Gaming Conventions

Gaming Conventions

Another new feature for Grognard.com, the Gaming Convention calendar will make it a snap to keep up with all the latest gaming conventions in your area. But we need your gaming convention information, so please contribute.



Gaming Clubs/Organizations

Gaming Clubs and Organizations

Please check out our new (and growing) database of gaming clubs and organizations world-wide. Please let us know of your gaming club, or any other clubs that you know about so we can make this a truly useful resource.



Spotlight Articles

Outstanding articles that are not necessarily linked to one particular game, but may have broad appeal to gamers.

The Last Dice

Spotlight Article Graphic

"...the new series documenting part of the career of a man who was so good he is almost a myth." Prufrock is up to something…! Perhaps a directorial debut? Who is the mysterious "Ear Bevan"?

Poster: Doug Holt
Post Date: 5/25/2020


The Wargamer's Guide to Heraldry, Uniforms & Flags in Tabletop Wargaming

Spotlight Article Graphic

"...pageantry is one of the reasons I do historical miniature wargaming." Bill Gray brings us a fascinating look at the how and why of the way armies looked before things became nationalized and regularized in the past couple of centuries. Which is why Bill particularly likes games where "…you need to stop thinking like a 21st Century humanoid, at least understand why generals long ago thought the way they did, and then do likewise."

Poster: Doug Holt
Post Date: 5/22/2020


Empire of the Sun: Full Campaign PBEM Tournament

Spotlight Article Graphic

Now registering for the "Empire of the Sun: Full Campaign PBEM Tournament". Check the site for details of tournament rules and requirements. Registration will be limited to 16 participants or no later than August 31, 2020.

Poster: Mark D.
Post Date: 5/20/2020


Book buying spree

Spotlight Article Graphic

"It was only right, meet and good to go there and splurge in votive thanks as soon as I was able." Prufrock brings us his first post-full-lockdown thoughts, centered on the pleasure that his local secondhand bookshop has reopened. And he didn't leave empty-handed: "Fortunately, there were three cracking coffee-table hardcovers with Prufrock written all over them…"!

Poster: Doug Holt
Post Date: 5/18/2020


More Spotlight articles...


Grognard News

Grognard Game Plan

New Grognard Game Plan application is a free tool provided to registered Grognard.com site visitors to help organize convention play and other gaming sessions.

Gaming Conventions

New Gaming Conventions calendar. You can see all upcoming gaming conventions worldwide.

If you are sponsoring a board gaming convention of some type, or know of one that is not listed on Grognard.com, then please contact us and let us know!

Gaming Clubs/Organziations

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If you belong to a gaming club, or know of one, please drop us a line and let us know so we can get it listed on Grognard.com!

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Grognard Originals

In addition to our links to great content all around the internet, expect to see more Grognard.com "originals" in the future.

Falling Sky - Perfect Opening Moves - Roman

Is there such a thing as a "Perfect Opening Move" in any of GMT's COIN Series games? Mark D. shares his idea of a "perfect" opening turn for the Romans in Falling Sky. Enjoy.

Battle for Russia - Game Turn Restrictions Summary

I'm finally getting to play this game, and am looking forward to it. There are a decent amount of "special rules" and restrictions that apply to either the Axis or Soviet player, depending on which turn it is. Rather than flipping back and forth in the rule book, I made a quick & dirty cheat sheet for myself which I have been using, and thought I'd share it. If anyone sees anything that's incorrect, please let me know via email at mark at grognard dot com. (updated 4/11/2020 to include rules for ignoring Rivers - Axis only on Turn 1; both sides on Turn 2)

French "Low Density" Blues in Ici c'est la France!

Brief strategy article written by Mark D. that explains the concept of "Troop Density" and examines how that level can have a big impact on French and FLN play in the early stages of the game. Ici c'est la France! was designed by Kim Kanger and published by Legion Wargames in 2009. Outstanding game!

Alone Against the Soviets

Brief review of VentoNuovo's title "Stalingrad: Inferno on the Volga" shared by Mark D. for Grognard.com. Discusses the game mechanics that provide the game with the Stalingrad "feel"...

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A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z 0-9

Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar


Perfect Opening Moves


Falling Sky - Board Game Strategy
by Mark D.  *  25-Apr-2020

Overview


Buy Falling Sky from
Noble Knight Games
Buy Falling Sky from Noble Knight Games

A few years back, I wrote an article for the "Inside GMT" blog that was credited as being the first Strategy Article published in Inside GMT. It was titled Perfect Openings: First Turn VC Strategy in 'Fire in the Lake', and proposed a "perfect" set of opening moves for the Viet Cong on Game Turn 1 of Fire in the Lake, GMT's COIN Series game that covers the Vietnam War. I wrote: "The player who gets the first move of the game should capitalize on this advantage. It can set the tone for the early portion of the game and, in Fire in the Lake, it's the only move that can be planned with any certainty. After that very first move, the game can go off in a thousand different directions... but the first move can be carefully planned."

I have spent a decent amount of time during the COVID-19 lockdown playing a more recent title from the COIN Series, called Falling Sky: The Gallic Revolt Against Caesar. It is a 4-player game that uses the same core mechanics as any of the COIN Series games, but is layered with special rules that make the COIN framework fit the period of the conflict. Sometimes this can seem more like "tormenting" the framework to fit the period but, all in all, if you enjoy the COIN Series, you'll probably enjoy Falling Sky too. I'm a big fan of the period, so I looked forward to trying the game.

The thought of writing a comprehensive review of the whole game just made my head hurt. Like all the COIN Series games I've played, there's just too much going on in Falling Sky to attempt to condense it down to a 2,000 word article. So I found myself drawn again to thinking about "perfect" opening moves. Manageable, quantifiable, easy to evaluate and judge. Of course, just using the word "perfect" in an article such as this is just *asking* for someone to shoot it down. But here goes...

In this article, I'll discuss opening moves for the Roman player, assuming they are graced with the very first move in the Reconquest of Gaul: 53 BC scenario. The scenario takes place after Caesar had beaten all comers in Gaul and Germania and had thought to settle down to enjoy the fruits of his victories. But the Gauls were not ones to accept defeat for any length of time. New Gallic leaders appeared and rallied their people to rise up against the Roman oppressor one more time. (Note: It is assumed that the reader is familiar with the game or at least with the COIN framework in general, so basic rules will not be discussed in any detail)


The Trouble With Belgae


Falling Sky - Reconquest of Gaul: 53 BC Start
Reconquest of Gaul: 53 BC - Starting Moves

The first graphic, above, shows the opening setup for the scenario. The Romans are the red pieces, Aedui are blue, Arverni are green, and the Belgic Tribes (aka Belgae) are yellow. The Romans begin in kind of a precarious situation, scattered as they are throughout the Belgae regions. A "perfect" turn would accomplish several things:

  • Create a Roman-controlled supply line from Provincia to all Romans in the field.
  • Knock Gallic forces off-balance, reducing the liklihood of an attack.
  • Ensure that in the event of a battle, Romans will prevail.
  • Position the Romans to knock the Belgic Tribes out of the war for good.

White Pawn - Denotes areas of Commands

Toward that end, the Roman player has placed white pawns in the following Regions: Provincia, where Caesar and 4 Legions currently reside, and Morini, where a Roman Legion and associated Auxilia have over-extended themselves and now face danger of being isolated. The white pawns indicate the main Command that will be executed. In this case MARCH. Caesar will march north to take matters in hand, and the Legion and Auxilia in Morini will move to a more defensible position.

Black Pawn - Denotes areas of Special Abilities

Next, the Roman player places black pawns which indicate Regions where he will perform the SCOUT Special Ability. Scouting reduces capabilities of the target Gallic units such as their ability to Ambush or Rampage, which may place them at a serious disadvantage. The Romans intend to Scout in 4 Regions: Arverni, Treveri, Nervii and Atrebates>

It's important that the Command and Special Abilities are executed in the proper order for maximum effectiveness. Players have a great deal of latitude in how they sequence their Commands and Special Abilities and this must be understood in order to play effectively.


Roman Scouting and Marching


Falling Sky - Initial Scouting
Falling Sky - Initial Scouting

First, to neutralize any threat from the Arverni in the west, 3 Auxilia move from Provincia to Arverni and SCOUT, revealing all 6 Arverni Warbands and placing Scouted markers on them. This, of course, reveals the Auxilia that Scouted them as well. Rules generally allow the execution of Commands and Special Abilities in any order. In this case, the Romans can Scout in one area while Caesar is in an adjacent Region, even though Caesar may (and will) subsequently move out of that Region.


Falling Sky - Caesar on the March
Falling Sky - Caesar on the March

Caesar marches north to the Sequani Region, leaving behind a Legion and an Auxilia to man the fort in Provincia. Roman Control is immediately established in Sequani.


Falling Sky - Caesar's March Continues
Falling Sky - Caesar's March Continues

Caesar leaves behind a Legion and an Auxilia in the Sequani Region to retain Control and to fend off any aggression by the normally friendly Aedui, and continues marching north to the Treveri Region, immediately taking Control there too.


Falling Sky - Caesar Arrives in the Belgae heartland
Falling Sky - Caesar Arrives in the Belgae heartland

Caesar leaves behind another Legion and Auxilia in the Treveri Region, and continues marching north to the Belgae heartland, the Nervii Region. Because none of the Factions have more pieces in the Region than all the others combined, the Region changes to No Control.


Falling Sky - Endangered Romans on the move
Falling Sky - Endangered Romans on the move

Lest they be stranded deep in Belgae country (Morini Region), the Roman Legion and Auxilia move south to join their comrades in the Atrebates Region. The Belgic Tribes maintain control of the Region.

With Caesar now in a central location, the Region occupied by him and all other adjacent Regions may execute a SCOUT Special Ability.


Falling Sky - Scouting in Treveri
Falling Sky - Scouting in Treveri

The first Region to get Scouted is the Treveri Region. For each Roman Auxilia that is revealed, the Roman player may reveal 2 Belgic Warbands and he does so.


Falling Sky - Scouting in Nervii
Falling Sky - Scouting in Nervii

The next Region to be Scounted is the Treveri Region. Two Roman Auxilia are sufficient to reveal/Scout all 4 Belgae Warbands there.


Falling Sky - Scouting in Atrebates
Falling Sky - Scouting in Atrebates

The last Region to be Scounted is the Atrebates Region. The 2 Roman Auxilia there are more than enough to reveal/Scout all 3 Belgae Warbands. Finally, the Roman player spends the 4 Resource points that is owed for the two March Commands he executed, which will leave him with 16.

The stage is now set for the Romans to dominate the Belgic Tribes and beat them back into submission. Let's see why this series of Commands and Special Abilities make up the "Perfect" Roman opening.




Why It's a Perfect Opening


Falling Sky - Perfect Opening
Falling Sky - Perfect Opening

I know what you're saying: "Nobody got killed. How can it be a perfect Roman kickoff if nobody got killed?" It is true that no Gallic units have been eliminated yet. But the stage is set for a Roman victory in 53 BC. Let's review what has been accomplished.

  • As it stands now, the Romans cannot be AMBUSHED anywhere on the map. All enemy Warbands otherwise in position to Ambush/Battle are "revealed" and Scouted to boot.
  • Belgic Tribes leader Ambiorix cannot utilize either Rampage or Ambush. This neutralizes every advantage the Belgae normally have in combat.
  • A clear Roman Line of Supply has been opened between Provincia and every Roman force on the map except for the 3 units in the Atrebates Region.
  • Battle security - The Romans in the Atrebates Region can defeat the Belgae there, if attacked.
  • Battle security - The Romans in the Treveri Region will crush the Belgae there, if attacked.
  • Battle security - Caesar and his Legions in the Nervii Region will destroy Ambiorix and his Belgic Warbands there if attacked.
  • The next Faction to play will be restricted to either a Limited Command (only one Command in one Region) or to playing the card's Event.
  • If the Belgae are next up, they'll almost have to use their Limited Command on a MARCH to get their leader Ambiorix safely out of the kill zone, losing Control of the Nervii Region in the process, and allowing the Romans to tighten the noose on the Belgic Tribes.
  • Arverni Leader Vercingetorix and his 6 Warbands in Arverni can kill 2 Roman Auxilia there and chase the 3rd back into Provincia. But that doesn't buy them any more than they started the scenario with, and therefore would be a wasted turn.
  • Another Arverni option would be for Vercingetorix to lead all 6 of his Warbands (he'll need them all) to take control of the Provincia Region and eliminate a Roman Legion in the process. But he would have to give up control of the Arverni home Region, so it's an even trade. And it will only take a single March for Caesar and his other Legions to be back in Provincia looking for revenge....

The only wildcard for the Romans, relative to the Belgae, is literally a "wild" card, i.e. the Event that may be available to the Belgae. That is the only thing that could make my entire "Perfect Opening Move" strategy unworkable. It's the Event cards that make the game so unpredictable and varied. While some find that disconcerting (and you know who you are), I find that it works perfectly in any game covering this period.



Closing Thoughts


But what if the Romans don't go first? But what if availability of a devastating event forces them to take action to prevent the play of that event by another faction? What if the Arverni go on a "Devastation" rampage and shut down the Roman ability to manuever quickly? What if the Aedui choose not to remain the "faithful ally" and launch a fifth column attack of their own?

What if? What if? What if? That's the bane of all players of GMT's COIN series. And one of the main reasons that people keep buying COIN games as fast as GMT can print them. And so there are many "what ifs" that accompany the perfect opening moves that I've laid out here, but I think it's a solid tactical kick-off maneuver for the Romans nonetheless.

I'm going to try to see if I can come up with Perfect Opening Moves for each Faction represented in the game, if that's at all possible. I think the Aedui are going to be difficult...


This "Perfect Opening" will be put to the test again in the very next game where I'm the Romans and have the first move. And in the meantime, I hope you'll come up with some perfect moves of your own. Or counter moves to mine.

Feel free to email me (see below) or share an article of your own.