Monday, November 09, 2009

Fall In AAR

I attended the Fall In historical miniatures convention in Gettysburg this weekend. We had quite a few people from our group in attendance, including our friend Mustafa who now lives in DC.

I arrived Thursday night, grabbed dinner, then participated in the DBA Wimpy Wars event. The event involved armies comprised of a minimum of six stands of skirmishers (light horse or psiloi). I used IV/47 Golden Horde with an army list consisting of 1xCv (G), 3xCv, 6xLH, 2xBw. I went 3-1 in the event, losing in the championship match. Oh well... maybe next time. It was a lot of fun. The DBA crowd is a fantastic bunch of guys, and I always have a good time when I play with them.

Mustafa arrived Friday morning with the relatively new Fantasy Flight game Chaos in the Old World. We both wanted to play it, so we found a third person (it requires 3 or 4 players) and went to it. It was a learning experience for us, but the game moved along rather well. Sadly, the third player had to leave when we were halfway done. Still, I found the game very enjoyable. Its a multiplayer game of world domination/destruction. Its interesting in that there are a couple of ways to win and each faction has a different set of abilities and objectives. More on this later...

On Friday afternoon, we played in an Impetus learning scenario. Impetus is a set of ancient and medieval warfare miniature rules. The scenario was a typical Greek Hoplite battle pitting two armies consisting of spearmen and skirmishers against each other. Each side chooses a command to activate and rolls two dice. The winning side activates the command by moving, fighting, and/or shooting. Then the two sides repeat until all commands have acted. Combat uses the "buckets of dice" mechanic, with the number of dice rolled determined by the unit type and situational modifiers. The side that suffers the most hits loses combat and is pushed back. The winner has the option to pursue, triggering another round of combat if the pursuit is successful. Combat continues until one unit breaks or the winning unit fails to maintain contact. I thought the game worked very well. The mechanics are quite elegant, which allows the game to really flow. Players have interesting decisions to make, ranging from which command to activate to pushing units to take additional moves at the risk of disruption. I was impressed enough to purchase the rules.

After the Impetus match, we decided to grab some dinner and try Chaos in the Old World again. We had three players again this time: Mustafa playing Khorne, Roy playing Nurgle, and me playing Tzeentch. I altered my strategy a bit from the first game, focusing more on my disruptive magic instead of direct action. It worked rather well, allowing me to get an early lead. Things tightened up in the mid game, but I still hung on. When I got my second upgrade, I decided to take a chance, announcing that I might be snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. It turns out that I was right. I wasn't able to utilize my new ability and Mustafa pulled ahead. I had a chance to tie it in the end, but a string of bad luck prevented it and sealed Mustafa's victory. It was a pretty close game and was a lot of fun. I liked the game a lot. Each faction is quite different, but they all seemed pretty balanced to me. One word of warning... The game is designed with the assumption that there will be a lot of backstabbing among the players. It is definitely not for the faint of heart.

On Saturday morning, Roy, Mustafa, and I spent a couple of hours playtesting our new air combat rules. Mustafa and I used to be really into WWII air combat gaming, but ended up falling out of it. We decided to write our own rules, with the goal of getting something between the fidelity of Fighting Wings and the playability of Check Your 6. We had a pretty good session, putting the game through its paces and creating a list of comments. We are pretty close on the flight model, but we have a bit of work to do on the combat system. My goal is to have something worth playtesting by spring, hosting a demo game at either Cold Wars or Historicon. Hopefully I'll have a chance to work on the game over the holidays.

The last event that I played in was a DBM game Saturday evening. I used a borrowed Visogothic army and fought a Han Chinese army. My opponent set up defensively in a corner, forcing me to try to dig him out. On my right flank, his light horse and bows tried to disrupt my knights and cavalry. In the center, my warband were delayed by skirmishing light horse. Luckily, I had a couple of elements of cavalry on my left flank that could move unopposed. The cavalry fell upon the Chinese camp, while the knights and cavalry duked it out with the bows. I was able to cause a lot of casualties, but eventually my command broke. Luckily, my cavalry was able to make short work of the baggage, and coupled with a few additional casualties, I was able to break a command and then the army. Thanks go to Rich, my opponent, and Howard, who loaned me the army. Also thanks to the whole DBM crew, who answered all of my questions and provide a few tips along the way.

The shopping was okay, not great. The flea market was a bit disappointing. I had hoped to pick up some cheap guys, but there were few to be found. I did pick up a copy of Funcken's Age of Chivalry and Arms and Uniforms, which made me quite happy. I picked up a couple of other books as well. Overall, the shopping was a bit meh... Oh well, you can't have it all.

IMO, the convention was a great success. I enjoyed all of the games that I played and I got to hang out with friends. I have a lot going on at work and at home, and this was a fantastic way to spend a weekend.


Mustafa said...

It was great to hang out with you and Roy and play Angels 20, CitoW, Impetus, etc.

I fully concur with you about both CitoW and Impetus. Especially Impetus - I was very impressed with how the game flowed. Too bad I'll only get to play it about once a year.

You should see if you can convert some of the DBA players to basic impetus, which seems to be roughly the same amount of cool in a smaller and even faster playing package.

Kevin Serafini said...

Yeah, it was certainly a good time!

I actually think that DBA is better than Basic Impetus, especially once you "get" that it is basically chess with nice figures and dice. Its quick, requires minimal investment, and has a depth of play much greater than the rules would indicate.

I think Impetus might win for bigger, historical battles. I'd really like to try it with a couple of historical matchups: Romans vs Carthaginians or Barbarians, Crusaders vs Muslims, and maybe a Dark Age battle. Its cleaner and doesn't appear to built for tournaments, so it might work really well. My biggest concern is that activations are sequential, so you will have a lot of people sitting around doing nothing.

Mustafa said...

Just two clarifications - basic impetus has only one command per side so your downtime would be about the same as DBA. Also, since the army lists are much smaller, the investment need not be that much greater than DBA.

But, in any case, DBA is probably the better chess-with-figures-and-a-die game. I should also point out that neither of us really know this fore sure and neither of us, not having played any bImpetus know whether it has less or more depth of play than DBA.

Since I'll likely not play either with any regularity, I really should disqualify myself from commenting further on this topic.

Kevin Serafini said...

Oh, one thing that I need to clarify...

I think the downtime in Impetus would only be meaningful if you were trying to do a multi-player game. If you were playing with two players, I don't think it would be an issue.