Virtual Con for Star Frontiers

In a few short days, TSR's classic Science Fiction RPG Star Frontiers turns 30. Click the name for info about the upcoming virtual con.


So Beautiful, it's Stupid...

I can't write intelligently about the gameplay yet. After several hours, not a few beers and lengthy good conversation with gaming mixed in, I CAN say Games Workshop's Dreadfleet plays like a Seabound version of Battlefleet Gothic if it were done by Fantasy Flight Games. This is a round-about way of me saying I enjoyed it very much and am looking forward to learning the game more completely!

From a modeling/hobby standpoint alone, the game is worth the price of admission! The results are seriously beautiful:

Yes, I'm sure it's become quite clear from the pics which boat was mine... the one that sank first. THAT part of the game I'm solid on.

Speaking of Fantasy Flight-esque, the kids and I tackled FF's World of Warcraft Adventure Game.

This was also primarily a learning experience, but still fun.

What is it with all these cards necessary for games within the last decade or so? Do we have Magic and Pokemon to thank for this constant reliance on cards? I can adapt, but it makes for a busy, precarious tabletop.


Every September

Someone said in conversation recently: "How many times do you really reread a book?" Well, I'm going on 16 times for one in particular. For 16 years, I've mentioned that: "it's that time again"! As Autumn rushes in with piles of cumulus fractus to cumulus mediocris clouds making flame colored tree leaves stand out stark against their blue gray masses, and cold, dry winds from the north make the change of season rains colder, and the scents more crisp, it's time to read Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight.

First, Dragonlance fans will immediately know that 16 years is off. It's been around 27 years. The book's first printing was in 1984. So where was I? Slow on the uptake of course.

But why? 16 years, every year, the same book? Because it's THE definitive piece of 80's high fantasy literature? Because it's way easier and just as emotionally fulfilling as reading Tolkien's Lord of the Rings? Yes and yes, and more besides. Reading the book, you can tell two things: This was an early effort by the authors -- which in no way detracts from the tale told, and the absolute "life" of the characters within. The neat part about that is these characters were born from play-testing the game modules, and it shows. Not as a summary or best-of of an AD&D play session, but as storytelling born from a great time roleplaying the game! It immediately rounds out and animates Tanis, Sturm, Goldmoon & Riverwind, the Majere Brothers, Tasselhoff, Laurana, Tika, Fizban and all the rest in a way that is immediately effective without loads of flowery description. Dragons of Autumn Twilight is a fun, tense, satisfying read and I never get tired of it. It's a great way for fantasy readers or even just book/ereader fans in general to see in the change of seasons.

I'd like to convey a massive, heartfelt recommnedation to read this book, and ultimately the Chronicles Trilogy which it begins.(I'll admit here I have not yet read the Lost Chronicles Trilogy, also by Weis and Hickman that takes places within the time frame of the original trilogy and I'm not sure that I want to. Like Forgotten Realms or the Star Wars EU, I look at the Lost Chronicles with trepidation. Every last blade of grass and every time a character breaks wind doesn't need to be cataloged, honestly. Some mystery is good.)


Cream City Blood Bowl Pitch Ready

The Blood Bowl Pitch is finally ready for Play. The dugouts are in -- with a clearly human slant to the architecture, the "sponsors" have their ads placed, the lines are down and the grass is mowed.

Now, in this age of PC game awesomeness

how do you convince Blood Bowl players it's better to roll dice across the table from someone instead of sitting on your arse by a computer that does every and all in-game calculation for you? Shouldn't be too hard! See ya on the pitch!

Notes on construction: I tend to use a lot of throw away stuff when I build. Some people would call that: "garbage". The pitch itself was that pill-y styrofoam insulation from a crib and the pressboard supporting it I rescued from a dumpster, oddly enough it matched the foam. The score boxes, re-roll boxes and turns are all the 25mm sqare bases from GW topped with matting material that I rescued from an artist's scrap pile. The numbers are actually from a Michaels craft store that conveniantly came in blue and red. The dug outs are more foam cut to fit with a foam cutter, topped with an awesom product called "Woodsies" -- thin popsicle sticks basically, over wall made from card under a cereal box roofs. The white zone markings are 1/16" tile spacers and the movement box markings were done over the top of the paint and static grass with a green Sharpie.


Not in the face!!!

You ever have one-of-those-games? Originally, this was going to be a simple battle report. Unfortuntely, it begins and ends just like this:

Spiders and hooves... you don't get it?

These are the last things my Warhammer Dwarf army saw before being summarily annhilated by goblins and beastmen.




They were beaten so badly the pulp that was my Longbeards unit -- the one with the "general" in it -- smelled strongly of brown ale urine. Even the undead my dwarfs had allied with for this game had pissed themselves we were beaten so badly. I know, I know, they would never ally with each other but that was hardly the point. It was a learning experience! And by "learning" I mean "schooled".

Absolutely everything that could go wrong went wrong... but only for our side. I'm no stranger to losing games;
I've lost an entire 2000point Space Marine force in less than 3 full turns, left to play 3 more turns with a single model. Sometimes, however rarely, I've even inlficted some suffering to a lesser degree on opponents. To be fair, these things largely go 50/50. Even power-gamers used to waving their pricks around in one hand with their supercharged army lists in their other, lose as much as they win, I'll bet. It's about what you emphasize.

But the staggering wave of crap dice rolls and just plain bad luck that dogged me and my fellow general Nick, from the very first turn's opening dice roll was nothing short of awe inspiring, or tear inducing, which ever comes first.

You can talk about good sportsmanship, you can say our tactics weren't sound, you could even recommend how our set up could have been done differently,
but that would be like lecturing a pencil about how best to dive into a pencil sharpener. From the first entirely failed magic phase by my partner to my dwarf canon misfiring immediately, we were marked for doom.

My last standing unit needed to roll snake eyes to not run away like the sad sacks the rest of the army turned out to be and... After watching graveguard humiliated and made inept in the face of super-regenerative trolls, after watching these same trolls make my dwarfs disappear by puking on them -- no really -- after seeing small goblin chariots rape and destroy undead and dwarf alike, at will, after suffering a bray-shaman cast 3 times with irresistable force, neutering the runes I took to dispell magic and NOT dying, after watching blood knights murdered by a fething doom diver, after seeing my longbeards unmanned and trampled, after all our attacks were made moot by well made saves, after every hopelessly lost close-combats against outrageous odds born of a clearly skewed point cost system, after I, myself as a player, was physically done and slapping myself and moving around like an ADHD poster boy to stay coherent... this one unit...

my original dwarf unit, bought on a whim...

...rolled snake eyes and stayed in the game.

Well shit. If they're staying, I ain't going either. Write it in the book of grudges and see you on the battlefield you bastards.


Sunday Night Blood Bowl

Tonight, The Ironheed Manglers met the Morrsleib Manglers on the new Milwaukee Pitch to test it's suitability. Only about 2/3's completed, it held up just fine and there was much mangling up and down the pitch!

The dwarves stomped the Chaos beastmen into the dust, sending 4 to the dugout in VERY short order:

one pushed right off the pitch, one K-O'd & two seriously injured for the rest of the game. But, a dropped ball just outside the Ironheed Mangler's End Zone...

...and some fast hoofwork and a great pass on the part of #4 saw the score 1-zip Morrsleib.

The perfect storm continued at the opening kick-off of the second half for Chaos as once again, #4 (Mugglwump), ran the ball up the center with plenty of protection to score again.

As the Dwarves tried to rally, time on the game ran out. (The building contractors got wind the pitch was in use and the two teams hightailed it out of there...)


The BloodBowl Pitch takes shape

To be fair, 1987 is when the first edition of the Star Wars RPG was released for the saga's 10th anniversary, so my meager funds at the time went heavily towards that instead of Blood Bowl. However, now putting that 24 year old regret to rest permanently, my Blood Bowl pitch begins to take shape:

Love the weathervane... I ought to make that weather-VEIN and paint it purplish blue, eh? All hail Nuffle!


Don't know what it was...

...seriously, no freakin' clue. It was in a lot I got off Ebay when I "needed" some Mechs for Battletech. I don't even know if it's a legitimate mech from FASA or Catalyst Game Labs or what...

It's just sort of a blobby, crappy, robotnic-y kinda slab-o'-metal and I was sure I had a place for it in the depths of my garbage can! But wait!!! KIT BASH TO THE RESCUE!! First, lose the Hex base. Next cram some balsa bits under those wayward toes to balance it on it's original goofy base. (Much easier than trimming all that metal) Rip it in half and readjust like so:

KIND OF looks like it really wanted to be a 40K Dreadnought before it wound up as foul. We're gonna operate: Next do a little trim of a Chaos Space Marine vehicle combi-bolter's flamer half and cram it in there for stability. Add the creepy Chaos head from the command vehicle sprue...on a neck:

Add some of this:

Put these there...

...and those there:

"Hold it! Hold it! What's with the deadly-discs there. Fething lame!"

No-no. No lame. First off, those are engine parts from Anakin Skywalker's podracer. In their new home on that mounting they could be giant table-saws with a monomolecular edge, or they could be big electric heating elements that go through armor like an electric stove goes through a vinyl record, or they could generate a null field between them that just makes things go away -- the point is, if you were 28mm tall, you wouldn't want them waved in your direction by this thing.

Where was I?

A ChAoS Dreadnought!! All stretched out and crazy-bat-shit nuts about slaughtering whatever it comes across, "friend" or foe! How does it stack up against it's more noble and mentally stable counterparts?

Not bad... not bad at all. Just big enough to menace even these two guys, yet not so big as to look out-of-place. Look at how close the legs are compared to the other two. It's like this Chaos one could run really really ostrich fast; like it could chase dudes down and then peer around corners, hunting with it's creepy, too-many cameras and eyes, seeing them pissing in their hiding spots before it flames them or cuts the overhead pipes down on them. And as it's running it's slipping and tipping off balance while it's blades screams against the steelcrete building and rubble...

See, kit-bashing for Chaos is fun! And the moral of this story is never throw away your bits! There's always something else to be made or modified!


What's a third coat of paint?

Been a pretty good year for gaming. Original D&D, Superhero RPG game based on the 4E Gamma World system, Battltech, free trial periods of World of Warcraft, Axis & Allies, AND I finally learned to play Warhammer. (Even built up a nice sized dwarf army thanks to E-bay and a friend's generosity.)

Been a good year for modeling too. My $5.00 glue gun is the best modeling purchase I ever made! But that's for another post. This is a brief illustration of my turning back the clock as implied in my last post.

Most of my original Space Marines were lost in a move, but were replaced and painted as quickly as possible. They've existed as two homemade codex chapters with wildly different paint schemes to match. (Silver & Brown and Viridian Green) and now are being made over in the colors of one of my favorite legions: The Salamanders. Despite the awful novel bearing their name, they remain one of the noblest and humble of the Space Marine chapters. Guarding the rear, protecting the convoy, helping civilians, ruthlessly beating the living hell out of the enemies of the Imperium, they are one of the best faces of the Space Marines in the 40K Universe (even if that face is pitch black with glowing red eyes per their peculiar geneseed reaction to their volitile homeworld Nocturne.)

Showing their age for sure. Still, green's definitely their color.


All about the Values

This being primarily a gaming blog, how can I be the one to ignore the 500 pound gorilla in the room that is the latest price increase from:

"You gotta pay to play with my resin balls, bitches!!"

Although it would take ten times the space and take ten times as long to read, it would be easier to run through all the prices, illustrate all the increases and bitch and moan bitterly... but there's been plenty of that already, and not just by me personally, but all over the web and blogosphere. For all the relevant info, nobody summarizes the history, price increases and product releases better than Jay's Workshop. Definitely read his take on this situation.

While I did my minimal required reading on the subject trying to wrap my mind around all the moves Games Workshop is making, one financial expert set everything sharply in perspective. (For those of you in a traditional marriage, you're already way ahead of me on guessing that "expert" was my wife.) "The company hasn't changed it's practices," she said, "you've changed. You don't value their product like you used to."

Well... ain't getting old a bitch.

She's right... mostly. And I'll qualify that statement and the small dilemna that remains for me as to how to perceive all this.

True, when I bought my first set of Space Marines in 1988:

And around the same time period I also picked up:

I wasn't a) Married, b) a father of three, c) Staring an upside down 30 year mortgage in the face, d)smothered in debt of all kinds, e) paying utilities, f) paying insurance premiums for health, life, car, homeowners, etc... you get the picture.

Now that I DO have to consider those things, I don't necessarily value a single model the size and weight of a very fat paperclip. That, ofcourse, is my wife's practical point, and it does make a lot of sense. For example, if I remember correctly, this model used to cost 25.00 for three in a box set: Now, it will cost $30.00 (U.S.) for one model. Clearly, with the weight of my other considerations, I may not value this model like I might if it were 1988 or even if I were just 23 years younger, period. This logic extends to the entire product line, and I can also assuage my pride by conceding I own 3 versions of the game's rules and more models than I'll be able to paint any time soon. So if need be, as younger people with richer parents move on to sleeker and more expensive editions, I can happily exist in another era on the tabletop, much like I do with Dungeons & Dragons.

But then, there's the side of me that breaks from logic and acceptance that says: $30.00 bucks for that?? Really? Are you F-----G kidding me you greedy s--t bag f---s!"

My contention is, despite all the practical business considerations involved with GW's decision as a whole, I can't help but wonder at their values over the years. This was a company that captured not only my eye & imagination, but my loyalty for decades with things like this: Yeah, that's right, an underarm deodorant bottle dressed up as a "hover" tank, a few rules and a: "have a good time" philosophy. Now, in appearence and price they have the "cadillac" of miniature lines:
and the increasingly limited customers who will be able to afford them. (As a side note, I can't help but remember right now that GM/Cadillac is sponsoring the movie honoring China's Communist Party on their 90th year of "service" to the Chiniese people. Yeah. Great allusion there GW...)

In the end, make no mistake, GW DOES have fantastic looking miniatures worth taking your time on to model and paint and stare lovingly at for a disturbingly long time, after you've sprayed that last coat of dullcoat. The rules to use those miniatures are now easier than ever to learn and are incredibly streamlined. Yes, they're designed for the "draw" as opposed to actual winning and losing -- but that symptomatic of the times we live in. Also, don't be fooled, their target market is not the Baby Boomers and Gen X'ers with a sense of permanance and nostalgia, but their kids, brought up on video games and "apps", the internet and TV programs we as children would have found unwatchable. Hell, there are services now like tumblr for people that can't be bothered with the amount of time it takes to "tweet" or blog. And yet, it's those little turds with their own waxing and waning values they need to snag, even at the expense of us "veterens" (i.e. old people) who have given to the point of giving-out when it comes to our cash for their stuff. Again, I don't know what that says about GW's values or if they're going to go full circle someday and be catering to underarm deodorant bottle converters out there, in an old age home, as art therapy or something, in some not-so-distant future.


Ain't she sweet?

If I had only known, if I had taken two seconds to do the math... if if if.. bla-bla-bla. Better late than never, right? After roughly $22.00 and a total of 2 hours active work, help from a friend and a donation of felt from an art instructor, my gaming table is ready for the dice to start rolling! Yeah, there's still sawdust on the floor, and maybe some bits of glue, oh, and some Lego... but the table's good-to-go!

What should I call this space? "Dork dungeon" has already been taken -- and rightly so. Hm... "Nerd's nook", "dork den", "Geek's garden", "poindexter place", "The Alcove", "The Bastille"... ooh, like that last one. "The Bastille". Or maybe "the Cell", (or is that too Jennifer Lopez?) Or maybe my kids will come up with something... For now, the title of the room is up in the air. What's for sure is the house has gaming at it's heart.


Sarah Jane

Elisabeth Sladen: 1948-2011. The first time I caught Doctor Who in 1982 it was a monster movie blitz: the Wirrn, the Sontarans, the Daleks and the Cybermen, and there was Sarah Jane Smith at the Doctor's side. She's gone now. But like the Doctor, we can go back in time and see her adventures on DVD and listen to her commentaries and remember.

From digital spy:

Tom Baker's Tribute


4E Superheroes

4th Edition D&D is reversed engineered WoW, there's no getting around that. But the same system heavily modified for Gamma World THEN applied to a Superhero game? We'll see! Tales of Lakefront City Heroes here we come! Meet the Real Life Superheroes League: Using Heromachine 2.5 and some kit bashed minatures (That the kids painted mostly ;))

Grey Matter! He'll make you think twice about committing a crime, literally!

The Kitchen! Serving up Justice with a knuckle sandwich on the side!

Kitchenette! This flying waitress has a TIP for you! Stay out of trouble!

The Woods Girl! With an affinity for nature and monkey rage This park ranger will keep you on the path...of good!

Zoo Pal Girl! Able to shapeshift into animals AND become invisible, evil-doers had better hope she also needs to sleep sometime!