Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Player or Collector?....the sequel

Hmm. Maybe it's not as easy as I thought to shake off a well-embedded collector addiction.

Last Saturday morning saw me in the Post Office with my copy of Battle Cry, a wad of bubblewrap, and some scissors, packing the game into a newly purchased cardboard box (£2.79? You're joking!). Safely taped up, I took it to the counter to post off to my BoardGameGeek trade partner in the States who is sending me a brand-new Nexus Ops in return. "That will be £36.50 please," said the cashier, guiltily. "How much by surface?" I croaked, turning white. "That is by surface, sir. It's just over 2kg you see, which means you have to use ParcelForce. It's also too large to count as a small package."

Oh dear. A quick rejuvenating cappuchino to think things over, then back to the Post Office to buy some brown paper (99p) and rewrap the game, discarding the cardboard insert that fills half the gamebox with fresh air (98g, not insignificant). I proudly carried the completed parcel back to the counter. £9.30 this time, not so bad if I forget the cost of the unused cardboard box and the cappuchino. Not to mention the anxiety of worrying about my parcel getting squashed for the next few weeks until it arrives safely in the States. Hmm, I'm starting to wonder if trading on the Geek is really for me after all.

An hour later I was in Aldershot for a for a morale-raising visit to The Games Shop. They had End of the Triumvirates on the shelves (£29) which I duly picked up and turned over, tempted to make a purchase. But what's this? A fresh copy of Reef Encounter! Only £27, and much heavier than End of the Triumvirates too. Maybe I should buy this instead of Triumvirates? Or maybe I should skip Reef Encounter and buy Triumvirates? And then there was Beyond Valor (£59) lurking temptingly at the back of my mind and at the back of the shop. Indecisive and confused, I left without buying anything. OK I pre-ordered BattleLore but that hardly counts as a purchase, as no money changed hands (yet).

Oh yes, one other item I noticed before I left - a copy of Nexus Ops knocked down to £15. Roughly what I spent in the Post Office this morning......

Monday, October 30, 2006

Breakout Normandy (or not!)

I've been very busy lately, and so I was planning to have a quiet weekend on my own, enjoying my flat and the nearby countryside, and recharging my batteries.

By Saturday evening, being alone all weekend didn't seem such an attractive proposition, and I was also feeling seriously in need of some wargaming action. Something inside me snapped, and I called Dave....

By 2 o'clock on Sunday afternoon we were setting up Breakout Normandy in my living room. Dave was in high spirits - we used to play this a lot back in the nineties, and it was exciting to come back to it. The rules, however, were presenting quite an obstacle, and we got off to a slow start, constantly referencing the rule-book to make sure we had got the procedures more or less correct. The first turn of course is particularly complex as you have the D-day landings to work through with several special rules for the amphibious assault to worry about.

I was playing the Allies, and it went badly for me from the start. One naval bombardment and two air attacks on the coastal batteries around Omaha beach produced precisely nothing, and the inderdiction rolls knocked out about half of my units assaulting Omaha. And the assault rolls went really badly as well, and I forgot to use my Advantage for a mulligan. The end result - a pile of spent and disrupted units cowering on the shoreline at Omaha beach under intact German fortifications.

The other landings went a little better, but it took me 3 days to sort out the mess at Omaha, with a rescue mission from the Brits at Gold beach next-door valuable diverting resources from the fighting around Caen. So halfway through the game I was way behind any realistic timetable for getting the 10VP needed for victory, and I actually ended the game (at 11pm) with only 4VP (which was better than I had thought I would manage!)

One tactical highlight for me was clobbering a bunch of spent SS units in Bretteville with naval fire - in his haste to get them to the front Dave had forgotten how vulnerable a concentration of spent units can be to bombardment.

There is much to love about this game. Unlike many wargames, elimination of units is fairly unusual - the real struggle is against exhaustion and disruption. A D1 is a good result against a powerful unit - it means it won't be troubling you again until the day after tomorrow. And you are constantly struggling against the friction of bad assault results and enemy bombardments which can quickly leave you with an army which is largely unable to move or fight for the rest of the day or perhaps even longer. Even though my chances were largely ruined in the first turn through a combination of bad planning and bad luck, I enjoyed the rest of the game immensely - attempting to rescue the situation and get an effective offensive organised was fascinating and enjoyable, even though I had no real chance of winning. A classic wargame, and well worth dusting-off. Even if it does mean that I am not as rested this morning as I might have been.

Friday, October 27, 2006

I didn't make it to my local games group this week, but here's a report from Keith:

Had 4 players last night for Canal Mania (me, Les, Lance and Jon) ashamed to say the game still took 3.15 hrs altho' Jon had to learn the rules and Lance was telling us about Essen. And like our last encounter of Tempus when Lance pipped you by a point, I was miles out in front and was pipped by Lance by 1 point. (He's competed most contracts and I was 2nd=, reduced to 3rd on the value of the contracts). Another Dick Dastardly/ Devon Loch finish.....

Name of the games club? It has to be the Buena Vista Social Games Club.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Samurai again anyone?

Samurai went a bit better this time. I thought I was winning, but Jason snatched it away from me at the last minute. Another game anyone? "Princess Mononoke", password "nimrods".

Friday, October 20, 2006

Collect or Play?

What are you, a collector or a player?

A lot of my boardgaming activity this year has centred around wishlists, eBay, BGG trade manager,P500, game shops, maths trades, preorders, release schedules, and trips to Oxfam. Hobby activities have been buying, selling, trading, reorganising, reshelving, cataloguing and rating my games collection.

What's missing from this list?

Ah yes - actually playing the games. Not enough of that.

So this autumn i am making a concerted effort to stop collecting and start playing games.

To that end I am dipping my toe into Play-By-Email - so far on my second game of Samurai and having great fun!

I am inviting people to my home for game sessions.

I am seeking out opponents for 2-player wargames.

I am booked into Midcon in November for a long weekend of solid gamimg.

I will be playing on Vassal and BrettSpielWelt when I can.

I may have a go at email Diplomacy, for old times' sake.

I may even seek out a local ASL cell and see if I can get some coaching.

All in all, this could transform my hobby......

Creative Commons

I'm not sure how they are doing it, but people are stealing my great blogging ideas before I get around to posting them. Last week I was turning over ideas for a posting about BattleLore and how the information about how magic will work on the battlefield had been a bit of a turn-off for me, only to find that Mary had posted the same ideas (only better) before I even wrote mine down. Then a few days later I was planning to write an ironic piece on "Why I Hate Boardgaming", only to find that Yehuda had just posted a characteristically thorough treatment of the same idea.

Not sure what's going on here, or how these people are tapping into my creativity - but please stop it immediately!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Well that was all over very quickly! Mainly due to my incompetent play, our nimrods-readers-exclusive game of Samurai finished early with 4 ties. Anyone for another go? This time it's called "Nausicaa", password "nimrods".

Friday, October 13, 2006

More gaming last night with the Farnborough group. (Actually, since Keith moved only Trevor actually lives in Farnborough now, so maybe we should call it something else....). Les had asked me to introduce Tempus so, having got home from work a mere 15 minutes beforehand, and pausing only to grap Tempus, a beer and a bag of savoury snacks, I arrived at Les's flat barely on time and hastily set up the game. It proved fairly easy to teach - the game is straightforward and simple - but there was a foul-up at the end of turn one when Trevor attcked Les even though he only had three hexes. We had to rewind a few actions unfortunately which left Trevor with a rather boxed-in situation.

I have to admit I thought I was cruising to an easy victory, but I had underestimated Lance who beat me by one point to win with 23. I think I became fixated by that little aircraft at the end of the epoch track, and neglected to spread out into as many spaces as possible - not that many were available without a fight.

Biggest disappointment was the time - well over 3 hours for what is supposed to be a sub-2hr game. This group is remarkably slow, even compared to my Salisbury group (and I thought they were slow). I feel that they sometimes treat a gaming evening as a relaxing social time instead of what it obviously should be - a relentless, nose-to-the-table, time-trialled, blood-soaked boardgaming machine.

I like Tempus. I like the way it keeps everyone moving around the board in search of the latest fashion in tribal terrain - no chance of positions stagnating. I like the variable map. I like the simplicity and accessibility. I don't like the graphic design - it is almost impossible to distinguish black from purple pieces under electric light. And the murky terrain colurs are also puzzling sometimes. As are the city tiles. I will certainly be taking a paint brush to the purple wooden pieces in the near future, or replacing them with scavenged bits from another game....

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Festival of War 2006

Don't be too disturbed - it was not really a celebration of war, just a gathering of my old gaming friends from Salisbury to play a few games - especially two-player wargames - and spend some time eating and drinking together. Dave and Steve were first to arrive on Friday morning, closely followed by John, but Nick didn't turn up until 6 and insisted on a few pints in the Railway Exchange when he did arrive. It was ideal gaming weather on Friday - pouring with rain - so we had no qualms about staying indoors hunched over the tables. The weather did improve as the weekend went on but failed to lure us outside, except for a quick trip to the local game shop on Saturday afternoon, where we spent so much between us that we managed to negotiate a rare discount!

A quick run-down of what was played:


2 games of C&C Ancients, both times the Bagradas scenario. John's Romans beat me in a close struggle. Steve and Dave's game was abandoned due to player incompetence.

Dave's USA lost to Steve in the 3rd turn of Twilight Struggle.

I started a game of Twilight Struggle with John.

After dinner John beat us all at Through the Desert. In case you're wondering, this "John won" theme continued throughout the weekend. Sometimes I'm tempted to just not invite him....


My USA lost to John's Glasnost card on turn 8 of Twilight Struggle.

Meanwhile Nick gained an unprecedented Euphrat & Tigris victory over Dave and Steve.

After the game shop binge, we played a much anticipated game of Struggle of Empires. I really enjoyed this, even though my Netherlands was condemned by Nick's aggressive bidding to alliance with Steve for most of the game - being the 2-player alliance in a 5-player game we usually got the worst of it. John won (again!) Unfortunately there were some post-match recriminations as I prepared dinner - Dave felt that Nick had reneged on an agreement. My feeling was, more fool Dave for trusting Nick in the first place! I was a bit surprised by all this - one of the charms of Struggle of Empires for me is that the alliance auction removes the scope for a lot of the negotiation and unpleasantness that you often get in multi-player empire-building games. But I suppose there is still room for a bit of deal-making and breaking if you really want it.

Pacified by dinner we sat down to a Wings of War dogfight - no room for negotiations here! I managed to fly off the table again, but the others were kind and let me off. In the end I was shot down by John's Nieuport.

It was getting late so I pulled out Um Krone und Kragen as a light filler. Surprisingly Nick and Steve found it anything but light - in fact Steve dropped out altogether pleading his brain was fried. I won this one (not John!)


Sunday morning saw folks leaving for journeys home, but Dave and I had one last game of C&C Ancients, the Trebbia scenario. Dave (with Steve's help) took Carthage. The Mago ambush never materialized, but it was a knife-edge struggle. Dave's phalanx did great things, as did the elephant "Stompy", but Stompy died in the end, and I just scraped a 7-6 victory. What a great way to end our festival. Wargaming doesn't get much better than this!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Let's see if anyone still reads this rag....

Does anyone fancy a play-by-email game of the Reiner Knizia classic Samurai? Go over to MaBiWeb and sign up for a game named "Spirited Away" with password "nimrods". See you there!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Death of Blogging

Well, I still am enjoying my time off work - I have been doing some more paraglidng this week. Yesterday was an especially....


Er, yes, OK. It's just that yesterday was a particularly good day at Butser Hill, and I....


Well, not much to be honest. I started soloing an ASLSK scenario.


S2 "War of the Rats".


I didn't finish. I cleared it down again, so that I could set up Twilight Struggle.


I'm trying to learn the rules of Twilight Struggle ready to play it with Dave this weekend.


Well I've been doing some clearing out of my games collection. I took a few down to Oxfam (Star Wars Monopoly, a Compendium, something else I have forgotten already) and I have been doing some trading on BoardGameGeek - I swapped Medieval for Tyros and sold Triumph and Glory. I also want to trade away the D&D Boardgame and the 1995 Acquire, but no takers so far. Plus I have an auction currently running on eBay for Grand Illusion.


Oh, I was forgetting, I met up with Les in the pub on Monday.




Aton - I enjoyed that. It felt like a big game in a small box. I suppose it's an area control game of sorts, with a few clever variations on the theme. I won (just). Then we played BattleLine....


....where Les scraped a victory after a hard struggle. Finally we played Um Krone Und Kragen. I ran away with that one, and I'm not sure if Les enjoyed it much - he was struggling to read the icons on the cards.


Well, not really. But there will be more - lot's more - this weekend. After the success of last year, I am holding the Festival of War again at my home, from Friday through to Saturday. Nick, Dave, John and possibly Phil and Steve are expected to come.


Well, let's say I'm heading in that direction. But it's just a gaming weekend really, with an emphasis on 2-player wargaming. That's the idea anyway - last year it was mostly drunken Beowulf.


OK, will do. But, er.... who are you anyway? You remind me of a character from a Terry Pratchett book.... what was he called now?....