26 October 2011

Time to relax, and an update

Things are winding down here on the blog for the next week or so.

We're away on holiday in the Lake District for a few days, but more importantly away from work, and life in general, which is burning me out. There will be no internet in our cottage there so for the first time in… ever, I will be cut off from the rest of the world. Just us, a corner shop, 5 pubs and a Michelin star restaurant in the village which will be great! There is a minor pit-stop in Wigan on the way to meet up with the family for lunch – this may or may not add to the stress level, we will see.

I've been desperate to get some painting time in but end up building something new instead for the blog or the Malcontent project. I was considering having a few posts on a scheduled publish but decided I didn't need the extra work – there's nothing ongoing that can't wait.

Had another game of Malifaux last night against Rasputina. I have been mixing up my Guild team for the last few weeks, introducing the Guardian who is causing Fugs a few problems. This week the construct teamed up with Sonnia, Sam and Nino plus a couple of Mercs and the totem. Raspy brought her new toy too – Snow Storm. We rolled Shared Distract which made for a lot of fun.

Highlights included the Convict Gunslinger getting multiples of Trigger Happy against Sam, causing a lot of wounds and finishing him off with a Red Joker – not sure there was much left after that. This was swiftly followed by Nino Headshotting Hans, and having just blown all his cards against Sam, Fugs had nothing to discard so Hans died.

Having charged into combat with the Guardian and Totem, Snow Storm (with a Gamin in tow) was having a field day but couldn't quite finish things off. Sonnia stepped in with her Runesword and killed the big man who exploded in great style taking out the Guardian, Totem and Gamin in one go – that's how to clear the room – only Sonnia left standing. In the final turn Rasputina had frozen Sonnia in place unable to get across the halfway mark of the board for her points and standing within a few inches of halfway herself. Unfortunately Fugs got a rush of blood to the head and had two shots at a nearby Witchling (which were both dispelled by Sonnia) only to realise that his final AP would only get him 3" nearer to my side of the table – 1" short!!…gutted.

We've got some time to go away and contemplate the outcome and conjure up new ideas.

22 October 2011

Building Avatar Kirai: part 2

Post number 150 on the-dark-templar blog continues the Avatar Kirai build.

Read Part 1 here

I drilled pin holes, and fitted pins, into the shoudlers of the monster, filling the excess to ensure it was a solid fit (above). I had also started to fill in the gaps where the monster and Kirai parts met – help give the illusion that the monster is coming out of Kirai.

I finished off grinding off the sleeve hems and drilled pin holes in the arms ready to attach. The pin was slightly out on one side so the monster's left arm was a little low. I added some additional greenstuff when I filled in the gaps and everything looked good.

I also drilled a pin hole and fitted a pin to Kirai's outstretched hand. Given the (relatively) tiny scale of the arm I had to be careful.

I attached her arm and started to add more greenstuff around the base of the monster. At this stage – aside for some greenstuff on Kirai's arm – the model istelf is complete.

The only thing left to do is attached the model to my custom Bamboo base and add details. As I've mentioned previously, I will be casting up the 50mm Bamboo master (once complete) not only to make it available as part of my Malcontent project but also to give a more solid base on which to pin this model, just like my Avatar Sonnia.

19 October 2011

Critical Mass Games – Hiring Cheap Mercenaries!

I've known the guys at Critical Mass Games for many years. They're based in my hometown of Wigan in the north west of England, but ironically I didn't meet them until I had moved 250 miles south to Kent. They have always been what I considered 'real gamers', the kind I spoke about in my Malifaux intro a few weeks back that don't get hung up on individual games or companies and will pretty much play anything if it looks like fun.

So it wasn't (much of) a surprise when I discovered that Craig and Dale had set up Critical Mass Games and were developing rules and figures for a 15mm sci-fi tabletop wargame. I have seen (from a distance) the company and game system develop and grow, visited them several times at the Salute show in London, and got sneak peeks and behind the scenes exclusives whenever I visited Wigan.

Being a graphic designer by trade I've been eager to help them out when I can. Whilst most of the groundwork was already being done by their artist Rob, I've managed to add my own thumbprint in there by helping to develop their logo and packaging and (eventually) the new all singing and dancing rulebook.

In addition to creating their own rules they have tied in with Robin Fitton's 15mm Gruntz skirmish rules system, which gives their fantastic miniatures even more application. I mean, how cool are some of these Mercenary miniatures?!

Talking of which, the Critical Mass Games website is running a 20% SALE on the entire Mercenary line of figures at the moment, so it is an ideal opportunity to pick up some of these cool minis. All bias aside, I am looking at the possibility of adding some unique looking totems to my Malifaux crews – you don't have to only use them for 15mm games!

You can find the CMG website at http://www.criticalmassgames.com

Their full line of Mercenaries can be found here, although I strongly recommend you browse the entire site; they have some great vehicles, building and terrain and I know for a fact that the casting quality of these models is fantastic! Just ask Doc Bungle!

16 October 2011

SELWG 2011 – Bushido!!!

Myself and Fugs made the trip over to Crystal Palace in South East London to the SELWG show. As I mentioned in a previous post, I used to be a member of this club and it was funny to see the same faces doing the same things (or not) as past events.

This was Fug's first ever wargaming show and I thought it would be a gentle introduction as it would be mostly historical stuff so he wouldn't get to full frothing factor until Salute next year. I was hoping there would be odd game of Malifaux and the opportunity to pick up some new bits. As for myself I was mostly looking out for terrain and some basing gear.

It was well and truly historically orientated, almost to the point of excluding everything else. There were bits of Games Workshop gear dotted around, but nothing comprehensive (I was looking for Citadel Woods to no avail). There was no Infinity to be found and a couple of traders with token Malifaux stock, no demo games. Even Warmachine/Hordes was difficult to find – this was definitely a historical event.

However, one trader stepped in to save the day for us and that was the Bushido guys! I wasn't expecting to see them, but it was great to see their stuff, watch a demo game and chat to them about upcoming bits. The painting on their stand was at a whole other level to the rest of the show, and I was sorely tempted to pick up some of their figures. Bushido is 32mm, so the same as Malifaux and they do have some lovely models in their ever expanding range.

One thing they did talk through with us was their prototype building. The intention is for it to be modular and reversible, so the same kit could create a small village of unique buildings. Very inspirational stuff.

Their demo board was also very inspirational (apologies for the blurred photography) and have given me lots of ideas for Kirai orientated terrain!!

15 October 2011

Building Avatar Sonnia Criid: part 4

Read Part 3 here

At the end of the last installment I had finally pinned Sonnia onto the dragon, now I had to make it look like she was breathing fire!

I added a long pin, glued in place at the resin fire end. The other end I rested on Sonnia's bottom lip and secure with a spot of glue. This gave me the frame on which to (re)build the flame spout.

I fleshed out the shape of the flames roughly in greenstuff, with the intention of adding more detailed sculpting later. I paid particular attention at this stage to make it look like the fire was coming out of Sonnia's mouth, and to cover all evidence of the long metal pin.

When I went back later I added small amounts of greenstuff at the lower parts of the new spout to add shape and some texture. At this point I decided to call it a day – model complete.

However, looking at the photos now it still looks a little awkward so I MAY add a little more greenstuff tomorrow to help define the shape of the flame spout more. Then again, once I've slept on it, I may not.


How do I feel about the model now it is built?
How do I feel the build went?
Is there anything I would do differently?

I think the model is fantastic. Now it is built I'm very eager to get it undercoated and painted – but that's a whole other set of blog posts. The beginning of the build (ie. the dragon) went together quite well. The individual pieces didn't match up exactly and a lot of greenstuff was needed but, to be honest, you have to expect some of that in a model this large and complex and cast in different materials.

Having said that, the model is fundamentally flawed in one area – there is no obvious or natural place for Sonnia to go. No peg or socket to indicate where the sculptor intended her to be positioned and this is something of a double-edged sword. For the advanced modeller it gives you a certain freedom to put her where you want to and go from there, however, for your average gamer this freedom will pose a problem and I know many who will be afraid of building this model as a consequence.

For me the problems started with the Sonnia figure from the get-go. The arms don't have an obvious way to go and I had to find reference images online to see what it should look like before I got it right. At the time I felt like an idiot but with hindsight this was inevitable without a lucky guess or reference. Similarly the position, angle and shape of the resin fire spout meant it was almost impossible to get Sonnia at this eventual angle without some major surgery – followers of this series of posts will have seen the traumas I went through to get her looking right.

At the end of the day, despite going 'around the houses' I am very happy about how this model turned out. All I would say to someone else looking to build it is learn from my mistakes. I would also reiterate that this model does allow you some freedom with positioning, so go with what feels right for you – you always have greenstuff to patch up the gaps!

14 October 2011

SELWG show this Sunday!

I discovered last night that it's the SELWG show this weekend.

I used to be a member of the South East London Wargames Group and attend this show as a staff member, usually on the Bring-and-Buy stall. This will be the first time I go as a punter!

This weekend's show is open from 10am to 4pm on Sunday and being held at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre. See advert below or visit the SELWG website.

10 October 2011

Building Avatar Sonnia Criid: part 3

Read Part 2a here

I spent some time adding greenstuff…well, pretty much everywhere to be honest. The various pieces of the dragon were out by up to 2mm in some places so a lot of attention had to be paid to this. I also added greenstuff to Sonnia's shoulders, now her arms were on the right way!

I was struggling to find a satisfactory place to pin Sonnia so I tried a different tack. I removed the "cigar" pin I'd previously added to her mouth (slightly squashing her nose in the process – a trip to the plastic surgeon is now on the cards!) and simply tried to find a solid angle to pin her to the dragon's neck – I would worry about the fire spout later else I would never finish this model.

Looking at my reference image from the previous post I concluded that the only place that could hold a decent pin was the back of her head as it was snug against the dragon's neck. This was added and her ladyship was finally glued in place! I had trimmed a little off the dragon's chin to accommodate Sonnia's hand, and I added a little superglue here too.

I trimmed more of the fire spout away and drilled a hole in anticipation of the next – final – stage.

Read Part 4 here

08 October 2011

Building Avatar Kirai: part 1

I was canny enough to purchase Avatar Kirai during GenCon weekend. It was the only mini that I was interested in, available at that time, that would not go on general release until 2012 (according to the Wyrd forums).

Although I have no plans to game with my Kirai crew until the new year, I wanted to give this model a go after the lessons learned from building Avatar Sonnia Criid recently. This will be a slow burn, partly due to not needing it till next year, but also because I am still in the process of creating a 50mm Bamboo resin base for the model that matches the bases for the rest of my crew.

Using a reference photo from the net (above) to help me with positioning the various pieces I began. Taking the collapsed Kirai figure I glued the psycho Ikiryo into place. No pinning at this point. This gave me a footprint for creating my bamboo base, so I knew what space I had to play with, add detail, etc.

With the base underway I returned to the model. I clipped off the peg on the monster's neck and pinned the head into place. This would do for now.

I turned my attention to the arms. I don't know about you but the idea that the apparition has well-finished ends to the sleeves is silly. This thing is meant to be evil and highly unlikely (in my mind) to instill fear in a well-tailored garment.

I set to with the dremel, grinding off the hem of the sleeve. I will go back later and make the edges more ragged, but with the limited time I had today this will have to do for now.

Read Part 2 here

06 October 2011

Building Avatar Sonnia Criid: part 2a

Read Part 2 here

I know I said in the last post that, regarding Sonnia's arms being the wrong way round, "I don't think it really matters in this instance", but that wasn't true. I have a perfectionist streak in me and the whole arm situation was bugging me all of yesterday and last night. This morning I decided to do something about it before I left for work.

After double-checking my reference image (above) I re-positioned the arms to match.

As you can see the fit is now much better – which makes sense – and the model does sit better against the dragon. It means I can pin Sonnia against the resin neck of the dragon, which will ensure she is as secure as she can be.

There is a definitive guide for anyone building this in the future and coming across the same arm-related confusion – Coat cuffs pointing up and thumbs pointing down!

Being the perfectionist, I was quite annoyed at myself for taking three attempts to get this right – how hard can it be to stick arms on a model?! However, in my defence I have to say without a visual reference it was not very straightforward. Bottom line is it is now correct, I can chill out and carry on with the rest of the build.

Read Part 3 here

05 October 2011

Building Avatar Sonnia Criid: part 2

Read Part 1 here

At the end of part 1 I had all but completed the fire dragon – just the horns to add.

I'll hold my hand up now and say I was lazy. I decided not to pin them, just glue them into position. I filed the ends free of excess metal and opened up the holes on the head but they weren't a great fit. Deep down I'm convinced they will break off at some point, however when I tested them yesterday they seemed pretty solid, so what do I know.

On to Sonnia herself. She is a very delicate model to say the least – reminds me of some of Rackham's females from Confrontation with tiny, tiny feet. Her arms were separate and it's taking a while to work out which arm should be on which side. I have pinned them on twice and I've discovered this morning it's still wrong. The problem is that they are twisted and at an unnatural angle so don't look right either way. Bottom line is I don't think it really matters in this instance.

I trimmed the shoulder end of the arms flat and drilled a hole, then used the socket already in the shoulder as a starting point for the hole there. I did manage to drill through the arm on one side!… the drill bit re-appearing by her wrist (more greenstuff work). Neither arms had a good fit – see above photo – despite my best efforts and will need filling.

I positioned the Sonnia model against the fire dragon, trying lots of different angles to get her to sit comfortably and match up to the blast of fire she was meant to be breathing. I have no idea how the guys at Wyrd made up the original as the angle of the fire spout is too vertical to match their photo.

I decided the best way to anchor her to the base was via the fire spout so I drilled a hole into her mouth and added a pin like a huge cigar (or insert innuendo here for all the potty minds). This wouldn't be enough on its own to fix her to the base model securely, but it would provide the backbone and ensure it did look like she was breathing fire. A corresponding hole was drilled into the fire spout itself (which to be honest crumbled away – not convinced about the quality of the resin, too much filler maybe).

I was hoping to paint the Sonnia model separately from the dragon, but due to the tricky pinning and greenstuffing involved to ensure she doesn't fall off I've pretty much decided that I will have to build the complete model then paint it as best I can later.

The next stage is to decide where to add additional pins to secure Sonnia to the dragon, then the massive task of filling in gaps. I have to say that, despite how much I love the model and concept, I'm a little disappointed with the production quality of the piece. This has not been an easy build so far and I would fear for gamers with less pinning/building experience – this model would simply fall apart without the heavy pinning.

I must add to that – I'm reeeaaaallly looking forward to painting it!

Read Part 2a here