Zeke had been wanting to get us all together sometime during football season to play Blood Bowl. He has a good number of extra teams, some of them with excellent paint jobs. So, he understandingly wanted to get them out on the tabletop. He and Steve Sattler had played a number of times, and as we found out, Steve Verdoliva used to play a decent amount back in California. Joel, Allen and myself were novices, at best, though.
The Skavens of Gotham brushed past the rascally rabbits of Flatbush in a slooow, sloppy game of bump and grind. The Gutter Ratz were able to score first with a fine run/pass 'play' that saw Slym the Rat dodge, run, and ooze past a tackle at the goal line. The Flatbush bunnies were...well...flat, having difficulty passing and threatened only once in the first half, despite the fact that Bruuzer Bunnie was in top form. Score at half time was Gotham 1 Flatbush 0.
The Bunnies received the second-half kickoff and ran a Girly girl play down the left side that scored quickly but Bruuzer Bunnies was beginning to show signs of fatigue, a dirtyrat foul at the end of the half must have had some effect?? With the score tied, the teams got down and dirty. We are talking a toe-to-toe, knock-down game. Bunnies went bottoms up, rats bloodied, injured even. Surprisingly, the ball did not move as the players pummeled each other. With seconds to go and the crowd heading for the gates, the ball moved, popped straight up, in fact. Suddenly, a volleyball game broke out as each side bashed or slapped at the ball, as no one could hold on the spiked skin. With 23 seconds left, Lemmy the lineman got the ball for Gotham, took two steps and pitched a dying duck of a pass to the surprised Blackfist .....15 seconds to go....The last diehard fan and two cats rose to their feet (& paws) in the stands and cheered in surprise as Blackfist chugged into the open toward the goal-line. Blackfist pushed and pushed again AND collapsed across the goal-line.
Final Score: Gotham 2. Flathbush 1. Injuries: 2 Skaven, no deaths!
The overconfident Vikings kicked off to the She-Elves and immediately began the effort of stomping them into the turf. While the Vikings knocked them down quite often they learned the hard way that these babes were no sisters of mercy. The first half was played mostly on the Elves end of the field, and the Vikings recovered a fumble and were driving for the end zone near the end of the half when they fumbled away their chance to score on the goal line. Meanwhile half their team had been carted off the field badly hurt or dead!
The second half began with a penalty when the Girls couldn't even kick the ball across the midfield line. This gave the Vikings the opportunity to hand the ball to their star full back and they began setting up a student body right play to form a path to the goal line for their big bruiser. The girls were as gallant and as vicious as the first half and the vikings continued to be carried off on stretchers. The girls used their agility and the vikings used their brute strength and once again, near the end of the game the Vikings looked like they were driving in for the go-ahead touchdown, only to fumble at the goal line. The Elvish thrower scooped up the fumble and found their catcher that had been keeping herself wide open the whole game. One short pass and two long runs and a go for it at the goal line saw the vikings sacked and watching from their backsides as the girls crossed the goal line as time expired for the go ahead touch down.
Final Score: Elvish Ladies 1, Vikings 0. Injuries: many (mostly Vikings). Deaths: 1 each
The Dark Elves, having recently made the jump from the "Championship Division of Blood Bowl" to the "BCS Division," were matched up against a tough opponent. Every single dwarven player had the "block" ability, while only three of the Dark Elves had the muscle to put a dwarf on his backside. As such, most of the game, dark elves were on their backs, scattered across the field. The Dwarves pushed and shoved the Dark Elves around as they wished, scoring both times during the game that they held the ball. In fact, in the first half, they cleverly played "time of possession" and left not enough time for the Dark Elves to move the ball all the way to the other end of the field.
The Dark Elves showed why they made the jump in Divisions on the opening possession of the second half. They moved the ball quickly down the field and scored to even the tally, 1 to 1. The Dwarves took the kickoff, though, and slapped the dark elves around as they had all game, easily pushing the ball into the end zone. Not enough time was left on the clock for the Dark Elves to score, so the Dwarves triumphed, 2-1.
The post-game disucssion in the broadcasting booth became heated as some sportscasters held that there was no way the Dark Elves belonged in the same division as the dwarves. Others maintained that this TYPE of team had beaten all comers in the BCS Division before. The fault lay in the Dark Elf coaching. Either way, the Dark Elf training staff was seen calling for an emergency shipment of "Bilbo's Butt and Back Cream" for their black and blue linemen.
The idea we had for a miniatures game fell through, so we drove out to the other Steve's (Verdoliva) new house in Delaware for boardgames, again. Steve had a GMT game called "Medieval" that he played quite a bit back in California, and he wanted to teach it to us. Here are some of the comments that floated back in forth in our e-mails following the game:
"It was a learning curve on the game Medieval. I started out with Almohad & Poland and quickly picked up Norway. (The board is all of Europe and the Holy Lands- plus). Then JUST as quickly went to DISAAASTER in Poland & Spain -leading to Civil War with the Almohad in Spain. (spoiler- I didn't win) This was medieval times, so we had a lot of Change of Rulers, Crusades, slowly ending up with the arrival of Mongols. Ptomas picked up France & Russia and was able to conquer the Baltic states but failed in an invasion of England. He did well till the Mongols took part of Russia. Allen had Venice, Ayyubid, Latin Kingdom (Think Eastern Mediterranean). He lost Ayyubids to Mongols and had a brief disaster with Venice, did well but....
All right: Steve won and beat Mike. Steve had Spain, England & minor states and enough momentum to win. He was able to unify Spain (see DISAAASTER above) hold on to England and HAD NO Mongol infestation. Mike was the Holy Roman Empire and able to hold the center post, defeat Prussia then Sardinia, not quite enough to pull off a victory. A tip of the helm to Steve for hosting and showing us Medieval, one that will be on the to play list again." -- Joel Sams
In thinking about the game, it became CLEAR that I handed the game to Steve early (in the country selection phase). Picking after Steve took England, I chose France (adjacent to England). However, if I had chosen Spain, Steve would not have been able to choose France (can't pick adjacent countries) and would have had to choose a country much further east (Mongol territory). It is pretty that the 'Western' Powers (Almohad, Spain, France, and England) and the Holy Roman Empire are critical to having a solid chance of winning the game. With Steve V getting 2 of the five weighted the game in his favor.
Good game and well worth playing again. -- Tom Graves
Joel fired back:
NOT so fast Jonny D'Arc!
A) Almohad's left the game early (Disaster & Civil War-Never fully recovered). That made for a weak southern flank of Spain, Steve took care of it then turned North.
B) England survived 3 (THREE !) invasion attempts France, Norway, Holy Roman? (Didn't WE already read that somewhere in History class before??)
C) Steve owns the game and has played it more than all of us combined. He could have won with Prussia, Latvia, and Sweden.
D) Yes, those Mongols are pesky and any play east of Hungry SHOULD play map cards, that includes Ayyubids in North Africa.
E) Mike didn't win (we don't get to say that often enough!?)
Allen chimed in:
Good times were had by all, but on the way home, I was strcken by the 'historical accuracy' bug and began to think that the Russians should not be a factor until after they throw off the Mongols Golden Horde. At this time Kiev was impressive, Moscow an animal sty and St Petersburg a swamp... -- Allen Sams
I added to the controversy:
Good point. I agree the Western powers are the ones to take and 'base' your expansion off of...the Eastern ones risk getting wiped out by the Mongols in the blink of an eye...
Though I think I also had something to do with Steve winning. I was not nearly as aggressive to him as I should have been. I should have been attacking him constantly the final couple turns of the game. I was very tentative in my snipping off of territory... -- Mike Demana
Since we had only four at Steve's house last night, we decided to switch out the boardgame we were p>aying. Fearing Game of Thrones would be a little unbalanced with four, we broke out Steve's copy of Pillars of the Earth. He hadn't played it yet, so jumped at the chance. I'd seen folks playing it at CABS, but never tried it myself.
Once we figured the rules out, it seems like a much simpler version of Caylus. There are lots of things to do like Caylus, and lots of variety, but it definitely is a level down in complexity. The device of building the cathedral is simply a means to measure what turn it is -- nothing more. The game is straight forward in its goal of simply accumulating victory points. With that in mind, I made my choices based on maximizing points and not worrying about diversifying or anything like that. It turned out to be a strategy that won in the end, but not before Joel made a serious run at it. He took the lead from me in Turn 5, but I got lucky with an Event card, and figured a way to make my Goldsmith that I'd probably overpaid for the previous round worthwhile. That allowed me to take the lead back on the final turn.
We all agreed that it's a fun game, and definitely worthwhile playing again (Cold Wars was mentioned, as Steve has the Expansion set for 5-6 players).
The Avalon Hill classic Maharaja was "dusted off." Ptom's dice were fierce, his strategy just as inspired, and the result was (you guessed it): Ptom's winning!!!
The long awaited follow up to Zeke's first running of MDRG occurred at his place. Turnout was sparse, as Fall continued to be a busy mont for the gang. Allen, Joel, Keith and myself showed up to play. Allen did not bring his troops, so his forces only "foraged" strategically. This opened the door for me to get in two attacks with the Sim City warband, again.
Our first game was against the non-player "Defender's of Keith's Basement" -- a random warband created by Keith. This was a tough battle against a mixed force of two robots, two mutated plants and two mutated humans. The enemy started the game "hunkered down" inside patches of forest. We began some long range sniping fire, including shots with our electric gun, which is lethal against robots. This encouraged Keith to assault, and the battle churned in earnest, at this point. We succeeded in destroying both his robots in the early stages of the scrum -- one to the electric gun and the other to the assault rifle fire of Sgt. Mpande and Cpl. Kammebalango. The mutated humans ganged up on Cpt. Usuthu (the Sim City warband's newest recruit) and cut him down.
Meanwhile, one of the mutated plants had left the safety of the woods to support the assault. Automatic weapon fire cut it to pieces, and the enemy -- down to half strength -- fled the field.
Our second battle had us assaulting another Keith-generated random warband. This one was a killer, though! Robots and Wretched armed with Death Ray Guns (lethal to us!)...yikes! Joel played them well, hunkering them down in the patches of orchard, while his Wretched closed in on the battle objective (food points). We tried some long range sniping fire, and even ran out into the open to attempt a few shots, but weren't scoring any hits. When the Wretched contaminated the food source, Sgt. Mpande reconsidered the battle. He figured that there would be zero profit from this battles, as any equipment carried by the Wretched was unusuable, and that on the robots would be useless to us, as well. With nothing to gain, he ordered the warband off the field, and Sim City suffered its first defeat (albeit with no losses).
In other action, Keith's Robot/Android band profitted immensely from the sale of looted weaponry, then took those energy cells into their next battle and ripped through an area infested by the Hive. The insect warriors were no match for Keith's firepower, but the Hive did manage to kill Keith's leader before succumbing to defeat. Joel's mutated plant warband scored their first victory in the campaign.
Hopefully, next running of the MDRG campaign will get more turnout -- I think we had 8 players the first time around...
So, this was the scenario I'd been hurrying to finish my Pictish broch for. Since I had only four players, I cut down the forces that I'd originally planned for. I had one undersized Pictish force (Allen) defending the broch, with a larger one (Joel) marching to relieve it. The two Viking forces were equal in size, and were worth more points in the Song of Blades and Heroes rules that we were using. Keith took the force assigned to storm the broch, while Steve Verdoliva took the one marching to hold off the relief force.
I've changed the way I do the warbands for Song of Blades, and it seems to work well. Rank and file figures are either missile troops, with a Quality Value of 3 and Combat Value 3, or melee with Q4 and C4. This means that the missile troops are more active, can move more often, but are at a disadvantage if caught in close combat. The melee troops are more difficult to maneuver, but tougher in a fight. I make the leaders the best of both worlds giving them Q3, C4. This scenario tossed in some new rules for storming the broch. I essentially used SBH's combat modifyer of +1 if above for the defenders of the broch. Attackers fighting from ladders did not have a negative modifyer (the defender's +1 would take care of that in this playtest), but did have problems if they lost. If they were beaten and supposed to recoil, I had them back down the ladder a tad, out of combat. If they were called upon to fall down, they made a Quality check. If they passed, they landed on the ground uninjured. If they failed, they broke a leg, twisted an ankle, whatever -- they were out of the game. If the attacker on the ladder defeated the defender in the broch, he received a free follow up move which put him inside the broch and off the ladder.
Archers firing from the tower received a cover bonus. I worried that archery might prove a tad weak, so was prepared to change that in the next scenario, if needed. This is particularly ironic because on the first turn of the game one of Allen's Pictish archers nailed the Viking leader assaulting the broch. Morale checks made about 1/3 of Keith's troops flee off-table. Keith's remaining troops occupied the defenders of the broch, though, but were never in serious danger of taking it. Steve brought his force over to reinforce them, and did make a push up the ladder, killing one Pictish defender inside. Reinforcements came down from the fighting platform above and drove the toehold off. The Viking second effort secured the middle level of the tower, though, killing all the defenders in the room.
Outside the tower, Joel's relieving force harassed Steve's Vikings, and actually slew their leader, as well. The battle wound down to the point that the next morale failure on either side would end the game. However, it was getting late, and the leaderless Vikings decided that, after grabbling what loot they could from the broch, they would beat feet back to the longship. I scored it a bloody draw -- the Picts lost the valuables inside the broch, but forced the Vikings to break off.
Sorry for the lack of photos...my digicam was acting up that night...!
The VC hit a trip wire and Cpt. Bobb "Duck" Scurry called down 82mm mortar and let 'E' Company open fire. Two platoons of VC were caught in an overgrown lot next to the GIs. Lt. Bac Kan's platoon was able to escape the mortar rounds but Lt. Quang's platoon was slowly cut apart by the shrapnel. Cpt. Scurry stood his ground and let the mortar shells fall while Lt. Neil's 3rd platoon was order to sweep around the on the left flank. Lt. Bac Kan's platoon redeployed to meet Lt. Neil platoon flanking maneuver. Lt. Bac Kan was killed in the street by sniper fire, acting Lt. Hu Me took command and moved the platoon forward into an apartment complex. Lt. Hu Me quickly set up a trap for the advancing G.I.'s, and sure enough they walked right into that trap. Meanwhile Cpt Scurry was getting out flanked by the VC, he ordered Lt. Upshur to block the this move. Upshur's 2nd platoon was able to catch the VC in the street but failed to stop them. In fact they did little more than show their position and then were overrun in close combat. The VC finished off 2nd platoon and then overran Cpt Scurry. That night VC won three close combat rolls. Charlie Victory -- Joel Sams
Tom has been tinkering with a variant of Big Battle DBA Ancients that uses 24 elements instead of 36, but that uses three command instead of the two that we normally use in our "Double Sized DBA" events at Origins and Advance the colors. For a full story on it, check out Fanaticus, the best site for De Bellis Antiquitais (DBA) in existence.
Joel, Allen and I showed up over at Ptom's and each played two games. Ptom ran his Yuan Chinese, Allen his Later Hungarians, Joel ran Early Byzantine and I fielded New Kingdom Egyptian. It was a fun time, and in my opinion, the variant works. Check out this Fanticus thread for more detail...
Zeke ran the first evening of the MDRG campaign which many of us have been constructing warbands for over the last several weeks. I brought my 28mm Boiler Suit Apes -- classified as Mutant Animals, Steve Sattler brought his "Hellboy" themed team, Joel brought his Mutated Plant team (based up tree models), Allen brought has Security Detail (humans and a robot), Keith fielded his Android & Robot warband, plus more. So many, that counting those who showed up to play NPCs, we had 10 players rolling dice and sending hails of automatic weapon fire at the enemy figs.
My Apes -- the Sim City warband -- did great their first time out. Our first game was against the Matrix-like agents of the Black Watch. Since they were a Purity squad of four humans, we outnumbered them 5-4. We immediately took cover and engaged them at extreme range. A good shot early on killed one of their agents, increasing our odds ot 5-3. I had deployed both of my short range shooters, Lumbubu with the Flamethrower and Azanti with the Electric Gun, on the extreme flanks. One Black Watch agent was advancing towards Lumbubu, so Cpl. Kammebalango and Sgt. Mpande moved his direction to assist (and make it a three on one situation). Rather than wait to be overwhelmed, the agent jumped out and fired, luckily missing Lumbubu. Kammebalango returned fire with his assault rifle and gunned him down, muttering "Dodge this...!" Outnumbered and down to two characters, the heavily armed Black Watch fled the field. The apes of Sim City delighted in looting the bodies of the two dead agents, stripping them of all their high-tech equipment.
In our next battle, we faced a shambing band of the Wretched. The center of the battlefield contained a cattle pen (with some interesting looking cattle...!), and both warbands were moving in to secure it as food. Once again, Sgt. Mpande ordered the short range weapons to the flanks, while he and the corporal took cover in the center. Long range gunnery took down the Wretched's Leader, forcing some of the leaderless zombies to flee in alarm. The rest of the pack continued to shamble forward. The apes hunkered down in their cover and blazed away on full auto with their assault rifles. Two more zombies fell, which coupled with those who had fled earlier, brought them down to below half strength. The rest of the Wretched ran from the apes' deadly fire, and the warriors of Sim City were soon left in possession of the cattle pen.
Mutants and Death Ray Guns is definitely a game where you need to prioritize your actions. Much as we've learned in the past playing Crossfire, for example, the order in which you roll for your actions is vitally important. It is also a game that favors raw aggression. It the games I played and watched, victory went to the player whose initiative forced the point of engagement and attacked, attacked, attacked! You've got to find your warband's point of advantage among the characters and all the battlefield and push it. Of course, there ARE unbalanced matchups, what with all the different types of warbands and various powers. Terrain can also greatly favor one side over the other. So, despite getting two swings at being the "bat" in this campaign, I'm sure there will be evenings when either my apes or the NPC warband I'm playing will be "the ball" and getting drilled over the center field fence....
by Tom Graves
The battle was indeed, indecisive, with both sides failing a "10 or less" army rout roll after losing just two units each. I thought the playtest of the uncontrolled move during the action phase worked well. The uncontrolled movement of air and water units, also seem to be okay, the movement of the CinC during the uncontrolled move card was also reasonable. We didn't have many examples of morale checks during the action phase, but that was okay, we will continue to test that in future games. The 5(3) Hits per element for the Boxers seem to work well in this game and I think it will be okay to model the loss of faith that occurred when magic lost out to lead.
I like the idea of different factions having different goals, but I may give it a break for a while because it did lead to some odd behavior in the game last night and I need to give it more careful consideration before making it part of the scenario. I think the board was sized okay, it could have been smaller, but the units in the village would have had an easier time to just break out and escape, if so. It was kind of hard to reach the center of the board for moving figs, however.
I would eliminate the random entry for this scenario, having the Euros come on in the center third of the south board edge and having the chinese appear on the East side (south of the river) and the Martians appear on the west board edge (south of the woods). This would make it sort of a break out feel with the reinforcement euros forming a corridor and the Chinese/Martian reinforcements trying to break through and halt the escape.
We moved gaming to Saturday night to accomodate my good friend Jason, who was flying in for the HMGS Great Lakes Big Battle DBA Tournament. It was going to be a quick trip for Jason, as he was using one of my USAirways buddy passes to fly in Saturday morning and back out Sunday morning. However, he'd get in a gaming marathon, though, on Saturday, because we'd planned a Dino Hunt scenario at Keith's for after the DBA.
I took my Avars to New Song Community Church in Reynoldsburg, OH, for the tourney. All in all, it ended up being a somewhat frustrating day. My die rolling was particularly uninspired, and I never really got a handle on how to break the Avars into commands an deploy them. I seemed in more of a reactionary mode -- I would look at the opponent's deployment and "counterpunch" to achieve local successes, rather than having an overarching tactical plan. My score showed my lack of tactics, as I went 1-1-1. I had fun against all my opponents, particularly with Steve Parillo, who drove in from Pittsburgh and brought a nasty Ghaznavid army. He was my tie, mainly because every time one of us set up a combat with an advantage, it seemed we'd lose it. The opponent would then return the favor promptly, and lose his corresponding counterattack. Weird game.
Nevertheless, I had fun, while remembering why I don't do a lot of triple-sized DBA tournaments. It is mentally exhausting to play three 2.5 hour games of BBDBA, in my opinion. Luckily, I didn't need much brainpower in Keith's Dino Hunt, which actually proved to be our bloodiest yet...in terms of our lives lost. Mine was one of only two original hunters that survived. Keith was mericiful, and let the deceased players return with a different hunter. The game was its usual hilarity, and I hope to post either some photos or a link to Keith's.
So, both Keith and Zeke have large numbers of the prepainted miniatures that Wings of War is selling to go with its simple, fast-play aerial combat rules. We'd played them a couple times before, and enjoyed them. So, everyone was up for another evening of whirling around in fragile canvas-covered aircraft and spontaneously exploding, from time to time...
Since we had only five players, Zeke suggested we play games with two high quality aircraft against two older, lesser quality ones. This seemed like a good suggestion, and in the first game, it was Zeke and Allen as the Central Powers and Keith, Joel and myself as the Allies. Zeke apparently had the hot hand of death with dealing out the damage cards, and handed explosions to both Joel and Keith (there are only two of these in the double deck we were using, and we didn't even get halfway through the deck!). I flew off the board with one point of damage left, so it was an obvious Hun win.
In the next game, Joel and I played Snipes or Spads, I forget which, and the other guys played older German planes. When Zeke handed me my first damage card in response to Allen's long range shot -- and it was an explosion -- I told him he wasn't allowed to touch them anymore that evening! Joel put up a brave effort, but outnumbered 3-to-1, had little chance, and it was another Kraut victory. In our final game, we decided to take the explosions out of the deck (despite Allen and Joel's objections) and had a much longer, and in MY opinion, more sastisfying game. My plane survived again, dished out some damage again, but I ended the evening not shooting anyone down. Zeke was the evening's big winner, with two or three kills.
It's a fun little game, each mission lasting about an hour or so. We'll definitely play it again...
So, it was a night off from miniatures, and we played the board game Caylus at Joel's place. There were five us, and it was a good time. Here's my take on the evening's festivities...taken from our group e-mail:
We pondered the meaning of the word Caylus Sunday evening, as we played it with our own various styles.
Mike thought the word's Latin root meant, "Why is everybody picking on me?" and proceeded to keep pace with Joel, who was in the lead most the game, and Allen, who came on strong at the end. When the troika decided he was in position to win and made moves to circumvent it, Mike enacted his backup plan: Bitch, bitch, bitch...keeping it up until Joel -- who was in a position to prevent him from winning -- felt sorry for him and let him win.
Steve thought Caylus had an early Germanic root, and meant "I'm so doomed." He proceeded to languish in the rear during most of the game, but quickly spotted Mike's enacting of his backup plan, and called him out on it. At the end, he considered himself a winner for having correctly called that Mike would win, and that the famous "Bitch, bitch, bitch, I win!" strategy is deadly and nearly insurmountable.
Ptom was certain that Caylus has a Macedonian root, and means, "If I'm not winning, Mike must be winning!" He was part of the troika that fingered Mike's surge and moved to put the kibosh on it. When Joel defected from the troika, and permitted Mike to win, Ptom reversed his previously Luddite, reactionary strategy and declared himself a progressive, almost giving the victory right back to Joel.
Joel was certain that Caylus has a Spanish root, and is a vernacular expression that has come down to us today as, "Mi casa, su casa." The game's leader from nearly start to finish, and host of the evening, he felt it would not be politic to win. When he could quash Mike's run at the roses with an easy expenditure of 1 ducat/florein/deiner/quatloon, he chose instead to invoke the Spanish phrase, and give the game to Mike. Then, he gave salad dressing to everyone else.
Allen knew that Caylus has a Hungarian origin and means, "He who sucks up to the King the most, is the True winner -- no matter what the final score says!" As such, he continued his Caylus strategy of building walls, towers and a donjon for the king, constructing nearly twice as much on the king's abode as the rest of us combined. He also finished, like Joel, within a few victory points of Mike, and with a slight widening of his strategy to include erecting a building or two, could easily have won.
Whatever Caylus means, it is certainly an intriguing game, with a variety of strategies. This was the fourth time I have played it, but only the first time I've fulfilled Ptom's neverending prophecy and won. Good game...and I promise to let someone else use the "Bitch, bitch, bitch, I win" technique next time. Maybe I'll build walls like Allen, or try to amass money and royal favors...or maybe I'll look the word up in the dictionary and find out what it really means, and then base my strategy around that...!