Thursday, 4 August 2011

Pathfinder - scouting out the world of geek

Haven't been to a game store in 8 weeks - GASP! Haven't done any painting or played a game in a while either... everything is kinda on hold. Why ...?

Well I done gorne fell off the wagon, didn't I?

No I haven't become an alcoholic, despite my many and varied attempts. I've simply stepped away from war-gaming for the moment. I'll come back, I just need a break. Rather than whitter on about my lack of any progress, I've decided to post about what I've been doing in the meantime...

What I've been playing ... World of Tanks

Be afraid people. This game is a seriously addictive ride and as one commentator said ... people just don't leave. After the last update I've upgraded my fleet extensively and now have 9 tanks ... 3 medium's including the M4 Sherman and the M4 'easy eight', 2 russian tank hunters including the lush SU-85. My Leopard and Luch still bring me some fun games, and a level 4 B2 german heavy is a right laugh. Finally, I just purchased an SU-26 ... which is rubbish and tinpot - but good fun for an SPG.

...and why do you play?

Let me paint a picture for you. I'm loading up in an SU85 tank, I'm playing 'Cliff' - which is one of the many well designed maps for WoT's. Look at the map below ... it has a gulley running along the whole western side of the map, a plateau (overlooking the gulley) in the middle and a eastern mountain flank. Being a great big gun on a fairly average platform, I position myself at the mouth of the western gulley and await anyone stupid enough to walk up that way ... defence defence.

Unknown to me, the entire opposing side have decided to rush the western route. As such, within moments I've spotted me a juicy big KV to take a hole out of. I do. I sitting in a little courtyard surrounded by 3 farm houses, giving me some line of sight blocking terrain. Boy do I need it. The next moment the KV bank east, avoiding my further fire. However, my shooting has given my position away and I'm suddenly the primary target for the whole rush. In less than 2 minutes a total of 5 medium tank and tank hunters attempt to take me down.

Now tank hunters have frontally fixed guns, so close up dogfights just ain't their thing as they are just too easy to get behind.

Without even thinking, I'm moving and firing, moving and firing - avoiding incoming SPG rounds, and popping enemy tanks. The buildings give them cover but forces them to try to coordinate their attacks, giving me time to take them on one by one.

I'm punching holes left right and centre, getting ricochet warnings from my crew and killing for all I'm worth. After a minute, it goes quiet. I'm shattered, at 40% health - but with 5 kills to my name. I text the other players to go on without me as I'm physically shaking.

After a minute to gather myself I start to follow the rest of the team towards the enemy base and the remaining few opponents. I'd killed the majority of the 'rush', allowing the rest of the team to gang up on the two KV's (no mean feat, but I'd knocked one down to half strength).

As we move towards the enemy base, I tag along behind a medium tank. I'm just thinking 'Oh, it would be really typical if the enemy hid right there in front of me' when out pops a hiding SU-26, moving up to take a rear shot on the medium.

I BOOM ... 6 kills.

Then out there somewhere is the last opponent. Out of nowhere a Panzer 3 come haring down the hill. He shoots at me and missing, he fills my aim reticle as I fire AND MISS ... WTF? He charges down the hill and rams me, I explode - but he explodes too! Seven kills.

I had to go lie down after that one.

Other past-times ... reading.

I'm a voracious fantasy and sci-fi reader and thoroughly well versed in all manner of readership. My latest treat has come as a pleasure and a joy...

Joe Abercrombie has written an instant classic in the First Law Trilogy. He handles the story seemlessly, making light work of unfamiliar territory through some brilliant story telling. Alike to all the best Fantasy and Scifi writers, Abercrombies real talent is in character writing, as it through these characters that you believe in their environment, surroundings and the evolution of the story.

Here's a taster of the sort of characters he brings to the table:

Inquisitor Glotka: Previously a dashing and arrogant noble cavalry captain, Sand Glotka is captured by the Gurkish (read turkish) army and tortured for years, he is now a heartless and bitter cripple working as their most brutal inquisitor and torturer. Despite the pain and nastiness he doles out, Sand is just the right side of a villain. As the plot thickens and his own lack of morals take a toll, he starts to rediscover his humanity. But what use would that be in a game of intrigue and death. As Glotka would say, "the thing about pain, is that it is a very selfish pursuit."

Logan Nine-fingers "The Bloody Nine": Logan is the most 'feared man in the North' and a Viking-esque brute he is too. Smart and brutal as he is ugly. Logan's internal dialogue in at odds with his external appearance and abilities. A man of considerable talents and very very good at killing people, Logan holds a dirty secret close to himself. A man who is both haunted by his past and in fear of it. An intelligent man coming to terms with the brutal acts of his youth and their consequences.

And what I've been watching...

Caught Flashpoint on the telly the other day. As an historical kung-fu buff this was a refreshing change of pace away from both JC and the China Jet Li historical epic. It's brutal and very violent, but some of the martial arts is extraordinary. Donnie Yen is particularly cool and the film seems to end with the moral of "Why should authorities bother with the law when you can beat a criminal to death ... saves on paperwork."

Very Chinese.

And who am I following...

Worth a look is This is the best collection of 1980's sci-fi and fantasy films, books etc. The writing style is genius and a very very funny collection they are, in particular the analysis of the Hobbit and Flash Gordon stand out for me.


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