Friday, November 27, 2015

Masons vs. Butchers - Guild Ball AAR

Another Guild Ball post to round out the week.  I played a couple games against Alex and his Butchers at Enter the Realm.

The first game ended with an absolute Butcher blow-out, 14-0. The Masons were torn to pieces during the match, and I ended up losing five players over the course of three turns. Adding insult to injuries, Alex then had Brisket send the pigskin slamming home into the Mason's goal post!

Wow. My first taste of the Butchers was pretty nasty. They can move fast and they really, really hurt when they attack - nothing like the Morticians or Brewers! It probably didn't help that I ended up bunching my team up in the middle of the pitch.

The second game ended in another Butcher win at 12-6, but at least I managed to get onto the board. The Butchers took four Masons players, and Brisket scored again. Flint managed to get a goal in, and Honor did take out Shank, and almost knocked Ox out of the game. Unfortunately, I could never get enough Influence in one place to make a decent play.

And it definitely didn't help that my dice were horrible during both games.

So, what did these games teach me? Well, I know that Masons are definitely at a disadvantage against Butchers. The team needs to be bunched up to get their buffs, but Butchers love having opponents that are close together. And Masons generally don't have the movement or plays to run around the Butchers. I can send Flint or Harmony forward and hope to score, but then watch them get chewed up. The best thing I do can do is to keep playing against the Butchers and learn how to work against them.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Masons vs. Morticians - Guild Ball AAR

Even poor weather isn't enough to stop a game of Guild Ball. With the rain pouring down outside, Kevyn and I met at Stomping Grounds for a rematch. 

With more options than last week (fully painted, too!) we decided to play a 6v6 game. The teams for the match were:



The appearance of the Union player was worrying, as Unions substitutions are potential outliers for team dynamics.

The game started when Mist kicked the ball onsides, and so it was given to Flint.

Players began to move forward. Tower made his way into the center of the field, hoping to use his ability to force another player to go last during a turn on Obulus, but he was out of range. Mist ran up, hoping to get an angle on the ball. Honor went next, moving closer to Flint and giving him both a 2" Dodge forward and the Superior Strategy buff (+1 Influence and another activation during this turn).

At that point, I thought I had screwed up. It was possible for Flint to score on the first turn, but I needed just a single point of Momentum to spend for the kick on the goal. Luckily, Dirge moved up and into's Flint's charge range. With that opportunity, the Mason's striker took off towards the Mortician's mascot. The dice roll allowed Flint to get his "Where'd They Go?" ability off, which resulted in a 4" dodge forward. Still out of range, Flint activated his "Super Shot" ability, giving him another 2" in range - just enough to reach the opposing team's goal. With a snap of his boot, the ball went sailing through the air and into the Mortician's mausoleum, making it 4-0 for the Masons.

The ball went back into the pitch (right after Flint dodged back to the center of the field) and landed at near Cosset, who passed the ball to Mist, who ran up the field. Flint and Marbles, lacking any Influence, moved up to intercept Mist, as Harmony ran up the empty left side of the field.

Having won the Initiative roll for the next turn, and realizing that Mist was in a bad position, Kevyn had the Union player dodge to the left, and sent the ball back to Silence. This was a mistake, however. Flint, refreshed with plenty of Influence, took the hit from Dirge's Parting Blow and ran over to Silence. Even with Obulus at his back, Flint took the ball from Silence and, with another usage of his "Super Shot" ability, managed to score another goal, setting the game to 8-0 for the Masons. The ball came back and landed in the Mortician's control.

Scoring, however, left Flint in the center of the Mortician's team, and he quickly went down, scoring the Mortician's their first points and making it 8-2. In retaliation, Honor went after Mist, quickly bringing the mercenary down to a point where a light breeze would knock him out. A plan was formed, and even as Flint's limp body was removed from the field, Tower, Marbles and Mallet all began to attack Dirge. This gave Silence the chance to launch a vial of Embalming Fluid into the scrum, setting the three Masons alight.

The next turn started with the Mortician's again, and Cosset quickly sent Tower down for a dirt nap (8-4). But then Honor went, knocking out Mist (10-4). Using their sisterly bond, Harmony then activated and sprinted between Marbles and Mallet, both of whom where trying to smother the flames. Sword flashing, the fiery redhead cut the Mortician's mascot out of the air, scoring two more Victory Points and securing the victory for the Masons, 12-4.

As for after game thoughts, it turns out that the Guild Ball community hasn't exaggerated when rating Flint as potentially the best offensive striker in the game. Two goals in as many turns not only put the Masons at a comfortable lead, but also gave the team two more Influence points to work with. My plan with Tower didn't pan out (he never got the chance to make Obulus go last), but as Kevyn point out, he did manage to hold up three of the Morticians players in the middle of the field. Harmony didn't do much as well, as most of the ball control for the Masons was done by Flint.

I'm still looking forward to getting Chisel (although it may take awhile for her to arrive in-store), and I'm beginning to think about potential additions from the Union, even though I should probably focus on learning how to use the in-faction models first. The choice I can really see at the moment is Mist, for another long-range threat for scoring alongside Flint.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Airborne Commander - Kickstarter Review

Back in March, I found a Kickstarter for a solitaire card game called "Airborne Commander." Interested by both the theme of the game, and the idea of a solo deck-building game, I jumped in on the project and pledged for copy of the game. 

After a couple (understandable) delays, I was happy to find my copy of the game in my mailbox. 

The box contains a small rule booklet and two decks - the Allied deck containing the paratrooper units the player controls, and the Mission deck containing the Axis units, terrain, and objectives that the paratroopers will have to face over the course of the game.

The Mission deck is even numbered for introductory games, so new players will have some chance to remember whats coming up in following games. Possible cards include infantry units, machine guns, mortars, road blocks, pill boxes, armored vehicles, and historical objectives. 

The Allied deck is made up of units from the 101st Airborne Division (the same that was featured in the "Band of Brothers" book and series). You've got paratroopers, bazookas, commanders, anti-tank guns, jeeps, planes, and more.

Did I mention how awesome the art on these cards are?

So, how does the game play? Well, the above picture shows the base set-up for a game. Four cards are drawn from the Mission deck and laid out in a row, creating the Battlefield. Below the Mission deck is the Disorganized deck and the Player deck. Five cards are drawn from the Player deck to be used in this turn. On the other side of the playing area is the Allied deck and the Drop Zone, where new units can be recruited.

Play continues in turns until 4 Static Defenses cards are on the table, if the Disorganized deck has been emptied into the Player deck, or if either the Mission or the Allied deck has been depleted. 

To begin the game, I played an Officer card into the Support area (behind the Player Battlefield area), which allowed me to either discard a Disorganized and draw a new card, or use to gain 2 Recruitment points. I decided to go with the former. 

I then drew another Paratrooper card, who had the Support ability to suppress a single enemy unit. Any enemy unit that isn't suppressed or engaged at the end of the turn adds a Disorganized card to the player's discard pile, so I chose to suppress the mortar unit.

Finally, I had my other Paratrooper engage the infantry unit. Neither unit was capable of destroying each other (their attack value needs to exceed the other cards defense value). It should be noted that destroyed Allied cards are removed from the game rather than being sent to the discard pile. So pick and choose your fights!

With no cards destroyed on either side, the Mission cards went into the Mission discard pile - except for the Static Defense card, which stays on the table - and the Allied cards went into the Allied discard pile, which will get reshuffled into the Allied deck when the Allied deck runs out. The remaining Allied card in my hand (which should have been placed in the Support Area earlier) allowed me two spend two recruitment points twice. Unfortunately, I was only able to recruit a single BAR-equipped Paratrooper.

With that, the second turn began. The Battlefield was filled back up. Since there were three cards in the Drop Zone, I had to discard one, and then drew two more cards to fill it back up to four. I then drew four new cards. Note that I should I drawn five, as Disorganized cards are discarded at the end of the turn, something I did not realize until a couple turns in. I think this hurt me in the long run, as Disorganized cards only take up space in the player's hand.

The game continued for several more turns, during which time I did manage to destroy a few Axis units, but also took a couple more Disorganized cards. The game ended when I drew another Static Defense and realized between the Allied cards I had drawn and the Mission cards on the Battlefield, there was no way I was going to destroy any of them. And as having four Static Defense cards on the table at the beginning of the turn ends the game, I called it then. It's only now, as I write this, I realized I should have played the turn through, if only to score more VP's. My total for the game was -2.5 Victory points, which got me a Campaign Ribbon, the lowest score level. Ouch!

Despite my poor first performance, I found myself wanting to play more. My second game ended with all ten Disorganized cards in my player deck, and I scored 0 total points for a Victory Medal.

It's definitely a challenging game. You have to balance using cards in the Battlefield and Support areas. If you use the cards to buy more powerful Allied cards, you'll have more resources later, but also more Disorganized cards clogging up your deck. Or you can decide to fight it out on the Battlefield, but you'll be losing Allied cards each turn, and a bad round of draws from the Mission deck can force you into a fight you can't win.

I'm definitely going to have to play a few more games to get a hang of the rules, but my initial hope - a great solo game that doesn't take up a lot of space, but has plenty of replay value - seems to have been fulfilled. If you're looking for a challenging solitaire card game, I definitely recommend Airborne Commander.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Painting Update - Guild Ball

My Guild Ball project continues!

I finished Mallet (a fantastic Defensive Midfielder with a 3" attack range during his activation, in a game that normally has 1" or 2" attack ranges) and Honor, the team Captain, who exemplifies the team's ability to play either the scoring or the bashing game without really exceeding in either. She's a great scrapper who becomes very dangerous with the right support, and a decent ball handler who gets better with buffs from her teammates, like Mallet's [+1/+1"] KICK aura. 

Another two members of the Masons team are Flint and Mallet. Flint is the team's striker, and is apparently one of the best (if not the) best striker in the game. With the right buffs, Flint can score from 22" away - a very dangerous ability when the pitched is only 36" in length and width. With the right timing, Honor's Superior Strategy can let Flint go again and potentially score twice in a single turn! I'm interested to get him on the field, as so far Harmony has been my ball handler. She can do a fine job, but I'd like to see Flint take the field and try out his abilities. 

Tower, on the other hand, is definitely a defensive player. He'll work great with Mallet, as Tower gets bonuses when attacking models that have been knocked down. Additionally, he can suffer damage for other models using his Heroic Play (useful for players like Flint or Harmony that have low health, or players that are big targets, like Honor), and he can even force a single model to go last each turn!

So that's it for the original Masons. Hopefully, I'll have the chance to get Chisel, the first of the Masons' second season player. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Masons vs. Morticians - Guild Ball AAR

Last week I managed to play another game of Guild Ball with Kevyn at Stomping Grounds.

I played my Masons in a 5-on-5 game against Kevin's Morticians. Our teams were:



I ended up winning the first dice-off, but decided to kick instead of receive. I wanted to see what it was like starting without the ball. So I gave Mallet the ball, and he sent it flying to the other side of the pitch.

The first turn ended with Mallet attacking Obulus with his huge 3" attack range. Silence ran the ball up the side of the pitch with Dirge.

Honor and Harmony ganged up on Ghast, while Cosset charged Mallet and Silence charged Marbles after being goaded.

The game then saw a big swing towards the Morticians. While Ghast was taken out by the two sisters (netting 2 VP for the Masons), Mallet was knocked out by Cosset, and Silence scored a goal, quickly making it a 6-2 game. I did use a couple Plot Cards to gain extra Influence and put a Vengeance Token on Silence however.

The ball was thrown back in, and Harmony managed to snap up the ball as Honor went after Obulus. Despite needing a single 4+ on four dice, I failed to roll a single success, and so the ball went shooting past the Mortician's goal. Then Harmony was taken out by Obulus, ending the turn with a score of 8-2 in the Mortician's favor.

Hoping to capitalize on Silence's Vengeance Token, I had brought Mallet back in only after a single turn. I quickly realized that this had been a terrible idea, as Silence put the old mason back down into the dirt again, scoring two more VP.

Finally, after surviving an onslaught from Honor, Obulus chased after Marbles (already weakened by an earlier charge from Silence) and put the Mascot down, gaining two more VP and ending the game 12-2.

Ouch - not a great start for the Masons. Although Harmony's terrible kick didn't exactly help, as it sent the ball to the very edge of the pitch, out of easy reach. And I definitely haven't figured out any kind of strategy of kicking the ball instead of receiving it! I think I tried too hard in the bashing side of the game, especially wasting a bunch of Influence and time having Honor and Harmony beat down Ghast. And the benefits from the Guild Plot cards certainly didn't outweigh the loss of giving the Mortician's the first goal.

Well, I've got Flint and Tower arriving soon, and Chisel following shortly afterward. So I'll be able to play full games, and will even have options to switch players in and out.

Update: I wanted to add a little more to this post. This past weekend, I played another 5v5 game against the Brewers, and ended up winning 12-0. I got the chance to see exactly how the Masons work, with player synergies helping each other. Honor and Harmony were the MVPs, with Harmony scoring two goals (even though she missed another), and Honor knocking out the Brewer's captain. Even Brick got his moment in the spotlight, when he stopped Stave (the Brewer's big guy) from getting off his knock-down AoE by attacking with his counter-charge ability. So, when the Masons work, they really work!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Painting Update - Kings of War, Guild Ball

Although I did play another demo game of Guild Ball this past weekend, I didn't get the chance to take any pictures, so here's a hobby update for this week. 

I'm stilling working away on my Kings of Men army. I managed to get a Cannon and a troop of Mounted Scouts (with pistols) finished.

Next up is the three troops of Arquebusiers. Two of those were already based, which meant I had to forcibly remove them from their base with clippers, with a few losing either a part of or the entirety of their feet in the process. This is especially frustrating because I have some forty-five other infantry models that are already based like this, and will have to be de-based as well.

If you've got any advice for me, leave a comment! From what I've learned, apparently leaving them in the freezer overnight may help make the glue more brittle, and so it might snap off easier. It's worth a try. Hopefully.

And speaking of Kings of War, with the arrival of a second Empire Battalion, five more outriders and thirty State troops (that'll be assembled as Halberdiers into two regiments of Pole-Arms), I've finally got everything I need to reach a 2000-point list! I'm aiming to have the whole army done by the new year.

I decided to go with the Masons for Guild Ball - I liked the look of the team along with their overall playstyle (which favors a balanced approached to the game with lots of synergy). Above is the ball included in the starter box, a goal post made from one of the role markers that came with the first edition of the Game of Thrones LCG (that I sold the cards and tokens for, but apparently not the markers), and Marbles, the Mason's team mascot.

As for actual players, I finished Brick and Harmony. Brick is currently the only in-faction "Big Guy" (i.e., model on a 40mm base) who seems to be more defensively orientated. Harmony, on the other hand, is much more offensive based, and is best paired with her sister, Honor, who is the Mason's Captain.

Apart from these finished models, I've got Honor and Mallet to paint, along with Flint, Tower, and Chisel (all of whom I should be picking up this weekend). That'll give me the full sweep of the currently available Masons to work with.

Not shown are the Strange Aeons miniatures who are getting their bases down. I'll work on them when I get tired of painting the KoW miniatures.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Sail the Spooky Seas - Sails of Glory AAR

Last Saturday was supposed to have been one of Bob's big games (Halloween-themed, appropriately), but last minutes problems came up and the event was unfortunately cancelled. Not having anything else to do, (other) Bob suggested we play Sails of Glory. 

The scenario was a simple "line up and fight" game, with my ship-of-the-line Genereux and frigate Unite against Bob's ship-of-the-line Terpsichore and frigate Defence.

The first few turns saw us maneuvering closer together. I was lucky in that I had the wind in my favor, although I made the mistake of assuming that Sails of Glory measures movement from front to front like most other wargames. This turned out not to be the case, and so for the first couple turns I was moving slower than I should have been! This was quickly corrected.

Maneuvering continued. Bob's ships were forced to sail into the wind, slowing their progress. My ships, however, had the wind angled right into their sails, and they plowed through the waves.

When the ships finally closed, their cannons boomed, with wood and men both flying apart, cut into tiny pieces. The Defence, caught between the Genereux and the Unite (which had started the game loaded with double-shot) was quickly shattered and sunk below the waves.

The Terpsichore came to a full stop and began to reverse, as the Genereux and Unite turned. Crews on both sides scrambled to reload their cannons.

Thanks to some poor planning on my part, the Genereux found itself out of the fight, and would spend the rest of the game trying to turn with poor sails and even poorer wind.

Meanwhile, I had sent the Unite after the Terpsichore. I fully expected this to be a suicide run, as even with the damage that had been done to the British ship from the Genereux, I didn't think the Unite's small armament could do much damage. What the frigate could do, however, is do enough damage that the Genereux could come in and finish the fight.

Events turned out a bit different, however. The British ship-of-the-line and the French frigate came close enough that muskets and swords were readied, and the resulting musketry and boarding action left both ships weakened.

As I had expected the Unite to go down after getting into close range, I had ordered for grapeshot to be loaded into the cannons. Now that the two ships were no longer touching, I fired a broadside into the Terpsichore's decks, along with musket fire from what crew remained on the Unite. This last volley was enough to disable enough of the British ship's crew that it could no longer fight. Victory to the French! 

As Bob and I discussed afterwards, Sails of Glory does have its share of problems. Most of that comes from how complicated the game is in some areas (like orders) and how simple it is in other (like movement). It's definitely a game that becomes challenging to run if each player has more than a couple ships under their control. I prefer it the way it was played in my first experience with the game - a large event game with each player controlling their ship. 

But that doesn't mean it can't make for a fun game, and I'm glad Bob decided to bring it out as a replacement. 

As an aside, we also discussed a set of rules Bob is working on to make use of his Dreadfleet models. They sound interesting, using playing cards for movement, activation, and attacking. Hopefully we'll get a chance to play in the future. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

"Friendly" Scrimmage - Guild Ball AAR

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, one of the games that several people are trying to push for in the local scene is Guild Ball. It certainly looks interesting - designed by high-level Warmachine players, and straddling the line between sports game and skirmish game.

Last night, Sean (one of the players in the ill-fated Blood Bowl league I tried running) and I were given a demo by Tom and Keyvn, two of the major backers for the game in the area. 

Since this was a demo game with cut down rules, Sean and I only had three players each

Kevyn brought an absolutely stunning play mat, and was also showing off his resin Alchemist team. 

Since this was a demo game with cut down rules, Sean and I only had three players each with cards that weren't as detailed as the standard versions. I chose the Butchers Guild (with Brisket, Ox, and Boiler), and Sean had the Fishermen Guild (with Siren, Angel, and Shark). 

I tried taking pictures after every turn, but with Sean and I focused on learning the game, and with Tom and Kevyn answering all of our questions and giving advice, the results are a little sparse.

After a dice off, I had won initiative (and would continue to do so for the rest of the game) and elected to receive the ball. I then apparently channeled some kind of inner connection with the Butchers, as I then proceeded to ignore the ball and focus on hitting the Fishermen.

Sean's team proved to be as slippery and quick as advertised, and I was forced to give Broiler the ball, instead of Brisket (who is the Butchers' best ball-handler).

Brisket was engaged by Siren, and Ox charged into Shark, and Broiler was left alone for the moment as Angel had been forced to retreat after taking a severe beating.

This gave Broiler the chance to pass to Brisket. Shark, however, dodged away from Ox (who ran after him, but ended up just out of reach) and engaged Brisket as well, tackling her and taking the ball away.

Brisket responded by tackling Shark during her activation, getting the ball back.

During the next turn, I loaded Brisket up with Influence (the resource that models in Guild Ball both generate and use to make actions). She dodged around Shark, activated her Super Shot ability, and scored, earning me 4 Victory Points.

I then learned how insane the Fisherman's passing game can be. Once a team scores, the ball is thrown up to 10" back into the field from the goal zone in a direction of the goal-owning player's choice. Sean had set up his team so that Siren received the ball, passed it to Angel, who then shot and scored a goal! In just a couple activations, it was a tied game. 

In doing so, however, Sean had left Shark in the middle of a Butcher scrum, and the Fishermen Captain was quickly knocked out. That earned me another two Victory Points for a total of six - enough to end the demo game. 

If I'm honest, I was pretty much hooked about a third of the way through the demo. The game is fairly complex, but no more so than what I remember having to deal with when I played the first version of Malifaux years ago. My Influence management was poor until the very end, but it was a learning game, and I did start to get the hang of it. 

Tom gave me some paper cut-outs for the Masons (apparently a very balanced team), and I want to try the full version of the Butchers as well before deciding to put down money for these (relatively expensive) miniatures.