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TOPIC: GMT East 2017

GMT East 2017 02 Apr 2017 20:44 #245878

Well I just got back from the 2017 edition of GMT East which, if you don't know, is a weekend of gaming put on by GMT Games for their devotees in White Plains New York which is about 15 miles from New York City. It's a relatively smallish affair with perhaps 75 or so attendees total in three conference rooms of the Grand Plaza Hotel with one of those rooms being devoted to the free snacks and coffee and the merchandise which is not free but usually cheaper than retail.


I got there on Friday afternoon and inserted myself into a game of Pax Porfiriana that was just starting up. I love this game but I rarely get to play it. The game isn't all that hard to understand once you've played a round or two but to explain it to new players is a real struggle. This makes it difficult to get played so I wasn't going to turn down a golden opportunity. As it turned out two of the players had never played and the guy doing the teaching, in my opinion, did a less than optimal job. Have you ever sat through somebody teaching a game where you know you could teach it much better and yet not interrupt the actual teacher? That truly was a challenge but I held my tongue. The two new guys were troopers though and muscled through until they began to see, through play, what the game was about.

Explaining the "topple" events, that is the victory checks, in the game is one of the hardest things to put coherently. It is somewhat convoluted and I'll be damned if I've figured out a way to say it that doesn't confuse new players: "The specific type of victory point that matters depends on the type of government and the target number is 2 plus the sum of the two players with the least of that type of victory point."? I don't know that may be as close as I can get.

Anyway, the explainer guy was getting a bit bored by the game, maybe because he didn't think he could win or maybe he was getting hungry, and tried to throw the game to me but when that failed to work due to a change in government he decided to call it. A somewhat unsatisfying end to the game but I met three decent dudes and got to play one of my favorites for a little while.


Friday night was the new edition of Mare Nostrum. This is a super fun game. Simple enough to explain and play but with a lot of options. I again got to play with a great group of dudes which made it even more fun. The kind that are super smart and good players but not uptight at all. So we could joke and trash talk a bit and still have a real competitive game. I, as Egypt, got embroiled in a war of spite with the Persians (?) on the east edge of the map and by doing so ruined my chances of winning. Both Rome and Carthage had accumulated enough resources for a "Pyramid" sudden death victory on the same turn but the build order was being determined by Persia who, by his blind choice of Carthage, determined the winner.

This is a very good and very smooth dudes on a map/area control game.


Saturday morning was spent play testing a scenario for the latest edition of the Flying Colors series of Age of Sail games. I've played this game once before and liked it well enough to get a copy but I'm no huge fan of sailing games. However, Mike who designed the game and was in our Mare Nostrum game, is a super nice and fun guy and I figured what the hell. Well as it turns out I'm even worse a sailor than previously suspected and with little to no knowledge of the optimal sailing direction and the consequences of making poor navigational choices I had pretty much lost any chance at victory within the first two turns.

I'm not over bright but I could see the writing on the wall and not wishing to spend the next two hours getting my ships slowly reduced to flinders, I asked my opponent if he would mind terribly if I conceded. He was amicable to it and so it was that I shall ever be remembered as the worst commander in the history of the Spanish Navy.


Saturday afternoon was the game I was looking most forward to. Fields of Despair, a new block game of the Western Front of WW1. The initial hook was that it had a "fog of war" apsect (as all block games do) and that it also had an economic/supply aspect missing from most games on that subject. So I was intrigued and pumped to play it. The game is good looking with a full on mounted board and great big chunky tokens and a player mat that makes sense (mostly) but the game play, I thought was a bit of a let down. Our game ended before the end of 1914 with a sudden death victory for the CP. The game, at least in the early stages, is structured in such a way that the German's must take northern France and Belgium and the French must take points in Southern Germany else the game is over. Historically accurate I guess but when our game came to an end, I as the Allies, had held the German advance far back from it's historic high water mark with the exception of the channel ports having fallen to the enemy but I had failed to destroy my armies in the full throated execution of Plan 17. Thus I lost.

The economic aspect boiled down to being allocated resource points in the form of cubes in quantity determined by the game turn, meaning nothing you did or didn't do would alter the number of troops or resources you would get, and determining if you wanted to increase the intensity of naval blockade, air development, gas development or elite troop development. A bit of a new wrinkle in this type of game but I didn't find it particularly interesting.

I guess I just found the game a bit predictable and lacking in tension. To be fair though, Western Front WW1 games especially early war, are tough to make interesting especially if designed to force you into historic paths meaning Germans will bog down eventually and Allies will build up remorselessly. I place this type of game in the same category as I do submarine games; I'm always hoping to find that one great one but haven't found it yet.


Saturday night was a game of Silver Bayonet 25th Anniversary edition against our very own Flim Flam. This is a great looking game. Again on a fully mounted map that is just great to look at. If the ladies have 50 Shades of Gray, us wargamers now have our 50 Shades of Green.

I played the Americans and Flim had the Vietnamese. That game contains a form of hidden unit placement/movement that I think works really well and the victory conditions are chosen randomly. You pick three from a pool of six or so. This means your opponent isn't completely ignorant of what you might be trying to achieve but he isn't completely sure either.

The game also uses a cool combat system divided into two types of attack, either frontal assault or maneuver combat. Ideally you use a "combined arms" attack with an element using maneuver combat to disrupt and weaken the enemy and then the other using assault to finish them off. Really neat.

With the game new to both of us, it is understandable that Flim's initial deployment was horrible and made his chances of winning almost nil. I, as the American's, and with choppers that allowed me to move my units around the board almost at will, was able to make mince meat of his scattered troops. We called in about 1/3 of the way through.

I look forward to giving this one a try again.
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GMT East 2017 02 Apr 2017 20:59 #245879

Thanks for the report... I feel you on Pax. Best games I've played were against experienced F:ATties. Pax is one of those games that depends on everyone at the table knowing their shit to keep things going. Otherwise there are surprise, the guy to your right didn't see you were about to topple, wins. The few games I've played with experienced folks tended to go a lot longer, often the distance decided by gold.

Silver Bayonet sounds interesting. I like any post WW2 system that doesn't treat combat like germany-us tactical battle from ww2. Fields of fire was great at capturing this in its Vietnam missions, which I rarely played because they were very complex relative to WW2 or even Korea scenarios.
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GMT East 2017 03 Apr 2017 07:30 #245890

Nice write up. I'm starting to sound like the Brooklyn Dodgers, "maybe next year" I'll drive up to join in on some gaming. After seeing your first 2 games I was wondering if you actually played GMT games there.
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GMT East 2017 03 Apr 2017 10:26 #245903

Glad you had fun. I LOVE the new Mare Nostrum, let's do a weekend game of it soon!
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GMT East 2017 03 Apr 2017 11:52 #245910

My GMT East AAR:

Got there Friday AM. Was originally gonna do some PAX games, but between people trickling in late and me having to step out to do a phone interview ( which they emailed me to reschedule after waiting a half hour ) not much happened til early afternoon.

Bob Sohn and I played Star Wars Rebellion and Warriors of God. In the former, I sniffed out his Rebel Base on Dantoine . He had left it lightly defended in hopes of minimizing Gathering Intel Probe Card draws. I didn't have a huge ground force, just an Imperial Walker and little walker. But between that and General Veers blowing up the Shield Generator , it was enough.

We also played Warriors of God. In a change of pace, we played the Lion in Winter scenario - the one with Robin Hood. Bobs evil British jumped out to an early lead, getting up to 16 VP around mid game. Then in one game, he threw 3 "1" rolls for leader death, wiping out everyone in England. In the following turn, I swung it 12 VP and we called it after that.

Got in a game of 7 Wonders Duel with James Terry afterwards.

Since Stein claimed some sort of sickness, no ANGOLA game.

That night after dinner 5 of us played Terraforming Mars. I had the corp that gets a $1 production boost for every Jovian tag played. Not a single one got played ( players kept chucking them instead of playing ) til almost the very end - when I played one. However, I don't wonder if that helped me win as those cards tend be powerful, so others decided not to use them. I managed eke out a win that saw 5 of us separated by only about 10VP. I forgot to check, but I am willing to be that every single asteroid in the deck was sent hurtling to the surface, as plant population seemed to be pretty difficult til the very late game.

Saturday Mike Gentile played War of the Ring using my Anniversary edition. His Fellowship was taking heavy fire early and often from some lucky Hunt Rolls. What really did him in was a turn 2 playing of the Palantir of Orthanc. Between that and the Witch King, I was cycling cards pretty effectively. I had denied him places to heal up, so by the time he staggered into Mordor, he had like 9 Corruption and only two meat shields left. It was all for naught though as after wiping out Gondor and Rohan, I was able to capture Lorien for the win.

We then played Combat Commander, Codes in the Sunrise. My Germans defended against his Recon Brits. He spent a lot of time dicking around discarding and forming up to try a board edge sneak. But shitty Smoke draws and the time it allowed me to shift down to block it he kind of got stuck . In the meantime, I was able to draw and play 5 Hidden Defender events as he kept discarding. When he finally Melee'd my best leader stack, it was too late as a sudden flurry of Time Triggers denied my the chance to try out the shiny Pioneer/Flamethrower I had just received.

A brief game of Royal Turf with Dr. Rob , his son, and Jeremey Billones. I came in third I think. I suck at horse racing.

That night after dinner a couple games of Roll for the Galaxy and a couple of Glory to Rome. The second game, I had a sweet engine . One gave me Legionary abilities for the whole table ( in a 5P game no less ) as well as the bonus of drawing cards from the target stockade as well. I had another card that gave me 1 VP for every two cards in my Stockpile at game end. The game ended two players before my turn, when I would have sucked another 8 cards out of the Pool. Both games ended with the draw deck emptying, not uncommon in 5P games. Still love playing it.

Sunday James and I were gonna do PoG, but he had to leave early so since we couldn't finish it we did shorter stuff. Warriors of God, same scenario, similar result. The French leaders really blow, but if they get Richard and/or Robin Hood, they can go on a roll. Then a Italian/American Combat Commander scenario. My pasta fed warriors fended off his Americans, who ran into an early tangle of Wire that caused them them to shift around and get hung up in a firefight in a weird part of the map. I got the Initiative early and held it for most of the game, forcing him to eat some bad rolls.

We ended with two games of 13 Days, which we were both rusty on. The first game, as the Americans he blew himself up via DefCon. The second game, we both played very tight - neither side got above the lowest box of DefCon 2. We ended the game tied, but I had the Personal Letter which is the tie breaker.

Won a copy of Triumph and Tragedy as a door prize. Picked up Silver Bayonet, mounted map for Unhappy King Charles, and the Labyrinth expansion pack.
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GMT East 2017 03 Apr 2017 13:36 #245913

On the what did you pick up in the merch room front, It was all hexasim, all the time. Man, they make some absolutely dynamite looking games and most have the reputation of being well designed also. As they are French, there are some translation issues with the rule books but they seem to be getting better in that regard. My favorite was in one instance they were trying to say that you put some chits in a cup for a random draw and the actual wording was something along the lines of "you shall then put the chits into a recipient..." Ahh, those wacky Gauls...will they never learn. Anyway....


I picked up Liberty Roads, a D-Day to VE Day campaign game. As ever with these guys the unit counters and the map all look fantastic. It has the reputation of being a great system and with only 16 pages of rules, which is nothing, how could I say "no"? I especially like how on the reinforcement table, every month is headed by an image of a calendar pin up girl from that month in 1944 or 45. Totally unnecessary, totally ridiculous, and yet totally cool.

I also scooped up the expansion to this game called Roundhammer which is about what might have been had the allies chose to invade France in 1943 as most American generals were advising at the time. I like "what if" scenarios so this should be cool as well.


I've been on something of a Samurai tear lately what with having listened to Sho-gun on audio (highly recommended), watching the new Samurai Jack, and reading my collection of Usagi Yojimbo. So when I saw that Hexasim also had a Samurai game I grabbed it. Tenkatoitsu contains 4 different battles each with it's own map. The unit counters rather than depicting silhouettes of samurai or what have you, which is what you might expect, depict flowers or clan symbols of various Japanese houses. Nice! It is a "chit activation" system with clans (which in a western game might depict brigades) being given general orders in advance every turn. So you can tell them to attack but not be sure they'll do it when it is to their best advantage in any given turn. The orders can also sometimes fail to go off all together depending an a die roll on a chart. My favorite result is "The orders are delivered by the messenger but without the proper etiquette. What an insult! The order is ignored."

One word of caution, looking at the back of the box you might be tempted to think that the maps come in the form of Japanese fans which would be crazy and stupid but totally cool so not out of the realm of reason when it comes to Hexasim. However, you would be wrong. The maps are traditional rectangles.

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GMT East 2017 03 Apr 2017 15:34 #245915

I own Liberty Roads. At home I have been soloing Victory Roads, the East Front version. Covers the destruction of Army Group Center through the end of the war . I like the system, shows the Russian ebb and flow pretty well from what I've seen - they are strong, but require pauses to reorg their forces.
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