Monday, 31 December 2012

GamesReport: 28-Dec-12 Dreadball!

On the last Friday of 2012 I took my son Jack down to The Black Knight Gaming Centre in Larne for a try at Mantic Games newest Boardgame. I'm a big fan of Games Workshop's Bloodbowl and the classic Bitmap Brothers Speedball games so this game ticked a number of boxes for me. I wanted a game that I could play with 11 year old son so Dreadball was worth a shot.

AndyA was on hand to demonstrate the game for us and in no time Jack had a evil looking band of less than merry Orcs and Goblins facing my wimpy looking Humans. We got some of the rules wrong but we certainly got a solid feel of the gameplay in the first game. Jack's Orcs ran rampant and by the end of about four turns, called Rushes in the game, he had killed most of my team, scored a strike, and crucial removed my final player from the field. Needless to say he was enjoying himself.

We fired up a second game with Dad taking a much more careful strategy of targeting of the more squishy goblins and using dodging more often. I got the win, but some of this must be put down to a tired opponent. I can see a lot more tactical options in this game which will come to the fore after playing a few matches and having your players get more experience and abilities.

Overall I was very happy with the game and can recommend it as a light and fun game best enjoyed as part of a league.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

KoffeeKlub Evening 23rd of December

It's Pirates this Sunday as we play Merchants & Marauders for the first time at Koffeeklub. Join us on the high seas for a night where ooo's and arrr's be in full flow! 

We'll be at The Black Knight this Sunday between 7pm and 11pm, as always everyone is welcome to join us. 

"Damn my blood... I scorn to do anyone a mischief, when it is not for my advantage." - Greybeard, The Pirate

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

GamesReports: 2/9/16-Dec-12 Battlestar Galactica, Dominion and Shogun

I've experienced a little bit of game fatigue over the past few weeks and selecting likely games for our KoffeeKlub sessions has been a little trickier than usual. Much of this is down to the sheer number of games played over the last six months, which has been by far my most productive gaming time ever.

Perhaps it's time to take stock and consider some new titles for early 2013. Suggestions welcome :)

They had a plan...
2nd of December Session - Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar made a welcome return to KoffeeKlub and with determination and resolve we humans intended to beat back the Cylon threat and restore balance to the universe. Hell we even reduced the food level on purpose to prevent the sympathiser becoming another Cylon player... ...It was in vain though as Cylons Chris Graham and Andy Agnew succeeded in reducing our resources and destroying humanity. Ah well...

A Busy Day On Galactica

9th of December Session - Dominion
It's been far too long since we last played Dominion, published by Rio Grande Games. Once again Andy Agnew and Chris Graham came out on top in two randomised card-set games from the original box, but as always it was lots of fun.

Dominion Day

View from the Tower - Shogun
16th of December Session - Shogun
We opened with a couple of games of Bluff, a firm KoffeeKlub favourite, before moving onto Shogun for some 15th/16th century Japanese warfare. Shogun is played over two game years, each made up of three active seasons (spring, summer and autumn) and one scoring season (winter). During the active seasons players expand their territories and construct buildings to increase their influence in different regions.

Although the map gives the impression of a risk-style area control game, Shogun is more about gaining influential control in each region by building castles, temples and theatres. In our game ChrisG took an early lead as black during game year one and remained strong enough in the central region to protect his newly constructed buildings during game year two. 

Shogun - Final Board
You can see from the final board position (left) that black (ChrisG) dominate the centre and faced little trouble from the other players once he'd built up his forces. Yellow (Me) finished second, but should have taken an early opportunity to mess with black in the centre as by year two it was too late. Purple (AndyA) and Blue (DaveB) threatened to have a mighty battle on the southern island, but a fate card prevented blue's final attack due to purple's temple. Red? (GaryB)... really had a tough time of it, finishing up with only three areas under his control.

ChrisG's dominance with black
Final result: 

1st ChrisG (black)
2nd GaryG (yellow)
=3rd GaryB (red) 
and AndyA (purple)
5th DaveB (blue)

We finished the evening with a quick game of For Sale, which ChrisG also won!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

KoffeeKlub Evening 16th of December

Peace has enjoyed too much time at KoffeeKlub recently and the time for war is once again upon us. Which Daimyo will embrace the way of the warrior and lead his people towards honour?

Find out at The Black Knight this Sunday between 7pm and 11pm, as always everyone is welcome to join us.

"The way of the warrior is a resolute acceptance of death." - Miyamoto Musashi (1584 - 1645)

A bumper Christmas for iOS releases

Christmas is almost here and app developers have been busy working on their gaming releases for the holiday season. 

I've already posted on the KoffeeKlub Facebook page about a number of recent releases, but this should serve up a more comprehensive look at the gaming releases that have caught our eye recently.

Stone Age 
Campfire Creations have developed this very popular 2008 Spiel Des Jahre nomination for the iPhone/iPad. Stone Age is a worker-placement game for two to four players. The goal of the game is to score the most civilization points by collecting resources and using them to construct buildings and other advancements. It's an excellent transfer between board and smart device, but I can't help feeling that something gets lost in translation with certain titles.

Features: Solo play vs. 3 different AI opponents, Pass-and-Play multi-player for single device, tutorial, remote multi-player through Game Centre

Release Date: Available Now
Price:  £2.99

Stone Age
Battle of the Bulge
Battle of the Bulge is a turn-based strategy wargame from Shenandoah Studios covering this famous World War Two battle from the Ardennes counter-offensive, December 1944 through January 1945. Hoping to d/l this one today!

Features: Retina Graphics, Tutorial, full rules, strategy guide, day-by-day history of the Bulge campaign and remote multi-player through Game Centre

Release Date: 13/12/2012
Price:  £6.99

Battle of the Bulge

Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Version
The Enhanced Edition of Baldur's Gate (for iPad) includes remastered versions of both Baldur's Gate and its expansion pack, Tales of the Sword Coast. It features three new characters, a new quest the "Black Pits" and the ability to use all classes/kits from the beginning. The draw here for me is a nostalgic one, so I hope that this doesn't end up being a play-once game.

Release Date: Available Now
Price:  £6.99

Baldur's Gate

Artemis: Spaceship Bridge Simulator
Artemis is a multi-player game for iOS devices from Incandescent Workshop LLC. It simulates a spaceship bridge by networking iOS devices together to run the main screen, helm, communications, engineering and weapons control. This may be a game for a niche market, but is sounds like a lot of fun... if you can get the players...  

Release Date: Available Now
Price:  £1.99

Artemis: Spaceship Bridge Simulator

Looking ahead to 2013 and Space Hulk will get it's own release. Not much in the trailer yet, but some details are available from the developer's site: 

Based on the best-selling board game and set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, Space Hulk is a 3D digital turn based strategy game that recreates the classic claustrophobic board game experience for single player and multi-player cross-platform play between PC, Mac and on iOS.

Space Hulk is set in the isolated corridors and tomb-like chambers of an ancient vessel lost in the graveyard of space. Players lead a small army of fearless Space Marine Terminators to battle in a ferocious fight for survival against hordes of predatory alien Genestealers.

The main features are:

  • Blood Angel terminator squad
  • Fearsome Genestealers with challenging AI
  • Thematic 3d environment
  • Single player campaign based on the "Sin of Damnation" hulk
  • New coop multiplayer levels against the Genestealer AI
  • Multiplayer head-to-head recreating the board game experience against a friend
  • Cross platform multiplayer between PC, Mac and iOS
  • Level editor with ability to share creations
  • Game expansions in the future as DLC

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

KoffeeKlub Game Of The Year 2012

We've played a lot of games this year and thought it might be fun to open a vote for the KoffeeKlub Game Of The Year.

Our list was narrowed down to these finalists:

A Few Acres of Snow
Battlestar Galactica
A Game Of Thrones (Winner 2012)
Race For The Galaxy
Twilight Struggle
Power Grid

The KoffeeKlub Game Of The Year for 2012 is A Game Of Thrones by Fantasy Flight Games. Our thanks go out to everyone who voted and congratulations to Justin Dougherty, who won a copy of the game courtesy of The Black Knight Gaming Centre.

KoffeeKlub Game of the Year 2012

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Solo Wargaming #1 - "Rattenkrieg"

During the Battle of Stalingrad the Russians responded to the German combined-arms strategy by keeping their lines as close to the German lines as they could, effectively "hugging" the Germans and forcing the infantry to fight alone or risk casualties from friendly-fire.

The bitter fighting at Stalingrad was fought over every ruin, street, factory, house, basement and staircase, even in the sewers beneath the city. The Germans referred to this as "Rattenkrieg", or "Rat War" and are said to have joked about capturing the kitchen but still fighting for the living room and the bedroom. It's difficult to imagine the conditions that the soldiers of both sides endured during this battle, yet it is a period that is often gamed and written about.

Rattenkrieg, Assault on the Traktor Factory is a solo "postcard" wargame by Turning Point Simulations that offers up a fast and simple set of war-gaming rules to represent the uncertain battle-lines and the close quarters fighting at Stalingrad. 

Rattenkrieg Front & Back
You take on the roll of the Germans in a race against time to maneuver your infantry and tanks in and around the ruins of Stalingrad to hunt down the Soviets and wipe them out before their reinforcements become too strong and outnumber your German forces.

The Rules
Having been written to fit on one side of a postcard, the rules are straight-forward and easy to follow. I like to play about with the game and components as I'm reading through the rules, but this is difficult when they are on the flip-side of the map, so I ended up scanning and printing a spare copy for my walk-through. note that you'll need 5 D6s to play Rattenkrieg. 

Set-up assigns a random five soviet counters to be placed face-down in areas marked on the map with red shields. The player picks up the German forces and sets them up at full strength (white-side up) in the map areas with grey arrows.

Rattenkrieg Map

Each round is made up of a Strategy Phase and a Combat Phase. During the Strategy Phase the Soviets roll for reinforcements (Soviet Infiltration), the Germans move (German Movement) and surprise attacks occur (Deadly Surprise) for Soviet snipers and ambush counters in a contested area. Once the surprise attacks are resolved we move into the Combat Phase for each contested area on the map.

Combat is handled area by area in contested zones and is simply a case of creating a dice pool by totalling the German iron crosses vs. the Soviet stars (including any defensive stars in the shield for that area). 2D6 are assigned to the side with the most crosses/stars and 1D6 goes to the side with the least with ties giving both sides 2D6 (Dice Determination). The Germans can use their four Air Strikes to add a single dice in any area (Air Strike).

The dice are rolled and resolved for each area with units being depleted or eliminated as required (Hellish Combat / Bloody Aftermath). A quick victory check is made and if the Germans haven't wiped out all of the Soviets and the Soviets haven't got more units than the Germans, then Rattenkrieg continues for another round.

How It Plays
I've played it through three times now and had two clear victories and one slight victory which was by far the most interesting of the three to play. My strategy was to strangle Soviet reinforcements by covering as many areas as I could since during the Soviet Infiltration they roll 2D6 and add a random counter to the area if no unit is already there

However with limited units and the need to attack with strength, I settled for covering the high shield value areas as I captured them. This meant that if the Soviets did get reinforcements that they would appear on the less favourable terrain, which also happens to be the least likely to be rolled (2,3, 11 and 12 areas on the map)

I can understand why it was done like this, but for the Soviets to have a fighting chance they absolutely need to get good reinforcement rolls and bring a unit back onto the map almost every turn. 

I love the idea of postcard games and thoroughly enjoyed clipping, learning and playing Rattenkrieg.

It's a short game and lasts only 5-10mins when you are familiar with the rules. Unfortunately it's just too easy from my playing experiences so far, so a house-rule or two may be needed to increase it's longevity. e.g. The Soviets can reinforce areas with one cross Germans as well as empty areas during their Infiltration step.

All-in-all it's a nice little freebie. Give it a try, but consider using a house rule to make it a little more challenging.

Rattenkrieg was designed by Steven Cunliffe (see also The Hell of Stalingrad). Check out BGG for some other Against The Odds pocket battle games.

Monday, 3 December 2012

KoffeeKlub Evening 9th of December

White Knight Anyone?
We had lots of fun with the classic deck-building game Dominion at the Essen Spiel in 2011, so hopefully KoffeeKlub regulars will enjoy it too.

We'll be at The Black Knight this Sunday between 7pm and 11pm, as always everyone is welcome to join us.

"He who cannot establish dominion over himself will have no dominion over others." - Leonardo Da Vinci

Thursday, 29 November 2012

GamesReport: 18/25-Nov-12 AGOT, Mansions and Light Nights

At this time of year the weeks seem to pass quickly and I haven't found enough spare time to blog about our KoffeeKlub evenings. In part this is down to the heavier blog pieces on ASL Starter Kit after-action reports, but they're fun to play and write about and are likely to stay.

Our Sundays of late have been taken over by bigger games such as Mansion of Madness, Eclipse, Battlestar Galactica, A Game of Thrones (AGOT) etc. and on Sunday the 18th of November numbers were big enough for us to run both Mansions and AGOT on the same night. GaryB hosted AGOT on one table and we played a Mansions scenario, The Green-Eyed Boy on the other.

Stark's strategy to conquer Westeros isn't too clear...
Chris. Ready to beat-on fellow players with his guitar.
On the 25th of November we'd decided to take a short break from the bigger games and to roll-out a few lighter games in our first Light Nights session.

Light Nights
During the evening we played:

Zombie Dice
A very light push-your-luck dice game. The players are zombies trying to find brains and avoid getting shot-up too much. Fun for a couple of rounds, but then we shuffled on...

Game 1 - Zombie Dice
GaryG 16-2 (1st)
AndyA 16-0 (2nd)
GaryB 5
DaveB 0

Game 2 - Zombie Dice
AndyA 14 (1st)
GaryB 5 (2nd)
DaveB 3
GaryG 0

For Sale
A short auction game where the players bid for property cards in phase one and sell them off for big profits in phase two. A lot more fun than it sounds and too long since I last got a chance to play. 

Game 3 - For Sale
GaryG - 48 (2nd)
AndyA - 42
GaryB - 37
DaveB - 58 (1st)
ChrisG - 34
ChrisB -35

Game 4 - For Sale
AndyA -60 (1st)
GaryG - 55 (2nd)

A firm favourite of ours that never seems to grow old. Highly recommended.

Games 5 to 8 - Bluff
GaryG (2x1st)
AndyA (1x1st and 1x2nd)
GaryB (1x1st and 1x2nd)
DaveB (1x1st)
ChrisG (2x2nd)
Karl (1x2nd)
Ca$h & Gun$
Not much to this one, but you do get to point foam guns at each other!

Game 9 to 10 - Ca$h & Gun$
GaryG (2x2nd)
ChrisG (1x1st)
DaveB (1x1st)

6 Nimmt!
An entertaining trick-taking game. It takes a little while to get use to and bye that stage you've probably lost already! :)

Game 11 - 6Nimmt! (low is good)
GaryG 50 (2nd)
AndyA 87
KarlW 50 (2nd)
ChrisG 77
GaryB 56
DaveW 36 (1st)

Overall Scores

GaryG 3x1st and 5x2nd
AndyA 3x1st and 2x2nd
GaryB 1x1st and 1x2nd
DaveB 2x1st
ChrisG 2x2nd
KarlW 2x2nd

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the first Light Nights session!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

KoffeeKlub Evening 2nd of December

"This is the Commander. Moments ago, this ship received word of a Cylon attack against our home-worlds is under way. We do not know the size or the disposition or the strength of the enemy forces, but all indications point to a massive assault against Colonial defences. Admiral Nagala has taken personal command of the Fleet aboard the battlestar Atlantia following the complete destruction of Picon Fleet Headquarters in the first wave of the attacks. "How? Why?" doesn't really matter now. What does matter is that as of this moment, we are at war. You've trained for this. You're ready for this. Stand to your duties, trust your fellow shipmates, and we'll all get through this. Further updates as we get them. Thank you." - Commander William Adama

Last time, in the simulator, the Cylons enjoyed a resounding victory. This time it's real, so book your place on Galactica and help us fight against the toasters.

We have six seats at The Black Knight this Sunday between 7pm and 11pm, all are welcome.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

AAR - ASL SK Scenario #S43 - Clearing Carentan

Moving into Carentan
S43 Clearing Carentan
Attacker: American (506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division) (GaryB)
Defender: German (Fallschirmjäger Regiment 6) (GaryG)
Turns: 6 Players:
OBA: None  
Night: No
Date(s) Played: 20/11/2012
Carentan, France 1944-06-12

Starting Board Position
For full details on set-up, please see our introduction blog entry for S43.

Turn #1
A very tough first turn for the Americans who as yet are unaware of the immediate German threats from their hidden squads (D6 and F5) and artillery markers (G7 and F7). They open up with some area [A] fire vs. building hex J5, trying to uncover and hidden units there. The roll has no effect and they remain uncertain of who or what is in J5.

During the movement phase they CX (double-time) an 8-0 leader with and 7-4-7 squad crossing open ground at B5 to the east of Carentan [B]. It was early in the game, but I had to reveal one of my hidden units, an 8-1 leader / 5-4-8 with LMG, in D6 to fire on them. I score a hit and break both his leader and the 7-4-7 squad [B]. 
American Turn #1
The Americans have an easier time in the west of Carentan [C], advancing their 9-1 leader and two 7-4-7s through building hexes to close in on J5 (where GaryB believes I have a hidden squad). They take some light fire from my German 2-3-8 squad, but it has no effect.

Centrally [D] the Americans move into position to cross the street and settle into F7 and G7, critically my hidden artillery targets. With movement over, I defensive fire at the American 7-4-7 / 3-3-7 stack in G7 breaking both of his units with heavy fire from my 5-4-8 / MMG / 2-3-8 in I4. Not a great start for the Allies as nearly half of their squads have been broken already!

In my German turn I call in my artillery during prep fire targeting building hexes F7 and G7 [E], but both rolls have no effect. That could have been a game finisher if the rolls had gone the German's way. Other fire during the turn had no effect, but I did manage to move my 8-1 leader / 5-4-8 with LMG from D6 and initiate close combat in B6 [F]. The Americans lost a 7-4-7 and an 8-0 leader in this assault.

German Turn #1
Turn #2
In turn #2 the Americans licked their wounds and rallied some of their troops creating an 8-0 leader with a 1,1 roll during rally phase. In movement they evacuated [G] building hexes G7 and F7 to avoid further artillery hits, leaving only the broken 3-3-7 half-squad behind. Needing to keep the pressure up and counter some of their losses, they advanced a 10-2 leader and 7-4-7 squad with DC into building hex D6 under the cover of smoke [H]. Again though the German defence was strong (with a 1,2 DR) and they broke both units as they entered the building. Disaster for the Allies as their best leader was broken!
American Turn #2
I wanted to press my advantage and used more artillery fire on G7 [I] to eliminate the broken American 3-3-7 half squad there. From the east I assault moved my 8-1 leader and 5-4-8 with LMG into C6 to force his broken stack out of the building hex D6. During advancing fire I managed to casualty reduce the broken American 7-4-7 in D6 [J] and they used low crawl to flea into an open hex at D7.

The American stack in building hex E8 was still strong (the new 8-0 leader 2 x 7-4-7s and 1 x MMG) and they continued area-fire vs. E5 to try and uncover my final hidden unit, presumably before attempting to cross the street [K]. Other fire was exchanged in the centre of Carentan, but with no effect.
German Turn #2
Turn #3
Turn #3 saw the 10-2 leader escape to join his friends in E8, but the 7-4-7 with him was killed under heavy PBF from my German stack in D6 [J]. Otherwise exchanges of prep fire and defensive fire had no effect. The Americans were running out of time and bogged down in repeated prep-fire due to the losses they had sustained so far.

Turn #4
More prep fire from the Americans broke the German 8-1 leader in D6 [L], but held up their strongest squads for another turn. In movement phase a 7-4-7 crossed the street successfully into building hex J3 [M] taking ineffective fire from the German 4-4-7 in N3. Buoyed up by this success the 9-1 leader / 7-4-7 in J5 move to follow them, but are broken by MMG fire from H4 and forced to stop in building hex K5 [N]. Nothing seems to be working out for the Americans.
American Turn #4
I'm sorry to say that this game looked ripe for the German plucking and it pushed me into some questionable moves as I tried to finish MrBingers off... :)

I began with some prep fire from my 5-4-8 / MMG / 2-3-8 in H4 [O] at his broken units in K5*, but malfunction my MMG in the process with a 6,6 roll. In movement I pushed two fairly weak units into positions really close to the enemy and in one case [Q] directly into close combat.

A 2-3-8 was moved into I3 [P], but took fire on the way at I2, fortunately for me the Americans missed. Separately I moved a 4-4-7 from N3 into L5 to prepare for close combat with his broken units in K5 [Q]. The resulting close combat would fail for both sides.

German Turn #4

Defensive firing the Americans successfully broke (and casualty reduced) my 5-4-8 in D6 [R]. Nothing terrible here for the Germans, but the moves in turn #4 would cost them heavily in turn #5...

*I need to make a rules check as I believe that firing here from H4 to K5 was enough to automatically DM the American units there. We played that it didn't, but I need to review.

Turn #5
The game was really closing out now and we both knew that it was all but lost for the Americans, but they did have a few parting shots to deal with first. During rally phase they successfully brought back a 9-1 leader / 7-4-7 in K5 completely swinging the balance in that building hex [U]. 

American Turn #5

Forgoing prep fire for once they moved their big stack (10-2 leader, 8-0 leader, 2 x 7-4-7s, 1 x MMG and 1 x DC) from E8 to C7 under the cover of smoke [V]. They also successfully fired on D6 breaking the half-squad there and forcing them to rout across the street to safety [W].

Three very winnable close combats at [T], [U] and [V] played out in favour of the Americans with the Germans losing a 4-4-7 in K5 [U], an 8-0 leader in D6 [V] and a 2-3-8 in I3 [T].

These final few close combats couldn't however change the result and the Americans surrendered at the end of American turn #5.

RESULT: The Americans (GaryB) conceded to the Germans (GaryG) at the end of their turn #5.

Historical Aftermath
Once established in the town, the paratroopers divided up into small groups each of which began neutralizing German positions in buildings and alleys. Major von der Heydte, commander of the Fallschirmjägers and in charge of the defence of Carentan, had withdrawn most of the defenders from the town during the night to avoid being surrounded. The rearguard that remained, however, were seasoned troops a fought skilfully, including the pre-registered key positions for artillery and mortar bombardments. 

Through the course of the morning, the paratroopers took position after position until the remaining Fallschirmjägers were forced to retreat out of town. While the next day would bring another German counter-attack, this time featuring the feared SS, they would never again control Carentan.

GaryG - A good scenario, which was more than slightly impacted by the poor first few turns that the Americans suffered. We did get it closed off in one evening's play though, which is good. We intend now to play the same scenario again this time switching sides.

GaryB - I will have to mark this one up as a learning game. I was happy enough with my set-up but made a critical mistake CXing the units on the left in the first turn. My original intention was to move the units to D6 to support the main force crossing the road in the centre. The right flank went better and I was able to move them to the J5 building where I was concerned Lt Gardner had deployed a hidden unit. It was a couple of unfortunate rolls which scuppered my progress early on, these were in response to errors on my part however ASL SK punishes you severely and I got knocked about very badly. I was very lucky in hindsight to survive the beautifully targeted artillery blasts in the most part. I did much better in the later stages of the game when perhaps GaryG felt he had the game won and was able to be more adventurous. On the round, I have to report, "Must do better - See me after class"