Last week, Corvus Belli worked together with Beasts of War to provide a sneak peak at the Infinity N3 rules that are on their way. I was able to gather up a few of them , but Friday proved to be the lions share of rules, going over Close Combat, Hacking and Weapons and Ammo, along with a two part battle report using a pile of the new rules. I spent last week talking about Infinity itself, and today, prompted by my experiences over the last few years, I want to ramble for a bit on the subject of edition changes within games.

It feels like, back when I was playing games as a younger man, that they never changed unless I wanted them too. Board games rarely changed, and D&D, at the time, was fairly stable. The first real change that I’d encountered was in MTG. While the sets pushed forward and added new and interesting events and cards, there was’t really a philosophical design change. The story followed the same characters, the same locations and felt almost eternal. With the end of The Weatherlight Saga and the departure from Dominaria, I felt betrayed, I felt lost. I didn’t want any part of this new game that had forced itself into the world that I had created for it. Now, with a changed world, new characters, and an inevitable change in philosophy upcoming, I snapped. I played the game at friends houses fairly regularly for a little bit, but the love had died off. I sold almost all my cards, keeping just a few here and there, and left the game.

during and after high school, I was also playing pen and pencil RPG’s, most notably D&D. My experience in MTG Still colored my opinions, and the change from 2nd to 3rd edition was one we did not embrace readily. It wasn’t until our group was introduced to the new edition by a friend who loved it deeply that we even gave it a shot, right before 3.5 came out. Again, we were convinced that the game we’d come to enjoy and love was being replaced with this foreign object that has the name and face of the game we still played, but the soul of it had changed, and the body had morphed into something wholly unrecognizable.

Shortly after my break with MTG, I was introduced to Warhammer 40K, a game that filled a similar void, that allowed me to nerd out with my friends and flexed my brain meat in methods that didn’t really get exercised with board games. I felt that I was making tactical and strategic decisions about the game on a scale that I’d not been able to with games like D&D. I spent and unknown amount of money and time on Warhammer. I poured many hours of creativity, thought and artistry into the hobby, eventually even getting a job at the local store and suckering in masses of people. Then, My first edition change with the game came, and man it was a doozy. I’d heard of the long ago days of Rogue Trader, and how it was a vastly different game and again the legends of the fabled Second Edition of the game, with complex and strange rules interactions. Now, Living in the age of Third edition, I was experiencing a toned down version of the game, streamlined to a basic, no frills game that allowed me to simply play. I’d built armies using all sorts of obscure and insane lists. Now, with the coming of fourth edition, I experienced something I’d never known before. Obsolescence. The army I had grown to love and enjoy playing the most, with which I had put tons of time and labor into converting and collecting, had been discontinued. This army was so specific I could never even pretend it was something different. I, as a player, had been tossed aside. I played the Fourth edition for a short time before being fired for Poisonous Thinking. Between being fired and having a favorite army discontinued, I’d quit Games Workshop games completely.

While I was playing these two games, I was also playing pen and pencil RPG’s, most notably D&D. My experience in MTG Still colored my opinions, and the change from 2nd to 3rd edition was one we did not embrace readily. It wasn’t until our group was introduced to the new edition by a friend who loved it deeply that we even gave it a shot, right before 3.5 came out.

 

While I was working at Games Workshop, I was introduced to this amazing miniatures game with a very different style of play than the one I was selling. A number of us all got into it at once. The game was over-the-top crazy! It has robots and undead and this new theme called Steampunk, with tokens and gadgets and all sorts of effects all over the field of play. The experience was as different from any wargame I’d played before or sense.  I’d fallen in love with a game in its first edition.

I hadn’t quite learned. I thought that FAQ’s and Errata would be enough to stem the tide of a new edition forever. I never thought there would be a day when the game would need to be looked at in such glaringly harsh light that it would need to be upended, rewritten, and brought back into line with what the creators and designers of the game really wanted. Inevitably, though, it happened. This time, though, was different from all the others. This time, there was an open, public beta test that gave us insight into how and why the changes were coming. This was the first I had heard of such things happening, and dove in deeply, submitting feedback and trying to balance a game myself.

This was a turning point in my understanding of how and why games go through changes. What had once been assumed to be an ever stable landscape of games, founded on a bedrock of impenetrable rules and infallible game designers was now show to be what it was. These games I played were created by gamers like myself and my friends, who had a great idea and decided to run with it. They would play-test it and enjoy it and hone it, but inevitably, mistakes would be made, loopholes would be left open, and strategies would be missed. Game design, especially now, is a quick turn around affair, with internal testing and outside playtesters doing their damnedest to try and iron out all the kinks and make a spectacular game.

But, as more and more gamers get a hold of a product, these seemingly small portions of the game that were missed become magnified and extrapolated. It is especially obvious in the United States, where the culture of taking any edge to win is so ingrained that we don’t even find it problematic. In general, Americans enjoy pushing the boundaries to win and enjoy pushing themselves to discover new and unintended loopholes and kinks that they can exploit to their benefit. This comes not just from our culture, it is almost who we are as gamers, brought up on video games and sports, where anything that isn’t explicitly called out is fair game. To take that a step further we were even encouraged to find that way around that lead us to victory. Built into Super Mario Brothers are the warp pipes that let us cheat out whole levels!

Many times, it is this wide exposure and popularity that leads to a streamlining and changing of a rules system. To some, this is the worst of the worst, and evidence that the game designers are pandering to the masses by making the game more palatable, more understandable, and easier to sell. While this sometimes may be true, I would instead counter with the fact that it is under this new weight of players that the game must be rebalanced. A player base is a much greater testing ground than anyone could possibly hope to achieve prior to release, and many times this player base will find and exploit a system in the rules that allows for victory at a much lower cost than one is used to. This is countered by a tactic or seldom used loophole, and the rabbit hole continues. After years of these cycles, the game is often at a point that no one could have ever intended when they launched the game or wrote the rules, and the change of edition is a come back home moment.

The big problem with players is that they have very little of that frame of reference, and even less of a problem with the problems in a game. Between a lack of perspective into game design and Edition Fatigue starting to lay thick, many people rile against the changes in edition not even as a necessary evil, but as a betrayal of trusts.

These changes never get easier, but these companies will never stop making them. In the last 5 years, I’ve seen D&D, Warmachine, Infinity, Malifaux, and Descent each change editions and rulebooks. Each release I have looked at with enjoyment, trepidation, excitement and anticipation. These events are going to happen, and if you think your playing in the final edition of a game, I envy your ability to look at the here and now without looking towards the future. Each of these games changed, sometimes in significant ways, from the edition that preceded them. Some, Like Malifaux, Warmachine, and the Most recent D&D, have changed for the better, adding and subtracting complexity and rules where needed. Descent and Infinity are, currently, mixed bags, with Descent going to far, and maybe infinity not going far enough.

I’ve found its best not to look at the game you love, the one you currently play, with rose colored glasses proclaiming it to be the best ever, but once an edition change is announced, take a critical look at the game your playing and see how it varies from what seems to be the goal of the game in the first book, and how it contrasts with its image from the outside. Take your time and try to get inside the head of the developers. Remember, they don’t want any model, unit, or rule to be a stinker. They want every option to be good, competitive, and worth considering. Every bad model they make is simply another model that they have to pay development, design and production to make that will very likely never, ever sell.

Well, perhaps until a new edition comes out. Then some of those scrap models will have life breathed into it once again, as I very much hope some of the Haqq models are this year.

 

 

 

All the things that PP released from Templecon this weekend have me immensely excited to be playing their games, all of them. Even Level 7: Invasion has me really stoked to pick up a copy and defend the world.

There have been spoilers coming in from a thousand different directions, and I’m going to try and consolidate as many of them here as I can. If I’ve missed something, let me know.

Vengeance:
The very first thing that came out, Wednesday, was the Warmachine: Tactics Backer update. In it we got two Images:
Vengance Novice Warcasters

The first, above, is the painted sculpts of all the novice Warcasters, coming in Vengeance, along with Sturgis in both his epic and original incarnations. Sturgis is a separate release, but you know, I’ll accept that.

The second, below, is the cover of the short story compilation of all the novice Warcasters. If you look close enough, though, you’ll notice that the Khadoran ‘jack is wandering about in a distinctly different weapon load out. This lead to Kiko commenting on it and Matt Wilson replying with:

Indicating he knew about it, which is fantastic. Later on, Sunday evening, rumours started to surface that the gun on the hidden are of that monstrosity was a beast: ROF 5 and Double strike. Crazy, I say, but most things I’ve seen that are crazy come to light from a grain of truth.

Vengance new Khador Jack

Thursday morning, the store opened, and there were a number of early releases available, as their always is at these events. Among them was Rollin’ Bones Goreshade – a con exclusive sculpt of a soon to be released alt sculpt. Plarzoid got some unboxing pictures, and he looks really cool. He is not my style, but I can definitely see where he could appeal to a lot of people. s. Its a fantastic sculpt, and I look forward to the standard one.

About 10am. Chain attack got the scoop on Stryker 3, and man is this guys good!

Stryker 3 Compiled

I spoke with Lyle, who’d been running his Theme list all weekend:

Lord General Coleman Stryker,+5+5
-Stormwall19
-Ol' Rowdy9
Storm Lances 10
Storm Lances 10
Major Laddermore5
Stormblade Captian2

As you can see, the Theme List does at least two things.
-Point Cost reduction on Storm Lances
-FA Increase on Storm Lances

Lyle also mentioned that there were two other benefits: Armywide Pathfinder on turn 1, and +2 speed for ‘Jacks on turn 1. None of that is wasted space. The speed combined with Escort will rocket the battlegroup across the table. Pathfinder will make sure the army gets in position regardless of deployment, and cost reduction is two free points in the army, enough to grab a Stormblade Captain, say. I do not look forward to the beatings I expect to receive the first few times I fight him.

The next peak was late Thursday night, when Will Schick had his Goresshade III photograhped and put into the Cryx forums. I am really looking forward to grabbing him and putting him on the table.
Goreshade 3
Goreshade 3a

The final drop on Thursday was Will, again, sending a simple tweet out.

Turns out everyones favorite executioner got a bump in focus. With the known spoilers so far giving him a debuff feat that also makes enemies explode into fiery bonfires, and the Wracks immunity to non-magical shooting, the extra focus is going to be a stellar addition. with that 14″ control area and the Huge 4.75″ base, he can really reach a large portion of the battlefield with any control area effects he has, including his feat!

and this was all before the keynote Presentation Friday morning!

The keynote was all sorts of insane, too. While I was disappointed at the keynote of L&L last year, nothing of the sort can be said of this years Templecon. Dear God, did they set the stage. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch all five parts here

Lets dive in one piece at a time!

First came the Warmachine Tactics preview, where they showed all sorts of Sexy model preview and level designs. While I appreciate the preview, I’m still stoked from Kickstarter. I didn’t need anything to raise my level of excitement. It was really cool to see the Protectorate ‘jacks, along with Sorcha and Strakov. I Hadn’t know that they were going to have Strakov, though, and that’s cool to know.

The next Portion moved into something near and dear to my heart: IKRPG! They seem to have done the same thing with the IK as they did with Warmachine and Hordes. Its two separate, compatible games. IKRPG: Unleashed gives us a whole pile of new player character races: Tharn, Gatormen, Bog Trogs, and Pygs. You can also take Human, Trollkin and Nyss, though they are available in the IKRPG:FMF. They have Bonegrinder, Monster Hunter, Tharn Ravager and Bokur as classes for the taking. They also specifically call out each race as having vastly different Warlocks, which will create some really cool characters. Oh, and over a hundred pages of monsters! A hundred! That is just overwhelming. I can’t wait to get back to playing the IKRPG! Screenshots:

Unleashed 1

Unleashed 2

Unleashed 3

Now, now we get to the meat of the matter, the huge pulsating heart of the keynote.
Hordes: Exigence
Now, here is where we get all sorts of screenshots and Details. I’ll just link the pictures to a gallery. If you want to see what something looks like, click the link!

Hordes Exigence:
Female Gator (Juga Juga) and Farrow Casters (Helga the Conqueror)
The female gator has an undead snake, and behind her is an undead Tatzelwurm
Xerxes 2, mounted on a Rhino, on what looks to be a Huge Base. He’s also mentioned as having the most badass wheelchair, so its plausible his legs are broken.
Legion gets Epic Absylonia, who is said to have Conferred Rage, stolen from Butcher 2
Gator and Farrow Battle Engines: The gator one is a mobile sacrificial alter, and the Farrow one is a meatgriner/flamethrower.
New Character Warbeasts, including a Heavy Nephalim for Saryn/Rheays That has two different affinities
Satyr Warbeast that looks blind. Has a spear/staff for circle. Mentioned at the same time as more character warbeasts, but who knows.
Lesser warlocks for each faction with no set battlegroup but affinities for certain beasts
Troll: Pyre/slag
Circle -Falconer w/ Griffons
-Legion Lesser warlock mentioned, but no picture.
Three of the four (five?) factions will get Warbast “packs” of four smaller warbeasts. Is a combination of both unit (separate damage tracks like a Medium based unit, no spiral) and a warbeast (all the fury rules apply)
The Skorne look like little monster diggers
The Legion ones look like giant wasps
Rules:



There was also a brief moment that a trollkin unit with pistols showed up

Then, there is a short stint about a Risk-like game for Level 7: Invasion. I’ve very much enjoyed [escape] so I’m pretty sure I’ll pick this one up.

And, they saved the best for last, IMO. The new Mercs that are coming out at Lock and Load 2014: Cephalyx! Its been 6 years in the making, but it looks glorious!

Cephalyx will be a merc contract like Talion
– They will have living monstrosities, That are Living giant “not warjacks” with low arm but 36 boxes. – No cortex, do not count as warjacks, and are super cheap: No more than 7 points.

Cephalyx have Merc Attachments for any small or medium based merc unit, with Boomhowler, Alexia and Forge Guard called out. The UA will make them better, but if he dies, the unit starts to run.
A solo, a unit and a caster were spoiled:
Exulon Thexus


The solo is supposed to act like Choir, giving Cephalyx models +2 to hit and damage, a welcome addition to the monstrosities stats:
Cephalyx 1

The Unit is a Cephalyx and some special drudges that it can use as arc nodes, hopefully for some good effects. Thankfully, most of the Cephalyx have some sort of sacrificial pawn ability, enabling them to stay alive longer than would normally be the case. Except for Blast: that’ll kill ’em every time.

The final Spoilers I’ve managed to collect are on the Cygnar Reliants Gun. Supposedly, it shoots thunderstorms: AOE clouds that do lightning damage.

All in all, I am very pleased. Definitely picking up Cephalyx at L&L in June. Epic Xerxis looks awesome, as does the Skorne Beast pack. I am kinda upset I didn’t get to see the Skorne Lesser Warlock, but I can wait what with all the other Insane crap coming out!
Oh lord! I am going to have to get someone to paint my Sacrificial Alter for the Gator Exchange…

Till next time!

The other night I had a couple friends and my brother slide over to my place to play some card games, as its the only way I can really get any gaming in, as I’ve mentioned. So, the night started with multiple baby interruptions, but they faded away as the evening went on.

The first game that we decided to play was the decidedly fun Smash-UP. The game plays smooth with a simple design but seems to have a lot of replayability.

Smash up, the base set, starts with 8 decks of cards with different themes and abilities: Robots, Wizards, Tricksters (Fey Creatures), Aliens, Zombies, Pirates, Dinosaurs and Ninjas. Each deck contains two types of cards: Minions and Actions.Both are clearly labeled on every card, which makes mistakes pretty unlikely.
Every minion that I saw had an ability and a power score.

Every action has an easily understood mechanic.

Each person is dealt two decks at random, which they then shuffle together to build their deck of cards. Then, locations are dealt out that will be the focal point of the game. They have a target number for total minion power at the location. When that is met, it scores the printed victory points for first, second and third most powerful players on the location, as decided by total power. You want to stack as much power as you can onto each location to try and get the first place victory points, in order to score the 15 to win.

The game is a simple two action game: Play one minion card, play one action card. Both are clearly labeled on every card, which makes mistakes pretty unlikely. Drawing 5 cards as your starting hand, your not allowed more than 10 total. Each location has some rules on it, affecting either minion play or giving an effect when scoring. Some places are better for certain faction, and others are just straight up great. Each location, once completed, is scored and replaced with a new one.


The basics are simple, as I said, but like many good games has a significant amount of depth to it. With 28 different decks, there is some serious replayability, though getting that Final Deck achievement might be harder than it seems. I ended up with Wizard Robots, which was really cool: Tons of card draw and card filter, with robots providing a serious minion advantage. I didn’t even come close to winning, but it was really fun.

Here is where it gets cool: Expansions are already being built, and only offer greater replayability and zaniness. The first expansion is The Obligatory Cthulu Expansion and it delivers on its time honored promise: Beings from Beyond, Cultists, Researchers and townsfolk. This second game we used the Expansion with one Chthulu deck, and one Standard deck. I got the Zombie Townsfolk, which seemed pretty cool. Zombies are discard pile (graveyard) focused, and townsfolk are focused on getting more townsfolk out by skimming through the deck. It works together pretty well.

except that one of the locations allowed anyone to move cards from my discard to the bottom of my library, significantly decreasing my ability to use my discard pile. This lead to an aggravating start of the game and an impossibility of winning, but it was an enjoyable experience I would definitely try again. I look forward to it, even.

Then, We got down to playing some Commander.

After my last commander session, I sat down and did a hard look at my decks, trying to figure out how to do more, not bigger. After the game, I think I got it right. While I didn’t dominate the game in any way, I did find a way to win. Mostly off the the game plan I’d built the whole Riku of Two Reflections deck to accomplish: whatever the opponent is doing I do to. Forks, clones, and deflections litter the deck in order to utilize the opponents cards. I also have a splash of big fatty creatures and some solid ramp. Combined with Riku’s static abilities, I was able to stave off danger as long as possible, cloning Sylvan and Luminate primordials to stabilize my board after others got them out faster than I did, and then dropping a double butcher orgg once the board had cleared again. It was a long, fun game, and though I won, I didn’t feel that I’d dominated the game. I was simply the least dangerous player on the board, until I won. The other decks were Sharuum The Hegemon, Jolrael, Empress of Beasts, and Reaper king. Everyone kept blowing up Sharuums artifacts, I blew up Reaper Kings red mana to keep that vindicate machine from working, and Sharuum kept on blowing up Jolrael to prevent her from killing us all. That cycle worked itself out in my favor as everyone kept beating each other up, letting me gather all the land known to man and casting all sorts of big bombs to end the game.

It was very good times with fun guys, and I look forward to more Smash-up and EDH in the future.

This weekend was chock full of awesome gaming.

As I mentioned yesterday, I managed to beat Haven, and I’ve started Sanctuary in Heroes of Might and Magic VI.

This new campaign is full of terrible racist steyotypes and is poorly voiced with Asian accents that are just awful. 1930’s cringe worthy awful I can’t believe as I listen to it, that this actually made it past the publishers.

The creatures are cool, being a bunch of Asian mythology inspired themes like Frog-spirits, Sharks-at-Arms, Naga-warriors, and Naga Lightning Mages. The music is very oriental-inspired as well, and makes for a good dissonance with the rest of the levels I’ve been through. I’ve yet to make it deep, as I saved once I found my very first town, but I should dig a little deeper into the campaign tonight and see what happens.

Sunday, I made it over to a friends house to help him practice for a set of tournaments coming up. He’s a great player. He asked for Cryx specifically, so I game him the best we got.
Epic Asphyxious.

Here is the list:
Lich Lord Asphyxious
-Nightwretch x2

Bane Thralls x10
-Bane Thrall UA
Satyxis Blood Witches x10
-Blood Witch UA
Bile Thralls x10
Bane Knights x10

Saxon Orrik
Warwitch Siren x2
Bane Lord Tartarus
Necrotech and Scrap Thrall

Artificer General Nemo (3) got the best of me for two rounds, killing almost 50 models in one turn of shooting. He made a single (and I mean just one) mistake that cost him the game: not laying covering fire at his feet to prevent the bane thralls from charging stormwall. Parasite + 5 bane thralls later, stormwall is in the dirt, and my feating bane knights are free to take down the Thunderhead with two more popping the objective. I dominate one zone, control the other, and break an objective all in one turn: 4 points. If I get one more on his turn I win, so he goes for the assassination. He leaves me with two boxes. Its less disappointing than it seems for him, as hot rolls balanced cold, and it seemed about right. Doing 18 damage at dice -6 (even boosted) from 3 attack is 3 points off of average.

With the failed assassination run, he contests both zones, and has to hope for my banes to fail, which they thankfully did not. Victory Epic Asphyxious!

I’ve never played a betrayal game before yesterday, and it seems to me I was missing out on huge fun. I really need to get my group of friends to play a few of these.
Yesterday, I played Battlestar Galactica. In it there are about 7 ways to lose, and only one to win. The humans are pretty screwed. and its completely awesome.
Basically, the games goes as follows:
Players are handed, at the start of the game, a character and a loyalty card.
The character card has three abilities and three stats. The stats determine the type of cards that characters can draw. The loyalty cards have two phrases: You are not a Cylon, and You are a Cylon.
Key: Only half the Cylon/not Cylon deck is dealt out at the start of the game. Meaning that there is a distinct possibility that there are no Cylons to start the game.
Each player takes a turn, wandering about the Battlestar and the colony ship, and at the end of each turn a crisis happens. Most times, this is an event. Sometimes its a Cylon Attack featuring Giant Basestar’s, Raiders, and boarding parties.
The events each have a target number, and define what cards are used to succeed, and what are used to penalize. each player then contributes, in secret, any number of cards to the pot, that is then shuffled and totaled. If the success cards outnumber the failure cards, the crisis is averted, most of the time with no gain. If the crisis is failed, bad things happen, and one of the 7 ways to die ticks down. Cylons try to subtly bait out failures and humans try to succeed at these impossible tasks.
Its very hard for the Humans to win.

Both games went to the Cylons, with me dealing the deathblow as I revealed from the Shadows to end the game on game one, and then the two Cylons revealing themselves back to back and summoning a huge death fleet to destroy us as we tried to power up our FTL engine to make our final jump. We almost had it!

-Tio