Category Archives: GMT

Rebel Raiders on the High Seas (09/02/14 – Nick)

This was our second play of this game so now it was my turn to suffer the frustration of being the early war Union (had it really been over 6 months since the first!!?). Luckily, C3i 27 arrived from Hexasim the day before our game so we were able to clear up a few of the rule queries from our previous game due to the updated Player Aids and FAQs included with the magazine.

The big picture

The big picture

I built up the Union forces and concentrated on enforcing the blockade (badly!) until the April 1863 turn, when the Union gets 3 dice in Land Assaults (from 1 in 1861 and 2 in 1862). With the Confederates in a land battle rolling 2 dice basic plus 1 for every battery which survives the naval battle and also winning ties, going in as the Union before 1863 takes nerve, luck and a stack of good cards (which I had neglected to have the luck to draw). Added to this is that if there are any Confederate ships present in a river or sea port and the Union is attacking by water they have to be defeated before any land assault can take place.

My attempts on Charleston & St Augustine

My attempts on Charleston & St Augustine

The Union initiates attacks by expending a “cannon pawn” – basically action chits, but they only get 2 free per turn, so if they want to make the full total of 4 attacks per turn they have to have “built” 2 extra pawns in the previous turn – of course, this spending of resources stops them building the Ironclads, Steam Sloops and Gunboats to actually do the fighting.

Island no 10 and Forts Henry & Donaldson

Island no 10 and Forts Henry & Donaldson

My main push was from Cairo into Fort Henry & Donelson, though I did fight a few naval actions down the East Coast, but even when I succeeded and cleared the Confederate navy out my land assault failed. I thought I’d worked out how to take Fort Henry & Donelson by sending in a force to take out the enemy batteries and ships, then sending in a second force to try and take the space through land assault, but this failed through a masterly card-combo from the Confederates. Needless to say, re-rolling any dice or all dice twice with the Confederates winning ties saw me lose the battle.

That damned card combo!

That damned card combo!

The C3i play sheet insert has an errata which limits Johnston to 1 space per movement phase, but if he succeeds in getting put back into the Confederate hand (which he did), then he can pop up anywhere on the map next turn (which he did). We got in 8 turns in 4 hours, so with 12 turns in the full game (perhaps 13 depending on a card play), we’re looking at 6 hours to finish if the game goes the full distance. I had to failed to emulate the Union capture of even 1 Confederate port in the last game (Key West), but now we have played 2 games we think that we can use the recommended 1862 scenario and we would probably get it finished. The later start to the game which places more Union forces in the Gulf of Mexico and thus gives them a better starting position might address our  queries over game balance. That said, it’s a sign of how good this game is that even while getting stuffed I really enjoyed the game. Recommended.

The stacked odds in the Gulf of Mexico

The stacked odds in the Gulf of Mexico

Cuba Libre (19/01/14 – Nick)

For our first get-together in quite a while we settled on a game of “Cuba Libre”, with Nick taking his usual COIN series side of choice, the Government bully-boy faction, while I was those heroes of the revolution, the 26July. We decided to play with the non-player flowchart option – though it probably took a bit longer than us taking 2 factions each, it certainly spiced the game up. The AI for the non-player factions seemed plausible most of the time, although as the Syndicate I would have building casinos quicker (but what do I know – see final scores below….)

Set-up at start

Set-up at start

The first Propaganda came up on the 3rd card and the Government got smacked down a level of support to Reluctant almost immediately, due to the fact that the Directorio AI had reduced their support with Terror in Havana on their first action. With the downgrading of U.S. backing the Government lost Aid and started to become strapped for the resources needed to perform actions with. The Directorio AI was fairly even-handed though, killing a few of my guerillas as well, which allowed the Government to get a foothold in the mountainous Las Villas area – with its population value of 2 this really is a key area for all players. I attempted one attack on it which was foiled by a combination of the Directorio AI and a government momentum card which allowed them to assault and kill my troops as it it were a non-mountainous region. This defeat allowed the Government to gain enough points for a victory just as the third Propaganda card was turned, but the Directorio had the 2nd activation on that last card, and luckily the AI dictated that they performed a Terror op on all cities, snatching the auto-victory from the Government’s grasp.

Havana & Las Villas

Havana & Las Villas

I stupidly enacted the Pact of Caracas event, meaning from now on I couldn’t change the alignment of Directorio regions nor perform any actions which would impact their troops, so this meant I had to go into new regions to try and win support – unfortunately these new regions were crawling with troops and police.  I managed to overrun the economic centres in an attempt to deny the Government resources with which to buy Civic Actions  (swing areas towards support and thus gain victory points), but it was too little too late. The Government was able to pass on the last card before the final Propaganda, giving them 3 resources which they used on civic actions to bring 2 cities back to active support and gaining them the win – just…Final scores Government +1, Directorio & Syndicate 0, 26July -1. I finished last behind a couple of  AI Flowcharts – Che would have been disgusted!

The Mob Casinos rule the cities

The Mob Casinos rule the cities

We both enjoyed this game more than Andean Abyss, probably because the cramped board meant we had to attack each other from the outset, with the victory point scores swinging back and forth. Cuba Libre is certainly very playable with 2 players (more so than AA) and if-and-when we ever get a 3-player session together with our mate the Pope (the one in our Vassal game of Here I Stand) then this would definitely be top of my list, with the AI playing the Mob (Syndicate).

Game end

Game end

Cuba Libre, Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, Longstreet & Saga

My gaming has been restricted lately due to illness, but hopefully I’m on the mend now. One casualty of this was a game of Longstreet which I started but didn’t get to finish – here are a couple of (poor) photos of that game which at least give a flavour of the cards and unit sizes.

Rebs behind a wall

Rebs behind a wall

Union advance

Union advance

Unfortunately I didn’t get to play for long enough to form a concrete opinion on the rules, but I definitely want to give them another try soon.

On a recent holiday from work, I got a few solo run-throughs of “Cuba Libre” from GMT in – though I was a bit lukewarm on “Andean Abyss” (the first game in the COIN series) “Cuba Libre” is much more my thing with a smaller map and a faster playtime. Of course, we’ll need to see how this plays out face-to-face, but I have high hopes for it.

Cuba Libre midway through a solo game

Cuba Libre midway through a solo game

Going back in time to before the long, hot summer, Nick and myself had both been given GMT’s “Rebel Raiders on the High Seas” for our birthdays in June, so it was a no-brainer to try to get it onto the table as soon as possible and we managed this in late June. It was our first trip to sea since a 7 hour marathon “1805:  Sea of Glory” game in October 2009, which we of course failed to finish – “Rebel Raiders” looked more promising in the “finish in an afternoon” category, with 3 hours being the predicted play time. It isn’t a card driven game as such, more card assisted, but gripping none-the-less. The Union have to enforce the blockade whilst at the same time trying to conquer forts and ports by sea and river – the Confederates have to send out blockade runners to bring back goods, giving them victory points which can then be spent on building ironclads, raiders or cannons for port defence.

The east coast as the Union blockade tightens

The east coast as the Union blockade tightens

The Union dice rolling was truly appalling during the game with only Key West falling in the first 2 years of the game, but despite our unfamiliarity with rules we nearly got the game completed, so for once the playtime estimate looks about right.

Cards of the coast of Florida

Cards off the coast of Florida

I have put my non-playing time to some good use by finishing my Scots and Irish warbands for Saga – expect to see these on the table over Christmas in at least one of our usual multiplayer games.

Scots Hearthguard

Scots Hearthguard

Scots Spears

Scots Spears

Irish Hearthguard

Irish Hearthguard

Next Saturday I hope to see a few Saga tournament games at Warfare in Reading, though unfortunately I won’t be playing 😦

Until next time…

Andean Abyss (17/02/13 – Nick & Kevin)

We hadn’t planned to do a boardgame today but the Pope rang up (OK, it was the chap who’s playing the role of the Pope in our “Here I Stand” Vassal game) to say he was free and was there any chance of a 3 player game? A quick look at my shelves revealed “Andean Abyss” and as Kevin had pre-ordered the Afghanistan game in the same COIN series it was an easy choice to agree on. In the 3-player game, one player has to control the AOC right-wing faction and the Cartel drug gangs faction (and achieve both victory conditions at the same time for an auto-victory) whilst one player controls the Government forces and the last player the left-wing FARC guerilla faction. We rolled for who got what and I was the FARC – probably the easiest to play in the 3-player game as a combination of bases and influence would give me victory.

Whole map

Whole map

The key mechanic of the game is that, though it is card driven, the players don’t hold any cards in their hand, but the top card of the deck is revealed along with the card which is coming up next. Each card has the order the players may use it printed on it, and because if you play an action on the current card you miss out on the chance to play on the next card, this leads to some difficult choices – it’s an interesting twist, but because I wasn’t holding any cards I felt the game was driving me rather than the other way round. Into each quarter of the deck a “Propaganda” card (think scoring card from Twilight Struggle) is inserted, then each quarter of the deck is shuffled separately and combined into a deck – this way, you know a scoring card is coming, just not exactly when. Oddly enough, the scoring card was the last possible card out of the first quarter of the deck AND the second quarter of the deck so accusations about the quality of my shuffling and general trustworthiness were being bandied about – ironically, mostly by the Cartel and fascist bully-boy player 🙂

We played through the first quarter of the deck concentrating on getting towards our own victory conditions and not really interfering with each other unless a card event came up which seemed too detrimental to the other factions not to play. In a way, this was the Government’s downfall as Nick played events rather than building up his forces when he probably should have been (especially the Police) to stop the FARC holding on to political control of so many areas.

The battle for Bogota

The battle for Bogota

By the end of the second quarter of the deck, the Cartels were swimming in cash and had easily achieved their objective of placing bases, but the AOC weren’t even close. The Government forces had cleared out all my bases and guerillas from the province of Huila-Tolima but hadn’t yet managed to  switch its allegiance to pro-Government – important in the scoring phase which we all knew was coming within a card or two. Life is cheap in the FARC, so knowing I would lose the guerillas I launched an all-out assault on Bogota which the government cannot afford to lose as it is worth so many victory points. Responding to this assault, the Government sent in just enough troops to wipe me out, but not before my 2 remaining guerillas got a chance to fight back. Needing a 1 or 2 on a D6 to kill some Government forces and force them to take two action phases to wipe me out rather than one and swing control of the province with the other, I rolled  a ‘1’. I had also placed a base, and because the Government were prevented from taking an action on the next card and the card after was “Propaganda”  this ended the game as the FARC had enough bases and political influence to win. The Cartel were rolling in drugs money but the AOC had not been able to destroy any FARC bases and place enough of their own to outnumber FARC (their only objective).

Rural Reds surround the Government's cities

Rural Reds surround the Government’s cities

I wish I could say I’d planned the ending, but I’d be lying – I was probably playing the least difficult side in the 3-player version and it was our lack of interfering with each other’s plans which gave me victory. I really want to like this game, but I honestly didn’t really feel like I was immersed in the theme of running Marxist guerillas, just gaining area control with cubes and discs whilst gathering and spending resources and as an afterthought making sure no-one else was achieving their victory conditions. The game seems very abstract – there is little actual dice-rolling or combat unlike Labyrinth by the same designer, though that is 2-player and cards in-hand so you feel that you are playing against someone and not just the game system. It was an OK choice as there were 3 of us wanting to play a game – a once every couple of years event – but I enjoyed our last 3-player outing of Here I Stand a lot more.