Thursday, December 29, 2016

Summoners Journal #2 - The Penguin Knight Event

I can not describe my feelings properly on the Penguin Knight event. "I love it", "I hate it", "It was enjoyable". These emotions doesn't quite fit my feelings on it. "Boring" is a lot closer but still not quite there. I think the best way to show my feelings on the event is to explain how the event works. And before I can get into that I need to explain a few more details about Summoners War mechanics.

I mention in episode 1 that monsters come in grades from 1-star to 5-star and all monsters can be evolved into 6-star monsters. What I didn't go into was how much effort it takes to evolve monsters above 3-star. Evolving a monster has two requirements. First the monster needs to be at max level. A monsters max level will depend on its grade. 1-star monsters max level is 15, 2-star monsters is 20 while 6-star monsters is 40. In essence each grade above 1-star adds 5 to its maximum level. Not only do higher grade monsters have a higher level cap, they also have a different experience table. 1-star monsters require 460 xp to go from level 1 to 2 while 6-star monsters require 1150 xp to do the same. Needless to say the higher a monster's grade, the harder it is to level them up to the cap. The other requirement to evolve monsters is that you need other monsters to sacrifice. The monsters being sacrifice needs to be the same grade as the monster you are trying to evolve (though their level doesn't matter). You also need a number of monsters equal to their star grade. That means to evolve a 3-star monster, first it needs to be at level 25 and you need three other monsters that are also 3-star. To evolve a 5-star monster you need five other 5-star monsters! This is a daunting task. The game does help with this pain staking process by giving out Rainbowmons as possible rewards. Rainbowmons are monsters that can never be used in combat but come at max level for its grade so you can immediately evolve it. That makes them extremely valuable.

With that understanding of how evolving and Rainbowmons work, this is what the event is. Every time you evolve a non Rainbowmon monster into a 4-star, 5-star or 6-star monster, you get a free Rainbowmon. There is a limit on how many Rainbowmons you can earn and of course the event is only a limited duration. So to take advantage of this event you need to evolve as many monsters as possible during this 2 week long event. That means leveling up a large number of monsters as quickly as possible. For me that meant playing the game in a mechanical way to manufacture monsters. The story missions is the best way to level up monsters if you have a single monster strong enough to solo it on the hardest difficulty (all monsters fighting on the team earn the same amount of xp). I probably played a set of maps at least 500 times during one week of this event. Spending most my time playing the same map over and over again is so boring but at the same time the reward is so good that I can not NOT play it.

It was kinda hard to make an equivalent example to miniature gaming. But I think I came up with something with a similar vibe. Imagine if someone near you was running an escalation league that used house rules you were not a fan of and require over half your army be newly assembled (and you have to prove it). However the host is giving out really good door prizes. In addition to door prizes every week you show up with two new units that you put together and painted that week, you get a free box set of your choice. I think most hobbyist (if you can afford the initial investment) would endure playing with bad house rules multiple weeks if it nets you 10 free boxes of miniatures.

And that's basically how I feel about the event. I can't say its a bad event because its giving away really valuable rewards. but at the same time its making me play in a way that makes me hate the game. I played the game a lot less these last 2 weeks following the event. I needed some time off. That said, I have made sizeable improvements because of the event. My account level which was 43 before the event is now max at 50. After playing for over 5 months I never had 6-star monsters until this event. I was close to getting my first 6-star before the event but I needed a small boost from early in the event to finally evolve my water knight into a 6-star. She gain a cool aura and was my strong point for leveling everyone else up.

By the end of the event she reach max level 40 from leveling other monsters. It took nearly the rest of the event to get enough monsters to evolve my second 6-star monster, my dark fairy. I almost considered myself done with this achievement, but the event still have a couple hours left and there were a few more Rainbowmon that I could still earn. So I continued grinding nonstop those last few hours until I got every last reward from the event and I evolve two of my mid tier monsters from 4-star to 5-star.

One of the last rewards I earn from the event is a Light & Dark Scroll. This scrolls is fairly rare and quite valuable. I will go into why this is the case in another episode. Scrolls summon a random monster and up to this point I haven't used the scroll I earn from the event. So I will end this piece by using said scroll now as I'm typing this, write down what monster I got and sign off. Ready ... and I got a Light Bearman. Well I will talk more about this next time. Until then, have fun and thanks for reading.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Thoughts on Battlefront's Christmas Video

Battlefront release a Christmas video on their front page this week. It was a nice brief video where they wish their fans Merry Christmas, reflecting on the past and giving a preview of the upcoming year. It is their plans for next year that I mostly want to talk about. Though I do want to touch upon the Pacific release which was one of the first things mention in the video. I discuss in our podcast how excited I was about the Pacific release leading up to it. Sadly it came out around the time I was getting out of Flames of War. But now I'm getting back into it, I still don't have a interest in it. My excitment for the Pacific comes from me being highly interested in the Pacific naval battles such as Midway. I was hoping Flames of War would expand into naval combat but instead we got more ground combat. And since Battlefront has shot down adapting Team Yankee's aircraft friendly rules to use in mid war because they don't want air power to have a strong presence, my disappointment is complete. I guess Battlefront doesn't want me buy 12 Japanese Zeros. On second thought I don't want me buying 12 Zeroes either. Maybe this is a good thing.

In any case lets move into the new stuff. On the Team Yankee front the big news for me is the book Red Thunder and Stripes. This book expands on the Americans and Soviets, giving both sides new lists and toys to use. In my opinion this was sorely needed. When Team Yankee came out this time last year I thought the US and Soviet lists were a good first start but they both needed more options. I was hoping for new lists and toys within six months of its release. The Soviets did get a new list in that time though I felt the US needed it more. I understand why Soviets got a new list considering the next two nations for Team Yankee were both NATO. I really felt the lack of options in US when the West Germans came out. I know nothing about the British release so I can't say how it compares to the US and West Germans. I knew we were getting new stuff for Soviets. When I came back into the hobby I immediately notice new releases for Soviets in the store which meant a new list had to be on its way. Getting confirmation that the US was also getting new stuff was a relief.

Something I notice near the end of the Team Yankee section was that there going to be new choices for the Warsaw Pact and American forces. Now I'm sure he just misspoke and meant Soviets instead of Warsaw or he uses Soviets and Warsaw interchangeably. But giving that the East Germans will be out next month, upping the number of Warsaw nations in the game up to two, he could have meant that there is a Warsaw list that combines Soviets and East Germans in the new book. Battlefront has made mix nation list before. There are a few mid war lists that combines Germany with the Italians. On second thought, unless the Red Thunder book comes out closer to the end of the Summer, it would be a little too soon to release a mix nation list right after one of those nations got its own release. So I will chalk this up to being a mistake.

The last Team Yankee bit of news was that at the end of year Battlefront wants to release Team Yankee: Vietnam. It will be a stand alone game with all the list in the book. Besides updating the game with TY rule set, it seems they will be adding new stuff to it that wasn't in Flames of War: Vietnam. What I want to know is despite it being its own stand alone game, is it possible to play a game with a nation from Team Yankee:Vietnam against a Team Yankee nation. I know it probably wouldn't be a fair fight due to the difference in technology but if both games are compatible with each other then players would have more options to play with.

The conversation then moved to mid war and Flames of War 4th edition. I stuck my toe in mid war and I enjoyed the experience. Getting plastic Italians is a pleasure to hear. It is also nice personally that if Tracy ever comes back to wanting to play mid war, our forces will be the second release (Americans and Italians) which means it should be out in a more opportune time for us. The fact that mid war is getting is own book is new to me. But then again that would make sense since they are trying to kept Early and Late War as close to third edition as possible while Mid War will look a lot more like Team Yankee. The biggest piece of news for me was that I can get a physical 4th Early/Late War book by exchange my own 3rd edition mini book. This makes me extremely happy because I much prefer physical books and that my mini book started to fall apart as soon as I got it home. The last bit of Flames of War news was they are planning to do organize play. I'm really interested in seeing how that plays out. Great things to look forward to.

These were the highlights for me. I think I pick a good time to hop back into the hobby. Thanks for reading and have a Happy Holiday and Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Update

It is a little embarrassing to think I was about to start this article with almost the exact same language I used before during this time of year. So instead I will be more direct. I've come to the realization that I need to be a lot more active here and I plan on doing just that in the new year. In many ways the beginning of new year with be a new start for me. In one major way this will be the case is that I will be moving in January. This will affect the blog in two ways. First, even though I plan on being more active next year, a lot of those plans have to wait until after I move. My models are being boxed up and I don't want to order new stuff until I'm at my new address. Second, I'm going to make sure in my new home I will have a place dedicated to working on models and recording video. In the long run this should be good news for the blog. Many of my current projects will be also getting a fresh start in one way or another in the new year. Here is a summary of those projects as well as my status with other games I've mention recently.

Team Yankee/Flames of War - I lost my motivation to keep up with Team Yankee when I had no one to play with. Along with the feeling that my Americans were cursed, I didn't see a purpose to follow a game I had no way of playing. Tracy drop everything gaming related to work on a personal project. He also sold or attempt to sell all his terrain that we used to play with. But he still has his Soviets and mentions how much he miss playing. And I have to admit I do too. Especially since the game has move so far since I've been active. I quit when West Germans were coming out and now we have Britain, East Germans on the horizon and new toys for Soviets. As if this wasn't enough to get me excite, Battlefront announce 4th edition of Flames of War. I always enjoy Flames of War and partially the reason I gave it up was because of Tracy's dislike of how complex the rules were. With 4th edition, it seems Flames of War is getting the stream line treatment Tracy always talked about. With all this excitement, I've decided that in the new year I will work on both Team Yankee and Flames of War stuff so if and when Tracy is able to play again I will have my own painted force to use. Also on a side note I'm planning on doing some traveling by train. If this experience isn't a complete nightmare it will open the door for me to travel around the country to attend wargaming events. As Team Yankee and Flames of War are the games I'm most interested in going to events for, I need to put in the effort to have forces ready if the opportunity presents itself.

I'm taking a fresh start with my Team Yankee force. It seems something always goes wrong when I work on my Americans. So I'm going to start a West German and a Soviet force. I'm going with West German because they seem similar but better than American in most ways. I know Americans have their advantages but I think West German just fit me better. I'm also going to work on a Soviet force because I thought up a silly idea for a list I want to play with. When I realize I could make a list with 20 T-72s and still have almost a fifth of the points available to purchase other things, I wanted to see this in action. I have no idea how I want to spend those points yet but since it will be a while before I will have my 20 tanks, it is a problem I can save for later. I do have another reason for starting my Soviet list. When Tracy becomes available to play again, there are a lot of scenarios I think would be fun to play. The thing is, many of these scenarios require way more T-72s than what Tracy owns. If and when we start making videos and battle reports again, I really want to try to limit the amount of proxying that is require. I don't have the means to grab these armies quickly. What I can say is that when I purchase something new, I will assemble and it paint it as quickly as I can. My first Team Yankee purchases of the year will be 1 Leopard 2 tank and 2 T-72 tanks. The irony here is that I won't be able to finish these tanks until I buy more stuff because I will lack decals since I'm buying just the sprues. At the very least I can get them to the point where I'm done painting them.

On the Flames of War front I'm also going to start fresh with new models. I have a handful of Flames of War stuff that is currently unfinished but I've decided to sideline them for now. The first thing I needed to decided on to restart my Flames of War force was which list to focus on. While it is in my nature to randomly pick up units, Flames of War lists are so varied that I could buy 10 different late war units and there could be a list that has none of those units as options. The Bridge at Remagen book has lists that I enjoyed playing with but instead I went with my last Flames of War purchase, Berlin. There is a lot I can say about the Berlin list but I will saved it for another time. For now I will say my Berlin list is going to start with the Kleinpanzer Wanze. Ever since I first saw a picture of it I wanted the model of this vehicle. With its six Panzerschreck rocket launcher tubes, I so want to see the Wanze in action on the game table. My only regrets about them is that 1. they are only in the Berlin book (to my knowledge) and 2. I can only ever take one unit of them. Once I finish painting an unit of Wanze, I will consider where to go next.

Battletech - My Battletech status is more than a little embarrassing. My friend and myself came up with a scenario to play. We picked sides and crafted special rules to fit our scenario. The only thing we need to do was to fill out our roster. I never finish making my roster and we both stop talking about Battletech. Since then I have forgotten a lot of what we develop for the campaign and my friend has pick up a new Battletech book that covers some of the stuff our campaign is about. Last time I check we both were still interested in playing. We need to get together to review the rules and discuss if we want to change anything with rules from the new book. In the meantime I will post a summary of the scenario we are planning on playing. After we rehammer out the rules, I will post those rules on its own page. I wasn't going to give Battletech its own page but the campaign we design turned out quite a bit more complex than I thought it was going to be. We won't be able to start playing until after I move. I also want to pick up a couple of mechs based on my roster before we start as well. I'm looking at March to be about the soonest we can start our own personal war.

Relic Knights - Relic Knights continues to be the game I'm most excited about that I've never played. The two games of Hordes I played this year reminded me of Relic Knights in many ways. After playing a few more Hordes games I will do an article comparing the two systems. My plans is to do two Relic Knights videos, one in March and the second in May. At this point all my Relic Knights models will be fully painted and I will be looking for games to play. If I do get to play a few games then I will do a third video around July talking about my experience playing the game. That is as far as I can plan out because I still don't know if I will like the game. Everything I've read about Relic Knights tells me it should be something I will really enjoy but sometimes games have deal breaking quirks that you only learn about playing the game yourself. If I do end up not liking the game, I am playing two other games that uses similar bases in which I could use the models for instead.

Frostgrave/Civil War - Both of these went nowhere this summer. I never saw the Civil War group for the rest of the summer. Afterward the summer I stop going to my local store so I had no opportunity to see either of these groups anymore. At this point I have no interest in trying Civil War because I already have so many other things I'm working on at the moment. I would still try Frostgrave as I could use models I already own for that. Still I would put it as a very low priority and its highly unlikely for me to play it before this summer.

Warhammer - I am drawing a blank on where to go with regards to Warhammer. I'm torn between 8th which both my friend and myself enjoys more, and Age of Sigmar which is what I expect to play if I travel around the country. My Holy Moon plans are on hold until I finish a lot of models and terrain. It also doesn't help that there is a lot of armies I want to build. I want an 8th edition Bretonnian army, a goblin army that can be played in either 8th or Age of Sigmar or a "poison" army that also can either be played in 8th or AoS. Until I can decide what to focus on first I think I should probably just work on terrain since I don't have any of my own. My local gaming store has plenty of terrain to use but it would be nice to have my own colorful terrain plus it is something I will need for my Holy Moon project.

Hordes - My second Hordes games didn't go well. We started playing way too late so not only were we rushing, we didn't get to finish. This lead to an unenjoyable experience. That said, I got two things out of the game. One, I learn the game is really picky on facing. This is something I may have an issue with. I need to play more games to know if its something I can deal with or that facing will be such an annoyance for me that its a deal breaker. The other thing I learn is that I can't play with proxies, at least not in the way I was thinking of doing. I had hope I could used my friends Trollblood models to proxy in for my Circle Orboros force. The problem is that it was so confusing trying to keep everything straight (I never had this problem before except playing with the Berlin list in Flames of War). Added to the fact that I was still learning the game and learning what my own force could do made everything a mess.

My friend has picked up a second army which will making learning the game much easier for me. I won't be able to get a feel for my own Circle Orboros force but learning how the game works with a different army will still be helpful. When my friend brought the second army, it included two Circle models which he didn't want so he gave them to me. My initial modelling plans caught a snag. My cockatrice is much too big to be used with Hordes (at least for what I was planning to used it on). Turns out that the Tyranid Hormagaunts are the perfect size to kitbash to make Circle warbeasts. They may be a little small but they should work ... if I could find my remaining sprues! This was a mystery that drove me crazy. I check all my bit boxes and the remaining Tyranid sprues were nowhere to be seen. The box allows you to make 12 Tyranids and I only used 2 bodies for my Forsaken conversions. I suppose I can check again after I move and will have all my hobby stuff in one location. In the event that they never show up, I will have to go back to the drawing board for conversion ideas. I will be buying one thing for Hordes with Christmas money. What, I'm not sure yet. I need to look over the faction deck again to decide what will go with the two monsters my friend gifted me. I might wait until I've played a third game of Hordes before deciding what to get.

Mobile Games - To start I no longer play DC Legends (that was quick). Days after my mobile games post DC had an update that made the game functionally unplayable for me. The required a new client to be download and installed. The new client is such a resource hog that I would had to deleted everything else on my device to update it. While I'm reasonably sure I wouldn't have lost my progress, I enjoy Summoners War way too much to risk it for DC. I also have a Warhammer: Age of Sigmar app on my tablet. When I downloaded the app it didn't include the any war scrolls unless I click on an individual profile. Not something I want to deleted and reinstall every time DC Legends wants to update, which could be as often as once a week. I enjoyed DC Legends but its not a game good enough to endure that kind of headache. I have since started playing a new mobile game though I don't want to say which until I'm sure I'm staying with it. On one side I'm not sure how I could tie it into my blog here, while on the other it does reminds me of Blood Bowl.

Summoners War is something I am still playing (maybe a little too much). I have already posted the first episode of my Summoners War series and I am currently working on future episodes. As I am working on the direction I want to take the series, I am beginning to think maybe not every episode will be link to miniature gaming. I will try my best to link my SW stories to miniature gaming but the narrative may go in a direction where is little or no parallel. In this case I think it would be best for me to not to force an unnatural comparison. My thoughts on Summoners Journal is constantly evolving. The one thing I'm certain about it is that it will be a staple here for a while, especially during my moving.

Shieldmaiden Knights - Shieldmaiden Knights is a project I am still working on. Making them into a Warhammer army is attempting if it wasn't for the fact Games Workshop has so few female models. So for now it will be a side project for when I see interesting female minis. The last time I was in a gaming store, another Reaper's Bone miniature caught my eye. It was a female giant (I don't know if its suppose to be a cloud or storm giant). It look really cool in the package and since its a Bone miniature it's cheap. The next time I am in the store I will be picking up two. I still haven't came up with a history for the Shieldmaidens yet. I will start working on it once the Knights first 3 minis are fully painted.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Warhammer and Charity

The Warhammer Youtubers had a special "Topic of the Week" this week. Vince and Tom have set up a page where people can donate to UNICEF. UNICEF is a charity that helps poor children around the world. I first heard about UNICEF from a TV show host whom has a partnership with them to build desks in schools too poor to have their own. For the past 4 or 5 years I always hear about them during the Christmas season, so UNICEF is something I would support. I am not in a position to be able to give myself so I figure the next best thing is to promote a charity I believe in. And if the thought of giving isn't enough of an incentive to donate, Vince and Tom have sweeten the deal by offering a raffle. From what I understand anyone who donates any amount will be put into a raffle for Games Workshop products they are giving away. To hear more about it from Vince himself, you can watch the video here:

If you want to go directly to their donation page, it is here:

If you are willing and able, please donate. If you are unable to donate then please share this story. Lastly, if you do donate or if this story moves you then please leave a comment below. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Summoners Journal #1 - My Playstyle

I figure for my first episode of my series combining Summoners War with miniature gaming, I should start by explaining more of how the game works and then go into my own personal play style which is remarkably similar to how I collect miniatures. The monsters come in 5 types: Wind, Water, Fire, Light and Dark. Monsters have versions of them in most if not all of these categories. And while visibly they will look the same, some monster varies greatly depending on its type. For example I have a Water and Dark Fairy. Their base stats are similar (not identical) and their first ability is mostly the same. However their other abilities are completely different. The Water Fairy has a heal and a damaging sleep attack while the Dark Fairy has an arrow attack that could stun and a damaging curse attack that lowers the victim's critical hit rate. A monster's overall power is measurable by its grade. The grades go from 1-star to 6-stars. Higher the grade, more powerful the monster. Monsters have a base or starting grade between 1 to 5 but all of them can be evolved into 6-stars. The game has a turn based combat system. When its a monsters turn to act, they have to used one of their abilities. The first ability can always be used but if the monster has more than one ability then those addition skills will go on a cool down after being used. There is still a lot more to understand about Summoners War but I will leave that for future episodes. For now that should be enough of a primer to get a general idea about play styles.

I've seen some videos done by content creators about what is the most efficient way to play Summoners War. From my own experience I think they are correct. They suggest starting with a goal. There are several dungeons in the game that each require wildly different strategies to complete. Pick one of these that dungeons you want to reach the end first and then build a team to accomplish that. You will probably need to look up what type of abilities you will need such as a healer or a monster with a multi hit basic attack. When you come across a new monster with one of these abilities that you are currently missing, you will either add it to your team or replace a current member of your team if the new monster can perform that role better. For the most part this team of monsters is the only ones you will be using until you can quickly clear the final stage of your goal dungeon. Even if you decide to branch out to play the other dungeons or the story mode areas, you should still only use these monsters. The reason this style is the most efficient way to play is because it takes a lot of effort to strengthen your monsters. By focusing on a small number of monsters at once you can reach their full potential as fast as possible. Clearing out the final stage in the special dungeons (they are called Cairos Dungeons) gives you the most resources you can earn from one place. Once you are able to clear the final stage quickly, you will have the resources needed to transition into anything else you want to do in the game.

Needless to say, this is not how I play the game. Instead I pick monsters that I like the look of, have interesting abilities and/or will fill a void in my lineup. I don't have a set team or even teams. I have a cast of over 20+ monsters that I consider to be my active force. When I attempt to do a mission I choose who from my active force I want to use. In theory since I can tailor what I'm using to take advantage of enemies weaknesses I am able to win fights with weaker monsters. In actuality many in my active force needs a lot of work and there still quite a few holes in my ability to exploit weaknesses. Playing this way is so inefficient because investing in so many monsters at once is very time consuming. Still I enjoy playing the game this way as it allows me to use a wide variety of monsters. My progress is really slow given how much I have played the game but I think this style matches who I am.

Which would makes since, as I have mention, this is similar to how I collect miniatures. I started playing Warriors of Chaos because I love the look of their core troops. After getting enough chaos warriors to fulfill my core requirements I started buying models base on if I like the looks of them or they had rules I wanted to play with. I also never had a standard list. Nearly every time I played Warhammer I wrote up a new list. It was quite rarely for me to ever reuse a list. I quite enjoy making army composition question every game. Did I want to used 2 units of chaos knights in this game or just 1 unit of knights and a chimera? The same is true of my Team Yankee force. I was just buying units and made a new list every time I played. And this will be true Hordes and probably anything else I play. The one exception to this is my idea for a Soviet Team Yankee force. Being more in line with the efficient style of Summoners War, for my Soviet force I will only have a single list and only purchase models that I need for that list. This is how my podcast partner Tracy built his Soviet force. After a few initial games to get an understanding of the rules and how the Soviets work, he made a single list and only brought units that was in that list. Outside of the campaign which had special rules and limitations, that list was the only one he played with. Later in the year he made some adjustments to the list and quickly pick up what he needed for those changes. For me I currently only have an interest in the Soviets because I thought up something a little silly to do with a list. Hint: lots of T-72s are involved! But again the Soviets are the exception. With every other miniature force I much prefer to collect as many different options as possible.

Now that I think about it, this is also how I play many of games as well. I wonder how I develop this habit. I do see some similarities with some classic 80s cartoons I grew up watching like GI Joe, Transformers and M.A.S.K. These types of cartoons have large casts of heroes that do not appear in every episode. Especially with M.A.S.K. as an average episode starts with a problem, following up by selecting which heroes to call in to deal with the problem. In any case, that is about it on discussing my play style. Next time I will talk about the "fun" of the current event. Thanks for reading.