Mantic Open Day November 2013 & Gamers For Life Tournament

by paet the pagan-gerbil14. December 2013 08:00

I wasn’t too sure about going to the second open day, until both a DreadBall tournament was scheduled and the Nationals were postponed as the venue couldn’t host it anymore. It looked a little shaky, but we got babysitters sorted so both Jen and I could make it. Then we dragged Oli into it too…

Jen decided quickly – Season One Corporation. That’s her favourite, and they’re almost ready. Oli has his favourite too, the Season Two Corporation. He told me that he couldn’t get his team painted in time though, so I offered to paint my second Corp team for him and finished it just two weeks before (not including highlighting, which is going to make a big difference). I took a long time to decide – I had four teams to choose from that were ready to take. The Veer-myn, Marauders and Z’zor are all finished or nearly finished, and the Judwan (while basic) are ready to take at least. I heard that there might be painting prizes, so I would rather take the Z’zor (my best painted team) but given that I still don’t think that my best will be good enough I settled with the Veer-myn. I’ve only taken them to one tournament (the Welsh Regional) but I really enjoy the fast teams over the bashy teams. I definitely need more practice before I take a bashy team to a tournament again.

While getting ready to go, and ordering our breakfast, we found out that as well as ourselves, our hotel was also hosting a couple of tournament players, a pathfinder and both the Scottish and Irish regional winners – what are the odds, three regional winners under the same roof! If we’d known, we’d have shared our three-player Ultimate game with them (as well as the vodka, beer and prawn crackers). Next year, there was a suggestion of getting in touch with the hotel and trying to book as a group to get a discount.

Game One – Craig Johnson’s Vanaheim Vixens (S2 Corporation)

My first game went very well – a landslide win! It wasn’t easy, and Craig was an expert with Running Interference. He used a couple of tricks I’d never seen before – if you run interference on someone when they move into the ball space and win, you can attempt to pick up the ball yourself. He even managed to kill a rat, which is pretty good going for humans.

Apologies for the picture, camera phones and poor lighting...

Craig went on to get second place and win best painted, and his models were so clean and clear I’m not surprised!

Game Two – Adam Cooper’s Marauders

I played Adam at the previous Mantic Open Day in May and it was good to see him again – it was also good to see his dice were on his team this time. Last time, he played Judwan while I took Marauders with an Offensive Coach. This time, he had Marauders with an Offensive Coach. The cards I picked up were almost useless, and the game devolved into a massive ruck behind my three point Strike Zone. For a fair portion of the game, there were no models on the opposite side of the pitch – including the ref and the ball!

Both of us used the referee to try and block avenues of escape – me to stop him getting to the three-point zone, and him to stop me getting the ball back to his half. A couple of times I did manage to break away and score to get a win.

Game Three – Matt Willis’s Marauders

After lunch, I played Matt and his Marauders. He bought an extra Orx, and lined up all four on the starting line. It didn’t look easy to break through. Luckily, they scattered fairly quickly and opened up the pitch. He played a heavy slamming game, and kept so many rats off of the pitch I had a tough time getting to the ball and scoring. For a couple of rushes, his Goblin held on to the ball and didn’t move at all, while the rats were being pummelled! In the end though, I managed to scrape enough points to get a win.

It was after this game, on table two, that I realised I might be in with a chance…

Game Four – Dan Porter’s Asterians

Table one, baby! This was the hardest game by far, and Dan had got here with three landslide wins. I got a bit of a pep talk going into the game, since of all 12 teams I’d not played with or against the Asterians before. Before taking any actions, he used Dirty Tricks and got my guard sent out of the game. That’s an incredible ability, and there is absolutely no defence against it (unless you are Zees).

Apologies to Dan, who wanted to arrange them nicely. I know the limits of my photography!

Dan used ‘Taking a Dive’ really well, and I soon had a Striker out of the game too. I did get a hold of the ball fairly often, and had five strike attempts – four at three points, and one at one point. Guess which one actually worked. Dan had four successful attempts at two-pointers, and one failed at a three-pointer. Despite losing by a landslide, I felt at every point in the game that I could have brought it back – at first, I felt I could get a win, then a loss, and finally in rush 11 it was all over, although Dan had to Sneak to be able to do so. I think I played well, and if my dice had just behaved once I could have got something like a 5 point loss, or possibly even better.

Results

So Dan obviously took first place, with four landslide wins. Craig took second place and best painted, Oli got fourth, and I came fifth. Jen did fantastically – after getting Wooden Spoon in every tournament she’s been to, she had a perfectly even day with two wins (one being a landslide) and two losses (one being a landslide), putting her exactly halfway out of 27 players – fourteenth place. She managed to play two Nameless teams and a Teraton, as well as Marauders.

This time around, everyone had to provide their own pitch. This mean that I got to see a couple of Tesla Domes and the Mighty Dorx stadium, but unfortunately didn’t get to play on any of them. The Tesla pitches are especially nice, with a much better resolution than I expected – they are really clear and beautiful. If I didn’t already have three pitches, I’d be tempted!

There was a surprising mix of teams here – I expected more Asterians, like the Judwan flooded out in May, but there were only two teams. Void Sirens seemed strong again, and Nameless and Marauders were out a lot – which I honestly didn’t think that I’d see. I heard of one Forge Father player, but never saw them, and spotted Judwan and Robot players. There were also a couple of Teraton players. I was the only Veer-myn team. No Z’zor, no Zees – are people just picking teams alphabetically? The top five were a good mix of teams, with Asterians, two S2 Corporation, a Marauder team and my Veer-myn.

She asked if there was going to be a prize for 'most improvement'!

Open Day

The Open Day itself was pretty amazing. Enough time was left between games that if you finished early, you could get to a seminar. Oli got to one in the lunch break, but I was hanging around for the Regional Ultimate so I missed it myself. There’s been mention of an online seminar for those that missed it though, so I think I might get in on it anyway. Jen’s game went on a bit too long for her to be able to reach it too.

After the first game, we walked around the halls. Mantic had invited other companies to show off their toys – Dropzone Commander and Bolt Action were both in attendance. Deadzone had a big presence, and I was extremely jealous of the Kickstarters who were picking up massive, massive boxes of plastic. There were literally hundreds of wide-eyed gamers hauling massive boxes, with a slightly disbelieving grin on their faces. It’s hard not to want to buy the lot there and then.

Loka was a surprise to me. As we passed their table, Oli took a look. I’d not cared too much for it when it was released because I’ve never liked Chess that much. But Alessio invited us for a game and being a long time Warhammer fan I couldn’t pass up the chance to play a game on the same team as him! The rules were surprisingly simple, the game is really quick to play, and it nearly swayed me. Oli was heard through the rest of the day saying “I love Loka. I want to buy Loka. I can’t get Loka. Should I get Loka? Loka is amazing. What will my wife say if I buy Loka? I can’t buy Loka. I won’t buy Loka. I just bought Loka.” I have to admit, it’s a really nice game. I was told that they sold out a couple of times through the day, it was just flying off the shelves.

WP_000671

Before the final game, I asked James Hewitt (Mantic’s Community Manager) if there would be time to see the shiny new models at least after the last game. He made a quick phone call, then told us he’d come get us later. True to his word, he brought us to the main room where Silvain, Mantic’s sculptor, had just brought over some of what everyone else was drooling over for us to take a look at. I even got to hold the Zombie Troll Shaman, and I want that model so bad it hurts. I don’t even care what game it is for. We got close up to the resin masters for the DreadBall Convicts and Brokkrs too, and they look absolutely amazing. When the next round of Kickstarter comes around, I am going to be so out of pocket. So for that, unseen internet thanks to James and Silvain! Sorry to everyone else for not taking a picture. But not that sorry.

James clearly takes his role as Community Manager extremely seriously. When he was explaining how to get to the pub for post-Open Day chill-out, I asked “Is it walkable?” For the second time that day, he didn’t answer the question. He said “Hang about, and I’ll give you a lift.” He ended up making two trips to take happy gamers to beer! There’s a man who cares about the gamer community, and makes Mantic fans very happy.

Other people have already got their Open Day news up – I suggest you read the Daily Punter (who won second place in the DreadBall tournament), Tiny Tactics and Afternoon Tea, GMort’s Chaotica, see the Facebook event pictures, the new UK & Ireland Ultimate DreadBall Champion’s blog (and another one here) and read Mantic’s blog about the day. Beasts of War covered the day too, mostly interested in the new Deadzone stuff, and in the background of their video you can see the three of us many times (many, many times).

Regional Ultimate

I found out more about the Regional Ultimate on the day, although only from another regional winner. It didn’t seem terribly well planned or publicised, and started 25 minutes late – meaning instead of leaving halfway through to get to my next tournament game, I wouldn’t even be able to start. I was told that it wouldn’t clash, but I preferred to go for the standard games than the big one.

The Regional Ultimate was a multiplayer game between the Midlands, Scottish, Irish and another English Regional Winners and in the end, Ireland won!

Better pictures when I get it back to my place - I sent it home with Oli while we went to the pub

I did get the opportunity to pick up my metal pitch – it is awesome! I have made two rash promises that I don’t know if I’ll keep yet – first, that only painted models can go on it; second, that it will not cross the border into Wales. Hopefully that will convince some Welsh people to come out to win it next year!

What’s Next?

Mantic are apparently moving into the abandoned hospital, hopefully they’ll get plumbing, lighting and heating in there throughout next year. With the offices in the same space getting a studio tour should be easier for us hardcore DreadBallers, and the lighting in some of the rooms was only barely adequate. It was clearly only temporary, and will be better next time. They have a rough plan to hold an Open Day in May again, and maybe next November too. If they make it a DreadBall tournament too, we’ll be there!

It was an improvement on the last Open Day in that there was time for the tournament players to see some of the other stuff, it looks like Mantic are definitely listening to feedback. It’s a shame that the DreadBall tournament was off in a side room this time but after the first game, I didn’t notice it.

I met so many lovely, amazing people. It never ceases to amaze me how friendly and welcoming gamers are, and how I never see any of the real horror stories of tournaments. Even the top tables of the DreadBall tournament were, in my opponent’s words, just like club games. Jen found people giving her advice during and after games, and gave some herself, and we all learned a lot from our games. I cannot stress enough to anyone on the fence that they should drag themselves to a Mantic Open Day tournament – whether or not they have been to a local tournament or not, and whether or not they liked it. They’re such fun, and everyone is wonderful. Don’t worry about being new, I played a guy in his seventh game ever and a couple of the players had only played once or twice before. They had a blast!

This is two Warpath art prints, four Dropzone Commander buildings, two packs of Mars Attacks cards, four Orx Trikes, four Mantic dice, four Loka pawns (for Oli). And all the lollipops we wanted!

Next time, I’m going to have to either convince a real photographer to let me borrow their camera, or to come along themselves. A camera phone really doesn’t do justice to some of the awesome stuff on display.

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DreadBall Kickstarter Season Three

by paet the pagan-gerbil28. November 2013 08:00

The DreadBall Kickstarter is nearly over… I’ve received my final parcel, I have a big pile of plastic to clean, assemble and paint and all that is left is the ‘Creating DreadBall’ digital book and the backer MVP rules.

I’ve really enjoyed getting involved in the tournament ‘scene’ – I’ve taken part in four tournaments this year, winning one and doing acceptably in all of them. The National tournament has been postponed, but a second Open Day this year has been planned for the end of November. Oli, Jen and I are going to rock up there en masse and see what we can do. It’ll give me a little more time to practice for the Nationals too.

So far, I’ve played one game of Ultimate (my Veer-myn, Jen’s S1 Corp and Oli’s S2 Corp) – it’s a real blast, you’ve got to focus much more on scoring with the lack of actions but it’s a real shift from the familiar two player game. Having two players gang up to put threat hexes on a model with the ball is an interesting new tactic, as well as nearly having sudden death on us. I intend to break it out for our DreadBall day in January, I think our casual players will pick it up relatively quickly and enjoy it.

I’ve also played a couple of games with the Zees – one win and one loss. I haven’t got a clue how to play them, they are absolutely insane. They can’t score, they can’t slam, and they definitely can’t pass, but they can move around a lot and they can put out a lot of threat hexes. A few times, I managed to get all ten of my players on the pitch at once. The foul rules are neat and don’t feel like the game slows down at all, and the Zees do stand a chance of being sent off. The only thing is that while concentrating so much on fouling myself and trying to find an edge for the unpredictable primates, I didn’t notice that Jen had snuck on a extra player right at the beginning and was Sneaking for most of the game. My summary – no idea how to play them, but loads of fun. Can’t see them being competitive but they should be an awesome team for a laugh, maybe in a game of Ultimate…

After that, I tried a game with the Nameless against Oli’s Corporation. Just for a laugh, we upgraded our teams with 20mc and I chose to bring Dozer in, to see how giants work. It’s the first time I’ve played a game involving MVPs of any kind. The basic plan was to run in with a Sticky Guard, then slam with Dozer. Six dice slam with a 3 dice penalty on the target should have made it pretty lethal, right? Nope. I’ll have to try again to be sure but the luck was definitely not with me that game.

Then there’s the Mars Attacks Kickstarter. I wasn’t planning on backing, and on the morning that I wrote all of this out ready to queue up for the next scheduled update Mantic went and put up the rumoured Martian DreadBall team. I had a whole thing ready about how I think the cross-over is OK in my eyes but I could see myself getting disappointed if they appeared in Warpath if I were a Warpath player. However, Mantic beat me to it and explained that they don’t fit in Warpath or DeadZone, but that Mars Attacks love cross-overs and DreadBall is a suitable target for it. The renders don’t look particularly exciting, and they may never be legal outside of Mantic tournaments, but I like a bit of a laugh and they look pretty cool with the clear dome helmets. Should be a bit of fun to paint. Well done Mantic, you have my money – now give me a Martian team!

With so many models to assemble and paint, I’ve got to be organised about it. I’m planning on building the bare minimum Season Three teams and prone markers for the teams I have finished. Then I’ll be painting the Season One Corporation for Oli to take to the Open Day (with an extra Jack, because he prefers the Season Two team…) and hopefully, if there’s time, paint the prone markers for our three teams.

Next up, I think I’ll finish assembling everything I have. That way if a good weather day appears over the winter to undercoat them, I’ll be able to get out and hit those ready. Otherwise, I’ll be working on painting the Forge Fathers and finishing off the Season One teams highlights. Then I can put Season One to rest – finished. After that, I’ve nearly finished two Season Two teams (I just need to paint the last Z’zor Jack to make them legal) and have started the Judwan and Robots, so they’ll be a good place to go next. Based on my current painting habits (‘wait for a tournament, pick an unpainted team, make sure they’re done enough on time’) I’ll probably be in the same place next year!

In the dim and distant future when all teams are painted I’d like to do the Keepers and prone markers next, followed by the Giants, Cheerleaders and MVPs. I’ve never used MVPs so I’m not in a great hurry to get them painted but I know that they’ll have to be eventually! I intend to paint the team-specific MVPs to match their teams, but the less restrictive ones in unique colour schemes. It’s going to cost me a fortune in paint.

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Star Trek Episode Autopsy – Code of Honour

by paet the pagan-gerbil14. November 2013 08:00

I find it incredibly difficult to write ‘honour’ incorrectly, like the actual title of the episode is. So I won’t.

This was an interesting episode. It was quite obviously an Original Series episode, in the way that it was shot, dressed, the aliens are ‘really humanoid’ (meaning entirely human with no latex). If you swapped out Kirk and Picard, almost nothing would be different. On the other hand, quite a few of these early episodes were in the mould of the Original Series – more omnipotent, wondrous, unknowable aliens whereas later on, it seems that they transitioned throughout TNG to weirder looking aliens but whose godlike powers were limited or explained by technology somehow.

I noticed on the two named male aliens, they appeared to have scars on their faces – is that to show that they’re aliens, or something to do with their culture and tradition?

I'm going to be so embarassed if that turns out to be his normal face and not makeup...

Honour and Culture

I’m not sure what the point of the episode was – or whether it was designed that way deliberately. The main thrust of the episode seems to be that we must respect this other culture if we want to deal with them, but their notions of ‘honour’ are weird and backwards to me.

The idea that counting coup in a form of ritual kidnap and return can be reconciled – in the end, no harm, no foul. It’ll be something to be more wary of next time. But not returning Tasha Yar after the kidnap seems to be breaking that ritual – it’s clear that the aliens don’t get it, they think that they are doing Picard a favour by allowing him to request her back.

Nor does it seem honourable to me to declare “I’ll take her as my wife” without giving her the chance to break your leg, entirely reasonably. You can’t kidnap someone and then force them to marry you, unless both cultures allow such a thing.

And as much as I understand the bias and highly subjective nature of it, I don’t think that culture or tradition is an acceptable excuse for doing something wrong. Any suppression of a person’s rights, be that because of gender, race, sexuality, health, is just plain wrong and it doesn’t matter if ‘that’s just their culture’. They’re wrong, and their culture is wrong. That doesn’t need to be respected, even if for the greater good it must be tolerated.

Equality of the Sexes

I feel like in some ways this was a more important part of the episode than the ‘honour’ point. I think it was dealt with well – the only people making a big deal out of Tasha Yar being head of security were the aliens, whereas the Starfleet crew didn’t really make a big deal out of it. Maybe they’re so used to dealing with sexist cultures that they can take others actions in their stride, but they didn’t go to great lengths to make their point of equality to the aliens.

Cultural Research

While some points in the episode show a great deal of research about the alien culture has been done, they seem to have completely missed the ‘ritual kidnap’ custom there. That seems like the sort of thing people should be aware of… on the other hand, the one most likely to be aware of it is Tasha Yar and if Starfleet in general has such a culture of equality, why would she suspect that she would be kidnapped? Surely the Captain or First Officer would be better prizes. Perhaps ritual kidnap isn’t that popular, and there’s a lot of more likely things that need to be researched – for instance, how to convince these guys to give up their vaccine.

I loved the fact that this is a race that has customs associated with their transporters – rolling out a red carpet before their leader beams aboard! It reminds me that Stargate SG-1, so much closer to our own time, lines the ramp to the Stargate with a ceremonial guard when they have visiting leaders and adapts some of the tradition and respect of the US military to a completely new context. It’s a shame that this isn’t used so much, and that everyone, from high to low, uses the transporter the same way.

Weapons

Hit 'em with the pointy bits!

I don’t get the impression that these women really have been training with the dangerous spiked gauntlet weapons – if they have, then their trainers are absolutely rubbish. They’ve forgotten everything they ever knew about using them. I’m not even sure that they’re made correctly. There’s so much apparent weight on them, sitting on the end of the arm, that ideally you wouldn’t be swinging like they do in the episode – you’re far too likely to miss, and end up striking yourself at the end of the arc. If anything, you’d be better off in a sort of fencing pose to keep your killing fist as far from the rest of your body as possible and use jabbing actions to reduce the chance of hitting yourself. It seems much too easy to avoid a swing, then use your own weapon to push your opponent’s weapon back into them. The momentum of their swing will add to your own push, and the humanoid arm is hinged to go back to it’s own body very easily. Could be a short match if you had your timing right.

Other Captains

How would the other captains have dealt with this? I think Sisko would have been much less diplomatic about things. He wouldn’t have chatted to draw out information, he would have followed the letter of his obligation with obvious distaste, and once they’d got the vaccine, I expect he would have told them where to shove their culture. I can’t see him finding a way out of the fight to the death though. I expect that Kira would have been abducted, as the second in command and liberator of her world – Dax, while a more competent fighter (if she could use a bat’leth), was only a science officer. Would she have been such a desirable prize? I can’t see Kira giving in at all. She would be willing to scrap the vaccine to get herself, or anyone else, out. Sisko or the Bajoran government would have to convince her otherwise. Of everyone on DS9 I can see that she would suggest a rescue operation and steal the vaccine – she’s not a long-term planner or a diplomat, and she is used to guerrilla operations to uphold her inflexible principles.

Janeway’s crew is another matter. If the aliens were aware of the Klingon reputation, then maybe they’d have abducted B’elanna. Kes, being a child and not a crewmember, would not be a prize and Seven of Nine would likely have broken his nose before Janeway returned. Janeway herself would be a valuable prize too, possibly the most valuable. Regardless of who is abducted, I can’t see Janeway allowing the fight to go ahead. In the Delta Quadrant, there’s less Starfleet interference so the vaccine mission would be one that they took on themselves and they’d be in the unfavourable position of choosing between appeasing the aliens or giving up on someone they’ve promised to help. If she was abducted, I can see her telling the crew to leave without her rather than acquiesce.

Being in the unique position of not having to maintain diplomatic relations, I expect the Voyager crew would mount a raid and steal the vaccine they wanted (as well as rescue the captive) – as a payback for stealing their crew member. It can all be justified as being for the greater good.

Conclusion

I just wasn’t certain of the point of this episode. Are we supposed to respect other cultures regardless of their customs? Their giving Picard the opportunity to request Yar back, and the last thing we hear from the aliens ("You may excel in technology, but not in civilised behaviour.") both suggest that they are incredibly tolerant of Starfleet, and Starfleet need to be more polite. On the other hand, Picard and company don’t seem to care too much. They certainly don’t act like they’ve been chastised and they make it clear that their only priority is to acquire the vaccine legally. It isn’t said explicitly, but the impression is given that Tasha Yar would not be given a choice in the marriage. If she was, I doubt that she would have been returned, deathmatch or no deathmatch. “Well, I abducted you, I refuse to return you because I want to marry you, and my wife wants to challenge you to the death. If you survive, I’ll ask if you want to marry me and then respect your decision with grace and dignity.” It just doesn’t make much sense as a motivation.

I didn’t realise that Wesley was allowed onto the bridge so early – we’re only on the third episode! At least he didn’t screw anything up this time.

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Back to Roleplaying – The Four Islands, week one

by paet the pagan-gerbil30. October 2013 07:00

This summer our weekly roleplay became more of a monthly roleplay, at best. Most weeks, there weren’t enough people to get it going. That and our GM was getting a little tired of Dungeon World, we don’t think it was right for our group. After asking our questions on Google Plus, the designer told us that we were ruining the game. I don’t know about the other guys, but I see that as a sort of rebellious badge of honour.

Anyway, I finally got along to one – we’ve dropped the Dungeon World campaign and the GM has passed the mantle over to a more experienced GM. His chosen system is Runequest. We generated our characters and got introduced to the setting.

Basically, there are four islands – in the north are the Nord, a race of warrior Ogres. In the south are beasts, nature things that do not like people on their island. In the West are Elves, who experiment with magic. Arcane magic is forbidden in this world, so those Elves are seen as evil by everyone else. In the East are Dwarfs, who are experts at metallurgy. To the West and East of the four islands are two large continents with many separate human tribes and some non-magical (non-evil) Elves, Dwarfs, etc.

Our group are two Elves (non-magical) and a Dwarf. I have no combat skills, but the Dwarf has loads, so that should be alright.

The King of the Bretons (a human tribe) died, leaving his 12 year old son as ruler of the kingdom. We were on a boat transporting him to safety when the boat had trouble and sank. The three of us, and very little else, washed up on the shore of a cold island, covered in fir trees and snow. We succeeded in finding some driftwood and a turtle shell, started a small fire, and attracted a white wolf with our singing. We killed the wolf with flaming brands from the fire, completely failed at butchering it and creating warm clothes. As the one who killed it, I was able to keep the ‘shitty looking slightly scorched fur hat’ which provides one armour point to the head and loses one appearance (taking it down to the practically fatal 4 – I am so fugly). We got some meat off the bones and created a stew (using the turtle shell as a pot).

The Dwarf managed to get us some flint, which we have fashioned into a couple of knives and a spearhead. There’s apparently some smoke elsewhere on the island, so next time we might be heading towards that. I think we’ve done pretty well, we’ve found shelter, made fire, eaten and have a goal.

In our second session, we debated whether to investigate the smoke we saw or follow the horse tracks (roughly a dozen horses) that our elf discovered when taking a jog around the beach. We elected to go for the horses, but before long we saw a person. This turned out to be a Nordish fisherman, singing a simple song, who told us we didn’t want to go to the capital. Instead we should head towards ‘Grunchen’, a free human town, where we might be received better.

We promptly got extremely lost, inland and near a river, when we were attacked by a sabre-toothed tiger. It was going to be a crocodile (ah, random encounter tables…) but we are surrounded by snow. Our Dwarf used his divine spell Mind Blast in the first round, which we discovered was an instant kill against anything without a magic characteristic. Butchering the body gave us a few cloaks, a nicer hat than the one I had, and two knives made from it’s front teeth. As we stood around wondering quite what to do, three Ogres approached us with logs and an axe. We chatted, cautiously and friendly enough, then were asked to come with them to the capital. Then asked again a bit stronger, because Grunchen is a town of the rebel king, full of traitors. We stood our ground while his mates threw logs at us for sport, and when one of them fumbled the throw and he killed them out of warrior pride we realised we had to run or fight.

I voted to run, but we’ve never run in a roleplay before.

Instead, I fast-talked him while we got closer, the Dwarf distracted him so we could hit him from behind in a surprise round. We dropped both of the ogres before they knew what hit them. We stole their bank book (???), their donkey and their cart and we’ve found what we think is Grunchen. We’ve snuck past the guard towers and made a safe camp for the night. Let’s see how we do next time…

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Dark Elves – First Thoughts on 8th Edition

by paet the pagan-gerbil16. October 2013 08:00

I’m a long-time Dark Elf player, and been waiting excitedly for this new book. Every time a new army book comes out, I see the new monsters, monstrous infantry and monstrous cavalry, and wonder what this will mean for the Dark Elves when they come. So now I have the book, here is what I have noticed.

Background

I regret that I read the book backwards – the last thing that I looked at was the background. As I have three previous editions of the book, I’ve noticed that each book has a distinct style. The 4th edition book was heavy with background, but dry, like a textbook. It presented the facts plainly without emotion. The 6th edition book (there was no new book in 5th edition) was almost the opposite – few facts, little history and lots of ‘first-hand’ accounts from the point of view of the Dark Elves. 7th edition brought a happy medium – it was a more detailed background than 6th, but gave some of the flavour of the Dark Elf outlook. 8th continues this style, but changes the perspective slightly. The Dark Elves of old were bent on revenge, but 8th makes it more clear that they are not alone in madness among elves. Also, unlike the previous books, the history of the Dark Elves does not start with Malekith and the Sundering, but with the beginning of the High Elf civilisation and Aenarion. They share the same beginnings, and have the same first king. The history of Bel Shanaar is told entirely from the point of view of Malekith and the province of Nagarythe, and that is where the history diverges and the race appears to split.

Models

New models! So many new models… Unfortunately, not all are available yet. I like the new Warriors, I thought the little domino mask style helmets on the old ones were a little strange. Even the ancient 4th edition (single pose, one piece, sword above head) warriors had better helmets. The only models not changed are the Cold One Knights, Reaper Bolt Throwers and the Corsairs.

The new chariots are unusual, they seem a little bit too close to the ground.

I don’t like the new Hydra. The old Hydra, while being metal and attached so delicately to the base, looked more dangerous than this one. The heads are large, full of teeth, and not like the dumb snake heads of the new Hydra, and the pose is running, charging, not sitting and watching. I also don’t like the claws coming out of the Hydra’s belly – it doesn’t make sense to me. On the other hand, I do like the Kharibdyss model – the pose looks more suitable to a sea monster, unused to land. The maw in it’s belly where the Hydra’s odd claws are looks more like an unnatural sea monster.

I’ve got the same ambivalence about the Witch Elves – the Witch Elves themselves are awesome models, absolutely amazing. The Sisters of Slaughter, I’m really not so keen on. They also look too much like the Witch Elves, with just a head and weapon swap. I’d love to get some new Witch Elves to use as either unit, since they are distinct from the dozens of old Witch Elves that I have, but the price - £35 for 10 models – is absolutely ridiculous. None of those for me.

I really like the Doomfire Warlocks and the Bloodwrack Shrine – I’d like to get both, but I think I will try to magnetise parts of the shrine in order to get the Medusa off as an option. The new Executioners look good too.

I’m a little disappointed that there isn’t any monstrous infantry or monstrous cavalry – I’m pretty jealous of all the other new armies that have got those. There’s enough monsters that I don’t get to field because one of my most frequent opponents was an Empire player that I don’t really want any more.

Rules

Since 6th edition, all elves are Toughness 3. Even the mighty heroes. It’s an awful curse. What I notice in this edition however is that they become a little more survivable – the Cauldron of Blood can join units now and gives a ward save, Doomfire Warlocks get a ward save (except against Slaaneshi units), Sisters of Slaughter get a ward save in close combat… even the Sea Dragon Cloaks, which have had the same rules since 4th edition, have been modified to be a straight 5+ save (rather than 6+/5+ conditional one).

In 7th edition, all Dark Elves got a Hatred of everyone. This has been replaced with two rules – Always Strikes First and Murderous Prowess. In the 8th edition rules, I think these two are much better. Since Dark Elves have high Initiative, they were usually going first anyway – with Always Strikes First, this allows them to get a re-roll against people with lower Initiative. That replaces the re-roll from Hatred, which only applies in the first round (but does apply all the time). Murderous Prowess just boosts that with an extra chance to wound when you fail.

Magic

The new magic is amazing! I’ve noticed some amazing combinations, although they might rely a little bit on getting lots of dice in the magic phase.

Power of Darkness – my big problem with the Dark Elf infantry is that in the main, it is pretty low Strength. This spell is a very easy way of boosting Strength with the additional benefit of regaining power dice. Having a Witch Elf horde with 50 poisoned attacks at Strength 3 is OK, but having them at Strength 4 (with the murderous prowess re-roll too) is really cool.

Shroud of Despair – this spell is the subtle edge of the Dark Elves magic. Cutting units off from their high Leadership and re-roll abilities, with increasing penalties for failure… if it’s possible to force a whole ton of Leadership tests in a single turn (see strengthened Witch Elf horde above), a chain reaction of fleeing units could ensue. One breaks, the next one must test at –1, the next one at –2… The Bloodwrack Shrine also reduces enemy Leadership by one, and the Kharibdyss forces units in base contact to re-roll successful Fear checks so their non-General, un-re-rollable Fear check has two chances to fail each turn and give the Shroud of Despair penalty to all the nearby units… Delicious!

Word of Pain / Arnizipal’s Black Horror – these two spells appear made for each other, the only problem is that you need a powerful Magic phase to pull it off. Reducing a Chaos Knight unit’s Strength by D3, then hitting them with a Black Horror, seems like a perfect combination. Of course, if the Word of Pain only reduces them by 1, there’s almost no point casting the Black Horror.

Doombolt – where Shroud of Despair is the Dark Elves subtlety, Doombolt is the Dark Elves destructive streak. As a signature spell it can be chosen multiple times, and when boosted it looks really nasty. Just a big, raw display of force. BANG. Then again, I’ll probably roll four 1s when determining how many hits that is… with the Word of Pain, it makes it that much better against high Toughness targets (at Strength 5 it won’t take much to reduce them to wounding on 2s) so it looks like a reliable alternative to the Black Horror if their Strength is still a bit too high.

Conclusion

So what am I going to do? Well, I’ve got a whole ton of models to paint. I think I’ll make it my goal to clear my painting table in 2014, and maybe even make a start on Jen’s Vampire Counts. Until then I can’t really justify new toys. I want to try the Cauldron with my Witch Elf horde to make them more survivable, and try out the Dark Magic to buff them up. It’ll be cool if I can try out some of the combos above but I doubt it’ll work as well as I described. I don’t have a Kharibdyss or a Bloodwrack Shrine (though both are on my list for as soon as the painting table is cleared…)

Other than that I don’t think my army list has changed too much. I will probably add more bolt throwers now that they’re cheaper, and not Rare choices. I’m going to have to arrange a game at Vanguard Wargaming if I can’t get a game in with friends soon.

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Vanguard DreadBall League Season Two – Games Four and Five

by paet the pagan-gerbil2. October 2013 08:00

My Robots continue plodding their way through the Vanguard Season Two League

Game Four – Stu’s S2 Corporation (Away)

This game showcased the awfully fickle nature of dice. For his first action, Stu slammed a Robot with his Guard – and his Guard went out for three turns. Pretty much every slam he tried failed – combined with a failed Evade roll, I ended up with a single Robot threatening two down humans and the 2-pointer bonus hex. For my part, throughout the game, I failed to pick up the ball two or three times and failed two 3-point shots. The only Robot to get experience was the one who took out the Guard on the first turn, and I got no fan checks at all.

That being said, I don’t think I played badly – just Stu played better. He considered every turn extremely carefully, and used Running Interference extremely well. I think I need to practice more against the S2 Corporation to get used to being surprised during my own turn. I think they’re also the only team that I haven’t played a single game with – it might help me to understand them a bit better.

In his last turn, Stu got the last few points to score a landslide win – and with the underdog bonus, tons of income.

Game Five – CJ’s Marauders (Home)

This game reversed both of my previous game’s fortunes – CJ’s Marauders weren’t able to kill anything and only injured a couple of times, despite stomping a prone guard who was surrounded. On the offensive side, I was able to pick up the ball and even score with it! I fumbled one pick up and failed one strike, but both of those were near the end of rushes where I had either one action or none left.

CJ made me work hard, putting threat hexes and Slamming all over the place to make things difficult for the robots. He kept up the danger level with many many slams, but unfortunately his dice were against him and I was able to dodge most things and suffered minimal injuries. For the first half of the game, the ball was carried up and down the pitch without a single Steal attempt – only Slams. The robots managed a single Strike attempt and failed it. In the second half, they got another Strike attempt for 3 points, the Marauders used an Offensive coach to get their three points back (involving an excellent tactical slam to move a Robot so their goblin could sprint past), the Robots went for another three points but the ball exploded…

In their final rush, the Robots got the three points again and the Marauders spent the last rush trying to put some pain on them in revenge but fortunately for me, nothing happened. It ended as a three-point win to me.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, the next three games that I scheduled were cancelled by my opponents. With school starting, we’re getting used to a new schedule that makes it even harder to get to the store to play games, so I’ve not been able to get any further. I don’t know why, but I think everyone else’s interest has fizzled out too.

It has taught me a little more about how to use Robots – I prefer Strikers to Guards, because 5+ Speed is devastating if someone hits them in the back. I like being able to roll on any skill table, half of my players have 360 Vision – which is extremely useful for both Strikers and Guards. I think that the Robots need a league format, they really feel like late bloomers who need a little advancement.

Planned next was the national super-league, but based on my scheduling here I didn’t think I could get to any games. A few other people are having the same problem so the Bristol Vanguard super-league will now be on a single day, like a tournament, but I won’t be able to make that day. I don’t know when the next ‘regular’ league will be, but I’ll have to see if my attendance can improve any time before then. Perhaps the double round robin format was a bit ambitious, since there were at least eight players every player has to play fourteen games. At one game a week (a reasonable expectation), it would take three months if people’s schedules are perfect. For myself, I find it hard to get to the club on a Thursday (club night, when most people attend) or Friday, can’t make Wednesdays, and only occasional weekends.

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Bristol Regional Tournament 2013

by paet the pagan-gerbil17. September 2013 08:00

The Bristol Regional Tournament! Held at Vanguard Wargaming, like the Bristol Blitz before it, and the first tournament I’ve been to without Jen. Oli came along and borrowed my Corporation team as his own Void Sirens weren’t painted yet.

I took a lot of umm’ing and ahh’ing about what team exactly I should take. My initial thought was for Veer-myn as they had done me so well before, but on the other hand I’d been told at that tournament it was not fun to play against. I decided to go with the Z’zor – because I had only played one game with them before, because they almost derailed me at the Welsh Regional, and because I don’t do well with bashy teams and this would be an opportunity to get some practice. In addition, people are put off by their Skill 5+ Strikers, but that’s what I am used to with the Veer-myn anyway.

I suffered from the Kickstarter mispack problem, so I had too many guards and not enough jacks. In the special provision given to tournaments, you can take the team like that and choose either a card and a 2mc penalty or a coaching dice and a 2mc bonus. Given that I would always want a card to give me the option to buy one in the game, I went for the card option. With the remaining 18mc, I chose extra ranks on both of my Strikers and a Defensive Coach (to try and keep them safe).

It was a fun event – five games squeezed into a single day, and 14 players overall. A bit more hectic than the previous Bristol tournament, but with only six players then it could be a little more relaxed with timings.

The only thing slightly marring the event were the new rules – in the week before the tournament, the ball launch rules changed twice and most people had no chance to play with them. On top of that, the widely rumoured change to Judwan to drop them down to Speed 4+ was used, removing their tournament penalty. These changes weren’t in the rules pack, and I was wondering if there was anything else going to change before the day. However, the new launch rules were printed out for everybody and weren’t too difficult to follow – although I think once people get used to them their play might change a bit. In spite of the last minute changes though, it was a very well-run event and everything happened as it should – the games went so smoothly, we actually finished a little early. Three cheers for Liam!

Game 1 – Broadside Bandits (Kev’s Marauders), Away

Start as you mean to go on! Kev hadn’t played at all since the Vanguard Season One League back in March – and that game was against me. He hasn’t lost anything though, as he beat me by a landslide – even when I got 3pts early on! My Strikers had Jump and Roll – neither of which came into play. A couple of times he managed to push me onto the ball launch path, and got me bashed by the new launch rules. Luckily, Z’zor don’t get knocked out too easily.

Game 2 – The Lunar Darksiders (Cai’s S2 Corp), Away

This time, I got exactly the skills that I wanted - Safe Pair of Hands and Skill increase. They worked quite well, although I always seemed to be throwing with the Safe Pair of Hands and catching with the other one. I managed to kill a human Striker, and get a 6pt win out of it.

Game 3 – Saltford Spankers (Oli’s S2 Corp), Away

I enjoy playing against Oli, because I think we are quite close in skill level. This time, my upgrades were Roll and Skill Increase – again, Roll never came into it and the Skill Increase was heavily relied upon. In this game, I failed many dashes and evades, and even got knocked down a bit. Oli used his Running Interference quite well to break my scoring runs. I lost many actions trying to stand up players that had no intention of standing at all – Oli even took a picture to show how many players were lying down at a time (from both teams). I used the last turn to score a single point and bring my beating down to a 4pt loss.

Cropped so you can't see how awful my receding hairline is these days...

Game 4 – The Clone-A-Cell Crushers (Adam’s Marauders), Away

Adam was a skilled opponent, and by this point I thought that I should focus more on smashing. This was successful! I got two kills! I lost by a landslide, and I don’t think I scored any points at all. Adam also managed to kill one of my Strikers. Once again, the skills I got were Roll and Backflip and were unused. Adam was very lucky with his dice – he managed to score about seven injuries on the Z’zor Striker, and to dodge five successes from a Z’zor slamming his Orx in the back on a single dice.

Game 5 – Orcs Orks Orx (Dave’s Marauders), Away

I played Dave back in the Vanguard Season One league earlier this year, and he brought his yellow-armoured Orx again. He suffered some very bad luck – I managed to push one of his Guards onto the ball launch and got him hit, and he also failed a ball pickup with his Jack on the DB1 hex. When I scored in the next rush, his goblin got killed by the ball re-launch.

Both of my Strikers had A Safe Pair of Hands, and I managed to win by 5pts, in part thanks to his goblins constantly missing their 1-dice attempts at 4pt shots. In the final rush, seeing that I couldn’t win a landslide and wanting to get a bit further in body count, I spent all my actions Stomping and Slamming, and had no ref checks against me, but didn’t even send anyone off.

Conclusions

The full results are on Liam’s website –  I got 11th place out of 14 players and Oli came 6th. Sebastian Gerhart came top (winning an awesome, awesome trophy), and CJ (who I played in the Vanguard Season Two league) got the metal spoon – because a wooden spoon is not futuristic enough for DreadBall. Sebastian has put a few blog posts about his experiences there on his blog too – trophy and match reports.

It was a fun day – and I think either I didn’t focus enough on murder, or my dice were against me. It’s quite possible that both were true – I had some awful rolls, and missed a hell of a lot of 3pt strikes through the day.

I was surprised at how few teams were represented – I think there were equal numbers of Corporation teams, many Marauder teams, one Judwan and one Z’zor team. I wasn’t surprised that Forge Fathers and Robots were left out, but I was surprised that there were no Veer-myn. Maybe I’m the only one not put off by Skill 5+ after all.

There is another tournament in Bristol being considered for January next year. Hopefully everyone else had a good enough time to come along to that one, and we can get some babysitters so that Jen can come along too. Next big DreadBall event on the calendar is the National in Essex in November!

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X-Men Origins: Wolverine

by paet the pagan-gerbil5. September 2013 08:00

This was one of those cheap offers I saw in Sainsbury’s and thought “I like the X-Men, let’s give it a bash.” About a year later, we finally got around to watching it, hooray! Except, boo. I was put in a bad mood almost instantly, since we first sat through ‘Jim and Bob compare pirate DVDs to real ones’, then the official copyright warnings wall of text (don’t you dare download this on an oil rig or you’ll go to jail!) and finally the longest Blu-ray advert I’ve seen. So after being told I ought to pay for films, then told what will happen if I don’t pay for films, I’m treated to a long description of what a sucker I was for not paying enough for a film. Adverts for a HD disc format on a non-HD disc… like TV adverts on radio. I thought back to the first item – the difference between Jim and Bob is that Bob is apologising to his mates while Jim is already enjoying the film and oh! the pizza guy just turned up, since he can afford to treat his mates to dinner since he didn’t pay for the film.

I’m not condoning piracy, it’s just that the adverts really don’t seem to understand the real world and the only people they annoy are the ones who already paid for the film.

So, the film. I wasn’t a fan. I love the X-Men, I even thought the third film was pretty good, but this one was really weak. The dialogue was flat, the acting was flat, and so many things felt forced. It felt like they made a list of key things to explain and mysteries to remove and then wrote dialogue between them.

I know that as an ‘Origins’ film it was supposed to explain Wolverine’s backstory, and maybe that’s the problem. There was always a dark mysterious past before, and now there isn’t. The Weapon X program was well known, of course, but nothing before that other than a few tantalising hints that he may be a lot older than we realise. It was disappointing to see so many mysteries removed in such a lacklustre film.

From this point on we get spoilers, so move along if you want to experience the film for yourself.

I thought there was a lot of repetition in the film. I can think of several shots with Wolverine’s head framed against the sky while he delivers a gritty, ‘badass’ line – probably about removing someone’s head. And he’s not the only one who mentions removing a head. Removing heads is brought up four or five times, usually as a throwaway ‘end of scene’ comment and not as part of a discussion about decapitation. Thus it was no surprise when Deadpool was decapitated at the end. Any of them could have been decapitated really, and I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the head and body resurrected before the end of the credits (obviously sooner if it was Wolverine and later for a villain).

Gambit was just… wrong. Wolverine and Sabretooth leave his club to fight in the street. Why does he leave when inside, he’s protected? Why does he attack Wolverine? Why does he change his mind and help (it’s not the prickly, self-serving character I remember)? I’m not a huge comics buff, but I know that he and Wolverine have a rivalry. This film makes that more confusing, because although Wolverine lost his memories Gambit could help fill in a few gaps, at least about that last mission.

Casting wise as well, Gambit was just plain wrong again. Too young, for a start. I know I’ve been heavily influenced by the cartoon, but his accent was wrong too.

On the other hand, the action was alright and the story – if you ignore the actual dialogue – was good. I could probably watch this film again, but I’ll be waiting for an X-Men themed movie night for that to happen. It would probably match up well with the film which teases Wolverine’s history (was it the second one?)

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Sordus Silage Scroungers

by paet the pagan-gerbil22. August 2013 08:00

You're never more than a few feet from a rat...

The CPS Norvegicanne was an unlucky ship – some said cursed, others said haunted. Whatever the truth, it was certainly always in need of repairs and maintenance. The engineering crews worked round the clock but regardless of what the ship provisioned, it never had enough supplies or equipment – whether due to administrative error, logistics failures or shipping delays, the crew had to make do with bodges and temporary fixes that no-one had time to revisit and improve.

When the ship’s deflector arrays failed in a dense asteroid field, the Veer-myn who’d been secretly living on board finally made their move. Breaking out of the machinery rooms and ventilation ducts, they scoured the ship for food. The crew abandoned the ship, doubling up in what escape pods hadn’t deteriorated, and escaped to a nearby planetoid leaving the rats to the junk ship.

Six months later, the Norvegicanne reached a starbase at the edge of the star system. No-one could work out how they’d got the ship’s systems to keep them alive long enough, let alone travel and navigate out of the asteroid field to reach civilisation – indeed, all systems went off-line mere hours after arrival. The Corporation (Sordus Silage) immediately impounded and quarantined the ship, and while interrogating it’s Veer-myn occupants to discover their engineering secrets, discovered that they had formed an enthusiastic DreadBall team. After watching thousands of games played by the human crew, and analysing holo-vid recordings of famous games, they had formed their own teams and practiced for much of their brief rule of the ship.

Once it was clear which of the Veer-myn knew nothing about starship mechanics, Sordus Silage conscripted a DreadBall team from the rat’s ranks and entered them into the local league. Since then, they have made some great games, including an astonishing 5-rush landslide against a human Corporation team that contributed to their first tournament victory, the DGB Llamedos Regional!

Guards that like to dodge?No point hitting them here

The Veer-myn were the first team that I painted. I didn’t have a clear idea of how I wanted to paint the other teams.

I started playing them when we first got the game, but began concentrating on the Marauders and Forge Fathers when tournaments came around – favouring the simpler, smashier teams over the more challenging Veer-myn. After the Vanguard DreadBall tournament however, I brought them back with new tactics and a new plan to take on the Judwan that I expected to face at the Welsh Regional Heat – I didn’t face any Judwan, but they did bring me the victory!

Colour-wise, I started with a Bubonic Brown base, Chestnut Ink wash to give them a bit of grime, and then more Bubonic Brown. The metal was straight Dwarf Bronze, and the skin was exactly the same as I do Dwarf skin – Tanned Flesh base with Dwarf Flesh highlights. I’m not entirely happy with the skin, but it does look great on the tails. The fur is Dark Flesh highlighted with Vermin Fur, and all the straps, bindings and glove mitts are Dark Angels Green highlighted with Snot Green. The claws were straight Dheneb Stone.

Pass! I'm open! I'm open!Not quite sure what he's doing with that left arm, I'm sure it's some sort of insulting gesture DGB haven't figured out yet...

I tried to freehand the numbers on the back, and used Calthan Brown. Some came out alright, some were a bit more wobbly, and the colour was far too close to the main armour to be easily visible. At some point, I may go back and try to hide the existing numbers and redo them with green, for a better contrast but I’m happy with them for now. I’d like to move to a different team with some other colours!

I’m planning on painting the team-exclusive MVPs in the colours of the team that they will play for, and also on tweaking their background a little bit to make them my own. I want to try and get my teams painted first though, since I have never played a game with MVPs at all, I’m happier to put them off for a bit so I can spend a bit more time on them when they come around.

I instruct new players with "The guards are the ones with two feet on the floor"Run away!

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Star Trek Episode Autopsy – The Naked Now

by paet the pagan-gerbil8. August 2013 08:00

Another episode autopsy! And also the first that isn’t a two-part episode. As usual, some massive spoilers in this one.

In this episode, the crew contract a virus that first appeared in the Original Series that gets the crew drunk. Overall, they make very few scientific statements (unlike later series) and it’s difficult to make incorrect statements when everything is kept vague.

Data

image

Regardless of that caveat, the explanation for Data’s intoxication doesn’t sit well with me. It’s explained that he has a ‘bloodstream’ carrying synthetic compounds around his body, thus can be intoxicated. For that to have a real effect, he would have had to have been created with chemoreceptors for those intoxicants, and specific behaviour modifiers to make him appear/act drunk. That’s how humans become intoxicated, after all. Was Dr Soong having a bit of a laugh when he designed/created Data?

On a longer term basis, Data acts more human and seems to feel some emotion when intoxicated. If his goal is to be more human and experience emotions, couldn’t he just swig a few vodkas and get wasted? Even if it’s just a similar compound to alcohol, haven’t they got enough information to synthesise it and experiment?

Wesley

Although only the second episode, already three important things are established about Wesley Crusher. Firstly, he’s a genius. Secondly, he will constantly threaten the ship with destruction. Third, he will constantly save the ship from destruction. In this case, his ‘saving’ the ship is only true if you take his idea to let Data repair engineering count. He had more opportunity to save the ship by not letting the drunk engineer take out all the chips and play with them, and by not blocking access to engineering with a homemade force-field.

Isolinear Chips

I find it interesting to work out how computers of the future work, and whether the original designers of Star Trek were trying to imagine how different computers informed by alien technology might function or whether they just didn’t know how computers function. In the 80s, that was a reasonable assumption.

The fact that the ship can’t operate because a bunch of isolinear chips were pulled out of the computer in engineering suggests that machines have moved back towards programmable chips, such as are found in single-purpose machines like microwaves, dishwashers, calculators, etc. In contrast, home computers are general purpose machines with different software running on them. As a software developer, it is hard to get my head around the physicality of programming in the Star Trek universe. I deal with things that are intangible, whereas in Star Trek a program can be hobbled by pulling a real bit of it out with your hands.

Software nowadays can be written in a modular fashion that looks like the isolinear chip model, except it doesn’t have any real components. It’s possible to have dynamically loaded and unloaded software modifications from single files, and why not have these files on a USB stick? If it was written the right way, a program could watch for new USB devices and automatically load (relevant) additions that are plugged in. This would obviously be a major security problem (you’d want an ‘Are you sure?’ prompt, at least) but it would mean that you can modify your computer by plugging in and removing USB sticks. They’re like chunky isolinear chips, really.

Computer Security

"It looks like you're trying to move environmental controls outside of human tolerance. Would you like me to help?"

There were two moments I thought about computer security – the environmental controls being set to fatally cold on the Tsiolkovsky, and vital isolinear chips being pulled out of engineering. Then again, in both cases, compromised officers with a high level of access were present to override any computer queries. Engineers should be able to pull out isolinear chips, although perhaps they should have a locking clip for more critical components that makes it a little harder. “Removing this chip will disable forward propulsion. Are you sure?” Click. “Removing this chip will disable positive yaw adjustments. Are you sure?” Click. “Removing this chip will disable negative yaw adjustments. Are you sure?” Oh screw this I’m too drunk to carry on.

Given that the ship’s internal sensors can presumably detect death or near-death conditions, maybe it should include some kind of failsafe to prevent a crew compromised in this manner from hurting themselves or others. If it detects that someone has died or is about to die, it adjusts the environmental controls back towards ‘not lethal’? Other than the blanket argument “you’d always want to have the option” to deal with alien invasions, viruses, a storage space for strange interplanetary phenomena, I can’t think of a good reason why the computer should allow someone to set environmental controls to kill another. Even if not overriding the environmental conditions, perhaps a sort of deadman’s switch where a person near death will be beamed to sickbay (or suitable alternative, if sickbay doesn’t qualify).

Database Searching

 image

They searched the database for ‘showering in clothes’ and ‘aberrant behaviour’. Seriously, that must be a massive dataset to scan through! Storage on the Enterprise must be completely a non-issue, since they apparently are able to store every log and incident that happened on every ship, colony and starbase for the last couple of centuries. I guess I’ll get a better idea of how this is handled as the series progresses…

Other Captains

I don’t think that Picard had too much to do with things in this episode, since the ship was essentially held hostage by Wesley until the doctor could develop a cure (as long as Picard left her alone). Sisko could probably have held his own against the virus as long as Kasidy Yates wasn’t on the ship, although he may have been found playing baseball instead of handling the situation. Quark would likely be the one to threaten the station, and Bashir may have had trouble leaving Dax, Leeta or the nice Bajoran travellers alone for long enough to create a cure… but would his genetic enhancements give him an edge in resisting the effects?

On Voyager, Janeway and Chakotay could probably keep their hands off of each other. If Seven of Nine was present, she would either shrug off the effects completely thanks to the Borg nanoprobes or her Borg implants would not deal with the virus at all and she’ll spend all the episode in sickbay. The Doctor’s only problem would be keeping intoxicated revellers out of the sickbay long enough to synthesise a cure, since he definitely wouldn’t be disadvantaged by the virus at all.

Would anyone even see a difference in Kirk if he were affected by the virus?

Conclusion

Wow, I didn’t think I’d have anything to say here. Guess I can whine about anything. I’m going to try and keep track of some stats while I do this, partly because there are certain things that everyone knows about long-running shows like this, or seem like recurring plot points. It’ll be interesting to see if they really are as repetitive as they seem. There’s a couple of new ones here (quite obviously this early in the series!):

  • Times Wesley threatened the ship: 1
  • Times Wesley saved the ship: 1
  • Number of viruses contracted: 1

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