Category Archives: Uncharted Seas

The Internet – Good or Bad for Gaming?


In the constant drive to deliver to you, dear Internet reader, quality, thought-provoking content that touches you on a deep spiritual level we bring you today’s topic. A drive that you may, or may not, agree on us reaching. I just like to try to write down my thoughts using an expansive vocabulary in order to portray myself as an intellectual, we all know I’m not kidding anybody…

The Internet is right up there as one of the potential greatest inventions of the 20th century, I remember first hearing about it on the now defunct Tomorrows World program where it was referred to as the Information Super Highway and would transform the way in which we lived. They talked about virtual communities living out there in cyberspace and traditional boundaries dropping off as we increased the reach of our social interactions.

I don’t think back then that anyone really grasped the true extent that the Internet would seep into the lives of our fellow Earthicans, rending asunder boundaries drawn on maps and opening us up to people and places we’d never been before. It also eventually provided us with categorical and unequivocable evidence that Trolls do not just live under bridges.

When I first started gaming in the Nineties the extent of the community and the discussions I had were restricted to either friends or the local gaming store when I popped in and talked to staff. Now, I didn’t grow up with a huge number of friends interested in the same hobby as me so I also took a rather unique avenue of just drifting through on my own. I didn’t go into the local GW to play, just to pick up the latest releases. By the mid Nineties dial-up was becoming more prevalent and eventually my father’s PC was hooked up and I got my first taste of Internetdom. This was all related much more to PC gaming than wargaming though.

One Christmas I then got a home DSL kit allowing me to no longer have to hog the phone for 2 hours at a time before BT disconnected the modem and I’d have to redial. This then brought about speedy access to all kinds of wonders and the Internet, for me at least, truly came alive and not just because you had free access to women of loose morals flashing their jubblies around.

These days the Internet is bursting with communities and forums for pretty much anything and everything you can think of but what has this done to our particular hobby? And is that a good or a bad thing?

Firstly, let’s start off with the glass half full and talk about the positive. The resources available to players is massive, there are forums for games and armies, a wealth of information on how to go about painting our toy soldiers or even converting them into something completely different. The inspiration available to be able to view the skills of so many different people really helps you find your place, either as a master artist or realising that even if you thought you were bad, that kid selling “pro-painted” on eBay is way worse than you.

The Internet also allows the gamer to become aware of stuff that he or she may not otherwise come to recognise. I found Warmachine through the Internet as before that I’d been a GW purist as that was all I really knew about due to their high street presence. What the Internet has helped to do is to open up competition as it is now a lot easier to research a game rather than the opinion of a store owner or splashing out on the rulebook and some models in the hope you’ll enjoy it.

If you need tips on an army then you can find other players who will help you out, either through unit selection or ways in which to improve yourself as a player. You can read battle reports, check out paint jobs, or even avail yourself of some pretty good deals on second-hand models or discounted brand new stuff. The Internet has broadened gaming, you are aware of new releases well in advance and can preview stuff you might like to grab in the future without having to wait for a magazine or even for it to arrive in stores. I don’t think there is anything that has been as transformative to many people’s hobbies, even outside of gaming, as the Internet has been. It is in virtually every home, at least in the western world and that kind of prevalence has been a boon for the diversity of information and avenues of discovery that we as consumers have access too.

Unfortunately, the Internet is not always a shining beacon of enlightenment. While we’d like to think that people united by a hobby could get on with one another there are the odd few people who will criticise and denounce people. If you take a sub-par choice for an army then you must be a n00b who clearly has no idea to play. Then there are also the vociferous remarks negatively viewing some companies (most notably the Sherriff et al). People can be overly critical to the point of being rude.

We can also look at the massive discounting of products online stealing market share from bricks and mortar stores that simply cannot compete against their virtual counterparts, this inevitably leads to the decline of local communities as the traditional congregating ground of the gamer disintegrates either through no-one visiting the store to get their goodies or through the store having to shut up shop. Does the fact that we are only a forum thread away from finding out the most powerful army lists actually prove detrimental to the game? There are many that will just take the latest web list and run that rather than try things out for themselves, after all the only point of gaming is to win right?

A lot of the forums have a tournament minded mentality too, therefore a lot of what you find is super-competitive style armies that are annoying to those of us wanting a chilled out game with friends. Buying your first army for a game can be a process of finding that uber-list point and click army and buying it rather than what I did when I started of buying what I liked and trying things out and in many cases, trying to make stuff work because I didn’t have anything else.

I cannot think of anything else in recent history that has proven as transformative to the hobby as the Internet, but then the world wide web has changed the face of how the world communicates and interacts anyway, we’ve definitely been left behind the curve here, in fact I’d probably say we are right up there riding the wave as it were. I have enjoyed being exposed to new things rather than being a GW purist and believe the market is blossoming, although perhaps a little too much.

I’m not going to declare an undying love for the transformation that the Internet has made to our hobby, but then I am not going to decry it either, I can see both good and bad here. Although there is certainly one thing that I think we can all take from this;

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What Makes Games Fun?


There is no mistaking that the tabletop gaming arena is getting crowded with competitors. While there have always been a number of companies who have made models it seems increasingly that these companies are now striking out into the gaming market by producing rule sets, Freebooter and Wyrd are just a few that spring to mind.

While this may mean that as gamers we have plenty of choice it also means that we have a lot of games clamouring for our attention. We don’t all have the limitless wealth that the our friendly Sherrif may think we do, so buying into every single game that comes our way isn’t feasible, although for some of us, we do try. Long-suffering wives see their beloved homes turned into galleries of metal and plastic in various stages of construction and painting, while us menfolk surreptitiously try to hide our latest purchase in among the forest of toy soldiers that is almost impossible to catalogue without an expert’s eye.

Some of the decision-making for what we play is based around aesthetics but nowadays we are also seeing innovation in the mechanics of the games, moving away from dice to cards or using cards to represent models and their stats rather than lots of chod crammed into a bulging rulebook. While choosing games to play is a deeply personal choice surely there are going to be some offerings and one game has the potential to not be as good as another. Some rules are clunky and difficult, some leave room for ambiguity due to poor language, others are the efforts of extensive writing and play testing and are a joy to behold. How do we know which games are which when we are making our decisions and how do we know what we will enjoy and be able to coerce invite our friends to play with us.

If we were to do a comparison between the offerings out there today we’d end up with a rather large post, there are certainly a large number of games I can think of available to joe public. A direct comparison between them isn’t always going to be possible either, while you could probably get away with comparing War of the Ring, 40k and Warhammer Fantasy as they are all games based upon army scale conflicts. Adding in Warmachine, Malifaux, Hell Dorado etc… would be unfair as they are skirmish games and therefore play differently. However, whether skirmish or army the one thing that I think unites games is that they should be fun. If you spend the majority of your gaming time poring over the rules then you probably aren’t having much fun, but if the core mechanics are easy to learn then you can get on with playing and things are much more enjoyable. Again this is a deeply personal view on things, I love games like Malifaux and Warmachine where you have a few models to play with and unit cards on the table in front of you give you everything you need to play and provide a quick reference to speed things up. Malifaux’s rules are wonderfully short, once you have the turn sequence and the concept of duels sorted then you can play, the trick to the game is combining the models in your crew, all the abilities and special rules are on the model’s cards and you spend more time with those than having your nose stuck in the rulebook.

Warhammer relies on you remembering a lot more, the rules are longer and more prescriptive, you can make yourself little notes so that you remember all the magic items bulging the pockets of your heroes and the numerous special rules that your army has. War of the Ring handily condenses a lot of the rules that we see in Warhammer and looks completely different. Warmachine has a whole host of options for you to use within the rules and you need to remember those, but the core mechanics are simple but rely on you unlocking the combinations in your army to maximum effect, I suppose it is a little like Magic: The Gathering in tabletop form.

But what makes a game fun? As this is a hobby we aren’t doing this for the work and effort required to assemble and paint an army, we are doing it to relax, to get away for a while in another world that allows us to (temporarily) forget our jobs and other responsibilities. While it is possible to take each element of our lives to extremes I’d like to think that some alone time is something we all do while not neglecting our family, employment or other areas of our lives. Anyway, enough of the heavy stuff.

What makes a game fun is surely an opinion rather than anything we can probably define. While I find both Uncharted Seas and Firestorm Armada to be fun, I prefer the spaceships, they are more “fun” as a game. I know others prefer US or even the 6 Inch Move blog nemesis Full Thrust, which is why this is interesting to me as gamers have vastly different tastes.

I think that on the whole Warmachine is more fun that Warhammer, however I enjoy both games sufficiently that I invest in both (although I haven’t played Warmachine in a while). I like Warhammer because of the sweeping battles and it plumbs different areas of my brain to the skirmish games I play. I love Malifaux because the mechanics are so different from a dice game and things can be far more brutal if Fate is with you, it’s a very different play experience to any of the other skirmish games I like as well as being totally different from army sized games. Warmachine is fun because you can use magic robots to headbutt each other into the ground and chuck stuff across the table. Each of the games that I choose to play are fun for different reasons and that is why gaming is such an interesting hobby. To my wife they are just toy soldiers or whatever, but to me, they provide different experiences that I can enjoy with my friends and I think this final point is the key.

Gaming is at its heart a social hobby, while you can play with yourself (pun intended) the hobby takes on a whole new and more satisfying dimension when these experiences are shared with friends. While sometimes we will whine about the dice deserting us, or a sub-par unit choice, or that cheesy magic item combo etc… each time I spend time with my good buddies thrashing out some fantasy conflict between zombie hookers and metaphorical personifications of axioms or whatever I have memories of fun times spent quaffing liberal quantities of Dr Pepper and sharing the highs and lows with a bunch of people who add something to my mortal experiences.

So, what makes games fun for me? I’d have to say it’s the people I play with, for me there couldn’t be a better bunch of nerds to share my time with!

A Wild Tabletop Game Appears – GW Competitors, I Choose You!


Last night I got a call from Servitob and was asked to come and help give a demo of Firestorm Armada to a chap considering diving into the Storm Zone. So it was I packaged up all my gear and made the drive over to his house picking up Gribblin along the way. Even though I had planned to spend my time sat at home painting my Haradrim it was nice to get to have a game of Firestorm for the evening and it was a close game. By then end all that was left was a heavily damaged Dindrenzi Battleship supported by two undamaged Cruisers beating on the Terran Battleship that was also starting to take damage. Servitob conceded at the end of turnĀ  7 but it really was a game where out fortunes went back and forth as to who was holding the upper hand.

However, this isn’t a post about Firestorm, that was just a pre-amble to what I have been trying to come up with the words for over the majority of this week. There should be no surprise that personally I am unconvinced by the new version of Warhammer Fantasy and that all of us here feel a great sense of excitement about War of the Ring. Odd how two games from the same company can bring about such different emotions. I know there are a lot of people out there in Internet land that cannot stand 40k, I happen to find it an interesting and fun game, this may depend on the environment in which you play it though. My friends and I enjoy chilling out and playing with each other, we don’t take the super competitive armies nor do we go to tournaments.

From this I have been wondering about how people decide on which games they will play. For many years now GW has not been the main player, there are a number of viable competitors exciting the market, I’ve had the fortune to play a number of these and some I’ve looked into but never took off. Sure I’ve gone through a large part of my adult life with no one to play with (yeah, I know, /violin) but since getting in with my current pals we do play some games and not others. Firstly, I think I should make a list with all the games I’ve spent money on getting the rules and/or models for in the not too distant past;

  • Warhammer Fantasy
  • Warhammer 40,000
  • War of the Ring
  • Warmachine
  • Hordes
  • Infinity
  • Secrets of the Third Reich
  • Malifaux
  • Sphere Wars
  • Necromunda
  • Confrontation
  • Dungeons and Dragons
  • Magic: The Gathering
  • LOTR: CCG
  • Uncharted Seas
  • Firestorm Armada
  • World of Warcraft: TCG

That’s a lot of stuff that has come around, far more than any of us could actually get around to gaming with, yet as I have said in previous posts I am a sucker for fantasy worlds. Some of these games all I ever got was the rules, some of them have good models, some of them don’t. I like the rules for Secrets of the Third Reich but the models are hideous. So, let’s put up another list of the games that are really the ones that our group will be playing in the foreseeable future;

  • Warhammer 40,000
  • War of the Ring
  • Malifaux
  • Warmachine
  • Firestorm Armada
  • Dungeons and Dragons

This is still quite a long list, Warhammer Fantasy may pop back in there later but at the moment I have little inclination to get the new rules and finish off my High Elves. But, how did we come to the conclusion that this is what we would be playing. Well, a large part of it is what people are willing to spend their money on, a lot of the games listed at the top I guess most of our group has never even heard of. I am always looking through gaming forums and spotting what is new and if the models are good (we bought stuff for Sphere Wars from Salute just because the models were really awesome, I don’t see us playing it ever if I’m honest with everything else happening). Warhammer 40,000 is a long time favourite of the group, it’s what we started playing together and we all have armies for it. War of the Ring is obviously the newbie for us but it looks a solid rule set and we are all really excited by it, more so than anything else for a while. Warmachine is throw back to our individual gaming days as we all have models for this game already, we’ve had a couple of games of Mk2 and people are keen to keep it around to play now and again.

Malifaux is awesome, currently there are only myself and nBreaker playing it, but I love the Fate Deck mechanic and the game is a lot of fun, it is quick to play and is different from the other games that we play, hence it stays. Firestorm allows us to take a break from normal gaming as it is a completely different setting, we all really enjoy it so again, it stays. D&D got a resurgence after we tried 4th Ed at Salute, Servitob is currently DMing a campaign and I think we are almost at the end of his current set of prepared stuff. It tends to be a quite light-hearted game (we are currently running through a mine that has a beholder as the foreman who has a magical hat which allows him to look human for public appearances) and expands the gaming circle to include Mrs Servitob playing her emo Wizard.

So, we have a broad range of games that are across genres and settings, each has a rich universe to enjoy and allows us to test our grey matter against one another. But with all the other games out there how many do you feel comfortable playing, how often do you get to play them all and how do you decide which ones are keepers and which drift into obscurity?

Spartan Battle Report – Leonidas Vs Master Chief?


In support of our favourite ocean and final frontier boating specialists Spartan Games I thought I’d bring to the general populace’s attention a poll on their forums. The lovely chaps that created the “maybe better than Full Thrust” tabletop extravaganza that is really popular with our good selves, have decided that they want to host up a battle report and show us all how one of their games really should be played.

It is up to the consumers to therefore pick which system they want to see, either wave-bobbing Uncharted Seas or the frozen vaccuumness of Firestorm: Armada. When I voted Firestorm was winning by a single vote (deja vu of what is going to happen at the UK general election perhaps?) but with such a tight margin things could swing back and forth.

You’ll have to register on the forums if you want to have a go, luckily I am providing a link to that thread here.

Internet, I Need Your Help


If there’s one thing you can count on the Internet for, it’s unsolicited opinions and advice. Therefore I am hoping that when I actually want people’s opinions and advice we’ll all be able to come together in a conflagration of self-enlightenment and personal growth. At least, that’s the theory.

I have already given Servitob a brief heads-up, he knows what I’ve been thinking but not necessarily how much I have been thinking on it and how it pertains to our gaming. This isn’t a massively serious topic in the grand scheme of things but still, I need to get things out there if only to clear my head and have the opportunity for angles I may not have considered.

As I’ve mentioned in a couple of posts over the course of running the blog I really do enjoy skirmish games. The awesome fun we had with Malifaux recently only brought that into sharper relief and the majority of the games we are currently playing fall into this type of gaming. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy 40k or Fantasy, sometimes it is good to have sprawling armies fighting it out and this was evidenced in our recent battle with the new Tyranids.

To put things in context I have also made the pledge not to play Warhammer Fantasy again until I have a fully painted army. This has so far caused me no stress other than I have yet to paint anything for that system this year, I’ve been focussed on other things. I am currently trying to get my Cult of December painted.

Due to the fact that I enjoy the Warmachine we’ve recently revived slightly and Firestorm Armada/Uncharted Seas plays so well and now Malifaux has come up I am looking at all the various models I have lying around my house and wondering what to do with them all? The skirmish games tend to play faster and more aggressively than those requiring a lot more models to play. With my incredibly slow painting style a game where I only need between 5 and 20 models seems like a real bonus in terms of getting painted models onto the tabletop too. Everything about these games gives them a resounding thumbs up for the way I like to play. Small numbers of models means that a game may only take an hour to play, this means we can get more games in during a day and generally also means that the games are cheaper to buy into as well.

So, my current dilemma is whether or not to sell up and get rid of all my Warhammer Fantasy and 40k stuff and then focus on the couple of smaller skirmish games I really like and making sure that I have fully painted forces for each of them. Should be much easier considering the total numbers of models I own for each of these systems is less than one full mob of Ork Boyz.

You might think the decision is obvious, everything fits the puzzle so far, but please bear with me while I present the counter-points.

I’ve already mentioned that we have some new gamers in our group, nBreaker is one of these. When we first started getting these guys in what we do we were playing Warhammer Fantasy, neither of them have played a game yet, nBreaker has some Dwarves and the other fellow has his hands on my old Warriors of Chaos. Servitob does not play Warhammer anymore and if I packed it all in as well I feel I’d be abandoning my friends. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the game, I do, it’s just that perhaps I’d be better off time, money and game wise by sticking to the smaller styles. I could just kick off playing Warhammer but then I’d be breaking my resolution to get stuff painted, even though none of it is on my desk at the moment as I try to prepare Malifaux for a proper demo game for those yet to see it.

Another point is that Servitob and Gribblin play and enjoy their 40k. I know that in the future it may well be that our new players also jump on board for this. If I got rid of my 40k stuff I’d be losing an opportunity to game with my best friends, guys I love and respect in a totally masculine and none gay way. I don’t want to lose out on that outlet, again I do enjoy the game immensely.

If I had my time all over again then I’d probably have stuck with the skirmish games. You could be playing 10 games with 10 models each rather than 1 game with 100 models as I love my gaming worlds and their background you can see why this is appealing. I want to have one force that I focus on for each of the games I love, this should help me restrict the often excessive spending that can come with this hobby and give some floor space back to my much beleaguered wife. I don’t want to be tempted by each new army book that comes out (waiting on Dark Eldar which I would sell all my current 40k stuff for if they do the models right). I am already looking at budgeting my wargaming quite harshly and I would really like to spend more time in Malifaux and Warmachine, but I don’t want to feel or look like abandoning the friends I have.

This was meant to be a short post but has ballooned quite horribly, so Internet I ask for your help! Please, comment and help a dude out.

Mr Universe


In the first Matrix film when Agent Smith is interrogating Morpheus to try to gain the access codes for the Zion mainframe he utters the following words;

“I want to share with you a revelation I’ve had, during my time here.”

While I have not been trying to classify Humanity as a species, I have been thinking about my tabletop gaming. I made a post a while back asking people how they got into the gaming hobby and shared my own experience in this regard. I was continuing to ponder just why it is that I continue in this hobby, it has been the one that has by far lasted the longest. Even alongside my collection of video games and the various consoles I have owned, the one hobby that I’d be saddest to lose would be my tabletop gaming.

The realisation that I came to really was that in many cases it isn’t the rules, it isn’t the often awesome models that there are, dare I say it isn’t the immeasurable pleasure of the social interactions I get with my friends while we are playing (although that is a big plus point). The thing that keeps me going in this hobby are the universes. I frequent a number of forums that I read on a regular basis, extending my work lunch time considerably while I take things in and revel in the great nebulous cloud of nerd. What I have always been impressed with is that for the majority of gamers there is no end to the number of games that they will investigate and indulge in, providing of course that they can find a community for that game in order to provide the outlet for playing. I have rule books sitting on my shelf at home for games that I am sure none of my friends I play with have even heard of. Some of them I even have miniatures for and capacity to play those games.

Yet, I have been in this hobby for my whole adult life and the majority of my childhood. When I was little I used to read prodigious amounts of fiction and loved watching cartoons set in strange and far off places. Gaming has just brought out those themes in another format. I am effectively a slave to fictional universes. This doesn’t just extend to my gaming, I love things like Star Wars and Star Trek, I may just be labelled as a geek or a nerd because of this, afterall, one cannot really argue that I fit into a stereotype (with the exception that I am married and do not always have maliferous body odour). However, these things just feed my imagination and that is what I love.

I started off gaming with Warhammer 40,000 all those years ago and that is an amazing universe with a lot of depth. I have then become enraptured with numerous others but as I get older and still these things come to pass I am aware that not everyone shares my enthusiasm. My gaming circle is quite small and we are all of differing means. Due to the fact that my wife and I earn respectable salaries and do not (yet) have kids, I have a decent pool of disposable income that I fritter away much to the chagrin of my long-suffering better half. Therefore my outlook is different to the others. Before attending our gaming session on Saturday of the weekend just gone I went to our local gaming store to grab something before heading off to pack my stuff to go. Recently they have started stocking items for a new (to me) game called Secrets of the Third Reich. I grabbed the rulebook and we had a brief look during our gaming session. I took it home and read it later on, I was very impressed with the background but not so much with the minis available from the company (however, the game is designed to be compatible with any 28-30mm World War II models). But it we look at things from a historical point of view I can show you the development of our gaming circle. It started with me and Gribblin playing 40k together and this progressed to Warhammer. I then introduced him to Warmachine and we have played that on occasion. After meeting with Servitob we got him into 40k, then I introduced them to Uncharted Seas and following into Firestorm Armada. I bought the rulebook for Malifaux and once nBreaker and another of our friends came along we started them off on Warhammer, got them into Uncharted Seas and currently nBreaker is my most fought opponent in Firestorm. He also is the only other person to have stuff for Malifaux and I think we’ll be breaking that out soon enough to try.

Both of our two “newbies” are yet to really establish themselves in gaming, especially considering the large quantity of stuff the rest of us have. There I was with another rulebook in hand for another universe. I was very impressed with the background for Secrets of the Third Reich but then we did play our first Mark 2 game of Warmachine as well, which was a lot of fun and the first outing for my Retribution (I lost but learnt a heck of a lot).

It was after considering the fact that I get into all these games and it’s not really fair to “push” these games onto my friends (I don’t really push but I can’t expect them all to jump into every new game that comes along) that I began to wonder why I get into all these things and constantly expand the rules sets that I own. It all boils down to the world in which they are set. If I can get excited about that world then I am much more likely to want to spend time in it, much to the consternation of my friends no doubt. In short, I am those universes which is why I get so excited about this hobby.

I am 40k, I am Warhammer, I am Infinity, I am Malifaux, I am Immoren, I am Earth, I am the Uncharted Seas, I am the Storm Zone, I am all of these things and I am sure more will come along to tickle my fancy. I therefore apologise to my friends for my enthusiasm for finding these new worlds. Especially to our new players that must seem to think every time we meet up I have something new. To be honest though, as of right now, I think I have gone far enough, we already have more games than we can possibly play in a day. I’m going to try and keep to what we have now, especially when I have the least number of painted models of anyone I play with. Perhaps I need to rectify that before throwing myself into a new world.

Firestorm Armada Light Years Ahead


So I got my first outing with Firestorm Armada recently courtesy of nBreaker, and I must say, it really is very good. Quick, simple, with plenty of suitable opportunites to throw loads of dice, drink DPZ and smack talk. Pretty much a perfect game for the 6InchMove team then. The only improvement I could suggest is the addition of take away meals to fleet selection so we don’t all have to cram into gribblin’s car at lunch time. Oh well, you can’t have it all!

For those of you looking for more ‘beef’ in your posts, here comes the more serious intellectual bit… Firestorm Armada in my opinion is better than Uncharted Seas. Why? I don’t really know. Maybe the setting is more appealing. Maybe it’s pure shooting fun without all the hassle of boarding actions. Maybe the game just has more polish and balance.

More great intellectual analysis coming from servitob soon!