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AAR 11 December 2012 - Mr. Madison's War, Advanced Squad Leader, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Smash Up

J. R. Tracy
United States
New York
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We had a baker's dozen tonight for a little hobbity action, some cards, and a bit of wargaming.

Dave, Scott, El Rios, and Bill played Smash Up, with Dave's zombies grabbing the first game when Dave somehow killed his own minions for the final victory points. El Rios countered in the second game with his alien dinosaurs, using a clever gimmick of abducting his own dinos off the table and deploying them again for points. Another fun session of this game, with more interesting combos revealing themselves.


El Rios prepares to howl

Middle Earth got a workout at the other end of the table in anticipation of The Hobbit. Oliver, Sean, Dutch, Natus, and Herr Fuchs first tried the classic cooperative Lord of the Rings. It looked like a breeze for the furry footed folk, as the party made it all the way to Mordor intact. Unfortunately, the Dark Lord was merely toying with them, as a series of brutal events smashed them one by one, with Nate succumbing for the final blow.


Apparently one does simply walk into Mordor


Natus glimpses his fate in the cards

Next, they tried the new(ish) version of Knizia's The Hobbit, another semi-cooperative. Here the party represents dwarves, making their way through four adventures on their way to the Lonely Mountain. They dodged Smaug in Lake Town and were about to reclaim their old haunts when they realized Sean was about to win handily. At that point the rest of the party cooperated to sink the venture Cylon-style. An embittered Sean only steamed a moment or two before they realized the near-encounter with Smaug had actually ended the game, leaving Sean the victor though the party itself apparently failed in its quest. Somewhat confusing, with a 'first among equals' victory construct, but I think most liked the game once they understood the end-game elements.


There, but not back again

Campoverdi and Jim continued our 200th annivesary gaming trend of the last few weeks with Mr. Madison's War. Jim took Great Britain while Campo handled the US. The Americans soon owned the Great Lakes, and thanks to a few naval victories (via cardplay) had an early lead. Jim fought back on the ground, though, closing the gap. A key moment was the fall of Buffalo, good for four VP to Jim. However, Campo played Incendiary Event, burning Buffalo to the ground to deny Jim the VPs and garner two VPs for himself! There was a lot of discussion about the card play, which could be interpreted a couple different ways. As it stands, it was good for a six point swing, which was essentially the American lead after two years of war. At that point they packed it in. They both enjoyed it a great deal, finding it faster and easier than Amateurs to Arms, albeit perhaps not as rich thematically.


Brock sifts through the ashes of Buffalo

Finally, Dr. Rob and I banged out an ASL playtest for a scenario to be included in the upcoming MMP Winter Offensive pack. This uses a new board, marked by hills and orchards. Rob's Germans were challenging my Belgians near the Dyle in May, 1940. One of the appeals of the design is the appearance of the VCL Mk VI/c47, a mechanical marvel. This Belgian AFV had to be staked into the ground to fire, which translates into some real difficulties in game terms. Still, its 47mm main armament was more than a match for the armored car and halftracks in the German order of battle.


Squareheads moving up with an armored car lurking in support

In our situation, Rob had to storm across a bridge or enter on the flanks to secure three of five objectives dispersed across the new board. As soon as they threatened the objectives, a pair of the VCLs would appear to support the overmatched Belgian infantry. In the meantime, the Belgians would have to rely on machineguns, an antitank rifle, and a mortar to hold off the German AFVs. Unfortunately for me, I either could not hit or could not penetrate the German armor, with even a 47mm shell bouncing off the paper-thin turret armor of Rob's scout car. I was able to drag it out the full six turns but my poor infantry went down squad by squad, and though my VCLs claimed a halftrack they were both knocked out by the German ATR. Still, a fun, interesting situation that should be competitive with a couple tweaks.


The plucky Belgies gave it their all

Next week, a little more 1812 action, with either the Academy game or the old Columbia classic!

JR
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