Category Archives: Wargames
Happy Sunday everyone. Hopefully, you tossed a few dice, checked results on a CRT, and played the right OPS card at the right time. Speaking of which, I’d like to thank the folks over at the various wargame-centric Facebook pages for taking a look herein, and also for answering my question regarding LNL’s Rommel at Gazala CRT results! The answer is rather obvious…now that it was suggested. Thanks, again!
So, this is a continuation of brief descriptions/AARs/musings over the remaining two games I played in the last week. Both were solo affairs, and in the end I liked one a lot more than the other. Let’s go!
Always searching for a great solo ‘Nam game, I picked up this title and had high hopes for it.
With Khe Sanh ’68 by Decision Games we have a small format game which uses a point-to-point movement system, is somewhat card-driven, and is entirely a solitaire game. I love Vietnam War consims, and the battle for Khe Sanh is an excellent choice for exploration.
Pictured above is the game after set-up and before the first turn. NVA units are inverted to facilitate the fog of war through-out game play. The hexagons are US firebases, the squares clear, the circles jungle, the triangles hills, the red stars the NVA bases, the red squares NVA entrenchments. The cards represent different actions depending on sides; the US cards give reinforcements, bonuses, and help determine if a turn is used or not. The OPFOR cards completely dictate movement for the NVA, also bringing in reinforcements, and adding some bonuses. The overall objective: keep or take Khe Sanh.
US always goes first. You pick a card and use it, bring in reinforcements, move, and have combat. The NVA draws a card which determines whether they get to do any of those actions. There is a number on each card, both US and OPFOR, which determines if turns are used (or added) to the turn track.
I’ve played this game twice, and have won with a “Tactical Victory” each time. Unfortunately, it’s a leaves a hollow victory in my gut. The game is extremely repetitive, with choices that don’t really feel all that effective. Maybe, in some regards, this simulates the Vietnam conflict all too well? As a game, it’s tedious. Fortunately, it doesn’t take up a great deal of time.
Okay, I know: not a wargame. I cover all types of games herein, so if you’re only visiting for consims this is your chance to make a quick exit.
I love Victory Point Games (VPG) States of Siege games, their wargames, and a number of their Euros, this specific title falling into the latter category. I have bought all of their partnered titles with GMT, and had hoped for a long relationship between the two publishers. I helped Kickstart their Nemo’s War, 2nd Edition. I am extremely curious about their recent news of leaving California, overseas printing, and their relocation process.
So, after the rather depressing game of Khe Sanh ’68, I brought out Disaster on Everest (DoE). Pictured above is the game at set-up, before first play.
You pick a team of guides and hikers out of four possible teams. Each guide and hiker has their own movement values, and their own abilities and skills–each allows some sort of travel or survival bonus, but varied enough to be both interesting, and challenging to play. The team starts at the High Camp spot on the board; above, the rectangle at the bottom of the board with the two square markers (the guides) and the six circular marker (hikers).
The object: lead the hikers to the top of Everest and then back down to the High Camp. Points are awarded for success, or are lost due to misfortune.
Gameplay starts with a random drawing of an event token. Each token has three items of importance to game flow: the event itself, the cost in prestige to buy the event, and a number which represents which passes are blocked with snow. While there is duplication of event tokens, there are enough included within the components to not draw the same one (generally) twice in a row. So, there are some events which you will want to purchase, like oxygen tanks (which help with movement), and others which represent catastrophes that slow movement or even kill hikers. All the while, there are threats of a storm brewing; unpurchased event tokens are placed on the Storm Watch track , and once the six spaces are filled the storm hits. Movement is reduced, and the game is over in nine turns.
The combination of events, passes being blocked with snow, a brewing storm, and the need to reach the top of Everest, makes for a nail-biting experience. There were hikers I was rooting for, one guide which I thought was better, and I really hoped to achieve the summit and bring the team back home.
Only two of my team made it to the summit, Candie and Fernando, and as you can see above, Candie was two spaces away from reaching High Camp on her descent. Fernando still had three passes to navigate. Simon and Hektor never made it beyond the South Summit.
When the game is over, you return all of the event tokens to the drawing cup and pick one for each character. See the tokens in the Storm Watch track? See how they have Lost, Near, Medium, and Far, with Saved, Live, or Die? You draw one for each hiker (not the guides) and determine whether they made it back to High Camp if still on the board making their way up or down Everest. In the picture above, none of my team had gotten lost (see the empty Lost box?), so I had to draw for all hikers in the green “Near” circles, and the one in the red or “Far” circle. The ones in the black circles near the top were doomed, and I drew all “Die” results for the remainders. The guide with Candie is allowed to sacrifice himself, so she didn’t die, but then I didn’t get many points for her regardless.
After the complete team wipe, I scored a -15. The result: horrific loss.
But dang if it wasn’t fun losing! I’ll bring this gem back out, guaranteed!
Been a good week for some gaming! I somehow managed to get four separate games on the table, a record for the last few years. I think I’ve been averaging pretty well, but not at this level in some time.
Let’s get going, shall we? This post will discuss the two games covering the North African Front that I played this week.
I won this game through the Facebook Wargamer Pay it Forward group, which is an outstanding community of goodwill and generosity. A couple of weeks back, I had played my first World War II North African Front game, Avalon Hill’s Afrika Korps (which Rodger MacGowan immortalized for me by featuring my pictures in his art), and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wanted to dig deeper into the campaign, so I decided to break out Blood & Sand.
I love the components! The map, while jammed with information, is pretty good and invokes the terrain well. The unit counters are colorful, use NATO symbols, and are sizeable enough for my old eyes. The rules are eight pages long.
The game is IGO-UGO, and initiative is decided with a die roll. The scenario I played, Crusader, actually has the Allies start first during the first turn, but otherwise a roll is made for the rest of the game-which is only three turns in length. The rest of a player turn consists of checking supply, determining supply points (used for attacks), moving, and combat.
I really like how supply works: Axis starts with 25 points, Allies 35. During their individual turns, each side rolls 2d6, and adds to the total ports which they control that have supply points. These supply points are then used during attacks. Depending on how far away each side is from their supply source, the map is divided into supply zones which has a cost in supply points that infantry and mechanized units must spend to attack. Example: I have a British armor and two infantry units in Supply Zone A which is one of the furthest zones away from Alexandria, the Allied supply source. The Allies have a 4/8 supply point cost, each infantry unit attacking spending 4 points, each armor 8. Thus, I would spend 16 points using the abovementioned units, which is subtracted from the overall supply points generated at the beginning of the Allies’ turn. Defenders do not pay anything when attacked.
What I didn’t like about the game was its Risk-like, buckets of dice rolling during combat. Each unit has a combat factor that indicates the number of dice rolled during combat. Dependent terrain will cause one less die roll. Infantry hits on a “6” while armor gets a hit on a “5 or 6” roll. So, if my infantry from above had combined combat factors of 2, while the armor was a 3, I would roll a total of 5 dice. I used different colored dice to differentiate between infantry and armor. Combat is also simultaneous, so the defender is also rolling dice. First hits are step reductions (or eliminations, depending upon the unit) and are assigned by the opponent, then the owner determines whether to reduce further or retreat units for two spaces for each hit.
It was mind-numbing rolling the many dice and determining first hits, retreats, simultaneously because I was soloing. Combat really wore the game down. I would imagine the combat phase would be something altogether different with more than one player.
I might add that the game uses cards which help out each respective side, but the scenario I played does not use them.
Another hit out of the park for LNL! Production quality is top-notch, from the map to the unit counters to the rules. It seemed like this would be a quick game to play…
…until I got into combat and suddenly couldn’t wrap my head around the Combat Results Table. I went to the rules to clarify, and my mind (to this moment) is still boggled by what is probably a simple concept that I am completely failing to comprehend.
So, I rolled on the CRT during combat (when else would you, huh?), and I got a 1/2 result. That’s not a half, but a 1 and a 2, attacker to defender. I can either lose a step or retreat with my result. Not one or the other, but either one. I get to choose. What?
Am I dense and not getting it? Why would I ever choose to lose a step if I can retreat instead? Help me, Obi-wan!
So, I reached out to LNL. Crickets. I asked for clarification on their Facebook page, their Board Game Geek page, and on their website forums. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? So, I’m stymied. Once I get my answer, I will return to the table and see what sort of havoc I can wreak in North Africa.
My next entry in a day or so will cover my playthroughs of Decision Games’ Khe Sanh ’68, a solitaire mini-game, and Victory Point Games’ Disaster on Everest, another solitaire that is quite the nailbiter!
The talented and famous wargame illustrator featured my photos and a quote in one of his latest creations. I am completely honored!
Since August of 2004, I have been a member of BoardGameGeek. I discovered the website through another gaming site, Gamers with Jobs. While the latter deals almost exclusively with adults who play video games in their spare time, the former is the Holy Land of Board Games. Populated by a global community of gaming aficionados, the Holy Grail content of BoardGameGeek (BGG) is its vast database of every board game ever created. Nearly every piece of information in that database is submitted by the members of the community, either through reviews of games, session reports, or photographs of the games and people playing them. I constantly send folks to the site whenever they want to know about a game, it’s that good!
In 2006, BGG started a Secret Santa gift exchange. Robin and I were living in a family housing duplex on the campus of Eastern Kentucky University. We didn’t have much money, but we made sure to set aside a tidy sum for the exchange and participated in the event. That year, I received War of the Ring: Battles of the Third Age and Tempus, while Robin received Marvel Heroes. The War of the Ring expansion never made it to the table, and I have a fleeting memory of playing Tempus–a check on my “Games Played” statistics at BGG turns up squat. I can tell you that neither game is still in our collection. However, even though it was much-maligned for being too abstract and gamey, Marvel Heroes is one of our favorites! Comic book fans wanted a game that played like a story, and while the mechanic is in place for such the game really shines as a foray into team and card-hand management.
Skip ahead to 2010 when I participated in the Secret Santa Wargame Exchange. I received a very generous gift of EastFront II. A massive, fog-of-war block wargame by Columbia Games, I have stickered the blocks, read the rules, but have never played the game. It sits proudly on the shelf next to our other block wargames, someday to be played when we own a house big enough to leave the game set out for an extended period.
The BGG Secret Santa 2012 exchange was announced about two-three months ago, maybe earlier. Targets were assigned around the first week of November. My particular target has 68 games on their wishlist! So many games to choose from, almost too many! I’ve narrowed the list somewhat, and will be shipping off the games soon. Robin has her own target, as well.
Yesterday, my Secret Santa gifts arrived! I must have been a very, very good boy! FedEx dropped off a box weighing in at 10 lbs., a box which was quickly opened to reveal three games therein, including Merchant of Venus (2nd ed.), Summoner Wars, and D-Day Dice. I cannot wait to play them, either. I know that Merchant of Venus will be great, as I had the first edition and loved it, as did Robin. Furthermore, Summoner Wars looks like a wonderful addition to our ever-growing Living Card Game (LCG) collection. Finally, as we’ve only just begun playing games that utilize dice as pieces/mechanics, and coupled with its World War II theme, D-Day Dice looks very promising.
So, another year of gift giving has begun. Looks to be a good one for board games, too! Here’s to you, Santa!