May 23, 2024

Origins 2023 ~ Day 1 On The Ground

Patrick Rice, 1 July 2023

For Origins Game Fest 2023, I was invited to come help out with media work for the Armchair Dragoons, and was told to go off and experience the Fest, and report back what I had done. I signed up for as much as I could, and recorded my games as follows.

click images to enlarge

Crokinole, BrownCastle Games

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As a warm up, I dropped in with BrownCastle Games to learn Crokinole, a simple dexterity based game played with 2-4 players, with the object of first getting your piece into the center of the board, then knocking into your opponent’s pieces once they have at least one on the board. Crokinole played like a quick and simple tabletop version of curling with a hint of billiards, and I enjoyed learning it. I understand that with 4 players it can be played with teams of two, which happened later in the week at the Crokinole doubles tournament, which I sadly did not manage to attend.

 

Firefight, Ohio War Kings

My first scheduled event was learning Firefight, a skirmish sized miniatures game with hints of 40k and Star Wars Legion. Ohio War Kings had several armies laid out to choose from, along with a handy “how to play” booklet, with general rules and tips on playing the given factions. I gravitated towards the ones marked “Hard”, and choose Plague, a zombie/mutant army with a focus on melee combat; as a Chaos Space Marine player, I couldn’t resist the urge to take a fast melee army to rush with. My opponent played Forge Fathers, the dwarven faction which balanced shooting with fairly competent melee.

My attack plan was simple; I would hide my powerful ghouls and command squad behind the wall of zombies who would block line of sight from my opponents guns, while my walker and abomination advanced up the side while screening my two pairs of fast mutants. In response, the Forge Fathers deployed behind cover, digging in to fire on the Plague as they advanced.

Second turn, my opponent went first, scoring hits on my walker and disabling it for the turn. In response, my abomination charged his units in the shrubbery, destroying his halftrack and inflicting losses on his troops behind it. He countercharged the abomination, killing it, but lost most of the charging unit to a counter-counter charge by my fast mutants. The ghouls also charged through the zombie line, annihilating a unit of infantry, before falling back and having the zombies move forward to cover their positions from fire once again.

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The third and fourth turn played mostly the same, with my ghouls and zombies continuing to advance and destroy the last forge father infantry units. When time was called for our demo, the forge fathers were in full retreat as the Plague chased down stragglers.

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What I Thought: Firefight had an entertaining command system, with powerful special orders limited by a random pool of command points generated by rolling a number of D6s at the beginning of a turn. The system of “Move leader, then place models in coherency” is a useful and simple system for moving large quantities of models quickly, and cuts down on too much unnecessarily precise measuring.

 

Dropfleet Commander, Strategic Gaming Group

Next up, I joined a Dropfleet Commander demo ran by the Strategic Gaming Group. I was given 3 human cruisers and 4 frigates to face off against 3 Scourge cruisers and 4 frigates. I have some experience with Star Wars Armada and a miniature World War 2 naval system, so I was interested in how Dropfleet handled naval/space warfare.

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I spent the first turn moving up towards the Scourge fleet, avoiding the use of special orders, which would have allowed me to move faster in exchange for increasing the range my ships could be detected by the enemy, known as “Spikes”. My opponent did the same, and the turn ended with both fleets sitting just out of range.

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The second turn, which I was too engrossed in the game to take pictures of, saw my cruisers advance to the limit of their firing range, and all take major spikes to fire all their weapons at the closest Scourge cruiser. I had realized that my ships were superior at long-range gunfighting than the Scourge, and that my main concern was destroying the enemy cruisers before they reached close range. If the Scourge reached 6” of my ships, their Close Action weapons would quickly destroy my ships. Seeking to prevent this, my cruisers and frigates quickly destroyed the closest Scourge cruiser, leaving me with 3 capital ships to my opponents 2, but with my furthest forward ship heavily damaged.

By turn 3, the Scourge ships had successfully closed to close action range of my battlefleet. The heavily damaged human cruiser was destroyed, but concentrated fire from my remaining cruisers destroyed the Scourge cruiser in the rear, which was a priority target due to a powerful spinal weapon. Pictured is the desperate charge of my opponents final cruiser, which was attempting to knock out my carrier at close range before my heavy cruiser could engage it from the rear.

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The end of the fourth turn saw the destruction of the final Scourge cruiser, and most of their frigate escorts. My carrier managed to cling to life against all odds, and lived through the day on one health remaining. We did take a fifth turn to see what would happen with the final Scourge frigate, but it was engaged by the human heavy cruiser before it could do the final blow to my carrier.

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What I Thought: I was interested in the Spike rules for Dropfleet, where you could take minor and major spikes from either special orders, which increased your ships capabilities, or from critical damage. The spikes, respectively, increased the range of shooting to your ships by 6 and 12 inches respectively, and were a fascinating system for reflecting sensor capabilities of ships in space. Players could choose to run silent in order to get rid of spikes, but neither I nor my opponent decided to do so during our game, probably because we weren’t using objectives and were already in close combat by the second turn. Overall, I found Dropfleet an interesting space combat system, and found that it held my interest better than Star Wars Armada had the last time I played it.

 

Song for War, Invicta Rex Games, at the Armchair Dragoons Wargame HQ

I played Song for War three times at Origins this year. I had originally only signed up for the first game, but I loved it so much I kept coming back. The game closely resembles Axis and Allies, but with a Mediterranean focus, and far more intricacy. My first game I played as Germany along with a player running Italians, versus the Americans and British.

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Song for War is played over multiple alternating movement steps each turn, with most units moving multiple times over the course of a single turn. The situation over the course of a turn is fluid, and the arrangement of forces in the middle of a turn can vary enormously from the arrangement of forces at the end of a turn. During our first turn, the British seized Crete, and the Axis decided to hit back into Malta, to secure a better airbase to support North Africa and deny the British the use of Malta to strike into Italy. Unfortunately, we were overly aggressive and left the lone Italian battleship in the game exposed South of Taranto, where it was ambushed by the hidden American fleet and destroyed. Even worse, we failed to reinforce Crete, and the British leapfrogged from Crete into Athens, seizing the city and threatening to end the game on the first turn, something I was told had never happened before. Luckily, the fall of Malta yielded just enough victory points for us to cling on into the second turn. The game almost ended when the Americans launched a lightning strike into Naples, but incredibly lucky Axis dice rolling saw the city retaken before the campaign was lost.

It was not immediately clear to us at the time, but the fall of Athens had already doomed our campaign to failure. At the end of a turn, each player draws two National Support cards and two National Support tokens. These cards give powerful upgrades and buffs that can radically alter the situation in-game. The German cards were Counterintelligence and Resistance, while the Italian cards were Frogmen and Counterintelligence. Counterintelligence cards let us move multiple enemy units up to their full movement, and we used both of our cards to try and get the American fleet away from Italy, as well as drive off Allied aircover. Frogmen was used to prevent the British from building any Battleships or Aircraft Carriers in Alexandria for the turn; we failed to realize at the time that the combination of Counterintelligence and Frogmen could have been used to destroy the one British battleship South of Malta, which would end up being a devastating mistake.

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The game ended at the end of the second turn. The denial of British battleships into Alexandria meant they simply deployed them from Athens, since it had a comparable naval resource value anyways. With the massing of British resources in Greece, the Germans attempted to withdraw from Tunisia in order to move forces to meet them. Unfortunately, this would be our final mistake; the Allies seized Tunisia and Palermo in Sicily, giving up too many victory points for us to recover.

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What I Thought: I fell deeply in love with Song for War the first time I played it, despite our crushing defeat. The alternating movement steps created dozens of opportunities for clever plays to bait out enemy forces and destroy them, and each player had to think carefully about what the enemy could do, and what their own forces would have time to react to. Going first or second in the movement order both had their positives and negatives, and the game was well-balanced to allow a dynamic conflict with highly asymmetrical starts. 

 

Day Reflections: This was my first gaming convention, so I was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who turned up, and the enormous quantities of games being played. I was happy I had come with the Armchair Dragoons, because it gave me a home base to come back to and reset before trying to start something new. I wanted my first day to cover a variety of game types, which is why I focused on doing a traditional tabletop miniatures game, a space combat game, and a board game. Everything I tried I had never heard of before Origins, and each game gave me a great experience.

 


ORIGINS 2023 COVERAGE

WARGAME HQ EVENTS ~ MiD PREVIEW EPISODE ~ WARGAME HQ EVENT PREVIEWS ~ ADVICE FOR ROOKIES ~ CONSOLIDATED WARGAMING EVENT GRID ~ EXHIBITOR SPOTLIGHT ~ THE MAILBAG
SETUP & FIRST GAMES ~ ABOVE THE SHOW ~ DAY 1 REPORT ~ DAY 2 REPORT ~ DAYS 3 & 4 REPORT ~ EXHIBIT HALL ~ GAMEPLAY PHOTOS ~
WARGAME HQ EVENT REPORT  ~ THE SPIRITUAL SOJOURN ~ SPOTLIGHT ~ THE RAFFLE ~ CONVENTION PHOTOS  ~ AAR
DISCUSSION FORUM THREAD

 


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Oh, the Origins Game Fair’s now done
And the fun and games, they’ve all run
Our hearts filled with sorrow
As we pack up tomorrow
Till next year, our spirits are undone!

Brant G

Editor-in-chief at Armchair Dragoons

View all posts by Brant G →

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