Saturday, December 29, 2012


A couple years back, I vowed to stop getting into new games, and focusing on painting figs for the games I already own. 2012 was the year that vow was truly blown up, the remains chopped into little pieces, those pieces burned, and the ashes scattered in separate locations.

No more fitting way to put the year of new games to rest than trying out a new one. Matakishi's Tea House is the home to the CROM skirmish fantasy ruleset. The rules themselves are highly attractive. Each character has a dice pool which they assign every turn to movement, attacking, or other actions. As characters are damaged, they lose dice from their pool. Minions are easy to chew through, but be careful, because even small amounts of damage become costly in short order. Initiative is by cards, with some extra treats thrown in. I definitely recommend checking out the rules when you're looking for an evening of high adventure and don't want to spend hours writing your army list, building your characters, and looking up how this special rule interacts with that special rule. If I may quote The Middleman (one of my favorite cult TV shows) "it's elegant in its simplicity."

(Also, you have to always say CROM! like it's in all caps. That's not in the rules, but I think it should be.)

Simple scenario:  Freya, one of the heroes of the Aesgaard tribe, had been kidnapped by the Dark Warrior and his foul hyena-men minions. Each of us took one of the three Aesgaard warriors (Wotan, Lokhi, and Freyr.) To win, we had to free Freya from the sacrificial circle in the middle. Each of the towers was topped by a otherworldly statue. The one to the west gave all the evil characters an extra dice on the attack, and the one to the east gave them an extra dice for defense.

The Dark Warrior and the Hyena-Men are from Splintered Light.

Being warriors both clever and mighty, we split up early. Freyr and Lokhi each dispatch to one of the towers to rob the wicked enemy of their magical support. Wotan distracted the Dark Warrior by getting himself injured and then running around. OK, it was a little more noble than that, but we definitely uncovered why it's better to use terrain for your advantage when sneaking up on one gifted with mystical power.

Aesgaard barbarians are the Northlanders from Copplestone.

Lokhi craftily lures his foe around the east tower.

After the towers were sieged and the statues toppled, our heroes set their sights on freeing their fellow hero. This is where things... went poorly.


Both Freyr and Wotan were felled while storming the ritual circle. Lokhi, himself gravely wounded, used Freyr's sacrifice not to strike down the Dark Warrior... but free Freya from her bonds! Surely with her sword fresh and ready for battle, the tide would turn!

Or not. Lokhi was felled by the remaining hyena-men, and the Dark Warrior, enraged that his ritual was interrupted, srtuck Freya down in short order. No tales of glory would be sung by the Aesgaard that day.

The game is a treat, fast-paced and fun. We each ran one hero, and essentially ran the dark forces by consensus, but a gamemaster could have readily taken that role instead. Definitely a pleasant way to round out the gaming year.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

sefadu vs. USCR, times two

OK, couple posts left to catch up on to close the year out.  

Couple weeks back, Maurice and I sat down for a couple games of Mercs. Less detail written out, but more pics, so here we are.

First up was my first three-on-three battle. The dynamic of the smaller teams was interesting, even if the pick for sefadu was pretty easy (both the Leader and the Medic are that good, and then the Grenadier is a natural #3.) My esteemed opponent went USCR, and selected his Commissar, the Sniper, and the Medic. We played on the 'Docks' map, no secondary objectives or anything fancy like that.

Most of the action centered on the small building on the east of the map. He put his Sniper on top of the crates nearby so he could cover the battlefield, while I unwisely spread out my troops for a three-pronged assault (and denying my troops the Leader's bonuses, naturally.) A quick back-and-forth ensued, but in the end the spear of sefadu did the job.

For our second game we returned to the five-man teams. My objective was Secure the Target, so I had to have troops near the objective in the middle of the board at the end. Luckily there was some terrain I could hug until then. 

The deciding factor for, like, everyone, was when Maurice rolled... Deliver the Package. Meaning he had to have the carrier in my deployment zone at the end of the game. Naturally he rolled for the carrier and got the Leader, and that's a long walk for their low, low movement values.

The fab five.

The above picture is not a glamor shot, it was the actual USCR deployment. Going for the icy human wave ('the glacier'?) The plan was to just move forward and neutralize threats. And an early shot from the USCR Sniper ruined the next few turns for my Grenadier, which was a great way to kick things off.

I pushed forward rapidly, like sefadu does, and claimed the 'cornered' ruins in the pic above. The centerpoint objective is maybe a card length away from the left wall there. On the upper right, you can see the glacier making its way south.

Not pictured, in the back right of my deployment, is the sefadu Gunner. Much like my Grenadier, the Gunner got hit by a shot from across the field, and spends the next few turns fixing his armor, tying him up and forcing me to rely on the crew in the middle.

 I have disparaged the Berserker in the past, but he really proved his value today. Making my stand on the cornered terrain was my best decision of the day, really. I normally try to rely on more of a moving game, but I had to stop the carrier and I had to take the objective, so it was a natural fit.

The Booster was following up on the Commissar... until the Booster needed to Matryr himself to stop an errant grenade from the backfield. Unexpected!

 The Berserker  takes advantage of the situation!

The glacier eventually breaks past, though, but who should show up to save the day? The flippin' Gunner. Boom boom pow. My Leader and Medic are still camped out in the center, and the days is ours.

I have to admit, playing against USCR was a very different adventure. Just leaving the Sniper at home was a change of pace.

And since Mercs is so fast-paced, after that we still had time to play through a game of Netrunner. Which I hadn't played in many, many years. To the point that I really didn't remember how it worked anymore.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

catching up with zombies and leprechauns

A couple diverse catch-ups today.

After trying out Tomorrow's War in November, I sat down with the gents to play Zombicide. Mostly letting the other guys explain how things work, and suggest what my dude should do, as it's one of those cooperative games. For instance, Maurice suggested I tack along with his guy, and try to strike out on our own to collect a couple of the far objectives.

And then Maurice got me killed. I was the orange guy.

The game is pretty fun. The survivors have a lot of character, and as they gain experience they play quite differently. That combined with different scenarios means a lot of replay value in my book, although I fear there's a bit too much fiddly-ness to have the game catch on with non-minis gamers. Time will tell. Formally, I regret that I didn't cough in for the kickstarter deal, because those are some pretty models. 

(I did see that it definitely won't supplant my desire to play a nice sturdy zombie miniatures game, however. Currently looking into rules I'd like to try out. Logically, either 7ombieTV or No Room Left In Hell, since I, you know, own both.)
Last week, we started playing around with the Mercs campaign rules (PDF free to download here,) just rolling through a few turns to see how it works. Definitely a good start, but some kinks that will need to be worked out. I'm OK with building up forces to viable strength, but it's missing a sense of... competitiveness? Something.

While the other guys played their campaign game, Aaron taught me how to play Smash Up. As you may have ascertained by now, I am a man who enjoys board games, and I have a sordid CCG past. So the current trend in deckbuilding games is OK by me. Smash Up is straightforward and fun. The cards are very clear, and the trick of combining two forces (Faerie-Dinosaurs vs. Pirate-Robots!) is a great hook, and allows some interesting strategies. Definitely looking forward to trying out some more games in the future.

We were also going to try out Matakishi's fantasy rules CROM, but didn't get around to it. Soon! I even painted up figs and all. 15mm fantasy has arrived.

And finally, for the five of you still reading, if you haven't coughed in for the AE-WWII Kickstarter, now is the time. The game is a personal fave, and I would love to see it get a new roll-out. Yes, December is a rough month for everyone financially, but good games is good games.