Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Artwork Rescue Rangers!

Welcome back! Thank you for your patience.

Another week has passed all too quickly and the news on our layout man’s health remains pretty much the same – he is on the mend. I suppose I should have prompted him to offer some tidbits courtesy of his sweetie, but there is enough on the table this week to fill the column, and besides, he needs his rest.

So do I, but for another reason. I have recently been blessed with overtime; in a time when most of us give thanks that we actually have jobs and can pay the bills, I have been given a rare opportunity. So it has been very long days where the only time I see my son is when I drive him to school. But the work is absorbing and agreeable, and my coworkers have become easier to get along with. So the hours pass quickly, and then the days and the weeks.

Chasing Down Errant Art

Meanwhile, what little time I have left is devoted to tracking down errant sources of art (the original, not the stuff I got from Vlad), emailing their creators and asking if they will consent to sell the piece in black and white format. To their credit (and my great good luck), three have.

After settling this down, I then go out to contact the artists who will:

- replace ‘Mechs inspired by an artist known as simpleJay, aka Insidious. This fellow resides in New Zealand, and while his art is excellent, his attitude towards my requests is decidedly not. He will not respond to any notes or emails, so I have decided the work derived from his originals will have to be completely replaced. It’s no small matter – we have three pieces ‘inspired’ by his work that are inferior to the original. I would like Eriance to have a go at these, but one (the White Knight) has already been commissioned to Jake [prdarkfox of deviantArt] and is in the sketch stage. I hope this fellow is capable of delivering; time will tell. Ian Stead is back on the job and working on at least one commisson, possibly two.

- replace vehicles which have crossed the line. There are eight so far; two have been acquired from the original artists, who redid the works in question and (in my humble opinion) did a much better job. Daniel Cherng recently re-appeared, and after discussing the matter, agreed to take on one of the vehicles which needs re-doing. Hopefully he will stick around long enough this time to finish the work! I attempted once more to get in touch with Lee Madison, who has created several fine pieces for the TRO, but so far there has been no response to my email.

- create background art for the pieces which are CG-rendered. It isn’t possible to add the charm of hand-drawn lines to these pieces any other way except by surrounding them with suitable backdrops. Bill is presently working on the background for one piece with more to follow if his initial work is suitable. He has the advantage of being local, but the disadvantage of being more of a fantasy artist. His technical work has the usual problems with perspective. There is also a young lady on deviantArt who has agreed to work on a background piece, but her efforts will have to wait a bit until she is finished with studies for the year.

As you can see, there is quite a bit of work to do. Ryan is presently chasing down the remaining vehicle art sources and it may be another week before he is through. I fully expect to find that at least another six pieces will require replacement. Hopefully that will be all.

The Offending Art… or Some of It

And now I have a question for all of you readers out there. Examine the following images and tell me true: would you accept these as illustrations for the TRO if you knew they were so closely derived from the original sources?

I really need to know because right now we have to put more funds into the art. I need to know what is acceptable and what is not. Up until now the issue has been clear: if it looks like the art we have is a tracing of the original, I can’t use it. You have no idea how many of the original ‘Mechs I have rejected because of this. The vehicles too. But now it seems there are more to be replaced. I will gladly pay for it but it will take longer.

Meanwhile… I have a source who is checking on the feasibility of an established game company perhaps lining us up with a printer. We will see.

In a way, this has happened at an opportune time. I mean, with the unavoidable delay caused by our layout man’s illness, we actually have a chance to address this stuff before it hits the PDF. Of course, I will have to go back to the credits page and start punching in some new names…

Catalyst Games…

Okay, I will stop beating Frank Trollman. You all know where I stand on that, but the guy is the only one with the inside dope on what is happening with the company. Of course, I still have to filter what he says, but darned if it doesn’t look like there is an issue concerning the number of actual people with a vested interest in the parent company, InMediaRes. Some of the company’s BT-related works are finally seeing the light of day, but it’s said these were already in the pipeline and were waiting on payment of a printing bill before they were released. Whether or not any more see the shelf at your local hobby shop remains to be seen. I should think that Coleman and company are funneling what funds they have left to their lawyers.

By all reports, these fellows are busy earning their keep in court. It’s troubling that Coleman and his cohorts may not be brought to justice with a lawsuit over selling ‘shares’ which had no value, but I trust in the IRS to see to that eventually. Right now no one is willing to bring that suit, but they may change their minds when Uncle Sugar comes calling with a bill for income they never received.

At this point I am fairly confident that InMediaRes and Catalyst Games are down for the count. Despite their desperate attempts to raise cash through sales of PDF-based ‘goodies’, it is only a matter of time before the funds run out. And I don’t think their lawyers (unlike many of the poor freelancers) are going to accept an IOU. There are currently two company audits going on. I think the nail in the coffin will arrive when the extent of any financial malfeasance (and piss-poor bookkeeping) finally comes to light. And it will.

I am positive the license (and the game) will continue. Whether it does in the hands of the current regime is up for grabs, but I cannot see many freelancers willing to do business with CGL after what has happened. Several of the Shadowrun writers have publicly stated they will never do business with Coleman and his crew again, and it’s possible there are some BT writers/artists in the mix as well.

Meanwhile, we wait.

Thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Proofing the Art and Making a New 'Mech

This 'Mech does not appear in the TRO:3063

(mostly because the only way we could improve on
the original Wraith involved a Marik chassis, Capellan
stealth armor and a FedCom targeting computer.
We ran out of handwavium while trying to finish
the writeup).

Good day to you all!

We are presently biding our time with the TRO, looking for ways to polish things up while we wait for our layout man Josh to make his reappearance. It is going to be a fair stretch, as he is currently overcoming difficulties I am not at liberty to discuss. However, the quality of his work, his reputation and his overall work ethic has convinced me that the wait will be worth it. I trust you will understand and feel the same way. Besides, his sweetie is pinch-hitting for him and so things are not at a complete standstill. I hope to have some samples of his work for next week so you can all see what he has done so far.

TRO Art Proofing

My original artist, as I mentioned numerous times, has been at times very derivative of other people’s work. In some cases the inspiration is actually better than the copy. I am currently attempting to contact one artist in the hopes that I can acquire the original art for the Privateer, a ‘Mech which appears not once but twice in the TRO and the White Knight. Of course, there is also a Plan B for any unpleasant eventualities, but we hope that won’t be the case.

Meanwhile, Ryan Rawlings has stepped up with an offer to take the remaining images provided by our initial artist and run them through a ‘proofing’ procedure which is intended to eliminate any remaining blatant copies of other people’s work. If the art is good enough, I will attempt to purchase it. Otherwise, I will have to replace it. Since about 60% of the original works have already replaced anyway, this is nothing new.

[Unfortunately, our art proofer has been busy and just today turned up four additional instances where 'inspiration' turned out to be tracing over someone else's work. I have already contacted four artists on and expect to be emailing a few more [please, Lord, let it be only a few more] - before we are through].

[Frowny face here]

While payments go out for the remaining works, I have been considering colored versions of some pieces for internal color pages – I am not adding any new color pages per se, but simply condensing what we already have to maximize the available space. For example, the color pieces done by David Dryburgh can be fitted two to a page, rather than the one per page currently planned.

Coloring done by rockman-forte @

‘Mech Replacement

Eric presented me with a new piece that he re-did on his own. It is for the Isometrus, and to be fair, it looks more like a 25-tonner than the original art. However, I am not one to waste art and the old piece looks like it is actually a 55-65 ton ‘Mech (cockpit size relative to the overall ‘Mech is important). Bill Burt came up with an infighter that weighs 60 tons but is quite nimble. I feel it looks a bit like an improved Anvil without the jumpjets and a lot more armor.

It carries two large pulse lasers, four medium pulse lasers and two machine guns at 5/8/0. The machine guns are for anti-personnel work and will open up the mission profile a bit, but I prefer the version with dual AMS. I see a lot of missiles on the tabletop and it seems like that would come in handy for a ‘Mech which is trying to survive getting close enough to rip a hole in something.

I am going to run this by Geoff, my co-writer. If he gives the thumbs-up, we will include this in the TRO and pull the Zeus PE (again). I have gone over the Zeus in previous blog posts – no reason to justify it again, but yes, I will issue it later for anyone interested in seeing it.

BattleTech on Facebook?

If a tree falls in the woods and it doesn’t have a Facebook page, does it make a sound?

Some of you are familiar with Facebook. It is a popular social networking site. There has been at least one attempt to use BattleTech on Facebook: it calls itself simply ‘Mechwarrior’. I went to give it a look and I am sorry to say that a more wretched piece of ripped-off junk does not exist. But let the images (ugh!) speak for themselves. Feel free to click on the images to get a better picture of the dregs:

Above is a list of Offensive Weapons. Offensive is the right word to describe entries that don’t even begin to follow any sensible pattern. These machines have no ranged weapons to speak of, yet are thrown in there as ‘Light ‘Mechs’. These guys did not even bother to spell ForestryMech correctly – even after I pointed out the error to one of the designers!

As you can see, they aren’t into original art, either. This bit of ripped-off art is an Unseen Locust, cropped from Google no doubt.

Here is an entry under ‘Special Weapons’, a Star League-era Spector. Notice the image for the ‘Mech, like most of the others, is actually a picture of a miniature? At least it’s painted real purty…

…and it ought to be, seeing as it was lifted from CamoSpecsOnline, the premier source for professionally-painted official camo schemes.

This is why the designers snarfed all that art… and why the whole thing looks like something thrown together over a weekend. The only way you can get ahead in this game without spending most of your natural life at the keyboard is to spend real-world money on Action Points!

My advice to the designers has already been heard - and ignored. They don’t care about making a quality game, they only care about cranking out another Facebook app which soaks up money. My advice to anyone reading this who might consider trying this game is the same as the designer’s advice for buying Action Points – Don’t Waste Your Time.

BattleTech would be a good Facebook app, no doubt. Mechwarrior is not that app.

Catalyst Game Labs…

What can I say that has not already been said? Well, as it turns out, quite a bit. I won’t subject you to the nitty gritty – you can get the details over The Gaming Den, under threads with ‘Shadowrun’ in the title. I have gone over the official CGL release concerning their status with Shadowrun and conclude that they no longer have the license. Magnificent spin on Randall Bill’s part but with the double-speak winnowed out, it appears a company called Lone Wolf has the actual license. CGL has an agreement with them, but they do NOT have the license to produce that game any longer under their own cognizance.

What remains to be seen is the status of the BattleTech license, and I suspect that too will be continued under a similar arrangement. That is, someone responsible will handle the actual license (and the money) while sub-contracting a portion of the work to CGL.

I have read that InMediaRes is ‘circling the drain’ and while that may be true, I have not seen or read anything that gives such a statement credibility. It certainly would seem to be the case, but like the rest of you, I can only wait. Suffice to say that if Shadowrun is any indication, BattleTech is here to stay. The same cannot be said of some of the people who have brought it to this unhappy crossroads. Or at least, one does hope.

Frank Trollman’s Choice of Words

I’ve gone over what I think of this guy – and why. I have even suggested how he could get the word out without pissing off the people he’s supposed to be rallying to the cause. His latest installment of information on recent events is a case in point.

Frank goes from listing the happenings and his own take on them to lambasting the Mormons in an attempt to link that faith with the behavior of Mssrs. Bills, Coleman and Hardy. By and large, it is a success. At least it was with me. I have seen what he describes and recognize it for what it is – more Inner Rings and more folks ignoring what they ought to do while doing their best to cover up. But I think Frank takes a wrong turn when he involves God in the proceedings.

It's a safe bet to assume the Mormons have about the same number of scoundrels in charge as any other established church. As C. S. Lewis noted, priests (of any faith) are wicked men like the rest of us. But notice I did not use the word ‘faith’. Nor did I say ‘religion’ or suggest that a belief in God – any version of Him – is a prerequisite to performing – or justifying - any sort of financial shenanigans.

Given the strict expectations of a Christian, I should think it quite the opposite. The offense here is not that certain men belonging to a certain church committed heinous deeds, but that they were Christians (of a sort) and they damned well knew better.

The Catholic Church is in much the same pickle. Any organization with mere men in it will come to grief sooner or later in similar ways. It goes from an assembly of the faithful to a bureaucracy containing portions that resemble an old boy’s club, complete with rules, secret handshakes and mysteries.

In short, it becomes just another, larger Inner Ring.

The Freemasons are famous for it. The Protestant Reformation began because of it. But then, the Freemasons don’t claim that what they are doing has the Almighty’s stamp of approval. The difference for Christians (and other faiths – I don’t really know) is that they have an instant check against such activity which is available at any time. If the Ten Commandments won’t do, you can always apply to their Author, who to date has been quite firm in His insistence that we follow said rules.

But that has not happened; apparently not in the case of CGL.

I don’t pretend to see into the hearts of the aforementioned individuals, but I will say this: if a Catholic archbishop can shuffle criminally naughty priests from one laity to another without a murmur, it’s possible something similar can be done by a Mormon Elder. And that goes for any other kind of hanky-panky. The blind eye is not as uncommon as people think.

I know you are an atheist, Frank. But you sound like a fool when you include the word 'God' in your speculations. I want to see justice done too, but you are not helping the case by sticking your foot in your mouth every other day.

Please, stick to the things you do know about - namely, Shadowrun and the latest depredations of certain old-boy gamers. Leave God out of your speech and you will sound more like the Voice of Truth and less like an ex-writer with a hard-on for the company in particular and religions in general.

Thanks for stopping by.


Saturday, May 08, 2010

Printing the TRO...

This JagerMech will NOT be in the TRO
...but it sure looks cool, doesn't it?


This week there isn’t much happening. Sorry.

Well, at least not on the TRO front. I am now working on swing shift (1430-2300) at my job. It keeps me busy, but I don’t get to see much of my wife and son.

The weather outside is wonderful today – warm, but not too warm. And sunny.

- I have sent off a reminder to Geoff concerning the final polish on the Scorpion entry.

- Lee Madison has not responded to any of my emails, so that’s it for him.

- Eric Ou has agreed to give a shot at some background art – after all, he does ‘Mechs and people quite well – and I think he wants more practice at buildings. So he will be working on the CM-33 and the Merkava MkVII.

- I have another artist interested in doing background work; I am going to give her a shot at one of the other CG pieces we have, possibly the Centaurus or the Ocelot II.

- Our layout man Josh is recovering his strength; meanwhile he has enlisted his sweetie’s aid to begin moving things forward. I have been getting more email from him as he adjusts to the meds and he has said he is going to see this through.

- Sent a payment off to David Dryburgh today. I am down to $240 with him. Also shot off the last of the money I owe to Eric Ou, though that will change as he begins background work.


I sent the vacuum out for repair today (it is a Rainbow, an older model D2-something from the mid-1990s). I was fairly drooling at the newest Echo model, but even with all the incentives, I cannot afford it. It is a wonderful machine and the repairman (who is also a salesman) gave me no pressure, but was obviously proud of his latest unit. My son was also impressed.

I was mightily afflicted with technolust when I got a demo of the Kirby vacuum, but experience with HEPA type filters says that if the unit pulls as much dirt from my carpet as the demo model did, I will be motoring through bags pretty damned fast. The HEPA filters clog up quick, far faster than the time it will take to fill a bag. I will lose that wonderful suction shortly after I begin cleaning.

To be honest, the Kirby salesman himself was an unpleasant experience; he was trying to play me for all he was worth, using every trick in the book to manipulate me during his three-hour ‘free cleaning’. I guess he thought I was completely ignorant of the HEPA restrictions and was fooled by the temporary filters he used (to good effect) and then laid all over my carpet. I had to help his assistant pick up over 200 filters before I could get them out the door at 2200!

That said, I was still amazed at the amount of crap that machine could pull from my carpet. However, they want $2100 for the unit with all the goodies. I looked it up on Ebay after he left and a used unit with overhauled fan cost only $650, which included shipping. I may get one eventually, but learned a bit from the salesman despite his machinations. I have not been changing the water in my Rainbow enough, and that seriously affects its ability to retain dirt in the water bowl. Too much crap quickly turns the water to soup, which does not move very fast and does not pick up dirt as well either.

The sticking point with the Kirby is the filter bag. In order to get maximum suction, I will go through filter bags very quickly. Like a computer printer, the unit itself is not terribly expensive ($695 is cheap). However, the bags are $3 a pop. Just like printer cartridges, the major expense is with the consumable element.

Dances and Paintboxes

My son is preparing for the Jr. High Prom, which is a semi-formal affair. Too bad he is going stag, but he has new shoes and a frilly new shirt and bow tie. With his suit jacket and vest, it looks a lot like a tux. Looking good, son! I have no idea if they will be jerkin’, but his footwear is suited for it.

Towering over a proud mother...

I am also in the process of revamping my painting kit. This is a briefcase I modified back in 1991 to carry acrylic paints, paintbrushes and so on. It was necessary so that I could go to sea and keep all this stuff in a stand-up locker. Convenient, portable and a nice partner to my miniatures case (similar, but which holds all my fantasy miniatures), this portable painting center went through several changes of paint and brushes over twelve years. Nearly twenty years later, I am going through and refurbishing it. The original foam which holds the paints in place (mostly Games Workshop stuff, with a few Vallejos) is rotting and I am finally replacing the cigar box which held my paint brushes as well.

I found a likely cigar box with metal hinges and glued it in place. After pulling the disintegrating foam out, I am sizing up another piece to glue in. Hopefully Michaels will have one of those electric foam cutters and some spray glue (the 777 stuff works best, but is also the most expensive). Otherwise I will have to purchase some additional foam. The stuff I have is too thick.

Momma won a bit down at the casino yesterday, so we are flush. I sent some dough off to artists, set my son up for Summer School PE and paid for the vacuum repair. Back to budgeting! Bill has not contacted me about any airsoft events, so we will see what happens. I don’t know, though. Much as I like airsofting, there are only two days of the week when I get to hang out with my son and talk to my wife now. Seems a shame to spend one of them away at some event from morning ‘til night.

The Plan for Printing the TRO!

I thought about this a lot and kicked some ideas around. After talking to Bill, it seems the best way to do this is as follows:

1. Get the TRO done and in PDF format. This is the tough part.

2. Contact the people who are going to actually bind the book and see if they can do the whole thing versus having Fedex Office do the printing and send it out for binding. There might be a price break somewhere in there.

3. Borrow $600. I already have a source lined up for this.

4. Make an initial print run of twenty copies. I selected this number because it offers the best price break at the lowest startup cost. Furthermore, I will definitely sell at least this many copies.

5. When I sell the books, each will sell for exactly my cost to produce them plus shipping. No more, no less.

6. When all of the books have sold, I will have $600 again.

7. Start at Step #4 again. I can keep this up as long as the books sell. Eventually I will take the money I borrowed and return it to the source with interest. And other than my time, everyone (except my loaner) will break even. At least, in an ideal situation.

Doing it this way means I will have books available to everyone that wants one. Now, it’s true that eventually no one will order a book. And I will be stuck with a number of copies on hand. But with some careful pre-order collection, I should be able to move nearly all of them and cover the remainder out of my own pocket. I’m sure requests will dribble in from time to time and I can sell the books as time goes by.

The only drawback is that after the initial print runs, I will return the borrowed money and that’s it – no more print versions other than what is on hand. So folks are going to have a three-month window at best before I stop producing print versions.

Those of you who have donated a certain amount of money via the PayPal button are going to get first shot at the initial print run. You will still have to pay for your copy – I have to break even in order to get another set of books printed – but you won’t have to wait for the second, third, whatever print order to be completed to get yours. Head of the line privilege, as they said back in my Navy days.

Hope you have a good week.

Thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, May 02, 2010

Post-Playtest, New Art and a Game Rant...

Hello, all!

Some quick updates:

- Lee Madison’s deadline has passed and I have not received anything from him despite his promise a week ago to deliver at least one piece by Friday. I have not heard from him since then despite several attempts on my part to contact him. I am not sure what is going down in Texas, but I do know what is going to happen in Bremerton. I will spend a bit of time on Sunday locating an artist who can do similar-quality work and pass the commissions on. Lee has had his shot at it.

- As you can see from the header, Eriance has done a stand-up job on the new art for the Culverin. He did this on his own after deciding the original art was too static. Click on the image for a better look. I am sending the rest of his payment today.

The Original Culverin Art

- My co-writer Geoff has completed the second draft on the Scorpion II and the work is every bit as appealing as I’d hoped. I made a few tweaks and sent it back to him for final polishing, word count and like that.

- Our layout man Josh is still reeling under the side-effects of several drugs. Most of this is nausea, so you can imagine his work output is pretty low right now. He has enlisted the aid of his significant other to move things along a bit, but it will be a while before he can get back to work.

- As you may know from the last blog entry, a ‘farewell game’ for one of our regular BattleTech players (Ray) is taking place on Saturday night. Ray has had a pretty good run as the head of the ‘opposition’ crew, the guys assigned to field units which were our mercenary group’s foe of the month. Chris Snider moved the time up a bit (5pm) to account for travel time and oldsters nodding off mid-game. Unfortunately, Ray has had some family trouble in Texas (darn that state) and had to depart on Thursday, leaving before he had a chance to play in his own game!

We are all going to go and play anyway. Ray has earned a send-off game even if he won’t be present to take his drubbing! Or enjoy a rare victory. I talked Chris into letting me deploy the Scorpion II in its latest iteration as a Davion machine. No matter that it will be Kuritan in the TRO – I will get a good shot at playtesting it. That is, if someone doesn’t headcap me two turns into the game…

Bill Burt will go with me on this one – I have extended my invitation to my son John as well, but being a teenager, he is probably going to elect to sleep over at a friend’s house instead. That is normal, from what I have heard. We should have a swell time of it – I have money in my pocket and a friend with which to swap lies on the trip home. Bill is a veteran player and thinks much like I do in terms of tactics and strategy. I would rather have him on my side, but if he is my honorable opponent, I will try to show him how we do it downtown.

My Son is Growing UP!

John is now officially taller than his old man by about an inch. Despite his protests to the contrary, I am not getting shorter and yes, my hairline is beginning to recede a bit. The widow’s peak is a normal thing with the Sataks – I have my own father to look at if I want to know the future of my own cherished locks. As for the height difference, that was always a matter of time. I wear a size 9 ½ shoe and he is comfortable in size 11, so I’ve known this was coming for some while. John seems uncomfortable with the idea that he is taller than his Dad, but he will get used to it.

Scorpion II Playtest results…sorta... and a Rant About the Game

Well, it is Sunday evening and I still have not quite quantified how I feel about the game last night. As a matter of fact, I am not even sure if I want to trot out the usual turn-by-turn narrative.

Okay, I don’t.

Oh, it’s not the Scorpion II – that performed well as far as it went. I am confident this model will do for use by players everywhere. No, the problem was the game itself.

Let’s see, where do I start?

- Despite years of proof to the contrary, our GM decided it was a Good Idea to have a whopping big game with something like eighteen machines per side. On three mapsheets. With eight players. Only half of them were capable of handling more than three machines. All of us had at least four – and Bill had eight.

- The game was scheduled to begin at 5:00pm. The game master did not appear until 5:15pm and after everyone got done chatting and trotting down the street for dinner, we finally began playing – at 7:00pm.

- After the initial setup, there was virtually no guidance by the GM, who was one of the players on my side. A non-playing referee is necessary at all times in a game this size to keep things moving and answer rules questions. The post calls for leadership, quick decisive action and a firm hand. We did not have it.

- Three of our veteran players were making numbers up on the fly as they were called upon to shoot. Several took many, many minutes just deciding which was the best way to approach an enemy who, in many cases, had not even moved yet. And these guys knew better.

- Two of the players were older fellows from Portland and they may have had some BT under their belts, but you would not know it from their playing speed. Very little focus on the game as such, almost no strategizing as far as I could tell. And a lot of distraction.

- The game had no goal outside of ‘beat the other guy down” set in the final days of the FedCom Civil War. We all know how that turned out. Unfortunately, because we never got past midnight and seven turns, we will never know how our game might have turned out.

- Loud voices shouting left and right. Everyone was trying to do their shooting all at the same time, all in the same small area. Not very easy on the ears.

- My side deployed minefields, which hampered the chance of a quick game. The remaining chances were scotched when our opponents decided that breaking into buildings and using them for armor was a Good Idea. This was an idea refreshed in their minds from watching my Flea last game, you see. The difference of course was that the Flea weighed twenty tons and was acting as a passive observer for indirect LRM fire. It needed the protection and did not have to move very much.

This game, my opponents were in the 80-90 ton range and they employed the tactic on a massive scale but did not realize until too late that we could simply bypass them. Most would not leave their protective shells and they were unusually reluctant to cross the minefields surrounding those shells.

- Other than myself and Bill (who was my esteemed opposition), few players really paid attention to anything going on besides his own ‘Mechs. In some cases they couldn’t, as they just did not have the skills or were too easily distracted. Thus, my Scorpion jumped into a crater smack in the middle of a big airfield, effectively hull-down for the rest of the game. I took a shot with that Gauss rifle every turn, and even had a shot with the medium lasers on the sixth turn.

No one paid it attention until Turn Six, when they suddenly noticed I’d had a ‘one’ for a movement/cover modifier the entire time despite standing still. A few weapons were fired my way, but after a gauss slug bit the tarmac instead of my right front leg, they once again ignored it.

- Between smoke breaks and chatting, the game slowed down even more. Bill and I had plans for our sides and they were good ones, but we will never really know if they would have worked, even in retrospect. Bill’s teammates eagerly agreed to his plan - and promptly went off and did whatever the fuck they wanted to. Bill followed through with his own plan but no one was backing him up – they were all hiding behind - or inside - buildings and sniping. Poor Bill.

Meanwhile, my side roughly followed our own plans up until Turn Four, when the Stupid pills kicked in. One of our veteran players decided it was a Good Idea to face off with his Raijin against an opponent in a building suit. He got his center torso stripped for his folly. Okay, well, we all make mistakes. I know I do. But next turn, he announced that he was going to move his mauled Raijin square in front of a Templar with a leg blown off – and no other significant damage. “I’m going in to finish it off,” he said. I wished him luck but that ‘crippled’ monster tore him a new asshole.

Another player dithered and complained about how no one was telling him where to go – and then argued and dug his heels in when someone made a suggestion. I would not have thought it possible for a Devastator to cover so much ground to such little effect in ten turns, never mind the seven we actually completed. It was still standing at the end of the game, more a tribute to the designers than the skill of the player.

Highlights from My Perspective

Click on image to enlarge

My own machines were natural targets, as the opposing force considered me to be the biggest threat. Who knows? I might have been, but Bill was in his element and I think he did better than I by far. My Zeus went down, finally, cored by a point-blank barrage from twin RAC-5s. But some of my opponents only added luster to my unearned reputation.

For example, my Atlas had taken serious damage from two of Bill's Musketeer hovercraft (RAC-5s and missile racks equipped with Tandem Charges) and I backed the luckless 'Mech between two buildings to take a breather. My nearest target, a Templar, was exactly nine hexes away and hiding inside a building. I shot him anyway, hitting with an AC/20 but doing only eleven points of damage (the heavy building soaked up the rest).

Would you believe? Rather than turn and shoot my boxed-in ‘Mech – talk about a king-size fish in a barrel - with weapons which had plenty of range from the safety of his building, the Templar player decided to move over one hex – still inside the building - and put me out of shooting range while simultaneously blocking his own fire.

So at midnight, there was a lot of animated discussion and waving of ‘Mech sheets, but like I said, we just didn’t make it to the point where anyone could decide who won.

The Scorpion II had five points damage in each side torso. That is a grand total of ten points damage - out of a total of 233 for the design. Lasting until Turn Seven in the middle of a battlefield with nothing more than scuffed paint wasn’t due to superior design or because I played it well. Hell, I would have welcomed the chance to test it to destruction. At least then I would have had some data with which to work. No, the Scorpion II achieved this dubious distinction simply because no one really paid it any mind until it was too late.

Afterwards, the Templar player huffed and told me that all he had to do was zero in on my torsos with his targeting computer and take the +3 penalty and so much for my hull-down advantage… but you hear smack talk like that in any game. I replied that if that was possible, why had no one done it in seven turns? There were a few poorly-hidden grins from the other players at that point and the fellow clammed up. Point made. But it remains that this was not a very trying exercise.

So much for the playtest.

There were at least four disappointed players. Rich and his son had been promised a game which would run all night if need be. We all were. The fellows from Portland were pissed, as they’d driven all that way for a game of just five hours. But Bill finally begged off when he could see how much longer we had to go to reach a deciding point. And because he was my ride, I had to pull out as well. Needless to say, Chris was not happy with any of this, and yet a lot of it was his doing.

It Could Have Worked...

We could have pulled it off if we’d begun on time. We didn’t. We could have gone a lot faster if certain rules had been enforced. They weren’t. Finally, we could have done it even then if we all weren’t piloting heavily armored machines and some of us tasked with operating far more machines than we were capable of handling. And we did. Chris knew all of this, he could have downsized at any time before starting, but he didn’t.

He’s upset, but so am I. He knows better. He’s been running games for years. WTH, buddy? Is canceling our regular group and withdrawing from the game really the answer to these kinds of problems?

In honor of this most recent game, I have uploaded a new song, "Vaseline" by Stone Temple Pilots.

Catalyst Games…

This week has been pretty quiet where the CGL debacle is concerned. One reason seems obvious: Frank Trollman has managed to get himself booted from nearly every popular gaming forum despite the fact that he is probably the only reliable (read "non-Catalyst lawyerese) source of information on this ‘event’ we have. I say that despite the fact that I still consider him a creep. He has been banned precisely because he cannot or will not screen out the anger he feels on his (and others) behalf. I have been saving his posts when I find them because I knew that these posts were probably going to disappear shortly due to the way Frank expresses himself.

A note to you all: learn from Frank’s mistakes. Just because you are right about something does not mean you can discard diplomacy and talk to - and about - people any way you choose. A lot of folks think it does. You may have seen them at work, where being good at what they do is a license to act like an asshat to everyone else.

I have seen that in my own son in regards to his mother, and am doing my best to show him that being right is often not enough to win the battle. There are other factors, and my Navy career is sad proof that being in the right is not enough to carry the day. If you can’t learn to sell the truth, you will quickly find people ignoring you, as the truth is not necessarily what they want to hear. As Louis L’Amour put it in one of his westerns, “A lie will travel a thousand miles while the truth is still pulling on its boots”.


I am experiencing some problems with my pistol, the CYMA Glock AEP. It has to do with the feed mechanism. I find my pistol misfires and several times a pellet has rolled out of the barrel! I suspect this is an issue with the valve – it is not closing off the feed after each shot and so I see two pellets instead of one in single shot mode. This is something I will discuss with Bill. If I can summon the courage (and the time) I will slather the workings with silicon oil – chances are the feed mechanism is sticking due to a lack of lubrication. I have never oiled it, so that (hopefully) is the issue. Bill says it might be the hop-up, but we’ll have to see.

We have another game coming up on the 22nd of May. It will be with the same group of players in another field. We’ll see if the organizers learned anything from the previous game. Maybe they will lay things out a bit better. Meanwhile, I have a sling for My Precious, my Echo1 M-14, and I also have some wonderful .26g biodegradeable pellets to use! The biggest bio pellets I can find of sufficient quality are .28g, but there probably isn’t time to order them. Bill says my .26g pellets will carry far enough and – more importantly – drop the muzzle velocity below 400 fps for purposes of using the gun at range.

I really don’t like .20g pellets. Bill likes them, but he likes to get close to a target and you can’t shoot past 100 feet without the consarned things veering off. I recall getting shot at from long range – I could see the stream of pellets coming my way right on target with my chest! But about fifteen feet from me, they began swerving wildly this way and that, like a curveball. It gave me time to duck, but spraying BBs like a crazy man at your target in the hopes you might land a hit is no way to play airsoft.

I will have to get some camo gear, too. My raincoat is green, but it may as well be black against the backdrop of woods and bushes. And I will probably have to stop shooting the second I see someone – perhaps some practice with Bill at sneaking up will turn the trick. Unlike lasertag, just because you can see someone doesn’t mean you can hit them. And the targets I had almost always had backup. Three guns spraying wildly are more likely to hit than one.

Well, off to the interwebz to see if I can conjure up another artist.

Thanks for stopping by.