Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016 My Hobby Year In Review

It's funny how certain things happen without you truly realising them at the time and they only become visible when you look back.  Today when I decided to look back on 2016 it occurred to me that I have participated in more hobby activity this year than I have in any year since I left Games Workshop in 2009.  I've done a bunch of painting, a little bit (not enough) of writing and played a ton of different games this year.  For a lot of people in a lot of ways 2016 was really challenging but when I look back on my 2016 hobby time it makes me pretty happy and isn't that the whole point?

Everything old was new again.
2016 was a year where I got reacquainted with a number of games from both the recent and distant past.  Wizards Of The Coast released Curse Of Strahd which is hands down the bast take on Ravenloft in nearly two decades.  My group is currently exploring the Barovian country-side and preparing for their encounter with Strahd.  Prodos Games released a new version of Warzone along with some fantastic new models, I hadn't played Warzone in about 10 years and when I tried this version of the game it was like someone took something I had always enjoyed and made it better without trying to change it too much.  Pulp City got updated and got some new models.  That doesn't sound like something from the way back machine but I think the last time I would have considered myself actively involved in Pulp City would have been 7-8 years ago and my first game back reminded me what great fun it was.

Made some new friends along the way.
I was also introduced to some great new games in 2016.  I picked up Frostgrave in the fall of the previous year but 2016 is when it truly became my primary fantasy miniature game.  I've got to say for any fantasy RPG players out there (especially D20 based) who have ever wanted to try a miniature game I HIGHLY recommend Frostgrave, it will feel extremely familiar and if you play your RPGs with miniatures there's a good chance you already own some or all of the miniatures you will need to play.   The big "new friend" for me was This Is Not A Test by Worlds End Publishing.  This Is Not A Test is a post apocalyptic campaign skirmish game heavily inspired by Fallout that in my opinion has all the best elements of a miniature game.  The entry point is low and easy, the rules have enough  depth to make every group distinct and different without being too crunchy, the campaign system is highly engaging and balanced and the in-game rewards are interesting and fun.  I honestly don't think I have a single gamer friend that wouldn't enjoy This Is Not A Test, I unreservedly endorse it and would be stoked to play it with anyone and everyone in 2017!  (Cat-muties are coming for you Tom Carter!)
I also dipped my toe into Knight Models 3 takes on super  hero games (Batman, Marvel and DC).  I'm really enjoying the figures and I'm planning on playing through the Suicide Squad box campaign with my friend Kevin in 2017.

Got (almost) enough figures done.
My local FLGS Lords Of War in Oakville has run a hobby challenge on their Facebook page and for 2016 I made my goal to average painting a model per day.  I started strong, and I finished strong but somewhere in the middle I lagged and came up a bit short.  In the end I got 324 models done out of a goal of 365.  I feel good about that as 300+ models in a year for a gamer who isn't playing a single large scale miniature game seems respectable.  I think my big goal on that front for 2017 will be to get roughly the same output in terms of miniatures but to increase my output of scenery this coming year.  TTCombat here I come!

Looking ahead to 2017.
In addition to a lot more This Is Not A Test, Pulp City and Warzone I have a few other games I'd like to get into the mix for 2017.
Broken Contract.  I painted my first (of two) forces for Broken Contract in 2016 but the models didn't make it to the tabletop.  I really dig the overall look and feel of the models as well as some of the design choices (check my blog entries tagged "Broken Contract") and I'm really enthusiastic about giving the game a try.  
Konflikt 47.  I got all my basic infantry done for Konflikt 47 this past year and laid my hands on the extra bits and pieces I need (rules, order dice, etc) but it has been a struggle to get some super-science robots and/or tanks.  Hopefully in 2017 I can either find some locally.
Wolsung.  Wolsung is Micro Arts Studios steam-punk skirmish game and as I've become a bit bored with Malifaux over the past year it feels like a new way to game that genre with a fresh take on the genre.  Miniatures got painted but at some point I probably need to get some Victorian-era industrial scenery done to play with.

Well there you have it.  It's probably the classic gamer take on things, I did a lot of gaming but still wish I had done more.  If 2017 is anything like 2016 the best part of it will end up being some game I don't even know exists right now that grabs my interest and leads me down the next rabbit hole.

Thanks to everyone who followed my rambling hobby journey this year and I'll hope you keep reading in 2017.

Happy New Year everyone!


Thursday, 29 December 2016

Team Breaker! Reinforcements have arrived!

Two more supremes done for Team Breaker!  A-Beast and Battlesuit 7.

My first batch of characters really appealed to me as classic archetypes from superhero comics but something about A-Beast and Battlesuit 7 put me in the mind of old superhero RPGs like Villains & Vigilantes and Champions.

I've now got 5 of the 8 main supremes done for Team Breaker as well as the 3 minions.  I've still got a few more I'd like to get done but for now I think I need to get back to Warzone and get my Imperial Doomtroopers done.


Team Breaker! Assemble!

I finally circled back to the cold war era Pulp City models I started in the fall.

Spybreaker, Sabotage and Trojan along with the three robo-dogs I had painted represent the start of Team Breaker, one of the two newest teams of Supremes that Pulp Monsters had kickstarted earlier this year.

I've still got 3 more Supremes to finish before I'm ready for my game tomorrow and it looks like about 4 more hours to get them done.

Wish me luck!


Grey Ghosts

Today is the first day of my post-Christmas holidays!  My wife and daughter  have plans for today so my plan is an all day paint-a-thon!

I've got TONS of gaming scheduled over the next 2 days (D&D Ravenloft, Warzone, Pulp City & This Is Not A Test) so my plan is to use all my free time today to paint!

The first of my two projects that were half done before the day started are my Grey Ghosts for Warzone.  I haven't checked out the updated rules yet but in the previous edition Grey Ghosts had 2 special rules that made them really good on the table top.  The first was a drastically increased chance of scoring critical hits and the second (which I thought was way cooler) was that any unit taking even a single wound from Grey Ghost shooting had  to take a morale test.

The figures themselves are pretty basic being intended to be low-key infiltrators so I went with some pretty basic flat colours and washed out the gun metal even more than I normally would.  My next 2 units for Warzone will inject a bit more colour into my Imperial Army.

If all goes according to plan today (does it ever?) this will be my first of 4 projects done today.


Sunday, 18 December 2016

Imperial Barracudas

My hobby ping-pong between Pulp City and Warzone continues.

Back to Warzone today for another unit of flying Imperial soldiers.  The Imperial Barracudas are the new version of the old Rams Air Cavalry.  When miniatures get updated or get re-done people's opinions can vary on whether the new version is an improvement or not, in this case there's not much of an issue.  The old Rams Air Cav were one of the most maligned sculpts in Heartbreaker's range.  The pilot was in a squatting pose with a look on his face that really sold the total image of  someone struggling on the toilet.  If that wasn't enough the rocket/jet pack was positioned like something that would crash Wil E Coyote into the side of a mountain.

As you can see the new version is dynamically posed and the equipment manages to hit a balance between fantastic and functional looking.

I've got one more unit to get done (Grey Ghosts) for my Warzone game at the end of the month and other than that my focus should (emphasis on 'should') be Pulp City for the next week or so.


Saturday, 17 December 2016

Cybernetic dogs for America!

A while back I mentioned that without trying to I had collected and painted a lot of female steampunk mechanics without really trying to, apparently the other thing that I have accumulated a lot of over the years is cyber-dogs.  Cyber-dogs are cool but I never set out to have so many of them.

Having said that I'm getting ready to play Pulp City for the first time pretty much since it came out originally and the big push for that has been to play with the recently Kickstarted Cold War forces.  I'll be playing the American forces which guessed it...more cyber-dogs.

One of the things I have to say I really appreciate about these particular models is that they're basically minor minions with identical stats but the folks at Pulp Monsters went to the effort to actually do three completely different sculpts rather than just one or one with minor tweaks to sell the idea that its three different models.

There's more coming for Pulp City over the next couple of weeks, and the colour scheme will be primarily red, white & blue.


Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The "boys" are back in town! And they'll see you in post-apocalyptic-hell 2016!

It looks like 2016 is going out the way it came in, with some simple farm animals (and a robot) defending their socialist paradise from representatives of an oppressive unwanted government.

Allegory aside when 2016 jumped off the starting line my two big hobby focuses were Frostgrave and This Is Not A Test.  I played a ton of games of Frostgrave and even made my way most of the way through two of the campaign supplements but it was This Is Not A Test that really captured my imagination and led me to some of my most enjoyable and rewarding hobby projects to date.

First up I want to thank Ash Barker for introducing me to this amazing game.  I might not have happened upon it without your introduction.  Thanks buddy, but this doesn't mean I'm not going to  destroy you in 17 days (more on that in a bit!).

Secondly thanks to Joe McGuire for writing one of those rare games that hits the perfect balance between depth and simplicity and inspiring the most positive and open on line hobby community I've been involved with in years.

One of my last games of 2016 and possibly the beginning of the end (or the end of the beginning?) for Swineland is looming on the horizon.  The noble forces of the Colonel's Revenge will finally exterminate the scourge of the USDA from the Niagara Region!   A crazy collection of mutant animals has come together in a land where they are all equal (though some are 'more equal' than others) to see off the last remnants of the hairless apes that have oppressed them for so long.

I wanted to show the force that will raise the people's banner high at the end of the year.  So Mister-Farmer-Smith say your good byes, make peace with whatever two-legged master you serve and prepare for bacon scented justice! it too early to declare that 2017 will be the rise of the Cat-people army?  I'm ready for you Tom Carter!


Sunday, 11 December 2016

Storm Trenchers

Back to Warzone!

I'm getting ready to play some larger games of Warzone at the end of the month and to that end I have 3 new units to paint between now and the 30th of December.  First up I finished my Imperial Storm Trenchers today.

The Storm Trenchers are basically regular Trenchers geared up for close in fighting with shotguns and explosives who have jet packs to help them close the distance between themselves and their opponents quickly.  I think the models are really cool and original and I have to confess that if I'd been designing miniatures with the World War One British Expeditionary Force as their inspiration I don't think jet packs would have crossed my mind.

So that's jet packs....I think full-on flight packs will be next!


Friday, 9 December 2016

Black Flash

I've got a rare weekday off today so I'm trying to work my way through 2 larger projects but I had this guy sitting off to the side and decided to get him done during breaks in between waiting for things to dry, etc.

In DC Comics the embodiment of death for characters who have access to the Speed Force is Black Flash.  The basic idea being that Death needs an avatar who can 'catch up' to speedsters when their time comes.

Having the figure is a bonus when playing the Batman Miniature Game as a speedster can inadvertently trigger the arrival of the Black Flash which effectively gives their opponent and extra model in their force.

Hopefully I'll have a Warzone update later tonight and some Mirkwood at some point this weekend.


Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The return of the black plague!

After being away for the weekend when I got back I wanted to wrap up something fairly quick and easy and I've had these 7 figures mostly done for over a month.

I still haven't played Zombicide Black Plague but my intention is that I bought the box  for the figures which I am basically using for other games.  To maintain continuity with my Frostgrave and D&D models I cut these figures off their flat bases and re-based them on cobblestones.  Now that I've done that I'll probably go back and re-base the first 21 zombies I did from this set to match.

I've got a Hobbit/Lord Of The Rings itch I need to scratch so it might be a few more days before I circle back to the superheroes.


Thursday, 1 December 2016

How many Floyd Lawtons are enough?

Back to my Suicide Squad box set!  Today's addition Floyd "Deadshot" Lawton.

This is actually the third Deadshot model I've painted so far.  To put that in context I still haven't painted a single Batman or Joker for the Batman Miniature Game...but 3 Deadshots.  Other than Amanda Waller herself there is probably no character more identified with the Suicide Squad than Deadshot.  Its probably fair to say that he is to the Suicide Squad what Captain America is to the Avengers, he hasn't been part of every line-up but somehow it doesn't feel like the genuine article unless he's there.

Deadshot has the checkered past typically associated with members of the Suicide Squad but he got a ton of additional character development during his time (pre-52) in the Secret Six.  Lawton is arguably the most pragmatic and realistic member of both the Squad and the Six which makes some of his actions seem shocking in the context of comic book stories.

The Suicide Squad box comes with 2 different heads for the model.  I chose his classic masked head but the other one is Will Smith's likeness from the movie.  I think Will Smith is great but I couldn't help shake the feeling that him being unmasked through most of the movie reminded me of Stallone being without his helmet in Judge Dredd.  It feels like once a studio pays for an a-list Hollywood actor they want the audience to see the actor rather than the character once they're up on the screen.  I also would have had a hard time gaming with the model with the Will Smith head without constantly making 'Fresh Prince Of Belle Reve' jokes.

I'll close out by asking; now that I've painted 3 versions of the same character is it bad that I'm waiting on an Arrow-verse version next?


Up On A Soapbox - Is it the free market, or is it me?

Back up on the soapbox today but less in the vein of a rant and more in the vein of introspection.

When it comes to the gaming hobby I've always been a proponent of the idea of being financially supportive (ie being a paying customer) of businesses that I liked and not only enjoyed their products but aligned with their ways of doing business rather than being negative and outwardly expressive about companies I don't like or don't align with.  Truthfully I've never understood why people invest time and energy into expressing their negative opinions about things they don't "need" to buy or going on a company's forums or Facebook page to broadcast their status as non-customers.  The analogy I've always used is that as someone living in the middle-class I certainly can't afford a new car as often as I'd like but I don't go on car companies' social media sites and complain that their vehicles are too expensive or not for me.  It's always just seemed weird to me.

But in the last couple of months something has changed.  I'm honestly not sure if it's my perception, the industry or just that I'm officially entering 'crusty old man' territory but things don't feel as black and white as they used to.
First up I am NOT going to change gears and start complaining about companies with whom I don't align.  Having said that I now feel I have a third category of companies which makes me understand some of the things I've seen in the past.  Before I was very binary, there were two options:
1.  I like you and therefore I will buy your stuff
2.  I don't like you, therefore I will not buy your stuff
In the past couple of months a third category has wormed its way into the mix:
3.  I don't like you, but I like your stuff enough that I'm willing to overlook that
And this is where the problem comes in for me.  The issue isn't whether or not I should or shouldn't be buying things from manufacturers that I'm not enthusiastic about, the issue is that I have a finite amount of hobby money to spend so anytime I buy from a company I don't care for those are dollars I don't have to support companies I do believe in.

Its a real ethical question for me.  Not because any company rises or falls based on the spending of one hobbyist, but because I feel that the companies that are most likely to get the short end of the stick in these situations are the mom & pops where every sale counts.  I've never been a big fan of living in the grey and  the truth is it actually makes me uncomfortable.  I've been faced with two decisions in the past couple of weeks and to be transparent about it I feel like I made the 'right' choice in one case and the 'wrong' choice in the other.

Tell me what you think?
First situation:
A long-time established company is running yet another Kickstarter to release a product that has already been fully developed and requires NO additional work beyond the actual manufacture of the units they will sell.  This company has been around for 30+ years and this is at least the third time they've done this exact same thing (pre-ordering masquerading as crowd funding) in the last two years.  Every time they do this they almost completely cut their wholesale and retail partners out of the loop in spite of the fact they they wouldn't be where they are today without those partners.  Having said that I REALLY want the stuff they're Kickstarting.  In spite of that my decision was to not order and wait until I can get it through brick-and-mortar retail.
Second situation:
A company that's been operation for 4-5 years and has always made terrific high quality  products that I enjoy I recently purchased a set from and found one of the pieces to be defective.  Defects happen all the time and no one should feel bad about it (lets be fair).  But in spite of that I know based both mine and other people's history with this company that any communication I send them will be completely ignored and my issue will not be resolved.  I can and should be angry about that.  But in spite of that I've just decided to work around it and continue to be positive and enthusiastic about their products.  So am I part of the problem now?

These are two recent examples but things like this happen all the time and we make value decisions about these things all the time.

I've always been a proponent of "put your money where your mouth is" and I'm just not sure I'm as consistent about that as I have been in the past.