Time to change gears?


No minis update here. You'll have to wait a couple of days to see where the state of painting has gotten.

Thanks to an Amazon book coupon around last Black Friday, I picked up a copy of Gaslands. I like the general concept of the Osprey rulebooks - they supply the rules, it's up to you to get whatever is needed to play. It hearkens back to the days when I would read rules just to learn how a game came together with no real intention of ever playing (I don't know if this started with Star Frontiers or Gangbusters, both read through and through but never played). When I got the Gaslands book, along with the some other stuff, I did my usual thing of flipping through to see what it looked like before putting it on a shelf and mostly forgetting it was in the same house as I.

This morning during my breakfast & internet surfing I saw mention of Gaslands on one of the Board Game Geek forums. Huh, I have the rules for something with that name. I wonder if it's the same game? Other people have heard of it? Why yes, I am not the only person in the world to order a book! Before long I was perusing the Gaslands website to see that instead of downloading and printing all of the doo-dads for the game I could buy higher quality doo-dads for the game. I do love my doo-dads.

As of now, I've not yet ordered any doo-dads.

My reason for originally getting the Gaslands rulebook was to see how it fared against my all time favorite automotive combat game, Steve Jackson's Car Wars. While the excuse Jerry and I had for dropping Car Wars was that it had become bloated with a decade of additions and errata, we never really played the basic game correctly. Game rules have become a lot more streamlined since 1985. Maybe you can have the feel of cars zooming around without 3 pages of graph paper to keep track of what you need to know about your car and driver.

Now to see how inspired I am to actually try out a little mini-scenario with these rules and see how they feel. Imagine. Me. Playing a game.

So weird....

boardgames hobbies

Thunderbolt Apache Leader Boot Camp


After a long break, I finally played a game. A solo game. A game I've never played before. With all the minis painting I've been doing, it's even a game with no minis! Thunderbolt Apache Leader is a solo wargame that's been around for a while, and all the solo wargamers love it. It's a little complicated (so the reviews go) but not impossible to pick up. It's been a while since I learned a new game, but thanks to a well written manual and a handful of YouTube videos I had a decent grasp of what I needed to do.

The game has a campaigns and missions within those campaigns. Each game-day you pick enemy battalions to attack, with the makeup of that battalion defined by a card. Attack those units and units attack back. Destroy a certain percentage before you run out of fuel. Sounds simple, doesn't it?

Phase 1 is picking the campaign - I selected the introductory Iraq campaign, hoping it would be easier. Next the situation (mission) is picked, which will give the number of points available for both sides to pick forces.

Phase 2 is picking which enemy battalion to attack, which leads to setting up the map, deploying forces, and getting ready for havoc.

This leads to phase 3 - havoc.

There are plenty of rules, and I'm not going over the rules. There's rulebooks and YouTube videos for that. I picked a mission to go after an Assault Battalion. I was supposed to defeat 2 battalions in 1 (game) day for the scenario win conditions, but this is a learning session so I threw everything at the enemy. I had 1 Warthog, 4 Apaches, and a Cobra all loaded out with ordinance. I went out on the attack and things started out pretty good.

Unfortunately I didn't pay attention to enemy ranged attacks and line of sight.

The 2nd turn was horrible. My 1st 4 units that attacked, which consisted of 7 individual attacks, ALL MISSED. When flying a Warthog through hexes of 4 enemy units and you're counting on dropping bombs that will destroy everything in a hex, you should really HIT AT LEAST SOMETHING. This started a barrage of being attacked not just by units in the same hex, but usually by 1 of not 2 more hexes (since they didn't get destroyed in the last turn like they should have).

Units got damaged to the point where penalties made it impossible for them to hit enemy units. I forgot that I needed to leave the map by the end of turn 5, which meant units needed to be facing a certain way to leave the map instead of on an attack run in the wrong direction. I kind of laughed at that one, though.

While the details in the pics aren't any use below, they give a decent idea of how things move along.

The end of mission results added an extra stress on the return to base phase. When rolling the Bingo dice for the final batch of stress, poor Hammer did not fare well again, and ended up with a total of 13 stress (he's unfit to fly at 5).

The enemy force was reduced to half strength (20 or fewer points remaining on the map, there were 15) which was a moral victory as I got nothing else from it game-wise. In the campaign this would affect another mission setup though.

Under the mission scenario I was supposed to defeat 2 battalions on the first day. I deployed all of my troops after 1 battalion, leaving nothing for a 2nd attack on the first day. While I didn't lose the mission outright, I didn't win either. Granted, it was my first time to play and I really shouldn't have won, but I thought deploying everything I had would give me a better chance. Better than I ended up having, at least.

Now that I've played the game I can understand why it's gotten such good review. It's a fun game, especially for a solo game. Multiple times I said "aww, come on!" when things didn't go my way (did I mention the turn where NOTHING HIT?). There's a lot to keep up with but the game board does a good job of helping keep track what happens and in what order. After the 1st turn I was going through the motions like I'd been playing for a while.

Setup takes a while. There's lots of little chits to keep up with, sort, and assign. I've got to find a good way to store all of this so it doesn't take me an hour to go through everything and find what I need to start the next game.


January Update Time


The past few weeks have been scarce of any type of update, which may be the norm for a while. I've been staying just busy enough to forget anything interesting enough to post here on a regular basis. Give me time and I can save up, though!

One of my Christmas projects was to stick my house number on the front door so that maybe the @%@#$% FedEx guy can find my house. I wanted something a little classier than the stick-n-peel numbers you usually see on the mailbox, so I got metal stick-n-peel numbers from Amazon. The front door is metal so I couldn't screw anything into the door. I stuck them on when it was in the 20's outside, and so far they've remained stuck!

Speaking of 20's, it was cold one morning when I arrived at work. I tend to just get up and go to work when I wake up in the morning if the alarm hasn't gone off yet (which is set for 6:00). This particular morning I woke way too early and pulled into the parking lot at 6:00. I thought 6° at 6:00 had a nice sound to it. Almost as good as the time I heard a weatherman say it was "2 below in Tupelo".

Speaking of work, I'm loving working at the Dealnews thus far. I managed to finish Phase 1 of my office setup this week. Besides my work-centered Mac, I've got my old Vista powered laptop from home set up as my DVD ripper. All of those TV shows I've got and never get around to watching... well now I can have them sitting around on hard drives not being watched.

My main need for having a work office is game storage. I'm trying to keep games that have a higher probability of being played by the DN crew close at hand in the office. X-Wing is a pretty easy game to bring out. It's pretty and moves fairly fast once you get your forces picked and configured.

Formula D, from the top shelf, made it to the table for play last Friday. We had a 4-player, 1 lap race. It's the first time I've ever seen anyone start in last place yet end up winning. Even better, I was the person that started in last place. After the race, I looked up the rules we played wrong (set up cars with 30 points instead of 20, braking damage wasn't distributed amongst as many components as it should have been), but we were all playing by the same rules so it shouldn't have made too much of a difference. It was a fun game nonetheless. Hopefully we'll get to playing with some season rules so that finishing in something other than first place makes a difference.

My walking has slacked off thanks to working and the weather. It's harder to factor in a good walking time when working 8 hours and the sun going down around 5:00. This past week I've started to get back on a 3-day walking schedule. Now I have to keep it up - at least for another week!!!

For Jerry & Keith's gaming Christmas presents this year, I went the cheap(er) & hobby route. For our Frag game I decided to get some non-Frag figures, in this instance some Infinity figures. I painted them and mounted on some 3rd party bases, giving each a different color around the base edge in case it would make a difference. Jerry got the orange & green alien (possibly a chick) on the upper left, with Keith getting the goateed swordsman in the middle. I got myself the last one, which reminds me of Beachhead from the GI Joe comics.

Those are your 2015 Russellmania highlights thus far.

boardgames gaming miniatures random

For Want of a Widgey


My board game playing has been lax the past few months. My gaming with Jer & Keith has dwindled to where the last time all 3 of us played was back in March. Keith and I have played a few games since, even joining some of the Dealnews gang for some game nights. Overall though, my gaming interest has waned this year.

Maybe it's cyclical? In 2005 Jerry and I started playing games again after a 10 year hiatus. That 10 year hiatus followed a 10 year run of game playing. Granted, the last few years of that run were sparse in playing. Now we're closing in on the end of another 10 year run of playing.

I know part of my problem is due to the type of game I enjoy. I'm very much an Ameritrash gamer. Games that ooze theme and lots of pretty pieces appeal to me. The drawback for these is that generally the rules are thick and take a while to learn, plus the time and effort to set up all of those pretty pieces for a game. When you want to play a quick game of something for the first time, the games I like take longer to set up and learn than to play. There have been many times where we've learned partway through that first game that the game in question just isn't for us, which leads it all to feel like a wast of time.

The games we've played lately have been quick, semi-abstract (to me) games like Splendor, Quantum, and Smash Up (which was completely over my head). All are good games and enjoyable in their own right, except for Smash Up - it's going to take me a while to get the hang of that one as there's a lot more going on that I originally thought there would be. These games play more as a classically thought board game in that you, as the player, don't immerse yourself into the game via an avatar.

Immersion into the game is more fun more me. It tends to lead toward more social interaction, which is the real reason I play board games. Ticket To Ride is a lot easier to play on a computer or iPad and let the software take care of all the bookkeeping, but it lacks the fun of taunting and goading other players as well as cursing them to their face when a route you want is taken. While I don't feel like I'm the train in Ticket to Ride, I feel more ownership of the routes I'm placing which puts me in the game. Maybe it's because pieces aren't picked up and moved, but placed and forever stay? I hadn't really thought of that before now....

The games I've most enjoyed of late have been those in which I immerse myself. Star Wars X-Wing has been the game I've been playing the most, and each time I feel like I'm in a dogfight inside a Star Wars movie. The X-Wing game has led me to find that I'm a fan boy of the publisher, Fantasy Flight Games, which I've come to think of as the President of Ameritrash as all of their games reek of theme, have lots of pretty pieces, and even better - most of them have expansions which pile on even more theme, pieces, and rules.

It's those expansions which may be burning me out on the games I enjoy. As with Car Wars in the 80's, enough content can be added on to a game as to make it encompass so much that it gets bogged down to where it's almost unplayable. But, I don't want to get behind in the rules or miss some cool new thing, so I have to keep up with the expansions. Expansions I end up not caring about or using, but my completest gene of acquisition forces me to collect.

With all of the above, I still like board games. I don't want to get rid of the closet full of games I've still yet to play. I feel a little guilty for not playing as much as I think I should, but forcing myself to play isn't really fun, and shouldn't playing games be fun?

boardgames rambling

Small World


Last night was a semi-impromptu game night at Keith's as he celebrated his wife and youngest daughter vamoosing for a week. I joined Lord Ford and Squire Brady for a game of Small World, which none of us had played against other people. iPads, sure. In fact, I've never come close to winning on the iPad. Against the AI. On easy. I wasn't holding out much hope against people. Real people.

The best thing about playing a real board game vs an electronic version is that although the electronic version will keep up and enforce the rules, there are tangible parts that I, as a player, tend to overlook when playing the electronic version. While playing the physical game Sunday night, I learned that the most important part of Small World I had been overlooking was the special attributes of the race(s) played during the game. There's no [easily found] reference for the race traits on the iPad, while the game we played had nice little reference sheets. Perhaps even more important, I would study those sheets while Keith and Brady were taking their turns.

At game's end, I managed to come out ahead:

After the game, I was re-strategizing my final turn since the final scores were so close. On my final turn I picked a race that came with a 1 point bonus, which was donated by Keith the previous turn in order to skip that race and pick the next. When randomly picking evil forces to overthrow on my last turn, I attacked one of Keith's which gave me 1 point and took away 1 from Keith.

If the above 2 actions hadn't happened, I would have scored 2 less points and Keith would have score 2 more points. Hence:

We were all learning how to play for real, but the game was almost decided by a couple of options on the last turn. I'm not sure if that's good - players don't know each other's scores until the end of the game, so you can only guess how you're scoring relative to each other. Then again, a close game is more fun to play than one where someone runs away with the win. As it was, I think it was a fun little game, though.

Of course, had those 2 points between me and Keith played out differently, Brady probably would have scored an extra 10 somewhere.


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