Thursday, December 8, 2011

300 Challenge: 3 Warbands

I am pretty happy with my progress on the 300 Challenge, but I am not likely going to complete it before I go home for Christmas Break. I lost too much time in November. Still, I have accomplished quite a bit. Here is my 25 point Circle list that will be going into the tournament. Cassius, a Stalker, a Woldwarden, some Reeves with UA, and Lord of the Feast. This band has worked pretty well so far, but I will be playing some new armies and will not have much of a chance to practice against them. In particular I am worried about facing Everblight. That army can basically ignore my feat and that is a bummer
 I also cracked out some stones for bigger games. These were easy to put together, but surprisingly tricky to paint. I made the mistake of painting them grey first and then going back in to do the green. I should have gone in the opposite manner! Still they look pretty neat and should be a nice addition to the army.
 For Malifaux I spent some time on my Hoffman band. This was one of the easiest to paint, as I simply painted most of the army brass and inked it for some shading. I picked out a few details and called it good. I actually spent more time on the bases than the models. They are Deus Ex Mahina from
 I especially like the glowy orb.
 Hoffman was pretty easy to finish as well. I should have left the apparatus off his back and painted it separately, as some of the pieces were hard to reach. There are also some neat conversions out there that bulk up the suit and make it a little tougher looking. Maybe when I get home I can crack it appart and have a go.

 My final piece for tonight concerns Gutshot! My new game. I ordered the book online and some minis from Black Scorpion. The paint job is a little quick and dirty, but I needed to get them done before heading home. We will try the game out for the first time and I wanted something half way decent to play with.
 The detail is pretty respectable, but I did have a hard time cleaning up the ones that were resin. I got 10 cowboys, 5 outlaws, and 2 guys on horseback. I haven't based them yet, as the material I want to use is back home. I also opted to use round lip bases even though they came with GW style. I think they look a lot better. I need to order a few more, as the game does call for townsfolk, indians, and banditos. All in good time, however, there is still plenty left to paint on the table!

Last week I had finished 135 models. I have completed 20 for Circle, 5 for Hoffman, 17 for Gutshot, and three from the odds and ends pile. This gives me a grand total of 180! I can still get pretty close to my goal tomorrow if I speed paint some 40k guys that I have sitting around. Wish me luck!


Thursday, December 1, 2011

300 Challenge: Cryx Chicks Part 4

My 300 Challenge is back in gear as of tonight. I have a great deal to get done before I head home for Christmas break, but I think I can do it. My Satyxis raiders and witches are done enough to be put back on the shelf, so I am sending them off the painting table and getting ready for some new stuff. My final steps were to highlight the hair, ink the flesh, and add water effect for the bases.
 The bases on these gals were finished with some snakebite leather and sepia wash. I am getting low on sepia, however, as I have found it works for lots of applications, such as wood, water, and leather.
 I should apologize for my lighting. I can't seem to get it back the way I had it. These all look too washed out and over-highlighted. Time to try a light box again, I guess.
 I even had time to work on Sorscha. She is a nice model. I have heard from several gaming buddies that they don't like her. Not sure why, I think she looks cool. The base needs some work, but I need to look at some reference pictures before I finish it.
This, along with a couple odds and ends brings me to 26 done for this session. Next on the painting table are my Circle of Orboros models that will be used in the tournament I am going to over break. They are already mostly done, so they will help me post some quick numbers on the boards. After that I will probably go back to GW for the win. Current total: 135. Still a long way to go!


Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Game Room: Librarium

The last element for a proper gaming facility in your home is a Librarium. This will be the place where you work on some of the more delicate hobby operations, such as painting and assembling. It will be a place to keep all of your army books, rules manuals, and fiction. Likewise, it should be a place where you can display your work and be proud of your trophies.

First, the location needs a proper work area and sufficient light. This is likely the most time consuming part of the hobby, so ideally it should be in a family area, like the TV room. Painting in the basement lacks natural light and painting in the garage risks getting dust where it should not be. Here are some options:
  • Some people work on a TV tray from the couch with a light over their shoulder. This is actually a pretty good way to go for many reasons. The TV tray can be easily moved to the Strategium when not in use, it keeps you close to your family, and the light can be moved around easily. It is also small enough to force you to work on just a few figures at a time. Obviously, it can get knocked over and doesn't give a lot of extra room for paint, water, glue, and brushes.
  • Some people work on the kitchen table. If you do this, put down a few layers of cardboard to protect it from paint and knives.
  • Others work at the computer desk, but this will probably get you kicked off when someone else wants to use it.
If you have the space, you can do what I do:
  • Get a nice table and set it up near the TV. Do not let it directly face the TV, since you can easily become distracted by the images playing upon its surface. Ideally it should be by a window.
  • Add a hutch or a painting shelf to it for storage of all your painting gear and reference books.
  • Get two lamps, one halogen and one incandescent. The mix of two light sources will mimic natural light.
  • Invest in a good desk chair with proper back support. It should have adjustable arms and high-quality casters.
  • Put down a plastic carpet protector for the chair to roll on.
  • Pop in a good DVD commentary or start a podcast.
The Librarium should also house all of your gaming books. I have gone back and forth on what to do with my old codexes. I once came close to throwing a bunch of them out, but I examined the new ones and determined that the fluff and painting guides in the old ones made them worth keeping, even when the new edition came out. These old books now provide a handy resource whenever I look to start a new army or clean up and refurbish an old one. I also keep all my old gaming magazines. For storage, I bought a number of heavy-duty magazine holders from the office supply store. Again, they form a handy reference once you have several years worth saved up.

When buying a book shelf, get ones that have solid wood shelves. Pressboard or plywood is not rigid and will bend over time. Magazines and RPGs are particularly dense books, so will require a good quality bookshelf. Don't be shy about putting them on display. Game books tend to have bright colors and interesting covers. They are sure to spark a conversation when the neighbors come over to play cards. If you are lucky, they might decide to try out a little D&D instead of playing poker! These shelves can also be a place to store your more popular board games. This way they can be brought out at a moment's notice instead of having to be reclaimed from the Enginarium.

You should also invest in a display case. It is important because you should be proud of the work you have put into your hobby. How many houses have you been to with a display case full of plates that were painted in a sweatshop in China or antiques created by someone with only modest talent a hundred years ago? Think about it- the time, effort, and artistry that went into painting your Warjack is a hundred times more valuable than any of that other garbage. Do not fall into the fallacy that just because something is "nerdy" it should be hidden. Explain to the viewer such things as shading, highlights, color theory, and brush work. Get them to appreciate it for what it is- artistry and craftsmanship. The display case will also inspire you to keep improving. Take a look at what is in there and challenge yourself to replace it with something better!

When selecting a display case, look for a couple things. First, make sure it is lighted. Ideally, it should have two bulbs- one at the top and one at the middle. Second, it should have doors on both side that give you enough room to get your arms in. Finally, the case should be big enough to display what you want to show off. If your game is 40K, you will want a bigger one in order to fit an entire army. If you play Malifaux, a smaller one will probably be fine.

Even if the Librarium is also the family room, it should be a place of quiet meditation and reflection. Is there a fireplace? How about a grandfather clock? Consider adding a few wing-backed chairs. This is where you will go to reflect on your victories, stretch out on the couch, and ponder your next move.

I hope my reflections on the gaming environment have been helpful. I was lucky enough to have all of these elements in my last house. I had a large gaming room that was connected to a good sized storage room. The light was good and it had a utility sink and bathroom connected. There was room for a couch and several comfy chairs next to the gaming tables. Now that I am back in grad school I am not so lucky. But even here in my one-room apartment I have all that I need.

Cheers, and happy gaming!


The Game Room: Strategium

The Strategium (gaming area) should be the focus of your hobby endeavors. This will be the place not only where games are played, but also where new worlds are created. The ideal game room will be a place that is comfortable, useful, and inviting. Here are a few tips for starting your own game room.

First, don't worry overmuch about space. The ideal game room will be rather large, but even a small place can be made to work. There are other considerations to see to that are actually more important
  • Floor Covering: Avoid thick carpet. If you drop something small you will never find it. If you get it dirty it will never clean properly. If you need to, pull up the carpet and go with bare floors. Linoleum or wood is better and will be easy to clean. The ideal surface is actually commercial grade carpet with no pile. It is generally easy to clean, will allow you to find dropped bits, and is more forgiving to models that fail their initiative save and go tumbling over the side. If you have a bare floor, you can always roll out an area rug for games and roll it up for messy hobby projects.
  • Lighting: Install an overhead light fixture with multiple bulbs and put in the brightest ones it can handle. If this is not an option, get several halogen lamps for the corners. If you want to be able to take any pictures or read your rule book during a game, this will be crucial.
  • Power: Are there sufficient outlets for your needs? Could you plug in a laptop, phone charger, lamp, air conditioner, jigsaw, and refrigerator at the same time? Is there a hookup for cable or internet?
  • Plumbing: Is the room connected to a bathroom? If the room has access to a sink, it will be of great use. You can clean out your brushes regularly and take a break when needed without disturbing others. Just make sure the second option is not used during game night. Make your guests go down the hall.
  • Temperature: Does the room have a bearable or adjustable temperature? Install a window AC if you need to in order to combat gamer stench.
  • Proximity: Is the room near your Enginarium and Librarium? Is it near a place where people will want to be sleeping (the Somnatorium) on game night? The ideal Strategium will be near the prior and far from the latter.
If all of these elements are in place, then this should be your Strategium. Even a small bedroom can be made serviceable if all the other elements are in place. If you are lucky enough to have an entire garage or basement to use, then go ahead and construct whatever sort of place you want. Throw in some couches, a TV, a couple custom built game tables, and have a great time. If your space is limited, try some of these suggestions:
  • Use a collapsible game table. There are lots of plans for game tables out on the web, but the design I like the most is also the simplest. Go to the DIY store and buy something called 1/2" OSB (oriented strand board). It will come in a big sheet that is 4'x8', so get a buddy with a truck to help you get it home. Once there, you have a few options. If you cut it in half, you will have two skirmish sized boards of 4'x4'. If you cut off 2 feet, you will have a Warhammer board with another to use as an army display board, and if you leave it alone you will have an Apocalypse board. Whatever you decide, paint one side green and the other side black (I use cheap paint and a big roller). Flock or sand appropriately, and now you have several game tables. They can be laid over an existing table or set up on a couple of sawhorses. There are some nice foldable sawhorses out there that can be easily stowed when not in use. These type of boards can be leaned up against the wall or behind a shelf and take up little room. They are also dirt cheap and require no skill to construct.
  • Use a collapsible work table. I use a thicker piece of plywood for my work projects. The OSB is not quite as durable, so I use a 3/4" piece of plywood. If you have problems with it sliding around, you can cover the saw horses with a rubber mat or a piece of cork board. 
  • Use wall mounted shelving for storage. This gives the added benefit of not taking up any floor space. Use these shelves for storing the terrain and armies that are currently in use. If you are not playing with them regularly, they should be in the Enginarium, safe from dust. Likewise, keep a few rulebooks and codexes in here, but not the whole collection. The rest should be in the Librarium.
  • The only things on the floor should be a couple of chairs, a mini fridge, a trash can, and a file cabinet if needed for army lists and campaign notes. By now most of this should be on your laptop anyway.
  • If you have the room, a side table is not a bad idea for writing notes, setting up your laptop, or organizing armies.
  • Put up several Frank Frazetta posters and have a sound system ready to go. These two things can help you get in the hobbying mood and will be sure to dissuade your spouse from coming in to bother you.
  • Don't let the Strategium start to look like the Enginarium. Be careful to clean up your hobby project mess at the close of each day. This will better allow you to get in a quick game when your buddies stop by and force you to not leave projects hanging.
There you have it. With a little planning, any small room can be made to serve as a place to play games and even work on hobby projects that can get a little messy. If you don't have such a room in your house, then chances are that your dining room already fulfills most of the criteria. You will just have to be a little more protective of the table and floor. If you don't have that, then you could use your bedroom. If you put your bed up on a set of cinder blocks or a small loft, you will have extra storage and it will be at just the right height to lay a game table over.

Remember- don't let anything stop you. Gaming is more important than responsibility. Imperator Vult!


The Game Room: Enginarium

A friend asked the other day for some tips on storage for hobby supplies and armies. Over the last 8 years I have had to develop a storage system since I have moved or been relocated about 4 times. As a hobbyist, I crave a stable location to practice my art, but that has unfortunately not been my lot in life. Here are some thoughts on how to store all your stuff. I call it the "Enginarium."

When looking at storage, I take several things into account.
  • First, the area I choose must be for gaming alone. When I go to my Enginarium, I don't want to have to sort through clothes or Christmas decorations. All the gaming stuff should be right there. 
  • Second, The space should be large enough to accommodate everything. Once I start looking for something to work on, I don't want to have to go to three different rooms trying to track it all down. 
  • Third, the space should be accessible, meaning that the doors are easy to open and provide an easy means for installing shelves or moving boxes in and out. 
  • Fourth, it should be dry and free of mold or other undesirable effects. Moisture should be rigorously monitored and addressed with sealants, dehumidifiers, and regular cleaning. 
  • Next, be aware of fire hazards. Cardboard, paint, and plastic like to burn. Do not choose an area near wiring, heaters, boilers, dryers, or anything else with a remote chance of getting hot. 
  • Finally, the area should be secure. Most thieves might not want to haul off an army in the night, but what about your little nieces and nephews who come over to visit? Do you want them getting into your space marines and hobby paints? Lock it up to be safe.

Next you will want to look at storage devices.
  • I started with buying steel shelving units from the hardware store. I bought the tallest ones that would fit in my storage room and bought several at once. I wanted them to match up evenly and chances are that the one you buy this year will not have the same dimensions as the one you buy next year. Buy a bunch and get it over with. 
  • At the same time, invest in all the plastic containers you need. Again, buy them at the same time and get ones that stack and come in different sizes. The tubs I bought are clear and fit two wide on the shelves I bought. They come in two different depths and lock together nicely when stacked. I also bought another style that have pull-out drawers for tools and paint. I also bought a number of Plano boxes for my pre-painted minis, like Star Wars and Heroclix. These boxes are clear plastic and have customizable compartments. They are then put in a larger plastic tub like the others I bought. 
  • Your painted armies should be stored in foam trays and boxes. I keep mine in cardboard boxes and write the army name on the side. I am switching over to plastic, however, since the cardboard does deteriorate over time. 
  • The last item I got was a small shelf unit with a bunch of little plastic drawers. These are commonly sold as storage for nuts and bolts, but they also work great for a bits box.

Once you have your room and storage devices selected, it is time to put it all together. When putting models away, be sure that they lay flat and are not under any pressure that could cause breakage or distress. Leave a little room under the lid so they have room to "breathe." I keep dessicant packs from shipping containers and distribute them freely around the boxes. Put all your tools in a safe place together. Mark the outside of their container with their contents. This will save time when cleaning up or starting a new project. Seal all loose items like sand and flock in the proper container. Spilled anything is a waste of money and can contaminate other projects in the Enginarium. Store larger things like game boards and sheets of foamcore or plexiglass standing straight up and down. This will minimize warpage. If you have anything flammable or under pressure, like spray paint, keep it in a separate area- preferably in a garage. If the garage gets too cold or hot, however, keep it in a steel cabinet in the basement or other storage area. Temperature changes can destroy these items.

Focus on efficiency of space. I saved quite a bit of room by going to all of my miniatures that were still on sprues and cutting them off. Usually an entire regiment or squad can be reduced to fit in a drawer of my bits box. Store like items together and throw out anything you don't need or haven't used in a couple of years. If you have a neat piece of something you would like to use in the future, ask yourself if you could make the same thing better out of foamcore and pink insulation. If it has a distinctive feature, just take a picture of it and throw it away. Also take a look at some of your older projects. Would the local game shop want it for game night? Could a new gamer use it? Don't be afraid to pass on some of your older stuff. Sentimentality is for the weak. Take a picture and give it away. If not that, then consider ebay. Why not make a couple bucks and spend it on new stuff?

Now you have a sweet storage area for all your stuff. Don't forget that your hobby supplies and armies represent a significant investment. Clean the Enginarium regularly and be merciless with spiders and ants. Do not allow anyone to smoke in the storage room or even drink pop. Punish all offenders immediately and make an example of them before the Emperor. Don't let the space become a fire hazard- pick up the floor and beware of clutter. If it can't fit in one of your boxes, then throw it out. A clean storage room will allow you to better complete your projects and move on to the next one. If it is full of crap, inaccessible, or dirty, your chances of getting anything done are exactly zero.

Now get to it!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

300 Challenge: Cryx Chicks Part 3

These models have gotten easier as I went along. I think the problem with tackling a highly detailed mini is that all the details are not immediately clear when it is primed all one color. As I added washes and picked out details it got easier and easier to see what was going on. I guess the lesson is just to get started and let the details worry about themselves.
Skarre is coming along nicely. I want to do some free hand work on her cloak and make her a nice centerpiece model. The weapons will also get an extra touch, perhaps with magical glow or damascus steel effect. We'll see.
 They don't need a lot of work, just a few highlights and a little work on the base. I will probably dull down the colors a bit as well. If they are raiders, they should be a little less ostentatious. 
 The main change at this step was shading the horns, highlighting the flesh, and picking out some of the belts and other details.

Skarre will get a fresh base as well. I hope to be done with these chicks pretty soon so I can get to work on a new army. it has been slow going, but we are almost done!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

300 Challenge: Cryx Chicks Part 2

I have been working bit by bit on the Satyxis Raiders. They are starting to get some definition, but I have a long way to go.

 I really like these bases. They are resin bases that I bought online from Kerr & King. They needed a little cleaning up, but the detail is good and they also have a depression for water effect to go into. I painted the stone gray and then washed it with brown and green wash. I will highlight it again with gray to pick out the edges.
 I should really just work on a few at a time, but I am loathe to waste any paint. This is the mob as I am working on them. I am still in the basic colors stage and they need a lot of cleanup. I often make the mistake of continuing to work on them even when I am tired, so the paint job is not as neat as I would like. I seem to spend a lot of time fixing mistakes.
 She is looking pretty good. I think I will go with white hair on this unit and black on the chicks with whips. They will be easier to distinguish that way. Now that the models have some color, I want to go back and work on the skin and faces a little bit. There are many parts I missed that I originally thought were going to be cloth, but are in fact bare flesh. These models are so finely detailed that you only pick up on some of the subtle details when you actually start applying the paint. Again, these are mistakes that are costing me time!
These girls need some bases! I ordered some new ones from Back2Base-IX and they look pretty good. I went with a simple wood decking base as I want to eventually model them on the deck of a ship. That would be pretty cool, right?

Another thing I noticed in my painting this week is just how important it is to check and double check your models before painting them for flashing and mold lines. I seem to remember going over these models very carefully, but I have found a bunch of things that need fixing. Again, time wasted.

Unfortunately I did not get much painting done during October. November's schedule looks better, but I am pretty sure my painting schedule is going to roll over into December to finish my goal of painting 300 models. However, if I can get through my entire backlog before I head home for Christmas, I will count it as a victory.



Monday, November 7, 2011

Hell on Wheels Review

Last night I watched the premiere of "Hell on Wheels" on AMC. I watched it in the hope that it might offer some inspiration for my games of Malifaux. I enjoyed the pilot and here is my review.

The lead is a gunfighter named Cullen Bohannon (played by Anson Mount). Without giving too much away, he was a soldier who fought for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. We are not told much about him, but he appears to be on some sort of revenge mission that leads him to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where the Trans-Continental Railroad is beginning to be built. Colm Meaney plays Thomas Durant, a rail baron. He is the titular bad guy, but in a neat soliloquy he mentions that without him, America would never be truly great. Elam Ferguson (played by Common) is a worker on the railroad and an emancipated slave on Bohannon's crew. There are fights, drinking, a baptism, and a raid by Indians. The train is pretty cool as well.

The revenge theme is pretty clear from the very beginning and provides the basis for several character's motivations.
There is also an element of self-preservation and desire for power. Durant, in particular, is motivated by the opportunity he has been given to make something great while also making an incredible fortune.
There is no supernatural element in the show. This series is being played as a straight Western with no magic, voodoo, or steampunk whatsoever.

Here is where I think that some Malifaux inspiration can be found. The conflicts we have seen take place in several different settings. On the plains, we see a campsite attacked by Indians. I had not thought to make a setting like this, but it would be perfect. There were several wagons, a couple fires, and a bunch of straight-sided canvas tents. This kind of battlefield would give a good mix of cover, breakable terrain, and lanes of fire.

There is also the semi-permanent work camp around the rail line. I like the idea of a section of unfinished rail, piles of dirt, stacks of ties, and half wood, half canvas shacks. The wagons being used are also distinctive. The preacher and his band even have a wagon with a steeple on the back.

The soundtrack is worth a look. I have several of the songs featured on the show, and all would make a good Malifaux soundtrack.

Despite the lack of any magic or steampunk elements, I think the show can help get you in the mood to Malifaux. It is pretty dark, gritty, and has an acceptable level of violence. I hope the show takes off and does well!


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Small Update

I have added a few more links to miniature manufacturers in the Hobby Links section. There is some amazing stuff going on right now in the world of gaming. It is a great time to be a gamer!

Not much work done this weekend. I drove out to a few stores looking to pick up some Halloween Town type terrain, but nowhere I went had any. It was a wasted weekend for terrain. I did paint a little bit, but only base colors for the Satyxis witches. Not very exciting.

On the plus side, I found a gun store nearby that is in the same building as a model railroad shop. I have honestly never been in such a cool place. It was the convergence of two of the most formative elements of my childhood. Frankly, I am still reeling.

I also made it to the gym pretty regularly this week. I have been on a diet and exercise routine for the last month and a half and have so far lost about 15 pounds. It seems pretty good until I realize that I have about 50 to go and will have to spend a fortune on new clothes if I am successful. Oh well, sure beats heart disease and diabetes.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

300 Challenge: Cryx Chicks Part 1

My next step in the 300 Challenge is into Warmachine. I already have a bunch of models painted up, but these Satyxis models have been sitting around for over a year. I did manage at some point to get them on some nice Back2Base-ix resin bases, but after priming them I got sidetracked. As you can see, they are highly detailed and come in a variety of poses. My first step was to paint the skin with a blend of Elf Flesh and Rotting Flesh. I then hit the wooden bases with some Scorched Brown.
 As you can see, I have a ways to go. My plan is to try and do two colors every day this week and get them done in four days. I should be fine. Today was flesh and wood, tomorrow will be cloth and leather.
 This group comes to the table half done. The models still need a lot of work, however. There are a lot of buckles and straps to pick out as well as mistakes to clean up from my previous attempt to get them on the table quickly.
 Here is the new sculpt of Pirate Queen Skarre. I really like her pose, but she needs a new base. I think I can find something that will work.
This is the old version. still pretty cool, but she is chiefly being used as a test piece for the other one so I can get my colors right.

So far so good, more updates soon!


40K Battle Report: Imperial Guard vs. Marines

Battle Report!

I successfully recruited one of my buddies to come over to the house and try a game of 40K. I put together a small force of marines for him and a guard army for me. The battle would be seize ground, with the variation that any infantry unit could hold an objective. Here is the breakdown:

  • Space Marine Captain with Power Sword and Artificer Armor
  • Command Squad with the following equipment: 1 Plasma Pistol, 1 Pair of Lightning Claws, 1 Power Sword,Company Champion, and Apothecary
  • 10 Man Tactical Squad with Plasma Gun and Heavy Bolter
  • 3 Space Marine Bikers with a Melta Gun
I was a little worried about this army since I only have a few models at hand (hence all the extra equipment). Turns out they were fine!

  • Company Command Squad with Autocannon
  • Platoon Command Squad with Missile Launcher and 2 Plasma Guns
  • 2 Squads with Heavy Bolter and a Power Sword on the Sergeants
  • Veteran Squad with 3 Plasma Guns in a Chimera
  • 2 Armored Sentinels with Autocannon and Plasma Cannon
I honestly thought this would be enough plasma. I really did.

 Aaron split the tactical squad into combat squads and moved the heavy bolter to the top of a building in the first round. He had a good field of fire and began putting the hurt down early on. They also controlled an objective. There was one near his deployment zone and two near the center. The rest of his force began running down the table to pounce on the center objectives right away. He left his bikes in reserve.
 This unit would prove the toughest to dislodge. After this command squad got in the ruins, it proved very difficult to put any wounds on them. Their Apothecary kept them going despite Lasguns, Heavy Bolters, and Autocannons causing tons of wounds. I had intended to wipe them out with the Veterans, but they were delayed in getting there.
 Here is a birds-eye view. I spent three turns leap frogging my infantry units near them, but was unable to cause any casualties. I refrained from getting too close to their potential assault.
 The Captain went off on his own, trusting to his armor to see him safe. The bikes racing up behind got a bead on the Sentinels, who themselves were targeting the combat squad on the other objective. You can't see it here, but the Captain is getting ready to assault a squad between the buildings.

 In a later turn, he managed to wipe the squad out, but then my Chimera finally showed up and three veterans with Plasma Guns popped out the top hatch and hosed him with six shots! Despite some fevered dice rolling, the Space Marine Captain was wiped out. He performed well, however, destroying the squad I was trying to use to seize an objective with.
The chimera, platoon command squad, and sentinels wiped out the bikers and the combat squad on objective number two. We rolled to see if round six would begin and it was a "2." Game Over! With another round I could have used my vehicles to contest the other objectives and the veterans to hold one. Close to a victory, but not close enough. Congratulations to the Noob!

I made two big mistakes. For some reason I put the Missile Launcher and Plasma Guns in a standard platoon command squad. They should have been my Company Command Squad where these weapons would have benefited from the improved BS. As it was, the Company Command Squad was pretty useless as the marines got their normal save from the autocannon hits and the junior officer could not force the marines to reroll cover saves from the plasma.

Mistake number two was keeping the chimera in reserve. He would have been better off shooting all weapons from round one and pushing into enemy territory to try and contest that objective. The delay to round four because of lousy reserve rolls was punishing.

A good fun game. 600 points is all right by me.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Malifaux Terrain: The Mansion Part 5

I spent a few day doing some detail work on the mansion. One of my goals when starting this project was to add as much detail as I could without resorting to lots of pre-made bits. I could easily by some plastic window kits, but on a project of this size, the price would mount pretty quickly. Instead, I went out to the local craft store and picked up a few basic supplies to start working on the windows. So far I am pretty happy with how they are working out.
 I started with painting them brown. If you leave the paint fairly thin, the wood grain shows through nicely. Along with the popsicle sticks, I had a bag of long thin bass wood strips that would work for trim and the window cross bars. I used a pair of clippers to snip the popsicle sticks to the right length for each window frame and then beveled the edges so they would fit together at a nice 45 degree angle. each window is slightly different, so each piece was trimmed individually.
 From an old miniatures package I cut out some rectangles of clear plastic for the windows. On some of them I cut lines to simulate cracks and other had a corner cut off to simulate breakage.
 Here are some of the finished interior doorways. I glued the top piece in first then slid the side pieces in underneath so they fit snugly. Using the thin bass wood strips, I created a simple frame around them. This adds a further level of detail and also hides the places where the wallpaper was cut out from the doorway. A little white glue holds the whole thing together.
 The windows took a little more work, since I had to fit four pieces together plus two more for the cross pieces. A few of the window frames are a bit wonky, but I did not correct them. I want the building to look dilapidated and uneven so it fits with the ethos of the place. I used a drop of superglue to hold the plastic window pieces in.
 The interiors are finished in a similar fashion as the doors, with a frame that goes all the way around. This level is just about complete. I will order some furniture soon and put a few pictures on the wall.
Here are the first two levels finished!

Well, mostly finished. I have decided that the roof line is just not working for me. I may cut the peaks of the roofs of and rework them to be flat topped. But that is a project for another day...


Sunday, October 16, 2011

GW Fanboy Rant

Apparently new Necron pics have finally been leaked. They can be seen at They look pretty cool.

This might be a good time to play my GW fanboy card for a moment. If you spend any time on gamer forums on the web you will find a shocking amount of vitriol against Games Workshop. Criticisms range from anger over the release schedule to disappointment over a new codex. Price always seems to be an issue and veteran gamers always get wistful for the "good old days." While I can appreciate the criticisms and well understand where they come from, I don't think any of them really cancel out the good that GW does for gamers in general. Here is how my argument for GW goes, point by point.

Point 1: "GW products are too expensive."
I disagree. The hobby has always been expensive. Most hobbies are. Take a minute and look at what it would take to get into car racing, scuba diving, or hang gliding. Thousands will be spent on equipment, travel and training. To top it off, you could die! Even people who merely go to the gym or start running will eventually pay a good deal on new shoes, spandex, and membership dues. In short, people will generally pay what they can afford as long as they think it is worth it. Some will say that GW is uniquely expensive because of the number of models you need to play with. The argument goes that Malifaux or Warmachine is a better option since you can play full games with fewer pieces. While this is true, it hasn't ever stopped me from spending my full hobby allowance even after purchasing my one starter box. There will always be another model I want or a new crew to start. The problem with these kinds of skirmish games is that in order to have such a small buy-in, they are limited when it comes to playing with a larger force. I will never really be able to field all my Resurrectionists together, even though I only own about a $150 dollars worth. Such a game would be neither fun nor realistic. However, I can easily field every Space Marine I ever bought, along with Every Imperial Guard and Sister of Battle model, at the same time!. By now the number is something like 400+ individual models. The game scales well with the right rule set (Apocalypse). Further, I can field just five Space Marines and the same basic rules work for that size game as well (Kill Team). I know that Warmachine is trying to address the scaling issue, but they are a long way from the flexibility that GW offers. While some of the new game systems do make it financially easy to start, they pretty severely limit what you can do on the table once you have been collecting for a while.

For me, it all comes down to budgeting. I will soon be starting a new GW army and I will plan to budget just $30 a month over the course of a year to see what I can come up with. This will be $360, a pretty significant investment for any game. However, when I am done, I hope to have an army that can be fielded at any points level. The same investment in Malifaux, for instance, would yield me 10-12 crews, but they could only be fielded in one kind of battle while all the rest sat on the shelf.

I recently did some research into all the starting boxes offered by the mainline gaming companies. Warmachine offers 8 basic starter boxes (around $50) with a model count of anywhere from 3 to 6 models. Malifaux offers 24 starter boxes (around $30) with an average of 5 models per box. Games Workshop offers 26 starter boxes (around $100) with a model count from 16 (Ogre Kingdoms) to 51 (Tomb Kings), with most armies falling in the 30 model range. Many 40K armies even come with a tank or other large size model. Further, all the GW box sets are fully customizeable, poseable, and upgradeable. Chances are that you will also be left with a pile of bits for further conversion work. Here is the average cost per model, assuming you buy one of the smaller kits with 5 models and one of the GW kits with 30 models. Privateer: $10 per model. Malifaux: $6 per model. GW: $3.33 per model. Despite the larger initial cost, the value is worth it.

Point 2: GW doesn't release new stuff fast enough.
This is a complex issue and I admit that I do not have any insider knowledge on the process. However, a company like Privateer obviously has a different workload than GW. If Privateer decides to rework the entire line of one army, we are talking about resculpting around 100+ models. For GW to do the same thing, we are talking more like a few thousand individual pieces spread out over a number of individual sprues and finecast sculpts. For instance, the basic Space Wolf Pack sprue has 218 individual pieces. Most of them must be designed to be interchangeable with every other kit as well. This is a massive undertaking that simply takes a long time to get right.

I am a Sisters of Battle player, so I know what it means to wait for a new codex (8 years). This never really bothered me all that much. As long as I had the old codex, I could play with the models I already had without needing to worry about changing the army too much. The stability of that was actually pretty nice, because it gave me time to hone my skills and gradually build up my force over a decade. If I wanted to play the army in a new way, all I had to do was change up a few units here and there and it was different! I didn't need to wait for a new special character or special unit to come out for that, like in Warmachine. The flexibility to change the army was already in the list itself.

If the new stuff comes out too quickly, gamers complain about the old stuff being made obsolete. If they don't come out fast enough, gamers complain about the old stuff becoming obsolete. Frankly, I think 5-7 years between codices is fine, with a simple FAQ to update them if a new rulebook comes out, which GW has done.

Point 3: "The scale of Warhammer is just too big for me nowadays."
This is something I have heard from several friends and podcasters who have made the jump from GW to Privateer and Wyrd. This is one that I can't really argue with, since it is a matter of personal taste. Further, I know that it can be a challenge to get all those GW models painted up. Here then, is my own take on this particular issue.
  • Skirmish games limit my tactical options. In a skirmish game, there is a very limited number of troops on the board. It will be hard to factor in a lot of redundancies. Each unit therefore bears a greater burden than in a larger game, where more units can support one another.
  • Some units become indispensable in Skirmish game. Because of the lack of redundancy in a skirmish force, the general will usually have to rely on one uber-powerful unit to win the game, such as a caster,  master, or big nasty. This is not necessarily true in Warhammer. Generally, a force will be able to survive the unanswered death of one or two units and even win. The exceptions would be armies like the Vampire Counts (melting units with loss of HQ) and Necrons (phase out with death of troops). Some reckon that this attribute makes these armies particularly vulnerable, if not weak.
  • For me, wargames should have an epic feel. It may be nice to be able to set up a skirmish game in under ten minutes, but there is something special about a large table full of ranks and ranks of soldiery, or a half-dozen rumbling tanks. While skirmish games are great, I always get the feeling that they are leaving the best story untold- the big battle that is happening just over the next hill.
Finally, a note on the matter of customization. This is probably what keeps me coming back to GW time and again. I love putting my own army together with its own story and background, even paint scheme. The problem with the mainline skirmish games is that the background has already been written for you, the story already told. In a way, it doesn't matter if you killed Seamus in the streets of Malifaux, because in the fluff in the book, he killed you! Not so with my Imperial Guard. Their story grows and develops with every game I play. Further, my 40K army will always be different from the one across the table. It is my creation, not someone else's.

Whatever GW's faults may be, I think they make the best models and have the coolest background. I love playing Warhammer and plan to do so for years to come.

Malifaux Terrain: Creepy Structure Part 2

I painted up the little house as a test piece for the Malifaux mansion project. I wanted to see what the best way might be to paint the siding, in particular. I want this house to be "Malifaux" in that it looks innocent at first glance, but then becomes horrible on closer examination. 
 I did something new with the windows this time by painting in some curtains. i will admit that they look pretty crude up close, but from a distance actually look very nice. I don't want a really polished look on my stuff anyway. Malifaux has kind of a storybook feel to it, so more abstract terrain seems to fit better along with the models.
 I also deliberately skewed some of the angels, particularly on the window frames. This contributes to the overall look rather subtly, just like the mismatched shingles. I could have bought all my siding and windows online from a plastic kit manufacturer, but that just doesn't interest me as much. The bricks were painted in various shades of brown and red but I think they still need a highlight so it stands out more. I need to get a hold of some cotton balls to make some smoke for the chimney. I think that will go a long way to show that something horrible is happening inside.
Here is a close up of the front windows. What is happening in there? Well, bad things happen...


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Malifaux Terrain: Creepy Structure Part 1

This is a little house I started last year. I want something to represent a creepy structure in Malifaux. So far it looks pretty innocent, but my plan will be to situate it in a piece of creepy terrain. The chimney will have a large plume of smoke and the windows will reflect some creepy firelight from inside.
 The house is simple foamcore sheathed in card strips. I will next fashion a decent sized base with a few creepy trees, a fence, and a walkway. Maybe some gravestones out back?
I would also like the building to be removable from the base. I plan on creating a little diorama with stuff going on inside, like a fireplace, a dining room table, and maybe a rocking chair in the corner. We'll just have to see.


Malifaux Terrain: The Mansion Part 4

This doesn't look like much, but I was having a problem joining the round roof to this tower. The tower itself is round at the front and square at the back. In order to join it up I layered several pieces of cardboard and carved it to blend the two shapes together. Once done, I shingled it and attached to old roof. It now has a much better fit and looks quite a bit better from all angles. next step will be to frame out the big window.

This is a project I was not looking forward to. I have done thousands and thousands of shingles and I find the work very tedious, especially on long ranks like these. So, I plugged into a new podcast and took an afternoon to finish it up. Now I need some paint to try and bring it in line with the rest of my Malifaux buildings.

The biggest job, of course, is finishing the siding. Like the shingles, this just took lots of time. Once I had all of the card cut out, it didn't really take me all that long. The corners and windows of course take a little care. Next step will be window and door frames. I need to see if I can get my hands on some balsa wood for this job. It will be a little more sturdy than card and look better when painted. Speaking of paint, once I finish a few other projects I will get some color on this.



I shouldn't have pressed the button...