Monday, April 30, 2012

Ain't that a kick in the head

Back in high-school I was a big fan of Steve Jackson Games.   SJ games has been around a long time and has produced several gaming classics including Car Wars, GURPS, Illuminati, and Ogre.  Back in the late-Nineties they entered into a bit of a second golden age releasing some very successful light card games and board games including Frag, Chez Geek, and Muchkin.

I loved their games and managed to become a official demo rep for a while.  I wasn't too good at it, being only a awkward 17 year old, but I had a lot of enthusiasm.  My favorite of the games was Ogre, a sci-fi hex and counters tactical war game.  In Ogre, one player takes control of a nearly indestructible cyber-tank while the other tried to defend his command post using very fragile conventional tanks and infantry.  It's a well designed game, and it was expanded by GEV that allowed for more symmetrical scenarios.  There was even a miniature game version produced, that I bought into.

I only ever got one person to develop the same level of interest in the game, and I lost touch with him when he moved off to hippie college somewhere in Maine.  SJ games also had some accounting problems at the time and had to pair down their release schedule significantly.

Ever since then they've been mostly putting out light stuff and endless Munchkin expansions.  Apparently Munchkin has been enough of a cash cow to fund what Steve has been wanting to do for a long while now.  Bring back some of the old crunchy games in a big way.

The designer edition of Ogre has been teased for a few years, and SJ games decided that in order to make sure they don't take a bath on it, they would fund the initial printing with kickstarter.   Well, they underestimated all the love out there for Ogre and the project blew away the initial $20,000 goal on the first day.  It's now sitting at $350,000 with 11 days to go.


The backers of this project have been able to vote on additional goodies added into the box because of the generous over-funding.  There will even be more scenarios and expansions because SJ doesn't have to spend all year writing Munchkin expansions to pay the bills.  And we'll probably see a new designer edition of Car Wars eventually.

There's a lesson to be learned here by other game companies.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I know what I said

I wasn't going to pay any attention to rumors, but a Slannesh noise marine rock star army with chaos cultist groupies?

Oh the possibilities.  I could build a display board with a stage and light show. Little smoke generators too.

Will wait to see the actual codex before I geek out any further.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Seeing all the awesome armies arrayed at Adepticon has got me inspired to start on a new project.  I've spend over a year working on my Tau, and now that I'm don't it feels weird to not have anything to work on.

I could start working on a Flames of War army.  While I like the rules system, I'm just not inspired to paint a dull olive drab army that looks just like every one else's.  I could start on Dust Warfare, but that has the same problem as FoW.  Green allies, Grey Germans, boring boring boring.  If only battlefront would release a 15 mm sci-fi version of FoW with space elves.

I'd like to re-visit my Eldar, but I'm hating my paint scheme and quality on them.  I want to scrap most of it and start from scratch.  The army will still suck, so I'm inclined to not give my Eldar any love until GW gives them some first.

I could start another army.  Dark Eldar and Necrons both interest me in terms of their aesthetic.   I defiantly don't want to do anything in power armor.

I'm worried about 6th edition and don't want to jump into a project with GW primed to throw-up all over themselves in a few months.

Monday, April 23, 2012

My First Adepticon

I'm back in Indy and rested up.  Not it's time to break down my experience at Adepticon 2012.

The Con

I've been to a couple of gaming cons.  Gencon a few times, some conventions in St. Louis, and even ran a small convention for the Fantasy and Science Fiction Appreciation Club I was an officer for back at the University of Dayton.  Adepticon is no where near as big as Gencon, but it's big for a convention with such a narrow focus.  

The focus has broadened away from GW properties.  Warhammer 40K still dominated about 50% of the floor space, but Privateer, Catalyst, Wyrd, and Battlefront are starting to eat up all the space left over.  There's so much going on at Adepticon there's almost not enough room for it all.  The vendor area was claustrophobic, and companies had to have their demo tables clear on the other side of the building.

The tastiness of the swag bag this year, with the inclusion of the Adepticonstruct, and a free Battle Foam Shield Bag for the first 500 attendees created a congested registration line that wrapped around the building and took hours to parse through.
The registration table is around that corner and 50 yards away.  This was an hour and half before registration opened, and it took me an hour to get there once they started.
This is the line wrapping into and through the grand ballroom.
There is a need for some updated registration organization next year.  They could do it the way Gencon does and mail out Badges.  Preferably with a guaranteed ticket for your swag bag.  But I can't complain too much since I got a free battle foam bag myself.   If you plan on going next year, the ViG upgrade to your ticket is worth it if you can get it.  That line only had 100 people and they all got to be registered first.

Of course there are other ways to cope with long lines. Yes that is a keg hidden in a BF bag.

One thing missing that they should have had was a convention program with a map.  For a first time attendee, it was hard to figure out where things where and what was going on.  If they plan on adding more events beside the big 40K tournaments they really need to have one. 

The Lombard was fairly nice hotel, but everything was on the expensive side.  They are also pretty much out of room to grow there.  There's no room to add another vender or another big tournament for a new game system.  Hopefully they can secure a bigger location in the future.  The restaurants in the hotel are nice, but a bit overpriced.  I would not have gone there if I wasn't taking my wife out to a nice Birthday dinner.

I would like to go again next year.  It was nice to have my wife along, but I felt like I missed out on a lot of the convention.  Hopefully Adepticon doesn't fall on her birthday next year.

The Championships

The championships where a lot of fun.  I didn't do as well as I hopped, but I wasn't expecting to take home the championships with Tau.  People liked the colors on my Tau, and it got a little attention.  Blue Table Painting did a little mini-interview with me 1:30 into one of their you tube videos from the convention.

I went 1-2-1 for the day.  I beat a Demon Fatecrusher list in the first round. She was a too aggressive with her drops and lost 3 units to mishaps.  My second game was against Wolves and I tied.  The third game as against a Foodar list, on a table with too much LOS blocking terrain.  He reserve denied his army and had plenty of terrain to completely block units(even wraith lords) from my shooting.  I didn't try too hard in my last game, and I also had a pretty crappy run of dice.

The format was OK, but I think it needs to improve on a few points.  Some of the mission objectives are still kind of cheesy.  They would be OK, if every army in 40K had an equally stocked tool box, but we all know that's not the case.  The objectives to get across the table and put an HQ within 3 inches of the table center are impractical for some armies, and almost a given for others.  Table quarters needs to move to the nova style.  Being able to contest with a single unit is a little lame.   The marked target objective was the only one that was on its face stupid.  Mostly because you could reserve the marked target and deny your opponent the objective.  A better way to do it would be to chose the marked target at the end of the first or second turn amongst units on the table.  Accounts for armies that have to enter the game from reserve, and makes sure someone actually has the ability to get the objective.  

Terrain was OK.  I prefer using radial symmetry and more smaller pieces, but the 6 piece setup Adepticon uses is good enough.  The exception where a handful of tables in the corner that where made up of random pieces that where left over.  I had the unfortunate experience of playing on one of these tables against Footdar.  It had at least 10 large city fight ruins with very few window pieces.  My opponent was able to effectively hide things like wraith lords and war walkers from my LOS.  My opponent took every advantage of that board and the mission, and I was a pretty impossible fight for a static shooty army like my Tau. 

Spag had some trouble with his opponents and some sportsmanship chipmunking, but in my experience all my opponents where fun and fair.   Adepticon this year went along way towards reminding me about what I like about the game.   Mostly it's the way you can express yourself and build great interesting armies.  Flame of War and Warmachine might have tighter rules, but have you ever seen something like this in anything other than a 40K or Fantasy tournament?
And this person didn't win players choice!  A crime I tell you!
It's made me want to start on another army.  Unfortunately this is where GW screws the pouch again.  I can't seem to reconcile an army I want to build with an army capable of winning.  40K exists because of its passionate players despite GW.  Adepticon is a shining example of that.

And Now for Something New

I picked up one of the last copies of Dust Warfare from the Fantasy Flight booth.  It's a pretty solid rules system. It definitely reads like a potential 40K killer.  It plays at a similar scale with tighter rules.  It's also pretty cheap with units costing 15-25 dollars.  You could build a decent army for $150 dollars.  It lacks the flair of 40K that I was talking about earlier, and I'm pretty board of the weird war II genre.  But it's got the one thing that every other 40K killer has failed to produce so far, cheap cool vehicle kits.  Those heavy walker units are boss.  The actual unit miniatures could look better, but that's a side effect of the way they are produced, and the price is right.  

The rules system is a basic 2 action system where units can move, attack, double move, or double attack.  You use the same roll for everything in the game.  Essentially you need to roll a 5+ to hit or save; what varies is the number of dice you roll.  The moral mechanic is also very interesting.  Units gain suppression markers as they take wounds.  They actually increase your cover, but too many causes the unit to break.  Speaking of cover, it works much more intuitively and less abstract than 40K.  You can only assign wounds to models you can see, and you have to assign wounds to models outside of cover first.  

I'd like to give it a try.  It would be cool if another Indy local would like to also buy in.  

It would also be a pretty fun project to try and convert 40K armies to use the this rule system.  There are enough special rules in the core rulebook that I think you could make it work without having to introduce new ones.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

MiniatureGaming.StackExchange Update

We've managed to bring in several supporters to the proposal, but it's still a long way from getting out of the definition stage.  It was pointed out to me that most of the questions we could ask about miniature gaming should be on-topic on  Just to be sure I opened a meta discussion there to see if the intended direction of miniaturesgames.stackexchange would work there.  It looks like it would.

So, we have a choice to make.  We can continue to support an independent site, or just merge in to board and card games.  Board and card games does need some extra support to get out of beta.

I think that going it alone would mean optimistically waiting several months before we could even think of getting miniature gaming into beta.  I'm eager to get to work asking and answering questions right away.

I started a discussion topic on the merge.  If you are following the project, please join in the discussion and let us know what you think.

If someone from theBack40K could re-blog this, that would be awsome. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A better way to communicate about miniature gaming?

In the beginning there where the forums, and then came the blogs...

If you are reading this, I'll assume you know how we communicate within the the 40K community and the miniature gaming community at large.  There are some advantages and disadvantages to how things are done.  The forums can cover broad topics and you can hear from multiple voices.  Unfortunately, everyone is of equal status and good information can get drowned out in all the noise.  Blogs provide a way to get information in nice concentrated voices, but tends to lead to mono-cultures dominated by the authoritarian voice of the authors.

Do you think that there might be a better way to build the community?  To help out people with questions about rules and the hobby?

If you are a software developer like me, you may be familiar with a website called Stack Overflow.  This is a question and answer formatted site used by many software developers.  If you need to know why your code is throwing a weird exception, or how to index a column in an Oracle  DB, it's a good first stop.

What makes stackoverflow different from a forum is that questions and answers get voted on.  The more votes you get, the better rep you get, and the more privileges you get on the site.  The rep also lets users know how much credibility you should give to others.  Higher rep user get to close down or protect question that are bad or troublesome.

Stackoverflow also favors facts over opinions.  They provide good guidelines for evaluating subjectivity versus objectivity.

Stackoverflow has branched out into a whole network of topics.  I've been on for about a month, and it's a blast to be involved in.  You get to help people out, and get some help yourself when you need it.  Plus gaining rep and badges gives you nice warm fuzzies.  The kind of nice warm fuzzies that gets people working towards the betterment of the community instead of always trying to tear it down.  Currently you win in a 40K forum or comment thread by beating the original poster up and yelling the loudest.  You win on a stackexchange site by asking good questions and providing useful answers.

The miniature gaming community could use something like this.  A place to help answer people's questions without the normal FAAC versus WAAC BS that erupts.  Where we can down-vote whoever comes along and adds nonconstructive drivel to a conversation.

Well, guess what?  Someone else thought the same thing, and has already made the proposal to the stackexchange network.

I think it would be really cool if we could get this going.  It needs 48 supporters and 40 up voted question proposals to move on to the next stage.  If you get in now, you can help shape what this website will eventually be.

Please pass this along, and lets try to make this happen!