Sunday, 23 February 2014

Dreadball Xtreme

Well, the Dreadball Xtreme Kickstarter has been live for a couple days now and has already garnered a smack-ton of cash.  Your truly and Mr B have jointly signed up to it, at a fairly hefty, but not ridiculous, level.

At the moment I'm reasonable happy with what's on offer, but, given the previous projects Mantic have launched this way, I'm expecting to see a lot more value added over the next three weeks.    Given how much we've collectivly dropped on the original Dreadball, it still's still a good deal so far.

Very little information is available about the actual gameplay, but the core seems to be the same as the original Dreadball game.  Dreadball was easily the best (miniatures) game I properly invested in last year and is one of those games that I would play without resevation.

One of the notable decisions Mantic have made is to move away from their heavy plastic (rastic?) figures to preassembled plastic miniatures.  If there's one thing that frustrated me about Deadzone, Dreadball and some of their other figure ranges, it's cleaning those hideous mouldlines and glueing the pieces together.  I've had Deadzone for a week now and have suffered through assembling a whole seven figures!  Hopefully this new material will be easier to work with.

The big draw for me so far is the customisable board; appropriate given that DB:X isn't played in a traditional arena, but in back streets, warehouses and prisons.  I'm also anticipating what new teams or races Mantic add into the mix.

Three weeks to go with eleven updates so far, looking forward to seeing what the final package will be.  Check out the Kickstarter here.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

What's in this box then?

After an interminable three hour meeting at work, I was really looking forward to this when I got home last night.

So what's in it then?  Well, it's my huge, extravagant and completely unnecessary Christmas splurge gift to myself; a big pile of Deadzone goodness.

Ok, justification time.  We can use the scenery for at least two games other than Deadzone itself.  I've only heard good things about the gameplay; plus it plays on a two foot square area, meeting the whole "game in a box thing" I've got going on at the moment.  Lastly, I wanted to drop some cash on myself, rather than solicitor bills and property management companies.  Job done.

By my count, that's 51 figures (with two still to come) added to the lead pile, twenty two sprues of scenery, plenty resin and plastic tokens and a whole new game to explore. Everything I'll every need to pick up... well, until the next wave of releases in March!

I read the core rules this morning and everything looks pretty straightforward to far. Deadzone ticks most of the boxes I look for; simple enough core rules, plenty of options and special rules, a nice dice rolling mechanic and plenty of player options, both in choosing your strike force and on the table.  Consider me happy!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Updates and some eBay whoring

Going to have to rename this blog "Not Enough Free Time"


First the boring stuff.  Despite being told that my workload (and hence hours) would be greatly reduced over February and March, work is still hectic.  My assistant is pregnant too, which isn't helping (I know pregnancy isn't the same thing as being ill, but in either case, she's absolutely bugger all use at the moment!)  Coupled with the fact that my sporadic insomnia is running rampant, I'm really not getting much done.   Seriously, when my head hits the pillow I instantly burst into wide awake mode; put me on the couch at 7pm with a full belly and I'm out like a light!

Managed to get a couple games in this month though.  Another big game of 5150: Fighter Command last week and a big session of the Lord of the Rings card game at the weekend. Plenty of photos from both 5150 games to come, I just need to get round to fiddling with them first.  A quick preview above.

The Lord of the Rings day was an interesting occasion.  My mate Adam fancied another go so we built a couple decks and rattled through some Khazad-dûm quests.  Adam, who admittedly is a much more experienced card gamer than I, then promptly ruined my theory that the game is too hard by trouncing the first four quests.  He sees combos and synergies in cards that I simply don't, so much so, that I think I was just there for the fun of it; he could have easily beaten some of the quests on his own.  A real eye opener!

Work continues on the 10mm ECW stuff and some figures for the Analogue Painting Challenge bonus round this weekend, but not terribly quick work.  There are a few guys at the club painting up some ECW forces for some FoG:R gaming, with every major force represented. Frustratingly, the thorny issue of basing has reared it's ugly head again.  We eventually agreed normal FoG bases (20mm x 40mm for infantry,) but apparently they're too big with only five figures per base, so some are advocating going back to 15x40mm (the original plan.) However, plenty of us have already bought bases, or even have some completed bases, so the discussion isn't going too smoothly.  I'm sticking with the big bases though, I'm of the thought "if you're going small, go big" when it comes to scale, so I want my pike bases bristling with pointy bits and my muskets looking deadly.  At least I'll always outnumber the enemy?

Lastly, I'm offloading some wargaming odds and sods, mainly WW2 Soviets from Warlord Games.  I'm still not 100% sold on Bolt Action as a game, having sat in on a couple games at the club, it just doesn't really do anything for me.  In any case, certainly not at 28mm. Maybe 15mm and in a different theatre might help, but, no, these guys are going.  My eBay page is here, but if any bloggers out there want to make me an offer, drop me an email.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Two Minute Review - Neuromancer


Every now and then you come across a book and you ask yourself "why have I not read this before?"  This most recently happened to me when I finally settled down to read William Gibson's Neuromancer.  I had certainly heard of the book before hand, but had no idea of how influential it has been; Neuromancer is full of the original source material for many other cyberpunk settings.  Case in point, Neuromancer coined the term "Matrix" in the sense of a digital reality.  Quite simply, one of the best books I've ever read.

At it's heart, Neuromancer is a character and setting driven heist novel.  The plot itself is fairly derivative (except for the object of the heist,) but the real energy of the book comes from the parade of characters you're introduced to and the eclectic series of locations we travel through.

We start off in the Chiba City, Japan, where we meet Case, a damaged former computer hacker.  From there Neuromancer takes us around the world and then into a couple of off world locations, New Zion and Freeside.  The cast of characters grows quickly; Molly Millions, a razorgirl, turns up to protect Case, Armitage, apparently the mastermind of the con, slowly reveals what exactly he's planning, Dixie Flatline is a digital reconstruction of a dead hacker. All very engaging and wonderfully written.  Gibson also paces the book perfectly, drip feeding information and plot development to begin with, before escalating the tempo as the team struggle to complete their mission.

Neuromancer is full of memorable scenes, Zions elders, a blank Armitage in his hotel room, Case jacking into Molly's nervous system, Riviera's holographic show, Wintermute trying to talk to Case, too many to relate here.  What should be emphasised is the depth of the world Gibson creates, just how cyberpunk everything is.  Not only the vibrant, neon urban areas; Gibson treats cyberspace the same way, he doesn't try to describe the indescribable, but instead relates the rush, the freedom, the danger involved in hacking.  Neuromancer is one of the most immersive books I've come across.

I feel I should also mention the narrator of the audiobook I listened to, Jeff Harding, because he was simply excellent.  This was the first audiobook where the quality of the voice acting was a noticeable positive.  Each character has their own accent and is consistent throughout;  Armitage has a booming boardroom voice, the Finn has a gritty Irish growl while Maelcum has a languid Caribbean drawl.  The editing is handled very well too, to the point where the different voices flow seamlessly from one another.

Any negatives to report?  Well, Neuromancer does feature my least favourite plot device, namely one of the main characters is poisoned at some point to ensure their commitment to the scheme.  I hate that mechanic, but at least here it isn't too intrusive to the plot.  Other that that, not much.  The narrator does take a little adjusting to when you start to listen; he has that peculiar American accent that dips down at the end of a sentence, making everything he says sound sarcastic.  After half an hour, though, I'd forgotten all about it.

Lastly, something I noticed about listening to this as an audiobook.  Neuromancer is a short book, the kind of book I suspect I would have blasted through in a weekend.  By listening to it instead, and considering I listen to books either commuting or while out walking, I was able to string Neuromancer out to well over a week.  This really helped me enjoy the book; not only did it give me a lot of time to think about what was actually happening, but the anticipation of what would happen next kept me hooked.