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Tag: 6×6 game challenge 2017 (Page 1 of 2)

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)

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.

Dropzone Commander: Bringing Tanks to an Infantry fight.

A couple weeks back, I was able to get in another game of Dropzone Commander at Funtastic Games‘ Dropzone Commander monthly get together.  This time, my friend and I went to a 999 point Skirmish battle.

I don’t recall the name of the scenario but it featured a reinforced bunker in the center that was used to house an objective marker and two downed UCM Bear transports to use as focal points.  I decided to go thematic with an Allied Resistance force who was trying to recover the wounded UCM soldiers and get the last bits of intel reports from the bunker.  My friend had his Scourge force coming in to sweep out the area.

We both knew that this game was going to center around that bunker.  The grey pieces on the side were the only entrance points to the structure.

I actually messed this game up by starting on the wrong corner of the map.  We decided to let it play as we were already through the first round before we realized the mistake.  My Lifthawk trundled in to get as close as possible to the bunker.

Followed by the rest of my forces: a duo of Cyclone Helicopters, a Thunderstorm commander craft, some Anti-Air units (Gun Wagons and Gun Technicals) in their Kraken hovercrafts, and some Attack ATVs and Freeriders to take up the rear.

My friend brought in his Scourge Prowlers to stalk the side of a building with car debris as cover.  Then he drove on a whole division of tanks from the board edge two sets of Anti-Air Reapers and two sets of Anti-Tank Hunters.

By the start of round 2, he was able to get one group of Warriors into the bunker at the cost of their light transport.  That transport thought it was going to be a badass and stay “to the deck” but must have clipped the bunker taking off as it spun out and crashed to the ground.

My Kraken launched a bunch of Gun Technicals to take down more light aerial transports but only got one.  The Prowlers came in to respond, one even trying to take a leak on my shiny Gun Technical.

Bastard.

The Scourge are able to get a second group of infantry into the Bunker as I drop all three of my infantry groups inside.  I definitely have the numbers to hold out in there but we’ll see if the Scourge can find the objective next turn and get out before the battle gets too pitched.

Round 3 starts with the infantry battle and I wipe all the Scourge clean down to one lonely Warrior on one final infantry stand. I send my APC’s around the side and ‘nade that last stand but it totally fails.

My Cyclones get in on the action after seeing the Scourge Anti-Tanks come around and shred my Thunderstorm command unit.  I can’t have those Hunters running free so my Cyclones go full out and wipe out three tanks.  At this point, each Hunter unit is down to one tank.  My Cyclones fall quickly to the Scourge Reapers but it was worth it.

And I get a lucky Objective find and get an infantry group out of there and head home.

Meanwhile my Freeriders have been hopping building to building until they got over the far focal point, where they will camp it out.  The Scourge only have a Reaper to try to claim that focal so I’ve locked that one in.

My Attack ATVs try uselessly to weaken the Scourge Reapers but get taken down instead.

My objective is still trying to make it home while I repair my Thunderstorm and keep my Gun Wagons covered, waiting for the Scourge Overseer to try to come out and make it’s final push for the focal point.

The Overseer comes out but shrugs off most of my Gun Wagon hits.  It won’t take the focal point so my side has this one secure.

I run my remaining APC over to the far side focal point as insurance and take this one at the end of the game as well.

Finally, my Lifthawk makes it to my starting zone and takes the objective home.  The final result for this one were firmly in the hands of the Resistance. I got some really lucky rolls in the mid-to-late game that took out a few key Scourge tanks but I think the biggest thing was being able to overwhelm them with my infantry. With only one objective, this swung the game pretty well in my favor and starting in the wrong corner next to a focal point didn’t hurt either.

Time-lapsed Game Session

I got in another game of Championship Formula Racing, this time the human drivers outnumbered the Historical AI ones.  While it was likely too “artsy” for a good session report, I really liked my “simulator” session.  This time, however, I opted for a more traditional approach. We also messed around with recording the game in a time-lapsed format, which is linking after the main report.

Since this game was the first for a few players, we started with a warm-up test of a few rounds to get us through a couple of the track turns so that everyone could get a feel for how they wanted to set up their cars.

After the test, we made up our cars and decided to add in an AI driver to tighten the board a little more.  I put out an easier Historical driver, Jochen Rindt, and just like my last report, he was using the Front A strategy. We opt for a nice 2 lap race on Monte Carlo.

Jochen ended up out bidding all of us for poll position and soon the race was on.  By the time we got to the first turn, Jochen (black Lotus 77)  had the lead and we stacked in line behind.

We continued to give chase while Jochen kept aggressively spending wear to push ahead.

At this point, I’m in second (red Ferrari 312T) and I feel like I can keep pace with Rindt even with him spending wear tokens like he has an unlimited supply.  My friends (orange March 761 and blue Tyrell P34) had other plans.

Colton in the Orange March 761 pushes past me on the tight no.3 curve even though I try to block him out.  It eats up wear on both cars but he is able to make it.

Reese in the blue Tyrell P34 uses the opportunity to push his car a bit and not follow the line while I end up playing conservative.  Jochen breaks away from us.

I’m out maneuvered again and take up the sad rear in just a few of the opening curves while Jochen wastes no time pushing well past us.

I end up out of that last curve way too slow and watch as everyone else shows me how to race this game.  Niki Lauda would not be pleased.

Jochen clears the first lap of two laps and I’m able to make up a little lost ground but mainly on my friends.  Jochen’s car isn’t really built for the straights though so the game tightens up a little as we get into the first curve again.

We still don’t quite have the hang of it and Jochen is off again leaving us behind.  I am finally able to do some good by pushing both my acceleration and topspeed beyond their max and end up one behind Colton’s orange March 761.

Jochen, however, has really overspent his resources maintaining this lead and is forced to play very conservative. This allows us to close the gap on the tighter 2, 3, and 4 curves.

Colton is low on wear as well and tries to push through curve 5 but ends in a spin.

Colton is still able to maintain his footing and Jochen’s conservative demeanor doesn’t allow him to capitalize on the misfortune. I still can figure out this damned curve and end up way in the back again and can only watch as my friends charge a waning Jochen.

As they battle, Reese takes a spin trying push through the next curve.

This allows me to catch up while Colton tries to take on the unstoppable Rindt. The two lead cars battle the final curve…

…only to see Rindt push too hard on inside line and spin out. I don’t think I played that AI strategy correctly but had Jochen played conservative, he would surely lose against Colton’s faster car.  We have our first lead change of the race!

Colton clears the line while Reese and Jochen leave me the slightest sliver of a chance to take that center line and possibly take second play overall.  It was a long shot as I’d need to push through that final curve, then push my acceleration and topspeed to outpace Reese. I ended up spinning out in the curve instead.  Had I played conservative, I likely could have beat Jochen but definitely wouldn’t have beaten Reese.

As it was, Reese easily takes second and Rindt limps into third place.   The game worked out very well and was a lot of fun.  We debated later about how much time the Historical driver takes and whether we could have a 6 car race with 3 AI and 3 humans.  I initially thought the AI drivers would be faster but I think they turn out to be slower than humans since the player has to make their turn then consult all the AI rules that govern its current turn.

I think the AI system is fantastic, especially for solo games but I wonder if they are too complex to use as filler cars in a timely fashion.  I might experiment a little on “dumbed down” Historical racers to see if they can be run without a strategy card (or if anything, an overly simple one) just to expedite their turn and focus back to the actual players.  I wouldn’t use that for solo play but I think there is merit to this simplification when using them to only fill out a few extra roster spots.


Also, as promised, here was the full time-lapse of our 2 lap Monte Carlo race.


Last but not least, I ordered another set of cars from Shapeways, this time from the 1957 era. I had a chance to prime them:

…and work on some base colors.

Championship Formula Racing: Historical Drivers test

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