Friday, September 22, 2006

Movie Review: Flyboys

Flyboys is based loosely on the experiences of the Lafayette Escadrille in WWI. This French aviation squadron was made up of American volunteers prior to the entry of the US into the war.

The movie is an entertaining showcase of computer generated aerobatics, but it's a bit too long and a bit too cliched to be a truely good film. If it was just one or the other it would be more forgivable, but the two combined tend to drag the film down. When the characters aren't in the cockpit the film drags, particularly during the romantic subplot. You can't blame this on the acting, which is good, there just isn't a lot for the actors to work with. Their characters are a checklist representing different war film archetypes. You will probably be able to tell who will live and who will die as soon as they appear on screen.

A couple of the characters are supposedly based on real-life people, while the rest are supposedly amalgamations of different real-life flyers. Even so, the characters come off cliched.

Still, the action scenes almost make up for it. Seeing some of these classic planes recreated in full color was a treat. If it wasn't for the amount of downtime between each dogfight, this would have been a more entertaining film.

Also, the film does a pretty good job showing just how dangerous life was for a WWI fighter pilot. The escadrille always comes back from a mission short some pilots. I have to give it credit for that and for showing period costume and uniforms in full color. This is always nice for an era usually only portrayed in black and white.

The film earns its PG-13 rating for violence. It's a war film. There's death, there's blood, and there's maiming. Not as graphic as many other war films, but it's all there. Other than a couple of brief scenes inside a brothel, there's no sex in the film, not even partial nudity. The romantic subplot gets no further than a kiss.

For the reasons I've mentioned, I can't give this film a full recommendation. I'd say wait for it to come out on DVD, but the action scenes are worth seeing on the big screen. I just wish they made up a larger percentage of the film, or else that the rest of the film had more to offer.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

First Warmachine Battle

Well, I didn't take any pics, but then only a couple of my models were painted and none of my opponent's were even primed. Heck, his Behemoth model consisted of the base and one leg!

My usual beginner's luck held up and I won, barely. It was internecine warfare as my 500 point Khador force led by Sorscha faced his force led by a pretender Sorscha. My force consisted of the starter set for Khador, plus a unit of Doomreavers, a Greylord Ternion, and Alexia Ciannor. His force was Sorscha, a Destroyer, a Spriggan, and the Behemoth.

This was the first game for both of us (well, my opponent had played a demo game before, but this was his first full 500 point game). I totally did not know the rules. I had asked to just watch a match first, but the host of the game day at the FLGS insisted that the newbies start. So, I quickly went over my stat cards and began play. Fortunately the host and his friend were both pretty good about answering questions as we played.

The game board was open terrain with a couple of hills. LOS was not an issue. I got the first turn and advanced all my units, but that was it. I should have tried to bombard with my Destroyer, or cast Fog of War, but I didn't even think about either. I may not have been in range for bombarding though.

He did bombard with his Behemoth on his turn, taking out a Thrall that Alexia had created as well as a couple of Risen. The Destroyer then took out one of my Doomreavers.

The second turn I still didn't bombard, just moving my units closer, except for Alexia and her remaining Riven who retreated. I did cast Fog of War this turn, which would make it harder for my opponent to hit any of my units except for Alexia and her Risen which were out of range. My Greylords also managed to get a couple attacks off on the Destroyer and his Sorscha with Frost Bite, but didn't do a lot of damage. Meanwhile he moved his entire force towards Alexia, with the Spriggan charging the nearby Doomreavers. Fortunately, he was only able to get one of them.

The next turn I charged his Sorscha and her accompaning Destroyer and Behemoth with my remaining Doomreavers. They managed to take off a few more hits on his Sorscha, but she still had at least a half dozen or so hits left. Then on his turn he managed to knock down my Juggernaut and Sorscha with Tempest. He followed this up by attacking with his Spriggan, using grenades against Sorscha follwed by bombarding Sorscha with his Behemoth. The end result left my Sorscha with a single hit left!

Obviously enraged by this, my Sorscha stood up, used her feat, and cast two Razor Wind spells at his Sorscha, finishing her off and winning the match!

It was a very close game, with all the decisive moves (my opponent's Spriggan attack and reminding me to use my feat) being suggested by the host of the session. I learned a lot about how Warmachine plays, and am pleased with what I learned.

I'm also inspired to continue painting the rest of my force (so far just the starter box and a single Doomreaver are painted). I've also looked at what I might get to expand my force to 1000 points.

Alexia was a complete non-factor in this game, except for drawing fire that should have gone to other units. She led the largest unit on my side, and I think that distracted my opponent. Once he realizes just how weak Risen are he won't let them distract him like that. He almost focused all his efforts on Alexia, until the host pointed out that she wasn't my warcaster.

I can see where she will be usefull when the other side takes troops, but against an all warjack force, she has limited utility.

My other units all proved their worth though. The Doomreavers, Greylords, and Sorscha all contributed directly to his Sorscha's defeat, while my Juggernaut and Destroyer both provided useful assists.

I'm now looking forward to building my force and playing future matches. I'm also inspired to continue my painting after getting some positive comments on the units I've managed to do so far.

The only downside is that out of six players there, five of them have Khador forces, and three of those only have Khador forces. There's going to be a lot of internecine warfare going on.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Warhammer 7th Edition Changes

I was going to wait to post this, but it looks like like GW is already releasing information on the changes in the 7th edition, and I never agreed to any confidentiality clause, so I figure it's ok to go ahead and post it. If they contact me about it I'll probably pull it back down later (if they ask nicely).

At first glance, there doesn't seem to be that many changes between the latest edition of WHFB and the previous one, but when you start to look more closely you find that there are quite a few. Most of them seem to have been made with the goal of eliminating some of the trickier bits in the rules.

Here's a list of the actual changes I've found so far. I probaby missed a few (in fact I'm sure I did after reading some of the stuff already up on the GW site that mentions changes that I missed), and I may have included one or two "changes" that were actually around in the last edition, and I just missed them. I aplogize for any of those that slipped through.

Unit strengths: warmachines now have a strength equal to their remaining crew rather than just a fixed strength of three.

Line of Sight: single characters on foot no longer get a 360 degree arc of sight, but only the 90 degree arc of most units. This may not have been intentional, but is the literal interpretation of the rules as written.
Proximity to Friendly Troops: this rule is gone now, you can always shoot at an independent character that has not joined a unit, but the shot is at -1 if he's human-sized and on foot.
Challenges: some clarifications to the rules and a change with Chariots. Creatures pulling a chariot now fight in a challenge, but other riders still do not.
Look Out Sir: does not apply to characters of unit strength 5+
Characters and Psychology: there are a lot of clarifications as to how characters and units with different psychology rules interact when a character joins a unit.

Edge of the Table: it's now considered impassable unless you are fleeing or pursuing.
Hills: in addition to the second rank of a unit on a hill getting to shoot, anyone shooting at a unit on a hill can fire with all ranks since all ranks can see over each other to the elevated target.

Rear Ranks: several clarifications on what happens to uneven rear ranks in different situations.
Change Formation: instead of adding or subtracting ranks, you get to move up to 5 or 10 models (depending on how much movement you give up) to or from the front rank, adjusting the remaining ranks accordingly.
Extra Ranks Bonus: you must now have at least 5 models per rank to get the bonus instead of 4, also the note about not applying when attacked in the side is gone. I'm unsure if the effect of it is still implied by other rules.

Close Combat:
Redirecting a Charge: This is now gone and replaced with the Enemy in the Way rule. It basically works the same, but only if the new target is directly in your path. No maneuvering is allowed (except the usual wheel to bring the most units into base contact in a charge).
Cover: this is now defined as applying if half or more of the unit is in cover.
Defended Obstacle: you no longer need 6's to hit units defending an obstacle, instead the attacker loses all charge bonuses, instead fighting as if it was the second round of combat (hence, obstacles provide no bonus after the charge).
Break Test: new rule called Insane Courage now makes double 1's an automatic success in a break test.
Fleeing: units now always flee in a direct line away from their attacker. They do not move around anything. If they hit impassable terrain or an enemy unit of strength 5+ they are destroyed. If they stop on a friendly unit or enemy of strength less than 5 then they are moved beyond that unit and stop there instead. The same rule applies during subsequent turns with the fleeing unit now moving straight towards the nearest table edge.
Pursuit into Fresh Enemy: the target can now choose to flee if it wishes to.
Lapping Around & Expanded Frontage: these are gone now. Instead the winner of a fight may now perform a Change Formation or a Turn maneuver.

Psychology: this section has, interestingly enough, moved from the basic to the advanced section of the rules.
Panic from Fleeing units: units no longer panic due to nearby fleeing units, instead they take a panic test when a friendly unit flees through them.
Panic from destroyed units: this is now caused if the unit is destroyed by any means within 6". There's no longer a difference if the unit was destroyed by shooting instead of close combat, or if the unit destroyed was fleeing. Also, the destroyed unit must be strength 5+ to trigger this test (this appears to be the case for all unit triggered panic tests, including fleeing or breaking units).
Panic from 25% casualties: this is clarified to apply to any damage caused outside of the close combat phase (including such things as goblin fanatics)
Defeated by a Fear Causing Enemy: same as before, but the new Insane Courage rule applies which allows a unit to not break if it rolls double 1's, even if it would otherwise automatically break.
Stupidity: Stupidity now ends whenever a stupid creature enters Close Combat. It's unclear if Stupid creatures are now meant to be subject to all psychology once in Close Combat, but the way it is written they are.
Immune to Psychology & Unbreakable: These two classifications have been added to the Psychology section.

Pistol (hand-to-hand): no longer gets bonus on first turn of Close Combat, simply counts as a hand weapon.
Pistol (shooting): added stats for a brace of pistols (2x multiple shots)

Monsters: a lot of rewriting here, but mostly for clarity. The biggest change is in the Monster Reaction Table for when a rider is slain and the monster fails its Leadership check. Monsters no longer have a chance of fleeing. They always stay and fight, but under three different conditions. The first is that they fight as normal but subject to Stupidity. The second is that they fight as normal but can't move except to turn to face the enemy and become Unbreakable. The third is that they fight as normal but become subject to Frenzy and Hatred for the rest of the game. There's also a rule added for what happens if a rider has his mount killed as the result of a Stand and Shoot reaction to a charge.

High Strength Hits on Chariots: chariots now get to check their armour save, if any, before being destoyed by a Strength 7 or greater hit.
Impact Hits: these are now distributed in the same way as shooting hits.
Fleeing Chariots: chariots do impact hits against any unit they flee through, friend or foe. If they are forced to flee through an enemy unit of Strength 5+ they still do impact hits before being removed.

Double Pace: Skirmishers no longer have this rule. They are now under the same March restrictions as everyone else in regards to proximity to the enemy.

Battle Standard:
Combat Bonus: battle standards now add with unit standards if both are in the same unit.
Capturing: capturing a Battle Standard is clarified.

War Machines:
Movement: war machines and their crew now move as skirmishers (they more or less did before by default, but this is now clearly stated). The movement rate of a war machine is reduced if crew members are killed by the percentage of crew killed.
Characters: a character that joins a war machine can still shoot independently with his own weapons.
Loss of Crew: this is now a standard rule for all war machines, rather than defined for each one separately. Any machine with a crew of 3+ to start with fires normally until down to 1 crewmember, at which point it can only fire every other turn. A machine that only has 2 crew to begin with continues to fire normally if a crew member is lost.
Fleeing: an attacker no longer has the option to bypass a war machine to pursue the fleeing crew, the attacker must stop at the war machine.
Fleeing Crew: crew are treated as a skirmishing unit until they recrew a weapon. Crews no longer automatically flee if charged when not crewing a machine, and can fight in close combat normally as a skirmishing unit.
Close Combat: the rules allow for machines to be attacked in close combat. If it happens they are hit automatically. If there is no crew left they are automatically destroyed. An attacking unit is now allowed to pursue broken crew or overrun after destroying a war machine. A victorious war machine crew does not need to make a test if they choose not to pursue a broken unit.
Which models are hit: there are several clarifications made.
Grapshot: now uses the flame template and causes hits with a strength equal to the roll of an artillery die with a -1 armor save modifier.

Special Rules: several special rules that appear in multiple army lists are now listed in the main rule book as well.

Buildings: it appears that this is one section that has been completely redone. I'm not going to list all the changes here.

Special Features: a new section covering special terrain features, the control of which gives you bonus VP or special abilities in the game.

Victory Points:
Enemy Units at Half Strength: the VP are gained when a unit falls to half strength rather than below half strength as before.
Victory Chart: this has been redone to make for more breakdowns at the small end and fewer at the large end. The result appears to be the same for games of 1000-1499 and 2000-4999 points. Games of 1500 to 1999 will end up with a draw being more likely and games of 999 or less and 5000 or more will end up with a draw being less likely.

Power Dice: extra dice from a Wizard's level are no longer put into the Power Pool, instead they can only be used by the Wizard that generates them. Any other dice from items or other sources, including the 2 basic dice, are put in the pool as before.
Miscast Table: this has been completely rewritten. In most cases the results are more damaging for the caster.
Remains In Play: There are clarifications on how this works with characters joining and leaving units when one or the other are under the effects of a spell.
Selecting Spells: the new example seems to indicate that you can choose to substitute the first spell on the list for any other spell a wizard rolls after the wizard rolls for all of them. This may have been the intention all along, but it wasn't clear from the old example.
Spell lists: lots of tweaks to casting costs, and a few real changes. Bane of Forged Steel, Storm of Cronos, Blinding Light, Father of the Thorn, and Death Dealer are all replaced by new spells. Portent of Far replaces Second Sign of Amul as the default spell in the Heavens list, and Burning Gaze replaces Pha's Illumination as the default spell in the Light list. Overall, Heavens has been nerfed while the weaker lists appear to have been buffed or at least given "fluffier" spells (for example the new Life spell is a healing spell).

Magic Items:
Fleeing: magic items that require "activation" can't be used by fleeing units (this is defined in the rules).
Dispel Scrolls: using one no longer cancels a Remains In Play spell cast by the user. It's now clarified that it must be used at the time the spell to be dispelled is cast and not later.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Review: Arkham Horror

Arkham Horror is a boardgame by Richard Launius and Kevin Wilson which is published by Fantasy Flight Games. The taglines on the box read "the classic game of Lovecraftian adventure" and "a Call of Cthulhu Boardgame." That should let most postGeeks know immediately what the game is about, but for those who haven't figured it out, this is a boardgame set in H.P. Lovecraft's Mythos universe. A world he wrote about in the 1920's where there were many things that "man was not meant to know," where elder gods slept, and where evil cultists sought to wake them from their slumber to bring about the end of the world.

The premise of the game is that the boundaries between our world and those of the elder gods are weakening in the city of Arkham. Gates are opening up and creatures are coming forth as one of the elder gods stirs in its slumber. The players take the role of individuals who are struggling to close those gates before the boundaries become too weak and the elder god awakens.

The game is a cooperative game. The players either win or lose collectively. This makes it ideal for those who don't like to play confrontational games. At the same time, the game is not easy to win, so those who seek a challenge will still find one here.

Many of the mechanics are similar to a role playing game in that everyone has a character with stats and equipment. These characters are either chosen or picked randomly from a deck of sixteen characters. Some starting equipment is assigned by the character card and some is drawn randomly from a deck. In fact, most of the gameplay is driven by the random draw of either cards or chits.

The basic turn structure is that everyone in Arkham moves in turn, then everyone in the outer worlds, then everyone in Arkham draws an encounter card in turn (if they are in an encounter area) and follows the directions on the card, then everyone in the outer worlds does the same, then finally the first player draws a mythos card which usually results in a new gate opening and/or more creatures arriving. The next player then becomes the "first player" and everything happens all over again.

As gates open, the elder god gets closer to waking up. If the god awakes then the players get one last chance to win the game by defeating the god in a final combat. If they fail then they lose the game and Arkham is devoured (if not the entire world). If the players manage to defeat the elder god, or if they manage to close all the open gates before the god awakes, then they win the game and save Arkham (and possibly the world).

There is no way for a player to be completely eliminated from play prior to the final battle with the elder god. Even if their character should be devoured (removed from play entirely), then they simply draw a new character to play with. I consider this to be a big plus for the game since no player ends up getting left out.

Another plus is that while this game is very fun with a group, it's also playable solo. Since you play against the game and not other players you simply pick a character and play. Beating the game solo is considered to be a bit more challenging than beating it in a group, but it's still quite fun.

One of the few complaints I have with the basic game is the small number of encounter cards per Arkham encounter area, but that has been fixed with a new expansion called Curse of the Dark Pharoah that doubles the number of those encounter cards as well as adding many more cards of different types and some new factors to the gameplay.

The game is temporarily out of print, but you can probably still find it for sale from either your local store or online. It should also be reprinted soon if for some reason you can't find it. FFG is still supporting the game, and has yet another expansion planned.

I should mention again that this is a horror game. The game recommends ages 12 to adult. Use your own judgement as to whether or not the themes are appropriate for your children. Violence is abstracted, but it is there, and your characters can both be hurt and driven insane during the game.

If you want more information you can check out the FFG site. Suggested retail price is $49.95.

I've only played the game twice now (once solo and once in a group), but based on those experiences I highly recommend this game.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Mordheim in a Day

Recently a few of us started playing some Mordheim. After playing around with a Middenheim list put together by a friend, I started on the work of making my own warband. At first I looked at Undead. I have some vampire miniatures and some other miscellaneous undead from when I was thinking about doing a Vampire Counts army for Warhammer Fantasy Battles. I would have probably done them, except that I'd have to order some Dregs miniatures, and I wanted to be able to put the warband together in a day or two.

So, I kept looking and found the Dwarfs. I recently bought a Games Day slayer miniature, which served as my excuse for starting this warband. After a couple of games using my friend's miniatures, I went out and bought a noble and a box of Thunderers to make my warband.

I put them together right away, but played another couple of games before getting around to basecoating them. After that I decided that I was going to finish them all in a day, leaving the bases.

For once I decided to plunge right in without doing a test model. I knew that I wanted to use blue as my warband's main color, and that I was going to make my leader a blonde, and that was about it. With that I began.

First up was drybrushing the chainmail with gunmetal metal. Then doing some details in the same color. Then I picked ultramarine blue for my blue color, doing the trim on everyone's armor in blue, as well as the leader's cloak and the slayer's pants. I decided at this point to use jade green as an accent color. I did the thunderer's sleeves in green and the engineer's cloak. The leader had a barely visible layer of clothing over his armor and under his cloak that I did in green, and I did the slayer's belt in green. This all tied the force together pretty well. I later did some of the leader's shield in blue and green as well.

I painted the exposed skin bronzed flesh and then moved on to the most important part of any dwarf, their hair and beards. I'd decided that the leader was going to be blonde, and that the thunderers were all close relatives so would have the same color hair, which I decided would be beasty brown. The engineer I decided to do in parasite brown. The slayer would obviously have orange hair, and I picked orange fire. The engineer and thunderers were straightforward requiring just a coat or two of the color over the black primer. The slayer required several coats over the primer to get decent coverage. To do the blonde I started by painting two coats of skull white before doing three coats of sunblast yellow.

After the hair I did the weapons. The handguns and pistols were all done in brassy brass and gunmetal metal. The leader's hammer was done in mithril silver and glorious gold. I then used the glorious gold to pick out a lot of the medallions on the different models. This left a few details that weren't metal which I picked out with cobra leather and scorched brown. There was also a book on the leader that I picked out with bone white and a scab red cover.

That was it for the basic painting. No highlights or anything. The next step was simply a coating of brown magic wash over the entire figure. This was my first attempt at using magic wash on a figure in a scale larger than 15mm and I was pleased with the results.

At this point I'd achieved my goal of finishing all but the bases. I decided to push on and glued some sand to the bases and then painted magic wash over the sand. All that was left was to apply static grass and paint the edge of the base. I decided to save this for the next morning.

A few notes:
After I did the original dwarfs, I did three more. Another slayer and two dwarfs with two-handed axes. The photos show the full warband.

The original slayer I painted is the Gamesday 2006 miniature, and is designed to sit on top of a daemon's head so it has pegs in its feet for that purpose. I want to eventually use the daemon head base, so instead of filing off the pegs I used green stuff to build up a regular base and pressed the pegs into it. I then removed the figure and let the green stuff dry. Later I glued the figure in place using white glue since I want to be able to easily remove it without damaging the paint job.

The slayers and the noble all used slottabases. Normally I use scotch tape to cover up holes in bases before painting, but I was impatient and skipped this step. Instead I used static grass to conceal the holes.

Sadly, while I'm pleased with the way my dwarfs look, they have performed abysmally on the field of battle. After achieving a record of 0-5 I had to take a break from the game. The final conflict was the breaking point as it was a battle that by all rights they should have won, but the dice were fickle and they not only lost, but suffered a couple of key deaths that set me too far back for the game to continue to be fun for me. Still, I'm tempted to turn this force into a full fledged Warhammer Fantasy Battles army, but I'll wait until after the new edition comes out before I go that far.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

After The Storm: a WHFRP Campaign

I just added a new link to over on the sidebar. This is the blog my gamemaster just set up for our ongoing Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay campaign. Most of the group fits pretty firmly into the postGeek mold. Thirtysomethings with jobs and familys. We have a police officer, insurance salesman, soldier and car salesman among others.

As the title indicates, the campaign takes place in and around Middenheim following the Storm of Chaos Warhammer Fantasy Battles campaign run by Games Workshop back in the summer of 2004. We began by playing the adventures being published for the new edition of WHFRP, but soon diverged from them to play in original adventures designed by our GM.

The blog itself is a collection of character bios and write-ups of our past adventures in the form of character diaries or narratives. There's also an article on the house rules we use, and several pictures throughout featuring the elaborate setups the GM uses for our combats. (Including the one above showing our Slayer attempting to achieve his glorious death by single-handedly holding off a band of beastmen led by a minotour while the rest of us wisely take up defensive positions in the building behind).

Give it a look if you are interested in RPG campaign logs or the Warhammer Fantasy world.

By the way, those are my chaos hounds being bowled over by the slayer in the picture. The rest of the miniatures are either by our GM or were bought by him already painted.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Movie Review: The Lake House

Ok, this is a bit of a departure for postGeek. A review of a romance movie hardly falls into the postGeek mission statement. I'm doing it anyways for two reasons. The first is that the movie is technically a fantasy/sci-fi movie due to the premise. Second, I got to see this movie days before it enters general release in the US, so I can't help but exploit that opportunity.

So, just what is this premise that makes this technically "geek" material? Well, it's a minor spoiler, so if you don't want to know then you should just stop reading now. On the other hand, it is revealed fairly early in the film, so I don't feel too bad about including it in this review. Plus, the trailer totally reveals all of this anyway, but for those of you who haven't seen it, you have been warned.

(minor) Spoiler!!

Basically, the two main characters spend the film separated by a period of two years in time, yet are still able to communicate with each other. The result is a long distance relationship where the separation is one of time rather than space.

The filmmakers occasionally use this time difference to play with things by allowing them to actually change history. This is key to the plot in a romantic sense, but the logic behind it breaks down pretty quickly if examined as a story about cross-time communication instead of simply a story about a romance. For example, there is no examination of how the changes these two make in the flow of history effect the world around them, only how the changes effect their relationship. Also, sometimes the actions taken in the past as a result of the ongoing communication are obvious changes to the timeline, while other times they are obviously part of the original timeline, and the communication merely explains why they happened. There's no consistency in how these situations are handled.

Ok, so that's the review when seen as a story about cross-time communication, but that's not what the movie is really about. It's really about a romance between two characters played by Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. From that point of view I found it a tolerable way to spend an hour or so. This is the first movie I can recall watching that stars Keanu that didn't have me going "yep, that's Keanu Reeves" every time he opened his mouth. In other words, he actually does an ok job of acting the part of his character. Sandra Bullock's acting is good too, as are most of the supporting performances. I also enjoyed seeing some of the architecture featured in the film (Reeves' character is an architect and the son of a famous architect).

If your significant other demands you see a "chick flick" for every action film you drag her to see, then this is a good one to use to meet your quota.

If you have kids then there is nothing in this film that should be offensive to them, but you should realize that they will probably be bored out of their skulls. There is one image of a man hit by a bus, and some scenes in a hospital (Bullock's character is a doctor), but they are all sanitized and without any sort of gore.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Status of postGeek

Some of you may already know, but I'm going to be pretty busy for most of June. That means that there probably won't be much going on here on postGeek until July. I'm posting this so that you don't think that the postGeek blog has gone the way of its website predecessor.

On the other hand, I have a backlog of posts on Panzer Tracks, and I should have computer access for at least part of June, so it should maintain a fairly regular update schedule.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Old School Wargaming on the Computer

One of my early geeky hobbies was board wargaming. Using cardboard counters on a hex grid to recreate historical battles. Panzerblitz, Squad Leader and others. The complex rules these games used, often involving odds calculations modified by a host of factors, cried out for computer automation. When personal computers made their appearance, the first turn based wargames weren't far behind. Strangely enough, these games often were simplified versions of their cardboard cousins. Strange because the computer allowed for more complication. Instead we often got less, but with flashy graphics.

In the meantime, the world of board wargames has shrunk, but it has still continued on. The old powerhouses of SPI and Avalon Hill are gone, but their successors continue to turn out all sorts of good games, most of them far more playable than the old monster games of the past. But where have the computer wargames gone?

The answer is that they've gone "underground". Turn based games in general have become less and less common, and pure wargames have almost disappeared. Fortunately, that is "almost" and not "completely". There are still a few out there making these games, most notably Matrix Games and HPS Simulations. Matrix Games' Korsun Pocket is probably the most polished board-style wargame released for the computer. It's a great game, but it's been a while since I've played it, so I'm not going to try to review it anytime soon. Instead I'm going to look at HPS Simulations Panzer Campaigns series, specifically Kharkov '42 (the screenshot at the top of the page is from the game).

The Panzer Campaigns series includes 15 games covering different operations in the European and African theatres. Covering famous campaigns such as Stalingrad, Market-Garden, Normandy, and the Bulge, as well as lesser known operations like Kharkov and Rzhev.

I picked Kharkov because I was looking for more information in putting together my Flames of War Soviet force that was based on a unit that participated in the operation. David Glantz' book Kharkov 1942: Anatomy of a Military Disaster is just about the only English language source on the operation, and I already had it. I hoped that the game would have information on orders of battle that would be useful to me.

As it turned out, it did have some order of battle (oob) information, but I don't know yet how accurate it is. It included a bibliography with some oob sources, but I haven't had the chance to check them out yet.

I have had the chance to give the game a try and will be working on a full review sometime in the near future. In the meantime, check out their sites and see what they have to offer.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I've Sold Out!

Well, sort of. My readership is incredibly small right now, but I figure it's never too early to start looking for ways to make this blog support itself. Fortunately, blogspot hosting is free, but I still have to justify my time investment, especially if I hope to get back to doing full reviews. In an attempt to achieve that goal I have signed up as an Amazon Associate. That means that when I talk about something that Amazon sells, I'll usually put a link to the product on their site. I'm a satisfied customer of theirs, and have been for years, so I don't mind sending people to their site to buy things.

Also, I've put a small link to them over on the right.

I'll probably add some other revenue generators later on, but I'll try to keep things as tasteful as possible.


I've had at least one complaint about having the comments locked down, so I just unlocked the comments so that you don't have to be a registered user to make one. I did activate word verification to hopefully keep any adbots out. Feel free to post comments if you want.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Panzer Tracks

If you look closely you'll see a new link off on the right side of the page. Panzer Tracks is my new blog specifically covering World War II history and Flames of War. I've been wanting to talk about some issues that get a little too detailed and specific to really fit into postGeek, so I decided to create a new place for them to go.

To begin with I'm covering my current Flames of War project, but later I'll be doing some book reviews and whatever else I think of that fits the theme.

I'll still probably cover my actual game playing here on postGeek and Waryammer, but that may change as I see how things are working out. In the meantime, check it out and see what you think.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Movie Review: X-Men: The Last Stand

One of the hallmarks of a geeky youth for people my age was reading comic books. I pretty much gave up on reading comics a few years back, but I still greatly enjoy the good movies that have been coming out over the past few years about comics. Some filmmakers have finally realized that it's never really been about the costumes and the powers, but about using those to tell stories covering timeless themes such as alienation and responsibility.

The X-Men movies have been especially good at telling interesting stories while remaining true to the essence of the comics. X-Men: The Last Stand is no different. The movie is a worthy sequel to the first two movies. If you liked the first two then you'll like this one. If you didn't like the first two, then this one won't change your mind.

It's hard to talk about any aspect of this film without revealing spoilers, so I'm going to keep things pretty general. All the main good guys from the previous films are back (except Nightcrawler), at least for a scene or two. We get some new ones as well, including the Beast and the Angel, which means we've now seen the complete original comic book team on screen, although not all together as a group. It handles the ensemble of characters well and gives old fan favorites from the comic books just enough screen time to show their stuff. This time around we get to see Hank McCoy (the Beast), Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat), and Warren Worthington III (Angel) in action in addition to most of those from the previous movies.

Since this blog is supposed to be aimed at people with lives, and that includes having kids, I'll mention that there is a great deal of death and violence in this film. More so than in the previous two. It's not played up for blood and gore, but Wolverine has claws and uses them, and the main antagonist of the film kills dozens. It earns the PG-13 rating for violence.

Oh, and if you do go see it, then stay until after the credits have run. There's another scene at the very end.

I'd talk more about some of the details of this film, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone. Maybe I'll post again about it after it comes out on DVD.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Console Pricing

So, with Nintendo's announcement today, we now know at least the general price points of the latest generation of gaming consoles. For those who haven't been paying attention, we have the Xbox 360 out now for $300 to $400 depending on whether you want the real system or the gimped one. The Sony PS3 is going to go for $500 to $600, again depending on whether or not you want the gimped system. Now Nintendo has announced that the Wii is going to be $250 at most.

Personally, I'm rooting for the Wii. With its low price point, innovative controller, and focus on gameplay over technology I think it gives Nintendo the best chance in years to gain back market share. Meanwhile, Sony seems determined to give up its leading position by going with a high price point, a late launch, and a gamble that the built in HD-DVD player is somehow going to justify it all.

Before the price announcements from Sony, I figured that I'd end up getting all three consoles eventually. I already have a 360, and I plan on getting a Wii when it comes out. At $600 though, the PS3 is going to need some truly awesome games for me to consider getting it.

The HD-DVD player is a non-starter for me. I don't even have an HD television yet, and doubt that I'll have one by the time the PS3 comes out. I have a huge DVD collection for which I don't need an HD-DVD player. I can't think of anything in my DVD collection that I would seriously consider buying again just to have in HD format. There are, of course, technophiles that will get everything they can on HD-DVD, but most of them will be buying the more expensive stand-alone HD-DVD players rather than the PS3.

The average console consumer is not a hardcore technophile or gamer. The average console consumer is the parent of a gamer. Those consumers are going to be faced with a choice between a $250 Wii and a $500 PS3, and they're not going to have to think about that choice for more than a few seconds. Even "little Billy" for whom the console is being bought is going to think twice about demanding a PS3 when faced with the option of a PS3 and one game, or a Wii and several games.

The result of all of this is that all three consoles are on more or less an even basis at this point. The 360 has the advantage of being first out of the gate, and will be able to continue to leverage that along with its more reasonable price point, that may just drop some as the Wii and PS3 come out. The Wii has its low price point and high level of innovation going for it. Sony is busy squandering its lead in the market by trying to leverage it to push its HD-DVD format, which allows the other two consoles to catch up to it.

It's going to be interesting to see just what happens as the remaining consoles are released.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

My first four player game of Flames of War


Ok, this one didn't turn out so well. It was 3000 points of Soviets vs. 3000 points of DAK Germans, and we played the recently posted Armoured Encounter Scenario.

We got slaughtered, but since we did manage to destroy two of our opponents' eleven platoons before getting taken out, it was technically just a 3-4 loss.

There were a lot of mistakes made in this one. We messed up the firepower rolls again, but in a different way this time. We also totally messed up the marching reserves rule used in the scenario we were playing, which since everything except recon starts in reserve was a pretty big deal. This second mistake was probably a bigger deal.

Anyways, it was still a fun game. Joedog brought his terrain, which looked good on the battlemat I brought. Once I get some of the terrain I'm working on done we should have a lot of really good options going.

Despite the loss, I'm still really inspired to keep painting more. I want to get a 2000 point Soviet force finished up before moving on to the German opposition force I'm planning.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Pa Nurgle's Page

Just letting you know what the new link is all about. Father Nurgle is the online name of a typical postGeek type: a married professional and proud father who insists on spending time painting little toy soldiers ;-)

The link is to his miniature galleries showing a nice selection of his work. Mostly fantasy and sci-fi miniatures from Games Workshop.

He also hosts the annual Waryammer Painting Contest. A small contest run from the Waryammer boards.

I've linked to him for three reasons. The first is that he was nice enough to link to me. The second is that he is a fairly typical postGeek himself. The third is that his work is simply nice to look at.

Check it out and enjoy!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

My first full game of Flames of War

I just posted a lengthy writeup of my first full game of Flames of War over on Waryammer. I've played a few skirmishes, but this was my first full 1500 point battle using an official scenario. The short version is that I won a 6-1 victory (that's the best you can do). I won't repost my whole writeup here as it's rather long, but you should humor me and check it out.

I'm hoping to get a couple pics later, but I forgot my camera, so I'm relying on others that were present. The image at left is the only one I have from the game so far, sorry it's so small. The playing area was the entire table, not just the section that's green. Most of the action tended to take place on the green section though. I'm the one holding the book on the far side. That green line on the board in front of me is most of my army. You can just make out the tan blobs that were my opponents 1st platoon and command section. At the point the picture was taken all but the company commander had been wiped out, the rest were just there to represent wrecks.

Don't expect me to put this much effort into documenting my first loss ;-)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Game Review: Star Wars Battlefront 2

This was one of the last reviews I did for the original site. It was first posted back in November I think. I'm reposting it now because there's been some interest in the game on Waryammer. The game is still at full retail most places, but if you shop around you might be able to get it for a bit less.

Star Wars Battlefront II (SWBF2) is LucasArts answer to Battlefield 2 (BF2). It's a FPS tactical game where you fight along side teammates in an attempt to win a battle. The game is available for PC, PS2, Xbox, and PSP. I played the PC version for review. All the versions are currently retailing for around $50.

The game covers both of the Star Wars trilogies, so there are four different armies in the game, two for each era. Imperial vs. Rebellion in the original era, and Republic vs. Separatist in the
prequel era. In a standard match you pick a side and then pick from one of four basic kits. Roughly these kits equate to soldier, anti-tank, sniper and support, but there are variations between armies. As you gain points in a match you unlock the ability to use two special kits that vary quite a bit between armies. The goal of the basic match is to run the opposing team out of points by killing opponents and taking control points. Basically the same as in BF2.

That's just the basic game. There are a lot more optional game setups than there are in BF2. To begin with there are the conquest maps. The most common of these are in space where instead of the normal kits you are limited to just two special kits, the pilot and the marine. The marine is basically a combination of soldier and anti-tank while the pilot is a support character with the very important ability to heal the ship he is flying in while flying it.

The basic goal in conquest is reversed. Instead of running the other player out of points, you are trying to reach a certain amount of points first. You gain points for killing enemies just like in normal battles, but you don't have control points. Instead, you get major points for destroying parts of capital ships or their escorts. On capital ships this can be done either by blasting away with fighters from the outside, or by landing a transport in the enemies docking bay and assaulting with marines and pilots. A landed shuttle becomes a spawn point for your side which adds an interesting level of complexity to these maps.

Unfortunately, the control schemes for the spacecraft aren't as good as those in the old X-Wing series of space combat games. I got used to them, but they could have been better.

The control scheme for ground units also has a few idiosyncrasies. You can't go prone in SWBF2, but you can do a combat roll. This takes a bit of getting used to, but does look better than the guy in BF2 dropping to prone and standing up again in rapid succession, and achieves the same general effect in game terms. It does suck for snipers in that they are more visible as a result, but they also tend to be more deadly with the ability to take out at least some of the kits with a single head shot.

There are also a few land based Conquest maps where the game throws hordes of NPC soldiers onto both sides of the conflict. The goal is the same as space based conquest maps, but the lack of any goals similar to the capital ships makes these maps lose their appeal fairly quickly. It's still nice for a short while to take part in the kind of massive battle portrayed in the movies.

Another type of game is the "hunt" where there is only one kit available per side. One side usually has a variation of the soldier kit, but the other side has something unique, and in some cases both sides do. The hunt in Mos Eisley pits Sand People against Jawas. Hoth pits Rebels against Wampas. Other favorite hunted targets are Gungans and Ewoks. Unfortunately, someone has to play them as well. The only problem with this version of play is that I'm not sure about the balance in these matches. From what I've seen the hunters usually have the advantage, except for the Wampas where it seems that they really dominate when played by anyone who knows hot to use them.

Overall, there's a lot of options, but unless you're hosting your own game, you might have trouble finding the exact game you want online. I only tried a few online games myself, but didn't run into any real difficulties with the browser.

Offline, the game has a rather nice, if somewhat short, main single player campaign. It puts you in the role of a trooper in the 501st Clone Legion beginning with their baptism of fire on Kamino, through their transformation into the 501st Stormtrooper Legion and on to their greatest victory at the battle of Hoth. Along the way they take part in many of the key fights of the Clone Wars and have some interesting actions during the early days of the Rebellion. The difficulty of the early missions is rather low, but it starts to ramp up as the Clone Wars end and the 501st becomes stormtroopers. There's even a nice explanation at one point as to why stormtroopers don't all look and sound the same like clone troopers do.

The campaign also lets you skip the space battles if you decide that you just don't like them.

In addition to the main campaign, there are also four galactic conquest campaigns that are an evolution of those from the first SWBF. You now fight over a map of the galaxy rather than over a linear campaign map. The main problem is that they still take a long time to play through, and unlike the story campaign, there's no way to entirely avoid the space combats if you don't like them. Still, if you do like the space combats, these campaigns can provide some nice offline entertainment.

Another new feature of SWBF2 is the ability to play heroes. Whether you can do this or not depends on how the game was set up. The default is for a hero to become available after a player scores 10 points. The hero then becomes available for the best player on that side. That player then has a period of time to decide whether or not they wish to play the hero.

Heroes play differently from regular kits in that they don't have health bars, and can't be healed in normal ways. Instead they have a timer bar. If they take damage then time is taken off the bar. For every kill they make time is added to the bar. Once the bar is gone the hero dies and there is a period of time before they become available again.

There is only one hero available per side, but the server can be set up to give the hero to the worst player or to a random player instead of the best player. They can also be turned off entirely if the administrator decides that they are too overpowering. In most cases the heroes are very powerful, although I've found the Fetts (both Jango and Boba) to be disappointing.

Offline games can be paused, but can't be saved in the middle of the battle. Most battles are relatively short, so it's not usually a big loss to have to quit one. Online games, of course, can't be paused or saved. There's a lot of violence in the game, but no blood or gore. The game is rated T for Violence and Mild Language.

Purely as a game BF2 is superior to SWBF2 except in the number of different game types available. The thing that SWBF2 has going for it is that it is Star Wars. If you're a fan, then that makes this game worth playing. There's a reason that SWBF was the best-selling Star Wars game ever, and this sequel is just as good.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Licenses and how not to use them (the new Shadowrun)

I was once in college, and when I was in college I played RPGs. We're talking good old fashioned pen and paper RPGs, like Dungeons and Dragons. Probably my most successfully run RPG campaign used Shadowrun.

Shadowrun was a game that blended classic Tolkienesque fantasy with the relatively new idea of cyberpunk science fiction. Set some 65 years or so in the future, it was a world where magic had returned, half of humanity was no longer human, and corporations had more power than governments. It was a lot of fun.

Now, some 15 plus years later, the RPG is in its fourth edition, but relatively few people outside of the world of RPGs are at all familiar with ite, despite a couple of games for the SNES and Sega Genesis based in the same setting.

Enter Microsoft and FASA Studios. FASA was the company that created Shadowrun. Through a long and complicated process, Microsoft ended up holding the rights to turn FASA properties into computer games. The Battletech line in particular has long been a flagship title for Microsoft Games, and Crimson Skies proved at least a minor hit on the Xbox, but nothing has really been done with Shadowrun, until now.

Now Microsoft and FASA Studios have decided to use the Shadowrun name for a new game featuring squad based FPS combat. Unfortunately, that's all they've done, decided to use the name Shadowrun.

The game itself otherwise has nothing to do with the RPG for which it is named. Here's a quote from the lead dev's blog:
So what should we do? Satisfy fans of the paper and pencil game? The novels? The SNES and Genesis games? It wasn’t a long debate, really. We decided to restart the Shadowrun time line and grow the fiction over a series of games, allowing the world we loved to unfold over time.

As if somehow the RPG, novels, and previous games all represented different universes that you had to choose from. They didn't, they were all set in the same universe. The universe that they decided to discard.

So, on to my point. If they are going to discard everything associated with the name Shadowrun, then why use the name? The only people that are going to recognize the name are fans of the RPG, and fans of the RPG are going to be pissed at what's being done. They've basically generated an automatic level of ill-will that they now have to overcome through better than average game design.

At least they didn't actually waste money on the license, since it was something they owned already, but they'd still have been better off just coming up with a new name.

Game Review: Lego Star Wars

I said I'd dig this up and repost it, so here it is. I have just a couple things to add. First, I reviewed the X-box version of the game, and unfortunately, it has not been added to the list of games compatible with the 360. I hope maybe that will change by the time the second game is released. Second, you should be able to find this game for less than the full retail prices I give in the review. I've seen it for around $20 some places. Now for my original review:

Lego Star Wars is an adventure game for one or two players set in the prequel trilogy of Star Wars, but using Legos. It's available for PC, PS2, and Xbox. I played the version for Xbox. The PC version can be found for around $30 while the console versions go for around $40.

I had a blast playing this game. Legos and Star Wars were two of the biggest things in my childhood, so I was biased to like this from the start. Even so, playing the demo didn't really impress me. It was only after reading some other positive reviews that I decided to go ahead and get the game. I'm not disappointed that I did.

The game is a simple adventure game that follows the events of Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III. You take on the roles of legoized versions of Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan, Anakin and others as you progress through the scenes. As an adventure game, you spend at least as much time collecting things and solving jumping puzzles as you do fighting combats and progressing the story line, but most everything is handled in an enjoyable way.

You can play the game in two ways. Either in Story Mode or in Free Play. You have to first play through a mission in Story Mode, which means that you are limited to the two characters that the story is designed around, such as Qui-Gon and Obi-Won in the opening mission aboard the Trade Federation starship. When playing in Free Play you can select your character from any of those that you have unlocked. The computer then selects a number of other characters for you from those you have unlocked. You can rotate between those characters while playing the mission. Different characters have different special abilities. Many areas of the game are only reachable by characters with a certain special ability, making them impossible to reach in Story Mode.

If nothing else, the game has one huge advantage over the movies: the dialogue. The only fully pronounced words in the entire game are "roger-roger" from the battle droids, and you only hear that once or twice. It tends to make Anakin and Padme far more bearable.

I did have a couple issues with the design of the game. First is that the camera is not controllable, and sometimes makes things more difficult than they should be, but after playing for a while I got used to not being able to control the camera. Second is that the game is short. I completed the storyline for all three movies in a day, and came very near to unlocking all the extras in a second day (although with a bit of help from for the latter). Unlocking extras does provide some replay value, but once that is finished there probably won't be much reason to take this game back off the shelf.

A third issue I had was with the performance of the game. I had it lock up on me on three different occasions. I only mention this because I can't recall the last time my Xbox locked up on a game, so I have to assume that it was the game and not my console.

One issue from a postGeek perspective is that while you can pause at any time, you can only save the game between missions. The missions are relatively short so it's not a complete disaster if you should have to play one over. Most of the puzzles are easy to do once you figure them out, so there isn't as much frustration as might be involved with other games. I had the game lock up on me once at the very end of a mission. In most games that would have driven me insane, but it was only a minor annoyance with this one.

The only other problem I had with the game was that it only covered Episodes I, II, and III. Fortunately, one of the unlockable items is a single mission set at the beginning of Episode IV which ended with the words "to be continued..."

The game is rated E with the notation of Violence. The violence is between Legos. Defeated Lego men fall apart into their component pieces and then fade away. The game is about as kid friendly as any that I've reviewed so far, and is a game you could get for a younger kid and not mind playing with them, especially given the drop in/drop out nature of multiplayer that lets the second player leave or enter the game at any point.

I highly recommend playing this game if you like Star Wars and ever played with Legos as a kid. I can't recommend buying it at the current retail price given the short playing time, but it's well worth a rental.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Star Wars originals on dvd: too little too late?

Finally, "in response to overwhelming demand", Lucas has decided to release the original trilogy in its original form on dvd. I suppose it's just coincidence that the updated trilogy on dvd has been out long enough now for the vast majority of those who are going to buy it to have gotten it. Now they hope those who would have waited for this release, but thought it was never going to come, will go ahead and buy the trilogy again one more time. Conveniently enough, it will be time for the whole cycle to start over again in about a year when they probably start releasing HD-DVD versions of all the movies.

They may be right, but the laser disc version of the original trilogy has been available in dvd form for years now on ebay. A lot of fans, after being told they were never going to see the original trilogy on dvd, went ahead and acquired it this way.

Fans won't have long to decide whether or not to get the official versions, since they are saying that they will only be available from September through December.

Quite frankly, I'm more excited about the Lego game covering the original trilogy. I reviewed the original game game that covered the prequel and found it to be one of those rare games that should be fun for both kids and adults. Later I'll see if I can dig up that review and repost it here.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Gundam Goodness for the 360

Just a quick post to link to an article Rhythmspitter sent me previewing a game under development called Mobile Ops: The One Year War. I love Gundam and I love gaming, so I'll be looking forward to this one, assuming they don't screw it up. Gundam games don't exactly have a perfect record.

Doesn't look like there's an official site yet or I'd link to it.

Geeking out on Star Trek

It's fairly common knowledge that Star Trek has sucked for some time. Just when it began sucking is a matter of debate. Some argue that it was when Voyager started. Some say it was when DS9 started. Some say it was when Next Generation started. Some say that it was after the second season of the original series. Some say it always sucked.

Well, if you're among that last group then you probably won't like this, but otherwise you just might want to check out It's the site for one of several fan based productions of new Star Trek material. This one is a bit different for several reasons. First, rather than create new characters in the Star Trek universe it goes back and recasts the original roles with new actors. Their reasoning is that Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the others are enduring characters on their own regardless of who is playing them. Much like famous characters in plays, or certain long running series in film. I didn't like this choice at first, but after a while I got used to the idea. Second, as a setting they elected to start in the fourth year of the Enterprise's first five year mission under Captain Kirk. This sets it immediately after the end of the original third season and ties it in more closely with the canon as established by the original series and the movies. Third, they use a mix of talented fans and professionals volunteering their time, not just a bunch of fans with a video camera. Fourth, those volunteers will soon include both Walter Koenig and George Takei in special one episode guest appearances. Not just as cameos either, but apparently as the central actor for the episode they will appear in.

The costumes and sets are faithful recreations of those used on the original series, with some updates of computer screens and the like, but still keeping the feel of the original series. The acting is passable, and has improved dramatically between their "pilot" episode and their first "regular" episode. I first encountered the New Voyages a year or so ago when the "pilot" was all they had done, and I was not overly impressed. I just finished watching their first "regular" episode, In Harms Way, and found it to be far better.

One of the highlights is to see what even a small budget production like this can do with modern special effects that were impossible for the older series. Starbases are elaborate affairs busy with ship traffic. Space combats feature wide panning shots filled with movement and action. Using modern computer graphics, the special effects in this regard are arguably better than those found in Next Generation, let alone the original series.

If you want to check it out for yourself, but don't want to download all the parts of In Harms Way, then I suggest using one of the mirrors on the site to download the Center Seat vignette. It features a good sampling of the special effects along with the level of acting that you can expect. If you're still interested, then download In Harms Way. Just be aware that Center Seat includes a minor spoiler of In Harms Way.

Whatever you do, don't watch the pilot episode first. It's worth watching if you really like In Harms Way and can't wait for them to finish the next episode, but there's a reason why they decided to reclassify it as a pilot instead of leaving it as the first episode (several of the mirrors don't even have it anymore). Also, I suggest this mirror site for everything except the pilot. I had some issues with some of the parts for In Harms Way when I downloaded them off a couple of the other mirrors.

Monday, May 01, 2006

But can they really capture the "essence" of the game?

Another story stolen from Slashdot. It seems that director Corey Yuen is making a DOA movie due out in August. The trailer looks campy, but the fight clips don't look too bad. Not as much "bounce" as in the games, but still some emphasis on that area...

You can see for yourself by checking the trailer out here. It looks like B movie material with decent fight scenes, and honestly, that puts it a step above any other game related movie I can think of.

Since I'm talking about the movie, I should mention that I'm playing the game right now (DOA4 on the 360). So far it's been a fun but tough game. It seems a lot tougher than its predecessors. For example, in survival mode I generally can go 10 to 20 rounds before getting taken out in the earlier versions. So far I don't think I've made it past four rounds in DOA4.

It's a very pretty game to look at, not even counting the main selling points of the game. Although those selling points do result in a few character designs that you probably shouldn't use when the kids or significant other are around. That's also what gives it the M for Mature rating, not the violence, which is fairly tame for a fighter, with no blood or anything.

Well, that and the cutscenes. Some of which feature nudity concealed only by strategically placed lens flare or some other graphical effect. One which features an interrogation, and one which features a character getting "high" on what appears to be sake. There may be some other potentially "mature" cutscenes that I haven't run across yet, since I'm only a little over halfway done with the story modes.

I may try to do a more in depth review of the game later. For now I give it a tentative thumbs up if you have a 360, but it's not a good enough game to get a 360 just to play it.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Wii Like Puns

... but this is really too much.

"Wii hates it, wii hates it, wii hates it for ever!"

"We are the systems that say "Wii!" Now I demand you bring me.....a mushroom!"

These are just two of the many comments made on Slashdot that the new announcement by Nintendo has generated.

The overwhelming reaction has been one of humorous disbelief that Nintendo could take the cool sounding Revolution and change the name into a euphemism for human liquid waste. I know it's just a name, but just that simple change has made me less interested in the release of Nintendo's new system (perhaps we should start calling it the "Game system formerly known as Revolution").

I'm not the only one either. Both in comments on Slashdot and in my first conversation with a friend about the change, the attitude is that interest in the system has waned from this simple act of marketing idiocy.

Of course, I'll still probably end up getting one, but my current reaction can best be summed up by this new ytmd creation.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I Lied

I was going to repost the original postGeek mission outline here, but after reading it again I realized that I covered all the important parts in First Post! below. The parts I didn't cover don't really apply to this site, so there's no point in reposting them.

There are several things I want to put here, but many of them are less geeky things dealing with politics or journalism and I don't want to scare off what I hope will be my core audience first thing, so I'm waiting until I get a chance to post some game related stuff first.

I've also got to figure out how to post pictures so that I can share screenshots and other pictures.

Hopefully I'll get some of this done this week, probably starting with either some of my miniatures I'm painting for Flames of War, or with my impressions of Dungeons & Dragons Online.

Friday, April 21, 2006

First Post!

With the official postGeek site still on hiatus, I decided to go ahead and start up a blog so I could continue on with my rants as I felt the need. Later I will dig up the original postGeek mission statement and repost it here, along with any changes I feel should be made for the blog.

I will set out one thing right now. While this blog shares a name with postGeek, it is not meant to replace it, and it will not cover exactly the same things. For example, video gaming is going to play a lot smaller role here than it did on the old site. Some posts here are likely to be a bit more personal in nature and cover even more of my rather eclectic interests than I did in the old site.

I'm also planning on taking a more bloggish approach, posting comments of various lengths at various times rather than trying to post a regular article at set times every week. That kind of more formal approach will be reserved for the relaunch of the original site.

For those who happen to be stumbling on this for the first time, a quick synopsis: About a year ago two of us got together and decided to do a website aimed at gamers who have lives. Thirtysomethings with jobs and families who still like to game, but who can't spend a huge amount of time being a geek like a teenager or someone in their early twenties can. After a few months of regularly updating three times a week with articles and reviews, the host for our site crapped out on us. Since then, the fact that we are gamers with lives has prevented us from getting the site back up and running.

The name postGeek comes from the fact that according to a good portion of society we should be past the foolish geeky interests that amuse us. We should be in the post-geek phase of our lives. Of course, we aren't, but we are in a different stage then we were ten or fifteen years ago, so we adopt the name of postGeek to describe ourselves. That's the theory anyways.

As I already mentioned, the old site focused on video games, but I also have an interest in board games, miniature painting, anime, history, politics, religion, game design, journalism, foreign (to me) cultures, and many other areas more or less geeky. Some of them we touched on at the old site, and some we didn't.

In any case, I'm back, and I'm looking forward to getting things going again. Hopefully someone out there will appreciate at least some of what I post here.

Thanks for reading!