Friday, August 30, 2013

And now: Dreadball

To fight the bug, we must understand the bug.

A month or so ago, I won the Dreadball team from the fine gents at the Combat Phase podcast. Full disclaimer: I know both of the gents behind it from waaaay back in the 90's, although I don't get the chance to game with them anymore. However, Rob is still (mostly) local, and he took the time to deliver my prize in person, and teach me the basics of the game.

After agonizing between the many choices, I narrowed it down to either the Locusts or the Robots, based mostly on looks. Eventually picked the bugs. Looking forward to getting some paint on them, after... some construction. Any suggestions for paint schemes? The good things about terrible space bugs is they can be, really, any color you want. Time to troll through Google Image Search for ideas.

For the test run, I used the Corporation and Rob went with the Marauders. We didn't use all the rules, but rather went through a basic game, which him summarizing how the other elements added in and affected the gameplay. Highly effective! I learn best by actually playing a game, and this was a good combo for me.

Yes, the above shot actually happened.

The game itself was fun. The Marauders scored big early, and lead most of the game. Amusingly, every time the ball turned over, it relaunched to point two, meaning there was a permanent crowd around there.

The game played faster than I expected, and momentum went back and forth very smoothly. Definitely more like basketball than (American) football. In the final turn, I managed to duplicate the hail-mary play he made to earn a big lead quickly, and while it didn't tie the game up, it stopped it from being a rout. The Marauders took the day, 1-0.

Side note: it was actually a pretty light night for the store, but two of the locals did have this sweet Infinity setup. Lot of junk pieces there (electrical boxes and receipt rolls) but painted up and based nicely. The posters made for nice easy details too.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

7tv: Checkmate!

During the tumultuous 19th century, one major topic of conversation grew among the circles of power. The rise of "unchecked extranational powers" would grow to present a major threat to governments and countries worldwide. Quietly, an idea grew. An international organization would be formed as a deterrent to hold these forces 'in check,' calling on national resources of participating countries as needed to fight their battles in the shadows of wars and civilization. From their inception, they have fought nefarious cultists, science criminals, and villains of all stripes and capabilities, able to stay one move ahead through ingenuity and strategy.

Today, Checkmate recruits from the top agencies worldwide, looking for experts 'on every topic, on every continent.' Headquarters is hidden within a mountain near the border of Ruritania. They keep safehouses and bases worldwide, sometimes in cooperation with the locals, other times in secret.

Checkmate also seeks out the best minds in the world on every esoteric topic they can. Force is easy to muster, but knowledge can be power. These outside consultants are not always full members of Checkmate, but can work with them for years at a time, or more.

Ranks within the organization are taken from the game itself. Pawns are the average rank-and-file members. They can operate independently, or are assigned to a task or sub-group. Knights, having proven their talent and reliability, are the team leaders, put in charge of assaults, extractions, and 'problem-solving' missions around the globe. Rooks tend to engineer infrastructure and support, coordinating with local governments, or commanding security details. The Bishops run large geographical areas or departments of the group as a whole, including the secretive counterintelligence chapter and all deep-cover agents.

Lastly are the Royals, the four leaders of Checkmate. The White King is in charge of field operations and diplomacy, the White Queen focusing on staffing and defense. The Black Queen heads the supernatural division, and the Black King heads the superscience side. On paper, all major decisions require three-fourths approval, but rogue operations ordered by a King or Queen happen from time to time.

In the moonlit shadows of the urban jungle of some wasteland metropolis, or the sundrenched desert ruins of some ancient civilization, Checkmate stands watch against all the foes no one else can face.

Sasha the Outsider and Knight Argent

KNIGHT ARGENT - Flamboyant Agent - Star - 50 ratings

Mov 6 Def 4 Hit 3 Str 4 Agi 4 Int 4 Mor 5
Eagle Eyes, Gadgets, Inspirational, Kung Fu Grip, Luck 2, Make Your Own Luck, Seduce, Signature Weapon (silver pistol), Sixth Sense
Brawl 3+
Pistol* 3+ (12". Str 3, Pistol, Signature)

"Never play by their rules."

One of the rising stars within Checkmate, David R. Jones is a White Knight through and through. Nicknamed 'the thin white duke' by the pawns on his team, his white-ish blond hair and his golden gun pack quite a visual impact when he moved into action. Argent is known to be a favorite of the Royals, thanks to his proven track record, and a reputation for getting the job done despite limited resources with a flair of panache to boot. His outward flamboyance hides a secretive side, and he rarely speaks about his past or life outside Checkmate, preferring a well-kept secret with a wink and a smile.

(Manufacturer: Reaper Chronoscope)

SASHA, THE OUTSIDER - Unearthly Traveler - Star - 50 ratings

Mov 6 Def 4 Hit 3 Str 3 Agi 4 Int 5 Mor 5
Alien, Alien Physiology, Gadgets, Luck 2, Plucky, Psychic, Saboteur, Sixth Sense, Teleport
Brawl 3+

"I never let anything define or limit me."

Ten months ago, an experiment in dimensional folding went awry, deep within Checkmate headquarters science labs. A strange alien 'cage' materialized from thin air, and out stepped Sasha. Claiming to be a human traveler from an colony near Alpha Centauri from the future, she has been consulting with the science division since, partially so they can learn from her, and partially so they can keep an eye on her. The Bishop in charge of dimensional science assigned her to Knight Argent, noting their strange affinity for each other's styles was complimented by their forceful personalities.

Secretly, Sasha has yet to let anyone know her Timecage was, in fact, a prison cell, and she was being kept in an extradimensional lockdown for reasons yet unknown to viewers. She knows her trail is being followed, despite her best attempts, and knows that Checkmate is her best hope at achieving her freedom. And the numbers inside her cage point to her not coming from a distant future, but thousands of years in the past, and invokes strange deities not known on Earth.

(Manufacturer: Reaper Chronoscope)

Mister E and Squire Sparrow

 SQUIRE SPARROW, Angel of Justice - Co-Star - 32 ratings

Mov 6 Def 3 Hit 2 Str 3 Agi 4 Int 3 Mor 4
Danger Sense, Disarm, A Good Offense, Heroic Surge, Luck 1, Sidekick
Brawl 3+
Pistol 4+ (12". Str 3, Pistol)

"Step one."

Linda Sparrow had a ...troubled childhood. Always in trouble at school, typically for 'unladylike behavior,' her teachers were often disappointed that she was squandering her obvious potential in favor of rambunctious adventure. She may have fallen on the wrong side of the law before being identified by a mysterious Checkmate recruiter.

The opposite of Knight Argent in many ways, it was the White Queen herself who knew Sparrow and Argent would make a great team. His polish and training were immediately complimented by Sparrow's energy and grinning pride. She rose quickly through the ranks of the Pawns and now serves the Knight directly, on the fast track to her own Knighthood.

(Manufacturer: Crooked Dice)

MISTER E, Investigative Academic - Co-Star - 37 ratings

Mov 6 Def 3 Hit 2 Str 3 Agi 4 Int 4 Mor 4
Dodge, Heroic Surge, Inspirational, Leader 1, Luck 1, Saboteur
Brawl 4+
Pistol 5+ (12". Str 3, Pistol)

"But ah, there's the riddle."

Edward Nashton, or "Mister E," as he is affectionately known, has also lead a meandering life. With an intelligence and ambition that outstripped his circumstances, he grew bored with university. A brief life with the criminal underworld in his hometown of Manchester left him with enough of an arrest record that would follow him. He then sought to put his intellect to use as a private investigator, but his... personal demeanor meant few repeat customers. He was set on a course towards falling back into crime when a chance case lead to him being brought into Checkmate.

Nashton is loyal to the organization, as it's given him a steady stream of mysteries to solve and puzzles to crack, and an admiring audience waiting to hear his conclusions. His latest obsession, however, is Sasha, the alien traveler. While he values her as a teammate, he quickly ascertained that her Timecage was a prison cell, and as a result, she's hiding many secrets. But Mister E has told no one, including her, of his theories,
content to watch and wait, and only reveal his conclusions once he's uncovered all the riddles.

(Manufacturer: Blue Moon)

Agent Jones, accompanied by two soldiers of Checkmate, Lafferty and Malik

AGENT JONES, Dependable Deputy - Co-Star - 29 ratings

Mov 6 Def 4 Hit 2 Str 4 Agi 4 Int 3 Mor 4
Good Offense, Honor Bound, Leader 1, Luck 1, Military Training, Sidekick
Brawl 4+
High Caliber Pistol 4+ (12". Str 4, Pistol, High Caliber)

"All it takes is one well-placed shot."

Brion Jones (no relation) is First Pawn under Knight Argent. He takes command of the other Pawns assigned to assist Argent and maintains communications with the home office, requisitioning materials and coordinating operations. What he lacks in creativity he makes up for in drive and willpower.

A quiet man with the military in his blood, he commands respect from those under him and projects a calm demeanor to those above him. Quietly, he doesn't appreciate the randomness that Sasha and Nashton bring to the team, but knows how valuable their contributions can be. And anyone that can get the job done smoothly and get his soldiers home safe is someone he can work with.

(Manufacturer: Crossover)

[Side notes: this team was done to add to the 7tv casts thread on the forum, check out all the other entries here. The truly dedicated reader will note Sasha was slated for my 11+1 Challenge. One more off the list! Amusingly, this was the cast I was doing until I could complete my Dr. Argos villainous list, and the last models I needed for that arrived the day after I finished writing these backgrounds. Serendipity! I was also eminently pleased with these models, including really learning how to paint white. This was somewhat tempered by me finding out next I need to learn how to photograph white better, heh. The major influence for this list is DC Comics Checkmate, specifically the phenomenal Greg Rucka run.]

Thursday, August 15, 2013

stream of consciousness

We should bring back vests and ties as gaming formal wear.

OK, just throwing out some odds and ends for your light reading before getting back to the meat and bones of this place.

The BBC reminded us that it is the 100th anniversary of Little Wars by H.G. Wells, the predecessor to all modern wargaming. 100 years! How excellent is that.

As noted previously, I enjoy painting, but I am not great at it. And a lot of it is stressing over the completion. Painting the first 90% of a fig is easy. But that last 10%? Ugh. Tiny details that are so easy to mess up, not finding something embarrassing until you've taken the picture for the blog, etc. Giving myself artificial deadlines or challenges can help ameliorate this. The recent push has been to complete my Checkmate cast for the 7tv forum thread and I can say, last week, I got that put to bed, finally. Whew. Pics up here in the next few days. Then I'm giving myself a few days to just assemble and paint random things, then to press ahead for an IHMN company. Or two. Nose, grindstone.

The impending arrival of Blackwater Gulch kickstarter figs, and playing around with the IHMN rules, have me thinking about the Wild West, too. (Because, frankly, the IHMN rules would work great for a Weird West game as is, and the second book will address that area directly.) For some good resources, Jarec goes over Wild West gaming options here. And blogs like this really make me wonder why I never got around to this setting before now.

But when I start thinking, I hit up on one of my favorite RPGs from back when: Deadlands. If you think of it as Shadowrun in the Wild West, you're off to a good start. And even more specifically, since it was the 90's, there was a collectible card game for the same setting: Doomtown. The game itself was decent, but the setting was chock full of material. And each and every one of them would make for a great IHMN company. The Maze Rats are pretty much a pirate version of the Tong. The sinister Whateleys would be a great way to bring in Lovecraftian themes, and the upcoming book will give us some great stuff for the Sioux and the Flock. So yeah. Lots and lots to do.

Anyways. Here's two other good pieces for reading, continuing with whatever theme you want to make out of this post. Maurice clued me in to Anatoli's commentary on "historical wargaming and realistic expectations." Even if you're not a historical gamer, it's worthy material. Another thought provoking read for gamers of all stripes is this article by Charlie Jane Anders on the "7 deadly sins of worldbuilding." Minis gaming doesn't always involve the same level of details, but it certainly got the wheels turning over here. (Definitely gave me some ideas on terrain I'd like to do for Relic Knights.)
So yes. Soon, more painted figs, and more pics from this weekend's gaming-o-rama. If anything comes from the IHMN/Doomtown rambling, you know you'll see it here too. Eventually. After I come up with five other great projects to distract me.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

oh, right: Bones

Revera linguam latinam vix cognovi

I figure one of the reasons I was able to not overspend at Historicon was knowing I had these waiting for me to pick up. That's a third of two 'Vampire' sets (me and the local boys divvied up one big order,) plus some other figs added on that I really wanted.

Now, to, uh, get around to basing them all, and painting them all... most of which I don't currently have a game planned to use them in...

 (Heh, not really. But it's an intimidating pile of plastic.)