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Monday, December 30, 2013

War Thunder: Under the Hood with the New Update

by Rich

It's like shooting rats in a barrel

After reading and hearing some of your feedback on War Thunder, I've decided to take this sucker into the hangar for a look under the hood.  The newest patch for the game (1.37), released on the 18th of December, has completely changed many fundamental systems of this MMO.  The entire leveling and progression system has been redone, flight models for various planes have been tweaked, and the terminology for basic game mechanics has been re-written.  This is as good a time as any to talk about modifications and upgrades, and look into leveling and advancement in War Thunder.

With the new patch, the number of levels has been reduced from 20 to 5, in order to reflect actual development stages of WWII warplanes, as well as their efficiency in battle (a very helpful 5-minute video showcasing these changes is here).  XP, that old reliable indicator of progression, is gone.  In its place are "research points", RP.

Once you unlock a new plane, you'll see in the weapons tab (see above) a whole array of upgrades and modifications.  When these became a part of WT months ago I remember thinking they would be useless, and a waste of precious silver currency.  In reality though, the upgrades are totally worth it.  The vanilla plane you unlock and put into the air is a very different plane when its guns, engine, and fuselage have been buffed.  Upgrades like a new cover will increase your airspeed and climb rate, while others lower the likelihood of your guns jamming or grant you more effective ammunition.  In many cases, like for a P-47 or IL-2, earning experience in battles will eventually unlock the rockets and bombs needed to make your fighter-bomber a true killing machine.  Even the level bombers benefit from upgrades, as the default low-weighted ordnance do such little damage compared to 500- and 1,000lb bombs you finally unlock.  In short, upgrades are very useful, and they are numerous and inexpensive enough that you're unlocking them at a good clip.

Talk to me, Goose.

The new patch has also changed the flight models of many planes, supposedly matching up their historical flight performance to in-game flying.  I can't say whether this is actually happening or not, but some planes do feel slightly different to fly.  There's also been a change in terminology:  Arcade battles remain the same, but Historical Battles are now called Realistic Battles, while Full-Real Battles are called Simulation.

The new patch has also made it necessary to research planes (via RP) before purchasing them with Silver.  Previously, in the 20-tier system, leveling up a nation via air combat unlocked every plane in the new tier for you to purchase.  You might have to grind a bit to earn the silver lions to purchase planes, but (especially as a premium player) this was not egregious.  You earn silver pretty quickly in the game, especially as you become a more skillful pilot.  To be fair, as you get higher in rank and have to pay upwards of 500,000 (or 1 million, in the case of the Tier 20 jets) silver for a plane, you definitely have to sink some time into the game to get that reward.  

Anyone see an aircraft carrier around here?

The silver grind is still present, and still not a major problem, but the addition of RP coupled with a very curious decision by Gaijin has created a monster.  We are now only allowed to research one plane at a time to unlock.  Instead of unlocking a whole hangar full of planes and just having to purchase them, I now can only unlock one. damn. plane.  To mitigate this, the "free" (read: loose/unspent) XP you used to have is now called Free RP, and can be converted to RP.  The catch?  You knew this was coming - converting free RP into a plane you can fly costs Gold, which means your real-life, hard-earned money.  

The defense department wishes to inform you that your sons are dead because they were stupid.
So, how does it all shake out?  I've put a few hours into the new version and here are some impressions:

Graphics are improved, with nicer explosions and fire effects.  Gameplay is largely the same, but air combat "feels" subtly different.  The new flight models are barely noticeable across the board, although some planes (like the B-25 medium bomber) are surprisingly different to fly.  It's really hard to describe, but both myself and longtime wingman Jared both agree that flying just . . . feels . . . different.  And as far as we are concerned, "different" feels a little less fun than usual.  All in all, flying a plane in the digital skies is still a reasonably fun time.

I feel the need . . . the need, for speed!

So that's gameplay, what about the massive changes to progression?  Well, G-R-I-N-D spells grind my friends, and grind is what you get with the new War Thunder.  Experience/Research is gained at an excruciatingly slow rate, planes (especially at the higher tiers) require exorbitant amounts of research to unlock.  Couple this reality with the fact that you can now only unlock one plane at a time and you have a very drawn-out progression system.  Observe the following screenshot from an after-action report of mine:

This is a screenshot of the game of my life - 14 air kills!  That's ridiculous!  No one ever gets 14 air kills!  And those 14 kills got me all of 3188 RP towards my Fw 190 A-8 I'm researching.  Only 127,000 more RP to go!  Only 42 more godlike rounds of War Thunder to unlock one plane!  Are you kidding me?!  Average RP gain is in the 2000s, meaning you will need to eat, sleep, and drink War Thunder to unlock one plane at a high tier.  Yuck.

To be fair, new players will probably not feel the grind as much, because leveling through Tier 3 requires less RPs.  Once you hit Tier 4 and the high-end planes though, you may as well resign yourself to just playing for fun, as you will not be leveling up or unlocking planes anytime soon.

Merry Christmas!  Let's hope that Santa doesn't drive this sucker over your house during the holidays.

What can we expect in the future?  Gaijin have shown themselves to be flexible and to work with their community's input in the past.  Those of us who have enjoyed this game for the past year are sincerely hoping they tweak the research/progression model significantly.  If such a correction happens, yours truly will make sure to put it up on The Outpost for your edification. 

Until then, good luck, and have fun!

Ever since watching "Top Gun" as a 10 year-old, Rich (sylvansealy on the forums) has dreamt of flying the not-so-friendly skies.  Poor eyesight may have kept him from being Maverick's wingman, but it did not keep him off the highway to the digital danger zone.  Rich's fondest early video game memories revolve around the classic "X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter", flight sims, and real-time-strategy games. When he's not gaming or juggling his 4 kids, Rich can be found co-hosting the Outpost 309 podcast with Jared every few weeks.

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Soviet Paratroopers in WWII

by Eric Lauterbach

Back in 2007 the I95Gamers decided to put on a big scenario game for Cold Wars with three tables of action. The battle we chose was based on the game "Black Sea Black Death" which is the battle for Novorossiysk  and we needed a ton of Soviet Naval Infantry and Soviet Paratroopers. Thus began my journey into the land of Soviet Airborne. I thought I would share some of the things I have run across, as the Soviet Paratroopers did far more in the war than most people think. 

The Soviets were early innovators in airborne operations with men like Mikhal Tukhachevsky. His theories on Soviet Deep Battle saw airborne as a key component to combined operations. Either through striking deep in to the enemy's rear area to disrupt logistics and re-enforcements, or seizing key terrain and even as a diversion to main attack. Soviet large scale airborne training drops of the 1930 put the world on notice of the new way of war. It is sad to say Stalin's purges put Mikhal Tukhachevsky and Soviet Deep Battle doctrine into the ground and the tactics were forbidden to be talked about. In 1941, the German attack struck like thunder and Soviets had not yet recovered from the purges so they had no real doctrine at all.

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Bolt Action - Review: Dust Tactics Quonset Huts

I recently picked up a couple packs of the Dust Tactics Quonset huts from Fantasy Flight Games.  For those of you who don't know, Dust Tactics/Warfare is a Weird War Two board and miniatures game.  Tactics recently moved over to Battlefront. The Dust figure line is pretty cool and it includes some pretty little pieces of terrain which can be used for Bolt Action.  One of those terrain piece is the iconic, half circle shaped, quonset hut.  Some of you may have never seen a quonset hut in your neck of the woods, but here in Alaska they are not a rare occurrence.   Growing up, neighborhoods and city streets were dotted with these late 1940s/early 1950s military structures.  Commonly used by the armed forces to fill a variety of rolls, you can use these quonset huts for any game involving a military base.

Each pack of Quonset huts contains six huts.  Each hut comes in three pieces; a front, back, and top.  The quonset hut has a lot of detail and requires no clean up and minimal assembly.

The rim of the top has two teeth which lock into the front and back walls.

This is were the teeth lock in.

All you need is a small amount of hobby glue and the hut is set up and ready to go.

Here are three of the huts painted and ready to go.  I used painters tape to give the huts camo pattern a hard edge.

The rear view of the huts.

Side view of the huts.

If you need a long hut you can put two of them together front to back.

Another cool thing about these huts is that the doors open and shut.  They are also scale well with 28mm figures, like this one from Dixon Miniatures.  Dust is slightly bigger than 28mm, but they quonset huts will works great for 28mm.

Over all I love these huts.  I picked mine up during the FFG Christmas sell and got six of them for $8.  The sale is no longer going on, but the huts are still a good value.  One box will set you back $15 for 6 of them.  I give these huts 10 out of 10 Jabbas.

If you have any of the other terrain items offered for Dust and use it for Bolt Action lets us know about it on the forum.

Mentioned in this post
Dust Tactics
Fantasy Flight Games
Dixon Miniatures
Bolt Action

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Spotlight: Jagdpanthers

by Dirty Jon

At Fall In, I picked up a Jagdpanther Platoon for no other reason than the fact that they look cool as hell and I got a pretty good deal.  When building this Tank Destroyer, the Germans took the King Tiger gun and slapped it on a Panther chassis.  Mobility and Firepower make this vehicle very powerful in Flames of War.

The box set comes with three tanks and decals.  The new-ish Panther plastic sprue is in here, which makes the model very light, with the tracks and the barrel being plastic.  These plastic items are also very crisp and require very little flash removal.

Weighing it at $45 USD, the tanks are a bit expensive at $15 each.  The good news is that you will need very few for your army.

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Bolt Action - Bolt Action Radio Episode 19

Episode 19 of Bolt Action Radio finds The BAR frozen over, courtesy of General Winter. Baxter takes his snow suit off long enough to sit down and have a drink with Dano and Judson. The patrons talk about some upcoming events in the community, some recent miniature companies they've dealt with, some shop talk, and go out of their way to make this episode about everything but tournament play. Drinks are mentioned, and speaking of drinks, soldier of fortune Dano's picking up the tab tonight!

Download the BAR here! 

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

News from the Front Episode 69 - The Christmas Special

Click here to download Episode 69!

In this episode, the guys broadcast from the WWPD Christmas Spectacular at the Game Vault.  We talk about recent Battlefront news, Desperate Measures and all the cool stuff we did for our Holiday Game Day.  We are joined by Maurice, Throckmorton, John Desch and Kathy from the Game Vault as special guests.  The dudes talk about upcoming events and i95 hosted tournaments, so don't miss out! 

[Editor:  Somewhere in here I say I have 4 Jagdpanthers, when I really had 3.]

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Game Vault Early War Picture Dump

By Eric Lauterbach

The Game Vault Early War Tournament was held
December 7th, a day that will live in infamy. At least for some FoW players. It was 1500 point Early War open with no restrictions on books or armies and I had the pleasure of running the thing. I tried to match armies from the same book as much as possible.

Bill Dorais took first place with the French, Luke Melia was 2nd Place with the Japanese and Jon Baber was 3rd with German Panzer.  Special thanks to the Game Vault for providing a couple of tables of terrain the space to play, lunch and everyone walked away with a blister! 

Good fun!
Chris Corman all happy round one.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

AAR Desert Rats vs KG Piper

By Throckmorton

Over the weekend, Ben and I had a chance to thrown down with a couple of tank armies at our favorite little FLGS.

I've been playing a ton of infantry lately, so I decided it was time to pull out my current favorite armored list: The Desert Rats Armored Squadron from Overlord. This late war list for Flames of War has a ton of options for recce, taking on fortified companies and arty all at a reasonable price thanks to its Reluctant Vet Rating.

But Sean! you say Reluctant with tanks is awful! Nah, Desert Rats get to re-roll motivation on any turn in which the platoon did not fail a save previously and with the added bonus of protected ammo for the Cromwells I never find myself worried about anything but platoon and company morale. And sure, those two rolls are the weakness of the list, but you can mitigate by proper shepherding of your resources and by taking a ton of platoons.

Ben is working on a new KG Piper list with a couple of King Tigers: the only thing my list hates.

The Mission: NO RETREAT!
Points: 1780 (ish)

Here are the lists!

9 Platoons, some of which won't even matter against the KT's :) My plan is to rush hard and take out everything around the KT's using my smaller faster bits to grab objectives quickly

6 Platoons of tanky goodness. We rolled off and Ben will be the defender so he'll be starting with the 105's, 1 King Tiger and the 5 tank PZ IV platoon on the board plus the HQ King Tiger. The other 3 platoons will be in reserve.

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Book Review: Deep Wars

Deep Wars is a 28mm alternative Fantasy/Steampunk game from Antimatter Games based around underwater combat. I picked up the rulebook at NOVA, and scored two starter boxes at rock bottom prices at Fall-In. Today we're going to take a look at the rulebook.

The rulebook clocks in at 159 pages, softcover, full color. The paper is fairly thin and cheap, almost like a soft newspaper style. It retails for $30.

 It's pretty much all rules. There are only about 18 pages of fluff. Roughly 30 pages of army lists and units.

As for the rules of the game, they are based on the Song of Blades and Heroes ruleset. One of the highlights of Song of Blades and Heroes, if you're not familiar with the rules, is a risk management system for activations. You choose between one and three dice to roll to activate a model, and make skill test. Depending on the ratio of successes to failures you get, the model could activate multiple times, or not activate at all and end the turn!

They also add in lots of rules to help fit the underwater theme. Line of sight, visibility, and even sanity are affected by how deep you are in the water and how much light there is. If you have a model with no light source (such as a dive lantern) attempting to activate in the deep abyss, it might not even know which direction to go!

Who doesn't want a pimp diving suit like this?

(A cunning player might make use of light tactics offensively, too!)

The book includes both standard missions, such as submarine boarding actions, and a multiple game campaign system in the style of Necromunda, where you can keep track of experience and level your guys up.

 Here's a few shots from the army list section. Armies look to consist of only a handful of figures - smaller than Warmachine army scale.

Deep Wars also includes one of my favorite mechanics - the ability to create your own armies and units! And this is a very fleshed out points matrix system spanning several pages, allowing you to make whatever kind of army you want out of whatever figures you can find.

I've yet to get a game in of Deep Wars, but just recently started working on my figures. Expect to see some batreps once they're done, and we might even try a game or two inside a fish tank!

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Bolt Action - Break Time BAR Style

Happy Holidays from all of us at The BAR!

Here's a WWII-related image from each of the regions we live in; a little Christmas card from everyone.

From everyone's friend Baxter:

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Bolt Action - Review: Blitzkrieg Panzer II

When I picked up the Tiger from Blitzkrieg miniatures, I also snagged a Panzer II.  Even though they were not powerful, the Panzer II is one of my favorite tanks of the war.  If you want to run a 1939 to 1941 game of Bolt Action, you probably want a Panzer II.

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by Dirty Jon

I've recently been working on my Flames of War Early War Finns as I found them particularly interesting when Rising Sun came out.  In this article, I will take a look at what I have gathered at this point and discuss some plans for building out my collection moving forward.  Below, see all the stuff I have painted up for the Finns.

This is all of my painted Finns.  More on the way...
I started the army with a Jääkäri Rifle Platoon (Winter) (FI721).  You can see my article on these here.  In addition, I quickly purchased another blister just like it, but I still need to find time to get it painted.  Each blister comes with an additional command stand, so I should be set for the compulsory units.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

AAR: US Tanks vs. German Tanks in Encounter

by Dirty Jon

Eric "Paw Paw" Turner and I got together for a game of Flames of War on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Eric was in town to visit the family, so we squeezed in a short game.  I made both armies, as Eric didn't bring his stuff down on the trip.  I put together some small, Tanksgiving lists that would allow us to get to a decision on the game in short order.  These are NOT tournament lists -- just some fun for a quick game with a friend I had not seen in a while.

After heading out to Waffle House for breakfast, Eric flipped a coin and he got the Germans.  That left me with some interesting Americans.  I do not have a ton of stuff painted for the US, so I had to make what I had work.  I wanted to get accustomed to the list, so I threw in the Jumbos and the Easy 8s to see how they worked.

For the Germans, I was quite interested in the Fearless Trained King Tigers, so I went wild with those as well.  Two King Tigers at 1500 points seemed like an interesting choice, but with the cheap FT Panzer IVs, I decided to go for it.

We rolled randomly for the game and got Encounter.

Both armies fit in one tray.  There is a plane and some AAA to be added for the Germans.
Here are the lists:

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