Monday, December 18, 2017

Heavy metal in space and other thoughts

Heavy metal in space

We played another Beyond the Gates of Antares game at the Panzer Depot on Saturday. It was kind of ersatz. We played a straight-up Algoryns v. Concord fight for control of some buildings on a central hill. The game was a chance for me to use my new Algoryn hazard armor troops that I've had in the works since the summer (August maybe) but only just finished in time for the game (you could still smell the dullcote, which I applied at 10:00 a.m. that morning).

Troy Wold got called into work late Friday and worked through the night, so he begged off playing, which left just Mike Lombardi and I to play. Chris Craft came by and I drafted him into the Algoryn forces and entrusted to him the new hazard armor squads. Other potential players just stayed to kibbitz or observe.

I had an AI assault squad and an AI squad in the center with "General Zod" (i.e., Algoryn General Tar Es Janar) and two command squaddies in reserve and exerting his "10" command value to all networked squads. On the right I had some support weapons: a fearsome plasma cannon, mag light support, and X-launcher. All with three crew and spotter drones. My apparently unbrilliant idea was to use the AI assault squad to take and hold the buildings with an AI squad in reserve and them hold the flanks with the support weapons and hazard armor troops.

Kneel before Zod!
I had high hopes for the hazard armor troops to be a formidable force de frappe, but they were kinda "meh" in the game. The blame lies with my deployment. I thought that their "10" armor would make then near impervious in a firefight, but I confused myself into thinking that their low agility (a "3") would make them a liability if used in dense terrain, which is only true if I wanted them to run through the woods. I left them with Chris out in the open and he spent the game trading shots at long range with some of Mike's Concord drop squads hunkered down in the trees.

The respective armament of the opposing squads was the same (plasma carbines) except for the one plasma lance-armed figure in each Concord squad ("4" strike value). Chris got the worst of the exchange. His "10" resist was reduced to "8" after factoring the "2" strike value for the plasma carbines (or to "6" if hit by the plasma lance). Technically, he still had an advantage against the "7" resist of the Concord even with its +2 for being in the trees (net "7" resist).

Field of battle
Chris' first blast was using scatter fire with a "0" strike value. Lotsa hits, but no kills against a "9" resist value. Mike countered by killing two of the five figures in Chris' squad. By the end of the game, Chris was down to 2 figures in one unit and 3 in the other (which was also bedeviled by several pins, being the target of multiple Concord squads every turn).

Had I used the hazard squads in the buildings, the +2 resist to their already impressive "10" (net 12 resist) would have made them almost impossible to shoot out of the position and their distort-spinners make them really hard to beat in close combat—plus the Concord phase armor goes all wobbly within 10" range.

That's what I should've done. Instead, I decided to take/hold the buildings with the other squads.

Mike occupied the first building and I went right at him in close combat with my AI assault squad after not softening him up with the supporting AI squad. I barely managed to take the position after two rounds of combat and suffered more casualties than Mike, despite his net "4" resist after being in combat with troops armed with distort-spinners. My two figures that survived the fight wound up failing morale and adios-ing after occupying the building.

Concord interlopers about to be ejected
I move the AI squad into the building next turn and moved General Zod up into another building giving the me the 2 out of 3 building s occupied victory condition—if I could hold them. Mike took the third building, but couldn't budge me from the two I occupied by game's end. So, technically a victory, but we got really shot up and the Algoryn dead pile was 3x the Concord one.

Zod gloriously leading from behind
My fearsome plasma cannon was a dud. Despite drawing a series of several command cubes first in the first turn of the game, I held off shooting Mike's annoyingly deadly light support drones thinking that he would move in closer and I'd get a better shot. No. He shot me on the first command cube he drew, killing two of my crew (leaving one). My return shot at him was a miss. I had a net -3 on my accuracy (pinned, less than two crew, long range). I had to get a "2" to hit and, of course, missed and missed again on my re-roll (spotter drone). Next turn, he wiped it out.

Last gunner standing—for now...
My X-launcher, which I thought would help against targets in cover, really didn't do much. I hit on target just once. Once, the drift was close enough to do casualties. The other shots just went wild.

My mag light support was another disappointment. I moved into the trees, thinking I'd be safer there, but got blasted by the evil Concord light support drones. I suffered two hits. I thought I'd soak off one onto the weapon, losing it only on a roll of "10" and got a "10". My other saving roll passed, so I was left with three pistol-armed crew and no weapon. I ran 'em into a building, but got shot up then destroyed in close combat by a Concord squad. (That was the one building that Mike took.)

We don't play BTGOA regularly enough to get good at it. There's a group that plays pretty regularly on Thursday night, which generally doesn't work for me. I'm already committed to activities on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday evenings—sometimes Wednesday—so a night to hang out at home with the cats is too much to give up—even for a chance to play BTGOA.

Other thoughts: iMac iN distress

Through a frustrating concatenation of events, I need a new drive for my iMac. My wireless keyboard died on Friday. It's a few years old, so maybe its time had come, but maybe the water that Bogart spilled on the desk had something to do with it. There was a puddle under the left edge of the keyboard. (Note to self: Don't leave unattended glasses of water on the desk—or anywhere!) In any case, I went to the Apple Store Friday eve to buy a new wireless keyboard ($99.00) and wireless magic mouse ($79.00). These are both second gen and use a rechargeable battery that's recharged through a USB-C cable (Thunderbolt 3).

The only glitch was that I needed to upgrade to OSX 10.12.6 (Sierra) to use the new wireless devices. Actually, I just needed OSX 10.11 and I had 10.10.5 installed. (Really, Apple, why couldn't they be backward compatible to 10.10.x?). So for a 0.0.5 difference in OS versions, I ran the installer for Sierra. But. I got an error saying that the hard drive had S.M.A.R.T. errors that were irreparable and that I (a) couldn't install the OS on the drive and (b) should make haste to replace the drive.


So I can't use the new wireless devices. The old keyboard is ganz kaput, the old wireless mouse is limping along (it keeps disconnecting and I have to blow on it—really—to get it connected again), but I can use the new keyboard if it's connected by the Thunderbolt 3 cable. That's something.

I figure it will take $300.00 to $400.00 to replace the drive, which isn't in the budget this month. But I bought a year of Carbonite so I could back up in the cloud. After 48+ hours, I'm only 58% backed up, so it could be days before I have a complete backup. However, I think that having my drive set up to sleep after 1 hour of inactivity has affected the backup speed. It's now set to never sleep and I think it's going faster.

Where the disk errors came from is anyone's guess. The Mac sits on a desk in my den, i.e., Bogart's lair. He jumps up and down to/from a high shelf unit in stages floor to desk to bookcase to top of shelf unit and reverse to get down.

King of the high ground
The jump down from bookcase to desk is 3' and he lands with a whump! I keep the Mac running most of the time, so it's possible that every whump! is a potential shaking of the drive arm. But maybe not. Irreparable errors on a hard drive that prevent installation of an OS upgrade seems pretty hairy. I'm also aware that warning lights often appear when there is nothing to be warned about—except in this case, I can't ignore it because I can't upgrade my OS.

The plan is to replace the internal hard drive with a solid state drive. I'll also get a solid state 1TB external drive to use as a quicker backup. Apple has one for $90.00 that is Time Machine compatible. I've had physical back-up devices before, but they just failed after a while. Hopefully solid state device will prove more reliable.

However, I was surprised to note that my iMac is 5+ years old now. I blogged about getting it in July 2012. Time flies. My previous iMac was 5 years old when I replaced it with this one. Maybe I should just trust on limping along with the current quasi-functioning situation for a few more months and buying a new iMac in the spring. Or not. With a new solid state drive, I can probably get a few more years out of it.

More other thoughts: Getting more bronzer

After our Bronze Age skirmish game in November, I contacted Steve Mussared of Graven Images about getting more of the 40mm minis, which only he provides, though it's backstock; I don't think he's casting anything. I got another 30 figures from him, including 2 mounted (which have never been available in retail) and nine slingers (joy!). I was hoping for more bowmen, though...

I learned from Mike on Saturday that Troy had also contacted Steve and bought a pile of his stock—probably before I got to it. I think I just got the leavings.

Troy did say that he didn't get any standard bearers, though. He may have stolen a march on me this time, but I had him beat by 4 years on the standard bearers. Hopefully, this will mean more Bronze Age games in the coming year. I hadn't played with these guys for quite a while before November. I'll have to get at the unpainted lead ASAP.


  1. David,

    The photos do not do just to your Antares figures. They are brilliant!

  2. I've abandoned the DSLR with tripod and timed exposures for better depth of field and all that for shots with my iPhone camera. It just got too fiddly to haul the camera equipment along with all the other stuff I was schlepping to the game.