Friday, May 25, 2018

Quantum Beer Break: Interview with Anvil Eight

Here we are again! On Skype with Will and Brain of Anvil Eight. We crack open a mead/wheat wine while the Anvil Eight guys open the Artherium Brew Company's Quantum Beer (brewed by James).

We talk about how the new faction, Rhommox, upcoming products and events (including a takeover of NOVA open), some Ikaru hate thrown in for good measure, new models for older factions, tournament math crunching, the world map, and drunken mastery.


Monday, May 21, 2018

The Death of Tabletop Gaming?

Credit: Rob Van Der Meijden
It has come up several times I thought I would write about it. Is tabletop gaming a dying breed?

More and more games are coming out as a hybrid of board game and miniature game. Aetherium by Anvil Eight, GodTear by Steamforged Games, Shadespire by Games Workshop, Giga-Robo by Cardboard Dynamo, and Aristeia by Corvis Belli to name a few. Games that go back to the old Battletech method of gaming (ahhh Battletech). And we see people rushing to these games and leaving the tabletop games behind. Why? There is a couple reasons.

No Cheaters
One of the biggest complaints of table top gamers is tape measure creep. An extra quarter inch here. A bumped mini that puts your opponent just out of reach. Even the dreaded my movement MAY have crossed this base but only by a super small amount. This has become null in a crossover game with hexes or squares. Movement is regulated by the spaces on the board. This model moves x squares then I can see it moves x squares. There is no ambiguity (oh! big word time!). Ranges of weapons are easily measured. Facing is a known (take Aetherium. Everything on a line from the back of your base is your rear. Simple). Cover and effects of on the board is simple. They remove the "in/fully in" issue as you can see this effect covers 3 squares/hexes.

Small Model Count
Another big advantage is these games have small model counts. No more lugging around a million models in a huge bag. A side effect of this is that setup is simple and quick. Godtear - Set up your models on the edge hexes. Aetherium - set up the tiles for the board that already have the effects of terrain on them. Small model counts doesn't always mean quicker games. Most of these games can be played in the same amount of time as one of the larger tabletop games, but some are quicker.

Small model count can also mean cheaper prices and higher quality. Since you don't usually have "line troops", each model is unique (sometimes...). This can also let people who can't afford to jump into a game spending thousands for a complete army to play and be competitive.

Less Competitive?
Most of the games I have seen don't have a strong competitive scene. Shadespire is really the only one that has competitive events going on. The others have narrative events or other events but not a lot of competition. This is one of the things I am hoping to see an uptick on as setup for these games is easy and there would be very few TO calls for measurement of questions on terrain.

These games don't have the advantage of the tabletop freedom. The board does limit your movement and plans. The low model count can also mean less choices. Also, it can feel like a board game where it is a one-and-done or a beer-and-pretzel game. Runs are often simplistic for people who like the complexity and charts of tabletop gaming.

But, how do you feel? Do these new round of games feel like they are killing off traditional board games?

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Video Games: The new Battletech by Harebrained Schemes

Copyright Harebrained Schemes 
We don't talk much about video games but since a lot of us are playing it, lets talk about Harebrained Schemes' new Battletech!

Oh, how my childhood is being brought back in a flood of Tab and Thundercat roars. The new Battletech was a Kickstarter by Harebrained Schemes (same people who corrupted us with a new Shadowrun video game) about a year ago. As soon as I saw it, I threw money at it so hard my credit card cracked the screen. Spoilers: I am not disappointed.

The Good!
While it isn't the old table top rules, it is very solid. Everything is scary. You know how you had that one friend who would bring SRM carriers and Strikers and you would laugh at them, blowing them off the field like nothing before they could get a shot? Yeah... They scare me now. I have had two SRM carriers kill a Medium mech without even breaking a sweat. Why is this good? Because not everyone has Mechs in this world. Pirates are limited to vehicles and "not well maintained" mechs. This means there are some missions you walk through that are simple stupid. Some, swarm you with tanks and it becomes a game of not-the-face. The game doesn't really ever make a mission overly hard or overly simple. It is always a tactical strategy.

Yes... you need tactics. No running in and smashing heads until the assaults kill everything. Nope. Flanking, approaching objectives indirectly, using terrain, getting behind people... these are all needed. The game makes you think about how to approach a target which made my heart flutter.

Pilots are no more nameless people with stats. They have abilities that are needed. You can't just max out gunnery skill and ignore everything else. Your hand to hand person needs piloting. You should have one person with high tactics to scan lock a target you can't see so your LRMs can shoot indirectly. Everyone needs Guts so they don't die from a stray missile to the head. You need to pay attention to the mech each character is assigned to. Don't drop your best gunner into the Centurion and try punching people. Its embarrassing. And you level your pilots! And pilots have morale! Soooo happy...

The story line is being placed into "the good" but is a little weak. I won't spoil it but it is a typical battletech story line. The part where you are a merc and need to support your ship, mechs, pilots, and finances is amazing! I am always running on just enough C-bills to get to the next finance month. It adds urgency to taking jobs and not going for just the easy ones. You have to weigh the risk/reward of each job. Oh... pirate has a heavy running around... sad face. Maybe not with my low end mediums and lights. Oh! Escort this cash and expect vehicles? For a thousand more? Thank you very much! During the taking jobs "phase" you can adjust during negotiations if you want more cash or more salvage. Salvage means you get to choose before they had you stuff. I always like at least one choice in case someone is running around with a boosted LRM or other weapon.

BTW... I am a LRM fiend. I love me some 40 missiles thrown downrange in a hail of death.

The Bad =(
Crashes... Oh the crashes. Not during missions but before and after during the transitions the game crashes. Recently (and has been fixed) there was an issue where if you quit the game you had to reboot before being able to start the game again.

Head shots are a thing. You will begin to hate that you throw 80 missiles (once again... LRM fiend) at someone and never a single one hits the head. The enemy walks over and shoots an SRM 2 at you and you get smacked in the noggin. Enemy pilots also have a crap ton of health. You can't kill them by knocking them down and tearing off torsos giving them wounds. You have to go for the kill.

If you kill a mech with a lucky head shot (Dragon popped around a hill and scared me. I shot and a lucky Large Laser and hit the head. One shot. My only head shot in the game by the way) you only get a "salvaged mech". You need 3 to make a full mech. So, even though I killed it with full armor and everything, I got a 1/3 mech. Much anger.

The Ugly 0_o
I really wanted a Merc mode where you can ignore the campaign and start a merc company. A non-story line mode. I feel like I have to follow the story line to keep afloat in the game. They even give you a nice dropship for it.

That's all I can think of.

So, in all, Battletech by Harebrained Schemes will suck your life away like the old Battletech games. Buy it on Steam, tell your friends goodbye, post on Facebook you are taking a hiatus, and play it for a week straight! It is that good.

Speaking of which... I need to replace that PPC with the PPC+ I salvaged from the last mission and I should have enough cash to upgrade the Argo's powerplant.... If I jump to a new sector as part of a mission that should be complete before I start the mission....


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