Thursday, 19 September 2013

Holiday Observations – Ireland

Arrived back home this afternoon after a lovely windswept, rain-sodden, sun-tinged week in the Emerald Isle. It's one of those places you always feel you should go and visit, being so close and all, especially if you have family from there (like most of the US if the visitors were anything to go by – met more yanks than Irish).

I'll be showing some photos that I took in a later post, when I get back to the gaming board, as I've brought lots of inspiration back with me. However, as a stop-gap I thought I would highlight a couple of things I learned or observed while I was there. Just my opinion – feel free to disagree ;)

First of all, living in Kent, it's only an hour away on a plane to Dublin. That is insane – we were in the queue at Hertz to collect the car for longer than our flight (which says as much about Hertz as it does the travel times… but don't get me started on those cowboys).

It's not cheap. For some reason I thought it would be one of the cheaper holidays we've taken in recent years but without going overboard (aside from a massage treatment after a day of walking) we manage to spend a disturbing amount of money without realising it. Time to tighten the belt. I'm sure if you know people over there who can navigate you to the more cost effective places to eat, drink and visit, you could come away with more cash left in your pocket.

Driving there is virtually the same as driving in the UK, but with much less traffic. The motorways were only two lanes for the most part but the traffic (once away from Dublin) was like an early hours Sunday morning drive. The main roads have a large 'hard shoulder' that doubles up as a lane for slow traffic which is genius and meant no long hold ups behind lorries or tractors. The only thing that stumped me a little was everything from speed to distances was in kilometres.

The weather. Yes it rained, just like everyone said it would. However, it was also very sunny. Because of the high winds where we were the weather was very changeable… I'm talking minutes between a heavy downpour and cloudless blue sky then back to rain. Incredible thing to watch. It meant you had to be prepared, but as we were it was not a problem. One taxi driver described it as four seasons in four hours and he wasn't far wrong.

The people. Maybe it's because we're in an economic downturn and people have a lot more to think about these days, but the image of the ever-friendly, chatty Irish man/woman beaming… no. It was no different to being in the UK. People were just as miserable, with a few exceptions. Given a lot of people we spoke to were in the service/tourism industry I found this surprising. As I said, there were a few exceptions… and the exceptions were exceptional to be sure. That's not to say that they're not passionate – we had a day of demonstrations in Dublin yesterday that spilled into lots of pushing and shoving with the Garda (police)… and that was the pensioners complaining about cuts. I overheard one guy say to a Garda that people are just very angry at the moment in the city.

The countryside. I know they call it the Emerald Isle but I was blown away by how beautiful the place is. Looking through the photos we took, it seems like I've ramped up the saturation on the greens, but the trees, grass and mountains were such vivid colours it took my breath away. The landscape is reminiscent of the Lake District, in the North of England, but a Wizard of Oz version of it. We spent a couple of days in the National Park near Killarney and it was beautiful. This time last year we were at Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park and I couldn't get over what a spiritual place it was – this place gave me a very similar feeling… one that puts you in your place and makes you appreciate these lovely environments.

So, that (in a nutshell) was Ireland for me. Aside from Dublin we only really did the south. It was not quite what I expected but it was a very beautiful place and I'm so glad we went. I would like to go back at some point a do Northern Ireland as well as the more northern and western parts of Eire.

Normal service on the blog should resume next week!

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Malifaux: New Rasputina Plastic Starter

No more developments on the Gaming Board as we're in Ireland this week.

However, I thought I'd do an "inside the box" blog post – this time it's the Children of December starter set for Malifaux 2nd Edition.

I have to admit that my keen interest in Malifaux stalled around the time they switched from metal to plastic models, coinciding with book 4. I noticed that the new plastics felt very delicate compared to the metal models and wasn't convinced. My online GenCon purchases last year sealed it and I've never looked back.

When Malifaux 2nd Edition was announced my interest stirred and when I saw the imagery for the new crew box sets I was keen to see more. Shinybloodyitis struck at GenCon time last month and I ordered some bits, including the Rasputina "Children of December" plastic set.

The bits on the sprues seem very much as I remembered them a year ago – fragile – except the re-imagined Golem of course who really is a monster. The Gamin are very thin and delicate, not sure how much abuse they will take as their arms and legs are little bigger than the metal pins I use on larger models.

Rasputina came in six pieces and went together very easily. I'd be interested to see this model side by side with the original Raspy and I'm sure she's tiny compared to the metal version.

Next I decided to tackle the Golem. He was made up of 10+ pieces spread over a couple of sprues. Whilst he's a reasonably straightforward model to build it wasn't always obvious which piece went where – the picture doesn't help much and I was left with a piece over that seemed to have no home. Eventually I got him finished and he truly is a beast.

The Gamin were easy builds though just as spindly as predicted. The Wendigo, hmmm – I don't like the fact that he's got another model on his base that he's beating on (don't like the idea of a totem model being taller than its master) so I may clip him free from his victim and model him on some rocks instead.

The plastic is of good quality and there were minimal mold lines on the pieces. Very nice kit, just have to learn how to play the new Malifaux!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

This Time Last Year… Joey Berry!

This time last year I was in the middle of my Tale of 3 Painters project.

The big event, prior to auctioning everything off for charity, was a trip down to Plymouth to visit You Tube starlet Joey Berry.

However, the day before our planned meet I set off on my trip and decided to take in the sights of Westham and Swindon 'on the way' to meet my fellow painters Michael Awdry and Andy Walker… got them to sign a Malifaux rulebook to boot. Great day, great guys, silly journey

The following day I got to meet Joey and we did a video interview about the models, the project and the auction. We were also meant to have a game of Malifaux at her local club, using the charity painted miniatures, but the club owners decided (the night before) that they couldn't open up as they'd promised so we missed out.

Instead Joey and myself found a nice quayside pub to sit outside and had a chat for a couple of hours. Before long it was time to start out on the trek back home.

Joey has now become an international superstar, doing You Tube reports from all over the world, as well as working at Creative Assembly. She now lives in Kent, not 40 minutes away (why didn't I wait a year!).

The auction itself did ok. We had some amazing contributors including Fenris Games, Firestorm Games, SnM Stuff, Element Games, KR Multicase and, of course, Wyrd Miniatures. I still can't quite get over the generosity. There were other companies that snubbed our requests… you know who you are! lol

I think choosing Malifaux as the game to paint models for limited the potential bidder audience but made for a great painting experience. The whole auction package went for over £500 in the end which was a nice finish to a long and testing project.

Still not getting the urge to do another one anytime soon, but never say never.

More gaming table posts next time…

+++++++++ Quick note for Jules81 +++++++++

Jules asked earlier this week about the 'potato printing' technique I used to create cobbles on my Malifaux board. Here goes…

pavement stamp

I took a piece of foamboard and cut into it to create a pavement/sidewalk 'stamp' (above).

cobble road stamp

I then lathered it in emulsion paint and pressed it onto the board surface to create a pavement/sidewalk print.

finished road

By repeating this process with different shaped stamps I created a crossroads with pavement/sidewalk for my board. By experimenting with the amount of paint you put on the foamboard stamp you get a more or less distressed pattern with your print.

Why potato printing? As a kid in school we used to do the same thing with half a potato – cut a shape into it and use paint to create repeating patterns or shapes.

That's it – so easy!