Thursday, February 23, 2023

Con of the North: Day 3 of 3

Sunday, our last day of gaming at Con of the North.  I have seldom, if ever, signed up to play a war game at a con.  So I don't know what compelled me to sign up for a four hour, twelve person, stint of Memoir 44.  Perhaps it was the n00bs welcome language in the listing.  Perhaps it was a desire to figure out what the Memoir 44 thing was all about as it's always at cons I'm at and I've never played it despite having once been an obsessive war gamer.  You can imagine my trepidation when I walked into the room and was confront with this....  Where the guy in the hat is sitting, that's where I ended up sitting.  I contemplated whether I had completely misread the listing - double checked it - but it assured me I was in the correct place for a casual learning game.

I played the Axis on Utah beach during D-Day.  It was not too difficult to learn, although we did get dumped in the deep end so it was difficult to find our own reinforcements and in a few places we didn't quite understand what our options were.  For instance.  It took me a while to realize I should use my big guns against the guy to my right rather than the guy right in front of me.  When I spilled over fire and a few tank and troop units to my ally [not the allies] over there, his whole game slightly turned and so did mine.  The allies had to pull their destroyer in to deal with me pummeling my right flank which gave me the opportunity to take out their destroyer.  My opponent still did better than me - he had access to a lot of free points by capturing the beaches and some close landmarks.  But for raw casualties, I was cleaning up and starting to turn the tide on both sides, grinding him to a halt on the left and pulling up a wave of nasty reinforcements on the left despite him pushing ahead past the beach.

But it wasn't enough.  After about 2.5 hours we [the Axis, more specifically Germany] lost 73 to 74.  Yah, by a point, in what sort of amounted to real time.  You took turns, but not axis/allies/axis/allies for a whole side.  Each "pair" across from each other was barreling along at their own speed and as the guy across from me and I got more familiar with it we were really plowing along.  I suspect I actually helped the Allies win by giving him an efficient path to a lot of points that he could then spill over to friends who weren't doing as well on their beaches [I know that happened for both of us].

The game itself reminded me a lot of the Battlemasters game Kyle and I [and Dan'l] played back in the day.  Just slightly more complex and you had to take some things like terrain into account.  I had a blast.  And to top it off, at the end they gifted two boardgames randomly.  The guy across from me didn't win, but his son next to him did and dad told him which game to pick because he already had the other one.  So I got the other one.  But that means I got a game that he valued enough he had previously purchased it himself as a wargamer.  I picked up Warfighter: The Modern Special Forces Card Game.  It's 4tth edition so someone must really enjoy it beyond my opponent.  And it really does look like a lot of fun.  The box weighs a ton.  I'll queue it up for after a game of The Shores of Tripoli with my wife.

A few rounds of ad hoc Timeline: Events.  I stopped into Aeryn's room to say "hi" and got pulled in.  I'm glad I have this photo, because I totally forget to record my plays on Boardgamegeek. What I learned from Timeline is that I'm old enough I don't have to guess at the more modern events.  Sigh.  The guy in the yellow shirt was wonderful.  He uses board games to teach students history and when I mentioned I had Shores of Tripoli but was really after Votes for Women, he told me all about having Votes for Women and Marrying Mr. Darcy as games he used for teaching.  That's got to be a lot of fun.

Speaking of Marrying Mr. Darcy... I own this game but it's been a looooong time since I played it.  Aeryn and I both got in on the action.  With a table of eight, it's a little less fun imo.  The basic idea is there's a deck of events and you go through them randomly, all of them.  Each person gets an event and it keeps looping clockwise, so with eight people you can't really strategize because the randomness is going to mess you up.  I played Elizabeth and got the numbers I needed for my two best matches, but one of them disappeared in a surprise proposal and the other was someone else's second proposal when they failed to garner their proposal of choice.  I went old maid.  I still did really well as I had a lot of wit [yah, I did a good job of witting up the wittiest character in Pride and Prejudice] and other characteristics I'd managed to increase, but not a win.  And for both Aeryn and I there were a few extended loops where neither of us was doing much of anything.  Boardgamegeek says it's best with four [4] and I'd agree.  That would be much better.

I finished out the day with one of the oldest post Milton Bradley big box games in my own collection, Puerto Rico.  This one had been played so much the 'coins' had literally had their values rubbed off.  I had fun, but it took the full two hours, which is a LONG game of Puerto Rico.  A lot of decision paralysis going on.  I sped it up significantly by focusing on the collect and ship roles to literally run the victory point pool out early.  While I had a good time, it reminded me of why I don't play it anymore.  If you know the buildings well, there are some fairly straight forward tactics/choices based on what you have access to when.  You can "learn" the best strategy for PR, particularly if you know the buildings.  If you approach it more randomly....a bad building choice makes it very difficult to recover.  For me...I had a difficult time finding any cash throughout the game, although the harvest/trade strategy still garnered me a better end position than I probably should have had with no big point buildings.

Overall, a great con and I enjoyed hosting some games even if I wasn't playing them.  Definitely one I'd do again, particularly as it's still during the winter and doesn't interfere with cycling and the outdoors.

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