German artillery...

...and the Ranger battalions finally manage to destroy the guns, but at a devastating cost, as most of their supporting units by this point had been eliminated.

The surviving Rangers prepared to push forward and claim their objective of Vievelle-sur-Mer just beyond the destroyed guns, but the Axis infantry, seeing their defenses weakened, swung back to cut them off, and managed to entrench themselves in the town just before the Rangers could arrive. The Rangers' progress had been stopped.

The surviving Rangers prepare to take Vieville-sur-Mer, but they find the German infantry (in the lower left) awaiting their arrival.

Finally, the forces at the eastern end of the landing zone managed to coordinate their attacks and tried to make a last push toward the German line.

With the landings at the western end of the map having come at too great a cost, and with the attacks in the center remaining a stalemate, this line of the 16th Regimental Combat Team to the east represented the last hope for the Americans to break through at Omaha Beach.

But it was too little, too late. As the 16th RCT raced forward to take out the last gun in the area, the waiting German infantry opened fire and repelled the Allied forces. Withering under the constant machine gun and artillery fire, the Americans finally fell back. The Axis forces had won the day at Omaha Beach, and the retreating Americans were left to hope that their counterparts elsewhere along the French coastline had met with more success than they had.

Omaha Beach at the end of the battle. The German forces have held.

What a great battle! Although the Americans looked to have the definite advantage at the beginning given their sheer numbers (and the support of real-life history), several factors proved too much to overcome. The German artillery was remarkably accurate. Plus, the Americans had two commanders who had to confer and agree on strategy, while I, as the lone Axis commander, could make all plans myself and not have to worry whether someone else would execute them as I had envisioned. In addition, the Americans needed to move forward to accomplish their goals, while the Axis forces could be content to sit in place and wait for the enemy to come to them. Thus, they always had the advantage of good defensive bonuses. Not only did the Americans have to move their forces forward, they had to move a LOT of their forces forward. Thus, the Americans needed as many ordered units as they could get each turn. Units that didn't move were easy targets for the German guns. The Germans, with an artillery unit in each section, really could afford as few activations as one unit in each section each turn and still be remarkably effective. One unit activation in each section each turn, in contrast, would have been woefully inadequate for the Allies. Furthermore, tanks moving onto the beach could only move two spaces instead of their normal three, and they were hampered by wire (which stopped their movement upon entering) and hedgehogs (which prevented them from entering those hexes at all), plus they had to head to the bottlenecks along the sea bluffs, as armor units cannot scale sea bluffs. If they did not head inland, then they were sitting ducks for the artillery, so they had to keep moving and couldn't simply be abandoned by the Allied commanders in favor of the infantry. In this way, they took up vital unit orders needed for their supporting infantry units. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is no retreat into the ocean. A retreat flag for a unit at the water's edge is death. So, despite initial appearances, this is not an easy scenario at all for the Americans to win.

Thousands of people on both sides died on June 6th, 1944 during the invasion at Normandy, and to compare a game to that scale of real-life loss can be a delicate matter. With that being said, though, this battle highlighted (even if only in a very superficial, it's-just-a-game kind of way) the difficulties that the Allied landing forces must have faced in real life, and more than once I found myself thinking about what the people there that day must have seen and thought as I looked out over my plastic pieces. Overall, a very engrossing way to spend a few hours on D-Day.

Labels: ,

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The Apathy Continues--

So it appears that the what to play apathy did not leave our systems on Monday and remained with us for Saturday morning festivities. I arrived at casa de Chris on time plus or minus about 10 minutes. And somehow was the first to arrive. So we chilled until Scott arrived, then set about the monumental task of deciding on a game that could play three.

And after much discussion, some shrugging of the shoulders, and general -- well---hmmmmming, we settled on Cave Troll. Apparently chris owns a broken copy. But it wasn't a bad game. We joked that it was kinda a warm up to Descent, and in some ways it was, with the super awesome knights of you can't occupy the same room as me unless you are a knight, and the cave trolls or death and doom. And the treasure. But at least no monsters or blocks fell on our heads.

Travis arrived, and after a bit more of the apathy discussion and hmmmmming we decided on Pillars of the Earth and the expansion. Travis had not yet played the expansion, and Scott hadn't played the base or expansion, so we set out to build out cathedral -- in all its wonky abstract glory. Travis eeked it out for the win, though it looked like Scott was gonna run away with it for a while.

A trio of Bankler's arrived while we were playing Pillars, so there was some galactic racing in the kitchen while the game finished up.

And since we were now six, we decided to play Power Grid, and used the France map and the second plant deck. I will admit that my Power Grid strategy improves much each time that I play it, so I am pleased to say that I did not come in last this time. It was down to who had the most money in the end, and Chris nudged me and Jacqui out of the way to declare his victory. I will say I like the poker chips for money much better than the paper, but it is also a lot harder to keep ones poker chips a secret.

Scott left after Power Grid, and a little while after that for work. Yay research! All in all it was a nice Saturday of gaming, and I shall be very sad that there will not soon be another Saturday. It looks like Monday is a go for several people, which will be nice, since I think its my last real night of freedom, holiday weekends notwithstanding, until oh, the end of August. I might misbehave and sneak some gaming in as stress relief, but for the most part, I shall be a game free Tiffy. Except for SBW, since online gaming is something that I can totally do at work and home while grant writing.

I am sure that there will be some more to add to the session report -- since there was still, i believe, gaming in the works
when I left, but this is what I've got.

Oh-- one more thing. And this is a shameless plug. If anyone wants to play the Tiffany has to move from building 15 to building 8 game sometime around June 25-29th for fame, glory, vp, food, drinks, and maybe beer, let me know. :)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Weekend planning

Alright, which one of you wiseguys forgot to put up a Saturday planning post?

Oh, that might have been me.

A little later than usual, but I'll host this weekend. The good news is that the roads ought to be clear since everyone in San Antonio will be at DL for the unveiling of D&D 4.0. (Really, why does D&D have a number-point-number designation? It's not a computer program. Just saying...) I'll open at the usual 9am until whenever. No specific games planned as far as I know. I personally am in a cubes mood again, so I wouldn't turn down Shogun, Caylus Magna Carta, Traders of Genoa, or The Big, but I don't actually own any of them either. I do own baseball, Power Grid, Notre Dame, and Pillars + expansion (baseball doesn't have cubes, but I'd play it).
I'd also play Combat Commander, but one of my counter sheets is miscut and I'm still waiting for the replacement in the mail, so someone else would have to bring it. We may also have enough to run Descent. Post if you can make it.


Anybody going to Essen this year?

Because I need a mule.

Chili Games only sells direct so the postage makes it cost-prohibitive.

And the mule metaphor is especially apt because the game weighs a friggin' ton.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

BattleLore Lovers Unite!

Here's a geek that makes me normal....

Labels: ,


It gets its own post since I don't know Scott's BGG id. ANd I still live with the vain hope that other people might want to join. I will be starting a game of Tikal at some point today. Maybe with the auction variant. But probably not. I was also thinking of doing Hoity Toity on SBW. Since I wanna learn how to play it. I will be commenting on this later with the game names and passwords. Comment if interested. But I think its the usual me, Sean, Jeff and Amy. We shall wait and see.......

Civilization Revolution

The demo is out today (360 and PS3).

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Two Rare Events

Event 1: We recently passed our 1,000th entry on this blog. Hurrah for us!

Event 2: Sat Jun 28 the Kostek house will be open for games.

I was thinking about my open gaming window, and I decided the prettiest thing I could put in it would be a 6 player game of Mare Nostrum.

Steve delights in saying that he'll never play, and there are other non-enthusiasts in the group. Fair enough.

For anyone interested in ancient warfare, send me an email or geekmail (to "kostek"). The box claims 2 hrs, but we'll have a lot of newbies, teaching, lunch, snacks, etc. Let's plan for 4 hrs.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Apathy Board Gaming Monday + Request

When I arrived at the gaming venue, Chris, Brian and Sean were racing for that far away galaxy while I perused the comics. Apparently a lot of people like sword wielding mice. At least enough for there to be action figures. Sean came to fetch me and we settled down for a game of hmmm what shall we play. I suggested Tikal, jokingly, cause it was still in my bag o games from Saturday. Brian suggested Alhambra, and Sean voted for Tongiaki. We ended up playing Puerto Rico. Sean's corn economy and my diversified economy lost to the sugar plants Chris had going, but Brian and his bonus shipping VP's pulled it out for the win.

With about 10 minutes left in out game Jon and Michael arrived, and Al had arrived sometime earlier. So they decided to play Race. We finished up Puerto rico and were left with a well....hmmm.....what now thing. So we played no thanks. I did not win. Yay high cards. Then we played bridge, to pass the time. And the table of Go-ers commented on the oddity bridge in the comic book shopness.

It was established that Jon and Sean -- me thinks-- were going to play baseball. But in an odd twist of fate-- no one brought their teams. So we set out to find a game to play that we could do seven with.

But Michael played the food game.

And we played The Devil's Ride to the Castle game. Oddly enough the table was divided quite easily in half. The guys with the keys won it both times, though the goblets almost got it in the end. if they hadn't stolen all out goblets so we had to get them back and not win. But ah well. Al left after game one. And Michael wandered back with his prize from the food game.

Then Brian called it quits. And that left me, Jon, Sean, Chris and Michael to play Smarty Party. Which I lost at. Wonderfully. As per usual as these party trivia games the group seems to like. But it was fun. Though the difference between Rail and Subway as modes of transportation is a bit iffy.

And on to the request. I wanna start another spielbywebgame. Maybe Tikal. Maybe Santiago. Maybe Amun-Re. Maybe all three. Anyone want to join. I would much prefer to play Tikal in person. But unless random peeps wanna play and gather apartment for a smallish gaming session I doubt that will happen. so SBW it is. Any takers. i think most of the peoples in here know my BGG name. Which is Toggy. So message me if you is interested. Or comment. Please :)