Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WBC West 2009 Prep - Part 3: Contact With The Enemy

We're less than three weeks out from starting our annual "WBC West" nano-con, and already we're learning (again) that life happens. For professional reasons, Eric had to delay his arrival by about two and a half days, so pretty much everything from Tuesday through Thursday had to be replanned. That wasn't such a big deal for the guys playing two-player games, but it did affect those playing three-player games. Aside from Eric, that pretty much meant me. Here's the breakdown of how things changed and how they've affected my planning and prep:


Originally this day was to start with Dave and I playing Flying Colors, Eric arriving around noon, and then a game of Friedrich. Now it's Dave and Doug day, with us starting with War Galley in the morning, then moving on to Flying Colors in the afternoon, very similar to what Dave and Chuck played last year. Chuck recommended WG first, as he felt that his head was hurting in the afternoon with so many ships to deal with. 

What this does to my planning is to add a new ruleset to my schedule, albeit one that has a lot of similarities to Flying Colors. I haven't looked at the rules in years, but I recall that they're not terribly thick, perhaps a notch above FC (which are what I'd at this point in my wargaming career call "light") in terms of complexity. We may shoot for this game having few ships and the FC match having more, although there really aren't that many good engagements in FC at the counter density I'm looking for (about 10-15 ships per side) that don't have two levels of audacity differentials or anchored ships. Jesse and I are planning on a play in the near future to get FC under my belt, but WG will require more work.


Originally, this was to be Napoleonic Wars with Dave and Chuck, but now it's Mike and my day, which was Thursday. We've agreed on Market-Garden: Monty's Gamble and either Texas Glory or the new Wallace wargame, Waterloo. Wow, that's a lot of w's. On the one side, if I play TG it will be the only block game I'll play all week, and MG:MG is always intriguing. On the other hand, Waterloo (due out in the next week or two) looks very intriguing. For one thing, you get a set number of actions you take during your turn, but you don't know if it's 2 or 5 or some number in-between. However, your opponent knows, and is just waiting to tell you when you've used your last action, right between the two actions that *had* to be done together. Maybe TG will end up as an evening game, or maybe played on Sunday...

The effect on my prep is minimal, as Mike and I were going to play something on one of these days anyway. We decided that Musket and Pike was a ruleset too far. MG:MG is something we've both played on more than one occasion, TG has a very streamlined ruleset with a lot in common with other Columbia Games titles, and Waterloo is also low complexity. I will need to do a quick review of MG:MG, though.


Originally, this was Here I Stand. There's some chance that Eric will arrive on Wednesday evening, in which case we'll go ahead and keep this in the rotation. If he doesn't come, Chuck and I will get our wargaming day. We've gone around and around on what to play, but I think we've finally decided on Iwo Jima: Rage of the Marines and Red Dragon Rising. For a variety of reasons, I'm giving Chuck the choice on these games, and we'd picked IJ as an area impulse game at a time when I didn't have one on the slate (we'd also considered Monty's Gamble as well to make Mike jealous, but he got the last laugh on that one). RDR is a magazine game from S&T that got some very good buzz, and Chuck and I tried it out a few months ago. My attitude was that it was a nice simple area-based wargame with air/sea/land components with a neat system, although it didn't grab me as much as I think it grabbed Chuck. I'm happy to try it again and we'll see if the random events don't help Chuck out more than they did last time. 

The effect on my prep isn't too bad. I've not even read the rules for IJ before, and there are a lot of different mechanisms than in other area impulse games (hidden movement for the Japanese, who are largely holed up in caves), but the basic system will be familiar. RDR will require a quick read-through of the rules at most. Of course, IJ will go near the end of my prep cycle, as I will want to know Eric's plans before committing to the learning process, which will include a solitaire run-through if I can swing it. 

 The final problem I have is getting Alex up to speed on a few things. My nephew, he's coming in on Thursday night and so will be participating in the gaming on Friday and Saturday with George, Matt R, and Dave. George was originally calling for Pax Romana as a three-player game, but with four there's now more of a push for Sword of Rome. The ruleset is clearly much more straightforward, but Alex has never played a CDG and every side requires a different subset of special rules and play style. We're going to try to find a time to get together to play and get the concepts lined up for him. I have no idea what else they plan to play. This is not to say Alex isn't a smart guy (he is, and he wins as much as anyone in our group), but he's had limited exposure to wargames and CDGs in particular, so there's a bit of a learning curve for him here. I'm also hoping that he has more interest in ancient battles than he does in WW2 (I think his primary choice would be either sci-fi or fantasy, so not a lot of good choices in my library there). 

So, at this point I have the following to bone up on, in rough order of when I plan to work on things, based on how well I'll need to understand the system:

Prepped (Once-Over At Most):
Unhappy King Charles
Combat Commander
Command and Colors: Ancients
Monty's Gamble: Market Garden
Red Dragon Rising

In Process:
Flying Colors
Halls of Montezuma

Needs Work:
Age of Conan
EVE Conquests
War Galley
OCS/Case Blue
Texas Glory

Wow, that's a lot of work. I better stop typing and start reading/soloing!

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