Thursday 29 November 2018

Mission Impossible: Fallout

Getting hit by lightning is nothing!

Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is tasked in stopping a nuclear threat and assembles a team of familiar faces to do so. His plot armor has also grown thicker in this movie as things go his way through sheer dumb luck, especially towards the finale.

The cast do a good job though, as do all the stuntmen in the extended vehicle scenes and hand to hand combat near the start. Props to Tom for all that sprint training too!

He's really good at running!

The movie has a lot of gotcha moments which are both cool and annoying, having a penchant of showing 5 minutes chunks of events that don't actually happen.

Being the sixth in the franchise, it's obviously a good idea to watch the predecessors, and while its not one I'll actively seek to watch again, I suppose I will if nothing else is on. Definitely only for action and or MI fans, I give this 3 rubber masks out of 5.

Wednesday 28 November 2018


It's always odd to talk about real life products, but hopefully this might be of help to someone.

Ever since I had my appendix removed over 10 years ago (thanks to eating McDonalds for lunch daily for 2 years - yeah, don't do that), various people have commented that my hair seems to be thinning. It's not that I'm bald or have that genetic disposition, but my hair is fine/thin compared to my brother DL.

It's a strange phenomenon, having full hair but still being able to see your scalp outline. Anyway, a month ago the barber suggested I try Activance since it worked for his wife - and because it's super easy to use I said "sure, why not". The application is dry your hair after a shower, massage some Activance in the desired spots, comb it, and leave it.

It does make your hair look wet for a bit afterwards (though if you could rock a mohawk or pompadour then you don't need Activance anyway). Some people have already noticed the difference so that's pretty positive. In case anyone has a similar issue, this one might be worth a try. I use the blue coloured bottle "Total Hair Health Hypoallergenic Leave-in Treatment" version.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

What, no save points?

A bunch of teens come across an old game and decide to play it, quickly finding themselves transported into the world of Jumanji as the characters they chose, which happen to differ wildly to who they are in real life.

Meet the intrepid heroes!

Great liberties are taken in the Jumanji world where not a lot makes sense, but most games (especially older arcade types) never did so in this instance its fine. More importantly while the action is ok, the comedy is great which makes for a very entertaining show.

Might be too silly for some viewers, but it was just the right amount of silly for me. I give it 3 weaknesses out of 5 and would like to watch it again.

Monday 26 November 2018

The Witching Hour (Witcher Adventure Game / Coop)

It's a vast improvement.

The Witcher: Adventure Game has long been at or near the bottom of my favorite games list, mainly because of the dull game play mechanics combined with the dumb idea of making the game PvP.

That doesn't really fit the group of characters provided, since they are almost always allies, and more importantly - a good PvP game makes you care when your opponent is taking action. See El Grande or Lords of Waterdeep.

Great components deserved another picture!

In the base game you can and will often zone out while other players take their turn because its rare that anything they do will really affect you.

Not willing to let the investment, or the nice components go to waste, I decided to try out The Witching Hour fan mod variant, which adds a page of rules for a coop variant to the game and it is a significant improvement.

Chasing the fast moving enemy token on the victory track adds tension, and suddenly you are trying to coordinate with others to chase it down. As far as I'm concerned, this is a must have add-on and actually gives this game a chance of making it back to the regular gaming table.

Sunday 25 November 2018

Jurassic World 2: Fallen Kingdom

Humanity takes another step towards extinction.

After the events of Jurassic World, the now defunct and abandoned dinosaur theme park faces near total extinction thanks to the active volcano on the small island which is perhaps the best outcome for everyone involved.

Alas, thanks to human greed and misplaced animal rights activism (our heroes!) a bunch of people, including a few characters from the first movie, set out to save them... by bringing them to the mainland because nothing could go wrong!

Spoiler: Everything goes wrong.

While the action bits and CGI are all up to par here, the level of stupid in the plot is just too high for me to enjoy. It's also a problem when your heroes (apart from Starlord) are unlikable. I say this is a step down from the last outing and am not keen on watching it again. I give it 2.5 ships full of dino turd out of 5.

Tomb of Annihilation (board game)

Acererak awaits!

Having defeated Ravenloft, Tomb of Annihilation was quite refreshing with all the new yet simple mechanics thrown in. Firstly 2/3rds of the tile stack are outdoor and spacious jungle zones, while the last 3rd is a tight, trap filled tomb.

It's amazing some of these minis are only used once!

I also appreciated the enemy progression this time, and increasing the amount of experience required to cancel an encounter card is an eloquent way to make things harder and drive home the theme.  The spell deck is the biggest feature, yet is only used a handful of times, more often than not by adversaries! All up, a very fun adventure romp that is an improvement on all the previous iterations. I highly recommend it and give it 4.5 zorbos out of 5.

Friday 23 November 2018

Ant Man and the Wasp

One size fits all!

Scott Lang aka Ant Man (Paul Rudd) is the only hope to save someone from the quantum realm in this action comedy sequel where he continues making bad decisions. Fortunately, this is mostly done in a way that makes him more likable which is great. Also Evangeline Lilly fixed her hair from the first film - yay!

All the actors charisma, humor and those high budget special effects and action sequences are almost enough to hide those niggly plot holes such as "why not just stay shrunk?", "why is [x] still alive then?", "magic hands? what?". The villain is somewhat weak character wise too, but serviceable enough.

What plot holes?

Despite the gloss-over treatment for the above, I really enjoyed this movie. It's also suitable for kiddies since it's pretty light in subject matter (until you hit the mid credit extra scene). Definitely would watch this one again, and give it 3.5 "other-stuffings" out of 5.

Thursday 22 November 2018

Neverwinter Online: Gold Bars Tip

While I am reserving my thoughts for the latest module, The Heart of Fire, and the workshop / profession changes that came with it for a later time, I did want to share this tiny thing that is probably old news to many but for me it's totally new!

At the Driftwood Tavern in Protector's Enclave, you can buy a treasure item called "Gold Bar" which trades at a 1:1 ratio for a gold coin (regular currency). Why is this of any use? Because you can then sell the bars at the auction house to make Astral Diamonds!

That gave me a small windfall for enchantment upgrades, so for those with extra gold lying around, it might do the same for you. :) As to why the tavern sells gold bars, it is a mystery! I'll just put it down to money laundering.

The Great Wall

It's to keep the rabbits aliens demons out.

On a quest for black powder, a dwindling team of foreigners (led by Matt Damon) go into China where they stumble upon The Great Wall manned by The Nameless Order - a color coded army of crazies who have devoted their lives to defending it against swarms of monsters. This is obviously a Chinese production, where there are lots of people, lots of nice props, and fair bit of wire work. There's a good deal of Chinese spoken too, but it's cleverly done in that you get most translated (for Matt Damon's sake).

Suicide squad go!

While the opening CGI is worryingly weak, it is really neat in the movie proper. I thought the monsters of this fantasy action film were also quite well done and well thought out apart from one bit right at the end. The story is a bit crazy but it's entertaining, and I quite liked the female lead played by Jing Tian.All up I rather enjoyed this one and would certainly watch it again. If you are looking for a "turn off your brain" action flick this is not a bad choice. I give it 2.5 magnetic rocks out of 5.

Tuesday 20 November 2018

BattleTech: A Final Duel

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

While Lady Kamea's evil uncle is taken into custody and sent for trial, Lady Victoria is not so easily convinced to surrender - still holding a bunch of captives hostage. She challenges Lady Kamea to a ritual BattleTech duel in which both sides will field a lance to determine their true worth. Lady Kamea accepts, and requests the Marauders to be her backup. Gabriel knows he needs his best pilots on this, especially as the previously fielded mechs, including their Highlander trump card, are still severely damaged from the relay station conflict.

With Kamea in her Atlas, she is flanked by Silverlight piloting the Orion, Rattlesnake in a stock Thunderbolt and Gabriel himself in the Battlemaster as they enter the arena. Lady Victoria is in a King Crab, supported by a Jagermech, Cataphract and an Awesome. While the Marauders go left and take care of the Jagermech and Cataphract while luring Victoria's King Crab by slowly damaging it with LRMs, Lady Kamea has difficulty against the Awesome on the right.

When Gabriel realizes that the King Crab is getting too close with it's deadly close range weaponry, he knows there is only one thing to do. "Rattlesnake, take care of the Highlander for me," he orders over the comms as he charges Lady Victoria, drawing fire from his team mates. She blasts limbs off his mech as he does so, but he somehow still reaches her for a headbutt before she finally unloads everything she has on him. Everyone screams as he explodes into blinding array of light and scrap metal.

The sight finally galvanizes Lady Kamea who eliminates the Awesome then flanks her cousin for one final alpha strike to the rear of the King Crab and coring it, killing Victoria once and for all. In the aftermath, Lady Kamea Arano is crowned queen of her people and her coronation also doubles as a remembrance for those who died getting her to the throne.

Long live the Queen!

As for the Marauders, Kid is reunited with her family and leaves the company.  Rattlesnake being the most veteran is now in charge and pilots the Highlander as Gabriel requested while his wife Silverlight rides the Atlas Lady Kamea once used. Unable to settle the life debt to Gabriel, Charybdis stays on with the Marauders as does El Duce, ready for whatever adventures come at them next.

BattleTech: Broadcasting Victory

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

With the planetary defenses down, Lady Kamea's army began descending in earnest with numbers that would easily topple her evil uncles reserve troops, yet he refused to surrender and the reason soon became clear enough: Ostergaard and his Taurian Fortress dropship was on the way. The only chance of stopping him is through another "treasure" from Castle Nautilus - a terrible computer virus that has no known cure.

Gabriel, El Duce, Kid and Charybdis along with a few APCs make a lightning raid on the main relay station up in the mountains, guarded by a Directorate heavy lance and turrets. The Marauders cover the APCs well enough for them to reach their locations, at which point the soldiers within disembark and take control of the turret systems, making them fire upon the defenders.

More Directorate heavy lances are dropped right into the compound but are dealt with by the Marauders who are now taking a beating. The mission is successful though, and with minutes to spare Charybdis transmits the virus to Ostergaard's ship just as he is monologuing about his revenge plot. The result is his thrusters go into full power - towards the planet and there's nothing he or his crew can do about it.


With a massive, ear piercing and ground shattering crash the mighty Fortress Drop ship crashes and explodes into a massive ball of fire, killing Ostergaard and everyone on board. The spectacular sight is enough to make the remaining Directorate forces surrender on the spot, and the Marauders gain a fully functional Orion for their troubles.

Sunday 18 November 2018

BattleTech: Skill beats Gear

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

By the time construction of the low gravity pool on board the Argo was done, the previously out of commission Kid, Silverlight and Rattlesnake were finally back on their feet. Based on security footage of the new recreation area it became clear to Gabriel that Rattlesnake and Silverlight were also more than co-workers and friends. He let them have their time together and took Charybdis, El Duce and Kid who was now eager to make up for her earlier failings, to fight against the Magistracy of Canopus who were raiding a planet on the border.

The Canopians brought some high class mechs, but unskilled pilots who kept overheating their bots and were easily flanked and defeated - earning the Marauders a springy Grasshopper mech. Soon afterwards, Lady Kamea made contact again - this time for the final push against her evil uncle. The first task would be to silence the orbital cannons by destroying 3 generators before her main force arrives. Leading the way in the Highlander, Gabriel took Charybdis in the Battlemaster, Kid in a Catapult and El Duce in the new grasshopper onto the field.

Artillery fire is pretty!

Being a timed mission, El Duce and Kid quickly sped off on separate paths to take down the further generators while Gabriel and Charybdis handled the defenses which now included Spider Spotter mechs who called in artillery strikes. It was still an easy mission however, as the strikes were predictable, and the defending lances unskilled. Additional defenders arrived too late afterwards, and were easily flanked by the fast moving Kid and El Duce. They stood no chance.

Saturday 17 November 2018

BattleTech: Royal Guard

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

When Lady Kamea contacted the Argo for their next job, her voice sounded far more urgent than usual. A personal friend of hers who had been sent to collect data on the Directorate on a remote planet had been captured - and due to the positioning of her forces only her own ship and the Argo could mount a rescue mission. Gabriel explained that while the mechs were ready to go they were a number of pilots down due to the viral attack. Kamea's solution was simple: she brought her own.

With Gabriel in the Highlander, Charybdis in the Battlemaster, Reynard supporting in the Kintaro LRM platform, and Lady Kamea in her Atlas the team made planet fall and began wrecking the prison transport convoy, only to find it to be a decoy. Lady Victoria's voice came over the comms laughing at her cousin. This was a trap for her! Soon Directorate forces were dropping in almost as fast as they could destroy them.

Getting punched by a 100 ton mech has got to hurt!

It wasn't all for nothing however, as the spy left his intel at a nearby mountain outpost. The four of them made their way there quickly and held position under fire while the data downloaded. During this, Reynard suffered an internal explosion when he was flanked and he and the Kintaro exploded magnificently, what with all the tons of missiles still in their racks. The rest weren't doing that great either with Charybdis being saved at the last minute from flankers by Gabriel. Finally the download completed and the extract ship whisked them away before the Directorate forces overran the base. The data recovered was proof of just how much of a scum Kamea's evil uncle really is.

Lady Kamea returned to her main force afterwards to plan the next move, but Charybdis opted to stay with the Marauders as she now held a life debt to their commander.

BattleTech: Kick Starter

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

In between hunting pirates, Gabriel recruits a shady character called El Duce who literally pays 100,000 credit to join the team / escape from his planet. He is a better pilot than usual because apparently he's a Kickstarter backer!? He also has interesting information in that Kid working as a spy for the enemy. A quiet investigation supports this but instead of firing her, Gabriel keeps her on to feed her misinformation. El Duce also takes her spot on in the Catapult on the grounds that he has "more experience" (though Gabriel knew Kid was better than him by now).

I wish you were allowed to field more than 4 units.
The enemy has no such restriction.

Not long after Lady Kamea requests the Marauders aid once more, this time for some base defense against a large Directorate force. Fortunately it is mostly composed of light to medium mechs supported by a fleet of APCs. With good positioning, multiple base turrets, and misinformation fed to the enemy, they are easily wiped out. Kid, realizing she's been made, attempts a last ditch attack on the Argo using a virus vial. Rattlesnake and Silverlight manage to tackle her into a sealed room when the vial breaks though, exposing only the three of them to the sickness.

They are immediately taken to the now high tech medical facilities of the ship, and while treatment would take awhile - all of them would live. In tears, Kid explains she was forced to do this to try save her family who had been enslaved to Kamea's evil uncle. Despite the damage she caused, the team promise that they'll do their best to help her.

Friday 16 November 2018

BattleTech: The Front Lines

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

Gabriel, Viking, Rattlesnake and Silverlight (now in a Catapult mech) arrived at the spaceport just in time to help defend it against waves of Taurian lances. Even with the allied turrets and ground forces assisting, it was a close fight but ultimately all the Taurian mechs fell and all the evacuation ships took off with full loads of refugees. Almost immediately afterwards they went to intercept an elite Directorate recon team composed of very skilled pilots - not as skilled as the Marauders though, and as they walked away from that victory with a Battlemaster.

Using a dense sand storm as cover from radar detection, the squad then advanced to capture Directorate silos in a nearby canyon - a very easy stealth mission for the crew.  The Directorate then sent out their big guns, a lance composed of mechs they retrieved from Castle Nautilus composed of a Black Knight, Grasshopper, King Crab and a Highlander - much like the one Gabriel was piloting!

Strong armor and deadly weapons at close range.

It's a tough fight, and despite their superior tactics the King Crab manages to get in range of its devastating weapons and shreds Viking and his Thunderbolt into pieces. The Kid, who had just mostly been honing her skills in the training module until now takes his place as the Marauders withdraw to do side missions to recoup the losses. She pilots the Catapult while Silverlight upgrades to the Battlemaster.

Thursday 15 November 2018

BattleTech: Federated Suns

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

Before Ostergaard's Fortress dropship could lift off again, Lady Kamea ordered her fleet to scatter to make pursuit more difficult. The Argo went its own way, laying low in House Davion's territory (also known as the Federated Suns) and hunting pirates for them. Gabriel was most pleased with Lady Kamea's latest gift, a thank you from Castle Nautilus, in the form of a Starleague Highlander mech - a good blend of speed, power and armor.

"So, when do we get to try out the Highlander?" Rattlesnake would ask. "Over my dead body," would be Gabriel's semi-serious reply.

It's a very good robot.

The pirates had begun fielding some serious numbers now, but through careful tactics, Gabriel led his squad to victory after victory, assembling more fearsome war machines, and celebrating with a party in the new garden aboard the Argo.

After a few weeks Lady Kamea finally called, and she had an urgent task for them. Instead of pursuing the fleet, Ostergaard went to the prison Lady Victoria was being held at and freed her. For good measure, he also started killing everyone on the planet who "support Lady Kamea". The citizens fleeing to the star ports needed protection and since this was obviously a trap to lure Kamea out, the Marauders would be sent instead.

Tuesday 13 November 2018

BattleTech: Ostergaard's Rage

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

"Kamea, you're about to have company," warned Gabriel over the comms as he watched the large red blip on the radar get closer. While his own people had already pulled out from Castle Nautilus, Kamea's support crafts were still loading the precious cargo that they found. "Let them come," replied Kamea defiantly. "My uncle doesn't have the resources to match these war machines."

"I don't think that's from Directorate ... it... it's a Taurian Fortress Class dropship! Get out of there!"

"Lady Kamea," boomed a new voice through the speakers as the ground began to quake with the . "I am Samuel Ostergaard, a new ally to the Directorate and I have come for your head!"

Knowing there was no time to waste, Kamea ordered a full evacuation and boarded the nearest Atlas mech while her body guards Charybdis, Reynard and Kanalon boarded other types of Starleague design as the rear guard. By the time the elevator returned them to the surface, light lances of Taurian mechs were already charging the castle but were easily wiped out by Starleague weaponry.

One of the smallest mechs punching the largest.

This didn't deter Samuel though, who simply sent waves of his own assault mechs in coordination with artillery strikes. It was a tough fight, with Kanalon being shredded limb from limb much like his Black Knight. Kamea's Atlas was also in bad shape towards the end, but her martial arts skills ended Ostergaard's final pursuer who blocked the way to the extraction point.

"I will find you Kamea," he promised on an open channel as she escaped. "I will avenge my son!"

Only when she was back in the safety of space did they realize Ostergaard's son was the pilot of the Newgrange, and because of that one death the Restoration had an entirely new and more powerful enemy house to deal with.

BattleTech: Castle Nautilus

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

With Lady Victoria behind bars, Gabriel decided to spend the big payday earned from the last mission on more ship upgrades and recruitment gaining "Kid" the young gun, and a tough looking brute called Viking. They were immediately deployed with Silverlight and Rattlesnake and proved themselves by recovering Restoration operatives while destroying many Directorate light lances, as well as one pirate scouting party. Gabriel, on the Argo, took care of the pirate space vessels at the same time - saving some civilian transports in the process.

Not long afterwards, Lady Kamea came aboard the Argo for a special treasure hunting mission. She had acquired a map to an old Starleague base called Castle Nautilus long thought lost. The Marauders headed to the isolated little planet and landed, with Lady Kamea leading the way in her own Kintaro with Silverlight, Rattlesnake and Viking providing support against the surprisingly dangerous endless waves of automated drones that activated on their approach.

This was particularly scary for Rattlesnake in the unarmored Kintaro, as he had to sprint forward to the castle gates with the rest of his team mates. Silverlight provided good cover though, and Viking acted as rear guard in a Thunderbolt. Once they could access the gate control panel, Lady Kamea could finally shut off the defenses and the team gained access to the castle proper. Turns out the castle is a warehouse of pristine Starleague Assault mechs!

Odd thing to forget about.

Monday 12 November 2018

BattleTech: Surprise Encounter

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

The next task from Lady Kamea is to take down a refueling drop ship called the Newgrange which is supposedly smuggling supplies for the Directorate. While the turret generators were sniped with ease by Silverlight, the medium mech lance defending the platform was crushed by Rattlesnakes bombardment. The drop ship pilot pleaded on the comms saying they were only transporting civilians but letting them go wasn't what Lady Kamea was paying them for. Gabriel didn't hesitate to shoot the fuel lines sending a chain reaction of explosions into the solid hull of the ship, destroying it and whatever cargo it held.

Enemy destroyed.

At that moment, a new enemy lance landed - surprisingly led by Kamea's evil cousin: Lady Victoria! These mechs were fully armored, heavier than usual and had trained pilots to boot. Discord and Gabriel acted as the tanks, drawing fire away from the long range missile pair who were doing the majority of the damage. Victoria was a good shot though, and lazered right into the cockpit of Discord's Thunderbolt, frying him into crispy pata.

Gabriel then used his Dragon's speed and piloting skills to get up and destroy Victoria's mech in close quarters only to have her eject at the last minute. When her team then focused fire on him, he had to do the same as the Dragon is utterly destroyed. Fortunately the rest of Victoria's squad was badly damaged at that point, and were finished off from the ridge line by Rattlesnake and Silverlight.

Now on foot, Gabriel rushed over to Victoria's escape pod and found her unconscious. He was tempted to kill her right there, but being royalty and all he decided to instead capture her for questioning.

Sunday 11 November 2018

BattleTech: High Morale

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

With the squad now composed of Silverlight in the Griffin (scout), Discord in the Vindicator (skirmisher), Rattlesnake in the Trebuchet (support), and Gabriel in the Dragon (close quarters heavy) they begin thrashing the opposition, defeating competing merc companies, rescuing scientists, capturing pirate bases and defending Restoration strongholds. They even successfully hunt an outlaw in a Thunderbolt mech with little problem.

Shooting people in the back is the way to victory!

Indeed the most major loss for awhile is when Rattlesnake tried to upgrade an Autocannon 5 and ended up wrecking it. Apparently Silverlight had tried to teaching him some tech work. It's a good time on board the Argo, and watching the Solaris Championship (Mech gladiator TV) in the new entertainment area only strengthened the teams morale.

Their next job came from the government of Lyreton who claimed to have sighted an enemy heavy mech, but this turned out to only be a ruse to get the Marauders to help them defend against the invading Capellan Confederation. Unhappy at being lied to, Gabriel then sided with the Capellan's to assassinate the government official who lied to them, before switching sides once more to protect a city from Capellan attack. While the Marauder's didn't really make any friends there, they came out richer and with a brand new Thunderbolt mech which would replace Discord's Vindicator and a Kintaro, which would replace Rattlesnake's Trebuchet.

Following the specs originally suggested by Jim, Gabriel had the Kintaro stripped of all armor, jump jets, heat sinks and weapons other than long range missiles. Rattlesnake now had three times the number of missiles to fire before running out.

Saturday 10 November 2018

BattleTech: Perfect Practice makes Perfect

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

From the scraps of the last battle the Marauders manage to assemble a Trebuchet, which Gabriel uses as a long range missile platform (another suggestion from Jim). He also trades in his lighter mechs to purchase a Griffin. He then takes his squad to the outer periphery to fight lesser pirates and build up their skills, with Discord in the Vindicator, Gabriel in the Griffin and Rattlesnake far away in the Trebuchet.

Their performance improves drastically and so does the Marauders income with the excess going to making the Argo even more habitable and hiring Sarah Excel Silverlight to pilot a salvaged Blackjack. Silverlight seems to also have some tech skills, managing to upgrade a medium laser within her first week on board. It's not long before Lady Kamea gives them another mission: to take an ammo dump from Directorate forces. The yard is defended by turrets and two lances of mechs, the second one sporting a heavier set including a Dragon.

Tons of missiles yet still, melee is more fun.

Master flanks the facility from the ridge line and explodes some of the ammo dumps, taking care of the turrets and damaging the heavies while Discord and Silverlight flank the lights, landing numerous back shots. Rattlesnake eventually runs out of missiles, but at that point the remaining mechs are so damaged that he can melee them to death. The mission is a success, and from it Gabriel can rebuild the enemy Dragon though it requires selling the Blackjack for funding and components. Silverlight is assigned the Griffin instead.

Friday 9 November 2018

BattleTech: The Wise Man

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

Downtrodden with the company's losses, Gabriel finds himself at an Orbit Bar while the other team members get some needed shore leave. There he meets another mercenary leader called Wild Jim who offers him some advice on battle tactics. He takes the lessons onboard and regroups at the Agro where Medusa has returned with a new hire, Michael Gray, who strikes Gabriel as an unhinged serial killer type - perhaps his claim of being stuck in some bunker with an annoying woman for years (whom he presumably murdered) is actually true.

The next job is to assassinate a Directorate leader, one of the House Arano rebels. Gabriel deploys the last three mechs they have, all lights. Discord manning the Locust, Rattlesnake in a Spider, and Medusa in the trusty Vindicator. They come up against five mechs led by a Cicada, and while Discord is wounded  (and his mech damaged) in the clash they find victory through hit and run tactics ("always be on the move" as suggested by Jim) and salvage a Jaguar and a Jenner in the process.

Lady Arano then asks for their assistance in taking over a spaceport on a nearby planet, specifically to destroy their command center within to slow an advancing Directorate fleet. Gray, Rattlesnake, Medusa and Master deploy, and are assisted by Restoration engineers who manage to turn the local turrets into allies midway through the mission. Gabriel manages to sneak around the defending mechs in his Jenner to destroy the command post while the other three keep them busy using Jim's advice of targeting specific sections to go for ammo storage or sever weaponry from opponents. Gray in the Spider is melted early on though, and Medusa is really banged up in the Vindicator but manages to reach the extraction point just in time.

Despite that, Medusa never wakes from his wounds and dies on the operating table of the Argo. 

People die off the battlefield too.

Wednesday 7 November 2018

BattleTech: Run Faster

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

Gabriel awakes just in time to see the Argo on fire. Luckily, Judge and Medusa react quickly to put it out. Apparently the new cabling for the training pod was somewhat faulty. "Don't worry Master, you just continue to rest up. I got this," assured Medusa before departing for another deployment. This time it was an escort mission to get four APCs filled with weaponry to an extraction point. The pirates are interested in said weaponry too and field two lances of mechs to stop them.

It is a mad dash to the waypoint, and when Judge is tripped up by heavy autocannon fire her sister Tranquility turns around to martial arts the pursuers. This buys Judge sometime to recover and limp onward but is knocked down again. Before she can stand a second time a rain of missiles falls upon her, one breaching the cockpit glass and penetrating through her right shoulder before exploding.

Tranquility yells in despair as her sister dies, leaving her open for an enemy Shadowhawk to punch through her rear armor. She is completely surprised to find herself right in the palm of the enemy mech, who then promptly crushes her in a shower of blood. During this time one of the APCs is also disabled, but the rest of the team extract successfully. The 1 million+ credits Medusa negotiated for payment barely covers their losses.

Get us out of here!

BattleTech: Rookie Trials

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

With Gabriel unconscious in the medbay and a few pilots down, Medusa and Glitch decide to hire more help - specifically a team of rookies each for trials.

There's no shortage of them apparently!

Medusa recruits the Blaugustian Discord, sly guy Rattlesnake and prim and proper gal Broadway whom he takes to ambush a convoy. Broadway, riding a Jenner, doesn't even survive the first exchange of bullets leaving the others a harder time to complete the mission. They still do, but right afterwards Rattlesnake makes the mistake of dismounting from his mech to claim some "personal" salvage and is ambushed by humanoid insect like natives. He fights them off but is wounded in the exchange.

Meanwhile Glitch assembles a team composed of the sisters Judge and Tranquility as well as a man with piercing eyes with the callsign Shiver. They deploy on a what's meant to be an easy mission of destroying a pirate lance acting as forward observers, but everything goes to hell when a second lance arrives in a flanking position. Glitch manages to get her team up to a lake in the mountains which helps the mechs keep cool while firing but it isn't enough for Shiver who overheats his mech, making him an easy target for an enemy Blackjack. Shiver dies burning in agony.

Glitch manages to keep the others at bay for the most part, with Judge showing off her evasive piloting skills while Tranquility messes up some of the enemies with her robot jujitsu. Unfortunately an enemy manages to flank Glitch and kill her from the back, moments before Tranquility destroys it with a fist through the chest and earning a mission victory. Seeing something must be done with all the novices, Medusa orders the tech team to start building training pods so they can practice and gain skills before hitting the battlefield for real.

Tuesday 6 November 2018

BattleTech: Broken

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

With the bank debts cleared thanks to Lady Arano's funding, the Marauders manage to get in some little jobs of cleaning up brigands and damaged straggler lances before being summoned once more by Lady Kamea to aid in a prison break. The plan is for her forces to engage the majority of the defenses, leaving the back door open for Master's Marauders to breach the prison. Gabriel, Behemoth, Glitch and Dekker (now in a Panther mech) deploy once more and have an easy time taking out the few tanks and defense turrets left to defend the prison exterior wall.

They are in for a nasty surprise when they jump over it though, finding a heavy lance had been left as rear guard. The fighting is furious, and Behemoth gets "cored" by the enemy Jagermech, killing her through internal explosions. Soon after, Dekker is tripped up and screams like a bitch as a Centurion frame stops down hard on the cockpit crushing him like a bug. It's at this time Lady Kamea arrives in her own Kintaro robot, busting through another wall to offer support.

Size advantage is a thing.

Gabriel and Glitch jump up to the high walls where they have an easier time scoring critical hits against the enemies, but it is truly Lady Kamea that saves the day with her rockets and martial arts. While Glitch manages to make it through with minor injury, Gabriel is severely wounded and near comatose as his mech had already lost a leg and both arms by the end of combat. As compensation, Lady Kamea gives the Marauders the now semi-repaired ancient spaceship that the team secured from the pirate moon. It is named "the Argo".

Monday 5 November 2018

BattleTech: Master's Marauders

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

Gabriel somehow escaped capture that day, and found himself joining a rag tag mercenary group called the Marauders. It didn't take long for them to realize he was the best of them and after sometime they decided to make him their leader, earning him the moniker of "Master".  It was after getting double crossed by some contractors (again) that he really sat down to look at the company finances. With the debts to the bank on top of all the other repairs, roster salaries and space ship expenses, things did not look good for Master's Marauders.

He decided to start negotiating contracts with better salvage rights, since selling recovered gear seemed to be more lucrative than getting a flat fee. Not that the tactic worked very well since it was mech parts that sold well, and his lance was mostly going up against various vehicles of pirate factions. Fortunately a mysterious contract came out of the blue, requesting his team to retrieve an old, crashed spaceship from a pirate moon base. The pay was huge, so regardless of the risks his second in command - a smelly guy named Medusa convinced Gabriel to deploy the squad.

With covering fire from Glitch's vindicator, Dekker in his agile spider mech was quick to reach and disable the turret generators protecting the pirate base. Once there it became more a brawl against the numerous but poorly maintained enemy forces. This is where Behemoth showed off her martial arts skills in the Shadowhawk, engaging in robot-fu against the pirate queen and her cohorts.

Melee is a great attack alternative for overheating mechs!

With the day won and the pirates cleared out the mysterious contact reveals herself to be none other than Lady Kamea herself, and expresses her desire for Gabriel's team to aid in her restoration movement.

Sunday 4 November 2018

BattleTech: Rebellion

[Part of the BattleTech Story.]

"We're on," barked Raju's grumpy voice over the comms. "On my way," replied Gabriel as he throttled his Blackjack mech into a jog. He had worked for Raju ever since arriving from the Deep Periphery, and was now escorting the future queen - Lady Kamea Arano to her coronation. As was tradition, Lady Kamea piloted her own mech as the trio advanced through the woods to the ceremony grounds.

It wasn't a long hike before they were meant to be joined by the rest of the royal guard, but instead of finding a parade of vehicles waiting to join the entourage they instead found ... gunfire! The rebels, piloting light mechs and tanks sure picked a good day for it but were totally out gunned by their targets. "What's going on?" demanded Kamea over the radio as she noticed her own house insignia on the vehicles of her fallen foes.

"Mi'lady!" came back a distressed voice, one of her closest friends. "You need to get out of here, your uncle's troops have taken control of..." A loud explosion followed by static ended the transmission. "We're not far from the Beta Dropship," grumbled Raju. "We can make our escape from there." Kamea thought twice about arguing with the man her recently deceased father appointed as Captain of the Guard. "Very well," was all she could muster.

The squad made good time to the spaceport, and slaughtered the enemy mechs stationed there who attempted to block their passage. Just as Kamea made it on board, Lady Victoria, Kamea's cousin, arrived in with her own kill squad to stop the escape. While Gabriel and Raju turned to face the pursuers, Gabriel's Blackjack suddenly ejected him without warning. "You taught me well Raju," came Victoria's snide voice. "I had some alterations done to your friends mech there. You know how I hate fighting fair."

Those are terrible odds.

"You traitor!" bellowed Raju as he charged headlong into the enemy squad. Gabriel could only watch Raju's bot was beaten down into a trash heap while Kamea's escape ship lifted off behind him.


Part of the Mech Warrior universe, BattleTech is currently the latest in the long line of games featuring greatly customizable giant robots blasting the heck out of other giant robots. This particular game is of a tactical, turn based variety and makes a good base for the next story set!

Chapter 01 - Rebellion
Chapter 02 - Master's Marauders
Chapter 03 - Broken
Chapter 04 - Rookie Trials
Chapter 05 - Run Faster
Chapter 06 - The Wise Man
Chapter 07 - Perfect Practice makes Perfect
Chapter 08 - High Morale
Chapter 09 - Surprise Encounter
Chapter 10 - Castle Nautilus
Chapter 11 - Ostergaard's Rage
Chapter 12 - Federated Suns
Chapter 13 - The Front Lines
Chapter 14 - Kick Starter
Chapter 15 - Royal Guard
Chapter 16 - Skill beats Gear
Chapter 17 - Broadcasting Victory 
Chapter 18 - A Final Duel

This story has concluded. Thank you for reading!

Saturday 3 November 2018

The Princess Bride

Review this movie? As you wish!

The majority of this movie is a tale told by a grandfather to his grandson, which is a nice blend of fantasy romance comedy. It tells a tale of true love and more importantly, is highly entertaining to watch!

Especially this fantastic duel!

This is in the era before computer generated effects, so it resorts to the more relatable stunt and prop methods which really work for it. A good story, good acting, good comedy bits, good cinematography... this film a complete package. Yes, there are some parts that make no sense but just enjoy the ride. The low body count makes it suitable for kids too!

Highly recommended and one I'd definitely watch again. I give the Princess Bride 4.5 fencing duels out of 5.

Friday 2 November 2018

November 2018 Status

So much for being productive! Instead, I've been hammering Neverwinter Online as of late, trying to get as much out of the salvage system before the next module: Heart of Fire, removes it - something I'm not very happy with. I am quite digging the broom rewards from the current Masquerade event though. :P

    End the year with less weight (0 kg from last month, running total still: -3.9 kg)
    Draw 12 drawings of anything (11/12)
    Make board game prototype (no progress)
    Complete web comic chapter 1 (no progress)
    Clean out wardrobe (no progress)

Backlog Update:

FROM GIFTS (or freebies)
Sims 3

Board games:
Witcher board game redemption trial (done)
Mice and Mystics Campaign (6/11)
Zombicide: Black Plague Campaign (3/11)
Play Zombie in my Pocket (done)
London Dread Campaign (0/4)
Play Adamastor (0/2 modes)

Thursday 1 November 2018

Zombie in my Pocket (Single Player Version)

Small enough to travel with you!

This is my first foray into Print and Play games, which I imagine is as close as you can get to Free to Play in the board game variety. It's free to download, you just have to do some scissoring prep work afterwards before you can play. :)

Note: As alluded to in the title, this review is for the 1 player free version. Apparently there's a paid 1-8 player version available.

Designed to literally fit in your pocket, this is clever little solitaire type card game where in you must explore a house and its grounds to stop a zombie uprising. Exploration is done by flipping over little tiles and a cycling event deck that tells you what you encounter.

Obviously I only printed in black and white.

Combat is a simple math equation, and if you run out of health or run out of time (via the event deck running out 3 times), you lose. If you find the doohickey in the secret temple and manage to bury it in the graveyard you win!

While there's a tiny modicum of choice here (mainly in resting gives you HP but kills time), most of your games will boil down to luck. Just like Solitaire, but more fun. Pretty cool if you are into that sort of thing, but obviously no match for a game with multiplayer. I give it 2 femurs out of 5.