Friday, December 2, 2016

WIP - The Hywayman

This picture turned out rather more poorly than I expected, but here is a result of my painting at lunch time this week.

This figure fills the "gunslinger" archetype, which normally seems to go in a western cowboy or gangster direction.  I had the idea for this figure about seven years ago, and dutifully set some bitz aside in a little baggie, where it sat for another six or so years.  Then by chance, the Catachan surgeon head came into my collection (I was after the other medic bitz) and I thought that the head looked rather like a highwayman's bandanna mask.

As you may be able to tell, he is mostly built from Empire Militia bitz, with Empire archer arms, and some sculpted elements. Once I had the head in place the idea for a curled wig hairstyle just came to me.  The hardest part of the conversion was actually getting the right arm to work out, because "reaching for a gun" is sort of critical for this pose, but of course most empty right hands are either splay fingered or "just released an arrow".

I will try to come up with a better photo later, but as long time readers know, I rarely remember to do this...

[Edit: updated picture on Saturday]

Friday, November 18, 2016

Twenty Years

Somewhere around the middle of November, 20 years ago, a college student mail ordered the Warhammer 40k boxed set from The Armchair General.

I have discussed previously how I found a brochure called An Introduction to Games Workshop at a local hobby store, which as one might surmise from the title served as an explanation of the various GW games.  [And six years ago (!) Tony from Dampfpanzerwagon sent me a copy of that same brochure]  After I got that brochure, I poured over it for hours and hours, and eventually connected the games pictured to Battlemasters and Heroquest, which I obtained at about that time.  I did not ever actually play 40k in those days though, as lack of access and lack of cash were definite problems.

Later, when I was in college, I started viewing the old usergroup for some reason or other, and immediately realized that this "40k" thing was now starting to be accessible online. I worked up the nerve and bought the starter box and a few miniatures, starting me off a long road.

Hard to believe that twenty years later I am still at it, and that it has been so long.  Maybe some day I will finally paint all of that starter set...

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Coffee Box Buildings

As I mentioned in prior posts, I expected to play a game or so of 40k and so I cast about for some scenery for the game.  I have a few plastic buildings, but I wanted something a bit more futuristic, and more colorful than unpainted plastic. A year ago, I worked on some ideas for turning waste boxes from our work coffee machine into buildings, but discarded the idea as not workable due to the size and condition of the boxes.

This time however, I was in a time crunch, so I made a "skin" for the buildings in MS Publisher, printed the skin and stuck it on. You can see version one without the balcony floor, and version two with it.

I think the results are ok (certainly enhanced by the graffiti), but more as LOS blockers than as playable terrain. These never saw the table (we played x-wing all weekend instead) so they are dust collectors for now.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Weekend X-Wing

Two TIE/D, TIE/IN, TIE/B, and four TIE/LN vs. some rebel scum
So this weekend my family was away with my mother-in-law, doing fun stuff at the coast.  Aside from doing some pretty serious outdoors work, my buddy TheDocta came over and we played X-wing.  Quite a lot of it in fact. Pictured above is one of our larger games (160 points if memory serves), although we did make it up to 260 in our final blowout game, which took several hours to play, and was a mad scrum of bases in contact. The defender is a fun ship to fly, and the tractor beam is great fun indeed. (and absolutely crushing "Luke Skywalker: greatest hero in the galaxy" is a particular treat)

Unfortunately our grander ambitions of playing 40k and Axis and Allies fell by the wayside, but there was talk of doing this again for his forthcoming milestone birthday.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Finishing What I Started - Space Marine Scouts

A while back, probably in 2002, I started painting some metal close combat Space Marine Scouts, got them about 90% finished, and stopped.  They then languished, like many projects in a drawer.

I am (hopefully) hosting a few games this weekend, and aside from painting some things that I am anticipating using in the games, I noticed these guys, and realized that they were "low hanging fruit" so to speak, and brought them forth for completion. Some paint touch up, inking and some base work, and they were completed.

Possibly a bit too much sun
It appears that I am not any better at freehand painting insignia than I was lo 14 years ago. The figures still need to be flocked/tufted, and sealed, but are otherwise complete, which is better than they were previously.

Still, it is nice to get them this far along.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Quick Color Test

Sorry for the silence lately, I actually have a number of articles pending, usually waiting for some final step or another or better photography. 

Anyway this weekend I did a quick color test for some "hardwood floor" I am making for a base. 

I took a Popsicle type stick, scored it with a razor saw, and painted it with three different washes.  From left to right we have Citadel "Drakenhof Nightshade", a custom mix I make with Citadel Black ink (from 20 years ago!), and last is Citadel "Reichland Fleshshade"(which probably would have benefited from another coat).

What do you think?  Which makes the best hardwood floor color?  

Friday, October 14, 2016

William Tecumseh Sherman: In the Service of My Country: A Life

Nicely colorized version of the famous Mathew Brady photograph
Wednesday I finished reading William Tecumseh Sherman: In the Service of My Country: A Life, by James Lee McDonough.  This is a quite readable biography of Sherman, which draws substantially from the prolific correspondence that Sherman conducted with his wife, family, and others.  Through this book I learned several new things about Sherman's life, particularly the period during which he lived in California, first as an army office, and then as a banker in boom-town San Francisco.  I was also unaware of the political connections of his family, his father-in-law serving as a Senator, and then Secretary of the Interior, and his brother as Senator from Ohio.

As is usual with this sort of book, it would have been nice to have more and better maps of campaigns and battles, and this book also uses the frankly antiquated practice of putting photos together in the middle of the book, rather than interspersed chronologically.  Another drawback was the lack of information from Confederate correspondence, of which I assume there is a large volume.

These few complaints outstanding, I quite enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone interested in American Civil War personalities.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

White Dwarf Monthly

Like many in the blogging world I picked up a copy of the "new" White Dwarf Monthly Magazine.  This issue was released on September 2, 2016, and since I was out of town (playing Risk legacy), I picked it up the following Monday from my FLGS.  Many of you have no doubt read all you need to about the magazine by now (or have a copy), but if not, read on.

White Dwarf Monthly Cover #1
As the bottom of the magazine states, it is in fact "Bigger, Better, Brand New"... well, at least the first two.  The magazine is fairly long, even by the standards of prior monthly White Dwarfs, and certainly in comparison to the weekly issues. The paper quality is very high, and as you can see from the picture above, it retains the weekly White Dwarf gloss/matte printing for the cover, which can really enhance the picture.  Photography is likewise excellent, with none of the muddy backgrounds that sometimes were an issue at the end of the prior monthly era.  You will also note that "Games Workshop" does not appear at the top, but rather "Warhmmer", in keeping with recent branding efforts I think. 

Another feature is that with more text there is more space for "British-isms", something that this Anglophile appreciates. The White Dwarf of the Paul Sawyer era was full of various references to local culture and turns of phrase, which added to the allure for me.  Letters to the editor return as well, including one by a former White Dwarf editor by the name of Guy Haley... 

This particular issue has a very large section on adding rules to the boxed games released in the last few years (including Space Hulk 2009/2014).  As I have none of the boxed games mentioned, this was interesting but of little use; however I am sure that it would be very interesting to anyone who had one or more of those.  
Lost Patrol White Dwarf Advertisement
 One of the unfortunate aspects of the magazine returning to a monthly format is that advertisements returned as well. As you can see in the picture above the right page is an advertisement for various Warhammer digital products.  To be fair, you could call most of the magazine an "advertisement", but new product announcements and the like have at least some use (and more so now that they are more "secret" until the magazine is released.)  By my rough count there are 12 pages in this magazine that are solely advertisements for existing products, and therefore have little added value. Certainly not much compared to a non-hobby magazine, but still a bit annoying.

Another feature that I missed was the lack of new rules.  With the weekly format, miniatures often released before the codex/rulebook to which they belonged, and White Dwarf would fill the gap with the necessary rules.  I really enjoyed this feature, as I am unlikely to buy any new codexes, but may buy some of the miniatures for other purposes and games (mostly older GW games anyway). Hopefully this feature comes back (for the rumored Genestealers?) in future issues.
Inq 28 Blanchitsu
Blanchitsu - Inq28
One of the most exciting features, to me anyway, is that Blanchistu returns to White Dwarf!  In the era of the weekly White Dwarf, this "article" series was relegated to Visions instead, so seeing it return to an accessible location is quite nice. I am certainly looking forward to seeing some of the figures from various games and blogs in high resolution photography soon.

Anyway, enjoying the magazine very much, and unlike the last few monthly magazines (to say nothing of the weekly pamphlets), I am still reading it. I expect to pick up the next few from my local store, and if things keep up at this level, I will resubscribe for the first time in quite a few years now.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Ghoul King

Last week I finished reading Star Wars: Bloodline, and was finally able to move on to the second book of the Dreaming Cities, The Ghoul King, by Guy Haley.
I read the first book at the beginning of August, and quite liked it.  Like the proceeding book, this was more of a novella, but this time it felt like the story was more complete in the pages presented.  Following directly on from the prior book, the knight Quinn is dragooned into exploring the ruins of the Dreaming City of Columbus Ohio, which was nuked by the other Angels roughly 20 years prior.  In this story we learn a bit more about how much Quinn differs from the baseline of humanity, and to what lengths the Angels will go to prevent the spread of forbidden knowledge.

As with the first book I really enjoyed the setting, and would like to read more about it.  I did not have quite as much of a "ooh, D&D" response to this one, and instead was thinking about how to game ghouls vs. plucky lower tech survivors (possibly played by cowboy types). I expect that most of the post apocalyptic miniatures games could easily handle a couple of scenarios about having to guard horses, or withstand waves of ghouls departing the city like bats at sunset.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Risk Legacy

This past weekend, I visited my wife's cousins and as is customary after the children were abed, we broke out some board games.  This time we got out Risk Legacy , a version of the classic game where you change the board as you play.  Released in 2011, the game is best thought of as a "Risk overlay", that is it starts as a slightly quicker version of Risk played as a campaign.  Players select a faction, and a starting position, and then expand to rule the world (through collection of star tokens/bases).
Then you start "scaring" the board with stickers which change the value of territories, making them harder to defend, or easier.  Then after someone wins, they sign the board, and gets to add a major city to the board, or rename a continent, or add some other change.  Those that did not win the game, but were not eliminated also get to change the board, so that after a few games, the board is heavily marked up, with cities spread out all over.  Cards get marked up and destroyed.

Board after three games
In later games, or even in the middle of a game, players open additional rule packages when the conditions are met (eliminate a faction, use up the minor city stickers, three missiles used in a single combat etc.).  And the game changes again. Heady stuff, and the constant changing conditions make each game a little different.  When I left Sunday one of the cousins was carefully adding in new
rule stickers to the rule book, and now I am wondering what the new rules say...

Risk was never "my" game, and yet this variant is the game I most want to play next, and we are already talking about buying Pandemic Legacy when we "Finish" this one.