29 September 2014

Post 500: Happy Birthday To Me!

This weekend was meant to be pure hobby time as part of my birthday celebrations – my birthday actually being today. I'd been looking forward to it for weeks but when the day came there were just too many jobs that needed doing around the house. As a reward for my hard work, yesterday I got to go baby-furniture shopping with my wife and mother-in-law… for the entire day. Not such a great birthday weekend!

But not to worry, this time last year I was in Ireland and the year before in California so I don't have much to complain about really. Time is flying by at the moment and we're down to ten weeks before junior is due to make an appearance. It's all getting a bit real.

I did place an order for the Monastic Scenery Set from Tabletop Workshop this weekend. Looking forward to that arriving and I will do a full review of all the pieces included. With this in mind I will be going back to my gaming board as promised and taking another look at that. I think for this first board I will do something quite straightforward so that I have something complete, rather than trying to be too clever and not getting finished.

My plan is to get a simple board and one including water under my belt relatively quickly (for me) and then invest in the TW Castle and do a board based around that. Before I can get stuck into that properly I need to sort out the garage to create some space for it all.

I'm also very conscious that I talk a good talk regarding new projects and none of them seem to get very far (hence my previous post about my Haul of Shame). I think by pitching expectations lower initially I could achieve some of my goals, rather than being too creative or elaborate and adding to my list of fails.

26 September 2014

Hobby Haul of Shame

Inspired by a post on fettFace's Back on the Battlewagon blog from a couple of year's ago I thought I would do something similar. We've all got failed projects or stuff put on the back burner that's got an inch of dust on it, but which ones haunt me the most?

So my Top 5 Failed Projects in my Haul of Shame are as follows.
All these projects involved a varying amount of financial investment and all of them are now cluttering the hobby space.

#5 – 40k Imperial Fists
A relatively recent one and probably the one that annoys me the most. I spent a lump sum on a box of plastics that would form the backbone of my new army. I then devised a small campaign to use them in against Bull. Alas, after some initial test pieces the painting stopped and I ended up using my Chaos marines for the campaign. Still not sure whether to restart this one, or consign it to history and Ebay.

#4 – Resin bases
It was meant to be my way of earning some extra income and keep my interest going in the hobby. When I discovered Malifaux I also discovered the joys of building my own custom bases and casting them in resin. After some test pieces I created a couple of ranges of round-edges bases that could be used in the game, then made them available to the public. They sold very well on Ebay and that was the crux of the problem. I couldn't keep up with the demand and what started as a hobby project became a job, as I had to get casting more stuff every night after work. My enthusiasm for the whole thing soon burned out… but not before I'd invested all my profits into a truck load of more resin!

#3 – Modular gaming board
I was so excited about my Dark Crucible project this time last year and inspired by Mr Awdry's similar sized board that I jumped in and started building. Then we took a holiday to Ireland and the board went away and has hardly been looked at since. Ironically it's the most popular post on this blog but another project that was never finished. With the new secret project getting some love at the moment, this one could be resurrected quite soon… though no promises!

#2 – WarmaHordes, Cryx / Legion of Everblight armies
They were the darlings of Salute 2012 – the next thing for Bull and myself was to paint up our Hordes starter boxes and get playing. We played one trial game and never rolled another dice. However, I continued to buy for both Legion and Cryx, painting periodically throughout the year. Alas the painting stopped but the buying didn't and I have a small pile of lead and resin praying to be built. This is one I do intend to return to at some point.

#1 – 40k Dark Templar space marines
They were meant to be my long-term space marine project, the one that kept going when all other side projects were burnt out. They started life as a pseudo Dark Angel/Black Templar army for tournaments but the new look, redesigned chapter never really made it out of the gate. It is my long-term goal to get this one up and running, but the new iterations of the 40k rules do little to inspire.

So here's my challenge to all your hobby folks out there…
– let's hear what's in your top 5 Haul of Shame? 


…and while you're thinking about that, my interview with Bill at Gamers Lounge about the creation of Aetherium is now live!!

23 September 2014

Plastic Castles, Chapels and Cottages…

I became aware of Tabletop Workshop's development of a 28mm plastic castle some time ago and have been following progress ever since. I'm very excited about this for a couple of reasons. It will be perfect for my Saxon/Norman project and become a great centrepiece, plus I used to have something similar (if rather crude) as a child so there's a nostalgia value to owning something like this again. In addition, the fact that you can set up the kit so that you can place models inside the towers is awesome.

When I got the memo that TW were taking pre-orders for their castle, I realised (duh!) that they did a host of other, period-appropriate plastic terrain. Coming off the back of my recent GW terrain purchases this struck something of a chord – the difference here is that the interiors of the TW products are as detailed as the exteriors… superb for roleplaying type scenarios.

You may remember back at Easter time I picked up a 4Ground cottage (above) which I love, especially now I've added bits of balsa to the exterior. However, there's something easy and quick about plastic kits, so the idea of having a set of these is really appealing.

After a little investigation I discovered that TW do a Cottage, Stable and Barn for £16 or so each (and free postage). They do all three as a Rural Farmstead set for £40 – a saving of almost £10!

Then I discovered their Monastic Scenery set – OMG – that's the Rural Farmstead set plus a Medieval Chapel for £50… a saving of £18!

At this point I was very interested – right scale, right time period, easy to build and a bargain. I dug deeper within the website for details and found some images of the raw plastics…

How lovely is this!!
The chapel looks superb and I can already imagine my characters interacting within this piece. I think this is a must-have for the project. Tick!!

Similarly the cottage is very detailed and, whilst I prefer the teddy-bear fur roof of my 4Ground cottage, this model does really appeal. I would have to add my liquid greenstuff texture to the walls as they look rather shiny at the moment. However, from a time perspective I could get a village full of these up and running very quickly. I will be interested to see the scale difference between this and the 4Ground and whether they sit well together. Very exciting. Tick!!

With a birthday coming up next week, I may just have found something to top the wish list!

22 September 2014

Gamers Lounge Interview

Just a quick post this morning to let you know that I was interviewed this weekend by Bill at the Gamers Lounge podcast. We talked mostly about my role in the Aetherium project and I rambled on for an hour about how cool the game is and all the amazing artwork I got to use in the making of the rulebook, etc.

The episode is mostly an interview with Brian and Chris from Anvil Eight Games… I'm tacked on the end as a bit of a bonus (lol) to close things out.

I believe Bill said the episode was due out later this week so keep your eyes glued to http://gamerslounge.coda.net/ if you want to hear more about Aetherium.

19 September 2014

Gaming Update…

This week has been rather significant in both work and play – or rather the two combined.

I have been working on the Aetherium miniatures board game for over a year now, on behalf of Anvil Eight Games. Just after the Kickstarter was funded I went and got myself a full time job, which made time very limited. Add into the equation, the discovery that my wife was pregnant with our first child and things started to get crazy!

However, determined to see the initial project through to completion I made a commitment to finish it, ready for print. That happened this week with the completion of the box graphics and brings my time on the project as lead graphic designer to an end.

I have to say that the project has been a pleasure to work on – even when it looked like it would never be finished. Kudos to Brian and Chris who have kept the momentum going, despite having full time jobs of their own and all sorts life stuff to deal with. The final game is simply stunning (if I say so myself) and all the folks involved have done a tremendous job of pulling everything together, making my life easier in the process. This became very apparent as I put together the final graphic for the box showing the entire contents (not unlike the image to the left). I'm very proud of it all and can't wait to see it come back from the printers.

I also got to see some of the ideas for upcoming models and expansions for Aetherium. The Ikaru were seen on the Kickstarter, but the other new stuff looks simply amazing. Exciting times.

Last Stand: Even with a shotgun, it's not looking good for Ned!

I celebrated the return of my weekday evenings with a night of Zombicide with Chris W. It was his first experience of the game and he got the full zombie nightmare treatment as unlucky draws and badly shuffled cards turned even the tutorial game into a horror show.

The F-Word: Despite being able to wield a pan like a ninja, Amy's days are numbered!
Our second game of the evening featured all six survivors, trying to collect objectives. Alas, no decent gear emerged from searches (just more zombies) – my Amy character has a frying pan, a box of ammo and two bags of rice!! – and, once reduced to one item between us that would open doors, things went from bad to worse. Before long the board was full of 'fatties' and one by one the survivors dropped. The last survivor, Wanda, managed to grab the third of four objectives before succumbing to a walker bite and ending the game.

15 September 2014

More Woodland Terrain Inspiration…

The lack of posts here over the last ten days was due to a very needed break down to Devon for myself and Mrs DT. We managed to time it perfectly for the weather and being in a village with no capacity for technology, I spent many an hour longing for the number 3 and letter G to appear at the top of my phone screen in the hope of grabbing a few moments online. Not to be, but the time away has been very beneficial.

As I usually do when returning from a holiday this time of year, I have a collection of photos to inspire your terrain building. These came from Lydford Gorge in Devon. Enjoy…

This trip has given me fresh inspiration to go back and look at my Saxon/Norman models and terrain. I really feel the need to finish my small gaming board, which embarrassingly was started a year ago. However, with a 4000pt game of 40k due in 8 weeks time and a small child due in 13 weeks time I'm not sure how much of a look in the gaming table will get.

However, I am due to finish one major project this week so that should allow me to complete the monstrous list of decorating chores during the week, not just weekends – I may be able to dig out my paints again!

Normal service should resume on the blog now as the build up to the next game begins. I have an evening of Zombicide booked in for Thursday so looking forward to rolling some dice again!

03 September 2014

40k: What Have We Learned?

I've always found you tend to learn more from your losses in 40k but let's see what was gleaned this time round and which units excelled.

The Battle of the Forge on Sunday was a great game. Chaos triumphed in the face of some serious Ork mech and held on to the Forge which will be great going into our final epic fight.

Bull did spring a couple of surprises that I hadn't really banked on. First of all his Ork army was all mech, which given that I had decked out my marines with mostly flamers again should have been a problem. However, I had included a melta gun in my Plague Marine units which worked out a treat in the end. These melta guns managed to take out the Gorkanaut in a single shot, and get three hull points off the Stompa (the last one killing it).

Given the firepower hanging off all the Ork machines, I was expecting a round or two of massed shooting as he crept forward. What actually happened was only the Stompa did any real shooting while the other elements shot forward. Alas, hesitation seemed to creep in, compounded by some heavy terrain.

The Stompa itself was a worry before the game. I was expecting it to show and on paper it could have decimated my army rather quickly. Its opening salvo destroyed one of my lovely gun batteries and injured a rather relieved Hellbrute. However, after that it became rather underwhelming despite Bull rolling high for his number of Gatling shots each turn. When Typhus turned used its volume of shooting against it (more on that later) the Stompa became the architect of its own demise. Bull did constantly forget to try and fix hull points with his Meks which made it all worse for the Orks, but it was not a great debut for the big fella.

The keystone of the Chaos defence was a bunker, protected by a void shield, containing six Nurgle Obliterators – a massive 600 point investment. These boys were well protected and although the void shield came down, it was back up in a couple of turns with no damage done. The Obliterators had a fab game. They wiped out six Killa Kans in a single turn, shot down the Ork flyer and did damage to several other units. It was my intention to bring them out of hiding towards the end and support other units in combat, but it wasn't necessary in the end and they ran out of targets for the last turn or two.

Similarly, the Chaos HQs were immense. The Sorcerer, who had Daemonology spells, managed to summon a unit of Plaguebearers (who destroyed the Battlewagon) and the Great Unclean One (who killed the Mega Nobz and a handful of Ork Boyz). Typhus dropped his malediction spell on the Stompa, making his weapons hot. This proved to be a great move and chipped away the bulk of the hull points it had. Towards the end of the battle he threw caution to the wind and engaged the Orks in combat. He probably killed half a dozen before his challenge with the Warboss saw them both die.

Elsewhere on the table, the Chaos forces had a pretty good game all round.

But what about scores?…

Thought he might not see the outside of his Land Raider but managed to kill at least half of the Stompa and the Warboss, plus a handful of Boyz. He's expensive but he proved to be pretty vital on the day.
Score 8/10

I went with Daemonology and struggled to cast anything for a couple of turns. Then a unit of Plaguebearers appeared. He then sacrificed himself to summon a Greater Daemon. Awesome for the points.
Score 9/10

I could only take three in a Land Raider with the two HQs and this isn't really enough. They probably inflicted three or four wounds but never really recouped their value. They're more protection for T than a serious threat.
Score 6/10

A late addition and a bit of a waste. Didn't managed to hit anything with two turns of shooting then died to combined Ork shooting.
Score 3/10

Chaos Marines
A cheap 5-man unit brought in to soak up the last few points and to sit at the back, loiter around the generator and obstruct Bull's Kommandos (who didn't turn up to this fight). Too far out to really contribute anything and most of them got caught under a blast template.
Score 4/10

Plague Marines
Solid choice. One unit went toe-to-toe (literally) with the Stompa and came out on top. The other unit took down the Gorkanaut and jumped into combat late on.
Score 8/10

Plague Zombies
Managed to bog down the Stompa in three rounds of combat, preventing it from shooting. So worth the points, evening if they didn't kill anything.
Score 8/10

Struggled to hit anything this game, but became the focus of the Stompa's shooting for several turns.
Score 6/10

Stunning opening volley against the Killa Kans and pretty solid throughout.
Score 8/10

Land Raider
Protected the HQ well enough, surviving a Stompa blast and a Deff Dread attack. Finished off the Dread.
Score 7/10

The Bunker/Shield combo was great. The Defence Line did see much use but presented a visual barrier which helped. The guns didn't contribute much (except killing a few Grots) and the Tank Traps proved their worth again.
Overall Score 7/10

…and the bonus units…

Great Unclean One
Turned out to be a bit of a bonus and tipped the balance an my right flank. Killed the Mega Nobz with ease but his biggest contribution was intimidation and the timing of his appearance.
Score 7/10

Arrived eventually and didn't scatter! They managed to destroy a battle wagon before being gunned to bits.
Score 7/10

Man of the Match / MVP
A difficult decision as a handful of units did quite well, however, I think it has to be the Sorcerer. At the cost of less than 100 points he managed to conjure up a unit of Plaguebearers worth over 100 points and sacrificed himself to summon a Great Unclean One worth over 150 points. These units definitely made a difference in numbing the Ork assault.

What have we learned?

First of all we learned that the Stompa is controllable… and Bull needs to remember it's full of Meks and can be fixed. The shooting it pumps out can be devastating but is a bit hit and miss. It's main attack is lethal in combat but the stomp attack has random results – though this too can be devastating.

The Psychic phase was great for Chaos in this game and Bull was not really in a position to counter it – I had a lot of Power dice. Again, individual spells are not devastating but can chip away at the enemy, or enhance regular attacks. The summoning was difficult to pull off (and I'm sure we did the perils of the warp wrong) but when it did come off it was great to see new units appear.

I also learned that my Plague Marines didn't often get to use their Feel No Pain roll as most of the big attacks now negated it – plus I can't roll 5+ for them, but I can for Zombies.

…And it's still all about the Shooting phase!

01 September 2014

40k: The Battle Of The Forge

There was a strange stillness in the air, complete silence except for the whirr of a sevo or gutteral grunt of a daemonic engine. War was imminent and the defenders were ready. Then it came, a low rumble at first, followed by thick black smoke on the horizon. Gradually the noise got louder and louder, until the very floor began to shake…

It was finally time and the forces of Nurgle had the Sakar Forge firmly locked down. A bunker containing six Nurgle Obliterators, protected by a Void Shield, was the keystone of the defences. This was flanked by a defence line and Vengeance Weapon Batteries with Gatling cannons – 20 shots a turn… each! – with a row of tanks traps out front. The rest of the Nurgle forces consisted of a large unit of Plague Zombies (yay Zombicide), a Forgefiend with Hades Cannons, a Helbrute and two units of Plague Marines with Flamers and Melta guns. 

Out of shot above was the commander of the Nurgle contingent. Typhus and his sorcerer, supported by three Nurgle Terminators sat patiently in a Land Raider.

Across the table was a rather large Ork mech army. A close combat Deff Dread, a unit of six Killa Kans, a Gorkanaut containing Mega Nobz and a Battle Wagon containing our old friend Zagdakka and a unit of 20 Boyz. Off to one side was the intimidating silhouette of the Stompa – our first Lord of War model.

Ork turn 1 was rather ominous as the Stompa's big gun blew up one of the Gun Batteries and injured the Helbrute. Everything else ran forward.

It was time for the Nurgle troops to respond and in a show of superior shooting, the six Obliterators fired Assault Cannons into the Killa Kans… only missing with 4 out of 24 shots and wiping out the entire unit – an empty space where they once stood. Obliterators indeed!

The Stompa marched forward continuing its relentless shooting, with mixed results. Typhus then cast a malediction psychic power on the behemoth – all its weapons could now 'get hot', inflicting damage upon itself. Two turns later and the Stompa was down to half its hull points.

In the centre, the Deff Dread charged into the command transport but failed to do any damage. The Land Raider then moved out of the way, and the Ork mech was gunned down.

The sorcerer finally landed a summoning spell and up turned a unit of Plague Bearers who charged into the Battle Wagon and destroyed it with their rusty weapons. Out spilled 20 Orks, thanks to some shenanigans… or an in-built teleporter (when Bull upgraded the Vehicle to include the huge Killkannon the transport capacity should have gone down from 20 to 12).

Along side it, the Gorkanaut was taken down with a single awesome Meta gun shot, the 3 Mega Nobz staggering out of the wreckage.

Close combat proved to be a much more fruitful place for the Stompa as he literally stomped a unit of Plague Marines to death, but it was still losing Hull points to it's hot weapons.

In a final display of dedicated sacrifice, the Sorcerer gave over his mortal body to one last spell and was possessed by a Greater Daemon of Nurgle. He strode into combat with the Mega Nobz and the Orks were no more.

Having decided not to remain in combat with the Stompa, the Plague Marines fell back to the safety of the defence line. Similarly, with the Stompa on its last Hull Point, the Boyz inside fell back to the safety of a destroyed Rhino. Meanwhile the Zombies charged into the Stompa, not able to do any damage but preventing the thing from shooting. This seemed to confuse the Stompa and he seemed unable to stomp on the zombies, compounding Bull's frustration.

Having dispatched the Plaguebearers, the Ork command unit was ripe for attack. Typhus and the Terminators swept in, alas I forgot to move the Greater Daemon and his charge fell short. A challenge went out but Zagdakka hid at the back of the unit, sending in the Mech. The Terminator Champion stepped up but was unable to kill him. The other Terminators fell to mass Ork attacks and Typhus reaped a handful in return.

"Come out and face me Ork!" bellowed Typhus, but there was no reply. "Cowardly Greenskin!". Still nothing. Then amongst the melee a short, mangy-looking Ork covered in grease with a spanner in his hand stepped forward. "Pffft" spat Typhus, incensed by the sheer cowardice on display by the Warboss. "My Lord? May I?" enquired the Terminator Champion. "Please do…" sighed Typhus in relief. He would much rather repay the Warboss with more dead Ork Boyz.

The Stompa's last hull point finally fell to a cheeky melta gun and exploded in fine fashion – alas (or fortunately) nobody was in range to take the damage.

Typhus had taken a couple of wounds from a cheeky Mad Doc syringe and a Power Klaw. Then his own Daemon weapon turned on him and he took another wound. The Greater Daemon and Plague Marines joined the melee and things were drawing to an inevitable conclusion as the Orks became overwhelmed.

The challenge went out again and finally the Warboss crept out from his hiding place. Typhus decided it was time to end him so stepped forward, despite having only a single wound left that he was very likely to lose.

The Greater Daemon and Plague Marines took down out a few more Orks, and it all came down to the challenge. 

The Warboss's attacks came in and two got through – Typhus unable to save both meaning he was dead. But with one last swipe of his Reaper he managed to roll an epic 10 attacks, with six strikes getting through. The Warboss was killed outright with the first (Force Weapons hmmmm…), the other five spilling onto the remaining Orks and wiping them all out.

As the turn came to a close, the Orks had a unit of Boyz with a Big Mek (still hiding behind the Rhino, next to the crater left by the Stompa) and a handful of Grots. Chaos had lost the Forgefiend and Helbrute and a handful of marines and daemons.

The Ork attack had faltered – The Forge remained firmly in Chaos hands.

The fighting had been brutal and intense. The battlefield was strewn with bodies and a caustic smell of burnt flesh. The air was thick with psychic energy and oily smoke, both gradually dissipating as the calm returned. The Orks had been destroyed, the survivors scattering once their leader fell. Typhus too had fallen in combat, but he would return. As the chosen son of Nurgle he would never truly die. He had come to do a job and had done it well. The Orks had failed to take The Forge and had revealed their secret weapon in the process. Now the master would be well prepared when the final assault came.