Thursday, April 28, 2016

Infestation Imminent : Commencing Containment Protocol

In the far future, there are no governments.  Huge mega corporations have replaced them, fulfilling citizens needs while making a tidy profit.

Occasionally, something goes wrong.  An ancient alien artifact is discovered on a planet that is mutating the inhabitants into killing machines.  Or man sized rat-like creatures that were once thought to be nothing more than monsters to frighten children have started pouring from their underground lairs.  An alien race has placed a colony and begun the process that humans call terra-forming, but in this case are changing a world to their version of a habitable environment.

It is cases like this where the Council of Seven declares the ultimate sanction - Containment Protocol. The planet is removed from all astral navigation charts, all records of it are purged from the system and the corporate fleets blockade all traffic to and from the surface.  Then squads of the elite Enforcers are sent to secure the threat, with the preservation of any inhabitants a mere secondary objective.  Other factions may find these planets both highly profitable for salvage, and extremely dangerous.  They are spoken of in whispers, and known as Deadzones.

Ok, enough of that!  Unless you have been hiding under a rock (or living in a deadzone yourself), any fan of Mantic games is aware that the new version of Deadzone is shipping to Kickstarter backers right now, and will be commercially released at the end of next month.

Much like Kings of War, it is the players that asked for a new edition of Deadzone.  What was just to be an expansion adding a new faction (Veer-Myn) became a complete re-write of the rules.  I'll go over the new rules next time - but first what is in the new edition?

Deadzone 2.0 Rulebook
First off is the new hardback rule book.  110 full color glossy pages of rules and army lists.  Gone are the faction cards, and added in are the ability to customize your forces like never before.  With very simple composition rules (pick a leader, and for each troop  in your force you can pick a specialist, for every three troops you can pick a vehicle), each army has their own weapon and item lists that can be assigned to give your soldiers their own unique capabilities.  Some specialist are just core troops with more weapon options available to them, while others have their own powerful abilities and weapons.

The battle cards have been replaced with command dice.  These custom six sided dice give you extra capabilities each round adding to the tactics - do I use the extra die now, or wait for later?  When do I activate an extra model?  The dice themselves are ok - however the Mantic splat symbol was done better on the dice that came back with the original Kings of War kickstarter a few years ago - this one just looks a little sloppy.

Deadzone 2.0 Command Dice.  These are (left to right, top to bottom) +1 Model, +1 Die, Move, Shoot, Fight and Special.
As with any game, there are conditions, equipment, wounds and victory points to track - and the new edition comes with a sheet of heavy cardboard tokens to track everything from activations to objective to victory points.
Deadzone 2.0 Counter Sheet
Many of the counters are dual purpose (not that some of the activation counters double as 'on fire' markers, and items that a strike team has purchased have two different sides, effectively doubling the amount.
Deadzone 2.0 Counter Sheet (back)
One of the coolest parts of Deadzone has to be the terrain.  These modular battlezones are an excellent and affordable way to build your terrain collection for this or any other sci-fi themed game (or even modern era games with the brick terrain that used the same system).

The game comes with a paper mat to play on, but you can also get a sturdy deluxe mat (made out of mouse-pad material).  There is a new one being released - this is a redish brown bare planetscape (I've heard it referred to as Mars) as opposed to the original concrete urban mat.  It has the cubes marked on it and should hold up to years of play

Of course it folds or rolls for storage as well.  (it always surprises me (and it shouldn't) how the color looks different based on light and background - the picture (below) taken in my Foldio2 looks much less red than the actual mat (the picture above is the truer color))

For this kickstarter, Mantic has created an all new set of Industrial terrain - so your battle can move beyond the settlement area and into the manufacturing zone.  Pipes, fans and control panels sit among catwalks and supports for your armies to battle for.

There are two new industrial battle zone sprues, and two new industrial accessory sprues.

The first sprue has metal walls and some wire mesh platforms and railings, as well as new and interesting connectors.


back (you can hardly tell however)
The second sprue has a detailed wall panel, a huge industrial fan, large electrical panel, and a doorway that comes with a door that is easily attached or removed.  There are also two quarter sized panels - one of which is designed to connect the large industrial piping you building.
What is a battle without a huge spinning fan just waiting for your enemies to fall into?

There are some great details in these
The first accessory sprue are large pipes.  Several pipe sections and two types of pipe connectors (one of which can be used to attach your pipes to the terrain).  One bit I really like is the two damaged pipe sections - this can really add some character to your games - I can see a pipe bellowing steam into a cube (acting as a smokescreen in the cube - or make it actually burning steam, for a toxic smoke screen)
for everyone that thought more cool terrain was nothing but a pipe dream

The second accessory sprue has several interesting pieces.  Small pipes with several connectors to attach these to your buildings, though there does not seem to be any way to actually have the pipes going into or out of anything.  Catwalks to go between buildings, one of which appears to be a ramp, but I have not yet figured out how it is supposed to attach the others..  A fairly large engine block, and few more pieces just to gain a little more cover and make your battlefield that much more interesting.

Of course, you can't have any kind of battle game without armies to fight.  And the new version has lots of new plastic sprued forces.  The boxed game comes with enforcers (from the first kickstarter, though a bit late), the new enforcer pathfinders, and the new forge father steel warriors.

The enforcer squad comes on a pair of sprues.  One has bodies, legs and arms, the other heads and more weapon options - and those are truly some BFGs that take up almost half the width of the entire sprue!

I backed out of the first DZ kickstarter, so this is the fist time I've seen the enforcer sprues.  Putting a few together - I wonder if they really had to separate the legs from the bodies.  All are lettered as specific legs go with specific bodies - but kind of a pain to get the three pieces positioned correctly. Three laser rifles and three wristblades, no problem there.

Big F...... Guns!
The second sprue - two more laser rifles and two more wrist blades.  Plus five pistols.  The really big gun I believe is the Burst Laser, and the Incinerator is the one with the hose.  Then other options seems to be missing.

There is no missile launcher nor sniper rifle.  However I would assume for those you would use the restic versions (the sniper is probably still my favorite enforcer model).  Lots of wristblades.  One energy gauntlet (for the sergeant and captain (and how are you supposed to tell these two apart?) (and it is nice that you have both left and right pistols and wristblades).  I think there is a piece to mount on an arm to make one a medic (though there is only one left arm that is not holding a weapon - and the hand looks to be set to attach to a heavy weapon, not open).  What I don't see are a shotgun for fusion gun.  There are several tiny bits near the heads and a couple of pouches (and some other guns? with no hands to hold them) that I will again generally be ignoring because I don't want to paint them.

The enforcer pathfinders are brand new sprues.  These don't have the armor of the normal enforcers (nor the very heavily armored peacekeepers), but that makes them both faster and more mobile.  Six pairs of legs and eight heads (I already like the one with the cloak) give you a lot of variation when building these models - no to mention each of the torso's is a unique sculpt.
In addition to the normal human pathfinders, there is also a D.O.G. drone on the sprue.  A fast option with a bit of firepower mounted on it, this can definitely take the fight to your opponent, pinning anything it shoots at (even if it doesn't damage them).

The forge fathers Steel Warriors are new plastic sprues.  For some reason on some of the new sprues Mantic is removing the bits and packaging the separately.  They did this with the Salamanders and Naiads for Kings of War, and now these.  I'm not sure why.  My best guess is the 'normal' sprue holds the bits for 5 models (which is the case for all of these three) - but the clipped pieces must not be enough to fill a sprue, so they are sharing them.

This is fine - but why not have one full sprue of 10 bodies (or in this case legs / weapons) and two sprues of the arms/heads?  At least for the KoW models they only come with 10 models (so 10 models would be three sprues, instead of 2 and 2 bags of pre-cut parts)).

Maybe is is just me that finds this a little unusual.  So here is the Steel Warrior sprue

One thing I haven't liked about any of Mantics models is that there are no instructions anywhere. Generally not a big deal, but it would be nice to know EXACTLY what bits are intended for which. Especially when it comes to weapon options.

My guess is the main guns on the sprue are hailstorm rifles, with the single handed version being the hailstorm pistol for the Huscarl.  It is nice that some of the arms and weapons have letters on them to indicate what they go with (E & F are the Hailstorm Rifles).  There are ABC arms, but since the remaining bits have been removed from the sprues, there is no way to know for sure which weapons are A, B or C.

Before I get to those however is D.  This is an arm and an attachment - but I have no idea what it is supposed to be.  In addition the bottom row of items - are they something specific - most to me are simply unidentifiable bits (which I won't use because I don't want to have to paint them).  The exception is the hose - which weapon is supposed to get it.  I used it on a dragons breath - but then in the book the specialist is holding what I believe is the Magma Rifle with the hose.

Ok, so looking at the "un-sprued" weapons above - my best guess is they are (top) another Hailstorm Rifle and two Dragon's Breath.  Then the lower ones are a Magma Rifle, Hailstorm Auto cannon and Missile Launcher.

This actually fill all weapons options EXCEPT for twin Hailstorm pistols (they need a hailstorm piston in a left hand) and burst pistol.

Also, is there anything special about the backpacks - i.e. do any of them go with any special weapon? I can see the two chests to designate your Huscarls (aside from their different equipment).

This has gotten long enough for now.  Look for my review on the rulebook and the game itself next time.  Plus as soon as I get more of the new models I will have them up for you to see and drool over (including the Enforcer Jetbike models and new Veer-myn Night Crawlers / Stalkers).

Because it is all fun and games . . .

Monday, April 25, 2016

Parting of the ways

It happens in every relationship.  There is an initial rush when you see it for the first time - and in the classic Dork Tower Igor voice you think "It must be mine!".  More and more it grows, eventually filling all available space.

Like all gamers, I often seem to have little self control.  Rather than dwell on the kickstarters I HAVE backed, I prefer to look at all of the ones I have resisted.  I have been pretty good about only buying games, and more specifically miniatures, for games that I actually play.

But I still manage to accumulate more stuff.  Prizes from tournaments, swag bags, or the box from which I ended up using one bit.

I have never sold a painted miniature.  Ok, I did give my very first warhammer army (vampire counts) to my oldest son when he first started playing the game - however that was more of a passing of the torch.  He still plays undead (though it turns out he later sold my old models).  The time, blood (it isn't truly your army if you didn't cut yourself at least once when cleaning / trimming / converting it after all :-)) and sweat I've put into them - I just can't give them up.  But boxed, unpainted minis, especially those that have been sitting in the basement for years - I really have no attachment to them. Especially for games I don't even play, or no longer play.  Or armies that I have finished.

I'm at the point in my life where I'm not gaming on a shoestring budget.  A good job, kids having moved out and being (for the most part) self sufficient (and if there isn't a better parenting win than that then I don't know what it is) actually leaves me able to get new games or minis when I want them.  But there are still some things that I can't quite justify.  I want a battery operated printer to use for the tournaments I run.  I'm having problems justifying that cost to myself.  So I finally decided that it was time to let go of some of the things just taking up space that I will never use.

So it comes to that great internet garage sale - ebay.  Now I'd never sold anything on ebay before - I had attempted at one time to sell my son's Orc & Goblin army for him - but I asked too much and it didn't sell.

I put out several boxed, shrink-wrapped items - and two went in a few days at a fixed price - but the others weren't moving - and I hate waiting, so I changed them to 'traditional' auctions.

It is interesting (at least to me) that ebay is all about you being able to sell your items - however it isn't necessarily about you making much off of them.  I followed their recommendations - start your auctions at $0.99.  You should also have free shipping.  I can't do that - I already underestimated shipping on the first item I sold.  Plus the 10% ebay fee, and the 2.5% (plus $0.30) pay pal fee - it is possible to actually lose money selling something too cheaply.  So I've tried to estimate shipping that is reasonable but covers the actual cost without knowing final cost ahead of time.

I put up a "buy it now" price on the items as well - a bit less than the previous fixed price.  Yeah, nobody touched that.  The auctions were all set for a week - a bit more reasonable wait than a month. But not less stressful.  Of course in this day and age of smart phones I have the ebay app and get notifications (with a satisfying " ch-ching" sound) every time a bid is placed.  So I'm watching these - and seeing if they are actually going to go for enough to actually make a bit of money.  It didn't take long for somebody to make the minimum bid of $0.99 on everything - I kind of figure these were just people trying to get anything they could super cheap.  It is once you get a second bid (ok, only $1.25) on an item that you feel like it might grow.

Of course the final hour is the worst - waiting, watching and wondering.  How many people are waiting until the last minute - how high will it go (or how low will it stay)?

What I am finding is even before the auctions are over, I'm thinking of what more to put up there.  No nice good box sets - but old sprues I will never use?  Baggies of unassembled minis w/ cards for other games (which I got in a swag bag, but only wanted a few of the minis).  There is also a sort of leveling system, and it is fairly important as it means the money from the sales is available a bit sooner (not a bad idea - if you haven't established a good record as a seller they hold it for up to three weeks - to give the buyers time to complain or return things.  So simply make 25 sales, for a total of at least $250, and be an active seller for more than 60 days.  So I'm not quite half way to the first requirement, more than half to the second - and for the last, well only time will tell.

Now you don't always have to wait 21 days - if you buyer posts positive feedback after the sale, then it frees up your money a couple of days afterward.  So if you do buy things on ebay - there is a reason to leave feedback as soon as you get and are satisfied with your items.

So it looks like I have at least one more round to try - time to start taking some more pictures and getting items up, as well as ("ch-ching as I write this and an item goes up a $1.75 with 37 minutes to go") packing items and getting them ready to ship tomorrow.

One thing I've already learned is that pay-pal has a nice shipping label feature, with several great benefits.  It adds tracking to the package and sends the tracking number to the buyer (nice to have),  but keeps the postage first class (not priority).

And now as my auctions end in between 5 and 43 minutes I'm seeing even more bids, upping the excitement (and the money, which, in the end, is the main reason for this).

- - - at this point I grilled a steak for dinner, and mowed the lawn (some people have a backyard that is a beautiful repose from the hectic stress of their everyday life - I have a dog toilet I have to mow), before I came back - - -

Once they ended - then came the big rush as payments came in, a combined shipment was negotiated, shipping labels were printed up, and a stack of packages started to grow.

Among all of this frenzy was me listing new stuff (because I like these ending on Sunday).  One was a second copy of a warmachine battlegroup - which sold in about an hour with a buy it now price that was higher than the weeks auction for the same item had been :-).  This did cause me some confusion as the second sale was paid for before the first (and I'm scrambling to see if I had the wrong label on the package until I realized that both had sold).

Of course being in the eastern time zone - some of the people in California just had to pay after I went to bed (including buying another of the new items I had just put up), so in the morning I had three more packages to get ready so I could take them to the post office all at once.

It is interesting playing the strategy (how much do I start this at, do I do postage or a reserve, fixed price or auction) and then seeing what happens - it feels kind of like a game in itself.  A little like roborally - program my item and let it go to see where it ends up.  In a way it is like gambling - but you can't really lose - maybe just not bring in as much as you might hope for.

And at least the crate that had a bunch of boxes of models that I never used (most of them several years old) is now empty - which means I have more room for more models!

Because it is all fun and games . . .

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Adepticon 2016 pt 3

There was more going on at Adepticon this year than just the Clash of King Championship for Kings of War.

On Thursday was the first annual Team Tournament at Adepticon.  For once it was a Kings of War tournament I was NOT running, so my son Jon and I went in together.  Trying to decide what to bring - I figured it was time to bring my drunk Dwarfs out of mothballs.  So I brewed some beer (my signature Bourbon Red Ale and a new Tsudochan Trappist Tripel) and Jon created a nature army consisting of Pale Ale and Amber Lager Beer Elementals (water elementals), Hops Elementals (Forest Shamblers), Keg elemental (Greater Earth Elemental) and a couple of druids.  These were added to my horde of drunk dwarfs (Ironclad), bottle shooters (rangers), shieldbreakers (beer hammers), cannon, organ gun and engineer.

Team Drunk on display board
As a team we didn't do anything like coordinating t-shirts - however we did use a couple of beer horns.
Beer Horn with strap and holder
Jon actually did a pretty good job of making his beer elementals match the two styles of beer that I made (the Bourbon Red Ale was for the team tournament, the Tsudochan Trappist Tripel was for the Dreadball tournament on Friday)
Amber Lager and Pale Ale elementals
We did get a picture of use next to the display before the tournament began.
Jon is the tall bald one, I'm the shorter, greying bald guy.
As the tournament got started, so did sharing of the beer.  A lot of people came by admiring the army, display board, and even more the fresh beer tap.  I went through about 3/4 of the keg in the day - which wasn't too bad.  Jon and I went 1-1-1.  Unfortunately I got a little too much into playing and didn't manage to take any more pictures.  We came in the middle of the pack, but really enjoyed it.

I did bring the Tripel for the Dreadball tournament.  Five games - I went 2-3-0 with Tsudochan.  The three games I lost were all to Mutant teams.  Once more I managed to not take any pictures.

Saturday night was the 2nd annual Mantic Night - and I was again running a Kings of War Mega Battle.  Again we had good v evil - and so far the record was Good had 4 wins, Evil had none, and both teams lost against a bunch of giants.  So evil was due to win.

I wanted to shake things up a bit, so we played Kings of War soccer.  There were 7 tokens on the board - once a unit touched a token they scored a point for their side and the token then moved in a random direction 4D6".  The same side could not touch the same token twice in a turn.

Evil took the first turn, and started off with an impressive 5 point lead.  They continued to dominate, getting most of the random token moves back into their side of the board.

Deployment and first turn

Did I really just roll that?

Ogres Smash!

Sue counting her hits

and I charge here

Ronnie was having some fun (I have this shirt as well! :-) )

All the way down the table after the snacks came out

The side for the forces of good, not able to score much

Everyone rolling at once.
At the end of the game, the Forces of Evil won with 23 points v. the Forces of Good with 16 pts.  But a good time was had by all, and balance is starting to be restored with a record now of 4-1-1 (Good/Evil/Tie).
The forces of Evil gloating with their victory (finally) over the forces of Evil.
Adepticon 2016 was a blast, and we are already talking about what we want to do next year to make it even bigger and better for Mantic and Kings of War.

Because it is all fun and games . . .

Monday, April 18, 2016

Time for a big Salute!

The UK saw the annual Salute games expo this weekend, and as always, Mantic was there in force. They had a huge mega battle, a fantastic deadzone display, and lots of new toys to see.

While I couldn't be there - the Brueckenkopf blog got lots of pictures, which I am reposting here. Check out their blog entry at Salute 2016: Mantic Games for the original pictures and discussion.

If you were at Mantic night at Adepticon a few weeks ago (and if you weren't - check out the Mantic North America Podcast which has Ronnie's Q & A), Ronnie revealed the next new release for Kings of War - an Empire of Dust army using the existing plastics with new metal conversion bits (think the old Twilight King and original Abyssal Dwarfs).  We at Salute they had some concept art!

What would the EoD be without Skeletons

and mummies

or giant statues

and elite skeletons

and finally their own artillery!
However, the big new thing is Deadzone.  The kickstarter is supposed to start shipping this week - so of course they had some of the new models on display.  But Deadzone is set in the Warpath universe - so these models also work for that new system due in the fall.

First are the new GCPS troops plastics.  In Warpath, the marauders are still part of the GCPS as well.

Of course these aren't limited for use in Mantic's games - any sci fi game where you need human troops (normal humans that is, not genetically modified super soldiers in power armor) then these will soon be available.

The marauders - and I don't recall seeing these before -are they sneaking some new stuff in?

One of the new Rebs special characters, Adrienne Nikolovski

The new Forge Father Steel Warriors - these replace the old versions that were fantasy dwarf legs / backs with sci fi bodies and heads.  Much nicer (but don't worry if you have the old ones - they are now intended to be fielded as militia).

The new Forge Father plastic tank

The 'good guys' need to have bad guys to fight - and in the new edition the Veer-Myn are the new bad guys. (Don't worry, the plague are still their spreading their contagion throughout the galaxy).
Crawlers and Stalkers - and that looks like bags with Night Terrors in the back

A progenitor and Weapon Platform
They also had a big Deadzone diorama on display - the pictures can speak for themselves.

Lastly, Fisty Glue Man (@FistyGlueMan on twitter) also got some good shots - you can check them out
I almost missed this! Forgefathers and corp humans for deadzone/warpath

Could that also be some of the new Enforcer Pathfinders mixed in with the other enforcers?

Because it is all fun and games . . .