Thursday, August 23, 2007

WBC West Report, Day 3

Today was Barbarossa to Berlin day, where everyone played the now-classic GMT CDG. Chuck and I had a game for the ages two years ago at our first WBC-W, and today's game was not far removed. Mike and Tex played the game as well, but neither had played nearly as often as Chuck and I, and it showed in some spectacular ways. Most telling was that Tex lost as the Germans when he failed to have Hitler Declare War when the card first came out, and Mike didn't declare until turn 7. By the time Tex got the Totaler Krieg card, he was below 11 points and had effectively lost the game. I'm not quite sure what they did with the rest of their time, as Chuck and I were far too busy staring at our mapboard in yet another tense contest.

I began the game with a very aggressive push by the Germans toward Moscow, helped by the Panzergroup Guderian card in my opening hand and a lot of crap, so I also got the chance to cycle it into the discard pile for the second turn. By the middle of the second turn I was on the doorstep to Moscow, and Chuck had (at most) 8 points in the space, with me having 8 points in panzer armies adjacent. That was when the brainfart hit, and I forgot that urban centers were *not*, repeat, *not* No Retreat spaces. As such, I had about as good a chance as I could want to attack Moscow and push him out, but more importantly kill Stalin. Had I done so, it would have been 4 VP (a near impossible gap to make up by the Allies short of a complete German collapse at the end of the game), plus he would have been dinged 1 RP every time he played a card. Given that I'd played OKW Conference and would have made the attack using Taifun, it really was a criminal mistake on my part.

Chuck's defenses stiffened up, and things started going badly for me. He'd gotten Industrial Evac as his first card play, so the tank armies were on the board by turn 6 and he was drawing an extra card starting on turn 9. Somehow, the Germans managed to get to their 5 VP spaces in the first winter turn, but dropped to 4 for the second. Miraculously, I held onto two spaces for the third winter, and we ran out of time before starting the spring of '44. We're at pretty much historical positions, with the Germans barely holding on in Russia, not too far from the German border, and a mixed British/American force hanging out south of the Cassino Line in Italy. The spring thaw is upon us, so I'll get a chance to play some of the events that need playing (my final German reinforcement, the East Front trenches, and Revenge Weapons for a VP, which I'll need). I figure I have to hang onto something like 5 VP spaces, one of which has to be a supply source, to win at this point. However, I've taken quite a bit of damage, and Chuck has a much better grip on the Soviet positions this game - last time many of his units had been left behind as he pushed forward, but this time they are all in my face. I figure I'll lose one more point this coming winter when I won't have any VP spaces in Russia, although I may make a fortress out of Odessa and see if it can hold out.

One other interesting note: Hitler didn't declare war until Winter '42 (turn 4), so I couldn't play Totaler Krieg until turn 8. What I'd forgotten was that I needed 11 VP in order to play the card, but I made no more than a token gesture in North Africa and was kicked out late in turn 6. When turn 7 rolled around, I realized with some horror that I had 13 VP, and that if Chuck now played Casablanca he would take 7 VP, of which I could recoup no more than two (Tunis and Marseilles). With pretty much no chance of taking back three VP spaces, I would have lost in a rather embarrassing fashion had he had the card in hand. To be fair, Chuck passed up a chance to play Torch earlier in the game, which would have given him the same opportunity regardless of how I was doing. Had I realized my peril I would have brought the Panzer Armee Afrika into play (something I rarely do as I'd rather have that 4 card for OPS/SRs/RPs), and when we play the game again in a couple of years I hope I can remember. Man, that was a close one.

Mike and Tex played on a second edition map, and I have to say that I'll spring for the Deluxe Map just to get this. If nothing else, the rivers are no longer the stupid blue lines crossing the brown lines connecting the areas, but now are dotted blue lines connecting the areas, and much easier to recognize and parse. I don't think the rivers have really come into play much, amazingly, but that may also be because I can't keep track of them easily. Quite annoying, and this is a change I'll make before I play again.

We finally quit around 5pm, relaxed for a bit, then went out for a nice dinner at the Sunriver Grill, then went grocery shopping for a few supplies. We got back about 7pm, when Chuck explained Runebound 2nd Ed for Tex and I (quite nicely, I must say - we had very few questions during our game play), and we played until about 11pm. RB is a fun game, but there is so little interaction between the players that it's a game I'd buy mostly to play solitaire. Tex won when he found the boss monster on the first draw of the red cards, and managed to beat him. Had he failed, I could have won provided I rolled a 10 on the two dice, a statistical probability, or an 8 had one of my two allies survived taking the shots from the dragon in the ranged and melee steps. Since I could do 8 damage using magic, that would have been enough to take out the boss and win, but Tex beat me to it. Still, this looks to be a fun game to pull out for solitaire play, and while I'm still more than a little steamed that FFG didn't provide a reasonable upgrade path for players who'd bought the first edition (me), I think this is a reaction that has done what I wanted it to do. Which means that I want the game. :-/

During Tex's turns, I sorted through my remaining WoW:CCG boosters, 12 in all, and then got all of the cards arranged for easy deck building. I now have enough cards to build a deck for pretty much any class in either faction, which is nice. I still have an unreasonable number of Alliance ally cards, but I figure a little trading will take care of that. I'm somewhat astonished that I have so few duplicates of so many cards, especially from the Heroes of Azeroth series, and even a few purple cards. I'm looking forward to tuning my gnome rogue deck now that I have a good selection of abilities, and even a Horde rogue that I can use if I want. Who thought I'd want to every play a CCG, much less do deck building? Even I'm surprised. The good news is that I don't really feel like I need to buy a whole lot more cards, even with the new series coming out. As such, I'll hold off on the boosters for that set until after the New Year, although I'll probably buy a Molten Core raid deck (and an Oxyania's Lair raid deck) just to be able to play those games multiplayer. With all of these cards, I can probably supply four or five full 60-card decks that would be enough to get the job done, and it would fun to play with those in my group who enjoy CCGs. Both Mike and Chuck liked the game, even though neither plays WoW, so throw in Laurent and Dave and you've got a raid group.

Meanwhile, Chuck and Mike got started with Gettysburg, one of the better Columbia block games. Mike really likes these games, which is good as tomorrow we'll try playing Europe Engulfed, in our case the 1-map '42-'43 scenario. Nothing like the Eastern Front for two days straight. Chuck and Tex will play Nine Navies War, the alt-history Great War version of War at Sea. We'd played this a few weeks ago, or at least the three turn introductory scenario, and it was quick and fun, although they'll probably run their game a little longer. I'm not sure when Chuck and I will finish up our BtB game, but when we do I'll post the results. Night play should be Age of Empires III, which most of us are looking forward to. Unfortunately, Tex doesn't seem to be terribly interested in a Combat Commander tournament, so that may not see as much play as I'd like, although I figure Mike and I will probably get in a game tomorrow afternoon assuming we finish EE within five hours.

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