Friday, 31 August 2012

Kickstarter: Airborne In Your Pocket

Airborne In Your Pocket (AIYP) is a solitaire and co-operative war/board game (WWII: Normandy landings) created by the same designer who did the successful and recently released D-Day Dice (DDD), namely Emmanuel Aquin. He has, together with the game publisher Valley Games, Inc. (did DDD with Emmanuel), an ongoing Kickstarter campaign for AIYP (12 days to go, as of today).

I have pledged. Of course! I am utterly happy with DDD, which is one of the best (solitaire) games I have played in a long time, at least in the category of lightweight war games. Emmanuel and Valley Games did such a great job delivering DDD, that there is no chance I will miss the opportunity of yet another great game from the same designer and publisher.

The campaign is doing well. It has so far raised more than $68,000, which is well over target. So the game will be published. However, there are several stretch targets (at $70,000, $75,000 etc) that have not been reached yet. For each of these stretch targets reached, everyone in the campaign (pledging $70 or more) will receive extra rewards (like new cards, new figurines etc). There are stretch targets setup all the way up to $100,000.

If you have the slightest interest in WWII (light) war games, that you can play solitaire, or in a group with up to four players, you should definitely check this game out!

Kickstarter link here. Check out the excellent video, explaining and showing the game.

Disclaimer: I am in no way whatsoever associated with Valley Games (even if this blog post might look like an advertisement). I just happen to think DDD was such a great game, and wanted to mention Valley Games' new game coming out, so that this great campaign potentially could become ever greater (with more people jumping on the pledge train, and we all get more extra stuff)!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

My world of solitaire board gaming

I love solitaire board gaming! As much as I love playing with a group of people. The two playing styles complement each other and I need them both!

First experience with solitaire board gaming was Solitaire ASL (Advanced Squad Leader), back in 2005 or so. I started playing ASL with a group of people, and at the same time found (and bought) the ASL solitaire module. It was an overwhelming experience, an eye-opener. Wow, there are board games designed for one person! Cool! I could play whenever I wanted - in the middle of the night or right after breakfast in my underwear, and in my own pace!

In the recent years, the number of games designed for pure solitaire gaming, or ones with solitaire support, have really grown a lot. The demand for solitaire games seems very large. Could it be today's stressed society, that makes it harder for people to find time to gather and play games? For me it is definitely a part of the answer, but also that I enjoy solitaire play as a phenomena. Competing against tables, dice and cards - a kind of AI lite (a.k.a. Paper-AI). Fascinating, especially for a software developer like me, where all these mechanics very much resembles software programming and algorithms. And best of all, I can have a game ongoing for weeks, squeeze in a five-minute move between emptying the dish washer and feeding the kids. I see no difference in playing a solitaire board game and a (single-player) computer game, which certainly is a common activity among people in general.

The rest of this post is a list. A list of all the solitaire board games I own. Most of the games on this list are pure solitaire games, designed only for one player, but some of them have (official) optional rules for solitaire play, or are co-operative, which by nature usually makes them suitable for solitaire playing. For each game there is a short comment on my thoughts of the game.

Solitaire ASL
Solitaire ASL (2nd edition)
(BoardGameGeek entry here.)
Wonderful ASL module! Opens up an entirely new world for ASL. And as stated above, this was my entry into solitaire board gaming, so I'm thankful that I once got my hands on this one.
My deluxe copy of Pocket Civ
Pocket Civ
(BoardGameGeek entry here.)
This was the first solitaire board game I obtained after Solitaire ASL. It's a free print-and-play game, and I made myself a deluxe copy of the game. Being a Sid Meier Civilization fan since my early computer years, getting this game was a no-brainer! It is fast-paced civilization-like game, which is really hard to beat, but very much fun. I have always wondered why it has not been picked up and published by a game company. It deserves it.
Field Commander: Rommel
Field Commander: Rommel
(BoardGameGeek entry here.)
I don't remember how I found out about the game company Dan Verssen Games (DVG), but I'm glad I did. It was back in 2007-2008, and I came across this game. It was their first game to be published and I pre-ordered it. It is a pure solitaire game in where you take the role as the German Field Marshal Rommel during WWII. It is a great game. Hard to beat, and very unforgiving. A bit too unforgiving at times I would say, where a few bad dice rolls can make you lose quickly. However, I love the game, and have been a DVG fan ever since.
Field Commander: Alexander with its
gorgeous maps!
Field Commander: Alexander
(BoardGameGeek entry here.)
Second game in the DVG Field Commander series. Since I was pleased with Rommel, I instantly pre-ordered this one. I like it. It is a good game. Most of all, the artwork is far better than in Rommel, real eye candy to say the least. The game feels a bit linear, comparing to its Rommel brother, but it simulates the wars of Alexander the Great well (in a very abstract sense of course).
Field Commander: Napoleon
(BoardGameGeek entry here.)
Third installment in the Field Commander series. Best so far in the series, in my opinion. Biggest, most tactical challenge, most replay value and with great components. I think the map artwork is slightly dull (comparing to Alexander which is very colorful), but on the other hand, the color scheme suits the era and areas well. That is just my tiny subjective remark, and does not affect the fact that this is a really well-done product - fun and challenging!
Field Commander: Napoleon and
its HUGE box!

Game in progress!

Fields of Fire
(BoardGameGeek entry here.)
An extremely innovative game. One of a kind. A WWII, Korea and Vietnam solitaire tactical wargame. A rare combination in the solitaire world. Terrain is randomized for every scenario, as is the enemy confronting the solitaire player, meaning infinite replay value. A huge and deep game. I invested weeks in this game when it was first released by GMT back in 2008. There is one problem though - the rulebook. I spent numerous of hours reading and posting in forums for rules questions. It took away the fun and flow. The rulebook has been a hot subject of discussion ever since this game was released. I wouldn't say it's badly written, it's just a bit unorganized, and due to the complexity of the game, it is hard for a rulebook to cover every possible situation that potentially could arise on the playing table. A second edition of the rulebook has been released though, so I guess it is soon time for me to bring this game onto the table again, after a couple of years idling on the game shelf. There are also words on an iOS implemention on its way (would be an instant buy for me). And there is even a second volume in the works.
Fields of Fire

Really nice counter artwork.

Terrain cards creating a unique map for every game.

Frontline: D-Day
Frontline: D-Day
(BoardGameGeek entry here.)
A WWII tactical 1-4 player card game, where each card represents one soldier or vehicle. Good game, but there are some problems making the game a bit unbalanced depending who is first player and not. These issues have been half-way sorted out by the designer with some optional rules that could be applied to make the game more balanced. However, I think the game system needs an thorough overhaul. Some issues with the game system are highlighted in this post. I really want to like, no even love, this game, since the idea of having one card for each soldier, group them in formations and send them into fire fights is really cool, but there is something fishy in the core mechanics of the game...
(BoardGameGeek entry here.)
An addictive co-operative game where the players work together trying to save the population of planet Earth before it's going under due to a pandemic outbreak. (Yes, a non-wargame - I do have some of those too!) The game works very well solitaire. Everyone I have played this with, loves it! Hardcore gamers and non-gamers alike. Simple, but elegant mechanics. All in all, a fantastic game. Glad I have it in my possession.
Phantom Leader
Phantom Leader
(BoardGameGeek entry here.)
Covering the air war of the Vietnam war. A great game. You choose pilots, arm your aircraft and send them out on missions. A nail-biting game. Easy to learn and with great replay value. A must for a solitaire wargamer interested in the Vietnam era and/or air combat. Surprisingly enough, this game is coming to the iPad soon! According to Dan Verssen himself, the game is in final testing (ConsimWorld post here). Instant buy for me. Can't image having one of my favourite solitaire board games on my iPad... it's just... just... wonderful!
Empires in America. Space
required in the game shelf is
basically zero - just a small
plastic bag!
Empires in America
(BoardGameGeek entry here.)
A States of Seige game by Victory Points Games. I covered this game on this blog, in this post. I'm a fan of the States of Seige engine, and this particular implementation is a very good one that I enjoy playing.
D-Day at Omaha Beach
D-Day at Omaha Beach
(BoardGameGeek entry here.)
A hex-and-counter game, with a huge map. Unfortunately, I have not yet played this. My bad. From what I have heard, this is supposed to be an extremely good solitaire game, created by the legendary game designer John H. Butterfield (designer of classic games like Ambush! and RAF). I must get this onto the table, soon.
Space Hulk. Small box.
Space Hulk: Death Angel - The Card Game
(BoardGameGeek entry here.)
A co-operative card game where you control a number of Space Marines trying to clean out a spaceship from hostile aliens. Not impossible to beat, but almost! Nevertheless, a lot of fun to play. Works very well solitaire.
Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001-?
(BoardGameGeek entry here.)
Another game in my solitaire collection that I haven't played. This is a two-player game, but it has, from what it seems, a well developed official solitaire engine included too. Must try this some day. Seems cool.
Thunderbolt Apache Leader
(BoardGameGeek entry here.)
Just got this game by mail a few weeks ago, so I have not had time to try it. This could possibly be one of the best solitaire games I own, at least according to all positive feedback it has got. Just check out Marco Arnaudo's video review or read this review. Since I like Phantom Leader, I will most likely love Thunderbolt Apace Leader! Soon to find out!
Malta in play. Beautiful colorful map!
Malta Besieged: 1940-1942
(BoardGameGeek entry here.)
A WWII States of Siege game. As the Allied player, you defend Malta from the Axis invaders. A good challenge, with a lot of decision opportunities for every turn. And as with other States of Siege games I have played, it is filled with historical facts and is heavy thematic-wise. For my next business trip, this is the solitaire game I will bring (to kill time in the evenings), since it is a big game in a very small package! Love it!
Dawn of the Zeds
Dawn of the Zeds
(BoardGameGeek entry here.)
Another States of Siege game. Not played this one, just got it by mail a few weeks ago. Supposed to be a lot of fun. Apart from most other States of Siege games, this is one is not based on historical events, but instead zombies! Possibly the only one zombie game I own.
D-Day Dice
D-Day Dice
(BoardGameGeek entry here.)
One of the best games in my entire board game collection! Just got it a few weeks back, but have already played it 30+ times! A wargame dice fest! I have covered it in this post.

So what is in the pipe for the future? Well, as always, I have some games on pre-order, and in the case of solitaire games, we are talking about these:

* GMT's Revolt and Revolution. Three States of Siege games in one box. Two of them have been previously published by Victory Point Games, and the third is new for this box.

* DVG's Frontline: Guadalcanal. However, I'm a bit unsure about this one. Since there are some more or less major flaws with Frontline: D-Day (stated above), this game would need a upgraded game system before I buy it. I will keep my pre-order for now, until I hear more about this.

* Valley Games Inc's Airborne in Your Pocket. Kickstarted this game a couple of days ago. Same designer and publisher as for D-Day Dice, so this can't be bad!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

D-Day Dice - a beautiful game!

D-Day Dice - a fantastic, fun and just wonderful dice game!

Me, considering the next move!
I Kickstarted this game back in November 2011 (mentioned in this blog post). Last week I finally received the game by mail. And wow, what a big surprise! Just staring at the components and the gorgeous artwork makes me cry of happiness! And playing is certainly a lot of joy.

D-Day Dice (BoardGameGeek entry here) is a 1-4 player game (with several expansions available and more to follow in the future), that simulates (of course in a very abstract sense) the Normandy landings on June 6, 1944. The players storm the Normandy beaches with one Allied unit each and co-operate in reaching the German bunker in the top of the map. All Allied units must reach the bunker, or all players lose. A challenging task, to say the least.

My buddy Jonas,
ready to storm the
To your help, when storming the beach, you have various specialists and items, and sometimes vehicles. They all have abilities that alter the base rules. You move your unit sector by sector towards the bunker, and in every sector, the Germans fires at your unit.

Since Thursday last week (when I received the game), I have played it 30 times (27 solitaire sessions and 3 two-player sessions). My conclusion is that the game is near perfect. When playing, I have fun, and have to make a lot of tough decisions. I love dice and I love war games, so the combination is spot-on. Of course, there is a lot of luck involved, there are a lot of dice rolling after all, but how one manages resources (like soldiers, items etc) is crucial - without careful planning and consideration, the game will quickly be lost.

So, if you love (abstract) war games and dice, that are quick to setup and play, are challenging, fun, solitaire/co-operative and just wonderful - then this is the game for you!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Review: Levee en Masse HD for iPad

A week or so ago, Victory Point Games released the iPad app Levee en Masse HD - a digital implementation of the boardgame counterpart Levee en Masse.

I have anticipated this game ever since I first heard of it being in development, for two reasons. First, because it is Victory Point Games, a small company making great games. Second, because the game is based on the States of Siege engine. I like that engine a lot. I own Empires in America, which is another States of Siege game (I reviewed it here).

A blurry snapshot of an ongoing game on my iPad.

Game overview
Levee en Masse is a game about the French revolution (1789-1802) and its many wars. As mentioned above, it's a States of Seige game, which in turn means a solitaire game. The player is ruling France and must defend Paris from foreign armies (e.g. English and Prussian) closing in from several directions, and suppress Monarchy and Despotism to keep up the Republic popularity.

Each turn a card is drawn. The card will tell what enemy armies are moving towards Paris in that turn, how many actions the player receives for that turn, different die roll modifiers etc. The cards drive the game, they set the pace and steer the enemies.

User interface
The user interface in Levee en Masse HD is good. It captures the theme well and is easy to use. However, there are some minor flaws, like when rolling the die. It's made automatically by the game. I'd like to tap and roll it myself. And it disappears real quick sometimes, so you have to catch it with your eyes before it goes away. The other bad thing, which is much worse, is that there are no rules within the game. Just a tutorial. Sure, the tutorial is okay, but sometimes you can't remember everything first time you hear/see it, you need to go back to the rules and read it again. What I did was to download the pdf rules from VPG's web site, the rules for the paper version of the game. The rules are the same, but the graphics is different and you have to leave the app to read them. I would have preferred to have them readable within the app.

This is where the game really shines. The theme is very strong, mostly thanks to all the card drawn each turn. On each card there are historical notes, that tells an interesting story. The choice of color scheme and graphics within the game, also add very well to the theme and enhance the atmosphere.

Decision making
This is what I think is the weakest part of the game. I like solitaire games (or games in general) that offer a lot of decision opportunities for the player. I like it when the player has too many options, but limited in time/resources to implement them all in one game turn. Unfortunately, Levee in Masse (HD) offers a low number of player actions each turn, which makes the game somewhat repetitive. What you do most in a turn is attacking one or two enemy armies and spending a few actions on the political track. In Empires in America for example, the player is given more choices, but that game is on the other hand more complex.

Maybe the "decision making" feel is different when playing the paper version of the game? Maybe an app like this makes it all go too fast, with e.g. housekeeping performed in background by the app instead of by the player? Some of the analog/physical feel perhaps got lost in the transformation into this digital form? Could be a general matter to keep in mind when letting boardgames go digital: How to not lose the game's original soul?

Despite the limited number of decision opportunities for the player each turn, I like the game. From what I can tell, the iPad app is a very faithful implementation of its paper version. The theme is really strong, both the graphics and all historical text on the cards. All in all, a game I will continue to play and enjoy! :-)

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Chinese boardgaming

My copy of Killers of the Three Kingdoms.
I got the chance to once again travel East to the great country of China, more specifically Shanghai. This time a short trip, only a week. One interesting thing was that my Chinese colleagues happened to share my interest in boardgaming, so they kindly brought me to a boardgaming café/bar one evening.

The boardgaming café/bar is a neat concept in where they provide tables, a plethora of boardgames, soft drinks etc. You just bring your friends and play! You can more or less drop in at anytime. They have late opening hours (as most other shops/services in Shanghai) and the café/bar staff can help teach a game if needed. I think this concept is really great and as far as I know, we don’t have this where I live, in Sweden. What we have here are boardgaming clubs, but membership is usually required.

What stroke me when glancing through the set of boardgames in the café/bar, was the number of “standard” Euro games (and other games) that had been translated into Chinese. The market has certainly grown a lot the recent couple of years (see a couple of references in the bottom of this post). There must be a huge market potential for Western game companies. Imagine getting a game translated into Chinese and published there!

One of the most popular games seem to be the card game Killers of the Three Kingdoms, and has been for a couple of years. There are tons of merchandise and expansions available for it. We played one session, and I enjoyed it a lot, even though I had a somewhat hard time memorizing all cards, since they were all in Chinese. I think after three four more plays, I would be able to play it quite fluently. (I actually own a copy of the base game, which I bought in Shanghai a few years ago. Think it is time to dust it down and let it hit the table!) I can definitely see why it is so popular. The game mechanic is certainly very interesting, where bluffing is a big part of the game play.


Monday, 21 May 2012

Mixed bag of gaming

Even though I haven't blogged much in the past month, I have been playing a lot more!

Since the last blog post (from the beginning of April), I have been doing this:

Multi-player gaming

Me, in a fierce battle of Song
of Blades and Heroes!
Ran one game of Song of Blades an Heroes with one of my gaming buddies. We had a lot of fun, especially in the end where my single human left on the board knocked down my opponent's five six orcs and gave me the win! Very unexpected, but a lovely twist!

Have started a long-term campaign of Memoir '44 (with the same gaming buddy). Got my hands on the Memoir '44: Campaign Book Volume 1. It was not an easy find, since the book has been out-of-print for quite a while. Anyway, I'm glad I got it, since it's very well done. So far we have played three scenarios and we intend to play through all three major campaigns (50 scenarios or so).

Solitiaire gaming

Field Commander: Napoleon,
in the middle of a battle!
I have, finally, dug into the solitaire game Field Commander: Napoleon from DVG (which I have owned since it was released last year, but not played, until now). The game is a masterpiece and I have rated it a 10 on BoardGameGeek. One of few games that I have rated this high. Reasons are many, which I will explain in a review (which will be posted here) as soon as I have played through all campaigns.

Other solitaire gaming activities would include some iPad gaming (yes, I bought an iPad2 not long ago; a wonderful piece of hardware). I have been playing Neuroshima Hex and Forbidden Island -- two very faithful digital implementations of board game originals.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Soft cover

Wow, what a quiet blog!

Life has once again eaten all (or at least, most) precious gaming time.

But I have been playing some solitaire Tales of Blades and Heroes (the RPG version of Song of Blades and Heroes from Ganesha games). Hopefully I will have chance to post an After Action Report from that session soon. And I have been able to create a couple of bushes, to be used as soft cover in Song of Blades and Heroes. See photo below (15mm orc for size reference).

Hope spring will offer more gaming time. I really need that.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Rory's Story Cubes: Voyages

I couldn't resist the new set of Rory's Story Cubes - Voyages!

I have the two other sets (original+actions), and when I first found out about this new set at the SoloNexus blog two weeks ago, I knew I had to have it! I love those dice, they are really good for inspiration. Voyages is perfect for the fantasy genre, as many pictures are fantasy/medieval influenced.

I got the new set by mail today, a perfect way of celebrating the upcoming weekend! =)

Saturday, 10 March 2012


Last week, my eldest daughter came home from kindergarten with a plastic bag full of tree cones. She had found them in the woods when the children were out there playing. She offered me to have some of them. First I didn't see a need for them. But later that evening I started to think in game terms, more specifically, in miniature terms. I thought to myself, they would be really good as trees!

Now, a week later, I have completed thirteen of them, and I'm very pleased with the result. Okay, I know, they do not look like real trees should. But hey, they are for my Song of Blades and Heroes setting, and since we are talking fantasy, more or less anything is allowed!

Okay, here are two photos of the final products, with a 15mm orc lurking in the woods for reference:

And here are a couple of work-in-progress photos:

Found a box of washers in the garage. Good
enough as bases for the trees.

The first cone attached to a washer/base.
Used spackling paste and some stone
glue to build a little foundation for attaching
the cones.

All cones attached to one washer each! Next they
were all coated in Chaos Black and then painted.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

AAR: The depressing battle of Björnåsen.

"I have a no good feeling, sir", said the hardened soldier in the heavy armor. The young noble kept silent, but nodded deliberately. With the wastelands in front of their eyes, the soldier's feeling would prove to be correct. The party would, in just a few minutes, meet what mortals call death.


Welcome to the first AAR (After Action Report) on this blog! The game played was a solitaire session of Song of Blades and Heroes, using my solitaire module SBH-SOLO (downloadable here for anyone interested in trying it out).

I was leading a gang of cautious humans passing through the wastelands of Björnåsen, located around five thousand steps South of the large town of Borås. Five civilians equipped with swords and bows, escorted by three armored soldiers, were on their way back home to their manor in Kinnarumma. They've been visiting the King of East Borås for a couple of considerable matters. Halfway home, their journey was interrupted when they ran into a group of bestial green-skinned creatures -- eight bloodthirsty orcs. The battle was an actuality, and it did not end in favor of the humans; all men lost, except for one rider, escaping the battle in fear of his life.


Human warband
* Young noble, with sword, [PTS=50; Q=3+; C=2] and [Leader].
* (x2) Young noble's close friends, with swords and [PTS=30; Q=3+; C=3].
* Young noble's brother-in-law, on horse, with bow, [PTS=60; Q=3+; C=2] and [Mounted; Long Move; Shooter (med)].
* Young noble's cousin, on horse, with bow, [PTS=45; Q=4+; C=2] and [Mounted; Long Move; Shooter (med)].
* (x3) Armored soldiers, with swords, [PTS=26; Q=4+; C=4] and [Short Move].
=> 293 PTS

Orc warband
This warband was entirely controlled by SBH-SOLO, i.e. my imaginary opponent.
* Orc leader, hand weapon, armor, [PTS=100; Q=3+; C=4] and [Leader; Tough].
* Orc warrior, hand weapon, armor, [PTS=42; Q=4+; C=3] and [Long Move; Steadfast].
* (x6) Orc warriors, hand weapons, armor and [PTS=23; Q=4+; C=3].
=> 280 PTS

The game was played using 15mm miniatures, on a 60x60 cm board, with a few pieces of terrain (mix of self-made ones and a few Games Workshop hedges). The board was crafted and given to me in Christmas present by my father. He used an old green billiards rug and attached it to a wooden board! Looking really good and very steady! Extremely grateful for that piece! =)

The game was played over two evenings and ended after 12 turns. Or actually, the battle never ended, one last human, the young noble's cousin on horse, fled when he was the only survivor. (He did not flee by the terms of Song of Blades and Heroes rules, but I made him flee, since there was no idea of continuing the fight with just him on the board, and four orcs! Who wouldn't have left the action by then!)

I had a lot of fun playing this battle! I think the SBH-SOLO module did a good job in simulating a real live opponent. Found some minor problems in the SBH-SOLO rules that I will correct, but apart from that, the game ran smoothly. I will definitely run a similar session again soon. Will have to paint a few more 15mm fantasy miniatures first though, so the variety of miniatures increases.


I will here present a number of highlights from the battle, in the shape of photos. I will not go through the battle in detail, just present a few distinctive moments.

The wastelands of Björnåsen. The humans in the lower
part of the photo, and the orcs in the upper. They have
just spotted each other, and the fight is ineluctable.
Turn #3: The young noble's cousin rides up on a small cliff
and fires his bow. He makes the closest orc temporary
drop his weapon to the ground and lose his balance.
Turn #4: The human warband fumbles and loses one turn.
In game terms; two failures on the first activation
roll attempt made in that turn! Seldom a good start of
a turn... ;-)
Turn #8: Two orcs charge a human rider. Later, in the
human part of this turn, the rider leaves the hand-to-hand
combat using the Free Disengage a mounted model is
entitled to if it disengage a foot model. Lucky him!
Turn #8: One of the noble's close friends attacks one of the
orcs charging into the rider previously in this turn. He succeed
in making the orc fall to the ground!
Turn #9: The fallen orc from the preceding turn is killed!
Unfortunately, the human is soon to be killed too...
Turn #9: The armored soldier slays one of the ugly
creatures, even though he is surrounded by two
more of them. Good work!
Turn #10: The fourth orc is killed and the remainder of the orc
warband must perform a Morale check (since the warband
was reduced to half in size). Three of the orcs runs off
toward the board edges. The one in the photo stops just
a few centimeters from the edge!

Turn #12: End of game! The last remaining human is seen
in the lower right of the photo. He is desperately leaving
the battlefield. Four orcs watch him leave in panic, while
they dismissively laugh...

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Figure painting: Three dismounted men at arms

Slow painting progress. Really slow. Blaming overtime at work. Been quite a lot. But it is about to decrease really soon though, so life should retain back to normal (whatever that is!).

Anyway, managed to complete three dismounted men at arms recently. Although minor progress, I'm happy with the result!

They are all 15mm Chariot Miniatures (obtained from Magister Militum [YLT3]).

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Built a painting station!

Wow, more than two weeks since last blog post. Not good. Not entirely sure why, but there has been quite a lot of overtime lately. However, things will get better (i.e. less work) in a few weeks.

Despite overall bad gaming related progress, I have actually managed to do something :  I have built my own painting station!

And here it is:

I woke up Sunday morning last week and said to myself -- "I'm going to build a painting station today" -- and so I did! During breakfast I did some quick drawings and came up with some rough measurement estimates. After finishing the breakfast, I went out in the yard and started to build. A few hours later, it was completed (except for the black paint, that I applied a day later). And today I added an old lamp I found in a since-long-forgotten moving box.

Even though the station is not a beauty (never was the intention), I'm very pleased with the result. The reasons for building one in the first place, are these:
  1. I usually paint minitaures and build terrain in our attic. During winter, especially when there are outdoor temperatures down at minus 15-20C, it gets quite cold up there. In other words, a not so nice environment to sit for a few hours and paint. Even hesitate to go up there sometimes.
  2. I feel very anti-social being up at the attic, alone, for a few hours painting. Now, with the painting station, I can bring down the work to e.g. the living room. Paint while watching TV with my spouse! Very convenient! =)
Here are two more photos (work in progress):

Work in progress. Just started. Built the painting
station out of an old IKEA cabinet.

Work in progress. Before black paint.

Monday, 23 January 2012

States of Siege - the solitaire engine from Victory Point Games

Victory Point Games has a solitaire engine called States of Siege. They use it in many of their solitaire tabletop board games.

One of those games is Empires in America which I have had in my possession for a few years, but not really played it much - not until now. Below is a brief review of Empires in America.

Empires in America - brief review

The game in action! I later won this game!
The game is about the French and Indian War (1754-62). The solitaire player controls the French, and must defend Montreal from the British forces slowly closing in from several directions. And that is actually what the States of Siege engine is all about - an enemy closing in from several directions, at the same time, and the player must do everything it takes to stop him, usually with a scarce number of countermeasures at hand.

As with Victory Point Games, they are hand made. Cards/counters/maps/etc are printed and cut by hand. Might put a few off, others won't care. I must say that I actually like the idea of components crafted in this genuine manner - you can feel the love put into it. Everything is carefully and nicely packaged. And regarding the art -  I think it is colorful and attractive - no complaints there.

The rulebook takes a few readings before nailing the rules - especially the card locations. A card can be in one of seven different places (e.g. your hand, removed, discarded, bottomed etc). A little confusing at first, but something that you get used to after a few plays. Apart from that, the rulebook is very nicely laid out, and easy to navigate.

Gameplay is fun! And tense. You have a lot of decision making to do. The game is quite hard to beat. It is extremely frustrating to see all the British forces closing in on Montreal from all directions, but having so little space of maneuvering, so you can't stop them all.

The game rules are of low complexity. Game play is around 30-45 min.

The good
* Fun and engaging. A lot of decision making.
* High replayability. There is a big randomness around the pile of cards drawn. And since the cards drive the game, game play will look differently each time playing. A very good thing.
* Nice looking art.
* Very clear rulebook.
* Small footprint, and good when traveling - light and small in size!

The bad
* A minor complaint: There is a rule saying that if the British has two or more Leaders (haven't brought Leaders up in this review, but basically, they are a good thing and you need them!) than the French has (when starting the British phase), and a similar rule saying that if the French has two or more Leaders than the British has (when starting the French phase), then Leaders must be sacked, so that the gap in power between the two nations won't get too big. I don't like those kind of rules. I don't like it when the game system prevents one player to get too strong by comparing to the other player's power. Such power regulations should be handled by other means, within the system itself. It's hard to connect such action historically, or into the real world. Why would a winning, more powerful side of a conflict reduce its power because of the other side being weak - that is a great opportunity for offensive actions!

Despite the minor complaint, the game is excellent! I love it! And I would recommend it to any solitaire wargamer. I cannot compare it other games in the States of Siege series, since this is the only game I own in that series. But that is about to change... see below!

States of Siege - future (from my point of view)

* GMT Games and Victory Point Games has a strategic partnership, meaning that GMT releases some VPG games. Currently on GMT's P500 (pre-order) list, there is a game called Revolt and Revolution, which is three States of Siege games in one box! And with GMT's fine quality, mounted boards etc, this can't be bad! I have signed up on that one. I really hope it collects enough pre-orders to be published.

* Levee en Masse, which is a States of Siege game, will be developed for Android/iOS. I found the news here (The Gaming Gang) and here (BoardGameGeek). I'm an Android user, so this is wonderful news!

So, this means, more States of Siege for me in the future! Hopefully, at least one of the above products will be in my hands during 2012. Can't wait!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

More terrain completed!

Two more pieces of terrain completed, primary for 15mm fantasy use.

15mm figures, for reference.

15mm figure, for reference.

Next up: Painting of 15mm (fantasy) humans.