Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Adepticon after action review

Adepticon is over.  It was an exhausting few days in the nirvana of wargamerdom and I’m counting the days until the next one (361 if you’re counting). 
So what is my big “lesson learned”?  My first is to stop making damn plans.  No I didn’t get my 12 games vrs 12 opponents in.  Eight was the best I could do.  It wasn’t for lack of trying, stuff just kept coming up.  The podcast was a huge factor in me not getting in all 12 games.  It wasn’t that I spend all that time recording, we actually did very little recording. I went from booth to booth talking to third party suppliers trying to schedule some future interviews for the year, chatting with fans, talking with people about the differences between games (later update on that), checking out armies, scheduling tournament winners for interviews, and partying. 
That last one is new.  In previous years Adepticon and other table top wargame conventions were far more about games than anything.  For the vast majority of gamers it still was about the game and only the game but for the first time I noticed that the “con party” crept into the mix.  While it’s nothing like the party scene of more famous cons like ComicConthe party atmosphere of Adepticon is growing and will only get bigger. 
I can credit the internet for this one.  I met dozens of people who previously were little more than forum names.  Meeting the flesh and blood person is much better than their digital avatar.  While previously I had to type fast to communicate now I only had to look across a table in a bar while sharing a beer.  It’s a far different experience.  Even those people I bumped into briefly on the game floor were a pleasure to meet.
There are also the people I rarely get to meet.  I’ve often compared the Bunker to the Cheer’s bar on TV.  It’s where everyone knows your name and is glad to see you.  The problem is that not everyone is there every Friday night for 2 years straight like I’ve been.  It gave me an excellent opportunity to say hi to people I only meet once or twice a year.  Some people I haven’t seen because of their health reasons and I wish them well in the future.  Others, like Karrick, may live in the area but are still too far away to be regulars.  By the way, Karrick isn’t abrasive in person like he is online and is much more entertaining to have a conversation with.  I’ll even go as far as calling him brilliantly opinionated. It’s a goodthing, he is more opinionated in person than he is online.  Having a game with him was an education in how to beat a tri-land raider list by taking advantage of it’s major weakness (to be covered in a future episode). 
The party con aspect was very small and unplanned.  Nobody planned it, it’s just what happens when people who don’t get to see each other finally get together.  We get some beer, we start talking, we hang out and then we go out on the town.  Well, we did plan on Hooters and I’m glad that it came out well.  I’d hate to think of what would’ve happened if we posted something about it at the con. 
I’d love to see the Adepticon organizers would consider making official party plans for attendees.  It wouldn’t be hard, put up some signs, post a schedule online, and warn where we’re going.  Yes it would be that easy.  People were looking for something non-game things to do.  The Weston Hotel where the event was hosted had a good bar, Miller’s Ale House was across the street, Hooters was a little bit farther down the road, and a quick jump on the expressway took you straight into the city to some real party places.
So it’s over and I still have GenCon and Games Day to go to complete my wargamer trifecta. 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Oh the irony, I went on-line to get ready for the great outdoors.


You can kind of say that  the first sign of spring is when Dan starts getting anxious to get back outside and into the great outdoors.  So while haunting a website I occasionally visit I found this article; 

Where do I begin.  Oh yea, bullshit!!!!!!

Sorry about the cussing but I call shenanigans on them.  One of the habits I’ve carried from my hunting and fishing hobby to my gaming hobby is the use of a notebook.  In it I write down little notes and idea’s that come up before, during and after the hunt (or game).  While I’m not as regular with it as I used to be the old notebook is still there and giving lessons back years later.  One of them is that farmers are hypocrites.  

I’ve spent plenty of time in the country with old timers who will bore you to death with stories of the old days on how pheasants used to live where the Walmart now stands and how kids these days don’t appreciate the way their parents used to live and love the land.  I remember these people while flipping through my notebook and count the number of farmers who will in one sentence lament the loss of the country way of life and in the other tell you to get the hell of their land.  The irony of course is entirely lost on them.  Yes it’s their land so I agree that it’s their right.  I don’t own thousands of productive acres to hunt and fish on.  I have to crowd into the public land and bump into the idiots who have no idea what gun safety is or go ask the people who do own land.  

Shall I now count the no’s I’ve received from the hypocrites?  10, 20, 30, 50, 86 landowners of all sorts have said no while only 1 has said yes.  That 1 yes wanted $1,500 per hunter and big restrictions on what, when and where we hunted.  No, he didn’t get any of my money.

I’ve heard the excuses; 

You’ll shoot yourself and sue me.  No I can’t.  The law protects you.

You’ll drive your ATV all over the place and dig ruts in the land.  No I won’t, I don’t own an ATV.

You’ll shoot the trophy deer I’m trying to hunt.  Actually I’m hunting to fill up my freezer full of meat.  It’s the young doe’s and ducks I’m after.

You’re not from around here.  True but that doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with me any more than something being wrong with you if the geographic situation were reversed.  

Now I’m willing to pay for access.  Before I became a father I, my brother in law and a friend leased access from a farmer.  This is a capitalist society and land is how they makes a living.  I just wished that they'd keep in mind that if I can’t afford to buy my own land then I probably can't afford to pay him 1,500K for lousy access.  Of couse we don’t actually live in a pure capitalist society do we?  Farmer Bob here may own the land but I and 300 million other people own the game animals on it.  And we also pay him numerous subsidies that he couldn't own the land without.  

So this summer I'll be at it again, knocking on doors asking for permission to hunt on their property.  In the fall I'll probably be back on public land again.  The difference is this time when I hear a farmer say how kids these days don't appreciate the land and how city folk don't understand I'll pull out a mirror and introduce him to the one responsible.  

Nobody will appreciate what they don't understand and they can't understand it until they experience it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Seriously folks

Seriously folks, the sky isn't falling.  Let's all calm down and think for a moment here.
Yes the health care bill got passed,  no this isn't the health care reform that I would've asked for, and yes we are all going to survive.

Today was a pretty f-ed up day on facebook.  The debate was carried out of the cable news networks (where it didn't belong) and on-line among people that are actually going to be effected by this bill (where it did belong).  At first I was actually happy to see people finally talking about it until I saw what they were saying.
"All because our elected officials can't manage our money and now they're going to raise our taxes to manage healthcare. Of course I want the uncovered to have coverage but I'd like to see people back to work and leave my taxes alone."
"You must all enjoy paying more taxes."
"What if we have to pay more for insurance now?"
That was some of the more tame examples of stupid comments I've seen today.  I wish some of these people actually read what's in that bill and actually got their info from more than a single source with questionable objectivity.  
Taxes, if your taxes go up because of this bill then you're making 250K a year and can afford it.  That's right, if you make 250K a year you can afford to pay back to the society that gave you the opportunity to be very prosperous.  If that tax increase is going to make your life suffer then maybe you need a reality check on what real suffering is all about.
I admit, maybe my opinion is a bit jaded because I hate insurance companies.  You see in my experience they are all a bunch of soul sucking daemon leeches.  That isn't opinion, it's a fact.  Twice I've had insurance policies cancelled because I dared to put in a claim.  Right now I have to pay for a dental procedure for my 5 year old because my insurance company found away to weasel out of paying for it.  I guess my child's pain and my 12 years of on time premium payments mean nothing compared to saving $150 for their bottom line.  

So those people who know me will call a foul and say that this rant doesn't match my political belief.  You see, I'm a Libertarian.  Libertarians believe in personal responsibility and a free market.  In a perfect world personal responsibility and a free market would be more than enough to fix the health care problem.  Of course we don't live in a perfect world do we.  We live in a corrupt world where personal responsibility gets taken advantage of and a free market is corrupted.  That's where I withhold my Libertarian principals and accept a dose of reality.  The health care and insurance industry need a bit of regulation.  Weather you like it or not the strong arm of big government is going to act like a parent and restrain the rotten brat that the health care and insurance industry have become.  
With luck they will be restrained enough or at least be coerced into restrain themselves into doing the right thing. 

So I applaud President Obama for passing the biggest health care reform in my lifetime.  Full credit to him for having the balls to do something about the problem.  No this bill isn't perfect, it might not work, it may even hurt some people but it's going to be far better than the alternative of doing nothing.  

I may not agree with many of his policies but I do agree with his intentions.  

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Da "Homebrew" codex

Having a blog but nothing to post sort of sucks.  So I'm drawing on some material I just submitted to the Astronomicon web magazine.  Since homebrew codex's seems to be a DLT specialty they asked me to write an article about the subject.  Being a shameful whore for publicity I agreed.  The following is the article that will appear in their next edition.  It will be followed by a second article where I'll discuss the process of making a homebrew codex, the problems that occur and make a few examples.

The “Homebrew”-
Why on Terra would someone try to write their own “Homebrew” codex?  We’ve always been told that such a feat is absolute heresy and should never be attempted by mere mortals.  After all if GW can make such horrible codexes what makes anyone believe that a mere hobbyist can write a better one. 
     That last statement isn’t completely true.  GW actually makes very good codexes.  The “homebrew” codex could and should never replace an existing codex but it does have its place in the 40K game world. A minor but essential place for the advanced wargame hobbyist. 
     There are a few occasions when a “homebrew” codex can and should be used as a supplement to existing codexes.  The primary reason is when a current codex is so woefully out of date from 3rd edition and is filled with redundant rules, wargear and concepts that it screams for an update.  GW is in the process of updating all of their older codex’s but until they complete the process it’s inevitable that some will have to wait.  Fluid 40K by the Dice Like Thunder Podcast was an early attempt by hobbyists to use minor revisions to certain rules to bring the older codex up to date with the current rule set.  To a large degree it succeeded. Speaking as one of the writers, I’m as pleased with the result as I am to see GW make it redundant with every newly revised codex.  
     What inspired us to commit such a travesty against the game?  While some of the older codex’s may still be competitive (Dark Eldar come to mind) many are simply too aged.  Within them you’ll find outdated rules, wargear and codex writing styles.  There is also the question of codex consistency, why are there so many different versions of Land Raiders and Force Weapons?  Why does a vehicle in one codex cost a certain point value while in another codex the identical vehicle is a completely different point cost?  Why does Machine Spirit work differently from one Space Marine codex to another?  These codexes may also be so old that codex creep has left it behind and now it’s in drastic need of a redux (like the Necron codex).  Many of those older codexes were written with 3rd edition rules and tactics in mind and now what once was an army limitation to maintain balance has become a crippling handicap.  An example is the Daemonhunters lack of transport vehicles.  Grey Knights are competitively priced in points compared their abilities but to be used effectively in 5 th edition they need to be mounted in a transport.  Unfortunately the only transport option for Grey Knights to use the Land Raider which will force a reduction on model count in an already high model point cost army.  The reason for that was to deny the “Rhino Rush” tactic that was so popular in 3rd edition from an army with such potent close combat ability.  The viability of that old tactic has been significantly reduced but the limitation on the Grey Knights remained. 
     So if an aged codex is a reason for a player to rewrite a codex and give it a “homebrew” revision, which ones should it apply to?  The obvious answer would be any codex that hasn’t been written with the current 5th edition rules.  The longer it’s been out of date the more of a justification a homebrew codex writer has.  Even the competitive Dark Elder codex should be open to some minor revisions to bring its 3rd edition rules in line with the current 5th edition rules. 
But what about the underpowered codex that's weak and uncompetitive?  Once again the Necron codex surfaces as a codex that screams for a revision.  Other codexes such as the Dark Angels and Daemonhunters could only be helped by a codex revision.  This doesn't mean that all older codexes are uncompetitive.  Recent tournament results will prove that these older underpowered codexes can and sometimes do win tournaments against the current crop of codexes.  While this does lend argument against changing a codex is doesn't prove it.  A talented player can win with an underpowered codex vrs a poorly run newer codex.  The older codex such as Dark Eldar, Tau, Daemonhunters and Necrons tend to be run by older more veteran players with a bit more skill than the average player.  They know how to win with any army.  That alone can more than make up for a perceived codex’s lack of power.  My own personal counter argument is that no codex should require an inordinate amount of player skill to have a chance of being competitive vrs an opponent of average skill.  All codex’s, despite their age, should be balanced in relation to each other.
     When determining which codex’s are “underpowered” I would recommend avoiding any individual player’s opinion.  Too often that is based completely upon their playing ability and self bias and not the true capability of the codex.  A website resource I recommend for this is .  Although its statistics are based upon the tournament results in Australia the army rankings can be applied anywhere.  The critical chart is where the armies are listed by their Podium Ratio.  Podium Ratio is a comparison of the percentage of times an army places in the top 3 of a tournament divided by the percentage of its appearances in tournaments.  A score of 1 would be statistically average.  Of the current codex’s only the Eldar achieved that score.  The highest scoring army was the Dark Eldar who achieved a podium finish 13 times out of 60 tournament appearances for a podium ratio of 2.49.  At the complete opposite were the Dark Angels who achieved a podium finish only once out of 77 tournament appearances for a podium ratio of 0.15.  Does that mean that a Dark Elder army is 16+ times more likely to place in the top 3 of a tournament than the Dark Angels?  Sadly, the statistics say yes. 
A “homebrew” codex should never ever be used to give a player of lesser skill an advantage because they can’t otherwise win.  If your codex has a podium ratio that puts it in the bottom tier of winning armies then you may have an excuse to make a “homebrew” codex.  If it’s not then you need to learn to play your chosen army better.  That statement may sound abrupt and rude but it’s also very true.
     But what if the current GW codex library doesn't fulfill a player’s individual thematic taste?  With the abundance of quality Black Library fiction it’s natural that players will attempt to build army lists based on what they’re read in the various novels.  Any fan of the Gaunts Ghosts series by Dan Abnett will feel the urge to build an Imperial Guard list that accurately represents the look and feel of the army they’ve read about.  The problem is that doing so forces a player to give up half of what’s good in the Imperial Guard codex, vehicles.  It’s a severe restriction in mobility and firepower that often times leaves an all infantry army lacking.  In addition leaving the vehicles on the shelf still leaves an Imperial Guard player with an army that still doesn’t represent the feel of the Tanith 1st. 
For the most part I say, “Tough breaks buddy.  That’s the army you chose to run so play what you built.  Your codex is brand new.”  On the other hand I do feel that a few minor revisions could modify the codex to allow an all infantry army to remain competitive and still recapture the look and feel of the fictional Gaunts Ghosts?  Allowing Veteran Squads to be taken in IG Infantry platoons will help.  That would give them access to the regiments signature camo cloaks and represent the more accurate shooting they are known for. 
     The same could be said for the Dark Angels Deathwing.  While it’s not a crippled list it does seem to fare poorly in comparison to other Space Marine codexes.  Many of the Dark Angels wargear upgrades are completely out of date, underpowered or overcosted when compared to the standard Space Marine codex.  Would it break the game to allow the Dark Angels to use the wargear rules and upgrade points costs from the Space Marine codex?  In light of their tournament results I’d say no.
From a pure fluff perspective all Space Marine chapters have a 1st company Deathwing.  Why should the Deathwing concept be limited it to just the Dark Angels?  Why not an Ultramarine Deathwing?  Aren’t they the ones who fought the Tyranids in the polar fortress during the Battle of Magragge?  They exist in all Space Marine Chapters so why not allow all Space Marine players the option of running a legal Deathwing?  GW set precedence when they established in the most recent codex that a Captain on a bike would allow Space Marine bikes to be taken as troops.  Wouldn’t it also be fair if a Captain in Terminator armor allowed Terminator squads to be taken as troops?
Shouldn’t a Chaos Marine who’s dedicated his life to one of the specific Chaos gods be able to summon Daemons under the influence of that particular Chaos god?  To many of the veteran Chaos Marine players the entire concept of a “generic” daemon is absurd.  Nothing is generic about chaos.  When a Chaos Marine player with an army of Noise Marines summons daemons it just seems far more appropriate to allow him to summon Daemonettes if he’s willing to pay the point cost.  
None of these examples are game breaking.  All use the established rules and points set out by GW.  They shift a few things around a bit between similar codex’s and the FOC but all of it is still found in a legal codex. 
     So now we’ve got our reason for writing a “homebrew” codex.  The last question is, could we do it and make a respectable result?  GW is full of professional game designers with years of experience, a budget, hordes of playtesters and background fiction to draw inspiration from.  A home hobbyist can’t compete on the same level as GW as an amateur athlete can’t compete with professional athletes in sports.  Of course the inability to compete with pro athletes doesn’t stop people from having fun playing a game with their friends at the park.  So why should it stop you and I from making a “homebrew” codex for no other reason than pure enjoyment of the 40K hobby. 
If the primary issue for you is the fact that you play an old and out of date codex that’s nearly as old as you are then Fluid 40K is a good start.  It’s been playtested and revised numerous times and it serves the purpose it was designed to do, update the older codexes to 5th edition rules.  We did all the work and playtesting.  It’s been updated regularly for the past year to deal with issues that come up and mistakes we’ve made.
     Unfortunately Fluid 40K was only designed to address the issue of out of date rules, wargear and rule consistency.  It never attempted to address over/under point costed units or wargear.  Neither did it make any changes to the force organization chart.  We didn’t believe that it was appropriate to address those issues.  The beauty of Fluid 40K was its simplicity and limited scope.  Like I said before, old and out of date does not mean weak and underpowered.  Dark Elder tournament results prove that older codex’s can still be competitive. 
     Homebrewing a codex for army theme is different.  It does break the rules even when held to a minimum by the simple and minor changes in the examples given previously.  All of those are perfectly good ideas that are either impossible or uncompetitive with the current codex selection. 
I firmly believe that anyone with an active imagination and an idea in mind can come up with a very good army theme and build a balanced “homebrew” codex out of it.  It is true that occasionally someone will fall into the trap of making an army with every possible advantage and no applicable weaknesses and label that monstrosity a “homebrew” codex.  Unfortunately too many players believe that example is what a “homebrew” is all about and refuse to accept an opponent who uses one.  Whatever their reason it is their choice not to accept it.  But I would like to encourage everyone for the fun of the game and friendly game play to be willing to accept an opponent with a “homebrew” codex now and then.  They can be fun to create and memorable to battle against.

First post just to post a post but not to post something worth a post

Welcome to the personal blog of Dan from the Dice Like Thunder Podcast.
When they said that you can create a blog in a few minuets they weren't kidding.  A few clicks here, a few clicks there, type a few items and blam.  It's done.  This sort of reminds me of when i started facebook.  My page looked like crap.  At least it was much better than myspace, that interface was crap.
In either case this is my blog.  I don't have any idea what I'm going to do with it yet.  Give me a bit of time to make a few articles on SOMETHING and I'll post it.