Sunday, 25 December 2016

Merry Christmas! Hohoho!

Just a quick post to wish everyone a very merry Christmas. Sam, Van and I are staying almost off the grid in the South Island while we take some desperately needed quiet time. What with finalising the purchase of our first house together, moving in and then dealing with another big quake amongst all the normal stresses of work and life, it's been a very busy year.

However we're currently enjoying some quiet solitude in a tiny corner of Motueka soaking up some amazing Kiwi summer weather. Santa was also very kind to us this year. I received the regular pile of candy, and on top of that I got a couple of Pop Vinyl figures:

I also received a couple of great new books:

And of course the piece de resistance:

Sam and Van also got presents; make up and clothing and squeaky toys and stuff but nothing nearly as awesome as what I got so hence not worth blogging about :)

Anyway I just wanted to get a quick post in to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I have plenty to blog about so I'll get stuck into that in the New Year. In the meantime have an awesome holiday and have an amazing New Years!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Total War Update

I can't believe I've completely forgotten to post about how I am doing in Total War: Warhammer!

Well needless to say I've completed it with Thorgrim Grudgebearer. It was a lot of fun and Dwarfs were definitely a good army to begin playing with as they're very forgiving. I aimed for the Long Campaign Victory rather than just leave it after reaching the Short Campaign Victory. It got a little tedious towards the end where I was just razing Chaos and Vampire cities while I tried to get the last couple of Dwarf cities I needed. Because of all my trespassing to reach these cities I also ended up razing most of the Empire and Brettonia as well. Anyway despite the slow grind to the finish it was great fun with lots of magic little moments throughout. For example it was immensely fulfilling seeing Archaon go down from a cannon ball to the face....

...and soon after that with Sigvald being the last Chaos lord left alive, he came charging at me...

...before suffering much the same fate.

Anyway this was my territory (in blue) by the end of the Campaign:

I was hoping to totally wipe out all the evil nations, I did manage to kill off all the Orc and Vampire nations but for Chaos the Bjornlings eluded me due to a glitch. They have one army in the deep South that gets stuck just beyond the map and can't be attacked. Apparently the glitch can sometimes fix itself and the army will eventually move onto the map, but I got sick of waiting so I just finished the Long Campaign and called it a day.

At the end the Dwarfs were in control of the Badlands, the Black Mountains, the Grey Mountains and the World's Edge Mountains. I think we can safely say that the Old World now belongs to the mighty men of midgetness. There are some human remnants in the Empire, Border Princes and Estalia but they're not a threat to Thorgrim's mighty kingdom!

So once that was done I left the game alone for a time. That is until the White Dwarf released some free downloadable content in the form of Grombrindal as a Legendary Lord playable character. This ignited my passion for the game again and I soon found myself re-conquering the Badlands. This time however in the name of the great White Dwarf himself; Grombrindal!

It's a bit boring going back through with the same race so I decided at least to try the diplomatic route rather than the expansionist route this time round. I'm finding it a lot of fun to concentrate on only two provinces while I use diplomacy with the other Dwarf nations to try and keep the enemy from my doors. Grombrindal is a lot of fun with some great new skills like Flash Bomb, and the ability to pick a Living Ancestor ability for a period where he can improve combat abilities or recruitment abilities or improve the public order and corruption within the province he is standing.

So that's Total War: Warhammer pretty much done for me. Total War games are always great games to come back to from time to time and because of that I know I'll be revisiting it quite often over the coming years using Grombrindal or even another race. In the interim though I've got plenty of other games I'd like to finish off and even one that's risen from the grave over the past year...

I'll save that story for another time though...

Friday, 9 December 2016

A Tale of One Gamer...

Sorry about the delay with this post but finally here we are with some finished pics of the Onager Dunecrawler. There are still a couple of small tidy ups that need to be done; I'm not happy with how the snow came up and I would still like to add some transfers and do some weathering, but given I haven't decided exactly how I want to do this yet I'm going to leave it till the whole army is finished and then do it all at once.

Anyway without further adieu here it is:

I'm really happy with how it turned out. For a long time I couldn't get the red how I wanted it to look until I tried going back to a technique I have avoided for years; drybrushing. My main concern with drybrushing is that it can make the painting surface rough and create quite an ugly finish. However I focused on keeping the brush just a little damp and this managed to keep the surface quite smooth while creating a developing gradient of colour to build the shadows and highlights. A little more edge highlighting after the drybrushing was done and I was stoked with how the colour came up.

Because of the time I took in figuring this out it did mean I ran a bit over time. However I've been doing a bit of decluttering lately and had already decided to sell off my Star Wars Black Series figures so the punishment for failing was already being enacted. This is probably why I wasn't particularly motivated to make sure the model was finished on time but I'm glad I did spend the extra time on it to get it right.

Seeing as I knew I was going to miss the due date I figured I have some spare time to play around a bit with the basing. I've had all sorts of interesting odds and ends in my bits box for a long time that, for whatever reason, I have just not used in basing past models. For this one I found an old GW resin landmine and an old plastic Jerry Can from some WWII tank kit.

I kept the colours quite dull as I didn't want them to distract from the model, I just figured on a base this big there really needed to be something a little more than rocks and snow.

So that's the Dunecrawler sorted, what's next in the Tale of One Gamer painting challenge? Well according to the White Dwarf I'm supposed to paint a "Mighty Hero" this month. Only problem I have is that the Skitarii and Cult Mechanicus have only one HQ option between both armies and I have no great desire to paint up a second Tech Priest for the army. Fortunately however I stumbled across and interesting alternative.

I have a tin with a few half started projects in it that I'm intending to get round to finishing once I've got this army painted. One of the projects in that tin is the Imperial Assassins I got from the Execution Force game back in November last year.

I figured these guys can be considered 'Mighty Heroes' of the Imperium and I can quite happily ally them in with my army. So this is my December challenge; to get my four assassins painted.

So far I've got the metal all painted and drybushed. I'm just now starting on the webbing and stealthsuit. Given how much black and metal there is in the models I'm going to highlight the stealthsuit with red to try and tie it in the the rest of the army. I'm moderately happy with how it's turning out though it's hard to see exactly how it's going to look like until the model is finished. So for now I'm keeping faith that it will turn out ok. Here's the Evesor who I'm working on at the moment.

Ok that's my Tale of One Gamer update for another week or two. Check back in after the weekend and I'll try to have another shorter post up about something other than this project. In the mean time just remember that it's not really Christmas until you see Hans Gruber being thrown off the top of the Nakatomi Plaza...

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Blood Bowl is back!

It's back! Blood Bowl, the fantasy football game set in the Warhammer world has been released under it's 5th iteration from Games Workshop. As you may have guessed from all the Blood Bowl related posts on this blog I'm a bit of a fan of this game.
The new game doesn't greatly change from the old. There are a few tweaks around the rules and they have enlarged the board to fit the 32mm bases used for the new models but it otherwise appears to be much the same game. I've unfortunately not had a good look inside the box as mine is sitting under the Christmas tree, however there are a plethora of reviews out on the interwebs that highlight all the changes if you're keen to find out what they are.

So if I don't have anything really to say about the new game or it's unboxing then what the heck am I posting about? Well for me this is more of a nostalgic post. With the release of the new edition I thought it might be high time to retire my old Blood Bowl board for the shiny new.

Over 20 years ago I bought my first copy of Blood Bowl with the release of Blood Bowl 3rd Edition:

It was a thing of beauty; 9,860 cubic centimetres of beautiful cardboard prints, plastic templates, heavy duty card playing board, custom dice and 24 plastic miniatures. However to see the game now in comparison to the new edition, it does show it's age. The development of both miniature design and digital graphic design have come a long way over the last two decades and the new models and supporting game elements are, in my opinion, vastly superior to 3rd Edition.

Despite how awesome this game was 20 years of constant use will take it's toll and these days my copy of the game is looking a little worse for wear...

The box looks mostly intact from far enough out but closer inspection tells a different story.

As you can tell the corners are now mostly held together with tape. The box top itself has even taken a few knocks leading to the creation of 'breathing holes' just to help air out the board and templates inside. Speaking of which, my templates over the last 20 years have developed an interesting yellow hue.

They are slowly developing the warm amber hues of a good Scotch. A bit more time and I should be able to distil and bottle them into a fine brew to be enjoyed alongside future games.

My board has held up pretty well overall with very little wear and tear; a testament to a great product from GW's heyday. My tokens are also in pretty good shape though the Turn and Score markers have had a lot of their print rubbed off from dragging them across the trackers on the boards. I have lost one Orc Re-Roll token somewhere along the line, and I also lost the original D8 at some point too. The replacement D8 is starting to look a little worse for wear but the Block Dice look as new as the day I bought the game.

So where to from here then? Well I thought I would give the old board a bit of a send off before I bring in the new 'stadium' as it were. I've been throwing round a few ideas but I keep coming back to having some kind of 'Grand Final' game on the board before it gets taken to the rubbish dump. This has kind of played into another idea I've been simmering on for a few months...

Narrative and story arcs have always been the more interesting aspect of gaming to me. The actual gaming itself is more of any offshoot of the models I enjoy painting and the story lines I create around them. While games like Warhammer 40k are quite easy to develop a narrative around I've found it more difficult doing so with my Blood Bowl teams. About 6 months ago though I had an idea that has really grown on me. Story development in Blood Bowl tends to come out of playing games and seeing how your players evolve through both skill increases in leagues and antics that happen during games. To start building a story around each team I was thinking I would base them all in a fictitious league and allow the story of each team to grow based on the results of their games. I could manage most of the games through some kind of roll-off system without having to even pull figures out of the box, the first Grand Final though I thought could be played between myself and an invitational coach on the old board. It'd be a nice way to have one last game on the old board with my own models.

I'll start drafting this all up and get a post up in the next couple of weeks, then before Christmas day I will have a post of the first NIBBL (Nuffle Independent Blood Bowl League) final! Well at least that's the plan, lets see how things go.

As always, thanks for reading. I've not forgotten about the Tale of One Gamer, I'm a little behind on my target as I'm trying to do this Object Source Lighting thing and I'm really struggling to get it right. More on that later though so check back next week and I'll have some final photos of the Dunecrawler.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

A Tale of One Gamer...

Another week gone by and I've made some further progress on the Dunecrawler. All the base coating is done and I have begun highlighting the metal on the legs. You can see the difference between the front and right leg compared to the back and left.

There's still a lot to be finished and I'm a little concerned about the amount of time I have left. Unfortunately there wasn't much painting done over the last week as Sam and I had an engagement party, which meant a lot of organisation and a lot of friends visiting and hence hosting of said friends. It did mean we got to get out and enjoyed Wellington a bit more over a long sunny weekend. We also dropped into the Sunday harbourside market and I picked up a Kransky Langos with cheese.

Alright so it's not a burger, but these things are a-ma-zing! Deep fried bread with deep fried kransky all covered in cheese. You can feel your heart slowly stop beating with each bite. They are made by Tom's Chimney Cakes and they have a food truck that travels around the Wellington area. Check out their Facebook page to see if they park up near you and grab yourself some deep fried goodness. You won't regret it :)

Alright that's me for another post, I better get stuck into painting again. I'll leave you with an image of cuteness for the evening. Sam took Van down to David Jones over the weekend for his first photo with Santa. I'll admit, it's a bit strange taking a dog to see Santa, but no less cute for being so.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

A Tale of One Gamer...

Another week and some more progress, though still behind unfortunately. I've been throwing some time at the Dunecrawler when I have it to spare and I've managed to catch up a little bit on where I'm supposed to be. The model is glued into it's separate parts ready for base coating and I have managed to get the base coat on the legs as below.

I've got a bit of time at the moment as work is closed off for a day or two. For the benefit of anyone outside of New Zealand we recently had a few more big shakes. The Wellington CBD took a good hit from this one and has been shut down while engineers get around and inspect all the buildings, one of which is the building I work in. So in between helping people with clean up here and there I'm at home doing painting while I wait to get back into work.

I have also managed to get in a bit of gaming over the last month. I organised a 1000 point game with Bryn last Saturday and when I was working through the photos I found some more related to a smaller game I played with Mark several weeks before that. The games didn't go too well for me but it's certainly helping me figure out the myriad of crazy rules these guys use. Here's a brief rundown of both the games:

Mark and I played 500 points and the game was technically unbound in that we just brought whatever models we felt like. I had 1 unit of Rangers with Arquebuses, 1 unit of Vanguard with Plasma Calivers and a Tech Priest Dominus. Mark had a unit of Fire Warriors, a Devilfish, a Sun Shark Bomber (represented by the Stormtalon), a unit of Stealth Suits and a boss in a Crisis Suit.


Sneaky Rangers...

Dirty Tau!

Mark advances; the Fire Warriors blaze away at me while the Bomber poops on me.

On the other flank the Stealth Suits try to shoot me in the back before the Tech Priest jumps in there and takes them apart.

Admittedly I was confused about what to do and how to use my army. I set the Rangers back and tried to whittle down the Fire Warriors at range. With the same range and better fire power however I was fighting an uphill battle. The Vanguard ended up taking on the Bomber on the left flank while they crept up on the Fire Warriors from behind the bunkers. They did OK in that they managed to knock a couple of hull points off the Bomber and they cleaned up what was left of the Fire Warriors but I'm so used to playing Space Marines that I forget how fragile Toughness 3 and a 4+ save is. They in turn got cleaned up by the Crisis Suit and Devilfish.

By the end of the game I had done some damage to Mark's army but I had no units left to claim objectives with. Mark grabbed 3 of the 4 objectives and with other secondary objectives he ended up winning by something like 9-3.

The game with Bryn didn't fare much better. Bryn and I played 1000 points, Bryn brought Marines with two White Scars Attack Bike squads and a normal Bike squad led by a Librarian. He also had a small Dev squad with 4 Lascannons, a Thunderfire Cannon, 2 Scout Land Speeders with 5 Scouts in each and a second Librarian. I had two Vanguard squads; one with Plasma and one with Arc Rifles, a small unit of Rangers with 2 Arquebuses, a Tech Priest, 3 Kataphron Destroyers and 2 Onager Dunecrawlers with Neutron Lasers.

Turn 2 - So far I have managed to kill one Attack Bike and a couple of Devastators.

Attack Bikes in combat and re-rollable cover saves meant I wasn't doing much damage.

My Onagers managed about three kills the whole game I think.

Finally got my Kataphron Destroyers in range. Managed one round of shooting before they were gone.

At the end of turn 5 I had been tabled and I had managed only to destroy the Bike squad, a unit of Scouts and their Speeder. I at least managed to figure out some of my flaws from this game which I can hopefully implement to better effect in the next game. It doesn't feel like you get a lot for your points with Ad Mech as they are so frail they disappear very quickly, but I've picked up a few ideas about how I can work the army better next time so we'll just keep throwing mud at the wall and hope something sticks.

In the meantime I've got more painting to do so I better get back into it. Thanks for stopping in for a read and check back again later for more news on the Ad Mech...hopefully better news this time.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

A Tale of One Gamer...

Well last Monday, with only a couple of hours to spare, I completed my November challenge for the Tale of One Gamer. It's been a long month with a lot going on in between which has meant finding time to paint has been difficult. That being said though, the threat of having to sell of my precious toys has been enough to spur me on and get things finished in time.

And so I present the 32nd Vanguard of the Mechanicus Expeditionary Force Pi.

I've started to come up with a story line to build a narrative behind the models I'm painting which is why I've given the unit a name. I'll write up more of this background later as I flesh it out, but simply put I'm basing my Mechanicus force around an exploration force sent to terraform a new world for the Mechanicus of Mars.

To say I'm happier with these models than I was with the last batch I finished would be an incredible understatement. While I still struggled to get a whole unit painted within a month due to all the sub assemblies involved, I did manage to deliver a group of models that I am happy to put on the gaming table. I'm stoked with how the metal has come out in a dirty, dull tarnish to contrast with the bright red of their great coats. I'm also thrilled about how the green has come together. While I am still adhering to the Martian red of the GW paint scheme I wanted to steer away from the blue glow they used. I think the blue makes the models look too clean and I really wanted something more sickly to highlight the unhealthy radiation seeping out of their weapons and equipment. I'm much happier with the green and I feel it gives the models a much darker, grittier look more suited to the narrative of 40k.

Despite all this I'm not completely without frustration. This whole process is becoming a bit of an experiment into the unknown where I test out new techniques and new products. One technique I decided to try towards the end of painting these guys is Object Source Lighting (OSL) from all of the green light sources. The model in the back row with the Arc rifle is the one I used as a test subject, you can see a little OSL on his rifle and the light on his backpack. I really like how it's turned out, but seeing as it was an impulsive, last minute action I will have to return to finish off the rest of the models at the end of this project which is a little annoying. In future however I will be applying this to all further models. On the other hand one thing I'm not happy with is the snow on the bases. I bought some of the new Valhallan Blizzard texture paint to have a play with and I can tell you that I am far from impressed. This is what it is supposed to look like according to GW:

This is what it actually looks like:

Some might like this effect but the look I'm going for is a rocky mountainous terrain capped with patches of receding snow. I've tried to improve the look by mixing the Valhallan Blizzard in with some PVA and water to get the right effect but it still looks pretty naff. I'm confident I'll get it right with a bit more tidy up work but at the moment I just feel whole-heartedly disappointed with it.

I've also been looking at weathering effects and I'm pretty sure this is something I'm going to add in to the next step of this project. That's another step that will need to be revisited on all the models I've already painted at the end of the project. More re-work sucks but I really want to push my limits and explore as a painter with this project so it'll be worth the effort.

Speaking of the next step in this project I should probably lay out my goal for November. The original plan was to paint a vehicle for month three, so my next model on the painting table is a second Onager Dunecrawler
At the moment I'm clipping and cleaning the parts out of the sprues and gluing them together. I'm hoping to have the whole model glued and undercoated by the end of the weekend so I can begin base colours on Monday. Once again I'm a bit behind where I should be and I'm quickly running out of time, so I better sign off here and get back to modelling. As always thanks for stopping in to read and I hope you're finding these updates interesting or inspiring. Check in next weekend for another update and hopefully a quick post about some other random topic in between.