A Tidal Wave Of Green Plastic

Finally, our game table is seeing Warhammer 40k as we had intended since day one. The purchase of the Open War deck changed play as we hoped for the better. Typically someone divides the table in two, terrain is set up, and what follows is the classic fight until one side is destroyed. We were tired of this and set up using the scenarios in the rulebook border on the annoying.

With the Open War deck we pulled some cards and immediately began playing. First card determined deployment zones, in our case the table was split in half. Two cards for objectives, one for each of us. I drew victory through defeating his leaders and vehicles. Our boy drew victory thought capturing objectives. He did not tell me that both us could earn points towards victory with those objectives. Oh well. Finally each of us drew a Twist card. Mine allowed my units to move 2″ extra and 1″ extra when charging or advancing. Normally a great thing, extra mobility. He drew, all of his units gained 1 extra attack. Meaning his normally meat grinder of units became super meat grinders. Moving faster towards them not what I wanted to do.

Then we pulled out the models and set up. A solid wall of green miniatures. That was his army. A truck, a tank, a plane, and a dreadnaught breaking up the wall. Not much of a break up as the truck and tank were carrying more models. Ugh. Remember I did not know what his objective was and he did not know mine.

First turn, I moved into a defensive position occupying the center of the table. The extra move from the Twist card came in handy. Only odd move of mine, moving my dreadnaught and two commanders to take out his dreadnaught and big mek (ork scientist) with huge scary looking gun on my flank.

His plane flew over the battlefield. His truck and tank charged forward leaving every other ork in the dust. His wall of green…try to imagine 100 people trying to fit through one door…that is what happened. He set up his figures with little room for movement and then failed to move his forward units faster than the rear units. Funny and scary because they would become unstuck if I didn’t do something.

Second turn, I disembarked my five-man squads from the razorbacks, moved my assault squad over to his side of the board, and dropped a terminator squad onto the middle of the table. His truck died, his burna squad (orks with flamethrowers) died, and his stormboys died on my turn.

His turn saw…well it’s hard to describe, the entire wall of green shifted to the right for no reason I could discern. This left his dreadnaught and tank isolated without support. He did kill off my assault squad, kill a terminator, and have me scratching my head.

Third turn, his dreadnaught, tank, and most of the nobz inside died. His warboss went down under the combined firepower of my remaining terminators, and his screen of grots died. This left him with a huge number of orks, but nothing else.

He conceded to me at the start of his turn. He figured he would finish off my last five man squad and some of the terminators, but lose many of his orks in return leaving the rest to get mopped up by my two tanks, dreadnaught, and characters.

After the match we talked, he acknowledged his setup was bad which hampered his ability to get his whole army into the fight. What parts he did were devastating to my army. As for the shift to the right, he was attempting to cover an objective for the victory points.

Next up our girl and her pink army.

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Just Not In The Mood Or Is The Mood The Problem?

There are times when I know I should sit down and write. Writing is something I do everyday or at least try to do everyday. I have more on days than off by a long shot. Bouncing around my noggin is more Puddles and Whiskers. There is also a stray thought or two for another story involving them, a roleplaying campaign, and some other writing.

Typically with that much bouncing around I sit down in front of the computer and write. Not today. No idea why, just not in the mood to write. To allow the ideas FOR writing to bounce around and take shape for sure, but not write. It’s a weird place to be in.

I spent and am spending a lot of time painting and reading. With 9 figures to go, I am close, very close, to finishing my Death Watch army for Warhammer 40k. I know, I know you never really finish an army. Building an army is like writing, you constantly tinker with it until you are finally satisfied that there is nothing more you can do. After a few games, I will tinker away.

Speaking of that, finally taught family friend and the rest of the family how to play Warhammer 40k. Previous attempts to teach under the old rules went as expected, interest, but not too much interest because of the complexity of the game. The new rules, ten minutes into teaching and they were playing without much assistance from me. And better, actual interest in playing again.

I’d like to say that has me ocupied, but it does not. I think that is my main issue right now, there is a sense that something is going to happen, that Spring/Summer get out and do something vibe, except this is not a get out and do, but a something is up. Hard to explain other than to say I pay attention to these vibes. Paying attention to this one has me distracted.

Distracted enough that I bounce between one thing to another and back again. I am reading Fate Core, Ciaphus Cain Hero of the Imperium, two different Warhammer 40k indexes, a host of comic books, and few other books. Read a few pages or a chapter, paint part of a miniature, try to settle down, and repeat. Ugh. Frustrating to me.

Who knows this could blow away soon and back to my non-distracted self.

Games We Play: This Is The End, Pandemic Legacy

We had to know. We had to learn how the story ended. To do that we had to play. Two to four games is all. Two games if we won, four if we lost. How hard could it be? Four games hard. I pushed us to complete Pandemic Legacy. I HAD to know. I was not alone is needing to know.

MASSIVE SPOILERS: November began with the shocker that we failed. We did not find patient zero. We thought we would have November to find patient zero, thus we were not worried about it, then November begins with “You didn’t find the patient, but here is another team who did and you get their information.”  What does this mean? For the moment only good things.

All previous objectives are removed and the focus becomes placing vaccine stations, producing vaccine, and curing the Faded. Yes, curing the Faded. Then November fell off the rails.

Our team focused on curing the Faded which consisted of producing vaccine tokens, picking them up, and taking them to faded cities to cure the faded then vaccinate the city. A vaccinated city could not get more Faded figures, meaning in the process of achieving an objective we made our game easier. Unfortunately, due to setup Faded figures were clustered creating clusters of outbreaks that actually added new Faded cities for us to cure. The second half of November went better because the work we did get done in the first half paid off. By the end of the game we had five remaining Faded cities. This would pay off in December.

December the last month, two objectives find the hidden stash of virus and cure all of the Faded cities. With five remaining Faded cities we took care of that quickly leaving finding the hidden stash. To find the hidden stash, stay in Atlanta and turn in cards that match the pattern on the search track. Each time an epidemic occurred finding the stash became harder. Due to bad card draw we never got the right combination of cards and epidemics pushed the stash into not findable.

1:30 am we are determined to finish Pandemic Legacy. The board is setup one last time. We have one objective find the hidden stash. No cures. No quarantines. Just find the hidden stash and hope that we draw the right cards. Clustered in Atlanta we looked at our cards and saw hope. Six, maybe seven turns later, we turned in the last set of cards to find the hidden stash. Did we win?

That depends on how you view the end game scoring. Yes, we won December; we found the hidden stash of virus and blew it up preventing further infection. However…pulling out the last card there was a scoring system. Take all of your records of wins and losses, combined with the statuses of cities, and then calculate bonus points. That second team, while a bonus to game play was a huge penalty to points.

Our final score: 487 with some work humanity and society will rebound.

Our final score if we had found patient zero: 687 with a lot less work humanity and society move on.

Final thoughts: Get Pandemic Legacy. Does not matter which color, blue or red box are identical.

Pandemic Legacy

We are late to Pandemic Legacy, hell legacy games as a whole. Given that the first legacy game we saw was Risk, what was all the fuss was our thought. Pandemic…oh wait a sec, what is a legacy game you might be asking yourself. A legacy game is a game that “remembers” what happened the last time you played. A legacy game keeps track of whether you won or lost and win or lose something is different for the next game.

For example: win a game, the next game get X bonus whatever or lose a game, the next game start with fewer whatevers.

Pandemic the non-legacy version is a game that we played a lot. Eventually fading to the rear as we figured out how to win. Pandemic Legacy didn’t sound that different so why bother? We should have bothered.

Pandemic Legacy plays like Pandemic, as part of a research team you and the other players race around the globe attempting to cure four diseases before one or more of them wipe out humanity. The Legacy aspect doesn’t take effect until the early middle of the first game.

There are a lot of blank spaces on the board and in the rule book. You will fill in some of them with stickers. Stickers such as the changing status of a city, a new rule in the rule book, an up or downgrade to a character, or something else we haven’t seen yet. Each of these stickers alters how the game plays and how future games will play.

For example: while we lost our first game we did manage to eradicate the blue disease, this allowed us to modify how easy it was to cure the blue disease in future games.

So far in our games, we have played three-January twice (lost both times), February once (we won)-our board is festooned with stickers, our rule book has a sticker, and we have much to our initial shock torn up cards. Yes, torn up cards. Modification is something new to get used too.

I take very good care of our games. They are packed away carefully, parts counted, and I do my best to ensure the games last a long time. I do not tear up cards or put stickers on games. Or I didn’t. Pandemic Legacy demands you tear up a card rather early and I admit to seriously questioning the merit and value of doing so. We did and the game has been great ever since.

So you might be wondering, what is the replay value of a game that is modified during and after and sometime before each game. Replay value is high. Normally a game that kicked our collective butts as hard as Pandemic Legacy did the first two games would be in the “Maybe later pile,” however even after a loss we got stuff. More resources for the next game, new cards, new victory conditions. After our win, more stuff.

While the board is forever modified, there is the next game to look forward too. What I haven’t mentioned is that the victory conditions also change as you win and lose. The game is played out in months, each month one game, for our three games we knew we had to cure the diseases. Now we know there is an additional condition, but we won’t know what it is until we set up our next game. Talk about getting you to want to play.

One Pink Tank = Kick Ass!

The second game of Warhammer 40k went great. Our girl has wanted to play since we started playing with the older rules. She patiently waited for the new rules while painting her first tank and some Imperial Guardsmen. Our boy wanted to play a second game and I thought I would stay on the sidelines and teach. They didn’t have any of that, thus for our second game I joined our girl’s side because she had less units than our boy.

Less is a measurement made solely on the visual observation that she had 2 tanks and 15 guardsmen to his truk, dreadnaught, helicopter, and 30 orks. Less, for 40k, has a new measurement, which goes like this one pink tank = kick ass!

As I said above, our girl was learning the rules, which if you read yesterday’s post, you know I think are really easy to teach and learn. This game proved that. By the end of turn 2 she didn’t need reminders. The only help she needed from me was flipping through the index book for stats on her units and finding stats for the rocket launcher. My only nitpick to date, is that some weapons are not listed on data sheets, and are located in an appendix.

Back to the game, having learned from the last game, our boy clustered his orks together on one side of the table with the exception of his truk full of large orks. Our girl deployed her guard in a tall building with a clear line of sight. Her infantry transport parked near her main battle tank, all covering the center of the table. My five-man squad of assault marines covered the side of the table with the truk.

With little preamble, her infantry transport shot down his helicopter. His dreadnaught crushed her infantry transport, the troops inside bailed out, only to get slaughtered by a mob of orks. His truk died to my assault squad. The truk blew up, our boy rolled really well for the damage, killing all of his orks inside, except his warboss, and all of my marines.

I haven’t mentioned the tank in a main roll, because the tank didn’t kill any one thing. The tank was the frosting to her destruction cake. The tank got the killing shot on the squad of the grots, dreadnaught, and took the squad of orks down to 2 in one turn, and brought the warboss down to one health before the game ended. Our boy, once his dreadnaught and helicopter bit the dust could do little against the tank.

So what have we learned from our first two games with the new rules:

A unit can advance, which means they move farther, but cannot shot or charge. Not being able to charge does not mean that unit cannot engage in the fight phase. As long as the advancing unit is within 1″ of another unit fighting can happen.

Mortal wounds means no save. We gave everyone saves, they still died.

Morale failure can be brutal.

Re-rolls are very valuable.

Transports are good, but not great.

And finally, multiple ways to crack armor is a necessity, especially for orks. 🙂

I Captured Bob The Ork

Our first game of Shadow War Armageddon felt…odd. With the new rules around the corner, using a combination of new and old rules felt at times clunky. But there was more than that.

Ten orks vs 5-man Inquisition team. Our boy’s orks, armed to the teeth with melee weapons. My inquisition team armed to the teeth with ranged weapons. He likes to close and chop and I like to set up lanes of fire.

He set up a massive jungle covered factory complex for us to fight in. I would share pics, but for some unexplainable reason (I asked he had no reason), he set up his team directly across from mine, taking a 6 x 6 board and reducing it to 3 x 6. I suggested otherwise. I asked. And he smiled like he knew something I didn’t.

He did not.

Summing up the action, he walked for three turns. I ran for one and shot for two turns.  He had 3 orks down before he decided to run and then bottled out or ran away to preserve his team.

Not very actiony. In fact, most of our play time was spent consulting charts. Lots of charts. Charts to hit because with all of the modifiers to hit introduced both of us had to roll over 7 on a single six-sided die. Yes, roll a 7 or more on a die that stops at 6. How do you do this? First roll a six, then roll again looking for 4 or more. Problem: When you roll a 6 that figure has to make an ammunition check, fail the check and the weapon is useless for the rest of the game. So even if you hit, you had a chance of running out of ammunition. See what I mean by clunky?

So now that you hit someone, consult a chart to see if you can wound them. Eventually the chart will get memorized. Next roll to see if they save the wound. If they don’t roll to see what kind of wound. In 40k a wound is a wound. In Shadow War a wound can be hide, lay there and bleed, or out.

I know with more games under our belt this will become easier, but I couldn’t help feel and still feel that this could be streamlined to keep the action and reduce the amount of time rolling dice.

Post game is interesting. In the vein of a campaign, each player goes through some end game steps. Get your reward of cash, a skill, or some other stuff. Those wounded figures find out what happened to them by rolling on another chart that can lead to rolling on one last chart.

With all of the above everyone had fun. That is most important. Our boy lost to me, but only because he didn’t charge the whole way across the board and he knew it. He also had Bob the Ork (his name) captured by my team so he has a reason to get back at me. Meanwhile onlookers were interested enough that an Imperial Guard team was created afterwards.

Games We Play: Forbidden Stars

Forbidden Stars by Fantasy Flight Games, no longer sold by Fantasy Flight Games due to some licensing thing, is a really fun game to play.  Set in the Warhammer 40k universe, Forbidden Stars is a strategy game . There are four factions, Space Marines, Chaos Space Marines, Orks, and Eldar to choose from. The board is modular and scales in size based on the number of players.

Getting this out of the way, if you have played or looked at any Fantasy Flight Games game you know that the components are top notch, no deviation from that here. Everything from the board tiles, cards, and game pieces look great, durable, and make games more fun to play.

Getting this also out of the way, if you have played just about any Fantasy Flight Games board game they have given you two rulebooks. I find this BEYOND annoying. Put all of the information in ONE book! I cannot stand having a rule book and a reference book, especially when the reference book has DETAILED information that should be in the rulebook. Why should the detailed information be in the rule book, because when looking up the rules I expect to find them in the rules and when I don’t it does not naturally occur to me to flip through a reference book. In other words, I would rather have one big rulebook with all of the rules in one place than have to check two books, which slows down or stops game play. Please game companies, stop worrying about if a huge rulebook will “scare” players off; having to search through multiple rule books is more of a detriment.

With those things out of the way, Forbidden Stars is reasonably easy to learn and most definitely fun to play. What is reasonably easy to learn? The rulebook contains enough information for play; turn order, explanation of pieces, and overview of combat. There are areas where reading the reference book immediately come in handy, anything involving combat.

Goal of the game, in 8 or less turns capture a number of objective tokens equal to the number of players. Objective tokens represent things of importance to your faction and have no value other than a victory condition. A turn is played in three phases:

The first phase, players alternate placing order tokens facedown in systems. Orders allow players to move, build, collect resources, and upgrade their combat decks and what their orders can do. Placement of order tokens is important, as they are resolved top down, meaning planning is important to avoid attempting to build something without the proper resources, infrastructure, or ability to move them around.

After placing orders, resolving orders; starting with the first player (a token that changes at the end of each turn) each player chooses one of their order tokens on top of stack revealing and resolving the effects. Play alternates until all of the order tokens are resolved. During this phase, combat can occur up to two times per player. Combat is where the majority of the reference book look ups happen.

Here is a break down of combat: each player gathers dice equal to the combat value of their units. Both sides roll their dice leaving the symbols displayed. Then each player draws five combat cards for three rounds of card playing and damage dealing. During the three rounds of card playing and damage dealing each player reveals a combat card resolves the effects, then deals damage. At the end of three rounds if any units are left the side with the highest moral total wins.

The final phase is resource collection, resolving any events, and moving the warp storms which are barriers to movement that move at the end of each turn creating an ever shifting series of barriers.

I have glossed over a lot and there is a lot to Forbidden Stars. Despite everything above, the game plays very smoothly and quickly, most games were over in under an hour. I recommend Forbidden Stars for people who like strategy games and have a passing interest in the Warhammer 40k universe (a deep knowledge is NOT required).