All Hail our alien overlords!

That’s the fate of the world if I was in charge of our defense against aliens, it seems. Its been a rough start, but I think I’ll make it through one of these runs.

I’d decided, against a friends advice, to go with an Ironman run-through for my first game, with all the options I discussed before turned on.

The first mission I had my four rookies and approached the game in my standard manner, slow and steady. Sectoids were dropping a little more slowly than I remembered, and my assault rifles seemed to do a lot less damage than I remembered, but I was going to chug along. I lost a member of the team, but got the meld and made it out. The mission was hairy, though, as the meld canisters always seemed to be surrounded with sectoids. Thankfully, though, fighting sectoids is easy, especially with my penchant for explosives and their low life totals. That they link together so that I can get 2 for 1’s constantly is just a bonus. Heading back to base with goodies for Drs. Vahlen and Shen, I was confident.

Then came the first abduction mission. I lost my whole squad chasing after meld, sprinting forward to get the precious commodity, I let loose a whole gaggle of Sectoids who proceeded to gun down my poor, unprepared soilders. Dr. Shen chastised me on the debrief, and I quit the game. I don’t even make it out of March.

Iron Man 2. I have a sole survivor who makes it out of the intro mission, and I abandon the world to its fate.

I’m starting to get the hint, though. Maybe I’ve lost a step; getting old. The expansion seems to have tweaked some of the damage settings: I seem to be taking more, and dealing less.

Nevertheless, I load up game 3, and start at it. Caution, maybe. I turn off damage roulette as it feels like there is so much variance in it that I can’t rely on the game to actually have fun. The introductory mission gets three more members killed, and I abandon the game again.

So far, game 1 was the only one to make it past the intro. I’m feeling really down on myself at this point. I’ve lost my touch.

But that’s when the tough get going. I start trying to learn the games ins and outs.

Game 4 has the making of a good run. I’ve got an all-French team, and I go hot into operation “Cursed Law.”
None of my team makes it home. Laurent, Fournier, LeRoy and Roux buy the farm, and the game, on 4/6/2015.

Game 5: 4 mission, 8 casualties, abandoned 4/9/2015 after TPK
Game 6: 3 missions, 6 casualties, abandoned 4/5/2015 after TPK
Game 7: 5 missions, 7 casualties, abandoned 4/9/2015 after TPK
Game 8: 2 missions, 6 casualties, abandoned 3/11/2015 after TPK

Ok. I get the hint. After encountering Thin men who have insane accuracy, seekers that go invisible, and the ever present sectoids, I cry uncle.

The game is very different than when I left it. Damage is more variable, even without the Damage Roulette feature, and it takes much longer to level up troopers, making it hard to get to the Officer Training School that I like so much. In addition, the research trees are updated and have a plethora of new things to research and a ton of new things to build in both the foundry and the engineering workshop. my old strategies aren’t working, and nothing I research seems to be the right answer.

The Meld resource is probably what caused me the most problems. Trying to balance my old Fire Base approach with the new more nimble approach was extremely hard. I had played both my original games with a heavy firepower group: 2 Heavies, 2 Snipers, a Support and an Assault. My German Sniper was a god among women, and I never could have made it through the game without her hard core murder rampaging. Now, though, it wasn’t convenient to drop behind cover and overwatch into the future. Precious Meld was being wasted! Furthermore, obtaining meld was now one of the mission parameters. If you don’t get enough of it, you get poor grades! unacceptable! I tried everything I could to adapt to the Meld. In the end, I didn’t. Much like explosives ruining good materials to save soldiers lives, a good solider is worth more than any of the meld I’d obtain from their deaths. I was learning on an individual mission scale, but I wasn’t learning whole picture information that I would if I was getting further into the game. I needed to figure out how the game was to progress and what some of the good and bad options are If I was to actually make it through and Ironman

Boot up Game 11. (I had two that I accidentally loaded up tutorials on, and I just bailed on them). Classic difficulty, but saving and reloading enabled. I could make dumbass mistakes and learn from them, try different things and get it right.

This turned out to be a very, very good thing for me. Knowing how the maps layout, and how the missions are built to be accomplished is something that is very important for an Ironman run. New council missions seem to have been added, or they come up more often. Before I would only end up running into one or two in a single run, but now, I’ve ended up with a half dozen or more. Including my favorite mission ever: The whaling ship in St. Johns, Canada. Swarming with Cryssalids, once you discover whats happening, you have to fall back to the Skyranger before the bombs arrive. It was among the coolest missions I’d played in any game. Its really hard to make a fighting retreat, but they pulled it off excellently.

Now, with a few missions under my belt, I’m only a bit behind. The invaders kept killing off my best soldiers, so It took me three months to get the Officer Training school up and running, but once I did, I was able to get my 6 man squad running, and start giving the aliens a run for their money.

This game is really hard, and I’ve had to save-scum a couple missions in order to keep going and learn the game. That is the goal here, Warmup for the C/I run that follows!

This post has taken so long to get to your desk because I’ve been playing to much XCOM. It is so hard to pull myself from it and even type anything at all. I want to be playing RIGHT NOW

My favorite game as a kid had to be Mega Man III.
But right behind that is XCOM: UFO Defense. It was a smart, fun, insane game of sci-fi aliens and decision making. I would go over to a friends house to “help” him play the game after school and it was glorious: Well worth the walk in the woods, in the dark, on the way home in the evening.

So, imagine my glee when I learned that XCOM was being remade, and then subsequently released late 2012. When I finally got my grubby mitts on the game, I was not disappointed. There were significant changes, but I liked almost all of them. XCOM: Enemy Unknown evoked UFO Defense in all the right ways. The few problems I had with the game were simply ascetic. I even managed to play through the game twice, which is something I almost never do. Classic difficulty held to the standard I had envisioned, and Ironman mode was a concept I had tried on the original XCOM to no success. This time, though: Victory was achieved and the world was saved. Taking down the Temple ship was a little bit of a let down as I was really looking forward to Cydonia, but hopefully sometime in one of the expansions we’ll get back to Mars

Two DLC’s came out for the original: The Armor DLC and slingshot. The armor customization was a great addition for only a few bucks, and allows a who host of new colors and looks for every trooper. The greater opinion on slingshot was poor because it was a small DLC. That says something, though, when people are disappointed not at the product itself, but because there was not enough of it. I thoroughly enjoyed it because it was a unique set of missions, in unique locations, with unique goals. there was only 3, but it was excellent.

Recently XCOM: Enemy Within was released, and though I had to rush through the last bit of HOMMVI to get to it, Its been well worth it. I’ve spent hours crushing aliens beneath my boot so far already!

Now, onto my playthrough!

I figure that I’ll start with my style of play, and an Introduction to the game.

The game is played on two maps. The first is greater strategic base setup, where you research alien science, build new weapons and armor, higher soldiers, Buy aircraft to fight alien spaceships, decide which countries to save or let fall, build facilities in the base, research psionic powers and train their devotees, and buy and sell alien artifacts. Whew! That’s a massive game in of itself. I dare say if they fleshed it out a bit, you could have a game in which you only direct XCOM in saving the world.

The second map is the smaller, tactical, turn based map in which you fight aliens and their sympathizers. Aliens come in all shapes in sizes, from the Brutal Mutons, to the Small, emaciated Gray man like Sectoids. Their weapons are powerful, and they outnumber you from the get go. Your Out manned, outgunned, and out technologied. What you do have, is good old human determination and the home field advantage. Your troopers level up and gain classes, which give them specific abilities, and as the game goes up, even more abilities become available to choose from.

The game also has a number of other settings that you can tweak: Advanced Options, and Second Wave Options. Advanced Options cover what type of DLC is on, Tutorials, and the famous Ironman option. Ironman is a mode in which you have one save. A single file that can’t be reloaded or reset. You’re choices have real consequences, and your soldiers die real deaths. Along with the fact that it is very easy to loose the game and need to start over on Classic and Impossible difficulties, it can be a great challenge. Second Wave options are the fun ones. They enable you to capture some of the feel of XCOM: UFO Defense.I turn Training Roulette (enabling random skills from leveling up), Not Created Equally (all rookies have random starting stats), and Hidden Potential (Skill ups are random every level, so that I can capture the essence of random troopers. I also turn on Damage Roulette (larger damage spreads) and eventually, New Economy (Countries funding is not tied to real life economy), just for fun. The final two, Save Scum and Flanking angles, I leave off, as they seem unfun. Part of the game is playing within its save game rules and trying to flank.

My greater Strategic goals are simple: Loose few countries, Figure out how to save my troops lives, and get more money. Saving my troops involves researching weapons and armor as fast as possible, with all other R&D going to the wayside as I make sure my troops can face the aliens fighting them. I rarely sell anything, as I want to be able to research what I have available at any time, so pretty much the only money I make is through corpses, broken spaceships, and funding. Managing the worlds panic levels seems to be much of the game to me, and I’ve managed to get pretty good at it. Classic makes it a little difficult with a starting panic level of 1 in every country, but I manage. In the effort of saving money on what I use, I always start the game in Aisa. Future Combat enables me to spend tons less on the projects I value most: Foundry and Officer Training School. The OTS is the facility I aim for from the very beginning. Enabling Wet Work, New Guy and both squad increases is one of the primary driving forces for how I play.

When it comes to Troop Actions, I generally lean towards offence being a good defense. While explosive weapons destroy artifacts that the aliens have and set me back some in terms of research or monetary value, it has the high reward of keeping my troopers alive, experienced, and ready to fight the alien threat. This means I’ll sometimes be behind the times when it comes to fragments, I have excellently trained troopers in multiple sets that I can send out when the time comes. I tend to lean towards a fire base of troops that can lay down a ridiculous amount of firepower. This is going to change, definitely with the new Meld resource. In the first game my go to squad was 2 Snipers with Double Tap and Squadsight, two Heavies with Bulletswarm, and either two support or a support and assault. The amount of firepower I could drop was apocalyptic.

I am going to jump right into Classic – Ironman (C/I) and see how this works out for me. Wish me luck.

I hope I can tear my self away from the game long enough to give some reports on how this is all going along.

Before I go into my blog on XCOM (which I am having a blast with already), I want to get a little bit of how I play games out there, so that my playthrough doesn’t seem insane.

I have developed, over my time playing video games, a small list of cardinal rules that I try to adhere to at all times. These rules have helped me play and enjoy more games that I have ever before.

The first rule, my greatest rule, came about as a result of having never only very few games when I was growing up. it ties in strongly with rule 2, but at a different level. When playing games, its very hard to switch between the skills and challenges in each game. Rule 1 facilitates playing only games I really want to play:

Thou shalt only play one game at a time.

As a caveat to that, I was tired of having games hang around, that I would get to sometime in the far future. So the second cardinal rule was developed”

Thou shalt beat ever game you play.

The Third rule was created to save money and make sure that I only play games I want to play. I have to choose from among a pile of games in a given month or week, and pick the one I really want to play. because rule three is.

Thou shalt not buy a game before you beat Your current Game.

The final two rules are developments on the first three because I play relatively few games, and I want to get the most out of every experience. I really enjoy the discovery and challenge of video games, and find great pleasure in beating games. because of this, though, replay value for me is almost non-existent. All the above circumstances lead to the final two rules:

Thou shalt play all games on hard.
Thou shalt play all games blind.

Each of these rules is a consequence of some event or revelation that I had while playing other video games, and have truly served me well.
Before these rules, I could count the games I had beaten in single digits: Mega Man 3, XCOM: UFO defense, Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy VII, Rayman. there may be one or two that experiencing all, but since beating the original God of War, and experiencing the feeling of accomplishment that beating a hard fought game can bring, I’ve kept to the cardinal rules and can list on one hand the games I have abandoned.

This all wraps up with me finally beating HOMMVI, and launching into XCOM: Enemy Within with a reinvigorated furor. Playing blind, and playing on Classic is how its got to be!

Stay tuned, I should have my write up of my first week of XCOM on Monday!

I have finally beat Heroes of Might and Magic VI, and it could not come a moment to soon. By the end of the day tomorrow, I will own XCOM: Enemy within, and will be playing that whenever my daughter does not need attention.

The game has two endings, corresponding with the two reputation paths that every hero can take: Blood and Tears.

The Blood ending has you chasing down the faceless, and the Tears ending has you confronting the angels. You can only play each with heroes that followed the corresponding reputation path. The endings seem a little mixed up, as the faceless are considered evil, and the Angels good, but the blood reputation is the less noble, offensive choice that ends up going after the evil guys, with the noble, defensive path assaulting the angles.

The first ending I tackled was the Blood ending, because I really wanted to play my super-powered Necromancer Nerina again. I knew I had gone out of my way to make her personally powerful in ways that I just didn’t have the tolerance for in later campaigns. It turns out, and I never bothered to research and had to have a friend tell me, that the Hero lends a portion of their personal power to each of their units. Nerina had so much Magic Power at the end that the Liches, Fatespinners and Specters were doing massive amounts of damage. This lead to the actual map, in which you fight each faction in succession except for Inferno, pretty simple. I took massive stacks of Liches and Fatespinners and just launched a massive magical fusillade at enemy until they crumpled. It was stupendously glorious. Sanctuary was first, and went down swiftly, followed by Stronghold, Haven and then Necropolis. The final battle had Cate, your mother and Dragon Knight of the Faceless, Turn into a giant dragon (she may have summoned it, to be honest, it wasn’t very clear.) I sent everything I had at her, doing a significant portion of her heath with most of my army. The final unit to act was the champion unit, Fatespinners, who critically hit, doing over 1/3 of her hp in a single blow. The Fatespinners acted at the start of the next round and crit again, putting away the Shadow Dragon once and for all. It tool me, all told. 1 round and 1 action to drop her. I was exalted because I’d actually blasted her off the planet so fast it wasn’t funny.

The Tears campaign was a completely opposite type of campaign that I happened to pick the right faction. You fight against Haven the whole time, and you have almost no resources (mines, crystals, lumbermills) other than what the neutral mobs hold. This causes you to fight a strange war where you don’t ever really fight the enemy faction, you just spend the time running around blowing up hapless neutrals to get their resources and gold, which you then convert to resources. Thankfully I picked Haven as my faction, mostly because the only other faction I could play in this one was my Sanctuary Magic hero, and I had just done that.Haven, however, allowed me to just occupy the opponents towns and forts and use them immediately. I have no idea how I would have made it if I was playing a faction that, using the limited resources of the map, had to constantly spend them not to advance my faction, but to convert the enemy forts I captured to some form of usable condition. With the goal being to take and hold a single fort, haven was singularly capable with their defensive oriented suite of abilities, along with the might abilities that I had taken. The whole of the map was confusing, without really any way to know what was going on. However, in the end, you get to mangle the Archangel Michael, and it is very satisfying to beat his smug face into the earth.

Between the two, I found the Tears/Faceless battle much more satisfying. Honestly The blood and tears path concept was really intriguing the first campaign I played, but after that felt unassumingly boring. The main method you get blood points for casting offensive spells and other direct-damage related abilities. You can also get them from choosing power over defense in the Libraries (Magic) and Arenas (Might), and sometimes from quests. The final way of getting blood points was in pursuing enemies that fled. This is extremely tiresome, as each fight has the capacity to take a significant amount of time, deplete your mana and your units if played wrong, and waste map-based buffs that you keep until your next combat. This proved to be extra frustrating because every time you choose not to pursue them, you gained tears points, which is very counterproductive. Tears points are gained in the exact opposite manner as Blood: Casting defensive spells and abilities, Choosing defensive bonus’ at Libraries and Arenas, and from letting fleeing monsters live. This would be a great boon, except that almost all of the good Tears abilities are passives, and most of the spells were terrible. This lead to a stagnation of reputation points and conflicted gains. I was very disappointed with this part of the game, to say the least.

Overall, however, The game was a fun play. I really wish I had known more about how to play the game before I started, as it would have made the game much more playable. I really wish, as well, that there was a resource for the game as a whole, as I’ve not found a single site that is even remotely useful to the theory and play of the game. I’d give it a solid 7 out of 10. There are some problems, I’m not going to lie, but overall, its been what I wanted from it, though a bit longer and drawn out than I would have liked.


XCOM, Enemy within is downloaded and ready to play when I get home!

So, a while back I posted that I had acquired a box of Bane Knights from a friend, and that he’d gotten the better end of the deal.

I’m not so sure now.

Once I started cleaning the bits and getting them ready for general assembly, I decided that I wanted to do a shield swap. Not really knowing where to start, I headed over to the Privateer Modeling and Painting forums, and asked them what was out there. I got some really cool options, but what really struck me was Scibor Miniatures spartan shields. With my degree in classic history, how could I resist! Now, armed with a shield swap out, I was emboldened. What else was out there? I found, again on Scibors site, Spartan helms. Sure they had heads inside, but I could drill them out, right? I could make them work. Now I was in a bind. I had spartan shields and spartan helms, but the bane lances of the bane knights didn’t fit the theme at all. I needed a good, solid, no frills, spartan spear.

At the same time, I was selling off everything I had left of my GW stuff. Among that lot was a huge bitz bag, some pound and a half of plastic parts. Among those parts were these spears:
Ungor Spears from GW

They seemed perfect! I only had 8 of them, but how hard could it be to get more? I’ve got a post out there on bartertown now with a pair of leads, so here is hoping!

Now I’ve got everything: Spears, Helms and Shields. Time to get to work!

I had to drill out the helms, which was easier than I thought it’d be, but still no simple task. The Scibor resin is extremely soft and I would have been disappointed with it in any other circumstances but having the soft material was useful, as it allowed me to cut the helmet down fairly easily. Once the hole was drilled, I carefully cut out the face using my hobby knife. I then shaved as much as I could out of the helmet, making it as thin as I could, so as to fit on the bane knight heads.

Grabbing one of the Bane Knight skull faces, I tried to stuff it in there.

The head was too big.

I was a little stuck, but like any good, determined nut job, I went with plan B: cut the face off. I’d expected something like this, though not as extreme, and figured out the basics of what I wanted. Cutting the face off was difficult, no lie, but nothing I couldn’t do. Well, except that once face that I had the clippers on backwards, and the face completely shredded.

Sadly, even the face clipped off was to large. I ended clipping the forehead off, both cheekbones, and even some of the eye socket. Whatever it took to get the face to fit in that head. Thankfully, I never needed to take away any of the defining characteristics that made it a face.

I had the face all cut and ready to go, and I shoved it into the Helm. The skull face was a little far back, but I figured that that would work out just fine. I kept trudging forward, drilling holes into heads and cutting off faces. The third one, I managed to get perfect.

Damn it. That meant that I had to go back and do the rest of them correctly. Ah well, the price of a coherent unit!

Once I got the heads drilled out, I had to build necks. I’d completely missed that neither the faces nor the helms contained them after I was done chopping them apart. The necks took some doing, but with proper green stuff blobs, they lifted the heads so that they weren’t sunk into the chests.

With all the heads mounted on the bodies, I did the easy part next: Shields. I clipped off the spike that held on the bane knight original shield, and slapped on the Spartan lambda shields. Done!

this next part was the second trickiest because I’d only done it once on a much larger centurion warjack. I clipped the bane lances off the hands and gingerly drilled through the hands to be able to line up the spear shafts that I had clipped off the Ungor hands.

Once I’d gotten the spear arms ready, it was all over but the posing!

I only got the first set of heads, which allowed me to get the 6 members of the minimum unit finished. Once I get the rest of the spears and heads, I’ll be on track for my Bane Spartans!

Oh, and of course, I have to do nice bases on them, so I just had a friend order the Forgotten Empires bases from Dragonforge. because dead spartans of a forgotten empire make only the most perfect of sense.

Stronghold Conquered!

I’ve made my way through that trials that were the faction Campaigns, and have emerged stronger for it. This trial is not for the faint of heart.

Stronghold was, as I said in the other article, one of the more fun campaigns, and thankfully it didn’t let up at any point. The first three maps lead smoothly to the fourth, which has a unique end game that forces you to play the game just a little different, changing up how the game ended.

The Stronghold units were balanced enough that I didn’t find the faction skewed towards might or magic heroes. The campaign rewards strongly favor might heroes though, giving me gauntlets, armor and weapons that were restricted to might only, thus diminishing some of the enjoyment I got out of completing certain quests.

The Faction play style was refreshing even for someone who has trudged through the 16+ maps to get here. The faction has a TON of melee capacity, even before you factor in the heroes skills and powers, which no other faction really capitalizes on. Inferno and Haven, the other two melee factions, approach melee with different styles, and I really think that Stronghold strikes the concept dead on the head for this game. The key to good melee is alpha striking, no retaliation attacks and Stronghold units delivers in spades.

Unlike the rest of the factions, the game play of Stronghold revolves around using all of your creatures. The core units are goblins, harpies and orcs, the elites are centaurs, orc shamans and Aztec themed ogres, and the champions are cyclopes. Whats unique about this set of units is that they are pretty bland before they are upgraded, but once upgraded, are perfectly built to execute the strongholds best tactic: axe to face.

Goblins and centaurs are ranged units, able to do a ton of damage with out retaliation, and the centaurs ability to take a free shot at the first enemy to close the distance with my army gave another retaliation-less attack. harpies, when upgraded to furies, attacked without retaliation. Jaguar Warriors, the ogres, when upgraded had a retaliationless charge attack that struck everyone adjacent when he ended his move. Orcs got a second, free, attack after the first and the retaliation that results from it, but did enough damage that I just often used them to finish off stacks. My favorites, however, were the Dreamwalkers and the Cyclopes. Dreamwalkers have the ability to curse units so that they take damage if they act, and the upgrade makes it affect the whole enemy army. With a magic hero like mine the effect was devastating and would be the first troop I upgraded to get the greatest output from them. The cyclops is definitely my second favorite champion unit behind the fate weaver. The basic unit is a melee beater,which works out alright, but the upgrade gives the damn beast magic laser-eyes. This attack does immense damage, has no range modifier, and burns for additional damage over time! It is right up my alley!

The whole setup lead to an extremely enjoyable campaign and a great bookend to the single player faction campaigns. I recommend doing them in order: Necropolis, Haven, Sanctuary, Inferno, Stronghold. It creates a flow that, while frustrating, starts strong, wanes in the middle, and finishes with oomph.

I’ve finally moved on to the final map(s). The game has two endings depending on what type of character you played, and with me playing both, I’ve got them each to play through. However, with XCOM: Enemy within snapping at my brain, I’ll probably just play the one.

Over the past few weeks, I have had my interest in fleshing out the RPG world I’ve created rekindled. Its been what I think about in my spare time, which generally consists of time between holding my baby, and the ride to and from work. Well, one of the concepts that I have always known about my world is that there are tribes of barbarians with totem animals on the fringe of the main country of the island, Tyrndall (tear’n’doll). These barbarians, I’d always thought, would ride their totem animals into combat, and probably have lycanthropic leaders.

Continue reading

I’ve finally come back to HOMMVI after a decent Hiatus, and I am tackling the last two campaigns before I move onward to XCOM: Enemy within, Which I am extremely excited for. I’ve got to stick to my cardinal rule as hard as possible: One game at a time.

So, Stronghold!

This campaign finally feels like the Heroes of Might and Magic game that I remember. I’d started to sour on the game, very slowly, over the last few campaigns. The design theory was good, and it evoked the fun of my bygone childhood, but there was something a little off. At first I thought it was my adult brain taking on the child’s version of the game. The deeper I tread, though, the more I was convinced that this experiences was markedly different from the experience of my childhood. Stronghold has now confirmed that.

The Playstyle of Haven and Necropolis is extremely cautious. Sanctuary and Inferno are slightly better. Stronghold, however, is aggressive. Its Stacks are fast, its creature growth is plentiful, and it has access to almost all the best ability trees. Its is enjoyable to play, and the adventure map does not feel as tedious in these first two campaigns as they have been feeling.

The Battle map, however, is the same old boring method. Open with a withering salvo of magic and ranged attacks, have your melee troops wait for the enemy to inevitably cross the battlefield and into your threat range, and pummel them mercilessly.

the alpha strike is critical. The way the game structures its retaliatory strikes you take damage only after you inflict it, so if you hit first against weaker stacks you have a significant advantage. allowing your opponent to get the first hit is less problematic than giving ground, as the board is so compact that almost every unit can traverse it in two turns

Knowledge, though, is perhaps the greatest contributor to making Stronghold feel like the old game. I know to use the trade matrix early and often in order to get critical resources and buildings built. This allows me to have giant stacks of monsters early on. I have learned what spells and talents are good (chain lightning, Immolation) and what don’t do as much (armor of light, mass heal). I have also learned that enemies grow at the end of every week, which has contributed to me attacking early and often. Also, roving heroes are to be attacked head on, even if they are a challenging difficulty: if you come out on top, and have a better production setup (see trade matrix), every enemy stack you take out is an advantage. These are hard learned lessons over 4 campaigns, 16 maps and tons of mistakes.

In addition to the knowledge, having a both dynasty weapons fully leveled up is a huge boon that has enabled me to move forward swiftly.

I do get bored fighting the same type of armies over and over, but that is more a fault of having 5 factions with 5 campaigns each with 4 maps. Very rarely do I have to change the method I fight between hero’s or towns.

Soon, very soon, I’ll stop talking about Heroes and instead blather on about who died and how in my XCOM: Enemy Within games.

I was going to put up this write-up about Wild West Exodus on Thursday, but a friend of mine convinced me that the Goreshade and Bane Cavalry one was better timed. Thankfully he did that because I found something today that makes this post a lot easier to write, though a little more depressing.

behold: The WWX Quickstart Rules.

This is the craziest quickstart document I’ve ever encountered. It is 8 pages of insane rules gibberish and tons of exceptions and special rules. Its not quick or a start.

My Journey through the WWX landscape is a sad trail. It was the first kickstarter I’d found all on my own, looking for miniatures games too stretch my budget a little farther. I happened across this strange-looking Wild West science-fictiony game. It had some really cool concept art and basic Miniatures. It was alternate earth, which had worked well for Malifaux, and the factions were intriguing.
The Outlaws, Lead by Jesse James
The Union, Lead by General Grant
The Enlightened, Lead by Dr. Carpathian
The Warrior Nations, Lead By Sitting Bull.

Each had their own take on the world, some more unique than others. the Outlaws were pretty standard, as was the Union. The Warrior Nations were an amalgamation of all the Native American Tribes. The Enlightened, however, threw me off. They are a strange amalgamation of Undead and technology that seemed a little off. Maybe its just the way that it clashes so starkly with the other three factions. Each of those are their own take on something in the world, while Carpathian and the Enlightened are from Left-center.
Anyway. I was happy with three of the four, so I moved forward with trying to spread the word. Maybe someone else will get into it with me.
I had no such luck. I did get 3 other people to jump in, and I was pretty stoked that maybe I’d get some games in once the rules came out. The models were cool, and I had hope for the game.

The of the Warrior Nation just called to me, Starting with this bad boy

Geronimo. Add to that Werewolf Sitting Bull, Wereeagle Sky Spirit, a giant Goddamned Elk. All the warrior nations to that point were a ton of fun, and As each new model was unlocked, more cool things showed up, including the new factions: Confederacy, Lawmen, El Ejercito Dorado, and Holy Order, Heavy support, Cavalry/Light support. Tons of cool looking models and neat ideas.

But, for every four good ideas, they had a terrible Idea. A giant $100 train that is not a model in the game, but has some part in scenarios, Mercenaries inspired by Firefly, Ladies models that cater to lonely men, and Weapon carts pushed around by bulky Indians.

The biggest problem I had, though, was the structure of the Pledge levels. It seemed designed to make you pledge much more than you’d like just to get what you wanted. Its different from the structure you normally see, the entices you to go bigger. This specific setup gives you more things, but they are generally more things you Don’t want in order to get what you do. there wasn’t a single pledge level that tried to steal you to one full faction, they all added more and more factions. It was… frustrating.

So, I was looking forward to the beta test rules to come out, but there was some trepidation: They would only come out once the pledges were finalized and the Kickstarter ended. In retrospect, I’ll not back anything that I can’t see the rules of first. It would have changed a lot of what I have done since then.

Because the rules were awful. The beta rules came out with some giant, gaping holes. Stats are difficult to comprehend and read, some abilities made no sense on the models they were on, and balance was completely shot through. It was so easy to tell that this game was built with fun cinematic battles in mind, and that the best way to play would definitely be casual, club or home tables. However, With every pledge came a free ticket to the AZ based Duelcon and entry into their first tournament to be held. They clearly had aspirations to be a balanced, tournament worthy game that held a candle to the big tournaments of other games. However, their scenarios were terrible. I don’t mean bad or sloppy. They were just awful. Deployment and initiative favored one player over the other, and placement of terrain was part of the game. I don’t know if any of you went through the point in minis games where you thought placement of terrain was part of the game, but its terrible. I gave some serious feedback. However, no lie, the responses were overwhelmingly negative. Many people expressed anger at the tournament and balance crowd, while the balance crowd was very frustrated with the “but its fun” crowd. It was among the worst forum experiences I have ever had, and it was very divisive and overwhelmingly negative. The final nail, though, was the final rules set. Very little was changed from the original setup, regardless of discussion or debate, no matter how reasonable. The biggest and most important change, though, was not a change. There was a very specific rule, and I can recall the details fairly clearly.

There was a rule that penalized characters that are good in combat for being in combat. Each turn, a model can make as many melee attacks in a Fight Action as their Strikes stat. So,Geronimo, Warrior Nation Boss has a Strikes of 4. He can make 4 melee attacks in a given round. Sounds awesome! However, The rule in question reduced the amount of strikes he could make in combat by the amount of people he was in melee with -1, to a minimum of 1. This rule absurdly penalizes characters who have the sole purpose of being in melee, for being in melee, while also not penalizing characters who are bad at melee. This was discussed very vehemently, and almost the whole of the community thought it was lame and made no sense. Outlaw miniatures response was overwhelmingly terrible: They put a call out in the next set of rules specifically stating why this rule was not terrible. No one was convinced and it was, by far, the strongest reason for me abandoning the game forum and escaping to a miniatures games that seemed good.

Fortunatly, the Outnumbered rule does not seem to be on the quickstart rules. This is a start in the correct direction. However, for every move forward they seem to move another step back.

Included in the rules are such strange, esoteric rules like:
Armor: -When a model is hit, it must make an Armor Roll. Roll a D10 and add the target’s Armor Stat to the roll. Then subtract from this total the Power of the weapon. A negative result means that your Armor has failed to stop the attack and the model has suffered Damage. Mark one Lifeblood box on the target’s card for each point of Damage suffered. When a model has its last remaining Lifeblood box marked, it is removed from the table as a casualty.

D10 + Armor – Weapon’s Power = Damage

Example 1: An Outlaw with Armor 1 is hit by a Union Soldier’s Blaster Pistol (Power 8). The Outlaw player rolls a D10 and gets a 4. Added
to its Armor 1, he gets a total of 5. Subtracting the 8 points of the weapon’s Power, you get a negative -3. This means that the Outlaw takes
3 Lifeblood damage from the hit.

This is insanely ridiculous. Negative number are confusing and foreign to the way a game should be. especially because the solution is so easy: Power -(Arm + roll) = Damage, expressed as a positive number. Example one can be so simply rewritten.

An Outlaw with Armor 1 is hit by a Union Soldier’s Blaster Pistol (Power 8). The Outlaw player rolls a D10 and gets a 4. Added
to its Armor 1, he gets a total of 5. Subtracting that from the 8 points of the weapon’s Power, you get 3. This means that the Outlaw takes
3 Lifeblood damage from the hit.

The only words I changed were in bold.

The final issue I am going to go into here is that bonuses and penalties are expressed in relation to the stat referenced. Because the stats are better when they are lower, (you want to roll over the number listed) the bonus and penalties are reversed. a +1 is bad, and a -1 is good. This could have easily been changed to be shown as a penalty or bonus to the roll itself, to better align the game with player expectations. Its complex for complexities sake, and really could have been done better, cleaner, and been a great game.

There are tons more stories about rules that were dumb or weird or didn’t make any sense, but I’ll let you imagine what was going on.

Fast Forward to recently, and I am starting to get excited about the models, as they are finally getting ready to ship. The container is in customs, getting pulled and checked, and we have simple weeks to wait. We get the update on kickstarter and it has a bonus surprise, a glimpse at the next Boss we can expect to have in December:

I’m pretty sure that the middle snippet is of a werecat of some sort, and to me, it struck my excitement level back up to 11. I could have a werecat leading my Warrior nation army around. There could only be glory!
But then, a day later, I found the link to the quickstart rules, and all hope was lost, again.

I’ll get a review of the models once I get them all in, and Hopefully I can send some of them off to someone who will really enjoy the game, while I paint up a cool set of Warrior Nation models to sit on a shelf somewhere.

This is the longest post I’ve written, and I’m sad that its negative. Thanks for Hanging in there!

It has been a hard year for Cryx players. The best caster in the game, Asphyxious II, has been justifiably nerfed twice. Though its needed, it does not sting any less. Adding on top o that, we’ve not seen a new release in probably 12 months. I know: Hard is relative. However, we are starting to get some cool information coming through about what we will be in Vengance. Its been a trickle, but I’ll take it, and its hopefully going to come faster as Vengeance nears.

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