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Malta Besieged: 1940-1942» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Malta Beseiged AAR - Why I Maintain that Dice Hate Me rss

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PREFACE

This After-Action Report is based on a session using the original play test kit, as I do not have a release copy. I have posted this to give an example of how the game can progress based on card draws and various command decisions. Depending on the response, I may post additional (and longer) AARs from testing at a later date.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

* Like most States of Siege titles, rolls use a single d6.
* Any roll of a "1" is an automatic failure.
* A "6" is an automatic success.

- - - - -

EPOCH #1 (First Deck)

ULTRA showed up on the second card and I managed to get the Morale Resource re-roll on the second card as well. Not a bad start, but it lasted all of one card before it was lost. Due to cards 1-9-4-5-12-15, the Regia Aeronautica was in Malta 3 times in the first 6 cards and Operation Herkules was launched on my FIFTH card of the game. 4 out of 8 attacks on the Regia Aeronautica failed, the latter ones due to an Supply Resource of 0 (and the resulting -1 DRM) for three turns. In this span of three turns, I autofailed at least three different rolls that were critical, one to Fortify Malta and possibly prevent some of this, one to use ULTRA on my first convoy, and one to get the Supply Resource off 0 (between using SRs to get Fronts off Malta and some of the -1 SR cards, I was hurting within no time). Despite all this frustration (which almost caused me to simply walk away and start over later), I took one for the team and kept playing, as I wanted to see if there was any way at all to recover from this bad of a start. Fate had pity on me and allowed my first convoy to arrive with both Supplies, so that solved part of my SR problem, even though I had to repel another Malta attack, this time from the Regia Marina. The next card was the other convoy, and I salvaged 1/2 SR from that one. I used Cunningham to prevent the LuftWaffe from advancing and I drove the Regio Esercito back a bit to Benghazi. Over the last 3 cards, I tried to knock the RE back as far as I could, getting them to El Agheila (6).

Luftwaffe(3)=Box 4, Regia Aeronautica=Box 4, Regia Marina=Box 2, Regio Esercito=Box 6
Military Resource=3, Supply Resource=3, Morale Resource=2
Malta Fortification=2
ULTRA=active
Convoys=2/2 + 1/2 = 3/4 total Supply Resources delivered safely

Not a terrible position, given how I started, but I know the storm is coming.

EPOCH #2 (Second Deck)

The first thing that I did was Fortify Tobruk, as in my first AAR, I intentionally didn't fortify anything, just to see how the game played without forts (and to save on Actions). Malta also received a fort upgrade, which would turn out to be one of the few success stories. U-Boats were added on the second card and I used ULTRA (Intel) to get a +1 DRM on the AfrikaKorps, thereby scooting them back a bit. On the third card, I managed to get the Military Resource bonus on my last action, promptly forgot to take the free Raid, and then lost the bonus in the Resource phase of the next card. At this point, my die rolling Karma (or lack thereof) reared its ugly head again, as I had a string of autofails on each of the next few cards. In the midst of this, Tobruk was bypassed, giving me a +1 DRM. However, as soon as I received this, my SR went to 0 again, so I couldn't launch any Raids / use the DRM. Over the next few cards, I Raided several times to get the RS up to 0, as I couldn't seem to get any good Orders DRMs. When the Crete card appeared (#22), ULTRA was already in the Holding Box, so that didn't affect me. However, true to form, I rolled a 1 and therefore received no Crete DRM. On the following turn, the RA and RM attacked Malta again but were blocked. A brief bright spot appeared, as I managed to bring in 4/4 SR on Card 27 convoy, then promptly faded as I autofailed the Morale Resource roll twice that had a +1 DRM. The next card was also a convoy, but nothing was saved, so there goes the Morale. The next card was yet ANOTHER convoy (2/3 SR delivered) which eventually helped, but Malta had to repulse yet another attack by the RM, eventually requiring the use of Cunningham to prevent another Operation Herkules check. Another string of 3 autofails across 2 cards left me with everyone knocking at my door. On the last card of the Epoch, the Alexandria convoy showed up on the horizon. After failing 3 rolls in a row, I then lost all SR, causing another drop in Morale.

LW(3)=2, RA=1, RM=2, U-Boats=1, AfrikaKorps=2
MiR=4, SR=1, MoR=2
Malta Fort=3, Tobruk Fort=2 (bypassed)
ULTRA=Holding Box
Convoys=4/4 + 0/2 + 2/3 + 0/2 = 6/11 Supply Resources delivered

The noose tightens. The lower my Resources get, the more I worry about any OH checks, especially given how aggressive the non-AK forces are this time.

EPOCH #3 (Third / Last Deck)

Right out of the gate, RA attacked Malta but was blocked, giving me time to Fortify El Alamein after the AK was knocked back one space. On the next card, the LW attacked Malta but was blocked, the RA attacked and advanced to 0, and the U-Boats attacked and advanced to 0. So much for my BV3 Malta fort. In an attempt to stave off the upcoming AK double advances, EA was fortified to BV3 (which turned out to be a waste, as Rommel never saw it). The first convoy took 5 hits, but 1/4 SR made it to port. Deciding that Morale Resource was getting low, I rolled for Morale and promptly autofailed. On the next card, Cunningham was recalled, so no more help blocking advances. Consequently, the LW advanced into Malta again even though the RA was blocked. One last time, Karma paid me a visit and I failed three successive rolls to oust the LW, depleting all of my SR. Operation Herkules was launched and I lost with an OH total of 6.

LW3=Malta, RA=1, RM=2, UB=1, AK=2
MiR=2, SR=1, MoR=2
Malta=2, Tobruk=2 (bypassed), El Alamein=3 (never tested)
ULTRA=HB
Convoys=1/4 delivered

POST-GAME ANALYSIS

I really have a love-hate relationship with States of Siege titles. As bad of a die roller as I am, I feel like Sisyphus (from Greek mythology) pushing that boulder all the way up the hill only to have it perpetually roll down every time just as he reaches the top. The more I concentrate on trying to maximize my successes by only rolling with the DRMs, the more I seem to autofail rolls. It's enough to make you chew your own arm off. Despite confirming why I don't go to casinos, I did make the following observations:

1) Fortifying - While not fortifying did provide more Actions in my first AAR, I also spent a good deal of time pushing Rommel back over the same ground repeatedly. This time, I decided to fortify when practical. While Tobruk didn't stop the AK, it did provide the bypass DRM for Raids. In addition, the Malta fort did a whopping lot of work. It repelled at least 5-6 attacks before it was reduced--quite the investment. I will definitely consider fortifying in the future.

2) ULTRA - I'm coming to the conclusion that ULTRA plays a larger role with convoys later in the game. At the beginning (my AAR to the contrary), you are less likely to have to deal with lots of critical hits, so the Intel bonus is more useful, as it provides the DRM needed to assist in knocking Fronts back. In addition, it lets you plan ahead which can be quite a time-saver. I spent 8-10 rolls on improving Resources, only to have them summarily removed several times on the next card.

3) U-Boats - If you have to let something go, let the U-Boats go. No critical hits, and they can't critical in Malta. My U-Boats promptly advanced one space per card over very few cards, so they sat at 1 a good deal of the game. I just left them there, as I had bigger fish to fry (or throw in the fire, in my case).

4) Resources - This is the item that really got my blood pressure up. I can almost guarantee that as soon as I burn 3-4 Actions to get a Resource increased, the next card will take away any gains and set me back even further. I am starting to think that despite the bonuses, you should keep these just high enough that they don't hit 0 and that you have a chance to resist an OH check. The MiR in particular ALWAYS got knocked back as soon as the bonus was in sight--and the one time I got it, I thought that I had to wait until next turn to use it. *sigh*

5) Convoy Air Support - In my first AAR, I was assigning CAS at the time that I rolled for hits, NOT once I knew how many hits had been scored (during the Orders phase). Therefore, I was burning some Actions that I didn't need to allocate to CAS. Steve corrected me on this--CAS assignment is made at the end of the turn. Consequently, I found it easier to manage CAS this time.

- - - - -

I hope this AAR provides a window into the game mechanism and some indication of how the tide of the game can ebb/flow. Since there are several different ways to seed the decks, players can opt for a more historical progression of events or a more random time line.

Thanks again to Steve Carey for a great title and a fun play testing experience!

EDIT: Thanks, everyone, for all the thumbs and support.
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Steve Carey
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Really sorry you never rec'd a production copy of the game, it was out of my control (wish I had an extra one to give you).

That's a lot of auto-fails!

U-Boats in the Med performed poorly historically, so I made them a minor threat in the game (but a threat nonetheless).

I very much appreciate the kind words - even when being crushed, I wanted the design to provide a strong narrative in order to somewhat mitigate the sting of defeat.

Steve
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Thanks for the thumb and the good wishes.

In all honesty, I made a VASSAL module for myself and used some of the available graphics (and some I made myself) to make up the deficiencies of my test kit. If you like, I'll send you a copy--it's your game, after all.

Well, I don't know about the others in the testing group, but I sure felt like the King of Auto-failing. I still wonder occasionally how the game would play with 2d6 instead, but I haven't tried adjusting the game to test that theory. Based on how Nemo's War (1st edition, at least) handles 2d6, I think it could work without jeopardizing the mechanics. *shrug*

I have to admit, it's hard getting repeatedly blown away by a game system--humans in general are not programmed to like defeat. However, failure is the great teacher, as they say, so I'm trying to learn how to be a good student. Maybe one day I'll actually make it to the end of Deck 3.

Thanks again for everything.
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Paolo D'Ulisse
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Every now and then I hope someone can publish a new version of this game and of "we must tell the emperor"... soblue
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Steve Carey
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collezionista wrote:
Every now and then I hope someone can publish a new version of this game and of "we must tell the emperor"... soblue


Maybe one day Paolo, maybe one day. whistle

Some of my most vivid research memories were authors relating how brave and efficient the Italian Navy was even while under quite adverse conditions. It was something that I wanted to put into the design to make others more aware.

Steve
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Simon Messer
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Great report, thank you.
Having lived in Malta for a number of years this remains a "grail" game for me. Still searching... *sigh
 
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Joao Gabriel
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Fortunately I managed to find one copy a couple weeks ago which was gently sold to me by Kurtis Swekla (doughboyca). Although the game didn't arrive yet (I live in Brazil) and after reading some comments here I definitely feel that I'm a lucky guy to get a copy of that game :-)
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Joao,

You, my friend, are one lucky gamer! Enjoy your prize. cool
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Akashorty wrote:
Great report, thank you.
Having lived in Malta for a number of years this remains a "grail" game for me. Still searching... *sigh


Wow, that's really cool. I met an exchange student from Malta a while back and we talked about Maltese history. He talked about how there are still locations preserved from the WW2 bombing that the populace have voted to leave alone. He made it sound like those who survived know their history well and want to remember it equally well. Quite a testament, given what the islands endured.

And thanks for the compliment on the report.
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Christopher
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It has been some time, but I also played Malta Besieged last week.

I lost 3 cards from the end as Rommel took Alexandria in two consecutive 2x advances and I was unable to chase him back out.

I still think it one of the best installments of the State of Siege system. Really a very rich game where every decision you make has it's consequences on the possibilities you have in the future.

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Steve Carey
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teufen wrote:
I still think it one of the best installments of the State of Siege system. Really a very rich game where every decision you make has it's consequences on the possibilities you have in the future.


Christopher, you were one of the best playtesters I have ever encountered - We Must Tell the Emperor would not have been such a success without your dedicated efforts!
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Christopher
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Steve Carey wrote:

Christopher, you were one of the best playtesters I have ever encountered - We Must Tell the Emperor would not have been such a success without your dedicated efforts!


And I enjoyed every bit of it!
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Greg Colgan
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I've played this 4-5 times now at least and a win still eludes me. Something about a camel and a needle.....?

I tend to play a burst of a couple of quick games in succession, then - defeated - place it back on the shelf. Sooner or later, the siren call of Malta beckons me to return......

A very challenging, enjoyable.....game, with more than a dash of frustration. More 6s, damn you!
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Amen!

And fewer 1, please! I'm tired of auto-failing. angry

EDIT: poor grammar--"fewer", not "less". blush
 
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