Games Scheduled to Play (12)
Lawrence Hung
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Wan Chai
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I have stockpile of games not being played! Playing wargames becomes rapidly obsessive. There are so many good games I haven't played and I keep buying more.,,just can't get enough. To resolve my headache to choose, the practice to schedule the games have brought me to the 12th consecutive lists for all the past 8 years or so.

An amazing number of games that I played when I looked back into the past. Still there are more to play and conquer. As new games kept flooding in, I should have a forward-looking view about what should I do in the near future. In 2014, I should play more wargames for battles and campaigns in their centennial glory, particularly WW1 which started in 1914, more strategic level wargames for WWI and WWII for a real and deeper treat, more into tactical with ATS, more hypothetical WWIII for nostalgia contemplation, more solitaire study and games, explore more wargames covering operations in the air and sea, more wargames from Star Fleet Battles Universe (I bought a bunch of them in 2013) and Battletech, more wargames from the older classic. Oh My God, there are hoards of them! I should have been poisoned by all the marketing hype.

You can check out my previous lists here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/4317 and second list here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/7679 the third http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/10738 the fourth http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/20094 the fifth
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/43985/games-scheduled-... sixth http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/50390/games-scheduled-... the seventh
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/65261/games-scheduled-... the eighth
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/73403/item/2091795#ite... the ninth
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/142111/games-scheduled... the tenth
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/146154/games-scheduled-to-... and the eleventh http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/152399/games-scheduled...
before you read on.
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1. Board Game: Cuba Libre [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:487]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 7 Jun, 2014
Competition day. Andrzej, Jerome, Erwin and I participate in this year COIN competition, first time ever in our club. I am looking forward to see if the Directorio can win easily again as we saw it winning several times. Or can July 4th survive and make it towards the end of the game to victory?

AAR:
Very tight game - my Syndicate tied with Jerome's Directorio. The rules say in case of a tie, the Cartels precedes Directorio a win. My general strategy in this game is sparked off by a good card of boosting Government's resources, thus allying with Erwin in the beginning to hold off the spread of July 26 and Directorio's expansion. The Directorio is a major competitor to Syndicate while July 26 is to Government. The strategy pays off to some extent until Government thinks that Syndicate is an unreliable partner, when an attempt is made to reduce Government support. The card flow in this game is favorable to my Syndicate, making me to think about the good timing demanded of the player along the strategy. The development of the game is always interesting as each game is different with order of the cards. While I think Cuba Libre is a Euro game worker tile placement game in disguise, I should play this at home with the solitaire rules for more deeper exploration into the system.

 
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2. Board Game: Andean Abyss [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:745]
Lawrence Hung
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Wan Chai
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Scheduled play: 7 Jun, 2014
Erwin is quick enough to pull out the game after finishing off the Cuba Libre game. Since both use the same COIN system, we get into the game in no time.

AAR:
 
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3. Board Game: North German Plain [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:8412]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
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Scheduled play: 13 June, 2014
 
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4. Board Game: Sparta versus Athens [Average Rating:5.16 Unranked]
Lawrence Hung
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Wan Chai
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Scheduled play: 21 June 2014
As I know Angus likes to play anything about ancients, I therefore suggest this game to him. He gladly joins the game on this epic struggle between two great races on earth. The Peloponnesian War outbreak in 431 BC gets a new treatment by Joseph Miranda, my respectful wargame designer. I am keen to see how he simulates the war as Mark Herman did a long time ago in his classic solitaire study.

AAR:
After the game today, I think that the designer did put in a lot of effort to simulate the Peloponnesian War from historical perspectives. The core engine of the game is sound - land and naval units led by war leaders set out for field battle, siege or ravage of city states with leaders' "campaign points" during the campaign phase in each of the quarter (spring, summer and winter) of a year. There are 32 yearly turns in the campaign game and 11 turns for the shorter The Archidamian War scenario, though both start in BC431 utilizing the same set-up procedure and locations. Stacking limit is 10 land units and 5 naval units on the coastal cities (locales as the designer preferred in his rulebook). The players use leader campaign points to pick up units along the leader's movement with additional cost of one campaign point and to "drop off" for free. An Athenian leader can be killed after combat with two die rolls result of 2 and a Spartan leader of 12. It seems a bit off and difficult to get the leader killed in ancient battles with such a low odd system. When the named leaders are killed, replacement leaders rise up to the challenge automatically. Leaders can also give combat shift to land and naval combats according to their own ratings on the counters. The Spartan named leaders arrive according to a fixed schedule while the Athenian named leaders arrive according to the current government (dove or eagle).

There is no land interception in the rules (one thing that is hugely different from that of Victory Games' Peloponnesian War). But naval unit can "intercept" when the enemy unit moves into the same sea "locale" to stop the moving enemy units going on. It's different from the normal "interception" concept whereby neighboring friendly units can stop the movement of the enemy units. Similarly, when a force enters a locale containing any enemy units, it stops and combat ensues. When the enemy units enter a fort or walled city, the friendly units have to decide whether they will defend outside or stay inside in face of a siege. The enemy units can continue movement if they don't attempt a siege.

Combat are odd based. The CRT is printed on the map and has the same explanations of DH and AH, the usual proofreading problem expected of magazine game. The combat results are bloody that either losing all the units or half of the units in a force, with or without the defender losing the same number of units. A funny side on the table is that A(H) or D(H) means that the attacker/ defender loses half of his units round any fractions up while AH or DH round any fractions down.

On the economic front, Sparta earns a fixed 45 talents each year, reduced by some locations turning into neutrality or being built enemy forts. Athens revenue varies with the type of government in place. Before the change of the government in the beginning, Athens receives revenue with the amount of total tribute of all cities controlled or allied with Athens. The revenue is used to pay maintenance cost of the units, one talent per strength point, outside their own national locales during the logistics phase of each quarter.

One strong (and best in my opinion) feature of this game is that both the map and OOBs of both sides are complete and detailed. I learn a lot about the units and "locales"/ cities, walled or otherwise. For example, Sparta has only a few core units and most of the fighting units come from its allies in the Peloponnesian Coalition (they are in very nice looking purple) and Sicily and Chalcidice. Athens, on the other hand, has a strong fleet in Athens and draw most of its reserves from the Delos Confederation. There is a one and a half full page of City Location Aid in the rules identifying more than dozens of location of the cities. I haven't seen such details before. It shows the depth of knowledge the designer has about the geography and history of the war indeed.

The final verdict on Sparta versus Athens is too soon to give. Perhaps Sparta should adopt a more conservative and defensive strategy in the first 13 turns (years) and should look out for a drawn-out campaign with Athens? To give credit to the design due, I do believe Sparta versus Athens set up a very comprehensive analysis model, integrating the military, economic and political aspects of this classical warfare campaign, that was what Clash of Arms' Epic of the Peloponnesian War attempted to do, but which failed quite disappointingly. On the other hand, Sparta versus Athens is a reflection of the degree of design elegance of VG's Peloponnesian War. Sparta vs. Athens is a huge game and I haven't touched upon many other concepts like Prestige, Athenian Government, and the Random Events, etc. One thing for sure, however, I wish to try Sparta versus Athens with a next attempt soon. Overall, B+.
 
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5. Board Game: Battles of Westeros [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:586]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 5 July, 2014
David and I decide to take this game to heart in order to celebrate the full showing of Season IV Game of Thrones HBO series this summer. He suggested to play this game and I agreed to it right away. All the miniature figures look so beautiful.

AAR:
Battle Lore is a game system done away with the left-center-right wing system of its ancestor Command and Colors. Instead, card deck based on leaders are introduced. The game brings us to the struggle between the two direct confrontational houses of Lennister and Stark - at least for the time being before we can have a chance to play the expansions.

Despite the rules have some minor contradictions, vagueness which require further errata or clarifications to clear up, the overall game gives the players a full sense of richness, details about the tactics employed in the world of Westeros, and some very well-designed, tightly balanced scenarios which set the stage of the battles as told by the novels themselves.

Both sides are allocated commanders according to the scenarios. Each commander would have his or her own Commander card with description of traits and five specific Commander cards for use in the scenario. The latter would be added to the ten basic Leadership cards of the House, forming a leadership deck that is unique to the battles, while fleshing out the storyline and leaders' unique characters by the Tactics box on the card. During the beginning of the Marshaling Phase, the player would draw a number of Order Tokens and Leadership Cards from the deck according to the Order Rating and Leadership Rating on the battle plan (the scenario). The types of Order Tokens are determined by rolling dices. Both the tokens and the cards are then used to determine the no. of actions and the rank of units that can be activated in the Command Phase.

The ranks of the units are divided into three colors, in ranking order: green, blue and red, just like the Command and Colors system of classifying the units. In combat, they have different no. of attack dice (2,3,4) to roll. Other than the ranks, the order tokens also have valor (gauntlet) that can activate any rank and morale (banner) that can increase one's own morale or decrease the opponent's along the morale track. The randomization of the orders is similar to the chit-pulling of the many modern wargame designs and rolls out some uncertainties to whatever game plan you have. For example, when you want to activate the green units that House Stark have mostly but the dice you rolled are all red (although you can always use two order tokens to activate a unit, whatever rank it may be). In smaller scenario, the degree of uncertainties is somewhat watered down unless there is a limited no. of turns.

To activate a commander, you play a Leadership card and then moves one command token from command board to the chosen Commander Card. A commander can order all units within his/ her ZoC, which is two hexes for all commanders in the game. At the same time, the commander can resolve the "tactic" on the card, before or after command, on the Leadership Card.

One unique feature in Battles of Westeros is that when you make a melee attack with the activated unit against an adjacent enemy unit, they are "engaged". To disengage, the enemy unit would then be subject to another attack called "Parting Blow", in which the no. of attack dice according to the ranks is made like in a normal combat, only that a flag result is ignored. An engagement can be broken in a several ways: there is another melee attack made from another side (a new engagement), by card (tactic) effect, or by retreat after combat. So combat can develop into some bloody affair here.

Counterattack, therefore, is not mandatory in Battles of Westeros. Unlike Command and Colors, a unit needs to have trait "Stalwart" to . Other traits like Advance (into the hex vacated by the enemy unit), Cover , Toughness, Dogs of War (a special ranged attack made by animal to a target two or three hexes away but never the adjacent hex), Heavy Armor (defending as a unit one rank higher and ignore Valor attack die result if the defending unit is a red rank unit), Off Balance (reduce the no. of attack dice after movement), Pursue (advance into the vacated hex and move to make further attack), Scorch the Earth (setting fire in an unoccupied adjacent hex and increasing fire level for each green attack die result), etc., and many more coming with the expansions, would cultivate more special unit attributes in the world of Westeros. Range combat is normal with LoS rules and blocking terrains.

A highly recommended game to those fan of the series, and who want to be immersed in the medieval battles, nature of which characterized by leadership attributes, command group, stalwart counterattacks, combined arms like archers and cavaliers, etc. Many fine points in a well thought-out system. It reminds me of why I want to get into wargaming in the first place - the wanting to know why things happen that way and a believable model to calculate or project results.

The rules also come with a system of randomly generated scenario called "Skirmish", which would give unlimited number of settings of games to the players. The players can write up the story of the battles themselves. It obviously adds a lot of value of money to the game.

As to our own game result: my Stark won the intro scenario Clash of the King's Road with a last turn attack onto and thus got back one of the two victory locations to prevent David's Lannister from winning by controlling both locations. It's really very intense and dramatic.
 
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6. Board Game: White Death [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:4488]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
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Scheduled play: July 2014
The early GDW wargame on the WWII eastern front...the first truly operational eastern front battle game to me. I still have the game in my warehouse but we are going to play the newer Japanese edition with the same old GDW rules (I can't read Japanese anyway except Kenji of course). I have read the rulebook from head to toes, including the excellent designer notes, on 28 Jun 2014 after so many years of owning the game, as preparation of a game with the Japanese edition.

AAR:
A very nice operational-tactical WWII system there, one that still fares well even by today's standard. Some very nice features like AFV units, morale check upon losses, artillery and line of sight, bunkers, special unit capabilities, weapons abandoning, etc. organically composed to emanate the historical flavour.
 
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7. Board Game: A Victory Complete: The Battle of Tannenberg, 1914 [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:6480]
Lawrence Hung
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Wan Chai
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Scheduled play: 10 July, 2014
Yes, Kenneth and I are going to play this in celebration of the first major campaign in WWI via Vassal. There are many rule versions available on the internet but I think the one in the Special Operation magazine dated 2012 should be the latest one.

AAR:
Russian has no rail capacity while the German has four in the first turn. The German western reinforcement cost German the VPs with heavy penalty. So part of the Russian strategy is to force the activation of the reinforcement. The Russians have 5 command chits in the first turn, German only 2. Onward the Russian soldiers!


Russian III Corps gets activated and came into contact with German 41/1 Cavalry Brigade. Attack was made at 6:1 with Russian HQ combat support. The German unit lost a step and retreated three hexes. First victory to the Tsar! The command chit-pull system in this game is awesome, especially when you pick the right one.


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8. Board Game: Clash of Giants II [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:2892]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
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Scheduled play: 2 August, 2014
As part of the club's event of Centennial WWI, Anthony and I fixed a game of this old back in 2006 by Ted Racier, a WWI design guru. The Campaign of First Ypres sees the German on the offensive towards Osten in Belgium and Dunkirk in France, generally described as the Flanders area where the so-called "Race to the Sea" took place. And they say they will go home before the leaves fall.....

AAR:
The rules of Clash of Giants are quite short and smooth in terms of the basic game system. The Battle Book gives more detail accounts of the two campaigns covered in the second installment of the series. One distinguished change is the use of "ACM" markers, Army Command Markers, commanding all units by the zones on the map. All units within the zone when the ACM is picked shall be activated. This is basically chit-pulling system that is so popular later by the MMP's "Victory" series (Victory Lost, Victory Denied, Victory Complete). The unit is mostly division and some brigade in size, with independent Cavalry on both sides, where each hex is 1.3 miles apart. Given the zone-based activation (instead of commanding by Army or Corps like that in Victory Complete), the movement can be exercised at times with a large trunk of units in the zone.

Unit crossing the zone boundary to a new zone is therefore designated a "Done" marker for not moving again if the new zone is not yet activated. A few units are not allowed to cross their own boundary and the Germans cannot go into Zone D before turn four, respecting Belgium's neutrality. Conversely, Belgian units can only retreat according to the retreat compass directions and may never attack German units during turn 2 to 5. In Ypres, the Allied enjoys Strategic Rail Movement (up to four units) for moving units from one town/ urban hex to the next. They can entrain and detrain in the enemy ZOC, and thus make attack immediately - a rather different treatment compared to other games. A turn in CoG represents two days and the newly arriving units should be deployed to battle in haste and in no time under such circumstances.

Combat is voluntary and takes place when the attacking units are in the enemy ZOC. No combat (i.e. entering eZOC) is allowed on the first turn in Ypres and so both sides just maneuver into position. Combat results determination in CoG is quite different from other traditional wargame, in that the CRT is used to determine a DRM to a dieroll against individual unit's "TER", Tactical Efficiency Rating, and "Attack Loss Limit", the maximum no. of attacking units that may be affected by a single combat. Add spice to the fun of eating, some German New Reserve units are subject to random TER determination as universities students are mobilized to join the Army. For each unit, modified dieroll result exceeding the unit's TER would cause the unit a step loss. A quick look at the OOB revealed that the Germans are largely rated one TER higher than the Allied in general. The difference between the modified dieroll and TER of the defending units also causes the defending unit to retreat that no. of hexes, up to a maximum three. Retreat through non-cavalry eZOC is not allowed unless negated by a friendly unit. However, the rule doesn't clearly state what happens if it is forced to retreat through eZOC but an elimination of the unit is implied in 12.82 Retreat Direction.

Supply is quite straightforward by tracing a path free of enemy units and their ZOC (again, negated by friendly unit in the ZOC) to the supply source. The first five hexes can be traced to any directions but afterwards it has to be in the directions of the Retreat Compass. OOS unit loses its ZOC, suffer -2TER, -1MA, and receive no replacement. An interesting concept of "Emergency Withdrawal" is introduced whereby a fully supplied unit can negate eZOC and allow other friendly units moving through it according to the directions of the Retreat Compass. The unit is "holding the door" for an orderly withdrawal.

The role of cavalry in this game is limited probably due to the scale. They are normally used to perform screening, flanking movement to harass enemy supply line, as they cannot stack with other infantry units and they cannot attack enemy infantry either, nor in a combined attack. When attacked, cavalry units have only TER of 1 helplessly. They can, however, retreat before combat by two hexes. A special Allied Flood phase is added to the sequence of play. Belgium can open the gate to flood the Belgian flood plain if it controls Nieuport. Flooded hexes cost the unit's entire movement to enter and it may not attack out of such hexes.

Anthony's Allied punched the German's left flank and the flank collapsed. The German doesn't have any unit in the entire Zone A. He then conducted several envelopment of the German weaker Cavalry units and forced the center of the German Army to contract in the area of operations before the arrival of the Reserve Corps, made up of university students. The new German reinforcements were able to stop the collapse of the left flank somewhat but overall, and although the victory should only be determined at the last turn, the German (me) considered he was soundly beaten by turn 7 and called it for a day.
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9. Board Game: Cuba Libre [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:487]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 8 August, 2014
Solo the game in preparation for the final round of the tournament as 26 July, which is the more difficult side to win I believe. So I will see how the game AI system is doing too.

AAR:
The Syndicate called for Turismo strengthening the economy of Cuba with Casinos. Havanna, the provinces of Habana and Rinal del Rio echoed the call and turned towards neutral against government stance. the Government responded with more trained troops and police to Habana and Matanzas, building a base in both provinces. Santo Trafficante Jr. of Directorio reduced resources to Syndicate by 10. 26 July (me) terrorize Sierra Master, Santiago de Cuba and Habanna where they had guerrillas. No target for kidnap (I thought I was not doing well here. I should have chosen rally instead). New York Times reported that Fidel was alive, causing a huge hiccup in the Senate - U.S. Aid was reduced by 6 while boosting 26 July resources by 5 (a great unexpected gift from the Syndicate). The first propaganda round came up and the Government resources were spent to civic actions, influencing public opinion towards passive support in Pinar del Rio, Hanabna and Santiago de Cuba. U.S. Alliance level was downgraded one level and the aid was reduced to zero (Auck!)

26 July's Vilma Espin voiced out in Santiago de Cuba and turned it into active opposition single-handedly after government propaganda campaign. The Syndicate rallied thugs with cash to guard the open casinos after Turismo campaign. They took profit and stacked up cash in Havana and Pina del Rio, their controlled province so far. Government performed sweeps operations at Havanna, Santiago de Cuba and Habana; and airstrike against Habana, killing 26 July underground guerrilla. Directorio rallied units in Havana, Camaguey and Oriente, and subverted 26 July's passive support there. A general uprising across the country in 5 provinces and Santiago de Cuba (SdC) was incited by 26 July. A police in SdC was defected after infiltration. Eulogio Cantillo (the Syndicate) backed government's general offensive in SdC, eliminated one 26 July guerrilla. Government back to control in SdC. Director found some disillusioned fighter in Oriente. The Government, however, itself found no more resources to carry out any operation after U.S. cut the aid. He had to pass.

US-backed plot discovered caused the Government free assault on Havana, activating and removing all Directorio's undercover agents. Embarassed by the leaks, US Alliance level was down one more level to Embargoed - no airstrike was allowed now. Facing the difficult situations, Batista decided to flee at this time! US Alliance level one up and Aid +10. The Government seemed to have hope again. Government move in garrison unit to EX in Sierra Maestra and performed reprisal action against the locals in SdC. The city turned passive opposition and one 26 July guerrilla unit moved to Sierra Maestra to avoid the severe punish. At the moment of Escapade, the Government, again, lacked the resources to do anything about it. Taking the advantage, Syndicate terrorized Havana and Pinar del Rio.

Alberto Bayo provided 26 July a free rally in Sierra Maestra, the only base of 26 July now. the rally proved to be a large one as four new guerrillas reported. Directorio terrorized and neutralized the populace in Camaguey province and city, and Oriente. The nation came into fear of terror with five terror areas on the map. Under heavy US pressure, the Government agreed to Election and Santiago de Cuba became neutral. US increased aid by 10! The Syndicate continued the terror campaign in La Habana and the EC there. The Government lost all the support in northern Cuba. Directorio called in Sinatra for window-dressing the nation with Syndicate's money. It proved Sinatra was indeed overpriced - the last two remaining resources of the Syndicate were used up as well. 26 July marched the guerrillas to SdC, EC and Camaguey and inflitrated SdC. The rebel now controlled the southern Cuba with two provinces and a city. The revolution seemed to be on the winning march.

Ambassador Smith arrived after Batista government was collapsed. U.S. Aid increased again! This time more aids were coming: +9 to Cuba Government and the Syndicate resources respectively. The U.S. seemed to gamble one more time. The Directorio called for Resistencia Civia (Civil Resistance) in Santiago de Cuba - all four 26 July units were replaced by Directorio's underground. A severe blow to the cause of 26 July. They were rallied in the adjacent Sierra Mastera and infiltrated the EC further, the last remaining police was removed. Mafia took offensive at this moment and the Syndicate could now assassinate like Directorio. The Government had to pass again due to resources at one. But Propaganda was coming and the Government would have a time to restock the resources. U.S. aid now stood at 19 after adjustments, despite reluctant alliance, and the Government now had total support at 16, highest among all four after civic actions. The Government resources were reduced to 9 as a result. 26 July gained momentum in the south by agitation. Sierra Maestra was firmly in their hands now. Oriente was also controlled by 26 July with passive opposition. The Directorio expat backing Camaguey by setting up a new base there. Government police was redeployed into Las Villas. All 7 Casinos were opened. Resources increased to 15 for the Syndicate by this lucrative business.

Fat Butcher Costanzo drew U.S. heat by mob enforcer in La Habana - removing one Government base and one police there. Tension rose between the two after such act. 26 July chose to stand on the sideline by passing because all resources were spent during the Propaganda. The Government trained up more police in Santiago de Cuba, gaining control of the city. A base was also set up in La Habana as countermeasure to Syndicate action there. Then came Rolando Masferrer, the brutal commander, who set La Habana and Mantanzas to passive opposition. 26 July march more guerrillas into Oriente and infiltrated into EC. Government set up Guantanamo Bay for rounding up the guerrillas and as a base of supplies. Airstrikes could now remove two pieces and be possible even being embargoed by the U.S. A new casino was constructed in Matanzas. Echeverria attempted murder on the Dictator but failed - a near miss. Directorio increased activity in Havana and Mantanzas. Havana became neutral. 26 July finally issued Sierra Maestra Manifesto by Fidel Castro, who disdained elections or compromise. All sides stepped up mobilization where they already had units. Propaganda time came up after such a general buildup. Government resources up from 19 to 31. 26 July established only one base so far in Sierra Maestra and so only one resource (up from zero). Directorio had six spaces where it had pieces and increased its resources from 3 to 9. Syndicate opened seven casinos and increased from 10 to 25, adding in the population one from Pinar del Rio. The Government skimmed 8 resources from the Synidcate for the four spaces under governmental control. Syndicate resources down to 17 and Government up to 39 (but subsequently down to 29 after U.S. Aid further reduced to 29 as the total government support stood at 16 only, 2 short of the necessary achievement to secure further funding - U.S. embargo now). No cash was deposited by any side though. Total support remained at 16 after civi actions, reducing Government resources to 9. Havana and Las Villas were now in active support of the Government. 26 July agitated Oriente into active support, alongside Sierra Mastera with one base. Total opposition rose to 7. Directorio free rallied two underground in Camaguey province.

El Che took up the leadership of 26 July - now the first group they moved would go underground. A great and timely insurgent capability enhancement right after Propaganda. Now they set the target on Havana and marched. By this time, the Government couldn't hold back the urge to assault the EC at the south anymore by moving a troop into it and eliminated three 26 July underground there. A setback for the revolutionaries. Caracas of the Syndicate decided it's time to cut off shipment to the Revolutionaries. A 26 July base was removed in Sierra Masetra but there was no more resources to remove. Directorio rallied in Camaguey city and province, Mantanzas and set up new bases at Santiago de Cuba and Camaguey province. They now had total three bases on the map. 26 July, having been mobilized by Che, started to move en masses with The Twelve and free marches! A new base was set up/ relocated to Oriente. Government sweeped four Directorio units in Santiago de Cuba - a great boost to the morale. Rodriguez Loeches of Directorio reinforced the guerrillas in the city of Camaguey and gained control of the city. Syndicate constructed a new casino in Las Villas under Government control. The casinos in Pina del Rio stashed in cash. 26 July opened up another invasion, codename Operation Fisherman, in Pinar del Rio by setting up a new base and recruiting a guerrilla unit there. Government passed its action to gather further resources, which stood at 4 now. Directorio called the students up in the mountain of Las Villas and two more guerrillas joined the rebellion with a new base set up. Government lost control of the province. Government responded by training up more police in Las Villas, regaining the control of the province right away. Two troops were moved from Santiago de Cuba to Camagauey city to gain control of it. Meyer Lansky opened up all casinos and relocated one casino from Pina del Rio to Las Villas, render ineffective Government control. Strapped of any resources, 26 July had to pass. Government passed too for the same reason when Sanchez Colonel Mosquera was wounded. Government troop (one) withdrew from the mountain region of Las Villas. 26 July marched three units, remaining hidden under El Che, from Camaguey to Las Villas and infiltrated into Matanzas - another province falling out of Government control. Eloy Guiterrez Menoyo of Directorio inspired the guerrillas and gained control of Camaguey again with addition of two more guerrillas. Government passed again to accumulate more resources to 6. 26 July passed and missed the chance calling of a general strike ("Come Comrades!") in the city or province. government took the opportunity to perpetrate suspected Soviet influence in the country. U.S. Aid increased by 5 while 10 more resources rolling in from U.S. to 16. Directorio marched one guerrilla into La Habana and placed cash into Havana and La Habana respectively. Directorio took Anatasia and hence they performed terrors in Havana, Las Villas and Oriente. They also performed assassination in Sierra Maestra and removed one 26 July base. Quite an offensive from Directorio. Government support dropped to 8 and 26 July dropped to 4. 26 July used Anatasia to close all casinos in Havana and reduced Syndicate resources by 5 to 6. Open casinos count was 7. Urban poor indifferent to the war and only eager for work, as Llano claimed. A casino was placed and opened in Camaguey. Government trained up more police in Havana, getting it back into control. Three troops were then sent from Havana for Las Villas where there were police but no troop. Pact of Caracas was announced by 26 July - from now on a truce between 26 July and Directorio that could not remove the other's pieces or affect the level of opposition anymore. Directorio attacked Camaguey city and rolled a "1"! Two troops were removed and one Directorio unit came up. An ambush was made in Mantazas. Government received armored cars for conducting assaults with higher mobility. 26 July terrorize Oriente and shift the passive opposition there to active. Total opposition level plus bases is at 7 now. BRAC was set up and the first anti-subversion targeted and killed 26 July guerrillas units in Mantazas. Directorio run out of any resources and had to pass. 26 July brought the atrocity to the U.S., appealing to stop further violence against the guerrillas. All sides escalated resources level (+4 for Directorio while all others +2) in this war. Taking this opportunity, Government assaulted active Directorio underground in Mantazas and Las Villas. Since the U.S. public was made aware to this, Government decided to call for final Propaganda in the next round!

Government, after adding in aid from the U.S., had sufficient resources to spend to consolidate active support in both Government controlled cities of Havana and Santiago. Total support increased to 16 but still short of 19. Besides, Camaguey city was in the hands of Directorio. 26 July increased resources to 4, with only one base in Pina del Rio. They controlled Sierra Maestra with active opposition. Oriente is also in active opposition for a total score of 7 (vs. 16 the victory score). I did it poorly. Directorio increased resources to 13 with pieces in 6 spaces. They controlled both Camaguey and its city and had established four bases in total (2 in Camaguey, 1 in Las Villas and Santiago) for a total score of 6 (vs. 10 the victory score). Finally, Synidcate added 16 resources for its 8 open casinos in all the four provinces of northern Cuba and the city of Camaguey, which was skimmed by the city controller Directorio. After taking into the four cash markers in Pina del Rio, Havana and Habana for 24 resources, total resources were increased to 46 (vs. 30 required). As there were 8 casinos opened in Cuba, Syndicate won the game!
 
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10. Board Game: A Victory Complete: The Battle of Tannenberg, 1914 [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:6480]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 8 August, 2014
Christian sent me the first Vassal file today! I asked him to play this as I found it very good for both Vassal and Skype play. Also I like the system so much that I can play both sides now with two different games. Ironically, Christian is the German...This is a really a good game for Centennial WWI.

AAR:
 
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11. Board Game: Victory in Vietnam [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:7457]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 8 August 2014
One map strategic treatment on Vietnam. An ambitious and unabated design. With just one single 11x17 inches map, the price is quite on the high end for its components. The strength of this game is the ability to play out the whole war within 3 hours. Another alternative would be Decision Games' Winged Horse, which covers the entire war as well with a standard magazine wargame in an extension. I have the Schutze Games second edition.

AAR:
Campaign game set-up is finished. Let's rock!

The U.S. sets up his game first. U.S. 7th Fleet was standing by on the shore. VC had inflitrated into South Vietnam inside the jungle, swamp and mountain areas, probing for attack on the capital city Saigon. U.S. Special Forces was deployed at Pleiku airbase together with an A1-E squadron.



The first turn special rule allowed only U.S. bombardment. Air units capable of bombing could fly to the target unit, in this case, VC guerrillas in swamp and jungle surrounding Saigon. They could not bomb North Vietnam before the event "Rolling Thunder" was played. The VC in the swamp was not located but the other in the jungle was detected and the air bombardment failed to hit the VC. Lesson Nr. 1 to the U.S. command: don't divide your air squadrons for airstrikes against hidden VCs. Concentrate firepower in effective counterinsurgency operation is the first principle as true as in normal set-piece engagement. Show'em the power! The Fall 1964 began with Viet Cong's plan to unite the divided country caused by the Hegelian world and by the Imperialist Sam.
 
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12. Board Game: A Victory Complete: The Battle of Tannenberg, 1914 [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:6480]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 16 August, 2014
The game is so good. Rowan was talked into it and we schedule this as part of the club's event Centennial WWI in a face-to-face game. We chose the shorter five turns scenario Masurian Lakes, hoping to complete it in an afternoon session.

AAR:
Rowan took up the Germans for offensive while I took up the Russian for an aggressive plan of flanking movements into Soldau on the left and Lyck on the right.


The German XI Corps formed a strong center defense line south of the Masurian Lakes. To the west, the German I Reserve and I Imeprial Guard defended Ortelsburg, protecting the right flank of the XI Corps.


The Russian III and IV Corps tried to link up but the German 38/8 and 40/8 sneaked in the left flank of Russian III Corps, cutting the two Corps apart. III Corps came into contact with the German XI Corps and were surrounded on both sides.


Russian XX Corps was called to reinforce the frontline on the Russian left flank. The German Imperial Guard was ordered to the further right to distract the Russian XX Corps and for a possible enveloping movement down south towards Przasnysz.

German Independent Corps 6LW, 36R and 38/8 were able to stop XX advance movement to help in the marsh/ forest area. The pressure on the Russian left was piling up.


Russian III and IV finally linked up near Masurain Lake. German XX Corps moved through the village of Johannisburg between the lakes to German XI Corps' left to pin down the Russians' Independents near Kolno.

Russian IV Corps made some successful breakthrough attempt near the lakes, overrunning German VI Corps. It had to retreat and move to Sensburg. At one point, the Russians seemed to be doing very fine in the center, piercing through the German defense line. German 38 Divisions was surrounded.

On the right flank of the Russians, the pressure on Lyck was building up with the arrival of XVII Corps from Whelau. The Russian I Corps movement was severely restricted to go any further north while defending the important town of Lyck, captured since the outbreak of the war.



On the Russian left, the Russian High Command ordered the The reinforcement Russian XXVI Corps arriving at Soldau along the railway Cierchanow and Malawa, shifting the pressure off the Russian's VI Corps. They also had hope of a capturing dash to Soldau with the Russian Cossacks. Unavoidably, the German High Command had to match the Russian initiative by extending German I Guard Reserve Corps to their right flank.


In the center, German I Reserve Corps attacked and shattered Russian XX Corps. A German division broke into the bridge Ostroleka and onto the fortress town of Lomz. The loss of Lomz gave a severe blow to the Russian High Command.


The Russian High Command ordered a final Russian onslaught on Soldau, which proved to be a failure in view of the stout and steadfast German defense by German I Imperial Guard Reserve.


On 15 September, 1914, German XVII Corps brought in the winning news - the capture of Lyck! At this point, the Russian conceded the campaign and when the news arrived Berlin, the population rejoiced with waving flags and singing. A great game to Rowan!

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13. Board Game: Cuba Libre [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:487]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 6, September 2014
Final round of the tournament! A total of 8 players participated in the 2014 Cuba Tournament organized by the Hong Kong Society of Wargamers. 2 initial rounds were fought and a final four would be in a final game today!

AAR:
After random pick, the factions are controlled by:
Erwin Lau - Government, a very strong player who is very familiar with all the rules in COIN system. Plus, ha was Government many times and was expected highly of winning this tournament. Nonetheless, the second card came up with Propaganda foiled his plan a bit too early as U.S. Aid was down too soon. The events shook Government's support in the north and when Bastista fled the government, he seemed to be only able to defend the major cities but not the center region of Cuba.

Joe Kong - Syndicate, another strong player who is active in BGG playing COIN by the forum. But he never played this faction before. Syndicate was widely known for its comparatively-easy side to play with, of course, as long as it was left undisturbed by 26 July in the north. Joe constructed 8 casinos by the third Propaganda card and mustered quite a fortune. But in view of 26 July highly frequent sabotage activities in the north, he chose to close them all before the four Propaganda card was up. This, in my view, cost him the game dearly.

Sunshine Ng - 26 July, an experienced player who is familiar with Eurogames mechanics and has a kind of humor no other can compare. But he took up a tougher side - the core rebel force in overthrowing the Cuba government. After consolidating the occupation of Sierra Maestra in the south, he began offensive in the north from Pinar del Rio, causing a lot of trouble to Syndicate and secondary, Government. The effort, however, came to a stall after Government rebuilt its infrastructure and re-took the city of Santiago de Cuba in the south. The revolutionaries were suppressed in a two front war.

Lawrence Hung - Directorio, an average wargamer (although he loves to collect) who is neither fond of Eurogames or has any idea about Directorio and who they are. His first time playing the Directorio, Lawrence focused Directorio's development in the center regions of Cuba - the mountain province of Las Villas, and later the forest province of Oriente. two bases were established in the two provinces respectively, making them the source of mobilization of more Directorio guerrilla units. Many students came to the call and some offensives were conducted against the Government in Camaguey. Some exchanges were resulted and Government controlled the province while Directorio was just one VP short of victory at 7. Five cards left when the final (fourth) Propaganda round came. Directorio won with the free rally when Expat aided the students by placing one guerrilla in Camaguey, taking the final control of the province.

A very tense and competitive game till the very last! Final result of the tournament:
Winner: Lawrence Hung (Directorio)
1st runner-up: Erwin Lau (Government)
2nd runner-up: Sunshine Ng (26 July)
3rd runner-up: Joe Kong (Syndicate)
Congratulations to all and hard work!
 
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14. Board Game: 1914: Glory's End / When Eagles Fight [Average Rating:7.36 Overall Rank:4441]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 20 Sep, 2014
Anthony bought this new dual pack of two old Command wargames by Ted Raicer. As part of the club's event in memory of "Centennial WWI", I suggested we played 1914: Glory's End, which we both didn't have the time to play it back then when Command magazine first released it.

AAR:
While I am reading John French's book of "1914", the game 1914: Glory's End echoes a lot of what I read from the book. John French, being the Commander of the British Expeditionary Force in France during World War I, gave a vivid and detailed account of the Allied forces and operations in the beginning of the campaign in the Western Front. And I feel that 1914: Glory's End is finally a game that gives WWI its due, and rightly so.

1914: Glory's End has a scale of mostly Corps sized units, 9.5 miles to the hex, 3 days per turn. Each Corp has four steps as it represent 30,000 to 55,000 men. Both map graphics and counters art have been improved to box edition standards. It is a pleasure to play the game with these upgraded components. I would try to outline briefly the pros and cons (not as much as cons by themselves but game mechanisms employed at points for discussion with a WWI game) of the game in a bulletin below:

Pros:
1) A short Historical Campaign Scenario is provided with 10 turns to complete. It can be completed in a day session (and faster if the player is abide to the time limit rule - each player is allowed 10 minutes to complete his turn). German wins if he has placed Paris in Danger (an area outlined to be threatening France capital closely enough) and obtained 25 VPs by capturing key cities and eliminating Belgian Army, and each German unit being adjacent to a Paris hex at turn 10. The short campaign reflects the strategic objectives of both sides realistically and competitively.

2) The game discovered to me that there are multitude of strategic decisions to be made by the decision makers, and the players in this case of gaming. Each decision should not be made lightly as a mistaken one might cost the entire wing to collapse.

3) The lack of ZOC encourages the players to play the game historically in a frontline manner to block any hole in between. Defense deployment is of vital importance to prevent breakthrough. Otherwise, a completely surrounded unit can be eliminated right away when there is no retreat way out according to the retreat compass.

4) A bloody CRT ensures both sides suffering from typical WWI unaccountable casualties. At odd 1-1, there are chances of 2/2 loss points to both sides. A loss point can be satisfied by retreat, which is particularly useful, if played well, for French tactical withdrawal.

5) Strategic Movement, a rule which constructs the railroad transfer of troops en mass, allows to transfer a unit from one town to the next, as long as it is not adjacent to any enemy unit. One of the cleanest rule that is done right for WWI (while it is not done right in Port Arthur, another Command magazine game).

Cons:
1) Command Control problem is a bit random as both sides have a phase in which to roll a die. A dieroll result of six would yield command control breakdown to three stacks of units, determined by your opponents as to which are they. It might be too abstract to some WWI guru as you surely can't find the same realism on command structure like that in 1914: Twilight in the East.

2) The whole campaign requires 30 turns to complete, approximate you need three whole days devotion to it. Entrenchment begins on turn 10, when the short campaign is about to finish. So if you just play the short campaign, you won't see the picture of trench warfare so engraved in people's memory about the war.

3) Artillery is virtually not existent at this scale. It is not represented as attachment unit as in some other game. It can be rationalized with the scale but if you are looking for its representation, it is not there.

4) The fact that there is no ZOC made the game prone to fluidity of enveloping movements by the German player, who has the initial advantage by numbers in Belgium and north of France. It seems a bit ahistorical when the German units flow freely around Allies units like water at a non-believable speed. But this is more a design for effect decision to render the game easier to play in a historical manner. I am fine with it.

5) The rules on Defender Retreat as satisfaction to loss point and March Assault could have been expanded more to explain the true intent with examples. As of now, some scruples still remain as to whether each loss point can be satisfied by one-hex retreat as an alternative to a step loss, and whether a unit beginning in a hex adjacent to enemy can perform March Assault.

1914: Glory's End plays, in my view, much better than Ted's another design on the same campaign - Grand Illusion. Glory's End is more traditional and thus more classic than Grand Illusion. It is WWI well done right and a game luminous of retrospection in itself. Alongside A Victory Complete Tannenberg 1914 that is on the Eastern Front, 1914: Glory's End is another excellent wargame on operational level warfare during WWI; this time on the Western Front. If you are looking for something classic with meaty gameplay on one map, these are the two I recommended as a pair to round out your WWI collection. Besides, they are definitely two games in my top 10 of 2014.
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15. Board Game: A Victory Denied [Average Rating:7.37 Overall Rank:2291]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 4 October, 2014
I thought of no one reading such a schedule before. Obviously I am wrong. I put this game up in the schedule because I thought the chit pulling system in A Victory Complete is cool. When David offer me a game of this, I jump at it and it is timely and absolutely taken. Even greater as now I can play it face to face, originally thinking that I will play it in solitaire mode at home.

AAR:
After A Victory Complete, I fell in love with the chit-pull system. Finally, I had a chance to get play A Victory Denied, an earlier successor to A Victory Lost. A Victory Denied covers the Battle of Smolensk 1941. Both sides engaged their elite units, the German 2nd and 3rd Panzers, 9th Army and the Soviet Corps of the 13th Army, Elite and "Protivovozdushnoy" (POV) Divisions, right before the city of Moscow, in a gigantic attempt to bring a decisive result to the campaign. I wish I could have played this Victory series earlier but mainly I couldn't find any opponent in the club, unless I go solitaire with it.

The random command chits drawing determine the tempo and strategies in the course of the war, and as the sequence of play is actually randomnized by the drawing chits of supply and reinforcement phase, rendering no two games play the same, and thus no game plan should survive when the next chit is drawn. The Timoshenko reinforcement (arriving on turn one) with his superior attack capability (with one beneficial shift on CRT during attack) and Guderian's higher flexibility in command over 2nd Panzer Group (his command chit can be activated any time after drawing any command chit from the cup, i.e. trumping any command chit) are also featured. German units in Minsk Pocket can arrive at the battle earlier at the risk of escaping Soviet units from the pocket, subjecting the German units to heavier fire combat DR+1 temporarily until the next reinforcement chit. A VP chit is also taken from the German Victory Chit Box but if there is none, the Soviet immediately win. It means that the German cannot release any units from the pocket prematurely without taking at least one victory city hex first.

I quite like the unit differentiation between the mechanized and non-mechanized units in the game. Mechanized units have both attack and defense strength while the non-motorized/ mechanized units have a single combat factor only. Naturally, the former would have higher attack value than the defense. Units are also identified by colors with different command activations when the corresponding command chit is drawn. But the scheme of colors for the two German Panzer Corps has been subject to constant criticism because of non-indistinguishable between the two.

A unit can be activated when it is in command of its HQ within HQ's command range, counted in number of hexes. Nothing can interdict such command range, not even unbridged major river. The German panzer units are activated as long as they are within three hexes to each other. German non-motorized units can only be activated when the 9th Army command chit is drawn and within command range of an HQ. The Soviet units, on the other hand, are activated when they are within the command range of the HQs. An HQ can also be activated by another HQ within its command range. As the Soviet units are not required to be within specific HQ's command range for activation, and they can be activated any number of times in any one turn, they can be congregated in one giant force for movement and attack.

A unit can be in a state of full effectiveness, out of command, out of supply (only attack value halved) or isolated (both attack and defense value halved). The status of individual units on the map tax the players' strength and intelligence in operational planning and execution. The gameplay becomes more interesting and lengthens its life with variable victory points for capture of the cities. The Hitler Directive Table comes in turn 6 to determine if the Fuhrer is going to be distracted from capturing Moscow by other war objective going on elsewhere, historically to the south. There is a possibility that four German motorized units (meaning Panzer corps) when Hitler is distracted.

Aside from the normal cumulative terrain shifts, German Stuka can shift two columns for German attack or defense. Attack below 1:1 is not possible and the maximum odds is 10:1. The attacker rolls a die but it is interesting to note the German rolls a six-sided die while the Soviet rolls a ten-sided die. A roll of 10 would add one Soviet elite unit to the combat, subject to Soviet stacking limit of two units, and recalculate odds. More variability is therefore expected of the Soviet. Majority of the combat results are number of step losses, ranging from one to four. Retreat results are one or two hexes.

Overall, a highly playable and very alluringly terse wargame. It should be one of my top ten game in 2014. I love it.

 
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16. Board Game: Goeben, 1914 [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:8163]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 16 October, 2014
Goeben 1914, S&T issue #287 recently released in July/ August. A Joesph Miranda's purpose-driven design on the flight of Goeben, along with CL Breaslau, in the Mediterranean Sea. The Kriegsmarine High Command gave the order "Ottoman Alliance" for consolidating the newly formed pact between Turkey and Germany. The two warships started from Dardenelles as Ottoman Empire was now officially in war with the Allies. The mission requires 75 VPs and the two warships must sail back safely to Constantinople after 8 months cruise on the high sea. The ships are outfitted, the time is set and I am ready to give it a go for what it was like a hundred years ago.

AAR:
After randomizing the "Incident" chits of the French and British ships and placing them on the respective sea patrol zones, and the coastal defenses along the North African coastline cities, the German fleet, together with a Collier, were departing Dardanelles for the strait between Greece and Turkey. Going southward, the fleet command's first objective was to go to Alexandria Patrol Zone where there was fewer Allies ships on patrol.

The two German ships were outfitted with gears and crews (the "cargo") up to the maximum of doubled Leadership value, whereas the cargo could be loaded up to the ships' own Hull value. Goeben was equipped with two Torpedo Reload, Targeting Calculator, Reserve Crew and Damage Control. Breslau, with lower Hull value, was equipped with Searlight Optics, Damage Control, Reserve Crew and Seabattlion Detachment.

The first stop found nothing on the north of the coast of and the two German warships continue to cruise to the north of Alexandria on the African coast. Two British warships were identified. After two rounds of fire, Gloucester was damaged (2VPs) and Dublin (8VPs) was sunk as its magazine was exploded. Breslau was hit by a single volley (a six with only just 1 firepower of the secondary firepower!) with a gunnery damage - its secondary gunnery was down to two. +8VPs after turn 2. No major victory as it requires 15 VPs. A major victory would increase the Leadership Value of each ship by one. The German firepower seems to be way larger than that of the Allies. But I am starting to calculate whether I can get 75 VPs in the remaining six turns and return the German fleet back to Dardanelles. Some speed-up seems to be necessary.

Day 3 on Captain Ackermann's diary: "No change to the Allied Alert Level over the high sea. It was calm. Today we started to bombard British Port Said in Egypt. The High Command asked us to perform bombardment against both British ports, the other being Alexandria, crippling the British naval capability in the Eastern Mediterranean. Port Said was found to have low garrison (of 2) and we had the salvo (because of the presently low Allied alert level at one only). It caused substantial public outrage (three rolls of one on the Shore Bombardment Table!) even though our morale was boosted slightly (-12VPs). It was not as effective as we would have hoped. The port could not be destroyed and it returned a salvo causing Goeben a major gunnery damage (-2 to each type of gun!). In fact, a disaster. We are told to leave, at emergency speed, for Adriatic Sea the next day." The Goeben was now at -4VP net.

"Day 4, outside the port of Kandia. No contact with the Allied. On Day 5, we sailed into Kandia for a repair with the guns. The Greek authority agreed to it reluctantly." At this point, the High Command recalled the ships back to Constantinople as they saw it no chance to have a success of sinking more ships to garner 75VPs required of the mission. My first game was in a disarray. It's a strategy that was flawed. The Goeben should seek out the enemy ships in the Patrol Zone in Adriatic Sea and Malta.

The next mission order received was "Atlantic Breakout" in six days and 60VPs. Cruising out from Messina, Italy, the German task force headed west to Sardinia Patrol Zone. A French flotilla-2, lightly armored, was found. German had the first salvo and damaged the French ship, which withdrew subsequently (+1VP). Allied Alert Level was raised to level 2 afterwards by the event.

Day 2 the German jammed the enemy transmission, lowering the Alert Level back to one. Enemy in sight - Latouche, Jurien and flotilla-1 were detected and contact was made. Jurien was sunk by Goeben in the first primary gunfire. The German secondary fire was missing by both and Latouche fired back, causing Breslau a critical hit of four to engine and hull respectively! Goeben fired its tertiary gun at Latouche and damaged it, forcing her retreat. Goeben then fired its torpedo at Flot-1 and caused a major hull damage to it. The second torpedo inflicted another hull damage. Breslau launched its torpedo but the French evaded and went away. Total +8 VPs this day for an accumulated total of 9VPs.

Day 3. Breslau parked into the nearby neutral port Genoa in Italy for a subsequent repair. The hull was all damaged and there was no chance to repair in the open sea. Goeben went south to North Africa Patrol zone, raising Allied Alert Level to two with Allied ""Pursue Order" event. Goeben had the first salvo against the French, targeting Admiral Charner in the first gunfire. Charner, whose armor was thick enough to deflect all Goeben gunfire (the armor value reduces the number of dices to roll to six only)! the second gunfire damaged and forced Charner to withdraw (3VPs) before it got a chance to fire. Bruix returned with the second gunnery of one but missed. The tertiary exchange caused Goeben's gunnery damage, -1 to each gun type. Torpedo attacks initiated. Bruix was sunk after receiving major hull and engine damage (+6VPs). Total tally at 18VPs.

Day 4. The hull of Breslau was fully fixed after a substantial reworks at Genoa. The ship was fully re-coaled to maximum at six as well. Inflexible was detected by German intelligence to be around Malta Sea Zone. Goeben continued to Gibraltar for a breakout while Breslau had to stay in Geona after repair. Indomitable and Flotilla 2 which worth 18VPs and 3VPs for a total 21 VPs if they could be sunk. Allied High Command gave another "Pursue" order again (Allied Alert Level increased to 3) and Gloucester (6VPs if sunk) was sent for Gibraltar Patrol Zone as reinforcement. Goeben got the first salvo but since the guns were weakened in the last battle, the primary gun failed to hit Indomitable with seven dicerolls. Indomitable returned fire with four but none was a hit. The secondary gun of Goeben produced five dices, hitting Indomitable's gun and hull. Indomitable had to fire its secondary gun with two dices after they were damaged and halved. The fire caused a critical hit to Goeben, damaging its hull (thus eliminating the wireless) and engine by two. Wireless on board was destroyed! Gloucester also caused another hit to the engine (it's now at three)! During the tertiary gunfire, Goeben missed again against Indomitable - it really had a thick armor! Gloucester reduced Goeben's engine further to two! In the torpedo exchange, both sides filed to hit the targets. All three Allied ships cruised away safely! What a futile and disappointing day!

Day 5. The intelligence report coming in to reveal CA Warrior and CL Chatham were in Adriatic Sea. Goeben faced the last challenge at Gibraltar with two and three strength Coastal Defense units. Breslau headed into a storm at Toulon and was ambushed by Allied submarines. Breslau expended one coal to perform an evasive action and navigated safely away from the storm. Two French troop convoys were cruising off Gibraltar. As usual, Goeben got the first salvo. Convoy 2 was sunk (+20VPs) and Convoy 3 (+10VPs) was withdrawn. Total accumulated VPs were at 51VPs, still nine short of the victory condition for the moment with just one more turn to go. Captain Ackermann ordered a shore bombardment against Gibraltar for a final gamble on the victory! It's a one in six chance for absolute winning by magazine explosion of the coastal defense units at Gibraltar. Another one in six chance of boosting the morale and win by rolling higher than five. Another one in six chance would cause public outrage, permanently wiping all hopes of victory! Two hits were made by Goeben's primary gun onto the 3-strength unit, boosting morale with 1VP (only!) and 3VPs for its elimination. The other 2-strength unit fired back with its primary gun but it failed to hit Goeben. The secondary gunfire by Goeben produced six hits on the unit. The German won the game as the unit's magazine was exploded and 4VPs more were gained to pass through the 60VPs required!

Overall, the gameplay was clean, easy to grasp and mechanical at times, though not without certain vagueness in some areas (e.g. damage count to the Allied ships vs. their armor ratings, firepower rating of torpedo attack, contact procedures during shore bombardment, etc.). The victory conditions of the missions might be sometimes too constrictive - the player has to accomplish victory within a very narrow window, and if luck leaves the player, disaster strikes at the most unsuspecting moments and not repairable. For example, the adverse public opinion scores to shore bombardment on the enemy naval base might be catastrophic, giving you wild swing from the positive VPs to negative ones. The risk and reward model in this game can be further refined. There are also some rules questions that cannot be answered in a straightforward manner by the rules but require further clarifications from the designers or house rules. Nothing detrimental though. Aside from that, this is perfectly a good naval wargame in which I learned a lot all things about the naval aspects. The articles that come with the magazine should also be read in conjunction with the game, deepening your immersion with it. Captain ordered maximum fire (two ammunition points were used) for a last chance attempt to destroy the valuable French convoys.
 
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17. Board Game: Clash of Empires: The Battle for France 1914 [Average Rating:6.88 Overall Rank:7517]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 18 October, 2014
Grand strategic treatment of WWI by Kerry Anderson back at the old 3W days, which was then well-received by the gamers. I have been wanting to play this magazine game for 28 years but no luck to find any opponent. A characteristic feature of this game is the tiny dot point to point map movement system. This is something done long before the Ted Racier's storm of WW1 games. So a due credit should be given to Kerry Anderson when the subject had not been so popular when the game was first originally issued.

AAR:
The game rules are very clean and elegantly written. Most units are division corps size as infantry corps can move one space (dot) to another and cavalry corps can move two. Army Headquarter can contain unlimited number of units and it serves as one major fog-of-war rule for by hiding the units being placed off-map on a display. The individual units on the map are also hidden from the other players by flipping over. This can be the major inconvenience of the gameplay for a magazine game but then the design is way ahead of Columbia's block game system which conveys a sense of fog-of-war in the same manner. In fact, there is a very high degree of similarity between the two, rotating the unit counters for denoting step losses arising out of combats.

The replacement system is interesting as the number of replacement steps available is determined by a dieroll, ranging from 2 to 5 steps replacement, which can be used to "rotate" back the unit or creating new unit in home country from the eliminated units previously. OOS units cannot receive any replacement, nor units in invested fortress either. They cannot conduct rail movement in their respective home country also. The Allies can rail movement three units while the German two per turn.

Combat is done when units from both sides occupying the same city. In the tradition of block game system, the number of dieroll that a player should roll equal to the total strength of all the units participating in combat - rolling six to hit for every step loss. Cavalry, as always, can retreat before combat.

Fortress and trench are two terrain types that can modify the number of attacker's dieroll by one or two less "per unit", depending on the strength of the fortress, or by one if attacking the trench. Both cannot be combined with one another. Woods reduces one dieroll less per unit. Attacking across ridge up slope is susceptible to first losses inflicted by the defender, while normally combat results of step losses should be applied simultaneously. Fortress can impede supply trace unless "invested" by at least one enemy unit remaining outside of such fortress. The enemy units can also pass through invested fortress. Trench can only be dug starting from turn 11. Supply can trace through enemy trenches. Trenches are removed once the hexes are left vacant with any friendly units and hence change of trenches for use by another side is not possible.

"Belgian coast was England's frontier." Hmm...great to know that. Anthony deployed deployed all his German forces down south along the French border and decided not to violate the Belgian neutrality. A very bold and nice experiment. The end result was a draw although we completed only nine turns. After digging and entrenchments deep into both sides own back, and after almost all French in the north were transported by rail to the south, we called it a day because the war began to be a matter of grinding and attrition to both sides. A large trunk of French territory was occupied by the German armies but not enough VPs to garner a German operational victory.

A genius feature of the game is that the designer allows the players complete flexibility of initial deployments, as long as they are within their own national boundary. The feature demonstrated the designer's confidence in the game's ability to offer authentic strategic choices in the commanders' mind. The player can forsake the German thinking of seeking decisive battles in Marne, race to the sea of English Channel or drive on Paris for immediate victory over France. Rather, the player can place all the units to the south for grasping the territory sufficient for operational victory. At the same time, the French is therefore not "scripted" to history with the offensive Plan 17. The level of flexibility in this game offers longevity of re-playability for what might have been an otherwise stalemate WWI game.

All in all, Clash of Empires is a great little gem, shining rarely, among the Wargamer magazines. A recommended game for every WWI strategic level wargamer.

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18. Board Game: Combat Commander: Battle Pack #3 – Normandy [Average Rating:8.56 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.56 Unranked]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 15 November 2014
2014 almost comes to a close. I found that I didn't play any game on the D-Day which happened exactly 60 years ago. This can't be possible and I have to correct it. I sought Anthony to agree to a game on the subject. While Anthony is a competitive guy in gaming, no other game better than Combat Commander Battle Pack on the campaign!

AAR:
6 June, 1944 0016. The British (me) 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckingham Light Infantry closed in the bridge across Caen Canal Bridge and slaughtered all the German (Anthony) 736th Grenadier Regiment by melee attacks, forcing the German surrender before the reinforcements of 716th Infantry Division could have time to retake the bridge, despite the event to raise one level of sudden death already. The German forward deployment paid the price for the battle. The British celebrated the tremendous success before the dawn.


I felt immensely into the story of being Captain John Howard, of the 2nd Oxfordshire and Buckingham Light Infantry, bravely leading the assault on the German 736th Grenadier's forward deployment in front of the bridge. Having three melee in high morale state, like "Wild Goose", the British wiped out all German units, thus captured the IG 18 gun for a reverse shooting against the reinforcing German counterattack. That's a cool story to read indeed for a long time to come.

Next up, Anthony thought the gameplay was good and would like to play another scenario from the pack - Graveyard of the North.

Scheduled play: 6 December 2014
 
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19. Board Game: Mythic Battles [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:3369]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 13 December 2014
I bought this after viewing Marco's video review and played it in the club recently. I was not disappointed but thought that the units could have been differentiated more to a greater degree. Some of the units have close enough attributes statistics not to mention that they might look alike very much during the gameplay. The game does deliver good time for an intense, close-out what-not classic engagement between good and evil. The humans were defeated by the God of death after the left flank was slaughtered by the Cerebus. Angus, Leo were on the Hades and they each owned an army. I played Athena and therefore have to look after two armies (hands) at the same time. The game doesn't work for three players as well as it could have been, two or four the best. I look forward to play the other two expansions with Angus.
 
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20. Board Game: Anima: Beyond Good and Evil [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:4568] [Average Rating:6.20 Unranked]
Lawrence Hung
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Wan Chai
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Scheduled play: 26 Dec, 2014
Free to play a solitaire game of this on Boxing Day and so I set it up in a minute on my table. A new Arcane character class is added in this first expansion to the base game. Other than this, seems that everything is the same, except that of course you can combine the decks of both into a single one (missions not mixed together though). While it is easy to pick up, the same omission of the mission creature combat capability is found to have carried through to this expansion rules. A minor quibble which is otherwise can be house-ruled by a good guess. I have to revert to the original version 1.10 rulebook by Anima Studio, which is not hard to find though in the internet. And yes, the mission creature's combat value is the same as its level.

AAR:
Several turns down the road saw that both parties (I played two at the same time) built up their teams at Karh. The first team led by Seer consisted of team members Witch, Pirate and Samurai. While laying a trap in Albidion in which the other team was lodging, the Seer team went to the Waste, where they sought advice to the next place with a -2 exploration dieroll. The Seer was seeking for Maisen, Midnight Castle or Temple of Gaira to complete her basic mission but these places were not on the map yet.

The second team led by Executor, had Watcher, Arcanist and Agent as well. They stopped at Albidion in an attempt to protect the Archbishop from Agents of Samael, a level 15 creature. Their current combat capability was 11 with a Blade of Storm (+3 to combat) and so they were optimistic about completing the first mission. They defeated the Agents after waiting for two turns in Albidion and the Bishop was protected. The team went Iron Finger and suddenly Dark Judgment arose! This is the most horrible encounter in the game, I think. I rolled an even number and all the advantage cards had to be gone! It's already better than the odd result where all the characters die instantly. But wait! I found that the team was already in Azur Alliance, a faction which ignore discard effect due to Events or losing combat. The Dark Judgement says it cannot be cancelled by any card or Ability. I determined that the Alliance was not a card to "cancel" the Dark Judgement like an interaction does but simply a card which ignores the discard effect. I have to check with the forum about this house ruling. Executor recruited the fifth member at Iron Finger, Arcane character Lucanor. They were now faster than the Seer's team.

The Seer went on seeking new horizons, revealing Iron Finger and Sherena but they were still not what the team was looking for. They had a good time in Iron Finger, passing through The Gate and defeating some encounters like Shadow of Azrael, Jayan, etc. They now had five (maximum) Advantage cards as reward. They were bumped out of Sheerena as it was guarded by Noht, a level two creature only but equal its combat value to that of the Party it is facing!

In Eldiah, the Executor's team was blessed (+2 combat). But the first encounter was Cursed Tree! Although it was defeated, the Watcher had to die after combat. Terrible loss. 2 more advantage cards were rewarded to the Executioner's team. The hand of Advantage cards was full. The Seer team, during the Reset, was allied with Al-Enneth which could ignore trap which caused hem to loose the turn.

The trap False Alarm laid by the Executioner at Karh cannot be ignored because it just increased the area level by one for larger monster to appear for the turn. Seers signed a Supernatural Act and Executioner could not use any Advantage card during the turn. Seer had a faster speed than Executioner and so she sought a new horizon to replace Iron Finger. It turned out to be her mission place Midnight Castle! The Gate to the castle forced Seer to loose an advantage card. She discarded War given that she was now behind in the mission race. At this moment, Shadow of Azrael descended into the castle, a level 18 monster! The Witch cast the spell to minus Azrael's combat value by two first. The team total combat value was 16 and there was no other Advantage to boost. They rolled a six (total 22), defeating Azrael's roll of three only (total 19). They rejoiced the triumph only shortly before the rise of another level 18 monster Hringham the Immortal for completing the mission! The Seer should have a tough time inside the castle but hoped to have the same luck. But they were defeated by a margin of dieroll of one and expelled from the castle. Executioner's team visited Karh in an attempt to recruit one more character to fill up the space left out by Watcher. A successful exploration recruited Wanderer to the team. They were happy to have her on board. The Supernatural Pact ended in no harm to the party.

The Seer attempted the mission in the Midnight Castle again. They left Al-Enneth and entered into its enemy faction - Varja for +2 combat. Talking about mercenaries. The team explored the castle and now it was only lightly defended by Jayan, which was easily defeated. The Witch saved her spell for the Immortal. The Seer's team defeated the Immortal this time with 24 to 20! At Deimos, the Executioner explored successfully. Instead, they swindled and lost the Mark of Summoning. Afterwards, the Explorer drew one more Advantage card into the hand and then discarded the Seal.

The Executioner found the Sea of Sand, which located Khaine through Teleportation. The Seer visited Khaine and Laboratory of the Sun (+1 to all dieroll next turn). The Seer went to Sea of Sand and doing the same, locating Maisen, the team's second mission place through teleportation, discarding Executioner's Khaine! The Seer won the next speed dice and so they visited Maisen and won the tournament there. The final mission "The Last Fragment" was unleashed in the Lightless Hall.

The Seer passed the speed test with Acrobatic Movement (+5 to Speed), resulting in a speed of 20 which meant they had to remain in the Hall for one turn in order to face and defeat Proto Genesis, a level 16 creature. Millenium initiated a Surprise Attack (a Trickery card +3 combat)! After both sides rolled a 6, the Seer's party defeated Proto Genesis by 25 (16+3+6) to 22 (16+6)! The world was saved from Omega! Congratulation to Seer, Millenium, Pirate, Witch and Samurai!






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21. Board Game: Mythic Battles: Expansion 1 – The Bloody Dawn of Legends [Average Rating:7.64 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.64 Unranked]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 3 January, 2015
Mythic Battles is hot on my plate now. Siu wanted to play a game with me and I therefore suggested it to him. He gladly accepted. It does show how thematic and alluring this game is. Since I already learned the base game, I grabbed the chance to take the next step forward to its expansion game I, which adds in new types of units and new aquatic terrain.

AAR:
I came to realize more fully the potential of the system through experience - how to use the Art of War cards to generate power points (two for each discarded AoW card) or find the specific unit maneuver cards (one for one exchange) at a time of danger, to retreat or at an opportune time, to attack. The unit maneuver cards also do the discard similarly. They can be discarded for power points equal to the unit's leadership value (two if the unit has already been destroyed on the mapboard) or three of them can be discarded to draw two new cards from the deck. It sounds like Combat Commander - that you want to go through the deck to find the cards you want and need and determine at what pace of doing such "deck-sipping".

We chose scenario 5, The Clash of Heroes, in the campaign which restricts the no. of Art of War cards to seven (normally it's ten). The campaign is set in a historical pretext only, that you can play any individual scenario from the campaign anytime. There are not many units on both sides, Hades and Athena, while the latter has one more unit than the dark side of force (i.e. 8 vs. 7). The victory condition is to reduce the other side no. of units to three.

A unit is activated when its card is played onto the table. A defender can "counterattack" when it is attacked by doing the same activation. A unit can move and then combat, though at a lesser efficiency. The system of attack rolls is a bit convoluted initially but it becomes intuitive after a while. Basically you are looking for a roll of 5. For those between 1 and 3, they can be added as one to the other dice result in order to achieve a 5. For each 5, you can re-roll it (or simply using another dice) and add it to the result of 5 for a total attack value.

To have a successful hit on a unit, you need to have the final attack value which exceeds or equal to the unit's current defense value, thus inflicting a "wound". Heavy units have higher level of "vitality", meaning that they can suffer more hits than that of the lower. A unit's stack of cards represent its current state and the stack turns to the next card in the deck for each wound inflicted. I was "fortunate" to take the Hades' last (fourth) unit, though hidden in a forest, on my right flank to win the game.

You use power points to activate the special talents of your units. For example, it cost you two power points to activate Infernal Bombardment of Infernal Auditor (a Hades unit) to drop bomb onto different enemy units while flying over them, with attack roll of three dices each. Otherwise, an Infernal Auditor attacks normally to the adjacent unit with an attack value of four. Athena units are mostly foot soldiers like Spartan and Hoplite. They walk rather slowly before engaging enemy. They are accompanied by Sisters of Athena, whose ranged attack is the strongest and longest than other rangers in the game. However, again, they are slow units with a movement value of one. Most of the Athena units therefore have to walk in a close and compact formation forward, while slowly, lending support to each other with talents like Arching Shot, Assault Support, Sentry, etc.

Mythic Battles Expansion 1 adds in new units. Athena now has a powerful mythical creature called Arachne. Its talent to perform a ranged attack (even capable to do so during engagement) which shoot Web of Arachne with possible entrapment of the enemy unit. The trapped unit cannot counterattack or use its Talents, and has -1 to its defense value. Besides, discarding the trapped unit's Maneuver card cannot generate power point! These effects are cancelled when the trapped unit makes an attack on the web and succeeds to free itself. The expansion also adds in new character Heroes. They have special rule governing their ability written on their cards. They don't have unit token like other combat units for use on the map. When the Hero card is drawn, the player can apply the special effects! For example, Athena Tiresias the Seer can choose three cards from the draw pile on his own free will! Overall, the expansion game worth the price of adding new layers of fun and depth to the base game.

Mythic Battles is not as simple as a veteran would think, despite its relatively simple turn structure. It is a test of mettle and wits between the two Armies and players. The combination of variables both at your hand and battlefield drain the players brainpower slowly with units' multiple talents, the cards in your hand and on your table, and with player's own foresight as to what would happen in a constantly changing landscape, in which both players have to be highly aware of the situations and utilize the terrain to the units' best advantage. The Hades have some speedy flying units (e.g. Infernal Auditor) to change the situation in the next minute. It is not just a hack-and-slash game. On average, a scenario can be completed in three hours. Best for two players. While I can't see why it can't be played in solitaire mode, it would be too taxing to do so.
 
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22. Board Game: Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit Bonus Pack #1 – Beyond the Beaches [Average Rating:7.73 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.73 Unranked]
Lawrence Hung
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Scheduled play: 18 January (solo), 14 February, 2015
Jerome and I return to ASLSK1 after it has been awhile for things learned to be subsisted. I find that this Bonus Pack adds three more infantry scenarios into the package, perfectly suitable for us to dive deeper into the system with the introduction of hedges as terrain conferring bonuses to the defender. But I decide to go to the hedge-free scenario Clearing Carentan first.

AAR:
The pack contains three new SK infantry-only scenarios and a new mapboard "p". The mapboard comes with a new type of terrain, namely, the hedge. The rules on explanation of the hedge are printed at the back of a scenario, Clearing Carentan (S43), seeing actions of the 506th Parachute Infantry Element under the command of Brig. General Anthony McAuliffe on 12 June, 1944. They know they are facing some German rearguard defensive operations inside the town of Carentan, populated by about 4,000 French. This scenario, however, uses mapboard n from SK1, not mapboard p. The other two scenarios uses mapboard p.

Carentan is the final juncture for the paratroopers' onward push to the Cotentin Peinsular. The German Fallschirmjager Regiment 6 are hiding inside the stone houses, waiting for the approaching of the enemy. The High Command has already prepared some artillery support to the Fallschirmjager, and the Germans are determined to hold the town for another day while the reinforcement is forming up. I have been at Carentan once, I mean, in the game of ATS Basic Game 1a Screaming Eagle. So I am familiar with the background history of this ASLSK scenario. I decided to give this scenario a go. Besides, reading the scenarios and their SSRs has always been fun!

On the other hand, my head is aching with the LOS and TEM rules for the hedges. The way these rules are written presumes you know COT, "advantage", Bog Check, etc., concepts which are not yet covered by ASLSK1 learned by me. Subsequently I found that they are concepts covered in ASLSK2 (COT) and ASLSK3 (Bog Check). Anyway, I hope I can figure it out, with sentence like this:

"A hedge lying length-wise (on a hexspine) exactly along a LOS is a LOS obstacle only if the hedge hexspine is not touching the viewing or target hex, or if touching one of the viewing/ target hexes and the vertex opposite of the viewing/ target hex has walls/ hedges on all of its three hexspines."

My God, vertex opposite.

Clearing Carentan is a house-to-house U.S. sweeping action against the rearguard German garrison at the 4,000 populated town. The initial German disposition is unknown to the U.S. and the Germans have prepared two artillery strikes. The U.S. have to move cautiously and carefully, assessing the possibility of the location of the German artillery strikes. Since the German secretly plot the strikes, this scenario cannot be played solitaire (the other two also have similar secret strikes or troop deployment).

I have read the Sequence of Play written by Jay Richardson last night and I found that I have always been missing something - the Residual Fire and ELR check for possible squad reduction! It's like a newfound land. I wonder if the term "opportunity fire" was invented actually at the time when the original Squad Leader was released. The use of "Defensive Fire" as a substitution of "opportunity fire" seems to be a relic from the past. The reading also taught me how to maneuver around the enemy while minimising possible losses, as casualties are expected and should be factored in. It is quite an enlightening reading I ever had.

In Carentan, the best German strategy seems to be doing what they did historically - garrison in hiding. The Germans can hide in two hexes - should they be out on the corner of the roads or inside the Stone houses? Should they be split into two stacks only or be more spread to cover more of the possible approaches? These are the key questions to answer and they definitely affect the German gameplay. A German squad, carried with a heavy machine gun, is spotted in the middle of the main road in Carentan. To avoid death call, the Americans best road to Carentan seems to be going north along the flanking road on the right, instead of the main road in the center, and reach for the houses opposite next door, while ducking to the German machine gun spray fire. Do they concentrate or do they split to minimize the chance of being bombarded by the German artillery?

Lt. Dalton was dead in an attempt to dash across the street (M4), shot right into his head from the German MMG with a range of 12. Smokes were laid but still some men were broken crossing that street. Captain Tracy was wounded and he was left behind after moving him to safety. The rest of the men, finally reached Major K Tyson, whose squad forced out German's left flank under Sergeant Krause in the row of village houses. Tyson placed demolition charge next to the German but did no harm to Lt. Frietag's squad defending the center of the town. Frietag's MMG went malfunctioned during the subsequent defensive fire. The other American squads went to the second row of houses in the village, with half them broken upon arriving near the Germans.

In a personal fight between Major Tyson and Lt. Freitag, Tyson got wounded and routed back into a house across the road. One squad remained and locked in a melee inside the house and both sides survived the fight. The Americans on the other side of the row were fired by Sergeant Krause and broken too. Major Tyson called it for the day for a general retreat and regroup. The German won the day.

 
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23. Board Game: Twilight Struggle [Average Rating:8.35 Overall Rank:4]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
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Scheduled play: 14 February, 2015
Tournament play. I was matched with Angus, who stick to Iraq in a madness. I was lot to him by turn four as the U.S. In another friendly game afterward as I lost the game so early, I was beaten again as the U.S. by the same turn on turn four. I was no match at all to Angus who was so good at gameplay in a sportsman-like manner. He knew the game too well, although he claimed that he only played the game twice. There are seven other games in the tournament and my chance of winning the title is dim. Now I hope the digital version of Twilight Struggle can be out in time for me to practice like mad-dog, with a view to hold up some insurmountable red-tide coming.
 
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24. Board Game: Combat Commander: Europe [Average Rating:7.90 Overall Rank:102]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
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Scheduled play: 27 February, 2015
Christian and I resume our regular VASSAL session and originally we plan to play Combat Commander Battle Pack Nr. 3 Normandy. Nonetheless the module seems doesn't work with that. We have to resort to the base game. I choose scenario 4 Closed for Renovation, a fighting over the control of a small Belgium town Humaine on December 27, 1944. The German Reich is about to collapse but the Germans in Belgium are still determined to fight to the last minute.

AAR:
The German remnants of 9th Panzer Division occupy a chateau on the north end of the town, with two heavy and light machine guns each. Some wires are deployed on the road junction, channeling the U.S. 2nd Armored Division Lt' Wray's squads into the woods right behind the outer wall of the chateau. Apart from the wires, the German also deployed hidden mines in the wooded areas. Although the mines did hit Sergent Buehler (equipped with radio), and a squad of satchel charge, they failed to do any harm at all. The German weapon team of the heavy machine gun and squad of IG 18mm gun were broken by the Allied airstrike, though the heavy machine gun team recovered very soon. Nonetheless, the yankees have been closing into the chateau by this time!

 
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25. Board Game: Warpath [Average Rating:6.73 Unranked]
Lawrence Hung
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Wan Chai
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Scheduled play: 25 February, 2015
Another quite accessible game from my favorite designer Joesph Miranda on the Civil War, focusing on the Indian operations in its territories bordering the states of Texas and Kansas. The actions happened mainly in the southern part of the territories near the north of Arkansas. I read the rules and punch the counters in no time for a solitaire study, while I realize that the chance is slim for me to find an opponent with this.

AAR:
The map is by Joe Youst, functional but it feels primitive, perhaps due to the very tight production schedule. At a glance, the map looks like an IT network diagram with cloud and oval-shaped locations, linking the major avenues among them. Touch-up to the map is rare and in consolation, the leaders of both sides are depicted at the edge of the map but then two of the Union generals are missing - Weer and Cloud. I wonder if it is too hard or time is too short for Joe to obtain the pictures with copyright permission. Anyway, Albert Pike is featured as a Confederate general, which means much to the South.

The Confederates come from Taxas from the west side of the map while the Union stage its operation from the East in Kansas. The Union objective is to control all the five Indian Nation capitals which are all under Confederate control initially. A turn begins with an initiative dieroll - the higher wins the initiative and performs the Campaign Phase actions first. The Campaign Phase is core to the gameplay in which the player's action depends on the action markers being drawn. You can feel the campaign is built up slowly through recruitment of units as they are not placed on the map at all during set-up. They only enter the map through drawing the recruitment action marker.

The Wild Indians would go home at the end of the turn and so if they occupy a landing fort on either side, they would delay the newly recruited to the side for one whole turn, should either side determine not to fight a battle with the Indians. Unless the Wild Indians chit is pulled right up again in the next turn, the best strategy for both sides is to recruit enough troops in the landing forts, Fort Atkinson to the Union and Fort Belknap to the Confederate. The Union in the north is obliged to go south along the Cimarron River or Canadian River, as all the five Indian capitals are in the lower part of the map. There are some strategies for both sides to ponder with about the axis of advance for the Union or sphere of defense for the Confederate. I agree that the first few turns are of particular importance to the Union for a quick victory but then the game is not yet over for them even if the Confederate build up the defenses.

At the winter of 1863, the first major engagement was broken out at Choteau's as the Confederate 29th Texas Volunteer Cavalry Regiment and St Martin Cavalry Regiment, together with Krumhaar's artillery, attacked Union's forward element, the 3rd Winsconsin Infantry, which captured Seminole Town Wewoka, the first Indian Tribal capital under Union's control. The Confederate won the battle because of more numbers in men. By the summer of 1863, the Confederate took back Seminole Town Wewoka. Wier's Union force reinforced the position, crossing the North Fork of the Canadian River, that the 3rd Winsconsin Infantry retreated into. At the same time, Confederate completed the fort at Tahlequah, another tribal capital, in view of the closing in of Salomon's force.

1864 saw the rapid buildup by both sides in an attempt to secure the tribal forts. The Union was on the downside as they did not capture any fort yet. Time seemed to be closing in. Wier's force went downstream to battle back the Seminole Town Wewok. The Confederate responded by raising a huge cavalry army under Waite in winter. In the south, the Union Salomon's force maneuvered around Tahlequah for an assault on Fort Smith, only resulted in a repulse by the Confederate Indian Choctaw tribal force! Talking about defending your own home turf.

As both sides built up their forces by increasing mobilization of the troops, 1864 summer saw two major campaigns, one each for the two sides. The Confederates under Cabell pursued Salomon out of Fort Smith for a march towards the Union's base at Fort Scott. This left For Smith undefended. Salomon raised sufficient troops 10th Kansas and 2nd Colorado just in time for defeating Cabell's besieging force, containing the Choctaw Indian units and some of the very best cavalry units from Texas, and Krumha artillery. After the failure, Cabell retreated and settled at Coady's Bluff by Union's "fortune of war" (the drawer of the cit moved the other side of the forces). Taking the opportunity, Weer brought his forces from Seminole Town Wewoka, which proved to be a crucial Union's outpost, down the Canadian River to Fort Smith. The Union high command ordered immediate fortification works at both Fort Smith and Seminole Town Wewoka, solidifying their positions in the middle of the Indian territories.

The last turn winter 1864 saw the Union desperate to capture Tahlequah from the Confederate. Attacking the tribal capital from all three sides, Fort Smith, Fort Scott and the marching force under Salomon, it was a bloodbath for the Confederate. Albert Pike was killed in action and Cabell retreated into the last batison at Seminole Town Wewoka. While the Union was prepared for another assault, the Confederate drew a chit to end the winter. The Confederate won the game as they controlled Fort Belknap and Marshall, while establishing a stronghold at Seminole Town Wewoka.

Aside from the story, I would like to touch upon engineer unit and devastation. Defending units ignore panic result from combat. But if the attacking units is stacked with an engineer unit in a siege, the defending units treat panic result as elimination! This is a magic unit and don't forget about them. The Union have two engineers while the Confederate have just one, representing the Union side having more men and materials. Another touchy point is devastation. The devastation markers should be put into the drawing bag together with other action and event markers. I forgot to do it! The effect of devastation on movement is that unit starting in a devastation space without a supply unit can only move half the movement allowance. That means an infantry can only go one space instead of the normal two. Both sides units can also devastate a space by simply spending an action to do it and I also forgot about that! So there should be a lot more devastation to see in my current game, hindering a lot of the maneuvers.

Overall, I like the game as it is. It is a simple game, but with some chromes which are telling the campaign very well. The pace of mobilization by both sides determine the tempo of the game. Should the Union go forward and establish outposts early enough for holding the Confederate reinforcements, which are generally slower than the Union but advantaged to travel a shorter distance into the Indian territories. The rules on fortification by spending supply units pose problems very reminiscent to the actual Union's mobilization priorities: should they bring the Supply Units which walk like snail and cost convoy troops for fending off the Wild Indian attacks from time to time, while losing the time of building up the previous said outposts? Or should the Union instead raise and bring the engineer facilitating the siege of the Confederates' forts inland? On the Confederate side, an early capture of Fort Smith is crucial to the survival of their campaign. If Fort Smith is in the hand of the Union, all the Confederate units inside the Indian territories would be easily isolated from the Confederate controlled Texas border. The game offers a lot of strategic choices to be made and a lot of maneuvers possibilities. The only downside is the dice-heavy combat system, rolling four or three dices per unit each time and if there is a big battle between both sides, you need a dice program to help you. It is a game on all but somewhat unusual campaign in the Indian territories during the American Civil War. For those who are interested in the subject, this is one good game as food for thoughts of the campaign. Overall: A-
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