Monday #Memoir44 – First impressions of New Flight Plan Expansion (@days_of_wonder, 2019) #wargame #boardgame

Boardgame publisher Days of Wonder released this month a new expansion for their lite wargame Memoir ’44. The New Flight Plan Expansion brings aircraft into the mix for Memoir ’44. The original Air Pack Expansion (now long out of print) actually won the Dice Tower Awards in 2007 for Best Game Expansion. I never owned or played it so New Flight Plan is our first foray into air warfare for the Memoir ’44 series of games. My initial reaction to New Flight Plan is that of cognitive dissonance; I like the introduction of aircraft into Memoir ’44 but find some of the abstractions very jarring.

The first abstraction that jarred me is the model colors – or lack thereof. Although I looked at the ad copy several times, when I first opened the box I was confused by all the aircraft being the same molded color. I had not seen this in a DoW game since Battlelore 1st Edition. Granted, production cost is probably driving DoW to this decision; nonetheless it was jarring seeing all the aircraft in the same, neutral, off white. The model details are acceptable but even the aircraft recognition nerd in me has some issues immediately recognizing which plane is which on the battlefield. The aircraft stands have a place for a Nation Marker but honestly, the lack of color variation was unexpected and diminishes the play experience.

The second abstraction that jarred me was the choice of aircraft. In New Flight Plan, each nation gets a bomber, a fighter-bomber, and a fighter. For example, the Americans get a B-17 bomber, a P-47 fighter-bomber, and two fighters (P-51 for European Theater and F4U Corsair for the Pacific Theater). When I saw the selection of aircraft, I asked myself, “what about the other aircraft” quickly followed by a rueful comment about a new DoW money-grab with different models. However, after reading the rules I discovered that the actual models are purely representational; all bombers have the same qualities, just like all fighter-bombers or all fighters. At first, this coarse level of abstraction jarred me until I got my head wrapped around the concept of gaming for effect. Thus, the choice of air unit models is not indicative of the capability of that particular aircraft, but a very broad-brush abstraction of that class of aircraft.

That’s not a B-17 or IL-2 or Bf-109 but just an American bomber, a Soviet fighter-bomber, and a German fighter

The next jarring abstraction that hit me was in the rules. Specifically, air units blocking line of sight and other interactions with ground units. Amongst the rules that I found challenging:

  • “…an air unit occupies the hex it is on and will therefore block line of sight.”
  • “An air unit may move through a hex with an enemy or friendly ground unit. It cannot end its move on the same hex as another unit though.”
  • “An air unit may not move through a hex with an enemy air unit.”
  • “A ground unit may move through a hex with a friendly air unit. However, it may not move through a hex with an enemy air unit (this is called ground interdiction).

Although it makes no sense to me that an aircraft blocks line of sight, I have to remind myself that the effect of the air unit can be practically translated as blocked line of sight even when the strict reality is otherwise. As far as the other rules, I have to constantly remind myself that Memoir ’44 has a very loose definition of scale, both in distance and time. Like the abstraction of models, I have to remind myself that it is more important to game the effect of air units, not to strictly simulate them.

It will probably not be until later this month that the RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself get New Flight Plan to the gaming table. When we do I believe I will enjoy it, but I will also have to prepare the Boys (like myself) to set aside preconceptions. Yes, that model is a P-47. Yes, that plane could, and could not do, some things better than others. But the model does not represent a P-47, it signifies the (broadly defined) capabilities of a fighter-bomber are available to the player. Abstractions are not automatically negative; but some need to be understood to avoid overthinking a game.

New Air Plan Expansion for Memoir ’44

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!

 

March 2019 #Wargame #Boardgame #Kickstarter & Pre-Order Update – or – The Root problem of Defiantly losing control to Memoir-able games!

Coming out of the holidays in 2018, Mrs. RockyMountainNavy asked that I try to “control” my spending budget for boardgames and wargames in a bit of a more reasonable manner. She asks not because she dislikes my gaming hobby (on the contrary, she heartily endorses it) but because I was a bit too frivolous with my spending. I promised to do better.

To that end I have tried to control my “acquisitions” so far this year. One change in strategy I adopted is to go ahead and look at Print-n-Play modules a bit more. I also took a hard look at my GMT Games P500 and other pre-orders to try and “trim the fat.” I also committed to looking alot harder at what Kickstarter campaigns I would pledge to support. As tempting as they were, I passed on several new P500 and Kickstarter campaigns. I was doing pretty well until this month. Since the last days of February and into March, I have fallen off the wagon a bit and pre-ordered or pledged for three games.

 

I backed a new Kickstarter campaign in March. This one is really a no-brainer for me as it expands my 2018 Game of the Year. Leder Games Kickstarted Root: The Underworld Expansion. As I write this post the campaign already has over 10,000 backers and nearly $850,000 pledged – with over 2 weeks remaining.

I really am looking forward to this expansion with two new factions and two new maps. I realize that my $50 pledge will grow by at least $20 more for add-ons. Of that money, paying $5 for corrected Faction Boards is an easy choice. Paying $15 for the Better Bot Project may seem pricy, but given that it includes Bot Boards for all the factions it will make the game not only more solo friendly but able to play larger faction counts with fewer players. But given my love of the game it is so worth it.

poland-defiant-coverI also pre-ordered Poland Defiant from Revolution Games. Having picked up Counter-Attack 1940: The Battle of Arras (Take Aim Designs/Revolution Games, 2019) and Panzer Expansion #4: France 1940 (GMT Games, 2019) earlier this year I am on something of an early-years World War II kick. The period is coming to fascinate me as the various nations tried to figure out what the new age of warfare would look like. I really enjoy playing Counter-Attack 1940: The Battle of Arras and positively enjoy seeing Youngest RMN Boy discover more history through Panzer Expansion #4. I also look forward to the chit-pull mechanic as I have come to appreciate the power of that mechanic and its useful application for solo gaming.

pic4610324Another game I pre-ordered is Memoir ’44: New Flight Plan (Days of Wonder, coming May 2019?). I expect this new module to get heavy use as the RockyMountainNavy Boys often play Memoir ’44 without me. That said, these days I enjoy the simplicity of Richard Borg’s Commands & Colors-series and its various implementations in Memoir ’44 or Battlelore. Don’t get me wrong; simplicity is not lesser enjoyment. Games like Commands & Colors: Tricorne – The American Revolution (Compass Games, 2018) are awesome for teaching and learning more about the time period.

What about you? What games are you (im)patiently waiting for?


Feature image Leder Games