Thursday, March 24, 2011

Flying Colors, Cape Henry

Doug G. was over last night for another round of GMT's "Flying Colors."  We chose the Cape Henry scenario which features fairly equally matched French versus British squadrons.  The unusual aspect of this scenario is the French have both the weather gauge and an audacity advantage of 1-0 over John Bull.

I took the French because, well, i like playing the French.  Plus, Doug needed to see the importance of wind and how difficult it is to maneuver when it is against you.

Vive le Roi!

Doug won the first initiative and moved his forward squadron straight ahead while he  turned his rear squadron so they were reaching with the wind.  This created a seperation in his line and i moved full sail ahead to try and gang up on his forward ships before his rear squadron could arrive to support them.

I won initiative on turn 2--as well as the next 3 turns--and I managed to hammer the Robust pretty well, damaging it and setting it on fire.  Doug got some good shots in though, putting 5 hull hits on the Jason as well as setting both it and the Conquerant on fire.

During Doug's move, he was able to extricate the Robust out of danger.

4 French ships had surrounded the Robust who was able to sail out of danger.
The next 3 turns were a furious battle.  Apparently, neither fleet cared much for gunnery practice as it seemed both of us averaged a 2 on our broadside shots.  I had particularly horrible luck with stern rakes.  I either missed the rake roll or, if i did get the stern rake, would roll a 0 or 1 and not do any hull damage!  It was extremely frustrating as i had 2 undamaged 4rth raters both have 1 hex stern rakes, and did just a single point of hull damage.

Likewise, Doug also rolled poorly for the most part so we both were bitching up a storm about the dice.

My ships were now getting beat on.  I moved the Romulus down the Brit line, again trying double stern rakes, but doing little damage.  A broadside by the Royal Oak reminded the Romulus the danger of tangling with the big boys.

Romulus strikes her colors.

All was not lost for my brave Frenchmen though as i managed to poor broadsides after broadside into the Prudent who shortly thereafter, also struck her colors--looks like a firing squad for her captain is in order.

We played on through 3 more turns with neither fleet breaking off the battle.  We both needed a "0" to break.

I had suffered 5 ships damaged of which 2 struck--the Conquerant had succumbed on turn 6.

The Brits had suffered 4 ships damaged of which only the Prudent had struck.

Prudent strikes!
 We still had 2 turns left but called it a night as it was nearly midnight.  Final VP tally was 10.5 for my French and 12.5 for the Royal Navy.  A very enjoyable, tense, and often frustrating game for both of us.

Close Action.
French breaking though to the end of the line.

Monday, March 14, 2011

ASL, "With Friends Like These..."

Thursday night was PAASL (Palatine Area ASL) night at Dave K.'s house and i matched up with Mike S. for a scenario from the Chicago tourney list coming up in April, "With Friends Like These" from OotA2.

This is an early war, Vichy French vs. American scenario where a combined arms American force has to capture or destroy 4 Vichy 105 artillery pieces.  The Americans have 10 2nd line squads backed by 4 Stuart tanks and a hero.  The Vichy get 6 first line squads with 2 MMG's to help defend the guns.  The main Vichy weakness is poor leadership as they have only a 8-0 and 7-0 leader.  I give Mike the choice of sides and he chooses the attacking Americans.

Set-up is pretty quick for me.  The guns have to set up close to the river.  I position to guns on my left in support of each other, with 1 gun in the back middle and 1 on my right.

My right side defense.  Note i have a HIP gun in the orchard behind the building and a HIP squad in the building in front of the grain.
 I put a half-squad/MMG on my right and left and split my infantry and leaders similarly.  I have a bunch of dummy counters that i spread out, including one up front in some brush which i hope will slow Mike's movement down.  It will play even a bigger role than that.

My basic strategy is to make this 3 seperate battles--left, right and center-- of which i only have to win one to win the scenario.  I will keep concealment with my infantry unless they get a really good shot, and use my left side guns to shoot from the beginning as they are manned by 8 morale troops with +2 TEM due to emplacement.  With only 5.5 turns, Mike can't afford to take too much time shooting.  His key units are going to be his Stuart tanks.

Mike enters strongly to my right and center, which isn't too surprising as my right has the most cover, but what is surprising is that he's armored assaulting in big stacks.   I take a 2 straight shot at his right side stack and get a NMC.  His 9-1 leader passes and a half-squad pins, but 2.5 squads break.

End of turn 1.
 His middle stack armored assaults on but i have no good shots.  During my final fire, i reveal my 2 105's on my left and they let loose at the middle Stuart but to no effect.  Mike has little advancing fire opportunities but decides to shoot at my upfront dummy stack that i mentioned earlier with his Stuart.  Here is the small mistakes that cause losses in ASL.  Mike knows it's a dummy stack, otherwise i would have shot at his adjacent stack of infantry.  Even if i'm playing coy with it, he can advance in with his infantry with a big CC advantage.  There's no reason to shoot at it, but he does.  And of course he rolls my sniper, which i get a "1" on.  The sniper goes to the same stack and random selection is the 8-0 leader who dies, and all 3 squads with him break on their LLMC.  Ouch.

During my turn one, my 105 zeroes in on the center Stuart and promptly burns it with a 3 on the TK roll.  Double ouch for Mike.  Everyone else skulks.

Blazing Stuart. 
During Mike's turn 2, he moves his Stuarts into the gully for protection, overrunning a French squad who box cars his MC, rally's some guys back, and starts moving forward.  It is at this point, i reveal my right side HIP squad and get a 8-2 shot but only manage to pin the target HS.  My 105's come through for me though, taking out a half-squad.  My turn 2 is mostly skulking.

Turn 3 Mike makes a push on my right but is stymied by the French infantry, he pushes a Stuart out of the gully and tries overrunning one of my 105's but without success.  His center force by this time is mostly bust with only a couple of half-squads left which my 105's keep at bay.  My turn 3 i skulk with the exception of my left side leader whom i advance in concealed with the Stuart and 105, which i malfed.  I get ambush but don't get the "4" i need to hurt the Stuart.  The Stuart wiffs and the leader withdraws out.

French rear center defense.
 Turn 4, and Mike is running short of time.  He pulls his Stuart out of CC with my malfed 105 and drives it over to try and take out my other left-side 105.  I miss in defensive fire.  Mike continues to try and break my right side defense, but it's tough going as i have a full squad, a half-squad--who was broken in the overrun but rallied back--plus a half-squad/MMG and my 7-0 leader.  Backing that up is my center 105, and i haven't yet revealed my last 105.

My Turn 4 and i shoot my 105 on my left at the adjacent Stuart.  I hit but don't get a result on the TK.  I then intensive fire, hit and get an immobilization result.  Mike fails his check and the crew bails out and i break it with my MMG.  At this point with only 2 turns left, Mike throws in the towel as he has almost no chance of taking more than 2 of the 4 guns.

Immobilized and abandoned is no way to go through life son.
It was an interesting scenario.  Mike made the mistake of trying to move faster than he needed to by stacking.  This cost him dearly as 6 morale troops need to spread out.  He also left his middle Stuart open to repeated shots from my 105's.  We both realized after turn 1 that the Stuarts need to head straight to the gully until the infantry catch up.  I was happy with my defense and play with the exception of moving one of my squads into the gully.  I was being over-aggressive when i didn't need to be and Mike made me pay by overrunning it.

I like the French in this one as the can spread out their guns to 3 seperate areas and, combined with the short turn count, this will be a challenge for the 2nd line Americans to get to all 3 areas with sufficient force.

As alwasy, an enjoyable game with Mike, and thanks to Dave K. for hosting PAASL.

Thanks Mike! Love the dew rag.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Train in Vain

Photos to follow.

The girls had their gymanstics practice cancelled last night so we decided to break out an old favorite, "Ticket to Ride."

TTR is a Euro-lite game where one's goal is to complete randomly drawn routes between various cities in the US and Canada.  Completion of routes nets one VP's based on the length of the route.  Failure to complete routes results in loss of VP's.  Completing routes involves playing same colored cards.  During one's turn they can either draw cards or play cards to claim a route.

TTR has been a bit of a mystery to me.  In around a dozen games, i've never won and never had a good grasp on strategy.

So it was Sheri, Hannah, Mads and myself.  This would be Mads first game playing without help.  Of my first 3 routes, i drew Atlanta to LA and Nashville to Portland as well as a long North-South route which i discarded.  This seemed like a great combo as both routes were worth 17 VP as well as being more or less the same.

In our last game, which was a year and a half ago, i had followed a combined strategy of trying to mess other people's routes up as well as completing my own routes.  It didn't work in part because there are often ways around blocked paths and also because the girls are pretty cagey game players and don't often telegraph where they are going.

With my two East-West routes, i figured i'd focus completely on my routes trying of course not to be too obvious where i was headed.

Well, this worked perfectly for me, but i have my doubts of whether it had anything to do with strategy.  Basically, the ladies all had North-South routes.  I had no competition for my routes so it was a breeze to complete them.  I then decided to draw some new tickets and got a LA to Miami worth 20 VP.  This was perfect for me as i already had built Atlanta to LA, so i only had to complete an Atlanta to Miami connection.

When we tallied the final scores, i had 136--a new house record for us as we do keep track of winners--and won by a good margin over Sheri, 111, Mads, 96, and poor Hannah at 76--she thought she had completed a route but hadn't so suffered a 18 point swing.  I can't feel too bad for Hannah though as she is the leader in overall wins.

Good fun with the game clocking in at 1 hour 45 minutes.  I fully expect Mads to start racking up wins soon with some experience, as her luck is legendary.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Twist and Shout

Jeff Hallet of 2-Halfsquads podcast fame, hosted a 4-player game of Dungeon Twister Sunday.   DT is as much of a puzzle as it is a game, with very chesslike play.  I've played it once before and it was fun enough to give another go.

Normally DT is played one on one.  Each player chooses 4 of 8 characters each of which has different abilities.  A mapboard is then constructed of randomly placed hidden tiles.  Each player also has a set number of items which they place face down on the map.  After that, the game starts and the winner is the first to get 4 VP's which are acquired by exiting your characters off the opponents board edge or killing opposing characters.   It's a pretty simple game one can play in an hour.

But Gary busted out the 4-player version which i believe makes the game much more interesting for a couple of reasons.  First, each player uses all 8 of their characters instead of just 4.  Second, it is extremely hazardous to try and cross the middle of the board as one can get attacked from 3 different sides.  Lastly, there is the "gang up on the leader" aspect which is inherent to multi-player games. 

Doug and Gary focus whilst i smile for the camera.
 So, we start off by placing are items and characters.  Doug and i both make the mistake of placing some of our onboard characters close to the exit, but this means they are easy pickings for each other.   Jeff also leaves his Wizard hanging in the wind and i'm able to fireball his ass.  Jeff, who forgot his fireproof suits, gets two more fireballs and is down 3 characters early, while Doug and i amass 3 VP's each.

Gary is playing pretty conservative--in other words he's playing smart--and keeping his characters massed together except for one of his fast guys who is able to blow through Jeff's line and exit.

Mayhem in the Dungeon.
Doug then wacks another one of my characters who i placed too close for him, and is sitting on 5 VP's--you need 6 to win in the 4-player game--while Gary and i are at 4 and Jeff has 1.  Doug has another of my characters trapped and looks like he will get the kill, but some tile twisting by Jeff and some quick moves by Gary look to keep him from the winning VP.

Alas, time is running out for Doug who has to leave for a family function so when Gary goes for the kill, i play my max combat card to prevent it, which allows Doug to finish off my character for his 6 VP and the win.

Overall, it was a enjoyable game.  It is a game that can suffer from over analysis which certainly happened early on.  Mid-way through the game, Jeff and i both downloaded chess clock apps to our phones and started timing moves.  It is suggested to have a 2 minute time limit per move, something which i wholeheartedly agree with.  Next game we will definatly do this.

Naked Twister!  Well, not really...
 Thanks to Jeff for being a great host, and check out the 2-Half-squads podcast if you haven't.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Flying Colors, Doggersbank

At start, the Dutchies await the Limey onslaught in line of battle

I love me some "Flying Colors," although i hadn't played it in 6 years or so.  My good friend Doug Gries and i just finished up a 4 game set of "1805: Sea of Glory" which inspired us to take Age of Sail to a tactical level.

I chose "The Doggersbank" scenario from the "Ship of the Line" expansion as it is a medium sized engagement and looks fairly balanced.

The Brits of course have the weather gauge and an advantage in quality ships and audacity.  The Dutch counter this with having better and more leadership.

I took the Dutch as i felt they would have the tougher go of it and this was Doug's first game.

Doug won initiative and ignoring Nelson's advice of "break the line!" instead turned his line parellel to mine.  I cackled with glee as it looked like Doug had made a rookie mistake in allowing me time to tack my fleet and turn the tables on him.

The Brits scared of breaking the Dutch Line. The Dutch begin to tack towards the Brits.
 At the end of Turn 4, i had successfully tacked all but one ship and it looked like i might be able to take the Brits down.  Fortune then reared it's ugly head, and the turn 5 wind die roll resulted in the wind changing directly into my fleet.  My fleet is now in irons!  It's now Doug's turn to cackle with glee.

Sideways Captain Doug

Doug now changes tactics and turns the Brits straight into my poor Dutch, raking with abandon.  The battle quickly deteriorates into a pell mell affair.

Doug cheerfully pointing out a Dutch ship in trouble.  Thanks Doug, i never would have known!

My ships rotate back into position but Doug is already ganging up on the back of my line.  I still feel pretty good about my chances, but then, fortune deals me a second unkind blow as a cannonball takes off the Dutch Admiral Zoutman's head at 800 yards.  That stings as now my forward squadron is out of command and going to have to maneuver back towards the newly promoted Fleet Admiral.

This is a difficult task and already, one of the Dutch ships looks ready to strike.  Another is damaged, and i've yet to damage a British ship.  It's not looking good for me.

Carnage at Doggersbank.
We play another turn and my Dutch ship refuses to strike despite being down to a single hull point.   As it is getting late for a school night, i concede the sea to Doug and we call it a night.

Great fun and i'm hoping to get another game in soon.