Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Next Gern console wars: my short review on PS4 and the XB1

So after using the #XBoxOne  since tax returns were due I feel I have a grasp on the two consoles. Short review:

Disclosure: I do not have a camera for either one so I cannot judge the ability to stream. From what I have SEEN the PS4 handles streaming better from the console directly. The XB1 allows you to say Broadcast and then stream your content but I have not tried that. The ability to voice activate however would make a great addition for me on the XB1. 

The Xbox One is a great multimedia machine. So good that I tend to use it a lot more than my #PS4  right now mainly for watching Twitch and the other apps on the console which just work better and more logically (fast fowarding controls, the searches etc etc are more like a PC). 

HOWEVER. There is a noticeable lag on the Xbox One. Something I cannot put my finger on. It seems like its always a step behind in games and in the interface. Its barely noticeable to the layman I am sure but I can feel it. The #PS4  is snappy and reacts quickly. The system menu is easier to use also however it is more sparse. 

The Xbox One system menu is a bit clunky to get around at first but once you realize you can pin things to the home screen it basically becomes Windows 8 Metro. 

The PS4 apps need a lot of work. The Twitch app, which is non existent and called Live from Playstation, is basically worthless. It has horrible sorting, shows no PC content (i.e. your followers) and is horribly organized. The Netflix app has clunky operating but responds sharply. The MLB app is superior to the XBOX One version at this point mainly due to lag on the Xbox One. 

Still at night I use the #XboxOne  more at this point mainly because I can route my Comcast TV through the Xbox and minimize live TV into a window while I look at my home menu on the console. This can be buggy however at times as my TV loses the resolution and sometimes freaks out if I turn it on first without the console.

Some games are not as responsive on the XB1 as well. For example I noticed definite lag in Dragon Age compared to the PS4 version. 

Destiny plays about the same but I dont like the controller layout. I ended up missing that middle pad on the PS4 controller. Its just a great innovation. 

FIFA 15 has a few more graphical errors than the PS4, Madden is about the same and NHL Hockey on the XB1 is awful in its sluggishness but that game had a less than flattering next gen release.

Dying Light and Diablo 3 play great. Shadows of Mordor is a bit less responsive on the controller with an XB1. The PS4 version plays better

The PS4 store: horrible. Frequently lags out or does not launch.
The XB1 store: so so but annoying to navigate. The search is lame and its hard to narrow things down. Both of these consoles need work on their store apps. 

Memberships: I honestly cannot recommend a single game offered by the PS4 Plus program so far. Its all been indie title junk I dont play. I compare this to buying cheap Atari 2600 cartridges back on the day. Meanwhile PS3 Plus owners are getting kick ass games like Dishonored for free. Go figure

The XB1 Gold Member plan has frequent sales and about the same titles as the PS4. The sales make it worth it however you need it for some online games like Destiny etc. This is a toss up right now. I prefer the deals and the sales on the XB1 store right now but the titles are mediocre at best for the free stuff. Pool Nation was a laggy boring loadfest. 

Social functions: The PS4 share button is a thing of beauty and super responsive. Screenshots and videos are fast and responsive to make

On the XB1 its laggy and slow. You must press the XB1 button QUICKLY  twice while in game to bring up a sluggish menu where you can take a screenshot or tell it to record a clip. So you can figure out what could happen from there. Yes you tap it too slowly and it minimizes the game you are playing to a window and takes you to the XB1 home screen. Annoying

On the PS4 whenever you go to share a photo to Twitter or Facebook and you are in an online game it WILL disconnect you. On Xb1 this doesnt happen. However sharing RIGHT from the game does NOT exist. You must launch their sluggish Uploads program on the Xb1 to edit and share things.

The XB1 really needs to integrate gaming fast social media better as the PS4 beats it there. 

One nice thing the XB1 one will do is save clips when you do something great but I have only seen this happen in EA Sports games.

So in short for a multimedia machine the XB1 is great. Easily can replace Apple TV or a Roku on your main TV so you can move that to another room. 

The PS4 however is still a beefier gaming machine. Its sharp and responsive and sometimes I just feel the XB1 is slightly behind in response time

Both consoles have titles that are worth getting at least to me. The PS4 wins though in terms of titles only for their console. On the XB1 State of Decay is great, Neverwinter is fun but on the PS4 you have MMO's like DCUO and Final Fantasy. Last of Us on the PS4 and Bloodborne are huge right now and the XB1 hasn't really matched that degree of hype except with the HALO Master Set which had some launch issues. 

So for the TLDR: it is as we expected. The PS4 is a pure gaming machine with just enough apps and things like that to satisfy the media crowd that is not too fixated on that.

The XB1 is a great family multi media device that tries to do a little of everything but could use a slight speed overhaul. If I had to go 10 years on the next gen consoles I would put my money on the PS4 which is what I did originally. Then however the nerd side got the better of me and I gave in and got the XB1 just to see how the other half was living. 

Ah well. It never hurts to have the best of all the gaming worlds. PC, XB1, and the PS4. Now I just need to work on getting a VITA

Monday, February 23, 2015

Down in Flames DVG version

Managed to play Down in Flames the WW2 aerial combat card game this weekend

We played the DVG version of the game. GMT also makes one but it is very in depth and not as light as the one from Dan Veersen. 

We started a 1944 bombing of Germany campaign. The first battle went well for the Luftwaffe (played by myself). While I lost an Ace the American bombers only damaged the target and they finished with -17 points.

The second mission went horrible though as all American bombers got through however flak took one out. The last bomber dropped 36 bombs on target and destroyed it. This swung the campaign back to 50 some points positive which puts it at the historical level. I lost another Ace and all my planes in that mission.

It is a fun game with fast card play and a ton of decisions to make. The GMT version adds a lot of chrome like fuel drop tanks, flak that can miss and tons of other features. However we were not in the mood for all that I was just learning so we went with the easier version. Fun game overall. Captures dog fighting real well.

Monday, February 2, 2015

La Bataille de la Moscowa storing counters

Getting the hang of La Bataille and a COA gripe

Clash of Arms has quite a thing with their La Bataille system for Napoleonic battles. For those not familiar the Moscowa game is a simulation, on the regimental/battalion level of the Battle of Borodino, fought between Napoleon`s Grand Armée and the Russian First and Second West Armies under Prince Kutusow on September 7, 1812. The game provides six short scenarios and a grand battle game.

The Moscowa game is part of a long running family of Napoleonic titles dating back to 1979. Many of the titles have been re released or updated as the years have gone by. The Moscow game is the latest in the series (2011) so the the main reason I wanted it was the updated ruleset and charts and counters. 

When I first wanted to get into the series I originally bought the Regulations rulebook for $9.99 off of the Clash of Arms site. Needless to say after MORE research I was in for a big surprise. 

Turns out the entire ruleset is FREE online at the sister site located here:

There are TWO versions. Marie-Louise....a simpler ruleset...and Le Règlement 11. Whatever you NOT buy the $9.99 ruleset on the Clash of Arms site. Like much of their website these rules are OUT OF DATE and not the most updated set. In fact these rules represent version 22...while they are actually on version 30. However Clash of Arms does not tell you this on their site here:

In fact I would say they go out of their way to never mention it and fleece you of 10 bucks. While the $9.99 rulebook is "ok" in its presentation it is a waste of money. The entire Clash of Arms website needs a lot of work. For what they charge for some of their titles you have no idea what you are getting. No images, no proper descriptions...the website is a very vague way to sell games. If it weren't for 3rd party sites like BoardGame Geek I would have no clue what half their titles look like.

Now on to the next interesting surprise. The 100 dollars that I paid for Moscowa comes with ONLY the Marie-Louise ruleset. The SIMPLER ruleset. So it is almost like the company wants to force these rules on people. So regardless if you want to play the full game you need to download the PDF from the website of the XXX series rules. Confusing isn't it? Also even in the PDF's a lot of the rules, charts and tables are woefully undescriptive. It wasn't until I got the Moscow title that things were further explained by charts and tables that are NOT downloadable off of the secondary website. 

So in short. If you want to play this series:

1) Buy a title
2) Go here and download easy or advanced rules:
3) Download the charts and tables:

Do NOT buy any rules books off of the Clash of Arms website:

Don't get me wrong. The game is gorgeous and trove of history and a labor of love. To me however if Clash of Arms Games wants to succeed in this current modern day of business they really need to get on that website and update the information they put out there.