Sunday, 26 April 2009

Busy Weekend

I have had a very busy geekly weekend. M'buddy, Derek, came to stay on Friday for a spot of intense Advanced Squad Leader activity. Most excellent. We agreed to play scenario RB1 One Down, Two to Go from the Red Barricades historical module. This module is set in Stalingrad in October and November 1942 and represents the German attempts to capture the Barrikady factories. The scenario sees the Germans renewing their assault immediately after the capture of the Dzerzhinsky Tractor Factory. Part of the board is in flames (determined randomly) and the Russian forward positions have suffered early bombardment, represented by the front rows having to take a morale test before the game begins.

I was the Russians, while Derek was the Germans. The scenario began well for me. My off-board artillery pasted his left flank and my minefields slowed down his assault sufficiently for me to blast his troops. The crowning moment for me was when my battalion mortars stonked his 10-2 leader (second best quality leader possible in the game) and associated kill stack by dropping a building on them. As you can see in the picture below, the fires around that area were quite severe too. The grave of the 10-2 leader is the rubble counter near the centre.

Unfortunately, my luck did not continue. On my left flank, Derek was able to mass his reinforcements and drive a wedge down my left flank while my reinforcements were still advancing northwards to try to block them. Unfortunately, by this time I had broken most of my machine-guns and my reinforcements were mainly conscripts. Eek!

And then the final end came when a Stuka (did I mention the level of air support available to the Germans?) scored a critical hit on my second last heavy machine-gun. Boom! It rubbled the building, set it alight and killed everything in there. It was about this time that my personal morale broke.

The end game was then characterised by me trying to get my reinforcements into place and Derek shooting them to pieces as I did so. We played it through to the final turn, but that only emphasised the kicking that I received. It was a great scenario and I did scare Derek by having read and learnt the tunnel rules and cellar rules. That caught him out at the start!

On Saturday afternoon, Steve dropped by and we were able to play Midgard, Eketorp and Chez Geek. Derek won both games of Midgard, which is a game of Viking expansion and death, by a significant margin in both games. He clearly understood the metagame better than Steve or me. Nevertheless, the game was brilliant fun and has a lot to recommend it. The card draft forces you to make difficult decisions, knowing what you are handing on to your opponents to choose from. The game also does not reward a lot of tit-for-tat playing. The moment you start having a go at someone, the pair of you fall behind in the points, or at least make no progress. I look forward to playing this with more people.

After that we played two games of Eketorp, which is a game of Viking fort building. This game has some of the feel of Settlers or any other resource management game. You have to fight for and gather materials with which to build your fort. The game ends after ten turns or when the first fort is completed, at which point you add up the points you have gained. Steve won one game of this and Derek won the other, but these games were much closer than the games of Midgard. This is another excellent game that I shall seek to play again.

Finally, we played Chez Geek. This is a classic card game from Steve Jackson Games with excellent artwork by John Kovalic. The goal is to accumulate Slack, while preventing your opponents from doing the same. You gain Slack by buying things, doing activities and having the right people show up in your room. The card play is fun and I really enjoy the game. Steve won this game.

So, I managed to play six games over the weekend and lost them all. It has certainly been a thrifty weekend because I have not spent any money on games and have played four games that I already own. I have also had a lot of fun. Sounds like a good result to me!

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