ones upon a game

I am almost exclusively a solo gamer and look at the gaming scene seen through those eyes. I also literally like alliteration. TWITTER: @onesuponagame

Archive for Kevin L. Kitchens

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Conflict of Heroes Solo -- Won't Be March, But Will Be Soon...(?)

Kevin L. Kitchens
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As a solo gamer, I love official solo variants to great games and Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! – Operation Barbarossa 1941 (second edition) is a great game. It can be played solo, but I found the back and forth move-move-move-move-move to be like a strobe light to an epileptic (no offense to epileptics). Academy Games, Inc. has had planned (since Lincoln was in office it seems) the Conflict of Heroes: Eastern Front – Solo Expansion.

Not only has it been long awaited and long anticipated, it's also been long delayed.

Gamers jumped on this early on with the release of the second edition in 2012 which was updated to accommodate one solo design by legend John H. Butterfield. However that solo version was scrapped somewhere along the way in favor of the current, new (and improved?) design.

Of course the delays have prompted a ton of jokes and cynical posts in the various CoH forums, but then the latest from Academy Games promised a March 2015 delivery (release announcement for March 2015).

Hurray!

However, we barely made it into March before more threads of "It's late!" arose. I decided to check with Academy directly to see what the current situation was.

Quote:
I know Uwe and Academy are getting beat up on BGG over the Conflict of Heroes solo expansion. Last report from Academy was March shipping and while we're only on March 4th, people are already crying foul.

I don't want to jump on that bandwagon of course, so rather than go with speculation, I figured it would be better to just ask.

Can you confirm if this is still on of if there is some sort of delay and a new ship date?

I know it's been a long process (3+ years), but the excitement (and scrutiny) of this release is very high. Any assurances and updates would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
Kevin Kitchens
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I received this reply...

Quote:
Hello Kevin,

Thank you for contacting us directly. I'm sorry to say that we will not ship in March. I see that there is a very frustrated group on BGG about the lack of information from Academy, and I will be posting more info there in the next few days to try to help with that. All I can say is that we're finally in the home stretch and the game will be out soon. I know this has been promised many times before, but everything is finalized now.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thanks,

So... it won't be this month. But "will be out soon".

Seeking a little clarification, I asked:

Quote:
When you say home stretch, does that mean home stretch in that it's being printed, but not yet arrived for distibution (sic)... or home stretch in the final translation and has not even gone to the printers?

Is there any chance, as I suggested on BGG, for Academy to produce a print and play, English only, set of cards ONLY for the first mission so that people can see the game in action? Right now there's very little beyond a promise for people to wrap their head around.

Academy reply:

Quote:
Yes, the files are finally at the printers, but are not here for distribution. Thanks for the thoughtful suggestions. We are thinking of putting parts of a few of the firefights up on BGG and Facebook. I asked Uwe, and tomorrow he is going to send me the ones he wants to include. So I would like to get something tangible out there for you all.

Thank you for your support and ideas!

So there it is... news should be forthcoming in the next day or so, hopefully with a realistic timeframe for getting our hands on this expansion. In addition, more details on how the cards work and the scenarios should be available soon.
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Tue Mar 10, 2015 3:13 pm
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Going Solo With Heroes of Normandie

Kevin L. Kitchens
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When Heroes of Normandie came across my radar, I thought it looked like an awesomely fun game and one that would be easy to play solo (as most wargames can be). I have acquired quite of bit of the various expansions and units (though I'd love the Dust Tactics: Revised Core Set expansion from the Kickstarter, but the only time I find it, it's overseas and shipping kills it (but that's another issue).

HoN includes a couple of mechanics that make pure solo just a tad difficult. Strategy cards, as always, provide an interesting but not insurmountable dilemma. However, the hidden activations are the real bugaboo. Each side gets a certain number of orders each turn and they place these (with normally one decoy) on the counters that could potentially activate for combat during that turn. Each side then activates their #1, #2, etc... until all activations are complete.



Several months ago, I created a set of draw chits for the game. Grey for Germans, White for Allies. Every unit on the board had a number chit placed on them and then each turn, each side selected a number of these to go into their side's draw cup. (Each chit had a corresponding "D" chit for going into the cup.) The number added to the cup was based on the number of orders the side had that turn + one. This kept things uncertain for both sides. Even when the last was to be pulled, you never knew which it was going to be, so had to plan accordingly.




This worked fine for the most part, but I still found myself as one side or the other making decisions because I knew that such and such unit was not even able to be pulled -- either leaving them alone or taking action against them.

So I have now modified my solo variant somewhat to make it more of a solo player versus a 1/2 player-1/2 AI opponent. The player will still need to make some logical decisions for the enemy, but it should still present an exciting challenge.

This probably works better with a enemy defender vs. the side with clearly defined mission objectives. But that depends on your level of comfort making more or less decisions.



I started the first mission of the Heroes of Normandie: D-DAY Scenarios Pack using the straight chit-pull and it looked like a clear Allied victory. I switched the Axis to this revised system and it not only was more exciting and eventful, but the Axis ended up winning the mission.

I'll write something up more formal and submit to the files section, but for now here's a brief overview.

1. Orders are determined as per the rules each turn. Count the number of stars on your recruitment panel and options.
2. AI side gets one extra order each turn. To increase the difficulty, you could give them two extra.
3. Player puts markers on the units he wishes to activate up to his number of orders. No decoys are necessary, but can be used to fool AI target priority.
4. AI puts numbered markers on all his units at the beginning of the game. These numbers stay with the units. Each turn the AI puts the corresponding "D" draw chit into the draw cup for each available unit. Any unit could possibly be drawn during the turn.
5. AI always gets +1 to the hand size. Default is four, AI would have five each turn. If the AI earns a bonus card via gameplay, this would add to the base five hand size.
6. Play AI cards where they make sense. Where a tough opponent would play them.
7. If an AI unit gets killed or activated during the turn and its chit is drawn after, that counts as a valid draw. In a two-player game, the order is lost if a unit activates for Op Fire or is killed, so this keeps that in play.
8. Each side alternates play with the initiative player going first. The player will play their "1" unit, then draw a chit to determine the AI's "1" unit. When the AI unit's activation is complete, you can just flip over the numbered counter on them to show they've been used.
9. After all activations are complete, each side moves its remaining unused units as normal.

When deciding who to attack, the AI should look for what best benefits their side and self preservation. Attacks should be prioritized as follows.

1. Player's unit in range that has an unrevealed order token and in assault range of AI current unit.
2. Player's unit in range that has an unrevealed order token and in fire range of AI current unit.
3. Player's unit in range that has an unrevealed order token and in assault or fire range of another AI unit.
4. Closest and most killable player unit.
5. Closest player unit.

Obviously the player is going to still have to make decisions for the AI in regards to target, movement, etc.... but those are really simple for most players to make in terms of "playing as you would play." Yes, you may know the AI holds an opportunistic fire card, but you have to just play out those scenarios as realistically as possible.



Would love to hear your thoughts on this variant and any suggestion you have to supplement the target decisions, etc. This is not set in stone by any means, but a guideline to allow you to play HoN a little more often with a challenging and variable "opponent".
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Mon Mar 9, 2015 9:09 pm
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Band of Brothers - AI Defense Deck

Kevin L. Kitchens
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As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I've been playing Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles and looking at a particular solo variant being discussed and developed in this thread (Solo Play Discussion) for the past couple of years.

This variant, fleshed out by BGG member p4warrior and with the blessing and interest of BoB Designer Jim Krohn allows the defender role in most of the scenarios to be controlled by an AI deck of cards with very little decision making by the player.

So while the variant had seemed to have stabilized, many were waiting for a downloadable cardset to be able to use it. Being fairly decent with Photoshop, I figured "Why not" since no one else had done it. I simply took his card instructions and laid them out as printable cards, using icons where possible to simplify usage. With that, I present the Band of Brothers AI Defense Deck:



FILES HERE: Band of Brothers - AI Defense Deck
Rules for using the cards in the game are found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GWy-4Jz7J9uvcWRr1C8vhJT2...

To use these, download the card fronts PDF and then your choice of card backs. There are full color and low-ink versions, each with a no-cut line and cut-line option. The card fronts contain a cut line.

The no cut-line backs are for if you have a printer that is consistent enough to let you print the backs on the back of the fronts.

(more printing details on the files page)



So if you've had Screaming Eagles on the shelf and no one to play with, now their is a pretty good solo variant you can go against. Not sure how they will work with Band of Brothers: Ghost Panzer or the upcoming Band of Brothers: Texas Arrows so if you try it, share your findings.

P.S. If there is enough interest, I will put these onto Printer Studio for a professionally printed deck.

FILES HERE: Band of Brothers - AI Defense Deck
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Fri Feb 27, 2015 9:21 pm
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What I've Been Playing Recently

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Nothing formal in terms of reviews, just quick impressions of games I've played recently.

Boots on the Ground - Picked this up middle-east urban combat game on sale (clearance) from Miniature Market. Only sunk about $18 on it, plus shipping. A good thing, IMO, I wasn't too invested in it. Didn't care for it at all. The counters were difficult to punch, the rules were difficult to understand (in that they were poorly written), and the game was difficult to enjoy. Didn't enjoy the high random factor, the lack of opportunity fire, and the setup. Materials (counters, map, cards) were all pretty bad quality. I also learned I much prefer a hex system over a grid, unless diagonal movement is compensated for (this did not, just move any direction for the same cost). A good theme and idea that was poorly executed.

Chrononauts - Time-travelling card game from the makers of Fluxx and all its derivatives (many, many, many derivatives). Goal for multiplayer is to get your time traveller home first by setting the timeline to a certain pattern as well as have all your required mission goals complete. For solitaire, most of the cards are removed from the deck and your goal is to get eight randomly chosen time travellers back home by setting the timeline to their required settings. You only get one pass through the deck to achieve this. Interesting, fast playing diversion. Reasonably priced. Not sure about longevity and many of the humorous intereactions are removed in solo.

Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles - WW2 skirmish game between the Germans and American paratroopers. Great set of rules with some nice unique features, but I'm not sure why I have this in addition to several other games of the same variety (Combat Commander: Europe, Heroes of Normandie, Tide of Iron, and others). Using the v2 ruleset implemented by its younger brother Band of Brothers: Ghost Panzer which streamlines the die rolling and unifies the modifiers to be on the firepower vs. altering the die result. Don't hate it at all and am enjoying the nuances of the game, but not sure if it's just more of the same that I already have. Especially with the Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! – Operation Barbarossa 1941 (second edition) solo expansion (Conflict of Heroes: Eastern Front – Solo Expansion) due in a few weeks.
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Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:41 pm
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The Call of the Whipporwill (an Ambush! story)

Kevin L. Kitchens
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What follows is a short story derived while playing a mission of Ambush!. The narrative this game generates is amazing combining your action choices as well the semi-scripted actions of the enemy. As some of the game is canned, I am being as vague as possible to not spoil anything for anyone who has not played it.

This represents only a small part of the actual mission too. I think generating a story from the entire mission could create a novel... or a screenplay.

I hope you enjoy!

---------------------------------------------

THE STORY BELOW CONTAINS MINIMAL -- IF ANY -- SPOILERS

The Call of the Whipporwill
An Ambush! Story


Things had grown quiet. Too quiet.

There had been sporadic gunfire both ahead of me as well as to my left, across the road. Whose I could not say. I examined the badly wounded soldier lying in the ditch next to me. He looked like I felt. With the guns ahead, I couldn’t risk keeping him with me. He looked like he’d be okay, provided some Gerry patrol didn’t stumble upon him as I had. His right arm dangled useless, so he couldn’t manage a gun. Not that I had one to give him if I wanted to and he’d lost his somewhere in these woods.

Through the trees I could make out a building. Not much details, but there was an unnatural shape the blocked out the blue of the sky. I had to assume the gunfire was coming from there. I could only hope one of my men was on the right side of those guns.

Just then I heard the worst whippoorwill call imaginable. I couldn’t help but smile. Delacroix. Good kid from a farm just outside of Baton Rouge, LA. Just a few weeks ago he was ready to go back home. Then we came across a French farmer with the same last name and he immediately felt a kinship to this place and a revived sense of purpose. The farmer’s son had tried to teach him the call of the local woodlark, but to Delacroix’s tone-deaf ear, it came out the same as his whippoorwill.

The bird call faded to silence. I listened intently, but only heard the sounds of nature: wind through the trees and even real birds calling. Such a beautiful day. Occasionally the smell of smoke from something burning to the south wafted towards us. Not the sweet smell of wood, but sickly manmade oil and gas. And rubber. I hated that smell.

By evading the enemy and trying to get around for a better position, I’d become separated from my men. But they were still in the hands of my seconds Barnes and Cochran, so I knew they’d be on task. Then I’d stumbled across this soldier. He’d mumbled a few things, but not much I could make out. I hadn’t bothered to check his dogs for a name. It didn’t matter. He was one of ours and wounded and I’d help him if I could. I’d dragged him SE to a better position in the woods and…

BOOM!

Ahead of me a rifle reported and a small flock of birds took flight to safer perches.

The whippoorwill called again. It was sounding, looking for some sort of reply. I sought out a reply with my ears, but heard none. Only the same, off-key warbling a la Delacroix. He was getting more frequent.

Impatient.
Nervous.
Afraid.

I started to make a call of my own, to let him know he was not alone when he started one more long call…

CRACK!

The unmistakable sound of a pistol firing to the north and the whippoorwill was cut short. No scream. No fade. Just the echo of silence.

“Stay here,” I said to my charge without thinking. He clearly wasn’t going anywhere on his own. A path ran along the woods toward the building up ahead. I checked my gear and moved quickly into it. I could see the building clearly now. A small stone house. Through the window I couldn’t see anyone, so I moved double time for the shelter of its walls.

As I ran, I expected my view to shift from rural France to Heaven’s gates in an instant, but soon found myself on the dirt right against the cold stone wall. Not my time. Yet. I looked around and saw nothing until my eyes went north. I saw the field my squad was traversing and could see several of men lying prone. Alive or dead I couldn’t tell from here, but like Delacroix felt at the end, I now realized I actually was alone.

Inside the building there was a shuffling as the soldier or soldiers shifted positions, probably looking out the window just a foot or two above me.

“Ich sehe nichts,“ I heard a hushed whisper. I didn’t know what was said, but I knew it wasn’t a shouted order at me. But the language confirmed what I already suspected. “Ruhig, Arschloch!“ barked another, gruffer voice and I knew I had at least two to deal with.

Not wanting to risk a shot when I couldn’t see them, I pulled a grenade from my belt, popped the pin and leapt to my feet. Overeager though I tossed it a little too hard and the pineapple went to the far side of the building. As it went off, I heard screams of panic and both (I could see now it was only two) Germans turned their back to me to face the blast. Of all the rotten... I thought briefly and pulled my last grenade and tossed it in. Again, too eager, but this time it hit the wall and careened back to the soldiers, a lucky strike. But one of the idiots saw it just in time and tossed in out of the building where he thought it’d come from.



I dropped down out of sight, cursing myself for panicking. “When you panic, you stop thinking,“ my dad had always said. He was right. Time to plan this a letter better. No time, you idiot! Kill them! I leapt to my feet again, unslinging my submachine gun and letting go a burst at each of the soldiers. One went down hard with massive leg injuries, the other took a round to his arm and also fell, but was still readying his weapon.

I threw myself through the window to finish him off, but he was too quick and I missed my strike. He lunged at me while I was off-balance and I barely dodged, but he opened a large gash in my forehead just above my left eye. Blood poured down obscuring my vision. I sank to the ground and brought my SMG around, fully expecting a killing blow.

Though the haze I heard as much as saw the soldier stumbling out of the house. I let lose a final blind volley, heard him grunt and crash against a table.

When I came to who knows how long later, I was able to see a little better. The first German was staring at me with open eyes. He was watching me, but not moving as the puddle around his leg continued to grow. The other one who had tried to flee was draped face down with his legs across the table with his torso hanging off the edge. His head was cracked against the hearth of the fireplace. He wasn’t going any further.

But then again, neither was I. This mission was over. I’d failed to secure the objective and lost all my squad in the process. I didn’t know if I’d be able to rescue them all with the Germans still out there. I’d hold out here until dark and see what I could do about any survivors...
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Fri Feb 20, 2015 3:42 pm
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Games That Didn't Click: Warfighter by DVG

Kevin L. Kitchens
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UPDATE! I gave this a second look a few months later and hold a different view: Now We're Back in the Fight

Today I unveil a new segment: Games That Didn't Click, where I will either briefly or longwindedly discuss games that didn't cut it for me as far as solitaire play is concerned. They have since moved on from my collection. While I might have initially liked them (and must have been drawn to it by reputation in order to buy or trade for it), the game just didn't have staying power.

But I'm just one voice, so I've opened this up to everyone via the Games That Didn't Click (for Solitaire Play) GeekList. Surely there are games you feel the same about. So jump on over and share your thoughts.

Now on with my first entry:



Warfighter first hit my radar last year, well after the kickstarter was completed, but before it was actually released. Initial reports from backers were favorable, so I jumped on it and got one of the first retail copies available. I went all in with the 3 card expansions and 1 dice expansions. It was a combo deal at a great price.

When I got it I could immediately see it suffered from component design troubles. The play mat was terribly bad, being unmounted and far too cluttered to actually function with all the cards that would need to be played in a mission. This let to several users including myself creating a variety of alternates to fix that issue. Several of those were highly received and led to DVG correcting the mat for the next release.

Also included were very mini miniatures that were essentially eye candy (or eye cough drops). They added nothing to the game because you had tokens that had to be with each mini to differentiate the soldiers. Also the bullet dice were a cute idea and one to get excited about in pre-release... but proved to be virtually useless in actual play.

Regardless, none of those directly affected the gameplay, which actually was pretty fun. You build up your squad based on points and have three different types of soldiers to choose from. Player soldiers actually get to draw and use cards while the other two were preset and had set actions you could use them for. You'd setup your mission, locations and then start advancing as enemies came at you from all sides.

In all, Warfighter is a decent enough game. I was having a great time even losing, until I learned I'd been misplaying a rule. The misplay was to my benefit and playing correctly would make a tough game even tougher. I was refilling my player hand at the end of each turn. While the rules never said not to, they never said TO do it either. I was just assuming based on other deck builders that I would be doing so. Oops. Now this was going to be really hard.

Frustrated I put the game away. At the time it'd been on my table several days to a week and I wanted a break to try something else. I fully planned to get back to it.

However as the days and weeks and months went on, while the game was not in a closet, but within easy reach, I found myself averting my gaze from it when it I was picking a the next game. Like my experience in school being drafted for a team in PE, I would skip it over, pushing it further and further away from me in my mind and depth chart. It was becoming the weak kid to be picked last.

Again, it wasn't a bad game, just nothing in playing it held my thoughts captive. I never felt like it was something I just had to get back to. There was no moment of the gameplay that I just felt a longing for. Other games I've had, that I've actually played less, hold a warm place in my memory and I look forward to having time to revisit them.

Not so with Warfighter. I finally accepted this reality, that I would never set it up again, and sold it here via the BGG Marketplace. I totally see how others love this one and hope the new owner finds much gaming joy with it.

Wow, so I guess this first one was of the longwinded variety. So what do you think? What solo games did you feel this way about?

Comment below on this one or add your own at the Games That Didn't Click (for Solitaire Play) GeekList.

Thanks for reading!
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Fri Feb 13, 2015 5:49 pm
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Preparing to get Ambush!ed

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Ambush! is one of those OLD wargames. So it can't be any good right? I mean it's got cardboard counters, a paper map, and cards. Nothing like a new wargame that has cardboard counters, paper maps, and cards.

Oh wait.

Actually Ambush! is supposed to be a classic, grail game for the solitaire wargamer. Happy I was able to pick up a copy in a recent US Math Trade (for a copy of Paths of Glory which I just couldn't see myself playing solo).


All set up and one place to go: the rules!


Took the counters through their requisite visit to the Oregon Laminations 2.5mm corner rounder, printed off the squad record sheets, as well as the updated rule book. Now I'm reading through the rules getting ready for the first play of this classic.

Rolled my squad, took the gear from the demo squad as required.

More as I go...



Squad (with their fresh 'cuts) is chomping at the bit to get onto that plexiglass!
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Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:03 pm
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Across 5 Aprils - A Very Solitaire-y Wargame

Kevin L. Kitchens
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Back in 1992, Bill Clinton was about to be elected the United States' 42nd president, my son had not even been born yet, and Victory Games released the multi-battle civil war wargame game Across 5 Aprils.

Had not heard of this one until it was mentioned last year in a video by the Hamtag Trio (tried to locate the video and couldn't find it). So when I saw a copy up for auction recently, I was able to grab it. Excellent copy too, completely unpunched. More on the game components itself in a full review.

The game is by noted designer Eric Lee Smith, now of the digital Shenandoah Studio and co-creator of the classic WW2 solo game Ambush! (with John H. Butterfield which I also just acquired and cannot wait to play).

The only other Smith title I'd played before was 1985's Mosby's Raiders which I bought new in 1988 or so and carried around with me for over 25 years before finally playing. Did not find the experience all that enjoyable however. But A5A is a different story.

It's a two player game, or should I properly say, it's a two-sided game that can be played by one or two players (or more I suppose if you're into committee decision-making, ick).

Each turn, all active formations have 1-2 chits put into a draw cup along with a combat marker for each side. You draw a chit, activate that formation and move all its units. However combat only can occur each turn when the combat chit is pulled. So many times you won't in position or fully in position to get the outcome you want. It's a great system that makes the game fully solo friendly. 99% of the time you can simply decide "what is the best move for this unit at this time". I only had one time where I had a plan for the Rebels that might be undone by the Union if they went a certain direction. But since I knew what both sides were going to do, I wasn't sure how to resolve the problem. Fortunately the order of the chit pull took care of that for me and it was a moot point.

The Rebel was trying to reclaim a second objective just before the end of the first day which would have meant a victory. He made it to the point where he could try, but lost the skirmish and had to retreat.

This was all in the Battle of Pea Ridge, which took place in March 1862. It's one of the game's smaller battles of the five included.

So, while I'm not big on writing AARs, we now join the conclusion of Pea Ridge, already in progress.


Prior to Turn 13:



After an early capture of two objectives, I realized the confederates were not built to steamroll over the much larger Union forces. They held the easternmost objective of Elk Tavern, but quickly lost several skirmishes and the forces were reduced to two formations: The Missouri State Guard and McCullough's Division. The union aggressors forces were still comprised of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th division as well as the Right Wing and Independents.

McCullough on the run and the Mo Guard holed up in Elkhorn Tavern.

Turn 13 (9:00 am):
Missouri Guard - Shores up for the upcoming assault.
CSA COMBAT! - McCullough doesn't like his chances alone against the 3rd Division, so he retreats. No pursuit.
Union 2nd - Stays put on the Union HQ to prevent any takeover.
Union Right Wing - Advances up road to just outside Elkhorn.
McCullough - Skirts the union defense to the north road hoping to reach his Confederate confederates at Elkhorn.
Union 4th - Advances into the woods south of Elkhorn.
UNION COMBAT! - No engagements.
Union 1st - Advances to cut off McCullough to prevent reinforcing Elkhorn.
Union 3rd - Pursues McCullough up road and catches him to his rear.
Union Independent - Advances to the adjacent west of Elkhorn.

The Rebels hope to hold out this one objective. The union is betting on a full assault to drive them out.



Turn 14 (10:00 am):

UNION COMBAT! - Oh dear... premature to say the least as the forces were not in place! Union Independents don't like their 3:10 odds and thus retreat from battle. However to the west, the 3rd and the 1st have McCullough surrounded. Even so the odds are only 7:6 in their favor. (note: the defender was in an orchard which to me should provide cover, but none was listed on the terrain chart, so it reverted to open terrain). Rolls were CSA: 1 and USA: 6 which modify to 0 and 7 respectively... McCullough is eliminated.
Union Right Wing - Holds position.
Union 2nd - Advances toward Elkhorn since the threat of McCullough is removed.
Union 3rd - Advances to woods NW of Elkhorn.
Union Independents - Advances up the road the east flank of Elkhorn.
CSA COMBAT! - No engagements.
Union 1st - Holds.
Missouri Guard - Units west of Elkhorn fall back behind to force Union to move more to engage.
Union 4th - Advances to the east of Elkhorn.


Elkhorn is surrounded, if the union can close and engage before time is up.


The last turn all comes down to chit pull. I should probably have closed the union ranks a little tighter to force the confederates to possibly retreat should they draw the battle chit first. However, they are holed up with 7 attack and 12 defense, so a full assault was the best option (notes written prior to playing turn 15)

Turn 15 (11:00 am):

It all comes down to this last turn.

Union 2nd - Advances adjacent to SE Elkhorn position.
CSA COMBAT! - Bad for the union, could force the 2nd out of position. 7:3 odds favor the CSA at 2:1 with a 1 column shift left to 1:1. But the rolls don't go the CSA way... their 1 becomes a 0 and the union rolled a 3. The 2nd stands its ground while confederate artillery unit is destroyed.
Missouri Guard - A fortunate pull. They advance a new artillery unit into the tavern, bringing it's now 8 defense up to a 16.
Union Right Wing - Advances to west of Elkhorn prepping for final battle.
UNION COMBAT! - Bad timing again! Not enough forces in play, but there is a slim chance of victory. 5:16 odds for the Union (1:3 with no shift). Union rolls a 1 to the CSA 3, which adjust to 1 and 2, but at 1:3 odds, it does not go the union's way. One artillery unit is destroy from the 2nd and the remaining attackers have to retreat.

The Union Concedes the loss of Elkhorn Tavern (no point in just moving the final units)
The CSA manages a Marginal Victory.



As I said, this is really fun game. Once you know the rules it will play very quickly. The chit pull simulates the fog of war and the ability to command large groups of soldiers during this period of time.

If you get the opportunity, you should check it out. Each battle and the PDF rulebooks are on Vassal as well (http://www.vassalengine.org/wiki/Module:Across_5_Aprils)
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Sat Feb 7, 2015 6:57 pm
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Why I Went Ahead and Backed Tiny Epic Galaxies...

Kevin L. Kitchens
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A couple of weeks ago, solitaire gaming got a real boost in the eyes of elitist social gamers, i.e. those who imagine that if you're not gaming with one or more other players, you're not really gaming.

During their Kickstarter campaign for Tiny Epic Galaxies (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/coe/tiny-epic-galaxies-...), Gamelyn Games solicited feedback for which stretch goal to add when the $200,000 pledge mark was reached. The then 2-4 player game offered two choices: add a fifth player OR add a solitaire mode. Forums on BGG and the Kickstarter page immediately lit up with furious and sometimes unfriendly debate (Tiny Epic Decision! Backer Chosen Stretch Goal POLL1) however, as the dust settled and the milestone was hit, solitaire won out by FOUR VOTES.



I think many felt it shouldn't have been this close... and I don't mean in the favor of solo gamers either. It came as a wake up call to everyone who dismisses solo gaming as being the choice of the misfits of the misfits.

This post (Together we game alone – the importance of solitaire playability for board game Kickstarters) from solitaire designer Morten Monrad Pedersen further gave evidence that solo gamers are actually a benefit and huge consumer bloc that designers and publishers need to at least consider when creating their games.

So back to TEG...

My first reaction as an almost strictly solo player was disgust. What a cheap marketing ploy. A solo variant shouldn't be held hostage to a funding goal. If you're considering it possible, it should be in there (same for a 5th player). The only reason to not have a certain player count is if it makes the game unbearable, impossible, difficult (...) to play. I just don't think playing Hanabi in solitaire mode is gonna work (yes, you could use the same cards and create a new game, but that wouldn't be solo Hanabi).

A proposed solo ruleset was dangled and I didn't take the bait. You don't respect solo gamers from the start, then I'm not taking part in your PR stunt. And when it "won" the poll, I didn't rush out and sign up for it then, just because they added solitaire. It should be noted that at $250,000, they added the fifth player option, confirming this was all just a gimmick, albeit a brilliant one, to generate interest.

But as we sit here now, with just under 24 hours to go, the project is more than funded at over $382,000 in pledges with more to come in the final push. I am now one of those backers, but it had nothing to do with strictly offering a solitaire option:

1. This review: TEG - Brain strain and End game.
2. This 1-Player Podcast Interview: Tiny Epic Galaxies Interview
3. It actually appears to be a fun and well thought out game.
4. It's a reasonable price for the content ($16 + minimal shipping)

I had no interest in the previous Tiny Epic releases due to their fantasy/magic theme. I'm happy to see that they have branched out into other genres to reach a wider base of gamers.

And adding solitaire didn't hurt either.

If you're not one of the currently 11,600+ backers of the game on Kickstarter, check out the links here before "Sat, Feb 7 2015 8:00 AM EST." and visit the KS page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/coe/tiny-epic-galaxies-... for even more details and decide if Tiny Epic Galaxies is a fit for your gaming needs... be they one-player or five.
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Fri Feb 6, 2015 1:17 pm
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The Solitaire Boards of Mad King Ludwig...

Kevin L. Kitchens
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In light of my post yesterday (This Old Castle - Starring Mad King Ludwig) concerning the quality of the boards for Castles of Mad King Ludwig, it was pointed out to me that the stacks placeholders for the game are necessary and convenient for determining if stacks have been emptied. This gains you some bonus points at the end game as I later discovered.

I did go ahead and use the provided stacking boards and actually found them to be okay overall... it's more that large triangle wedge and arranging the non-interlocking boards together that's annoying. Plus it takes up a lot of unnecessary space, especially when playing the game solitaire.

So to this end I went ahead and whipped up a couple of smaller boards specifically designed for solo play.



These will both print on 8.5x11" cardstock and can then be trimmed (and laminated or mounted as desired).

The spaces for cards and room tiles are the same size as on the regular board.



The "purchase board" has spaces for the room cards, bonus cards, stairways and hallways. Rooms available for the current round go beneath the price slots as on the original board.



The "room stacking board" has two sections to place the room tile stacks, one for the smaller rooms and one for the larger rooms.

For the solitaire player, these provide all the conveniences of the included boards, but in a smaller footprint.

FILE: Solitaire Boards - Castles of Mad King Ludwig.
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Sat Jan 31, 2015 8:35 pm
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