Wednesday, 3 January 2018

games of 2017

I meant to do this a week ago, but here's the games I played in 2017.

Longstreet - 7 
Bolt Action - 7 
Maurice - 4
Pikeman's Lament - 4
Lion Rampant - 3
ADG - 3
Napoleonic games - 4 (2 of Over the Hills, 1 General d'Armee and 1 Sharp Practice)
Rommel and Flames of War - 2 (one of each)
Napoleonic Naval game - 1 (I think it was a Too Fat Lardies game)
Dystopian Wars - 1
Wings of Glory - 1
Commands and Colors Napoleonic Epic - 2
To the Strongest - 1

And boardgames - 11  
    Russian Campaign - 2
    Stalingrad Pocket - 1
    Squad Leader - 2  
    Battles for the Ardennes - 1
    Yom Kippur - 2
    No Retreat: the Russian Front - 3

Not a bad total for the year.  Here are the highlights (and thoughts on lowlights.)  

The high points. 

An excellent card-driven miniatures game.  I hadn't played ACW games in some 3 years, so we kicked off a Longstreet campaign.  Six of us are enjoying the games and we still have half the campaign to go.  

Bolt Action and Lion Rampant.  
Two skirmish games that continue to be fun.  We also played Pikeman's Lament a few times because it was new, but I think Lion Rampant will be the favourite using that system.  

Commands and Colors Napoleonic Epic
The Epic expansion module is the latest for the game system.  It's good, but a bit more involved and we needed more time to get through the games. I'd like to play more, but I think we're likely to play ordinary CnC and get two games in the one evening rather than play the one big game. 

No Retreat: The Russian Front
This was this years big surprise game.  It's a card supported hex game with counters representing armies and fronts.  I thought it was too high level for my interests, but I've found it to be a great game.  It plays like a normal hex and counters boardgame, but the cards add so much variation to make each game different.  I've played 3 scenarios and last week we started on a full campaign.  A great game, and so much so I bought the No Retreat: Western Desert game which uses a similar system though I've yet to play it.  

To The Strongest
Another surprise of the year. This is a card driven ancients game played on a square grid.  Although we've only managed one game so far, I found the game system really intriguing and fun.  I'm looking forward to trying this again.   

Other good games.
Maurice continues to be great fun.  A card driven horse and musket era game. 
Wings of Glory and Dystopian Wars. Both good games, but we didn't get the time to play more. 
Rommel. An interesting new game from Sam Mustafa, but we've only managed one game so far.

Low points and disappointing games. 
Napoleonic games. 
The chaps at the club flit like butterflies from rule set to rule set.  It gets frustrating, that by the time we've played a game, the next rules set has become the new fad and we get dragged down that road.  I stopped playing that many Napoleonic games even though it remains a favourite period of mine.  

For example, this year we played Over the Hills, General d'Armee and 1 Sharp Practice. If I recall correctly, General d'Armee seemed the most interesting, though despite the title, it's not an army level game. I think there's something about British rules writers that they cannot seem to get beyond a battalion and skirmish level of combat.  It seems like people get vertigo if they even think about the heady heights of higher command. Or maybe they've seen too many episodes of Sharp and think that it's the only representation of Napoleonic battles.   

I also found out what some people have said about poorly written rules by Too Fat Lardies. Early in the year we played their Napoleonic naval game, and we muddled through some of the poorly explained parts of the rules. Then, just to add to the frustration and punishment, the chaps started playing Chain of Command (with similar issues) and latterly Sharp Practice.  I've not tried Chain of Command, but I did find Sharp Practice a bit of a farce. In many key places Sharp Practice is poorly written, vague and a bit like some badly organised brain dump by the author. 

Here's an example. The Sharp Practice rules split infantry into Line and Skirmishers, each with sub-categories.  The rules give fire bonuses to the different types of skirmishers; light infantry, skirmishers and irregular skirmishers. Several people asked if these were cumulative. The author's answer was 'no', but then went on to explain that irregular skirmishers were not skirmishers. And that was it - no further explanation.  

So I'm left asking wtf ... what then are my AWI irregular frontier skirmish riflemen?  They're called skirmishers and classed as skirmishers in the army lists, but you're telling me they're not skirmishers. Bah humbug. Stuff it. I've lost interest in the Lardie jingo-ist and vague waffling approach to rules writing.  

Other than that, the games played this year were all good fun and I'm looking forward to playing many of them again.  Certainly I'm looking forward to No Retreat, Lion Rampant and To the Strongest.  

More later.

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