Monday, December 30, 2013

My Space Invaders army

I was going to post a year-end gaming retrospective for my final blog entry of the year, but instead I want to show you my newly completed Space Invaders army for Hordes of the Things. It includes an Airboat general (the saucer from the video game) along with fifteen stands of Hordes (the titular Space Invaders).
The saucer is a wooden disc from Hobby Lobby with some washers and other bits for details.  The Space Invaders are actually erasers I bought at Half Price Books.  Since I'm a lazy wargamer, I snagged these because they didn't require any painting.  However, when I looked at them prior to basing , I realized that some black paint in the recesses would really make these figures pop.
This is my first silly army for HotT, but not my first Hordes army for the game.  I also have a dollar store arachnid army with a dozen Hordes elements.  I doubt it will play very well, but it seems like Hordes are the best way to represent the invaders, which keep on coming, quarter after quarter. 
Since I didn't feel like doing another six stands of Hordes to bring it up to 24 army points, I decided to invite the ghosts from Pac-Man cross over to help out the Invaders. 
So Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde joined the army as two stands of Sneakers.  These figures started out as key covers that I bought on ebay, and ended up looking pretty compatible with the rest of the army.  I like how they turned out, but I'm most happy with my Stronghold for this army.
The centerpiece for this Stronghold also came from eBay.  I purchased mine from a vendor who listed it under Toys it as a 1/24 scale model.  Later, I found the same item under collectibles at about half the cost; turns out it's some kind of candy container from Japan.
Like I said, I don't expect great victories from this army, but I do figure that it will give me a great time.  Happy New Year, and may you game often in 2014!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

So what did everybody get?

Under the tree this year, I found a pair of ships for the X-Wing miniatures game, courtesy of my wife.  Representing the Dark Side was Darth Vader's TIE fighter (officially the TIE Advanced).  On the Rebels' side, the HWK-290 (a.k.a. the Mouldy Crow, originally appearing in a computer game). 

I was expecting the Empire ship, since I saw that when my wife and I were Christmas shopping.  She noticed me eyeing the toy, and asked if I wanted it as a holiday present.  I said yes, realizing that she would insist on wrapping it and not actually give it to me until Christmas, which I was fine with.  The other mini, however, came as a surprise. 

My spouse told me she was at Barnes & Noble and noticed a shelf full of various X-Wing expansions.  She didn't want to buy me a duplicate of  something in my collection, so she checked this blog to make sure she bought me something I didn't already own!  Very clever and thoughtful gift selection from my wife. 

These were the only gaming gifts I received this year, and I can't wait to try them out on the gaming table.  Did anyone else received wargaming or roleplaying loot this Christmas?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from SGDN!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Yule Tidings to you and yours this holiday season from Super Galactic Dreadnought.  I know a lot of people have to work around this time, and I hope you get a chance to relax with family and friends sometime soon.

Meanwhile, tell us: What did Santa bring you this year?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve OGRE

Holidays and gaming have gone hand-in-hand for me since I was in junior high.  All that free time while school's out is conducive to rolling dice with your friends.  So it was nice today to break in my  spouse-approved copy of the OGRE Designer's  Edition since I was off work.  I invited a gamer who lives nearby, and since he had his brother (another gamer) in from out of town, we played two Mark IIIs attacking the command post.  The siblings each took an Ogre, and I played the defenders, setting up a four-howitzer defense with the command post in the upper right corner of the map.
Defending against a pair of Ogres is much harder than taking on a single unit, even a Mark V.  I had to split my forces and try to wear down both at the same time.  I was able to quickly knock one of the Ogres down to 2 movement and destroy its main battery, but the other scooted along the edge of the map and was a lot harder to slow down.  Even though it was within the howitzer umbrella (I was rolling four and then three dice against the treads every turn), it kept coming.  I took out its main gun, but even with artillery barrages assisted by a missile tank that slowed it by 1 MP on consecutive turns, the Ogre was able to get the CP in range of its secondaries, destroying it. 

At that point, the first cybertank (which hadn't even made it to the middle of the map) turned around to flee.  Since my remaining units were three howitzers, a missile tank, and about 12 squads of infantry, there was nothing to catch it and keep it from escaping.  I was able to get revenge on the CP-killer, however, immobilizing it and withdrawing my mobile units to let the howitzers finish it off.
So a marginal victory for the Ogres, and a decisive good time for the players.  My guests, who last participated in a game of  OGRE was when Reagan was president, remarked that it played just like they remembered, coming down to a few suspenseful dice rolls as the giant robot tank closed in on the command post.  Here's to holiday gaming!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Too much stuff?

I think I have too much gaming stuff.
In the vendor's room at Millenniumcon last month, there was a treasure trove of wargaming miniatures set up in the back corner.  Thousands of minis, some long out of production, in just about every genre (historical, modern, fantasy, sci-fi).  The most remarkable thing about this: they all came from the collection of a single person. 

The man was a decades-long wargamer who had picked up a wide range of figures from just about every manufacturer out there over the years.  He died a few years back, and now his friends and relatives are renting tables at gaming conventions to sell off this massive collection and get his family some money. 

And I do mean massive--they had five or six tables covered in blister packs, storage containers and original boxes.  The castings ranged from mint condition, never opened, to painstakingly detailed and painted, and everything in between.  And as soon as the relatives started bringing in those boxes of minis, a horde of con-goers looking for bargains (including yours truly) swarmed in like a pack of hyenas to the kill.

I gave the sellers some of my money and walked away with a good deal on some miniatures.  But I got to thinking about the guy who amassed all those minis over the years--including tons that he never even took out of the box.  Yet here I was doing the same thing.  I splurged on a whole lot of  sci-fi tanks because I was thinking about gaming in that genre.   And I already have a bunch of 6mm sci-fi for OGRE/GEV (and I just dropped a Benjamin on the new edition of that game)
Am I becoming a hoarder?  I already have games I never get to play, complete with unpainted minis (some decades old already).  It's difficult to keep everything stored as it is, yet I keep buying new figures because I think they'll make a cool army, and then I never get around to painting or gaming with them.  The whole point of this hobby is to have fun, not to obsess over adding more and more trinkets to my pile.  When I die, I don't want to leave behind a bunch of unopened game components.  I want to leave behind a collection that's painted, used, and enjoyed.

Maybe it's time to downsize.  In the new year, I'm thinking about getting rid of some of the figures I bought that I haven't painted yet.  There's no point in keeping things around if I don't have the time or the inclination to work on them.  I need to let them go, and be more productive with a smaller collection.  When my stuff gets sold off after my death, I want people to look at it and say, "Yeah, that guy did a lot of gaming."  Not, "That guy had a lot of minis he never used."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

OGRE DE: Spouse-approved!

I picked up my retail copy of OGRE Designer's Edition from Dragon's Lair in San Antonio last weekend.  As you can see, the game is pretty hefty:  two feet wide by one-and-two-thirds foot high by almost half a foot deep.  The store didn't even bother to take it out of the box it was shipped in (seen in the right rear of this photo).  And it's heavy--around 28 pounds in all.
I started punching out the counters (after reading the instructions) and got my wife to help me remove them from the sheets and separate them by size.  I showed her how the various flat counters all have room in the storage tray. 
Then I mentioned that the game included a large number of much larger three-dimensional pieces that you had to assemble.  After gazing at a photo of a 3-D counter and looking at the stack of unpunched counter sheets, my spouse looked at me with concern.

"And so where are you going to put all your new toys?" she asked, visualizing dozens of OGREs atop every horizontal surface in the house.

"They thought of that when they designed the game," I replied, showing her the "garage" that has room for the various 3-D units that come with the game (and more).

She was very impressed with the consideration the manufacturer used in providing storage space for assembled game pieces--something most of my other games don't have.  She also liked how cleanly all the die-cut counters separated from the sheets to which they were attached.

"I like the job they did," she said.  "Tell them the game has spousal approval."

So good job, Steve Jackson Games!  The wife gives you a thumbs-up.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lesson learned in Song of Blades and Heroes

I had a chance to play Song of Blades and Heroes last weekend at the game store.  HoldFast was kind enough to bring the rules, terrain, and warbands.  I took a group of Mage Knight elves against his mercenary band, Venom Inc. 

I started out very well, as all five of my figures had a high Quality rating.  Unfortunately, I misread my warband stats and thought they all had good combat ratings as well.  So I moved a couple of what I thought were C5 warriors, when they were actually C2 and C3.  They didn't last long, and I quickly lost three figures. The two survivors didn't flee off the board, but the leader soon met his doom, and the remaining figure called it a day.  I think it was my opponent's first win with the warband he was using. 

Still, it was a good time and a learning experience.  The lesson: pay attention to your stats, and don't bring your weaker characters into combat. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

More games of X-Wing

I've been somewhat a DIY gamer for some time, never using minis that can be tied to any specific franchise, so I'm kind of surprised that I've gotten into the X-Wing minis game.  My brother bought it for me, and over Thanksgiving we sat down for a couple of games on his dining table. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sampling OGRE Designer's Edition

I made it up to Dragon's Lair last weekend and managed to catch a demonstration of the massive new OGRE Designer's Edition from Steve Jackson Games.  Al, one of SJG's Men in Black, was on had to run the game and give out swag.  I thought he looked familiar; he was previewing the new edition of OGRE a year ago at the 2012 Millenniumcon. 
As you may already know, this game is frackin' huge--a ginormous box that ships at 24 pounds, with massive maps of the OGRE and GEV battlefields and scores of counters.  While the conventional armor and infantry use flat counters, the giant cybertanks are depicted by 3-D cutouts that you assemble.  They looked good on the board, giving the game more of a miniatures vibe than a boardgame feel (and I'm not a purist; I usually play with minis but use the boardgame rules anyway).
And how did the game play?  Smooth as ever.  Two other players, Henry and David, each took a Mk III against my and Al's conventional defense of two command posts.  Al even provided the Ogre War Room app for his tablet, as you can see in the upper right of the photo above.  This free software for phones and tablets is a playing aid that keeps track of damage to your OGRE electronically.
So the app tracked our damage, but Al and I didn't do nearly enough to stave off the inevitable cybertank victory, as they all but eliminated the defending units to grind slowly toward the CPs.  Still, we did some damage to the machines, and had a great time doing so.  And after the game was over, I received the pocket edition of OGRE, which won't hit stores until next year!  Nice.
So I've got a very portable version of OGRE to take with me on trips.  And I just found out my copy of the big game has arrived as well.  I can't wait to pick up my very own copy of the Designer's Edition this weekend.  It will be a blast!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Some D&D minutia

The blog Zenopus Archives is conducting a scholarly review of an early manuscript of the basic Dungeons & Dragons rulebook by Eric Holmes.  ZA notes in a couple of places that in the draft, Holmes referred to the relative power of characters (both player and non-player) as "orders" instead of "levels."

While this designation of "orders" instead of "levels" got edited out in the published product, I did find one place where the use of "order" in that context remained.  Check out the monster entry for Dwarves (emphasis added):
For every 40 dwarves (or possibly fewer) there will be one high order dwarf, the leader, who may have magic arms or armor and be of level 2-7.
I found this wording in my second edition copy of the rulebook as well as in my third edition of the basic book.  I'm curious as to whether it stayed in subsequent versions of the book.

I never would have given this term a second thought if Zenopus Archives hadn't begun that detailed review of the Holmes manuscript.  Since that was the rulebook that got me started playing D&D way back when, I'm always interested in reading more about it, and I'm happy to contribute to the knowledge regarding that tome in my own small way.