#GenCon2020 Weekend #Wargame #Boardgame After Action Report featuring @stonemaiergames, @gmtgames, @UnstbleUnicrns, @BlueOrangeGames, & @PSCGamesUK

I’LL BE HONEST, I WAS NOT GOING TO MAKE IT TO GENCON THIS YEAR ANYWAY. Moving to a new position made taking an extra non-family vacation dicey so I passed. Of course, it doesn’t matter now since COVID-19 changed everything. As a result, GenCon 2020 was held online and in homes this year. The RockyMountainNavy household did our part.

Plays

Here are the games played this GenCon 2020:

  • Scythe (Stonemaier Games, 2016): Friday night we picked up on our Scythe: The Rise of Fenris (2018) campaign playing Episode 4. We used the Scythe: Invaders from Afar (2018) and Scythe: Encounters (2018) expansions. Sunday night we continued with Episode 5, which unveiled [REDACTED]. I continue to be impressed how The Rise of Fenris campaign introduces new modular expansions that will be playable in any game going forward. Rather than just “open a box of options” the campaign introduces them gradually and provides a ‘reason’ for the new options to exist in the game universe. Brilliant marketing technique!
  • Here to Slay (Unstable Unicorns, 2020): This game already is officially the most-played game this year in the RockyMountainNavy hacienda and it shows no signs of slowing down. We are so familiar with the rules and speedy that the game takes no more than 20 minutes to play – a great filler before dinner or while waiting for something.
  • Wing Leader: Origins 1936-1942 (GMT Games, 2020): Played solo through Scenario O05 “Operation Zet” which depicts Nationalist Chinese flying I-16s’, I-15’s and Hawk III’s defending against a Japanese raid of G3M2 bombers escorted by A5M4 fighters. Takes place over Wuhan, China. Somewhat fitting in these days of coronavirus….(Note: I actually played it three times with the third play forming the basis for a long AAR).
  • Rhode Island (GMT Games, 2020): New arrival this weekend. Spent some time sorting and trimming the counters before pushing the cardboard around. I really enjoy the Battles of the American Revolution Series and this one doesn’t disappoint delivering insight into a lesser known (Battle of Rhode Island) and even a hypothetical one (Battle of Newport).

Purchases

There were more than a few deals online for games so I took advantage of a few:

What was your GenCon 2020 experience?


Feature image courtesy gencon.com

Harvesting new modes of Scythe (@stonemaiergames, 2016) – Our first #boardgame play of 2020

SCYTHE (Stonemaier Games, 2016) OCCUPIES A SPECIAL PLACE IN THE ROCKYMOUNTAINNAVY PANTHEON OF GAMES. When I attended the CONNECTIONS 2017 Wargaming Conference, this very brash guy named Uwe Eickert from Academy Games spoke about the incredible design innovations in the game. On the power of that recommendation I picked up the game and eventually, although with some trepidation, it landed on the RMN Gaming Table. In the past three years, the RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself have enjoyed many plays of Scythe. When RMN Jr. suggested we play Scythe as our New Year’s Night Game we all enthusiastically agreed!

As much as we have played Scythe, we have stayed a bit vanilla in terms of expansions. We have used Invaders from Afar (2016) from our beginning in 2017 and started our Rise of Fenris (2018) campaign in 2019. For the New Year’s play we decided to go ‘back to basics’ and use the Base Game + Invaders from Afar while also adding airships from The Wind Gambit (2017) on the new Modular Board (2019). After randomly setting up the board and selecting factions, we pulled one of the modular tiles off and set off.

For this game the faction match-up included:

  • Togawa / Patriotic for myself
  • Rusviet / Agricultural for RMN T
  • Nordic / Mechanical for RMN Jr.

The Wind Gambit expansion includes Resolution Tiles. There are eight (8) tiles and at the beginning of the game one is chosen and placed near the Triumph Track. These tiles have different win conditions that modify how the game can end. In our game the variable win was ‘First player to more than $40’ as well as the normal ‘First player to place 6 stars.’

In Scythe it is always interesting to see the different approaches the game allows. I generally employed a ‘get the Mechs out early’ strategy whereas Jr. focused on upgrades while T took a more balanced approach. RMN T definitely won the award for ‘most thematic play’ as we watched him send his Rusviet red hordes of Mechs and workers across the board. He was also the first to the Factory, really making it a ‘Red Factory.’

In the end, the real battle was between T racing to 6 starts and Jr racing to the alternate end condition of amassing $40. Jr won the race and, given his advantage in money, also took the win with 87 against 55 for myself and 47 for T.

img_9176
Courtesy Stonemaier Games

In our post-game discussion we agreed that the Scythe Modular Board delivers new interesting challenges. On the base game board we all understood how to get out of our home areas; now we need to think harder as the way out may not be immediately obvious. The use of airships opens up many different movement options. More challenging is the use of the Resolution Tiles which change the end game trigger.

Even with all the new rules added in our play time for this game of Scythe was under two hours. RMN T gripped (rightly, IMHO) that Jr. triggered the end game too early. In Jr’s defense he saw the chance to win and took it; we didn’t do enough to stop him.

Now that we have played with The Wind Gambit airships we are ready for the next episode of our Rise of Fenris campaign. The boys agreed that we will need to mix campaign play with regular Scythe games. By the end of the year I feel we will mixing in expansion modules from Rise of Fenris into our regular games. It is a real testimony to the design of Scythe that even after several years the game feels fresh every time it lands on the RMN gaming table. Most impressively, the many expansions and variations give players plenty of options to harvest for play.

 

Going back to the well – #boardgame quick-play of #Scythe (@stonemaiergames, 2016) + Scythe: Invaders from Afar (2016)

Scythe (Stonemaier Games, 2016) continues to amaze the RockyMountainNavy gaming family. We bought the game in 2017 and played it three times that year. We didn’t play it al all in 2018. So far in the first month of 2019 we have already played it twice! This weekend, we also added in the Invaders from Afar expansion with Youngest RMN Boy playing Clan Albion. Best of all, we played a complete game in just about 90 minutes. This is the fastest game of Scythe we have ever played.

scythe-expansion-box-768x324
Courtesy Stonemaier Games

The last time we played with Invaders from Afar, the Middle RMN Boy (the one with ASD) had a hard time. I think that subconsciously we shied away from the expansion after that. This weekend, the Youngest RMN Boy wanted to play “the hawg faction,” or Clan Albion, so we bent the rules and openly picked factions while randomly drawing player mats. While this certainly made for a fun game, at the same time I noticed Middle RMN Boy went “back to the well” with the Nordic Faction. He won with it last time finishing 25 points ahead of everyone else. This time he absolutely wiped the floor with us again, gaining 100 coins and ending 22 coins ahead of everyone else. It could of been worse; he actually could of ended the game three rounds earlier than it happened but kept playing to build up more points. Even then, at the end of the game my Saxony faction attacked his Nordic in the Factory to knock Nordic back and rob them of three territories (and the money/victory points associated with that).

Some folks on BoardGameGeek have done analysis that seemingly indicates the Nordic Faction is the dominant faction at three players. In our (limited) experience this appears to be true. The real test in the future will be how well he plays with other factions and if he continues to have an interest in Scythe even if he starts losing. So far, the indications are good; at the end of this weekends game he and his brother were joshing each other over what other faction they wanted to play next time.

I think the faster play tonight resulted partially from all of us being more comfortable with not only Scythe, but different game mechanics in general. In many ways, the RMN Boys have become real “gamers” in the past two years. I am still the one who actually reads the rules and teaches it to them, but the RMN Boys absorb (and process the rules quickly.

That said, Youngest RMN did make a mistake in this game and it may have cost him. The Clan Albion special faction ability is Exalt. With Exalt, the Albion character (Conner and Max) can place up to four flags on territories after they move. Territories with flags count as two territories when it comes to scoring. If he had remembered to place his flags he could of gained 16 extra coins finishing with 95 coins total and placing just 5 coins behind his brother. I get the feeling he won’t forget his special faction ability next time!

2017-07-14_0951
Windships courtesy Stonemaier Games

The RMN Boys want to get Scythe to the table again. I feel that the game may become our “evergreen” title of 2019 like Enemies of Rome (Worthington Publishing, 2017) was for 2018 when it was played 10 times over the course of the year. As far as expansions go, after reading multiple reviews I am not sold on the airships in Scythe: The Wind Gambit Expansion though at around $20 it may be worth the investment.

img_7558-e1527602822470
The mystery of Rise of Fenris (courtesy Stonemaier Games)

More vexing is the Rise of Fenris Expansion. I am not sure that we really want to play an eight-game campaign (with different rules?) just to unlock 11 interchangeable modules. With the price hovering in the $40-$50 range, I am not sure if this is the best use of my gaming budget.

Oh, who am I kidding. With the current popularity of Scythe in the RMN hacienda I have a feeling both Wind Gambit and Fenris will make appearances this year.


Feature image courtesy BoardGameGeek

 

#FamilyGameNight – Further Thoughts on #Scythe (and #AutismSpectrum)

scythe-expansion-box-768x324
Courtesy Stonemaier Games

Scythe (Stonemaier Games, 2016) has quickly become the game-of-choice for Little RMN. We have played it three of the last six Saturday Family Game Nights. This weekend we added in the Invaders from Afar expansion. We played another 3-player game where I won using Rusviet/Agricultural with 91 points against Nordic/Mechanical (71 pts) and Togawa/Mechanical (26 pts.)

Some reviewers and critics accuse Scythe of starting out as a series of solo games, or of feeling to “samey” ever time. After the second game I was starting to feel the same way. However, when I got the Invaders from Afar expansion, it reminded me to look at each factions special abilities. These asymmetric abilities are what sets each faction apart and to win one must take advantage of these differences.

Most importantly, each faction has a different movement advantage. In our game, the Rusviet can go from any Village to/from the Factory. The Nordic workers can swim across rivers, and the Togawa can jump to Traps. In our early games we didn’t pay too much attention to the special movement and thus our first mechs invariably were for Riverwalk.

Secondly, each faction has a special ability or characteristic. For Rusviet it is “Relentless” which allows the player to pick the same area of the production mat each turn. For Togawa it is placing/arming Traps. These asymmetric (overused word) abilities again distinguish each faction. Proper use can assist in the run to victory.

Recognition of these differences, and how to use them, is key to the game. Unfortunately, in last night games the Middle RMN Boy drew Togawa. You have to understand that the Middle RMN Boy is on the Autism Spectrum and his ability to rapidly process information is challenged. Drawing Togawa from our newly purchased expansion he had no real time to study his faction and figure out how to take advantage of his faction’s abilities; especially the new Trap rule which is a key special ability. More than anything else I feel this contributed to his low scoring.

All of which serves as a reminder that games are for fun. I am going to sit down with him (not his brothers – help him feel important) and we will discuss each faction. I think if we do this, it will help him “see” what makes Scythe an impressive game. In the end, I hope it will keep the game “fun” for him instead of making him feel left behind. After all, we are a family and need to remember that gaming together is more important than just winning.