Sunday, January 31, 2016

My 1:1 scale props (Star Wars, Star Trek, Highlander & the Wild West)

I've ordered some Star Wars props that are on their way. Taking stock of my props to date, I have Star Wars, Star Trek, Highlander and old West props so far.


I own both Katana types wielded by both the movie and TV Highlander (Connor Macleod and Duncan Macleod).

The Connor Macleod katana is not really a prop, but a real sword with carbon steel. I have to oil this on a regular basis or else it will rust.

It is like the one in the movie, down to the dragon carving.

The other Katana is the one wielded by Duncan Macleod. Unfortunately, it is not a carbon steel sword but stainless steel crap used only for display purposes. Also, the tip of the hilt was broken off. Oh well, such is the life of an immortal! :-)

Star Trek

I have the Klingon Honor Blade, or that is what we called it when I played FASA's Star Trek RPG. It is now called the D'k tahg.

I believe it is stainless steel, as it has not rusted all these years. However it is very sharp.

With a flip of the button, the guard flips out.

Star Trek II and III made a great impression on me as a teen, and the modernized Phaser II-B is still a favourite.

Star Wars

Han Solo's DL-44 Heavy Blaster pistol.

It even makes that blaster sound when you pull the trigger.

Stormtrooper E-11 Blaster Rifle

I actually painted this from a kit I bought off ebay. The E-11 of course, is based on the British Sterling SMG, which I fired actually when I was in the military. Very crude SMG to be honest, but when turned into a prop, it looks good.


Luke's Return of the Jedi's lightsaber. A very elegant weapon indeed.

The Old West

These props are not working weapons, but metal replicas. They have the same weight but are props nonetheless.

Colt. 45 Peacemaker

These props make that satisfactory "click" sound when loaded and fired that you see in Spaghetti Westerns.

Colt Navy, 1851
It had brass parts so it wouldn't rust at sea. A very popular weapon on both sides of the Civil War.

 Colt Dragoon 1848 (Dragoon .44)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Game of Stones.... enjoyable session with Stone Age

My friend P.F bought me the game Stone Age from Z-Man Games for Christmas which I greatly appreciate.

I had it once before and only I played it once with mixed results with my friend Jeff. It was the fifth different boardgame Jeff and I played one day when we did a boardgame marathon, and the last one of the night, so we were exhausted when we tried it. I subsequently Kijiji'ed it to my regret. It was thus an unexpected nice Christmas present to get it back.

Now that I got it back, I sat down with my friends Jim and Pixie to try this game again. We actually played two games tonight.

Stone Age is a popular worker placement game, and scores 7.64 on BGG as of today. It won tons of awards and even has it's own app to play on your phone and iPad as you can see here on iTunes.

I was yellow, Pixie was red, and Jim was blue in game 1 and green in game 2. 

It's secret is easy rules, but great selection of strategies to win. Do you go for building right away or sneak a win through cards (such as going for multiplying victory points through arts and writing, or through population explosion (shamans), or through building, etc)? Lots of variety with just enough luck when getting resources to not be a pure boring Euro.

The meeples are nicely done as well. Jim, Pixie and myself liked the wooden dice and the leather cup. A nice thematic touch. Strangely for us old gamers, we kept using the cup to roll the dice instead of just rolling from our hands as we are wont to do.

I liked the meeples for the wood for some reason...

The bearded chieftain sitting in his primitive throne is a nice touch for the First Player marker.

I could tell Jim, Pixie and myself were enjoying the game, as we constantly made jokes...

Jim for instance, kept going for more population all the time, to which we remarked that "Jim is not hunting wabbits, but f*&&*ing like wabbits." Jim made the 70s porn music sound effect with the "bow-chica-wow-wow" every time he paired up his meeples to make babies.

Jim, as usual, is hogging the village section to get more population with his two meeples..♫ Bow-chica-wa-wa ♫

We got tons of other jokes said to each other. Several times when we rolled with the leather cup, the "cup runneth over" comment came up.

Food management is important in this game, and the three of us hogged the field sector to get the agriculture point, but also needed to hunt. We made lots of jokes about feeding caveman bellies.

Panning for gold got the inevitable "There's gold in them thar hills!" Competition for gold got fierce in the second game we played especially.

Sending 3 of my guys to pan for gold.

Quarrying for stone got the "getting stoned" comment..

Chopping wood got the ♫ "I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay"♫  ditty.

The determining hunger and food requirements phase elicited a couple of times the "Vaal Hungers" whiny quote from an infamous Star Trek episode from me.

Vaal, from the Star Trek episode "The Apple."
Jokes kept coming all night, which is not a bad thing in a game about cavemen and primitive people. I was collecting art cards at one point, and hammed up dialogue about the evils of the golden calf..

As we were getting into the game, the competition got fiercer, with everyone trying to secure building tiles.
In one round, I somehow managed to buy all 3 tiles.
I did a spectacular roll at one point when I was panning for gold. For every six rolled, you get one gold, so when I rolled the following, I got the howls of laughter as I had the tool modifiers to max out my gold.! It's all mine!
Anyways, Jim won game 1 and Pixie won game 2, scoring something like 244 points to Jim's 241.

All in all, the three of us enjoyed the game immensely. Thumbs up!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Random Musings on Star Wars RPG campaigning

I recently gave my first impressions of the new FFG RPG Force and Destiny here, a Star Wars RPG for Force-sensitive characters.

The book and the recent Star Wars movie The Force Awakens got me thinking about Star Wars RPG campaigns in general.

Now, as I said, I've tried lots of RPG campaigns, but the only setting that really resonated with me back in the good ol' days of the 1980s was space opera, which meant mostly FASA's Star Trek  and WEG's Star Wars, and a bit of GDW Traveller as well. Other settings, like fantasy, espionage, etc, just did not do it for me long term, though God knows I have tons of RPGs for all sorts of rules and campaign settings still, even though I haven't faced-to-faced RPGed in 20 years.

Of the two universes, Star Trek and Star Wars, I've been thinking lately why I preferred one universe slightly more than the other, the movie-era Star Trek over Star Wars that is.  Don't get me wrong.. I'm done with Star Trek. I am all Star Trekked out. 10 or so movies, and 4 shows have done it for me.

For decades though, I just slightly preferred Trek. Sure, Star Wars appears to have slightly less tech than Trek. Sure, there was no cohesive map of Star Wars until recently, and sure the WEG rules seemed simpler than FASA for some reason, but it was more than that. I think why the movie-era Trek slightly wins over Star Wars for long term campaigning for me was this: Star Trek is tinged with optimism while Star Wars is tinged with pessimism.

Sure, sure, you'll say, what am I talking about.. optimism and pessimism is relative to each player.

Of course. I know.

And I said, "tinged", which is not the same as drowning in pessimism or optimism.

I'm sure there are lots of long running Star Wars campaigns that have happened since 1987 when WEG came out with Star Wars....but..... but you have to admit it's all in the name.. Star Wars.. Wars.. never ending wars and conflict... Thousands of years of fighting between the Sith and the Jedi for instance.. Trek on the other hand, has more optimism, more spirit of exploration, more questions of what-is-our-place-in-the-universe and with tag lines like "the Human Adventure is just beginning."

As a side note, GDW's Traveller also did not have that same spirit of optimism that Trek had, so it was an uphill battle for me to get enthused about romping in that gameverse as well.

Now I know FFG came out with scout and colonist campaign books for Edge of the Empire, but you have to ask yourself, what is the point? Why explore strange new worlds in the Star Wars universe when you'll just be spreading the warring crap paradigm that is inherent in the Core Worlds and Outer Rim. Very few times in Star Wars do I see stories where there is a feeling of upliftment of the human condition. It's inevitably fighting and fighting alone. Either you're a scum bag surrounded by other scum bags hustling, or you're a Jedi facing Dark Side lunatics and/or fighting scumbags, or you're a politician in the corrupt Republic or amoral Empire, and so on.

Take The Force Awakens.. It was an okay film despite Rey being a Mary Sue and the plot literally being a carbon copy of A New Hope.. Digging deeper though, you can see the pessimism... despite Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, what is the end result of all the heroes' struggles in these 3 films? In Force Awakens, Han and Leia appear divorced, are failed parents, and Han is still hustling and smuggling at age 70.. Huh? And Luke is a coward who ran away after one of his students murdered the rest of his students. Guy topples the Empire and converts Vader back into the Light Side, but some punk kid forces him to flee for 30 years? All 3 of our beloved heroes thus are failures and losers.  Plus, the Empire or whatever they call themselves now are back with a vengeance. The classic trilogy it seems had no happily ever after.


You can say then, that the Star Wars universe is a petri dish of fighting, struggle and nothing more.

And yet....

And yet, there is still something appealing about romping in the universe despite the inevitable question no doubt many players of a Star Wars campaign ask themselves eventually: "Is this all there is?"

The image of the lone Jedi with his lightsaber is vastly appealing.. There is something about the lightsaber that is noble.. the closest in our real world history would be the Katana. Both weapons are elegant and classy and not to be wielded lightly by minions.

As a Han Solo wannabe, there is the classic freedom a man in his own space ship that inspires as well (though all Space Opera settings usually have this call to freedom as well).

And then, well, ....then there is my continuing interest in the Clones, which continues to intrigue me for some reason. Since the prequels, despite the Phantom Menace being goddawful (I am not sure Star Wars has ever, or will ever recover from the disaster that was the Phantom Menace), I have been very curious about the Clone Troopers.

I've always been interested in the Clone Wars since 1977 (by the way, why is it Clone Wars plural??) and found the depictions of the Clone Troopers generally favourable in Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. Of course, their opponents, the battle droids, were stupid and childish, but the Clone Troopers were nicely depicted.  I haven't seen much of the Clone Wars cartoon, but I hear good things about it and the depiction of the Clones in general in it. 

Their armour and weapons look retro enough to be aesthetically pleasing, at least to my eyes.

The Clone Troopers also seemed to be more competent than their successors, the Stormtroopers, who were not clones. I am hand-waving though, at the fact that they are based on Boba Fett/ Jango Fett's DNA.. yeah, yeah, whatever (by the way, why didn''t anyone in the Star Wars Universe find it strange that Jango Fett, who's DNA was the backbone of the Republic's army, was in league with Count Dooku, who was the leader of the other side?...the Jedi never put 2 and 2 together?  But I digress).

Anyways, since the Prequels, I've been wondering what it would be like to RPG a character who was a clone and survived the war and had remorse for Order 66.. I did a recent google search, and was pleasantly surprised that many people had the exact same thought and RPGed a Clone Trooper character.. some came up with good RPG hooks like being obligated to a Hutt crime boss who had anti-aging drugs, or year long campaign settings to find a geneticist who will cure the double aging effect, and such, as you can see here.

The interest in the Clones and the Clone Wars is even manifested in people who still play using the well admired WEG rules...

Speaking of the WEG rules, I'm glad it's still played even though WEG lost the license in 1999.
The WOTC expansions for instance, were lovingly translated into WEG rules by someone, as you can see at this website. 

Star Wars still has a healthy RPG interest all around it seems...  it's a vast gameverse with lots of variety and who knows, maybe many teenagers can overlook the tinge of pessimism some of us older guys have felt, and may find something uplifting in Star Wars after all.  Certainly, the new FFG rules can help as they are impressive and will no doubt generate hard core supporters, much like WEG does to this day, nearly 30 years later.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Friday, January 15, 2016

The General Magazine archive

I stumbled across this digital archive of the old Avalon Hill's General magazine, the first professionally made magazine for tabletop wargames.

Some young people don't know what it was like before the internet. Magazines were the main source of new information for whatever you were interested in. Otherwise, it was a desert of information most of the time back then. Magazines like the General were avenues to discuss wargaming for instance back then.

Avalon Hill was a great wargaming company and I bought a number of their games in the 80s and 90s. I didn't realize the magazine lasted 34 years, from 1964 until AH was bought out by Hasbro in 1998. A long run indeed..

These covers bring back memories and no doubt, when I download them, even more memories will flood back.

Anyways, here is the archive. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Runewars replacement parts received

I liked Runewars by Fantasy Flight Games and discussed a recent session we had.

What I didn't like though, was that some parts were broken like this undead piece

Someone on BGG said you can ask FFG for replacement parts and I did that, showing them a picture of my broken undead piece (violent coloured) and a broken human piece (blue coloured).

Well, today in the mail I got the replacement parts package.

I was disappointed though to get 2 human blue pieces instead of 1 undead and 1 human piece. 

I suppose it's better than nothing, but still.. the guy at FFG making minimum wage filling in this order clearly doesn't give a damn and just put whatever in the box  A picture is not worth a thousand words in this case.

Thanks FFG, sorta.

Visit to Miniature World, Victoria BC, Canada

I was recently in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada on a business trip, and right beside the place I was staying at, I saw a sign that read Miniature World.

I asked around, and was told it's like a show of miniature dioramas.

Intrigued, I went after work and paid my $14 to enter, and pleased to see dioramas of all types and all scales. As a miniatures painter and assembler, I was pleased at some of the colossal dioramas they had, often at 1/35 scale (54mm). The scales was everything from HO railroad scale to 28mm to 54mm and some even larger.

Often times in a large diorama, you would see mini-dramas happening, such as say a diorama of 16th century London with dozens and dozens of minis around, and there would be a sword fight in there with two minis, and such.

A lot of the minis had day and night displays, with the lights dimming and lights within typically from a building turning on. Lots of resin water dioramas, which are neat to see. As a modeler myself, I recognize how much work went into a lot of these dioramas.

In many cases, you press a button to get trains moving, or knights jousting, or propellers spinning, and such.

Topics range from the middle ages, to fairy tales to WW2 to logging sites, to bits of Canadiana and BC history

You enter and there would be a space station diorama and what looks like a belter (asteroid mining) operation.

Their website can be found here.