He-Man is 40 years old

Wow, time flies. These buff, ridiculously colored and named action figures absolutely captured my imagination when they came out and I collected quite a few of them along with the repainted GI Joe tiger (Battlecat), Castle Greyskull (nowhere near as cool as the box OR the prototype used for the commercials) and a bunch of the early wave figures (pre-snakemen/horde/She-Ra) as a kid and constantly played with them for years. I could only bring a few toys with me on a cross-country train trip when I was 11 and it was Skeletor, Man-at-Arms, He-Man and Beastman FTW.

I loved the little comic books that came with the figures, and my personal canon for how He-man got his powers is contained in the first little book that came with him. He was a savage man in the jungle that saves a hot green chick from a giant hydra monster. She gives him the Battle Ram, Shield and Chest ‘armor’ that acts as a force shield and increases his strength and sends him forth to go kick some ass!

Skeletor and Merman watch as Skeletor’s ghost gets punched the fuck out.

The old cartoon was like a painful parody for me, having played with Skeletor, Merman, Beastman, He-Man, TriKlops, Trapjaw, Man-E-Faces, and Man at Arms for more afternoons and weekends with friends and my brother than I can possibly remember. Together we created sword and sorcery adventures and back stories for these guys expanded from the little books which were blown to shit by the rather silly cartoon show. It never grew on me since, but the 2002-2004 show was absolutely baller in comparison.

Fast forward quite a few years and Mattel has created what I believe to be the absolute best relaunch of action figures in history: the MOTU ORIGINS line. While I have my beaten and mostly broken figures from the 80’s, these new figures are better in every single way, tough, solid colors, very well articulated. It’s been a guilty indulgence to collect some of them at first and then– I just went and bought just about everything. Luckily I have a son just a bit older than when they first came out who plays with them sometimes: an easy excuse to by more and slip them into stockings and Xmas gifts. I also buy a bunch to donate to toy drives around Christmas because holy shit— any kid that gets these for Xmas of a certain age is going to be totally fucking stoked.

Fisto loves the fisting.

Figure wise, everything is top drawer, and they really tried to capture the spirit of the older figures and create the new, far better, articulated versions. What’s more, they can all be taken apart and rejiggered into new monstrosities. He-man head swapping is a must as the stock head isn’t the CONAN head from the original figure but a more cartoony one (that looks great, it’s just not exactly He-man to me).

My favorites are Merman (powerlord version), He-Man himself, pre-Skull Skeletor, and, very unexpectedly, ORKO. The Orko figure is just brilliant and super cool to look at. He was my most hated character in the show… so that says something as to how good this figure is.

There was, of course, trouble with acquiring some of the core figures and I still do not have Trapjaw or Triklops as they were part of a ‘missing wave’ of figures between Walmart’s exclusive rights for the first waves and the rest of the stores getting their waves. Sad because those were two of my favorite figures.

The Orko Figure in all his glory.
My son again allowed Skeletor’s ghost to get destroyed, this time by Clamp Champ

The line now is getting into eras of He-man when I was in late Jr High and high school and just didn’t follow, but I’m looking forward to some of the stuff (Skeletor’s rotating attack vehicle and some of the super cheesy She-Ra figures) and I’ll keep using the excuse of having a kid that likes to play with them as long as I can!

Necromunda – holy fk, the rules are a mess

I got in a casual CASUAL game of Necromunda last week and what in the flying fuck happened to the organization of these rules? Seriously, this couldn’t be worse.

First, these are not overly complex rules, but there are tons of situational rules that enrich the game and the system. What is a drop rig? What does it do? What does Toxin do? What if something is on fire? Anyone that has played all but the simplest RPG’s (most of which are SHYTTE) will be familiar with these types of questions and it usually takes just a few minutes to look up the rule (and if there is a GM, they may make a rule on the spot to save time which is usually spot on for the situation anyway). Necromunda being a competitive thing most of the time, these questions need solid answers and can’t be hand waved by a GM. While the rules are certainly all there, they are scattered FUCK ALL throughout a ton of different books with the added bonus of having the original 2018 rulebook split between Basic and Advance rules (no one plays with the basic rules).

So the answer to the multi-rulebook issue would be to download and print on LULU the massive community version of the rules that includes errata and all that one needs to play, right? CORRECT, with the exception of that book being as FUCK ALL organized as the original books; going from core rules part 1 to special cases on tiles on the board game version, and then back to core rules. Or going from core rules to stats for a bunch of gangs and creatures that will rarely see play BEFORE going into the weapons and skills sections. In addition, it doesn’t even have an INDEX. Absolutely fuck all.

The Warcry rules are CLEANLY organized. Killteam’s rules are CLEANLY organized. What happened? This is not to say that the new Necromunda is bad at all, quite the opposite as it deals with a lot of the issues with the original version, but why the fuck would the rulebooks be like this? I can only imagine that they didn’t know that the Necromunda line would be as successful as it has and everything grew organically like some indy game where the designer has a day job? It’s really inexcusable for GW.

Anyway the game was good, though slow. Melta traps went off, there was renderizing and web-gauntletting (both brutal close combat weapons), toxic attacks, back stabs and hallway collapsing. A great time. I should have taken a bunch of pictures of the carnage, but I had my nose up the crack of the books the whole damn time!

Solution for next time: print the damn consolidated rules by UNIVERSAL HEAD.

Necromunda – the release we’ve been waiting for!

Holy Shit. After what I can only assume was a successful run with Necromunda Underhive, GW has brought out the big one: a $290 set with a crapload of beautiful, modular, lego-like terrain and two full gangs.

One of the reasons I think Necro has done well, other than being awesome, is that the gang boxes themselves are VERY well priced at 35$ for 10 models in the kit, and the Underhive box was not super expensive either. At MOST you will need 2 gang boxes which, for 70$ being all you will ever need for a gang is fairly reasonable (Forgeworld weapon and head sets aside). You want to get a gang and play with a bunch of books and prigles tubes for terrain? Fucking go for it. 35$ and some of the special dice and you’re rolling. Barrier of entry is very low.

I won’t go into the way they sold the books much, but that was a bit of a gouge and for early purchasers like me, annoying. The specific gang tactics cards being printed once and then never again is also SHIT but that can easily be fixed with your own set of cards printed at gamecrafter or something similar. As for the books, I would trust the community rulebook at this point more than anything GW comes out with going forward. Like all these small games from Blood Bowl to Epic, the community typically owns the rules at a certain point and I think Necromunda is there.

So this new set…the cost… is horrifyingly high. at $200? yeah! $290? Wow. That said, the terrain in the box looks simply amazing. I just don’t know if this is the best thing for starting Necromunda players because of the cost.

The old set from 1995 had a good, low cost solution to the terrain problem inherent in this type of game, but it was cardboard and did drop you out of the immersion quite a bit. When we played a lot (’95-’96), we tended to just leave the exact same map set up because it was fragile to take apart and put together. I still have all of it minus a crapload of bulkheads.

Despite the cost, I definitely want the new set– it’s just how to justify that much, especially since I have the HULK in the basement which is TOTALLY READY FOR NECROMUNDA any time. I get a fucking massive woody thinking about the new terrain pieces combined with the Hulk.

The hobby project around the new set is also looking insane, but as far as I can tell, almost all of it is non-glue so that just leaves the priming and painting, which can be done in stages…. very looongg stages….

“Finished” Goliaths

Since I got my Goliaths finished (at least the first 10), we played this weekend for the first time with the new version and I was very happy with it. It was far too long coming to really sit down and give it a go as I purchased the first Underhive set the week it came out. I was worried about the switch from IGOYOUGO to chess style but it flows well with the ‘leader moves’ mechanic from the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game. If people didn’t notice, GW has been maintaining a ruleset similar to Necromunda for a long time now with the LotRSBG.

I was also concerned with the close combat being boring compared to the old Necromunda (2E 40K) which was fantastic, but it works very well– the acting model has an advantage but if the defender survives, they get a counter.

One thing that was odd to me was NO OVERWATCH. I had my leader stuck around a corner between two groups of adversaries and didn’t know what to do and I was like: oh can I put an overwatch counter on him? Nope. You can’t just sit back and automatically get the drop on someone in the new Necromunda and while strange at first, I think that improves the gameplay flow throughout.

The game is more complex with gangs in the beginning as you get skills right out of the gate. In the old Necro, all the gangs were the same at first except for their equipment choices. In the new one, any Champions and your Leader get a skill at the start.

Anyway, looking forward to more Necromunda. Here’s some shots from the games this weekend which were played on the tiles rather than the 3d board.

Lots of burning…
Escher on Escher Action!
This is a blurry shot, but my leader was trapped on a bridge over green muck by three gangs!

Frostgrave Again!

Here are some shots from our day of Frostgrave this weekend. Fun stuff! A great, very cheap to get into game of wizard warfare in the frozen city. This was only my second (and third) time playing, so I can’t make a ton of comments having only 8-10 hours of play in, but there are some things I really dig about it. It’s easy to build a warband, the most difficult thing being selecting spells/school of wizardry. The rules, while a bit sloppy on the edges, are very clear with the entire game being run off of two D20’s per player (of different colors). The dice in the game matter, especially since it’s a D20 rather than a smaller die size. If your dice are hot, you are going to do really well, if they are in the shits, you are going to be eating snow and frozen mud. While some players have found this abhorrent, I believe this is a feature of Frostgrave.

Stuff I don’t like all that much is archery being very powerful. I can’t attest to this over many games played, but you can do a ton of damage to a warband via archery. This was a common problem in the early days of Mordheim as well though…. make sure your tables are chock full of cover (it is a ruined city after all).

You need to remember as a player that your non-wizard/apprentice figures are FODDER. They don’t level up and they can be replaced pretty easily. My initial warband was a couple of dogs, two templars, a thief, an archer and (usually) a summoned bear. Templars are slow but horrifying to face in combat. Like two handed guys in Lord of the Rings SBG, you pair them with a normal dude and have the two-hander attack for a +6 fight score with +2 to the damage– which is enough to break armor with a roll of 6 on a D20 for most troops. I may have gone with a barbarian but I couldn’t find any painted miniatures.

One of my games took FOREVER on account of the fact that there isn’t a ‘bottle out’ rule like in Necromunda/Mordhiem and the fact that there was fog and mud EVERYWHERE. You can get your little maings to fight to the death no matter how outnumbered or outclassed. Matt complained about his luck, but the fact is, that shit happens when you play with unpainted miniatures. He should know this by now.

Otherwise, I’m going to let the pictures speak for themselves.

I’m proud to say that both my witch and his/her apprentice are rockin g-strings!
The first battle revolved around this magnificent Inn
My Witch trapping a summoned imp on the balcony with treasure…

Blood Bowl – identification issues with the new minis

I got some Blood Bowl in last weekend, and it was my first game with the 2016 version of the game.   I know the game back and forth, but man it’s been awhile and I had to look up a few rules.   I forgot that dodging and picking up the ball are automagically +1 at all times and a couple little things here and there.

I used the humans and my homie had the orks.  We used the total stock 11 player teams that come in the box.  Suboptimal? oh yeah.  Still a fun match up? yep.

My complaints about the Human and Ork scupts proved to be true in game.  Even with the human team completely painted, it was nearly impossible to tell the Blitzers from the Lineman.  I like the lineman sculpts a lot for the humans and the thrower/catcher minis are totally fine but it’s critical that the blitzers are easily identified via their model on the pitch — and with the new human team they are not. Also, they are very BORING blitzers.

The Gary Morley humans from 1993 and the later human team by an unknown GM sculptor (~2004) have the blitzers in a different stance than the lineman and that helps a ton to sort out which is which during play.

The 2016 orks are a bit easier to tell apart except the Black Ork blockers and the Lineman look almost exactly the same. Multiple times during the game I had to ask: is that a Black Orc?  Again the 1993 version of the Ork team had very identifiable silhouettes for the Black Orc and Line orc miniatures– despite the fact that the lineman were not very good looking in that set.  The 1993 orc blitzers were awesome looking.  Unfortunately, the orcs in the new Blood Bowl are super-Sigmarized, that is, they look very much like their Age of Sigmar counterparts with their… ‘rock armor’ is definitely not Blood Bowl.

For the Humans, Forgeworld to the rescue with the two new blitzers in their ‘booster pack’ that actually look like blitzers!  With 4 of these, I think the human minis/team is quite good looking and functional, harkening back in terms of design to Ally Morrison’s human art in the original Blood Bowl rather than SIGMARIZING the miniatures like they did with the orcs.  These are great…


Aly Morrison – Harry the Hammer

All in all I think it’s a good set of blood bowl yet the newGW take on the miniatures is OK.  Importantly, there are tons of alternate BB miniatures for nearly all the teams out there– nearly a cottage industry.  These guys are where I got my Dark Elves from for the new version of the game.

Gencon 2018!

I headed down to Gencon on nearly a whim and it was pretty good. This means that I haven’t missed a Gencon since 1992.  That’s a LOT of Gencons.   This year I was trying to take a break after the insanity of the 50th anniversary last summer and all that, but broke down with both desire and some peer pressure from Matt.

Matt said it was his favorite Gencon ever as he got to game a lot and didn’t have to waste time on taking FAR too much time going out to eat, which is a massive timesink when you add it up.  Going to the RAM for lunch will take at least 2-3 hours minimum and then you are spun back into the Con drunk.

I only went on Saturday for reals and after wandering the hall a bit (trying not to buy anything this year), I got over to the CUBICLE 7 booth and had a chat with none other than Graeme Davis of WFRP fame who was showing off a binder with pages from 4th edition.  Mr. Davis, along with others, wrote the Enemy Within, Shadows over Boganhoffen, Rough Night at Three Feathers and many other great modules for one of the most important RPG’s ever.  WFRP 4 is going to be a merger of 1st and 2nd edition WFRP with nothing from Fantasy Flight’s 3rd edition (no funky dice or chits all over the place or cards for actions).  In addition, he has been tasked with writing the 4th edition Enemy Within in which, he said, would be surprises that help if players have played the 1st edition campaign as well as doing it closer to the original 1E edition.  Davis also co-wrote the 3rd edition version of the Enemy Within for Fantasy Flight.  Talking to Mr. Davis about this subject made the failed BIRD ride from downtown Milwaukee and drive down to Indy the night before totally worth it– the rest of the con was GRAVY.

After that WFRP fangasm, we got in another game of Rising Sun and I pulled out a win, which was the third in the row with different clans (the Fox, Butterfly and Turtle clans respectively).  I don’t usually win Blood Rage, though I love it, so I’m not sure how it’s happening with Rising Sun except via simple experience.  It’s becoming a favorite of the group.

I got in a game of Runequest (the new version from Chaosium) that was OK, the pre-gen character sheets were in the same format as the Free RPG day ones and they really sucked.  Please just list the fucking spells instead of saying “all common rune spells” so that the players, some who are totally new to RQ, have to go look them up in the book that they don’t have.  Another issue with RQ as a CON game is that it expects and demands vast knowledge of the Glorantha background, which, IMO is something to be slowly revealed over the course of a long campaign.  People aren’t going to know all the gods of the Glorantha pantheon– so don’t do CON scenarios that expect players to have that knowledge at all.   The scenario was a typical Glorantha one, with some Broo and some chaos getting all over the place and having to be cleaned up, but had a lot of stuff about the Lightbringers and Orlanthi stuff which all had to be explained in detail.  It was pretty good, but I just do not think Glorantha-based Runequest is much of a CON game.  System wise I miss the Mythras special effects in combat–they copied RQ6’s excellent Passions system: why didn’t they copy it’s superlative combat system as well?  The new RQ Glorantha book looks beautiful though, so should be picked up at some point.  They only had 200 at the CON for sale and I think they sold out pretty quick.

After RQ, I ran DCC for the gang in a very large hall of people and had to talk really loudly. I had to run down to the business center in the hotel in order to print off random characters for the game at the cost of 8$.  I need to remember to bring a huge stack of characters EVERYWHERE I go.   The session was pretty much proof that you can run DCC anywhere under very severe conditions.  I did Frozen in Time which is take on Expedition to the Barrier Peaks except all DCC.  We got fairly far into the module until people started to fall asleep on account of the hour and the drink.  That may be one to finish off.

Other than wandering the dealer hall a bit on Sunday and pestering Tom Babbey at his art booth, buying the obligatory DCC modules, that was pretty much my GENCON.

Some pictures.

I don’t know what these guys are supposed to be but Matt does.

Matt got this lady to do this for reasons I don’t know. He said it was some sort of explosion woman?

The guys playing the almost the best RPG.

The gaming halls were totally packed most of the time.

Rising Sun, pointing.

Confrontation Kickstarter in April

While I was looking for easy ways to fix a Succubus Golgoth busted off her base from AT-43, I found this little surprise out on the interweb tubes.

Note the word “CLASSIC” which likely means 3.5 Conf. and not the AT-43 based version that came out with the plastics.

Not much other information is out there, we’ll have to wait and see with April right around the corner here.