Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DnD: Digital Game Table Update . . . Update

After exchanging some e-mails with Shane DeSeranno, it was determined that the IR-pen I made using parts from Radio Shack was simply not strong enough to be seen by the Wii-mote's camera through the surface of the table. I wound up getting a MUCH stronger IR-pen off of ebay and it works great! The new pen is 5v versus the 1.2v of the LED I was using and uses three watch batteries versus the single 'N'-cell battery I had.

I also tried using shorter table legs - going from 14" to 8" - in an attempt to make the surface viewable while sitting on the couch. While this may have improved tracking for the Wii-mote, the bulky, 8-yr old Proxima projector looks really blurry. I'm going to have to keep the 14" legs at least until I get a newer/better projector that can throw an image with a shorter minimal distance (assuming it's even possible). Of course, the shorter the table, the small the projected area (regardless of resolution), so it's a trade off.

In other news, the LCD screen on my Cannon Powershot A630 is beyond my ability to repair. It still works as a camera, but I have no way of accessing the menus or reviewing images. The problem actually lies the wires leading up to the screen, and not the screen itself - one of tiny wires got pulled out of a connector that plugs into the screen. If anyone knows how to repair this, I'm happy to get some instruction.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

40K: Battle Report - Dark Eldar vs. Demon/Witchhunters, 1500 pts.

I am so weak-willed.

I have said multiple times to multiple people that I've shelved my Dark Eldar until we get a new Codex. I managed to stand by that for many moons - not so hard to do, as busy as I am. But I found myself home from work today and decided to make a new army list. Having accomplished that and feeling a great deal of cabin fever by dinner time, I decided I wanted to take it for a spin at my LGS.

I wish I'd stuck by my convictions . . . *sigh* Anyway, here is the new list:

Archon (S.Field, C.Drugs, P.Grenades, Animus, T.Helm) - [375]
- Incubi Retinue (x 6 Incubi; 1 x Blaster, P.Grenades)
- Raider (Lance)

Wyches (x 9 Wyches, W.Weapons, P.Grenades) - [228]
- Succubus (Agonizer, P.Grenades, S.Pistol)
- Raider (Lance)

Raider Squad (x 9 Warriors, 1 x Blaster, 1 x S.Cannon) - [173]
- Sybarite (Agonizer, S.Pistol)
- Raider (Horrorfex, Lance)

Warrior Squad (x 14 Warriors, 1 x Blaster, 1 x S.Cannon) - [176]
- Sybarite (Agonizer, S.Pistol)

2 x Sniper Squads ( x 10 Warriors, 2 x Lances) - [200]
3 x Ravagers (1 x Lance, 2 x Disentegrator) - [345]

Total Points: 1497

Here is my opponent's list, to the best of my memory:

Grand Master Grey Knight
- Grey Knight Retinue (x 5 Knights, 2 x Psycannons, 3 x Storm Bolters)

- Celestine Retinue (5 x Sisters, ? Multi-melta, ? Psycannon)
- Preacher (Eviscerator)
- Sister Superior (Eviscerator)
- Land Raider (Dedicated Transport for Grey Knights? Started outside the LR, then embarked)

- Stormtrooper Retinue (2 x Plasma guns, 1 x Meltagun)
- Chimera (Multilaser, H.Bolter)

Stormtroopers (at least 1 x Meltagun)
- Chimera (Multilaster, H.Bolter)

2 x Penitent Engines (H.Flamer, CCWeapon)

I won the side/deployment roll and opted to let my opponent deploy and go first. We were using a lava-themed board, but opted to ignore the deadly terrain and treat it more like . . . very bright grass (sorry, that's the best I could come up with).

Imperial Deployment:
He set up in a refused flank on my right: Land Raider in the center of the table with the Celestines behind it, ready to jump inside. Stormtroopers in both Chimeras - one on the extreme flank, the other between the Raider and the first Chimera; The Grey Knights were in the middle of the table behind the Raider and the Penitent Engines were between the three tanks.

Dark Eldar Deployment:
I put my transports on the left side of the table, my Ravagers on the right (two behind, one in cover) and tried to cover the firing lanes in the center with my footsloggers, gravitating towards the right side of the table.

This is where I show you the crappy pictures taken with my cell phone - however, I forgot that, in addition to taking the picture, one must also elect to 'save' it.

Turn 1: Demon/Witchhunters
Inquisitor Chimera and Pentient Engine 1 moved up right flank toward the Ravagers, while the Stormtrooper Chimera and Penitent Engine 2 came up towards the footsloggers. The Celestines jumped into the "dedicated" Land Raider and the Grey Knights moved forward into cover.
Inquisitor Chimera shook the only visible Ravager with its Multilaser; Stormtrooper Chimera killed two in the Warrior Squad.

Turn 1: Dark Eldar
The Raiders move 12" toward the Grey Knights while the footslogging Warrior Squad marches forward and two unshaken Ravagers move to the right flank while the shaken one retreats behind the hill it started on.
Out of 9 Lance Shots, 4 Heavy Disentegrator Blasts and 3 Blaster Shots to all his tanks, I managed to shake the Inquisitor Chimera once. That's it.

Turn 2: Demon/Witchhunters
The Grey Knights get comfortable while the Chimeras roll on and the Penitent Engines try to run forward as fast as they can and end up right on the edge of flamer range. Land Raider moves up and unloads the Celestines right in front of the centrally located Sniper Squad 1
The Celestines mow six of the Snipers down and cause them to break and run out of assault range (ha!). Penitent Engine 2 levels its heavy flamer on the Warrior Squad, killing just enough to make them fall back out of charge range, but not enough to keep them from regrouping (double ha!). The Land Raider blows the Warrior Raider out of the sky, wrecking it - fortunately, the Warriors mounted on it were unharmed and disembarked right beside the Celestines, who began to look really nervous.
Penitent Engine 1 has just enough range to get into assault against the nearest Ravager. 6 attacks and 3 hits later, it is left stunned.

Turn 2: Dark Eldar
The remaining Raiders make a 12" bee-line for the Grey Knights. Sniper Squad 1 flees off the board while the Warrior Squad rallies (but can't move). Sniper Squad 2 sits tight and the two unstunned Ravagers draw a bead on Penitent Engine 1.
2 Dark Lance shots against the Grey Knights are wasted, as are most of the Splinter Cannon shots against the Celestines from the downed Raider Squad, the blaster manages to claim a victim, however. The rallied Warrior squad manages to shake the Land Raider with a single penetrating Blaster shot, while Sniper Squad 2 destroys Penitent Engine 2. The two Ravagers manage, with 2 Lance shots and 4 Heavy Disentegrator blasts to immobilize Penitent Engine 1 and destroy one of its arms.
Raider Squad assaults the Celestines. They loose combat by 3 Wounds, but pass Leadership (finally, my low rolling is a good thing >_>). Penitent Engine 1 continues to wail on the foremost Ravager, but fails to damage it.

Starting turn 3 - I finally remembered to save the pictures.

Turn 3: Hunters
The Inquisitor Chimera moves up behind Penitent Engine 1 as the Stormtrooper Chimera bears down on Sniper Squad 2. The Land Raider spins around, targeting the Wych Raider. The Celestines are locked in combat and Penitent Engine 1 is immobilized, so neither can move.
The Land Raider blows the Wyches out of the sky. Surprisingly only 3 Wyches are lost; not surprisingly, 4 more Wyches are annihilated by the Grey Knights. However, 3 remain standing and pass their Leadership and Pinning tests (yay for low rolls!). Apparently, excited by all the action, the Land Raider's Machine Spirit decides to take a shot at the Incubi Raider and glances it enough to immobilize it - I didn't know it could do that, but there you have it. :-/

The Stormtrooper Chimera uses its Multilaser and Heavy Bolter to thin the Warrior Squad after deciding the my Lance-weilding Sniper Squad posed no threat - indeed, none of my guns (especially the big, expensive ones) proved to be much more than an annoyance at best. Finally, the Inquisitor Chimera downs one of the Ravagers (the unpainted one, naturally).
Lead by the Cannoness and backed up by the Evicerator-weilding Preacher and Sister Superior, the Celestines (ability to re-roll failed To-Wound rolls?)
mop up the remaining Raider Squad and consolidate towards the footslogging Warriors.

Turn 3: Dark Eldar
Movement:The Archon disembarks with his Incubi and moves towards the Grey Knights, along with the remaining 3 Wyches (who rolled 12" assault for their drugs). The surviving members of the Warrior Squad line up against the Celestines and the Ravagers reposition out of flamer range of the immobilized Penitent Engine, but still targeting the Inquisitor Chimera - one moves into cover back up on the hill, the other shifts back slightly.
A single Blaster shot from the Incubi against the Knights is shrugged off. Unfortuantely, so are most of the Splinter Cannon and Blaster shots from the Warrior squad against the Celestines. The hilltop Ravager does manage to pop the Inquisitor Chimera with its Lance, but is not allowed to use its Disentegrators against the survivors ("The unit inside is a different target from the transport" - gee, if only DE had the Machine Spirit rule. Sorry, I'm being a poor sport). Fortuantely, they are pinned and can do nothing next turn.
Finally, the DE get their due! The Archon buffs up with +1 A and Re-roll misses (taking an OD Wound in the process >_<) and leads the charge against the Grey Knights. He kills one Knight. The Wyches follow-up, getting some hits in, but their puny S 3 can't scratch the Terminator Armor and the Succubus can't seem to get her Agonizer working properly. The Incubi, however, step up to the plate and mow down all but the Grand Master and one of his lackeys, loosing a single member of their squad in the counterattack. Unfortuantely (or perhaps fortunately?) they stand firm in the face of overwhelming odds. The remaining Warriors assaulting the Celestines, however, were not so lucky. They quickly succumbed to mastercrafted power wounds and re-rolled Eviscerator attacks. The victors consolidated towards Sniper Squad 2.

Turn 4: Hunters

The Stormtrooper Chimera turned sideways and disgorged the troops from its bowels. The Cannoness, Sister Superior and Preacher (along with a Celestine or two) stalked the last warriors of Sniper Squad 2. The Land Raider, unable to shoot the Incubi or Wyches still locked in close-combat, spun back around. The Inquisitor and his Stormtrooper retinue remain pinned.
One of the Chimera Stormtroopers destroys the hilltop Ravager with his Meltagun - the resultant blast taking out a lone Stormtrooper. His Chimera, meanwhile, rapidly thins the ranks of Sniper Squad 2 with its Multilaser and Heavy Bolter. The Land Raider lobs a volley at the remaining Ravager and destroys it, despite any cover from intervening units.
The Celestine squad charges the surviving snipers and clears the table of any remaining Dark Eldar Warriors. The Archon and Wyches fail to kill the remaining two Grey Knights, but the Incubi make short work of them. They consolidate into the cover on the hill.

Turn 4 - after my opponent's Movement phase, but before his Shooting phase.

Turn 4: Dark Eldar
I had my Archon (2 Wounds left) and 5 Incubi, along with 3 Wyches left on the table. My opponent had his Land Raider, 1 Chimera, a unit of Stormtroopers, the remnants of his Celestine squad (1 wound left on the Cannoness), and an Inquisitor with his Stormtrooper retinue.

Realizing that I had nothing left that could scratch the Land Raider, and determining that I was too far away to make it into CC with the Stormtroopers before being shot to pieces, I conceded the game. (My Archon and his entourage would've run off my opponent's table edge, had he insisted we keep playing)

The game is conceeded - also on the table is the Inquisitor and his squad along the upper edge.

  • I wonder if I wouldn't be better off with an all-CC army? My shooting/damage rolls are a joke. I'll never have to worry about being accused of using loaded dice - except against myself, perhaps.
  • How does the Animus Vitae work in 5th edition? My opponent allowed it to count for killing a foe in CC (at my suggestion), but I don't know how DE can take slaves if there is no longer any rules for Sweeping Advance.
  • Machine Spirit is bull****, man.
  • I need to read up on a character having a dedicated transport - it just seems off that instead of using it, he wonders off, leaving the 'dedicated' vehicle for another squad.*
  • Overheard quote of the evening: "I'd like to scratchbuild Ork vehicles, but my work is just too nice - I don't know how to make something look that bad intentionally" - this was actually the same guy who, upon seeing my table being used in a local gaming tournament said "It's nice, but it's too flat. I like to have some elevation and terrain on my tables."
  • Second overheard quote of the evening (same guy): "Only buy the GW sets that say 'made in UK' on them, because those are based on original molds. The second generation models cast in the US are lousy and have less well-defined detail."
* EDIT: I originally thought the thought the Inquisitor had the dedicated transport, but in retrospect I think it was actually the Grand Master Grey Knight.

Monday, June 22, 2009

DnD: Digital Game Table - Update

This weekend I tried connecting the Wii-mote to the computer using Smoothboard. No problems there (the pop-up for the unregistered version is annoying, though) and the pen worked when using it on the monitor with the Wii-mote about 1.5' to 2' away.

I did notice, however, that before long, the N-cell alkaline battery on the pen started getting really hot, really quick. Not being an experienced electrician, I had combined a 1.2v LED with a 1.5v battery - too much voltage for the LED. So I went to Radio Shack to find a resistor. Sadly, the guy working there was no help ("I'm not an electrician, just a dude with a drawer full of resistors." - seriously, he said that).

In doing some reading on the 'net before hand, I saw a post somewhere saying that 75 ohms should be fine. They didn't have a 75 ohm resistor, so I purchased some 100 ohm (1/2 watt 5% tolerance) resistors instead - better safe than sorry, right? It eliminated the heat issue with the battery and I could still see the light on my cell-phone cam (remember, IR light can't be seen by humans). The question is: what if it's too much resistance? Will it reduce the intensity of the IR-LED? EDIT: I double-checked, the resistors are 100 ohm, NOT 100K ohm.

Anyway, I taped the Wii-mote to the projector, right above the lens and aimed at the mirror. Unfortunately, I could not pick up the light from the surface of the table. I think the white protective film I left on one side of the 1/4" plexiglass may be too thick for the light to shine through, but I'm not sure. My cell phone camera can pick up a faint spot of light, but I have no way of knowing intense it needs to be for the Wii-mote - obviously more than it is currently. I need to test it on the clear plexiglass and with other translucent substances - such as tracing paper - to verify. I may also want to get a smaller resistor for the pen.

Trying to figure out where I screwed up . . . *sigh* I always hate this part.

Here are two links I've found that have made me a bit more resistor-savvy:
- Electronics 101 - Basics for those who want to make their own IR-Pen
- LED calculator: current limiting resistor value

* Sorry for the lack of pics lately, my digital camera is on the fritz again - something else I have to take apart and fix . . . again. >_<

Thursday, June 18, 2009

40K: Glue Then Paint or Paint Then Glue?

I am so close to having all my Black Reach Slugga Boyz painted, I can taste it! That's 36 Boyz, plus a Warboss, plus a Big Mek.

Well, when I say 'painted,' I'm really just talking about the Scorched Brown I'm using for the leather parts. And when I refer to a 'Slugga Boy,' it's really just the torso and base - the gun arm and heads are not attached. They're not even primed yet. I still have to clean the flashing and bore the barrels on 8 or 9 arms . . .

Y'see, I've gotten into this habit of painting nearly all my models before I glue them together. Since I'm so hung up on details, I find that I can reach nearly every nook and cranny of the model much easier before I glue everything together. My poor Blood Angels have been wondering around without guns and backpacks for years now (I keep meaning to get back to them, honest).

The problem, especially with horde armies like the Orks, is that this approach is taking much longer to finish. Sure the end result will look better, but on those odd occasions where someone wants to actually pick up and inspect one of my models, it's almost always one of the conversions or an HQ. So, is this extra time really worth it? (That's rhetorical, you don't have to answer)

And I haven't even address the matter of excess glue can mess up or completely wreck a part of the model that's already been painted.

My mantra has been "just the flats," meaning that I just want to get the base layer of paint on - maybe a wash, then I'll glue them together and finish up with any drybrushing and highlights that need to be done. But should the rank-and-file need much more than a basecoat and a wash? I noted in the Games Workshop painting article for the Black Reach Box Set, that was about all they did with their Orks.

Am I the only one crazy enough to take this approach? Does everyone else glue everything together before slapping on the paint? I know those 40k-ers only interested in playing will glue first and ask questions later, but what about those of you who won't play until a model (or even a whole army) is 'table-top presentable.'

Saturday, June 13, 2009

40K: Vacation Photos as Inspiration . . . I hope

We interrupt this lull for a post!

This week we did a lot of traveling through Baltimore's Inner Harbor, Wilmington Delaware, and lower New Jersey (ugh, see below). One of the sights of the Inner Harbor was the USS Torsk, a WWII submarine that is now on display to the public. I took a bunch of pictures of the interior in the hopes of finding something inspiring that I might (at some point) be able to use for 40K. More to come as I get them uploaded.

Friday, June 5, 2009

DnD Project: Building a Digital Game Table, Pt. 3

In which a table is stained and a projector is mounted . . . sort of.

I was wracking my brain for a good way to mount the projector inside the table. I considered building a mount and looked for tripods and stands, but none of it really seemed like a good solution, especially since I don't plan on using the same projector forever.

My wife suggested bungee cords - which I initially dismissed as I didn't want the hooks scratching up the edges of the table and preventing the plexiglass from lying flat. Of course, bungee cords were exactly the cheap and easy means of holding the projector I wound up using. I guess it pays to listen to your wife . . . sometimes (love you, honey! :-P). My contribution to the solution was the loop (bracket?) from a couple of cheap hasps wide enough to hold the hooks.

I don't have the receipt with me at the moment, but each hasp was approximately $1.80 and the wide, flat bungee cords (individual pairs of these) I used were just under $4.00 for a pair at Wal-Mart. Initially, I got them 40" long, thinking I would need it for the behemoth of a projector we have, but it turns out that the 30" cords work better.

It's probably evident from the pictures that I attempted to stain and seal the table, as well. I had some leftover Minwax Polyshade from my 40K table, so I thought I use it. Bad idea. The stuff is runny but sets up thick and goop-y, so you have to make sure that you apply just the right amount or you'll have dark runs - especially on edges and corners. It also kills brushes unless you have mineral spirits to clean up with - which I don't.

Also, the stain does not take on the Liquid Nail that got smeared around when assembling the table. As a result, there are light-colored blemishes here and there on the exterior, mainly along the seams. Fortunately, this kind of project doesn't have to be 'showroom perfect.'

Finally, throw in an 18" x 24" mirror ($10.00 from Wal-mart) which will lay flat on the floor and we're ready to roll! From here on out, it's a matter of getting the software synched up and building encounters in MapTool.

At some point, I will probably add fold-down trays to the sides and maybe even some trim to pretty it up, but we need to start saving up for a new house. Priorities!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Video Games: One Man(-child)'s Obsession

Much to the delight of my long-suffering wife, I have decided to revisit and conquer all those classic NES games that defeated and confounded my impressionable elementary school self back in the 8-bit glory days.

I have already beaten Final Fantasy and Metal Gear and now playing Zelda II (currently in the Swamp Palace) and Rockman - that's Megaman 1 for the uninitiated out there (stuck on Elecman's stage).

I'm not above Googling walkthroughs when I get stuck, but I have taken a solemn vow unto myself to not use cheat codes for any reason. I'm also gravitating towards games that allow you to save your progress, rather than having to run through the whole thing in a single sitting.

Here is the list of games I plan on eventually getting around to, and where/how they confounded me as a kid:
  • Mike Tyson's Punchout - never got past Super Macho Man
  • Bionic Commando - hopefully my grown-up fine motor skillz will help me master swinging
  • Ninja Gaiden - I may have beaten this one before, but I can't remember
  • Metroid - a weekend rental was never enough time to beat this
  • Kid Icarus - another rental
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - so. freaking. hard.
  • Double Dragon II - I seem to remember ninjas and helicopters, and not much else
There are other games I tried to play, but I'm having trouble getting the roms to work with nintendulator (maybe I need a better emulator?):
  • Castlevania
  • Blaster Master
Other games I didn't beat and probably won't mess with:
  • Karnov
  • Ys
  • Batman
  • Bomberman
  • Bubble Bobble
  • Tetris - does this even have an ending?