- ► March (7)
- ► February (8)
- ► March (17)
- ▼ July (5)
- ► May (3)
Saturday, July 9, 2011
So, during my vacation I have been reading a lot of comics. Not sure why, as I have a backlog of novels to read - but I guess I am in a mood or something.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Its been a long, strange journey. The reason for my tardy update of this blog was simply due to the untimely death of my father. We were on our way out of Gabon when I was told about his death. Luckily, the embassy was amazingly supportive across the board and helped get me and my family out the door and home as soon as possible. From there, its been a whirlwind of training, consultations, and family stuff. Only now am I getting home to Texas to enjoy some R&R - and finalize the crap with my father's estate (anyone wanna buy a plane? No?)
What has the last 3+ weeks taught me? Stuff NOT to forget if you are gaming on the go.
1) If you play Warmachine, dont, for gawd's sake, forget your faction cards! I just had to rebuy my faction cards because its damn hard to play the game without them. They are small and portable and you should have no excuse not to bring them. Faction decks are surprisingly hard to find in LGSs.
2) Rulebooks. This isn't a biggie, but having the core rulebook of your game system should be important. If you forget it or intentionally leave it behind, you can rebuy it. But seriously, who wants two core rulebooks?
You might think I would say "dice" but unless you are freaky about the hoodoo associated with your particular dice, they are easy and cheap to rebuy. Plus, having more dice is always nice.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
So, lets talk about Battlefoam's custom foam-maker-thingy...
Why Do Such a Thing?
In anticipation for the upcoming move from Gabon to Sri Lanka - which will involve a stop over in Dallas and Indianapolis (for GenCon '11) - I thought I could use some specialized foam to protect the bigger and irregularly-shaped pieces of my Warmachine army. As you may or may not know, I've been very happy with Battlefoam as of late (see the other posts in this series). Battlefoam's bags and foam are top notch and exactly what I am looking for in terms of durability and portability.
So, it was only natural I utilize their signature custom foam designer. This was precipitated largely because, while the standard Warmachine foam inserts are solid, they arent large enough to comfortably hold odd/large models. Behemoth and mounted Fenris are the too worst offenders. If I am to bring them to Dallas and Indy to play a slew of Warmachine, I thought having a special foam insert for them would be the best idea.
I used a 4'' deep piece of custom foam. The idea was to make sure the really odd moels would fit. Looking at the picture beblow, you can see mounted Fenris (in the fore) and the Behemoth (behind) - they fit pretty nice. Fenris will need to go on his side, but the Behemoth fits wonderfully with a topper covering that last little bit. I chose to put them all upright because I like having only the base touching the foam... its probably illogibal, but I feel better knowing that they arent rolling around on their sides. Plus, all the standard Battlefoam trays have the models lay on their sides, I wanted to see if an insert could be made that is both useful and allows the models to stand upright.
The template designer was easy to use. You play with their program on line, drop some geometry on some simulated foam, and you are good to go. In my case, I was looking mostly for a handful of large slots to hold a couple large figures, so the other stuff I added in was mostly just extra. That said, I could have done a better job utilizing the extra space. The little 1'' circles I thought would be a nice snug fit for tall models like the Thrall Warrior (with his big ass sword) or the Iron Fang standard bearer. Unfortunately, the little circle is too snug, and with a deep foam insert like I bought, it would literally pull the figure from the base if I put him all the way in there. So, those 1'' slots are going to be used for dice or holding magetized arms of 'jacks.
A general rule of thumb if I were to do this again (and I will) is add AT LEAST 1/2'' to the size you think would be appropriate. Another 1/2'' wouldnt be unreasonable either. The foam is cut with precision and the usual high standards are maintained on the custom foam.
If you are worried the custom foam wont be as sturdy or reliable as the standard stuff, as long as you dont go crazy and put too many slots (and degrade the integrity) - you will be fine.
So, the above pic is my tentative layout. Upper left is Beast. Upper right is the Behemoth. The other larger circles are all magnetized plastic Khador jacks with their arms removed. Fenris, obviously, is in the middle. In the medium circle on the bottom right is a Thrall Warrior. Above him is the IFP Standard Bearer. Overall, things fit nicely (excpeting those little holes, which I note above).
I do plan to do a little cutting of my own. If I remove a little foam between the prongs of the "x" in some of the slots, I can fit other irregularly shaped jacks like Drago and Beast. The other problem children are those damned plastic Detroyers and Juggernauts in the new box set. They are very wide and wont fit in anything short of those big circles or the big square. I have access to Juggeys and Destroyers through the magnetized 'jacks, so my motivation to find room for these guys is pretty low.
I am happy with the X-circles. That extra room fits some of the weapons that hang akwardly off some of the larger models and 'jacks, and will provide a useful spot to start when I make my own cuts. The X-circles also come filled with their own foam, adding to their utility (and the overall stability of the insert). I can cut those fillers as I see fit as well us use them to provide a more base (for foam stacked on top) when not in use.
- When you plan out the foam with the designer, always add at least 1/4'' for each model that is standing upright.
- Those little 1'' circles are pretty much useless.
- Dont be afraid to cut the foam you just customized to accomodate the really odd models.
- 4'' deep foam is deep enough for everyone but mounted Fenris standing upright and Behemoth.
- Really, just because its driving my nuts, the plastic Destroyer and Juggernaut from the battleforce box set are annoyingly large and wide. If you want to find them a nice home using the custom foam designer, go with the really largle slots. Ugh.
Oh! If you look closely at the pics in this Blog you will get a hint of the topic of "Moving Armies Part 4: Bigger Than a Breadbasket" (any guesses?)
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
Long story short - I won my fantasy Hockey League for the first time since I joined the league four years ago. Go me. This reunites the regular season trophy and the overall championship trophy under my sage stewardship. I'm really quite please with this result - not only for the trophies - but because I really like the guys that play in this league and consider them good opponents.
A little piece of advice for you budding fantasy players out there. Dont sweat the draft. If your team looks exactly the same coming out of the regular season as it did going in, you did something wrong. No matter what fantasy sport you play, its all about the Waiver Wire. Play your hunches on the waiver wire, not the draft, and you should do just fine.
Now, if the Stars could win out and actually make the playoffs...
Friday, April 1, 2011
There have been nights, where I hear her little cry, knowing that she isnt fully awake. She begins to roll back and forth, kicking her legs. I know she has a fart coming. I dread it. I stay deathly still, hoping that if I am perfectly still that it will somehow make the fart pass and my daughter fall back asleep. Eyes wide open, breathing slowed, I pray that things (ahem) work themselves out. Sometimes they do, sometimes they dont and I have to get up and help put her back to sleep.
Waking at 3am hearing that your baby has a fart coming is a special sort of dread I never knew about until a few months ago. Its terrifying and demoralizing at the same time.Farts. They wake my daughter up at night. For that, they hold my eternal enmity.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Okay, so I finally made it to the finals in my fantasy hockey league. The league, called "Diplomatic Immunity Hockey League (DIHL)" has been a part of my fantasy sports life for the better part of four years now. The players/managers are all associated with the State Dept. in one way or the other and have served overseas as Foreign Service Officers (again, at some point or another). Its a good league, with a couple very knowledgeable and active managers. There are a couple homers in the league too - of which I am one (go Stars!).
In DIHL I routinely make it to the postseason in our league, and (frustratingly) routinely get bounced in the first round. Looking at my record, since joining the league, I have placed 7th three years in a row as a result of getting eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. Its like clockwork. Last year was especially disappointing. I led my squad to a near-victory in the regular season standing (which wins a trophy). I missed winning the regular season by one point. Yup, one point. I was cruising for the better part of the 2nd half of the season then went on holiday/medical leave to S. Africa for a week. There, I didnt have access to the Internet and, stupidly, felt confident my team could do their thing on autopilot for one measly week. Yeah, right. I get back, to see me lose in a heartbreaker. Then I get to the post-season ranked 2nd, and get creamed by 7th place. That, naturally, left me in my traditional 7th overall hole. Great. My choke is going down in DIHL lore as the greatest (worst) stumble of all time. Great. Worse, we draft the following year based on regular season standings, so while I finished 7th overall due to my crap-ass performance in the postseason, I finished 2nd in the regular season and drafted 2nd to last. Great.
My post-season perfomance in DIHL is the fantasy equivilent of this.
This year has been different. I dominated, again, in the regular season, with 30+ points between me and 2nd place (who, by the by, is the guy that beat me our for #1 last year). Fearing the worst, I prepared to get pwned in the first round of the playoffs. Miraculously, I did not. In the 2nd round, it was amazingly tight, but I won by a razor-thin score of 7-6.
Let me talk a bit about the 2nd round of the playoffs. I faced a team that plays a lot like I do. Together we probably accounted for 75% of the waiver wire moves for the entire league. We both have no compunctions about dropping slackers and picking up the most obscure hot-hands. So, we go into this past Sunday (the final day for the matchup) basically neck-and-neck (him 6 points, me 5 [which means he leads in 6 categories, I lead in 5 categories, and the others were tied]).
Sunday had him starting a goalie and probably taking the lead on a number of the goalie stats since I didnt have a goalie on my roster with a start that day. It sucked, but I figured I could make up those points because I had a couple extra offensive players starting on that day. I wake up on Sunday, check the score, and see my opponent craftily dropped a bunch of scrubs and picked up some hot-hands that specifically played that Sunday. I suddenly went to having a slight advantage in starting players, to a major disadvantage.
As luck would have it, my daughter woke up early on Sunday so I had a little time to see what was going on. With literally 15 minutes left before any additions would not be applied for the games on Sunday, I did some mad-crazy research, grabbed my own offensive ringers to play... and then divine providence encouraged me to also pick up Chris Mason, the backup goalie in Atlanta. Every place I checked said Mason was unlikely to start, but I desperately needed a goalie to start on Sunday and he was the only option on the waiver wire with even a prayer to start.
I got lucky. Mason started. Not only did he start, he won his game. Up 4-2 he gave up two painfully late goals and the teams went into overtime. Then they went to a shootout. It came down to a single goal... and my DIHL opponent had the guy facing Mason on the other end of the ice. I get the win, get an extra point in the hockey league - and that made all the difference.
Picking up Mason was the fantasy hockey equivalent of pulling my goalie with 5 minutes left. It was a desperation play - born of necessity and trading my possible future performance in the finals for a short-term gain to actually make it to the finals.
So, here I am. My team is gutted due to the need to pick up a bunch of ringers and I am facing the guy who took 2nd in the regular season (in other words, he didnt get lucky and got to the finals on the back of a very good team). However, I did what I had to in order to make it to the finals. No crappy 7th place for me this year!
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
The Destroyer is Your Bestest Friend (after me, that is)
With this blog I am going to try something new - analysis of some Warmachine units/minis. I like to think I have a bit of a different perspective than other Warmachine players (dont we all?). I enjoy taking minis and units that are normally poo-poo'd by the greater Warmachine community and see if I can find the context to make those models useful. I enjoy this doubly so when I have a theme I am working on and slavishly keep a model in the list despite its supposed ineffectiveness. Naturally, the Destroyer, which kicked so much butt in 1e and is now considered obsolete in 2e by many Warmachine players, is the 'Jack I field most often and have the best results with. I think I am going to call this series of Blogs "Pithy Analysis."
Pithy Analysis: The Destroyer
Even now, they cannot escape the shadow of "the Big guy."
The Destroyer gets unfairly maligned by pretty much every Khador player because it isnt the Behemoth. The Destroyer is nine points, gets you good ARM, a great ranged weapon (the bombard), and a solid (if unexciting) melee weapon. The Behemoth is 13 points, gets you two bombards, has great melee, has an extra point of armor, and looks sweet. So, for a measly four points more you get a lot more return on your investment, right? Right? Wrong. The reality is that the Destroyer continues to fill a useful role in Khador's arsenal - and is not supplanted in all instances by the Behemoth. Its All About the Gun.
Lets get the basics of the bombard out of the way-- long range; great POW (for a gun); 3'' AOE (to force good placement by your opponent and to still hit even when you miss); arcing fire (to ignore annoying screens); and because of that AOE, the ability to hit stealthed solos (I'm looking at you Eiyrss). Thats quite a set of abilities.
Fool'd ya! Its actually all About the Mission.
What the Destroyer does is give a Khador player a mobile and amazingly survivable gun platform that can also defend itself in melee -- for 9 points. That's the key right there, when you have a role to fill, you should fill it as efficiently as possible. Yeah, yeah, the Behemoth is better in many ways, but its also four more points. If you dont have to spend four more points to get the job done - then dont. Simply upgrading to the Behemoth in all cases is wasting a large percentage of your available army list.
To put it another way, if you are trying to save money, and you can buy a nice Mazda for $20,000 to get to work or you can buy a nice BMW for $70,000 - which should you buy? Yes, the Mazda isnt as sexy as the BMW, but for utility, it does the same thing. Drawing the analogy out, you can do the same for making lists. You can choose fluff over substance (which is totally okay by me, heck, I encourage it), or you can choose to streamline your list. Since we are talking about relative utility of the Destroyer and I am (vainly) trying to convince you, dear reader, that the Behemoth isnt always the better choice, lets just put aside fluff and aesthetics for the time being. Phew.
The Behemoth, Focus, and You!
One! Two! Two bombards! Ah, ha, ha!
Dont overlook the fact that the Destroyer is arguably our best model for taking and holding objectives. If you play games as something other than run-run-melee (which many Khador players seem to think is the only option - more power to them I guess), then the Destroyer is extremely valuable. It can advance to a spot, and with its armor absorbing hit after hit, hold that point for a couple rounds (at least). Better yet, since its bombard has great range and amazing hitting power, the Destroyer can camp that spot and still participate in the battle -- hitting challengers and severely weakening them before they ever get close to the objective point. When/if your opponent gets something to the point to try to push the Destroyer off, it has that handy axe for defending itself. There are other ways to take and hold an objective, but none so menacing and hard for your opponent to deal with than the (wrongfully-maligned) Destroyer. ...oh, and the Destroyer can hit stealthed targets at range. I've seen my opponent bring Eiryss to the table, just to see her wiped off the map by a nicely deviated bombard shot -- and then the Destroyer (in subsequent turns) deals ranged death to my opponent's most valuable models. Great armor + strong gun + great range = ideal unit to take and hold objectives.
Pithy Analysis Conclusion: Use the Destroyer when you need:
1) A powerful shooty unit in your army (one of the best Khador has to offer).
2) To hold an objective (the best Khador has to offer).
3) When the Behemoth is too expensive.
Monday, March 21, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
I read a reasonable amount of comics in TPB or Graphic Novel format. Usually, these are easy and quick reads, perfect for long days when I am sitting in bed getting sleepy. I like to think I am pretty discerning when it comes to comics -- I'm an adult and want good plots supported by interesting characters. So, with that said, I wholeheartedly suggest...
Locke and Key:
Its really, really good. The art is amazing and the plot is genuinely creepy and suspenseful. Its the story of a family, ripped apart by tragedy, and beset by all sorts of (inter-related) supernatural events. This is very much an adult comic with blood, violence and adult themes laced throughout the panels.
Whats really nice about Locke and Key is the art nicely supports the complex story-telling. If havent seen attention to detail in the art like this since the old Image series The Maxx. Many panels have little hints and foreshadowing buried in the crisp art, encouraging you to linger on each panel for a couple seconds to make sure you catch everything. Good stuff...
My other hotness lately is Powers:
Powers is not new (there are, like, 13 collections out already -- with more to come), and a lot of great reviews already exist (so i am not the only one crowing about its quality). Its a little like the Wire meets Heroes. Powers is the, hands-down, best super heroes comic I have ever read. Its also the best crime drama/noir comic I have ever read. Funny how it can be both... but thats what good writing will get 'ya. Again, adult situations and themes carry these books, so they are not for the wee ones.There you go. Go buy 'em!
Monday, March 14, 2011
This is one of those posts that isnt revolutionary or anything, but deals with a topic I have to discuss if I am going to talk about gaming and overseas life. Bear with me.
This little "S" means "gg."
Hey! Wrong VASSAL!
My buddies and I also use VASSAL. Its a program that is specifically designed to facilitate online play of board - and wargames. Readers of my older posts will know that this is pretty much the old may I can play Warmachine with any regularity outside of my yearly pilgrimage to GenCon. Skype with VASSAL allows me to spend an evening with my buddies practicing new army compositions and tactics. VASSAL is great not just for isolated gamers like me, its a good place to try the really wonky stuff you want to do on a wargaming table (8 bombards FTW!), but in an environment that is a tad less competitive. By its very nature, VASSAL creates an environment a little less intense than a standard table top.
Now, admittedly, pushing pixels of minis is not as fun as pushing lead around a table, but its something. Actually, VASSAL is a little like methadone for a heroine addict. Not as good as the real need, but it can tide you over.
Its amazing, really. In the span of 10 years or so, the gaming community has moved from being dependant on basements and brick-and-mortars, to playing virtually. Its been a boon for me, allowing me to keep my old gaming group going through the last 10+ years.