Live Recording

I spent Saturday evening recording 4 bands live in the basement of Cafe Kino in Bristol.  It was part of my former band-mate Henry Ireland’s residency there.  Throughout the year he is putting on 3 gigs, each one featuring a stylistically different performance by Tiger and Panda, the band he is in with my other former band-mate Olly Watson.  He has very nicely asked me to record these three performances as they happen, a chance which I jumped at.

He really wanted me to record using my Tascam 4 track cassette recorder, as that is what we have always used as Grizzly and the Bears, so that’s what I did.  I used my Behringer double preamp (it’s crap but it is what I have) to power 2 Large Diaphragm condensers to form the main stereo picture.  I used them in Mid-Side configuration, which I will have to use a computer to decode, as there is no way of flipping the phase of a track on the portastudio (that I know of).  To add extra weight to this main image, I threw my Realistic PZM boundary mic up against a wall.  The final track I had left I filled with a direct out from the sound desk, with an even mix of the vocal mics in it.  Kino is such a small venue that they don’t really mic amps up, so direct from the board wasn’t an option for recording it all.

I haven’t yet had a chance to listen back or decode the stereo imaging yet, but the few listens I could grab on the night sounded pretty good -clean but loud, which is what I was after.  My thinking is that so long as I’ve got a good, strong signal on tape, it should be easy enough to get a decent stereo picture when I mix down. I’m hoping to use my school’s recording studio to do this so that I can bounce all 4 tracks across to digital simultaneously.  This way I will avoid any chance of differing tape speeds causing phase issues (which would be an issue if I bounced the tracks across one at a time as I’d have to do with my laptop).

With permission from the artists involved, I will post clips from the recordings on here once they are mixed down to digital.  I have to say, this was one of the most stressful, but also most enjoyable recording experiences I’ve ever had and cannot wait for the next one.

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B&D Playtesting Day

I invited a couple of friends over to Yew Tree today to have a go at playing a full game of B&D.  The idea was to get some people other than ourselves to play the game and see if they could make it work/break it.  It was massively successful, with both players picking up the rules very quickly and not having to refer back to the fast play sheet very often.  Chris, the human player was really good and ended up winning by keeping his squad nice and bunched up and thinking through the best positions for the various different weapon types he had.  He managed to get right to the end of the mission before he even allowed a Zombie to get into close combat with him.  Unfortunately, this made the experience a little dull for Robbie, who was controlling the Zeds.  In fact, the experience made us realise that as the zombies have to follow set rules for movement, there really isn’t much of a game for the person who controls them.  They don’t get to make many decisions.  To rectify this, we’re going to introduce ‘Zombie Masters’ who have a bubble of influence within which the zombie player can control the zombies much more.  I’m already thinking of a few neat ideas to make this rule a possibility.  There’s also the idea of having some zombies be ‘rage’ style ones, who can run when within a certain range of a human target, meaning that it makes it harder for the human player to guarantee that they cannot be reached by any zeds.

Other than this, most of the rules worked how we intended them to and the game was pretty enjoyable.  I was definitely pleased with the dead zed tracker idea that I blogged about a few days ago; it kept the board topped up nicely with zombies, they just weren’t always where Robbie wanted them to be.  Other rules ideas we came up with:

  • Other zombies being drawn to one of their number who is ‘feeding’ on a dead human
  • Dead humans staying on the board as draws for feeding -needs some kind of marker
  • Grenades

BaD: New Resources

In preparation for the big BaD playtesting day, I’ve put together a few resources to make the game play as simple as possible for those trying it out.  I envisage these ending up making the bulk of the booklet we hope to create of the rules for Zombie War (or whatever we end up calling it in the end).  For your perusal:

BaD: Bugs, sir, millions of ’em!

Now that the rules for the zombie version of BaD are pretty much set, I’m starting to think about the next ‘setting’ that we planned to develop from the start: a Starship Troopers style Bugs vs Space Marines battle. These are only early ideas, but here is what I’m thinking about for the bugs (the marines will basically just be the same as humans from the zombie game).

Movement


I want the bugs to be quick, because they won’t have any ranged attacks, so the best tactic to use will be rush across the board at the marines. But they can’t be too quick, or it will be too hard a job for the marines to kill them.  I’m currently thinking that the same speed as marines will be best i.e. 6″, +D6″ for running, but I want there to be special rules for running.  I’m thinking that maybe they can only run when within 12″ of a human in their line of site, and then you have to pass a courage test to stop them from running.  Which brings me onto…

Courage

I think it’s important to reflect the fact that the bugs are ‘controlled’ by other entities (like the brain bugs in ST), and I figure the best way to do this is using the command distance and courage systems we already have in place.  I have a couple of ideas in mind for how this could work.  Firstly, I’d have some bug models be ‘brain bugs’, which don’t have any attacks but have good movement.  Then:

  • All bugs must stay within command distance of a Brain or they move randomly
  • OR Any bugs starting their turn not in CD of a Brain must pass a courage test or move randomly/not at all
  • OR All bugs begin the game ‘driven’ i.e. you can command them any way you want, but this ‘drive’ can be interrupted by things (being attacked etc.), at which point the model moves randomly until they are brought back under control by a Brain
  • OR All bugs must pass a courage test before they move every turn, with modifiers for how far away they are from a Brain
Combat
Once they make it across the table, the bugs should be pretty badass at combat, so I’m thinking of giving them a +2 or even +3 modifier for this. Either this, or I might give them multiple attacks, meaning it’ll be like fighting 2 opponents, which will quite nicely reflect what it would be like to try and fight a flailing giant insectoid creature.

These are some of the better ideas I’ve had, and are certainly the least complicated.  I basically want to create a bit more of a ‘game’ for the bug player than just running their models forward.  I’m also thinking of making deployment rules in the scenario that enable the bug player to switch which side of the board they are coming on from quite quickly, meaning the marine player (who will be defending the Sci Fi Fort I posted about) will have to think about how they spread their forces about.

As far as models are concerned, we’re going to be using a mixture of Games Workshop Warhammer 40k figures for this one -Space marines and Cadian Imperial Guard for the Humans, Tyranids for the bugs (I think Hormagaunts?).

Easter Alone-time

So my fiancee is off at home for a couple of days leaving me home alone.  I’ve got hundreds of things I’d like to do with that time, so I need to be careful or I’ll end up just sitting watching Zulu all afternoon or something. My original plan for today was to brew my next batch of beer, but I’ve got an issue with my new immersion chiller (can’t work out how to attach the hose to it), so I’m going to postpone that until tomorrow (reliant on being able to attach the hose then).  Instead, I’m going to try and make some headway with painting the paratroopers up ready for BaD playtest day.  I also thought I might start thinking about rules for Starship Troopers style bugs, so that we can maybe run 2 games simultaneously.  If I do that, I’ll post what I come up with here so check back later if you fancy it.  My brother has also just lent me his old Canon Eos 10D to see if I want to buy it off him, so I might try and get out with that for a walk around the village, although the weather is pretty terrible.

Anyhow, not entirely sure what the point of this was, but I figured I hadn’t written anything in a while.

BaD: The Problem with Zombies

The last few games we’ve played of BaD Zombie War (still a working title) have had the same problem -there are either too many or too few zombies on the board at certain times in the game.  This is a real issue as too many Zs means the human player gets bogged down fighting their way through and the Z player gets bogged down doing the random movement for the majority of zombies who can’t see the humans yet.  Too few means that the game isn’t enough of a challenge for the human player, and is pretty boring for the Z player.  I’ve put my mind to working this out today and come up with what I think is a workable idea: The Dead Zed Tracker.

The Problem

Most of our scenarios start off with a random number of Zs on the board, kind of randomly allocated.  Lately we’ve been splitting the board into quarters and letting the Z player put 2D6 zombies wherever they like in each quarter.  This seems to start us off with a good number of Zs, evenly scattered around the board and I’m quite happy with it as a system.  The problem comes when we start thinking about when more Zombies come onto the board.  In the last game, we started off with a blanket ‘2D6 come on a turn’ strategy, but it soon became obvious that there were too many stacking up and the play was bogging down.  So that left us at the beginning of each turn having to decide whether more came on or not.

The Solution: Dead Zed Tracker

I’ve decided that we need a mechanism that tells us when more Zs need to come onto the board, which needs to be triggered by how many/few there are currently.  The idea is that you have a ‘track’ on which you place any Zombies once they die.  Once the number of zombies on the track has reached a certain point, you then bring on a random number of zombies.  I think we’ll need to experiment a bit with the right level at which new zombies come on, but I started off thinking that 12 would be good (with 2D6 coming on), but then I thought about the starting situation and worked out some numbers.

For this system to work, you need a set number of Zombies for the whole game.  I figured this would just be the maximum possible starting Zs i.e. 48 (4×12).  You then need to determine you starting Zs as described above.  This will leave you with a number of zombies remaining (between 0 and 40), these then need to go onto the DZT.  If this number is 0, the human player is very unlucky and starts off with a board teaming with the walking dead.  And to add insult to injury, he only has to kill 12 for more to come onto the board. If the number is 40, then the human player is very lucky and has an almost empty board to start with.  However, new zombies will be coming on for a long time before they stop, meaning that it will fill up a bit too much after a while -but I guess that’s just the luck of the draw?

My final idea was to have 2 separate levels on the tracker -one that means you start bringing Zs on, one that means you stop.  The mean number of starting Zs is 28, leaving 20 to go on the track.  If we made it so the human player has to just kill a few to bring more Zs on, that would be pretty balanced, so if we set that point at 24.  The problem with this is that the level will never get below 12, so you may as well just ignore those 12 Dead Zeds.  Unless we make it so that once the DZT is over 24, you bring on 2D6 new zombies at the start of every turn until the DZT drops below 12.  I quite like that idea, but it may be too complicated.  I’ll mock up a DZT for the next time we run a game at school.