Monday, 16 October 2017

Playing 'We Were Brothers'

I hadn't heard of this game until now, when my friend Pablo (you know, the bloke I play board games with -man, you almost need a label of you own in this blog) brought it over the other day.

It's a boardgame that covers the campaign on Italy, so you can play with British, Americans, Germans or Italians, through a series of historical scenarios that cover Operations Husky, Avalanche and Shingle.
For our introductory game we chose an easy scenario, to grasp the core rules. Americans vs. Germans, 4 minis each side (you can get an idea of the level of detail we're talking about!). The goal here was to scout the board, reckoning all three buildings on it:

I was skeptical about the card, but the stuff is good
Hexagons are the new black. Not only you'll move counting hexes; if you look close, you'll see some darker markings. Those enclose the 'mega-hexes', which are relevant for weapons range. In the pic below you can notice a blue token on the left side of the board. That is the wind gauge. Yes. The direction of the wind is relevant here.

I'll be playing the Germans (left); my pal the Americans (right)
The characters sheet takes acount of what weapon does each one bear, the ammo left, grenades left and any modifier to the stats you may achieve during the game:

You can actually run out of ammo. These things never happen in Warhammer...
About the game system... well, this was quite new for me. Instead of using modifiers or charts (you know, the typical '-1 if long range, -2 if behind cover...') you use different dice. The colour reference indicates the 'harm potential' of the dice (more or less in the way that Descent or Imperial Assault use them). Let me explain with an example. The Mauser Kar 98K in the pic above serves. If you shoot it within a range of 4 megahexes, you'll roll a yellow die. If you shoot up to 12 megahexes, a blue die. BUT if there are any modifiers (target behind cover, for example), you'll use the die which is below (so if you were to shoot using the yellow die, you'll use the green one instead; if you were to use the blue one, you'll be using the red one instead). Modifiers are acumulative, so though you are supposed to use a blue die to shoot, you may end up using the grey one, for example. Have a look at the reference sheet:
Sounds complicated, but it really isn't, don't be afraid. Here you have all you need to know to play
Don't worry, we'll see some examples.
About the minis... I don't really know if these were something widespread or only local, but when I was a child, back in the early '80s, I used to buy (well, my parents had to) these toy plastic soldiers that came in paper envelopes. Bendy plastic, about 10-15mm... Have you ever seen them, do you even know what I'm talking about?
Well, the minis in this game reminded me of those. Kind of exactly the same minis.
We were using four soldiers each, but you need to differenciate if they are standing, kneeling or face down
 OK, enough chitchat, let's go see some action.
The Americans were dazzled by that strange huge beer tank (German beer, BTW)
Each turn you roll initative (modified roll if you have an Officer/NCO, if you have more troops than your opponent, that stuff). The turn sequence is divided into three phases. Action/Movement/Resolving pending stuff. During your action you can do almost anything; shooting, jumping a fence, going to ground, kneeling, whatever. In the pic below you see one German trooper using his action to unlock a door, so they can get and search it.

The token says 4 to unlock, I got a happy 6. Weee!
 You may have noticed small tokens beside each mini. that is to ID them, so you can know which one you are activating and the weapons/actions related to that specific soldier.

The Americans move forward
So do the Germans
First shoot! An American soldier opens fire on the enemy. He was 7 megahexes far and there were a couple of obstacles in the middle; so, instead of the green die he would regularly had to use, he had to use the pink die:
...which was totally ineffective
The Germans move towards the closest building...
...while an American soldier has occupied the other one
An American throws a grenade to the Germans. Max range is three megahexes. He rolls the grey and blue dice. Grey will say if it hits (if you get the thumb up symbol) -or scatters; and blue will say how much it deviates from the target.
It scatters 1 hex following the direction of the wind. Ha, you forgot about the wind!
 The angry German, unharmed, throws a grenade himself!
It hits! Right in the place!
Now you have to roll the blue die for each soldier affected, to determine the wounds. First one:
Six wounds! Immediate death!
Let's see how about the second one:
You serious? Another six? Another kill!
Things had got wild quite suddenly! The Americans had to think their moves carefully. The trooper inside the house went up to the upper floor to get a better firing position. The other one moved towards the central building, but the rest of the Germans moved forward too...
Hmmm, how to put it in elegant words... FUBAR
The American shot from the window to the German behind the wall. Didn't hit, but got him pinned
But in the meantime, the German MG34 killed the other poor guy
Another door unlocked, so he's going into to reckon the house
The American throws a grenade and causes some injuries to the German soldier
Things look quite lost. A German soldier is behind the wall, another one is inside the building, going upstaris to shoot from the window, and a third one is running towards the house while being covered by his mates:
Lots of things happening at the same time!
The American soldier takes a problem at a time. First thing, the running man. He shoots and...
Bam! Quite in extremis! But that was a hell of a shot. Instant death!
From this point on I have to say we made a mistake. My pal thought that, when shooting to a mini inside a building (in this case me shooting him), you have to roll the grey and red dice, and only if you got the skull sign on the red die you aimed correctly. But the rules aren't like that. You roll both, and when you get the 'thumb up' sign on the grey die you have aimed correctly. What getting the skull on the red die really means is that the enemy has spotted you first and shoots you before! So it's an extra shot for your enemy, nothing else.
Dammit, it was on the quick reference sheet and we didn't notice
So during the next turns the only thing I did was shooting and wasting my ammo. I got some thumbs (and discarded them!), but never got the skull, so we thought that the house was the most effective fortress ever.
In the meantime...
...the besieged American shot and killed the man behind the wall...
...and threw a deadly grenade to the MG man who was behind the opposite corner
So it suddenly became all equal again! One vs one. But both soldiers were entrenched in the buildings across the street. There was a point in which the gunshot between the last two survivors became stupid. I decided to take my chances, left my position and run towards the building, decided to storm it. But then the American did the same. They both met at the door...
Oh, this is ankward
American victory! Until the last man, in the best Hollywood tradition!
Well, I think it is quite safe to say that, had we not made that mistake about aiming, the victory would have been German. Anyway, it all was extremely epic, and that's all one can ask from a game like this. I thought the learning curve would be worse, but it really wasn't. Once you get the basic ideas, it all goes quite swift. The turn sequence makes a lot of sense and the micromanagement of your Squad is not complicated at all. The only important thing is keeping track of what soldier you have activated and the colour code for the dice, so you know what to roll on each occasion. I have to say that this system is fun; at least different from the usual stuff. A different way to mess with statistics, I liked it.

For an introductory game this was more than nice, but you can run larger games with more people involved; there are even rules for tanks. I'd like to see what's the game like at Platoon level, seems interesting.
This is of course quite far from a Bolt Action concept or so (which was essentially my only previous experience with WWII). The game is very tactical, detailed and well thought, with high doses of realism. We still have to exploit its possibilities, which look way much more varied than this introductory skirmish. The game is an interesting find, if you have the chance, give it a try, I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Ballads of War 2x22-2x23

My painting queue is stagnated. Fortunately I haven't run out of comic pages yet (though I'm dangerously getting close to that point, yikes)

We have a deeper glimpse to the Dark Angels. People around me used to laugh at Sgt. Moustache, but hell if I care. My long-term plan included more sequences of him, particularly being promoted to the Deathwing Company due to his unquestioning loyalty, so the reader could know of the dark secrets this Chapter bears. It was meant to serve as a secondary narrative arc related to Cypher, so everything had a purpose in my mind.

What we can see for the moment is that the Dark Angels have some secrets of their own and they don't like to share; though remaining loyal to the Imperium, they certainly have their own agenda, and nobody, not even other fellow Space Marines, are to interfere.

Of course they don't give a shit about what's kept inside the mausoleum, they only care about Cypher. So apparently, if Cypher is moving (according to the Harlequin's proposal we saw last week), the green Marines begin to get nervous. They are able to depart away from this battlefield just as quick as they appeared in the first place. The hunt is on!

More stuff incoming! Previous stuff HERE :)

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Ballads of War 2x20-2x21

Here we go again, with our favourite man in a cloak...

It's only now, like ten years later, that I wonder why would anybody keep the hood on when inside a building. Specially such a dark hall. I guess I shouldn't follow that train of tought, or else I'll be wondering just afterwards why would anybody wear a creepy clown mask at all times...

Well, anyway, the important thing is that the Harlequin and Cypher are about to negotiate. The Great Harlequin's logic dictates that the Dark Angels are a nuisance as they are pursuing Cypher. If he left, the Marines would do so as well, so the Eldar could take over the mausoleum. But Cypher doesn't look quite prone to that course of action. Will he be able to convince the Fallen Angel that the sarcophagus will be safe with the Eldar? The key here is if the Harlequin, a warden of the knowledge of the mythical Black Library, has something to bargain with...

In the meanwhile, we can see another kind of diplomacy. Relationships between Space Marines Chapters are not always as smooth as it would be desirable for the profit of the Imperium. Interrogator Chaplain Asmodai doesn't look too happy of the news he's being updated with. 'What, you have you own men there inside?' 'What, there were civilians?' 'My secrets, my secrets!!' Man, you can see him sweating there inside that helmet, his teeth clenching.

More mysteries unveiled on next installment! All previous stuff, as usual, can be found HERE.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Playing 'Sector 6'

 Quick boardgame review today. Gaming weekends have been scarce lately, so I was more that eager to try this one. My pal got into this KS and we've just given it a chance:

What's it about? Within the walls of the Obliti space prison, the lack of resources has become critical. Inmates are forced by the internal mobs to compete along the maze corridors of the prison, so they can get as much oxygen as possible. The competitors have to run fast, collect oxygen from the designated points... and avoid getting stuck! The maze is deadly, as the configuration of the corridors is never the same, and the inmates change it every step they take...

So the game itself is really simple. Each player will have a team of two inmates. They'll have to collect oxygen from the different stations, moving along the maze. When all the oxygen is collected, the one who got most wins. That easy.

First thing is building the maze. Both players get the tiles from a deck and alternately set their tiles, just as they please.

Corridors and cogs. It's all about that. You begin setting tiles...
...until you have something like that
Each tile will have a station in which the runners can collect oxygen. Red ones have one oxygen dose, yellow have two doses, green ones have three and blue ones have four doses. So you get the tiles randomly, but as you build the whole structure, you decide where to place them, and in which position. As you can see in the pic above, being our first game, we favoured the corridors (well, it looked 'natural'), but the interesting way to play it is blocking them. Just for future reference. You'll see at once.

Each turn you will move your runners alternatively. They can make just one move, and it must be straight. No matter how many tiles you move, as long as you don't make any turn.

The black mini above moved one tile, the yellow moved three
You don't have to reach the end of a corridor, you can move at will. The thing is that runners will interact with the tile they just left, and only that one. Not the tile they end the turn in and not any of the tiles they passed through.

The other two minis moved one tile each, both towards blue stations
The way you can interact with the tile you left is by collecting the oxygen in it OR by making the tile turn. The tile will make 1 turn (left or right, your choice) and will eventually interact with the tiles around, if the cogs fit. It can only affect one adjacent tile, the closest to the sense of the turn. Turning this tile won't affect any other tiles adjacent to it, even if there are cogs that fit.

During first turns, you will usually go collect oxygen
Runners block line of sight, and you cannot interact with them in any way. So the game is all about blocking routes to the rival and moving your runners in the most efficient way.

Black players cut the way for that yellow one
As we had lots of open corridors, our game was mostly about running from here to there before the rival, it wasn't very tactical.

The station is getting depleted of oxygen
In fact, at one point we had more or less agreed a de facto partition of the board...

This is like chess, thinking your next moves, but in a space prison. And running low of oxygen
Breathtaking! Ha, you see what I did there? :P
Once you have collected all the oxygen on the board, the game is over and you just count the doses.

Ouch! I lost! My pal got three out of four blue tokens, which were decisive in his victory
The difference wasn't really big, just three or four points. I think it was so because we focused on getting oxygen each turn instead of taking advantage of the maze and its possibilities. Being just two players may have helped to that too; the game is designed up to 4 players (I think there was a KS SG with an upgrade up to 6 players). I have the impression that the more players, the more tactical it may become and the differences in the scores must be more significant.

The game took us no more than 20 min, so we had another round!
So my thoughts on Sector 6: it's a fun, quick game. A perfect filler to be played anytime, ideal for non-usual gamers. It may require some space vision if you want to block the way to you opponents and it takes the puzzle games category to another level.
The only thing I think I'd like to try differently is turning the tiles and how it affects other tiles. I mean, when you turn Tile#1 it only affects Tile#2. I'd like to see how the game changes if Tile#2 interacts with Tiles#3 and #4 or whatever, so one single tile turn can change the whole board. It may be a little fuzz, but given that the regular game takes just 15-20 minutes, it may be worth a try.

Of course, you must have noticed we played with unpainted minis. Don't worry, I've taken proper action to avoid that will happen ever again in the future.

Roughly 20mm scale
I have to say we used Sector 6 as a warm-up for a gaming evening...
We also played Pandemic, but that will have to wait for another day...

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Not so happy citizens (Pt. 2)

Rough row of days, but I'm painting the civvies as fast as I can. Let me show you what I have so far, almost half of the whole group.

You'll see, I'm favouring quick results over high resolution details. I just pretend to have a decent sized mob. I've used some really flashy colours (the Warhammer effect, you know), but as I was taking pics I realised I need a richer palette. Will take that into consideration for the next batch.
I also have a couple of signs, I wanted them to be on the cheesy side, no resemblance of any current political movement whatsoever. They of course are in Latin Gothic, as you could legitimately expect.

So let's see what we have!

Protester from the Red Era
Hipster protester. He rioted before it was cool
Round 1, fight!
No conversion, he was originally this angry
The adaptation of 'panem et circenses' (bread & circus) to the grimdark millenium
No, you're not supposed to drink that
Yup, he's going to the demonstration with his mug. No fucks were given that day
This one looks upset though
The Moebius connection
If you ever studied Latin at school you'll get it
You shouldn't have pissed off a man with a fez
Come'ere, I'll talk you about this magic wand
Kind of Dragon Ball uniform, now that I think of it...
May I validate your ticket for this revolution?
This is as far as I've got for the moment. I have all the rest primed, so I hope I'll be throwing some paint at them anytime soon. I'm on it!