It’s all alchemy


This week’s session saw us run through three different games in the one night.

First up, Azriel, Roslynn, and Sheer came long for a couple of games of Dominion: Alchemy. ┬áRoslynn won the first, and I think I won the second. I think, but am not sure. Why am I not sure? Because it’s so unusual for me to win a game of Dominion. But I either won it, or dreamed I won it, or have some kind of false memory syndrome. Anyway, two games of Alchemy, and that was that for Azriel and Roslynn who called it a night then.

By that time, Peleg had eventually finished work and joined us. The three of us played one game of San Juan and one game of Splendor.

San Juan was more of a challenge, with Sheer winning (47 points), Peleg second (38 points) and me well back in third (31 points).

Spelndor, however, was a complete blowout. Peleg and I might as well not have been there. Sheer got to the finishing line with 18 or 19 points, and Peleg and I had only 2 or 3 points apiece. A Sheer masterclass. I am still not sure how he did it, but he definitely did it. Well done Sheer.

Thanks to all who came.


Games are good for you!

Especially as you get older. From Purple Pawn:

“According to a study by researchers with the Mayo Clinic, seniors who play games are less likely to experience mild cognitive impairment (MCI), an intermediate stage of dementia. Nearly 2,000 subjects, 70 years or older were followed for 4 years, interviewed about mentally stimulating activities, and evaluated for cognitive function. Those who played games at least once-a-week were 22 percent less likely to suffer from MCI.”

The moral of the story? Play a game this week!


The Power and the Adventure


To start with, Azriel and Sheer came along and we played a three handed game of Power Grid: The Card Game. As with the previous outing for this new purchase, the scores were tight. Sheer and I finished with the same score, just ahead of Azriel. Sheer won on the tiebreaker. Continue reading


Power to the gamers


This week, Susan and I hosted Azriel, David, Gillian, Roslynn, and Sheer.

Azriel, Sheer, and Susan started by playing Suburbia. Sheer knows this game very well – another where knowledge of the pieces and their interactions is a big help – but he was kind enough to offer Susan some meaningful help and assistance. So much so that Susan won! Azriel did OK so far as I could see, but had lost ground in the closing stages.

However, poor Azriel had his revenge in the next game they played: Dominion: Intrigue. I do not know what the make up of the Action Cards was, but I do know that Azriel won. That was a shock since, with all due respect to Azriel, Susan and Sheer are excellent Dominion players. So Azriel’s play must have been fantastic.

Meantime, we (David, Gillian, Roslynn and I) tried out Power Grid: The Card Game for the first time. This is a cut down version of the bigger game, where the action focuses on the acquisition of power plants and resources. You do not have to deal with placing your pieces on a board. The first time I was the winner, but it was oh so close with everyone else a mere one point behind me. We played it again, and this time Gillian won. The second game was even closer, as Gillian needed the tie break for the victory, though given her good play it was a well deserved triumph. I quite liked it, because it’s a perfect one hour game, with enough decision making to be more than a light filler. Roslynn wasn’t that keen on it, but the others seemed to enjoy it.

Thanks to all who came along.


Among the Dead

Close combat in the bitter fighting at Galatas

Close combat in the bitter fighting at Galatas

My last ASL game of 2016 was scenario J165, Among the Dead, played against Ran. It’s about an action in the May 1941 invasion of Crete, with a force of elite German infantry trying to take a position defended by a mix of New Zealand and Greek troops. I took the Germans, and Ran took the Allies.

Ran’s setup was mainly to the west, with less of a presence on the east. I looked at the terrain on the east and thought it would be too difficult to make speedy progress. So, I brought all my soldiers in on the west. That was probably the right decision, but I was too hesitant in the opening couple of turns – I should have been bolder – and was running well behind schedule.

On the third game turn, the Allies received some infantry and tank reinforcements. I had, on call, two Stukas available as air support. But I had to specify in advance when they would arrive. I chose to wait till later turns, and Ran saw that as a mistake as the tanks are at their most vulnerable when moving on to the board. My aircraft duly arrived, and with Ran having hidden his tanks in cover, the Stukas bombed the hell out of some infantry. That went quite well.

In addition, my sole anti-tank rifle performed heroically, and knocked out both Allied tanks, brewing them up and starting a late flurry of burning terrain. Suddenly, things were not looking so bad, and there was even the prospect of victory.

However, I had badly handled my other support weapons – a couple of mortars and a medium machine gun – and that meant I had not exerted enough pressure on the defenders. They were able to pull together enough of a defensive line to deny me the chance of victory.

I was pleased that I had taken things to the last turn of the game, and – of course – could once again console myself with having learned some more lessons about how to play this amazing game.



We’re going to build a railroad!


I have always admired the 18XX games from afar, but when GMT announced they were producing one – designed by Tom Lehmann – , I knew it was a sign. I picked my copy of 1846 up from a USA dealer as part of a bulk order filling in some gaps in my Lord of the Rings LCG, and it duly arrived a couple of weeks ago. It’s taken this long for me to get it out of the wrapper, check the contents, and have a first look of the rulebook.

The physical components look to be fine, with a dandy mounted game board. The rules however left me with something of a sore head. It appeared to me that the rules assumed players were familiar with 18XX games, and a lot – or some – prior knowledge was expected. In fairness, after spending some more time on a closer read of the rules, I am reasonably satisfied all the information is there, just well hidden. And the example of play was a life saver.

Since the playing time is on the very wrong side of 3 hours, I doubt this will surface at my regular (euro) gaming session, but I am determined to assemble a crew of volunteers to try it out.




On the table is Operation Dauntless, Mark Mokszycki‘s game about the June 1944 Normandy battles for Fontenay and Rauray, published by GMT Games. The first game of Mark’s that I played was the excellent Red Winter, and this looks to be even better.

The box is overflowing with gaming goodness: the physical production standards are the usual top notch, though there are one or two minor pieces of errata. Apart from the expected map, counters, rule book, and play aids, there’s a chunky Scenario Book (complete with programmed instruction starter scenarios to teach the system) and a very impressive Reference Book with commentary, supporting notes, and a ton of historical detail. Finally there is a Play Book with many examples of play, material about how to link the scenarios into a campaign game, tips, and other bits and pieces.

The system is somewhat more complicated than Red Winter, the key differences being additional rules to cover defensive fire and anti-tank combat. The latter has a unique action and reaction cycle which took me some time to become comfortable with. However, there is a play aid with a flowchart that handles this subsystem better than the dry body of the rules.

I have played through most of the programmed instruction scenarios, and setup and walked through the first couple of turns of the first actual (historic) scenario. The game has lots of rich tactical detail which makes it play a bit slower than Red Winter. Whether this is worthwhile is a matter of taste. I enjoy the immersive experience, so for me it’s a positive feature. It may have taken a while to get to the table, but the timing is fortuitous, given I have a wee bit extra free time to devote to this beauty.


The infamy of alchemy


This week, I was joined by Azriel, Peleg, and Sheer, and we started off with a couple of games of Alchemy, one of the Dominion expansions sets that none of us had played before. We used two recommended deck setups with the basic Dominion cards.

In the first game (without Peleg, as he arrived late), it was a tussle between Azriel and Sheer, with me trying to keep out of the way (unsuccessfully). Azriel was gifting Sheer and me tons of Curse cards. Meantime Sheer used the Possession┬ácard to steal the benefit of several turns of mine for his own use. It was no surprise that this nasty, nasty card was responsible for him edging out Azriel. Even Sheer didn’t like the card. Well done Sheer!

We had better luck with the second set, with Peleg now joining in. The scores were much more even, though Azriel’s combination had done enough to get him the win. Well played Azriel!

The cry went out for a short game to finish, so we played Take It Easy! Azriel hadn’t played before, but quickly picked it up to get a decent score. Sheer doesn’t do well at this game for some strange reason, and he played true to form. Peleg did well, but lost out to me. Sorry Peleg. It was close.

Thanks to the three guys for another great games night.