Volley Fire: A Wargaming Blog from the 1st Minnesota

A blog written by members of the 1st Minnesota Historical Gaming Group.

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All Quiet On The Western Front (Or Another Fantastically Strange Game of Cataclysm)

Gordon J
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Eagan
Minnesota
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My game group, The First Minnesota, has been playing some Cataclysm the last few weeks via Vassal & Discord, and as always with my plays of this game, it has proved to be entertaining and produced another weird unique game experience.

The game started out normal enough with Japan getting to work in China, Germany building up, the French bolstering it's border defenses, the usual.

Then the game turned almost exclusively to the East. The Russian player began building up a massive force on the edges with Japan--almost to the point of only having one Russian army in the West, and Japan itself was trying to take everything it could, but it was a slog as American Aid poured into the Chinese forces and forced a lot of tough battles for the Japanese. Germany was struggling early on trying to ramp itself up, and France did an above average job of getting two fortresses out.

Russia was the one to start the festivities by attacking Poland, and soon continued West taking out Germany in East Prussia and Silesia. It was looking real bad for Germany as the Reds were at the gates of Berlin. The Russians had even penetrated into Yugoslavia and was even threatening Italy!!

Halfway through 39-40 this was the West:

From gallery of patton55


But Germany came back. The beginning of the turn was just bad luck f or the Germans as the Russians had pulled every chit/piece they needed in the absolute correct order. Germany was close to falling. But then the Germans bounced back and pushed the Russians back and had attacked into Russia itself. By this time both Germany, Russia, and Japan were at Total War and the world is at Global War:

From gallery of patton55


In the east, the Japanese were pounding the Russians, but the Soviets kept making their Stability Tests.

From gallery of patton55


So what about the West? Where are the Democracies you say? You hear that? Do you? That's right you don't, it's all quiet in the West.

From gallery of patton55


Once Russia became the focal point, Italy, Germany, and Japan did very little to provoke the West. I was playing U.S. and France, I think in 39-40 we got provoked once, which allowed the UK and France to finally form an alliance, a roll that we had botched three times the previous year. But the alliance does no good if you are not getting provoked. Russia was teetering on the edge of defeat and we could do nothing, because even once we finally got to Mobilization, we couldn't attack. We had no flags to do a DoW. Finally Britain, desperate to get into the action "attacked" German allied Denmark and set themselves up there for the next round:

From gallery of patton55


France was ripe to attack Germany, I wanted to, but I had no flags to do a DoW. I tried to attack Benelux, just to do something, anything, but failed the roll to allow me to attack a neutral.

I had never had a game where the West was this cut out from the main action of the game, so strangled for flags. This was not poor play on the West, I have played Cataclysm a ton, it was just all the action was in the east, and when Germany does NOTHING to provoke you, what are you supposed to do?

Despite having absolutely NOTHING to do for so much of the game, I am still having a blast. As the Americans as well in this game, I have done everything you can to stay in the game, by giving aid to China, which really did slow down the Japanese and allowed me to get provoked quite a bit for the US player early in the game. I was able to break off trade with Japan very early in the game and got Lend Lease up and running.

Hopefully the West can finally strike Germany before it's too late.

From gallery of patton55
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Tue Sep 22, 2020 2:53 pm
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SLAM DUNK! (Patton55's Top 20 Played Solo Games of 2020

Gordon J
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Minnesota
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MY LIST: SLAM DUNK! (Patton55's Top 20 Played Solo Games of 2020

This is for the annual Top 200 Solo games of the year voting that takes place right now:

https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/276749/top-solo-games-met...


From gallery of patton55


See the link above for more detail, but here is the list...

MY TOP 20 PLAYED SOLO GAMES OF 2020:

1.Marvel Champions
2.Terminator Genisys: Rise of the Resistance
3.Cthulhu Death May Die
4.Atlantis Rising
5.Gloomhaven Jaws of the Lion
6.This War of Mine
7.Darien Apocalypse
8.Crowbar! (by Flying Pig Games)
9.Back to the Future: Back in Time (The Prospero Hall game)
10.Escape From Hades (by Hollanspiele Games)
11. Obsession
12. Days of Ire
13.Stalingrad Inferno on the Volga
14.Comancheria
15.Ghost Stories
16.Horrified
17.Castle Itter
18.Hellenica
19.Wonder Woman
20.Niepodległa
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Mon Sep 21, 2020 7:33 am
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First Minnesota Catwalks Cataclysm (or Extremely Fit German Foreign Exchange Students Head to Sweden For Spring Break)

Gordon J
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Minnesota
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Well a gaggle of us gathered for some Friday Night fun. This time we played some of GMT's Cataclysm: A Second World War. This is a sandbox type of WW2 war-game or maybe what one could call the most complicated beer & pretzels game ever. It had been some time since Patrick & I played it, and it was the first time playing for some of the others.

The players:

Sobhi--Germany
Patrick--Japan/Italy
Todd--United Kingdom
Gordy--France/USA
Nick--Russia
Alan and Logan--Observing & Reporting for the League of Nations

And with cake and beer in our hands we got the ball rolling around 8pm.

From gallery of patton55


The early turns usually go pretty quick for this one, but our first turn felt like it took half the night. And early on it was a no-show for the Germans, as France & Russia & Japan had upped their commitment and Russia started a massive build-up near Manchuria before Germany's first boots ever touched the Ruhr.

From gallery of patton55


Things got bad for the Democracies in the 2nd turn as France and Britain tottered close to collapse and could get nothing done in terms of an Alliance as all the action centered in the east and no flags were provoked. America and England couldn't get out of Civilian commitment. But America was able to break the Japan/USA Trade agreement early on. Russian build up continued as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra helped build the railroads funnel more troops east and American aid to the Chinese poured into the coast as Japan slogged through some costly victories against the Chinese.

From gallery of patton55


The situation in Europe:

From gallery of patton55


Things will heat up dramatically the next time we play as Germany & Russia will begin mobilization and expect some surprises from the Japanese. The world is close to war, now we'll just see how takes the first shot.

From gallery of patton55
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Sat Aug 22, 2020 2:36 pm
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Suicide of Greece Plays First Minnesota: Friday Night Pericles Gaming Update

Gordon J
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Well, First Minnesota members Sobhi, Michael, Patrick, and Gordy just wrapped up an epic game of Mark Herman's Pericles. In the middle of this pandemic, First Minnesota got a Covid cohort together to tackle Herman's biggest scenario from Pericles. The full ten turn game. If you're going to commit to such an awesome game you might as well go in for the whole experience.

Technically Michael, Sobhi, and I have been gaming since the beginning of April, playing a game of Falling Sky first. Then Patrick joined us for Pericles. So for about 6-7 weeks we played Pericles. Sobhi and Gordy as Athens VS. Michael and Patrick as the Spartans.

From gallery of patton55


I wish I had the time and patience to give this a good turn by turn write up, but with 3 kids running around my house, I'll just give a quick recap of our epic game.

Sometimes you play the game and sometimes the game plays you. I think all of us in this game had those moments of "What the hell did I just do?" or "Why did I play that?" or "What the hell is going on?" Some turns were a comedy routine of errors. War is hell in Pericles, the best laid plans can be wrecked by the chaos of the war turns in this game. When you win your issues and then place them face down onto the map, it's great tension. You go around and around in turn order placing your face down action markers. Never knowing what your opponents are up to. Sometimes, you change your plan mid stream to counter what you "Think" your enemy might be doing.

The early part of this game was all Athens, as we moved and attacked and raided with aggression. But somewhere in the midpoint of the game things changed and it became a Spartan playground, as Sobhi and I lost our footing and our way.

The end of the game and if you are Athens this is not what you want to see (damn the Persian Gold!):

From gallery of patton55


Michael, who was in last place most of the game, ended up winning the game:

From gallery of patton55


Playing the "big boy pants" game of Pericles was a great time. This truly is one of those rare gaming moments that could really only happen during a time like this and on Vassal, as the big scenario would be hard to accomplish on a normal game night. Definitely a monumental First Minnesota moment.

Well done, folks. I had a great time.

From gallery of patton55
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Sat Jun 13, 2020 3:35 pm
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First Minnesota Friday Night Gaming: You Can't Keep Us Down Edition

Gordon J
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Eagan
Minnesota
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You can't stop First Minnesota. Even though we have scattered to the four corners, gaming continues nonetheless. We may have denied our Mecca to play games in (The Source Comics & Games), but many have have gotten creative in setting up games. Some have turned to Table Top Simulator something I haven't used but I hear is pretty good to play games. Steam also has some games like Twilight Struggle and Labyrinth to play as well. But Michael, Sobhi, and I used the old stand-by Vassal to play some Falling Sky. Craig would have joined us but he was a late scratch due to not feeling good--hope you're doing better now my friend!

From gallery of patton55


Even though there was only 3 of us we had the A.I. bot play the blue guys, the Adeui. It worked out well. Michael played the Averni, Sobhi the yellow ones (the Belgea), and I took on the evil empire, no not the Yankees, The Romans. The game at the moment we stopped:

From gallery of patton55


We didn't finish as it was Sobhi's first time playing and it had been awhile for Michael, and even though I'm a veteran it is just a crunchy deep game to grasp. Now it's not on the level of Pendragon: The Fall of Roman Britain but it's hard. It's a deceiving game because the board is just as big as Cuba Libre's board, but don't the actions are all a little bit different than other COIN games.

Michael and Sobhi did quite well. I played the Romans too conservatively. Sure I was roaming around with the equivalent of the Death Star, destroying all things in my path. I didn't spread out, so at the point in the game we stopped, the board is quite yellow and green and blue.

It was a great game. We'll continue on with the game hopefully soon.

Playing Falling Sky reminded me of a few years ago when Volko was in town and had First Minnesota do a couple playtest sessions, one of them that took place at 6am in the morning!

From gallery of patton55


From gallery of patton55


and reminded me of all the COIN games we have done in the past:

From gallery of patton55


So, let's keep the community of gaming going. Couple of the other First Minnesota LET'S GAME THREADS (you all are welcome to pop in and set up a game if you want):

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2398094/twin-cities-gamers-...

and this one:

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/2397496/i-want-play-online

Here is to more happy gaming opportunities. Here is to not letting the crap get you down too much. Enjoy everyone and take care.

From gallery of patton55
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Sat Apr 4, 2020 2:39 pm
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First Minnesota Friday Night Gaming: Hellenica, 18xx, Enemy Action, Dungeon Degenerates, and Much More

Gordon J
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Eagan
Minnesota
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The First Minnesota once again gathered at The Source Comics & Games for some gaming this last Friday.

Things got going at 10am as Alan and Jim with some Enemy Action--sounded like Alan had a tough time, but he'll chime in later with his notes on that. When I got there they were setting up for some Victory in the Pacific:

From gallery of patton55


Gordy, Brent, and Dan played some Hellenica:

From gallery of patton55


Black Sox Dave showed up for a little bit:

From gallery of patton55


Brent played Sparta, Gordy had Athens, and Dan took Corinth. We all got the arms race going early and built up for a large part of the game. Dan never went to war with anyone, Gordy and Brent clashed mainly on the seas. It was close in the end, both Athens and Sparta got the victory conditions, but Gordy got the tie breaker for the win. Hellenica is a great 4x style game, lots of great decisions to make, great chaos events to spice things up.

From gallery of patton55


Who the hell are these guys and what do they think they're doing? Don't they know they're not allowed in these parts?

From gallery of patton55


Oh, that's Brian and Michael playing some Combat Commander! You know, you remember, Combat Commander, right?

From gallery of patton55


The 18xx Mafia, of course, was at it again. And other gaming:

From gallery of patton55


Who do I spot here? It's Bill, our treasurer! And in the background that's Logan sporting a hell of a mustache! He'll be staring in the next Starsky & Hutch.

From gallery of patton55


Brent continued with Dungeon Degenerates with Doug & Co.

From gallery of patton55


And that folks, is how First Minnesota rolls on a Friday Night.

From gallery of patton55
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Wed Mar 11, 2020 4:49 am
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First Minnesota Presents: My Top 14 Wargames of 2019!!

Gordon J
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Minnesota
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Welcome to my list of best light Wargames of 2019.

I haven't actually made it out to F2F gaming a ton this year. But SOLO, I got a crap ton of gaming done this year and as usual bought a "few" games along the way. So, in a way, this is a combination of games I have played and games I bought this year and games I think you should look into.

Some of the ones below are new to 2019, some are just new to me in 2019, and others are just damn good games that got played--and when you have hundreds of games, and it actually gets to the table, that's saying something.

1. 1759: The Siege of Quebec. Super light wargame, mainly a solo game, but plays well probably as a 2-player filler.

From gallery of patton55


2. Freedom!. Greek war of independence. Twilight Struggle meets Stronghold. Plays in about 90 minutes. Good game.

From gallery of patton55


3. Armageddon War: Platoon Level Combat in the End War. Two player (with solo rules) near future chit pull medium war-game. I love me some dice chucking chit pull games!

From gallery of patton55


4. Stalingrad: Inferno on the Volga. Solo block wargame. Light game, takes 60 minutes to play. Love it. This is my kind of game now--I don't have time to play Enemy Action: Ardennes anymore, so this is the kind of wargame that will get to the table nowadays.

From gallery of patton55


5. Crowbar!: The Rangers at Pointe Du Hoc. Storming the beaches of Normandy. Solo light dice chucking wargame, though it probably takes 3-4 hours to play the main scenario. It's epic! I love it.

From gallery of patton55


6. Nights of Fire: Battle for Budapest. Solo and 2-player. Great light thinky wargame. Brian Train co-designer. As the good guys you're not trying to win, as you will get your ass kicked, you're just trying to survive long enough. Great card play and theme for this one.

From gallery of patton55


7. The Devil's to Pay! The First Day at Gettysburg. Herman Luttman wargame, hell yes! And it's chit-pull, what else could you ask for? It's great. Fairly easy, though a 4 hour game to be sure. Recreates the first day of Gettysburg, fun, fun, fun! Lots of chaos in this one.

From gallery of patton55


8. Redvers' Reverse: The Battle of Colenso, 1899. Solo wargame, fairly simple. I love giving orders to my units and not knowing it they will follow them!

From gallery of patton55


9. All Bridges Burning: Red Revolt and White Guard in Finland, 1917-1918. 3-player COIN game set in a lesser known historical period. It's great. You won't get to play it for a few more months, but I playtested the s--- out of this.

From gallery of patton55


10. Gandhi: The Decolonization of British India, 1917 – 1947. 4 player game set in India. Very different COIN, very fresh, great design--I also playtested the s--- out of this. Would like to actually get a 4-player game played. The non-violent factions work and they work well.

From gallery of patton55


11. Star Wars: Rebellion. Damn right, like War of the Ring, Rebellion tells a great story, and has a ton of dice chucking in it. It's pure fun. If you haven't played it, shame on you.

From gallery of patton55


12. Pericles: The Peloponnesian Wars. This game doesn't get enough love. FANTASTIC 4 player game AND FANTASTIC solo game as well. The solo rules in this one are better than the Churchill bots.

From gallery of patton55


13. 7: The Defense of Lwów. Picked this up when I was in Poland this summer--great filler, what, 2o minutes at most?

From gallery of patton55


14. Comanchería: The Rise and Fall of the Comanche Empire. No list would be complete without one of the best solo games out there.

From gallery of patton55


Honorable Mention: Black Orchestra. Great Co-op game. Wargame? who cares! You're trying to assassinate Hitler, close enough!! You have to play this game. SO MUCH FUN.

From gallery of patton55


From gallery of patton55
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Thu Jan 9, 2020 3:36 pm
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First Minnesota Friday Night Gaming (12/27/19): Nuclear War, Freedom, Gloomhaven, The Expanse, 18xx, and So Much More!

Gordon J
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Minnesota
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First Minnesota was out in force to close out the 2019 season. We got into the swing of things early and often at our local hangout The Source Comics & games. We had a good time...You know...ten hours of gaming, eating bad food, laughing, chucking dice, victory yelps, slapping backs, and shooting the shit...the usual First Minnesota fanfare.

Let's get started.

First up, was Bill's Youth Wargame Class was back in action with some Nuclear War:

From gallery of patton55


and some VAST was played and some 1822 appeared on a table:

From gallery of patton55


My friend Craig and I played some FREEDOM! a two player game about the Greek War of Independence, kind of like Twilight Struggle a little with the manner of card play, plus a siege of a city as the main center of action. This was a great medium/light wargame, with plenty of dice chucking action and tension. I give it a thumbs up. Lots of fun.

From gallery of patton55


From gallery of patton55


After Freedom, Alan sauntered by, and Craig, myself, and Alan played THE EXPANSE. Again, this has become a sleeper hit I think here at FM with some of us. Easy to learn, fast to play, no more than two hours, very streamlined area control, take that, sharp elbows type of game.

From gallery of patton55


From gallery of patton55


Some other gaming was bustling around us:

From gallery of patton55


Some Gloomhaven with Doug, Classy, and others:

From gallery of patton55


Brent stepped in later on and we played some Cthulhu Death May Die, a great action pack romp:

From gallery of patton55


The 18xx Mafia working it hard:

From gallery of patton55


The game room all filled up:

From gallery of patton55


And that's how we do it at First Minnesota! Great night of gaming.

From gallery of patton55
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Sat Dec 28, 2019 2:43 pm
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My Summer Wargaming Project: Translating a Battle You've Probably Never Heard About

Gordon J
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So, this summer I spent 6 weeks in Poland. My wife is from a medium sized town in north-east Poland close to the Lithuanian border. That is where I spent most of my time. Any time we head to Europe I try to find some games that I can't get here in America or would be too hard or expensive to have shipped here. Before we even left on our trip a friend of mine

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told me about a game called Semper Fidelis: Bitwa o Lwów 1918-1919. People I game with know if there is a game out there that has anything to do with Poland I want to know about it. I love Polish history and I love games about Poland or have a connection to Poland. When I looked at the cover for this game I was instantly hooked.

From gallery of patton55


Yes I am human I get drawn to eye candy sometimes--but it doesn't consume me and a game doesn't have to be beautiful for me to enjoy it, I have a 1st edition copy of Hermann Luttmann's Dawn of the Zeds and it is not a thing of beauty to look at, but it's a great game--I refuse to buy the newer editions.

Anyway.

So, I checked the game out and it looked good.

From gallery of patton55


From gallery of patton55


It reminded me a lot of Polis: Fight for the Hegemony. At least in the sense of how it looked and felt like--both games being kind of wargames, because there is a war going on and you get into combat, but also having some other non-wargamey type of actions and look to it.

From gallery of patton55


The problem was Semper was only in Polish. No English rules, nor any plans for an English edition any time soon. But that did not deter me. I ordered the game before I got to Poland and had it delivered to a person who knew in Gdansk. Even before I had my first night's sleep on Polish ground, I had a new game in my hands!

I determined quickly that I would translate the rules to English. I had a great resource, my wife, who obviously knows Polish and English and could help me out. I thought this might take me the entire summer to do, but ended up only taking me a few weeks. Mainly I ended up translating most the rulebook through Google Translate, which served me well for 80% of the conversion to English rules, but I needed my wife to iron out the bugs that would pop up along the way.

Like, I translated one part and it said this certain action was called "Meals and Refreshments." What the hell does that mean? Obviously, I could have figured it out eventually, but my wife was like, well, it means you get new troops during that turn--thus, REINFORCEMENTS. Somehow Meals and Refreshments means Reinforcements to Google Translate.

From gallery of patton55


From gallery of patton55


So, my wife would help me out when Google failed me. Within that 6 week time frame I not only translated it, but got it to the table and was able to play it a few times.

AND, LUCKILY...the game is as good as I thought it might be or hoped to be.

From gallery of patton55


From gallery of patton55


It's not perfect translating a game to English, because there are cards in this game, so I had to be creative on how I best put English into the cards--so I just ended up sleeving them and cutting and adding slips of paper of what the cards said. I also had to translate the Player Aid and the Combat Effects table as well. So, when I play this it takes a tad more work to play the game but not that much.

Overall this is a great game and for me it does feel a little like Polis--Semper is more of a straight up fight whereas Polis is a Civ/wargame/euro, empire building. In Semper Poland and Ukraine are fighting over Lwow in 1918-1919. There are combat actions and fighting, but you have to have supply and keep your troops morale up as well. You can build barricades and redoubts, and you get bonuses when you attack a space from more than one direction, getting flanking bonuses. But you can also spend actions to try to persuade the Jewish Militia or the Austrians who are just hanging out as well to come and fight on your side.

You have commander cards that give you your base amount of actions each round and the amount of cards you can draw each turn and have a special ability that is unique to just them. Commanders can be killed in battle and you only have so many of them. Some commanders are better than others, and sure you can dump a guy whenever you want, but you suffer Morale checks if you just willy-nilly get rid of a guy for no reason. Best time to get rid of a commander is after he loses a fight.

From gallery of patton55


From gallery of patton55


Lot's of fighting and positioning and area control in this game. It's a lot of fun and I highly suggest it to anyone check it out. If you like Polis you'll probably like this game as well. I have uploaded the English translated rules on BGG of the Semper page.

It's too bad this game didn't come out in English and had wider distribution--it was made and produced by the Polish government (the Historical Remembrance of Polish History or something like that). And I think people would really like this game, but I'm sure they thought the topic of this game might not appeal to most people. But it's a great game and fun, so even if you didn't know about it, it would still be fun.
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Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:19 pm
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First Minnesota Friday Night Gaming: Hellenes, Iron & Oak, Watergate, The Battle of Five Armies, and Much More

Gordon J
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Minnesota
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From gallery of patton55


It's always a silky smooth time at The Source Comics & Games.

This week there was a small bundle of First Minnesota folk doing some wargames early:

Hellenes with Chicago Jared and Steve the Tall:

From gallery of patton55


From gallery of patton55


Iron & Oak with Rich and Puzzlemaster:

From gallery of patton55


The Puzzlemaster holds court:

From gallery of patton55


My friend Craig and I played some Battle of the Five Armies:

From gallery of patton55


And some Mechs & Minions:

From gallery of patton55


We've got elbow room at First Minnesota:

From gallery of patton55


Bill & Richard cranking out some euros, and yes, our very own local 18xx Mafia:

From gallery of patton55


Some Brass with Mathew and (David?):

From gallery of patton55


Hanging out:

From gallery of patton55


My friend and I ended the night with a game of Watergate. I highly, highly recommend this game. 13 Days is good, but this is even better. History is great and highly thematic. I played the newspaper editor and my buddy got to play Nixon.

From gallery of patton55


I got the win with none other than a power combo of Woodward and Bernstein:

From gallery of patton55


Great night of gaming. We had around 30 people, not bad for a beautiful Friday summer day.

From gallery of patton55


From gallery of patton55
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:31 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

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