Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Year, New Games

I received several new games for Christmas, including Space Empires 4X which I've played 3 times previously and really like and Andean Abyss which I've never played but the topic interests me and I've heard good things about it. The game that's made the best impression on me so far though is Field Commander Napoleon. I've never been much of a solo gamer but I really liked the first game I played (and lost).

In other news I never did finish my Vikings in time for Heagercon. I think that this year I didn't really like feeling under the gun with painting while last year I thrived that way. Ian looking forward to painting them at my own pace over the winter, though first I need to clean up the mess from Heagercon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dark Age Figures

Here's a picture of some "Dark Age" figures I've been painting. The Vikings in the foreground are from Wargames Factory's "Hammer of the Gods" plastic range, and the ones in the back are a mix of Old Glory metal Irish warriors and what they call "Revolting Peasants." I don't think the peasants are from the Dark Age period (they look more like something you'd see in a Robin Hood movie or game) but a couple of them are carrying pigs so that's cool.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


17761776 by David McCullough
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Listened to the audiobook. Outstanding.

View all my reviews

Friday, February 10, 2012

Modern Warfare 3 vs Battlefield 3

2011 saw the release of two big-time modern military shooters, Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3. The Call of Duty series has owned (and continues to own) this area of video gaming for the past few years, and this was the first time in that reign that they've been directly challenged. While there have been other Battlefield games released that were similar to Call of Duty (the Bad Company games), Battlefield 3 is an unabashed challenge to Modern Warfare's dominance.

I got both games on the days they were released. Modern Warfare was an impulse buy; I was watching Monday Night Football and the commercial for Modern Warfare 3 came on. I had been planning on waiting until after Christmas to get the game, but since we have a 24-hour Wal-Mart 5 minutes from the house, I went and bought the game at midnight. I had pre-ordered Battlefield 3 a few months ago and already had that game. So, it goes without saying I guess that I was anticipating Battlefield a lot more than Modern Warfare. Mainly because Battlefield, hitherto known mainly for its online multiplayer action, was going to include a full-fledged single player campaign. The Bad Company games had featured single player gameplay as well, but those were tongue-in-cheek, while the new game's single player promised to be much more serious.

Ultimately this has proven to be a big disappointment. What I was hoping for was a modern combat game that incorporated the Battlefield games' use of vehicles and big battles into a structured narrative set in a believable real-world setting. It didn't bode well that the very first thing you do in Battlefield 3 is jump down into a subway tunnel in New York and ride on top of one of the trains. Basically, Battlefield 3 copies the Modern Warfare series' style of gameplay, albeit without the endless re-spawning enemies of Call of Duty. It's not that the single player is bad, but it's so much like Call of Duty, I don't know why I would bother to play it. In fact, I haven't. I played through to the fourth or fifth mission and haven't gone back to it since.

Which is more than I can say for Modern Warfare 3's single player. I played the first mission through to the second checkpoint and stopped. Not because I was disappointed, but I knew what to expect from that game and that's exactly what I got. I played it long enough to get a feel for the controls and then went over to the multiplayer.

Mutliplayer is where both of these games really shine. And, I have to say that even though I titled this post Modern Warfare 3 vs Battlefield 3, I don't think it's fair to compare the two. They're vastly different games. Both games feature deep progression, awarding continued play with new weapons, equipment, uniforms, and titles through the attainment of personal experience points. Neither one does much that is new, but there are some improvements and both games' multiplayer modes are fantastic.

Modern Warfare 3 is similar to the previous games in the series, but one new addition is worth buying the new game for. A new team deathmatch mode (team deathmatch is where all of the players are divided into two teams and each "kill" you get scores points for your team) called Kill Confirmed has you earning personal experience points for each kill you score but your team only scores if you pick up the dog tags of the opponent, which appear after he dies. Also, another player on the opposing team can grab the tags first, thus denying the kill to your team. I love this mode as it adds a new tactical dimension to the gunplay, as you have to consider when to grab tags as you someone may be waiting to ambush whoever comes out in the open.

Battlefield 3 is vastly different from Modern Warfare in that the maps are much bigger and include the use of vehicles. Also, Battlefield is a class-based game, and awards experience points for doing things other than killing the enemy, such as healing your comrades and taking out enemy vehicles. Battlefield is a more cooperative game, as you really need to work with your squad mates to be successful. It also features a new game mode, called Rush, wherein one team is the attacker and needs to take a progressing series of objective points from the other team, who have to defend them.

In the end I'm enjoying both games, and I think while on the surface they look very similar, the multiplayer modes are different enough to warrant owning both if you enjoy online first-person shooters.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Song of Ice and Fire

I started reading the Game of Thrones series back in the Fall of 2011. I had tried to start the series several times since I first had heard of it back in the mid-nineties, but always stopped a few pages into Game of Thrones, the first book. Admitedly, when I first came across the books it was on some Internet message board, and they were generally portrayed as being equal if not superior to Lord of the Rings. So I guess I had high expectations when I started reading, and to me the prose was nowhere near as good as Tolkien's.

Well, fast forward to last year, and Game of Thrones was just so much in the zeitgeist I decided to try again, for real this time. As in I actually bought the book from Costco instead of just reading a copy in the book store. This time I actually read the first chapter, and once I got to the part with the direwolves, in particular the part with Jon Snow, I thought to myself, this is really good.

It's not Lord of the Rings, and what I mean by that is that it isn't as good as Lord of the Rings, but that's ok. It's the first book in a long time that I've had trouble putting down. Which is good, since George R.R. Martin seems to make each book in the series longer than the last.

Friday, January 6, 2012


Went up to the game store last night and used my gift card to buy a box of Wargames Factory plastic Vikings. My wife gave me the SAGA rules for Christmas (along with the gift card) which looks pretty good to me since it doesn't require a lot of miniatures. Painting these will be a nice change of pace from the English Civil War stuff I did last year.