Sunday, May 26, 2013

Historical Wargaming Podcast Discovery

I've been searching around for some time for a podcast to complement my beloved Meeples and Miniatures. I enjoy M&M quite a bit but it seemed as though there should be at least one other podcast out there that focuses on historical wargaming. I suppose it's a commentary on my
search skills that it took this long to track down "The Historical Wargaming Podcast."

I've listened to two episodes so far through iTunes and so far the podcast is hitting all the right buttons. The hosts are excited and upbeat about gaming. They care about history and also recognize that some games can be fun even if they're not completely historically accurate. They have a wide range of interests and seem unable to stop buying and painting miniatures. Perfect!

Further, the host recently pointed out that there is a podcast produced by the publishers of Ancient Warfare, a magazine which somehow I have not yet subscribed to. That gives me something fun to look forward to listening to next!

Love Letter- Simple and Cheap Game

Events here are moving along and the family is going to be moving soon to the South. Nashua that is. For that reason my gaming has been pretty limited to Dance Central 2 and Phantom Leader. I did come across a copy of Love Letter recently and between the hype surrounding the game and its dirt cheap price I had to pick it up.

Love Letter is a solid game with a somewhat pasted on theme. In theory you're trying to get a love letter to a princess who is locked away in her palace. The player who gets the most love letters to the princess wins the game. Now really this game could also be called Tomato Grower or Transmission Repairer. But the theme does lead itself to very adorable illustrations and has made it a very appealing offering to non-gamers, kids, and the wife.

The mechanics of Love Letter are dead simple. Each player has a card in their hand. That card has a number value. You take turns drawing a card from the deck. Then you must play one of the two cards in your hand. Each card has some effect. It might allow you to see another player's hand (which is one card). It might allow you to trade your remaining card with someone or get a new one from the deck. At the end of a round the player with the highest valued card in their hand has successfully gotten a letter to the princess and wins a victory token. After so many rounds the person the the most tokens is the winner.

My wife and I played a few rounds of Love Letter and had a good time. The card rules are simple enough and lead to some amusing interactions. At the same time there is a good amount of luck. On the whole it was a fun time and a good filler game experience. It's completely portable, fast, simple, and kid friendly. I'd recommend it.

Funny Little Wars Follow Up

This year's Huzzah convention was as fun as ever and I was able to run my Funny Little Wars game on Saturday. Part of what has kept me from posting lately has been the feeling that on the whole the game was not a huge success. So let's go over what may have made the game experience what it was.

I ran a scenario in which two forces meet and have to take control of two landmarks. The forces are identical and the idea behind the scenario is to see whether a player wants to play it safe and take one objective or somehow manage to control both. In my game each force had colorful units with unit histories and Italian and Croatian titles. The terrain was set up to emulate traditional old school gaming. Basic green landscape with simple houses and a river.

In terms of game mechanics the system worked just fine. Cavalry acted as a fast moving but fragile striking arm. Infantry could cover ground well in column and hold territory once it arrived. Artillery was highly destructive if it hit, had good range, and was almost impossible to aim.

One drawback to the game that became apparent almost immediately was that the imaginary nations of Malomocco and Veglia were highly entertaining to me, but carried no meaning to any of the players. In the books I've read imagi-nation games seem like a lot of fun but that may be because the nations are more recognizable (ie. Army Horizon Blue is France) or because the players have designed and painted their own forces. Of course the other factor is that people who love imagi-nation gaming and write books about it are certainly going to be pretty happy to be playing. For the future I'm going to either seek out players with a love for this kind of gaming or encourage players to create their own forces.

The second drawback to the game is that I may have emulated old school terrain too well. I was just thrilled to make the setup look "just right" but a player in 2013 may be looking for a different experience. In the future I think I'll be adding in a bit more terrain. As in, quite a bit more.

Finally, I think the scenario may have been too subtle. I played a great Bunker Hill game once and I remember what made it so fun was how straightforward the objectives were. For the British- get to the top of the hill. For the Colonials, keep the British from the top of the hill. I probably should have done the Bridge Demolition scenario or the Surprise Attack game.

All this being said the players were good natured and many elements of the game were fun. Cannon that fire real matchsticks are just outrageously entertaining. The Armies in Plastic troops looked just terrific on the field. They paint up just beautifully. We spent a fun few hours and even got to entertain a baby.  I'm not sure I'll be running this at a convention again but amongst friends and interested players Funny Little Wars is a good game.