Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas Malifaux Style

Merry Christmas! That's right, my Christmas holiday vacation started today, and I made great use of it by sleeping late and being lazy all day. I did get some modeling completed over the weekend, which is service a dual purpose for me. First, Saturday was the deadline for Huzzah Hobbies Christmas Ornament challenge. As the owner is a friend of mine and confronted me with the "Bill, I expect big things from you for this contest", I had to make sure not to disappoint! The result was a Malifaux Christmas model/diorama of Miranda riding in a sleigh of presents with Waldgeist pulling the sleigh. All of that is lead by Rudolf the red nosed Jackalope!

This was certainly an ambitious project, especially considering the time line I set for myself (approximately 2 weeks).It came out looking good and I am happy with the results. I will probably do some little touch-ups here and there and will certainly put more snow flock on the bases.

I will also be using the model for the club Malifools December painting challenge. I have seen one of the compeitors and I have to admit his painting is better than  mine, so I expect he will walk away with the Malifools prize.

So, with a wish of Merry Christmas to everyone, here are some of the pictures of the work in progress.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pure Irony - Rules Interpretations

I think it is important to start this post off with a couple disclaimers and acknowledgments. I fully expect that some of my readers, specifically those in my local play group, will take offense to this post. To those readers, I want to point out that its not you, its me. Next, I want to acknowledge the pure irony in writing a post about "whiny bitches" actually makes me (in some ways) a "whiny bitch" as well. Next, it is important to disclaim this post is more of a stream of consciousness post to get some of my thoughts on the subject out there as opposed to a well constructed argument for or against something. And lastly, at the end of the day I respect all of your opinions that contradict mine, your all entitled to your opinions no matter how wrong they are.

(see what I did there, trying to make a joke and lighten the mood?)

Perhaps its the stress and anxiety of the holiday season that's upon us, and perhaps its just my broken way of approaching games. Its even possible that I have actually matured over time and grown past the childishness of rules lawyer-ing. I have been increasingly annoyed lately with a trend in rules interpretation for games that I have seen.

Why is it that when a rules is interpreted, players always look for ways to "break" the rule set or gain an advantage or just be contentious?

It seems to me that if there is a way, taking war gaming in general, for a rule to be interpreted that makes the game:
  1. Less fun for the opponent
  2. Makes a model/unit be percieved as "over powered"
  3. Can cause extensive arguments about language
then that is the interpretation that many players will jump to, in stead of giving the rules the "benefit of the doubt". It almost seems that gamers look for reasons to argue and become frustrated with their games instead of looking for reasons to enjoy their  games fun. I see some of this in competitive attitudes, and even more-so I see this attitude in internet discussions about gaming in general. Funny enough, I see this attitude play out regularly in some of the local play groups I watch and/or participate in.

I am doing some personal reflection on this to see how much I have also contributed to this phenomenon. Most likely I will be as deeply implicated in what I will term "Whiny Bitch Syndrome" as any other gamer. Come on now, I have a blog and a podcast, so I must be one of the worst offenders, right? (see sarcasm in last sentence for those who missed it) Sarcasm aside, I do not like this trait and endeavor to minimize or remove it from my own gaming personality. I am trying to understand why gamers as a whole (or at least my perception of them) prefer this approach over an alternative.

What are the alternatives you ask? What a great question. What is gamers were to give a rule set the "benefit of the doubt"? Instead of constantly looking for ways that a rule can be "twisted" or "broken" or interpreted to reduce the fun for ALL players of the game, what if we assumed the rules were written to make the game MORE fun for all players. What if when we looked at a rule and had the reaction of:
  • "Wow, that rule seems out of line with common sense" 
  • "Wow, I can really take advantage of this" 
  • "Wow, that will certainly start an argument"
  • "That rule is stupid and I am going to quit playing because of it"
we instead think to ourselves:
  • Thats probably not whats intended, is there a way this makes sense
  • My interpretation would reduce the amount of fun my opponent has, could this be interpreted another way to increase both of our fun
  • I'm just trying to be argumentative, let me take a breath and see if this makes sense in a way I don't have to argue about it
I know its sacrilegious to pick up a theme that the infamous Jervis Johnson (ala Games Workshop fame) runs with, but whats so wrong with just agreeing with our opponent before the game to how things will be handled for maximum fun? What wrong with siding with an interpretation (in game no less) that benefits our opponent because that would make the game play out in a highly cinematic way. Even worse, what if we interpret things in a way that gives a benefit to our opponent because the game is fun and arguing about a rules interpretation reduces everyone's fun in the game?

To use another cliche, "Why can't we all just get along?"

Do any gamers out there notice that in the majority of cases, rules are interpreted by the game developers to NOT overpower single models / units in games? Have any of you noticed that, more often that not, when something happens in a game that makes you (and often your opponent) react with:
  • What the hell, now that rule interpretation just doesn't make sense
the developers tend to FAQ/Errata against that rule interpretation?

Lets be fair as well, rules developers are people too. More often, they are gamers, and sometimes they make mistakes. I believe that games developers try to make their games "balanced" which typically means that when a model / unit has a rules that could unbalance the game, that unit / model is given a drawback or weakness in the rules that brings it back into balance. When that is missing, your probably reading too much into the rules. In addition, I believe that games developers try to make their rule-set easy to understand. I believe that more often than not, if the rule is highly complex and confusing to understand than your reading WAY TO MUCH into it. You just might be TRYING to complicate the rule for some reason.

  • Do you, Mr/Ms Gamer, really believe that the rules developer tried to make the rule system over-complicated and hard to understand? 

  • Why can't we step back once in a while and assume the developer was trying to use the simple understanding?

In conclusion:
  • If your reaction after reading a rule is close to "HA HA, I got you... this screws over", your reading it wrong.
  • If you could interpret a rules as complicated or simple and your choose complicated, your doing  it wrong.
  • If you have even the slightest thought of "I can get a huge, unbeatable advatage with no disadvantage from this rule", your interpreting it wrong
  • If you read a rule and think "Now this can't be right, I bet this will make a great internet discussion", your probably right, but what your really looking for is an internet argument
  • If the rule makes the game LESS fun for EITHER player, you are misunderstanding the rule (possibly on purpose)
 Ok, enough rambling.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Apocalypse - Marines vs Eldar

Last friday was my friend Jay's birthday, and he wanted to play Apocalypse for the afternoon. I was all for the idea and worked things out to have the afternoon off. So, we ended up with a 4 player Apoc game, 6K per side. Jay showed up with 3K of his Howling Griffons, Chris showed up with 3K of Ultra Marines, and I showed up with 6K of the Dead Tau project. We used some fairly straightforward rules to make sure the Apoc game was fun, and not too far over the top.
  • 1 super heavy per side
  • 1 flyer per side
  • No orbital bombardments or the like
  • No flank-march stratagem
So we setup across 2 tables, with a bridge spanning the middle. Here are some shots of the board prior to deploying armies.

We got started and began our afternoon of playing. I will say that although this was only my second game of Apocalypse, I really enjoy playing the games. The large number of models on the table create an environment where when things get interesting and the combat starts, there are so many opportunities for "cinematic moments" that its mind blowing. Also, walking around the tables and seeing the views from different perspectives, all of fully painted terrain and armies, is inspiring for 40K games.

Something about the way Apocalypse is played frees my mind to look at the fun aspects of the game and create opportunities for fun combats as opposed to looking at the tactical means of winning the game. I think part of this is the fact that at larger points, trying to be tactical on the whole board is overwhelming to the point of being absurd. In our game, from my perspective, one of the best moments was watching at the bridge between tables as the Phoenix court of Khaine (my favorite Apoc formation) charged a solid line of marines and tanks, including the disembarked terminators attacking the Avatar. That would have been a fantastic battle to see, had we had the time to play on into the next turns.

At the end of the day, the most important goal was achieved. We all had fun, we got to field some truly large models (2 titans on the table), and everyone left having enjoyed a day of 40K. I realize this makes me sound a bit like Jervis in his Standard Bearer articles, but I have to admit I am starting to find that side the most important part of my games lately.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Harliquins and Additional Updated Pictures

So I actually started on my Harliquins... they are no longer ALL grey and sitting on my paint tray. One of the clowns has drifted into the display case and is now standing, lonely, looking at all the other squads. I have to admit, even without doing checks/diamonds these guys still take ~3 hours each to paint. A fair amount to bite off since I have 15 to complete for the squad. Well, be be fair, only a lot to bite off when I look at a goal of completing the DTP before the end of the year.

Overall, I do not think these guys are paint contest worthy, but I am very happy with how they came out. Lets take a quick look!

So while I had her in the light tent taking pictures, I figured I would snap a couple more pictures of the army. Here are some additional updated pictures of the other models. As promised in comments from the most recent post, here is the Wraithlord.

And my War Walkers:

So no the question is, can I come up with additional lead-ins for blog posts with Harlequins... potentially 1 at a time? Maybe posts when I complete a couple of them.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Update Arrives

As promised, the update arrives with new pictures. I have "completed" one of my Nightspinners, along with actually getting the bulk of the Phoenix completed. I also am still working through photographing my eldar army with the new light-tent, and replacing some of the pictures I had previously. You should notice the blue background updating with additional frequency on the Flickr slide-show on the right.

Now, let me start with a quick definition on what "completed" is defined as, in relation to the night-spinner. I have been bouncing between 4 vehicles recently (Titan, Phoenix, 2x Nightspinners) and I noticed while I was photographing this that I had missed a couple things. I will be going back and adding some grey highlights to the vines on the tank, along with continuing to touch up the gems across all the vehicles. I have updated my gems on one of my wave-serpents and I think the schemes looks really good on vehicles. Its now a fairly stretched out projects to go update the scheme on all the vehicles in the army.

So, lets get to the pictures. Here are two shots of the Nightspinner:

I also wanted to show some of the updated pictures. Nothing has been touched up on these models, just the camera and light-tent are changed.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Update Incoming

I hope everyone had an excellent Thanksgiving. I know here at the DTP I was able to get a couple things painted up for the Tanksgiving event incoming tomorrow (Sunday). Pictures will follow this week but the DTP has added the completed Phoenix pictured earlier and a new Night Spinner to the vehicle ranks. I also have a host of clowns primed on my desk, waiting for brush.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dead Tau Project ..... with 70% more Dead Tau

Yup, thats right.... only 70% more. I am working the mix back to 100%, and will be satisfied when we start hovering around 80% for sure! Regardless, I am loving my new Light Tent, and have been snapping a number of pictures with it.

So, the rumor in the title indicates there would be pictures of more Dead Tau. Well, I would not want to be called a liar, so lets get on with it. First I took a couple pictures of the Avatar I put together a while back. Just a refresher, but I really wanted some better pictures to put in the photostream.

Not to bad if I do say so myself. I am happy with these pictures and feel they are far better than the previous ones. It definitely reminds me that I have some touch-up to do on the gems and should get to that.

After taking those pictures, I figured it would be good to get a few pictures of the Phoenix Court of Khaine.

 I also may have mentioned at some point that I was "done" with the titan base. I do not believe I have posted the pictures of the final product, so this is as good of a time as any. The pins in the picture (on the base) are marking where the feet of the Titan will set into the base and glue down. It is hard to find the holes without these markers, so I kept them in.

Four posts in a week, I am wearing myself out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gaining Ground Malifaux Tournament - After Action

Lets see, its Wednesday now so its been 4 days since I ran my second Malifaux tournament. Not bad, only 4 days and so far a post every day on the blog. So on Saturday, November 6 I ran the local Gaining Ground Malifaux tournament at Huzzah Hobbies. Overall the tournament ran smoothly, with 7 players showing up.

Let me provide a bit of context to start out, then I will get to the pictures and after action reports. To start with, Wyrd is currently working on putting together an official tournament system. Toward this end, a test system was provided to a select group of people in order to get feedback on it and help improve the overall system before its released broadly and officially. I was one of those select few, and this tournament provided a solid chance to give the rules a Beta run. I have to say that the rules are solid with (in my opinion) only a few area that could use improvement. While I will not likely run all my tournaments using this system, it is certainly a solid system for competitive tournaments.

So the basics are:
  • Each player chooses a faction at the start of the tournament. 
  • Games use Standard deployment for each game (6 inch deployment zone per side)
  • Players flip strategies at the start of the round. There are 4 strategies possible, and if the same strategy is flipped by both players then its shared
  • Players "buy" their crews at the start of each round, within the faction they picked.
  • Players pick 2 schemes each round. 
  • Round Matching is determined by Victory Points
  • Awards are given for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place based on VP
  • In the case of an odd number of players, a bye (buy?) system is in effect
Now, I will happily say that the "pick a faction, buy your crew each game" system worked out in the tournament on Saturday. I am still unsure if I like this system overall, as I truly believe it gives the person who has the most models in his/her faction a distinct advantage in the games. To be fair, the winner of the tournament played the same crew all 4 games. Second and Third place each changed their crews every game. Last place switched his crew up, and the middle of the field guy played the same crew all the way through. As such, the results do not demonstrate my belief in an advantage.

The biggest challenge we had with the games was the time-limit in the current Beta system. The time limit was set-up for 1 hour games, with a 15 minute window at the start of the game to determine strategy, schemes, crews, and deployment. 60 minutes of play time was not enough time for players to complete their games. We had some very experienced players who were only able to knock out 4 turns before time was called. This being the case, I strongly recommend 90 minutes of play-time for the rounds. I think solid players can knock out a good game of 6 turns in 90 minutes. On the other side, I believe the "start of round" time of 15 minutes could be brought down to 10. In our case, the first round took up the full 15 minutes as people learned the system, but after that the average was around 7 minutes before people started playing.

One other addition, which I really liked and received some solid positive feedback on was related to schemes. In Malifaux, each scheme (you pick 2 per game) is worth 1 point if accomplished, and an additional point if announced. In this system, if you announced your scheme and did not accomplish it, then your opponent scored a bonus point.

All in all, the day was a success and there were great games played throughout. The end of day standings were:
  1. Resurrectionists (Kirai & fixed crew) - 29 points (our of a possible 40)
  2. Guild - 28 points
  3. Arcanists - 26 points
  4. Neverborn (Pandora & Fixed crew) - 20 points
  5. Resurectionists - 14 points
  6. Outcasts - 14 points
  7. Resurectionists - 11 points
 Here are some quick shots of the boards. I did not grab pictures of 2 of the boards, the Bog board from the previous tournament and a new board set-up as a "Religious Village" board.

We had a new Scrubland Board (all fixed terrain board)

The Ruins board

And John's very excellent City of Malifaux board

Players Choice
Even though it is not an official part of the Gaining Ground format of the tournament, I did include a separate prize and contest for Players choice. I asked that any of the players with a fully painted crew from within the faction they were playing display thier crew for a players choice vote. 6 f the 7 players set their crews out.

At the end of the voting, there was a tie between 2 crews. After a tie-breaker judge was brought in, this was the second place choice:

 And Dan with his Kirai crew took the Players choice award (along with 1st place in the tournament)

Dan has a good writeup on his blog about the day, I recommend checking it out.

I want to close out this post with a couple action shots I took through the day:

These were cool, as one if the Witchling Stalker in the building looking toward the Onroyo, and the second is the Onroyo waiting for the Stalker to charge through the building, and meet up with all the other spirits outside!