Sunday, November 14, 2010

Friendly/Tournament games and a huge reason not to go to Templecon.

This weekend a friend and I teamed up to hit a doubles tournament at Veterans Games in Warwick Rhode Island. We have combined our armies for the last 2 or 3 years and hit up doubles tournaments everywhere. In fact, my IG army was originally constructed as another half to his Kroot Merc army. This weekend I pulled Straken and a few blobs together with his Tau suit army.

The doubles tournaments had not allowed armies to share abilities as it had in the past, but this was apparently different and in my opinion really did not work. I would argue that the game really wasn't balanced, but perhaps the real problem was the abusive army combos, from thunderwolves with FNP to Vulcan leading an army of sisters, The abusive lists really put our fluffy IG and Tau combo on their heels. What had once been a nice and friendly environment has quickly morphed into a WAAC environment and to me, that is just sad.

I don't mind the WAAC environment so much if it is in a light vein. People pulling every trick and little thing they can in order to win just really pisses me off. In the first game there is no need for schinanigans as there is so much tournament to play. One could even argue that at the top table in the last round it is somewhat acceptable to play and exploit every little mistake your opponent makes. If you are not really in the running, then don't be a douche bag dude, you are playing with little plastic men.

In the first round everyone at the store got to take 2 minutes to listen to a grown man piss and moan because a model was not fully wysiwyg. Two turns later, my friend and I got the displeasure of playing this very guy and his partner.

Game 3 of a doubles tournament sitting middle of the pack is the perfect time to play a nice relaxing game with your friend against two new opponents. Even if they brought kick ass hard lists there is no reason not to be civil right? Wrong. These dudes clearly didn't like each other, or were sick of each other by that point.

First of all no list was ever offered from them. I guess they had run out. Some slight of hand and use of props allowed them to infiltrate a scout squad away by all of their books and papers so that they were covered up by a mountain dew can and out of view. Only by chance did I see them at which point they both remarked "darn, they saw them."

After moving my blob squad on turn 1, I turn away for one minute to look over the board and see my opponent measuring the distance between his thunderhammer terminators and my blob squad IN MY TURN. Hmmm, wonder if he was thinking about assaulting that squad next turn.

A discussion then ensued in which we were told that the doubles tournament at Veterans Game was tough, didn't I know? And that they wouldn't be playing these lists in this way if it was a friendly game, but it wasn't, it was a tournament game. Why can't game 3 of a tournament that you are clearly not going to win be a friendly game? In-fact, this differentiation that they made between these two types of games speaks large measures of their character on the board, where you separate games into friendly games and non-friendly games. At the end of the game one of the guys remarked that it was the most enjoyable game they had ever played.


It's kind of funny as it was one of the worst games I have ever played. The funny thing was that it ended in a draw. I couldn't have planned a better result, their trickery got them no farther in the game than our good nature.

After the game, one of our game 3 opponents informed us that they were the main 40k organizer of Templecon. Good god! I couldn't have heard a better reason NOT to go to Templecon! I guess there is no room for friendly games there.

Unless I run my genestealer army....hmmm...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Eldar Ice Blades.

  First of all, a lot of this technique was liberally "borrowed" from White Dwarf 361 p81. I decided to reproduce it here to show the movement across the blade of the sword, as that can often be the most difficult part to 'get' when making the shimmer look convincing. Please note that the colour from the pictures isn't 'true' colour due to my own fault. These pictures should instead by used as reference for colour movement.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Oh your Chaos Dwarfs are a mess - how fitting...

Today BOLS released some pictures from Games Day UK showing a small glimpse into the future of our hobby. There was a great deal of Dark Eldar (revamp of an entire line - enjoy this moment, it will never happen again) as well as some Forgeworld Empire, Chaos Ogres and yes - Chaos Dwarfs. (Forge World revamp)

While the pictures are generally fairly poor - shot through your standard glass display case - I give all of the props I can to Strangleweb and the guys at BOLS. I guess my London reporter fell throughThere's loads to be talked about here and I will probably do a series of a few articles on all of the different topics. 

First of all, lets talk about your Chaos Dwarfs. I would love to be able to say MY Chaos Dwarfs, because I have always had a soft spot for this model range, but I can't as I don't play fantasy, don't own a single Chaos Dwarf miniature, and don't even own a Chaos Dwarf Blood Bowl team. But somehow, they are still mine. I have had a soft spot for them that can only be explained by the Kurt Cobain effect. It may be similar for my love for Squats, they both had amazing potential in my opinion and both were taken from us before their time. What is left of the Chaos Dwarf line, as with the Squats is a perfect look back into our hobby circa 1990-1994. Today I pulled out my green North American Citadel Miniatures Catalog and drooled over some of the old Chaos Dwarf pictures. 

Unlike the Dark Eldar revamp, somehow I am not as willing to allow Forgeworld the chance to change very much in the Chaos Dwarf line. Stop the presses, DA PAtrick does not allow this design change. Lets look at a few of the design changes that Forgeworld has given us. 

 Within the newly available pictures, the Chaos Dwarf crew gives the most insight into the future of the range in my opinion. We haven't got a look at rank and file troops at all in this batch of pictures and until we do, I think these guys are most likely to represent what they will look like in the end. These models are very dynamic for fantasy models, something that we must expect from Forgeworld, especially with models that don't have to rank up. Their beards are right - sort of - where are those huge mustaches of old? The hats are just way wrong. What we have to ask ourselves is will this look like a unit of Chaos Dwarfs were you to rank up 10-15 of them?

 Here is a unit of old Chaos Dwarfs, hats and all, with large mustaches for comparison. I will let you decide how closely they will match.

Some better news comes with some of the heroes that are in the batch. They get the beards right - lose the mustache and get the hats sort of right - are these Chaos Dwarfs or Santa's Elves? Look, basically all there is to a traditional 4th edition Chaos Dwarf model is a big crazy push pin hat, Huge mustache and long curly beard. As long as those models had that, it was a Chaos Dwarf. These models come fairly close to that, but I am afraid that this design will only be present in the heroes characters.
 We then get a series of war machines. Clearly whoever just finished up with the Ork range for 40k simple started right in with the Chaos Dwarfs. I am fairly underwhelmed with this line. I understand that it was a part of the Chaos Dwarf design, but as very few of the models ever came to the general public, I have never seen this as part of the 'real' Chaos Dwarf line. These are interesting, but this release will fail to excite with what is there.

Right now I am very disappointed with the look and feel of these Chaos Dwarfs, it just didn't give me enough of what I expected to see and ended up confusing. Perhaps that was the plan - they didn't want to release the classics from the line, they wanted to show people that they were going to mix it up a bit.

Well until I see a Giant Taurus, a Lammasu, or some Bull Centaurs, I will not be eagerly awaiting this release. These 3 models would totally be the bread and butter of a Forge World release, I can see them doing amazing jobs on any one of these 3 classic designs, but so far - nothing. Heck, as I mentioned earlier we haven't even seen a single troop selection, let alone a Hobgoblin.

Where am I?

Fuck you, where am I?

Look, I don't need things to look exactly the same and I understand that things have to be developed and evolve, but i also think that Forge World should be keeping a lot of what made the Chaos Dwarves who they are today.

Check out THIS Chaos Dwarf Army. It keeps the original design intact while still updating the model line. You look at it and know that it is Chaos Dwarves, but you also notice how dynamic the models are and that the line has been brought in to the modern look of the hobby.

I'm not sure how well Forge World is going to do Chaos Dwarves and I certainly hope that in the next few months we get to see some better pictures of the releases and I come back on here and take it all back, but currently it is just such a weird selection to put out in an initial release that I have a knee jerk reaction to the overall design of it. Maybe it will grow on me, or maybe it will simply reduce the price of current Chaos Dwarves on ebay so I can pick up some older ones.

Regardless, I eagerly await the Giant Taurus, perhaps all will be forgiven. Let me know how wrong I am in the comments.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

$2 Sabol cases

A recent article by Blood of Kittens nicely presents what I have thought about Battlefoam for a while now. Go figure BoK. So instead of using these nice, but overpriced products, surprise surprise, I am going a much cheaper route.

I generally like the Sabol design, the size works well for many of the smaller skirmish games that I play and I find that the foam packs away much better at cramped tables during tournaments. There is nothing worse than tripping over the huge cases of whoever is playing behind me - seriously, do we ALL need to bring luggage to our games?

I am very careful with my models and pack them away slowly and carefully. 
But I really don't spend much time (or money) on what I am carrying them in. Granted if I was traveling on an airplane, it would be a much different story, but I'm not, at most I am throwing them in my trunk and driving for an hour or so. For this, I have found the perfect bag to store my Sabol foam in:

I bought this little guy for $1 at the Shaws across the street. Sometimes you can even pick them up for free. Regardless, the Sabol foam trays fit perfectly inside them and stack 3 or 4 high, depending on the thickness of the foam. Now I went cheap and got the Shaws brand, but you can buy these from almost anywhere, hell you can even get custom designs printed up on them. If you buy them in bulk (10,000+) they will only cost you $.59, but you will probably want to splurge and get at least a few colours on them. I suggest a picture of a pretty unicorn so people know you are badass and that you came to rock them. You could sell them their own bag right afterwards.


I carry and store my whole mech IG army in two of these bags. Sure they aren't strong, but they sure are cheap! Plus, it is much cooler in my mind to be walking around with a few shopping bags than to be carrying a massive rolling foam tray case around everywhere you go. Now I just need to figure out a cheap carrying case for my blood bowl mini's. Maybe these?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Using non traditional material in a non traditional hobby

During a recent visit, my parents brought me my bitz box from 15 years ago. It was a pretty pathetic excuse for a bitz box, containing mostly rogue trader bitz and the plastic arms that went on the sides of the metal Orks, although there were a few gems in there, including:
2 plastic conversion beamers
3 genestealer familiars
6 genestealer hybrids
a metal ork lascannon
squigs squigs squigs

But one of the strangest things that slipped my mind was the non-GW bitz floating around in there. Apparently I had bastardized my GI JOE gun collection and pretty much sacrificed my entire toy collection to improve my bitz box. There was everything from model train bitz, to match box cars to random pieces of metal and scrap. I hadn't remember my bitz box looking like this at all, perhaps because my current bitz boxes have so much GW stuff in them.

A recent trip around Boston lead me to a local jewelry shop, Marcou Jewlers.
After discussions and a quick chat with the owner, I asked if he had any cheap mechanical watches for sale. I explained that I wanted them to use the gears and bits inside. Props to him as he gave me 2 broken watches that I just had a blast taking apart. All of the gears and little parts have since come in wonderfully handy, including in this base of Lady Justice that I did up after a friend "mistakenly" left the model in my case.

These parts are small and rather soft, easy to cut and to shape into a form that works well. Don't be afraid to look around in non-conventional places for both inspiration as well as physical parts for your hobby. The great owner of this place was more than happy to GIVE me the parts I was looking for, all it really required was being nice to him and talking and explaining what I was looking for and what I wanted. 

I really like the way this model came out and much of it is due to the bitz used in the base. I think a lot of the Games Workshop models are great, especially when they include lots of extra bitz and parts to be used for the models, but have we become a little spoiled by the extra bitz? It almost seems too easy to just throw a GW part on here or there to make the model look that much better. The bad thing about that is that everyone has already seen these bitz before and often times the mind will just recognize that servo skull that you added as the one from the devastator kit, or the ork skull on the base as the one from the scout kit.

I myself know the GW plastic line so well that when I am looking at parts, they just get filed into my brain as items and I don't tend to look at the whole. The same thing goes for conversions with me. When I see an interesting and unique conversion using non-GW parts I am always pulled farther into the model, or when I see sculpting on a model, like my Eldrad  that really changes the identity of the model to me. There is nothing wrong with GW bitz, and I am very happy that their kits are now including more and more of them, but maybe spend some time after this article going around your house and looking for something strange to poke into your bitz box that will make your friends do a double take as they try to figure out where you got that part from that perfectly fits into the design of your army.

Happy modeling.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Army Painting on the cheap and easy.

So I am sure you all know Army Painter. If you don't, go there and check it out there are lots of places around where you can get load of information on their products. I have traditionally been very impressed with their product and the results that you can get using it. Just yesterday I saw a Blood Bowl halflings team and some beastmen painted up with the Army Painter soft dip and they looked wonderful. I have decided to try and replicate the process on the cheap and what better time than when I am trying to start a whole new system on the cheap - fantasy.

Army Painter has some really amazing primers available. Basically you spray it on to get the base colour of your miniature. They are very fine mist and vibrant colours and at a cost similar to GW primer, I would certainly recommend trying them. I however don't have the $15 that I am willing to spend on them, I am going to try and get this whole army painted for around $15 total, so we will have to cut a corner here.

Recently a friend has recommended that I try using flat black Krylon spray after the ridiculous price of GW primer as well as some unsuccessful runs with Board to Pieces and Armoury primers. Krylon isn't the most amazing thing I have ever tried, but if you know what you are doing it works just fine, it only requires a little more work. The biggest advantage that Krylon has is that you can get a can of it for under $3 from Walmart.

Well I wanted to merge the two ideas together as Krylon has roughly 100 different colours. Unfortunitly not all of these are matt, most of them have a glossy finish to them, but as I was planning on dipping the mini's anyway, I didn't really care too much. I used Krylon Satin Brown Boots from the Indoor/Outdoor range.
I picked this up at Walmart for $2.97. You may be tempted to go for the plastics range or to get a matte finish. Don't bother, we are trying to go as cheap as possible here. Honestly, I don't think it will matter that much in the long run. I think the plastics brand is really meant to adhere to the hardened outdoor child type plastics. This one works fine on the models, although obviously it gives them a bizarre sheen that may be unsettling.

I then blocked in a few key areas with some of the foundation paints, mechrite red, dhened stone, and some chainmail really quickly and was ready to dip.
I chose Minwax Wood Finish Dark Walnut in an 8 OZ container from Home Depot. It was $4.45. It was one of their darker colours as I wanted my Skaven to tend towards the darker side of things. I was hoping that this would simulate a really dark hue for the dip and accent the lighter brown spray colour. The stain was very well mixed, I put on gloves and actually dipped the models in, shaking them as hard and as vigorously as I could off to the side.

Well the models came out way too dark - although the balsa wood on the side of my movement trays looks amazing! One of the main problems was the thickness of the dip. It wasn't the consistency of a wash, it was closer to the consistency of maple syrup and once it got stuck to a surface, it was stuck there. Manually shaking it removed and settled only a very small amount of the varnish. It took a full day to dry and was still sticky beyond that.

It works fine enough, but certainly needs some work; unlike Army Painter. For these models, I will likely reapply the foundation paints as highlights and hit a few spots here and there for the front row. Luckily only about 5-10 of these guys need to be painted up to a table top level, while the rest just hide as masses behind them as Skaven tend to do. Whatever I do, the models will need to be brightened and lightened up as the current models are rather dark. Some of this will happen when I add some lighter colours to the bases.

Next up I will repeat the same colours and either dip in the un-stirred can, or dilute the Minwax significantly or try another colour on the other 20 rats from the Blood Island set. I also have recently had a friend recommend that I glue large nails on the bases of the mini's with hot glue and then stick the nails into a drill to violently remove the Minwax.

If you have an option that you prefer, let me know in the comments. I may end up giving several of them a try, including army painter. It will be funny if this process ends up costing more than just buying the spray and dip from Army Painter.

Total cost so far: $7.42

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

THe Goober Ballz and Blood Bowl I

In spite of my recent postings, I did not play Undead in the recent bloodbowl league. I instead had been playing a Goblin team that I got and painted up rather nicely. I had gone the whole season with very few advancements, cutting goblins as they got better simply because the team value bloat wasn't worth it.

I have found that playing a stunty team certainly has its disadvantages in a new league. I won my first 3 games simply because other teams could not field the players that I could and could not directly deal with the cheap secret weapons. After the first few games, once other teams began to get basic skills, I ran into a problem however. I am pretty much peaking my team out around a team value of 1250 or so. When the rest of the league is hovering around that value, the Goblins tend to do very poorly as bribes seem to be key to the survival of the team.

Bribes do two things, primarily they allow second shots with your secret weapons. This is good, but more importantly, it allows you to keep fielding players. If you are running 3 secret weapons, those are 4 goblins that will be playing for only one turn. Sure you can play them all at different times, but it really is not much different than getting 3 goblins badly hurt per game. With the stunty rule, you already have to worry about keeping men on the field, bribes just seems to really mitigate the roster loss you would otherwise see.

I was lucky and rolled an Agility increase for my poger, #5 Justin Thyme and he became my full time ball handler. Other than this, I cut any other advancements that happened and waited for the rest of the league to advance.

For the Goblins, running about 250-350 behind the rest of the teams seems to be a sweet spot, just make sure you have the bodies to throw at them when they want to hurt someone. Inducing a second ball and chain can be huge and likewise inducing a third troll is devastating.

That said, this isn't really a team that has a lot of the traditional joys of blood bowl. I think almost everyone who played against it had a blast as Goblins were chucked everywhere and they were sent off the pitch in droves. Likewise, I also got a great deal of excitement out of playing them, but I missed out on one of the key parts of the meta bloodbowl game in the individual player development.

Bloodbowl is interesting in that there actually is a meta game. A lot of people talk about the 40k meta game, but it is a very ambiguous thing, with bloodbowl it is very real as you develop your team in response to the other teams in the league.

That is why I am thinking of shelving the Goblins just as they may be reaching their sweet spot. I will retire them, perhaps to be played in the off season league, possibly to return later. In the meanwhile I am going to pick up a necromantic team and use my existing undead line that you have recently seen on here.

I've just got to find some suitable werewolf miniatures. Any suggestions?