Sunday, 31 March 2019

Wings Over Sinai

After Thursday's game of X-Wing I realised that I hadn't really had my WW1 planes out for a while, so this afternoon I set up a game of 'Spandau and Lewis'. I played the 'Guilfoyle, Wackett and Turner' scenario I ran a few years ago, which depicts Australia's first ever air-combat on 11th November 1916. The Germans have two Fokker EIIIs, whilst the Australians have a Martinsyde G100 and a Be2c with an improvised gun-mount.

Here are the Australians. The win if they can shoot down at least one of the German aircraft before the end of the game.

The Germans. They win by exiting one of their planes off the Australian board edge, and also shooting down at least one Australian aircraft.

Both sides closed quickly. All of the aircraft have forward-firing guns, except the Be2c which can only fire to the sides and rear. The first pass saw a few bullet-holes in planes, but nothing serious.

However the first time the BE2c fires the Germans suffer a turn of surprise which affects their initiative - a BE2 that shoots back is an unexpected event. The Germans failed to turn back into the fight, whilst the Australians lined themselves up for a second shot.

Guilfoyle, in the Martinsyde raked an EIII, and it went down, streaming smoke and flames.

This was an immediate win for the AFC.

I set the game up again.

This time the Germans went for a different strategy, sending their novice pilot straight for the Australian board-edge, whilst hoping that the other plane could take out one of the Australians before the end.

A few shots were exchanged, which left the fighting EIII slightly damaged.

The Martinsyde sped after the EIII, hoping to get in a nice tail shot before it left the board, but it was too late.

The planes were all spread out now. The BE2 was avoiding contact with the Germans, whilst the Martinsyde turned back towards them. Meanwhile the German pilot was making heavy weather of getting back into the action.

As the clocked ticked down, the EIII pilot pulled off a sharp turn that saw him and the Martinsyde exchange long-range shots as they closed on each other.

The Martynside failed to turn inside the EIII, whilst the EIII came in hard and close on the Australian. A burst from its guns saw canvas ripped away from the Martinsyde's wings. But this was the last turn; the two sides broke off, and the game ended in a draw.

This is a tough one for the Germans (who may be Turks), who have to be aggressive but who can lose the game to a single lucky shot. Even if the Australians lose a plane, the Germans still have to get one of theirs off the table to complete the victory. On the plus side, their aircraft do have a slight edge in quality, although not by much.

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Games At The University

Last night Catherine and I went to a games evening organised by the Wollongong Information technology Society, which is one of the student groups at the University. Like most groups meeting are open to anyone, not just students, although I think we were the only 'ousiders' there (and were almost certainly the oldest ones there).

It appears that the society is relatively newly formed, and this was in fact pretty much their first meeting. As such it was very well attended. So many people, in fact, that I think I managed to remember one name all night.

The selection of games was limited - if they run it again I think we'll take some from our collection - but there were plenty of people. We ended up playing Mafia, which is better known through its commercial variant 'Werewolf'. We played a quick introductory round, before settling into a proper game. As the detective I was able to quickly determine who the 'Mafia' (Werewolves) probably were, but having singled out a couple of probably suspects I was eliminated when one of them picked up on a passing comment I'd made and used it to convince the table that I was a bad guy. Once I was eliminated the mafia ran riot and won the game.

Chess was surprisingly popular. I mean I know it is popular, but I've not really seen it played at a general board-games event before.

Most of us finished up the evening in teams, playing a web-based trivia game being run via a laptop and projector. Catherine and I came so close to winning, but were thwarted when our knowledge of Justin Bieber's tattoos let us down. Curse these younger gamers!

Although the society is planning other events, it sounds like the games night may happen again. We certainly had a great evening, appreciated the food and drink provided and felt very welcome.

(Pictures courtesy of the Wollongong Information Technology Society Facebook page.)

Friday, 29 March 2019


I played my first game of 'X-Wing' last night, courtesy of John and Damo, who provided ships, rules and the numerous components that the game seems to require.

We played two-a-side; Damo and I were the Rebels with an X-Wing (Damo) and a Y-Wing (Me) whilst John took two Tie-Fighters and Caesar took a Tie-Bomber. Damo's X-Wing and one of John's Tie-Fighter has character pilots with extra skills.

Here we are, ready to go!

My Y-Wing. It flies like a brick, but my gunner could shoot twice, once with the main guns to the front, and once with the ion-cannon turret.

We approached ...

... and the shooting started.

In terms of mechanisms, you can see where some of the basic ideas for Gaslands came from; ships use movement templates, with some of them putting stress on the ship and others allowing you to remove stress. The Action mechanism is quite interesting, with each ship having a menu of things it can do to select from, allowing it (for example) extra evasions, a better chance of hitting or (in my case) to rotate the turret. With only one action allowed there's always a tricky decision to be made.

Anyway, after the initial pass of ships (in which I took some damage), Damo and I got our ships into a nice lined-up shot on Caesar's Bomber. We didn't achieve much, though.

Meanwhile John's decent pilot was giving my ship a right hammering from behind. A fuel leak saw me in danger of exploding, so I had to dodge for a bit to avoid being finished off. I got in some shots with the ion-cannon in the turret, though, which kept the rookie Tie-Fighter out of the game for a couple of turns.

Damo chased after Caesar's Tie-Bomber. Caesar was desperately trying not fly off the table.

John brought his decent Tie-Fighter up in support, and soon Damo's X-Wing was in trouble.

Between us we finished off the Tie-Bomber.

And then I forgot to take any more pictures.

Basically my Y-Wing was the next to go, finished off by the rookie Tie-Fighter. The two Tie-Fighters then teamed up to finish off the X-Wing, so it was a win for the bad guys.

Although there's a lot of chrome and components to the game, the basic mechanisms are surprisingly simple once you get going. It's probably not a game I'd consider buying - it's quite a financial investment, and lacks the DIY aspect of Gaslands, for example - but it was fun to play.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

When Galleons Fight

I played another game of Galleys & Galleons last night, pitting two groups of galleons against each other. The English and Spanish each had one large galleon, two smaller ones and a brig. The English galleons were faster, with better-trained gun crews, whilst the slower Spaniards had soldiers and high castles so were better equipped for boarding.

Both squadrons ended up sailing towards an island, with the Spaniards slightly downwind of the English.

The English.

The Spanish.

A shift in the wind left the Spanish having to work slowly upwind towards the English, who now had an advantage since their long-range gunnery was better.

Unfortunately a couple of bad activation rolls left the English trying to avoid collisions rather than engage their foes.

However eventually they got their act together and opened fire, to no effect.

The two squadrons closed, guns blazing but inflicting no damage on each other.

The Spanish brig tried to pass too close to the island and ran afoul of the reefs.

The English kept up a steady fire as the Spanish closed, and both squadrons took damage. However the English shots were beginning to tell.

The damage didn't affect the Spanish admiral's nerve, though, as he ordered his ships to run aboard of the English where their higher gunwales and hordes of soldiers would tell. A small Spanish galleon attacked the English flag.

Meanwhile, though, the Spanish brig continued its run of bad luck, and sank from damage accumulated from passing through the shallows.

The Spanish flagship grappled an English galleon, as fierce melees broke out along the line.

The English flagship surrendered, even as one of its consorts came up in support. The other English galleon cut grapples and escaped.

The Spanish flagship brought its fearsome broadside into play, raking the escaping English ship and crippling it.

Another broadside saw the English ship sink.

Alone against three Spanish ships (the English brig having been forced too far upwind by weather changes) the final English galleon stood little chance. It held off a couple of attempts to board it, inflicting some casualties on the Spanish, but eventually its crew succumbed to the inevitable.

The English had an advantage in speed, but the island rather negated their ability to use it. The Spanish were somewhat trapped by the island, but closing with the English was always their best option. Really the English needed to inflict a few long-range hits before the Spanish closed, making their activation dice riskier to use. If I ran this again I'd drop the Razee trait from the English and improve their gunnery a little more, so they can try to batter the Spanish before the boarding actions.

It was an interesting game, though, as the larger number of ships on each side meant that you had to plan which vessels you were going to activate more carefully. Both sides had turns where, despite the beneficial effect of the flagship, they failed activations badly and ended up in disarray.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Gaslands: Refuelled

Great news! Gaslands is getting a second edition.

Gaslands: Refuelled is a slightly revised edition of the current rules, but will be sold as a hardback book including all of the material from the four Time Extended expansions, plus new material as well. The link above is to the designer's blog post about the project, and it certainly all looks very exciting.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Cutting Out

I had another go at the 'Galleys & Galleons' Cutting Out scenario last night, using a similar setup as before.

I made the harbour slightly bigger, and modified the ships slightly. I dropped Derring Do from all vessels; for HMS Possum I replaced it and Shallow Draft with Carronades and Pilot, whilst for the three small pirate junks I replaced it with a bow-chaser apiece.

This was the setup, with the pirates anchored safely in their harbour.

As before, they can't do anything until HMS Possum fires on them or initiates a boarding action. So the British warship steamed in right under their noses. Actually a fluffed activation at this point would have seen the captain pile his gunboat into the rocks.

HMS Possum moved into position and fired a devastating raking broadside at one of the pirate junks.

The pirates rushed to arms, raising anchor and maneuvering their junks into action, whilst the fort fired wildly.

HMS Possum fired another broadside at the pirate, crippling it, but raised steam, not wanting to get caught motionless by the now alerted pirates.

The pirates couldn't get into position to board, but did open fire, with no effect.

HMS Possum began to turn to starboard, hoping to run past the fort and take one of the larger merchant junks, then escape through the small channel behind the fort.

But it wasn't to be. One of the pirate junks had got the range, and a broadside holed the naval vessel.

A shot from the fort shattered HMS Possum's rudder, leaving the ship in danger of running aground. However a shot from the steamship's pivot-gun sank the crippled junk.

The captain changed course, but firing from the fort and the junk shattered HMS Possum, and it sank.

The final position. HMS Possum had sun an enemy ship for 2VP, but the pirates scored 6VP for destroying the steamship, and only lost one for their own sunk vessel, so won 5VP to 2VP.

I still don't know if it's really possible for the attacker to do this attack with gunfire alone. Maybe an attack by one or two vessels with mortars might be fun - anchor them away from the fort then bombard the pirates, scooting away when the pirates emerge to try and drive them off.. But I think the setup is designed for an attack by boats, or similar, and boarding actions.

Has anyone else tried the Cutting Out scenario? How did it go?

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