Thursday, November 16, 2017

First game of Company of Iron, 11/7/17 [Warmahordes]

Ever since Company of Iron was announced back in June, I've been super excited to get a copy, and put it on the table. Last week, on Tuesday, I finally got the chance!

I managed to get Joey to play- he has been interested in trying a miniatures game, and Warmachine/Hordes in particular appeals to him. Company of Iron keeps a lot of the same mechanics, and uses a limited amount of miniatures, so it seemed like a good way to introduce him to the game.

After explaining the rules for Warmachine and Hordes, and then the rules for Company of Iron, we settled down to play. This was my first time playing Company of Iron, so I just put together two lists to try to show a variety of forces, and gave Joey the choice.

Joey chose the Cygnar list:
Trencher Infantry (maximum unit) - 16
Rangers - 9
He gives the Trencher Leader the Master Strategist upgrade.

I took my Skorne list:
Praetorian Swordsman (maximum unit) - 13
Haakar the Destroyer - 7
Ancestral Guardian - 5
I give the Swordsman Leader the Frontline Officer upgrade.

We rolled for scenario, and generated Under Siege. In this, one player starts with his entire force in the center of the table, and the other player spreads out across the four table sides, with the goal of eliminating the entire defending force. This seems pretty challenging for each player- as the defender, you're surrounded, which is never a good feeling. The attacker, however, has to kill EVERY single defending model in order to win the game, which is a tall order. We rolled for positions, Joey won, and elected to be the defender.

Joey sets up first.
Joey's setup
I surround him, with Haakar on my nearside, the Ancestral Guardian on the far side, and Swordsmen interspersed around.

Turn 1

The early game focused on me advancing on the surrounded defenders, and the Cygnar troops focusing fire on Haakar, afraid of his wrath (and melee capabilities) should he get into combat. He also didn't want to shoot at Swordsmen, to avoid giving Haakar (or the Ancestral Guardian eventually) souls to enhance their capabilities. Joey had some decent luck shooting, and managed to get what he needed on Haakar several times, but a combination of good casualty rolls (Haakar stays standing instead of getting knocked down), several poor rolls by Joey attempting to break Haakar's ARM, and three Recover cards in my hand ensure that Haakar will eventually make it into combat.
I begin my advance
On my right, there are some pretty straight shots into the center, and I manage to run one of my Swordsmen directly into melee range of some of his Rangers. Not trusting his troops to handle my guys in melee, he attempts to move the Rangers out of combat, but my free strikes kill one of the Rangers for the first blood of the game!

On the left, I run my Commander up, and use a card to finally get Haakar into combat, where he puts a lot of pressure on Joey's army.
Right after Haakar gets into the action

So, end of the turn, I've managed to get some models into combat, Joey has managed to spread out, and the game is about to get bloody.
End of Turn 1
Turn 2

Joey gets priority, and immediately plays Rapid Reload, giving him two shots per model if they forfeit their movement. Combined with how Combined Ranged Attack works, and how close I am (so he doesn't need to move to get into range), this has the potential to be a VERY bloody situation- I need to get guys into combat, pronto!

To start off on this turn, Joey shoots Haakar, even with a guy in combat with him. He hits. He breaks ARM. I roll a three for the casualty roll, putting Haakar on the ground (I don't have a Recover card in hand, alas). For my next activation, I debate activating Haakar, which would give me another roll on the casualty table (and could give me a chance to stand him back up, letting him live longer), but I don't have another model base-to-base with him, so it's only a 1/3 chance I get the model back, and figure I'm better off activating a Swordsmen to put B2B with him, which I do, and kill a Trencher.

However, Joey takes the opportunity to kill the Injured Haakar, since that's an automatic kill. We go back and forth, killing a bunch of models. Joey's double shots take a toll, killing three Swordsmen, but as my models get deeper and deeper into his lines, I'm able to kill three Rangers and three Trenchers, including his Commander. He gets a new Commander, of course, but the next one won't have the extra health, meaning I can abuse it some.

Turn 3

We end up calling the game early in this turn, as we got kind of a late start, the store was going to be closing, and we weren't going to finish in time. I did manage to get almost all of my models into melee, including the Ancestral Guardian (who Joey tried to kill with multiple Assault charges without success). I was in pretty good shape overall, as my Swordsmen were pretty good at dropping the Trenchers and Rangers in close combat- and with two melee attacks, each Swordsman in combat could handle a Cygnar model by dropping them with the first attack, and then dealing the fatal blow with the second attack, regardless of the result of the casualty roll. Joey still had plenty of models on the table to hit back with though, so it could've gone either way.
A little bit before we called it- a few Trenchers are about to charge the Ancestral Guardian with Assault, but won't get it done. My Swordsmen will, against some of those Trenchers
Thoughts

I quite enjoyed the game, overall- the scenarios and small scale, combined with the cards for various battlefield effects, could create some great narrative experiences. Feeling this game through the eyes of the poor Trenchers, you could just imagine their desperation as they shot again and again at the biggest threat they could see, Haakar, watched him stumble, but continue coming (with either great rolls or my Recover cards). The pressure the rest of the army felt knowing that those shots would've been valuable against the rest of my force was also, in my head, a fun narrative.

For this particular game, I feel like the particular forces were perhaps not very well thought out (my bad!). The mono-combat force is going to have a great advantage over the force that can shoot should the former get into melee range, but I hadn't given much thought into how frequent that might actually cause issues (ie, how common the melee force can get into combat quickly). In this scenario, that answer turned out to be VERY quickly, but that probably isn't always the case.

I wonder how the game would have gone had Joey decided to be the attacker. Moving then shooting, he had a chance to control the range between our forces and whittle me down while I tried to get things into position to respond. I don't know. It probably still would've been a challenge, given the short range of the Trencher guns, but forcing me to have to spread out may have ended up working in his advantage, with his numerical advantage to start.

The game played pretty fast once we got into it- I do wonder if the casualty rolls won't make the game fairly frustrating at times. Getting knocked down instead of killed isn't usually all that bad, and throwing attacks at something that gets knocked down (so you can't shoot it) could force melee forces to be far more valuable.

Of course, those are thoughts after only one game.  We'll see how more experience changes my view.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Minicrate arrival, number 2! [Warmahordes]

Got part 2 in the mail today! Let's have a look. This one is the Plaid Piper of Ord.

The box it comes in.  Ooooh
The model and the card
The pieces of the model
Looks like a fun model. As my group slowly starts getting back into Warmachine, hopefully I can get some time to get this assembled and painted!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Got my new Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn decks!

I finally opened my two new acquisitions from Plaid Hat Games, the Masters of Gravity and the Path of Assassins expansions! Let's take a look.

I'll start by looking at the Path of Assassins expansion. There were previews here, here, and here, already, but nothing beats having the product in your hand. Jericho seems to be focused on directly killing the opposing Phoenixborn (hence the name, haha). What's really interesting about this deck is the lack of power symbols on any cost! An entire deck with cards tailored around only the basic die symbol. That's pretty awesome, and with all the basic magic symbol costs on these cards, it'll give us players a lot more options when building decks.
Back of Jericho Kill's box
Well, most of the cards that are part of the deck were already previewed in articles, and the rest will be on the Ashes deck builder in no time, so I'm going to post the rest here!
Spear Master! Well, I despise that discard cost, but a three attack Battle Advantage Unit that only costs basic magic symbols is going to find a use, I think. She'll be able to do a lot of damage to your opponent's defenders, and help you win that attrition war, or get an opening to put some real damage onto the Phoenixborn.
I'm not sure I'll get a whole lot of use from Squire outside of this expansion deck. Buuuuuuut, card draw is always nice, and with the one Deluxe, there certainly are good ways to make some use of it. Still, probably better ways to go about getting your draw.
I'm not sure what I'll do with Hand Tricks. Spend a basic die to draw a card and get a basic die... with the cost of this card as well. This feels like a card that could make some pretty great combo deck work, should such a set of cards make it worthwhile. I'll give it some thought.

The other expansion in The Masters of Gravity, with Echo Greystorm as the Phoenixborn. Previews for this were posted here, here, and here.
Back of Echo Greystorm's box
He uses dice from the two recently released deluxe expansions in roughly equal numbers (slightly more focused on Divine), including cards with Parallel Costs, that can be paid for with either Divine or Sympathy magic.

Let's take a look at the other cards in this expansion.
Law of Fear is going to be a great finishing card. Put it out, increase some attack values, and then hammer your opponent, who has to pay some precious resources (or wounds) to stop you. There's potential to set up some great endings with this card, I can't wait to actually use it!
Holy Relics seems fine. I've tried using an Orrick deck that just maxes out some Gobi Sunshields to make them brutal, and this would fit in nicely. Pretty straightforward.
This feels a bit pricey for the ability, but coupled with all the other exhaustion manipulation available in this particular deck, Enlightenment is probably a great card. There are TONS of uses for having a unit available for something else, so yeah, I bet this probably sees play, and probably will be worth its two dice.

I LOVED the Deluxe Expansions, and these cards just drive home how great this game is. I can't wait to play again, and throw these decks on the table, and then build some decks using these cards!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Malifaux game, 11/2/17

Rob and I played Malifaux last week, our first game since quite possibly 2013, during first edition. The last two or three months, I had started looking at the second edition models and rules, and have been eager to play, bringing it to our gaming weekend. Well, I finally got a chance!

I decided to play Neverborn, as I've been building the plastic crews from Wyrd miniatures to replace my old metal ones. I actually have been basing my purchases and list building for the moment on the Building on a Budget article over at Schemes and Stones, as I wanted to get some new miniatures for a fresh start, and this gave me a cost effective way to go.

We generated our strategy and schemes a few days before the game- our strategy was Reconnoiter, where we needed to get bodies in the different corners of the map. Our schemes were A Lind in the Sand, Outflank, Frame for Murder, Assassinate, and Protect Territory. With Reconnoiter, I knew I needed some speed to ensure I could get to the various table quarters, to claim or contest them as needed. Because of that, I went with Lilith. The list I took (from the above link) was:

(1)Lilith — 7ss
+Beckon Malifaux – 1ss
+On Wings Of Darkness – 1ss
+Aether Connection – 1ss
(2)Cherub – 3ss
(3)Barbaros – 10ss
+Fears Given Form – 1ss
(4)Doppleganger – 7ss
+The Mimic’s Blessing – 1ss
(5)Terror Tot – 4ss
(6)Terror Tot – 4ss
(7)The Illuminated – 7ss
(8)The Illuminated – 7ss

I played a decent amount of Lilith in first edition, and although she has changed some, her core 'feel' certainly seems the same- lots of mobility, good defense, and can hit hard. Barbaros seems to fit much of the same role, although he has to deal with the terrain that Lilith can basically ignore.

With this list, I felt pretty confident I could do any of the schemes. I didn't want to do Frame for Murder, as I don't want to depend on my opponent to do anything, so I didn't consider that. I ended up going with Assassinate, because killing Rob's Master would be something I'd like to do anyway, and Outflank, because going to those outside board edges gives me some flexibility when dealing with the strategy.

Rob showed up, and I set up terrain, as he revealed he'd be playing with Mei Feng, an Arcanist Master who he liked a lot in first edition that could get up and get physical as well. I don't know the specific content of his list, but I know it was at a minimum Mei Feng, Kang, Emberling, 3 Rail Workers, Metal Gamin, and a Rail Golem. I don't know the upgrade loadout, however.

We flip for deployment, deploy, and get ready to go (neither of us reveal our schemes).

We took turns placing terrain, not paying much attention to its upcoming effect on the game, but one thing to note is the large forest in the middle. Because of its size and position, it ended up being a MAJOR factor in the game, as Lilith doesn't struggle with it, but Rob's forces do (I swear, it wasn't intentional).

For deployment, Rob deploys centrally, I split my forces around the big rock formation.

Deployment
For Turn 1, my split forces run to the left and right, figuring that I can attack the middle as needed, and use my speed to choose how I'm going to engage the oncoming Arcanists. I start dropping some scheme markers randomly, to make it look like I might be going for Protect Territory (I don't think Rob buys it). Rob moves straight towards the middle.
End Turn 1. I get up the board quick, and drop some random scheme markers
Turn 2, I win initiative, and elect to have Rob go first so I can respond to whatever he does. For the most part, Rob moves everyone near the center, into the forest, but sends an Emberling and a Rail Worker on my side of the board. I end my turn with Lilith, who hops out, kills the Emberling, and retreats behind the building, where Rob can't get to her. Elsewhere, I push up the board to get some bodies near the middle.
End Turn 2
Turn 3, I look through my cards, read Wicked Vines, and an idea forms. I win Initiative, and attempt to enact it, and I Vine the Rail Golem, as well as a Rail Worker approaching on my right. I end Lilith's activation by clogging the far side of the board with a summoned forest, blocking Rob's charges into my Neverborn on that side. I use the Illuminated and Cherub on my right to kill the Vine'd Rail Worker.

Rob tries to determine a way to keep the Rail Golem free from Lilith's vines, and Vents Steam near it, to give me a negative flip when I try again.

End of the turn, I have bodies on every quarter, and Rob is too close to the center to get enough bodies in two quarters, giving me my first victory point.
End Turn 3
Turn 4, I cheat to get initiative (thanks to the Doppleganger), and immediately activate Lilith. I Focus, then hit him with the Wicked Vine, and nab him. Kane kills the Terror Tot near the center of the table, and I send Barbaros into Kane, dealing only two damage.
Barbaros on the attack!
Rob activates Mei Feng, attempting to figure out some way to create a push to free the Rail Golem, but fails on the attempt, and concedes, as things were definitely not going his way. Victory to Lilith!

Post-game, we talked a lot about things. The forest definitely was a tremendous challenge for him, but even so, there were a lot of things we overlooked that could've helped him. Using scrap tokens to Rail Walk with Mei Feng, and noticing that the Rail Workers are Constructs would both have helped. Also, he could've vented Steam multiple times in a turn, to make it extremely difficult for me to use the vines to stop his game plan. A few changes in upgrades may have helped as well.

Anyway, I had a blast playing, and look forward to doing so again. Rob sounds interested in trying again as well, so hopefully in two weeks we'll get it on the table again.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Old School Tactical - new arrival, and my first chance to play [Wargame]

Last Thursday, I cam home, and found a wonderful surprise- the new release from Flying Pig Games- Old School Tactical Volume II!  This volume covers the late war western front of World War II, dealing with battles between the Americans and Germans.

This release was particularly exciting, because it came with some Pocket Battle maps- smaller maps that could be re-positioned to create battlefields for us to fight on, that don't require a large table like the normal mounted maps do.

Anyway, I had no experience in this game, despite owning this as well as Volume I (Eastern Front + Stalingrad), so it's lucky that someone reached out to me on Boardgamegeek, to see if I was interested in giving it a shot (heck yes!).

We played this on Saturday, and as it was the first time playing with this gentleman, I didn't take notes, and limited my picture taking, but here is the early part of the game in action.
We used see-through bingo chips instead of the Moved/Fired/Used markers included with the box, just to make it easier for us to figure out who had moved prior to shooting (for the Moving Fire modifier).  We played the first of the Stalingrad scenarios (Rattenkrieg), and called it near the end, as his dice rolling was AWFUL.  Like, awful awful (2d6 rolls of 2,4,3,2,3 in succession, in a game where high rolls are ideal).

Other than his bad luck, I think we had a pretty good time.  The system, once we got used to it, seemed like a lot of fun.  Shooting seems very deadly- moreso than in any other WWII game at this scale I've played before.  I don't view that as a negative thing in general, but it's going to make traditional attack/defense scenarios very nerve-wracking for the attacker, who is going to have to move through open ground at some point.  HOWEVER, in this quite small scenario, there were several clear advantages to the attacker- greater numbers, good positioning to start, and additional impulses (or at least an additional die to generate them).  It felt pretty balanced, even with the pretty deadly rounds of combat.

Plus, the game played quick once we got in the zone. With the impulse system (similar to Conflict of Heroes, but with some changes), you aren't sitting around doing nothing for very long, and both of us felt like we were a part of the action every minute of the game.  And the system seems like it will scale well- playing scenarios on the full map won't become too onerous a task, I hope.

They did a good job- I look forward to playing this again, maybe with some armor next time!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Assembled more minis! [Malifaux]

After so long making any progress on miniatures, I have to admit, it feels good to have so many new miniatures put together in a relatively reasonable amount of time.  Once again, my new additions are for my Neverborn crew.
Not a terribly great picture, but I haven't done much work on these minis.  That is the Mother of Monsters box (Lilith's crew), as well as a Doppleganger.

No that I have a full, legal crew for Neverborn, I feel a bit more comfortable in actually trying to put my own touch on some of the other minis I get.  I have an unassembled Pandora box, as well as a Nekima, which I may start working on, and doing some of my own modeling with, but I may wait until after I get some Company of Iron stuff done.

Also, multiple times in the past week, I sat down with the intent to paint, but I don't seem to have an appropriate way to prime my models.  Once I find a suitable box, maybe I'll start getting some painting done!

Friday, November 3, 2017

I tried Star Trek Attack Wing!

My brother has recently been interested in gaming, and has focused on the topics which appealed to him growing up, mainly Star Wars and Star Trek. I've been trying hard to nourish this interest, as it never hurts to have more people in the gaming community, and heck, who doesn't want family members that game?

So far, I've shown him Star Wars Armada, Imperial Assault, and Star Wars Destiny, all of which he's enjoyed (except for Imperial Assault), which are all games I have plenty of material for.  He's expressed interest in X-Wing, which we'll eventually play, but in the meantime, he was interested in Star Trek Attack Wing, from WizKids, and started buying stuff for it. I figured if he's interested, I'd give it a shot, and that's what we did.

I ended up taking the Enterprise-D, with Geordi, Picard, and Miles aboard, and he took the Klingon ship with whatever the rulebook recommends as a default upgrade setup.

The rules are similar to X-Wing, so it was pretty easy to get started, and I didn't take notes, as the goal was to get him playing, and not drag the game down with writing. I did take a few pictures though.
*cue Jaws music*
Soon after... I roll nothing but blanks on an attack roll, after taking a Scan/Battle Stations double action.
He rolls much better than I do here, and the Enterprise's mission ends.
So anyway- he wins the game.

Interestingly, looking through the ships and material available for the game, I'm surprised how different it *feels* than X-Wing.  Yes, it's the same rules, mechanics, and upgrade system, with a few tweaks.  But really, X-Wing ships feel more maneuverable and more difficult to hit. Here, both our ships were only rolling a single green die (except when he was cloaked), and the maneuvering felt more like large 'blue water' navy ships, which I really quite enjoyed (and felt more true to Star Trek). As is, this looks like a decent alternative- something I may actually get into.  Not as heavily as I got into X-Wing, but I likely will pick up a faction.  Maybe Dominion. The minis in the Attack Wing starter box are really disappointing, I have to say, but the expansion minis seem pretty good overall, as well (can't have a game with bad minis!).

More importantly, Matt seemed to enjoy the game (although he didn't enjoy the two Destiny losses I dealt him after playing this nearly as much), and I suspect we'll give this another go soon-ish with full-size squads. Maybe I'll have my own by then :)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Company of Iron Unboxing [Warmachine/Hordes]

This has probably been done somewhere at some point, but I figure I may as well post some pictures as well while I wait to play some games and have something more interesting to post :)

Company of Iron was released!  I picked up a copy!  That's introduction enough, I think.  Let's have a look at some pictures.

Ooooooh.... booooooox....

Tokens to play the game
Underneath the tokens
I'm not going to show you pictures of the bag of dice, nor the bag of bases.  I'm sure you've seen those before :)
Bag of Farrow miniatures

Bag of Cygnar miniatures

The sprue of characters- this was in bubble wrap, but I removed it to make these easier to see

Books and ruler included in the box

Cards included
Two things I want to mention here.

First, they didn't include cards for Farrow Brigands nor the Stormblades.  Yes, I know I can get them freely online... but this is a product to teach this game/format.  That's why the rules cover the basics of movement and combat.  You can't do that and leave out the rules for the vast majority of miniatures the set comes with.  That's pretty bad.  I don't know if this happens in every copy, or just mine, but if this is the case in every copy, that's an idiotic oversight.

Second, I have now read the rules... and I have to say, even knowing the game ahead of time, I found parts of the rules difficult to follow.  Are they hoping that a person who has never played Warmachine/Hordes is going to read these rules and know how to play?  That's really unlikely, given the way the rules are laid out, and the way certain parts are explained.  They include examples, thankfully (the section on duration of 'round' effects would be impossible without them), but skip out on examples in a lot of sections that could use them.

I don't know, overall, I'm excited about this, and think this is a great direction for PP to go.  I feel the implementation of this product could use a little work, but I suspect after I get it on the table, I'll forget all about my complaints.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

My first MiniCrate arrives [Warmachine/Hordes]

This actually happened end of last week, but I haven't had time to actually open it.  Let's see what arrived!

First, gotta love the special packaging.  Small details like this only serve to make feel a bit more special, ya know?
Very nice packaging!
 I quickly opened it up, and was presented with this!
Ooooooh
 Okay, the interior is just the interior, but the models look awesome.
The Swamp Siren (Swamp Horror)
Gorman di Wulfe alternate!
Anyway, I'm so far very pleased with this.  It'll be quite some time before I can assemble and paint these (although I played more Warmachine and Hordes, maybe that would hurry me along!), but some day I will :)

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Path to Carcosa begins... [Arkham Horror LCG]

My game group finally sat down to start going through The Path to Carcosa campaign for Arkham Horror: The Card Game.  We spent a bit of time working to determine who would play what, as we wanted to make sure we had all the bases covered.  In the end, our team is myself, running William Yorick, Rob running Minh Thi Phan, Ben running Lola Hayes, and Bobby running Akachi Onyele.  We should have a good spread of abilities, with Minh, Lola, and Akachi able to investigate decently well, with some combat abilities spread out among us all (although I probably take point on that)  We hope to each be flexible enough to contribute where needed, but still have a useful niche.

To start, I just took a deck from ArkhamDB, as I was a bit crunched for time, and figured that the decks are there would be pretty good.  Specifically, I took this deck

William Yorick

Assets
2x Guard Dog
2x Knife
2x Fine Clothes
2x Lantern
2x Gravedigger's Shovel

Events
1x Dodge
2x "Look what I found!"
2x Lucky!
2x Emergency Cache
1x "If it bleeds..."
1x Bury Them Deep

Skills
2x Vicious Blow
2x Guts
2x Perception
2x Overpower
2x Unexpected Courage
2x Resourceful

Treachery
1x Random Basic Weakness

Enemy
1x Graveyard Ghouls

This seemed pretty great actually- good stats for the things I want to do, and a few ways to get things done even without drawing a token.  Finally, we decided to play on Hard difficulty, which will definitely give us a challenge!

And now, I'll create a bit of a buffer here.  Below here will have a few spoilers:















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!