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!


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!


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.


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.


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.



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?


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.
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.


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.....


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.


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!


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.


Wednesday, 1 February 2017


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.