Why So Zeerious?

by paet the pagan-gerbil27. September 2014 08:00

They all look alike to me

I couldn’t come up with a backstory for the Zees. I had so many ideas for them, drawing from many sources including my love of genetics and the Planet of the Apes series. I came up with something long and complex with pointless detail and it wasn’t even entertaining for me (and as you’ve seen elsewhere on this blog, my standards are fairly low). It occurred to me that the Zees are anarchic and unpredictable, they’re irresponsible and irreverent. They aren’t going to be honest about anything, much less their own history. They probably even stole their equipment, rather than look at all cohesive and organised. Every single one of them will end up giving a different account of who they are and where the come from, and laugh about the confusion caused.

Grrrr!

For the Zees, I went for a colour scheme inspired by The Joker. I put more orange in than purple because I wanted to differentiate them from the Z’zor team I already painted, but I think the three main colours match well.Tra-la!

The skin is Khemri Brown with a Flesh Wash (ancient GW paint), another highlight of Khemri Brown and some have a Dheneb Stone highlight. I found Dheneb Stone a bit difficult to highlight with because it is so strong with pigment (being a foundation paint, I guess) that it doesn’t have anything between ‘covers everything’ and ‘this is a wash’. The eyes were Eshin Grey. The orange was a practice run for my Nameless team – it works here, but I might need to do something else to get the effect I want on the Nameless. It was a Vermin Brown base with Squig Orange. The purple was Liche Purple with a Genestealer Purple highlight. Some of the models had a Tentacle Pink edge highlight, but I didn’t like the effect too much. The green was Snot Green, Orc Flesh Wash (again, an ancient GW wash), more Snot Green and Scorpion Green highlight.HIYAAAAA!

It still needs to be finished off with a highlight of yellow on the visors, and Incubi Darkness on the bases to cover my sloppy boot painting.Eye of the tiger!

This is the first team that I managed to name every member of it. It was always the plan to name the teams, but I find it a little difficult. This one was much easier! The line-up is:

  1. Benjamin
  2. Benchamin
  3. Benjummin
  4. Benzhamin
  5. Benchummin
  6. Benzhummin
  7. Benjimun
  8. Benchimun
  9. Benzhimun
  10. Benjamon

Tags: , , ,

Doombar League Part Two

by paet the pagan-gerbil20. September 2014 08:00

Game four was cancelled, as my scheduled opponent quit the league after his prior game. Since this is a structured league rather than a free-form one, the organiser decided to award all of his future matches as an average of his recorded ones. The upshot of this is that my monkeys got three experience increases (resulting in a Skill 4+ player!) and their first win of the season! Hooray!

Game Five – Josh’s S1 Corporation (team name unknown)

This was a nail-biting game – neither team’s coach managed to pass they coaching play rolls very often, and only three scores were made in the game. An early three-point lead completely failed to be matched by the Zees, the closest that they got was scuppered by the ball shattering as they got to the strike zone. They made it back by waiting for a human Striker to sprint all the way to the ball, before Running Interference onto the ball, flubbing the pick up and having it scatter (with a Fast Pitch event in play) way too far for the Striker to catch it.

Another Zee tried to Sucker Punch a human guard to turn him around but kept rolling 6’s, until the Guard was dead. Dead dead dead. Zees don’t normally kill things, so that monkey was very happy. And removing him from the board is even better than turning him around!

On the other hand, I lost two turns – once to trying to pick the ball up for my first action (and failing) and once because the ball launch landed on a prone Zee, bounced into the ref, bounced into a human Guard, bounced into another Zee who had no dice to catch it with – thus ending the rush before it even began.

It wasn’t until the final Zee rush that they finally scored, bringing the score back to zero and hoping to go into Sudden Death – however, there was one Corporation rush left and they got a single point to finish.

I really love it when a game comes down to the wire, and Josh is fun to play. I played him at the previous Bristol Megalofunotron tournament (also with Zees, he took Robots).

The Relegation Battle – CJ’s New England Patriorx (Marauders)

As I was now second from the bottom, I had to play a match against the second-place player in Division Two. If he won, we swapped places and if I won, I stayed where I was.

It turns out I was playing against CJ, from the last league. He’s still taking his Marauders except that his league team has hired Slippery Joan (all of his models are female Orcs… including the Jeerleader).

It was the tensest game yet, on both sides. I was in the lead (barely) for most of it, but the luck just wasn’t with me where I needed it. Four monkeys bit the dust, most of them had some unused experience but no ranks.

I managed to hold onto a draw for the final turn, but only had three players on the pitch. Slippery Joan started with the ball, and all she had to do was score… and did so. Easily. Game over by two points in Sudden Death, and with four simian corpses to recycle. Luckily, the underdog bonus managed to replace them all in time for the Ultimate season-ender!

And good luck to CJ in the second season, playing up in Division One!

Season Finale – the Ultimate Battle

We managed to get all five remaining players in Division One together for a massive Ultimate game – it was a good finish to the league, as we’d all played each other previously in the season. I actually wasn’t the massive underdog in this game, despite not having as many advances as the other players and suffering worse casualties throughout the league – I did have enough underdog bonus to max out my cards and hire an MVP for the game (the Praetorian).

The Praetorian was sent off early as I attempted a Sneak foul, and a massive pile up blocked much of the centre near our arm (I was sharing with Tom’s humans) with Sam’s Nameless taking on everything around them. Stu had hired the Enforcer for the game, and he flew around looking for a good place to smash things.

I did fairly well, scoring a few points and defending myself well (The Ball Shatters on Stu’s striker, after he’d committed the Enforcer to moving my defence and travelled from the far side of the pitch to a scoring position…) and once the Praetorian got back into the game, scored a few points in his zone (rather safely since there’s only one Ball Shatters in the game).

The Nameless managed to grab a landslide win, since monkeys can’t stop very much at the best of times and his guards had advanced a few ranks already. I did finish on 5 points though, so if I’d managed to grab the next turn somehow it would have been my chance to take the win – and would have been my first legitimate win of the season, just before I leave for Division Two!

What’s Next?

At the time of writing, Division Two haven’t played their final Ultimate game yet. I think there will be a short break – there’s a new player in the area who is interested in getting in on the league so we might be back up to 12 players again when Season Two starts.

The underdog rules are being changed for Season Two (trialled in the Ultimate game) that allow us to hire MVPs, coaching staff, cheerleaders etc as well as the free agents.

We’ve also got the opportunity to scrap the team and start again with a new one. I don’t think I’ll go that far – I’ve actually got a monkey with an extra rank, and almost the full complement of cards. It’ll be nice to follow them on a more long-term journey.

The Ultimate game also left us with huge piles of cash. I’m considering buying an MVP, but this is fraught with peril for Zees. They are vulnerable to ref check fouls, and takes away the point of playing a ridiculous team like the Zees if you actually hire a star player who is good at scoring. Maybe having a bruiser on the pitch would be a better idea, or maybe I’ll just stick with Riller to support the clones and provide some more power to the monkeys.

On with Season Two!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Star Trek Episode Autopsy - Where No One has Gone Before

by paet the pagan-gerbil4. August 2014 08:00

What can I say about this episode? Not a lot. It was fun!

It touched sideways on an argument between anecdotal evidence versus scientific evidence and scepticism. Kasinsky is arrogant but misguided, and although his actual changes are meaningless he has evidence to back him up. It isn’t mentioned in the episode, but based on the circumstances that the changes had an effect on the engines, we can say with certainty that if someone had taken his published findings and tried them on a starship without his (and more specifically, the Traveller’s) help, they would find nothing to back him up. Of course, given Kasinsky’s arrogance, he would put this down immediately to people not doing it right, only he is able to do it properly, and so on.

This technobabble sets a disturbing precedent...

Riker and Argyle (the early, bearded chief engineer – or ‘one of’ them) are the voices of scepticism putting Kasinsky down. They’ve analysed it from a scientific point of view and find errors with the reasoning. Kasinsky isn’t smart enough to answer these, and doesn’t have the core scientific value of trying to prove himself wrong, or testing under neutral conditions. That being said, Riker and Argyle appear hostile to Kasinsky but let him try anyway. They didn’t really have an opportunity to be anything but hostile, given Kasinsky’s general demeanour towards them – rude, condescending, dismissive of rank and disrespectful. I think the crew’s attitude is entirely justified. Actually, I think quietly stuffing him out of an airlock is entirely justified.

If Kasinsky is the only person who could make these changes work, is he planning to visit every starship and upgrade it personally? Did the other starships see continued improvement once the Traveller had left?

Like a cosmic hitch-hiker.

How did the Traveller end up with Kasinsky anyway? Kasinsky was investigating ways to get warp engines to run better. He presumably didn’t see results until the Traveller became his assistant, but how does a non-Starfleet person, a civilian, join a Starfleet research project? Was the Traveller involved in any research institute, hoping to hitch a lift on board starships? If his goal is to explore, finding Kasinsky seems like a roundabout way to do so. Maybe he only approached Kasinsky once there was a trial beginning to test his theories, or maybe Kasinsky was already doing his research on a travelling starship.

Other Captains

How would this have played on Deep Space Nine? They don’t  really have engines, just ‘reaction control thrusters’ to move the station nearer to the wormhole in the first episode. The Defiant is the only ship with a warp engine. I can see O’Brien wanting to punch Kasinsky for his attitude – considering how Kasinsky treats Commander Riker, I can’t see him appreciating O’Brien’s authority (as an NCO) or later in the series, Rom’s (as a Ferengi working for the Bajorans!) Worf would actually hit him. He would guard the Defiant's engine room with a bat'leth to stop Kasinsky getting near it (especially with knowledge of the Enterprise's encounter...)

That being said, I think Sisko would overrule any misgivings based on personal feelings (O’Brien and Rom can be petty) and allow the changes to be made. Kira would have broken his nose in about ten minutes – twenty in later series, when she mellowed out a bit.

Given that the Defiant is more for defence of the station and engine efficiency is not the key point of the Defiant (officially – escort vessel, design brief – to battle the Borg), as well as the fact that it has a really convenient way of getting halfway across the galaxy faster than Kasinsky’s changes – it’s probably end of the queue for any changes.

Janeway would not hesitate to do anything that might make her engines a little bit faster. B’elanna would punch Kasinsky in the face if he treated her as anything less than chief engineer (let’s not forget, she never finished the academy and is a wanted terrorist). Seven of Nine would definitely need a chat with Janeway before she’d even work with Kasinsky, after the first antisocial encounter. His enhancements would probably not match whatever Borg magic she pulled anyway. How Kasinsky gets to the Delta quadrant to offer these enhancements, I don’t know – if he’s an alien, maybe there’d be a little more scepticism and mistrust from the crew.

In the second half of the episode, the problem is not Kasinsky’s stinking attitude – it is getting the ship home safely. I can’t help but think that with the parallels between Wesley’s inherent understanding of space and Sisko’s inherent understanding of time (as the Emissary) could give the spark of realisation a little sooner – the Prophets would give a little hint, perhaps, but Sisko would lead everyone with varying degrees of reluctance depending on his acceptance of his Emissary status in believing themselves home. And Kira already has a belief you can power a starship with, that will be proven right here. Dax and O’Brien might find it more difficult, as Dax is a hardcore scientist, and O’Brien is a very literal person. That being said, he’d already lived through this somewhere on the Enterprise (although I don’t remember seeing him in the episode)…

One fun thing to imagine is how rich Quark would be once he saw that belief (and he has incredible belief in his own abilities as a businessman and entitlements as a person, even without adding Rom’s faith in him to that) becomes real. The look on his face when it all vanishes too, would be absolutely priceless.

Voyager was a much less spiritual show. I only see Chakotay as being the one to start ‘believing’ them home, and maybe the crew would go along with it? There are so many scientific, literal people on the ship it might be hard to generate enough good will past the scepticism. How would Tuvok fall on the issue? B’elanna believes what she sees, Seven even more so, Tom is naturally cynical of everything and Harry questions everything. Janeway has a scientific scepticism – I remember one episode where she could not progress until she accepted something that wasn’t scientifically sound or reasonable, and spent days looking for the ‘trick’. So much of Voyager took beliefs, such as Chakotay’s, and any number of Delta Quadrant aliens and reduced them to an explainable, scientific curiosity. Could the crew then get behind an apparently unscientific belief?

That’s not why I don’t like thinking about Voyager facing this situation though. The reason I don’t like it is because they will be moved to the furthest galaxy we know, and I know they would be returned to exactly where they began, give or take a month’s travel. The whole episode would be entirely pointless and not cut any time off of Voyager’s journey at all.

Conclusion

Nice strong episode, no science to trip them up and a good example of ‘there’s amazing things out there that we don’t understand’, a bit of optimism about humanity’s future, I liked it. The background story of Wesley being someone special is begun here, and I’ll try to remember to watch out for more indicators of this beyond the child prodigy he normally displays.

It’s also a good example of Wesley saving the ship without causing the problem in the first place. His role, like Deanna’s in The Last Outpost, is a little understated – he just pays attention and tries to get people to watch the Traveller and see what is happening.

  • Times Wesley saved the ship: 2
  • Times flung out of known space by bizarre entity: 1

Tags: , , , ,

Doombar League - Games One to Three

by paet the pagan-gerbil9. July 2014 08:00

After the Vanguard Wargaming store closed permanently, the Bristol Vanguard club found a new home at the Old Duke pub in the centre. The parking is slightly harder but the public transport is much easier.

Also, it was time for a third league! This one is more organised than previous ones – the pairings are fixed, there is a two week time limit to get the game in, and while friendlies are allowed they won’t gain XP or cash. There are twelve teams split into two divisions, with a promotion/relegation mechanic at the end of a number of rounds. It’s also possible to permanently hire MVPs, although I’m not sure that I’ll ever get the money to be able to afford Riller (the only one worth taking for the Zees).

I took the Zees again to this one – I think in a league setting, with a bit of development, they can really shine. They’re obviously not as easy to play as some other teams but the victories are much, much sweeter.

Round One – vs Sam’s Nameless

Things started alright, in the first few turns I managed to avoid injury or sending off, and even scored a three-pointer! The tables quickly turned though and by the fifth rush I only had three players on the pitch. This is very, very bad. The score was only one point down for me, but with so few monkeys around it didn’t look good. It was at this point that I started to remember to roll for Monkey Business dice…

I brought the score back up to three points but the slow trickle of players back from the injury bench wasn’t going well. On top of that, Sam’s luck was coming back and he began to kill players – three had gone off the field by the end of the game. He took the score three points into his favour, and there was nothing I could do on the last turn to even mitigate that slightly.

So, Sentient Being of the Match went to a Nameless Sticky Guard and three Zee clones were recycled. I’ve decided to only replace one of them and buy an Offensive Coach – maybe that can help get me the scores when it looks good and call Defensive plays if it doesn’t. I’ll have to replace those missing Zees at some point – I’m only one credit away from getting another Zee which would bring me back to nine on the roster, and hopefully in my next game I can get at least back to the starting ten.

Game Two vs Stu (Pale Marys, S2 Corporation)

Having gone back to the clone farm to pick up a new recruit and hiring an assistant coach (offensive), the team went on to the next fixture - the Pale Marys, on top of the first division after round one.

Being an underdog, I got a Nameless guard (sticky) as a free agent to help out. The danger with free agents in a Zee team is that they might be sent off, but I was lucky this time around. A sticky guard is a really great addition to a Zee team, especially one that is down a couple of players.

The game went OK (no-one died, on either side) and my strong-Zee picked up more experience as my only score of the game but I still lost by 4 points. The sticky guard really shook things up and I think it used it to best effect. I didn't Slam much, but he as able to hold players in place and prevent the human guard from causing too much damage.

The final turn, I had the choice of a 3 point score to lose by one (on two dice), or a four point score to get a draw (on one dice). I figured a draw was infinitely better than a loss, and a loss by one isn't much better than a loss by four. Having thought about it since, maybe the minor loss would have been better for the league tie breakers, but any chance at a win should have been taken (even though I still had the unfinished problem with scoring again in Sudden Death...) because that's Dreadball!

With my underdog 'winnings', I replaced another of my clones to put me back at 9 players. I'd like to buy some cards, but at the speed the Zees go out of the game I need plenty of spares.

Game Three vs Tom (Woolwich Armourers, S1 Corporation)

Going into the third game, I was bottom of the league thanks to my 'risk it all' attitude in the last game. I picked up an Asterian Guard as a Free Agent, which could be useful.

The game was very close, Tom was very good at keeping players off of the pitch and rolling good ref checks. The Asterian guard used their Dirty Tricks twice (thanks to a card) while a Vigilant Ref was in play but only managed to send one player off.

I managed to get the ball to the far end a few times, but Tom had great use of Running Interference cards to block me whenever I looked close to scoring. On the other hand, he failed an appalling number of pick-ups, catches and throws. Incredibly good luck with his good plays, and incredibly bad luck on the game-winning ones.

Picking up tons more cash thanks to the underdog bonus (17mc!) I now have a choice between buying cards or players. I do find that with only nine players I am finding it hard to keep more than six on the pitch at a time, but I also need the additional cards to give me more options in the turn. In the end, I decided on a bit of both - one card and one Jack.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Cardiff League – Conclusion

by paet the pagan-gerbil25. June 2014 08:00

My first four games in the league have been good so far – my first experiences against the Robots at the top of the rankings, which I think may have been orchestrated to get me a head-start on income since I was inheriting a poor, downtrodden team with no experience. This catapulted me to a high enough team ranking that I couldn’t get MVPs or Free Agents any more, and the second two games (Corporation and Teratons) ended in wins to the monkeys.

I’ve missed one game so far, the player has been MIA from the Facebook page and the club and everyone seems to be waiting on them for a game (that explains why ‘weeks five to nine’ would be five games, not four…).

Game 5 – Home vs the Wrong-Tech 69ers (S1 Corporation)

This game went awfully for my opponent. I actually managed to turn up in person, intending to play someone else but I ended up playing one of my missed games from a previous week since I could start a little earlier and be sure to catch the train.

Having twelve Zees available really helped, but I wasn’t able to get all of them on the pitch at the same time. My luck was up exactly when I needed it and two Zees scored 4-pointers. The cheerleader was placed on the score track again but was never used, and I ended up scoring a landslide in the thirteenth rush. Luke managed to score a three pointer, killed a Zee and injured a couple of others. That got his Guard the Strength upgrade he was holding out for and his Striker (already a superstar) getting on the cusp of another rank. The underdog bonus also favoured him, getting almost twice as much in income as I got!

The End?

At this point, a ‘break’ was announced and an offer for someone else to run the league for a while. I had two more opponents to play, but having altered my hours slightly in work I was finding it harder to get to the club and one of those opponents has been completely absent for a while. It looks like momentum has dropped out of this league as well, and the results haven’t even gone up.

Conclusions

I found this league more enjoyable than the previous leagues I’ve played in. The big difference is that instead of being a completely open format, the Pathfinder running it was very hands-on. You could play friendlies, but the league games were set at a rate of one per week, and it was arranged for you. I’m not sure whether this was randomly determined of the ‘remaining matches’ or if there was an algorithm to determine who was best placed. It was good for me coming in late to play against a team as far as ahead as the robots I played, because the underdog bonus catapulted me ahead.

The other nice thing was the pace. Both leagues were double-round-robin leagues, but where the Cardiff league set your matches for you one a week it gave an incentive to arrange and play the game. In Bristol, I was on the forum every week saying what days I was free and getting very few replies.

The only downside is the way that this league has ended – much the same as the previous ones I’ve been in, the momentum fizzled out (in Bristol, who knows why and in Cardiff, because the organiser took a break). In both of them there was no end, no event, nothing to mark the league as ‘over’ at all. Even in the Bristol leagues where the ‘last day to play’ was announced, it was after the league was already unofficially over and the date came and went with nothing really happening at all.

So what are you going to do about it?

Well, I don’t know if I can play a league in Cardiff again. It’s not easy to fit around family and travel and things. I enjoy the team progression of a league format – the standard 120TR tournament format is nice, but there’s no growth from game to game. There’s no feeling of ‘ooh, my star player just levelled up again’ or ‘let the rookie take the shot’.

I might even start a long-form league between friends, since we can get together for a day and play a few games together it should be possible to make a lot of progress in short bursts.

Tags: , , , ,

Welsh Regional Tournament 2014

by paet the pagan-gerbil11. June 2014 08:00

There wasn’t really any way that I could miss this one, as last year’s winner. It almost looked like it had been cancelled too, as the local Pathfinder was no longer able to run it. I was offered the opportunity to both run it and play, and as I was planning on being there anyway it seemed like a simple enough deal!

I wouldn’t need to do any of the tricky stuff like arranging a venue, sorting tickets or prizes or anything like that, just sort out who plays who in each round and give out the toys at the end (provided by Mantic, given to me at the Open Day). In addition, since I was still allowed to play (and win – I checked).

This helped to decide my team for me – I was dithering between Nameless and Zees, since I’ve used them both this year and enjoyed them, but the Zees are quite a complex team and if I was going to be called by anyone else for rules queries, I didn’t want to have to cut a game short with my current opponent in order to answer a rules query for someone else. Not a lot of people have played with or against the Zees, and not everyone has the Season Three book, so quite a few people are unfamiliar with the way that they play and all their odd rules – they’d be likely to cause rules queries, and I didn’t want there to seem to be a conflict of interest. Finally, a Zees game can take a while (more rules, more decisions, less ability to score) and I wanted to have time to go around and take pictures, collect results and get the next round sorted out as early as possible. With all that involved, I figured the best choice was to take the Nameless. They have fairly well-known rules already, their errata and FAQ are very simple, no strange Running Interference, Teleport or Dirty Tricks to annoy people with obscure rulings, timings and loopholes.

Game One – Dan’s Brigstowe Raiders (S1 Corporation)

I started off well with a rematch of last week’s game in the Azure Forest tournament at the Open Day. This went much more my way with good rolls, and I hit a landslide win to take the game. I even managed to kill two models, putting on top in points, strike difference, kills and cheers!

Game Two – Oli’s Saltford Slappers (S2 Corporation)

My lead didn’t last long – Oli plays Running Interference perfectly, and held up all of my strike attempts. He did manage to take a win, putting him in the lead overall.

My Game Two

Game Two - Dan vs Andy

Game Three – Andy’s Arkham Harleyquinns (S2 Corporation)

I first played Andy back at the Bristol Megalofunotron, and he was the only player at the Welsh Regional who hadn’t come from Bristol! He travelled up from Exeter. He was even hotter on the Running Interference than Oli was, and took a landslide win in turn five.

Seeing as three of the four teams were painted by me and I was the organiser, I decided against giving a prize to 'best painted'.

I was feeling bashy on the day - this player saw a lot of action!

 

Game Four – Dan’s Brigstowe Raiders (S1 Corporation)

As there were only four players, we had to duplicate our results and I ended up playing Dan again for the final game. Again, I managed to take a landslide win – and so early, that we started off a friendly game – swapping sides to try out the opposite teams.

Oli gets serious for the last game, after being told it wasn't yet cut and dry victory...

Dan has a habit of doing this to people...

The moment where Andy cemented his win in all tie-break categories, just to be sure...I've heard from so many people that DreadBall tournaments are the friendliest around - I have to agree! Everyone had so much fun, winning and losing.

Results

It was slightly disappointing having a small field again, it would have been nice to have some of the guys from the Cardiff League turn up but unfortunately it was left a little unconfirmed until about three weeks before (hence my being drafted in to keep things running).

I managed to pull third place, Dan unfortunately had last (losing every game, as compared to his standing in the Open Day tournament). Oli and Andy were so close going into the last game that if it was a draw, Oli had won. If Andy won by two points or more, he had won. It went backwards and forwards all game, it could have gone either way.

It came right down to the last couple of dice of the game, and time ran out… It finished with three points to Andy, and his strike difference won the tie-breaker. In fact, cheers would have been identical if the final event of the game wasn’t ‘Bored Fans’, losing a fan check card and putting Andy on top there too.

It was a fantastic day, it was nice that everyone had a chance to play everyone else even though it was a low turnout. We all had a good laugh, the final game on the ‘top’ table was good and nail-biting (as is only proper).

I didn't get any sort of spoon, there were too many other prizes. Seasons One and Two for the loser!

Second place, and Oli chose the Season Three book to complete his set.

One champion hands over his title to the next... see you next year, Andy!

Tags:

Azure Forest Tournament May 2014

by paet the pagan-gerbil24. May 2014 08:00

I was pretty disappointed that the Open Day in May didn’t originally have a DreadBall tournament planned. The Open Day last year was the first tournament I’d ever been to, and got us both into the tournament thing. When first announced, they said ‘bring a team – get a few pick-up games.’ Coming from Bristol, it’s a pretty long way to go since we don’t play Kings of War, Deadzone, or any of the other Mantic games and we’re not likely to pick up new toys on impulse. Three hours drive each way, a B&B and getting babysitters for the weekend are just too much for a seminar which may talk about the games we’re really interested in and a look at the shiny DreadBall Xtreme models currently in development.

So when they finally announced the tournament at the event, I was over the moon. The fact that it’s an Azure Forest tournament is even better, as I like the changes it introduces. We may still miss the seminars (like we have previously) but I think they did a good job last time of trying to give everyone the chance to attend, and I’ve heard that this year there’s a seminar specifically for event participants timed around the games so we should be able to have a look this time.

The Gang

In the 2013 ManticBowl, Jen and I went on our own. For the November Charity Tournament, we managed to drag Oli up to Nottingham too. This May, Oli was busy but we convinced Dan and Chris to come along with us. Both are new to DreadBall, have played a couple of games each, and convinced they are going to come last but at least only one of them can! At the last second, Jen got ill and wasn’t able to attend – but the other three of us were on our way.

Dan took the S1 Corporation team (the one Jen usually takes, since he had practiced with those and Jen wasn’t using them) and Chris took the Judwan, as he figured using a team of all Strikers would be less to remember. I painted up a Nameless team, putting my faith in extra ranks rather than cards. I put an ability on two Strikers (hoping to get Skill 3+) and an ability on each of my Sticky Guards (hoping to get 360 Vision, so I can sit them in the three-point Strike zone as a super-defender). Without cards, I’ll be vulnerable against bad weather events but hopefully that will be as much of a hindrance to my opponent.

Game One – Adam Cooper’s Crimson Corpse Creators (Marauders)

Adam and I have an Open Day history – we played in the first ManticBowl (I beat him by a landslide), the Gamers For Life charity tournament (I beat him), and we were drawn first in this tournament. He took his Marauders again, and for the majority of the game the weather was ‘heat haze’ that lets us get away with fouls. Despite that, neither of us had to foul to get the advantage. My luck was awful here – I flubbed pick-ups, evades, dashes, and when I got there – strike attempts too. The game ended at a one point loss to me.

Game Two – Dan’s S1 Corporation

My second opponent, and again someone I’ve played before (since I taught him the game and brought him with me…) Again, my luck was foul. Dan managed to get me six points down – I pulled it back with a four-pointer. He jumped up to five points… I pulled it back to two… he got back to four points, and there we sat on his last turn. I’d just failed a strike attempt, so the ball was in the high-scoring zone with my Striker. He slammed me, I doubled the dodge and stepped onto the ball. Doubled the pick-up, threw the strike, and pulled it back to another one point loss in his turn (for a couple more fan checks). Still, not making great progress in the tournament.

Game Three – Charlotte’s Veer-myn

I met Charlotte at the 2013 Nationals back in March, but hadn’t played her. She’s the only other Veer-myn player that I’ve seen in a tournament, and was able to match me bad roll for bad roll. This was the first game that I rolled skill upgrades for my Strikers, so I was able to score quite easily. I killed a Guard and managed to get a landslide win! Quite a reverse from my other fortunes today.

Game Four – Nick’s Judwan

We suffered for most of the game with a Scorcher weather effect in play. It forced me to make more slams, and with less players, he was unable to use all five tokens most turns. It started off tit-for-tat scoring, but we both failed a few and I was getting my guards up to the full 3-pt defence to try and get some more opportunities. In the last couple of turns, I killed four Judwan – clearing out that nasty defence, failing every strike up there, and taking a two-point loss.

Conclusion

So with a barely-positive strike difference, I wasn’t anywhere near the top. There were 7/8/9 players total, probably because of the Open Day, Kings of War game, Deadzone campaign, Loka tournament, and everything else happening. Several people I’d seen playing previously were also working as Pathfinders on the day, so there’s some more potential players out.

I don’t think my plan was too bad, but the dice failed me on the day. I didn’t work hard enough to push my guards to the back to open my opponents defence, or maybe I need to write off the first couple of turns to just smash my opponent’s scoring potential. I’m still not sure I’ve worked out how to use the Nameless – or bashy teams in general – yet.

The overall winner was also using Nameless, and there was a third somewhere around that I hadn’t seen. Chris managed to take away the Wooden Spoon prize – a Rebs Starter Box for Deadzone!

The Open Day

I walked around the Open Day, but I didn’t really dip into anything other than the tournament. I went to the ‘tournament players’ scheduled seminar and heard a lot about Dwarf King’s Hold, but didn’t get into anything else. I had a quick chat with many people I’d seen at previous Open Days, which is great fun, and picked up the prizes for the Cardiff Regional next week. I was also just about coming down with something nasty that knocked me out of work for three days, so I think that affected my enjoyment on the day – I was exhausted, I didn’t bother taking any pictures (after promising myself that I would) and didn’t make the time to try anything out (Project Pandora and Deadzone were high on my list to sample between games). If I’d known the seminar would be dominated by Dwarf King’s Hold, I might have gone for another game or to have a better look at the ‘studio’ – a table with painter, sculptor, and lots of unfinished/pre-release models. I really regretted not talking to the Mantic painter, but didn’t realise this till later when I had the time to run the day through my brain and work out what I’d missed.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sinister Statue Skirmish

by paet the pagan-gerbil10. May 2014 08:00

I finally got around to playing a game of Warhammer with the new Dark Elves, against my regular opponent (once every year or two is regular, right?) with his Warriors of Chaos. We made it 3000 points, to get a few neat toys in, and stuck with the Pitched Battle to keep things simple.

We managed to remember a good deal of the rules between us, and everything just seemed to work the way that I intended. I took a horde of 30 Corsairs with a Battle Standard Bearer, a horde of 30 Witch Elves with the Cauldron of Blood, 10 Cold One Knights, 21 Black Guard, 3 Bolt Throwers, some crossbowmen and a Death sorceress (level 2), a Kharibdyss and finally Morathi as the general.

I was up against a Tzeentch force led by Vilitch the Curseling – there were some knights, a Fire wizard, two units of warriors, some Forsaken and Marauder Horsemen, a chariot, a Mutalith Vortex Beast, some Warhounds and a Hellcannon.

We placed a Bretonnian ruin, and grabbed a Buddy Christ dashboard ornament to sit inside it – flicking through the rulebook, this was designated a Sinister Statue and we completely forgot to roll for it about 30 seconds later. Still, it looked good.

On my left flank, the Warhounds kept running, rallying, regrouping, and running again from the Kharibdyss. By the time I got the hint and pulled it back to deal with other threats, it was almost too late to reach anything. It’s last action was to declare a charge against the Warriors with the Fire wizard, who fled right off the table. It never saw combat.

Morathi was extremely powerful. I took Dark magic, to get the maximum benefit, and loved the fact that all the little things that should work together did. The Hellcannon focused on destroying the Black Guard, while Morathi snuck behind the tightly packed lines and successfully cast Shroud of Despair. Just outside of the effect, the Cold One Knights destroyed the Chaos Chariot easily – causing a panic test in the Marauder Horsemen who were inside the Shroud’s bubble. The following turn,  another unit caused a panic test over there, and the effect just kept stacking… At the same time, outside of the effect, my Death wizard cast Doom and Darkness on the Chaos Knights while the bolt throwers caused casualties enough to make them run off. They probably would have gone off of the table, if I hadn’t taken Doom and Darkness off of them at that point, thinking it could do more good elsewhere.

It didn’t all go well for me – the Witch Elves were charged by the Vortex Beast, and dragged out of the way of being able to slam the fleeing Chaos general’s unit in the flank, Morathi was charged by the Hellcannon and needed to be rescued by the Cold One Knights, the Black Guard crumbled to the Forsaken and the Corsairs fell to the other unit of Warriors, who overran into a bolt thrower.

The Forsaken moved onto the Witch Elves, but they were destroyed in short order. Once the Hellcannon was dealt with, the Cold Ones charged Vilitch’s unit (now rallied) and broke it (even though Morathi’s second Shroud failed) and the Chaos Knights charged Morathi. The game was called at that point, as I still had more than half of my army and there was only the Warhounds and 2 Chaos Knights left, but I insisted that we finish the turn and the Chaos Knights finished Morathi off with that, so it wasn’t a complete rollover.

I think the main boost in that game was the Shroud of Despair scattering and disorganising the Chaos lines, and being pleasantly surprised that Morathi isn’t too bad in combat. In particular, her Leadership test for Enchanting Beauty (designed to be failed) along with the Shroud of Despair (everyone suffers from failing Leadership tests) means that you could end up with a big penalty to a unit’s Leadership, for crossbows or bolt throwers to force a panic test in.

On the Warriors side, the Chaos knights did alright to kill Morathi (even with that crippling penalty), and the Hellcannon did impressive damage against the Black Guard in a single shot. I think the top unit had to be the Warhounds for getting the Kharibdyss out of the game, essentially, and being the only Chaos unit to not suffer a single wound.

So what do I think of the new Dark Elves? The magic I used was mostly the subtle stuff, but in concert with other effects it was devastating. Getting everything lined up, in the right place and at the right time, might be a challenge if the opponent knows what is coming though. Murderous Prowess was a nice bonus, and occasionally gave me an extra wound, but nothing special. Always Strikes First is a massive boost, much better than Hatred was in the previous version. The Dark Magic lore attribute was too difficult to remember, and feels a little weak for what it does. Maybe if I wasn’t using Morathi, I’d be throwing more dice at spells and then would be doing a little more with it, but by the time I remembered that ‘hey, I have a lore attribute!’ I only cast a couple more small spells and didn’t get a double or triple to trigger it.

I wasn’t too impressed with the Cauldron of Blood. It’s a nice Ward save for the Witch Elves, and makes them a little more deadly in combat, but I didn’t get into any big units to really try that out in this game. It’s a very expensive way of boosting Witch Elves as well, being 200+ points of Hero allocation. In a smaller game, I don’t know that I could justify it.

Next time, I would either repeat the Shroud of Despair with a Bloodwrack Shrine nearby to try and really force the issue, or I’ll replace the ‘powerful wizard’ magic with some Doomfire Warlocks, and completely swap the subtle stuff for the big blasty stuff. Hopefully, the next game will be less than 12 months away…

Tags: , , ,

Serenity RPG – Part One

by paet the pagan-gerbil26. April 2014 08:00

Our group is taking a break from the ‘Four Islands’ RuneQuest game, and a new GM is trying out a new system – the Firefly RPG. The other players had created characters the previous week, and the ones that turned up on the first ‘real’ session were: Dave Cocknocker, a fightin’ sort; Hammy, a slightly weird type; Bacon, a decent pilot (good friends with Hammy – both grew up on Persephone); and a cleric whose name escapes me.

I rushed through my character creation since I’d been warned it can take a while. I asked what characters they had and what they needed – we had a medic and engineer on top of the ones above, but those players weren’t there. The one thing that no-one had taken was the leader, the captain. So I slipped into that one and grabbed a quick but focussed build – I’m fair with guns (specialising in the exotic energy weapons), but not a fighter. I put many points into Influence – both Leadership and Persuasion, with high Intelligence and Willpower.

As my Assets, I chose Leadership (I can give people a bonus if they are working towards my stated goal) and Steady Calm (should come in handy to maintain control in a panic situation) – both minor. I was given two minor complications – Traumatic Flashes (I may lose control while I relive a terrifying memory) and Greedy (mo’ money, yo).

Since I was greedy, I put a few points into Gambling – if I ever get the chance to play Poker, then a high Persuasion (for bluffing) and a good Gambling should give me a fair shake.

So without further ado (or the time to think up a decent name – I’ve gone with ‘Not Mal’ and the nickname ‘Sir’), we began our first session!

Our crew was meeting for the first time on Persephone. They had met on a Cortex hub (OKCrewpid) and some of us had bought shares in a ship – a Firefly class vessel with nice sensors and a full tank o’ fuel. There’s enough fuel for 16 days flying and food for a month. A box had been delivered to the ship – inside was a lady cleric. Dave and Hammy had no immediately obvious skills, so I expect them to pay their way at some point and in the meantime to do the heavy lifting tasks.

Introductions out of the way, we checked the local Cortex for available jobs. There’s only one worth our time – a chap called Randall Lee wants a box delivered to Londinium (an Alliance world near the core), for 50K credits. Bacon stayed with the ship while Dave and I headed to meet Mr Lee and try to find out more about the job.

The box is 6ftx4ftx4ft, approximately 90kg, wooden, no special transport requirements, and a ‘no-open’ clause (payment is reduced to 25% if it’s opened). Sounds very much like it contains a small human.

Being a jolly persuasive fellow, and Mr Lee having extremely low Willpower, the terms of the job were renegotiated. 56K for delivery, 50% if it’s opened, and 30K bonus if we make it in 5 days (Bacon had plotted a course that would take 4 days).

When the ‘negotiators’ got back to the ship, they found that the Alliance had sent some ‘blue-hands’ over to inspect it and to advise the crew that there were pirates operating between Persephone and Londinium. They left without incident when the crate arrived, along with all the papers that we’d need for passage and landing and so on.

Despite dire warnings, we actually made it to Londinium without meeting any pirates. We did salvage a small crate of high-grade protein foods which should be good for some cash out on the rim worlds. We also landed on time without any problems, delivered the crate to the Alliance Security centre and got paid. We were not allowed back to the ship though, and everyone had to follow the guards and goons (of which there were dozens and dozens!) to a small office. After a short while, we were released back to the ship.

As we approached the ship, we spotted a guard leaving our ship on his own. Since there were no other guards around, we ‘coerced’ him back onto the ship once Hammy had told us that he wasn’t really a guard, and was trying to rob us (though just opportunistically, not targeting us specifically). And so we had a prisoner! Stripped naked and interrogated, we intended to turn him in for a meagre bounty when we got back to Persephone. However, he suggested we decided to keep him on board (tied up in the airlock) when he tipped us off that we’d been double-crossed and our payment had vanished!

We immediately suspected Randall Lee of doing something dodgy, so devised a plan to get our money back. He was well known as a gambler and mule-racer (the little quad-bike, not the donkey thing) so we challenged him anonymously to a race. While preparing for the race we realised that he was unguarded in the shed with his winning Mule, so we dropped a Stun grenade through the window and kidnapped him, and stole the Mule.

As is our standard procedure when interrogating prisoners, we stripped him naked and put him in the airlock (our other prisoner was cuffed to a table in a shuttle, out of the way) and interrogated him while Bacon put us in orbit around Persephone.

It turns out that even though we robbed the poor sod blind (I have a new hat and laser pistol, as well as the contents of his wallet) he had also been double-crossed by Ton Ting, the Pirate King, who had given him the job (that he farmed out to us) in the first place. We had to take on the Pirate King to get our cash back.

Ton Ting’s base (or lair, if you will) is on an abandoned asteroid mining station between Persephone and Londinium (hence all the pirate raids). We took the ship in close (but hidden), and flew a shuttle off to the asteroid. We landed in secret, thanks to our cleric’s covert operations training, and undetected by the guards nearby.

And so we wait for the next session to assault the Pirate king base…

Tags: , ,

The Four Islands: Part Four

by paet the pagan-gerbil12. April 2014 08:00

When last we met, the party were sailing away from Ogre-land to rescue the captive boy-king Uther of the Bretons from Drow/Drannei.

Shortly after setting off, Captain Rengrave changed our course away from the Drannei ships towards the island of Sanctuary to get some help from the wise man there (who may or may not be a wizard, magic being illegal nudge-nudge wink-wink). He couldn’t join us as he sort of stole a sword from the wise man; we discovered later that this sword belongs to the King of the Bretons and that Rengrave had given it to Uther. So it’s not completely stealing.

The Island of Sanctuary is full of hippies who don’t enforce rules as stringently as other nations and this makes it a prime location for pirates (like our dwarf Ungrud) to visit and trade. That being said, it’s not a thriving metropolis or a bustling port or any other cliché, instead it’s a rather sleepy little village.

The wise man told us that the Drow had probably taken the boy because the Island of Lost Time can only be entered by a prince or king of virtue and that being only 12, Uther was probably virtuous enough. First, he would be taken to the Drow capital in order for them to ascertain his virtue. What they want with the Island of Lost Time is a complete mystery, and we were referred to the one person who claimed to have been there – an ex-associate of Ungrud, to whom Ungrud owed about two ships-worth of gold. Ungrud declined to join us in our interrogations. We were also left with a couple of zen statements – “when there is no time, there is always time” and the like.

In the pub, we found our adventuring dwarf who was only too happy to give up information. Apparently, the island appeared frozen in movement. Clouds moved overhead but no wind was felt, branches on trees did not shift and nothing moved on it’s own. No sounds. At night, the dead moved and watched him, with lips sewn shut, accompanied by faceless beings. He believes that they didn’t attack because of an amulet that he had, and freely gave to us (mentioning that wearing it felt like it took part of his essence). We left the amulet in our bags and headed back to the ships.

The only place to land on the Drow island was a place called Safe Landing. It had a temple on stilts that looked like a boat, dedicated (so a plaque said) to ‘The Only God’. Not a good sign to people with as varied a pantheon as us. We followed the river to the capital, and en route were ambushed by ten camel riders. We hunkered behind our horses, and defended ourselves well (while trying to retrieve my war boomerang, I ended up leading two riders on a jolly chase where one fumbled and threw themselves to the ground to be trampled later) while the dwarfs and single human cut down the remainder.

As we looted the bodies, the sun set rapidly. We set a watch and a camp, and used looted blankets to keep warm in the cold desert night. During the night, we were awoken by a crowd of people who could apparently see in the darkness. We were invited to their camp for the night, guided by a ‘skrillfex’ – a fox that they call their ‘day guide’. After a nice sleep in a comfortable yurt we did some investigating. The yurt was being guarded by two blindfolded men, and we learned about this tribe from a foreign mercenary called Tankred. He explained that these are the night people, and they never take their blindfolds off in the day. They are not fans of the Drannei, but would not help us recover the boy. Instead he directed us South, over the river, to a temple where we might find help.

The temple was a large, magnificent structure with domes and minarets, and many pillars all made of marble. Inside, the floor was covered in sand and as we walked across it, a small dervish whirled up in front of us and formed into a Djinn, who attacked. We defeated the Djinn and were greeted by the priestess of the temple who informed us that we had ‘passed the test’.

We were given a guide to aid us, who had taken a vow of silence – but seemed to have a pad of paper, so that wasn’t too bad. On our way through an abandoned and partially buried village, we took shelter from a sandstorm for the night. During that night, I had an odd dream… I woke up in the room as it would have appeared long before, when it was populated. I looked in a mirror, but the reflection was gone. Out of the window, I saw a beautiful city filled with life. A woman came into the room and started pouring water, and said “Find us” – but did not interact with me, or show any sign that she knew I was there.

Outside of the building, I tried to get breakfast from a market seller but my hands went through everything and he didn’t seem to know I was there. I headed to the nearest baths, and there saw Neptune. As a devout worshipper of the sea god (makes sense for a sailor), I genuflected and kneeled before him. He told me to bring time back to this place – time was taken, and time has to be brought back. It appears to be a spear with an hourglass scribed on the point.

Waking up, I explained the whole thing and am filled with a holy purpose. It’s not every day that one’s god gives them a mission personally! Our guide showed us an underground cavern filled with granite statues that looked exactly like the people I had seen in the dream. There were also hundreds of soldiers, all in granite. Our guide asked us (through passed notes) if we felt older (apparently, we did), and that we should leave immediately.

Resuming our journey to the capital to get the boy (who can go to the Island of Lost Time, being a prince of virtue, where we think we can find the spear), we are ambushed by desert warriors. Ungrud wandered off towards a mirage, I was trapped by bolas, the Ogre merchant fell into a ditch and our rigger was almost attacked by a bandit… who fumbled, and stayed underground, apparently. It took us a while to take them all out, one even continuing to fight after losing a leg (completely chopped off, fell on the floor, bleeding heavily, etc etc).

I’ll finish this off with a guest recap from one of our party, an elf (not me) that has unfortunately missed most of our sessions – may not have turned up since before we got to the Ogre capital!

Here we go!

Our intrepid heroes wandered the desert for many days, looking for a way out. They were tired and hungry and more than a little bit mad when they came across a strange sight indeed.
Sat before them, atop a small mound of rock, topped with the symbol of th e god of time, was a fat, bald man, who looked to be in his twenties. Around him were similar mounds of rock, each with a different holy symbol above it. In front of the man were bowls containing assorted nibbles. Some of the nibbles had been nibbled.
"Who are you?" Asked an adventurer.
The bald man replied; "I am... actually, I can't remember my name."
“Deckard Cain… that’s  a name…”  Mused one of the adventurers.
“What?”
“Oh, nothing…”
The  heroes turned back to the bald man.  "Why are you here?" Asked  one, curious.
"In my youth, I murdered a man for sleeping with my wife, and then I murdered my wife for being unfaithful. Now I seek atonement from my god." Answered the bald man.
"How long have you been here?" Asked a third adventurer.
"Enough with the questions! If  you must know, it's been 100 years, 10 months and 11 days... do you want the minutes?"
"No, no..! 100 years? Bloody hell, mate, you look good for your age."
"Yeah, well, my people are immortal, you see, on account of them worshipping time and all that."
"That's pretty cool. From whence do you hail, oh bald man?" Asked a forth adventurer.
The bald man looked at him wearily, clearly tired of this incessant questioning. "I'm from Niceass. It's a lovely city in the desert." His eyes glazed over as he recall ed his home town with longing.
The adventurers looked at each-other, in uncertainty. One piped up, "Er... bald man..?"
"What is it?" Snapped the bald man, "I'm not used to visitors, y'know. I do hope you'll all bugger off soon, so I can enjoy the afterno on sun in peace."
"Well it's just... You see..."
"Out with it, man! I don't have all day, you know! This atonement business is busy work!"
"You might as well just tell him," said another adventurer.
"Look. Your town's dead. Everyone is dead. Niceass is a dead town. It's been dead for ages. Dead."
The bald man sat in shocked silence for a few minutes.
"Way to break it to him gently..." One of the adventurers muttered. 
There was some shifting of feet.
"Right. Well... Bugger."
[Later that day, the group stands once again before the bald man with no name.]
"Well he clearly gets his food from somewhere..."
"Yeah, a bunch of dark elves drop it off every week." Chipped in the bald man, munching a mushy banaramitz.
"Right, so we j ust wait here for a bit. Follow the elves back... get the girl and hightail it out of there."
"Boy,"  came a voice from the back.
"What?"
"Boy. Get the boy and hightail it out of there."
"Since when has any story been about rescuing a boy?"
"Look, I don't write them, okay? I'm just here, in the desert, with a pocket full of mouldy bananaramitz and sunburn, just like the rest of you."
"Mouldy banan... you've still got your bananaramitz??"
"Yeah..!"
"Damn... I wondered what that stink was..."
Most of the group of adventurers, as one, step away from one of their members, who looked a bit redder.
[Later still, a small band of dark elves appears on the horizon...]
"They're here, look busy!"
The adventurers scurry around. One of them tries to hid e behind a small pebble, before following the others to sit atop one of the remaining piles of stones.
[The dark elves come...
The dark elves leave...
The group follows the dark elves... ]
As they thought, the   dark  elves travelled back to their city in the desert. It was a monstrous place, with high walls and a closed gate.  In the shadow of the wall sat a slum – a ramshackle place of lean-to houses and mud. As the group entered, they were assessed and the two elves were inked with a “B”  for “Breeding Stock”. There was much jesting, and the  human was  much put out at the fact the ugly elf was marked for breeding, yet he was not. 
During the night, it was established that breeding  might not  necessarily  be a good thing…  The group hatched a plan that involved sneaking out of the cam p and through a secret entrance in the wall. Their  guide had got them this far and was sure he could get them into the city.
Sadly, the best laid plans  sometimes fail, and this one  wasn’t  one of the best. As the group snuck out of the camp, one of their members tripped over and  was spotted by a lookout.  Before he could try and talk his way out of trouble ,  one of  the other heroes tried to slit  the throat of the lookout, but only scratched his neck. The lookout screamed out in pain and woke several others. With the camp
heating up, the group ran for it, almost leaving behind the unfortunate adventurer with the blunt knife.
And so we leave our adventurers, having entered the city and headed towards the temple in the centre. Will they find the boy  they seek there?  What of all the female elves in the city – perhaps our men wish not to leave after all  (*wink wink*) ? Will they meet the queen of the dark elves herself?
Find out next episode…  maybe…

Tags: , ,

Tag cloud

Widget Twitter not found.

Root element is missing.X

Calendar

<<  September 2014  >>
MoTuWeThFrSaSu
25262728293031
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293012345

View posts in large calendar