Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Gaming memories: rental games

Today it is time to dive into the past again. In the early nineties, when we got our first gaming consoles (NES, SNES, Megadrive (aka Genesis)) we were plunged down the rabbit hole of video games. While we owned some nice ones, our main supply of games, until the age of PC hit us in 1997, was a local toy store.

Retrospectively, considering the town I grew up in, I should consider myself lucky for having a store closer than Vienna to introduce me into console RPGs, Magic the Gathering, Warhammer and other staples of nerdity.

In general, most games we rented were "for the family", meaning our father would play them and we would watch. This included pearls like Faxanadu, Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore, FF Mystic Quest, Landstalker, Dune 2, Metal Marines, and Yoshi´s Island. Therefore we actually started playing the RTS genre right at its first popular milestone of Dune 2. I am still convinced that the Megadrive version was actually the superior version.

Of course, other games like Final Fantasy 6 or Chrono Trigger never made it to us, while others like the "Secret" games even received German translations. Many stories could be told about these and other games, but today I want to write about only three of them.

In the later years of the rental era, I started to play some RPGs for myself, like Lufia II, Shining Force 2 and Phantasy Star IV. Totally not confusing to start in the middle of all these series. Back then, I did not finish any of these games and would only do so many years later. With Lufia, a German version, I was just not able to finish some bridge puzzle close to the end of the game, despite it coming with a guide book by Nintendo. This was a feature a lot of them had, which probably allowed a lot of people to actually finish these games. Megadrive games did not have that feature, and without internet (access) or the right issue of a gaming magazine, an eleven-year-old not fluid in English struggled quite a bit at understanding anything.

In Phantasy Star IV for example I managed approximately half of the game, but did not understand that I needed to disrupt Zios shield with the Psy Wand (used to lower the barrier to his base), only doing 1 damage with every attack to him and getting wiped soon. If I just had known that immediately afterwards I would go to space... Bets are on if I would have understood it with better English skills.

But I would say the crown goes to the awesome tactical RPG Shining Force 2, where I would have had to insert a wooden plank into a hole in a tree in order to get the Achilles Sword that could wound the giant Talos. Without it you just run away from the fight and never get the caravan, a machine that opens up new areas of the map. Also at the halfway point of the game, and I have even less idea how one could figure that out easily by oneself.

Well, these old games were great, but of course far from perfect in regards to userfriendliness. Time to stop rambling until the next episode of gaming memories.

Stay epic!


Sunday, 10 June 2018

Finally playing a tournament again: Vienna TableTop Masters 2018 - Fantasy Battles: The 9th Age

Yesterday, I finally managed to participate in a tournament again! The Vienna TableTop Masters 2018 allowed me to see how rusty I would be as general to my plastic and metal elves. My aspirations were modest, not coming in last and as bonus being in the upper half of the bracket.

I had three games, versus other Highborn Elves, Dread Elves and finally Warriors of the Dark Gods. They were all fun and nice learning experiences, thanks to my opponents. I sadly did forget to take more pictures, but I have shots of the first game opening and the second game closing:

 Here we can see two dragons in the opposing forces that gave me some headache. But in the end, my sword masters made shashlik out of the big one.

Here you see the moment before I charged the big dragon ogre character, who did die in the end after squishing my battle standard bearer.

In the end, I won the first and third game and lost the second game (I could not engage anywhere and my opponent cleverly occupied the secondary objective). Quite surprisingly, this was exactly enough to achieve third place! Way beyond my expectations and involving some luck to be honest.

In case you are interested, here is my list:


705 – High Prince, Army General, Dragonforged Armour [25pts], Great Weapon [15pts], Master of Canreig Tower [135pts], 2 Additonal Learned Spells [80pts], Blessed Inscriptions [65pts], Diadem of Protection [85pts], Ghostly Guard [40pts], Lucky Charm [10pts]

390 – Commander, Battle Standard Bearer [50pts], Dragonforged Armour [20pts], Great Weapon [10pts], Royal Huntsman [60pts], Banner of the Relentless Company [35pts], Protection of Dorac - Models on foot only [65pts]

490 – Commander, Griffon [220pts], Heavy Armour [10pts], Lance [10pts], Shield [5pts], Death Cheater [95pts] 
   
180 – 5x Elein Reavers
180 – 5x Elein Reavers
530 – 20x Sea Guard, Musician [20pts], Standard Bearer [20pts], War Banner of Ryma [60pts]
340 – 15x Sea Guard, Musician [20pts]

100 – 1x Giant Eagle
100 – 1x Giant Eagle
215 -  Lion Chariot
110 – 1x Reaver Chariot


779 - Sword Masters – 28x Sword Masters, Champion [20pts], Musician [20pts], Standard Bearer [20pts], War Banner of Ryma [60pts]

380 –Phoenix, Frost Phoenix

Just as disclaimer, I was not entirely satisfied with it, as it lacks a second combat unit, but the general and the phoenix performed really well.

Stay epic!


PS: As a bonus, nature sent a winged attendant to show off. To my understanding, this is a "Tagpfauenauge" or peacock butterfly (Aglais io): 


Sunday, 22 April 2018

Miniature Picture Editing

One feedback I got from the first photobox results was that I should, now that the picture quality itself was improved, also should care more about image post-processing (as if I am not doing enough of that on my job...). Until now, my routine was, using Irfanview, to crop and resize the image, apply automatic corrections and then just play a bit with brightness, contrast and saturation.
Now, I browsed a bit, installed Raw Therapee and startet moving ledgers. For comparison, I present the same picture raw, as previously shown, and with the new settings:

Raw
Old post-processing
New post-processing
I hope the white should be whiter now, the edges sharper and the contrast/saturation less over-abused.

Next will be more test on other miniatures like some good old pink high elves. Feedback is always appreciated!

Stay epic!

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Requiem For Uncharted Seas, Part II: Thaniras Elves Cruisers

This is the next part of the requiem for my Unchartes Seas miniatures: Today, I present the three cruiser types for the Thaniras Eves. First one ist the original one featuring sails:


I have to admit, I never found them to be very useful in game. I preferred their orb-powered equivalents that also came with enough boarding troops to actually not die to a frigate in melee.


Maybe not needing to paint sails also influenced my blatant favouritism here. The last ones, heavy cruisers, were the ultimate release for the Thaniras Elves before the system faded away. The fact that I did not even bother to paint them shows that they already came too late.

Next time, there might be dragons.

Stay epic!

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Gaming Memories: Imperialism

One of the older games I like to still play now and then over 20 years later: Imperialism. This game, as the name might imply, simulates being in charge of an expanding early industrial nation in the 19th century (either a random "fantasy" world or a historic Europe scenario). Luckily, it does not try to simulate every little thing that could be done, but focuses on a few mechanics that reflect the times politics quite well I think: Production and recruitment only happen in your capital, where you expand factories, build ships, railroad cars and such. It is your first task to connect your countryside to your capital via ship or train, which purpose is basically to just supply resources to your centralised state: Food, wood, iron, coal and a few more, with the later addition of oil.
Money for your budget comes, aside from gold or gem mines, only from trading, which requires even more resources to produce export goods like textiles, weapons, tools or furniture. To further this, you can make smaller countries your colonies, leading to them selling cheap raw materials to you and buying your processed goods.
It might be simplified, but to me, it shows how centralisation, resource exploitation and colonialism work very well. As an adolescent, I also learned quite a few things about history from the games tech progress. Going till 1915, you can develop early modern arms, leading to an approximation of WW1's meat grinder if you try to charge into 30 fortified artillery units.

You may either win by conquest (try before the aforementioned situation occurs) or by being elected world leader (also happening if you conquer enough clay).









In my experience, the higher difficulties are brutal, but the funny random country and province names as well as the quarterly newspaper let you fail in enjoyment.

On easy difficulties, it is nice relaxing game caring about cotton, wool and wood shipments. Just a few more guns than Settlers of Catan. Added benefit: It runs on any kind of wimpy Notebook if needed and is available on gog.com.

There is actually a second part, set in the age of colonialism, but I never warmed up to it.

Stay epic!

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Requiem For Uncharted Seas, Part I: Thaniras Elves Battleships

Once upon a time, some friends and me were playing a promising tabletop game called Uncharted Seas. Fantasy warships, airships and monsters cruising through, well, unknown and uncharted seas, battling others in the usual struggle for supremacy.
After said promising start, within a one or two years or so, new releases stopped as the producer Spartan Games discovered that its SciFi setting Firestorm Armada and Steampunk setting Dystopian Wars sold better (admittedly, if Dystopian Wars came first I would never have bothered with Uncharted Seas too). Without releases and a broad fanbase the actually pretty reasonably priced game did wither away (at least I know no one playing it anymore and have so far unsuccessfully tried to ell my minis in Austria).
Using the newly inaugurated photo box, I decided to do a pictoral requiem for the two fleets I have collected. One, the Thaniras Elves fleet, is fully painted, while the other, Sky Pirates got stuck in WIP. I had done a few conversions with models from other factions, as only two different models were ever released.

But without further ado, let's start with the two kind of battleship the Thaniras Elves fleets can muster:





As you can see, I went for a dark wood, golden trimmings and black flag design with this fleet. One remarkable detail: For all ship sizes, this fleet features classes using sails (depending on the winds) and classes using magical orbs for propulsion (independent of the winds and my favourites).

My general impression was that this fleet was on the lower end of power, with squishy ships and low boarding power. I know, squishy elves and such, but their background makes them incredibly warlike, but in practice everyone can bash their heads in.

Next time: Heavy cruisers.


Stay Epic!

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Science communication: Where you can find me speaking and presenting in the near future

In my opinion, as important as science-ing is the communication of your topic and results to the interested public. Therefore I strife to do exactly this, resulting in some events/event participations to announce!

For starters, the "Lange Nacht der Forschung" i.e. the long night of science on the 13.4.2018 draws closer. Our centre will show of our equipment and research in guided tours between 17:00 and 20:00.  As soon as the details are available online, you will find them here! If you cannot come or represent a bigger group, please feel free to contact me for an extra tour at another date.

Soon afterwards, I will talk about the effects of magnetic field onto humans at the Volkshochschule Donaustadt (adult education centre), details are available here.

I will also present a poster about my recent scientific work at the CCC-TRIO – Translational Research & Immuno-Oncology symposium here in Vienna on the 6.4.2018, but this is a bit too specific for the general audience, I guess.

For the younger generation, I will also organise courses for the children's university in summer, but its program will only be online in May.

More interesting will be a special surprise for late 2018 that I will announce in the future.

Stay tuned and epic and see you soon.