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

Friday, July 30, 2010

[AT-43] Preppin for a Demo

The backstory: This week I ran a nice fun demo game of AT 43 down at Arkham Asylum that actually got some interest and notice.

(Oni vs Red Blok.  A classic duel of amoral corporate greed up against communism.  No matter who wins the common man LOSES.)

I used the super rad 2000 point starter boxes for it, and while it was called for time it was overall a really close match.  (I so need to do a review of the starters.  One of the best and smartest deals in minis gaming.  Which Games Workshop doesn't need to do since they have their own zombies.  Of the consumer and marketshare kind.)

So.. with more people wanting to possibly try its better that I prepare an easier to get into group demo game.

I decided to use the Oni 2000 point starter box for the first force.  People seemed to like the idea of exploding suicide zombies and zombie cyborgs whose guns make the dudes they shoot into more exploding zombies.

Well Oni is an amoral corporation whose mercs work for anyone.  (If the zombies didn't give the whole amoral thing away.  Oni is practically Resident Evil's Umbrella Corp!)

I choose to have Oni be in a siege situation against a slightly larger foe, the UNA.  I don't have the UNA starter which I don't think is even out yet, but I use pyAT43 army builder found at the AT 43 forum and build up a quick army.

As the Oni 2000 force has a medium and heavy AFV (armored fighting vehicle) in it, I choose to make the attackers more based around infantry with a trio of the lowest sized AFVs.  Oni has a 2 and 3 star tank.  The UNA forces will have a squad of 3 1 star tanks.  I throw in a bunch of infantry squads, though only half have anti tank capabilities.   Also the UNA have numbers but not quality officers or many special rules to keep things simple.

One important thing in demoing a game is to not overwhelm new players.  Leave some rules out, and others don't worry about unless it comes up in play.

(From back to front: Fire Toad squad with Sgt, Death Dealer Tacarms lead by Lt. Epstone, a squad of  Star Troopers with a Master Sgt and Volcano Cannon, a squad of Shock Troopers with 2 flamers and a Sgt, 2 squads of Steel Troopers, one with medic & mechanic, one without. M Sgt in one, Lt in the other, and a support squad of Steel Trooper Missile Launchers.)

I hadn't based these figures yet, so any models that weren't done now have a nice flocking.  Notice how there looks to be 2 different colors of flock?  Its not.  Its the base paint I slop on and dip into the flock tub.  The darker green ones were Goblin Green, the newer Camo Green.  I honestly have to say I like the Camo better.  In a fit of inspiration and laziness instead of painting the edges with the 2-3 coats it would take I leave them alone except for each squad's officer which got the Camo Green in 2 coats.  (Good old Vallejo paint.  Covers real nice.)  This way everyone can quickly see where the officers are which matter in AT-43 for the purposes of measuring range. The few models that had already gotten edge painting got a black paint pen.  I should go back and hit everything again sometime soon.

But for now, my models are all personalized.  In the unlikely event other AT-43 players show up ( I posted a mention of the game on Facebook and the AT-43 forums) it will be easy to know whose models are mine.  That's a handy tip for you prepainted minis game players.  A nice flocked base is super easy to do and makes it look that much nicer.

So now I have the minis needed packed up into a Plano type case outside of my 3 Fire Toads.  I pulled out my army cards, and the Oni force is just the one that comes in the box.

Now I just need to have a scenario completely set up for Wednesday.

Perhaps something with a number of random tunnel entrances on the board where some of those exploding zombies can pop out of?  Superior numbers only do so much in a siege situation when you can freely send random amounts of zombies with bombs attached to them to pop up out of the ground and then go kablooey...

(If this game had continued the Zombie Guns that turned casualties into zombies would then get to explode next turn and these warriors for the Proletariat were going to be dead.  Imagine the fear of these things popping up out of vents every turn to explode?  Add in Zombie Gun creating them and the UNA players are gonna be on serious edge!)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

[Review Corner] Revel Snap Tite Y Wing Starfighter Model

Yep.  Last week I had a 40% off 1 item coupon from Michaels, which seems to be one of the few stores you can go in and buy model kits from.  While I was hoping to find a nice airbrush, none was to be found.

But for giggles I chose to pick up a Star Wars model kit.  The Y Wing Starfighter!

(As always, click on the picture for a larger one.)

It comes in a pretty hefty box with dimensions of the model, but no scale information.  Its for ages 8 and up, and had an MSRP of 28 dollars US.  With my 40% off I saved 11 and change.  Pricey still, but what the hey?

As a Snap Tite kit it doesn't require glue and given modern people (like me!) being lazy and to ease people into the joys of kit building it even comes prepainted right out of the box.

However, after popping open the box I had a bit of a let down.

Oh dear.  there is a giant bit of cardboard holding the box stable, and 5 plastic baggies containing the sprues, and 2 mini baggies containing the canopy and figurines.

Look at that.  HALF THE BOX IS DEAD SPACE.  It not only takes up a lot of room on a store or home shelf, its wasteful from an environmental standpoint.  Look at all that needless cardboard.  Plus for folks who don't pay much attention to the specs it is somewhat deceptive, making you think its this honking big kit when its full of air.

We see the sprues arrayed here.  The main ship body is a pair of halves with a basic but nice paint job on 2 sprues, 1 mostly unpainted engine sprue, a piece sprue containing some painted bits like the cockpit, 2 of the long frame bit sprues, a baggie containing a simply painted pilot and R5 droid, and another baggie with the painted canopy.  While some minor touch ups will be needed, most of the sprue gates aren't near something that was prepainted at the factory.

One thing to note is the main color is a form of very light beige or a light cream color.  Painters need to keep this in mind.  Thankfully when removed from the sprue the sanding and scraping don't really leave big scarring marks.

Overall, assembly and fit was pretty good.  Shown here is an example page of the 3 actual pages of assembly (its only 31 pieces after all!) and the model built stock with the tools I used.  A little Ogryn Flesh wash to the pilot's face, some black paint pen for the pilot's seat from the sprue gate, and the pliers & vise to hold down some parts.  I did use model cement in a few spots to make things fit better and to fill in the few gaps there were.  The only really heavy gap space though is the 2 large flat wing sections that connect to the engines, and the rear of the engines themselves.  You may want to use model cement and then hold it down with some small vises like the one shown.  A little putty could come in handy as well, but some cement or gap filling superglue does just as well.

I ended up chopping off most of the pins on the back of the engine pylons and just gluing the aft exhausts on the small nubs left.  It makes for a tighter and smoother fit than pure pins.

You may also want to chop the pin off of the pilot's butt and just glue him in.

The instructions were pretty clear and simple, though a few pieces are numbered though they are but in a baggie.  But with only 31 parts and mostly big obvious ones, these few were easy to suss out.

I kind of regret not using some clear nail polish on the Ion Cannon mount up on the top of the cockpit as it does spin around kind of easily, but not so easily as to make it constantly wobble unless you are flying it around the house.

While sadly the camera doesn't show it too well, I used a yellow Gundam Marker to spot fix the yellow on the front of the engines where the sprue gate interfered, and a panel inking Gundam Marker to do up the cockpit panels with some Q Tip wipedown.  The file was used in the build up.  I forgot that one to show in a previous picture.

Overall, to this easy point took me maybe 90 minutes, possibly a little longer as I was filing and sanding and using some cement.  A kid or more casual builder could probably build it up and have it still look pretty good in around an hour or so.

But for the price you may as well take your time.

One disappointing thing is the fighter HAS NO LANDING GEAR.  Not even removable ones.  No display stand either.  Thankfully its a pretty flat ship so it displays fine as well, but for the price its a real shame.

I chose to add in an extra step and give the whole model a paint wash using Badab Black Citadel Wash.

I lightly swabbed over it, then used the Q Tip to wipe things down a bit.  Here we see it brings the front of the machine to life, and doesn't interfere with the panel inking at all.  In the body, it really brings the machine to life.  The reference picture I used for painting at Wookiepedia (a Star Wars wiki) had it being brown and dirty, something the "Holy Trilogy" ships usually all were.  I have seen some Y Wing paint jobs at Starship Modeler that really get into making these ships look beaten down.  For the front I brushed in one direction instead of wiping in every which way, making it feel like the ship has gotten dirty flying through smog or some volcanic planet.

It took a little bit more time to cover the engines, but they are done too, and the model is complete.

We can see the pilot inside, and the R5 unit removed from the ship, and sadly fallen over.

Next to them is a Star Wars Miniatures 30-32mm scale R2D2, an old West End Games era 25mm scale Boba Fett, and a Galoob Action Fleet scale figure.

Given these figures we can see the ship model can be used as a "good enough for government work" terrain piece for the current Star Wars Miniatures game.  (Well its cancelled now but the figures and boosters are still available...)  It may not work for a diorama to enter in a contest, but you would probably be using a higher grade model such as those by Fine Molds.

The R5 unit is about 10-11 millimeters tall, making it loosely a 25mm scale figure as an R5 unit is canonically (again according to Wookiepedia) .97 meters tall.  R2 is a bit bigger and bulkier than him, but not by so much it would look too out of place in your miniatures gaming.  The pilot on the other hand looks to be more of a 20mm scale figure.  Maybe he is just kind of short.

(Thanks to the commenters for the catch on my Metric failure.  I blame the US education system.  Especially my local school which keeps wanting more money every year but still turns out retards like me.)

A look from the side and a handy ruler in the shot.  Officially the model is 8 5/8th inches long and almost 5 inches wide.  I would say the ship is about 1:72 scale overall.  But given some of my older non prepainted Snap Tite real world aircraft models, they aren't perfectly exact in scale either.  (If I ever cover those kits I will compare pilot figures for the example.)

And finally a shot of the butt.  You can't much see it in the photo, but the most visible gap in the model is on the rear of those engines.  Its got a nice simple color prepainted in there, but it actually makes things more noticeable.   I used some cement to seal things up and put some wash in there to hide any glue discoloration.  Also make note of the rear engine exhausts in the back.  The instructions aren't completely clear as to what the big panel orientation is supposed to be, horizontal or vertical.  I just guessed based on how they showed the pieces displayed in the instructions as there was no clear shot of them on the box.

So overall the kit has nice detail, relatively easy assembly outside of a few minor gaps and those funny engine pylons, and in around 3 hours total work looks mighty good even for a casual model and paint guy like myself.  Its large enough to be useful in miniatures gaming and RPG scenarios, and the prepainted bits do a good job of even giving an elementary school kid a fun kit to learn on as their first step past some of the modern easy models that just need a screwdriver.

However the price really hits this one down.  This kit is SOOOO not worth 28 dollars.  I would say 15 bucks is a better and more reasonable price for this.

If you want a quick build Y Wing with good detail, or a kit to bring someone into the modeling fold its pretty nice.

But given the price I can only give the kit an "Ok" rating overall.  So wait for the price to drop to at least 20, and if you see it for 10 on a clearance rack snap it up!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

[Connecticon 2010 Week] CTCon Week Part 5: Art Stuff!

Yes its more Connecticon wrap up stuff.  Another gaming day down the toilet thanks to cancellation without notification means I have a bit of spare time to catch up on my blogging backlog.  (That only Chinese spammers seem to actually look at.  If you count commenting on a blog with MODERATOR APPROVAL with spam that won't ever actually reach anyone as looking mind you.)

So after the personal sin against me double threat of wasting my time and getting my hopes up, posting some nicey artsy stuff from the Con seems a good way to whittle some time down.

(Though in this case it wasn't an intentional thing.  My opponent wrecked his bike in the morning (with the scars to prove it.) and had a test the next morning.  He was incredibly apologetic about the whole thing.)

But anyhow.

The "Artist's Colony" as it is known is an evolution of the "Artist's Alley" thing at many nerd conventions. These days with some people making a decent income off of their artistic endeavors some of them are even in the main "Dealer's Room" of a convention where those of us with fiscal irresponsibility (like me this year OH GOD) can spend even more cash.

The evolution from alley to colony has to do with how they have evolved.  If you are familiar with Etsy, an online store where people can sell their handmade products, the colony has sort of become like that.

At these little tables sellers bring their wares, do commissions, and just generally talk shop.

Here is Artgobbo's:

I would say his table was a little atypical as there wasn't much anime related, nor was there a ton of cheesecake/beefcake type pictures.

(Like his neighbors.  One of which I have already mentioned how skeevy the dude was.)

I rarely buy much from the colony directly as paying money for fanart isn't always my bag.  However many bring along reasonably priced prints.  It took me being both behind, to the side, and in front of Artgobbo's table off and on for three days before I noticed a print I wanted, making it my final purchase of the con:

The blurriness is intentional.  Artgobbo is another of the many victims of Outlaw Press and its pilfering of artists that was so bad and inexcusable they lost their license to provide supplemental products for Tunnels & Trolls.  (I would actually review the 2 products I bought from OP a few short weeks before his art thefts became known but it would be like stomping a man while he is down.  I may be a dork, a nerd, a ragey douchebag, but I try to have some class!)

Obviously these are some hunters of bountying from a galaxy that is off in the distance or something.

Its a shame he didn't have some of his black and white art on display.  The stuff is REALLY good.  His animal wildlife art is fantastic, though he usually does the more cartoony style above.

Some may say OMG FURRY, but its in the same vein as Redwall and Mouse Guard which are only tangentially the same thing.  As far as we know he doesn't draw humanoid animals doin each other or whatever other things Furfreaks are into these days.

(And if you are Artgobbo?  IT IS TIME FOR AN INTERVENTION.)

He also does some neat handmade leather works.  Here is one of his masks I found really awesome:

That's pretty impressive to me.  Worked leather with hand textured paint.  He had eyepatches and some masks that could easily be quick to remove faces for LARP play.  Why wear icky makeup or some suffocating rubber mask when a nice leather one can suffice?  Plus easier to remove if you go run down to the mini mart.

In the main dealer hall there was also David Willis of http://shortpacked.com/ a rather nifty webcomic about toys, and the ex alien fighters and other assorted crazies who collect and sell them.

(I apologize that Mr Willis and his gal were cut from the shot.  I am sure you can see shots of them at his site.)

The picture here shows a cool commission I had him do.  Amber of his comic dressed as an Adeptus Sororitas from Warhammer 40K.  I got one of those bumper stickers too.

Sadly he probably would not have looked too fondly upon me if I had attempted to procure his Botcon exclusive Shattered Glass Ravage.

Yet one cool thing many webcomics and comic artists do if you buy their books there?

(The newest collection of Shortpacked.  With an awesome homage to GI Joe.  Appropriately Shipwreck is the gay guy of the cast.  He likes Batman.  BATMAN CAN BREATHE IN SPACE.)

Well, they tend to throw sketches in their books.  And whose heart is so hard they would not want a Mirror Universe Ravage the Cassette Kitty who goes from a dark skulking spy to an adorably happy, chatty LOLCat?

Not me sir or madam.  Not me.  Its Ravage.  Look at him.  Can you see him waving?  Can you also see him laugh as you hunt for him on Ebay where he and the other part of a 10-13 dollar mass market toy go for 100 dollars as a convention exclusive with a different paintscheme?

You probably can. :(

And in case you wanted a more close up picture of Amber as one of the Emperor's pryromaniac French Space Nuns here it is, albeit still with some coverage to keep people from getting a good printable version:

(Amber.  Not only a cute nerd girl.  But now quite possibly one of the only people in any form of Warhammer 40K art that is actually smiling that isn't an Ork or a servant of the Chaos god of Sex, Drugs, and Rock n Roll.  And let's face it the latter are smiling because something else is about to be doing anything but, usually getting a new orifice in the process.)

So if you ever get to go to a nerd con, take some time out to visit the webcomic artists, the pro artists, and the colony artists.  Buy some stuff and maybe even help support their future efforts.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Retro Video Game Video Part 1. A Quick Overview and Introduction

While those of us in these modern enlightened times have access to our Component and HDMI for videogame and disk based filmic bliss, in the previous days we had lesser options.

I will be doing a quick overview of the middle 3 with an example right now.
(Its late and I probably should just wait till Monday.  Ill add in some more pictures and stuff then so if you really want, wait for Monday and read it again then or something.)

See, when making a run to Gamestop last week, they had this little Legacy S Video/Composite cable thingie designed to let your PS1, X Box, and N64/Gamecube systems run with S Video instead of the generally lower quality RF or Composite.

Back in the day our game systems and computers used RF modulators, usually hooked into a VHF switchbox which was the absolute WORST in terms of video quality and fidelity.

Then many TVs started coming "Cable Ready" and no longer required a 300 ohm converter you screwed into your VHF/UHF antenna screws that your Coaxial RF modulator or Cable.. cable screwed into.

So you ended up with a picture sort of like this with your late 80s/early 90s consoles:

While the above is from a widescreen 32" TV taken with a camera with the flash off, it sort of gives you the idea.

(The game itself is the sublime "UN Squadron" for the Super Nintendo.)

There is lots of bleed, and the only benefit is the natural pixel smoothing that is going on.

But then this late 80s RF box malarkey wasn't good enough.  In the 90s it was not just time for Klax.  It was also time for Composite to become the king, and sadly, still the default video hook up you get with even systems that should come with Component or HDMI.

Notice how in general the color bleed is lessened?  Composite made things a bit better overall, taking our video from a single screwed cable connection into 3 cables, 2 for stereo sound, and 1 for video.

It helped, and on the normal standard definition TVs of the day it was pretty much A OK.

But for those of you with higher quality TVs the 90s also had a nichier option, one many consoles even of the day did not have support for unless you did it yourself.

S-Video!  This connection used the circular "DIN" type plugs with multiple pins so many computer products used.  For some older game systems this is the best you get as they never supported anything better.

Look at how sharp and CRISP everything is, even just taken as a photograph.  You can see individual pixels and whatnot.  Its the best you can get for many classic machines.  Luckily for me, the SNES, N64, and Gamecube all used the same video output port so my universal video cable I got for a whopping 13 dollars lets all 3 machines play as good as they can on my HDTV.

Sadly in this modern TV world many of our older systems look god awful on them.  While we can run to emulation and just get video perfection on our computer monitors nothing beats playing on a real machine, and if you actually care about playing your games legally, in many cases its the only way certain games can be played.

Hopefully next week I can continue this series with a few more examples, some pictures of various games and systems on different outputs, and maybe even give a few recommendations of where to find the best video cables for your machines.

A great game doesn't stop being fun because its old.

But like a classic car, running it in tip top shape is the best way to do it!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

[Connecticon 2010 Week] CTCon Week Part 4: Cosplayers

Yep.  Today we cover the Cosplayers, which is weeaboo speak for Costume Players.  Aka "People dressing up in stuff".

Some folks do it for the attention.  Others because they love whatever character they are dressing up as.  Some because its a damn challenge of sewing and creativity to get a good rendition of a movie, tv show, videogame, or cartoon character.

Sadly due to a Hard Drive crash all my Connection 09 Cosplay pictures are gone, but we at least have this year's to show you.

Now as to the pictures I took?

I had various requirements.  Have a cool outfit was a big one.  Be available for a picture at the time I noticed and wanted to take it.  (I don't like bothering people and some really cool ones I saw but not when it was convenient to take the shot for either of us.)  Not be something stupid I don't like.

As we will see my pictures weren't just to get shots of cute women in sexy outfits.   There was some assclown in the Artist Colony pretty much who seemed to have his stall open as a place to grab pictures of young women in scantily clad outfits in the skeeviest poses he could convince them to do.

I hope his camera broke.  Pervert.

Anyhow, on to the pictures.

(And as an aside to ALL my Connecticon 2010 posts:  If you are in any of the pictures over any of these articles and do not want your face used, please feel free to contact me and have some reasonable proof it is you, and I will edit the picture and blur your face out.  While I am being a bit punchy in these installments it is NOT my intention to cause any undue discomfort or negative attention towards you unless you were being a tool and thus deserve my ire.  And even then you don't deserve to have your face displayed on my blog with mocking commentary.)

(Here we have a group of "Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" cosplayers and somebody from "Death Note" doing the opening credits dance from said show with Melancholy.)

(These are some really awesome Ghostbusters at a booth promoting an active Ghostbusters club in the region, similar to what the 501st does for Star Wars.  I didn't feel like bugging them for a cool shot, and honestly the detail on their backpacks needs to be seen anyhow.)

(This dude had a KICK ASS Riddler from Batman.  Cool guy too!  He beat me at the Pirate Munchkin game.  And I was so close to winning too.  Well played Mr. Nigma.  Well played.)

(This nice lady was cosplaying as Quistis from Final Fantasy 8.  Alongside Selphie, she is cosplaying one of the two things about that game that almost made that utter abortion of a JRPG bearable.  What it says about me that the schoolteacher with a whip and the nunchaku wielding girl in a "Gogo" 60s style outfit are the only things I liked about said game perhaps should be left unsaid...)

(While sort of blurry and I humbly apologize for failures as a photographer with a 7.1 megapixel camera you can now get in a box of Cracker Jacks, these guys were pretty cool.  Cosplaying as classic green Army Men toys?  THAT RULES.)

(That is an awesome Beetlejuice in the center.  The undead Samurai to the right is a pretty unique idea.  Sadly, we have a furry in the picture.  Oh well.  I didn't want to be a jerk and tell him to get his freaky butt out of my picture.  For as we all know the Furry deserves but one fate.  The fate our most holy God Emperor on Terra decrees for the Mutant, the Heretic, and the Unclean.  The fate meted out by holy Bolter and blessed Chainsword...)

(This fine lookin lass is probably playing someone from an anime or console game, but to me it looks like Alice from "American Mc'Gee's Alice", which has Alice of Wonderland fame wrecking face and going on a most righteous killing spree.  Either way we have someone covered in blood with a cool look and a bloody machete.  AWESOME.)

(This gang looked great!  Apparently they are bad guys from the Kingdom Hearts series known as the Heartless.  They went for a groovy "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" group pose that is really neat.  The costume work looks good, and I SO respect people willing to wear such warm outfits in the middle of a high 80s-low 90s Connecticut heat wave.  I was sweating merely wearing a backpack.  I can only imagine what they were going through!)

(Remember kids, ALWAYS BET ON DUKE to... never actually come out with a sequel to the 1996 DOS hit.  I'm not quite sure where the unicycle comes into play though.)

(Here we have one of the many 10th Doctor "Doctor Who" cosplayers, this sadly being the only one I got a shot of.  But he even has the Sonic Screwdriver and the 3d glasses Tennant used in one episode.  Must be that wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff in action.  There were even a few 11 Doctors out too.   I apologize for not getting more of yall playing the LAST TIMELORD in picture form.)

(Here we have this cool to talk to lass playing what I think is Chii from some CLAMP show about walking girl robots whose power switch is in their groinal area.  I don't like CLAMP stuff so I dunno for sure.  But her costume ROCKS and she was a cool person and thus she joins the picture crew.)

(Its Rogue from the X Men, and one of the older outfits everyone's favorite mutant southern belle wore, and honestly probably the one I like her in the most.  So our subject has class and comics knowledge.  Well done and kudos!)

(A cast of Sailor Moon cosplayers.  I think they are doing their outfits from a later season.  I am not sure but I stopped watching since there comes a point in any nerd's life when one wonders why one is watching a show about high school girls fighting evil in short skirts and one should probably not be watching such a show.  That being said its cool because there is a lot of work that must have went into their outfits and its a mid 90s show.  Not as old school as say Macross or Space Cruiser Yamato, but its nice to see folks dressing up as something they clearly care about instead of the latest flavor of the week.)

(Its Hit Girl from KICK ASS, one of the cooler movies I have seen this year, though by all reports the comic it is based on is a joyless miserable mess as is the writer (Mark Millar) is wont to write.  Hit Girl was hilarious in the movie, and its a neat choice.  Rock!)

(ITS GIANT HELLO KITTY!  This cosplayer was pretty much in character both days I saw them.  Why am I fistbumping the HK?  Well see there are many doofuses at these nerd cons carrying signs saying "FREE HUGS" as a form of attention whoring/excuse to feel people up in a legal manner.  I think this is stupid even though I could probably use a good hug from time to time.  Well, I choose to change the game and hope anyone out there reading this does the same.  Let us end the FREE HUG and turn it into FISTBUUUUUMP!  If nothing else it will confuse the beejesus out of these hug people when you fistbump them in a sign of Nerd Brotherhood.  LETS DO THIS SHEET!)

And since there are all these fine folks who took a minute or so out of their fun day of probably sweating like a pig in the outfit they spent dozens of hours putting together AND being willing to get pictured and possibly lusted over/mocked on the Internet by people of cruel or deviant dispostions I shall post myself as I was 18 years ago cosplaying as a member of the Navy:


Oh wait.  I really was in the Navy.  Even though I look freaking TWELVE in that picture.  This is what not having the sorts of underaged drinking and smoking "fun" people with happier albeit unhealthier high school experiences does to ya.  Clean (ish) living does have a use after all.  

Someone go back in time and tell me to run from my nerdy existence while I still can ok?  I guess I did get some horrible stories of people and some valuable life and work experience out of it all..

Thanks for reading and anyone who happens to be in the pictures feel free to say hi!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

[Connecticon 2010 Week] CTCon Week Part 3: Ultimate Werewolf

Continuing my blogging of Connecticon 2010 events is something I played in Saturday Night/Sunday morning.

A Werewolf/Mafia game.  In this case, Ultimate Werewolf which adds a TON of specialist cards as opposed to just the simpler amount of player types in norma Mafia and Werewolf games.

And it sort of needed it as we had nearly 30 players in one game.  At 2-3 AM.

Some background:  See the convention center charges entirely too much to allow for 24 hours in the center.  The first year the convention was at the center (my first year going and the first year the convention center itself was opened) it was 24 hours but there were lots of charges that ended that.

(And nearly ended the convention itself.)

However last year at least they added plenty of things in the Marriott hotel ballrooms and meeting rooms which helped.  Like the ever popular rave and such which keeps some convention fun going past midnight though to a smaller scale.

So this year the overnight gaming room which was somewhat sparsely populated last year (and a fine place to hear lots of con staffer gossip) actually had some big action this year with a fellow running Werewolf there.  I got into the last game of the night which was pretty huge.

If you do not know how the Werewolf type games work here is the basics:

You are in some small rustic community.  Something evil killed an NPC.  Each night the evil chooses to kill someone new while various mystics try to figure out who is the evil.  During the day everyone votes on who they think is one of the evil beings and then that person is either killed or survives another night.

The night time stuff is done by everyone putting their heads down and eyes closed with the Game Master telling Player Role X to open their peepers and do whatever it is they can do.

See at the game start, everyone is dealt a role card face down.  Hiding this information is crucial, especially in larger games where there are multiple evil beings.

There are cards like the Seer which can choose to look at a card to see what they are and the like.

Ultimate Werewolf adds in tons of new roles such as the Tanner who hates his job so much he WANTS to die, the Frankenstein which gets the abilities of any role he can kill, and the Pacifist who isn't allowed to vote to kill anyone.

(Here is the starting game picture with as many possible people as I could in the game in the shot.  It was such a massive game a few folks still got cut out.  You can see my face down card in the lower right corner.)

I had the good fortune to draw the Tanner, meaning my victory condition was to get myself killed.  I did so by seconding the nomination to have a player killed then voting for them to live, abstaining from votes, and not doing a very good job defending myself the first time I came up for extermination.

(Here is from later on, a round or two after I was killed, officially winning the game, me doing Devil Horn hand gestures in memory of Dio.  You can see not many people are left in this corner.  There were so many of us the GM had some trouble keeping everyone quiet, especially some of the numbskulls who were dead yet making commentary on everything that could bork up the game.  The person most of you are probably looking at in this photo tried to help keep folks on task, yelling "SHUT YOUR WHORE MOUTHS".  I found this incredibly hot.  I'm just sayin'!)

Thanks to my mad skills at being a straight man and keeping my poker face (no relation to Lady Gaga thankfully!) I was the main winner but they kept playing to see if the Werewolves or the other various classes got their objective.  

It was neat how we all got some light roleplaying at introducing ourselves.  We had 2 people saying they were our moms, 2 merchants (I called them Wal Mart and Target), I claimed to be the town Druid, and lots of various funny bits.  If there had been a second game I probably would have said I was Gordon Ramsay, and tell people to get out of my kitchen, their food was RAAAWW, and calling them all DONKEYS.

(Here you can see the surviving werewolf who won the game if we ignore my awesome victory choosing his victim for the night.  The people with their heads down are players not killed off yet.  In a show of good taste, both of the Naruto fans were early victims and are thus heads up watching the proceedings which is sometimes more fun than still being in the game as you get to chuckle at all the silly mayhem and stupid antics you were once a part of, but now know the real score.)

I have to say if you ever have a chance to play in a big Werewolf/Mafia game it is a lot of fun, and a great party game that anyone can learn or pick up super fast.  Ultimate Werewolf is probably the biggest version yet which adds in a lot more complexity, but also allows for massive games such as this you really cannot get outside of a convention environment.

Thanks to everyone in the game it was a good time!

[Connecticon 2010 Week] CTCon Week Part 2: Dwarven Forge Sci Fi Passage Set Review

Following up from yesterday's blog post, here is my short review of the other set I got as an entirely too generous birthday gift, the Sci Fi Passage Set from Dwarven Forge.  Like the last one, its 49 bucks MSRP on the box.  But its an old box that was clearanced out so the normal price increases ala GW probably have happened.  I could go check but I don't wanna right now.  I'm off the antidepressants right now and still haven't made up all the lost sleep from the convention and week previous.

I am too bleh to put that much work into.  And once you see the mostly horribly out of focus pictures you will understand.  I promise I have better pictures and content from Connecticon 2010 later on this week or month.

Yes, CT Con 2010 Week is really "CT Con 2010: Adventures in milking this content for while".

Sorry new readers from Spoony Experiment.  If you were expecting the kind of audiovisual quality the TGWTG.com crew provide you on a weekly basis from me, you will be sorely disappointed.  Like if you are looking for a fork.  But its free entertainment and information so there.

But let's get this one done, shall we?

Much like the Fantasy set, its got felt bottoms and packed in the styrofoam for a nicely protected, heavy, space taking up product:

As we can see, its got lots of lovely detail and its all nicely painted.  Each of the little squares is an inch, meaning the current sized Warhammer 40K Terminators on their large bases pretty much take up a block of four.

(This poorly focused picture (all the better to hide my poorly painted models!) shows some of the pieces connected to one another and various sizes of sci fi minis doing some ridiculous conga line thing: An AT 43 UNA Steel Tac Arm, the current sized 40K Space Marine Terminator, current sized 40K Assault Space Marine, 40K Rogue Trader era Techmarine, Star Wars miniature Mon Calamari Medic, old Epic Keeper of Secrets, old Epic Land Raider tank, and old Epic Daemonette of Slaanesh.   (Epic stuff is 6mm scale to the rest's 25-32.) )

Also as we can tell, even the OUTSIDE of the passages is painted with lots of color.   What may be a good or bad thing to you is there are no little hourglass tie pins in this Science Fiction set, but the fit between parts is not exactly seamless.

(An angled shot to give you a height perspective and to show the edge detail as best as the blurry picture allows.  What?  I should turn on multiple lights in the house for this?  That would require getting up for a second and I am in those post con blues feelings right now.)

(This picture shows a T intersection next to a Space Hulk 3rd edition T intersection tile.  Also I have 3 Generations of plastic Space Marine Terminators as an extra comparison.  Left to right: V3 Space Hulk Terminator Captain, 40K Battle for Black Reach Terminator with a glued on Missile Launcher, and V2 Space Hulk Terminator with Heavy Flamer.  Only 2 of the models are actually painted to any degree.)

Notice how much larger the Dwarven Forge piece is, and how its squares are a little bit smaller than V3 Space Hulk's.  However the Space Hulk pieces are far lighter, portable, and cheaper.  To do 1-3rd ed Space Hulk with these sorts of high end terrain sets would probably cost you over 500 dollars and take up an enormous amount of real estate.  I guess if you are running the same sort of prostitution ring/meth lab/evil terrorist organization determined to rule the world that folks like these guys who buy thousand dollar plus action figures do, it would probably be worth it because the terrain looks DAMNED COOL.

However much like the previous review, I can only give it an OK rating for the same reason.  

Its expensive.  
Its heavy.
It takes up a ton of space.
It can kind of get in the way of actually PLAYING a game, especially if you have clumsy players.

But if you have the cash, or happen to be a smokin hot chick who could probably get your fans/playgroup to buy you stuff go for it.  

Me on the other hand?

I will pretty much just stick to cardboard tilesets, though the terrain sets from these reviews will get used when I can find uses for them.  Scenery backdrops, my dumb photocomics, centerpieces of a given game scenario.

But again like the Fantasy set, if places sold the pieces individually (roughly 5-15 dollars an element I would surmise) I would probably pick up more at my local game stores if I had some extra money on me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

[Connecticon 2010 Week] CTCon Week Part 1: Dwarven Forge Fantasy Starter Set Review

Yeah folks.  Connecticon has given me a plethora of new things to put to this here blog.  From product reviews to another one of my stupid photocomics showing stuff going on at the convention.

To keep my sanity and to increase my postcount, I will be breaking it up into nice reasonable chunks.

Today we start with part of Drew's birthday gift to me.  2 sets of (discounted to an amount he refuses to tell me) Dwarven Forge terrain.

(The two sets Drew kindly got me.  Today we cover the Fantasy set.)

See Dwarven Forge terrain is pretty much the BMW of miniatures/RPG gaming terrain.  The Rolex.  The "your favorite stupidly priced elite consumer item here".  Its HORRENDOUSLY expensive.  This set I will show you was MSRPed at 49 dollars.  While as we will see its nice, I don't think it is worth that much, but as in all my reviews, I hope I will give you enough information to make up your own mind.

Sorry gang.  I am not Fox News.  I tell you what I think, not what you want to hear.

(Looking right at you Lock n Load games fanboys!)

The terrain comes in a nice sturdy cardboard box with styrofoam as the bottom part of the box and the protector of your overpriced gaming status symbol.  I will also note here that these boxes are HEAVY.  I had marks in my arms from the shopping bag they were in when I slid it up my arm so I could open doors and the like to get it back to my room for the day!

(What you get inside.  It looks lovely, but its not exactly going to make a full dungeon.  Or even more than 1 or 2 rooms.)

But to summarize the contents:  you get 6 corner walls with floors, 3 flat walls with floors, 2 diagonal floors with flat walls, a bunch of hourglass like locking pins, 4 2 by 2 inch floor pieces, 2 diagonal floor pieces, and 2 opening doors.

Sadly on my very long on the shelf copy one of the doors was damaged so it only opens partially and the bottom of it is cracked and 2 of the felt bottoms have fallen off.  A little disappointing, but the set has been in a game store for probably 7-10 YEARS and probably been schlepped to multiple conventions before MagicDrew bought it for me.  I could probably ask Dwarven Forge themselves for a replacement door, but its not really worth the effort.

The pieces otherwise are VERY nice looking and are all excellently painted with a nice bit of felt on the bottom.  You can assemble the parts any way you want, and the hourglass locking pins are loose enough  so you could jiggle things a bit to make for a bit more flexibility, plus it gives some ease in taking them out.  The pins aren't even all that needed unless you or your gamegroup are full of people more known for knocking over battlefields than conquering them.

You could probably use your favorite cardstock floorplans with this stuff though there is a good quarter inch of height to the terrain.  Either ignore it, use the Dwarven Forge stuff for raised areas, or maybe even buy some foamcore or plasticard and mount your cardboard stuff on that to make it all even.

(An elite ONI Sniper hottie helps an Elf ranger on his quest to stop an evil Chaos Sorcerer from summoning eldritch horrors.  Apparently a holy man from Rokugan has used his magic to come and convince the Sorcerer to stop.  Is the Mythos allying itself with the Shadowlands and the Chaos Gods?  And where DO hot amoral sniper women working for evil corporations get off (on me hopefully.  OH GOD SO LONELY) on trying to stop their dark designs?   Oh wait.  Lawyers and anybody with an MBA are far more vile and evil than any tentacled monstrosities that are dead but not dreaming.)

Here we can see a setup using almost every piece in the set other than the hourglass pins.  (Outside of 1 for an example.  Its behind the Heroquest Skeleton.)  It makes for a nice little set good for a centerpiece or something.  Or even as a backdrop to take photos of your painted fantasy minis.

For scale showing I have (going left to right): A 30-32 mm miniature from AT 43.  A 30 mm metal D&D 3.0 era mini.  A 28mm Hero Quest Skeleton.  2 different smaller sized 25mm scale D&D 3.5-4.suck minis.  Another 28mm Hero Quest miniature.  And a 20-25mm scale Arcane Legions miniature.

I threw in some Hero Quest and some Cthulhu scenery I got as well.  Note that the door pieces from this set rest on top of the regular floor pieces and are about as wide as each flat wall section.  If you want to get fancy with the corner pieces you might not be able to fit them in without there being a gap.  The small Hero Quest doors work excellently here where as in the picture in a normal open space they are a tad too small.

(A close in shot of the terrain and the lovely paint applications.  The scenery not my prime and ignore Skeleton.  Or: "I sacrificed my beloved dog to the Dark Gods and all I got was this floating midget".)

Overall I am pretty impressed with this stuff.  However it is heavy.  It takes up a lot of space.  It is EXPENSIVE.

On my Good / Ok / Bad scale I can only give it an Ok rating with all things considered.  For the price of this tiny set you could buy FIVE sets of Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Tile sets which would give you way more flexibility, tons more pieces, and gobs more portability for about the same cost.  Plus you don't have to worry about it breaking when the CATS OF CHAOS attack, and its a little less stressful if your Donut loving player's chubby chocolate covered fingers touch some cheap cardboard that you can easily scan to use anyhow.

If this set was 25 I would give it a good rating in spite of its weight and space requirements.  Will I buy more of this?  Well... if I see it ever on sale any place or I can buy single pieces here and there I probably will.  But to say make major purchases from the company itself?

The Magic 8 Ball probably would say "outcome doubtful".

However if you have more money than me (and aren't interested in giving it to me or adopting a 36 year old nerd who talks too much) go to http://www.dwarvenforge.com/ and check it out for yourself.  Going by what little individual parts they sell, they charge about 3-6 dollars per element above based on size and complexity.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I'm Internet Famous. Sorta.


For those of you who have been reading me for a while, you might have remembered my little quickie tribute and overview of the Ultima series I did back in 09:  http://wargamedork.blogspot.com/2009/08/little-bit-about-ultima-electronic-rpg.html

Well Noah A. of The Spoony Experiment fame used my little Shrine to Ultima picture in his video about the series.  http://spoonyexperiment.com/2010/07/04/ultima-0-akalabeth/#comments .

Watch at the 54 second mark or so, and again later on.

I am sadly not credited, but hopefully my friendly email asking for this to be rectified will correct it.

I do enjoy the guy's stuff, especially since his rather amusing "Gamers Rant on Movies" column in Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine was really funny even when I totally disagreed with everything he said about a given movie.

(I will post an update here in the next week or so when its corrected.   AND IT WAS.  In under 12 hours or so no less.  So if any Spoony Experiment people have shown up hiyas!  Someone in the IRC channel I frequent (#tinypewtermen on irc.synirc.net) said he knew him back in their high school days and that he was good people.  He was right.  So thank you kindly good sir!)

It was probably found from my posting of it in the RPGCodex Ultima Let's Play thread that is credited.

I love me some Ultima, and even if RPGCodex is full of people so cranky about electronic RPGs I sometimes think its a form of performance art, its STILL one of the few non weeaboo eRPG forums on the web.  So it got posted there, also as a form of nerd cred so the Codexians can't just discount my DARING to enjoy Fallout 3 on its own merits as me being some "contard" as they call it.

Hell, I am playing Eye of the Beholder on an ACTUAL DOS PC.  My first DOS PC no less.

I'll be doing a little talking about playing old PC games pretty soon.   If it stops being 100 degrees outside anyhow.  I have more Warlords 2 and Commander Keen to play!

But also consider this post a welcome for any Spoony Experiment readers who come to take a looksee at my blog!

I mostly talk about tabletop RPGs and wargames but do stray into the electronic side of things from time to time.  I enjoy talking and discussing stuff with folks so feel free to go back and read my backlog, though it really doesn't start being more than just boring trip reports till around June 08 or so.

Important edit as of 22 Jun 12:
Given the recent misogynistic comments and hateful Twitter posts from Spoony, I would like to say that I do not in any, way, shape, or form endorse his recent actions and behavior.

You DO NOT talk that way to people, especially to women in that manner.  Rape and misogyny is sadly an all too real problem and sadly seems to almost always have been.  To joke about it in such a way is really unacceptable, especially when others in fact say they find it as such.

In general I would recommend NOT going to Spoony Experiment or watching anything he creates.  It is clear he has some demons to work out right now and nobody should be encouraging him or harassing him at the moment.  He should be getting help and learning what things he did that were wrong so he can improve as a person.

We ALL can learn from mistakes and be better.  I hope sometime in the future to come back to this post and say this is true and he has fixed himself up.
End edit.

New Edit 12 Apr 13:
From what I understand the fellow above HAS gotten himself straightened out quite a bit and I hope he continues this.


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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/