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.