Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SPECIAL OPERATIONS: KILLZONE GIVEAWAY




Because the course of world domination never did run smoothly, we are holding a giveaway to help your global conquest along.

As you may know, Killzone v2 has just been re-released after months in the laboratory. In our quest for unflinching perfection (cough cough), we want to put the system through the public ringer well in advance of our modest splash at AdeptiCon 2012 -which will be glorious, no doubt. We want to find out sooner rather than later all those quirky little twists of the game that, after months of working, our bloodshot eyes can no longer see.


This is where you come in to the picture.

We are not asking you to break the game, mind you. It is already broken. We have done this quite ably on our own to the standard 40K game; however, we want to hear about your Special Operations exploits to learn if there is, in fact, a difference to the way we imagined the game would work in the real world, to the way it actually works. This is, I am reliably told, how one improves.

THE GIVEAWAY:
To sweeten the deal, we are giving away a ton of stuff. There will be three grand (perhaps more) prizes given away in total over the course of December, with additional prizes also awarded as we are able. After each drawing, we will announce the prize for the next drawing.

The FIRST GIVEAWAY will be announced Friday, December 9, which is a little over one week from now. The winner will be selected at random from all the entries, and that lucky sod will get this:


A new in the box Stormraven (–what better vehicle to deliver and to extract your Special Operations team from the field). As mentioned, there will also be additional prizes as we are able.

We will send these to you no matter where on our green sphere you live.


HOW TO ENTER:
1. Play Special Operations: Killzone – a lot.
2. After each game, write a report following the format below. You can grab the image below if you like or download a copy at the right under "Special Operations: Mission Report"***. 


3. Send me your completed report(s). You can find my email over there --> You earn one entry in the giveaway drawing for every report that you submit, so the more you play, the greater chance you have of winning great swag. 

PLEASE BE SURE TO ADD YOUR NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS –so that I know both who you are and how to contact you.



THE SKINNY:
We intend to use this feedback to strengthen the overall game and to finalize this version of the Killzone experience. For that reason, we have dedicated the entire month of December to this feedback process.

Beginning this coming Friday, December 2, we will be updating the Special Operations: Killzone Rulebook and/or Errata, and we will continue to do so every Friday for the month as necessary.

After that, this year’s version of Killzone will be set in stone and the final, final rules will be published Friday, December 30.

So, be sure to check out the most current release each week, and play play play play play.


Updates you will find beginning this week:
- the run mechanism has been tamed slightly and brought in to line with other bonus movements. This is designed to prevent models from scooting around the table a bit too wildly.

- the deployment zones have been tightened so that teams have a bit more room to maneuver before closing for the gory parts.

- the Primary Mission “Messenger” has been binned in favor of a more workable encounter.


It’s not groundbreaking, but each piece in this puzzle helps make (we believe) the game something closer to bullet proof – which is a worthy goal if ever I have known one. 


*** I cannot get this to work. Would anyone be able to briefly inform an utter dolt (me) how to create a link that lets someone download a pdf just by clicking? I am at a loss. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Special Operations: Killzone v2


I am extremely pleased to announce that Special Operations: Killzone v2 is up and running. You can find the downloads on the Codex Project's site. Big Jim has left up all the different versions as source material and generally for those interested; however, I should stress that the newest iterations -and specifically the beta for those that will be used at AdeptiCon this year- are listed as Killzone v2.


We have spent some considerable time updating some basic rules mechanisms, tinkering with upgrades, re-inventing basic game mechanics like missions and the endgame, and much more. On top of that, we have brought the new codexes (?) into the Errata and tried our very best to close loopholes in the old.

Here is the most cursory rundown of what you can expect:

-Overwatch works better now. Any weapon excepting Pistols can use it, and we have worked out the mechanism for its relation to priority rolls, etc. 

-Pistols may now engage in Defensive Fire, which again sows up a tricky situation created by priority. 
-Model caps. No model may exceed 80 points total. 

-the costs of Themes has been reworked.

-same for Weapon and Skill upgrades. Weapon upgrades, in particular, has gone through a very interesting revision process. 

-we have scrapped the cumbersome mission generation mechanism (and tome) for a method that borrows heavily from a variety of sources. Special Operations Groups now generate a Primary Mission (shared by both players) and both a Secondary and Tertiary Mission (kept secret). These have added a really quite cool dynamic and strategic complexity to our test games.

-The above Mission generation system also folds nicely into the new endgame. You no longer need worry about your team disintegrating old-Necron-style, but instead must keep your eye on the turns as they tick by. No mission can end before six turns, nor last more than 12; however the precise moment between those two depends on the objectives in game.

-the Cards are also being reworked as I type, and you can expect to see more of that here soon. 


Well. That's just the surface area that I have covered here. I distinctly encourage you to drop in and have a go.  

Of course, we are not about to say that this is perfect. In fact, we realize that it needs to be put through the public ringer quite vigorously. As ever with a project like this, I am (we have been) entirely too close to it for entirely too long. Inevitably, I am blind to something that will leap off the page to a pair of fresh eyes. To that end, I will be announcing a brand new competition and giveaway on Monday. So stay tuned for your opportunity not only to participate in Killzone glory, but also to secure a fine bit of swag.   



Glorious.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Necrons: Test Model




Bandwagon. Ho!

(… you didn’t think I was going to miss out on this, did you?)

You might already know this, but I really enjoy painting decaying metal of all manner and variation. I really do not understand it myself, but I find the techniques relatively intuitive and the results quite rewarding –for me anyway. Check out the recipe tag at right to see what I mean. At least half the entries are metallic.

So, with the Necrons new release the choice seemed almost predestined -60 million year old metal monstrosities in a breadth of shapes and sizes? Just try to keep me away. And thus, I always suspected that I would at least dabble with a model or two, for sport if nothing else.

I did not, however, expect to like quite so many of the new models quite so much as I do. The Lychguard are superlative, Deathmarks deviously cool, and Immortals, well, plastic. I am smitten. Moreover, I am tremendously excited for those yet to be brought to the table: Tomb Blades, new Wraiths, I’m looking at you.


For this model, I took my inspiration from a palette that I spotted two years ago at AdeptiCon (2010 shown above). I have no idea to whom the tank belongs (sincerest apologies on that end), but remember the colors distinctly from the team tournament on Saturday. Any help, of course, would be appreciated. Credit where credit is due and all that.

Well. I have always wanted to work with a similar breadth of cool greys and blues contrasted with rusted oranges and rich browns.

That was my basic premise with this fellow. I had a notion that the elite classes for this dynasty would have encased themselves in lustrous white armor to symbolize the purest strands of their nobility and panache, while the humbler classes would be left with increasingly metallic sarcophagi as one moved down the social strata. Of course, all that was 60 million years ago, and nobody looks exactly “good” these days.

He remains a WIP but... so far so good. 

You are unlikely to know that I already own a sparse and haphazard, but otherwise fully functioning, Necron Army. I first assembled a few units in 2004, but then built a force properly as an NPC-type army for a campaign that Pitmann and I ran in 2006. They have sat on the shelf since then.


More on that initial experience, and some more impressions of the new codex next time.


Have I played a battle with my haphazard old army?
Why yes, I have.  

Was victory mine?

Friday, November 18, 2011

First Impressions: Wreck Age



[++RETROACTIVE DISCLAIMER: although I didn’t at the time of this post, I now work with Hyacinth Games –the people that bring you Wreck Age. For the sake of full frontal honesty, I thought it best to announce this retrospectively so that there was no appearance of unseemliness or whatnot. You get the picture. ++]

 Earlier this year at AdeptiCon (which feels like a very long time ago indeed), I met a fellow named Anton who was very helpful in his response to and participation in the Special Operations bonanza. At that time, he mentioned most casually that he was in the process of developing an entirely new skirmish game and wondered if I would be interested in having a peek as it all developed.

I am extremely pleased to introduce: Wreck Age.

You can find the beta here, and the kickstarter here. I recommend a proper ogle at that artwork. This is not just your standard startup. This is for real.

Although still in its relative infancy, the “universe” that Anton and his team have created is really quite cool, with a dose of sci-fi and Wild West with Mad Max and other notable inspirations thrown in for good mix.

There’s plenty of room to explore yet, and I am particularly looking forward to the ARHK (autonomous region of Hong Kong) faction as it comes together.


Take a look again at some of these concept sketches.

Here are those links again:



I had the opportunity last weekend to play through the beta a few times and found the explicit mixture of tabletop skirmish and RPG really compelling. Though I’ve not really been into RPG since junior high school (roughly age 12 for those outside the U.S.), I found this game a very gentle path between what might otherwise seem exclusive possibilities. This was really quite refreshing in my mind.

Moreover, the game itself is simple and abstract enough by design, that we felt able to play rather quickly. There is plenty of room to add complexity as you desire (to start, we instinctively limited some modifiers for clarity), but the open nature of that tabletop skirmish RPG dynamic that I mentioned above serves amicable players really quite well. There’s room for the players to explore the game itself, which I find one of the most simple and rewarding aspects of our fine hobby.


Oh, and combat is brutal. There isn’t any of this “my dood got hit in the face with an explosive round but shook it off with his 2+ aura of hiding.” Not at all.

Take a look. If, like me, you have been leaning toward the skirmish game, I think you will be pleased with what you find.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Top Ten Models... according to me: #3 The Baneblade




Perhaps you thought I had forgotten about the series…

As with the Venerable Dreadnought kit from last time, I suspect that this model may seem a bit chunky and stagnant to be considered alongside the aesthetic concerns I have developed in earlier iterations of the series. And to be sure, there are at least as many visceral reasons as formal design elements that might describe why he has earned such a high spot on the charts.

Let’s think about those for a moment. There are three basic elements to my decision here:

1. This kit is astounding. It is beautiful and powerful and massive and detailed and thorough and rich with possibility –both for the tank and for the “extra” elements that accompany the beast. The 41st millennium positively teems with weight and violence in this design. and yes. the model is quite expensive and truly tangential to the actual game of 40K (at best); however, I do not subscribe for a moment to those who might argue that the kit was a money-grab on the part of GW’s designers and corporate overlords. That is a rather juvenile assertion in my opinion, one both created and sustained by the scores of vapid but vocal malcontents here on the internet. To those adolescents I challenge you to name one multinational company that does not want, on some level, to earn money; name one hobby company that is creating anything comparable to this kit. Categorically, none. This model, therefore, sets a profound bar, which leads me directly to points 2 and 3…

2. Apart from the overflowing kit itself, the Baneblade is frivolity and ambition bound snuggly into one formidable package. It’s lovely. I have played only a handful of Apocalypse games and found the experience a little flat compared to my initial enthusiasm. Something may have been slightly wrong with the scale and the gameplay, but something was also much more wrong with one of the players –an otherwise pleasant young fellow who misguidedly felt that “winning” was the point. It’s a shame really, as I feel quite strongly that the Apocalypse dynamic is compelling for exactly the opposite reason: you are breaking the game and therefore must play for the love. No single model, in my opinion, embodies the “for the love” mentality than this monster. The Baneblade, by conscious design, is reserved for those games when you really want to do something weird and wonderful with the grand hobby experience. That’s just brilliant. (as an aside, for my last effort, I hadn’t yet see the article, but I fully intend to take another look at Warhammer 39,999’s smashing ideas on how to clean up a Apocalypse game for the next run… who knows when).

3. Compulsion. This single model reminds me of why I got into the hobby in the first place. As mentioned, he has only ever seen the tabletop on a handful of occasions, but he is nevertheless one of my favorite models. When I purchased this Baneblade, I had no notion of when I would build him, why, nor what army he might join. I simply felt that familiar and utterly inescapable compulsion: buy, build, paint… the details will work themselves out (and so I did, and so they did as well).

He ended up a proud and malignant member of my Arrugginiti –the rusted crowd of Nurgle CSM that I tinker with from time to time. His first game out, he was blown up turn one, but don’t let that fool you. It was a brief but glorious moment.  

Full disclosure: I also considered the plastic Giant for this slot as much on the merit of the idea and execution as on the model itself. In particular, the Giant seems to my mind GW’s first swing at massive plastic builds with oodles of quirky extras and possibilities. I loved that model and vividly remember the sensation of being distinctly floored when it first came out. The pose is great. The additional material is superlative… just all over the place (the screaming villager in particular has found his way into my Blood Bowl collection as a converted apothecary); however, it was summarily disqualified based on the most important criteria of this list …according to me: I do not own one. Sure, I have painted a Giant, but that was for a friend and he was never mine as such. Alas.  

Also: because I referenced the extras from both the Baneblade and the Giant kit, I thought that I should drop an old photo or two as reference. Until next time...  




Monday, November 14, 2011

Dreadfleet: First Impressions (2)






The Minis:
When I first saw the press releases for this game, I had difficulty grasping the scale of the ships. With my greedy mitts on the matter, I think GW nailed it. Too small would have made the game feel oddly situated and distant (I struggle with Epic for this reason); too large might have made the ships feel flamboyant and cumbersome. For my money, the GW team have found the perfect middle ground.

And the models themselves are unexpectedly beautiful.

Unfortunately, I do not have clear photos of the ships. My birthday is not until the end of the month; however, before our big game some weeks ago now, Chris sent over his scenery. He was quite pressed in his struggle to finish all of the ships before the night in question and I was quite happy to oblige.


As such, this scenery happily lives in Chris’s collection, and I was able to indulge a very rare “dry run” on a project like this. Indeed. This also afforded me the opportunity to photograph all this glorious scenery at my leisure before the big game (hence many of the gameplay images from last post are, admittedly, rather rough). For the most part, I followed the advice offered in White Dwarf, but amplified certain colors and generally tinkered here/there. Once I have my own copy, I will post a step-by-step if there is interest out there…

In the mean time, the scenery makes the game in my opinion. The ships are superb (see last post for a brief digression/discussion of the design aesthetic), but I really admire these scenic sculpts. They were a breeze to work up to a decent standard, and I cannot help but feel that the designers were thinking about how paint lands on plastic throughout the composition thereof (though I have no practical experience, I would not say the same for the ships. Apparently, they are a mare to paint and demand some considerable sub-assembly). We shall see. These islands and wrecks and general flotsam detritus are splendid; as importantly, a few basic techniques and a wash or two sort the matter. Unlike standard figures, true drybrushing works wonderfully, as the chalky effect natural to the process only helps amplify the “rocky” appearance of the stone itself. Win.  This makes decent work extremely fast and extremely easy. Win again.

Because I am me, I have already been tinkering with the idea of picking up a few extra boats somehow (bitz? Ebay? can you hear me?), converting them, and drafting a revised fleet or somesuch. In such an effort, I would likely tone down some of the wild, hyperbolic drama in favor of good old fashioned swashbuckling mayhem (take, for example, the Swordfish with a rudder and proper keel modeled for good measure. Scramble up a revised statistic card and Bob is your proverbial uncle).


The Cost:
As I will be receiving the game in celebration of, and for the mere coincidence of, several… cough… decades… cough… of my existence, I can safely say the game is worth the money. heyo.

I will also say that if I was not to be gifted the game reasonably soon, I would pop out a get one on my own gumption. It’s not cheap, but you get plenty back for the pain. Moreover, my impression is that it will be an ideal go-to game on those nights when rum is in the air.

Ahoy.


++QUICK FAVOR ALERT: my lovely wife is in the process of completing her master's degree in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. For the linguistics part of her thesis, she is required to collect data on the perception of non-standard practices. She has created a very short, entirely anonymous questionnaire (open to all) to gather said research. If you are free, easy, and inclined, please click here and answer candidly to help her compile the data. The questions are designed to open a discussion on the perception of gender, race, and occupation within various non-standard practices. Again. Totally anonymous. All are welcome (native speakers or otherwise). The more data the better. You have my thanks in advance. Cheers!!!++

more dreadfleet:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dreadfleet: First Impressions (1)




“First Impressions” has become a rather accidental series here on A Gentleman’s Ones, which I suppose is a symptom of my recent interest in several systems beyond (or at least adjacent to) my usual 40K interests. It began with Kings of War, has continued with Warmachine, and this third installment has lead me to believe that I should politely proceed in a similar vein.

And so I intend to push forward in the same spirit and style that inspired the previous posts (namely, a simple discussion of four basic elements: the game dynamic, the universe, the minis, and the cost). As before, I intend to describe my explicitly subjective experience fairly, and with good manners.

So, last Saturday night I was able to sprint out to the suburbs for deep, fresh, and briny breath of gaming air. Thank you, Chris, for hosting a spirited and eventful evening. 

I have read some genuinely scathing reviews of Dreadfleet here on the internets. I have read a few glowing reports. I am really quite pleased and relieved to say that my impressions are much more of the latter than the former, but not obnoxiously so.

In sum, I had a blindingly good time playing this new game. I used the word “relieved” above because, by happy accident, I recently discovered that I will be gifted a lovely new copy of Dreadfleet for my birthday later this month. Given that I know what I know, I will admit there were several moments last night when I sighed, inwardly, “thank god it doesn’t suck” -quite the contrary in fact. I cannot remember the last time I enjoyed an entirely brand new game so thoroughly. Here’s why:

[One note: Please accept my sincerest apologies for the shocking state of the photos of actual gameplay. While the scenery shots are just fine (and offered the first real reason to shoot imagery with the stock blue background that came with my little box), the photos from the actual games are brutal. Alas, we must content ourselves with the dreadful (no pun) quality of these photos that I took the other night in a basement with my phone. It is a shame that the photos fail to show the brilliant work Chris put into the ships. As for the other scenery… more on that next time.]

The Game Dynamic: 
 In roughly six hours, we played three solid games -two of which included the entire fleet on either side of the exchange. In my opinion, that is a lot of gaming for reasonably little effort. The timeline here includes ample wastage during which we chattered like school girls about the Necrons, discussed in sophisticated (perhaps even refined) tones the Necrons, moaned about “the company,” lauded “the company,” complained about it some more, and generally enjoyed ourselves tremendously. Oh, and we all learned the game from the boards inward, as only one member of the collective (nine individuals over the course of the evening) had anything that might approach “experience” with the game in question. The second-most experienced individual had exactly one game under his belt.

That’s not a bad bit of gaming glory for a single evening really.

So. With a modest bit of collaboration, Dreadfleet seems a quick learner. I really enjoy the strategic opportunities of the I-go-you-go sub-phases in each turn, and both movement and combat not only seem amply suggestive of the things they are meant to represent but also maintain a level of abstraction that keeps the game from running aground (ahoy) with cumbersome rules.

(Digression) -The Universe:
More importantly, the game is impressively evocative. I have absolutely no register on the fluff, yet from our first learner scenario (a rescue and break mission) I was caught in the personality both of the individual models and the collective forces.

To be fair, some of it feels a little over the top. I’m not complaining about the skulls here. In this instance, I quite like the now standard proliferation thereof. No, I am thinking more about the practical need to make the ships readily distinguishable and representative of their unique narrative and/or personality. That is a tricky challenge for designers, I am certain. At times, the need to make each model so much more than simply a ship also requires a potentially grand bit of exaggeration that can be distracting if one spends too much time staring too closely (Araby ship).

And yet, to be even fairer to this fairness digression, how about that Skaven ship, eh? That’s just an absolute blinder. It’s just stunningly vile …and I love it. Then there’s the undead floaty ship? Brilliant.

And yet, there’s a slightly sad note in that each ship represents the unique and lonesome type for its race. I, for one, would love to build an entire fleet of vampire ships… but that would be another game. So we are left to enjoy the hodgepodge fleet of improbably aligned individual ships (which brings to mind –why on earth should desiccated mummies think they aught to voyage asea?) and take this monster at its own impressive value.

(End Digression, and back to) –The Game Dynamic:
Perhaps as a suitable transition from this digression, it would behoove me to state that the game is positively oozing drama. The ships are characterful, and the damage card dynamic is so fraught with hazard that it should curb any of the average captain’s impulses to take the game (or himself for that matter) too seriously. In this particular photo, you can see the Swordfish failing to achieve its goal on the final gasp of the final turn by. just. one. inch.  Oh, the sound of the cheering at that roll. Glorious. Even the scurvied ends of that equation were pleased enough to that the game just felt fulfilling, bugger the outcome.

Dreadfleet is a lighthearted, whimsical game, and demands that one approach it thus.

There are some loose ends. The otherwise beautiful cloth table needs to be nailed down somehow. Likewise, we did have some modest trouble keeping track of a few of what, at times, seemed to be extraneous baggage in the game mechanic (a quirky ongoing Fate effect, and the odd encumbrance or two) which was perhaps added with an eye on more professionally-orientated gamer. I suspect that these details would become reflexive once we learned the game properly, but the constantly shifting wind, as an example, seemed to burden the game slightly only for the sake of it. As it turns out, we demonstrated an intuitive skill at simply ignoring that wind anyway.

I have seen elsewhere the Fate card mechanism criticized quite forcefully. While I do not feel harshly on this matter, we were all left a little flat in game number two when a disproportionately invasive card was drawn at the beginning of a late turn …and summarily ended the game by sinking the Elven ship. Quite rude, really.

Thankfully the rest of the game was dramatic enough to thwart such a crass attempt at stifling our inexperienced enthusiasm, and the final game brought us right back apace with drama, cinematic volleys, and general mayhem.

That said, I might have a nose through that Fate deck when it comes to my possession and have a proper think about what belongs and what should be left aside. At the very least, I expect to “house rule” that mechanism at my abode, and halve or otherwise limit the number of Fate drawn in any one turn.  Simple problems have simple solutions.

Next time, I intend to summarize my impressions while keeping one eye on the miniatures and the relative cost of the game as well.

See you then.