Browsing the archives for the Miscellaneous category

Hordes: Prelude to Battle Reports

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Miscellaneous, RPGs

This week I got in my order of Hordes miniatures, consisting of the Circle Orboros starter Warpack and a unit of Tharn Bloodtrackers. Actually, the Tharn Bloodtrackers came in separately (since I placed my order the day before Privateer Press officially allowed distributors to sell them) and so I haven’t had a chance to use them yet.

The starter Warpack consists of a Warlock, one Heavy Warbeast, and two Light Warbeasts. For the faction I chose, this means that I get Kaya the Wildborn as my Warlock, a Warpwolf, and two Arguses.

-Kaya is, from what I can tell, a finesse sort of character: She has Pathfinding which allows her to pass through rough terrain unhindered, and a spell to give units under her command stealth, or to allow them to teleport from one location on the battlefield to another. She is pretty strong, as all Warlocks are (since they’re your most important units on the field), but she’s more of an assassin than a brawler.
-The Warpwolf is the standard heavy unit for any Circle army. It’s pretty fast and hits quite hard, but can’t withstand much damage. It has a limited ability to warp its physical characteristics, allowing it to warp for speed when not in combat and to warp for strength or armor when it is.
-The Argus is a two-headed dog whose primary feature is its speed. The Argus is relatively fragile and doesn’t hit that hard, but it’s not something you can afford to ignore. Its bark, while not a tremendous threat, gives the starter warpack a bit of ranged capability that can paralyze enemy units.
-The Bloodtrackers (although I haven’t played with them yet) are savage humanoid women who can toss javelins with deadly effect. They can pass through rough terrain without penalty and get to deploy ahead of the main bulk of your force. Though they’re fragile, collectively they pack enough punch to take down even heavy targets.

One thing I’m noticing with Warmachine/Hordes and Privateer Press is they pretty much actively encourage people to play the game with what are called “proxy” units. Privateer Press publishes all of the attributes for upcoming units in Warmachines/Hordes in their magazine No Quarter, which means that you can take those stats and play the game without even owning the miniatures. For example, the Bloodtrackers, which were actually formally released last week, have been being used in play for months already by people proxying the models.

Maybe it’s just my bad experience to the elitist “WYSIWYG” attitude of Games Workshop, but I think it’s kind of nice to see a game company which encourages people to play the game first and foremost, with the impetus to buy the models being convenience and appreciation for the quality of the models. Not to mention that my decision to purchase the Bloodtrackers was formed pretty much by accounts of players saying they have used them to great effect in their own battles.

Anyway, my starter Warpack comes in at 275 points, and adding on a base unit of Bloodtrackers puts me at 335 points. Although this is a playable level of troops, obviously tactics and strategies become a little more interesting when you’ve got more to work with. I’m looking to build up to 500 points in the next couple of months or so. In June a new unit is coming out called the Pureblood Warpwolf, which comes in at 124 points. I am definitely looking to add one into my own army. I’m also looking at adding in a unit of Standing Stones (although I don’t recall their points cost offhand), and possibly taking out an Argus to add in Druids (points allowing) or a Lord of the Feast solo unit, or a Gorax warbeast.

So many options…

Hordes

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Miscellaneous, Personal, RPGs

Recently one of the guys in my group has gone ahead and converted one of the rooms in his house into a full-fledged gaming room. He’s got a nice big table, lots of scenery, bookshelves for rulebooks, seating, a basic sound system … In other words, everything you need to game without distractions.

Lately the guys in the group seem to have been getting interested in the Warmachine / Hordes tabletop miniatures game by Privateer Press. I’m the only person in the group who doesn’t play Warhammer, but since everyone seems to be going through an exodus from Warhammer to Warmachine, I figure I may as well join in. I’m not usually one to get into these tabletop miniatures games, but a couple of things appeal to me…

1. Warmachine/Hordes are playable with a minimum of investment. Buy a starter box for $30 and you can play the game. You’re probably looking at $100 for a flexible army list, but that’s really nothing compared to the thousands of dollars it can cost to purchase a Warhammer army.
2. Warmachine/Hordes are focused, generally, on low-unit-count confrontations. Since I like to customize my miniatures and develop stories for them, it really appeals to have every unit be meaningful for more than cannon-fodder purposes.
3. The Privateer Press miniatures lines are really nice. Not every unit appeals to me, but the ones that do are typically excellent. All the models are pewter which is great for painting and durability.

Hordes1

I went ahead and bought a starter box for The Circle Orboros, a faction in the “Hordes” line of Warmachine/Hordes miniatures. The Circle’s aesthetic is probably the most consistently appealing to me and probably the most potentially useful for future D&D campaigns as well. Wolves and dogs and mysterious cloaked, druidic looking figures are pretty good staples for any D&D campaign. I also really like a lot of the Skorne units (From Hordes) for their heavily-armored aesthetic, or the majority of the pirate-themed Mercenaries (from Warmachine), but Circle overall wins out for me.

One of the things that doesn’t appeal to me about the Circle is the Woldwarden and Woldwatcher units… These are basically giant constructs made from stone. I’m not, generally speaking, big on constructs or robots (otherwise I would’ve run a Warmachine army instead of a Hordes one), so that aspect of the Circle doesn’t appeal to me. On the other hand, I’m thinking that perhaps I can purchase some Treant units from another miniatures line and field the treants as Woldwarden/watcher units — That’d be pretty neat. I know I’m already going to be making some customized Standing Stone units from quartz crystal…

Wizards of the Downtime

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Games, Miscellaneous, Personal, Tabletop, Technology

I noticed a new D&D podcast the other day and it got me thinking about something I mentioned earlier — One of the guys in my D&D group and I have a minor dispute over a minor rule with major consequences. Consequences that differ by about two orders of magnitude.

The last time we got into the dispute I mentioned to him that I’d ask the rules lawyers on the Wizards.com for their opinions on the matter so that we could come to a resolution. However, last time I tried to access the Wizards.com forums they were down for maintenance. Since it came to my mind I decided to browse on over to the Wizards forums and set about resolving the dispute…

WizardsoftheDowntime

Of course.

I have never seen a website that needs as much maintenance, especially hard downtime, as the Wizards.com forums. Ridiculous.

Link Roundup

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Miscellaneous

Middle Ages tech support… Hilarious and probably true. Via 2Blowhards.

Via the related videos on the classic Kitty Washing Machine, Cat Head Theater – Hamlet:

When Harry Met Sally Recut, via 2Blowhards

Occasionally I’ll come across a fun ultra-slow motion video of, say, a balloon being burst or a can of soda exploding. I recently came across this website that’s dedicated entirely to slow-motion and extreme closeup videos: Lucid Movement. Pretty cool stuff, although the pay scheme here makes them come off as snobbish.

I don’t tend to use Wikipedia all that much, but when I came across this list of unusual articles in Wikipedia I definitely spent a few hours perusing it. Who needs this information? Who cares? It’s all kind of fascinating in an eerie and esoteric way.

Via 2Blowhards I come across this interview with Scott Derrickson who is a big fan of Chesterton. I’ve never read any Chesterton myself, and I’ve never seen any of Derrickson’s films either, but this interview has me kind of wanting to seek out both. Particularly Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, since this man claims it changed his life — I’m certainly interested in reading a book which could do that.

In a kind of related note, I came across this article on ChicagoBoyz which is tough to describe, but generally speaking is about the fragility of culture and civilization. Thought-provoking stuff.

Steven Levitt talks about the economics of being in a gang. Not surprisingly, the pay doesn’t compensate for the high risk nature of the job…

Foreshadowing

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Administrativa, Art, Miscellaneous

NewYear1

So yesterday I was going to upload the high-resolution version of the Unreal Tournament 3 trailer when I checked in and noticed that I hadn’t uploaded anything at all to WordPress this year. I could’ve gone into the innards of WordPress and made all the requisite directories and whatnot to hold uploads, but I figured I’ve been putting off uploading these images for about a month now and I may as well clear them out of my queue.

NewYear2

Now that I’m thinking about it, I’ll probably try to update my WordPress install tomorrow. Lets hope it goes smoothly.

Some More Media

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Games, Miscellaneous

Just reposting a couple of items I ran across today,

From the Sci-Fi channel

The Japanese animation company Production I.G. has acquired the rights from publisher Kodansha to sell the animated SF film Ghost in the Shell for a live-action remake, Variety reported.

Kodansha published the Ghost in the Shell manga by Masamune Shirow in 1989. Production I.G. then made it into a cult hit animated feature in 1995.

The animation company also produced the Ghost in the Shell feature follow-up Innocence and the animated TV series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, both of which have been widely distributed beyond Japan.

I’m kind of intrigued but I also think that this is a “major” mistake. Mostly I’m just curious to see what they’d do with Matoko in a live-action situation.

In World of Warcraft related news, The Burning Crusade finally came out about two weeks ago. I’m not a World of Warcraft player, or even fan, really, but I am pretty interested in the Warcraft storyline. I’ve been pretty interested in what’s supposed to happen in the Warcraft universe after Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne.

Via Zen of Design I find this link to a cool machinima made using World of Warcraft

I guess I’m on a Warcraft theme, so some other Warcraft-related links:

Hobbs, a NSFW but hilarious audio recording found via MMODIG.
This college-newspaper article on Gold-Farming and Gold-Digging in World of Warcraft.

I also noticed that Steven has actually chosen to buy a manga in his latest order… And above that he links to Pixy’s pictures taken of the Crest/Banner of the Stars manga. One of the things that I really like about manga as opposed to anime is that, given that manga doesn’t require huge numbers of frames, the art can really be quite spectacular. The typical anime art-style — That is to say, bland but attractive characters who are typically only identifiable through hair coloration/styling and clothing — doesn’t necessarily apply in manga*. And that’s a very good thing.

*Love Hina and kindred not included.

Omissions: Link Roundup, part 2

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Miscellaneous

Following up with some more links here…

A new episode of the Unreal Tournament Podcast was released. Probably not worth your time unless you’re a regular UT2004 player, the latest episode is an interview with the creator of ArenaMaster/Team ArenaMaster gametypes — The most popular gametypes in UT2004 aside from Onslaught — and the creator of the 3SPN / PeerPressure community. A lot of the things he says make a lot of sense and bode well for his future endeavors.

I actually ran across this series of PoynterOnline “Writing Tools” back when I was attempting NaNoWriMo — But recently I came across this one and decided I may as well link to them here. There’s over fifty articles here, each covering a basic sort of writing technique. Poynter seems to be geared towards journalistic writing, but these techniques are a great resource no matter what kind of writing you may be doing. The first article in the series is here.

Strangely enough, I had been meaning to link to Flash Tower Defense here, but that’s kind of a moot point given my previous post. In another weird coincidence I was also meaning to link to this article on the Worst Videogame Endings Ever. I’m guessing from Shamus’ reaction Neverwinter Nights 2 might place up there for him. Personally, I’m kind of surprised that there’s not, say, Galaga or World of Warcraft on this list. You know, since they don’t even pretend to try for closure. I suppose that lack of an ending might not qualify for the “Worst Ending” category.

Speaking of unending games, I ran across this neat little idea here: Passively Multiplayer [Online] Gaming. The real trick here is finding incentives that work, but I suppose completely arbitrary numerical values tend to work fine in most games…

Lastly Treasure Tables has put a pair of really good posts up in the past week. The first is on religion in your campaign, the second is on fear checks. Definitely read the comments on these ones.

Flash Element TD

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Games, Miscellaneous

Shamus linked up to this Flash Element Tower Defense game. I actually had been meaning to mention this game in a post over the weekend, but didn’t get around to doing so.

What an addicting little game. I’ve played it a couple of times now and still haven’t managed to beat the last level. My main strategy at the moment revolves around trying to bank as much as possible and maximizing my damage output / gold expenditure by upgrading as much as possible.

My basic strategy so far is to buy an arrow tower, upgrade it, and then buy another one around level five. At level seven I sell off my Arrow Towers and use my wood to purchase Fire, then buy a Fire Tower. I can upgrade the fire tower and that’s the only tower I need until around level 20 (25?). I purchase the Interest Upgrade at level 14 and 21, and then at 28 I purchase the Water Research so I can build Water Towers. I build maybe one or two more Fire Towers (and upgrade) them to handle the remaining waves up to 33. At 33 I build a Water Tower or two to slow down the boss.

After that I haven’t really developed a very clear idea of what I need to do. Particularly the 30,000 HP enemies — I just don’t have enough gold to spend. It’s kind of confusing to me considering my entire strategy throughout the first thirty or so waves involves spending as little gold as I possibly can. I suppose what I ought to really do is figure out the Damage / Gold cost for all towers and upgrades and figure out the best strategy. Another thing I could do if I were compulsive is figure out the best placement — Shamus thinks that the middle is a honeypot, but I’m not really convinced it is — Logically the area with the most tiles of coverage is the best placement, and that seems to be the middle. Splash damage on Fire Towers does encourage clustering of creeps, though, and the creep clustering is weakest in the center…

The only things that have been giving me trouble in waves 1-30 are the bosses, which are actually an update that wasn’t in the original version … Bosses seem geared towards attempting to make the Earth Towers useful, but they really don’t. Fire Towers are pretty much the ultimate towers due to high damage, ability to hit air and land, and splash. Even a single boss monster, which presumably Earth Towers would be better at taking out, can usually be gotten on the second lap using Fire Towers. The addition of the “Purchase More Lives” button really downplays the impact of bosses — I could go easily from 1-30 without losing a single life if not for bosses. Past that, I’ve just got too much cash for a mere 40 gold to worry me.

There are apparently a couple of videos on YouTube of this game being played… This character named mo0h has a video up demonstrating a Cannon Tower strategy, as well as an unupgraded Fire Tower strategy.

I have no idea how this guy managed to get through the air levels with this all-cannon strategy…

One thing that is kind of disappointing, given that I used to play Elemental Tower Defense on Warcraft III all the time, is that the structure of this Flash game completely restricts your placement options. For this to be a real Tower Defense you would be able to build anywhere you wanted, but creeps would destroy your towers if it completely blocked them from continuing along their path. This also brings back the real threat of air units — You can make the most elaborate maze of towers imaginable to maximize the time creeps spend navigating the map area, but air units will fly right past your towers. Air waves are truly something you need to plan for, when that’s the case. And, well, as far as I can recall splash damage doesn’t work against air units in Warcraft III, so you couldn’t just stockpile on the Fire Towers as you can in this Flash game.

I guess I could go play Warcraft III though if I wanted the real deal.

Omissions: A Link RoundUp

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Art, Culture, Miscellaneous, Visual

There’s a number of things I’ve been meaning to link to here over the past week or so, but haven’t gotten around to doing. Here are a couple:

Michael Blowhard, as always, is churning out amazing links and essays with ease:

Here he links to an essay by Richard Curtis about the publishing industry and print-on-demand technology. I find it particularly interesting because I know someone who has successfully used Lulu.com, one of the premier self-publishing outfits who use print-on-demand technology, and am thinking about pickup up a copy of his book. (Not to mention the future applications in self-publishing for my own writing!)

Michael’s got a posting called Private Pleasure, Public Vulgarity about a broad swath of cultural issues. The comments are a great read as well.

Perhaps related, perhaps unrelated to the above-mentioned posting are some of Michael’s thoughts on the New York Times Book Review section and its attitude toward “popular” writing. Part 2 is here, part 3 is here.

As always Michael seems to tread a fine line between populism (e.g. wanting the NYTBR to at least acknowledge the existence of popular literature) and elitism (e.g. condemning the pornification of much of popular culture) — It’s a line I find myself pretty darn sympathetic to, though naturally Michael does it with far more style and brain-stirring breezy musing than I can manage. In the past Michael has mentioned of of the abstract “themes” of his blog is the idea that the “Our Elites have turned against us” (paraphrasing) — And in that sense I can see a sort of unity between these seemingly at-odds positions. Namely in these disparate realms of society, the elite book-publishing crowd has created a hermetically sealed little world where nothing exists except for books, whereas elites of various stripes have completely made a mess of our popular culture, destroying social mores and turning everything that should be private into an inescapable commercial push.

*

Some other links from 2Blowhards:
David Chute writes about Children of Men. Children of Men has been getting some good reviews from some trusted sources, so I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to go see it sometime this weekend or next week. I’m still bitter that the last movie I wanted to see, The Fountain, was out of theaters by the time I managed to put aside some time to see it. Anyway, concerning David’s writing on Children of Men: The political angle of the movie is undoubtedly predictable and banal. I haven’t even seen the movie yet and I could already see it coming. It’s almost inevitable given the state of our current art elite, political correctness, the demands of the story and general cultural attitudes. I’m still planning on seeing it, though.


The Invisible Hand writes about brutalist architecture
. Good riddance to Boston’s City Hall. One reference I think is particularly apt here is to that of the Emperor’s new clothes — So much of modern art seems to be a play of experts with rigid minds prevailing over common sense or basic instinctual understanding of beauty — I’m just glad to do my part in tearing down that edifice.

*Note: Asterisk indicates that my internet connection failed at this point while I was writing this post. I was going to comment on some more stuff but was limited to only the tabs I had opened at that point in time. I’ll probably follow up in a day or so with some more things. It figures, that my internet connectivity goes out the first time in a week that I really sit down to write anything at all.