Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A C&C:A Coda

First, today is the battle of Waterloo +202 and, for me, it's always a day of remembrance.  I think I shall always take it as history's greatest battle and only regret I can't visit every year.

Back weary from Origins, but I wanted to follow up on the folks who wondered how the kids' Commands and Colors: Ancients gaming from www.grogheads.com would go.

It was absolutely splendid.

For those who don't know, running a wargame at a convention these days is something of a crap shoot.  Some days you can't put up enough chairs and others you wind up talking to your friends in the booth.  The one thing the organizers of Grogheads Central Command seem to have intuited, however, is that there's a fair number of older folks with young children that want to have their children at least try the games they love.  It turned out that it would be hard to imagine a better game than C&C:A.  As said before the scenario was simple, the number of different unit types limited, there's no terrain, and the objective is simple enough.  The young people, and their parents, responded.

We had six slots if memory serves and only one of them had no takers.  Others were oversubscribed and I'm glad I brought an extra copy of the base game so we could set up an extra table for the unexpected players.

A few animadversions if I might:

1.  Every one of the parents that came by wanted their children to enjoy the game for its own sake.  Sure, a few of them seemed to be harboring the hope that their boy or girl would be willing to play something other than "Click, Clack, Lumberjack" with them, but that did not come at the expense of the youngster having fun.

2.  C&C:A is stupid popular.  I had quite a few folks wander by as I was setting up and ask if I was looking for a game.  They seemed quite disappointed when I said the session was targeted at kids.  My second favorite moment of the whole business, though, was the fellow who looked to be my age who, while HL was helping a youngster at another table, asked if I'd be willing to teach him the game as he'd just bought it.  His enthusiasm for the system and gratitude for me having taken the time was memorable.

3.  My number one moment, though, came from the very first session just on Thursday.  A pair of brothers were brought over by their father.  The older brother was a talker -- verbal and connected to those around him.  The younger was an introvert who said little even as I explained the rules and the game set up.  Once the game started though, this kid, who was certainly no more than six, either by accident or design understood the scenario almost intuitively.  Playing the Syracusans, he nigh-wordlessly marched his heavies, one hex at a time, across the battlefield and ground his brother into paste.  He could have advanced his flanks but never expressed an interest.  He never acted bored or restless -- quite the contrary, it seemed he really, really, really wanted to play.  He played cards, moved blocks, and rolled dice with the confidence and focus of a real veteran.  He crushed his brother 5-0.

A fine, fine set of memories -- and, may I say, a bit of a hope for a groggier tomorrow.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Bit of C&C Ancients By Way of Apology

It's been a bit since I've been by.  The nice folks at grogheads.com have been publishing a fair amount of my stuff and I've not been to the table as much as I'd like either.  With that as prologue, HL and I set to several rounds of Commands and Colors: Ancients as we prepare for our part in the Grogheads Central Command, set to begin this very Thursday at Columbus, OH's own Origins game convention.  I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those who remember that Origins was once a wargame convention and would like to see wargaming return to a place; its rightful place having been usurped it would seem by a combination of lovely boardgames and silicon chips.

Particularly exciting this year, we're going to have some wargaming geared to younger gamers.  We've chosen C&C:A because of its relative simplicity, but also because it's offered for sale by the fine folks at Enterprise Games who are one of the sponsors of Central Command.  We've got three slots available and have chosen three different scenarios, each of ascending difficulty, so that certain rules can be taught as we go.

The first is, appropriately enough, the very first of the included scenarios, the battle of Akragas (406 B.C.)  It suits the present purposes as it offers a limited number of troop types and has no terrain.  The historical narrative of the battle is reasonably well handled here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Akragas_(406_BC) where, to sum up, the Syracusans come to break the Carthaginian siege of the city and win rather handily.  In our own dust up, HL had the Syracusans.

The image above is the board at start.  My big bats are the two heavy chariots, one unit to either side.  They punch hard and can follow up a successful melee with another melee, but, at two blocks, they are near an archetype of the glass cannon.  My foe men for their part have that cluster of heavy infantry in the middle that, while slow, represents the very best of Greek spear-and-shield fighting; all together best avoided.

It didn't take too many turns for matters to go pear-shaped.  The Syracusan right fell on my left -- as a dad, I'm pleased the boy is finding some aggression, but I digress -- and, with a couple of lucky rolls, wiped out my chariots before they could do anything more than kill a light infantry block or two.  My right flank is ordering pizza from a charming local eatery; or something else unproductive.

The left is not improving.  Dionysius has crashed his medium cavalry well into my lines.  If I'm not mistaken, I'm already down 3-0 in victory banners at this point.

I managed to turn the tide just a little bit by wheeling Himilco and his mighty auxilia (sigh) who, with the assistance of a "Clash of Shields" card, joined in my single best turn of the game.  With the bonus that card confers in hand, I was able to cobble together three victory banners.  Although, as can be seen, my other heavy chariot unit is gone.  HL proved unnaturally adept at rolling red squares this afternoon.

The end, though, was one of those moments for which C&C:A is deservedly well-regarded.  Daphnaeus had marched his heavies all the way across the board -- one hex at a time -- eventually to reach Himilco's command.  I would note in passing that Dionysius has scampered off to behind the Syracrusan lines.  His five heavy dice were enough to end the rest of Himilco's troops and then, at the last, Himilco himself.

Final score: 5-3.

This will be a good scenario for Origins, I think.  Short setup and HL and I managed the whole of it, with photography, in well less than 45 minutes.  Here's to a bit of groggy goodness in Ohio this week.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

What...in the Blue Hell...

I have never been more than tangentially involved in game development -- BETA testing, scenario designing, and the like -- so I try to be circumspect, but there are times that I see something that really winds me up.  I'm quite fond of GW's Battlefleet: Gothic.  It's another in their longish line of side-games that I wound up preferring to their mainstays, fantasy and 40k.  End of the day, lacking as it does a Z-axis, it was an Age of Sail game in space.  What, then, wasn't to love?

When they announced the PC version some months ago, I was fairly pleased.  The game looked lovely with glow-y Imperial ships, Ork ships that look like they've been cobbled together from scrap, and all the rest rendered in a reasonably high-end fashion.  I was saddened, though, that the developers made a choice to make the game "real" time.  The table top game is obviously turn based and so many of its best mechanisms are based on that IGOUGO system.  Still, it was a system I liked and I've more or less enjoyed it since BETA.  Then and now, though, I was left wondering what might have been had they taken a crack at making the game turn based.

This, then, stunned me:

http://grandcauldron.com/en/games-indie/battlefleet-gothic-game

Turn-based, still more or less lovely, full campaign, asynchronous multi-player, and a fairly faithful adaption of the tabletop rules.

For the iPad.

Say it again.  For the iPad.

I've fired off a message to the developer to see if there's any chance it will make its way over to Steam -- the developer has put together other products there -- but I'm not optimistic.

I do not understand.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Not Writing HERE Because I'm Writing THERE...

In fairness to me, I've not been neglectful in recounting my gaming adventures, I've just been sharing them with the fine folks at grogheads.com.

Here, for example, is the interview I did with VentoNuovo games for its Bloody Monday KickStarter.

http://grogheads.com/?p=14188

People did not understand the difficulty I was going to have when I gave up purchasing or ordering new games for Lent.  Now perhaps they understand.  On the other hand, let it be noted that the KS doesn't end until the day after Easter.

And here's my latest interview with the fellow who invented by favorite game by a living author -- Dr. Didier Rouy, author of The Flight of the Eagle.

 http://grogheads.com/?p=14345

Both have interesting things to say, but I particularly enjoyed Dr. Rouy's for his introspection on a career not only in gaming but in medicine.  He said so much, in fact, that the article wound up being broken in two.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Two Fine Bits of Reading I Commend to Your Collective Attentions...

https://panzerde.blogspot.com/2017/03/how-not-to-be-general-in-age-of-reason.html?spref=fb

In which my guy Doug goes after a video guy for not understanding how horsies used to work.  He's dead on right.

http://grogheads.com/?p=14089

In which your host opens many boxes, stickers many wooden blocks, wonders at game production choices, and revels in Napoleonic battles.