Monthly Archives: April 2012

Update: SJG’s BATTLESUIT in 15mm


Progress Report: follow up to BATTLESUIT in 15mm

I now have a sizable force of the Red Attack Force in 15mm, based, painted and just about good to go.  I was going to go with a straight interpretation of the counter set but as I started discovering some of the excellent options available in 15mm SF, well, it became easy to acquire more troops of a varied nature.  So that means what I end up with will not be an exact interpretation of Battlesuit in miniature, but something more generic with Battlesuit trappings.

Red Force, wide shot

Here’s where there will be some differences.

There are three basic suit types in the printed game, as described by this text:

3.01 Infantry. Ten different kinds of infantry units are supplied.
Four represent different models of armor, four represent
armor that has suffered various degrees of damage, and two
represent infantrymen without powered armor.
The front of each armored infantry counter shows that man
in “normal” status; the back of the counter shows the same
man in a state of shock (see Section 6.042).
3.011 Standard suit. This is the basic type of powered
armor. It has an attack value of 8, an ECM (electronic countermeasure)
value of 2, and a move of 5.
3.012 Assault suit. This is an improved model suit, more
effective but more costly. It has an attack value of 10, an ECM
value of 3, and a move of 6.
3.013 Command suit. This type is identical to the assault
suit except in its increased communications ability (not directly
shown in the game) and better ECM value. It has a combat
value of 10, an ECM value of 4, and a move of 6. Infantry
officers at and above platoon level use these suits.
3.014 Ranger suit. Another costly improvement on the
standard suit, the ranger has improved myoelectric “muscles”
and better jets, as well as extra “stealth” electronics; it is
designed for raiding and reconnaissance. It has a combat value
of 8, an ECM value of 5, and a move of 7.

Those suit types are here in this miniature version too, but I am also adding Specialist and Crew. Specialists are specialty drone and robot operators that operate equipment that either recons the extends the commander’s command space or attacks the op-for side. Crew man static support weapons

I was seriously contemplating printing stats for each soldier in BattleSuit format, see below:

Battlesuit counters from original game

This would entail using the stats: Attack strength / ECM / movement, printed on labels on the stand. Since I started working on this project I’ve gotten away from that view and will go with a more generic approach of three colors that could mean almost anything I want to plug in and a rank insignia. Thus I can swap out stats for the three boxes if I find a rules set I like better than Battlesuit in the future.

Major Rico's Stat line for his base.

I’m adding drones, just like the original BATTLESUIT game. These will come in a variety of sizes and are roughly in three types: recon, bomb and gun drones. My thought is to add one per base but I might turn it into a swarm of drones. I think there should be a handler or operator in the battlespace, so I’ve added Specialist figures.

I’ve also added a few robots, because, well, it’s science-fictional to do so. I found some nice ground based recon robots from GZG in 15mm, as well as a couple of autonomous gunbots on treads I’m classifying as “Boundry Security Droids”, whose job is to provide picket duty for a Company’s flanks. Just because I had one in inventory, I added a cool retro robot figure scaled to 28mm which looks good as a giant walking robot figure in 15mm.

So with that said, where are we?

There will be two forces of about company size in a science fictional universe. One will be predominately red and the other black. The red company will be more agile and mobile, the black will have higher numbers and hard hitting power.

Red is just about done, as you can see:

"Regular Suits".. mostly. Support weapons to the left.

More "Regular Suit" troop types, with heavy weapons team in front.

The Silver helmets I envision as elite Assault troop types.

I have a small squad of "Ranger Suits" that can perform rocket assisted jumps.

Command element up front, Rangers on the right, Assault in the Middle.

Recon bots (rear, upainted), Killabot Prime, Perimeter Security droids, heavy weapons, and regular grunts.

There are support weapons in battlesuit that look more like a Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) than a larger bore sighted piece of bona fide artillery. So I picked up some more mortars and a field piece.

So far? I’m pretty enthused about the project. Terrain will remain a challenge, but I have some ideas about how to make that happen when I get round to it. I’m loving this project so far.

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We are Coming by Day and by Night…


This is a slight deviation from what I normally put up on Airy Persiflage. This post is a reading of the text of a leaflet dropped on Nazi Germany by RAF bombers in the Summer of 1942. Although famed Strategic Bomber visionary Arthur “Bomber” Harris signed it, he subsequently denied its authorship.

arthurbomberharris.jpg

To Listen: http://misternizz.podbean.com/mf/web/txy3wu/wearcomingbydayandbynight.mp3″

(Direct link to Airy Persiflage)

I apologize for not attempting this in a proper British accent; it did seem called for considering the subject matter. However, my first attempt was so comical I thought it took away from the sense of the piece!

End of April Bumpers Puzzle!


Normally it’s a rare month that sees two of these things so I’m stretching it by adding a third.  Oh well, life’s funny that way.  Here’s a numeric bumpers puzzle, which is like a “Find a Path” puzzle we have posted before on here.   The concept: Move from bumper to bumper as if you are a steel ball in pinball machine, calculating as you go to get a high score.  You may hit a bumper TWICE, but you may note trace OVER any part of your path.  Your challenge is to break the current high score of 295.  Can you do it?

Bumpers Puzzle Graphic for 26 April 2012

Move from IN (10 points) to OUT (5 points) to get a high score

Aside

Bookkeeping posts answer the month’s current puzzles or challenges. Continue reading

Airy Persiflage on Resonance FM 104’s Hooting Yard show


Past followers of Airy Persiflage, the audio element of Third Point of Singularity (and oddly enough there might be a few), probably realize we are great fans of the rambling, surrealist discourse of Mr. Frank Key, of HOOTING YARD fame, and the author of several fine monographs which have occasionally contributed material for audio reads on Persiflage. Mr. Key has been kind enough to say some nice words about Airy Persiflage and your humble narrator on the Hooting Yard in the past, and I was honored to hear the encomiums continue on a recent broadcast of Hooting Yard on Resonance FM 104 in the United Kingdom. Mr. Key played the version of Ambrose and Mister Ploppo my son Gar and I recorded on 27 July 2011. I was honored to be included!

Here is the relevant link:

HOOTING YARD APRIL 22 SHOW

Streaming Link: http://podcasts.resonancefm.com/podpress_trac/web/9120/0/hooting_yard_20110728.mp3″ We’re mentioned somewhere around 18 minutes in.

From what I hear on the recording, other segments of Hooting Yard material we have recorded may show up on Resonance FM in the near future.

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Android Boardgame Helper apps, creating a new market


Much attention has been given to the Ipad/Ipod platform for boardgame conversions; and with good reason.  The IOS platform seems to have emerged as the primary platform of choice for boardgame conversions of all kinds, with the Android Market lagging behind the big releases by a period from six months to  a year in some cases.  For instance, Carcassonne, one of the biggest hits in the IoS Realm, has only recently been released for Android as a commercial product.    There are other big titles, such as Through The Desert, Words with Friends, and Cataan, but for the most part releases continue to lag for full up game conversions with AI and/or multiplayer/internet gaming component.   There’s plenty of reasons for this.. the two installation bases are not equal.  There is concern from developers about how they will get paid, and how quickly, whereas the Apple Itunes App store is more stable and considered more secure.

This doesn’t mean that boardgames aren’t represented on Android.  There have been a surprising amount of boardgame HELPER apps released in the last two years.  For the most part these are deck shufflers and builders, dice rollers, and “toolbox” apps that do many things.   Most, if not almost all, of them are free for the download.  I suspect this is because the licensing issues are too complex and it’s just easier to release them for free.  There are very few free (and very few commercial, come to think of it) boardgame apps that actually play the game WITH you, but there are many Android apps out there that will HELP you play a boardgame.  Some of these are helpful, some are puzzling, but most of them are free, so you will have no problem trying them out and making up your own mind.

Here, then, is a list of some useful boardgame utilities out there on the Android market right now.

Droidippy A DIPLOMACY adjudication/game play app not unlike JDip and RealPolitik, only it plays on an Android platform.  Receives email turns and adjudicates Diplomacy games with multiple players; displays a map readout that updates on all the player’s phones/tablets.

Axis and Allies Combat Simulator I never understood the reasons for having an Axis and Allies combat Simulator, but they were popular way back in the day on Windows platforms as shareware, and here’s on for about four dollars.  Has a menu driven interface and figures out the probability of success on possible combats.

The Milton Bradley edition of Axis & Allies, s...

The Milton Bradley edition of Axis & Allies, showing the game map and all 299 playing pieces (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Assorted Magic: the Gathering Utilities.  (Links to search for “Magic the Gathering” on Android Market) Frankly there are so many Magic: the Gathering utilities, life counters, card databases, toolboxes, ultimate apps, AIs and simulators out there on the market that one could write a very long blog post on that subject, and I’m not that big of a fan.    Suffice to say, the apps in this collection either count life, catalog cards, manage your collection, and provide strategy tips.  I’ve yet to find an app that actually plays the game.

Rattus Shuffle randomly selects for you with which cards you’re going to play the board game Rattus, which was reviewed on this blog a while ago.

Rattus

Rattus (Photo credit: MeoplesMagazine)

To use Rattus Shuffle: Before you’re going to play the game, choose from all the available expansions, select the number of players and Rattus Shuffle will determine with which combination of cards you’re going to play the game.  The creator appears to have the cooperation of Goblin Games, as they are using the same artwork.

Dominion Shuffle: this is a helper app for the great card drafting game DOMINION.  randomly select a set of kingdom cards for the card game Dominion. It has a flexible way of specifying the shuffle rules and choosing which cards to use. The card language can be chosen using the menu.  Dominion Shuffle also includes support for Androminion (Dominion for Android, it actually allows game play)  to play with your selected kingdom cards against the computer.   Along the same vein are Dominion Card PickerDominion Randomizer, and Randominion, which are basically deck builders and shuffler apps.

Agricola Score Calculator is pretty much what it says, a scoring app for the hit board game AGRICOLA.   The app and the interface are colorful and straightforward.   Along the same lines: Agricola Score Sheet (Lite and Regular) and Agricola Buddy.

Carcassonne Scoreboard.   Since Carc is now a paid game app in the market, this is about all we’ll see freeware.  Like many other boardgame support apps, this maintains a scoresheet for repeated games.  Along the same lines are: Carcassonne Scorer and Scorer Lite.

Lost Cities CCSKC:  Another Reiner Knizia classic, Lost Cities is represented in the market by a Score Keeper app that maintains game score and tracks the cards left in the deck.  Along the same lines is Lost Cities: Help, which essentially does the same thing.

RFTG Scorer is a straightforward, useful score sheet app for RACE FOR THE GALAXY.

Munchlevel is a life counter/scorer type app from the hit card game MUNCHKIN, by Steve Jackson Games.  Not much to be said here, the app is pretty straightforward and easy to use.  Alon the same lines are: Munchkin Level Counter and Munchkimetro.

 Thunderstone Shuffle app is a card shuffling app for the card drafting game THUNDERSTONE,  similiar to others mentioned.  This app lets you choose which cards can be selected and easily randomizes which cards will appear in your game. It understands the rules of the game and generates a legal layout, has a solo option and marks cards which were in the previous shuffle, making multiple games easier.
Descent Assistant is a sort of toolbox, monster manager for the Dungeon Crawling game DESCENT from Fantasy Flight Games.   This app makes an Overlord’s job much easier by simplifying monster management tasks.  Users can add monsters to manage their statistics.  Descent Assistant contains all available monsters, including Road to Legend encounters and chiefs. Displays all capabilities of added monsters including descriptions of all abilities.  The Interface doesn’t appear to have the same artwork.  In the same vein, but different,

are: The Descent Dice Roller and Dicent.

Doom Dice Simulator rolls

the dice for DOOM the boardgame.

Lastly is the Small World Pedia, which appears to be an unofficial encyclopedia of Small World games series involving all the races, powers, relics and legendary places, are displayed the informations on the amount of tokens collected and the rules concerning the powers of each items.
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The Retirement Ceremony of the Shuttle Discovery


WELCOME DISCOVERY, FAREWELL ENTERPRISE

A nearly full moon sets as the space shuttle D...

A nearly full moon sets as the space shuttle Discovery sits atop Launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA in the early morning hours of Wednesday, March 11, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Shuttle21.jpg

My son Garrett and I were at the Udvar Hazy museum in Chantilly, Va today to watch the Shuttle Discovery arrive at her new home, and to say farewell to the Shuttle Enterprise. I recorded a little audio of Discovery moving down the track to go nose to nose with the Enterprise. It was a historic moment, seeing two shuttles that close together.

A little audio play by play: http://misternizz.podbean.com/mf/web/3tswen/Udvar.mp3″

I made a little slideshow on Picpals. If you can’t see it in this blog post,
click HERE
.

Also on PeachPics.

From the Discovery’s trip to Northern Virginia:

Space Shuttle Discovery Arrival

Space Shuttle Discovery Arrival (Photo credit: clg20171)

Space Shuttle Discovery 2 - #108

Space Shuttle Discovery 2 - #108 (Photo credit: Patrick DB)

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DECLARE by Tim Powers (a Review)


DeclareDeclare by Tim Powers

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Review based upon a reading of the original hardcover when it was published years ago, coupled with a recent listening of the Audiobooks.com version.

Tim Powers is one of those go-to contemporary writers for me, in company with Jack McDevitt, Iain Banks, Michael Shea, and Gene Wolfe. This is a group of authors that I will read almost everything they write based upon their previous accomplishments, and will start their books with a generally positive, nay, eager, opinion of the work.

DECLARE is a hard right turn in Tim Power’s literary style. Powers has played around a bit with time-streams in previous works, and he certainly is a writer that likes to infuse a story with legendary and magical elements, portrayed in a “magical realism” style that I have consistently found entertaining. DECLARE features many of these elements, but leaps backward and forward in the time stream so much (1930s-1941-1945-1948-1955-1962, etc) that I often found myself scratching my head and stopping, trying to figure out WHEN I’m reading as well as WHERE. It’s like a literary equivalent of Christopher Nolan’s MEMENTO. DECLARE shifts focus quite a bit. Primarily it’s a magical interpertation of the defining moments of the Cold War, integrating a mystical version of the British Secret Service, the Russian Ohkrana, DJinns, and the “Fifth Man” crisis of the 1950s.

Powers is a dab hand with his characters in all his books– portraying them as confused, arrogant, and often in a negative manner, and they are still riveting. The “anti-hero” trend has increased in the last several books published, and in general, I like it. The inclusion of the historical Kim Philby (one of history’s scumbags) as a POV character in DECLARE became a bit tedious. Power’s Philby is an insufferable ass, selfish, self-conscious, arrogant and cowardly, not unlike the real deal. It’s clear Powers read Philby’s self-serving biography at some point, because he does put us in his shoes and allows us access to his justifications for his actions. The other characters (Elena, Alan Hale, et al) are intriguing cyphers given to bizarre outbursts with very little setup. I didn’t get behind any of them at any point.

So, is this a love story? A spy story? A fantasy story? SHRUG. It’s a fantasy spy story that bounces through time and is told is Power’s classic elegiacal style. I found it to be not as riveting as some of his earlier work, nor as deeply realized as his modern “Fisher King” sequence, but still a lot of fun despite the presence of some despicable characters. DECLARE is not the best Powers book I have read, but definitely time enjoyed and worth the investment in reading.

View all my reviews

It’s the April Puzzle… JIGSAW WISDOM!


The Attached Jigsaw Puzzle contains a small soupçon of wisdom from Ralph Waldo Emerson, albeit in jigsaw puzzle format.  Can you determine what the original advice from Ralph might have been?

What was the original advice from Ralph Waldo? Click to Enlarge

Book Review: THE EXTRA by Michael Shea


The ExtraThe Extra by Michael Shea

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review based upon the Blackstone Audio version of THE EXTRA by Michael Shea, narrated by William Hughes.

Reading (or listening to) a Michael Shea novel is a rare treat for me, because Michael Shea doesn’t exactly crank novels out like a factory. So when they do appear I snap ’em up promptly without much further ado. THE EXTRA caught me by surprise.. I was browsing the audio book section of the U.S. Army’s online library (no kidding!) and there it was, so bang, zip, it was downloading to my Ipad 2.

To say Mr. Shea is “variable” in his style is not entirely accurate, but in the past, he has written in a sort of old pulp pastiche style not unlike a Weird Tales writer from the 50s– almost baroque with his language, florid and very descriptive– my favorite example of this is the outstanding NIFFT THE LEAN series, which I recommend highly. NIFFT is a sort of dark hero/rogue in a humorous, Fritz Leiber vein. There is also THE QUEST FOR SIMBALIS, which is set in Jack Vance‘s DYING EARTH world, and THE COLOUR OUT OF TIME, which is a not-very-subtle homage to Lovecraft. Even with all this hopping about between genre homages, I find Shea’s literary style both instantly recognizable and a joy to read. Shea loves language, that much is obvious, and if he can add in a twelve letter adjective where a five letter one will do, he certainly will do it. This can make his writing a little dense for the newcomer expecting a slam bang adventure novel. Like a good Gene Wolfe or Tim Powers story, Michael Shea’s fiction must be consumed by the sip, not the gulp, like good Tennessee bourbon. You will appreciate them all the more for putting in the effort.

THE EXTRA (2010), wellllll, it pretty much turns everything I just said about Michael Shea on its ear. Gone are the long and thoughtful baroque dialogues, adjectives and pithy asides. Gone is the murky fantasy setting. Gone is the insidious lurking evil… replaced by a modern dystopian setting in a future Los Angeles, where Live Television events have become a billion dollar killing art form, hiring thousands of extras who risk their necks (and many are deliberately slaughtered) in hopes of earning a big cash reward for surviving the movie shoots that employ them. In this future, movie extra work will most probably get you killed, but if by some chance you make it, you will earn enough money to escape the grinding pressures of poverty in future Los Angeles.

Perhaps THE EXTRA was written as a tongue in cheek observation on our societal addiction to increasingly violent forms of entertainment mixed in with Reality Television. It’s hard to say, but the setting was close enough to our own here and now to make a casual reader wonder just how far from reality this story gets. I’ve never been very optimistic about the public taste..

The story is told with multiple points of view: Curtis, a “Riser” who is essentially the lowest rung of the middle class, living in high rise urban arcologies called Risers. Maggie, who is from the lower rent “Zoo” district, poverty ridden and determined to make something of herself for her family’s sake, Kate, an Assistant Director disgraced to a position of “paymaster” on one of the rafts that rewards extras for making Kills against the robotic beasts used in every movie as killers– and Val Margolian, the Supreme architect and director of the movie being shot during the story.

This is a new Michael Shea. No leisurely storytelling pace, no arcane forces at work, just a fast-paced, well written story about Dystopia and what a small group of people had to endure to escape it.

My verdict is easy.. I loved this novel. EXTRA shows great imagination and decent worldbuilding. It will hold up to repeat readings. The Audio Version by Blackstone is quite good. William Hughes does a great job with dialect and voices. A good listen!

View all my reviews

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They’re Made Out of Meat, by Terry Bisson


TheyreMadeOutofMeatGraphic.jpg

The following amusing, short piece was written by Mr. Terry Bisson and first published in Omni Magazine in April of 1991. This story was nominated for a Nebula Award.  The full text is available on East of the Web, HERE. Please give it a read.

More Audio Fun: http://misternizz.podbean.com/mf/web/3suak/TheyAreMadeOutofMeat.mp3″

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Video

Reverend Fred Lane: The French Toast man!


He’s got it wrapped up in a sock! From the Reverend Fred Lane, Musical Genius.

The Windstorm Passes, by Joe R. Lansdale


Cross-posted from Airy Persiflage, the Audio component of 3PoS.

The Windstorm Passes Cover Graphic

I’ll make no bones about it, Mr. Joe R. Lansdale is one of my favorite writers, bar none.  I had wanted to screw up the courage to ask permission to record a shorter piece of his for a very long time now, but didn’t know how to go about it.  Well, sometimes, you just have to ask, I reckon.  Mr. Lansdale very graciously gave me permission to put this shorter piece up (recently available on the “free stories!” section of his website, but out of rotation now).   I love this short story.  Like a lot of Joe’s stuff, full of melancholy, observations about life and not a little bit of humor.   I hope I didn’t screw it up.  Thank you, Mr. Lansdale!

THE WINDSTORM PASSES, copyright, 1986.  Recorded by me with kind permission of the author.

To play, click here.
http://misternizz.podbean.com/mf/web/byimv/TheWindstormPasses-plus11.mp3″

If you can’t run that in a Facebook page for some reason, or are using an IoS device, visit the original Airy Persiflage post.

Joe R. Lansdale a Roma nel 2006. Per gentile c...

Joe R. Lansdale a Roma nel 2006. Per gentile concessione di Francesco Grossi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you like Joe’s stories, I recommend EDGE OF DARK WATER, recently published, which I just picked up.  It’s a cracking good read.

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It’s the April Fun with Wordplay Contest! Woo Hooo!


Quick like a bunny, describe what the associated graphics mean.

Number 1.

Number 2.

Number 3.

Number 4.

Number 5.

Number 6.

As always, feel free to reply using the COMMENTS section or on Facebook or Twitter. Have fun!!

Rear Window in Time Lapse!


Ever wonder what a time lapse film of the opening montage of Hitchcock’s classic thriller REAR WINDOW might look like?  Well, somebody did, because here it is:

Enjoy!

May 2o12 Update: it appears that Vimeo pulled the original.  Sorry!