Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Exclusive Battletech Alpha Strike Cards!

Well now I've done it.  I've produced the FIRST Alpha Strike card, totally canon, ever produced.

Yep, first one ever.  Not even CGL has produced one for the masses yet, which seems nuts since they must have tested the game at some point.... right?

Anyway, this was created with a tool I stayed up too late last night writing.  It is a very simple little tool, and just lets you plug in values, and it outputs the card.  AND I added command line support, so if you have a list of stats, it'll output them without interaction quickly and easily for you!  I did it using the older .NET 2.0 as well, to avoid incompatibilities.

ONE issue though.... anybody know the exact font used or that should be used?  I went with Helvetica but it wasn't a perfect match.  Then again, since this is the FIRST card, who knows?

I'll be available for download tonight, as well the 60 or so cards in the Alpha Strike book.

EDIT:  Nevermind, I made them all already.  Though I need to point to record sheet background art instead of TRO.  I also decided to go from a command line input, which means slow app startup, to an interface within the exe that lets you just copy/paste values from excel.  I'll also add color background support, so you can print cards in the "faction colors" they are in the Alpha Strike book.

Anyway, download link, with the executable, AND a batch file I used to create them (though it'll be useless tonight with the new release):

Not a lot of error checking, and I'm not yet changing the PV based on the SKILL, but all that will be done tonight.  If anybody has the font that should be used these would be *perfect*.

Oh, and also in this batch are the consolidated lance/star and platoon/binary cards, so you can play larger battles!  I did have to add a BIR there, which stands for "battlefield intelligence rating" for the larger units.  They are NOT canon, but all the single units are.

Enjoy, let me know what you think!


Color cards, with miniature pic instead of TRO pic:

And yet ANOTHER update, boy I'm busy today!

Though I still have some work to do, I did find the font, duplicated the outlined text, and found a decent background texture.  However, the canon version still looks better... the rest is going to be much harder to duplicate for me :(

My version:

Canon version:

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Why I should hate Catalyst Game Labs

So somebody asked me something today, combined with my free copy of Alpha Strike yesterday, and going through all 110 of my Battlecorps orders over the last few years and finding 5 items (need to double check, but at least 3) that I haven't even gotten yet and it got me thinking.

I went and got my order history from my 2 battlecorps accounts (not sure how that happened) over the last 5 years.  From August 2008, to this month, I have given CGL $2988.27 of my money.  On top of that, I've given IWM another $1809.20 ($255 of that through the Kickstarter).  I've also bought quite a bit of stuff at my LGS, but don't have detailed records on that.  I have at least 6 of the latest boxed sets, and more miniatures that I can paint in a lifetime.  I also blew $90 on a battlecorps subscription (well 2, because I couldn't disable auto-renew).

I have also spent thousands on ebay for miniatures, old book lots, etc.  I won't count that though, as that wasn't money into CGL's pocket.

So, on average, each month, over the last 5 years, I've given CGL about $80 per month.

Of the 6 of my "warnings" on the forum that got me banned, 2 were due to me talking about politics in a discussions about military sizes, populations, etc, you know, those threads that start every week.  2 more were in a thread that was only used by a group that met at a particular store on weekends.  I said "bring money, I'll bring mini's" sorta thing.  Apparently that was wrong too, even if no $ was mentioned.  The other I said something nasty about the amount of errors in their products.  I never flamed anybody personally, never attacked folks, never got "trollish", and always acted with respect towards others.  A couple of those "warnings" I'm 99% sure were just a difference of opinions between a moderator showing personal bias over their role as a moderator, but whatever, I got banned.

Then I'm like "Screw these guys" on my blog after, which even though a temper tantrum, it was on my own blog, read by at most 50 people, but probably well under half that.  Regardless, it was an off-the-cuff thing, and I pretty quickly got over it (or did I? :)).

As it really appears to me, justifiably, that CGL simply doesn't care about me as a customer, I wonder now why I'm sending them $80 a month to pay their bills, sustain their operations, and create new content.

I was one of the top submitters for errata out there, I created lots of new utilities for folks, wrote designers, star charts, and if I wouldn't have been banned I know that today we'd have builders for everything from warships, to mobile structures, to buildings, to bases, to RPG characters, in addition to the usual stuff.  I could have made vast contributions to the site.  I would have been fine waiting the couple months before updating my database with new products (for example, I added the LC 3145 stuff last night, though I haven't updated the database their attitude towards me doesn't justify me holding off either).  I was a positive influence on the game, the forums, and the fan base.  Heck, I would have ran demos and given away more miniatures at events (I have thousands I'd give away for a decent cause).  I bought everything, often multiple copies.  In every single way, I was a great customer.

That all being said though, I won't throw hate at Herb, Randall, or any of the folks on the staff at CGL, nor will I stop buying too much stuff.  My anger towards them is unjustified, as not one of them have ever said anything negative to me.  A couple of times I've spoken with them personally and not had any negative thing to say.

So I will direct my anger and disappointment towards the moderators of the forums at  Not all of them, but many.  I see bias, hypocrisy, elitism, and trolling, not to mention unprofessionalism from many of the moderators.  It is the moderators (again, not all, but many) that I think are the root of the problems on the forum.

If I decide to not become a customer anymore, and with my current trend towards PDFs only that could very well happen, the moderators on the forums will have cost CGL $80 a month, or nearly $1000 per year.

The biggest tragedy however I think is the overall loss of quality of content on the official forums over the last year or so.  The topics are dull, interesting conversations few, and the number of posts where no information exchange takes place is astounding.  I have spoken, in person and email, from quite a few folks that have nothing positive to say about the forums as well.  Perhaps its just my viewpoint.

Soooooo, now for the good part, since I'm sure everybody has gone on to surf porn by this point and left this blog behind.

I will be starting my own phpBB forum.  I've gotten it running before (its actually on my site if you know where to look) but never advertised it as I didn't think my server, already overloaded making battletech PDFs and Alpha Strike cards, as well as a handful of other sites, could handle the load of a forum with decent response time.  Anyway, I actually work at a hosting company, and can get a new server up and running, well, within a few minutes, that should easily be able to handle the load, and has hundreds (yes, with an 's') of megabits of bandwidth available.

Initially I'll focus on Battletech, though I'll have Robotech, Heavy Gear, Star Fleet Battles, Traveller, 40K, and whatever threads I think may be interesting.

My forum rules:
#1.  Don't be an ass

I'll post an update in the next few days as I set this up.  Hopefully I'll have my site updated to print all the new Alpha Strike cards as well.

If anybody wants to be a moderator... well, not in protecting threads, but just maintaining the board (moving threads as requested, locking them, answering user requests, etc) apply within.  I can setup and get phpBB running, and can probably figure out updates, but I'm not a pro with it.

I actually thought about doing an appeal to one of the official CGL folks, but with me recognizing the biased and hypocritical moderators, I'd be hypocritical in even asking (at least not until they "clean house").

Monday, July 29, 2013

BattleTech Alpha Strike Counters!

2 updates in 1 day, but no, I'm not working on Battletech.

I made counters for all the companies in the Alpha Strike book.

I was going to print all the numbers on the back, but didn't know if anybody wanted these.  Having the numbers on the back means you don't need Alpha Strike sheets.  Instead, for things like damage/criticals, you can make up little counters to use, eliminating all paper tracking from the game.

I also consolidated each lance/star into a single "element", and all 3 lances (or 2 stars) into a single element.  This is basically averaging out all the values.  But doing this means you can fight out your Alpha Strike battle, or, just average stuff out, and you could fight 2 regiments of 10 elements each, instead of 2 binaries of 10 mechs each.  The only recommendation I have for changes at this scale is that for each additional scale, half the range.  So if you want lance sized elements, half all the ranges.  If you want company sized elements, quarter them, etc.  Mathematically dividing by 4 is probably better, but units get slow and short ranged.

Anyway, the table for the consolidated stats is at bottom, here are some counters for you to print up and use for a game!  Oh, you will have to scale them, as I didn't create a PDF to ensure they'd always be the same size.  I got this idea from somebody posting on the forum about counters or mini's.

And creating these for any unit I have a megamek icon for, with any camo I have camo for, is quite trivial.  Let me know if you like/use!

BattleTech Alpha Strike, For Free!!!

Well nifty, I logged into DriveThroughRPG, looking to see if Alpha Strike was out yet, and apparently it kinda was.  I got a copy for $0 before they took it back offline.  I think I may have just snuck through an update!   Muhahahaha.  I'll still buy the hardcover though, as it does look to have some different stuff in it, but no longer need the PDF (which is a crime to charge an additional $15 for something you  bought in paper form)

As for Battletech.  Thanks to a few very persistent folks, I keep doing stuff.  I apparently can't escape.  The last 4 days now, and probably the next few, I've been going through all my conversion code for Alpha Strike/Battleforce.  When I say all of it, I mean ALL of it.  I'm finishing up code for things like Warships, Mobile Structures, and even buildlings.  ALL of it.  I'm mostly done now, but it'll still probably be a day or two before I update the site again.  Oh, you'll be able to specify the environment too, so if you want to play an Alpha Strike game underwater, or in a vacuum, or whatever, the card data will be modified appropriately.

I've found HUNDREDs, if not more, tiny issues in my database.  Almost all related to listing things like "Ferro Fibrous" instead of "Ferro-Fibrous", or just formatting issues, but I have validated just about every design now and my code works.  If you look at units now you see some debug info on how I got costs/BV/ratings, though it still isn't perfect.

However, I'm really thinking of changing the system a bit, though I'll try to have an option to see "canon" or "bad syntax" sorta values.  For example I'm thinking of dividing damage by 5, or even 3, instead of 10.  When doing your "to-hit roll", you roll 2d6, adding any modifiers, and apply it to a special table I made that looks a lot like a missile hit table.  It will then tell you how much damage you do based on how well you rolled.  Unit damage is still the same, divided by 30, but output will be much higher, as this way you see a more granular method of doing the damage.  I'll also have more stats for quick strike.  It'll still be simple, but I'll have a few more attack values and better conversions, plus a few more abilities.  

As for all my code, well, if you want anything inparticular email me, but I have an absolutely huge amount of stuff and its just been more than I wanted to bite off to pretty it all up and distribute it.

I'll try to do up some top view counters this week using megamek imagery and camo's.  I'll print them on .75 or 1" chunks.  For Davion, I'll do a yellow background with 1 of each mech in the intro boxed set (and all variants), in all camo's I have.  Then I'll spit it out as a big PDF so you can print whatever units you want.  Sure wish there weren't so many missing graphics in megamek tho :(

The Alpha Strike sheets need redesigned, they are woefully inadequate if you play a game with all the optional rules.  In fact, nothing out there is any good.  I made some with all the bells-and-whistles, but they kinda suck too :(  If anybody is creative artistically and thinks they can make a great template with well over 50 different places to put data, let me know as I can fill it in :)

I offered to give code to make a canon record sheets to the guys, no response yet, but they have far too many units without a card when the Alpha Strike book tells them to go there :(

So I'm done with Battletech, yet somehow very actively working on it.  Go figure ;)