Sunday, October 28, 2012

Temporary slowdown

My posts are going to be severely reduced for a while, until I can replace my main computer.  The old beast is hanging regularly.  I'll be lucky to back up my files to an external drive, before it craps out completely.  I'll provide short text updates via the iPad in the meantime.

Most of my activity is front-end and back-end work anyway, i.e. less interesting.  On the front end, I'm assembling, prepping, and magnetizing.  On the back end, I'm trying to wrap up old projects.  I'm also working on terrain pieces.

One noteworthy update is that I finally acquired the material to begin the gameboard/terrain project I've had in mind for a couple years now.  That's a Venetian style canal district.  It will be useful for Freebooter's Fate, Carnevale, Malifaux, and who knows what else.  It will be predominantly a working district, but I'm sorely tempted to include components that are reminiscent of Rackham's illustrations that show the upscale districts of the city of Cadwallon.  In any case, I now have the MDF board and the insulation foam to form the foundation of the district.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

WIP - Tau Broadside and Well

This is my first effort to magnetize a model, other than the base.  All of this Tau Broadside's equipment is interchangeable, including his arms / missile launchers.  I'll probably use only a couple of the options, but I guess I just wanted to be a completeist for this one model.


The magnet is that little disc embedded in the top of the gun.

I'm not a fan of the Tau crisis suits.  I don't like the broad, blocky chest and the little pin-heads.  Forge World does a much better rendition, but those are prohibitively expensive -- more for display than for play, as far as I'm concerned.  I proxy AT-43 models for my Tau crisis suits instead, but I figure I should have at least one official model, in case an opponent ever gets anal about true line-of-sight in a game.  There are rumors that Games Workshop will be overhauling this sophomoric, outdated design next year.  Couldn't happen too soon.

And here's a well I've been working on off-and-on for some time.  I would like the shingles and the stones to have a greater difference in color, but I'm pretty sick of working on it.  I think I'll add some variety of color to the stones, and I'll add some more verdigris to the copper and call 'er done.  Maybe try out some pigments on it, too.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Battle report - Warhammer 40K

Another learning game for 6th Edition with my friend, Steve.  One thing I like about Steve is that he contributes to the battle report narrative, making the battle report as entertaining as the game itself.

This game was 1000 points again, my Tau / Eldar allies versus his Dark Angels Space Marines.  Steve and I are ready to bump up the points to 1250 for our next game.

Here's the link to the pictorial battle report on Picasa.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Demo Day #2

Erik (right) teaches MERCS to a new enthusiast.

We had a successful event this weekend for our second Demo Day.  Attendance was a little lighter for this Demo Day, in terms of both players and game-hosts, but there were enough of both to give a good vibe throughout the day.  I certainly met my goals, which were to:

  • Meet new players and game-hosts, and help them do the same.
  • See what MERCS was all about.
  • Finally try out Dust Warfare.
  • Check out other folks' painted models.
  • Shop  ;-)
We had three folks, including Erik, one of our game-hosts, drive all the way up from Richmond to participate.  They were a great group, and they made up our "core" throughout the day.  Erik introduced MERCS to around a half-dozen people, including me, so he certainly met his objective.  He and I threw down for a fast and furious learning game of Dust Warfare, and that was an absolute blast.  As I expected the game is clean, streamlined, believable, well-paced, and very cinematic.  I'm a fan.  

Erik and I were both surprised when my first action of the game totally destroyed his walker all the way across the table.  I was wondering if the game was too fast and perhaps would suffer from a snowball effect, but the game evened out overall, and Erik was able to make a comeback and win the game.  The game ended in a showdown where my lone soldier was desperately running from 3 German combat zombies and was taken down while trying to gun them down with his submachine gun.  Classic.

I didn't take enough photos of the event, but here are some shots of Erik's excellent MERCS minis.

That T-shirt is painted freehand!

And here is a "shot" (ha, ha) of an Imperial Navy Arquebusier, sniping from an ideal perch on the ruins of an old cathedral.  Our Freebooter's Fate game-host, Brian, scrambled to prepare this great terrain piece just in time for the event.

And here are two very thematic game-boards for Hell Dorado.

And pics from the combined Dystopian Wars / Uncharted Seas demo:

Our Dystopian Wars game-host, Aaron, and I wrapped up the day and recapped the event over drinks at a nearby bar.  A very cool day!  Aaron is already planning a similar 2-day(!) event for November 17th and 18th, down at the Game Vault store in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The NCMSS painting club

The weekend following the NOVA Open, I participated in the annual art show for the National Capital Military Soldier Society (NCMSS), held in Annandale, Virginia.  NCMSS is a model/figure-painting club that has a long history in the region, extending over 50 years.  I joined the club about two years ago, and while their membership is grounded in historical and military figures, more so than fantasy/sci-fi/alternative, they do welcome the latter.  That said, the average age of the group is probably well over the mid-fifties, so the fantasy-oriented painters still tend to get some odd or bemused looks, or the occasional curmudgeonly reference of "their little, green spacemen from the planet, Zork, or whatever".  All said in fun and good cheer, mind you.  I think.

NCMSS holds monthly painting meetups on Saturdays, and they hold monthly club meetings on a Tuesday or Wednesday night.  I try to attend both meetings as much as I can.  The painting meet-up is a great opportunity to learn from some very expert painters and pick their brains about techniques, styles, supplies/suppliers, events, the history/evolution of the hobby, etc.  The mixed bag of historical/military interests alongside the fantasy interests does serve both flavors of the hobby well, I think, in terms of generating interest in each other.  Independently, I have developed more interest in history over the last several years, so I'm fascinated with the breadth and depth of knowledge these guys offer.

The weeknight club meetings are another venue to cross-pollinate the two sides of the hobby.  They feature a presentation by one of the club members, followed by a "Parade Ground" review of everyone's current or finished projects and items of interest (magazines, trip memorabilia, historical artifacts, etc.).  We enjoyed a 3-part series of presentations that described food and rations in the military, including logistics and preparation methods throughout history.  The very generous presenter even brought samples for everyone to try, some of which were pretty exotic, like kangaroo tacos and curried boa constrictor.  Another member showed a presentation of his trip to China to see the Terracotta Army, and another presenter described the sub-niche hobby of "flats", miniature figures that are two-and-a-half-dimensional reliefs.

For my part, I plan to show a presentation of my experiment in the fantasy color palette, which I described a few posts ago.  I also plan to show maybe a 2-part series of the history and development of the manufacturers for fantasy/sci-fi figures.  These projects are background projects in the midst of everything else I have going on, so it's hard to say when I'll actually present these topics!  Having a blog helps, since I have another venue to present the topics, so that may motivate me to produce the presentations sooner rather than later.  As a matter of fact, when I posted the color palette blog entry, I had in mind the ulterior motive to build content for my future NCMSS presentation.

Next up:  What I actually started to write about -- the NCMSS annual art show!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Upcoming Demo Day

Demo Day #2 is this coming Saturday.  I organized Demo Day #1 back in February (2012).  The concept is to showcase the smaller-volume miniatures games and give them some time in the sun, expanding the awareness among the miniatures community for these other games.  To that end, I intentionally exclude games that already enjoy strong market share and large player bases.  Specifically, those exclusions are:  Warhammer 40K, Warhammer Fantasy, Warmachine / Hordes, and Flames of War.

For Demo Day #1, I recruited game-hosts to demonstrate:

  • Dystopian Wars / Uncharted Seas.  A combined demo of Spartan Games' land/air/sea fleet and army battles, based in steampunk and fantasy settings, respectively.
  • Freebooter's Fate.  28mm skirmish in a light-hearted, fantasy pirate setting.
  • Anima Tactics.  28mm skirmish in an anime setting.
  • Infinity.  28mm skirmish in a near-future sci-fi setting, where hi-tech squads engage in pitched battles, covert operations, secret missions and black ops.
  • Crosstime Crossroads.  A homebrew 25mm skirmish game that features squads from any and all genres, racing and/or competing for squad-specific goals.

For Demo Day #2, We're swapping out Infinity for:

  • Hell Dorado.  28mm skirmish in a hell-ridden alternate-history Renaissance.

And we're adding:

  • MERCS.  28mm skirmish in a sci-fi setting, where dueling megacorporations duke it out.

We almost had a demo for the new game, Dropzone Commander, but the game-host had to drop out.  The setting for Dropzone Commander is far-future sci-fi, where the game focuses on insertion missions, mainly featuring 10mm-scale flying dropships, tanks, and walkers.

I'll be serving as an all-around host, networking with folks and filling in as a player, if we have a shortage of players, and/or serving as a game-host, if we have a shortage of game-hosts.  I'll probably demo the new Fantasy Flight game, X-Wing, since that game is fast and light-weight.

I'm tweaking the event format for Demo Day #2:

  • Morning session, starting at 10:30.
  • Early afternoon session, starting at 1:30.
  • Late afternoon open gaming.
  • Evening:  dinner, drinks, and after-action debriefs at a local tavern.

For open gaming, we already expect:

  • Muskets & Tomahawks.  28mm skirmish in the days of the French-Indian war.
  • Dust Warfare.  28mm platoon-based battles in alternate-history Weird World War II.

I hope to try out Dust Warfare.  I have enough of my own miniatures to try out a basic Axis platoon.  This game is basically an excuse for me to justify buying and playing with crazed cybernetically-enhanced gorillas.  Nothing quite compares to that.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Another 40K Learning Game

Today was a cold and rainy Sunday in autumn -- a perfect day for hunkering indoors with beer and wargames!

This was a very simple dice-and-shoot'em-up, 1000-point, learning game with Steve, another player who's trying Warhammer 40K 6th Edition on for size.  The game see-sawed severely, but we both enjoyed it in the end, and we're both much more satisfied with 6th Edition than 5th.  For me, 5th Edition was a waste of time. 6th Edition is probably a good enough game to justify painting more 40K models!  :-)

Here's the link to the full picture battle report.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Painting Project - Troll

This project was an experiment in color and in pushing my boundaries.  I was inspired as a kid by Frazetta, Boris, Suydam, Corben, who all defined the "fantasy palette" of the 70's and heavily influenced the direction of fantasy painting thereafter, as evidenced by Bisley, Bonner, and numerous others.  Their colors were rich and kaleidoscopic and seemed to work together without clashing (usually).  I've always been fascinated by their use of color.

Rackham painters steered in this direction in the miniatures world.  I don't know, it might be a French or a European thing, but the Rackham painters blew my mind with their color choices.  I just couldn't imagine what was going through their heads when they made their choices.  Here's an example, and it's relatively tame, compared to some of the extreme examples -- I just can't find any of the extreme ones at the moment...  (note:  I did not paint this!)

For my Troll miniature, I wanted to push myself in this direction.  I started out with this rough 2-hour "sketch", primarily to lay down basic colors and value.  For a quick tabletop standard, I probably would have dressed this up for another 30 or 60 minutes and called it done.

My next step was to "loosen my mind" and exaggerate the color palette and its application.

The nose is obviously too bright, but I know I'm going to come back in and soften where I need to.  Ironically, one of the best things to come out of this stage was achieving the variation in color in the club's stone and wood.  I do like the variation in skin tone, too, and the process is fun.  I still think it's a different mindset, though, to follow in the Rackham direction.

Now I come in with some corrections and refinements, but I'm still trying to keep my mind loose.

Let's paint those pussey boils!  I started with yellowish bone, followed by a wash of orange, followed by a wash of magenta.  I like how they turned out, disgusting as they are.

Finish with some groundwork.

Overall, I'm pleased with the model, and it was a fruitful and instructive exercise.  But I still have a ways to find that mental/emotional space that I'm looking to replicate.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Battle Report - Warhammer Fantasy - Bretonnians vs Skaven

This game was part of the Acquire! Campaign (Fall 2012) that I'm running for my extended gaming group.

I wrote the Acquire! campaign rules to enable players to game with any other player at any time, just like they do in casual gaming.  This approach differs from map-based campaigns, which require specific match-ups between players and requires a lot of book-keeping.  Because of real-life availability, map-based campaigns slow the frequency of play and steal the momentum of the overall campaign, sometimes causing them to fizzle instead of finish.  I'll explain more about Acquire! in a separate post.

The goals for this campaign are to motivate the group to meet new players, try new game systems, and build out new armies.  For me, this was a forcing function to play Warhammer 40K 6th Edition; learn how to play Bretonnians for Warhammer Fantasy; and expand my painted armies for Fantasy Orcs & Goblins and 40K Orks.

This was my third showing of the Bretonnians.  The campaign allows you to play two separate armies, and they're semi-static in composition, meaning your resources and choices are limited in how you muster and reinforce the two armies.  Theoretically, each army can afford two losses.  So you can hang in there and still win the campaign, even if you're carrying 3 or so losses.  Much more than that, and you probably want to start over anyway!  Luckily, the campaign system allows you do just that.  Clever, huh.

Well, I'm approaching that point.  Mark two losses for the Bretonnians.  And this loss was so devastating, I currently lack the resources to reconstitute the army.  One nice thing about the campaign system, though, is that I can trade my winnings from my one win and acquire more resources to rebuild the army.  Plus, we're playing escalation-style, so I can expect more army-points down the road as we grow the size of the armies and battles.  Plus, I have my second army to fall back on in the meantime.  Time to paint more Orcs and Goblins!

Here's a link to the full, picture battle report.