Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election 2012 - Mega Post

There are a plethora of topics I'd like to talk about, and while many don't warrant their own post I thought I could just do a quick brain dump to celebrate the election.

On Punditry
538 and Princeton's Election Consortium have talked about this at length, but I thought it would be fun to touch on for a moment. Pundits this year have been awful. I'm not just talking about those on the right, who should be expected to just tell the world Romney is winning regardless of the odds, but pundits who should be expected to remain impartial or otherwise neutral have also been terrible.

This election has never been close. Sure, at times the national popular vote has been close but there has never been a credible pathway for a Romney victory through the Electoral College (you know, that thing that is the only thing that matters). At best his odds were akin to flipping a quarter 5 times and having each flip come up heads.

Al Franken talked about this a lot in one of his books, Lying Liars I think, but the media has far more biases towards sensationalism than anything else. Posturing that this race was close, too close to call (!!), was always something they were going to do regardless. It's disappointing that the media seems so willing to call a race close when it wasn't, especially since doing so entailed buying the Romney spin on everything.

On Right Wing Punditry
It's funny to just say that one should go on Intrade and bet against whatever Dick Morris says, but it's not completely inaccurate. Dick Morris, Karl Rove, Red State, and most everyone else on the right has been completely insane.

One of the reasons I'm so optimistic about this election, besides these things called "facts" you hear so much about, is that every analysis from the right has centered on things other than polls. All of these people will just shrug at the polls and say that they're oversampling Democrats (funny thing: everyone laughs at Unskewed Polls but this is literally the premise every other pundit on the right works from as well), or that Independents break toward the challenger, or tons of other things.

When a group of people's argument is that all you have to do is ignore the polls and just look at all these other things, you can tell they know things are looking bad and they're just lying to you.

To be fair, the one lone voice of reality on the right are the folks at Romney Mega Prayer. They are so certain that Obama is going to win that their last chance effort for Romney to win is to pray for it. That's as close to being in touch with reality and probability as we have on the right these days.

Speaking of certainty and probability...

Intrade is crap. It literally makes no sense. The idea is somewhat sound, but this election year has broken it in a way that I think invalidates it completely.

Say you're the type of person who votes on elections, I am, and you sincerely believe Mitt Romney is going to win. Intrade will give you about +150% return on your investment if Mitt Romney were to win. That's not bad! The problem, though, is that at no point during the election year did Intrade give you a better return on your money than using an online betting company.

Markets are supposed to be intelligent, any sensible person knows they're not, and if the Intrade market worked you would see the numbers on Intrade tracking closely to that of online booking services. Seriously, if I thought Romney would win I would take that money where I could get the best return, and similarly if I thought Obama would win I would take it to where it could also get the best return. This should drive up the value of Obama until his stock on Intrade was close to these booking sites, and would also drive down the value of Romney until it was close to the booking sites.

Instead, we have a situation where in a marketplace of marketplaces there is a clear choice. If you believe Obama will win, and I've got money saying just that, you should put it into Intrade because you'll get the best return. If you think Romney will win you should put it elsewhere, for similar reasons. Instead we see many people buying Obama on Intrade, but a large amount of people buying Romney for reasons that I fail to understand.

Intrade has been volatile. There were instances where a single person would buy up Romney shares and drive his prices up. I think it is highly likely that there are people who have tried to manipulate that market to favor Romney, because if it reflected what it should, what the marketplace should dictate, it would become a news story.

This is just another example of a marketplace being inefficient. Congratulations capitalists, your false god is dead.

I talk about and think about libertarians a lot. I don't like them, but I know way too many and they have an increasingly loud voice in discussions these days.

To say that libertarians are dishonest would be a vast understatement, most of their arguments are inherently dishonest and craven, but they can't (unfortunately) just be laughed at.

What strikes me as interesting, and sad, is that libertarians seem to be voting for Romney. This goes to prove that all the crap libertarians try to do to get you squishy liberal types to side with them is all bullshit. Libertarians don't care about legalizing marijuana, or gay marriage, or ending wars abroad, or any of those issues. They are willing to sacrifice each and every one of those issues, and more such as abortion, so that taxes will be cut on the bourgeois class. That's it.

Libertarians are not your friends, they are just trying to put a happy face to the right's fascism. There is no there, there, and they will quickly give up all the beliefs they profess to care about if it means unfettered trade, destruction of the environment, and the destruction of the working class.

The easiest way to tell they are full of crap is to watch their language on the War on Drugs. Gary Johnson believes drugs should be legalized, but he also believes in privatizing prisons and then letting those corporations fund candidates who will keep drug sentencing draconian so as to make more profit for the prisons. At the end of the day, Gary Johnson is willing to sacrifice his stance on drugs if it means privatizing and enshrining corporate power against the best interests of the people.

Questioning Legitimacy
The most nefarious, cynical, and awful thing has been happening. While the above pundits might be spinning things in a last ditch attempt to create a Romney victory, they are also doing something far more sinister: they are making millions of people on the right believe that a Romney victory is certain, and that when Obama wins it will be because of criminal actions.

My biggest fear, and one I think is completely rational, is that we are going to see the very mechanics of today's elections questioned. From bullshit stories about people touching screens for Romney and coming up with Obama, to bullshit stories about undocumented workers voting, to bullshit stories of "voter registration fraud" (which is not an actual issue and anyone that reports on it is doing so because they're stupid or corrupt), to a litany of other issues we are going to see Obama's legitimacy called into question under the most vile conditions.

There's a lot to be said for how partisan we are. I have a hard time blaming it on spineless liberal weenies, although they do their fair share of culture warrior-ing against what they see as "rednecks", and it is mostly the fault of those on the right who sincerely hate anyone who is not straight, male, white, and Christian.

President Obama's first term has been plagued with the ugliest and most vile of accusations, and I believe it's going to be much worse going into the future. While people called into question his very legitimacy as a citizen and as a person, we're going to see the actual election called into question. Pundits have created a sense of certainty for Romney supporters, and their anger is going to be channeled into hatred and questions of legitimacy moving into the future. It's going to get ugly.

The Future
Moving into the future I expect I'll troll and otherwise just count coup on conservatives for a few days. These people have become awful, not all of them but enough to say what I'm saying, that I'll just brag about ACORN stealing the election for laughs. Because, seriously, ugh.

After that I fully expect to start yelling at you weak, awful, boot licking liberals who defend capitalism and the 1% but want to do so in a nice way, instead of the hateful and vitriolic way of the right. Don't misunderstand me, just because Romney is lamentable and worse than Obama doesn't mean I like you. We're temporary allies at best.

Unfortunately, and I say this with a really sad heart, I'm starting to increasingly be fearful that I may need to renounce my membership to the Socialist Party of the United States and become a Democrat. I know, I know. It's becoming increasingly clear, however, that we no longer have two parties: we have one and a half parties.

One party, the Republicans, exist to just shit on everything and yell about black people. They're really only half a party, and there's no conversation or debate to be had. There's no marketplace of ideas with these people, as they will constantly move the goal posts forever to the right and just be hateful at the opposing party no matter how much they capitulate.

The other party, the Democrats, are the party of moderates and the center. Instead of going to the left and thinking that they can work with the Republicans to find a moderate solution in the center, they instead have chosen to inhabit the center. Everything from health care insurance reform, to the stimulus, to their tax plan are all things that are very centrist and moderate things. They're not the leftist party, and they sneer at those that belong to fringe parties that are on the left.

What the Democrats have going for them, however, is that they remain a big tent. All actual political discourse and discussions happens in the Democratic Party. I think even "libertarian" types understand this, as we've seen them exercise more and more influence in the Democratic Party over issues like school vouchers and the like.

Unfortunately I'm starting to think the only way to move the conversation, to change policies, and to have your voice heard is to be an active member of the Democratic Party. The Republicans will never argue in good faith, and they argue for things that are demonstrably worse than the Democrats at every step, and the Democrats will only laugh at us in the SPUSA.

Moving into the future, however, we're going to get Four More Years and that's the most I could hope for right now. The next battle is to create change within the Democratic Party so they can better fight for the causes that really matter.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

President Obama is no Eugene Debs, but...

We at the Hammer Dialectic offices have been busy watching debates, reading polls, and otherwise keeping up to date with every small movement in this year's election. We're political junkies, and we are now able to offer an endorsement for this year's presidential election.

Listening to conservative talk radio, such as Rush Limbaugh or Mark Levin, would make you believe that President Obama was a fire breathing Marxist who was hell bent on paving the roads with the bones of the villainous bourgeoisie. Sadly, President Obama has fallen well short of being the Marxist god emperor who would usher in a paradise of worker solidarity. Instead, President Obama has been a middling, mediocre, and disappointing president.

The amount of issues that President Obama disappoints are numerous. Health care, trade, drone attacks, Guantanamo Bay, and a tremendous amount of issues are all things we can look at with sadness and anger. Where was the transformative president we all elected in 2008? Where was the hope and change?

The most important issue to us here at the Hammer Dialectic, and the issue we believe is most affecting on the world, is trade. Globalization and free trade has destroyed unions, polluted the world, brought about misery and pain to factories abroad, and destroyed the blue collar middle class in the United States. Free trade and a corrupt tax code have allowed the most massive redistribution of wealth from the working class to the owners of investment capital. This is an issue both President Obama and Mitt Romney agree on.

Through it all, though, there are differences. While Romney and Obama largely agree on trade, Romney would also go about dismantling the welfare state and exacerbating an already unbearable situation for many in the United States.

We supported Nader in 2000. We have spoken to many leftists, actual leftists, who won't support President Obama because they believe the increased horrors brought upon by a Romney Administration would finally awaken the American public to the evils of capitalism and usher in real change. We hear this, and said as much, in 2000 and 2004. This underestimates the right's ability to double down on every evil or wrong belief they push.

Think about it, when have you ever seen anyone on the right to ever admit something was wrong or to otherwise back down? The problem with the 2008 crash wasn't an excess of finance capital, but there wasn't enough capitalism. Or just look at the commentariat on the right and it's easy to see that no matter how wrong, stupid, or vapid that they do nothing but double down on each and every thing.

Sadly, the best we can hope for is an Obama second term that will exert some effort in protecting the American people from the excesses of capital. That's it.

In the end the choice is clear this election. President Obama is the best we can do, and we can not possibly understate how awful a Romney Administration would be.

Lastly, we are hopeful that the much anticipated and highly regarded endorsement from The Hammer Dialectic will put President Obama over the top. We have run the numbers and we believe that our endorsement will give President Obama a 294 to 244 victory over the villainous, craven, and lying Mitt Romney.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chikara's King of Trios Thoughts and Gifs

This is going to be fairly short and concise. Well, as short and concise for ten hours of the best wrestling.

Going into King of Trios I was a little apprehensive. I really love a lot of Chikara, but some of Chikara has never done anything for me. Mix that with some nostalgia teams that I don't care about, and a few teams that I knew nothing about and I thought that Trios would be more about hanging out with my Wrestling Bros than the actual event.

I was wrong. First thing, I'm a bad wrestling fan. I've taken the "What have you done for me lately?" approach to wrestling. Seeing an old guy doesn't do anything for me, but if delivers it can be great. Secondly, judging a few trios teams based on what I found on YouTube wasn't fair. Last, despite Trios being the best wrestling event I have ever been to and Night 3 having the best match I have ever seen I can still confidently say that hanging out with the Wrestling Bros was still the best part of the weekend. You people are that awesome.
I could go on and on and on and just gush about how great everything was. Instead of doing that I'll just hit a few points that seem worth mentioning.

First, I was at the live show. Since then I've watched the MP4s (GIFS!) and ordered the DVDs. I still don't feel like I spent enough money for how great the show was. The taping, while obviously not as great as actually being there, is very good and definitely worth watching if you are a wrestling fan. Night 3 is the best wrestling show I have ever seen, but watching the first two nights (which are both great) really helps Night 3 become what it is.

Second, holy crap I like the Young Bucks. I hated those guys, but they were always entertaining in the ring and were great heels. They won me over as a fan.

Third, Dasher Hatfield is legit the nicest guy ever. Mr Touchdown is amazing. Seriously, everyone I met and talked to in the show was gracious and nice. The only exception was Ophidian and that dude shut me down in the most foul way possible.

Fourth, Too Cold Scorpio can still go, Tommy Dreamer was fun, and people were losing their minds over Tito Santana.

Fifth, Never before, never again will we see Sugar Dunkerton v Tatanka.
Sixth, Kaori Yoneyama is my new favorite wrestler. I could watch her and Tsubasa Kuragaki wrestle forever and I would never get tired or bored.

Seventh, Team JWP was awesome. The tag match with them and Manami Toyota is my favorite match ever. I've watched it three times since then and it's still amazing. That match just made me so happy. I wasn't a Joshi fan before, but in an attempt to be a wrestling fan I think I need to be since all the Joshi wrestlers there were just the best.
Eighth, the Sendai Girls team and JWP teams were ace. I'm not going to say the weekend would not have been as awesome without them, but the easily contributed the most of anyone else there.

Ninth, isn't it crazy we live in a world where a guy like Ultramantis Black can come out to black metal and be the face against some good looking young guys who are clean shaven? That's nuts!

Tenth, Wrestling Bros because YOLO. Seriously, I came with a lot of great friends and left with even more.

I could go on and on about so much. It was close to a perfect weekend and the wrestling, friends, and environment was just perfect. Also, if you weren't there you should definitely get the DVDs or buy the stream. Smart Mark Video has it and it's seriously the best wrestling show ever, even filmed. I've watched it twice since coming back and it's just as good as I remember.

Also, since people don't come here for my rambling thoughts (Brandon Stroud will have a write up on Monday at With Leather that will definitely be worth reading) here are the gifs I've made. There's over 75 between all 3 nights.

Night 1
Night 2
Night 3

If I missed anything let me know on Twitter or wherever kids talk to one another on the internet. ICQ?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Friedich von Hayek and Augosto Pinochet: The Liberty Scam

Few figures exist in the Libertarian movement like Hayek. No other figure is quoted, revered, or talked about as much. Sure, certain segments of that "movement" prefer Ayn Rand or Ludwig von Mises, but Hayek is the one I hear most talked about.

Take a quick look at Cato, Reason, or those awful economic rap videos and it's easy to see a level of idolatry that would make the most staunch Marxist blush. Of Hayek's work, The Road to Serfdom is the most talked about and lauded. I'll go into a little detail about why it's a silly and nonsensical book, but first here's a cartoon summary of the main points of the book.

It's important to understand that this was written during World War 2. Hayek thought that the centralized planning the Allies did to fight the war would result in new dictators rising up and taking away liberty. Hayek saw the National Health Service in the UK, national highways in the United States, and many other such programs as examples of the beginning of the end.

It's peculiar to me that a book that lays out a set of predictions could end up being so completely wrong, yet still be read and referenced to the extent it is referenced today. I might have missed it, but I don't remember Norway or Sweden or France or Germany or the United Kingdom or any other nation this book was talking about slipping into despotism and terror as a result of implementing social democracy. I'm a simple man, though, so I might have missed it.

This all becomes ever more strange when you realize that Hayek was in favor of dictatorship and did support the overthrow of a democratically elected government. All of Hayek's talk about liberty and freedom become worthless once you understand his involvement and support of Augosto Pinochet and his despotic regime in Chile.

Many others have done a better job of talking about this subject than I am capable of, so I highly encourage you to take a look a Corey Robin's post on this subject as he does an excellent job of discussing Hayek and his support of totalitarian regimes.

What takes Hayek from being merely stupid and getting overly excited about the free market, lest we forget stupid leftists who have supported vile dictatorships because they were caught up in the excitement of a perceived worker's revolution, is that he was very clear about what he saw and what he encouraged.

Hayek was, in fact, not just an enthusiastic supporter of Pinochet and what he had done in Chile, but was quite open about preferring a dictatorship that protected his twisted view of economic liberty to “democratic government lacking in liberalism." Andrew Farrant, Edward McPhail, and Sebastian Berger have gone into great depths exploring Hayek's views on these issues in a well written paper that can be found here.

What does all of this mean, though? I could go into great detail about other Libertarian thinkers and activists and their support of despotism, such as Ludwig von Mises collaboration and support of Italian and Austrian fascism, but what's the point?

The point is this: Libertarianism is a misnomer. They care not one iota about actual liberty. They will sometimes talk about gay rights, legalizing marijuana, ending various wars, and lots of other things that appeal to a liberals sense of what liberty actually means, but at the end of the day they are willing to sacrifice everything for economic freedom. Libertarians care not about actual freedom, and they are overtly contemptuous and against democracy, instead they merely wish to "liberate" the markets from any democratic oversight and they are willing to do anything and everything they can to do that.

It can be to no one's surprise that most, although not all, avowed libertarians are voting for Mitt Romney this election year. Despite Mitt Romney and President Obama having differences on gay marriage, illegal drugs and sentencing, education, and many other issues that those that call themselves "libertarians" pretend to care about that at the end of the day they are willing to sacrifice all those issues for a slight decrease in government involvement in the free market.

I know I have said this time and time again, but there is a fundamental incompatibility between democracy and capitalism. We see this every day: capital and business are becoming more powerful and are using that power to weaken democratic controls, influence, and the very institution of democracy in local governments and unions.

We will not be able to fight back for as long as people are allowed to talk about von Hayek without mentioning his disgraceful support and intellectual arguments for despotism and tyranny. On this anniversary of the coup that overthrew a democratically elected government we must remind the world what the free market looks like and does. Viva Allende!

Friday, September 7, 2012

NOVA Open Review, Thoughts, and Battle Reports

I've been slacking off on writing this, work has been nuts this week, but here are my thoughts on the NOVA Open.

Overall Thoughts on the Tournament and Convention
I had a very good time. I played in the 40k Grand Tournament and it was well run and moved. I think it's unfair to compare it to Adepticon or past Games Workshop Grand Tournaments, they have very different aims than NOVA, but they will have to work as a baseline.

First, the hotel worked. It was clean, reasonably priced, and was not in the way. I've been at tournaments in crappy hotels that cost 50% more than what I spent at NOVA, and I'm thankful that NOVA appears to be sticking with the Hyatt in Crystal City. From what I understand, it sounds like most of the complaints last year were addressed in a positive way this year. The only real complaint, and I know this is one that can't be addressed, is that most of the neighborhood restaurants weren't open during the weekend and the hotel food was a little pricey. We packed sandwiches and snacks so it didn't bother us too much.

The 40k GT was well run. It moved along and I didn't hear very many complaints. Pairings went up reasonably fast, and with two and a half hours I imagine most everyone finished on time. I only had two games that didn't end "naturally" and both of those would not have changed had there been more time. 

My only real complaint with the GT was the terrain. It looked nice, but was very big and just didn't feel like any sort of terrain I've ever played in 40k. I've been to numerous Grand Tournaments, both GW and independent, tons of RTTs throughout the East Coast, and have played many games otherwise and I have never seen or played on terrain that felt like this. I don't think the terrain ever won or lost me any games, but I definitely think it's an area where they could improve moving into the future.
Don't get me wrong, I imagine those that brought balanced lists had no problems. While the terrain could be improved, and granted this is an improvement that would make the terrain more in line with what I feel 40k terrain should be, I don't think anyone that brought a balanced list was overly hurt by it. I have no sympathy with someone that lost because of the terrain because they brought an MSU gunline and wanted to grind down their opponents with statistics, instead of actually playing a real game of 40k.

Outside of terrain I think the NOVA FAQ could have been better. I give them a pass on this because GW has been lax about cleaning up some of the core rules for 6th edition, but one NOVA FAQ ruling struck me as just obviously wrong. NOVA FAQ ruled that a Flyer could fly, or Hover or whatever they call it, and do so at Combat Speed up to 35". That means that Cruising Speed is the domain of 36" and only 36". In all the games I played and all the Flyers I played against I never once saw someone go 36". I bet there's a very strong probability that there was never an instance where a Flyer ever went Cruising Speed the entire weekend. I think that's a clear way you can tell you got a rule wrong: When a rule gives you two choices and you interpret it to mean that in 99.99999% of the time only one option will be taken.
It's not a huge deal, although it definitely helped the two Necron Flyer lists I played, but there you go.

I have a few other quick problems and areas where I believe they can improve. 

Paint judging was done in a way that confused me. I know I got paint judged, but my result was never posted. Now, my army is very much a tabletop quality army, but I'm still proud of it and painted it up in a few short weeks. I think it would have scored well, and I would have liked to have seen what I got. It's a little annoying that I had to bring my army to get judged and I don't have the score to see.

Ashley and I have talked that when we NOVA next year that both of us will have to play the same system. Schedules didn't overlap and it was hard to see one another much. I obviously don't expect them to make this work for us, I doubt there were many other couples that split systems like us, but going forward we just need to make sure we play the same system.

Lastly, and most importantly, I think Mike Brandt and the guys who run NOVA need to decide if they want to be the big competitive 40k tournament or if they want to be an actual convention. I only played in the 40k GT but I still played 8 games and that left me with zero time to check out vendors, take hobby seminars, or do much of anything but play all the 40k in the world. I love 40k, but cramming that many games into a weekend involves sacrificing a few things and I think creating a real convention is going to be one of them. 

I remember the old Games Workshop Grand Tournaments, at least the ones I went to in 2008, and how great they were because we would play 5 games but we also had time to check everyone's army and really take in the event. It's a slower pace that really allows for a more relaxed environment, which fosters an ability to do things that aren't just playing games. I very strongly believe that for NOVA to become a true convention that it will need to give up the "competitive" nature of what they are going for. 

Everything I talked about is relatively minor. I go to these tournaments to play new people, to see cool armies, and to get in a bunch of good games. The tournament did all of that and it did it very well. I hope none of what I said above gets in the way of the fact that I had a good time and will go again next year.

Quick Battle Reports
I didn't take detailed notes or have army lists / missions handy, but I had a great time this weekend and thought it would be fun to talk about each game briefly.

Here is my heroic Tau with glorious Kroot, intrepid Vespid, and stoic Ork allies.

Game 1
My first game was against a really good guy running Necrons. I forgot his name (Very sorry!), but it was a very close game. I had some ridiculous luck, Vespids managed to take off the last Hull Point of a Necron Flyer (!!??!?) and I managed to pull out the win. It was a tough game and I think Wraiths give Necrons a very strong assault element that ties that army together. Without them they have the risk of not being well balanced. This army was balanced and fun to play against. Good guy and a good game.

Game 2
Game 2 was against Nicholas Caruso and his Grey Knights with Space Wolf allies. I believe the mission was Objectives, with The Relic being the center objective, and using Hammer and Anvil. His list was hard as it constituted Grey Knight Razorbacks and lots of Psycannons. 

I honestly became disinterested in this game by round 2. He was just rolling so many dice and going through shooting with everything that it became tedious. He was an incredibly nice guy, though, and was really great to talk to afterwards. He fully admits that this is a hard list and isn't fun to play with or against, but NOVA is a competitive tournament so there we are.

Very good guy and a very big defeat for me. Looking back on it now I realize that I could have given him a much better game had I deployed differently. I believe I have the tools to beat this army and had I deployed better I think it could have been closer. It would have been a hard game for me to win, but I believe I better understand what I need to do to make it a better matchup. 

Game 3
Game 3 was against Pete and his Blood Angels. I saw his army and thought I had a strong win. He had very few models, and I figured I could kill 15 2+ Save models.

I couldn't. Pete was a super good guy, but this is one of those games where the game wasn't as fun as it should be. There were just a lot of weird things that happened, such as having a big mob of 30 Ork Boyz with Warboss charge 5 Sanguinary Guard with Dante and kill zero models. Between Shooting and Assaults I did an unimaginable number of wounds and killed nothing.

It happens, and Pete was a lot of fun to play with. He had really bad luck his previous game so he was owed a good game. I also know that a big part of my loss came from my playing too aggressively and counting too much on being able to throw enough wounds on his Terminators and Sanguinary Guard. Had I played more carefully and focused on shooting and having a strong Counter Attack element I think I could have won.

You have to take the bad with the good and the bad luck I had this game turned into ridiculous luck in my 6th game, so it all works out.

Game 4
Game 4 was against Brian Carlson, and if I keep repeating myself that he was a great guy it's because I had really great opponents for a lot of the tournament. Super nice guy with a gorgeous army.

I wish I remembered more about the game, but I believe it was pretty close and he ended up with a victory. I remember there being a lot of dancing and shooting with his Wraiths, but I couldn't do enough to stop him at the end. I believe Victory Point were close and it was an otherwise close game, just one I couldn't seal the deal on.

Very good guy and I'm very glad he won his bracket. He's a great player with a strong army.

Game 5
At this point we're all put into our brackets. I'm in the heroic 1-3 bracket, and at this point the games start to feel more intense. My 4 previous games were much more relaxed, but now each game effectively becomes single elimination and it definitely makes for a more intense environment.

Game 5 was against Robin Adair. Robin had a really nice looking Night Lord's army, using Blood Angels rules, and was a good guy. I feel bad because he was very frustrated for a lot of our game, he missed a 7" charge that became a 9" charge because of Overwatch and a few other things. Sadly, I don't think his army was all that good. It looked really nice, but I think it's going to be hard to win a game of 6th Edition with 50 Jump Infantry. 

This was a tough game for him because I just had so much long range shooting, and I still managed to have a strong Assault Element that by the time he did get to me I had Kroot and Ork Boyz that could Assault and take care of whatever I needed.

This was a big victory for me.

Game 6
Game 6 was with Mitch Stevens with Stiff Neck Painting. Mitch was a really great guy with a gorgeous Imperial Fists army.

I made up for all my bad luck in game 3. I had first turned and ended up taking out a bunch of Space Marines, a Vindicator, his Thunderfire Cannon, and a few other odds and ends. Whenever something would come up it would come up good for me. He had a Storm Talon come in and my Quad Gun just downed it before it could do anything. Vespids shot and killed a Librarian. It was a brutal game and Mitch was gracious and kind about it.

Had I not been lucky I think this game would have been extremely close. He's a good player and his list could give me serious problems. 

Also, all of the Stiff Neck guys I met were great and class acts. I'd look into them if you wanted some painting work as they were very gracious and talented people.

Game 7
Game 7 was against another Tau player. Ryan Christensen was a nice guy, but arrived almost a half hour late. This was a good game but we ended after only 4 turns. Things were looking great for me, so I don't think us going any other turns would have helped him too much. He had no answer for my Ork Boyz and I had killed almost all of his troops by this point.

Very good guy, though, and it was fun to play against another Tau player.

Game 8
Game 8 was a huge victory for me. Chris Hood was a really good guy, but he made some big mistakes that I was able to capitalize on.

One of the reasons I play so many armies is that it lets you really appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of the next army you play. Between playing lots of Xenos armies, Tau and Dark Eldar especially, plus playing Fantasy I have come to really appreciate Leadership. I'm not sure if a lot of Space Marine players appreciate how Leadership can influence the game. He deployed 3 Long Fang Squads, one with his Rune Priest, not far from his table edge. I had first turn and made it a point to cause a Leadership Check in the 3 Long Fang Squads and the one Grey Knight squad he had. This resulted in two units falling back and one, the unit with his Rune Priest, running off the board. He thought this was incredibly unlucky, and while it wasn't fortunate I can't help but think that I deliberately shot at each squad to cause enough wounds to force as many Leadership checks as possible.

The rest of the game went great for me. He Deep Striked a Drop Pod full of Wolf Guard Terminators next to my Ork mob, and stayed within range for my heroic Kroot to continue shooting his other squads to death. 

I hope this does not come off as rude, but it was strange to see someone be so surprised that his 6 Wolf Guard Terminators could die from 30 Ork Boyz, with Slugga and Choppa, and a Warboss charging. That resulted in 110 Strength 4 Attacks and another 9 Attacks with Power Klaws.  There is not much that can stand up to that.

The rest of the game involved mopping him up. I'm not sure if he was trying to stall, but I definitely felt like a jerk for insisting we get at least 4 turns down as we only had 45 minutes left at the end of turn 2. I think he spent close to a half hour just deploying his Drop Pods and Mordrak squad.

I ended the weekend winning my bracket and going 5-3. I think that's very respectable, especially with a list that was constructed to be good but to also adhere to a theme (Alien Alliance!). I definitely know how I could have made this list better, well there are lots of options but something like dropping the Kroot, Vespid, and Boyz for Nob Bikers would make it a serious contender.

I had a great time at NOVA this year and can't wait to go next.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day

Today is Labor Day. While I still prefer May Day and believe that Labor Day was concocted to help channel worker resentment towards capital in ways that are less destructive towards the evils of capital, I can't but help appreciate it for its modern sentiment.

I find it hilarious, and sad, that Eric Cantor doesn't understand or respect labor. I find it strange that there is traction with the Mitt Romney argument about owning and running a business. Americans, at their core, value labor and respect work. They even know that business only succeeds when workers allow their labor value to be expropriated for profit.

We talk a lot about business and entrepreneurship, but what is most valued is labor. Mitt Romney has run businesses, and in many cases ran them into the ground so he could extract money for himself at the expense of lives, but I doubt he has ever actually worked.

Labor Day has become especially sad because it is increasingly become a day for managers, not laborers. Too many people work for hourly pay, are contractors, or are otherwise unable to celebrate the day and their labor. Labor Day is becoming a day for managers and others, while the actual workers remain at the job creating value for those that are able to take the day off. Of course the bourgeois class celebrates Labor Day when the labor of others creates their wealth.

If you're reading this I hope you take away one thing: there is a fundamental conflict between capital and labor. Capital is fully aware of this conflict and will always attack the power of labor to unionize and stand up for itself, and labor must never allow these attacks to go unanswered.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Socialist's View on the Presidential Election

For years President Obama has been called a socialist, Marxist, communist, statist, and other such things. President Obama and myself, an actual socialist who understands Marx's critiques of capitalism, share few things in common. We seem to have different priorities and different ideas for what the country should be doing. Please don't accuse President Obama of being a socialist until he proposes any sort of halt on free trade, or nationalizes the banks, or pushes for a 100% tax rate on incomes above $1,000,000 a year.

What I wanted to talk about is how the election is looking to shape up between Mitt Romney and President Obama. Certain issues have become pretty important in this campaign and I thought a socialist perspective would make for an interesting blog post.

First thing I'd like to talk about is who I think will win. Here's the CNN projected electoral map:

Just look at that thing. Romney has to pick up too many swing states for him to win. If he was polling better in any of them, he's down in the big three (Florida, Virginia, and Ohio), then maybe we could talk. He's not, though. I just don't see a path to victory for Romney, and he's not coming out with a message that can swing Ohio or Pennsylvania. I actually think Santorum could have had a strong message in both of those states, he at least will mention a "blue collar working class" and talk about how the manufacturing sector needs help.

Between the electoral map and Romney being a weak candidate I just don't see a path for victory for the Republicans. The other big issue is that Obama's negatives are known and accounted for already. Romney's negatives are just now starting to be exploited.

Everyone knows President Obama. A lot of his actions that aren't very popular, the Affordable Care Act for one, aren't popular because they are compared to some ideal that doesn't exist. When compared to what was happening before, they end up being more popular. Since these topics are already baked into any polling numbers the Republicans won't end up getting much traction by talking about them, yet will waste hundreds of millions of dollars doing so anyhow.

The big issue I'd like to talk about on this semi-regular column is Romney the candidate. It's been four years since the meltdown in 2008, one that really started in 2007 but nevermind that, and we are finally starting to talk about the dangers of investment capital. Capital exists unto itself and only exists to create profit. That is all. I'm not even being hyperbolic as any free market fetishist would gladly say the same. It can be no surprise that Bain Capital destroyed lives in the pursuit of profit. Expecting "corporate citizenship" or for capital to otherwise act in ways that benefit anyone but those that control the capital is naive.

There's a strong chance I'll write in Eugene Victor Debs.
I almost feel bad for Mitt Romney. If he wasn't a craven member of the bourgeois class who believed in nothing but himself I would almost feel bad that the four big areas of his life are turning out to hurt his lone aspiration.

Seriously, just look at the things Mitt Romney has done that he is now running away from:

Governor of Massachusetts
President of a venture capital firm
Mormon Bishop
Saved the Olympics

As Governor of Massachusetts, he ended up being a fairly moderate politician. There's really not much to talk about outside of his healthcare plan, which ended up being the inspiration for the Affordable Care Act, and he's now in a position where he can't talk about his executive experience.

With Bain Capital Mitt Romney made billions of dollars by destroying thousands of lives. While the American public isn't quite ready to cast down the bourgeois class and usher in a perfect society where the workers control the means of production, they still realize that a man should not make money by betraying pension funds and using financial loopholes to make money at the expense of working people.

Mitt Romney wanted it both ways for a long while: he ran as a businessman who did well in business but now believes that anyone attacking what he did as a businessman is doing so because of "class warfare". Here's a quick reminder for you folks on the right: until the owners of the means of production fear the working class, there is only one instance of class warfare and it isn't against the wealthy.

Mitt Romney can not, and will not, ever mention his being an official in the Mormon Church. I would sooner expect Mitt Romney to admit he speaks French, which he does, before ever talking about his Mormonism in any concrete way.

Mitt Romney also saved the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. I have a serious question: when have the Olympics ever been a disaster? I'm serious, when has the Olympics ever not happened or otherwise been a disaster? It just seems to me, and I'm just a simple member of the heroic proletariat, that running the Olympics isn't a real good reason to vote for someone.

Where does all of this leave Mitt Romney? It leaves him with being vague, as he should be since his actual policy proposals involve raising taxes on the working class while lowering them for the wealthy, and attacking President Obama for socialism? I guess he's also attacking President Obama for not bombing Iran and for waging a literal crusade against Christians? I'm still unclear, but outside of veiled attacks at Obama's "otherness" I don't really see much in the way of a credible campaign.

I'm still not sure if I'll vote for President Obama. It depends on what 3rd party candidates get on the ballot here in Virginia and how close Virginia ends up being. Don't get me wrong, Mitt Romney is the single most detestable and lamentable candidate in years so it will be hard to do anything but hold my nose and vote for the neo-liberal Obama, but there you are.

I had planned to get into the minutiae a bit more with this post, but why bother? President Obama is a disappointment and Mitt Romney is a jackass who believes in nothing. At this point I don't even think Hank Hill would vote for Mitt Romney.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The U Gen Debs Expansion

I'm really loving the 6th Edition of 40k. One of these days (I promise soon) I'll go into why I like it so much, but it has rekindled my love of 40k. The last 18 months or so I've been 110% in Fantasy's camp, but now that I'm high on 40k again I rarely even think of Fantasy.

Because I sell my armies as soon as they get painted and I get bored of them, which is within months of getting them done, that left me with Tyranids for 40k. Since I decided to play Warhammer 40k for the NOVA Open this year I decided that doing so meant I had to get an army that would be fun to play with and would be interesting.

For years I've wanted to do an alien coalition for the Adepticon Team Tournament. Having Tau, Orks, Eldar, and Kroot all teaming up seemed like a really fun idea. It never went anywhere, but I'm now trying to do that idea for the NOVA Open.

Here's the list I'm planning on taking to the NOVA:

Shas'o, Fusion Blaster, Plasma Rifle, Multi-Tracker, HW Drone Controller, 2 Shield Drones

2 Crisis Suits, Plasma Rifles, Missile Pods, Multi-Trackers
3 Crisis Suits, Team Leader, Fusion Blasters, Plasma Rifles, Multi-Trackers, HW Drone Controller, 2 Shield Drones
3 Crisis Suits, Team Leader, TL Missile Pods, Blacksun Filters, HW Drone Controller, 1 Shield Drone

12 Fire Warriors, Shas'ui
12 Fire Warriors
20 Kroot, Shaper, 12 Kroot Hounds

Fast Attack
4 Vespids, Strain Leader

Heavy Support
Broadside, Team Leader, Blacksun Filter, HW Drone Controller, 2 Shield Drones
Broadside, Team Leader, Blacksun Filter, HW Drone Controller, 2 Shield Drones
Broadside, Team Leader, Blacksun Filter, HW Drone Controller, 2 Shield Drones

Ork Allies:
Warboss, 'Eavy Armour, Cybork Body, Power Klaw, Shoota
30 Ork Boyz, Sluggas, 3 Big Shootas, Nob with Power Klaw
2 Deffkoptas with TL Rokkits

1 Aegis Defense Line with Quad Gun

Now, I totally know how and where I could make it better (drop the Kroot for Shoota Boyz, drop the Vespids and just play with a points handicap, etc) but I'm digging this list. I like the Kroot models and I've always dug the Vespids.

I think it'll do well. I think it puts out enough shooting to create a real threat, I think it has some resilience and will be able to stand up to enemy shooting, and I think it'll have a decent enough counter attack element to make up for Tau's weak Assault phase.

The biggest downside to this army is that I decided on it in the last week of July. I got started on it on August 1st and since then I've made quite a bit of progress. Here's what all I have painted so far!

 I'm really happy with how my Crisis Suits are coming out. Above is the Shas'o with the unit of two XV8's and Shield Drones. These guys took an afternoon to paint.

 I really love the Fire Warrior models, and even if they weren't finally worth using (it's taken 3 editions but I think they're finally good enough to use in 6th) I probably still would have taken two units.

I'm less thrilled with my Kroot. I think they work but the primer got a little dusty so some of them are a little bumpy. It's excusable because they're dirty Kroot. These guys painted up very fast as I managed to get all 32 of them painted in about 4 hours.

That leaves the following to paint in 3 weeks:
6 Crisis Suits, 3 Broadsides, 9 Shield Drones, 12 Fire Warriors, 30 Ork Boyz, 1 Ork Warboss, 2 Ork Deffkoptas, 5 Vespids, and the Aegis Defense Line. I know I can do it but it's going to kick my ass.

I'll be updating as I make progress and have more thoughts about the army!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Warhammer 40k & Fantasy Daemons Update Rules

Hey guys,

Quick post today but I'm really excited about the new rules and models for Daemons. I'm really loving 6th Edition and Fantasy is still a ton to play. I promise I'll have more regular posts here in the future.

For now, though, 9kPainting put up a video of the new rules for Daemons. It can be found here.

Since I do a lot of screen caps and gifs for wrestling I figured I'd do the same so we could get some clear pictures of the new rules.

So, here you go!

 Flamers go cheap! 21 points a model and an extra Wound makes them ridiculous.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Warhammer Fantasy - Cockatrice

 I have finally gotten around to paint one of my favorite GW figures. The Cockatrice was released for Storm of Magic last year and I got it the day it came out, but I finally got around to painting him.

 He really painted up fast.

 I went with brighter colors because I'm just in a mood to paint brighter figures these days.

 I'm really excited to use him tomorrow for Bill's Warhammer Fantasy tournament. I'll be using him with my Ogres, and since it's a 2800 point tournament I'll likely add him and a Firebelly to my normal 2500 point list.

I'll be doing more updates in the near future about Mordheim and about 40k. I'm really jazzed about the new edition, and I got a new army I'm working on to start the new edition with.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Making Mordheim Buildings: Cheap, Fast, and Effective

I'm on a bit of a Mordheim kick lately. Some friends, Ashley, and I started a campaign on Saturday and it was a lot of fun. I'll likely start posting thoughts about the campaign as it progresses, but for now I thought it would be fun to make a post about how I made the Mordheim buildings we're using.

I found some really helpful tutorials online, but thought there was room for one that really took a step by step approach.

Here is what you'll need:

MDF Bases - I got a 2' x 4' piece of 1/4" thick MDF for $7. I used a cheap $8 saw to cut it into a bunch of sections and then used my Dremel to clean the edges. You could easily use a sharp blade to clean the edges instead. For bigger buildings I go with a 12" x 12" piece, for everything else I use 8" x 8".

Bass Wood - I went to AC Moore and got a bag of wood pieces. I had lots of long sticks and pieces of board. That bag cost $6 and was enough to make 10+ buildings.

Wood Glue - Big bottle cost $5 at Home Depot.

Spackle - Small tub of spackle and a plastic stick to apply it was about $4.

Exacto blade - $7 from Hobby Works

Hobby Saw - $8 from Hobby Works

Foamcore - AC Moore had a sale and I got 3 big pieces for $1 each.

Rubble - I cut up GW sprues and then fed them to a food processor to ding them up.

Long Square Wood Sticks - You have to eyeball these, but most craft and hobby stores have long wooden sticks. Find one that is the right thickness so when you cut the foamcore it'll look like proper edging. This saves a ton of time later on!

Step 1
Measure a 2" strip along each of the edges of the foamcore. 
2" is a good height for each floor as it works well with the mechanics of Mordheim and lets you fit most every figure underneath ledges. It also feels right to scale.

Step 2
Use your Exacto blade to cut these out. I trim along the edges so that you're guaranteed one flat side, which can be important later on.
This will give you several strips to work with later.

Step 3
Measure out how long you want each wall section to be. I find 4" is a great size for the bottom floor as it allows you to go larger with the upper floors while having everything fit on the base.

Step 4
Use your Exacto knife to cut into each of the marked areas. Be careful to only cut the top sheet of the foamcore so the back piece keeps everything connected. This will make the rest of the project a lot easier!
Once that's done you can fold the pieces to look like the bottom of the building.

Step 5
Unfold the pieces and trace out where the windows and doors are going to go. I use a 25mm base bottom for a window and a 40mm base bottom for the doors. Doing this looks "right" and makes for a more playable building, plus by keeping all the pieces measured out it allows me to make framing more quickly.
Once that is done cut the pieces out with the Exacto knife.

Step 6
Using the base bottoms for guidance mark out where you want to cut the wooden sticks for the window framing. I always make sure to make the top and bottom parts stick out more so that they fit better.

Step 7
Cut these pieces out and glue them around the edges of the windows. This is one of those details that really helps to make everything look good.

Step 8
Measure out 2" increments, maybe a little less, on the long square wooden sticks and cut them out. 

Make sure to use the hobby saw so you get a more even cut, hobby clippers will bunch up the ends.

Step 9
Glue each of these 2" sticks to the edges of the building and then glue the bottom of the building to an MDF base.
Notice how the edge posts stick out some, this creates a really cool effect when everything is done.

Step 10
Cut out another floor section. I chose to go with 6" for this one and included fewer wall sections. Cut out a window and throw some edging on as well.

Step 11
Cut up a piece of the bass wood to act as a floor for this section. Beat it up a little bit! I like to use bass board overfoam core as it paints up nicer and has texture. Glue this piece onto the edges of the second floor's walls.

Step 12
Glue this floor on top of the first. Have it hang forward some.

Step 13
Do another floor! Have this one be a little smaller and cut out a ruined window frame. This is seriously one of my favorite looks in Mordheim. 

Step 14
I spackle the outside facing walls. This gives me them a really nice look when painted up. Adding a little bit of texture really livens up the buildings.
I also use wood glue to glue all of the foam edges. Foam is delicate and gets destroyed by priming the building, which you're going to want to do, and just by regular use. Edging everything with wood glue gives it a strong coat that will protect your buildings and keep the white foam from coming out and ruining the look of your building.

Step 15
Prime, paint, and base! I prime my buildings black and paint using cheap craft paints. The cheap craft paints are thinner than most hobby paints and this gives the buildings a burnt out look as the primer will show through. 
I also got some Mordheim styled posters (they're all over the internet), some Medieval art, and just some other items that I printed up to scale and glued onto the walls. I think this gives the buildings a lot of extra character.
I also flocked the outside areas with regular static grass. I did this so it'd fit in whenever I wanted to use it for games that weren't Mordheim and so I could have a suburb of Mordheim. It's cheating, yes, but it works.

Step 16
Do this a bunch more times and have a full village of burnt out buildings!

Then go play some Mordheim!

I hope this was helpful! I'll likely be blogging about our Mordheim campaign as it goes along. You can also expect something similar in the Winter as we do Necromunda next!
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