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7th March 2018: The Slog Begins

Finally, I've started doing some work on sorting out some wargaming things. It's been years and years since I last finished painting any 6mm scale models, which were my Epic Khorne and Nurgle forces, and quite a while since I finished painting my 40K Space Marines. Despite this, I've never really bothered to get decent photos of any of the three armies. Some updated photos seem like a good idea, but as it's been so long, a few things need changing, adding and painting beforehand.

Firstly, four years ago I was given some Epic Chaos stuff, so I want to paint and integrate a lot of those before taking the final photos. I've just undercoated the Daemon Engines and will now attempt to match them to how I painted the others back in 2009.

In addition, I decided to get all my old and unused Epic models out of the loft and sort them out, adding the good stuff to armies, and getting rid of some crap stuff.
I really didn't realise I had so much shit, especially the old style Land Raiders. Look at all those things.

All this means I've given myself a lot more work to do. For my Khorne army, I've got to re-base a lot of Chaos Marines so I can have a World Eater legion, meaning I will have all four at last. I've also given them some old Land Speeders for more close range attack power. My Nurgle force, which I did not want to touch, has actually been given some Rhinos, Land Raiders and an old style Thunderhawk. The Gunship would probably suit my Tzeentch army better, but it's a bit old and skanky so will paint up better as Nurgle. The Tzeentch force has only gained some Rhinos and a couple more Champions, but Slaanesh have been bolstered by Rhinos, Chaos Squats, Land Speeders and some Beastmen.

My Orks are hopefully going to be boosted. If I can put together 3 stands of Nobz, they'll have a Blood Axe clan. That clan has never been used by us before in any of our old Epic adventures, so I hope I can make it happen. For the Marines, I'm going to paint up some Grey Knights and Legion Of The Damned units to use up some of that big pile of Tactical Marine stands.

In addition to all this, I'm prepping myself for working on the Epic-S rules again. The new ruleset will be version 3, but will be heavily based on my old 1.3, with a few bits from V2 and a few new things added in. I think V2 took the game too far away from the old Epic Space Marine rules that this game is based on, so that's why I'm taking it back a bit.

Prepping some Daemon Engines

Prepping some Daemon Engines

Old Epic stuff part 1

Old Epic stuff part 1

Old Epic stuff part 2

Old Epic stuff part 2

Been doing a lot more work on the Super Dungeon rules. It's getting smoother and faster, but I'm still struggling to get the game really balanced.

That being said, the last couple of test games have gone quite well. There's no doubt that the "AI" of some of the enemies will need a lot more tweaking, but I think it's getting to the point where I can take the game to one of our games nights and get some real feedback.

Can't wait to get it all done.

Von Wilder leaps into battle against Boris

Von Wilder leaps into battle against Boris

First playtest using the Forgotten King himself

First playtest using the Forgotten King himself

The Forgotten King continues to defend his dungeon

The Forgotten King continues to defend his dungeon

14th January 2018: Dungeon Diving

My efforts at creating my own Super Dungeon Explore rules have continued on and off over the last six months, and over Christmas I managed some good game time to iron out more of the wrinkles. In fact, the game I played yesterday seemed to work absolutely fine, with the one huge problem that it still takes way too long.
The entire point of me making these rules is to try and make the game simpler and faster, so it seems there's still some development work to do in terms of streamlining. I didn't really want to pull out too many things from the original rule set as it will make the loot cards more difficult to use. But I guess that's what it's going to take.
Oh well. Soldier on I shall.

Testing the 2nd version of the rules last summer

Testing the 2nd version of the rules last summer

Working on what would become the latest, 4th version

Working on what would become the latest, 4th version

Running through a game of my 4th beta rules, yesterday

Running through a game of my 4th beta rules, yesterday

The Blood Bowl season 6 document hadn't been updated since October 2016, so I've also done that. There's only been 6 games since then, but we're now only 2 games from finishing our little league, which we are hoping to get around to as soon as possible. We were hoping to play more games over Christmas like we did last year, but it was not to be.
Due to us failing in our efforts to get more games in, my painting motivation has also waned. I've barely touched my skaven team since last April, other than a few base colours and finishing one of the storm vermin to see what the final colour scheme will look like.

Undercity Cheese Thieves colour scheme

Undercity Cheese Thieves colour scheme

After a really slow 2017, with just one blog entry, I want to be much more active on the tabletop going forward. In addition to getting Super Dungeon Explore and the Blood Bowl league done, there's a whole host of things to get back into. For example, 40K 8th edition came out last June, and we've been wanting to try it, but haven't managed yet. Also, I'm going to go back to my Epic-S rules after not touching them for the better part of a decade. They were working quite well back then, and I've thought of a few tweaks that will help them out some more. It will mean typing out the whole ruleset again as I no longer have the software I used to use, but it should be worth it, even if we only get a handful of good games out of it. I just wanna see the little guys on the battlefield again.

30th December 2017: Nostalgia Bomb

Every few years I enjoy travelling back through time and re-living my early teens with the aid of my Amiga emulator. Over the last couple of weeks, I've been going pretty hard.

The game I tried first in this little marathon was Formula One Grand Prix, a game I adored as a kid. Together, me and my mates went through several seasons using "hotseat" style multiplayer, with those of us that had mastered manual braking having a big advantage. When I got a PC, I completely forgot about this game and got hooked on the sequels instead, which were far better, and now I've remembered why.
I played this for one short race, where I went from back of the grid to 7th. Man it was a struggle. The frame rate is probably only 4fps or something silly, making it hard to control. How the hell did we play it back in the day? It won't be one I play again.

After that, I slapped on some Super Skidmarks, which for a while was the game of choice for me and my mate Dave, especially when we played it on his A1200. This thing is still insane and a lot of fun. It's hard to control, like you're driving your car on an ice rink, but definitely something that's still worth playing.

Of course, I couldn't crank up the Amiga emulator without playing some Sensible Soccer. It always was my favourite Amiga game, and always will be. I managed to create two new teams to bring the total to 20, just enough for a full-sized league. After going through the whole league, I won every game except draws against Final Fantasy and The Witcher, and a single loss against the Decepticons. Wouldn't have minded, but none of those teams were near the top of the league come the end. Punks.

Then I decided I wanted to finish some games, and Scoob joined me in going through a few multiplayer ones. Up first was Golden Axe, a game Scoob was sure we'd already completed back in the day, but I wasn't so sure. After getting to the end, surprisingly easily I might add, it definitely seemed familiar so we must have completed it after all.
Still, other than a bit of stutter here and there, this game was quite fun to play. Definitely better than what we played next...

After we enjoyed Golden Axe, we thought we'd give Double Dragon a try. I played this quite a lot in an arcade with my bro on holiday when we were kids, but even though I got it for the Amiga later I couldn't really remember playing it that much. No surprises why...
The Amiga version of this thing sucks ass. With inferior graphics and sound, and crappy, buggy gameplay, it's a wonder we got through it at all. But just like Golden Axe, when we got to the end, it all seemed familiar, so again, it was another one I must have completed as a kid.

One game I knew for a fact that I'd never finished was Battle Squadron, a game we used to simply call "Silver & Gold" when we were kids. This shooter used to kick our asses all up and down its vertically scrolling screen, and even during this play through, we had to turn a lot of the options to easier levels, something I don't think we ever knew we could do all those years ago.
It's a fairly short game, but fun and worth a run through. I'm thinking when I've got some more time I might play it solo on harder difficulty. It should be possible with the emulator's save state capability.

Taking a look down the outside

Taking a look down the outside

Getting smacked about by the AI cars

Getting smacked about by the AI cars

Mooooo!

Mooooo!

My defender fails to block a shot on my goal

My defender fails to block a shot on my goal

Twonking some ruffians

Twonking some ruffians

Playing tennis with some ruffians

Playing tennis with some ruffians

Tyris unleashes her inner dragon on the end boss

Tyris unleashes her inner dragon on the end boss

Seriously, WTF are these graphics?

Seriously, WTF are these graphics?

Scoob beats up the Hulk

Scoob beats up the Hulk

These damn spears killed us way more than the bad guys did

These damn spears killed us way more than the bad guys did

All hell breaks loose in the final battle

All hell breaks loose in the final battle

Shooting the shit out of the Barrax Empire

Shooting the shit out of the Barrax Empire

There are some odd enemies in this game

There are some odd enemies in this game

Splatting some huge bugs

Splatting some huge bugs

Scoob unleashes a nova bomb on the final boss

Scoob unleashes a nova bomb on the final boss

11th December 2017: Bloody Hearts & Wine Stones

So I may have told a lie and also told the truth at the same time. Back when I finished Witcher 3, I said I'd only come back to the franchise when I got the expansions. This was true. In fact, after the initial completion, I almost immediately went out and bought both Hearts Of Stone and Blood And Wine so I could play them while I was still in the mood. I did also say I probably wouldn't start again to do all the contracts and other stuff. This turned out to be a lie. Rather than do the expansions from where I left off, I just started again, and ramped up the difficulty.
My original intention was to do it all. All the contracts, points of interest, get all the Gwent cards, brew all the potions and oils, create all the witcher gear, everything. It's not quite gone down that way, but I've done way more than I did before. And now, after more than three months of straight play, I think I'm pretty much done with the game.

I played the base game until after I rescued Ciri and killed Imlerith. During this time I cleared all the points of interest except some in Skellige. One on land bugged out, and I couldn't clear it, but all the others I missed were out in the ocean and I really couldn't be arsed with them. I also played Gwent for the first time, and went through all the Gwent quests except the big tournament which I may do later. I'd also crafted all the witcher gear up to this point, but this run was to stop during the second expansion when it became clear that other items were far better than even grandmaster witcher stuff. That was something I was pissed about.

I did get round to crafting all the oils, all the way to max level, but did not do all the decoctions, potions or bombs, as I didn't find these anywhere near as useful.

Anyway, on I went to the first expansion, which I didn't really like except for meeting Shani again. The story and characters in this were really bad. Fucking infuriating in fact. There are two main antagonist characters that Geralt gets caught between, and they were both so annoying that I desperately wanted to kill them both. However, depending on your actions, only one can be defeated. I was livid. Grr.

Roach goes for a swim

Roach goes for a swim

Getting well and truly licked

Getting well and truly licked

This dancing is just wrong

This dancing is just wrong

Geralt sinks into the jetty

Geralt sinks into the jetty

Taking a stroll inside a painting

Taking a stroll inside a painting

Twonking Von Everec

Twonking Von Everec

I hated this floating freak

I hated this floating freak

The second expansion was a lot better. The only annoying thing really was the fake French accents. I'm sure they could have got some English speaking French people to do the voice acting if they'd really wanted to. But oh well. In this one, Geralt is hired to kill The Beast Of Beauclair, who is killing knights in the land of Toussaint. It felt like a much bigger expansion, and had more interesting side quests in addition to the much better main story. This time, in the end, both antagonists can perish, or depending on your actions, either one of them. Difference is, in this one, I really wanted them both to live. Damn you, CD Projekt Red!!

As I was playing it for so long, all the things that annoyed me about it during the first playthrough continued to annoy me, and to even greater levels. Despite the many wonderful things it's got going on, the game is just so janky. Movement and combat are awkward and sluggish, and you would never guess Geralt is supposed to have enhanced reactions, as sometimes it takes him so long to dodge or cast a spell that he just ends up standing there and getting smacked in the face.

Without a doubt it was Roach who was the main problem. Stupid horse didn't seem to like doing anything I told it, and a lot of the time I just ran around on foot. Sometimes it would run on the spot, as if against some invisible barrier, when there was nothing there at all. Something that happened only once in my first playthough probably happened around ten times through this one, and that was the game not giving me the ability to gallop when I got on the horse. Only way I could clear it was to save and reload.

I even tried installing some mods for the first time to help me with some of the more irritating elements of the game. Usually the mods wouldn't work or wouldn't do what I wanted, but the ones that did definitely made life easier.

Again it sounds like I'm ragging on the game, but it really isn't that bad. There's no way I would play a game this long if it was bad at all. It's actually pretty great. It's just that I can see how exceptional it could be with a little more work and a few more options, so the problems just irritate me a lot. It all just gives off the impression that the developers didn't play hours and hours of their own game, and that they didn't get frustrated with all the little things that ended up being complete time wasters. Why's there no auto-apply of oils? Why do the witcher senses take so long to kick in and fade out? Why can you only mark one quest on your map? Why's there no option to auto-skip all merchant chit-chat after you've spoken to them the first time? All the little things like these end up wasting so much time.

Well, that is my journey through the Witcher franchise complete. I'll probably continue my current playthrough, and go back to the base game to complete the last few quests. I still don't think I'll do a full 100% run, as I don't want to go to all the points of interest in the Skellige seas, or go around getting all the Gwent cards. Not at all.

Overall though, really impressed with the series because of the stories it told and the characters that all played their parts. In that regard, I'll probably look back on these games much like I do with Final Fantasy 7. That is, I'll always fondly remember playing them, but because it's such a chore to play them, I'll probably never visit them again.

Geralt gets the horn

Geralt gets the horn

What a blockhead

What a blockhead

Two floating skulls stop me going through this door

Two floating skulls stop me going through this door

Geralt just having dinner with his wight buddy

Geralt just having dinner with his wight buddy

Fighting off a horde of bandits

Fighting off a horde of bandits

Guard sinks into the steps

Guard sinks into the steps

Bad kitty!

Bad kitty!

And now Geralt's talking to a horse

And now Geralt's talking to a horse

Yes, clean my boots child!

Yes, clean my boots child!

Geralt can always light up a room

Geralt can always light up a room

That's a strange insult to throw at a vampire

That's a strange insult to throw at a vampire

"Just don't tell Yen we got to ride unicorns."

"Just don't tell Yen we got to ride unicorns."

Interesting constructions in this part of the world

Interesting constructions in this part of the world

Geralt copping a feel

Geralt copping a feel

Regis being awesome

Regis being awesome

That's one dead vampire

That's one dead vampire

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