Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: Co-Operation & Betrayal

Welcome back to Monday Night Mordheim.

One of my favorite things about Mordheim isn't even in the core book. Chaos on the Streets matches. You can find these rules in different places, I believe they are most notable in the 2002 Annual, which really was the last thing of importance to be added to the game.

Chaos in the Streets are big multiplayer games, and they work considerably better then most other game's multiplayer games. While it is added after the initial creation, it doesn't feel that way. The rules are very clear cut and handled in a way that makes sense. While seeming to be Byzantine in the beginning, after a bit of thought and a trial run or two, they become intuitive and natural. While that is well and good, the real strength of the Chaos in the Streets match is the interaction between players.

 The interaction is the key, alliances and betrayals. Everyone is in it for themselves first and foremost, but in the Chaos on the Streets matches, its all about making the best deal in the short term before slaughtering your foe. To be really successful in a Chaos on the Streets match, you have to co-operate. You have to join forces to accomplish anything worth while. If you try to stick it out on your own, others will gang up on you and gank you before you have a chance to do anything. Odd numbers in this type of match will make for some strange alliances, and it stays surprisingly even above 3 man matches. That being said, you have to get together with someone, at the very least to increase your survivability. Without some sort of co-operation, there are several different Chaos on the Streets matches that you can't win until extremely late in a campaign.

While Co-operation is important in the beginning of the match, the key thing to learn is when to turn on your allies. While it is technically possible to share a win with someone, it really isn't that much fun. The important thing is to know when you can turn the tables. It is a fine balancing act. You have to know when to strike. Too early and your former friend is too powerful, too late and they strike first. Striking that balance is a hard skill to learn, and even harder to master.

There's a few key things to keep in mind before you turn.
1. Is the alliance still beneficial to you? Is there some thing that you are getting that you wouldn't otherwise? This might be as simple as keeping your friends Rat Ogre occupied with other people, to them providing covering fire.
2. Will your soon to be former mate benefit more from turning on you in the next round? This is important. If they stand to gain quite a bit, you might want to turn on them before they get a chance to.
3. Is your business with the other players that you aren't allied with done? If the other others are still up and running, and still strongly allied, it might not be the best time to turncoat.
4. Will this piss the other guy off? Probably the stupidest and best reason to do it. Sometimes when you play a wargame, you get the chance to be a dick. Take advantage of it when it will be appreciated, not when it isn't.  You won't get many chances to be a total douche and your friends congratulate you for it.

Well, that's all I got for this week. Next week I think I'll talk about the different types of Chaos on the Streets and some of the additional tactics you can use with them. Unless I forget and write about something else entirely. Which is always possible.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim: Extra Rules

Hello, and welcome back to Monday Night Mordheim. Things are turning over nicely around here, got the schedules all settled, and everything is going well with everything getting back in the groove. It's all about the planning. I get the stuff done. School is easy, its the other stuff that's hard.

See, that's the thing I like, the other stuff. Scouts, and that sort of thing. That's why one of my absolutly favorite things about Mordheim is the optional critical hit table. The thing is that a lot of people choose not to use it. There's two main reasons for that. The first is that it is optional, which means a lot of people skip over it. The second reason is that some people feel that some of the optional critical hit table is not as powerful as the regular one.

The thing is that the second group is right. I've always been in the mind that the optional critical hit table is what was really intended to be in the main game, not tacked on at the end. The main critical hit table is deadly. Overly so. Like 1st Edition D&D 'Tomb of Horrors' deadly. The main critical hit table has caused games to flip over on me on a number of times. Both for the better and for the worse.

On the other hand is the optional critical hit table. I personally find it much more useful. Like above, I have two reasons for it, (parity HAHA!). The first is the crunch is much less likely to crush you. The optional critical hit table is a bit more forgiving. I find this important since there are so few models in Mordheim, each one is as important as a rook or a bishop in chess. You can't afford things to get taken off the table from what basically equates to really good luck. While luck will always have a part to play in any game where the main mechanic is dice based, the main critical hit table really really over emphasizes it. Too many games have swung drasitically from one way to the other because of a couple of rolls on the critical hit tables. The other thing that I really like from the optional critical hit table is that the optional rules are more favorful. There's slight changes to the rules depending on the type of weapon that you are using. I especially like one of the spear rolls, where you skewer someone and can potentially drive them off a ledge or something. That's the kind of thing I want to see in a critical hit table, interesting things that don't necessarily change the whole game, but make the particular combat that they are happening in more memorable. Seriously, no one remembers doing extra wounds with no armor save and bonus to the damage result table. Everyone remembers when a goblin pushes some dude off a bridge down three stories.

That's the thing, Mordheim is a wargame, but it has an element of style harkening towards a more RPG center. I can go on about that for days, but I'm not going to. The thing is that Mordheim more then most wargames is a shared story experience. When you can, why would you choose boring mechanics that are potent over mechanics that make the play experience so much richer. If you've been playing, and you haven't been using the optional critical hit charts in the back of the book, stop right now. Go play a game with them, you'll find yourself immensely pleased. Especially if you use a variety of weapons when playing.

That's about all I got in the tank for tonight. I'll see you fools next week!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Night Mordheim; A Return to Normalcy

We're pleased to return you to your regularly scheduled blog!

Well, its been awhile, and I'm a bit rusty here. After much craziness and other things, now things have gotten back on track. It's been a heck of a couple of weeks. Been busy at work, school started back up, and tonight was the first Cub Scout meeting. 

See, there's the thing of it. All summer long I was late for work, I missed blog posts, and generally screwed around. I was missing the structure in my life that comes from my being Daddy. Kids didn't have to get ready in the morning, and they didn't have anything to do after I got home from work. For them it was heaven, nothing but X-box, Doctor Who, and going to the water park. For me, it was hell. I don't do well when there's no plan. I like having my days planned, my weeks mapped out, and my months booked months in advance. 

That's me, but to be honest, its one of the reasons that I do so well in maintaining games. I get into grooves. I shuck and jive. I think that scheduling is one of the most important thing for proper hobbying. Hobby-ing? Hobbieing? Hobbing? Whatever. I do what hobby when I can. Granted, lately that's not much. Got a bunch of other things going on. However, I now have that mind space available to me. It's important to me to keep that bit separate. 

The thing is people complain about not having time to hobby. Yes, we would all love an extra day of the week devoted to nothing but hobby. No school, no work, no social obligations, no anything but painting, terrain buildings, and gaming. That's not possible for most of us. Most of have those other things going on. 

So its important to grab hobby time any time you can. I know that a couple of my PCs in my Friday Night Skype D&D game are painting while we game. I would totally do that, if I weren't the DM and busier then a one legged tyranid in a jumping contest. I can grab a few hours to blog about the game I love on Monday Nights. I don't have anything else cluttering up the schedule. That's one of the reasons that I love Mordheim so much, it doesn't take much to hobby up. 

You can speed an hour or so knocking up stuff to play, and then like an hour and a half to play a single game. If you can arrange that about once a week or so, you will get more hobby done, and more time to play. It doesn't take the huge amount of time that WHFB or 40K does. Just a bit. Then if you get bored of what you are doing, you can easily switch. 

So it seems in my first week back, I wrote a wall of text about nothing in particular, but like I said, I'm getting back in the swing of things. Soon I'll be doing stuff more directly related to Mordheim, but I gotta get back in the groove. So I'll leave it at that, until next week!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Metagaming the Metagame.

As is well documented across the blog, I have a tendency to metagame. I like the metagame when it comes to RPGs. It's pitting the player against the DM, in a battle of wits. There's nothing quite like it. I've mentioned that if a DM gives me something that I'm going to use it, and well, I've taken that around the other side.
I love a feint within a feint, inside a trick. A few weeks ago, I told my current PCs in my Skype game that my friend Megan was designing a bad guy for the sandbox game of D&D we were running. That way they would run into it whenever they wandered into the wrong area. Those who know her are rather wondering what she's stated up.
However, Po started sending her emails just to be an annoyance today. So I thought that a bit of turnabout is fair play. I quicked up some stats for a 10th level thrikreen psion vampire. Then I 'accidentally' hit reply all to the wrong email thread. The email was something along the lines of; 'I fixed the formatting, please send me the psionic powers please, I need it for next week'.
So right now, I'm waiting to see if they take the bait and start stocking up on holy symbols, holy water, garlic, and other anti-vampire things. So during the middle of the game tonight, I'm going to post this blog post. So then they'll know kinda what's really going on. If they bother to check my blog. Evil? Maybe. Did I tell them that there was game info on the blog that they should use? Definitely. Will Megan and I laugh if they go in to face her baddy armed for vampires and encounter something else entirely, yes, yes we will.
A feint within a feint, within a dirty trick, and a tell that they have to pick up on. I'm not a nice DM, but I TOLD them what was going on.