40K Traitor Guard

All these spare Guard models, what to do? Traitors would be a cool enemy for my Guard and Marines. Very "fluff", very appropriate to the setting. "Just make them Traitor Guard" is the common suggestion if the Lost and the Damned or the old Chaos Cult armies are ever brought up. "Just make them Traitor Guard." But how's that done effectively, then? Would Commissars and Stormtroopers be present in a Traitor Guard army? Not likely. They'd be the first taken down or the first to retreat and regroup if their companies started going sour with Chaos.

When it comes to the "fluff" of the 40K universe, it would be cultists and traitors and renegade guard that would be the major problem and at the heart of most of the conflicts in that setting. Even seeing a Space Marine is a rare occurence, a Renegade/Chaos one showing up would be that much more rare. It's a numbers thing. Eldar and Dark Eldar raiders a nuisance, but survivable. The Tau may be expanding, but their pocket of the galaxy doesn't even rate the word "pocket" in size. The Orks are a massive problem, there's no real way of knowing how many Tyranids are on their way and the Necrons could be any and everywhere, but we're talking Chaos. With the quadrillions of people that populate the Imperium, the Inquisition, Space Marine Chapters, the Sisters and the Imperial Guard would have their hands full mostly with putting down Chaos corruption and rebellion from within. Plus, with all those planets in "The Eye" and nearby other tears between real space and the warp aren't spilling over with Chaos Space Marines. They'd be the ruling minority amidst throngs of cultists and militia and Guard-gone-bad.

I've looked around online and there are a few decent army lists out there for bringing the Lost and the Damned up to date for 5th ed 40K, and it would be easy enough I guess to throw some spikes on the models, step back and say you have Traitor Guard... but I think there ought to be an army list. (Actually they should have their own small codex probably) So, using the 5 relevant codexes from 1996 to the present day I'm going to piece together a viable and hopefully fair army list for Traitor Guard. I'll post it here soon!


Summer of FASA

My best friend just scored an in-the-shrinkwrap, complete Battletech 3rd edition set!! I just scored an in-the-shrinkwrap, complete Renegade Legion 2nd edition box set -- yeah, the one with the 36 tanks included!!

Add to that the fact I've been studying this for the past couple months on and off:

And with Games Workshop doing something about inflation -- i.e. raising their prices -- and adopting a European store management model -- which apparently means they're never really open for any length of time -- I think we got the makings for the summer of Fasa! The material's just as fun and playable as it was 25 years ago and thanks to ebay and Amazon.com and loads of independant retailers/resellers out there in the world. Almost just as accessable. Woot!
Nope. Never played Shadowrun and have no ambition to, but thanks for thinking of that one.


Another Classic

"Do you have what it takes to lead men into battle?" So asks the bottom of the Battleforce box. It had been at leat 20 years since I played. What was I thinking? In the 80's I had avoided the Battletech phenomenon. How, I have no idea. FASA Corporation totally had their finger on gamers' pulses at that time. Again, what was I thinking? Still, at least I played this one.

Without true knowledge of the game that spawned it, I can't discuss Battleforce's connection to it's Battletech parent intelligently, though very soon, I'm going to remedy that and just get in on the modern incarnation. As my friend said, it's been playtested for 25+ years, the rules are solid.

Battleforce is putzy to set up. Small, thick paper representations of the different lances of Mechs, tanks, fighters, infantry, etc, each jammed full of info and each sprouting "chits" to designate the skill of their crews and other information. But past that stage, despite what seems like a ton of information, game play is fast and easy to pick up on. Are the pieces as glamorous as miniatures, certainly not. But it doesn't take much imagination to view the flat map and seemingly sterile pieces as small illuminations of larger units on a master tactical screen. Without knowing much of the history of the game and with very basic knowledge of the different types of mechs, the game still lends itself to imagery of the darkened command room with the main screen showing the distant battle play out, or a holo-table somewhere with information changing and winking out of existence as men and mech clash on the battlefield.

We just played a brawl essentially to refamiliarize ourselves with the game, but it deserves the detailed scenarios and campaigns it was designed to illustrate. Looking forward to playing it again.


How'd I get by without this?

The gps of gaming! 48 interchangable tiles of detailed terrain goodness. I know I'm WAY behind where I intended to be with the modeling this year. But I've finished painting these tiles and their accompanying accessories, PLUS the gorgeous hive tiles I ordered from the local GW shop. Because they come on the sprue already looking gorgeous, there's little I did at all except paint them. Well, except the one hive tile...I did kinda want to make a bigger hive city so...

Trimmed Dark Eldar rifles make great gothic looking towers for this kind of scale -- (also true for Battlefleet Gothic ships and space stations.) The central spire is a shell from a WW2 military set. For that particular Hive city tile I painted the base largely navy and blue and used Games Workshop's brush on gloss varnish to give it the appearence of an absolutely gigantic hive city clinging to the only land mass around for protection or necessity. But imagine that tile on a map necessitating an amphibious assault on a hive city, then dove tailing into a game of Cities of Death. Man...

Which brings me back around to the rest of the box set tiles. Out of the 48 tiles, 6 are single sided -- scultped spaceports. Still, that's 42 double sided tiles... that's 84 sides to play with in sculpted groups of 14... Meaning there are 14 individual sides before they repeat pattern; that's 6 solid terrain types to craft with the paintbrush. And with these tiles, you'd have to try deliberately to screw them up as far as painting goes. With little effort and some dry brushing they become instantly beautiful. But that's assuming you want just 6 terrain types, or full sets of each. I did opt for that with 4 sets of the 14 faces:

set one: desert
set two: Snow (This was a powder blue undercoat, highlight with white, flat clear coat and blue glitter sparingly sprinlkled onto the flat parts as the clear coat set for that snowfield look.
set three: general green/brown/water
set four: Black ash wastes leaning towards volcanic.
The rest I mixed up, not sticking to any one scheme, including swamps, melting snows, darker churned up earth looks. Just to get a decent mix to build a playable landscape.

Best thing about them is they're not necessarily 40K specific. First of all, buying this:

...and marrying the two sets is an ideal set up. But they are still general enough to be used hundreds of ways for ANY map based campaign for whatever game seems appropriate, from wargames to rpg's to fusions of those to the Games Workshop products they're designed for. Just a brilliant piece of gaming goodness from GW!


Renegade Legion: Centurion

Sunday night 3/7/10 was archeology night. Roughly 16 years ago, my friend Cain and I played a game of 2nd ed Centurion, and apparently that particular set hadn't been played since. We remedied that.

Swift gameplay, "realistic" rules for the TOG setting that don't get up their own sphincter, and a compelling background of SciFi. The exchange of fire betweenthe tanks is immediately rewarding with a great template based damage system. Great looking minatures that you's have to TRY and paint wrong to screw them up they're so cool. Also, tactical manuevering counts -- it's not just a run-at-each-other and throw dice kind of game. The game is readily expandable to include other aspects of the TOG setting like Interceptor and the RPG connected with them.

In the few short hours we got reaquainted with the game, I got plenty more inspiration for an upcoming Star Frontiers campaign I'd like to run and a small pang of regret for not focusing more on this game when it was available as a new product and not a resale.

If TSR ruled the "Old School" era for setting the bar high for RPG's, then FASA had their thumb on the pulse of tactical games -- the fun ones anyway. It's a shame they, like TSR, went belly up. But with the advent of card games like Magic the Gathering (of douchebags -- yes all 6million of them) and the infusion of Goth/emo games full of sparkly douchebaggery like Vampire: The Masquerade, the old school stuff just couldn't sell fast enough.


Nerdvana, another step closer

Whoa, the places you could go with these two boxed sets of the game...why didn't I already own a copy of these from 27 years ago? Oh well, they're here now and on first assessment of the materials I can say firmly, with mental clarity: WOW KICK ASS!!! WHO WANTS TO PLAY??


Cadian Blood: Book Review

I have to admit, I haven't read much of the Black Library's Guard Fiction outside of the Ghosts novels. When a bar is set as high as Dan Abnett has set writing for the Imperial Guard in the 40K Universe, how can you keep from being hesistant? Maybe even jaded, i.e. too much of a good thing, nothing compares even remotely...

Cadian Blood by Aaron Dembski-Bowden is, without a doubt, a "fanboy" book. If you're unfamiliar with the 40K setting the import of some of the situations -- namely the 13th Black Crusade -- won't mean as much. But that being said, there are no other negatives to report on this phenomenal story! It's an action movie in a book with just enough horror laced through to cement the gothic horror that is the 41st millenium.

The Cadians are fleshed out brilliantly -- with their genetic heritage of violet or blue eyes, with a distinct dialect, and with great characters you don't want to see blown away -- staying true to their bad ass character without making them into super heroes, and that includes the Kasrkins. They're shown to be the special forces kick-ass element that they are, without being cheesy or trying to sell product for the tabletop.

The way Space Marines are handled is exactly how they should be written; you'll have to read the book to fully get what I mean by that, but all the appropriate awe, mystique, fear and inspiration their presence provides is conveyed with zero cheese. And The treatment of Chaos, especially Nurgle's brand, is done with enough detail to disgust and inspire model making but not enough to be over the top. There isn't the full on horror elements you'd find reading a Guant's Ghost novel, but when a Primary Target identifies itself in the form of a Death Guard Marine wading through the cultists and undead around it, the excitement, terror and exhilaration of the Cadians is palpable. Great novel.


Big gaming weekend!

WOW! Awesome weekend of gaming! It was like a junior "con!" There was:

And there was:

And then there was:

And then MORE:

I can't say enough about Conquest of the Empire except where do I buy it. It's from the same 80's family that spawned Axis and Allies, Fortress America, Shogun etc. Great, easy to learn rules, smooth gameplay, excellent simple to understand and execute dice based combat system. Just all around fun experience with that one. Thanks Casey and Cain and Mick for the lesson!

First real D&D game I've had since the 90's when there was a substantially larger group of us playing. Special thanks to our DM Casey for dealing with three players under 13 (my kids), and for putting some great spins on a dungeon crawl! That was well done! I think the intent is for this D&D game to blossom into a campaign, drop-ins are welcome!

The Joy Vacuum

"If you're going to be serious about this, you need to take serious steps." "If you're going to move forward, you have to committ yourself to what needs to get done." "If you don't have that, you really have no right to be in here in the first place."

What do those sound like to you? A serious talk between professional corporate baby boomers? A fast food restaurant manager trying to encourage some level of professionalism from a modern teen? An acting coach or agent speaking to an aspiring performer? An editor addressing a writer on a submission? If only they were spoken in those contexts, those scenarios would garner some modicum of respect or even a bland acceptance; boss speak, manager speak, corporate speak, condescension, call it what you like. Only these sentences weren't heard by me in a boardroom, or a professional kitchen or in an office, this is how some raiding gear snob gamer addressed aspiring raiders in my guild the other night after a few wipes in some "older" level 80 raid.

I knew I was in trouble when the guild was assigned video homework in order to do a raid! -- as if the guild is somehow paying for the two accounts I maintain or paying me a wage or something. "Sorry boss, I can't come into work today, I have to memorize this raid." "Sorry honey, I know you made dinner, but you and the kids go ahead, this raid is REALLY IMPORTANT to get right!" "I know we were going to go out, but I had a real shot at those level 264 boots and I had to be sure I got my DPS rotation right" "I know I told you I would read you that story but you have to understand how important this video game is! I have to research this raid!" "I realize I have to look for a job mom, but c'mon! If I can get this raid right it will make the monthly subscription toally worth it!"

Now don't get me wrong, raiding is part of the game. Questing, Player vs Player and Raiding. Ya can't get around it. However, especially lately, Blizzard and their minions have made raiding a key part of the game if you want, like, really goofy looking cartoon gear with a purple heading and outrageous statlines so you can sit for 20 minutes at a time clicking your hard earned, well thought out rotation and smack the same monster over and over and over and over again while someone "heals" you. Oh this is HIGH drama and quality fantasy gaming we're talking about here!! Kind of like the emotional, intellectual and story driven action involved in a game of Space Invaders, or even Defender! What kind of gaming experience compares with standing within a graphic of a monster and hitting it repeatedly while monitoring a dozen "add-ons" that let you know everyone else is doing the same thing you are, or ensuring you can keep doing what you're doing.

But my bullshit tolerance was breached when the participating guildees and I got a lecture from some limp cock tank about raiding and moving the guild forward, about comittment, about time management and about being serious. My guts gave a small lurch when my guildees responded with sad, solemn humilty to this sad sack's diatribe and acted on it. Are you kidding me? Are people really that debased? Is it really that simple? Really?


Who toys!

I don't have to lament being too old to play with toys, I don't have to confine myself to toy soldiers in cerebral wargames, because I got really cool children!! Here's my son's latest acquisition happily bought by me and mom for a report card that blew us away! These aren't one plain model repainted over and over to resemble a certain era in the show, these are separate and gorgeous recreations. Must have for collectors or just really fun to play with! The title of this blog is a link to WhoNA (Who North America). They don't have everything, but their stock is huge and their delivery is fast!


Best 50cents I ever spent

With the advent of d20 rule systems everywhere, what happened to the rest of those dice?

Here's a piece of gaming brilliance from the early part of the 21st century!!(2003) I found this at a flea market in central Illinois for a dollar -- marked down to 50cents! Good luck finding it for less than 50bucks now on ebay or Amazon. It's been out of print for a number of years, which is a shame, because you can tell they were poised to release new rules and expansion teams.

With easy to master rules and dice that are color coded to the players' bases, which in turn reflects the speed and power of thier positions, i.e. a runner gets a d20 and a tackle gets a d6, one's potentially fast as hell, but the lower dice roll makes the tackle happen. Brilliant.

Can't afford to invest in Blood Bowl? Have kids that would rather watch grass grow than play Monopoly or Life? This game is well paced, simply ruled, has great looking minitaures, a simple but cool background and futuristic setting so as to necessitate "carnage markers" (Blood, mechanical parts and uniform bits from cybernetic players) and takes anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes to play. 50 cents well spent! Unbelievable shame it died a quiet death on the toy store shelves!


New Teeth...

Enough time has passed since the airing of David Tennant's last two parter as the Doctor that I can put this "down" or "up", whichever.

The idea of Regeneration is probably one of the most brilliant plot devices ever invented in the history of broadcast television. His appearence is altered, maybe severely in the case of the Doctor, but the central hero is still the same character, the same man, erm, TimeLord, the same being at his core.

This concept was understood in the transition from 9th to 10th Doctor. Eccelston's Doctor goes out of his way to explain to Rose that yes, he's dying, but he has a way around it. Yes, he's going to change and she won't see him again...with that face. And, reinforcing something I've always personally believed to be an unspoken truth about the Doctor -- he sucks at regenerating, so he can't be sure what he'll get when he does it. Rose doesn't get it, but maybe the new viewers to the revived show do, and off the Doctor goes, like a gasoline fire, burning away the old dying body to make way for the new...

"Hello... New teeth, that's wierd."

The Doctor's first words to Rose Tyler after he regenerated for the 9th time to save his life after absorbing the energy of the time vortex. And why wouldn't it be wierd. It's the same guy within the context of the show. Again, Rose -- with whom the audience is meant to identify -- is the one who needs to be convinced this is the same man she fell in love with the previous season. Her mother and Mickey get it, Harriet Jones Prime Minister gets it, and eventually, Rose comes around as well:

"I'm still the Doctor then?" he asks after she throws him a sword in his Christmas Day duel with the Sycorax leader.

"No arguements from me!" she replies. And there ya go. It's the Doctor, regenerated and ready for more.

So what happened between then and the next regeneration?
Don't get me wrong, I loved both parts of the End of Time. I though the master went out EXACTLY like he should, I'm totally on board with Rassilong back as President, I think the loose ends of the Time War were sewn up nicely -- leaving the possibility that a few clever time lords may have bailed fro mGallifrey while they could -- David Tennant's performance as the Doctor kicked ass as usual... but then things take a crap at the regeneration.

Without ripping into both episodes with needless nitpicking, I'll simply say I was VERY dissatisfied with the tantrums the Doctor threw, not because he had them, but because the accompnying lines were lame and out of character. Being worried about regenerating is nothing new to the character. Being a narcissitic ass clown is also nothing new to the Doctor when he's real pleased with himself, or wearing his 6th rengeneration. It's in character and often funny. But not this time. This time it seemed out of context not only of the episode but of the whole history of the show.

"I don't want to go."

You don't want to go? What the hell are you talking about? You're afraid to go through with it, okay. You're afraid you might not make it, understandable. You hope you don't forget everyone you cared about, it could happen. But you don't want to go? You mean you the Doctor or you David Tennant the actor. It was a bizzare, out of character way to handle things and it didn't do Matt Smith, the next Doctor, or the next season of the show, any favors. An actor's departure was emphasized which is in total opposition to what the plot device was invented for. Yeah, one of the best actors to portray him has moved on, but The Doctor survived his regeneration and so should the show.

Oh well, still a great episode all told. And seeing Rose last before he regenerated was a massive nod to that character's importance in the revived series. River Song can get bent, Rose and the Doctor all the way!