Sunday, December 25, 2011

Game Collection: The First Cut

My first priority for keeping games was to keep those that my group enjoys playing and plays with some frequency.

Those games include:

Axis and Allies
Formula De (incl. tracks 5/6, 9/10, 17/18)
Napoleonic Wars
Circus Maximus
Twilight Imperium (3rd Edition)
Power Grid

Settlers of Catan
Ticket to Ride: Marklin Edition

We played Circus Maximus the other day (12.11) for the first time in years and introduced our children to this very fun game. They loved it. So much so that we are planning a cyberboard race in the coming weeks and months. I'm looking forward to that. It's always been a favorite of mine and one you can't take too seriously or personally (although we've had gaming vendettas bleed over from other games). You need to lighten up to have fun.

We had a group of seven and I ran two chariots, which in hindsight wasn't very fair to the others. It was a classic Circus Maximus game with plenty of back-and-forth. We shortened the race to two laps and I think we may have lost only one car in the final turn. Other than that it was a race down to the finish between three chariots. I'm sure we'll play this game again real soon.

Axis and Allies is a good "we want to play a complex wargame but don't want to read or review any rules." It's been a while since we've played, but always a lot of fun.

Twilight Imperium and Napoleonic Wars are similar games, but more intense.

The last three games were saved because they have family-wide appeal.

Please note that I do not bother to update my general boardgames (Uno, etc) as many families own these games.

Roll well and live!

Clearing House

Or, I should say, cleared house.

I don't know about you, but owning a large game collection can be stressful, especially if you don't have time to play the game.

I recently sorted through my game collection and made some tough choices. It basically came down to this: have I played the game regularly and, if not, is the game sellable? What I mean by sellable is that the game will fetch a good price for the amount of work needed to sell it? I have a lot of older games selling for $10-$20 on BGG and EBay, but it's a lot of work to make the sale, pack the product, and bring it to the post office for shipping. Honestly, I'd rather keep it for that much.

So I sorted my games into various stacks:

- Games that my group plays a lot
- Games that I play a lot, or would like to play a lot
- Games that I don't want to part with for one reason or another (sentimental value, non-sellable, etc)
- Games to sell or trade

I also kept most of my naval/air warfare games. I like that them.

So I ended up selling a bunch of games, including my beloved Advanced Squad Leader, and actually financed Christmas on the proceeds. Not a bad deal. I had mixed feelings about selling ASL, but I haven't played the game in years and it's a lot of work.

So, now time to update my Boardgame Geek list and get busy playing games.

Friday, November 11, 2011

History of the World

One of my group's favorite games is "History of the World," a game we've been playing since the old Avalon Hill days. I think it's a favorite since we all know the rules, the cards, and the basic empires, although honestly, I don't care for the game all that much, which probably comes as a surprise to my gaming group since I'm the one that usually pushes to play this game, especially this last time.

Why? Well, there are several reasons. First, I love the scope of the game - from the earliest civilizations up to the modern age. I love studying history and the rise and fall of empires and lately have been watching a show called Rome: Rise and Fall of an Empire, which covers many of the Epoch III (or is it IV?) empires, so I've had an interest in playing the game. Of course, I'm never given the Romans, so it was a moot point. I'm usually stuck over in India, China, or the New World. I'm also a fan of Dr. Who, which (especially in its early years) covers a wide range of human history. As an aside, wouldn't it be interesting to include the Daleks in a future epoch? Another reason I've been wanting to play is exposure to a great deal of ancient art at our local art museum (St. Louis Art Museum). There you can find art from the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese (many dynasties represented), and South Asia (include some from the Gupta era).

So what don't I like about the game? I think it's a lack of control. Not that I do well in games where I can exercise a lot of control, but it just seems like lack of control is rampant in this game. You never know from one epoch to the next when you will take your turn, much less where you will be. You can have a nicely played empire, only to lose it next turn to another empire that starts on your conquered land. Then there is the card draw, which, in my opinion, can make or break a game. I've gotten dealt some awful hands before (can anyone say Australia?) while I see other people clean up with leaders, engineering, and civil service.

There's also a lot of dice rolling. Sure, there's some strategy to taking lands, building monuments, and constructing forts, but I really wonder how much of an impact that has on the final outcome? There's also the issue of the chits a player gets for being in first place following an epoch. Sure, it's great to get them, but very frustrating when you come in a close second every turn and those chits just represent a bigger deficit that needs to be overcome. This happened to me last game, but it's also discouraging for players who struggle through the early part of the game and have very little hope of catching up. Yes, it's possible they may get a really good card, but I don't think that's as big of a percentage as it should be.

I, along with my group, will continue to play the game. It's fun and it's a "light" level of frustration (none of us really take the game seriously). In fact, we even play the game on-line through, which has a very user-friendly interface and efficient email notification system.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Gettysburg Day 1

Been a while since I've posted. I went on a tear and finished the first day of my Gettysburg battle and the movie, "Gettysburg." I thought the movie was good. It focused on only a few aspects of the battle and I think it parts it was probably overdone and overacted, but overall a fine film. Having recently visited the historic site, I could tell a great deal of the movie was filmed 'on location.'

As for my game, wow -- the rebs rolled up the Union in a way I've rarely seen done in this game. The Union just wasn't getting the rolls and the Confederates could not be stopped. It's interesting that in my game, Ewell was in the same position he was in real life - with the choice to pursue the Union Army to Cemetery Hill or hold back. During the actual battle, Ewell held back, much to the chagrin of some of the other generals. I didn't and his troops pummeled the resistance.

At the end of Turn 7, the last move before the non-combat night move, the board looked like this:

The Confederates suffered NO losses. That's right, none. The Union, on the other hand, had many losses and gave up valuable ground. According to the rules, the Confederacy wins an automatic victory if they score twice as many VPs (Victory Points) as the Union. I stopped counting at 12 and even that was too much since the Union had 0.

What to do now? I'm kind of burned out on the game and the Confederacy did win, but I'm thinking I might replay the day 2/3 scenario to see what happens, or I might take day 2 and 3 and play them separately.

Either way, I think I'm going to update my Boardgame Geek lists for now. I am there under bambino64.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Game and a Movie: Gettysburg

This summer I had the pleasure of visiting the Gettysburg National Battlefield Park with my 11-year-old son. I had been there before when I was about his age and remember bits and pieces of that vacation, but I've wanted to go back for quite a while.

It just so happens that one of my favorite games is Avalon Hill's Gettysburg (1988). It's a simple war game that plays rather well. I've enjoyed it over the years and always played in the tournaments when I was able to attend AvalonCon (93, 94 and 96).

I also enjoyed the movie "Gettysburg" and am now rewatching it. It's preachy, but it is pretty comprehensive and I like that it was filmed at Gettysburg. I didn't know that until I was watching it again this last time and noticed how familiar the surroundings looked. I figured they either had to film it on site (but how would they film around the modern buildings, monuments, and statues?) or they did a good job making it look like Gettysburg. I looked it up on-line and did confirm that it was filmed at Gettysburg. I also liked how they used re-enactors to play the parts of the soldiers. What a treat for them!

Soooo...I am combining the two by watching the movie and playing the game almost simultaneously. I want to pay close attention to the movie so I plan to watch one day or half day of the movie and then play that same time period on the board.

I am using cyberboard to replay the game. I haven't used cyberboard in a long time so most of my early game was spent figuring out the interface. It's easy to use, but the help file is lacking. For example, I had trouble figuring out the different between a "compound" move and a "plotted" move. I eventually found it on-line. I like the idea of cyberboard. I have a friend who swears by it and it's a great way to play the game solitaire without getting the pieces out or worrying about the cat launching a devastating surprise attack.

So I started the game and only made it through the second Confederate turn. I thought with the Union I would play the delaying strategy so I can give my troops enough time to take the high ground (the "very good" high ground - those familiar with the movie will get that) while I plan to play an aggressive strategy with the Rebels - push, push, push and possibly flank. If the Rebels can take the high ground and control the roads after the first day, they'll be in very good shape.

You can see that, for the Union, so far so good...Devin and Gamble held and Wadsworth was able to reach town. It's easy to lose the cavalry early (only 1 combat factor each), but I placed them in woods (Gamble was on a woody hill) and that helped. I lost both battles but only had to take one step loss. Union is up next and has reinforcements coming in. I think I am going to form a line just north of town to hold the confederate army until the union reinforcements can arrive to take the hills. After that, it's just a matter of them fending off confederate attacks. We'll see how it goes.

And since this is a new blog maybe I'll make "game and a movie" a recurring theme.