Archives for June 2008

I’ve added Itty Bitty Battlefields to the Blog Roll

This new blog features 1/300th scale terrain discussion. Looks like it is well done and already has 3 good articles with photos! Give them a look. They are in the blog roll in the right hand column. Select “read more…” to see all the latest news.

Japanese Art of War 2nd Edition to become computer game?

It could happen. Interested parties are looking to make it into a game for Facebook. Turn based, easy networking, actual combat… it could be a blast. I’ve send the designers a copy of 1st edition along with my extensive notes for 2nd edition. I plan on working closely with them to help create the right flow. The Age of the World at War may be upon us! More details as this develops.

Halo 3 – The fun and the problems with a system open to anyone

Well I finally made MVP in Halo 3. I’ve played 518 games now and have only made it twice. Once last night in a social match (no achievement for it) and then later in a ranked match. I was psyched! Overall it was a fantastic night. We had as many as 8 Buttermen online which meant lots of team games with people we really like. There were some spectacular moments. Biscuitboy Spartan-lasered someone in mid-air. It was one of those fluke shots that he was excited about. I managed to get two kills in a VIP Rocketrace (usually people are invulnerable in that game) when I used a rocket to flip their Mongoose ATV off the cliff edge on the “Rats Nest” map.

Then there was the inevitable. The bigots and homophobes, the trash talkers, the ramblers, etc. A debate arose in the group that was discussed this morning a bit more about how it really hurts the XBox Live service. The problem I see with the complaint system is that nothing stops someone from unfairly accusing you. I think a better system is to look at how often someone gets added to a mute list. The mute list is, you guessed it, a way of making it so you never have to listen to someone across the VOIP network that is otherwise incredibly useful in XBL. When the threshold gets to a certain point that person starts to be monitored. If it turns out during the monitoring that they are breaking the rules – they are punished (fines and temporary ban to all of XBL.) If the person appears to be a minor then there should be some sort of consequences for the adult whose credit card purchased the account. Put money fines into the contract for breaking the rules and the problem is solved. 20,000 bars of soap later the racists, bigoted and homophobic kids (and adults, though I use the term begrudgingly) will change their tune or face the threat of temporary banning from the system. Keep the fines low but annoying; that way it makes it so that the offenders really can’t justify suing Microsoft. I think it could work. Plus I’d like to think that the kids who are ruining my experience on XBL are getting the tar beaten out of them when their parents get fined. Is that wrong? Use the comment button below to chime in.

Road to Legend – Through our first dungeon

Last night we had another round of Road to Legend. We managed to get the party through the 3rd level of the dungeon they were in. Once again, the smaller levels have improved the game for us. Some people probably would hate spending 3 nights doing the dungeons but we had a blast because each level was playable in the time constraints we have on Tuesday nights. It was also Al’s birthday. So there was cake involved! Someone heard he was “into gaming” and sent him a poker themed cake. ahem. 🙂

Anyway, we had extra people show up and we shoehorned them into the game. Basically they got basic characters that I equipped. They helped clear the level faster. I did earn an extra threat (5 per turn instead of 4) to compensate. I got very lucky in my play last night in spite of the fact that I forgot a special feature of the dungeon we were using (it had pits that I could move!) There was a profusion of razorwings and dark priests (my MVPs!) in the game. The party handily dispatched them but only earned 8cp to my 15. I got lucky and managed to kill off three 4 point characters (one was a cursed 3 pointer). I earned another 2 from a weaker character and 1 when they opened a treasure chest. One of their cp’s came from opening the chest and not getting any good ‘lewt’ – sort of a consolation prize. The game now stands 31 to 37, favoring the Overlord. So after one dungeon we are at 68 points, It won’t take long before we hit the 200 points to cross into Silver campaign level. I better level up my dudes with all my experience points – pronto!

I think our next session will involve going over in detail the steps needed to upgrade the characters and the various options. Given how useful the power dice are, I think some of our members will be adding quite a few to their characters. The new silver and gold power dice are excellent additions to the game and only come in Road to Legend. I can use them too, as Overlord, but it costs me threat. Last night I boosted my last shot in the game with my remaining threat. The Gold die is able to produce 3 surges and 3 damage. Alas it came up blank but I was still pretty far ahead. Other things the party can consider are beefing up Tamilar, adding to their known skills and stocking up on supplies. Heck, for a mere 250 gold they can get a random copper treasure! Sweetness! So far I have nothing but praise for RtL.

Nashcon 2008 AAR

Nashcon has come and gone. I took almost a full week off. It went by so quickly. Rohn and Pete came down on Wednesday night and left Sunday to spend Memorial Day with friends and family back home. While they were here we had our share of adventures. On Thursday we decided to check out the Jack Daniel’s Distillery. Pete is a squire there so our quest was to explore the place and check out his property. Yes, he is landed gentry having been bequethed 1 sq. inch of land!

However, this is Tennessee and you can’t just zip from A to B. There are a lot of things to discover between here and there. So we took our time. Using GPS we found the location of Hoover’s Gap, made famous by Wilder’s Lightning Brigade. Shortly there after we found Beach Grove, another obscure Civil War battlefield.

There wasn’t much to see but we absorbed the vibes and chalked up two more battlefields to our vast list. We lunched at Busy Corner, TN. I believe the name derived from intense marketing because it wasn’t very busy at all! In fact Rohn said as we left, “oops, I blinked!”

From there we visited Tullahoma. There wasn’t a lot to see there but we did come across a refurbished log cabin. It is amazing to think that people lived without an XBOX 360 or a toilet.

Finally we made it!

Pete enjoyed his visit. His 1″ plot of grass was being well fertilized by a cow.

After that we headed back, hit a bar, drank some of old Jack’s sauce then headed home. I don’t recall any gaming that night. If we did anything it was extremely light stuff. We settled into the hotel.

The next Day we got up and hit the convention. Nashcon is a small convention but a good one. About 200 people show up each year. It would be nice to see more come but it is a successful regional con and so long as it remains in the black I guess that is all that matters. In years past it had as many as 500 attendees but I believe they had a much broader base of games, venturing outside the realm of historical miniatures. They may have even had roleplaying back then.

My first game was set in Vietnam, 1967. I was the VC commander. The US players were coming in on choppers for a search and destroy mission. It was the first time I have ever won a game on the first half of the first round where I lost initiative. If you have seen Eric the Viking then you will be familiar with the scene where a Viking is being corrected in the field with the line “First pillage THEN burn…” So apparently someone forgot to inform the US that Search and Destroy is done in that order.

Here we see a nice village. Two of the buildings are buring because as soon as they got into range the US zipped some holy moses rockets into them. Note that no one is armed in the picture. The US player racks up negative points for every civilian killed. They also rack them up for loss of livestock. The US players didn’t seem to grasp this concept and hunted down the livestock too. It was rather surreal and, to be honest, not very mature play on their behalf. My guys took it in stride though and we did manage to rack up an impressive 3:1 point ratio at the end which in anyone’s book is a complete victory.

Pete ran a Check Your 6! game that I wanted to play in. However he had more than enough players. It looked lovely. He has done a marvelous job on the figures.

The most stunning game was the Stalingrad Game. Totally fantastic! I was not able to do it justice with photos, sad to say. It really was a remarkable site to see.

I ran a Disposable Heroes game. I had fun but it was a tough slog for the Germans who’s main advantage was being hidden in ambush and main disadvantage was having a scarcity of troops. However they only had to knock out the two tanks the US had. As it was while the game played fine, Pete decided he really dislikes the rules. In particular he was upset over the modifiers for an accuisition roll that the US player had to make. What it comes down to is that he didn’t like the abstractions. This is ultimately the most valid subjective value anyone can make about a set of rules. He doesn’t like the flow of it. A set of rules he favors now is I Ain’t Been Shot Mum (IABSM) which I don’t like either. The more you know about a period the more specialized you get in your taste in rules.

In many ways I think the best thing that could happen to wargaming would be furthering computer interaction so that the abstractions are hidden and it is more results driven. The key that prevents this is that currently the interfaces slow the games down a lot. Also a lot of computer assist games doen’t do a good job of giving good feedback. In the era of highend sound cards they should at least produce the sounds of the battle as a way of reinforcing the results displayed. What would make this work best is to have an interface where the computer is using a webcam to observe the action. I’ve seen some really amazing computer vision systems that would work if adapted properly.

However I would still want some die rolling. Lets face it, it is entertaining when some guys like Bob reach for the lucky die for the critical game winning shot!