Sunday, 20 October 2013

Gaming on a Cruise, including Mighty Armies AAR

The Short Story

So I end up going on a cruise with the family. So what do I do - I take some figures to get a game in.  It gets better as the other families I am going with all have gamer dads. Yes, we gamed.  It included:

The Pacific Dawn off Lifou in New Caledonia - it was tough!

The Longer Story
So a female friend of a friend organises to go on a 7 night cruise on the Pacific Dawn to New Caledonia and Vanuatu (from Brisbane were we live) and keen to get others to go.  My wife's best friend decides to go as well so naturally we booked to go as well.  All up there was 31 of us - about 16 children from 5 to 10 years old and 15 adults.  All the dads ( the 6 male adults) that went are gamers of one form or another.  It just turned out that way - some of us had never met, some were acquaintances etc. Most of us had never gamed against one another. We had fantasy role players, War Machiners, boardgamers, ex-WK40K's and me, the historical miniature gamer (although I have a large boardgame past).

We all brought something (although again, none of us actually worked anything out before or even talked about it).  This post is mostly my point of views of the games I played.

The miniature rules
I knew if I took minis then there would be at least one person to play - the guy I play Armati against about once a year was going.  I did take along the Armati rules - just a cheat cheat, I know the rules fairly well I was not going to cart all the rules.  But in case others wanted to play, I tarted up my one-page Mighty Armies Ancients rules.  Simple and yet great fun.  The tarting was upgrading the unit combat values in line with Mighty Armies 2nd edition and modifying a couple of the rules to be in line with the 2nd edition.  I also made sure that just about every rule was covered, or at least had a reference to it to jog my memory,  on the one page. It also had a couple of my tweaks included. I only have the MA and MAA PDFs and did not want to print out all the rules, short as that may have been.

The one page Mighty Armies ancients rules reference.
Note that I was planning to run either or both Intro Armati on 2'x2' (core + 50 points) and Mighty Armies Ancients with 40AP on 2'x2'.

The minis
I was hoping to use a document box to store a couple of armies, the rules, a felt mat and dice etc.  I bought some foam to layer in the box to shock proof the minis

What I had to put together - document box, some foam green felt and a bunch of small terrain pieces.

It turned out that once I put the two layers of 20mm foam with miniatures between them there was enough room for the 2'x2' felt mat and a few pieces of paper.  So I got a small plastic container and put the terrain, dice, rules etc into that.

Things that were more tedious than I thought: 
1. I had picked up a green throw rug from IKEA a few years ago as you can never have enough terrain mats!  I had no used it, so I would just cut out a 2'x2' square.  Felt does not cut as easy as I thought - it stretches a lot.  Next time I would just go with green cotton, although now I have the felt mat, it does have a bit of weight to it which was good.

2. I selected about 40 15mm DBx bases that could form an army of Greeks, Macedonians and early and Late Achemenid Persians.  Making the indents in the foam was more tedious than I thought.  I used scissors and fingers to rip the holes.  I thought it would be easier, but with hindsight it was always going to take a while.

Anyway, everything packed in fine, and there was no damage at all.

How it packed together - document box with figures on right and small plastic container for everything else.
I also packed Family business and Naval War is they were staple games I played in the 80s while wait for people to arrive for games.  I have no played either since about 1990.

The gaming setup
It was a 7 night cruise and 3 days of those was on islands.  The best time we found for gaming tended to be mid to later afternoon - that was when there seemed to be a gap in activities of interest (playing games after Martini Masters may not have been the best idea).  The other time was evening after the main show finished - about 9:00 onwards.  to be fair, we did socalise at this time as well and I think only gamed two nights.  Games longer than 1.5 hours were a struggle.  With so much on, 1/5 hours was about the longest break we got!

Since day one we seemed to have drifted to a standard spot on the promenade deck.  We had smooth sailing the whole trip and the place we staked out was out of any wind.  It was a place all of us knew we could go any there would be someone from our party there.  The tables were a good size - nearly 3 feet round glass tables.

Munchkin and Super Munchkin
I had actually not played either of these.  They form an excellent narrative and I found Super Munchkin (I only played one game of this) fun but long.  These were played in the first few days of the cruise but finishing a game proved difficult for the guys and the only time one was finished was when they started with level 5 heroes.  The "real gaming" started on the 2.5 days on the journey back from Port Vila.

Super Munchkin in action on the promenade deck.
 Star Wars: X-Wing
One of the guys had packed the Star Wars: X-Wing starter set.  I had three games of this - once as each tie fighter and once as Luke.   This game fit perfectly on the round table.  It was loads of fun.  I had played Wings of War about 8 years ago and had a blast with that but I like Star Wars: X-Wing just as much, if not more.  As soon as I came back I scoured the internet looking for the cheapest place to get it but have so far resisted.  I know I am going to break down and get it, the question is just how long!  Christmas is looking like a good excuse....

Family Business
Only one other person was familiar with this game but all that played it wanted to play it again.  It was as good as I remember it.  Fast, full of light hearted revenge and banter-driven.  What more can someone ask for.  I originally had the first edition which had a lot of information on the cards so you never had to refer to the rules.  I lost it and picked up a second edition which is not so good as it just has the heading.  I am tempted to write the description of the cards on the cards - it really makes the game go faster.

Family business in action on the promenade deck (different day to Super Munchkin)

Mighty Armies Ancients
We got in one game.  I had not bothered to write up army lists but had worked out AP points for the various units.  so I just selected what seemed like 40AP of Greeks and Early Achemenid Persians.  From memory the army lists were something like this:

7 Hoplites, phalanx (extra +1 if front and back row is phalanx) and fearless (no drive back)
2 Peltasts
2 Skirmishers
3 Heavy Cavalry

1 Immortals
4 Sparabara
2 Heavy Cavalry, with bows
2 Light cavalry, with bows
2 Light Infantry

We played 2 a side but did not split the sides.  I think by the second move everyone had figured out the rules.  I briefly explained the rules and said "I may have left something out, but it will only come to me if it is to my advantage and I can say 'actually, you can't do that'".  So, on about turn 4, they bowfire (shooting I) at the general with a number of troops and I then remember a rule and say "actually, the general has 6 combat value so you cannot actually cause any damage.  I did say that I may remember some rules if they are to my advantage!"

A good move by the Persians sees the Horse archer move to the centre of the field to escape some hoplites on that flank.  On the other flank the pride of the Greek cavalry charged directly ahead into the Immortals and Sparabara.  Two were lost to bowfire, and the other died in the resulting melee. 

The game after about 3 turns.  The greek cavalry on the lower right was wiped out for no losses to the Persians
Meanwhile, the Greek smaller hoplite group and peltasts ganged up on the Persian cavalry and it was lost.  The horse archers tried to rescue them, but they were also lost.  The main battle was set between the main Hoplite unit and the Sparabara unit.  It was very close, one unit dying per turn until finally the Greek general, last base standing, was destroyed.

A bit later on.  The Persian cavalry to the top right was wiped out.  The main battle units clashed in the centre.

Playing the game was so much fun, everyone wanted to play until one side was eliminated.  The Greeks lost, but there was only about 3 Persians left on the table!  The whole game from unpacking, explaining the rules and playing until one side was gone was 1 hour.

One side had lots of bows, and the other side had none.  I used the shooting rules as it was in the rules.  It helped that all the bow-armed units were only Shooting-I.

Other games
3 people tried Naval War but it does not work well with 3, as they found out when the Destroyer squadron turned up early, they could not get rid of it and one player was out on turn 3!
2or 3 people tried out King of Tokyo - from all reports a fun game.
There were a number of games of Sequence going during the cruise.  I did play one game.  You have to think all the time so it is very quiet - not much room for banter.
Strangely no Eurogames.  Which is not a bad thing as I am not really a fan of them!

A hoot!  I go more gaming in on the cruise than I have in the last few years.  And a wide range of games too. I was not the most prolific gamer in the group but gave it a good go - some stayed up a few nights to play.  If you ever get to go on a cruise with some gaming mates, you need games that take about 1 hour, and do not take up that much room.  And you can easily play miniatures.  I think if we had got in a game of Mighty Armies at the start, we may have got in another couple games later on.  No matter though as there was plenty of gaming choice available and we all had a great time, both gaming and non-gaming.


  1. Lucky man! Glad to hear you had a good break and some good gaming. I like your gaming mat, too...


    1. The gaming mat is a much brighter green - I think the phone camera washed the colour out a bit. But I now have a decent portable 2'x2' mat.

      And I needed a break - work is really really busy.

  2. A nice post for a nice travel...glad to see you had some great seems that we have not the same version of Munchkin, my cards are looking a little bit different...anyway, thanks for sharing!

    1. The game in the photo is Super Munchkin which has not the fantasy tropes of Munchkin - Super Munchkin is set more contemporary and has mutants, Technos etc.

  3. What were the reactions of the people outside of your group on the cruise?

    1. We were too bust playing to notice! But the wives apparently noticed the occasional strange looks as people went past. For one of the late night Munchkin games, there was one guy that came over and asked what we were playing, but I think that was the only time anyone asked.

  4. Sounds great. I love Munchkin and X-Wing. Some people buy two starter sets just for the ships because they can be expensive individually.

    1. That is a good tip! I have a set of Star Wars Micro Machines from a long time ago that has a few Tie Fighters, X-Wings and Y-Wings. I may attempt to use them for the game when I get it.