Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Turkey Day!!!

Hey everyone,

Just wanted to take a quick moment to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! Eat some turkey, pass the stuffing, and take a nap 'cause that tryptophan will kick your butt!

There also probably won't be an installment this Saturday due to a lacking in the camera department. Whoopsy! Things will be back on track next week with a new Audio Noise podcast review. Which podcast? Well, you'll have to come back to find out! Can't give away all my secrets.

And the Dispatch is now Facebook as well! Hit the link on the right, click on the like, and you can stay posted about what's happening with the Dispatch.

That's all for now but until next time, eat well and be safe everyone.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Showdown In Smashville

Hello everyone and welcome to a monstrous edition of the Dispatch!

For this installment, we are going to dive into a little bit of kaiju madness! What is this madness I speak of? Read on and find out!

Putting The Monster Into The 'Pocalypse
Taking A Closer Look At Monsterpocalypse

Like a lot of people, I grew up on watching kaiju battle it out on a Saturday afternoon. Godzilla vs Mothra. Godzilla vs King Kong. Godzilla vs... well, pretty much anyone they could dream up! Sure they were cheesy and silly but damn if they weren't fun to watch!

Fast forward to 2008 and Privateer Press, makers of Warmachine and Hordes, release their own pre-painted kaiju miniature game, Monsterpocalype! A giant monster miniature game?!?!? Have I died and gone to heavan? That's aweso... wait... what do you mean it's collectible. Seriously, are you kidding me? Well, so much for that then...

Yeah, that pretty much summed up my feelings about Monsterpocalypse. Tons of potential thrown out the window by making it a collectible game. Sure, you could scour over eBay and online stores, digging threw their singles collections in the hopes of being able to put together an army but even then you probably wouldn't be able to find what you want.

Fast forward again to... well, right now actually. My friend Pat had been singing the praises of Monpoc for a while and I finally decided to give it a try. He has a couple of armies already so no skin off my nose, right? Let me tell you, I'm glad I did.

Dice management is the name of the game in Monpoc. Want to spawn a unit? You need to spend and action die. Move a unit? That will be one more die please. Oh, and now you want to attack as well? Well aren't we feeling ambitious! That will cost you... well, however many die you want to roll. The interesting twist to this is that when you "spend" these action dice, you are actually transferring them over to your monster. This creates an interesting dynamic between the two aspects of the game as you move the dice from one side to the other which can get even more interesting as you get further into the game. The enemy monster is getting close to your own. Do you have enough dice on your monster to take the battle to them or did you move them all over to your units last turn? What about you opponent? Is he holding some dice on his monster or will he be forced to activate his units instead? All of this adds to the game play in Monpoc as you try to out maneuver and out guess your opponents next action.

This might be easy to do if all the units had identical stats but that is definitely not the case here! All of the units basic stats and special rules are clearly marked on the base so you can tell at a glance what a unit can and can't do. It does take a little bit to get used to what all the different icon mean, but once you get the hang of it I can see the game moving along at a pretty good clip.

So the mechanics seem pretty solid and the game play is pretty smooth, but what about the collectible aspect? Well, Privateer finally took steps to address this by releasing a new two player starter set. Unlike their previous offerings which included a random building, monster, and units potentially from all six factions, this new starter comes with six buildings, two monsters, and thirteen units for each of the factions, giving you a very solid foundation to build on right off the bat. Yes, the two factions that are in the box are still random but at least now you will be starting with an army for that faction instead of just a unit or two. Definitely a plus in my book.

And that is Monsterpocalypse! If you haven't checked it out, I definitely recommend giving it a shot. Fun and fast paced, I think this is a good addition to the gaming library of anyone that loves the idea of two giant monsters throwing it down in a city near you. Yes, it's still a collectible game but at least the new two player starter makes the game that much more accessible.

The Parting Shot

And that wraps up another issue of the Dispatch. If you feel like checking out Monsterpocalypse, either pick up the two player starter from your FLGS or see if they have a press ganger that can demo it for you. Normally I would not recommend a CMG but in this I case I gotta make an exception as I think this is definitely a game worth looking into.

As always, thanks for checking out the blog and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to either leave them right here on the blog or you can drop me an email at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Until next time...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

From A Howl To A Whisper

Hey everyone and welcome to a conclusive edition of the Dispatch!

In this issue, we are going to wrap up our Song of Blades and Heroes campaign. The Vahgr have decided that the D'Wagurr have defiled their forest for long enough! Will they succeed in closing the D'Wagurr entrance to the Dark Thorn or will the subterranean menace go unchecked? After that, we'll take a quick look at a system that I plan on using for future campaigns to add a little depth to the whole experiece. Intrigued? Then read on!

Cacophony To Silence
A Song of Blades and Heroes Battle Report

After the last fierce battle, the Vahgr were finally able to track down the entrance that the D'Wagurr were using to enter the Dark Thorn. Determined to end the threat to their home, they summon one of the guardians of the Thorn and march forward to seal the D'Wagurr below. Meanwhile, the D'Wagurr have driven more creatures from below to help them secure their gateway to the surface world.

The game opened with the Vaghr arrayed along the left side of the board while the D'Wagurr were clustered around their tunnel opening.

The D'Wagurr won first activation and launched themselves toward the Vaghrr. With the two overseers in the warband, most of them began the game with a quality of 2+ for activation along with the ability to use group activations to really get their little hoard moving. All of the models were able to activate in the turn with one of the minion groups launching itself virtually to the other side of the table.

The Vaghrr responded by moving forward most of their troops though the Guardian, one of the Wardens, and the Hunter kept their positions for the first turn.

The forward group of D'Wagurr minions were able to knock down the guardian that they were clustered around but fell short of getting in the killing blow.

Meanwhile, the brute charged forward and was able to beat down one of the Vaghr warriors with little difficulty.

The victory was short-lived though as the bladeweaver was able to move up and dispatch the brute with relative ease while the rest of the warband looked on.

The D'Wagurr responded by smashing one of the Dark Thorn wardens and attempting to attack another of the Vaghrr warriors, though they proved to be slightly less effective this time.

The Vaghr are able to make the most of the situation though as they eliminated one of the minions and more importantly they managed to surround one of the two overseers.

While the D'Wagurr were able to make the most of the situation by taking down on of the remaining warriors with their Deep Star spider swarm, the situation with the overseer proved to be too much.

In fact once one of the overseers was killed, it was basically over for the D'Wagurr. The death of the first overseer resulted resulted in a morale check that lead to the death of the second overseer. Finally, this was followed up by a final morale roll as over half of the warband had died or fled. With only a spider swarm and a lone minion left on the table, it was effectively game over for the D'Wagurr.

The Dark Thorn guardian and two wardens were able to move forward and seal the tunnels, ending the D'Wagurr threat to the Dark Thorn... at least for now.

The Symphony Of Howls
Wrapping Up The Dark Thorn Campaign

So this battle report wraps up my Song of Blades and Heroes mini campaign. Overall, I really like the game system. It moves quite quickly (at least when you actually have the stats balanced as I learned early on...) and it is very easy to learn. There is also a simple campaign system that is included in the basic rules that I didn't use but I can see how to apply them in the future with a few tweaks that would make things more interesting in my opinion.

In the basic system, both sides start out with a certain size warband. You play through one of the scenarios and once you are done the winner can try to recover any minis that were killed in the fight (in the hopes of gaining experience) and both sides can replace any lost models (to represent word of your exploits attracting new warriors). This is all well and good but I prefer more of an attrition campaign like the one that I had started with Matt for Warmachine/Hordes.

For those of you that don't remember how that had been laid out, you start with a total force that you can draw on throughout the entire campaign. For each mission, you can choose up to a set number of points from the total force that you have available. The important thing is that you can choose up to the point limit which gives you some leeway in force composition. Maybe you don't feel like risking too many troops for this battle so you go way under the limit. Maybe you feel this mission is crucial and max it out. The choice is yours! This decision can win or loss you the battle before the dice are even rolled but there are more long term implications as well.

After the scenario is over the winner can try to recover any casualties and then both sides can recruit new troops. Just how many troops depends on how many points you committed to the battle in the first place and also whether you won or lost. The winner can recruit up to the full value of points they used while the loser can only recruit up to half the value of the points they used. As tales of your victories spread across the land, warriors flock to your banner seeking their own share of the fortunes of war. Or if you were not quite so fortunate then you are forced to recruit whoever you can get your hands on, whether they like it or not!

It is good to have some kind of a flow for the campaign in mind. For example, in the Dark Thorn campaign I wanted to recount the first encounters between the Vaghr and the D'Wagurr. I started out with a small scenario to represent two patrols happening upon one another, which built into a larger battle as the two forces took up arms against one another. This then lead up to the final battle with the Vaghr seeking to drive the D'Wagurr back and seal their tunnel into the Dark Thorn. This is a very basic concept but definitely adds to the whole experience. Without this story, it would just be little battle, medium battle, big battle. Now doesn't that sound exciting? *yawn,,,* By putting even some basic story elements onto this rudimentary framework, the whole campaign takes on a new depth and becomes that much more interesting.

All of this can also act as inspiration for the hobby aspect of the game as well as you might want to built new terrain pieces or paint up special models to fit into the campaign. In the case of this campaign, I didn't have any large forest terrain pieces so it gave me some motivation to make some, not to mention building the tunnel entrance itself for the final battle. Of course none of that was necessary. I could have just throw some felt down for trees and plopped a spare base on the board for the tunnel entrance but that just doesn't feel right to me. If I'm going to do something like this, I'd rather take the time to go all the way with it as I think it makes the whole experience that much better.

The Parting Shot...

And that wraps up another issue of the Dispatch. Hopefully you've enjoyed our look at Song of Blades and Heroes and if you feel like checking it out yourself, you can find it on the Ganesha Games homepage. They also have several other genres based on the same core system used in Song of Blade and Heroes so be sure to take a look around at what they have to offer.

As always, thanks for checking out the blog and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to either leave them right here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Until next time...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Audio Noise: Trapped Between Wrong And Right

Hey everyone and welcome to a Trap-tastic issue of Audio Noise!

For this installment, we are going to look at another podcast that has gone the way of the fade but it is definitely still worth giving a listen to. Well, as long as you're not looking for some kind of deep intellectual revelations. They are a little short on those but there is lots of rape and pee. That's right, I'm talking about...

Focus: Various aspects of role-playing games with a healthy dose of insanity thrown in as well.
Audio Quality: four out of five golden mics
Content Quality: four out of five laugh out loud moments with a little less for the rest
Average Length: About an hour
Language: They have a knack for being offensive every episode. Not because they try, it just kinda happens.

The Trapcast. Wow. When I read their first review on iTunes, I almost didn't even bother going on. Then I read the next one, and the next one... After I stopped laughing, I knew I had to give them a try.

Starting out as strictly Dungeons and Dragons players, the whole run of the 'cast follows them branching out into newer games, be they indie or other mainstream titles. This gives them a really interesting perspective as they are really seeing these things for the first time.

Then there is the pee.

Their motto is "The perfect blend of random idiocy and RPG podcasting" and do they live up to it in spades! The RPG topics can definitely be an interesting listen but the pure madness of the rest of their antics really keeps you coming back for more. So much so that I've actually listened to the entire series twice and still had laugh out loud moments.

So if you're looking for a little bit of madness, stirred up with a splash of pee, and handful of RPG goodness... well, then the Trapcast is for you. Just look out for George and his burlap sack, okay?

The Parting Shot

And that wraps up another installment of Audio Noise! Thanks for checking out the blog and as always, if you have any questions or comments feel free to either leave them right here on the blog or you can email me at SinCitySnowman@gmail.com. Until next time...