David Dockter
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What to play?

Been a great couple of weeks for spanking new wargames. Lots of new games arriving. Starting to think this may be the best year for wargames since...2005 Lots still in pipe: Your Most Anticipated Wargames of 2015

First, Day of Days: The Invasion of Normandy 1944 last week (and, ooooh do we like da beasts in these parts - It Never Snows BIG thumbs up). Then, Churchill appeared in god's country on Tuesday (much rejoicing), soon followed by Triumph & Tragedy (1st MN Wendell led a lot of playtesting for that)...and finally, Genesis: Empires and Kingdoms of the Ancient Middle East hit the shores of the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

So, a high class problem: what spanking new game to play?


1st MN did a bunch of playtesting on Churchill: Churchill In The Making

Alsen called in the morning and asked if I wanted to jump into an afternoon game of Genesis at the First Minnesota Historical Wargame Society We've played A LOT of PAX Romana , and we really like it, although, it does have a few "issues". A few of our PAX AARs here:

July 2, 2011...Scenario V...4P, PAX: July 9, 2011: The Adventures of Hannibal the Sailor: A Comedy in Two Parts and St Pat Day Madness and Legend of the Sacred Band of Iconium


Yeah, we dig PAX

Had been planning on sitting in on The Halls of Montezuma (Gordo and Andrew the III give it a thumbs up here: G.A.A.R. 7-31-15 -- A MexiCAN State of Mind (Or the Day Churchill Took Over The World) ) or getting in some Churchill prior to an evening session tourney CC (related: VERY, VERY, VERY Late to the Party: One 1st MNer FINALLY Comes in from the Cold: Codes at Sunrise: CC July 24, 2015 ), but thought "Why not Genesis, since, we're ALWAYS looking for the next great friday nite multiplayer wargame (and, sadly, there are almost none)?".

"1PMish, Alsen? Count me in."

Setting Up...


1st Mn forms up early on Fridays in the summer



So, I think maybe Alsen had read the rules; maybe not. Didn't take us that long to set up the three turn 4 player scenario. Some bitch'in & moan'in about finding locations on the map (there are no hex #s or grid with a location index...WTF?!) . We also thought that a trip to Kinko's to make additional copies of the rulebook would be required, but, shockingly, we didn't need that rulebook much at all (this is a good thing...a "clean" game...and certainly a breeze if you've played Pax Romana

Alsen took the Assyrians (purple), I was allocated the Hittites (blue), Alan the Babylonians (green) and Frick the Egyptians (yellow). As we were setting up, we also noticed that both Alan and Frick's shirts were fashionably color coordinated with their Kingdom's color!


Proper multiplayer wargame component and attire color coordination: Green Shirt Bab's Allan, and Egyptian Man in Yellow Frick

Anyways, set-up is relatively a breeze, which each player getting:

1) A few monuments (they generate VPs)

2) An empire - home cities and near abroad cities - each city has an economic value from $1 to $5 (which also are VPs)

3) Peasants (they'll help you build monuments)

4) Infantry (about 20 to 30 interchangeable SPs {strength point})

5) Chariots (everyone gets around 6... a chariot has 3x {if a 3 chariot tech level, which everyone is} the combat strength as lowly infantry

6) Three Kings (rated for leadership {1 to 3?}...and tactical {1 to 4?} high being good - basically die mods)...one random king for each turn...he rules, he dies (the turns are 50 years)

Each player also gets a welcomed playaid and cheesy player mat (a Kingdom Display Card - which could have contained more info, and, why not a 8x11 hardstock?...another quibble)


Kingdom Display Card

A little about the game...



Just a few brief/initial comments regarding the game (I don't have a copy and there are few images yet, since Genesis was JUST published, in the BGG image library)...

Components...functional, solid, but missing some love


Sample part of the map: time to move away from tired squares & circles

Map? Not enough love (flavor) for me...and, the very tired squares/circles approach was utilized for to denote spaces...grumble, grumble (related: Dots, Squares or Areas: Point to Point Wargame Map Designs: Good, bad and ugly.).

Rules? GOOD! I'm serious (and I hate rulebooks). MUCH better than PAX rules that almost conquered my crew. The rulebook being very good is understandable, since Genesis is a "distilled" v3.0 of the PAX model - and PAX was a product of years and years of Berg's fine crafting in the ancient world.



Counters? Fine; nothing special.



Cards? Fine; nothing special.



The box cover? Nicely evocative.

Playaids? Also a thumbs up for these.

All in all? A decent GMT quality wargame product that we have come to expect...very functional...no real sour notes and nothing that gets in the way of fine game play (other than no space numbers or map grid) ...the look could have used a bit more love/flavor/color for my taste...but it is still a fine looking package.


A king, a Hittite woman named Bathsheba and a Friday nite in the late Bronze Age; they're only missing a decent multiplayer wargame to atract a few more players for their festivities

Mechanics...simple, but have enough dials and levers to allow players to make meaty strategic choices & cleverly implement their strategy, until, chaos quickly unhinges it

It's a chit pull game. Each player gets 4 chits tossed into the cup. Pull a chit? You may make 1 major move (everything in one space), 2 minors (move 2 individual SPs) and a recruit (purchase 2 SPs). Point to point movement.

Movement allowance: Monopoly Roll a die! (add leader's rating to it). Love it. We're talking 50 year turns, so, it's not really movement, but, rather spreading of influence.

Combat: DRMs (it's Berg!). Odds (2 to 1, take a +1, etc), chariots (the most = +2, supremacy = +5), leader ratings and couple of other things generate a net DRM in one player's favor. Both players toss a die. The result is the percentage the enemy suffers. The net DRM may now be applied to reduce your losses or increase opponents. For example, you both tossed a "5". Net DRM was +3. You could now decrease your losses from "5" (50%) to "2" (20%) or increase opponents loss from "5" (50%) to "8" (80%) or and combo of "3". Berg clever as usual.

Economics: Cities generate money, spend it building units, maintain things, building monuments, etc. Each player has a manpower limit. There is a VERY cool mechanic where each player may assess tribute on non home country cities with the chance the city will revolt. More on that below.

Politics: Sadly, not much. No strategic will. No factions within a kingdom. Political Will model from PAX is gone (which, is good, it had real issues). A lack of political mechanics is the biggest knock against the game for me.

Logistics: You need to trace back to our capital in order to collect for a city. During campaigning, no supply considerations for your force (another knock against the game - although, maybe we missed something).

Infamous and glorious Berg random events: They're here via the cards. Minor empires pop up, a variety of taps on the head or hammers to the gut for this and that and a few gifts from the gods.

Ok, let's get to the show...

Act 1: A Smash Up


1st move of the game: Babylonians attack Assyrians

The game started out with a BANG. The general situation is that all four countries are faced off on Canaan's borders. Each country also has a near abroad corner where then could expand. So, smack your neighbor or non-aggressively colonize? Well, it's the 1st MN, SO, we all knew what Allan's Babylonia 1st activation choice of the game would be: PUNCH ALSEN IN THE FACE.

Babylonia ("Babs") jumped on the Assyrians. Mano a Mano. Main army vs main army. Yes, we would be playing six hours (about two hours a turn...16 player activations among four kingdoms...plus admin phases, events, etc)...and only 3 game turns. So, an early disaster might be difficult to recover from within the constraints of the scenario. No matter. Time had come to see how the combat system works: we're wargamers.

Dice were selected, carefully. Then, they were tossed.

Result? Each side suffered 50% losses. Yeeeehaw. Egypt and the Hittites ("Hits") smiled. Egypt went next and boooooofed their major army movement roll: a "1". HITs went west to colonize various non player cities.

Babylonia spent the rest of the turn recovering from the initial disaster, while the Assyrians boldly seized Hamath from the Hits.


Rebellion in Egypt

Egypt got hit with a rebellion on its 2nd activation and spent the turn trying to put down the angry peasants.

The Hittites got two of the last four activations and used it to retake Hamath, conquer both Qatna and Kadesh and jump to an early VP lead.


Hittites roll thru Canaan

When the turn ended, the VPs were as follows:

Hittites: 43

Egypt: 39 (despite the rebellion!)

Babylonia: 37

Assyria: 33

Act 2: Unleash the Chaos!

Well, the chaos actually started Turn 1 in Egypt when the natives could no longer tolerate Frick as a ruler (who could?!). But, Berg decided to go both barrels on us turn 2. Before we get to that, we had some admin phases to sort thru (building troops, maintenance, new kings, etc). As mentioned above, we had our first go with Berg's nifty tribute mechanic. Again, players may attempt to tax (up to the city's monetary value) non-home country cities they control at the risk of putting the cities in revolt (a tea party!). Being budding overlords, all players decided to demand tribute from their new subjects.

Results were as follows:

Assyria: $18...3 cities in revolt

Babylonia: $10...1 revolt

Egypt: $18...1 revolt

Hittites: $17...0 revolts


just another Bronze Age Hittite slave (the blur in thee bottom left)

The first activation of the turn went to the Hittites. They used it to rush a newly raised large force from their capital to the front (city of Ursa) vs the Assyrains. Assyrians responded by rushing a reinforcing force to Harran. Babs began to shuffle forces west. Egypt drew a card that allowed him to negotiate an alliance: he selected friendship with Babylonia. Babs then got stuck with the next two activations and mucked about (always bad in a chit activation game when you get almost all your chits early: tough to respond then to backstabs, chaos, etc).

Egypt then choose to launch an invasion of Hittite held Canaan. Egypt brought a force of 7 chariots and 20+ infantry against the Hittite army of 5 chariots and about the same number of infantry. Egypt outrolled HITs and booted them out of Qatna.

HTs then got the next two activations. First, they revealed an alliance card and requested friendship from the Assyrians. Wise King Alsen concurred: a non-aggression pact was signed. With his eastern flank secured, the Hittite King then turned south to avenge himself against the treacherous Egyptian. Dice tossed and this time Egypt was kicked out of Canaan. With that secured, the Hittite king then revealed the "Elam" card (now that Babylonia had moved to the west leaving their backdoor open).

Consequently, Elam went on a rampage against Babs, taking a few cities and one of his precious glorious monuments.


The Backstabbing Elam


Uprising in Elam

Of course, the NEXT activation was Babylonia's...the chit gods (under Berg's control) would not have it any other frickin way...and he revealed "THE SEA PEOPLES". surprise Out of the Med they swarmed; right on top of the Hittites. Aleppo and a few neighboring cities were quickly conquered. Egypt then pounced on the wounded Hittite beast and took back Kadesh. Luckily for the Hittites, they were able to somewhat respond with an activation and stomp out most of the invading SEA PEOPLES into the sand.

Assyria ended the turn by opening up a can of whoop arse on the Babylonians (adding to their Elam troubles at the other end of their kingdom).

Egypt...revolt suppressed, and now, I'm pissed: Turn 1: 39 (despite the rebellion!), Turn 2: 45 (nice bounce back): Total: 84

Hittites...strong, but slipping: Turn 1: 43, Turn 2: 34 (DAMM SEA PEOPLES!): Total: 77

Assyria...the comeback kid: Turn 1: 33, Turn 2: 46 (wow!): Total: 73

Babylonia...I've fallen down and can't get up: Turn 1: 37, Turn 2: 25 (ouch...Elam...Assyria), Total: 62


The Dreaded Sea Peoples


Invasion of the Sea Peoples

Unfortunately, I had to bolt to run an errand. Luckily, Ivan was able to step in and assume leadership of the Hittite Kingdom (although, I had left him with the Sea Peoples debacle to clean up). Frick (THANKS!) kept track of things after I turned into a pumpkin; so I'm reading his scrawl to finish the session report).


Ivan jumps in

Act 3: Fat Lady Sings Praises of Man in Yellow


Prairie Dog

Grabbed some dinner before heading back. Related, stopped by Prairie Dog in Uptown the day my Churchill arrived. I'm always on the look out for a good dog or sausage. Prairie Dog fits that bill. Recommended!

So, when I returned to our lair, Black Sox Dave was in the building. We began setting up our 1st MN CC tourney first round game. I checked in on the Genesis crew. Frick provided a brief synopsis following:

Tribute:

Babs: $13

Egypt: $4

HITs: $9

Assyria (lead by a tyrant): $20

The action? Babs moved to finally put down the Elam virus. HITs tried to recover and raise forces, but, Replacement King Ivan could NOT roll a decent move roll to save his life - so, HITs was stuck in the mud.

Assyrian tried to thwart the powerful Egyptian, but, like a fly, was swatted away. Team Egypt ended the game with a swagger that comes with victory, while the other punters bowed at his feet: congrats to KING FRICK.


CC tourney begins...setup...again 1st MN Combat Commander Tournament II: Electric Boogaloo


Oberst Black Sox Dave vs me da brit...Lt Jason top pic schooling us...Ivan the Terrible clarifying something

Final Thoughts...Rejoice: Genesis Could be a Mainstay Friday Nite Somewhat Meaty and Definitely Experiential Multiplayer Wargame...



My ideal Friday nite shits and giggles multiplayer trash talkin wargame is probably some combo of The Napoleonic Wars and Shanghai Trader : experience (narrative) first, healthy dose of chaos/politics, plenty of ability to muck with your neighbor and some decent operational model. There are VERY few of these. COIN is sort of in that space...sort of. We played Struggle of Empires a few times, but, it never stuck. Don't get me started on Axis & Allies (hated it). History of the World was fun for a bit (but operational model toooo damm simple). 7 Ages has got some renewed club love lately, but, again, op model not interesting. Here I Stand never really caught fire in my tribe for some reason. Eclipse gets some play now and then (fading now) and is not bad, but, we never went gaga over it. Anyways, not much to choose from...and Genesis is now near the top of my short list.

For other games in "this space": Multiplayer Power Politics: RCW>LotSM>RoR>FF>PAX>COIN?>Churchill

One other point: the player countries appear resilient. This is good for a Friday nite multiplayer wargame: you want players to feel real pain, but, not despair. Part of it with Genesis is that if you are prudent (leave forces in the corners of your kingdom), you'll at least be able to somewhat mitigate the inevitable cruel Berg twist of fate. It also means that everyone should be "in the game" until the final turn (but, no guarantees). In our game, Egypt took an early BIG set back with the rebellion. Yet, they rolled to victory.


Yeah...we'll be pimping out Genesis: bits, miniatures, 2x the map, etc, now that it survived the first play with good reviews by one band of hairy arsed wargamers

So, hats off to Berg, The Genesis Team and GMT! Fine game. Fun game. Genesis could (a few more plays will tell) be a mainstay on the VERY short Friday nite or all day Saturday "let's- drink-some-beer-push-some-counters-do-some-trash-talkin-suffer/enjoy-the-agony/ecstasy-of-wild-swings-of-gaming-fortune-and-curse-Berg's-frickin-random-events-chaos-generator" DECENT multiplayer wargame list. Fingers crossed.



Now, that this is off of Berg's plate, let's hope he gives us THUNDERBOLT! The 2nd Punic War (part of the fantastic Carthage: The First Punic War and The Rise of the Roman Republic series) VERY soon. Related news here: Carthage must be destroyed yet again: 1st MN's Match Game...and a Whiff of Thunderbolt. (at the end of that AAR).

...and really bummed I'm not going to be at WBC playing some Genesis with my mates...next year!



Other 1st MN/Sawatdee/Herr Dr AARs: 1st MN/Sawatdee/Herr Dr Session Reports




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Runs with scissors
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I really enjoyed Pax Romana, and am looking forward to getting this to the table.
 
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Greg S
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Your report, as always, is fantastic!

You've once again got this Jersey boy wishing he lived in Minnesota!
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Matt Irsik
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We did a three player game as well last Friday, which was quite a bit of fun, but we tried the entire campaign. Two of us had read the rules and did a test turn, but the other player caught on fairly quickly, so that's a sign for us that the rules are well written. However, while the game is a lot of fun, the campaign game is going to take multiple nights. I'm not sure if we were playing too slowly, spent too much time going over the rules, etc., but we got through about four turns in five hours.
 
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David Dockter
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Our pace was a little slower I think (30 minutes per player per game turn), but, this was our first go). I could see getting that down to maybe 20 minutes a player per turn. But, there's going to be a fair amount of trash takin, laughing/crying, etc with this game (which is a good thing)...so an hour or hour & half per game turn might be the limit a leisurely pace.
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David Dockter
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essayons7 wrote:
Your report, as always, is fantastic!

You've once again got this Jersey boy wishing he lived in Minnesota!


Stop by anytime if you find yourself in god's country on a Friday nite.
 
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David Dockter
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autumnweave wrote:
I really enjoyed Pax Romana, and am looking forward to getting this to the table.


Can't see anyone that liked Pax NOT liking Genesis. Genesis is more streamlined (ex: political will tossed out...good...it didn't work in PAX), much, without losing significant flavor or valuable chrome (by the way, there is not much chrome in Genesis).

And the strategic situation is better (4P). With PAX, Carthage was basically invulnerable. These four in Genesis are up on each other; their empires come together like the 4 corners.

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