Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Showing posts with label Command and Colors Napoleonics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Command and Colors Napoleonics. Show all posts

Friday, February 24, 2012

PrezCon 2012 - first day

I arrived at PrezCon first thing Thursday morning to demonstrate Trains Planes and Automobiles (artist Sean Cooke, publisher Blue Square Boardgames) at 9:00 a.m.  I shared the Promenade Ballroom with the Stone Age demonstration, but perhaps the hour was too early, because no one showed for either demo.  I have two more demos scheduled this weekend - one for this afternoon, and one for tomorrow morning, so I hope to get a little more visibility for TPA in the next couple of days.

Risk
Randy Dean found himself running the Risk tournament, and he hadn't even brought his copy of the game (nor had I brought my son's), so he ran out to Target and picked up a copy of the current edition before yesterday morning's first heat started.  I had assumed, since only two hours had been scheduled for the event, that we would play the new, objective-based rules.  As it turned out, neither Randy nor any of the other players at the table had ever seen the new edition before.  They were all surprised at the arrow-shaped armies and had no interest in playing anything other than conventional Risk.  So we adapted the new-edition components to the original rules.  Since the new-edition cards don't have the 19th-century infantry-cavalry-artillery symbols for reinforcement turn-ins, Randy established the rule for this tournament that four cards yields armies on the original progressive scale of four armies for the first turn-in, six for the second, then eight, ten, 12, 15, 20, and so on by fives thereafter.

The result was an old-style game in which I started with positions in South America,  North America, and northeast Asia.  Randy got knocked out of the game by Joshua S., who took Randy's cards and ended up getting two consecutive turn-ins for armies.  In retrospect, I was in a position to try to knock off the other player at the table (whose name escapes me) to go after his cards and then face off Joshua in a super-power slugfest.  Instead, I tried to knock down Joshua first, which I didn't yet have the strength to do.  At the height of my position on the board, I controlled Europe, North America, and South America, while Joshua was holed up in Africa and the other player in Australia with a stronghold in southeast Asia.  But I couldn't deliver the knock out, and Joshua was able to get another big turn-in, break out of Africa, and take me out of the game.  At that point, the other player conceded the game, and Joshua won the heat.

Our game did in fact exceed two hours, so I was unable to make the first heat of Down in Flames.  I expect to play that later this morning.

Although the session was fun in its own right, I stand by my often-repeated position that the newer edition of Risk is a much better game.  I don't expect to return to any later heats of the tournament here at PrezCon.

Command and Colors Napoleonics
I attended a demo of Command and Colors Napoleonics in my effort to learn at least one new game and to play at least one wargame this year.  C&CN appears to be a more complex iteration on the series of Richard Borg card-driven wargames.  It includes the attached-leaders element of Battle Cry (as you might expect in a 19th-century wargame) as well as some of the command card innovations and unit-type specialties of Memoir '44.  The handling of infantry vs. cavalry seems particularly interesting, as well as the counter-strike element of close combat.

Unfortunately, my schedule did not allow me to participate in the tournament itself.  It may have been just as well.  Again, the game master was thrown into the event at practically the last minute, so he made the decision that the tournament would be handled as a single-elimination event.  My limited experience in competitive play suggests that a single-elimination format is not well suited for a two-player game, but I didn't stick around to find out how well it went.

A Few Acres of Snow
At the adjacent table to the C&CN event, my friend Keith F. was trying his hand at the hot new game A Few Acres of Snow.  What was disappointing to him, though, is that the game master, Bruce Reiff, told participants that AFAoS is "a broken game," that the British player can not be stopped if he uses a strategy called "The Halifax Hammer," and that even three or four recent game modifications to mitigate the problem do not fix the game.  Although Bruce felt that the game was not well suited for competition, he continued to run the event "for fun" and to teach it to newcomers like Keith to familiarize them with it.  Keith ended up playing as the British against a very experienced player; I think his experiences with it were mixed.  He said the comparison many people make to Dominion holds up as deck-building wargame.  For my part, the bottom line of this event is that I am taking AFAoS off my wishlist.

Chicago Express
I got very excited about Chicago Express when Kathy and I played with our friends Sheila D., Keith R., Rebecca E., and Jeff W. some weeks ago.  It struck me then as the perfect capitalist game in which players invest in railroad companies and direct their development in an attempt to maximize income and make the most money.

I got to play in the first heat of the tournament here yesterday against Jim [missed his last name], Pat D., and Demy McB.  As it happens, Jim and Pat had played once before each, and Demy had never played before (but is a quick learner, as I've played her in a number of other games over the years), so the level of competition was fairly even among us.  I ended up owning three of five shares of the New York Central plus one share of the Pennsylvania Railroad, and I won the game in a fairly close finish.

[More entries to follow as time allows, and I will add pictures, links, and details to this entry as well.  PrezCon continues...]

Friday, February 17, 2012

PrezCon: The first casualty of battle is the plan



PrezCon!  I get excited just thinking about the name.  My favorite convention.  So convenient to northern Virginia, such a friendly and yet competitive gaming community.

I felt a little burnt out after five solid days of PrezCon last year, so this day I'm going for just four days; I'll arrive on Thursday and go through Sunday.  My gaming friends Keith F., Brian G., and Tom S. will arrive a day ahead of me, on Wednesday.  My buddy Grant plans to arrive in time for the first events on Monday evening and stay the entire seven days.  Hard core, baby.  I don't know how people do a solid week of intense boardgaming.  People like that must pace themselves better than I do.

Excerpt of my PrezCon
schedule ... for now ...
Every year I go to the PrezCon website and agonize over the schedule.  Every year I carefully prioritize my gaming preferences and put together a perfectly-crafted sequence of events that will take me from breakfast to midnight of solid gaming for the duration of my stay.  And it seems that every year my plan flies out the window within two hours of arrival.  I always seem to get re-directed to some new discovery and find myself playing something I never thought I'd try.  I think that's the magic of a game convention - the impetuous spontaneity of pick-up games and demos and vendors and auctions.  Grant said he's given up on even trying to make a plan.  He just plays as the spirit moves him.  All the world is his gaming table, and all of us merely opponents...

I've written this before, but I'm not afraid to repeat myself.  The best advice I ever got when approaching PrezCon came from Convention Director Justin Thompson:  "Learn at least one new game; buy at least one new game."  I have three demos in mind for games that I want to learn this year:
  • Acquire
  • Small World
  • Command and Colors: Napoleonics
1976 3M Edition
I'd actually seen a demo of Acquire (designer Sid Sackson, artist Kurt Miller, publisher Wizards of the Coast) once before, at my very first PrezCon, and bought a copy on eBay shortly thereafter, but never got a chance to bring it to the table.  But when Little Metal Dog Show explained why Acquire deserves the title of a "stone cold classic," he reminded me of how much I liked what I saw in that game years ago.  So now I'm going to blow the dust off the box and get reacquainted with this Sid Sackson masterpiece.

Grant is running Small World (designer Philippe Keyaerts, artist Miguel Coimbra, publisher Days of Wonder) at PrezCon, and I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never actually sat down and played the game before.  So I'm setting SW as a specific "learning goal" for PrezCon this year.

Cover Design by
Rodger B. MacGowan
Copyright ©2010
I also want to get my hand back into wargaming.  Now, the Richard Borg series of historical strategy games (Battle Cry, Memoir '44, Command and Colors: Ancients, Battle Lore) aren't exactly the kind of hard core Avalon Hill / SPI wargames I grew up on, but they will scratch the itch for now.  And I haven't done Napoleonics in a very long time, so Command and Colors: Napoleonics (designer Richard Borg, artist Rodger MacGowan, publisher GMT) seems like a good new title to learn.

As for buying at least one new game, well, I'll bring my wishlist, but there's no telling what I'll come home with.  Here's my top seven, in no particular order:
  • Fairy Tale
  • Le Havre
  • Chicago Express
  • Traders of Carthage
  • Confusion: Espionage and Deception in the Cold War
  • High Frontier
  • Saint Petersburg
Finally, of course, I'll be demonstrating Trains Planes and Automobiles three times at PrezCon.  I've mentioned before that PrezCon has a special place in my heart as the place I sold TPA two years ago, so it's nice to come back and show it off as a finished product.  The family game format is a little off the conventional PrezCon path, but I'm hopeful that for a few people, it will be the new game they learned at PrezCon, and maybe one or two will even pick up a copy.  I just want people to have fun playing it.