Sons of Anarchy board game

I was looking at Blood Rage’s successor: Godfather by CMON. Area control, destruction of business and gangsters, etc. Seems great but shit man it doesn’t fit the theme well. The 5 families in the movies had issues from time to time, but to constantly be in conflict would have sunk them all very quickly, especially since the gangs of New York had shrunk to a minuscule amount compared to the era of the Dead Rabbits and Native Americans who numbered in the thousands.  I was thinking it would need to be FAR closer to something like Republic of Rome or Dead of Winter, where you work together, have your own goals, but also have serous external threats that could sink everyone in the game. If the Sicilians wiped themselves out like portrayed in the Godfather game, we’d be watching ‘mafia’ shows centered around the Irish gangsters, Polish, Jews or Greeks or any of the post WW1 immigrant groups instead.

That said, if you’ve looked at Godfather and are interested in that type of game MUCH cheaper: have a look at Sons of Anarchy.  14$ on Amazon, it’s a steal currently (which probably won’t last) and after a single play so far, I can say it’s well worth that measly amount.  The components are solid, nothing felt cheap either in the plastic and none of the sturdy cardboard was de-laminated at all.

More importantly, the gameplay is smooth and gives interesting choices for the players.  You start with a gang of prospects and full gang members and have a goal of having the most cash at the end of six turns (cash is analogous to glory in Blood Rage except you can spend it).  The game has locations, randomized at the beginning of the game, that the gangs can exploit for guns or cash or contraband, but you have to be the only gang present to do so.  If other gangs are present you can bribe them to move out or duke it out on the streets.   Fighting can be as tame as just a barfight style beatdown, or the guns can come out which can, at the right moment, nearly wipe out an opposing (or even both gangs).  You have to balance your muscle and economy at all times, and attempt to get an economic engine going of areas that you persistently control.

Like Cosmic Encounter, each of the five gangs in the game break the rules in some way, such as not having to pay to move gang members to other locations during a throw down, or bonuses when you are the first player in a round.

Despite the almost immediate dismissal of a board game based on a show or movie, Sons of Anarchy is a solid area control game and the theme works well, as the biker gangs aren’t as concerned with ‘business’ as the Sicilians of the Godfather game would be, so the catastrophic violence seems quite a bit more appropriate.  The price (right now) is certainly right.

Monster Hunter World beta impressions

TL/DR: Good, possibly very good.

It’s been a LONG time since Monster Hunter has been on the consoles and we’ve been relegated to the DS to play it. It is an excellent series on the level of Torchlight and Diablo for it’s item management, customization and level of skill needed to play well.  The game was obviously a huge influence on Dark Souls (both at their core are boss-battle games) and the new version looks poised to bring everything that was great about the 3DS version into the modern graphic world of the PC and PS4.

First play was to kill off a fatty lizard thing. I was interesting only because it puked all over the place when you got a knock down on it. I was not able to get it mounted for more fun. The map this fatty is on has a winged T-rex thing wandering around, and if you draw aggro with both, you are going to be in trouble. I was not able to take down both of them in one go (killed the fatty lizard first and ended the scenario).

The second beasty is a rock lizard thing. It has a transform into some sort of bull-type creature and then retreats to a muddy area, and this is where things got good. Instead of swampy stuff just being poison, the mud area was very interesting as it had not only places that slowed you down, but places where you would actually get stuck and have to struggle out.

I’ve seen some other really cool things, like swinging on vines, monsters fighting each other, swinging with a grappling hook and somehow my Palico tied down one of the monsters for me to beat on. The environments are awesome and they still have the same FEEL as different ‘areas’ but there is no loading or break in between them. You can follow the monsters as they run away without hitting the loads, and that’s fantastic.

The game has a unique way of tracking the monsters with some sort of glowing flies that point you to clues where the monster is, such as footprints or ass-wipes on the ground. When you put attention to a clue, the flies point to the next one and when you get enough, they can point right to the monster. I thought this was fucking handholding at first because in the old game you had to hit the monsters with paintballs to track them when they fled, but it seems fairly decent. It is fun to track, but it’s also a bit more fun to get in the fights…

I didn’t see any mechanics yet for bombs or trapping monsters, but I’m sure that’s in there. Also you can’t really craft in the beta just yet– that’s a whole huge ball of complexity I still don’t fully understand in the old game anyway.

Color me impressed. I was hoping for a new version for the 3DS, but this is FAR better because I can play it with my friends on more common consoles and with these graphics? YEAH.  Lots of impressive stuff to look at here.  When this is out for PC, holy shit.

Great Quake Article

This got sent to me by multiple people , it is an excellent article on the development of Quake in 1995-1996.

There’s a lot of nostalgia articles about id around, but for this one I mostly I want to comment on Romero because really any non-technical article or discussion of Doom development or Quake development has to include stuff about him or frankly, it’s pretty boring.  At the time of Quake 2/3 there was a lot of hate on Romero about his alleged work ethic, playing games all the time, the Killcreek stuff and the general perception from the internet (mostly stuff on bluesnews) that he was fucking shit up all over the place, and then came Daikatana.

While all of these things may be true,  I beg to differ that it was detrimental in terms of the final deliverable of Quake, especially Quake (and Doom’s) deathmatch. This article confirms somethings people felt a few years after it shipped (no one really knew what was going on at id a the time of development), but if you read it, once the decision was made for it to be a FPS and not and RPG game, Romero helped make Quake beyond awesome, and part of that was his addiction to his own game.

JORTS!

While I like a lot of other First Person Shooters, Quake is still one of the most enjoyable free for all mutliplayer.  The engine is solid and it works extremely well with multiple players when they are all physically near each other– something that modern engines for FPS do not do.  That aside for now, I feel like the fact that Romero and American McGee played Deathmatch all day long when they were supposed to be ‘working’ actually made DM in Quake, Quake 2 and Quake 3 the absolute best it could be (yes I know Romero was gone after Q2).  Romero was more than a designer, he was the near ultimate consumer of his own creation, and for this, despite all the drama around him being let go from id, and the Diakatana debacle, was a critical component for the success of the game.  While I had dabbled in the Quake single player game, soon I was only playing CTF and DM and didn’t finish the SP for a year or so after it’s release, even though we played DM just about every day for 2-3 hours.   In fact, I cannot have imagined playing a game more fervently than we played Quake.  It was pretty much the focal point to everything we did for YEARS there– a bit after Quake 2 came out is when I started to go off the constant deathmatch (only to be revived again when Q3 came out).  And why was Quake’s DM so good and we still play it at every LAN? The tech of course, and american mcgee’s levels (the Bad Place for instance) but for the gameplay? I say Romero and his addiction to playing his own team’s games.

NECROMUNDA!!!!

We are getting real close people to release day for the new Necromunda. I picked up the November White Dwarf (and it’s a heavy fuckin mag) and I’m pretty pumped about the game. There’s a long interview with the developers about how they started out using 40K 8th (a good ruleset mind you) but it just didn’t quite fit so they made changes, the largest one being model to model turns rather than IGOYO that 40K and WFB have.

Now, I think that the 40K 2nd edition rules that power Necromunda1 and Gorkamorka are some of the best skirmish rules there are, and many have tried their hand at making something better with mixed results (Mordheim: no, LotR SBG: in some ways yes), so I have some hesitation about changing from 2E 40K… but I will certainly pick up the box set and go from there.

Needless to say, the models this time around are superlative. While the old models from 1995 were OK in most cases, some of the gangs looked pretty stupid in retrospect (the Van Saar). Yes, the Eschers (by Jes Goodwin) were excellent and I have a bunch of them. Getting a good look at the new ones I am quite impressed. The meatbag Goliaths are a massive improvement over the old models.

Where do I have some trepidation? First, this is going to be an expensive buy in to start with the core set and gang war– probably close to 200$ all told. Second, I haven’t been painting all that much in the last few years. My eyes (as predicted by my eye doctor) have gone to SHIT. While I have glasses to handle the mid and long distances, my close range is not too good. Yet, 10-15 models won’t be all that bad.  Lastly, the 3d terrain is going to be pricy, however, if you’ve seen my other posts on necromunda, I’ve got the old sets and the HULK (plus some AT-43 terrain) that should work just fine.

Yeahhhhh

Dungeon Degenerates!

I was one of the proud backers of this game TOTALLY ON THE ART ALONE and did so with no regrets.  However,  we have here an  interesting game on our hands in addition to being a beautiful one!  The art is basically gamer porn if you love Aly Morrison and John Blanche stuff from GW of old.  Chaos Marauders feels like a strong influence for the art style, both ooze theme, but this shit goes to 11 in metal.

If I was to compare this game to anything I would say it’s like a coop version of Tom Wham’s Search for the Emperor’s Treasure with a much darker backdrop and a bit more complexity in a few areas.   If you’ve never played SFtET that’s OK, it should become obvious what type of game this is with a brief description.

You are a group of escaped prisoners from the city dungeon of Brutellburg in the province of Wurstriech.  Wurstreich is getting worse and more dangerous all the time. The party can choose to fulfill various missions (or not) as you run away from the law and various monsters.  These missions lead to other missions and then you have a long story arc for your party through the game. You level up(sort of) and buy new gear as well.

Glorious!

 

The rulebook is a bit daunting. I read through it as a PDF a while back but didn’t have the game in front of me so very little STUCK up inside the brain. I have given it a go solo and here are a few things to look for in your first play.

  1. Paths can be used, but you cannot fast travel (force march) on them until they are explored
  2. It’s very important to understand the threat / town level system for the game as it determines encounters (the meat of the game). Which spaces have their distinct threat level and which share with their territory is critical to note.
  3.  Roads and paths are ‘spaces’ so you draw a danger card every time you move on to one. (I know this seems obvious but…)
  4. Combat – note that most combats you are rolling 5 dice. 2 are defense, 2 are offense and one power die. It’s a straight forward system similar to Search for the Emperor’s Treasure.  There are LOTS of conditions and effects to track as well as ‘approach’ effects such as ambushing.
  5. The Danger cards are worth reading and re-reading about as they have some things that will seem odd at first.  the TAGGING of the main threat number is critical as that’s the deck you draw from.   At it’s most complex, it is an encounter (card) draw, plus an Epic monster, plus normal monsters that are NOT of the area you are in. You need to know how to match the threat level on the card to the threat level on the space or area you are in. This is the most complex thing in the game, so study it closely for faster play.
  6. You SPEND your XP when you rest and you SPEND your gold when you rest in a town area for loot.  Your XP does not accumulate to level you up, you level up by buying skills.
  7. Read and re read the hand of doom rules.

Tuesday night will be the first play through with people (though my kids may force my hand earlier) and I’ll post feelings then on more than just the presentation.

Last I want to say this.  I got Massive Darkness and this within a few weeks of each other.  Both are Co-op Explore/Kill/Loot/Mission games.  Dungeon Degenerates I actually set up and played immediately and will do so again asap.  Massive Darkness — I doubt it will get busted out even with the kids until Xmas or something.

Chicken Dinner

I won a round of PUBG.  Wow.  Adrenaline pumping still.

How:

  1. hiding a lot
  2. not dropping in to known fucked areas (KFA’s)
  3. moving from cover to cover at the end
  4. luck.  I was in the first circle so didn’t have to take it on the arches or go find a vehicle.  Later, a guy one tree over from me ran to loot a guy he shot nearby and I hit him with a frag and then didn’t loot. Don’t loot at the end of the game.
  5. Final 1v1 shooting*.  I hit the guy partially hiding at a nearby tree with the shotgun and kept firing.  He couldn’t figure out where the shots were coming from and moved to the side of the tree that I was shooting at. He was standing up to try to see where I was shooting from (I have done this many times) and I was able to hit him 3-4 more times.

*I am a terrible shot with all weapons.

My final equipment (read it and weep!): Shotgun, Micro Uzi, dirty tank top, bike helmet, painkillers. I had lots of ammo though as I went through two houses that had already been looted and they left tons of shells and 9mm.  I never fired the micro uzi.

Pictures.

Feel the joys of bush.