Thursday, July 17, 2014

Warmachine Tactics


It's been a while since I posted to the blog, due mostly to work schedules overall. I've still been playing a bit of WWX here and there, and recently got into Relic Knights. That said, I figured this blog post would be a bit simpler and focus on another kickstarter game I am involved in.

I kickstarted Warmachine Tactics, the Warmachine video game. Through the kickstarter I was able to get access to the Early Access Beta which released a couple weeks ago on Steam. Overall I am pretty impressed. Initially the Beta launched with just Multiplayer Kador vs Cygnar, but has since expanded to both a basic single player mission (using Cygnar) and to include Cygnar, Khador, Menoth, and Cryx in the multiplayer. It runs smoothly on my Mac desktop and I have been getting framerates of 12 - 17 FPS in most games.

Here are a couple screenshots from my games:

Mentoh v Menoth Fire Effects

  
Cryx v Cygnar Infantry Melee
Khador v Khador - Fog of War

And here is a full screenshot of the current Early Access UI. This was taken on the "new" Trenches board that was released during the 7/15 update. In it you can see the UI active with my caster selected.
Getting ready to Feat with my Caster

The UI is being improved a bit with each patch, but overall I am pretty happy with where it is now. It's very functional and easy to read. Here is another screenshot with a ranged unit getting ready to shoot.
Getting ready to Shoot with my Jack
And lastly, here is a shot of a Cryx heavy jack beating up my Cygnar light jack.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Traveling and Painting

Howdy readers! I was going to do a quick post and show on some of my newly painted WWX models today but then thought there might be something more I could write about. I got the new models painted while I was on some recent business travel and it occurred to me that might make a somewhat interesting article.

I travel a lot. I travel in some way approximately twice a month for business and that travel takes me all over the US. My customer has offices spread across the US and strongly believes in telecommuting for their employees. This means I am best served by heading to their local areas for meetings, which they find flattering and helps me in business as a whole. Add in that my corporate office used to be in Manahattan NYC, and has now moved out to northern NJ. When you consider all of this, think about the fact that I am located just outside Washington DC, just a short drive away from Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia. That all adds up to a lot of travel.

This is a good place to mention, I am generally a nervous traveler. I try to never check my bags as I prefer to get in and out of the airport as quickly as possible. I am always somewhat anxious going through security and in all my time traveling I have only been stopped for a check one time. I go to some lengths to be prepared when going through the airport, with my ID and ticket out before I get in the security line, liquids bagged up before the security check, and everything as efficient as possible to get through Airport security in the shortest time possible.

All of this means it gets to be a bit tough to travel with paints or modeling tools and glue! Airports seem to be a bit finicky when it comes to a big bag full of paints and they want to know if all those paint bottles are 3oz or less. On the other side of the coin, I have traveled with my models before, bringing them on the plan and getting games in on the far end of my trip. Some of these trips have contributed to lasting friendships and very enjoyable breaks from the work I am traveling for. those who are wondering, I use Battlefoam pretty much exclusively, as I have found it travels best in relation to my mini's.

This article is about a different situation though, specifically about painting. My travels will, from time to time, not involve an airplane but instead will be on a train or more importantly will be a drive. Typically I try to drive to any meetings that are 4-5 hours from my house. I find the drive is simpler than trying to take a train or a short flight to those locations. In the circumstances when I can drive it's pretty easy to toss my paint kit into the car along with some mini's to paint while I'm on the road. I always find there is some time in the hotel during these "shorter" trips where I have the time that I could use to paint.

Years have gone by with my old Citidel Paint set as my primary source of paints. I had augmented the set with various paints from other lines, but the metal briefcase the set came in was good for traveling. I made a switch last year and my wife bought me the entire P3 Paint line from Battlefoam, which came with paints and a case for them. This is a great little bad which holds all my paints, my brushes, and also has space for a couple models to bring along. It's small enough to make it easy to carry along with my laptop and garment bag, and is pretty handy keeping everything sorted out and organized once I'm in the hotel room. I've been generally pleased with the upgrade to P3 paints as well!

So, once I'm settled into my room and getting read to paint I need to set-up my painting area. I find that typically (I'm a Marriott guy) there is a desk with a nice pull-out table in the rooms I stay in. I position myself under the light on that desk and pull out my paint trays from the P3 bag, setting them up on the desk. My models get setup on the small pullout table just in front of the desk so my paints are in easy reach and the light is good for painting my models. Typically I have packed a couple pieces of paper towel in my bag so I have a cloth to clean my brushes. Now comes just a couple more items I can scavenge from the room itself. First is a "water pot" to use in cleaning my brushes. This is pretty easy as every hotel room I've stayed in has some type of coffee cup in the room. I grab this and fill it with water.

The other item to scavenge took me a while to figure out, and that's something that works as an easy pallet for paint mixing and such. I paint a fair bit straight from the paint pot, which I realize is a no-no in general. That said, I still use a pallet a fair bit for limited mixing and for "evening the paint" on the bristles of my brush. The trick with the pallet is to have a surface that will not soak up the moisture from the paint but also can be tossed away when your done painting. After some time I realized that the little cardboard fold they give you your room key in is ideal for using as a paint pallet.

Once I have all this set-up I settle into a chair and start painting. It makes a nice break while on the road and help me keep moving forward with the hobby side while I'm on the road and not able to get games in. I do not pack large models for these trips for a couple reasons. First, smaller models fit in my paint bag better, especially infantry size models. Second, I prefer to sit and work on models that I will get mostly or completely painted up, and that typically does not work with large models. On my last trip I was particularly inspired and effective, ending up completing four models while on the road. I was able to put some flock on them when I got home, snap some pictures and then seal them.



This last trip helped me complete enough models for my WWX Union Special forces. I have 1 model remaining to paint up and I'll be set with 2 Union lists to play around with. I hope this little article helps you out a bit, either with inspiration to paint while traveling or in helping you find some creative tools for enabling your hobby while on the road!

Monday, March 24, 2014

WWX: Dixon's Learning Game

Things have been very busy for me lately with work and family life colliding and eating up most of my hobby time. On the rare recent days when I have had time to partake in some hobby time I turned my attention toward building and painting my WWX models in preparation for Adepticon. After a particularly brutal week at work I found myself sitting on the couch Saturday past, contemplating getting more models painted. I realized I had not played a game in almost a month and got in touch with John and Dixon, convincing them to head to Huzzah Hobbies to play some WWX.

Dixon has only played one game of WWX previously, participating in a 3 way game with John and I. As he showed up first, he and I decided to get a head-to-head game in so he could learn the game more. This was officially his first learning game. Dixon really wants to play the Firefly crew in WWX, so I brought out those models along with Jesse James as his boss. Lacking Bill Brocius (as a Badger stand in) and Abe Lincoln (who was Dixon's first choice but cannot lead the Wayward 8), Jesse was Dixon's choice.

I have a couple names I could label this battle report and this game. Dixon's Learning game is the politest choice so is where I am settling. Equally fitting would be "The game where Bill Show's everything NOT to do", but that was a bit long. I almost went with "The one where Dixon almost flips a table", which while accurate is also a bit long. All that said, here we go:

Dixon's Learning Game

We found ourselves with a nice quiet Saturday afternoon to grab a game. As we were playing $750-points and focused mostly on learning, Dixon and I decided on a 4x4 table set up as you see above. I wanted a bit of a town street for us to play on. Aiming for simplification, we also went with the Shoot Out scenario. This scenario is a straight forward "Kill em All" scenario, which is a bit boring for how we prefer playing but is also very easy to learn with.

Dixon is very partial (as mentioned above) to the Firefly based Wayward 8 crew. His list was as follows:
  • Jesse James
  • Mal (Marcus Wayward)
  • Zoe (Zarelda Kincade)
  • Inara (Sierra Icarus)
  • River (Flowing River)
  • Dark Council Member 

In Dixon's first game he was able to get a nice look at how shooting works in WWX. He really wanted to see how Close Combat stacked up as well. Due to this and the models I had remaining, I chose to go with Warrior Nation with the following list:
  • Sitting Bull
  • Sky Spirit
  • Walks Looking
  • Marcus Cunningham
  • Simon (Sun Totem)
  • Crossbow Brave
  • Spirit Totem
 I setup with Sky Spirit hiding behind a building to the left of my deployment and the rest as you see them in the picture. The game was really set for Dixon and I to just charge at each-other and see where the chips fall. This is typically a mistake for the non-Warrior Nation player, as things will go very south if Sitting Bull, Walks, and Marcus can pile into an opponent quickly. Alas, this worked better for Dixon than for me.

Turn 1

Turn 1 initiative landed on Dixon, who had fewer models than I did. This was a bit of a change for me, as I typically have the smaller model counts. Dixon activated his dark council (who must activate first) and Inara, giving Inara his influence and then moving them both forward. The DC hid behind the building and Inara moved up around the building to get some LOS across the street. Inara had no one in LOS at the start of her activation (only Walks and Simon were visible to her, who each have Living Spirit) so could not use her mesmerizing ability. I proceeded to move forward with Cunningham and toss out his smoke cloud, burning some influence to put it where I wanted. Dixon moved Mal up, then moved Jesse forward and took out my spirit totem which was parked behind cover in the middle of the board. I moved Simon, my crossbow, and Sitting Bull forward into and around the cloud. I moved Sky Spirit up and took a pot-shot at Inara (missing due to her DC influence). Dixon then activated Zoe and River, using Zoe to hand River 2 AP and walking her 14 inches forward. He followed up with walking River twice more, parking her within an inch of the crossbow brave and taking a swing at him. My luck held out and I negated the swing and with a life saving dodge. In return Walks Looking moseyed over to River and proceeded to remove her from the board with extreme prejudice.

At the end of the turn our Dead piles did not look too bad (mine on the left and Dixon's on the right)

Turn 2

Turn 2 ended up being a bloody mess of mistakes and table flipping outbursts. Ok, no tables were flipped during this game but it seemed like it was a close thing.

Turn 2 opened with my getting initiative and activating Simon. I aimed and took a shot at Jesse who was just at the edge of Simon's range. I hit and only put 1 point of damage on him, but achieved my goal of using Interference to shutdown Jesse's Guns. Upon explaing to Dixon what Interference does in combination with his gaining an understanding of how smoke works, he proceeded to have a bit of a tantrum at this point. This was to the point he decided (at this point) there was no way he could accomplish anything in the game so we should just pick up the models and he would concede to me.

It's important to realize that in between turn 1 and 2 John showed up and Dixon had spent a lot of time talking about how excited he was to use Inara. I usually would have done a joint activation of Simon and Sky Spirit, (with possibly the crossbow brave), targeting Inara and trying to remove her in conjunction with shutting down Jesse. I chose not to do this in an effort to give Dixon a chance to play around with a model he was excited to use. This proceeded to contribute to the trouncing I took in this game. Additionally, had John not shown up and helped me "talk Dixon off the ledge" the game would most likely have ended at this point with Dixon deciding WWX was not a great game to play due to a prevalence of "hard counters" making it "rock/paper/scissors". John worked on talking Dixon through all the good things Mal and Zoe could still accomplish in the game, removing my second typical target (Mal) from the equation as I wanted Dixon to experience a fun game. It just seemed like a dick move to have John talk up Mal's assets and then remove the model with Sky Spirit before he got to use him.

So, that brings in the rest of the turn. Tantrum subsided we moved on with Dixon's activation. He activated the Dark Council and Inara, giving Inara the DC Influence and then moving the DC out to the middle of the board. Inara went On the Lookout, using John's advice on how to stop a charge by Sitting Bull by knocking him prone.  Sky Spirit moved into the smoke cloud and took a couple shots at Zoe (using the weaker multi-shot) to not much effect. Jesse moved forward to take cover behind a ruined wall. The crossbow brave took some pot-shots at Inara and did very little. Marcus walked forward (trying to draw Inara's shots but failing) and redeployed the smoke cloud, missing a bit where I wanted it. Zoe gave Mal her AP and Mal unloaded with 5 aimed shots on Sitting Bull, which I barely survived through using the bulk of my influence. Walk's moved out (again looking to draw Inara's on-the-lookout) and moved toward Inara. I succeeded at drawing out Inara's shots, but due to bad influence rolls on my behalf and good shots on Dixons, Walk's was removed as dead.

This left Sitting Bull left to activate, and I made another mistake. Instead of waiting for more influence I moved out to engage Jesse with my 2 remaining influence. On activation Sitting Bull took 9 points of fire damage and then I moved on Jesse. Dixon still had a bunch of influence left and Jesse was not affected by interference. I chose to forgo my "attack on engagement" to avoid his quick-draw response. I moved straight into my second AP, launching 6 claw strikes against Jesse in an attempt to draw out Dixon's influence. I landed 5 damage on Jesse, and then decided to use my last AP to launch 3 bites at him. My thought being if I was lucky and got the kill I could clean up with Jesse's activation. I was not lucky, with Dixon negating all but 1 of the bite damage.  The turn ended with me in a pretty bad position, essentially guaranteed to lose Sitting Bull at the start of turn 3.

Our dead piles were starting to grow, and by our I mean mine (to the left).

Turn 3

Turn 3 was not much of a surprise to me, although I stuck in and tried to do the best possible. Dixon won initiative and started with Mal, Zoe, and the Dark Council. The DC gave his influence to Inara then Zoe gave her AP to Mal, who proceeded to unload on Sitting Bull. Copious Influence negated 6 shots before Mal finally put the wolf down and drained my of all my remaining influence. Mal finished out his turn by shooting his remaining shots at Marcus and removing him from the game as well, removing his smoke cloud with him. I activated all my models together in a last ditch effort to give myself a chance. Simon shot Jesse, hitting and interfering with him (but doing no damage). Sky Spirit and the Crossbow dumped all their shots into Inara and even though they hurt her, they failed to kill her. Those rolls sealed my doom as Inara moved forward and dumped two templates onto Sky Spirit and the Crossbow Brave, knocking them prone but not killing either of them. Jesse then finished the turn by walking up and trying to punch Simon, but failing. Simon was out of range for his half inch melee weapon, so he took a quick-draw shot back and failed to hit Jesse (that's the only thing that could have saved my game at that point).

My dead pile continued to grow:

while Dixon's did not:

Turn 4

Turn 4 Dixon grabbed initiative again and it was cleanup time. Jesse activated with the DC and after Inara grabbed the DC influence, Jesse proceeded to shoot down the remaining 3 models I had.









Final Thoughts

This was a debacle of a game all around. I guess the best lesson one can draw from this is don't become explosive and throw a fit in a game. Clearly there is plenty that can happen in a game to turn what appears to be a "I can't do anything" situation around fairly drastically. On the one hand, I was frustrated by what I perceived as an overwhelming defeatist attitude from Dixon. On the other hand, I am happy he could be convinced to calm down and play through as I think he will be back to play more games.

At some point I will have to get Dixon on the podcast to talk about what he thinks of WWX. Not sure there is much else to discuss here other than to give the advice to avoid many of the things I chose to do in that game.