Friday, 21 November 2014

WWE Analysed - Why I think the Network is struggling



So once again I return for another ramble about the WWE and it's fucking network.  Now yes I could talk about TNA and its recent announcement about their new TV deal with the Discovery network but lets face it the entire company is buggered beyond belief.  We all know that despite the best efforts of the people in the ring every week the pure mismanagement of TNA from the top down has resulted in a slow miserable death for a company that by all rights should have been the new competitor to the WWE.

The WWE however interests me more because this company that survived the monday night wars against WCW, dodged the US government in the mid nineties and arguably became the biggest professional wrestling company in the world, is now doing things that WCW were doing back in their darkest days.  The entire situation regarding the network just looks so out of touch with today's online world.  The first slogan I remember hearing in regards to the network was "it's like Netflix but better" a slogan that made zero sense because Netflix offers a very wide variety of video entertainment.  The WWE network however offers a filtered version of WWE programming and nothing else.  By filtered I mean certain themes are changed from their original televised or even video release versions.  Matches are shortened or edited out and entire pay per views are altered to fit certain restrictions imposed by WWE officials.

Of course today's slogan is "9.99" which sounds great and everything but considering they originally charged a much higher price because you were locked into a minimum six month contract with no option to cancel your subscription, another reason Netflix was better by the way.  Now they have reversed their decision to allow subscribers to cancel anytime and are even giving away their Survivor Series 2014 show for free to try and bring in Subscribers.  The main issue though is that the service just doesn't seem to be retaining the numbers they aimed to achieve.  When it launched they expected to be hitting at least a million in North America and then going further still when it went international.  The truth is that it struggled to achieve seven hundred thousand subscribers in North America and the international launch which was expected to create the remaining number to push them over the vaunted one million mark in fact only levelled them out at around seven hundred and fifty thousand subscribers.  This means they lost subscribers when it went international and only managed to claw in roughly sixty thousand subs.

Now these figures are old but are the most up-to-date available.  No doubt the current free month of November has brought the number up and maybe they will retain some with the new options available for subscribers, however they are still making mistakes.  Over here in the UK the network is still not available and the UK is arguably the second or third largest audience for the WWE.  When it was due to launch earlier this month the deal suddenly fell through and it was further delayed, not pleasing many fans at the recent live RAW and Smackdown tapings who boo'd the news and purposely chanted things that WWE would have to edit out.  Maybe you could lay some of the blame at the feet of SKY broadcasting but since the network is available in other European and Asian countries why is the UK so different? 

Probably their most egregious action though is treating those people who do not subscribe but still pay for the television pay per views as idiots even going so far as to mock them for paying the $50 or $60 price tag for the show compared to the network price.  Yes the price is good by comparison but since it's online only and many people out there still have very spotty or slow connections, it might not be viable for them to do this.  WWE however seems to think that isn't good enough as an excuse and give it a few more months and its likely that all pay per views will be network exclusive anyway considering how much they are pissing off every cable provider systematically.  They have put nearly all of their eggs into this network basket and the financials aren't showing as black just yet.  Hell they even trimmed twenty million dollars in costs to try and stay profitable this year.  This of course meant people had to lose their jobs, all because the network has been such a colossal failure in its ability to bring people in to becoming subscribers.

When you look at why that might be you only have to look at the product they are currently putting out.  It's very bland and nothing seems to be changing to really make you want to watch or more importantly pay to watch their shows every month.  The last two months have been virtual re-runs of RAW with the same matches only this time the title is on the line.  Feuds that should have been amazing to watch play out only fizzled with the likes of Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins being complete wash outs despite their being two of the more entertaining wrestlers on the roster today.  Cena feuding with Orton for the umpteenth time bringing absolutely nothing new to the table with their match.  The same tag teams fighting endlessly over belts that WWE don't give a flying fuck about any more.  It isn't like the Rhodes brothers are bad but seeing them face off against the Uso's time and again is just plain dull.

The company does have strong talent in the wings waiting to be the new main eventers but the company is too afraid to move out of this comfort zone and embrace a new younger group of wrestlers.  It's likely one of the reasons the company is suffering financially because of the fact that even when the company is at it's most electric people just don't want to see the same matches again and again, and when Cena is involved the match is a foregone conclusion that the match will end in his favour.  WWE also suffer from having a champion who doesn't appear very often on the show.  I know the champ doesn't have to be on RAW every night, he has more important things to do in kayfabe land, but he should be defending the belt at every pay per view.  Come this Sunday we will have two months where Brock Lesnar has failed to defend his title, a massive error on the part of the WWE since people want to see the drama and excitement of a title bout much like boxing or MMA it's all about seeing that main event and the potential of a new champion being announced at the end of the night.

I know Lesnar is something of an odd choice for champion considering his limited schedule anyway along with his rumours of returning to UFC in the near future, but if McMahon is happy to sign the guy and make him this unstoppable monster to create big money events, then he should be paying Brock for the dates he needs to bring in those ticket sales and not relying on old horses like Cena and Orton and to a lesser extent Triple H to bring in the money.  The network also needs to offer more non wrestling content and by that I mean shows that look at stuff behind the scenes of the WWE.  Wouldn't it be cool to see a documentary series that follows the unseen people of the company who work tirelessly to create an event like Wrestlemania?  All of the drama and dilemma's faced by these people as they coordinate and organise such a massive event.  Why not create a series similar to their round table discussions with some serious debate about decisions of the past, feuds that didn't go well and a myriad of other events within the WWE and WCW world.

As it stands the network just isn't worth investing in right now.  Sure it offers a massive amount of wrestling that covers several companies across decades but it's not like there isn't already a lot of that available elsewhere on the Internet and most people who want to re-watch their favourite matches already have them on DVD or tape to begin with.  It's cool to have this on demand but they really need to open up with more varied content to bring in the viewer who wants something a little different from the WWE.  When a small company like Kayfabe commentaries can bring out some highly entertaining and very interesting products from simply interviewing wrestlers, you know WWE have missed the mark with the network when it comes to content.  They should be producing content along those lines in tandem with the wrestling programming too.

Monday, 17 November 2014

New X-Wing guides coming soon


With the recent update from FFG's site about the YT-2400 and VT-49 Decimator going from 'on the boat' to 'shipping now' I suspect I will have these models either this week or early next so I will have them up ASAP for everyone who uses my guides/reference sheets or whatever you want to call them.

Obviously I am also gearing up for the release of the unfortunately named Scum faction.  Why they couldn't have called them villainy or outlaw instead but its too late now I guess.  Anyway I will be making guides for them also with the first pack being the starter set and it's many new pilot and upgrade cards.  Since the stats of the ships will be the same I am still in two minds about adding their respective stats since I already have guides for the Y-Wing, Z-95, HWK-290 and Firespray-31 here. 

I may do it so the new faction has it's own unique guides even for existing ships so they can be found for players who want to be Scum only or need guides for custom missions etc. With my youtube channel becoming something with near 100 subscribers I may also create some videos of the models themselves and add them to the guides so they have something a little more interesting to look at.

Finally I am also tinkering with ways of making a battle report using some basic scenarios or just a straight up fight between the rebels and the imperials.  But that will require some cooperation from a friend or two.

Thanks for reading and keep your eyes peeled for the guides :)

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Star Wars Armada and guides?


So I am wondering what to do about Fantasy Flight games and it's upcoming Star Wars based capital ship combat game, Star Wars Armada.  If you haven't seen it then check it the fuck out because the ships look amazing.  A version of X-Wing with capital ships has been a big ask from the community for a while now and obviously keeping the X-Wing game to scale has proven to be a thorny subject for some.  The Corellian Corvette and GR-75 transport split the community in half with their "epic scale" rules and not to scale models, so Armada is the next best thing to actually making a massive ISD model that is the length of your house.

My problem is do people want me to produce a guide series on this game while making them concurrent with the X-Wing releases.  These models ain't cheap as any fan will tell you, so trying to keep up with both might prove difficult.  This patreon thing is popular but actually expecting to pay for me to buy models to then type a guide for them is cheeky as fuck and something I wouldn't be comfortable with personally.  Don't get me wrong Armada looks fucking amazing and I will probably get the base set to see what it plays like compared to X-Wing.

So what do you folks think?  Do you want to see a new page dedicated to Armada and it's slew of incoming capital ships?  Or could you not give a flying crap?  Let me know below in the comments.  Also check out the images for the wave 1 ships that will be available on launch.


Friday, 7 November 2014

Lower those expectations for Star Citizen.....for a while anyway



Star Citizen has been rocketing through it's crowd funding campaign like no other, in fact it is and has been for a while now a record breaking campaign and will no doubt be on top of that list for quite some time.  There are far too many reasons to list why this game which isn't even close to releasing yet has garnered such a massive fan following but just looking here at the funding goals page shows the extremely ambitious goals which the team at CIG or Cloud Imperium Games have ahead of them.

Now this isn't a post to knock the team or what they are trying to achieve.  My opinion on Star Citizen is that it will kick the shit out of every other space game out there hands down....if it can do everything it sets out to do.  The thing is that many fans of the game seem to be dreaming up their own scenarios of what you can do in the Star Citizen universe.  People seem to think you will be able to walk into a bar and watch player ships land and unload cargo or explore the entire city on a planet or perform complex tasks with your ships that are way beyond the scope of the game.

It's not to say the game won't be doing some pretty impressive things not seen before in a space sim title.  The very fact that you will be able to walk around massive capital ships that are fully modelled inside that allow you to traverse them and operate their systems (within reason) is a cool idea and all of this while it's in a combat situation with the ship making evasive manoeuvres.  This kind of movement is hard to do right in a multiplayer environment since the programming requires the avatar and ship to stay in sync with each other as they move independently of each other.  We have seen this working twice now and both videos are only early days. 

My point in this post is to not get your hopes up too high though when the game launches next year. A project like this needs to take baby steps to ensure that everything is working as it should be, so I wouldn't be surprised to find the initial Star Citizen launch to be pretty slim on content comparatively.  I can however see a ton of people losing their shit on the forums and decrying the game as a scam when it does launch and it doesn't have every single tiny feature mentioned in the many videos, Q&A sessions, conventions and more.  Some people have for whatever reason dove straight into the game and created their own version of the game before it's even released and this version for them is very fragile.

Other people seem to have this weird way of looking at things from a gameplay versus realism perspective.  Now yes you can't really have realism in a game involving alien species, faster than light travel, terraforming and laser cannons but bear with me here.  The recent first person module had some very brief footage of a player assisting a soldier when he was wounded and used a healing tool of some sorts which used a blue light beam graphic.  This has caused some players to now call out the developers for making the game too arcade like and that the realism should take priority.  Heeling beems!? Imerrsun breking four me! As this retard OP puts it the game would break immersion should this blue beam be kept and that instead the medical procedures be more realistic.  Yeah because players want to play doctor and not fly spaceships and earn cash for bigger, better ships.  Others agree with him and these are the kind of players I am talking about who will lose their shit when the game launches and their little fragile world in their head will shatter.

Clearly for a majority though we know what we are going to get, which is a space game that has all the classic elements such as mining, piracy, bounty hunting, exploring, trading, fighting and crafting but it will also allow us to raid ships in first person, explore planets (again within reason) on foot after landing, rescue players adrift in space, ferry passengers too and from destinations, smuggle information and intercept signals for profit, scavenge wrecks for salvage, run a luxury liner and more.  It's a pretty impressive list and caters to pretty much any kind of play you want to experience.  The things that some people want to do are very odd and over the top that wouldn't really add to the experience such as surgeon minigames, hanging around in spacer bars, stowaway on other players ships and kill the crew or have NPC crew be blackmailed or paid off to kill players.  Some of the idea's are pretty fucked up really, like the stowaway idea which just screams serial killer to me.

In closing yes Star Citizen will be a great game when it does finally arrive but remember to temper your expectations a lot.  In the end it's a PC game that will no doubt have bugs, glitches and crashes which won't be shocking given the complexity of the title.  Your money has been spent on making the game better in the long term and a lot of things that have been mentioned or described may not be there at launch but it doesn't mean they won't be there eventually.  And remember you can always quench that space sim thirst with a copy of Elite Dangerous which is out this year and if you are really, truly desperate for some space gaming you could try EVE, but I wouldn't recommend it.  Hell even X-Rebirth is better, but only just.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Evolve Big Alpha Impressions



Evolve is a game I can see being a love it or hate it kind of game but not for reasons of mechanics, performance or size but because it will live and die by who you play it with.  For those not in the know Evolve is a multiplayer game for five people set on a distant alien world called Shear which has been colonised by humanity.  The populace are however threatened by rather large and intelligent beasts which can if left unchecked destroy vital equipment for the colony and likely spell doom for the inhabitants.  So the game has one of those players taking the role of the monster who must eat to gain evolution points and become much stronger, larger and gain new abilities to either destroy the equipment or kill the hunters who are run by the remaining four players.

The dynamic is very cool with the hunters being very powerful at the start and the monster being relatively weak by comparison unless it can isolate a single hunter.  However if the monster can evolve it quickly becomes a genuine threat and can very easily overwhelm the hunters in a stand up fight requiring tactics to change on the fly and in essence they become the hunted.  It's fun and when it all works it is amazing fun but the key thing there is when it all works.

My issue with the game judging from the alpha (this can change between now and final release) is that you need a group of players who all know what they are doing from the get go, otherwise the game becomes a short chaotic mess fast and can leave you feeling very frustrated or downhearted with the game.  Being the monster can be quite stressful because you need to be on the move immediately and eating as much as possible to stay ahead of the hunters.  Sadly the maps are kind of small and although match start is always random I can see the maps becoming very familiar quickly and thus new players will be at a huge disadvantage very quickly against veterans who know the layout fairly well.

It's a nitpick but I can only really see Evolve being a fun game with five players who know each other and want to have a laugh.  As a solo players running as part of a pick up group or PUG will be getting a mixed bag and no doubt some abuse from other players if they aren't completely up to snuff with the tactics and abilities of the different playable classes.  Putting that aside though the game runs very smoothly and looks amazing at this early stage of play.  The maps ooze atmosphere and have plenty to look at.  Verticality is a key part of the game for both the hunters and monster with both teams having the means to reach high points in the map for scouting and ambush purposes.

The classes are pretty fun too with no single class feeling overpowered or dominant over the rest.  The medic does the usual healing but plays a key role in slowing the monster down and highlighting it to team mates along with creating weak points on it's armour with it's high powered sniper rifle.  The support can drop massive artillery, shield allies from damage and cloak for retreat or revive purposes.  The assault tanks the monster and can be invulnerable for a short period along with laying mines and engaging at both long and short ranges.  Finally the trapper can keep the monster restrained with both harpoon traps and energy arena's to keep it from escaping along with laying down fire with their machine gun.  There are other hunters to unlock with their own powers and tactics although I cannot comment on them since they were pretty hard to unlock in the short alpha we had.

The monster team can be one of three types, although we don't yet know what the third one will be we do know that the first is the large Lizard type called Goliath and the second is the Cthulu like Kraken.  Both play very differently and require very different approaches to hiding and attacking.  Goliath is a brute who specialises in breathing fire, throwing rocks and generally pounding the hunters to death with it's massive clawed fists.  The Kraken however uses area of effect abilities and ranged lightning attacks to ambush the hunters and fly away from danger.  Both monsters look amazing and their animations even at this stage are slick to watch.

To close this I would strongly suggest playing this with friends if you want the most out of the game.  It's not bad as a solo player but be prepared to get a mixed experience this way.  The graphics are amazing which isn't surprising given the engine being used (Cryengine 3) and the sound design is excellent.  I can see Evolve receiving numerous downloadable packages that add more maps, monsters and hunters over time and if they don't I think it would be a real shame.

Watch me play and narrate over this long and very fun hunt from the alpha.  Thanks for reading and have a good one folks.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

WWE Analysed: My fears for the future



Professional wrestling is one of those real guilty pleasures.  Here is a show that puts real athletes into a pure pantomime drama mixed with chair shots, elbow drops and power bombs.  It's all scripted but the danger is real for the people who put themselves in the ring each and every week.  I started watching WWF on Sky television back in the late 1980's when I was four or five years old.  The first match I ever saw was the Bushwackers fighting some fat guy jobber and biting his ass.  For a little kid this was fucking hilarious and the show only got better.  These huge guys come out, beat the shit out of each other and act like comic characters is what really made wrestling cool for me back then.  I was ahead of the curve in my school knowing about wrestling when every other kid was running around pretending to be a mutant ninja turtle, I was throwing big boots like Hulk Hogan and putting imaginary foes into the sharpshooter like Bret Hart.

Jump ahead to the late 90's and wrestling became the shit.  Everyone was watching it with the highlight being Stone Cold Steve Austin and his feud with the owner of WWF, Vince McMahon.  To put it bluntly the Attitude era was the best period of professional wrestling not because of the wrestling which at times was poor but because the product gave every viewer out there something they could enjoy.  If you liked the wrestling you had wrestlers who could deliver like Shawn Michaels and Owen Hart.  If you wanted some eye candy you had the valet's like Deborah, Sable, Sunny and more.  Comedy was there with the antics of D-generation X.  Hardcore wrestling was there with the likes of Terry Funk, Mick Foley and the New Age Outlaws.  Crazy storylines that had memorable moments such as Austin's attack on McMahon in the hospital or the famous beer bath.  The Attitude era had it all and is still fondly remembered to this day by fans.

A major help to draw all of this momentum was the fact that WWF was in a life or death struggle for ratings with it's competition WCW who were also producing a really hot product that was packed with talent of all ages and skill levels.  It was a great time to be a wrestling fan because the two companies locked into this death struggle created a blinding few years of amazing wrestling television that drew incredible ratings and millions upon millions of dollars in revenue for both companies.  Of course every war has to have a winner and the WWE ended up on top after looking like it was going to lose earlier on.  The victory was completely flubbed by WWF now WWE with gross mishandling of former WCW talent and things stayed good for a few years at least.

However skip forward to the mid 2000's and things begin to stagnate and now in 2014 it's even worse.  Pay per views that run matches that we have seen on Raw previously, angles that never mean shit or don't have a solid pay off, tired old characters such as Kane, Orton and Cena running the main event card every single night on Raw for months.  It all looks a million miles away from what we had back in the late 90's.  Now stagnation is brought on by a lack of competition since you don't have to try if you don't have to compete.  Indie companies like PWG, ROH and more just don't have the financial clout to compete and no single investor wants to compete with the corporation that is WWE.  You could argue that TNA is something of a competitor but then you only have to see that show to know it's not even close to NXT standards for WWE to even acknowledge their existence.

My fears though for the future of WWE where confirmed when they opened the performance centre.  A place where hopeful amateur pro-wrestlers could tryout and maybe get a shot at being a future WWE star.  It's nice and everything but it sends out clear signals that the future of all WWE programming will be filled with drones who only know how to wrestle one type of match, only one type of promo, only one type of character.  WWE style is very specific and it's noted time and again by wrestling websites that any wrestler brought in from outside of the system has to adapt to their style of Pro-wrestling.  This performance centre only spells the impending doom of creativity and unique personalities that once made the business stand out.  The future will hold many Cena and Orton clones with the odd Brodus Clay or Adam Rose sprinkled in for variety.

Seriously don't expect to see the likes of Cesaro or Daniel Bryan or CM Punk to every grace the screen again once this centre is churning out robots for the next decade or two.  It wouldn't surprise me if they make it so all new entrants to the centre have to have '$9.99' tattooed to their foreheads to help with branding soon.  WWE are already hurting financially anyway with them making a $20 million dollar cutback to stay profitable this year alone because subscriptions to the network didn't even come close to what they projected and this continued slide into mediocrity isn't going to help much either. 

I have only the smallest hope that younger and more entertaining wrestlers such as Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Damien Sandow, Cesaro, Dolph Ziggler and more can finally be given the ball and run with it instead of being held back for the likes of Cena because McMahon fears that if he leaves or isn't top then no one will watch any more.  It's the wrong way to look at a business that is generally in flux every year as fans take to different wrestlers on even the tiniest things such as a comment during a promo or that one amazing match.  You only need to look at what Cesaro can do on a throw away Raw with Daniel Bryan to see the potential there in one person alone and how quickly the fans took to him when he started using the giant swing.  WWE hates that kind of dynamic and quickly moved to squash his popularity by banning him from using the move and have him lose constantly.  No WWE want their chosen wrestlers to be cheered and fuck all of you who have an opinion.

When the financial situation gets worse I feel sorry for the wrestlers and workers who lose their jobs over the sheer incompetence and fucking ignorance that is shown by the top brass of WWE.  They ignore what we the fans want and then scratch their heads in confusion when they lose money or in Hunter's case, bitch at the fans live on Raw like that's going to make things better.  These fuckwits even criticise their own paying fans who buy the pay per views for whatever price outside the network as if telling them they are stupid is going to guarantee subscriptions.  Fuck you WWE, and your pathetic tit for tat with your own fans.  It almost makes you want to see them fall just to watch the chaos that would ensue.  

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Video news and PS4 woes

Sorry for the lack of updates here the past few days, I usually try to keep to a schedule and I messed it up this week doing things for the youtube channel and playing a hell of a lot of Marvel Heroes and Mechwarrior online. 



On the gaming front though I do a few irons in the fire so to speak.  My series of Mechwarrior videos will be rolling on without break for a while so there is plenty of stuff to mess around with there.  Other video idea's I am kicking around include some Marvel Heroes related items that focus on the individual heroes, showing them off and the such.  Reviews will be coming for new games as I get them, unfortunately I am tapped for cash and there really isn't anything new coming out that I really want, unless someone buys a copy of WWE 2K15 for on PS4 =p

Probably the big one that I am looking forward too is Evolve and I am currently awaiting my download link for their Big Alpha event that is launching soon.  I am looking into recording it for the channel and writing some stuff for the blog if I there isn't a prohibitive NDA attached.  Evolve looks like it will be really fun so I am looking forward to the alpha and what it brings to the multiplayer gaming table.

Wrestling has taken a backseat, not because I don't watch it as much or anything, it's mainly down to how fucking boring it has been recently.  Watching TNA is like watching someone slowly die on life support while WWE is just so generic and bland it's hard to get excited for the show each week because it's just the same matches week in week out.  Since this Sunday is WWE's Hell in a cell I will write a WWE analysed about it since I haven't done anything wrestling in a while.

The other thing I want to talk about is the PS4 and it's sheer laziness this past year.  I have owned a PS4 now for four or five months and honestly I haven't seen much that excites me about the system.  I own a grand total of 2 games on the system.  Infamous Second Son and Killzone Shadowfall.  Both good games and they looks great and all that jazz, but that is it.  The problem is that a majority of the titles on PS4 are either ports from the PS3 with upscaled graphics or download titles that don't do the system justice.  I can buy some of the games on the console for less on PC and save around £25 or more, it just doesn't work out economically for me.  For instance I would love to buy and play EA UFC but the price is fucking astronomical in store.  £54 for a game? are you shitting me?  Even online the fucker is £35 or more. 

It doesn't help that titles like Destiny, a game I originally was really interested in turned out to be a massively over-produced piece of shit that looked pretty but was over before you knew it.  The Order 1886 or whatever it's called has never appeared.  Drive club is currently suffering massive online issues coupled with a crippling lack of content.  The entire thing is stalling big time and although it has out sold the Xbox it needs some really good titles that are original to the PS4 and not just an upscaling job to justify the rather pricey purchase.  If and when it does get it's arse in gear I will be hopefully using the twitch feature of the system to broadcast gaming, but as it stands currently it's not working out all that well.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Mech pack fatigue, Schmeck pack fatigue (IMAGES UPLOADED)



HOLY FUCKING SHIT BALLS!?!?!!?!?1111 THE PANTHER IS COMING TO MWO FINALLY!!!! YES, YES, YES, YES!!!!! WOOOOOOOO.

After that very unbiased response, I would like to let my limited audience here know that PGI has announced a new set of battlemechs for their stompy robot shooting title this time focused on the brave forces of the Inner Sphere and their admirable battle to protect themselves from the vicious invading clan forces.

This pack has been dubbed "Resistance" and is aimed squarely at those Inner Sphere loyalists who didn't want or couldn't afford to buy a top tier clan package.  I understand that some people have their loyalties and also not everyone can be as fortunate as myself and others to simply blow $240 or £147 on pixels for the chance to get a "free" King Crab in December.  This new pack will cost the much lower (but still high price) amount of $80 or £50 for four new Inner Sphere 'mechs.

The 'mechs run the gamut of classic Technical readout  designs with the FUCKING AWESOME (ahem) Panther light 'mech.  This is followed by the fun looking Enforcer, nimble Grasshopper and badass looking Zeus.  All of these 'mechs have been fond favourites of Battletech players since the 80's and for good reason.

The Panther is a 35 ton light that works on the basis of being a fire support city fighter designed to do big damage in a small package.  Sporting a PPC and SRM 4 with jumpjets for manoeuvrability it sacrifices speed to achieve these goals.  The result is a light that can be a real threat to any light or even medium 'mech when used in the right location.  It does suffer from it's small engine to fit the PPC but it's worth it to see the faces of your enemies when they get dropped by a Panther.

The Enforcer is a stalwart of the AFFS or Armed Forces of the Federated Suns.  It mounts a single Autocannon/10, Large Laser and Small Laser into a 50 ton medium chassis.  It runs numerous roles from fire support, brawler and general trooper 'mech with thick armour to weather the storm they usually go into.  It's only real weakness is it's rear armour is extremely thin and as such needs to work as a team to avoid being flanked.  To keep this from happening too often the Enforcer is also jump capable to allow for rapid relocation should they need to during a firefight.

The Grasshopper is the heavy entry to this pack weighing in at a tasty 70 ton.  It's a very old design dating back to the Star League era and was created originally to hunt down medium and light 'mechs.  It was seen as revolutionary during the Succession wars due to it's jump jets which at the time was unheard of for a heavy at the time.  It was quick, comparatively speaking, and focused on a shorter range energy load to target the weaker Medium and Lights it was designed to hunt.  It was also known for it's ability to continue the fight even after losing it's arms possibly being the chassis that coined the term "zombie" for battlemechs that could continue the fight after losing it's arms.

The final 'mech is the Zeus, another entry into the 80 ton category.  Synonymous with the Lyran Commonwealth this design was famed for it's power and success on the fields of the Succession wars.  Mounting a single Large Laser, two medium lasers, single AC/5 and a LRM 15 launcher this 'mech could take the fight to foes at any range.  It's design focuses on the use of hit and run tactics an unusual tactic for your typical assault 'mech.  The reason for this is it's speed which is comparable to the Grasshopper.  It was so successful in the role that the chassis is jealously guarded by House Steiner and as such very few Zeus units are seen outside of their space.
The pack looks great and comes with the usual bonus items such as extra mechbay slots, premium time, skins and other faction content alongside new cockpit items.  This pack will go on sale on the 22nd of October 2014 but I wouldn't expect these 'mechs to be injected this year due to the clan pack 2 release schedule so weigh up the pro's and con's before dropping your money.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Mechwarrior Online video links



Hey kids! do you like robotic violence? Want to see me shoot giant lasers through their cockpits?  Then check out my video playlist here of both the Inner Sphere and Clan Battlemechs




Clans are here:





Monday, 13 October 2014

Star Wars X-Wing Character and Ship Guide - Rebel Ace's


The Rebel alliance get their own unique paint schemes for two of it's more specialised craft in this expansion.  The nimble and amazingly fast A-Wing and the Mon Calamari designed B-Wing strike fighter get a bunch of new pilots and upgrade cards to further expand your squadrons strategies.  Unlike the Imperial Aces set which came with two of the same fighter in different paint schemes this set has two different fighters each representing the prototype stages of these iconic Rebel ships.

Faction: Rebel Alliance
Name: B-Wing Assault Starfighter
Statistics ÷
Primary Weapon Value: 3
Agility: 1
Hull: 3
Shields: 5

Faction: Rebel Alliance
Ship: RZ-1 A-Wing
Statistics ÷
Primary Weapon Value: 2
Agility: 3
Hull: 2
Shields: 2







The A-Wing is immediately identifiable from it's regular squad mates by it's blue colouring, a nod to the original concept art created for Episode VI.  They were only flown by the alliances top pilots at the time due to their incredible speed and near perfect reflexes required to control such a powerful craft, they saw action leading up to and beyond the climactic battle over Endor being used primarily as high speed interceptors and scouts due to their speed which allowed them to quickly close the gap with targets or escape rival interceptors.  Equipped with rotating laser cannons and missile bays the A-Wing is a daunting prospect to face for any Imperial pilot.

The B-Wing was the creation of Admiral Ackbar a Mon Calamari officer who joined the alliance during the height of the galactic civil war.  The idea was to have a strike fighter capable of delivering incredible damage to the much larger imperial capital ships while being able to take plenty of punishment and even dogfight if necessary.  The result was the B-Wing, a long craft with a distinct if not unusual profile compared to other Rebel fighters.  The B-Wing brings laser cannons, missiles and torpedoes to counter any threat it encounters and can rely on it's tough shields and armour to stay in the fight when things get hairy.  The cost of this is low agility but with the right tactics a B-Wing pilot can turn any disadvantage into an advantage.

All Rebel Ace B-Wing's are capable of performing the (Focus), (Target Lock) and (Barrel Roll) abilities. 

All Rebel Ace A-Wings are capable of the (Focus) (Target Lock) (Boost) and (Evade) abilities. 

Expansion Content list:

Pilot Cards:

Keyan Farlander (B-Wing)
Nera Dantels (B-Wing)
Dagger Squadron Pilot (B-Wing)
Blue Squadron Pilot (B-Wing)

Jake Farrell (A-Wing)
Gemmer Sojan (A-Wing)
Green Squadron Pilot (A-Wing)
Prototype Pilot (A-Wing)

Equipment Cards:

Proton Rockets (2)
Enhanced Scopes (2)
A-Wing Test Pilot (2)
Chardaan refit (3)
B-Wing/E2 (2)
Jan Ors
Kyle Katarn

Below is a list of Rebel Ace A-Wing and B-Wing Pilots in ascending order of skill along with points cost and pilot abilities.

Name: Prototype Pilot
Skill Value: 1
Pilot Ability: N/A
Upgrades: Missile (1)
Squad Cost: 17

Name: Green Squadron Pilot
Skill Value: 3
Pilot Ability: N/A
Upgrades: Missile (1) Pilot Skill
Squad Cost:  19

Name: Gemmer Sojan
Skill Value: 5
Pilot Ability: While you are at Range 1 of at least 1 enemy ship, increase your agility value by 1.
Upgrades: Missile (1)
Squad Cost:  22

Name: Jake Farrell
Skill Value: 7
Pilot Ability: After you perform a focus action or are assigned a focus token, you may perform a free boost or barrel roll action.
Upgrades: Pilot Skill, Missile (1)
Squad Cost:  24

Name: Blue Squadron Pilot
Skill Value: 2
Pilot Ability: N/A
Upgrades: Sensors (1) Heavy Weapons (1) Torpedoes (2)
Squad Cost:  22

Name: Dagger Squadron Pilot
Skill Value: 4
Pilot Ability: N/A
Upgrades: Sensors (1) Heavy Weapons (1) Torpedoes (2)
Squad Cost:  24

Name: Nera Dantels
Skill Value: 5
Pilot Ability: You can perform (torpedo) secondary weapon attacks against enemy ships outside of your firing arc.
Upgrades: Pilot Skill, Sensors (1) Heavy Weapons (1) Torpedoes (2)
Squad Cost:  26

Name: Keyan Farlander
Skill Value: 7
Pilot Ability: When attacking, you may remove 1 stress token to change all of your (focus) results to (hit) results.
Upgrades: Pilot Skill, Sensors (1) Heavy Weapons (1) Torpedoes (2)
Squad Cost: 29

Although the debate about the balance between Rebel and Imperial sides still rages this set will probably do nothing to assuage those who hold to the idea that the Rebels are overpowered.  I don't think this is the case personally as the Rebel Ace's are more like a customisation expansion more than a bulk of new super powered pilots and upgrades.  The two unique A-Wing pilots have some nifty skills though with Gemmer Sojan's ability focusing on players who like to keep close to the action each turn.  Doing so gives Gemmer the ability to jump to 4 agility making it extremely hard to shoot down this pilot.  Jake Farrell is all about pushing his ship across the map or making those last second evasions.  For 2 extra points he brings along a pilot skill which Gemmer does not get so it's a trade off for better evasive skill compared to survivability at close range.

The B-Wing aces work to do damage.  Nera Dantels can pop a torpedo off against any foe regardless of facing, making them extremely dangerous each round since you can never be sure when their controlling player will choose to launch their payload.  Keyan however works well as a pilot who gets the job done, changing all of their focus tokens to hits potentially turning a bad roll into a killing blow.

Modifications ÷

Name: Chardaan Refit
Ability: A-Wing only - This card has a negative squad point cost.
Cost: -2

Name: B-Wing/E2
Ability: B-Wing only - Your upgrade bar gains the (crew) upgrade icon.
Cost: 1

Title Cards ÷

Name: A-Wing Test Pilot
Ability: A-Wing only - Your upgrade bar gains 1 (pilot skill) upgrade icon.  You cannot equip 2 of the same (pilot skill) upgrade cards.  You cannot equip this card if your pilot skill value is 1 or lower.
Cost: 0

Equipment ÷

Name: Enhanced Scopes
Ability: During the Activation phase, treat your pilot skill value as 0.
Cost: 1

Weapons ÷ 

Name: Proton Rockets
Damage: 2
Range: 1
Ability: Attack [Focus]: Discard this card to perform this attack.  You may roll additional attack dice equal to your agility value, to a maximum of 3 additional dice.
Cost: 3  

Crew ÷

Name: Jan Ors
Ability: Rebel Only - Once per round, when a friendly ship at Range 1-3 performs a focus action or would be assigned a focus token, you may assign that ship and evade token instead.
Cost: 2

Name: Kyle Katarn
Ability: Rebel Only - After you remove a stress token from your ship, you may assign a focus token to your ship.
Cost: 3