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.


1 comment:

Doug said...

Wow, that Culverin art changed looks like something that was factory upgraded. Very cool. The new one almost looks anime like.

Hair, comb it forward.

I am taller then my dad, and I am only 5'8".

Why do some 'teammates' in this game always go and do their own thing?

Maybe smaller scale games to test the Scorpion II.

"license to act like an asshat to everyone else", hey, I worked for that type of dude at my last job, so I left. Now I have a job where everyone is nice he-he-he.