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Category: Session Report (Page 2 of 5)

6 x 6 Gaming: Dropzone Commander and Pandemic Legacy

Early last week I got a reminder that a group of us were going to hit Dropzone Commander this past weekend.  I had some units that were still primed from my big priming spree before winter so I decided to blitz through a few and finish them up.

Up first was the new Skulltaker.  This aerial transport is the model for the special commander that first appeared in Reconquest Phase 1.  In Reconquest Phase 2, they made the model a general unit so that you didn’t need to work with the special commander rules (which are usually experimental in nature).  After some errata, the unit was actually playable and so I was happy to finish this one out.

This makes the fourth “Lifthawk” style model I have done and they are looking quite eclectic.  I also have a Hellhog (blue) in the back to round out my aircraft units.

While the Skulltaker is a big beast of a unit with upgraded guns and weapons, its main purpose is to transport psycho berserkers quickly to a key close quarter battle. These berserkers were the next item on my list.

With these quick paints complete, I was able to complete my list and be ready for the game.  I haven’t been keeping up with the Dropzone tournament scene but apparently 1250 points is becoming pretty popular.  We decided to try out that sized game. I went with a pretty balanced list with a good bit of anti-air, infantry, and anti-tank.

We had four players and split into 2 separate games.  I was on the ruined map layout and was going against my friend’s UCM list which featured a heavy load of air units and anti-tank but light on the infantry.

initial setup

The detail on the layout that our host setup was great.  His burned out cars and dead bodies really add to the atmosphere of the scenario.

We decided to play Secure The Flanks scenario and started up, each approaching from our respective corner.

We both settled in on our close objectives, me with my Freeriders and the UCM with their Legionnaires from a Raven A.

I started down the main street lane when the UCM sent a few air units to sweep by.  After a horrible whiff, they all fell to my Gun Wagons.  My front Kraken (missing in the pic above) was caught not far enough behind the building and was lit up by the UCM main force of anti-tank units.  I rolled especially bad and lost 5 of the 6 (red) Gun Technicals.

white primed dropfleet ship subbing in for another condor

The UCM quickly took up position around the right focal point. He had two Gladius, a unit of Sabers, and a unit of Rapiers all defending this spot.  The scatter terrain was really favoring this position since all his unit have articulating turrets to see over the debris.  For whatever reason, my massive Thunderstorm Hover-building with gunship lasers mounted on the top does not have the height or articulated turrets rule so I could never really get line of site on anything and it became a huge waste of points. This seemed pretty ridiculous so for future games we’ll house rule that LOS will measure from the gun mounts.

poor thunderstorm. guns mounted 2+ inches off the ground but can’t fire over a simple rusted out car

Moving on! I decided to centralize my forces in the middle buildings for the middle objective.  Unfortunately, the UCM had came in with their 2 squads and got in the building first.  I sped in with my Skulltaker and shot up the building and flamed it but found that the flame weapon on the Skulltaker (usually a great anti-personnel weapon) is pretty lackluster.  I dropped off my Berserkers and in the ensuing close quarters battle, they wiped out the Legionnaire squad with a 4:1 dice advantage.  Since the UCM had two squads in the building, they only needed to commit one squad to my Berserkers.  The other unit got a lucky roll and found the objective in one turn and was off the map before I could do anything about it.

We both still had our close objectives but his anti-tank and orbital laser-firing commander soon reduced my objective building to rubble. Playing tit-for-tat, I rushed my Barrel Bomber over to his objective building and launched my goliath bomb to knock the building down to 2 hits remaining.  The debris falling killed all but 2 Legionnaire figures.  My next salvo did no more damage and I couldn’t finish off his objective.  His next turn, the Legionnaires got another lucky roll and found the objective on their second try, then got out and left the map again before I could stop them.

Things were looking grim.  I was down 4 VPs to zero and there were no more objectives on the board.  The only way I could win now was to occupy both focal points at the end of the game and make no unit of his could make it within 6 inches, and then also win on kill points.  I had three rounds to defend and eliminate his units.

First, I sent my Cyclone helicopters in to assassinate his commander.

Then I cleared out some entrenched Legionnaires from a building near one of the focal points. This time the flame weapon worked, though this one unit only had 2 guys left.

And finally, I wiped out every last one of the crazy armor 10 tanks from his entrenched focal point.  It was round six and he had one dropship unit left: a Condor carry a single Bear APC with 2 units of Flak squads.  They set up in the building I previously cleaned out (getting them in focal point range) and I sent the Skulltaker back over.

Again the flame weapon did it’s job and wiped out a full flak unit and then I launched a salvo of rockets and heavy machine guns to knock the building down around him to try to finish off that last unit.  All my salvo shots failed and that was the end of the game.

Final score:

UCM: 5 VP  581 kill points

Resistance: 4 VP 1,021 kill points

Definitely an interesting game.  When the objectives were found and removed before the end of round 3, I figured I was out of the game and we could have called it.  I was surprised that it actually remained as close as it did and I almost wiped out his entire army.  I need to rethink my use of the Thunderstorm Hovercraft as it seems to really struggle to do much in a game and can fall very quickly to concentrated anti-tank fire.  Couple that with the need to keep anti-air units around as protection and it becomes a big point sink.


A few weeks back, we also finished up our game of Pandemic Legacy: Season 1.  The second half saw us lose a few more game and definitely got a little tougher but we were able to pull through and finish the entire campaign out with the best ending result.

I was happy to see that my character, Bobdoh Johnson, survived the whole campaign and was pretty key to our success.  With two scars, he had a few close calls but my wife bailed me out to keep him around.

I can’t really go into detail (even in the redacted style I did last time) as it starts to spoil too much so I’ll just talk about some final thoughts in general terms.

While I thought the campaign worked very well and I liked where the story went, I didn’t really ever have an incentive to switch characters.  They kept adding new characters throughout the campaign (even in the second to last month) but I felt such history and duty to stay with my character that I felt that was only an option when/if my character died.

In the last few games, I got a particularly nasty scar (the orange stickers on the lower right of the character card).  Initially, we didn’t think it was a problem but then things changed on us and the inability to trade cards ended up being pretty crippling.  Even with that major handicap, I still was loathe to just ditch him and start with someone new.

The other thing that became tiring was the hidden bonus cards that you got to scratch off when you completed certain tasks or won a previous month.  This was novel the first couple of times but soon became a real chore to do and the mess it created was less and less novel.

Other than the lack of a compelling reason to change characters and the lottery scratch off cards, the game was a lot of fun and we’re looking forward to trying out Season 2.

from BGG (taken from the publisher)

6×6 Gaming Challenge: Mid-year recap

Now that we’re in July, I thought I’d take a quick moment to recap where I’m at with my 6×6 Gaming Challenge. I always keep the running total up-to-date at the top, under my “About” header.

The good news is every game on my list has been played at least once. Even better news is I’m sitting at 20 games/sessions played out of 36 for the challenge so I’m beating the curve by a good 5%.  Let’s look at the details:

The Walking Dead: All Out War:
Dropzone Commander:
Santorini:
Batman Miniature Game:
Pandemic: Legacy:
Championship Formula Racing:

As you can see, Dropzone Commander and Batman are a bit behind the curve.  Batman may be the toughest to get all the way through before the end of the year since it is completely self-driven.  Dropzone Commander still has regular monthly get-togethers so I’m not too worried about finding a game.

CFR, Pandemic, and The Walking Dead have been going quite well with a lot of interest still peaking for those games.  The next few months are going to be a little tough as I prepare for Gen Con and a vacation later this summer but I still have a lot of plans for all the games on the list so at least the drive is still there.

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 Half-way Point

As part of my 6×6 Gaming Challenge, I decided to add Pandemic Legacy to try to get a commitment out of my game group to go through this game from start to finish.  We tried Risk Legacy long ago but it eventually fell apart and we never got to fully explore the game.  I’m not sure how common this is with gaming groups but the fear of opening a legacy game, permanently destroying, adding, and altering the game state but never finishing it is so heavy that I’d rather have the game sit in shrink and never played than be played half-assed.

Something about the permanency of the decisions makes these games hard to enjoy (beyond those that would never want to deface their game in the first place).  It’s odd how much pressure there is for a legacy game as it wants to be played in its entirety, regularly so that each new sessions rules aren’t forgotten, and with the same group of people.  With my game group, this is difficult since we all have games (usually new) that we want to see on the table and since we don’t get together often enough to make sure everything has its chance, committing to 12 to 24 games of Pandemic Legacy was becoming increasingly difficult.

I decided to switch gears with this legacy setup and instead of going to my game group, I went to my wife.  She is definitely a gamer but life and work have turned her into an adult (one of us had to do it) and so gaming was less and less available.  She did, however, always like Pandemic so I thought I’d give it a shot.

After some convincing, she was on board.  Funnily enough, it wasn’t the commitment to playing through the entire season that took convincing, it was the legacy system itself.  I relived the whole geek culture reaction to the first legacy concept happen right before my eyes as she processed what this game was going to make us do.  It’s funny that I’m so obsessed with games and the industry that I forgot just how foreign the legacy concept can be.  She went through shock and disbelief (“We have to do what??”), anger and cynicism (“That is just dumb. You know they’re doing this just so you can buy the game over and over again.”), bargaining (“what if we just take pictures of the board state before we tear it down…”), and finally to acceptance (“fine. whatever.”).

Note: I’ll try to keep the rest of this as spoiler-free as possible but it will be almost impossible to not spoil even the tiny details. In any case, I have “[redacted]” major elements of the game in the images for your protection.

We started the game off picking our characters and working them up.  This is one of my favorite aspects of the game as it gives the characters a quasi-RPG feel.  I began the game with my favorite character of the Pandemic series, the Medic.

Bobdoh Johnson, or “Bobby D” as his friends call him, has been a terrific member of the Pandemic team.  In the last 6 months of service, he’s been instrumental in fighting back the ravages of disease and staving off terrifying outbreaks.  Through his heavy travels, he’s made many contacts and has helped even the weakest medical centers work through crises. Though he’s saved countless lives, his dreams are still troubled by a particularly brutal outbreak of Mad Fever in Seoul.  That abnormally hot March would forever scar Johnson. To this day, he can’t help but stop and help cities on the verge of outbreak as his mind flashes back to the horrors of Seoul. Hopefully this won’t be his undoing.

Johnson’s best friend, the brilliant researcher, Dr. Iris, has been the key to the curing of these new diseases.  While Johnson has been clearing out disease, Dr. Iris has been curing all the diseases in record time.  This dynamic duo has led to a four month winning streak as the team can typically cure a disease in the first few turns and eradicate them quickly thereafter.

As new threats are uncovered, Piper, the Specialist, joined the team in May.  Dr. Iris took a sabbatical to study these new threats more closely but Piper has kept the streak alive as the team cleared through May and June.


Game Summary

January (loss then win)

January was actually our toughest month as we ended up losing our first game. It was a combination of getting back into the rhythm and forgetting what to focus on that led to our downfall.  Late January went much better and we were able to get in a rhythm.

February (win)

February was  a breeze as we started with enough to cure a disease on the second turn and eradicate it a turn later.  Quite possibly the easiest game of Pandemic I’d seen.

March (win)

March set up well but I got cocky and Johnson got caught in an outbreak in Seoul.  It hasn’t seemed to slow him down much but it did make me play him a little more conservatively.

April (win)

This one was a bit odd in that we had things pretty well contained and then things started going bad very quickly.  Luckily, we were able to end the month quickly before too much damage was done.  From a design note, I was kind of curious if you could get into a situation in a legacy game where the game is no longer winnable due to damage done in the previous months.

May (win)

Due to some of the new events and damage done, we switched tactics and brought in Piper’s Specialist expertise. It took us a little bit of time to get used to the role and how it would interact with Johnson but the combo seemed to be even stronger given the upgraded board-state. Outbreaks have been the biggest issue in our previous game but we seemed to have that under control.  We almost totally botched it by forgetting to pay attention to the player deck and the number of cubes out on the board. We ended up with only 5 player cards left in the deck by the time we sorted it all out and won the game.  That cut it a little too close.

June (win)

Prepared for both the excess cubes we needed to manage and the inefficient time management we had in the previous month, June turned out to be a bit easier than the other months in this quarter.  I kind of keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and we start getting our ass handed to us but so far so good.

CabinCon Cup: Part 2, Nürburg

After a break, our team concluded our 2-game mini-cup with a 2-lap session of Nürburg. We all took a moment to re-tool our cars and I decided to create a lop-sided car with an 80 acceleration and a 40 deceleration.  To help compensate for all the late braking I might need to do, I dropped my skill in favor of more wear tokens.

After the bidding, I did slightly better than last time and came in 4th position.

Colton, in the black no. 4, decided to follow the “lead from the front” strategy in the rule book and bid high for pole position.  He took off quickly, pushing his start speed to 140 while the rest of us played conservative and fell in line.

Using my acceleration, I (green car) pulled into 2nd following slightly behind Colton. Sterling in red decided to take the outside line while Reese in Blue fell in behind me.

Colton continued to push and burn wear while I fell back a little.  Sterling’s outside line caused him to fall back into fourth.

Colton used the straight to widen his lead and quickly was getting into a dominant position.  James’ silver car started to make a move on the pack I’m leading.

The third turn pulls Colton back a little but James is able to push hard to fourth and battle into the second place scrum that is developing between Reese (blue car) and I.

A shot from the rear as Colton starts the next turn and James falls in line behind Reese and I.

Heading into the straights, James starts to get into position.  His car is the fastest with high acceleration and the highest top speed of all of us at 180 mph.  He also isn’t afraid to push it to 200 when he needs to.

It doesn’t quite time out for James and he’s forced to get back behind Reese. Colton is able to maintain about 4 spaces on us but can’t seem to get any further away.

My acceleration spaces us out in the straight and I gain on Colton’s ultimately slower car.

Colton is forced to slow-up for the turn and we descend on him, cutting his lead to one.  This has some unintended consequences as all hell breaks loose.

James, seeing an opportunity to really “be somebody,” pushes the 80 mph corner at 140, uses two wear and a green skill token but still gets burned by boxcars on the dice.  The resulting crash happens before Reese can approach the corner and the debris causes him to spin out.  Since I got through before James’ death rush, I was about to pull up alongside Colton.

Sterling and Jeremy round out the crazy turn by starting a battle for 5th place.

Colton is able to negotiate the corner and I’m not willing to risk hitting the corner at a faster speed to beat him off the line. The craziness of James’ wreck allows Jeremy to blast into 3rd from the rear.

James is able to get free of his wreck moments before it starts to smoke and flame.

I totally mismanage this upcoming turn as I know Colton is going to go 80 mph to line up this inside line (eventually slowing to 60 mph) and he is out of wear. For some reason, I think I’ll be able to go 100 mph get alongside him again. Instead, I chicken out and end up late braking and burning my wear token advantage on him.  At this point, I realize that if I just maintain second, my overall points will give me the Cabin Con Cup.

Re-evaluating this turn, I should have maintained my 100 mph and taken the outside line. The next turn would have dropped me to 60 (or 80 if I wanted to spend the wear I would have lost late braking).  Either one would have put me either alongside Colton through the turn or one space past him to take the lead.

Colton and I take this first turn at the stock value and cause Jeremy to late brake but it messes up his deceleration and he spins. I’m in the beginning of the turn now doing 40 mph and Colton is in a great position to accelerate out of the turn.

I botch the corner and Colton is able to take off again. Reese tries to make a move but spins out and Sterling starts to march on Jeremy.

Jeremy pushes again fighting Sterling but with a naked chance roll, he rolls just enough to crash out and starts smoking.

Now there are four racers left and Colton has regained a good lead while I’ve separated from the remaining cars as well.

We’re back in the straights and I can make up more ground as we approach “James’ Doom.”

We come into the critical last turn. Colton knows my car will take him to task out of the turn as I have both the top speed and acceleration on him so he elects to maintain as much speed as possible taking the outer line.

His gambit pays off as I stay 2 spaces behind but he’s still going 100 mph and can accelerate to his top 140 while I’m at 60 mph and can also jump up to 140.  Even if I push to 160, I won’t be able to break even with Colton so I leave it and hope Reese doesn’t have a trick up his sleeve to push me out of second place.

Colton takes the flag and I, predictably, stay within two spaces of him.  The race may have ended up a little different but I played conservative to maintain my second place.

Even though the race results didn’t change much after the first turn or so, I still found it really tense. It seemed like I was caught in this never ending trap of trying to keep up with Colton while getting distance on the pack behind me.  The pack behind me was frightening because they felt like they had nothing to lose and so kept pushing chance rolls all the time. If it was just one car pushing chance all the time, I’d be less concerned as the dice would eventually fail but with three cars, it always seemed like someone was on verge of coming up and winning their chance rolls.

After this race, the final standings were:

  • Myself: 5.1 pts
  • Colton: 4.2 pts
  • Reese: 4.1 pts
  • Sterling: 3.2 pts
  • Jeremy: 2.2 pts
  • James: 2.0 pts

CabinCon Cup: Part 1, Monza

As I recapped earlier, we were able to run a small 2-race CFR championship at our game gathering, CabinCon.  Since we had some new players, we ran a quick demo of the track through the first turn.  I showed the rest of players how to crash out in spectacular fashion by pushing my car 60 mph over the top cornering speed and rolling boxcars (12).

With a couple of turns under their belt, everyone was ready to build their cars and start up the actual race.

We bid out for position: Sterling in Red, James in Silver, Jeremy in Yellow, Reese in Blue, me in Green, and Colton in Black in the very back.  It probably would have been good to record the driver car layouts but I forgot.  I didn’t really build for a “rear strategy” but there I was, looking at the 5th spot.

After the first two turns, I was able to crowd the line with Reese and Jeremy to fight for second place before the first turn.

I then decide to push hard and ditch the line spending as much wear as possible to beat Reese and Jeremy.

I push hard again and cut off Sterling in the lead.

Using my higher speed and better acceleration, I push out ahead of Sterling to take the lead.

The pack tightens up behind us and start battling for 3rd place.

Colton is tired of trying to fall in line behind the 3rd place fighters and pushes hard to skip the optimal line and go toe-to-toe with Reese in the blue car.  Sterling sticks with me through the corner.

I decide to push in these corners again and create a gap between Sterling and I.  Colton isn’t able to capitalize on his fight with Reese and falls back to deal with James.

Colton drops back to 5th as he loses his fight with James and I maintain my one space gap on Sterling, insuring he can’t draft off me.

I decide to keep my speed up through this little turn and Sterling is able to close the gap while James starts to battle Reese for 3rd.

We make a bad rules call not realize that Sterling could accelerate while in the turn’s last space and it puts him 2 spaces behind me.

I get through the turn easily while James and Reese battle some more and Colton swoops in waiting for someone to make a mistake.

We wrap up the first lap with Reese, Colton, and James in a 3-way spread for 3rd while I maintain my gap on Sterling.

Sterling plays the lead up to the turn slow and Reese decides to push and pass through Sterling. The gamble pays off and he squeezes past Sterling to set up a good start for attacking 2nd place.  Colton decides again to ignore the line and pushes to battle for 2nd.

The fight takes it’s toll. Colton pushes hard to gain on Reese, taking 2nd, Reese is forced off his line and Sterling is forced to chance and spins out.  I smile as my lead widens.

The racers form up and Colton pushes a little faster than Reese and gains some breathing room.  Jeremy starts to battle James for 5th place as he starts to make his move, spending his nice bank of wear tokens.

Reese closes the gap on Colton and the bottom half of the players start to bunch up.

Everyone bogs down slightly in the corner and I push to increase my lead to a comfortable margin.

James isn’t able to take the corner and Sterling and Jeremy push past, knocking James down to the 6th spot.

Coming into the final turns, Colton gets jammed up in a corner as he forgets which card was his current speed and which was the new speed and ends up spending his last wear token in the penultimate corner.  Reese still has enough in the tank to capitalize and charge into 2nd place.

I sweep the corner easily and since we fixed the corner rule mistake, Reese is able to accelerate out of his corner while Colton is stuck at his previous speed and loses ground on Reese.

Colton tries to push this corner to take Reese but without a token, he has to dice it.  He ends up in a spin with a horribly 20 mph start speed.  Jeremy is solidifying his 4th place bid at the time and now eyes a very worried Colton.

The dice Gods are not pleased and Colton tries to push his start speed but ends up jamming gears and goes nowhere. Jeremy pushes the corner and also spins out allowing James to catch up and Sterling to overtake into 4th place.  Reese and I easily cross for 2nd and 1st, respectively.

Colton and Jeremy both start back up and are neck and neck but Jeremy is on the faster outside.  Sterling breaks away from both for a solid 3rd place and James tries to make a move but also ends up in a spin.

Colton is able to stay with Jeremy all the way through the finish and takes a photo finish 4th place.  Monza completes and we have the initial standings.

We decided to make a custom scoring system to keep the points tight race to race:

  • 1st: 3.0 pts
  • 2nd: 2.1 pts
  • 3rd: 2.0 pts
  • 4th: 1.2 pts
  • 5th: 1.1 pt
  • 6th: 1.0 pts

This system kept things from looking bleak between last and first place and allowed for some slight tie-breakers with the fractional points.  After Monza, we tackled Nürberg.

 

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