Playing a game to win

I tend to avoid New Year’s resolutions. Not only do you often to fail to complete them but I know that my flighty nature and lack of focus makes resolutions a perilous prospect. One goal that I have for the new year is to focus on a game and attempt to become a better player at it. And not just a better player but to become a competitive player and perhaps win a store championship.

I am not a competitive gamer. I do not “play to win”. I am not sure the reason for this but I am more often interested in the social aspects of gaming than I am at winning. I also lose a lot of games. One reason for this is that I often ignore effective builds for “fun” builds. I get more enjoyment out of winning with interesting or odd builds than I do with just winning.

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Basing Normans

I have been curious about the Saga historical skirmish game for some time. It is written by Studio Tomahawk, the makers of Muskets & Tomahawks, but published, and largely supported, by Gripping Beast Miniatures. Sadly (or perhaps happily for my wallet) I didn’t know anyone in the city that played it so I refrained from picking the game up. Some time ago Palmer asked me about the game and before I knew it I had a 4 pt Norman Warband on order.

The Warband contains nine mounted miniatures, eight crossbowmen and a left unit of 12 archers. All of the figures are metal so the entire package, while small, weighs a heck of a lot. The miniatures are a throwback in a lot of ways. They are metal, they are less detailed than most current figures and the casting quality, while not bad by any means, is lower than what one expects from most non-historical figures.

I assembled them some time ago but hadn’t been able to sand the bases (prior to priming) because my white glue went missing while being used by the twins for a project. They found it recently and I was able to finally add some sand to the bases and get one step closer to applying paint to them.

Sandy Normans

The current plan is to paint the levy first. They are going to be the longest and possibly most tedious part of the project so its best to get them out of the way and then paint the Warriors with crossbows and then the cavalry.

Hopefully the weather will hold and I will be able to prime them tomorrow. I am going to use one of the khaki or tan primer colours I have and then use that as a base coat for some of the padded armour that the levy and Warriors wear. I am always on the lookout for a shortcut.

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A update of sorts

So it has been quite a bit of time since my last blog post so I thought that I would post some form of update to attempt to kickstart my blog again.

There has been a lot going on as of late so its not that I haven’t had anything to post about only that I got out of the habit of blogging. So, in no particular order, here are some of the things that I have been doing in regards to gaming.

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Epic Card Game demo

Last night I ran a demo of the Epic Card Game at The Sentry Box. Epic is a fantasy card game, in the vein of games like Magic, that was recently funded on Kickstarter by White Wizard Games, the folks who did Star Realms. I’ll be discussing the game with some reference to the rules so if you are interested you should check out the rules and have a quick look over them as you read.

Like many Fantasy themed card game, Epic involves the summoning of creatures and heroes to battle your opponent and also lets you play spells or events to interact with your or your opponent’s creatures. In Epic all attacking creatures or heroes are called Champions and they cost either one or zero gold to play. Each turn, each player gets a single gold to use and this gold can’t be saved from turn to turn. So on your turn you are either playing one powerful Champion or Event and then supplementing it with several less zero cost and less powerful Champions or Events.


While Epic reuses some abilities and concepts from Magic, it is quite a different game because of several key concepts. The first is the aforementioned Gold. There is a discrete limit to the number of powerful Champions you can play in a turn but you can also play a Powerful creature immediately. In my first game, my opponent played a Rampaging Wurm and then buffed it with a zero cost Event called Rage to make it a 19 attack Champion with Blitz (allowing it to attack immediately). I was staring at a Champion that was going to cost me two thirds of my health total on the first turn. This is unique to most of the card games I play.

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The problem with Battletech

One of the games, and game universes, that I have always liked has been Battletech. The game is supported by background material that spans over 100 years of concurrent history and also stretches into the game’s “past” 300 years as well. These periods have their own technology, Mech designs, personalities, politics and events. The Battletech universe flows from the Fourth Succession War to the Clan Invasion, the Federation Commonwealth Civil War, the Word of Blake Jihad and the Republic of the Sphere. It is a vast development that makes the 40K universe look like fanfic in comparison.

The game has a problem though in that many players don’t explore this vast history and tend to focus on the 3029-39 period of the Fourth Succession War. This is the original historical period of the game when it was first released by FASA and it is the one that is supported in the Introductory Boxes Sets that have been released by Catalyst Game Labs in the last few years. Those sets contain 24 plastic Mechs from the 3029-39 period (of varying quality depending on the set) which can also be used for the Clan Invasion period.

There are several very interesting periods available for gamers to explore and yet there is a reticence (or at least a perceived reticence) on the part of many Battletech gamers to move out of the Fourth Succession War period and game in them. While I don’t think that there is any single reason for it, I do think that there are several complicating factors that make gamers less likely to branch out from the 3029-39 period.

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Star Wars Armada event report

Today was the first Star Wars Armada event at The Sentry Box and five intrepid souls, plus myself, made it out to the store to fight for glory and variant art cards. I suspect that we may have had a higher turnout if not for the fact that Imaginary Wars had a Imperial Assault Regional event.

I played a variant on the last Imperial list that I tried :

Flagship: (132 pts)

Victory II-Class Star Destroyer (85 pts)

  • Admiral Screed (26 pts)
  • XX-9 Turbolasers (5 pts)
  • Ion Cannon Batteries (5 pts)
  • Defense Liaison (3 pts)
  • Warlord (8 pts)

Fleet Ship 1: (93 pts)

Gladiator II-Class Star Destroyer (62 pts)

  • Expanded Launchers (13 pts)
  • Weapons Liaison (3 pts)
  • Demolisher (10 pts)
  • Sensor Team (5 pts)

Squadrons (72 of 99 pts):

  • 4x Tie Fighter Squadron (32 pts)
  • 1x Sontir Fel Tie Interceptor Squadron (18 pts)
  • 2x Tie Interceptor Squadron (22 pts)

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300pt Star Wars Armada gaming

Nathan came over on Wednesday and we played a 300pt game of Star Wars. This was my second game and my first game at 300pts so there was still a lot to learn while we played.

My force consisted of:

Flagship: (101 pts)
Victory II-Class Star Destroyer (85 pts)

  • Admiral Chiraneau (10 pts)
  • Flight Controllers (6 pts)

Fleet Ship 1: (66 pts)
Gladiator I-Class Star Destroyer (56 pts)

  • Gunnery Team (7 pts)
  • Insidious (3 pts)

Fleet Ship 2: (62 pts)
Gladiator II-Class Star Destroyer (62 pts)

Squadrons (65 of 98 pts):

  • 1x Major Rhymer Tie Bomber Squadron (16 pts)
  • 2x Tie Interceptor Squadron (22 pts)
  • 3x Tie Bomber Squadron (27 pts)

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Imperial Assault tournament

Today was the first Imperial Assault tournament at The Sentry Box. For some odd reason, perhaps due to the timing of the release for the game, we have a tournament kit out at about the same time as the Regionals kit. Even more perplexing, we have two Imperial Assault Regional events here in Calgary. Sadly I can’t make the first one at Imaginary Wars but I will be able to make the one hosted at The Sentry Box.

Game 3

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Learning about myself

Mage DeckI like to play games. And one of the games that I really like to play is Hearthstone. Due to some memory issues of the iPad, I took an unwilling hiatus from the game but with the recent updates I have been able to play again. One of the reasons that I like the game so much is that it has a balance in it that doesn’t require you to pay for or grind for cards to be competitive. It is really the anti-thesis of a game like Magic the Gathering.

Currently I am working my way up the ranking system in the game using the Mage deck shown to the left. Despite there being two mini-sets and a full set of cards released since the last time I played, I am playing quite competitively with a deck made up of cards from the initial release. The deck is quite solid, has responses for most of the threats that you see in the game and can deliver a considerable amount of damage. Using it I am undefeated in the last five matches (a bloody miracle for me) and perilously bored.

The deck almost plays itself. Which, I suspect, is a testament to the thought that went into designing it. Not that I did the design. I tweaked it a touch to fit the cards that I have in my collection but most of the hard work was done by some anonymous person online. The decks I design are different. And by different I mean “fun”. Fun for me and certainly aimed at having a theme, building a combo or just being goofy like including all the minions in the game that deliver random damage.

And so while the decks I build deliver some amusing games for me (see below), they don’t win consistently. Certainly not consistent enough to work through the Hearthstone rankings. And yet I enjoy those games a lot more than I am currently enjoying my “win streak”.

This isn’t exactly news for me. I have known for some time that I am not an overly competitive gamer and that my focus has always been on having fun and not necessarily on winning. What is interesting though is just how little enjoyment I get from just winning. Beating an opponent is certainly fun and it’s not as if I am a glutton for punishment who just likes to lose. The magic point for me seems to be creating a win from an uncertain series of parts. Building a victory but with tools that I like as opposed to putting together a list whose only aim is to win.


Imperial Assault Campaign Game

We had a gaming day at The Sentry Box and as part of that I managed to play the Imperial side in the first campaign scenario for imperial Assault game from FFG. In it the Rebel heroes have to work their way into a small Imperial station and destroy the data terminals by the end of six turns or before they are all wounded.

It seemed as if it would be a cake walk at first but in our game the Rebels were defeated at the last minute when an Imperial E-Webber team managed to wound the final hero and end the game just prior to the same hero blasting away the final terminal.

We didn’t use many of the standard accoutrements from the campaign game rules as this was just a one-off game but it was still a lot of fun. I’m going to be trying to arrange a group to run through the campaign properly and get the full experience.


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