February 25, 2013

Field Report: SA-130207-F

Feb 25, 1923

From: Carl Selinger, Commanding Field Agent

To: Director Silver, Calgary Field Office

RE: Case File SA-130207-F


After our long trip over the Atlantic we finally arrived in London and then traveled by train to Braunschweig. Our journey was uneventful, and after the good professor consulted with some of his colleagues at the university, we set off into the northern forest to follow up on Agent Monique's report. She is to meet us with further intelligence when her duties permit.

We found the sacrificial circle exactly where she had described it would be. We immediately began to investigate the outlying area. With dusk rapidly approaching we were completing our preliminary survey when suddenly set upon by uniformed soldiers. They were well trained and extremely well armed. We were quite simply not prepared for that level of firepower.

Both Agent MacIntyre and myself were able to take cover, but were immediately flanked and took heavy fire. Luckily the local surgeons were able to patch us up and we are none the worse for wear. I'll confess to fearing for both of us for more than a moment!

Agent Daniels was caught in open while trying to assist Professor Armitage, and since then seems to be suffering from distress while in open spaces. Physically he seems fine, but in the days following the encounter I've noticed his discomfort. He's tried to keep his composure but I'm certain that his stride quickens when simply crossing a large room or an outdoor space. I am hopeful that it won't affect his performance, but I'll certainly be mindful of it.

Agent McDermott was unable to get a closer look at the circle before having to retreat under fire. The soldiers were garbed in grey and I've never seen the like of them before. Their leader was a smaller man and he was wearing a gleaming silver helmet, which reminded me of the fellow I dispatched last autumn. We didn't recover a body, but the likelihood of it being the same man can simply not be possible. Can it? Perhaps our luck has turned and we've happened upon a connection I thought long cold!

We will continue to investigate.

Carl Selinger
Commanding Field Agent

February 22, 2013

Dreadball: Trilogy Cup - Round 4 Pairings

Our league is still rolling along. We've got two more rounds of regular play before we vie for the crown of "Champ-peen". I asked each of the players what they thought would be good for choosing the top two teams to play for the top-place and we decided to go with the top two winning percentages. Any ties that arise will be decided by league points, and then, if necessary, team value.

This feels good to me for a few reasons, first it doesn't punish anyone who may have won a lot of games, but not had the in-game luck to acquire experience, or have rolled low in the income part of the post-game sequence. Secondly, it gives players a chance to increase their odds of getting a championship berth by playing extra games, without requiring them to simply try to up their value. Wins matter here.

The number of wins isn't the only thing however, as a coach who plays some additional games can improve their win percentage, increase the number of league points that they have, and increase their chances of getting a spot on the playoffs. Finally, using the Team Value as a last tie-breaker gives some meaning to it and allows that higher skilled team the opportunity to show off their stuff.

Of course this logic might not be the same for every group playing out there, but it feels logical and solid to me. As the league sponsor, that means I get to choose. So, choose I have.

Here are the league standings after three rounds.

Team Value Points Wins Losses Games Win Pct
Da Bombers 145 5 2 1 3 67%
Royal Eternian Rams 135 7 3 1 4 75%
Avion Yellowhawks 117 5 2 1 3 67%
Funky Fathers 111 4 2 1 3 67%
Snake Mountain Smashers 106 4 0 5 5 0%
Seb's Veer-myn 101 4 2 2 4 50%

I'll leave you with the pairings for Round 4.

- Veer-Myn (44mc bonus) vs. Da Bombers
- Smashers (29mc bonus) vs. Rams
- Fathers (6mc bonus) vs. Yellowhawks

February 20, 2013

Judge Dredd Miniature Game: Zombie Horde Review

Sitting around on a quiet Sunday evening is one of the few times of the week that I actually have to myself. Often I'll just sit and watch some TV and try to decompress a bit before Monday morning responsibility thunders back into view. Last Sunday I didn't even watch what was on the TV, I merely listened while I put together some more models from my ever-growing mountain of lead and plastic!

The Zombie Horde pack is, to my knowledge, the only Judge Dredd set that comes with plastic components. Interestingly enough, the plastic parts in this kit are zombie sprues by Mantic Games. The pack contains a zombie mistress, a zombie judge, a sprue of metal heads and two sprues of metal shoulder/elbow/knee pads, a few pouches, six identical metal torsos, eight bases and two sprues of Mantic zombies.

I received this pack as part of my Council of Judges pledge on Kickstarter from before Christmas, so they arrived without retail packaging. That said, I'm uncertain if this is exactly what you would receive when purchasing in store or directly from Mongoose Publishing.

The number of parts included is really good and provides a lot of options to customize your shambling horde of flesh-eating undead. I tried to make good use of all the bits and mix up the metal and plastic parts as much as possible. In fact, if you were to throw in a few more bases one could squeeze a few more completed figures out of the parts included.

I have a few very minor complaints about the zombie pack. Keep in mind...these are definitely minor issues:
  1. There aren't anywhere near enough lower bodies provided to make use of all the heads and upper bodies. With some additional parts from your bits box, or a little sculpting handiwork, that could quite easily be remedied. If not then you're simply left with some extra zombie parts. 
  2. All of the included metal torsos are exactly the same. I didn't consider it to be a large issue, as the left arm is fairly easy to reposition and thus squeeze slightly different poses out of.
  3. The bottom base of the mantic zombies are designed to go in...Mantic bases. You'll need to use lots of ballast or some green stuff to make them not look funny on the provided 25mm bases. As it is, they'll stand pretty tall compared to similarly scaled models if you don't trim those off.
  4. There are no female zombies included, just the horde mistress. Maybe the women of Mega-City One can all run faster than the men...?

I really like the look of the zombie mistress. She definitely has a necromancer / witch vibe to her, but with a few little touches like the metal finger-cap gloves that say she could be a resident or exile from Mega-City One.

There isn't much to say about the zombie judge, he's just plain cool.

I posted a few shots of Harold the Cit-Def zombie some weeks ago, but here he is with the rest of the horde (third from the right). As you can see I've tried out some different colours as a basis for their flesh tones. I tried to get a good cross-section of paint lines and colours that I thought might work well for undead flesh. From left to right I've used: Army Painter Necrotic Flesh, P3 Thrall Flesh, Army Painter Skeleton Bone, P3 Jack Bone, GW Kommando Khaki and GW Bleached Bone. I've definitely noticed that the P3 paints have the best coverage over black, only requiring two coats where the others all needed three or even four.

I really do like the colour of the Necrotic Flesh, but I think it's a little bit too green for how I feel my zombies should look. Thrall Flesh or Skeleton bone is probably a little closer, and might work nicely using the necrotic flesh as a shading colour underneath it. I'm not going to repaint any of these. I plan to complete them all with the flesh colour they have, to see which one turns out closest to my mental image. Which one do you folks think looks best?

And here's the whole flesh-munching family!

I took my own advice and created a few more zombies from the remaining parts. All that I need will be two extra bases to glue them to.

And finally...I mentioned that the hands on the metal torsos are easily repositioned. I simply couldn't resist creating a Johnny Cash-style 'ef you' zombie! The focal length on my camera didn't cooperate, which is probably good, because now I don't have to blur out his hand!

February 19, 2013

Carnevale: Starvation - Demos and Model Thoughts

Starvation / Demos

Shortly before Christmas I posted up some pics of the massive box of toys I received from Vesper-On Games for their skirmish game Carnevale. Essentially an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink purchase in support of their Morgraur-Rahaar IndieGoGo campaign late last year. There were a LOT of models in that box and I didn't really know where to get started until now.

So a little over a week ago I hear about a worldwide campaign that Vesper-On was doing entitled "Starvation." Tournaments were to be played at venues worldwide, the results sent back to them, and then used to modify the game world in some way in future expansions. Not having any other people to play the game with yet, I decided to do something a little bit different.

I dug through my box of stuff and pulled out the rule book and all the starter boxes. After going through them to figure out what components went with each figure I was then able to stat up lists around 190 points each. Interestingly the only starter boxes that were able to pack that many points in without adding a booster pack were the Patricians (extra weapons) and the Doctors of the Ospedale (spells and spirit cannons). Each of the other factions required additions to keep the points even.

With a lot of help from Seb, we were able to put together most of the figures on Tuesday evening. I had to spend a little extra time building the Patrician starter box, the Rhino and one of the Rashaar models on Saturday afternoon...then finally prime everything grey. With just over a week I never even considered trying to paint any of it; we're talking about 25 unique figures here!

Here are the lists I put together for the event.

Doctors of the Ospedale
- Doctor of the ospedale
- 2 doctors of the arsenale
- 2 madmen
- rhinoceros booster (we didn't end up using this, but it sure looks cool!)

- leader
- butcher
- harlot
- 2 citizens
- Baba Yaga booster (this was the only Independent character used)

The Patricians
- noble leader
- male and female barnabotis
- 2 city guards

- Magi Rashaar
- 2 fishmen
- 2 hybrids
- 2 aglaopes booster

We sketched out a map layout for a small 2'x2' table using the various "...of Malifaux" Terraclips stuff from WorldWorks Games. I intentionally went with a smaller board than the 30"x30" recommended so that I could build it in a short amount of time, and be able to have some table space for dice and counters. There didn't seem to be much point in anything bigger, as I wanted players to get into the fray without wasting any time. Brandon was a lot of help setting up the table once I arrived at the store.

I think the table turned out great. The terraclips are excellent for this game, and would work nicely in other similar use cases. A lot of people stopped by to ask what the board was made of, both while we were building it and during demos. I do hope to see some sci-fi or urban Terraclips sets come out in the future.

Since I didn't have other dedicated players to actually have a tournament with, I simply ran demos of the game for the evening. I was able to get five of people to sit down to try it out, and most of them seemed to find the models and setting to be really cool. Thanks to everyone who took time to try out something new. While not a narrative tournament for "Starvation" in the sense that Vesper-On Games was technically doing, it was still fun to do some demos and show off some of the models.

Thoughts on the Figures

So, building 25 unique multi-part, metal models over the course of four days is pretty ambitious for me. I certainly couldn't have done it without Seb's help!

Overall the quality of the sculpts is very good. Each figure has a lot of character and is unique. The mold lines on most of the pieces are minimal, requiring a light touch with a hobby file before construction. A lot of the models also have options for weaponry or heads and arms. Most notably here were the Patricians, who come with plenty of pistols, swords and empty-hand options. It was also nice to see that the two fish-men in the Rashaar starter came with three heads and sets of arms to choose from.

However, out of the 25 models that we put together, only ONE of them was a single-piece sculpt. As dynamic and interesting as some of the models are, I think that a lot of them could be molded better to provide less frustrating to build. Additionally, a lot of the contact points are very small, or simply not necessary. Here are some examples:

- The Aglaopes both have very small arms, whose lower arms are separate pieces. They also have tiny little tails that need to glued in. I think with some minor pose modifications these figures could easily be a single piece.
- The fan on the female Barnaboti is huge, and attaches to a tiny wrist. Too small to pin with the wire and drill bits I own. She was the first model to break (on the way to the game shop), even though everything was transported gently in a proper foam case.
- The ankle joints on the female citizen of Venice are very small and have to support a large solid model wearing a full dress. She broke off at the ankles when I tried to mount the figure on the base. This required running a pin in the bottom in the middle of the dress, directly into the metal slot. It shouldn't be too noticeable, but was annoying.
- The city guards are a little awkward to get their rifles / axes glued on, with small wrist joints as the only contact points yet again.
- The Noble and male Barnaboti both have very odd part separations on their legs. Pinning the male Barnaboti at the knees was a pain and resulted in a strange lean to the figure's pose. The noble I simple couldn't figure out how to pin due to the odd cut angle between the parts at the right thigh and left ankle. I'm simply hoping he won't fall apart... Actually it already did (again on the way to the store), but this break was one of the swords popping off at yet another tiny wrist joint.

Now don't get me wrong, I think these are fantastic looking models. I just wish a little more thought had been put into their poses and part separation. I certainly don't mind pinning models for stability, but when some of the contact points are as small as these it can prove really difficult, and is really more frustrating than it should be.

I'm also curious how one would actually use the sculpted bases that I received as part of my pledge reward. Most of these models have very small feet. That would make it exceedingly troublesome to chop off the slot and pin them to the custom base. So currently the nicely sculpted bases I have are sitting unused.

Stay tuned for updates here, someday soon I hope to post photos of these models with some paint applied!

February 11, 2013

Dreadball League Thoughts: Two Full Rounds In The Books

Starting in mid-January I organized a small Dreadball league to try out the rules. I decided to try the rules exactly as they're written, since making changes to them didn't seem to make sense without having  at least tried them first.

Initially I had six players signed up including myself. We lost one player early on because she decided the game just wasn't for her. Due to that, I decided to play an additional team so that the Corporation humans wouldn't go unrepresented and we would have an even number, so as not to leave one team with a bye each round.

One of our players still needs to pay his league fees, and another isn't available every Sunday but otherwise things seem to be proceeding fairly well. If there's enough interest in running another league I will likely have to stipulate that players should be willing and able to play on league days. Of course life will get in the way occasionally, but that should be the exception rather than the norm.

A few of the teams have played additional exhibition games as per the rules and those have been helpful in acquiring additional cash and experience, especially if the team is coming off of a particularly nasty defeat in a league match. Now that the second round of play has closed our standings are as follows:

Team Name Value League Points Games Played Wins Losses
Brett's Bruisers 157 4 2 2 0
Avion Yellowhawks 116 4 2 2 0
Funky Fathers 111 2 2 1 1
Royal Eternian Rams 111 5 3 2 1
Snake Mountain Smashers 106 3 4 0 4
Seb's Veer-myn 83 4 3 1 2

With the challenge system in place I do see the possibility that teams won't be required to play each other team, which isn't exactly ideal. It works out nicely in that players can modify their challenges to suit so that they can play their league match right away, but can lead to some repeat match ups and less variety. With a small league like this it might have simply made more sense to create pre-set pairings instead so that everyone played against each other team once.

However, the benefits to the challenge system does become apparent when you're dealing with large gaps in the team values. For example having the Veer-myn play against the Bruisers using the above examples could be disastrous, unless the Underdog bonus were spent acquiring both MVPs and free agents, and plenty of them. In fact, with the pairings set for Round 3, a few of the match-ups will indeed provide large amounts of underdog cash. That's going to provide some interesting drama.

Round 3 Pairings

- Veer-myn vs. Yellowhawks: 33mc underdog bonus to Veer-myn
- Smashers vs. Funky Fathers: 5mc underdog bonus to Smashers
- Rams vs. Bruisers: 46mc underdog bonus ro Rams

With the high amounts of underdog cash going out to the Veer-myn and Rams it's likely that they'll each end up with one of the available MVPs as well as having monies to spend on free agents. Additionally, it is possible that the prices for the MVPs will be driven up high enough that teams won't be able to afford them at the start of round 4. At this point of course, it's entirely speculation.

The final thought I have at this point is how to handle the championship match. I don't know that it makes sense to just pair off the two teams with the highest values. The options I am considering are:

- highest value vs. second highest value
- highest value vs. most wins
- highest value vs. best win percentage
- highest value vs. most league points
- best win percentage vs. second best win percentage
- most league points vs. second most league points
- most wins vs. second most wins

In retrospect I should have chosen this prior to starting the league, but I didn't realize that I would have so many different possibilities. I'd like to choose something before round 3 begins, so that players have three more league matches (plus any exhibition ones they wish to play) before the championship match.

What do you feel would be the most fair way of choosing the two finalists for the first Trilogy Cup?

February 05, 2013

Sedition Wars: 1st Shipment Received and Sorted

I received my first package a little over a week ago, and was finally able to spend some time going through all the stuff that came in the sizeable and nicely packed box! I won't be posting up any photos for this article, because dozens of other folks online already have.

First off, there's a lot of stuff in the base game box: a full-color rule book, 2 token sheets, 5 doubled-sided board tiles, 50 profile cards, 50 figure bases, 8 dice, clear green counters, red and blue base inserts and of course figures. Lots and lots of figures. I pledged for the Biohazard level on the Kickstarter campaign, so I also received an extra box with even more figures in it. The base game has 50 figures, and the additional figures totaled another 30+, including the special resin Kara Black sculpt. Lots of monsters and troopers to provide support and cause trouble for our character models! I also received the Vanguard patch (which I have no idea what to do with), a signed print and some custom dice, which are actually very nice looking...far nice than I'd expected. Custom dice are always fun.

It took me a fair bit of time, but I went through each baggie that came in the box and sorted them all out. I had to look several entries on the Studio McVey blog to figure out what some of the stuff actually was, and which bits went with which figure. This was mostly true in relation to the character figures, more so than the others. There was only one revenant that looked damaged (one of the legs was twisted around, but not fully broken off), but it'll be easily fixed during clean up.

A components list and construction guide really should have been included in the box. I simply can't imagine a person buying this a year from now and having any clue how to get started. There's no good excuse for not including one.

These figures are really nice looking overall, and I'm quite looking forward to putting them all together. Since this is, in my opinion, a packaged board game with miniatures I intend to try the it a few times after constructing the figures. While I'm sure they'll look fantastic after they're all painted, I see no reason to wait until I've painted them to simply try the game out.

Also, since one of the stretch goals was a how-to-paint video, I'd like to wait until I receive that before I get started on the project in earnest. I like the look of the white-armoured Samaritan troops and see no real need to deviate from that colour scheme on my figures. The strain can probably have a little more differentiation and personality added during the painting, but again I'd like to see what they're recommending in the painting video before I actually get started with my own paint brush.

There are a few small niggles about the components, mainly that the cards from the base game are not quite the same size as the ones that came with the extra models. This will become unnoticeable once I put the cards in clear plastic sleeves. I also think the artwork on the board tiles is a little dark but without playing the game I can't really say if it's a problem. Overall though, I don't really have any complaints about the actual stuff in the box. It's got tons stuff in the box and looks great.

It'll require no small amount of work to get all the figures put together, but I'm looking forward to the task, and of course playing the game. I do hope that I can get that far along before the rest of my stuff shows up in the spring!

Overall initial impressions however are quite positive. I have a new game that looks fun, lots of extra figures that I'll be able to find a use for, and yet another project to work at. I wasn't lacking for those, but it's still fun to have all those options!