Saturday, November 16, 2013

Millenniumcon 16 Saturday Morning

The second of two games I played at Millenniumcon 16 last weekend. This was one of the best morning convention games I have ever attended - the hosts brought donuts, kolaches, and coffee.

Wolves from the Sea

Saturday morning slot. GMs: Matt Kibbe and Adam Rios.

Best. Morning. Game. EVER.

Saga is a miniatures skirmish game set during the Dark Ages by Gripping Beast. It is a historical game, but not in the sense of accurately modelling combat in a specific period. Rather, it depicts what might be said about a particular battle after the fact. The kinds of tales that come out late in the evening after a few drinks, a fine repast, and a few more drinks. This was another game I heard about from Meeples and Miniatures and looked forward to giving a try.

This was an open demonstration. Players were paired off against each other and given a selection of four point armies to choose from. I ended up playing the Irish against the Vikings. The scenario started with the warlords from both sides already in close combat range and the rest of their armies deploying on the edges of the board.

Overall setup. Both mats were divided, allowing 8 players to play in 4 simultaneous games.

First Impressions - Pros:

The core game system is light and fast. Granted, this was a stripped-down demonstration game, but all of the players seemed to pick up the rules quickly. Play time was roughly two hours, including instruction time.

The Irish and the Vikings have a very different flavor and rely on different tactics. The Irish use missile fire to soften up their opponents as the range closes. The Vikings favor melee combat. The special abilities of each faction further add to their strengths.

The custom Saga dice determine what a player can do with his army on a particular turn. Units (other than the warlord) must be allocated dice to act in a given turn. Symbols and combinations of symbols can activate special abilities.

The action on the board is very fluid. Units move up to engage and losing units fall back. The back and forth maintains focus. My attention never wondered far from the board, even when it was my opponent's turn.

First Impressions - Cons:

I generally regard "I-go, you-go" initiative as a weakness in a system. It is not as noticeable in Saga. The fluid nature of the game results in relatively little down time during the other player's turns. The period also helped. There were no large fields of fire to encourage players to hunker down in cover and result in a static game.

Each faction has their own custom Saga dice. Each set of six dice costs around $20.00 USD. I regard that as a little on the expensive side.


I had a fun time. The game is challenging and kept my attention until the end. Saga is a candidate for my next game, but I have a number of projects to complete until I can take on a new period.

Millenniumcon 16 Friday Night

Millenniumcon 16 was held in Round Rock, TX last weekend. I only managed to play in two games due to a combination of schedule conflicts and game slots filling up. Of course, that's double the number of games I get on a "good" weekend, so I'm pretty happy with that.

Chain of Command Boot Camp

Friday night slot. GM: Tom Primrose.

Central board set up and initial deployments.

Chain of Command is a game that I've been interested in trying since hearing about on the Meeples and Miniatures podcast. It's a WWII platoon level skirmish game by Two Fat Lardies. Normally, I don't play much in the way of historical games, but this one caught my attention.

This was a demonstration game offering a taste of the system without getting bogged down. The scenario featured an American patrol and a German patrol running into each other in the ruins of a European town. The GM took us through force construction, the patrol phase, using command points, the initiative mechanics, and combat.

American G.I.s pile in and around a ruined house for cover.

First Impressions - Pros:

Chain of Command force construction is based on historical deployments. This helps to avoid the "Tiger Problem" found in some WWII games. No showing up to a minor skirmish in a no-name town with every last Tiger tank historically deployed to this part of the front.

The patrol phase and the fact that neither side starts with forces on the board gives the game a very different feel. It avoids the race line start seen in many other miniature games. Instead, two forces grope to find the enemy and scramble to get available forces into the fight.

The initiative system uses dice to determine which units can activate in a particular round. Officers can use command points to activate other units. Senior officers can activate more units than junior officers since they have more command points. A unit with an attached officer is more flexible than one without an officer. This shows the importance of leadership on the battlefield.

The game succeeds at showing the differences between national armies. Each American rifleman had good firepower in the M1 Garand, but the BAR could only provide limited support. This had the effect of spreading out American firepower. Every rifleman not getting in line of sight to a target led to a measurable loss of firepower.

On the other hand, German infantry was armed with a bolt-action rifle, but was supported by belt-fed machine guns with a rapid rate of fire. This meant that their firepower was concentrated in those machine guns. Getting the machine guns into position was the critical part of maneuvering for the Germans.

Decision point: German infantry deploy to stop the American advance.

First Impressions - Cons:

The game never really came together for me. Every rule makes sense - I understand and approve of the logic behind each individual rule. But I never felt those rules flowing together into a system. The game remained a collection of rules. Part of this might be lack of repeated play or the convention experience of splitting a side up among multiple players.

Endgame: the Americans wipe out the defending Germans with a courageous, but costly charge.


This is a good game and I had a good time with it. The tactical challenges were interesting and the game was close up until the end. Chain of Command is a game I'll be keeping an eye on, but it might not be my next game.