30 April 2014

Last Few Hours For Aetherium Kickstarter

It's been quite a journey so far for Aetherium and the guys at Anvil Eight Games.

Their Aetherium Kickstarter finishes in the early hours so if you've got an itching to get some of these lovely models, or the full game itself, your time is limited.

As you may know, my involvement started nearly 9 months ago with the visualisation of the game itself, creating a logo and branding style, as well as all the game components. Thanks to the wonderful artists involved this was a dream job.

The Kickstarter has given me some respite from the long hours involved in producing a project of this scale. But now things are coming to a close, pledgers will be wanting their goodies and that means getting everything polished and ready for the printers.

There will no doubt be changes to the rulebook, with rumours there will be even more pages added so that stories can be fleshed out and rules explained as comprehensively as possible. This should make the game even easier to understand and play.

Of course we also have to finalise the rules and visuals for the third faction – House Ikaru. They have not really featured up to this point for me, but they made such an impact with Kickstarter viewers that we need to press ahead and get them a faction logo and some cards.

All good stuff and very exciting, especially if you've pledged. Delivery date is estimated at November this year so not long to wait.

Have a look at the Kickstarter page; there's lots of web links, videos to be seen and podcasts to listen to. This really is a unique game at a time where such things are rare or the big guns are getting greedy with re-releases and price hikes.

Have a look – I dare you!

29 April 2014

Forest Rangers

These guys are part of my secret project and fit my needs perfectly. They are Lord of the Rings Rangers of Middle-Earth and are really quite good. The fact that they are one-piece plastics is a bit of a bonus, and cost about £1 per model.

I stuck them onto square plastic bases, kindly donated by Bull, and added an obligatory penny underneath for weight. I wanted to try something a bit different for these woodland dwellers, so started by adding a bit of green stuff around the base for texture.

Rather than adding my traditional sand mix to the base, I stepped out of my comfort zone with a purchase of red Oxide Paste. Sand is great for most things, but for 28mm figures it represents rather large stones so looks a bit out of place. The paste is lightly textured so works perfectly (hopefully) in representing less difficult pathways and ground.

It went on easily enough with an old paintbrush – any mistakes where I caught the model only enhances the idea that these guys are running around forest, river and bog land getting covered in all sorts of muck.

I also purchased the LotR The Three Hunters set in order to get hold of this rather fetching Aragorn model, to lead my rangers. Needless to say he didn't cost £1, and is made from the infamous Finecast material with the accompanying bubbles (you may be able to spot them on the top of his outstretched arm). I wouldn't normally have been so extravagant but the sculpt did match my vision and I couldn't find anything close elsewhere.

These are ready now to be undercoated, and with the Saxon hovel I built last week have somewhere to live! There are more models waiting for some oxide paste before they can join this band but that's for another day.

Last weekend we went to Hothfield heathlands near Ashford to get some inspiration for this little project – I need to resurrect my gaming board – and here are some of the things we saw…

25 April 2014

Saxon Hovel Kit

Whilst at Awdry Towers last weekend for our game of Blood Bowl, Michael showed me some of his 4Ground buildings that he had picked up at Salute the previous week.

I have to say that I'm not normally taken by the laser cut MDF terrain that's all the rage at the moment (just doesn't look real enough for me) but the saxon hovel that he had, made me take a closer look. No sooner had I returned home than I was straight online ordering one for myself.

It arrived next day and in thirty minutes it was built – albeit the thatched roof looked like something from the Muppets. However, I maintained restraint and followed the instructions, allowing 24 hours to pass before caking the fluff in watered-down glue.

Again, it took another 24 hours to dry properly, but not one to be that patient I set to adding the first of my bonus bits – magnets!

I think the kit is great, but I wanted the roof to stay in place a little more securely than it does. I drilled holes in the top of the double-width walls (no probs). When it came to the roof I had to add an extra bit of ply from the sprue to make the walls wider.

It didn't take too long to dry and get all four magnets in place (and the right way round!).

Inspired by An Evil Giraffe blog and what he managed to achieve with the same kit, I intend to add some balsa wood to the walls to make them a little more three dimensional before I start painting. It will be perfect for my new side project – I just need to build a few more to make a village!

24 April 2014

Anvil Eight Introduce Ninja Borg…

Always ready with another update, the guys at Anvil Eight Games revealed more of their third faction for Aetherium – House Ikaru.

Currently only available as stretch goals on their Kickstarter at $400 and $2000 pledge levels, these new sculpts seem to be causing something of a stir.

I have been lucky enough to see other models from this faction and can confirm that they follow the style, quality and "shiny-ness" of these.

Who doesn't like the idea of Ninja Borg on the tabletop?… and with an Avatar that is a cross between a Ninja Borg Queen and Daenerys Targaryen, well… it's like Chrismas all over again!

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


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.

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!

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!

02 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.