Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nothing to Say ... Again

Once again, I find myself in the curious position of having nothing really to say.

Last time this happened, I wrote nearly a thousand words on having nothing to say.  Needless to say, I didn’t lose the opportunity to point out the inherent paradox therein.  I also took a moment to look back and see how many useless blog posts I’ve put out.  You’re not getting a thousand words out of me today, but I can do the retrospective thing, I suppose.

Let’s see ... 113 posts, 29 of which are interstitial.  Of course, 7 of those interstitial are pointers to my Perl blog posts, and those are real posts, just not here.  I’m counting them anyway.  So that’s ... 91 (yep, still went to another window for my computer to do the math for me).  Which is coming up on 2 years’ worth of weekly posts.  (And, since there are so many posts like this one, where I just flake out and don’t post anything, we actually passed two years’ worth of calendar time about 3 months ago).  Now, 31 of them are my fictional ramblings, and you may or may not want to count those (if you didn’t want to, that’d be 60 (and no, that time I did the math in my head (but only ’cause I knew it would end in zero))).  But, any way you slice it, it’s a fair number of words.

But, today, I have no words.  Or none worth spewing, anyway.  Too much other stuff on my mind.  Next week (or the week after at the latest), I hope to get back to the fictional rambling: I recently had an actual good idea on that front, and I’m anxious to write myself up to it before I lose the general shape of it.  But this week, I’m just going to chill and try to catch up on a few things on my todo list.  I’m sure you won’t mind.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

War for Father's Day

It’s another Heroscape battle report blog post; you may have read the one about my younger son’s first game.  This will be another one, and will probably make about as much sense if you don’t know anything about the game.  But, then again, maybe you’ll get the general gist.

For Father’s Day, I got a bunch of Heroscape stuff, as usual.  Of course, being that Heroscape has been discontinued, what I’m getting these days isn’t so much actual Heroscape stuff, but more non-Heroscape stuff that I can still use for Heroscape.  Also I got some cool handmade Heroscape custom terrain from one of the cool online stores that offers such things.  (For more info on what a “custom” is, see my previous blog post on that topic; note that some of those custom units I talk about will show up down below.)

Here’s the map we built:
Notice the weird mushrooms peppered throughout, and the giant volcano in the middle: that’s the new custom terrain I got.

Now, of course, there isn’t much good in getting a bunch of stuff for your favorite game if you can’t play it, right?  So I talked both my sons into playing with me.  We set up a nifty map using some of the new terrain, picked out armies, and agreed to play a two-against-one game: my younger son and I vs. my older son.

First, let’s look at the armies:

The Marro Horde (elder son), at 940 points:

The Elemental Resistance (younger son), at 440 points:

The Undead Contingency (me), at 410 points:

Since it was two against one, we had to give the solo player an edge on points.  But, with two people beating on you for every turn you take, plus you having to split your attention between two opponents, 90 extra points wasn’t nearly enough.  As a result, I agreed to give #1 son his choice of two “magic items,” and he chose to give the Holy Symbol of Pelor to Tul-Bak-Ra, and a Belt of Giant Strength to Su-Bak-Na.

In the end, this still wasn’t enough, though.  Having two people attack you for every one time you attack back is just too hard to come back from.  He either needed a much more defensible position (e.g., I could have given him a castle to hang out in), or an extra turn each round, or some flexibility in turn management, or something.  Ah, well, lesson learned.

The elemental army is a fairly powerful one, as evidenced by the fact that my six-year-old can play it effectively: this time around, the elementalist took 2 wounds and he lost only two elementals (one water and the air).  Fire elementals in particular are vicious as hell: they have a 7-in-20 chance of burning anyone they stand next to, plus a 4-dice attack.  Sure, they can accidentally burn their friends, too, but that’s easy enough to avoid if you watch where you move, and there’s no joy quite like planting a merrily burning little fire dude right in the middle of the enemey’s forces.

I was playing an army composed entirely of units that my group has developed, post-official-demise (again, see my post on that topic).  In this case, it’s our new vampire, Nicholas Esenwein, and his zombie-like thralls.  I’ve never played these guys before, but I’d heard they’re a fun army.  Nicholas can fly around, draining your enemy’s squad figures, which not only heals him if he’s wounded, but creates a new thrall in the process (with a few limitations).  That just leaves your opponent’s heroes, and the two thralls we’ve released so far take care of those nicely: deathstrike thralls can sacrifice themselves to get one big attack, and preybloods get extra attack dice for attacking wounded people.  And, hey, if your thralls get squished—or you have to kamikaze a deathstrike or two—it’s no big deal, ’cause Nicholas can just make more.  It truly was a lot of fun.  (I was also looking to test out a new flavor of thrall that’s still in development, but I never got around to bringing those guys into the fray.)

My other son went with the Marro.  The Marro are Heroscape’s resident alien race, and their faction is one of the game’s best developed.  It was a powerful army, and they did their best, but they were just overwhelmed.  Tul-Bak-Ra has a teleportation power that let him leap across the board to put those first two wounds on the elementalist, but then after two rounds of concentrated fire from water elementals, he was two-thirds dead and had to beat a hasty retreat.  His power to teleport in reinforcements was negated by proper placement: by surrounding him, the elementals denied him any empty spaces for reinforcements to land on (and, since Kurrok was hiding out at the edge of the board, behind a bush, this was easy to do).  He bounced over to my side and put 3 wounds on Nicholas before a deathstrike thrall took him out.  Su-Bak-Na, the bone dragon, never got a chance to use his Belt of Giant Strength before he was earth slammed a couple times and finally polished off by the air elemental, who engenders defense penalties in flying figures.  Me-Burq-Sa, affectionately known as “Pony-boy,” took two wounds from a deathstrike/preyblood combo, and only succeeded in hitting his Paralyzing Stare roll once.  After taking out a few thralls (who eventually just came back anyway), he was finally shot down by a water elemental.  The Hive, which can bring some Marro back from the dead by rebirthing them, never managed to do so a single time before it was earth slammed and water bombed to death.  The drones only hit their roll to move 9 figures instead of 3 once, at the beginning of the game when it wasn’t as effective, and after that they just got decimated by a combination of Nicholas and fire elementals.  The cyborg Marro suffered a similar fate.  The Marro Warriors (which we call just “the clones,” due to their water cloning power) took out the only two elemental casualties of the game, but lost half their numbers in return.  Finally, with only 2 cyborgs, 2 clones, 2 or 3 drones, and the full set of 6 nagrubs left, facing nearly the entire elemental army and nearly the entire thrall army, the Marro conceded the game.  Both the two dead elementals and the two dead thralls could have easily come back into the game, while on the Marro side only the two dead clones had a shot at reincarnation.  There weren’t enough drones to swarm effectively, and the nagrubs are low-cost, low-power figures, mostly only good for their power to heal Su-Bak-Na, who was already dead.  (One interesting thing I never noticed before: you can put an order marker on the Hive, use Hive Mind to activate the nagrubs, and then use Life Bonding to take a turn with Su-Bak-Na.  This may be the only case in Heroscape where you get a double bonding.)  So I think he made the right call: if he hadn’t taken out Kurrok or Nicholas by that point, he was pretty well screwed.  Plus it was getting late.

So that was how we spent Father’s Day: in an all-out battle royale to the death, where the undead teamed up with elementals to defeat aliens.  Moderately insane, but, then, that’s Heroscape for you.

* I can’t reveal the nature of these Thralls, as they haven’t been released yet.  As it turns out, they never got to engage the enemy anyway.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Wave in Passing

Not going to post anything much today.  I’ve been working on the Heroscape project I first mentioned some months ago.  You may recall back then that I mentioned we were working on “Wave 14” ... well, now we have the first of four weeks’ release of Wave 15.  I’ve got 3 more weeks of that to do, but the first one is always the bitchy one.  Should be much smoother sailing from here on out.

In other news, my company was sold ... if you had noticed (which it is barely possible to have done, if you’ve been reading these blogs very carefully, although, why would you?) that I was technically an eBay employee, you can expunge that bit of triviata from your brain, ’cause I’m not any more.  I would tell you about all the hideous papework I had to sign, and all the legalese I had to agree to, but there’s actually a clause in there that says that I can’t talk about it.  In fact, merely telling you that I can’t tell you probably puts me in some state of breach, technically speaking ... whoa, I think my head just exploded.

So, getting used to new corporate overlords, working on hobby collaboration projects, still doing some open source software here and there, readjusting to life with a newborn ... busy times.  Far too busy to write something that I’m just going to tell you not to read anyway.  Perhaps next week will be a little easier to deal with.  Let us all cross our collective fingers.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Fable

Once upon a time there was a baby tiger.  He lived in a jungle with his Mama Tiger and his Papa Tiger.  He was, for the most part, a good tiger, although he did have a tendency to be rather engergetic.  By which I mean, he was always going somewhere.

One night, after dinner, the baby tiger said to Mama Tiger, “Mother, may I be excused?”  The baby tiger was ever so polite.

“Yes, baby tiger, you may be excused,” replied Mama.  “Where are you going now?”

The baby tiger thought for a moment.  “I’m going to France.”

Mama Tiger smiled.  “Well, just be home before bedtime.”  (The baby tiger did not have to be home before dark, because tigers have excellent night vision.)

So the baby tiger set off.  And he walked and he walked.

Presently, he came upon a baby wolf.  “Hello,” said the baby tiger.

“Hello,” said the baby wolf.

“I’m going to France,” said the baby tiger.

“Sounds like a plan,” replied the baby wolf.  And they walked and they walked.

Presently, they came upon a baby dragon.  “Hello,” said the baby tiger.

“Hello,” said the baby wolf.

The baby dragon just giggled.

“We’re going to France,” said the baby tiger.

“You can come if you want to,” said the baby wolf.

The baby dragon just giggled.

“Very well then,” said the baby tiger, ever so politely.  And they walked and they walked, with the baby dragon fluttering along behind them.

Presently they came upon a large horse, standing in a field.  The horse snorted a bit and looked down at them.  He blinked his long lashes.

“If it would not be too much trouble, good Mr. Horse,” said the baby tiger, ever so politely, “could you tell us, if you know, have we reached France yet?”

“Nay,” said the horse.

“Ah.  Well, then, thank you so much.”  The horse shook his head.  So they walked on.

“Horses are very helpful creatures,” confided the baby tiger to the baby wolf.

“Indeed,” said the baby wolf.

The baby dragon just giggled.

Presently, they came upon a great horned owl, sitting on a branch.  The owl chuffed a bit and looked down at them.  He ruffled his fluffy feathers.

“If I may be so bold as to inquire, good Sir Owl,” said the baby tiger, ever so politely, “have you heard of a such a thing as France?”

“Who?” asked the owl.

“Well, it’s not so much a ‘who’ as it is a ‘where,’” said the baby tiger, ever so politely.  The owl showed them the back of his head.  So they walked on.

“The owl did not seem to be geographically inclined,” said the baby tiger to the baby wolf.

“Hunh,” said the baby wolf.

The baby dragon just giggled.

Presently, they came upon a pigeon, preening on a statue.  The pigeon gurgled a bit and looked down at them.  He bobbed his plump breast.

“If it would not be a great imposition, good Citizen Pigeon,” said the baby tiger, ever so politely, “we are endeavoring to find our way to France ...”

“Coo’,” said the pigeon.

“Well, yes, I suppose it is, as you say, ‘cool,’” said the baby tiger, ever so politely, “but I was more wondering if you might be able to point us in the proper direction.”  The pigeon tilted his head.  So they walked on.

“We must be close,” said the baby tiger to the baby wolf.  “We seem to have gotten as far as East London, at any rate.”

“Coo’,” said the baby wolf.

The baby dragon just giggled.

Presently, they came upon the Eiffel Tower, arcing over the Champ de Mars.  The tower rattled a bit and looked down at them.  It flashed its metal sides.

“By jove, we seem to have arrived.  Surely this must be France,” said the baby tiger, ever so politely.

“Could be Vegas,” shrugged the baby wolf.

The baby dragon just giggled.

“She sure is happy,” the baby tiger observed.

“Sunny disposition,” agreed the baby wolf.

The baby dragon shot out a great gout of flame which melted the Eiffel Tower into a puddle of iron lattice.  The baby tiger and the baby wolf had to back up to keep their paws from getting irony.  The metal fumes burned their eyes a bit.  The baby dragon giggled again and burped up a few plumes of acrid smoke.

“It’s getting dark,” said the baby wolf.

“Tigers have excellent night vision,” said the baby tiger.

“As do wolves,” pointed out the baby wolf.

They looked at the baby dragon.

She giggled and snorted fire, lighting up the dusky air.

“Good point,” said the baby tiger.

“Indeed,” said the baby wolf.

“Shall we off?” asked the baby tiger, ever so politely.

“Yes, let’s,” replied the baby wolf.

So they walked and they walked, with the baby dragon fluttering along behind them, occasionally giggling and snorting fire against the falling darkness.

And the baby dragon got home before bedtime, and she giggled at them happily as Mama Dragon and Papa Dragon waved goodbye.  And the baby wolf got home before bedtime, and he howled happily as Mama Wolf and Papa Wolf waved goodbye.  And the baby tiger got home just before bedtime, and Papa Tiger kissed his head, and Mama Tiger asked him where he’d gone that fine evening.

“Why, to France, of course,” answered the baby tiger, ever so politely.  “Thank you ever so much for asking.”  And then the baby tiger curled up, and went to sleep.


[Yeah, I don’t what the hell I was going for there either.  But it sounded cool, so I just ran with it.  Maybe your kids will like it too.]