Welcome to the September 2014 edition of Solitaire Games on Your Table
SGOYT is going to have a little different feel than previous months. September is going to be no-pressure month here at the 1-Player Guild. There has been some talk about funk* and people feeling overwhelmed with the sheer size of SGOYT. Now don't get me wrong, bigger is better, but I don't want anyone to feel that they are required to do something, or guilty about not doing something, or letting us down if they aren't around too much. There are many friends here and we always like to see each other, but not at the expense of our enjoyment.
The SGOYT is about playing solo games and that's what I want to emphasize this month. Just play some games. You can post about games if you want, you can read some posts if you want, you can make long posts, short posts, you can comment, or do none of the above. Whatever is most fun for you is what matters.
Like I said, it's a no-pressure month. Just play games and participate in SGOYT as much, or little, as you like. There is no challenge this month either. I am going to give away some GeekGold, but it will be completely random, you won't have to do anything to get it. I'll choose some posts, comments, and people who thumbed something to be possible winners. I'll use a d20 roll and on an even number: GeekGold! See, it's all about having fun, and really, what's more fun than winning something on a die roll.
So get out there and play some solo games. Maybe we'll see you and maybe we won't. (But I do hope to see you.) Most importantly, have fun.
VAST: The Crystal Caverns The Fearsome Foes The Mysterious Manor
DV: Anakin Skywalker was weak. I destroyed him. AT: Then I will avenge his death. DV: Revenge is not the Jedi way. AT: I am no Jedi.
After all the stress and craziness of last month, it's nice to see the "no-pressure" theme for this month's list.
So far I've only played one game this month (at all, not just only one game solo), but it's a good one. I was fortunate enough to get involved in playtesting for Trove, by David Somerville. It's an asymmetrical 2-4 player dungeon crawler, where all four players have a completely different goal they need to accomplish while still interacting. The Knight needs to find and kill the Dragon (while fighting off Goblins), the Goblins want to kill the trespassing Knight (while trying to avoid getting eaten by the Dragon), while the Dragon simply wants to escape. The fourth player plays the Cave itself, and wants to lure everyone as deeply inside as possible before collapsing and killing them all.
There are still some a few bugs to work out and some balance tweaking to do, but the core rules are pretty solid.
There are unfortunately no solitaire options or variants nor do I expect there to be any, but it's not like that limitation has ever stopped anyone on these lists from playing a game solo.
Just wrapped up my first attempt, a solo 3 player effort.
Here's a pic of the final situation:
The allied forces didn't cross the Rhine; as you can see from the photo food became a bit of an issue. The game ended with the last Axis Marker being placed by Bradley. Monty made a last gasp dash and the British XII Corps snatched Antwerp for two medals. Patton ultimately won with 7 medals, Bradley second with 5 and Monty coming in last with 3 medals.
Early in the game I know I played a number of rules incorrectly:
- after you use a commander's ability you flip the card and can't use the ability again until after the Supply Check Interphase; a big reason Patton was able to advance so far so quickly. Oops.
- neglecting to remember the Truck Placement limit when transporting supplies. Had a few 3/4/5 truck supply chains that shouldn't have been allowed.
- similarly forgetting the Players Truck Limit, although this was easily corrected and didn't have any impact on the game (I think).
Interestingly Patton's quick advance bogged down pretty rapidly as the met the advancing tide of Axis Markers placed by Bradley and Monty. Even with the Limited Supply Bases on the southern map edge Patton struggled to supply his corps quick enough to make significant progress against the areas occupied by Axis Markers - the forces in the Axis deck are tough!
Monty seems to have a really tough time of it but I can see isn't impossible. I feel that making Antwerp a priority and ignoring the occupied coastal limited supply bases/forts is a good strategy.
All in all this is a fantastic game; the production quality is first class and doesn't disappoint in any way; one of the best in my collection I would say. The game is definitely a wargame, with a feel similar in ways to OCS games; OCS-lite you might say. Obviously I have only played one game, incorrectly at that, and while Patton did run away with things I can see that this is a nicely balanced game - I guess more plays will tell.
I will try the solo game at some point however it doesn't seem as fun. I'm not a fan of just trying to beat a previous score; with repeated plays you're just playing to beat the mechanics and the (all important) theme is diluted.
Super game, I look forward to playing this again some time.
I haven't really posted many games the past few months. Not as many, at least, as when this whole thing kicked off. New job and new house and new baby and all that stuff.
But I'm leaving this evening to head to the beach for a few days as my wife and I's last pre-baby vacation. My wife goes to the beach to sit and read all day. And I go to the beach to sit inside and play solo games. I've a got a few specific ones packed, but I thought I'd offer it up to the group to see what they'd like to see!
Whatever I play I'll post here with my normal amount of detail and nitpicky review. So what would you like to see?
These are the games I'm most likely to play. I'm bringing a couple others I'm sure I'll try, so didn't put that on the list. But if there's something I own that you'd like info on that ISN'T on this poll, well, see if you can talk me into it!
Ok, so given the vote above I packed up 1944, Shadowrun, and a couple others I've been itching to play. After a brief run out to the Krispy Kreme for breakfast, and a grocery store run for beer, I got Race out, punched, shuffled, set up, and read through the rules.
The rules are ok. Not amazing, but serviceable. There are a few touchy areas that I had to re-read a few times (if X then the closest non-Y does Z if, and only if, the next closest Y isn't Z when X is not Y, gah!). But I got through it. Once you get playing those make more sense.
I set it up to play two-player, but decided, nah, let's just jump right into the solo play. I played totally basic rules (no airborne, no special abilities, no weather), and I played Patton as it seemed like his area of the board would be the most basic (maybe?).
The rules are in the files section, but briefly:
You get 3 (as Patton and Bradley, 4 as Monty) corps blocks that start at the bottom (west side) of the board. In solo play, your job is to get one of those corps across the Rhine, meaning to get them all the way to far end (east) of the board.
To move a block you must spend a fuel. It can then move up to three spaces, but every new space it enters you must draw a card. These can range from giving you resources to doing nothing to giving you an enemy to fight. To fight, you expend ammo and sometimes also fuel. Every now and then there's a reset phase that requires you to also spend one food. So you have three resources you need to juggle on each corps, and each only has 6 spaces to hold resources.
New resources come in at the bottom of the board (and sometimes farther up if you capture the right spots). You then use trucks to move them space to space to your corps. Once used, trucks stay on the board and block up that shipping route. Once you run out of trucks you can take more, but doing so causes the reset phase which causes you to need food. However it also clears your trucks from the board so you can use those routes again to ship new supplies.
At first it seems easy. Your corps start with some resources and you can just spend some gas and VROOM you're off. But the farther you get from your supply depot, the more turns it takes to ship stuff out to you. Which causes the need for more trucks, which takes time, thus taking food.
As you take over areas you also have to keep in mind what the German defense is doing. The final third or so of the board is filled with tokens with numbers ranging from 3 to 18. Every two actions you take, you roll 3d6 and flip one of these tokens over to become a nasty enemy defense. Sometimes there are also fortifications you have to deal with which cost you an extra ammo. You also need to leave some of your corps back to defend, as any ares you've captured on the front that aren't adjacent to a corps can be retaken by the Germans.
There are moves your corps can make that'll cost 1 fuel to move, 1 ammo to take the fort, and 1 fuel and 2 more ammo to defeat the defenses. Assuming you're also holding onto 1 food for the inevitable reset phase, that's everything that corp could hold. Now they're sitting there waiting for a shipment of new resources and you realize you've still got to take actions to ACQUIRE those resources and then probably 2 or 3 more to ship them out! (And by the time you do that you've used up their food.)
This was a good learning game for me. There's a puzzle you have to figure out about what resources you're going to ship, and to which corps. Where you're going to park your corps to hold the areas you've taken, and how you're planning on pushing through the defenses. I did none of these things well.
I pushed one corp ahead, leaving the two others to hold areas to keep my supply lines open. The way the defenses were popping up, there was a wide open path across the Rhine, and I wanted to take advantage of it. But I ended up trying to protect too much, and stupidly lost my forward supply areas. This meant I had to bring in all my resources from the back. Which takes AGES. While my troops just sit there and twiddle their thumbs.
I had to get food to my corps, but doing so would require me to use trucks I didn't have, thus causing those corps to be unable to move until I fed them. So my front-line guy was great but his backup stalled. And once they couldn't move, I couldn't correct my mistake and it was going to many turns to get my forward supply bases back to make any sort of headway on the supply problem.
In the meantime, that gap in the line I was aiming for closed up. I got to within three spaces of the Rhine before I called it. All three spaces would require a fight that could use most of a corps' resources, and there was no quick way to get them there.
Which brings me to what I DON'T like about this game, at least solo. And it's directly answering Gary's question. There is no way to not eventually get across the Rhine. If I wanted to, I could leave two of my corps hungry, dump ammo and fuel at my main supply base, and run it eastward over 4 turns. That would allow the corp to make probably one attack to the east, using up most of these resources, and I'd start the process over again.
I could see that I could do it. Because you can't not. You could do it BETTER. You could be more efficient. But you can't not eventually get there. So you're basically shooting for a score, in number of turns taken. And this is less interesting to me.
It's the same problem I have with Rallyman. Both are great games, but I'm just ending with a score that doesn't mean much to me. I need to WIN. Rallyman is great when played in a league or face to face with other opponents. And I think Race is a pretty incredible game, but I'm not sure I'll ever play it solo. Having an opponent there gives you a reason to be efficient.
When playing an opponent, if no one makes it across the Rhine (which is very likely), then you win by getting medals. You get medals mostly from fighting. Which is the OPPOSITE of what you want to do if you're trying to sprint for the Rhine. This is a great way to screw with a player: do you take the move that's slow but gets you point that won't matter if someone makes it across, or do you take the move that's faster across to the Rhine but skips the points you'll need to win if no one makes it. This great aspect of the game is completely absent from the solo game.
This is all after one aborted game, so I'll probably come back here and type up more eventually. But from what I've seen so far Race has a ton of depth. It's a euro game hidden behind a theme that I actually enjoy. It's a puzzle that you have to solve better than opponents if you want to win, but solo it just times you and I'm left without much reason to play.
There are two other generals to play, each that look to play quite a bit differently. And there are a ton of more advanced rules. What I don't know now is if I'll wait to try that stuff when I can experience the full game with an opponent, or if I'll try it solo just to try it. We'll see!
I got in one more game while it was set up. Patton again, with just the basic rules. Some other thoughts:
Components are really great. Lots of wood. The cards are nice. They use symbols instead of text, which is annoying for your first couple of games. I still had to go look a couple of them up by the end of the second game, and there's plenty of room on the card for a description.
The board is a little overwhelming at first, but starts to make sense as you play. They did a great job using icons as rule reminders. For example, to move into a fortified area you have to also expend an ammo. There's a little fort on the space. However there's also a little ammo box with a slash through it. There are these sorts of reminders all over the place, which I really like.
The game is hard. Both game, at the start, I just stare at the board and think "I have no idea what to do." Through the first game I felt that way most of the time. The second game was a bit better since I had rules down, but I still don't have a grasp on how to do things WELL. The problem is, there's no way for me to really know. There's nothing in the rulebook that says something like "Patton - 10 - 15 turns = minor victory." So I don't have a way to judge. Multiplayer you've got a way to judge right there, the opposition's standings.
I can see some people not enjoying the game. It's very heavy. Multiplayer it's going to be cutthroat and difficult. Handling your resources, your trucks, your defenses, paying attention to the timer, all while trying to do it better than the other players, and looking for weakspots in them to exploit. Many turns in my games felt similar to turns in something like Mage Knight, where I have this very complicated puzzle to figure out, tons of things to handle, and I can only see it being harder with opponents. Some people may see this game more as a chore than fun.
I love it. I think it's a clever design, a theme I like, and a very meaty and complex game that'll reward smart play and take practice to get good at. However, I won't be playing it solo anymore. Just not enough there to keep me interested.
I've been itching to play 51st state again - it's been a love/hate game of mine for a while. In general it's a game that I want to like, but was never too sure about it - good mechanics, nice artwork; but it just seemed too long when I played it 2 handed.
I discovered the official solo variant for scoring, and well...
It plays much quicker, but you're simply going for a high score and working on different card combinations. To me it's more of a way to get used to the game and mechanics in order to teach the game than a true solo experience. For me that's disappointing.
I think there's some potential for AI in this game in order to have an "opponent" to outscore; or perhaps I should be looking more at the New Era / Winter expansions to get a more "interactive" experience where the AI consistently raids your buildings.
I also played two solo games of 7 Wonders earlier in the month.
My friend paid us a visit in August and he brought this game with him. We played a total of eight games (with and without the expansions) with three to five players. I liked the first plays, but didn't care for the game in the last ones. I felt it was difficult to do badly and that a lot of the choices were obvious.
I heard of solo variants and decided to check them out. I also wanted to play two games to complete 10 games as part of the Play 10x10 Games Challenge.
This is a three player variant. The cards are dealt out to each of the players. At the beginning of each turn a one card is drawn from the "AI" player's piles and is added to the player's hand. There is a checklist which prioritizes what card should be played be the AI players. This checklist is different in each of the eras.
It is quite an interesting variant, but I found that I could manipulate the other player's choices and force them to make bad decisions. Also, one of the players ran out of coins and had problems building anything. A human player would have probably sold a card for 3 coins and went on from there.
I played as Olympia against Rhodes and Alexandria. I won quite easily. I deleted the scores by accident (I used the 7 Wonders scorer app on the iPhone), but I think they were something like 54-40-30.
This one is basically like the one before, but the priorities are a little bit different. I thought this was a little bit more complicated, but the game was better. In some cases (especially in the third era) the AI turns could take a while, because all the options had to be analyzed and the one which gave the most victory points had to be chosen. And one of the options was to sell a card (which was most useful to the other players) to the bank for coins ;-) Also, once I specifically played different the rules instructed. An AI player had to choose a card which would give him the most points. If I went strictly with this rule he would have chosen a blue 8VP card. But I decided to choose a blue 7VP card for him instead, because I would have been able to play the 7VP card for myself and I couldn't play the 8VP card.
The game was quite difficult. One of the players grabbed a ton of resources and was able to build almost anything. The other happened to have a lot of military and science.
When counting the points I thought I lost by one point (and I really didn't want to play again), but I found I calculated the military points wrong for the (now) second player.
The final scores were: Left Hand Player (Helikarnassos) - 38 (9 military, 2 treasury, 9 civilian, 18 science) Right Hand Player (Babylon) - 49 (6 military, 10 wonders, 18 civilian, 14 guilds, 1 science) Me (Ephesos) - 54 (-3 military, 6 treasury, 10 wonders, 19 civilian, 2 commerce, 10 guilds, 9 science)
Quite a close game.
I think the variants are quite good (especially the second one) and are similar to playing a multiplayer game.
I think my distaste for the game has decreased since August ;-) I don't think I would ask for this game to be played, but I wouldn't run away if someone suggested it.
Picked this up after a math trade last year but never got around to playing it yet. Of course I read the rules months ago (I have a love of reading rule books) and gave it a quick refresher before I played.
This is very much in line with other States of Siege type games (although not technically part of the series). You have different tracks you need to monitor, various things happen on card draws, and you need to roll greater than a showed value for most things to be successful. The end goal is to find all the Apostles, have Jesus arrive in Jerusalem, have Judas Iscariot arrive in Jerusalem, and have one of the main players in Jesus' trials arrive in Jerusalem (Caiaphas, Herod Antipas, or Pontius Pilate). And you need all three of those last things to happen at once. There are some rules which assist with that, such as bringing Judas forward a little if Jesus makes it there, and having one of the other players move down if Judas makes it there. when all is said and done, there are different victory charts you look at depending on which or those three things have occurred and how many renown you have (Apostles and Faith).
Recruiting or teaching Apostles is done by a blind draw of un-flipped counters. There are a few Followers in there as well which do not have any direct impact on the game, but end up using an action. You need to Find Judas this way, and that is what resulted in my defeat. I only managed to grab him near the end, and I was having a rough time holding back the others from entering Jerusalem. You can use other Apostles as a delaying tactic in stopping the three from moving down, but you risk losing them as they may get killed. That happened to me twice. There is also a neat matching "mini-game" you need to do to possibly perform miracles.
All in all, I really enjoyed this as a game. I thought there were a lot of challenging decisions on how to spend my actions. It is difficult to try and juggle so many needed end of game objectives. You have to hold everyone back long enough to find all the Apostles, you have to maintain Jesus' faith level as temptation may lower his ability to perform particular actions, there are a variable number of actions per turn so you cannot plan too far ahead, the randomness of the Apostle draw and the miracles seems like it can make for a lot of variety between games. A lot of things to enjoy here.
As far as theme, I am not offended by a game that is trying "game-ify" the life of Jesus. I don't want to speak for the designer on his intent, but for the events to have played out historically, there are a lot of things that needed to happen. I feel this game does a very good job in demonstrating the difficulty to have achieved that outcome. Small changes in events could have resulted in a very different outcome for all of Christianity. So kudos to the designer for finding a way to demonstrate the difficulty in achieving those events in an educational, challenging, and enjoyable way.
This leads me to think that replicating difficult historical outcomes can be said for any great person of historical or religious importance. I would actually find it fascinating to have a similar game for someone like Siddhartha or Martin Luther King Jr. It takes but a small change in life to have history change.
Even looking at my life, I sometime am in wonder at the chain of events that have brought me to where I stand. I wouldn't have the three beautiful children I have if my wife didn't throw that penny at me.
Please forgive my elementary camera skills...no pun intended in a session detailing a photographic mission.
Pre-Mission: The “Commander” opted to play the British and drew a photographic reconnaissance (recon) mission card that allocated 16 turns to complete the flight with a BE2C two-seater escorted by two of my squadron’s SE5A fighters. A die assigned the squadron to the airfield at Thiepval located just outside the town of the same name. Further random checks pinpointed the town of Beaumont as my photographic objective. As long as I don’t linger and take too many photographs, the flight should be able to reach Beaumont and return within the 16 turns.
Mission Turn 1: My flight takes off and heads toward the front lines. The weather is clear with no clouds! Wow -- a great roll for a photography mission! The “Commander” selected Peter and Harry to escort my two-seat recon aircraft. Peter is well experienced and Harry is a moderately experienced pilot. As a recon pilot, I am not well experienced but that’s OK. As long as Peter and Harry can keep any German opposition off my tail, I should be able place my plane in the best position for photography. Besides, in my previous two missions, I returned safely to our base although I did bring home poor quality photographs from one target which did not please the “Commander”. Passing over the town of Thiepval, we do not draw any events.
Peter and Harry escorting me as we take off. Note: In the actual game aircraft are moved across the map with "Squadron" markers.
Mission Turn 2: The flight enters the area above the Allied trench lines. Time to keep a sharp eye to the sky and ground as events tend to increase as flights cross the trenches. No events.
The flight (in its squadron counter configuration) approaches the Allied trench lines.
Mission Turn 3: Peter and Harry escort me over the German trenches. Need to really maintain close vigil at this point. Yet, no events. While this seems like a “milk run” one shouldn’t assume this streak will continue.
The flight passes over the German trench line.
Mission Turn 4: Whoomp! Whoomp! What’s that??? An event roll indicates a need for a further review. Closer scrutiny and a die roll provides the answer -- moderate German anti-aircraft fire just past their trench line. The Germans don’t have our range and we do not sustain any hits and continue deeper into their territory.
Mission Turn 5: We fly over a German fuel depot knowing that it is not on our mission card. We need to secure those photographs of Beaumont for the General Staff. An events check indicates “all quiet”.
Mission Turn 6: Spots in the sky and growing larger! Peter wags his wings to gain Harry’s attention and both wave to tell me they will watch to see if the Germans opt to engage. An event roll informs the flight we are facing German Fokker DVII fighters. Scan the skies! There are two of them and a die roll reveals they have the initiative, spot us, and dive to attack! We learn later the Fokkers are flown by Wolfram and his wingman Rolf. Wolfram secures a +2 initiative (a die roll plus comparative indicators of pilot skill, aircraft performance, and spotting modifiers) over Peter. Wolfram fires two machine gun bursts with the first missing Peter. Clink! Clink! Chunk! Thud! The second burst peppers the SE5A! Peter checks his die roll options and decides to break off the contact rather than continue the aerial combat. Wolfram is quite disappointed at losing what could be his first kill. Rolf, with a +1 initiative, lines up a shot against Harry. He draws two machine gun bursts as well and lets the bullets fly at Harry. The first burst streaks harmlessly by the SE5A and the second seems to miss him by a “country mile”. Harry maneuvers and squeezes one burst at Rolf and misses as well. The fighter pilots acquire the right roll and opt for a second round with each eyeing to bring down his opponent. Again no hits as the planes swirl through the sky above me. With the roll of a “6” combat ends and both pilots break contact.
German aircraft approach. Note: During the game a player does not need to place an opposition squadron marker onto the game map. I did so for illustration purposes.
Peter's SE5A is jumped by Wolfram in a Fokker DVII. Note: The individual aircraft counters here are set up on the combat Initiative Chart.
Peter is hit and manages to break off contact from Wolfram.
Mission Turn 7: We make a 90 degree turn to the left and line ourselves for an approach to Beaumont which is only one square away from us. A check and Peter is still flying with us but, of course, damaged. A forced landing this far from the trench line would almost guarantee capture if not death. With Peter and Harry providing cover, I line up my plane for a photographic run over Beaumont. An event check indicates we are alone in the air but there are possible ground targets. Let’s see...looks like German infantry on the march. Since I am being escorted, Peter and Harry will not cost us any Victory Points for ignoring the infantry. That is good! My observer takes the first photograph. We roll “average quality”. I pause to consider my position. It should take 14 total turns to return to Thiepval and I have up to 16 turns for mission completion. Yet, do I gamble and linger over Beaumont for one or two more photograph runs? Each will force an event check as well as a check to determine the status of Peter’s damaged fighter. OK - I take the conservative choice and roll my fist to indicate time to head home. I’ll accept the average quality photo over risking losing Peter or encountering more fighters. Let’s get out of here!
Making the photographic run over Beaumont.
Mission Turn 8: We aim for the trench line and check notes. Peter can still keep his plane in the air. Of all the rotten, dice driven calamities one could encounter -- how did we miss those planes diving on us? Looks like...1, 2...no...3 Albatross DIII German fighters. This mission started as such a milk run and has turned into a true aerial nightmare. Intelligence later reports the fighters are flown by Erich, Lothar, and Ulrich. Erich lines up Peter and his damaged SE5A yet we have the initiative this time. Peter fires a machine gun burst and bullets strike Erich’s Albatross! Finally, we put lead onto the target! A second burst misses. Erich is not deterred and does not roll a “break off” event. He turns and fires a single burst. A hit! Peter has sustained his second damage point and begins to smoke. Peter’s plane spirals downward and crashes. (We learned weeks later, Peter survived and even shared a schnapps with Erich before heading to a prison facility.) Harry, holding the initiative, throws two machine gun bursts at Lothar. Both miss! (We certainly need to improve our marksmanship!) Lothar returns with a single burst that misses its target. The pilots opt to continue and reconfigure the initiative rating for combat which grants Lothar a significant advantage due to a great die roll. A die roll may be a device of luck but stranger things can happen in combat to give one the advantage over an opponent. Lothar hurls three separate machine gun bursts and misses with the first two but hits Harry with the third. Harry gets a needed die roll and breaks off the engagement. No need to eat gruel with Peter in a prison. Well...that leaves one German fighter...and me! Ulrich secures the initiative and comes in behind me. He fires three solid bursts and strikes me with the second. Curses Red Baron!!!! -- Sorry...wrong game. My rear gunner returns fire with a single burst. A miss! I need a ‘break off’ roll of the die! No!!! Bad roll...time to throw that die into the microwave oven. Ulrich dives again and gets off four machine gun bursts -- all miss!!! I think someone needs marksmanship practice -- he could hit me only once with a total of seven bursts! I might get home with these photographs after all. I finally get my “break off” and turn for home with Harry limping out there too.
Ulrich has the Initiative and is on my tail.
I'm smoking and I don't mean "Camels"...
Mission Turn 9: We don’t get very far. One game map box closer to the trench line and Harry goes down from his damage. A check of the chart and it seems he made a hard landing that destroyed the aircraft but ensured he would have that bowl of gruel with Peter. My check indicates I’m still airworthy and there are not any events. No complaints from me.
Mission Turn 10: Closer to the trench line. I’m still airworthy but draw light anti-aircraft fire from an event check. The Germans miss and I inch closer to home.
Mission Turn 11: I cross the German trenches and check my status. What is that silence? Oh, an engine that had decided it does not want to function. OK -- down I go with my observer hanging on for dear life. The die is rolled and the chart checked -- I can glide up to three squares. That will allow me to clear the trench line! The nearest airfield (mine) is still too far away but I have a better chance of surviving and getting home again now. I roll a hard landing in Allied territory. This destroys my recon aircraft but allows my observer and I to walk away. This is the first time I’ve crashed a recon aircraft and probably will not be the last.
I crash in Allied territory just past the trench line. Note: Individual counter placed on game map to show location of crash.
Post-Mission Review: Mission failure but this is a good game. We lost Peter and Harry and their aircraft. My observer and I return but we lost our aircraft as well. Three aircraft lost for what results -- damage to two German fighters. What about our photographs? Did they survive the crash? I don’t know...that is not in the rules. The ink is still wet on my new house rule that states we carried the camera and film back with us... Hey, it's my game and I can add a house rule that saves the camera if landing hard in Allied territory! Time to plan another mission. Hoping I get to escort a bomber this time…
Got a few plays of this great game this morning. Lost my first play and then a few more because I didn't shuffle well enough and got a flood of personality cards. In my last game I won with one card in my resource row for a score of 67. Decktet is my new "solo in your pocket" game. I'm thinking of ordering a couple more to keep wih me everywhere I go.
One last game to see out September 2014. It wasn't a rerun. But rather a game I've been wanting to get to the table for some time. The Adventurers has a great theme, with lots of thematic actions to do on your turn. It played well solitaire and I lost (which is a plus). I've left it set up so come morning (1st October) it will probably be my first solitaire game for October. I'm also going to start painting the plastic goodies in the game, because it is simply asking for that.
I received my copy of Aether Captains from Print & Play Productions today and broke it out immediately. I was quite impressed with the production quality -- they did a great job. The game itself is a clever little solo design making creative use of cubes for all of the various things in the game: pirate zeppelins, zeppelin sections and crew members.
My first-ever battle was a pretty easy victory primarily due to terrible D12 rolls by the pirates. They could not hit the broadside of a barn from the inside for the most part. One attacker was the formidable Double Zeppelin which hits on a 5-12, but rolled 1's and 2's for four straight turns. On the flip side, my own attack rolls were good for the first part of the game which, along with high damage rolls, allowed me to take out three of the six attackers in the first two turns. Of course, two of these were the feather-light Zomby attackers with only 2 hits.
Only one section of the HMS Dauntless got fully damaged, and the fortuitous presence of the Engineer allowed this get to get repaired quickly. It was also fortunate that the pirates kept moving within range of the better guns on the Dauntless -- I never had to move the ship to get good shots.
It seems to me that the initial roll for type of attackers plays a large role in how difficult a given session will be. For instance, had I rolled two Double Zeppelins instead of two Zomby's, I'd have been in much more dire straights.
That said, I did notice an issue with the AI in that pirates facing a fully-damage section of the HMS Dauntless have a 33% chance to stay put; yet, they have no chance of doing more damage to that particular section. I would think that additional damage to this section would somehow bleed into the adjacent ones, or there be some greater chance of the pirate moving away to face a different section.
The game plays very quickly and the mechanics are smooth and intuitive. The large size wooden cubes are difficult to roll, however, and I think I may use a regular d6 for rolling things like crew and initial attackers. It's just difficult to get enough spin on these huge cubes to make it a truly random roll.
I'm impressed with the various expansions which came with my set from Print & Play Productions. While I see how the base game has a lot of potential variety depending on the attacker rolls, I can see how it could get samey feeling after several sessions; I also worry about the issue noted above with the attackers getting stuck facing a section that they can do no further damage to. The addition of two other defending zeppelins, six additional crew members, the multisegment Brass Dagger pirate zeppelin and boarding rules seem to promise to keep the game interesting. I wonder if the boarding rules in particular will add to the difficulty.
After watching Marnaudo's video review of Aether Captains, it became clear to me that the potential issues I noted in my first session were more significant. Marnaudo noticed all the same things I did and they held true after many plays for him. So I jumped immediately to the variant which he proposed to make the game more challenging. It was…a bit.
I won this time with two sections of the ship taken out. The automatic revenant boarders upon each hit did help make things more tense, but not by a lot. I had three relatively weak pirates, and these were taken out with just one successful hit apiece. The other three pirates proved more resilient, however, and since they were concentrated along the starboard side of the Dauntless, it was difficult to hit them. Fortunately, they rolled poorly for a stretch and I was able to maneuver around to get them into gun range. But even then, the Bad Weather face of the Expansion 3 crew die limited my ability to shoot at them.
Even with the revised enemy movement rules in this variant, it was still the case that pirates were often stuck facing a section of the Dauntless that they could not do any more damage to. As these multiply, it becomes more difficult for them to find a spot to do damage.
I know it's only been two plays, but I have a feeling that this game has very limited decision space for the player. It's saving grace is that it plays very quickly, but it is a dice-fest in the end. It tells a nice story, but it seems to be more of a "story-generator" than a game -- along the lines of The Hunters: German U-Boats at War, 1939-43. I am going to give Aether Captains at least three more plays to solidify my impressions, but I don't see them changing much. I am going to try the 5th expansion Brass Dagger, multi-segment pirate ship to see if this makes a difference in the challenge level, but will give the base ships another shot first.
The game has been compared to Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game, but I don't think this is accurate. Yes, the basic mechanic of enemies moving around the sides of the player's forces is the same, but that's where the similarity ends. In Space Hulk: DA, the individual marines have different tactical abilities and the various teams support each other in interesting ways. There is also the mechanic of saving up support tokens which adds to the decision space. The dice still rule your fate in Space Hulk: DA, but there are many ways for the player to mitigate them with good decisions. There does not seem to be much for a player to do to mitigate the dice in Aether Captains.
Now this is an exciting game. The box states 3-5, but that means if you play solo you need to play 3 roles minimum. I went with 4; The Captain, The Security Officer, The Scientist and The Engineer (yes, they have names but they elude me now).
It's a race against time. Your ship has crashed on a hostile planet, the wreckage strewn all around. A distress call went out and a rescue ship is incoming. But with no beacon, that rescue ship has to scan the sector looking for you. As the hostile Zothren hover on the perimeters, you send your squad out to activate the shields and look for useful wreckage. You either have to fight off the Zothren until the rescue ship arrives OR repair the ship to blast off.
One of the gameplay mechanics that I love is the action system. You roll 5 dice that have different symbols on each side for different actions that you can do. One side features an alien which means you have to spawn one. You are allowed to re-roll the dice up to three times (though on your 2nd/3rd rolls any alien sides that come up lock those dice). If you are able to roll three of a kind, you can re-roll those three along with 2 bonus dice (extra actions). After all the dice have been rolled at least once, everyone takes a turn at claiming one. If you've got the bonus dice, you could be claiming two. Each die allows a free movement (even the alien side). Either before or after you move, you can opt to take the action that the die symbol allows. Each unique role in the game has some way of manipulating the dice OR allowing you to manipulate the die of another character.
The game is very thematic, the roles are cool, I like the mini's, etc. It feels a little like a states of siege game where they are coming in for you and you need to hold the center (your ship).
This is the final turn of my game. In the previous turn, I drew the Assault event card. What usually happens at the end of the turn, is you draw from the alien deck. This tells you what sectors are activated for combat followed by what sectors spawn Zothren (this gives you a turn to figure out how to deal with the new threat).
The Assault event switches this. You spawn and than they attack. So in the previous turn a bunch of Zothren spawned and attacked my shields, bringing them down. At this point, they are going to pour in. Luckily, my crew had gathered enough metal to fix the hull, we repaired the engine and found enough crystals to power it. The last turn (the one after the Assault), I focused on giving my crew enough movement to get those crystals AND them back to the ship to blast off in time.
This was on the 'easy' scenario.
Tough game, cinematic moments, action, suspense. Great job by Richard Lanius and Sean at Mr. B Games. This is some exciting stuff.
Oh, and I use the mini's just to tell me at a glance what aliens are where. I still stack the tokens underneath to let me know how many and by what rules they use. There are 7 different aliens in the game.
ps. why is my post all squished and not spaced out? ANSWER: the image size.
"This is no time to be making new enemies." --Voltaire
"Drizzle, drazzle, drozzle, drome; time for this one to come home."
I've got a few days off work, and I decided to use them partly to break my video-gaming habit. Thanks to my self-imposed restriction, I finally got a board game onto the table and played it. Played this one twice, in fact.
It's an oldie but goodie--a Jim Dunnigan design that covers the strategic military aspect of the entire war. Political and economic factors figure in, of course, but they're in the background. Players focus on moving military units to where they can do the most good.
My first game was short and ended in a surprising American victory. The Brits abandoned Boston and stationed themselves in New York (that historical move makes good sense in the game). But in gaining control of the NY region, they left a stack of units open to a 1:1 attack, and the Rebels managed to gather just enough troops to make that attack. A "1/2 De" result on the combat results table (CRT) spelled the loss of five British strength points--enough to count as a Major Success for the Rebel cause. That triggered French intervention, and French reinforcements were lined up to arrive several turns later.
The French never did arrive, however, as the Continental Army grew and the Americans found an opportunity to make another 1:1 attack--in New Jersey, in the summer of 1776. A die roll of 1 brought a "De" result (only a roll of 1 would have done it), killing more than fifteen enemy strength points. That was not only another Major Success, but it meant the British now had to control at least 25 victory points' worth of territory to stay in the game. They didn't, so it was game over.
My second game was very different. Again the Brits cleared out of New England, where the enemy militia was so numerous, and headed for the mid-Atlantic colonies. But this time they were careful, and the Rebels were unlucky in recruiting for the Continental Army. Before long, the British controlled New York and New Jersey and were headed for Virginia. The Americans couldn't touch the big British stacks of units or even cut them off from supply.
In desperation, the Rebels headed north and captured Canada (worth 10 victory points). The British ignored that move for a year or so, choosing to invade the southern colonies instead. It was a slow, awkward process because the British sometimes can't move at all: they never move in the winter, and in other seasons a die roll of 1 or 2 prevents them from making an intended move. Also, Rebel militia prevents British control of a region, and sometimes the militia can survive by slipping away or by fortifying and surviving an attack. In time, though, the British secured Georgia and South Carolina and also landed reinforcements that took back Canada.
It looked hopeless for the Americans, but they weren't quite done yet. Just enough Continental Army troops formed up in the Mass. Bay colony to make a desperate move into British-controlled New York. Just by planting themselves there, in sufficient numbers, the NY militia was triggered to return. Only 5 strength points, but enough to make NY a disputed region. That cost the British 10 victory points and delayed their win by almost a year. Meanwhile, the Rebels saw two opportunities for those long-shot 1:1 attacks--one in New Jersey, another in the Green Mountains. If a die roll of 1 had turned up either time, the French would have intervened, and there might have been some chance of prolonging the war. But alas, no such luck for the Americans in this game. The British regained control of New York, and that brought them over the 61 victory points they needed to win in 1780.
I first played this game years ago, probably in 1976 or so. I remembered liking it a lot, but I never got around to playing it again until yesterday and the day before. So, how does it hold up?
I think it's a brilliant game design. Though it's just a game, it taught me some things about the historical situation. I got a good sense of why the British bugged out of Boston and stationed themselves in New York, and of why they later tried invading the southern colonies. I saw why Washington made some of the attacks he made, risky as they were, and kept trying in spite of indecisive results. Though this is a relatively simple game, I believe it succeeds as a decent high-level simulation of the war.
It's also a fun game to play, largely due to its asymmetrical nature. The British forces are big and strong but clumsy; they need a bit of luck to make any significant move at all. The Rebels are weak and scattered, but sometimes they can pull enough force together to try something desperate; and if it works, it can have a huge long-term impact.
On the negative side, there's a pretty big luck element to the game, and a lot of people would object to that in a wargame--especially a strategy-level game like this. I don't mind it myself; it keeps the game interesting and adds to its replay value (and solitaire suitability). The winter-attrition mechanism is a little awkward too (and devastating for the Americans). But all in all, I think it's a fine game.
It comes with about a dozen what-if scenarios to try out. This enables players to explore some of the bigger politico-economic possibilities that could have impacted the course of the war. I could experiment with one of those today, but I think I'll move on to a different game instead.
OK - so it's not really a solo game, but it was collecting too much dust so I decided to try and play it solo with a few rules:
1) Use only 1 player 2) At a minimum must make it to the second level of the building 3) At a minimum must have 20 download tokens 4) Extract card is not used
So I went on my way and was lucky enough to have the interface to the secret room on my entrance card, so I took some time there to download a bunch of files. I retreated and then started my way through the building and revealed 2 rooms that increased the alarm dial (alarm moved up to +4, making my rolls hurt even worse). I was able to get to the second floor but was rolling 6's and my alarm was just jumping at an unsustainable rate. Needless to say I lost the game.
I tried this again and was 1 room short of getting out the building - again I was too greedy to grab 1 extra download which made me lose as well. Really a tense ending because I figured on average I'd roll 4's (with my alarm at +1), so unless I rolled 2x5's and 1x6 I'd be out... guess what I rolled... *sigh*
When I was done with the 2 games, I thought of a variant where you are inserted on the roof (top card), and shuffled into the deck is the Halo Room. The task is to get into the Secret room, download all files, and get out of the building on the ground floor before you're caught. Perhaps I'll try that one next.
Just great! Very challenging and tense, and I think it's been nicely thought and done, you don't lose the feel of ordinary play at all.
I'm very happy that now I can play one of my all times favorite games anytime I want! Because finding someone to play this with you is not easy : you can find just some gamer to play once in a while, but to find someone really motivated, this one has to be into the theme, and this is mandatory for non-gamers.
Anyway, I was flatlined. Time is of the essence because every turn the Corp advances all cards on remote servers, and any unrezzed server card with 6 advances is scored facedown as it was a 2 point agenda. Sometimes you have no choice but to throw yourself in and see what happens... Besides, you have in front of you a very efficient corporation with a very good deck, not some lazy lame deck player. It really well renders the good feel of the game, and gets you into the theme.
Edit : 2nd play I tried again with the same setting : solo variant corp deck against my Anarch base deck. It was promising, 2 Parasites and a Data Sucker along with a couple of icebreakers, a Djinn and a Cyberfeeder in the first turns. Very nice early rig, yeah. Yeah. But if you run blindly on a 2 ices server advancing too much with only 2 cards in hand and no generic icebreaker, you have a chance of actually just being running naked and eyes closed in a hawthorn field ending with a cliff. Flatlined, stupid noob! Arghh... what a stupid deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeath...
Finished with 14 Pineapples for a Gold Totem win. Was able to dig Irrigation Canals to get double the pineapple from my harvests. The Missionary gave me an extra worker for my pineapple farm (are they called farms?) Bought a pineapple from own stall in the domestic market on the last turn to get to 14.
Guillermo Lière The Miser
Lost in the second turn due to a fish crisis on the export market. The locals were already pissed off due to being taxed in the first round. Netted a total of 1 coin during the course of the first turn.
Edmond Taniar The Alpinist
Was only able to explore 9 Mountain peaks with my small band of explorers. Bronze finish. Nothing to write home about.
Even though im still learning this game I took a shot at the solo expansion tonight and played Pope Hull VIII. Tough game, starting with only a single citizen, a boat and 2 florins had me moving through turns quite slowly. I eventually failed in the fifth round due to export crisis and a lack of fruit on the market... Rebellion.
This is currently one of my favorite games. The solo rules are a bit fiddly and you have to use your best guess for some things but in general, the way all of the moving pieces fit together is really quite pleasing. I can see this being on my table fairly often in the coming months.
I work in a National Park, which is awesome, but this summer has been brutal--new reservation system, major park flooding, volunteer staff not showing as hired, firing two staff (never had to do that ever before), new visitor center to staff, tour boat broke, and lots of other stuff. Phew.
So, I've been dead to most everything the last few months. But, seeing this subscription, and things having calmed down some, made me want to post!
So now I've started a Kinsport Chaos Challenge to avenge my previous demise. At some point I'll do a geeklist for it. Played 13 games already!
Other Games that will come out Solo in September: We'll see how busy I get for these last few weeks of the park summers season, whether I'm able to update or not.
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island: Yep, I'm obsessed too. Pulled it out every month for a few games. Played 3 scenarios thus far. Played Scenario 4 three times. 1) 2-players lost in the last round to a Snake in the Mystery Deck, 2) 2-players won--good strategy and plan successful, avoided the worst luck, 3) 4-players, lost on the last round to the Gorilla in the Mystery Deck who battered my Soldier.
Works really well with the Ascension solo rules from the other sets. I'll likely get a play or 3 of this in.
EDIT: Yup. Got a solo play in. Trounced Samael, 78-55. Lifebound/Void builds own it. EDIT 2: Another play. 63-61. Barely squeezed out a victory in that one... EDIT 3: Another day, another play. Won 67-59 with a heavy Mechana build.
I'm starting to feel like I need the other sets if I want a solo challenge... but the game is still fun, at least!
I've been really enjoying playing Ascension against the AI on iOS, so when I heard that Ascension: Apprentice Edition was on Red Dot clearance at B&N, I jumped at the chance to pick up the physical game for $5.
It's a lot smaller than the standard Ascension Starter Set, but having played it, I'd say it's perfect for the solo player. Nicely tuned card mix in an affordable package, and the artwork is miles better than the original. (For those who don't know, this is a 2-player-only set that rehashes cards from older sets, mainly Chronicle of the Godslayer and the next few expansions, designed as an entry point into the game.)
On a whim, I recorded my first playthrough of the official solitaire variant. I'm pleased to report that it works just fine using this set.
(The video is still undergoing processing...I assume the embedded video will play normally once it's done.)
I'm really enjoying doing these playthrough videos, and I've picked up a few tricks to edit in YouTube and produce a smoother result. I feel like I'm on a roll and want to record everything now! Solitaire PnP games! Solo variants!
Wish there was a way to get a wider shot using my ipad camera, but for the small games I've been playing so far, it works alright.
Picked this one up at B&N for $5 over he weekend. Hit the table this afternoon. I was really surprised how well it plays solo. I played once with the official solo rules and once using this variant. The variant uses dice to determine which card(s) the AI takes. I think I enjoy the variant more. But I enjoyed both. It will be hitting the table more as a nice filler game.
Update-game#4: the official solo rules are definitely the way to go. For me anyway. I'm liking this game more and more as I play it and start recognizing the strategies.
I played 3 games of this one this morning losing the first 2 and winning the third. I have played this game a lot on my iPad but this was my first time playing with the actual cards... Loved it! I will be playing this one a lot I think.