Archives for 2007

The Year 2007 in Review

Well 2007 brought a lot of interesting changes for me. I’ve moved to a new place in Nashville away from what I was referring to as the OK Corral. This was because the crime in the area had grown violent and pervasive. The weekend before I moved out a drug dealer wasn’t happy with the rate of payment by a customer and took the boy’s puppy and shot it with his pistol. Mind you the dealer was, himself, a boy (19) and hopped up on drugs. He left the weapon behind with a full set of prints and then passed out at home. Hopefully he’s sitting in jail right now. Unlike my home state of Massachusetts, the State of Tennessee takes law breaking seriously.

This year saw the Star Wars miniatures game fall out of favor with me. I still enjoy playing it but they had a disastrous quality drop in their May release this year and that killed the series for me. I got a case of the Force Unleashed but I haven’t even opened it yet. If you can’t sell Star Wars stuff to me then something is terribly wrong. Seriously…

What took over for Star Wars was another pre-painted game called AT-43. This is a sci-fi game put out by the wonderful people at Rackham. Yes, I am supporting the French. I’m half French myself! The figures are quite nice overall and the paint jobs are definitely better than the Star Wars figures. They have 4 factions as of this writing. The main idea behind the fluff is that 43 years after a traumatic war that shifted the planet Ava out of its normal orbit the losers of that war are back and this time they are playing for keeps. The Therians are a highly advanced culture that seeks infinite life. They seek to stop even the eventual collapse of our universe upon itself. Their ambition knows no limits. They are a group mind connected by an EMI grid and their primary technology is nano-tech. Against them are the United Nations of Ava (UNA) and the commie Red Blok (a splinter faction of the humans.) Fighting along side the Therians at times are the uplifted Great Apes known as the Karmans. They are perhaps the most unique species and they are amazingly tough. Due to their size and strength they are wielding what to the humans would be auto-cannons and their heavy weapons are truly fearsome.

The thing that tells me the game is pretty good is that the conversations about what is broken in the game are localized to two simple things. The first thing that people bitch endlessly about is using AFVs for cover. They can block line of sight but they don’t provide cover in the normal sense in the rules as written. Not a problem. Just about everyone house rules this to say they DO provide cover. The second is artillery. Basically artillery is incredibly accurate. As in, I’ve never missed using their normal rules. The new rule is simple. If all your tests to hit miss, then the shot deviates 10cm (widest blast radius is 10cm so this is likely a miss on everything you intended to hit. Each missed test is a deviation of 1cm. Both rules will have errata soon so the bitching can stop.

What conventions did I go to this year? I know I went to Nashcon and Historicon. Was that it? I think it might have been. I missed Cold Wars to go on operations with the 861st QM for an air assault and sling load training exercise. It was great fun and my escort, Captain Lane is a hell of a guy. I might put up some video concerning that on this blog in 2008.

I got started on my quest to play the first 10 missions of Descent. I’ve run the game a number of times but the party keeps getting killed off around mid-game. Its not an easy game. I might make the next run a little easier. Its not that the players aren’t up to it – its just that I am the guy who has all of the rules and its mainly light entertainment so unless I can get a consolidated copy of the rules to the players they will continually not know all of their options even though I try to tell them what they are. Sometimes you just have to read it and think about it. Anyway they have succeeded in the first 3 missions with 7 to go. I love the game and we all have fun even when people start to get killed around turn 3! They are a good bunch of guys but they need to all be tanks as subtlety is not in their vocabulary!

I played a lot of Runebound this year as well. I love that game. I love the supplements that have come out for it. I hate that it takes a dozen hours for 4 people to finish it though. There are ways to skip ahead in that game but all of them are pretty blatant cheats. Still it produces a fun game.

I got Dunwitch Horror this year but haven’t played it yet. The only person I played Arkham Horror with isn’t around anymore so until I find another Cthulhu fan the game will be gathering dust.

I can’t think of any opportunities I got to play the Down in Flames games either. I love Zero, Corsairs and Hellcats, Eighth Air Force and of course Rise of the Luftwaffe. Fantastic game just don’t have anyone here to play against.

I did play Wings of War a lot. I got one each of every miniature they made and I am finally caught up on all of the supplements and additional fighter packs. It’s a simple game of WWI dog fighting. I really enjoy that game a lot. It is the perfect air game for me – not too complicated, fast play, reasonable results, and a Hollywood Land ending everytime! If you see me in a silk scarf and leather cap with googles you know what is up.

On the Xbox front I got a few games this year. Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 was fun for a while. The single player story line was a bit better than the improbable GRAW 1’s was. The missions were nicely done but there wasn’t much additional work done on the graphics which were a little weak for the platform. The Online battles I got into were epic however. I replayed Ghost Recon 2 on Original Xbox during my move and while the graphics sucked the game play was great and the mission and story line was fantastic. I also played Full Spectrum Warrior and it’s sequel Ten Hammers. Both are good games but they play more like chess than FPS. I enjoyed them a lot but they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.

Gears of War was fun – tough – a good value until I tried multi-player. Then it sucked. Some people may like it on multi-player but I found it lacked all of its charm. Graphically it’s beautiful. The Co-op play is good. But multiplayer felt like it was added on at the last minute. It almost beat Republic Commando for worst multiplayer ever. RC was such a huge disappointment when it came out. I was expecting Rainbow Six 3 in the Star Wars universe and I got a 1980’s arcade game with better graphics. One of the few games I ever sold back to Game Crazy. It stank that bad.

The real winners this year are Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4. Both games are incredible both single player and multi-player. COD4’s graphics are the best and most authentic looking I’ve ever seen. Smoke, vegetation, heat distortion, it has it all done right. RPG smoke trails look a bit off but they serve the purpose. Halo 3 has Forge and Theater which I’ve put to good use extensively.

This year I had Combat Painter (Anthony!) paint up some cowboys for me. He painted two factions for Legends of the Old West. I picked up the game around the time of Historicon and was totally hooked. I got a 2nd rulebook and sent it to Pete English in the hopes that he too gets hooked. I’ve run a couple of gun fights with it and it is a lot of fun. If you really hate Games Workshop and can’t think rationally anytime they are named then skip this one. Otherwise give it a shot. It gives reasonable Hollywood results!

For 2008 I have my game pitting modern US Army vs. well armed Ape Insurgents! I have a series of AT-43 games to get ready for. I am planning on going to Conquest Convention in Las Vegas! This has some challenges as I can’t bring a lot of big heavy stuff so my terrain all has to fit in an easy to ship box! I am thinking of getting a Zuzzy Mat for the ground and getting walls and other tough terrain pieces in resin to round out the collection. It should be fun. A buddy from Los Angeles said he’d meet me there. I think I’d also like to start putting together some very large Star Wars games. I would like to do Tatooine and Bespin (Cloud City). I have a Millenium Falcon and Slave 1 that would be perfect. Aintsy makes some nice platforms for Cloud City. I think it is doable.

2007 saw this blog grow. I now get a healthy number of return visitors each day. I have done better at keeping the blog up to date and I think 2008 will see it really become a regular thing for me.

Here’s to all of my readers finding more time in their lives to socialize with friends and play a few fun games. Happy New Year!

Confrontation Trailer

This trailer is excellent! It is very movie like and does a great job of displaying how cool Rackham’s fantasy line is. As you all know I love AT-43. This is their fantasy game and I think they will do great things with it. I actually have a ton of their older line fantasy in metal. I am told that it will all be compatible. I can’t wait to try it out.

Give the trailer a look – it is one of the best miniatures related promo-pieces I’ve ever seen.

Halo 3 Ranking System

Yesterday I posted this at IGN

Halo 3 – thy ranking system has finally got me hooked
You know, I thought the ranking system in Halo 3 was interesting but, well, a bit obtuse. I mean it has experience AND skill. The first is kind of a useless feature since it only shows game loyalty. The second is vital in matching you with like skilled players.

However I’ve finally hit a point where it is something I am paying attention to a lot. You see, I’m a casual player. I don’t play all that much but I do like to constantly improve my game. Recently however I had a really good day and now I am really close to earning the rank of Lieutenant. To me this is an actual milestone. There is that dividing line between the officers and the enlisted and I’ve never wanted anything so much before. I’m as I type this 7 exp away. I went from having an awesome day on Sunday to a crap day on Monday. Several games on Monday were a total waste. No wait make that all of them. I gained nothing! I am so close I just need to win a few! Today I got two more wins. Tonight. With the new maps… We shall see. will I become Officer Material tonight or not?

Let’s hope so!

Last night the new maps came out and with a “little help from my friends” we won a few games fair and square and I advanced to being lieutenant! It was a glorious achievement for this casual gamer! I was on a list at 1AM that had nothing but officers – a sea of silver rank icons and I was one of them. I profoundly enjoyed that.

The new maps are nice. I was really amazed though at the number of people vetoing the maps as they would come up in matchmaking. There were only 3 so the variety is of course limited. I was more than happy to play the same game multiple times on the new map. It takes a long time to really know a map (what with people shooting at you while you gaze at it in all of it’s glory) and this investment of time was worth it. It will make me a better player. We already had some really amazing moments last night. My absolute favorite was seeing a teammate in the turret of a Warthog getting shot then rammed by an enemy Warthog. While my teammate was slain I was able to avenge his death with two of the enemy (with Biscuitboy being one of them!) I rammed their Warthog with mine and pushed it over the edge! I was actually in a bit of disbelief on that one. I will have to search the other game movies because I think I did a second vehicle that way but this time using the gravity hammer…

All in all a very enjoyable time. To see the in-game video you need Halo 3 and the maps. You can download the film clips from last night here.

There is no promise that they will be there when you get to the above link (some people will be reading this for the first time months from today) but there will always be something interesting.

Look for my Knights map and game varient. Its a capture the flag game with a medieval theme! More Knights maps to follow. I’ll even make one for the DLC content.

**Edits (1) fixed broken link**

[AT-43] Trench Battle


We ran an interesting AT-43 game last night. It featured a small number of troops – 1500 UNA vs 1000 Red Blok. The Red Blok held a trench line with three objective points. The win condition was to control more of objectives than the enemy at the game end.

To cut to the chase, the UNA lost. The UNA showed up with 3 fire toads (2 normal and 1 Iron Rain), 1 Steel Trooper unit, 1 Jam TacArms and 1 Steel TacArms units. The only cover was the trench line. The UNA held back and shot up the Red line. They had a Nakovalny and a lot of infantry. The ‘Nak’ instantly became the most important target on the board. It survived into turn 2 but was a complete smoking ruin before that turn was out.

The infantry was difficult to dig out. If we had the luxury of time we could have stayed back and hit them with lasers and MG fire and softened them up but the fact is that that was going to be a very slow process. What we needed was mortar fire. We didn’t have it so it meant we had to go in.

I was pushing the UNA and I made what I consider in hind sight a critical mistake. I should have placed my Steel Troopers behind the firetoads. The would have had cover and I would be able to use the take cover combat drill. Another tactical issue was that I probably should have picked an objective and massed my forces to overwhelm it. The use of medics makes it important to overload units – especially when you are using low shot-count systems like Fire Toads.

Overall a very fun game. It felt like a WWII battle actually. We used the lovely Hudson & Allen trenchworks which looked great. If only I had not forgotten my camera.

Chuck Norris Approved

While I don’t want Wonderful World to appear to be casting it’s endorsement one way or another for Presidential Candidates, I do want to provide my faithful readers (yeah, you three!) with some timely information about who Chuck Norris is endorsing!

Quartering a Division

Say, got a mess of figures you need to store, transport and keep safe? I know I do. I have about 2000 WWII 20mm figures. Nice stuff. I like to keep it organized, safe and I like to transport it when I need to run games. I’ve used Sabol Designs cases before but never one of this magnitude. It is practically luggage! I just purchased a Division Case for my 20mm collection. I don’t get as much use out of my collection because right now storage is a nightmare. Thanks to Sabol though I’ll be able to organize this stuff very easily. I am very much looking forward to it.

Metalstorm and iRobot join up to make The Terminator just one step more real

“This gun shoots through schools”:

The quote is from the movie “Johnny Dangerously” and is appropriate. Metalstorm and iRobot are in a joint venture to produce what we hope never gains self-awareness – the next generation of combat frames. Pretty intense stuff.

Click the title above for the full article.

"Follow Me!" he cried and so I did

Years ago when I was 14 I went to a gaming convention and met some amazing people. David Donovan and Pete English were there. They became friends for life. Pete and I played in a WWII game called Follow Me! I loved the experience because it really brought the war alive for me more than any film ever did.

Pete got a copy of the rules. Now that he is married and has a house full of kids he has to make sacrifices every now and then. He got his copy of “Follow Me!” the day we met. It pained him to think he’d have to throw it out because he was running out of space but I was there this past weekend and it had just as much sentimental value to me as it did to him so I have taken it. I am not sure how I will care for it but I’ll find a way. I don’t want it for the rules – there are plenty of other WWII rules I prefer now such as DHC7B. Its worn cover, dog eared pages and stains make it unattractive looking. But it was the first and so it will always be special. Though I didn’t wargame again until I met Jan Spoor many years later, this is definitely the experience that planted the seed.

The rules model so much. They were meant for Platoon or Reinforced Platoon action but by today’s standards they would be seen as very slow playing. I don’t know how accurate they are at simulating combat but there is a table for everything. For example one decision point is how fast are you going to drive your tank over broken ground to escape the guns of tank destroyers? There is a table that looks at the chance of a mechanical breakdown occuring because you are going too fast and being hard on the machine! Very few rules today cover such an issue.

I look at them more as role playing rules than wargame rules. You write your orders. You move everything simultaneously. You have a thousand decision points to contemplate. It is truely fascinating to contemplate. I remember in that first game the question was asked, how do you cross the intervening distance between the crater you are in to the woodline over the field? The rules were meant to cover that kind of detail.

Another friend in that same game was Nat St. John who went on to form the St. John Group. He stated a few years ago that learning how to play “Follow Me!” made statistics in college easy. I have to agree. I think it did the same for me.

G8 Timer Update


Samuel BarberAdagio for Strings

The timer worked great last night. We played the 2nd Scenario again in Descent. I said I was going to give 6 minutes to the players and 4 minutes to myself to complete the turn. Killer Ken said they weren’t going to need all those minutes. The turns can seem to go quick but on the first turn the players took 10 minutes. Once we got used to the timer the turns took only 5 for the players and about 3 for me. I like how it focused us all to play and make decisions quicker.

The post is an experiment to see if I can embed songs from iTunes.

As for the game, the players won. We declared that the scenario was hard enough and would have required about 5-6 hours to actually complete. I don’t see why the giants were made so tough. The party did a good job of utilizing their special abilities. In particular one character got to set Guard for free and set it on another player and that was critical in taking down the first giant. Killer Ken and Atrocity Al seem to have a really good grip on the rules. The others are coming along too. Next time we run scenario 3. I am looking forward to it! Nasty Naga are the nuisance in that one.

Fulda Gap 1985!

My how life comes full circle. The first miniatures wargame I played was Cold War Micro Armor. Last Tuesday Joe Collins ran a 1/285th scale Fulda Gap scenario with Soviets rushing to capture a bridge head and Americans and Germans defending. It was a fun game! It came down to the wire with the American’s gaining the slightest of advantage but enough for victory.

The rules were Modern Spearhead and while I’ve played and hated those rules before they seemed to work here. Maybe in the past they were not run right or maybe this time there were modifications but either way I greatly enjoyed the experience.

In an unintended tribute to all the old movies, this game was won with the cavalry literally coming over the hill to save the day!

Lots of photos (totally unedited so far) can be found here: