Monday, 24 December 2012

Malifaux Online

So if you are into Malifaux I'm sure that you will have noticed that the other day they released a module for Vassal to enable you to play the game over t'internet with a willing sucker partner. 

What is Vassal you ask?  Well in their own words
 Vassal is a game engine for building and playing online adaptations of board games and card games. Play live on the Internet or by email. Vassal runs on all platforms, and is free, open-source software.
Turns out that its been pretty popular in the Warmahordes world for a while and there have been threads asking for a Malifuax module for a good while now - which has finally been released.  So in the name of adventure I sat down last night with Conrad to try it out.

First stage was to try and get a game up and running that we could both see.  This took us a while :) We did eventually work it out - create an offline game, add yourself as a player and then put the game online so the other player can join in - but it did take us half an hour.  Still now we know how to do it we won't have to go through that pain again.

Secondly we had to create our crews.  Due to the excellent videos that Owen Conlan has produced this was not as painful as it could have been.  I highly recomend that you check these out before starting your first game.  You can find them on his blog. We were then able to get into the game proper. 

We played a 15ss Shared Escape and Survive with Conrad taking his favourite Nicodem and I decided to take Rasputina.  We just used 1 scheme, I took Sabotage and Conrad had Stake a Claim.

We managed to play 3 turns before I had to call it a day and I have to say that it was quite a lot of fun - made even better as I won 3-2 :)

So what did I think of it all.  Well first thing to say is that it isn't going to replace the tabletop game as it doesn't come anywhere close to being as fluid to play.  Movement is pretty clunky as you have to turn, then edge forward in increments and then turn and 'inch' forward again.  It would be a lot better if you could select the model you want to move, and then just drag it about, with an auto tape measure telling you how far you have moved.  I'm sure that if I play on it a lot, I will get a lot quicker / better at moving but for the moment it seems to be the biggest bugbear.

I found it really hard to judge distances but that could well have just been me not paying attention as Conrad didn't seem to have a problem with it.

On the other hand the card mechanics are awesomely implemented with some really nice fate deck artwork (can I get a real fate deck like that please) and the way you cheat seems intuative and works well.  Conrad used a Soulstone twice and that worked well - even if he didn't get reanimator off.

The art for the actual models is all puppet art and is up to the usual high puppet art standards - I'd love an option to be able to import my own art / photos in for the crew though.

The module comes with several maps ready built and I imagine for the next couple of months most games will be played on these default maps, though I have noticed a couple turning up of the Wyrd forums.  Again would be nice if you could import your own artwork.  The maps are also strictly 2D so its quite easy to just move your models over the terrain as if it wasn't there.  Make sure you have a good chat with your opponent about what each area counts as.

And speaking of talking to you opponent (you see what I did there) Skype seems to be pretty much a must for at least you and your opponent - I can't imagine playing a game as complex as Malifaux if I had to use a chat window to communicate everything that is going on.

So overall it was a pretty positive experience and one I'll hopefully be doing again.  7 out of 10 from me.

Oh and Conrad and I recorded all our game chat, which I will be editing down and putting into a future episode of Malifools

So have a Happy Christmas and I'll see you again soon.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Family Gaming

The day I met the future Mrs M, I was out drinking with the staff from my local GW store so hiding my gaming hobby was never something that was possible, she knew what she was getting into from day one.   However she made it very clear that whilst she had no problem with me playing with little toys or hanging out with the geeky guys who frequent wargames clubs, she wasn't going to play and she has kept to that, despite a few half hearted efforts on my part to get her involved.

Recently though that has all changed as my children (especially my eldest daughter) have started to become interested in what daddy gets up to - indeed Rebecca has started to play Malifaux and paint her own figures - and we have evolved into having regular family gaming times, not playing miniature games, but playing the new generation of fantasy releated boardgames that are currently in vogue.

It all started with Pirate Fluxx which I had played at the Malifaux doubles GT.  I had thought, this game would go down well with the kids and it did.  The rules are simple enough that everyone can play, but involved enough that its not snap, there is definate strategy involved if you want to play it to that level.  We ended up purchasing several more Fluxx decks (Oz Fluxx is our current favourite) but were also really to move onto something else.

That something else ended up being Zombicide.  I had seen the kickstarter for this but unfortunately it had finished after I became aware of it, so I ended up just purchasing a normal copy (though you can get the stats for the extra promo characters via the website and the iPad app).  What I didn't think when I bought it was that all of us would be interested in playing, but Mrs M was able to translate her love of the Walking Dead show into an enjoyment of Zombicide and now we often sit around the table slaughtering the living dead left and right.  The kids are always pestering me for another game of it as well, so it must be doing something right.

Next we will be trying Super Dungeon Explore - not sure how that is going to go down though :)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Cult of Fanbois

Being a grumpy old curmudgeon, there are many things about the gaming hobby that get on my goat.  Models being called pieces, gamers who don’t believe that a game should be fun for all participants and a lack of personal hygiene at events are just a few.  However nothing annoys me more than the cult of the fanboi.

This all was brought into focus by a conversation that I had with someone the other day about Wyrd and Malifaux.  We were talking about the RPG kickstarter and how underwhelmed we were by it and he said that he was coming to a point where he was able to divorce his love for Malifaux from his love of Wyrd.  Now this resonated with me as it seems that a lot of people can't make that separation.

You only need to go onto the Wyrd forums and you will be able to see this in action.  The smallest criticism of the company and the way it goes about business is quickly met with a chorus of people taking you to task for having the audacity to say something that isn't fawning praise.  You even get the owners of the company doing it, in posts, which to me, come across as a small child saying if you don’t let me win then I’m taking my ball away. 

Before you think that I am having a go at the Wyrd / Malifaux community, this is in no way a phenomenon restricted to them.  GW is renowned for having the most rabid fanbois out there, folks who lap up everything they do and attempt to shout down any and all opposing opinions – of course GW also have the anti fanboi who will just say anything they produce is crap, but that’s another blog post :).  I’m sure Privateer Press suffers from the same thing.

So this is what I don’t get, how these people aren’t able to divorce the love of the game from the company that produces it.  Companies exist to provide their owners and employees with salaries and hopefully at the end of the day a nice big pay-out that enables them to retire.  If they are able to keep the customer base happy that’s great – happy customers means more product sold after all - but they aren’t there to look out for you.  They are not your mate, you wife or your lover, they are a business, just like a bank is!

So the next time that someone criticises your favourite games company think before you respond, do you actually disagree with what that person is saying, or are you just blindly jumping to the defence of an entity that really only likes you so it can sell you more stuff.

Monday, 3 December 2012

I'm Batman

So I appear to have been distracted by some new shinies this week as I've purchased some of the miniatures for the Batman Arkham City miniature game.  These are made by a Spanish company called Knight Miniatures who make an existing series of large scale 70mm busts / figures from a lot of popular movies, including several Marvel superheroes and who used to make the 32mm rage of Star Wars miniatures.  However these are, as far as I know, there first range of 32mm DC figures.

Unlike a lot of miniatures companies Knight actually seem to go get the licenses for what they are producing rather than doing 'inspired by' or 'not so and so' figures and frankly the figures looked so good I have to go get some.

Now there isn't a game / rules released yet, but each model does come with a stat card in the blister, so those are obviously on the way and the rumours suggest that it will be a gang based skirmish game set in the Arkham City world that was portrayed in the recent video game.

As is the normal way of these things I end up stretching my credit card slightly further than I intended and got the Joker Gang together with Harly and Batman from those excellent folks over at Firestorm.

Models, as you would expect at this not so cheap price point, are very well cast with a lot of fine detail and look like they are going to be a joy to paint, which to be honest, is really what I bought them for.  I've been looking for figures that are going to force me to take my painting to that next level and these seemed to fit the bill.  Having such well know imagery and also great studio paintjobs means that I will really have to stretch myself to do them justice.  If I manage that then I'll be sure to post some pictures.