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!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tanks! First Look/Unboxing

  For those unaware, a few months ago Gale Force Nine in association with the makers of Flames of War (Battlefront Miniatures) released after a few delays a new small scale vehicle combat game, Tanks!

 Unlike your typical historical wargame this one is a quick playing and inexpensive skirmish game using some elements we have seen in games like X Wing Miniatures and Wings of War/Glory.  (The latter being basically the game that birthed this modern era of relatively easy to learn and quick playing miniatures vehicle combat games.  X Wing took the concept and made it THE game in the genre if not THE best selling minis game outside of the UK or possibly blind buy miniatures game formats.)

  One notable thing Tanks! does over the two previously mentioned games is to be unpainted and unassembled.  Since from what I can tell these 15mm scale (or 1/100th) models are repackaged sprues from the Flames of War WW2 game.  (So the German tank I have assembled for this first look is 2 1/2" or so long, and about 1 3/4" wide.)  This explains how the game is relatively cheap with individual tanks going for 10 dollars US MSRP, and the Starter box for 25.

  Let's start seeing what we get, eh?
As always, click images for bigger.
 The starter set.  I was torn on getting it, but three tanks plus rules and dice and templates and the like for 25 dollars was too good to pass up.  Acrylic counter sets run around 13 bucks and as I said, currently the tanks go for 10 each.

 See kids, there are things coming out of New Zealand that aren't 9 hour versions of children's novels that already were done as 70 odd minute cartoons!

 The sprues included.  The Panther for the Germans, and a pair of Shermans for the US forces.  They are molded in color meaning casuals can just cut them out and it won't just look complete arse.  Does a 5 dollar savings make it worth having them still on sprue and not as assembled prepaints?  Could a smaller company even afford to get them assembled and painted for only 5 more?  Probably not in both cases but 10 bucks a tank is a fine enough value.  

(Or at least it is these days with Games Workshop pricing 1 inch tall plastic figures for 20-30 dollars.)

 The cards included, discounting the ones I am using with my two UK tank purchases to make three 50 point forces for training games.  They are glossy and apparently can be marked with dry erase markers for damage.  (Those dots next to the black number.)

 Like all good modern vehicle skirmish games (seems like a good term for this genre.  Or at least a start!) there is a deck of critical damage cards, and equipment/crew cards.  A neato thing for the latter is the point values are on one size to keep the exact loadout of a tank secret until the card has a reason to come into effect.  Nifty!

 Three double sided cardstock sheets include some terrain to play with and the cardboard versions of the tokens you need to play the game.  A nice inclusion are five different icons to keep track of which tanks are what when you have multiples.  They are planning to sell some more terrain templates with special rules that are currently freely available to print from their website and are also part of an organized play program.  They will run around 10 dollars or so.  Possibly a little less.

 You get some colored dice and a nice large format manual that is 23 pages including back cover.  (21 numbered ones including table of contents page.)

 A quick set of instructions to build the models included although it sadly doesn't explain how to assemble the other Panther variant.  (The website does however.)

 The rules seem relatively well laid out and have plenty of examples, although once or twice I had to reread a bit or two when the wording seemed odd.  It looks to cover most things although until I can playtest it I won't know for sure.

 The British tanks I bought still sealed on their clamshells.  A Sherman Firefly and a Comet.  The Firefly can be built two ways like the Starter box tanks, but the Comet apparently cannot.  I am not too sure the info being covered up by the model is a good way to do things but I cannot really complain about seeing what I get.  

(What actually comes in these clamshells will show up in a later post hopefully!)

 The plastic seems relatively durable although it isn't to the strength of Games Workshop plastic (well the bits that aren't overdetailed and spindly these days..).  Outside of one tiny gun breaking when I tried to clean the gate off of the barrel the parts were fine and seem crisp and well detailed with reasonable durability.  The above picture shows the chassis assembled and the parts that are dedicated to the Panther next to it.  Below is the extra parts and the bits needed to make the Jagdpanther tank.

 It wasn't too hard to assemble but my slow and methodical style took me around 45 minutes.  By and large the gate marks are hidden from view but a few spots they are not.  I would highly recommend using plastic model cement over superglue.  I generally used a Testors Cement Pen for the build and everything went together super easy and with a damn good fit.  While there are a few places you really need to be cautious when filing off gate marks, it being a WW2 tank means if you get a little too enthusiastic with your hobby knife as I did it is just wear and tear.

 The chassis with the Panther bits showing what it looks like inside.  If you aren't planning to glue or proper sprayprime and paint the tank you will probably need to use a thickening agent on the turret peg so it isn't loose and spinning around ridiculously.

 The Jagdpanther parts sitting next to the Panther.  The extra bits I suppose are for other variants or cosmetic modifications?  The manual just says to ignore them.

 But because I am a cheapass I decided to just magnetize this sumbitch!  One Neodymium magnet superglued to the bottom, another one just using polarity stuck to it, and some cheap and much weaker strip magnets cut out and stuck/superglued to the top.  This makes the tops just swap out easily without any real effort.  I needed to stick two of each together to make them work.  A thicker Neo magnet and magnetic strip might have made things easier but I have what I have.  And at least the magnetic strips are cheap as chips anyhow.  The Neo magnets aren't so much and are a bit tougher to come by but it works.

And I decided to do a little test.  I took the bare plastic Jadgpanther top and used my shade/wash of choice Citadel Washes Devlan Mud (Circa 5 or so years ago.  GW changes formulas and names constantly.  Its basically one form of the DIP TRICK more or less!) to cover it and just see how it looks.  No primer or spraypaint just wash and plastic.  I would say it comes out VERY nice for just a quick and dirty solution.  Meaning I will do the rest of this model like this outside of the treads and tread wheels which I will try to paint and drybrush/wash properly.

Join me next time (hopefully!) for that and the opening up of the British tanks.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Party Like its 1987

No real important topic today.  I just felt like showing off what I currently own from the Transformers: Titans Return line of toys.  170 dollars of transforming robots I don't need but are all homages/remakes of toys from 1986-88 just about. 

Also you know, I bought them here and there as opposed to all at once.  Which ones can you name without looking it up?  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

SNES Collection Update

A mixture of a needed use of a sick day thanks to that iron blood testing thing they do when you give blood on a finger has lead me to have a little time to burn to do an update on my SNES collection such as it currently stands.  (The needle in the arm to remove the blood?  Eh.  The tiny quick prick to your middle finger?  OWWWWWW)

Why do these updates?  Well keeps my blog kind of active, and its good to have a photographic record of what I own both for going out and looking for new stuff and if anything bad would happen family members or insurance purposes.  A nice organized inventory helps out when it is needed the most.  Also it helps me reorganize things and clear up space as I re alphabetize and then store my useless but fun junk.  Until much like as kid me did to his closet making everything a disorganized mess again.
Click for big if you need to see them bigger.
 Oddly enough the reason I only have two of these loose SNES cart photos is because back before retro gaming and collecting got big I was snobby and mostly only wanted boxed games, or at least with manuals.  And as can sadly be seen most people never really took good care of their games.  I have seen things that would turn one's hair white.  CD/DVD based games just thrown loose on a table.  Drinks on top of electronic devices.  Games and controllers thrown about.  Horrible things.

 Zelda there came with my SNES in 1995 and can show you how I kept my stuff good.  It is clean and fancy.  Even UN Squadron I bought in early 1996 looks better than most of these carts because I take decent care of my stuff.  (I just need to dust a lot more often.)  And I have indeed actually done some light cleaning of most of these loose games.  That is how poorly people take care of their property.

 The first of my three images of my boxed games.  This sort of explains why I was also a boxed snob.  Most of my existing games in the early days of Ebay were such so why would I buy loose?  And it wasn't like there were a ton of retail stores carrying old games at that point.  SNES was in the midst of being phased out of video rental stores and the normal game shops of the time.  But I got a few choice morsels.  And thanks to a few budget reissues a couple more titles.

 Pilotwings is on top because technically it is the actual box cut up and placed into a plastic case of some kind.  It is a reasonable price.  Now if only we could get the true successor to it (Disney's STUNT ISLAND for DOS) reissued or remade.  It is everything Pilotwings wanted to be and MORE.

 The final suite of boxed games.  All three Super Star Wars games boxed.  And a sought after rarity.  And a game mostly known as a donor cartridge for reproduction and overclocking projects.

 From what I understand the Chrono Trigger cluebook is also sought after.  And while I may have gotten rid of the box my SNES came in (you can only transport so much on an airplane after all!) I still have all the paperwork in there.  Even if it isn't really needed.  The little thing at the bottom is a fancy save state/convertor cartridge.  Plug it into your SNES, plug the game in and you can save state in most spots in most SNES games.  And the design allows for Japanese Super Famicom games to be played without having to do any sort of chopping to your machine!

My controllers.  The Super Advantage because I enjoy such things as RAPID FIRE and joystick controls for my videogames, a stock pad because sometimes shoulder buttons have their use (and you know, it kinda came with the unit), and the SNES Mouse and Mouse Pad for Mario Paint, Arkanoid, Super Game Boy, and a handful of other games should I get them in the future.

Where is the SGB then?  Well I showed it in an earlier collection update covering the Game Boy but.. here it is again:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Just Some Collection Update Photos

I could get into a long long LOOOOONG rant about how silly people are being over videogames, movies, comics, toys, and other assorted bits of pop culture goofiness but it is too depressing to me right now.   I had a heck of a rough Summer so I just don't feel like it right now.  But I will share some roughly paraphrased words of wisdom from Lord Karnage himself of Classic Game Room:

Games are supposed to be FUN.  Lighten up!

Words to live by.

Anyhow, let us start with my Dragon Quest collection as it is at this moment:

Click images for bigger if you want.
 All of my main numbered DQ games!  I actually had the NES releases of 1 and 2 but traded the first in with other games to a game store towards some Genesis games (Kind of a mistake) and the second with a classmate for... Double Dragon 3.  WTF?  I think I got some money as well because the game wasn't as good and I had completed DW(now Q) 2 already and the classmate really wanted to play more of 2.  As we can see from the Game Boy Color remakes it all turned out ok!  The little Slime is from one of the Stacking Slime sets they put out in Japan 10 or so years back. The other slimes and the Golem that came with it you could do silly stacking things with it and said Slimes is in a zip baggie someplace.  (Yes kids there are even better things to put in your zip baggies besides marijuana.)

 The spinoff games mostly bought cheap as chips and some fun promotional goodies.  Sadly the Slime sticker from the 9 sheet is now on a 2007 iMac that I eventually ebayed to someone who is probably using it for dubious activities.  (Which is why I have all the data of the freshly OSX reinstalled and formatted hard disk and the machine info itself saved to a flash drive.  Never hurts to be safe with computer hardware ya know!)

A close up of the other Warrior World newsletter.  This one is sad because it mentions the superb 5th game of the series coming to the US SNES which never happened.  Again we eventually got them in a superior format in the US.  Sometime in 2017 we are reported to even get the 8th game above on the 3DS platform giving us all of the current single player Dragon Quest games on portable Nintendo platforms.

 Back in the days, Nintendo Power and other gaming magazines were the only real way to get help to complete so many games, especially those that never got clue books released.  So I have had this stapled together DW(Q)3 walkthrough waiting on the game itself until I got the Game Boy Color remake... On September 10th 2001.  Unbeknownst to me at the time I was starting on DQ 3 at the same time the tragedy of the next day was happening.  I still need to get the Nintendo Power articles and pullouts for the 1st and 2nd game sooner or later.  But I am cheap.

 The Playstation 1 cluebook of the 7th game I got last year or so cheap enough to buy, and the cluebooks for 8 and 9.  

And that is Dragon Quest as it currently is!


Well, for some silly reason the Nintendo faithful consider me a hater of Nintendo because I question many of their actions both past and present.  It does not mean I haven't bought and enjoyed a ton of their games.  Or generally the games other companies made for it.  Even some of the infamously bad titles on the system (most of the time licensed titles from such Childhood giftday/allowance savings ruiners as LJN, Acclaim, Bandai, and Ocean) are at least INTERESTING, especially now when you can get some of these terrible no good games for like 5 bucks or less loose.  An emulator and access to the Internet can sometimes help make these games somewhat playable!

 Most of my totally loose cartridges.  Some light gun fun, some of my collection themes (helicopters, Godzilla, computer games gone console, JAWS) and some actually good games in the mix.  I like to keep price stickers on as a reminder how much I paid for these silly things.  And in cases like Friday the 13th seeing the rental store sticker and what looks like all the effort some kid probably put into making the entire cartridge case black with permanent marker gives it charm!

 The rest of the loose cartridges, ones in a case with their maps and manuals, the Famicom version of Ultima 4 for my Ultima collection just like 3 (aka Exodus) there, the manual to the third TMNT game in spite of me having no idea what I did with the actual game, and titles for various collection themes like Batman and 2d Castlevanias.

 My four boxed games from back then and my controller of choice, the godly NES ADVANTAGE that helped and still helps me complete many a game.  And sometimes without abusing Turbo and Slow Motion features!  My one remaining NES pad I never really liked is there for the odd 2 player time, the Arkanoid Vaus controller so I can play Arkanoid right, and the original launch era Zapper for CRT shooty bang bang.

 Cluebooks and tip guides!  Always helpful in the pre Gamefaqs day!  The Official Nintendo Player's Guide was practically a must own for any NES player in the early days.  The Ultima 3 clue book is lovely and well suited for most versions of the game (and like a tenth of the price of the original Origin one that is both rare and has all it's maps done in black and white ASCII text.  Seriously.), and the Gamepro book is mostly NES titles and sometimes good in house art.  There is an excellent Phantasy Star 1 cast painting in there.  It isn't actually covered in the book but.. I appreciate it!  

 The New Games section is more or less previews of recent titles but the rest of it is full of cheats, passwords, and various bits of help to get you through the games covered.  For those who are counting the vast majority of the book is NES so that is why it is here.  

But there was a reason a one dollar (REALLY) 40 page black and white comic book was shown.  The last few pages are a guide and some maps to Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode!  Which is quite helpful, and even moreso back then.  You get a 33 page comic of Manga's most famous assassin killing some dude with an M16 from like a mile away, and a walkthrough of the game I presume this comic was released as kind of a tie in for.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Little VOTOMS Gift!

See back in the dark ages of VHS tapes one of my boxed sets of the early 80s mecha anime ARMORED TROOPER VOTOMS had a promotional mini game printed on postcards to promote the upcoming tabletop RPG that was being made (and no it wasn't HEAVY GEAR although I could understand the confusion..).

I haven't ever heard mention of it and having found it and wanting to scan it for a friend, I present it as scanned by my old enough for the color ink cartridges to be only carried in value packs at actual stores printer: (Click image for full size.)

I hope this is of fun and service to folks!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

[Retrocomputing: Why Bother?] Shadowcaster, DOSBox, and Making Old Games Play Better

  Back in the day games were young and controls weren't set in stone.  Many games just didn't have well thought out or even remotely ergonomic control schemes.  And now we have better control devices with more buttons while having gotten used to modern controls and control schemes.

(All praise Thresh for WASD mouse look.  PRAISE HIM!)

Which leads us to our game, Shadowcaster:

Shadowcaster is an early 90s hybrid of FPS, Adventure Game, and RPG.  Developed by Raven Software with some Id Software engine and coding help it was published by Origin Systems.  (My release is the CD version from the EA Classics line of budget rereleases.)

In this game you play a character who can transform into different creature forms, each of which with their own inventory, abilities, and experience levels.  Play is done with a mixture of mouse and keyboard controls which cannot be remapped in any way.  That is played in real time.

The automap you will be swapping into a lot if you are me.

If you want to follow along, you can see the controls here:  http://replacementdocs.com/download.php?view.802

Now some controls aren't quite explained in the manual but there are a number of keyboard keys as well.  But take a look!  See how the right hand side of your keyboard plus your mouse which for most of us is also right hand controlled.

It.. isn't exactly comfortable to control games like this.  Back in the day many games used the Numeric Keypad or the Arrow Keys for almost everything.  And while some titles could be mostly played with the mouse, in real time games this is nearly unplayable and makes these games much less fun to control, especially when you have spent nearly 20 years used to our modern default PC game control schemes.  And even turn based titles end up being slower, clunkier, and much less fun.

However as a modern gamer playing PC games in DOSBox or other titles in emulators for other platforms or even titles that run natively on our modern machines we have many many options to make our games play much better. 

It is time to show you fine folks what I did.

First we need to realize my keyboard, which has the bonus of being plugged into my PC with two USB cables because it is huge makes moving it for the simplest solution of moving the keyboard to the left so I can rest my left hand on the numeric keypad simply isn't happening, not even taking into account the limited desk space I have.  It is nearly 20 inches wide and 7 inches deep.  It takes up a heck of a lot of space!  So the laziest solution just isn't going to work.

Thankfully my mouse comes with built in software to remap keys.  As the game uses left and right mouse buttons already I leave them alone, thanking Cthulhu that Logitech's software lets me still use some buttons as default for a mouse.  I set the middle button to switching between normal for the age computer mode that shows a bit more of the game interface and info and the better looking large size window.  I am always needing to see the automap so it gets the button normally used for on the fly DPI (Dots Per Inch. Basically how sensitive the mouse is when moved.).  The two thumb buttons are used for the primary and secondary ability actions that would otherwise involve moving and clicking icons on the screen while trying to fight or move.  Now it is done with a single button press!  AWESOME.

I could also do things like messing with DOSbox' keymapper but it is clunky and not exactly useful in the long run.  I am lazy after all!

 I think about maybe using JoyToKey to turn a joystick into a movement controller, or even taking a modern dual stick control pad and making it both mouse and keyboard, which is something this program can do.  But.. its a bit slow and annoying to set up for that much.

But an idea I had that was mentioned by some folks in IRC that made me realize it was one that had merit involved me buying a USB numeric keypad designed to be an add on to laptop computers or some of our more modern mini keyboards.

10 bucks at Best Buy got me one.    But if I rest it where my hand naturally wants to be I will practically have my arms stretched out to an absurd amount.  So long term that needs to be done lest I want to angle and move the number pad around or rest it on my leg.

 Sadly my 2005 iMac keyboard is only a tiny bit smaller.  Not remotely enough to move or unplug the main keyboard just to play some old games.

 But.. I have a Bluetooth keyboard for my Ipad Air.  And look at it!  It is cute and wee!  But I need to get a Bluetooth dongle because my machine doesn't have Bluetooth.

 Look at it!  PERFECT!    So now I need a 14 bucks online Bluetooth USB dongle and I will have the best and easiest solution to comfortable game playing for 100s if not 1000s of old games over many platforms!

 In emulation on a good modern PC various programs and all our modern devices can make games that were iffy back in the day to play and nearly unplayable today nearly sublime!

Monday, June 6, 2016

[Retro Gaming] Old School Portable Games Update

It has been a while without me posting anything, hasn't it?

  And well I did need to update some collection pictures of portable games, especially given an utterly idiotic discussion on Something Awful involving old portables.

  You see, I dared defend the N Gage as a system that wasn't complete garbage without a single worthwhile game.  The thread utterly missed my point about how there are great and interesting games on nearly every platform and how popular opinion isn't always if ever correct.

  The point was missed, mostly with people considering me to be considering the N Gage a superior machine than the Game Boy Advance while ignoring that I also mentioned the Neo Geo Pocket Color as a device I played as well as the N Gage "When Nintendo's offerings were full of kiddie license IP crap".

  I INTENDED this to mean there were a great many dry spots in the Game Boy Color/Advance release schedules where it seemed like the vast majority of titles were licensed games normally based on things with children's appeal.

This is a sad fact about videogames in general.  Stuff based on existing IPs just.. SELL BETTER.  Some companies like Ocean in the UK made a lot of money doing this, effectively fleecing children and their parents of their money for games of questionable quality at best.  Sometimes some game systems and game distributions at certain stores are seemingly nothing but.

  Does it mean all games on a platform are such?  No.  Heck, there are even some that aren't just fun for fans of that other media but fun games in general!

  This out of the way, here are some of my portables and the games that play on them!

(Commentary to follow.)


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I like to play nerd games! I am a nerd! Join our nerd ways at https://www.facebook.com/groups/112040385527428/