As usual, the household went up to Smudge’s parents for Christmas this year. It was a pretty good gathering, and the first time we’ve gotten to see her sister and her husband in years. Everyone is doing pretty well, and Smudge’s allergies are to the point where an overnight stay was possible again.

With money being very tight in the household (though it looks like things will steadily improve over the next year), it wasn’t much of a Christmas from a personal gift-giving or -getting perspective. Smudge’s parents tried, they got me the Halo Interactive Strategy Game. They know I like boardgames, and I give them full credit for the effort, but the reviews are atrocious (and from what I see, they’re right on), there were obviously meant to be expansions to it, and those have been canceled, and the ‘base set’ has been relegated to bargain bins across the country. It does have some nice plastic miniatures and modular terrain. I’ll let the guys in the group who are into miniatures argue over who gets those; it’ll find a good home at least.

And on Monday, my copy of Barbarossa: Crimea arrived (now there’s a study in contrasts). I’m still poking my way through the rules, but it does look pretty promising. I hope to play my way through the introductory scenario soon.

As usual, I have the week between Christmas and New Year’s off. I’ve wasted a fair chunk of it playing Plants vs. Zombies. And by being under the weather. Not full-out sick, though if I’d tried going into work on Monday, it could have happened.

Anyway, Jason is free for the next month or so, so he came up on Wednesday, and we gave Paths of Glory a test run. He could stay ’til 7, and we already know the general system from Pursuit of Glory so we got about halfway through. He decided to take the Central Powers when he showed up, and lead off with the standard Guns of August.

The earliest game-shaping event was probably when I hit him with Moltke right after he discarded Falkenhayn for Ops. This left operations on the Western Front relatively expensive, and the action there stalled for quite a while. I was also able to keep his attention divided between the fronts by various actions, including an ill-fated British attempt to re-occupy Liege, and doing what I could to shore up Serbia. I spent a 4/4 card on RPs on turn 2 to partially rebuild them, and to get the Russians back into shape. The Germans drove into Warsaw pretty early, but I kept threatening the southern flank and picking on the Austro-Hungarian army.

The two main (caught) rules errors were the siege roll penalty on the first two turns, and the fact that British, French and German MOs have to be on the Western Front. The former potentially affected several sieges, but most notably, the Russian siege of Konigsburg. The Russian army got cut off and lost due to Attrition anyway (note to self, not a good idea, no matter how tempting it looks).

I used Salonika to SR a BR and two FR corps to the Balkans, and Yudenitch put out the only NE army our game saw in play. For a while it seemed like the east as a whole was going well for me. I got Romainia out a turn before Bulgaria. And I made a decent stab at taking Sofia (which I was thinking would put him out of supply; it wouldn’t, thanks to Constantinople, but it would certainly keep him from rebuilding BU units. That scheme collapsed, and things were starting to look grim in the Balkans at the end of the day. However, I had SRed the AN corps into the Near East and destroyed Beersheeba, opening the route into Syria, while the Caucasian Army slowly moved around causing problems in the north side of the NE map. I really needed to remember to transfer an extra RU corps into there to allow me to expand the perimeter.

The Western Front heated up towards the end of the day. Jason finally played Falkenhayn, we found our mistake on the MOs, and I remembered to start building better trenches (neither of us remembered to do much with them), and pushed him back out of France.

At the end of the day, it was the end of turn 9, the VPs were at 7, I was entering about my fourth turn of Total War, and Jason had yet to get to it. (Distracted by the high value of the war status cards, like I was the first time I played PuG.) I think I would have gone on to win, but there was a long road to go yet.

It’s a good game, and I certainly want to give it another go. Whether it’s as good as PuG I can’t say yet.