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Wherever the Dice Take Me :: Remember the Alamo!

Scott Nunemaker
United States
Springfield
Virginia
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I've been hungry for some more variety in solitaire games. I can only play Onirim and Friday so many times. I decided to pick up a couple of Victory Point Games solitaire titles.

So, tonight, the (teeny-weenie little red Victory Point Games) die took me to a solitaire wargame.

I decided to try A Blood-Red Banner: The Alamo.

Here are six things to know:

1. The Battle of the Alamo was a legendary battle fought during The Texas Revolution in 1836 (right around this time of year...late February, early March). A couple hundred Texians (Mexican texans) were defending their position in the Alamo (an old mission church and hospital) against 1500-ish Mexican soldiers under Mexican President Santa Anna. It was a no-win situation for the Texians. The Alamo would fall (but always remembered). This game attempts to recreate the feel of this battle from the Texian point of view.

2. Victory Point Games prints games on demand (likely in small batches). Therefore, the components are lackluster compared to big publishers. However, their games are reasonably priced and many titles can be upgraded for a premium. I found the quality to be more than acceptable for the price I paid.

3. Most of their titles come in poly zip-lock bags. Highly portable! Yeah! I travel often. I will have no trouble packing a couple of these games in my luggage. This title comes in a bag that is about 4.5"x11". Of course, you can usually opt to upgrade titles and receive a box and mounted map.



4. The game is meant to be just as much a history lesson as it is a board game. The event cards provide important bits of information that help explain the historic battle. In some respect, it's more of a teaching tool than a game. This is far from a heavy wargame. (VP rates it a 2 out of 9 on a complexity scale)
For Example the "Blood Lust" event floods the board with any unplaced Mexicans, and the "Long Rifles" event gives a quick tidbit on the types of weapons at play here. This is not a simulation, but a history lesson for sure. In fact the rule book comes with optional rules that encourage you to explore "what-if" situations.



5. The game involves a ton of luck. Most decisions and outcomes depend on die rolls and random card text. It didn't bother me, and I still had plenty of decisions to make about where to move and what column to attack. It's solitaire, the AI needs to be somewhat random or it would just be a puzzle.

At the beginning of the game I had Davey Crockett and William Travis well placed to defend against Col. Romero and Col. Duke. Mexicans advance and retreat along the colored arrows in a linear manner while the Texians can move along the wall and in-and-out of The Alamo.



6. You never really win the battle. However, you "win" the game by surviving all 24 event cards. The game does a really good job of capturing the onslaught of advancing troops with limited defenses. However, The Alamo space has some decent defensive abilities represented by the blue arrows and dashed lines (adjacency modifications). Close attacks get bonus DRMs. By the end of the game, I was really feeling surrounded and even lost Davey Crockett on the wall to the advancing Col. Romero. Meanwhile Travis was in the Alamo defending all the other advancements. The "Ladders & Crowbars" card appeared at the end of the game. All of a sudden the advancing enemy had a fresh supply of tools to facilitate storming The Alamo. This event really hit home that I was under siege!



I enjoyed playing this light non brain-burning game and learning about this part of American history. This would be a great game to include in American History classes. I look forward to trying more of their solitaire titles!
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Thu Feb 13, 2014 7:22 am
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    Wherever the Dice Take Me :: Painted some minis last night

    Scott Nunemaker
    United States
    Springfield
    Virginia
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    A few months ago I decided to try my hand at painting (and hopefully playing) miniatures. After a good amount of searching, I decided on the Wyrd Miniatures world of Malifaux. They have an interesting theme, nice models to paint, and most of all, require very few minis to get started. Why not? I refuse to play until I get these painted.

    This is my first attempt at painting minis. I have a lot to learn.

    Seamus was the first one to get painted. It's 99% complete. I may touch up some areas and add some 3D terrain. All in all, I'm fairly satisfied. I definitely struggle with flesh tones, and eyes are nearly impossible to paint. However, I keep telling myself that this is my first of many miniatures to get painted. I'll keep practicing. I think, perhaps, I need an even smaller brush. My smallest right now is a 3/0...not small enough to get highlights and eyes on tiny little faces. I also want to upgrade to the kolinsky sable brushes....supposedly worth the investment.

    Here's Seamus. This was completed before last night.



    Last night I wanted to work on one of the Rotten Belles. Here is where I started from last night. I pretty much had base colors and shading. I was a little nervous about the hair for some reason so I left it primer black:


    Last night I built up the colors on the dress and skin. I also tackled the hair. I'm actually happy with how it turned out. I'm still struggling with flesh. Luckily these are zombie-ish types of ladies. I think I still need to go back and add some contrast to the face though.

    I'll also need to finish up the lacing on the front (not sure how). Finally, I'm not too crazy about the brush strokes on the back of the dress either. Though, truthfully, it looks better in person. Hopefully, I can make finishing touches tonight.




    I'm glad to be making progress. Three more Belles to go! At least the dreaded flesh has been started.



    Last night the dice took me to the world of painting Malifaux. I have a lot to learn about this part of the hobby, but it's a nice and relaxing way to spend a couple of quiet hours after the kids and wife go to bed.
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    Sun Jan 26, 2014 4:14 pm
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    Wherever the Dice Take Me :: Topping off the week in Manhattan

    Scott Nunemaker
    United States
    Springfield
    Virginia
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    It's been a cold and blustery week here in the DC area. With the MLK holiday and three snow days (it doesn't take much to close schools around here), I've been spending quite a bit of time entertaining my kids. Frankly, I was burnt out by Friday night.

    As luck would have it, my seven year old daughter happened to discover my copy of Manhattan and asked to play. I have to say, I was a little bit hesitant since the game can be pretty cut-throat. She's pretty sensitive (especially when it's past her bedtime).

    However, I was very impressed. She caught on very quick after the second round. Initially she just wanted to build big skyscrapers and wasted many pieces in this pursuit. With some coaching, she quickly became a worthy adversary. In fact, she could give Donald Trump a run for his money!

    I think the 2-player format is far from ideal with this game. The length was a little too long to hold her interest. However, I think it was a worthwhile abstract game of area control to introduce her to.

    So, today, the dice took me to Manhattan. We got a taste for the cut-throat world of land development and the prestige of building BIG!

    Now if only someone would reprint Big City!



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    Sat Jan 25, 2014 4:47 am
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