Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Friendless Gaming Sunday

Today wasn't as bad as the title suggests. I got together today for 7.5 hours of gaming with Friendless. Friendless is another Brisbane board gamer I met through BoardGameGeek and he owns literally hundreds of games.

First up we played BattleLore. I've been waiting to play this ever since I opened it on Xmas day. I was going to keep detailed battle notes but got carried away with all the action when the games commenced.

Game 1: We decided to start with the first introductory scenario, Adventure 1, Agincourt. I was the French led by Constable Charles d'Albret and Friendless was the English led by King Henry V. It didn't take Friendless long to bring his rear units up to form a solid line of archers and swordsmen. I knew enough about the historic battle of Agincourt to make the decision to keep my mounted units back and send in my foot troops first. I used a mixture of section and tactic cards to form a line of blue regular infantry in the center. Here is a pic of the board from my perspective just prior to sending four of my blue swordsmen units forward with a Foot Onslaught tactic card.

It was a fairly desperate battle with me eventually taking the win 4 banners to Friendless' 2 banners.

Game 2: We then decided to play an introductory Lore adventure. In this battle, Adventure 5, Wizards & Lore, we would each be aided by a Level 1 Wizard. Cool! I was playing the French led by Sire Bertrand Du Guesclin and Friendless was playing the English led by Sir Robert Knolles. Here's a pic of the board from my side at the commencement of the game.

We were both dealt 4 Lore cards at the beginning and allowed to keep one. I ended up getting Fireball (10 Lore cost) and Portal (7 Lore cost). I chose Portal as I thought it would come in more handy than the Fireball. Friendless once again kept good lines, this time moving some units from his right wing to beef up his center. Over the first few turns I moved my left wing forward and edged my center units over to support them. I was able to form up my right wing into line but they sat there for most of the battle. All this time both of us were busily building up our Lore supply.

I suddenly realised I only had one Lore card. At the end of my turn I chose 2 lore cards and of those kept Dispel Lore. That was really lucky because Friendless had been holding on to a 9 Lore Creeping Doom spell which he cast next turn. This would have potentially wreaked havoc amongst the forces of my tightly packed left wing and weakened them prior to my attack. Just before he cast Creeping Doom I pulled out the Dispel Lore card. Phew!

Battle commenced between my Left/Center and Friendless' Right/Center. It was a brutal affair. I'd made space for a blue cavalry unit to pass through my line and it did a lot of damage to Friendless' troops on his right wing, taking out 2 units. Friendless then played a Mass Might Lore card and destroyed 2 of my units. The battle surged back and forth until I played an Enchanted Mass Might spell which was very effective. I think I combined it with a center Advance card to bloody effect.

Friendless then attacked with a couple of blue cavalry units in the center and caused one of my blue infantry units to retreat 3 hexes to the back edge of my board. When you have nowhere to retreat, all flags rolled cause casualties, so having a unit on the back board edge can be an extremely dangerous position. Friendless took advantage of this situation and sent those two slightly wounded cavalry units behind my lines to kill my cowering infantry. He was quite unlucky with his rolls and my unit survived. My routed blue infantry unit must have rallied for, in the next turn with the aid of another infantry unit, it made a valiant counter attack which ended up destroying both of Friendless' cavalry units. I won this game 6 banners to Friendless' 2 banners. Here's a pic of the final moment.

Game 3: I next wanted to play a scenario with Goblinoids, Dwarves and Creatures so we chose Adventure 6, A Complex Web. In this adventure I was playing the French led by Owain the Red Hand against Friendless' English led by Edward of Woodstock. I had some Dwarves, a Giant Spider, and human foot and mounted. Friendless had Goblin foot and mounted as well as human foot and mounted.

I was planning on using my bold Dwarves to attack Friendless' Goblins but I just didn't have the cards. Instead I pushed forward where I had the cards - on my right wing. I brought my two blue cavalry units forward to devastating effect. I think I ended up combining a Mounted Charge tactic card with another Enchanted Mass Might spell. They were hitting on 4 of each of the 6 sides of every die they rolled. They clove through Friendless' troops like butter. I was lucky to get pursuits on most of my combats which just made that round even more deadly. I must have killed at least 3 units that round. Here's a pic of my valiant cavalry after their charge.

After that, some left wing cards started coming my way so I ended up getting my blue infantry and red heavy cavalry into the Goblins. Their frightened morale status causes them to retreat 2 hexes for every flag rolled which was very deadly when they were forced back into their own lines. I was able to destroy enough to take the win 6 banners to Friendless' 0 banners. And after all that I never got a chance to use my Dwarves or the Giant Spider!

Just like the recent Ashes test cricket series, the English weren't having any luck. The French won all three games. To be fair we should really swap sides and replay these particular adventures. I really enjoyed BattleLore. There seems to be a lot of possibilities. I really look forward to my next game.

We then played two games of Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation. This is an incredibly tense, thematic, tactical and most of all, fun game. We each played as the Light side and also the Dark side. Friendless won both games. Here a pic of halfway through game 2 where I was playing the Dark side.

I almost won game 2, reducing the Fellowship down to only Frodo Baggins while I still had four characters left. It came down to the last card at the end. I sent my Flying Nazgul swooping down on the solitary Frodo thinking I had a 3 card left. Unfortunately all I had was a Retreat card. Doh! I had to retreat leaving Frodo to surge forward on Shadowfax to enter Mordor and win the game. Tricksy Baggins! I've now played a total of four games of Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation and have thoroughly enjoyed every one of them. I'm always amazed at how finely balanced it feels. It has now risen to the top of my wish-list of games to buy.

After that tense, brain-burning session, Friendless suggested a beer and a more relaxing sort of game. Out came Bamboleo, a German dexterity game where you have to remove oddly shaped objects from a finely-balanced board. Here's a pic of the game. Friendless is checking the rules.

We started outside on the table on the deck but a few gusts of wind forced us to move inside. I was hesitant to even breathe when around this teetering game. First person to collect 20 objects wins the game. Friendless won this with some well-calculated withdrawals that I was sure would cause the board to tip. The last round came down to him leaving me an impossible choice of two objects on either side of the board. Well played! Bamboleo would be a great game to play with children I suspect.

The final game of the day was Hamsterrolle, another dexterity game from Germany. Imagine a hamster’s exercise wheel, divided into numerous segments, separated by low fences. Each player receives several wooden pieces of different length and shape, which they aim to place (one per person per turn) within the wheel without any pieces falling out. Any pieces dislodged are taken back as a penalty and the first to get rid of their pieces wins.

This was a longer game than Bamboleo although still very enjoyable. I was ahead for most of the game and ended up winning despite Friendless' many cunning deployments.

An excellent day of gaming versus a worthy opponent. I look forward to our next gaming session.

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