Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Putting a bug in your ear for Play-By-Email Warmachine

  What's that?  Play by Email you say?  Sure thing.  I've been doing it for probably three months now.  It's great.   If you missed out on the Vassal tutorial last year, it's here.  About three months ago, a buddy of mine brought up an old way of playing 40k that involved people on the forums.  Two players would build lists based on suggestions and run them at eachother based on advice from the same people.  We gave it shot on PPForums, and it went over like calling Nemo3 an A-list caster on the Cygnar forums.

  Heck, it went over like saying anything on the Cygnar forums.  Someone, somewhere out there, throws tomatoes at you, says you're doing it wrong, and that PP hates Cygnar, otherwise we'd have weaponmaster medium-based infantry by now.


  First off, this isn't the kind of format that you message the first dude on the forums you meet and ask him if he's up for a game.  It's not too hard to cheat this way, and if you're worried about the other guy cheating at all, then he's not someone you want to PBE with.  Same goes for how well you know the rules.  If one of you guys doesn't know the rules all the well, there'll be a lot of emails bouncing around back and forth until finally, a turn goes right.  This isn't saving anyone time, and it's not enjoyable.  If you just started Warmachine last week, you still have a lot of trips to the LGS or the Vassal server before you fire off your first email.

  How it works is fairly simple.  There's a "Begin Logfile" option in the main menu that essentially records the game.  You can open the file just like you would a savegame, and press the forward button on the program or the page down key on your keyboard to scroll through the game.  At any point in the game, you can measure, take a look at stuff, make sure your opponent didn't miss something or do something wrong, and go pack to the slideshow.

  What's this do for you?  For one, this goes at your pace.  Our games last about two weeks.  During the holidays, it gets so long I forgot what spells I cast a turn ago.  But it goes at our pace, we go about our jobs, catch up in the evening if we get a chance.  I'll save the logfile, attach it to an email, let him know in the email what happened, and harass him on facebook.

  It also solves timezone problems.  The guy I normally play is a Norwegian.  I'm a Nebraskan.  He's going to bed when I get ready to have my first break at work.  It's very rare that our days line up well enough to play a whole game through, and even then, we'll do 35pts because a 50pt game on Vassal borders becoming a 4hr event.

  It solves distance problems.  I've a brother that plays Retribution, and he lives 3 hours away and works 2nd shift.  This works great.

  It lets you think.  This is a double-edged sword.  I like to log on in the morning before I go to work and see how badly my guys did.  Hopefully, that evening, I can come back and play a solid turn with well-thought out decisions.  I find that I do much, much better in this format.  That kneejerk reaction to assault with the Nyss because I can turns into a much better idea of shifting around and shooting CRA at a couple of solos vs. loosing all of my dudes in the assault.  I like that I have time to think about my choices.  The flipside to this is that if you get used to that, the day you go to a tournament, you'll have zero ability to make a decision in 7 minutes.  So keep that in mind.  Enjoy your time, but make sure you're still being competitive at the LGS or something so that you're not losing that speed.  The middle ground is the best here.  The experience to make the right decision, and the speed at which you arrive at it.

  I suck at both.  I played Saturday 2-2.  Ignore strategy articles from me.  Although my Kraye list trashed an eHaley single-Wall list.  Anyways.

  The other downside to this format is some of your playability goes out the window.  Tough rolls might be your first clue, but no worries.  If you're playing a friend, and doing the logfile, they can roll the tough roll for you there, no problem.  I never roll my tough rolls in PBE, my opponent does, and the results are right there for my logfile to record and show me.  No problem.

  Countercharge, however, is an issue.  No Ol' Rowdy, or at least, no countercharging.  Things like Hyper-Aggressive become complicated, and take more time to resolve.  The worst thing is Fury transfers.  You can't just say "Here's all the damage I did, what do you want to do?"

  "Well, uh, I'll transfer this one, and... (quick math) this one, and I live!  And kill your dude!"

  So there is that.  Either the game takes considerably longer at that point, or you just make an agreement to transfer as soon as the damage would kill him, or damage over a certain point, or whatever.  It's up to you.  This isn't a format you play with someone you don't know, that's just frustrating.  But, if you're looking for a way to play more games with that buddy of yours you don't see as often as you'd like, here it is.  It's been great, I've gotten to test out a lot of lists and ideas I normally wouldn't get to because I want to play the stuff that works when I get the chance.  With PBE, I can play that janky 4 minuteman Kraye list and see how it goes because it's a no-pressure learning game at an easy-going pace.

  Just dropping the idea out there.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Magnetizing the Dire Troll Mauler kit

  It's been a busy season, but we're getting back into Warmachine.  In two weeks, my collection of trollbloods is exploding from eMadrak, an Axer, a Kithkar (Thanks honey!) and a Dire Troll Mauler kit to:

Max Fenns w/ UA
Pyre Troll
Swamp Troll
Slag Troll
2x Whelp units
Fell Caller
Kriel Stone Bearer
Borka Kegslayer
2x Impalers
War Wagon
Mt. King
Winter Troll
Earthborn Dire Troll
All the GF9 dice and tokens and stuff.

  All for less than 250$ If you weren't here for the post awhile back talking about getting into Warmachine on a budget, I'm currently practicing what I preach.  I'm buying everything above used, and mostly unpainted.  I got really lucky, and found a dude that was fed up on trolls and getting out, and had pretty nearly exactly what I wanted.  I'm missing Mulg, eDoomy, a Chronicler and a Runebearer, but otherwise, I've got my 2 lists pretty nearly where I want them.  I'd like to have Sons of Bragg for eMadrak, but the Champions were the other choice, so it works out.

  In other news, my wife bought me an airbrush.  It's an Iwata Neo, so we'll be getting into airbrushing in this blog before too long, once I bite the bullet and find a compressor (Or break down and run a tube from my air bubble).  I still don't know what color to paint my Trolls, but it's ....probably going to be tan...  and brown...  but mainly tan...

  To the main point of our blog post today though.  Magnetizing the Dire Troll kit.  I'm a huge advocate of magnetizing whenever possible.  It's basically saving you 60$.  The downside, especially with an organic model like the Mauler, is that the seams inbetween parts are still fairly visible, e.g., specifically the troll's back.  It's worth 60$ to me though, so let's go.

  Break open the kit.  We have a lot of parts.  The first thing I'm going to do is pick out what I want, and glue what isn't moving.  The two major things I'm not keeping is 1.  The whelp from the bomber pack.  It's ugly, useless, and a pain to magnetize, though it's probably easier than the gun dude.  2.  The angled forearm.  The left arm has two options for the forearm.  A 90 degree that matches the right one, and a straighter one.  For variation, I'm taking the straighter one.

  Next, I'm gluing the legs together, and to the main body.  I'm gluing both upper arms.  Then because I'm doing a tutorial for you guys, I'm laying them out in a pretty picture, and accidentally previewing my unbased Kithkar, and the bases for my Axer and eMadrak.

  You'll notice right away that the back panels do Not like sliding into their spot when the torso is glued into the pants.  The main culprit here is the belt buckle.  You can cut this if you like, but I'm leaving it.  Instead, I'm cutting most of the insert off.  In the picture above, you can see the bomber back vs. the mauler back, and I've cut most of the insert off of the mauler back.  It's still kind of a pain, but it's doable to slip the back in now.  

  Now let's magnetize the easy stuff first.  The neck is recessed enough that I don't really have to hollow it out any.  You can a little bit if you'd like to, but it's not necessary.  If you do hollow it out, I'm using a 3/8 drill bit in a dremel.  It's the size of my smallest magnet, and I can use it in a circular mixing motion to widen it out to whatever magnet I want to use.  

  What I actually do is drop some glue in the back of the recess, and press a little ball of green stuff in there.  Add a little (little) glue to the ball, and press your magnets in.  This is the tricky part here.  Sticking magnets in holes is really hard.  I like to leave them on the stick of magnets they came on.  Push it in, seperate them at 2 magnets thick in the hole with an exacto knife, and then press a head in.  This will push the magnets in as far as needed, in the position needed.  Now, theoretically, you securely glued the back magnet, but didn't get any glue on the front magnet, thereby glueing it to the back one.  I'm not that lucky.  Generally, once I've got them pressed in, I'll pry the front magnet out with the exacto and let the back one dry in place.

  Now, for some reason, my Bomber head has a shorter neck and fits in there like a champ.  My Blitzer and Mauler head have a bit longer neck and stick out a bit.  I'm not worried about it, but if you are, cut the neck short like the Bomber and call it a day.

  To the right arm!  Right arm is the same exact process as the head.  Glue, greenstuff, glue, press magnets, try to pull your fingers apart.  Normally I don't greenstuff the plastic joints unless I'm trying to hide seams, simply because glue adheres to the resin waaay better than the metal.  In this case though, I want to make sure the magnets are secure.

  The left arm is a bit trickier.  It doesn't have that recess (unless you went with the 90 degree arm).  Power up the dremel!  Again, 3/8 bit.  I like to start on the low setting, and kinda scratch the surface a bit till I have about the right size of hole marked for the magnet.  Start in the center, circle out from there in a stirring motion.  You're beating eggs right now.  Flip the dremel to high speed and carve out that hole.  The hand insert fits flush into the the indent in the wrist, so you want to carve out a whole about 2 magnets deep.  
  If you did really good, don't worry about the green stuff, just press the magnet in on top of some glue and call it a day.  Try really hard to keep magnets lined up though, it's really easy to forget which polarity is facing out until you try to put your Avenger's gun on his wrist, right before the tournament.  You can usually hover close with the magnets and find out which way you've got it facing, but if you do it before the glue is set, you're going to suck the magnet out.

  For the hands, simply glue magnets to the face of the wrist, with a teeny bit of greenstuff in the middle for adhesion.  And they're done.  Keep it simple.

  The back is more complicated, but easier than I thought.  The difficult part is figuring out the angle to slide it in at.  Mine also don't fit perfectly, so there's a tiiiiny gap where the top of the back meets my mauler's neck.  Normally I'd greenstuff that, but for a magnetized kit, no can do.  So.  Stack two magnets on the top sheld of the torso, gluing the bottom one.  

  Now dryfit both backs and make sure there's room to sit on top of those magnets just fine.  Mine both have enough room, but my mauler back sits a little low.

  Greenstuff!  Add a bit to the top of the back panel where the magnets you have on the torso will meet it.  Glue the greenstuff in, add a little bit of glue for the magnet, and set it in the back again on top of the magnet.  The goal here is to glue the magnet in the appropriate place, fitted into the back so everything is lined up, and NOT gluing both magnets to eachother.  Should look like this when you're done.

  With both of them done, we now have this.

  We're almost there.  Our heads are good, backs are good, hands are good.  The remaining piece is the Blitzer gun.  If it weren't for the tutorial, I probably wouldn't even worry about the Blitzer.  In fact, I'd glue the mauler back in place and when I want the bomber, I'd swap hands and heads.  But that's me.  Maybe I'll do that after this.  Who knows?

  ...I probably will.  It's a good idea...  I have 0 use for a Blitzer, but then I'd find out "Oh, hey, I need a Blitzer for the new Warlock." and it's too late...  Meh.

  Anyways.  Blitzer gun.  Drill straight into the top of the barrel thing on the Bomber/Blitzer back panel.  Two magnets deep.  Glue a magnet way in the bottom, pressing it in with a toothpick or something, and glue the other magnet to the bottom of the Blitzer.  Mines too for forward and doesn't allow the feet to sit, but since I'm probably never using it...

  And we're done with the magnets!  Let me turn on the dining room light, set this bad boy up on last night's game of Zombiecide and see what we think.


  I really like it.  It was actually easier than a Cygnar jack.  The Jacks require every hole recessed by a dremel.  The downside though is that a magnetized jack normally has regular joints and gaps, and doesn't flow like an organic model does (e.g., the troll's back) so it looks way better magnetized than a Troll does.  The plus side is that I didn't spend another 30$ - 60$ on another Troll.

  I hope this has been instructional and helpful for you.  Once the Airbrush is figured out, we'll base and paint this guy.  I need to paint my Axer and Madrak first though, figure out my scheme exactly, and push on from there.  Again, hope you enjoyed this.  

  Oh, and go watch the Lego movie.  It's good.