Friday, 22 September 2017

The end of Boardgame Summer

So this summer has seen a steady range of games played out, mainly by my son and I while he's been home from uni, but also roping in my wife (usually reluctantly) and a few games at Eric the Shed's or my friend Andrew's.

Games played over the summer have included...Twilight Struggle, Conan, Star Wars: Rebellion, Command & Colours Ancients, Kingmaker, Settlers of Catan, Advanced Squad Leader, Heroes of Normandie and Discworld: Ankh-Morpork.

As the summer holidays draw to a close we've managed to squeeze in a couple more games.  At home we played a couple of games of Carcassone.  this is one of the games that my wife does enjoy more than the more 'wargamey' games we've played (although she usually does pretty well at both).  I don't need to say much about Carcassone...I'm guessing just about everyone has played it at some point buy it 's a fun game and it's easy to squeeze in a couple of games in an evening without much difficulty.

At Eric the Shed's we played my 2nd game of Massive Darkness. 

This a dungeon crawling style game which reminded me of a cross between D&D, Munchkin (without the jokes) and Heroquest.  Eric had bought this as part of a Kickstarter and it came with a massive amount of really lovely figures...some of the large scale monsters are truly lovely and it's amazing to reflect on just how far figure sculpting has changed in the digital age.  In the game all players are on the same side, exploring a dungeon which becomes progressively tougher as you advance through it.  Luckily each players character, which conforms to a typical D&D type character class, can level up to (hopefully) match the monsters that appear far too rapidly.  The game is great fun and really builds up the tension as everyone tries to complete the quest before they get overwhelmed by a succession of orcs, goblins and huge Wandering Monsters.  As with so many of the newer boardgames that are appearing, the quality of the components is really impressive too.

There are a couple of games we didn't get to try out over the summer.  Out of the depths of the loft emerged an old Avalon Hill game from the 80s...Gunslinger. 

I haven't played this in about 30 years but I was keen to give it a try out as I have very happy memories of blazing away with my 6 gun (or dying in the dirt at the hands of the Apache etc).  It uses a nice card based system to control actions and is simple but fun...or at least that's how I remember it!  Revisiting the past can be a dangerous game so this may be a mistake but I'm keen to give it another go.  Looking at the boards and the hex-sizes,  I'm wondering if it might be worth getting some 1/72 cowboys to replace the counters to give it a more visual appeal, or even going all out and porting the boardgame over to a tabletop version...shouldn't be too difficult.

At the weekend I was up in Glasgow visiting my parents for a few days and took the chance to pop into Static Games in the city centre.  It's a nice little games shop although I usually have a browse and then leave empty handed, having resisted temptation.  On this occasion I spotted a copy of Wilderness Empires by Worthington Games reduced heavily to a very good bargain price. 

I debated buying it in my head for a while and then decided that I didn't actually need the game and went home.  Of course I'd no sooner got home than I realised that needing and wanting are 2 very different things.  Luckily I had to pop back into town a day or so later so I ended up buying it after all!  It was pretty inevitable!

The game is a strategic 'grand campaign' covering the French and Indian War.  Reviews on Boardgamegeek etc look pretty good so watch this space and I'll try and get a proper review up soon.

Now that the summer is drawing to a close, the nights are drawing in, etc, etc, it's time to try and get back to painting....

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

The Perry Travel Battle game

As a change from the summer's diet of boardgames  I tried the Perry's Travel Battle game.  This was launched at Salute back in April when every other person seemed to have bought a set but I'd never actually seen it out of the box.

My friend Anthony had picked up a set and thought the system was rather good so we gave it a go last week.  Anthony, being Anthony, hadn't settled for a straight game out of the box but had replicated it in 6mm using a very nice mat from Deepcut Studios marked out in appropriately sized squares.

The original Travel Battle game comes with 2 hard plastic squares which are configured to form a battlefield complete with villages and woods.  The game also comes with 160 infantry, 24 cavalry and 4 guns all either generically Red or Blue.  Strangely the figures are 8mm which seems an odd size to pick. 

Image result for perry travel battle

The rules are nicely simple and use grid based movement.  An interesting touch is that units have to be linked to a square containing a Brigadier (this can be as part of a chain of units).  One effect of combat or shooting is to force units to retire back to the table edge at which point the Brigadier is forced to ride back and lead the unit back to the frontline, leaving the rest of his command waiting and not advancing.  I quit like grid based games...they can make the game seem rather chess-like but they make movement and range finding nice and simple.

Image result for perry travel battle

As I mentioned earlier, Anthony had replicated the boxed game on the tabletop using the original set  to determine table layout and then placing appropriate terrain on the mat.  We also used his very nice Baccus 6mm Napoleonic figures

As expected Anthony played British (he always does)... I had some lucky early dice throws which caused some casualties from my artillery fire and set the tone for the game.  The French right flank advanced slowly with the Guard proving reluctant to get to grips with the enemy but over on my left my cavalry charged straight into the British infantry.  There was quite a tussle on this flank but my cavalry were quickly supported by some rapidly advancing infantry and began to carve their way through the British flank and then centre, breaking both Brigades in turn.  To be fair this was mainly due to some lucky dice throwing rather than any cunning tactic.

The rules are nice and simple, reminiscent of the Neil Thomas rules (although I think there's more depth to the NT rules) and are ideal for a quick evening game or for the kind of quick game the Travel Battle set aims for.  I'm not sure it would tempt me to buy a set of the Travel Set but I can see the attraction if you want to take a game to a friends or play eg in the pub.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Boardgames #5...Ankh Morpork

This weeks boardgame is Discworld; Ankh Morpork.  We bought this for our son a couple of xmas' ago and it gets a rare outing.  Much to our amazement it sells for silly amounts on eBay these days as it's out of print (or at least people ask for silly amounts of money...I' not sure anyone pays it!!)

The game has up to 4 players taking the part of a character from the Pratchett books (I was Lord Vetinari).  Each player keeps their identity secret as they each have a different victory condition.  In this weeks game my objective was to have a presence in 10 different areas while my wife was attempting to take control of a number of areas.  My son was quietly encouraging the build up of 'trouble' markers across the city.  These are placed when 2 characters are placed in the same area and of course he won when the total reached 8.  He's much better at bluffing than I am as I hadn't worked out who he was until it was too late...remind me never to play poker with him!  To be fair I'd managed to get within a turn or so of winning but I suspect as soon as I reached my target I would have been taken out in a wife/son alliance {as usual...)

Part of the attraction of the game is the quality of the components.  Similar to games like Carcassone etc, the tokens are wooden and include player pieces as well as trolls and demons which can turn up to deny players use of an area.  If you're a fan of the Pratchett books (I'm old enough to remember buying The Colour of Magic when it first came out...) the cards and the board are a big attraction too, featuring a lovely map of Ankh Morpork divided into various regions and the cards featuring lots of characters from the books.

It's a neat little game with lots of flavour and allows a nice combination of bluffing and undermining your opponents (if you can work out what they're up to).