Heavy Gear Blitz L&L is the latest and greatest incarnation of the Heavy Gear tactical miniatures game. This version is an improved version of the original “Blitz!” ruleset, tweaked based on playtest and fan feedback over about a year of playing. It also includes updated versions of the 3 faction books, so this book is all you need (in addition to the minis, of course). The deluxe version (one I have) is in full color, the “normal” version has some color pages but is mostly B&W.
Having read the rules but not having played any games yet: the rules seem to be a nice balance between tactical options and speed of play. I’m mostly clear on how the game works, though I’d have to re-read the sections on Indirect Fire, Concealment and such before actually trying it out. With any luck, I’ll be able to coax some local players into running a demo/tutorial game, at Ropecon if nowhere else.
I’m currently planning a Paxton/PRDF 1000 TV force, based on some feedback I’ve gotten on the DP9 Blitz forum. I recently ordered some Gear minis for it from Noble Knight, and am waiting for the Coyote tankstrider minis to be available (sometime later this month) for the big(ger) guns. After that, I need to get me some paints and modeling tools, and start learning the construction + paint thing. Scary.
With the disclaimer that I have extremely limited experience with wargames in general, and that I haven’t actually played this yet: this seems to be a pretty solid ruleset, with lots of cool options, flavor and tactics. Looking forward to trying it out.
Lots of anticipated indie rpgs (or supplements) are suddenly popping up. Maybe it’s the influence of Origins and the upcoming Gencon, or maybe it’s just synchronicity.
First off, John Wick’s eagerly-anticipated “anti-D&D” game Houses of the Blooded is finally on its way to the printers, and us preorder people got our PDFs last night. There’s no way I can give any sort of impression on the thing yet, it’s 400+ pages and I’ll probably wait to seriously read it via the print copy, when it arrives. There’s something very cool about this game, the “fictious myth as history” attitude that’s embedded in it and the general “everything that is true in D&D is not true here” thing. It looks complex, it looks like something I need to run at some point.
The second event, also last night, was the “Burning Wheel Summer Surprise”, which turned out to be the (very!) long-anticipated Magic Burner book. A 200-copy run of preorders, signed and numbered, went on sale last night at about 23:00 Finnish time – and the burningwheel.org server promptly melted. I don’t think Luke and the guys quite anticipated the demand here. After over an hour of retries and re-refreshes, I finally managed to place an order for a copy (plus a spiffy limited-run shirt). The run sold out sometime during the night, so if you didn’t get a copy you’ll have to wait until the normal print run goes on sale and have to do without a signed copy of the book. The pain, the pain…
There’s also Don’t Lose Your Mind (a Don’t Rest Your Head expansion) coming up, in addition to Dreadful Secrets of Candlewick Manor and Curriculum of Conspiracy (add-ons for the uber-cool Monsters and Other Childish Things). It’s a good time to be a gamer.
Criminal Histories is a small pure-crunch supplement for Paranoia XP – in a way it’s a rules plug-in module, replacing the stock character background stuff in the core book with a ton of table-driven goodness. In a classic Paranoia game character backgrounds didn’t really matter since clones died so fast, but with the new “Straight” gameplay mode characters might even (gasp) survive a game or two and get an opportunity to utilize background resources. Even when playing in more classic mode, the expanded backgrounds give the GM lots of new ways to get the characters in trouble, and for them to stab each other in the back.
In essence, this is 60+ pages of tables which help you quickly generate the “past life” of a Paranoia character. What did they do before they were promoted (or demoted, as may be) to Troubleshooter status? What enemies did they make along the way? Did they actually learn some useful extra skills along the way? This book will tell you, without needing any of that nasty “GM improvisation” stuff (that sounds like “work”, and “work” is something Paranoia GMs should avoid).
I’d use this if I were to run a game of Paranoia, no question. It provides lots of extra detail for little extra effort, and can give you (as the GM) evil extra ideas.
The Demon Within (by Stephen S. Greer and Tim Hitchcock) continues Paizo’s “D” series of modules, focusing on dungeon crawls and such. While those can be tiresome combatfests (and this one does have a lot of combat), here it’s thankfully not the only content. There’s an actual plot, and a pretty interesting one at that.
Presented is an order of knights who stand vigil over the “Worldwound”, a demon-infested wasteland. An ancient artifact (what else?) has kept the demons at bay, but now the demons have discovered a weakness in the defenses and are preparing to invade. Guess who gets to visit the place just as the demons attack? Right. No surprises there.
There’s a lot to like here. NPC motivations are key to several things, there are quite a few important non-combat encounters, and in general there is more a sense of plot than the usual “go to this dungeon and get the loot”. I’m not even sure if “D” is a fitting classification for this module… but be that as may, this is good stuff (assuming you’re ok with a lot of combat, too).
Seven Days to the Grave, by F. Wesley Schneider, continues the “Curse of the Crimson Throne” adventure path. The city of Korvosa is slowly adjusting to the change in rulers, when a new danger appears: a deadly disease which kills in about seven days (thus the title), with an extremely high fatality rate. Where did the disease come from, and why is nobody able to do much about it? Naturally enough, it falls on the PCs to figure things out.
A good continuation to the adventure path, this chapter features a wide variety of encounters and situations (like the first part). It retains the small problem of “how do I get the PCs involved in all this”, but it’s assumed the GM has figured out a way after running part one – the default scenario has the PCs involved via the town guard, perhaps being a part of it themselves. If your game has a different setup, be prepared to do a bit of extra work in setting things up. As before, it’s assumed the PCs have some reason to stay in town (patriotism, personal ties, etc) and not just get the hell out of a plague city – otherwise this chapter will prove to be very short indeed.
Not much to fault here, the adventure part of the book(let) is very good and the other chapters are also good reading. This chapter gets extra points for being the first semi-serious look (that I’ve seen) at how large-scale plagues would work in a fantasy environment which has things like Cure Disease – and for providing lots of reasons why magic alone won’t save the day. So far, this adventure path is shaping up to be quite excellent.
One of the things I like about most of Paizo’s adventures is that they don’t all automatically assume that things will be resolved via combat – a common failing of all so many D&D adventures.
Oh boy. This is all too accurate (and funny): Killjoy Cooking With the Dungeons & Dragons Crowd (from Wired).
Very nice weekend, Teemu & Tuukka organized a repetition of last year’s VTES miniqualifier tournament weekend – in other words, 2 days of VTES tournament and casual play, with beer, sauna and the option to swim in the sea. Huge amount of fun, and the sea wasn’t that cold anymore… at least not after enough alcohol in the bloodstream, to keep things lubricated.
Did poorly in the first day’s tournament, but that was no big surprise; I was playing my Daughters anarch voter, which isn’t really a tournament deck (I’ve been forced to conclude). When it works it works great, but it can and will fail in so many ways. In other words, it’s much too fragile. Had fun playing, though, and the casual games in the evening were entertaining also. Tuomas went on to win the first day tournament with his Mind Rape + Tupdog deck (which he in vain tried to claim wasn’t actually a Mind Rape + Tupdog deck).
Second day went much better, I tried out my newish Osebo combat toolbox and it did surprisingly well. After a table sweep and some extra VPs, I make it to the finals. Things actually looked pretty good there for a while, but then I ran out of intercept and Tuukka’s Malks swept over me. Was largely my own fault, I fouled up by transferring out the wrong vampire by mistake; if I had gotten the rush-capable Massassi out (as intended), things might have gone differently. Oh well. In any case, I was pleasantly suprised by the performance of that deck, even though it has lots of weak points. Need more Preternatural Strength (doesn’t everyone?)…
The last tournament round ended in a draw, with Tuomas and Tuukka both betting 2 VPs and Jukka getting one – but Tuukka got tournament win due to higher preliminary round totals. Score one more for the old-school Malks (though Tuukka’s deck didn’t use Dominate and was a pretty interesting take on the Malk S+B concept).
I think I’ll dismantle most of my current decks (barring the Osebo one and a Toreador one I’m working on) and build up some new ones with ideas I’ve been gathering.
Well, after having run a few (kinda sorta) Delta Green one shot scenarios, I’ve now finally gotten around to reading the core book. I was pretty familiar with the general game/world setup before, having read all the DG novels and short stories – but still, this was very much worth reading. I can easily understand why people went “whoah!” when this was first published, and why the original print run sold out: this is Cthulhu updated to the modern age, dripping with conspiracy, paranoia and a sense of doom. The whole tone here is “push back the darkness one more day”, and it picks up a lot of cues from cold war spy stories. Burned-out people trying to keep themselves alive and sane by whatever means necessary, fighting an invisible war that most other people around them are (happily) blind to.
The basic tone and setup is reminiscent of The X-Files (though frequently much grimmer), but it’s not a copy; Delta Green preceeded X-Files by about a year, and was born from the writers wanting a modern Cthulhu game in which the PCs actually had a reason to stick together.
This new edition of the game is hardbound and is double-statted for BRP/d20, but it otherwise identical to the original as far as I know. It contains info on the basic game setup and details on the main groups, most of which are hostile to Delta Green. The second half of the book contains three scenarios: the startup scenario Puppet Shows and Shadow Plays, the (in)famously deadly Convergence, and a longer mini-campaign titled The New Age. All are very good, though I’d hesistate to run Convergence other than as a one-shot, it’s ridiculouly dangerous even for a Cthuhu scenario and should result in an extremely likely total party kill (not “possible”, but “almost certain”). You have been warned.
The book ends up with a big infodump on U.S. government agencies (I had no idea there were so many, the alphabet soup here can make your head spin). Extremely nice detail if you want to add a degree of realistic detail to your game, and should be useful as a resource for other games, too.
There have been some claims that Delta Green doesn’t really work in the post-9/11 U.S., with the tighter scrutiny on federal agency ops and anti-terrorist paranoia which makes a cell operation like Delta Green look precisely like a terrorist operation. Which it is, in many regards. I’m not sure about all that – government agencies are massive things with typically low efficiencies and lots of obfuscation and layers, it doesn’t strain my sense of disbelief to have “shadow ops” still going on under official pretenses. Also, some have said that the X-Files/UFO elements of DG are “outdated”… and I’m not sure I agree on that, either. The Grey/MJ-12 thing is only one small part of the game, and the fact that terrorists have replaced UFOs in the public landscape doesn’t mean that you can’t still use UFO mythology. It might be even more effective in a game, now, since we’re well past the X-Files boom.
In short: I don’t really see any problems in running Delta Green set in a modern U.S. – and if you do happen to have a problem, you can always set your game in pre-9/11 times. Problem solved. I’ve gotten the impression that a “New Millennium” DG sourcebook is one idea the writers have been bouncing around, so we might even get an “official” version of the “DG in 2000s” thing some day.
This is a truly excellent book, and its reputation of being one of the best game expansion books ever published is well-deserved. The amount of new, weird and disturbing ideas here is off the scale, it’s a magic blend of Cthulhu, film noir, Cold War spy stories, X-Files and many other ingredients. I can’t really recommend this book and game highly enough.
We had the “postrelease” tournament for the new Twilight Rebellion VTES set on Saturday. I’ve always found pre/postrelease tournaments a lot of fun, and this was no exception – about 20 players, and lots of new cards to try to figure out. We made decks from 5 drafted Anarchs boosters plus 5 drafted Twilight Rebellion boosters, so it was a low-resource game for everyone. No pool gain, very limited intercept, etc. Tuomas took the tournament win once again, with Tuukka coming in second place, proving that some people are just better players than others. No surprise there.
The set looks solid. Lots of powerful cards for the Anarchs, just what they’ve needed in order to be tournament-level viable. The balance looks good; while there are some very powerful cards in there, they also have suitable restrictions; I didn’t spot any immediate this-will-become-a-problem cases yet. We’ll see, once people start building decks from these. It becomes legal for tournament play on June 27th.
Sunday was a lazy day, which was nice and much-needed. We had one of our semi-regular movie weekends, with some people coming over to watch stuff with the theme “virtual realities” – which meant Matrix, The 13th Floor and ExistenZ. I’d seen all three before, but they stood up well to second (or third) viewings. Read a bit, ate lots of good cabbage soup, did some more Rails coding… nice and relaxing.
We finally managed to run a session of Exalted last Sunday, after some scheduling difficulties. The characters, now in the Northern trapper town of Wangler’s Knob, did some expected things (talk with the locals, set out for the even-farther North) and some slightly unexpected ones (ambushed a Dragonblood expedition in the middle of the snowy wilderness). It was a logical (if ruthless) thing to do, and it was great – the fight was the biggest one we’ve had yet, and Khamyn met the limits of his invulnerability for the first time; I was pretty sure he was a goner for a small while there. It was tight, they were facing 9 skilled Wood Aspects plus their retinue. It was also great because of the moral problems it caused and will cause – since they were the ones attacking without warning in the middle of the night, supported by a demon horde (yes, really)… who exactly are the bad guys here? The fact that the target Dragonbloods had actually been quite pleasant to the characters previously adds some fuel to that fire. While it was a bit unexpected (I expected potential violence, but at a different time and place), storywise this was good. The massive fight ate up much of the playtime, but it also gave us a chance to practice the combat mechanics.
Outside that version of Creation, real-life swordplay has involved a lot less flashy gymnastics and a lot more old-fashioned sweat and repetition of basic moves. My heel, which was giving me serious problems last Wednesday and Thursday, has apparently healed; good, since tendon/joint pains are something that I’m extremely wary of. Tuesday’s basic training went well, and yesterday’s rapier also. While tiring and sweaty, rapier didn’t kill my arm too badly this time round. Maybe some little strength is returning, an iota at a time.