Monday, February 28, 2011

Laptop - finally?

I got a bit of a bonus so I'm going to put it to buying a laptop. I'm hoping to be able to save up the remainder by the end of March.
My needs are low - I'm looking for a minimum of 15", wireless, 2GB RAM, 250 GB HD, and a decent video card. I'm hoping to keep the cost under $400. I've got my eye on a few models that should work.

With these requirements, I can finally play Hellgate:London, Dawn of War, and City of Villains. As well as finally being able to be online while watching TV. I'll probably load Diablo (and Diablo II) on it as well so my son and I can play online together.

It's been quite a few years coming but now I am so close.

Shan had picked up an old laptop from work - but it didn't have wireless and she wrecked the one usb port because she left the trackball plugged in it. Plus, it was 'hers' and we didn't get to play with it much.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Road trip - Winnipeg Beach

One of the other places we stopped in at last summer was Winnipeg Beach. This is where they had filmed some of the series Falcon Beach.

It's a small town - the biggest draw for most people is the beach - it's quite a nice beach with a huge boardwalk beside it.

On the ends of the boards they have dedication plates. These ones tell a neat story.

My big reason to go was the surviving arcades. They have three arcades in a row on the main street.

I wanted to make sure that the kids got to see some real arcades while they still could. The two Playlands had some old decor - with vintage posters from the eighties.

They had some old games and even some skee ball games. In the Boardwalk Station they had a pool table, old arcades, a pair of coin-op horses, arcade games, and some vintage pinball machines.

The kids had a great time. I hadn't been to Winnipeg Beach in the last two decades, but it's definately on my list of places to go back to soon. The beach is so nice that it shouldn't be hard to convince the family, but I'm heading back for the arcade.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

SJG - annual report - Tribes

Steve Jackson, of Steve Jackson Games, releases an annual report about the state of SJG and the industry. He's usually pretty open about successes and failings. It's usually a good read and, as usual, this year's can be found here. This link always shows the current year's report so if you are reading this after 2011 the link for this year will be at the bottom of that page.

While he used to be know for Car Wars and Ogre, as well as GURPS, lately he's been kept afloat on the back of Munchkin sales. I'm not as big a fan of this game as his others so, while I wish him well, and am glad that he is still around, I would like to see him get back to making some other games - like the fine Cthulhu Dice and Zombie Dice - both of which are quick and easy.

Another game I'm waiting for them to reprint is Tribes. You basically control a caveman tribe as it grows and prospers or doesn't. I keep thinking I can upsize the rules to use as a convention game but haven't even been able to get a hold of them. The basic game has been out of print for a while and they aren't going to reprint it as they plan on releasing a Deluxe version of the game.


Just not in 2010 and they have said it is also not in the pipeline for 2011 either. They further said that the regular version is so old that they would have to reformat it to rerelease it and if they are going to go to the trouble of doing that they might as well make the deluxe version.

So, Tribes - one day, you will be mine.
Just not likely this year either.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

White Dwarf - renewal

I renewed my White Dwarf subscription today. I have mixed feelings about it. More and more people keep saying that it is merely their monthly catalog - hyping the newest releases, but I still look forward to it.

Not to say that I am without misgivings about it though. Ever since they went back to a North American issue (instead of the American and Canadian versions) there have been some concerns. Notable that the issues reach us long after they are in the stores - I received the January issue at the end of January and only received the February issue at the end of last week. Granted, they have been a bit of delays with Canada Post since the Christmas holidays but that still seems a bit excessive.
Secondly, when they came from the Canadian source they were in a plastic bag but when they come from the states they are not. This means that the shipping label is affixed directly to the magazine cover and I have a difficult time removing it without tearing even a small part of the cover.
Thirdly, they no longer even bother to list the prices of the new figures anymore. I suppose showing a split price would be too difficult - especially with our dollars floating around par.

Another note - with the Canadian issues, the spines for a year formed an image - it was not needed but was a nice touch. The downside of the Canadian issues was that they started renumbering at 1 so that I have a disjoint in my sequence.

On the upside, I can pay for my renewal at the local Games Workshop store. I could even have them hold the issues for me at the store as an in-house subscription. The only thing keeping me from doing so is that the 'local' Games Workshop is on the other half of the city - which wouldn't be so bad if they were open on Mondays or Tuesdays and if they were open before 1 pm during the week.

Ah well, I will continue with the mailed copy for another year and see how it turns out. Let's hope for the best.

Monday, February 7, 2011

scale creep

There was some discussion on one of the boards I am on about vehicles “in scale” to figures. With the prevalence of ‘heroic-scale’ 28mm or 30mm figures compared to the old-school 25mm figures with which I started. Games Workshop was a big reason for this. Their figures were 28mm – about right for 7 foot tall Marines and Orks but the figures were bulkier than your standard figures. This made them slightly larger than the 1/72 figures that are 25mm but they were about as wide as 1/35 figures. 1/35 accessories looked the right size as 1/72 accessories weren’t bulky enough.
The bases were another issue. Each figure was effectively standing on a soapbox which made doorways and vehicles look shorter. A lot of people recommend using 1/35 or 1/38 vehicles with the 30mm figures but they are just too big to me.

Again, I come out on the other side of the scale issue. I don’t mind if the buildings and vehicles look a tad ‘undersized’. You have to think of the game as a whole. Which is more important to the game? The buildings? The vehicles? Or the characters?
If the characters are a bit ‘larger than life’ compared to the rest of the game world, I’m okay with it. Since the figures are the most important part of the game and even still they are tiny compared to the rest of the scenery and tabletop.
In fact, I’ve even cheated the scale further (dynamic foreshortening) when I did Heroclix builings – with the ground floor of buildings being 3” tall and upper levels being only 2” tall. But then, to scale with the figures, streets would be wide open spaces and boring – both visually and game-wise.
Even when I upsized Car Wars to 1/32 scale, 1/35 figures (who should be smaller) wouldn’t fit in the cars without major surgery – like removing feet and torsos and filing heads flat. But, in that case, the cars were more important, with the people as a seldom-used component.

So, while most of the people tend to want to use even bigger vehicles to go with their over-sized figures on soapbox-height bases, I still like using vehicles and buildings that are closer to what the scale should really be – even if it looks a bit smaller when a figure is actually standing close to a vehicle or doorway.

I’ve seen a Doctor Who Miniature game from an UK convention – SALUTE that featured an oil rig. The pictures looked stunning and, even though I didn’t see it firsthand or play it, I’m sure it worked fine for the game.
But, if it was in ‘true scale’ to figures, the rig would have almost filled the entire table, leaving little room for the town.

Ultimately, do what works for you. But keep in mind the costs and practicality of both use and storage as well as transportation as need be. You may find that having a town with over a dozen slightly-smaller buildings may look more impressive and play better than having a town with only six or eight over-sized buildings made to accommodate the bases. That said, even in cheating size, you have to make sure that the vehicles and buildings are going to work with the figures you have and the space to set them up.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Western Town - supplies

I had popped into Dollarama and picked up some more supplies for the western town. I picked up some clipboards – for the hardboard to use as bases. It’s actually cheaper to pick up a sheet of hardboard at Revy/Home Depot if you are doing a bunch but for small projects, the clipboards are a quick measure with less waste.

I also picked up some 1/4” wooden dowels, some 3/16” wooden dowels and a bamboo gate – to use for the log cabin and for fence rails.

I already have a few bags of stir sticks from both Walmart and Dollarama for the wood planks. Even at this scale, popsicle sticks are too thick for most purposes.

I also picked up some big sheets of cardboard. The wife has a tendancy to fold up my sheets if I leave them around so I usually need to buy it as I need it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Upsizing Whitewash City

Okay. Forget what Eric recommends about upsizing via photocopier. It doesn’t work to upsize to 1/35.

I tried upsizing the last page of Out Buildings set (the one labeled Sheds & Privies). It did indeed upsize the width by 129% and the length by 155% as we figured it would based on the math instead of the 171% we need. This makes all the doors on the buildings about shoulder high and of varying widths depending on which way they were oriented on the page. It may still be usable for small sheds but will look odd next to a figure.

So I will have to upsize each building by hand. This is not a huge issue, but it would have been nice to quickly print out the textured pictures. I might still be able to scan them and manipulate them at home to print out at the proper size.

With the walkway, the Imperial Saloon will be a bit over 40cm long (a bit over a foot). This will make it a bit tight to lay out a town, even on a 4’ x 8’ table. Unless we set up the buildings oriented with the long side – which would make a smaller town - which should both work and be pretty accurate.