Archive for February, 2013

You leave no alternative but Peace

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

So I got to, nay had to, shout this today, in my most enraged voice, during the 40k Campaign meeting. You may already know this, but the “motto” of Warhammer 40k is In the Grim Darkness of the Far Future there is only WAR. We are playing a 40k campaign at the store, and I’m playing Tau. Every race has a special rule, and my rule is each turn I can “diplomacize” one opponent, who then can not attack me or otherwise wreck my shit. Of course, I’m not allowed to do this to the same person twice in a row. I really only have one opponent to worry about, “The Northern Alliance”, a vile collaboration between Necrons and Grey Knights. Space is tight, and planets grow scarce. We were discussing the possibility of them breaking their alliance, or other changes to the political situation, and complaining about not being able to attack me. I offered several possible, mutually beneficial outcomes, to Ryan, but none were deemed acceptable, so I roared, “Then you leave no alternative but Peace!” It’s was pretty epic.


Un Lun Dun

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013


So it seems like only last week I was ranting about how pretentious and unaccessible Mieville is. I recant nothing, but at least with Un Lun Dun, it’s ostensibly a children’s book, so you’ll probably only have trouble reading the book if you’re a kid. I’ve also ranted in the past about authors who neologise (I can’t believe Chrome doesn’t think that’s a word.) without a real need. Enders is probably the worst offender in this case, making up shit left and right when we already had perfectly good words for it. On the other hand, you have all kinds of invented words in Un Lun Dun, and it all ties together with the fiction and makes sense. And there are tons of words, from the dozen different smog denizens, to Unbrellas (broken umbrellas), to the Wordhoard (Mieville’s take on Orpheous’s library), and more. So much more. Yet somehow he manages to pull it off, and every neologism fits into the story.

As a word of warning, there are a few spoilers coming up, but I won’t spoil anything super important, so I encourage you to keep reading anyways. So pretty early on the main character gets memory wiped, and her “trusty sidekick” has to step in and take over. The prophecy was wrong, things don’t work out “as written”, and there’s no guarantee of a happy ending. In fact, shortly before this happened I was kind of disappointed because of the reveal that there was a chosen one, and a prophecy, and let’s be honest, that’s a trope that’s been investigated almost to death. In main stream fiction, I can’t think of the last time that trope was subverted. In fact, the only thing I can really think of is my friend Aaron’s D&D campaign where the party wasn’t the heroes, rather we were a group of adventures who went out to try and save the world after the “big damn heroes” messed up the prophecy and the end of the world started proper. The occasional bit in Un Lon Don where the prophecy comes up again, and is wrong, or slightly off was quite entertaining.

All told this was a quite fun romp into the “Alternate world right next door” fantasy. If you liked Narnia or The Golden Compass, you should probably add this too your to-do list.

King of Tokyo

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013


King of Tokyo

King of Tokyo is a great, simple, quick dice game. It’s got a bit of a strategic element, a bit of luck, and bit of needing to know when to quit while you’re ahead. I’ve only played one game so far, and I was killed (second) but I’m still pretty keen on the game.

Basically each player is a giant monster of some kind, intent on become King of Tokyo. To do this you’ll have to fight other monsters. Each turn you roll 6 dice. Triples on 1s, 2s and 3s will give you Victory points (you need 20 to win), Lightning symbols give you energy which you can buy upgrades and events, and monster prints lets you attack. Finally there are Hearts which will heal you (though not above the 10 HP you start with. The first monster to deal damage goes to Tokyo. After that if you are in Tokyo you deal damage to all of the monsters outside it, and vice versa. Also, while you’re in Tokyo you gain VP each turn, and can’t heal. When someone hits you though, you can let them take over Tokyo (though you still take the damage). Blake and I both died in the game, and it was due to staying King of the Hill for too long.

The powerups you can buy give a nice twist to the game, and in fact Will won our game with a “turtle” strategy where he got VPs for NOT attacking thanks to becoming an herbivore.

LPX2 Operation Twisted Tears

Monday, February 25th, 2013

May 9


The scientists are excited to interrogate the live specimen we’ve captured. We should have a few satellites ready soon, as well as improved laboratory facilities for our scientists. Funding continues to be an issue. However the sale of the products of our research is netting us a little side business. Additionally we’ve been tasked with saving an important politician, who has been captured by some aliens. The Skyranger has been upgraded with 6 seats, and so on this mission we’ll be sending: Captain Will (Sniper), Lt. Billy ‘Viking’ (Assault), Sq. Duncan and Rookies Matthew H., Jess G., and Patrick.

William Thorne is pinned down in Mexico. Turns out he’s not actually a hostage, but apparently he’s been in collusion with the aliens. HQ wants him brought in for “questioning”. He’s making protestations of his innocence, if that’s the case, he should be happy to come with us, as there is a definite alien presence. Two Thin Men are spotted almost immediately.

Will M. moves to the roof and tosses out a battle scanner to pin down the location of the two x-rays. With their location on everyone’s HUDs Billy moves up and takes one down from cover, and Jess moves up and unloads on the other, taking it out, and not even bothering to find cover. Billy moves closer and spots another Thin Man, but can’t draw a bead. The rest of the squad moves up, keeping Mr. Thorne under close observation, but guns ready for the remaining x-rays that are surely hidden in ambush ahead.

Two aliens break cover, more Thin Men, and one manages to hit Jess. Duncan tries to get to better cover, but also takes a shot, however his return fire puts the alien out of commission. Will takes the second one out from the roof across the street. Jess moves up and patches herself up. Patrick breaks cover and fixes Duncan’s wounds. Matthew moves up and takes point while the squad regroups and heals.

Another Thin Man drops in literally, landing on top of Will’s sniping position.  It’s a miracle Will was not hit, and who got the kill is kind of up in the air as 3 people were on Overwatch and unloaded on the alien almost before it even realized it’s mistake. Matthew takes out another, giving Mr. Thorne time to get aboard the Skyranger. Will’s last battle scanner detects another pair of Thin Men inside a building near the extraction point, and command suggest we take them down before finishing evac.

The squad quickly moves into position covering all of the exits. Duncan kicks in the door, and as planned the aliens flee out the back of the building where Will caps one with a single shot. Duncan, Jess and Billy all open fire on the remaining one, but only Billy’s bullets connect. With all aliens down, the possible traitor in custody and only two minor injuries this was a definite success!

A minor descent

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Previous Page (B14). This is page B147 of the Barbarian Story. This is your second life (the Troll Story ended poorly.) If you are confused go back to the start. If you want a different story make poor choices until you die or excellent choices until you win.

As you prepare to descend, on the floor behind the desk you see a small metal knife. It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing, and the cold metal between your teeth is comforting as you begin descending the outside of the building. A quick look reveals the exterior of the building to be smooth, but there is a small vertical abutment to the right. A precarious leap and grab almost ends in tragedy, but you manage to grab both sides of the pillar, and it doesn’t really matter that you aren’t able to maintain a grip, you’re at least able to slow your fall and by the time you do lose your grip you are not far off the ground at all.

Many of the peasants have gathered outside milling around near an orderly grouping of boxes in a variety of colors. Several of them have gathered close to gawk at the corpse, but they flee in terror as you approach, several dropping shiny black magic boxes. Your defeated foe has little in the way of appropriate trophies. No horns or tusks. No bepoisened claws or venomous fangs. You settle for his ponytail which he was inordinately proud of. The knife you found turns out to be less sharp than any self respecting barbarian  would allow, and it takes almost a minute to cut the trophy free. As you stand you see flashes of light in the distance, and can hear the braying of some mournful beast approaching.

CHOICE (B147)1 Finally a worthy foe, I will wait and face it unarmed. Be it sorcerer or demon, I shall slay it.

CHOICE (B147)2 This knife is no weapon. I call up to one of the peasants staring from the bosses lair to throw down my axe.

CHOICE (B147)3 Surely there must be a weapon around here somewhere.

CHOICE (B147)4 Unarmed is no way to meet an unknown foe. I’ll see shelter until I know what new threat approaches.


I Podcast Magic Missile

Thursday, February 21st, 2013



So, we’ve only just started, but my Friday Gaming group has just gone live w/ our Podcast and Actual Play website:

There is a small amount of stuff up already, but here’s the deal: We’ve got two main kinds of content for now, both of which are in podcast format. Some of the shorter ones are just general gaming discussion, and we cover a broad range of topics, mostly related to gaming in one format or another. The second, longer type of post is Actual Plays from games. We’ve done two seasons of Apocalypse World, but sadly the first couple of sessions did not get recorded. We’ve also done quite a few “one-offs”, things like Vesna Thaw, Baron Munchausen, Fiasco (several times!), and much more. We’ve also just started a Monsterhearts campaign (which I’m running) which some of the APs from that will surely go up soon like.

Be warned there is cursing, and some adult content in the actual plays and discussion podcasts.

This is New York on Drugs

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013


I want to like Don Delillo. I want to like China Meiville. I some times have a hard time doing so. People are probably going to give me crap for this, but I feel like both writers can be pretentious for sake of being pretentious. Maybe my brain has been “normalized” by watching so much trashy Hollywood pap that I can’t maintain enough brainpower to properly appreciate the fictions they create. Maybe I was too busy playing games on my smart phone or taking over the universe on my computer to properly appreciate the nuanced human emotion and random sex happening throughout the movie. Or maybe everyone who likes them so much is trying to compensate for the fact that they didn’t really understand by proclaiming how awesome they are. I mean, if can’t understand it, it must be because it’s good and I’m dumb, not because it’s bad.

So, having watched the whole movie, and theoretically paid attention to most of it  (spoilers incoming)… I still am not sure what exactly the point was. Young, Wealthy, Sexy, Vampire spends all day driving across town to get a haircut. People come to entreat him, suffer verbal abuse from him, and/or have sex with him. There are riots, a funeral, live TV stabbings and general chaos throughout the day long trip. Lots of verbal sparring that probably seemed much more clever than it was. Or maybe it was clever, and the disaffected attitude everyone was copping turned me off.

I thought maybe, maybe,  things were going to get interesting when the riot happened… but no. He kills his bodyguard for no good, or discernible reason. He has a drawn out conversation with Paul Giamatti, which probably would have been the best part of the movie if it had even pretended to make sense. Basically this whole movie feels like a double fantasy… but not the good kind, no the kind where the fantasy is that the author is the main character (EG Mary Sueism) who is a wealthy wealthy person who is having a fantasy themselves about how awesome reality is for them, even when they’re desperately trying to destroy their own reality.

Basically I am disappoint. Maybe I’m a philistine, but I think I enjoyed Expendables 2 more, poor acting, bad acting and terrible acting, as well as the cheesy and poorly delivered one liners … I think it was still more fun than this one.

Who likes Skinner Boxes?

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013



So I “participate” in a bunch of skinner boxes. I keep going to work, and they keep giving me money which I can then use for food. That’s the main box. I also work a second job for which I’m rewarded with games. Fortunately most of those are board games or miniatures games, few (if any) of which can be described with this slightly pejorative moniker. On the other hand, I pretty much constantly have one skinner box on my phone. For a while it was Tiny Tower, or Pocket Planes, or Coin Dozer. Tiny Tower I beat … as in, there was almost literally nothing left for me to do in the game. I got every possible building, I had everyone working their dream job (with a 7 or higher rating out of 10 possible). Thing is, most skinner box style games don’t have a “win condition”. DragonVale, my current addiction, falls squarely into this. They add new dragons frequently, and some dragons can only be hatched at certain times.

I rather like DragonVale, which I’ll acknowledge is dangerous in and of itself. Here’s what I like, you get to raise and breed dragons. And they fly around on the screen in the game and slowly earn me money with which I can buy more areas in which I can raise more dragons. Of course, I need to feed my dragons so they’ll grow up… though once they’re fully grown you no longer need to feed them. In a way I’m kind of disappointed, because was such an onerous and repetitive a task required to play the game I probably would already have deleted it. Mostly though it’s hop on some time in the morning before work, harvest my money and food, see if I’ve got a new egg to hatch, or my breeding pair have produced a new egg … done. I’ll probably check again around lunch time, and then sometime in the evening as well… In general the game eats up about 15-30 minutes of my time each day. Not too bad for a skinner box.

Would I recommend this? Well, yes, especially if we’re friends on facebook, because then we can swap gems (the pay for it currency which you can slowly acquire through in game means as well). If you don’t deal well game addiction … well maybe this isn’t the right one for you. Especially if you’re already playing Pocket Planes, Farmeville and 7 other skinner box games.

LPX2 Operation Broken Crown

Monday, February 18th, 2013

April 23


We’ve been able to pull in a bit of extra funding by selling some weapon fragments to Brazil at an exorbitant price. Autopsies on the alien corpses we’ve recovered continue to yield useful information. We’ve started construction on an

Alien Containment facility, though of course once that is complete we’ll have to try and capture a live alien for the scientists to study.

With the end of the month fast approaching, we’ve promised the UK, France and Russia additional protection, and launched satellites to aide in that. Japan is near the tipping point, but we’re already offering them as much protection as we can.

The monthly report is in, and the Council has only given us a B this month, but we’ve got $550 in funding, and hopefully can expand the base and build some better armor for our troops.

The largest UFO we’ve detected yet has been pinpointed crossing into the northern Russian border. Everything in range has been scrambled to intercept. The first Raven to arrive barely scratched the beast and was nearly destroyed. A second did little better. While we’ve ordered 4 more Ravens, they won’t be operational  for hours yet. This bogey is going to get away.

May 9

Expansion of the facility continues apace, the aliens have been quiet for almost a week since the last big ship got away. It couldn’t last though, and three more abduction sites have been detected in Baltimore, Kolkata and Brasilia. Civilian panic is highest in India so we are going to go there first even though it looks to be the most difficult to contain.

James has volunteered to try and capture a live one and is taking one of our Arc Throwers for it’s first field test. Joanna will be leading the mission and  has selected Laura H., Wendy and Will for their Heavy, Support and Sniping skills.

The incursion area is a fairly thin corridor around a butcher’s shop, so the squad splits i

n two in the hopes of flanking the aliens. Near the end of the block Will moves to the roof to get a better vantage point and accidentally flushes two pairs of Aliens, 2 Thin Men and 2 Sectoids. Joanna moves up and takes one of the Thin Men down promptly.  Wendy and James both fire on the second, and James wings it, but it flees farther away before they can finish it off.

Two Sectoids scuttle right between James and Wendy apparently oblivious. Wendy unloads on one, and James falls back to flank and finish off the second. Will tosses a Battle Scanner out, and a pair of Floaters mistaking it for a grenade fly right into Joanna and Laura’s position. Laura takes one down, and Wendy flanks and dispatches the other. The remaining Thin Man shows itself, Will misses, but distracts it long enou
gh for Laura to unload on it.

A pair of new aliens, bulky and wearing heavy armor show up. Well, the scientists will be pleased at least, especially if we can bring one in alive. Wendy moves up to the roof to engage the new aliens, and hits one dead on, it makes an intimidating roar and she panics, grabbing the closest cover she can find, sadly it is not enough; both aliens unload a fusillade of plasma shots killing her. Then one of them jumps through the skylight and manages to tag Joanna from behind as she was making her way to the stairs up. Laura starts unloading with suppression fire on it, but even that is not enough distraction for Joanna to return fire successfully, but she does clip the alien a few times before she runs out of ammo. James throws caution to the wind and runs up to try and stun the alien. Thankfully, the alien goes down.

The other alien manages to hit Joanna through the skylight. She goes down, but if we can get medical attention to her, it might be possible to stabilize her condition. Laura does so and then moves to the stairwell. James trades fire with the alien, and both get injured, then it jumps down and charges after Laura, shooting her until she is also unconscious. James unloads on the alien, but it just won’t go down. Will runs up, and puts 2 shots into it with his pistol, finally taking it out.

Our fallen now number three, and Wendy’s name and record join Caitlin and Dave’s on the Memorial Wall.

Rk. Dave: 0 Kills; 1 Mission; 3/2/15

Sq. Caitlin: 3 Kills; 3 Missions; 4/23/15

Lt. Wendy ‘Stacks’: 12 Kills; 8 Missions; 6/9/15


Friday, February 15th, 2013

Previous Page (B1). This is page B14 of the Barbarian Story. This is your second life (the Troll Story ended poorly.) If you are confused go back to the start. If you want a different story make poor choices until you die or win.

Pathetic! That was not satisfying at all. Your foot went through the door and that was the first problem. On the bright side it did connect solidly with the bosses back. You heard a gratifying crunch, which was probably him colliding with his desk, and then a great crashing sound as if a thousand wine glasses had smashed at once.

Once you’d extracted your foot from the door, wrenched the doorknob off and shouldered your way into the room it was obvious what had happened.  A few shards of glass lie upon the floor but most landed outside, two stories below on, and around the still form of the boss. Halfway across the room the desk has tipped over from where your kick sent the boss tumbling into, and over it, and thence through the window to his demise.

You feel momentarily deflated, your rightful ire gone with the sudden and boring demise of your foe. Now what?

CHOICE (B14)7 Climb down the outside of the building and search the corpse.

CHOICE (B14)8 Return to the cube farm and find someone to question.

CHOICE (B14)9 Find another way down.