Saturday 20 February 2016

The (s)Hit List - Episode #1

I've decided I will allow myself a regular rant post.  This, I believe, can be excused as:

(a) it helps others avoid repeating my mistakes
(b) allows me to let off steam in a semi-constructive manner

If this seems a bit self-indulgent, may I point out what I do not do....
No self-congratulatory ("I haz 50 readers") posts
No "retweet" posts simply copy+pasting others work (okay, sometimes, but very rarely)
No restrospective "look backs" or special New Years resolution posts
Nor do I fill my blog with personal/family information (martial status, back pains)

So as long as it is on topic (sci fi, wargaming, fantasy, rules, history) I'd argue it is fair game for "critical analysis". So here goes:

Legends of Tomorrow (TV Show)
This show was embarrassing.  It makes Dr Who look like a AAA blockbuster, and in fact the main character Rip reminds me of Dr Who mixed with Willy Wonka.  If DC has any aspersions to rival Marvel's expanding TV universe, then this has dealt it a severe blow.  The weak acting was not helped by the terrible script and dialogue.  I gave Arrow a 6/10 and to be honest this is DC's best TV effort I've seen so far, as Flash (4/10) and Legends (2/10) lower the bar. (Admittedly Marvel's Agents of Shield was pretty weak, but I charitably attributed it as being designed for a teenage target audience like Avengers) I have no desire to watch this show further. The pilot did not just shoot itself through the foot, but through the head.

Ravenstar Cold Navy Castings (miniatures)
I'm trying to force myself to paint these spaceships, but the motivation isn't there.  The sculpts and design are awesome (John Bear Ross, I think?), but the execution is horrid.  The resin is bubbly, with chunks missing, sharp edges are "melted" and I spent so much time filing and trimming I honestly could have made the spaceships myself faster if I simply carved them freehand out of a raw chunk of resin.

Robotech Miniatures (miniatures)
Yes, I've mentioned this before, but I recently re-tried to get them all  assembled and finished.  The day I spent trying to assemble these 1/144 minis made me so furious I avoided my hobby shed for a fortnight, messing up my holiday hobby plans.  Basically, these are 1/144 minis with 200 (maybe an exaggeration) parts each.  Imagine 40K Terminator-size models where each is a 1:72 Revell kit and you get the idea.   To rub salt into the wounds, Veritech fighters need 3 versions assembled for each "mode" - so you need to assemble 12 of these fiddly models for a mere 4-mech unit on the tabletop....

Flames of War (rules)
For what is pretty much a 40K ripoff, these rules are simplistic without actually being particularly simple to use.  Any "ease of use" is simply due to its familiarity to ex-GW players.  I was skimming them the other day, and was amazed at how "dense" they were.  There's a LOT of rules. Admittedly, I've got the small-print version, but there's 150 or so pages of raw rules.  They have so many exceptions and special situations.  I was looking through them for ideas how to simplify a mech game at platoon+ scale, but ended up tossing it aside as it was too complicated.  And no one (except maybe Battlefront's PR team) claims FoW is the most deep, tactical WW2 game out there.  It's like a MacDonalds Happy meal at gourmet restaurant pricing.

Scandanavian Crime Fiction (books)
Ever since the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo we have been assailed with "the next big thing" to come out of <insert Scandanavian country>    In general, they're all pretty rubbish.  Okay, here's the "New York Times bestselling author Jussi Adler-Olsen latest "The Hanging Girl."  Here's the first paragraphs: (my thoughts in small print)

"Hey Carl. Wake up. The telephone is ringing again."
Carl looked up sleepily at Assad, who was camouflaged like a yellow carnival (wtf is a yellow carnival?). When he'd started (what?) in the morning, the overalls had been white and his curly hair black, so if there was even a splash of paint on the walls, it would be a miracle." (I have no words...)

"You interrupted me right in the middle of a complicated train of thought," said Carl, reluctantly taking his legs of the table.  (Ooh, a complicated train of thought. The use of "reluctantly" reminds me of a teenager trying to shoehorn adverbs into a free writing task)

"Okay! Sorry!" the wrinkles of a smile appeared under the jungle of Assad's nine o'clock stubble (a jungle of stubble? really?)  What the heck was it his round, happy eyes expressed? A hint of irony, perhaps? (his eyes were round AND happy, ye gods!)

Yes, it's probably lost a lot in translation. But the writing is utter tripe. I know 12 year olds who can do better than this. I don't care if the plot is mindbendingly amazing, I can't force myself to read more than a chapter.  And this is pretty much par for the course. For some reason people will accept any crap if it's "made in Sweden" etc as it's trendy or something.  Protip: If it says "best-selling" and<insert Scandanvian country> author, put the book down, and walk out the door.  I just saved you wasting several hours of your life.

/RANT over.  There, that feels better.  It's a relief to not to try to word things carefully (like in rules reviews, where I try to be <relatively> fair).  Feel free to agree/disagree.


  1. Seems unnecessarily harsh on Flames of War, which is a game I'd credit with giving a lot of players their first taste of something that wasn't 40k. Admittedly I've not played third edition as I've moved away from it and I'd by no means claim it's perfect but my memories of it were mainly that the games were fun and close.

    I liked two things in particular Firstly the simple two stat modelling of morale and training so troops could be confident/trained or reluctant/veteran etc. It's not unique but it was effective for modelling differences between national troops. Secondly I liked that the difficulty in hitting a target was based on its skill not the shooter's.

    1. I'm not saying FoW isn't fun or has no merits. A McDonalds meal is quite good if you're in the mood.

      I'm saying the rules are dense and overcomplicated for what they deliver.

      It's like spending 3 hours reading a technical manual to learn the rules of tic-tac-toe or dominoes.

  2. I second your thoughts on Robotech. I bought them about 18 months ago and have not worked up the courage to work on them. Plus, I wasn't blown away by the rules so my motivation is waivering. At least I waited for retail as the Kickstarter was a disaster!

    1. The rules aren't that bad, actually. They have an order "resource" that you can spend to boost movement, firing and defence. I found them reasonably solid, though as usual I wasn't fussed on hitpoints.

  3. I really hope that got mangled in translation because holy smokes, that is some awful writing.

  4. Hey, I love a good rant from time to time when it comes from somebody I respect*. That kind of passion - good or bad - keeps things spicy!

    *Yes, that includes you.

  5. That is a shame about the Ravenstar castings. I was thinking of picking up some of the not-Battlestar "tinmen" figures. But they have been "Temporarily withdrawn" for some time. Makes me wonder if they got a cease-and-desist...

    1. I can wholeheartedly recommend the Studio Bergstrom who also have some not-BSG stuff in both fleetscale and larger Silent Death style fighters.

  6. You forgot the Heavy Gear miniatures...

    1. They were merely exasperating, not rage inducing.

      In fact, one box (Northern recon) did not require ANY filing/drilling/etc - gasp!

      The Cold Navy stuff comfortably eclipsed them for "poorly executed minis" as opposed to the Robotech which were simply a terrible idea from its core concept.

    2. Should be interesting to see what you think of the new plastics from the Kickstarter when they're released this summer.

    3. It a game that has always appealed to me, but Ive never tried toque to the expense of playing at the combined arms level I desire to. Wonderful fluff and background.

    4. The vehicles are outrageously priced ($40 for a 15mm size tank etc) but quite a few folks use the mechs (which at $10-15ea are OK in small numbers) with 15mm sci fi armies. They look fine and "to scale."

      That would give you combined arms at a decent price.

    5. I think that if I had a buddy close by to share the project I would go for this strongly

    6. Does Tin Can Bay base have a naval element? :-)

  7. I thought the robotech stuff was 1/285?

    Anyway, enjoy a good rant from time to time, so thanks for this.

  8. Hmm I thought they were more 10mm size but they are blasted tiny so perhaps. I don't have any 1/285 jets and they seemed big compared to Battletech models...

    <5 mins of research later>

    Apparently they realize that 6mm(?)/1:285 is not the best, and are considering redoing it in 15mm.

    What the F****

    Nothing like a scale change to get original backers on-side....

    Also Palladium blame everyone and their dog for KS stuff ups. IMO Ninja Division's rules were the only thing to emerge with credit.

    Also, they are considering having GHQ do their stuff in pewter.

    !!!!!! WTF x 10000

    If that was the case, I'd rather have them in lovely GHQ metal rather than a bloody 100 piece puzzle - do I get a refund?

    Read with skepticism. If you already have Robotech stuff, try not to burst a blood vessel.

    I thought I dodged the crap avoiding the KS, but still feel like I have been shat upon from a great height.


      I never repeat gossip, so read properly the first tme