Saturday, November 26, 2022

Man of War

Bruce graciously put on a game of Man of War, hauling out his lovely collection of GHQ ships. This is a very slick system with movement triggered by one's speed (the faster you go, the more times you move in a turn--akin to the activation system in the old fighter-plane game Mustangs). Movement is interspersed with five shared firing phases. So the challenge is to maneuver so you can take advantage of (and not be screwed by...) the occurrence of the firing opportunity. I imagine Bruce has tweaked the rules some but I can't recall what the tweaks were.

Our scenario was a smaller but better quality French fleet (foreground) having the wind gauge on a British fleet (background). The wind is running left to right across the picture above and is abeam the one French ship that is cutting hard to the right all on its own. In my mind, I call this game "oh shit, the wind shifted" and this was no exception

So we get get moving and the second turn I roll a wind change in direction (it is now coming from the right, angling along the hex grain to the left) and it has dramatically weakened. This is a very unlikely event. Bruce has just turned his fleet to try and take the wind gauge away from me and this change basically catches him in irons, partly becalmed, and creates a major traffic jam (basically, he is now screwed). Despite my sympathy for his situation. I am proceeding to take full advantage.

Picture above of pretty ships with a speed counter on in. Speed ranges 0-7 hexes per turn--speed 4 for a big ship is pretty fast.

I manage to get a group of ships around the end of his line an start doing rear rakes. Some lucky rolls and he has two ships awash. My effort to board isn't successful, however.

Over on the left, I'm trying to get ships around the front for more rakes and put him in a box. The wind has just left him with no good options except to fight it out until he can get turned around and run.

In the end, one of his awash ships strikes it colours and that causes a cascading morale failure (a second seton unlucky dice for Bruce) and his fleet breaks contact. Probably a pretty decisive (and lucky) victory for the French.

Overall, one of the better sets of rules. Maneuver is slow and grinding, wind position and crew quality really matter, unusual things (like boarding actions) are risky and unlikely to occur. The mechanics create command and control limits that seem realistic while still giving players some difficult choices around movement and combat. The firing mechanic (basically, if you fire now, you have to skip the next firing phase to reload that side), in particular, make for tough choices.

Up next: A different era of naval operations.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Crimean Russians Advancing

Despite a slow week at the painting table, I finished off the first of two batches of 28mm Crimean Russians from Foundry.

These are the advancing pose. Nothings special about them (beyond their sheer number). I managed to step on one fellow and his bayonet cut quite a gouge in my foot!

Up next: Lego naval ship?

Saturday, November 12, 2022

Some Pulp Alley Musketeers

I dropped in on Bruce to play some Pulp Alley. He was keen to try out a new solo-play chart he'd created to go with the solo deck he'd bought. Basically, you roll 3d6 for each NPC unit and cross reference against proximity to enemy (different chart for each type of NPC) to determine what they do. This is an alternative to players just making the 'most sensible' move for NPCs during a solo game. Overall, it worked well.

Bruce set a lovely table. I think I snapped this at the end. The four musketeers came on on the bottom of the frame with the baddies starting at random spots (mostly on the far edge). There were four minor plot points (various articles belonging to the queen). Once a side had on minor plot point (1 point each), they could then hustle to the tavern, climb the stairs and try to convince a noble to join them (four points).

Almost immediately, two musketeers ran into a group of the Cardinal's goons in the woods while trying to rescue a lady in waiting. The musketeers sent these fellow packing but the random dice meant that one of the musketeers spent the rest of the game here dueling and buying time for the rest.

A second musketeer grabbed the queen's diary and with two minor plot points in the can, everyone made for the tavern, the cardinals' goons in hot pursuit.

A big barney in the woods tied up a lot of the cardinal's resources. One musketeer ran into the tavern and up the stairs before getting cut off by some goons. Two more musketeers jumped through the door and put the boots them.

In the end, the musketeers managed to (barely) get the noble and two minor points out the back door. There were no casualties among the musketeers and three among the cardinal's forces so we gave the game to the musketeers.

Overall, the random reaction table workers well, adding unexpected events and limiting the helicopter god effect. The solo deck was also pretty effective, penalizing or rewarding in random (and annoying) points.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Even more Russians with helmets

More Perry Russians for Crimea. This time in the shooting pose.

Nice sculpts also likely suitable for colonial adventures into the 1920s and 1930s. Just an overwhelming number of figures to paint. 

Thank Cthulhu I can just spray on the beige and detail.

Up next: Unless I go blind, we'll have more Russians. This time a huge number in the advancing pose.