Wargame Dork

A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Connecticon 2014 Roundup Report.

Sadly, this year wasn't exactly the best.  Wasn't the worst by any means but.. Well let's go through things.  Many bits were like previous years so feel free to go back and look at them first if you want.

Unlike most years this one I decided to just drive in every day.  The mileage is about 40 and around a 50 minute total commute.  (Not counting time to like get a coffee or something like that.)

See the hotel rates are absurd and I have trouble sleeping in a strange bed anyhow.  Sleepwise it was SO MUCH BETTER for me this year.  Plus no time needed to pack and I could easily stop somewhere on the way or on the way back if I needed anything.  Which I did.

Preregistration was yet again a saving grace as the line on Saturday to get into the convention was absurd and deep into the parking garage (a place where finding parking was 25 minutes of irritation Friday afternoon, and dumb luck quick on Saturday).  Plus at center registration was absurd this year.

(Click images for larger and forgive formatting.  Some pictures are from my camera, others the Ipad.  Blogger can be quite vexing sometimes!)
The huge program book.  A bit over 130 pages of full color.  

 Our badge front.  Same ok art from the book.  Shiny metal for the side text.

Below we can see the back, a thing the staff and volunteers were CONSTANTLY telling people to flip over because as badges on lanyards are wont to do they keeped flipping over.

We see some issues starting here.  Stuff in the Hilton hotel a good 20 minutes walk away from the convention center?  The Dealer's Room closing at 7pm on a Saturday?  Uh oh!


Take a look at the map here.  Stop 1 is the convention center.  Stop 8 is where the Hilton is.  Hartford is a city where even the Dunkin Donuts and CVS stores nearby close at 6pm on a Saturday.  Even on a day where there was a fireworks/festival going on.

We can see next year's silly hotel rates plus the preregistration costs.  (You could register Sunday afternoon for like a couple hours for 45.  But I didn't do that this year.)  Even taking gas into account it is cheaper for me to drive in.  Unless you did some stuff in the convention center parking costs were the same either way anyhow.  (19 a day this year.  Though being in the center hotel at least gives you some access to exclusive parking spots.  Some.  I rarely have ever been able to park at them over the years.)

I was on a budget this year and looking for good stuff and good deals.  In the Dealer's Room I didn't exactly have my mind blown.  Things like the D&D 5th edition Starter Box for MSRP?  Umm who cares?  Get it cheaper locally or online.  A lot of sellers were basically selling the same stuff I could get for cheaper or the same locally.

But one booth did have a huge half off used table.  I could have dropped major coin there.
I only spent around 60 because I am becoming a responsible adult which sucks.

 I've been getting into the Savage Worlds generic RPG system lately.  Its good and unlike most, CHEAP.  Core rulebook in full color is 10.  Toolbox setting books also in color for 20 softcover, 25 hardback.  I have been needing the Super Powers Companion and half off is GOOD TIMES.

 I am a huge fan of Chaos in Warhammer 40,000.  FFG's 40K RPG books are idiotically stupidly priced.  But half off?  Even if it's not a supplement book for my preferred god (Khorne), it was too good a deal to pass up.  Sadly they didn't have the Deathwatch core book in the pile, only the Imperial Guard one.  Which I don't care about.


 On the upside, this book does have stats for some of the newer Chaos units, plus some Harlequin and Dark Eldar ones.  

Not that I like, would voluntarily run a 40K RPG using the 40K RPG ruleset.  I'd probably use Savage Worlds up there.  Or Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying.

 Two Hordes books I wanted.  And Primal Mk2 saves me from having to get the Starter Box for Hordes and then want to play the Circle faction in spite of their lovely models.  (And then find someone to buy the other faction.)  While I kind of wanted the smaller rulesbook instead half off is good stuff even if a bit of the spine is seriously hurt.  (The rest of the books look nearly NEW.)

 The Minions book is basically the Hordes equivalent of Mercenaries for Warmachine.  While you can normally ignore your faction army book as the rules and stats are on the cards the models come with, for Minions and Mercs it kind of matters so you know who will run with what faction.

(Like the Warmachine Tactics Kickstarter that I foolishly bought the limited version of the Journeyman Merc Warcaster.  Only to get him and see he won't run with my Khador.  Yeah.  And I paid 5 dollars extra for this?  The wide release versions are 15 instead of 20 and generally have BETTER SCULPTS.  Oh no.  We miss out on a silly coin.)

 I try to always buy a robot toy or model kit every year.  This year for a competitive price I got the Double X from Gundam X.  The original 1/144 X kit was one of the earliest Gundam kits (Gunpla) I ever assembled and I really loved the design.  This one is like the upgraded version or something.

It should be a nice but not insanely complex kit to assemble.  Inspired by Gundam Build Fighters (and totally not the main character's hot mom) I might paint and modify it to make it my own.  Plus I haven't seen more than a couple VHS fansubs of X back in the mid 90s so I don't really know or care about being accurate to the anime with it.  (And it doesn't look like Bandai will ever bring this one out over here anyway.  They keep teasing us with Turn A  but no mention of X at all that I have heard of.

Except anime has gotten super creepy nowadays so I don't exactly pay a lot of attention anyhow.

Another thing I was looking for that I found at the con.  I care nothing for an idiotic movie.  But I adore sharks.  And a cutesy shark flying inside of a tornado?  I AM NOT MADE OF STONE.

And that was my purchases at the con outside of food and the like.  I spent about a hundred bucks.  Which is very good for me.  Thankfully as I said.. there really wasn't all that much I just had to have.

No "Third Party" Transformers.  No Kabaya model kits.  Just not a lot of must have stuff.

A note here is that in between the Dealer's Room and the Artist's Alley was the Guest Area where you could pay for autographs and stuff from various levels of semi celebrity.  This area was 90% empty the entire convention with most of the guests maybe in this empty area for an hour or two throughout the convention.

The Artist Alley folks basically had a very bad year because of this.  A lot of foot traffic never even knew where the area was, especially given the empty middle section!

This makes me glad I didn't bring anything for the voice actress of Korra or the actors of Pinky and the Brain to sign.  They probably wouldn't have been there long enough to even get anything signed!

(And their panels were nearly impossible to get into and usually conflicted with other events anyhow!)

And speaking of events I had preregistered for some RPGs!

The problem is the registration system was off and on for people before the convention, and half the time even if you were able to get the system to cooperate you might not even be on the sign up list if the computer person was around.

Not to mention half the time tables listed at the signup table or in the convention book were incorrect.  People just sort of ran their games anywhere they felt like!  I even kind of irritated the Marvel RPG GM as he had been running his games on one table all weekend and I basically got him to move because the game I was in was scheduled for this table.  THE GUIDE IS THERE FOR A REASON FOLKS.  What happens if you can't find your game or are running late?  You don't have time to wander through 30 odd tables trying to find yours.

Some people just didn't care I guess.  The same things happened with the CCGs too.

The con really needs to start printing out what event is on what table with a little sign to be placed on the table.  It would save so much grief.  A good third of any area's game table seemed to just be used for whatever instead of their intended purpose.

(Between this and the Guest Area everything sent to the Hilton probably could have been fit into the center.)

First on the docket was yet another Doctor Who RPG!  In this case a pair of adventures using the characters from the Eccleston/Tennant era.  I played Martha Jones.  Because she is hot.  They were fun sessions.  I still want to buy a copy of the RPG myself but.. who the hell could I find to play it with?

Nobody.  The answer is nobody.

The next RPG run by a poor con volunteer who was already losing her poor voice Friday and mostly entirely lost it Saturday.  It was a fan made game based on the Something Awful Goon Unapproved My Little Pony Friendship is Magic.  I have a lot of issues with the Brony fan community but I quite enjoy the show.  She had gotten a copy of the rules printed up from Lulu, and even had a GM screen plus her fantastically drawn NPCs.

I played a Griffon.  I kind of want to get a copy of this book because it is very pretty for a free fan work.  The odds of me ever running it or even mentioning to run it are super low but.. its lovely!

My character.  I decided his name was Cageybee, from Stalliongrad.  I gave him a Russian accent and GOT THINGS DONE.  Throw desks!  Yell at crazy horsie people!  Fight for the Proletariat!  I got people laughing quite a bit so he worked out pretty good.  It is kind of funny the dumbest character statwise was the smartest in play.  He was just blunt and not exactly as crazy as his fearless but silly pony cohorts.

I am also really impressed with the game system.  Its fast, elegant, yet simple.  I liked it!

I do regret not getting a picture of the GM's amazing facepaint or her character art though.

(On the upside I gave her some horsie buttons the next day and she seemed to like them.  And I gave a lot of people horsie face rings from some cupcakes.)

Just a distance picture of the local fireworks and festival going on Saturday.  It made walking about a bit difficult.  And well.. things kind of happened to folks walking to get a meal or go to the Hilton:

This is the major reason Hartford sucks.  It is not a good place and everything closes super early.  And the convention wants people to walk a good 20 minutes to go do some events?  Or wait even longer for a shuttle that ends at a certain point?

What if you have one event and then another event right after that is at the other one?  You simply can't do it!  By all reports, the Hilton events were really sparsely attended because of this.

If people could not find the Artist's Alley as it was just past an area that was mostly empty, what makes the con staff think they will go a couple blocks over for them?

Anyhow.. on Saturday I mostly hung out with friends, waited for the infamous Acid Police to show up (Acid did not, meaning this SA poster has now failed to hang out at three consecutive conventions.  Meaning I have no guilt about going to Mass. and not playing stupid Japanese music arcade games.), and walked with friends to find anything to eat outside of the center.  I think we passed a hooker by the CVS that closed at 6pm though.  I was quickly getting a death grip on my Ipad Air case that was akin to something precious to me that is attached to me naturally as opposed to my electronics addiction.

There was a MLP CCG meetup Saturday.  As is the con's wont, it wasn't remotely where it was supposed to be, hardly anyone was there, and the advertised promo cards weren't about.  Maybe people already grabbed them all or maybe there never were any.  But I did trade some of my foils for equal rarity other foils.  I still haven't played the game.  Or know how it plays.  Or am likely to play at all.

The con was finished up with Shadowrun! The fantasy cyberpunk RPG I have wanted to play for years.  The game I keep pestering anyone who says they might run it to do so.  (And they don't.  Which saves me money.  I won't buy an RPG any more unless I am actively playing it and KNOW we will be playing it for some time.)
Surprisingly it was a second edition game (they are on 5th ed now), and the GM didn't have his pregens so we just used archetypes and I was able to get mine modified to be a Troll.  I played a Street Samurai named Beef.  (But the ladies call him "The Big Kielbasa".  He enjoys guns, ballroom dancing, and 30-50s cinema. )

Beef was fun to play and I continued to get laughs out of people like the MLP RPG.  

While sadly one of our players had to leave early as her sister was already needing to be driven home thanks to being blazing drunk by 10PM I did win one of the two Free RPG Day Castles & Crusades adventure booklets.  (And her leaving gave me room to avoid the ahh.. scent of the guy on my right.  My second experience ever with "Con Funk"  WASH YO ASS PEOPLE!)

Then I drove home.

I thought about coming back Sunday, but I would mostly just be hanging out for an hour or two before doing one more RPG event (Top Secret, an old Spy RPG) and then coming home.  As I was already getting post con depression and had things to do at home anyhow and didn't feel like wasting more gas & money I chose to stay home.

The convention wasn't bad but.. it has so much room for improvement yet as I stated above, they keep not improving, giving us their C game and not their A.

Even seeing a Shadowcat in Excalibur era costume I so regret not getting a photo of Saturday wasn't enough to brighten my spirits.

Its not helping I am not getting any younger and the convention really seems to be mostly populated by late teens and early twenties types.
Will I go again next year?  

I just don't know right now.  If more events are moved to the Hilton I can safely say no.

And this would suck.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

[Let's Play] Party Like its 1987! Let's Experience the Atari Computer! Part Something: Some Atari Books and Other Retro Goodness. (Also Retro Computing Why Bother Post!)

Every now and then I get new Atari 8 bit goodies and sometimes other goodies.  Let's show them, and have STORYTIME!
(As always click for bigger.  You know the drill!)
For around 20 bucks shipped I got these lovely retro games for PCs.  Mostly Windows 9x era or a DOS title in Thunderscape's case.  Heavy Gear goes into my Hobby Games Gone Electronic niche, and Quake Mission Pack 1 goes into my Id Games niche.  While I need a TON of HGGE, for Id I am getting closer and closer to having them all.  4 more Mission Packs for Quake 1-3, Quake 4, Quake Wars, Rage, Heretic, and Hexen 2 and I should be pretty much complete unless I want every Raven Software game made with Id engines.  (Though the Wolfenstein games fit this.  Wouldn't mind Blake Stone either.  Luckily I already have Shadowcaster which is also an Origin joint.)

Suprisingly enough Heavy Gear generally seems to RUN in Windows 7!!  I have Compatibility Mode on Windows 95 and it goes.  The in case manual is little more than key commands and installation instructions though.  And because I have a Glide Wrapper to handle 3DFX Voodoo 3D, I can run it in that mode.   Sadly the out of game menus are all graphically glitchy and nigh unviewable in some cases even when I switch to 16 bit color or try 256 color modes.  (I have Administrator to Run settings on but for Windows 7 you basically HAVE TO.  And some programs run best in the C: drive directory as a folder whilst others would be happiest in Program Files or Program Files (X86).  If your programs run oddly try putting it in one of these other locations!)

Also being a Win 95 era game the glory of WASD controls isn't there so you have to go through a VERY tedious remapping system in game.  Also there doesn't seem to be any other resolution modes but 640 by 480.  Oh well.  It can go chill on the Win 98 SE rig.  It doesn't care that I have a mouse wheel or two extra mouse buttons either which for this game would be VERY useful.  Might as well go back to the older rig for this one!

But it works so I am a happy *Camper* and it will do.  I would prefer having the full manual but it was super cheap and I already have the cluebook.

The Quake Mission Pack on the other hand works fine.  It installed nicely in Dosbox for Dos Quaking, and with a little bit of Shortcut modifiying:
(As seen at:  http://www.dosgamers.com/ .  I tend to make things like cheatsheets or quickie pages for things using Snipping Tool.  It is very useful.  Screencaptures made easy!  Reorganized maps for RPGs!  Things that won't let you copy a picture!  Easy peasy!)

I'm in the start of the second third of the game right now and overall I like this mission pack over the original Quake solo campaign.  It is a bit more challenging without being ridiculous, and adds in new monsters like this Gremlin dude who will nick your stuff or do things to dudes you already killed like this elite Knight.  Also a pair of energy weapons which are pretty fun and an alternate Grenade Launcher that shoots sticky bombs that explode after like 20 seconds or so unless an enemy gets close then BOOM.  Lots of fun level designs in this pack.  Sadly this trimester took away all my stuff as Quake is wont to do so I have to regain it all.

And even using a new item which summons a random monster to fight for me doesn't help against the big guys.  The summoned dog died quickly then I joined the poor murderpooch.

I haven't installed Thunderscape yet but its a party RPG SSI tried to get going as a franchise after they lost the D&D license.  It.. did not exactly light the world on fire.  The game looks cool though.  I could have gotten it off of GOG.com for about a third of the six whole US Dollars I paid for it, but I am a big boy who can manage to use Dosbox or an actual DOS rig.  And I like having real manuals and disks because I am stupid.
But now on to STORYTIME!
Meet the two most helpful members of the DINORINES!  They are Blades and Heatwave.  They each cost 4 dollars which is less than a proper Iced Latte.  I couldn't say no to them joining my collection of Dinorines!  

I got this faded but reasonably priced Compute!'s First Book of Atari Graphics for like MSRP shipped.  It is an old book but I do wish to learn how to program sometime and having another nicely priced book for my Atari 8 bit collection is always welcome.  (When I can afford it.)

The book is about 250 pages long and has helpful charts like this one showing the various graphics modes available to the Atari 8 bit line and what they do and how much RAM it eats.

Some practice and educational programs to type in to learn as you read which is a great way to make words in a book stick into your brain meats.  I generally read and forget a lot unless things reinforce it or refresh my memory.  If I don't, it falls out of my memories, much like poor Heatwave's head in this picture.

It also has an in depth section on the GTIA chip which is like the main graphics chip most of the Atari 8 bit line had outside of the earliest releases of the 400/800 machines.  Read some of the text in these pages if you would like and learn how the Atari owns the Apple IIs and even gives the mighty Commodore 64 a run for it's money!  (The original chip, the CTIA has a few less graphics modes and only 128 color choices.)

Heatwave is excited that we can see if my Atari 800 is a later revision with the GTIA chip.  So much so that his dino nose is hiding a GOTO statement.

Some of the many wonderful Compute! books you could buy back in the early 80s.  On this list I would like the First Book of Robots and Computers, Mapping the Atari, and Machine Language for Beginners.

Blades and Heatwave are happy to show my hardcopy Atari books and reference guides!  They are so happy they go to talk to the rest of the Dinorines about it so we can all learn Atari programming together and maybe make a list of books to pick up and to keep our eyes opened for!

(As opposed to just getting PDFs from Atarimania.  Again I am stupid and like owning physical copies.)

Sadly the bigger Dinorines just don't care.  Slug and Scorn are more interested in spending money on marijuana, hard liquor, and hookers.

(They are also awaiting their other teammates who aren't out in stores yet.  They are however sober enough to have read spoilers for the movie they barely feature in and know that would be an even worse waste of money than buying old computer games and books.  Or toy robots who turn into dinosaurs.

As to the other books I kind of am on the hunt for?

Atari 130XE Machine Language for the Absolute Beginner

Atari for the Beginning Beginner

Compute!'s Atari Collection - Volume 1 and Volume 2

Compute!'s Second Book of Atari Graphics

Compute!'s First Book of Atari Games

How to Program Your Atari in 6502 Machine Language

Mapping the Atari - Revised Edition

The Second Book of Machine Language

Writing Strategy Games on Your Atari

Now these aren't all the books I would like plus of course I would love to have original manuals for all my games and devices but time, money, space, and availability are all major considerations.

But.. take the time with your old hardware and LEARN IT.  Don't just play games or continually tinker with the hardware because you have some odd idealized idea of how it should operate.  

Get to know your machine.  Don't hoard stuff for it.  Expand and ENJOY IT as much as possible.  Plus books are awesome and everyone should read more real books.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Mechwarrior Online: Clans are Here. Content Isn't.

Yep.  People dumb enough to spend real money for virtual robots to do the same thing you can do for free except now silly people that really like playing incestuous test tube babies who have a warrior based caste eugenics system can play their robots.

(The Clans in Battletech are largely considered to be where the game went off the rails for most of the old school players.  It went from a semi Mad Max feeling universe into something with higher tech and bigger stakes.  Plus the Clans broke gameplay balance for years until a somewhat refined points system got revised multiple times.  Except their background is still ridiculous and stupid.  They are something that would fit better into Warhammer 40,000 than the "hard" sci fi post apocalypse setting Battletech was before they showed up.)

So... let's get down and show more screenshots showing new patch notes and a couple pictures of new robots eh?

(I should probably have waited till tomorrow to get a third patch in but I try to get at least three posts to the blog each month.  So here we go.)

 (As always click for bigger.)
 Yet more hero mechs continue to be released.  Free to Play means trying to grab easy money from idiots.  Hero mechs basically are taxes on the stupid.

 More weapon tweaks.  STILL.  Autocannons got their maximum range reduced.  Artillery and Air Strike modules got a rebalance while SRMs got their damage spread squished a little which might make them more useful.  The uberpowerful Ultra Autocannon 5 had it's max range dropped into merely absurd levels.   Both Small Laser types get a bit of a tiny range buff, and the Medium Pulse Laser gets a range increase and heat decrease.  Maybe they realized hardly anyone was using them?

 And some more bug fixes.

Two weeks later the Clans are introduced.  Sort of.  This is still Mechwarrior Online, the Mech game that content forgot after all.

 New modules are introduced.  I am not sure how many of these will get used but it does give the hard core players more things to grind for XP.  I kind of like the Speed Retention modules.  It might be a great thing to keep Light and Medium class mechs from dying the second they get legged.  Instead it will be within half a minute so.. win?  

The Radar Deprivation seems nice but otherwise the rest aren't exciting or useful really.

Turrets get weakened again making them even more pointless sadly.  I am not sure I like the Machinegun or UAC changes at all.

A metric buttload of bug fixes. most of which related to the Clan stuff.  Way to fix it in Beta guys!

 Well it seems as if that late patch and increased player logins to play Clan mechs caused the game to bugger up a bit.  I logged in after this announcement so I dunno if I got the goodies.  

Let me log in and see if they gave me the hookup.  Then I will come back and show some in game shots of dirty Clan Mechs.

They did.  This is nice. 

 Uh oh.  Here come the Clans.  And sadly, not the Wu Tang.  The only good Clan.

 Dirty filthy test tube baby space furries.  I SHALL OFFER THEIR SKULLS FOR KHORNE THE BLOOD GOD.


(I should be listening to Bolt Thrower while killing dirty so far seemingly balanced Clan scum instead of cartoon show music.  Because I am apparently 40 going on 6 and 60 simultaneously.)

Streak SRM 2 launchers are like friendship and totally magic against dirty space furries.

And a screenshot inside the Mad Cat, aka Timber Wolf if you are a Furry Eugenic Space Nazi.

So overall I have no real quarrel with the Clan mecha so far.  I would MUCH rather see meaningful game content though.  As it is I honestly want to go back to Mechwarriors 2-4 (Mercenaries) because there is actually fun and interesting things to do, not just endless team deathmatches.


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