Sunday, July 26, 2009

Twilight of the soul

Yesterday I ran a multi-player event for WARMACHINE at the Shoppe. Since I've been out most of the past few months, the participation level was low, however the folks that did show up seemed to like the format. It was a 375 point lists (One request for 375 points and he didn't show... I'm eyeing you Joe!) with four players, all against all combat. You got points for holding the center, killing stuff, and doing power attacks.

Phillip got of to a strong start when nobody challenged him for the center on the first game and he wracked up some mega points. Lots of destroyed solos and jacks on the board which makes for a fun day. Changes for next time (Part of a slow grow/paint and play for MkII) will be a change in the points. Power Attacks will be bumped to five points and the hold the circle may drop to 10.

Afterwards I was asked to sit in on a game of Twilight Imperium for as a farewell for one of the Shoppe's owners' friend. I had 'tried' to play TI several years ago, but didn't get very far as we were all trying to figure it out. Having a few expert players helped make the process smoother. It is a fairly complex game on the basic setting, can't imagine if you crank in the optional advanced rules. There are some similarities between TI and the Space Attack! that I'm building on the side. TI uses a variable phase, but forces players to each pick one, while Space Attack allows players to pick the same or different. Combat is a bit simpler as well. The set resources for the planets in TI also limits the game's replay, even though you randomly place planets (sort of), they are always the same, while I hope that Space Attack! will use different systems every time you play. I also hope that Space Attack! plays a snot loads quicker.

All in all it was a good game. I had to bail at 1130, we started around 430ish... We were on turn four I think. :)

Imperium of the toes

Friday, July 24, 2009

On your mark, get set, Race!

Fellow Galactic Feigns,

I am finally getting a chance to discuss the new Race for the Galaxy expansion, Rebel Vs. Imperium.

Short Version:

It is a great expansion that adds a lot of new items, most of them excellent, some of them middle of the road. A must buy for a RftG addict.

Long Version:

RvI adds in several new functions in the game, mostly through inventive mechanics to existing game play. First up, the game expands, allowing upto six players. The new player cards are a nice purple color with some interesting aliens.

To accommodate the new player numbers, the developers have added three more home worlds, giving the game a total of 12. First up is the Rebel Cantina. A few interesting items with this home world. It is the only non-military Rebel world and it gives you the ability from the Contact Specialist, but with out the negative. This allows a rebel strategy sans the military. Reinforcing that is the Production special that gives you a card for every rebel world in your tableau.

Galactic Developers is the next home world. For a starting card it might seem weak, but the free draw on any development, stacked with the other nice development cards in the deck and you can quickly earn more cards on a development then you spend. Using the right <6> cards and you hit the Jackpot.

Finally is the Impeirum Warlord, not the best name for a 'home world' but what the heck. The additional vision early on is always a boon, plus the early military could lend itself to the same strategy one would expect from the Separatist Colony, but with the added bonus of being able to get a extra bonus versus the rebel worlds.

In addition to the three new home worlds, the developers have tweaked the starting rules. Now you separate the home worlds into odd/even (red/blue) and each player gets one of each pile. They then get their six starter cards and can decide which home world to use, the other being discarded along with the extra cards from the player's hand. I like this start because it gives you a better chance of not getting stuck with junk... Not that it doesn't happen, but it will help minimize those 100% junk hands a bit.

The most widely known feature of the game is the attack mechanics. Traditionally the players had not interaction between their tableau once cards were played, RvI changes that, but only under strict guidelines. First off, only four cards out of 180 in the deck allow you to attack across the tableau's and each of these a unique qualifier to allow you to conduct the attack.

The Imperium Seat allows the player to attack another player that has at least one card with the Rebel keyword.

The Rebel Alliance is the opposite of the Imperium Seat as it allows you to attack another player with at least one card with the Imperium keyword.

The final card, of which there are two copies in the deck allows the player to discard it from their tableau to attack a player with at least a +1 military.

The attack mechanism seems to be pretty straight forward once you figure it out. Instead of settling in the settle phase, the player declares an attack. The attacker nominates a combat planet (red) and each player totals up their military, with the defender getting a bonus of the defense (planet value). If attacker is greater, they take the planet, if not the attack fails. In addition the game recommends alternating the use of the mechanic between games. To be honest this is my biggest gripe on the expansion. It seems such a minor and trivial add since it is so specialized that it would be hard to build a strategy around it. I assume that future expansions will adequately fill out the mechanic.

Finally, here are a few cards that I think added to the game.

Pan Galactic Research is the first <6> Development that does not have a random victory point count, but fixed value of 4. I think that is because it is a dozy of a card. +2 vision and +1 keep alone are great cards, but adding in the reduction cost to developments can allow the right strategy to drop developments at a -4. Additionally the 2 cards per production phase is huge as it allows you to take advantage of almost every phase, but the real kicker is the fact that your max hand size is increased to 12 cards, giving you more flexibility. All around sweet card!

The next card isn't so 'special', but it provides an example of the new Explore power. They funky symbol on phase one allows players to draw cards directly into their hand, then discard any that are required. Previously you had to keep the drawn cards separate, now you can mix them and toss the trash. This power shows up in a lot of cards which is a nice feature.

To wrap up, I liked many of the new cards and powers as I think they added to the game tremendously. The attack mechanism seems very limited in the current state, but I expect it will get better in the expansion.

If you like RftG, then RvI is a good investment.

Meet me at the Cantina

Weight of things...


As of this morning at the gym, I have dropped 71 pounds.  That takes me down to 247 from my high of 318.  I havent had any complications since the first bought a few weeks ago so I am really happy with the progress.  Ive been to the gym every day for the past two and half weeks with a 3 mile walk on the Saturdays for good measure.  Only about 30 more to go for first goal, then we tackle the tough parts of getting down to 200.


Not quite lean, but trying

Thursday, July 23, 2009

An update, my kingdom for an update

Greetings fellow gamers,

As I said before, I've got a ton of updating to do.

First off on Warmachine. Since the last post I have had two games versus Phillip down at the Shoppe on Tuesday. Turn out is pretty light, which is a sad reflection on my Pressganger skills, but I hope that it will pick up the closer we get to MkII release.

The first game was my Gorten force against Phillip's Severius. At 500 points it was a solid game with Phillip taking a Crusader, Devout, and Blessing of Vengeance, a Choir and a full unit of Temple Flame Gaurd w/ attachment. (I'm sure I'm missing something else... Come on, its been a week!) With my Gorten, I had Meg + mule, Min unit of Steelheads, a full unit of Precursors w/ attachment, Lady A & Holt, Bokur, and Rupert (I think). The game was well played with me picking at the edges of Phillip's force, eventually taking out his 'Jacks, except for the Blessing which in the end took out Gorten. The highlight was the two shield wall units poking each other with sticks and not getting much movement.

The second game this Tuesday was 750 points. Again I played Gorten (Alexia, Steelheads, Meg w/ Mule, Thor Stienhammer w/ Driller, Capt Sam & DD w/ Nomad, Rupert, Lady A & H, Eyriss). Phillip played Epic Krueger (WoldWyrd, WoldWarden, Gnarlhorn Satyr, Blackclad, Sentry Stones, Shifting Stones, Tharn Ravager Whitemane, War Wolf, Ravagers w/ Shaman, Wolves of Orboros w/ attachment). We didn't get a chance to finish this game as we were both taking a bit too long on the turns. Phillip tried to overload around a terrain feature, I shifted my forces back to the middle. Hero's from my side were Lady A & Mr. H. along with Eyriss took the Wolves to task as Phillip had spread them along the whole board. The Tharn Ravegers got tangled up with Steelheads and a Nomad that contained them long enough for the two casters to throw everything they could at each other. It was a great game, only wish we could have finished.

On Saturday's D&D, you might have seen the comments. We came within the razor's edge of a TPK. The dice swung around at the end, keeping the party alive, but it wasn't pretty. We had the only Defender (Kaz, the Dragonborn Paladin) and one of the Strikers (Eldacar, the Halfling Rouge) floating face down in the water as the party struggled to maintain their own against the Harpy and her accomplices. We did get four solid encounters, from the a big solo (440 hp worth) to the frozen room looking for treasure to a pair of water rooms that provided difficulty for the short ones in the party. Good times. Not sure when I'll be able to go again. Maybe on the 15th. Time will tell.

On Wednesday The Other Half and I had The Eldest, The Roommate, and the Eldest's boyfriend (hence forth known as The Boyfriend) over for dinner. The Eldest, The Roommate and I played two games of Ticket to Ride after dinner. It was nice to play a fun game and teach someone the cool new games around. The Roommate actually caught on real quick and won both games, plus she is the first person I ever see get a 'Longest Train' with every single train. Pretty impressive for a beginner!

Finally for tonight, Bloodbowl on the CPU. I've racked up a ton of Prestige points and should hit the actual Bloodbowl this season when it opens up. I am 33 wins and 2 ties so far. The AI, especially on the easy setting, is not that bright. I hope it gets a bit tougher on Medium when I finish up this campaign.

I'll update on the Race for the Galaxy expansion as I want to give it it's own space with pics. Short version is that is has some great cards added to the mix! :)

Ah, a nail!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Delinquent for Duty

I am behind on the following briefs...

  • My game of Warmachine with Phillip.
  • The D&D session from Saturday
  • Review of the Race for the Galaxy Expansion
  • Solo play on Race for the Galaxy Expansion
  • Bloodbowl CPU game update
Unfortunately, your not getting them now. :( I'll try to get caught up on Thursday, by which time I'll owe you an additional Warmachine game or two.

Running Behind!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The one where I play a snot load of games...

Well, what a difference a healthy weekend makes! I don't think I had much rest for the past two days.

Saturday morning, The Other Half and I participated in the Run for Justin 5K event. We walked, obviously, but still had a great time and did better then I thought we would. We finished in under an hour (56 mins and some odd seconds) so about a 3 mile per hour pace. It was a good start to some more aggressive walking. It was funny that we each started pushing each other to catch the next walker group or stroller gaggle ahead of us.

Saturday night was some serious D&D action. The gang was all present and we completed four encounters, including a nice trap room...

Splug, a goblin thief, looked into the room. It was common, almost too common. A couple of statues of ugly humans sitting on tall petastiles on opposite sides of the room. Some stairs directly across the 20' room headed down and a door was on the far side down the 40' feet or so. It seemed too quite as he moved across the room, looking for anything that didn't fit. He glanced behind him to see the elf ranger, Sliver, slip in quietly after him and take up position in the corner by the door, his bow pulled and ready to respond. The dragonborn warlord, the only way Splug could tell them apart was the armor, Zarzathor wore chain and plodded noisily to the stairs to cover the approach. The other dragonborn, this one a nasty paladin named Kaznak wore plate and moved forward to support. Finally Eldacar the halfing, who was no thief in Splugs book and the old man Zoltan, a magic user of some skill moved in... They all stood well behind Splug.

Convinced that nothing was going to happen, Splug made for the opposite door. That is when the walls and floors began to spin and Splug found himself tumbling down a slope in a much darker area. His eyes quickly adjusted to the darkened room and a pit was going to be his future destination if he didn't slow down... That was when he saw the first long and slimy tentacle coming out of the pit.

The adventures were stunned. The entire floor rotated up and sent Splug to places unknown. In his place large charnel rats and ridden the rotating floor up to the new position. It was quick work, but ensuring that the trigger was not switched and moving to get an attack was tricky. Finally Sliver noticed the scrape marks on the wall and spotted the faint impression of the trigger on the far side of the portion that rotated.

Splug soon found himself caught in the grasp of the fell beast, an eater of carrion, it didn't seem to mind that Splug was alive. With some effort Splug twisted and contorted his way out of the foul creatures grasp and squirm his way up the sloop.

Kaznak and Zarzathor jumped the trigger areas on the floor and together heaved the heavy statue on the wall to the floor. As it slammed onto the trigger device, the floor and wall began to rotate, rolling the statue to the edge and wedging the trap open.

Splug again found himself falling, this time into a dirt floor, surrounded by carnel rats, but it was better the the beast that was raising from the pit. Light from above showed his comrades, at least some of them had found a way to get him free. Arrows and flames reached around him, eliminating the rats with ease.

Eldcar leaped up onto the wedged wall and worked his way into the dark. He thought to himself that the damn goblin would be the death of him for sure. He slid down the slope a bit, it was awkward as it wasn't level at any angle, that is when the full beast appeared from the pit. Multiple tentacles, a wide round mouth in the center of its body with row after row of razor sharp teeth. It was an Otyugh of some sort, had to be, nothing could be as ugly as that and not meet the descriptions. It crawled toward Eldacar whipping both of its tentacles in an attempt to grab him. The pain hurt, but it could be worse. Eldacar glanced up the slope and saw both Kaznak and Zarzathor moving in as well. The warlord was shouting orders, wanting to retreat, but the rest of the party was having none of it.
Like I said, it was a pretty good night. We had some level ups at the end of the night and folks are progressing along nicely.

On Sunday The Other Half and I did some errands to include prepping for a garage sale (Yippee...) and had an early lunch. I bolted to the Shoppe as we were having a going away party for Becky. It was a great gathering, about 80+ folks at time. Lots of food and a good time. Becky cried from the moment she walked in to at least when I left. The highlight was her and Angie going all Office Space on the old printer. Having worked their it was a real sucky printer.

While at the Shoppe my copy of the new Race for the Galaxy expansion came in. Being the crack addict that I am, I talked Steve, Rob, and Eric to play a few rounds. I'll do a full review later, but we played three games.
  1. Steve took the first game with the Development strategy. He had 35 points after getting five or six <6> cards out.
  2. I barley took the second with a VP burn. I had 44 points, 20 from VP. Eric was close behind with 40 using the new military powers. He would have won if he got the conquest of Rob's world, but it missed in the end.
  3. Finally game I won pretty strongly. I had the Separatist Colony and some great early cards that let me put down some heavy Rebel worlds.
Good weekend. Just wish that I didn't have to go back to work.

Games.... Mmmmm....

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Value of Gaming

At the end of the Bloodbowl review I mentioned briefly my theory on the value of gaming. Thought I would take a few moments and elaborate for you.

It is my theory, expounded upon what I have heard from others, that tabletop gaming in its most general since is the best economical use of your entertainment dollar. Why? Lets look at a few examples shall we?

Movie: Ticket - $8, Popcorn & Soda - $ 7 -- For yourself, you are looking at ~ $15 to go to the theater and see a movie. You spend about two hours at the show and your value is $7.5 per hour. Yes you get memories of the show and a 'shared' experience, but those are pretty intangible.

Out at the Bar: Cover - $5 (I'm guessing here), Booze - $35 -- If your at the club from 10pm to 2 am that is a value of $10 per hour, assuming you stop at $35 or so. Other intangibles like hang over or getting lucky not included. YMMV.

So lets look at some gaming options:

D&D (Player): If you payed full retail for the Player's Handbook - $35, Dice - $5 -- If you play in one campaign, four hours a week for six weeks (feasible and doable) that is 24 hours for $40 or ~$1.66 per hour... A heck of a lot cheaper then movies.

D&D (DM): If your the DM and you pick up a lot of books, here is the break out. PHx2 - $70, DMGx2 - $70, MMx2 - $70, Dice - $10, Module - $20. That is $240 for the same campaign and you get $10 per hour, the same as going to the bar, but if you average out 5 players and 1 DM, your looking at an average cost per person of $3. Still a great value. If you play more then one campaign or your campaign goes longer or you play in multiple campaigns then the price plummets rapidly.

Warhammer: The grand daddy of commercial tabletop gaming. Lets say you start from scratch and build a 2000 point army, rule book, army book. Rule book is ~$58 and a Battalion Box (Starter) is $108 w/ the army book. Add in some core units, rares, elites, heroes and your looking at an additional $170 or so for a total of $336. Lets start with just the playing aspect. If you play a regular game, once a week for 2.5 hours, for six months with the army and a tournament every other month for 8 hours your total playing time is going to be 84 hours giving you a $4 per hour value on your investment. If your like me and you like the full hobby aspect and you enjoy putting the guys together and painting (not that I've done that lately), you can add in the dozens and dozens of hours spent doing that. Lets say you spent only 48 hours putting the army together and painting (way low for those that have done this before, I know), then your entertainment dollar drops to a RPG like $2.5 per hour... Not too shabby for something that will be with you or at the very least has 'some' re-sale value.

The last go around lets look at one more...
Board Games: Settlers of Catan runs $42 at full retail. I have played this game a snot load and it would be hard to calculate the actual value to me. It has entertained me, my friends, and my family. Lets say four people play the game for an hour once a month. 48 hours of entertainment for $42. That is a buck and change folks. The key to all this is playing the game, if you buy it and don't play, then you just aren't getting the value. Trust me I've done that.

I think this is a key item that game store owners just don't exploit on their fence walking almost customers. Yea it may 'seem' expensive to the player to pick up that new Race for the Galaxy expansion (coming out Friday!), but if you play it a few times, it's cheaper then seeing a movie for the same amount of time.

That is about it, so what do you think?

Tripp'n on the math

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Games! I can play games!

On Monday I conned Steve over with an offer for dinner and some games. We had chicken stuffed with spinach and ricotta, veggies and potatoes, and we talked games all the way through dinner. It was very romantic. :) The Other Half was in the front room watching her 'stories' as she was 'starved' when she got home and ate quickly. Steve and I discussed the Space Battle game I've been fleshing out as well as other game geek topics.

After dinner we headed to the basement and looked at the collection for something two player. We decided on the Settlers of Catan Card Game. It is a pretty straight forward interpetation of the board game using square cards that you rotate for goods and have cities/settlements. I took the first game while Steve swept the second pretty soundly.

Tuesday I made it to Warmachine Night at the Shoppe. Wow... I need to do something to re-juice the community. Very light turn out. Adam played hookie and we played a great game of merc on merc action. Adam played an Agenda contract and had Magnus with a pair of Renegades, a big unit of Idrians with the attachment, Boomhowler, Orin from the Inquisition and Stanis the cavalry solo Steelhead. I ran a Four Star list with Gorten w/ Gun Bunny, Dirty Meg w/ Mule, Kel B., Ogrun w/ Gorten, Rupert the Piperman, Croe's, Lady and Holt, and Steelheads. (Just a quick side note. I ran the list in Tabletop Commander and it seems I must have miss counted at the Shoppe. My biggest apologizes to Adam. I played at 502... My win is hollow and I feel shame!).

Adam's Idrians did a great job of sweeping in a picking off Steelheads and pretty much collapsing my left flank, plus an obliterator shot nailed the Ogrun on the head and took him out. I moved Gorten forward using Solid Ground until both the obliterators were used, but they were pretty effective just the same. Some how Adam got one of the renegades up to kill Kel and then get engaged with Lady and Holt, by which time the Idrians had began to sweep to the right.

It took my entire right side to kill one dang Steelhead Cav solo... With Gorten doing the final shot. The Mule never hit a thing in the game except one of Boomhowler's boys with his mace, in fact, Meg shot more with her rivet gun then the mule did. Shessh.

In the end it came down to Gorten Vs. Magnus. The higher armor saved Gorten and he had wittled Mags down with two 'both barrels' so when they got toe to toe Gorten had the advantage on hit points. Mags swung his sword four times, hit three, but couldn't break the 22 armor. Gorten returned the favor with his hammer and got Mags on the first hit.

Solid game, except that I cheated by two points... Feel bad about that... Takes away that come from behind feeling!

On a last note, I am still looking for folks to take a look at the Space Attack game... About five or six pages of rules at the moment... Lots of details to flush out, but always open to feedback. Let me know!

Thanks again Adam!

I like games!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July America!


Just wanted to do a quick update on what is what in the world of jp.

Medically all is well. Back on my 'soft' foods which includes chicken, turkey, and fish so I've got plenty of proteins to intake.

Becky is leaving the shoppe in 16 days. We are having a party at the Shoppe on the 12th, you can contact Becky if you want to come and be prepared to bring a side dish. Norm is picking up Burgers/Brats. Should be a fun/sad day.

I've been playing the snot out of Bloodbowl and enjoying it so far. Joropa's Boys Lizardmen team has one four tournaments as we work our way up to 'the' Blood Bowl. The Lizardmen are a great team with the high agile teams like Wood Elves giving me the hardest time. When I get it finished, I'll crank up the difficulty to the next level as on the current setting I can see the AI doing some bad options from time to time.

That is about it. I'll get some Warmachine on Tuesday if all goes well and some D&D on Saturday if it goes even better... The Doc was worried about my blood count, I'm worried about my low gaming levels!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bloodbowl: The Video Game


There are two Games Workshop games that I will always be willing to play, if only I had enough free time for them. 

My first favorite is Mordhiem.  It is a great mix between a tabletop miniatures game and a roleplay light system that really shines in the campaign mode so you can grow your little force of 10-15 troopers as they plunder the remains of the wicked city of Mordhiem.  Great stuff.  Bart and the gang up in Sioux City have a great table they would put together for Mage Con and I've seen some other great terrain layouts for the game around the intertubes. 

The second favorite is Bloodbowl, the game of true fantasy combat.  Nothing says Football like the Orkland Raiders! :)  The game plays pretty quick, especially with the 4 minute timer running.  Like Mordhiem, in the campaign setting, your team grows and gets new skills between match and you have injuries that can hamper your team as well.

I had seen that a Bloodbowl knock off was in the works sometime last year, then GW IP lawyers got involved and it looked bad, but a license agreement was made and the product hit gold earlier this week.  I hesitated at first, do I really want to plop $49 down for the game?  I usually don't pay full retail for a game, waiting until it hits the $29 mark in discount bin before I'll take the leap…  But this was Bloodbowl.  So I broke.  Don't tell The Other Half and if you are The Other Half and you are reading this…  Sorry!

Not being an uber video game guy, this is my short take on it.

At first I was really upset.  My new HP system that we just bought six months ago was just chugging trying to run the game.  I was like, 'Oh My!', but once I got into the options and I turned off all the extra stuff that I really didn't need (Who needs to see the grass waving in the wind?) and dialed down the details, it seems to run just fine.  The game comes in two modes, traditional, following living rule book version 5 and real time that takes a more twitch factor approach to the game.  Can you guess which one I like?  I'm not big RTS player, I like the concept, but I play too slow, like I'm playing Civilization, and I quickly get overwhelmed with the swarming tactics from the IA.  I suck, so I'm not sure how I was going to like the real time Bloodbowl, and to be honest, I can't give you a good review as I've been having too much fun playing the traditional mode!

Here is what I like:
- Campaign system - You have a bunch of tournaments that you have to unlock with prestige.  Your finish in tournaments grants you prestige.  The first tournament I went to was the "Clean Tournament" had my team of Lizardman (Joropa's Boys), Dwarf Grudgebearers, a Human team (Crusaders?) and a Skaven team (Wayfair Runners?).  I went 1-1-1 in the tournament and placed in the playoffs (all four teams placed for this tournament) and won the tournament beating the Humans in the first round and the Grudgebeares in the final.  Next up, I'm going to try another 4 team event followed by an 8 team!

- Games are pretty quick.  Taking around 40-45 mins for a match and you can save mid match if you need to.  I've played two nights to finish up the first tournament and that included downloading the game, install, and rebooting a few times the campaign as I was trying to figure some of the stuff up.  Each player gets 8 turns per half and you only have four minutes to complete your turn, so you can't over strategize your actions or you will be done.

- The graphics are nice.  I think a bit of more variety between the players would be helpful within the same race.  They do have additional skins, but you have to work with that during team purchase and I kept forgetting.  I found I had to hover over a player to see a quick look on the stats to determine which had been promoted and which had not, especially with the Skinks.

Things I wish could be changed a bit:
- I would like to speed the opponents actions…  Just a tad, to help move it along.  Also the cut scenes between halfs and starting a match could have the ability to cut past (which they do, but I couldn't figure it out until the last match…  Just hit Esc.  Duh!)

- The TD celebration…  I know this is minor, but would have it been too hard to add more then one for each race?
- A little more clarity of how the funds are used from round to round.  I 'think' I've lost some petty cash since I couldn't spend it and I'm not sure that is right.  They have a PDF manual…  I guess I ought to look at it.

- MVP - I 'think' it is random.  Doesn't seem to correlate with who did the most stuff on the field with tackles, injuries, etc. 

Things that are cool, but tick me off:
- Boneheaded Kroxagor
- Double Skulls.  (Haven't seen a triple skull yet!)
- Double Skulls with no re-rolls!

Anyways, it is a fun game at the traditional level and I think well worth it as my $$/Hr rate is already down to ~$8/hr and sure to keep dropping.  (I'll post more on that theory another day).  Hopefully, GW will allow someone to do the exact same concept for Morhdhiem too.

Go Boys!