A Memory of Light: Under three covers

Brandon Sanderson, the author of the last Wheel of Time book, has a long blog post up about A Memory of Light. As he reread the series and took note of the plotlines remaining to be closed, the book kept ballooning. In the end, it looks like the final “book” will be three books. They’re currently looking at publication of the first chunk this year (November of 2009), with the remaining books probably coming out in 2010 and 2011.

He does a great job of explaining how this came about and gives us a glimpse at the way authors, editors, publishers, and booksellers interact and direct changes back and forth.

I enjoyed Mistborn very much, and look forward to these novels, despite falling off of the Wheel of Time wagon some time ago. It sounds like there’s a plan, which has me excited and waiting for November. Maybe now I’ll get around to reading Knife of Dreams….

The iron hunt by Marjorie M. Liu

The Iron Hunt is a good book with a fascinating main character and several good supporting characters. While it’s superficially similar to the “WoD knockoff” books that I’ve been burning out on, several interesting twists are made to the setting and characters that keep it from being a playground of wizards, werewolves, and vampires. I found this via Scalzi’s Big Idea piece by her.

The biggest element keeping everything together is that there aren’t dozens of splats. The foes are demons, though they aren’t ‘traditional’ demons with red skin and pitchforks. They are very alien like, though possession is the heart of their power and influence.

Maxine Kiss is a solid, conflicted character, with a huge responsibility thrown at her. She’s the last of her bloodline and is the “jailer” of the demons. In ancient days, pacts were made with some demons that have served her family for generations…

The book has an open ending, so I expect to see other books in the series later. This book is relatively complete despite that open ending, with several other interesting elements. I like the debate over salvation, whether the demons can be reformed at all. The nature of the prison is interesting, though its scale makes it very difficult to convey.

Despite a few glitches, I really liked the book. I look forward to the next.

Partisan by S. Andrew Swann

I was clued into the Hostile Takeover trilogy by this Big Idea piece over on Whatever. It sounded like a fun book to investigate– a anarchical paradise in the middle of a huge confederacy. I was limited by the local library’s supplies however.

Partisan is the second book in the series. The local library doesn’t have books one and three, so that’s where I jumped in. The book is written well as a semi-stand alone; while it’s clear that the characters have had some recent and strong shifts in relations [in book one], their current situation is clear. The book suffers a bit as a mid-trilogy book, since the main plot is a traditional middle book “the recent victory only defeated a small arm of the overall plot”. There are a lot of strings that lead forward, implying that the last book integrate those loose threads and drive to an explosive conclusion. This book certainly primed me to look for the last book in the trilogy [Revolutionary]– or to buy the whole trilogy (which I now see is reprinted all under one cover).

The characterization was a little flat– the big swings don’t seem grounded in the character as developed in this book– but I can understand that the character grounding was developed in the first book. In general, I liked the book, and look forward to seeing what he’s doing now.

Canceled Game: Friday April 3rd

Last minute update: I have called everyone to cancel. See the post above for more on this topic.

After a tough fight in the heart of the dwarven keep at the city’s center, the leader of the town has fled and his companions lie dead. This Friday we’ll see how you wrap up the remainder of the fight for this town (since the army is assaulting in parallel to you) and see what you plan to do next.

Let us know if you’ll have any trouble making it on Friday.

Red Blok successfully holds defensive position outside of mines

Rough Action recap from yesterday’s Hold the Position scenario featuring the UNA Oppressors (1500/500) as Attacker and the Heroes of the Collectivist Ideal as Defender (1000/1000).

Red Blok: Frontline UNA: Standard Deployment
Starting Forces:
12 Krasnye Soldaty lead by the heroic Captain Vrachov (RIP) and geared with a Medic, Mechanic, and three grenade launchers.
1 Sierp w/ Sergeant (Twin Mortars)
1 Hussar w/ Sergeant (1 Med Rocket Launcher & 1 Med Missile Launcher)
Starting Forces:
9 Wing Troopers w/ Sgt., 2 Laser Gun, 2 Medics
6 Steel Troopers w/ 1 Volcano MG & Medic
6 Steel Troopers w/ 1 Laser Gun & Medic, led by Captain Frunz
1 Iron Rain, Sgt.
1 Defender Cobra
6 Shock Troopers

Reserves, in the order they came onto the board…

1 Nakolvny (Twin Light MGauss) 1 Fire Toad
6 Dragonov Kommandos w/EW, Medic, and 1 AT-Gauss Gun
1 Nakolvny (Twin Light MGauss)
8 Star Troopers w/ 1 Volcano MG & Medic led by a Lieutenant
2 Steel Missile Team
10 RPG Soldaty lead by Sergeant w/Two Medics and 1 MGauss
6 Dragonov Kommandos w/EW, Medic, and 1 AT-Gauss Gun

(You’ll benefit if you expand to full screen and click “show info” at the upper right corner.)

Red Blok Communique:
The Sierp and the Krasnies grounded two UNA squads with indirect fire, which slowed the UNA advance. The Cobra hit the Krasny with their mortar, but didn’t get enough guys to ground the unit. The Hussar hit the Cobra and immobilized it with both missiles hitting and penetrating legs. The Sierp and Hussar were hit but everything bounced off of collectivist steel.

The Sierp continued to dish out the damage and also continued slowing the UNA advance before it was destroyed by the Firetoad with lasguns. The Hussar destroyed the Cobra, but not before another mortar round wrecked the valiant Krasny. The Hussar then destroyed the Firetoad with the lasguns when everything hit (3 rockets and two missiles).

By now, the UNA was reaching the VP areas, but it would not be for long. While the UNA jump troops devasted a group of Dragonovs and polished off most of the Krasny, Captain Vorchav and the Mechanic made it around the back side of a container after making their morale test. The UNA captured points Alpha and Bravo but the UNA troops were getting whittled down by the Hussar, and the two Nakolvnys.

Just as the UNA shock troops took point Charlie, the RPG Soldats came into play and slaughtered the valiant UNA men without a single loss. Backed up by the second unit of Dragonovs, points Charlie and Delta were in total Red Blok control.

Over at Alpha and Bravo, the UNA jump troops polished off the Dragonovs trying to save Captain Vrachov and then the UNA Firetoad with machine guns flanked the container and gunned down Vorchav and the mechanic in an act of revenge for the death of the UNA Force Commander earlier in the turn. The Hussar responded to this tragic event by blowing the MG Firetoad to smithereens with twin missiles hitting dead center.

The outcome was sealed after the Nakolvnys swept points Alpha and Bravo clean. The final score was 12 to 4 (ten to win) in favor of Red Blok’s heroes.

Enemy casualties were very heavy including all three striders, and all but four UNA soldiers (or was it five?).

Red Bloks fallen were:

Captain Vorchav and his entire unit (12 KIA)
Sergeant “Ivan” and his Sierp (1 KIA)
The first Dragonov Kommando squad in full. (6 KIA)

Light damage to the Hussar

No other casualties to report.

Footnote: I lost this battle the first time I played Scott (as attacker) by a 10-3 score. It is very tough for the attacker, but it isn’t impossible. My dice were very hot today (for a change). That is always nice. 🙂

UNA Report:
Along the right flank (from the attacker’s perspective), I advanced with the Max Wing Trooper squad, Volcano MG Steel trooper squad, and the Cobra. The left flank was anchored by the Iron Rain (which ran up the center against the container), Shock Troopers, and my Captain leading a laser gun detachment of steel troopers.

Because Bryan deployed his striders first, my infantry squads didn’t have many targets. (The armor on his striders is impressive!) Because the defender pops into position without moving, overwatch wasn’t triggered. The indirect fire was brutal, tripping up the wing troopers on the right [2 grenade impacts] and the shock troopers on the left [one mortar impact].

After the first turn, I secured the neutral access zone near point Alpha, and brought the fire toad on here in round two and the star trooper reinforcements in round three. The missile team also entered in round three but approached from the attacker’s access zone and crouched by the low wall near the container.

His Hussar was a star performer– enough armor to shrug off everything [even medium missiles], and powerful but erratic fire. The rocket pack was flaky– often missing my striders [until he closed to a point blank clinch], but blowing large holes in my infantry squads.

The Sierp did a great job of slowing the advance along the left; alone it held 2 nanogenerators and 2 VP each round. Once he’d milked all the reinforcement points, it shuffled right a few cm to hold the two VP and a neutral access zone. It needed to go down much quicker than I managed if I was going to delay his VP accumulation.

His representation of my casualties is accurate; only 4 soldiers survived at the battle’s end. Two of them were the missile team at my back line.

It was a fun mission– and really illustrates that army build is huge, and good dice rolls are very nice. Many of my rolls weren’t bad, except for the penetration rolls– I could hit, but couldn’t punch through collectivist steel!

Red Blok seizes momentum

I played a pair of missions this weekend; Mission 4: Skirmish (selected randomly on the spot) with Radon/Mike at Hobbytown on Friday, then Mission 3: Hold the Line with Bryan on Saturday. Each opponent played Red Blok’s Frontline faction.

Friday night’s game was the fastest defeat I’ve suffered, due to poor army selection, bad die rolls, and bad tactics. The key to this mission is that you must seize the containers in the center for RP and a neutral access zone so you can bring reinforcements on.

Our initial placements were aggressive– I placed a max squad in one of the center spaces adjacent to the container. I took cover and overwatch, though I suspected they’d do little good. He replied by popping on a support unit of 3 Mgauss Soldaty adjacent and unloaded at point blank range. (Without moving, so as not to provoke overwatch.) They did some damage, pruning my force back a bit (away from the container, costing me figures close enough to contest control of the container).

From there, he added another unit of infantry [6] to the center, while I added wing troopers to one end and a missile wielding steel trooper squad entered at the other end. A Nakovalny started chasing my wing troopers, while a Hussar decided to teach my steel missile troopers a lesson. I replied with a unit of three fire toads, one of whom was Bad Dog. He placed a second Nakovalny next to his 3 Mgauss squad in the center and continued to chew up my max squad in the middle. End of round 1. We checked control and he controlled both containers, while I controlled both access zones. So he got the max [500 RP], but couldn’t bring them on. Unfortunately, as soon as he controlled one zone he’d be able to bring them all on…

The next round, the steel troopers in the center mangled the Mgauss detatchment. The fire toads and hussar exchanged fire, wounding the hussar, but finishing off Bad Dog. The wing troopers advanced toward the center, harassed by both Nakovalnys along that flank [and with him successfully claiming the access zone with his second Nakolvny]. Other fire thinned his Spetsnatz from 6 to 2, but their morale was exceptional. The turn ended with him retaining control of both containers, despite my scrambling troops forward to contest it.

Turn 3 began with bad news; his reserves were all ready to stream on field. The Hussar smashed a second firetoad and started around the barriers and into the center of the battlefield. The center steel squad was annihilated, as were the Wing Troopers by fresh infantry pouring from the claimed access zone. The remaining units fought as best they could, but were too few to contest the containers and gain desperately needed reserves. The writing on the wall was clear and surrender soon followed.

Important Lessons:
– Seize the containers! No, seriously, neutral zones are no good without RP from them.
– Reinforcements pouring in from an access zone are deadly. It’s a lot of fire from nowhere. As soon as I lost the access zone, the troops who had been holding it were toast. Maybe they shouldn’t have abandoned it after all?
– Build a knife fighting list. Build a list without so many officers for those matches that give out lots of VP for killing officers.

Recent random links

Scott Metz’s link page, with links for Serenity, D&D, and more.
Serenity themes and premises, an investigation/discussion.

Carefully Prepared Improvisation
Story Now, long Heroquest example

Blink Dogs in 4e
3.5e Monster Generator and Random dungeons
Giant list of house rule options for 4e
Round Table discussion of PH2 classes
Martin’s detailed look at the PH2

A good quick names trick.
F-sharp, a very rules light FATE derivative
Swashbucklers of the 7 skies sounds cool
Mouse Guard campaigns, characters, etc.

Story Games is still out there.
A Spirit of the Century short campaign from Story Games.

A Memory of Light, the final Wheel of Time book, to be released November 2009.
A cool short story
Gametable goodness; cool to drool over

Upcoming Gaming

Right now, it looks like gaming won’t work this upcoming week [Friday the 20th] due to a work party replacing the game. Saturday and Sunday don’t work as reschedules– Dad’s heading out of town, Mike’s busy Saturday, and Kev works Sunday.

The following week [Friday the 27th] will require rescheduling– Jennifer’s plan arrives at 7:30 pm on Friday, right in the middle of when we’d normally play. Does anyone think playing Saturday the 28th will be a problem? Please let us know what your schedule looks like so we can coordinate.

If you ever can’t remember if we’re playing or on hiatus for a week, just click the Calendar tab at the top. It lists the upcoming month with anticipated games in red.

Regenesis by C.J. Cherryh

Regenesis felt like an even stronger book than its famous predecessor, Cyteen. While still far more political than action packed, the characters develop in reaction to events, rather than over long periods of time, which makes it feel like the exciting period of Ari Jr.’s life.

The Union undergoes tremendous challenge with Resune’s special status at risk– but finally justifying itself. The cracks in the system feel realistic, with a good exploration of the damage cynical people (and groups) could do with the trust based government previously described.

Several elements of the previous book come into focus or are better explained in the context of this novel. Similarly, there’s no need to walk through a child’s upbringing or walk the “genius but still a kid” line– though Ari is quite precious as an 18 year old.

The book remains sympathetic to Justin and explains Jordan’s motivations (and misunderstandings) quite well. It’s not perfect, but it was an awfully good excuse to hop back into this interesting universe and world.

Therian Nanogenerator Plant secured by UNA forces

(This may evolve into a more detailed explanation of the battle. For now, it’s mostly a pointer to my battle with Paul. An important note: The Frostbite tiles are just a pretty design; we ignored them for game play. That’s why everyone’s wandering all over the board, apparently sloshing through lakes.)

We played mission two, bridgehead, basically a King of the Hill type scenario. The objective we were fighting over was the cluster of three Nanogenerators in the center. We used reinforcement rules and 1500/500 armies. (The reinforcement points were generated by the other Nanogenerators; 100 per round controlled, +50 for capture.)

The pictures are:
Battlefield Setup
The battlefield at the end of each round, pictures from the two player positions and the open end.
The last turn (one picture).

Turn on titles for clarity– I don’t know of a way to arrange it automatically. AT-43 Battle slideshow