Friday, October 16, 2020

Random Links for Friday 10/15

Random stuff for Friday, hurrah!

- Ooh, reading through Traveller.

- Runequest Classic Sale

I'm tempted to get a print and PDF copy of Runequest. James Mal suggests 2nd edition is the way to go. I'm not really going to play, I think, but I do want to read it. I've had lots of people suggest Griffin Mountain is amazing, but is it sit on my shelf after I read it amazing? Given the cost?

I should get 1st edition so I can see it from a historical perspective, but, maybe not. I'm not a historian of gaming. That said, I'd really like to read early editions of Pendragon and Chivalry & Sorcery at some point, too. I could get these in PDF only but I know from Tunnels & Trolls that it takes me longer to read a PDF, and I'm much less likely to just play a new game from a PDF. Use material for an existing game? Sure. New game? Nope.
I was shocked when I attempted to get the $20 hardback that shipping was $27 . . . because it's from the UK. Nevermind, softcover POD will do.

And yes, I know it's basically the CoC system . . . I played it when we ran Elfquest, but I'd like to see it as a more generic game system.

War in the East

So I did win War in the East. After my big offensive east, I finished the job on Turn 65. The game pretty much ended once I did - I grabbed a major city (Kazan), moved some units to consolidate my grab, and then as I was fiddling around moving up reinforcements I found many of the commands weren't working. I saved, when to exit the game, and the victory screen came up - ominious music, and scenes of flaming T-34s and German troops poking through wreckage. Decisive Victory. I'm glad I didn't choose one of the "Bitter End" scenarios, but had I done so I think I could have swept the Soviets completely from the map by, oh, turn 75-80 or so. Mostly because it would be hard to run them all down and to seize mountainous southern terrain.

In the end I controlled everything from Chelopets in the north to Kazan in the center, to Stalingrad, Saratov, Engels, Astrakhan, and I was a bit short of Baku (thank to stiff resistance, and ironically, lack of fuel.) I'd taken a bit under 2 million casualties and inflicted around 9 million on the Soviets. That's military . . . civilian losses must have been an appalling multiple of that, nevermind the inevitable sweep of folks meant for slave labor or death camps. Cheery victory, eh?

I was disappointed in the AI. I know I'd gutted the Soviet forces with a big encirclement or two, so offering resistance wasn't going to be easy, but suddenly it just kept pulling back from threatened strongpoints. I was able to just take city after city - often major ones - without any resistance. They'd be dug in, fort level 2 or 3, and very hard to flank . . . and pull out. Instead of spending 2-3 turns, maybe twice that, trying to leverage them out of some city or strongpoint, I was just handed them. That only happned on the last 10 turns, really, but it turned a race to win before winter into a bloody and quick rout.

I guess those Tiger Is can be used in North Africa? I literally had them used in one battle, and they did little except shoot some ammo off, burn some fuel, and have 2 break down in combat. The Soviet unit I struck fled quickly, routing, but only lost a handful of their tanks in the process. It never mattered.

Next time, I'll crank up the difficulty. I learned a lot. And yeah, if/when War in the East II comes out, I'm on it. Maybe I should fire up War in the West and give it a go next.

I've been re-reading AD&D spells recently, and I just want to say, I used to think Magic Jar was in incomprehensible spell. Now, I just think it's potentially comprehensible but a hot mess of explanation. I need to give it another go and see if I can wrap my ahead around how to play it out. No one ever took it, and no dungeon ever seemed to feature it. I'm glad for that.

- I love Morale systems. GURPS has one that's not as easy as, say, B/X D&D, but not as hard to use quickly as, say, AD&D's system. I tried to re-write the GURPS morale rules but ended up just deciding that maybe the original system is better than what I could generate. It works, if I remember to roll it. The PCs just try to shoot down and run down everyone who flees to ensure 100% casualties, so it's almost like save or die in my game when I do roll.

- Weird magic items are where it is at.


  1. Gaming AIs always seem a bit disappointing to me, and obviously advances in them have not remotely kept pace with other gaming technology.

    I remember playing the original Grigsby's War in Russia on my Apple IIc nearly 30 years ago with a similar (albeit vastly simpler-playing) result to yours. I survived the first winter with most of my forces in a big arc around Moscow, until finally breaking through around Voronezh to complete the encirclement, whereupon the AI seemed to lose all direction. I suppose, in that case, without the obvious objective to defend, it was really at a loss on what to do next, and couldn't form any coherent defense for Kuybyshev or the lower Volga. The modern version seems to have a somewhat more "granular" defense plan, but to kind of lose a sense of cost/benefit in defending anything.

    1. Sadly it didn't improve in 30 years. It just seemed like you said - it lacked a coherent plan. Even after I took Moscow I was really struggling, but once I unhinged the defense with a big encirclement it never was able to put one back together. Using rivers as barriers and cities as fortresses would have made for a tough finish to the game . . . and it's how the start and middle went. It felt so odd that it just kind of lost its way suddenly.

      Obviously playing versus a person would be better, it's just that I can't commit to anything except a random schedule of finishing turns for PBEM. That wouldn't be fun for me, nevermind my opponent's feelings on the matter.


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