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27th August 2018: The Darkest Forces

Just recently Scoob and I have been going through Serious Sam: The Second Encounter, and playing that pretty old FPS got me thinking about a really old FPS, in the shape of Dark Forces. I had played this not long after it came out in the 90s, but never finished it. Last time I looked at the game, someone was working on a promising mod for it called DarkXL, which made the game a little more up to date and added in proper mouse controls. It was my plan to wait for that mod to be completed, but unfortunately it doesn't look like it's had any development for some years.
Out of curiosity, I did some searching as to whether there were any other ways to play the original game a bit more comfortably. As luck would have it, many people had reported success using a tool called GlovePIE, which makes it possible to play with the mouse.
So after a great deal of tinkering to get Dark Forces, DOSBox, GlovePIE and Fraps all configured so that I could play and take screenshots, I once again stepped into Kyle's boots, around two decades after first doing so.

This was a massive nostalgia trip, and though I couldn't remember all of the levels and locations in the game, many of them brought back memories of playing it as a teenager. Without a doubt, playing it with the mouse helped a great deal, and it was nowhere near as awkward as trying to play it on the keyboard. Yet, the game does not have a targeting reticule, and instead Kyle kind-of auto-aims at enemies in his line of sight. This means sometimes you can try and shoot at one enemy, but Kyle picks another and your shots go off in a totally different direction. Also, it makes it impossible to lead your targets when they are moving, as Kyle always aims at where they are at that moment. It made fighting flying enemies a lot harder such as the Dark Troopers and Boba Fett.

It's a trap!

It's a trap!

Boy I remembered these things

Boy I remembered these things

Sneakin' up on some fool

Sneakin' up on some fool

Silly Imperial falls down the stairs

Silly Imperial falls down the stairs

How big was that bomb I just planted?

How big was that bomb I just planted?

Shooting a Stormtrooper in the nads

Shooting a Stormtrooper in the nads

I thought at first that the game seemed really easy, and I picked up enough spare lives to max out at 9. Then I got captured by Jabba the Hutt and had to fight his Krayt Dragon. I didn't think I was supposed to fight it hand to hand so instead I was running around trying to escape somehow. By the time I gave up and just punched the thing in the face a bunch, I had lost 5 lives and was down to 4. From that point on, the game became a lot more challenging, and included some shady level design such as placing sneaky enemies waiting to ambush you as you go up elevators and such. My lives were slowly whittled away and I only had two remaining when I went against final boss General Mohc. Luckily, that guy gave me no trouble compared to his Dark Trooper underlings, and I was able to pull out the win.

Pretty damn stoked to have finally finished this game, as it's one of a handful that have hung over my head for years. It also means that I've completed the entire Jedi Knight series featuring Kyle, at long last. Cool.

Can Stormtroopers even piss in that armour?

Can Stormtroopers even piss in that armour?

Probably the most frustrating part of the game

Probably the most frustrating part of the game

Putting Boba Fett down

Putting Boba Fett down

This conveyor belt system is where I got to in the 90s

This conveyor belt system is where I got to in the 90s

Duelling with a Dark Trooper

Duelling with a Dark Trooper

Mohc gets smoked

Mohc gets smoked

It's been quite a long time since I first tried Star Trek Fleet Ops, but just recently had another little hankering for it. I remember not really liking this mod when I first played it a few years ago, I think due to it not seeming like something that should be played single player.
For no other reason than just to check it out again, I did some skirmishes that unsurprisingly left me feeling exactly the same way about it. If I put on limited resources, the AI can build ships way faster than me. But if I use unlimited resources, I can go straight for big ships which the AI just doesn't do for some reason, and it's too easy.
Oh well.

Taking out a Borg enemy

Taking out a Borg enemy

The Dominion put up a fight

The Dominion put up a fight

Chaos ensues as me and my Fed allies take on six opponents

Chaos ensues as me and my Fed allies take on six opponents

25th August 2018: The Slow Burn

As much as I wanted 2018 to be big on tabletop gaming, it feels instead like it's been more of a slow burn so far. There's been progress on many fronts, like painting and rules writing, and for many games, like Super Dungeon, Epic, Blood Bowl and 40K, but all of the progress has been slow. Speaking of 40K, 8th edition looks like it's finally going to get some attention now we're done with our Blood Bowl league, so hopefully that all goes well. Picking an army in 8th looks like a bit of a chore though, so I've created a new spreadsheet for my Marines to make it much easier.

Pretty much all year I've been itching to update some of the photos for my painted models. With the recent completion of my 40K Marines and 6mm Nurgle, I was able to take advantage of some free time to get snapping. The 6mm Khorne army isn't quite there yet, but is very close, with just the Daemon Engines to paint.

I was hoping that with the two light setup these images would be a lot better than they've turned out. I guess they are better than the old ones, but my camera is pretty shitty. It does weird things, and is not consistent with its colour, even in a consistent lighting situation. Stupid thing.

It was interesting to see all my 40K Marines set out together for the first time since I finished painting them, but I can't believe the army looks so small considering it's been about 25 years since I started to collect it. Still, at least they're all painted, which is far more than can be said for any of my other armies.

Storm Tigers Space Marines Army

Storm Tigers Space Marines Army

Storm Tigers Captains

Storm Tigers Captains

Storm Tigers Chaplains

Storm Tigers Chaplains

Storm Tigers Librarians

Storm Tigers Librarians

Storm Tigers Apothecaries & Techmarines

Storm Tigers Apothecaries & Techmarines

Storm Tigers Terminators

Storm Tigers Terminators

Storm Tigers Veterans

Storm Tigers Veterans

Storm Tigers Assault Marines

Storm Tigers Assault Marines

Storm Tigers Devastator Marines

Storm Tigers Devastator Marines

Storm Tigers Scouts

Storm Tigers Scouts

Storm Tigers Land Raiders & Dreadnought

Storm Tigers Land Raiders & Dreadnought

Nurgle Army

Nurgle Army

Mortarion and his Death Guard Legion

Mortarion and his Death Guard Legion

Nurgle Plague Tower and Plaguebearers

Nurgle Plague Tower and Plaguebearers

Nurgle Titans

Nurgle Titans

Last Christmas I received the DC Deck Building game, which we've managed to play a few games of this year and quite enjoyed. The trouble is, both me and Scoob have an issue with the game, which is that it's PvP, which really doesn't make any sense considering you all play as DC heroes who are trying to beat the super villains.

Over the past couple of months, Scoob and I have worked on a couple of little ideas, trying to make the game co-op, and to an extent, we got it to work. However, it makes many of the cards either unusable or makes them require some serious errata to make them fit in to how we want it to play.

Even reading about, and taking some inspiration from, "Crisis Mode", which is an official co-op version of the game, as well as another fan-made co-op mode, didn't really help our cause.

I think, in the end, we have given up on this little venture. Instead, we are looking at picking up the Marvel Legendary game, which does what we want, even if it seems really pricey just for a bunch of cards. Still, the DC Deck Building game will work well on games nights when we want some PvP, and I think it will be very interesting to try it as a team vs team game, which should work with very few rule changes.

Me and Scoob running through some deck building ideas

Me and Scoob running through some deck building ideas

Some house rules that do look like they're going to work are those for my version of Super Dungeon Explore. Just recently, I got Scoob to try them out for the first time. He seemed pretty into it, and throughout the game we managed to iron out a few more wrinkles. It always helps my rules writing when I can get another pair of eyes on them, and I think that once I've done the behaviours for all of the monsters (I've got so many now, gulp), the basic rules will be finished at last.

Scoob tries out my rules for the first time

Scoob tries out my rules for the first time

11th August 2018: Rules Are Made To Be Fixed

I can't believe it's taken us 29 months to play 15 games of Blood Bowl, but finally our latest league is finished. Phew. To begin with it was a really hard league for me, but it started to turn around near the end, and I won 3 of my last 4 games, including leading the dwarf team The Grog Guzzlers to the title in the deciding, last match of the league. I'd have preferred to have done better with the Crocoviles, who were my dedicated team in that competition, but I guess third isn't bad after how I started.

To read about all the drama, the pdf is fully updated.

As far as Blood Bowl games going forward, there really doesn't seem to be much desire to play it in my little group right now, so it's unlikely there'll be more games any time soon. Though that might give me the chance to try something I've wanted to do for a while, which is something I'm calling the Blood Bowl ERL, or Experimental Rules League. In this, I just want to try different house rules to see if I can speed up the game and balance the teams a bit better. I'd also like the game to not punish bad dice rolls so much, but instead punish bad play. Because lets face it, if Nuffle is not on your side, there's nothing you can do in that game no matter how good you play, and that's just stupid.
I've already got a whole page of ideas that I want to try, if I can ever get around to it.

For the past couple of weeks I've put in quite a bit of work on my Super Dungeon rules, after I finally found a copy of 1st edition on ebay and got really motivated again. I'm now on the 5th version of my rules, and most of the changes for this one are in an effort to make the game even faster. The main change is that I've thrown out buffs and debuffs, so their counters are no longer needed, and there are less things to remember. The changes have definitely made it faster and easier, and I feel at last like I'm on the right track.
Of course, if I get these working I'll have to make a full, advanced rule set which adds all these things back in, for when we want to punish ourselves with a much longer game.

In regards to the 1st edition version of the game, I'm actually quite disappointed in a lot of the models. The sculpts are just not as good as those from the Forgotten King set. I don't know how clear it is in the picture here, but the 1st edition model (left) does not have the clear details of the F.K. model, and is also covered in more mold lines.
Still, I really like the boards, even though they're not the same size, as there's just less junk on them to have to move and fight around.

For my playtesting, I've put together some simple wooden counters, in grey and green, for use as terrain. The game doesn't really need them, but sometimes it's easy to miss symbols on the board (especially on games nights when drink is involved) and these just make it easier to see things the heroes are supposed to move around.

I may have been buying more things...

I may have been buying more things...

Beta 4 to 5 behaviour sheet change

Beta 4 to 5 behaviour sheet change

Model comparison

Model comparison

Terrain thingies

Terrain thingies

5th beta in action

5th beta in action

5th August 2018: If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It

Hot on the heels of Party Hard, we just got through another game with old style pixel graphics. There sure are a lot of games that look like this out these days...

This one is very much inspired by 80s, side-scrolling beat-em-ups like Double Dragon and Streets Of Rage, and that is why Scoob in particular really wanted to try it. In the game, which is called Mother Russia Bleeds, players take control of several characters who have been imprisoned in an alternate history Russia, where they have been turned into test subjects for a new drug called Nekro.
It's up to the players to escape, overthrow the evil government, and break their addiction to the drug.

Man, this game was dark, brutal and bloody. You can beat the absolute snot out of the bad guys, and they you, and it was not uncommon to see people getting their limbs or heads blown off or cut off.

There were a few irritating parts, and none more so than the end boss. After taking out the government stooges, the characters experience a vivid hallucination where they must fight a representation of the Nekro drug. The fight takes place over three progressively more frustrating stages. It probably took us 20-25 attempts to beat this guy on normal difficulty, until on the last try, everything just clicked into place and we took him down in very short order.

Overall, the gameplay was fairly solid, and probably the best game of this type I can remember playing. Not that I've played all that many, mind. As for the story though, it was pretty much your typical affair, with only the addition of the drug addiction making it stand out as anything different.

Mostly a fun game though, and one we were glad to have played.

I do my trademark slide tackle

I do my trademark slide tackle

Scoob lets rip with a chainsaw

Scoob lets rip with a chainsaw

Scoob cheers me on as I slide tackle

Scoob cheers me on as I slide tackle

Getting a chain to the face

Getting a chain to the face

Smacking a mutated bear with a steel girder

Smacking a mutated bear with a steel girder

Scoob prevents the villainous leader from escaping

Scoob prevents the villainous leader from escaping

End boss throws his dirty syringes at us

End boss throws his dirty syringes at us

Giving the end boss a beatdown

Giving the end boss a beatdown

Yay, we got a statue

Yay, we got a statue

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