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Friday, January 30, 2015

Free for All - Israeli & Egyptian Tank Forces

By Tom Burgess,

Still smarting from my 5-2 loss against my friend Greg while playing Flames of War's Fate of A Nation rule set, a few days later I got the Israeli tanks out to face another friend, Don's UAR Tank Battalion. Don and I decided to play at 2220points. We rolled up Free-For-All as our mission.

We used the same board that Greg and I played on earlier, but with some slight movement of terrain pieces. The above photo is from the Israeli "Attacker" side of the table. Don and I have complete Battlefront miniatures for our forces and this was the first Fate of a Nation game in our area that did not include any proxying (Normally WW2 Soviets for UAR Ground troops & Guns)

My force included:
HQ: 2 x AMX-13
Plt 1: 4 x AMX-13
Plt 2: 4 x AMX-13
Plt 3: 4 x Sho't
Plt 4: Mechanized Infantry with extra Blinidicide
Plt 5: 3 x 120mm Mortar Halftracks
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The Eagles are Coming (And Going)!

Some people love a deck where everything makes sense together, lore-wise. I do, too, but more satisfying to me is a deck where everything makes sense together mechanically.

Luckily, the eagles in The Lord of the Rings: LCG do both. I think we can skip the talk about the thematic relations in an eagle deck. Eagles make sense with other eagles. Cool. Moving on.
The mechanic, for me, that is the basis for an eagle deck, is that of allies (and even heroes!) leaving play. At times it seems counter-intuitive; putting an ally that you paid for with your hard-earned resources back into your hand voluntarily, or most of all letting one of your heroes die, but it’s sacrifices like this that really make an eagle deck…fly.

Let’s start with Landroval. He’s 5 cost and has mediocre stats, and he’s here to take you under his wing and save your neck. The fun thing about Landroval is that he urges you to tactically allow one of your heroes to die. Is your best defender one hit point away from death, causing you to be terrified of defending with him? Don’t have any healing cards to save him? Is there a high damage enemy waiting to swing at you? Let your hero be destroyed. Put Landroval back in your hand and then flip that hero back over with full health. It’s a full heal, a feint, and however many turns’ worth of Landroval’s stats you kept him in play for, all for five cost. Maybe Landroval only had one health left anyway. It’s beyond a fair trade. In Return of the King, Landroval was there to pick up Sam and Frodo in Mordor, so of course he's the savior of heroes in the game. Another point to Fantasy Flight Games for making nearly every card make sense thematically.

Next up, and possibly my favorite, is Descendant of Thorondor.  (Fun fact: Landroval is actually a descendant of Thorondor. I guess this one just wasn't special enough to be named.) As soon as he enters play, he deals 2 damage to any enemy in the staging area. Guess what happens when he leaves play. The same thing! That’s 4 damage to an enemy in the staging area for 4 cost if you…play your cards right. Descendent is the perfect recipient for Born Aloft. Snatch him up whenever you want to deal that last 2 damage and save the day (or at least make the day a lot easier when it comes after you). Then play him again, since Born Aloft put him back into your hand. Or, you know, Sneak Attack.

Speaking of attachments, possibly the star of this whole show is Support of the Eagles. Attach it to a hero, and exhaust it any time to give the attached hero any eagle ally’s attack OR defense. Are you about to get hit really hard? Got a Winged Guardian in play? Exhaust Support of the Eagles and your hero now has 4 more defense added to whatever that hero already had. You’re practically untouchable. Do the same thing when you need an attack boost using Vassal of the Windlord. Or…
Eagles of the Misty Mountains! Remember all the comings and goings of these eagles? Don’t want to pay to keep Winged Guardian out? Made an attack with Vassal of the Windlord? Put it under Eagles of the Misty Mountains. EotMM gets +1 attack and +1 armor for each card under it. You can choose to put any card leaving play under it. Not to mention the starting stats are totally acceptable on their own at 4 cost, AND with each card under it, your Support of the Eagles is giving an even bigger boost to the attached hero. Pretty great!

Now, there aren’t enough eagles to make a deck entirely out of eagles, so that brings up our good supplements. I really like to latch onto the “when so-and-so leaves play” concept, so a hero like Prince Imrahil (readies when a character leaves play) or Eomer (gains +2 attack until the end of the turn when a character leaves play) is perfect. Horn of Gondor will have you swimming in gold, and sneak attack will just add to all of that (Plus, what kind of deck doesn't have sneak attack and Gandalf in it anyway?).

There are some drawbacks to an eagle-based deck. You’re not going to be doing too great in the willpower department, especially early on. Also, eagles come at a high price. I’ve gone back and forth on Radagast’s worth and decided that if you can get him out early and still survive, he’s worth it, especially if you’re going multi-sphere. With multiple spheres, it will take you even longer to get your big cards out without your brown friend. Plus, he’ll give you a much-needed 2 willpower and the
possibility of healing one of your many creatures (though I've never used him to heal since there are always eagles to buy).

I’m sure it’s been said a million times, but the great thing about this game is the absurd amount of ways you can play. Eagles feel like a very unique one, and it’s a blast when everything comes out just right.

Like playing your Eagle deck? Want to talk about why the Eagles couldn't have possibly borne the ringbearer straight to Mount Doom? Please sound off in the comments below, or let us know on our forum!
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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bolt Action - OXI - Greek Army Project Part 7 - More Support

Another week and more progress on my Greeks.  This week I added more support weapons to my Greeks to give the infantry to fire support and tools to take on any enemy.

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Napoleonic Battle French vs. Prussians - General de Brigade rules

By Joe Moore and Eric Lauterbach

 Friday we got together and played the General de Brigade rules for Napoleonics in 15mm with French and Prussians.  Joe's figures are painted for the 1813-1815 period and we conducted a French positional defense of a crossroads against a Prussian attack.  The French had a mix of four infantry battalions, two artillery batteries and two cavalry regiments in two brigades, and the Prussians had six infantry battalions of varying quality from line through Landwehr, two artillery batteries and two squadrons of light horse.

GdB is organized at the battalion/squadron/battery level.  Infantry battalions usually have between 24 and 40 figures to the unit, while cavalry squadrons are anywhere from 12-48 figures in size.  Gun sections are represented by a gun representing two actual field pieces.  Units are given orders to assault, engage, hold, or withdraw (among others) and can only perform certain things within the confines of their orders.  Commanders are represented and affect morale, melee, and orders change.  The sequence of play is determine initiative, conduct compulsory moves from last turn (retreats/routs for example),change orders, declare charges, move fire, melee, and check morale. Since the rules are fairly new to us we decided on a meeting engagement to give it good test. The French are moving down the road when the Prussians show up to cut the road and take the village.

Prussian Lancers

The Prussain Infantry

Attack of the Band uniforms!  French in overcoats the only way to go.

The French Cavalry return to the village when the Prussians arrive.

The French at the end of the column.

The French army strung out on the road.

Oh.. no the Prussians are attacking!

The Prussians advance to cut the road.

French Battalion

Turn one the French move the cavalry 

Long range cannon and musket fire.

The French foot artllery batteries deploy

Horse battery continues its long range fire killing a few.

As the Prussians advance the French Dragoons and Hussars prepare to charge.

Prussians advance.

Landwehr Uber Alles!!

You cannot stop men who wish to be free!! Advance!!

French Horse Battery softening them up.

The Prussians advance and fire.

The landwehr wisely go to square.

The Musketeers Battalion fail their form square roll this could be bad.

The Dragoons charge home!

The battle is desperate

The Prussians shoot a few horsemen on the way in.

The Prussians press the attack on the village.

The Prussian Battalion is crushed by the Cavalry

The infantry is ridden down.

The Dragoons are well handled and obey the recall order...the Hussars not so much as they continue into a square.

The Prussian squares hold.

The Prussian infantry attack is getting hot for the French

The French are outflanked and a Battalion breaks off and runs.

Prussian Lancers attack a French square

The Lancers bounce.

With Lancers about to charge the guns the gunners seek shelter in the square.

Prussians press the village hard.

French Hussars battle the square to no avail.

French attack column counter-attacks.

The Lancers charge again!

The lines are getting confused 

The French seam to be holding.

The Prussian attack has been pushed back.

The Prussians fall back to regroup.

The Prussian attack was slowed by artillery fire and cavalry charges that stalled their left wing advance, and on the right a lone French legere battalion that went into square stymied the efforts of two squadrons of light cavalry. But the cavalry did manage to silence a French gun battery that found protection within the square.  Prussian losses mounted to the point where further attacks were pointless, but the French defenders had likewise been worn heavily by the engagement.

The rules feel right for the period and have a fairly intuitive aspect that makes them relatively easy to apply.  A single person can handle about a brigade of troops given the need for orders and the number of figures to be move turn to turn.  It's a good system.

Big thanks to Joe Moore for all his beautiful figures and showing me how to play!
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