Sunday, October 15, 2017

My Star Fleet Battles World League experience so far

I've been playing in the 2017 Star Fleet Battles World League- basically an online Team Tournament, where each team is made up of 3 players, and we advance and win as a team.

I've participated in this in the past, but I'm always a bit nervous about actually joining, as I had not actually won a tournament-style game of SFB before, and the years I played, I went 0-3 in the preliminary rounds, virtually ensuring that my team doesn't advance.

However, I am a bit more mature, and a better game player in general, so I threw in my name as a member of this World League. Most of my previous tournament experience was in the Federation TCC, a ship that requires a lot of luck to win with (those damn photons are great, but miss a lot, and are so expensive to arm!), and I have certainly not been lucky with it. I considered the Orion ship, as I have been close to a real victory in that before (prior to screwing up and losing). In the end, however, I decided to go with the Wyn Great Black Shark. It's a ship with drones, disruptors, and a few option mounts (I ended up using two B-racks in my option slots, giving me four disruptors and four drone racks, total). I figured this is a fairly forgiving ship, and should give me a fighting chance in most games.

My draw ended up being against a Kzinti (lots and lots of drones), a Romulan Firehawk (plasma + cloaking), and an Archeo-Tholain (web + great turning). I couldn't really tell how 'favorable' these matchups were, but went to town working to set up my games.

My first game went against the Kzinti, piloted by Sleepy_Cat. In my head, my plan was to use my drones to shoot down his drones, close in to hit hard, and get away. He was a significantly better player though, using his phasers at the best times to shoot my drones out of space, allowing his drones (including his early scatter-pack drones) to find me and hit me. He basically destroyed me at the top of turn two. Not a great start! I need to learn to be more patient (I tried to close in way too early).

My second game ended up going to me by natural disaster- the player running the Romulan was in Florida during Hurricane Irma, and is helping out with disaster repair, and would not have time to play. Due to this, he forfeited all of his matches - which actually balances out somewhat due to the team tournament rules (ie, none of his opposing teams gains a real advantage by him doing this). Technically a win for me tournament-wise, but not one personal-wise.

My third game of the round robin round was against Erokk in the Archeo-Tholian Tournament Cruiser. I had no experience flying this ship, nor flying against it. I did re-read the rules for how webs work, and his web technologies, but I wasn't sure what to expect. My strategy here was to keep my speed at 20-ish, keeping enough reserve warp to give me flexibility in case he tried to catch me in a web (I could make a speed change to get me out of a bad situation, potentially), and use drones to try to corral him into a bad situation. For the most part, my strategy worked... helped by incredibly lucky Damage Allocation rolls in my favor. In our first pass, I down a shield, and drop one of his disruptors, then later get a few more damage in, dropping ANOTHER disruptor. Down half of his heavy weapons, he had to buy time, which his webs gave him. However, he pretty quickly got on my tail, but without the teeth to do anything to me, I managed to eventually get some distance, and moved to a better position. I did a High Energy Turn with reserve warp, putting him at really close range, and hit him for quite a few more internals, but took some decent damage in return. We went our separate ways for another two turns before I went and made another battle pass, this time firing a heavy amount of damage through a down shield, winning the game.

This marked my first ever win in a tournament game- one that I feel like I flew pretty well, but was definitely helped with good luck. Still, I'll take it!

After the round robin round, I learned that my team had done well enough to advance to the Semi-Finals, where we faced another team. My draw for this match was the Gorn. The Gorn has a lot of plasma, and can take a good beating. I am told that ships like mine are actually a tough fight for the Gorn- I can fire heavy weapons every turn, and have drones that fill a role similar to his plasma, while also not using power. I learned that AFTER the game, thankfully.

My approach in this game was to keep my distance turn one, wait until some plasma was on the board, outrun it, taking a small amount of damage from it to determine if it was real or a fake, then rush in to hit him for damage, using the drones to suck up his phasers, and to keep the distance so he didn't tractor me.

Early game, we approach, and I keep side-slipping out to ensure I have some range, and room to run. I fire my disruptors at range 12 or so, getting four hits, and moderately damaging one of his shields. He launches a single 30-point plasma (which could be a fake, I couldn't tell at this point), and I continue to maintain distance. However, near the end of turn one, he bolts both his plasma S torpedoes, and fires a bunch of phasers, doing a minor amount of internals, and letting me know the plasma on the board is a fake (he spent some phasers on drones I had put on the board as well, limiting his firepower).

I look at turn two's Energy Allocation, and decide to strike. Starting with high speed (like 25 or so), and dropping speed via Mid-Turn Speed Changes, I have enough power to fire all four disruptors, and all phasers, power a High Energy Turn, and even threw two points into my Tractors. I start slipping in, and he puts a 20-point Torpedo on the table (an F-torp, which has to be real). I get to range two.

There is about to be a lot of damage
From here, I use my pre-paid-for HET, and move to the upper right (I'm the yellow ship, if you're not familiar with SFB), which puts me off his previously damaged shield (it was down to about 18 at this point, from the previous disruptors). I launch four drones, attempt to tractor him (he resists, burning through his batteries), and I hit him with everything, for almost 60 points of internal damage, hitting a lot of phasers and power. I then run off, giving me distance to recharge everything, but unfortunately, giving him the same opportunity

Turns three and four, I chase him, as he is forced to go slow to re-arm his torpedoes and phasers, while I just needed to recharge my phasers. I hit him for a few random points of disruptor fire at long range, hoping to hurt shields a little, to maybe present me future opportunities. Turn five, he starts turning around, to prepare to approach me again. I manage to get at range eight of him, and fire four overloaded disruptors, hitting with only one, and I decide to pull off and run, waiting for turn six. Had I hit with three of them, I was planning to fire all of the phasers next impulse , dropping the shields and doing more internals before running, but with only one, I elected to save my power.

Starting turn six sees me in the top left corner of the map, with him starting to approach. I overload all my disruptors, and charge in. I make the mistake of getting on his center-line, around range eight, and he can, and does, fire all of his torpedoes at me, presenting a challenge- I can't actually run given my position, and there is too much plasma on the board to shoot down or power through. However, because of the weird Gorn arcs, he has to fire the plasma in two different directions, creating some separation, and I use that to eat plasma on two different shields crippling them both (and taking some internals), but allowing me to get to range three mostly intact.  I fire, removing all of his phasers, and doing tremendous damage internally.  With no phasers, my drones catch up, and finish him off, giving me the win.
Quite a bit of ship left, but almost no shields
I felt pretty good about my flying, overall.  A win is always good, but even had I lost, I would've been pretty happy with my game play- I made decent decisions overall, and only a few mistakes that I could tell - keep my Wild Weasel charged until late in the game would've given me an option against the plasma he launched, instead of having to eat it on a few shields.  I also could've launched some shuttles on the first pass, maybe getting a few more internals on the Gorn, and if I had spread that over several turns, maybe removing another torpedo.  Usually, I use my shuttles well, but this game, I just forgot.  However, I DID remember to keep an eye on tractor ranges and chances, both for and against myself, which isn't something I do well in general.  I'm learning!

If either of my two teammates win their game, we move onto the finals!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Gaming Weekend Day Three

Sorry about the delay- you get back from a long weekend, and life is sitting there waiting for you!

This was the last day of our gaming weekend, meaning a bit more boardgames, and then a lot of getting ready to come home.

We started this day off breaking into groups. I sat down with Eric, Mark, and Ben, and we decided to play GMT Games' Conquest of Paradise, the 4X game in the Pacific Islands. I play as Tonga. The game basically went my way the entire time- my first exploration found the 'Mythical Island' of Hawaiki, plus another island. Future explorations always revealed at least something for me, which was a huge bonus. By comparison- on the first turn, no one else found anything but open ocean, although they would eventually find something as the game wore on (except Ben, who only found Atolls, far from his home island). With the initial luck, I became an early target, and Eric played Weeds on my home island to slow my growth down.

Early on- note the three islands next to my home island (with the white pieces).
 But even that wasn't enough. With no easy way to expand into more production, Ben was forced to mount an expedition against far inhabited islands, with the hope of getting some resource generation in order to fight me better. Eric begins to slowly start building a large stack of 'something'.

I expand towards my edge... and several of those white-ish boxes with nothing on them are about to become MORE islands for me.
Mark decides to attack Eric, creating a crucial distraction that I can use to grow more without worry of harassment. At this point, I'm able to build several warriors and war canoes a turn, and am considering an offensive against Fiji, but realize I have enough points to win, and just fortify my islands close to the 'others'. Eric and Ben attempt futile last minute attacks to stop me, but it isn't nearly enough, as I repel both, buy my last villages, and win the game.

Mark and I decide to fit in a game of Freefall, a game he is working on developing and wanted to playtest. This is a vector-based space combat game that uses Contact/Fleet counters for early game fog of war. I decide to choose a fleet with only three ships (2 Battleships and a Missile Cruiser), and unbeknownst to me, Mark chooses a fleet with 3 Cruisers and a Destroyer. I place my Battleship and Missile Cruiser on my left, my other Battleship on my far right, and spread out my possible contact counters to hide my location.

I have ships in the far left and far right... but Mark doesn't know that yet. Lots of noise in the middle will make him act first.
Mark blinks first, and turns on a sensor mid-map, hoping to catch some of my ships in the sensor range. Unfortunately, everything mid map at this point was a dummy Contact counter, so he reveals nothing, and that turns' movement still sees some of my contact markers stay out of his sensor range, meaning he can't afford to turn the sensor off and try to hide at this point. We continue playing, and I activate one of the sensors on my far left, putting a fleet counter on the board, and revealing an opposing fleet counter across from me.

We've got a contact!
I don't know what exactly I'm facing (turns out to just be a destroyer), but if it's there, I'm going to destroy it. I fire some missiles and some long range fire, and my first salvo ends up destroying the ship facing me.

One side effect of revealing myself here is that the opposing fleet knows a little bit about where I am. They reveal most of themselves, and start opening fire, starting on the missile cruiser. After that exchange, there's not much cruiser left...

The letters represent systems on my ship. The crossed out portions on the left mean those systems were destroyed. Not a good day for the people in the front half of that Cruiser.
With two Battleships remaining, my priority becomes disabling the enemy Missile Cruiser, which probably remains the biggest threat to me. Prior to succeeding, the enemy manages to get a LOT of missiles on the table.

Missiles everywhere!
The rules gives players a chance to mitigate missiles in two ways- vector changes, and splitting Fleet Counters. Splitting the fleets will cause some of the missiles to split between the number of targets (roughly 50-50, but it's a dice roll). Changing the movement vectors makes the missiles slightly less accurate (assuming you change the vectors to have an effect).

The large clump of missiles on the table is targeted on my Cruiser + Battleship stack, and I attempt to use both methods to save the Battleship (the Cruiser was already mission killed, so I was willing to let it go). I split the Cruiser from the BB, and change the BB's movement vectors. It partially worked- I managed to get about 40% of the missiles off the BB's course, and changed the to-hit number by one. The missiles come in, destroying the cruiser, and dealing significant damage to the Battleship, but not really hindering its effectiveness- the extra to-hit modifier plus my point defenses plus my hefty armor kept me basically unaffected, aside from a slight weakening of one of my lasers.

My other Battleship had revealed by this point, and combined, the two ships manage to drop his missile cruiser effectively. At this point, I was feeling pretty good- we each had two direct fire ships... but mine were heavier. Over the next two turns, as we trade shots while drifting past one another (I had run out of fuel on one Battleship, and was low on another, I reduced Mark's ships to ineffectiveness before we drifted away enough for the game to end. Overall, my fleet took the day!

Freefall is a pretty fun system, with a lot of potential. The vector movement is simple, and there are rules for ship construction to make some unique ships (although Mark built both of our fleets). Something we'll put on the table again in the (near-ish?) future.

I followed this with another game of Magic: The Gathering, playing a Commander deck against Matt, who had just built a new deck. I got beat bad :(. Sigh.

I then played Whitehall Mystery by Fantasy Flight Games. Here, one player takes the role of Jack the Ripper, and the other players (in this case Mark and Ben) take the roles of investigators trying to apprehend him. The Jack player writes down his moves in secret, and the investigators use a combination of logic, intuition, and luck, to try to catch him. Both sides have a limited number of special movement types throughout the game, such as using a Boat to move across the water (Jack can do this twice per game, the blue investigator can use it once per game).

Silly investigators... I'm already looooong gone
I manage to get the first three murders off, but on the third one, the investigators were right on top of me, and I had to use a LOT of luck and cards to get across the river, and on the way to my fourth, and final, kill. However, the investigators were on to me, and cornered me on the left side of the big river in the picture above. I use every trick in the book- three different movement cards, backtracking significantly, and a ballsy play to briefly throw them off my trail... but it isn't enough. They realize where I must be going, station themselves to block me off... and I run out of time (Jack only has 15 turns to get to his victims). Good game, guys!

I play a game of Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn with Ben next, using the most recent expansion decks (not the Deluxe Expansions!). Leo vs Victoria (I am running the latter). Leo is a very good Phoenixborn, and difficult to beat, but I have a lot more experience than Ben at this game at this point, and manage to hold on long enough to take an advantage, and win.
Despite what looks like a card advantage, I'm not in a good spot here

I finish the night (and my gaming weekend!) with a game of Super Dungeon Explore. Rob played as the Overlord, and Ben, Mark, and I joined forces to accomplish... something. Unfortunately, by this point I had consumed a significant amount of alcohol, and my ability to take notes, or remember the specifics of the game were (and are) nonexistent. I remember we started off okay, then realized that we were playing the game wrong, and I started reading the rules, then the second mini boss came on in a tile perfectly suited for him, and we lost momentum, and lost the game. That sounds about right, but I really don't remember more than that, haha!

Big tree-dude type guy SMASH!

I can't think of a caption that is different from above for here, unfortunately!
Anyway, that was the end of the gaming weekend. We went to bed, got up the next morning, cleaned up, and went home.  Overall, I had a great time.  I wish I had played some of the things I brought (I seriously brought a ton!), but alas, almost everything I brought stayed in its box.  Maybe next time!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Gaming Weekend Day Two

The gaming continues!

I start day two with a game of Star Wars Destiny against Matt, to remind him how to play.  I run my Leia/Ackbar military deck, and Matt uses my Darth Vader/Kylo Ren melee aggro deck.  We keep it pretty even early game, but eventually Matt manages to pull away and take the game.  The important thing is that he re-learned the game, and went and made a deck with his own cards/dice.

Next, we played Captain Sonar, a game where we break into teams, working on a sub crew, and as the captains for each crew are screaming out navigation directions, we are attempting to find the opposing sub, load and prep our weapons, and blow it up!  My brother actually joins, and plays on the other sub, as the Radio Operator.  We scream orders, track each other down, and find each other pretty well, but the opposing sub manages to get its weapons up and running before we did, and blows us up.

Next came Rail Raiders Infinite, a game where we are all working as train robbers, but also trying to screw with one another.  The game has a lot of randomness and we apparently didn't know the rules well enough at all early on (we changed the way the game was played multiple times mid-game).  I dunno, didn't really end up being my thing.  Mark ended up winning with 14 moneys, and I ended with 9.

We start making our way through the train.
 I took a break after this, as most of the group went and played New Angeles, from FFG.  It sounded interesting, but I needed a break, unfortunately.  Afterwards, I played Magic:The Gathering with Matt and Eric, playing the Commander format.  Matt ran a constructed Kaalia of the Vast deck, I ran the new Dragon pre-con, and Eric, after I re-explained the rules to him, took the Cat pre-con.  I really struggled to get ramped up, and Eric feasted on that, hitting me frequently with various Lifelink attacks (from a Loxodon Warhammer).

This is sadly, the best my board state ever looked.  My opponents' managed to keep growing just fine.

I ended being the first player knocked off, as Eric saw the opportunities and gladly took them.  At this point, Matt had managed to get in pretty good shape, however, and was able to start swinging hard at Eric.  A few turns of back and forth attacking and playing, and Matt eventually was victorious.

We took a break for a bit to play some VR games- something about disarming bombs, and Matt played the VR X-Wing game.  That's some pretty cool stuff!  At this point, we were mostly drinking pretty heavily, and decided to switch to some lighter games, and ended up breaking into teams for Codenames: Deep Undercover.  I won't delve too deep into specifically what clues we used, but I will say the teams went 2-2, and there were a LOT of laughs all around!

Start of a game, one that we are about to win!
We switched to another game of Dark Moon, this time with 7 players and using the Threat cards.  I was Uninfected again... but was BADLY misled as to who I thought was infected, and ended up losing us the game.  Rob played me like a god damn fool!  I had two of the infected people correctly identified (although they didn't do anything to warrant it, I admit), but the third one remained elusive.  I tried to guess who it was, as it was clear the game was almost over.  Was wrong.  Lost :(

Finally, as most people went to bed, I taught Star Wars Destiny to Ben, using some newly constructed decks- I ran a Jyn Erso/Poe Dameron deck against his Kylo Ren/Emo Vader deck, and he ended up winning- but I blame my card draw for this one!

On to game three!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Gaming weekend Day One!

So, my friends and I have been trying to start a gaming tradition by going out to a cabin for a holiday weekend, with a bunch of games in tow, and spend the weekend playing a lot of games.  It usually happens around the Columbus Day weekend- well, this year it did, and this is our first non-event driven year we've done it.

I brought the following:
Malifaux
Star Wars Destiny
X-Wing
Armada
Mansions of Madness
Blood Bowl
Magic: The Gathering
Millennium Blades
Legend of the 5 Rings LCG
... and I think that's it?  That's all I can remember without going back to the room (which has a light out, so I can't see in the damn thing anyway :( ).

Anyway, for our first night of gaming, we had 6 people here, 5 of whom were gaming (my brother was more interested in fishing), and sat down for a few games.

We started with the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game.  I took Seoni, the Sorceress, and we played what I think was the first adventure- there are a bunch of bandits, a bandit leader, and we're trying to kill them.  I  choose a location, and start working to clear it.


I start off going against a Zombie early, but fail with my Magic Missile (d12 + 2d4 + 2 against a 13  :( ).

The rest of the adventures do pretty well though, Eric S closes a location on his turn, Dan and Mark make good progress, Rob gets stopped by a monster right away, but otherwise, we start out pretty well.

My next turn, I clear out three cards.  Rob encounters the villain, and defeats him, but he flees to one of the adjacent locations.  I keep moving through, eventually closing the location, and Dan closes one on the far side of the board, limiting the places the Bandit Leader can run to in the future.  I move to another location, and encounter the villain again!  However, Rob fails to (temporarily) close his location, giving the villain a place to run to.  We do end up succeeding though, with about three turns remaining. Victory for the players!

We decide to play Dark Moon (with the expansion) after his, and in the first game, I'm the Doctor, and not infected.  Early on, I'm able to identify Eric as being the Infected, and we throw him in Quarantine (he reveals, soon after).  I kind of suspect Mark as being the other Infected at this point.  However, immediately after Eric reveals, demoralizing us... Dan reveals, winning the game for the Infected players!  And we trusted him!  Curse him!



We decide to play again, and this time I was the Mechanic and Infected.  I decided to reveal early, to see what sort of sabotage I could do.  On his next turn, Dan reveals as well, doing some good damage to the station.  However, we didn't think this fully through, and the Uninfected clear two people without a problem and escape.  I lose again!

We finish the night playing Terraforming Mars, which is an extremely popular game that I have never actually played.  I chose Thorgate, the company that focuses on energy production.  I start generating energy and heat, raising the temperature, and eventually the oxygen with one of the upgrades.  I spend the early part of the game struggling a bit to find meaningful things to do, but continue on, and end up getting useful upgrades to keep my game plan going.  After calculating everything, I end up with 61 points... but end up losing to Dan who ends with 64 points (Eric ended with 51, and Rob with 49).  Second place is pretty good for my first time playing though.

More gaming coming today, now that I'm done writing this.  Off I go!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Holy cow, I assembled minis!

Yeah, it's been a long time since I've actually put together some miniatures... but I managed to get a few together this week!


That's the Jakob Lynch crew for Malifaux.  We actually have a Jakob Lynch player in the local meta, but since I play Neverborn, I figured I'd grab him and add him as well.  Overall, the plastics are pretty good quality. 

I have a big gaming weekend coming up, so look for updates soon!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Hobby room update!

Alright, it has been about a week and a half, so I figured I'd show my reader an update!

First, I'd like to kind of give some perspective- I took three pictures of the room, from three different places.  Just to show the places, here is a map:

 I took a picture first from the bottom right, then from the left (viewing that wooden bookcase), then from the top right.

Alright- the room!




So anyway- I've made some progress, but still more work to do. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Addressing my hobby issue.

On the gaming front, things aren't going too bad- I played two-ish games of Star Fleet Battles in the past week (online).  Lost one, and will probably lose the second one, but I'm actually in a pretty good spot there for the moment.  Played in a Star Wars RPG session last night, which was also fun. (A notice of games I play does show up in my Twitter feed, which is on the bottom right of the blog here!)

The hobby side of my life struggles because of this:

That's my spare room.  That's where I keep all of my gaming stuff (there's a closet on the wall to the left that you can't see, that's filled with more stuff).  Obviously- I have a lot of stuff there, but the issue is just organization.  I could work on minis... if I could get to the table, and give myself space to work on them.

I could build decks!  The problem is that I can't easily get to all of those boxes of cards, so I can't really do so easily.

I could play some wargames, and leave them set up!  The problem there, again, is access to the table (off to the left).

Anyway- I have begun focusing on this problem.  I'm trying to spend an hour a day, three or more days a week, trying to organize this room.  Once it's clean, I can do more hobby work, and heck, more gaming.

Posting that picture here hopefully will shame me some.  Shame me into making progress.  Wish me luck!