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!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Atari 8 Bit Computer Collection Update/Gripe Session Part 3: Books, Books, I Love Books

  Well some extra purchases kept this post from being done exactly when I wanted but it makes things easier on me to keep my collection more updated as my idiot ass does buy more stuff and doing blog bits makes me fired up to GET MORE THINGS I DON'T NEED BUT WANT ANYHOW.

  So let us show off my books for the Atari 8 bits and some collection updates.  As usual click images for larger if you want.


 My "Core" manuals plus some handy print outs and other cheat sheet like things from Atarimania or Atari Age.   The Internet is great for when you buy an old thing without a manual you can almost be assured somebody has scanned that sumbitch!  And the Atari 8 bit community is practically obsessed with scanning and archiving every little thing no matter how miniscule.  Bless their autistic little hearts!

 I think I got this little programming quick guide online with some other books.  Its kind of useful and handy.  I have a few more of such guides I have printed out but it is nice to have a legit copy from time to time.  Like most of the time, money and luck permitting!

 Our DOS manuals teach you how to.. use DOS.  Atari DOS not MS.  Being an 8 bit computer of the 80s computer code is all but expected of the user to some degree.

 Atari had really great full color guides to get you moving.  

 As mentioned I was looking for that Gateway to Apshai manual.  I found it somehow mixed in with all these books and that Atari magazine.

 The four Compute! Magazine Atari books I have full of reprinted articles from Compute! before it slowly morphed into a MSDOS PC magazine like most surviving computer mags did back in the day.

 A mixture of tutorials and programs to type in.  These pages give you an idea what to expect.

 And what the books look like within.  I love the spiral binding type books.  So easy to open up and refer to.

 Some of my other Atari books.  The FORTH book is mostly known because the cover is hilarious.  The two Micro Adventure books are kid oriented stories where you have to put in a program on your computer at various points to like solve a thing in the story and you learn a little about programming.  There are a bunch of these but I want to see what they are like and what the programs actually DO before dropping 20 bucks or so to get a bunch more.  The Consumer's Guide is a general purpose book about the Atari and what was available at that time, Atari Experience is a book of programs, and the Beginning Beginner is a nice super start book to get into both using the computer and learning some BASIC.

 More books of self learning!

 And the 101 book is mostly another book of programs.  That really won't even TELL YOU WHAT YOU ARE TYPING IN.  For reasons I guess?

 The Graphics book is pretty nice and friendly.  Makes self teaching easy and fun!  Lots of good stuff does this.  For you hex and chit wargamers go look at the original Squad Leader versus the Advanced Squad Leader Starter Kit series.  Squad Leader was great at teaching you and considered you at least somewhat of a novice but not a complete moron.  The ASLSKs are practically GIBBERISH like most ASL books are.

Then I had another goal now that I had photographed all my stuff.  ORGANIZE IT.  My collection had basically exploded past the small plastic storage tub.  And my multiple disk holders.  I dropped 18 bucks for a festive multi tub from Walmart and now we can see it all looks almost organized!

 Bottom shelf is mostly boxed Atari carts, lots of my books, and my SSI games with some other wargames in tow.

 Most of my EA styled album games here, a few more books, and the rest of my disk games.

 All of my other cartridge titles on the top shelf.  Sadly lots of carts make it a right bastard to know what is on them but in another post hopefully to be out before 2018 will show how I won't really need or care what game is what...

 The original tub now gets the Compute! books, and all my big box games.  So SSI and Avalon Hill now have a place of honor.  Until I need another bin for them.

 Heading up top is where my four disk caddies go, plus most of my controllers so things are a bit tidier and I have less issue wondering where the hell certain controllers are.  (Some of my Nintendo peripherals seem to be in the Warp of Warhammer 40K fame right now.)

 The cases need to have the funk of 40,000 years removed off them.  I have since done some of this.  

 Some of the disks I have gotten are just ill gained copies and will become blank disks as I am a man of honor.  Others may be legit titles I need to poke around and see what I can see.

 Now my legit stuff is more organized in the various cases, and my loose C64 disks are hanging in the back waiting for me to actually get a C64C or 128D.  I'll get one again someday yes?

 And my new acquisitions!  The little black box will get most of a blogpost as I inform yall what it does and how it can save things like my HALF A PHANTASIE 1 GAME.  (Research that you are getting a complete game before buying kids!  On the upside I have the manual and it was cheap enough.  Again, that magic black box will cure what ails me.)

And more general retro computing pickups I got cheap like the above Perfect General 2.  LUNK APPROVED.   I do love me some 80s EA game cluebooks.  Though I expect to never get the Deathlord cluebook in spite of wanting it badly.

  I am now way more organized in my Atari computing!  But there is always new stuff to buy and that mysterious black box will bring magic and POWER to me that needs a post all it's own.  Plus the 8 bit's brotha from anotha motha, the 5200.

  Should time permit we will see that all next time!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Atari 8 Bit Computer Collection Update/Gripe Session Part 2: Solid State Society

  Last time was my disks, in all their fragile magnetic glory.  This time its the cartridges!  See a lot of game software was cartridge based back then.  Most home computers had slots for them which meant no loading or additional hardware needed.  Just buy the program and plug it in!

  Except it was expensive to make cartridges compared to a floppy disk or cassette tape.  You needed your own molds for the cart (at least in those days before the machine publishers put in lock out chips and required a licensing fee and THEN they would print X number of copies they got a cut of the profits on.  Or even no profits.  They already charged you to make the things and have the "privilege" to do so, probably with lots of other rules and restrictions.), and then lots of expensive board and chip fabrication only to make games that were limited in size in comparison to the magnetic media based ones.  Thus a cartridge game generally had to sell for 2-4 times what a disk or tape program would. Although on some of these early systems the hideously low amount of RAM most machines came stock with (like 4-16 kilobytes for some of the late 70s/early 80s machines) meant a cartridge game could actually be bigger and more complex than the magnetic media titles that required both RAM to run said device but also hold the program.  On a cartridge title most machines can access the program ROM as a form of virtual RAM since the CPUs of the day could work with about 64 kilobytes of RAM total so your average 16kbyte ROM cartridge wasn't taking up even half of what the CPU could actually address.

  Thus like many things there were pluses and minuses to each format.  As a modern collector cartridges have the benefit of being vastly more durable than their magnetic brethren and easier to use as worrying about the magnetic drive itself is also taken out of the equation!  Cleaning some cartridge contacts is a LOT easier than cleaning a drive read/write head plus keeping all the connection and power cables in good shape and hoping all those moving parts and belts that connect to many of the moving parts all keep working.

  But here in Atari 8 Bit land we find that most cartridge games are of the arcade style variety with limited releases of other genres.  Arcade styled games had mass appeal whereas a wireframe flight simulator running at maybe 10 FPS tops or a complicated turn based wargame had a lot smaller audience.  Anyhow let us get on with the show, yes?

At this point do I even need to say one can click for larger images?
 We begin with my boxed Warner era Atari games.  At the top are the larger sized boxes of the XL era including one of the only full 4 level versions of Donkey Kong.  Ms Pac Man is a smaller box but the same format.  Star Raiders is of course one of the 1979 era launch titles.  The platform's KILLER APP.  (As opposed to Apple II's which was Visicalc, a spreadsheet.)

 Four of the XE/GS Tramiel era releases in blue, with what was probably a new old stock Moon Patrol.  Its a sticker so probably a cheap and easy way of clearing out all the excess inventory the Tramiels got when they bought Atari's home division.  Some they got, others ended up in the hands of companies to sell on Ebay decades later, others ended up in New Mexico landfills.  

 And the rest of the Atari carts.  As we see, most of them are original era titles outside of Jungle Hunt in the XL era format.  Unlike the XE/GS carts though these all had the fancy shield for the contacts and metal backs.  And thanks to Atarimania any manuals I don't have I can print out.  But in the back we see what the original era manuals looked like with Missile Command, and the various XL ones with Caverns of Mars, Defender, and Qix.

 Three companies' worth of boxed carts with Spinnaker's being on one of those fancy Trapper Keeper vinyl styled things, and Roklan's using the manual as the cover thanks to the open hole on the box.  Printing costs are quite a large percentage of a product's cost and this generic packaging was a great way to save money.  Albeit it makes things look a little ghetto.

 The last of my boxed carts by Thorn Emi Video.  They used custom VHS style plastic clamshell cases with the covers being a paper insert which is another and probably better way to save a few bucks.  Everything else is loose here and it lets you see some of the variety of cartridge types these companies made. 

 And we finish up with the best Atari 2600 publisher's Atari 8 Bit titles and an Epyx game.

Now if you vaguely remember when I started blogging about this machine back in 2011 a couple things seem missing.

Yes I have currently misplaced my River Raid and Gateway to Apshai manuals.  I know they are in my living room somewhere but I have too much nonsense out and about right now so they are hiding somewhere. I am sure I will find them eventually and the fact I have so much stuff out means I... HAVE A BIT TOO MUCH STUFF MAYBE?  and should ease up yeah?  Yeah.  Or at least get more and better storage/display/organization options before spending more money on this stuff!

Ok this was too good a deal (3 bux shipping!) for me to pass up, and RetroWorld Expo is next week but I will take my collecting from a 5-6 down to a 2-3 if you will.  Play more of what I have.

Next time I will finish this update out with all those lovely books I have involving this nifty little computer line history seems to try to forget.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Atari 8 Bit Computer Collection Update/Gripe Session Part 1: My Disks of Dork

(Yes it has been a while.  Mainly because I am busy and nobody really cares what I post anyhow.  So this blog is more or less just a clearinghouse for my pictures and stuff because Facebook changes image addresses and other nonsense constantly while compressing said images.   Also as usual click for larger.)




Well you see these were most of my known retro computing pickups over the last few months I wish to share on a forum someplace.  (Yes they exist still.)  However... Tanktics gave me pause.  I felt like I might have already owned that one.  So I decided to do a FULL inventory of all my Atari 8 bit computer games.  This was good because I haven't done this since 2011 or so.  Bad because I have discovered a few missing manuals and the fact I did indeed already own that game.

When you have so much STUFF you forget you bought it?  Time to step it back.  When stuff gets misplaced?  Time to organize and buy storage and organization thingies.

This is Part 1 where I cover all my disk based games that aren't fan projects or piles of pirated games on disks when I got my 800 machine off Craigslist.  They don't count and I will probably just erase them all anyhow.

 The first bit of my Electronic Arts game collection.  Mail Order Monsters I still haven't opened.  Touchdown Football is one of the worst US Football videogames I have ever played, Hard Hat Mack basically requires a CRT type TV because it uses nasty composite color modes.

 The other half.  I kind of am aiming for a full EA Atari 8 bit game collection.  Worms?  is the newest pickup for that.  Seeing above yeah they won't all be in the nifty LP Album type box because that football game sucks ass for even the dollar I paid for it!

 My current SSI collection.  Well there are two more I discovered as I was organizing which again, KIND OF THE POINT OF THESE 2-3 BLOG POSTS.  To both see what I have, and to have some soul searching and self loathing at having it all.  Broadsides doesn't seem to work but it was a buck.  And even not working it is better than that EA football game.  Like EA I wouldn't mind a full SSI collection.  Heck, I wouldn't mind a full SSI library over their entire lifetime!  (Albeit not multiple versions of the same game.)

 Again showing my dork ass roots my Avalon Hill games are up next.  Another company I wouldn't mind having a full Atari 800 collection of.  Even if most of their stuff is kind of dodgy and almost all of it is in BASIC.

 I had a Telengard disk before but a cheap deal got me a boxed copy too.  Which is cool even if the PC DOS is the superior edition of a game that is kind of stupid.  Its FUN but more in laughing at how random the game is and how you can die before even entering a command when your character goes down into the dungeon.  Or find some bad ass gear or enough money to instantly level up.  But once you do manage to luck past the comedy of horrors you have kind of seen everything once you hit the 8th character level or so.  The numbers just go up.

 This is most of my Datasoft stuff.  See they were a very well regarded publisher on the Ataris but then seemed to disappear.  They had wargames, and arcade ports and sims and licensed titles that were actually GOOD.  

 2 Activision disk titles including the legendary Ghostbusters (which is better on the C64 and is BEST on the Sega Master System), another SSI game, the legendary Flight Simulator 2, and one of the worst Atari 8 bit computer games, SUPERMAN THE STRATEGY GAME.  Its just a pile of nonsense!

 Two tape games that given tape loads aren't worth trying to load, the legendary OGRE, my copy of Autoduel that sadly has a corrupted play disk thanks to a power issue as I tried saving, a Broderbund of all people wargame, and yet another SSI game.  Sadly the follow up is going for like 80 on Ebay even though nobody is buying it.  I don't buy hardly any games new or old past 30 bucks shipped.

 The first half of my Epyx collection.  Sadly Pitstop 2 was DOA even though it was sealed (see now why I am kinda scared to open my Mail Order Monsters?), and my Tape Drive decided to eat Temple of Apshai.  Thankfully I found a loose disk for a dollar and now its all good even though my tape copy is apparently a rare one.  And Curse of Ra is an expansion pack for Temple.  So swell.

 And the disks that are loose!  Apshai Trilogy is a serious remake of the original game and is even better on the Atari ST.  World Karate Championship is the US Disk version of that Karate game above.   Jumpman is a hella fun single screen platformer, and Eidolon is like one of the first FPS games.  And its also kinda Steampunk.

 My Microprose stuff.  A company eventually eaten by Spectrum Holobyte, Microprose made the best strategy games and the best combat simulation titles.  Deep enough to feel real, accessible enough to be ENJOYABLE.  They hit that sweet spot.

 Loose copies of the controversial Raid Over Moscow, and its cousin Beach Head.  Fight Night is a mediocre boxing game but still better than Rocky on the Sega Master System.  A budget rerelease of Beyond Castle Wolfenstein, and my semi complete but loose Ultima 2 and 3.  U3 may have a now dead disk but honestly I am not entirely sure I would want to play the Atari 8 bit versions of either game over the EGA+ fan patches to the DOS editions.  (Or the NES version of 3.)

A more complicated and less fun helicopter sim by Cosmi, an APX game that is a Revolutionary War wargame (APX was Atari's user submitted library of titles.  Kind of like their Farm Team or Junior Varsity.  Some titles ended up getting full cartridge releases later on.), and some action type titles from Sega, Datasoft (Zaxxon replacing the tape version above), Cosmi, and Adventure International of all people.  

What's funny is a lot of these games are also C64 versions on the other side of the disk.  For my organization purposes I really like some of these titles that have nice small manuals that comfortably fit in the sleeve with the disk.  Keeps me from losing them or having to print one out from Atarimania.

But that discussion will continue in Part 2, where we go from Mortal Disks Doomed to Die, to Cartridges in their Halls of Solid State...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

So I am playing 8th edition Warhammer 40K today...

So for laughs using an online army builder since I don't have the full rules yet I decided to see how big of a LEGAL army I could make out of my 2nd tier army (as Chaos Space Marines are my first love.  Tyranids are third.) following the Detachment Points list construction rules.

This is what I was capable of creating legally!

LOOK UPON MY WORKS YE NERDY, AND DESPAIR!


  Things not in use STILL include another Falcon, 2 more Warlocks, 2 Storm Guardians with Fusion Guns, a Storm Guardian with a Power Fist, a Storm Guardian with 2 Pistols, Karandras, Everyone's Least Favorite Farseer Eldrad U., another War Walker, and a D Cannon Team. (I have 2 Superheavy Tanks which were once known as Tempests as well but they are Forge World now.  They became known as the Scorpion.  At least in the Imperial Armor II softback.) So this is my legally built megaforce I won't ever use as one force. But I have it.

  Much like Twilight Sparkle making her friendship reports to Princess Celestia I shall attempt to play and record my 1000 point Patrol scale match and make a photo comic battle report to share with everyone as yall get to read about what I will learn and see.  (And inevitably get groinpunched by the dice because dice don't like me.)

Will 8th ed be better than 6 and 7?  It doesn't seem too hard to beat out those two trainwrecks.

(PS:  This image list was made using a web based army builder.  My printed out lists are done using Battlescribe which is ok overall even if the Android app version formats odd ass PDFs.  The mostly easier to use Windows version has easier for computer people use and the text isn't buggered but you have to pay attention to page layouts.  That can be double sided.)

UPDATE:  We had our game and we had a good time, albeit with a few questions unanswered that may be due to just missing bits in the rulebook or presumptions on our part.

 We did a points match game with 5 Battle Rounds (aka each player getting one full turn per round) and it required us to hold objectives or just wipe out the other side.  It ended up a semi draw though I was on the verge of winning.  We forgot to use Command Points though we played using the normal point construction rules for a built force.  Battle Forged armies as they were.  See you pick a detachment (in our case a small one called PATROL) or multiples and build your force to those restrictions.  So its a mix of 3-7th ed standard 40K builds and AT-43 really.

 Shooting and Close Combat and Psyker abilities all are pretty smooth and fast.  We may have made some mistakes with vehicles and shooting heavy weapons however.  Again, some things may have been us presuming bits.  The core rulebook and the quick start "Battle Primer" did just come out Saturday and us older folks (I am 43 now.  FML!) don't always exactly have all the free time in the world...

 Vehicles now mostly work by the same rules as everything else, having wounds.  And unlike some things their abilities degrade as they take wounds until in this transport's case it explodes!  Then simply roll D6s for each carried model.  On a 1 they bite it.  (You have to disembark before the vehicle moves in a different turn than when you got into it.  Just put the minis with 3", then they can all move as they wish. Also we are back to a Move value in inches per each unit.  Some models can Advance with xd6 extra inches but outside of say, Eldar with Battle Focus you cannot shoot or Assault into close combat which is now streamlined.)

In these poor Chaos Marine's case they lost a dude when the Rhino blew up.  They took some more shots and had to take a Morale Test which involves subtracting casualties taken in the turn from the Leadership score and rolling 2d6.  Roll above this number and lose a model for each point you failed by.  

The whole game took us about 2 hours.  Had we been more savvy with the rules and our armies it could have been 60-90 minutes probably!

Some other cool bits as a quick overview: 

Ranges are now extended on a lot of weapons.  

ARMOR SAVE MODIFIERS ARE BACK HAIL PRINCESS CELESTIA AND OLD DIRTY BASTARD.  However you get one save per wounding hit.  Some weapons cause multiple wounds, though a Mortal Wound ignores most saves unless otherwise allowed and multiwound Mortal Wounds will carry on to other models in a unit where normal Wounds do NOT.

Initiative is gone.  In Close Combat units charging basically get to strike first.  (Charging is if you are within 12", roll 2d6 for distance to target, get within an inch of the enemy.)  Then you kind of switch back and forth between units engaged.

Psyker powers have a target to beat.  Roll 2d6 meet or beat the target.  Boxcars and Snake Eyes have bad times.  Psykers within a certain distance have a chance to "Deny the Witch" to stop it.  

Units with multiple weapons can target different units as opposed to all going at the same thing.  You have to declare before shots from the unit firing happen though!

Cover provides a bonus to your armor save.  Normally a flat +1 bonus.

Anything can basically wound anything now as you check the Strength of the weapon versus the Toughness of the target.  Equal is 4+, Higher and lower but not double is 3+ or 5+, 2+ or 6+ is double the other way.

Lots of weapons or units have special modifiers to dice rolls or effects that happen when the UNMODIFIED ROLL is a 1 or a 6 usually.

Characters provide special effects to friendly units of a certain keyword within X inches.

Old Codexes are invalid now and currently full color "Get you by" list books are available for 25 MSRP but are selling like waifu pillows at an anime con.  The books have around 4 armies per volume but there are 5 books.  Sadly the only one I have procured was Index Xenos 2 which contains Orks, Tau, Tyranids, and Genestealer Cults.  No real fluff but pretty much contains all non Imperial Armor Forgeworld stuff.  However there are scans of people holding pages open and the most updated version of Battlescribe has most of the rules when you mouse over or print out army lists.

(If you want a web based list builder that doesn't write out all the rules https://webapplications-webroster.rhcloud.com/rc/web/#!/rosterCreator will get you by.  Also prints out nice pictures of all your models.  I tend to use a mix of Battlescribe and this right now.)

Here is a simple and quick image output of it using the Genestealer Cult list since I have plenty of IG/Cult proxies or equivalents so I don't have to buy the Imperial Index book that contains Impie Guard (or the new stupid names most things are getting because GW is very salty about a court case they got OWNED HARD on a few years back..) if I don't want to which I don't.  

They do intend to release full proper army codexes in the future and put rules in all new releases or reprints but I have enough stuff to cover myself now although with some of the changes I may need a few models or boxes to properly kit things out.


So right now I give a tentative seal of approval to 8th edition Warhammer 40K!   Games Workshop seem to have learned a few things from their mistakes over the years.  Will they continue to improve and keep things balanced and fun?

Time will tell!

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