Archives for May 2007

Analysis of the Marco Polo Bridge Scenario

Click the image to the left to see it at full resolution. There are the boards I put together for the game. They form a 6′ x 6′ (approx. 2m x 2m) region.

This analysis is to look at how this game is won and lost by looking at how it has been played in the past and particularily how it was played at Nashcon 2007.

The Japanese start on the upper 3 ruined boards. The Bridge is symbolically opening up on the middle board with a fan shaped land attachment. This allows unit to start in just about anywhere in those three sections. The Japanese have to have as many or more troops within 6″ (15cm) of the victory point locations. Armor trumps troops. It becomes rather difficult then for the Chinese to hold onto the positions if the Japanese win any local fights.

What I have seen happen at conventions is that people will divide up the forces and set off without much of a plan for mutual back up. This is unfortunate for the Japanese. While they have a platoon of armor and 2 platoons of infantry the Chinese have an almost unlimited supply of infantry. At a minimum they will be fielding 45 troops. As these get killed off or routed they can recycle them bringing them back in groups of 10-15 troops.

Since killing them doesn’t do much good as they just come back, the key then is to pick your battles – force your way towards particular objectives and keep the Chinese pinned as much as possible.

On the left side of the photo we see the easiest to reach objective. Just one more block down is the 2nd. Taking those two will reduce the Chinese reinforcement by 50%. Once you do that then it becomes easier to defeat them. However trying to take the whole board at once just leads to a static line. Eventually the Japanese lose their impetus because they take so many casualties.

Against a smart Japanese enemy the Chinese have various options. They have 4 dare to die squads. Those have similar morale effects as the Japanese. They also have adders they can add to units. these are limited in number and consist of an HMG, 2x Molotov throwers, and 4x Large Satchel throwers.
Overall, unless you establish in the minds of the players that a strong plan is needed to win, most convention attendees aren’t motivated enough to lead their side.
Thoughts or comments?

Nashcon a Blast

Nashcon was a blast this year. I really enjoyed myself. My friend Pete English was able to come. My friend Rohn was in Europe and wanted to say he wished he was there but he couldn’t! He was much happier hanging out in lovely European spots than at a gaming convention.

I ran my Marco Polo game for the 3rd time and had fun. I think it was the last time running it as a convention game. The problem is that the Japanese require a solid battle plan and its not a good game for casual play.

I played a lot of Wings of War (see the photo above) with the new miniatures they released and had a blast. It is one of my favorite beer and pretzles games and has everything I want in an air war game. The last turn of the last game I played I challenged my opponent to a duel. We both did immelmans with our cards face up. The rest to the gamers respected the duel and did not interfere. We drew damage cards and up came a “0” and a “Plane Destroyed” card. I was the unlucky recipient! It was quite exciting and a very memorable moment!

One of the highlights of the trip was going to Fort Donelson and seeing the battlefield. What a great battlefield that is. It is very small so easy to do in an afternoon and very picturesque. I highly recommend it.

Obidiah’s Underground

I’ve added Obidiah’s Underground to my blogroll. He has a great “tutorial” on converting a figure to create the classic 80’s icon Robocop. Nice job! Love this guys blog. You should check it out!


Where are the Heroes?

I was reading this blog post from over a year ago and it struck me as appropriate considering I had just seen “Flags of our Fathers.”

The movie “Flags of our Fathers” by Clint Eastwood is about the surviving 3 flag raisers from Iwo Jima. The premise is that there are no heroes. The blog post is about the NYT denegrating the memory of past heroes and coming to the conclution that there really are NO HEROES.

When I saw the film, which is actually quite good, I realized there was something missing. You see, the Battle of Iwo Jima had the most Medals of Honor given out for all of WWII. The motto on the Marine Corp Memorial to the battle is “Uncommon Valor was a Common Virture.” It seems to me the island was crawling with heroes who knew the stakes of this battle in determining the fate of the Americas, the Chinese and ultimately the Japanese themselves. A lot of lives were lost on Iwo Jima but many more were saved. So it strikes me as odd that we don’t see any of that in the film. I suppose to show what risks some of the men took to save their comrades would blow the whole concept of the film away. To be fair the film echos “Doc’s” words by saying the real heroes are dead on Iwo Jima. Well, not all of them died I am afraid.

There is an apparent contridiction between who the New York Times cares to promote and those who it seeks to denegrate. While the heroic acts of Audie Murphy and Sgt. York are written off as myths they do recognize the valorous deeds of John Kerry (D. Mass.) That is not just hypocritical but it is manipulative.

It’s not a great thing to be a hero. It’s bloody, horrible, cruel and often quite thankless. To be a hero is to write off your own life. Should you survive (not typical of those getting the highest honors) you have to live with both what you’ve done and the impact it has on your mind. Heroes exist.

It’s a good article and I really suggest reading it. Draw your own conclusions.

I have WOOD for SHEEP!

Well, it’s out finaly! The world famous game “Settlers of Catan” is finally an XBLA game. I got it for 800 MS Points ($10) and was it ever worth it. I’ve played probably 20 games this weekend of it. Its a faithful recreation of the original game with varient rules, a fairly decent AI and nice visuals. I like the animation, sounds and experiece of playing this game. I’ve even managed to play a ranked game. Yeah, I need some more skill in that! I can’t wait to play some more.
Hmmm, laundry or Catan, laundry or Catan… yeah, I’m doomed.

My New Uber Computer

It is a thing of beauty. This new Dell XPS 710 is an amazing machine. I plan on using it for video editing but also some game playing. I have been playing Theater of War on it and its a wonderful, smooth experience. I put Battleground Barbarossa to Berlin on it as well and there were nearly no delays for the computer AI turns. Magnificent!

I got a refurbished 20″ WS monitor from Dell as well. The computer was a scratch and dent system as well. I can’t find any problems with either. Literally if there is a scratch on the XPS I’ll be darned if I can find it.

The front lights are pretty cool too. It has them in the rear as well. You can even control the color via the bios setup. I didn’t realize it had them until after I’d had it a couple of days and was browsing the manual… It did require a booting into the bios setup to turn them on but that was easily accomplished and I got to play with the light color and see it in action AS I WAS SELECTING THINGS IN THE BIOS SETUP SCREEN!

Overall, I really like it!