5:40 PM

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Gaming at NoVa Jacks, Saturday

Mister Nizz


A pleasant evening of chili and boardgames

I unexpectantly had an evening free last night, and rather than veg out or do something productive, I headed over to Hard Times Cafe in Springfield for dinner (and the OSU/Michigan game) and to hop over to gaming night at NoVa Comics. The crowd there (with Bill Edlard being the alpha male organizer type) is quite friendly and quite dedicated to getting in a lot of playing time. I recommend this group if you are in town or live around here-- they can be found here.

First on my list was LINE OF BATTLE, a game I'm reviewing for Paper Wars. It turned out to be a fun time-- I would rate it somewhere between the Admiralty triology and the GWAS series. I took a deliberate intro setup of two French battleships plus a small contigent of light cruisers and destroyers meeting a very similar German force in the Indian Ocean. The game mechanics are pretty straightforward, I thought, with the cheerful recommendation of "Ignore this when you play the first time" or "this is entirely optional", etc. So we played our first game with simple movement and initiative rules, no plotting and no advanced command rules. This was just to get the movement and firing mechanism down pat.

I probably came off as high-handed, walking in and setting up a game on one of the three tabeles, because the Saturday crowd is very Euro-centric. Fortunately David Hemingway, a guy I had bumped into just last week on the VRE train home, also stopped in on a miraculous night off, and he likes wargames. He took the Germans and I took the French. Immediately, I could tell that the designer probably took some broad shortcuts in his gunfire models, as the French and Germans were about equal even though their ships' guns were not. The only firing mod that came into play was crew quality which did impact things (you can imagine who had a below average crew). I thought that the designer (steven newberg) was concentrating on long range gunfire with this design, so I ended up acting pretty ahistorically with my little Gallic fleet, charging in to fire torpedos with my DDs and getting shot to pieces for my pains. The proper thing to do in game terms would have been to stand off and fire at the extreme range but that was too slow for me. So, David didn't have to work very hard.. I got a butt whomping, but I got to see how some of the key mechanics work, too.

The other game I played was NEXUS OPS, Avalon Hill's science fiction explore, exploit and exterminate game with big dayglo critters! You play the role of a mercenary captain trying to ruthlessly exploit a newly discovered planet with a mix of alien (and human) citters. The game has a nice mixture of design elements that are complimentary to each other-- hidden mission cards that grant you 1, 2, or 3 victory points if you fulfill the mission on them, plus regular battle cards that grant you 1 point of victory plus "Energizer" cards you get in defeat that give me bonuses. The objective is to control mines that give you more money that buy more units to blabh blah blab blah...

I won this handily, but to be fair, it's not the game it could be with only two players. I think it needs the full complement of 4 to play as designed.

So a pretty decent night of fun was to be had...