Thursday, July 10, 2014

Witches Be Crazy

The weather and my schedule of late haven't been co-operative with getting models primed, so I haven't made much headway on my Cryx. I was hoping to have everything done by August, at least for small battles. With the time I have left it could be doable, but I'm gonna have to rush.

I spent June, however, doing a painting challenge and chose my Warwitch Siren as the model to paint for it. I really like this model for a number of reasons, but one of those is not the metal nightcap helmet she sports. So I left it off and filled the back with putty, giving her a pointy, Dark Elf-y look that I think works quite well.

Now I like painting models with details and such, but this one was a little over the top in some cases. What a person does with three belts is beyond me. Strap after strap after rivet after strap. The contact for the arm and back spikes were a little weak, so after they snapped off after priming, I was forced to paint her in pieces. This is not something I normally do but I can see the appeal.

You can really see the helmet from this angle. This way it looks more like something someone would actually wear into battle and not for sleepy-times.

Not kidding. The original has a freaking tassel on the end...
I also added an extra rune to the end of the blade, which you can barely see here. My camera apparently disagrees with my artistic choices.

So much so that this is the absolute best shot I could get from it. I need to find my old phone and start using it just to take pictures. This auto-settings thing is ridiculous. I need macro in my life.

I ended up pretty happy with the way she turned out, and I can't wait to actually use her on the battlefield. Warwitch Sirens are great because they are speedy little bombs of "Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!" goodness for just 2 points. Add in the ability to provide an extra point of focus where needed and occasionally dousing the enemy in corrosive goo and you have a winner.

Anyway, that's this installment. Happy gaming!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

I'd Like To Thank The Academy...

Well, no, I'd actually like to thank Paul Smith, AKA EndTransmission for sending me a Liebster Award for my blog.

Look at it! Loooook!

Ok, so its not a big super-prestigious thing, but it means a lot to me. I've admired Paul's stuff for a while now and if he thinks my blog is deserving of a little extra attention then I'm a happy man. Thanks a lot, Paul, and I really appreciate it!

For those of you who don't know, the Liebster Award is sort of like a chain letter. Someone sends you the award, along with a bunch of questions to answer, then you post a few random facts about yourself and finally you pick 5 or so other blogs to send the award to with your own list of questions. This continues until the entire internet is filled with nothing but Liebster Awards and cat pictures.

As long as the cat pictures survive, no one will really notice anyway.
That said, I suppose I should get down to answering Paul's questions:

1) What was your first wargame?  If by wargame you mean "miniatures wargame" the I would have to say Battle Masters. If Milton Bradley games don't count, then Warhammer. The game to really blame for all this nonsense is HeroQuest. It's not a wargame but I wouldn't have gotten into miniatures without it.

2) What is your favorite wargame? These days it is A Song of Blades & Heroes by a large margin. It is fun, fast and it accommodates my need for piles of disparate miniatures. I love throwing crazy warbands from several different manufacturers on the table and somehow have it all make sense. My homebrew dungeon crawl rules wouldn't exist without it.

3) What is your favorite model and why? It would have to be my D&D cleric.

It's a perfect example of old school Ral Partha coolness. I've always had a thing for clerics in D&D. This one is all stoic, heavily armored and carries a big smashy morningstar. It has everything I look for in a cleric. Plus, now that I've gotten him painted some 20 odd years later, I think he's one of my better paint jobs.

4) If you could only choose one paint range to work with, what would it be? Jeer all you like, but that would be Games Workshop's paints. I've used them for so long I don't know any better. Plus over the past few years they have put out some great products like their washes and Foundation paints. I haven't worked with any of their newest range beyond a few technicals, but I'm sure I will get some when I run out of my current colors.

5) What game do you feel is underrated and everyone should try at least once? Dungeon Command. Seriously, I don't think people really got it. The lack of dice really makes you think about where you place your figures and what cards to burn when. And who doesn't like a nice pile of dungeon tiles and pre-painted minis?

6) What songs are you listening to at the moment? People look at me like some sort of alien when I say this, but I'm not a huge music person. I paint with movies playing the background 99% of the time. When I do listen to music, its usually Irish pub songs or something comedic. So maybe that's why I can't stop listening to this and giggling:

7) What is your comfort film? The Princess Bride. I watch it every time I'm sick or feeling depressed. I can quote it backwards and forwards. That probably means I need some sort of professional help.

8) What do you do for fun when not gaming or painting? I don't understand the question.

9) Are you looking forward to the new Star Wars films? Yes, though I would not be a proper curmudgeon if I didn't hate them immediately after viewing them. And each time I view them after that, and so on until I die.

10) If you could have any job in the world, what would it be? Professional game designer. I would need heaps more ambition in order for that to work out but how could I say no to making and playing games all day?

11) If you could go and see one historical event, what would it be? Sitting in on Gary Gygax's first D&D session would be pretty neat.

According to the Liebster rules, I'm also supposed to post 11 random facts about myself.

1) I have red hair and I don't actually find the "gingers have no soul" thing funny. Its not that I find it offensive, its just that it got old REALLY quick. Find a new and clever way to pick on me and I'll laugh too.

2) My great grandmother was from Belfast, Ireland, so I am closer to being of Irish descent than 90% of people who celebrate St. Paddy's Day.

3) I can't really drink anymore due to stomach issues. This is torture to an Irishman.

4) The oldest game I own is a Shakespeare card game from the early 1800s. I have never played it.

5) I am primarily a solo gamer. This is due to scheduling issues, the collapse of my long-time gaming group, and more than a few social anxiety issues. I'm trying to fix that last part but it is slow going.

6) There is no fact #6.

7) I love this song:

And  I am constantly making up new tunes to this melody in my everyday life.

8) I used to attend LARP events. No elf ears were involved but I was a samurai for a while.

9) My wardrobe consists mainly of TeeFury shirts.

10) I own a Boston Terrier who throws temper tantrums:

11) My favorite TV show of all time is Futurama, but I've been really getting into Archer lately.

Ok, so I guess I have to give out some awards myself. Wee Blokes, Handgreandealiens Retro Dungeon, Fantasy Paper Miniature, magehammer's Gaming Table, Matt's gaming page, and Chicago Skirmish Wargames come on down and claim your prize! Here are your 11 questions:

1) What game got you into the gaming hobby?
2) What is your favorite game?
3) What is your favorite game to teach?
4) What hobby project are you most proud of?
5) What is your favorite type/style of game?
6) Marvel or DC?
7) Are you afraid of the brain spiders?
8) What super power would you choose to have?
9) Are you gonna eat that?
10) How any different games do you own?
11) What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

So yeah, that's it. Can't wait to see the answers guys.

Happy gaming!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Return To The Deep Dark

I decided to break out the ol' Deep Dark Dungeons rules for a crawl the other day. To sort of stretch the limits of the party, I built a nine room dungeon. That may not seem like very many rooms, but when each encounter is 33-66% of your warband value, it gets pretty taxing over the long haul.

In order to accommodate such a large dungeon, I turned to the swathes of D&D dungeon tiles I've accumulated over the years. This is what I came up with:

Pretty basic in the grand scheme of things, but a lot of deadliness belies it's simplicity...

I sent my usual party of dungeon adventurers down into the dark, and they were greeted at the bottom of the stairs by a single guard.

The elf ranger surged forward and planted his blade in the man's belly, but the guard only grinned as he shifted into a horrifying werewolf!

The heroes quickly overcame their terror and swarmed the beast, bringing it low through a series of repeated beatings.

The next door encountered had a simple trap that the rogue easily disarmed. He quietly opened the door to spy a dark elf witch and her bodyguard.

Attempting the elf ranger's trick earlier, the rogue rushed forward to try and take out the witch, but her quick reaction left the rogue bleeding on the floor. His adventures were over for sure.

The party moved in to avenge their fallen comrade, with the paladin striking down the witch. Quailing in fear, the remaining dark elf was dispatched with ease.

Moving to the next room revealed an ancient tomb. The dwarf fighter failed to reach it before the templar, and missed out on a magical crossbow. The templar hoped he would get a chance to use it to smite some of his hated undead foes.

The heroes decided to head left down the corridor, with the templar taking the lead and the paladin taking rear guard.

With the rogue out of commission, the ranger ended up as the scout, moving up to open the door. He got a firebolt trap for his troubles, and though this elven reflexes saved him, he was blinded by the flash. Luckily he recovered in time to see the three lizardmen waiting in the next room.

Not waiting for their dwarven companion, they heroes leaped into the room. This proved foolhardy, for even thought they slew one monster, the paladin was struck down. The other two reptilian foes were ensorcelled by the half-elf wizard and brought low in record time.

The last room in this pathway also had a trapped door, but it was harmlessly tripped. For all that trouble, the bookcase within contained nothing of value and the heroes trudged back the way they came, disappointed.

A little side room contained a weapon case surrounded by three statues. The adventurers weren't completely surprised when they lurched into life and started to attack.

What was surprising, however, was when the elf ranger was crushed under a heavy stone blade. The templar tried to use his new crossbow, but between trying not to hit his dwarven friend and the hard stone he had to resort to using his mace. The wizard climbed up on the tomb to get a better vantage point for his spells.

The wizard's spells proved invaluable and the statues were soon turned to dust. The dwarf opened the case and found why such powerful guardians were installed. The case contained an axe of masterwork quality, which the dwarf kept, and a magic mace that was passed on to the templar to improve his fighting skills.

Moving on to the next room, the adventurers opened the door to find a hideous, scaly creature with a tentacled face standing over a torture rack. The rack held a corpse, the skull of which had been opened and the brain removed. From the blood on the creature's tentacles, it was clear where the brain had gone...

Enraged at the unholy sight, the templar charged in, followed by the dwarf as the wizard held back. The creature spun wildly and lashed out with its knife, felling the templar, but it was hacked to pieces by the dwarf. Recovering the magic mace and crossbow, the pair grimly moved on.

The next room had a blade trap on the door that was no match for dwarven armor. As they entered the room, a humongous bat dropped down and attacked but was brained with a magic mace shortly thereafter.

Finally the last room! Opening the last door revealed the remains of an ancient wizard flanked by armored skeletal warriors. Unfortunately these animated as the door swung open. The undead wizard, obviously a lich, pronounced some curses in ancient dead language and its guardians lurched forth.

The dwarf used the narrow door to limit the fight to just two guardians at a time and keep out of the lich's line of sight. The half-elf wizard rained spells down on the skeletons, letting the dwarf smash them to dust at his leisure.

The lich attempted to retreat to a safe distance, but a surprisingly speedy dwarf chased him down. Being no warrior, the lich as reduced to a pile of robes and bones in seconds. A little magical support from the wizard didn't hurt.

Whew, that was a marathon! Large dungeons with lots of encounters are deadly. After the adventure, everyone recovered but the rogue, requiring a resurrection spell  bought from the gold gathered in the dungeon. The paladin was wounded, but a healing potion from a previous adventured cleared that up. All in all they ended up with a net 315 gold, a magic mace (given to the rogue to help in him not dying again), a masterwork axe (given to the paladin for the same reason) and a crossbow of lightning speed (given to the ranger to take advantage of his 2+ quality).

I learned a few new things and I will be making some edits to my rules at some point. Each game is a new experience and I'm always finding something I'm not happy with. Deep Dark Dungeons 2.0 gets closer with every game.

That's all for now! Happy gaming!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Mum-orial Day!

Hope all you gamers out there got some gaming in on this long holiday weekend. Personally, I got a little bit of progress done on my Cryx force, and I decided to have a little fun and paint up a mummy from my Bones Kickstarter.

Right now I'm really glad I bought into Bones. I didn't even prime this guys, so I could just pick up and paint on a whim. It's really to have a big pile of random fantasy figures to paint on the fly. The base is D&D style black for now, but I will probably go back and base him later. I also made a conscious decision to paint the eyes the same as the Bones zombies I painted up a while back. That way, there's a sort of connection between them, like maybe the zombies are the mummy's minions. Either way, I'm happy with how it came out for such a quick paint job.

I'm sure I'll find a million uses for a mummy, but I know he'll find his way into Strange Aeons for sure. He looks marvelous staring down my Threshold team.

That's all for now. Have a great rest of your holiday and happy gaming!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Banes Of My Existence

My WarMachine project is slowly chugging along. I am about halfway through my 15 point force and I am trying not to rush too much. That being said, I am not above using lazy methods to achieve my goal quickly.

That brings me to my next unit: Bane Thralls.

I have always loved the concept of the Banes. Ancient dead warriors who sneak up on you and hack you to pieces with giant axes are really nothing to pass up. Not only are undead badasses cloaked in a pall of darkness cool, but they are great on the battlefield. Most melee-only troops have to advance under a hail of murder-sticks to chop up their enemies.

But at least they get to fight in the shade.
But Banes get to close in relatively unmolested thanks to their Stealth ability, soften up the enemy armor with a little Dark Shroud, then smash even the heaviest warjacks with an extra die of damage on every attack. Back when I was playing MKI, Thralls saw a bit of downturn thanks to Bane Knights but now that I've returned, I'm glad to see they are viable choices again.

I have two units of Bane Thralls and I intend to use both at every opportunity. However, I hate painting units. I find it tedious beyond belief. That's where that laziness thing comes in. Behold the Banes:

As you can see, I did a lot of drybrushing. The idea was to try and pull off a ghost warrior look. Its nothing but a simple 3 layers of Dark Angels Green, Snot Green and finally Scorpion Green, but I think it works just fine. The bases probably took up half of the total paint time. The other unit should follow suit rather quickly.

I also managed another Deathripper repaint, giving Deneghra her requisite two Arc Nodes. They also make her look like a huntress with her two hunting dogs, so that's pretty badass as well.

I like to believe their names are Chauncey and Monetque.
So that's where I've gotten so far. I'm literally one unit of Banes and a Skarlock Thrall away for being finished. Now if only I can keep my momentum...

Happy gaming!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Cryx Of The Situation

Back in the Dark Times, when Games Workshop (TM) stalked the land and Space Marines (TM) ruled the earth, I heard of a nascent game where wizards and mechanical monsters smashed each other in the face repeatedly while spewing steam and hemorrhaging gears. This sounded like seven kinds of awesome, so I researched it a bit and found out all about WarMachine.

You can't not want to play magic robot battles.
I managed to convince my cousin that he should play too, so we set about choosing factions. He (being a dwarf player) chose the faction with the most magnificent beards and heaviest armor, therefore purchasing a Khador battlebox. I initially leaned toward Cygnar, but felt like it was too Red-Vs.-Blue and the 'jacks too similar to Khador in most ways. Menoth was a little to fanatical and ornate, plus I hated painting white. That only left Cryx.

"Can you tell we''re the bad guys? I don't think we're wearing enough black."
I was immediately hooked on the idea of battle robots made of bone and metal, with the addition of steampunk necromancy for shambling hordes of undead. I also liked the idea of a finesse army among all the hulking metal stomping around.

We had fun playing battles with our battleboxes, and I expanded my army with a few extra units. Ultimately, though, there wasn't much of a community at the height of our interest and Warhammer 40k was still king in our hearts and it fell by the wayside. I stopped playing altogether around the time Hordes came out, which I was less interested in because the monsters were flesh instead of metal.

Well, a few days ago I dug out my old Cryx models and resigned to get back into the game. There is a sizable community in my area now and the new game shop in town has a a great set-up to play in. A rulebook and some tokens later, plus the great War Room app downloaded and I was ready to start again. But not without a fully painted starting force to keep from embarrassing myself.

Somewhere among all this smashy goodness, I managed the task of painting my whole battlebox. I was very proud because my last completely painted army was back in 2nd edition 40k. It was a task mostly accomplished with the liberal application of black primer and some minor detail work. The end result was a paint job that looked like this:

Back when I thought grass-green flock was the best ever.
While I'm proud of the bone, the rest of the scheme is very flat. I wanted some more color, something a little more vibrant than the old black or the newer grey-green look of the official schemes. I chose purple: still evil but not boring.

My first repaint, ironically, is Deathripper #2
I kept the original metal and bone work, added heavy purple highlights, some hard pink highlights, and repainted the grass flock brown. The flock was drybrushed with a light bone color to give an ashy look and I chose yellowed grass to contrast with the purple. All in all I am happy with the end result.

I also gave my warcaster, Warwitch Deneghra a quick update too:

This just had a purple wash added to the skin and a re-highlight, plus the cloth painted purple. The rest is all original paint. The base was done the same as above.

My ultimate goal is to get a 15 point duel force painted up so I can play the occasional small game. My hope is that this project will lead to me joining the local WarMachine community and get me out of the house a bit more. Of course, true to form, the WarMachine night is on a night that I work regularly. Oh well. For right now I'm having fun painting and there are no shortage of players to duff up some metal on a different day!

Happy gaming!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Review: Cops & Robbers

Recently I was wading through the morass of gaming awesomeness that is BoardGameGeek when I came across a thread by a new game designer/publisher asking for a review of their game. They would even send a review copy for free for anyone willing to play it and write about it.

Having written a few review-type-things before, I decided to give it a go and try out a proper, official review. A few PMs later and a copy was winging it's way to my door.

That game is Cops & Robbers, designed by Kieran Billings. It is a simple, fun game about stealing loot and running from the fuzz. The game consists of three different decks of cards, aptly named Cops, Robbers and Loot:

Anything else would be confusing really.
Robber cards consist of sneaky tricks, bonuses to help you escape the cops and penalty cards to screw with the other players when they make their getaway.

Some of the most important types of Robber cards are Getaway cards which represent your getaway car and all the cool modifications you've made to it to better cheese it when the cops appear.

This would totally be my car.
The object of the game, of course, is to get loot. The Loot deck contains all sorts of shiny things to steal, although occasionally you end up with nothing. Too bad it still counts against you if you come up empty handed!

Finally you have the Cop cards, which you must evade to keep your loot. Sometimes your illegal activities draw no attention at all, but each Loot card means more cops, and sometimes you can end up caught no matter how crafty you are.

Games are either played until one player reaches a certain amount of Loot, or for a fixed time period, at the end of which the player with the most Loot wins. All players start with five Robber cards and must draw/discard back to five at the start of each turn.

During a turn a player may lay low and draw two more Robber cards for more heist options, or steal stuff, netting one Robber card and one Loot card to add to the pile of stuff to stash later. During either of these actions, a player may play other cards, including adding to their getaway car.

Alternatively, a player may try to stash the Loot they have stolen so far, triggering a getaway sequence. During a getaway, the player running draws one Cop card for each Loot card stolen and must have bonuses equal to the number of cops or more to escape. This might be simple, except that other players may play penalty cards to worsen your chances. Unless you have some bonus cards or some sneaky tricks, you'll find yourself behind bars quick.

What going to jail might look like.
If you escape, your Loot cards go to your stash and are off limits for the rest of the game. Loot doesn't count for your victory total until it's stashed, so it pays to get it done quick. However, if you are caught, you lose the Loot you haven't stashed yet, your sweet ride (i.e. getaway cards) and you lose a turn while you sweat it out in jail.

I have to say, I did have a lot of fun playing Cops & Robbers. I was a little worried about writing this review because the game is definitely not like my usual fare. However, it was a nice diversion, and I do like the design of the game. There are both "gotcha!" and press-your-luck elements, meaning you are just as likely to be screwed by your opponent as by your own decisions. The rules are simple and straight forward, and the game would be very good for playing with family, other non-hardcore gamers or as a light filler during game nights.

Being a preliminary copy, it has a couple of rough edges I would like to see worked up before its final release. The rules are simple, but the rulebook could be a little clearer in places. The Robber cards lack art right now, but Kieran promises that they will have more of the same great art (which is nearly finished).

In closing, I recommend giving Cops & Robbers a chance. Not only will you be getting a fun game, but you will be helping out a new game designer, which I think we can all agree is great for the hobby as a whole. The game isn't commercially available yet, but the Kickstarter campaign opens up April 20th and will continue until May 18th. Toss a few bucks at it and get a fun game! And in the meantime, check out the Devious Games blog for rules and updates!