Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Building the Backlog…

As part of the new baby-centric regime in our house, Tuesday is now 'model night'. It gives me a couple of hours in the week (almost guaranteed) to spend time building and painting my way through the backlog of metal and plastic.

As you can see from the image above, last night saw a random selection of miniatures from different gaming systems, and it was great to finally get things put together.

First on the list was Guildball. I had started these during last week's model night, but ran out of glue! I have to say I was rather disappointed with these models, for a number of reasons – primarily, they were hard work. Don't get me wrong the models are beautiful, however there are some very delicate parts and all 3 have staff/spear weapons that nearly snapped on several occasions and bend very, very easily. Secondly, my batch were covered in flash and exaggerated mould lines – took a long time to get them looking reasonable.

In addition a couple of the arms didn't fit well in their respective sockets so, whilst I expected some pinning, I will have to go back in and do some filling, which hasn't been the case in a long time. Finally on my list of gripes, the tabs. On all three models, the tab that slots into the base sits higher than the top of the base, so will need cutting away. Maybe I've just got used to clipping off tabs and pinning to resin bases. This time I thought I would be quick and simply stick them into their slotta bases – turned out to be more hard work!

As a consequence I'm not feeling terribly enthusiastic about Guildball right now, but hopefully a Tuesday evening painting these models will cure all that!

After that I decided to pamper myself with some plastic. I still had two Malifaux crew boxes sitting on the shelf, so jumped in head first. I started with the Sonnia Criid crew and three of the easiest models ever – one-piece Witchlings! The detail is great on these and not having arms/legs/weapons to stick on was a bonus.

The new Malifaux plastic resculpts are a lot thinner than the metals were and it was only when I started on Sonnia that I realised how thin – thank god this wasn't metal! The plastic glue made things very easy, despite the fiddly bits and the whole crew took no time at all. I didn't like Sonnia's separate face!

Desperate to build something a little more chunky I started on the Kirai crew – Seishin. These guys are much bigger than the old metal Seishin but similar in looks. Went together very easily.

Not satisfied with that I moved onto the new-look Ikiryo – one of the chunkiest plastic models I've seen. Much bigger than the metal version – in fact, more like the avatar – but great looking model which will be fun to paint.

Let's see what happens next Tuesday on model night!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Salute Loot

Bit of a delay to this post due to a rather hectic week.

As you can see above it was a very restrained shopping trip this year. In fact none of the things on my list made it into the shopping bag!

The Mortician's starter set for Guild Ball I've already spoken about in my last post. Nothing to add about that.

Just like last year, everything else ended up being for my Normans vs Outlaws project, which I haven't looked at in a while.

I picked up a couple of miniatures from the Otherworld stand. The cleric and squire are cracking models and are so characterful they have roles to fill in-game for sure. However, I did think the squire was holding a helmet at the time, it turns out it's a box of some description. Ah well.

The rest of my loot came from Foundry. The Jolly Monks were an impulse buy – they're hilarious and beg for a scenario to be written around them.

The other buys were Norman crossbowmen and Dismounted Knights. These have a lot more character than the models I have so had been singled out as potentials before the day.

…and that was it. No massive purchases this year, and there is a reason for that which may (or may not) be revealed over the summer months.

Monday, 27 April 2015

My Salute 2015

I'll start by saying what a fantastic day!

The last couple of years have been a bit hit and miss for me so, whilst terribly excited as it's my only geeky event of the year, I wasn't expecting much. The layout seemed much more spacious that previous years and there seemed to be more people there.

There was a lot to see and, whilst there were repeat displays from previous years, there was a lot of new and exciting stuff to see. New companies popping up all over the place, which I think is thanks to Kickstarter and the like – it's giving lots of people the chance to give their game a shot.

There were two winners for me this year – one, a Kickstarter due to launch next month and the other a Kickstarter from last year.

The first of the two is a game called Infernal by a fledgling company Wartorn Games. I know one of the guys from Wartorn who was demoing the game and it was great to catch up and hear all about it.

Infernal is a skirmish game pitting special forces types against hell spawn. Not my kind of thing normally, but they've come up with some great (yet simple) rules and the models are excellent. It helped that they had a cracking gaming board as well as a stand showing off some of the upcoming models. Keep an eye on this when it hits Kickstarter at the end of May – it could get pretty big.

The other game of interest was Guildball. We're into our Blood Bowl as you may know, so when I saw this game on Kickstarter I had a good look. For some reason it didn't pull me in, but seeing it on display at Salute was a different matter.

I'll be honest, I've no idea how it plays, but the models… oh my word. I have to say, not since early Malifaux have I had my head turned by such a range of models. They're all fantastic, across all the teams… sorry, Guilds!

Bull was like a man possessed at the stand – it really grabbed his imagination – so we took up one of their starter offers. Bull went for the masons, memories of the Victorias in Malifaux being resurrected. I went for the dark, grumpy team (hmmm) – the Morticians.

As you can see from the image above, you get 3 models in a starter set, which means I may actually get them painted. However, I have my eye keenly on Ghast – the big fella in the mask with a nasty serrated blade. No idea how good he is but he looks awesome.

From what I'm reading, Bull's Masons are all about a balanced game with decent defence. Mine on the other hand are about manipulation and trickery.

I'll get a photo of my loot for later in the week and discuss that, but exciting times for the hobby ahead!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Salute 2015 Incoming…

Yes folks, it's that time of year again. Salute 2015 is almost upon us – less than a week to go!

This is the time of year that I get excited about my one big geek day out, about how I'm going to get back into Warmachine/Hordes again because I love the game so much, and rhyme off a shopping list of models that will be purchased then sit in a box or cupboard for the foreseeable future.

So what's on this year's agenda for me?

Not much to be honest. A few months ago I wasn't even sure I would be going to Salute this year, but the load has lightened enough for me to partake in my annual pilgrimage to the exhibition industry's capital and mingle once more with the great unwashed.

Hobby time has been non-existent for months and only now am I grabbing an hour here and there to keep things bubbling along. The game of choice at the moment is Batman, so you would expect some related purchases. After our opening game of BMG I'm definitely in need of some back up – I have had some reinforcements arrive this week so we will see if anything else ends up in the shopping bag!

The one thing that could appear in the car going home is more Sarissa Precision mdf terrain to game on. After being an mdf sceptic for so long I have now become something of a convert after my recent SP experiences, so will be on the look out to add to the collection.

I still have one eye on Bolt Action. I'm loving the idea of having some WW2 stuff in my collection and this would probably be my preferred route. I have the rulebook already so the next step would be to pick up one of the starter sets. I doubt it will happen due to limited spends this year, but you never know.

After my discussions with Mike Thorp about his Twilight rulebook late last year, I did promise I would swing by and say hello. It will be good to have another look at this game up close, although purchases are unlikely.

Blood Bowl is still on my radar and I would be quite keen on a game or two. We have struggled to match the sheer excitement and drama caused by last year's mini starter league. No new purchases likely for this unless I see a stunning set of dice I don't own.

X-Wing is a game that I have invested heavily in and not played much. There is an outside chance of a purchase here if I can find some B-Wings but aside from that I'm happy with what I've got.

The release of Armada and Imperial Assault have been very testing but I've managed to abstain. There is the vague possibility of a purchase here but I think common sense may prevail.

Zombicide is another game I have invested heavily in and not played nearly enough. I has a sic amount of stuff arrive a couple of weeks ago from their last Kickstarter so new purchases not likely… ever!

I think there could be some money spent when it comes to paints/brushes/accessories. I'm slowly swapping out my GW paints for Vallejo and Army Painter, plus adding some of their textures, etc. to improve the painting experience and results. I also want to find some brushes that I'm happy with. The ones I've got at the moment are ok, but I would dearly love some top drawer brushes to paint with. The likely outcome here is a spray can and a handful of bottles though.

Then finally we come to full circle to Privateer Press. I hadn't looked at a WMH model since we moved house nearly a year ago, but when I do or see photos on old blog posts I do think I need to get stuck in again. I love that game.

I happened to use my WMH case to take my Batman gear to Bull's the other week and it got me fired up a bit seeing my models again. Could this be the year I paint something new?

I have several models unpainted (or still in blisters) for both Cryx and Everblight. I also have an unpainted Khador starter set which will need to go on ebay, but there is still the chance of a random model or book purchase. This is my gaming achilles heel when it comes to spending money, so don't be surprised if something sneaks home with me from Salute.

Hope to see some of you and have a catch up!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Creating Batman Objective Markers

So after Wednesday's post about painting the Dynamic Duo, today I have a quickie post about the Objective markers I used in our recent Batman tutorial game.

In the game you get to choose 3 out of 4 types of Objectives to deploy in the game – Joker gets an additional Laughing Gas Canister option. I chose Ammo Crate, Titan Dose and Riddles.

For all the bases I used the same toppers I'm using for all my Batman miniatures, and weighted the bases as per my earlier tutorial.

The ammo crate was something I found in my collection of unused bitz. I think it came from Ainsty many moons ago. Very non-descript and the best thing I could find at short notice (I created all these markers the night before our game).

To paint it I used Vallejo Burnt Umber and Army Painter Matt Black as a basecoat for the wood. I then added lines of increasingly lighter paint, adding more Burnt Umber, Ochre and/or White to the mix. Once complete I finished with GW washes of Brown and Sepia. The metal was done the same as Robin's armour.

The Titan containers came from a GW Blood Angel Baal Predator weapon sprue – they're the promethium canisters for the Heavy Flamer side sponsons. I clipped them both out and stuck them back to back before gluing them to their base. I chose a base topper that had a wall on it so that the canisters were protected a little from breaking off.

The painting here was Vallejo Basalt Grey with increasingly White highlights. I added Vallejo Oily Steel for damage and Vallejo Deep Green and Green Fluo for the 'leaks'.

My Riddles were something of a last minute panic. I wasn't sure how I was going to do these and was running out of time. They turned out to be remarkably easy.

I worked out the rough sizes I needed the Question Marks to be and printed a sheet of them at the right scale using Helvetica Bold as the font. I then roughly cut out one and taped it to a piece of 3mm plasticard.

Using my scalpel I stabbed dots through the paper template and into the plastic, following the outline of my printed Helvetica question marks. I then binned my paper template and used clippers to trim as closely as I could to my outline of stabbed marks. Using my scalpel and files I tidied up the shape until I was happy. I hasten to add that the dot at the base of the '?' was included as part of the main bit – it's all one piece.

I pinned the plastic to my base using the same method as my miniatures, then waited for everything to dry.

After a black spray undercoat I basecoated in Matt Black and Vallejo Deep Green. I added multiple highlight layers using the Deep Green then started to add White. Final pure white highlights at key points along the edges finished things off.

I gave the impression of the dot at the bottom of the ? by painting in a horizontal highlight at the right height, with shadow above it.

I still have a loot Objective to build at some point in the future, though not sure where to begin with that one.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Painting The Dynamic Duo

With our Batman tutorial game last weekend now complete, I thought I'd explain how I painted up the Dynamic Duo.

I've made no secret about the fact that I've struggled to do justice to these fantastic models. Batman has been sitting around in a box for over two years and something as straightforward as painting capes (pretty fundamental for superheroes) became a nightmare.

Eventually, after spending some time practicing, everything started to fall into place and I managed to get the Dynamic Duo to a point I was happy with. The style of painting was something of a departure for me. I've always preferred painting dark colours, and my collection shows it, but this took things even further down that route.

As is usual for me (and especially so here) I gave everything a black undercoat. I started (again) with his cloak and cowl, as this had been the most problematic part. I had bought a blue colour specifically for the project as there wasn't a suitable pot in my collection. A 50:50 mix of Army Painter Matt Black and Vallejo Imperial Blue was the base colour and I gradually added more blue to the mix. Long before I reached 100% blue I started to add white instead, until I decided it was light enough. Once I was happy with the highlights I went back into the shadows with (very) watered down Matt Black to make the recesses deeper.

For Batman's bodysuit I followed exactly the same process but used Vallejo Basalt Grey instead of the blue. I probably went a bit lighter with the highlights in this case.

As regards 'where' to paint on the model, I followed a simple rule – the light is shining down directly above Batman's head, straight down. It became easy to figure out where I needed to add highlights by looking down onto the model from where this hypothetical light was coming from – if I couldn't see a particular part of the model, it didn't get a highlight.

Batman's base was custom build a couple of years ago, made from plasticard. I used a Matt Black / Basalt Grey recipe but added a touch of Burnt Umber in there so it was a warm grey, to contrast with Batman's 'cool' outfit. I coated it liberally with both Brown and Black washes (GW) and went back in with some highlights, adding a touch of white to my mix.

Robin turned out to be even more tricky. It was the yellow underside of his cape that caused the issues and in the end I decided to stop messing around with it and move on. He doesn't quite follow the rigid lighting rule as Batman, except in spirit.

To get the yellow to this point I started with a basecoat of GW Skrag Brown (I think), then kept adding GW Yriel Yellow until I had 100% yellow highlight. I then added a little white to take things a step further.

For his body armour I went with GW Mephiston Red and AP Matt Black. The final highlight had a tiny bit of white in it. His gloves were Vallejo Deep Green and AP Matt Black with white added again for the final highlight. Vallejo Oily Steel and Black for his leg/arm armour and all the black parts had a bit of the Basalt Grey added for subtle highlights.

I've just realised that I didn't paint his belt. This should be the same subdued yellow/ochre as Batman's – we don't want it to jump out like his yellow cloak does.

As difficult as these models were to paint for me, I realise that it was my own perfectionism and lack of practice that caused the problems. In the end the experience was really enjoyable and has set the tone for any future Batman models that I paint up.

Any questions please ask!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Batman Tutorial Game

Yesterday saw Bull and I go head to head with our respective BMG crews for a couple of tutorial games to see how the thing played, using his wonderful Fairground terrain. There has been much research, reading and theorising over the past few weeks, but we would finally see it all happen for real on the tabletop.

I sat up till the early hours the night before to make sure I had everything that I needed, all painted and packed up so I wouldn't forget anything. More on the painting in a later blog post.

For the first time (ever, I think) I went into a game pretty clueless of what was going on, so it was Bull who took the lead and explained what we had to do. I had already decided that I had little chance of winning by camping objectives for Victory Points so just went out to test a few theories, try out different actions and have a bit of fun.

First turn Batman blew up a sewer and Lamp Post with his Explosive gel, plunging the area into darkness.

Tick Explosive Gel.

It didn't matter as Joker (who can see in the dark) got to use his "One Shot Gun" anyway but somehow managed to miss.

With that opening salvo resolved the dynamic duo took to the skies, using their Batclaws to scoot up to the top of the Balloon Tower, ready to pounce on the Clowns below as they shuffled towards their objectives.

Robin picked up a couple of VPs by 'solving' Riddles – about the only positive contribution he had all day as it turned out.

Batman executed the plan I had in place all week, dropping in on 'Tristan' clown and knocking the stuffing out of him – who's laughing now?

The game continued with Bull racking up tonnes of VPs by camping the objectives whilst I tried to beat some sense into the clowns, with little success – the dice stayed cold all morning. In the final turn I decided to try and batter the Joker to get some VP, only to be foiled completely… unable to inflict any damage at all. In return Robin was almost killed by an axe.

Bull ran out the big winner, something like 19-2 VP

Game 2 started with this complete nonsense (above image).

In BMG, you deploy your objectives after you deploy your crews, so Bull placed his gas canisters right next to the dynamic duo. This forced me to take Willpower rolls when I activated, or take damage – a couple of dice rolls later my boys had taken blood damage and were on the back foot before I'd moved an inch. Awful rule, but well manipulated by Bull… and so very Joker-like.

Batman managed his second KO of the day with a random Batarang throw, Knife Clown going down like a tonne weight with no idea where the shot came from. In return, Joker managed a hit with his "One Shot Gun" and Batman was on half health, now missing a couple of actions – seriously compromised!

Again, the clowns raced through to claim their objectives while the dynamic duo tried to secure their own objectives (to what end I'm not sure) but decided to kick clown ass instead.

For the second time in one session, Tristan got battered and the duo were back onto Joker, but with similarly ineffective results. Game two ended with a familiar VP scoreline of twenty-something to 3.

So Mr J ran out massive winner on the day, although poor Tristan might not agree. Aside from collecting Objective VPs the henchmen didn't do a lot (something about not hitting barn doors from a foot away?) and even Batman (who was hitting on 3+ and wounding on 3+ most times) struggled.


I have to say that the jury is definitely out at the moment, more games are needed. Not a great start to our BMG careers. Unlike first games of Malifaux and Warmachine/Hordes there was little in the way of excitement and the whole experience felt a little flat. There was no real drama, no bone-crunching action – it felt like there was a 'safety mode' engaged. Did we miss something?

On the plus side, the miniatures are so awesome you can't help but want to play this game. The rich background of the characters (and boyhood memories) gets the imagination fired up and there's an overwhelming excitement going into your first game. The rules all make sense on paper with a lot of scope for adventures.

However, the objective based scenarios are, well… boring to be blunt and not conducive to great adventures at all. It also means that my two characters had no chance to win either game as bodies definitely count. Even if I had camped my objectives, the clowns would have outscored me 7-5 per turn. In addition, neither of my characters can inflict blood damage, meaning I can never 'kill' an enemy (unless I push them off a building). This in turn means less VPs at the end of the game and never being able to tip things in my favour during it – Bull would always have 6 models on the table. I appreciate that this was down to poor crew choice on my part, but I went down a very characterful crew route and was punished for it, badly.

During the game itself there is a lot of housekeeping with all the tokens and action counters. There's almost too much choice for actions at times. Having to decide what your actions will be at the beginning of the turn is a neat idea, but many a time (due to inexperience I guess) I had made poor choices and had counters in the wrong slots, unable to take advantage and in effect wasting turns. The Joker crew's ability to change their minds with counters when activated made life a lot easier for Bull. He could react to situations as individual turns progressed. Not that he really needed to if I'm honest – Bats didn't really trouble him.

The idea of rolling 'to hit' against an opponent's defence stat (without taking into account your own character's skill) seems rather odd now that I've played it. Similarly, rolling to match your own strength stat 'to wound' seems odd as well. It all contributed to a feeling of disconnection.

It didn't help that both Bull and I rolled terribly poor dice all day and this had a massive effect on the games. Both Batman and Robin were terribly ineffective in close combat and even the Joker managed to miss with his gun and poisoned knife. To be fair, upon reflection, Robin was a complete waste of space, not able to inflict much damage on a good day, and with no obvious strengths. I thought together, my two characters would be almost unstoppable in melee as a team, but the reality was far from.

Maybe it was the dice again, but leader vs leader fights don't seem to be a good use of your characters. In games like Malifaux, having your two biggest guns go up against each other invariably leads to drama and lots of excited shouting – do or die – not so here. Being wounded and losing actions was terribly debilitating for my leader in game 2, but normally the leaders have so many tricky traits up their sleeves it's a waste of time to try and take them down, or so it would seem now.

The Batclaws were awesome. They worked just as I thought they would and created a great (theoretical) tactic for both games. They also provided (for me) the one real bit of movie inspiring action: Batman swooping down on an unsuspecting foe, then swooping away the following turn with the henchman face down in the dirt. The batarang was also great, but I didn't like the idea of Batman sitting up high being a sniper – it's just not Batman – he needs to be in the thick of it mashing faces, then disappear into the darkness!

Struggling to see the point of sewers. Sounds great in theory as a movement mechanism, but having a model not contributing for a minimum of 3 turns in a 6 turn game is madness. The lamp posts were ok, but we kept forgetting about it being dark!

Yet, the characters and models are so superb that we have to give it a second try. I will go back to the drawing board and try adding more bodies in the hope that things will become more balanced… and fun. Alas, until Knight Models bring out more creative scenarios (or we make up our own) the Dynamic Duo will have to be retired – they're just not up to the job!

Maybe the Gotham PD will prevail next time?!

To be continued…

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