Gaming Marathon

Two old friends. Time off from partners and children. A huge boardgame collection. The occasional beer or two (or three…) There’s nothing like an entire day and two evenings of gaming—yes, a marathon session of seven (count ’em, seven) different games, covering the gamut from WWII simulation to spaceship combat to post-apocalyptic skirmishes. In this little photo essay you’ll experience the highs—and in my case, mainly the lows—of the joy of boardgaming!

We decided to get the hardest game out of the way first while our minds were fresh, and brought out Tide of Iron. This game is a really satisfying simulation of World War II combat, but the rules are quite complex, and personally I wouldn’t even try to play without my own reference sheets! We played the first scenario from the excellent hardback book the Designer Series,which is called The Twin Villages and is set during the Ardennes Offensive. As the Americans I failed completely to hold back the German advance, foolishly moving my Sherman tanks into firing range long before I should have, and paying the price.

Tide of Iron

Tide of Iron: the gaming marathon gets off to an intense and complex start.

I’d been itching try out the new Hasbro spaceship combat game Battleship Galaxies (not least so I could write up a review for this blog) and the game definitely didn’t disappoint! As the human ISN fleet, unfortunately, I got my proverbial flagship kicked. Still, there’s quite a bit of luck involved and I refuse to take any responsibility for being wiped out and exposing the Earth to alien invasion. OK?

For an in-depth analysis of Battleship Galaxies, check out our articles: Part 1 and Part 2.

Battleship Galaxies

Battleship Galaxies of Iron: the first play of this new game proved to be a winner.

Pizza had been bought and consumed and it was getting late so we decided to give our brains a rest by playing a game from the distant past, Dark World: Village of Fear. This old 90s kid’s fantasy game is a fantastic example of the kind of over-the-top production that was popular in the wake of the success of Heroquest. It‘s quite a rarity on Ebay nowadays and I’d spent a couple of Sunday afternoons painting up the copious amount of plastic in the box. Unfortunately, despite looking spectacular, it’s not much of a game—very basic, poorly balanced, and somewhat tedious. We gave up before the end. Oh well, file that one under ‘play with young nephews’ then!

Village of Fear

Dark World: Village of Fear: ‘taking a break’ with this early 90s kid’s game wasn’t such a great idea after all.

The next day we started off with another new game, Conquest of Nerath, and this proved to be a highly enjoyable conquest game. The rules are easy to learn and you’re plunged into the confrontations right from the first turn. My opponent played the allied realms of Karkoth (uundead) and the Iron Circle (orcs and goblins) against my allied kingdoms of Vaillin (elves) and Nerath (humans), and he immediately began wiping out a couple of strongholds I held on isolated peninsulas. The game is very easy to pick up, and has an ingeniously simple combat system; basically each unit needs to roll a 6 to hit, but uses a different die, from 6-sided for footsoldiers to 20-sided for the dragons. Throw in a few easy to remember specialised abilities and you’re done. Your heroes can also take side trips to dungeons (some of which old Dungeons & Dragons players will recall, like the Tomb of Horrors) to fight monsters and gain treasures which may help during the battles. Each nation has a separate Event card deck tailored to its fighting style as well. It’s fast, furious and confrontational, and successfully does away with unnecessary ‘rules bloat’. Highly recommended.

Conquest of Nerath
Conquest of Nerath

Conquest of Nerath: easy to play, a lot of fun, this conquest game is just the thing for relaxed but competitive gameplay.

I splurged recently and bought the Dust Tactics premium pre-painted edition, and it’s rapidly becoming one of my favourite games. On the surface this looks like a ‘dumbed-down’ miniatures game, but in fact its simplicity hides some very strategic and enjoyable gameplay. The scenarios are well-designed, the figures are fantastic and we had great fun playing this one—in fact we played two games in a row. This game seems to have been a hit for Fantasy Flight Games, because they are releasing a revised core set (with a whole new selection of figures), various unit expansions, and soon a hardback book called Dust Warfare which details a set of tabletop miniatures rules.

For now, however, I’m really enjoying the simple rules of the Dust Tactics core set. Movement is simply from square to square, and line of sight is measured between the central dots printed on the squares. You have to keep an eye on the abilities of your units and walkers however, as it’s no good, for example, going up against a ‘Ludwig’ Panzer Kampflaüer II-B walking tank with just a unit of Recon Rangers—they won’t be able to so much as scratch its paintwork! Deploying and moving your units optimally is the crux of the game—and a healthy dollop of lucky dice rolling too, of course! Both of our games came right down to a last crucial dice roll, which to me is the sign of a really well-balanced and fun game.

Dust Tactics
Dust Tactics
Dust Tactics
Dust Tactics

Dust Tactics: definitely becoming a favourite. Note the cupped hands about to make that crucial dice throw!

It was time to tackle another new game and I brought out Earth Reborn, the huge new game of post-apocalyptic combat from Z-Man Games. It took us a little while to get our head around this one, but luckily the scenarios ease you into the game, introducing game concepts in sequence so you don’t have to deal with the entire ruleset at once. The only tricky concept is the assigning of Command points to Order tiles. This system gives you an incredible amount of flexibility and a lot of interesting choices, but is quite unusual and may take a few tries to ‘click’: this is a game for hobbyists, not casual Ticket to Ride-style gamers! Once you realise that you can assign multiple points to an order tile, and thus execute multiple types of actions in your turn, it all comes together and you realise how much potential the game has. The scenarios are very thematic and fun—the first one details the excape of a female NORAD agent from a mansion with the aid of a besotted Frankenstein-like creation, and has one of the enemies start in the bathroom! I can see many hours of good gaming in the future with this game, exploring all its possibilitiesa.

Earth Reborn

Earth Reborn: a bit brain-burning but interesting to play (figures in the game come unpainted).

So there you have it! The marathon finished off with a game of Merchants & Marauders, a casual and enjoyable pirate game which lacks a little bit of tension, but makes up for it with being very thematic and a fun experience, rather than a competitive game.

Not surprisingly, we were both pretty exhausted after playing seven games in a row—with breaks for food, conversation and sleep of course! It just goes to show however, what an interesting, fun and rewarding hobby boardgaming can be, and what a great way it is to pass the time. Even if you do have a bad habit of losing, as I do …

Tell us about some of your recent game sessions— do you prefer one-off games, long multi-game sessions, small or large groups, particular styles? Let us know!

The games shown may be custom painted or have personally added or modified components, and don’t necessarily show what comes in the box!