Thursday, 31 May 2012

Squigfest Update

Good Thursday everyone,

So I wanted to give a quick update on this Saturday.

Thanks to a wonderful release by Ratty on the Wyrd boards I have printed out a number of reference cards for Squigfest.

I have also made a backing for these cards, and they will be given to anyone who takes plays a game or a demo of Malifaux, however I will not show this yet so to keep an element of mistery as to the event.

One thing I will show off however is my current supply of Cardstock buildings I've built:

As you can see from the folded boards I have printed off roads, 1 large building, 2 medium and 4 small with a couple of accessories here and there.

It's not enough for a packed table but more than enough for a demo game.

I'll probably be using this for the demo board, and my New Fairbank (with Chapel Hill) as my full game board.

On related news, last night I submitted an application to become a Wyrd henchman. I hope they accept, but I'm not getting my hopes up - mainly because I don't have any direct ties to a hobby store (because there are none in WGC or it's neighbouring towns).

And one last thing:

Last week my amazing wife painted the above. This is her first ever attempt at painting a model and there are certain parts of this model that I am jealous of: the straight lines and vibrant colours of the corset for example. After nearly 20 years of painting, these are techniques that I have never mastered.

I also love the home made dice and the bright coloured accessories on her home made base.

I just can't wait to play her entire crew when it's done.

So that's it from me today. With hope I'll be running a semi commentary of Squigfest on twitter, so keep an eye out on Saturday for #Squigfest2012

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Tuesday, 29 May 2012


Good Tuesday everyone!

Yesterday I promised good news, and so today I bring it!

Roughly 2-3 years after the last one, I hereby announce Squigfest 2012 to be held on Saturday 02/06/12!

For those who don't know, Squigfest is a 1-2 day long event, filled with friendly games and some laughs.

As always, a little bit of history:

Squigfest was first conceived back in the tail end of the 1990s. Games Workshop had released GorkaMorka and me and my friends were loving it. We decided it would be imba cool to have a GorkaMorka festival between us, 1-2 days of games and fun.

Of course we were still teenagers with little to no disposable income and that idea fizzled out to nothing.

Fast forward to 2007, and it strikes me that we really should organise Squigfest for real! Of course by then GorkaMorka had fallen by the wayside and at the time been replaced by Magic: The Gathering. But the concept was still there, a couple of days of relaxation and games.

To date I've only hosted 2 events, the first was BYOG (Bring Your Own Game) but in the end we just played MTG. The second year was one day down a pub with lots of mini games of MTG and a mini drafted tourney.

Again, time has passed and things have changed, I can't just drop things and go for a few days like I could those years ago.

That said, there is still no reason why this year can't be the best Squigfest ever!

The focus this year is on Malifaux, for me it's the obvious choice considering it's my main table based hobby, so I've been busy over the last couple of days building more paper craft buildings, and I do indeed believe that I'm ready to showcase my very own 'streets of Malifaux'board. - I'll post some pictures closer to the time.

AS before it's looking to be a small affair but one that should with hope be fun, with 1-2 boards available (1 inside, and the other outside, weather permitting) and a lunch time BBQ I'm hoping it'll be fun for all!

And so on that note, wish me luck, and be sure to follow on twitter, @drloxley #Squigfest2012

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Monday, 28 May 2012

The Adventures of Geek Dad: Memories

Good evening all!

Well I have some big news for everyone, but I'm afraid that will have to wait until tomorrow.

In the meantime I thought I would share with you a few memories from over a year ago.

You see just before giving the Moo her bath and bed, we spent some time together encouraging her to crawl, she's so close now! I can't wait to see her make that first move forward!

Anyway, after and while running my bath I thought I would have a look in my 'dad book' and see if it has any advice for this stage of development. I then discovered that after the first 6 weeks the book ends and leaves you to fend for yourself.

That said, flicking through it's hallowed pages, I was flooded with memories of the first time I read it, which of course would have been over a year ago.

Now the funny thing is, I always wanted a child, a youngling to teach my hobbies and tutor the merits of Cameron's Aliens over Scott's Alien, but when the news hit, that one cold March morning, I remember my reaction exactly: ...fuck...

Like I said, I had always wanted a child, and we had been 'trying' so to speak, but that news hit me like a tonne of bricks.

I also remember my walk into work that morning. It was the first time I think I ever genuinely prayed to a god (the second time being shortly after getting home the day Moo was born).

The prayer was a simple one, to give me the strength to be a good father and a better husband than I had been to date.

I would like to point out that I am not a religious man, I think that there is a chance that -a- god exists, but there is just as much of a chance that a god doesn't - and if one does, there is more of a chance that our minds are too primitive to truly understand it. But at this time I was willing to go out on a limb.

You see for the first time ever in my life I was truly scared, but it wasn't for me, myself and I. It was for the unborn child that my wife was holding.
- the irony is that I now know, the fact I had that fear, the fact I was scared for the little Moo, that was the sign that I would do my best to be a good dad, and no matter what I would not let her down (if I could help it).

But at the same time, I am a man, and when a man gets frightened he retreats into his cave and as the weeks passed on my wife noticed me getting more and more withdrawn.

We tried talking it through, but as far as I was concerned, she didn't know how I felt, she couldn't because she was a woman.

Now I don't mean that in a sexist sort of way, but instead that it was the same way that I couldn't fully understand how she felt because I'm a man. We can try and learn and be supportive but there's only so much.

It was then we went shopping for a dad-book for me, and then we found it.

This book was written in a non-assuming manner with some humour to boost, but even more importantly, it was written for men, by a man!

This book taught me so much, most importantly that everything I was afraid of, everything I was scared and concerned about, that's what every man feels.

- that niggle in the back of your head to run? Normal!
- the mourning for your 'free' life? Normal
- the self loathing for having these thoughts and feelings? N.O.R.M.A.L!

The irony of course? This was everything my wife had been saying all along!

But what was this book:

Sure it's pretty damn useless once your kid is past 6 weeks, but up to that point, it's a freaking life saver!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Battle of the Price Plans

Good Thursday all!

Today I'm here to discuss with you about the on going war between games, be them war games or video games, and my wallet.

So I read earlier today a tweet from someone comparing wargame miniature prices to video games, and how over priced things like the recent Diablo 3 is.

While I do believe the tweeter's argument is heavily flawed, stating that the price for only 7 hours of gameplay is a rip off, whereas I've been playing at least an hour or two every day for the past week, meaning I've already achieved around 14 hours out of the game and I'm still on Act I.

But anyway, I do believe that the tweeter has a point, for those who bought the game without a WoW Annual Pass, the game costs £40!

If we take a look at other big releases on PC there is a trend as there has always been for between £35-£30 for week of release. Then along came games such as Modern Warfare, and £40+ is not unheard of.

Personally I blame the consoles. I'm not saying that the machines are rubbish or anything like that, I personally own a PS3 and a Wii, and countless older generation machines. My gaming experience first started on consoles with the Commodore 128 and then followed by the Sega Mega Drive (or Sega Genesis for those across the pond), but for as long as I can remember console games have always been £45 on week of release.

Honestly I don't know where the justification for the extra £10 over PC comes from, perhaps it's for the luxury of never needing to calibrate your game like you do with PC.

But let's not focus purely on video games here! I honestly believe that wargaming is just as guilty.

Now you can't talk about wargames price plans without bringing up Games Workshop. Let's say you were a new gamer and you wanted to get into 40k, not including the additional extras, in order to have a basic battle force, I used to play Tyranids, so let's use them, this is the following pricing requirement:

Warhammer 40k: £55
Codex Tyranids: £18
Tyranid Battleforce: £63
Total: £136

This is not including your choice of leader and special units, plus paints and assembly materials. All in all your easily looking at £200-£250, and I don't even know how big that army would be.

With this in mind I would say that Games Workshop are the Activision of the Wargames world. They're the ones who think it's acceptable to put a heafty price tag on everything they do and continuously drop the quality of the output.

But that's not the case with every company.

Let's compare the slew of indie/part indie games getting released on Steam every few weeks: take Audiosurf for example, where at week of release was looking at £10! Or the many games released by Valve which are either £20- or free to play.

I would compare this to Wyrd.

For a game of Malifaux for a generic crew your looking at the following start up costs:

Malifaux Rules book: £9
Fate Deck: £4.50
Starter Box Set: £24.30
Totems: £9.00
Blister of Minions:£9.90

Total: £56.70

That's easily over £150+ cheaper to have a functioning crew.

With this in mind, I call out to all gamers, be them of the war or video type. Let's please stop this constant to and fro'ing!

We all have our hobbies we all like and love, and like wise, we've all been F'd in the A at some point by a fat-cat producer, be them Games Workshop or Activision, they both want us to bend over and empty our wallets.

So let's stand united, not divided, and tell these serial rapers "Yes we will let you anally rape us! And yes you can keep taking our money (because let's face it, we love what they make/produce) but we will do so as brothers! You can take our money, dignity and self respect, but you can never take our nerdrage!"

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Terror Rises (Again)

Good Wednesday everyone!

Yes it was only a matter of time until my article on Diablo3. I knew it, and you knew it.

Before hand however, let me take you back to 1996, sixteen years! I was then only twelve years old and my father had picked up a game for me to play on our PC. The PC would have been pretty new at the time, a Gateway2000 complete with cow-print mouse pad, 4Gigs of HDD space, 16mb of RAM, a P200 processor and on built 8mb Intel graphics chip. Believe it or not, at the time it was the shit!

So I loaded up this game, which was of course the original Diablo and made my first venture into Tristram and the hell below it.

I remember all the characters like they were real people, the town drunk, the bar woman, Cain, Wort the peg legged boy etc

I also remember how difficult the game was. Sure I was only 12, but it was difficult on a scale I've never come across again. Each level down to hell getting progressively more difficult with some truly memorable moments.

Who can forget the room filled with bloody bodies strung up on meat hooks? Opening the door to said room to the bellowing call FRESH MEAT! And then being chased by a rather bloody and horned fat dude called The Butcher.
- what's funny, despite all the times I died to him, and the ridiculous tactics my wife and I adopted to defeat this guy (more on that later) the thing I remember the most was his movement. It seemed he didn't have any knees when he walked, or should I say waddled. This gave him a very unthreatening appearance. If you can imagine an obese dude with horns duck-shuffling over to you at the speed of someone running, that's the image that we were presented with.

A number of years later Blizzard went on to release Diablo2, but unfortunately it was released at the same time as Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption, another top down, point and click game set in White Wolf's World of Darkness. A few years later I would pick up D2, and while I did enjoy it, I was glad I bought Vampire instead, and the game itself didn't really live up to the first Diablo for me.

So as you can see, with Blizz since releasing a number of near perfect games since and a mission statement to stay faithful to the franchise while also not recreating the Blizzard North work I had mixed feelings about how this game could go.

By now I'm sure you've all heard about the MMO style of DRM (requires a constant, always on Inet connection to play) and the launch week bugs (Error 75 and 37).

I'm not hear to talk about that. Most people (other than my father living in the backwater part of Wales) have a stable Internet connection that the DRM isn't such an issue and the errors and bugs have since been ironed out by the Blizz support team.

No instead I'm here to talk about the game itself.

So far I have made 3 characters, a barbarian, a demon hunter and as of last night, a warrior monk.

Out of these I would say that the demon hunter is by far my favourite. In Diablo I played the rogue (ranged, bow user) and this fills very nicely into that roll, the monk is also very fun, teleporting around, stun-punching demons while healing the damage dealt to me.

So far I have yet to progress far past the first proper boss, the Skeleton King (a boss from D1) and I have read that The Butcher makes a return later. This makes me happy! Currently this game is less a direct move forward, but instead a revisit to what made the first two games fun and unique, all the while doing away with annoying mechanics such as the scroll of town portal, and replacing it with an always available spell.

At this point I don't know if The Butcher will be as tough as he was in D1 (being about to kill you in two hits if he got into Melee with you) but I'm just glad to know he's back.

Of course no game is perfect. And D3 is no exception. I mentioned earlier about a curious tactic my wife and I had for the Butcher? Well when we played the game co-op about 8 years ago we found that neither of us could stand toe to toe with him and 'tank' him. And that the room he was in was always a stand alone room with lots of running room around the outside.

It was with this in mind that we both grabbed our bows, one of us would open the door and then run away in circles around the outside of his room while the other would run behind him shooting him. After he had taken enough damage he would then turn on the shooter, who would then turn around and run circles outside his room, all the while the previous runner would follow behind and shoot him. Repeat this for about 15 mins and that was how we defeated him.

Was this fun? Not particularly, it was tense however and the sense of accomplish when we downed him was immense!

The problem, while I've yet to complete Act1, I've yet to encounter any situation which actually requires teamwork like this.

Is this a major issue? Not really, and I'm still majorly enjoying this game.

And so we draw to a close with my final verdict:

Should you play this game? Hells yeah!

Why wouldn't you want to? You get to return to Tristram Cathedral and kill the Skeleton King!

And on that note, take care and happy hunting

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Monday, 21 May 2012

Monday Blues

Morning all,

I hate to say it but for the first time in three weeks I am back on my way to work.

It's been an interesting three weeks, lots of time being unable to move and barely able to support my own body weight when up. But there have also been some very good things too:

Building paper-craft for example. I've been meaning throughout last week to build more of that, but it never happened.

And I have yet to come even close to finishing my Hooded Rider.

However it's not long till early June and with it two bank holidays (4 day weekend! Kapow!)

But there are other things going on too. Today for example I am resuming my accountancy course, something that's been in suspension for quite some time.

My plan is also simple, from the quiet solitude of my bath I will try one or two of the mock exams I have and see just how much knowledge I have retained. Then when I have found just how much more I need to study I will go back and target those areas.
- I'll be honest, it's scary! I haven't done an exam in about 8 years, and back then I wasn't exactly good at them. So the idea of sitting one shortly to move onto the next level of the course is very scary.

Another thing I'm not too happy about is spending the next 10 or so hours away from my daughter. The past week or so, when I've been able to spend proper amounts of time with her has been wonderful - even if she did find a way to kick me in my operation sites every time.

She's such a happy youngling, who when you pass things to her, you can see her trying to puzzle them out (before giving up and using them to hit things) but after the past few weeks I can see why parents who've stayed at home with their kids for the first year or so are so reluctant to return to the workplace.

Still it has to be done.

Anyway, it appears that this morning's post is no more than an inane ramble, so I'll leave it there and let you get back to more important things.

Have fun, and if you haven't yet, play Diablo 3!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Friday, 18 May 2012

Everything Is Real

Good Friday all!

First before I make my promised post for today, I'd like to draw your attention to something I just saw on Facebook: A possible connection between Firefly and Aliens. Now should this be treated as cannon? I think that's for another time, but remember all it took was one Alien skull in Predator2 to spawn a comic/movie/game franchise.

Ok so, there's one major thing from the past few weeks which I have yet to mention. And it's big, and I mean Cthulhu on Earth big!

A week ago today the public open beta weekend went live and I was given a chance to explore a game that I have been looking forward to for quite a few years.

For information about the second beta weekend which is already underway please check out this site here.

Now I feel I need to share my experiences with you all, not because I feel a desire or a want to, but because it's more of a compulsion.

So last Friday I loaded up and made a character. And I would like to say at this point that in the current beta only one faction is available, that would be The Templar (and I don't care what the dude in game said, they're still the pro-human Knights Templar in my books) and after a quick look at the character creator I made my dude - apologies, no screenshots at the moment of him.

A lot of the reviews I have read of the beta have called out the creator, saying the options are too limited and the characters look shite. Well I can only speak for myself and tell you that I really liked the guy I created.

Now, in the current beta there are only three locations available, London the home of The Templars, Kingsmouth (a fictional town in New England based on the town Innsmouth from H.P. Lovecraft's short story 'Shadow Over Innsmouth' and also appearing in the video game adaptation Dark Corners of the Earth. And Argatha, the area used to travel from point A to point B.

So how did it go?

I would like to point out at this point, this game was played in short bursts, after putting the Moo to bed at 1800-1900 and having to give her a final feed and change at 2300 I was limited during the weekend with how much I could play.

Friday night was possibly the most amazing experience. Me, my wife and mutual friend all made characters and just ran around London. We didn't quest or anything we just soaked up the atmosphere. - now I think I need to point out at this stage that it's my experience, in order to truly soak up this place, you can't actually run. Instead toggle on walk and go for a ride.

I really don't want to spoil all the surprises, but the best part of London is getting lost. There's so many twists and turns above and below the main streets that it's so easy to get lost, but when you do you find the best of locations.

Saturday night was different, we did the initial quests and began immersing ourself in Kingsmouth.

It's here I'd like to bring up the combat, unlike a lot of MMOs which have very static combat, The Secret World (TSW) is very mobile and fluid, and it is a true pleasure to fire twin pistols at a zombie, whittling down it's health before finishing it off with a coup-de-grace from my trusty sword.

The quests while being linear felt like they were telling a story to me. Yes it was hand holding to a degree, and a quest by and name would still be a grind, but it still felt fresh.

Perhaps this was because its a new game, or perhaps the mechanics involved actually made it feel that way (setting off car alarms to attract hordes of Zs before luring them through a fire to kill them en mass.

The night ended when we reached the sherif's office and rested up for the night.

Come Sunday night it was just me playing, and I got to run around Kingsmouth proper, it was here that I first encountered Investigation quests.

For those who don't know, your average quest in an MMO is split up into two types: Action (Kill 20 Zombies) and Delivery (Deliver this box of ammunition to a character across town who's holding off zombies). Now some MMOs have tried to spice things up, such as Warhammer Online which introduced Public Quests (Kill 200 Zombies with these 3 strangers) and TSW is not alone in adding their own style of quest to this melting pot:

The Investigation Quest.

My first experience of this quest was of a riddle given to me by a fortune teller, something along the lines of "at the tip of the pyramid, your journey will begin".

Now I'm not going to give this away, but I'll explain my thought process: I had previously seen man hole covers which bore the symbol of The Illuminati (a pyramid featuring an eye), however I knew from another quest that they had nothing to do with this, but just to be sure I followed them. As I predicted these symbols didn't lead me anywhere new.

So I thought back, where else had I seen pyramids?

I remembered the town church, which was covered with Illuminati symbols so I hiked to that side of town, careful to avoid the packs of Zs hunting for fresh meat.

When I reached the church I scoured each painted glass symbol but sadly could not find anything.

It was then I remembered, in this game, Google is as much a tool as your mouse and keyboard. And so I typed in "Kingsmouth Pyramid Tip". I didn't want to find the answer I just wanted to see if the developers had left any clues, and low and behold, on the fake website a website created by Funcom exclusively for TSW I found the clue I was looking for.

I then raced to that location, fought off a group of monster worshiping cultists and obtained the second clue.

By now it was 2am, I was knackered and I knew my daughter would wake in about 5 hrs time, but I felt a sense of achievement I had never felt before. I wasn't just playing this game, I was experiencing it.

And let me tell you, come 19/07/12 when this game arrives in the post, and I can play it on live servers - providing this experience is anything to go by - then I'm going to have to think seriously about how to spread my time; WoW, Diablo3 and now TSW!

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Families who play together, stay together!

Good Thursday all!

As I write this I am currently laying in a nice deep fill bubble bath after being fully discharged by my visiting nurse following on from my operation.

This is the first bath I have had in over two weeks thanks to my dressings I had which I had to keep dry and therefore could only shower and 'sponge bath'.

Anyhow, there's still much to catch up with:

To start off with, if you remember before my operation I played a game of Dreamer vs Levi. It was my first time using Night Terrors and while I loved their speed (which really comes into play when unburied by the Dreamer) having just two as comes in the pack was not enough.

Rather than spend even more money following on from Salute i decided to proxy in with another model I had sitting around; the left over hawk from my Guild Austringer. So a base and puttied arms and legs later I had this dude:

I'm confident he'll do the job until I can pick up another set.

Well then, what next? Perhaps the most important part!

A week ago last Saturday, my lovely wife finally agreed to play a game of Malifaux with me!

I set the game up using my Mali-Stripped rules, just 8SS a side, no masters, everyone has 'Use Soulstone' and no abilities, triggers or spells for the first game.

I decided to give her access to my Guild Crew while I used Gremlins.

The game went well, I did discover that I'm probably one of the worst when it comes to explaining rules, but thankfully she was able to look past that.

The second game was full rules, however still no masters. This was to try and keep the simplicity down while teaching her about some of the common rules and abilities found in the game such as Companion and Slow to Die.

Again this game went well and in no time she was rounding up my Gremlins and putting them out of their misery.

Sadly that was it for playing, however I did also pick up for her birthday her own Colette crew, complete with additional Mech Doves and Coryphee duet - without any starting Doves this works out as a 35SS crew, so once they are assembled and painted she's good to go!

I've still got two major things to comment on, both of which from the world of video games, but they my friends will have to wait...

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Monday, 14 May 2012

Recovery Recap

Good Monday all!

So it has been a very very long time since my last post, in that time more has happened than I could possibly comment on, but I will try my best over the next few days to recap to you all where I've been.

For starters, the medical.

Roughly two weeks ago I was admitted for a pre planned operation to have my gallbladder removed.

Well as you can probably tell by me posting currently, it was a success.

That is not to say there were not complications. In order to remove the organ safely they had to extract it THROUGH my belly button, the thought of which is quite disturbing, and in order to do so they had to cut through my abdominals which until recently has heavily limited my mobility.

I've also looked a lot like a gun shot victim, having 5 dressing patches across my chest where the keyhole incisions were made.

Anyway, I won't gross you out with the gory details, but feel free to ask :)

Next up, and something I've been meaning to post for a while now is my exploration of Paper Craft.

You see while I was in the hospital I had a lot of free time on my hands and part of that time was spent reading up on now from my immobile recovery my wife and I tried our hands at some of these and these are the end results:

This is 'The Inventor's House' built by me

And this is 'The Mermaid Tavern' built by my wife.

Now these are all 'non-functional' when it comes to going inside them, but if you want to make a cheap townscape for something like Malifaux, then I see no better alternative for the price. They are all to scale for 28-32mm miniatures and the .pdf you pay for has multiple skins/colours available, meaning you can make different ones that look different enough. Next up it will be some of the smaller houses, and then a couple more of these bigger ones, and then bam! We're good to go with a town!

Ok I'm going to leave it there for now, take care and I'll provide another catch up either tomorrow or wednesday.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Delayed Update

Evening all!

Apologies, I was supposed to provide you with a proper blog yesterday about how my Dreamer v Levi game went, and the lessons learnt therein.

Instead I finished work about an hr and a half late and so forgot to do so.

Today I've been at hospital all day and am now recovering from having my gallbladder removed.

- the good news was that the surgery was a complete success, however I have a very sore belly button where they put the camera inside, and where (according to my nurse) they pulled the gallbladder out of my body.

Anyway, you'll be pleased to know your good Doctor Loxley is still alive and kicking and will be providing a proper update in a day or two's time when he doesn't have tubes running out of him.

In the meantime I will leave you with a couple of blurry images of my home brew Night Terror:

You can't see much, and to be honest, my sculpting is a little crude, but it was using components I already owned, do until I can pick up some real ones, it will do the job.

Well it's gone 20:00, so it's nearly lights out.

Night night all, catch up soon.

- Your friendly neighbourhood Doctor Loxley