Friday, July 15, 2011

Washington's Army

Here is a great video about Martin Goddard (upcoming Miniatures Gaming guest at Guns of August 2011)

I picked up a copy of these rules at the recent Historicon 2011. I can't wait to play them, probably in a few months (still trying to finish school).

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Interview with Stephen V. Cole (Starfleet Battles, Task Force Games, Amarillo Design Bureau)

The Rural Gamer has a great interview of Steve Cole - the original designer of Starfleet Battles back in 1979. I never played the pocket game version of it, but I did play the first boxed version that got released a year later. I would continue to play that game all through the rest of high school and college. What a great game.
The cover art of the pocket game version, shown here, and the art of the first box and some of the first expansion packs was all done by Alvin Belflower (he would sign Belflowerdidit). I love his look of the energy weapons "splashing" when they hit a target ship's hull.
This is a picture of the contents of the first version I owned (the Designer's Edition) also released in 1979, although I did not get a copy until 1980. My copy also came with two heavy duty plastic document holders and two grease pencils for marking damage on the SSDs. I had a HUGE amount of fun playing that game.

Cool news - Mongoose is going to do a classic Trek treatment with their starship combat rules, and they are also going to do a Traveller RPG treatment of classic Trek. Groovy.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Anticipation . . .

If the silly boys from Warhammer Historicals would have had this available at Historicon, I bet it would have sold several hundred copies.


http://warhammer-historical.com/acatalog/Waterloo.html

Some gamer pornography is available here -
http://warhammer-historical.com/Aspreads/waterloospread.html


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Carthage at Historicon

I got to play two scenarios of one of my favorite games (C&C: Ancients) at Historicon 2011 in Valley Forge, with one of my best friends, Chris.


We played, first, the battle of The Crimissos River (341 BC) between Hasdrubal of Carthage (me) and Timoleon of Syracuse (Chris). Here is the intro from the scenario:
The Carthaginians learned from earlier defeats in Sicily that they had to field reliable, trained heavy infantry of their own. They formed the Sacred Band, a force of about 2,500 excellently trained Carthaginians, as good or better than the best the Greeks or Syracusans could field. They formed a part of a large army under Hasdrubal, advancing eastward to subjugate Sicily. Opposing him with a much smaller army was the able tactician Timoleon. Ever aggressive, Timoleon anxiously awaited an opportunity to strike the Carthaginians a hard blow on his terms. He got that chance when, on a foggy morning, Hasdrubal carelessly ordered his army to cross the Crimissos River without bothering to send out scouts (who would have reported that Timoleon’s army was arrayed on the bluffs just beyond the river). Waiting until about half of the Carthaginian army had crossed, Timoleon unleashed his excellent heavy infantry phalanx against the surprised Carthaginians. Most who survived fled, but the Sacred Band stood their ground and were annihilated by superior numbers, (aided by a sudden rainstorm that slowed Carthaginian reinforcements crossing the river). Seeing the disaster unfolding across the river, the remainder of Hasdrubal’s army broke and fled. The loss of so many citizen soldiers had a horrific effect on Carthage. The Sacred Band was reformed, but only once was it ever dispatched from Africa again, and then only for a very short campaign.

Chris totally dominated my Carthaginians in this scenario, and he ended up winning 5-1 - a smashing defeat! The Carthaginian Sacred Band was his first target (they were playing "Houses of the Holy" and he doesn't like Zeppelin). His Syracusan Heavy Infantry totally outclassed my African Citizens.

We went on to play a second game, after some tasty treats from the Flying Dog brewery (I had the Doggy Style Classic Pale Ale, which is pretty low carb for my diet, and also the Snake Dog India Pale Ale - also low carb).

The second outing for us was the battle of Bagradas (253 BC). I got to play General Regulus and his Roman army, fighting in North Africa in this battle from the end of the First Punic War. Chris played the army of Xanthippus, a mercenary Greek general for the Carthaginians. Here is the text on the scenario from GMT:
The Romans are on the verge of defeating Carthage and ending the First Punic War. Regulus and a veteran Roman army have landed in Africa, and though woefully short of cavalry, have defeated several Carthaginian forces. Desperate, the Carthaginians turned to an otherwise unemployed Greek general, Xanthippus. While not on a par with Alexander the Great, Xanthippus at least knew how to train and command an army, and that was enough. The Carthaginian army marched into the Bagradas Valley, and Regulus, confident of yet another victory, offered battle. It was to prove a costly mistake for him. The Carthaginian cavalry and elephants routed the Roman cavalry, and then turned on the flanks and rear of the Roman army, now fully engaged with the Carthaginian infantry. The Roman army disintegrated. Those who survived told of the horror of being overrun by elephants and cavalry. This Carthaginian victory prolonged the war. It took several years before any Roman army would stand and fight against elephants. The larger lesson— proper employment of a combined arms army over a largely infantry army resulting in victory—was lost on the Romans. They had to re-learn it at the Trebbia, Lake Trasimenus and Cannae.

This one was much closer in the end. At the beginning, however, Chris was totally dominating my Roman army. The score after the first few exchanges was something like 5-1 in favor of the African force under Xanthippus, but then my Romans rallied, and it became 6-6. Finally, I got lucky, and it ended up at 7-7.

The Carthaginian Elephants were quite fun to play in this scenario, and when they rampaged (which they did several times) they were a danger to both sides.

I could have lost 6 battles in a row, and I still would have loved my time playing. A great evening.

Pet Peeve: people who walk up and see the game and say "oh, what a silly game, it looks like Stratego". Don't these people know this game came from Miniatures play, and was only later converted to a board game? Whatever.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Frontline General: Spearpoint 1943

Rather than me talking about Byron's excellent Spearpoint 1943 card game, I thought I would just link to some of the excellent video reviews that are out there.

The first is from Marcowargamer - Marco has some great videos about games, and this one doesn't disappoint.

Next up we hear from Lance with Getting Board - another good review.



Finally, although this should have (perhaps) been first, we have an Unboxing from Chance of Gaming Podcast

The Chief Bottle Scrubber here at Gaming with Chuck HQ thinks that Spearpoint 1943 is a great game.  There is strategy, metagame considerations, tactical decisions, cards and dice - all coming together in a nice little simulation of a 1943 meeting engagement between a few German and American forces in Europe.  What's not to like? Now if I can only talk Byron into doing an Eastern Front edition . . . T-34s and Russian Combat Dogs!
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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Those Whacky Supplements

No, gentle readers, the Staff at "Gaming with Chuck" did not begin selling vitamins or other Dietary Additives. What I am talking about in this article are Add-Ons to games - expansions, kits, supplements - whatever you like. In particular, I am going to give a quick review of three that really stretch the theme of the original game that they were added on to. But, at least for some, that doesn't mean they are a bad add-on!

First up - the new (and very welcome) supplement of Alvin and Dexter for Ticket to Ride.
What do you get? Well, in the small box, you get two great figurines (for Alvin the Alien, and Dexter the Dinosaur), and a small deck of 42 cards. You also get a small rules brochure, with the rules printed in a handful of languages.

What does it do? After the initial set-up of a Ticket to Ride game (any board, apparently, works for this supplement), the last player then places one of the new Monster figurines on a city on the board. Then the next-to-last player places the other Monster figurine on another city. There are two decks of 20 Monster cards (one for each figurine), and two Monster Bonus cards for the end of the game - these all get placed near the board. Then play commences as usual. During the game, you may (in addition to your normal turn) play a locomotive card to move a monster figurine up to 3 cities, following network lines. You may play two cards to move the figurine up to 6 cities. You may only move the same monster twice with two cards, not each monster once. When you do this extra action (either one or two cards) you select one of the Monster Cards of the type you moved (either Alvin or Dexter) and place it in front of you until your next turn. While there is a monster card in front of someone, that monster may not be activated by someone else. Once your turn comes around again, you turn the card face down, but you keep it. While a monster is in a city, nobody can claim (build) routes into or out of that city. At end of the game, the player with the most Monster Cards of each critter gets the monster bonus for that critter. Tickets, at the end of the game, with a Monster on one of their cities, are only worth half. Uncompleted tickets with a monster on one of their cities, only cost half(!) as much.
Opinion Yes, Great!

Second up - the recent (2010) Agricola Legen*Dairy Forest Deck, which is a follow-up to the X-Deck.
What do you get?You get a small box with 24 cards in it, and a small rules folder.

What does it do? More cards for Agricola. This includes the Event deck, first from the X-Deck supplement. The cards here are all from a light hearted fantasy/fairy-tale motif. Quite a few have some Monty Python and the Holy Grail DNA injected into them (which is a good thing.
Opinion Yes, Great!

Third Up - the 2008 Carcassonne: The Catapult add-on for Carcassonne.
What do you get?You get a wooden catapult for launching(!) round cardboard tokens. You get a bunch of cardboard tokens that are to be launched with the catapult, and you get a handful of new tiles all with the "Faire" symbol on them.


What does it do?Whenever you pull and play a tile with a Faire symbol on it, that starts a Catapult round. The player who just played the Faire symbol gets to shoot a token from the edge of the board towards the middle of the layout of tiles. Depending on the token chosen (each player starts with one of each type), several actions are possible: Knock out tokens try to remove meeples; Seduction tokens try to swap meeples; Target tokens try to hit the faire tile; Catch tokens must be caught for points.
Opinion Nope, give it a miss!

Okay, so why did the "Gaming with Chuck" staff like the first two add-ons and not the third one? I think the reason is simple - framework. The first two listed are within the framework of the game they add on to - in the case of Alvin and Dexter, you are still just drawing and playing cards. Now you get to move an alien piece, but its effects mesh into the structure very well. In the second case there are just more cards to choose from - whether they are events (introduced in X-Deck), or new occupations or minor improvements. Each, in some way, adds to the Agricola experience by introducing new rules and/or actions - but each is essentially a basic Agricola component. In the third case, you are taking the basic structure of the game (decision-based tile placement and scoring) and adding in a wonky dexterity based shoot-it-up mechanic that is very different from the framework of the game. The faire tiles work within the framework, but the actual catapulting does not (again, according to the opinions of management, workers, and elves at Gaming with Chuck).

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Steam - An excellent session at Williamsburg Muster

Williamsburg Muster (our next convention will be Guns of August, Aug 12-14) was last weekend, in Williamsburg, Virginia.  It was an excellent time!  We had over 200 gamers come to the convention, in addition to the 70 staff and vendor bodies that were there (but hey - we all get to play at the Muster)!

One of the things I got to do (more later some of the other stuff I was part of) was play a great game of Steam on Friday night with some old friends and some new friends.  Steam is a relatively new re-implementation of Age of Steam, from the genius of Martin Wallace.  Great game, with turns (in the basic game) consisting of (1) choosing roles (which grant special privileges through the turn; (2) building tracks and city improvements; (3) moving cargoes; and (4) adjusting income.  In the advance game, rather than choose roles, they are auctioned off.  It adds a good deal more strategy, but with the addition of an auction and also a money sink.

Around the table were Jeremy C (Black), Bob W (Natural), Byron C (White), Jake DT (Green) and myself (Orange).  We played (since I only had the base set, and we had 5 players) the Germany map.
{Not actually our game}
The game was great.  The thing I love about Steam (other than role selection, building, and TRAINS!!!) is that there are several paths to victory.  We played the basic version, which allows for money borrowing at any time, and also allows for role selection in order (vs. bidding for it each turn, which makes the game economy harder by creating a resource sink, but I digress into game theory).
{Actually our game}

Anyway, at the end of the game, the four of us other than Jake were pretty closely grouped together.  Jake, on the other hand, had over 10 points more than any of us.  Fun, but disgruntling.  I definitely want to play more!

When I got Steam, I was definitely interested in a tile based train game.  The other options open to me would be to find a used copy of Railroad Tycoon, a copy of Age of Steam, Railways of the World or some other tile based railroad game (less popular than those).  Age of Steam has a zillion supplements available for it, many of which seem to be compatible with Steam.  But between those two Steam wins, because it is (1) more casual gamer friendly, and (2) has more attractive components.  Railroad Tycoon is based on one of my favorite computer game franchises, is ALSO a Martin Wallace design (albeit with development by Glenn Drover of Eagle Games), and has AWESOME plastic bits for the towns.  However . . . the board is HUGE (3 feet by almost 4 feet), and won't fit on most tables.  It has been replaced by Railways of the World - which was the serious contender against Steam.  In the end, I think I chose Steam because of all the Age of Steam variants that could be accessed.  However, there are already several nice new boards, etc out for Railways of the world. From talking with some TAGS guys (Jake, who played, and David) it appears as if there are enough differences to possibly warrant also getting Railways of the World, one day when I'm rich and famous.
The Good Fellows playing at Williamsburg Muster

Monday, January 17, 2011

Excellent Gaming Weekend at MarsCon

I had a great time at MarsCon this year. I usually get to play some boardgames and such, but this time I kept to running some old school Fantasy RPG (old version of D&D were the rules, the setting was one of my own invention). To see the info on the game, visit my RPG blog, Valley of the Old Ones.

The recap of the two sessions at MarsCon has been covered here.

It was a fun time, although the players were left asking the age old question of "Who locks a hooked horror in the bathroom?"


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Gaming Gifts bring new opportunities to the GWC Staff

The season of Christmas brought a lot of blessings to the staff at Gaming with Chuck (GWC) HQ. We got to spend a lot of time together, and it was all good time. That included playing some games, having friends over, and just quiet family time as well.

Along with all the good things that came from Christmas (good times, relaxation, reflection on the meaning of Christmas itself...) there also came a good number of neato presents and new games to the HQ collection! Here is a list, I hope I didn't forget anything.

Are there any requests for reviews for any of these?  I think I will try to do something for most of them over the upcoming months.  Playing these gems and treasures is the least I can do to say Thank You to the gift givers.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

A Recap of the Holidays at GwC Headquarters

The holidays at Gaming with Chuck HQ were very pleasant, in spite of several mishaps.

First the mishaps - on Christmas Eve, Anita proceeded to suffer from an accident that resulted in her having to be rushed off to the emergency center for 10 stitches in her left hand. Luckily, she rolls dice with her right hand. Then, of course, on Christmas Day and St. Stephen's Day we were dumped on by the largest blizzard in these parts since the mid 80s. We got over a foot of snow.

All of this meant, of course, that we had some great Gaming going on!

In the days leading up to Christmas, I ventured forth to meet up with my ODMS Brethren for some real wargaming. On the Monday before Christmas, I played some Cold War Commander with Scot (as detailed here). I also met up on a Thursday in the middle of Advent with Wayne and some other great fellows for boardgaming. There was lots of Commands&Colors:Ancients being played (as there should be.

On Christmas Eve we celebrated by having some friends over (once we realized that Anita's hand wasn't too bad off) for dinner and drinks, and of course board games! We played Citadels, Power Grid, and took a long hard look at Battles of Westeros (too many people, but it sure does look cool).

On subsequent days, Anita and I played some Settlers of Catan (with some variants from Traders and Barbarians), Stone Age (great fun) and also some Agricola (still one of my favorites).

Finally, on the Sixth day of Christmas, we traveled north to Fredericksburg, to spend New Year's Eve at our friends' (Carol and Bob) house. Of course, that meant more gaming. There was Bang, Cash & Guns, Ticket to Ride, Unspeakable Word, Thurn and Taxis and Apples to Apples. All that, plus time to travel into DC in order to spend most of Friday (New Years Eve) at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. That put me in the mood to play Stone Age...

Coming up is MarsCon in January, Williamsburg Muster and PrezCon in February, and that will be about it for me for gaming until after my PhD is finished. In the meantime, while getting ready for MarsCon, I have been fleshing out my fantasy roleplaying world when I have some spare time from school work. The fruits are over at Valley of the Old Ones.

I hope you have a great and blessed New Year, and that your holidays were wonderful as well!

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