Had the gang over for gaming yesterday. Well, some of it. Jason came down sick at the last minute, which left us at four. We could have had Zjonni over, but we were already scheduled for a 5-player day, and I found out about Jason well after I told Zjonni to get some more sleep after staying up all of finals week.

We stuck with the original plan though, and tried out Origins of WWII, a 1971 AH game designed by Jim Dunnigan. It is indeed very simple and short, and we got in two rounds before lunch. We took the four-player option of just ignoring the US.

We took the powers we happened to be sitting in front of the first time, which gave me France. With the lowest number of PFs and going first (without the Americans involved, at least), it was a challenge. The Baltics and Romania fell to Russia (Mark) early, while Poland went to Germany (Dave). I managed to start a movement that preserved Czechoslovakia, with French, British and Russian Understanding with the country at the end. Dave tried kicking the British (Patch) out of the US towards the end, but Patch managed to re-acquire an Understanding with them. Patch won at the end with 22 points, and the rest of us tied at 16.

We drew randomly for powers the second time, and I was happy to note that no one got the same power as last time. I drew Russia, and lost a bid to share Control of Poland with Patch’s Germany. Disastrously, Germany also got Control of Romania while I was working on an Understanding with Germany. Patch also got control of Czechoslovakia early, leaving the east pretty well locked down with me taking the Baltic States. The bad news for Germany, was that he was stymied in the Rhineland for the entire game, and had to pour a lot of PFs down that hole against the quite able alliance of Britain (Mark) and France (Dave). I kept miscalculating slightly for the last couple turns, which damaged my plans, but with very few positive objectives left, I started booting the other powers out of positions, mostly Understandings with me and Italy. The game ended with Patch getting 20 points, me getting 15, and Mark and Dave tied at 14. I claimed a small moral victory for only scoring one point less than the first game, while everyone else dropped two.

After lunch, we tried out the Risk: Black Ops game that Dave got for Christmas. We were hoping to have time for more Origins afterward, but despite steps taken in the new edition to shorten the game, it didn’t get that much shorter.

We used the ‘Basic Game’ set up provided, and I had blue with forces mostly in North America and Asia, and my capital in the Northwest Territory. The idea is to go after ‘objectives’, and the first to collect three of them wins. I took one fairly early, by holding all of North America. I had decent border forces in Iceland and Central America, and started consolidating a position in Asia. Patch had South America and a position on the Europe/Asia border, while Dave had Africa and parts of Europe. Mark had taken Australia early, and was spreading across Asia.

I had three turns where it looked like I was doing well, and then both Patch and Mark broke through my defenses, Mark getting all the way to my capital. This began a very long back-and-forth that lasted the rest of the game between me and Mark, where I would occasionally retake NA, and move back out into Asia, but I just could not hold the border for very long. Mark held my capital about as often as I did. Mark also managed an early turn in of cards for the new maximum value: 10 stars on 5 cards to get 30 armies. A full half of that disappeared into Irkutsk where my defending dice beat him for 8 solid rounds. He had enough to keep going after that, but much of the force was out of his offensive. (To be fair, the dice hated Mark during most of the game.)

During my later recovery (two turns where I seemed to be getting places again), I did get the objective for having 18 territories, barely beating Mark to taking it. As time ran short, both Patch and Dave had gained one objective, and me and Mark both had two. Dave ran riot with a good turn in, but couldn’t quite get what he wanted. Patch had reserved a fair amount of force from an earlier turn in, and with a new turn in, and me and Mark both weakened by Dave, he finished off Mark to take his objectives and take the game.

Without the die luck, Mark probably should have won that one, but as it is Patch won all three games. There’s no real idea what we’re doing next time, though both Origins and Republic of Rome are looked forward to the next time we have a 5-player day.