Thursday, February 25, 2016

Saving Brother Herbert - A Saga AAR

Poor Brother Herbert!
The final action of the day last Saturday featured a good old knock down game of Saga, one of our favorites. As is usual, Jon played his Vikings, while I took the Saxons. But for the first time, we went with six points instead of four, and that really did open some things up for the Saxons as they set out to send as many Vikings to Valhalla as possible!

The Saxon lord and the fyrd are on the way!
In Saga, Saxons benefit from larger units. Size matters, if you will. Bigger is better, etc. So I went with two 12-man warrior units, a single 8-man hearthguard unit (which was a tank), and 12 levy. I hoped to use Saxon abilities to treat the levy like warriors, but I made the mistake of moving them too far forward early, and didn't roll the needed dice in any case. So they were mostly ineffectual, but the other units did well indeed!

The Danes do not look afraid.
We usually forego the scenarios in the book and just make something up on the fly, and so we did that again. In today's installment, a Viking raiding party had just plundered a monastery, but while the gold and other treasure was in low supply, they did capture a monk who may or may not know where the gold is hidden. Poor Brother Herbert! The local Saxon lord, upon hearing of the holy man's plight, immediately assembled the fyrd and set out to rescue him.

I like this shot.
The Vikings, being the braver sort, responded to the challenge and advanced as well. While cutting down the Saxon levy on the right (my left), the middle bogged down in a melee of warriors. Eventually my warlord, joined by the hearthguard, got around the right, to the Viking warlord, and dispatched him post haste.

Definitely another great game! After a slow start, I rolled quite well, while Jon did not. He wasn't able to pull any of those dastardly Viking tricks on me that he usually does. All those "Loki says everyone over here dies" and crap. Plus my larger units were tougher nuts to crack. 

We're already thinking about an eight point game!And, of course, painting all those languishing Normans, putting the finishing touches on the Irish/Scots/Norse Gael force. Oh, and starting Kievan Rus Era of the Princes...

God's blessings will surely be upon the Saxon lord.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

What If.... Han Didn't Even Make It to Episode VII?

We all have one of those moments. The one where despite the odds, the little fellas on the table top do the inexplicable, based on the whims of the dice.

In our circle, the classic example is the time my friend Ben's elite Hessian grenadiers ran screaming in terror from my rag tag American militia. (OK, Ben, roll anything BUT a 99 or 100...) Or the time my Scots Highlanders fled at the sight of some French in the Peninsula before even firing a shot.

Saturday, it was Jon's turn. He lost the Millennium Falcon. (Insert face palm here.)

Following our WW2 coastal game, he taught me how to play Star Wars X-Wing. I'd been wanting to try it out for a while, and I have to say, it's a blast! In the first game, he gave me an X-Wing and a B-Wing up against two TIEs and an TIE interceptor. Call it beginner's luck, but I blasted all three in no time.

So we decided to set up a "historical" scenario. He put Chewbacca in the pilot's seat of the Falcon, with Han and Luke at the guns as they tried to spirit Princess Leia away from the Death Star a la Episode IV. I took the TIEs, and let's just say the rebel base on Yavin's moon is secure since the Empire was unable to use the tracking device placed aboard the Falcon. And Vader never meets his son or daughter. Jabba never gets paid. Kylo Ren never gets born. You get the idea.

"I'm taking an awfully big risk with this, Vader."
He lost the Falcon!!! My dice rolls were uncommonly good in this one, and with only one defense die, he took hits almost every turn. Poor Chewie just couldn't get them out of the way!

So at 2-0, we set up game three, and his X-Wing and B-Wing took care of my TIEs in an asteroid field without much difficulty, saving some pride.

Overall, loved the game. It has a very elegant plot and move system, and the attack and defense mechanism is simple once you figure out what the symbols mean. We didn't go for any upgrades or anything, but I will. Since I will be getting this game. My kids and I are hooked on the Rebels series, so we'll for sure want the Ghost and Inquisitor's TIE fighter.

And did I mention the minis are gorgeous? Verrrry impressive detail with exceptional paint jobs. Good stuff!

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion of February game day coming soon...

Monday, February 22, 2016

Greetings from the South Pacific!

OK, no, I haven't run away and landed on some tropical paradise. Though wouldn't that be nice? In fact, the reasons for my absence have more to do with a busy life than anything. Oh, the stories I could tell about the past six months - cross country, figure skating, speed skating, visiting Ukrainians. All of which has left little time for painting/gaming. I even missed the only two cons that I usually manage to get to!
Hunters on the prowl.

But, this weekend saw a semi-quiet window, and Big Jon graciously traveled to partake in a game day at my house. And what a day! We got three different types in, all of which were great and went very well. We started with some coastal action in the South Pacific. That's today's story - watch this space for pics of the rest of the day's action!
Japanese barges hugging the coast, keeping a wary eye open.

All of the minis are from PT Dockyard, and were a joy to put together and paint. I have more, but we decided to try a simple scenario to learn the mechanics of the Flaklighter rules, also available from PT Dockyard. I was a little apprehensive, because of all the charts and different pieces of data to keep track of, but in the end the game went remarkably smoothly and didn't take long to pick up the basics at all. (Though to be fair, we ignored all of the nice details like darkness, spotting, etc.)

Jon took a force of six Daihatsu barges escorted by one armed barge, with the goal of getting them off the opposite table edge to deliver much needed supplies to the emperor's brave troops on Guadalcanal. Spotting them were three 80' Elco PT boats, who quickly closed in.

PT boats rapidly close in.
We both feared the worst for the barges. But as it turned out, we were both taught a lesson that must have been hard learned by the Americans in 1942 - don't bring a knife to a gunfight. The PT boats' .50 cal and 20mm proved extremely ineffective against the barges. (Though we did realize at the end we had forgotten to apply a -1 modifier due to the barges' slow speed. Oops - that might have helped!)

And conversely, the Japanese had a bigger punch than expected!

Close combat proved brutal.
While I closed range to open fire on the barges, Jon moved the armed barge out of the column to protect the six other barges. Good move on his part, as he started punishing the PT boats. He knocked a lot of my weapons off, then started a fire on one of the boats, which quickly spread to two fires before I could put it out. Another boat took flooding damage, which slowed things down. Finally, after inflicting only two hull points of damage on the lead barge, and licking my wounds, I decided discretion was the better part of valor and called it off.
Fire! Not good on a boat made of wood and loaded with gasoline...

Lessons learned: Bring the later, more heavily armed PT boats when dealing with barges. These might be fine against larger ships where they can launch torpedoes, but they were almost useless against the tougher-than-expected barges. Or bring the LCI(G)s out, which are slower, but more heavily armed. On the Japanese side, we thought some shore-based batteries would be helpful. And now we want destroyers and aircraft. It never ends!