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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Earlier this year I signed up for Project Orange Crush Hunger. The concept is for the community to volunteer to paint models of a given army in an orange theme of each painters choice, and then once the army is finished, its raffled off. The proceeds of the raffle go to hunger relief in conjunction with the years Foodmachine efforts. This, the third year, they’ve chosen to do an orange Convergence army.

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Earlier this year I signed up for Project Orange Crush Hunger. The concept is for the community to volunteer to paint models of a given army in an orange theme of each painters choice, and then once the army is finished, its raffled off. The proceeds of the raffle go to hunger relief in conjunction with the years Foodmachine efforts. This, the third year, they’ve chosen to do an orange Convergence army.

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The Malifaux Wave 2 beta has been running for about three weeks now. It was just updated today, as a matter of fact. The latest document is located here.
I’ve really been impressed, as I have said before, with the way Wyrd has really stepped up their game with this second edition. The first test-play of book 1 was very solid. It contained some new models, and moved some models around from other books to the First book, but otherwise was a simple redo of the rules and the first set of masters they created. It swung heavy from time to time, with some masters needing heavy tweaks or multiple passes, but was mostly just excellent play test feedback.

This second wave seems much more restrained. They seem to have learned from the first test and have really honed in on the models and what they want to do with them in each instance. They’ve been able to take the concept that they had in 1e and make it both playable and storydriven in 2e. There are small discrepancies here and there as any good game will have, but the overall effect has been very positive. I’ve been focusing on Guild, and only today did they get a really solid pass, with Hoffman being tooled around quite a bit. This pleases me, as I am starting to see what I am going to pick up with the pile of cash I made off my last little bit of GW stuff I had before I moved.

I mentioned before I am going to now have a McMourning Crew, but I am also really pleased for the McCabe crew as well. This wave of the test fills out the models I wanted to use with McMourning, and gives me McCabe.

I’m going to be able to field a pretty cool crew of Guild Guard now under McMourning, with Drill Sergeant Daschell, Hounds, Riflemen, Guardsmen, Trappers, and one of my favorite models, the Guild Guard Captain. They each layer buffs on each other, and can remove paralyze, which is one of the downsides to McMournings Nurses he likes to have come along. I’ve really got a cool theme for them I am going to put together somehow, and when they hit the field, its gonna be fun!
Well, at least after the first few times of me learning how they freaking work. I have a mind of Iron. It takes forever to scribe anything into it, but once its there, its there forever!

Sadly, I’ve been unable to really play the game due to my daughter being born, but its worth the trade off. I’ll sit on the sides, patiently reading updates about what and how the game is changing right before my very eyes.

This extended play test has given me much more hope about what the future hold for Wyrd. they say this will last three months, so maybe I can get a game or two in before it ends, but who knows.

So, its been quiet for a lot longer than I would like around here. I’ve been preparing for a number of major life events.
The wife and I had our daughter, and she’s an adorable little person, and If I have anything to do with it, a future nerd. She gets to make the final decision, but its pretty much all daddy does. Now, 10 days later, I will also be moving, and packing for that has been great fun. I apologize for the delays, but I feel its good reasons.

We’re just gonna get some general nerd comments out there, its gonna be a brief one.

I finished inferno, but have not started up on the Stronghold, the last of the Standard Campaigns. It was a good ride through inferno, and I look forward to finishing the game.

I picked up Puzzle and Dragons. Its Pokemon meets bejewled, and its my time-killer of choice lately.

I sorted through my old D&D notebooks. I’ve got maps and notes from 12+ years ago, and its some really cool stuff. My world has grown and expanded well past anything I’d imagined. Well, grown isn’t the right word. I’ve destroyed all but one of my civilizations, and that one is about to get a rude awakening. Also, the notes I was reading through made me realize: I’d never written a history for Tysis (the continent where all the action happens). When I originally created it back in ’95, it was an “as is” state. I’ve moved forward almost 30 years at this point, but I’ve only looked here and there at the history. Its time to rectify that.

I’m finally getting rid of a ton of my old GW models. I am pleased.

Warstore weekend is about to go down! Normally I’d be there to help out my buddies, but this newborn thing is pretty complicated, so I’ve bowed out for the year. Head up to northern Jersey if you get the chance. Most of my Convention Locals will be there, give em hell!

Malifaux Has edited and updated their 2e tracker with beta Wave 2! In it they have all the models of Malifaux that were not covered in the initial release. So, for me, I am getting my first look at Lucious, the new Neverborn/Guild Master (he’s been upgraded from Henchman in 1.5) and McCabe, the Guild/Ten Thunders Master. They both look fun, and perhaps a reason to pick up Lucious that I’d never had before, especially with the influx of money from the GW stuff. It also has Abuela Ortega and the Latiago Pistoleros, both of which are a favorite of mine. Oh, and the vast majority of the guild guard models that I had enjoyed in theory were in there as well, with the Drill Sergeant, Captain of the Guard, and Riflemen, among others. I really look forward to grabbing those and using them with McMourning. It makes only perfect sense.

That’s all I have for now. I’ll be trying to get in 3 times a week and see how that works out.

Jonathon

Skeltor from : http://dreddabrutallac.deviantart.com/art/Skeletor-166200008

Reaper is at it again.

Their bones miniatures, which are really good, are back on Kickstarter. This brings me both joy and sadness. I like the idea of getting some more models, but do the really need another Kickstarter?

I like the concept of Kickstarter. It is a unique way of getting direct to user funding, breaking the traditional model of investment funding. Why should any concept be tied to the stodgy tried and true concepts others have tried? Investors are notoriously closefisted with their money and generally unwilling to jump for new ideas. I like that it gets novel ideas into a marketplace that has the ability to bring creators and individual funders together. Direct funding is really inspiring and I think its use for expanding the genres that a tenured company can venture into, reaching sideways, can be a boon. I even think its really great for companies going to novel production methods that test the tried and true bedrock.

There are some exceptions, though. I’m not fond of big companies plumbing Kickstarter for their basic tenants. Certainly, if other funding avenues are not available, then I’m OK with it. But I really object to seeing large name companies pitching the same type of product they would have been able to sell normally to Kickstarter. I’m also opposed to something I’ve seen come more and more: rapid-fire Kickstarters. I don’t think Kickstarter should be used a your basic business model and before putting another project up, you should definitely deliver on the first.

So, its with mixed feelings that I have signed up for Bones II. I have backed the original Bones Kickstarter, Warmachine: Tactics, Wild West Exodus, and Relic Knights, and I have had different results from each one. Relic Knights is still not at my door, Wild West Exodus is currently on the block to be sold, and Warmachine: Tactics has just finished up. Bones did me right, though. It delivered my products a little late, but they were all in there. A Kickstarter success, my first!

So when I heard the about Bones II, I was excited. The bones models I got were fantastic if a little bendy but the value was enormous, and I felt that I was helping Reaper achieve what it couldn’t do without my help: make the bones line a success quickly. It would be a kickstart to their bones line allowing them to get deeper into production. but then they put up Bones II, and the more I thought about it, this second incarnation had me more than a little torn. while there are some fantastic sculpts that are coming to the bones line, I feel that going back to Kickstarter is a little disingenuous. Isn’t this what we did for you the first time? Weren’t you supposed to move forward with your line once we got you… Kickstarted?

I’ve pledged in, but only to see what type of models they’ll release, and maybe get some extras. The real hook for me the first go round was the piles of giants I could get. Oh, and that I would never need another hero model again. 240 some models for $100 was pretty phenomenal. This next one, with about 14 days left, is sitting around 135 models. Its just not as thrilling. The addons are pretty neat, but only in a conceptual manner. The hill giants are really the only ones I have a powerful desire for.

We will see how it all pans out, but I am really hoping that they get a little more strength before the end so that I can feel good about my money going to them. Its going to need a lot more than a few cool models this time.

The Inferno Campaign has been the second most enjoyable campaign of the game so far. Necropolis was a ranged powerhouse and easily my favorite, and Inferno is the opposite: a melee powerhouse with some of the most enjoyable mobs so far. They cover all the basic devil/demon tropes -cCerberus, succubus, pit fiends, maniacs, lumbering rampagers and swift tormented beasts are all represented in some way.

I played a magic hero with Necropolis, might with Haven, and magic with Sanctuary so it was time to return to might with Inferno. My experience with Haven was a little harrowing, and had really put me off the concept of might heroes, but as I’ve always said: I’ll try anything twice. I rolled up a might hero, and started off into the great unknown, hoping to not hate the game. This time, though, I was rewarded with an enjoyable experince right from the go. Having the experience of what didn’t work as a might hero in Haven really helped, as I was able to build a solid might hero right from the start.

Each campaign features four maps. On the first one, your limited to your basic three creatures, called Core Units. You might get an Elite level as well if your lucky. The second map allows you access to all of the Elites and Cores, and the third gives you access to Champion units. Each of these units has to be earned and found on the map. Sometimes its a simple stack hanging around that you recruit, and sometimes its a quest. Each creature has a basic form and an upgraded form, as well. The third map never gives you access to your Upgraded Champion; that is the purview of the fourth and final map. Whats so fun about the fourth map is that you get to have access to all your creatures from the get-go. You have to spend the time and resources to build their recruitment centers, but its up to you to pick and choose when to get what units.

Each recruitment center generates a certain amount of units each week, 7 turns, so preserving these is paramount. In the Necropolis and Haven campaigns you have access to replenishment with necromancy and healing respectively. In Sanctuary you just have a million-billion units so you care less about losses. In Inferno, you have no access to anything, and your units aren’t super-plentiful, but they hit plenty hard, and seem to have a decent amount of HP among them. Magic Heroes allow you to pummel your enemies with powerful spells, which is good for armies with weaker units like Necropolis and Sanctuary, but the hardier units of Inferno have really enjoyed the plentiful buffing that goes on with the might heroes. From the ability to counter-attack before being hit instead of after, to the ability that lets you summon extra guys based on the size of your army, to the ability to call out a unit to go immediately, might heroes have some very compelling abilities.

The style of play that Inferno has is a no-mercy, hit first, hit hard melee beating. They have only two Ranged units, one Core and one Elite, but they can’t hold down the fort for you unless you do some serious work on them. Instead, you summon a huge amount of extra demons and charge them into the face of the enemy until there is no enemy left. Speaking of summoning demons, each faction has its own unique ability and Inferno probably has the best. When you build the requisite amount of points, you can designate a place on the board where a new stack of one of your units will be summoned in a turn or two. This area of the board is impassible to all units much like a rock formations. It can also be destroyed with enemy attacks similar to how you can destroy castle walls. As a final benefit, it occupies the same space as the unit stack does. Placed properly, this will block enemy advances, funnel them into your stronger units, and distract enemies as they attack the portal. Its control, offense and defense all in one, and is by far the best ability that I’ve had so far.

As cool as the Inferno Campaign is there is a downfall. The main character, Kiril, is supremely effeminate and could be labeled with a strong Emo title. His voice is grating, he has a pet name for the demon in his head, and he is completely unphased by the two succubus who are hitting on him the whole time. Its a little strange and off putting, but who plays these games for the characterization, right?

On the last Sunday of September, I played a pair of games with Lord Exhumator Scaverous

He worked alright. That actually surprised me as I was 2-7 with that giant bastard. I’m not sure that list would have worked in a tournament, but it was definitely fun. It also had some glaring weaknesses that I only discovered once I played the list. Lets get into it.

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