Friday, December 05, 2008

An evening at war (Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear!, Wings of War)

This evening started with a healthy debate on the pros and cons of the current plans for a coalition governments in Canada during this economic crisis. I think we came to the conclusion that's it's a good thing. Also, that it's a bad thing. Glad we got that all cleared up.

With only four players this week, I took advantage of my pick and chose to try out Conflict of Heroes on the group. I've played a number of scenarios already, and already knew that I liked it as a two player wargame, but I wasn't sure how the 4 player scenarios would work out or if Shemp and Luch would like it.

We played the online scenario "Smolensk Breakout". It's a beginner's scenario for 2-4 players where the germans are hold up in a series of buildings trying to defend from the surrounding russians until their own reinforcements arrive. It's entirely infantry based, but there are cards in the mix. On first inspection, it seemed perfect for the occasion.

Mechanically, I'd say Shemp and Luch caught on very quickly. Shemp tamed up with Kozure as the attacking russians, and Luch and I played the defending germans. Once the concept of action points, command action points and opportunity actions are understood this game is a walk in the park rules-wise. For a wargame, that's an admirable achievement.

In the end, though, the experience wasn't as much fun as I'd hoped. There was a couple of factors which led to this:

1) We were playing too slowly. The game is easy enough to play quickly, and so with a bit more experience with the system we should get there. If the scenario played out to 5 rounds in an hour, as the scenario suggests, the experience would have been much improved.
2) I was on the defending side, and I played too aggressively. By taking unnecessary risk, I lost some important units. As the game progressed, the lost units contributed to a somewhat boring losing proposition for the germans. There was little tension or sense of struggle for either side... the germans were going to lose, it was just a matter of how badly.
3) We messed up with the reinforcement schedule, placing all the russians on the board in the first round. This, of course, added to the lopsided scenario.

By the end of the third round, we called it a win for the russians. All of my units were eliminated, and Luch had maybe two left. It wasn't pretty.

I don't want to fault the scenario or the game. As I said, I think Luch and Shemp would be willing to give it another go. With a bit of experience under our belt, I still think it could be a really fun 4 player experience. We had a couple of questions regarding the 4 player game rules, but nothing too serious.

(as an aside: Having played a 5 scenarios at this point, I'm starting to feel the limitations of the system a little more than I had in the beginning. The loss of leaders, the integration of squads and their weapons into a single counter, etc all add up to a simpler experience than a slightly more complex game such as the Ln'L system. There was a moment in Wednesday's game where Shemp destroyed a machine gun squad, and I realized there was no way for him to use it. It was a little disappointing to notice that such small things mattered to me more than I initially expected).

We finished up with another round of Wings of War. As the Red Baron (again) I flew literal circles around Kozure's Spad. However, my shooting left something to be desire, and Shemp eventually joined the fray to finish me off. I could't defend myself and was the first player eliminated. Somehow, Luch recovered from my loss and managed to take down Shemp and Kozure. Victory for the forces of GOOD!!!" It was lots of fun.


  1. I apologize again for screwing up the reinforcement schedule - I won't make that mistake again. For the record, the units for the scenario had been placed on the scenario card but had covered up their reinforcement scheduling timing. I should have noticed that they were not due on until the second turn on the turn track, though. We did our best to compensate by keeping the second of the two reinforcement units off board until the following turn, and awarding initiative to the Germans two turns in a row, but by then the damage was already done.

    Most games of this nature either have the spaces where you put the pieces for reinforcements the same size as the counters so you can see the accompanying text, or don't have images to put the pieces on at all, and you don't have to worry about obscuring text.

    In any case, any evening where more wargames are featured is a win in my book. I'm sorry that it wasn't quite the fully balanced experienced it should have been.

  2. Don't blame yourself Kozure, as I tried to point out there were a number of factors. The fact that I wasted some of the german's best units was just as damaging. Also, I was the one that knew the scenario, so I should have been paying closer attention.

    Regardless, I agree that it would be nice if this caught on and some more wargames were played in the group!

  3. Great write ups. I agree that this firefight may be a little more difficult than we intended for beginners. For beginners, the Germans often win, for experienced players, the Soviets.
    In the future, 4 player beginner games need to keep the allied players further apart, so both players from one side can take simultaneous actions and do not affect each other as much.
    Thanks for the reviews!
    Uwe Eickert
    Academy Games