Thursday 31 December 2009

Five Hours of Fun


Tuesday was spent painting figures, though not for me, but for Oliver. Oliver is my friend Trevor's son who I bought Warhammer 40K for his Xmas present, when I took him to the SELWG wargame show.

Trevor used to play D&D when younger, and like a lot of players fell out of gaming with family and work commitments. I'm hoping that he will rediscover his passion for gaming now that his son is starting to get interested.

Anyway, I promised Oliver that I would teach him and his dad how to paint figures.

So, they came over Tuesday and we spent five hours painting on the dining room table listening to film sound tracks. My new Lord of the Rings three volume film soundtrack, followed by a bit of Pirates of the Caribbean to energise us during the last hour.

Result some new space marines painted, and a bunch of orcs started. Much fun was had, and Oliver's parents were amazed that I had kept him siting still painting for five hours.


Thursday 24 December 2009

Xmas Blog 2009


Well, I'm going to wish everybody who has come here to read my humble witterings about Battletech, wargaming and modelling a very Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year. This year I'm expecting several nice things from Santa, and in fact I can see the boxes under the tree as I type this now.

As they say a picture says a thousand words, so here is the Paint-it-Pink Xmas tree.

Saturday 19 December 2009

BattleTech Jumping the Shark Reboot

On the official CBT forum there has been a rather long thread about has BattleTech jumped the shark with 22 pages of repetition?

To summarise, the thread topic discussed  the moment when a series delivers the ultimate desire of the characters; from the "Happy Days" scene where the Fonz always dreams of jumping over a shark and gets to realise his dream. 

If your dream has been realised, then what is there left to do?

I'm not sure I would agree with that interpretation, as for me "jumping the shark" implies more of the idea that a story has gone beyond believability. But YMMV on that, especially with something involving giant walking machines?

There is this idea that the in game ComStar aims, namely the coming of the third transfer, would also mean that BattleTech had jumped the shark. It is suggested that the formation of a new Star League would be that third transfer. 

From a meta-gaming perspective I'd argue that one could see the real transfers of the game coming from changes in the rules, as they have evolved over time.

If you agree, then using this analogy one can argue that real transfer was from the 3025 setting to the Clan invasion of 3050.

I would argue that this fundamentally changed  the game. Even though on the surface the rules are the same, because the game balance changed. Battlemechs became brittle eggs that could be cracked open by superior firepower, rather than something that had to be slowly ground down to be destroyed (barring lucky shots that is).

Then the second transfer was the introduction of Clicky tech, and with it the Age of Darkness. This unfortunately crashed & burned causing a reversion to the "classic form of BattleTech". 

Now we have the third transfer, which is the introduction of new rules for the Word of Blake faction to take into account their use of cybernetics. This basically a rule fix to uplift the Inner Sphere to match the Clans and lead the game into the redefined new Dark Ages of the 3130 Battletech universe.

Rant on: 

As I said on the CBT forum, my only problem with the Jihad is that there was not enough destruction done by the Word of Blake as of yet.

I want to see billions of people starving to death from the repercussions of war. Billions more dying from crops failing due to a lack of fertilizers and pesticides, and I want to billions dying from disease arising from unclean water, and a lack of medicines.

I want to see the remains of humanity reduced to scavenging from the rubble. I want a future where a lance of battlemechs can rule a world, where the pilots are like gods, lording it over the cowered and subdued populations of denuded worlds.

I want to see the Word of Blake/Comstar reap the whirlwind. If we see thousands of nukes raining down on the planets of the Inner Sphere during the Word of Blake retreat, then I could see how peace would break out and mechs mothballed for later on.

Showing that war leads to widespread famine, the rise of pestilence,and outbreaks of plagues. Would be a good message to send to the players that these are consequences of apocalyptic wars. Of course all the players will be moaning about how their favourite faction was robbed etc., but that is life.  

Rant off.

Like it or not, we know that due to the "second transfer" that BattleTech moves to the era Republic of the Sphere. For me this is in and of itself is not a bad place to play games of BattleTech

It is an ideal period for small unit actions of giant battling mecha-on-mecha action, which is where IMNSHO the rules work best. 

As a diehard old time fan, described on the BattleTech forums as a Retarded-Old-RetreadTM, and proud of it too. I welcome the return of BattleTech to its roots of small unit actions, where desperate home defense units field industrial mechs as a futuristic variant of tactical trucks seen today.

However, nothing lasts forever, not even D&D, without a reboot.

Will BattleTech need a reboot? Probably over due for one, but I think that the likelihood of it happening is small.

A Sort of Extended me too Blog


Over on the BBC website is a clip of Fede Alvarez's short film "Ataque de Panico" (Panic Attack), also on Vultures Blog in my side-bar list. I just felt I had to write something about this on my Blog too.

Apart from the Transformer movies that have come out, which feature giant sentient mecha, there's not much out featuring giant piloted battlemechs. We have been poorly served of films about my favourite gaming background. Now obviously Avatar is out, but the focus there is not really on the mecha as such either, though I'm sure it will be fun to watch. 

However, for years the BattleTech community has wanted a movie that did the background justice, and this may just be the movie, but I'm not holding my breath on this one you understand.


Saturday 12 December 2009

Six Shades of Green: Terrain Boards 3

Well, it has taken me some time to get around to posting some more stuff on the terrain boards I'm making. This has been the number one project this year, having displaced pretty much everything else I've been doing into second place, if it gets done at all.

And it's nearly Xmas.

That joyous time of the year where everybody feels down, miserable and tired by all the enforced seasonal jollity. I've done the Xmas party thing last weekend when I had two to go to. 

Parties being a bit like buses. You wait and wait and then three come along at once. 

I ended up blowing off my office party as a consequence. If for no other reason than I still have problems with side-effects from the chemotherapy I'm on making me feel incredibly tired all the time. 

Anyway, had a great time at the two parties I did go to, but obviously no time for model-making and stuff last weekend. This weekend I could take it easy and get on with the terrain boards I wanted to finish off, so that I can start the next batch I have planned.

This is actually the third batch of boards I've done.

I'm limited to the amount of space I can have in my flat, so I can only really make about 8 or 9 boards at once. I've posted a blow-by-blow account of how I painted these boards on the BattleTech Universe Forum, where used to post most of my projects.

Here you can see is some boards that have had multiple shades of green dry-brushed over the top of a base layer of static grass. I've still to finish the rock faces and rock debris that are still a work in progress.  

While taking these pictures, I had a thought about using pictures for playing campaign games.

If one were setting out a table with the boards one could take pictures of the arrangement and email them to the players before they arrive to play the game. Objectives could also be marked, and special effects like clouds added, or vehicles placed somewhere. Then the players are told that this is the result of their recon flight, and that their mission is XYZ.

Obviously, one could spend time blending the edges of the boards in those pictures, so as to hide the joins, and adding clouds would be fun too. I can see that clouds might be used as a way of limiting the intel one gives to the players if they fail their recon flight.

Of course, if one really wanted to, one could give then pictures of a different set of terrain to simulate a total failure by the recon assets to take the right pictures.

The possibilities for fun are endless, and allow for that RPG flavour that campaigns can generate, without going into levels of detail that are not all that relevant to playing a game of BattleTech.