Saturday, March 30, 2013

Gruntz: Nova Cisterna

Last week, Maurice and I sat down for a little Gruntz action. One of the takeaways from the con was a re-interest in narrative games, so Maurice threw together a scenario for the battle of Cisterna (based on this article he was reading.)

The EHTC launched Operation Laser Shingle as an attempt to dislodge the Kontrol Battalions from Nova Cisterna before Kontrol could completely secure the planet. Kent's "Power" Rangers dropped in before dawn, behind the Kontrol bulkhead for a nighttime raid. Unfortunately, the drop put them farther behind the front lines than they intended, so taking stock of their location, they chose to seize the relay station to disrupt communications and sow havoc.

Kontrol troopers man the defenses. The game started with nighttime conditions, dramatically limiting range. The beginning of every turn, we rolled to see when dawn would arrive.

The map layout, which my esteemed opponent took right from the historical battle. The outmanned elite Rangers were marching up the drainage ditch in the center of the board towards the relay station in the upper northeast corner. Kontrol forces, more numerous but less well-trained and less well-equipped, took up defensive positions on the north side. On the east side, the "Chocodile" APC took up a flanking position near a field. It would accomplish... very little all day.

We actually randomized the Kontrol deployment to a certain extent, to show their lack of preparation for a stand-up fight. This lead to a couple turns of running around in the hopes of being ready for the coming Ranger assault.

The Rangers made good time while the darkness held out, seizing the initiative and moving north quickly, inflicting decent casualties on the closest Kontrol troops, while only taking light incoming fire.

Due to the randomization, the Kontrol leader ended up in the northeast corner, far from the bulk of his squads. However, he was in the same area as the Mantid mercenaries, aliens employed by Kontrol as shock troopers, notorious for their vicious assaults. As dawn arrived, the Kontrol leader ordered the Mantids to bounce into combat, and away they flew. The initial charge didn't inflict many casualties on the Rangers...

...But the Mantids' melee prowess was matched by their stamina and determination. They tied up and bloodied the Rangers, wearing them out with a protracted fight and slowly but surely taking the upper hand.

(Not pictured: the APC in the backfield, which after multiple turns of misses, finally makes a single hit, taking out the Rangers heavy weapons soldier.)

The Rangers eventually defeated the Mantids, but between those losses and the Kontrol support weapons picking off stragglers, only two Rangers were left standing. The Kontrol troops lined up and opened fire, putting an end to the surprise attack.

Excellent game, definitely could have gone either way. The first few turns were all him, and then initiative and the dice swung things towards Kontrol.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cold Wars 2013

A couple weekends back, we made the trek to Pennsylvania for Cold Wars 2013 for some gaming, shopping, and selling.

Promptly on arriving (and after an inauspicious 90-minute detour) at the con, I signed in and headed straight to my first game, "Duke Morrison and the Mounties." Nothing like pulp action first thing in the morning. I played some dastardly French trappers allied with the alien invaders and some bootlegging gangsters, facing off against the noble Duke Morrisson ("I hate that guy.") and his backup from the Royal Canadian Mounted.

GASLIGHT is very popular with the HMGS convention crowd. It's not my favorite ruleset, but it works well, and the players seem to have a lot of experience with it. And I'm an easy sell, so give me a French trapper named "Rattler Ralph" and I'm good.

Mounties make their way across the ice. Minis were primarily from Pulp Figures, and man, great stuff.

One of my favorite parts of the game: the Mounties had their brave canine companion, Yukon King, along for the ride. Any time a baddie targeted King with an attack, everyone, good guys and bad, spontaneously went 'BOO!' And when King won the roll and was fine, everyone went 'YAY!' It was fifty shades of awesome.

Evil French trappers hide in ambush in the woods, taking (ineffective) shots at the Mounties.

In a moment of ill-planned aggression, the trappers charge out to engage in fisticuffs with the good guys. This... doesn't end well for our foul henchmen.

The aliens' subterranean lair awaits!

After the game, picked up a couple hot items at the dealers' hall, mostly things I thought might sell out by the second day. Sadly, I put off a couple purchases from Acheson, and true to form, they sold out by the time I made it back with my cash on Saturday. Next time.

Another thing that caught my eye was test models for All Quiet on the Martian Front, a new 15mm War of the Worlds game. Definitely will be checking that out more later.

Friday evening was playing Songs of Our Ancestors, the Quar ruleset from Ganesha Games. I'd played some Ganesha rules previously, so I knew what to expect, and I have to admit, they worked pretty well for a large con game. Measuring sticks aren't my thing in general, but really speed things up. (And card activation really is faster than dice.)

Basic layout. Road runs from south to north. To the east of the crossroads, a tavern that we Crusaders had to 'pacify.' North on the road is the brewery that the Partisans had taken over. A supply depot was located on the road leading west.

I admit I am a sucker for blind movement. Each player had a couple chips to assign their troops to, plus a couple blanks to move around. Chips remained until encountered by an enemy and successfully spotted. So the game started with a game of cat-and-mouse, as players positioned, angled, and tried to ID what was real and what was a decoy.

Two brave Quar. Those trees were also pretty nifty, and theoretically easy to make (and shockingly sturdy.)

The tavern! The terrain was very cool.

My job with the Crusade was to protect the caravan, which came in on the south of the road, and needed to make it to the supply depot. I was particularly bad at it. My first encounter with the enemy was when my leader was killed in an ambush in the forest. The forest in which we were hiding, to ambush the partisans.

The brewery, which the partisans decided they would blow up instead of seize. Those fiends.

Half the caravan gone, my surviving troops lead the survivors through the relative safety of the forest to  reach the depot. Fun game, even if it did really cement my not-winning streak for the day.

Maurice and Aaron spent their Friday doing up the Flames of War doubles tournament. You can check out Maurice's full report here.

Their first game, which by all accounts went splendidly for them.

Their second game, on a nifty desert board.

Friday night was spent playing Zombicide and Lords of Waterdeep, both highly worthy board games.

Following are a few table setups I observed while wandering the con. I love wandering the con, so much eye candy. As a renter, I don't have a huge amount of space for terrain storage, so I am often impressed by some of the layouts I see at conventions.

I believe this was for the big Resident Evil game, and wow. The rooms were covered until they were encountered during the scenario, so the players really didn't know what they were getting into. Lots of narrative potential there.

The bluffs here were massive. So cool.

Old West table setup. Simple, but highly playable. We'll be trying out Blackwater Gulch in the near future, and one day I am eager to try out 7tv for a Wild Wild West game.

Saturday morning was up early for the Wally's Basement flea market deal. Didn't make quite as much as at Historicon, nor did my Imperial Guard sell as well as I'd hoped. Nevertheless, took in enough cash to cover most of my purchases in the dealers' hall (mostly Rebel, Acheson, and Old Glory.) So, success. Took notes for what to bring to Historicon come summer.

This is what happened to my Saturday night. Good times.

And when I finally made it home Sunday, this was greeting me on the front door. Note my daughter took the time to not only illustrate our bad cat knocking my minis off the table, but also the other cat scowling at him.

For more reading, Maurice gives us his con coverage here, plus some great tables by O My Ruritania! and gaming by the inimitable Doctor Merkury. I also missed the Santa Claus vs. the Nazis GASLIGHT game, but wow.

Friday, March 15, 2013

but first, zombies

Viva el Cholo!

Before I dump the Cold Wars reports, let me cover gaming from this past Wednesday night. I completely regret missing the first Zombicide kickstarter, so when they announced the expansion in the new kickstarter can be a stand-alone version, I knew I would want to buy in, and then some. In addition to something I can play with the gaming crowd, it's a good board game for the non-minis set as well, and as noted earlier, My wife Maia and I play a lot of board games. Wednesday also happened to be the eighth anniversary of when we started dating, so what better way to celebrate than killin' zombies and rolling dice?

I said Maurice should wear a tie, since he was running the demo on our anniversary. He did!

Joey, do you like movies about gladiators?

When we got there (slightly late) they were running through Spartacus. Aaron talked us through the anatomy of a turn, and gave us some tips on how the game works. Definitely looked interesting, I appreciate how it appears to work on a couple different levels at once, angling for influence, wagering on the arena, etc. Will likely check it out more thoroughly in the near future.

And then there was Zombicide. Maia and Heather got a quick rundown of how the game worked, and then we all walked through an easy scenario. No trouble at all. Buoyed by that performance, we tackled the first scenario, which has proven deadly in previous attempts...

Fearless zombie killers Maia, Heather, and King Maurice

...And through a combination of teamwork, good dice rolls, and benevolent card draws, we won! Heather played Nick, and camped out at an intersection, killing everything as it came in range (while making plenty of noise to draw in more.) Maia took el Cholo, and I took Amy, and we were a whirlwind of blades to anything that got closer. Good searches early and some liberal swapping of equipment paved our way. Teamwork!

Maia liked the game, but was looking forward to some scenarios with more tactical depth. Which sounds pretty wargamey, if you ask me, heh. Definitely a good night of gaming.