Conflict of Heroes - A lot of potential for group play - Who knew?
Well, we finally pulled off our highly anticipated (by me at least) Conflict of Heroes event yesterday. A total of nine commanders gathered at The Wandering Dragon in Plainfield, IL for some group play. Make sure to check the end of the post for 25+ pictures and video!
The battle is a set of four single map firefights that provide for some cross-map impacts if certain conditions are met. For instance, if a commander wrestles possession of a control point on a hill from his opponent, he might have the option to fire some aritillery against opponents on another map helping out his fellow commander.
[caption id="attachment_564" align="aligncenter" width="595"] Set up for the Battle of Cherkasskoye[/caption]
It is an inspired approach, but we did run into some ambiguities or at least uncertainties around the implementation of these opportunities. However, the potential is there for some innovative firefights.
We hade a nice mix of players. For the first round, we had a full compliement of eight players rounding out all four firefights. Three of the eight were entirely new to Conflict of Heroes or maybe had only played the PC version of Awakening the Bear. The other five had played at least a few times, some had played many.
As the ninth player there, I helped the new players with learning gameplay and floated around answering questions and helping with interpreting the ground rules for the interlinked firefights.
[caption id="attachment_575" align="aligncenter" width="595"] The battle rages on[/caption]
The Battle Of Cherkasskoye - Results
For those keeping score, we did complete all four firefights.
Here's how the scores broke out:
Western Flank: Axis 6, Soviets 6
Central Battle : Axis 6, Soviets 3
East/Central Bank: Axis 8, Soviets 1
Eastern Flank: Axis 12, Soviets 3
FINAL SCORE: Axis 32, Soviets 13
So a pretty nice victory by the Axis. The Soviets had a particularly hard time on the Eastern Flank where they were wiped out in a slammin' tank battle. Also, the fell short on the East-Central flank where they were also entirely eliminated. Western flank was a nice infantry battle between new players. While on the Central Flank the Soviets were pretty well dug in but the Axis employed some nice flank maneuvering to position itself for the win.
By all accounts, folks seemed to have a good time. Mid-game The Wandering Dragon raffled off a copy of the Marsh Board which went to Scott one of our new players. Thanks to The Wandering Dragon!
[caption id="attachment_574" align="aligncenter" width="357"] Scott won the Marsh map in a drawing. Thanks Wandering Dragon![/caption]
Suggestions for Set-up
Running an event firefight does take preparation. In fact, as someone who enjoys setting up events nearly as much as playing the games I can tell you it takes a lot of work to put together a strong event. What is great about The Battle of Cherkasskoye is that all four firefights can be convered by the contents of Storms of Steel. Technically, no other supplies are needed.
However, there are a few things one needs to do to make it a sinlge box solution. As well, I added some extra touches to make things easier (I hope). Efforts included:
Separating the cards in to four distinct piles. The individual firefights will probably need to redraw from their discards, but each deck started with 10-12 cards each that I hand separated.
Each station had two AP/CAP tracking boards, two print outs of their individual firefight, and a single copy of the rules
I used my Awakening the Bear hit markers to supplement the ones from Storms of Steel. So two firefights pulled from one set, while the other two firefights pulled from a second set of hit markers. See the red and blue cups in the photos
Pre-sort all materials before arriving at the venue to expedite set up
Have extra firefights on hand in case you have an overflow of participants
Provide extra dice. I had two sets of two by color at each station
Attendee list (I often try to do pre-registration so I can get an idea of how many players to expect and plan for)
Camera and tripod for great pics - see below
iPad - There is a nifty iPad app for tracking APs, CAPs, etc.
Mounting putty to hold the map overlays to the main map
Pencils and paper for planning artillery strikes and hidden units
A "Wanna Play?" sign for on site recruiting of additional players
A Friendly Local Game Store with lots of room and supportive owners. (Thanks Wandering Dragon!)
Late Night Play
After the first battle many of us took a break and enough stayed around that we had enough for addtional play. We stuck with two of the firefights from The Battle of Cherkasskoye since we had the components already separated out.
This time I got to play! My long-time CoH buddy Kris and I squared off in the Eastern Flank. It is a tank slugfest with instant action and a lot of firepower. In the end, Kris' Germans were just too strong and they ended up winning 12-10. We both felt that firefight was among the most fun we've had playing Conflict of Heroes. There was just a really strong combination of strategic gamesmanship along with vibrant action. Just a lot of fun to be part of even on the losing side.
[caption id="attachment_589" align="aligncenter" width="595"] Looks like the Soviets will take the objective. But can they hold it?[/caption]
In the other firefight, the Central Flank, the Soviets make quick work of the Germans winning 9-2. I was tied up in my battle so I didn't get too much detail on that one though.
Ideas for Conflict of Heroes Group Play
Heading into the event, I wasn't really sure how well this was going to turn out. There wasn't anything that really led me to believe that Conflict of Heroes would lend itself well to group play. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out. Not just the enjoyment of playing with others and exposing new players to the system, but also the idea that separate firefights could somehow be played together in a meaningful way. The only thing I can compare it to based on my own gaming experience is playing Memoir '44 Overlord which works very well in group settings.
So the potential is there. What could be done if the larger community wanted to push CoH in public events? Here are some ideas I had:
Tighten up the Group Play Rules - I think the Battle of Cerkasskoye showed the potential of inter-firefight play, but there aren't really group play rules. Our group ran into several situations where we had to make snap judgements on how to interpret some of the cross map rules. Solidifying the way it is supposed to work would be a good step in prepping CoH for more reliable group play
More Large Scale Firefights - Right now, I think Cerkasskoye is it as far as 8-player firefights go. Academy-Games and/or the CoH community are going to have to come up with more of these large scale battles if ongoing group play is going to be viable. I've heard rumors of an official firefight building kit on the horizon and that is a good step. Hopefully, it will be adaptable for large scale play. On additional note: One brilliant thing about Cherkasskoye was that a few of the firefights were specifically set up with beginners in mind. This was invaluable as I had a good number of new players on hand. Wonderfully covered!
Tournament Play Rules - Thinking of what to run next with CoH, I'm naturally thinking about tourney play. I think there is one at GenCon this year, but I haven't heard of what those rules are going to be. I would mind an official set of rules. Having run a few Memoir '44 tourneys I can tell you they are a lot of work (and fun!) and any assistance would be appreciated
FLGS-Publisher-Event Runner Coordination - I truly enjoy running events like this. From the preparation to the instructions for new players to the interaction with store owners and interested onlookers; it is my time to be the ringleader for awhile. Having said that, this can be one of those few win-win-win situations. I'm taking about having fun while moving product. Not to think too big, but I'd like to make sure the FLGS and Academy-Games come out ahead by hosting these events. Ewe and The Wandering Dragon were very supportive overall. There is probably another level of opportunity there though
For me, the Conflict of Heroes series stands on its own in the more common 2 and 4- player formats and no adjustaments are necessary. However, this envet showed me there is potential in the system and perhaps in the playing community for event-style play. The above would be som good steps to making that an ongoing reality.
Thanks to all who participated! I would love to hear how larger scale events have gone for others