Sunday, April 19, 2009

The 400 Point Challenge

As anybody who reads this blog knows I'm new to Warhammer 40K.  Thus the name of the blog.  But what some people might not know is I'm so new to Warhammer 40k I have yet to roll dice in the game.  I only have 3 Ork Boyz and a Big Shoota painted.  My time with 40K began with Dawn of War, and through the sheer awesomeness of that game I became enamored with 40K and I am currently working toward being able to play 40K.

That's why I'm so excited by the 400 Point Challenge.

The challenge was issued by a couple other friends.  My buddy Steve (whom I've mentioned in previous posts) was talking to our friend Chris.  It was decided that the painting is fun, but must be done in earnest.  So the challenge was put forth.  Next time Chris is in town we have to have a 400 point patrol list put together and painted.  So that we can actually play the game.

Now, compared to Chris who has played the game quite a while and has a 400 point army list he can put together from what he has, or my buddy Steve who got into 40K before me so has more painted, I'm way behind.

I could just slap some paint on my minis and be done with it, but that's not what I do.  That's not how I roll.  I spend a lot of time making my minis look like crap.  I painstakingly spend hours to make sure my complete lack of talent shines with each brush stroke.  So I've started to put together an army list, but I have a lot of work to do and an unspecified but brief amount of time to do it in.  And of course I'm not done with the single player Dawn of War II campaign yet.   Which of course is a good problem because boy does it suck I have so much fun stuff to do with my free time.  I mean I'm really suffering here.

So now I've picked up the gauntlet of this challenge, and I will do my best to complete it.  Even if it means I'm so immersed in 40K that I find myself actually praying to Mork and/or Gork to relieve me of this burden.

Dawn of War II - Dread Rising

The battle against the Tyranid invasion has continued, much to the dismay of my unused paint brushes. But I successfully unlocked the Dreadnaught, and then upgraded him to be a Venerable Dreadnaught.

The thing is, I've gotten to the point where I always have the Force commander, always have Avitus and his Devastators and always have my Dreadnaught. So poor Thaddeus, Cyrus and Tarkus have to vie for the last remaining slot. Not that I'm complaining, because the Devastators and Dreadnaught kick some serious booty.

Now if things would just settle down so I could start playing DoW at lunch. Then I could paint at night again...that would be the best.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dawn of War II - The Battle Rages

Sorry for the late post, but it's my last week at my old job and I've actually-and sadly-been busy at work.

So over Easter Weekend I spent as much time as I could cracking out on Dawn of War II. The game has it's power klaw in me, and it's not letting go.

When the game starts it's pretty straightforward. Kill the Orks, complete the missions, get the gear. But as the game progresses other planets open up. You start on Calderis, home world of the Blood Ravens, and move on to Typhon. Typhon is cool because you find yourself jumping back and forth from there to Calderis as missions require.

But then Meridian opens up, and so does the game.

Suddenly I have numerous missions on each planet. I have to decide which missions to complete. As I complete them, other missions open up. At the same time, there is a log that shows different actions that have occurred, and how they affect you. Some are directly related to your missions or abilities, some happen on planets you aren't currently at. Combine that with little counters that show the level of Tyranid infestation, and man the game is becoming a pressure cooker...and I love it.

I love the detail, I love the customization of units, I love the consternation of not knowing exactly what units or what equipment to bring. Oh sure, intel helps and gives a clue, but if you use your resources wrong you will be replaying that mission, and days will go by. Which I have done.

My buddy Steve and I have also been playing co-op. We are farther behind than I am in my single player campaign (as to be expected), but the game is completely different in Co-op. It's a more focused attack by us. In single player it's a mad cacophony of actions required for the units. You have different gear to use, you have to be aware of where your units are. You have to keep them all moving. In Co-op you have two units you are responsible for. This has allowed me to really utilize the equipment I have, and to focus on using those units to their max. I'm able to do a better job keeping my guys out of grenade range. It's a different way to play the game than single player, and it's pretty damn cool that way.

My only gripe with co-op so far is communication. For some ungodly reason, my buddy can hear me through my mic, but I can't hear him. He's hosting the game because his computer kicks mine in the balls and calls it a little girl (and mine is no slouch), but he can't communicate to me. Combine that with the complete lack of documentation and any semblance of an in-game help for these matters and I really find that to be an annoyance that we shouldn't have to deal with in this day of multi player gaming. We're switching to Vent, but then how do I make sure he doesn't hear me through Vent and the game? Don't know, because the game doesn't tell you anything about co-op or multi player communication. We work with computers, veterans of many games, and we can't figure this out? That is messed up.

Besides that one gripe, I love this game. I really do. I really really love it. I will continue to regale with updates as I play through the campaign in single player and co-op, but if you haven't gotten the game yet...get it. For the love of the Emperor and his Golden Throne...get it. The power of Gork and Mork compels you...get it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dawn of War II - Tempers Receding, War Proceeding

So I worked on my computer some more, and I found some success.

First a 2nd chkdsk.exe /r on my games partition allowed the game to actually load and not max out my CPU while stuttering and lagging on the menu animation.

Then, to make sure I wasn't running into an issue with my onboard sound, I turned the quality and channels used down.

After all of that I was able to continue on my Single Player campaign and finish the opening missions on Calderis. I can now move onto a second system.

This is perfect. I have a long weekend ahead of me and I cannot wait to crack into the campaign.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dawn of War II - More Thoughts and Woes

Does anybody remember Highlander? In that movie when an immortal took the head of another immortal they experienced what was called "The Quickening" as they absorbed the knowledge and experiences gathered by the dead immortal.

Dawn of War II has had a similar impact on my computer. Only by similar I mean opposite. It's not The Quickening, it's The Slowering. And rather than absorbing knowledge and wisdom, I'm spouting profanity and curses.

I think it might be my HDD. It might be something else with my computer. It could be the game. All I know is, I've played 3 missions in single player and 4 missions in co-op and now I can't really do much else. I either hang on the opening animations, or the menu animation gets sloppy and choppy and the game doesn't respond well.


The single player is a blast, but co-op is so much fun. Instead of being in charge of all the units the co-op splits the units between the 2 players. So we're having fun, and we've been kicking butt...only now it's my butt that's being kicked, and I don't like it.

I've lowered my graphics settings turning off physics, anti-aliasing, and post-processing. I've done as much HDD maintenance as I can think of defragging and checking my HDD partitions. I've even upped my pagefile size. But the game is choppy, and my CPU has both cores maxed out when DoW II is running.

I'm running a 2.4GHz dual core AMD processor with 2GB of memory and a nVidia Geforce 9600 video card wtih 512MB of video memory. Windows XP is my operating system, and I have the latest DirectX 9 install and drivers.

If I can't get this fixed I'm afraid my love affair with the Dawn of War series will be destroyed, and it's through Dawn of War that I got into Warhammer 40,000 in the first place. Anybody have any suggestions?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dawn of War II

So I was all set to get Dawn of War II within a week of its release when the company I worked for announced they were closing our plant. Being the kind of husband who is sensitive his wife's needs, I opted to not buy DoW II so that my wife wouldn't feel the need to knee me in the groin.

Thankfully times have changed.

I accepted a new position with another company last week and start later this month. And I had a birthday that ended up with me getting some money. So to celebrate my birthday and my job, and avoid having a hole burned into my pocket, I bought of Dawn of War II.

Initial thoughts on the game:

The install wasn't as smooth as I'd hoped. I had some internet issues that affected both updating the game in Steam, and updating Games for Windows - Live. Those problems, though, are the fault of my ISP, not of the game. I do not blame Relic, Steam, or even Microsoft for those issues.

Single player Gameplay is incredible. I had experienced mutliplayer in the Beta, and so I was ready for the change in game play shifting focus from resource and base management to unit management in conflict, but the single player is so much fun. I mean, it's so fun it made it easy to get over the pangs of guilt for killing Orks (and let it be known that having a group of Orks running around a battle field yelling "Dakka! Dakka!" is one of the funniest things I've seen in a video game in quite some time). I'm looking forward to finishing the campaign in single player and doing it in co-op.

It is definitely worth the price of admission...and then some.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Boss Zagstruk update #2

Work is coming along slowly on Boss Zagstruk. I have been working on the main body: dry brushing the gray on the pants, painting the tunic and working on the armor.

I decided to use a brown tunic for Zagstruk, vs. my normal red. So I'm making his armor red. I figure that since he's an Ork, standardization isn't really a high point.

I'm working on the overall painting before I move into getting into the nitty gritty detail.

So far I'm pretty happy with him

Camera update

Thanks to the feedback I messed with my camera and got some better pictures. I have updated my slideshow to feature some of the most recent pictures (plus some of the more palatable old ones).

I need to get a tripod and a light box. I think those 2 things will be the next step to enhance my mini pics. Eventually a new camera, but for now, much better pictures.

Thanks to the help of everyone who offered suggestions.