Friday, November 22, 2013

Every Doctor Has His Day

Doctor Who celebrates its 50th anniversary tomorrow, with a special called The Day of the Doctor. Being a recent but devoted Doctor Who fan (I won't say Whovian, because I'm not quite there yet), I have taken the day off from work to settle in with my lovely wife, who I have been also slowly converting. She started with Torchwood and is more of a Capt. Jack fan, but the Doctor is beginning to grow on her.

I have been wanting to paint up one of Heresy Miniatures line of Not-Doctor-Who figures for a while, and I figured there would be no better time than now. I love David Tennant's 10th Doctor, so I went with Dr. Hugh II.

I almost went with the first version for the long coat, but I haven't seen a picture of it yet that I've liked the face in, and I don't trust my meager skills to make mine the exception. Hugh II still cuts a dashing figure. I avoided the difficult pinstripes and chose one of his blue suits. I haven't based him, since it's more of a display model and if I use him the black base will sort of slide into any genre easily.

Of course you can't have a Doctor without a TARDIS:

It's nothing special, just a TARDIS monitor mate popped off it's spring. It was cheap, pre-painted and fit the bill nicely. The Doctor is more true 25mm, so it's a little big but it fits well among my minis collection.

The greatest thing about Doctor Who is that anything can happen, so I expect he'll make some appearances in my games. He looks just as comfortable fighting eldritch horrors:

As he does staring down the servants of the God-Emperor of Mankind in the 41st Millennium:

Or maybe fighting some ancient ghosts with a medieval knight at his side:

No matter where he goes, he'll no doubt save the day. I don't have any companions for him yet, but I haven't found any models I like for it yet. I'd love to have a Martha Jones, but nothing I've found seems to fit her.

If anyone else is looking for some good Doctor Who stand in's and wants to leap in head first, Heresy is offering a big bundle deal that really is a deal. They also have some aliens that fit the bill as baddies. And, right on top of things, Heresy also has their version of John Hurt's War Doctor, the secrets of which I can't wait to learn tomorrow!

And because I can, I'm going to leave you with this image:


Monday, November 18, 2013

Do You Hear That Rumbling Sound?

Unlike a lot of people who backed Steve Jackson's OGRE Designer's Edition, I had never payed the game before. There's no particular reason for this. It has been around for 30 years, and I like everything it has to offer: Dystopian sci-fi; lasers and tactical nukes; and giant, soul-less cybernetic tanks that crush everything in their path. Steve Jackson also makes some of my favorite games.

I also recognized this as a turning point in gaming as a whole. Kickstarter was still kind of a new thing in terms of board games at that point, and reaching almost a million dollars was mind boggling at the time, even though more recent tabletop endeavors have reached more than three times that amount. I was more than happy to drop $150 on both a good game and a massive icon in board gaming culture.

When OGRE and it's accompanying swag arrived, I was not disappointed.

As you can see, it arrived in 2 boxes. There is a practical reason for that. That giant box taking up almost half of my 6'x4' table? Yeah, that's just the game.

That's 28 pounds of board game stuffed in there, with barely any room for packing material. It's 24 by 20 inches, and almost 6 inches deep. That is big enough to play other games on top of. 

Standing on end, it is like a massive monolith to the gaming gods. I half expected apes to gather around it and start murdering each other.

Given that the counter sheets don't fit in the box unpunched, it came packed with it's insides on the outside, covered with a sheet that looks like the back of the box.

It's all very pretty and informational. It's practically a poster in it's own right and would look very nice in a frame, if one had the space on the wall.

It also describes the entire contents of the box. There is so much in this box. It's crazy. It is the work of an absolute madman. Thank you very much,
Mr. Jackson, for including us all in your madness.

Speaking of which, there are a number of sponsored sheets in the box, purchased by some equally as mad gamers. Maybe if I had the disposable income, I might have done the same. But probably not. It takes a special sort of wonderful crazy to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on little cardboard counters. And they are absolutely wonderful additions to the game. Thank you so much for your craziness!

The sheet does a good job of telling you what's in the box, but it doesn't really prepare you for what's inside. Luckily, it has a back side that at least tries to warn you.

It has a set of lovely (and pretty necessary) assembly instructions. But in case you can't read that headline, take a closer look.

Yes, you are reading that correctly. More than a thousand counters. That is not a lie. Prepare to set aside 3-4 hours to punch everything out and assemble it. It sounds daunting, but you will love every second.

Opening the box, you are greeted with this:

These two plastic trays are the OGRE Garage and will hold all of the OGREs from the base game, with a fair bit of room to spare for extras. Filled up, it looks like this:

Taking those out, you see the bottom tray, filled with the original OGRE map and FOUR maps (in 8 pieces) for G.E.V, the companion game to OGRE. That's right. You get 2 games in the box!

Below the boards is a super-useful tray with slots for everything and more, much like the garage.

And here it is, filled not quite to the brim with cardboard goodness:

All those perfectly organized counters started out looking like this:

The box of course includes the rules, reminder sheets and several rosters for the different OGREs, plus a set of very pretty dice:

Lastly, there is a gorgeous poster of the blueprints to an OGRE Mk V. I am still looking for a place to put this and I fear it will never fit anywhere in my house properly.

Of course there is still one tiny box to explore. Yes, the swag! The box contains an extra set of the sponsored "Targets Go Boom" sheets:

Some lapel pins with the Paneuro and Combine logos:

An ugly red shirt that I can never wear because I am terribly ginger:

Honestly, I wish there had been color/design choices for the shirts. I know why there couldn't be, but I would look terribly silly in this. I think some black and white shirts with classic counter images on them would be terrific and would buy one in a heartbeat.

The box also had a large, (equally ugly) red carry bag. I was also kind of disappointed in this. The bag is very tight, making it more like a game sleeve. The shoulder strap is also about 6 inches too short to be useful. As much as I'm loving this game so far, I don't really need it hugging my body while I lug it around. 

And finally, it comes with a pocket version of OGRE, in a similar style to the way it was originally produced back in 1977. I was most excited for this because I can take OGRE everywhere and if I don't want to lug almost 30 pounds of game out to play, I don't have to.

As I understand it, this version is going to available to buy for a limited time at the original $2.95 price. So, yeah, keep an eye out and go get one when it becomes available. 

So after all that, I'm going to leave you with two images. The first is a classic game of OGRE, set up and ready to go:

You will notice I have my tablet out. If you have a mobile device capable, download the OGRE War Room app. It tracks your games, OGRE stats and even calculates combat for you. This is good, since all combats come down to reducing fractions in order to roll odds. Not terribly hard in the grand scheme, but why do more work than you have to? Plus it has music and sound effects! Pew pew!

The final image pretty much speaks for itself:

No, thank you, Mr. Jackson, for producing this fine game. It is a work of art. Your baby has finally grown up and is demanding the attention it deserves. The journey from pocket game to massive gaming icon is nothing short of amazing.

Finally, I know there are probably lots of shots of things I missed that people would like to see. Leave me a comment below and I would be more than happy to post some shots in a second article. Let me know what you want to see!

Happy gaming!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Courage In The Face Of Demons

I haven't posted in a while, and I have been feeling remiss. This is partly because I have been lazy, and partly because we acquired a new puppy. Meet Macon:

So with a little free time today, I decided to play a quick game of Song of Blades and Heroes, documenting it for posterity. It is a classic tale of good versus evil, where stout men fend off the forces of Hell itself.

On the good side, we have the brave warriors of Gondor (or a Gondor-like equivalent). Lead by the brave Not-Boromir, these warriors have a tough road ahead of them.

This is an extremely basic warband, straight out of the rulebook. It consists of a Human Leader, 3 Human Warriors and 3 Human Elite Archers. Simple but organized and effective.

The vile forces of evil are a strike force of Fiends straight out of the depths of Hell. What is their purpose in the lands of men? Only darker powers know...

The Devils are a custom warband and consist of:

Major Fiend Commander Q3+ C4 Big, Evil, Flying, Leader, Shooter: Short
Bearded Devil Q3+ C4 Evil, Poison
2 Hell Hounds Q3+ C3 Animal, Evil, Long Move, Shooter: Short
2 Bladeling Mercenaries Q4+ C3 Evil, Savage

A paladin would have a field day with these gentlemen, but luckily there isn't one around to spoil their fun.

The scene for the battle is around the ruins of a skull-faced tower surrounded by trees in a dark forest.

Taking opposite sides of the field, Not-Boromir sends his archers to take the high ground, while his warriors move to close off the gap in the crumbling walls.

The Devils respond by moving around the tower, sheltering themselves from any stray arrows.

The hell hounds use their speed to break off and harass the archers...

While the warriors seal off the gap as the Fiends close in.

One of the hell hounds pays for its boldness with its life while the warriors surge through the gap to slay one of the bladelings and deal the bearded devil a stunning blow.

The remaining hell hound flees the archers and rushes join the fray near the tower as the major devil moves in to tilt the odds towards the forces of Hell.

With a powerful blow, the major devil smashes the warrior into a thin, red paste inside his armor...

The sight of which proves too much for Not-Boromir and he flees. 

Flapping his mighty wings, the Devil commander easily catches up and engages the terrified leader.

The archers move down to help the last warrior standing, one of the unleashing an arrow through the gap in the wall to fell the last hell hound.

The victory is short lived, however, as the major devil smashes Not-Boromir into the dirt with an audible crack of bones and armor. The humans scatter, losing heart at the horrible sight.

Rallying, the archers regroup, sending a hail of arrows at the major devil and driving him into the trees.

In a fit of rage, the fiend launches himself at the archers, hurling a fireball which barely misses one of them.

Blinded by his rage, the major devil ignores the archer to his left. This becomes a fatal mistake as the archer puts an arrow behind his ear, felling the beast in a crash of roars, blood and dust. The last bladeling flees and is cut down while the bearded devil makes for the trees, living to fight another day.

With the forces of evil vanquished, the human soldiers return home to honor their dead with ale and song. Huzzah!

So, there we have it. I must say I really enjoy playing the Gondorian warband. Human Elite Archers rock, even more so with good leadership. It is basic but it really, really works.

The Devils I have not had so much luck with. This is their second battle and they are currently 0 for 2. I will need more practice with them. I will need to work on not over-extending the Hell Hounds. Leader may not be the best choice for the Major Devil. His size makes him an easy target and also means he needs to get stuck in to work his best, which is a dangerous gamble for a leader.

And that's my battle report. Hope you enjoyed the show and happy gaming!