#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

#Wargame #Boardgame #SocialDistancing in the time of #COVID-19

AS OF THIS MORNING (15 MARCH), my local county health department is reporting 10 ‘presumptive positive’ cases of COVID-19. The school district has already shut down thru 10 April and many events are cancelled to encourage ‘social distancing.’

In the RockyMountainNavy household, we have dealt with COVID-19 since Mrs. RMN returned from Korea right as the epidemic was breaking out there. She laid low for 14 days not because of self-isolation but because others avoided her (the worst ‘racists’ are often from one’s own race). Now there is panic in the wider community (why are people hoarding toilet paper?) and much is being cancelled. One aspect of social distancing we are practicing is to distance ourselves from social media. Frankly, its all doom and gloom with lots of disinformation. In a practical response this means that wargames and boardgames are hitting the gaming table more often.

For myself, I have played solitaire sessions of Steamroller: Tannenburg 1914 from Yaah! Magazine #10 (Flying Pig Games, 2017) and Less Than 60 Miles (Thin Red Line Games, 2019). I am able to get bigger and longer games to the table because I literally set up a table in the loft that allows me to put a game down and keep it there for a while.

From the family perspective we are using several different approaches to gaming. For our usual ‘longer’ weekend plays we are going back to finish our Scythe: The Rise of Fenris campaign (Stonemaier Games, 2018) while mixing in shorter family games at other times like Tiny Epic Galaxies (Gamelyn Games, 2015). I also am throwing in some 1v1 wargames like Hold the Line: The American Civil War (Worthington Publishing, 2019) to play against the one of the boys when they get tired of one another. In this time of crisis, we are also occasionally taking care of young children of family friends who are struggling with daycare and work. In those cases we pull out the family games for like Kingdomino (Blue Orange Games, 2016) or even Ticket to Ride (Days of Wonder, 2004). The list of games goes on and on as we (now fortunately) have a large gaming collection.

The RockyMountainNavy Boys and myself also have a ‘healthy’ collection of plastic models that need to be built. Today we will venture to the FLGS/Hobby store (Huzzah Hobbies) to lay in some supplies.

We have even talked about reviving our Traveller RPG campaign (using Cepheus Engine rules) or our long set-aside Star Wars sessions using the Fantasy Flight Games Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Roleplaying Game rules.

With boardgames, wargames, RPGs, and models we are pretty set to hunker down for the next several weeks. Let’s hope that everybody stays safe and we get thru this crisis as best we can.


Feature image: Playing Nexus Ops (Avalon Hill, 2005)

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.

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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.

 

RockyMountainNavy 2019 Most played #wargame & #boardgames

IMG_D6BDC9FE37F4-12019 was a pretty good year for gaming in the RockyMountainNavy household. This year, I played 119 games a total of 221 times. Compared to 2018, this was fewer plays (221 vs 357) but more actual games (119 vs 105). This year I only had two ‘Dimes’ (played 10 or more times) and three ‘Nickels’ (played 5-9 times).

Dimes & Nickels

  1. Quarriors! (WizKids, 2011) – 21 Plays
  2. Hold the Line: The American Civil War (Worthington Publishing, 2019) – 10 Plays
  3. The Mind (Pandasaurus Games, 2018) – 7 Plays
  4. Scythe (Stonemaier Games, 2016) – 6 Plays (including the first three episodes of the Rise of Fenris Campaign).
  5. Tank Duel: Enemy in the Crosshairs (GMT Games, 2019) – 5 Plays

Eight (8) other games sat at four plays during the year and another seven (7) were played three times. Basically these top 20 most -played games account for around half of the game plays during the year.

What comes in 2020?

In an upcoming blog post I’m going to dig deeper into the numbers for 2019 but suffice it to say for now that it was a good year.

How was your year? What games are you looking forward to playing next year? For myself, I have a few new Gaming Challenges I am going to reveal just after the new year.

 

@Mountain_Navy 2019 half-year #wargame #boardgame stats check-in

Almost a month late, but here are my wargame/boardgame stats for Jan 01 thru June 30, 2019. Compiled thanks to BoardGameGeek and BGGStats.

So, does this make me a better gamer than you? NO! I am just gaming in my own way and enjoying it. I’m not looking to compare myself to others but rather share with all of you the joy gaming has brought to myself and my family. It’s not important if you play one game a month or 100; the important part is to enjoy the hobby!

#Boardgame Campaign Check in – Scythe: The Rise of Fenris Expansion (@stonemaiergames, 2018) Episode 3

***WARNING – I am trying to write this entry as spoiler-free as possible but if you are playing, or plan on playing, Scythe: The Rise of Fenris Expansion then you may want to skip reading below.***

THE SATURDAY ROCKYMOUNTAINNAVY GAME NIGHT this week was (once again) a continuation of our Scythe: Rise of Fenris Expansion (Stonemaier Games, 2018) campaign. We are on Episode 3. RockyMountainNavy Jr. got the win and I learned a valuable lesson about Alliances.

I was playing Saxony/Militant which is strong on military power but short of cash. I was on the verge of getting my game engine going but was just a few coins short. When RockyMountainNavy Jr., playing Nordic/Industrial, offered me an Alliance I took it as it pays a fair amount of coinage.

S. T. U. P. I. D.

Although I gained the Nordic Swimmer ability he gained the Saxony Multiple Objectives ability. The next turns were ugly as he completed multiple Objective Cards. We also reached a point in the game where I really should attack him. Instead of breaking the Alliance and losing money in the final scoring I hesitated. That was my fatal mistake.

The Outcome of Episode 3 is the opening of Box A. Suffice it to say we all were very excited and thrilled with the reveal. As I mentioned before, at first I was disappointed in the “open at the end” approach to some of the new material. I am happy to report we are not disappointed but rather are excited to get on with the campaign. So it’s on to Episode 4 as we continue to discover the meaning of “Rise of Fenris.”


#Boardgame Campaign Check in – Scythe: The Rise of Fenris Expansion (@stonemaiergames, 2018) Episode 2

***WARNING – I am trying to write this entry as spoiler-free as possible but if you are playing, or plan on playing, Scythe: The Rise of Fenris Expansion then you may want to skip reading below.***

THE SATURDAY ROCKYMOUNTAINNAVY GAME NIGHT this week was a continuation of our Scythe: Rise of Fenris Expansion (Stonemaier Games, 2018) campaign. We played Episode 2. There are actually two options for episode two, and we played 2B. The game difference is a new Triumph Track and an Alliance mechanic.

The Triumph Track was…interesting. I can see how it can be used to change the nature of the game. That said, although the track we played was designed not to reward a certain action, we probably came closer to a large-scale use of that action over any other game of Scythe we have played. I’m not complaining – It’s a feature, not a bug.

The Alliance rules were neat. We usually play 3-player so the RockyMountainNavy Boys ganged up on me. Being Nordic/Engineering and Crimea/Innovative they figured they were far enough apart that they both would have space and not get in each others way. For myself, as Saxony/Patriotic, I was initially hamstrung but quickly figured out they feared my military power. As a result, I was able to shape their actions and drive them into each other. Being limited by the Alliance, the RMN Boys bickered and stumbled about the board trying to not get in each others way. I was able to not only get my six stars out first, but also to secure the victory.

I fully believe that the key to victory in Scythe is to get your engine running as efficiently as possible as quickly as you can. In Episode 1, Youngest RN Boy ran away with the win because he got his engine going. This game I was able to get my engine cracking pretty quickly and played to my strengths. Middle RMN Boy, my Autism Spectrum angel, in Episode 1 never figured out how efficiently use his Bottom -Row Actions. This game he started out slowly but was able to make a better recovery. His engine was on the verge of going into overdrive. Good thing – for me – that I ended the game before I got blown away by him.

This was another quick game clocking in at less than 100 minutes from opening the boxes for set up to finishing clearing the table. This is just at the low end of the stated play time. The quick speed of play is making for lower scores; maybe too low as one needs Wealth for the campaign. On the positive side, the game is playing fast enough that the RMN Boys don’t feel the campaign is bogging us down.

The Outcome of Episode 2 introduces a major new rules module. At first I was a little disappointed that the end of the game is used reveal the new module. “This is stupid,” I thought. “I can’t play with the new module now…the game is finished!” Then I realized, “Duh, this is there to get me back for the next game.” I also read the introduction to Episode 3 and the Story Summary in the setup to the RMN Boys. Yeah, after that we definitely are going to play the next game – possibly as early as next week!


Feature image Stonemaier Games.

The costs of the #wargame #boardgame hobby

Looks like the hobby boardgame and wargame industry could be hit by tariffs on games and parts made in China. Dependably, hobby gamers on BoardGameGeek and Twitter are all abuzz.

“A 25% tariff is going to make games unaffordable!” Maybe. Roger Miller, President of Revolution Games points out:

Its a tariff on the production cost of games, not the list price. Production as a percentage of list price is usually between 12%-20%. So an increase in total price of 5% would cover the entire tariff.

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2204314/lot-games-are-going-get-more-expensive

A 5% increase in game prices is not great, but it’s not the end of the world either.

Other BGG users are lamenting the “inevitable” decrease in quality by not printing in China:

I have had several publishers tell me that they can’t get the quality as good printing in the US as they get printing in China. I don’t know whether that’s true of all types of games or just the games those designers publish. But it’s a mistake to assume the only reason to print in China is price. It’s possible that tariffs could lead to quality dropping as more games are printed in the US.

BGG User Eric Brocius

I think Uwe Eickert of @AcademyGames might have a different opinion:

“…and today we are going to talk about quality issues we are seeing from China.”

Fortunately, I have options. The US-based print-on-demand publishing model of Hollandspiele (@Hollandspiele) is looking mighty appealing right now. Games like Brave Little Belgium (in the header image) are quite likely going to bubble to the top of the purchase queue….

All this drama is going to have to play out. To me, the bottom line is that I will likely have to pay more for games. The question is, “how much?” I believe the increase “should” be less than 25% but I am not sure many companies in the very cottage-like boardgame industry are prepared. So I expect prices to go up by at least 25% and maybe more.

Yes, this means I will have to get pickier on what I buy. But…if companies want to keep chasing my wallet they need to be diligent about controlling their costs and only passing on to me what is fair and proper. To be clear – I am perfectly willing to pay a premium price for a good game; I am not willing to pay premium dollars to a company unable to control their cost AND quality. Just because you can’t control YOUR costs doesn’t mean I automatically accept you passing that problem to ME (close to what I used to hear in the military, “Your stupidity is NOT my emergency!”).

Hey, here’s and idea! Let’s play the games we already got! Maybe tariffs will slow down the spread of the Cult of the New or be the antidote to the viral Fear of Missing Out. For myself I am behind on my 2019 challenges to play all the Charles S. Roberts and Golden Geek and Origins Award winners I have in my collection. That’s over 50 games to play this year! Or maybe I go ahead and pull the trigger on Scythe: The Rise of Fenris and start a campaign. Or I get the latest FREE Cepheus Engine: Faster than Light rules and start that RPG campaign the RockyMountainNavy Boys have been hounding me about.

If anything, I probably need to invest in those expansions or published-but-unpurchased games NOW before people slow down buying “new” games and turn their dollars towards that segment of the market and drive prices up. That’s what I’m going to tell Mrs. RockyMountainNavy to explain the bills. It’s sure to work….


Feature image Brave Little Belgium from Hollandspiele. A “towering” figure in the hobby boardgame industry tried to besmirch this game; don’t “vasel-ate”, just buy it and enjoy a great game!

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.

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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!

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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.

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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