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.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Look what I found - a bunch of Mage Knight miniatures!

I honestly had forgot about these. (Found them by coincidence when looking for other things.) I bought them about 10 years ago, and they have been stored on my gaming shelf behind a few other games since then.

I remember trying the game a few times, but didn't have that many to play with back at that time. Especially not other gaming friends buying miniatures. So the game fell into oblivion. Until now!

I'm not sure what to with them. There are probably to few of them to play big games, so gaming would be limited to small-scale battles.

I found a good web resource though, The Mage Knight Project, which has kept rules and other stuff for the future, since the game officially dies many years ago. And I just found out that there is a 2.0 version of the rules (compatible with my old miniatures). I most likely have the printed 1.0 rules included with my sets.

Would be cool to try this out! Think I have to do just that!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

My miniature painting queue

This is my miniature painting queue.

Orcs/goblins at the top of the picture,
and humans at the bottom.

So far I have painted 7 humans and 8 orcs. The goal is to complete all those 50+ miniatures before end of 2012. Might sound like an extremely easy goal, but with many other projects and real-life issues, that is a realistic goal... I think... and hope...

Painting queue - another angle!
In the front, dismounted men at arms.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Figure painting: Eight armoured orcs

Completed painting eight 15mm orcs today (did not paint them entirely today; have been working on them to and from during a couple of weeks). A good day! =)

They are all Chariot Miniatures (obtained from Magister Militum [GOB12]).

I'm a newbie painter, but I'm quite happy how they turned out.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

New piece of miniature terrain!

Slowly, slowly I'm building new miniature terrain... Certainly slow, but fun process!

Here's the latest creation. A small hill, with some bushes on top. Placed two 15mm miniatures in the photo for size reference.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

2011 is over!


2011 is over. Time to sum up.

It has been a pretty good year creatively wise. Of course, I entered 2011 with much more/bigger/cooler projects in mind, but with family (wife and two young daughters), house (did a complete renovation of our kitchen this year), full-time occupation (with some overtime here and there) and other real-life duties, I'm still satisfied how the year turned out with gaming and hobby related projects.

Below is an attempt to list what I have been up to this year, and my thoughts of 2012.

Tabletop board/card gaming
I'm pretty happy with the number of board/card gaming sessions I managed to squeeze into year 2011. A few years back I started to track all my playing at the BoardGameGeek site, so here's a summary of what I have played during 2011 (the number within the parenthesis represents the number of times that particular game was played):

Warhammer: Invasion (x9)
Frontline D-Day (x6)
Manoeuvre (x6)
Space Hulk: Death Angel - The Card Game (x6)
Forbidden Island (x4)
Small World (x4)
Field Commander: Rommel (x3)
Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game (x2)
The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game (x2)
Race for the Galaxy (x2)
The Rivals for Catan (x2)
Empires in America (x1)
Hive (x1)
Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game (x1)
Terra Nova (x1)

Of the above games I played during 2011, my favorites are Warhammer, Space Hulk and Small World. Hopefully I will return to all of these three games many times during 2012. Had a chance to play Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game twice the last week, and that is also a game that I will have to dig into a little deeper during 2012. It was fun, yet a little bit more complex than its LCG cousin Warhammer: Invasion.

Then I have a couple of pure solitaire games waiting on the shelf, that I really need to bring out to the table. The most itching ones being Field Commander: Napoleon from DVG (have only tested it a little, during reading the rules) and D-Day at Omaha Beach from Decision Games (looks really neat, and heard only good things about it).

Tabletop role-playing
I found the Mythic Game Master Emulator (Mythic GME) (from Word Mill Games) this year -- an amazing find! Have started a long-term (solitaire) fantasy writing exercise using the Mythic GME in conjunction with the Story Engine (from Precis Intermedia). Will submit posts and more details of this project during 2012.

Tabletop miniature wargaming
Found Song of Blades and Heroes (from Ganesha Games). Love this fast-playing, easy and fun set of fantasy skirmish miniature rules, yet with plenty of depth. In fact, I love it so much, that I created a module that enables solitaire play -- SBH-SOLO. This happened during the Solo Tabletop Gaming Appreciation Month (November 2011). SBH-SOLO is downloadable from Google Docs here.

I started painting two 15mm warbands to use with Song of Blades and Heroes - humans and orcs/goblins. Did not succeed in completing the painting of those, so that will be one of the high prio tasks for 2012 to finsih them.

I created my first piece of miniature terrain, and have four more pieces in the pipe (currently doing painting of those; will submit photos when they are ready).

Video gaming
Started the play-through of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on my Nintendo 3DS. Have not yet managed to get all the way through, but I'm very impressed with the story, the graphics and the music. Extremely atmospheric.

For the 3DS, I also played quite a lot of Mario Kart DS (i.e. not the new Mario Kart 7, that is newly released for 3DS only, but the old DS version) and Ridge Racer 3D (a lot of fun, really fast, arcade racing in 3D -- recommended!).

On my Android (smart phone) I mostly played Angry Birds and Shadow Era (that I mentioned here) during 2011. For 2012, I will play Carcasonne and Elder Sign: Omens, and Neuroshima Hex, when it is released (covered in this post).

Music production
This is an area that became somewhat neglected due to my main focus being in tabletop gaming. But I do have several musical pieces very close to being finished. Will submit those on SoundCloud as soon as they are ready, and link them from this blog.

Misc. projects
Created the Demonic Lyric Generator -- a crazy product that randomly creates song lyrics using cards.

Plus, a lot of other minor obscure products/drawings/paintings/whatever, that I cannot fully recall at the moment!