Thursday, June 14, 2012

I need a hero...oh wait, I have six!

Many years ago I was allowed to purchase the DragonQuest board game. I say "allowed" because my parents were vary wary of anything carrying the Dungeons & Dragons name and even though they had bought me HeroQuest previously, the anti-D&D paranoia was strong in culture at the time. Somehow I was immediately going to start worshiping demons if I pretended to fight goblins that weren't on a board (we now know that it takes decades for such things). But since DQ still had a board and little stand-ups, it was perfectly ok in their eyes. Of course it turned out it was really just D&D "lite" and the board really just a map. It wasn't long after that I (and possibly my new demon lords) convinced my parents to let me charge headlong into D&D proper.

One of the best things about DQ, however, is that it came with everything: Stand-ups, a map, dice, a few plastic figures for the heroes and, in the deluxe edition that I had managed to grab, there were metal versions of those figures. Of course being young, I quickly lost the plastic figures. Eventually I bought more metal figures and soon had no need for the stand-ups, so those disappeared too (and I would love to replace them without having to buy a new set). I even managed to lose a couple of the metal figures, but whilst digging around I found the remaining heroes and decided to paint them up. I even had so much fun that I purchased replacements for the lost ones and painted those too.

I really am in love with this set. I used it for all of my early D&D adventures and it most recently became the basis for my favorite Song of Blades and Heroes warband.

My favorite has always been the cleric:

The figure has always felt like epitome of the classic cleric: stoic, covered in heavy armor and wielding a huge, heavy blunt object in the name of his god. I chose blues and whites to give him a "good" appearance, since those colors are usually associated with good.

I have always liked the wizard of the set as well:

Of course, I now know that the figure was originally a cleric as well, but the robes and the staff still seem to fit a magic-user. I still think of it as a wizard when I look at it. I chose a strong green to make him stand out, but also so he could double as a druid easily. Lately he's been either an elf or half-elf too, and green seemed to fit those as well.

Next up is the dwarf:

He's always seemed tough and I love his armor because its understated but still gives the impression of being heavy. I chose the red and white coloration as sort of a tribute to the HeroQuest dwarf. I also made the buckler bronze to keep the model warm-looking but stand out from the rest of the model.

My least favorite has always been the thief:

My objections to this model have always been based on his indistinct race. He's short, but not quite short enough to be a halfling. He's not quite tall enough to be a human, but too hawk-nosed to be an elf. Still, he is a quintessential cloak-and-dagger thief. I chose purple to keep him shadowy, but retain a splash of color.

The elf was also one of my favorites:

I liked the elf so much that I played a long string of elves and I had actually painted him once before. Originally, I had decided he must be a ranger, so his first paint job was all greens and browns. It was also atrocious, so I stripped the model and re-painted him as more of a swashbuckler. The turquoise cloak suggests "seafarer" to me and the puffy white shirt says "duelist". I went with bronze again to warm the model back up.

Finally there is the paladin:

I had the most trouble deciding how to paint this one. Eventually I settled on a templar theme with white, but I wanted to stay away from red as I had already used that combination on the dwarf. I chose orange because it was still in the red family and I really hadn't worked with much orange before, so I wanted the challenge. I tried to keep the armor dark, to contrast with both his weapon and to keep him different from the cleric. I also chose blue runes on his axe to catch the eye and contrast with the orange.

All in all, I am very happy with the end result. It was fun to paint some classic favorites and I am really starting to appreciate the old Ral Partha minis again. They seemed fairly understated, had little in the way of gaudy detail, but still had more character than a lot of minis today. I know I have more stashed away somewhere, so I know more will find their way to the paint table and onto the blog.

Maybe I can still find my owlbear...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Shadows of the (Gaming) Past

Lately I have found myself looking more and more at games that come from at least a decade ago. I also find myself wondering why that is. For example, I have been recently enthralled in looking at the Guardians CCG from 1995.

I remember loving the game because it was innovative (it had a board game quality to it), had an extremely tongue-in-cheek attitude about humor and because I was 14 and it was filled with high-quality art of scantily clad babes (for reference, I am still, essentially 14).


I also find myself at a loss because while I still have a load of cards,  I must have lost my actual deck somewhere and I am missing essential things like Stronghold cards needed to play. So, I immediately headed to eBay, but just couldn't pull the trigger. I think I was mostly suffering from extreme nostalgia, and I wanted to think about it more before I spent money on something old that could be used for something new.

But that really is the crux of the issue, I think. I am looking back because there isn't a whole lot of new to look forward to. I mean, I have Ogre coming from SJG via Kickstarter (that's right, I'm a backer!) near the end of the year. I have Mice & Mystics from Plaid Hat Games (adorable and you should check it out; I will most likely do a feature on it when I get it) coming in August and a new edition of Warhammer 40K sometime this year by all accounts.

Everything else is pretty underwhelming at the moment. I should be excited for the X-Wing minis game from Fantasy Flight Games, but the price is putting me off. They also pushed back their Star Wars card game, so that's off the table for a while. There are many other games I have wishlisted, but I can never seem to get them out of the queue. I just simply don't feel inspired to spend money on them.

So I go back to the games of yesteryear. I think there are a number of factors at work here:

  • Nostalgia: It is hard to argue with a game that made Kid Me pants-wettingly happy. Memories of old friends and awesome nights spent playing are a huge bonus.
  • Cost: I already own these games, so they are free. Dead games, unless really rare, are also extremely cheap to replace if necessary. And usually you don't need to collect everything to do so, so its a cheap buy-in.
  • It is a known quantity: I know I like these games. Hell, I loved them. It is easier to plop down $10-$30 for a game I know I liked and know how to play still (mostly) than it is to drop $50-$100 on a new game I may be disappointed with.

So, yeah, I may be scrounging up old parts for WarhammerQuest (not cheap but a fantastic game; only need  a few bats to finish it off), getting a couple of starter decks for Guardians (haven't yet, but really I'm just delaying the inevitable) or hunting for an actual set of paper stand ups from TSR's DragonQuest board game (impossible as far as I can tell). Hell, I regularly pull out my HeroQuest set and it is probably my favorite game of all time actually. 

All of these games are around 15-20 years old now, but I am having a lot of fun, and that's what gaming is all about, in the end. It doesn't matter what game you are playing as long as you are having fun.