Commands & Colors: Napoleonics: Russian Expansion Preview

February 5, 2013

After the awesome game-giving generosity of my family at Christmas, I am eagerly awaiting the next few expansions to C&C: Napoleonics. Word just came out today that GMT Games is charging the credit cards of those who preordered the Russian expansion and games will be shipping toward the end of this week. Getting this sort of news causes me to obsess more than a little about what might be in the box, but luckily C&C:N dot net spilled the beans today. You can now go here to check out the rules pertaining to the new army.

(From what I can gather, GMT Games sent advance information about this expansion to Michael Dippel, who creates the Napoleonics VASSAL modules free of charge so folks can play it online. Then on the day the credit cards were charged, Alesandro Crespi, who runs C&C:N dot net, was allowed to release this info. What an awesome sign of a board game publisher trying to strengthen the community people who play its games!)

So, how do these forest green fighters stack up against their opponents?

The Russians will field 15 different types of units: 6 infantry, 6 cavalry, and 3 artillery. I’m most impressed by the infantry, most of whom can ignore one retreat result in combat. So if you pit them against the other major nations, this is what you get:

British: Excellent at ranged fire.
French: Excellent at melee v.s. other infantry.
Spanish: Awful at everything (but hey, they’ve got guerillas)
Russian: Excellent at ignoring retreat results (to a point)
Austrians: Still unknown
Prussians: Still unknown

At the same time, Russian cavalry aren’t bad either, and in fact I’d say that they just squeak past the French in terms of ability, though I would guess they’ll be rare in the scenarios. Most cavalry field 4 blocks, and the elite units can often ignore two retreat flags.

The other thing that makes the Russians unique is unfortunately-named “Pre-Battle Mother Russia Roll.” (Say it ten times fast!) Some infantry units will be set up at partial strength (3 blocks), and then after a pre-battle roll of the dice is made, a few of those infantry can be beefed up to their “on paper” strength of 4 blocks. If one gets a different result, he or she can place fieldworks hexes or Cossacks. I’m particularly interested to see how the latter play out, as they are 2-block cavalry units that will not hit on saber results (making them weak in melee) and retreat 3 hexes per flag rolled against them (making them very apt to run away). At the same time, killing them off doesn’t net the French player any victory points, so you really can just send them at Napoleon’s columns in an attempt to break them up.

All in all, this looks like a strong addition to the Napoleonics line, and I may alter my routine, skip over the Spanish for a bit, and get the Russians to the table!

Expect an “Inside the Box” review soon. I’m interested to see if the disappointing drop in quality we saw in the Spanish expansion has been corrected.

2012 Personal Retrospective

January 1, 2013

Once again, it’s time for the statistical breakdown of last year’s gaming! I continued to keep a record of games played throughout the entire year and present my 2012 retrospective (2011 retrospective here, 2010 here, 2009 here):

Games played: 98 (down from 121 in 2011, a 20% drop)
Wins: 41 (41%, down 1% from 2011)
Losses: 57

Average time between games: 3.7 days
Best game month: March with 17 games played (mainly due to a Metro Game Day)
Worst game month: June and July with 3 games played each month (due to teaching summer school)

Two player games: 45 (45% of all games played)
Two player wins: 26  (58%, a 3% increase from last year)
Multiplayer games: 53 (55% of all games played)
Multiplayer wins: 17 (32%, an 9% increase from last year)
Multiplayer second place finishes: 20 (37% of all multiplayer games)

Most regular two player opponents
1. Sara (21 plays, 11 wins)
2. Rick (7 plays, 4 wins)
3. Russ (3 plays, 2 wins)
4. Joe (3 plays, 1 win)

Most popular games of the year
1. 7 Wonders (16 plays,  4 wins)
2. Commands & Colors: Napoleonics (11 plays,  9 wins)
3. Hive (9 plays, 8 wins)
4. Cribbage (8 plays, 4 wins)
5. Ingenious 6 plays, 1 win)

Games played for the first time: 12 (12%, the exact same as last year)

Most of these statistics came out as expected. My wife is stillmy most regular opponent and continues to be a very challenging adversary in our favorite games.

As I stated last year, I’m less concerned with winning than I used to be, though I will still be keeping up the yearly retrospective. My new year’s gaming resolution is simple: once again, try to get recently unloved games to the table. Here I Stand…wow, it’s been a while.

Happy New Year! I’d love to hear about your slightly less obsessive personal gaming retrospectives in the combox.

We’re Still Here! Plus iOS Games

December 20, 2012

Yes, the four horsemen of the boardgaming blogging apocalypse are still here (Rick, Russ, Joe, me). We are all living and breathing, just incredibly busy in our own ways, and more familial, academic, and professional responsibilities unfortunately means less time for gaming. But rest assured, dear readers, we will limp along here at Margin of Victory.

Juggling a new job, I haven’t had as much time to game as I’d like since September, but I have had some time to check out a few iOS implementations of some great board games on my iPad and iPod Touch. The first one I looked at was Neuroshima Hex back in April. It’s still a game I return to again and again because the AI is quite good, it’s easy to play against other people, and the electronic implementation enforces all the rules, some of which are a little vague in the original cardboard version. It’s also quite cheap ($2.99) and comes with the original four teams, while the five expansion teams are available as in-app purchases at $0.99 apiece or $3.99 for the group. It’s best on iPad, and I wouldn’t suggest checking it out on iPhone.

I’ve also purchased Ingenious, which I also prefer to play on the iPad. At $1.99, you’d think it’s a steal, but I have found that I much prefer the board game to the iOS app. The chief reason for this is that I find it difficulty to manipulate the pieces. Rotating them on the iPad is a pain, and there aren’t great tooltips for how to clear off your board and pick up all new pieces, which should be intuitive considering how critical it is to gameplay. After a few months of fiddling with the app, I’ve got the hang of it, but playing such a simple game should not be that difficult.

Last week I picked up the iOS implementation of Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer. This is the only board game app I own without having owned or played the actual board game first. It was free last week on Free App a Day, but now retails for $4.99. This may seem like a very high price point, especially considering the expansions are in-app purchases at $2.99 apiece, but I think it is well worth it. First, the game is a deck-drafting/Magic the Gathering mashup, which is awesome. Second, the soundtrack is excellent. Last (and most importantly) you can play 2, 3, or 4 player matches online using the app’s online game function. Most games play in 10 minutes or less, and the iPod implementation is just as much fun as the iPad one, featuring a zoom function that makes it easy to read card text even on a small screen.

I know we don’t normally do reviews on the blog, but there might be some iTunes gift cards in your stocking this Christmas, and if a foot of snow makes it impossible to get to your friendly local gaming store, checking out these apps might be worth your time.

Happy gaming!

2011 Personal Retrospective

January 6, 2012

Once again, it’s time for the statistical breakdown of last year’s gaming! I continued to keep a record of games played throughout the entire year and present my 2011 retrospective (2010 retrospective here, 2009 here):

Games played: 121 (down from 145 in 2010, a 17% drop)
Wins: 51 (42%, down 7% from 2010)
Losses: 70

Average time between games: 3 days
Best game month: July with 23 games played (mainly due to some new games arriving at home via Amazon)
Worst game month: November with 1 game played (due to work and family obligations)

Two player games: 75 (61% of all games played)
Two player wins: 40  (54%, a 15% drop from last year!)
Multiplayer games: 46 (39% of all games played)
Multiplayer wins: 11 (23%, an 11% drop from last year)
Multiplayer second place finishes: 18 (39% of all multiplayer games)

Most regular two player opponents
1. Sara (20 plays, 9 wins)
2. Rick (11 plays, 6 wins)
3. Russ (10 plays, 9 wins)
4. Joe (5 plays, 1 win)

Most popular games of the year
1. Manoeuvre (13 plays, 9 wins–absolutely loved the Toeurnament this year)
2. 7 Wonders (12 plays, 2 wins)
3. Cribbage (11 plays, 4 wins)
4. Hive (10 plays, 5 wins)
5. Commands & Colors: Napoleonics (6 plays, 4 wins)

Games played for the first time: 12 (9%)

Most of these statistics came out as expected. Joe continues to crush all opponents, especially me. I will take this opportunity to point out that Russ often narrowly loses games, and I am always surprised that my win/loss record against him is so good. And, as I expected, my wife is now my most regular opponent and continues to be a very challenging adversary in our favorite games like Manoeuvre, 7 Wonders, and Hive.

As I stated in an earlier post, I’m less concerned with winning than I used to be, though I will still be keeping up the yearly retrospective. My new year’s gaming resolution is simple: get recently unloved games to the table in 2012. Twilight Struggle, I’m looking at you. Come here, buddy. How about a hug?

Happy New Year! I’d love to hear about your slightly less obsessive personal gaming retrospectives in the combox.


Welcome to our new home!

October 4, 2011

Chances are you were directed here after you caught the announcement on the old site. Please do us a favor and update your links, bookmarks, and RSS feeds now! Thanks…

Giant Fighty Robots!

August 19, 2011

Russ and I are playing with the BattleTech quickstart rules tonight. Giant Fighty Robots, activate!

Lazers! Die, evil Russbot, die!

Wilderness War: PBEM Game with Jason from Point 2 Point

April 18, 2011

I am starting a game of Wilderness War online against Jason from the Point 2 Point podcast, which is the best wargaming podcast out there. I met Jason very briefly during the 2009 World Boardgaming Championships, and am very excited to…well, get schooled by him, probably! Stay turned for updates as we work our way through the campaign scenario.

Manoeuvre Toeurnament: Half-way Through the Groeup Phase

April 5, 2011

We are actually more than halfway through the Groeup phase of the Manoeuvre tournament but here are the results after 9 games. I’ll post some more updates at the conclusion of this phase.

Groeup A:
Sara 2-0
Rick 1-1
Hai 0-2

I think I need to eat my words on my initial assessment of this group. I barely squeaked out a victory against Hai in the first game after being down 4 units to 2. Then Sara trounced me in our match. She’s the one to beat now.

Groeup B:
John 2-0
Russ 1-2
Aaron 0-1

John took two quick victories against Russ to start his tournament. But Russ pulled off a victory against Aaron so he’s got a chance. This group could still go 2-2 across the board.

Groeup C:
Joe 2-0
Brad 1-1
Jess 0-2

Jess’s gut reaction when she saw her grouping has unfortunately been correct after losing to both Joe and Brad in one night.

So far the Russians have been the most used army. I think most people are using them to feel out the skill level of their opponents – pick a strong army but save the strongest in case they will need them in the re-match.

This has been a pretty exciting tournament so far stay tuned for more updates.

Manoeuvre Toeurnament: So It Begins

March 14, 2011

It’s not as big as I was hoping, but we’ve got 9 people signed up for the Toeurnament. The top player from each bracket plus the next best record will make it to the elimination bracket. The groups were decided randomly:

Groeup A: Rick (me), Sara, Hai
Groeup B: John, Russ, Aaron
Groeup C: Joe, Jess, Brad

I was happy to see that there is a game owner in each of the groups (John, Joe and me). This will help facilitate the games being played.

As far as the groups go, the experience levels are fairly well distributed. But based on number of games played alone, I probably have the best shot of advancing. Of course I will have to make sure I don’t underestimate Sara or Hai either.

My wife, Jess, was bummed with her grouping. Joe is a very talented player. And Brad, although he just learned this game a couple weeks ago, beat me in both of our games. For her sake, hopefully his beginner’s luck has run out.

Group B is the “Group of Death.” Aaron is the least experienced player in that group, but he is certainly capable. Because this group is the most evenly matched it’s likely that only one of these guys will come out of this stage.

Best of luck to everyone and I look forward to my first game with Hai on Wednesday.

Manoeuvre Toeurnament: Preview

January 19, 2011

As promised in my last post, I wanted to set-up and participate in a Manoeuvre tournament with my friends. There’s 4-5 of us that have played this quick playing, but very strategic wargame and several others that have tried it and liked it. So after some back-and-forth with friends about how to run it, here’s the preview of the tournament.

Manoeuvre Toeurnament 2011
Stage 0: Free Play (January ~ February)
This stage will be the learning stage. Anyone that is interested in playing but doesn’t know how to play will be taught the game. This will also give people an opportunity to brush up on their strategies and/or dice rolling abilities. People that try the game and decide it’s not for them can still back out at this point.

Stage 1: Group Stage (March ~ April)
All players will be randomly assigned to a group (think World Cup). In this group you will play all of the other group members once (possibly twice if numbers are low). Your final ranking within the group will be determined by your win/loss record. Each game you play will use the rules as printed for the 2010 version of this game. The only difference is that you choose your own armies but cannot play with the same army twice within this stage.

Stage 2: Elimination Rounds (May ~ June)
The top 2-3 players from each group will be seeded in a single elimination bracket. Strength of Armies used will break ties with the weaker armies used seeded higher. Rules will be the same as the group phase. You can’t use the same army twice, but the army options are reset for this phase. The winner will be crowned champion of Manoeuvre …at least for 2011.

The plan I had originally was much too complex and would probably turned off a lot of the more casual gamers. This is a simple system and should allow for ease of play by everyone. So far there are 7 people that have expressed interest and a few more I think that I can convert before March.

I’m also hoping the top players will be able to get together for a one day throw down in the elimination phases. And the championship game may be a best of 3 series. But we’ll see how it the initial stages go first.