Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hobby roundup

I had a chance to play Kings of War and Guild Ball a couple of weekends ago at a new venue in Huntsville.  The venue is called Rocket Republic, which is a craft-beer brewery.  They recently started hosting a monthly, Sunday meetup for tabletop gamers.

Gaming Taverns

This pairing of game-hall and tavern is a combination that I have long said should be the direction that game-stores should move towards.  There are instances of such establishments springing up around the country, where the combination is deliberate and full-time, not just a monthly event.  I really hope this trend continues.  Hopefully, this local event has legs, and it will either move to Saturday (and more frequently) or at least open its doors at 1pm instead of 3pm.

By the way, their brew, Vapor Trails, is one feel-good, frosty beverage.

Kings of War

I had a revelation about Kings of War, this being my second game.  First off, I should say, both of my games so far have been games at 1000 points.  The game is designed to be played somewhere around 2000 points.  I've suggested in the past that a game should be played at the size for which it is designed.  Otherwise, the game becomes skewed.

Different armies can gain more advantage at smaller sizes or at larger sizes, when compared to the game's "sweet spot".  Armies of different play styles might gain advantages, such as horde armies, stand-off ranged armies, or summoning armies.  The footprint of armies on the tabletop can affect their effectiveness, depending on whether there's more room to maneuver or whether units are congested.

Then there are differences due to the 'size of the battle', as opposed to 'size of the army'.  Playing 1000 points in Kings of War is enough to launch a half-dozen units at each other and work through the mechanics of the game.  Great for demos.  However, some rules might seem awkward at a unit level, as opposed to how they operate at the army level.

For instance, during my first game, I was put off by the 'Wavering' mechanic.  'Wavering' is a morale state, which basically paralyzes a unit, before the unit is completely routed.  The unit pretty much can't do anything.  They're just eating up time and space on the battlefield until the opposing unit finishes the job.

I have a similar mechanic in Mini Mayhem, called 'Shaken'.  A Shaken unit can't Charge or Pursue, and its combat effectiveness is degraded.  However, a Shaken unit can still fight, and it has a chance to Rally back to a Motivated state.  So by comparison, I felt that KoW's 'Wavering' was very lackluster compared to 'Shaken'.  It felt like it was an unnecessary time-sink in the game, waiting for the inevitable rout.

During my second game, I realized that I was judging 'Wavering' in the context of one match-up between units.  What my opponent helped me to realize was that I needed to consider 'Wavering' in the context of the larger game, the scale at which Kings of War is designed to be played.

At the larger scale, a 'Wavering' unit represents a unit that is still standing firm, enough for other friendly units to use the delay for the benefit of the larger army and the greater strategy.  The 'Wavering' unit can be used an "anvil" for a cavalry or infantry "hammer".  It can tarpit its opposing, enemy unit and delay their participation in other areas of the battlefield.  In short, the 'Wavering' mechanic can make a valid, tactical difference in the context of a higher-point game.  Kings of War just became a little more interesting...

Guild Ball

I continue to be very excited about Guild Ball.  Chris crushed me 6-0, and I still enjoyed the game.  The game was the fast-play variant, so the game resolved quickly enough to where I felt like it lasted long enough for me to learn more about my players and about my opponent's players, without the game dragging on and without me feeling like I was on the back foot. 

And the match's duration fit the narrative.  An opposing player used his inherent forte to strip the ball from my cluster of players to score a goal.  Then the opposing team's captain loaded up on Influence (action points) and pounded my weakest player into the ground.  Game over.  Quick, educational, and still fun.  Ready for more.

Confrontation Challenge -- Orcs of the Behemoth

I missed a weekend to work on my Orcs of the Behemoth for the January Confrontation Challenge, due to work.  This weekend I tried to catch up somewhat.  I still have a long way to go.  I'll probably end up picking only one or two miniatures to finish completely and leave the others for follow-up sessions in February.

I'm basically "color-sketching" at this point, seeking my color palette.  I want desaturated, cold colors to serve as the backdrop and "frame" for the faces, which will be painted with more saturated colors.  These guys will look better once I lay in some washes.

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