Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ponderings: Our first steps into the universe

Today I feel a bit philosophical so I would like to share my ramblings that all started with a conversation on Steam. As I watched some episodes of Babylon 5 a part came up when a human male and a minbari female kissed and I commented on it to which my recipient replies with a comment along the lines of "eww". This brought me upon the two subjects I'd like to ramble on about starting with my next paragraph interracial relationships and what classifies as being alive, so enjoy if you like this kind of thing.

Would you kindly imagine that in the next few decades we establish our first long term habitat on Mars. The humans that inhabit these semi underground enclosures live almost exclusively inside these with a few surface walks. They started with enclosed capsules but dug into the ground far enough not to be touched by the harsh environment on the surface. The relatively small hydroponic bays expands underground to sustain the slowly growing population. Of course we can't just leave it at that and more vessels arrive through the years building up several different settlements and adding redundancies.

As this is going on technology has advanced just those few inches from today so that a few complex automatons have joined the crews to Mars. There are a dog like and humanoid robots who help those humans build a future on our sister planet. Here on Earth however we've been expanding into more human like robots to show how far we can go and to make them easier to work with. To take care of children and to better anticipate our needs they'll need to understand some basic emotions such telling a joke when you're sad. As they get more and more complicated the lines between biological and mechanical blur. Eventually...

Something wrong happens, something we never suspect but is bound to happen, an android passed from being just a machine into being alive. Can it think, we've programmed it to think on its own so it can cope with different circumstances. Does it have feelings, most likely not how we would think of them but like in the video being scared of dying / not existing sure does count in my book. So how do we classify something that is like us as being equals and not someone we can just turn off without a second though. What is the requirement to be a person, in the easiest way to describe it is that they need a soul.

But I degress that I should probably move on to the part that I started with and that is humans and not our mechanical counterparts. Years and years into the future and we've spread across the galaxy inhabiting worlds left and right. Now lets focus on a special world that is not just seventy some present water but closer to 98%. There just isn't enough land for us to florist so we take to the waters where most of our nutrition comes from the oceans such as seaweeds and fish. Most of our occupations would consists of something under water and we'll start evolving to better suit our new habitat. Fast forward again a few more thousands of years and sub-human aquatic race has emerged on this far away planet. Our bodies have changed so we're faster swimmers and can go deeper, longer, and into colder waters. We've developed a way to siphon oxygen from the water though we're not a 100% underwater species yet on this planet. We might even resemble something like a mermaid.

Now would you kindly imagine that our distant children who stayed on earth and are relatively unchanged by the hand of time and our petty differences set forth and visit this long lost planet of aquatic humans for the first time in an eon or two and two so happen to fall in love. These two species are now distant cousins but still share the same root origins. Would you deny such a relationship when over a hundred thousand years ago the last racism against biological androids was removed as by that point we've been mingling in with them for so long that we've become one species together.

I think I've probably lost my thread awhile ago but still, you've skipped to the end just to read this.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

1500 Necrons vs Land Raiders

So I had a small game of Warhammer 40,000 today with none of my vehicles or wraiths since I was too lazy to carry my one transport case so I ended up with a bit of a limited selection. I pre-wrote my list with whatever I had and stalked my local Games Workshop in search of a friendly match. I was awarded for my patience with a round vs two land raiders, a land speeder, hammer and shield termies, a vet squad with a apothecary, and two sniper scouts. The game sadly ended before turn 5 but it was fun non the least to finally have a game after so long since I'm either working or driving my mom to doctor appointments on my weekends and of course she wants to do everything under the moon so we don't get back until 8pm.

So my list was something like...
  • Imotek in a squad of 10 warriors
  • Overlord with a Scythe, Weave, Res Orb, and Mind Shackle in a squad of 10 immortals
  • Two squads of 5 warriors with two destruction teks each
  • 8 scarabs in a swarm and 4 destroyers filling up the other Fast attack slot
  • A small 5 man Praetorian squad with void blades
  • And finally a Storm Tek with both upgrades
And his list was...
  • Two land raiders with melta cannons and flamer sconces
  • 8ish man of hammer and shield termies in one raider
  • two sets of five man scouts with snipers
  • a 10ish man of vets with an apothicary in the other raider
  • a land speeder with melta

Turn 1

The game started out as dawn of war deployment with a lot of buildings since we covered about 50% of the board with them. The mission ended up with The Emperors Will which we promptly ignored to just kill each other. I ended up going and deploying first so of course I ran 90% of my army forward to get into range as target priority was a simple "Which land raider can I blow up first!" Sadly I only got four shots with my D-Teks which they sadly failed to glance at all since he castled at the very back of his side. In his turn one he ran both raiders away from my scarabs and destroyer side and shot up my imotek blob taking out half of the warriors. Then his snipers managed to precision shoot and wound Imotek twice while my warriors make 100% of their saves.

Turn 2

So after bringing a warrior back to life I continue to chase his raiders with those lovely Entropic Strikes. Imoteks storms decide to die early to my great dismay, though after entering into ruins with my imotek squad they managed to hit the closest land raider four times and rolled (6,6,6,5) to glance it, so close! None of my other shooting was in range or failed to wound his snipers / raiders. His turn was a bit more profitable as he moved in closer to my weaker flank (Imotek side) by disembarking his shield termies and sniping at them some more. luckily enough for me he didn't figure out how powerful void blades can be against vehicles and moved them into turn three charge range. He was really focused on Imotek but I managed to survive the shooting phase and he rolled poorly for the longish ranged charge with the termies so I got out lucky.

Turn 3

Sadly he got a call that he had to go soon so we had to pick up the pace and end it at the end of turn three. So in the end I decided to just say to hell with it all and ran my troops close enough to get as many shots in as possible in our final turn. The scarabs ran to the base of the snipers tower but failed to charge up it, the destroyers managed to deal a single kill, and the praetorians blew up the closest land raider to them after some gauss took a hull point off and wrecked the other one. It was a beautiful sight seeing two wrecked land raiders on the board and I managed to get first blood to boot!

The Termies of course ran up to Imoteks unit and wrecked face in assault against Imotek and his unit and his vets and snipers wiped out the praetorian squad which ended the game with just a few minutes before his ride showed up and me sulking for a round of Mordheim which I failed to get.


So In points I achieved two kills, first blood, and line breaker netting me four points while he killed two squads and an IC (My warlord was the Overlord) giving him three points making Necrons the victors. The only thing that saved me from getting a tie was running Imoteks unit out of my deployment zone denying the termies from line breaker. I think the biggest mistake I made was not having a strong enough side near Imotek to better support that unit from having practically his entire army descend upon it. Another mistake involved not having them in cover enough so most of his shooting was focused on them which denied cover on half the squad. If the game continued I bet he would have tore through my lines with those darn termies but with the destroyers decending upon his vets with the scarabs I'm pretty sure I could have wiped them out and then hopefully kill a few termies with three squads worth of shooting.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Ponderings: Tabletop to Video game

I don't know about most of you, but I dream of the day when I can play an honest to Zeus tabletop to video game conversion of some of my favorite war games. Video games such as Space Marine and Fire warrior don't scratch that itch since I don't want a shooter, likewise Dawn of War doesn't do it for me either because that is real time when Warhammer 40k is turned base. It isn't even that hard to make either since unlike most video games you would not really need to animate any of the models, there is minimal real time elements, and all of the game mechanics has already been done! Sadly though because it would cut into the table top playerbase since those of us with lighter wallets and don't enjoy the hobby part or the pleasure of handling models would definitely only stick to the digital table top version.

What is needed to make a video game counterpart to Mordheim you wonder? Well lets look at the different features we'll need.
  • The third dimension since unlike Vassel (where you can sort of play a 2D version of these games) actually having 3D models in a 3D area, especially for mordheim is not only more engaging but also easier to play, especially with line of sight!
  •  Slight modelling options. There is no need to animate them but if you can raise an arm here or make one guys pants pink with a blood splattered base I'll be happy. A game I've pre-ordered called Overgrowth (which has an awesome weekly update blog) has this color picker thing for different areas on the models which works pretty darn well. Just a custom colorscheme is really all that is needed.
  • Stick to turn based in the same way the actual game is played, it has been play tested enough that all there really needs to make the game is the 3D models, the game engine, and textures aka making a gray box into a wooden one.
  • LOS detection and an automatic distance ruler marker. Line of sight is the easiest part to be honest because all you need to do is check to see if a line between a few vertexes on Model A doesn't pass through other objects  before it touches Model B.
Ever so often I stop and think about just breaking down and writing a game like that myself though I know my current skills are just not up to par to do a game like that justice. I have tried Vassel though, but expecially for mordheim where LOS and multiple levels are pretty important it just didn't work for me.

Can you imagine though starting the program and being thrown onto the main menu with probably a chapel in the background and a band of empire malitia next to it with some skaven creeping around corners. All the models have bases that just don't match the ground (like winter bases on a grassy board) with the options too...
  • Local Campaign
  • Local Skirmish
  • Online Campaign
  • Online Skirmish
  • My Warbands (So you can pre-make starting warbands and look at existing ones)
  • Options
  • Credit
  • Exit
Want to just play a one off game? Do a skirmish which you can either use an existing warband or take one of your starters and buy upgrades for them like in the rules for one off games. Run through a campaign locally (either against yourself, someone else at home or on a lan line, or against bots or something) or even online since handling packets between users will actually be pretty simple. All there really needs is TCP since nothing is happening in real time and only one person is doing something at a time. There can also be some leniency to protect you from someone "rolling" too fast before you can parry an attack and save your hero.

For bigger games like Warhammer 40k there would have to be a bit more trickery in making it run faster and smoother since there will obviously need to be a fast way of moving units then one model at a time, something like holding shift and moving a single model in a unit then the rest will try to stay in coherency and then you can tweak the rest after they've all moved their 6 inches.

Oh well a man can dream.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gray Model Syndrome

So if any of you are like me you just want to throw some dice around and you just can't seem to get enough time in the day to do everything you want to do and then paint up some models. Mostly when I go to my local hobby store (Games Workshop) I can find myself a game or two relatively shortly, but when I don't want to play Warhammer 40k or more commonly the case I show up too early and no one else is there to play with I have to hobby. Of course things like requiring a fully painted (three colors) and based (colored base) models to play Mordheim on the pretty Mordheim table helps.

To be honest Gray Model Syndrome (GMS) doesn't only include non primed models. You could be suffering from GMS with any number of models that aren't finished the painting process. Grey Model Syndrome starts when you start collecting more models then you are likely to paint before you get bored of painting or your next paycheck comes in and you buy more little plastic gray men.

Facts you should know about Gray Model Syndrome.
  • GMS afflicts 97% of war gamers I know
  • GMS is treatable
  • When fixed you will feel better for it
  • Not only you but your models suffer
  • Enjoyment goes up by a factor of Q
Don't worry though, we can help you help yourself help your models help you help I forgot where I was going with this. The simplest thing to do is attack your GMS by targeting its route cause and work on it bit by bit. In our twelve step program we start by priming all the things followed by either focusing on a few models at a time or mass painting bits such as the left knee cap on each model in a unit.

Through destination, determination & deliberation we can teleport ourselves out of this curse and bring a fully painted army to the table, because chicks dig fully painted models. Go ahead and ask them, they'll tell you "chirp chirp chirp".