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.