Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Burrowing and badgering

Burrows & Badgers is a fun little skirmish game, and I'm enjoying using my friend John's figures to play. Over the course of our campaign, I acquired a new member of the warband, Linda Lou Shrew.
I got a lot of mileage with my spellcaster, Tommy Tu Toad, who served as the warband's second-in-command. He even learned a new spell!
My warband leader, Roger Rabbit, had trouble going against John's shrew knight mounted on a stag beetle (which uses the stats for a wildcat).
And after one game in which he was taken out of action, my poor toad failed his survival roll and ended up permanently dead! Luckily, I had enough treasure saved up to purchase a replacement: Tommy Tu Toad II.

Anyone else playing this game now?

Monday, April 29, 2019

The Fifth Frontier War begins

GNN News Alert: The Zhodani Consulate has invaded the Third Imperium. Fighting has broken out around worlds in the Jewell, Lanth, Regina, and Vilus subsectors in the Spinward Marches. Traveller News Service reports that Vargr and Sword Worlds forces have also violated Imperial territory.
My friend Joe has a copy of Fifth Frontier War, a massive wargame in the same background as the Traveller roleplaying setting. I'd acquired the rules to this game some time ago, but I had never seen the actual box in person. So when I asked if we could play it sometime, he agreed--because who doesn't want to play a complex board game with hundreds of counters and written orders? So we set aside seven hours one Saturday to play as many turns as we could. After about an hour of setting up, placing counters and writing orders for fleet movements, the game commenced with the Zhodani invasion, commanded by yours truly.
The first turn was successful for my Zhodani and their Vargr stooges allies. The Consulate's 35th Fleet captured the planet Frenzie, while Elasin fell to the 67th Fleet, Ruby succumbed to the 17th Colonial, and the two Vargr fleets secured the world Dentus. Things did not go as well for the Zhodani 16th Colonial and 68th Fleet, which met heavy resistance at Mongo and failed to take the planet. Likewise, the Joyeuse Fleet out of the Sword Worlds was repelled from its attempt to land on Vilus. They would need help from the ZC 35th Fleet to capture that planet.
It went like this for nine more turns, with fleets meeting and planets falling. My fleets slowly made progress into the Imperium, but Joe's forces held their own on many worlds. The Vargr's ground and space forces attempted to take Pixie from tenacious Imperial Marines, while mercenaries chased the aliens off Dentus. Most significantly, the Zhodani's 35th Fleet defeated the 18th Imperial Fleet at Frenzie, destroying two battle squadrons, two cruiser squadrons, and numerous transports--and killing the Duke of Regina, who was commanding the 18th. The Zhodani and their allies captured several more worlds, but Imperial system defense boats at Efate managed to hold off the 17th Colonial. Turn 10, our final round of the day, saw the Imperial 213th Fleet beat the Sword Worlds' Gram fleet, while the Zhodani 68th Fleet cleared out 90% of Allele's SDBs, allowing the 17th Army to make its way to the planet's surface, while the 17th Colonial kept up its bombardment of Efate. It was getting late at this point, so we decided to break until we have a chance to play some more.
Sure, the game is very complex and fiddly, with written orders, multiple combat odds tables, and lots of math--and the small hex and counter sizes don't help--but I love the sheer grandiosity of this game: clashing starfleets, planetary invasions, psionic troops, and grand strategy. It's the type of space opera I loved as a kid, and I'm having a blast as we play out this interstellar war. Luckily, Joe can leave the game out until we play again, so I'm looking forward to picking up where we left off.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

FnordCon day 2

The second day of FnordCon started off with heavy rains and flooding in the area, delaying my arrival. All the events I wanted to sign up for were filled, so I was just watching the nine-player Salvage scenario that took place on all four Ogre Designer's Edition maps.
I did get in a pickup game of Ogre, defending against a Mark III with six GEV escorts. Once I took them out, some lucky rolls allowed me to quickly wear down the Ogre before it could reach my command post.
I also got a chance to play The Awful Green Things From Outer Space, a fun little board game that came out in the early '80s.
The convention wasn't perfect--we couldn't register for events online, and the schedule didn't indicate how long anything lasted. But I had a good time and will probably go again if they have another.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

FnordCon day 1

Three weeks ago I attended FnordCon, the first-ever convention put on by Steve Jackson Games. That morning I ran a game of Triplanetary on one of the open play tables, attracting three other players and even luring Steve Jackson himself over to ask about the scenario.
We were playing Nova, where the Eastern and Western blocs try to stop aliens from orbiting the sun to detonate a nova bomb. Although the alien players were at first worried about the distance they had to cover, we all quickly learned that Newtonian mechanics made it hard to catch the invaders.
I was playing the Russians (red counters), and I even managed to destroy one of the four ships. However, in the end, two ships slipped past the Americans to blow up the sun.
We also got to check out Ogre--including this huge cardboard Ogre cutout (with the game-sized version for scale).
It was the basic Mark III attacking scenario--but on a new orange map. We got to playtest the game and give our feedback to the Ogre line editor. My opponent was my gaming buddy HoldFast, who attended Saturday with me.
My command post was toast, and when we switched sides to play again, I killed my opponent's CP. It was fun playing on the new map and providing our opinions.
I talked Holdfast into buying Melee and Wizard, and we got in a game of Melee before the end of the day.
It was a quick battle, but notable in that both our fighters ended up dropping their weapons on poor rolls, and after a halfhearted grappling attempt, grabbed the ones their opponent had left on the ground.
All in all, a fun day of gaming.