Saturday, July 06, 2013

Mid-year update on new year's resolutions

At the beginning of the year I wanted to read 20 books in the coming year, get back to playing my guitar, and be more intentional with how I spend my free time to help meet the above goals.  So how am I doing?

1.  I am happy to say that I have finished 11 books so far this year, putting me basically right on pace to complete 20 by the end of the year.
2.  I have been playing my guitar more, and have got most of my skill back.  As of this writing it has been over a week since I played, but I had an emergency operation seven days ago, so I'm totally giving myself an out with that.
3.  Not so great on the use of free time.  Some days I am pretty good with getting done what should get done, and other days I play Football Manager on my computer most of the day and get hardly anything else done.  That game is so addicting it is ridiculous.

Hot Spot

The next random game from my collection is another MicroGame from Metagaming, Hot Spot.  This game is a sci-fi wargame with the unique feature that the game map represents molten lava, and the only way to safely move your soldiers, tanks, and hovercraft around is to keep them on "crustals" (for the defender) or "attack platforms" (for the attacker).  These can safely move around the map, kind of.  At the beginning of the game the defender gets 18 hexes worth of crustals (they come in different sizes, and you can pick what you want), along with some infantry and hovercraft to put on them, along with the central crustal on the map that never moves.  The attackers get infantry, tanks, and engineers, and five attack platforms to put them on.

The crustals have restricted movement rules, and they and the attack platforms are not invincible.  In fact, if crustals and/or attack platforms move next to each other they have a 1-in-6 chance of taking damage.  If a crustal or attack platform takes too much damage, it breaks up and sinks into the lava, along with all units on it.  However, to attack the enemy you have to move next to whatever they are on, so there is lot of banging going on.  Another interesting feature is the fact that all crustals are under the defender's control until an attacking engineer unit takes control.  This means that even if the attackers destroy all defending units on a crustal, the crustal could totally be moving all over the place and they have no control over it until their engineer takes it over, which is a 1-in-3 chance per engineer.

The combat system is mostly standard, with the usual Combat Results Table used in games during the '70s and '80s, however it is impossible for the attacker to ever take damage, even when outnumbered.  So, you should always attack, no matter what, because you always have a minor chance of doing damage to the other side's infantry.

This game is more enjoyable than some of the Metagaming games I have played over the years, but it really has to rely on its one unique rules feature for its enjoyment.  Once players have played the game a few times, they will likely run out of interest in this little title.