Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Pure Shall Survive

Doesn't it figure?  SpacerGal comes back and then I disappear for a bit!  It looks like things should be back on track for me now as well so without further ado its time to get to that post-apocalyptic goodness that I'd alluded to earlier and what better system than Mutants and Death Ray Guns by Ganesha Games.  For my first party I decided to make a Purist party using the construction rules that Ganesha recently released. I happen to have some Dark Age Forsaken miniatures that will work out very nicely for this so without further ago I started crunching the numbers. For those of you who might not know, the Purists are just what they sound like; humans devoted to continuing the human species as it has always been, without mutation. Fanatically devoted to cleansing the world of those they deem impure, the Purists are will to work along side androids and robots as these have not been touched by the corrupting force of mutation. Sound like a fun bunch, right?

First and foremost in the warband is Saint Mark, hero of the Ranks of the Pure.

The heroic Saint Mark (Dark Age Forsaken mini of the same name)

Now I don't normally like copying the miniature names but in the case of Saint Mark it just seems to make sense. He's obviously better equipped than the rest of the Forsaken minis I have and I kind of like the idea of the leader of the Purists calling himself a Saint. In this case he is also going to be a major points sink as he is one of the most potent members of the party as well. He is a hero which guarantees that he will have an automatic success on his quality rolls and he is equipped with a powered hand weapon, a laser gun, and heavy armor. This should make him very durable, not to mention that his ability to deal out some serious damage as well! I had also toyed with the idea of also making him a champion as well but that would have driven his points right through the roof so I decided to just make him a hero.  Hopefully between his high combat and armor he will be durable enough as is to last through the campaign though only time will tell.

Next in the warband is Saint Mark's loyal attendant, the Acolyte Rebecca.

No picture as I'm not happy with her paint job yet (Dark Age Forsaken Reaver mini)

Unlike Saint Mark she does not have any ranged weapons as she specializes in close combat.  In addition to being the champion in the party she is also a hand to hand specialist.  This makes her very potent in close combat but leaves her vulnerable to ranged attacks.  In an attempt to mitigate this she also has a force field to give her some protection.
Finally are the three who make up the bulk of the party, the Enforcers Jacob and Delilah who are lead by the Enforcer Gabriel.

Enforcer Leader Gabriel  with Enforcer Jacob and Delilah (Dark Age Forsaken Coil minis)

All three of the Enforcers are hand to hand specialists and are equipped with the frenzy combat drug.  This makes them very potent in close combat though it does leave them potentially vulnerable to ranged attacks.

This leaves the warband with three more available equipment choices which I'm going to use to get a bunch of food and energy cells (eighteen of the former and nine of the later to be specific) which will be distributed evenly though the warband. All told this rounds out the party nicely at 291 points and all the food and e-cells should make them very survivable for campaign play as they won't have to worry about scrounging up more of the essentials right off the bat.

Don't these just sound like a bunch of fun loving individuals that you'd want to invite to your next family picnic? Yeah, didn't think so. Of course the game wouldn't be any fun if the Ranks of the Pure didn't have someone to "cleanse" so next time we'll take a look at the motley band of survivors that I managed to cobble together. Until next time...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back With a Vengeance

Ground control to SpacerGal your circuit's dead, is something wrong? Can you hear me SpacerGal? Can you here me SpacerGal?! Here, I've been floating 'round my tin can, far above the world. But, I'm back, rock references in full force, bringing you a roleplaying update, a big boy game review, AND a Child at Heart review! I figure I've been gone for far too long, so why not come back with a bang? So without further ado, let's get things started!

Saurian Insanity

So, as the Snowman mentioned, the addition of the Saurian druid variant in Pathfinder's Ultimate Magic book really made me want to step out from behind the screen and be a PC again. The concept was a little bit more Land of the Lost than Conan, with me never speaking English while in character. Instead, whenever using first-person dialogue, I plan to use the (ready for this under-rated reference point?) Star Fox Adventures saurian language spoken by all the dinosaur planet inhabitants during cut-scenes. Pretty crazy, right? But hey, that's how I do, getting wacky for experimentation's sake. As far as settings go, the Snowman and I have been collaborating on both a high- and low-fantasy versions of dinosaur inhabited worlds for characters to explore. Full write-up on that to come once we finish fleshing it out in it's entirity.

Returning to Raccoon City...

I was down at one of the local game shops lately and stumbled across the Resident Evil Deckbuilding Game. I still had some fun money, and the box has my main RE squeeze on it, so we picked it up and gave it a whirl. Turns out, Bandai and Capcom have turned out a pretty great, fast-paced, (kinda) balanced DBG that I think can definitely stand up with the other big boys coming out this year from Fantasy Flight.

Look at Leon Kennedy all silly with his bangs all around. Yay!

Normally, with a game in a genre getting as crowded as the deckbuilding genre, I'd make a comparison to another game, but I've never actually played Dominion, or Thunderstone, or any of the other hyped up titles. Being my first encounter with a DBG, I didn't fully know what to expect other than a slightly "different experience with each game." So let's dig in and see what makes this game stand out in my collection.

First off, this game is easy to learn, and easy to play. Obviously there are certain strategies to it, what to buy for your deck and when, but overall, anyone can play this game, and I think that's nice. I have a ton of friends who aren't tabletop gamers, but would give this a try simply because of the franchise, and they wouldn't be lost or confused. Every turn, you get an Action, Buy, and Explore to use, and can earn more depending on what cards you play. Actions are used to gain extra damage, draw extra cards, score more Buys, and other cool effects. Buys are pretty obviously when you spend money to add a card to your discard pile, which shuffles and resets as your deck every time you run out of cards. Exploring lets you hunt zombies to kill and score points, but don't get too hasty to score, because if you can't kill the random zombie that flips from the top of the Mansion deck, you'll end up with damage, and that can mean loss of turns, or even the whole game.

We most often play Mercenary mode, one of the three different game modes provided in the rules. It's the fastest played and the least based on stalling and grinding up a ridiculous deck, plus all the characters are more unique, in that they get specific staring decks instead of the stock one used in Versus and Story modes. In Mercenary, you have 15 rounds to score as many points worth of dead zombies as possible, giving it a rapid-fire arcade type feel. It also removes the three super-huge zombies from the Mansion deck, so you don't have to be worried about being one-shot. In Story, the first player to kill the one copy of the biggest infected monstrosity wins. With him coming up at random, and being ludicrously powerful, it can be a frustrating game when you get blasted for 70 damage out of your 80 health on turn 2, but the duration means you can spend more time fine-tuning and customizing your deck. Versus is just what it sound like. Instead of using your Explore action to fight zombies, you shoot at other players, aiming to be the last one standing. With how powerful some of the character abilities are, it seems this mode can get unbalanced really fast, but it is a fun little diversion if you feel like really mixing things up a bit. No matter what game mode you are playing, you use a Scenario to determine what cards will be used. There are certain basic resources that are always there, which are the Knife, Pistol, Green Herb, and three levels of ammunition/gold. The Scenarios add 12 more cards to the available purchasable pools, called resources, and they are usually themed. For example, the Special Forces uses a lot of higher-powered specialty weapons and bonus ammo and damage actions, whereas Mobility uses less super guns and more actions that draw cards and add to your deck. This added variety on top of three included game modes makes Resident Evil remarkably replayable, and a blast for anyone into zombies, the RE franchise, card games, or fun.

I Wanna Be the Very Best

Pokemon. I love it. Look at me however you want with those judging eyes, but this 24-year-old is all about Pokemon in whatever form she can get it. Video games, plushes, figures, and of course, the card game, which is what we're here to talk about. Having not played the card game since my middle-school years, I figured I'd pick up some new theme decks and give it a whirl. Needless to say, I still find it as fun as I used to, but I do have some criticism for it.

Two new theme decks from a brand new set, featuring Krookodile and Scolipede. I'm positive you can figure out which is which.

One of the first major things I noticed when in the store was the sheer size of the deck box. I thought, this thing is huge for just housing a 60-card starter deck. But when I got home and cracked it open, I discovered that it didn't just have a deck of cards in a huge plastic insert. Take a look at this craziness!
That's a deck, a sheet of surprising decent quality damage and status counters, a set checklist in poster format, that giant two-player starter mat everything is sitting on top of which has the rules printed on the back, a 16-character code card that unlocks the deck for online play on the Pokemon TCG website (more on that later), a shiny little coin for all the coin-flip effects in this game and my favorite part, the thing I think should come with EVERY boxed card game product......Oh em gee, a deck box. Cardboard yes, but still, a nifty deck box themed to the deck to hold your new cards in when not using them. I could kiss whoever thought to include these in the marketing department. Now that I've gone over what you get in the box, let's actually look at playing some Pokemon TCG.

The rules to the game are simple. At the start of the game you put out a basic pokemon as your "active" pokemon and may place as many additional basic pokemon as you like in your "bench" area as "bench pokemon." If your active is defeated, one of these is chosen to step up and replace it. After you've got your pokemon out, you take the top six cards of the deck and set them aside as "prize cards." For each pokemon of your opponent's you defeat, you pick up a prize card. Pick up all six and you win! Each pokemon has at least one attack printed on it to start walloping your opponent. These attacks require energy cards to use, and you can only attach one energy per turn, much like lands in magic. Think your active pokemon is going to get dropped in one more attack? Maybe you should attach the energy to something on your bench so it can come in powered up, or do you take the risk and build your active up further in the hopes of riding it out? Energy management can make a huge differences in these games. Also, you can evolve one pokemon per turn by placing a higher stage version of it on the basic form. For example, that Scolipede up there is a stage 2 pokemon, so I'd have to have his stage 1 out in order to put him into play. And in order to get to the stage 1, I'd need the Basic pokemon that the stage 1 comes from. This keeps the game from slamming out too fast, but I did notice that, with a handful of exceptions, the first person to get out the big stage 2 beasties tends to sweep from that point on. We did have several games in which a player stabilized and managed to turn it around, but in general, big guy first usually means the win. In addition to pokemon and energy cards, there are Trainer cards, things that function like sorceries and instants in Magic, one-shot abilities that help you draw more cards, or search for things you need, or even heal your pokemon. From what I've seen, these are what REALLY make or break the game. A well placed extra draw or hand replacement can change everything in a heart-beat, and while all decks have access to them, it makes it feel like a very luck-based game now that I'm older and more versed in card gaming.

So, all in all, the game is still a blast, but the fact that almost the entire game is hanging on who scores the better draw can get a little frustrating. I've been reading up on the super-competitive aspects of the game, and it's almost all dependent on accelerating draw, so even above the casual level it's a pretty luck-based game. If you're looking for something light, or have someone in your life who loves pokemon, it's at least worth a look with a couple theme decks.

Oh! That's right, the online thing! This is a really cool new thing implemented in the last couple months, and I think it's a fun way to get more bang for your buck out of card gaming. When you sign up on the website, they give you three basic decks to play with that can't be modified. There are currently several different NPC challengers to play against, and if you're really feeling daring you can play against other live players. The new theme decks all have codes in them to add them to your digital collection, and with the deck-builder system currently in beta, it won't be long before you can use fully customized decks to play computers and challengers alike online. yeah, Magic's had MtGO for a long time, but it's nice to have my physical collection digitized without having to rebuy digital copies.

Last Transmission

Ah, it feels good to be back. I hope you all enjoyed my giant return as much as I have, and from now on I'll try to keep my Warp-wandering to a minimum. Next week's post is up in the air subject wise, but as always, you can expect something kiddie and something random. Oh that's right! I'm running a Beyblade tournament at the North 5th Street Toys 'R Us this Saturday, so if you're in the North Las Vegas area, come check it out. Who knows, maybe you'll even make it into the Dispatch!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Song Of Blades And... Death Rays?

Recently Ganesha Games announced that they are working on some changes for their game Mutants And Death Ray Guns (or MDRG for short), a post-apocalyptic miniature game that uses the Song Of Blades system. The game currently uses a random system to generate your warband. You choose the basic types (human, mutant, mutant plant, etc.) but any skill, mutations, and equipment are all rolled randomly. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it really captures the post-apoc "scrounging to survive" kind of feel but with my own WYSIWYG background with 40k I have stayed away from this particular rule set.

Now they have announced that they are working on some construction rules for MDRG so I decided it was time to check it out. From first impressions it looks pretty interesting and the random nature actually doesn't look like it would really cause that much of a problem as few of them are so extreme as to require some vast alterations. Don't get me wrong; I still like the idea of being able to choose just what I'm going to use but I can see doing a random campaign over a couple of evenings just for kicks to see how it plays out. But more on that later...

As for the rules as written in the book they look pretty good. The game includes a simple campaign system that lets you add some flavor to your games instead of just fighting random battles. I can also see ways to expand it using a simple map to track territories that you control and potentially collect resources from which would add an interesting element in my opinion. Gonna have to start working on that 'cause it sounds like a lot of fun....

Overall, I like what I see so far. I haven't given the game a test drive to see just how it all fits together but as the Song Of Blades system is a pretty sound one I can't see there being much wrong with this one. Now I just need to put it through its paces which means more battle reports soon! Until then...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

"In a way, Batman, this was the site of your first great failure."

As I continue my quest to watch some of the movies on my Netflix streaming queue, I decided to go with one that I'd heard was good but never watch. Let me tell you I'm glad I made the time.

Batman: Under the Red Hood is definitely not your afternoon cartoon fare. Starting with a beating and heading full steam into a bag full of heads, this movie is a grim portrayal of the Dark Knight which makes it pretty awesome in my book. The plot weaves around as Batman tries to deal with the latest crime lord of Gotham. I'll admit that the identity of the main villain isn't much of a surprise but it was definitely fun to watch the story play out. If you haven't watched this movie yet and you are a superhero fan, I definitely recommend checking it out.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Force Is Strong In This One

Now who doesn't know that line, right? It turns out that Fantasy Flight Games is very familiar with it as they are currently working on two different Star Wars games. First up is the Star Wars LCG.

Following their fine tradition, FFG has made this an LCG instead of a CCG. For those of you who might not know the difference, a CCG is a collectible game so each booster you buy contains a random selection of cards. Some of the cards are more common than others so it can quickly degenerate into buying tons of packs just to try to find one card or spending a ton of money to buy it on eBay. An LCG is different though as each set contains a set selection of cards. If you and a friend each buy a set you will both have exactly the same selection of cards to choose from. Personally I prefer the later as I've seen the former turn a group of mild mannered gamers into a ravening horde. Not pretty, let me tell you...

In this case, the Star Wars LCG will focus on the original three movies as it pits the Rebel Alliance (that would be you) against the evil Empire. There is not that much information available about it yet but it does look like it could be interesting. Plus its meant for 1 to 4 players which gives you tons of options. We'll definitely have to take a look at this one when more information is available though I have to say that it already has me intrigue.

The second game is X-Wing which is a game of starfighter vs starfighter combat in the Star Wars universe.

From what I've dug up it uses mechanics similar to the WW I dog fighting game Wings Of War at the heart of it. I've never played Wings but I've heard good things about it so that bodes well for the game in my opinion. The starter box also comes with "stunningly detailed and painted miniatures" which is another huge plus. I mean really what Star Wars fan wouldn't want something like that even if they never played the game? The one thing that really makes me wonder at this point is just how many of each ship they are going to include. The X-Wing is markedly better than the TIE fighter so you really couldn't field one against one and have an even battle. Unfortunately this bit of information is has not been released yet so all we can do is wait and see.

What's more is these are only the first two releases that FFG is looking to do. No details yet but their site says that they will be announcing more Star Wars card, role playing, and miniature games in the coming months. Looks like another one that we'll have to keep our eyes on.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Finding The Path To The Painted

A few months ago Paizo Publishing announced that they were going to be working with Wiz-Kids to release a set of four pre-painted player character minis for their new Beginner Box set. Well yesterday they announced the full line of 40 different pre-paints that will be available in their new Heros and Monsters set. Among the 40 minis will be a mix of large, medium, and small creatures that should cover the basics that you would need for a solid RPG mini collection.

The bad news is that they are being done as a blind purchase instead of open package so you won't know what you've gotten until you have it open. The price point is also a little high in my opinion with the large booster (containing 1 large base critter) running $5.99 and the standard booster (containing either 1 medium base or 2 small base critters) running $3.99. No these are not horrible prices but for a blind purchase it seems a little steep to me.

Hold your horses though as the doom and gloom don't have to carry the day. The initial set only includes 40 different minis and by Paizo's estimation you should be able to get almost the whole collection if you buy one of the factory sealed cases. Yes this will run you about $275 but when you consider that includes 12 large base monsters which would normally cost more than the $6 price point the random booster has I'm inclined to think that it starts to balance out. For those who say "but I want a horde of goblins not just one" Paizo has an answer to that call as well as they are planning to release Encounter Packs which will not be random. They haven't said officially but I'm assuming that these will feature the more common critters that people would want to have en masse (such as orcs, goblins, etc., etc.) so you don't have to buy a ton of cases to get a handful of goblins. There is no price point for these yet but they should average about six figures in each Encounter Pack.

In addition to all of this, Paizo posted a FAQ that explains their reasoning behind doing the random route from a business perspective and it honestly makes sense. This doesn't make it cost any less but I can understand why they are doing what they are and I can respect that kind of open communication from a company.

So what's the final verdict? Well based on what I've seen so far I think that these are a good option for whatever RPG game you might be playing. The examples that they've shown look nicely sculpted and painted, plus it sounds like it will be a nice entry point for those looking to get a good assortment of RPG minis for the first time. Add in the Encounters Packs and I see a huge potential for building up a good selection of minis for a fairly reasonable price.