Monday, 27 May 2013

The Dreaded D-Pad

I went to the Rugby on Sunday with several others including a good mate who is and always has been an avid console gamer. We've crossed paths with roleplay many years ago but he never took to miniature gaming, prefering D-Pad to D6.

Catching up gaming wise and chatting about Dark Heresy I was describing our various recent issues and frustrations and suddenly had something a of mini eureka moment. As a player group we've got in a lot of hours with the character sheets, we've all also played a lot of virtual RPG with WoW, Knights of the Old Republic and Skyrim eating horrific numbers of hours between us.

We qualify as proper geeks, just with the ability to shower more often!

At the end of the day all RPG adventures are essentially linear, you've got to get from the start to the end, but it's all about how you get there. To me the real skill of a GM is to create what I refer to as the "Illusion of Choice" i.e. that the players have actual choice as to how they go about things. I feel that a major GM skill is being able deal with things on the fly, it's soemthing I really enjoy as a GM. As such I tend to write most of my own adventures, often by bullet point, and when I use pre-written stuff I tend to strip them down and basically scavenge the bits I want, quite often from the pages of 2000AD!

In recent years RPG games have expanded their play area massively, the ability to just bimble about along with multiple character builds and options is a minimum requirement.

 Having recently played a LOT of Skyrim I took a mace and shield warrior build through to level 35 before needing a change. Restarting with an archer / asssassin the whole gaem ahs been revitalised for me. Avoiding the main storyline and pursuing the Thieves Guild story I'm level 35 again having avoided dragons like the plague and repeating very few previously completed quests and haven't even begun to slow down.

So, having eventually arrived at my point have RPG video games spoilt us or simply raised the bar? Plenty of poor RPG style video games out there but they've all been designed and playtested right? The AI engine controls the virtual enviroment and everything in it, so it should all be down to the quality of the programmers / writers? With a traditional RPGyou introduce the human element coin, i.e. the ability to feck up vs the ability to react and be inspired.

To be honest I think I may have become a bit spoilt becasuse as much as it can be about the GM's ability to deal with the adventure, including it's limits and flaws, surely it's also about the playing group's ability to do the same warts, limits, flaws and all?

May just be time to help Mr C rather than just give feedback......damn it!! ;)

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Suffer not the HERETIC!

Sorry, I think, it's been a little while. No worries if you haven't missed me :)

To be honest I've possibly been a bit busy elsewhere or haven't really had too much to say, of actual interest, or show off. Been sneaking around on Skyrim a bit trying to get myself into the Thieves Guild as a prior to the Dark Brotherhood. Haven't really bothered with the main plot and haven't missed it! Figures wise I've built, based and sprayed up all my Dreadball season 2 to sit next to the Forge Fathers on the prep try, plenty ot get through :)

I have finalyy finished off the first batch of 40K cultists for Dark Heresy and have rather enjoyed them, they're nice figures and painted up well. I've got a lot more used to the clear bases now and have become something of a convert. A fairly limited, drab palette I varied my blocks as best I could to avoid as much repetition as possible. That's eight in the case and a dozen more to go, 16 PPs to kick start that one back into life.

Having missed a week we manged a session last Thursday (previous session here), minus Charlie, and spent the evening investigating n' that, not firing a single shot. We did all have a little pre-game heart to heart concerning recent difficulties in an attempt to align our understanding of the game mechanics, background, role etc and I'm happy to report that it was all very positive.

Chasing a few sideplots entirely of our own making we eventually made it to the site of the cathedral which, unexpectedly to us, has a wall and plenty of guns as well as a abbot who was too busy to see us. We had found the sacred rock on the trip and spent a lot of time documenting the various markings so got a yocal to translate which gave us another sacred site a day's travel away.

On the way up we felt that our Seer support hadn't been overly useful, they being sideplots of our own making, and his constant shooing along had aggravated one or two of us (not me for once honest!) so when he tried pulling rank over sacred site 2 there were a few open and honest exchanges. We'd also been spooked a mysterious dude in a big hat who had appeared on the rocks above us on the approach promptly disappearing leaving some ritual markings burned into the rock. We felt that we'd had no chance of getting anywhere near him and Super-Seer was, once again, less than forthcoming.

Cue discussion around the apparently overly linear nature of the adventure and a bit more picking at perceived plot-holes. It was at lest a constructive conversation and everyone went home happier about it. Hopefully next time we get to shoot someone, we're mcuh better at that, especially now we have the figures :)

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Han shot first!

Last night at Enfield Gamers there was a bit of learn with teacher as Rich took us through the intro adventure for Fantasy Flight's upcoming Star Wars RPG.

I'd been aware of it coming for a while and had taken a look at the preview on FF's site. I have to admit that as an experienced role-player, GM and fan of the SAGA rules, which I've also run, I was a little sceptical. In honestly I was probably also a little snobbish about the idea of intro adventurers. Yeah hardcore dungeon geek, None Shall Pass!

Armed with mug of tea I took my place and skimmed over my character sheet recognising the format and noticing the various different dice, of which there are a number.

The scenario involved the group attempting to step out on the local Tattoine Hutt crime lord and being chased into the local cantina. "What are each doing, you've got 60 seconds". Instantly enjoying the opened feel my tech lad made his way to the door behind the stage and tried to hack the lock. The rest of the guys took their own actions and dice were rolled.

Pretty simple really, roll your allotted number of ability dice, D8 and D12 dependant on your level skill. Difficulty dice are added according to well the difficulty of the task. Ability dice generate Success and Advantage, difficulty dice generate Failure and Despair. Match off Success and Failure to pass or fail and match off Advantage and Despair to find out how well or badly.

A nice mechanism that gives more variation and detail to your result with enough scope for the GM to add flavour and shape. For further effect excess Advantage can be converted to Bonus dice whilst big Despair works the other way. Fate Points remain and can be used to convert "size" of dice up and down by both players and GM.

Back at the game we pretty much hid or attempted to blend in in various ways. Skills are broad enough to allow some width of action whilst still providing characters with defined strengths and weaknesses. You can have a go at anything.

With Computer Use I hacked the lock to the dressing room and then accessed the stage controls producing a light and sound show to confuse or Gammorean pursuers.

Sitting quietly at the bar our Bounty Hunter had passed his cool to blending but as a piggy strolled by the player lost his and pulled the which point multiple Successes with a good helping of Advantage drilled porky without our man being spotted.

Unsurprisingly it all kicked off from there and a fire-fight broke. The system coped well if with a little clunk, probably due to the learning curve. With the players ability to order their activation within themselves it's a case of simple actions first with any excess Advantage producing Bonus dice for more critical and difficult actions. So plenty of scope for synergy and group cooperation, nice!

Dispatching our pursuers, a little too bloodily for some, we sussed out a ship available for appropriation and set to our plan. Requiring a hyperdrive part to fix said ship we bargained and connived our way to its purchase before letting ourselves into the space-port via the side door and scamming our way on board.

Finding its captain and crew on board that was a close run thing, failing our first Deceit check quite badly. Quickly sitting on the trigger happy blaster boy we tried again. Plenty of big bad dice we piled in the force points and just about scraped it with no real advantage to speak of!

One quick ship-jacking later, with far too much blaster play from you know who, we were chased out of the atmosphere by a couple of TIEs before jumping to dust in crops :)

So pretty impressed really. Quite a bit to get your head round with the SEVEN different dice and how they all interact but I can really see the potential. Rather looking forward to round 2 :)

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Lucky 13?

Hello people, the hypocrite returns ;]

Decent day out yesterday with Mantic. The venue was a novel one, a closed NHS drop in centre in the process of being renovated. Apparently it had only just been closed down when the Mantic chaps first went to view only to roll in last Thursday to find most of the electrics ripped and the water turned off. Thusly it was a touch "atmospheric" with a pair of portaloos in the car park, very good snack wagon though.

So, I was player 13 of 30 for Dreadball, a monster game of KoW, Dreadzone demos, a Warpath siege and a bunch of very popular seminars plus a zombie LARP thing. Scarily little H&S, we were all rather glad we got in on free tickets, simply wasn't enough there to charge for. Did get a little grab bag with a couple of DB coaches and a sprue of gobbos to take home.

Four games of DB netted three wins all against Corp, two by landslide, with the loss a very quick landslide to Rich's Judwan. With 20MC bonus I took a Dice and two Striker skills. Went with my back three lock out flying my Strikers about and barely throwing a Slam.

Playing as the Away team every game this generally did the job always having that final Rush if needed. Against Rich's Jud I set up the same way and very quickly realised that it was the worst thing to do, especially as he'd locked out his own backline. He could move mine around while I was in no position to do the same his. Went far more mobile but the damage was done all too quickly.

Judwan took the top three places and in a tourney format look very difficult to take on. It would seem you have to try and out Jud them, which isn't easy though maybe Veermyn have a good chance or Bots loading up on Strikers. Plenty of chatter post tourney on the subject, interesting to see the DB arms race shift.
 Rich took the title and the other four of us gave good account so a good day for the club as well.

Plenty of obvious interest in Dreadzoine and it was cool to see it all up close but still not going there. Maybe the rules and the cards at some point but don't see myself going any farther than that.

Apparently, maybe unsurprisingly, Mantic and Ronnie are very happy with KS and envisage one each quarter plus a few mini KSs for individual armies.
As I said before, each to their own :)

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Monsters of Mantic

Evening all,

Another instalment of this weeks gaming down at Enfield Gamers which was all very much Mantic-tastic.

First up was another helping of Dreadball. With luck a number of us should be at the Mantic Day for Dreadball in Nottingham this Saturday, all dependant on reliable transport, i.e. Rich's rather sick car behaving. Sometime ago myself and Shado, aka other Rich, were awarded joint first at a Dreadball National qualifier and need to play off.

With a bonus 20MC I took Corp with an extra Gaurd and Coaching Dice whilst Shado took Sirens with an extra Gaurd and Card, a build he views as Corp with Run Interference. A more "competitive" game than I've played recently I went for the tactic of locking down the 3/4 zone with three Gaurds and, as the away team, flooding the midfield with three Strikers.

On a mild tangent I've never seen myself as an overly competitive type and read this the other day which struck a chord.

Back at the game Shado had real trouble shifting my backline and had to settle for 1/2 pointers while I had an open run for 3/4s. Shado's luck was pretty poor all game while I picked up plenty of useful cards and quickly stormed to 5 nil after four rushes.

Just as I was poised to take the game my own dice intervened and with a few sharp plays traded each way Shado clawed his way back into the game. Missing a number of 4 pointers I tried as hard as I could to snatch defeat but eventually ran out with a 1 point win...phew!

 Second helping was a quick run out of Deadzone with Rich. Taking Plague I merrily ate Rich's four Enforcers with my two Alphas whilst my other lads watched on for zero casualties. Didn't seem a massively balanced scenario but for an alpha set of rules everything worked and was slick enough if a little basic. Definitely happy to play further developed versions.

Have to admit that I've watched the Kickstarter somewhat warily. Many have commented on the KS phenomenon and its various issues including myself and I don't intend to rehash. Having said that I found it scary how many fellow geeks have thrown so much cash at an unknown product so quickly. I've read the blurb, watched the vid and read a number of Quickworthy posts. Now I've played a game and feel interestedly neutral about it.
However,...pause to roll sleeves and prepare wagging finger....

Apparently Deadzone is a sci-fi skirmish game. In my opinion it's a sci-fi board-game and at the moment a fairly vanilla one. A board-game on an oversized chess board in fact, sound familiar? Jake's posts allude to this but I do feel that Mantic, I do wish to make the distinction, themselves could have been more up front about this.

The vid tells is that Mantic have a reputation for delivering high quality Kickstarters. I feel that statement is questionable and that many feel similarly. Mantic probably have a reputation for delivering Kickstarters with shed loads of, apparently, free stuff. Again I wish to make the distinction.
I do feel I understand that the persuasive thread that Kickstarters allow Mantic, and others, to develop and deliver more product far quicker than they otherwise would.

I just get the feeling that the whole situation is becoming disturbingly disingenuous. I ended up having a bit of a rant Tuesday night. Why does anyone need she- loads of bonus figures and scenery add-ons, many that they'll pay cold hard cash for, for a two by two game of battle-chess? You wanna sell a butt-load of super cool 40K urban battlefields better and cheaper than GW then all power whilst priming the pump for your own sci-fi wargame then all power to you but can you just come out and do that please?

This is just my opinion and I can make my choices just as everyone else can. I have a very good mate who works for Mantic who I have no wish to offend. I can hardly throw mud as an ex GW manager of 6 years service. Dreadball has breathed new life into my personal hobby and I LOVE it.
However I do feel that the whole KS thing could get out of hand and that Mantic, along with others, are beginning to rip the absolute arse out of it. Us geeks seem to be getting KS blind / addicted and some could be taking advatage of that. Not asking for anyone to agree with me and i'll happily be proved wrong but I needed to get that off my chest.

Each to their own and I wish Mantic every success. I like an awful lot of their product but this one, or the manner in which it is being presented, is currently somehow leaving a bitter taste in my mouth and I find that disappointing. It's not going to stop me attending on Saturday if I can and if I'm a hypocrite for that then so be it. As I keep on saying each to their own.

Happy gaming to one and all :)

Monday, 6 May 2013


So following my recent bleatings about utilising Salute to work out what i did want to play, coupled with a vague attempt at a refocus down at the club, I seem to be focusing on getting the most out of what I've got rather than searching for the next big thing.

Incidentally there seems to be something of a shift where the next big thing now seems to come searching for me, often via TGN with a link to it's Kickstarter campaign but that's another rant for another time.

Got a few full Geek boardgames with War on Terror through to Crash Tackle along with a load of Warhammer Invasion plus.

A couple of moves recently saw some serious dents into the mountain of tin & plastic but there's plenty in cases. After several years of slimming its nowhere near what it was but there's still plenty.

In vague grouping order I have cased;

- 1000 points of painted Dacian Warmaster Ancients with another 1000 points of Gaul, Briton and Sarmation units
- 20 painted 28mm gladiators
- A dozen or so painted AWI British, minutemen and civilians.
- A part painted platoon of Back of Beyond Ragged Russians
- North Star 42mm squad of WWII Russians with some paint, squad of Brit Paras with none
- A painted platoon of 15mm WWII Jap Marines
- Painted 10mm WWII Russian FOW tank force
- A fully painted set of Space Hulk
- Painted Norse and Chaos Dwarf teams for Blood Bowl
- AT-43 rebased and washed Oni battle-force
- AT-43 Damocles set waiting to be tarted up
- 40+ Rebased Star Wars pre-paints plus some random sci-fi figs
- A platoon of Copplestone near future mercs painted as Rogue Troopers
- Painted Ragnarok Orc and Goblin warband
- Painted Bone Griffons Uncharted Seas fleet, just sens
- Painted French Dystopian Wars fleet
- 30+ painted generic zombies
- Dozen or so painted ghouls, ghasts, witch, warlock and beasties
- Dreadball Corp, Orx and Veermyn fully painted

The mountain itself is dominated by British and French AWI, SAGA LoTR Uruks, Orcs and Goblins along with a few Ragnarok bits plus Dreadball Forge Fathers, Z'Zor, Robots and Cheerleaders. Zombiecide season 2 will add significantly come the end of the year!

Going through has been useful, not sure I'll be shifting too much of it (that which would go) but definitely not looking to add. Plenty of proxy potential especially for stuff like Deadzone which I'm keen to try but feeling wary of exactly what it is. Downloaded the basic Infinity rules and looking to do the same for Dark Age. Not being cheap just sensible........... no slippers just yet though ;]

Like having the projects tab to keep me on the straight and narrow and this will continue. Dreadball and Dark Heresy to dominate for a while and then some SAGA. Tempted to pick up some proper Dark Age plastics, so cheap and we all know I want to but I don't NEED very much at all.

We shall see!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Purity Seal-ed

Got back to Dark Heresy Thursday night with a full crew and a new mission, in more ways than one.

There have been a few issues around background / setting and the difference between playing 40K and then Dark Heresy. In short our Lord Inquisitor finally got round to letting us know about the Seven Commandants. Stuff like Suffer not the Wytch, Suffer not the Xenos, Suffer not the Heretic, proper puritan stuff rather than the allied contingents table from the back of the rulebook to sell a few more Grey Terminators :)

Being sent off to the feral world of Iocanthos to investigate some physic phenomena and assist in the consecration of a new cathedral we were at least given some uprated guns n' ammo, hot-shot laspacks and plenty of manstopper rounds, following our previous ineffectual gun-play.

Then came the, not entirely unexpected, pointed questions about the xenos pistols...........yeah, we'll be keeping them thanks, a point of fatigue (-10 to all stats) is worth it for the moment thanks :)

Transferring onto a light freighter for our  four day trip to Iocanthos we were asked several times what we were going to with our time. Taking the hint we harassed the crew, who had made planet-fall previously, and turned up a number feral knick-knacks including a bone amulet which had a psychic imprint. We got hold of that crewman and went bad cop x4 on his ass until he told us where he found it, an hour outside the space-port, called Suffering (nice!), on the way to the cathedral. I think the whole ship was glad to deliver us to Suffering.......

Getting our bearings we took in our surroundings and did a bit of research on the population, 4 billion indigenous with 1 billion imports. Locals are nomadic types collecting Ghostflower Pollen which is used to synthesise drugs for use in penal platoons. I'm sure they were very glad when the Great Crusade brought enlightenment to them :)

Collected from the landing pad by a floating cherubim we trotted of to meet our contact, seer Aristarchus. Along the way we noticed we were being followed by a group indigenous Yoot, minus hoodies but plenty of tribal tattoos. Turning down an alley we came across one of the boys crazy grandad who kicked off at the sight of the amulet and started spouting off a number of highly relevant phrases. Deciding to arrest Grandad the Yoot made their move at which point poor dice struck.

Basically Grandad gave Rob's Arbite a good slap and legged it while the rest of us started blazing at any and every crate within 10 feet, leaving the Yoot unscathed. A big dose of Spasm brought down Grandad just as the local law turned up with guns to back up their harsh language. This time we were allowed to pull rank and did so with gusto.

Grandad tried to slip away again, we were getting the feeling that we weren't supposed to talk to him, and he got a bit more Spasm for his trouble........except he picked up something of a heart attack.

Dragging the Yoot away from the local filth they got a load more bad cop x4 with the whole harsh language and big guns thing going on. A couple of them didn't make it but we did find out that their elders congregate at the scared rocks an hour outside the space-port on the way to the cathedral. During all of this were sighs and scribbled notes behind the GM's screen. Poor lad, seems he can never win or at least decide what he wants from us, we were just going by the 7 commandments ;] Apparently even when we're being good we're still being bad!

Eventually meeting up with seer Aristarchus we pushed through a few more plot holes and established that the planetary governor is an indigenous type called King Skull with the biggest armed force on the planet following him around. Also established that the focus of the psychic stuff is centred at the scared rocks an hour outside the space-port on the way to the cathedral.

Guess where we're off to next ;]

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Confessions of a Dreadball Coach V

A bit more proxy Dreadball live last night at the Enfield Gamers saw myself and Chris match up again for a fairly leisurely game exploring a little bit more of Season 2. I took Robots whilst Chris continues with Z'Zor ably assisted for a bit by Rob who spent some time working out nasty potential advancement combos.

Once again the Big Bug Gaurd was an absolute beast. I'd already planned to try to lock out the 3/4 zone with the intention to transform those lads into Gaurds and run around the others as necessary. As the Away team this seemed to suit and I set up the other bots in midfield.
My first rush...........interesting!
Big Bug was obviously hungry and as such proceeded to send three of my bots back to their mechanic, two actions and a Slam card, before I'd even touched a dice! Thankfully Chris' now typical dice allowed him an easy pickup but a failed one dice two pointer.

With plans in tatters I was forced to transform one of my backline into a Striker and go for it. As so often in DB I ended up, with the help of an opportune card, with a 2 pointer and an unexpected lead. I also noticed just how good a Bot Striker is...... As the game developed Chris levelled the scores as I grappled with Big Bug. I did knock him down once and failed a huge Stomp attempt though he got up easily enough with 4+ Speed. Then we remembered that Steady meant he shouldn't have been there at all!

Damn bugs, tough like roaches!
He just wouldn't go squish!!
He really does have to be one of the best Gaurds in the game with mobility, strength and huge resilience. A matching buddy in leagues and MC bonused tourneys is a no brainer. Just Can't Feel A Thing is huge. Even get a huge eight success Slam in on a Bug Jack didn't leave a proper dent. Get them Steady and you'd quickly have a team of granite!

Having said that Bot Gaurds aren't too far off themselves, easily equal to an Orx but combo'd up with their Strikers. Better than Corp or Veermyn is easily pulled a 4 pointer on the restart. Their 3+ Speed gets them wherever they want to go and 4+ Skill does the rest most of the time.

The obvious limitation is spending an action to transform but after Chris' dice let him down AGAIN I had a minor eureka moment;

- Transform Jack 1 into Striker 1
- Jack 2 picks up the ball (minor miracle) and throws short to Striker 1
- Striker 1 catches ball on a double for a free run plus two Dashes.
- Striker 1 runs plus one Dash to make a 3 point strike and take the game!

Lots of post game chatter about where, when and why you might transform your Bots. It did occur that a major strength is the ability to tailor your team's make up to you opponent. Judwan and Feint are the big thing at the mo so maybe I'd go with loads of Strikers for a 4 dice 3+ dodge and out to them? Everyone knows Corp are strong, Bot Guards and Strikers are stronger and you can have them where you want them when you want them.

That first rush did show the potential weakness of what is a times a 6 Jack team. Get the feeling that I'm going to enjoy playing them. Looking to go for a rusty copper look with some source lighting which I've not tried before.

Bit of chatter about how to use the Z'Zor as well. Chris left the Strikers on the bench, mainly due to Skill 5+, I couldn't convince him the the extra dice you get for so much is worth that drop but then I've not tried myself yet. Got a scheme in mind from them too, can't stop thinking District 9 and a poor Boer impression.

Maybe next week, eh bru? :)