21 June 2015

Chain of Command: Eastern front village assault

In our last game of Chain of Command, Johan and I decided to try out the advanced vehicle rules. That is, fielding multiple vehicles and designating one of them a senior commander who can control several vehicles with his command initiatives.

As such we ignored the regular "support option" restrictions, and fielded the following forces:


Germans:

Panzergrenadier platoon (regular) Force Morale 10
1x Panger G (Senior officer, troop commander)
1x StuG G with schürzen
1x Stug G
1x PzIII Lwith schürzen

1x SdKfz 234/2 Puma

Soviets:

Tank rider platoon (regular) Force Morale 10
1x KV1 (Senior officer, troop commander)
1x T-34 Obr1942/43
1x T-34/85
2x SU76
1x 57mm ZiS2 AT gun
1x 45mm L66 AT gun
The table was heavy with terrain,  the center made up of a eastern front type village, and the right flank the outskirts of a town. The scenario played was "Attack on an objective", which was the city outskirt held by the Soviet side.

German forces entered the table west of the village, while the Soviets were deploying inside the village and the city outskirt. 

German infantry deployed west and south of the village, but waited for tank support before proceeding towards the enemy, By that time the Soviet side had deployed two squads flanked by the ZiS2 AT gun in the village, making it quite difficult to approach it. The Germans split up in smaller teams and attempted their attack, supported by tanks. Ambushing Soviet infantry fired from the buildings and stalled the German infantry while the AT gun hit the advancing StuG square in the frontal armor which caused it to go stop dead in its tracks, the Junior commander being wounded and the driver panic!

18 June 2015

Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt review

Back in August 2014 I preordered the game and was waiting with great anticipation - then the game was delayed to May 2015... When it finally did arrive I was affraid that the hype and my own anticipation would have killed it for me. Fortunately, the Witche 3: The Wild Hunt somehow made it to release and onto my harddrive and delivered a mindblowingly good game that is everything I wanted since playing Witcher 1 and 2.

To begin with, the greatest addition to the game is the open world which allows writer Andrzej Sapkowskis world come to life in this video game adaptation. Now Geralt is no longer led through tunnels or isolated map sections, he can travel on foot, horseback or with boat across a gigantic map that rivals the one in "Skyrim". The attention to detail in the shifting environments, locations, small villages or just isolated huts in the middle of the wilderness is amazing. There is a "lived in" feeling about it all, and coupled with the eastern European touch you get locations that are set apart from other generic fantasy locales. Among many such locations that I love in this game is the castle belonging to a self proclaimed baron - it sits atop a hill and is half in ruin but still populated

The politics of the Witcher universe have been amped up for the third installment, persecution of wizards, civilians butchered by soldiers and roads lined with hanged victims add a gritty and dark atmosphere to the game. The countryside is war torn, and along the frontline which have recently seen heavy fighting you can expect to see soldier camps, piles of dead, ghouls eating corpses, executions and civilian despair. 


We also see a welcome return of the "monster hunting quests", Geralt can take on numerous contracts ranging from solving a haunted house problem to tracking down and killing huge monsters out in the wilderness. Some of these quests have several layers and steps before they can be completed and frequently tell a immersive story about a place and its inhabitants.

The side quests are also wonderfully constructed, written and voice acted.  Having played nearly 52 hours I have only completed 33% of the game according to the Good Old Games meter. I've consciously kept myself barely involved in the main quest in order to explore the vast and rich world that the game offers. Like in earlier games, quests can range from serious and shocking to hilarious comedy material - which is a welcome mix. What both types of quests combine and constantly offer is giving Geralt moral choices, should he kill the target or just let someone off with a warning. Down the road you often find out the consequence of your actions, and it is far too late to reload your savegame. This is a strength of the Witcher games, and keeps your making of choices relevant and you on the edge.

17 June 2015

Empire of the Dead: Clickers vs Bedlam Brotherhood AAR

Last week I printed out the Empire of the Dead: Requiem PDF which I received as part of my Kickstarter pledge. I've had the PDF on my PC for a few weeks but it wasn't until I printed it out and began reading it through that I realized what an amazing book and resource for EotD it was!

The amount of new stuff, factions and rules is amazing. My girlfriend became interested and started browsing the book, and having already played the game before she wanted to try out a campaign with a new faction - the Bedlam Brotherhood. I myself was interested in giving the Clickers a try - though I lacked the miniature for Professor Jerusalem (which was supplemented by a Malifaux miniature from my collection). I later found that the Professor Jerusalem mini is available for sale as a standalone character from West Wind and put in an order for it and some armed brothers, which I hope will show up sometime next week.

Anyway, the two lists played were:

Clickers, played by me:

Professor Jerusalem (no extra gear)
Three rural Clickers, (2x with a sawed off shotgun, and 1x with a portable gatling gun
Two Flyders
Harvester

Bedlam Brotherhood, played by Caroline

Parson, w volley gun

Tank, w light pistol, bludgeon
Eat My Bear, w heavy pistol
Nipper, w Shotgun
Ninja Bob, w sword and light pistol
Nadezhda hired character
Lightning Jack hired character

The scenario was treasure hunt, and the board presented us with a large ruin in the middle with 5 scattered treasure markers inside.

The scenario called for splitting forces and playing Clickers for the first time I think I played them a bit wrong. The Harvester should have spawned Flyders and Professor Jerusalem should have called forth Clickers instead of me deploying them all on opposite sides of the table (the deployment that was generated).

Both sides moved towards the ruins, but the Clickers made it inside first and started tearing up crates and coffins in search of the rumored hidden treasure.  Members of the Bedlam Brotherhood swooped in on the flanks and began a firefight with the Clickers targeting them with Lightning Jack - and his scary lightning pistol firing jumping bolts of electricity which made the Clickers spread out to avoid taking multi damage. Professor Jerusalem was hit with a bolt of lightning and retreated not to cause a instant defeat (if she goes the Clickers leave the battlefield!). The Clickers retaliated by firing their sawed off shotguns, hitting hard and forcing the attackers to take cover.

Professor Jerusalem attempted to cast Killing Gaze but the opposing characters proved to me too hard to affect with her magic, their Arcane level matching hers. Instead Flyders were sent in to tie up some loonies in combat. Eat My Bear was fighting off one Flyder for several turns, with dramatic back and forth action where both he and his opponent went down, only to stand back up in the following maintenance phase.

Nadezhda charged the Harvester and was likewise fighting it for multiple turns, taking a wound before finally managing to land a killing blow to the face of the machine. With the Harvester down,
the Flyders began moving off table, one of them was still tied up in combat with Eat My Bear and was destroyed in the 2vs1 combat against Eat My Bear and Nadezhda.

One of the rural Clickers managed to shoot Parson, wounding him so badly that he was forced to leave the fight. Another hand to hand combat situation evolved when one Clicker was charged by Tank, and though having the charge and strength advantage Tank was knocked down, and later tied up. Lightning Jack was nearby and waiting for the perfect opportunity to zapp the Clicker when Professor Jerusalem ran around the ruin and emerged from behind a corner - casting "Killing Gaze" at Nipper who likewise had emerged from the opposite corner. The Killing Gaze attack was successful this time and Nipper was knocked out of the game.

Ninja Bob fired his pistol and scored a critical hit on one rural Clicker, shattering the machine to pieces.

At this point the remaining Clickers had torn apart the rest of the crates and coffins, finding nothing but dust - there was no treasure
in this ruin contrary to the rumor which had led both factions to this fight!

And with the Flyders gone, the Harvester killed, being down to two Clickers and no treasure left the Clickers decided to withdraw, the Bedlam Brotherhood thought it was a good idea and retreated as well. In the post game sequence, it turned out that Nipper suffered a bad eye injury and go blind on one eye. Parson, the leader, turned out dead when his injury roll ended up being 96!!

The Clickers had also lost a lot of Shillings in destroyed faction members so the withdrawal of both factions after the costly fight could be considered a failure.

Some thoughts:

Mistakes of deployment apart the Clickers proved interesting to play. The Harvester was super fast, with its 8" movement, though I wanted to have it stick near the rest of my units since its death would cause the Flyders to leave the table! At the same time the Flyders were moving faster than normal humans but does not have the "flying rule" which means their movement is slower than other "flying" creatures - save for their added 1D10" charge range. They made up for their slowness with strength and fortitude however so I think the balance was good. The danger of having your entire faction leave the table when Professor Jerusalem is removed from the table also reminds me a lot of a "Necromancer" led army in Warhammer Fantasy, and I quite like this. The character is quite good, but with this rule she will also be the main target.

The only thing felt a bit weird was how fragile the regular Clickers were, but then again, considering the Victorian-era technology they are based on one should perhaps not expect Terminator machines!

Caroline like the "campaign game mechanics" so we will start a proper campaign this coming weekend. While I wait for my real Professor Jerusalem I might play with the Order of the Dragon since I have a bunch of nice miniatures (my medieval weapon conversions of the henchmen) that have yet to see the table. Really looking forward to that, and really happy that I can play Empire of the Dead (and X-wing) with someone who really enjoys the game.

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