Monthly Archives: November 2012

Special Ops #1 – Savage Streets

While I’m working on getting some Advanced Squad Leader content here soon, one of my favorite game companies is Multi-man Publishing.  ASL is one of their bread winners but they also publish a variety of games and publications including Special Ops with the first issue coming out in the Summer of 2011.  In the magazine you’ll find a little bit for everyone and this one includes some game articles and there are also four ASL scenarios (two are for ASL and two are for the starter kits).  What I usually look forward too are the mini-games that are included.  This issue includes including Raphia (which sort of but doesn’t quite require MMP’s Standard Combat Series rules) and the other is Savage Streets which is what I recently set up and messed around with.

Savage Streets simulates the battle for central Stalingrad with an emphasis on the ferry landings that took place between September 14 to September 27th, 1942.  There’s a small amount of old school counters you have to punch out but that didn’t take that long and I was interested to see there are solitaire rules for the game so I set it up and played a couple of rounds.

The solitaire rules didn’t really grab me though and I lost interest after a couple of rounds but I could see this being an enjoyable game with an opponent.  The Germans start with an advantage early but they have to make a quick push and things start to even out and the Germans spread themselves out.  The Germans also have to keep their supply lines open to get the win so that can be a challenge as well.  I thought combat was particularly interesting with the superior side getting more dice but you don’t add them together you compare them on a one to one basis. This can create situations where the inferior fighting force could potentially pull off a major upset.  Plus just by fighting their way through the map, the Germans wear down.

In short, a not complex game (I wouldn’t call it easy though) with some interesting nuances.  It’s also a quick game that doesn’t require a ton of time.  And more importantly, it touches on a very interesting portion of World War 2.

Harry Potter Hogwarts House Cup Challenge Review

This was a Christmas present last year but Harry Potter Hogwarts House Cup Challenge Adventure Board Game has gotten a lot of play in our house.  While most of what we’re doing is Lord of the Rings related now, last school year was mostly a Harry Potter kick and this was one of the few Harry Potter related board games out there.

While on the face of things it looks a little “kiddie” this game is actually pretty deep and a good gate way game to get your kid into board games.  Each player controls one of the four Hogwarts characters (Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and Neville Longbottom) and your goal is to move around the board completing tasks that are signified by cards.  There are three “statistics” that each player builds up for their characters and these are Honor, Knowledge and Skill.  By completing tasks, you either get an increase in your stats, more cards to play or you get victory points which is what you need to win.

Five of the school “years” are signified by the game and early on the cards are easy but as you move through the years, they get progressively harder.  The tougher the cards, the higher your stats need to be to complete it and the richer the rewards.  When the combined victory points of all of the players gets to each 100 increment, a new year starts and more cards are added to the deck.

There are also “special” cards that are either spells or items the players can keep and use sporadically throughout the game.  Also, a “wand” moves from player to player and when you have the wand, you can temporarily increase your stats to help complete a given card.  I also really enjoy the board, although it’s really large so you’ll need quite a bit of space to play this one.  The winner is the person who has the most victory points when the fifth school year is completed.

A fun game and my son really likes it.  It is long though, especially the first few times you play and get used to rules.  Still, it’s easy enough for a younger board gamer and it’s especially fun if they’ve recently gotten into Harry Potter.  One of the problems though is the game looks like it’s out of print and the price point is getting pretty high at least on Amazon although I’ve seen some reasonably priced copies on Ebay.  In short, if you’re looking to buy it, I’d get it now.

Memoir ’44 Blog Back On Line

When I started this site, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to go it alone but I didn’t expect to get help this fast.  One of my favorite games is Memoir ’44 by Days of Wonder.  When I was poking around the net I found an inactive site dedicated to the game and after an email conversation, he’s getting the site back up and running so we’ll be doing some cross promotional stuff.  Look for content on the game both over at Chip’s site, the Memoir ’44 blog, and here.

Legends of Andor Review

I love cooperative games, especially when playing with my son and we have a lot of fun.  I’m also a big fan of Fantasy Flight games so that’s why I really found this  Legends of Andor board game review interesting.   Legends of Andor comes with five scenarios and my guess is, if the game does well, you’ll see some expansions.  The map looks cool although I’m not really crazy about the cardboard stand up creatures although this is the way they went with the Lord of the Rings Board Game in their more recent revision.

I’ve seen Fantasy Flight games at Target here in the Detroit, MI area.  I wonder if we’ll see this one pop up at a retail store.  This game looks great although the price point ($60 on the website) is a bit high for my tastes.

Desolation of Hoth First Force Pack for Star Wars Card Game

Star Wars: The Card Game is coming out soon and just a couple of days ago I speculated as to what the first expansion pack would be.  Well, Fantasy Flight announced today that the first Force Pack is the Desolation of Hoth. It looks like the first series is going to center around Hoth and this is the first pack in that set.  Check out the Fantasy Flight blog for some sneak peaks at some of the new cards.


Blue Cross, White Ensign a New Preorder at GMT Games

Just added to GMT Games’ P500 page is Blue Cross, White Ensign.  I haven’t played this series but it’s third in their Flying Colors Series.  The price point isn’t bad and it focuses on the Russian Navies’ struggles against both Sweden and Turkey from 1770-1807.  What looks intriuging about this game is it looks pretty solitaire compatable.  There’s no graphics yet but if you want a taste, you can check out the other two games in the series, Flying Colors and Serpents of the Seas.

I haven’t played a GMT game in a while.  One of my favorites is Twilight Struggle.  I have Paths of Glory but haven’t played that one yet.

Star Wars The Card Game Preview

I’ve already talked about the Lord of the Rings Card Game but I’m equally excited to see the Star Wars Card Game coming soon.  After a delay, it looks like we’re going to see the game before Christmas and Fantasy Flight is rolling out a series of preview with the first one going up a couple of days ago.

Unlike the Lord of the Rings game which is cooperative, the Star Wars Card Game pits two players against each other.  In this first preview, we get a taste of what went into the decks as well as an idea of what the cards are going to look (i.e. very cool looking).  Also be sure to check out a post from a few days earlier on deck building.  I’m also curious to see what the first couple of expansions are.

This game, as well as Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game Core Set are both going to be Christmas buys so I’m hoping to check out both of these games very soon.

Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation Review

Sticking with the Lord of the Rings theme for a bit more, Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation has been one of our favorite games the last few months.  Each player commands nine pieces each with a unique character from the Lord of the Rings with one side being the light side and the other the dark.  Each piece has it’s own strength value as well as it’s own, unique special ability.  The dark side’s goal is to either move four of their pieces into the Shire (the furthest space for them) or take out Frodo.  The light side’s goal is get Frodo into Mordor.

This game has been compared to Stratego but it’s much more refined then that game.  I hear “simple but elegant” thrown around a lot but this game is just that.  It’s quick to set up and quick to play but each game is just a little different because I usually try to throw a curve ball at my son.  When it works, he then makes an adjustment in the next game and we go back and forth.

In addition to the pieces each having a strength value, each player gets a small deck of cards.  When combat ensues, the players use one card to bolster the strength of their piece and the combined value of the card and the piece is used to determine who won and lost.  There are also cards that allow you to retreat or to even reuse a card you’ve already used.  Card management is also important because as you get through to the end you only have a card or two left so which player kept the “right” card at the end can determine who wins or loses.

I have the older version of the game.  Fantasy Flight did come out with a deluxe edition that incorporates different pieces and more cards.  This is on my list but since both games are out print, the price tag has been a bit high.  Still, if you enjoy Lord of the Rings this is a really nice and quick strategy game to get your kid thinking.  It’s been great seeing my son make adjustments, whether it’s in setting his pieces up or playing one card versus another in a battle.  It’s also one of the few games he doesn’t need any help to beat me.  Fun all the way around.

Lord of the Rings Card Game Resources

One of my favorite websites when it comes to gaming is Board Game Geek.  If you ever want a plethora of information on a given game, check out its Board Game Geek page.  The Lord of the Rings Card Game page has a ton of cool stuff.  There a bunch of videos and some really cool information in the forums.  There are even a few custom scenarios if you’re looking for something new to try.

On Deck – Lord of the Rings Card Game

The next game I’m going to teach my son is Lord Of The Rings: The Card Game.  We’ve played the Lord of the Rings Board Game several times and we’ve even played the more complicated Middle Earth Quest after he watched the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.  With the Hobbit coming to the big screen, I know he wants more so I picked up this game and we’re going to play to make sure he likes it before I buy some expansions for Christmas.

The first thing I liked about this game is it’s cooperative.  While we usually end up playing a lot of game “together” even when we’re opponents, this takes some of the competitive nature out of the game as we work together toward a common goal.  The Core Game comes with four ready made decks and three scenarios you can work through.  The other thing I liked about this game is it’s also designed to be played with just one person.  This let me set it up and go through the game mechanics a couple of times before I sit down with my son and teach it to him.

Each player has a deck of cards as well as one to three heroes.  The heroes are the focus in the game and the deck provides support as the heroes work their way through the scenario.  There are four spheres (Leadership, Lore, Spirit and Tactics) and the game comes with one deck for each sphere as well as three heroes for each sphere.  In your deck you have attachments (think magical items), allies and event cards that you use to help you complete the scenario.

The bad guys have their own deck called the encounter deck.  This deck contains enemy cards, location and treachery cards (think traps) that the players must navigate past.  There are seven stages to each round where each player makes choices as to how they spend their resources, whether to commit heroes and allies to advancing through the quest and then combat with the creatures you encounter along the way.  If you finish the quest, you win.  If your heroes all die or the threat meter moves too high (which means you have a limited number of turns to complete the scenario), then you lose.

There’s some interesting aspects to the game play that you have to consider.  If you commit too many characters to advancing through the quest in a turn, it leaves you open to enemy attacks.  If you travel to a location, it both slows you up and it could result in either (or both) good or bad circumstances.  If you’re used to game like Magic The Gathering, each hero or ally gets one action per turn.  If you use it early during the quest portion, he’s not available when the creatures attack.

I played the first (and easiest) scenario solo and got through it both times although one time was pretty close.  If there’s one knock on the game, I’d say it’s that there’s almost too much emphasis on the heroes and not enough on the deck although I used the same sphere both times so I don’t know if this was different for the other decks.  I’ll report back on this as we play through the other scenarios and get further into the game.

Assuming my son likes the game, I’ll be getting him Lord of The Rings LCG: The Hobbit Over Hill and Under Hill Expansion since he’s really excited about that movie.  The second Hobbit expansion is set to come out pretty soon so I see that in our future as well.