A lack of time and motivation.

In Board Game on 05/22/2014 at 8:32 am

As you know, I recently got a new job. I love my job. Even the bad days at work aren’t all that bad. But…

I had a writing schedule all mapped out. It allowed me to bring you something new almost every day, and it worked for a while. But paying the bills is far more important right now, so when I am scheduled for work, I don’t have the time to write here. Not only that, but it’s a flexible schedule job, so I can’t really plan around it.

And then there is motivation, or the lack thereof. When I do have time to write on my days off, I sit in front of this screen and nothing comes to mind. Yes, I could write a review of another of the games on my shelf, but which one? There are a hundred other places to go that do things better than here. Go see “The Dice Tower” or “Watch it played.” I do, when I have a few minutes at a time available.

I’ve tried to keep up with this, but in the end, I think it time I focus on the new direction life is taking me in. Thank you for following me, and checking in to see if I;ve done anything new. Maybe one day, I’ll get back into the swing of things, but I couldn’t tell you when.

Have fun, and thanks again.

Space Combat Games I’ve Played

In Space combat on 05/05/2014 at 1:16 pm

At this point, if you’ve read very much of my blog, you know I am a big fan of Star Fleet Battles.  Today is not about SFB. Today I’d like to talk about all of the other games I have played over the years. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite here.

First, a definition: When I refer to Space Combat games, I am referring to games where players control individual spacecraft in a tactical environment. Games like Twilight Imperium do have space combat, but it is very abstract and it is not the focus. I’m referring here to games like Star Fleet Battles, where the scale of the game is such that maneuver becomes important and the best players are the ones who understand the rules, and can out maneuver their opponents. In this case, Star Fleet Battles is among the top games of this category.

Silent Death
Iron Crown Enterprises

At first glance, Silent Death bears a lot of similarities to Star Fleet Battles: It is grid based, and you have to be able to put your targets into the optimal arcs of fire to be able to win. However, there is no energy management system, and most of the ships are fighter scale ships. The vast majority of the weapons are forward mounted, meaning you have to maneuver as if you were in a dogfight, and the one who can slip in behind his opponent is likely to win. The system is also much simpler than Star Fleet Battles.  When it was on the shelves, you could get some really nice miniatures to go with it.

When you fire on a target, you roll three dice. The more powerful weapons would use larger dice types, while the lesser weapons would use smaller dice. One of the dice represented your pilots skill, and the better he was, the larger the die type he got. Together, the total of the three dice is compared to the armor of the target to see if you hit.

Full Thrust
Ground Zero Games

I have to admit less experience with this one than with others. When I discovered this one, I was still very much a fan of Silent Death, and the simpler record sheets turned me off really quickly.  That’s not to say it’s a bad game, but I didn’t care too much for it. As I recall (and people might take me to task with this), aside for the dice mechanic, it is very similar to Silent Death, except it is supposed to represent somewhat larger vessels.

Majestic 12 Games

The problem with universal games is that when they try to do everything, they don’t do any of it well. After years of playing Star Fleet Battles, I went looking for something easier to use (to be able to fight my friends without confusing them), and almost always found something that fell short of the mark. Starmada is one of those systems.  It just doesn’t compare. Majestic 12 has created a Star Fleet Universe based game (Klingon Armada, Romulan Armada, and Distant Armada), but I have no experience with those.

Sky Galleons of Mars
Game Designer’s Workshop

This game looked cool, if nothing else. It was my first taste of Steampunk, before steampunk became cool. But, it was initiative based, like so many others on this list. And I really don’t like the whole ‘you move, then I move” system most games have.  It’s in large part why I enjoy Star Fleet Battles so much. The little plastic ships were just awesome.

Attack Vector: Tactical
Ad Astra Games

Finally, AV:T. This one is in many ways similar to Star Fleet Battles. You track the levels of your batteries, which you use to fire your weapons. You have to maneuver to put the best weapons into arc at the right time.  It has advantages over SFB: energy allocation is pay as you go, the damage allocation goes fairly quickly, and it does reward the players who know the system well and can get every last ounce of advantage from the game. The only hitch is that it is a fully 3d game.

I don’t mean just miniatures.  In fact, the core game comes with boxes you fold up instead of miniatures (though minis are available). What I mean is that you track your movement vectors in a three dimensional environment.
You place tiles under your ships to indicate their relative altitude above the plane of the map, and use special tilt blocks to visually indicate the angle your ship is facing. It is vectored movement, which means once you’ve spent thrust in one direction, you will continue to move in that direction until you cancel it with thrust in the opposite direction.

The system works very smoothly, and is actually surprisingly easy to play…once you get your head wrapped around it. In fact, this is the only game I’ve ever played that had multiple (as in 8 or 9 of them) tutorials to work through before you play competitively. And that tends to be it’s downfall.  Once you get over the apparent complexity, the game is quick and easy and very tactically deep.

So there you go, a short list of alternate Space Combat games I’ve played over the years. I’m sure I have forgotten some, and of course, if you want to know more about any of these games, I invite you to go to their websites and grab whatever free materials they have available.

The End of an Era

In Board Game on 05/02/2014 at 9:35 am

I just posted the following to Facebook:

I’m in Southern Illinois, USA (Near Marion, where highway 148 and 13 cross).

It almost pains me to do this, but they are sitting in the shelf not getting played. I’m putting up for sale the following:

Attack Vector Tactical. Complete, laminated map, all the pieces are there, and two copies of the rulebook (one being the newer pdf edition that I printed). Lots of extra laminated materials and play aids I printed. The box minis are assembled, and it includes a set of 3D APIDs from boardgamegeek.

Mage Wars: Two complete core boxes, plus two sets of core spell tomes 1 and 2, plus forcemaster and warlord expansion. Two sets of player tokens have been painted different colors because I thought I might get a four player game going once. The starting mages are in their binders, ready to go.

And now for the biggest…Star Fleet Battles Doomsday Edition. You would get all of the counters, a laminated map, all of the SSD’s with date in service, explosion strength, and carrier info written into the margins to make selection easier, and two copies of the rulebook. One copy is a massive, contains everything, edition that I ocr’d from older rulebooks so I could remove all of the extra whitespace. It is massive and includes all of the R section info, all of the scenarios, and so on. The other is the silver anniversary rulebook, 2012 edition, that does not include scenarios or R section. In addition, you get a campaign builders guidebook and a tactics manual, plus captains yeoman. For the record, this includes Basic Set, Advanced Missions, C1 to C4, X, Y, M, S1 and S2, R1 through R9 (I think, I don’t recall if I have R10, and I know I don’t have R11), J1 and 2, and K.

I would rather avoid shipping, so someone local would be keen. I also don’t want to separate any of it, I just want it all gone. I am willing to entertain offers, but only AV:T is likely to go cheap, seeing as how much is here.

If there is any interest, shoot me an offer and we can work out the details.

I don’t want to do Ebay if I can avoid it, as I have an idea of what I want for it, but putting reserve prices on things drives customers away. I will ship, but the buyer has to understand that that will drive the total up considerably. It’s just a big load of paper, and that’s heavy.


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