Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Conquest San Francisco 2006 (Fri/Sat Report)

Well, it's been about a week and a half since I returned from Conquest SF over Labor Day weekend and I wanted to write down some of my thoughts and experiences for the 3 days I was there before they faded away. I was fortunate to be able to attend the con for most of the day Friday, and all day Saturday and Sunday (well, until about 8pm actually).

First off, I want to thank some of the Conquest staff for getting my Man O War game into the schedule at the last minute. I realized that I had missed the deadline for GM submissions a few days after the cutoff and I sent a frantic email to Kevin O Hare asking about the possibilty of squeezing me in somewhere. Kevin was very helpful and assured me it wasnt a problem and then put me in touch with Maksim-Smelchak who was in charge of the Fantasy/Sci Fi miniatures games. "Max" went above and beyond the call of duty to fit me into the Sunday morning schedule. When I showed up, he gave me one of the most prominent tables at the entrance and then even helped me arrange the tables to suit my needs. Max is a very friendly fellow and he has a great Blog of his own at 6mm Minis. Stop by, check it out and say hi. Finally I need to also thank Kevin Ellingson as he read about my scheduling issue at BGG and sent me a private email making sure someone had helped me. Thanks again Guys!

I also found the staff at Conquest to be very helpful and friendly, everyone seemed to be having fun keeping things organized and on time for those at the con. Unfortunately, my impression was that attendance was down a bit this year for reasons that may be simple to explain (or not). The most obvious one was the closure of the Bay Bridge for earthquake retrofiting over the weekend. This probably scared away many attendees from the east bay (and beyond) and I can think of quite a few regulars I know from those areas that were not in attendance.

The bridge closure is only part of it I suspect however and the rest is purely speculation as to what the cause(s) were. I heard several people complaining about the high price of getting a spot at the flea market ($20 for a 10'x10' area PER day). Several sellers commented on this being their last flea market if that was going to be the policy next year. The other was the auction. I may be wrong, but I heard that there was a bigger cut to the con for items sold than in previous years, which also steered several of my local gamers away from bringing things to sell at the auction. The overall impressionI got from those buying/selling at Conquest was that it was no longer desirable to do so and the con had been turned into a money making venture instead of a gaming venue.

In defense of Conquest however, I think that at least they have the seller's in mind when scheduling the flea market(s) (even if overpriced) as there was one every night, unlike KublaCon over Memorial Day weekend, which from some strange reason picked Friday nite (late) as the only time for a flea market. Their thinking was to "reward those that came to the con early" and give people a reason to show up on Friday. As a seller, I wouldn't have been too happy having a limited customer base on the slowest night of the con myself, and I told some Kublacon staff members that are friends about my opinion.

At any rate, the flea market had a decent turn-out and my friends sold almost everything they brought, I just think that some kind of multi-day discount would have gone a long way to mend some of the ill feelings I observed about the flea market policies. Was this a reason for low attendence however? I doubt it.

Regardless of how many people were there, I still had a great time. I've been going to gaming cons 3-4 times a year since the last few years of Pacificon at the Dunfy Hotel and I have made a lot of friends and gaming aqquaintances over these past 12 or so years. It is great seeing them in a familiar venue and catching up on what they've been up to since I last saw them. In fact, most of my Friday night was spent being social and wandering the con talking to people I knew. I can't recall playing a single game that night.

I do recall having some appetizers and drinks with my friends John (from Modesto) and Kris (who works up at the Lick observatory). We sat in the lobby and yapped and drank and ate for at least an hour and a half. Good stuff.

Friday was for socializing... Saturday was for some games!

Having already perused the dealer's room on Friday night, I didn't feel the need to be there right at 9am when they opened again so I was able to check out some of the games being played. The Miniature's room always has a treasure trove of things to see and today was no exception. For the history buff, there were games of Flames of War, Brother Against Brother, Tactica and Fire and Fury (among others), while the fantasy and sci-fi buff could get into games of Starguard, Full Thrust, Babylon 5, Star Blazer and a large Warhammer 40K Tournament. I missed most of the start times being a bit late in getting up so I headed down to the Boardgame room to see what was goin on there.

Brother Against Brother Miniatures on Saturday morning.

A beautiful set up for some winter action in a Flames of War game.

Boardgames take up much less space and consequently there were a lot more scheduled for Saturday am. I saw games of Age of Steam, World of Warcraft, Caylus, a Diplomacy Tournament, a Victory in the Pacific Tournament, Shadows Over Camelot, Wellington, an on-going drop in game of Down in Flames, Advanced Civilization, Command and Colors Ancients, an Axis & Allies Tournament, and the game I ended up starting with, Thurn and Taxis.

Two other BGG'ers were playing, (both named Greg if I recall correctly) . I had seen both of them at the various cons over the years and the 2nd Greg had played in the HUGE Starship Troopers Miniatures game I was in at KublaCon. I really enjoyed getting to know them a bit more and I had a lot of fun even though I was trounced. Thurn and Taxis is definately one of those games I want to play again as there is alot going on and many ways to score points. After this initial game, I gave up my spot to watch them (and two others) play a game of Reef Encounter. I have this game and have attempted deciphering the rules a few times, but it REALLY is much easier to learn this from someone who already knows the rules pretty well - which Greg #1 did.

Reef Encounter made sense after a few turns and I think I could now get the game out and muddle through it well enough. Unfortunately, I was supposed to meet some friends and I couldn't stay to watch the rest, but they were having a good time when I left.

It was now about noon and I was supposed to go to lunch with some other members of the Central Valley Wargamers in attendance. John's game of Victory in the Pacific was taking a bit longer than he had expected so I went upstairs to kill some time while I waited. I came across several cool games being played in the open gaming area in front of the registration desks.

First up was a game of Firefly- the RPG. The guy running it had a very cool set-up with props, sounds, music, detailed maps, a 3-d deck layout of Firefly and miniature terrain for the planet. My wife is a big Firefly fan and I know she would have enjoyed playing in that one. I saw them playing for at least 6 hours that day but I think it must have been more like 10. They were having a GREAT time and whenever I saw them I thought that that was what game conventions were all about... passion for the games you love. The Firefly GM obviously loved the show and the level of detail he went to for the enjoyment of his players was astounding. I'm sure the game was the highlight of the con for most of them.

The 2nd game I saw that blew me away was simply a boardgame. Not just any boardgame, but a game of War of the Ring... FULLY painted. I'm talking detailed painting too - authentic colors from the movie, washes, drybrushing, the whole nine yards. I have painted a lot of miniatures for Man O War and I can appreciate how long it must have taken them to paint all those. It was definately a labor of love for these guys, but you could see how much it increased their enjoyment of the game. Many people came by while I watched for a few minutes and commented on how cool it looked. I wish I had taken more than just a few pics of it.

This is a close-up of the fantastic War of the Ring game I saw being played. Those plastic miniatures don't come that way!

Actually there was a real cool 3rd thing too, The Battle of Squidway Island, a PIRATES! game by Flagship Games. Think "The Battle of Midway" with Dwaves, Orcs and Elves on large scale fantasy ships. This was both visually stunning and hilarious to watch. Check out these pics:

One of the Dwarf Carriers in The Battle of Squidway.

Dwarf carrier about to take a hit from a Goblin cannon.

One of the big Dwarf Battleships.

It's weird how time flies at the cons. One minute it was noon and I was just wandering about seeing all the cool things, the next it was almost 3:30 and John had finished his game. Bob (also from the CVW) joined us and we took a short walk down the street to The Elephant Bar for lunch and watched the planes land at SFO while we ate. I think Conquest is the best of the 3 major Bay Area Con's for local scenery - Kublacon is across the street btw , but you can't really see the bay or the airport at all.

Around 5:30 we headed back and realized it was nearly time for the Flea Market. John and Bob shared a booth and I helped them get set-up in the half hour we had. The Flea Market was fairly well attended and I picked up a bunch of stuff at fairly good prices.

We had all signed up to play in a Dune game at 7, but didnt make it in time because of the Flea Market. John and Bob went off to play other things and I hooked up with some other friends to play the classic Con game of all...Cosmic Encounter! Kevin had played before, but the two Andy's hadn't and I took a few minutes to teach them the game (I dont know what it was with all the double names in the games I played).

We used double powers (hidden until used) and ended up with a joint win between Andy 1 and I after 90 minutes or so. Feeling that they now had a good grasp of the game's possibilities, everyone wanted another game right away and we increased the number of Alien powers that were dealt to us to increase the chances to get some powers that would be really interesting. We got them!

If you have ever played CE before, you know that there are certain powers that are very powerful unless you have other powers to stop them. We had 2 of them. Void was picked by Andy 2 and he immediately started winning challenges and sending the rest of us to the Void. Luckily, Kevin had Silencer and used it effectively to limit Void's power as best he could. Andy 1 had Changeling which then confused matters more as he swapped for Void, who then swapped back as the game went on. My powers were Deuce (play a 2nd challenge card) and Sniveller (whine about being behind to catch up), which were fun, but not the kind of powers that the current owner of Changeling ever wanted. Ultimately, Void was in Andy 2's control most of the time and he and Kevin eventually made a deal to get a base for a base and win the game. The guys LOVED the game and asked me to bring it next time.

It was now about 11:30 and I wandered around the Con until about 12:15 before I headed up to the room to recharge for the night.

Overall, Saturday was a blast for me, not too many games played, but again, I hooked up with 3 different sets of friends and had a lot of fun. Sunday was to be my game of Man O War, and I'll detail that a bit more next time.

See ya at Dundracon!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dead in the Water (Part 4 - Final) - A Man O War Session Report from KublaCon 2006

(The following is PART 4 - the final part, of a session report of my Man O War game run at KublaCon 2006 over Memorial Day weekend. I took notes throughout the game and have converted those notes into a narrative to tell the tale of the battle. Individual turns are marked with the **** and I’ve tried to keep events chronological for the most part. Each paragraph is basically ONE ship's/squadrons battle phase and after all ships have gone the turn is over. Magic attempts occur at the beginning of each turn. I've tried to write it so it makes sense yet be chronological as this is the way the game played out. I hope you enjoy it!)


I looked to the skies above the Black Ark as they suddenly grew ominously black and ice blue. The wind whipped my hair and I knew that foul magic was afoot. I dreaded what was most surely about to unfold, not for the sake of the evil spell itself, but for our lack of stopping it. Again, fate was kind to us as I watched the ominous portents in the sky suddenly dissipate harmlessly from my sight.

Sensing the battle would be decided soon, the captain of the Hellhammer flagship ordered all three ships to attack the Thunderfire Battlebarge in an attempt to finally sink the accursed ship. With a mighty roar the 1st Hammer hit home and tore 2 large chunks from below the waterline of the large ship. It almost immediately began to list to one side and I watched the 2nd Hellhammer close and fire. A great gout of water burst into the air and for a moment I thought they had succeeded in striking into the heart of the dark vessel, but the great cannon shot had gone wide and had just barely missed the aft of the barge. Unable to get a clear, shot, the 3rd Hellhammer skirted around the Wolfship blocking its line of fire and would have to wait for the right opportunity to catch its prey.

Throughout the battle, there had been a small, strange ship staying close to the rest of the Undead fleet. Being mostly a small barge with a few small towers on it, it appeared to have no weaponry, and had pretty much been ignored throughout the fray. As the ship began to pulsate in an eerie green glow, I feared that our inaction was going to be regretted – and soon. The green glow increased in intensity and it began to coalesce into a large upright image that towered over the seas. Each passing moment made the image clearer and clearer until suddenly we were looking at an immense skull that was as tall as the masts of my very own Wolfship. Even though I was far from the terrifying sight, it took every ounce of my courage to stand my ground and continue to fight. The green grinning skull seemed to be looking directly at ME and followed my every move with its black, empty eye sockets. This was dark magic at its worst and I knew that any closer ships in its line of sight would be hard pressed to do anything but cower in fear.

Ordering the Wolfship squadron into action, I quickly devised a plan to take advantage of our situation. With the Wolfship Alliance without any cannons left to fire, I ordered her to close on the Undead Specter, getting in as close as possible. Captain Midden rallied his crew and they were unaffected by the monstrous apparition, and moved into position. With the Alliance blocking our view of the Undead Specter, my crew jumped into action as its effect of fear and terror only seemed to work if you could actually see the hideous thing. We headed straight for the Alliance, using her to shield us until the last possible moment. With a hard turn to port, our fore cannons found a more tempting target in their sights – the Thunderfire Battlebarge!

We were at close range and I prayed that our shots would hit home. I heard the cannons roar and saw the shots tear into the main rocket tower of the black ship. With a huge explosion, the ship tore in two and lifted out of the water! Explosions continued to pulverize the ship and I knew that we had hit its magazine room where all the highly volatile fuel and warheads were kept. We didn’t even bother to look for survivors as the largest piece of debris was no larger than a powder keg. The crew cheered as we gained the upper hand.

Off to starboard, the Wolfship Justice dealt out pain and misery to not one, but two Thunder-rollers! Her fore cannons splintered the top decks of the first and the crew nearly mutinied before regaining their senses and returned to their posts. Then, her broadside cannons blew two large holes in the hull of the other Thunder-roller and within seconds, it slipped under the waves and went straight to hell.

Further behind the still flaming wreckage of the Thunderfire sat the Great Leveller and it slowly rotated until its immense gun was again aimed directly at us. Something inside told me that we were for this world for merely moments more. I saw the muzzle flash and a split second later I heard the deafening roar, but instead of striking the Royal Endeavor, the wreckage of the Thunderfire was reduced to even smaller bits as the shot deviated off our bow, missing us completely! I grinned in amusement as I pictured the fury that their captain must be feeling as he watched his crew attack us with such obvious impotence.

Our Dwarf allies quickly got off another round of cannon fire at the Black Ark from the Monitors, destroying a large tower filled with the ship’s rum stash and knocking some crew into the sea as well.

In an unusual lapse of judgment, the Necropolis moved too close towards our Elven and Dwarf friends and all the shots from the screaming skulls arced harmlessly over the Dragonship and Dreadnought.

Quickly taking advantage of that error, the Mighty Dreadnought turned in place and lurched forward as it massive ram crashed into the Undead monstrosity ripping at least 3 huge holes in the area below the waterline. Somehow the ship stayed afloat as the crew of the Dreadnought could only watch in disbelief.

Goaded by its Dark Elf masters high in the tower perched on his massive back, the Sea Dragon carrying the Death Fortress closed on the High Elf Eagle ship, its reaper batteries primed and ready to fire. Something was amiss however as the reapers remained silent even though they had the Eagleship dead in their sights. The Dragon unleashed it’s fury at the Elf crew, as it engaged in a deadly attack to try and kill the crew on deck. Several brave Elves were snatched by the beasts gaping jaw but the Elf crew beat the beast back and pushed the Eagle ship away from the foul creature.

Retaliating with the Hawkships, the Elf commander order the squadron to attack the Black Ark again and hit home with several direct hits as the crews did not flinch from the protection spell surrounding the hideous ship. A fire broke out from the attack and the mammoth ship began to burn heavily.In another surprising maneuver, the Undead Ghostship faded in and out of reality as it moved across the sea, but like the Necropolis, it moved too close to its targets and again the shots sailed over the relieved crews of the Dwarf fleet.

The small Nautilus silently slipped below the sea and headed at the Necropolis to try and put the cursed ship at the bottom of the Sea of Claws. Armed with a clockwork torpedo, it moved to nearly point blank range and fired the small projectile into the hull of the Undead ship. The torpedo hit the ship but was only a glancing blow, knocking the Undead Captain into the sea and the Necropolis had to make a quick turn to pick up the shaken commander.

The battle was winding down at this point and many ships were already heading away from the fray to head to safe waters, assess the damage and start repairs. In a final act of desperation, the other Death Fortress moved in close to one of the Dwarf Monitors, and was forced into making an attack from its cruel masters high in the tower. Apparently the beast had had enough however and it suddenly turned and sped to the nearby Deathship as it went out of control from the Dark Elves! It killed the lone crew and then suddenly plunged under the waves as it pulled the helpless Dark Elves down with it, never to be seen again.

With both sides retreating, I finally had time to assess the damage. Many ships had been lost on both sides and determining a victor would be left to the historians and politicians. All I can say is that we fought bravely and without quarter, for none was given to us. As this had been my first encounter with the Undead fleet, it was a victory of sorts for us, for valuable information was gained about the strengths and weaknesses of the strange, unearthly fleet.

We shall be prepared for revenge when we meet again.


This game came down to the wire and the final Battle Honor tally was 24 for the Good side and 23 for the Evil, hardly a major victory, but a win none-the-less. Everyone had a blast playing and it was a big crowd pleaser with all the ships on the table.

Another GREAT game of Man O War into the log books!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Dead in the Water (Part 3) - A Man O War Session Report from KublaCon 2006

(The following is PART 3 of a session report of my Man O War game run at KublaCon 2006 over Memorial Day weekend. I took notes throughout the game and have converted those notes into a narrative to tell the tale of the battle. Individual turns are marked with the **** and I’ve tried to keep events chronological for the most part. This report is expected to be spread out over several parts and I will attempt to complete it all as soon as possible. Each paragraph is basically ONE ship's/squadrons battle phase and after all ships have gone the turn is over. Magic attempts occur at the beginning of each turn. I've tried to write it so it makes sense yet be chronological as this is the way the game played out. I hope you enjoy it!)

The 1st two parts previously posted should be read before this one:

By this time I could again see our Wizard standing on the bow of the Royal Scepter, which was now listing to starboard slightly as she struggled to stay afloat. She had several fires on the ship and the black smoke was thick and pungent as the mighty ship was slowing falling to the relentless attacks of the Thunderfire Battlebarge. I was still pondering that thought when suddenly the entire sky darkened across the sea. Great storm clouds rolled in suddenly from nowhere and the air felt heavy and wet. With a great clash of thunder the heavens opened up and a torrential rain fell from the sky. I could still see our Wizard on the Greatship, his arms stretched to the heavens as he continued his incantation. All 3 fires on the Greatship went out one by one. Far to stern, the Ironclad that had also been burning from the flame attacks of the Sea Dragon also went out. The rain continued unabated for several minutes and then suddenly the clouds quickly parted and vanished, leaving the bright sunshine to begin its task of drying out man and vessel.

The successful casting of a magic spell by our wizard must have infuriated the enemy Necromancer as the foul words of an evil incantation could be suddenly be discerned far across the waves, impossible as it should have been to hear them. Whatever spell he attempted was not successful in harnessing the winds of magic and again a brilliant flash of light signaled its failure.

Seizing the initiative, two of our Hell-hammers fired at the flagship of the Chaos Dwarfs, the Thunderfire Battlebarge. Hoping to cripple the powerful ship before it could attack the Royal Scepter again, they ultimately fired in vain as one shot missed completely and the other failed to do any damage.

As the men’s hopes of sinking the deadly ship were dashed, we could see the Black Ark move ominously towards one of the High Elf Hawkships and let loose with 3 Reaper Batteries. The little ship exploded in a splinter of wood shards and debris as the shots tore into her midships and aft castle, where she lost one of her Eagle Claws. With its broadside reaper batteries also in range of a Dwarf Monitor, the Black Ark again seemed destined to destroy the much smaller vessel. Luck was on the Dwarves side as again the Reapers jammed and the opportunity passed.

With part of her crew aboard from the Dragonship, the Elves on the Eagleship quickly sprang into action and pushed off from the other ships. They shot around the enemy ships and closed the distance on the Black Ark. Firing her three broadside Eagle Claws at the immense ship, two hit their targets but were unable to cause any significant damage.

To starboard, we heard a horrific screech, and we turned to see the terrible Sea Dragon again launch gout of flame point blank at the Ironclad. Even locked inside their metal casing, the screams of agony could still be heard across the waves. Time was running out for those brave sailors and quicker than they realized as another fire started from the beast’s attack.

I could see another Thunder-roller ahead and to starboard and I turned the ship to bring it into the range of our fore cannons. Not wanting there to be any chance of their survival I steered the Endeavor directly into the path of the Thunder-roller, bumping her askew as we collided. “FIRE!” I yelled and our cannons let loose at both her and another Thunder-Roller to port. The Thunder-roller to port took some superficial damage, but it was the one ahead I wanted. The fore Thunder-roller took two direct hits causing extensive damage, but that was no matter. I drew my sword and shouted to the men “HAVE AT HER!” and swung across a mizzen line onto the decks of the Chaos ship. Within seconds, my entire crew was aboard and we outnumbered her easily. No quarter was asked and none was given and in just a few minutes, the boarding action was over and the ship was ours. “Knock some holes in the bilge and let’s get out of here!” I ordered and the men quickly set at the task of scuttling the foul ship. Back on board the Endeavor, we only had the briefest of moments to watch the ship began to list to one side as the water poured in.

It was then that the sky again had two suns momentarily and I shielded my eyes from the furnace that was the Great Leveller. Up until now, our luck had held as every attack from this awesome weapon had deviated away from the fleet.
Not this time.

We were the targets – the Endeavor, the Justice and the Alliance. Luckily I had veered away from the other two Wolfships to take out the Thunder-roller or else we would have been caught under that horrific blast. Both Captain Hooker and Midden’s ships took structural damage and one of the main masts of the Alliance had been snapped clean in two. With both Wolfships still afloat, I considered the men lucky and thought no more of it. Unfortunately, one of the Hell-hammers had also been caught in the blast radius and their captain was instantly killed in the inferno.

Recovering from the Black Ark’s movement moments before, the two Monitors that had been caught up in the swell of its wake as the Ark had moved, finally managed to get themselves free of the quagmire that was the ocean surrounding the Ark. They then attempted to fire upon the massive ship. You would think that it would be impossible to miss such a vessel at such close range, but such is the magic that the Dark Elves control that even looking upon the foul ship can cause men to turn away in dread and avoid making any attack. One of the Dwarf Monitors did just that, failing to take the fight back to the demons before them. The 2nd Monitor was much more determined as its crew managed to gather the courage they needed and fire the Monitor’s cannon at the fore Reaper Battery, destroying it completely!

[b]Fate was against us on this dreadful day[/b] as both the Thunderfire and Great Leveller had fired numerous times and not once had there been a misfire. The next few moments seemed to occur in slow motion and I’ll never forget the brave command team and crew of the Royal Scepter. As the battle had raged on around us, the Thunderfire once again pivoted in place to line up her sights on the badly wounded Greatship of the Imperial fleet. We only counted 4 rockets this time, but it was all that was needed. Two hits simply caused minor structural damage, but the other two caused serious critical damage and the Greatship’s bow exploded and suddenly there was a hole large enough for 10 men to climb through. She started going down bow first and quickly her stern was out of the water as the ocean sucked her under. Admiral Sigmar and our Wizard were nowhere to be seen in the wreckage and I immediately raised the fleet command flag on the Endeavor’s main mast.

The Royal Scepter had sustained twenty-two direct hits from the Thunderfire Battlebarge over just 3 attacks. No ship could have survived that kind of onslaught and Admiral Sigmar should be commended for fighting on as long as he had. Even in it’s last moments afloat, the Admiral had been seen giving the order to close and board, especially courageous as all of the Greatship’s cannon’s had already been lost.

To the east, the ultra fast Hawkships skipped across the seas and quickly closed the gap on the Black Ark. Each had direct hits on the mammoth ship but none failed to cause any damage.
The Undead Deathships finally got into the fray at this point as well as they advanced on the 3 Monitors but either failed to hit their targets or cause any damage if they did. The sound of the Screaming Skull’s still haunts my mind late at night.

Seeing an opportunity to strike at the towering Black Ark to starboard, the Dwarf Dreadnought turned in place, its front turrets lining up on the bow of the immense vessel. Her crew was able to see past the maze of spells protecting it, but again, no damage was caused to the damned ship of the Dark Elves. To the rear of the Dreadnought was the terrible battle of the Sea Dragon and Ironclad, both locked in a struggle to the death. Taking a chance of hitting their comrades, the captain of the Dreadnought fired at the Sea Dragon in a desperate hope to end the battle before they lost another ship. Two shots tore in the great beast, one a killing blow to the back of its immense neck. With a final cry of agony, the huge creature quickly sank into the sea and was gone forever.

As if to strike back for the loss of one of it’s own, the Sea Dragon with the Dark Elf Death Fortress on it’s back, moved directly towards the Eagleship, which had just re-crewed the Dragonship. The Reaper Batteries high in the tower struck hard at the lithe Elf Ship, and it sustained damage from all five bolts, losing two of it’s broadside Eagle Claw batteries.

The last of the Doomreavers then moved in towards the nearest Hawkship, moving in direct contact as its masters attempted to whip it into a Frenzy. Whatever they tried did not work at all as the foul creature went completely berserk and turned away from the small Elf vessel. Much to my surprise, it moved directly towards the nearby Ark and lashed out with all its fury. A big chunk of the hull tore away and it was obvious the ship had taken some below the waterline damage.

The forces of evil continued to attack, the Necropolis maneuvered so it could launch screaming skulls at two different targets to port and starboard, a Hell-hammer and a Monitor. I watched in amazement as 3 skulls screeched though the air only to all miss the Hell-hammer as it bounced on the waves. I swear I could still hear those skulls as they sank to the bottom of the sea bed. The Monitor was not as lucky however, as the other 2 skulls all hit the doomed ship, 2 in the same location and went straight through the hull, sinking it.

With a brief lull in the battle, I looked around to see many crews attempting to put out the fires, but it looked like a losing battle to me.

End of Part 3 (The 4th and final part to be posted soon).

Friday, June 02, 2006

Dead in the Water (Part 2) - A Man O War session Report from KublaCon 2006

(See my previous post for Part 1)


It was at this point I used a viewscope to peer across the sea at the high towers of the Black Ark. I could see a figure in the forecastle, motioning to the heavens, while the wind whipped his long black hair around his face. “Black Magic” I muttered and for the briefest of moments the wind went deathly still on the entire seascape. For a moment I thought the Dark Elf wizard may have succeeded in turning the ocean into a Sea of Glass, but there was a brilliant implosion of yellow light and the winds immediately picked back up again. Whether our wizard had had anything to do with the spell’s failure or the Dark Necromancer had simply failed to harness the flow of the magic ether, I shall never know.

Turning the viewscope towards the decks of the Royal Sceptor, I could see the brilliant Jade robe of our magician and much closer than I had the Dark Necromancer. He was obviously casting a spell and he thrust his hands into a basket of serpents and pulled out two handfuls of the irate creatures. They bit and coiled around his hands and arms and suddenly he hurled them out towards the Black Ark. “Serpents of Doom, of course!” I thought. He was trying to entangle the Ark from moving or attacking but again I saw a flash of light and the spell dissipated harmlessly across the waves. So much for the powers of our wizards!

Hearing the launch of rockets was a sound I was becoming all too familiar with and my attention was drawn back to the Thunderfire Battlebarge as at least 10 rockets again raced towards our mighty Imperial Greatship. “Mercy from the Gods!” I cried out, as surely this would be the last I would see of Admiral Sigmar and the brave crew of the ‘Sceptor’. Just a single shot would have been enough to nearly cause a mutiny, but the men held fast and not a single man left his post. It was obvious that there was a lot of damage and I could count 4 more areas that were in critical shape. A blaze broke out miships and I could tell that there was some below the waterline damage now as well. To my dismay, I could see the men rapidly turning the ship to port for some reason that was not yet clear. As the bow came into view again, I could see someone in the water…along with all the navigation maps… Ye Gods! It was Admiral Sigmar! Curse those foul Dwarfs!

I was incensed at this point and I ordered my squadron into action again. Moving in perfect unison, all three Wolfships went after the Chaos Dwarf fleet. Off to starboard the Wolfship Justice rammed another Hull Destroyer, again sinking a smaller ship of the line in a single blow. Maneuvering closer, we let loose a broadside volley into the nearest Hull Destroyer at close range, blasting a massive hole in the hull where it had been hit earlier. This critical damage was all the ship could take and it plummeted out of our sight with appreciated haste. To port, the Wolfship Alliance’s single broadside volley was ineffective on the Thunder-roller that had been in its sights.

Across the sea on the opposite side of the battle, the Dark Elf Death Fortress had recovered from the earlier Dragonship attack and the giant Sea Dragon was goaded into attacking the High Elf ship that had nearly destroyed it. Reaper batteries launched several waves of the iron tipped barbs at the vulnerable Dragonship and it was quite clear that one of the fore, as well as a broadside Eagle Claw had been lost.

Seizing an opportunity as the battle raged on around them, the squadron of Dwarf Monitors turned into the path of the Black Ark itself! Say what you will about our stunted allies, but they are some of the bravest I’ve seen yet. As the threat of the Monitors became evident, the Black Ark immediately began to shimmer and waver on the sea like an oasis in the desert. “More dark magic” I said to no one in particular. Targeting a ship under those conditions would be tough and 2 of the Monitors completely missed their mark, while the 3rd one hit the massive stone hull of the wretched thing, doing no damage at all.

Not wasting a moment, the Black Ark ominously moved in between two of the Monitors, its Reaper batteries firing at any and all available targets. As it slid forward into place, it seemingly turned in place, ignoring the natural laws of momentum and physics. It was if it was being held by a gigantic magical hand that could turn he ship as desired, the swell of the waters surrounding the Ark pushing the puny Monitors around at will. It was a sight that will haunt me for the rest of my days. One of the Monitors took a direct hit on the bow and there was no doubt that the objects falling into the sea were Dwarf bodies. I must say that those Monitors are tough ships as I saw the 2nd take several direct hits from the magical Reapers, yet no damage was sustained. I would think twice about ever taking the ‘Endeavor’ up against one.

From the front of the Ark still more Reaper batteries were ready to fire. Dead ahead was the Dwarf fleet’s flagship, the mighty Dreadnought - Hammer of the Sea. Something must have gone wrong as the Reapers did not fire and the Dreadnought sailed by unscathed.

The battle raged on all around me and there were numerous things that I failed to see in the thick of the fight. I looked past the Ark to see the Majestic Elf Dragonship unfurl its sails and leap forward across the waves. The sun caught the enchanted metal of the Dragonblades and I could see their brilliance quite easily from the opposite side of the battle. I had never seen a ship move so quickly across the sea yet the crew was calm and disciplined, as if the events unfolding around them were everyday occurrences. With a quic, unexpected turn, the Dragonship veered into the path of a Dark Elf Doomreaver. “That is suicidal!” I called out yet the sleek craft didn’t deviate an inch and collided with the terrible creature. What happened next is something I still don’t believe, as the Dragonship barely slowed down as it cleaved the beast and ship in half. One moment it was there… and the next there was a spray of blood as the giant beast split in two. The Dragonship headed towards the 2nd Doomreaver and I expected its fate to be the same as its former companions. This time however, the Dragonship lurched to a halt as the blades failed to find their target. Immediately, the Elf crews were fighting the Doomreaver in a twisted version of a boarding action. Fate was unkind that day as one by one the Elf crew was slaughtered, leaving the mighty Dragonship abandoned and vulnerable. My worst fears were coming true.

Before I could even process the loss of such a magnificent vessel, I again saw the sky ignite as the Great Leveller targeted the Hell-hammers bearing down on it. Again, the gods were kind to us as the shot fell behind the fleet, killing all aquatic life in the blast radius.

The high Elves were not going to give up the Dragonship with out a fight and immediately the nearby Hawkships raced across the sea to engage the remaining Doomreavers. Only 1 of the 6 total Eagle Claw attacks managed to do any damage however and the Doomreaver thrashed about in agony as the shot hit home.

Back to port, the gigantic Sea Dragon and Ironclad were still locked in a death struggle to which there could only be one victor. Each time the Dragon reared back it’s head, you knew that it could be the last of the Ironclad as the corrosive fire did it’s deadly work. Amazingly, the Ironclad stood fast from the attacks but I did notice another fire had broken out in the bow.

Sensing an opportune moment, the Captain of the Dreadnought turned the mighty metallic ship into the gap between the Sea Dragon and the Ark itself, firing all broadsides and turrets at these two foes. Nary a shot hit the dreaded beast as it thrashed about by the ironclad, but all 4 were successful against the Ominous Black Ark! One shot caused a huge chunk of stone to splinter and fall into the sea and we could see the sea rushing in to fill the gap! To the rear of the Ark, the giant portal that allows the Doomreavers and Death Fortresses to enter the Ark was now a twister, burning hulk of black metal, useless for a long while to come. Several Reaper batteries were also destroyed from the looks of things; all in all, the Dreadnought may have turned the tide of battle right then and there.

Having never seen a Floating Necropolis before, I must say that its size was every bit as large as the portion of a Black Ark that is above the water. Seeing it move with such ease and precision was unnerving and took some convincing by my senses towards my brain. The Necropolis had a weapon the likes I hope I never encounter again – the Screaming Skull catapults. These catapults fire lead filled human skulls that have been enchanted to scream as they tear through the air causing many to panic and flee. Over the next few minutes, that very thought occurred to me several times.

The first volley of 3 ended up falling through 3 decks and tore two holes in the hull and we began to take on water – though not enough to threaten us going under. We thought we’d be safe for a moment but some foul magic must have allowed them to immediately fire at us again but fate was kind as none of the 2nd volley had any effect on the ship.

Seizing an opportune moment, our Hell-hammers retaliated immediately against the Necropolis, firing at close range at the monstrous ship. The shots appeared to be direct hits but did no damage as the ships bulkheads appeared to be re-enforced and the heavy shots bounced harmlessly off the sides.

As if to drive home the apparent futility of attacking the Undead fleet, an Undead Ghostship materialized out of thin air and launched it’s screaming skull catapults at one of the Dwarf Monitors in range. The magical shots ran right through the tough armor and went clean through the hull, sinking the smaller vessel with just a single shot! “Damn you all to hell!” I shouted at them across the waves. But ironically, they all already were.

Admiral Sigmar’s Greatship at this point was heavily damaged and I half expected him to pull the ship to the rear of the battle where we could help protect it. He would have none of it however and gave the order to engage the enemy again. With only one working broadside of cannons left, the Royal Scepter headed directly at the Thunderfire Battlebarge yet kept a Thunder-roller in sight for its cannon attack. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Not only were they still attacking, but they meant to BOARD the Battlebarge if they could survive long enough! Unfortunately, the Thunder-roller took no damage from the cannon attack and I prayed that the Greatship would last long enough to make a difference in the battle.

The near miss of the Greatship’s cannon attack stirred the Thunder-roller into action. Swinging in a wide turn to port, the vessel closed on Captain Hooker’s Wolfship, Justice. She took a direct hit in the bows, and a large chuck of the forecastle fell into the sea, carrying several cannons and their crew with it.

My attention was drawn away again to the aft of my ship where the death struggle of the Ironclad and Sea Dragon continued as it had for the entire battle. I could not imagine the terror the Dwarf crew must be feeling as they fought the foul beast from the depths of the sea for their very lives. Just then, another shot exploded out of the front cannon turret and hit the Sea Dragon directly in the chest at point blank range! That must have done it in! I thought, but against all reason and logic the beast fought on, bleeding profusely all over the hull of the Ironclad as it continued to attack.

The battle had ranged on for some time and already our nerves were frazzled and frayed beyond the limits of what men should have to endure, yet no reprieve was in sight. I wondered if we had already seen the worst and hoped that little by little, the horrors filling my unbelieving eyes would soon dissipate. It was folly to think such thoughts, as I immediately discovered.

The Undead fleet thus far had consisted of the gigantic Necropolis, the Ghostship and a small squadron of Deathships that were no larger than our own Hell-Hammers. There had been another smaller ship off by itself, but it was really only a barge of some kind with two small towers, not even large enough to hold a single catapult. I hadn’t even thought of it as a threat. I could not have been more wrong.

With a storm of dancing green lighting bolts arcing across the bow of the ship and the cackling of 10,000 dead souls in my ears, the barge seemed to come to life. I believe my heart must have stopped for several beats when I saw the terrifying vision that appeared at the front of the vessel. Lit with an unholy green light, a large skull the size of my SHIP materialized over the barge, a giant grinning Specter that looked directly into MY eyes, following my every move as I tried to avoid its terrible gaze. It was not after the fleet… it was not after any other ship… it was after ME!

I am ashamed to say that I nearly froze in place and cowered on the deck of the Endeavor, but only the thoughts of my family and friends back home gave me the courage to continue to fight. This Undead Specter was more than most men could handle, of that I was sure. I worried how others would react once they saw it.

On the eastern edge of the fight, the High Elf Eagleship came alongside the abandoned Dragonship, sending over several squads of men to re-crew her, leaving just one the Eagleship herself.

Losing the Dragonship, the Dark Elves attacked again with the Doomreavers, the first a boarding action against the lesser manned Eagleship that wounded the horrific creature before driving it back. The 2nd Doomreaver came alongside the Eagleship and was goaded into a frenzy by its keepers and trainers high in the tower of the ship it pulled. The beast must have went completely mad as suddenly it turned and headed back against the nearby Ghostship, attacking it instead and killing a crew from it’s multiple claw and biting attacks. The Elf crews on both the Eagleship and Dragonship rallied and cheered as it attacked on of its own.

Forgotten by nearly everyone in the fray, the lone Nautilus then surfaced at point blank range next to the Floating Necropolis, unnoticed by its damned crews and too close to be attacked by the screaming skull catapults. The single cannon mounted on the turret at the top of the ship, fired directly at the nearest tower and destroyed it completely!

Recent events seemed to indicating that perhaps we were winning the battle at this point, in time, but there was still plenty of fight left in the fleets of the Damned, and I only could pray that we would all live to see another sunrise.

End of Part 2.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Dead in the Water (Part 1) - A Man O War session Report from KublaCon 2006

(The following is a session report of my Man O War game run at KublaCon 2006 over Memorial Day weekend. I took notes throughout the game and have converted those notes into a narrative to tell the tale of the battle. Individual turns are marked with the **** and I’ve tried to keep events chronological for the most part. This report is expected to be spread out over several parts and I will attempt to complete it all as soon as possible. I hope you enjoy it! Man O War is a naval miniature's game by Games Workshop and is set in the fantasy world of Warhammer. I have tried to capture some of the flavor of the game in this narrative. It should be mentioned that I was the moderator of the game and not a player - a role that is almost as much fun for me as playing!)

Field Report of Wilhelm Magnus III,
Captain of The Royal Endeavor, Flagship of Wolfship Squadron Franz
In the year of our Emperor, 2543, as told to the Royal Archivist, Leopold Bellinger.

Dead in the Water.

The ocean churned beneath my feet like the gullet of some immense beast in a digestive stupor, tossing both man and vessel about with equal ease. Anything man made and not lashed down would be thrown overboard in a matter of seconds and any man who let his mind wander for the briefest of moments would suffer the same fate. Unlike the cargo however, a man would have plenty of time to ponder his impending demise as the ship continued on with out him. The wind bit into my flesh like the spines of a sea urchin, chilling me to the bone as I stood at the helm of The Royal Endeavor. It was times like this that I was thankful for joining the Imperial Navy and I was bursting with pride to have been chosen for this particular mission. It was, indeed, another glorious day on the sea for the Emperor.

Having been under way from Altdorf for three and a half weeks already, my time to enjoy the above mentioned pleasantries of a long sea voyage would soon come to an end. Nearly a month ago the call for volunteers for an unknown mission with Vice Admiral Sigmar came down through the barracks and I immediately jumped at the chance - I was astonished - Sigmar! His glorious history with His Majesty’s fleet was quite well known and most of the men would be happy to just SEE the famous Greatship he commanded – The Royal Scepter, much less sail with her! We set sail under utmost secrecy immediately and began the long trek down the River Reik to the Sea of Claws. Once on the open waters, I expected to hear more of what our destination was and who our target was going to be. But for weeks, the Admiral was silent and reclusive, nary a word about our fate was told to his Lieutenant, and it had been only yesterday morning that the signal for a command meeting for that evening had been given. Last night’s dinner with the rest of the fleet command had been both a blessing and a curse, and up until the after dinner brandy, I had been thrilled to dine with Vice Admiral Sigmar as he filled the rest of us captains on where we were headed and what our mission was.

The news was shocking to say the least.

Over the past several months, merchant ships had been disappearing off of the coast of the Tilean Sea with alarming frequency. Normally, pirate raids from Sartosa were an expected part of the shipping business and usually the captains carried substantial bribe money to ensure their safe passage. Once pirate ships started to vanish however, word spread quickly to both Bretonnian as well as Imperial ears. His Majesty sent two squadrons of Wargalleys to patrol the shipping lanes provide some relief from the rogue bandits. All was quiet for several weeks until only two of the Wargalleys were found abandoned just 2 miles from the shores of Fool’s Point, with not a living soul aboard and no hint of their fate given.

The Emperor was both furious and yet perplexed as to what should be done, as attacking an Imperial Wargalley was an act of war and even the Pirates wouldn’t be so bold. How do you retaliate against an unknown aggressor?

It wasn’t until a week later that word came from the mighty Dwarf sea fortress of Barak Varr that the Emperor found out the truth and immediately jumped into action. That was when I had been recruited and last night when Admiral Sigmar finally told us of our suspected foe, my blood ran cold.

I’ll never forget the words he used. “When the water is black like the night, when the seas are flat and the winds are calm, the only ships that sail will be the Dead in the Water.” At first I thought he had misspoke, he must have meant “that all ships will be dead in the water.”, but then the meaning of his words hit me…he meant the Undead!

At once the room was in chaos as all of us tried to fathom what he was implying and many cries of disbelief and denial were heard, but Admiral Sigmar held fast and filled us in with all the evidence too gruesome to mention here. Suffice it to say that there was not one of us that slept well that night.

And here we are, less than an hour from the mouth of the Mortis River and the shores of Zandri and the Land of the Dead. Off to port, I can see the glint of metal low in the waves and I have an odd feeling of comfort knowing that support from the Dwarf fleet at Barak Varr has arrived yet it also makes me feel somewhat uneasy as it lends an air of credulity to the situation. The Dwarfs don’t ally easily which makes me think this situation is as grim as it sounds. On the other hand, our so-called Bretonnian allies declined to participate in this little escapade citing the lack of credible proof that the Undead, indeed, had again been seen in the Black Gulf and Great Ocean. I suppose that once a bony hand comes knocking on one of those foppish Bretonnian Lord’s castles, they’ll have all the proof they need.

As much as I wished that all this talk of the Dead was mere rumor and exaggeration, I knew in my heart that time was running out.

Our first sighting of Skull Island came at daybreak around 5:15am. There were no sounds on the sea, no birds, no fish, and no movement in the water. With the Royal Scepter dependant on the wind, both the Imperial and Dwarf fleets had slowed to accommodate her. As we closed, the wind picked up slightly allowing her to move at full speed as we closed on the massive rock formations jutting out of the water. Sometimes when a natural formation looks like something else, it takes on that name - though usually some explanation would be required to point out the similarities to the casual observer. Skull Island needed no such explanation – it looked EXACTLY like a huge skull resting on the seas. Its gaping mouth was at sea level and opened up into a deep cave that disappeared deep into the depths of stone and rock. To either side of Skull Island stood huge spires of black obsidian, rising out of the sea in unearthly formations. The water was covered with a thick grey fog that hung eerily in place, seemingly immune to the natural laws of nature as the wind blew past it.

Something was amiss.

(Turn 1)

Admiral Sigmar led the fleet into the small bay in front of Skull Island, closely followed by our Dwarf Allies. Our fleet consisted of the Imperial Greatship, The Royal Scepter, a Wolfship squadron under my command and a Hellhammer squadron in case we needed some serious firepower. Our bearded friends had brought along a massive Dreadnought, bristling with broadsides and turrets, another Man O War Class Ironclad, a squadron of Monitors and a lone Nautilus. Not much considering we had no idea what we were about to encounter, and with no word from the High Elves nor any help from the Bretonnians, we were hoping that whatever we did come across would be minimal at best. Just then, strange sound bellowed from our stern and suddenly, our world was turned upside down.

I’ll never forget that horrible sound that came from behind the fleet. The sea behind us boiled and steamed and a great beast rose from the depths. Like the screeching of a 1000 elephants being slaughtered, the war cry of the mighty Sea Dragon froze me in place as it came to the surface. Was this some Undead magic at work or had we merely passed over this creature’s territorial waters? Most of the Imperial fleet had passed over its lair already but the Dwarves were not so lucky. The great Sea Dragon began to swim towards the nearby Ironclad. May the Gods help those poor souls.

Any thoughts of this event being a mere accident were quickly dashed as several of the large fog banks suddenly disappeared revealing two sights almost as dreadful as the Sea Dragon – a Chaos Dwarf Thunderfire Battlebarge and a Great Leveller Battlebarge! Although I couldn’t see inside the Dwarf ships, I was sure that our allies would be spiting venom once they saw their hated cousins were again terrorizing the seas. Maybe the stories about the Undead were speculation after all!

Suddenly, the sky lit up like a thousand suns and an earth shattering roar echoed across the waves. The Great Leveller was pointed right at us! We’re doomed! Much to my surprise, the sea exploded far to starboard away from my squadron and in front of the Dwarf Dreadnought. I had heard stories of the Great Leveller from some of the veteran’s of the Imperial Navy. It fired a massive projectile that exploded on contact usually obliterating any ship caught in its massive fire arc. Luckily, the Leveller is prone to great deviation or even better, misfiring at crucial times, often destroying it or the ship completely. We had no reprieve as we advanced into range as the Thunderfire Battlebarge pivoted in place and took aim right at the Royal Scepter! There were only 2 rockets launched from its decks but only 1 hit the Greatship’s large forecastle, obliterating it into a thousand shards of wood. I could only pray that Admiral Sigmar had not been standing there moments before.


I wondered where our Wizard was during these initial moments. Shouldn’t he be doing something to help us? I could see no sign of him on the Royal Scepter and suddenly realized that it was possible we had lost by our command and our spellcaster in one fell swoop.

Another fogbank disappeared and suddenly we had 3 Chaos Dwarf Thunder-rollers being straight down on the fleet. Thunder-rollers only have a single bow mounted cannon and normally are not a big threat, but if you happen to be directly in their path as they use their Thunder-roller attack, you could be in some serious trouble. I looked up to see our Hellhammer squadron straight ahead of their incoming ships, watching in disbelief as the Thunder-rollers churned the water.

I barked out the order for ramming speed to my first mate and our Wolfship lurched forward in the water as the men pulled the oars with a vengeance. These Chaos Dwarfs were about to taste some sweet revenge for attacking the Admiral – Wolfship style! Our very own Royal Endeavor’s mighty ram head bit into the thin hull of the Thunder-roller with ease, shattering the cross-supports and allowing the sea to rush in and quickly fill the hull. In mere seconds it was beneath the waves, its crew in the water trying to grab something to stay afloat. Without a 2nd thought we bore down on them and drove them under the bow. The other 2 Wolfships in our squadron were unable to ram and the Chaos Dwarfs managed to stay out of their broadside fire arcs for the moment much to the frustration of Captain’s Hooker and Midden.

Sensing opportunity, the Thunder-rollers closed into our fleet and attacked the Wolfship Alliance, with 4 attacks, 2 of which caused any damage. The 2nd Thunder-roller made a last second turn towards our Greatship and made a single cannon attack that punched a perfect round hole through the sails and we could hear the cheers of her crew from as far away as we were. The last of the Thunder-rollers ineffectually ran into the Wolfship Justice, much to our amazement!

As the smoke cleared on the Royal Scepter, my spirits soared as I could see the brilliant blue uniform of Admiral Sigmar on the stern of the ship, giving the order to fire the starboard cannons. The 3 broadside attack merely did cosmetic damage to the nearest Thunder-roller but it lifted the men’s spirits none the less.

Another series of brilliant flashes appeared on the Thunderfire decks as 8 more rockets took off and crashed onto the decks of the Royal Scepter. Curses! How could that thing have reloaded so quickly? The mighty Greatship was not so lucky this time as 4 of the rockets appeared to do major damage, one being a critical hit that started a fire.

My attention was drawn to aft as I heard the mighty turreted cannons of the Dreadnought fire upon the Sea Dragon that was almost upon the smaller Ironclad. Their aim was true as the great beast bellowed in agony as it took several wounds before finally reaching the Ironclad. While we watched transfixed as the beast descended upon the Dwarf ship, again the sky lit up like the very furnaces of hell itself and I knew that the Great Leveller had again fired. It appeared to be still aiming at our Wolfship squadron but again the shot deviated far from our ships. I was wondering how long our luck would hold out.

As the mighty Sea Dragon reared its massive head back to attack, the Ironclad’s front turret was able to get off a single shot in an attempt to drive the foul beast away. With all the confusion and chaos, the shot was wide and the crew waited momentarily for the coming inferno. With a great screech, the beast open it’s gaping mouth and a vile liquid spewed forth, igniting instantly as it came in contact with the air. The bow of the ship took the brunt of the attack and I’m sure no one was surprised to see it ablaze as the beast’s head swayed to and fro.

The Captain of the lead Hell-hammer gave the order to fire at close range to the nearest Hull Destroyer and the massive cannonball literally blew the Hull-destroyer out of the water. From my observations, that already was two Chaos Dwarf ships sent to the bottom and we hadn’t lost any!

Some of our Dwarf friends disappeared beneath the sea as the strange looking Nautilus submerged under the seas, only it’s small periscope visible to the untrained eye. I could see the underwater trail of one of the Clockwork torpedo’s as it left the Nautilus and headed towards the Great Thunderfire Battlebarge. My hope that the torpedo would bite home and send them to the deep depths were quickly dashed as the torpedo cut through the water to the rear of the ship’s stern… so close!

Suddenly I heard cheering and shouts and several crews of nearby Imperial ships were pointing to the south east. I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was an Elf fleet from Ulthuan coming to our aid in our moment of need! I could see a squadron of Hawkships on the horizon and further east was an Eagleship! We might survive this day after all!

Our good fortune quickly turned to doom as one of the most terrifying sites you will ever see appeared out of the mist... an Undead Floating Necropolis! I had only heard stories of such ships when I was but a small child. A Floating Necropolis is a small city afloat, a repository of all that is unholy and evil. I now knew where all the missing crews had ended up from those earlier merchant attacks – no doubt they were now aboard the Necropolis, serving their new lord without any life coursing through their dilapidated bodies. I had friends on some of those ships… would I encounter any of them in the next few hours? It was a thought much too painful to consider. The Necropolis seemed to eerily float across the waves as it went directly into the wind and towards the High Elf fleet. Definitely, not a good sign.

Again, I heard cheering and far off could see the unmistakable outline of a High Elf Dragonship. Impossible! Dragonships are seldom seen at sea and even then they are only sent in times of war as no more can be built with the loss of the great Starwood forests from which they were made. I wondered if the stories of the great Dragonblades mounted on the twin catamaran hulls were true – was it actually possible to slice right through an enemy’s ship? I may get a chance see that for myself!

When the Great Black Ark of Naggaroth appeared, I thought I might actually go mad. It was nearly too much to take in at once and the maze of spells protecting it made me grimace in pain whenever I even as much as looked its way. This was insane. How could our small fleet of ships destroy this unholy alliance? My courage was shaken to its very core and I wondered (not for the first time of the day) if I would even see the sun set that night.

Apparently the Dwarf fleet was also concerned with these new developments as the Monitor squadron closed directly onto the Black Ark! Either they were very brave or very stupid. As each ship fired its single cannon, none of the attacks made it though the maze of spells as the Ark appeared distorted and misplaced to the crews of the Monitors.

From behind the Black Ark came another foul creature, a Dark Elf Death Fortress. Picture a Sea Dragon that is carrying a large castle strapped to its back and you’ll have some idea of what these incredibly large creatures look like. It quickly swam towards the nearest Hawkship and unleased its Reaper batteries against it. Although hitting the small and frail Hawkship 3 times, no damage was sustained and the Hawkship sailed on.

The Dwarf Monitor squadron fired upon the Black Ark as it had begun to head right at them and there were hopes of a lucky shot or two taking the foul ship down in a flash of burning glory. Unfortunately, not a single shot hit home, as some of the crews were confused by the protection spell and other successful attacks were just ineffectual against the Dark Elf armor.

Seeking revenge, the Black Ark sailed boldly into the middle of the Dwarf fleet as if to taunt them. “Here I Am” it seems to say, “Come and make what efforts you think you can.” All 4 shots against the Monitors hit their targets, but the heavy armor of the ships proved to be too much for the Reaper Batteries and once again, things appeared to be going our way.

Under any other circumstances, it would be a magnificent sight to see an actual Dragonship at sea. Today was an exception. I didn’t want my only memory of one to be that of it going down in a hail of enemy fire. I hoped all would go our way and my spirits lifted as the Dragonship attacked the nearby Death Fortress, nearly killing the crew that controls and trains the great beasts themselves.

To be continued...

Monday, May 01, 2006

Railroad Tycoon - The best train game ever?

Things have been really busy this last week as I've been constantly working or studying for my upcoming State License Exam for Real Estate Appraisers. I plan to take the test in May and have been cramming every spare minute I have and so games (and this Blog) have taken a backseat.

I have continued to game on Friday nights with my regular gaming group, the CVW (Central Valley Wargamers) - I'm not going to stop gaming completely! Lately there has been a lot of Martin Wallace's Railroad Tycoon (RRT) hitting the table and I figure it's about time to talk about it.

First of all, this game is GREAT. Really. I have yet to play a game where everyone wasn't having fun regardless of how many points they had or whether they even had a chance to win. People like to play this. Visually, RRT is a beautiful game to look at. The board slowly builds up over time as routes and locomotives are placed, empty city markers begin to appear while the good's cubes slowly disappear one by one. It's like you are building a model railroad in a lot of ways and that is appealing on many levels.

The game itself is both highly strategic and tactical yet you never feel overwhelmed or intimidated from the many options each turn presents to you. There are many different roads to victory and I have found myself trying a strategy I saw somoeone else use in a prior game to see how well it will work for me. I've seen people win many different ways - some expectedly and others completely by surprise. Some people will jump into an early lead, attempting to pull way out in front and then they'l try and end the game quickly by emptying cities wherever they can. Others try and capitalize on the Major Lines and service bounties whenever possible, and still others try and deliver as many cubes as possible from all over. Whatever your pleasure, RRT delivers.

The game components themselves are top notch. The box is very heavy and is crammed with tons of plastic miniatures, wooden cubes, cards, trains (and more!) making the hefty price tag seem well worth it. I have had NO problems with board warpage and only a few problems with the Blue/Purple city confusion. I have since printed out the replacement stickers but it still can be confusing in low light.

Everyone I've introduced the game to has enjoyed it and I expect it to be heavily played for years to come. The game is easy to teach and just begs for expansions... hopefully Eagle Games will come up with some great ideas to keep the replayability high on RRT for a long, long time.

If you haven't tried it, find someone who has a copy and beg them to play! Go to a convention and sit in on a game or just break down and buy it for yourself! You won't be disappointed.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Miniature games - the good, the bad and the ugly.

I love miniatures games.

Show me some cool scenery or terrain and give me some nice looking figures to push around and I'm a happy camper. Miniature games appeal to me on many different levels and I can often be found at the local gaming conventions either running, playing or just observing the wide variety of miniature games usually being played.

Obviously, the main thing that draws me into a miniatures game, it the way it looks. Scenery and miniatures go hand in hand. As a kid, I enjoyed plastic models and took great pride in building and painting WWII fighter planes & Ships, Star Wars vehicles and Battlestar Galactica Viper and Cylon fighters. I also had a model railroad and loved recreating the world in miniature for my trains to run through. The operation of my tabletop railroad empire was overshadowed by my enjoyment of building it. I derived much more pleasure from making the mountains and trees and building the structures on it, than I ever did from running the trains on it. I've never outgrown this fascination for seeing a well built model railroad and I still have plans to someday build my own world in miniature.

Miniature games are also played by a different type of gamer it seems. Most games with miniatures are wargames of one type of another. You control a ship on the high seas, or maybe a spacecraft in the blackness of space, or maybe a squad/platoon/regiment of troops marching into battle. Miniature gamers like being the commander in charge. They enjoy seeing their men ambush another squad or outmanuevering another skilled admiral with their magnificent Ship of the Line in the thick of battle. These gamers like the additional information gleaned from seeing the battlefield in 3D, not just from hexes mapped out on cardboard or vinyl mats. To us, getting down low to verify that line of sight is essential to declaring a target to fire upom and watching your troops march across the board in perfect formation never fails to warm our hearts.

I think that the people that enjoy miniature games are also satisfying their creative talents as well, as the vast majority of them spend countless hours painting and detailing their miniatures in addition to building elaborate terrain and landscapes to fight upon. Some players are very fanatical about this and many of the historical miniaturists will detail their figures down to the exact color of that Civil War era belt buckle in an effort to be completely accurate. Flags and banners and other markings all need to be correctly painted or attached, tanks and other vehicles must be appropriately weathered for realism and even incidental counters or markers get "the treatment" as the miniaturist replaces that "out of ammo" counter with a miniature empty ammo box to place next to the unit.

For someone who enjoys miniatures, no game is safe. My gaming group is full of players like this and they have "miniaturized" many games that would normally be considered boardgames. Off the top of my head, I can think of Circus Maximus, Samurai, Kingmaker, B-17 and Mississippi Queen have all been "blown up"- as we call it, by our group.

The old Avalon Hill Game Samurai has been 'Blown-up' (miniaturized) by John and the CVW

After I introduced them to the 1st edition of Twilight Imperium, immediately we were discussing how big to make the hexes, what types of space miniatures would we need to get and all kinds of other details to make the game a "centerpiece" at a gaming convention.

Circus Maximus being played at a CVW game night

Maybe those that collect and play miniature games thrive on the attention and praise that they are sure to get any time they run a game of it. I know that when I'm running a Man O War game, I do enjoy having people comment on how cool everything looks or how nice the paint jobs or scenery are, but - for me at least, it's definately not why I spent the untold hours painting and building everything. The truth is, I did it for ME, not for them!

Most miniature gamers would call themselves wargamers, but many wargamers don't like playing miniatures. You would think that the two types would be interchangeable, but I've found it to not be the case at all. I would venture to guess that it's because of the "fudge" factor that is inherent in most miniatures games. Typically, movement and combat is done in inches (though there are a lot of games with exeptions), and players usually use turning, movement or combat templates to determine where, how far and to what extent a figure can move, turn or shoot. Whenever a system like this is used, it's a given that disagreements over whether or not a unit can or can't do something will arise.

"Discussions" usually take this form...

"Hey! You can't turn that ship that much, you only get a single turn and it won't be tight enough to fire upon my flagship - I purposely moved to avoid that last turn and checked it when I was done!"

"What are you talking about? It's obvious I can fire upon you - you are WELL within my field of fire. I only made a single turn."

"Well, yes...NOW you can, as you turned too sharply. If you hadn't changed your mind about where to go 3 times already, your ship would have been in it's original place and then you would see that my ship is out of your turning arc."

"I let you slide two turns ago when you did your ram attack- which I still say was under the minimum range."

"That was completely different. My ship was moved accidently, there was originally plenty of distance between our ships."

(Continue this arguement for 15 minutes at least)

When dealing with inches, fractions of an inch can turn a game drastically in your favor or tragically towards your opponent's. Most miniaturists accept this and make the best of it. Someone who likes the absolutenes of a hex and counter game will find this frustrating to no end. In a typical wargame, it's usually pretty obvious whether a unit can move 4 or 5 hexes and whether or not an enemy unit is defending at 2:1 odds or 1:1. Miniatures games...not so much.

I have run my Man O War game (Fantasy Navel Battles) at 2-3 conventions a year since 1994 and have found that usually the games go much better when I am being a referee rather than a participant. That's not because I would change my standing on a ruling during a game any differently as a referee than as a player, but simply because as a referee with no vested interest in the outcome, my decision seems fairer - although it's really not.

A Game of Man O War at a convention. Here an Orc Hulk attacks a Dwarf Ironclad with it's Iron Claws and Smash-hammer.

I have seen players totally lose it over whether or not a ship is at a 3" range to the target or if it's 2.99". Seriously. In situations like that, I have often found that a die roll works much better than me expressing my opinion, but some players will hold a grudge regardless of the outcome throughout the game. Players like this obviously are difficult to deal with in any type of gaming situation, but it seems like miniature games have a much higher percentage of them than other game types.

These rules lawyers can suck the fun out of a game as fast as a broadband connection and pointing out that they are doing so usually only raises the "I'm just following the rules of the game!" defense in full force. It's usually then I make a vow to not find myself across the table from them again in another game if I can help it.

Finally I think the biggest detriment to miniature gaming is what I call the "disparities of scale". I'm not talking about what scale the miniatures are, but how well the game plays by increasing the army size or number of players. Using my Man O War game again as an example, the best games are always 2 player, 1500 points to a side. With experienced players, these games are usually over in 2 hours at the most and there will be a definate, clear cut winner. Logic would dictate that adding 2 more players and cutting the fleet size down to 1000 points per player should only extend a game by 33% at most as you now have a 4000 point game instead of a 3000 point game. You would expect a game of this size to run at most another hour ( a 50% increase in time). Unfortunately, most games of this size are now in the 5-6 hour range - which is long by any definition.

My gaming group played a 9 player game of Fire and Fury the other night, which is a fun and well designed Civil War miniatures game. The scenario was a "meeting" encounter where both sides entered from different roads on the same table edge and raced across the 8 foot table to get control of the main junction where the two roads intersected. Each player had several units at their command and I was 4th in line to enter the game table on the Union side. Things got off to a quick start with Bob's calvary racing across the table and engaging the Confederates who had managed to secure the road before we could arrive, but then things changed. As each of the players brought on their units, things bogged down. At the beginning of the game, 2 players each had to move 3-4 units to complete their side of the turn. Three or 4 turns went quickly at that point. when the 2nd player per side arrived, it was now taking twice as long to get a turn down as they each had as many units as the 1st players did. The 3rd players got on the board eventually and with little room on the board to actually manuever, slowed down in the area where everyone would first deploy as they came onto the board.

When it was finally my turn to enter the board, it was literally 3 hours since the game had started! After several more excrutiatingly slow turns at this point, I was able to get into position and make my first few attacks by the time it was time to call it a game as it was 2am - 6 hours after we had started. Woohoo.

Was it still fun? Yes, in a way. I am a social gamer and the banter that occurs during these types of games is always fun. I like the group of guys I game with and these types of games are few and far between, so I can always "take one for the team" as it were. It's not that I didn't care for Fire and Fury - it's actually a really cool game, it's just that it doesnt scale well for more than 4 guys or so.

So there ya have it, my take on why I love (for the most part), miniature games. They aren't perfect - though some do come real close for me, they are open to rules lawyering - though often it's unavoidable due to the nature of the game, the look absolutely fantastic - no denying that! and they provide a appropriate outlet for my creative tendencies that is satisfying and appealing.

How about you? Do you enjoy miniature games? Have you had the same kinds of experiences? Do they appeal to you for the same (or maybe different) reasons? Have you played with a miniature rules lawyer?

I wanna know!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Boardgamegeek Frustrations & My Solution

Time to vent...

If you have done any significant kind of searching on the internet for information on Boardgames, chances are you have run across - which is quite simply the most comprehensive database and community concerning boardgames you will find.

Boardgamegeek (or BGG as we affectionately call it) has listing on over 25,000 boardgames. Each listing has the standard information like the name, publisher, year it was made, ect... but it also has pictures of the game and it's components, files you can download like FAQ's, player aids, player made variants, BGG member ratings and comments, links to related web sites, marketplace and eBay listings and much, much more. You can enter all the games you own into the database and keep track of them and how you much you like (ordislike) them. Looking for missing parts? There is a section for that. Need a rule interpretation? Look into the game's individual forums for your answer. Wanna trade away a game you no longer play? Click the "For Trade: box for that game in your collection. There is so much more too, I'm only hitting the tip of the iceberg here.

Anyways, the site has continually been growing and changing in the last 5 years. New features, new changes - all kinds of things to make the site better and better. BGG quickly became my "home" page years ago and up until recently, it's been the ONE page I'd check 5 or 6 times a day to see what's new. It was like gaming Nirvana.

Yes, I said was. What has changed you ask? Unfortunately, I'm afraid the site is becoming less and less useful as it becomes more and more overloaded by the continually increasing demand on it's servers. Just this past weekend I tried continually to access the front page and the server gave me nothing but errors or "Database Busy" messages. Accessing the "Geek" this past month or so has continually been hit or miss with the constant "server not found" errors as well as experiencing painfully slow page loading - I'm telling you it feels like Im on a really bad dial-up service, and I know my DSL is faster than that!

I feel bad for the site's main administrator Scott Alden (or "Aldie" as he is affectionately known) as he is continually trying to keep things operational while still adding new features from the hundreds of member requests he gets weekly. He also has to continually be tweaking the existing ones to just keep everything running - yes just running at this point, I think the equipment is far too taxed to hope for "running smoothly".

Aldie quit his programming job to dedicate himself to BGG full time and his salary comes strictly from member support (of which far too few seem to do). He has slowly had to find other methods of generating income to pay for upgrading the hardware and adding new servers. The site is a behemoth at this point, too large for one guy (no matter how good he is!) to maintain and keep operational, yet I suspect there is not enough income to support him, let alone another dedicated employee. I think he must be very frustrated, as he is constantly against the 8-ball and appears to be losing a race to upgrade the hardware faster than the demand on it increases.

Maybe I'm over-reacting. Maybe it's just bad timing and once the new equipment is in, things will be ok again. I really hope that is the case. BGG is an extremely valuable resource for those in this hobby and losing it would be catastrophic. If the influx of new users continues as it has in the past and the percentage of supporters stays the same, I predict that it will be impossible to keep up with the demands of it's members under the present system of membership, there just wont be enough money to do so.

So what's a guy to do?

How can Aldie save his baby?

I think it's time for Draconian measures...

If you aren't a supporter of the Geek through a minimum $25 donation, you can't have full access to BGG.


New users who stumble across BGG through Google or somewhere else will only get to see the (as yet to be created) simplified game entry pages. You'll be able to search and find any game you want, but, you'll only see the basic information, a description, a rating or two and a few pictures. THAT'S IT.

If you can't fork over $25 bucks then you don't get access to the forums, you can't get to the marketplace, you can't have geekbuddies (friends whose opinions and comments you value and can track), you can't collect Geekgold (the site's funny money used to buy badges and avatars), you can't block any ads and most of all, you can't make comments and suggestions for more features, since you haven't paid for any of the existing ones.

$25 bucks is VERY Cheap for what the site provides and if everyone was a supporter, there would be a lot fewer problems, as money wouldn't be an issue. Aldie (and Derk too come to think of it) DESERVE to make a great living doing this, as it is - like any other great invention, something that filled a void that nobody knew existed.

BGG has a LOT of members. I'd say that there must be at least 10-15k members out of the upwards of 50k unique people that visit the site (per month), that would be willing to pay to make things better. At $25 a pop, 15 thousand members is $325,000 dollars a year. The wayI see it Aldie and Derkshould be pulling in 100k each, leaving 125k for equipment. It's that simple.

The truth of the matter is, the other 35k or so that come to BGG each month really don't care too much about how the menu's work, or if they can customize modules or not. Give them a 30 day free trial membership to see if they want to keep it. You wont keep everyone, but should that matter? I have many gamer friends that are heavily into games who only come to BGG once in a blue moon. When they do come here, they could care less about how many columns the game pages have or whether or not their post was moved to another forum.

They just want the site to load quickly like it should when they click on it.

Like me.

So, these things may not happen this year, or even the next. But when these changes are made, just remember where you heard it suggested first.

Long live the Geek!

(And special thanks to Aldie and Derk for bringing the Geek to life and making it what it is today).

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How to Make a Gamer - A Work in Progress

It's always somewhat amusing to me to see how people react when they find out I like to play games. I'm sure they think I mean kid's games - at least until I explain what kind of games I'm talking about. I always use it as a way to see if I can get another person into playing some of these great games and further grow the hobby. Just today, I was at Fed Ex sending some appraisal files to the home office. The lady behind the counter and I always chat for a few minutes and I mentioned that I had gone to Tahoe over the weekend to spend time with the family. After being surprised that we didnt go skiing, she asked what we did all weekend. The conversation continued on like this...

"Well, we watched movies, went sledding, played a lot of games... just kind of hung out as a family."

"Games? You mean like Monopoly or Life?"

"Well, not exactly. I like a lot of Euro-games that you probably have not heard of, but you'd most likely enjoy if you had played one."

"What's a Euro-game? Do you have to speak another language or something? "

"No, a Euro-game is kind of an overall name that applies to the style of games that I play. Unlike a typical American game where you roll a die, move your token and do whatever it says on the space you land on, Euro-games offer you many choices each turn on what you can do and how you can work towards winning."

*Her eyes glaze over*
"That sounds complicated."
*Slight pause as she thinks about it*
Are they any fun?"

"They are a LOT more fun than your typical Monopoly or Life game. They just work a little differently. Usually the other players have something to do when it's not their turn. There is a lot more interaction and they are pretty easy to get into. I've converted most of my family and friends into fairly serious game players with them."


"Yep. They are really addicting - but in a good way. My sister and her husband started playing these a few years back when they would visit. Now she has a fairly large collection of favorites and is always letting me know of games she has seen and asks my opinion of them. Five years ago, you couldn't have forced her to play a game of Monopoly. My brother on the other hand, actively hated these games. He'd make comments as we'd play along the lines of Why are you wasting your time?' or That looks stupid!"

*Slight bemusement, but still a bit wary*
"So you didn't convert him I take it?"

*I laugh*
"No, he finally caved in and tried one after a few glasses of a good Merlot. Now he'll try almost anything and he actually went looking to buy a few for himself. He was really touched to get a game from me for Christmas."

*She cracks up at this, but definately was curious now*
"You're kidding. That's really cool."
*She thinks about it for a second and adds*
"My kids don't like playing games with me, I'm way too cutthroat with them - especially in Monopoly!"

*Both of us laugh*

"It's no fun to get eliminated in a game and have to wait for everyone else to finish. Maybe you should try one of my games."

"I'd have no idea what to do."

"Do you like playing Rummy?"

"The card game? Yeah, it's a lot of fun."

*Pulling out a pen to write some stuff down*
"Go to this store, and buy this game."

*Reading my note*
"Ticket to Ride? That's a game?"

"Yes, and a great one for you and the family. It's easy to learn and I'm sure you will enjoy it. It won't cost anymore than taking the family to a movie and you'll have the game to play again and again."

*Smiling brightly*
"Ok, thanks. I may just get this."

And I walked out. I don't know if she'll go get it or not. I hope so, but it might take a bit more persuasion. She was interested - especially after hearing that nobody gets eliminated during the game. I've decided to make her my next vict...errr... project.

We shall see.

I think this experience kinda sums up the way that most Americans feel about games. All they know is Monopoly or LIFE or some trivia game. The thought that there might be something else out there is intriguing. It's a tough nut to crack, but I have converted nearly everyone I know that had never heard of a Euro-game into a Boardgame geek.

Like me.
By the's a picture of the game I recommended... Ticket to Ride.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Do you invest in the Stock Market? Do you like Movies? Have I got a game for you!

I thought I'd start off by giving you a "free game".


It's something a little unusual and maybe calling it a game is a bit of a stretch, but the truth is, it's a lot of fun, it combines two of my favorite pastimes (Games & Movies) and it's addicting - which is always the sign of a good game.

I'm talking about the Hollywood Stock Exchange. It's a really odd combination of movies, movie stars and investing in the Stock Market. The premise is real similar to the actual Stock Exchange in Wall Street that you are most likely familiar with. You buy stocks in indivual movies or movie stars (actors and actresses) and hope that they go up in value instead of down. It's that simple.

(I'll leave out the part about the obsession with wondering how much "money" you've made and how you'll be checking it multiple times a day to see how well (or how poorly) you are doing!)

You simply need to click on the link at the right and sign up for a free account. Don't worry about spam or them selling your name or anything, like I said, I've been doing this for a looooong time and it's never been anything but fun. Pick a good username and be sure to change your password to something you'll remember right away as the one they give you will easily be forgotten.

Once you have an account, you'll get a gift of $2,000,000 to start investing with. You simply search for a movie title and when you find one you like you can purchase up to 50,000 shares of it.

Moviestocks come in a few catagories:

Concepts - Typically, they are drawn from whispers and rumors about a "new" project. These are pitches or ideas which are not in active development, and may not ever be turned into real movies.

Development - This is the second phase in the life of a Moviestock. Development begins once a project has attracted interest. Producers commission a script, talents are attached, and funds are being spent. There is no guarantee that the movie will be made simply because it has reached the development stage, but it definitely has a good chance.

Production - This is the third phase in the life of a film. Moviestocks that fall into this category are currently being filmed and has an excellent chance of reaching a theater near you.

Wrap - This is the fourth phase in the life of a Moviestock. Movies that have been "wrapped" have completed filming and post-production (effects, editing) is taking place. MovieStocks that are wrapped for three years without a release date will cash out at with a value of zero!

Release - This is the final phase in the life of a Moviestock. Movies in the release phase are currently in theaters. This is where traders put their money where their mouth is and find out what the buzz was about.

Of course, the earlier you buy a Moviestock, the cheaper it will be and the more potential profit you will earn. Then again, it could tank before it ever gets off the drawing board and then you are out of luck! (I've lost 1.7 million alone on the never to see the light of day sequel... Spaceballs 2!)

Moviestocks get put on "hold" the weekend of their release and all trading is suspended while the HSX (Hollywood Stock Exchange) awaits the Box Office returns late Sunday night. Moviestocks usually get adjusted to the rate of 2.8 times their box office take for the opening weekend.

For example, Basic Instinct 2 opened this past wekend and here are the numbers:

Basic Instinct 2 (BASC2) This is the HSX stock name.
Halted: H$19.73 (This was what it was selling for when the price was halted on Friday morning)
Weekend: $3.2M (This was the abyssmal weekend box office take)
Adjusted: H$8.96 (This was what the Moviestock adjusted to on Sunday night)

If you owned 50,000 shares on Friday, by Sunday you had lost H$ 538,500! (That H$ is HSX dollars by the way).

The fun is in trying to pick the winners and avoid the losers. Of course everyone owns shares of Spiderman 3 (currently being sold for H$203.16 per share, but not everyone can say they bought it for H$95.50 like I did!!)

The movie Starbonds work differently and there are other types of investments that you can make too. The HSX site is a real community as there are forums, reviews, discussions, market analysis tools, ect to help you get the most out of your time there. It really is a one of a kind website that will keep you ahead of your friends when it comes to hearing about the latest movies in the works in a real fun and interactive way.

Everyone starts with the same $2,000,000... the trick is to make it grow! (I'm currently at $343,000,000 and still going!).

Check it out, you'll have some fun.