Lionrampant's 2015 10x10 Challenge

A blog to record my thoughts as I play through the 2015 10x10 challenge.

Archive for Aaron Thorne

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Game Played (82 of 100) - B6

Aaron Thorne
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Play Report: Played the Cunaxa scenario from Lost Battles, Cyrus vs. Artaxerxes. Even though Artaxerxes himself was wounded or killed when he rolled a "4" on a rally attempt, he scored a narrow victory by 3 points due to the handicap working in his favor. The interesting thing about that is that it was a veteran hoplite unit forced to make an all-out attack that caused the final rout, but without those 4 victory points Cyrus would have scored the narrow victory, instead. In truth, though, the Cyrus side earned that defeat by rolling lousy for many attack rolls.
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Sat Oct 31, 2015 3:32 pm
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Game Played (81 of 100) - B5

Aaron Thorne
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Play Report: It was suggested that my next play of Lost Battles be the battle of Issus. Without any better ideas, that is what I did. This scenario provides three new elements that I have not dealt with before: a brilliant leader (Alexander), terrain (hills and river), and a camp. This was the longest game I have played yet, with the battle going into the seventh turn. In the end, Alexander the Great scored a dominant victory, driving the Persians from the field. However, the Macedon average leader was killed, three units were shattered, and many other units were spent, so it wasn't a totally dominant, crushing victory. I have to admit, though, the ability to reverse turn order is super nasty. The Macedon player used that ability to wipe out the Persian right flank, but the rest of the army still stuck around for three turns.

I must admit that I realized late in the game that I had done some of the morale calculations incorrectly, and I think three Persian hoplites fled the field when they should have stuck around. That being said, I also didn't subtract the -1 for the Persian average leader being killed (the silly person rolled a "2" on that rally check) once that occurred, so I don't think that the end result was significantly impacted. So not a perfectly played game, but an interesting one.
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Sat Oct 31, 2015 4:49 am
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Game Played (80 of 100) - B4

Aaron Thorne
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Play Report: Another game of Lost Battles, this time playing the Leuctra scenario. The Spartans won with a ridiculous score of 107 to 42. This battle was interesting because the Spartan center actually broke on turn 5, causing over half a dozen units (all levy, if I remember correctly) to flee. However, the veteran hoplites on the Spartan right could not be denied. They caused enough hits over the turns to the Theban left flank that even with Epaminondas rallying units multiple times they finally broke when four units were shattered and they got that permanent -1 to the morale checks. When they broke, the entire flank went, along with the center, leaving only a light infantry and heavy cavalry in the rear.

Lost Battles - 1/3 Impressions: This system is growing on me. I haven't played any scenarios with terrain or camps (that should come soon), so I can't speak to that part of the system, but the key to the whole thing is morale. You really want to avoid getting a -1 to your morale, whether from losing control of your central zones or having too many units shattered. Once you have that, it is hard to keep anything but veteran units on the field. And without units on the field, of course, you will not win.
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Sun Oct 25, 2015 11:32 pm
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Game Played (79 of 100) - B3

Aaron Thorne
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Play Report: More Lost Battles, this time moving to the battle of Marathon. As opposed to the hoplite vs. hoplite battle that I played previously, this one has Athenian hoplites (that's literally all there is) vs. mostly levy Persian archer infantry, though a couple hoplite and heavy cavalry thrown in to mix things up. The battle ended up with the Athenians fleeing the field and the Persians winning a major victory.

But, hoo boy, did I get a lesson in the morale rules. For some reason, I was convinced that if forces attack from a space then the lead unit for that attack has to stay the lead unit whether it becomes spent or not. This is not true, but I had thought it was, so the Persian assault in the center ended after turn 2 with a spent average archer unit in the lead. When the Athenians fought back on their turn, this unit took a hit, which would shatter it. For morale, I rolled a "1" and after calculating the effect I realized that every single Persian force would flee the board, except for the single unit of average heavy cavalry. Ummm.... what? That seemed wrong. Some furious rulebook searching turned up this bold sentence on page 20 of the rulebook: "As soon as a fresh lead unit becomes spent in combat, you may (but need not) remove it from the lead." Okay, so that archer unit didn't need to stay in the lead when it got spent. Good to know, but is that really going to cost the Persians the game?

Wait, there is a commander in that space! The commander bravely made a rally attempt, a "10" was rolled, and the total collapse of the Persian army didn't actually happen. That's not the way that events are supposed to be sequenced, but it was sufficiently dramatic that I'm going to let it slide.

For those of you keeping score at home, wondering how the Persian army would collapse that easily on the first shattered unit, the trick is that they allowed the Athenians to march into the left and right centre spaces unmolested, to allow the Persians to hit first. This worked, but it gave the Persians a -1 to morale as long as the Athenians were there. Add that to the fact that most of the Persian army is levy (with a native -1 to morale checks). So... the strategic ploy worked, but only due to a lucky rally roll (and the Persian player being kind of an idiot about remembering rules). Perhaps not the best strategy to use in the future.
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Mon Oct 19, 2015 11:10 pm
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Game Played (78 of 100) - B2

Aaron Thorne
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Play Report: As noted previously, this is a replay of 1st Mantinea with Lost Battles. Even when playing it properly, the result was still basically the same, with the Argives scoring the victory, in roughly similar fashion, even though they got routed from the field. However, the Argives did a lot of damage to the Spartans. The dice really favored them, giving them lots of command points and lots of successful attacks. So, I'm not sure that tactics had that much to do with it, but I do find it interesting that the Spartans can't overcome the handicap to score a game victory.

The game did play much smoother this time, though, and I was surprised at how fast the collapse can come when you roll a low number for morale. The long list of combat modifiers is still taking a while to get used to, but things are moving a bit faster. I think I'm ready to tackle another scenario.
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Mon Oct 19, 2015 10:54 pm
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Game Played (77 of 100) - B1

Aaron Thorne
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Play Report: Finally, I have made it to Lost Battles. While I have been looking forward to playing this, it is also somewhat intimidating. How many other games come with a 200+ page book that describes in detail the system and why it is the way that it is? That is some crazy attention to detail. Add to that the fact that the rules are over 40 pages long (admittedly, some of that is pictorial examples), and there is a lot going on here. And I didn't even know until recently that this thing comes with an entire campaign game, called Empire, inside the game box. Crazy.

Anyway, for the first game played, I picked 1st Mantinea, because it has no odd terrain and is mostly hoplites. In my play, the Spartans took four turns to kick the Argives off of the field (the started running away), but almost all of their units got spent in the process, so when applying the handicap rules the Argives won, anyway. I had a hard time calculating the specific difference, but I think the Argives won a clear victory because handicap points were 92 for the Argives vs. 68 for the Spartans (24 point gap) and the handicap threshold was 27 points (40 less the original 13 point difference).

Who really knows, though, because I screwed up a bunch of rules. For some reason I was convinced that spent units could not attack. This is not true, they can attack. I also was pretty consistently mis-applying combat modifiers, but not consistently enough to say that both sides had it fair. I know I messed up command points at least once, as well. So, in my next play, 1st Mantinea will get played again, and let's see if I can do it right this time.
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Mon Oct 19, 2015 12:09 am
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Game Played (76 of 100) - D10

Aaron Thorne
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Play Report: My final play of Field Commander: Napoleon. This time I played the 1814 France campaign, and for the first time ever the dice loved me in this game. I kept rolling the Fog of War result that lets me get new French units for just two resource points, which got me lots of cannons early. Then those canoons hit at least 80% of the time. In fact, most of my units hit in combat more often than they should have based on their combat ratings. Heck, in one combat I had a cavalry unit charge and take out three units by itself (two failed shock checks and a double-damage attack result). Things went so good that I scored a superior result (30 points), and right before rolling for resupply for the enemy on the next to last turn of the game, there were no surviving enemy units on the entire map. Just total domination from start to finish. I even took a grand total of 0 losses in combat. Insane, but fun!

Field Commander: Napoleon - Final Impressions: I have come to grips with this game. It is perhaps too random. The scenarios perhaps take a bit more time to play than I would prefer. It is a historical era that I am not particularly interested in. It is a good game, however, providing a wide variety of strategic situations to grapple with. There is a high amount of replayability, and even though the game is fairly expensive, if you play all of the scenarios you will get your money's worth from it. This game is a keeper.
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Wed Oct 14, 2015 4:31 am
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Game Played (75 of 100) - D9

Aaron Thorne
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Play Report: Another day, another Field Commander: Napoleon play. This time I played the Prussian Campaign from 1813, and I must say that I did not do so well, ending the campaign with one city under French control, resulting in an inferior result. I spent most of the campaign feeling flummoxed, as I was quickly surrounded by a never ending stream of enemy forces. In fact, during the last turn Napoleon's forces in Dresden got attacked by no fewer than 31 enemy units. 31! My only hope was to fight as short a battle as possible and then hope to get an "enemy retreat" result. That would have left me with two cities, earning a historical result. Alas, the French retreated, instead. Stupid dice.
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Mon Oct 12, 2015 4:04 am
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Game Played (74 of 100) - D8

Aaron Thorne
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Play Report: Back to Field Commander: Napoleon. This time I am playing the Russian Campaign, which looks to be pretty nasty. This campaign has lots of special rules, and is not the standard "land grab" type campaign. Instead, you need to get to Moscow, and then retreat almost all the way back across the map. Once you leave Moscow a whole lot of Russian forces show up, so it behooves you to save some supply points to let you double move out of the pincer. In addition, every turn you have to check for casualties due to weather/lousy conditions. For every two units you have, you take one hit. That is a lot of hits each turn. Controlling cities lets you diminish that, but it never becomes truly manageable unless you have lost too many units.

I barely got a historical result (21 victory points), and early on I didn't think I was even going to get that, as the Russian forces in the first 3 battles hit about 70% of the time. I lost a good 1/3 of my forces early on thanks to that. Thankfully my luck improved later on, but it took a bit of good fortune to get me back home in any semblance of order.
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Sun Oct 11, 2015 1:51 am
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Game Played (73 of 100) - F10

Aaron Thorne
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Play Report: Finally, my last play of Anima. I used all three games (Shadow of Omega, Beyond Good and Evil, and Twilight of the Gods), and there were two players. I lost, but it was pretty epic, I have never had a game go into "Final Crisis!" mode before because we were both too lame to defeat the final boss (who admittedly had two stages) in the turns available. However, during the final chance my opponent had the right Advantage card and got a lucky die roll to win at the last possible moment.

Anima - Final Impressions: I am really torn about this game series. I really like Shadow of Omega, but I am not sold on the two other games in the series. They add more cards, but in general it just makes the game longer and crazier. There are some nice cards in those sets, but some really nasty ones, as well. The expansions also make the game take longer. So, in the end, my opinions are mixed. Shadow of Omega is probably staying in my collection long term, but I'm not sure that the others will.
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Mon Oct 5, 2015 9:28 pm
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