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!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

A good article on casual versus hardcore...


A damned good article, and it looks to have a boatload of truth to it.

It even points out how the accessible stuff leads to the more complex things.

And how too much "me too" leads to "screw you". (Hell, I used to play a lot of MMORPGs, FPSes, and RTSes. Now the genres are so prevalent I pretty much LOATHE them outside of a few select titles.)

Just take SHMUPS for example. Tons of people to this day continue to play Galaga. The amount playing "Loli Bullet Hell Adventures" is probably 1% that. The old SHMUPS were easy, accessible, and fun while still giving a good challenge. The games kept trying to appease the hardcore by getting tougher and more complicated, eventually killing the genre. You can see the same in Fighting games too. Too many of them all competing for an ever decreasing ever more nichey hardcore who demand more, with few "gateway games" to bring newbies in, and what few there were rarely found the audience or were too far from the mainstream titles.

You can even see it in tabletop games. It is the REAL reason wargames went from selling 50,000-250,000 of most major releases to being a breakout hit if they sell 1000 copies. They went from a variety of easy and fun games like Ogre/GEV, Gettysburg Anniversary Edition, and even the more complex Squad Leader into stuff like Advanced Squad Leader and Starfleet Battles which were so complicated that almost nobody outside of an ever decreasing ever more demanding group (there they are again!) even bothered. The people who might like to shoot up some starships on a board is probably decently high. The amount who care about Electronic Counter Measures and Electronic Counter-Counter Measures (something Starfleet Battles has) is MUCH lower. I am a gamer and I don't care about it! Imagine your average nongamer or mildly interested person!

Which is how come the Eurogames like Catan and its ilk came in and swept the market, being incredibly HUGE in Europe, and having a rather dedicated fanbase in the US. I can get most total nongamers to play Catan. These people probably wouldn't approach most hobby games at all. And some of them might be slowly brought into playing more involved titles.

The part about players feeling like they don't suck counts too. When I play a modern SHMUP, I always feel like I suck. Its just not fun. Its too hard and I cannot even come to grips with it. If Guitar Hero and Rock Band only started on Medium I would have probably returned the game the very day I bought it. Because missing notes makes me feel like I suck. But i can play it on Easy which is a hell of a lot of fun for me and I have gotten pretty good on it. Some of my friends are the same way. The guy who was in Band in high school was good enough and had the desire and he usually plays at Medium, and has begun to play on Hard.

Ease of use. Start small, go big ONLY IF YOU REALLY WANT TO.

Its why Magic the Gathering is such a god awful game these days. Its almost always too complicated, and especially unless you are playing people of the same card access and skill level as yourself you ALWAYS FEEL LIKE YOU SUCK, since most Magic gamegroups are built of tourney players with badass decks who have no reservations about stomping you. Old Magic was kinda fun. Not as many rules and complexities, and far more casual gamers playing it.

Easily accessible games where even the newbies have a chance do much better. I rarely win Catan, but I have fun and most people who play it even when they lose always want MORE. I taught people Ogre/GEV, I lost because I was outplayed and my players are interested enough to play it again.

Overly complicated titles for an ever decreasing audience who are happy (until they reach their breaking/boredom point and leave anyhow!) isn't the way to go. Gaming NEEDS the sort of disruptions Nintendo in electronic gaming and Eurogames are in tabletop games.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tuesday Game Reports and Other Strangeness..

Tuesday morning I had medical related things to take care of that has been messing me up with worry for a few weeks now. Afterwards I was semi useful so after 5 or so hours of broken sleep thanks to AT&T calling with some BS nonsense they were selling (I had my phone on in the bedroom for once so my friends could call so we could do something and I might hear it.), so I went with everyone else to Starfury's to play Rock Band, or in my case, watch, make the odd comment, and write up an army list for Wednesday's 40K game.

And it was good I did, as when I get to that battle report, it was a double header!

But the reason there is so little for this blog this week is due to the aforementioned medical thing, the worry about doing said thing, and what I have spent most of today doing.

Preparing for the Lord of the Rings miniatures battle Tuesday. More of my miniatures have come in from the mail, netting me more 2nd age Elven Archers & Bowmen and 6 Dwarven Khazad Guard. Sarge's netted me 4 Hobbit Militia, the veteran versions of Merry and Pippin, 12 Hobbit Archers, and Farmer Maggot with his dogs. Today has so far been all about assembling and priming many of these new recruits, and properly typing up and printing out all 3 Good force army lists, with explanations of their special skills and gear. (And life stuff, but this blog isn't about my life unless it pertains to gaming. I want to keep it that way.)

I've also acquired some cheap RPG products which will be arriving soon. (Cheap is all I can really manage right now.) Classic Traveller, the legendary hard Sci Fi RPG, and Palladium's new Robotech Shadow Chronicles game.

I may talk about them when I actually get the books and have some time to read through them.

Now I want a freaking break and just want to play some damned videogames without the sword of doom hanging over my head. This leaves Monday to base a ton of figures, and type up all 3 Evil army lists. I might not get all the basing done, but the army list write ups will be all but required. Then maybe next week I can show the amazing 40K fights I engaged in Wednesday with a nice comic strip style, and talk about the chaotic scheduling changes soon to affect my little game group just as we closed on a maxed out size group.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Lord of the Rings Miniatures Battle Preview!


I told yall I have been doing some work on it!

The battlefield is set up, the deployment zones are finalized, and 5 out of the 6 armies are assembled, with the forces of evil already set up. Goblins and Haradrim on the left flank, the Fighting Uruk Hai in the center, and the foul Orcs of Mordor on the right.

Who will stand against them?

Faramir and Boromir each lead a force from Minas Tirith, but the last army has yet to answer the call to valour.

Will it be Gimli and Legolas leading a mixed group of Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits? Will more men of Gondor answer the call? Will Eowyn and the Riders of Rohan answer the call?

That remains to be seen..

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tuesday and Wednesday Game Reports

Tuesday with Missme unavailable we switched to a 1 shot game. 5 people here.. what to play? An old classic this group has always wanted to play, but for whatever reason we never got to play.

AXIS AND ALLIES (2nd edition, Milton Bradley version.)

Myself and 9 Iron Nuke drew Japan and Germany out of the random pile, with Pico getting the UK, Magicdrew getting the USA, and the only other A&A veteran Starfury getting Russia. We used the balancing rule of Russia can't attack Germany on turn 1, but otherwise played it as written. (One of these days I need to DL and print the newer versions of the rules.) Overall it was a quick reread of certain rule sections, but otherwise we played through with little trouble.

It ended a good 3-4 hours later with Germany haven falling, and Japan's last ditch attempt to save Germany by taking the Russian capital failing due to some amazingly bad die rolls.

A&A still holds up fantastically. Its a very good game. We strategized and planned. Cool stuff happened. Overall it was a good time, though as usual we seemed to take the game ENTIRELY too seriously, something our group sometimes does to our detriment. A little competition is good, but too much sucks the fun out. We never got to that point, but we were seriously overthinking our strategies and actions.

Wednesday was another Sarge's trip. Warhammer 40K game report first. 4 players. 1500 points. 3 way startup, Tau vs Ork vs Witch Hunters, with Space Marines coming in on turn 2 via drop pods. My Tau got beat up, mostly due to some mediocre dice rolling. Well, that and the unstoppable Nobz mob lead by Mad Doc Grotsnik. 5+ Invulnerable saves, 4+ normal armor save, 4+ Feel No Pain. And there were a good TWENTY of them. I did some serious damage to that unit with my Hammerheads, but not enough. But nobody else could possibly hurt them. The Witch Hunters mostly assaulted the Orks, with a few things sent my way. Its the Drop Pod Space Marines that really made things a mess. They were a MASSIVE spoiler to everyone. None of us could really get a proper battle line going. It wasn't just a 2 front war. It was an ALL front war. A very interesting game to be sure. Was called for time, which flew by. It probably should have been a team game, but one player showed up just as we set up our last few units, so it was the best way to fit him in.

Purchases today involved 30 bucks for the Ork player's 2 remaining Chaos tanks. A fully painted classic Vindicator, and a base colored Predator Anhiliator. From no Chaos tanks since 1998, to 3 and maybe 4 if 9 Iron Nuke finds the Rhino he doesn't need within a month 10 years later.

The LOTR Miniatures front involved me getting the final 2 books Sarge's had. Best of White Dwarf Two Towers, and Best of White Dwarf Return of the King. The Two Towers book is mostly useful for scenarios, and little else. Its 128 pages, but much of it is pictures, battle reports, and other useless White Dwarf fluff. At the time of publish it would have been hugely useful with a big Fellowship of the Ring era FAQ, extra charts, and such. Now the rules clarifications are 3 rules revisions old, and battle reports in a paid for book is.. stupid. Its also got a couple minigames which look pretty dumb overall. The Return of the King book is half the size, has the few units from the previous book in it, and tons more, though most are ones you need to convert yourself. I'd recommend getting it if possible. I'll probably talk more about these books when I go into the LOTR minis game in depth sometime soon. For miniatures I grabbed 2 Avenger Bolt Throwers, a Goblin Drum, and 3 Fountain Court Guards.

With all my expansion books most everything in the buy 1 get 1 tub is usable now, except I can only get a little at a time.
Next week will be my final game prep purchases, most likely 2 packs of Hobbit Archers, 1 pack of Hobbit Militia, and the veteran Merry and Pippin models. After that I can generally just buy what I might like to own as opposed to building for a big game.

I have already begun serious preparation for the LOTR Minis training game too. The battlefield has been carefully set up and markers have been arrayed to show deployment zones. I decided to drop each player's army to 400 over my initial thought of 500 each. I will be reintroducing myself to the game, and Pico is the only one of our group to have played it before. Why make things complicated? Each army is mostly simple for this first game. No complicated heroes like the Ringwraiths or Frodo, and everything I tried to pick are relatively simple for this fight. It will be easier when I write up each player's army list. 5 of the 6 armies have been designed, leaving the final good force for next week. With my paperwork listing what I have and their points, building the forces was a snap. I should even have some of the forces set up by next week. They won't all be painted, but as I have mentioned, I hate painting, so what little I do is what little I do!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Tau, or How to Organize an Army


Look at this folks. This is the kinds of information you should bring to your miniatures games. Your army, pointed and statted out in a nice 9 point font on a double sided sheet of paper. I have 1 page with multiple units, and their points costs with some variables for the various wierdo size games out there. I have all my units with wargear lists and every thing I want to use with them. This will save you a good 30 minutes or more every game day. Not seen is the army book's reference sheet with the backside being used for a self typed list of all those wargear and weapon and tech info thingies my army needs and uses so I don't have to refer to the damned codex every 5 minutes. (Which is bad for me since I play multiple games and in 40K 5 different armies. Forgetting the rules or little specific bits happens all the time!

This is the path to truth.

With luck, I can have something similar ready for my players for the big ass Lord of the Rings Miniatures game in 2 weeks.

Now I just need to spread this truth to every minis gamer I know. Spread this good readers, and save all of us tons of wasted game time every session!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wednesday Game Report

Well, the report will be quick. My 1500 Eldar vs Orks and Space Marines as a 3 way fight. My Eldar rolled horribly for EVERYTHING. Terrible hit, terrible wound, terrible armor saves, terrible morale checks. It was so awful I conceded after 2 or 3 turns, and the Space Marines ended up winning with a single surviving Terminator megasquad.

On the upside, the buy 1 get one on LotR minis got me 6 more Minas Tirith Citadel Guard soldiers, and 2 more sourcebooks, Ruin of Arnor, & Shadow and Flame. Some of the units in S&F are also in Arnor, but most are unique to both and very few repeated in the Mines of Moria rulesbook, though there are some.

(More info on LotR sourceboks whenever I do a thread totally devoted to the game.)

I also got the deal of the year on Tau minis from the Ork player. For 20 bucks I got a Devilfish, Skyray with Hammerhead parts (interchangable), 36 Fire Warriors, the Tau Empire Codex, and plenty of Gun Drones.

My Tau army is digustingly HUGE now.

While my actual cash expenditure overall is around 250-275 dollars, I just calculated buying all the stuff I have individually and its approaching 700 dollars. Ebay, and good deals saved me an insane amount of money. (Clever conversions and unit appropriations helped too!) And now I have almost everything for Tau I could possibly want or need.

3 Crisis Suits, all with 2 Shield Drones
3 Hammerhead Gunships, 1 with Skyray parts
3 Piranhas
3 Devilfish Transports
3 Broadside Battlesuits, commander with 2 Gun Drones
2 3 man Stealth Armor teams
12 Kroot Carnivores
70 Fire Warriors (6 being Tank model commander conversions.)
8 Autonomous Gun Drones
2 Tau Empire Codexes
Original Tau Codex

If we count the Crisis and Broadside suits as vehicles I have 15 vehicles I can place in my army, though no more than 14 of them legally. (3 Broadsides count as 1 Heavy Support choice. Each Hammerhead or Skyray counts as 1. )

I burned the afternoon (for me anyhow!) oil, and this is what I have for my Tau and their points values. With luck all my math was right!

Shas’o w/ 2Link Plasma Rifle, Shield Generator, Bonding Knife & Stimulant Injector. 140 points
Bodyguard 1 w/ 2Link Missile Pod, Target Array (+1BS), & Iridium Armor (2+ Armor). 83 points
Bodyguard 2 w/ 2Link Missile Pod, Target Array (+1BS), & Failsafe Detonator. 78 points
Options: Up to 6 Shield Drones & Hardwired Drone Controllers (0pts) at 15 points each. 90 points max.

2 3 man Stealth Teams w/ Shas’vre upgrade w Fusion Blaster, Markerlight, Bonding Knife. All members w/ Target Array (+1BS). Regular troopers w/ Burst Cannons. Each squad: 177 points.

Fast Attack:
1-3 Piranha Skimmers w/ Fusion Blaster & Targeting Array (+1BS). 70 points. 210 points max.

Gun Drone Squad w/ 2Link Pulse Carbine. 48 points per 4 unit squad, 96 points for 8 unit squad max.

Heavy Support:
1 Broadside Battlesuit w/ Shas’vre Upgrade, Bonding Knife, & Targeting Array(+1BS). 95 points
Options: Up to 2 Gun Drones & Hardwired Drone Controller (0pts) at 10 points each. 20 points max.
2 Broadside Battlesuits. 70 points each. 140 points max.

1-3 Hammerhead Gunships w/ Smart Missile System, Sensor Spines, & Seeker Missile. 130 points each.
Main Gun: Railgun at 50 points each, Ion Cannon at 15 points each.
Each tank is 180 or 145 points total.

1 Skyray Gunship (replaces 1 Hammerhead) w/ Smart Missile System, Sensor Spines, 6 Seeker Missiles, 2 Networked Markerlights, & Target Lock. 155 points.

6 Fire Warrior Squads w/ Shas’ui w/ Markerlight, & Bonding Knife. All w/ Photon & EMP Grenades & Pulse Rifles. 109 points per 6 man squad, 14 points per extra trooper. 193 points per full 12 man squad. (1 squad can only reach 10 men at 165 points.)

1-3 Devilfish Transports w/ Burst Cannon, 2 Gun Drones, Sensor Spines, Targeting Array (+1BS), & Seeker Missile. 105 points.

Kroot Carnivore Squad w/Kroot Rifle. 70 points per 10 man squad, 7 points per extra trooper. 84 points per full 12 man squad. If Shaper is bought, +1 per Kroot for 6+ armor.

Maximum Army points: 3568


That's a big Twinkie!

The last 2 days I have spent a good many hours putting unassembled models new and old from the Tau line together, and spraypainting all the models to go into my army color scheme which is loosely based off the Mospeada segment of Robotech. A few bases flocked up too. Flocked bases do SO MUCH for miniatures, even simply painted ones.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tuesday Game Reports

This week was another Heroquest week. Given my usual luck with the game, my Troubador died within 15 minutes of starting a dungeon that took a good 2 hours to complete, ending what little desire I had to play this game. It wasn't anyone's fault, just bad luck. But when something is THIS frustrating, there is little point in ruining everyone else's fun by playing and being miserable so I went from playing and doing some MUCH needed painting, to just painting.

While Pico took it as a bit insulting, it wasn't anything of the sort. 4 of the characters were long lived and were relatively high powered. He had to base the challenges to give them something to do. My support character was more recent, being the fourth character I had and totally unsuited to a mission where I couldn't be a supporter given random teleporting rooms filled with monsters. Actually, any low level character was doomed from the start in this one. MagicDrew's Elf died and he had to make up a new character who fell in the next mission, meaning for the final 3 missions he either has to hide behind everyone, doing NOTHING, or get stuck in and probably die due to being completely outclassed.

Its a flaw of the genre as I have mentioned in a previous post. Missme's Barbarian is an unstoppable juggernaut of doom and asskicking. However what she can handle with minor trouble spells instant death for a new character of any sort. If I were to go back I would take out the level system I made entirely. Long term survival just throws game balance off and after a certain point it just makes it POINTLESS for any new character to join in. It would be like running a Dungeons & Dragons game and making players roll up level 1 characters when the majority of the party is level 8 or higher. The level 1 simply has no place being there, has nothing to actually do (because higher levels do it better or can actually survive the threats they face), and mostly sits around leeching XP for hours on hours till they approach a point in being able to contribute.

And while the XP system in Basic D&D makes this ALMOST bearable (It takes roughly as much XP to go from level 8 to 9 as it does from level 1 to level 7. A fighter in Moldvay/Cook Basic needs to go from 120,000 to 240,000 to level up. A level 1 character needs 120,000, the same amount, to get to level 8, meaning if they gain the same amount of XP the newbie will be one level behind.), it still means there is massive amounts of downtime where the newbie is literally useless baggage. Not fun for the newbie or the high level babysitters. (If we are to assume 10 sessions of adventure to level up at this advanced stage, it means roughly 12000 xp per session. If unlimited levelling up is allowed (and most of the time any excess xp to take a PC up 2 levels is discarded, leaving them 1 xp away from the 2nd level up..) the newbie would hit level 4 the first session, and be half the adventurer everyone else is discounting not having the improved equipment everyone else has. Session 2 would bring him up to level 5, still mostly useless though almost capable of doing something helpful. Session 3 would bring him up to level 6, and now after 15 hours or so of being little more than baggage the player can actually fight alongside his pals. 3 more sessions to bring him to a level 7 (And hopefully some better equipment by this point. Maybe +1 gear the higher level PCs have outgrown, maybe a +2 here and there.) and he can actually give a decent accounting for himself and not hide behind everyone.

This of course is what is happening in our Heroquest game but at a much faster clip. If the GM shows pity for the newbie, he is cheating the player and giving the advanced characters little challenge. Yet on the other side, the newbie character's player is unlikely to have much fun or contribute much to the game.

In other words, I BLEW IT AND I AM SORRY.

The level up system I came up with simply doesn't fit Heroquest at all. It throws off what little balance there is in this largely luck driven game. Level ups plus treasure and equipment plus a few players having bad luck leads to completely thrown off gameplay. If everyone stays alive it can work fine. If everyone dies it also works fine. If more than a third of the group constantly live or die it all goes to Hell.

Which is what happened. And I didn't think about that part. Now, throwing in majority level lower level starts for replacement characters could reduce this somewhat (maybe 100GP per level and newbies start 2 levels lower than the party average rounded down?), but its still a clusterfrack any way you look at it.


But on the upside I got to get some painting done, and it gave me fodder for this post. Its something all game designers need to look at. Just what DO YOU DO when new players join in to a persistent game? Letting them start out on par with players who "earned" their current status isn't fair, yet forcing them to work their way up from the bottom when the gameplay is much further along and the competition is harder isn't fair either.

And I hope Pico doesn't decide never to GM again because of it. It happens. It wasn't anybody's fault. Its a game problem that almost every GM has to face. I just chose to sit out losing any more characters ( 4 corpses is enough for any one person I think! ) and continue painting. Everyone else is having fun, why the hell should I ruin everyone else's time because my bright idea mucked everything up? I get to do some painting in a manner that doesn't totally suck. I hate painting. Its a waste of time. I would rather do other things. If someone is running a game even when I am participating I can listen and contribute and do something else while I am at it that otherwise I wouldn't do much of. I live alone and tend to be lonely most of the time. I am happy to have the company over. I had no problem painting and letting everyone else continue to have fun and smashinate monsters. I was having bad luck and it was no point in ANYONE being miserable over it.

Heck, I want more people to run things so I can get some painting done while we play. It might be the only way I ever get any painting done! :P

I got some color on some LotR minis, 2 more Heroquest missions got completed. We all got to socialize and chat and such. We all learned some things about game design due to this blog post.

Seems like a fine day to me!

Monday, March 10, 2008

An Interesting Miniatures Game Survey


If I find some time, I would love to comment on this beast of a survey. For now, I am just posting the link so others can read it.
Some of the results I found surprising, though much was common knowledge anyhow.

A notable one is Lord of the Rings, Games Workshop's supposed "Third Pillar". It had around 3.7 % of the respondents playing it, putting it on a rough tie with Rackham's recent prepaints game AT 43. LotR has more players than any of the GW Specialist Games line that were also write in votes from what I can tell, and even more players than Battletech, which has been around almost a quarter century now.

(Most people suspect the only reason LotR miniatures keeps getting any support is because the liscense DEMANDS IT. The main reason I keep buying stuff is because its on clearance and the game shop is all but begging me to buy stuff when they saw me go through the tub of blisters! Which is a shame, because its a GREAT GAME. And even at MSRP its a fair deal. This is a good value for the cash: http://store.us.games-workshop.com/storefront/store.us?do=List_Models&code=305975&orignav=305053&ParentID=259519&GameNav=16 )

Also interesting is the general dislike and apathy for prepaints. But not surprising. The existing miniatures games community was pretty much founded on painting and elitism. Read almost any miniatures forum or blog and the level of paint snobbery will be all too easy to see. Of course a survey advertised to MINIATURES GAMERS is gonna come out that way! Now if this was sent to more general gaming forums the odds would be a little more reasonable.

(One of the reasons I gave up on RPGnet was due to the paint snobs. Some of those people actually got rude and abusive if you even attempted to mention prepaints, and defending it with valid reasons why some folks might not want to waste hours coloring toy soldiers was simply MADNESS.)

Since as of this edit I have decided I really don't want to comment on a seven or so page document, I will add a couple extra comments here:

I noticed that the UK and US represented most of the respondents. Not surprising given it being an english language survey. What was surprising was the US being around 60% of those who took the survey, and the UK having 20% more. If this is what we can consider a rough guesstimate of the worldwide miniatures paint n play market, it means Games Workshop's continued insistence on doing things UK style is another of the many reasons they are continually falling down and out. The US market is NOT the UK one. We aren't serviced by lots of GW branded stores nearby, nor (going by other results later on in the survey) is it preteen oriented as GW seems most interested in selling to. Its largely ADULTS, with 20-30 somethings being the overall largest market. People with jobs and starting families. (Given their insane pricing on most products and a third of the LOTR line this is no big surprise. Most kids and preteens can't afford the 200+ dollar startup costs! Hell, most adults can't unless they are DINKs! (Double Income, No Kids.) )

It also shows the other UK style of play as a member of a games club is another thing that is simply not as big as the UK crowd considers it. Its another thing that works there in the tighter geography and culture, but has spit all to do with anywhere else. Maybe Japan if it was a bigger minis gaming market (but their nerds are generally complete social shut ins, too busy lusting after cartoon high school girls so its doubtful!), given they also have an activity club background growing up.

Most places do not. Here in the US, its mostly pick up and play or tournament style gaming. There are organized game groups, but usually comprise friends who play in their homes and are rarely anything like an actual club. The drama of managing to get everyone together on a semi consistent basis is trouble enough without any silly club politics or financial issues!

Also for my last thought I will go on to the list of popular games. Warhammer 40K is the king. No surprise there. What is surprising is the percentages under it. Outside of Warmachine/Hordes and Warhammer Fantasy, I haven't seen a single one of the big list games played in over a decade!

I will repost that list so I can comment on it. (Hopefully the survey's creators will not mind me excerpting it.)

Warhammer Fantasy 29.72%
About a third of the responders play it. Not too surprising. Where Warhammer Fantasy is popular it tends to be VERY popular.
Everywhere else its a nonstarter.

Flames of War 20.12%
I've heard of the game, and one guy at Sarge's was pimping the game a bit. I have little interest in it as I have hex and chit wargames covering WW2. Cheaper and don't need miniatures to play.

DBA 15.48%
I know of it, but I have NEVER seen it played or anyone with a rulesbook. It is playable online, but its a wierd setup to do so.
Its well regarded. Its an Ancients/Medieval ruleset.

Warhammer 40K 38.39%
Its the top dog, but not top enough in regard to the world as I have seen it. Almost every store that has miniatures gaming has 40K gaming in it, or has had at one point.

Warlord 11.46%
One guy at Sarge's speaks highly of it. I have never seen it played or any of the products available for purchase at a store. Reaper makes some great minis at a fair price though.

Warmachine 19.81%
Compared to Warhammer Fantasy this percentage seems about right. Its tied if not getting close to beating it as being the other game besides 40K played.

Warhammer Historical 24.46%
I've seen books, but never seen it played. Its the Warhammer Fantasy rules modified to do the same stuff DBA covers.

Warmaster 9.29%
Haven't seen the pieces since it first came out and haven't ever seen it played. Its 10mm scale Warhammer Fantasy.

Fire & Fury 15.48%
Never heard of it.

Warmaster Ancients 12.07%
Warmaster rules to play 10mm scale ancients/medieval combat. I'm not sure there is a point to it existing, and not in such numbers.

Hordes of the Things 8.36%
DBA rules converted for fantasy games. Its nearly impossible to get the ruleset in the US (I have tried since I wanted a generic set of fantasy rules.) but it seems to be popular in the UK.

Other 66.25%
This sort of skews the HELL out of the whole survey.

In addition to the selectable options, write in answers were accepted for this question. The results were as follows:
(Im just gonna leave the games I know of here and delete the ones I don't know about.)

AT-43 (3.62%)
For a game roughly a year old and with now gone distribution problems this isn't too bad!

Battlefleet Gothic (1.64%)
For a game so highly regarded, THAT'S IT !?

Battletech (1.97%)
This should be way higher. I've seen more Battletech players recently than I have most of the games on this list. COMBINED.

Blood Bowl (1.97%)
It seems as if all of GW's Specialist Games line products are in the barely there category. Can't believe AT43 is doing better or that Battletech is doing worse though.

CAV (1.36%)
No way Battletech's secondary competitor is close in popularity to Battletech. NO WAY.

Confrontation (3.62%)
Seems about right. Given that it is going to prepaints might either hurt or help it.

Dirtside (1.64%)
Its supposed to be pretty good. Its free to DL the rules now too. Not bad for a generic scifi minis 6mm.

Epic 40K (2.63%)
Given that there are 3 different rulesets that fragment the fanbase ( I prefer Titan Legions or the fanmade revisions known as Netepic over the later ones.) having this big of a percentage aint bad.

Full Thrust (4.93%)
Like Dirtside, in spaceship combat land.

Hordes (2.63%)
Inaccurate. Should be combined with Warmachine as its effectively the same game and both are totally compatible. Its big beasties just use a different magic system. Most people play both. I have played more games with my Warmachine Cryx against Hordes armies than Warmachine!

Lord Of The Rings (2.96%)
As I mentioned above, this should be much higher. Or the explanation of why GW is in such a fix.

Mordheim (2.63%), Necromunda (1.97%)
Mordheim bigger than Necromunda? NO. WAY. Lots of people play and love Necromunda. Mordheim not so much.

Stargrunt (1.64%)
Same developers and concepts as Dirtside and Full Thrust but with 40K sized minis. Also free IIRC.

Warzone (1.36%)
Not too surprising. Used to be 40K's biggest competitor but mishandling and gamer fanboyism killed it.

Given that Star Wars Minis, Heroclix, Heroscape, Battle Lore, and many other well known games were in the less than 1 percent category, I have to conclude overall that this survey is a good indicator of the core miniatures paint n play market, it is NOT a good indicator of the general gamer market and miniatures games played overall out in the "real world".

Heroclix and Heroscape should possibly be top 5 if not THE top played games. Until recently you could buy Heroscape from any Walmart or Target. Heroclix is sold in bookstores, and almost every comic book store. Even Toys R Us and Target have carried it. Its market is mainly kids and busy adults, who were not serviced by the survey.

This survey mostly was aimed at core gamers, and something like 60% of the respondents came from The Miniatures Page, which has spit all to do with most minis players. (They mentioned avoiding reporting about the survey to any game specific forums. Which means most of the 40K/Fantasy forums, the LOTR gamer forums, Battletech forums, scifi or fantasy games forums, RPGnet, Boardgamegeek, Heroscapers, Warmachine forums, or anything else was left out.

Basically hardcore multi game players are recorded, and the majority of gamers were completely left out. Hell, I hadn't even heard of this survey and I play a TON of minis games.

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Scenario for my Lord of the Rings Miniatures Battle

Here is a post listing the special rules for the battle my players will be engaging in. Perhaps some of you out there will make use of it as well.

Lord of the Rings Megabattle: The Lost Artifact

In a battle that might not have ever happened or could have happened if the War of the Ring went differently, a forgotten artifact from the dark times of Morgoth’s assault on Middle Earth has been spotted by all forces in a ruined shrine in a forgotten clearing in a forgotten wood. Sauron’s forces have located it, and the Rangers of the North have passed on this information to the good peoples of Middle Earth who move to intercept it....

The setup: Each side is intended to be played by 3 players each, though more or less can be taken with a little tweaking. On the left and right side of each flank, those commanders’ forces have a 24” by 12” deployment zone coming from their respective table edge. Directly in the center of each table side the center player has a 24” by 12” deployment zone.

In the center of the table put a well, crypt, or similar type of terrain, roughly no larger than a 2” size. (The well scenery from Mines of Moria is the intended item to use. We will call the objective the well from here on out.) Put a set of ruins or walls that only allow entrance from each side preventing the table edge deployment zones from seeing the well. The ruins should give 4-6” of open area from the well.

Put out more terrain in equal amounts everywhere else on the field.

Evil gets priority on the first turn.

Army selection: While it is HIGHLY recommended to build equal forces based on Legions of Middle Earth force selection rules, each side merely has to be from the Good or Evil sides. (Having 1 commander with Moria forces, 1 as Mordor, and 1 as Isengard for example, would be ideal, though if miniature selections are limited, just make sure each player just has the proper points percentages and is using the Good or Evil figures depending on what side they are playing on.)

Usual Legions of Middle Earth points and percentage rules stay in effect. No more than 50% heroes, no more than 33% ranged combat units. (Throwing weapons do not count as ranged combat units for our purposes.)

Victory Objectives: Victory is gained by a side getting the objective from the well. This is done by having a normal figure based figure touching the center Well with no enemy model getting within their zone of control for however many turns it takes to find the artifact, then run it off their table edge and that model’s deployment zone.

Special Rules: Reinforcements: Each player may nominate 1 on foot non mounted figure troop type they have at least 8 or more models of that costs 10 points or less. Once they have lost 8 of these models in play, at the end of the next turn’s Movement Phase (meaning after Courage Tests and all movement has occured) these models are placed on that player’s deployment zone table edge.

Capturing the Artifact: As mentioned, an on foot model needs to be touching the Well and have no enemy models within their zone of control, or touching the Well. At the start of the Fight Phase, roll a D6 for each model touching the Well. On a 6, the Artifact is found. Put a marker on that model to note they have it. If they are killed in close combat, the killing model captures the Artifact. If they are killed by shooting, the artifact may be picked up by any model who is touching the Artifact at the start of the Fight Phase and no enemy models are within their zone of control they automatically pick it up.

Edit: This isnt in the scenario as to make it fit on a single page, but the question of getting the Artifact out of the Well faster by using Might Points is something I re-remembered. I would say this should be dependent on the time allotted to the game. For my group it most likely will be a 2 week battle, especially since everyone will be learning the rules, 2 of us only having played it once before. So for us, it cannot be modified. A 6 and a 6 ONLY on the roll gets it. Also, only a normal infantry base figure can ever pick up and move the Artifact off their respective table edge deployment zone. (By having enough movement to walk off their edge.)

Tuesday and Wednesday Game Reports

Well, Tuesday our Gary Gygax tribute was mostly an intraparty combat in the Caves of Chaos, made responsible by beer. Bud Light in the fancy aluminum St Patrick's Day bottles! We then played Rock Band at Starfury's. A little disappointing, but it was amusing too.

Wednesday was a tad more productive:

Another battle report. It was a 3 turn Apocalypse game against some younger guys who were decent enough blokes but a little on the Warhamms side as it were which sort of reduced the fun and made the game not go to its completion.

But it will be explained in the report. To save on amount of images, time to post, and because it looks nifty, I am back to my comic strip style. Should be easier to read. Most folks seem to like the battle reports done like this and its honestly easier than just posting the pictures and making captions. Man I love Comic Life Deluxe! Not to mention I am almost out of pictures on my Flickr account. While 25 bucks a year isn't a bad deal, I am not quite sure if I want to pay it or not...



To elaborate on the Tau - Ork trade: Guy who is moving to Colorado for a while to get out of Connecticut (can't blame him) has decided his only 2 armies are gonna be Ultramarines and Ork. I play Tau, Chaos, Eldar, Tyranid, and Ork. I got a bunch of 2nd edition Gretchin I never really used. (And under the new rules I need more Runtherds to use em all.) I got some other Grots that were nicely painted and were conversions from a 6th edition Warhammer Fantasy Night Goblins set. And now I want nothing but Night Goblin Grots. I need more Tau, so 40 Grots and 20 bucks got me 1 more Crisis Suit, 3 Broadside Battlesuits, and 3 of the Stealth Team suits. He threw in 12 Kroots gratis. I'll be getting all his Fire Warriors and a bunch of drones for 20 bones this weekend at the 24 hour gaming night which none of my friends will probably show up for. :(

I also continued to take advantage of Sarge's Comics' sales, getting 6 Trinity sourcebooks for a buck a pop. In LOTR minis, I got 6 Gondor White Tower Archers, and the second two sourcebooks they released. The Siege of Gondor, and the Battle for Pelennor Fields. While a few of the units in the book are either revised or just the same in the Mines of Moria rulesbook, quite a few of them are not, giving me the rules for more heroes and units, some of which were in those lovely piles of buy one get one free. (Much of Pelennor Fields was overwritten for the recently released Harad supplement, but I don't want to spend a lot of LOTR Minis so I mostly stick to sales and clearance deals.) There are also plenty of scenarios in the books, a fair amount of fluff, and lots of scenery building instructions. Given that Pico wants to do some massive castle siege battles, should my medical stuff turn out ok, I should be making use of quite a bit of it. They had 3 more books in the clearance pile I might get, though given the buy one get one deal, one will have to be passed on, probably the Best of White Dwarf compilation.

Given our game delay this week, I have more time to prepare for the big LOTR Minis game, which has now been shunted into April, giving me a little extra time. My good forces troops selection is rather small, so I am heavily focusing on that at least up to the game.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Showing off the Collection Part 1

Given that the man whose vision is responsible for my colossal waste of money has left us, its all too appropriate to show off my goodies. It'll take a while to show it all off, but today I will display the D&D, Horror, and Retroshelf!

Top shelf has the White Box Original D&D with all the main books except for the Gods, Demigods, and Heroes book. The messy bits are hiding many classic AD&D 1st edition adventures still waiting to be run, and a fair number of 2nd edition too.

Some 1st and 2nd edition books. I have a few more here and there, and that reminds me I need to get Deities and Demigods back from Magicdrew.

My horror shelf, celebrating Call of Cthulhu and Ravenloft. The binders contain legally purchased PDF printouts of classic adventures I missed over the years. When I put all my in print White Wolf stuff up, the binders will be moved.

About 1/3rd of my D&D box sets, more adventure modules, and some Dungeon Magazine issues.

One of my "Where the hell am I gonna put this?" stacks. In this case most of my Warhammer RPG collection. Another copy of Dark Heresy, WHFRP 1st edition, and the Dark Heresy GM pack aren't featured.

The stuff from Sarge's Comics' 1 dollar RPG book thingie. Its gonna get bigger over the next few weeks. Again, I have to figure out where to put it. And my camera continues to pick up dirt, dust, and stuff my naked eye doesn't see. Time to get out the vacuum!

A mixture of stuff to find a place for (the AD&D stuff I got for a great price from a Something Awful sales thread), and my go game stuff ready to be played. The tote bag has my New World of Darkness books I actually use in play (Rulebook, Second Sight, Armory, Dark Alliance: Vancouver (oWoD). The plastic thingie is my Federation Commander collection ready for classic Trek action. The black bag is my Warhammer 40K bag. Currently my Tyranids are in it waiting to eat things for the Hive Mind.

Part of the board and wargames closet that isn't yet set. ASL, Squad Leader, some CCG stuff (World of Warcraft and Magic the Sucking), Ogre, Car Wars, and Battletech stuffage. Itll be pretty eventually. Below it not seen is a couple tubs full of Heroscape hex terrain.

I have more to show, but its too messy and disorganized for even me to show. Sigh. Project to do number who knows out of HOLY COW DO THIS ALREADY!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Father of RPGs is Gone...


The man whose vision and ideas who pretty much made gaming what it was in the 80s before it was taken away from him is gone. A clever, witty fellow whose rules may have had flaws in em, but were full of charm.

I had little interaction with him other than reading a thread he had over at Dragonsfoot, and the various writings he had here and there. (Luckily or sadly, much of his younger, crankier writings reside on the Dragon Magazine Archive CDROM.)

He will be missed. Its a sad day for RPGs.

Even worse is how many other gaming luminaries have either passed away or are in seriously declining health. Erick Wujick of Palladium, Bob Bledsaw of Judge's Guild, and N Robin Crossby III of Harn are all in bad shape.

RPGers lost their Elvis today.

I think my game group is gonna put Heroscape and my Lord of the Rings Miniatures battle on hold and play through one of Gary's classics for old time's sake.

The man deserves that much.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Wednesday Game Report

Wednesday was a double header of 40K dice rolling fun.

First up was 1000 points of my Tyranids vs 1000 points of Slaanesh Chaos Marines.
I have only ever played against Chaos once, maybe twice before. Usually I am the Chaos guy. BITCHES STEALIN' MY NICHE!

Hive Fleet Mustafar (Due for a dipping come warmer weather because EVERYONE COMPLAINS HOW BRIGHT THEY ARE LIKE A BUNCH OF WHINERS) gets ready to eat some nummy Chaos Marines. A jacked up Hive Tyrant with Venom Cannon, a Carnifex with a Venom Cannon and Barbed Strangler, 8 Hormagaunts, 14 Termagaunts, and an infiltrating Genestealer Broodlord with Genestealer retinue are here, and they are hungry.

The Chaos Marines include 3 squads of Slaaneshi Marines with those annoying ass noise weapons, a Terminator Lord, a Chaos Spawn, and a Dreadnought with Plasma Cannon.

In what will be a continuous problem, the Dreadnought refuses to roll a 2-5 on its Frenzy chart. This time he decides to shoot his own guys with no casualties.

With the Chaos Spawn blasted by my Hive Tyrant, and one of the Marine Squads eaten by Genestealers (after taking heavy casualties anyhow) they wisely move behind cover. When your Broodlord is old enough to have fought in the 2nd edition days you can be as clever as he is too! You can also see all my helpful reference charts I bring along. Apparently I am the only gamer with a printer.

Now the Dreadnought goes loopy and chases after the old Termagaunts. According to my fancy pants tokens I think my Carnifex destroyed his Plasma anyhow.

The Dreadnought will spend the next few turns killing off a few of these little guys each round like the tasty Skittles brand candy they so resemble.

Apparently the Stealers didn't hide as well as I thought. They take some more Noise weapon casualties. I'm really starting to hate those things!

While the camera makes these guys brighter than they are in person, a flamer really burns their britches! The Broodlord prevails however..

While he takes 2 wounds, he manages to wipe out an entire squad on his own, avenging his little orange buddies! ^_^ He even manages to hurt the Chaos Lord before his weapon finishes "The Eater of Wolves" off. Poor Patriarch! He could handle cheesy arse 2nd edition Space Wolf Terminators, but a Lord from the so called lame Chaos Marine Codex (Lame if you are a powergamer anyhow. Great for everyone else.) takes him down a peg.

Having shaken off whatever effects he had previously, the Dreadnought gets ready to charge my Hive Tyrant!

Who utterly rocks his ass in close combat. I could only imagine what a Tyrant designed for close combat would do!

After shooting the snot out of the Lord, they turn their attentions to the final Chaos Marine Squad, killing them soundly with only 1 little wound to show for it. And looking like big lumps of candy on my camera. I swear they aren't that bright in person. I bet they will look great after this Spring's dipping though.

All in all a fun little battle, mostly won because jacked up 200+ point Tyranid monsters are really hard to kill, especially when 27 point Genestealers and a Broodlord are trying to rip off your tentacles and beat you with it. Though knowing Slaaneshi troops they would enjoy that!

The next battle was a team game 500 points per player. Tyranids & Black Templars vs Ork and Chaos Marine. The lowlights included an Ork Warboss stomping my Hive Tyrant into dust because I ignored him, an Ork Wierdboy tellyportin his squad AWAY from the fight, and a Black Templar Vindicator that never hit anything with its Demolisher cannon which was eventually destroyed. It was dumb silly fun!

Some shots of the battle:


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