Sunday, 30 April 2017

Let the D&D experiment begin!

I've decided to give something a try based on a combination of nostalgia and some conversations I've had with friends about gaming (D&D specifically) over the past few weeks.

One of the features of the new/current editions of D&D is that the rules are open, simple and flexible enough that they seem to allow material from any previous edition of the game to be used with little to no adaption being necessary.  I thought this sounded great, and when I look at it it seems correct but I haven't really tried it.  I'm run a few adventures using the current rules but they've either been things I've written using the current rules or a published adventure.  I even dug out a few older modules thinking they'd by fun but then got distracted by Tales From The Yawning Portal taking two of those adventures and updating them to the current rules anyway.

So, I've decided to take the current rules, make a character and play through some old (not older, truly old) published SOLO D&D adventures and see how that works.  The biggest change I'm anticipating making is updating the monsters to use their current versions so that every successful attack from my character isn't an instant death blow to an old school 1HD monster.

I built my character (Konnor) with some insight and planning into what my first 3 adventures will be.  To that end rather than being statically primed I made his background fit the first adventure and set him up to be able to multi-class as I need for subsequent adventures as old school solo modules were typically written with a specific class or group of classes in mind.

So without any further ado let's meet Konnor!



Also, because it's me even though I'll be playing solo I had to paint an miniature.




The miniature is one of Darksword's modular Knight Watch soldiers and he fit perfectly for what I needed.  For my first adventure I needed an unarmoured warrior with a sword and shield (that's harder to find than I thought).

My first adventure will be "Rogue Mage" which was written by Graeme Davis and published way back in Warlock Magazine (the official Fighting Fantasy magazine).  What seems great and different about Rogue Mage is that it was written to use either the Fighting Fantasy gamebook rules system or D&D Basic edition with a 1st level fighter character.

I'm excited to try this out and will have a follow up on Konnor's first adventure later this week!

-Jay









Sunday, 23 April 2017

House Teknes Leaders & Specialists

The forces of  House Teknes made their debut today with the Union Workers being 'supported' by some of their finest leaders and support troops!

First up as I had decided on an all Union Worker force (as opposed to mixing in some Linemen from the starter) I went with 2 Union Bosses as my leaders.  I've got to say that even though it was my first couple of games the synergy between the Union Workers and Union Bosses was really easy to use and intuitive.  The ability of the bosses to 'motivate' the workers at the price of some physical pain meant that they could make the workers (those are the Pig-Men from my last post) devastating if either I could get lucky or waited until I had initiative.  In addition to being highly effective in the game I also think they are outstanding models.


Next was the Galvanic Defender.  To be honest he was a poor choice for me given the objective I was going after (strike opponent support or leader models in close combat) but he is a fast moving specialist with a rare ranged attack.  I can see a lot of ways he could be useful and unlike the Union Boss who increases synergy the Galvanic Defender fills in some skills and abilities that the rest of the Teknes force lacks.


Lastly is The Zaalak.  The Zaalak is a psychically controlled octopus that is disturbing and unnatural and has a demoralising effect on enemy leaders.  It is also incredibly fragile as I was a bit late in realising unfortunately.


I really enjoyed my first 2 games of Wrath Of Kings.  I found it to be an easy to understand intuitive game that played quickly and easily but still offered a lot of tactical challenges and options.  I like the Teknes models and am definitely going to paint a pile more of them over the next month or so.  First up on my to-do list will be replacing the Zaalak and the Galvanic Defender with a couple of specialists who look like they fit better with the rest of what I have (I'm looking at you Butchers!) and then after that I think I'm going to do a patrol-sized force built up around Linemen as opposed to Union Workers.

Tons of fun and I can't wait to play more!

-Jay

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Look at us! We "joined" The Union!

I'm finally going to play my first game of Wrath Of Kings tomorrow at the 'Patrol' level.  That means; 12 levels of Infantry, 2 levels of Specialists & 2 levels of Leaders.  Levels are basically Wrath Of Kings points system, so given that I'll be using all level 1 miniatures it means I need 16 models.

After a number of false starts I finally completed my Union Workers this morning.  Union Workers are citizens of House Teknes who have either volunteered or been voluntold to have themselves injected with demon blood, which transforms them into man/pig hybrids.


I really like these pig-men models and if they look vaguely familiar it's because I previously used 2 of them to convert up some mutants for This Is Not A Test.

I also completed the 4 solo models that will be completing the force but I didn't get pictures yet so that will have to come tomorrow.  The good news is that by then the figures can be accompanied by either a glorious tale of victory or a shameful story of defeat...we'll see....

-Jay

Sunday, 16 April 2017

More Game Of Thrones characters

Coming out of GAMA it was announced that a Song Of Ice And Fire miniatures game was on the way (which I am super excited for!).  I've been using some of Darksword Miniatures' figures for my RPGs and Frostgrave so it was the trigger for me to get a couple more out and get them done up.

One of the things I really like about Game Of Thrones is that the characters feel a lot more 'lived in' than traditional fantasy.  Heroes are often highly flawed and villains are not without their redeeming qualities.  This is typified by one of my favourite characters on the show; Jaime Lannister.


When we are introduced to Jaime Lannister three fact get established very early on:
1.  He stabbed the last king in the back (literally) thus earning him the nickname "Kingslayer".
2.  He is in an unbelievably inappropriate relationship with his own sister.
3.  He ends the first episode by attempting to murder a child.
So that in addition to being an arrogant bully mark him out as probably one of the villains of the show.  As the story progresses Jaime falls more into an anti-hero role and in later seasons definitely comes across as a man with his own code of honour who can be trusted to act within the bounds of that code.

On another part of the Game Of Thrones moral spectrum is Bronn.


Bronn is a sellsword who comes into Tyrion Lannister's service early in the show and although he is clearly an amoral murderer who will do just about anything for money he seems at times to have a certain amount of loyalty.  To be honest my main driver for painting Bronn had little to do with the show or fandom and was more driven by the fact that I needed a new low-level classic human fighter for D&D and this figure fit the bill perfectly.

I've really enjoyed an appreciated the Darksword Miniatures I've painted so far and I can't wiat to get my hands on an actual miniatures game meant to use them.

-Jay

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Review - Green Stuff World roller (cobblestone)

One of the things that has evolved a lot over the 30+ years I've been painting miniatures is the level of complexity and detail people put into their miniature's bases.  Back in the day role-players typically just painted the chunk of metal a miniature was standing on as some kind of rock whereas miniature gamers would usually apply some sort of 'turf' usually painted sand or coloured flock.  These days there are loads of miniature companies out there producing textured bases, I myself have been cutting plasti-card and using that to dress up my bases for RPGs.

A week or so ago I picked up a green-stuff roller by Green Stuff World from my FLGS, I haven't had cause to use it as I've been trying to match existing bases but this morning my daughter decided she wanted to take another crack at painting and she wanted a fancy base.  So I hauled out the roller and finally gave it a try.

First up I have to say that it was incredibly easy to use.  I just filled the recess in a 30mm base with green stuff, moistened the top and then rolled over it.  The entire thing took less than 5 minutes to execute and clean up afterwards.


I'm pretty happy with the result (I could have filled that one edge more) but as you can see the texture came out fairly crisply.


Now that I've used this once I think it's time for a return trip to get some more rollers!  I just wish I'd figured this out before I started basing my Teknes models.

-Jay

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Rise of the pig-men WIP

So after circling back to get some D&D stuff done I needed for this week I'm now back to plan A; my Teknes force for Wrath Of Kings.

In a perfect world I will have the starter box done by Wednesday next week.  Having said that I'm off to a slower start than I anticipated.  I decided to kick-off by doing the Union Workers as they were the figures I was most excited about but so far my progress has been slow.



I got the flesh based, washed and highlighted and got my base coats on my bases and armour but not much else to report beyond that.  The goal will be to finish these first 12 models tomorrow and then get my Linemen built.  When those two units are done I'll only have 6 figures left from the starter to get done by mid next week.

The real challenge for me will be to not get over distracted before I finish......say, this Rumbleslam game looks cool.....

-Jay

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Mystical abominations (or maybe just goblins?)

Got a few more figures done for an upcoming D&D game and a funny thought occurred to me as I was painting them.  I really love Games Workshop's Lord Of The Rings games and I got The Hobbit Escape From Goblintown when it first came out.  Having said that, I've now painted 33 of the Goblintown miniatures for various games but haven't used a single one to play Lord Of The Rings...weird.

Anyway for my next game I wanted some broken or debased men rather than classic low level monsters.  To that end I decided to re-purpose the goblins from The Hobbit.  This is actually the second time I've done this as I previously painted a dozen of these goblins to use as 'Null-men' for Frostgrave.


It's funny that I've never wanted to sit down and paint all 36 of these goblins at one go because everytime I paint some of them I wish I had painted more.  The sprue comes with 18 separate poses and styles of goblins armed with an assortment of weapons.  These are absolutely tremendous figures and I highly recommend them to anyone looking for any kind of CHUDs for their fantasy gaming.

I also need 2 "big bads" for my game and for the muscle component I wanted something larger than a character model but not quite into ogre/troll size range.  Once more my Zombicide Black Plague box stepped up and offered up the Abomination.


This figure is exactly what I was looking for as its big and scary without looking like something that would be way beyond the capacity of my low (1st) level adventuring party.  It's kind of a zombie/flesh-golem hybrid that I can stat out myself.

That should have me all caught up on figs I need for RPGs for the next couple of weeks, now its on to pig-men!

-Jay

Monday, 3 April 2017

Catching up a bit on models for D&D

Hi all,

The last 2 weeks have seen far less painting than usual but I have gotten a few odds and ends done I just hadn't gotten around to posting yet.  I'm going to catch up on those today and then it will be back to "projects" tomorrow.

First up I painted a model to use as my character in an upcoming Dungeon Crawl Classics game.  I'm playing a level 5 thief named Jaqar, I did have a model I had been using previously but he was just one of my Forstgrave figures being repurposed.


This time out I painted a named Pathfinder character as he had the perfect combination of armour and equipment, and I really like the fact that he has a backpack and other load-bearing gear to sell the idea that he's an adventurer.

Next is an NPC Dwarf Cleric I'll need for an upcoming game of D&D I'm running.


I wanted something a little different and this Games Workshop Dwarf Miner Champion seemed to fit the bill.

One of the things I have really enjoyed about DMing Curse Of Strahd is that the adventure us filled with interesting and characterful "random" encounters.  Before I start gaming again I want to cook up about a dozen detailed interesting encounters I can throw into the mix whenever I want.  Rather than sitting down and trying to write these up I thought I'd just do them one by one as ideas hit me.

My first idea was for an evil ginger hobbit (I used Lobellia Sackville-Baggins) that is a corruptive ruinous force on the countryside.  I also wanted to tack on some muscle so I threw her in with 'Frankenteddy' to give he some muscle from an encounter point of view.



I've got seven more models to paint for D&D and then if all goes according to plan I'll paint my Teknes starter set this week.

-Jay

Monday, 20 March 2017

Cocky Hedge Knight

The most exciting news (for me anyway) to come out of GAMA this past week was the announcement that there will be a Song Of Ice And Fire miniatures game released next year with miniatures by Darksword Miniatures who already produce an excellent looking George R.R. Martin line of figures.

I have used a few Darksword models in the past for Forstgrave and had just finished another for a character for a D&D game.  I needed a traditional 1st level fighter miniature which in this particular case meant; chainmail, sword & shield.  My two choices on hand were Bronn or the Cocky Hedge Knight, I went with the Hedge Knight as he was slightly more heavily armoured.


The figure was perfect for what I needed (his shield is on his back) and he very much has the feel of being based off old Jeff Easley artwork.  In addition one of the things I like about the figure with Game Of Thrones in mind is that the face and head look like a younger version of Ser Allister Thorne from the TV show.

I've got 2 more player character models to get done for this game and then hopefully we're off to the races.


-Jay

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Review - Curse Of Strahd (no spoilers)

Once again I'd like to share my opinion on a new version of a gaming product that got it's initial launch 20+ years ago and look backwards before looking forwards.

In the now ancient times of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (that's what the first edition was called) most adventures featured a setting (dungeon, castle, town, etc) stocked with fairly static monsters and traps that although they could be challenging felt very artificial.  What I mean by "artificial" is that monsters would basically sit around in their fixed locations waiting for player characters to come along and interact with them and doing nothing that made any sense outside of some basic responses to PC actions.  I actually remember DMing one published adventure where my group fought and killed some orcs guarding a chest and when they opened the chest they found magic armour and a magic sword inside it, prompting one of my players to actually wonder aloud "if the orcs had magic weapons and armour, why didn't they use them to fight us?".  I literally had no answer for that question.  In the midst of all these fun but somewhat dry adventures was released AD&D adventure module I6 Ravenloft.


Now I'd like to say that I carefully researched my purchase of this module back in the day back that would be a total lie.  I bought it because it had hands down the best cover art of any AD&D module up to that point (still hold up really well) and I really liked the idea of a little horror in my fantasy game (something I still haven't outgrown).  I couldn't believe how lucky I was to  buy an adventure for some fairly superficial reasons and then crack it open and find I had TSR's first quantum leap in adventure design in my hands.  Ravenloft did two things that were so completely different as to change my perception of what an RPG module could be:
1.  There was a fortune telling mechanic that meant key items and events would happen in different places everytime you played the adventure (so it could be replayed multiple times by the same players).
2.  The villain had complex motivations and tactics that meant he would move around, retreat, harass the PCs and basically behave like the DMs personal character rather than a pile of stats and rules to be murdered at a fixed point in the game.
These things elevated Ravenloft from being just another adventure to feeling like the most epic and grand adventure to date, in spite of the fact that it was only 32 pages in total including all the additional fortune telling mechanics and magic items.

I6 kicked off a franchise within a franchise getting it's own full campaign setting for AD&D 2nd Edition, being licensed out to White Wolf to produce a full line of books under the OGL for d20 D&D, being adapted and updated in the Expedition series towards the end of the 3.5 run, being produced as one of the D&D board games during the period 4th Edition was the core rules set and now finally Curse Of Strahd for D&D Next/5th Edition.  I have had great affection for every Ravenloft product with the exception of Expedition To Castle Ravenloft and I was really excited when Curse Of Strahd was announced.

What's interesting about my perspective on Curse Of Strahd is that I went into it with fan-boy excitement levels but had not yet forgotten my last Ravenloft purchase had been my most personally disappointing.  I didn't know what to expect and beyond my Player's Handbook this was actually my first D&D Next/5th Edition purchase.


I am overwhelming satisfied with Curse Of Strahd and can't imagine any DM would feel differently!  This iteration of the classic adventure keeps all the things that made the original I6 so popular (random changing placement of key items, actions for Strahd based on his motivations and the player's actions, compelling NPCs, etc) but really expands the experience that makes this version even more useful and re-playable than the original.  In addition to Castle Ravenloft and the village of Barovia that have always been present Curse of Strahd now populates and describes the entire province that they exist within.  There are 14 fully detailed and mapped encounter areas outside of the village and castle each of which could be played as a single stand alone game session even without playing through the main adventure.  The production value of the book is amazing with fantastically detailed maps (which are also available for purchase online for use on virtual table tops) of the new areas and the original 3D maps of the castle being retained and use for Strahd's lair.  You could easily run an entire campaign using just this one book (with some slight modifications and padding) and the world itself feels very lived in.  I'm currently running my first group through the adventure, they are 2-3 sessions away from completion and I'm already thinking about when I'll be running it again.

Having talked about how much I like this module I do want to call out a few things that could use improvement.  The module is rated levels 1-10 and although it does scale across that range it would be very easy for a group to wander into somethings that would be way over their current level early on.  There is also a lead in adventure called Death House which is in the main book and also available as a free download on Wizards Of The Coast's website that is intended for levels 1-3 but I found the final encounter was beyond the abilities of low level characters unless they had the correct mix of abilities and I had to modify it to not TPK the group.  In hindsight my mistake was not allowing the party to level up mid-way through the Death House to give them a better shot at the final encounter.

Other than that the only things I would call out is that you really do need a balanced party to succeed in this adventure (not necessarily a criticism).  There are times where if your group is primarily social they will fail, and other times where if they are primarily combat focused they will fail.  The irony in this for my current group being that two encounters that were supposed to be nuisances turned almost lethal as the result of a few bad die rolls.

To summarize I highly recommend Curse Of Strahd and if you can find them the deck of Tarokka Cards and the DM screen for the adventure produced by Gale Force 9 are well worth adding in as well.

-Jay









Thursday, 16 March 2017

LOOK AT THE MUSCULARITY!

Since the release of Age Of Sigmar Games Workshop has been steadily adding to the Sigmarite and Khorne ranges introduced in the game.  At first when they came out I was pretty excited about the Sigmarites but as time wore on I realized I didn't actually have a need for the figures and I wasn't playing Age Of Sigmar enough at the time to start a whole new army.  The Khorne figures lingered on the periphery of my consciousness as I generally preferred the figures and could easily see introducing the more savage lightly armoured figures into a fantasy RPG.

One of the things I'm really appreciating about Games Workshop's releases for their main games lately is that they are functional over more than one game.  So today's addition the Khorne Slaughterpriest is in fact used as an option in three different current game systems; Age Of Sigmar, Gorechosen & Warhammer Quest.

The Slaughterpriest is an amazingly well textured and detailed figure.  In addition to his cross-system functionality he would make a pretty great villain for a fantasy RPG.


I managed to get in my first two games of Gorechosen with him (he did not do well), and really enjoyed his theme and look.  It feels like I'm more likely to play Tzeentch than Khorne when I circle back to Age Of Sigmar but I may start using him to explore the Silver Tower soon.

I finally caught a break on the weather so Pig-Men (and 3 D&D models) should be seeing some primer later tonight!

-Jay

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Experiencing technical difficulties....

This has been a very frustrating week from a hobby point of view.

Last Friday I got some more amazing Wrath Of Kings Teknes models and also got back from a road trip and got ready to work on some buildings I'm doing for another project and ever since I got everything prepped the weather has made it impossible for me to prime or spray ANYTHING.  And so here 6 days later my pig-men sit still waiting to see some paint...


I'm going to work on some floor plans tonight for some new buildings I'm doing (interiors and exteriors) and will hopefully also finish 1 model I need for a game tomorrow afternoon but other than that I'm in a bit of a dry spell until the weather co-operates.

So I can finally say I've found a downside to working quickly though my models.  It means when I can't prime I don't have a pile of primed or half-painted stuff just hanging out on my desk.

-Jay

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Grot Scutlings

Last night I finished up my Grot Scutlings for Silver Tower.  The idea behind these guys is that they were once normal grots (goblins basically) who ventured uninvited to the Silver Tower and then were transformed into goblin-spider hybrid creatures by the warping powers of Tzeentch.



I really like the idea behind these figures and they are decently executed but to be honest they feel a little out of place (like the skaven that comes in the game) and I think the space on the sprue could have been better used for more twisted Tzeentch creatures.

That leaves me with three more small batches of figures to paint for Silver Tower (Tzaangors, Acolytes & Familiars) and then there will be heroes and individual character-style monsters to paint.

-Jay

Thursday, 2 March 2017

The horrors....the horrors.....

For the first time in over a week I got to sit down today at my desk and make a concerted effort to get some painting done.  Today I consciously decided to go a bit off task for reasons that in hindsight I feel either shows my evolution as a hobbyist or my lack-thereof (it's a question of perspective).

The running joke with most miniature gamers is that they buy WAY more than they paint.  A few years ago I made a conscious decision that I was going to get away from that stereotype and not only work through my backlog but also stop buying miniatures at a faster rate than I know I can get them done.  For the most part I think I've been pretty successful at this with a few small exceptions.  However this past weekend something happened that challenged both my willpower to stick with that plan and my general interpretation of how I stick to it.

When it was released last year I got a copy of Warhammer Quest Silver Tower from my FLGS Lords Of War here in Oakville.  The game looks brilliant and the models are great but I haven't actually played it, or even planned to play it yet so I wasn't really in any great rush to start painting models for it.  Fast forward to last weekend and Warhammer Quest Shadows Over Hammerhal was released.  I want to buy it (I REALLY want to buy it) but it's hard to justify given that I had another huge Warhammer Quest box set just sitting in my office collecting dust.  So a smart person might have thought 'I don't need that new game, I've got something perfectly adequate right here' but that seemed like quitter talk to me.  So instead my inner-monologue convinced me that if I can power through most or all of the Silver Tower set in a week or two then I can justify the new game box.

Fast-forward to today and I got my first 10 models from Silver Tower done and my next 16 models 50-75% done.  At the rate I'm going I should be able to  have most of the antagonist side done by Monday.

Today's project was Horrors.  The concept behind the horrors is neat as the idea is that you start off with a Pink Horrors and if you "kill" it it actually splits into 2 Blue Horrors...and then if you "kill" those they split into 2 Brimstone Horrors.  So basically its one of those nightmare scenarios where the more you kill, the more you have to fight.




I really enjoyed painting these models.  They're right in my wheelhouse in that they are heavily textured without being overly busy on the detail side so a single wash and highlight can do 90% of the work for you.  Given how much I enjoyed painting these and how cool the Tzangors and Kharic Acolytes look I may have to consider doing a Tzeentch army at some point in the not too distant future.

I'm really looking forward to trying the game out, hopefully in April as March is a stupidly busy month for me already.

-Jay

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

These are the zombies I passed on the road to Woodbury

I got a little swept up in painting Walking Dead models this weekend, I meant to move on to my Wrath Of Kings stuff but while I was waiting for some Teknes models to dry from being cleaned I decided to just start my next batch of 5 zombies.  Somehow "just start" turned into my painting all 5 zombies from the Prelude To Woodbury set in one sitting.


Having added these walkers puts me in a pretty good position for playing Walking Dead.  From what I've seen most (maybe all?) games are played on a 20" by 20" surface so I can't conceive of needing too many more walkers.  Going forward I don't think there will be any more big batches of walkers as for the most part I should be painting single walkers that come in the extra character boosters.

Alright...scenery and/or pig-men next!

-Jay

Monday, 20 February 2017

Walking Dead Survivors - The Governor, Sandra & Patrick

(apologies up front for the dodgy lighting)

After getting my first 12 zombies done for Walking Dead All Out War I finally started on my survivors last night.  Like most conventional miniature games survivors are grouped in factions that determine who sides with who, I actually ignored this and prioritised the 3 figures that are used in the solo play scenarios first.  So this batch of survivors doesn't include anyone from Rick Grimes' Ricktatorship.

First up; The Governor.  The Governor is also the first Walking Dead figure I've painted that does not come in the core game set.  There is an expansion called Prelude To Woodbury that includes The Governor and 5 more walker figures.  I wanted to get him done first because the Prelude To Woodbury set is designed for solo play and that means I can give the game a try some day after work this week.


The Governor is one of the figures that really anchors this game as being based on the comics rather than the TV show.  The figure is a picture perfect representation of The Governor from the comics but literally looks nothing like his TV counter-part.  I really like this model as he once again has some nice textures and has an extremely well sculpted and cast pistol.

Next up; Sandra & Patrick.  To be honest I don't really remember some of the stories from the early comics so the characters that come in the main box who aren't Rick & Carl I don't really remember at all.  Having  said that these are again some great 'generic' survivor miniatures and are the two figures used in the early 'how to play' scenarios.


Walking Dead All Out War uses a points system for choosing forces and like a lot of resources based force selection systems there will always be a place for lightly equipped B-list characters to round out forces after players have chosen their big flashy models.  I also suspect that for some of my other post-apocalypse campaign games figures like this will be ideal for when I go on a losing streak and need some cheap replacements for lost warband members.

It looks like after 3 days of painting I'm ready to play some games!

-Jay

Sunday, 19 February 2017

"Walking" my way from skirmish to all out war....

Last night/this morning I finished up my remaining 6 zombies from the Walking Dead All Out War box game.



Overall I'm really enjoying these figures.  I know I've referenced this before but when I'm painting batches of models I really like it when they have nice texture detail without being overly busy and these models seem to be a great blend of that.

My next step is going to be splitting my painting between two different sets.  I want to paint the 2 survivors required for the 'learn to play' scenario in the core game set, but I am also going to paint The Governor who comes in his own solo play adventure/add-on.  Once those are done I'm going to get one of the scenery packs painted up and then I should be ready to give the game a try.

Its really rewarding to feel like I'm getting something done from start to finish in a relatively short period of time.

After this its time to hit Wrath Of Kings and start doing more pig-men for a different game.

-Jay

Saturday, 18 February 2017

First six walkers for Walking Dead All Out War

A few weeks ago I got a copy of Walking Dead All Out War by Mantic Entertainment.  Before I get to my first batch of models I want to talk about the product itself a bit.

I've bought some Mantic stuff in the past and I've seen a bunch of their stuff that I hadn't personally purchased by way of my friends.  Based on my experience I had actually decided to pass on Walking Dead because I had not been satisfied with the models I had previously purchased.  When I saw Walking Dead in the shop the core game had a window in the front of the box showing  6 of the figures, which was a great choice because the models were fantastic and MUCH better than I expected.  At every turn as I went through the box (and 3 more subsequent boxes) I've gotten more and more impressed.  The game has solo play rules, which I thought was great.  In addition I didn't realise until I opened my fourth box that every zombie figure is unique, there are no duplicates in any box I've opened or from one box to the next.  So so far I have 19 unique zombie figures to add my collection!  Last (and probably least) someone at  Mantic decided that the figures integral bases should be the same diameter and thickness as a traditional 25mm slotta-base, its a bonus because it means they will blend in with my existing zombie and survivor models.

So far tonight I've managed to paint 6 zombies.



If I'm successful in not falling asleep in the next few minutes then I will hopefully finish another half dozen zombies tonight and then I can hopefully get my first three survivors done tomorrow.

-Jay

Friday, 17 February 2017

Some toughs and another hero for Marten's Marauders

After taking my sweet time I finally put a rush on getting some outlaws done for Legends Of The Old West late last night for a game that I had this morning.

First up I painted up one of Black Scorpion's cowboy packs to represent the "toughs" in my Outlaw gang.  These are really good serviceable old west figures that look and feel great and are extremely well cast.


From left to right the Marauders are; Six-Gun Sid, Randy Randy, "The Gent" and "Dollar" Bill Dollarhyde.     

I also finished up my final character Artemis "Clyde" Frog.  This is an older metal Malifaux Guild sergeant that I had laying around. He felt like he fit the setting but also had some character of his own.  I'm typing this up after having played 3 games with him and I have to say over 3 games all my other characters had some highs and lows but Artemis accomplished NOTHING and managed to get seriously injured in 2 out of the 3 games he participated in.


I'll be circling back to the Old West in a week or so but I'm going to try to focus on finishing some Walking Dead models and a piece of scenery over the long weekend here.

-Jay

 

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Polly Prissypants

The cowboy (cowgirl?) collection continues to grow.  I desperately wanted a female to add to my posse because...reasons (certainly not because I can't get the South Park Wild Wild West episode out of my head) and without having planned ahead properly that turned out to be a super difficult thing to get my hands on unless I wanted to change scales significantly and switch over to Malifaux figures.  Luckily my buddy Andrew stepped up and donated a Deadlands Rail Wars miniature to the cause.  Normally a Deadlands Rail Wars figure would have been way too tall and slightly too bulky but luckily for me because this figure is posed crouched down a bit and with her arms in close to her body it conceals those disparities in scale with my Black Scorpion miniatures.


Polly will end up being another character model so tonight/tomorrow I need to get all my basic cowpokes done.

Any suggestions on a Cartman-as-Jim-West figure?

-Jay

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Up on a soapbox - just because you want my money doesn't mean you want my business

There's a growing trend in the world these days, not just with gaming but with most commercial goods and services; manufacturers and service providers make statements to the effect of "they want your business".  But what does that really mean?

It's something I've been thinking about a lot lately for a really wide variety or reasons but it came into sudden focus for me today.  About a month and half ago I posted another 'soapbox' that was basically me thinking out loud about whether or not I was putting my money where my mouth was from a hobby point of view and walking away without a really clear answer.  By the way; spoiler alert, if you read that last 'soapbox' by the time you're done reading this one you're free to point out that something I said 6 weeks ago is now clearly a lie, I didn't mean for it to be, but it is now.

So from my perspective what's the difference between someone wanting my hobby "business" versus my hobby "money".  I'll use the simplest example I can, and one I can hope most people reading this can at least relate to even if they don't agree with it.  Great brick-and-mortar hobby stores (the ones referred to as FLGS rather than just LGS) want my "business".  They engage with me about what I'm doing with the hobby, they suggest things I might want to try out, they offer me a place to meet with new players and play games.  All of these things help them get my "money" but I get more out of that relationship than just the product that I buy.  The counter point to the Friendly Local Game Store, is the game store run by the curmudgeonly owner/staff who just want you to buy your stuff and get out.  I was recently in Oshawa for work and I saw a model store on my way home and decided to check it out, the place had a crappy handwritten sign on the door saying "no students allowed inside" (it was next to a High School).  The person who owned that place wants to sell stuff, but he doesn't want to have to talk to people.  Or the other less awful example is the traditional discount e-tailer.  Its not that they necessarily give bad service but its a simple good for money exchange with little other interaction.

Now lets talk about game companies.  I've danced around saying some nasty things about a few different game companies over the past few years  I want to give some examples of GREAT customer service where the company wanted my "business" and not just my money, and some examples of terrible service (no names here though) where the company just wanted my money:
Pulp Monsters; years ago I bought bunch of their models and during a move just lost a piece that I needed.  I had it, the set was not defective, I just lost it.  I was completely honest with them that it was all my fault and no error of theirs but could they please sell me a single replacement part.  No, they would not, even though they had not done anything wrong or mispacked a box they sent me a free replacement immediately.  I recently placed another order with them and the package included a handwritten note thanking me for my order.
Dead Earth Games; placed an order with them and within a few days noticed I hadn't received a shipping confirmation.  Sent them an e-mail to enquire if my order had been sent, got an immediate apology that it had been missed and they sent it out immediately (only 3-4 days after placing the order tops) and tossed in some free counters to go with the order.  Haven't gotten around to another order with them yet but feel like that's something I should be doing soon.
A small miniature company in southern Ontario; got my order the day before they started a promo, didn't/wouldn't upgrade me to the promo price or throw in some models to make up the difference, but also sat on the order not shipping it for 2+ weeks.  I paid them, but will NEVER buy anything from them again.
A boutique miniature company in the U.K.; took my order, didn't ship for over a month, when the order arrived it had a note on the invoice that my order had been delayed by a one day closure (how that results in a month long delay is beyond me).  I have bought quite a lot from this company over the years but that has now become my last order with them.
Why tell you all this?  Maybe it's just a rant, but I'd rather think of it as a statement of intent.  I have never asked any company or store for any kind of special treatment or discounts beyond their own promotions and sales, and I have no problem paying a fair price at full mark-up for things that I buy.  But when any vendor treats me as a walking ATM my fuse has gotten really short in the past few years...really short.

And now, I'm going to turn part of my last soapbox into a lie.
Why now?  Why today?  What pushed me to spew all of this out onto the internet today so suddenly.
One company; Knight Models.
I'm going to preface this by saying I don't think Knight Models is evil or villainous, and I don't think anyone reading this should necessarily think what I think about them, but I'm done with them.  They will not see one more dollar from me ever again.
This morning I woke up and found after weeks of rumours in the hobby community and unfortunate event had come to pass; Knight Models had discontinued their relationship with Marvel and would no longer be producing/selling Marvel models.  This was unfortunate but its all just part of how business works and no one should take anything personally from this.
...but...
There was no notice, no warning.  Tons of Marvel products had JUST shipped to retailers for what is now effectively a dead game.  Tons of hobbyists had no opportunity to complete collections, or make informed choices not to buy something that would no longer be supported.  The announcement dropped at literally the same moment that all assets were pulled from their website.
Now a very level-headed friend of mine pointed out that it might not have been their decision, it might have been the way the contract broke down or something they just had to do and that may very well be true, they might have done nothing wrong and had no sinister intent.  So why should I be upset?  Why should I feel they wanted my "money" and not my "business"?  Am I just being immature or overly emotional about something I want?  Maybe.  But maybe not.
In my experience when people get frustrated and angry about game companies discontinuing product its either because they want to buy more, or wish they had bought less, but that's not really my issue.  My issue is that Knight Models has a history of not engaging with their community, of not responding to messages on their Facebook page and not following up on their community outreach programs.  So when a change like this is communicated badly the issue isn't really this change, the issue is that unlike a company that does engage with its community I simply can't give them the benefit of a doubt.

I will not be marching down the street trying to rally people behind me, and my voice is so small in the ocean that is the internet I don't expect this to become some sort of butt-hurt fan-boy rallying cry (nor would I want it to), but think of it as a cautionary tale.  Not everyone feels the way I do, but I'm not the only one who feels the way I do.  If a hobby company can't hear its customers, then eventually they won't be that company's customers.

Well.  This is probably the single most negative thing I have ever written in my life.  But I hope instead of focusing on what is I hope some other company can read this and maybe see what could have been.  It's been a rant but I hope its a call out for a better next time.

-Jay











Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The leader of Marten's Marauders

I'm just over a week away from my first game of Legends Of The Old West in over a decade.  Today my second of three heroes, I'll be calling him Marten (for now) but he is in fact the Pat Garrett miniature from Black Scorpion.  So somehow I've started my cowboy collection with Billy The Kid and the man who killed Billy The Kid.


Two things really appealed to me about this miniature.  First up his cigar while not a utilitarian option for a wargamming piece makes him feel like a man of wealth and taste, secondly his layered clothing let me play with the colour palette a bit and paint his pants and jacket (under his full coat) like a traditional 'Canadian Tuxedo', overall that makes him feel like he could fit in the old west or possibly a western themed post-apocalyptic game.

I'm still looking for a miniature to be my third hero but in the meantime I will probably just get started on my grunts.

We'll see what's next if I don't get distracted.....hey! these Walking Dead figures look cool.....

-Jay

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Looks like the Angel gang is riding into town...

I recently played a game of This Is Not A Test with a more "traditional" mutant warband where the members were humans affected by radiation rather than human/animal hybrids.

The Inheritors did pretty poorly in the first 3-4 turns of the game but towards the end the momentum (and the two-handed sledge hammer) swung their way and they were able to make a respectable showing of themselves.

As is tradition in the post-game sequence my warband got a little beaten up but also acquired enough barter scrip to add on to their gang.  This set me to looking for another figure that would fit in with the clearly mutated but still mostly homosapien warband.  This led me to my collection of Judge Dredd figs.

I've had Fink Angel sitting half done since Christmas so I decided to finish him up first and then see where he slots into the warband.


I wish I had thought ahead a bit more because truthfully I have other mutants that are a better fit and more functional (you mat see one or two before the end of the week).  Having said that I painted Mean Machine Angel awhile back and if I can ever lay my hands on figures for Pa and Junior they might turn into a playable warband for a Judge Dredd game.

I don't know which Cursed Earth Fink will wander but he'll wander one of them.


-Jay

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Review - Metamorphosis Alpha Collector's Edition

I've been thinking lately about how I can update my blog more often on days I don't get any significant painting done.  I thought about doing more "Up On A Soapbox" but if it doesn't come to me in the moment I think it would feel forced.  So instead I decided to start doing some product reviews.  The idea hit me for 2 reasons:
1.  I've bought and used a lot of stuff in the last few years that might not have a foot print in your local game store so you might not be aware of it.
2.  Having been in and around the gaming industry for 30+ years I feel like I have a decent grasp on a lot of products journeys and histories (but I don't think I've quite descended into the curmudgeonly old vs new debate yet).

Pre-amble aside lets get to my first review!



                              METAMORPHOSIS ALPHA COLLECTOR'S EDITION

First up a quick history lesson for those of you not familiar with the Metamorphosis Alpha RPG.  Metamorphosis Alpha is in fact the FIRST sci-fi RPG every published, it sprang out of James Ward's early meetings and involvement with Gary Gygax's D&D groups back in 1976.  Ward thought D&D in space would be a great idea and pitched it to Gygax who told him he should go ahead and write it himself.  Although it is a separate and mechanically unique game on its own MA is basically conceived as a giant dungeon flying through space.  Ward's original intent had been that the giant colony ship would be an environment in which to explore but that the ultimate goal of a campaign would be to gain control of the ship and direct it to a final destination (which apparently in play testing no one ever actually attempted).
I'm a Johnny-come-lately to Metamorphosis Alpha as I have far more experience with its direct spiritual successor Gamma World.

I bought Metamorphosis Alpha more as a history piece than with any intention to game it but that idea has shifted.  In the past few years there have been a number of "deluxe" or "collectors" editions of games and books that I have purchased due to a combination of general nostalgia and because they have included looks back on development and design that I find really interesting, this is one of those products.  In addition to the game itself the Collector's Edition also contains interviews with Mr Ward as well as his reflections on his multiple stints with TSR during some of their most interesting periods.  It also contains all of the old Dragon and Space Gamer articles published in support of the game.

From a mechanical point of view Metamorphosis Alpha shows its age in a very positive way.  During the era it was developed RPGs tended to focus more on character creation and mechanics and less on conflict resolution.  Conflict resolution was more up to the players based on how they wanted to apply skills, abilities,, equipment and actual role-playing to the challenges confronting them.  This isn't to say it's a 'rules-lite' game but its problem solving is far less linear than games of our current area where each challenge feels like it has a direct counter to solve it.  Overall it feels like a great game to introduce new role-players or non-gamers to gaming fun as it doesn't rely on a lot of meta-game knowledge and understanding.

As I touched on earlier I bought Metamorphosis Alpha Collector's Edition more with the intention of owning it as a book to read and then go live on my shelf, but now that I've read that book I'm busily planning my first adventure.

From a qualitative point of view I would definitely give it a thumbs up and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get their sci-fi RPG on outside of a firmly established developed game world.  It's also a great look into the history of TSR  and a fond trip down memory lane for gamers of my age.  Also if being a gaming hipster is becoming a thing (I'm pretty sure it is) this product will allow you to avoid being as "mainstream" as Gamma World.

-Jay





Wednesday, 1 February 2017

YEE-HAW!

I'm gearing up to jump back into a game from the way back machine that I always enjoyed but never felt I got enough opportunities to play; Warhammer Legends Of The Old West!

About 15 years ago Black Library/Games Workshop created a separate division called Warhammer Historicals dedicated to producing historical rather than fantasy or sci-fi games.  They never found a big audience for the games but they were well thought out games built around existing GW rules sets that already had loyal followings.

Legends Of The Old West was always my favourite for two reasons:
1.  I'm much more enthusiastic about gaming that time period than 'ancients' (which is cool, its just wasn't my thing)
2.  It's built up off my favourite GW rules; Lord Of The Rings (the pre-Hobbit version of the current Hobbit rules).

I hadn't thought about the game in years and then I saw a friend had the rulebook, somebody said "we should play" and a week later I had 12 cowboy models on my desk.

Today's addition is the infamous Billy The Kid.


The Kid is a really flexible miniature for Legends Of The West because he's youthful looking, well-equipped, and a named character for the game.  So I can use him lots of different ways.

I've got a couple of different irons in the fire right now but there are definitely more cowboys looming on the horizon.

-Jay

Friday, 27 January 2017

When it rains it pours (in a good way!)

I haven't gotten as much painting as usual done this past week for the weirdest reason ever...I've been gaming...too much?

Normally my life gives me lots of opportunities to paint when I'm home with my family but getting out and devoting hours to playing is a bit beyond my schedule.  A normal rotation for me is that I get to play 1 game a week, frequently less.  In the past 5 days I've managed to play 4 games!

Sunday Ash and I wrapped up our Swineland campaign for This Is Not A Test.  I'm not going to give away the outcome but it was an awesome game where we both had our moments in the sun and every die-roll counted.  It was bittersweet to say good-bye to a campaign that has been so much fun but the best stories end before they jump the shark.  I'm looking forward to more This Is Not A Test in the near future as both the game-play and post game do a great job of telling a compelling story.


Sunday I also got to play my second game of the new/current version of Pulp City.  The Supreme Alliance once again took it to their cold war foes The Red Republik.  Now that I'm getting a bit more  used to the rules I'm really enjoying the game mechanics and looking forward to trying out some more new models.  I think I'm going to revisit my old models and maybe finally paint enough models from the Heavy Metal faction to make it a playable force.


Monday I DM'd the latest session in my Curse Of Strahd game.  The tone has changed a lot over the last two sessions. early on the game was heavy on exploration, discovery and an overwhelming fear of what was happening.  The party has now recovered some of the relics scattered about the domain and are seeing more combat.  Last session they got a bit lucky as they found their way into a conflict between two opposing faction and came within one decision of a TPK.  Victory was snatched from the jaws of defeat!


Last night I finally played my first game of Broken Contract.  It went the way of most of my first games of anything where I got a few rules wrong as I learned the game but I can say that by the second turn of the game Ash and I were getting it right and it felt very intuitive.  I'm looking forward to playing through the rest of the missions!


And that was my week of more than the normal amount of gaming.  I don't anticipate another week this game heavy for a while but I should be back to my paint table tonight!

-Jay

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Wrapping up Black Squadron for Broken Contract before moving on to my Breakers

Last year I started working on my Black Squadron Security forces for Broken Contract.  My thought at the time was that I would both use them as Peacekeepers for This Is Not A Test and that eventually I would actually play some games of Broken Contract.  Well "eventually" is now five days away and I realised tonight that I never painted the last 2 models for my faction.

First up is Xer the Gen-Mod (genetically modified).  Gen-mods are artificially enhanced troopers and workers that are physical behemoths.  Xer is on a 40mm base and is roughly twice the size of a regular figure.  At the time I started painting Broken Contract figures I knew Xer would be the last figure I painted because I didn't have an immediate use for him for This Is Not A Test.  In hindsight I regret putting him off, he was definitely the figure in the collection I've enjoyed painting the most.  He's got a great deal of texture and is both extremely well sculpted and extremely well cast.


Smythe is an overseer for the security forces which basically means his job is to oppress miners.  Smythe is another nicely detailed figure with manacles, and a low-profile headset.


Part of moving Broken Contract back to front-of-mind for me was that the game's creator Nick Baran has just launched a Kickstarter for the rulebook and game collateral (which is also another great opportunity to buy these awesome figs).
Check out his Kickstarter at:  
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/401223236/broken-contract-rulebook

Nick is a great guy and I hope you'll all take a minute to check out an emerging product from a legitimate start-up company trying to find their place in our awesome hobby.

-Jay