Thanks to my long running DnD campaign that I am the Dungeon Master for I have come into possession of a lot of miniatures. Everything ranging from orc shamans to robotic Weird World War 2 support units. The other day while at the comic store purchasing the Add-On pack for T.I.M.E. Stories 'The Marcy Case' (Review to follow I'm sure), I decided to pick up some Citadel Paints. These paints seem comically over priced for their diminutive size, however back when I was younger I had experience with a few of the colors and knew the paints to be high quality.
So I purchased them with the intent to spend some time painting the metal and resin miniatures that I use for the game, as a way to both pass the time and continue to invest in the nice things I've already purchased for myself for the game. I have bought and assembled some really great miniatures however without paint they can feel a bit sad and lifeless on the board, but I've started to change that.
For the first time in six years I picked up a brush and painted a mini. The first mini I touch was a Dust Tactics SSU Walker that come pre-primed. These miniatures are great and come from a Weird War II setting that has some great looking mini's. The fact that miniature comes pre-primed was nice for this exercise because it let me jump right into painting, but also on my last deployment I had been considering buying miniatures to paint as a time waster, but stopped that plan when it became obvious that I would not be able to get flat spray primer sent to theatre. So should the worst happen and I get deployed again, this mini brand will be my go to.
I pretty much had instant success, I once remember seeing a guy wearing a shirt featuring a Citadel paint pot with the phase 'Liquid Talent' underneath at a comic-con in the past. I can now solidly say 'I understand that reference' because the results of just my first few projects are just mind blowing in comparison to the projects I did as a kid with a more generic, cheaper, paint brand.
Additionally, I had success for the first time ever in applying sharp and convincing looking decals to my models, marking each of my 3 walkers with a unit number and my favorite/first painted walker with a skull and crossbones. The result was great and I'm going to buy some extra decal sheets for other projects moving forward.
The other fun thing about this new after work activity, (I usually paint for an hour or two...until my hands start shaking too bad), is that my girlfriend has grabbed a few mini's and also had success at giving them great looking paint jobs. The only issue is I think we're going to run out of miniatures sometime soon.
I'm also looking at getting some Forgeworld weathering powders for the vehicles I paint. I'll do a review of those here as well once I get to that point.
I apologize again for the lack of posts, this particular semester has had me quite overloaded with work, but it's over now so I can go back to wasting my keystrokes on my blogging activities.
So I spoke a bit over on the AT Prep blog about how one of my unexpected expenses that has arisen was me need for better derby skates. I am coming around to almost a year of skating, and then a month after that it will be one month in Derby...and I've been on the same skates since. I decided it was high time to get some good skates, as my old ones are on their way out.
My journey of getting new skates was an interesting one, I had decided that I was interested in the Antik AR1's since buying my starter skates, so I knew that those would be the boots I wanted. The reason for this is that they are both aesthetically awesome was well as seem to be a bit wider than every other skate I looked at.
From all the time I have spent in hiking and combat boots I know a thing or two about the way I like footwear to fit. Though I will submit I've never had to worry about hitting people while on 8 wheels. Either way I figured I would stick with what I know works.
The next thing that's important for skates...happens to be the part that makes them more than over glorified tap shoes. The plates, the plates are the metal bit on the bottom of the skate that hold the wheels on. On my old skates the plate was made out of nylon/plastic and people would often comment.
"You need new plates, I can see the plastic bow. You're wasting all that energy"
So after going all Rex Ryan on my fellow skaters feet for a couple weeks, carefully and lovingly analyzing their feet that is, and I saw a pretty consistent trend. The Powerdyne Arius plate. The Arius is pretty neat, it breaks from the tradition of O-Ring based bushings and instead uses a butterfly style, which is basically the manufacturer acknowledging the fact 'Skaters shift their weight left or right...why have bushing in the front and back of the truck.'
They are pretty neat and I hear they are very different to skate on, but in the end will result in less wasted energy and more accurate skating moves.
I briefly skated (by this I mean one practice) in a Riedell 595 boot and it destroyed my feet worse than the Pemi Loop did...which is impressive. While I know with new skates comes a break in period, I'm not sure if time could have stretched the toebox to the point I needed them to skate comfortably. The Antik's I am 100% sure that's a possibility if they are not already there.
So you might be considering the anatomy of a rollerskate and wondering if the next thing I'm going to talk about will be the wheels. Now if you are reading this and play Derby (unlikely) you know skaters generally select their wheels based on the skating surface they are playing on, versus some predefined set of criteria. Though skater weight, skater skill, and skating surface are the biggest factor in this choice.
Also I'll briefly touch on the color choices on the skates, these were a custom build ordered directly from Antik. I selected the colors based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as I was a huge fan of the cartoon when I was younger (none of that new live action garbage). Originally I had been considering an Assassins Creed themed set because the Antik 'A' looks like the Assassin logo from the game series. Unfortunately the white/red color scheme this would have required didn't translate well to the skates.
I'm looking forward to getting out and practicing and playing on these skates and I'll probally write a follow up with my findings and thoughts about the Antik AR1 (2015).
In case you haven't noticed the world has been taken by storm by Pokémon Go. So You are probably sitting there thinking to yourself...damn I wonder if Wiki is playing Pokémon Go (Probably not, but I like to think of myself as that important). Well I'll submit, I have downloaded the game and captured quite a number of Pokémon, however due to restrictions by my job and not being a munchkin out of school (or Teacher like my girlfriend), drug dealer, or unemployed person I can't really play the game. So you may have gotten into this post because of the misleading top photo and this intro but it is however...
Another. Fucking. MechWarrior. Post.
So while the rest of the word has been chasing their inner 90's kid dream of becoming a Pokémon master I have been toiling away hoping to achieve my childhood dream of being an interstellar mercenary stompy robot pirate. This cycles back around to my post relating to my bulldozer simulator sticks. So in making my simulator chair I decided to start with a relatively simple task. Mapping a stick to control the legs of the mech.
What's great about this step is that just about everything needed to map a plug and play USB stick to the legs is native support to the game. Basically all you have to do is plug the stick in allow the drivers to install and change some settings inside the game.
Inside the Control Settings pane in game, go to the Controls tab (as opposed to the keyboard tab) and unbind the joystick from the torso control. Then simply calibrate it for the Analog Leg Control in the same section and you are good to get walking.
Now as I said, this was the easy part. The next step is to get a second more sensitive joystick to serve as torso control. This will have to be modified utilizing an AutoHotkey script to behave like a mouse.
In addition to that finding the correct way to bind this Torso control stick I will also need to start devising a way to mount the sticks to my Playseat...I have an idea, but I will save it for another post when I actually execute. Additionally I am already considering expanding this project past just two joysticks.
Yes, yes...another MechWarrior post. This will without a doubt drag on so I'll get the non-MechWarrior business out of the way first. T.I.M.E. Stories is a board game that my girlfriend and I found at our local comic book store (The Lamp and Dragon in Ayer, MA) and I ended up getting it for her for her birthday. It's a cooperative mystery game that involves time travel and it is downright amazing.
Not only is it fun, it is also insanely well designed...almost impossibly so. In my last semester at Fitchburg State I took an 'Elements of Game Design Class' it focused on creating fun and balanced board games as a basis for students interested in pursuing video games. Not only did I have to DM a 'Dungeons and Dragons' campaign for a bunch of unwilling college students, I also had the joy of attempting to design my own game.
My game was very simple and it took extensive amounts of testing to make it playable. It was a simple hex based strategy game, T.I.M.E. Stories however is far more complex. The game is a narrative, cards are drawn from a deck and arranged in a panorama and characters 'receptacle' (aka the person's body they inhabited when their subconscious was sent back in time) occupy one of the cards and can only read it to themselves and then share what they have learned via paraphrasing or roleplay.
You have to move around the board trying to solve the mystery as time slowly ticks away, and you only have 3 tries to solve the mystery. How the game creators were able to balance all of the elements and moving parts to this game is so beyond me. It's no wonder that the core game retails for about 60 bucks and each additional mystery is 30 dollars.
Whats great about this company is they actually provide on their website a module creation pack free so you can create you own mysteries. Which I might just have to try out.
In T.I.M.E. Stories the party leader is known as the 'Time Captain', which inspired the new name of my previously described Blackjack Mech Build. Yeah, you see that transition...dank transition son. I have played a few more games with it and I have definitlly still been loving it. My Mech pilot wingman 'Bladedash' like it so much he now runs a slightly different version of the same setup and with the two of us hanging close together...We.Are.Deadly.
The highest damage output I've done in a game is about 706, which is more than I ever got in my 'meta build' Ebon Jaguar. Meta Builds are builds considered to be the best possible for a mech, usually used by players in tournament and competitive play. I think that the 'drain-style DPS' is more complementary to my play style than quick bursts of laser blasts.
They also announced the Linebacker this week, it's a Heavy Mech that will be capable of 100kmph...it looks absolutely crazy and I'm interested to play as it....though it is unfortunately a Clan Mech. Meaning as a House Davion Loyalist I would never be able to bring it to faction warfare. I still preordered because I'm morbidly curious about it, despite it not being able to help me in Faction Warfare.
MWO also recently had a 'Medium Mech Madness' event, and it marked the first time I was able to complete the event and get all of the bonuses. During the event I even 1 shot-1 killed an opposing mech with an air strike...really hope he watched that kill cam. That's the good news, the bad news is that the Blackjack was nerfed (or powered down) by the latest patch. It will be interesting to see where my numbers fall after the changes.
So at this point in the post you're probably looking that the title being like...'Well he covered T.I.M.E Stories, and Time Captain....with a beautiful transition no less. So what in the hell is this talk of a bulldozer. Well it doesn't stray too far from the topic of 'Time Captain', I talked in my Community Warfare post about being interested in constructing a MechWarrior sim pit, similar to flight simulator enthusiasts.
I'll likely start a series of blog posts that chronicle the build, but I secured my first few parts this week. The first is a Saitek PH09 Pro Flight Headset, which has a much more 'universe appropriate' style than my Razer Headset, as well as a built in mute button and volume controls, which is a really nice feature.
The second item is a bit weird but cool never-the-less, but first some background. MechWarrior controls mimic that of tanks. Basically what that means is there is a center twist and the giant stompy robot's legs and torso are controlled by 2 different inputs. In a lot of ways this is similar to the controls on modern FPS, but feels a lot different because of the pace of the game.
So that means that a MechWarrior cockpit would need two controls, one for the legs and one for the torso. Today we are going to be talking about leg control. In the standard control configuration the legs are controlled via WASD which means there is very little finesse. The button is either up or down, so the sensitivity of the 'movement joystick' isn't really important.
I found that most commercially available control sticks, with a fair amount of buttons, are designed for flight simulators and therefore molded for right hand use. This generates an issue as I intend on using my right hand for aiming (torso control) and me left hand for movement (leg control). So I perused all different sorts of options and ended up finding a solution that I think will work great.
Mother. Fucking. Bulldozer. Simulator.
This is a simple stick made by SimLog for commercial training on bulldozers. It is USB Plug and Play, has 8 programmable buttons and a trigger. Even though I got two of these sticks they are not precise enough for Torso control. I'll likely resell the other one, or gift it to a friend with similar mech pit ambitions. Best part about this, I got them for less than I would have a similar non-bulldozer stick at 80 bucks for the two of them.
I figure the trigger will be mapped to targeting/information gathering, and the some of the 8 upper buttons will be mapped to what I refer to as 'Admin Functions'. Things like bringing up the map, deploying UAVs, activating TeamSpeak and in-game voice chat (Two separate buttons), and calling airstrikes. This is just the first steps, it will be a long build.
This game marks my first bout against another men's team, and my return to playing sports at Fitchburg State University, my alma mater. This has been a long time coming and I still have a long way to go, but before I get into the break down of the game I'd like to talk a bit about some of the factors at work leading up to it.
I'm going to start from 2 weeks back on June 30th, we had a practice and it was the worst practice I have had in a long time. The two contributing factors to this were that I had not skated in a long time (okay so like 2 weeks) and I ended up having an asthma attack mid practice. I was feeling pretty down and defeated having such a bad practice so close to a game.
Fast forward through the long holiday weekend, where many of my teammates attended Northeast Derby Con, and land us solidly on practice day Thursday 7/7. We were practicing at the Wallace Civic Center, which is the floor we'd be playing on come Saturday. Still a bit salty from my bad practice a week earlier I am happy to report that I had one of the best practice performances in my time playing Derby and I really love the polished concrete play surface at the arena.
So I feel the game went very well, I ended the game with 4 penalties and some pretty good blocks, we also won so that was a plus. It was really nice of my folks to show up and try to understand the rules. During half time I was frozen in the penalty box and my father had some excellent words for me. "I don't really understand what you did, but I know you're a fucking cheater." Well that just about sums that up.
I found myself playing the 'butt' position on the wall more than I had in the past and I feel like it's a real indication that my skating is improving. I have another scrimmage this Thursday, in lieu of practice which is always fun so it should be interesting to see if I can step my game up another notch at that event.
It's been an uninteresting short week, in my post holiday haze I have decided to make a foray into MechWarrior Online's Community Warfare mode. This is pretty neat actually...if a bit overwhelming for a newcomer. Basically it is a conflict over control of the MechWarrior universe where players engage in two game modes to gain control of planets and reshape the control of universe.
There's 3 factions in Community Warfare. Inner Sphere, Clan, and Mercenary. It was a joint decision between a friend and I to swear allegiance directly to the Inner Sphere. Then I realized these huge 'drops' (the hip MechWarrior lingo for a Community Warfare game) required and immense amount of coordination and teamwork to win. With our group including 2 regular players and 2 'sometimes players' that's not nearly enough to even conduct a scouting mission.
So I went to the MechWarrior Online forums in search of a decently active, semi-serious Community Warfare group. I found Robinson's Ranger Brigade of House Davion. After browsing their site I elected to put in an application and played with them on 2 scouting drops that evening. Thus securing my Recruit status with the group. I now just need to get my friend that actively plays with me to cross over.
The two Scouting missions I played went terribly, in part due to a game balance issue...and the other part was simply because I was trapped using a 'Trial Mech' as opposed to a build I am comfortable using. This was because most Mechs I owned up until this point were considered to be Clan mechs. So as I break into this new part of my new favorite 'in between Assassin Creed releases game' I realized I needed to start building up 'my dropship'
In each of the 2 game modes in Community Warfare the Player has a 'Dropship' that represents the Mechs they bring to the fight. In Scouting you are limited to only one Light or Medium Mech, so I decided to sort out my Scouting Dropship first. Based on my experience with the stock TBT-7M Trebuchet...I knew that wasn't the answer, I needed something that was missile-less and more direct action oriented, but I had very little experience with Medium Mechs.
In my two drops I noted the Blackjack Medium mech was popular, so I took a look at that and found myself liking the look of the Hero mech 'The Arrow' (well....not the actual look of it, because it has this shitty Ying-Yang paint scheme...but that can be fixed). It hosts a array of 6 Machine Guns and 2 energy hardpoints that come with 2 preloaded Medium lasers with complimenting Double heat sinks...however I had another build in mind.
Now I think the Machine Guns in MechWarrior Online are a grossly underrated weapon option for mechs with a lot of ballistic hardpoints, but why though...each bullet only does .08 points of damage ( or .8 damage per second). I will submit that as a stand alone weapon the Machine Gun is complete shit...however when you consider the stat card stacking them up can have it's benefits.
'The Arrow' or BJ-A (heh, giggity) carries 6 of these bad boys which means: 0.8*6 = 4.8 DPS
Now that is for zero heat generation and no really noticeable recycle time and 8000rds that's the making of a lot of consistent damage output so long as you can keep a bead on your target. This coupled with some high damage output Large Pulse Lasers make for a great combo. So I did away with one of the Double Heatsinks and Jump Jets to install two Large Pulse Lasers that fire linked in Weapon Group 2.
The Large Pulse Laser deal the most damage of any beam weapon at 11. This makes it an excellent complement to the dakka-vomit Machine Guns this setup runs as two of these weapons can quickly zap off armor with 22 points of damage as Machine Guns have advantages against internal components, according to the wiki. It has a 39% chance to deal 1 Critical Hit, 22% chance to deal 2 critical hits, and 6% chance to deal 3 critical hits. The max damage each bullet can do is roughly 3 compared to the normal 0.1 point of damage each bullet does to armor. When you're firing 10 rounds a second you have a lot of chances to strike those bonuses if the components are exposed.
I have only played 1 game with the Blackjack (the stat card shows 2, but I had to close the game because the puppy required my attention before I could even drop from the dropship) the stat card for that game is below.
383 Damage is a pretty healthy amount ( they say you should be doing at least 250 if you plan on bringing a Mech to Community Warfare). My Three kills were: a Solo Kill on a Butterbee Catapault Hero Mech (When I started on it, it had around 97% health), a Jenner that was pretty easy to track with the Machine Guns but very hard to hit with the Large Pulse Lasers (However once I eventually landed a shot it was legged and I finished the job easily), and the last one was a severely damaged Hunchback to win the game.
Overall I feel like the build is great for working in teams and should serve me much better than the Trebuchet....especially with a more swaggin' paint scheme.
Up next is setting up my Invasion Dropship. Which consists of up to 4 mechs, so expect another post like this dealing with my selection of mechs for that play-mode soon enough. Though it should be a bit simpler because I don't want to drag on about Weapon calculation math...like I did here, seeing as this was supposed to be a split post about MechWarrior and Roller Derby (hence the ellipses in my title)...though maybe from here it's best to keep each post focused on one topic because I have a tendency to over talk things.
Overall, if it's not obvious I'm still enjoying MechWarrior and considering taking the next step and building a mech sim-pit...though right now I should probably finish furnishing my house...but an ejection seat converted into a mech simulator is totally the best office chair ever...right?
If it's almost a sport - We've got it. ESPN 8 - The Ocho.
Welcome to the new part of Going Big where I talk about my hobbies other than hiking which are, as the name suggests, a strange array of nonsense that almost qualifies as a sport, just as it almost qualifies as prep for an AT Thru attempt. I'll give a brief run down of all of it here as well as make this post apply to all the categories I'm going to establish so they will appear in the right hand bar. Without further delay lets run this collection of short shorts and action sports down.
You'll note this section is called MilSim, not airsoft. While some people lump these two under one over arching umbrella I see a difference. You see I have a dream, that one day people will understand the difference between playing with toy guns in sweatpants, Air Jordan's, and a paintball mask in a massive warehouse versus humping 40 pounds of equipment for 48 hours in a replicated military operation environment...but today is not that day.
This part of the Ocho will focus around my involvement with the milsim community and being one of the senior-most member of the Rushing Russians Nor'East Chapter Vega. Recently the team has seen a lot of activity and growth, lead to me generating content for the newcomers. I'd rather post it here than on Facebook since forums are long dead...so that's what I'll do. Expect After Action Reports, as well as Gear reviews and breakdowns.
Many who followed my hiking blog to this point know that I got involved with Roller Derby as I was wrapping up my final semester of college. I am still in it and I officially made the B-Team of the Mass Maelstrom Men's Roller Derby Team a.k.a The B'Zerkers. I attend practices at least weekly and have some upcoming games. I am still improving and I really enjoy the atmosphere.
Expect game breakdowns and equipment reviews from this part of the blog, as I get better at the game and more in tune with the rules I may also post some opinion pieces about gameplay/officiating issues for the sake of mixing things up...because I have a tendency to have strong opinions on matters like that when I am versed in them (See above with milsim)
This is another thing thing I have written about in my hiking blog that I feel belongs over here. I engage in the activity of running through the woods while dressed like and elf beating up other nerds with foam swords. I am not really active in the LARP community to be totally honest, I play just one game, Arcane, out of Madison, CT due to it's simple rules, high costuming quality, and high production value, it's extremely immersive. I always feel as though I am getting more than my money's worth every time I go there.
This will probably pop up a few times, but less regularly than other things. I will likely aim to talk about costume/equipment changes as well as my experiences at the events themselves.
Alright...this one is a bit tongue in cheek, I'm not really a hardcore gamer, it's certainly not even close to my main form of amusement, I do play a lot of major releases as well as play a few games online. I am a huge fan of the Assassin's Creed game series and the Elder Scrolls/Fallout Series as they have rich single player experiences. Generally I don't like playing online because...well...people are fucking assholes.
However I have recently found that the freemium online game MechWarrior Online is actually a really great multiplayer experience where teamwork is encouraged (if not required) and is relatively forgiving to new players that grasp this concept. I am still a Tier 5 (aka Rookie) Pilot, but I have really been enjoying the game and will probably write some content about it, maybe post some video highlight reels. I'll probably write about this a lot...I play basically every night I'm not doing something else.
Honestly, I do a lot of stuff. Some of it can be pretty cool, I also like writing about the stuff I do...comes with the territory of starting a blog about you doing things I suppose. So I'll likely inject things of that nature into The Ocho, even if it's not necessarily obscure sports or something I participate in on the regular.
Some examples I can think of off the top of my head are brewing beer and wine, craft beer reviews, movie or show reviews, and Muggle Quidittch. Yes...you read that right, there is a game that is in the vain of the broom-bourne game Harry Potter plays in the books. Having watched a few videos about it I'm pretty interested because it seems like a mix between ruby (it's full tackle), lacrosse, and dodgeball, seems like the kind of thing I would be interested in.