Games Scheduled to Play (16)
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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So many games, so little time. There are so many games that I wanted to play and some of them have been outstanding for play for 9 or 10 years long. A recent example as such is the widely acclaimed Band of Brothers system. One would only be able to play the series games in a row to learn the crusts of the system. I have to stay focus with my wargaming goals and hence the schedule lists all the years. For the 16th consecutive times, I compiled this list to keep my chart on course. An outlook for the games to play in the second half of 2017:

Ancient: I haven't done much in this period in 2016. Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar transfix my reverence toward Caesar and his campaigns in Gauls. On the other hand, I still have a lot to finish in the reading of Sabin's many excellent books and designs regarding the period. The many big names in the military history come from the ancient that I wish to explore more other than the GBoH series. Plus, the re-release of Simple Great Battles of Ancient rulebook and scenarios fuels my desire to the next high.

Napoleonic: I have a good time in 2016 and 2017 with the Napoleonic, mainly at strategic scale of operations like Napoleonic War and Invasion of Russia. But the Waterloo 1812: Fallen Eagles captivates me the most with the battle and I read a lot about it to coincide my gaming experiences. The time of Napoleonic remains a favorite period among many although myself not particularly fond of the Napoleonic tactics and his time. Perhaps I will play a little less in the rest of 2017 so that I can allocate more time to the ancient period. But the new game Austerlitz 1805: Rising Eagles is one that I would very much love to continue with the system.

American Civil War: It has been the least popular period in Hong Kong and I didn't play a game on it in 2016. It is very difficult to find opponents here for face-to-face games. But with the state-of-the-art Vassal technology, it is easy to find opponents in the U.S. via PBeM games. I should plan some games for the period as I have several books to read on the history of the Civil War.

WWI: My interest in the period dwindles in 2017. But in fact, my urge to play the French Le Temps des As II excellent game design remains fiery. I am a fan of this beautiful and elegant system, removing the fear elements of usual complex gameplay for the war in the air. For some reason, I wish to go back to Clash of Giants II for some campaign level experience since Marne. In fact, Somme 1918 marks the Centennial of the terrible climax before the end of the war.

WWII: I have a great time with WWII at tactical level in the past two to three years. This year maybe we should turn to more operational level game. Moscow '41 came close to be the perfect block system on the eastern front. I hope to play its sister game Leningrad '41 by the end of 2017 so as to complete the experience with the system. Although I wish to turn on the era with many strategic designs in the past few years, the closest I get is to find a veteran opponent Anthony for a game of The Dark Valley, another Ted's classic on the eastern front. After joining the active ATS Facebook page, I am lucky to get into the system again with a friend Andy met there. Another Anthony is an ASL big fan and perhaps I will play a scenario or two with him, learning what secrets remain unrevealed.

Modern: I have had many gameplays in 2016 and 2017 and so this should be a period which I would slow down like the Napoleonics. Urban Operations might get some more plays in 2017 and 18, given its dynamic and realistic tactics simulation in urban environment. But there will always something from the Vietnam War that I wish to dive in.

Si-fi: Yes, I have an affection with the Star Fleet Universe and BattleTech. Any new products from the two series always caught my eyeball. With the re-release of many materials from Amarillo Design Bureau, Inc. via eBook on the internet, I can take the advantage to collect them back instead of paying the hefty shipping charges. Well, you don't have the diecut counters but reading them is still a lot of fun. I have several games from the Federation & Empire and Federation Commander. I am learning the system of the latter with Federation Commander: Romulan Border. Things are looking pretty on this front. I should spend some efforts in learning the universe. For BattleTech, I am ready to dive in whatever scenarios or sourcebook materials as I am really looking forward to the year in which the new PC game will be released.

You can check out my previous lists here: https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/lists/user/Lawrence%20Hun... before you read on.
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1. Board Game: Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:779]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 17 April, 2017
Falling Sky is an intermediate level game and it is easy to call up four players here on BGG. This is another game set up and I join it with no brainer. This is a good game showing how Caesar dealt with the northern threat, while the Senate watching his back. A call in BGG forum have four of us show up - Jukka = Belgae, Lee = Averni, Lawrence = Romans Tom = Aedui. I am not sure if I can be a good Roman player.

AAR:

Situation after 6 cards

Falling Sky is a COIN game on Ceasar's conquest of Gaul. The subject would stir up many about the game's ability to simulate such campaign. There are allies in Gaul, namely the blue commerce-savy Aedui. The green Arverni with its tribal leader Vercingetorix would certainly pose a major threat to Rome in the west. If Caesar goes north, his legions would meet the Belgic, under the guidance of Ambiorix. Ambiorix might not be well-known among the non-historian but he was actually a war hero, taking one loss (vs. the normal 0.5) if he fights alongside with Belgic war bands. On the other hand, Vercingetorix can force march his men like the Roman legions to the second area and may entreat Gallic tribes rose to rebellion. He can be a horrible headache to Caesar if he is not met at the right time and the right place.

As usual, the sequence of play among the four factions is determined by the first two faction icons on a playing card. If the factions are "eligible", they can activate to take a command or play the event on the card. Timing of taking the command or event is therefore a signature decision in any COIN game, as a faction becomes "ineligible" the next card unless it was override by the event. There is no "trump" card like that in Fire in the Lake though. The events on the card are two-folds, with upper and lower event effects favorable to one side or the other. Historically, the Aedui is more allied to the Roman as if the Arverni and Belgic are allied together. Realistically, of course, each factions have their own winning agenda. When you see the allies break up suddenly, make no surprise. The events are generally mild in effect as there might be a few cards in other COIN games which might turn the table. One can learn history about the campaign by simply reading the cards.

Falling Sky is a moderate complexity game, meaning you focus on the big picture rather than the micro-management of the battles. Understandably, the combat system in COIN is streamlined and simplified by counting the no. of warbands (Gallic tribes) or auxiliaries (Romans), which then times 1/2 to inflict losses on the defenders. If you have a legion or leader, they inflict one loss each. If Caesar is present with the legions, they inflict two losses each! Caesar can also force march with his forces to more distant places in a third region. Speaking of missile attacks in the ancient...As Gallic players, you better watch out where Caesar currently is.

The first card was my Roman "Marcus Antonius leads the way!", a free scout action to Rome and Roman auxilia units caused twice the loss to Arverni in Gergovia, removing six warbands under Vercingetorix. Rome took control of the region. Quite an aggressive move from the Romans just the first turn in! The Arverni replied by rallying and entreat the Roman warband. Gergovia remained controlled by no one.




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2. Board Game: Advanced Squad Leader [Average Rating:7.95 Overall Rank:209] [Average Rating:7.95 Unranked]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 30 April, 2017
I was going to Tiger Room for the game Siege of Jerusalem. But the game was full. Anthony urged me to join the rank of ASL with Ted. I therefore sat down and played the scenario J183 A Real Barn Burner. The actions took place in Bois-du-Seuil Farm, near Amagne, France on 31 May 1940.

AAR:
The French from the 35th Infantry Regiment (of 14th Infantry Division) pushed back the Germans near the village but the German was soon reinforced with AT gun. The French fell back to Aisne river, only to find that Lt. Gehin was left behind. An attack was ordered to rescue the men and hold the village by overcoming the first obstacle - an AT gun which had been stationed inside a wooden house right before the patch of forest/ swamp area. It looked like an insurmountable task in the beginning. But the French was brave.

Thanks Anthony Leung for teaching me the game and let me rolling the dices! I learned two more things that were not available in the SK edition: concealment and bypass movement with MP cost of other terrain. It's always satisfying to learn something new in a game and the French fought much better than I thought about them!

Aftermath:
Several French squads were shot death in the swampy areas along the the right flank when they moved in for cover. The Germans firepower was something not to underestimate. However, the French won the scenario when they broke through the center and to the left flank. They touched base with Lt. Gehin.
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3. Board Game: Air Force [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:3142]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 1 May and 20 May, 2017
Labor Day sees actions in the sky! I would love to play this classic Avalon Hill air wargame with Erwin, Tom and Henry together, while flying German Me air group in attack formation.

AAR:
A unique feature of Air Force, and a very much advanced concept back in the days, is the use of a compass, encompassing all kinds of maneuvers a combat aircraft can make. A simple reading of the compass: On the left is the Speed Gauge. The speed in green and yellow is the safest speed. Deep blue means your plane is stalled in the sky with the corresponding altitude at the bottom. On the right is the ability to perform loop, turn or slip, roll and bank with the required movement cost. For example, if FW-190D wants to make a bank to the right at altitude 19.9 or below, it cost you two MPs before making the bank at yellow speed (i.e. speed 6 to 9). The last compass at the bottom refers to the acceleration or deceleration of FW-190D after diving or climbing. For example, at altitude 19.9 or below, it can climb a maximum 0.5 (the green part maximum) to 20.4 with a loss of speed 2. On the other hand, it can dive a maximum 1.2 to 18.7 with a gain of speed 4.

Still an awesome game by today's standard. I was completely hooked by this air wargame. Absolutely fantastic. I can't find any other suitable replacement still for WWII aerial combat.
 
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4. Board Game: Streets of Stalingrad (third edition) [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:3937]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 21 May, 2017
 
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5. Board Game: Rex: Final Days of an Empire [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:599]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 27 May, 2017
As the flames of war spread through the entire Imperium, the six races' champions will be put to the ultimate test - the fleet. We are lucky to get six people to the table during the AGM for a game of this epic struggle in the Imperium. Rex is well known for its re-theme of the absorbing Dune engine, back in the heydays of Avalon Hill Games.

AAR:
 
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6. Board Game: Quartermaster General: 1914 [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:1756]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 10 June 2017
There is a always a time where you want to have a simple game on the whole war, say WWI or WWII, without toiling around and painful navigation of the rules. PSC is such a game that is easy to make a call on players. Multiple games can be played in one sitting and that's economy of time and money. Without doubt, this game is one of the popular PSG line of games that our group enjoys. Angus, Anthony, KB, Victor and I form a group in an afternoon for enjoying the game.

AAR:
As I have discussed the game mechanics before in the previous list, I won't go into details of the game here again. Just that all of us enjoyed the game and I would just quote my concluding remark here for your quick reference.

Overall, the game is highly playable with easy rules, carefully crafted cards, rigid but very logical and streamlined game sequence (you can see that there is only five steps in a player's round or turn), outlined clearly for moving the game forward. Once you get a hang of it, the game speeds up while people can concentrate on gameplay and negotiations among the allies. Yes, that also plays a part in the game as coordinated sequence is superior to the one that is not as timing of playing the cards from your hand matters. Quartermaster General: 1914 is also a very re-playable game as each player can play different side each time in a 5-players game and experience different narratives and strategies. If you can find the right group and sufficient number of people, the game is definite more value-for-money at Kickstarter price $46.

I would add that PSC games' strategy to implement its games across electronic platform. First and foremost, no Vassal module! IMHO, this led to the eventual die-down of the QM series. The designer said the publisher sold the rights to PC/ iOS platform to someone (Hexwar maybe?). However, so far, no news about it at all. This would have been a perfect game like Twilight Struggle, Through the Ages, etc. that sees the translation of the system from board games to virtual space across multiple platforms. In the meantime, no love for this game as PBeM is not an option. Otherwise, I may have five games of this at the same time!
 
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7. Board Game: ATS Stalingrad: Dzerhezinsky Tractor Works 1942 [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:5490]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 14 June, 2017
Every now and then ATS strokes on me. The new ATS Facebook page was created not long ago. The good thing is you meet people with the same degree of high indulgence in the system. I met Andy there and we come down to ATS Stalingrad: Dzerhezinsky Tractor Works 1942 with the selected scenario End Tide, 11 October, 1942. The battle-hardened Germans took up positions near the Tractor inside the few buildings in front of the first rail track. They were prepared for a Soviet counterattack, direct order from the ruthless General Yeremenko. It was the Soviet turn to use combine arms as the 37th Guards Rifle Division was supported well by seven T-34 of the 84th Tank Brigade. The German 389th Infantry Division in the southern sector heightened their nerves when they saw the Soviets approached with the sounds of steady crackling T-34 wheels.....

AAR:
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8. Board Game: Richard III: The Wars of the Roses [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:1217]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 15 June 2017
Finally, I was able to hook up with Andzrej, the master strategist, for a game after he moved to Malta. We chose Richard III as we were both familiar with the block system (he is my ardent opponent in Julius Caesar) by now and easy to set up for quick fun.

AAR:
I chose Red Lancaster and Andzrej would be the White York. He began the game with sea move of the strong Irish units, landing right on Lancaster. The Lancaster gathered in response at North Yorks, as the Scots and Beaumont joined up there with Lord Clifford. Not a bad move.

Reinforcements arrived at East Anglica as more reserves were called up by the York. They looked formidable. The Lancaster retreated and Henry VI called up Lord Oxford de Vere and Earl of Wiltshire for a stand at Oxford. The Yorkists forced march to Oxford for blood! (Seeing the blood, the Lancaster forgot to use its 4CPs card as Ops!) Mercenaries from Bergundian and Norwich teamed up with Lord Norfolk and Suffolk for a hunt of King Henry. Oxford fought on home turf with increased firepower (A3). After bloodshed, the York refused to retreat and got slaughtered by the Lancaster. King Henry VI and Lord Oxford were slightly injured. When the dust settled in the villages, everyone was in a state of shock when they saw bodies piled up before their eyes.

The Court of York landed on Cumberland after exile. They brought many men to bear upon Duke Exeter and Lord Devon. When Earl of Warwick took a charge, both Lancaster armies were shattered and routed. Cumberland fell to the hands of the Pretenders but they were cornered by the King's armies. Forces were also mustered at Hereford - Lord Rivers, Duke of Buckingham, Earl of Pembroke were called to arms. An attack on Duke of Somerset at Dorset by the Pretenders from Cumberland destroyed the Lancaster army.

A very nice maneuver from Caermarvon brought up reinforcement and prepared the York there for upcoming attack from Hereford. The attack was proved to be a disaster to the Lancaster as they were outgunned by the Welsh. At the end of the First Campaign, the York won three battles while the Lancaster one.

The Second Campaign saw more troops being raised up in the divided land. The Scots were called to the south to join Earl of Westmoreland and Lord Clifford. Earl of Kent and Earl of Salisbury defended East Yorks with the native army.

Some rules to remember: Bombardment unit is an A unit during firing on the first round - they are set up and ready to fire! Some units with a noble shield of red cross are Bishop units and they are recruited at Bishop cities like Cantebury and York. After winning the battle, the winning side can regroup to cut the subsequent evasive maneuver by the defeated. Always look out on units defending on home turf! They perform one rating higher up in firepower in battling at home turf. Some units can betray and turn to the other side during battle, if you can roll evens on the no. of dice as indicated on the upper left of the noble block. In my opinion, these are nice chromes that spice up the whole period feel!
 
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9. Board Game: 1989: Dawn of Freedom [Average Rating:7.86 Overall Rank:399]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 17 June, 2017
Tristan is a vivid Twilight Struggle player. We played that game both on and offline. I suggest this "sequel" to him and of course he is happy to join me in finding out why this game is under-the-radar for so long. Every TS fan should be curious enough with this game.

AAR:
 
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10. Board Game: Here I Stand [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:165]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 23 June, 2017
I started to play as Protestant in a tournament scenario back in April. It was a short scenario and it was not completed yet as of this writing. I am determined to delve deeper into the system and get to know more about the intricacies in it. So I join another group of people for a campaign game this time for a grander view of the game. Let's begin another long voyage. Looks like I will have a very fruitful Wars of the Reformation in 2017, 500 years later!!

AAR:
The players are Chris L. - Ottoman, Aaron - Hapsburg, Chris B. - England, Øystein - France, Ian - Papacy, and me as Protestant.
 
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11. Board Game: Urban Operations [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:6967]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 8 July 2017
Tom introduced me this new game by a French designer. He believes I should have been interested in this game as it contains a dynamic and modern wargaming system - blocks plus area map movement. The combat sequence is especially brutally interesting. I have no presumption before I enter into the game with him...

AAR:
 
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12. Board Game: Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan [Average Rating:8.05 Overall Rank:143]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 22 July, 2017
I am not interested in Japanese history in general, though I visit the country often. My opponent Jack in the club slipped away from the original scheduled game of Federation Commander due to vacation overseas. Lorricount invited me to join Sekigahara game on his side. I spent the rest of the time in the club worthily.

AAR:
 
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13. Board Game: The Dark Valley [Average Rating:7.94 Overall Rank:2692]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: August 2017
Another Ted Racier's design on the Eastern Front! I am always interested in the German invasion of Russia. Keep'em coming and double the size! Anthony suggests this game and I grab the opportunity to play it in no time.

AAR:
There here have been many praises that many things people want about WWII eastern front have been infused into this 30 pages something rulebook. It is true. It integrates command problem, operational doctrine, supply, i.e. the big picture issues, I would say, closely, while "de-emphasizing" the "intricacies" of final engagement outcome with a comparatively straightforward "CRTs". Right, there are two CRTs for both sides, depending on the time in which the engagements are conducted. And yes, there are many time-specific rules in here. Better to get download of some DIY reference sheet online to smooth the game progress. Plus, the unpredictability of chit-pull activation system is designed to foil your best laid plan.

The Dark Valley is a "mini-monster" game and it is quite enjoyable and exciting to play via PBeM as it allows more time to contemplate with the situations. I am playing the German side and it is Oct 1941 with all the mud set in. The German offensive not only came to a halt but also two pockets of OOS/Isolated units were formed. If you are not a good supply logistics player, you better play the Soviet side. The chance of German seeing Kremlin is fading rapidly. The seemingly "flat" CRT forces you focus on the maneuver strategy, while amassing the strength for breakout and pocketing. The CRT is "flat" because the results are not varied enough for a strategic game. You can almost predict the combat result every time as DR and DR* are the most common results in every column on the odds table. You can inflict losses on the enemy with BL1, as both sides loss on step, or EX, exchange of the same no. of step loss as the defender. Any complete DE is hard to come by at high odds like 5-1 (20% chance) and 6-1 (33% chance). A combat attrition-based model, which is a bit conventional to my taste. On the other hand, the CRT seems to fit in well in the overall design in that losses are "smoothed" over the entire period of the war from 1941 to 1945. Interestingly, there is a "bloodier" CRT for the period Dec 41-Feb 42 by German and continuing to the end of the war by Soviet. More BL1s, more EXs!


 
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14. Board Game: Federation Commander: Romulan Border [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:2749] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 19 August 2017
The game of Star Fleet Battles has always been dear to my heart. I have been dropped from that universe for a very long time and I always want to get back in. It is actually a space ship combat simulator, with background well-trenched in the Federation, which leads subsequently to the Star Trek franchise. I always look for opponent and luckily I can find Jack this time for a re-visit into this universe. Much have been changed but I hope I can catch up. We chose the scenario for an engagement between the less appearing Gorn vs. the aggressive-repressive Romulan. Scenario 8RB3 "The Wreck of the Rex". One Gorn cruiser "Rex" vs. One Romulan War Eagle, one Battle Hawk, one SkyHawk, and one KR. Looks like the Gorn is on the downside. Its objective is to exit the map escaping from the Romulan attack.

AAR:
The Star Fleet Universe has been expanded. When I read the rulebook that come with Romulan Border, it's like reading a whole new system. For one, Lyran Empire was not there when I was a young cadet. The 8 Impulses by 4 Sub-Impulses where ships alternate movement for firing in better positions. Maneuvering or out-maneuvering makes more sense now. Situational awareness is an ability of commander/ captain that is truly appraised here. When I was a young cadet playing Star Fleet Battles the basic game, the whole movement is done by one ship and then the next. Enemy might fall behind your back out of a sudden. The impulse-based movement is much more realistic as it require every command decision at every impulse. I had fun with drone and plasma torpedo before but not the "new" hit-seeking weapon like suicide shuttle, and thus all those anti-drone measures like tractor beam holding off seeking weapons are added all through these years of development. The Defensive Fire Phase deals with hit-seeking weapons before they secure a hit on the shields. Ships can also accelerate and decelerate with spending of extra Energy Points for the impulse, amount of which is indicated on individual ship cards.

Y2568. The Gorn Command Cruiser "Rex" was approaching sector K, the locally known small territory bordering the Romulan Empire. Captain Jack Chowie knew the area well enough but the atmosphere was tense since the outbreak of the General War. The Command Cruiser squadron was well fit and Jack was confident with his new ships. His order was to cruise around the area, off-limit to the Romulans and keep the peace. The news of the war was just spread to the Headquarter. The Romulan Empire started to attack Federation, while Confederation of the Gorn was officially an ally with Federation.

"Captain, we have a signal!" the 2nd Lt. cried out all of a sudden. It was the Romulans! They were waiting the Gorn in cloak for an ambush! "How many of them" Four squadrons, Sir! "Identify them immediately and signal them for intention." Jack was sure the sudden fade-in of the Romulans wouldn't carry good intention but his order was to patrol the area, not to engage. Formality still worked if both sides were not to provoke each other. Jack knew they were on the brink of a war though.
 
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15. Board Game: Tannhäuser [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1640]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 26 August, 2017
Anthony is interested very much in this thematic post-WWI alternate universe stuff. He asks for a game and of course I cannot turn it down. The game is easy to learn and quick to set up. So off we go! (A strange voyage to me.)

AAR:
Pros: Very streamlined gameplay that makes sense. Atmospheric to thematic post-WWI mystical vs. technological advances and contests. Customizable weapons and special abilities for characters. Diverse factions with different characteristics among troops and heroes. Multiple objectives and missions. Almost unlimited scenarios up to players' imaginative power. Meaningful to formulate strategy based on your characters' strengths and weaknesses and in combinations. Overwatch mode is tricky to use that requires the players to think hard. Mental attacks are available! Online game is FREE to play!

Cons: A bit alienated in feeling if you are not into this alternative universe. A robotic cannon humanoid moving around the board? Deathmatch mode might be boring in the end game. Dozens of specialties might cost much of your brainpower to remember all that. A headache to control all different characters at the same time. Pathfinding system is easy to use in general but troublesome to determine doors and triangular passage sometimes. Unlimited weapon range as long as there is LOS. Dice-and-luck-heavy for combat results to some gamers' taste. March-fire-retreat tactics is a bit unrealistic to tactical doctrine. Shock rolls to cancel hits are always four for everyone - no matter if the character is well protected by armor or not. Weapon inventory is artificially limited to four items only - no relation to character's stamina or strength to carry. Command points can be used to do many seemingly unrelated things: they can be used to re-roll initiative, placing overwatch, buying extra movement point, increasing character's value, launching counterattack, shaking off wound, and bring in undead reinforcement (the previously dead character become alive again!).
 
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16. Board Game: Victory in Europe [Average Rating:6.97 Overall Rank:5105]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 23 September, 2017
A face-to-face game of four people! Chris, Anthony, Victor B. and I join in this strategic struggle in the 1944 scenario.

AAR:
The rules are relatively easy to absorb as the combat and movement systems are inherited from the past a lot. However, we do find some little holes here or there which can only be deduced from the designer's intention, e.g. overstacking effect after retreat. Nonetheless, the rulebook is still a joy to read, especially if you have the latest edition v.1.1. Otherwise, you might have a complete different game if you are reading the older version back in 2014 Nov. (As of Feb, 2017, another version v.1.2 has been issued.)

The game grows on me a lot with all the strategic possibilities over the vast expanse of the European map, especially on an enlarged one made by Anthony. I like it as a game and as a simulation of strategic level WWII wargame, true to its name. Somehow I feel it more authentic than AH's The Rise and Fall of Third Reich, with much less rules overhead. It's good to the extent that I want to own a copy! (And I did...game arrives in July 2016).

I must admit I am awed by the huge and strategic scope of the game with such a relative simple set of rules for block wargames. It really suggests that block game system comes to ripe with military simulation. The changes and variants are subtle and yet the effects are full. Although I am not a fan of block wargame in particular, eventually I am convinced by its beauty of elegance in terms of system design, what's in and what's abstracted out.

 
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17. Board Game: La Bataille de France, 1940 [Average Rating:7.72 Overall Rank:6813] [Average Rating:7.72 Unranked]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 27 September, 2017
Winter Storm System ("WSS") has been growing on me daily...I ask on BGG to see someone is up like me. Luckily I found Terry and he agrees to play the first scenario in LBF40, "Guines is Not a Beer" in which Tommies 3rd Royal Tank Regiment comes to counterattack the town of Guines near Calais. The town fell into the German Panzergruppe Guderian a few days ago. This is a raid!

AAR:
I have played other tactical games like Combat Commander, Lock N Load, Conflict of Heroes and Memoir 44. On comparison, Winter Storm Series is some level up all of these games in terms of complexity, realism and depth. WSS requires you to plan more in advance of your actions, while the other games can be "gamey" and "chaotic" to an extent out of your control. The combat "intensity" in Conflict of Heroes is something I very much like about though. WSS works on impulse just like the charm of Lock N Load, but adds a higher level of regimental command and coordination among different platoon officers. If you think only constant bang-bang actions on the mapboard counts, WSS might be "bland" on comparison to LnL and CoH. WSS is one scale up of the latter two. In WSS, "we-go" sequence of play refers to one formation (and formations if they are coordinated successfully) go on our side and then the other side. Very interactive in my book and I like impulse-based game like ATS more than ASL's structured one. WSS has more than that given the detailed differentiation in types of terrains, fire, units, officers, gun types, AFV class, etc. The interactions among all of them and permutations of numbers are unlimited. - if this what complexity you are looking for. The system is not that complex but the rulebook is a bit convoluted to understand.

What WSS excels at is the ability to maneuver platoons around the enemy for flanking attack for real and crumbling effect on morale and formation anytime when rout occurs as the "endurance" threshold is exceeded. By then, you see a flock of units in retreat, and that, is what satisfaction comes about.
 
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18. Board Game: A Game of Thrones: The Card Game [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:702]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 7 October, 2017
Season 7 has just finished. No one on earth should miss this fantastic novels and series. David and I want more of intrigue, knighthood, plot and tactics from this game!

Scheduled play: 21 October, 2017
David and I continue to play this card game, with Anthony joining as well. I prepare a deck of House Baratheon, with David's copy, based on an online suggestion which emphasizes on power and strength. Now, armies are raised, and the Baratheon family is on the road.....

AAR:
I dreamed of Melisandre, the witch that comes from Asshai, devoted to the God of Fire. She led Army of the Faithful to the Baratheon and helped Stannis Baratheon to claim his rightful heir. Stannis was bedeviled by her beauty. The Asshai are few but they are powerful. Stannis called on five armies, four of them cavalry. Other than his own Northern Cavalry, three are Exhausted Horsemen.....Men from Storm's End, the Wildling of Mance, Highgarden Honor Guard and the Warrior's Sons form the foot army. Some mercenaries from the Deepwood as well.

Robert Baratheon knows that he can't win only with the Army. He asked his brother to call on the wise, Maeser Cressen. He can discard a Condition, any Condition. Renly's Courtier should be good company. They are weak but the team should have them on board to deal with the unforeseen deadlock, if any. Renly Baratheon and Brienne of Tarth are immune to enemy's abilities. They can fight without worrying the environment. Devan Seaworth is stealthy, meaning he can always go into the battle first and render one defenseless. Eddard Stark is the Hand of the King. He will defend the crown with his life and he should be here too. Who is the King? Joffrey Baratheon. The Lords call on the Knights, naturally. Ser Axel Florent, Ser Davos Seaworth, Ser Addam Marbrand, Ser Jaime Lannister gathered at the House and they are ready for the plot Tourney for the Hand. More Knight from the Rainwood.....

Baratheons have the Iron Throne. The Goldroad, the Great Keep, Aegon's Garden to feed the Army. Street of Steel to bring in the Army early. Narrow Sea, Stormland Fiefdoms and Great Hall are the places the Baratheons have direct control. They should be in the deck too. What are the Baratheon attachments? Stinking Drunk, Motley, Shadow's Blessing...they are efficient cards to bring down the enemy strength or give us gold when they attack. Lightbringer can save my important Lord and Knight. Bowl of Brown remove enemy's abilities. Increased Levy send in more gold. The Army is expensive. Vat of Wildfire and Widow's Wail round out the attachment pack. The deck is left with only a few space for events. Retreat can save unique characters at critical time. Lords of the Narrow Sea claims one power when the enemy new plot has a lower income than mine. Prosperity and Plenty recycles the attachment from the discard pile back to the character.

There are three ways to choose to attack ("challenges" in the game term) your opponent: Military, Intrigue and Power. You add up the strength of the characters in the chosen type of attack and the winner goes to the higher strength. The reward depends on the type of attack chosen, i.e. killing of the characters, the loss of cards from your own hand, and the loss of power from your own pool, all according to the number of claim on the plot card.

During the "Marshalling" phase, the Houses collect income by the revelaed plot card and any bonuses provided by cards already in play. To play a character card from your hand, you have to pay the gold from your treasury that the card requires. A player can keep on playing the cards from his hand as long as he has the gold to pay. A card that is affiliated with another House cost 2 more gold tokens to play as that character is not a "loyal" subject to your House. Nice. That's how loyalty counts.

To claim the power tokens, you have to win "challenges", which are divided into 3 types - military, intrigue and power. The type of challenge is called for by the active player in any order he desires during the "challenges" phase. The type of challenge can only be taken once during his turn. In general, a challenge is won by the side who can muster the higher total number of the challenges of the characters participating in the offense and defense. A character who participated in an offense or defense would "kneel", or "used", by turning the character cards side-way. The sequence of play in a turn is therefore crucial as part of the player's strategy because obviously, characters who are used in a turn cannot be used again later on to attack (if it is your turn) or defend (if there is another House on the attack!)

A player who has the highest total "initiative" ratings on the plot card and cards he controls won the initiative. He then selects one title from the game board. Each title confers different power to the players. For example, the Crown Regent adds 3 to the strength of player's participating characters in a "power" challenge. Master of Whispers adds 3 to the strength in any "intrigue" challenge. Lord Commander of the Kingsguard adds 3 to any "military challenge". Hand of the King adds 2 influence to the player at the time resolving events that yield characters' influence etc. Some kind of "predestined" politics is introduced as a result as one title may support or oppose to another by nature as shown on the game board itself. You cannot initiate challenge against another player who holds a title which you support by default of your own title. For example, Master of Laws supports Hand of the King while Crown Regent support or oppose no one. Master of Laws would oppose Master of Whispers, naturally. If Master of Laws won a "challenge" against Master of Whispers, an additional power would be rewarded for the House (the player).

After resolving the challenges, during "dominance" phase, the players calculate the total combined strength of all the played and standing characters remaining in front of him plus the amount of gold in the treasury. The player with the highest value wins the dominance this turn and claim 1 power for his House. All knelt cards stand again for the next round. But before the turn ends, a "taxation" phase is conducted by giving all the remaining gold tokens to the gold pool and titles back to the game board. Another turn begins and players continue to fight another day.





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19. Board Game: Paths to Hell [Average Rating:8.37 Overall Rank:7054] [Average Rating:8.37 Unranked]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 2 December, 2017
Winter Storm Series enters into eastern front WWII with Paths to Hell! This game is well-received even more than the first two in the series because of its popular theatre appealing to many of the gamers. You feel inspired simply as if you were one of the platoon leaders, engaging enemy in intense fighting at the frontline. Both Stephen and I feel the heat of battle and we start our game with scenario one.....

AAR:

Scenario 1: Tarnopol, 21 June, 1941, USSR, as the elements of the 5th S.S. Wiking (Viking) division approaching the first USSR headquarter at the frontline...The objective for the German S.S. is to capture the headquarter with an assault on Tarnopol. The first to overcome, however, is to cross the deep gullies, laying around to the southeast of the town.

For those who are still un-initated into the Winter Storm Series ("WSS"), let me have a brief introduction to you. The scale of the hex is 150 to 200 meters, with wide range of terrain including woods (offers more protection but more difficult to traverse by wheeled or tracked units) and light woods, rough (something common in mother Russia), hills (often block LOS unexpectedly and offer height advantage when spotting the lower ground or into the gullies), dispersed buildings or built-up areas (often the target of the attacking side in a scenario), fields (which slightly modifies attacker fire factor shooting through them or blocks LOS if the LOS passes through three or more field hexes). The variety of terrains given in WSS is the key to the combat system (LOS, spotting and divisor, i.e. terrain defensive value to arrive at the number of losses) and movement system, which distinguishes different types of units like foot, wheeled and tracked. The units different movement points when they cross different terrains, therefore posing many interesting tactical considerations to the players.


From the above, the left edge on the map is the northern side. Players should always check for the scenario instructions on the direction instead of assuming natural north to be the upper side of the map. The direction is important for the reinforcement to arrive, like in this case, the Soviet reinforcement enters on turn 3 from the north. They arrive in time closer to the town of Tarnopol on the left. If you are mistaken that the upper map be the north, the Soviet reinforcement might suddenly appear at the back of the Germans.

Units are activated by formation officers in an alternate manner. Upon activation, units within the command range of the officers can perform different actions, some of them are classified as risky. The normal actions are movement, fire combat (Anti-personnel, Anti-tank and Artillery fire) or close assault. The risky actions include construction of works like improved position, pontoon bridge, roadblock; or crossing river, barbed wire, pontoon bridge, AT ditches; or entering or sweeping minefields or removing "dragon's teeth". Units performing this actions while being fired upon or assaulted in hand to hand combat suffer dieroll modifier (-2 for fire attack or +2 for assault).

Both the maps and the counters are very beautifully illustrated, conveying a sense of "zen" in themselves when you are playing with them. Perhaps I don't need more explanation in this regard as you can view them from the pictures I posted here along with the AAR. One point to note though is that all officers are individually named, reinforcing the players in association with these hard-fighting, high-spirited bravery men and women (is or will there be women officers, at least for the Soviet partisans?), veteran or otherwise. The units are classified into three classes: green, regular and veteran.
 
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20. Board Game: Simple GBoH Battle Manual [Average Rating:7.37 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.37 Unranked]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 31 December, 2017
Coming back to the system SGBoH after 9 years, with Aaron in scenario Heraclea from the module Phyrric Victory. The new edition 2 in 2016 comes with the new updated rulebook but I still find typo not corrected after all these years. For example, the special Roman Right Wing Cavalry should be brought onto the map edge bounded by 1044, not 1004 through 2844. Well, it is life...Aaron is so nice in bringing me back into the wonderful time of ancient warfare with corrections to my moves and new light about the Roman formations, especially those cumbersome Roman allies Cohots in Velites, Principes and Hestati!

AAR:
Upon full deployment of the counters onto the map, a game of GBoH is always captivating, at least on the look.
 
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21. Board Game: Victory in Vietnam [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:7473]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled to play: 3 January, 2018
Again, this game has been delayed so many times on my list-to-play schedule. The rules seem to be complex but the system is actually very playable. My itch on the war has been increasing as I am playing three games of COIN Fire in the Lake. That game is good enough to invoke my feeling towards the war but not enough to shed any insights. I therefore have to jump into this wagon of more details. I am looking for an opponent all the time and out of my expectation, it is a great prize to find Henry going to be my opponent!

AAR:
 
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22. Board Game: Fortress Sevastopol [Average Rating:6.36 Unranked]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled to play: 6 January, 2018
You know what, how many times you can get to have a game with the designer of it in one's lifetime? I have such a chance to play direct with the designer on his own game. Christian wouldn't decline it...'cos he is my wargaming buddy for what, ten years in a row? I can't remember. But I am so exalted going into this area-impulse game with him.

AAR:
 
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23. Board Game: Quartermaster General: Victory or Death – The Peloponnesian War [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:2615]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled to play: 23 January, 2018
Play-testing a script game by Zurn together with the designer Ian Brody! I know nothing about a script game and given the designer messed up with Hexwar the software company, an iOS game is not in sight in the near future anymore. I asked for Vassal module but the designer is still closed about its possibility. Zurn came to the rescue with his script and asked for playtesters. I am happy to join but the script game via PBF on BGG looks cumbersome to set up and play. Anyway, if you are interested, go to here and watch our gameplay: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/28037920#28037920

AAR:
I played the blue Athens and Dan joined us as my ally purple Corinth. Ian the designer would be the red Spartan while Zurn the script writer would play the yellow Delian. I have to refresh with the rules somewhat and the three cards are discarded without much strategic thoughts. We would use Google Slide for the map and pieces to move on.



Victory or Death is a master piece of design based on designer's original system of Quartermaster General, a card-decision-based system, if not driven by cards, which concretize strategic choices among major powers. It is a cool decision making framework, I submit. And it works well even for ancient time - Peloponnesian War. Combat system is very streamlined to a minimum. Rather, you lead your power on historical path, making major decisions along the way, and hopefully, leading it to victory.
 
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24. Board Game: Pax Renaissance [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:638]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled to play: 27 February, 2017
Very text-heavy dependent game and they are written in very small font everywhere to pack inside a small box. But if you like me raving about bankers finance in medieval world, look nowhere else. I have to crunch the rulebook first.

AAR:
I can't believe I would love a card game like Pax Renaissance had it not the subject on a period I am so interested in: the Renaissance. This is all what Medieval, almost with the same rectangular map cards that lay out the whole of Europe, was meant to be. It is almost a classic text book on the Renaissance period, and who are the boss behind the developments and history in Europe. The bankers (or the house financiers) are the movers behind the conspiracies inside the royalties, overtaking kingdoms and powers with republics (a form of government more favorable to commerce and bankers), imperial and territorial expansions (riches that come with land and new discoveries), peasant revolts and religious wars, holy victory with supremacy in theocracies chosen, bishopric inquisitions of the heretics and the trade voyage that goes east or west. There are many more, perhaps as I didn't come across all the rules and mechanical subtleties in the game. What's not to like? A game for every Renaissance students.
 
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25. Board Game: Richard III: The Wars of the Roses [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:1217]
Lawrence Hung
Hong Kong
Wan Chai
Hong Kong
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Scheduled play: 17 March, 2018
David and I have been talking for a FTF game for so long. This is an easy entry to block system. Since David comes from England, it is natural that he would like to play this. This is a very entertaining wargame and I have played it several times, many of them are PBeM. A FTF game will certainly bring another level of enjoyment, especially when I lost heavily FTF when I played it against another David from Australia! Only then had I realized how cool this game it is.

AAR:
Although I don't know much about the history of the English Civil War, the bloody struggle between the House of Lancaster and the House of York has been widely told in many TV series and/ or movies. The Avalon Hill's game "Kingmaker" is also a classic wargame on the subject which I played the PC translation of the boardgame with a lot of fun memories - the cornering of the royal family and the maneuvering breakouts back and forth between the two Houses. This pastime memories are still carried to these days and thus a game of Richard III would bring me back to the period again.



Ain't the map awesome looking? The pasture green dotted with noble heralds - they call you to game on it every time I look at them. Being a head of the house, the King or the Pretender, both sides maneuver blocks of units on the map to find the "right" places to fight. By "right" places, I mean if your forces are defending on the "home turf", the area of your noble jurisdictions with its herald on, or crown for the King or his heir, you will know the places better and have +1 firepower, thus easier to hit the enemy.
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