Tag: Games

Game on!

After a bit of an editing hiatus (sorry about that), we are back at it! Over our summer vacation, we had the first opportunity ever to get together as an entire GOON group and play some games, so we played a bunch of board games!

Many games were played – those we discuss on this episode is Deadwood by Fantasy Flight Games, Tokaido from Passport Game Studios, Boss Monster by Brotherwise Games and Battlestar Gallactica from Fantasy Flight Games.

We also discuss what we’ve been playing for video games, as well as preview our next game for the Gamecast, Rogue Legacy.

Also, we’re having a… SHOW NOTES CONTEST! If you’re reading this, you can win! Just email gameongoons@gmail.com with what games and/or TV Shows each of our five break music songs are from/referencing (the last one is a tad tricky). First person to guess correctly gets a free month of PS Plus! (more…)

***WARNING***
This episode contains complete spoilers of the end of South Park: The Stick of Truth

Game On, Oblivious Noobs!

We’ve finished the game and oh what an experience it was! Listen to us break down the final day of South Park: The Stick of Truth in all of its glory. We each also give our reviews of the game and let you know whether you should Buy it, Skip it, or Rent it! And we have a few laughs along the way, as always…

Sorry for the delay! Summer vacations and hectic work schedules affected the time and sanity needed to complete the editing process. But it’s here so enjoy!

No matter what, join us in our discussion of the game in this final part of our three episode arc.
(more…)

***WARNING***
This episode contains complete spoilers of the first half of South Park: The Stick of Truth.

Game On, Oblivious Noobs!

We’re back and deep into our playthrough of South Park: The Stick of Truth! Listen to the gamecast to find out our thoughts on all of the trials and travails in the middle portion of the game. Plus, we discuss what our summons would be if the kids could call on us in battle!

So join us in discussing what happened and our thoughts on where the game is going as we continue to delve almost as deep into the game as our enemies do into Mr. Slave’s ass!
(more…)

Game On, Oblivious Noobs!

We’re off-topic once again as we wanted to finish up our thoughts on E3 and then discuss the Destiny First-Look Alpha that happened right before that!

(more…)

Every now and again, a person has that moment of clarity where they recognize how truly blessed they are. Everything combines to formulate a feeling of euphoria that excites and exhilarates.

The past fortnight (and then some) has been one of those times, especially when it comes to video games. I have played a few games that have re-kindled my excitement for video gaming. On top of that, E3 has gotten me truly excited for a couple of games on the horizon that have me stoked.

So, I felt it best to go through this fortnight of gaming euphoria (including one non-video game item) that made it such a memorable time period!

(more…)

In what ended up being a very interesting Final Round, Justin Burgy earned the title of U.S. Warhammer Master!

Here is a rundown of the match-ups on the Top 5 tables for the Final Round:

Table 1: Matt Cassidy (NE) defeated Josh Hankin (NE) in the mirror match between Daemons of Chaos 15-5. With a nine point difference between the two players, the split score was just enough to open the door to players at the other tables to take with a big score.

Table 2: Ira Knight (MA) and his Warriors of Chaos ended up with a 10-10 draw against Alex Schmid’s (NE) Dark Elves.

Table 3: Justin Burgy (MW) continued to roll through the second half of the tournament, taking a 19-1 victory over Nick Hall (MA) with his Warriors of Chaos.

Table 4: In the battle between two Dark Elves, Corey Reynolds (NE) defeated Matt Beasley (MA) 14-6.

Table 5: It is a battle of the top two Empire Generals in the tournament, Jake Martin (NE) defeated Meil Vermeulan (MW) 13-7. Jake was able to overcome a 350 point buffer to gain victory.

With those results, here are the final standings:

1. Justin Burgy (MW) – High Elves: 78 Points
2. Matt Cassidy (NE) – Daemons of Chaos: 75 Points
3. Josh Hankin (NE) – Daemons of Chaos: 74 Points
4. Corey Reynolds (NE) – Dark Elves: 72 Points
5. Ira Knight (MA) – Warriors of Chaos: 71 Points
6. Jake Martin (NE) – Empire: 71 Points
7. Alex Schmid (NE) – Dark Elves: 69 Points
8. Jarrett Messing (NE) – Bretonnians: 67 Points
9. Larry Mottola (NE) – Vampire Counts: 64 Points
10 (Tie). Ben Mitchell (MA) – High Elves: 63 Points
10 (Tie). Miel Vermeulan (MW) – Empire: 63 Points

The Northeast Region wound up taking best region in the tournament by a fairly significant margin.

1st Place – Northeast with 361 Points
2nd Place – Midwest with 304 Points
3rd Place – Mid-Atlantic with 396 Points
4th Place – West Coast with 311 Points
5th Place – South with 186 Points

Best Painted Awards went as follows:
1st Place – Johnny Hastings (MW) – Ogre Kingdoms
2nd Place – Ryan Smith (SO) – Orcs & Goblins
3rd Place – Peyton Shipman (NE) – Empire
FInalists – Eoin Whelan (MA) – Ogre Kingdoms, Ben Mitchell (MA) – High Elves, and Fred Whitney (WC) – Daemons of Chaos

The Best Sportsmanship Award went to Kevin Bruins, being the top finisher without receiving another award (Tie-Breaker was lowest comp score). Here are the top rankings:
1st Place: Peyton Shipman (NE) – 14 Points
2nd Place: Kevin Bruins (MW) – 13 Points
3rd Place: Mike Gerold (MW) – 13 Points
4th Place: Mark Cox (SO) – 13 Points

Here’s a look at where the guys we’re following for the tournament:

Player: Alex Schmid
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Army Book: Dark Elves
Comp Score: 10.5

Final Place: 7th
Total Points: 69 Points

Final Round Opponent and Result: Alex had a 10-10 draw against Ira Knight (MA) and his Warriors of Chaos.

Player: Mike Gerold
Region: Midwest
Army Book: Warriors of Chaos
Comp Score: 9.8

Final Place: 31st
Total Points: 44 Points

Final Round Opponent and Result: Mike was beaten on Table 10 by Ben Mitchell’s (MA) High Elves 20-0 in the final game.

Player: Kris Kapsner
Region: Midwest
Army Book: Warriors of Chaos
Comp Score: 0.3

Final Place: 30th
Total Points: 46 Points

Final Round Opponent and Result: Kris suffered a 18-2 loss to Travis Weyforth (NE) and his Lizardmen army. The 800 points given up due to comp was just too much to recover from in this match-up.

Player: Kevin Bruins
Region: Midwest
Army Book: High Elves
Comp Score: 6.2

Final Place: 29th
Total Points: 47 Points

Final Round Opponent and Result: Kevin took a 15-5 defeat to Peyton Shipman and his Empire army.

Player: Mark Cox
Region: South
Army Book: Skaven
Comp Score: 12.3

Final Place: 47th
Total Points: 29 Points

Final Round Opponent and Result: Mark took a 20-0 loss to Johnny Hastings (MW) and his Ogre Kingdoms army.

Player: Robert Brandon
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Army Book: High Elves
Comp Score: 14.1

Final Place: 49th
Total Points: 23 Points

Final Round Opponent and Result: Robert suffered a 13-7 loss to Jacob Brandon (MA) and his Daemons of Chaos.

Player: Jason Johnson
Region: South
Army Book: Bretonnians
Comp Score: 17.9 (Highest in the Tourney)

Final Place: 46th Place
Total Points: 29 Points

Round 4 Opponent and Result: Jason finished up with a 10-10 draw against Jeff Daniels’ (SO) Ogre Kingdoms.

Well, that is all there is to write about the Inaugural 2014 U.S. Warhammer Masters Tournament. Congratulations again to Justin Burgy who took away the championship trophy.

I knew I had heard the name previously, but wasn’t able to put a face to it until he accepted the award. At that point, I realized that I had met Justin at Adepticon last year. He is a great guy and this was well deserved on his part. Ironically, on the Friday at Adepticon when I was talking to Justin, that was when the photos were leaked of the new High Elf models that would appear a week later in White Dwarf. A little less than a year later and Justin took the tourney to the Masters and walked away with victory.

You can find a link to the final results on the wargamersusa.com website or by following this link here.

Thanks for reading. If you have any comments, please feel free to share them below or send me a message on Twitter @HobbyBoxBurns. We’ll see you on the next Warhammer Wednesday!

The final round of the U.S. Warhammer Fantasy Masters is about to begin.

Here is a quick review of what happened on the Top 5 Tables in Round 4:

Table 1: Thanks to a brutal couple of turns of magic, Josh Hankin (NE) ended up beating Rhys McDonald’s (NE) Skaven 20-0. A round after one spell caused most of Rhys core Clan Rats and Slaves to flee off the table, a Final Transmutation into the Screaming Bell unit finished off Rhys.

Table 2: Matt Cassidy’s (NE) Daemons of Chaos took a 13-7 victory from Matt Beasley (MA) with Dark Elves.

Table 3: Jake Martin (NE) and his Empire and Corey Reynolds (NE) with his Dark Elves ended up playing to a 10-10 draw, even taking into account the  170 points Corey had over Jake with the comp difference.

Table 4: Alex Schmid (NE) and his Dark Elves overcame the 260 point comp differential to topple Jarret Messing’s (NE) Bretonnians 13-7.

Table 5: Larry Mottola’s (NE) and Vampire Counts could not overcome the 610 point comp difference with Ivan Jen (WC) and his Dwarfs, losing by an 11-9 score.

With those results, including a 20-0 win by Justin Burgy’s (MW) High Elves, here is a rundown of the match-ups on the Top 5 tables for the Final Round:

Table 1: Josh Hankin (NE, 69 Points) will defend the top spot in the Final Round against Matt Cassidy (NE, 60 Points) in a battle between the two Daemons of Chaos players. Matt has a small comp advantage at, 9.3 to 8.6, meaning he will have a slight, 70 point advantage going into the game.

Table 2: Ira Knight (MA, 61 Points) and his Warriors of Chaos take on Alex Schmid’s (NE, 59 Points) Dark Elves. Ira has a slight lead on comp which will give him a 90 point buffer to start the game.

Table 3: Justin Burgy (MW, 59 Points) comes off a huge 20-0 victory with his High Elves to take on Nick Hall (MA, 58 Points) with his Warriors of Chaos, who also had a 20-0 victory in the previous round. Nick has a 14.9 to 11.4 comp advantage, meaning Justin will need to make up 350 points over the game to get a victory.

Table 4: In the battle between two Dark Elves, Corey Reynolds (NE, 58 Points) battles against Matt Beasley (MA, 55 Points). Matt has a slight comp advantage, earning him an 80 point buffer going into the game.

Table 5: It is a battle of the top two Empire Generals in the tournament, as Jake Martin (NE, 58 Points) takes on Meil Vermeulan (MW, 56 Points) and his Mortar of Doom. Meil will have an 11.5 to 8 comp advantage, meaning Jake will need to overcome a 350 point buffer to gain victory.

With so many Northeast players fighting against each other, the gap in the regional rankings has closed a bit. Here is how they sit going into the last round:

1st Place – Northeast with 304 points
2nd Place – Mid-Atlantic with 259 points
3rd Place – Midwest with 245 points
4th Place – West Coast with 232 points
5th Place – South with 154 points

Here’s a look at where the guys we’re following are at going into Round 5:

Player: Alex Schmid
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Army Book: Dark Elves
Comp Score: 10.5

Round 3 Opponent and Result: Alex took away a 13-7 point victory against Jarrett Messing (NE) and his Bretonnians.

Total Points: 59

Final Round Opponent: Ira Knight’s (MA) Warriors of Chaos.  Ira’s list includes a Slaaneshi Daemon Prince, kitted out fully, along with two Exalted Heroes and a Level 2 Sorcerer on Death. He is using three 10 man units of Marauders, 12 Forsaken and 6 horsement, including two Shaggoths, a Gorebeast and 6 Hellstriders.

Comp Difference: Ira has a slight lead on comp which will give him a 90 point buffer to start the game.

Keys to Final Round: With his quick hitting army, Alex should still be able to hit fast with all of his fast cav options. Always striking first will be key for his units, as there are some high-strength options for Ira. The Level 4 on Beasts should be able to help combat that.

Player: Mike Gerold
Region: Midwest
Army Book: Warriors of Chaos
Comp Score: 9.8

Round 4 Opponent and Result: Mike scored a 20-0 victory overJulien Lesage (SO) and his Vampire Counts to vault up the tables.

Total Points: 44

Final Round Opponent: On Table 10 against Ben Mitchell (MA) with High Elves. Ben is fielding one Great Eagle, two White Lion Chariots, three Repeater Bolt Throwers, a unit of seven Sisters of Avelorn, two units of six Reavers, one unit of six Dragon Princes, a block of 28 Seaguard and a unit of 21 Phoenix Guard. The Level 4 Archmage on Shadow could be key in pumping up the combat units.

Comp Difference: Ben’s comp score of 11.5 will mean he has a 330 point advantage against Mikey G.

Keys to Final Round: Mikey will want to uses his armies speed to maneuver his units into the correct positions. In combat against the Toughness 3 Elves, he should be able to take them down with the army’s high strength. His magic should also help him to be aggressive as well.

Player: Kris Kapsner
Region: Midwest
Army Book: Warriors of Chaos
Comp Score: 0.3

Round 4 Opponent and Result: Kris pulled out a huge 20-0 win over Fred Whitney (WC) and his Daemons of Chaos

Total Points: 44

Final Round Opponent: Travis Weyforth’s (NE) Lizardmen. Travis has a large amount of skinks in this army – two units of 30 and four units of 10 (two with blowpipes). Throw in 23 Temple Guard, and it might be difficult to deal with all of the infantry units on the board. Plus, don’t forget the Slann BSB with Heavens and Skink Priest on Heavens, which will add to the combat ability of the Lizards. The Solar Engine on the Bastilidon could also cause some worries in close combat.

Comp Difference: As always, Kris is giving up the maximum 800 points at the start of the game against Travis’ 15.6 soft comp score.

Keys to Final Round: As long as Kris plays aggressive to his lists abilities, he should probably be able to score a good victory over Travis. For Travis to compete, he will need to get some key spells off with his Slann early to affect Kris (a Comet of Cassendora perhaps). I do not think the Skinks will be able to compete at all with the high strength of Kris’ army, but they could be useful speed bumps to keep the game somewhat in line. Avoidance will most likely be the strategy for Travis.

Player: Kevin Bruins
Region: Midwest
Army Book: High Elves
Comp Score: 6.2

Round 4 Opponent and Result: Kevin scored a big 16-4 victory over Mark Cox (SO) with Skaven.

Total Points: 42

Final Round Opponent: Peyton Shipman (NE) with Empire. Peyton has an interesting Empire list, focusing on lots of cavalry. He has a unit of nine Inner Circle Knights, two units of five Knights, a unit of five Demigryph Knights along with the war machine combo du jour of the Great Cannon, Helblaster and Steam Tank with a Master Engineer.
The centerpiece of the army is his General on a Griffon. Otherwise, the rest of his characters – a Captain BSB, Level 4 Light Wizard, Level 1 Light Wizard, and Warrior Priest are all mounted and will most likely join the Inner Circle Knight bus. An interesting addition is the Witch Hunter, which will have to go in the unit of 10 Archers.

Comp Difference: With an 8.2 comp score, Peyton will receive a 200 point advantage against Kevin.

Keys to the Final Round: The high speed of Peyton’s cavalry should be able to keep up somewhat to Kevin’s flying units. Kevin will most likely need to focus all of his attention of his RBTs on the Steam Tank to take it down before it causes much damage. High Magic could also come into play with that as well.

Player: Mark Cox
Region: South
Army Book: Skaven
Comp Score: 12.3

Round 4 Opponent and Result: Big 16-4 loss against Kevin Bruins (MW) with High Elves.

Total Points: 29

Final Round Opponent: Dan Lindley (SO) with Warriors of Chaos. Dan is using an MSU approach, puling out two Khorne Chariots, two units of five Wolfhouns, two units of Hellstriders and a unit of six Knights. The big strength will come from the four Skullcrushers and the Shaggoth.

Comp Difference: With Dan’s comp score of 11.2, Mark will have a slight 90 point advantage.

Keys to Final Round: Skaven can hold up some of the strength in this army a bit, but I think it will be difficult for Mark to hold on in this one. The Abomination will be needed along with his magic to be able to succeed.

Player: Robert Brandon
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Army Book: High Elves
Comp Score: 14.1

Round 4 Opponent and Result: Robert suffered a bit 20-0 loss against Mike McTyre’s (WC) High Elves.

Total Points: 16

Final Round Opponent: Jacob Brandon (MA) with his Daemons of Chaos.

Comp Difference: With Jacob’s hard 8.3 comp score, Robert will receive a large 580 point boost in the match-up.

Keys to Final Round: Jason will need to find ways to team up against the different units at Jacob’s disposal.

Player: Jason Johnson
Region: South
Army Book: Bretonnians
Comp Score: 17.9 (Highest in the Tourney)

Round 4 Opponent and Result: Jason scored a 13-7 victory over Ryan Smith (SO) and his Orcs & Goblins.

Total Points: 19

Final Round Opponent: Jeff Daniels (SO) and his Ogre Kingdoms army.

Comp Difference: With Jeff’s 10.5 comp score, Jason has a 740 point lead going into the game.

Keys to Final Round: The four Mournfang Cavalry and other large strength Ogres that Jeff has will make it quite difficult for Jason to take them down. Charging with two units at once and flanking will probably be the key to keeping it close in this one.

That is where the tournament stands going into the Final Round. Once again, Table 1 is being broadcast on Twitch  at the Atomic Empire Twitch feed so tune in to catch the last game at Table 1 to crown the first U.S. Master.

The awards ceremony is scheduled for 4:30 Eastern Time. I’m hoping we will be able to get the results shortly after that and I will throw up a final review on here this evening.

The final day of the U.S. Warhammer Fantasy Masters is about to begin. Round 3 saw even more sorting around the top of the standings, with some big results scrunching the players at the top together. In fact, the top 10 players are only separated by six battle points. It still is anyone’s title to win.

Here is a quick review of what happened on the Top 5 Tables in Round 3:

Table 1: Rhys McDonald (NE) with Skaven handed Jake Martin (NE) with Empire his first loss, beating him 12-8. The loss was also Jake’s first non 20-0 result of the tournament.
Table 2: Josh Hankin (NE) with Daemons of Chaos defeated Ira Knight’s (MA) Warriors of Chaos army 13-7.
Table 3: Alex Schmid (NE) and his Dark Elves scored an 11-9 small victory over  the Lizardmen of Travis Weyforth (NE).
Table 4: Matt Beasley (MA) with Dark Elves beat Johnny Hastings’ (MW) Ogre Kingdoms by a score of 16-4.
Table 5: The Dark Elves of Corey Reynolds (NE) handed Eric Weidus (MW) and his Warriors of Chaos a solid 20-0 defeat.

Tables 6-9 also saw 20-0 victories in their games, which helped to vault the victors – Matt Cassidy (NE) with Daemons of Chaos, Jarret Messing (NE) with Bretonnians, Larry Mottola (NE) with Vampire Counts, and Ivan Jen (WC) with Dwarfs – up into the Top 10 while sending the defeated down into the middle of the pack.

After all was sorted, nine of the top 12 players in Day 1 were from the Northeast, with two players from the Mid-Atlantic and one from the West Coast filling out those numbers.

Regional Standings go as follows:
First Place – Northeast with 242 points
Second Place – Mid-Atlantic with 202 points
Third Place – West Coast with 176 points
Fourth Place – Midwest with 168 points
Fifth Place – South with 128 points

Here is a look at the Top Five Tables for Round 4:

Table 1: Rhys McDonald (NE, 50 points) and his Skaven look to defend the top spot  against Josh Hankin (NE, 49 points) and his Daemons of Chaos. Rhys will have a 90 point advantage against the 8.6 comp score of Josh.

Table 2: Matt Beasley (MA, 48 points) with Dark Elves takes on Matt Cassidy (NE, 47 points) and his Daemons of Chaos army.  Beasley will have a 120 point comp advantage in this battle.

Table 3: Jake Martin (NE, 48 points) and his Empire will play against Corey Reynolds’ (NE, 48 points) Dark Elves. With a 9.7 to 8 comp advantage, Corey will have 170 points on Jake when the final result is determined.

Table 4: Jarret Messing (NE, 47 points) with Bretonnians takes on Alex Schmid (NE, 46 points) and his Dark Elves. Jarret’s Brets have a 12.3 to 9.7 comp advantage, which means Alex will have to make up 260 points in this match-up. The Dark Elf, cavalry heavy list will be interesting matched up against the Brets.

Table 5: Larry Mottola (NE, 45 points) and Vampire Counts goes up against Ivan Jen (WC, 44 points) with his Dwarfs. Ivan has the second highest comp score in the tournament, which gives him a 17.2 to 11.1 comp advantage. That means that Larry will need to make up 610 points on the Dwarfs. Can the Vamps survive the artillery to smash the Dwarves for a victory?

Here’s a look at where the guys we’re following are at going into Day 2:

Player: Kevin Bruins
Region: Midwest
Army Book: High Elves
Comp Score: 6.2

Round 3 Opponent and Result: Kevin scored a 14-6 victory over Josh Fricke’s (WC) Dark Elves.

Total Points: 26

Round 3 Opponent: Mark Cox (SO) with Skaven.

Player: Mark Cox
Region: South
Army Book: Skaven
Comp Score: 12.3

Round 3 Opponent and Result: Mark went down 20-0 against Jarret Messing’s (NE) Bretonnians

Total Points: 25

Round 3 Opponent: Kevin Bruins (MW) with HIgh Elves.

Comp Difference: Mark’s 12.3 comp score gives him a 610 point advantage against Kevin.

Keys to Round 4: With this being two quite opposite armies facing off, and it being such a comp difference, this will be a very tricky match-up for both players. It isn’t typical, but the Skaven will be at a gross disadvantage when it comes to war machines on the table. These can be key against the low armor blocks as well as some of the bigger items in Mark’s army (Abom, Doomwheel). With all of Kevin’s flying units, he will be able to maneuver around at will against Mark, which should give him a decent advantage.

Player: Robert Brandon
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Army Book: High Elves
Comp Score: 14.1

Round 3 Opponent and Result: Robert ended up losing 20-0 against Michael Hengl (WC) and his Warriors of Chaos.

Total Points: 16

Round 4 Opponent: Mike McTyre (WC) with High Elves. Mike is taking the MSU approach, with four units of 10 Archers, two each of Lion Chariots, Great Eagles, and Repeater Bolt Throwers and a unit of eight SIlver Helms. He has two blocks of 18 White Lions.

Comp Difference: With Mike’s 11.1 comp score, that means Robert has a 300 point advantage in the High Elf Off.

Keys to Round 4: Unfortunately for Robert, nothing in his army will be able to handle the two units of White Lions. He will need to get his phoenixes and Skycutters into them to chop them down in order to take them out. Mike also has the advantage in shooting, with 40 Archers on the table and a Noble with the Reaver Bow.

Player: Jason Johnson
Region: South
Army Book: Bretonnians
Comp Score: 17.9 (Highest in the Tourney)

Round 3 Opponent and Result: Jason received a 20-0 loss to Peyton Shipman (NE) and his Empire.

Total Points: 6

Round 4 Opponent: Chuck Gavias (SO) with Warriors of Chaos.

Comp Difference: Chuck’s comp score of 12 still gives Jason a 590 point advantage in the match-up.

Keys to Round 4: This is another difficult match-up for Jason. Without Trebuchets, he doesn’t have anything to the four Skullcrushers or 18 Warriors, except for his Heroic Killing Blow character.

Player: Alex Schmid
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Army Book: Dark Elves
Comp Score: 10.5

Round 3 Opponent and Result: Alex earned an slight 11-9 victory over Travis Weymouth (NE) and his Lizardmen.

Total Points: 46

Round 4 Opponent: Jarrett Messing (NE) with Bretonnians.

Comp Difference: Travis’ comp score of 15.6 gives him a 590 point advantage over Alex.

Keys to Round 4:  Alex should have the advantage, using his cav heavy list to pound into the Brets quickly. But, Jarrett has shown to be quite good with his list, so it will be interesting to see what result comes from the Table 4 match.

Player: Mike Gerold
Region: Midwest
Army Book: Warriors of Chaos
Comp Score: 9.8

Round 3 Opponent and Result: Mike suffered a 17-3 loss to Josh Stuart (WC) and his Dark Elves.

Total Points: 24

Round 4 Opponent: Julien Lesage (SO) with Vampire Counts.

Comp Difference: Julien’s 8.5 comp score means Mike receives a 130 point advantage.

Keys to Round 4: As is the focus against any Vampire army, attempting to take out the block with the Vampire will be the point of the game. The trick will be getting around the blocks of Skeletons and Zombies.

Player: Kris Kapsner
Region: Midwest
Army Book: Warriors of Chaos
Comp Score: 0.3

Round 3 Opponent and Result: Kris ended up taking a 20-0 loss to Ivan Jen and his Dwarfs, probably thanks in part to the 800 point maximum comp concession.

Total Points: 24

Round 4 Opponent: Fred Whitney (WC) and his Daemons of Chaos.

Comp Difference: With Fred’s comp score of 16.7, he will also receive the 800 point maximum advantage against Kris.

Keys to Round 4: Kris should have the upper hand in this match-up, but the comp difference will make it difficult to get the big win that he needs.

Well, that is where we are at the start of Day 2. Once again, Table 1 is being broadcast on Twitch today at the Atomic Empire Twitch feed. We will have another update leading into the final round right around 12:00 Central today.

With Round 2 of the Masters in the books, the crowd is starting to separate a bit. Remember, now that Round 2 is done, players can play against other players from the same region, which could make for some big match-ups to round out the first day.

With some close games at the top tables, only one person has the maximum amount of 40 battle points, Jake Martin (NE) with Empire. He will face Rhys McDonald (NE) and his Skaven, who is at a total of 38 points.

Here is who is playing on the rest of the top five tables:

Table 2: Ira Knight (MA) with Warriors of Chaos on 35 points against Josh Hankin (NE) with Daemons of Chaos on 36 points.
Table 3: Alex Schmid (NE) with Dark Elves on 35 points against Travis Weyforth (NE) with Lizardmen on 34 points.
Table 4: Johnny Hastings (MW) on 31 points with Ogre Kingdoms versus Matt Beasley (MA) on 32 points with Dark Elves.
Table 5: Corey Reynolds (NE) with Dark Elves on 28 points against Eric Weidus (MW) on 29 points with Warriors of Chaos.

Here is where those we are following are at after Round 2:

Player: Kevin Bruins
Region: Midwest
Army Book: High Elves
Comp Score: 6.2

Round 2 Opponent and Result: Kevin suffered a 20-0 defeat to Matt Beasley with Dark Elves.

Total Points: 12

Round 3 Opponent: Josh Fricke (WC) with Dark Elves. Josh’s Dark Elves contain two big combat blocks – 30 Corsairs and 40 Dreadspears, along with three units of 5 Fast Cav Dark Riders, a unit of five Knights and 10 Darkshards (Crossbowmen). Two units of 5 Harpies will add more chaff to the list and they are covered by 6 Warlocks and four Repeater Bolt Throwers.  Josh’s list is rounded out with a Master BSB on foot and two Sorceresses of Shadow, one Level 3 and one Level 2.

Comp Difference: Josh’s comp score of 9.4 means he has a buffer of 320 points against Kevin.

Keys to Round 3: Kevin’s match-ups just aren’t getting any better, as the new Dark Elves are a bit difficult to handle for High Elves. However, with his flying units available, he should be able to influence the game a bit more. One important bit will be finding good ways to whittle down the two big blocks that Josh has along with finding ways to get rid of the bolt throwers.

Player: Robert Brandon
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Army Book: High Elves
Comp Score: 14.1

Round 2 Opponent and Result: Robert ended up with a 10-10 draw against Jeremy Campbell and his Ogre Kingdoms army.

Total Points: 16

Round 3 Opponent: Michael Hengl (WC) with Warriors of Chaos. Mike has a fully loaded Lord of Tzeentch and Tzeentch Exalted forging the way for his army. His main combat blocks consist of 14 Nurgle Warriors and 12 Tzeentch Chosen with a War Shrine.
Add in two Slaaneshi Chariots, two units of five Slaaneshi Marauder Horsemen and two units of Chaos Warhounds adds in a solid amount of chaff. Two Level Two Sorcerers – one Nurgle, one Tzeentch – rounds out the list.

Comp Difference: With Michael’s comp score of 13.4, Robert will have a 70 points advantage.

Keys to Round 3: Robert will struggle in combat against Michael’s list. He will need to chaff up the warriors and chosen before he commits to taken them down, as his lack of toughness with his chariots and Silver Helms will hurt him in those combats. Michael has a lot of chaff to get around himself and will be able to move around the table. It will be tough for Robert’s chariots to compete with those Michael is fielding.

Player: Jason Johnson
Region: South
Army Book: Bretonnians
Comp Score: 17.9 (Highest in the Tourney)

Round 2 Opponent and Result: Jason received a 20-0 tabling by Don Gilliland’s Orcs and Goblins army.

Total Points: 6

Round 3 Opponent: Peyton Shipman (NE) with Empire. Peyton has an interesting Empire list, focusing on lots of cavalry. He has a unit of nine Inner Circle Knights, two units of five Knights, a unit of five Demigryph Knights along with the war machine combo du jour of the Great Cannon, Helblaster and Steam Tank with a Master Engineer.
The centerpiece of the army is his General on a Griffon. Otherwise, the rest of his characters – a Captain BSB, Level 4 Light Wizard, Level 1 Light Wizard, and Warrior Priest are all mounted and will most likely join the Inner Circle Knight bus. An interesting addition is the Witch Hunter, which will have to go in the unit of 10 Archers.

Comp Difference: With Peyton’s comp score of 8.2, that gives Jason the full 800 point advantage in this match-up.

Keys to Round 3: Jason will need to get his Heroic Killing Blow champion into the Griffon, Steam Tank or Demigryphs at all costs, he has nothing else that can take them out. The only other way to take out the Demis is if he can get multiple charges off in one turn, but he will need his characters to do the majority of the damage. If he decides to play points denial, he will need to keep his knights circling the table. He must get charges on the Empire’s Knights or he could easily lose those combats.

Player: Mark Cox
Region: South
Army Book: Skaven
Comp Score: 12.3

Round 2 Opponent and Result: Mark managed a 15-5 victory over Todd Wiatt with Warriors of Chaos

Total Points: 25

Round 3 Opponent: Jarret Messing (NE) with Bretonnians. Jarret is using a spam of four Paladin’s, two on horse and two on Pegasus.  He also has a Level 4 Lady on Lore of Heavens and a Level 1 Damsel on Beasts. Otherwise, he has three units of Knights of the Realm (one with nine Knights, the other two with six), six Grail Knights, five Pegasus Knights and two Trebuchets.

Comp Difference: Both armies have a 12.3 comp score, meaning this is a straight-up game between the two players.

Keys to Round 3: The key for Mark will be getting his huge, expendable combat troops in the way of the massive knight units. Unfortunately for Mark, the Pegasus Knights will be able to fly where ever and dictate how they control the game. With this army, again, he needs to find a way to get the Doomwheel and Abomination into as good of a situation as possible and use the Pague Monks to tear face on some of the weaker Knight units.

Player: Alex Schmid
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Army Book: Dark Elves
Comp Score: 10.5

Round 2 Opponent and Result: Alex earned an 18-2 victory over Justin Balusik’s Bretonnians.

Total Points: 35

Round 3 Opponent: Travis Weyforth (NE) with Lizardmen. Travis has a large amount of skinks in this army – two units of 30 and four units of 10 (two with blowpipes). Throw in 23 Temple Guard, and it might be difficult to deal with all of the infantry units on the board. Plus, don’t forget the Slann BSB with Heavens and Skink Priest on Heavens, which will add to the combat ability of the Lizards. The Solar Engine on the Bastilidon could also cause some worries in close combat.

Comp Difference: Travis’ comp score of 15.6 gives him a 590 point advantage over Alex.

Keys to Round 3: Alex is the “Master” of moving his Masters around the table and getting them into combat, fast. Whereas Robert had issues breaking the Skinks in combat, I think Alex will be able to tear through them pretty easily. The Cavalry should be able to do some big damage against the Lizards, but the Magic could come up huge for Travis.

Player: Mike Gerold
Region: Midwest
Army Book: Warriors of Chaos
Comp Score: 9.8

Round 2 Opponent and Result: Mike earned a 18-2 victory over Dan Lindley’s Warriors of Chaos.

Total Points: 21

Round 3 Opponent: Josh Stuart (WC) with his Dark Elves, who dropped from Table 1 to Table 12. Josh has a pretty combat heavy army, focusing on a unit of 30 Executioners with the Razor standard and 23 Witch Elves. A unit of eight Shades will be able to move around his lines, where small units of Corsairs, Darkshards, Warlocks, Harpies and Dark Riders will be able to chaff around the table and set up re-directors.

Comp Difference: With Josh’s 9.1 comp score, Mike is giving up 70 points to Josh.

Keys to Round 3: The Executioners may be a bit difficult for Mike to deal with, he will need to take out some of those numbers with magic before he commits his Chariots, expecially with DE’s always striking first.

Player: Kris Kapsner
Region: Midwest
Army Book: Warriors of Chaos
Comp Score: 0.3

Round 2 Opponent and Result: Kris earned a 18-2 victory against Brian Brown’s Warriors of Chaos.

Total Points: 24

Round 3 Opponent: Ivan Jen (WC) and his Dwarfs. Four bolt throwers, 35 Quarrelers and an Organ Gun supported by two Master Engineers will dominate the shooting phase for the Dwarfs. A Runesmith with the Anvil of Doom will lead the 13 Hammerers, six Miners and 23 Warriors.

Comp Difference: With Ivan’s 17.2 comp score, Kris is giving the maximum of 800 points up in this matchup.

Keys to Round 3: Kris’ top priority will be keeping his Daemon Prince protected while flying across the table to smash the Dwarfs as fast as possible.

Round 3 began at approximately 3:45 Central. Remember, follow Table 1 all weekend on the Twitch feed for Atomic Empire. A bit later tonight, we will have a recap of Round 3 and the first day of competition, preparing for the final two games tomorrow. We will probably also have a couple of other players to focus on that are sitting in a solid position going into day two.

You can follow the pairings and results here.

Round 1 of the Masters is in the books. All in all, there were quite a few close matches. Five people ended up winning by 20-0: Jake Martin (NE) with Empire, Josh Stuart (WC) with Dark Elves, Larry Mottola (NE) with Vampire Counts, Ira Knight (MA) with Warriors of Chaos and Fred Whitney (WC) with Daemons of Chaos).

Apparently, Alex Davy ended up not being able to make it and was replaced by Grant Fetter in the last week (and I just didn’t put two-and-two together).

Here is where those we are following are at after Round 1.

Player: Kevin Bruins
Region: Midwest
Army Book: High Elves
Comp Score: 6.2

Round 1 Opponent and Result: Kevin had a close win against Brian Brown’s Warriors of Chaos 12-8. The victory places him in roughly 20th on battle points.

Round 2 Opponent: Matt Beasley from the Mid-Atlantic with Dark Elves. Beasley won game one 12-8 against Jeremy Campbell (WC) and his Ogres.
Matt’s Dark Elves consist of a Dreadlord kitted up on a Black Dragon, with a Master on a Pegasus and a Master on a Dark Steed. He has three units of five Dark Riders, three Repeater Bolt Throwers, six Knights, 12 Warlocks, 11 Witch Elves and five Shades.

Comp Difference: Kevin’s 6.2 against Matt’s 10.5 means that Kevin is giving up 430 points to Matt. This will make it difficult for a huge victory for Kevin, but if things go right, he could still pull out a relatively close win.

Keys to Round 2: Interestingly, these two are running quite similar lists. Matt will have a bit of advantage with ground troops, but with Kevin’s fast flying, cavalry and chariot options, he should still be able to dictate what goes in where. A main focus in the Magic Phase will probably be trying to get the big magic missle off on the Dragon or Pegasus rider. The fact that both of these armies have hatred for each other should lead to some bloody battles.

Player: Robert Brandon
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Army Book: High Elves
Comp Score: 14.1

Round 1 Opponent and Result: Robert Brandon ended up losing to Travis Weyforth’s Lizardmen 14-6. From watching this game on the live stream, Robert looked to have an advantage early, but Travis was able to get enough wounds from shooting to deter enough of Robert’s attack force so that in the war of attrition, his units held off the attacks of the Elves.

Round 2 Opponent: Jeremy Campbell (WC) and his Ogre Kingdoms army. Jeremy had a close 12-8 loss to Matt Beasley’s Dark Elves (described above).
Jeremy is running an MSU approach, with two single Sabertusks,  an Ironblaster, two units of two Mournfang Cavalry, two units of three Yhetees, three units of three Ogres, four Leadbelchers, a block of six Ironguts (which will be the gut star to hold his characters most likely). Magic-wise, he has two Level 2 Firebellies (one with the Hellheart), a Bruiser BSB and a Tyrant General.

Comp Difference: Jeremy comes into the game with a 10 for comp score, meaning that Robert will have 410 point advantage starting the game.

Keys to Round 2: Robert will not be able to do much in close combat. He will most likely want to attempt to get his Skycutter Chariots in a good area to be able to shoot at the multiple-wound Ogres to attempt to peel off as many models as possible. His small units of Silver Helms will only end up being speed bumps for the Ogres, so he will have to attempt to get a couple of units into the chaff in order to take as many points as possible. But, even with the extra points, it looks to be an uphill battle for him against the Ogres.

Player: Jason Johnson
Region: South
Army Book: Bretonnians
Comp Score: 17.9 (Highest in the Tourney)

Round 1 Opponent and Result: Jason ended up taking a 14-6 loss against Ivan Jen and his Dwarfs.

Round 2 Opponent: Don Gilliland (WC) and his Orcs & Goblins. Don’s army has a ton of models. He has three blocks of  Goblins (one 45 and two at 22), a unit of 32 Night Goblins, two units of a 50 strong Squig herd and a unit of 46 Squig Hoppers. Throw in two Rock Lobbers, two Pumpwagons, and one solitary troll and this could cause some issues.
For characters he has two Orc Shamans and a Black Orc Big Boss and Night Goblin Big Boss.

Comp Difference: Don’s 17 comp score means that having the highest comp score in the tournament only nets Jason a 90 point advantage in Round 2, which isn’t what he was hoping for.

Keys to Round 2: This match-up again can cause some problems for Jason. He is definitely out shot in this one, which means he will have to move his knights into combat as fast as humanly possible. Deployment will end up being key as he will need to set up the proper matchups. Without flying units or anything to seek out the warmachines and other goodies, it looks to be a rough match-up for Jason.

Player: Mark Cox
Region: South
Army Book: Skaven
Comp Score: 12.3

Round 1 Opponent and Result: Mark ended up taking a 10-10 draw against Michael Hengl’s Warriors of Chaos

Round 2 Opponent: Todd Wiatt (MA) with Warriors of Chaos. Todd’s is fielding a Slaanesh army, with a Daemon Prince front and center, supported by two Exalted Heroes, one Tzeentch and one Slaanesh. The rest of the army has an MSU approach, with three units of 10 Marauders, two Shaggoths with Great Weapons, two Slaanesh Chariots, and a unit each of 10 Hellstriders and 10 Horsemen.

Comp Difference: Mark has a 130 point advantage, with a 12.3 to 11 comp score with Todd.

Keys to Round 2: As last time, Mark could struggle against the high strength of the chaos army. The good thing is he has steadfast over many of the units. Again, the Doomwheel and Abomination could be key to a victory in this one. I think Mark could have the advantage in this match-up.

Player: Alex Schmid
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Army Book: Dark Elves
Comp Score: 10.5

Round 1 Opponent and Result: Alex ended up getting a bit win against Mikey G’s Warriors of Chaos 17-3.

Round 2 Opponent: Justin Balusik with Bretonnians, coming off of an 18-2 victory against Ben Mitchell and his High Elves.

Comp Difference: Justin’s 11.3 means he will have an 80 point advantage against Alex.

Keys to Round 2: The first focus will be having the Repeater Bolt Throwers take out Justin’s two Trebs. Alex could possibly use the two units of 5 Harpies to tie up the Pegasus Knights and Characters. All-in-all, I feel this is a favorable matchup, with four RBTs able to take out a good amount of models if they hit well. Plus, the extra mounted characters could be used to his advantage as well.

Player: Mike Gerold
Region: Midwest
Army Book: Warriors of Chaos
Comp Score: 9.8

Round 1 Opponent and Result: As mentioned before, Mike took a 17-3 loss against Alex Scmid’s Dark Elves.

Round 2 Opponent: Dan Lindley’s (SO) Warriors of Chaos, who lost 15-5 against Justin Burgy’s High Elves. Dan’s army is nearly a mirror image of Mike’s. Both have a Tzeentch Lord on a disc, with Exalted Hero BSBs, the same amount of warhounds and Skullcrushers and a Shaggoth. Both have two chariots, though Dan’s are Khorne. Dan has an extra unit of Hellstriders and a unit of six Knights instead of the War Shrine.

Comp Difference: Dan’s 11.2 score means that Mike will start at a 140 point disadvantage per the comp.

Keys to Round 2: As in any mirror match, it will really come down to who is able to come up with the best strategy. Limiting mistakes and executing the game plan becomes key in this one.

Player: Kris Kapsner
Region: Midwest
Army Book: Warriors of Chaos
Comp Score: 0.3

Round 1 Opponent and Result: Kris lost to Chin Pann 14-6 in game one. That means, the game was more of a draw until comp figured into the scoring.

Round 2 Opponent: Brian Brown (WC) and his Warriors of Chaos. His army features a Slaaneshi Daemon Prince with a Nurgle Exalted Hero and 18 Nurgle warriors, buffeted by six trolls and nine Dragon Ogres. He does have some speed with two Slaaneshi Chariots and a Nurgle Gorebeast Chariot as well.

Comp Difference: Brian comes in with a 6.6 comp score, meaning Kris will need to overcome a 630 point difference in order to pull a draw.

Keys to Round 2: With the comp differential being as high as it is, Kris will need to be as aggressive as possible to get the game to a win. I think the Nurgle Daemon Prince takes out the Slaaneshi Daemon Prince in a head to head matchup. Kris will want to get his chariots into as much of the Ogres and Trolls as possible to clean them out.

Round 2 is well underway now. Remember, follow Table 1 all weekend on the Twitch feed for Atomic Empire. Otherwise, we’ll check back with you at the beginning of Round 3, at approximately 4:30 Central.

You can follow the pairings and results here.

Welcome back to Warhammer Wednesday! Last week, we discussed the new monthly magazine from Games Workshop entitled Warhammer: Visions. If you remember, it only received a 2-out-of-7 rating, mostly because it didn’t seem to accomplish what it set out to do for various reasons.

This week, we look at the newly streamlined and redesigned White Dwarf, which has replaced the previous monthly version. Is it better than the new monthly mag? Has it improved on what the former White Dwarf did, or is it lacking in its ability to deliver the content readers need?

White Dwarf Weekly

White Dwarf Issue #1

With the first three issues of Weekly White Dwarf in the hands of hobbyists everywhere, it is apparent that Games Workshop’s main goal with the redesign is to focus on the new releases, how they change the game, and how to include that into your gameplay.

And for the most part, the White Dwarf editorial team succeeds brilliantly in producing interesting content in a nice, short burst of information.

Similar to the previous edition of White Dwarf, each issue of the weekly magazine focuses on the new releases for the week, with two pages devoted to each new unit/character model being put out in a given week.

One benefit of the new format is that they have added a couple more photos showcasing the details in the design on the models. White Dwarf used to do this, but a few more images helps to show even more of the painstaking detail being put into the models by the GW designers.

Dwarf Gyrobomber White Dwarf Detail Shots
Details on the Gyrobomber

Ultimately, this section still remains a glorified catalog/advertisement for their new toys, but, GW is a toy company and White Dwarf has always been their avenue to show off what new toys they have for sale.

Similar to the previous White Dwarf, the new releases round up with two-to-four pages outlining new Black Library books, digital releases (like the new Battlescrolls and Dataslates) and other related GW properties that are seeing new content this week. This content, as before, will appeal to you only if you are interested in the subject matter (if you love the Horus Heresy series, then you will like to see what new 30K books are out).

The middle of each issue contains a focus article for that week. These articles have varied in the first three issues. The first issue focused on Tyranids and what unit types are most useful in the new army book from a few of the GW editorial team members as well as a couple of the games designers themselves. This helped to add some fodder for 40K fans out there, as the other two issues were completely fantasy focused. I found that this article gave some interesting insights from the “experts” about what they think will work best in the army. I hope that in the future, they continue to include more articles which focus on the strategy and concepts of the game and philosophies surrounding that.

Issue #2 included the regular summary of the newly released army book of the Dwarfs from the games designer for the Dwarfs, Jeremy Vetock. This article is the same as those  that appeared previously in White Dwarf with new army book releases and I believe it is interesting to see some of the thought process that went into the creation of the book and the “fluff”/ back story included within.

The third issue included a battle report featuring the newly redesigned Dwarfs against their much hated Skaven. This article was the biggest letdown for me in the redesign. My favorite part of the previous White Dwarfs as of late has been the battle reports. They did a phenomenal job of outlining each list and why the player went in the direction they did. Then, they split the game into three parts and described the pivotal moments of each portion while including images that diagrammed the strategy within. It was brilliant.

The good ol’ battle report

Unfortunately, the new battle report was a huge step backwards. Instead of at least a page each to discuss the two players’ lists, it is crammed into a sidebar and listed out without much explanation.

But, the biggest let down is the description of the action itself. Instead of focusing on the strategy of the game, as the previous battle reports had, the report focuses instead upon the story of the battle. And while I will say, I do enjoy that part being peppered in, I would also like to be able to follow the game more closely, instead of through vague descriptions written like a poor action story.

As you can see, it is hard to tell if this was even a real battle (plus, the army lists are almost an after thought).
As you can see, it is hard to tell if this was even a real battle (plus, the army lists are almost an after thought).

Even the images are focused in on small pieces of the action, instead of showing a wide sweeping shot of the battlefield, which lost all aspect of there even having been a game played. Which is unfortunate. It is never good to make a great thing worse and that is what the editorial team did here. I would rather they took out the next four pages – which included adding a model to the hall of fame and how the dwarf army was themed – and instead added more to fleshing out the battle report.

While the battle report left much to be desired, I do have to say I enjoy the flow of the rest of the magazine. Monthly columns are included each week from different GW staff members, including Jeremy Vetock, Phil Kelly and everyone’s favorite, Jervis Johnson. These are usually pretty interesting material as they were in the old magazine and usually discuss the hobby as a whole (though Kelly’s was much more focused on Tyranids). These opinion pieces from people “inside the dungeon” are always interesting.

“Paint Splatter” also makes its triumphant return, going through and showing some paint schemes to use on the new models. A new segment, called “Sprues and Glue” focuses on the model building portion of the hobby. Ultimately, these two sections will probably be fly-over country for the more experiences hobbyists, but these two sections include some important information for players that are new to the game, which are very helpful indeed.

Ultimately, my favorite addition to the new magazine is “The Rules” section, which lays out the stat line and special rules and equipment for a new unit or model. I find this to be a very welcome addition as it helps to explain a bit how these new units function. Now, this may be interesting for people playing the army, but it ends up being of more importance for players of other armies. Many people don’t have the ability to buy every army book that comes out. This allows other players to understand how the new units work and how they might affect the meta game.

The Rules of the new Dwarf Irondrakes
The Rules of the new Dwarf Irondrakes

Another interestingly redesigned piece is the “This Week in White Dwarf” section, which delves into a potpourri of different items, from back story and supplemental information about armies (in these issues, mostly Dwarfs) to showcasing a reader’s model of the week. The latter part is especially cool as readers can submit their models to be ogled and envied  (or critiqued) by all other hobbyists. My personal favorite so far is the Forge World Warrior Priest model painted by Graham Shirley.

A Forge World Warrior Priest by Graham Shirley (from White Dwarf #3)
A Forge World Warrior Priest by Graham Shirley (from White Dwarf #3)

Overall, I have to say I enjoy the redesign quite a bit. The shortened version is more focused and to the point compared to the sprawling previous iteration of the magazine. The benefit of releasing weekly is it continues to build interest throughout the month at GW and other hobby stores. Also, it keeps a consistent flow of new product to stores, which spreads sales out throughout the month, instead of concentrated on the week a codex is released.

One negative is that with a $4 price point, to purchase every issue each month is a $16 investment in the magazine, up from the $10 investment of the previous edition. Some may view this as another grab for extra cash. And, it is a valid question as to whether these collective issues add $6 of value over the existing version.

Another negative is some issues of the magazine, if they are focused on a game system that a player is not interested in, really aren’t worth the asking price. If GW hopes to get a majority of folks to purchase each issue, they will want to try to balance the content a bit more. Also, as of yet, a subscription is not available for the weekly magazine, which makes it difficult for those who live a significant distance away from a games store to keep up with the game as much as they could before.

With all of that said, I do say that it is an interesting read. The shorter, focused issues are enjoyable from cover to cover for the most part. I just hope that in this feeling out period, the editorial team continues to tweak pieces of it, hopefully striking a better balance between the game systems covered and fleshing out the format of  some of the weaker sections of the magazine – such as the battle report – in order to make it a better product.

Rating: 5 out of 7 – Good

What are your thoughts? Is there anything else you would like to see changed in the new look White Dwarf? Let me know what you think of the new magazine in the comments below.

Next for Warhammer Coverage: Tomorrow on Toss-up Thursday, we take a look at this coming weekend’s Warhammer Fantasy U.S. Masters Tournament: what to expect, where to get more information and how to follow the action!

As mentioned in our post at the beginning of the week, we have a new format on the blog. And that means today is our first Warhammer Wednesday!

Crazily, this first post coincides with the newly redesigned publications released at the start of February 2014 by Games Workshop (GW) for their line of games. So, we figured, what better way to kick off Warhammer Wednesday than by reviewing these new publications, the weekly and concise White Dwarf and the monthly and lengthy Warhammer: Visions.

As we all know, the old White Dwarf was a hodge-podge of hobby showcase, new release catalog/hype/hard sell, opinions and pretty pictures of models. In hindsight, it really was quite a mess. The issues would start with new releases, then chuck in a battle report, next throw some picture of models, do a focus on a hobby-aspect (usually how to paint some of the new models with GW paints) and then more pretty pictures of other people’s models, with some opinion columns on wide-ranging topics thrown in for good measure.

It really was a bit of a mish-mash.

So, splitting the information into two different publications seems like a good idea, allowing the editorial team at GW to focus their publications to the task(s) at hand. And for the hobbyists out there, it is a solid idea – because they can now disregard anything and everything that doesn’t focus on the game systems they play. Though, I’m not entirely certain that was GW’s goal.

Warhammer: Visions

Courtesy Games Workshop

As mentioned previously, Visions is the now monthly, 228 page multi-lingual picture book.

Now, you may think that previous statement is a gross-generalization, but I promise you, it is not. This magazine has no written articles themselves. Each page is a picture, multiple pictures, or portions of one picture with caption overlays in English, French and German included. The minimalist approach definitely takes some getting used to, and not just for the reader. I think the editorial team is still feeling out the best way to manage the content in this format.

This is a big publication, so it will be best to break this down, old-west style, highlighting the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good

Increased Focus on the Detail of the Models
With the extra space in this format, GW has the ability to go into more detail on different models. This is most apparent in the Parade Ground section, where multiple images (sometime up to five) are used on one Golden Daemon winner to really focus on the quality job done by the creator of the model. This is also apparent in the Army of the Month, where more pages are now given to displaying the magnificent work done by the Army’s general.

photo 1 (1)

The Idea of a Cinematic Battle Report
Battle reports are a staple of White Dwarf. In fact, it may be my favorite portion of the old monthly magazine. In Visions, they decided to create a more cinematic battle report. Instead of focusing on strategies and the rules surrounding what is happening on the table, they instead followed a game and took dramatic images of the action, utilizing the captions to describe the story of the Chaos Space Marines battling the Grey Knights and Eldar in a Warhammer 40,000 (40K) showdown.

photo 2 (1)

It is an interesting concept, however I think they may want to tweak it some to include more of the game in the captions. For instance, I couldn’t really tell it was an actual game until the final page, when it declared the Chaos Space Marines the winner and showed one of the GW staff members in a series of photos pumping his fists in victory. It was rather confusing, but I do enjoy the concept.

The Bad

Imbalanced Representation of Game Systems
I play Warhammer Fantasy. I know some of 40K, but am not entirely interested in coverage of it since I do not play it. My guess is one of the biggest problems that GW had with the old White Dwarf is that when a specific game system had a new release, the other game systems would only get a passing mention in the magazine, with only a few pages of coverage that month.

When I first heard the announcement about Visions, I thought the main focus of having a magazine that wasn’t beholden to the game systems’ release schedules was to allow it to show a broad representation of all of their properties. Unfortunately, with this first issue, I was sorely wrong.

With the January new release of Tyranids for 40K, it ended up monopolizing the entire magazine. In fact, 40% of the magazine was devoted to Tyranids alone (91 pages to be exact) and 40K made up 56% of the magazine (129 pages). Now, 56% seems like a reasonable percentage. But, take into account that there was only one, 14 page article devoted to Warhammer Fantasy (6% of the magazine), it creates a very large imbalance for people who have specific interests in GW’s product ranges. And, it leads to those that were “slighted” to feel like they wasted their $12 – I know I felt that way.

Multi-lingual Captions Over-complicate the Pages
Warhammer: Visions - Tyranids in three languages
I can completely understand the reason why GW went in the direction they did with making the magazine multi-lingual – it allows them to put out fewer versions of the same magazine to save costs. And while this gives me an opportunity to start to learn a bit of French and German (did you know Tomb Prince in French is Prince des Tombes), at some points, the words tend to over-complicate the page and take away from the images. Granted, this is probably the most nit-picky of criticisms, but that is what I felt while reading through the magazine. Over time, I believe it will be easy to get used to this.

The Ugly

Background Graphics on Pages
One piece I did like was the 52 pages devoted to the models (and hobbyists) that earned Golden Daemon Awards at Games Day in Memphis, TN last fall. However, for some reason, it was determined by the graphics designers that the models themselves were not interesting enough and instead of having a solid background, they included a set of blue background images behind the models.

Warhammer: Visions - Dirty Background Images

Now, it is possible that this looked fantastic on a computer screen. But, on the printed page in the magazine, it is just sloppy looking and can affect the way the reader views the models. In my opinion, it really distracts the eye from seeing the details in some of the images and draws the readers attention away from these wonderful creations to blurry background stock images of space marines and battle scenes.

Page Folds and Page Size
The biggest criticism by far that can be made about this magazine comes down to the size of the pages and how that affects the images displayed. For a magazine that was created to showcase the hobby with beautiful images of fantastically painted and created miniatures, I am not sure why it was determined they should make the magazine about 3/4 the size (closed) of the previous and newly designed White Dwarf. Other than more apparent cost savings, I guess I just do not know.

Warhammer: Visions - Smaller Page Size

The size of the pages also leads to some images being ruined by the page fold in the center of the magazine. Having more pages that are smaller makes it that much more difficult to open up the magazine to see the details at the center of the image – which in some cases is the focal point of the picture displayed.

Warhammer: Visions - Page Folds are Terrible

Now, my guess is that these issues are completely nullified on the iPad version, which I have heard has fully zoomable, high contrast images. And it may turn out that format may be the best way to view this content. Unfortunately, I am unable to confirm this hypothesis as I do not have an iPad available to demo. Plus, I am not extremely willing to spend another $12 on this issue.

I had heard Visions marketed as being a focus on the hobby. In my mind (and also how I heard it explained) there were to be more features in this magazine about the process of building, converting and painting GW’s miniatures from their skilled staff. However, other than the few pages of the pre-existing Kit Bash segment and a Tyranids-focused Paint Splatter article, there wasn’t anything else other than a showcase of a job well done. Granted, that can serve as good inspiration for future projects, but it fails to fill this need.

Now, I do need to say, being an entirely new publication, Visions will need some time to find its legs and figure out exactly its purpose in the whole GW publication scheme. Given a few months, I am sure the editorial team will be able to address some of these criticisms. Ultimately at this point, the magazine is unable to fully realize its main focuses and does a poorer job at fulfilling its purpose than similar portions of the old White Dwarf magazine.

With time, Visions could get better. It has potential. Unfortunately, gamers are a very passionate and judgmental bunch and if the overall reception of the publication is poor, it may never be given much of a second chance, especially when it is asking a premium price.

Rating: 2 out of 7 – Terrible

Next Week on Warhammer Wednesday: We take a look at the first three issues of the other publication for Games Workshop, the new weekly White Dwarf.

Spoiler Alert – I enjoy it much more than Visions.

What are your thoughts? Have you read Warhammer: Visions? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Merry Christmas Everybody!

I hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas wherever you are! As we mentioned yesterday, today we are finishing things off with some drinking rules for some of the more “modern classic” Christmas movies! If there are any movies you would like us to evaluate in the future, Christmas or otherwise, just let us know in the comments below. Also, if you have any additions you think should be made to the rules for these four movies, let us know as well. But, without further ado…

Day 12 – Christmas Day: Christmas Movie Drinking Games

A Christmas Story

Health Warning: It is advised that you DO NOT play this game over and over again every time it comes on TBS today… Only one time is recommended.

Thanks to its popularization by cable television, this movie is now a staple of most folks’ Christmas, and why not: it does about the best job any movie has of capturing what it is like to be a child at Christmas.

  1. Any time “You’ll shoot your eye out” is said, take a drink.
  2. When the kids run away in fast forward, yell “Run Away!” and then drink!
  3. Anytime someone swears but it is replaced with gibberish, take a drink!
  4. Each time Randy starts oinking, take a drink.
  5. The first time the leg lamp is seen within a scene, say “I love lamp!” and then drink!

National Lampoons Christmas Vacation

Christmas Vacation is definitely my favorite Christmas movie and is probably the best Chevy Chase movie of all time (aside from maybe Fletch and Caddyshack). Nothing makes you feel better about your own family’s Christmas than watching another family’s Christmas fall apart in hilarious fashion.

  1. Every time Clark says “Griswold Family Christmas” take a drink.
  2. Whenever Ellen calls Clark “Sparky”, take a drink.
  3. When Clark’s boss mispronounces his name, take a drink.
  4. Whenever Clark hurts himself in a klutzy way, take a drink.
  5. Whenever Cousin Eddie comes onto screen in a scene, take a drink.

Home Alone

As if there weren’t enough reasons to have a large, family vacation over Christmas, Home Alone gives you one more – people will break into your house, steal all of your possessions and leave the water on. Interestingly enough, this is the second movie on the list that takes place in Chicago and the third that takes place in the Midwest (A Christmas Story is based in Indiana).

  1. Any time that Kevin screams, take a drink.
  2. Say “Keep the change, ya filthy animal” along with it when it is said in the movie and then take a drink.
  3. Every time Kevin mouths off to someone, take a drink.
  4. Whenever the term “wet bandits” is said, take a drink.

Die Hard

Though it is overlooked at times, the original Die Hard is in actuality a Christmas movie. The incident in the movie happens during the company’s Christmas party, which is why John has flown all the way from New York to Los Angeles.

  1. Whenever “Nakatomi” is said, take a drink.
  2. Any time Sgt. Powell comes onto screen in a scene for the first time, say “Did I do that?” in your best Erkel impersonation and then take a drink.
  3. When John McClain laughs, drink for the duration of the laugh.
  4. Take a drink at each cowboy reference, whether someone is called one or a phrase, like “Yippee-ki-yay” is used.
  5. Every time John kills a bad guy, cheer and take a drink; whenever a bad guy kills someone, boo and take a drink.

I hope you enjoyed your 12 Games of Christmas as much we have! Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night – of drinking!

It is Christmas Eve and many of your are begging to gather with family to celebrate! In honor of that, our last two posts are going to center around things you can do in groups. Today we focus on some family friendly board games you can get at the last minute for your family get-to-gethers.

For tomorrow, I will say, you will want to have some of your favorite holiday drinks available as we put a new twist on some holiday classic movies: but, today we will focus on:

Day #11: Family-Friendly Board Games

Telestrations

Telestrations is a lesser-known game, but still just as fun, if not more so than others out there. One of the best aspects of this game is that it is accessible for younger kids to play along with and draw on the cards, but still versatile enough to be hilarious with all of the adults playing.

The gist of the game is a mixture of Pictionary and the elementary-school game telephone. Each player draws a card with a list of topics on them and a dice roll determines what needs to be drawn. That player then picks up the white-erase notepad, writes the word on the first page and then draws a picture representation of it on the next page. The pad then passes to the next person, who in viewing the drawing, needs to guess what it is and write that on the third page.

The next player then looks at the last persons guess and needs to draw a representation of that on the following page. The game continues until all players gets his/her pad back. Each player then takes turns going around in a circle to reveal what the topic was and then the evolution of that topic, to usually hilarious results.

Players get points if they guess the clue or their picture is correctly guessed from the original clue. Ultimately, this game is more fun the more people you have, and supports upwards of eight players. I can vouch that every time I have played this game, be it with friends or family, it has been a blast. The one downside is the markers do tend to dry up fairly easily, but all you will need to do is purchase more dry erase markers and the fun continues.

Balderdash

This game is another fun classic from my family’s gameplay sessions, though it is not very accessible to younger than teenage kids as there is some writing that is involved.

If you are unfamiliar, the basis of the game is trying to be the best at coming up with explanations for odd things. As you can see on the game box above, there are five different categories to choose from. The “dasher” as the game calls it draws a card and rolls a die to determine what category they are using that turn. They then read the topic to the players and they must explain what that actually is, trying to make it sound either as hilarious or as legitimate as possible.

For example, on the above card, say that “Laughable Laws” is the category. Each of the players must write down what it is against the law to hang in St. Paul, Minn. They turn these sheets in anonymously and the “dasher” then reads them aloud along with what the actual answer is. The rest of the players must then vote for the one they think is most likely the law.

Once again, depending upon who you are playing with, the game can get quite funny and inappropriate pretty quickly and can be just as good once all of the children are asleep.

Bang!

Straight out of the Old West comes Bang, a multi-player card game that can work for teenagers and above, but can be played with younger kids if they have just a bit of help. The game, based off of Italian Spaghetti Western style movies, is all about looking out for yourself (and the sheriff if you are a good guy).

Each player, face down, draws the role they are, which range from the Sheriff, Deputy, Outlaw, or Renegade. Depending on the type of player you are changes the victory conditions for the game: if you are the Sheriff or Deputy, you win if all of the bad guys are killed; if you are an Outlaw, you win by killing the Sheriff; if the Renegade, you win by killing everyone else (which is much more difficult than it seems). The only player who reveals what role he/she is will be the Sheriff, everybody else must not let on who they are.

Then, each player draws and selects a character card, which determines the amount of life and special ability that you have. Then, the players start drawing other cards to gain weapons, armor types of items and action cards, including the BANG! cards, which allow you to shoot others within range of whatever weapon you have.

This game takes a bit more up-front to pick up the mechanics of how it plays, but once everyone gets the hang of it, it can be a really good time. I know I have played this with groups of friends and family and have enjoyed it quite a bit.

Quelf

Quelf is pretty basic in that your main goal is to get from the start of the game board to the finish of the game board quicker than everyone else. What sets this game apart from the rest is just how crazy that journey is.

Each person, to start the game, selects a character they want to be, from Queen Spatula to a super ninja monkey or a platypus. Once started, you roll a die to determine how far you get to move and then need to draw a type of card and perform a task. These can be anything from answering trivia about movies or basic knowledge to balancing or acting something out. Pass the test and you get to move, fail and you fall backward.

Where the game really starts to get crazy is with the “Rulez” cards, which add different elements to the game. These put into play rules that stay in the game for prolonged periods of time and can affect individual players or everyone. The group rules tend to add a step into the game, either forcing you to say something when the die is rolled or clap at specific times.

The individual ones are what make things even more crazy. In one game, I definitely had to hold a plunger in the air like a sword for the entire rest of the game, waving it from time to time as if I were a knight. Others challenge you to make a mask out items in your surroundings and wear it until another rule replaces it.

This, ultimately makes the game a crazy hodge-podge of everyone remembering the group rules and playing out their individual rules while still trying to complete the tasks on the other cards as they come up. I can honestly say, I don’t think I have laughed harder while playing any other board game.

So, these are a few of the games that I have played with family or friends and thoroughly enjoyed. Do you have any other games I may have missed? Are there any games your family plays during the holidays? If so, throw them into the comments below.

Thanks and have a Merry Christmas! And don’t forget, stock up on booze for tomorrow’s exciting finale…

After walking through the nine best games of the year that I haven’t played yesterday, today we’ll jump back into one of my favorite games of the year (even though it came out last year). Coming back down from the cosmos, we find ourselves entering a lawless world where violence is the name of the day and success means you’ve found a rarer, more elaborate gun in…

Game #10

Borderlands 2 is one of the most fun and action splattered first-person shooter games that has ever been made. It advances the scope of the original game by taking everything and ramping it up another few notches, including the action, the difficulty and especially the humor.

Whereas Gearbox Studios’ original title in the franchise introduced us to the world of Pandora and the lawless, wild west nature of the world, the sequel brings us into the gold-rush, with vault hunters scouring the planet and battling each other to find the biggest vaults and all of the treasures within.

One of the first innovations you will uncover in this game is the change-up of the four main character classes in the game. Whereas the first game created character classes with the basic sniper, heavy support and other typical online game classifications, Borderlands 2 takes the classes and develops them a bit. The focus seems to be on making it so character classes aren’t tied to specific types of guns as much as ways to play the game based upon their special class ability.

The characters you play aren’t the only thing that have abilities – the guns you find throughout the game also add special effects you can utilize at the right times to get you through some of the more difficult battles.

And there are plenty of difficult gunfights, early and often. I hadn’t played the game more than five minutes and I was  struggling to take down a group of baddies. We quickly learned that we couldn’t play the game the same way as the beginning of the last game. And after only two of those battles, you also learn that ammo is scarce and needs to be managed well to succeed in the game.

You may have noticed that I mentioned “we” there. That is because Borderlands 2, similar to the previous game, is best experienced in co-operative (co-op) play with one to three extra players joining you in the mayhem. Journeying with just a second player to assist makes Pandora that much more interesting and exciting. And unlike other FPS games, the experience with co-op is seamless with the single player action, not some tacked-on mode that is not as in-depth as the main game.

Ultimately, I have only played about four hours of the game so far, so there is still much more of the world of Pandora for me to discover. But, I can already tell that the game is a much more enjoyable and rewarding game than its predecessor. I am definitely looking forward to journeying through with some friends and taking out wave after wave of psychos with my exploding-bullet loaded assault rifle.

Have you played Borderlands 2? If so, let me know if your experience is similar to mine. Also, let me know what character class you enjoy the most and why.

Where to Buy

Borderlands 2 can be found pretty much anywhere for about $25 – $30. It is available on the PC, XBox 360 and PS3. Currently, for the month of December, Borderlands 2 can be downloaded for free for all PlayStation Plus members, which is well worth the subscription cost alone.

The game is also available for 75% off, including all downloadable content on Steam for the holiday sale (thanks for the heads-up Dale).

Sticking with the space theme of the past two days, today we move on to the war for survival and salvation in one of my favorite games of the year:

Game #8

The key to great game design is creating a game that is simple enough in concept, allowing the player to  just jump in and play while still being complex enough to keep them interested, immersed and coming back for more. Sony second-party developer Housemarque, with games like Super Stardust and Dead Nation, has proven their design mettle.

Resogun is a remarkable example of old school game design, throwing storytelling out the window, choosing to players into the action, giving them incentives to push deeper into the game. It is no surprise that this “little” indie game is widely regarded as one of the best games available on next-generation consoles.

Resogun is all about gameplay. All you get for a plot is an annoucement, delivered through the speaker on the DualShock 4 controller, to “Save the last humans” at the beginning of each level. In this day and age, this may seem like this is a key mistake.

Things can get pretty hairy pretty fast

But it is quickly realized what Housemarque’s goal is: make a gameplay experience that is fun and difficult and let nothing get in the way of that.

The first time I loaded up the game, I looked around at the options and thought to myself, “is this really all that there is in this game?” There are three different ships to pilot through five worlds. And that is it; there are no secret levels and no unlockable extras.

Starting playing with the average ship on the first world on easy difficult, the game seems simple enough. Use the left stick to maneuver the ship and the right stick to shoot. Going through the level, text overlays explain the other special functions – boost, overdrive and bombs – that the ship has.

The waves of enemies keep scrolling from left and right at you, creating some basic, but fun, gameplay, hearkening back to arcade classics like Defender and Galaga, only with vibrant and crisp graphics and a frantic frame rate that never stutters one bit. This is what distinctly defines it as a next generation game; there is no way the PS3 could handle the amount of action and enemies occurring on screen without melting down its innards.

Getting to the end of the first world, I face a boss and easily figure out, thanks to onscreen clues, how to defeat it. Sounds totally simple.

The first boss battle

But continuing forward, the difficult ramps up, leading to the fifth and final world where, even on “easy” difficulty, it is a challenge to complete without losing all of your lives. Finishing the game, the player starts to think, “is that it? That can’t be everything that the critics are raving about?”

But, that is where Housemarque’s skill in giving nuggets of motivation to players reveals itself. Having beaten the game, as in those classic arcade games mentioned previously, you see your high score and how it compares to the top of the leaderboard and your friends for that difficulty level. Incentive number one to play through again.

The level select screen deftly displays the high score list, taunting you to do better.

Incentive number two is trophies, where a nice balance is struck between trying cool things – like juggling humans to try to save two in one second – up to more game maximization based incentives – saving all humans in the different worlds or beating the game on each difficult level – pushes players back into the game.

Speaking of saving the humans, this also becomes a motivator. There were many times where finishing a level, I would notice that I missed saving the a couple of humans. Saving all humans, other than unlocking trophies, also helps to boost your score. This pushes you to go back through, focusing on which keepers release which humans and trying to save them before abduction or death. Saving each human also gives you an instant bonus, from an extra life or bomb to boosting your overdrive, which then helps continue deeper into the game.

Starting the game at another difficulty ramps the action up even more. Finishing the fifth world on easy is harder than all subsequent worlds, but jumping into the first world on intermediate ends up building upon that difficulty.

If one gripe could be made, it is that the game does become ridiculously hard. The fifth world on the second of four difficulty levels is an insanely difficult challenge, especially with the end boss, which is near impossible to beat without losing at least one life, if not all of them.

But this ramping  of difficulty pushes you forward and alongside the high score rankings, makes you want to go through again and again to topple all of your friends or everyone else in the world.

The last piece of the puzzle are the different ships. There are three different ships to choose from and you will find that each one changes the strategy used to go through the game and how best to complete the objectives at hand. One is more nimble and has some auto-locking lasers, while another ends up being more of a gunship, using high powered weapons to destroy more foes in less shots. But, playing through the game with each of the ships ends up being a different experience and challenge.

As you progress through the levels, power-ups add more laser streams and other add-ons to each ships weaponry. And you will need these advances to combat the difficulty moving through the game. If there is one opportunity that the developer missed out on, it would be allowing you to control or customize the weapons or creating power-ups that changed the way the ship fired for the time being. This change could have helped to add a little bit more variety and personalization into the game.

As you can see, what starts off as a very simple concept and gameplay experience evolves the more you play into a frantic shoot ’em up, forcing the gamer to think about multiple things while playing through the level. This fully immerses him/her into the gaming experience unlike almost any other game out there today. It may only take a bit over an hour on the first play through, but with the number of variations and difficulty levels, as well as the outside motivation of high scores and trophies, it is very easy to spend fifteen hours or more.

Too many games these days get themselves lost in their own convoluted storylines or fall down a rabbit hole of control issues or frustrating gameplay sequences. Keeping it simple but including layers of immersion is what makes Resogun a fulfilling experience as well as one of the best games of the year.

Rating: Six Stars out of Seven – Great

What are your thoughts on Resogun? Did you enjoy it as much as I did? Let me know in the comments below.

Where to Buy

Resogun is a PlayStation 4 exclusive game and can be purchased for $15 on the PlayStation Store. Resogun is also currently free for PlayStation Plus subscribers, so you have no excuse to not download it and play it right now if you own a PS4!

Today’s iteration of the 12 Days of Christmas will stay in the stars. Although it has been in beta for three years, today’s game is one of the most ambitious and technical games I’ve played in a long time. So, without further ado…

Game #7

On December 13, Kerbal Space Program celebrated its 3 year anniversary of being released to the public in its beta stage. The game is still in beta.

In many instances, this would be a giant red flag; in the case of Kerbal, one of the more ambitious games in recent history, all one needs to do is play it to find that entirely acceptable.

Kerbal Space Program‘s goal: to be a realistic simulation of rocket science while remaining fun and accessible at the same time. Kerbal has developed a decent-sized cult following among hardcore PC gamers. I must admit, I haven’t sprung for the beta as of yet, but after playing the demo, I can see why folks are flocking to this game.

In the game, you are tasked with running the space program for the planet Kerbal. Your first goal: landing on the Mun. In the Demo, you only have access to building fairly simple rockets, but within the purchased beta, you are able to run all aspects, science and development, construction, flight and consistent operations of the space program.

At its core, Kerbal is a variation of a sandbox game. Whereas true sandbox games, like Minecraft, give you a sandbox to build, explore and play in, Kerbal gives you all of the tools needed to build spaceships – you just need to figure out the best way to make them fly where you want them to fly.

Early on, you will spend the main portion of the game jumping between the launch pad (seen above) and the design area, where you work on putting your craft together.

This makes the building phase sound simplistic, but trust me, this isn’t just sticking Legos together to make your dream ship. It isn’t even your junior high science class where you built rockets.

This is a trial and error version of rocket science. You must determine the type of fuel to use, the type of rockets to attach to the main ship and what kind of capsule to use. Along with this, you also determine the different phases the rockets will fire in to add the correct amounts of propulsion at the right time.

I’m not sure if even Jebediah Kerbal wants to ride in this ship…

Once the build phase is complete, now its time to take your ship for a test drive. Once out on the launch pad, you have control of navigating the ship and putting it through the different pre-planned phases of the launch and flight.

This is where the fun and skill comes into the game. The moment you launch, all the decisions you made in the building of the vessel are now realized in (as far as I can tell) realistic aerodynamic physics. And let me tell you, it isn’t very easy to handle all that propulsion deftly.

Its all in your hands now!

My first ten flights (at least) ended up in sheer and utter disaster. The first time, I didn’t decouple it from the launch platform and the ship veered into the tower and exploded. Next, I positioned the wings on the ship incorrectly, throwing the aerodynamics out of whack and creating a weight imbalance, causing the ship to uncontrollably veer right back into the earth after rising only a few hundred meters. After that, I didn’t have my separate rocket tubes stabilized enough and they flew apart, smashing into each other, exploding and leaving the main vessel to fall back to the planet without any propulsion to slow it down. And always, I was able to watch the sheer horror of my Kerbal pilot in the bottom right of the screen as he flew towards his doom.

It will go really, really bad early on…

Even though I encountered failure after failure, I still enjoyed the game, which is a testament to its design, allowing the player to get back to designing quickly. Slowly, I figured out how to improve on my design. Soon, I made it through the atmosphere and into outer space. That progressed to me getting the ship into a shallow orbit, and eventually achieving a near synchronous orbit. Looking at the bottom-right of the screen, the awe and happiness in the Kerbal pilot’s face was an additional reward for a job done better.

 

We made it to space!

Accomplishing that much came with a massive feeling of accomplishment. And it pushed me to want to try more variations and tweak with my design to push the boundaries even more. I started to feel what it must have felt like to be in the 1950s and 60s, pushing constantly for the next achievement and learning from and improving on previous flights.

The demo is fairly limited in the tools you have to experiment with. In the full beta, you have much more at your disposal: you can send up satellites, larger space ships, and eventually a space station. As this is a beta, the developer, Squad, is continuing to add more on a regular basis. Their most recent edition is the science package, which allows you to develop more technology and progress more through the game.

Space Stations are one of many advancements in the full beta

I really cannot recommend playing the demo enough. I bet that once you give it a shot, you will become quite hooked by the experience and want to be able to do more and more with the game. Additional appeal lies in joining the game at this pivotal point in development and watching it continue to grow into a more sophisticated experience leading up to its full release.

Hope to see you on the Mun sometime. God speed!

Where to Buy

Kerbal Space Program can be purchased for you or as a gift code for $27 via the game’s website. The game is also available on Steam and is currently priced at $18.99 until January 2nd in the Holiday Sale.

From one dystopian universe to another- today in the 12 Games of Christmas, we take to the stars to visit one of the most beloved franchises in history with…

Game #6

The Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game is a tabletop dogfighting experience to be reckoned with, doing its best to represent the complexity of space battles and the beloved nature of the franchise in an accessible package. And Fantasy Flight Games, for the most part, succeeds brilliantly.

For me, some of my favorite parts of the movies are the massive space battles. This love of space combat was amplified with the classic space battle game X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter, which still goes down as one of my favorite games of all time. Its ability to encapsulate the difficulties of space dog-fighting with the graphics of the late ’90s was phenomenal.

In the X-Wing Miniatures Game, you create a squadron from either the Empire or Rebel Alliance’s array of ships – from the classic X-Wing’s and Tie Fighters, to larger ships like Boba Fett’s Slave One and Han Solo’s Millenium Falcon, as well as the more obscure Imperial Lambda-class Shuttle and Kyle Katarn’s HWK-290 from the Jedi Knight series of video games.

Each of these ships comes pre-assembled and pre-painted and look quite impressive both up close and in action on the table-top.

A few of the Rebel Alliance ships in detal
A few of the Rebel Alliance ships

Along with the ships and their bases, you also receive a set of four cards with each ship, signifying the level of pilot operating the craft. Each one of these pilots is worth a varying amount of points – which add up toward the total points limit you are allowed for your squadron for the given game.

The lower point-cost pilots start with the generic “Yellow Squadron Rookie” and increase in cost to named pilots who have special abilities. An example is the X-Wing from the core game set – you have the option of two generic pilots and then Biggs Darklighter or Luke Skywalker; Biggs’ ability attracts fire to himself from friendly ships near him (as in the movie) whereas Luke’s special allows him to change defense die results to help him evade attacks.

Each of the different ships, as in other pieces of the Star Wars universe, are good for different uses: The X-Wing is your all around attack fighter, the Y-Wing resides in more of a heavy support role, the B-Wing brings large amounts of artillery to the party, while the A-Wing adds speed and missiles to the squad. The varying amount of Tie Fighters fill similar roles on the Imperial side while the large ships give you different bonuses and larger amounts of fire power to utilize against the enemy.

Is Slave One running away? No, just firing with its rear attack.

Each player then chooses their squadron to fit within the agreed-upon point limit, selecting combinations of ships and pilots along with adding upgrades that each ship type can add. This system adds variation to the game, using different combinations to craft the play style of your squadron towards your taste and tactics. If you want to out-shoot your opponents, take a B-Wing with some major artillery along with an ion cannon equipped Y-Wing and an X-Wing; if you want to maneuver your way around the opponent, then use a duo of A-Wings with an X-Wing or maybe even the cheapest Millennium Falcon option.

The gameplay then happens in simultaneous turns. This may seem like an oxymoron, but it is the best way to explain it.  Each ship comes with a movement dial, which includes each of the possible maneuvers you can make with that ship. The number is the distance you can move, the arrow shows the direction of the movement and the color is how taxing the effort is on your pilot and if it causes stress – which limits additional movements in this and subsequent turns.

The movement dial for the B-Wing – Very slow and plodding.

Each player chooses the movement for their ship on that turn and flips it upside down. Those movements are then revealed in reverse initiative order and the ships move according to the movement templates included with the core game set.

A Tie Fighter reveals its movement.

If the ship makes a red movement, the pilot is stressed and cannot make additional actions in the next phase until he makes a green movement to remove the stress in a subsequent turn.

Once all ships have moved, they are now able to determine secondary actions, which differ based upon the ship type and player card. These range from “Evade”, if they know they will be targeted, to “Focus”, which allows the pilot to change a focus role to a result of their choosing.

The battle now reaches the attack phase. In initiative order, each pilot receives an amount of dice per their card to roll (usually 2-3) to see the effectiveness of the attack. If the targeted ship is at close range, the attacker receives an extra die; if at long range, the defending ship receives an extra defense die.

The different possible rolls for attack (red) and defense (green).

As seen above (in order), the defender can roll to evade, focus or no result. The attacker can roll a hit, a critical hit (worth two damage) or a focus. The focus rolls are meaningless unless the pilot chooses the focus action. If selected, the player is then able to change the focus result to whichever die result they choose. Aside from doing extra damage, critical hits can also add handicaps to the pilot or ship hit with the attack.

The game then moves forward in these turns until one side claims victory by destroying all of the other ships or completing some form of objective determined at the start of the game.

The most interesting dynamic in the game is choosing your movement and then revealing that decision. Because you do not know how your opponent’s ships are going to move, you have to anticipate where they will be in order to maneuver your ships into the most advantageous position. Revealing movements is fun  and unpredictable – sometimes a ship will end up right in front of you, while at other times, one of your ships may end up far away from the action.

You can expect the first game or two to be pure learning experiences; you will make mistakes and forget different rules, phases or abilities. In those first few games, I would highly recommend trying a range of ship combinations to figure out what options out there fit into your tactical tendencies.

Once you figure out the rules, a moderately sized game (60 – 75 points) will usually not take longer than a couple of hours, making the game fairly accessible for its level of complexity. 100 point games or battles with more than two players will ultimately add to the game time, but it still feels manageable (I guess most things do compared to Warhammer).

There are a few aspects of the game that do cause difficulties, however. At times, especially once you start playing in higher-point contests, the actual movement of the miniatures on the table can get quite difficult to carry out cleanly. Precise movement is paramount in this game – even the slightest extra rotation when placing a ship onto the table or slightest nudge while moving another ship can alter whether a ship is within line-of-sight or not.

There were a few times in some of our games where ships would be crossing on top of each other and you would have to alter the initiative order of the movement to fit ships into place. Even doing that, at times the table looks more like a game of bumper cars than a space battle as ships end up  stuck to each other for a round.

This is only made more difficult once you start playing with the larger ships. This is because the penultimate battles will send your smaller fighters towards those ships. Their smaller movements through the larger bases of the ships sometimes causes one big jumbled mess. Granted, part of that simulates how hairy and discombobulated dogfighting can be, but it can be at times a hindrance to the gaming experience, as you can end up spending more time measuring and futzing around with the positioning of the ships than actually playing the game.

One particularly messy exchange, with the Falcon at its center.

There are also a few combinations in the game that seem overpowered. For instance, an X-Wing with R2-D2 – which can help regain shields each turn – is a nearly unstoppable force for the cost of only four extra points. Granted, it makes sense per the films, but from a game-balancing perspective, it can be problematic. I could see this always being selected in a Rebel army at a tournament.

Aside from those issues, it definitely is an interesting spin on tabletop wargaming. The startup costs are relatively cheap, by wargaming standards: A basic starter set of the core game and two expansion packs of a ship for each faction will run you approximately $60 – $70 at full retail price; utilizing internet deals could drop that cost by at least a third. This gives you enough models to play simple but enjoyable games with both sides – which is perfect for learning the mechanics and rules.

Fantasy Flight Games is soon expanding the game by adding larger class ships to the fray, in the Tantive IV Rebel Command ship and the Rebel Assault Transport. These new ships are ushering in the new Epic Play style to X-Wing, which is starting to encroach into the levels of battles seen at the end of some of the original movies.

So, if you are a life-long fan of Star Wars like me or are just looking to test your tabletop general skills in a galaxy far, far away, you cannot go wrong picking up this game. May the force – and the dice – be with you!

Rating: Six out of Seven Stars

Have you played the game? What ships do you most want in your collection? Share your opinions in the comments below.

Where to Buy

Quite possibly the best place to buy X-Wing Miniatures are from Miniature Market. They always have discounts on items (when they have them in stock) and if you order $99 or more of products from them, it is free shipping.

Amazon will also have deals from time to time on some of the different expansion packs.

You will also be able to find X-Wing miniatures at many comic/game stores and also at the Fantasy Flight Games Online Store or in person at their Event Center.

Yesterday, we focused on the huge, modern day open world adventure that is Grand Theft Auto V. Today, we’re going to change gears, drastically. Instead of the massive fictional world that Los Santos, we will now be journeying back in time to the Cold War era in the fictional world of our next game:

Game #5

Papers, Please takes place in a fictionalized version of Cold War era Eastern Europe/the U.S.S.R. You play a character who just received a job via the labor lottery on the border checking passports of those attempting to enter your country, Arstotzka. Your job, to determine if the people are entering your country legally or illegally by validating their passport and other (increasingly complex) immigration information.

Just another day on the job…

As you can see, Papers, Please uses a simplistic art style. The gameplay mechanics are also nothing new; you review the information the prospective immigrants present and determine whether to approve or deny their request. You get paid for each correctly processed person. Make too many mistakes, and you get demerits (or even fired, arrested and/or executed).

“What is the point? This game looks like work. Why would I want to play a game that is about working?”

Although the gameplay mechanics are simple in a Diner Dash sort of way, the storyline and the overarching concept of the game adds more to the experience than any other game I have played in a long time.

As I mentioned before, you make money for each immigrant you processed correctly. This doesn’t just go toward buying a better passport stamp or nonsense like that. Instead, you need to be able to pay for rent, heat, and food for your family of six.

This alone becomes motivation to do your best to avoid being a dead-beat dad (or son or spouse). However, making enough money is not always within your control and when times get tough, you need to decide what is more important, heat or food. If this happens too often, your family gets sick and needs medicine and you need to decide which family members receive the medicine and which ones don’t. Neglect family members for too long and they will die.

Which family member gets the medicine?

This use of RPG=lite elements help to make the “grind” of the office a bit more interesting.

Speaking of the job, the game does a fantastic job of ramping up the complexity from beginning to end, starting you off with checking basic passports but then building to adding work visas, diplomatic papers and other sorts of identification. Directives will be passed down on a daily basis adding these new paperwork restrictions as well as other decrees from on high (such as not allowing anyone through the checkpoint from specific countries).

You must check all information with your guide to validate the authenticity of documentation and notate any discrepancies before denying entry.

As you advance through the game, small story events will come up that force you to make decisions. Do I allow the director’s buddy into the country without the proper credentials? What will happen to me if I don’t? Should I assist a secret order with their attempts to infiltrate the country and perform attacks on the government? If a person attempts to use falsified documents, do I arrest them or just deny their passport? These decisions help to build towards the 20 different endings within the game.

While performing your job and making these difficult decisions, the game continues around you. Every now and again, a terrorist will attack the checkpoint, causing destruction and closing the border early that day – which makes it that much more difficult to earn the money needed for grandma’s medicine. Eventually, you are even given access to defensive weapons (a sniper rifle or a tazer gun) to take care of attacks before they are entirely carried out.

What is most intriguing about this game, however, are the parallels that the developer Lucas Pope draws between the dystopian world of the game and present-day complaints and issues in America.

One parallel drawn is the price of terrorism and its affect on personal freedom. Similar to the TSA agents at all American airports, you gain the ability to scan people with revealing X-Ray scanners to determine if they have any weapons on them. After scanning, you are presented with a naked, front-and-back image of the person to inspect in order to see if any weapons or contraband is on their person.

Clearly, the most blatant subject the game covers is immigration. No matter how different the world may be in the game from the world we live in today, the game characterizes those immigrating and how their ability to enter the new country may (or may not) make a huge difference in their lives. The game plays with these concepts, showing all sorts of different people seeking entry and gives the player a unique perspective on the immigration debate in American that not seen in any other game (or any other fictional work for that matter). My guess is, based upon your discussion with some of the characters in the game, you will think twice about following the rules blindly and give their passport the green stamp.

The ways that this game is able to broach some of the most integral and serious topics in our world today within this simplistic looking game is a testament to solid story telling and game design.

Possibly this is why when I started playing the game – only planning to toy with it for about an hour – I became engrossed to the point that my short play session was in actuality five hours long. And I wanted to keep playing. Why? Because in its simple mechanics but complex, branching story, I just wanted to experience more of the world that was crafted.

The game succeeds in doing everything it set out to do and so much more. And that is why no matter how mundane this game sounds to you, I implore you to play it for just one hour – a few hours later, I believe you will feel the same way I do about Papers, Please.

Rating: Seven out of Seven Stars

Where to Buy

Papers, Please can be purchased at the game’s website via paypal or on Steam for $9.99.

 

Yesterday, we ventured into how inappropriate a card game can get with Cards Against Humanity. Today, we will look at how inappropriate a video game can get with:

Game #4

Now, the chances of a loved one being a video game player that hasn’t purchased this game already is probably pretty slim (it did make $1 Billion dollars in its first three days on the market). But, if they haven’t and they are old enough to play Mature-rated games (17+), you have to buy them this game.

The fifth installment in the series isn’t just more of the same; it is bigger, badder and online-ier (?).

That is right: the game’s storyline branches between three different characters (seen above in order: Trevor, Franklin and Michael) and includes 69 direct missions with nearly as many side missions, races and other unique quests that add up to a far longer experience  than that of GTA IV. And it is also a much more cohesive story, with characters that are unique and make sense doing the things they are doing.

The world of Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) is also gigantic – at least triple the size of GTA IV and probably larger than all GTA games combined since GTA III was released on PlayStation 2 in 2001.

The world of GTA IV (inset) compared to GTA V

Other than being larger and more extensive, this game also does tend to take the content to the extreme as well. I will say it again, this game IS NOT FOR CHILDREN. The game includes large amounts of swearing, many instances of characters making questionable actions or comments, a strip club with partial nudity, and one unskippable interrogation scene that draws many similarities to an early scene in Zero Dark Thirty (it may also be taken from Dick Cheney’s dreams). This game pushes the envelope, intentionally, so make sure the person you are buying it for is ready for a game with these types of experiences.

The other major addition in this iteration is Grand Theft Auto: Online, which acts as a separate always-online, open world experience. The player creates their own character and then plays online with up to 15 other people, both friends and foes, facing off in deathmatches, races, missions (both cooperative and competitive) and unorganized hi-jinx.

Having logged about 12 hours, there are always things to find in this mode, though it is quite a bit less directed than the single-player experience. It is ultimately best traversed with a buddy or two to add to the enjoyment. The most fun moments have been just tooling around town, trying to break into different areas with a pal in tow, something that is much more rewarding than “going solo” in the single-player game.

And the game’s developer Rockstar is planning on adding to the already existing content with online heists, new game modes and possibly even new cities (Vice City anyone) in the future, which makes it another gift that keeps on giving the whole year round.

If you’ve enjoyed the previous games in the series, this is a no-brainer of a buy. If you played the previous games but tended to get bogged down in the story as it progressed, give this version a go as it does a much better job of keeping it interesting with set-piece moments and switching between characters. If you didn’t like GTA before because of control issues, many of those are resolved, so I would also recommend giving the series a second chance.

Check back after Christmas for our full review of GTA V and our thoughts about GTA Online thus far.

Have you played the game? If so, what are some of your favorite parts of the game? I know the heists are probably my favorite. Let know what your favorite things are about this game in the comments below.

Where to Buy

This game is available for XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 and can be purchased at all retailers that sell games.

Purchase online at Amazon here (it currently is discounted by $20, so pick it up now!).