Friday, June 29, 2012

Falling for FUBAR

Today, some of us finally got to try out FUBAR, a one-page, free set of rules by Gawd 'Elp Us Games.  The scenario, developed by my friend Adrian, was: 

An American special forces strike-team conducts a surprise attack against a Brazilian command post, pictured above, during a near-future conflict on some gawdawful colony world.

The American force drops-in on the Brazillians with VTOLs...

...and mech units dropped from orbit.

Unfortunately for the Yanks, the Brazillians weren't as surprised as the intelligence reports said they would be. 

The first mech to hit the ground, well, hit the ground--permantely--from a Brazillian barrage of rifle fire and missiles. 

While an entire American squad was wiped out by the combined fire of two Brazillian ones.

Only one other mech unit managed to drop from orbit and it was instantly immobilized.

After this latest casualty, the American force withdrew. 

Since this was our first FUBAR game, we held an extensive after action review, discussed the rules themselves and the scenario.

This game is just what we're looking for.  The action was fast and furious.  (Too furious for us American players, but that's besides the point).

We made a few suggestions to Adrian about the scenario, primarily about giving the Americans a free move once they land.  This was suppose to be a surprise attack afterall.  In conjunction to this, the Brazillians would suffer a negative modifier when attempting to activate their troops.

From the outset of the game, everyone concentrated in the center and left the outlying areas of the battlefield alone.  So we suggested placing objectives in other areas around the playing area. 

The figures, buildings and terrain were from Adrian's 15mm sci-fi collection.  He plans on running this scenario again and maybe even presenting it at next year's Enfilade!

As for me, I'm looking forward to incorporating the Star Wars FUBAR into my Redshift campaign.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Back on Track with Chapter 4

For the past week, I've been working on reconstructing Chapter 4.  I'm happy to report that not only do I have nearly 20 pages (out of 37, so far) completed, but I discovered a minor plot hole in the rewriting process.

I was hoping to finish this chapter today and have it posted by the end of the month.  But instead I worked on polishing up the current adventure our heroes are involved in for a game session this coming Saturday.  So this is a good delay, especially since our heroes are in the middle of a hot pursuit that needs to be resolved.

I appreciate everyone's interest in my previous post.  Initially I debated whether to write such a post in the first place.  My intention wasn't to whine about my ill fortune. 

Okay, maybe venting my frustration had a small role in influencing me to write that post.

Okay, Okay!  Venting my frustration had a large role in influencing me...

...Anyway, two of the most difficult jobs of being a "content provider," are gaining--and maintaining--readers' interest in my material.  There's a lot of shiny things dangling out there on the internet clamoring for everyone's attention, which means I'm facing a ginormous amount of competition. 

So if I don't post material on a regular basis, I run the risk of readers losing interest and going somewhere else.  Therefore, I felt an update on my webcomic was in order.

I'd also give a shout out to Mark of Plasq, the makers of Comic Life, the program I use for my webcomic.  He offered some timely and helpful suggestions.  Plasq also has the potential to retrieve lost data, provided you don't overwrite it using the same file name like I did.  If any of you are interested in developing a similar webcomic, I can't recommend Comic Life highly enough.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Unforeseen Delay in Posting Chapter 4

Well folks, tonight I INTENDED to post Chapter 4 of Breakout From Bongolaan, my Star Wars Legacy-Era webcomic.  Unfortunately, for reasons I cannot explain, the entire chapter disappeared from my computer. 
I scrupulously use the "Save As" function regularly and my anti-virus software is also up-to-date.  So I'm at a complete and total loss as to why this happened.

To say that I am frustrated and angry over this is a gross understatement.  Nor is this the first time this the first my first brush with file-death.  I had a similar problem on the eve of posting Chapter 3, two months ago.  Back then, when I opened the file, I discovered every photo was deleted.  Fortunately all the narrative and dialogue remained in the picture boxes, which displayed "???" on a khaki backgrounds.  So I opened another page, re-pasted photos, then cut and pasted the verbiage on to the new file.  It was time consuming, but required little re-thinking or re-evaluation of the storyline.

This is far worse, because everything in Chapter 4--all 33 pages of photos, dialogue and narrative--is gone.  When I opened the program, I got a "Unable to Open File" message.  When I conducted file search, I came across a blank file named Chapter 4, but when I tried to open that, I got an "Invalid File" message.  Nor is it in my computer's Recycle Bin.

My original goal was to post one chapter each month, in order to maintain interest among my readers and fans.  I'm already two months behind my goal and I have no idea how long this new delay will cost me.  As of now, I re-created a 33 page framework for Chapter 4 and have a whopping 6 pages of photos re-installed. Once I refill the file with pictures, then I'll have to go through the painstaking task of re-writing the entire scene.

To put my feelings in gamer terms:  My motivation has taken a critical hit.

I was really looking forward to posting Chapter 4, because it will be something of a milestone.  This was to be the chapter that introduces the other heroes in the story, seen in the above picture, from left-to-right:  Cad So Billes, Sei'do Avari and Nance Windu. 

I wrote a lengthy e-mail to the folks at Comic Life, the program I use to create my graphic novel. Up until now, I've been very happy with this product. But as I mentioned in my e-mail, if this happens again, I am going to look for another program.

To my readers and fans:  I appreciate your support and patience.  Thank you.

"We are experiencing technical difficulties, please stand by..."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Enfilade's Bring & Buy Bounty

Next to gaming, Enfilade's "Bring & Buy" is a perennial favorite.  It's essentially a wargamer's flee market.  Any attendee can drop off his unwanted gaming-related material and earn some money--usually to buy other gamers' unwanted gaming-related material.  This can range from finely painted miniatures with a top-dollar asking price, to bargain-basement deals owners want to unload for a quick sell. 

NHMGS takes a 10% cut to add to its coffers, so the Bring & Buy is a win-win-win situation.

As for my personal purchases, I went with the bargain-basement stuff, shown in the lead photo.

I picked up Barbarian Kings for $2.  I'm not sure if I'll get around to playing the game.  Instead, I thought I envision using this as a campaign setting and mechanism for fantasy battles.  That is, if I ever get around to running a fantasy campaign. 

The next bargain I found was Fast Attack Boats, a Yaquinto "album game," for $3.  I bought this for two reasons.  First, I use to own this game.  My brother and I played it a few times, but then I lost it sometime during my miltary suervice.  This wasn't hard to do, because the playing pieces, once cut, are nearly impossible to store in the album sleeve.  (See the review underneath the Forums on Boardgame Geek's [BGG] page).  The second reason I bought this is, I've amassed a scores of Arab-Israeli micro armor and have several related boardgames, so I thought this would make a nice addition to my collection.  (The counters are stored in another Arab-Israeli boardgame). 

The first edition Starfire was another itty-bitty game I use to own, but never played, because my friends at the time were more interested in Starfleet Battles.  I found the boxed version in a pile for $6.  Since I'm now running a Star Wars campaign, I may use this to run large fleet actions.  Yes, I know the counters look nothing like the ships seen in Star Wars movies and games, but Bring & Buy beggars can't be choosers.  Starfire is now on it's fifth edition and has its own website, along with being the source material for five novels.

My last purchase was the most expensive.  For $10 I got Legends of the High Seas.  While I'm not a fan of pirates per se, (especially since we're having enough trouble the Somali variety), I am a big fan of the Age-of-Sail era.  As a result, I own several pirate games, so this Legends will be added to my treasure chest.

I'm very pleased with my purchases and look forward to next year's bounty.

An aside note:  If anyone is interested in downloading and printing the Fast Attack Boats top-down counter sheets and the Record Sheets found under the Files of the BGG entry, I have some words of caution.  When I clicked on the record sheet page goes blank and I get a virus warning message.  While I didn't get a such a message when I attempted to print the top-down counters, various tabs on my computer screen went black and the page failed to print.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Gamemastering at Enfilade 2012

(Image:  Yours Truly, standing, looking scholarly at my first game at Enfilade 2012)

Well, I managed to survive my Enfilade Gamemastering Triathalon.  As I mentioned in my Product Review post (17 May), this was my first time at running games at a convention.  I've been GMing for close friends since I was a teen, but have never done this with total strangers.

Everyone liked the games I ran, which were Blitzkrieg Commander (BKC), Cold War Commander (CWC) and Future War Commander (FWC)

In my first game, BKC pictured above, there were 3 players who were familiar with the game.  I was greatful for this, since they helped me get with understanding the rules.  However, as the game progressed, this inadvertantly turned into the proverbial double-edged sword, because one or more players often got ahead of themselves in terms of the game sequence.  Fortunately, they recognized what was happening and made efforts to follow the proper order.

My friend Adrian, was a participant in my second game, CWC.  He was running a 3mm CWC game next period and since this was his first time using the rules, as it was mine, he wanted to see how everything played out.  Despite his "alterior motives," I was glad to have a good friend attend one of my convention games.

By the time I ran my FWC game, I was tired but finally comfortable with my GM abilities (or lack thereof).  I chose to use these rules because I have a micro armor collection that spans WWII, through the Cold War and into the sci-fi realm.  I also plan on using FWC for mass combat in my Redshift Campaign.

After reading each set of rules, about 3 times over, I was pleased to see they played-out as I expected.  On the good side, the rules are easy to pick up.  Basically, one needs to roll a 4, 5 or 6 on a 6-sided die to successfully hit an enemy unit.  There are several modifiers and special notes that are often hard to remember, but that's the same issue with any other set of rules.

The command and control mechanism is fairly simple and certainly generates a "fog of war" feeling.  However, I'm not particularly crazy about the idea that since command units are immune to direct fire, they can race ahead of the combat units they're leading.  Since the convention, I wrote a 3-page command variant, which I plan on playtesting with my friends.  Once the bugs are worked out, I plan on incorporating this into the Redshift Chronicles--and maybe using them at the next Enfilade I attend.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

RIP Ray Bradbury

(Image:  My sister "Rox of Spazhouse" w/Ray Braybury, circa 1998)

The famous sci-fi author, passed away earlier today. 

I must admit I didn't read too many of his books, only Fahrenheit 451 and the Martian Chronicles.  I must say though, my favorite story was The Fog Horn.

Ray Bradbury will certainly be missed.

Remembering D-Day