I’ve really enjoyed writing the lead mountain articles every week and I’d love to take it further, writing a bit more generally about games, films, TV and more. Its not going to be offering any great insight but it a nice play to write down some ideas about all the stuff I’ve been up to. The format will probably change but seeing as its the first Wednesday in January, let us begin the first Weekly Media Update! Anything in bold is an object of interest – scan through the post and see what you fancy hearing about.
Christmas means seeing family, eating good food, watching films and receiving a few presents. My big present was a Nvidia 970 graphics card to upgrade my gaming machine but I also received two blu-rays of my favourite films of this year. Man from Uncle is a stylish update of the TV series, pitting two awesome actors (Arnie Hammer and Henry Cavill) as the double act of spies from either side of the cold war forced to work together. Its dripping with the style of the times, from music to costumes and gear. Its also a Guy Ritchie joint with great cinematography that really helps to add to the style of the film. Well worth a watch.
I also got Antman. So this film went from something I had no interest in up to being one of my favourite films in the Marvel franchise. Its a slick heist film with a great cast (and a not half bad de-aged Michael Douglas) that just happens to take place in the Marvel Universe. Paul Rudd is great as the everyman Scott Lang (because he is one) while the pair of Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly as Hank Pym and Hope Van Dynne make the training section a joy to watch. Really looking forward to when Antman and Wasp joins in some other films.
In addition to films, I also got a few books. The Haynes Churchill manual is now sitting on my shelf and is packed full of detail for anyone who is a fan of WW2’s most interesting tank. Two books from Leigh Neville and Osprey now live on my shelf – the first was The British Army in Afghanistan 2004 – 2014 is a useful reference guide for British forces and Special Forces in the War on Terror (which I won from a Christmas competition) is a lovely hardback coffee table book filled with great detail on the Special Operations side of the recent (and current) conflicts. Lots of prompts for cool scenarios to play.
With me being in the North for a decent length of time, I found myself journeying to York to pit myself in martial combat against my erstwhile foe. Well, martial combat meaning the deployment of tiny metal figures and dice. I’ll be writing a big post on modern wargaming rules when Spectre release their new set but on this day, we had two rulesets to try.
First up was Osprey’s Black Ops. We came to these rules expecting a great game to reenact stealthy military ops and by gods does it deliver. I think the “low is good” system is a little odd and the author should be castigated for using half points in the army building system but the rest of the game is rock solid, super quick fun. Combat plays well but the stealth mission rules are the best. Random guard positions, sound counters that have to be managed by the infilitrator – it all makes for a fun time. We played three games.
- Standard battle – insurgents vs 6 SF guys. We messed up the points (I should have had a few more insurgents) but great battle was had. Just a shame my commander got nabbed as he crossed open ground causing my force to flee.
- Sneaky battle – SF guys vs the man himself Solid Snake. Snake managed to grab the intel and brutal murder a few guards but got shot in the back while attempting to exfil
- Massive Sneaky Battle – Milita and FSB defending against a group of SAS teams. Some tense moments as the SAS got into the compound but were spotted when the FSB agents saw them sneaking around. A mess of a fire fight later and we ran out of time, although the milita did manage to bundle the hostages into the back of a SUV. Maybe a rematch is in order…
Next was OSC from Evil Bear Wargames. I’ve met the writer behind the game and the way he described it really got me interested. Finally getting to play it and I was really excited in the end result. I did find the sheer number of actions you can do a little overwhelming in the first game, but the focus on objectives, the simple 1 stat system and the setup for playing weapons off against armour makes me excited to play again. I’m also a fan of how the turns playout, with the outnumbering player being limited in how many figures he can move each turn by the number of bad guys. Highlights included a Hardsuit swatting an RPG out the air with its countermeasures (just before fleeing from a few sniper hits), a SF soldier managing to grab an objective under four turns of full auto fire and my commander taking full advantage of his extra action.
Overall, I really enjoyed both games. They bring cool stuff to the table – Black Ops for super sneaky infiltration times while OSC feels like re-enacting an airsoft game, all fast paced and full of cool moves and heroics. I’ll be playing a lot more of both games, as well as more Skirmish Sangin and Spectre, this year.
Then we played sleepy D&D and a fun time was had by all.
New Year Quizzings
New Year saw me journeying back up to Middlesbrough to see a few friends/former housemates from my university days. We played a lot of different games while drinking in the New Year but a few really stood out. Helldivers is my current lunch-break game but playing it with friends really was something special. Best described as Magicka meets Starship Troopers, you and three friends drop in to fight aliens, cyborgs and bugs while utilising a variety of guns and gear to kill the bad guys and, more often then not, your own team. Friendly fire is in full force leading to unheroic deaths as cargo pods crush you, stray bullets clip a wounded soldier and someone drops a grenade at their feet. We were all fans of the big stompy robot suits and their various overpowered but limited ammo weapons. I also got round to trying out Jackbox. I’d seen them being played on Giant Bomb’s various live streamed things but never got round to it. The games themselves are pretty fun but I’m a little more excited about the control method. The game uses your smartphone’s browser to control, which is a handy way of getting more players in without requiring controllers and such. Its something I want to look at developing for, perhaps letting other players get add traps to a game in progress without needing the app.
The following day, after revitalising shwarma and more Helldivers, we sat down to play Tokiado. I like the idea of modern board games but don’t get a chance to really play them very often. However, I loved playing Tokiado. Each player is traveller along the road between Kyoto and Edo, looking to have the best journey. To do this, they must perform different activities to claim points with each activity providing a different bonus. It might be stopping to paint a picture of mountains, dropping in to the local hot springs or buying some tourist tat from the gift shop. What makes it great is that you are also trying to be a little bit of a dick to your fellow travellers, blocking off the only space on certain spots or trying frantically to finish a painting first and get the bonus or getting the next inn on the trail and taking the good food. There is a lot to do in this game (especially if you play with the expansions) and the sheer number make for an exciting yet also peaceful game. Everyone will make it to the final stop – its more about the journey than the destination.
This was the sort of New Years I like – a few drinks, a few really good friends and something to while away the hours.
After a hellish drive back to Brighton (in torrential rain), I got in and unpacked everything… after getting my new graphics card in my machine. Its great to suddenly see all the settings switch to Ultra and resolutions go up to rendering at 3x my desktop resolution. However, I was more excited about the game I got free with my card. This year’s games were Rainbow Six Seige and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. With my main co-op buddy out of action for a little bit, I decided to go back to Assassin’s Creed and see how good merry old London looks. So far, I’m really enjoying it! My last AC that I really dug into was Revelations and (apart from a brief play of Black Flag) since then I haven’t touched them. The better controls are good, the combat is pretty brutal but the main draw is a vastly improved bit of writing and a gorgeous city. Being able to free run through a city that is in some way suggestive of London is great fun. I’ll report more next week once I get further in.
This year’s steam sale was pretty light with only a few extra things to play. The biggest help came from Humble Monthly, adding A Fistful of Gun, The Masterplan, Mushroom 11 and the Talo Principle to my to-play list. I also picked up the Witcher 3 and season pass. Seeing as it kept appearing on GOTY lists, I look forward to playing it later this year after the last DLC pack is released. Hopefully I’ll have finished XCOM 2 before then…
Whew, that was a lot. Next week should be shorter due to it not being the first one/Christmas holidays but see you next Wednesday