Replay AEL: Summerian Empire – King level

Warming up exercise this Saturday morning: I decide to give a go at a quick Ancient Empire Lux, playing the Sumerian at King level, and choosing the hardest party called Umma (x5 score multiplier).

A bit of background

What’s the situation at the beginning of the game?

  • Umma is the most central city, and thus probably the most vulnerable to attacks from all sides.
  • Umma brings a bonus of 2 points, less than counterparts Lagash (4 points) and Ur (3 points) which already enjoy sizeable armies and controlled land surface.
  • Vast expanses of terrain are owned by the remote mountain city of Susa (White color). They are easy preys and ways to win bonus cards, and they will be bitterly disputed by all players.

Bonus map

Situation at start

So what’s the best strategy here? My proposed short term plan is:

  • Quick wins of land 360 degrees, although favouring the less armoured North, along the Zagros mountains
  • Secure the northern-eastern lands thanks to the locking cities of Sipar and Lagash
  • Lagash is definitely a priority target, with 4 points bonus (Sipar and Susa only have 1)

If I manage to do that, I’ll be in a good shape to then regroup and launch an assault to the rich Southlands. Of course, I need to be ready to change my plans based on the random level of aggressiveness of the various opponents.

Turn 2

At the end of Turn #2, I understand that my Western neighbours of Sippar and Kish are relatively peaceful, whereas RED from Ur and YELLOW from Lagash are ruled by imperialistic monarchs. I decide to launch and adventurous scavenger raid behind YELLOW in the Zagros mountains. After a couple of turns it pays off, and I seize the capital city of Susa, enraging YELLOW who counterattacks repeatedly over the next few turns.

Turn 4By Turn #4, a counter-clockwise momentum has built and only my armies find themselves going in the opposite direction and clashing against YELLOW. This is too much attrition for him, and while I keep his troops busy on the frontline, RED cracks into Laggash, his armies marching in triumph in the key city of the Summerian Empire. A fratricide war of attrition begins in the far South, and I decide to hold ground while initiating a campaign in the North towards Sippar.

While the Western nations keep peacefully expanding, after GREEN failing to capture Ur, YELLOW goes into guerrilla wars in the wetlands along the Tigris. His troops reach my capital city of Umma and briefly occupy it. Fortunately, unexpected but timely reinforcement cards allow me to group a large contingent and launch a crucial counterattack to regain the heart of the kingdom on Turn #6.

Turn 6

My plans regarding Sippar have only been delayed, and even if my urban centres are still weakly defended, I decide to take a chance to seize the northern bottleneck city. While still containing recurring assults from YELLOW in the South, I march towards the ORANGE capital to conquer and make History.

Turn 8

Sippar falls like a fruit too mature, to my surprise, and I fail to anticipate the counter attack organised by ORANGE on turn 9, resulting in the fall once again of capital city Umma. Shame on me. My balance sheet could be better: Apart from disappearing GREEN, I’m the weakest nation, at war with 2 others (YELLOW and ORANGE) with limited revenue. In the South, a RED dragon is stirring, successful in his plan to lockup to sectors with 3 cities.

Turn 9

I do not manage to accrue troops fast enough to catchup with the loss I have on 3 different front lines.  Time for a step back and an actualisation of the grand strategy. Determined to regain and never loose again Umma, I also opt for the consolidation of my position, leaving the other Parties to exhaust their wrath on each others. Umma taken back on turn #11, I then spend 3 consecutive turns simply spreading reinforcements and carrying out skirmish operations at my borders. At the end of turn #15, I have secured my 3 blue fortresses with armies of 12 firepower. But a red tide seems to come from the South, and I wonder if ORANGE and YELLOW will be sufficient air bags to absorb the shock.

Turn 15

The good surprise comes from YELLOW who launches a blitz offensive westward through Laggash, Ur and ending up in far away Kish, operation Sharp Sickle. RED is completely taken aback and can only launch a counter strike on Ur to cut the YELLOW snake in two parts. I have the sudden feeling opportunity rings again. My next target is still Laggash and I regroup in the south-east plains for another stab in the back of YELLOW.

Turn 16

The coup pays off, but war rages and reaches another level, with dozen of points gone into smoke at each clash. RED is busy freeing up the banks of the Euphrates, while I fight block by block in the streets of Laggash. Best news for today is that there will be no cooperation between YELLOW and RED, and I’m free to launch operation “clean-sweep” out of Susa to send un-supplied remnants of RED and YELLOW armies routing in the swamps. By turn 18, phase 1 of my initial plan is finally complete!

Turn 17

By early turn 19, YELLOW is a mere memory and a lame mention in school manuals for the free people of the South. But the RED tyranny in Ur still mobilises masses, and logically a strong contingent is sent to kick out the autocratic RED regime from the antique city. The northerners leave a peaceful life, behind the inexpugnable walls of the Tigris citadels (30 firepower each). BLUE as just become the new super-power. But Armageddon is in the making in the outskirts of Kish, where RED shows all his madness and lack of strategic acumen.

Turn 19

With Ur taken and RED’s inability to call the fortune cards before the gates of Kish, we see the collapse of a RED clay giant, his armies roaming aimlessly in the central plains, suffocating without re-supplies. Our next stop is Kish, which falls by turn #20, signing off the absolute end of the YELLOW empire. Treasures are accumulating in the King’s halls of Umma and Ur, and money flows to pay countless Blue armies now.

Turn 20

On the morning of turn 21, river birds stop singing and large mammals desert the central grasslands, as we launch operation Typhoon to pacify the area occupied and looted for years by the evil troops of ORANGE. This all happens overnight, leaving only rogue bands of RED to clean up in the far North.

Turn 21

 

The game is won in 2 more turns, for a total of 24, leading to a score of 12,570. Please let me know if you manage to significantly beat that, I’d be interested to know.

Turn 23

 

Victory

Replay iBattle Academy – Western Desert Campaign 1

The Western Desert Campaign is the first one available in Battle Academy for iPad. One will argue that this game is not the most realistic simulation one can find about WWII at tactical level, and that’s fair enough. But what an awesome lot of fun to move troops across the dunes and villages on a tablet!

Western Desert Campaign

Mission #1 is titled “Capture the fort”, and it is some sort of tutorial set up involving just 3 AFVs and a couple of squads, whose mission is to take control of an isolated Italian fort. I love these briefing screens:

Capture the fort - Briefing

Capture the fort - Tactical map

The interest here will be to tick the 3 proposed achievements:

  1. Do not lose any units (probably the hardest one)
  2. Kill at least 10 enemy units
  3. Capture all victory points in 12 turns

So let’s get started! No option to configure your army here, you’re just offered the default 3 “Queens of the desert” aka Matilda tanks. A couple of Bren carriers full of tommies will come along a bit later, to help securing the buildings.

OOB and Achievements

 

Turn 01

 

I launch my platoon of reco tanks at full speed along the trail, and on turn two they spot their first column of italian tankette, which turn out to be CV33 or L3. The Matildas easily deflect the rounds of machine-guns, and in a snap I have blasted the first two in the column down to hamburgers. The 3rd one will face the same doom minutes after, hammered by my off-board artillery.

Turn 02

 

Pushing forward, I encounter some opposition in the rugged terrain around the road, where italian footmen have taken cover during my artillery barrage. These crags are indeed the ideal cover in barren lands, I should be mindful of them later on.

But resistance is futile and I bypass the obstacle to meet another column of brazilian tankettes. Meanwhile, my infantry is catching up, riding fast on the priceless Bren carriers. Stupid me! There was another italian squad hidden on the opposite slope of the valley. They were quiet so far because suppressed, but now they show up for a last hurrah. The tommies have to disembark for a surgical cleanup, while the Matildas teach english to their italian counterparts. In the bloody battle, I loose one of my squad, which is taking one achievement away, damn!

Turn 05

 

Finally, we are reaching the settlement and the fort, which looks dangerously quiet. No doubts there are some machine guns ready for an opportunity fire behind these dark windows.

Turn 06

Using Assault movement, I scout around the buildings, to spot some jerrys entrenched in the building on the outskirts. The tommies carry out a merciless assault and take ground. Good surprise, more reinforcement are coming, 3 more squads to support the final assault. Although they’ll take 3 turns to reach the settlement, in the absence of proper transport.(And now I realise I should have sent my empty Bren carrier to accelerate deployment). As there’s no signs of life, I decide to call for another artillery barrage, hopefully to suppress the last defenders.

Turn 08

 

My AFVs circle around, with a hope to take them aback, while infantry comes closer to the city wall, and capture another outpost.

Turn 09

 

 

We finally spot the last defenders and HQ officers trying to flee from the back of the fort. They are snared in a snap, and we claim victory on Turn 11!

Turn 10

 

Victory

Europa Universalis IV development started

Paradox Development Studio have started to share their Developer’s diary with the fan community, about what will be the 4 opus of the blockbuster series Europa Universalis.

Europa Universalis IV - Main Visual

As you well know, the empire building game Europa Universalis IV gives you control of a nation to guide it through the years and create a dominant global empire and will provide you unprecedented freedom in how you want to rule your nation and is cutting edge in its depth and historical accuracy. The game covers a period starting on November 11, 1444 A.D. and expanding until late in the 18th century.

Europa Universalis IV - Interface

Europa Universalis 4’s multiplayer will allow up to 32 players to battle each other or to join forces and cooperate as a single nation in a timeline encompassing thousands of historical events over 300 years.

Players will choose from more than 4,000 historical monarchs from over 250 countries. With a new system called “monarch power,” a nation’s leader influences the personality of the nation under his or her control. “Do you have a warrior King? Then it is time to make war,” Paradox said in a press release.

The game will also include a new trade system, which players can exploit by honing a nation’s trading prowess or through brute force by conquering key shipping ports. It is due for 2013-Q3, too long a time to wait. Stay tuned: http://www.facebook.com/EuropaUniversalis

ASL Video Tutorials

ASL TutorialsSometimes you just roam on Youtube and you can stumble upon gold nuggets. And the video tutorial from ID Jester are some of those, for Advanced Squad Leader fans!

There are probably 2 you want to start with, in relation to how to play ASL using VASSAL and the VASL module:

Beyond the basics, you’ll probably also enjoy this series of 14 tutorials, each of them spoken in a very clear and comprehensive manner. Good job ID Jester, the ASL community thanks you.

Episode #1: ASL Tutorial Video

 

20 decisive battles of the World

20 decisive battles of the WorldThat’s the interesting point of view taken at Turning Point Simulations, a division of LPS Inc, publishers of ATO Magazine.

In 1964, historian Lt. Col. Joseph B. Mitchell published a compact book, Twenty Decisive Battles of the World, an expansion of Sir Edward Creasy’s most famous work from a hundred years past, updating it into the 20th Century.

Turning Point Simulations (TPS) examines these 20 battles with a new series of boxed wargames. These games emphasize accessibility and playability, and come with hard-mounted maps and mounted, die-cut counters. Each battle is presented in a design of low complexity, but high challenge, from some of the industry’s top designers.

4 titles have been issued to date and are available for purchase in a “Honeymoon” offer, for just $170 out of the USA. You can also pre-order them all.

We’ve just passed our order and will keep you posted shortly about the interest of this new “Decisive Battles” series. But our guess is that it’s a very good entry point for new wargamers.

TPS new "Decisive battles" series

MMP preparing electronic rulebook for ASL

ImageAccording to a recent post of Chas Argent from MMP on both ConsimWorld and Gamesquad, the firm is on the verge of releasing an electronic version of ASL rulebook. That’s certainly exciting news for the players community, striving to make the game more popular and struggling to attract new players, often scared off by the complexity of just the Starter Kits.

Current printed version of the 2nd edition can be purchased for 80USD on MMP site, or 84AUD at Milsims. Interesting to see how they will ship and charge for the eBook version.

Supremacy revival downunder

Supremacy the game of superpowersYes we did it: Unearthed the crates, opened the game box, set up the board and counters and distributed the resource cards to 5 amateur wargamers gathered in North Sydney for a discovery session.

And that was quite a lot of fun indeed, just playing with the basic set and rule book. China, Russia, Europe, Africa and USA were around the table, leaving South America and RotW to pirates and neutral powers. After a round of observation, some remarkable operations took place, with Africa’s sudden strike on Maghreb and Egypt, Europe “pacifying” Iran (and incidentally plundering for oil), Russia and China colonising and splitting Australia, America striving for reunification with its southern neighbours, a remake of the Anschluss in Poland and Romania, and of the Falklands war.

The game ended too early, as some super-powers were emerging with Satellite technology, but still no sign of nuclear fire. No doubts our next Supremacy night will see bolder warmongers and financial powers around the table.

Supremacy is a well balanced game, that will take all Risk-lovers one step further on their wargaming journey.  Unfortunately it’s an oldie out of print today, but you can still try to find a used box on the web. If you want to know more visit our Supremacy Page!

Supremacy - Initial Setup