Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Sins to Inspire

As a graphic designer and wannabe digital artist, I'm always on the lookout for things that inspire me – artwork in particular. DeviantArt is a daily pitstop but things cross my desk from other sources too.

Whilst doing a google search for a particular image I discovered this amazing series of "Seven Deadly Sins" by Daniel Kamarudin – the Durrrrain – and in turn found his tumblr and DA pages. I was so inspired I thought I'd share these with you.

the Durrrrain at DeviantArt
the Durrrrain on Tumblr


Sunday, 20 April 2014

Clash of the Big Hitters

Yesterday saw the Blood Bowl debut for Mr Awdry's South Coast Saurus team against my own untested Plagueis Contagion Nurgle team.

When I arrived at Awdry Towers, Michael and Bull were already in the middle of a last minute training session. I have to admit that I was cautious yet confident going into this game. Last time we played Blood Bowl I had found my zone and things were really starting to click with all my teams, however, that was over a month ago and I was struggling to remember the basics as I unboxed my models.

The game started with an ominous Kick Off Table roll – Pitch Invasion. Luckily I only had one player stunned, whilst the Saurus were down two!

I kicked to the Lizardmen and the game got underway. The halfway line soon became an impenetrable wall as the two teams literally went head to head. All my months of learning had gone out of the window and I was resorting to newbie tactics, desperate to down some of the Saurus big hitters.

It didn't help that the dice were definitely not on my side and I quickly used up my two re-rolls. With Bull coaching him from the sidelines, suggesting various moves and combinations, it wasn't long before a Skink broke through the line with the ball and raced into the endzone.

1–0 to the Saurus

The Lizardmen kicked to me and I was feeling quite confident that I could score before half time. The Kick Off Table roll went against me again, as Michael got a free re-roll. Not to worry, I set my plan in motion but my Beast of Nurgle continued his non-participation stance and my plan started to unravel.

My Pestigor went for the ball, to move it out of danger, but was unable to pick it up. A skink broke through the lines, followed by a Saurus and before I knew it he had grabbed the ball and was in the endzone. Much laughter and cheering followed from the coaches on the other side of the table and I could see my chance of an opening win slipping away.

2–0 to the Saurus

Half time brought some respite – and a bacon sarnie or two – and a chance to gather my thoughts. I would be receiving next half and could grab a couple of scores if I was cunning and ruthless enough.

By the end of the first half I had managed to injure not only the enormous Kroxigor, but also a Saurus, drastically reducing the oppositions hitting power. This would be the key to my comeback.

The Kick Off table gave Michael a free Blitz turn, but the Pestigor grabbed the ball with intent and ran straight up the middle to a gap that was being created. I ensured all the Saurus were tied up before he burst through (somewhat alone) with only a skink or two to stop him.

I was desperate to score as quickly as I could but the dice were against me and it took until the fifth turn for me to stroll into the endzone. Not a lot of time left to grab an equaliser, but do-able.

2–1 to the Saurus

By this point Bull has left the match for a prior engagement so Michael was left to his own devices. I was hoping to seize an opportunity from his lack of experience and the inevitable mistakes that follow.

I set up my team in a blitz formation, hoping to charge down the ball and force a turnover. Michael decided on a refused flank tactic so I decided to take a chance and kick short to the opposite side. The dice were kind and the ball stopped 5 squares from the half way line, with no models between it and my Pestigor. The Kick Off table granted Michael another free move but I was confident that there was nothing to stop me grabbing the ball and getting an equaliser.

I have to say, risky as it was, the dice were kind and Michael's play worked a charm. His skink grabbed the ball and ran over to another skink handing the ball to him. This second skink then ran down the line behind the Saurus refused flank and squeezed through a gap.

Despite my best efforts I had nobody back with enough speed to get to the ball carrier before he scored.

3–1 to the Saurus

My final turn saw me try and inflict as much damage as possible but my dice were done for the day.

End of the Game.

Great game after months of build up. A crushing defeat for my Nurgle in the end but we walked away untouched and with a new skill for my Pestigor (Sure Hands perhaps?!). My Beast of Nurgle also managed to get two casualties so he is sitting nicely on 4 points.

Thanks to Michael for being an awesome host as always, and a gentleman in victory. His next game will be more trying as he will be missing his Krox and a Saurus, but he too came away with a new skill for one of the skinks.

Stay tuned.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Salute 2014 and Beyond

I've now had 48 hours to recover from another great day at Salute. This year was a little different as, not only did I have a shopping list with me, I was also going to give away some free miniatures.

Unfortunately wearing a black t-shirt with a rather small logo on the front and back was not enough to catch many people's eye, so I came home with a few more than anticipated – next year I may have to go all-out cosplay!

Yet, at the end of the day the main reason for the visit to the big smoke was to have a good day and that is what we had. I picked up a few miniatures for my next 'secret' project – my wife wanted to know why I'd only bought models of skinny women – though not everything on my list was available so I've done some more ordering since getting home.

I also managed to get some decent storage for my X-Wing models – no longer do I have to fear for their safety. Again, since returning home, I've ordered a similar box for all my Blood Bowl models which currently have no home. These cardboard containers are pretty good for storing in the attic short-term – they're cheap and cheerful.

I did bump into quite a few people on my way around the hall. I also missed a few people who either didn't cross my path or didn't go this year. It's a pity something of this scale is only once a year. I would have thought there was room for another later in the year and Excel is such a great place to be at (for me at least).

I also got to meet fellow blogger Kyle from Mr Lee's Painting Eporium. I've been a big fan of Kyle's work for some time now and a regular visitor to his blog (and visa versa). We had a good old chat about 'stuff' and was a great end to the day. Cheers Kyle.

So with this year's show out of the way there is no rest for the wicked… or me. This weekend myself and Bull are driving down to Awdry Towers to pull Michael (kicking and screaming) into the world of Blood Bowl.

I managed to get my Nurgle Warriors (above) painted last week, but still have the rest of the team to complete before Saturday. I managed to get these guys done in an afternoon with Game of Thrones on in the background. Took me back to the old days of painting before a tournament – it's amazing the results you can achieve when you have no time to waste and have to make quick decisions.

More of that after the weekend. I just have to sit and wait for all my parcels to arrive!

Thursday, 10 April 2014


Yes folks, that's right – Free Miniatures at Salute indeed!

After their successful demos at Adepticon last weekend, the guys from Anvil Eight Games have sent me a box full of Aetherium miniatures to give away at Salute 2014 on Saturday.

So how do I get hold of one of these FREE AETHERIUM MINIATURES?!!

Myself and Bull will be wandering around Salute, wearing (rather oversized) Aetherium/Anvil Eight T-shirts like the one above. If you spot one of us, simply come over and ask – nicely – for your free miniature.

There are 50 miniatures available on the day, no more than 1 per person and it's strictly first come first served – once they're gone, they're gone!

Also, please wait till we're inside the hall – I don't fancy getting mugged while I'm queuing up outside, having some lunch or (god forbid) in the bathroom!

The models are unpainted and you'll have to find a suitable base for them – but we'll all be at Salute so that shouldn't be a problem!

A note to remember – these are prototype resin casts, so are likely to still have a fair amount of release agent on them. You will need to wash them thoroughly in warm soapy water, else your paint won't stick!

But what do they look like?

It's a total random collection, and the one you get will be chosen randomly out of the bag – you don't get to choose, sorry. The models shown just below are probably the most common ones available.

Gimme more!

If you want to see more of the amazing Aetherium miniatures that will be available later this year, have a look at the Aetherium Kickstarter campaign.

You can see more about the game and my experiences working on it here.

And finally, if you want to see some of the graphics I created for the project, including the Adepticon exhibition banners and pages from the rulebook, have a look at my Facebook page – and don't forget to Like!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Aetherium The Game…

(or Designing A New Tabletop Game – part 2)

Just over a month ago I talked a little about my role on a project called Aetherium. I went into a little detail about the game, but now it's no longer a secret project – it's been unleashed!

The Aetherium Kickstarter went live on Tuesday and has been doing solid business in its opening couple of days. The guys from Anvil 8 Games will be at Adepticon this weekend to showcase the game in all its glory to the ravening horde of visitors.

I thought I would dedicate a little time today to those of us who won't make it to Adepticon. I'm going to give you a few sneak peeks and offer an overview of some of the mechanics of the game.

To play a game, each player first chooses a faction – Axiom or Nanomei. The Axiom (often identified by their black and orange) are the state, ordered and unflinching; the Nanomei (often sporting dark red) are the freedom fighters and anarchists.

With that decided players need to decide on the make up of their army (or collective). They need to choose an Avatar (hero) to lead, up to two Functions (champions) and up to two units of Subroutines (troops). In the starter box set these are chosen for you, but as your miniature collection grows you will have access to a wide variety of options in all three slots.

By way of an example, fledgling Nanomei fighters will find the following in their starter box:

And what do these models look like when painted? Something like this…

So you've chosen your models, but what do they do?

Each Avatar, Function and Subroutine has a Data Card. Continuing the example of the Riot Grlz above, their Data Card looks like this…

The front of the card shows the faction, name and type of the unit in question. To the top-right you will see a CS (cycle speed) value and an OC (over clock) value. The CS works like action points and shows how often a program can act during its activation, the OC represents how far beyond its normal CS value this unit can go (under certain circumstances).

The middle of the card is devoted to the unit's attack profile. The symbols represent the dice rolls required to make a hit, the numbers represent how much damage you do depending upon how many symbols you match in your roll. Each weapon also has a special ability that is triggered should you roll a disruption symbol (cog).

At the bottom of the card is the unit's Stability Grid – its wound counter. In this case, because there are three Riot Grlz in this particular Subroutine, the grid shows three distinct areas and how many wounds each model has. For individuals such as Avatars and Functions, the grid would be a single colour.

The reverse of the card shows some more abilities that the unit has. All subroutines are made up of multiple models and most of them will have a Coordination skill. This is a special ability that kicks in when the unit works together.

.EXE are special skills. Some are passive whilst others require the unit to spend some of its available CS in order to activate the skill in question. Avatars and some Functions have multiple .EXE abilities available to them.

Finally, we have the Safeguard. This is like a defensive trigger that kicks in when the unit is attacked or targeted.

But what about the playing area?

The game is played upon several Schema tiles that in turn sit upon a Common Server grid. The image above shows the Server set up with one large, two medium and three small Schema tiles arranged upon it. Players battle their way across the schema towards whatever objective the current Operation dictates.

Units have the ability to manipulate the playing area by spending accumulated RAM points (the number and type of units you have dictates how much RAM your collective has available) to move or rotate Schema tiles across the Server. The bigger the tile, the more points it will cost to move.

But why would you?

Below we have a prime example. The unit of Praetorians (far right) can't get to TOV (left) because not only is there a car blocking the way, but also because there is a gap of Quantum Noise between the two Schemas – they're not touching. So they decide to spend some RAM to manipulate the playing area to their advantage.

First of all they spend a big chunk of RAM to rotate the Schema on which they are standing.

Then they spend some additional RAM to move the same Schema a single square to the left so that the two schemas are now touching.

As you can see, the Praetorians are now in a perfect position to activate and attack TOV.

Of course, this ability can be used as much to hinder your opponent as aid your own units and means that the playing area is in a constant state of flux. As a consequence, so must your tactics.

And that's all you're getting from me for now. If you want to know more go to the Anvil Eight Games website and remember to visit the guys at Adepticon from 3rd April (tomorrow!!) and get your FREE MINIATURE.

Don't forget to have a look at the Aetherium Kickstarter. Lots more information there, videos, an overview of the background story, lots of photos of miniatures, oh my!!

Please note that all the imagery you see here is the sole property of Anvil Eight Games.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Salute 2014 Incoming…

We're just over a fortnight away from this year's Salute show. It's the one show that I will go out of my way to attend and the trip has become something of a tradition now in April. I was wondering what might be on the agenda for me this year.

Let's be honest, I need more models like the Sahara needs more sand. I have a backlog that has slowly grown back to pre-marriage levels and even Ebay isn't helping.

But that's not the point. The point of going to a show like this is to try and bag a deal or two, save some postage costs on things you were going to buy anyway, or dredge your way through the hall picking up anything that whispers "buy me" along the way.

This year I have nothing that I am desperate to buy, no shopping list per se. So with that in mind, what am I looking forward to seeing?

Having recently pledged on the World of Twilight Kickstarter I'm looking forward to having another look at the game. I saw the game originally at a previous Salute, loved the unique style of miniatures and was intrigued. Nothing ever came of that other than a PDF rule download. I've always admired the one-man-band approach behind the game, so when the Kickstarter appeared I decided to show my appreciation (and receive a few more minis that will join the backlog).

I always remember at Salute time, how much I like the WarmaHordes game. Unfortunately, because we don't play it anymore, for the rest of the year I forget this fact. I will probably end up buying a couple of solos or light warbeasts for my Legion of Everblight army. I still have several yet to be painted (or even built) but this game is probably my achilles heel – Cryx and Everblight especially. One day I will play it properly.

Another game that has been flitting on and off my radar is Bolt Action. I grew up with plastic toy soldiers and I enjoyed my time playing Flames of War. This game would seem to be a great nod to my youth playing at a scale I'm more comfortable with. Whether I could face painting up another army for another game is a different matter, but I'm intrigued enough to peek at the rules.

With the Salute theme this year being D-Day, it's more than likely that the free mini will be related and useable in Bolt Action, so maybe this is the springboard I need.

I can't ignore the fact that Blood Bowl is still the game of the hour. As much as I have all the teams I need, more than enough Block Dice and accessories, I can't help but expect to come home with something related to our current addiction. Be it more dice, star players or random sideline character models, I think your money's safe on this bet.

Of course I'm looking forward to seeing some great demo games and amazing tables. Previous years have always provided some inspiration for the following gaming year and it's great to see what other folks are doing. I'm looking forward to catching up with the guys at Critical Mass Games, who I have to admit I have neglected recently. I know they have been working away on new stuff so look forward to seeing the results.

Last, but by no means least we have Aetherium. The guys from Anvil Eight won't be at Salute, they'll have just finished Adepticon over in the States and will be up to their necks in Kickstarter goodness – starting on Monday 31st March. I have been working hard for the last month on the visual side of the Aetherium project, trying to get the guys everything they need for a quality game and a successful Kickstarter and game launch. I won't lie, at times it has been brutal with the long hours – hence this blog's been quiet lately – but at the same time a joy to be a part of. I'm very proud of my contributions, most of which the public won't have seen yet.

Why mention it here? One day I hope that Aetherium will make an appearance at Salute but in the meantime I will be flying the flag with a branded T-shirt as I stroll around this year's show.
Keep a look out!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Painting The Nurgle Team…

After a successful semi-debut on Sunday with the Nurgle team, and inspired by a day of painting, I thought I would spend a little time adding some colour to my rotten players.

It was always the intention for this team to be a quick turn around in terms of painting, however, I am still experimenting with colours to some extent. Here's a run down of the process to date…

I started off – a couple of weeks ago – putting together the team on larger 30mm bases and using a bit of Polyfilla as texture. The Beast, as I discussed, is a resin piece from Kromlech; the Warriors and Pestigor are recycled 40k/Fantasy miniatures; the Rotters a combination of Mantic Zombies and Chaos Marauder bitz.

Next I got out the greenstuff and added it to every model. The Beast needed nothing more than a bit of filling. The Pestigor and Warriors had a few Nurgle extras added to have them looking the part a bit more. Meanwhile the Rotters had extensive work done, filling and bulking out parts of the models. Nothing complicated here and very quick to achieve decent results.

Once the greenstuff had cured, the models are spray basecoated in batches using the Army Painter Necrotic Flesh spray. A couple of passes later they look like they've been dipped in melted white chocolate!

Seeing the team in their creamy base colour – eurgh! – was enough to inspire me to move on as quickly as possible. I defaulted to my old routine of lots of inks and washes.

Every model had an initial wash of Army Painter Green Tone, then several coats of Citadel's Camoshade. In fact, they had so many coats of this last colour that (as you can see) many parts of the models got flooded to almost black! Still they looked a hell of a lot more like Nurgle miniatures.

I gave an exposed areas of flesh a wash of the watered down Necrotic Flesh to offset the flooding of the Camoshade. This was then given a couple of thin washes of Druchii Violet. This added some warmth to the model, helping to offset all the green. Armour was given a quick coat of Knarloc Green with a couple of highlights.

…and that's how things stand at the moment. The armour will get more Camoshade attention, the flesh some highlights and details. I have no doubt I'll still sink a lot of time into the Beast as he's just such a fantastic model.

The need to be ready for just after Salute, so stay tuned for a final team photo!

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