Monday, January 22, 2007

War. *HUH*. What Is It Good For?

Apart from a filler game of Clans on Saturday, the last few days have really been about war games. On Saturday we did a five-player session of A Game of Thrones, Fantasy Flight’s medieval war game with color from George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series of fantasy novels. I’ve never read the books, but the game certainly stands on its own. It’s a lighter war game, with distinct Euro elements, like the periodic auctions to determine turn order, tie-breaking, and special powers. I particularly like the hidden order placement mechanic. The scary thing is that it feels to me like a streamlined version of Dune (my current favorite game), albeit without some of the diplomatic strategy. With players who don’t dally it moves right along, fitting nicely into the two to three hour space.

On Sunday I went over to Ted’s for our first monthly “long games” day. Our intention is to set aside time for those games that don’t make it to the table very often because of their length. This primarily means war games, but certainly heavier Euros like Die Macher (a copy of which Gwen just picked up) qualify too. As it was the just the two of us this time, we opted for Rommel in the Desert, which I had picked up for cheap at BGG.con but had never played. This is very much a game about mobility and supply, which makes sense, given the subject. It also has a fair degree of uncertainty to it, as you don’t know exactly what units your opponent has (due to the fog of war created by units being represented by blocks), you don’t know how long your opponent is going to be able to keep doing stuff (due to the presence of dummy supply cards), and you don’t know what resources you’re going to get next turn (due to variable buildup points and the possibility of early reinforcements). We played three games: the introductory 1940 scenario and two runs at the 1941 scenario. The first of these latter two ended prematurely due to a daring run into the Axis base, and the second was called on account of a fairly inevitable Allied victory. Playing it revealed a few non-obvious features of the game, and I’m glad I own it. It really does need to get played more often.

On Monday we finished up the mobilization scenario of Paths of Glory that one of my co-workers and I had been playing at work. We were able to leave the map set up, so we’d been playing a turn each day at lunch. He’d never it played before, and I hadn’t played the Central Powers yet, so it was a learning experience for both of us. Next week we’re going to start a full game of it, which ought to be fun.


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