Category: Games & Game Design

Wargame Playtest AAR – Foreign Stars

The Forces

A-Force:

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M1AX Isaac Main Battle Tank
– Medium Vehicle, Heavy Cannon, Machine Gun, Grenade Launcher

2x VIRTU Rifle Section (8 Troopers)
– Assault Rifles

2x AT2 Anti-Tank Team
– Medium Missile Launchers

B-Force:

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VIRTU A9 Frame
– Large Melee Weapon, Small Laser Cannon

VIRTU A7 Frame
– Large Melee Weapon, Heavy MMG

2x VIRTU Rifle Section (8 Troopers)
– Assault Rifles

2x AT2 Anti-Tank Team
– Medium Missile Launchers

2x MG92 Machine Gun Team
– MMGs

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Full Thrust Project Continuum Battle Report – Scouting Mission at Itomori Star Zone

Fleet Lists

EFS Taskforce Itomori:

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Artemis-class Cruiser EFS Adamant

Tsukuyomi-class Cruisers EFS Repulse, Revenge and Resolute

Nephthys-class Destroyers EFS Jupiter and Juno

Chandra-class Frigates EFS Crisis, Critic and Castle

AISN Forward Group 3185:

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Meridiel-class Cruisers AISN Fiora Froleya and Caldis Varden

Chiithan-class Destroyer AISN Dethan

Irivel-class Frigates AISN Mabaris, Cavaris, Theliris and Levitris

The Scenario

March 2146, three months into the Astoran invasion of human space. While the Itomori system is a relatively lightly populated one and would seem to be a reasonable buffer between the advancing Astorans and vital EFS infrastructure, its numerous gas giants are strategically significant mining operations. A reinforced cruiser group, led by Commodore Tachibana, had been sent by the Earth Fleet to defend Itomori – and had been waiting several days to see action.

Tachibana’s fleet encountered what was presumed to be an Astoran patrol on the 23rd March; a small flotilla of Irivel frigates was detected by long-range sensors on the cruiser Adamant, and the decision was made to advance into the magnetic clouds on the system’s edge to investigate. There, Tachibana encountered – apparently with the element of surprise – a small Astoran task force. Battle was joined…

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If You Think Initial D’s CGI is too High Quality, You Might Like F-Zero Falcon Densetsu

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In the grand scheme of things, F-Zero Falcon Densetsu is everything that can be conceptually wrong with an action anime – it is a needless dump of lore in adapting a game that really doesn’t need any (a racing game), it is a sports-action series that shamelessly finds excuses to make the action revolve around sports, and it is often quite ugly because of the sheer amount of flat-textured and obtrusive CGI that it relies on for action scenes. It is wholly forgettable and probably mostly forgotten (save for the existence of a Gameboy Advance game that uses its story), and yet I find myself wanting to recommend it.

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Nier Automata.

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There is a lot to say about Nier Automata; it is a game which attempts to cover numerous massive themes, and is generally successful at it. I almost feel that in entering it expecting something in-depth, however, my initial experience was diminished by a subconscious hunt for things which were wrong, things which would give some clue to what I was going to experience. In doing this I think I missed a lot of the less subtle things in it, or did not give them due significance. There are subtle clues and wrongnesses throughout a first playthrough of the game, but they pale in comparison to the massive, unsubtle ones.

Note: This article discusses the mechanics and sidequests of Nier Automata.

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Danganronpa V3’s Ending

I think three things motivate the player to continue playing the Danganronpa games; firstly the desire to “win”, and see the villains defeated and the survivors escape. Secondly, the morbid curiosity of detective fiction, the desire to see who dies and how those mysteries occur. And thirdly, the – in this case – equally morbid desire to see justice done for those murders. Ordinarily the pursuit of justice in detective fiction is not, per se, a perverse act to desire; the police intercede, or the detective pursues the crook, and they are sent to court and tried and that is that. But Danganronpa makes the act of justice into its own grotesque game that culminates in a parodic execution after the class become in turn judge and jury. The extreme, horror-movie tone of the executions – death by piano-shaped iron maiden, by fairground wheel of death, by baseballs, and so on – is just as memorable as the resolution of the mysteries and I would argue a driving factor in the game’s bizarre, horrific entertainment.

This article contains detailed discussion of the plot of Danganronpa V3, as well as Prey (2017)

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This is a Review of Horizon: Zero Dawn

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There is a good setting, and indeed a good story, hiding in the back third of Horizon Zero Dawn. The first two-thirds make reaching that excellent payoff perhaps a little too frustrating, but at the same time I am not entirely sure how I would have presented it differently. The game spends hours presenting a hostile, superstitious and often annoying world which genuinely feels like the sort of tribalistic society that would emerge in a post-apocalyptic world, but at the same time it plays so heavily on how regressive the world is it becomes difficult – from perspective of the protagonist, and by extension the player – to forgive them enough to save them.

Note: This review also talks about the plot of Turn-A Gundam, as well as discussing details of the story of Horizon: Zero Dawn.

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Moral Choices in Prey (2017)

In a lot of computer games, moral choices can be reduced to personality tests; they may be interesting dilemmas, but my enduring memory of games even as enjoyable as Mass Effect and Dragon Age is the choices still led you, eventually, to a fight or not a fight and a vaguely equivalent reward. This is not inherently a bad thing, the games still had memorable character moments, and generally hold up well as stories. Even something like The Witcher 3, which does not simply fall into good/bad decisions, generally has a lot of situations where the options are bad/worse and you as a player are not quite sure what will be worse (because the people the characters interact with are irrational, bigoted or stupid). But, nevertheless, it is not for no reason that moral decisions in video games became typecast as “do a good thing for a small reward, or a bad thing for a possibly bigger reward and a fight”; idea like Mass Effect‘s Renegade and Paragon points provided clear mechanical incentives for making choices that were often empathy versus utilitarianism. Bioshock was probably the weakest example of all; there, moral choice was “do you murder someone who looks innocent for immediate fiscal reward, or spare them for a larger reward later”. Hardly an interesting dilemma and almost a purely mechanical one.

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Tabletop Game Review: Rogue Planet (Brent Spivey, Bombshell Games)

Brent Spivey’s skirmish wargame Rogue Planet plays like the much-loved Games Workshop RPG/miniatures game hybrid Inquisitor; it has similar systems of random activation counts and a focus on interactions with terrain and inventive skill use. It is different in fundamental ways mechanically, but the intent – bringing together the freer mechanics of role-playing games and the structure and campaign advancement of a miniatures skirmish game. It will not stand as a direct competitor to something like Necromunda, as the focus is not on highly granular combat and strict rules (insofar as Necromunda’s rules were strict), but it offers an attempt to emulate, as any niche wargame should, a specific kind of skirmish combat.

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Heavy Gear Army Backstory – BTRT Special Unit K71

This army has been one of the most fun wargaming projects I have worked on; I have taken the time to personalise and create custom scenic bases for every miniature, bought third-party conversion parts to add to the kits to ensure none are completely stock constructions and come up with a backstory for every unit. I have tied the backstory into my other armies for the game where possible, thus the Three-Ones and the Salamandine Incident turn up…

It is also only eight models, a truly elite force!

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