Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Wild West Exodus Kickstarter

Readers of the Dead Tau Project are likely aware that I kickstarted Wild West Exodus (WWX). During the month of December I received my kickstarter box and overall I am really happy with what I got. I backed the kickstarter to the Fiendish level, netting me the basics for 4 of the 5 factions the game launched with. Among the extra's I received all of the alternate models for the "Boss's" along with several of the additional models that were available and an extra Rulebook. My goal for the second hard cover rulebook was to have a reserve book for any of my friends who did not support the kickstarter but may end up interested in the game. Upon receipt of my 12 pound box I invited local gamer John over and recorded a 3 hour Gamers Lounge episode unboxing the order. We reviews the models and gave our opinions throughout the unboxing.

WWX launched with 5 factions to choose from, of which I chose four. I did not pick up the Lawmen faction, although I may decide to grab it at a later date if I start playing the game as my primary miniature game. I did pick up the following:

The Union - Having mercilessly crushed the Confederacy in the recent Civil War, the full power of the North now turns its greedy eyes westward. Fueled by the full destructive potential of stolen scientific technologies, the Union's might seem unstoppable. It seeks to defend itself against any threat that might rise up against it by crushing all those who could even pose such a menace. Without pity or compassion, the stampeding juggernaut annihilates anything in its path as it continues to consolidate an entire continent beneath its armored boot.

The Outlaws - Desperate men, who have turned their backs on the very concept of decency and honor, live as wanted criminals.  These degenerates of society struggle for a moment in the spotlight, caring only for the recognition of infamy.  Their egos drive body counts higher and higher with each town they pass through. With the clandestine assistance of renegade scientists these men will stop at nothing to be the strongest, fastest, most frightening specters in the Wild West. From bio-mechanical implants to stolen experimental weaponry, only death may stop their headlong quest for fame and wealth. Powerful weapons and a reckless way of life have made the Outlaws a force to be reckoned with.

The Warrior Nation - The proud descendants of the men who were once the lords and masters of the entire continent, now fight to regain power.  These Native American warriors have thrown off the noose of enforced servitude to the United States.  Joining their tribes together they form an alliance of unparalleled strength that taps into ancient spiritual power.   No longer does the Warrior Nation allow others to take from them the land of their ancestors. Confronting the twisted science of tomorrow with the purity of the Earth, the Warrior Nation has taken up the mantle of protector of the land, and will stop at nothing to eradicate this new threat.

The Enlightened - The greatest scientific minds of a generation have been twisted and corrupted by the whispered words of a dark and mysterious force. Once, in another reality, soaring towers of graceful steel would have risen up into the sky built by these men. But now brutal machines of destruction, powered by the very essence of evil, seek to crush the ignorant beneath their iron weight. Medicine that could have saved countless lives now drags the helpless dead back into the land of the living.   Mindless automatons moving solely at the direction of these crazed geniuses.  Men so convinced of the purity of their own motives and ideals that nothing can be allowed to question them.  Once heralded as the saviors of mankind, they now stand to provide the tools and weapons set on destroying all living things on earth.

All of the above paragraph's explaining the factions are copied from the kickstarter page. They are nice little descriptions and I figure as I get further into the game I will start to write up my own experience and descriptions of the factions.

The Start and the Models

I knew that my primary opponent when I started learning the game would be local gamer and friend John. He had kickstarted the game as well, picking Outlaws as his initial faction to start with and grabbing most of that line.  I had decided on an initial list I would learn the game with prior to receiving the kickstarter, so picking out the key models to build was pretty easy. The list I chose also worked well as part of a painting contest I became involved with on the WWX forums (Paint for the Paint Dog). I picked out a fairly balanced list that provided a mix of ranged and close combat to learn the bulk of the rules in the game. In addition, the list I picked had a fair smattering of special rules to learn in the game. I also felt that it balanced well from a visual perspective against John's outlaws, as the Outlaw faction looks like Cowboys. What better to match against cowboys than Indians, namely the Warrior Nation?

My list consisted of the following:
  • Sitting Bull (A big werewolf, 2 sculpts)
  • Sky Spirit (a ranged half-bird indian)
  • Walks Looking (a blind girl who kills you with knives)
  • River (a mercenary based on Firefly)
  • Marcus Cunningham (a mercenary half-transformed into a Rhino with a big hammer)
  • 3 Long Ranged Braves (hired hands or "chaff" models)
I want to talk a little bit about the quality of the models. The character models are primarily resin models while the hire hands models are plastic. The exception to this rule is the Wayward 8 models, which are inspired on the Firefly crew. Those 8 models are all characters but are also in plastic. The plastic used with the WWX models is the same plastic being used by GW and Wyrd miniatures. I use plastic glue on the models and it works perfectly. The joins on these models are overall cleaner and less delicate than the Malifaux plastics, while the detail appears to be just as good. The models are fantastic overall, with less "fiddly bits" such as the infamous (among Malifaux gamers) "Yan Lo's Beard".

The character models in resin are also spectacular. In my initial builds I found very little flash on the resin, most of which came away from the model when I cleaned it. I clean my resin models with warm water, a drop of dish soap, and a toothbrush. The light scrubbing stripped away the small amount of flash and went very quickly. As for bubbling, I only found 1 bubble that gave me any concern with the models. The Sitting Bull model in the center of the paper above (The standing one) had a bubble in his hip I ended up needing to fill with some greenstuff. In addition, these resin's are far better than both Forgeworld and Wyrd's resins (in my experience) considering the lack of gap filling and flash. Overall I have been very impressed with the models so far.


I have been slowly painting up my initial list. I have become a bit of a painting snob over the past several years, aiming to only play games with painted models. This is a personal rule I have broken with WWX, putting unpainted and partially painted models on the table to learn the game with. Once I get the bulk of a posse painted I will quickly jump back to my "only play painted" mindset. The models have some fantastic detail to paint up, and are not boring at all. Even the hired hands have some really nice detail on them to pick out when painting.  Walks Looking was one of the first two models I finished painting. I wanted to add some glowing effect to the blindfold across her eyes, but after a quick attempt decided it was not to be. Overall I am pretty happy with how she looks, and look forward to finishing the rest of my initial posse and getting them all into a light tent.

The second of my first pair of painted models is Sky Spirit. He was enjoyable to paint up and has really played well in game. He has an ability called Spirit Aim, which allows him to shoot through buildings and terrain (and models, etc) in play. To reflect this I colored his bow a "glowy blue" similar tot he blue tint on Walks Looking's blades. I recently received a complete set of P3 paint's and am using the new paint set to paint my WWX models. This has created a bit of a challenge for me, as I did not realize how much I used my GW painting reference sheet. When it came to matching the browns and tans on Sky Spirits wings I had to do some quick digging and make some guesses on the colors to use. I'm pretty happy with the results, although I do need to sort out my P3 paints to better (and more quickly) reference the shades for future painting.

Lastly I got my first Hired Hand painted up in my most recent painting session. He was the lone model I completed during that painting session, although I got some base coats on several move models. I am happy with the small details on the model which really add to the generic look of the more common hired hands in the game. In the fluff for the game all the Warrior Nation warriors are able to summon up bolt of blue energy, represented in game by the Spirit Aim and similar rules. As the hired hands do not have the rule in the game, I felt odd painting up the bow and arrow's on them in the blue. As a nod to the fluff I did add some glowing blue to the arrow tip however.

That's all for this post, more will be coming in the near future. I have pictures from my first 3 games of WWX showing the boards and battle overall. I plan to get them posted and discuss my experiences learning the game.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ground Hog, Woodchuck, What the Hell?

I was pleased to recently share with my family a small bit of trivia, Woodchucks and Ground Hogs are names for the same animal. More important to my current situation, after getting rid of 4 of them 2 years ago, a new one has returned to the burrow under my steps in preparation for winter 2013. This bugger has dug a new entrance into the old burrow, pushing through the mesh we had installed after removing the previous rodents, and is working on refurnishing a nice winter home. I have spent the last several weeks waging a semi-passive-aggressive war to encourage the varmint to relocate elsewhere. Ammonia seems to work really well but needs to be periodically reapplied. Clay based cat litter poured into the burrow (after he has been encouraged to leave), wet with more ammonia, and then covered with soil also seems to work well. The problem becomes this varmint is smart and found the one spot under the step I missed hitting with the litter-fill and dug a new entrance into the burrow. I'm trying to keep from poisoning the furry beast as I don't want a thawed corpse stinking up my front step come spring. I think we have dislodged him (again) but am in the several day waiting period to find out.

I realized recently why we have so many problems with this guy. Woodchucks / Groundhogs are related to squirrels. Everyone around my house knows that squirrels are just cleverly disguised demons from hell.

I realize this has nothing to do with gaming of any sort, but I figured it would be fun to share. So, with 3 weeks of quiet recently, whats been going on on my side of the interwebz? Lets jump in and take a look.

Role Playing Challenge

First to tackle is the recent RP challenge issued by friend Austin. It was nice to see him jump in and comment on my recent post. He and I think alike on many areas of running and playing in RP games, which means we had some of the same ideas of character generation. I plan to go into that a bit more in future posts as plans solidify.  It was also a nice reminder that I cannot post too many spoilers without either a spoiler tag or waiting until after the campaign to post the information. All of that said, I have had some more ideas but nothing concrete enough to dive into a full blog post on.


On the Malifaux front there has not been much happening. I am working on getting my aColette models painted up. Despite the severe falling out with Wyrd, I still like the models I have and plan to paint them up even if they just sit in my display case. I spoke with the owner of Huzzah about how M2E has been doing in the store and am happy to hear it's been doing ok overall. He has seen a resurgence in book and deck purchases, with a couple players reigniting interest. We also talked about the fact that most of the people seem to be "home players" which contributes to the decrease in attention and presence in our store of regular Malifaux games. There seems to be a small 2-4 player group on most Tuesday nights I am there, but they all leave very early and the overall community at Huzzah appears to have sharply dropped. I suspect this has as much to do with the difference between my henchman style and that of the new henchman as it does with the new version coming out. I still have a small group of players playing Malifaux Classic, and depending on how things go moving forward we may have enough to run a small event.

I have been keeping in touch with whats going on through a variety of podcasts. While several have dropped off my listening list, a couple have stuck around and are worth listening to. Currently subscriptions I have include the following:
  • Malifools - Interesting talk overall, very M2E centric. 
  • Through the Breach - The recent episode with Josh and Biggles discussing "Unitasking Masters" was really good
  • Cheated Fates Radio - I love Joe and really look forward to hanging out with him at Adepticon again this year. I think Adam is a great addition, and really like him as well. I have ended up shutting off a couple recent episodes from losing interest, but it's still a quality Malifaux podcast for those interested in M2E.
  • Gaming Done Right - all the arrogance you would expect from my previous co-hosts, and then some. Lots of gaming topics and some Malifaux here and there.
  • Crit of Gamers - These guys hit Malifaux a bit less than general gaming and gaming community. I'm not completely sold but have not unsubscribed yet.
Then the last bit of Malifaux news for me is the upcoming Adepticon 2014. Word is there will be a Malifaux Classic event at Adepticon this year during the Story Encounters. If I understand correctly, it will be run in parallel with the M2E Story encounter and during the costume contest. I am looking forward to this and plan to take part.  I am looking forward to it!


Talking about podcasting it's probably a good place to jump into a quick update for those who are interested. I should probably copy this section over to the Gamers Lounge blog as well (if your reading it there then this was part of a recent DTP blog post).

First off, I recently joined Richi and Andre for a great discussion on a variety of subjects on the Hobby Sofa. I had a lot of fun and hope to return in a future episode for some additional discussion. In the recent episode we talked about basing for models, Hell Dorado, and Andre reviewed the new Seamus plastics. The conversation diverted to religion and a variety of other topics as well. The Hobby Sofa has a couple locations, search for it.

On Gamers Lounge news, we are not dead yet, it's just the quiet before the storm. At least I hope thats the case! The recent games I have been playing are not ones that make good podcast episodes (in my opinion) and I am looking forward to the return of some miniature war games. Netrunner is fun to play, but not really something I am passionate enough about to discuss for an hour or more. X-Wing with my daughter is fun, but again not enough to discuss. The upcoming Wild West Exodous is very exciting for me and I plan to record several episodes about my jump into that game. I have some high expectations (as mentioned elsewhere) and hope the game is as good as it appears to be. Regardless, learning the game and deciding if it's going to become my primary game should make for some great recording material!

Also on the horizon for GL is something I mentioned in one of the last episodes. I have been talking with the primary game designer of a new company (and helping playtest some of their games when work gives me the opportunity) and we have a segment planned for a number of future episodes. It's a "Game Designer Diary" type of segment where he and I will discuss some of the decisions designers need to make for their new games as they are building the games and their company. I think it will be interesting for people to hear, and for us to have the discussions. Life challenges have jumped in the way with both our schedules, so the plans to have several segments recorded already has been delayed by over a month.


Things are getting pretty long already, I thought this was going to be a shorter post that it has turned out to be. That said, I will try and wrap up the last couple things on my mind. Last night (Tuesday Oct 29) was the first of the Huzzah Hobbies monthly Netrunner tournaments. It was a lot of fun with 8 players showing up, 4 of which I had not played before. I ended up only playing 1 new opponent and did well overall. I won all 3 games I played with my corp deck (a fast score NBN deck) but did not win any of my runner games. My Kate/Atman deck just did not run fast enough to pull off the wins, losing 2 games to Scorched Earth and 1 to a race for the final agenda point (we were both at 6 agenda points). At the end of the 3 round event I came in 3rd place overall, so not a bad showing. I ended up with the LE art Scorched Earth card and the LE art Kate personality card (pictures above). I am looking forward to the next monthly tournament and will be overhauling my runner deck to work a bit faster.

Wild West Exodous

We are all still waiting on the WWX stuff to pry itself free from customs and then start shipping our way. I am thinking we will end up with the kickstarter stuff in our hands within the next 3 weeks, putting WWX in reach for the middle to end of November. This has me and a couple locals excited to get the models in hand, painted, and start learning the game. In the interim, there is a great new podcast to listen to regarding the game. Check out The Good, The Bad, The Enlightened on their iTunes feed or at their website.


My daughter and I have been playing a bit of Fantasy Flights X-Wing recently and its been a lot of fun. Enough that I am trading on Bartertown and shopping locally to expand our collection of ships. She is consistently beating me in the games but its nice to jump in to a quick game with her. So far we have only been learning the ships and blowing each other up, expanding to building our own ships with the upgrade cards (and pilots) and playing around 75 point games with asteroids on the board. Eventually we will get to missions and objectives, but for now its exciting to see her excited for the game. Add in how much quicker it is to play and now we have 2 games (X-Wing and Malifaux) for different gaming windows.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Challenge

Years ago I ran a long running D&D game which we named Fire Pass Keep. The game ran over a couple years with a core group of players (Austin, Trevor, Jen, Mike) and a couple other players who joined the game for periods of time before departing. The game was in a home brew world I had created and was set-up as in "Books" and "Chapters" for a story progression standpoint.

My approach to running RP has always been "Theater of the Mind" in style, rarely placing models on the table and always tied to an overarching storyline driving the "plot" forward. The players have filled the role of "actors in the play" or more accurately "independent characters in the story" who directed their own path's in relation to the overarching storyline. I find this a great way to run a game as it allows the players to operate "off the rails" and make their own choices within the world but still experience the impact of their actions as the story progresses around them. This allows a tremendous amount of freedom for character actions (both individually and as a party) and really rewards them as they act within the storyline, while not overly punishing them for pursuing goals outside the storyline. Overall it was a great deal of fun and the game developed in ways we all enjoyed. One of my players (Austin) posted a writeup from his character point of view that can still be read online here.

The game wound down around mid-campaign due to a number of issues in scheduling and other life issues (marriages, babies, moving, etc). We all still talk about the campaign from time to time, but we have all drifted to other gaming venues and activities over the years. I have moved more heavily into miniature games and have not revisited the RP arena in many years at this point.

Recently Austin and I were talking and he issued me a challenge. We both have fairly rigorous life and family schedules but he was getting a rather strong urge to revisit playing a character in one of the stories in my head. The challenge was fitting some solid RP into our crazy lives. He posed the question:

"Would it be possible to frame a RP campaign over several hours spread across three weekends, with those weekends spread across 3-4 months?"

I was intrigued. Trevor had also mentioned recently that he and his wife (Jen) were hankering for a revisit to a solid RP game with me running it. The three of them plus another 3 acquaintances of Austins brought us to a party of 6. My intrigue turned to facination, and after only a couple seconds of contemplation I decided.....

Challenge Accepted!

Now I need to start wrestling with the creative side of my brain to work out the game. First there are some challenges:
  • Timing: The story needs to neatly fit within 3 sessions of ~6-8 hours each.
  • Players/Characters: The story has to encompass 6 active characters in a party. Timing may preclude a "group comes together" scenario and may require the party being pre-formed. I also need to decide between pre-generated characters vs character generation by the group.
  • Story: The story needs to be exciting and engaging, I want us all telling stories about this for years.
  • Setting/Background: I need to decide where to base the story. Do I set it in my homebrew D&D/High fantasy world? Do I set it in one of the other pre-created Fantasy worlds? Do I create something new?
  • System: I will probably use D&D 3.5 as the setting, as I am fairly certain we are all comfortable with the system and have the books.

I plan to visit this from time to time on the blog as I plan out the game and then again when we get the gaming sessions in. I have a whirlwind of ideas surrounding this, so I expect it will be interesting to see how things settle out. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

WWX Battle report

It's been a WWX week for the DTP so far! AS I understand it, Robert Gunter is the Devilish level backer for the WWX Kickstarter. Robert had the chance to fly out to Duelcon recently and hang out with the Outlaw Miniatures crew, get a load of models, and get in an "official" game of WWX with the final rules and models. He has very nicely posted a series of videos on Youtube, including a great battle report of Outlaws v Union. It's a lot of fun to watch, here are the links:

WWX Battle Report video #1
WWX Battle Report video #2
WWX Battle Report video #3
WWX Battle Report video #4

I am excited to see this battle report mostly because it is played at a skirmish level with a small number of models. The comments indicate this was a $750 game (750 points if you will), with Robert fielding all characters while Sean (I think it's Sean) fielding characters and hired hands.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sometimes it's the little things

I have to admit that sometimes it's the little things that really shine. There are small things that show when a company is willing to go that extra step because they care about their customers or their community. Many of you know that I backed the Wild West Exodus kick-starter. I am greatly looking forward to getting the kick-starter rewards in hand and getting some time to try out this new game. I have a tough time lately keeping my hopes for the game in check until I get to play a couple times and see how it really "feels" on the table.

Even with my high anticipation and carefully reigned in enthusiasm, I have to say that the communication on the kickstarter side has been the best of any kick-starter I have been involved in. Furthermore, it's far better than most of the kick-starters I have heard about or looked at. Yesterday evening I recieved an email from the kick-starter that was just a step further than any other game company has gone. It's such a nice touch and I really wanted to applaud Romeo and the Outlaw Miniatures team for going this extra step.

Project Update #139: The Boat Is Leaving China!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hey everyone.
If this weekend could not get any better we have official news that the boat is leaving China. 
Here is the boat name Hatsu Courage 0795-058E 
From there enter the boat name in the top left hand side. (Hatsu Courage) 
We also have the container number for you to track if you need it. FSCU4632150 
Here is how you can track this beast full of WWX goodness all the way to the USofA.
You will get an exact live location of what the boat is doing and when it will reach US Customs. 
Keep in mind that once the boat reaches the US it still needs to clear customs and get put on a truck to reach our warehouse. 
From there we take the container, unpack it and begin the process of shipping orders. This should be a very exciting month. As always please email us if you have any questions. 
Thanks guys and as always, In Jesse We Trust



 This is such a cool little thing they decided to do, sharing this information with the people who are building their community and are buying their product. What amazes me even more is that its such an easy thing and no one else seems to have done this. Again, bravo Outlaw Miniatures!!!


Monday, September 30, 2013

New Pictures, Short update

Thing shave been quiet recently, since the last go around with Wyrd and my continued compliance with Eric's .... requests. Gaming as a whole has been a lot slower for a number of reasons, not the least of which a lack of opponents combined with a dramatic increase in work. Even with Dixon back in the area (and his happiness to play most any game) I have only gotten a semi-regular set of Netrunner games and ~ 4 Malifaux games over the past 6 weeks.

I was able to swing out to Huzzah Hobbies over the weekend and grab the remaining Malifaux models in the case to get some pictures. As I was transitioning away from Malifaux I used much of my outstanding Henchman credits to pick up a couple random crews. Some of these are for my collection despite the unlikeliness of my every actually playing them. I wanted to pick up some models that others may be interested in playing under the Malifaux Classic rules as the game editions change. One of those crews was Von Schill. I have never been heavily invested or interested in the Outcast crews, and Von Schill has been even less interest to me as I played Malifaux. Despite this, I know several people who like the German soldier look to the crew and suspect some of those folk will be interested in grabbing the crew to play. Once I got them in hand I asked a friend of mine, John, to paint them up for me. John's painting style is more earthy and muted overall, which I felt would really fit the look of the crew.

We start out with Von Schill himself, the leader of the Freikorps. Schill has regularly shown up in a variety of crews due to his Mercenary status, to the point that I rarely see him leading a crew himself. I love the colors John was able to pull together here, allowing the Hulk Hogan face and hair really jump out contrasting against the more muted uniform. The small splashes of color are great tools to draw the eye when the crew is on the table.

Next up we have the Freikorps Librarian. Dixon will take her form time to time in his Viktoria crews. Her healing is a nice little boost, although I have rarely found myself in a situation where she was a deep concern in a game for me. As you can see, John used the red sashes to create some unification on a model to model basis.

Mentioning the red sashes, we immediately move to another model where they disappear completely. Despite that I really like the overall look of how the specialist is painted up. Despite not being tightly drawn to the crew as a whole, the model's paint job looks really good.

The overall Freikorps releases can be split out into single models, double models, and the group. The last of the single models is the most recent addition, the Strongarm Suit. I imagine that somewhere someone has painted one of these guys up to look like Iron Man, but that's not the way this went. In this specific case I am happy with the muted earthy tones matching the overall crew.

Now we dive into the multiple models I picked up in the crew. To be honest, I cannot remember why I doubled up on the trapper aside from half remembering seeing trappers in pairs on the table previously. Regardless they came out nicely, with a really smooth muted white on their cloaks.

That brings us to the grunt line troops in the crew. I grabbed a second blister of these guys simply to flesh out my order and make sure I had enough Freikorpsmen to built out a decent stand alone crew.

And then we come to the end of the post with the group shot. Here are my Freikorps all together. They look great and will sit nicely in my mini cabinet. It's nice to have them on hand for anyone who may want to borrow them for a game of Malifaux.

As a last note, I grabbed some more pictures to fill in some of the missing links on the Malifaux Crew list. Check out that page (linked at the top) for some of the new pictures.

Friday, September 6, 2013


I have been working on an article for a couple weeks which has taken a number of twists and turns before coming together. I saw the picture to the left recently which helped really crystallize the article as a whole.

Heading into the rambling to come, I want to say a couple things. First, if your a regular reader of this blog I do appreciate your patronage. I hope the blog brings enjoyment in some for or another to you. If the blog frustrates, angers, or somehow generates negative reactions for you then you probably should stop reading my opinions. There appear to be a fair number of people who enjoy reading, and even enjoy commenting and discussing the points I bring up. To those folk (who comment positively or negatively but enjoy themselves), kudo's and "good on ya!"

Onto the rambling itself, there are those out in the interweb who get awfully riled up on reading my opinions here and anywhere else. I have taken some time to read through their comments, responses, and opinions when and where I can find them. I do this in part because I enjoy observing people reactions, and many of the people I am referring to here have awfully extreme reactions. I enjoy observing others simply because it's interesting to watch some people overreact based on preconceived opinions and notions which are essentially baseless or false.

I had a whole long bit written up comparing the public opinion of me before, during, and after this whole transition of a game. I deleted that. I have a whole essay in mind based around the idea of "stop beating a dead horse", but decided not to go down that road. On both of those topics I wanted to try and help readers to see how things have progressed and provide some solid information they can use to ground some of their opinions in a base of facts. I thought that maybe helping others to perceive some of the events through my personal lens would benefit or enrich readers. I had this collections of information that has been shared with me via emails, forum screenshots, copy/pastes, and just general discussion which could all be referenced without implicating the sources.

Then I remembered who my readers are. My readers (appreciated and unappreciated) are the crowd.  There is very little I can write here that will truly matter, as the crowd just wants a show. This was particularly true with my popcorn post. I will tell you that the popcorn post was exactly what it said. There were happenings (and still are to some extent) in the world of Wyrd that I am greatly amused at observing occur. It's utterly fascinating to watch these events birth, develop, and take on a life of their own. I am one of the crowd who is watching in this case. The reaction of readers who commented and readers who emailed me privately surpassed my own expectations and almost eclipsed my enjoyment of watching the developments at Wyrd. Simply pointing out that I was sitting back and laughing at some comedy led to a great deal of conjecture in conjunction with a great deal of digging into issues. Yes, some of the things you (the crowd) identified were in fact what I was bemusedly watching. Other things I am still chuckling at were not caught by those who responded.

I cannot promise any level of wisdom to pass on from my blog or from this article. I can share some of my experiences and perhaps parts of the crowd will gain additional individuality through those experience. Those who do may just gain a different perspective and there is the very slim chance that a very small number will gain the perspective to view the performance with the crowd along with viewing the performance of the crowd. Often the crowd is more absurd than the performance being staged.

My experiences and perspective through this "Wyrd vs Bill" thing have surprised me as well as reminded me of things I used to know and chose to ignore.

Sometimes it is the game and they are not your friends. This can be expanded beyond gaming, but then I would not be able to reference Eric's post, which is a good post. As a general rule the crowd will be disingenuous and applaud you as long as they are getting what they want. The crowd turns in a moment and members of the crowd will always feel better if they can work out how to lead you to the gallows.

The crowd doesn't listen to what you say or watch what you do. The crowd creates its own opinion and decides that is fact. Your words and actions only "flavor" crowd opinion to a greater or lesser degree.

Individuals are different from the crowd, but the crowd is constructed of individuals. Often the crowd-think overwhelms the individual think. Only the strongest individuals stay individuals in the face of the crowd.

Sometimes its not narcissism, you really are the focus. That will often be surprising to you and others will blame you for being surprised.

The crowd loves a show but hates change. It does not matter how genuine and honest you are, if your genuine stance changes at some point the crowd will rebel!

There you go, has that helped you gain a new perspective at all? Let the shouting, throwing of food, and general rabble-rousing begin.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Be Careful to READ forum posts non-disruptively

**** This post seems to have caused an awful lot of disruption. One who "Once called me a friend" advised it should come down. Following his advice it has been removed. *********

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Review - Honor Among Outlaws

Welcome back faithful readers, today I am going to take you on a bit of a trip away from the regular DTP fare. It has been over 3 years since my last book review and this book is a great way to jump back into that earlier practice. Over the next couple weeks I am going to go back and update the labels on the earlier book reviews to add the "book-review" label so these are easier to find. I'm also planning to start writing some regular book reviews for the blog, interspersed with the variety of other topics I am discussing.

That brings us to whats on the table today. Honor Among Outlaws is a new book I was blessed and privledged to be sent a preview copy to review. This is a new book not only along the lines of "newly published" but also a first on multiple fronts:
  • First book published under the Winged Hussar imprint Zmok Books
  • First book written in the Wild West Exodus alternate history 
  • First book written/published for author Craig Gallant
On recieving this book the very kind folks at Winged Hussar/Zmok Books sent along the following blurb: 
In an alternate history twisted through the evil influence of strange, mysterious creatures, the greatest figures of American history battle for dominance and control of a war-torn nation. High tech machines and weapons dominate the land as the world changes daily with each new invention.  Amidst this clash of giants, two lone outlaws, Jesse James and William ‘Billy the Kid’ Bonnie, strive for recognition and their share of the glory, struggling for their place on the national stage.

Craig Gallant has written fiction for several game companies and is the author of the comic published by Outlaw Miniatures for Wild West Exodus.  He co-hosts the internationally renowned gaming podcast, “The D6 Generation” available on i-tunes and on the website: www.thed6generation.com and you can follow his blog at http://mcnerdiganspub.blogspot.com/.

Wild West Exodus is a game set in an alternative history of the US following the period of the American Civil War.  It is focused in the old west where Native Americans, outlaws and what is let of authority battle it out for control of the territories.  More information can be found at http://www.wildwestexodus.com .

Zmok Books is an imprint of Winged Hussar Publishing, LLC dedicated to action, adventure and imagination.  It currently published books focusing on science fiction, fantasy, horror and mystery.  Winged Hussar Publishing publishes books on military history from ancient times to the modern day for students of history and history students.  More information can be found at https://www.wingedhussarpublishing.com.
 Let me provide a little background before diving into my overall review of the book itself. I familiarized myself with the Wild West Exodus "world/alternate history" last year when they ran a successful kick-starter. This game provides a "Weird West" feel similar to Firefly, but based in the setting of post US Civil War wild west. I was very excited when I heard that Craig was writing the back story for the game and this excitement carried over to hearing he would be writing a novel series as well. Followers of this blog are likely aware that I am a voracious reader with a variety of interests. My previous book reviews were on Black Library books which are primarily written in a "sandbox fiction" setting. Honor Among Outlaws (HAO) would be a new author writing in a new "sandbox fiction" setting. My expectations were set for a book that was a little rough (he is a new author) with what I would describe as a "pulp" style action story. I was expecting lots of action, little to moderate character development, and some exciting scene's that I would read through fairly quickly.

I wrote my previous reviews on the blog primarily for books written by Gav Thorpe and ADB. I chose these books because those two authors "broke the mold" I was expecting from the "sandbox fiction" they wrote. Their writing surpassed my general expectations for the genre and they provided excellent character development and story building, surpassing the typical genre writing. I have to add Craig Gallant to this list of writers as one I will watch in the future, as he achieves the same level of writing in HAO. This surpassed my expectation for typical "sandbox fiction" while simultaneously delivering a novel that feels like its written by a writer with more experience than someone's first published novel. In my experience this does not happen often and I applaud Craig on his work!

HAO introduces us to the world of Wild West Exodous (WWX) through the eyes of the infamous outlaw Jesse James. The story does a very good job of immersing us into the pseudo-sci-fi world of WWX while simultaneously introducing us to the bad ass outlaw leader himself. Gone are the expected wild west hallmarks of bullets, gunpowder, and horses and we are quickly introduced to the RJ-1027 (read secret and mysterious technology) blasters and gravity defying hover bikes. This immersion is handled elegantly, leaving enough questions out there to cause the reader to want to learn more but filling in enough holes that nothing feels forced. No where did I find myself scratching my head in confusion, the technical changes flowed naturally, allowing me to just accept the changes in the world while still feeling comfortable it was a world I knew. I especially enjoyed the "remember when we used to ride horses" discussions that came through a number of times in the book. These types of conversations not only helped flesh out the personality of the characters but also softened the immersion into this alternate history.

Jesse James is a sarcastic bad ass character and this comes through very quickly in the story. I really enjoy these types of characters and was a little concerned at the start of the book where the sarcasm felt a little forced to me. The criticism is a little hard to pin down, as I would describe it as the character being sarcastic but not sardonic. I realize these are synonyms but hopefully you understand where I am heading here. I have to point out that this impression smooths our a great deal as I reached the middle of the book and Jesse James became a fully established character in my mind and in the story.

Many new writers have issues with presenting fully fleshed out characters, often providing more of a "2-D cutout" character opposed to a "3-D" one. Craig did an excellent job avoiding this trap, not only fully realizing Jesse James as a well rounded character (flaws, strengths, doubts, dreams, and all) but going further to provide a real feeling for the primary supporting characters in the story. There are very few "2-D cutout" characters in the story and when those show up they are always shorter-term supporting characters where the level of detail is appropriate to their role in the story.


Overall I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more from Craig Gallant and more from the WWX "sandbox".  I only had two criticism overall in the book, which itself speaks to how good this book is.

Criticism #1 - I mention above the sarcasm displayed by Jesse James in the start of the book. This came across a little stilted or forced during the early chapters. This smoothed out a great deal as I reached the middle of the book and disappeared completely by the end. It's a minor criticism and something I likely pick up on as I really enjoy these types of characters.

Criticism #2 - I will not spoil the end of the book but the final chapters left me in a situation where I come to 2 differing opinions. The very nature of "sandbox fiction" limits the full extent of what an author can do within their story. An author writing Star Wars fiction cannot just kill off or maim Darth Vader too early. An author writing for 40K cannot have the Emperor jump off his Golden Throne and do a jig. Likewise there are limits on what Craig can do with this story. The end of the book leaves me with two paths to what happened.
  • Path #1 provides the basis for what could become one of the most devious, menacing, and downright interesting villains in a book series. 
  • Path #2 has Craig setting up an epic finale to his first novel and then running into the immovable "sandbox" wall and having to tap out in favor of maintaining the sandbox integrity. 
Considering there are 2 more novels coming I hold out for the first path, but can see where some readers will get the impression Path #2 is the reality. We will not know for sure until we see where the series is taken next, but I am worried that there is a different author for book 2.

Honor Among Outlaws is due for release on October 22, 2013. I strongly recommend this book and believe you will truly enjoy the plunge into the story!!

**For those that are interested, I will be posting an audio book review as part of the Gamers Lounge - No Gamer Left Behind segment in the next couple weeks. I will update this article when that's recorded and released.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Passing Interest and Amusement

Sometimes you just have to sit back with a bucket of popcorn and watch the show.......

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Views and Surprises from Gencon regarding Malifaux / M2E

What an long title this blog post has, but I am a bit lazy to change it and it is fitting for my article. Yup, I am delving back into some views and thoughts on Malifaux and M2E, so if your already bored with those then move along. At this point I am picking up new games but still very interested in watching the whole Malifaux spectacle unfold as well. Apparently I am not the only one as there are reports from Gencon that I (little ol' me) was still a primary topic of conversation originating from the Wyrd employees. I find that both flattering and a little surprising, as I was not even there and yet there are people who still enjoy discussing the topic of me. Strike that, I find it very flattering....

Anyway, this is not an article to talk about me, but instead some of the other news and discoveries that came back from Gencon. Let's start by talking about Malifaux Terrain. There was a fair amount of talk about the "increase" in terrain requirement in M2E from Malifaux over the past couple months. Most people felt this was a good move, although there has been some concern from and about LGS's having enough appropriate terrain for the new requirements. Malifaux has always been a fairly terrain intensive game, especially when compared to the "typical" tournament set-ups for WM/H and some of the GW games. Terrain plays an important role in the game and as a TO for a variety of large events I have been on the recieving end of "Not enough Terrain" complaints.

I was very excited when I heard that this year Wyrd had tasked Mack and Justin with building the boards that would be used at the Gencon events. I am confident that it was the whole office who spent time building out the boards, as even 16 boards is a lot for 2 people to build in a couple weeks. This was great news because the Malifaux Community could be confident that the boards would be built to specifications for the appropriate amount of terrain on a tournament board, as viewed by the developers of M2E. Even more exciting for event organizers, there would be some definitive answers for what the appropriate amount of terrain would be for future tournaments. The past 2 years Gencon has always been a scramble to build out as much scatter terrain as possible from Terraclips sets provided to volunteers and employees the day before the convention.

This is a picture of one of the Gencon boards, described as typical for the Malifaux tables at Gencon 2013.  It's not a bad looking board, keeping with both some terraclips and having a Malifaux feel to it with the train tracks and some scattered trees. Overall I am a fair bit surprised that this is the typical board for a Malifaux game however. I truly expected more coverage on the board overall, and more terrain provided to block line of sight and firing lanes across the board.

On comparison to previous years Gencon boards, I think this strikes somewhere in the middle of what was built in 2011 and 2012. In 2011 the Gencon boards were pretty sparse in coverage overall, which drew some fairly critical comments from the players and the spectators of the events. I grabbed one of my pictures from 2011 for comparison, this being a board I actually played on during the Masters of Malifaux tournament. You can see that some effort was put into creating interesting terrain from the terraclips but there was no where near enough to really meet the requirements for Malifaux.

The boards at Gencon 2012 are on the other side of the spectrum from what we have at 2013. There is more scatter terrain and a couple of larger pieces that blog LOS across the board. The concerted effort to increase and improve the terrain coverage from Gencon 2011 can be seen here, although these tables still drew some criticism overall as being too sparse in places and providing a few too many firing lanes for ranged crews. The criticism was more of a mixed bag from the participants, down to a couple boards where players in earlier events had moved terrain and the judges had not caught it. In the picture you can get a look at two of the boards, one with a bit more terrain on it constructed from a large center piece and then smaller scatter terrain, and then the second board with a greater number of individual pieces.

The boards this year (Gencon 2013) are a further surprise to me when I compare them to what we use at Adepticon. To be fair, Adpeticon is regularly complimented as an event with generally spectacular terrain, and Adepticon 2013 continued to strive to improve the Malifaux terrain year over year. The picture to the left is one of the "typical" tables of terrain at Adepticon this year, specifically one using more scatter terrain and less themed board. Compared to the new "official" Malifaux boards, Adepticon appears to use approximately twice the amount of terrain that the developers feel should be in the game.

There is certainly the consideration of travel required for Gencon, which may have impacted the types of boards that Wyrd provided. I have considered this, but have to discard that as a limitation that may have influenced the boards at Gencon toward less terrain. Over a third of the boards at Adepticon were brought to the convention from half way across the country (similar distance as Wyrd offices to Gencon) so the distance constraints are similar. I think the more important consideration is the Gencon boards compared to the "typical" board in a LGS, as thats where most players will be playing. I can only provide my own boards or pictures from other LGS hosted tournaments as comparison. I grabbed a "typical" board from one of the Victory Comic's events as comparison here.  That also appears to have more terrain than the recommended amount.

Overall, I expect that this change in the expected terrain will impact the game in a couple ways. First, I expect that overall players will just ignore the Gencon 2013 set-ups and continue to set-up the boards they want to play on. The second impact is a bit more insubstantial overall, as it will impact the development and balance of the game going forward. I think the most important aspect for future Malifaux players is that we (the community) now have a glimpse into how the developers feel the tables should be set-up, so we can gain some more understanding on how that terrain should/will impact the game and model balance. The board I see above has distinct advantages for ranged crews while minimizing some of the impact of both "swarm" crews and melee centric crews.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Gencon 2013... WOOO HOOO

Well, Gencon 2013 has arrived and the family and I did not make it out this year. There were a number of reasons for this, not the least of which was delays in specific work payments (bonus's and such) and increased expenses overall this year. This year ends up with us sitting at home and not joining into the fun. I would have enjoyed going and meeting up with people, and would have even dipped my toes into one of the Malifaux Avatar's qualifiers since they will be some of the last Malifaux Classic tournaments run. I would have enjoyed taking a crack at going out at the top of the official wyrd tournaments.

That said, several companies provide their product's released at gencon as an early order online through their website. I was only really interested in two of those companies this year, as much of the stuff I will just pick up at my local store over the coming year. I did want to grab some stuff from Wyrd and from Outlaw Miniatures though.

Wyrd Miniatures

Wyrd had several new releases this year at gencon, including a small card game and a new board game plus some type of party game that just does not look like my "cup of tea". There was also the hallowed release of the official Malifaux V2 rules and several of the new plastic kits. Included in those kits were the annual Nightmare Special edition release models and the annual limited edition Miss model. I decided against the nightmare crew this year (Nightmare Tara) as it just did not seem overly impressive after I took a look at the models themselves. The Nightmare beast model just did not have the same impressive quality of Nightmare Chompy and the crew seemed to be missing the unique fluid nature of the Nightmare Justice box. Additionally it makes no real sense for me to grab the crew since it will be M2E only, so its not something I would be playing.

Then we come to the miss model. The only way to get the limited edition miss models is to purchase over $100 worth of product during Gencon. I have collected all the previous miss models, including the gremlenette that was released early on in Wyrd's gencon run. I like the looks of the miss models, well... I liked the look of the miss models. This years Miss Step is very appropriately named in my opinion. Simply put I do not feel it fits the overall model line nor does it fit my preference for models. Take a look at this picture I put together of the Miss models all together.

So, with my consideration that I was not interested in the Miss model this year, I had no pressure to try and get to $100 to get it. This was good as I am not sure I would have gotten there anyways. I would have been over had I added in the Rulebook and Rasputina plastic box set, but I am in no rush to get those and can wait for my LGS (Huzzah Hobbies) to get those in to pick them up. That said, I had a voucher from my last event as a Henchman and wanted to grab a couple things that I could get early. First I picked up the Ronin box set, as I really want to paint these girls up. The new models really remind me of the look in the movie Sucker Punch, and overall I am hoping the models match the renders fairly closely. 

I also decided to pick up the Death Marshal box set, as my coupon was valued higher than the Ronin box. I have a fairly large collection of Death Marshals currently, and I thought the new box would be a good addition. I really dislike the look of the "Dance a Jig" death marshal and am not very fond of the "Hop over the coffin" marshal, but I do like the look of the crouching marshal with the coffin on his back. I may even use the flaming head for him (if there are multiple heads in the box). To be fair, I am very much hoping for multiple heads, as I am not a fan of the flaming head motif, but I think it could look cool on one Marshal. This box will bring my DM collection to 12 Marshals including 3 original box, 1 extra "Coffin Opening", 2 Miss Terious's, 3 Dead Justice box, and now 3 Flaming Head marshals. Not bad overall.

 So, after tossing in a EBO Tin as a gift for some family friends, I was all ready to check out and get into the delivery queue of Gencon orders. I dug up the email with the SS Code and entered it in and then I had to sit back and laugh. The code did not work. This means that the code was either 1. Never activated, 2. Issued to someone else as well, or 3. Activated then deactivated since the beginning of June. I shot a quick email off to Wyrd to ask them to fix it for a future transaction, but the irony is amusing. I assume this is just some type of system mistake, but it would be truly amusing if after everything the Wyrd folk have dropped to the level of personal pettiness that they deactivated my last Henchman code as well. We will see!

Outlaw Miniatures

That brings me to my only other Gencon purchase in 2013. Outlaw Miniatures is the company behind Wild West Exodous which I supported on kick-starter and is due to ship later this year (September/October I believe). I have had the privileged of getting my hands on one of their limited edition models already (Outlaw Lady of the West to the left) and just received my second pre-release model, Sheriff Mick Ironclad. I will be getting Sheriff Mick painted up soon and am looking forward to it.  When the Outlaw Miniature folks announced that they would be releasing two new models for the line during Gencon, with limited amounts at Gencon and also available through the website, I was excited. I am not sure how much I will enjoy WWX, but I like what I have seen so far on the model aspect and hope the game holds up to the models when played in a skirmish setting.

So, WWX released two models during Gencon, Kyle the Black being one of them. Kyle the Black is part of the Enlightened faction and works as a "sidekick", one of the more powerful named models that would be used in the skirmish portion of the game. He has a very 40K look to me, which I feel is fitting as he is heavily based and modeled around the likeness of one of the 40K Radio hosts. Kyle the podcast host is one of the employees of Battle Foam and works closely with the Outlaw Miniatures folks as well. I really like the way the model looks and it makes me chuckle to recognize his likeness in the model. I can only hope I do the model justice when I paint it up.

The second model that was released strikes me as heavily inspired by the Lone Ranger. Knowing that Romeo has previously grabbed ideas from other movies as inspiration for models in WWX, this does not surprise me with the proximity to the Lone Ranger movie recently in theaters. US Marshall McClain will be able to be played in both the Outlaw and the Lawmen factions within the game. This type of Dual Faction strategy worked well for Malifaux when it was introduced and I like that it is being used here. I think that picking up a small set of models (he is the only one currently) to give the ability to can provide some nice flavor to specific models in the game. I am very excited to get him and paint him up, as I really like the overall look of the model.

Final Thoughts on 2013 purchases

So, that's it for my Gencon 2013 spending. Some people know of the fairly extravagant spending on product I have done in the past, specifically over the past 2 years with Wyrd Miniatures at Gencon.I believe that after totaling up the combined purchases I made in 2011 it was somewhere above $2100 total. Keep in mind this was a combined total for me and 4 different people I was shopping for so that truly ticked up the totals and that was not all my money. In 2012 when you combined what I spent plus what my daughter and I earned (and spent) in booth credit through volunteering, we were easily in the neighborhood of $1000. Much of that was earned credit but it still means I brought home a great deal of product from Wyrd, plus the stuff I picked up both years from other game companys.

I was expecting to spend far less this year. Overall I have less disposable income this year and the family is in a very different economic situation that we have been in past years. That said, I was surprised to see how much less I spent. All told, my spending was almost equal between the LE WWX models and the two sets of models from Wyrd, combined coming in below $100. I am eerily reminiscent of when I stopped spending money on GW years ago. GW was certainly not hurt by my personal spending, as I am just a drop in the bucket overall, but it was interesting to see the impact on the hobby I was involved in. I am fairly confident that Malifaux V2 will continue to have traction for a while in the area, but I will be sending my hobby budget in other directions in the future. It is gratifying, and also a bit intriguing for me, to "vote with my wallet".

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Recent Gaming and a Ramble about Playtesting

Overall gaming has been different for me lately. I like portions of how that has gone while I do feel like there are parts of my gaming experience that are missing. I have been able to get more gaming in with my family, which is a very cool thing, but is not the same as gaming with my "regular gaming group".


First up on the roster was a great game with my daughter. She has been playing Malifaux off and off since earlier this year and has really been getting a good handle on her Colette crew. She has discovered through a series of games that she really likes Colette's swapping ability and looks to Cassandra and the Corypheee Duet to do her heavy lifting on the strategies and schemes. I found it interesting to hear her tell me on multiple occasions that the performers were pretty much useless and the mannequins were just there to take damage for Colette. I knew there were a couple combo's that she was missing so we decided to have me play Colette and she would grab and start to learn a different crew. Her choice was Lady Justice and I helped her put together a fairly well rounded 35ss crew to play. We had the Gaining Ground Shared Treasure Hunt as our strategy, and Bianca brought the following to the table:
  • Justice, Miss Terious, 2 Stalkers, Santana, Guardian, 2 Guild Hounds, 8 stone pool
I brought:
  • Colette, 2 Performers & Mannequin, 2 Coryphee, Cassandra, 3 stone pool
There were a couple things I noticed Bianca prefers to use and not use when she plays Colette, and I wanted to show her some differences in how she plays. Bianca really like to use the 12 inch ranged Discharge Soulstone, while I prefer Magicians Duel (to not burn so many stones). Bianca does not often discard cards for soulstones, while I do. Bianca also does not hold onto tomes for her defense trigger, while I rely on it heavily. By the same token, Bianca relies on her soulstone healing with her Slow to Die more than I do.

So, when we got into the game I helped her understand how the Guardian's protect spell works and how to use it to boost Santana. I then showed her the trick of using the Mannequin to bash Colette to help Collette move without burning her own 1ap to do so. I also held several tomes (often mid or low tomes) to use with Colette's defense trigger and Bianca gained a much better understanding of how hard Colette is to pin down. The game was really close, and Bianca got to see two major turning points (against me and for her) when she was able to run Justice into both the Coryphee Duet and into Cassandra and cheat in a Red Joker on a damage flip, deleting both models from the game. She also had some eye opening moments when my performers were far from useless. Between the two performers I was able to shoot down a witchling stalker and Miss Terious with their pistols, Lure a dog out of position to make the other dog insignificant (so it could not pick up the treasure), and steal one of Justice's soulstones with expensive gift.  Bianca came out of the game with a better appreciation for the performers, although she still sees the Mannequins as damage sponges. Surprisingly she did not enjoy playing Justice at all, and wants to go back to playing Colette more.


My wife and I have been playing Netrunner, and she is enjoying it as much as I am. I have had a couple chances to head out to the store on my normal Tuesday night to get games against the wider community, but we are also enjoying just playing against each other. We have a single core set, 3 expansions (What Lies Ahead, Cyber Exodous, Humanities Shadow), and the Command and Control new expansion. This has been good and bad, as I am trying to keep 2 corp and 2 runner decks built at the same time without swapping cards between decks. We have it down but I think my runner deck is not as strong as it should be, while my corp deck could probably use some help as well.

Julie is playing Chaos Theory with what she calls her "Dinosaur Deck". This is a fun shaper deck to play and is tweaked to be pretty damn efficient. I am very happy to find her enjoying playing the corp and runner sides of the game equally, as it lets me also switch up between my corp and runner deck. On the runner side I am playing one of the Criminals (Gabe). Julie's deck is built heavily focused on getting her 3 Ice Breaker's out and then making repeated runs against R&D (the draw deck). My deck is based on generating a lot of money then making repeated runs on HQ (opponents hand). There are a couple cards that could be swapped between the decks to make them run a bit smoother, but overall they do fairly well.

On the Corporation side of the game we have a Jinteki deck and a HB Next Design deck built. Julie is exclusively playing the Jinteki deck which works pretty damn well. It's based around "flat lining" the runner by trying to simply do enough net damage to take them out of the game. The term "Jinteki Shell Game" has been tossed around at the store when others see the deck. My corp deck (Next Design) has been a lot of fun to play and was built primarily out of cards from the C&C set that just released. Next Design lets me install up to 3 pieces of ice from my hand before the game begins, then draw back up to a full hand to start the game. This can be a real benefit by giving me a 1 turn jump start to the game. I am also building it around getting out some really monster sized ICE that do a fair amount of brain damage to the runner and then Rezzing (activating) them for cheaper than thier normal cost. I am still tweaking the deck but it has been run to play overall.

Play Testing

That brings me to the last thing I have been doing lately. I am going to write in more general terms about this since it's still fairly hush-hush at the moment. I am involved in play testing a series new games for a game company that will remain nameless for now. I really enjoy play testing games and have been involved in doing so for a longer time than I had realized. I touched on some of why play testing and game development interested me in an earlier post but figured I would ramble a bit about it here in a more focused area.

I had my first experience play testing a game when I was in high school, something like 25 years ago (or so). I had been sneaking out to play D&D with a group of friends for years (throughout late elementary school and early highschool) and had met a new group of players through my group of friends. The new group invited me to try out a game they were in the final playtest of, a game called Shadowrun. I loved playing the game and the GM for the group sent all our feedback back to the writers and then we kept playing once the game was published. I have to admit that Shadowrun was one of my favorite RP settings and games to play, and I imagine part of that was being involved in the playtest for it with a good group. Overall the playtesting was not too intense as only the GM was really taking notes and providing feedback.

Years passed and I went on to graduate high school and join the US Army. During my time in the military I did a lot of gaming but no real testing overall. I did get involved in developing my own online MUD, fully customizing the available DIKU MUD software available through both the in game world and by teaching myself to code. I had a lot of fun running Towers MUD, and had a pretty solid set of players who logged in and enjoyed the world. This was a very different experience since instead of "play testing and providing feedback", when I saw something I wanted changed I would just change it, test it, and then fix what didn't work. There was as much to look at in the actual "how it works" on the code side as there was looking at balance of the components in the game.

As Towers MUD started to wind down a military friend of mine got invited to play test a new type of online game, an MMORPG.  He was able to get me invited to the beta play testing for Asherons Call and it was a blast. The Beta Test was a fairly late beta and was focused on balance testing the classes and monsters in the game, along with doing everything possible to try and "power level" through the classes to see if they were unbalanced or leveled too quickly. This was a great deal of fun and I was able to bring some of my MUD development experience to providing feedback for the game. This testing was very different from the other two areas of playtest as most of the interactions were monitored by the server so there was very little requirement for written feedback. We both logged into forums and provided our thoughts but most of the feedback was tracked through the debug code the developers had access to.

Asherons Call beta testing led me to become involved in a series of MMORPG testing including Asherons Call 2, Eve Online, Anarchy Online, and Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. All of these were very similar while having distinct elements of the individual games that worked differently. The longer time went on with my involvement with new games, and the advancement of the underlying architectures meant that less and less interaction with the actual developers was required from the testers. This culminated in a point in time when I was testing W:AR and found that while there was a forum available, much of the testing was really refining the code throught he debug information as the game vision and overall direction was well in hand and the developers were looking for a massive "bug scrub" more than anything else. This is not a bad thing, but it really created a situation where the play testers were primarily getting advanced play experience with the game instead of helping guide the direction through testing feedback.

As more time went on I moved from computer gaming to table top gaming as my primary hobby. I became more involved in Mini-Wargaming and moved through a variety of games as has been somewhat documented on the Gamers Lounge podcast. After playing Malifaux for a while I was invited to become involved in play testing with Wyrd. I have talked about this a bit on the podcast, with an entire episode dedicated to the play testing experience for Twisting Fates and Storm of Shadows. I was involved in other play tests for Wyrd as well (for varying lengths of time) including Puppet Wars, PW Unstitched, Showdown, and Malifaux 2E.

So, why is all this rambling so new in my mind and why do I want to write about it? As mentioned above, I am involved in a new set of play testing for a set of games for a new gaming company. Getting to sit down and play some new games, especially as the games are in early development stages. I have found that game development for both the new group and for Wyrd are run in a very similar style, which I have come to understand if similar for other Board/Tabletop/Card games. Basically there is a mechanism (form/email list/etc) to provide feedback and interact with the game developers very directly. This is helpful in not only refining how the game is played but also helping to test and provide insight/input into the game mechanics along with the "balance" of the individual game components. I am really enjoying getting a glimpse at the development and growth of new games while still bringing some of my experience to bear in helping refine how those games come together.

So I am sure at this point at least some of you want to know what I am testing currently. I will leave you with these couple snippets. First, it is a game that I have been able to play with my wife and daughters and we are all really enjoying it. Second, think euro-style board game. And lastly, Ants.

I will share more when I am able to.