Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday gaming: Part Un

Being currently out of work, "holiday" gaming is a bit of a misnomer. Apart from looking for work and waiting, waiting, waiting to hear about positions I've interviewed for, I have a lot of time on my hands. However, in this formulation, time does not equal money. When I'm making money, I have no time. When I have time, I'm not making money. Why can't I have time and money?

So, during this—hopefully brief—period between jobs, I have been able to get some gaming in.

Boardgaming is a kind of first love for me. I started in the hobby with it, left it for some years, and am now re-enjoying it. My friend Rick recommended a game released this year called Nations at War: White Star Rising from Lock 'n Load games (which I've mentioned in my last posting). It's tactical combat in Western Europe in WW2. I ordered a copy straight away and I've managed to get a number of games in in the past week. I expect to play a few more times in the next week.

White Star Rising (WSR) uses the same games scale as PanzerBlitz/Panzer Leader where a single counter/unit represents a platoon. But after that WSR departs considerably. WSR uses a chit-pull command activation system that limits what you can move at a given point, randomizes who gets to move what when, and may cause one or more formations to skip a turn, which can matter much for an attacker who needs to take an objective within the game's turn limit. Formations, when activated by their chit being pulled, can fire, move, overrun, or close assault. After they complete an action, they are marked as Ops Complete. Meanwhile, enemy units can opportunity fire against an activated unit moving.

Rick and I have learned through the game that infantry, especially panzergrenadiers, armored infantry, and paratroopers, are tough. Somewhat easily killed in the open but formidable in close combat against tanks, infantry is best when holding woods or built-up areas against attacking armored forces.

The system uses hit dice and saving rolls, which is novel in a board game. The system is reminiscent of Flames of War in some ways, but more sophisticated. It would make a good translation to miniatures. (Note to self: translate to miniatures.) All you would need to do is make up charts indicating the combat values for the units in a formation and convert the hex distances to inches. There may be some other tweaking desired; for example, it may be a good idea to make standard range bands that apply to all units. You would also need to work out combat, armor, and movement values for vehicles not yet covered in the system.

I like WSR so much that I've ordered some of the the World at War (WaW) system games from Lock 'n Load. This series predates WSR by a few years and is the genesis for the system, except that WaW depicts hypothetical conflict between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces circa 1985.

WaW should arrive tomorrow via UPS, so I hope to get a game or two in this coming week. I also have the Vassal module for it, so I can practice online and work out the rules kinks.

I got my long-awaited pre-ordered-back-before-the-earth-cooled copy of Columbia's Shiloh: April 1862 just before Christmas. I've played one partial game with Rick, just enough to get a feel for it. Its rating on BoardGameGeek is a wopping 8.17 out of 10, so it's been well received in its first month.

As is inevitable in playing a new game, we fumbled through the turns we played. I was Grant, Rick was Johnston/Beauregard. He came on pretty strong in the first turns, but I got lucky on a counterattack and set him back a bit. It bears replaying to see whether or not I was truly lucky or if we got something wrong.

I've only been able to get one miniatures game in. This was a Kampfgruppe Commander game run bu Mark Serafin. The scenario was set Russia 1941 with a pretty poor Soviet force defending a bridge and ford on a river line against a pretty good German force. Pz 38(t)s went up against T-28s, T-26s, and early model T-34s. Unfortunately, all the Soviet tanks were, well, crap. Poor training, low morale, and feeble response ratings pretty much made them fodder for the panzertruppen. Of course, my singular excellence in rolling 10s (the worst result) for my defensive rolls helped considerably.

The game played well, even if a German win was almost inevitable. It provided a good example of the early Barbarossa actions: good German armored forces concentrated against unready infantry forces supported only by a few tanks here and there. Alas, I didn't get photos.

Other stuff
Don't be shocked, but I managed to some painting done as well. I have a box of 15mm buildings cleaned and primed for painting that have sat unmolested in my garage for a few years now. I finally got to a couple. When painted one by one, they go pretty quickly. They're all western European types. Because my WW2 figures are exclusively Russian and German, they'll be good for scenarios where the Russians are running roughshod over the Reich in '45.

I got to some of my half-finished WW2 vehicles, too. Closer to be done are some Russian T-28s, T-70s, and T-34/85s. I also got well along with some StuG IIIs and a Hornisse.

I've also pulled out some 28mm Copplestone Castings Future Wars figures that I've had sitting about for some time. I have long had a desire to use them for playing Stargrunt II. I have enough for a single side with a small section of power-armored troops. (I've been a fan of power armor since I read Heinlein's Starship Troopers.) The Stargrunt II rules are a solid system, but seem a bit cumbersome for larger games. However, if I keep the scale small—just infantry and support weapons—it should make for some nice games.

Monday is DANG. We're playing Lepanto, so I hope to get some photos and do a write-up.

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