2016

I’ve not done ‘the meme thing’ since 2013… First of all, I had a bit of a blog break, and when I got back into it I just didn’t feel like answering all the questions there entirely truthfully. For a start, some of the questions were just a bit samey, and not much changed from year to year. I’m still not keeping up with new music, still not changed my style, etc… Other things, I have to keep confidential for important reasons.

So it feels less interesting than it could be. But, here I am, trying to get the blog back into a sort of shape. I did pretty well blogging every fortnight for a while. It was helped by a long train commute so there was plenty of time to put words in computers. Since I started a new job closer to home (and I travel by bus), that time has gone.

Still, I’m going to give blogging a go again, and in-between new posts I am trying to repair the old blog posts. More information on ‘what happened’ is going to come… soon.

Fantasy Battles – Kings of War

With the children away and the Gamer’s Edition rulebook just landed in our laps, we decided to try out Kings of War first. I didn’t bother making proper army lists, I just put out whatever of Jen’s units I could place quickly and some of my own to try and look balanced.

She had the Undead, using her Vampire Counts. These seem to map across fairly well. She had regiments of Ghouls, Zombies, Revenants (using Grave Guard) and Skeleton Warriors with two Vampire Lords.

On my side, I used the fresh new Twilight Kin placeholder with regiments of Buccaneers (Corsairs) and Bladedancers (Witch Elves), a troop of Dark Knights (Cold One Knights), a Dark Lord and a High Priestess of the Abyss (using the very appropriate Death Hag from the old Cauldron of Blood). Adding them up afterwards, both armies were around the 800 point mark.

We didn’t take any updates to any units, or use any terrain this time, and we had a 4’ x 4’ table to play on. No scenarios, no time limit, nothing.

Jen placed her units down to cover the flanks, meaning I couldn’t get around the side – I screwed up some of my movement and she got a couple of flank charges on me. My Priestess managed to avoid fighting until the very end and spent the whole game throwing Fireballs around. They are particularly effective against units like Ghouls, which were wavering on the first turn!

There’s a lot to get used to about the game. We both found it odd to do nothing on our opponent’s turn. The combat procedure of charge in, fight, move out without being hit back made it difficult to gauge fights, and progress, and who was going to survive. Early on when I could see all the charges Jen would get in against me I thought it would be a loss for me, then I had a couple of good turns and removed almost everything, making me confident that she couldn’t recover. Ultimately the game came down to my Bladedancers (with 10 damage already) being wiped out by what was left of her Zombies, before the Zombies were blown up by a Fireball. Finally, the last Vampire Lord chased down the Priestess and smashed her into the ground to become literally the last man standing, and Jen won.

When we finished, we looked at the time – it wasn’t a tiny game, though we could still have added more to it – and it took us under two hours. Given how simple the rules were (it takes two turns maximum to learn what everything is and what it does), we were both confident than a bigger game wouldn’t take too much. Compared to Warhammer (all editions until now), no units have unique rules and the stats are much simpler. There’s only a few calculations in the game and they are simple, and based on the rules. For example, Crushing Strength (2) adds 2 to your result when rolling to Damage. It’s a common rule, shared by her Vampire Lords and my Dark Lord, so it was easy for us to know what it meant.

So what did we like about it? Well, it was quick. Although we sat doing nothing until our turn, it didn’t take long to wait. It was also quick to pick up – the stats and rules are simple enough to get into the game quickly and look for tactical opportunities.

On the other hand, it felt like there could have been more choice. I realise that this could be down to only having a few units either side, and not really paying attention to the army lists (the criteria was “this is already ranked on the shelf” and not “what would be an interesting or effective army”), and not using scenarios or terrain. Years of extremely infrequent Warhammer games have steered me towards straight Pitched Battles to keep things simple but Kings of War is simple enough to pick it up from scratch and play a couple of thousand points in a couple of hours, so I don’t think a scenario would be too difficult to add to the core rules.

It’s also a little bit more abstract, yet more realistic. The way that units move – specifically the interpenetration of units while moving (sometimes referred to in Warhammer as ‘virtual pivots’) means that large regiments can reorder in a way properly representative of a real unit. Knowing several people involved in historical re-enactment, I have been told a number of ways that units in wargames don’t behave like real units would. On the abstract side, your attacks, roll to hit and damage is purely a score. It’s not immediately or directly related to the weapons or units, unless you begin looking at them and comparing to similar units in their army or others and telling yourself that this unit must have more attacks because it has two weapons, or that unit has Crushing Strength because they have halberds. In old Warhammer, you would look at a unit’s list of equipment and calculate from that your armour save and damage output. In Kings of War it’s all pre-calculated and without putting that little bit of personal analysis in, it didn’t make immediate sense. Luckily the units that I’d picked were, on both sides, relatable to their statistics. The Witch Elves Bladedancers even acted in a manner I would have expected them to by causing extra morale damage and ignoring morale trouble in their own unit!

Overall, we are both keen to try this out again. Next up though is a play-through of Age of Sigmar to see what this new spin on Warhammer can offer.

Fantasy Battles!

Big news in the world of Fantasy Battles! Warhammer is dead, long live Warhammer!

Warhammer as I know it and love it has been scrapped entirely, and replaced with a new game – Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. I’ve been playing Warhammer to a greater or lesser extent since 4th edition, and it went out on 8th edition. Unfortunately, I only managed to get a few games in of eighth because of time and friends who play dwindling and children making it more and more difficult for Jen and I to set up the table and get the armies out for a game at the weekend.

Not only was the game replaced by Age of Sigmar, but it went out with a five-part series which introduced all manner of game-breaking rules, while the story progressed ever more apocalyptic until the world itself was destroyed – utterly. And I have come to terms with the reasons for this. The background was seen as “too difficult” for new players to get into (I disagree, but we’ll let it slide), the rules were seen as much too complicated and the entry price to the game was too steep. I agree that the rules were complex. Although it was what players like me enjoyed about the game, it gave it tactical depth, it’s not exactly the easiest learning curve for beginners. And the starter price of an army was somewhere in the region of £250, sometimes including books and sometimes not. To have more options or a bigger game, you were obviously adding a whole bunch more to that.

Now, the core rules are free. And a ‘get you by’ set of lists to use the old armies in Age of Sigmar are also free. There are a few big differences though:

  1. Simple rules, only four pages long.
  2. No points costs, balance is decided between friends.
  3. Old armies are not coming back; these are a sticky plaster for old players.

The downsides of these things are:

  1. No tactical depth; there’s no point to manoeuvring.
  2. Balance between friends will be a matter of trial and error; balance between strangers is impossible.
  3. I love my old armies!

Balance is the big thing. I understand that balance is now a matter of “don’t be a dick” but in reality, my mate and I will need to play a few games to determine what is fair between us. Then we’ll go to a club and either get walked over for being totally useless (maybe our opponent has decided something else is fair with his regular opponents, maybe he’s a dick, maybe he’s trying out something new and doesn’t realise the disparity) or we’ll get thrown out for bringing an unstoppable power force and not playing fair.

Having read the rules, and some reviews, I have come to a few conclusions. It will be a smaller, possibly faster game than old Warhammer but it will not scale well. Every unit plays differently, with different special rules. Very few cross-cutting rules, and very little that can be cross-applied, and since units no longer move as units it will take more time to move things across the table. It will not take as much manoeuvring as the old game, it will be more a matter of “push it forward”.

I am planning to be fair to it, and give it a try. If it is quicker, maybe we’ll have time for a game in the evening when the kids have gone to bed, and it’ll be nice to use the old armies. On the other hand, the game isn’t the same style as I had, doesn’t have the background I loved, and it sounds like they want to rely on scenarios (read: future purchases) to introduce balance and purpose to games. If the rules depth I want isn’t there, and the background I want isn’t there, and my armies won’t be an ongoing part of the game… what’s in it for me?

On the other hand, Kings of War is on its way too. The rules are also free. And it is also faster and just as tactical as old Warhammer. I’ve been meaning to give it a go for a while, and this will be the push. Having read through that this last week, it is very big on manoeuvring. Getting into an opponent’s flank is devastating, getting to the rear is absolute murder. The game is focused on units rather than models, so pushing things around is quicker. It also doesn’t have the background that I have grown to love, but at this point that’s no longer a concession – and they are also planning on army lists to match the old GW ones so with any luck, my Dark Elves will have a place. Having read through, I could probably use my Wood Elves as “Elves” or as “Forces of Nature” and with Undead Jen is pretty well set in any Fantasy game.

So my plan is to try out both of these games, then report back on how they went and which one we’ll move forward with. Wish us luck!

In defence of my rights

Our new government wants to take away our human rights. Well, specifically, they want to take away the Human Rights Act which allows us to prosecute breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights in this country. The main narrative for this is to “bring it home” and “stop the unelected judges in Strasbourg ruling on British matters”.

These are complete nonsense.

1. The ECHR binds us whether we have the Human Rights Act or not, and all citizens of states signed up to the ECHR have the right to prosecute in the courts in Strasbourg. Scrapping the Human Rights Act will not stop people going to Strasbourg for human rights issues.

2. The Human Rights Act is what allows us to prosecute human rights issues in this country. Scrapping it will not give us more power to prosecute human rights in this country than we already have.

3. The ‘unelected judges in Strasbourg’ are actually elected by the MEPs we send to the EU. The judges in this country are not elected.

We are being placated by being told that a new British Bill of Rights will hold all the parts of the existing Human Rights Act (itself a clarification on the ECHR) but without the nasty terrorist-friendly bits. I am sceptical about this, since the ECHR is very, very simple. It is written in short, friendly passages and protects our rights to not be tortured, to not be arrested without cause, to not be executed by our government and also more day-to-day rights – right to freedom of assembly, of political thought and belief, of privacy. I can’t think of a new British Bill of Rights (note the word “human” isn’t there anymore) that contains all the important bits of the ECHR (all of them), and then comes down harder on terrorists somehow.

There are a few different interpretations on what the government wants to achieve with this action.

The Scheming Narrative

The government knows that the ECHR binds us just the same, and is doing this to trick the frothing, ill-informed masses for whom Human Rights have become synonymous with turning the UK into a terrorist hide-out, preventing us from arresting or deporting dangerous criminals who hate this country and everyone in it and it’s only a matter of time before we’re all murdered in our beds by religious zealots.

The trick will be thinking that the government has come down hard on Human Rights and sorted out the problem. In reality, nothing much has changed, except that it may be slightly more difficult to solve a legitimate human rights grievance – you’ll need to go to Strasbourg, the same way as if the Human Rights Act in this country doesn’t work for you.

I want to believe that we are not just being placated and condescended to by politicians who don’t think we can handle the truth. On the other hand, the policy makers are not idiots and they must know that the solution they’ve offered will not solve the problem they have described.

The Cynical Narrative

This one declares that the HRA is only a first step, and seeing the above about scrapping it being almost pointless because the ECHR continues to tie us up, the ECHR will be next.

If you look at government policy over the last five years, and proposed policy, I believe we have found a crazy conspiracy theory for the reasons why the Human Rights Act needs to go.

1. The Snooper’s Charter: Our right to Privacy is protected.

2. Capital Punishment: Michael Gove, the new Justice Secretary, is on record as supporting hanging. The Death Penalty is forbidden by the ECHR.

3. Privatisation of the Probation Service: The government has been pushing through a controversial privatisation of the probation service, and on top of a horrifically shambolic implementation the ECHR had ruled that to make profit on unpaid labour (ie, probation community service) is ‘forced labour’ and/or slavery, and illegal.

4. Workfare: As above, but with less risk to the public’s safety than a privatisation of criminal rehabilitation. Forced Labour is forbidden by the ECHR.

5. Proposed ‘anti-extremism’ laws: The government wants to crack down on extremists and radical groups that “stop short of terrorist activity”. This would allow the police to break up groups for radicalising others or for being “against British values of democracy or tolerance”, even if no crime has been committed.

This last one causes the most problems for me. It will probably come up against the rights we have of Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Association and Freedom of Belief, as well as our right to not be arrested if no crime has been committed. And even if it is only used to attack nearly-terrorist groups, why should I lose my human rights over it?

It could also be claimed that the Green Party speaks out against British values of democracy, as they are demanding electoral reform – implicitly stating that British Democracy is not working. UKIP speak out against tolerance – just listen to their rabid attacks on immigrants. And from where I sit, the Conservative parties intolerance of our right to meet who we want, say what we want, think what we want and be allowed to conceal it from the government (assuming that we are not criminals) is counter to British values of tolerance, and their dogged commitment to the First Past the Post system is counter to the British values of democracy. A party that can claim a majority government from 37% of a 66% voting turnout is clearly not democratic. Once you start defining political parties as extremist groups you start moving awfully close to some dangerous precedents.

Even if the woolly definitions are not intentional, the government’s “porn filter” on the internet was designed not just to block titillating or extremist material, but “esoteric material”. What are toy soldiers, old sci-fi shows and thoughts on programming on this blog but esoteric material? What is wrong with material “understood by or only meant for the select few who have special knowledge or interest”?

What do I think?

I really don’t know. I want the HRA to stay, since it’ll be easier to bring my grievances about my human rights being trampled to court in the UK rather than go to Strasbourg. I definitely want the ECHR to stay since to leave that will jeopardise our Acts of Union with Scotland and Northern Ireland (and probably Wales), our position in the Council of Europe (we would have to leave) and the respect that other nations have for us. We do not want a reputation of being dismissive of human rights. It will probably adversely affect our ability to inform policy in the United Nations. At worst, it will set an example for countries like Russia that it’s OK to just leave these regulatory bodies, conventions and responsibilities and do whatever the hell you feel like, and set the cause of global human rights back by a fair whack.

In summary, the government will do the country a great disservice by leaving the ECHR. It will do the people a great disservice by pretending that scrapping the HRA on it’s own will “bring more power home” because it will do exactly the opposite – make it easier to prosecute human rights violations in Strasbourg than in Britain.

Hobby Projects, and Why I Missed An Update

Whoops, missed a scheduled post back there. I was expecting to be able to add a write-up about the MWWS charity tournament in Builth Wells, but unfortunately was struck down ill that weekend and was unable to attend. I was extra disappointed because I was supposed to be driving two other players to the tournament, and we were unable to organise alternative transport.

I’m trying to work on building up a buffer of posts for the site to ensure I always have something ready to go ahead of time, but I’ve been working on a few hobby projects instead. One of these is a revival of my Gorkamorka/Necromunda skirmish engine in WPF, and is coming along nicely for the moment. It’s nowhere near finished, and it’s never going to have pretty graphics, but I’m practicing my architecture design on it (as a large, complicated project it will be ideal for that). The other is an actual public website: www.dreadballhub.com.

Right now, it’s a small website that only has two features. The first is an Xtreme team manager (this will need to be completely rewritten in a month or two when the Player Handbook comes out), that calculates an Xtreme team from the two sponsor options in the book. You can even download the finished roster as a PDF. It’s not entirely pretty, but it works.

The second feature is a relatively new one: a game tracker. Someone made one previously (back when DreadBall was barely out). They closed it down last June as they walked away from the game, citing irreconcilable balance issues and a difference between the support requested and the support given. A number of people have requested that the database be reopened.

I did consider building it earlier this year, but I had heard that Mantic were going to have an all-singing all-dancing ranking website to track players in tournaments, record games, and all of that jazz. Since it hasn’t appeared (and I’m still waiting on Windows Phone versions of the existing Mantic Digital apps) I thought “well blow it, I can write code” and dived into the project.

There’s more things that I want to add, but I figured it would be best to get the site out there and collect data. Even if it’s not publicly visible yet, it’s there and working behind the scenes.

One thing that I want to add (that will be difficult without an internet connection on my lunch/code breaks) is a way to login to the site (with Google/Twitter/etc) so that individual players can be identified as being great players. Identifying the opponent that you played against, however, will be much harder and I’ll need to think about the process before I do any work. Possibly each player will need a unique name of some kind after they’ve logged in to be identified by their opponents? I can also see the possibility of abuse, if people record massive wins against you that never happened, and so a system of verifying games becomes necessary as well as a way to record games against unregistered players.

So that’s what I’ve been up to instead of going to tournaments and writing blog posts. I’m still aiming to be at the Wales and South West Regional tournament in two and a half weeks (yikes, best get painting) and trying to decide if it’s worth trekking across the country for the South-East and Southern regionals too.

That address to remember is www.dreadballhub.com and feel free to suggest new features! I’m looking for new ways to expand it and make a useful community resource.

Vanguard League Season Two – Part 2

Well, the latter half of my league frittered away a bit. I got in a game against Dan and managed to win by a landslide pretty quickly, so we pulled out some Season Four teams and had a follow-on for fun game. My last game was scheduled against Oli, but due to impending babies we had to call it off. That left me a fairly solid third place out of six.

I ended up winning the “Hot Shot” for most four-pointers, and the most violent was Oli with a grand total of two kills. Not a very angry bunch, are we. Merrick managed to come fourth despite missing three of his games (two of which were giveaways to his opponents, rather than the draw we took in the first round).

Stuart took the league with his Void Sirens – five wins, no losses, top for cheers and score difference. Incredible!

Running a league is hard – I was told that the hardest part is getting people to play their games. I did my best, but Division One ended up not playing a single game. Division Two (which I was in) managed most of our games – I think four out of the fifteen failed (two were mine, whoops).

I wouldn’t mind giving it a go later in the year. I might relax some of the MVP rules to make it a bit easier to get them, and maybe rejuggle the Division system. It worked great for Liam last season, but it didn’t really work out this time around and I feel like being promoted to the division that doesn’t play games is hardly a reward for our division’s star!

I had fun playing the Z’zor but it would have been nice to get some more games in. I think if we did it again, I might relax the fixtures a little more – two week timeslot to play a game, against anybody, but keep the round-robin style. Maybe even four weeks to play two games to allow for some slippage without holding everyone up. It’s something to consider for later in the year anyway, I have enough to get on with without trying to launch another league so soon.

Tournaments and Painting Progress 2015

The dates for this years DreadBall tournaments have been announced – about a half-dozen Regional events around the country finished up with a National tournament in October, meaning a tournament season of around six months.

As well as the Regional events this year, some tournaments can be “qualifying” events with the same nice trophies and free entry to the Nationals for the winner. Information on these has been thin on the ground but there is one happening in mid-Wales hosted by the Mid-Wales Wargaming Society, which will be raising money for charity (the Wales Air Ambulance Charity).

The Bristol tournament organisation has changed – Bristol Vanguard will only be running one tournament this year. It will be an independent event outside of the official tournament circuit, around September time.

The Wales Regional has been renamed the Wales and South-West Regional, possibly in recognition of the fact that not only has every Wales Regional winner been from outside Wales, but every other player too! Rather ironic, as I believe this is the first year that a Welsh person is going to attend.

Looking at the calendar, it is possible for me to reach the MWWS event in Builth Wells, the Wales and South-West Regional, the South Regional (in Brighton) and possibly the London Regional in a single day-trip, although a lot of driving. Everywhere else is just too far away. We will still be making the effort to go to Nottingham for the National tournament in October.

I’m hoping to get some of the new teams painted in time for these tournaments. I’ll be trying to take something different each time (and my Veer-myn are on a well-earned vacation) but what those teams are will depend on how well I do. I can see myself bringing Martians to a tournament later in the year because they were just so much fun to play, even being totally useless!

On the painting front, I’ve been able to do a little bit of painting most evenings for the past few weeks. It’s not a lot, but it’s getting the main coats down on a lot of teams or doing a bit more work if I’m not too tired to concentrate. The Asterians are getting (frustrating) progress, the skin on the Sphyr and Grogans are finished, and I’m working on the Rebs uniforms before tackling their various skin tones. I was impressed when I realised that the Gaelian Jack (a centaur-like alien) was wearing a jumpsuit designed for it’s unique physiology – good show that designer!

As much as I love the Hobgoblins, I have no idea how to paint them. I don’t like the colour scheme in the book. I’m tempting to go for something yellow-brown and green without looking too much like the Veer-myn. Maybe if I use some of my new blending skills to make the armour transition from one colour to the other in a more organic style than solid plates. One of the downsides of the Xtreme Kickstarter is that there aren’t “spare” models for each team like there were in the original DreadBall Kickstarter, so I can’t experiment with a bold style and then throw it away if it doesn’t work. That would mean opening up the mint, untouched, brand new bag with the duplicate team in.

Another challenge in painting the Hobgoblins will be arriving at a good colour scheme that fits both the scrawny, pathetic, stinky players and the Hulk.

My painting table at the moment is very disordered – I have Convicts, Kalyshi and Rebels on it as well as DBX scenery. There’s still a few teams from Seasons One to Three unpainted (sorry Forge Fathers…) and a few that are practically finished but for highlights. I’m helping a friend out with a DreadBall demo day in a couple of weeks and I anticipate being able to paint between demo games so maybe I’ll get something finished off in that time. Even though I’m jumping around (a lot), it’s all progress and despite not really finishing any teams that I’m working on quickly, I know that it’s helping me get them closer to finished without feeling like I’m rushing anything in particular.

Vanguard League Season Two – part 1

With our normal organiser getting too busy, the second season was delayed slightly – and then taken up by a new organiser. Me!

I always said that if no-one else organised leagues or tournaments in Bristol, I would have to do it myself. So here I am.

I kept the two divisions from the first season – there were a number of drop-outs, and a bunch of new players, which roughly evened out. Division One was a player short, so each round someone has to sit out and do nothing but it’s all equal and they’ll get the same number of games.

For this league, I’m going to be taking the Z’zor. I find that I usually get better at playing a team if I take them in a league, so my aim is to work out how these bashy teams work (while sticking with my familiar “Skill 5+” style).

Game One – Merrick

We started with the best of intentions – we both turned up on time. To different venues. We weren’t able to reschedule, so I put it down as 0-pts each. Technically, we did both turn up and nobody won the game.

Game Two – Adrian’s Rats

This game went fairly well – I scored a few 3-pointers but so did the Rats. Fortunately, they dropped more strike attempts than I did so I squeezed out a 3 point lead (could have been 4, but for a last minute score by the Veer-myn).

The highlight for me was one Z’zor Striker scoring an achievement by throwing a 9-hex pass to another Z’zor Striker, and having it be caught. It took both coaching dice, but he made it! It only got a single cheer pip, but that’s not too bad.

After the game, one of my Strikers got Grizzled on the Extra Coaching table (which makes him extremely hard to hurt) and the Guard got Quick Recovery on the S2 advance table, on the off-chance that he actually gets hurt. I chose the S1 Extra Coaching table since 4 of the 6 options are attractive to a Z’zor Striker – Can’t Feel A Thing essentially means “choose” in addition to the normal “choose” option, Lucky is universally useful and a Skill improvement is definitely welcome for 5+ players. So it stands to reason that he should gain Grizzled instead. At least I can be sure that he won’t get damaged when I come up against the two Marauder teams near the end of the league…

Game Three – Stuart’s S2 Corporation

This game was nail-biting – by turn 6 I was 5 points down, but my Guard was moving up the pitch knocking out anyone standing in the three-point zone. Unfortunately, no player went out for more than two turns and my defence was almost empty, making it easy for Stuart to score three points most turns. From that halfway point, I got lucky and scored a four-pointer for each three-pointer scored against me until I actually had a point in my favour. Unfortunately, in rush 12 he scored 3 to bring the score to two in his favour, I missed my four-point shot in rush 13 but to balance, he missed his three-point shot in rush 14.

So the game ended as a loss, but I made it as tough as I could (and I’m amazed that Z’zor Strikers can score four-pointers…) We tried out the Achievements rules again, and since I was mostly beating up human Jacks I got a lot of “triple-Slam” results. Unfortunately, most of these (and my fan checks in general) ended up being events. With an extra Coaching Dice, maybe I’d have won…

After the game, my second Striker gained a Skill advancement (again, on the S1 Extra Coaching table). And I’m aware of the counter-intuitiveness of complaining about not having enough Coaching Dice and then spending one to roll on an advancement table. Don’t judge me.

Kickstarter Roundup

It’s been an interesting few years for me with Kickstarter – here’s where I’m at with all of my backed projects.

Order of the Stick Reprint Drive

This was my first Kickstarter, and is still outstanding. The reason for that though is clear – the sole artist and writer of the saga damaged his hand pretty badly shortly after the Kickstarter, and has been fulfilling the bonus content as and when he can since then. It should be noted that the core pledge – books – were delivered on time without problem and I’ve received all the physical goods I ordered. The remaining things are mostly digital short stories, and I can wait for those to drip in slowly for another couple of years. I trust Rich to be able to fulfil the Kickstarter promises, and in theory all the bonus content will actually make up half of an extra book – if the promises made don’t mandate exclusivity, of course. I’m not hung up on exclusivity myself, but I know some people can get really irate about that sort of thing.

Broken Age

It’s been an interesting project, given that the whole thing has been relatively public on video since it’s inception. I’m getting a bit itchy since finishing Act One, and the pace of the videos has slowed down dramatically, and before too long they’ll be going dark for Amnesia Fortnight again. Hopefully, there’ll at least be some more AF videos this year even if the Broken Age ones are slowing down.

Wasteland 2

An entirely complete project! I only put in for the game itself, and no physical rewards, so I’m absolutely thrilled with the final result. The only problem is that my aging graphics card finally gave up and packed in. I’ll need to get a new one before I can play any more modern games.

Broken Sword

I was a huge fan of the original Broken Sword games, I remember getting awfully stuck on the first one (the goat…) with my cousin on the Playstation. I still haven’t completed BS4 yet, but the control system was just too unpleasant to deal with. I’ll try and get back to it one day, I expect. This Kickstarter delivered on time, and it delivered an awesome game. Not as hard as some of the older games, but not a pushover either.

Satellite Reign

This is possibly the riskiest project that I’ve backed – it is by a studio I’m not familiar with remaking a game I loved but was no good at. It’s still ticking along, and I’m aware of the long lead time in games (looking at the finished or nearly finished projects that I’ve backed, that’s clearer to me now) and their work in progress has been encouraging so far. They’ve also just released keys for Steam Early Access, which is a relief!

Torment: Tides of Numenera

I backed this because I was so confident in the team to deliver Wasteland 2, and because I know people who loved Planescape: Torment. I never got that far into it, and was playing it years behind the times when UI conventions had changed a lot (2d to 3d, no zoom, etc) and it makes some games age poorly. At the time, I could have loved it but interface and resolution had come a long way and I didn’t like the feeling that I was dying too much…

Cirque du Mort

The latest project that I’ve backed, on a recommendation from a friend. It’s a comic book that by KS prices comes out pretty cheap – definitely worth a shot to see how it goes.

DreadBall and Xtreme

These two projects really hit me hard, I fell for DreadBall bad during the Kickstarter and bought almost everything (figuring I could sell it on later at a profit if I wanted to). When Xtreme came around, I just went for the “one of everything” pledge to make it easier, rather than keep adding stuff on. To this day, the only thing I’ve had to buy for DreadBall separately is the Azure Forest expansion.

I picked up the Xtreme game at the Open Day, and look forward to getting the first Season Four bits in the new year! It’ll be great to finally play with them, but I’ll have to get cracking on the painting…

Mars Attacks

This one didn’t interest me until it added a DreadBall team add-on. That’s all I went for, so I was surprised when I was sent the digital rules as well. Turns out that the rules for the DB team are hidden somewhere in one of the expansions – hopefully, they will be available to the world at large sometime afterwards.

As far as I’m aware, it delivered on time for me. I know some things were delayed but only by a few weeks, so it shouldn’t have been too big a deal.

Dungeon Saga

So I’m becoming a bit of a Mantic fan. This looked like another good, quick game to play and also a good introduction for older children to complex games. As a bonus it’s co-operative and multiplayer, so it could be brought out for a games night (full campaign in a day?) with the option of pitching it at “out of the box” mode for new players or “analysis paralysis” for the keen roleplayers amongst us. I went in for one of everything again… whoops.

Kings of War Second Edition

Oh dear. Another Mantic project. I only wanted one model, but with postage added it was only a little extra to get the rulebooks as well… so I went in at the low level, no upgrades, just to get the Blaine miniature. It might be easier to get a large fantasy game in as well since the rules are faster than Warhammer.

The Underground: A Sam & Fuzzy RPG

This one I backed on a whim. It looks like a silly, cartoony RPG much like the comic it’s based on. It might be a good game to play between our (no longer regular) regular RPGs, which are always planned as pretty serious and straight stories and then meet the players.

Shadowrun

Hooray, we’re back to roleplaying! Dan is running a Shadowrun-ish game for us. At least, the word “shadowrun” has been mentioned in the world, I don’t know if that is really the system or not.

There was once an Alliance in the galaxy, rather idealistic, that was destroyed by alien invaders. The aliens were driven off, but the Alliance was totally smashed up. In it’s place are Corporations, behind the scenes on every planet and local government.

There’s a diverse range of species – our crew has a female human chemist (a bit of a pusher…), an Ogre soldier, a Dwarf engineer and an Orc medic. We are on a largely-lawless pleasure planet, where almost anything goes. On our way to a local restaurateur (Fat Jeff) to look for make-work, we were followed by a shady character. Trying to lose this miscreant we ended up in the robot red-light district, in which another shady character jumped out in front of us and threw a datapad at us. It had instructions for a meeting.

This meeting occurred in an abandoned warehouse, and we were offered substantial rewards for assisting in the resurrection of the Alliance, and the subsequent throttling of Corporation power. We were given free rein to choose what equipment we liked. The mission was to destroy a device involved in time-travel and/or inter-dimensional travel – dangerous stuff.

After a quick trial of combat against some holographic practice dummies, we were ready to leave the planet and head to our destination in the SS Shagnasty IV – an Orc garbage scow.

The spaceport was surrounded by an angry mob… we didn’t see any need to worry, so we snuck onto our ship and set course. Arriving, we found a forest planet with very little traffic and almost no buildings at all – the facility that we wanted was out of the way, and had a landing pad. We radioed in, told them we were in trouble (pushing smoke out of the engines and wiggling the steering wheel to make it believable) and that we needed to land to make repairs. We were allowed, and met by a human woman who said her job was receptionist (good to see some old-school sexism in the fantastic future).

We managed to get a tour of the facility, which stood up to it’s claim of being a pharmaceutical research centre (not the advanced physics danger we had been told about) until we got to the room with a strange device – our guide couldn’t explain the “difficult science bits” but it was a way to get drugs to emergency zones faster than anyone else – the very instant they are required, in fact – and have enough of them produced to deal with the emergency. Sounds like something time-travel-ish for sure.

Just then, the facility was attacked! Our guide ran off to the bunker, we stayed behind to destroy the machine and download the plans for ourselves. We met some of the attackers (who didn’t stand a chance…) and made it through to the bunker. Opening the door, we found lots of dead people and a big creature who had clearly made a nest in there. We closed the door and left.

On the way out, we encountered one of the attackers carrying a big box who asked us who we were before saying “Oh, you must be the distraction.” This rankled us, so we killed him and headed to the ship. As we left, we saw the other ship being loaded with crates and loot so we destroyed it (hooray for hand-held nuke launchers!) and made it into orbit where we were congratulated for a successful job and informed that payment was in our accounts.

A few troubling things here – the technology stolen/destroyed doesn’t appear to be what we assumed it was, the facility was set up and we were part of it, and whoever organised the whole thing either doesn’t know that we screwed the other part of the plan, or are not working directly with the other team (and have no problem with their failure). I’m very interested to see where we go next…