Sunday, 16 September 2018

Darkest Dungeon: Finally beaten!


Long time ago, I blogged about playing Darkest Dungeon, and my frustration at this game. A great game, but also unforgiving. Since that time, two addons and some quality of life improvements were released, so I gave it another try. Over the course of the year, helped by the less grindy Radiant mode, I slowly built up everything needed to finish the game.

After a long journey, I reached and defeated the final boss yesterday!


What can I say? It is a good game. It is an obnoxious game. It likes to punish you heavily, but this only makes victory so much sweeter. Still there is the Sleeper boss waiting in the Mill, so I might go back the old road one more time...

Stay epic!

Monday, 23 July 2018

WIP: The 9th Age veil tokens

Slight progress on the 9th Age preparation front: While Warhammer 8th edition used dice to determine the amount of magic dice, 9th Age uses cards to generate dice and so-called "Veil tokens" that can be converted into additional magic dice, used for spell effects or stored to some extend. Spellcasters and magical items can generate these tokens to.

While I could use some boring tokens, coins or dice to track them, I decided that this was the perfect space for some swirly magical effect, painting some bases with whatever comes to our minds. Handling them in game will be easy and a fancy affair!


This is the current state of affairs:


(The backsides still need some painting, and there will be a few more.) Another session and they should be done.

Stay epic!

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.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Arcade Memories: Out Run et al.

While in general, I am too young and from a region without big gaming arcades back in the time (at least to my knowledge), there were some placed at the ice skating rink of my hometown, presumably many years after their original releases. While there where several ones (one must have been Michael Jackson's Moonwalker), the one that got stuck most in my memory was Out Run, a racing game with the objective to finish a course using a sport scar versus a strict timer.
I do not remember if I just watched others back then or how I fared back then if I tried. But as nowadays you can just play it online, for example on archive.org via streamed arcade emulator, I gave it another run. I could not even finish the first level. Arcade games were serious business, that would not go easy on you (as they wanted your money and where often quite short, this is not even surprising).

Apart from the ice rink, I remember a gaming arcade at the holiday resort in Croatia my family visited several times. There, I saw Ghosts n' Goblins for the first time! I also do remember one other game about a bald guy with a naginata and other Japanese weapons that I have not identified so far. If anyone has a clue of what game I am talking about, I would be really happy if you comment on it.

Stay Epic!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Photobox: First Tests

During the last weeks, I did some constructing and testing for my photobox project. After a bit of thinking, the box itself was quickly done from an amazon cardboard box, baking parchment and tape.

The trickier part is the illumination. While I got one LED-desk lamp for testing, I was lucky to be able to borrow two illumination units from an expert photographer, leading to a first test:

Zooming in onto the minatures shows some promise:

Definitely a major quality improvement incoming here!


Here is a second test series. First a picture made with my camera:
And one with the phone:

As now the lighting is improved, I fear that also a better suited camera might be necessary...

Also, I am still not sure if I should go for only white light or as in the pictures, a bit of yellow. Seems like I should research a bit about colour temparatures.

Stay Epic (And Tuned)!

Saturday, 27 January 2018

The Need For A Photobox

While planning to upload lots of older miniature pictures, I discovered that after a few years, I find their quality ...lacking. Therefore, I want to redo the miniature pics in an orderly fashion, which means that I finally will construct a photobox.
For those not in the knowing, a photobox is a device (usually a box) that creates diffuse illumination around the object of photography in order to vastly increase the quality of the resulting image. It is usually built from a box, semi-translucent paper or fabric and lights. My main problem now is to find a box in the right size for me.
I hope I can show results soon, if anyone has some hints about the construction, please let me know!

Stay Epic!

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Tabletop Archaeology: Elvish Lion Cavalry

As I am very fond of kit-bashing/custom model creation, I once created a unit of five heavily armed Elves riding lions to be used as heavy cavalry. The Warhammer White Lions this was based on are usually on foot or on lion chariots, but I used the draft lions as mounts for this models:


Sadly, this is the only one fully painted so far. Also, I have the feeling that I should make new pictures whit higher quality, maybe even a new photobox? Time to be crafty!


Stay Epic!

Something Completely Different: Pendants

Todays topic is, a bit unexpectedly, about jewellery. While the blog was down, I acquired two nice pendants for myself.
The first one is a roman silver coin mounted to a chain.




It shows Sol Invictus / Gordianus III (yes, that makes it pre-christian). I am currently very much interested in Roman history and felt it to be a great idea.

The second one is a jade fishhook from Hawaii, a nice example of pan-pacific craftsmanship.


The seller was very nice and commented favourably on my "monkey king" shirt (actually a Dragonball one with Son Goku, but he was based on the monkey king from Chinese lore, I consider this to be quite spot-on).

Lets see if the future will bring more bling.

Stay Epic!

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

My Own Scientific Project: 3D 2HG mapping as biomarker for IDH-mutation in glioma

Today it is my special pride to talk a bit about work: I was blessed with near-divine grace by the Austrian Science Fund to receive a project grant for a clinical research project about "3D 2HG mapping as biomarker for IDH-mutation in glioma". What does that mean? First of all, three years of PostDoc for me, being able to conduct research. :) Secondly, it means that I want to develop and improve magnetic resonance imaging measurements that can detect 2-hydroxyglutarate, a metabolic byproduct of some types of brain tumour called glioma that possess certain tumour-specific mutations. In the end, we want something that can be used beyond basic research and is fit for clinical use. Here you can check out more details if you are interested!

This reminds me of maybe writing a bit about the basics of magnetic resonance imaging in the future if anyone is interested (maybe drop a comment?). Just per chance I might know a few things about this.

Stay Epic!

Friday, 12 January 2018

Tabletop Archaeology: High(born) Elven Archers

Nothing more fit to start the tabletop archaeology project then some of my High Elves (Warhammer) or Highborn Elves (9th Age). These were painted a lot of years ago in my semi-legendary pink and white scheme. Who else is fit to display majestic pink if not Elves?



For the basing, I went with an autumn forest theme, as seen here by dry grass and mushrooms. There is a fitting display that I will show at a later date.

Stay Epic!

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Holiday shorts: Riga and Hawaii

While this blog was offline, I put together some holiday shots into some Imgur albums. As I do not see much sense in reposting everything here, I invite you to take a look at these two albums:
Our holiday in Riga in February 2017 featured surprisingly warm weather and a great time in Latvia. My pre-conference holiday on Hawaii saw volcanoes, Pearl Harbour, great food and black sand. if you are curious, check them out!

Stay Epic!


Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Nerdy Recommendation: Chrontendo

One more thing to dust off the virtual shelf: Recommendations for stuff on the internet. Not very creative, but still interesting. I want to start with the YouTube channel Chrontendo, a project that not very surprisingly aims to create a chronology of all NES/Famicom games. Yes that includes lots of strange Japanese games. ;)
So far, there are 52 episodes online (as well as some other stuff like eight Chronsega episodes) and while the backlog to watch might be... huge, the release speed of new videos is low due to the necessary amount of research. This means catching up is actually possible!

I like this channel because it is the easiest way to get an overview over the whole NES catalogue in more than just some pictures. Maybe you are interested too?

Stay Epic!

Monday, 8 January 2018

The State Of Wargaming: Moving into the 9th Age


But what about tabletop gaming? As the Epic Adventures originally started as a blog about tabletop gaming and miniatures, this is a legitimate question. I have not abandoned it totally, but other things have taken up more of my time recently.
This was also heavily affected by Games Workhops decision tot ally abandon the thought of well-designed rules for their game, which did not only stop me from playing Warhammer. But now some time has passed and the community has created something new in the tradition of Warhammer: The 9th Age, a game that fills the void of Warhammer for most people.

Actually, quite recently the beta version 2 was released and looks very good to me, but more about that at another time. If you are interested yourself, you can check out the plans for its future here and try to play a round or more yourself. All the stuff you know from before is still in the game, minus most of the "What were they thinking?" moments.

Regarding the multitude of other games in the market, time is again the constraint. Would Star Wars Armada have been released a decade earlier, I guess I would dig that most, but now I do not want to commit to that. Uncharted Seas was played by me, but has been utterly dead for quite a while now. And while there is Kings of War as a contender for fantasy wargaming, it has never caught me.

Therefore you can expect some miniature/9th Age posts and admittedly a lot of archeology about my earlier projects.

Stay epic!

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Alert: Awesome Games Done Quick 2018 online!


A quick note as it is starting this evening: Awesome Games Done Quick, the biannual video game speedrunning event for a good cause has started again. If you are interested in these things, you might check out the stream.You can also look at the schedule here!

Stay Epic!

Nessie Miniature Display

We recieved a very nice present recently which contained a multi-part miniature of Nessie, Scotlands favourite cryptid. As the individual parts would be easily lost (looking at the cats here) I mounted it onto a 50x100 mm tabletop base and used my experience to create water effects a long time ago for Uncharted Seas (RIP).
Basically, I used acrylic gel to form waves and ripples, painted it blue, brushed it with white for foaminess and gave it a gloss varnish finish. I am satisified with the result:

Afterwards, Nessie was added to the international trinket collection.

Thanks again to our kind benefactor!

Stay Epic!

Saturday, 6 January 2018

The State of Gradient Of Disorder

Some people might know and still remember Gradient of Disorder, the... special metal band founded in a physics lecture. Good news first: We are still around!

For all who do not know us, you can check out our homepage or youtube channel.

More realistic news: While we had planned to release our first album over a year ago, not too long after our ten-year-anniversary, this got delayed by acute cases of life distracting us. But the album recordings are in fact still continuing, slow but purposeful. You can at least check out a teaser on youtube showing of the excellent sound quality!
Indeed most songs are already wrapped up and heading for mastering, but enough fiddly bits are left to make me doubt a release in 2018. But definitely latest in 2019 it will happen!
After the album release, we will definitely continue our infamous live shows, therefore stay tuned.

Stay Epic!

Monday, 1 January 2018

What Is The Internet For? For Cats, Of Course!

Therefore, I decided to start the year 2018 for The Epic Adventures featuring our feline overlords.


First by age and time with us is Odysseus.


He arrived in our custody when someone abandoned him in the foyer of our building, malnourished and neglected. But being incredibly trusty and cuddly, he immediately captured our hearts. Growing a bit older, his youthful energy has dissipated a bit. As a gentleman, he now enjoys melding with the radiator at least as much as chasing down the flat.


Another connaisseur of radiators is Coco. Together with her daughter Lili she joined us to keep Odysseus from boredom and overdosing on heat.

While she usually shows the looks and demeanour of a feline top-model, her background as street cat shows in her "slang" and sudden outbursts of excentric behaviour. She also likes to roleplay as a meerkat or racoon:

This strapping young lass is Lili. She is Cocos daughter and of diminiutive size. But this means that all the love and frenzy a cat can have is more concentrated in her. 
She will trustfully cuddle with the force of a stampede, even with total strangers, only to be scared an throw a hissing fit a moment later after being startled. She enjoys chasing Odysseus around very much. Nearly as much as taking a nap on the couch.

All three show tremendous amounts of affection, despite al clich├ęs. They have their annoying moments, but are in general very nice to have around. I admit it, I am a sucker for cats. ;)


I hope you all enjoyed looking at these catty pictures and agree that most things are better with cats.. May 2018 be better than 2017!

Stay Epic!