Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Chicken in my Letterbox!

Back in January I advertised on BoardGameGeek looking for a chicken token for my original 1992 edition of the Loopin' Louie game.

A chicken in the mail!

Thanks to Alex Vandertol (BGG user mirrordude) of Grandville, Michigan, USA for sending me a chicken token which arrived in the mail today. I can now play with four players! 30 Geek Gold well spent. Thanks again Alex!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Trip to Townsville

I had to fly up to Townsville on Thursday morning for work. Townsville is 1,112 kilometers (691 miles) from Brisbane and the flight normally takes around one and a half hours. I thought I'd share some photos of my journey.

Dawn breaks as I wait to board my plane

This was a great opportunity to meet with people in my organisation that I'd only ever spoken to over the phone. It turned out to be quite a busy day on Thursday with meetings scheduled for most of the day.

Our Townsville office is located in the heart of the city. That afternoon, after checking into my hotel, I went for walk to the beach which is literally only minutes from the central business district.

A marina with Jupiter's Casino in the distance

I walked along The Strand which is a seaside foreshore of Townsville. In one of the many parks I spotted these magnificent Banyan trees. Roots grow downwards from the branches to support their weight. The branches then grow quite long and create magical sylvan grottoes. What you can see in the photo below is a number of thick roots which have grown down from the branches above.

Banyan trees

It's quite amazing to see such beauty only minutes from the city.

A view from The Strand

Just offshore from Townsville is Magnetic Island. This mountainous island is a holiday destination and has several resorts.

Magnetic Island in the distance

The next morning, Friday, I awoke to a wonderful view of Castle Hill from my hotel. This magnificent 292 meter granite monolith (just 8 meters short of being classified as a mountain) looms over Townsville and can be seen from almost every point.

Castle Hill

It was another busy day at work on Friday with more meetings. That afternoon I caught a flight back to Brisbane. I was tired from the meetings and the travelling but happy to be home with my family again.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Gaming With Grandma - 92

Another Saturday morning gaming session with my daughter Maddie and my Mum (AKA Grandma).

Our first game was a 3-player game of The aMAZEing Labyrinth. I was green, Maddie was red and Grandma was yellow. This game has been a great success for our family as a game that can be enjoyed by both adults and kids. We allow Maddie to look at her top two cards at any time while Grandma and myself are only allowed to look at our top card.

The ever-shifting maze of The aMAZEing Labyrinth.

Final scores were me, Wayne 8, Grandma 7 and Maddie 5.

Maddie then left so Grandma and I looked for a 2-player game. I chose Metro. This is a game of building the Paris Metro rail system in the early 1900's. It's a tile laying game and the object is to score points for completed routes. Double points are scored if you can link one of your stations on the board edge to the stations in the middle. I was blue and Grandma was yellow.

Did someone drop a bowl of spaghetti on the board?

This was only our second play of this game. We'd previously played it with three players but I found that I really enjoyed it as a 2-player game. Grandma led for most of the game but I made a comeback towards the end to claim the win 126 to 100.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Orcs Ready For Action

On Friday morning I finally finished off a batch of Orcs for the Song of Blades and Heroes skirmish game. I'd been working on these miniatures for the last month, grabbing an hour here and an hour there around my busy home and work schedule. All photos can be clicked on for a larger version.

Orc Champion and Orc Warchief

These two figures are from Eureka Miniature's 18mm Fantasy range. They are the two available poses for their Orc Chief (code 300ORC04). Please note that I have converted the figure on the right by adding the weapon to his upraised fist.

I think I'll use them for the following (left to right):

Orc Champion
Points cost: 76
Quality 3+
Combat 4
Special abilities: Savage, Hero

Orc Warchief
Points cost: 100
Quality 3+
Combat 4
Special abilities: Leader, Tough

Orc warriors

These eight figures are from Eureka Miniature's 18mm Fantasy range. They are the four available poses for their Orc with Sword (code 300ORC03).

They'll be used as the following:

Orc Warrior
Points cost: 23
Quality 4+
Combat 3
Special abilities: None

Orc archers

These four figures are from Eureka Miniature's 18mm Fantasy range. They are the four available poses for their Orc Archer (code 300ORC01).

They'll be used as the following:

Orc Archer
Points cost: 29
Quality 4+
Combat 3
Special abilities: Shooter (Medium)

Goblin wolf riders

These figures are from Chariot Miniature's 15mm Fantasy range. I understand that they are three of the four available poses for their Wolf Riders (code GOB03).

They'll be used as the following:

Goblin Wolf Rider
Points cost: 47
Quality 4+
Combat 3
Special abilities: Mounted, Long Move

Giant wolf (AKA Warg)

The last miniature is a large wolf I'm going to use as a Lord of the Rings-style Warg. Unfortunately I'm not certain of the manufacturer for this figure. Anyone know?

It will be used as the following:

Giant Wolf
Points cost: 50
Quality: 3+
Combat: 3
Special abilities: Animal, Big, Long Move

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Battle for Moscow 1941

I went over to Friendless' house on Tuesday evening for some gaming. Our first game was Memoir '44 playing with the Eastern Front expansion. We played The Gates of Moscow scenario. Friendless played the Soviets and I played the Germans.

The Battle for Moscow - 18 October 1941

Historical Background:
In October, the German High Command launched the final offensive of 1941 - Operation Typhoon. The initial German success on the Eastern Front had put them deep into the Soviet Union on all fronts, but the advance slowed before they could reach the key cities of Mother Russia. The Soviets used their large population to continuously produce more military forces. Although poorly equipped and inexpertly led, the Soviet soldiers were deployed in a last desperate line of defense to keep the German army from reaching Moscow.

Mozhaisk, the last major town on the direct road to Moscow was captured but the German advanced stalled. The exhausted army had no additional reserves for the final push on into Moscow.

The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command. The rest is history.

Axis Player: Take 5 Command cards
You move first.

Russian Player: Take 5 Command cards.

Conditions of Victory:
7 Medals
An Axis unit that captures the East bridge or the town of Mozhaisk counts as one Victory Medal. Place an Objective Medal on each hex. As long as the Axis unit remains on the Bridge or Town hex, it continues to count toward the Axis victory. If the unit moves off or is eliminated, it no longer counts.

Special Rules:
Blitz Rules are in effect (see p.4).

Russian Command rules are in effect (p.3).

My main problem as the Germans was that all my forces were grouped together on my edge of the board. In Memoir '44 a unit suffers a hit for every retreat move it cannot make. This made my force very vulnerable in the opening stages of the battle.

I had mainly Right Flank cards so pushed forward there. Unfortunately, the terrain was against me as I had to push through forests which really hampered my movement. Friendless played Air Power for his first move, hitting four of my units in the Centre. He rolled well and reduced two of my Armoured units down to one tank each as well as reducing an Artillery unit to one piece and reducing an Infantry unit by half. This effectively blunted any German threat in the centre.

Although I pushed the Soviets out of Bryansk on my Right Flank, that's pretty much where my attack stalled. I then decided to transfer my schwerpunkt to my Left Flank. My Armoured units were able to take the high ground and push back the Soviets in this sector. One tank unit even made it behind the enemy lines and was able to destroy a Soviet Artillery unit on the Soviet rear board edge.

The final placement at the end of the battle. Viewed from the German side.

However, my push only made it so far before I suffered at the hands of a valiant Soviet counterattack.

It was to be an historical result to the battle with Friendless winning the game with 7 medals for the Soviets versus my 4 medals for the Germans.

After that we had time for a quick game of Dominion. We played with the 'First Game' deck. Friendless did give me some tactical advice - the Villages were key to winning he said.


And Friendless was right. At one point he pulled off an awe-inspiring run of cards, using his entire deck on one turn. Friendless went on to win 31 - 28.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Gaming With Grandma - 91

It was just my mother (AKA Grandma) and myself in attendance for our Saturday morning gaming session.

We played the one game of Red November and as there would only be two of us we decided to play with two gnomes each. I played orange and light green and mum played purple and yellow.

Strangely enough, three of our four gnomes started in room 4 whilst the fourth gnome started in room 1. We decided to send yellow down the end of the sub to the Captain's room to raid his stash of grog. The plan was that yellow would then pass out the bottles of grog to the rest of the gnomes. Grog is valuable as it is only one of two ways to enter a room on fire (the other being the fire extinguisher).

We tackled the problems fairly well, concentrating on putting out fires and focusing on fixing some timed events which came fairly early in the game. We didn't worry too much about blocked doors initially but they were to become a problem later in the game.

The sub just seconds from a nuclear meltdown.

We actually got through the deck once (which we failed to do in our first game last week). It was the second time through the deck which gave us real trouble. We pulled a couple of timed events fairly early, which combined with the blocked doors really gave us a hard time. It got to a point when we were only 10 minutes from rescue with the heat track on 8 when I pulled the card which causes the heat to increase by 2. I moved the cube up to 10 on the track - Nuclear meltdown! Wow, so close, yet so far. Still, we had a blast and there's always next week.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Conflict of Heroes - Firefight 1: The Partisans

I went over to Friendless' house on Tuesday evening for some two-player gaming. The main game of the evening was a learning game of Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! - Russia 1941-1942. This is a fast-paced tactical WWII game designed by Uwe Eickert and published by Academy Games.

We played Fire Fight #1 - The Partisans. I played the Germans and Friendless played the Soviets. The objective of the scenario was to take and hold the crossroads. A victory point would go to whoever held the crossroads at the end of each round. A further victory point would be given for each enemy unit eliminated.

The situation at the crossroads towards the end of the game (now in German control)

There were three Soviet units (a rifle unit, an sub-machine gun unit, and a medium machine gun unit (MMG)) defending the crossroads in cover of the woods. I, as the Germans, had two rifle units and two light machine gun units (LMG). I sent one LMG into a small wood to take on the opposing Soviet MMG. As my team were setting up the LMG they came under fire from the Soviet MMG and took a hit. Rather than pull them back I decided to fire. My fire was ineffectual and my LMG soon came under more withering fire from the Soviet MMG and was destroyed. Not a good start.

Meanwhile, my two rifle sqauds and remaining LMG team were moving through the woods overlooking the crossroads. As this was happening, Soviet reinforcements started coming on the far map edge. I was soon able to commence firing at the Soviets defending the crossroads. I scored a lucky hit on the Soviet SMG squad which caused it to go beserk and reduced its range to 1.

The Soviets have all been eliminated by superior German firepower

The tide of the battle turned when a single reinforcement unit of German Pioneers came in on the Soviet side of the board. This was an elite unit which had a fairly high firepower. I moved it into close combat with a defending Soviet rifle squad and eliminated it. The Pioneer unit then moved through some woods to attack the Soviet MMG.

Meanwhile, my squads had taken the crossroads and were pushing the Soviets back into the woods. There were some more deadly firefights, some daring close assaults and then the game was over. Victory to the Germans! Final score was me on 8 and Friendless on 3.

I really enjoyed the back and forth play of this game. I feel the Germans may have the advantage in this scenario so want to swap sides and play again using the Soviets against Friendless.

We had just enough time before I had to leave to play a quick game. Friendless pulled out Palago. Palago is an abstract connection game designed by Brisbane-born Cameron Browne. We played using a new Bakelite version published by Tantrix Games.

In Palago players place tiles to try and form closed groups of their colour. The players share a common pool of hexagonal arch tiles. Each tile contains a yellow arch and a blue arch, and my be oriented in three ways such that the corner colours are the same for each rotation. The game is won by the player who forms a surrounded island of their own colour containing at least one arch.

We played two games. Friendless was yellow and I was blue. In our first game (to 20 tiles) Friendless defeated me when he laid the 12th tile.

First game - yellow wins!

In our second we decided to play to 40 tiles. Apparently a new player will win a moral victory if he can deny the more experienced player the win by the time the 20th tile is laid. I was able to achieve the moral victory in our second game. We decided to continue playing and Friendless eventually defeated me when he laid the 38th tile.

Our second game - Yellow wins again!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Gaming With Grandma - 90

My mum (AKA Grandma), my elder daughter (AKA Maddie) and myself (AKA Wayne), played one of my recent game purchases this morning.

Red November is a cooperative game designed by Bruno Faidutti and Jef Gontier and was published by Fantasy Flight Games in 2008. Players are gnomish submariners on board an experimental submarine (the Red November) which has gone haywire. The gnomes must work together as fires break out, leaks develop and critical systems start to fail.

I'd prepared for the game by downloading a game FAQ from BGG a couple of weeks ago. For our first game I had to teach the girls as well as having to refer to the rule book many times. The game took us about 2 hours in total. I'm sure next game will come in at under an hour now that we are familiar with the game mechanisms.

The doomed Red November

Maddie chose the purple gnome, Grandma yellow and myself dark green. At first we were able to keep the fires and blocked hatches under control. As we progressed, more fires and leaks added to our distress. Maddie's gnome accumulated many items but unfortunately lost all but one when Maddie pulled the Stumbled! event. My gnome was able to save the sub from a nuclear meltdown by first drinking a bottle of grog, then putting out a fire and then fixing the reactor. Unfortunately my gnome must have been a tea-totaller because he failed the faint check after the single bottle. He was happily unconscious for what remained of the game.

Grandma's gnome was able to save the sub from being crushed by the extreme pressure but then found that a nuclear missile was going to explode in 10 minutes. The only gnome in a position to fix this timed event was Maddie's gnome. Unfortunately, her gnome didn't have any grog or fire extinguishers to enter the missile room which had a fire blazing away. Her only hope was to enter the equipment room and hope to pick up one of the necessary items. Unfortunately, on the previous turn, Grandma had place a blocked hatch counter on the door Maddie's gnome needed to enter. The gnome only had three minutes to end up on the same minute as the timed event which would allow him another turn to fix it before he passed it and it blew up.

Maddie needed to roll a 3 or under on a 10-sided die. She rolled a 1! We all cheered and high-fived. That put her gnome on the same minute as the missile explosion. Then we realised that Maddie's gnome would have to use actions to search for equipment and would have to end the turn before being able to move again to the missile room to perform the fixing action. Ah well.

With 23 minutes remaining before rescue the missile exploded, totally vapourising the Red November and the brave gnomes aboard her.

We all agreed that although we lost, this was a very fun game. There is a constant tension, some tough decisions which need to be made, as well as the ongoing excitement of the luck of the die and cards. We're looking forward to playing it again.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Memoir '44 Operation Overlord Unboxing

I thought I'd do a quick video of my unboxing of the Operation Overlord expansion for the Memoir '44 board game. Enjoy!