For Fun

I talk a lot about the game industry but not so much about the hobby of gaming. Here’s what I’ve been playing for fun recently.

Flames of War: I have played this game a lot over the past six months. It plays pretty well, but I have become a bit frustrated with the way armor and infantry interact. I am looking forward to the new edition this summer and I’ll be curious to see how they revise the rules in light of years of feedback.

Descent: This is Fantasy Flight’s super deluxe dungeon bash board game. It may cost $80, but it is packed with stuff. Hundreds of counters, sturdy dungeon tiles, special dice, and a pile of nicely sculpted plastic heroes and monsters. The rules seem a bit intimidating at first, particularly because there are so many different types of counters, but once you start to play the essence of it is pretty simple. A very good game.

Memoir ’44: This is Days of Wonder’s World War II boardgame based on Richard Borg’s “Commands and Colors” system. Man, I love this game. It has become a real standard for me and is great for those nights when you don’t have time to set up a full minis game or the like. I’ve enjoyed the Eastern Front expansion, as the Soviets really do play differently due to the Commissar rule (basically, you have to chose your order a turn in advance, a limitation your opponents don’t have). The Pacific expansion is out this summer and again I am looking forward to it.

Commands and Colors Ancients: As its name indicates, this game uses the same basic system as Memoir ’44 but tailors it to the ancients era. It is definitely more complicated than Memoir ’44, which you’d expect since it’s published by GMT. Still, it does do a good job of simulating the way ancient battles were fought. Missile fire is good for harassing the enemy but you’ll never win a battle with it. The cards encourage you to do things like set up battle lines with your heavy infantry. Even with the expanded rules, you can still play out big battles in less than two hours.

Mutants & Masterminds: Yes, we finally got a second edition game going around here. I haven’t actually gotten to play M&M; in many years and so far we are having a blast. It’s also nice to take a break from GMing all the time.

D&D;: I’m also playing in Tim’s D&D; game twice a month. Our group has had some trouble with players moving to other cities to take new jobs, but things seem like they’ve stabilized. Since GR still publishes d20 material, it’s good to keep up with the joneses.

Warlord: Reaper has at last gotten serious about doing its own miniatures game. The game is in between a skirmish game and a mass battles game. You don’t have formations, but you do have small units. The game itself plays pretty well. It’s attached to Reaper’s fantasy world but it’s generic enough that you could use these for most fantasy settings.

Drunter & Druber: Everyone showed up for game night this week…except the GM. I busted out Drunter & Druber, a German tile laying game I hadn’t played in 5 years or so. Fun little game and it plays quickly. Basically, you are building roads, rivers, and town walls and demolishing buildings as you go. You are trying to protect your own buildings while leveling those of other players. You can destroy any building with impunity except an outhouse. Those you have to call a vote to level. A card counts for as many votes as it has vowels. So “Ja” is worth one vote but “Jaa!” is worth three. Those wacky Germans.

Attack Sub: This is a late period Avalon Hill game pitting NATO naval forces against Soviet subs. It uses a card-based system similar to the excellent Up Front game, but it’s not nearly as good. I played the Soviets and found that I had a hell of a time even getting a lock on a ship, never mind firing a torpedo at one. It seemed like it would be cool, but was a bit frustrating in the end.

Battlestar Galactica TCG: I played through a scripted demo of this game, which isn’t exactly like playing. Basically, you sit there while someone tells you what cards to play. This does give a nice overview of the system, but it’s not like actually playing the game. Anyway, the game looks interesting. Rather than do the obvious thing and have one person play the cylons and the other the human fleet, the game has each player as a faction inside the fleet. As you play cards the cylon threat level builds and eventually there’s a cylon attack. You then flip up a card from your deck and whoever shows up turns out to be a cylon. I thought that was a nice way to recreate an important element of the show. I will try a full game when this is released.

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