Monday, March 26, 2018

Tale of 3 Gamers - Deadline Delinquencies

Adepticon 2018 has come and gone, so it is time to tally our Tale.

As you may recall, the goal was for each player to paint a 25-point warband for Company of Iron, and then play a celebratory, free-for-all match-up at Adepticon.  Early on, I threw a wrinkle into the plan, as I was forced to cancel my attendance.  However, we strove onward towards our goals, with Derek and Chris carrying the torch for the game, while I persevered in the painting challenge, with an eye towards playing Chris locally in Huntsville.

Well....we all choked.

In theory, Derek actually succeeded, but, like the new, old adage says, "pics, or it didn't happen".

This is the latest photo I could find, from early February, I think.

Derek had plenty of distractions during March, including hobby-related ones (painting a warband for the new game, Twisted), family-related (vacation trip), and work-related (travel to cons).

Likewise, Chris had some hobby distractions, having joined a local escalation league to build and play an army for Bolt Action.  He also struggled with the motivation to paint all the filigree on a 10-model unit.

One unit, looking good and ready for the table-top.

And then, finally, I finished my one unit for January, got about 75% through my unit for February, and about 60% through my unit for March.

Pyg Bushwhackers.  Mission accomplished for January.

Trollkin Runeshapers.  Incomplete project for February.

Initial color-sketching.  Changed my mind on this color scheme.

Very time-consuming to build customized bases for just 3 models.
As far as I got for March.  Color-sketching and some skin work for Trollkin Scattergunners.
Initial color-sketching with the airbrush.
A lot of prep work went into just their bases.  And this was after the grueling task of prepping and assembling the models from a bajillion pieces of "restic", an unholy combination of resin and plastic, that is resistant to scraping, filing, and gluing.

Here was an interesting observation I made, while I was working on the Scattergunners.  I wanted to match the skin color to the Trollkin Kriel Warriors that I finished painting a few months back (after languishing half-painted for 8 years).  And I noticed a big difference between the newer Scattergunner models and the older Kriel Warrior models....

Can you say "scale creep"?

So, that is where we stand at the end of our formal due date.  We will continue to finish out the project.  Chris and Derek didn't manage to play at Adepticon, but they did meet up to tear through some Chicago deep-dish pizza, so that's a close second.

The three of us hope to finish up our warbands and then meet up in Atlanta for our throwdown!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Tale of 3 Gamers - January Closeout and February Kickoff

We made it to our first major checkpoint for our 3-month challenge.  Everyone submitted their units for January, and we now plan our next unit for February.

My Pyg Bushwackers, ready for action!

Funny thing about the coonskin cap. I saw a dead raccoon on the side of the road, and I thought, "Darn, I totally missed the coloration on my Pyg Bushwacker -- shoulda been more grey...".  I know, kinda gross.  But Roman Lappat talks about viewing the world with that "artist's eye", and that's what happens.

Chris's Exemplar Errants.
I really like the color scheme on this unit.  It's a little hard to see in the photo, but I think the capes are a nice deep purple, which I think will look great on the tabletop, against the cream and gold colors.  Chris had to spend a lot of time on the gold filigree for this unit, so he still has a few tidbits to finish.  But these would look great on the tabletop, as they are.

Derek's Warpborn Skinwalkers (and hero, Morraig)
Derek got a 2-for-one for January, in that he painted that hero-dude, Morraig, in the front, in addition to the Skinwalker unit.  He may have another photo later, with a backdrop and all that.  If so, I'll post it in the mid-February report.

Speaking of February, since it's a short month, I will be working on a smaller unit -- these here Trollkin Runeshapers:

My February goal.
I picked up this unit at Games & Stuff in Glen Burnie, Maryland, while I was on a business trip.  Their expressions and animated poses crack me up, and I like their concept, which is that they are kinda like hedge wizards, in that they're pretty much a one-trick pony when it comes to magic - which is flinging rocks.  I like the versatility of having a ranged option for a small-cost unit of full-size trollkin.

I hope this unit will be a good palette-cleanser, before I have to tackle the 10-model unit of Scattergunners.  But after doing the prep and assembly for even just 3 models, I am swearing off purchasing any more models made of "restic" (a blend of resin and PVC plastic).  I can't stand the stuff, because it's a pain to trim and remove mould lines.  Maybe I'll change my mind, if they're a pleasure to paint.

I can't find my notes on what the other guys are painting, but in the interest of getting the blog post out on time (roughly), we'll just have to see what they are on the mid-month status report.

We think Ray dropped out of the challenge, so we're back down to 3 Gamers, instead of 4.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Tale of 4 Gamers - mid-January progress report

The Tale has started strong, with our initial 3 gamers/painters launching out of the chocks with work on-track for our first units.

Derek is the man in the lead, with his Warpborn Skinwalkers.

Chris has overcome modeling adversity and has advanced to painting adversity, as he experiments with satin varnishes for the armor for his Exemplar Errants (6 out of 10 shown here, while the other 4 are subjected to questionable painting practices).

Raymond might be a little slow off the mark, since he has been out of town for the first half of the month.

I have some initial base-colors on my Pyg Bushwackers.

While I was doing the prep for them, I got a head-start on the Troll Scattergunners, since there are a quadrillion pieces that need trimming.  I'm glad to have that miserable task out of the way, ahead of the February or March objective.

While I was doing prep work, I also did the cleaning and prep for a Rackham Wolfen figure, which I will be painting for the wife of my friend, Sylvano.  This will be a pleasure to paint.

Finally, one other development for Tale of 4 Gamers.  I will most likely be unable to attend Adepticon.  :-(  Yup, that's right -- my plan to take care of my dogs fell through, and I am 90% likely to cancel my trip.

However -- the show will go on!  Tale of 4 Gamers will proceed as planned -- with the minor revision that I will not participate in the final showdown at Adepticon.  However, Chris and I expect to make a road-trip to Atlanta sometime in the spring and still have our full game of 4 players.  In the meantime, Chris and I can at least play locally and learn Company of Iron -- and hopefully prepare Chris sufficiently for the Adepticon game and give those Oroboros squads a good fight!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Tale of 4 Gamers!

Yup, that's right, Derek recruited a gentleman local to Derek to join our fun.  We welcome Ray, who will be playing Khador.  So we now have an even split between Warmachine and Hordes.  For what that's worth....

I finished my Pyg Burrowers, but, again, they don't count for January's goal. 

Pyg Burrowers, finally finished.
But they don't count for January's goal.

As a matter of fact, between the fact that the Burrowers consumed 4 days out of the month, and my business travel is going to consume 5 more, I'm revamping my goal for January.  I plan to paint up Pyg Bushwackers instead of the Trollkin Scattergunners.  This goal is more achievable, since the Bushwackers have only 6 models, whereas the Scattergunners have 10.  And Scattergunners have tartans, to boot!  Even worse, the models are made of "restic", which is a pain to clean and prep.  I don't need that kind of headache for January...

My revised goal for January:  Pyg Bushwackers
I have a box of only 6 models, though.  And they're metal, instead of "restic".

Speaking of headache, Chris has encountered issues with the Exemplars.  Apparently, they are a bitch to put together.  The pieces just don't fit together well.  Chris spent an entire evening fussing with just one model.  And he has 10 to put together....

Meanwhile, Derek is plugging away, already sporting primer and basecoat on his assembled models....

By the way, Ray's goal for January will be painting up Iron Fang Pikemen:

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Tale of 3 Gamers - Da Pact

Tomorrow we start the clock.  Derek, Chris, and I have agreed to each paint one unit or character, each month:  January, February, and March.  That will give each of us 3 units and/or characters to make a 25-point list in time for Adepticon, where we will play a free-for-all game to decide who controls some little parcel of the Iron Kingdom.

Our factions:

Chris - Protectorate of Menoth
Derek - Circle of Orboros
Shades (me) - Trollbloods

We will announce our projects at the beginning of each month; check our progress mid-way through the month; and then start again, showing our finished unit/character and announcing our next one.  I'll report everything on the blog.

As mentioned before, I can't count the two units I already started.  That is, I can't count them for the unit to be painted for each month -- I have to start a new unit each month, like everyone else.  But I can pick from them for selecting my 25 points.  Here are the Pyg Burrowers, almost finished.

Pyg Burrowers.
The whole crew is represented by the periscope, which roams around the board, until the Pygs decide to pop out of their tunnel and unload their Slug Guns into the rear of the nerve-racked enemy!

The Pyg's magenta color is supposed to make them appear mole-like.  They might have looked better as a unit, if I had painted them with a basic, human skin color (which I did use as a base), but I couldn't resist using this color, which I think will complement the emerald-colored Trollkin.

For January, Chris will paint Exemplar Errants:

Derek will paint either Morraig:

or Warpborn Skinwalkers:

And I will paint Scattergunners:

Monday, December 11, 2017

Tale of 3 Gamers (so far)

So despite my rather adverse review of Company of Iron, I still look forward to trying out the game, now that I invested the time to parse the rulebook and distill out the key mechanics in a cheatsheet.  I've wanted an easier entree into Hordes so that I can use all the cool models that I've collected over the years.  I've also tracked the progress that the guys on the d6 Generation podcast have made, and they have had a positive experience with the game, so that endorsement has kept my interest piqued, too.

I may have mentioned in past posts that I host a weekly online Hobby Hangout.  So during our conversations of Company of Iron, Derek (of Throne of Angels video-log fame) proposed that we launch a classic "Tale of X Gamers" challenge.

My unit of Trollkin Kriel Warriors.
A paint-job started probably 5 or 6 years ago and finally finished.

For those who aren't familiar with the concept, Games Workshop popularized this escalation-league-style progress report in White Dwarf.  The idea is to track a group of gamers (traditionally the number is 4) over the course of a few months, as they paint a force to play in a game at the end of the challenge.  There can be interim games along the way, if the rules for the game accommodate smaller skirmishes.

So far, we have Derek, and we also have Chris from the Quixotic Gamer blog.  Chris is local to me here in Huntsville, so I'm hoping that we fit in some painting parties along the way and maybe even some practice runs of the rules.  We start the challenge at the start of the new year (a great New Years resolution!), and we'll produce one unit or solo each month for 3 months, to culminate into meeting up at Adepticon to play the game!

Base-colors laid down for my unit of Pyg Burrowers.

Unfortunately, I was unable to convince Derek and Chris to let me count the unit-and-a-half that I already started, the bastages....

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Initial impressions of Company of Iron (and Relicblade)

I've been looking forward to the release of Company of Iron.

I tried out Warmachine and Hordes, the army-scale predecessor to Company of Iron, when Hordes was first released.  I wanted Hordes to be my game of choice, after trying out Warhammer Fantasy 6th Edition and discovering that Warhammer missed the mark for me.  Hordes promised dynamic combat, with all sorts of over-the-top wrestling maneuvers.  I couldn't wait to have my trolls throwing enemies all over the board!

Unfortunately, the game seemed to sideline all of that flavorful combat in favor of generic, straight-up combat.  Worse, many of the mechanics that I found to be unappealing in Warhammer were replicated in Hordes:  full army-wide IGOUGO activation; no pre-measuring (which required guessing charge ranges and shooting ranges); confined army builds; and "gamey" tactics rather than historical tactics.  I quickly lost interest in the game, although I still continued to collect several factions, since I still liked so many of the models.

So I was excited for the prospect of Company of Iron, on the assumption that Privateer Press (PP) was finally going to offer an entry-level game that would be more accessible to the broader player community, i.e. new players and casual players -- as opposed to the hardened, rules-precision players that are the stereotypical Warmachine/Hordes community.

By coincidence, I received a rulebook for another skirmish game, Relicblade, on the same day that Company of Iron arrived in the mail.  My impression of each game is night and day!  Let's take a look.

The cover art for each rulebook is good.  But if I were to see each of them on the store shelf side-by-side, I would grab Relicblade first.  Here's why.

Company of Iron shows a stereotypical duel.  It's a scene that's been done a million times.  And for a trained warrior, the lady on the right shows a static, vulnerable pose.  Now granted, the boar-lady with the dreadlocks is cool, and she's about to put the smack-down on the Barbie in blue, boob-armor.  That, I can support.

The Relicblade cover is unique and compelling.  Who are these believable, personality-filled adventurers, and what are they looking at?  Where are they?  What's the deal with that saber-tusked cat?  What sandwich is that guy eating?  Now I want a sandwich, too.

Let's take a peek inside each book.

Company of Iron
Written for rules lawyers.

Company of Iron looks and reads like a prospectus for an insurance firm.  There are 13 pages of definitions and conventions, before you even start reading about how the game is played.  Dry.  Uninviting.  There is no way that a player who is new to the hobby would subject themselves to this 6-point-font agony.  I put down the book after 20 minutes, and, grudgingly, I mentally blocked the time that I would need to finish studying the rules.

Written for gamers!

Relicblade.  Fun!  It has cartoons!  The font is characterful and easy to read.  The writing is light-hearted, welcoming, and filled with jokes.  In no time at all, I'm learning how to play the game.  In about 15 minutes, I want to play a game!

When you add the Advanced Rules for Company of Iron, the combined Core and Advanced rules are virtually the same as Hordes and Warmachine.  The only advantage is portioning the rules so that you can learn them in two stages.  But PP could have accomplished that with a digital addendum to Warmachine/Hordes.  Which they do provide, by the way.  So I wonder why I needed to spend $70 on what is effectively a starter set for Warmachine/Hordes...  Company of Iron is every bit as complex as Warmachine/Hordes.  Moreso, actually, because there are now variations and exceptions to learn, in order to play the Core Rules of Company of Iron.

PP missed an opportunity to appeal to new and casual players.  PP can't afford a misstep like this.  Not when the community is dissatisfied with Mk III of Warmachine/Hordes.  Not when Games Workshop is finally recovering from their hubris, acknowledging their player base again, and revitalizing their image and product lines.  Not when the market offers so many good games to compete for consumers' finite leisure time.  Sorry, PP -- I want you to do well.  But this was a disappointment.