And one to my lass….

choices

Okay, we are now with the President of the Province of Bombay.  This member of the Hastings family has a number of choices to make.  The first choice to make is whether or not a “Campaign” action will happen.  This is when the army goes in and takes over the location, providing a few benefits for the company:  It creates a new Office:

gov

You can jam a family member there and they will be able to Campaign further (this one could take over Punjab, Mysore and/or Sindh), and they will be able to Invest in Bombay to possibly get it out of any economic depressions.  Or they can just collect taxes and pocket them because politics are hard and stuff.

In order to take over a location, you need to roll some dice.  You start off with zero dice, and then add as many Officers as you are willing to Exhaust (they won’t be able to be used for defense during the rest of the round).  Each one gives you a die to roll (3 Officers can be given to each President).  Then you can Exhaust as many cannons as you like, each of those giving you a die as well (no limit to those).  Then for each $2 you spend, you “hire a mercenary” and gain a die.  Then you subtract dice based on the Defense of the location you’re going after :

Defense

Whatever dice you have left, you roll!  Then you take the lowest number rolled: 1-2 Success! 3-4 Failure!  5-6 Ridiculous Failure, so bad that your family member is immediately fired with no possibility for retirement!  So there is risk in all rolls for things to go very, very wrong for you.

In this case, the President of Bombay has no Officers or Cannon, and only has $8.  Which means if I spent ALL money, it would be 3 dice, not great odds.  So let’s move on to the next choice.

Open Trade: This one is fairly simple.  For each $ you spend, you gain a die.  If you succeed, you take a Province from the “Closed” locations:

Closed

These are all the locations that are currently not trading with the EIC.  You can bring them under your wing, though with this Open Trade action fairly easily.  Benefits for this: More places to trade to = more money AND if you lose the last Province attached to a Presidency, that Presidency becomes CLOSED and you lose EVERYTHING attached to it, money, boats, EVERYTHING.  So why wouldn’t you just Open trade with EVERYONE?

Because Sailing everywhere is harder than sailing to one place.  The next action, “Sail Action,” is more difficult the more Open locations there are.  But I have $8, so I’m going to try and bring some folks on board.  So I will Open Trade with Mysore.  I will spend $3, so I roll 3 dice: 4,5,6.

YIKES!

Well, that’s that.  Shows you how nothing is for certain.  3 dice is clearly not a sure thing.  You need 4 or 5 to start feeling good about your roll.  So now action 3: Sail.  This is how you actually do your trading.  You roll 1 die for each dollar you spend, but you have to subtract dice equal to the number of open locations in the Presidency minus 1.  First one’s free!

Bombay is currently in an economic depression, and the Director of Trade only gave the President access to two boats, so the only thing it can trade is Spices which will earn the company $5.  Because of that, I will spend $4 so I can get a $1 profit.  Not great, but it’s something.

3,6,6,6

*blink,blink*

So, um.  Guess that’s not happening.  Guess Bombay is not going to be successful this turn.  So we move on to the Madras Presidency, who has the same three choices.

Again, Campaign is right out as we have no army to speak of.  I’m going to forgo trying to Open Trade as holding on to some money might be a good idea, so let’s just jump to Sailing.

Again, we only have 2 boats which can ship Handicrafts which earns $4.  I’ll roll 4 dice: even though this results in no gain, it will be able to give money to a more lucrative location (I hope Bengal will be this).

3,3,5,6

Oh COME ON!

*grumblegrumble*

Let’s just go to Bengal.  Here we have a Cannon, which isn’t enough to take Bengal over, but we’ll think about it later.  I’d love to open trade with Hyderabad:

Hyd

It’s the most lucrative location.  You only need one boat for each location, so with 3, you get $15.  Of course, the way these dice are going….Eff it.  3 Dice for Opening trade to Hyderabad.

2,3,4

FINALLY!  Okay, now I have 2 locations to ship to, so I’ll use all the rest of my money ($5) to roll 4 dice and hope to ship to all of them.

2,3,4,5

WOO HOO!

Capture

With a boat and a Good, I ship Indigo to Bengal.  And two boats and a Good, I ship everything to Hyderabad.  I put a black disk on all four of those numbers to show they were delivered and I move up the Revenue track to $21.

And that ends the Company phase.  Now we do a bit of book-keeping where we pay company expenses and distribute income….and maybe skim a few bucks off the top.

First the players receive any bonuses they would earn from a few bonuses.  The only one that is available is the “Presidential Bonus.”  For each black disk down for a successful delivery results in the family earning $1.  So the Benyon family nets $4 for the Bengal Presidency.

Now the Company has to pay for expenses, they are:

– Debt (The Chairman can place a black disc in the Court of Directors to gain $10 at any time during the Company phase, but at this point, for each black disk the company has to pay $1)

– Military Upkeep – $1 for each Officer and Cannon (costs $1 for this turn, our Revenue drops to $20)

-Shareholder Dividends – Every turn the company should pay $1 for each cube in the Court of Directors (this money does go to the family who ones the cubes).  If this is done once, the share price stays the same.  If this is done more than once, the share price goes UP.  If this is NOT done, the share price goes down.  If the share price is already 3, then you have Angry Shareholders and the government bails the company out.  It’s a big deal and I’ll explain later if we get close to that.  I have no problem with paying out $3 (since 2 will go to the Benyon family) as we’ll still have $17 to go to the Company and we’ll be able to earn a ton more next turn (and we’ll need it for the huge army that’ll show up).

After that, the Chairman puts the remaining money where ever you like.  I put a bunch in Bengal, a few in the other Presidencies, and the remaining in the Goods Purchasing Office so we can get some more.

Now the last phase is the “Evening Post” phase.  This is where we open the newspaper and go “Dear God!” because something awful is going to happen.  Sometimes.

news

First is Events Abroad.  Things happening in England, which is a Law Before Parliament.  This is a vote among the players (again, another time for wheeling and dealing).  Popular Support shows where the vote is currently, so this is going to vote “Yea” without player input.  So each player has a certain amount of Political Power, which is how many votes you get to cast.  It’s equal to the amount of Shipbuilders and Factories your family owns.  You can then spend $1 each for more votes.  This law would make those extra votes cost $2.  Not great for me because I only have one factory.  When I play solo, I make the Jones family always vote against me.  They only have 1 votes, so right now it’s +3.  I have one factory and it’s +2.  Is it worth spending $2 to make it fail?

Eh, the way my dice are rolling, I need to hold on to every dollar I have.  Besides, I could buy more factories and such if I need more voting power.  So the Reform Act passes.

Now we roll for Attrition.  This is where we see if our family members retire.  The chairman retires on a roll of 4-6.  Executive positions retire on a roll of 5-6, and Senior positions retire on a roll of 6.  So let’s see what happens:

*rollrollroll*

The only retiree is a member of the Benyon family who was formerly the Chairman (at 50% chance, that’s believable…but I’ve played games where the dude held on for generations…I hate that guy).

Now I can see if I can retire the former Chairman to a nice comfy gig.  According to my self-made solitaire rules, I have to have him marry a member of the Hastings family.

Wedding

The Chairman is an Executive position, so it costs $7 to purchase.  How much money does the Benyon family have?  Why, $7!  So we break the bank to move up in British aristocracy.  Typical.

Now we move on to Local News.  This is where things go….weird.  If you look our newspaper, it says there are 4 Events in India.  That means the “Elephant” (yup, an elephant meeple.  It’s awesome) will move 4 spaces this turn, triggering an event each time it moves.  It starts at location 1, so right away, it moves to location 2 (Maratha) and triggers an event:

Maratha

If you look at the right side of the card, those are the possible events that will happen with the Maratha Confederacy.  It’s an awfully aggressive location!  Let’s roll to see what happens!  Right now, India is balanced, so we just roll a d6 and see what happens.

3

What that symbol means is Maratha tries to conquer Hyderabad with a strength of 4.  Uh oh.  We’re trading with Hyderabad, that would be bad for us, because Maratha would forbid Hyderabad to trade with us if it became a province of Maratha.  Hyderabad has a defense of 3, so it would need 1 more defense in order to stave off the attack.  The Bengal president can Exhaust Officers, Cannon or buy Mercenaries in order to add to Hyderabad’s defense.  So, this is an easy choice, I exhaust one cannon and the battle is a losing one.

That was Event #1, the elephant walks to location #3, which is ironically Hyderabad.  Let’s see what happens there. I roll a 5 and that means Hyderabad falls into a depression.  Unfortunately that means instead of $5 for each delivery, I’m getting $4.  Also, that makes India more chaotic, so events now get 2d6 rolled and you take the higher number.  Blah.

Event #3 is in Mysore, I roll 2 & 3 which also flips Mysore into a depression.  Finally we go to Bengal.  4 & 5 means Bengal also flips to a depression.

*sigh*

So now I refresh everything (un-exhaust the cannon, move the Officers and Captain to the Officers that will deal with them, and move the turn marker to 2).

Jeez, Mysore is the only location that is not in a depression.

Can you get Lexapro for a country?

Turn 2 tomorrow?

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Here’s a health to the company!

Long time between games here at Very Wordy.  Maybe I’m modelling myself after George R R Martin.  Or I’m lazy.

(or both)

Either way, I’m back to start my promised playthrough of John Company, Sierra Madre’s game of trading, conquest and retirement parties.  If this theme sounds dry, it totally is.  When you pull out the board and begin to describe the game, I have to constantly stop and say, “But it’s good!”

Capture

But it’s good!

The goal of the game is to make members of your family retire into prostigious positions in the English country-side by getting good appointments in the company and getting a fat stack of cash along the way.

And I guess if the company does well, that’s good too.  Maybe.  I mean, if failing gets you more money and prestige, what’s it to you?

Negotiation is a BIG portion of this game.  There’s nothing like being the Director of Trade and denying goods to someone because they messed with you earlier in the game.  Of course, if they give you some extra money, you’d happily supply the goods they want, quid pro quo and all that latin stuff.  I’ll explain some of the possible places for negotiation as I play.  Since this will be a solitaire game, I’m going to make a few changes:

1) You play two handed without Family powers.  Just grab a card for the Family name.

2) The Prize layout: In the standard game, there are 8 prizes that you can purchase at your whim.  In my version, only 6 of the prizes are random.  2 Prizes must be “Wedding” and “Royal Wedding” which must be purchased FIRST and in that order.  And yes, BOTH families need to buy the Royal Wedding before any other prizes can be purchased.  Your final score is equal to all of the OTHER prize points minus the Jones’s points.

3) The Nepotism penalty: Usually when you are promoting a family member over someone else, you have to give them a promise cube (a form of compensation).  In my solo version, you CAN’T promote the same color over the other.  Nepotism is illegal.

Beyond that, I play everything as if playing a 2 player game, going for a high score (I need more playthroughs to determine a winning threshold).

So let’s set up.  Today I’ll be playing the Benyon and Hastings family.FamilyOkay, the cards here aren’t pretty, but it’s still good!  I grab 20 cubes in two colors to represent family members.  I set 8 of them aside as “starting” members (8 in the case of a 2 player game, it is less with more players) and place them into starting positions around the board.  I just do it in a 1-2-2-1-1-2-2-1 order because it doesn’t matter that much when you’re playing both families, but in multiplayer, you can go around the table (and back again) placing your starting members on each position in the company.

Board1.JPG

So with the Benyon’s as Yellow and Hastings as Purple, we see the Benyon’s controlling the Chairman, the Madra’s and Bengal Presidencies as well as being the Director of Military Affairs.  The Hastings will act as Director of Trade, head the Bombay Presidency and control Ships and Good Purchasing.  There is no Superintendent of Trade in China yet, as trade hasn’t opened to that country yet, an event card may do that for us later on in the game.  After those 4 opening members are placed on “the ribbon” of jobs, the other 4 are randomly placed by a die roll.  You see one Benyon member in the Court of Directors already, but we also have two other Benyons along with three(!) Hastings ready to become Generals in the military, and a lone Benyon hoping to become the captain of his own ship.  It’s rare for families to bunch up like that, as there are many other places for the cubes to end up: Buying manors (getting victory points), owning shipyards or owning factories.  Looks like we’ll have to buy that later.

You’ll notice that the numbers aren’t even on all of the Offices in the picture above.  Those numbers represent money (which are discs in the physical game).  When one cube hit the Court of Directors, $4 was added to the company’s treasury ($4 being the share price) which was distributed by the Chairman right away.

Board2

Here we see some of the prizes.  On the left are the two “Must Completes,” Wedding on top, Royal Wedding on bottom.  The number in the grey hex is the number of victory points these prizes score.  The number in red is how much money they cost to purchase.  The box to the right of the cost is what kind of position in the company the retiree needed to be in in order to buy the prize.  For example, if the Chairman retires, that’s an Executive position and can get the wedding prize for $7.  He could also become a Patron of the Arts for $7 for 4 points.  Why get a wedding for the same price but fewer points?  Well, if this were a multiplayer game, you get to bring a cube of another color with you when you buy the wedding.  They’re assuming that other player gives you GOBS of stuff to come with you, offsetting that money.

You see other prizes give you special abilities, like the Army and Navy Club that can give you a free Officer or Captain whenever you want (you just move your cube over to the Used box), or the South Seas Firm which could result in earning money every turn.

Board3

And here you see two of the regions we might be trading with as the game goes on.  Bengal is doing well, hence why it is in color.  Madras could do better, it’s in a depression (or recession if you’re feeling optimistic), but that can change from turn to turn.  As you see from the chart on the right side of the card, things can happen all over the place.  That’s based on the “Elephant’s Walk” which is a tense, nail-biting moment at the end of each turn.  Other bits to look at:

Defense: The amount of dice you lose if you try to conquer that province.  Madras is pretty easy, Bengal, less so.

Plunder:  The amount of money EACH Officer receives upon conquering this province.  Cha-CHING.

Tax: The amount of money that is generated every turn for the Governor of this location (once it’s conquered).  Oh yeah, this Governor could funnel it all right to his family if he wanted to. MWUAHAHAHA!

On the left side of the card are 2 or 3 demands and the rewards for fulfilling them.  So in Bengal we have Indigo: 2->6, Silk 3->6 and White Muslin 4->7.  What the demand is actually is just color, but it shows how many boats/goods you need to ship in to get money, and they stack.  So if you send in 6 “things” (3 boats and 3 goods, or whatever combination, as long as goods is never more than boats), you could get $13 for fulfilling a demand of 4 and a demand of 2.  Sadly that money goes to the company, but the President does get a bit of a kickback, which you’ll see later.

Looks like we’re all set!

Don’t go away!  It’s good!


 

We start with the “Family Phase,” where you have an awkward conversation and hope that no one brings up politics, but you know someone will and the yelling will start and you want to get through just one meal and she worked so hard and why can’t we just get alo-

Wait. Um.  What was I talking about?

A game.

Right.

Family Phase.  This is where you choose one of 7 places to put a member of your family in preparation of making them into someone great! (Or making money off of their work)

1: Court of Directors: Investments!  This will cost you as much as the share price of the East India Company at the moment.  This starts at $4 every game, but can go as low as 3 and as high as 5.  And for you pedants out there, I realize I should be using the pound symbol, but that involves a few extra keystrokes I’m not willing to hit, authenticity be damned.  And trust me, it has nothing to do with American pride.  But anyway, you spend your money, and that gets spread around by the Chairman to whatever Offices he/she deems worthy.  Benefits of doing this:  Puts more cash into the company.  If you stand to benefit when the company benefits (usually when you’re in the lead), it certainly helps.  If you want to be the Chairman, this is where the Chairman comes from, and the Chairman is the most powerful Office to hold.  Also, if no player has any members on the Court…..the game ends!

2: Manors: $5 You score 2 Victory points!  That’s it!

3: Shipyard: $3 Boats will be a bit cheaper for the company, and each time they buy a boat that’s attached to your shipyard, your family will score a dollar!

4: Factory: $3 Goods may be cheaper for the company (prices fluctuate depending on the British economy) and you get ALL the money the company spends on goods from your factories.

5: Officers: You can place up to 2 people here.  On the following turn, they will be given to the Military Affairs Officer to be placed in one of the Presidencies.  They cost the company $1 every turn, so having a ton of Officers will tank the company over time (which may not be a bad thing, depending on how you’re playing).  However, if you conquer a Province, you will receive plunder cash, and that’s nice.  They can also be promoted to Governorships later on.

6: Captains: You can place up to 2 people here.  On the following turn, they will be given a chance to buy their own boat.  If they can afford it, they will be hired by the company to deliver goods for them.  It costs the company $1 every turn, so, again, watch how many you have, but it gains the family $2 every turn for having a captain, so it’s not a bad idea.  And should the East India Company no longer have a monopoly in the area, having private citizens with boats might be good for business.

7: Writers: Clerks are a good thing.  You can place up to 3 people here (in lower player-count games).  These are good-for-nothings, except that they can later be promoted to Senior positions, and later to Executive positions.  You have to start somewhere, right?

So let’s start by having our Benyons invest again in our company, to put two of them into the Court of Directors (you’ll see the reason for that later).  And we put that investment to the Director of Goods and the President of Bombay.

And the Hastings?  They buy a Factory.  It’s an easy investment for the first one.  The company has enough money to buy goods, goods cost $2 this turn, so of the $3 they have to spend, they’re getting $2 back almost immediately.  Seems like a pretty safe investment.

And now the Jones’ go…

Oh, I forgot to mention them!  At the end of each Family phase 4 dice are rolled and other cubes are just placed according to those dice rolls (in spaces 1-6 listed above, they never become writers).  It’s meant to sew a little chaos so you’re not in full control of the company. So we roll 1,2,4,5 – A Jones on the board of Directors, they buy a Manor, a Factory and join the army of Officers to be placed next turn.  Yikes.

Thus endeth the Family Phase.  So let’s get onto the Company Phase:

First we fill any vacant Offices…but we just started the game, so everyone’s comfy in their overstuffed leather seats, so now we just go ’round the red carpet and fulfill the roles one by one.

step1

In case you weren’t sure.

1: Ships Purchasing: Where you must spend as much money as you can on ships.  You must buy the cheapest ships first.  And that’s it.  So you usually make it so you buy ships from your own shipyards first, unless you can convince someone else to bribe you into choosing their boats.  The fun of negotiation begins!  However, in this game no shipyards have been built, so we have a bunch of boats, all costing $6, so there’s only one option to take: Buy one boat (it doesn’t matter which one).  So I do and give it to the Director of Trade to pass out later.

2: Goods Purchasing: Where you must spend as much money as you can on goods.  Again, you usually try to spend all your money at your own factories, but you never know what a few smooth words can get you.  The price of goods is $3 if there’s no factory, or whatever The Whitehall Evening Post shows:

news

Right now, it’s $2 for the two factories already built.  So I can buy both of those, plus one from an unclaimed factor for the $7 the Goods Purchaser has.  And on the plus side, the Hastings family earns the $2 spent at their factory.  Capitalism!

3: Military Affairs: First, they do the same thing as the Goods Purchaser, except these goods are considered CANNONS!  With $5, only one cannon can be bought, which is good, because cannons have upkeep costs.  But they can also perform the 1812 overture, so they can’t be all bad.  The military affairs officer then distributes all officers and cannon wherever desired.  The cannon is placed in Bengal to protect that province from any revolution or takeover from another province.

4: Director of Trade: This Office takes everything purchased by the Shipbuilder and Goods Purchaser, as well as any new Captains and sends them out to the Presidencies so they can make money.  This is my favorite office because you have a LOT of power to completely mess someone over.  You’re in the lead?  Well, how is your presidency going to do with no boats?  Give me $4 and I’ll give you your boats back.  So anyway, I have 3 Goods and a ship to dole out.  I give the boat and a good to Bengal so they can ship out 4 things (The White Muslin) and get the highest priced item on the card.  Looking over the other Presidencies, there is no price difference whether they deliver 2 or 3, so unless I can get them up to 5, there’s no point in giving them the other goods.  So hell, let’s give it all to Bengal and go for filling up the card!

5: Bombay Presidency:

Presidency

The three blue icons are the decisions you make each turn, and in order.  Do I conquer the region?  Do I open trade with another region?  Do I spend a ton of money to guarantee a successful trade?

But I think that’s enough typing for today.  Enjoy your weekend!

A good Seoul-o experience

It’s puns like that which make me wonder why anyone reads this blog….

 

When we last left our soldiers, they just ran into a Squad of North Koreans on Patrol on the very card that is our ultimate destination.  After the surprise of spotting each other, 2nd Platoon opened fire down onto the Squad from the Embankment, and the Koreans returned fire.  It’s from here that we start Turn 3.

Wherein it starts to rain again.  Great.  That prevents casualties all around, but also turns everything into a slow slog.  Wonderful.

So it’s time to get crazy.  I only drew 2 Commands, but I have 6 saved up, so I can still spend 4.  I use two to send a Squad and a Machine Gun team down into the Village to get some cross fire bonuses.  I don’t worry too much about the Exposed markers as the cover in the Village is good enough to cancel that out.  I then order a Bazooka team to launch a rocket into the enemy.  I get to draw 2 cards for this, but fail to find a grenade icon, so I can only put a “Miss!” chit down on the card (a -1 modifier).  I finally launch another illuminating flare over the baddies so I have yet another negative modifier and other Platoons can do things to them if they so desire.

The XO orders the Recoiless gun to fire over the village into the Gully to add a bit more carnage, but that gun, too, misses.  Oh jeez, it looks like the giant recoiless gun with the “Heavy Weapons” modifier can also see the Gully, so they would open fire now, too.  Things aren’t looking good for anyone down in that Gully.  And for General Initiative the Assault Team scouts turn into a Fire Team so they can join in the fun.

Incoming

The Enemy draws a HQ Event, but it would just get to try and Rally all units on the board.  That might be more handy next turn.  No luck there.  Now we pull again from the Underfire from a different direction section on our chart to see what these folks do.  Looks like they shift fire again.  They are going to shift to where the largest VoF is coming from, meaning they will shoot back at where the 75mm Recoiless gun is.  However, they can’t SEE that gun, so they have to shift to the machine guns coming from the south.  Thank goodness for that because our CO and 1st Sgt are standing where that gun is.

Okay, it’s time to have our combat effects evaluated.  We can look at the card above to see what kind of damage we’ve done to the Koreans.  Grenade Misses can only be applied once, so it’s only -1 there, but we have -6 total on a card that gives +3 cover.  Add the other +4 for environmental bonuses and we’re left with a +1 modifier to damage.  Woops, +2.  They’re also under cover.  Jeez, those guys may never go anywhere.

Ayup, +2 is a miss on the card drew.  So now we go to the other card with a VoF on it

uhoh

We have our new Fire Team in the Strong Building who will have the best modifier.  +2 for the Village, +3 for the Building and +4 for the environment.  Our Machine Gun Team will have a similar bonus, but have -2 tacked on for being Exposed.  Our Squad will also have one less bonus for being in a less reinforced building as well as being Exposed.  That leads to +9 for the Fire Team, +7 for the Machine Gun Team and +6 for the Squad.

Like I said earlier, I wasn’t worried about those two when I sent them down, the Village was a safe place to be.

The cards actually don’t go any higher than +6, so that’s what we have to max out at, so let’s draw for the three, one at a time.

comeon

Oh COME ON!  This may be the only card in the deck that hits on a +6!  I drew for the Fire Team first, so it looks like they’re getting hit.  A lucky bullet can always do something, I guess.  And, to keep that luck going, I draw “Casualty” as the result.  So it just so happens that these guys saw the muzzle flashes out of the window where this small team was firing from, and Dead-eye Dan was on patrol this day, and took them all out.

casualty

Wow, our first death.  Harsh.

The other two draws result in misses (as they should).  So I go to the clean-up phase and make sure I mark off all the ammo spent (which I have to be careful with, Bazooka, Machine gun and Recoiless weapons have limited ammo.  I only have 3 turns of the big 75mm gun ammo).


So how and the hell am I going to get to my objective without losing more men?  Looking at the card for how the enemy works, the best odds are when I’m on the same card as them (a 1 in 3 chance they fall back).  If I can change them to a LAT (litter team, paralyzed, etc.), it’s much, much easier, though, so running in there guns-a-blazin’ might not be the best idea.

It’s only the 4th turn, so I think keeping up the fire for now might be the way to go, maybe I can whittle them down and force some to flee before I have to charge in there.  It will also give me time to bring the casualties back to base.

Looks like I have a Friendly Higher HQ Event:

#7 – CO HQ is Screaming for Action: You must move forward this turn*

*facepalm*

Okay, change of plans.  Maybe.  If I move forward, I’ll gain an extra experience point.  It might not be worth it if I get everyone slaughtered for listening to command.  Of all the time for this event to come up….I swear….it’s like the cardboard knows.

The best laid plans of mice and men.

So here’s what I did.  I spent my 4 commands by splitting off another assault team and had it infiltrate into the Gully.  Of course, it didn’t SUCCEED in Infiltrating, but I tried, dammit.  I then Commanded the Embankment to stop shooting into the Gully, because, you know, our own guys were down there.  I then used my last command to move my 2nd Platoon HQ down into the Village (he successfully Infilatrated).  During the 1st Seargent’s General Initiative phase, he called through the 2nd Platoon’s radio to cease fire.  Yes, it’s a bit munchkiny, but it’s the only way I could make our own army not fire on my guys.  I think it’s legal, but whatever.

newbattle

I hope this is worth that extra experience point.  Anyway, now the Koreans are no longer firing out of the card, but at the Assault Team that crazily ran into the Gully after them.  I also gave the Assault Team a canister of smoke (not signaling smoke, just the good ol’ black kind) in case they want to block off this area from outside fire.  Of course, I didn’t draw any General Initiative, so this is what I’m stuck with.

Now it’s the Enemy’s turn, and they get no HQ Event, so let’s see what they do.  There’s 3 things they could possibly do.  One of them is Fall Back, one of them is do nothing and…

-draw-

One of them is throw Grenades at my soldiers.  Because that’s my luck.  So I draw 2 cards and, well hey, they fail!  So a Miss chit goes down which gives a -1 to both of our combat modifiers.  Whenever someone tries to go Grenade on someone, you get to do an attempt right back at them.  Just goes to show you: Close combat is crazy!  So let’s see if my luck can change: I draw a grenade!  Kaboom!  Another benefit of hitting with a grenade?
“Do not apply the Rain/Snow, Fog, Smoke, or Current Visibility modifiers to this VOF.”  Yup, grenades don’t care how well you aim, just as long as you’re close.

But before we find out what happens, we have to see what our Potential Contact is.  *Gulp*  The chit is a ‘B,’ which is a good sign.  We are currently at “Contact” Activity Level, which means we’ll be drawing 5 cards to see if any of them show Contact.

Well I’ll be.  I got one blank, 3 Rallys and a Cover.  Nothing happens!

So let’s hop to our combat effects.  I have +1 for the terrain card and +4 for the Weather.  -2 for Exposed and -1 for the Grenade miss.  So net +2.  And there goes my luck.  Let’s see +3 – Pin, +2 – Hit.  Again, the cardboard knows.  My Assault Team is now Paralyzed.

The Enemy gets +1 for the terrain card and no bonus for weather.  My Grenade is -4 for a net -3.  And that is a Hit.  If it wasn’t, I very well may have flipped the table.  Which would have been pretty fabulous as it’s bolted into the wall.  But don’t challenge me, Fields of Fire, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

The effect card shows one Litter Team, one Casualty and One Fire team.  That’s a pretty significant hit.  I like it.  I think I can chase those off, and I very well might be able to take some prisoners.

aftermath

I spread the pieces out there.  Unfortunately one of them will still fire while my paralyzed team will only flee or stay put, so I’ll need to get a little fancy this next turn.


So we start our 6th turn with another “Friendly” Higher HQ Event:

#3 – Comm Trouble: Must spend 2 Commands to re-establish comm with CO HQ*

This is my mad face.

I can ignore this and use my four commands as normal, but I can just use 2 commands and get an extra experience point.  Why now, when I have a paralyzed team right next to a squad of Koreans ready to kill them all?

Welcome to the joy that is Fields of Fire.

Okay, let’s think this out.  If I leave my team there, they will be captured during the Mutual Capture&Retreat phase if their fire team un-Pins themselves.  If our team manages to get themselves un-Pinned and the enemy remains Pinned, they will automatically retreat back to the Village.  That’s waaayyy too much relying on luck.  The only way they would un-Pin themselves is if they have a General Initiative Command, and that’s no safe bet.  So I need to get another unit into that Gully to rescue them.

-draw-flip-draw-

Okay, so I have 5 Commands + 5 saved Commands, though I can only use 4 due to darkness.  Let’s see what I can do with 2, if I want to gain that experience point.  The commander is currently in the same building as the Machine Gun team (and a casualty, but I won’t ask them to do anything).  I could ask them to infiltrate the enemy squad.  That’d be putting a high-price unit in harm’s way to save a “lower priority” unit.

Yes we’re talking about human lives here but-

Wait, we’re talking about cardboard chits.  It’s hard not to think about them as humans, though, since these are the same kind of choices a commander would have to make at this point.  I could never be a commander, I would hate to have to coldly trade human lives like this.  War is stupid.

Anyway, rather than sending the MG Team in, I could dash over to the other building and ask an entire Squad to go into that card.  Again, rather than getting a “high quality” team in danger, now I’m putting 3 steps worth of men in danger for 1 step worth of prisoners.

OR I could dash back up the embankment and ask one of the 2 step squads to dash down.  (Right, ask.  ‘cause they do so much “asking” in the army)

If I use all 4 commands, I could duck over to the other building, split off another assault team from that squad and send it into the card, which would be the ‘safe and sensible’ thing to do.  But it wouldn’t get me the experience point, and would be dull, so let’s send the Machine Gun team into harm’s way!  Of course, they fail their Infiltration check, but who cares, I gots me an experience point.

I do get one General Initiative command, but fail to Rally my Paralyzed unit.  Good that I risked things, then.  Maybe.  Okay, let’s check for the enemy.  I’ll be looking on different tables now that all these chits are considered “Limited Action Teams.”  Like the casualties, they are limited.  To laying there and bleeding, for example.  But since they are all pinned first, that overrides their other abilities, so I pull for the fire team first: No Action.  They stay there Pinned.  Same with the Litter Team.  The Casualty lays there and bleeds.  Huh, who knew?

I figured someone may run.  But nope, so we just keep shooting at each other, like ya do.

Fire team and Litter team for Koreans have +1 for cover, +1 for Pinned, +1 for terrain cover, +4 for environment, -1 for Automatic fire, so +6 for each.  A miss for both, so their Pinned markers go bye bye.

My Paralyzed team has +1 for Pinned, +1 for Terrain card cover, +4 for Environment and +2 for all pinned fire, so +6 (max) for them as well: A Miss, so they too are no longer pinned.

And the heroic MG team?  +1 for Terrain card cover, +4 for Environment, +2 for All Pinned fire and -2 for exposed.  +5: Pin.  Huh.  Well there you go, our heroes put their heads down.  I guess that’s okay.

Looks like I’ve got another “Advancing towards the rear” ahead of me as turn 7 starts.  Stubborn guys, aren’t they?  At least I should earn a bit more experience.  I wonder what my third Patrol will get us?

 

It’s a bird, it’s a plane

Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down

Never gonna run around, and hurt you.

Yup.  Totally went there.


So it looks like getting those five extra experience points aren’t going to happen, and I only have 2 turns to get someone back from the Objective back home.  How do I do that?

Remember post #2?

Insert your own ‘Foomp’ and ‘Crackle’ sound effects.  So in one Command, my Platoon HQ just ordered anyone who can see that flare (which is everyone under his command) to move to his card.  That includes everyone from Obj 1.  That does mean no one will remain to Secure the card, but this move will assure I can fulfill the mission orders.

And I’ll simply use my remaining commands to put my units back together all nicely so we look good when returning home.  Someone get me a lint brush!

When we get to the Enemy Activity Check part of the round, we look at the chart and find the “Not Under Fire and no Enemy in LOS.”  In this case, we remove the Squad and place a Potential Contact Marker back into the card that caused the Squad to appear.  So no points for Clearing the card either.

But no worries on combat and I’m able to bring everyone home on the next turn.  Patrol #1 complete!  We let the higher ups know that a full squad of Koreans are poking around the front line and can give them vague numbers, and that’s all that we found.  No permanent installations to worry about or anything.  2nd Platoon is requested to Patrol the next night.

I gain experience based on this table:

  • Secure the Primary Objective Card: 5
  • Clear other cards on Rows 3 and 4: 1 per card
  • Capture enemy prisoners: 2 per step
  • Capture an enemy casualty: 1 per step
  • Perform a successful Grenade! Attack: 1 per attack
  • Complete HQ Event marked * that turn: 1 per event
  • Successfully evacuate a friendly casualty: 1 per casualty

Out of all of those, I only managed to Clear two cards in Row 3, so I gain 2 Experience points.  For Patrol missions, that experience is to be spent now, and only on soldiers that acted this time, so 1st Patrol can spend them.  It costs 1 point to change a squad from Green to Line and 3 points to change one from Line to Vet.  So it looks like I can change 3rd Squad to Line, and 1st Wpns (Bazooka) to Line as well.  Not a great gain, but it’s something.


Now I start over, only I move 2nd Platoon over to where 1st Platoon started last Patrol, and replace the Potential Contact Markers.  All saved Commands get reset, too.  Second verse, same as the first!  Let’s see how different this one will go!

Shuffle…shuffle…shuffle (I can’t do my patented roll…roll…roll saying with this game!)

Our first difference is that on the Embankment, we actually flipped a Potential Contact ‘C!’  That means rather than getting an automatic Contact, we flip 4 cards (when you have no contact) and see if the word “Contact” shows up.  As shocked as I am, it showed up on my first card, so I’ll be drawing on Contact chart ‘C.’  And before I draw, I’m just going to let you know, #1-3 is Incoming Mortars and 9-10 is Incoming Heavy Mortars.

How did they paint their helmets today?

Pull: 9

*sigh*

sonew

It’s like I’m playing a completely different game, isn’t it?  Welp, that changed them to a Litter team and added yet more craters to this Embankment.  You would think I could remove a Hill card since this thing has probably worn down to a nub at this point.

The Village also contained a Potential Contact ‘C’ chit.  And of the four cards, the last one contained ‘Contact.’  Of course it did.  But this time I pulled #8, which is a Patrol.  Similar to last time, but this is right in the middle of our Patrol route.  And guess where they are?

Interesting

That’s right, 3 steps worth of enemy right on our Objective.  Things just got interesting.

 

Yup. Again.

The clouds prepare for battle
In the dark and brooding silence
Bruised and sullen storm clouds
Have the light of day obscured
Looming low and ominous
In twilight premature
Thunder heads are rumbling
In a distant overture…

All at once, the clouds are parted
Light streams down in bright unbroken beams…

Follow men’s eyes as they look to the skies
The shifting shafts of shining weave the fabric of their dreams…

I make no apologies.  Let’s just move on and play the game.


Now on turn 5 I split off another Assault team and move them onto our Objective.  Unfortunately I know that it will be an automatic contact since all the chits there are A’s or B’s, so something will happen to those poor guys, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

So I have my MG team look for cover in the Village and find a light building they can hole up into and maybe help out.  I use my last Command to turn the Litter Team to a Fire Team so if we have to shoot, our Mortar Targets (that’s what we’re going to name these three guys) can fire, too.

I get one command for General Initiative, so I obviously have my scouts look for cover.  I’m sorry, “Seek Cover.”  Luckily one of the 3 cards provides, so they manage to find something to hide under in that gully.  So it’s the enemy’s phase now, so let’s see what our enemy chit says.  It’s yet another ‘B’, so we’ll be pulling on the same table.  Again.

Hence the title of this blog post.

However, things change here as I pull a ‘9’ which is labeled as ‘Patrol.’  Well what do you know, both parties run into each other.  Surprise!

surprise

The neat thing about this is that no shots are going to be fired at this point.  The enemy does not have the drop on us.  They caught us as we were ducking into the gully and we spotted them as they were ducking into their fox holes.  As soon as the Cleanup Phase finishes and the new turn starts, the two chits will start exchanging fire.  Of course, the Assault Team can’t fire out of the card, so it will just start receiving fire from the squad, but there ya go.

Unfortunately due to darkness, those fellas on the Embankment can’t see the enemy.  Dang.

So now we start turn 6 like this:

attack1

We added a chit to show that fire is coming from those rocks down into the Gully and the level of the fire is “Small Arms” which provides a modifier of +0.  Not deadly, but awfully annoying.

So, in order to complete the mission, soldiers that arrived on Obj 1, have to return to Row 2, so I would need to make the scouts come back.  However, if I Secure the Primary Objective card, I get a bonus 5 points.  You do that by having a good guy on the card without having any bad guys or potential contact markers on the card.  Even though there’s a VOF on the card, it still counts right now.  However, it’s just as likely that the Patrol charges forward Grenades a-blazing, so forcing them back can secure those points for me. And it’s much more exciting for a blog…

But wait!  Friendly Higher HQ Event.  #10.  It starts raining!  Which is….good?  Maybe?  It provides another +2 modifier to all combat.  Which is good for defense, but is annoying for trying to chase this patrol off.

Okay, I have my 4 commands to spend.  I’d love to get my guys out of the buildings to back up our scouts, but then I wouldn’t be able to move any command into the Gully.  Can I rely on General initiative?  Okay, first thing’s first, I hand a flare to our Fire Team.  It’s just for illumination, but if I shoot it over the enemy, the folks on the embankment will be able to open up on them, which I need to get everyone out of there.  So I spend 2 commands to send the Fire Team and one Bazooka team into the Gully.  Since the shooting has already begun, I ask them to “Infiltrate” the card, which means they make a pull and if they find the picture of the sneaky looking soldiers, then they won’t get Exposed markers, which is mighty useful.

Only the Bazooka team succeeded, so our Fire Team….wait….THOSE DAMN HELMETS AGAIN!  Of COURSE THEY’RE EXPOSED! *facepalm*

Actually, I’m going to risk using a Exhort Command.  That’s something you can do after failing a Command.  It lets you draw one more card and hope for what you need.  Maybe the Platoon Leader will be smart enough to switch helmets on these guys.  NOPE. *sigh*

I then grab everyone out of their buildings in the Village so I’m mobile for next turn.

I got one Command for General Initiative.  I could have my bazooka team take a shot at the Patrol, OR, I could have the Mortar Targets fire their flare so that everyone can see the bad guys and their silly uniforms.  Maybe not as silly as targets on their helmets, but I’m grasping at straws here.  So that’s what I decide to do.

Iseeyou

Because of that Illumination (which you can see on the lower right of the card) first it negates 1 of the environmental cover bonuses.  And it allows the guys on the embankment to see, so they are able to open fire, allowing me to upgrade the VoF token to Automatic weapons (-1) and since fire is now coming in from two different directions, I get to add the ‘Crossfire’ token which adds another -1 to the combat draw.  It ain’t a lot, but as we’ve seen before, a modifier of 1 can make all the difference.

It is now the Enemy’s turn, and we see what our little patrol does now that the weight of the US Army is upon them.  We check a nice little table that is given to us.  We look at the proper Hierarchy (Defensive) and Tactics (Hasty) and look down the table until we see which sentence proves to be true.  “Under fire from a different direction than its own PDF”  Yup, that’s true, so we’ll look under there.  Under there is a pull from 5 different possibilities, so let’s see what they do:

#4 – shift fire to other PDF.  Huh, so they start shooting at the Embankment.  Makes sense, when a machine gun opens up on you, I guess the rifles become less of a worry.

So now it’s the Combat Effects segment.  We can do this in any order, because it all happens at once, so it’s not like if we manage to rout the enemy we would suddenly not take any damage.  So let’s start with the Embankment.

embankment

The fire is coming straight from the North, which goes through the white border of the card.  That means the card provides the smaller cover bonus, which in this case is +0.  Dang.  Luckily they are under cover, so receive that +1.  They also receive +2 for it being night and another +2 for it raining.  So they are currently at +5, and given it is only Small Arms fire, +5 it shall be.  I’ll be pulling twice, once for the Machine Gun Team, and once for 1st Squad.

Both draws came up as Miss, so they are completely fine.  Looks like they are blind firing.  Good for me, bad for them.  The only other card receiving fire is the Korean patrol, so let’s pull for them.

The Rocky terrain provides a +1 cover bonus, and they are in foxholes which provides another +1.  Along with Night and Rain, that gives them +6.  However, there is fire coming in from two directions, lowering that to +5.  There is also automatic fire, which has a -1 modifier, so let’s drop that to +4.  Oh, the flare is lighting them up, so we drop that again to +3.

GAH!  I draw another miss (+2 was a Pin).  So it would seem the ground all around them is flying up, but we can’t get a really good bead on them in the rain.

In the clean-up phase I make sure to mark off one ammo for the Machine Gun team on the embankment (they have 6 ammo, so it shouldn’t mean anything, but I’m being fastidious), and I sadly have to remove the Illumination.  Since they can no longer see each other, the fire between the Embankment and Koreans automatically stops and fire shifts back to the Gully.

Not a long one today, but at least something happened.

More happenings here.

War is Swell

One turn down.  I have seven more to finish our patrol.  So far some mortar rounds had our scout forces dig in, but nothing else much happened.  So let’s continue, shall we?

Now that we’re starting turn 2, we get to see if Battalion Command sticks their nose into our business.  Before we start doling out Commands, we have to check to see if they call in and give us an Event to deal with.  Yup, random event tables.  As if there wasn’t enough already going on.  But don’t worry, they don’t come up often.

Now I know you were all thinking I said that because I clearly flipped a card that gave me a random event.  Ha!  Fooled you!  I didn’t!  The ol’ switcheroo!  It’s going to be a normal turn, so let’s get our Commands, though again 1st Platoon is really our only important target at the moment.

  • CO HQ draws 4 (+2 for 6) Activates 1st & 2nd Platoon.  Saves rest (Max 6)
  • 2nd Platoon draws 4(+2 for 6) Just needed to save 1 for Max 6
  • 1st Platoon draws 2(+2 for 4)
  • The rest will draw during the Initiative impulses

So I have 4 Commands to work with, which isn’t bad given that’s the max a Veteran commander can dish out at night.  1st Platoon also has 2 saved Commands, so even if I spend them all, a bad draw later on won’t cripple me.

So I’ll burn 2 Commands to do a “Platoon move to adjacent card” action and have everyone march up the embankment.  That puts them ALL under an Exposed marker, which is dangerous, but since the Mortar attack is done, there’s no reason for me to expect more enemy fire.

I then move the commander down into the cover that our poor boys are cowering under and “Attempt to Rally” them.  It is an automatic success to remove the Pinned marker because there is no VOF (Volley of Fire) marker on the card.  The guys don’t hear any more Mortars coming down and their commander walks over to them, so they are willing to lift their heads out of the muck.  Yes, if I waited until the end of the turn the Pinned marker would have naturally gone away, but I wanted to remove it so I could Rally them further this turn.

So I use my last Command to Rally them from a Paralyzed Team to a Litter Team.  It’s Automatic again since there’s no VOF, so they are now considered a Litter Team, which means they still won’t run forward into combat since they’re still shaken from the bombs dropping, but they would run forward if it meant grabbing a fallen buddy.  They’re getting there.

Route1

So this is what our Patrol looks like now.  We have 1st Platoon hanging out on a cratered embankment, while Sarge is down in a trench talking to the scouts for a bit about what happened.  Not an eventful turn, but there you go.

So now the folks who weren’t activated go.

  • 1st Sgt and XO don’t pull cards but just gain 1 command if they aren’t activated.
  • 3rd Platoon draws a 2 (-1, +1), but is already at max commands for a Green unit at night.

Now for general initiative.  I draw a 2.  I’ll Rally our Litter Team again.  Again, it’s automatic.  And hey, I have one more Command, so why not make them into an Assault team again, so they can scout into the next card.  I mean, they’re still jerks, so get out there and patrol, dangit!  So I do that and then move them from out of the Cover to get ready for next turn’s movement.

Now on to the enemy’s turn.  There is one added step now that we’re on turn 2, we also check for an enemy’s random event.  Sometimes even bad guy’s Battalion Commanders get annoying.  No luck this time, and since there aren’t any enemy units on the board or any potential contacts to resolve, that ends the turn.  I remove the Exposed Markers and we’re set to go into turn 3.  Easy-peasy!


So, of course, we start turn 3 with a random event from my Battalion Commander.  Neato.

HQ EVENT

There’s 6 different possibilities, based on a 1-10 “roll,” so I pull another card and pick event # 5 – Artillery Busy Elsewhere: No artillery available this turn.

Now I’m wondering if that mortar fire was from MY OWN SIDE and now they’re being yelled at.  Oooooo, they need such a slap.

But now we move on to commands.  It’s a lot of pulls for not a lot of reason since, again, 1st Platoon is all that’s important, so I’ll do that behind the scenes.

So 1st Platoon ended up with 7 Commands!  Even if I spend all I’m able to, I’ll still be able to save quite a bit.  Awesome.  So, of course, command one is sending my Assault team along the patrol route to the second location.  I’ll then have a squad Seek Cover on the Embankment.  You can never have too much Cover, and this will stay for the other two patrol missions, so it’s a good idea to have at the ready.

2 of the 3 cards show cover, so I have another bush to hide under.  I put the squad there along with a MG team.  There’s a pretty good view from up there, so I may just stick them there for the rest of the patrol.  Sadly since Patrols are much more reactive than active, I think that’s all I’ll do until we see if anyone reacts to our marching into that Village.  So a few more card flips and I’ll see if we get any General Initiative to get our scouts into cover before the enemy goes.

Sadly I pulled a ‘1’ for General Initiative, so no luck there.  I guess they think all the houses are enough.  Here’s hoping.  So let’s go to the enemy segment.

And since there’s nothing to do but flip the Potential Contact, let’s see what it is.

a B!  Of COURSE it is, so that means it’s an automatic contact.  Let’s see what it is.  #10 – Incoming Heavy Mortars.

Um.

There’s one called Incoming Heavy Mortars?  I think this scout team can take a break now.  And you know what, if this is our own frickin’ Mortars again, someone needs a stern talking to in our artillery corp.  I’m going to write a letter!

fire2

You can’t see from this picture, but the spotter in the field in the upper-right has a -5 modifier on him.  So these are some seriously large explosions.  The first were from 82mm Mortars.  These are 120mm Mortars.  Big-bada-boom.

The Spotter is hidden, so even though my whole platoon could open fire on him, again the bombs are going to drop and then the enemy will clear the board, making things kind of boring for me.  At least I’ll be able to patrol the board fairly simply.  But first, let’s calculate the damage.

The Mortars are a -5 modifier.  We have another -2 for the soldiers being exposed for a -7.  The Village provides +2 cover, and the cover of night provides another +2.  The net is -3.  Another card flip, another hit.  And yet again, if it was -2, it merely would have been a Pin.

Of course.

This time, the letters under “Line” show “PC”.  This doesn’t mean they turn into a personal computer.  This means that if the unit has multiple steps, the first one turns into a Paralyzed unit, and the next turns into a Casualty.  Luckily we only have one, so

yet again

they are merely paralyzed.  Of course, CAN YOU FREAKING BLAME THEM?

So I clean things up by removing some Exposed markers and removing the Incoming and Spotter chits since they’re not hanging around.  So the end of turn 3 looks a lot like the end of turn 1.

turn3


I only have a little bit of time left, but I figure I’ll start turn 4.

WHAT’S THE WORST THAT WILL HAPPEN?

No event and I have plenty of Commands, so I send 1st Platoon down into the Village.  I leave the remnants of 1st Squad in the cover with a MG team on the Embankment to keep their eyes open.  I use my other 2 Commands (it costs 2 to move an entire Platoon) to remove the Pinned token and turn our Assault team to a Litter team.

With my one General Initiative, I have a squad find some cover in the village.  Urban cover is a bit different (see the little house under the ‘3’ on the Village card?).  When you find cover there (which I did), you pull another card on a chart to see what kind of cover you manage to scrape together.  You might find a pile of crates which is another Cover +1 chit, or you might find a shed which will get you a Building +2 chit.  Or, like I did this time, you could get a nice stone/brick building at get the Strong Building +3 chit.    Booya.

And there’s no event in the Enemy phases, so I’m able to skip right to the cleanup phase (which I found a button for!  No more manual removal of Exposed markers!) and end turn 4.

So what’s the worst that will happen?  Nothing and I bore the hell out of you.  But I’m now officially through half of the mission.  All I have to do is get a unit to the Objective and then get my units back to Row 2.  No big deal.  I’m not going to bother to send the jerks who apparently drew a giant mortar target on their helmets, and if I get lucky, it should only take a turn or two to get this all squared away.  This hasn’t been the most exciting game, but if I were just playing this and not typing so damn much, I could probably have run through all this in like 15 minutes.  Things can (and will) get MUCH more complicated.  So stay tuned.

turn4

Continued here.

War Paint

Pound the drums with martial beat
Pound the streets with marching feet
Wounded pride, distorted eyes
Paint the night with battle cries

I am perfectly aware that this song has nothing to do with an ACTUAL war, but that CD happens to be playing and I found it apropos.

Shall we patrol the night with battle cards?

The first thing we shall do is receive orders from our Battalion HQ.  He’s the guy way far away from the line in a building with air conditioning who likes to tell you what to do.  We simulate this by drawing an Action card.  Action cards are the workhorses of the game and handle pretty much everything that goes on:

actioncard

Each card looks like this, only the numbers change and the icons in the upper right change to reflect the random elements of the game.  Basically this one deck of cards represents about 15 custom dice that would come with any other kickstarter game.  Only this way it saves you about $40.  Cha-ching!

For Command purposes, we only need the information in the upper-left: The helmet number 4.

So Battalion has given us 4 Commands.  We also receive +1 Command because our current status is “No Contact” (It’s much easier to think and speak clearly when no one is shooting at you).  We receive another +1 because our CO is a Veteran, and yet another +1 for our CO being in a foxhole.

Which now that I think about it, means our CO can’t communicate with anyone because these crappy radios don’t work under cover.  Okay, I hand wave my mistake and take him out of the fox hole.  So 6 Commands are given to our CO.  It, however, is Night so we are only allowed to spend 4 in one turn.  Phooey.

Now I can spend those Commands.  On what?  Well a lot of things, really.  There’s a whole menu!  Let’s see, there are 43 different actions…but don’t worry, many of them you won’t use often, or they are simply more specific versions of others (like move a unit or move the whole platoon are two different commands).  The most useful one for the CO to use is “Activate a subordinate HQ or Staff.”  This basically wakes up the unit to allow it to receive orders this turn, rather than acting on its own initiative, which can be unreliable.  So I’ll spend my first action to Activate 1st Platoon.  I’ll also Activate the XO beside 1st Platoon, 2nd Platoon and my 1st Sgt.  That will fill me up on Commands giving me some latitude depending on what the enemy does.  That leaves 2 Commands which my CO can save for a future turn where I don’t get enough Commands to do what I want.

Next I can now do Commands for any of my Staff or other Platoons who were Activated by my CO (1st, 2nd or my XO or 1st Sgt.).  I can do this in whatever order I want.  Since I’m just going to be banking Commands with all but 1st Platoon, I’ll just go in order of XO, 1st Sgt then 2nd Platoon.  So let’s draw some cards. XO draws a 3, which is 4 due to No Contact.  He is only “Line” experience, so that’s it.  And being Line, he can only save 4 Commands anyway, so he’s at full “storage” now.  1st Sgt pulls a 4 and is a Veteran, so that’s a 6 for him.  He can save all 6, so that’s great.  2nd Platoon is also a Vet and draws a 3, so they get to save 5.

So let’s get to the good part, 1st Platoon.  Of course, they only draw a 2.  The HQ for 1st Platoon is a Vet, so that bumps it up to 3 and a 4 for everything being calm.  It’d be easy for me to just march the whole platoon up the Embankment and hurry through the Patrol, but it wouldn’t be hard for an Enemy mortar to be pointed that way waiting, so here’s what I spend my Commands on.

  • Detach Team – You, you, and you.  I don’t like you.  Form up.

So I reduce one of my squads by one step and create what’s called an Assault Team.

  • Move to Adjacent Card – Okay you three, march up that embankment.

March

So now rather than putting my entire Platoon in danger from that “Potential Contact?” marker, I’m only putting the 3 guys I didn’t even like anyway in harms way.  It’s a win/win, really.  The down side is that Assault teams can’t fire outside of their card, so if they start taking fire, I have to maneuver others to help, and they are also now out of command, so I can’t use any Command points to make them do anything.

I have 2 more Commands, but I’m going to save those and see if there’s a Contact first before anything else.  So now we go to the “Initiative Impule,” where those who were not activated by the CO can do their thang.

The only folks who weren’t barked at were our lonely boys in 3rd Platoon, so we flip another card, but rather than looking at the helmet number, we look at the smaller number in the star below the helmet.

closeup

In this case, 3rd Platoon got a really good draw with a 4.  He’s got Green experience, so it’s actually at -1, though the +1 for being at “No Contact” still applies here.  Of course, being Green (which it’s not easy being, I’m told) they can only hold on to 2 Commands, so that’s what they’ll do.  Let’s hope they don’t have to do anything anyway.

Finally is the “General Initiative.”  Again we draw for the little star number, but this time with no modifiers.  Okay, there is a modifier, but it’s only because we’re doing a Patrol mission.  This time we’re dividing the number in half and rounding down because everyone that isn’t in 1st Platoon really shouldn’t have any initiative at all anyway.  They should be sleeping!  But this is for soldiers who do the smart things on their own.  Like duck.

I draw a 3 at this point, which gives me 1 Command, and I will use that for my Assault team to Seek Cover.  See, smart things!  Seeking Cover is done by looking at the bottom of the terrain card you are on:

cover1

The left picture/number shows you how many and what kind of cover you can find here.  The right number shows you how many cards you can draw (so effectively the odds that you’ll find cover each try).  Since I’m on an embankment, it’s not too difficult to find a place to grab cover, so three cards is pretty good.  So I draw three Action cards and look for the word “Cover” on the top of the card.  If it’s on one of the cards, bully!  If not, then I don’t find cover and that Command was worthless.

Simple!

Luckily the last card had cover, so my three jerks were able to squeeze themselves behind a hunk of dirt and start getting a good look at their surroundings.

cover2

It’s not much, but it could be the difference between life & death.  And yes, you can be both Exposed and under cover.  The Exposed chit represents the movement to the card and to the cover.  During that time, many a bullet could have come their way.

So that ends my turn, and now it’s the enemy’s turn.  As there’s no enemy on the board yet, the first thing we’ll do is check on that potential contact.  The first thing we’ll do is flip it over to see what letter is on the other side.  A ‘B’ will mean it’s much more likely to be a contact, while a ‘C’ is what I’m hoping for because I might get away unharmed.

So of course it’s a B.

Potential Contact

Well look at that, because I’m at No Contact and it’s a B, there’s not even a CHANCE I can get away with it.  I automatically get a contact.  Great.  So now I flip open the Briefing Booklet to the Mission I’m on, and look at the table for Potential Contact B.  There’s 10 possible results under there.  I simply draw an action card and look at the number under the “10” on the bottom of the card and that will show me which number to look for.

Number 3, which is “Incoming Mortars.”  Isn’t that what I said a few paragraphs up? *facepalm*  So let me draw again for unit placement: Right front at max LOS.

Okay, so I check out how Incoming Mortars works for Koreans.  I place an Incoming marker with a -3 modifier on the terrain card.  The Spotter is placed to the Right and Front at the max LOS, which is only one card in this case.  The Spotter is not, um, spotted at this point, so we put the “Potential Contact ?” chit on top of him to show that we can’t see him.

attack

He’s poking out from under there somewhere.  Anyway, Korean spotters only have one Fire Mission which is good, because this could tear up everyone on this hill.  Speaking of which, the next phase is “Mutual Combat Effects.”  That means blood and guts!

So there is only one Combat Effect to deal with, and that is with the three poor and honorable men (hey, they’re getting shelled, show some compassion, man) up on that embankment.  So how is this done:

So you add up all the bonuses of cover and concealment.  Your main bonuses will be from terrain cards, so I’ve got two hill cards which give…..zero. Hmmm.  And my Embankment card has +2/0.  The +2 is for any fire that crosses a green border.  Sadly Incoming markers do not count (they come from the sky), so it’s another zero.  Hmmm.  Finally I have a +2 for it being dark out and the +1 for the small cover they found.

Then you subtract for being Exposed (-2) and then for the biggest modifier from all the incoming fire.  All I have is mortar fire which is -3, for -5 total.  So 3-5 is a net -2.

Negative numbers are not good.  I’m sure you can understand that.  So, as you probably can guess, we flip a card and look next to the -2 and see what happens.

combat

Dang!  So close!  So the result is a Hit.  One more bonus and it would have just been Pinned.  That limits the units effectiveness, but at least it doesn’t hurt anyone.  So when a unit is hit, you flip yet another card and have a looksee at what happens.

effect

Assault teams are considered an Experience Level of “Line” no matter where they came from, so the effect is “P” which means they are now Paralyzed.  I don’t blame them.

So I change the Assault Team chit to a Paralyzed chit, and also put a Pinned chit on top of that.  They are keeping their heads down and keeping them there.  They are now limited in their actions.

  • They are now considered “Green” for all actions
  • Any fire they are able to dish out with be “All Pinned” and give a +1 Modifier
  • They can only move to friendly occupied cards with no enemy fire markers on them
  • They may Seek Cover
  • In order to “get better” I need to give them Rally Commands: First to remove the Pin chit, then to go from Paralyzed to a Litter team, then from a Litter team to a Fire team, and then from a Fire team to an Assault team or back into a Squad

So that happened.  I sent three brave men up an embankment and a rain of fire fell down upon them and they buried themselves under the rubble.

Now we just have a clean-up phase.  I remove the Incoming marker, and since the Mortar Spotter is out of missions, he gets removed, too.  I don’t even get to retaliate!

And that ends the first turn.  It could have gone worse, but I think I can do this.  I hope you learned something-mainly that this thing isn’t as complicated as it looks.  Stay tuned for more action in Korea!

 

Our next post

 

 

Fozare!

So I’m going to talk about Pyros which got me thinking about Pyro Fuego which got me thinking about the Dresden Files which got me thinking about Harry Dresden’s spells which got me thinking about him screaming Fozare.  So that’s why the title is that.  It has nothing to do with the game.

Now you know how my brain works.

You’re welcome.

So another barrier to entry for the wonderful game called Fields of Fire is the amount of decisions one has to make before you actually play the game.  Wars don’t plan themselves, ya know.  So before turn 1, you must:

  • Decide upon your communications system (wired or wireless)
  • Plan your pyrotechnic communications (what do flares mean?)
  • Distribute Battalion attachments among Platoons in the command structure
  • Place chits on the actual board

All of these things will have an impact on your mission, so they are important.  HOWEVER, in the new 2nd edition rulebook (yes, I have read it now), they do say you can ignore communications if you want an easier game.  So that cuts two of those bullets down.

So let’s talk communication.  How meta.  In Korea, there are two types of radios our  commanders can carry around with them:

radio1radio2

Each has a plus side and a minus side.  Much like a relationship or a battery.  A field phone is hard wired together and can go anywhere, providing constant communication to whomever you are attached to.  But that’s the $1,000,000 word.  Attached, because you need:

line1 As your Platoon moves forward, Phone Line will be dropped behind them, because back when I was a lad, telephones were plugged into the walls of our houses.  It’s true!  And don’t get me started on party lines.  ANYWAY, the big downside to this, besides the obvious tripping hazard, is that anytime a location is under fire, there’s a 50/50 shit that your phone line will become:

line2

Which makes your phone useless, except maybe to fake taking a call when your annoying Cpl comes to talk to you about his girl back home for the millionth time.  While you can repair cut lines, it takes time and command points, which are limited, so it’s something to think about.

Our radio sets, being wireless, do NOT have to worry about anything getting cut.  They have those giant antennas like we used to have on our cellphones back in the 80s and 90s.  Remember those, kids?  No?  Get off my lawn!

Unfortunately, even with giant antennae, your radio reception becomes a staticky mess unless you have line of sight to your receiver.  So remember how our map was laid out?  If we had our Commanding Officer standing on the hill in Row One, here’s all the locations he could talk to:

loc

Notice a few things: The higher hill (three cards as opposed to the two we’re radioing from) in Row 3 blocks any further communication beyond.  Also, the hill in Row 2 blocks communication directly behind it, but NOT the other hill in Row 4.  From Row 1 you simply can not see into the valley in Row 3.  You would have to march up into Row 2 and look if you wanted to see there.

So Radio use can be very limiting.  When you get a good look at the map and where your primary objective is, that’s when you can make an educated choice as to which radio you should use.

So this is what I’ve decided.

radiowaves

I’ll put my CO (Commanding Officer) on the Cemetery Hill in Row 2, which will give him LOS (Line of Sight) to the Patrolling Platoon at the start and finish of the Patrol.  I’ll put either the XO or 1st Sergeant in the Rice Paddy (which is dangerously open, but I’ll put him in a fox hole alone, so I hope he won’t draw much attention) and he’ll be able to keep the command channels open during the other two terrain cards.  I’ll put some good support forces in the Village in between the two commanders to make sure if any bad guys show up that they will have fire support, and we’ll be good there.

So that’s Radio Decision made!  One down, three to go!  Now to the Pyros!

pyro

These little dohickies can save your companies life.  Or just annoy you.  The smoke (regardless of color) is good for concealment, and White Phosphorus (WP) smoke also has a nice combat effect, too, so that’s nice.  The flares are pretty, so there’s that.  BUT, you can also subscribe meanings to all the colors and things, so that if a soldier sees a flying Red Star, he knows to do something.  In the olden days, you could attach any order you wanted to these things, but that lead to all kinds of douchebagery, so now they have specific orders depending on your mission types, so these are my options:

  • Cease Fire
  • Shift Fire
  • If Adjacent to Route Point #?, Move to It
  • If Adjacent to Obj 1, Move to It
  • If Adjacent to Signal, Move to It

Really, they all look like good ways to get stragglers who go out to flank an enemy an easy way to return to their unit.  I’ve never been good at assigning these things, so I’ll just do so kind of willy-nilly.

So here’s what I did to make it easy on me:  All smokes: Move to Objective if adjacent. All flares: Move to signal if adjacent.  The good thing is that you can launch flares to adjacent cards if you want to, so that gives me a lot of leeway there.  And it’s easy for me to remember, so I won’t forget to use them during the game.

Probably.

Okay, now Battalion Attachments.  Usually this is a bit more complicated because you’re trying to build a force to attack something or defend something or whatever.  However, in Patrol missions, anything that isn’t in whatever Platoon that’s doing the Patrolling can’t move.  So really, I can lump this in with the next bullet point and just lump the HMG and RCLs in with the other platoons depending on what cards I think they would fit best on.  And if it doesn’t work, I can always try something different for the next Patrol.

So let’s drop these chits onto some cards.

placement

After much hemming and hawing, I went with this.  In the upper right, you see 1st Platoon ready to start their patrol.  They also have a HMG in a Foxhole for support if things start out rough.  Behind them is 3rd Platoon, who is watching over a Mortar Team as well as another HMG team and an Artillery Spotter who has a view of the first card the Patrol will be entering, as well as a far off hill that could likely have some enemy when the Patrol reaches the objective.  The Rice Paddy  on the hill next to 1st Platoon houses the XO who has a RCL there in case something bad happens.  He has a good view of all of the patrol route, so can keep communications open and send in some rockets if needed.  In the Village in the Valley sits 2nd Platoon with the Mortar Spotter and another RCL gunner providing more fire support for the right flank.  Finally in the Cemetary as mentioned before is the CO with the big RCL as defense and the 1st Sergeant in case anything happens to the CO.

My main weekness is the left flank, but because of the big hill in Row 3, there really isn’t much I can do about that, and there’s just as large of a hill on the other side of the board, so I’m working with what I have.

And now, I can pull my first card and get this game started.

I think.

Right?

Yeah.  Let’s do this.

Tomorrow. >:-)

 

(Or today…or the past)

1000 chit stare

I’m sure if I dropped this box and all the pieces fell out, I would be left with a pile as high as Pork Chop Hill.  Heck, the box hasn’t been able to shut completely because I can’t M*A*S*H them all in there.

And that’s the end of my Korean War movie knowledge, so I’ll stop the jokes there.

But seriously, there is a ton of crap in this box.  Fields of Fire covers the lives of the 9th US Infantry from WWII through Vietnam.  Because of such a wide scope, you have chits for German Infantry, NK forces, NVA forces, Tanks, Helicopters, Engineers, ammunition, spotters, weather, command lines, communication lines, casualties, buildings, trenches, bunkers and maybe even a chit for the chits that were in one soldier’s pocket one time.

That’s a lot of chit.

20180319_121911

Yes, I realize I could get a tray and separate everything nicely, and get tuckboxes for the cards and sort everything so nicely.  I’m just not one of those guys.

But luckily all ya’ll who cringe at seeing messy chits and unclipped counters will not have to worry for I will be using Vassal to play out this mission, so anything that looks ugly can be blamed on the programmer.  Hrumph.


So as I start setting up the mission, I’m noticing that Mission 2 is a Combat Patrol.  These are the least liked style of Mission in the game due to the vaguest rules, the most repetitive of play and the longest of play time.

Yay.

I may have to pop open those 2nd edition rules to make sure I do this right since I kind of hand waved most of the Patrols to get them out of the way as quickly as possible.  Ah well.  Anyway, here’s the Company I will be commanding as we patrol the Naktong Line in August of 1950.

1st Platoon

Okay, it looks a bit dry.  And obviously I forgot to type out the Ammo for 3rd Platoon.  The important bits are the experience levels for the various squads.  There are three levels: Green (they stink!), Line (Meh), and Vet (Finally worth a damn).  From the first mission quite a few of the higher ups were promoted to Vet status, while some of the lower ranks were killed and replaced with Green squads.  But there’s a sprinkling of Vets in there, too, so I hope the goods outweigh the bad.

But you’ll notice that’s 28 squads under my command.  The squad can be from 3 to a dozen people.  This is a BIG game.  Oh, and before each mission, Command sends you a few extra people to help out.

squad2

That’s some Forward Observers for Mortar and Artillery as well as some Heavy Machine Guns and Recoiless guns in case we meet heavy resistance.

So what does all this look like graphically?

company

Chitty chitty bang bang!

And that’s not even counting radios, ammo, flares, rocket grenades and the like.  Overwhelmed yet?  Now you see why many people buy this game and leave it in the shrinkwrap.  But don’t worry, it gets better.  I just have a lot of typing ahead of me.  So let’s see what our Mission Details are:

Type: Combat Patrols (dangit)

Duration: 8 (how many turns we play)

Visibility: Moon: +2 (It’s dark out, so every combat has a +2 defense modifier)

Map: 8 columns by 4 rows (the terrain is made up of cards, so it looks like this):

map

This map is kind of large and wide.  Unusual, to be honest.  It also looks more confusing than normal because when you have hills, you must deal another card on top of the Hill card and offset it slightly to show the terrain is on a higher elevation.  Unfortunately Vassal doesn’t really let you offset ever so slightly, so you have to offset a LOT in order for the cards to not automatically stack themselves on top of each other.  That’s why there are squares that look like this:

Hill

That is a Hill with a Hill on top of it which has an Embankment on top of that.  It would only look a bit wider than normal on a table, but I had to do this ridiculous layout in order to get it to work with Vassal.  If anyone knows a better way, let me know.

Okay, there’s our maps.  Further Mission Parameters:

US Start: Start on Rows 1 or 2

Attempts: You must attempt the mission once with each platoon.

Mission Goal: You must move the platoon selected to the Primary Objective in Row 4 and return it to Row 2.  You must choose the route, marking it with Route Points.  You do not have to clear the route or objective, just move to it and return.  The select platoon is the only unit that you may move beyond Row 1.

Initial Placements: Place the Primary Objective on any card of your choice in Row 4.  You may place up to 2 Foxholes per friendly-occupied card in Rows 1 or 2.  You may place a Target Marker on any card per (rules stuff).

Historical Opponents: 9th NKPA Division


So, in order to win, I need to send Platoon 1, 2 and then 3 (though really I can go in any order) on a nightly patrol on a specific route.  So, as a for instance.  I can send 1st Platoon from this embankment:

first

Up the hill to another embankment to look down onto the nearby village.

second

From there into a gully near the frontline to check for any enemy movement.

third

And then return home.

Not a huge path for a huge map, amirite?  Well, yes.  I could have them march ALL along the line for 8 cards if I wanted to.  Why would I want to?  Experience points.  Sweet, sweet experience so I could make all my troops Veterans and become all-mighty!

Or dead.  All-mighty or dead.

That’s the trade off.  I could walk 2 cards, or 16.  I chose 3.  It’ll be quick and (probably) easy.  But we’ll still see some action, so no worries from an entertainment standpoint.  Those “Potential Contact ?” counters show all the times that we might get attacked, so there’s three separate chances that bullets will begin to fly (or mortars, or rockets or whatever), so don’t worry, there will be blood.

But sadly, that will have to wait.  I should probably do some work today.  Tomorrow we’ll work on “PYRO!” MWUHHAHAHAHAHAH!

(Actually not as much fun as it sounds)

 

Here’s the not fun.

TWENTY-One. TWENTY-One cares.

Of the 17 people who seem to be subscribed to the blog and felt like it, we got one response to my question.
Of course, if I could have put up a poll where you just clicked on a thing rather than having to log in and type things and try to sound smart on the internet, I’m sure I would have gotten more…but c’est la vie.

EDIT: So now I’ve taken the time to look at the old poll link.  TWENTY ONE people voted on it!  I didn’t think that would happen!  Luckily it still makes the rest of this post relevant.

poll

So it looks like I shall do a very wordy playthrough of Fields of Fire.

Hoooo boy.

Fields of Fire is a ’10’ for me. The stories it creates are some of my most memorable. The game is designed to make you feel like a commander of three squads of troops, and boy do you. You are given the responsibility of the lives of dozens of men, and each one you feel a direct connection to after a few games. Heck, you almost feel like writing letters to mothers and wives when you have to put down a casualty chit.

casualty

His name was Earl and he had two kittens. *sniff*

But this comes at a cost. A 64 page rulebook is available for the 2nd edition, though I personally haven’t read it. I know all of your red flags have gone up, but to be honest: I’ve played the game a dozen or so times, and I HAVE FUN.

FUN DAMMIT. That’s why we play games, right?

It’s also solitaire, so who is going to tell me I’m doing it wrong?

rulebook

Now sure, it makes it hard to compare experiences if you’re not playing by the same rulesets (What do you mean Vietnam didn’t have flying unicorns?), but many MANY of the rules issues “fixed” in the 2nd edition were edge cases or special events that came up only a small percentage of the time. Also, the base rules are incredibly intuitive and based in reality. So, for me, when an edge case comes up, I merely do what makes sense and move on. If later on I see I did that rule wrong, well, I’ll do it right from now on, but I’m not going to kick myself for getting it wrong in the first place.

IT WAS FUN DAMMIT.

So, as I set this game up (and I forgot to bring the stuff with me to work, so we’ll have to wait a bit), please keep in mind you will be reading a very IMPERFECT wordy playthrough of Fields of Fire.

I don’t mind if you point out rules errors in the comments, just please be kind about it. No one is intellectually superior for knowing more rules than someone else. They just remember certain information better. You still forget where you put your keys sometimes, so cram it.

Also, you will be seeing the playthrough of Mission 2 of the Korea campaign. I’ll do this for a number of reasons:

1) 99.999999% of the playthroughs online are Mission one of the Normandy campaign (there are 3 campaigns in the box, Normandy, Korea and Vietnam). Why do another one?
2) I recently restarted my Korea campaign after losing after Mission 3.
3) I recently finished Mission 1 with a fairly good success, so why not see a slightly more experienced army go against a slightly more experienced enemy?

 

So anyway, I’m sure you don’t want me to blather on without any actual game play, so I’ll shut up now.  Expect the first ghost when the bell tolls one.

I mean, expect the first post by Monday or so.