Robotech RPG Tactics: Update 197 Weekend, My Thoughts

If there were only two sides to an argument conflict of all kinds would be easy.

White, Black

She said, He said

Right, Wrong

Jelly, Peanut Butter

Unfortunately, rarely are there only two sides to an argument. Again, unfortunately, it is a human condition to attempt to boil any argument down to two sides. Two is a lot easier to comprehend. Having a side to defend and assail is much easier than taking the time to look at all of the sides and even easier than taking the time to understand all of the sides and even easier again, than attempting to have some compassion and understanding for those who you disagree with.

This weekend, starting Friday and potentially ongoing, a series of events unfolded and here is what I know…

Carmine Bellaire of Rogue Heroes Games wrote a poorly worded post on the Robotech RPG Tactics comments. He may have had the best of intentions, unfortunately his words were poorly chosen. Essentially, he was attempting to drum support for his impending Rifts Boardgame Kickstarter and deflect as much negative attention from disgruntled Robotech RPG Tactics backers.

  • Prior to his comments, there had been discussion of backing the Rifts Boardgame with a dollar to post comments/commentary on the negative state of the Robotech RPG Tactics Kickstarter, to avoid anything Palladium Books in general, and be disruptive (in my opinion, a poor way to handle the situation)

What followed was, by internet standards with a few exceptions, a reasonably spirited discussion/argument. Make no mistake a lot was said, most of what was said was not well thought or well intentioned by anyone. This is a problem with internet communication where people on all sides are passionate and feel they have a stake in the discussion.

The following day or so, Kevin Siembieda president of Palladium Books posted Update 197 “A Terrible Day.” I can only hope that Kevin really does have the best interests of Carmine in mind when he wrote Update 197. Unfortunately, instead of writing a factual account of Carmine’s attempted suicide, support for Carmine, and expressing empathy and understanding for Carmine, people who are suicidal, and his target audience, he wrote an attack piece, laying the blame for Carmine’s situation at the feet of the backers.

And that is where I got involved. At first I was curious. Then I started researching. And here were are.

Remember, there are more than two sides to this and nothing is mutually exclusive.

Carmine did what he did not because of a single conversation on the internet. People who harbor suicidal thoughts harbor them for a long time and there are issues beyond the obvious and immediate. That conversation or the one on the Palladium forums or anywhere else may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, but make no mistake Carmine needed assistance before then.

Kevin wrote what he wrote, not because he was truly concerned with his friend. The tone and topics of the Update speak directly to this. A friend in need is never in need of having their laundry aired in public, especially in the manner that Kevin chose.

What bothered me most, was the following…

the expectation of the tone Kevin’s update, that when there was a situation to exploit, Kevin would and did take that route.

the level of distrust of Kevin and Palladium Books has engendered, that the thought, “Kevin made it up” was seriously brought up and that is a horrible thought to have.

the complete lack of follow thru, see, on one hand I am okay with what Kevin wrote, if I thought someone or a group of someone’s had done something that led to a friend getting harmed, I too would react in an over the top manner. I would blame them. I would castigate them. I would hold them responsible. I would rant and rave without much thought.

Then…

I would think. I know I would do this, because I have been there.

Kevin should, not needs too, write another Update. He does not have to offer an apology for what he wrote. He should however, speak of his friend in better terms, stop speaking for his friend, inform the community he blamed of his friend’s condition, he should reach out to those who may also harbor similar thoughts, he should demonstrate that he is indeed concerned about his friend and not about his company. He should, in other words, do more.

What about the community? Well, I cannot speak for all internet communities and I won’t. I can say that there are people who need to dial back the vitriol, dial back the rhetoric, dial back the aggression. I understand frustration. I understand frustration leading to anger and all it takes to spark anger into a fire is a few poorly chosen. The community too, should do more.

For Carmine and others who harbor similar thoughts, I hope he recovers. I hope he moves on from this in a positive manner. I hope he has support and gets more support. I hope he reengages with the community, because while his initial words may have been poorly chosen, there is a dialog to engage in for everyone.

Finally, information…

Michigan Association for Suicide Prevention

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services-Suicide Prevention

* I have not provided links to the comments or Update 197 for my own reasons.

 

Games We Play: Sushi Go Party!

Try to imagine your daughter saying “sushi go…PARTY!” with a little jump and fist pump. Did you imagine that, awesome, because it is cute as all hell. That is also how our Sushi Go Party by Gamewright session started.

Sushi Go Party is not a new game. Sushi Go Party is an upgraded version of Sushi Go. We love Sushi Go. We played until a card was lost and then waited, patiently, for Sushi Go Party’s release.

As a quick recap, Sushi Go is a card passing and matching game. Start with a hand of cards pick one, pass your hand, and continue picking and passing until all of the cards are in play. Your goal is to collect sets of cards or to collect individual cards worth points only looking at the ever shrinking hand of cards passed to you. When all of the cards are played, count up your points and start a new round. Sushi Go is not a complicated game, our eight year old learned a year ago. The hardest part of Sushi Go is keeping track of the cards in play so that you plan your picks well and do not end up with a round of 0 points…I did not track that well.

If Sushi Go is a great game, what is Sushi Go Party? Good question. Sushi Go Party is a deluxe version of Sushi Go. If you have Sushi Go, pick up Sushi Go Party the new stuff is worth the cost. If you are thinking of picking up Sushi Go, just pay the bit extra and get Sushi Go Party.

Sushi Go Party comes with new cards for all categories of food, desert, and modifiers. These cards come with some new rules, such as Tea which scores 1 point for each card of the same color that you have the most of; example: you have three yellow cards, two pink cards, and tea at the end of the round Tea will score you 3 points for the yellow cards. Miso Soup is another new card, score 3 points, but only if you are the only player to play Miso Soup when cards are revealed.

Sushi Go Party comes with a menu style scoring board. The best thing about Sushi Go Party is this board, not only can you keep track of scores in a visible manner, you can show what cards are in the deck and how each type scores. Due to the new cards, players assemble the deck before each game. Chosen types of cards go into the menu board as a reminder of what cards are in play and how each card scores. The expanded rulebook has several suggested deck suggestions for a variety of games.

That doesn’t sound like much, however when a Sushi Go Party game is running at top speed: pick, pass, reveal, pick, pass, reveal remembering what cards score, especially with the new cards can be an issue, especially with new players. Speaking of which we had two new players and after a game both players could play without any major issues.

I highly recommend Sushi Go Party or Sushi Go for any game group. Quick play, easy to learn, fun mechanism, and generous scoring opportunities allow for close games.

 

Games We Play: Warhammer 40k

It has been two years and three weeks in the making to play our “first” game of Warhammer 40k. Approximately two years ago we bought our boy a Warhammer 40k boxed set because he likes the Tyranid (think bugs) Army and I after many years of working at a hobby shop as a “games guy” love to assemble, paint, and play Warhammer 40k, but hate the Tyranids.

warhammer-7Unfortunately two years ago he was not ready. Now he is. He has dilengently read the rules, he has painted (as 12 years do) many of his figures, and he has begun assembling them. Plus, because we did not have terrain, he built some (as you will see), out of Legos.

I will not, unlike in other game reports, explain the rules of Warhammer 40k. The rules are complex (at times needlessly so) and explaining them would be several blog posts. Instead, allow me to say that for our boy this is the most complicated game he has ever tried to learn. Warhammer 40k is a game that he will play for a long time and get a lot of enjoyment out of. There are and will be games he likes better, but this will stick with him for a long time to come.

warhammer-2Our “first” game (we played two years ago, but did not go well) was a mess. What is a mess? Constantly looking up rules, constantly referring to stats, and generally getting many of the wrinkles out when learning a complicated game. This was on both sides of the table.

With more preparation, such as having all of our units on easy to reach and read stat cards, would have helped. However, much was learn as you go situations such as what can a tyranid army do against a dreadnought? Turns out, not much for now. Or what exactly happens during an assault phase and so on. These wrinkles are not new to me, but to him major hurdles he had to learn to work through, such as finding a rule to prove your point. If he couldn’t find the rule, then the rule didn’t exist. I am very proud of him, this could have been a game that broke him. Instead he is working on his stat cards as I type this.

warhammer-5As for our game, I won, but not because of anything more than I had a dreadnought and he did not have any anti-armor weapons. He did not because I did not pay attention to the dreadnought stats which are like a tanks. If I had I would have counseled him to build units with anti-tank. As I did not pay attention, he didn’t. On the other side, I didn’t pay attention to how melee combat focused his army was so I only built a five man squad of assault marines.

warhammer-1The game went like this; we moved a lot. 🙂 Then I charged his genestealers after shooting them up. I won the combat or so I thought, then two (yes, two) genestealers killed most of my five man squad. Then my librarian (commander) died. Then his commander died. Then the dreadnought killed everything else while remaining immune to his actions. In another proud gamer dad moment, once I realized the situation I asked if he wanted to stop playing because it was not fair, he said nope he wanted to see what he could do and learn from that.

Did we have fun, yes. Will we keep playing, yes and games will get easier.

Games We Play: Life Interrupts

I was planning on writing about Rise of the Runelords GOBLINS, Tanks, and our first foray into Warhammer 40k in two years, unfortunately life interrupts.

We did play another Rise of the Goblins scenario, Black Fang…and it went as well as most goblin oriented things tend to do which is funny and not as expected. We lost the scenario, we ran out of time. Why did we run out of time, because we kept playing Blessing of the Gobs and taking a blessing off the blessing deck, shortening our game by 4 turns.

Combine our short (ha) sighted planning with a run of bad luck and universal deck stalling, except for the goblins getting the tar beat out of them and you have how we lost. We came close to winning when Black Fang was revealed, defeated, revealed the next player’s turn, and then he ate a goblin…so close to winning in goblin terms.

This morning was supposed to be Tanks-our girl’s Tiger Force vs in her words “whateveryouthrowonthetable ” (said as one word) and a clash between a squad of space marines and genestealers in a return to Warhammer 40k.

Alas, our girl is sick. No Tanks and instead of playing Warhammer 40k our boy worked on building more of his Tyranid army while I finished painting a few more space marines.

Two or three years ago, being overindulgent parents and having a surplus of cash, we purchased a starter set of Warhammer 40k for our boy who expressed a HUGE interest in the game. Unfortunately, he was not interested in learning the following:

  • The rules
  • How to assemble his miniatures
  • How to paint his miniatures
  • How to play with his miniatures

Cue sad parents and 40k going on the shelf. At the time we lived on campus and I had no real way to set up for painting, which may have interested him.

Fast Forward two to three years, once again he expressed interest, once again I said yes, EXCEPT he had to read the rulebook AND his tyranid book cover to cover. He did or is in the process. Suffice to say he has done enough on his own that game on. 🙂

In addition to reading the rules he has been learning how to paint his miniatures. Anyone who has painted an army knows that initially looking at all of the unpainted miniatures is intimidating. When painting for the first time, overwhelming. To ease his concerns, one squad at a time with plenty of assistance from me. He currently has three figures painted and is working on three more.

paintingWhile he read and learned to paint I started painting again (see photo). I have not painted (in this quantity or detail) in over five years. And like him I was not looking forward to painting all of the miniatures, however as I wrote before painting and writing are similar skill sets to me. Within a week I was painting and writing; write until I stop, then paint for a few, then back to writing. The combination is very good for the creative process and has gotten me closer to center than I have been in a long time.

Hopefully illness passes by without much more note and gaming resumes. 🙂

Games We Play: Rise of the Goblins

Pathfinder goblins are fun, in their own self-destructive way. After the horrorshow of Wrath we needed a break before delving into Mummy’s Mask. Plus the kids wanted to start playing again. Awesome. What better way to take a break and get the kids involved than goblins?

That’s right there is no better way.

The hilarity began right off the bat, with our boy playing Ranzak, the pirate goblin (complete with peg leg and parrot). Because he is a goblin pirate scavenger he had to wait until we built our decks to get build his…on the leftovers which may explain why his number one weapon was a torch…at least he had fire.

Without much preamble or preramble…we started the introductory Perils of the Lost Coast scenarios. I expected all of us to die in very horrible ways and we all almost did…and then we won in a fiery explosion.

Here is what we learned playing goblins…

the goblin fortune teller, can only tell the future when someone else has been punched in the face AND they are at the same location…hmmm…not as useful as we thought

the goblin pirate can only run away from a fight if there are other people at his location

Blessing of the Gobs is the most awesome card ever and yes we used the power to take blessings from the blessing pile all of the time, we are goblins we cannot tell time nor do we care about how much time was left and…

goblins cannot do “normal” math…goblin math example: make a ranged check…I roll a d12…your ranged is d10…yeah d10 + 2 means I roll this die…no, wait…

the pyromancer’s evil goat or ram Deliverance is useless; I didn’t find a use for it…oh well

the pyromancer’s ability to “help” other people at his location is awesome for injecting some unnecessary tension, witness…

All five goblins limped to the finish line, which was the villain as the last card. Along the way in addition to the above, we learned our goblin math wiz of a girl is a killing machine taking out most of the henchmen. However, for the final fight she was AWOL, she did offer to assist with every card in her hand, including her much beloved Potion of Fortitude.

The fight came down to the pirate who thought about running away, then decided to fight with his dogchopper and a lot of luck and assistance. Because there were four of us there, he got a ton of d4’s to roll. Not satisfied with his fist full of tiny dice and wanting to inject some unnecessary tension, I the pyromancer assisted, giving him 4 extra points while dealing 3 points of damage to everyone other than me.

He had to win otherwise everyone other than me and our girl died. Now that is tension, one roll to win or die, a fist full of d4’s (arguably the worst die ever), and a fiery +4 bonus. I maintain to this moment that my +4 and the possibility of instant death for three characters is what motivated him to roll awesome.

So while the goat was useless and we cant’ do math, we can stagger on fire past the finish line. More to come as we stagger our way through Rise of the Runelords GOBLINS.

Games We Play: Tanks, Best 2 out of 3, II

Earlier I told you about the first two games of Tanks with our boy. Here is the rest of the day of Tanks.

Game 3, Assassination. We choose a tank that the other player has to eliminate to win. Sounds good and turned out to be more fun than expected. As in previous games, our boy rushes forward. I hang back a bit, especially my target tank. He rushes his target tank way forward and before he realizes it, BOOM. Target tank blown up. Win, Me.

Best 2 out of 3 vs our boy, WINNER: Me. 🙂

Next up, our girl…

German Invasion

Our girl has a tactical mind. In her words, “I have a plan with branches. When you break a branch, I make a new branch.” She adapts, as best she can, to changing game situations. She like units with firepower and maneuverability, that means Germans.

Her Army, number 1

  • Tiger
  • Panther
  • JagdPanther

tanks-5Game 1, Assassination. My target her Tiger of course. Her target a Sherman 76mm with “War Daddy.” This was a long game with lots of maneuvering for position. She set me up a few times, positioning her tanks in a way that I could gang up on two and get shot by all three of hers. In the end, the game came down to the JagdPanther.

As an assault gun only targets directly in front can be shot. This makes position extremely important. She did her best to get the JadgPanther in position for shots and keep it from getting ganged up. Unfortunately, cumulative damage took it down. Once that happened the Tiger went down under a fusillade of fire and a lucky hit or two.

Game 2, Objective. Our girl changed her army list, she did not see the Panzer IV on the shelf.

Army, number 2

  • Tiger Tank with Michael Whittman (commander)
  • Panther with “Bobby” Woll (gunner) and Clever Hans (doctrine)
  • Panzer IV

tanks-6Upfront, she lost this game. Not due to bad play. Due to bad luck. Tanks has a high element of luck at times, mostly in the Critical Hits area. On a roll of 6, a critical hit is scored. If the critical hit is not canceled by defense, draw a critical hit card. Critical hit cards range from 0 to 3 points of damage and often come with secondary effects, such a crew bailing out or losing movement.

To illustrate, one shot on the Panzer IV resulted in three critical hits for 7 points of damage. If the Panzer with 5 Health had survived, it would have not been able to move, shot, or anything else.

She took out one of my Shermans, which was an under performance by her tanks. Normally, an unmodified Tiger takes out 2 tanks and heavily damages a third. This game, one kill.

tanks-7In the end, bad luck more than bad play cost her the win. Part of bad luck is the rules themselves, a maximum of six dice can be rolled at one time. There were times due to positioning where she should have rolled 7, 8, or 9 dice to my 2 or 3 dice for defense. Suffice to say, we are working on some house rules to increase the value of positioning verse luck.

 

 

Games We Play: Tanks Best 2 out of 3

“Bring it on mutherfucker!”

“We’re gonna kick your ass dad!”

And with that, the challenge was thrown; best 2 out of 3 matches. While Warhammer 40k armies are assembled (literally), painted, and pointed out we continue to play Tanks. Fast and fun, the children are starting to settle into their respective armies and play styles, which works great for Warhammer 40k. How great?

Glad you asked, there is a lot of learning your style of play in miniature games from choice of army:

  • Do you like the look of the army?
  • Do you like the play style on paper? Fast, Slow, Methodical, Hard Hitting, Fragile, etc.
  • Once you start playing how do you play with them?

And so on. Thus, if I can get them to discover their play style with a reasonably inexpensive miniatures game when we start a HORRENDOUSLY expensive game…cough cough Warhammer 40k, I would like them to know in advance more about how they play so I can direct them towards units that works for them.

tanks-1First up, our boy, who at this stage of his gaming life is direct to the point. Give him an objective or story mission and he quickly blasts through to that target, side missions be damned. Keep that style of play in mind.

British Invasion

After setting up the board (read dinner table) and creating our 100 pt armies…oh yeah here are our armies:

Me

  • Sherman 76mm with “Ground Hog” Oiler (gunner)
  • Sherman 76mm with John P. Irwin (gunner)
  • Sherman 76mm with “War Daddy” Pool (commander) and Sandbag Armor

Our Boy

  • Sherman Firefly with Joe Ekins and Super-Velocity Shot
  • Comet with Wilfred Harris and Super-Velocity Shot
  • Cromwell with “Woppy” Radley Walters and Precise Loader

Our boy wanted an objective game first, in the center of the board an objective marker representing supplies both sides wanted. Having played several games against the German army played by our girl I was prepared for tanks making two moves upfront and one move at the end of the turn. I was not prepared for fast tanks.

Fast is a keyword on some tanks (mostly British tanks at our house), allowing a tank to make three moves at a time. Three moves really opens up the table for maneuver. To explain this, I planned three turns to get to the objective, and spend the rest of the game fighting. Our boy’s British tanks with fast reached the objective in two, catching my tanks out in the open.

tanks-2A brief exchange of shooting where he lost one tank, but secured the objective when I moved my tanks to cut off what I thought was an end run to get behind my tanks. It was not. Round one to the boy.

Game two, our boy wanted to play to the last tank standing. He had a plan. I love it when people, especially children, get enough into a game to begin to plan ahead. His plan, drive his Comet down the center and right and left flank me with his other tanks.

tanks-4Great plan as I was moving down the center as a group. He could have caught me in a crossfire. Except, and this is where children tend to fall down, he did not look closely at his side of the table (he set the terrain there by the way). He also did not think about putting a slow tank as a flanker. Which caused him to move his fast flanker tank slow; he did something a lot of people do-symmetrical movement-I want both sides to reach the same spot at the same time. Good plan…

Until, his center tank got hit by all three of my tanks, treads fly off (no movement until repaired), sight got busted (-2 attack until repaired), and the crew, wisely, bails (no nothing until repaired). His flanking tanks out of position because the Firefly has a maximum movement of 2 and he symmetrically moved his Cromwell (up to 3 moves and could have made a huge difference).

Turn 2, Comet blows up. Firefly engages with a Sherman with no effect, and Cromwell accelerates for a side attack run.

Turn 3, Firefly’s ammunition explodes (really lucky critical hit) and Cromwell settles into the woods. Settles as defined by tread hit.

Turn 4, my three tanks shred his Cromwell.

Game two, me.

Game three on hold until he gets up. After game three, best of three against our girl and her German Army.