Thursday, August 29, 2013

Crossing The Threshold

Strange Aeons is the first game where I vowed to paint all my figures before I started playing. I don't know why this is, but I suspect Song of Blades and Heroes is to blame for this. SBH got me into the habit of skirmish style games, where only a handful of figures are needed and having an all painted force was easy to accomplish. After many years of playing with great grey hordes in Warhammer and WH40k, these small, colorful battles were amazing and glorious.

How glorious? This glorious.
So when my SA figures were in hand and I only had 6 or 7 to paint up, I said "This'll be quick. I'll be done in no time." and set to work. I suppose in the grand scheme, less than two months isn't all that much time. I have been known to work on a batch that small or smaller for almost a year. But now I have a cast of heroes, some villains and a few ideas to work with.

I've already introduced my new bad guys, and have lots of other models from years past to use as Lurkers, but my Threshold agents were a totally new thing for me. I've already shown you one from my first Bones experiment, Agent Mick Francis. Now I have the rest of the team painted up and ready to fight extra-dimensional horrors and their servants.

First we have the team's leader, Agent Ashton Clarke. Born and raised in Arkham, Mass., Clarke is no stranger to odd happenings and the occult. Though brash and headstrong, he shows a real talent for leadership. Despite his impetuousness, he was promoted because he gets results, even if those results are sometimes acquired through the liberal application of dynamite.

Agent Lucy Shae, a former Providence journalist, is sort of the mascot of the group. She is usually the one asking questions and dealing with people. She is known for her incredible luck, and has often survived where other agents have not by sheer chance. Given Clarke's methods, she seemed a natural fit for his team.

Professor Arthur Haywood is the group's scholar and occult specialist. Also from Arkham, Haywood is cautious and measured, and rarely without a plan of some sort. He counter-balances Clarke's disposition, and though there has been some argument between the two, they are fast friends. Haywood is currently looking to acquire spells for study and eventual use against their foes.

Finally, we have the group shot with Mick. Agent Mick Francis was the former sheriff of Alameda, Texas. After the Alameda Incident, the town was abandoned and Mick inducted into Threshold. Mick never speaks of Alameda, but then he rarely speaks at all. The mysterious silent type, he doesn't go in  much for asking questions and studying books. He remains on the sidelines until his real skills are needed, then enters the fray with six-shooters blazing.

And that's the team. I'm hoping to get my first game of Strange Aeons in soon and I hope to have a report of sorts up to go along with it. I'm incredibly psyched for SA. It meshes my love for little toy soldiers with my obsession with Lovecraft. A better fit for my gaming, I cannot imagine.

Happy gaming!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Birthday Gaming Extravaganza 2013

So, a week ago I celebrated my 32nd birthday, and this year I decided to do something a little different. Instead of a big family get together or a trip to Maine, I sent some invites to my closest gaming friends for a weekend of laughs, gaming and ice cream cake.

It's frozen, frosted deliciousness knows no equal.
I enlisted the aid of my beautiful wife, Brigid,  to help decorate and chronicle the day. Little did I know that she had a plan, and while I was at work the day before, she set about decorating our porch with an Avengers theme. I was elated, because I am essentially 8 years old when it comes to superheroes.

 These are still up a week later. They may never come down.
Since the next day was going to be jam packed with games, my dear wife gave me my present early. I now have my very own copy of Arkham Horror! Being a big Lovecraft fan, it was a game I'd always intended to own but never got around to. Now it was all mine to devour my life with hours and hours of gameplay.

Fun fact: I have been playing the same game session for a week now.
The night before the big event, my friend Marc arrived to stay. We spent that night getting some extra gaming in, so I introduced him to X-Wing, Quarriors and DungeonQuest.

The next morning after breakfast we were joined by my friend Jay. Unfortunately my cousin and his wife ended up not being able to make it, so our group was a bit smaller than expected. However, I still had two games on the agenda that I wanted to make sure got played, and I wasn't going to let dwindling numbers stop me.

The first was Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre. I had recently acquired this game and it ended up being a blast. It is insanely random and ridiculous and worth every penny. I don't think we've laughed so hard around a gaming table in a long while.

My character for the game. Also pictured: Me losing.

Mid game madness.
Note the non-essential cardboard cut-out of Mt. Skullzfyre in the background.
The second and most major thing I wanted to accomplish was a game of HeroQuest. As my all-time favorite game, and the gateway drug that got me into gaming in the first place, it was essential. I whipped up a quick custom scenario and handed out some characters. Since we were short players, Brigid took both the Barbarian and the Wizard. She named them Jethro and McGee. She likes NCIS. A lot.

Seeing the perfect excuse, I set up my 3D dungeon terrain for us to crawl through and made sure there would only be painted miniatures so we could enjoy a beautiful game. Mentor was sending our heroes to fight an evil Chaos cult as a test of their abilities. Would they make it out alive?

Into the dungeon
The dwarf makes short work (heh) of the Cultist in the first room...
And the Barbarian crushes the Orc soon after. The Goblin stood no chance after that.
Another Cultist is surrounded and chopped to pieces.

The Dwarf finds a healing well, while the Elf finds a Mummy.

The Elf fights the Mummy alone...uh, a little help?
The Wizard wanders off alone and finds some new friends.

The cult revealed, and the Slaaneshi Chaos warrior behind it!

Slowed by the Elf's spell, the Chaos Warrior is defeated by the Barbarian.
The cult was swiftly destroyed and much loot was had. All in all, a great game. I saved the characters so when we do this again we can continue from where we left off. I have a whole year to design something fun and more challenging.

We wound down the day with a game of the DC Comics Deck-Building Game. It's not the deepest deck-builder out there, but it was great for coming down off the gaming high. It was also the only game I won all weekend, with Jay coming in second by sheer amount of cards in his deck. Apparently his strategy was "buy everything". And it almost worked.

And that was Birthday Gaming Extravaganza 2013. I had initially named it that as a joke, but honestly I like it. I intend to do this again next year and possibly for years to come. I will certainly plan it a bit better, possibly with further advance notice, and a better system for taking pictures. There are certainly a slew of games coming out in the next year I'd love to showcase!

See you all again at BGE 14!

Friday, August 9, 2013

I Have Altar-ed The Dungeon

It has been a while since I've done anything with my dungeon project, but today it's back with a little dressing to liven the place up a bit.

No, not this. But still tangy and delicious.
One of the things I was most excited to get in my Bones Kickstarter package was the dungeon dressing pieces. Up until now, the only real pieces I've had to feng shui the place up with have been my Mines of Moria pieces and the table I built. So I was really happy that some of the hundreds of pieces I was getting would be going straight into the dungeon.

First off, we have the altar and candlesticks:

The candlesticks were pretty straightforward, but the altar needed something extra to help it stand out against the grey of the dungeon surrounding it. To that end, I made the skulls "real" skulls instead of carvings and you really can't go wrong with a couple blood stains from previous sacrifices.

One interesting thing about the altar is that it is open on the backside. I kinda like that because it adds to the narrative of the area it sits in. It's a great place for loot to be stashed, a goblin to cower or a skeleton to be interred in (and possibly crawl out from).

Next up is the "Well of Chaos" as Reaper names it. Personally, I don't see it as very Chaos-y, but that may be from my many years upbringing in the Warhammer world. Personally I think it looks more ancient elvish. Like the altar, it needed some splash of color to make it stand out, so it got a little moss here and there.

Being a well, I added a little clear school glue to give it some stagnant water, with a little moss floating on top:

Finally, I have a non-Bones item to add to the dungeon. It's a resin chest from the early releases of Soda Pop's Super Dungeon Explore line. It came with some of their stand-alone metal minis produced before they went full board game with it. I have 4 or 5 of them and I'm sure I will add more later, but for now here's the one:

Nothing special, but easy to paint and it has some nice scrollwork on it. This one is kinda boring and natural. The next couple will probably be in brighter reds, blues or greens for a video game RPG feel. Still, it does the job.

Of course I had to set up a nice cozy room shot:

And my cultists giving the altar a workout with some worshipping:

That's all for now! Happy gaming!

EDIT: It also looks great with a little friend on top.