Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Holiday gaming

After a long time of being snowed in, I finally got out and about as of Monday. The snow is still clumped in some areas around beautiful Lynnwood, although to the south, it's much clearer. I live in what's called the "Convergence Zone." This means that whenever the weather is crappy in the Pacific Northwest, it's even crappier in the CZ.

Monday was DANG (Dave's Annual Naval Game). Not me Dave, but the other Dave, Dave Schueler. Dave has been running DANG for several years now and I've made it to most of them. It's a biggish event with about six to eight players and a lavish spread of food. Most years it's been a kind of mini naval campaign that generates several actions. This year's event was a single modern naval action set hypothetically in disputed waters between Australia and Indonesia. We used the Harpoon naval rules. I played on the Aussie side and for several turns had the only viable RANS ship in the area. Fortunately, it was an Adelaide class FFG, HMAS Newcastle. The Adelaide is was Oz calls a Perry class frigate. It has a single missile launcher that is capable of dealing a lot of misery in a short time. Only four Harpoons, but a world of SM2s and smaller AA missiles. The Harpoons are the ship-killers, but I had the most effect with the SM2s firing in an anti-ship rĂ´le. 

In the opening phase of the game, the Aussies had to evacuate crews for three oil rigs and get the evacuation force off the board. I'm not sure what the Indonesians needed to do, but they didn't do it in any case. All the crews were evacuated, though we lost a rig tender that had been attempting to evacuate the crew of one rig. The Newcastle shot up two Indonesian gunboats and an Indonesian frigate without loss to itself. It also survived a bombing pass by a flight of Indonesian F-5s taking down one of the attacking aircraft. From there, it proceeded to carry out mission orders to destroy all oil rigs in the area (ours and theirs) and shell a shore installation. At this point, its charmed life ran out--but not before a little more charm came its way.

By attacking the northernmost Indonesian rigs with gunfire, I strayed well out of support range of the three Adelaide class frigates that made up the Australian response force. The Indonesians had their own response force of gunboats and corvettes that popped onto our radar screens just before they started launching volleys of Harpoon and Exocet missiles. I lucked out for one turn when the Indonesian missiles locked onto my escort, the gunboat HMAS Bathurst, and a nearby oil rig that I was attacking with gunfire. Both were utterly destroyed without effect on the Newcastle. Then the shrimp hit the barbie. The next Indonesian salvo was 16 missiles. I managed to decoy or shoot down several, but the several others that got through finished me off with *boom* to spare.

The only thing that spared Newcastle from overwhelming overkill was the presence of my other ship, HMAS Sydney. I sailed north at full speed and caught a salvo from the other batch of Indonesian ships. I was able to get off an opportunity shot of four Harpoons and five SM2s at the Indonesians, but their hits on me were crippling. I managed to sink a corvette and damage another ship, but my sensors were knocked out, so my missiles were out of action. Another small salvo came in and I was sure it was curtains for the Sydney. However, the lovely Phalanx defense system has its own radar and came in to decoy and shoot down every missile in the salvo. That was the last shot for the Indonesians. Out of missiles and with two unscathed Adelaide class FFGs heading toward them, the Indonesians turned around and ran for home waters. The game was declared an Aussie win, but at the cost of one frigate lost and one heavily damaged.

Today, Dave came over and we indulged ourselves with some boardgames. I love boardgames, but I get little opportunity to play. I have several new ones that I was hoping to try.

Game 1 was Texas Glory from Columbia Games. I played the Texians and Dave was Santa Anna and his minions. It's a bit overwhelming to see a juggernaut of Mexicans coming on, but the key to Texian victory is to hold on--or get really lucky and catch "The Napoleon of the West" with his pants down. I lost the Alamo (thanks for tryin' Davey), but I held on at Goliad. The Mexicans were now storming into central Tejas with their bloodlust up, burning towns and committing depredations all the way. Texas Glory uses cards to determine what you can move each turn and some of the cards represent "events" such as the ability to launch a surprise attack or send Comanches at your opponent. I had Sam Houston and a force of good troops, including the New Orleans Grays and a strong unit of riflemen, at the town of Victoria and I had the "Deguello" card to play. The card let me fight to the finish. (Normally, a combat is ended after three rounds, the attacker having to retire if any defenders are left.) My hope was to strike out and eliminate one group of Mexicans. As luck would have it, his nibs the generalissimo/el presidente was there in person. After four rounds of combat, the Mexican force was eliminated and Santa Anna lost, an instant win for the Texians.

Games 2 and 3 were Conflict of Heroes by Academy Games. This is a sort of Eurogame meets Squad Leader. The system is very interesting. It lacks the detail--the excruciating detail--of Advanced Squad Leader, but the play is challenging and focuses a lot more on how you use command resources. You start each turn with a set number of command points and for each unit you activate you get seven unit action points. You use any combination of action points and/or command points to do things with units like fire, move, and rally. That's the simple description. Dave and I both liked the game, so I hope to have more opportunities to play. We played the first two scenarios. I played Russians in scenario one and lost, Dave played Russians in scenario two and lost. I'm not sure if that's a theme that's developing.

Game 4 was Command & Colors: Ancients by GMT Games. We played the Gaugamela scenario from expansion 1 and I was the Macedonians (Alexander) by random choice. I was a little worried about the horde of Persians facing me. However, they were mostly light troops and I had Al and his Companion cavalry on my side. Dave played aggressively and ran his heavier troops out in front of his light troops. This gave me a big advantage in ranged fire with my light troops. He succeeded in eliminating one of my units, but I had a lot of good rolls and was able to do a lot of damage. I think he may have eliminated another unit, so the game ended 7-2 in my favor. We played a few games of Command & Colors earlier and I've come to like the system a lot. It's simple and has enough flavor to be interesting as often as you play it. I have all the expansions now, so I've got around 80 scenarios to play.

This coming Saturday is Drumbeat III. This is a newish event hosted by a long-term NHMGS member (and many-times president) Dick Larsen. It's a one-day miniature gaming event in Seattle. As the "III" might suggest, it's the third year Dick has hosted this. I'll be running a Field of Glory game and, I hope, playing in a General Quarters III naval game in the Morning. So, I still have more holiday gaming ahead.


  1. Dave,
    Happy New Year!! As for the Soviets losing in games 1 and 2 - stay away from those pesky MG34s!! :)

  2. Thanks, Uwe. In the 2nd game, especially, the MG34s were deadly. Conflict of Heroes is a very nice system and I'm looking forward to the second release in the series.

  3. Dave,
    In all your desktop boardgaming is there any chance you have tried "Napoleon's Triumph" by Simmons games? It looks like a fascinating game both in looks and in combat. Just reading about it almost makes me want to buy a copy.
    Hope you had a good new year!
    Mark Waddington