I’ve been on a tear recently, painting a number of models in quick succession. I started out trying to catch my Cryx army up this year to fully painted, and I’m well on my way.

The list started out this year like this

Asphyxious III
Vociferon
Deneghra I
Erebus
Scavenger
Plastic Slayer Omnijack
Plastic Crab Omnijack
Revenant Crew Riflemen x3
Iron Lich Overseer
Bane Thrall UA
Bane Knights x10

I’ve now managed to Burn it down a bit

Asphyxious III
Vociferon
Deneghra I
Erebus
Scavenger
Plastic Slayer Omnijack
Plastic Crab Omnijack
Revenant Crew Riflemen x3
Iron Lich Overseer
Bane Thrall UA
Bane Knights x10

and while I’ve been painting It got me thinking about a number of things regarding painting itself that I really wished I’d have known back when I started that really, really helped me be a better painter. Some of these are going to come out of left field, but some of them should be helpful.

Lets start at the beginning, shall we.

Brushes! Everyone uses them, and the many people know what brushes the highest level painters use.
Ghool reviews them Here.

raphael-8404

But why use a good brush to begin with? I didn’t use one until I painted the Kraken two years ago, and only then because I had a specific purpose. First, because almost every synthetic brush will curl. This creates a huge problem when trying to be accurate while painting. Its very hard to stick to raised edges, hit eyes, and put on accurate highlights with a curved brush. I used to think it was a moderately helpful defect, but once I grabbed a Natural Hair brush, I was sold.
Additionally, most synthetic brushes you can get cheaply are water repellent, which means that the paint goes on the brush instead of in the brush. This results in a synthetic brush drying up quicker, as the water is exposed to the air instead of encapsulated in the brush. It also results in almost no control over the paint itself, as the water tension will work to release all the paint at once as soon as the brush touches the model. This adds into the first aspect, as you’ll tend to use less paint in the brush each time you go back to the paint. This in turn will result in a less smooth model as you constantly have to run back to the palette to get more paint. Additionally, synthetics tend to fray insanely fast, busting out in every direction as soon as you look at them. In a year and a half of constant use, I’ve had three individual hairs fray on my two natural brushes.
Finally, and this one applies only if you’re trying it, they don’t wet blend. I tried almost every brush with every tactic I had in order to get the wet blend to work on my Kraken, until Meg Maples told me to get actual, real, brushes. Lo and behold, it solved the problem.

Now, I always thought that the brushes were expensive, and they are, but they also last a lot longer, and perform better than most synthetics. I recommend Dick Blick for all you’re brush needs. I ordered mine a few days back, and they arrived 4 days before the expected delivery date!

Connected to the paint, is the palette. regardless of whether you use wet or dry, its extremely important that you paint with watered down paint. When I was trying to figure it out, the term they were trying to use was “consistency of whole milk” whatever that meant.  I don’t know a really good way to say it, but the right watered down consistency feels correct on the brush, its not runny, and applies right where you want it, without needing pressure. If its too runny, add more paint. If its too hard to apply, add more water. Its not a science, yet, but you eventually get used to it.

wet palette

Along these lines lies the scrubby brush, which is something that Meg Maples told me about. Its simply an old brush purposed to fix mistakes while painting. I’ll let Meg’s article explain. In all seriousness, this thing has saved more projects and more time than I could have ever expected!

Once you’ve gotten a set of brushes, I usually go with a 1 and a 2, the palette and scrubby brush ready to go, Its time to get to actual model work. I am a firm believer that the right primer makes for the best model possible, and after trying a number of different ones, I’ve settled on the best. Dupli-Color Sandable Automotive Primer. Its amazing, is thin, and sticks like hell to the models. Without a clear coat, I’ve only had one chip on all the models I’ve painted with it so far, and that is on Gorman Di Sea Wulfe’s stiletto, a pointy and vulnerable part.

Lastly, before we even start painting, there are methods to holding your model so your oily, nasty skin doesn’t rub off the primer. I used to just try and hold the model, but that gets very nasty, very fast. Your hand can cramp right up, and your fingers tend to rub the primer off of places that you hold often: Head, weapons, etc. We’ve all seen pinning to a dowel, and that works for some, but what I really like it an old spray point lid. I’ll put double sided tape on the top, and just slap my model on it to paint. The hand has a lot more area to grip and I’ve painted models as large as Karchev this way, including tipping him upside-down to get some underparts. I will say that you can re-use the tape, but every part exposed to the air tends to get less and less sticky over time.

While this method is good, I can’t say that it works for large units or multiple models. What I have seen recently is an ingenious idea I have blatantly stolen. I saw a whole unit of Gunmages sticky-tacked to the top of the old GW paint bottles. The Hexagonal ones. just load up on the sticky tack and press them in. Voila, small based models ready to go!

The very last thing I’d like to point out is food and drink. Many people suffer from unstable or shaky hands, and this can partially be alleviated in some form by a few small steps. First, paint on a full stomach. Being hungry and low on sugar can cause your hands to shake, and it can be extremely distracting. Avoid high doses of caffeine while painting. I know its good for an up all nighter right before a con, but its a stimulant, and that can really exacerbate the shaking.  lastly, if your the type to partake in adult beverages, have a cocktail or beer while painting. Alcohol is a depressant, and it can really slow down the blood and quell the shaking. And, who doesn’t want to have a white Russian while painting Khador? I mean, really!

Next time out, probably next Thursday, I’ll be talking very basic color theory. Even just these little points have helped me immensely with difficult to shade and highlight colors.

Over the weekend, at Adepticon, Privateer pre-released the hordes equivalent of the journeyman warcasters for Hordes: Una the Falconer, Horgul Ironstrike, and Tyrant Zaadesh. Each of them brings different skills and abilities to their faction, some with more effect than others.

While I think Una and Ironstrike are neat, what I really want to talk about is Zaadesh. Skorne is my Primary Hordes faction, and I see a ton of really cool tactics with this guy.

So, who is he? Tyrant Zaadesh:

Zaadesh full

on the surface, he doesn’t look much like the other two Lesser Warlocks. He gives no discount on warbeasts, but he also has a battlegroup unlimited in selection. Both Una and Horgul have Their warbeast selection limited: Una to Warbeasts with flight (currently only the Rotterhorn Griffon, Scarsfell Griffon, and Razorwing Griffon) and Horgul to Pyre Trolls and Slag Trolls. Zaadesh’s greatest flexibility comes in his Warbeast selection.

Zaadesh is a fairly middle of the road fighter: MAT 6 and P+S 12 are nothing to get extremely giddy about. Magic Weapon is nice, of course, and reach is always welcome, especially with SPD 6.DEF 13 is good, but not great, and ARM 15 is durable enough, especially with 4 fury.

His card is nice and short: two spells and two rules. The first spell, perdition, is a pretty good one. Now, It’ll get a lot of hate from a lot of people. Its an offensive spell on a 4 fury caster, which means you’ve got an especially poor starting point for hitting your target. However, I will not be fooled. I originally though the same exact thing about Wrong Eyes Voodoo Doll, and I was proven horribly, terribly wrong repeatedly. Wrong eye doesn’t even shirk at going after high defense targets either. Boosting is an immensely powerful ability, turning the hit total of 11 into an average hit total of between 15 and 16. Choosing the right target helps of course, but you can reliably hit almost every infantry model in the game with Zaadesh’s Perdition. POW 10 isn’t anything to write home about either, but any infantry under arm 15 is most probably taking a dirt nap, and arm 16 is a good bet too. You can push the envelope by boosting to damage, but this would be extremely dangerous. Leaving him with no fury and only 5 wounds will likely end with a Zaadesh sized bloodstain. his range of targets for perdition, overall, is fairly good. You do have to know what your getting into when you cast it though. Pushing the Def 14 and/or arm 15 envelope is going to be a tricky proposition, and most times not worth it. The payoff, though, can be devastating. Moving a beast into position early is not to be underestimated.

Especially with his second spell, Tag Team. A new spell, as far as I am aware, and a really good one at that. Granting Gang: Battlegroup is a pretty impressive ability for an upkeep spell. This is doubly true when a number of Skorne warbeast have reach: Molik Karn, Cyclops Savage, Cyclops Brute, Cyclops Shaman, Tiberion, Titan Sentry, Despoiler, and the Rhinodon. Enabling the gang bonus here is pretty simple. The real bonus, here, is the universal MAT bonus, something that Skorne on its own isn’t very capable of. Only three casters have any way to boost MAT: Carnage, Carnivore, and Death March. Having the ability to bring a Warbeast MAT buff is incredibly powerfull, and the capacity for warbeasts to boost on the fly really takes it up to 11.

The first of his two rules is the basic lesser warlock setup, stating that he is not, for rules purposes, a warlock. He does, however, have the capacity to act as one, with the following rules: Battlgroup Commander, Control Area, Damage Transference, Forcing, Fury Manipulation, Healing and Spellcaster. This makes a difference for a few of our models, but overall, is just clarifications.

The second rule, though, much like his second spell, has me a bit giddy. Protective Battlegroup gives every warbeast in his battlegroup an Improved Shield Guard rule. He can only activate it once a turn, no matter how many beasts are nearby, but a free transfer for Ranged or Magic attacks is pretty good.

Tyrant Zaadesh, Lesser Warlock

Tyrant Zaadesh, Lesser Warlock

All of the Hordes warlocks, however, are in a strange place in the game. Unlike in warmachine, hordes really doesn’t need to promote the use of their heavies and lights: the rules of the game require them. Therefore, Lesser warlocks, unlike Journeymen Warcasters, will not be reducing the load on the leader of the force and making them more effective. What they will be doing is taking the place of a unit or slew of solos. This makes evaluating them moderately tough, and their value must be gauged with that in mind. Sometimes, however, you want a few extra warbeasts on the board for their animus or for a specific task, and your warlock doesn’t have the fury capacity to run all the beasts you like. In steps the new Lesser warlocks. With the ability to control warbeasts, especially specialist ones, and allow your Warlock to focus on bringing more big bruisers, it could be just what the doctor ordered.

There are a number of curious interactions, as well, with some of our support models. Because he’s not a warlock, you cannot attach Marketh, and he cannot use either spellslave or Soul tap for Zaadesh. The Mortitheurge Willbreaker’s Beastmaster works just fine, as it is the Willbreaker himself who is forcing the beast. Ancillary attack works too as its targets friendly faction warbeast, which is exactly what Zaadesh brought along. Zaadesh Cannot move fury to, or leach from, an Agnoizer, as the rule explicitly states Warlock. Craft Talisman, either from a Cyclops Shaman or Farrow Bonegrinders, cannot be applied to Zaadesh or any of the lesser warlocks because they are not warlocks, as the rule specifically calls out.

 

Zaadesh has a number of interesting setups that I want to try out. Some of them are less tenable than others, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t rattling around in my head. I have three, specifically, I am looking to grab.

1: Zaadesh, Titan Sentry, Cyclops Brute – This is just the Pain Nugget. With the ability to shrug off three ranged attacks a turn before transfers, he should have no problem getting into the mix. Those same three shield guards will allow him to drop a perdition an a vulnerable target in order to launch the Brute into a target, setting up the titan for a MAT 7 P+S 20 turn, and then getting the Brutes activation on top. That is not gonna make anyone happy.

2: Zaadesh. Reptile Hound x4 – This is a crazy, just for chuckles event. Tag Team will allow up to 8 MAT 9 P+S 10+3d6 (4d6 when charging) attacks against the same target. That can really shred something, given the right opportunity.

3: Zaadesh, Cyclops Raider, Cyclops Shaman. – This is the support package with Teeth. Taking the burden of these models off of the Warlock and onto Zaadesh will enable them to take more of the beasts they love. And, if the enemy does break through the lines, there will be a surprisingly effective MAT 7 P+S 13 Shaman and Raider sitting behind the lines with Zaadesh.

 

Zaadesh brings some interesting play to the faction. He’s not going to be in every list, and sure isn’t going to be the first pick on the list, but he will be around often enough that it’ll really be useful knowing what he does and his strengths and weaknesses.

Oh, and speaking of knowing what they do: Una and Horgul!

Una full Ironstrike full

 

I’ve been playing D&D for nearly 18 years now, and I’ve enjoyed all but a few times I’ve sat down to a table with my friends. I enjoy getting together with friends, shooting the shit, and playing monsters and heroes. I’ve been DMing for almost that entire time, and I’ve run my fair share of adventures, from years long campaigns to 15 hour one shot adventures. I’ve found different ways to turn tropes on their heads and I’ve built a huge mythology in my mind and in the players games that have affected the world I created.

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Banned

As many people know, as of Wednesday, I have been Banned from the WWX forums. Forever. So, I probably won’t be giving any reviews, good or bad, of their product. I am also fairly certain I won’t be playing the game as they have cut me off from the tournament rules, announcements of the locations of tournaments, and anyone that could possibly want to play, with the exception of one. Sadly, I’ve left behind a few people that I have no other way of contacting. Fortunately, I get to leave behind the pompous prick that was Romeo, same guy from battlefoam and a hundred other incidents in internet infamy.

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This year at Lock and Load, I am mostly going to be playing in the Iron Arena, but there was a specific concept that really grabbed me from the get go, and I’ve really decided that tournament is something I’m actually going to be really trying to make work. It’ll be probably the only reason I bring Cryx along with my Motley Gators all the way to Seattle, so I want to make it worthwhile, and its going to eat most of Friday.

What is Spelldraft? Well, In a nutshell you get to pick a list and caster, but don’t get any of their spells, good or bad. You get broken up into groups of 8, in which each person is given a pack of 8 cards, and you draft them one at a time, passing the pack of spells to the next person in line once you’ve got yours.

This, to me, opens up all sorts of cool combinations. Some casters are held back by their sub-par spell list, and could be a monster with the right spells in their arsenal, while others are built around signature spells that make them hum, and may become duds.

There are a pair of questions that I’ve not yet had answered in any really good way about the format that have me both terrified and curious.

1) Are the packs randomized spells, or is there some structure to them. Looking over the rules, no one mentions anywhere anything about randomization. This is an enormous factor. If its random, you can get packs with both Temporal Barrier and Iron Flesh. Arcane Shield and Purification. That means that you’re making some serious decisions about what card you pull and what card you pass on to the next players. It also means, however, that the pack could contain 2 rifts, 3 Influences, Arcane Blast, Dust to Dust and Arcantrix Bolt. While Some people may get more or less use out of all those spells, many will not. If you end up with a dead slot, and someone else has all 8 useable spells, that can be a really tricky setup to overcome. This sets up nicely into number 2.

2) is every spell going to be represented, or will there be multiple of the same spells, or will only certain versions of an effect be used? This is the one that poses the most problems when trying to plan out a list. If I know all the “superpowered” spells, the Bombs, to steal a term from the MTG drafts, are going to be cut I’ve got a pretty solid thought process on what I want. If every pod of players is going to draft the same 64 spells. with some 370+ spells, I can imagine there is a great amount of wiggle room here, That gives us nearly 7 pods of 8 to work with, without any duplication.

There are a lot of really bonkers combinations out there: Harbinger + Temporal Barrier; Terminus + Train Wreck, Reznik, Wrath of Ages + Tow. I don’ think, however, with that many spells and combinations, you can really bank on getting one spell, or even one type of spell. Take the Coven or Scaverous for instance: they both have a method to reduce their spells cost by 1. There are plenty of 2 cost nukes in the game, but even if there are 30, if they use the whole 370, thats only 8% of the field. Divide that 8% over 6 pods, and you’ve got a very slim chance of seeing even one of them. People will, no doubt end up with their favored combinations through luck, chance and skill, but I’m pretty sure I am not going to bank on that.

The list building part is pretty simple, really. Take stuff that is self sufficient, that holds its own, and can do what it needs to do with no spell support from the caster. Thankfully, Cryx has a ton of unit and solo support that works very well together without spells from the caster.
Unfortunately, that leaves our jacks to be kinda shunted to the side. I don’t think Aiakos will be legal then either. My basic list, baring some tweaks after I look into things, is this:

Bane Thralls
-UA
Bile Thralls
Bane Lord Tartarus
Nightwretch
Nightwretch
Leviathan

I have three points left over to spend on something, but its my first pass.
Everything there is just good. Nothing is chaff and there to take up only space. The Leviathan is especially key, because if the draft goes south, I still have a plan. Everything works without spells, Nightwretches could be upgraded to Ripjaws, as well. No frills, but also none of the utility I am so used to. This part seems simple to me.

Finding Points for the Withershadow in 35 Is hard!

Finding Points for the Withershadow in 35 Is hard!

where I see a problem is a clash of strategies when it comes to the draft, and therefore the army building itself. Everyone is going to be fighting to get and hold those good spells, and they aren’t going to be passed unless they have something better in their pack. If you don’t get it in the first or second pull, expect it to be shitty, or something that is undervalued, and I think that a list built on cards that are typically undervalued except by the right casters could be a real winner. Bring a caster and a pile of cheap jacks, and the Withershadow combine. Full Throttle, Superiority and other spells become your friend, and other will probably not have build for them. Bring a caster that focus’ on direct damage spells and try to leverage them through.

Putting all your eggs in one basket is risky though. Betting on a better, all around plan seems to be another way to really get the gears going. Take a caster that is suitable in Melee, that doesn’t rely on any spells to get the job done. Have them have a gun. Make sure they have Battlegroup support build into their card. Have a good feat for 35 points, and build a self sufficient army. Make sure you have at least one arc node. Grab every spell that looks the smallest bit good. This seems a really good way to hedge your bets, but I think it’ll fall to the created skew lists that take advantage of undervalued cards.

I’ve lumped the Cryx casters into several broad categories, though I am willing to entertain dissension of these categories.

Looks Good:
Skarre II: Seems to have all the tools to fill the second, generalist option. Seas of fate, blood trade, her feat , lifetrader and a hand cannon make her a standout.
Asphyxious I: His feat refills his focus, and with some of the fantastic 2 point spells out there, he could really be killer. In addition, anything that boosts his initial threat range of 11″ to something more reasonable could see him with a significant melee threat.
Goreshade I: Free bane thralls as a feat? No rules on the back of the card to make him need specific spells, with no good spells of his own? The only way is up!
Goreshade II: His feat is great, and his weapon is good. Automnatc stationary is like sustained attack, above.
Deneghra: Her feat and stealth combine for some really good synergy without a spell list.
The Witch Coven: I really like that they can make spells cheaper every turn. With the Withershadow, Warwitches, Scarlock and Deathjack, I could turn it into a massive focus factory. They still suffer the same problems here, though, that they do everywhere else, and will die to any sort of attack. Thankfully, there is no killbox, and no reason for the girls to get close.

Looks Bad
Deneghra II: Feat is good on its own, and Dark Banishing is pretty great, but the rest of her oomph is in her spell list.
Mortenebra: Interface and Repair are good, but there is just something here that screams that she needs more from her spells than I would be able to make up.
Asphyxious II: He would be a literal Feat with legs. most of his greatness comes from Hellbound, Parasite, and Caustic Mist. No thanks.
Lich Lord Terminus: Him only being a MAT 17 Pow 16 without Malediction really hurts. Tough is good, as is the 10″ spray and Sac-pawn, but I’ll pass.

No Thanks
Lich Lord Venethrax: With a small feat to begin with, and all of his muscle tied up in some really great spells, he’s just got nothing going for him.
Scaverous: Wile his feat is an amazing spectacle, the Def 14, arm 17 caster on a medium base with no set spell list is a really dicey proposal.
Skarre I: Her feat is gangbusters, but without her Sacrificial Lamb factory and Dark Guidance, I don’t think she can cut it.

I’ve got a lot of choices to make here on out, and I’m not completely sure about any of them!

My wife got me Fallout: New Vegas shortly after it released as a gift, and I played the hell out of that game. I put over 100 hours into it, and that was before any of the DLC’s.

PS: Though its over 2 years old by now, spoilers, right?

Its a glitchy, freezy, buggy game, and if I was any other person, I’d have probably tossed it out the window by now, but I powered through it. Westside is the largest problem, in that it often slows to a crawl, if it doesn’t just outright freeze up. I’ve also encountered animals in rocks, invisible enemies, and infinite gaps in the world. But, for all its flaws, I still love the game.

FNV_Wallpaper_7_1920x1200

I had finished playing Fallout 3 some time before I picked up New Vegas, so I wanted something a little different: I turned on Hardcore mode. This unlocks a specific set of variables that makes the game decidedly different. I won’t go so far as to say that the game is harder: Food and Water is plentiful, sleep is rarely needed, and ammo does not weigh all to much; but the game definitely feels more desperate. There are popups warning about your hunger level, hydration and sleep, as well as the typical HP and Rad awareness. The biggest change, though, is the weight of the ammo. in Fallout 3 there was no need to wonder whether or not you’d use a specific ammo type, and it was light as a feather. Hardcore changes that, especially with the heavier weapons like missiles and grenade launchers.

And my new friend, the Anti-Material Rifle.

From the very beginning I wanted to play a sniper. I grabbed what rifles I could and made a go of it until I found myself an Anti-material rifle. And man does that thing roar. Sadly, I didn’t think I’d need strength as a sniper, but it turns out the the AM rifle is heavy, so for the longest time, I just dealt with a swaying set of cross hairs. It sucked, but it did make me good at timing those head shots!

I spent a ton of time and even beat the game with the sniper build, clearing every location (making sure by taking Explorer), getting very used to the way the game works. I took Boone and ED-E to up the sniper-quotient. Boone Marks out enemies in a red color, and ED-E allows me to see extremely far, upping my perception. Adding gear to increase my perception, and going to visit Dr. Usanagi to increase both Perception and Strength made it so that I was a nightmare to all the walked the wasteland. I could, and did, one-shot Deathclaws with head shots. It was glorious!

I tackled Dead Money and Honest Hearts when the game came out, but the wait I had for Old World Blues and Lonesome Road were to long, and they fell off my radar. However, a friend mentioned playing New Vegas recently, and it kindled my interest again. I picked up the game, and downloaded what I thought was the next DLC: Lonesome Road (I was wrong, and damn it, that makes me angry). I Immediately went north, Rifle in hand, and entered the Divide (I assumed it was the Grand Canyon. Maybe not?)

The divide and all it offers is a blast. I’m not going to do a walk through, though I am tempted by my predilection to do so. Instead, I am going to try to just give impressions and thoughts. Its a very cool place. The environs of a blown out canyon are cool, though they offer little in terms of a different feel. The main enemies are irradiated, trapped and insane Marked Men, who are both former Legion and NCR members. They are tough as nails, and have a pair of very aggravating traits: They tend to wear helmets, making getting head shots much more difficult, and they have the Rad Child perk, regenerating health in a land full of regeneration. If I don’t kill them right out with a head shot, its very likely that they will come and try to cave my brain in with Thermic Lances, Blades of the West and other very gruesome means.

 

Many times you have to explode undetonated nuclear weapons in order to get through to the next place. I’m not really sure how that works, though, as the explosion radius seems not to be to large. Maybe they are just small nukes.

Anyway, the whole time you’re chasing down Ulysses, another Courier, who is using a modified ED-E robot you found in order to communicate with you. He leads you through ruins and tunnels and back out again to where he’s planned to launch a nuke over to the NCR’s lifeline to the Mojave. From there, you can choose who to nuke, once you remove Ulysses as a threat.

Honestly, there isn’t much new, but there is a ton of content. 25 new locations filled with Marked Man and the other new bad guy: Tunnelers. These tunnelers are one of the things that really left me aching to find a secondary weapon to my AM rifle. Tunnelers, well, tunnel, and you can’t target them below the ground. They pop up close to you and do some serious damage, especially for one used to wearing light armor and crouching. Most often they would 2 or 3 shot me and I wouldn’t have time to get more than a single shot out. Add on the fact that they’ll actively swarm you with clusters of 2-3 of them, and you’ve just got a recipe for dead sniper.

Thankfully, one of the first Marked Men I killed had a Plasma Defender on him. I love energy weapons, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I’d been working up my Energy weapons, so it seemed a good fit. Thankfully, it did everything I wanted. With the extremely fast rate of fire and the low AP usage in V.A.T.S, I was able to pretty regularly overcome the Tunnelers I did face.

The hardest part of the whole mission, though, was completely optional. You end up sending a nuke to land just outside of Hopeville, the first area. If you go back there, it ends up being overrun with Irradiated Deathclaws that are extremely aware of their surroundings and are overly durable to anything but a AM rifle round to the head. While I enjoyed clearing the area, it was a brutal slogfest that didn’t end up giving me a whole lot more than I’d started out with.

In the specific instance of the Irradiated Deathclaws, being a sniper was a significant disadvantage. However, most often, the habits of wandering around in crouch mode as well as having a sniper rifle at the ready most times made the Marked Men and many of the normal Deathclaws trivial. In one spectacular instance, I exit into the wasteland from the top of a building. Thanks to my perception being so high and ED-E’s help, I can see there are enemies all around. Because I am at the top of the building, I have height advantage on every one of them. Though it took me almost an hour real time, I cleared every one of them out without needing to leave the roof of the building. It was glorious!

Courier

When I get to the end of the DLC, I wanted to see what the discussion would be with Ulysses, even though I was positive I wouldn’t save it. The discussion is interesting, but wasn’t anything I could live without. So the end battle was, as many of my battles, anti-climatic. I reloaded and then shot Ulysses twice in the back of the head from very far away, and then dealt with the many, man Marked Men that come to his aid. It took me a few tries, though. Ulysses is extremely hard to kill if you don’t drop a shell into his Noggin at least once. You a neat weapon from it, Old Glory, an old eagle-headed flagpole, and his duster and mask, which both are pretty good. You also can open up new areas on the map depending on who you nuke, and the legion camp I bombed was pretty neat.

I enjoyed the experience Thoroughly, and I look forward to playing Old World Blues. Makes me happy they are doing Fallout: Boston. At least that’s what the rumors are!

When it comes to Pen and Paper RPG’s there seems to be a sliding scale that is used to describe how a player approaches both their character and the game. On one end of this imaginary scale is the powergamer who is actively pursuing the game to its highest numerical end. They completely disregard of the personality of the character, having only the barest of bones to role play with: generally race, class and sex. On the other end stands the Complete Roleplayer, giving up every numerical advantage they can to have their character as close to the vision of the player as they can.

Neither end can really comprehend the other, as they are as antithetical to one another as the shadow is to light. Many times these two extremes, whether both are in the same group or not, will tear at any player in the center. These centrists represent the backbone of RPGs, the traditional player who wants nothing more than to have both an  effective character in combat and also while having a reasonably developed personality.

As the years have worn on, this central player has more and more disappeared, replaced by the two extremes. I’ve played D&D since I was around 12. I started in AD&D, moved to AD&D 2e, playing that for a very long time. After 3.0 came out, I did eventually grab the game, and grew to love 3.5. With the advent of 4e, I reflected on the fun that 3.0/3.5 had brought, and decided to run with 4e and see where it took us. I’ve also played Vampire, Gamma World, d20 Modern, Silver Age Sentinels, and the IKRPG. I dabbled a little in Savage Worlds and Exalted. Every game I played had its own dynamic, but they invariably contained people further along the spectrum towards either Personalities or Powergamers or both. lately, however, I have seen harder and harder stance towards one or the other, with little thought given to meeting in the middle. During these games, these two sides almost always would clash, causing player tension, which is the death of any game.

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What really causes the divide is that there is a significant mental difference between the two perspectives starting points in playing the game. Powercentric players seek out and create a powerful character, placing a personality and character attributes around the core of the powerful character like a shell. It can be a very detailed and pretty shell with layers of color and different patterns, but it is still, ultimately, a shell. Personalitycentric players will seek to create a character and then fill out that character with abilities that match it. While its pretty and gorgeous on the outside, with the most fantastic styling, excruciating precise details and deep roots to the center, the core can be very rotten. The rules and abilities that they pick are based on color, not on taste. Its a very basic difference that is hard to describe, and even harder to acknowledge, as they are  simply incomprehensible to the other.

D&D has always been the poster child for the powercentric because it enables a massive selection of choices that inevitably devolve into combat choices. Even the most character driven player becomes wary of the danger and finality of combat, and combat effectiveness becomes the focus of almost every character. When the figurative life of the character you have built through your mental power, given breath through your force of personality, and become attached to through shared experience is in jeopardy, players almost always start crunching numbers to make sure their emotional investment sticks around, because numbers are the only defense you have against death in that game.

But there are, inevitably, people for whom the puzzle of creating a powerful character is the original draw, for whom the the death of the enemy is not enough, and nothing but their total numerical annihilation will suffice. These are the people who strove to hear M. Bison yell “Perfect!” at the end of a match. They hunt down every complex interaction and every written rule that they can glean an edge from. They hunt down every +1 and each additional die that they can add to their characters sheet. They are little more than the complex number generators of a video game wrapped in paper.  I find that there is no joy, no fun, in those characters. There is only the hollow victory before you need to get the next level, the next feat or ability that will allow you to do more numbers. When all your game decisions are made for you because they are factually the best  its much harder to create a character that is believable, especially after the first. When every character you play has the same basic core, there is nothing new about it, no matter the color of the shell.

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As another extreme, if you take a personality player and have them make a character who has a fully fleshed out life, has a family, a job, and a solid roof above his head. What reason does this character have to be in the game? what reason could possibly make him leave his comfortable life? each of his four children are painstakingly detailed, as well as his boss and his family tree. The layout of the house he lives in includes rooms for the kids, the stables and the cook. Maybe the character is a loner, someone who just likes it better on their own, without the interference of people of lesser skill. He’s been a hardened veteran of countless countless battles, and has no trust of the world. Neither of these characters is part of the world, they are either above it or contained by it. They could have the strongest rules set to back them or none at all, but they are as useful as a heap of used diapers.

I try to stay in the center, as Building my character to be powerful gives me a sense of accomplishment, but that accomplishment means nothing if I stare at my belly button between combats. I’ve taken a character’s bare bones idea and fleshed it out to be the best that concept can be. My most personally powerful character was a complete accident, one that a friend of mine had to unfortunately suffer through DMing as he was an unstoppable force of Magic. Now, I do have to say that I only played in an Epic Level 3.5 game once, and man was it insane, but I tend to stay between 1 and 15, so my power curve is a little shorter than most. Endrus “Hammer” Tolsien was a Human Mage (enchanter) that didn’t have a single offensive damage spell. What he had was Spell focus and a build created to make his enchantments extremely robust. Hold, Charm person, Charm Monster, Mass Hold, Slow, Haste, the list goes on and on. What really made him bonkers was that he was super-effective against anything alive and enchantable, but was also extremely good at buffing the party to take on things that were not. Oh, and he used a Maul, in combat if necessary, and I took feats and abilities to make it so he was good at it, because it was in his story and background I had written for it. No other game would allow me the freedom to create a character so detailed and rich and full of story that I have ever played. And that is the beauty of RPG’s: They are small scale acting studios with a game behind them. 

None of it all matters, though, when the understanding of the core of the game flies out the window. When the Personality player creates something that is so detrimental to the group that it is divisive, when the Power player creates a character who’s very essence nullifies the rest of the groups existence, or when the middle creates a character that wants to stay home and do nothing. Everyone can be equally guilty at making the game  no fun for anyone other than themselves. 

What really is at the heart is that the game is a group game, set up between more than a single person. While you want to create the character that fits you the most, always keep in mind that there are other people at the table as well, including the GM, that are there to have fun. If your character, by their simple existence, is making someone else not have fun, you’re doing it wrong. You can build a powerful character that is the bane of the strongest monster without nullifying the DM, and you can create a dark character without having him be forced to come along for the ride. When creating a character you have to keep in mind that the whole game is based around going on adventures, and that the personality you create, bare or obese, needs to be able to go out on these adventures with others, and that these others need to have as equal a spotlight as you. I’m as guilty as anyone else is about breaking these rules, but I try hard to keep these in mind, letting other speak, kill monsters, and take the spotlight.

If you can’t you should probably go find a video game to play, because playing by yourself will be just as satisfying. I’ve heard Neverwinter Nights and Baldurs Gate are very, very good.

Well, Yellows, Actually.

I’ve been trying, with limited success, to photograph some of my miniatures that I’ve  recently finished painting, and I have not been having much success. I want the background to be a static bacdrop, and I’ve really been wanting to not have my disasterous painting table in the background. This has been resulting in some pretty frustrating times and desperate measures. I gone through two different Milk Jug Lightboxes, and both are really failing at what I wanted to accomplish: Simple, good and quick pictures. I have been taking vast mountains of pictures and burning hours trying to figure out how to get picture of my models that isn’t either bright yellow, washed out, or covered in shadows.

I’ve been trying different apps on my phone, and even dug out my wifes camera. nothing seems to help get the yellow out of the picture without also darkening the deep shadows and colors to disgusting blobs. While I’ve figured out that its the white balance, I’ve yet to take a good picture that dosen’t need manual touchups, and that really bothers me. I want to have the skill to do this right, and having to rely on GIMP to make my pictures even usable is a real drag. However, I’ve gotten some good pictures out of it through GIMP. Remember those shitty, yellow pictures from the Revenant Crew Article? 

Now?

Much better. I’m still trying different techniques to try and get the photos right without touch up, but I’m just not seeing it.

But, I can now get on with my Deneghra and Slayer Unit spotlights. Oh! and the bane Spartans are nearing completion.

WWX still hasn’t gotten me my repair parts that will enable me to start caring about painting their models. Its sad and a little lame at this point. They keep touting that they are dropping some 120 models in some sort of Record time, and that its a lot of work.
I know. Shut up, I just don’t care. I hate to sound like that guy, but its just a pile of excuses and denial at this point.

The Drake II kickstarter, has come and past, and while I am a little sad that the game isn’t what I would have liked, I did save some 100+ bucks on it. The Shi army ascetic is amazing. Its not at all something I’d have pegged to be my style, but man that would have been cool to paint. Its downfall: Linear Dice. I just can’t get behind a miniatures game rules that has linear progression anymore, without having some sort of compensating huge draw. Games with cards have a good, if aggravating, way around it by thinning the pool of numbers as your turn wears on.  This game was based on a single die roll, and I only had three hours. No go for me.

I’ve picked up Fallout: New Vegas again, and I’m really enjoying my AM rifle sniper. Its just awesome to be able to reach out and touch someone from that far away. Its buggy as hell, and its murder sometimes to fight trios of Deathclaws, but I love this game so very much, despite its shabby self.

I am trudging away on my Bane Spartans. I’m really happy at how they are coming along, and though its a 10 man unit, its not wearing me down like many have before. Could be because I am going much slower now with writing twice a week, a baby, and a thousand other projects.

I did a segment with my buddy Bill from Gamers Lounge a couple Fridays back, inspired by my WWX gripe and whine session on their forums. I really enjoyed it, and had a lot of fun blathering about what I like and don’t like. I wasn’t used to skype at the start, and eventually calmed down and stopped interrupting him like a dumb ass.

I’m hoping to line up a Warmachine playdate here for late march. Going to see if I can break out Deneghra’s current list (maybe bane Knights, this time, if they are finished) and see what I can chop through. I’ve not really played her a ton since the MKI battlebox, and its nice to get a really powerful spellslinger on the board.

I bought my tickets and am stoked about going to Lock and Load at the start of June. I get to spend my moms birthday back home again, which matters a lot to me. Lock and Load is great, but If it kept falling on that weekend, I was gonna go bonkers.

I am considering going through each and every one of the casters that is coming up for Vengance here and doing a solid look at them, and how I see them from the Skorne and Cryx angles. it’d be a lot of work, but worth it, I’d think. I’ll also probably hit the Cryx releases when the time comes. That’ll keep me busy for a while, right?

I’ve also got my first commission minis on board, and I am really looking forward to painting a set of models I’m not normally going to get to paint.

I’m also have a great desire to take pictures of all my painted stuff. Johnwebb on the PP forums has started a retrospective of his cryx painting, and I kinda want to wander down the same path. We’ll see.