A long time gaming friend from way back blew into town this past weekend. A glorious, nonstop game session ensued and we ended up playing far more games than I would have at a typical con. Not having to get a hotel and having a fridge and sleeping space handy was really nice. I had to look after my kids some and there were some distractions, but on the net… it seemed to work out pretty well.
I wasn’t sure how gaming was going to go late Friday evening after such a hectic work week. I laid out Commands & Colors: Ancients even though it seemed a bit much for a “beer and more beer” game.
Game 1, The Battle Of Akragas (406 BC ) — With no terrain and no elephants, this turned out to be a pretty decent learning scenario. The fact that the scenario is imbalanced helps makes it more about enjoying the tempo and nuance of the battle. I think history repeated itself in this play, but it was a close thing for most of the game.
Game 2, Crimissos River (341 BC) — The first game was fast and fun enough that an immediate encore was in order. I think I was supposed to win this one by the numbers, but I got careless this time around thinking that my heavy infantry was invincible. My opponent got that last victory flag before I could…!
I got up before everyone else and reread the Commands & Colors rules. I found ten things we were doing wrong– mainly that light units were almost always going to be able to evade, that leaders help units that are next to them when they’re rolling dice, and that units that have two other units next to them ignore a retreat result. The game was already fun as a “big dumb battle game” like we were playing it– I was really keen to see how these rules bits affected play.
Game 3, Incan Gold — I love how this game scales; you can add more people with out increasing the play time required! My wife and kids joined in with this one and monsters seemed to eat someone every round. We got to the end and I was behind. So many artifacts came out that everyone else went back to get them. This left me with a chance to push my luck as much as I dared. I pulled thirty points worth of loot and (amazingly) picked up the last artifact in the deck. I went back just before the card that would have killed me would have turned up. My daughter cried and complained about me always winning.
Game 4, The Awful Green Things from Outer Space — This turned out to be just the thing for a quick, dumb game. I played the green things and my opponent’s crew cleaned us up pretty good. I think he ended up with a couple of good area effect weapons early on.
Game 5, Pandemic — My son joined in on this one and actually taught most of the rules. (It was a proud moment, to be sure!) We kept the board fairly tidy and only triggered one outbreak. We were a bit late getting some cures, though, and we somehow had ended up discarding too many yellow cards early on. As we pulled the last card from the draw pile, none of us were near having enough to try for that final cure. (My friend was the medic, my son was the ops expert, and I was the scientist.)
Game 6, Bagradas (253 BC) — This scenario is full of units…! It was such a pleasure to set this up. My opponent was supposed to take me out with an impressive combined arms approach, but it turned out to be harder to implement in practice. His cavalry was cutting me to pieces early on, but in the mid game he brought out his elephants to take on my light infantry pickets. This turned out to be disastrous and I narrowly edged ahead to win the game with a chintzy last ditched mop-up move.
Game 7, Axis & Allies 1914 — We blundered through about three turns of this and ended the game with Russia on the edge of collapse. My lines on the western front were pretty thin and I’m not sure how things would have turned out had things continued. Almost every rules change in this edition seemed to undercut the type of things that helped make the 1942 version such a fun game that gets played so dang much!
Game 8, Munchkin — It was really late, we surely played this wrong, but my friend had never seen this one and I think we had fun anyway. (Played an old copy with the first expansion and some supposedly hard-to-find Munchkin dice.)
Game 9, The Awful Green Things From Outer Space — We were totally gamed out at this point, but felt it our duty to try one more. This one came out again with my friend playing the green things. It actually went much the same way as the previous session as I quickly got hold of two good area effect weapons. I turned several monsters into piles of fragments so things were at least scary and frantic for a bit before the final cleanup.
As my friend packed up, he declared that he was going to be putting 1914 up for sale on Ebay and replace it with nice new copies of Pandemic and Awful Green Things. Space Empires: 4x and Revolution! went to his “want to play” list and we made plans for our next Commands & Colors game.
Bonus: I finally found a good home for my copy of Chez Guevara. It had remained in shrink warp all this time since Gamers of Winter 2009 when I’d gotten it as swag!