Monday, February 20, 2017

Perry WOTR Light Cavalry and my entire WOTR/(The) Empire Army

The Perry WOTR Light Cavalry have been sitting in a tub for almost two years, but I finally started and finished painting them in the past three days.

I assembled them in two fashion, half of them as mounted crossbows.

And three with lances, and three as command figures.

The leader rides a horse from Claymore Castings. The glue is still drying on the base of the last figure.

With these figures done, I can say that I have completed my WOTR/Warhammer (The) Empire army.

The problem, of course, is that the Warhammer (The) Empire no longer exists. Not does the whole Warhammer world. Not that that will prevent us from playing Warhammer 8th Edition, seeing how we already have figures for at least four armies. I do like the Warhammer rules, especially the fancy army lists, but on the whole I find them hard to remember, given how rarely we play them.

I have been looking at alternative sets of fantasy mass combat rules for a while, and last week I decided to order a copy of Mantic's Kings of War 2nd Edition rules. The reviews I have seen praise the rules for their simplicity, which is a plus for me, but I do worry if the army lists are different enough to distinguish each army. I guess we'll find out when the rules arrive in a week or two.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Black Hat Dwarf Town Guard Crossbow

Here are the Black Hat Miniatures dwarven crossbowmen I painted for Adrian. The bases are unflocked so he can do them in the same style as the rest of his army.

These are some of the easiest figures to paint. The crossbow and the hands come in a separate piece from the torso, so I was able to prime them in two colours: black for the torso with all the metal, and brown for the hands and crossbow. The torso was then dry-brushed with silver, the face, hair and beard, sleeves, belt and scabbard, and feet hand-primed with red-brown or just painted over with the shade of brown I chose to represent leather, then the face and hair done. For the hands and crossbow part the hands are painted over the brown paint, and the bow itself left as is, with the metal parts picked out in black primer and then silver. Once the parts are glued together, I washed the non-silver parts with brown wash.

They are a little too large for a 20mm square base, so to make them rank up I set the rear rank closer to the rear of the base - this shouldn't be an issue as missile troops are unlikely to be deployed deeper than two ranks.

Again, these are a breeze to paint, and if you need a ton of dwarven crossbows for your army, they are the guys for you. It's a pity the range is so small, or I would be tempted to buy more.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mountain of lead, plastic, resin, and MDF

I haven't been posting to much this year, but I have been spending time prepping figures and models for painting.

These are what are on my painting desk right now: two packs of Zen Terrain Conversion Kit and a bridge pack. some sci-fi utility poles which I scratch-built using parts from suction wall hooks, inter-dental brush caps, plastic toy parts, and faux leather cords, a cheap plastic M1117 which I have converted with Tamiya and Kromlech bits, 20 Black Hat Miniatures dwarven crossbowmen, and a tub of (remianing) 37 Warzone Imperial Regulars.

Apart from the dwarves, these are all part of the sci-fi shanty town/Blast Pistol project which I plan to make the focus of the next few months. I have also ordered two more packs of Battle Systems' Shanty Town cardboard terrain.

I will post pictures of the stuff as they are completed, but here are some comments about them.

The Zen Terrain stuff are excellent, and come pre-cut and with clear instructions on assembly. They fit well and are easy to assemble with just some white glue, except for the turbines, which took a bit of fiddling. The bridge in particular is very well-designed, and fit perfectly with the Battle Systems buildings. I simply sprayed these with beige or grey paint, and will do some simple weathering and wash on them before spraying a matt varnish and calling it a day. I haven't got anything to put on the billboards though, so if you know of any appropriate posters and whatnot, do let me know.

The utility poles are the result of some scrounging around stores and drawers. There are commercially available sci-fi streetlights and such, but I wanted the messy, exposed cables - I believe the key to creating a cramped, shanty town feel to the tabletop is to introduce horizontal components to the terrain.

The M1117 came out of a bag of cheap toys. I drilled holes for the hook rings, added some grab bars using bent paperclips, and an antenna made of a length of thick wire and drilled-through plastic rods. The toy had the jerry cans on the sides sculpted on in low relief; I thought about filing them off or covering them up with stowage, but fortunately fg had some 1/35 Tamiya jerry cans which come in halves, and it was a simple job then of gluing half a jerry can to each and making a rack out of paperclip for them. The twin-mini-gun and the wheels come from Kromlech. The wheels come without a hub cap, so I used the landmines from my Tamiya M20 kit to cover up the holes in the centre. I have yet to decide which faction this vehicle will be assigned to, and what colour indeed to paint it. Suggestions are welcome.

The Black Hat dwarves are very nice, and come with separate hands-and-crossbow which will make the painting much easier. They do look like they will be hard to rank up in two rows on 20mm square bases though.

As you can see that's quite a lot of stuff and it will take me several weeks to complete. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

League of Legends: Mechs vs. Minions

Before yesterday's Shadowrun game, fg and I played League of Legends: Mechs vs. Minions, another one of the chibi boardgame kicksters that he backed.

The sheer size and engineering of the game is insane. For a start, Amazon lists the weight of the box at 12.8 pounds. Inside, the components all seem to be bigger than they need to be, with the individual trays for the components more luxurious than they need to be - I was reminded of sushi takeaway platters. There is a custom sand timer and metal ring markers, all of which functions could have been served by more generic, cheaper components. The scenarios, or missions, are presented in sealed envelops, each of which contain the set-up rules, the mission, as well as special upgrade and damage cards which are added to the game as you tackle each in turn.

The gameplay is, in essence, Robo Rally meets Zombiecide. Players play cartoon characters piloting primitive mechs (I am not familiar with the online game which this game is based on - sorry), whose actions are determined by cards the players assign to a dashboard. The cards represent movement, turning, or attack actions, and are divided into four suits of different colours; cards of the same suit can stack, making the action more potent.

Instead of just making a circuit around the race track, the mechs in this game have more varied missions, from collecting gems to killing minions to defeating the evil boss mech. The game is co-operative, which is something I don't usually enjoy, but in this instance the time pressure (that's what the timer is for, although we didn't use it) makes it hard for players to discuss their moves in detail.

Each turn, the minions will move either randomly or according to the scenario rules, and if a minion ends its turn adjacent to a mech, the mech takes a damage card, which can be once-off (resolve and discard), or it can be semi-permanent and placed over a command card, necessitating sacrificing an action card the next turn to remove, or moving over a healing square. Mechs can't actually die from damage, but presumably beyond a certain point the damage are too numerous to repair and it just moves randomly around the board.

We managed to play about 4 scenarios over the course of the afternoon. The missions are designed to slowly teach the players the rules, like the tutorials in a computer game, so the first one was a boring one about movement, the second one about killing minions, the third one being a more challenging one, and the fourth one a real struggle battling the boss mech (which has its own specially designed cardboard box within the main box!).

Not knowing anything about the computer game, I cannot say how closely the game replicates the original. As a boardgame, I get a sense that too much is going on and players do not have enough control over the action at times. In Robo Rally (which is my point of reference), the only randomness are the hand of action cards drawn, and the actions of the other players, which may sometimes be guessed at and overcome (that in itself being part of the fun); the board behaves in a predictable fashion, damage is applied in a fixed fashion, and there are no other unknowns. In Mechs vs. Minions, the random damage effects, the random movement and spawning of the minions and the random movement and attacks of the boss mech means there is a lot more unpredictability, which while fun from the fluff point of view, actually takes away from the depth of the game. It seems to me that the designers of the game has tried to bundle too many mechanics into a single game, and ended up with something that doesn't do anything too well.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Robogear T-Rex, Battle Systems Urban Apocalypse Terrain, and resin urban barricades

Marines prepare to take out an enemy walker.

Gaming activities have taken a back seat in the past few weeks, but today I managed to paint up the Robogear T-Rex models I bought years ago, and posed it with some of my recent purchases.

The three buildings in the picture above are from the Battle Systems Urban Apocalypse range. These are punch-out cardboard buildings assembled with plastic clips. The surfaces are printed on both sides, and the windows and doors can also be punched out. I am sufficiently pleased with what I got (the Shanty Pack 2) that I will probably buy more of it. I have ordered some HDF terrain bits from Zen Terrain, which I hope I can paint to match this stuff so the buildings will have a more 3D, realistic look.

The Robogear T-Rex is of course a classic and a favourite of Imperial Guard players who want a proxy for the Sentinel.I have painted this as a support walker for my Warzone Imperial Regulars, which will be painted in the same colour. I only mounted one of the weapons provided (the hard-points for the other weapons are poorly filled in with epoxy) and the exhausts come from another of the Tehnolog kits which I bought for bits - I used them as I wanted a vaguely WW1 look to go with the Warzone figures.

The kit came with two versions of the canopy: a 'solid' version where the 'glass' is moulded, and an 'open' version where only the frame is represented. I didn't want to procure and paint a pilot/driver for the kit, so I decided to use a wire mesh to represent some sort of anti-grenade barrier so I coud hide the interior. It still needs some decals for tactical insignia and numbers and a base, but the basic paintwork and weathering are done.

Finally, we have the resin barricades I bought off ebay. I had expected them to come unpainted, so it was a bit of a surprise when I opened the package and saw what was a reasonable paint-job on these guys - the oil barrels are rusted and even showed oil slicks. I may spray some beige paint at the bottom parts of these sections to help them blend to the tabletop. Or I may not.

What I have also done in the past few weeks was to slowly assemble the forty Warzone Imperial Regulars I bought. This was not an easy task as the figures are made of hard plastic, have some significant mould lines, and have arms (to be more precise: forearms) that need to be glued onto the main torso in a three-point contact. But done they are, and now sitting in a box of sand waiting for the glue on their bases to dry. Hopefully in the next week or two I can get them sprayed in their base colours, and then over the next month finish painting them.

Still on the sci-fi/Blast Pistol front, yesterday I finally bit the bullet and took advantage of Kromlech's 17% sale and bought some resin bits to convert the plastic M1117 toy I bought to a sci-fi APC/IFV. That's spending US$20 on parts to convert a toy that came in a US$9 bag-of-toys. With that kind of money I could have bought a second-hand GW 40K Chimera... but then where's the fun in that?

Monday, January 02, 2017

Frostgrave Barbarians and Shaman

Here are the Frostgrave barbarians from the box set plus the shaman from the Nickstarter. I started painting them in November or December, but only completed them when I powered through 9 figures in a single sitting yesterday, so I guess they count as the first completed project for the year.

I painted them with white-and-black body paint to represent Avvar barbarians in the Dragon Age world - the next arc of my RPG campaign will be set in The Frostback Mountains and feature the Avvars.

I am not quite sure the decision to paint them with the body paint was a correct one - the computer game version looked more striking because they had white-and-black clothing too; these just look like KISS fans or cast of a Chinese opera. Still, what's done is done, and at least they will be used in my Dragon Age RPG game, and can be used as a generic fantasy barbarian warband whenever I need one. Or Dunlending in fg's Middle Earth RPG.

With these done I can move on to the next project, which will be either the Warzone Imperial Regulars (40 plastic figures, one metal hero figure, a Robogear T-Rex walker, plus maybe a conversion project using the plastic M1117?) or the 20 Black Hat crossbow-armed dwarves which I ordered 5 weeks ago if they arrive in the next two weeks.

The Warzone project is set to become a major project for me this year as, despite the figure-count being only 41 plus one or two vehicles, the ancillary requirements in terms of terrain will be significant; already I have placed orders for card buildings, MDF building and building dressings, resin urban barricade sections, and bought other cheap toys and hardware bits to use for scratch-building purposes. Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in Review and Looking Ahead

It's that time of the year again when I look back on the games we have played the year past and make inaccurate predictions of the ones we will play in the coming one.

Despite me working only part-time this year, we only managed to play a total of 16 sessions, with 9 of these involving miniatures wargaming. We tried a total of eleven new boardgames, mainly due to my brother passing some of his collection to me and us just being too lazy to set up miniatures games on some days.

However, the score card does not take into account the many Mondays I spent playing RPGs; in fact, taking GM prep into account, I probably had more gaming done in 2016 than before. I've enjoyed our Dragon Age RPG a lot - the characters have all developed over the course the campaign arc, and we have reached a good break in the narrative for the players to review their plans for the characters. I hope to continue Monday Night RPG in the coming year. Apart form the Dragon Age campaign, I hope also to run another Lone Wolf campaign, as a tribute to the late Joe Dever.

Chain of Command saw some love in the first half of the year, but we only managed to play halfway through each of the two campaigns we embarked on. Perhaps we can pick up where we left off in 2017.

The 'surprise' game of the year was Tribal, which I really enjoy and ought to play more of. Perhaps when the rest have painted up their Wargods of Olympus kickstarter figures my Trojans will have some opponents.

I painted a party for Malifaux, but fg and I only played one session of it. Perhaps the arrival of my Modular Underground Project in Oct 2017 will give us cause to dust off our VSF figures?

The Heavy Gear kickstarter arrived and I have painted my share of the booty. What surprised me was Martin coming on board with the Horizon Wars project and driving it. We will probably see more sci-fi action in 2017. Hopefully Martin's enthusiasm doesn't spark off a mecha arms race among us.

Still on the sci-fi front, in the 28mm scale we may be playing more Blast Pistol. I enjoyed our first game, and have already ordered a box of the old Warzone game for the 40 Imperial Regulars that will come in the box (not sure what I will do with the Bauhaus Hussars yet - if you are interested in them maybe we can do some sort of a trade later) and primed a Robogear T-Rex which I bought years ago. A Rogue Stars campaign is also a possibility.

On my painting table now are 20 Frostgrave barbarians, which I plan to paint as Avvars for the next arc of our RPG. In the mail are 20 Black Hat dwarven crossbowmen; I have always liked the way they look but Adrian, our dwarf player, had always resisted me painting a unit of them for him. He finally relented last month after a game and I sent the order off that same day. Maybe we will see some Warhammer action soon.

Blood Bowl may see a revival too if the buzz on the blogosphere infect us - already fg has ordered the new game components... At least I already have a few teams and dugouts painted.