Thursday, September 14, 2017

Boardgame Battlestations game 01 - Starter Mission 1 - Rebellion


Introduction
Back in February 2016, I backed the Battlestations 2ndedition boardgame Kickstarter.  It arrived last month (August 2017).  Battlestations is one of those minis/boardgame skirmish hybrids that are increasingly popular.  I had never heard of the first edition, but the 2nd edition looked like it would be good to play with my children as they enjoy WarHammer Quest.  Battlestations is about the crew of a spaceship and there are lots of missions to undertake on a square based map of the ships and spaceports.  An interesting feature is that you also move the spaceships of a map so you can have space battles as well.  I have not acquired too many boardgames over the last few years; but the ones I have done I seem not to have got around to playing.  So this time I thought I would try and play six games of Battlestations, with or without my children as part of the 6x6 challenge.  The game comes with Quick Start rules that have 8 missions that introduce new rules with each mission.  That is what I hope to play.  The full game has over 40 missions in a very large rulebook.

On the weekend, I broke out the box and played a game with my 10 year old daughter.  It took about 60 minutes.  She had fun and happy to play again.  So hopefully a few more games by the end of the year.  My 9 year old son was busy but may join in some games.

We play most of our games on the floor, a hangover from playing games with them since they were born.  We find it weird to play games on the table so we don’t!

Note that the miniatures are unpainted.

Starter Mission 01 - Rebellion
The ship is docked at a spacestation and a human gang is attempting to take over your ship.  We need to stop them taking over the ship, undock and escape the area as the spacestation (get 13 hexes away) will try and blast us out of existence.

The 4 enemy humans start at various places in the ship.  We start in the cargo bay next to the ship.  4 spacestation robots start on the far side of the station and will move to attack us if able, else they will go to the spacestation cannon to fire at us.

Our crew and the human crew are made up of four roles – Marine (red base), Scientist (green base), Engineer (blue base), Pilot (yellow base).  We played co-op with us roleplaying one crew member each, moving the other two as we wanted, and I moved the enemy based on what I thought they should do.

Game start (actually after our crew had moved in the first turn)
Game
The Scientist (played by my daughter) moved as fast as she can- she wants to take down the enemy scientist in the science bay.  Our Marine moves and melees with the Enemy Pilot renders him unconscious.  This is good as it means that the enemy cannot pilot the ship away.

Our Marine (red base) knocks down the enemy Pilot (yellow base).  Our Scientist at the right rushing on.

Out own Pilot moved to Helm (actually in the next turn as we, OK me, the Engineer) accidentally blocked up the corridors)

The Scientist continues to rush down the ship (she can move quite fast) to face the enemy Scientist.
Our Marine jetpacks to the enemy marine (jetpacks are cool - you get to move a long way.   Our Marine manages to inflict 5 hits points, not enough to knock him out.  The Enemy Marine fired back with a disintegrator, Our Marine does not manage to dodge it and is vaporised.

Towards to top of the Ship, Our Marine tackles the Enemy Marine.  He did not do enough damage to knock him out, and so the Enemy Marine retaliated with a disintegrator and Our Marine is vapourised.
The Enemy Engineer desperately tries to shut down the engines so we have no power to fly the ship  but failed (this was one of those great rolls by my daughter: she said "what do I need to roll?", and  I replayed "A two or a three is good for us." She rolled a 3 and the Enemy Engineer failed the test).
Our Pilot starts up the ship navigation and undocks from the spacestation.

The ship is undocked! (I used a painted firestorm Armada ship I had on hand)
The Enemy Scientist have moved to try and intercept us but Our Scientist (my daughter) got to the Science Bay and attacked in close combat first, landing some great moves with her vibroblade and knocks the enemy out (she actually rolled very bad and did some rerolls to get a good high damage score)

Our Scientist managed to use her vibroblade to good effect on the Enemy Scientist.
I, as Our Engineer, moves up to the Enemy Marine and finishes him off.

Our Engineer knocks out the Enemy Marine.
The ship moved 1, managed to increase speed to 2 until the Enemy Engineer successfully stops the engines producing more thrust (reduces power output to 0).  The ship will continue to move at current speed (2 hex per tun) but cannot accelerate.
The ship is 3 hexes away from the Spacestation. The Enemy Marine Bot is at the Spacestation cannon and fires at the ships and misses (with a 3! - my daughter rolling great, for our side).

Enemy Bot at the spacestation cannon, and it managed to hit us!
Our ship is Now 5 hexes away from the Spacestation.  Our Scientist, my daughter, moves to Enemy Engineer and knocks him out.
The Enemy cannon fires at ship and hits!  The ship damage system is very interesting and does not take long, I like it. Two damage is inflicted on the engine room with Our Scientist and Our Scientist takes 5 hit points.  The engine room escapes any severe damage.  I, as Our Engineer, am rushing down the the engine room to give some power to the Helm.

Enemy Engineer is down, thanks to my daughter as Our Scientist (green base).  Our Engineer has arrived but still needs to get to a blue star to increase power.  The damage maker is just to show the engine room is hit, it actually does not have any damage. 
Ship is 7 hexes away; the enemy canon fires and misses (it gets harder the further away we are).  Next turn is is 9 away and I (Our Engineer) an in the Engine room and increase the power output of the engines to 1. Our Pilot fails to increase the speed of the ship :-(
Not that is matters to mush as at the beginning of the next turn we are 11 away from the spacestation

Our ship is 11 hexes away and has been moving as fast as it can to the other side - nearly at the 13 hexes required to escape!
The enemy cannon still manages to miss hitting our ship and we get to 13 hexes away and success!

An overview of the spacestation and ship at the end of the game.
A great introductory scenario.  Need to get the Pilot out of the way really fast, and if the enemy engineer had got the power output to zero in the first turn it would have got very ugly.  We did lose Our Marine with the first shot fired by the enemy.

Verdict
My daughter picked here card based on the picture and so chose a Scientist Cheetah.  I picked an Engineer for myself and them just Randomly selected a Marine and a Pilot.  I had read the rules a few weeks ago and the only thing I really had trouble with was the symbols on the cards – there are quite a few and remembering which one was which was hard but by the end of the game I was fine with them.  Another thing is the rerolls – each character gets a certain number of rerolls, commonly around 6.  I am not a huge fan of them – I don’t mind them but it is just one more thing to track.  The only person that I did rerolls for was my daughter.  Otherwise nobody, even me, didn’t.  I may play that only the crew played by actual people rerolls.  

My daughter roiled nearly all the dice and all she wanted to know was if she needed to roll high (for us) or low (when the enemy wanted to do something).  She rolled some good dice during the game!  

The game is a RPG on a minis board with the game controlled by square movement on some really nice boards that you lay down to create the game. Not a nedw concept for us and have played a few games like this before. The characters has about 10 characteristics all up (strength, combat, movement, health, pilot, science, engineering etc).  It does not take a long time and that I really do like.  I like it enough to play the game again, as does my daughter.  So hopefully a least five more games by the end of the year.


Monday, September 11, 2017

Fall of Rome (1973) boardgame replay - Scenario 4

Introduction
I am playing through the six scenarios in the SPI boardgame Fall of Rome  (1973 version).  I have already written up Scenarios 1 and 2 in a previous post and Scenario 3 in this post.

Scenario 4

So, scenario 3 was very bad with lots of barbarian invasions, revolution and unhappy legions.  Scenario 4 does have barbarian invasions and starts with a bad one – 25 Germanic strength points heading for Rome.  It took quite a few turns to get rid of the German barbarian invasion of this size when they randomly appeared in scenario 3.  The legions are happy and won’t rebel the moment they get together, random barbarian invasions chances are moderate and there is a one-third chance of internal revolutions happening each year.

The big difference between Scenario 4 and the previous 3 is that the militia for some roman provinces are active.  This mean that when a non-Roman force invades one of these provinces militia strength point will appear to help defend.  Militia was not active for Roman provinces in the previous scenarios and even in scenario 4, they are active only to ½ the strength they should be for the province.  And it is only some provinces – Britannia, Gallia, Illyria, Thracia, Syria and Aegyptus. This works two ways – it is good they will be there to assist with invasions, but bad because if there is a chance of revolution and militia are on the map, they will automatically revolt :-(  And worse, in scenarios 1, 2 and 3, there were about 34 legions to move around the board.  Scenario 4 has 12.  Not a lot. I am assuming this low legion count and province militia is to represent the field army concept of the later Roman Empire.

Luckily I do not need to hold all the provinces I start with to win, and can lose about 30 points of provinces and still claim victory.  So it will an interesting scenario – trying to hold on to what I can, and likely making a decision on what provinces to abandon.

Setup.  White markers are to remind me the provinces with active militia.

Turn 1 - 332 AD
Revolt in Africa (1SP) but put it down.  Germans moved in Illyria.  Reading the rules they will not control the province if there is Militia,of which the Romans have some now!  So I put the Militia in a different area and the Germans are attritioned at the end of the turn.  And then I bribe them to stay in Illyria and not move to Rome.  a plan to deal with the German invasions!
The Scythian stack entered Dacia and then I remembered Dacians have active militia - they turn up and defeat the Scythians!  I should have been doing this for the last fee scenarios as well.
Persians take Armenia.
End of turn 1 - Persians control Armenia, Germans still in Illyria

Turn 2 – 333 AD
Persians in Syria eliminate the defending militia and legions, but now down to 8SP.  I move in 3 legions to dispute control.  Taurican raiding party arrive in Thrace. 15SP appear in Scythia.
End of turn 2 - Persians in Syria, some Germans still in Illyria.

Turn 3 – 334 AD
Scythians fail to move, Persians in Syria eliminate the 3 legions I moved there, at a loss of 3 themselves.  I move 2 more legions in to continue to dispute control.  Persians have only 5SP and so do not control Syria yet.  I am running out of legions though!  Taurican raiders are routed.
End of turn 3 - Germans in Illyria (not many now) and Persians still in Syria.

Turn 4 – 335 AD
Scythians still do not move.  Persians fail to dislodge the legions in Syria (due to the 1/2DE combat result is treated as No Effect for legions). A 8SP Scythian raiding party is created (rolled same result twice!).  Germans is Illyria finally dissipate due to attrition.
End of turn 4 - Germans finally cleared from Illyria.

Turn 5 – 336 AD
Scythians don't move. Taurican and Dacian raiding parties appear. Hopefully some militia will help stop them reaching the high victory provinces  Managed to eliminate the Persians in Syria at the cost of losing 3 Legions.   So I keep Persia and Persian reinforcements will only trickle in over a number of turns so the militia may be able to take them out.
End of Turn 5 - Persians kicked out of Syria, Empire free of revolts and barbarians. 

Turn 6 – 337 AD
None of the four barbarian stacks moved (all failed the movement die).  Pictish 2SP appeared but hopefully Britannia's 3SP militia will see them off.  2SP of Persians come back to the board, as well as five legions.  I am now back to full strength for legions - 12.
End of turn 6 - The growing stacks of barbarians continue to fail to move (there is a one-third of a chance they will not moved each time they want to move)

Turn 7 – 338 AD
Well, it had to happen - revolts in Britannia, Hispania, Illyria, Cyprus, Aegyptus.  Lucky no militia were out in those places or the revolt would be harder to put out.  I put down all the revolts except Aegyptus, Britannia and Illyria, and also survived a possible legion rebellion with the 4 legion I put into Illyria. Bribed the Scythian barbarian horde; but not the Scythian raiders that go via Taurica and get caught up in battle there.  Persians and Roman legions stand off (i.e. combat was no result) in Syria.
End of turn 7 - Revolts occur across the Empire and put down some of them.  Persians come back to Syria.  I am now bribing some of the barbarians not to move.

Turn 8 – 339 AD
Amazingly all the non-Roman combat Vs the legions had no effect, all but one was a 1/2DE (which is no effect on legions)! German 25SP appears.  I bribe that instead of the Scythians.  Persia and Legions eliminate each other in Syria.
End of turn 8 - Syria cleared of the Persians.  Scythians are coming as bribing the Germans not to move instead. Illyrian revolt still going one year on. 

Turn 9 – 340 AD
Another 20SP of Germans appear that I will bribe.  Scythian horde bogged down in Dacia.  Persian 3SP into Syria but the Syrian militia knock them down to 1SP.  I lost 4 legions to the Illyrian revolt and 2 revolting militia still in Illyria. Mutual destruction in Aegyptus but the revolt there is put down.  I have three legions on the table, none coming at the end of the turn. 
End of turn 9 - I have three legions in the Empire.  Illyria still in revolt, some Persians arrive in Syria.

Turn 10 – 341 AD
A good turn - one lot of Scythians eliminated by the Dacian militia and attrition,the other raiding party goes to Thrace but eliminated by militia. Persians eliminated by Syrian militia and finally the revolt in Britannia put down.  And 3 legions return. Still bribing the two German stacks.
End of turn 10 - Dacian militia take care of the Scythians; Persians in Syria eliminated but Illyria still in revolt.

Turn 11 – 342 AD
not much to report - German raiding party appear but will bribe it to stay in Germania.  Attempted to put down revolt in Illyria but no luck.  Got back the rest of my legions.  Persian 3SP heading for Syria but not worried as militia in Syria is 5SP.
End of turn 11 - Illyria still in revolt! 

Turn 12 – 343 AD
Last turn. Failed to put down the revolt, failed to get rid of the Persians in Syria.  But other than that, I still control the rest of the Empire I had when the scenario started.  I control 80 victory points and only needed 65 to win!
End of game - never did manage to put down the Illyrian revolt; more Persians arrive in Syria.  Still own the rest of the empire though so a win!

Verdict
Firstly, I was really lucky with revolts - there is a third of a chance and so on average i should have got 4, but only got 2.  It would have been a very different game with a few more revolts, especially the midgame when I had so few legions - I would not have been able to put them down.

Secondly, I stopped worrying about the Treasury for both Persians an Romans after turn 3.  If I did not go crazy bribing barbarians (i.e. at least 50SP a turn!), the treasury was not going to be an issue for the Romans.  The Persians were getting enough they could but all their units back when needed.

Lastly, having some militia available in some of the provinces really helped offset the lack of legions and they saved the day quite a few times during the game.  Of course, this is offset by the fact that they have a random chance to revolt at a larger value than normal.

It is a little like a training game to show how Roman militia work, getting you ready for scenario 5 and 6 where they play a greater part than in this scenario. A bit of a slow moving game with some of the turns having very little of interest happening.  If more had happened though I would have lost!