Wednesday, October 8, 2014

So Long For Now

This blog began years ago under a different name but its always been something that I've tried to keep up with.  Unfortunately as life takes its many twists and turns our priorities start to shift and ultimately some things get left by the wayside.  It seems that the Dispatch and in some ways even gaming itself has become one of those things for me.  I had hoped as my interests shifted away from miniature gaming that I could dive deeper into board game and podcast reviews but... well, I just don't see it ever transpiring as I'd originally planned.

Maybe someday I'll have more to write but until then thanks for reading and may all of your dice come up dragons.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fully Painted Cryx Army For Sale

A few years ago I had thought about selling my Cryx army and even got as far as putting it on eBay.  There were no takers at that time and I was able to get some more use out of them but unfortunately time has come to lighten the load so without further ado... here are some pictures of my Cryx army that will be going up onto eBay within the next few days.

This army is painted and forms a solid core for a Cryx army list.  Included are a Deathjack...

A Slayer and a Seether helljack...

Two Nightrippers, one Nightwretch, and one Defiler.

For commanders there is Iron Lich Asphyxious, Pirate Queen Skarre, and War Witch Deneghra with a skarlock thrall to provide them with some support.

Next are the "meat and potatoes" of the army in the form of mechanithralls supported by brute thralls.

Plus some bile thralls just because they're fun to use.

Finally there are also some supporting troops in the for of a pistol wraith, a necrotech, and some scrap thralls.

These few miniatures pictured here are not the full army of course just a sampling so that people can see how they are painted.  Here is a complete run down of the minis that are included in the army.

Iron Lich Asphyxious
Pirate Queen Skarre
Warwitch Deneghra
1 skarlock thrall
1 Deathjack
1 Slayer
1 Seether
2 Nightrippers
1 Nightwretch
1 Defiler
30 mechanithralls
2 brute thralls
6 bile thralls
1 pistol wraith
1 necrotech
4 scrap thralls

This is 75 points worth of troops and warjacks in addition to the three warcasters and would retail for over $450. In addition to the miniatures, I am also including the Sabol Army Transport trays that they are stored in, bringing the retail total to almost $500.  Once the auction goes live, I will post a link in the blog for anyone who might be interested in throwing their hat in the ring.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

X-Wing: I'm Finally Going To Pull The Trigger

Long, long ago in a city far, far away...

I was really thinking about getting into the game X-Wing from Fantasy Flight Games.  The miniatures are gorgeous, the rules seem solid enough, and it definitely seemed like FFG was looking to support it for quite a while.  Now if only I could find someone to play against...

Being a two player game in a household with three gamers, one of whom is younger and not that into Star Wars, really makes this a hard game to get into.  My wife enjoyed the movies well enough but miniature space combat wasn't really up her alley so ultimately I decided it would be best to pass on this game in spite of its gorgeous miniatures.

Fast forward to the present day in a town far away from there...

FFG announced that they would be releasing a new space miniature game that would be focusing on the capital ships which got me really excited.  As I've been plowing through episodes of the Clone Wars in my spare time (admittedly during the free time that I would normally be blogging...) the thought of recreating some of their fleet engagements had already been brewing in my head.  With FFG hard at work on a game like this it meant that I could just sit back and buy in when it came out instead of scrounging for old minis and trying to figure out what rules to use.  Sounds great, right?

And then I saw the price.

FFG is not known for inexpensive products because they are also not known for cheap products either.  If it's got their name on it more than likely it will amazing but in the case of Armada (the SW capital ship game in question) the $100 price tag seems just a little steep.  Yes, there are a lot of components crammed into that box along with three really nice looking ships but there are only three of them.  If this game is anything like X Wing then you'd need to have two starter boxes giving this one a $200 entry fee and that's without really having much to field on the Rebellion side of things.  So much for getting into that game but it did lead me to the page for the next wave of ships coming in X Wing as the game expands into a third faction with the galaxy's Scum and Villany moving into the spotlight.

Unsurprisingly these minis look amazing but the thing that really makes me what to get into the game is the extra depth this will add.  Rather than just being limited to the Rebel or Imperial ships, this looks like it opens up lots of new scenarios and even campaign ideas for the game and it proves that FFG is willing to dig deeper into the extended universe of Star Wars to continue to develop this game.  Can't wait to see these hit the shelves later this year but it does give me time to set aside some cash so I get jump in with both feet when they are released.  Until next time...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Workbench: VSF Is Dead! Long Live VSF!

After the disaster of attempting to use Sharpe Practice for VSF/Colonial gaming the beginning of last year, I was largely turned off of miniature gaming for the rest of 2013.  I had a few ideas that I kicked around for either alternate rules to try or other rules to try to hack to fit my purpose but nothing really got me inspired enough to do more with it.

Since our move I've gotten back into Warmachine and even tried out some WWII historical miniatures but I still really enjoy the whole VSF setting and I'd love to do more with it.  As it stands I still have a full company of Colonial Brits plus some extra support in the way of my airship and some special power armor troops I'd started bashing together so I don't see this as a project that I'm going to drop just yet.  Luckily I happened to stumble across In Her Majesty's Name by Ospery Wargames and it looks like Sir Reginald Smythe might make it back to the table again in the future.

I haven't had a chance to play these rules yet but I've given it a quick read through and they look really promising.  A huge plus for it is the ability to quickly stat up your own miniatures in addition to playing one of the pregenerated companies included in the book.  This is also a growing ruleset as there are two more official expansions that have been released by Ospery and rules for adding in a Gothic twist are available on their website.  All in all, this looks too be a lot of fun to try out, not to mention pulling together some interesting companies of my own.  Definitely time to start digging through the miniature pile to see what I can come up with.  Until next time...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

TV Review: Star Wars The Clone Wars

When I first saw this series I thought it might be worth checking out though I was a little hesitant.  I had seen the Clone Wars animated movie and regretted it but after much deliberation I decided to give the series a try.

At first I wasn't that impressed.  It wasn't horrible but it really seemed to fall flat.  Not much depth to the stories and just no real connection to the characters.  I was actually going to just write the whole thing off when I talked to someone at work who was also watching the series.  He agreed that the first episodes weren't that good but told me to stick with it because it gets better.  As it happens, he was right.

Not only does this series flesh out the missing years between the second and third abominations (aka Episode two and three) it also adds some depth to the character backgrounds as well.  Palpatine's manipulations of the Republic, Anakin's inevitable fall to the dark side, even Obi Wan's background is fleshed out, not to mention a number of other Jedi who are put into the spotlight along with some of the clone troopers themselves (just because the are genetically the same definitely doesn't make them identical).  Personally I recommend giving this series a try even if you weren't a fan of the prequel trilogy though be warned; the series doesn't start to get some good momentum until about a third of the way through the first season.  Until next time...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Random Update: All's Quiet On The Miniature Front...

I must admit that things have definitely been very quiet around the Dispatch lately.  Not for lack of overall games but more a lack of miniature games.  Unfortunately I had to greatly reduce my terrain collection for our move which included getting rid of the game boards that I had made.  I had hoped to be able to replace them once we arrived but time and finances have largely been against us.

That said I'm hoping to make some headway back towards some of my miniature gaming and painting soon with some inexpensive alternatives.  Currently I'm looking for some fabric to spread out to use as my gaming surface but so far my search isn't turning up many good inexpensive options.  In the meantime I've got a few projects that I'm starting to put together, in particular some "new" miniatures that I've picked up including finally putting more of my Bones Kickstarter to use and some hand me downs from my older brother.  I am also hoping to get in some Malifaux at some point but right now scheduling is making it difficult.  Ah well, one hurdle at a time!  Until next time...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

TV Review: Knights Of Sidonia

Okay, I just finished a binge session of the new anime series Knights of Sidonia on Netflix and I have to say it is definitely worth checking out.

Set on a massive colony ship traveling through deep space, the series follows Nagate Tanikaze as he goes from being a scavenger living in the underworld of Sidonia to one of the elite garde pilots in the military.  The story keeps a very good pace through out and really pulls you in to find out what will happen next.  The animation is top notch and the details are just out of this world.

The only downside to this series is that there are only twelve episodes currently available.  Thankfully a quick search on the web revealed that the second season has already been given the green light so we can expect more intense anime action to be headed our way thanks to Netflix.  Until next time...

Friday, June 20, 2014

Kickstarter: Harbour from Tasty Minstel Games

Just a few days ago Tasty Minstrel Games unleashed their latest endeavor onto Kickstarter and it has already exploded.  Blasting past its meager goal of $15,000 it has already flown past twelve stretch goals and doesn't look like its slowing down any time soon. The crazy thing is this is for a project with a single pledge level, a massive $20.  How is this possible?  Does it level up to the hype that must be driving this thing?  In my opinion, yes.

One of my friends happened to receive a play test copy of Harbour a couple of weeks ago and I was finally able to get in a couple of games.  The game is very straight forward to learn and play but there is definitely a depth to the strategy involved.

The basic concept is that you are trying to be the first player to purchases four buildings on the harbor and have the highest victory point total.  Getting the money for these purchases is done by interacting with the various buildings to acquire goods and then selling them off.  Two things make this simple sounding task much more challenging to accomplish.  The first is that only one player can interact with a building at a time so planning the timing of your strategy can be pretty tricky. And it that wasn't enough of a twist there is also the fact that the market prices are constantly in flux.  Just when you have everything lined up to make that big purchase someone else sells off their stock, flooding the market and driving the price right through the floor.

Personally I definitely recommend checking out this game.  It's a lot of fun to play and between the various characters you can play and the variety of buildings involved in the game there is a lot of replay value with this game as well.  Add on the fact that this one runs a mere $20 and I really don't think you can go wrong with it.  Until next time...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Workbench: Gathering The Troops

About a month and a half ago (that long? really?) I mentioned that I was going to make some proxy Trenchers to field with Magnus.  There was some unexpected training thrown into the middle of all of this so I haven't made a ton of progress but I have been able to get some work done on them.

Apologies for the somewhat washed out photo but I'm working with an iPhone camera with florescent lights.  It still gives you an idea how they are coming out though.  The main problem that I've encountered assembling them has been the left hand.  For some reason they sculpted it so that it rests on top of the rifle as you can see with the trooper on the left which looks pretty awkward.  The guns are quite heavy in the front so how exactly they are supposed to hold these things up to aim is a little bit of a mystery.  I could see some kind of a shoulder strap being used to help brace it but I don't really feel like trying to fashion twenty plus fiddly little straps.

Instead I've started cutting off the left hand at the wrist and flipping it over.  This lets me position the arm so that the hand it under the magazine as you can see on the right.  This puts the gun too high to have it in a firing position but does look a little more natural in my opinion.  Plus is also lets me throw in another pose which is always a good thing.

I'm also pretty happy with how their size compares to regular Warmachine minis.  Here is one of the Trenchers with a mechanithrall to give you an idea.

The proportions do seem to be a bit smaller but overall I think they are close enough to work as a good replacement.  Now I just need to finish converting the rest of the regular troops and figure out how I'm going to represent the grenade porters, sniper, and captain.  The last two should be the easiest ones just by using bits from the original Trencher minis but I'm still debating how to best represent the grenade porters.  I do have some ideas but I need to pick up some bits first to see how they work out but more on that later.  Until next time...

Monday, June 9, 2014

Random Updates: Heading Back To Altair

Back when I was in the third grade I remember reading a choose your own adventure book about exploring a planet around Altair.  I loved that book and I even made some games inspired by it as well (complete with homemade miniatures even!).  Time wore on and as the years passed if faded away to the back of my mind.

A couple of years ago my wife and I happened to talk about choose your adventures and I remembered this book again but the name kept eluding me.  I tried typing in different keywords in Google searches but they always turned up blank.  I had finally given it up as a lost cause... until this weekend.

For some reason the name just popped into my head.  I hopped onto Amazon and found it in their used book section for a penny (gotta love buying used book on Amazon) so I ordered it right away.  Even now it's winging its way toward me and I can't wait to crack it open.

Will it be as good as I remember? I'll find out soon enough but either way it'll be nice to relive that little piece of my childhood again.  Until next time...

Monday, June 2, 2014

Workbench: Expanding The Fleet!

Last week while I was at Greenhouse Games I happened to find the stat card for the Artful Dodger for Firefly the boardgame.  I asked Josh about it and he told me to take it and he would see if he could find the ship piece to go with it.

Long story short, I'll be picking up the ship on board game night at the Greenhouse!  Now I just have to decide how to paint it.  The regular color scheme is pretty basic so I might do something different just to mix it up.  A Jolly Roger scheme comes to mind (since I definitely see the Pirates and Bounty Hunters expansion in my future) but so does a Hello Kitty scheme. This is either the sure sign of brilliance or perhaps just a mild case of sleep deprivation; they are very similar after all.  We'll just have to see what happens in the end.  Until next time...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Audio Noise: Clink! From Earth... With 100 Lasers!

Having listened to the entire run of Decoder Ring Theater (for a second time even!!!) I started looking around for another podcast in the radio play format.  It took me a little bit of digging but I managed to find...

Focus: Various radio play style skits.
Audio Quality: Four and a half clinks.
Content Quality: Four laser fists.
Average Length:Usually about half an hour.
Release Schedule: weekly

Unlike the other podcasts that I've talked about on the Noise, the Thrilling Adventure Hour is an actual Hollywood stage show that also happens to run on iTunes.  If you happen to be in LA on the right day you can even go see the real thing but the rest of us will just have to make due with the podcast.

The show covers several different story lines which all have their own merits but in my opinion Beyond Belief, Spark Nevada, Marshal On Mars, and Captain Laserbeam are the best.  This isn't to say that the other skits that come through are not good but these three are definitely my favorites.  Don't take my word for it though; get over there and check them out yourself!  Until next time...

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Workbench: Painting the Yun Qi for Firefly

A while back I took brush and paint to several of the ship pieces from my Firefly board game. Among the pieces I painted were two of the four Firefly transports and though I had planned on painting the remaining two (one of which is the Serenity itself) I just never got around to doing it.

The first two, the Bonnie Mae and the Bonanza, have pretty well defined paint schemes on their displays which made them easy. Serenity is also pretty easy since she is really quite plain looking compared to the others but the last one left me in something of a quandary.

Called the Yun Qi (Chinese for luck) it is depicted as having your basic hull colors with yellow trim which is one of my least favorite colors to paint. I wanted to do something different but wasn't sure what until recently so without further ado, here is the Yun Qi.

Since red is considered to be a lucky color in Chinese culture, it just seemed to make sense to paint the ship red (and it'll make it go fasta, right?). This also makes the yellow accents fit into this scheme much better and for an extra little touch I painted the character for fortune onto the top of the hull.

Overall I'm really happy with how the Yun Qi turned out. It definitely makes a nice addition to my little fleet of Fireflies. Now I just need to paint the Serenity and get the Artful Dodger and I'll be all set... For a little while at least. Until next time...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Audio Noise: Putting A Little Bance In Your Life!

Even though we moved across country just a couple of months ago, we have been lucky enough to have already made some good friends that love gaming as much as we do.  During a chat with one of them a "local" podcast was mentioned so I decided to check them out and am I ever glad that I did.    So glad in fact that I think its time to...

Focus: Boardgames from ancient days of yore (like the 80's)
Audio Quality: Five 10,000 point questions!
Content Quality: Five balloon tardises.
Average Length: About an hour
Release Schedule: bi weekly

A lot of podcast that I've listened to have started out a little on the rough side but not this one.  Right from episode 1 the audio quality and editing, content, chemistry of the hosts, all of it was right out of the park!  But what exactly is it about?

Unlike other board game podcasts Flip The Table focuses on those games that litter the shelves of your local thrift and Goodwill.  You won't find much about the latest and greatest on BGG but you will find plenty about some "classics" like Heartthrob, Trump the Game, and the All My Children board game.

You might think that listening to an hour about a game like this would be almost painful to bear but the guys at Flip The Table make it interesting.  Their banter keeps the mood light and they also don't just focus on the negative aspects of the games.  Instead they look at what how they felt the game design was flawed and even how to make the game better which gives an interesting perspective on game design.

Once they have finished their review, they end the show with the Battle of Wits between the hosts and these are just a blast to listen to.  Whether they are playing the eBay game, the IMDB game or any thing else that they have dreamed up, it is always good for a laugh.  This is definitely a podcast that I recommend you add to you listening cue ASAP.  Until next time...

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Workbench: Making Proxy Trenchers

Having lost rather badly with Magnus yet again, I oddly enough find myself more drawn toward playing him. The question is how do I make his force more functional? Looking on the War Room app (very useful app for Warmahordes that I really recommend checking out), I saw that Magnus can use Trenchers or Long Gunners in his Most Wanted theme list. That is all well and good but money is tight right now so how can I get them without breaking the bank?  The answer? Hit the internet!

Originally I thought about using some Confrontation Fusiliers for Long Gunners (which I conveniently already have) but I'd really rather have some Trenchers. A quick search oddly enough led me to blog that read in the past, Wee Blokes.

In several articles, he chronicles his own plight of finding proxies for various Cygnar minis, including the Trenchers!  What made it even better is the fact that his solution is not only extremely cost effective but also very easy to duplicate.

A number of years ago, there was a big box starter made for the miniature game Warzone. This set was actually a heck of a deal as it came with eighty plastic miniatures, forty of each side. What's even better is the fact that you can now buy all the minis from Prince August Miniatures for just over $40.  What makes these figures so useful for this project is the design of the Imperial troops.

Looking like something from the British front lines in WW I, they will work very nicely for some stand in Trenchers as ArabianKnight has shown on his excellent blog (definitely recommend checking it out if you haven't already). Sure they're going to take a little work but as I was able to pick up forty of the Trencher minis on eBay for about $18, I'm looking at saving myself about $95 by going this route. Call me crazy... Well, if I'm not yet I probably will be soon enough, right? Until next time...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Warmachine Battle Report: Blaize vs Magnus

A couple of weekends ago we did something a little different for our Warmachine game at the Greenhouse, namely we used proxies!  Lots and lots of proxies.  Well, not really lots but you get the idea.  Josh wanted to check out a list he had built around Constance Blaize, a Morrowan warcaster that can work for Cygnar.  Unfortunately it sounded like she might be somewhat specialized so Josh wanted to try them out before investing his money in them.  He was a little concerned about how they would hold up against a ranged faction so I decided to give the Steelhead Riflemen a try as well.

On Josh's side of the table, he had Constance Blaize (of course) backed up by Arlan Strangeways, her warjack the Galant, and a unit of Precursor Knights with a Captain and standard bearer.

The Proxy-palozza! The Trenchers are standing in for the Precursor Knights, the Chief Mechanic is the Captain of the unit, the gobber is the standard bearer of the unit, Haley is Constance, the journeyman is Strangeways, and the Stormclad is the Galant.
Meanwhile I decided to take a break from Cryx and dusted off Magnus the Traitor backed up by a Mangler, a Renegade, a unit of Steelhead Riflemen and Alten Ashley.  Not a list that I was familiar with but thought it would be fun to give them a try.

The Mercs. On my side not quite as my proxies.  The lucky extras working my side of the table are the bile thralls standing in for the Steelhead rifles and Eiryss standing in for Alten.

Having won the roll, I decided to let Josh be first player.  We quickly deployed our forces and Josh began his lightning advance across the board.


On my side of the board, I had Magnus cast snipe on the rifles to boost their range to 14" while putting iron aggression on the Mangler just because.  Then everybody moved forward and the action went back to Josh.

Josh began moving his knights but made the mistake of only moving half of them before moving on to the Galant.  I did the polite thing and pointed out that technically he had ended the activation of the knights by moving the Galant but told him I was cool with him going back to them.  Told me that it was his mistake and he was cool with leaving them as they were.   There wasn't really much more to do on his side except move up Blaize and Strangeways then it was back to the mercs.

I began shifting my forces forward to get into position for their assault next turn while the Renegade let loose its Obliterator, slamming into the knights on the right side of the board and ripping a number of them apart.  Alten moved up the center followed by the rifles, all of whom let loose a flurry of lead into the other group of knights.  Unfortunately their shield wall proved to be too difficult to penetrate and I was only able to fell one of them.

Josh began his turn charging Alten with precursor knights and quickly cutting him down.

Next he turned his attention to the Mangler on the right side of the board.  Unfortunately the iron aggression that I had hoped to use to charge next turn proved to be my undoing as the presence of spell let the Galant roll an extra die on its damage in addition to its boost.  A couple of attacks from its sword quickly reduced the Mangler to a mangled mess and left me with a quickly crumbling army. Finally, Josh moved Constance up behind the Galant and used her feat which left me in an even more tenuous situation.

With her feat Constance is effectively able to gain a focus point for each Morrowan that dies within her control area which made me more than a little hesitant to open fire on the remaining knights sitting in front of my Steelhead rifles.  While trying to decided what to do with this situation I loaded up the Renegade with focus and charged at Constance... only to fall short as it tromped through the forest.  Argh!!!

With my plan quickly falling apart around me, I had originally moved the rifles into contact with the knights just to act as a roadblock to protect Magnus but after a quick discussion about other possible tactics I decided to have them fall back into a defensive line in the hopes that I might have some survive the upcoming charge.

Even with no extra focus from his feat the previous turn, Josh was able to use the Galant to quickly demolish the Renegade that had attempted to attack Constance.

The assault of the precursor knights came next as they slaughtered two thirds of the rifles that had blocked their way.  To the credit of the Steelheads, the two remaining soldiers still managed to hold their ground in the wake of this carnage though at this point it would be of little help.

Almost out of options as well as troops, I tried to move one of the rifles onto the hill but he was cut down just like his companions leaving a lone rifle with Magnus (who was camping on a full load of focus) facing off against a mostly intact Morrowan army.  My only hope at this point was to hope that the Traitor might somehow survive the upcoming turn about would be able to get to Constance.

As the Precursors took down the last rifle, Constance, the Galant, and the rest of the knights surrounded Magnus and were able to end the battle... but just barely.  Between bad die rolls and all the extra armor Magnus had from his focus he actually almost survived the turn.  Just to satisfy my curiosity, Josh and I played out the next turn as if he had survived and unsurprisingly it would have been all he needed to kill Constance even with the rest of his army gone.

So the day ended with a pretty sound defeat which is not too surprising since I was running Magnus.  I love the miniature and his back story but I just can't get my head around how to play him.  I think that at least part of this is the ranged element that I tend to include with him.  Since my primary faction is Cryx which have a notable lack of any kind of ranged weapons other than sprays, judging distance isn't something that I have had enough practice with.  Still I can see fielding him again in the future, especially if I give him some trencher or long gunner support but that will have to wait for now.  As for Josh's thoughts on Constance... by the end of the day he picked up the actual models for the entire force he fielded so I know I'll be seeing them again in the future.

After our game I just hung out and watch the others play for a bit until I was invited to hop into a Chain of Command game on the other side of the Greenhouse.  Josh's Germans had just defeated Chris' Americans by blasting apart his Sherman tank with a panzerfaust.

Now I have to admit that I thought this game had two strikes against it right off the bat.  1) It is a historical game which is not normally my thing by any stretch of the imagination. 2) It's by TooFatLardies, the creators of Sharp Practice (this is the system that was used for the horrendously bad Big Hunt game I talked about here).  Even so, I found myself intrigued so I decided to give it a try and I have to say that I'm glad I did.

My America troops moving onto the board from the right edge of the board.
We were not able to get in a full game but what we did play I really enjoyed.  The command system used in the game along with the Patrol phase which is used to determine your deployment points were a really interesting to see in action and I can see it offering a lot more depth than you typical miniature wargame.

Chris' Germans on the left side of the board getting pinned by my troops.
In fact I enjoyed this game so much that I've decided to look into picking up some Wargames Factory Soviets in the near future but more on this later.  Until next time...

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Game Review: King of Tokyo Power Up! Expansion

So a few weeks ago I was raving about how great King of Tokyo by iello Games is and its gotta make you wonder what could they possibly do to make it better?  Maybe add something to make the monsters play a little bit differently to add a little flavor to the whole thing?  That my friends is just what Power Up! does.

What's In The Box?
Since Power Up! is just an expansion it comes in a small box of its own.  Cracking it open you'll find the rules (inside the box this time) and a new monster, giving players yet another option in the game (It should be noted that the game still caps out at six players but having a little variety is always a good thing). Even so, the best part of Power Up! is still in the box; the evolution cards... but more on them soon.  Rounding things out are some handy tokens to track a few new special rules and of course a tray liner to keep it all nice and neat.

How Does This Change The Game?
The basic game of King of Tokyo gives you control of a giant monster seeking to dominate Tokyo which is awesome.  The only thing missing is a little bit of pizzazz to make the monsters more individual which is where the evolution cards come into play.

Each of the monsters in the game (including the newly added Pandakai) is given their own set of eight evolution cards in this expansion.  What makes these really cool is all of them are different but each are really in keeping with the individual monster's theme.  For example, the King has the cards Alpha Male and Simian Scamper while Gigazaur has Tail Sweep and Heat Vision.  These all give you minor tweaks to how your monster plays but really adds a nice flavor to each monster.  Sure Cyber Bunny is cool by himself but add on a Lupine Power Blade and an Electric Carrot and he just gets that much better!

To balance things out, the monsters don't start with all their evolution cards.  Instead players need to earn them by rolling at least three hearts on their turn.  These hearts don't need to be used to heal so you can even evolve while you are in Tokyo which is a nice little feature.  Drawing a card also doesn't replace healing so you don't have to agonize about whether you should keep yourself in the game or try to get a little stronger.

There are also a few variants listed in the rules; active evolution (which lets players start with a random evolution from their deck), controlled evolution (which lets players draw two and keep one as they evolve), and evolution draft (which adds a random drafting element to the evolutions). Our personal favorite is to shuffle all the evolutions together, deal out eight to each player and then everyone starts with the top evolution.  This does reduce the amount of theme that the cards bring to the specific monsters but it adds a really fun mechanic to the game and really helps keep it fresh every time we play

How Does It Measure Up?
Personally I think that this expansion really is a must have addition.  King of Tokyo by itself is a lot of fun but adding in the Evolution cards just takes the game to a new level and also might be part of the reason we play it so much. Using the Evolutions keeps the game fresh as it gives all the monsters enough of a tweak to really keep you on your toes and the amount of replay that it adds to the basic considering its cost makes this expansion invaluable.  Then there is the Halloween expansion... but more on that later.  Until next time...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Warmachine Battle Report: Issyria vs. Deneghra

Another Sunday and another game of Warmachine!  Sweet!  This time I paired off against Keith with his purple candy Retribution of Scyrah against the original warwitch herself, Denegra!  On Keith's side of the table he had Issyria in the lead backed up by a Hydra (which is being proxied by the Convergence Cipher), a Phoenix, and a ghost sniper.  Meanwhile I decided to switch things up and dig deep into my Army Transport, unearthing a Seether, a Deathripper, a small unit of bane thralls, and of course a pet Skarlock for Denny.  We decided from the beginning to keep it a friendly game as both of us were trying to get the feel for our units (I've actually only played my banes a couple of times and I've never used them since the switch to Mark II) and even allow pre-measuring!  How's that for living on the edge!!!

I won the roll off and decided to let Keith be first player.  With such small forces and being a casual game it didn't really matter but I still like to see just what I'm facing before I have to deploy.  With that done, we quickly headed into the game!

Most of the Retribution force advanced up the center while the ghost slunk off to the right side of the table and Issyria cast some buffing spells onto her Phoenix (I believe that one of them was Admonition which buffed its armor to 20).

My own troops advanced along the center as well in response though I did have my Seether and Skarlock start sliding over to the right in case I needed to deal with the ghost.  I've never faced one before but usually letting a sniper run around on the flank is a bad idea so I wanted to be ready to deal with him.  I also sent my Deathchicken out in front so I could try to make use of its arc node before it was turned into a 4 point piece of scrap metal (I'm not a fan of its cost in Mark II in case you hadn't guessed). 

Channeling through the node, I was able to hit the Hydra with a corrosive stream of venom which I followed up with crippling grasp (yeah, still gotta work on my timing).  Hmmm... maybe the Chickens are worth it after all...

While this was happening, I moved my Skarlock over to try to cast venom onto the ghost but the dice would have nothing to do with it.  Worried that I'd loose my little pet too early, I decided to give the ghost something else to worry about and run in with the Seether.  I wasn't able to get him into melee but at least it gave him something else to worry about in the meantime.

Next turn, the Retribution continued their steady advance in the center toward my main force and both the Hydra and Phoenix opened fire on the Deathchicken but completely missed it! (Definitely reconsidering my opinion of the Chickens now... Need to try fielding them again soon.)  While this was happening, the ghost quickly fell back to rejoin the rest of the battle group and get away from my heavy 'jack that was looming over him.  As he fled, he let loose a shot at the Seether, causing some structural damage but thankfully nothing else.

As played turn over to me and with his troops nicely positioned, it was time to try to hit his heavies as hard as I could.  Deneghra moved forward slightly and then channeled venom through the Deathchicken again.  This time the stream was able to catch both 'jacks and Issyria in one shot which I followed up with a second venom just for good measure.

Next, the bane thralls charged forward and cleaved their axes into the Phoenix and Hydra.  I was hoping that their dark shroud would lower the 'jacks armor enough that I could do some substantial damage but I was only able to damage their shields.  The Seether went next and followed up on that annoying ghost, squashing him into the dirt!  All in all not a bad turn but I had really been hoping to do a little more damage to the heavies.
On his turn Issyria was quickly moved away from the combat while Keith inched his heavies forward and attacked the closest bane thralls, quickly dispatching their ghostly forms before hacking into the Deathchicken with his Phoenix.  Even with its high defense, the onslaught proved to be too much this time and the Deathripper was reduced to scrap.
Having lost half of my Banes and my Deathripper, I decided to take a chance and commit Deneghra herself to the fray.  I unleashed the withering on the two heavy 'jacks then charged her forward onto the debris of the Deathripper.  She lashed out at the Phoenix in the hopes of taking advantage of its current state with the remaining Banes following her lead but even with this combined assault I wasn't able to finish off the Phoenix (Quick note here... I actually should have killed it but I forgot to take the Dark Shroud armor reduction into account.  Just too many modifiers to keep track of this time).  With both of the Phoenix's arm systems and its cortex still remaining, I bracing myself for the worst and waited for the killing blow to land...
...which amazingly enough didn't happen.  Between average dice rolls, the lingering effect of the withering and Deneghra's high defense, Keith wasn't able to land a single hit on her (Another quick note... Keith had used Issyria's feat this turn but this time it was his turn to forget.  Guess it worked out in the end) though the Hydra did dispatch the two Banes that were harassing it.
On my turn, I took full advantage of my ridiculous luck from the previous turn.  The Seether took advantage of its position behind the fray in the center of the field and charged the Phoenix, ripping into the back of the myrmidon and finally destroying it.

With the Phoenix gone, I moved Deneghra around the side of the Seether and hit Issyria with venom but was only able to wound her.  The Skarlock then followed her lead as he moved in and did the same but at the end of the turn she was still alive.

With his forces rapidly disappearing, Keith tried to attack the Seether his Hydra but between damage it had sustained earlier and the crippling grasp that had been in place from the beginning of the game it wasn't able to damage it.

With the end in sight, the Seether tore into the Hydra and was able to finally destroy it which left Issyria open for Deneghra to land the killing blows.

Definitely a good game even with the mistakes that Keith and I made but it was meant to be a friendly game.  We talked some afterward about his force selection since this was his first time fielding the Retribution and we both saw some potential directions to move in for expanding his force.  In particular Issyria's feat gives her entire army truesight and lets them all roll and extra die on their attacks, choosing the best to use.  With its current build there's not a lot that can benefit from this but if he added in some of the riflemen that feat would become quite a bit more devastating.  It will definitely be interesting to see how it develops in the future and it was also a learning game for me as well.  Maybe the Deathrippers really are worth four points after all...  Until next time...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Warmachine Battle Report: Karchev vs. Asphyxious

After about a five year hiatus it looks like I'm finally returning to Warmachine!  This past weekend I played in a 20 point match between Khador and my old stand by Cryx.  On the other side of the table Matt fielded Kommander Karchev backed up by the Behemoth, a Juggernaut, and a full unit of Mechaniks while I had good old Gaspy (aka Iron Lich Asphyxious) and his pet Scarlock with the Deathjack (of course), a Seether, and a small unit of Mechanithralls.

Our board was your basic forest on either side with a hill in the middle.  Nothing too fancy but it was enough to push us right at each other from the start which guaranteed the bloodshed would commence quickly.  In fact we were engaged and trading blows within just a couple of turns.

Matt tried to get first blood by lobbing mortar shells from the Behemoth at my Skarlock but thankfully the cover of the trees saved him.  Another volley flew off toward my McThralls but fell short, peppering them with debris but little else.

Things went slightly more in my favor as the McThralls charged up to Karchev and one of them managed to pound him with a double steam fist slam, rocking him and more importantly actually inflicting damage!  The Seether tried to keep my momentum going as it charged the Juggernaut but failed to actually connect.  Argh!!!  It was then that I realized I'd mistimed things as I didn't have the Skarlock cast Parasite onto Karchev before the McThralls did their thing so went for the next best target; the Juggernaut.  With its armor weakened, the Deathjack thundered toward it and tore into its weakened armor, nearly reducing the 'jack to a pile of scrap by the time it was done.

Surprised by how potent the Deathjack was, Matt had the Behemoth charge the Seether but through a whole lot of luck he was only able to destroy one of the arms.  On the other side of the battle, Karchev responded to the impudent McThrall that wounded him by squishing him like a bug.  He then continued his assault against them, quickly annihilating all but one of them.  Behind the scenes, the mechaniks ran forward to try to repair the damage to Karchev and the Juggernaut but thanks to the excessive amount of vodka they'd had before the battle they weren't even able to hold their wrenches properly.

Sensing that the tide of battle could shift against me any second (and that the store owner might kick us out so he could go home), I decided to go for the Cryx suicide run for victory.  The damaged Seether raked his remaining death claw across the armored shell of the Behemoth but was barely able to scratch the paint.  Meanwhile, the Skarlock skirted the back of the massive skirmish and cast Parasite again, this time on Karchev himself.  Next, the Deathjack pivoted around the shambling but still dangerous Juggernaut and was able to rip into Karchev but in the end the man machine was still standing.  Finally Gaspy launched himself forward and tore into Karchev with Soul Splitter again and again until he collapsed to the ground in a crumpled heap.

Overall it was a lot of fun even though there were some tactical and timing mistakes that I'd made during the first half of the game.  It was also good to get in a friendly game instead of having to push for a win to advance in a tournament.  An added plus for me is that the crowd at the store is just getting into Warmachine so it will give me a good chance to ease my way back into the game.  Heck, I couldn't even remember what I was supposed to roll to cast a spell in this game so I definitely need some training wheels while I get my head wrapped around the rules again.  And next time I'll make sure I bring the camera so I can get more pictures of the action as it happens.  Until next time...

Monday, March 17, 2014

Movie Review: 300: Rise Of An Empire

This weekend my wife and I went to see 300: Rise Of An Empire.  Neither of us had seen the original 300 so we weren't sure what to expect but the description sounded promising so we decided to give it a shot.  Overall it was pretty good but in some spots it just tried too hard.

Without giving things away (and without seeing the first movie) it seems like Rise Of An Empire begins with the events that lead up to and follow the last stand of King Leonidas.  Overall it was a pretty good movie and we enjoyed it except for a couple of things.

1) The big one for me was at times it felt like the 3d aspect was being pushed too hard.  As I wear glasses we had opted for the regular 2d version of the movie but it was still quite obvious which bits were meant to "showcase" the 3d and a lot of them seemed a little forced.  Okay, I get that its the new viewing experience but at least try to make it fit into the flow of the picture.

2) At times the slow motion scenes were really... rreeaalllyy... rrreeeaaallllyyy... common.  At first it was like "And now its time for more slo mo... yay..." but talking with my wife afterward she made the point that maybe they were trying to capture the soldier's perspective.  In the heat of battle with the adrenaline pumping things can almost seem to slow down.  Not that I've been in battle but she did touch on our own experience during a car accident and how thinking back to it things seemed to move slower.  Looking at it that way it made more sense but in the moment it seemed a little repetitive.

Other than these particular things we both enjoyed Rise Of An Empire even without knowing the story of the first movie.  It felt like they touched on the most important aspects of it in the natural flow of the story so we weren't left wondering what they were talking about.  Is it a must see?  No but it definitely felt like it was worth the price of admission which is saying something nowadays.  Until next time...

Friday, March 14, 2014

Game Review: King of Tokyo

Things are finally settling down in our new temporary abode so its time for another game review!  Yes, its finally time to review the game that has dominated our table ever since we first played it, iello's King Of Tokyo.

What's In The Box?
When I opened the box, the first thing I noticed was no instructions... because they were attached to the outside of the box.  Full color and very well laid out, they do a very good job breaking down the game step by step.  They also have a brief glossary and overview of some of the somewhat questionable cards you can bring into play throughout the game which is very handy and to me shows that they put this game through its paces before releasing it to the masses

There is also a small but very colorful board that also has some handy in game reminders, a set of eight special dice, a deck of power ups you can purchase in the game, energy cubes (no they're not candy!!!), a number of pre-punched counters, boards to track each monster and a cardboard figure for each.  All of these are full illustrated and really help to capture the giant monster feel.

As a nice little plus, the box also comes with a tray liner that lets you keep everything nice and neat in the box between plays.  Overall, just great looking components and presentation.

How Do You Win?
Winning the game is elegantly handled and one of the things that I really love about the game.  There are two ways to do it.  You can either be the first monster to earn 20 Victory Points or you can be the last monster standing.  Why do I love this?  More on that later.

How Do You Play?
The basic mechanic of the game is similar to Yahtzee.  You roll six dice up to three times looking for different sets and combinations.  The difference is that in addition to the numbers one, two, and three the dice have a claw, heart and lightning bolt.  So what does it all mean? Let me explain.

As I mentioned before, one of the ways to win is by scoring 20 VPs and you can do this with the dice by rolling sets of three or more ones, twos, or threes.  The set of three is worth the number rolled (so three 2's are worth 2 points) and each additional number increases that by one point (so five 2's would be worth 4 points).

The other symbols work slightly differently.  Each claw that you roll will do a point of damage to the other monsters, while each lightning bolt earns you an energy cube and each heart will heal a point of damage.  None of these need to be rolled in sets and there isn't a bonus it you do (so one claw does 1 point of damage and five claws do 5 points).

Once you have rolled your dice, its time to resolve what's happened.  Damage is applied, healing is done and point are earned according to the final outcome on your dice and depending on whether you are in Tokyo or not.  At the start of the game there are no monsters in Tokyo but as soon as one of the monsters resolves at least one claw that monster will move into the city.  This is an ideal situation in some regards since you are trying to become the King of Tokyo after all and does have its perks, but there are some slight drawbacks as well.

One of the perks is you earn extra VPs every turn starting when you first move into the city.  The turn you move in you earn 1 VP and every turn you begin in Tokyo you earn another 2 VPs.  You also damage all of the other monsters when you attack; roll two claws and everyone takes two damage, roll five and they all take five.  Sounds pretty good, right?  The downside is that you can not use any hearts that you roll to heal yourself and if any of the other monsters roll any claws they are coming right at you.

The good news is that you can yield Tokyo after you are attacked (after you take the damage of course) to get yourself out of the cross hairs for a little while.  As soon as you do this, you move your monster out of the city and move whoever just attacked you in.  Unfortunately this means that your opponent will immediately earn 1 VP and then earn more at the beginning of their next turn (assuming they are still there) but sometimes you just have to step back and lick your wounds.  While outside of Tokyo, you can heal one point of damage for each heart rolled and any claws you roll are applied to whoever is currently in Tokyo but no one else.

So what about those energy cubes that have been piling up?  Those are used in the next phase of the game to buy special cards to power up your monster.  Some of them have a permanent effect for the rest of the game while others are played immediately but almost all of them can give you some kind of edge in the game.  This is also where those extra two dice come into play as there are specific cards that you can buy that will let you roll an extra die (or two if you've greedy!) during your turn.

How Does It Measure Up?
I can honestly say that right now this is my family's absolute favorite game to play.  With 32 plays in less than a year, this game has blown all of the other games in our collection out of the water but the question is why?  There are several things that really make it stick out for me.

The mechanics are very straightforward (after all, who hasn't played Yahtzee before?) but the theme gives the game a really enjoyable twist.  The artwork is also very well done with a fun cartoon quality to it and the monsters are diverse enough that there's going to be something for anyone.

Above all this one of the things that I really enjoy is the built in timer that is inherent with the mechanics.  As soon as someone rolls a claw, they are going into Tokyo whether they like it or not and the race is on!  Leave your opponent in there too long and they'll quickly reach 20 VPs and steal the game but be careful of getting yourself sucked into the spotlight as everyone else will now be gunning for you.  This really keeps the game from going too long but it isn't so rushed that it feels forced.  A great little balancing act that not many games are able to pull off so well.

This is one game that I am very glad we added to our collection and I definitely recommend giving it a try.  There are also two expansions which add even more to the game... but more on those later.  Until next time...

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Exodus Is Nearly Complete

Way, way, way back in my 2013 Year In Review, I mentioned Moving Day but never actually said just what it was.  Well as it so happens Moving Day has been and gone... kind of.  The Snowman family is currently relocating from Sin City to the sunny state of Maine!

So what does this have to do with the blog?  Well, it should explain why there has been no activity around here since the beginning of the year.  Packing up a house takes a loooooong time.  On the plus side, a friend of mine from high school is still in Maine so there might be a little more to write about such as Infinity, Song of Blades, Malifaux, and even a return to Warmachine!

So the long and the short of it, there will be more coming soon so don't go too far!  Until next time...

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Snowman's 2013 Year In Review!!!

And so another year has drawn to a close but just how did it stack up to the previous?

Drowning In A Sea Of Unpainted Miniatures...
Total miniatures bought: 250+
Total miniatures painted: 35
Terrain pieces built: 2

Unfortunately 2013 proved to be something of a dud for me in the miniatures department.  While the total number of minis I bought might look impressive at first glance, the number is only so high because my Reaper Kickstarter came through... though I only painted a grand total of one miniature from that massive collection.  In fact the only reasons I made any progress in the painting department was due to my VSF colonial army (a project that I only managed to half complete) and my Malifaux Guild crews (though I still need to make some time to work on Lady J in the near future).

But Flooded With More Gaming.
Total games played: 107

In sharp contrast to my miniatures progress this year, my games played greatly increased to almost half again my plays for 2012.  A huge factor in this was discovering what we thought was an FLGS though it quickly became apparent that F had nothing to do with friendly.  Even so we meet some good people there and played some great games as well but this still leaves the question of which games hit the table the most?

Rounding out the bottom of our top five game list at four plays a piece we had a four way tie between Betrayal at the House on the Hill, Gloom, Quicksand, and Star Wars: X-Wing.  Of these four I have to say that I think the best would have to be Gloom.  Every time we played it we had a blast telling the story of our poor family and all the terrible mishaps that befall them.  I had high hopes for X-Wing (mostly because those miniatures look amazing!!!) but after trying it out I decided to give it a pass for now.

Coming in at five games a piece was Cargo Noir and Temple Run: Speed Sprint Card Game.  Yeah, you actually read that right.  Cargo Noir is a great game from Days of Wonder with beautiful components and fun player interactions while the Temple Run thing... yeah, not so much.  As a goofy filler game/gag gift I'll admit that Temple Run was better than I expected but it hasn't seen the table for months now.

Sitting pretty as our third game with six plays this year is Dino Dice by Steve Jackson Games.  A fun little press your luck game this is a perfect one to grab a take with you.  In fact now that I think about it I might just throw this one in the car so we'll have it on hand in case we need something to kill some time.

Coming in at number two with a massive thirteen plays this year is The Resistance by Indie Boards and Cards (you can find my review of this game here).  This is a great game that we have thoroughly enjoyed though we have never tried using the plot cards.  We'll have to see about throwing those in sometime soon to see how they change the game.

And last but not least, our number one game for 2013 blew all of the others out of the water with an astounding twenty four plays since we picked it up back October is...  King of Tokyo!!!  This game is amazing in my opinion and I'll be putting up a review of it next week to sing its praises and explain why this instantly became our go to game.

One Big Roller Coaster Of A Year

This year has been one of major swings for better and worse here in Snowman's Land.  We were able to find an FLGS early in the year... only to find out that it actually wasn't quite as friendly as we had originally thought.  I was finally able to take part in my friend's Big Hunt Colonial game which I have been looking forward to since I first heard of it literally several years ago...  only to be completely disappointed by how incredibly painful a grind it turned out to be.  Then again through it all we did manage to have some fun and meet some good people, plus we were able to get the family around the table more often which is a definite plus in my mind.  Then again things are about to change in a big way here in Snowman's Land.  Moving Day is coming... but more on that later.  Until next time...