Saturday, August 29, 2015

Civilization: the boardgame

About 2 years ago, Jeff, Jim and myself sat down and played Sid Meier's Civilization. We enjoyed the game and finally got around to another game after 2 years.

I highly enjoyed the Civ computer games since the 90s, and indeed, Jim, Jeff and myself enjoy 4X games (Exploration, Extermination, Exploitation, and Expansion) in general, so I was raring to play again. . 

The first hour or two, we struggled with the rules, as we forgot how to play, but eventually, we got into the groove of things, though one of us had a bit of analysis-paralysis.

I played the Romans led by Julius Caesar (yellow), Jim the Germans led by Bismarck (in Green) and Jeff the Egyptians led by Cleopatra (in Blue).

Playing the gallant Romans.. sum civis Romanus!

Starting off slowly and expanding, sending settlers across terra incognito.. 

The busy market board was a hive of activity like usual buying troops and getting buildings for your city..

With the terrain all explored, came the obligatory threatening moves from the other players as they started to send their armies across.. 

The simple combat system is fast and furious.. in the example below, enemy mounted and artillery troops face off against one's mounted troop.

 Another example, this time facing off the barbarian hordes..

Jeff it seems was going for a cultural victory, not because he was a beacon of peace and love, but he heard that the core game makes it very hard to win a cultural victory. So he started investing in Wonders of the World. I got one wonder myself, Stonehenge..

Once I got it though, I had Spinal Tap's song in my head and I whipped out my phone and played their song through Youtube.

Deep in thought, I tried to entice Jeff by playing "Walk like an Egyptian" also on my phone given he was playing the Egyptians.

This game take a lot of room. My 6 foot table barely met the space requirements.

At one point, Jim came down to threaten one of my cities...

but it was a feint, as he went back North to threaten Jeff. Both of them started to move more and more troops near each other, jockeying for position.. 

I was watching them getting ready for WW3..

While Jim was distracted, I moved North and threatened one of his cities, blockading 4 of his industrial capacity... 

 As soon as I did that, he scrambled Westward and disengaged from Jeff, heading right for my lone yellow army group..

A move I didn't think much of (as I never intended to seriously besiege his city), turned into an armed border now with Jim and I.. 

We were feverishly researching tech all along, and since Jim was now coming after me, I invested heavily in military tech, like railroad (which gives me experienced lvl 3 infantry).

With Jeff now given some breathing room, he got Atomic Theory and nuked one of Jim's cities. The turn after that, he won a tech victory by getting to space first. This was exactly what happened 2 years ago. He nuked Jim and then won a tech victory. I guess he thought Jim was the more dangerous opponent.

An enjoyable session, we will play again now that we are familiar with the rules. Only we'll play with one of the expanasions to the game.

Acquired some hard to find wargame terrain

I lucked out and came across 10-15 year old terrain for 40K, but in truth, can be used in industrial or near-industrial period, from the Napoleonic Wars onwards. It is GW's Chapel of Sanctuary, painted and assembled. It even came with the original box.

The "stain-glass" windows seems a little warped, but one can chalk it up to battlefield damage.

A nice addition to my 25-28mm terrain.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Solitaire Play: The Hunters campaign April 1941 Part 2

Please see part 1.

I decided to continue the campaign tonight as I had a bit of downtime.

After a month of refit, I'm going out on patrol in April 1941. I rolled West African Coast, but per the chart, for a VII, it was changed to Atlantic.

Goody, as Atlantic has convoys.

No encounters in the Bay of Biscay, or the transit locale, but when I reached the first Atlantic locale, I got.. a convoy!! Finally. I rolled a night attack and the following 4 ships were rolled:

Target 1: Port Hardy 8,900 tons  (large freigher)

Target 2: Marcrest 4,200 tons  (small freigher)

Target 3: Nicolas Pateras  4,400 tons (small freighter)

Target 4: Bretagne, 10,000 (large freighter).

I decided to do a night surface attack and allocated 5 torpedoes, 4 from the bow and 1 from the aft, which means I am penalized slightly for the escort detection.

-1 Night Surface Attack  +1 Medium Range = 0 modifier to my attack. Needed a 7 or less on 2d6

Tube 1... los!     Miss!

Tube 2....los!    Miss!

Tube 3...los!... Hit.. not a dud... only 1 damage.. Not enough to sink her

Tube 4.. los!    Hit.. not a dud.. only 1 damage also.. Not enough to sink her.

Aft Tube.. los!... Hit.. a DUD!!!! argghh..

Since I was doing a night surface attack, I'm allowed to do a 2nd salvo with my Aft torpedo again.

 I missed again on the 2nd salvo. 

None of the ships were sunk, and now had to roll for Escort detection.. Thankfully, I was not detected. However, I just burned 6 torpedoes out of 14 in my inventory for nothing.

Next Atlantic locale saw no contacts.

In the next Atlantic locale, I got another convoy. Also a night attack. I decided to do close, but submerged attack, to get the favourable rolls (need an 8 or less).

The targets were:

Target 1 Starcross 4,700 tons (small freighter)

Target 2 Culebra 3,000 tons (small freighter)

Target 3 Moldanger 6,800 tons (large freighter)

Target 4 Louisiane 7,000 tons (large freighter)

Tube 1... los!     Hit! Not a dud.. 2 points of damage.. SUNK!

Tube 2....los!    Hit! Not a dud.. 1 point of damage only. Not sunk.

Tube 3...los!... Miss!

Tube 4.. los!   Hit! Not a dud.. 1 point of damage only. Not sunk.

You got to be kidding me. Only 1 ship sunk...

Thankfully, I was not detected by the escort.

I am down to 4 torpedoes left, with 3 more locales to finish this patrol.

Luckily, or unluckily, I had no encounters in them and finished my patrol with just 1 ship sunk, the Starcross, just 4,700 tons.

Well, that was disappointing. C'est la guerre.

No damage, so only 1 month of refit. Next patrol will be in June 1941.

Continued in part 3.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Solitaire Play: The Hunters campaign October 1940 to March 1941 Part 1

I've been playing some computer WW2 sub games lately, as I've been in the Uboat mood. I actually have 2 solitaire Uboat board games, and decided to try the one I haven't done yet called The Hunters by Consim Press. I am not sure, but I might have preordered this on the GMT's P500 list.

It's rated 7.83 on the geek as of this posting.

When I opened it up today, I was a bit disappointed to see no map. I just assumed there would be a map of the Atlantic, but no. The game appeared abstract.

The Hunters is chart heavy, with 8 pages of charts to consult and the usual flipping several charts all the time. It reminded me of the Avalon Hill wargames I played as a kid in the 80s. However, the game itself is pretty easy. I'd give it the old 4/10 complexity using the old Avalon Hill classification.

It's a solitaire game, with lots of rolling on charts to determine where you're going, what targets, and even if it's day or night. All at the abstract level as you pick the range and it doesn't really matter where the ship is compaired to your u-boat. You pick the time period to start, which determines encounters and such, but the campaign ends in 1943, presumably as the war turned against Doenitz and his crews historically.

So, I created my captain, and rolled his starting rank (Leutnant zur See). I picked the workhorse of the uboat fleet, the type VIIC and picked October 1940. I only have 3 years to survive the war in this campaign. I picked a number off the top of my head, the U-303, as my boat.

My first patrol was rolled and it was to the British Isles. Surprisingly, there is not much pickings around Britain, with just one roll for a convoy.

You move your U-boat by location to location, so I start off in the Bay of Biscay, then a transit place, then some British Isles locales, and then head home. On my first patrol in the Bay of Biscay and in the transit box, I spotted nothing. Zilch.

Then in the British Isles, I got a lone ship, a large freighter, the Thursobank, 5,600 tons (roll 98).  My first catch of the day.

I decided that since the ship is unescorted and all alone, I would do a surface attack during the day, close range and use 2 points of deck gun ammo. I hit successfully, and gave it 3 points of damage, and sank her. My first kill of my career.

All too easy. So far so good.

The next British Isle attack was an aircraft attack against me, but I successfully crash dived. The last two boxes home were uneventful.

So, there you have it. My first patrol was 1 ship only spotted and sunk. Did not see anything else. Truly, the war for the Uboat arm must have been easy in 1940.

Since I did not get a scratch, no extra time was added to my ship refit, so I only get one month of refit for November 1940. My next patrol was December 1940. The boys will have to spend Christmas out a sea.

My rolled (assigned patrol) for December 1940 was again the British Isles. The Bay of Biscay and the Transit box were uneventful, but when I got to the British Isles, I rolled and got a small frieghter, the Sliedrecht, 5,000 tons.

Again, I decided that since the ship is unescorted and all alone, I would do a surface attack, close range and use 2 points of deck gun ammo. My first shot missed, but the second shot was a hit, inflicting 2 damage, enough to send the Sliedrecht to the bottom.

The next two locales, I spotted nothing, but in the third, I got another ship, also a small freighter, the Annavore, 3,300 tons.

I decided again that since the ship is unescorted and all alone, I would do a surface attack, close range and use 2 points of deck gun ammo. The first salvo hit but only 1 damage inflicted and the 2nd resulted in 2 points of damage, sinking her. The rest of the patrol, I spotted nothing again and made it home to port safely.

Minimum 1 month of refit and off to my 3rd patrol, in February 1941, again assigned to the British Isles. It's too bad I have not gotten the target rich areas like the mid Atlantic, but orders are orders. Again, the Bay of Biscay and Transit locales were uneventful. In the British Isles, I spotted a tanker, the  E.P. Brown, 10,500 tons all alone with no escorts.

It was a night attack encounter. This time, I decided to use 2 torpedoes. Early in the war though, I risk firing duds even if I hit, but 10,500 tons requires 4 points of damage to sink, so torpedoes it is. I decided to use Tube 1 and 2, which had G7a steam torpedoes. Per the rules, steam torpedoes left a trail of bubbles and were easier for escorts to detect, but since there are no escorts in this enounter, it wasn't a problem here. First torpedo hit, and I thankfully rolled not a dud, but only inflicted 1 damage. Second torpoedo hit, also not a dud, with 4 damage. Enough to send this fat tanker to the bottom.

The next locale also in the British Isles was again, no convoy, but a lone unescorted ship, the  Traveller, 4,000 tons.

I used my 2 ammo units of my deck guns, and they both hit, with 1 damage each, enough to sink her. The next locale saw nothing, but my last locale crossing in the British Isles had me crossing paths with the Bronte, a large freighter of 5,300 tons. I decided to use tubes 1 and 3, 1 steam torpedo (a G7a) and 1 electric (G7e).

Tubes 1 and 3........los!

1 G7a and G7e torpedo allocated to this target.

They both hit, and neither was a dud. One torpedo only inflicted 1 point of damage, and the other 2, enough to sink her.
I made it back to port without further incident. Since this was my 3rd patrol, I rolled for crew experience, and found out my crew going forward is "veteran", not simply "trained." My Leutnant zur See is only eligible for promotion every 12 months, so no roll yet.

You write down all ships enountered by patrol and circle those you sank. S=small freighter, L=Large Freighter, T=Tanker. R=Refit month. Patrol 1 sank 5,600 tons. Patrol 2, 8,300 tons and Patrol 3, 19,800 tons. I'm bucking to get 100,000 tons to get the coveted Knight's Cross in the game (there are counters for it too!).

And there you have it. 3 patrols that were played fairly quickly. So far, the game has not been tense and I've yet to see a single escort, let alone be depth charged and take damage and flooding.

Will Leutnant zur See Byteknight live to 1943? We shall see! Next patrol is April 1941.

Please see part 2.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Designing a free Pnp Game inspired by Highlander pt 4

See parts  2 and 3

I sat down with Jim, Pix and CB to playtest my latest version of my Immortals game. This time, I revamped the fighting system and took Jim' suggestion to have each player build a deck.

I had 20 painted minis ready, and I gave them assorted names.

My printed out board was ready and set up for today's playtest. 

In game 1 of the playtest tonight, we had players discard their combat cards into a single discard pile to draw from, but it was not working out correctly. Also, we had players only draw an event card when they moved to Consecrated Land. That also did not work out well.

In game 2, we had players have their own discard pile, and drew up their hand into a pre-fighting inventory hand, of which they can then draw their fighting hand. That worked out okay but conservative players like CB just hung around building up a huge inventory. Something to fix in the next playtest to discourage that. The tactic of building up and avoiding fights though, backfired as those characters were too weak in terms of Hastening points, to face characters that took chances.

The Event card mechanism worked a lot better as every player got 2 Event cards every turn no matter what. Everyone used the Event cards more aggressively consequently. 

Pix surprised us all by using this card to betray one of her own characters and used it to build a powerful character. I was hesitant to create this card, but now I see it can be fun to use.

The Grand Assembly where the few Immortals were left met in Mexico City on turn 16. I thought it was going to be a cake walk for the player in red, but he had 3 low level characters vs the powerful purple Immortal..

 Fittingly, the first fight in the Assembly was in an underground parking garage.

 The last fights were drawn out affairs and a bit see saw... Four became 3 out of the initial 20 Immortals..

and then there were two. Only Jiao and Gurinder remained..

Pix's Jiao won game 2.. 

Gotta go back and tweak the rules system some more after learning about the effects of the current game mechanics from today's play..

I look forward to the next playtest...