Here to Slay (@UnstbleUnicrns) – The strategic RPG card game that’s beautifully illustrated & quick-to-play but difficult to read

I DON’T EXACTLY REMEMBER WHY I ORDERED HERE TO SLAY. I think I saw a review around the time the Kickstarter campaign started. I pledged for the $39 Kickstater Exclusive + Expansions level. I’m glad I did because this quick-play RPG-based card game is fun to play and makes a good addition to the family game collection even while it can be challenging on the eyes.

Here to Slay is a “strategic RPG card game” for 1-6 players. Basically, each player has a Party Leader with a special power. On your turn, you can play up to three Action Points to Draw cards, play a Hero, Item, or Magic card, Attack a Monster, or Discard your hand. The quick game (30-60 minutes) ends when one player has either slayed three monsters or has built a party with at least six different Classes of Heroes.

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Courtesy Here to Slay Kickstarter

By far the most appealing aspect of Here to Slay is the artwork on the cards. Fun and whimsical but also dark and foreboding when necessary. The artwork keeps Here to Slay from devolving into a depressing game as the key features of play are plenty of ‘take that” between players and slaying monsters (which aren’t slayed as much as they are recruited into your party to use their special power). The other strength of the game is the quick play; rules are very light and uncomplicated. Our first game of three players took, with rules explanation, just under one hour. We all agreed that future games will surely go much faster, maybe as short as 30 minutes even for three players.

Here to Slay is not a perfect game. First, you need to make sure you play this game understanding that ‘take that’ is the rule, not the exception. Here to Slay is built upon Challenging other players and stealing or destroying Heroes or Items. In a three-player game it’s very easy for one player to feel beat upon by the others. This is not to say the ‘take that’ element of Here to Slay is necessarily a negative; instead it must be recognized for what is is – an essential element of the game design that not all may enjoy.

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My second quibble with Here to Slay may be more from my age but I don’t think even the youngsters these days would disagree. While the artwork in Here to Slay is incredible, the layout of the cards creates challenges in play. Specifically, the size and font used of the cards. It appears to me that in their quest to show off the art, Unstable Unicorns reduced text size to the point the thin font used is difficult to read unless you have the card literally in front of you. Reading a card across the table becomes challenging if not outright impossible. Although there is some graphical symbology used, it too is smaller in size and helpful, but not helpful at the same time.

Here to Slay will take its place in the RockyMountainNavy Family Game Collection alongside where Quarriors (WizKids) sits. Both games are light fantasy with cards and plenty of ‘take that.’ Both are relatively quick playing (less than 60 minutes) and can be ‘long fillers’ or part of a multi-play game night. Of the two, Here to Slay is far more portable so maybe it will be a travel game too.


Feature image courtesy Here to Slay Kickstarter campaign

July #Wargame #Boardgame Forecast – HOT!

IT IS PAINFULLY OBVIOUS THAT CORONAVIRUS ADVERSELY AFFECTED THE HOBBY GAMING INDUSTRY. I have yet to hear of a game company that has gone under but it’s easy to see the stress many are operating under. As the economy starts recovering from coronavirus shutdowns more game production is coming back. Looking at my Preorder & Kickstarter Roll on BoardGameGeek, it looks like July may be a VERY good month for a return to gaming!

Of the 27 games I list on 28 June, there is a better-than-even chance that as many as nine (9), or 33%, could deliver or otherwise fulfill in July. These include:

  1. One Small Step (Academy Games, 2020)Kickstarter Boardgame. An update from mid-May stated that shipping in July was expected. I have not seen an update since. Academy Games does not have the best track record for keeping to timelines but that negative is more than compensated by the top-quality game that usually ends up being delivered.
  2. Wing Leader: Origins 1936-1942 (GMT Games, 2020)P500 Preorder Wargame. This one is a lock as I already have my UPS tracking number with delivery scheduled for 1 July.
  3. Philadelphia 1777 (Worthington Games, 2020)Kickstarter Wargame. A late June update reported the game is arriving at the freight-forwarder and Worthington expects to take possession early in July and start shipping immediately.
  4. The Shores of Tripoli (Fort Circle Games, 2020)Kickstarter Waro. Coronavirus delays have pushed this one back from April, but it looks like July is seriously in play.
  5. Here to Slay (Unstable Games, 2020)Kickstarter Card Game. Late June update reported game is out of production and on way to publisher for fulfillment.
  6. Undaunted: North Africa (Osprey Games, 2020)Preorder Waro. All looks to be on track for an early July release.
  7. Heights of Courage: The Battle for the Golan Heights, October 1973 (MMP, 2013)Sale Wargame. Bought as part of an amazing MMP sale in June. Having never ordered before from MMP I don’t know how fast they usually fulfill orders and realize coronavirus restrictions may be slowing them down. I had hoped to have these games in hand before July but it looks like they will not arrive until after the new month starts.
  8. Panzer Battles: 11th Panzer on the Chir River (MMP, 2016)Sale Wargame. Like Heights of Courage above, this is another Standard Combat Series game. I have little experience with MMP so these two games will serve as my introduction to SCS.
  9. Operation Mercury: The Invasion of Crete (MMP, 2017)Sale Wargame. On sale for an incredible $40 versus the usual $172. Will be my first foray into the MMP Grand Tactical Series (GTS) of games.

Looking ahead to the end of the year, it is possible that as many as half of the games on my current Preorder & Kickstarter list could deliver. That would not only be good for me, but more importantly good for the gaming industry.

#RPGThursday – My OTR: Original #TravellerRPG Renaissance

I HAVE NOT LOOKED AT MY RPG COLLECTION IN A VERY LONG TIME. This past weekend I visited DriveThruRPG for the first time in a very long while. I was a bit surprised to see the ALIEN RPG Core Rulebook listed as the #1 bestseller.

Now, I really like the movies ALIEN and ALIENS but I am not so sure I want to plop down $24.99 for a pdf (although it is 392 pages!). Especially since I already own Hostile from Zozer Games.

So maybe Hostile is not as comprehensive as the ALIEN RPG Core Rulebook but does that make it less playable? In some ways I have soured on ‘comprehensive’ RPG settings – I feel so hemmed in by them. The worst is some ‘known’ setting like Star Wars – don’t get me started on canon!

While looking around DTRPG I picked up, for free, Outworld Authority, also from Zozer Games. Here is how the ad copy for Outworld Authority reads:

Chris Kubasik in his wonderful  blog called Classic Traveller: Out of the Box, has brought Traveller back to its beginnings, as a simple but flexible set of three ‘Little Black Books’ that can be used to create stories in the sci-fi setting of your own imagination.

OUTWORLD is a short and simple setting, inspired by the movies Alien, Aliens, Outland and Silent Running (amongst others) and it uses only the tools and rules of Traveller Books 1, 2 and 3 to help build a rough facsimile of those movies. The setting is entirely original, and not connected to the settings of Ridley Scott’s Alien or Blade Runner movies, but it is inspired by his films, by the others in my list above and by later movies (the Alien sequels for a start).  It is not connected to my game HOSTILE, either.

In the spirit of Chris Kubasik’s Traveller blog, let’s stick to the rules as written if we can, and keep our game setting small, manageable and bursting with adventure opportunities.

I picked up my Little Black Books of Traveller over 40 years ago. I always enjoyed the wonder those three books opened up. I am ashamed to say it, but it took me 40 years to realize that I do not love Classic Traveller or the modern Cepheus Engine incarnation as much as Original Traveller – Traveller Books 1-3 ‘without a setting.’

Original Traveller describes my style of Traveller best. I don’t ignore the Third Imperium setting but I like making my own using elements from the LBBs.  Form here on out I am going to use Original Traveller to describe this style of Traveller RPG play – a setting that is ‘small, manageable, and bursting with adventure opportunities.’

Sadly, I see that Chris has not updated his blog since August 2019. Hopefully he get some new content going. I certainly am going to try and do the same!


Writing this blog made me remember I pledged on Kickstarter for Cortex Prime: A Multi-Genre Modular Roleplaying Game by Can Banks. The campaign took my money in May 2017 with delivery originally scheduled for April 2018. Here we are, nearly a complete two years and 55 updates later and the STILL NO PRODUCT! In the meantime, Cam up and moved his family to New Zealand (I’m ‘sure’ none of the $84K in this Kickstarter was used, eh?) and the project has taken a much different turn by joining Fandom (see the press announcement here).  At some point lat year I tried to reach out to Cam and cancel my pledge for a refund. Unsurprisingly, I heard nothing back and never got a refund. So forgive me if I have also soured on ‘big’ RPG publishers – to say I am disappointed with the likes of Mr. Banks is an understatement.


Feature image courtesy Zozer Games via DriveThruRPG

Monday rambling #boardgame musings – Sustaining hobby hype

This holiday weekend I got to wondering how the hobby boardgame industry can sustain interest for a game in this era of “Cult of the New” and the many, many new games being published every day. A great deal of my thoughts here were triggered by Uwe Eickert of Academy Games in an interview he did with the No Enemies Here V-cast:

Uwe brings up many good points about how the hobby boardgame industry will likely be facing major changes in the near future. For me, I recently started questioning the future of my part of the hobby as I updated my Preorder & Kickstarter GeekList and looked at “The Hotness” on BGG. What I see is an industry that still is riding high on the “Cult of the New” and FOMO – “Fear of Missing Out.” As I look at my preorder and Kickstarter list and then The Hotness, I wonder if the hobby boardgame industry can sustain the hype they need to sell games.

As Uwe points out, there are many, many, many new games published every day. Indeed, the lifespan of a game has shrunk to almost nothing. Many games are here one day and gone tomorrow, replaced by another new game. The preorder and Kickstarter approach to buying games throws a wrinkle in this in that the games are not “here today” but “here at sometime in the future.”

What does that mean to me?

Let’s look at a a few of the games I have on preorder/Kickstarter. One of the older titles is Flashpoint: South China Sea on the GMT Games P500. I pledged for this game in February 2018 (nearly 2 years ago). The game status is, “Made the Cut; in final art & development” meaning, well, it just means it’s not at the printer yet and the delivery date is undeterminable. Now, I like designer Harold Buchanan and I ordered the game mostly because it is his design. I follow design diaries when they come out but, to be honest, my interest has cooled considerably in the past 2 years. Whatever hype I had is nearly all lost.

Another game on my list is Root: The Underworld Expansion from Leder Games. I pledged to Kickstarter in March of 2019 with a projected delivery date of December 2019. As it looks now, I won’t get my copy until February 2020 – if I’m lucky. I love Root and apparently many others do too as it is in The Hotness on BGG but…I find myself just playing the basic Root these days sans expansions. In the past year my hype has faded.

My hype deflation doesn’t stop there. The year 2019 was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing and I was caught up with the nostalgia; so caught up I pledged for One Small Step from Academy Games in July. Good thing Academy didn’t run the Apollo program because OSS is due March 2020 (compared to the Dec 2019 projection at funding). I love Academy Games but once again they hype I felt is fizzling as fast as a failed booster.

Not all is bad. Designer Lee Brimmicombe-Wood works hard to get expansions for his Wing Leader Series from GMT Games out to players. The next one, Wing Leader: Origins, which went on P500 in July 2019 is already at the printer (meaning 1-3 months more until delivery). That’s a good turnaround and I am able to keep my hype going, especially given the previous expansion, Wing Leader: Eagles, delivered to me in September 2019 – a gap of around 6 months between product delivery. Maybe there is a lesson here….

But then there is Oath: Chronicles of Empire and Exile from Leder Games. Presently on Kickstarter, Leder Games easily reached their funding goal (though I wonder how much better they might of done if they were not head-to-head with Return to Dark Tower). There is lots of good hype around this game. In particular, I appreciate the efforts of Dan Thurot at Space Biff. I am excited for this game, RIGHT NOW. But…the projected delivery date is January 2021. Throw in a healthy dose of Kickstarter doubt and I might see this game in…June 2021? That’s more than a year away. What is Leder Games going to do to sustain my hype? More importantly (for them), what if they don’t sustain my hype?

In the case of Kickstarter the publisher has an advantage in that they have my money up front and regardless of where my hype meter is they will deliver the game when they deliver it. The challenge for the publisher is to keep my hype going over a long period of time. If they don’t I am less likely to support their next Kickstarter. Publishers that use a preorder system are not as bad off (they have my pledge for a game but don’t get my money until closer to publication) but again, sustaining the hype during game development is a challenge/threat. Aside – I cancelled a preorder once after it charged. I kinda felt horrible telling the publisher that I wanted my money back even before the game was delivered. I understand some publishers are on razor-thin margins and even one cancellation can be difficult. So I try to stay ahead and if I cancel do it before charging occurs. But I digress….

As I look at myself, I feel my own ‘industry’ shake up coming. First, I honestly am trying to slow down my purchases. At this time last year I had taken in six new games; this year I have purchased one board game supplemental item (a box organizer). Of the 18 items on my GeekList, I think no more than 14 could deliver in 2020. That’s averaging more than one game a month – is that not enough?

I also found a few retailers that offer new games at prices similar to the preorder or basic Kickstarter rates. Usually these retailers have the games available at nearly the same time as the preorder is released or soon thereafter (for Kickstarter its early retail release). Here there is no price advantage for me going to the publisher. Instead, have a “disadvantage” in that I don’t get the game first (Cult of the New membership – REVOKED!) but maybe this is better as I get to see initial reactions once the game is “in the wild.” At the very least, I will be able to get a game when my hype (interest?) is highest, not long after it has cooled.

Some may point out that the preorder and Kickstarter methods serve the publisher as it is a barometer of interest. I sometimes wonder just how true that is. For instance, my oldest P500 at GMT Games is from October 2017 (!). Apparently, there are only 164 people who want a reprint of Panzer Expansion #1. Yes, there is a copy available on GeekMarket…for over $100! I want the game, but I don’t want it that badly. What good is it doing remaining in a vast limbo on the P500? Apparently the hype is long dead with this one. How many other games suffer the same fate? If I don’t preorder or back on kickstarter what is the real penalty for ME?

Then again, maybe I am being too impatient and paying to much attention to the hype-of-the-moment. Is it so bad to wait six to 18 months for a new game? Is that not a reasonable period to allow a game to be developed, playtested, manufactured, and shipped? There are plenty of (bad) examples of what happens when a game is rushed.

I’m torn. What are your thoughts? What is your boardgame hype like?


Feature image courtesy Leder Games

 

My 2019 #wargame #boardgame year ‘By the Numbers’

This time of the year everybody in the gaming world seems to be doing a Top 10 list. As I get ready to consider my Game of the Year I first looked back on all the games I acquired this year and decided to do some simple analytics. Along the way, I discovered a few surprises in my gaming acquisitions and plays. So here is my 2019 ‘By the Numbers.”

Total Titles Acquired – 56

I kept a 2019 Acquisitions GeekList on BGG. This was a simple way for me to keep a running log of the games as they arrived.

  • Full Games = 36 (64%)
  • Expansions = 20 (36%)
  • Wargames (Games + Expansions) = 28 (50%)
  • Waro Games = 7 (12.5%)
  • Strategy Games + Expansions = 11 (20%)
  • Family Games + Expansions = 6 (11%)
  • Thematic Games + Expansions = 4 (7.3%)
  • Published in 2019 = 31 (55%)

After 2018 Mrs. RockyMountainNavy asked me to slow down in my gaming acquisitions. Didn’t quite work; this year I acquired 56 games as compared to 45 last year (an increase of 25%). Whoops! Sorry, dear!

As a wargamer I’m not surprised that over 60% of my acquisitions were wargame or waro designs. I am surprised at the number of expansions I bought; I usually don’t buy that many but this year there were so many good ones offered!

I try to not be a slave to the Cult of the New but apparently I can’t help myself with just over half my new acquisitions being published this year.

Game Titles by Era

  • World War II = 15 (26.7%)
  • Science Fiction = 14 (25%)
  • Post-WWII/Cold War = 13 (23.2%)
  • Modern = 8 (14.3%)
  • Fantasy = 5 (9%)
  • 18th/19th Century = 4 (7%)

Was mildly surprised by how many science fiction titles I acquired. I usually see myself as more of a historical gamer but maybe not as much as I thought….

Acquisition Means

  • Purchase Secondary Market = 16 (28.5%)
  • Purchase Direct from Publisher = 15 (26.7%)
  • Kickstarter = 13 (23.2%)
  • GMT P500 = 8 (14.3%)
  • Trade/Chain of Generosity = 4 (7%)

Almost one-third bought on the secondary market (i.e. not direct from publisher but through another seller)? Those games usually cost more money; I hope I was buying them on sale or on some sort of discount!

Nearly one-quarter of my games from Kickstarter? I try to be very cagey with my Kickstarter pledges; maybe I need to button down on myself! Then again, several companies like Stronghold Games or Canvas Temple Publishing or Worthington Publishing use Kickstarter as their pre-order system.

Games Played

This year I once again used the Board Game Stats app to track my games played.

  • Total Plays = 220 (DOWN 39% from 2018)
  • Games Played = 119 (UP 13% from 2018)
  • ‘Quarters’ (25+ plays) = 0 (1 in 2018)
  • “Dimes’ (10-24 plays) = 2 (10 in 2018)
  • ‘Nickels’ (5-9 plays) = 3 (8 in 2018)

So…compared to 2018 I played more games overall but for a fewer number of times. Not surprised since last year ~25% of my game plays were quick, easy, family and kid games like Rhino Hero or Happy Salmon, Animal Upon Animal or ICECOOL.

Challenges

I gave myself three challenges in 2019. I came close but actually didn’t finish any of them.

The challenges accounted for nearly half of the different games played and something like a quarter of my total game plays. Between the challenges and new titles I didn’t have much other room to play games. Next year – fewer challenges to give myself more ‘me’ game time.

So…how did you do in 2019?

November 2019 @kickstarter Monitor – @LederGames @StrongholdGames @Academy_Games @worth2004 @fortcircle

AS WE MOVE INTO THE HOLIDAY SEASON I am looking forward to the myriad of sales that are forthcoming from multiple game publishers. Well, at least the wargame publishers. The annual GMT Games sale is past and others are either underway or imminent.

Then there is Kickstarter.

Kickstarter doesn’t have any real ‘sales’ since their whole sell model is (supposedly) built on ‘deals’ for supporters. Timelines also are much different – order (and pay) now for promised delivery then. So in order to get something for the Christmas season it means making a commitment months (if not years) in advance…and just how many Kickstarter projects have actually delivered on time?

In the last year I supported more Kickstarter projects than ever before. I currently have five projects outstanding. I also am keeping my eye on several others that are closing in the next 20 days or less. What am I thinking?

BACKED/OUTSTANDING (5)

pic4608840Root: The Underworld Expansion (Leder Games) / ‘Underworld Warrior’ level / Funded 02 Apr 2019 / Estimated delivery: Dec 2019 / ON TIME? – Claim they are on track for on-time delivery

I really like the Root-series although I don’t get it to the table enough. I also am usually hesitant to invest in expansions unless I really love the system. I guess I just really love Root.

pic4599496Terraforming Mars: Turmoil (Stronghold Games) / ‘Mars Attacks’ level / Funded 02 May 2019 / Estimated delivery: Nov 2019 / LATE – EU delivery underway; US delivery to start after Turkey Day and continue through December

The expansions for Terraforming Mars are a mixed bag. Some, like Prelude, I see as essential while others, like Venus Next, are a total pass. Backed this one mostly for the redone boards and a hope the expansion game is worthwhile. However, after listening to a podcast discussion on 6 Zones of Play I have my doubts.

pic4793691One Small Step (Academy Games) / ‘Apollo 11’ level / Funded 06 Aug 2019 / Estimated delivery: Dec 2019 / ON TIME? – No updates since late August

Academy Games has history of (very) blown timelines but delivery of awesome games.

pic4983441Philadelphia 1777 (Worthington Publishing) / ‘Early Bird – Philadelphia 1777’ level / Funded 21 Oct 2019 / Estimated delivery: April 2020

Worthington is my go-to publisher for block wargames. They also have a sale ongoing that includes several older games. Interesting….

pic4791402The Shores of Tripoli (Fort Circle) / ‘One Copy’ level / +200% funded with 11 days to go / Estimated delivery: April 2020

I have the PnP and am looking forward to the fully published version. First-time game designer/publisher usually means unforeseen delays; we shall see.

INTERESTING/UNBACKED (6)

Traveller RPG: The Deepnight Revelation Campaign Box Set (Mongoose Publishing) / +300% funded with 20 days to go / Estimated delivery: July 2020

I love me some Traveller RPG but ~$60 for a pdf? Oh yeah, it’s Mongoose. HARD PASS!

STRIKE!: The Game of Worker Rebellion (The TESA Collective) / ~155% funded with 11 days to go / Estimated delivery: March 2020

I like the looks of this game. However, I do not like the politics of the campaign. This campaign is more about a political statement than a game. If it was the other way around then maybe. PASS.

High Frontier 4 All (Sierra Madre Games) / ~2700% funded with 6 days to go / Estimated delivery: June 2020

At $59 for the ‘Core’ level this is not a bad deal, but when an I going to get a game this heavy to the table? PASS.

pic4787621The Zorro Dice Game (Overworld Games) / ~675% funded with 6 days to go / Estimated delivery: June 2020

The RockyMountainBoys and I like lite dice games. I can still get the ‘Zorro Base Game’ level for a mere $15. SERIOUS CONSIDERATION.

Beyond Humanity: Colonies (Three Headed Monster) / ~625% with 2 days to go / Estimated delivery: September 2020

This game looks incredible and highly innovative., but at $225 (GASP!) for the ‘Colonist – one way ticket’ level it’s wayyyyy too rich for me. This is also their first ‘creation” – I see lots of risk here. PASS.

Stellar Horizons (Compass Games) / FUNDED 10 Nov 2019 with nearly 1000% of goal / Estimated delivery: April 2020

I missed it but at $119 for the ‘Interplanetary Explorer’ level it’s a fair chunk-of-change to ask for during the holiday season when I am looking for economy in my purchases.

KICKSTARTER OF SHAME (1)

Cortex Prime: A Multi-Genre Modular Roleplaying Game (Cam Banks) / ‘Prime Softcover Plus’ level / Funded 29 May 2017(!) / Estimated delivery: April 2018 / LATE MAYBE NEVER

I pledged at time when it still looked like RPGs would be a major part of the gaming scene in the RockyMountainNavy house. Since then, I cooled considerably to RPGs. This campaign has seen the designer move to New Zealand (I’m not saying he took the money and ran but….) and an endless string of delays. In September 2019 the designer announced an alliance with a whole new company and a whole new production model – but no delivery date. Like others I tried reaching out to the campaign to get a refund. Like many others I am ignored.


Feature image courtesy entrepreneur.com / Game cover images courtesy BGG.com

 

 

Dueling with rules in Tank Duel (@gmtgames, 2019) while making sense of Agents of Mayhem (@Academy_Games, 2019) and still learning from an older rebellion in 1775 – Rebellion (Academy Games, 2013) #wargame #boardgame

There were plenty of new wargame/boardgame arrivals this week in the RockyMountainNavy house. Almost makes me think I am becoming a “heavy” gamer!

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I love big gaming boxes….

Two boxes came in on Friday weighing a whopping 24 lbs combined weight. That immediately signaled to me that this was going to be a gaming-while-learning weekend.

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Tank Duel (GMT Games, 2019)

The smaller box, weighing in at “only” 7 lbs, held the newly released Tank Duel: Enemy in the Crosshairs from GMT Games (2019). This “fast action card game of WWII tank battles” focuses on the Eastern Front and has players playing individual tank commanders. There is no mapboard; the battle is fought abstractly.

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Tank Duel contents (courtesy GMT Games)

Since Tank Duel plays up to eight players I wanted to try and get this to the table for our “Saturday Night Fight” but alas, after running through the rules and playing solo once, I was still learning and was not confident enough to teach it to the RockyMountainNavy Boys. Maybe next week….

The second box, weighing in at 17 lbs shipping, may be the largest and heaviest game box I ever had delivered. It had only one game inside it – Agents of Mayhem: Pride of Babylon (Apollo Games/Academy Games, 2019).

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Agents of Mayhem – Fortune’s Big Score Kickstarter fulfillment

The box was actually my Kickstarter fulfillment meaning I got not only the base game but four expansions (I backed at the Early Bird Special – Fortune’s Big Score level). Now, I’m no video game fan. I supported this game mostly because I really like Academy Games and, as I wrote before, I heard (on a podcast interview?) that Agents of Mayhem is based on a Battle of Fallujah game that Academy Games developed for the USMC. The buildable/destructible nature of the game is an intriguing aspect that I know the RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself will enjoy. Heck, I may even get the oldest RockyMountainNavy Boy to play (once he comes off his 60 hours-a-week shifts).

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Courtesy Academy Games

Since I wasn’t quite ready to teach either of these games to the RockyMountainNavy Boys for our Saturday Night Fight we fell back on an older classic game. The boys also wanted a shorter game because everybody was feeling a bit under the weather and the cold medicine was kicking in. So an old standby, 1775 – Rebellion: The American Revolution (Academy Games, 2013), landed on the table.

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Courtesy Academy Games

The RMN Boys, playing the American Continentals and Patriots, wanted a shorter game so they wasted no time in punishing me. Their first card play was a French invasion of Savannah. As the British player, I was forced into a Middle Colony Strategy as I held New York City, New Jersey, and Delaware. The boys played swiftly, and both of their Treaty cards were out in Round 3 meaning Round 4 was end-game. All I had to do was hold for a tie.

Not so fast.

After playing this game for something like 3 years the RockyMountainNavy Boys “discovered” a rule that has been staring us in the face all along. All this time, we totally missed that Quebec is connected to the Atlantic and therefore a legitimate invasion target using water movement. Never one to miss a trick, the RMN Boys proceeded to invade Quebec and contest control of that province. In Round 4, I went from a close 5-4 deficit to a 7-2 loss.

There still is Sunday and the holiday Monday to play games this weekend. Sometimes “in with the new” means “out with the old” but as I realized this weekend new and old can mix well. A good winter of gaming is ahead.

Marco on @academygames #Wargames & #Boardgames- A Gen Con Video Journey

MARCOWARGAMER on Youtube was fortunate enough to attend Gen Con 2019. Along the way he visited the Academy Games booth and uploaded several preview videos of games I have on preorder. Now I can’t wait!

First is Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! Kursk, 1943 3rd Edition. According to Academy Games this could ship by end of August.

“After waiting four years…”

The second game is one I have on Kickstarter. Agents of Mayhem Pride of Babylon. Although it doesn’t look like a wargame, I hear it is based on a Battle of Fallujah game that Academy did for the USMC. Out in about a month?

3D street fighting….

The last game is the newest one and another Kickstarter I supported. One Small Step is all about the Space Race. Although worker placement games is not my usual thing, the fact that this is from Academy Games give me enough hope I pledged my support. The Kickstarter has already funded and closes 06 August!

Worker placement plus engine building…oh my!

Really looking forward to these titles and many more hours of gaming fun!


Feature image courtesy Academy Games.

#Wargame Wednesday: First Play at First Bull Run in The American Civil War: A Hold the Line Game (@worth2004, 2018) #firstimpressions #boardgame

THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR: A HOLD THE LINE GAME (Worthington Publishing, 2018) or alternatively Hold the Line: The American Civil War is my first Hold the Line series game. I have missed out on nearly 15 years of this series that started with Clash for a Continent: Battles of the American Revolution and French & Indian War (2005) then to Hold the Line (2008) and Hold the Line: The American Revolution (2016). I have to admit I was a bit confused when I first saw this game as it looks very similar to a Richard Borg Commands & Colors series game. Well, Hold the Line is similar in many ways to Commands & Colors but C&C it ain’t. Much has been written on BoardGameGeek comparing the two systems and I am not about to step into the middle of that (unwinnable) fight. Suffice it to say The American Civil War is an excellent introductory wargame that sticks to proven classic wargame mechanics to deliver a historical-enough and very enjoyable play experience with little rules overhead.

Components

TLDR version – beautiful. The blocks and stickers in The American Civil War are all nearly flawless in shape and paint coverage. The stickers are strong but easy to apply. If I have a complaint it is that the colors are a bit muted; play this game under good lighting to see unit differences. The board actually lays flat when unfolded. At first I thought the dice may be too big but I found that, although a bit larger than I usually play with, they are light enough to roll directly on the board and not feel like they are destroying it.

Stickering units – it’s good therapy

The Rules

Dirt simple. The eight-page Rule Book does a good job of communicating the game mechanics in a direct yet easy-to-read manner. At least it did for this old Grognard. I can see inexperienced players picking this game up as their first wargame finding some ambiguity in the rules.

One of those ambiguous areas is the Flag Unit. One unit in each formation is the Flag Unit which tells you the morale level of that formation. The rules are silent as to which direction the Flag Unit should face. I automatically assumed it was towards the owner but the rules are silent. It makes sense to me; I can see the morale level of MY unit but my opponent will only be able to tell if they engage in Close Combat and force a morale roll.

Each Game Turn in The American Civil War is very simple. The first player rolls a d6 to determine how many extra Action Points they have for the turn. The die roll is added to the scenario AP staring total. Yes, that can create some very swingy situations where one gets six extra AP one turn and only 1 AP the next. Call it the fortunes of war! Each AP can be used to Move or Fire with Close Combat costing 2 AP. Every unit gets one action in a turn (so no moving AND firing).

As much as I wanted to avoid comparing Hold the Line with Commands & Colors the comparison is inevitable. First is the AP. Where C&C uses Command Cards to move or fight, in The American Civil War it’s the classic wargame AP that enables the commander. This makes the game more solo-friendly; no Command Cards to worry about just execute your AP. Hold the Line is also more abstract than Commands & Colors. In The American Civil War you only have three morale gradations of each unit type – Green, Black, and Gold (or inexperienced, veteran-standard, and elite).

Combat itself is simple dice-chucking. Roll your dice and see if you get a hit. The closer to a target unit the better. Dead simple. Retreat can only happen in Close Combat (adjacent hexes). When combined with the abstractions of only four types of units (Infantry, Artillery, Cavalry, and Leaders) and three morale levels there is little to define the differences in units. Maybe it’s enough for an introductory wargame.

First Game – First Bull Run

First Bull Run as seen by Confederate player at set up. Bull Run ford to the right, the Stone House and Henry Hill in the middle.

In this scenario, the first player to 6 VP wins. If no player has won by the end of Turn 18 then the Confederates win. In my game the Confederates got their sixth VP at the end of Turn 7; one turn before their reinforcements arrived. Apparently the dice were rolling hot for the Confederates as they destroyed three of four Union units at the ford (along with a Leader) for 4 VP. Not helping was an infantry unit on Buck Hill (north of the Stone House) that eliminated a Union artillery battery and infantry formation. Indeed, the Confederates never lost this hill.

End game – Confederates destroy Union units (and leader) crossing the ford and hold the line at Buck Hill

Final Thoughts

The American Civil War will not replace a Commands & Colors game in my collection. They are two similar, yet importantly different, games. I see myself playing The American Civil War for a quick, fun battle or to introduce a new player to the world of wargames. I might also hand this one off to the RockyMountainNavy Boys who can use this game as during the summer as an afternoon filler.

April #Wargame #Boardgame Drought?

What do they say? “April showers bring spring May flowers?” Well, my gaming April was a drought.

IMG_0237April was also a very busy month outside of gaming. For the first time in a few years we took a family Spring Break vacation. Sorry friends, spending a week at DisneyWorld, even when not playing games, is quite the mental health break the family needed.

Not that the month was a total loss. I got three very exciting plays of Harold Buchanan’s excellent Campaigns of 1777 (Decision Games/Strategy & Tactics 316). After playing the full campaign first I went back and played the shorter scenarios. I strongly recommend that one play the shorter scenarios first and then jump into the campaign; the locations and strategy decisions come easier and make more sense leading to a deeper game experience.

I was also very pleasantly surprised by WW2 Deluxe: The European Theater (Canvas Temple Publishing, 2018). What looks to be a too-simple game is actually a very neat classical hex & counter wargame with enough fresh innovation to keep it from appearing stale. WW2 Deluxe exceeded my expectations!

The RockyMountainNavy Boys continue their fascination with Quarriors! (WizKids, 2012). This month they dug into their own pockets and bought two expansions for the game.

I have been a bad Kickstarter boy this month. First it was Terraforming Mars: Turmoil that ended a very abbreviated campaign with over $13 MILLION(!!) raised with over 26,000 backers. Here’s hoping the game delivers on the hype. I also caved and pledged for the Traveller 5.10 roleplaying game campaign. Hey Marc! Don’t fail me, please!

After two years of waiting (at least for me) it appears that the new edition of Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel! – Kursk 1943 (Academy Games) is getting real close (finally).  According to a May 01 production update:

Production for ‘Conflict of Heroes – Storms of Steel 3rd Ed’ and ‘Conflict of Heroes – Awakening the Bear 3rd Ed’ is nearing completion! The Map Boards printed by Ludofact in Germany have arrived on the coast in Norfolk, VA and are working their way through customs. Once cleared, they will be shipped on to Ludofact USA to await the arrival of the rest of ‘Conflict of Heroes’ components being produced in China for final assembly.

The Chinese printer has completed production on the three (3!) individual Game Trayz that will be included in each game, dice, and cards. We just received final proofs for the unit counters, rule books, track sheets, etc. and have given approval for final production. We are implementing final tweaks to the SoS3 Mission book.

Our printer knows how important it is that we receive these games for early June release, so they are working diligently to get everything shipped soon. We are estimating they will be finished printing within the next two weeks for shipment to Ludofact USA for final assembly with the map boards. We are currently estimating we will receive the games for fulfillment by mid-June.

We had a lot of fun showing off the new maps and game system at Little Wars last weekend. Thanks for all of your great comments and those of you who kept coming back to play even more of the 3rd Ed Missions!

We want to thank everyone for their support, great suggestions, and feedback on the 3rd Ed Conflict of Heroes system.

If all goes well, it looks like May/June/July could be a busy month for the postman it’s possible to see delivery of not only Storms of Steel but (maybe) Agents of Mayhem (Academy Games), Hold the Line: The American Civil War (Worthington), Tranquility Base/Soviet Moon (History in Action Games), Castle Itter (with Pavlov’s House) (DVG), Nights of Fire: Battle for Budapest (Might Boards), and Memoir ’44: New Flight Plan (Days of Wonder). Hopefully it makes my summer gaming interesting!