Games on Flag Day! (6/14/06)
Cuppa Jack
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Last week I did the unthinkable. I took a personal day off work to play games with a good friend, Beau, who is going aboard for a month.

The day landed on “Flag Day” in the US, an officially recognized day, but not an official Holiday. But what better day to play hooky from work and play wargames until our brains hurt, and the "main event" of the day would be our second game of Wilderness War.

This is just a simple record of what we played.
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1. Board Game: Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:432]
Cuppa Jack
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We started at 9am sharp on Wednesday morning, and with coffee in hand we discussed a good "warm up" game to get our brains limber and ready for the "meat" of the day. We settled on Confrontation since we didn't feel like tackling the rules to Target: Arnheim.

I felt kind of bad as Beau stated he was relatively inexperienced at the game and it is one of my most-played. He took Sauron's side for the first game and we started off slowly. It was an interesting game for me since nearly all of my experience with the game has been playing my wife and Beau played a very different game that she does. I quickly adjusted my strategy and before long I had thinned-out the opposing pieces and was able to sneak Frodo past the mountains and into Mordor by luring the Witch King away with a feint.

We switched sides and the second game was over in a matter of minutes as Sarumon and is Wargs rampaged towards the shire and a black-rider picked out the unescorted Frodo as he was just steps away from the shire.

Smarting from two rough defeats Beau suggested we jump right into Wilderness War.
 
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2. Board Game: Wilderness War [Average Rating:7.74 Overall Rank:612]
Cuppa Jack
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Wilderness War was a new acquisition and we were very excited to get another game after a "learning game" the previous week. In that match I had taken the French and saw my forces whittled down by the mill-stone of the British army. It was a very close game that went down to the final hand.

This time I would command the British and my strategy was all planed. I would feint an attack on Louisburg and concentrate my military efforts on capturing the Ohio Forks. The early turns saw the French skyrocket to 8VP from raiding and victories in small skirmishes in the west. Beau put a lot of pressure on the "frontier" but I was able to keep reinforcements coming, and after a disastrous winter that saw the loss of 8-10 steps on each side I struck at, and captured the Ohio Forks.

Beau struggled to redeploy forces from Canada into the wilderness around Niagara while increasing raids in the Northern Precinct. Thankfully I had been dealt "Blockhouses" for the second year in a row I that was enough to stave-off the raiders as I constructed a line of stockades from Albany to Lake Ontario.

The final 4 cards of the final hand saw me besieging the fort at Niagara. With my last card I launched an assault of the fort and claimed it for the crown securing my come-back victory!

What a fantastic game! I remember stumbling across the BGG entry for Wilderness War right after discovering Boardgames and thinking that it looked very dull. A few months later I saw the game at my FLGS and again thought it looked dry and liked a very odd choice of conflicts to base a wargame on. 6 months later it has become my favorite wargame and I am just astonished by the intricacy of the design and how FUN the two sides are to play.
 
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3. Board Game: Commands & Colors: Ancients [Average Rating:7.78 Overall Rank:99]
Cuppa Jack
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We decided to break for lunch, but first set-up the Zama scenario. We had played C&C once before a few months ago but didn't get to play with elephants. After lunch I took the Carthaginian side and we realized that we had nearly totally forgotten how to play. A few turns later my Elephant charge had broken against a wall of Roman Legionnaires and we had the rules back under our belts. I don't remember much of what happened after the death of my Elephants, but i know my right flank had swept all Romans from that side of the battle field and Hasdrubal led a decisive charge into the center to win me the game 8 banners to 6.

We switched sides and again the Elephants broke against the Romans and I was able to mobilize Scipio and his Heavy Infantry which, with the help of two "Line Command" cards in a row" marched down the center of the battlefield and threatened to cleave the Carthaginian army it two. But Hannibal’s cavalry swept in from the left and decimated my forces on that flank giving Beau the field 8 banners to 5.

And so the C&C: A match went to Beau by one banner!
 
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4. Board Game: Bonaparte at Marengo [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:1264]
Cuppa Jack
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Our final games for the day would be our first “real” game of Bonaparte at Marengo (we had played a “learning game” the week before,) which was fitting since the battle occurred June 14th 1800, 206 years ago to the day. I took the Austrians and vowed not to make the same mistakes that I made in the learning game from a week ago where the French out-Maneuvered me and caused massive losses.

I’m foggy on the details of the battle, but the I was able to establish a foothold just across the river and we spent many hours wheeling our units around and attempting to get the upper hand. My artillery pounded away at the French as I sent an Elite infantry in a wide flanking maneuver along secondary roads. Just as the French reinforcements marched into the battle the Austrians caught 2 groups of French Infantry and destroyed them for the Austrian win.

This is another fantastic game that is just a joy to play (and play with.) It is a shame that the road-movement rules are so obtuse, but once you struggle past that Bonaparte at Marengo is a wonderfully rich game that captures the “feel” of Napoleonic warfare better than I could have imagined.

At this point in the day, after 8+ hours of gaming, and the fighting of 3 amazing battles that spanned 2000 years of history, we called it a Flag Day to be remembered and we vowed to meet in one years time to refight the wars of the past.
 
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