Archive for December, 2010

Age of Industry

December 22, 2010

We finally played Age of Industry at the Game Bistro this week.  I had owned the game for a couple of months, so I was thrilled to finally get to play it.  Our game was filled with 4 experienced Brass players.  As a first play, I carefully referred to the rules.  One hazard of a game which is apparently ‘Brass 2.0’ is that we may assume we know what we are doing when a change had been intended.  I should re-read the rules, but I feel pretty confident we played it as intended.

It was good, in my opinion.  The other three players rated it “excellent”, and I nearly did so. But I can always raise my future ratings if it proves to be appropriate.  I won’t enumerate the differences and similarities to Brass.  But I will summarize them by saying it is clearly related, and much of the ornamentation of Brass has been cleared out.  It is these very changes which held it down 1 notch in my initial rating.

It was good.  It was very good.  But as a derivative work, I’m still processing if it really succeeds in a way that Brass did not.  Points for include:

  • It can play 5 people
  • Based on our initial game, it seems it will easily play in an evening.
  • It might be simpler to teach.

The fact that the game board is double-sided, with the potential of additional maps being released is also worth noting.

All in all, it pleased me, but did not wow me the way Brass did.


Sunday & War

December 12, 2010

I played 2 war games today with Alex.  We did the second scenario from the Breakthrough expansion for Memoir ’44.  This was a real squeaker.  Alex played the Allies and was rolling up my right flank nicely.  I managed to pinch off his armor thrust on my left flank, but it didn’t look good.  At one point he was leading 8 medals to my 4.  With victory at 10, I was sure I was doomed. 

But as it happened, he ran out of good cards to play and his advance ground to a halt.  My hand was clogged with cards for my non-existent right flank.  But I somehow managed to claw my way back to a 8-8 tie.  Alex crested at 9, first by taking an objective – but after I pushed him off the objective he zapped another infantry unit of mine.  My artillery blasted some of his troops tying it up at 9-9, and with my next turn I won!  I had thought Alex’s victory was assured earlier.  Very entertaining game.

The Breakthrough scenarios are a big departure for Memoir ’44.  The maps are basically double deep.  This gives room for manoeuvre.  But if you play using the normal game deck of cards, I could see how this might be frustrating.  It is already maddening to get the cards for the section you wish to be active with.  With Breakthrough games, you would then also have to use those valuable cards to just deploy troops from the rear.

But I am using a special deck of cards specifically designed for use with Breakthrough maps.  These cards have on the move liberties.  Basically you usually get to move 4 units.  If you get a “Recon”, you order 1 unit as usual, but then you can move three other units anywhere on the map, but they cannot fight.  If you get a “Probe”, you order 2 units as normal, but also move 2 other units on the move; and likewise for the “Attack”, you order 3, but get 1 unit on the move.  I think this special deck is great!  The only odd bit is you didn’t get this deck with the Breakthrough expansion!  It is included in the “Winter War” expansion.  So I strongly suggest players get both expansions if you are to really enjoy Breakthrough scenarios.

Alex and I had a bit more time, so I introduced him to my old favorite, OGRE.  I suggested he play the conventional defence and that I play the Mark III OGRE.  It may have been more kind to let him play the OGRE, as it is easier to operate.  But I thought Alex might have more fun selecting his forces and maneuvering them.  I was successful in wiping out his command post, but he did destroy my OGRE before it could escape.  For an old game, OGRE continues to please me.  If they ever get the reprint released, I will likely buy it.  The hopes of a deluxe edition with Eurogame publishing standards is a dream of mine.  They managed to do it for A House Divided, and I hope they deliver on the deluxe 6th edition of OGRE that has been discussed for a couple of years now.

A fun session of light war gaming.  Thanks to Alex for coming over!


December 11, 2010

We played a 3-player game of 1830 last night.  I looked through my gaming log books and did a little compilation of my recent experiences with 18xx.  Back in the 1990’s the game 2038 came out, and I played it several times.  But this was before I really started tracking my gaming.  I began my formal tracking of games played in 2001, and I note I played 2038 once that year.

But for 2002 though 2006, Euros dominated my gaming, and I didn’t play any 18xx games at all.  In 2007, I finally played 1830 again.  I had tried to learn 1830 at a game convention back in the 1990’s.  That experience was poor, and I had not revisited 1830 prior to 2007.  But in 2007, it clicked, and I was now hooked.  1830 seemed like it had the same fun as 2038, but was a bit easier to play.  I liked it enough to play 3 complete games – which took 6 sessions to do. 

But come 2008, I regressed and did not really get much 18xx gaming done.  I did play 1829 Mainline once, but 2008 was mostly devoted to Agricola and various Martin Wallace games.

Come 2009, and I finally got into a full exploration of 18xx.  February was my sole sampling of 1853.  A foul ball.  I enjoyed it.  But my opponents disliked the set order and the regional restrictions imposed on each railway company.  March had me exploring the introductory game in 1829 -the granddaddy of all 18xx games.  The introductory game is too simple to excite 18xx interest.  Alex introduced me to 18EZ, which appealed on one hand – as it is intended as a teaching tool – but bugged on the other hand, as I like the historical context of other 18xx games, and it is not present in 18EZ.  FInally, also in March, I returned to 1830, confirming my love for the game.

In April we continued our exploration of 18EZ, providing input to the publisher.  (18EZ was in prototype form at that time.)  We also played 1830 again.  In May we tried 1856.  This has been my sole play of 1856.  While it seemed a worthy game, I realized I would need to play it multiple times to get comfortable with the game space.  In June I finally played 1829 Mainline a second time, and also got in a full game of 1829 – although we used the 1830 track building rules, which is a common variant.

In July I played my first game of 1825 – using Unit 1.  Sadly it didn’t go over too well.  The set order and the limited number of companies caused some of the players to feel they had no chance.  Later that month Joe Huber came visiting and brough 1846.  1846 was a big hit, and both Alex and I ordered it right after playing it.  1846 is made by Deep  Thought Games, which meant we both were doomed to wait a year before they would fill our orders.  We rounded out July with one more game of 1830.

In August I played 1825, Unit 3 – a two-player version of that game.  This was quite good, and it reassured me there was something of value in all those 1825 game sets I had tracked down.  Early in September we tried 1861.  A huge game and beautifully produced.  But of epic duration.  I liked it, but grew impatient for it to end.  Some of my frustration was around the fact that one of the players had only ever played a short 1825 game with me just a week or two before – and this massive game seemed like overload for the newbie.

I didn’t get back to 18xx until November, when I played a smaller introductory game, 18GA.  My final 18xx game in 2009 was good ‘ol 1830.

In 2010, I was a little slower to get into 18xx.  But in March I organized another 1825 game.  We finally tried 1825, Unit 2.  Which I felt was better than Unit 1.  Less processional.  In April we tried putting Units 1 & 2 together, and I realized I liked that even more.

In June, 2010, local copies of 1846 finally arrived, and it got some attention.  We played it once in June and again in July.  Also in July I organized another game of 1829 Mainline.  I finally realized that while Mainline has provided me hours of solitaire enjoyment, it has not been as good at providing as good of a multiplayer experience.  In August I organized another 1825 game, but this time I tried a heavily tweaked variant, to make it more like 1830.  Ultimately I felt this was a mistake, and I intend to play it as the author intended from now on.

Now it is December, and I finally got another 18xx game in.  Our game of 1830 last night was very much fun, and I am energized to play more.

So here are my totals:

  • 1830- 8 plays since 2007
  • 1825 – 5 plays since 2009
  • 1829 Mainline – 3 plays since 2008
  • 1846 – 3 plays since 2009
  • 18EZ -2 plays
  • 1853 – 1 play
  • 1856 – 1 play
  • 1861 – 1 play
  • 18GA – 1 play
  • 2038 – Multiple plays, but none since 2001

Gaming, or not

December 7, 2010

Tuesday night is game night around here – except when it is not.  Tonight was not.  But last night I did manage to play a game of Puerto Rico.  And Saturday afternoon I played the 1st scenario of the new “Breakthrough” Memoir ’44 game.  Very fun, and I hope to do more of that.  We used the new “Breakthrough” cards released in the “Winter War” expansion, which worked great.

I attempted to participate in a recent Math Trade over at BGG.  No luck.  I am realizing that I am falling further and further out of the pack.  Many new games are traded, and most are not interesting me enough to try them.  Further, the older games I might be ready to trade don’t seem to interest anyone else.  So no trading going on around here.

I may be getting an extra copy of Agricola – merely to beef up my available tokens for the game.  I dislike the counters used to indicate you have multiples of the various resources.  A bit ridiculous, but there you have it.

I found it interesting that some of my geek buddies over at BGG are trading off some of the newer games that I just recently acquired.  I really enjoyed Giants earlier this year, and tracked down a copy for my collection.  I saw it listed for trade today by two of my ‘trail marker’ geek buddies.

I’ll hope for a better week of gaming next week.

Classic Greece

December 1, 2010

Earlier this year I played Odysseus, in large part because the theme appealed to me.  Sadly the game didn’t, and I quickly gave the game to one of the other players who seemed to enjoy it more.

Down in Tucson, I visited Game Daze, a wonderfully stocked game store I like to patronize when I am in that town.  I bought Cyclades – which I am now wanting to play.  Cyclades is a game set in ancient Greece, where players invoke the gods to assist them in developing their city-state.  Unfortunately after I bought it, I discovered one of my likely players has already played this game, and found it lacking.  Nevertheless I am eager to play, and it does seem like it ought to be fun.

Alex brought over The Iliad on Tuesday night – oddly enough by the same author who wrote Odysseus.  (Of course Homer was the ancient author of the Iliad and the Odyssey.  In game land Dominique Erhard is the author of The Iliad and Odysseus.)  Iliad was a much better game than Odysseus.  I liked it, and can see playing more of it.

Reading a game newsgroup, I heard about another classic Greece game called Olympus, which is getting mixed reviews, but sounded interesting enough to perk my interest in playing it if I ever get a chance.

Reinforcing all this I watched a Netflix movie the other day about the last Roman Caesar (a child) and how he escaped to Britain.  Ultimately spurning further combat and throwing Julius Caesar’s sword into a stone… A neat tie in into the Arthur legend.  Not really a good film, but it tied well to my theme of late.

In other news, I played Industrial Waste for the first time this year on Monday night.  We had an especially tight game, and I managed to squeak out victory by a slender 3 points.  I was reminded that I really do like this game.  It is just old enough that it doesn’t get much attention anymore.

Tuesday night I also dusted off another oldie, Big City.  I’m not sure how much my opponents liked it, but I really enjoyed revisiting this old friend – one of my earliest German games.  I think Big City is really a 3-player game, and since that was our group, I was thrilled to get it back on the table after at least a couple of years.  Right after that, we played Tinners’ Trail, which is finally getting some additional plays.  Tinners got several plays in 2009, but then largely gathered dust in 2010, until my b-day party in November when we finally played it for the first time in 2010.