Menoth’s Wrath   1 comment

(And we’re back… for how long?  Who can say!)

A long time ago I picked up the 4 Warmachine starters, some glue, and some paint from a local game store that was going out of business.  I don’t remember what inspired me to do this.  I may have been given a demo of the game at another store, one of my friends who already knew about the game may have demoed it for me, it may have just been a whim.  I had built and painted gaming models in the past, quite significantly actually.  Mostly models for Dungeons and Dragons but also some for other games – a completely unknown to me pair of companies called Citadel and Games Workshop mostly.  However it happened I decided that I was interested in this thing that people were playing on these tables that were designed to look like a miniature battlefield.

Also a long time ago but not quite as long a time ago I somehow convinced a young, well younger, boardgamer from my gaming club to try this game that uses metal models that I had now become addicted to the assembly of.  I have absolutely no recollection of our first game, or even exactly when it was, but when Privateer Press announced that the next faction box for Warmachine would be a pirate themed set Justin was all over that.

Since then Justin and I have supported each others model buying and building and sometimes painting insanity fully.  We probably should have been separated by our wives long ago.  I regret not a single purchase.  Now this most recent show of support is for Justin’s renewed interest in our legacy game.  He has been hankering for some Warmachine and after some late night talks about the reasons why I stopped playing I agreed that I would join him in his foray, or re-foray, into the world of Warmachine.

Menoth Jacks and Caster from the 2 player starter

Menoth Jacks and Caster from the 2 player starter (primed with brush on primer)

Justin has already introduced this series and talked about the factions and how we acquired them so I’ll skip over all that and jump right to it.

So what do I write about when it comes to rebooting Warmachine and working on models I have been building for years?  Well, they are plastic now.  I thought I was going to be disappointed.  Aside from making the cleaning of mould lines harder I am finding the plastics excellent to work with.  I built the Trollbloods starter in metal for Rob so he would participate.  It took about as long as I spent on the Vaquisher in the Menoth starter.  Maybe we can rack this up to experience with metal models, and more specifically Warmachine jacks, or maybe metal really is a lot easier?  Not sure.  I even did some pinning of the Trolls to fix a broken axe and it was still much faster than plastic.  Whatever it is the end result is the same.  Plastic or metal, once they are assembled Warmachine ‘Jacks, and even Hordes beasts, look great.

Since starting this process we have managed to get in a few games.  Khador are a very difficult army to break but Menoth seem to be doing ok.  I hope to try my hand at a battle report one of these days and it would make sense to write one for this game.  I plan to talk about tactics and some of my frustrations when it comes to facing Khador (they are soooooo strong!).  I will also be tracking my purchases and progress on assembling and painting models.  And on that note, I have recently acquired a Revenger and two Paladins of the Wall.  Details in the next post.

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The Lord of the Rings Strategy Game: Part Two   1 comment

An Unexpected Journey

So my positive experiences with the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game led me to start buying more figures so that I could try out more of the scenarios from the first Journeybook, The Fellowship of the Ring.

This in turn led me to start making terrain.  Although I’m a Graphic Designer, I had not attempted to make original structures for a game since way back in 1987-88 when I made two Hockey arenas to pimp out the boardgame, Strat-o-Matic Hockey.  They have been long since destroyed and I only recently found a photo of one of them:

Hockey Arena

That project was a lot of fun because I was trying to add a personal touch to my drafted team from Strato.  I then made a domed stadium (with open and closing roof) for a friend’s birthday but unfortunately I have no record of it.  This was my first taste of adding chrome to a boardgame.  Back then, my buddy and I also went to the local Radio Shack and bought wire, buttons, a buzzer, and a beacon light to pimp out my stand up Coleco Rod Hockey game.  I made the tower out of foamboard and hung the beacon from it.  The wiring and buttons allowed us each to trigger the buzzer and beacon whenever we scored.

Back to the Journeybooks. Each Journeybook comes with diagrams and instructions on making the various distinctive terrain pieces that adorn the playing areas for each scenario.   I found this encouraging for me to start to build structures again.  Sure, I could have bought a lot of this stuff, but cumulatively, the cost of making your own terrain is far less expensive than buying it, and some pieces are not available for purchase. Was I nervous about making terrain from scratch?  Yup!  There is a startup cost involved as well as a high cost in time commitment.  That and I still disliked painting.  Overall, there was this feeling of dread as I had no guarantee that the end result would look “decent”.  Online sources of “inspiration” usually contain pictures of awesome work done by experienced miniature gamers.  Although I’ve dabbled in it, I am far from being an expert.  Even so, I would hate to waste my time on something that didn’t look “table ready”.

Why go to the trouble then?  Is using the appropriate terrain pieces even necessary?  Well no, but here’s the “rub”.  Virtually any appropriately sized object can be used as terrain.  Even basic cut shapes. In fact, the rules for miniature games don’t ever require….”miniatures”.  Every miniature game can be played with plastic bases and either stand-up or flat cardboard chits on top.  (a simple “height” rating can be adopted for line of sight if using flat chits)    As long as the bases are relevant, you can even proxy entire armies with any like-sized miniatures or cardboard cutouts that you already have.  As long as you have access to the rules, you do not ever have to purchase or paint a miniature/terrain piece and you can still enjoy the tactics, the throwing of dice and the various combos between unit types.

So, would I ever seriously entertain this cost-effective way of playing miniatures games?  Absolutely not. Why?  Because of the main reason why I like playing miniature games. Aside from the rulebook, miniature gaming is all chrome. Miniature gamers spend all sorts of time and money on unnecessary details that offer nothing in terms of rules implementation and tactics.  However, chrome is everything when it comes to mood, and theme and personality.  It’s all about a game that “looks” good.  A game that catches your eye when you walk by a gaming table. A game that you have personalized in some way and is faithful to its subject matter.  Much like pimping boardgames!

I happen to think that chrome can be every bit as important as a ruleset.  Where else can you showcase your enjoyment of a hobby if not in the ability to add your own stamp to it?  My Orcs will look the way I want them to and even if I follow a colour scheme, they were hand painted by me!  My cliffs will be shaped the way I made them.  Every cut.  Every brush.  Every success and every mistake.

So the Fellowship of the Ring Journeybook has diagrams and suggestions to make rocks, walkways, stairs, rivers, Amon Sul, Amon Hen, Buckleberry Ferry…etc.  So I took the plunge and I made all of them!  🙂

Terrain built following the steps from the Fellowship of the Ring Journeybook.

Terrain built following the steps from the Fellowship of the Ring Journeybook.

I hadn’t had this much fun doing “crafts” since my  Hockey arena days.  I should clarify.  I have certainly enjoyed pimping out boardgames over the past 6 years or so.  But little of that involved making original pieces.  That side of the hobby involves painting figures, cannibalizing parts for use with a game and/or redesigning and printing out custom chits or boards.  Creative?  yes, but it’s still not quite the same thing as actually making something from scratch.

Now following diagrams in the Journeybooks is not an example of making something from scratch either.  What the Journeybooks did for me was help me get my feet wet again.  When I made the Hockey arenas, I did not plan them out.  I made them “on the fly” and I certainly didn’t paint them.  By making the “Fellowship” pieces, I became more confident to try something original. It taught me some of the skills I would need  to start making my own plans for a mod.  This time, I chose the boardgame Spartacus: A Game of Blood and Treachery.  As it is also 28mm in scale, the Gladiatorial arena could be used as terrain as well!

Here is a record of the building process; from planning to completion.

Spartacus arena stage1 Spartacus arena stage2 Spartacus arena stage3a Spartacus arena stage4

Unexpected feedback!

On Boardgamegeek.com, I was asked by GaleForce9 for permission to use pics of my arena on the Facebook page for the Spartacus game.  I agreed of course, and they sent me a nice letter of thanks (Gratitude!) as well as the complete set of promo cards for the game.

I was also invited to submit my arena pics to the 29th Monthly Pimp My Boardgame Contest and at this very early stage, it seems to be doing well.

So in a sense, I’ve come full circle.  From Hockey Arena to Gladiatorial Arena.  A byproduct of gaming that remains exciting for me and my interest in both Miniatures and Boardgames!

Now hang on a sec   1 comment

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Justin’s Khador: 1, The Other Guys’ Armies: 0   Leave a comment

At least in terms of having painted Battlegroups, I win!

…not that it’s a CHALLENGE or anything.  And it’s not.

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So, akin to Loy’s little push to the rest of the ToG contributors, here is my challenge: PAINT YOUR WM/H armies and let’s get a’fightin’!

Thanks for reading.

Posted January 7, 2013 by mrborges in Khador, Privateer Press, Warmachine/Hordes

Challenge to my fellow Tale of Gamers editors   2 comments

So 2012 wasn’t a great year for gaming for me. I was distracted  with work and family so painting/gaming took a back seat (as it should when matched against those 2). Here we are in 2013 and the first thing we always talk about in a new year is our resolutions. Every year I say I’m going to paint more and gaming more but I’m thinking to myself … what’s going to move me to honor these goals?

Let me tackle painting first. I love collecting miniatures and thinking about how cool a model will look when it’s all assembled and painted. Unfortunately, that process between opening the package and putting it on the table full painted is a bit tough. I’m a decent painter but it does take me a long time to finish a model. Assembling and priming is not a problem for me but I’m somewhat of a picky person when it comes to painting. I’m not satisfied with a bare bones paint job … mostly due to the fact that once I say I’m finished a model, my wife picks it up and brings it two inches from her face and looks at all the detail.

Going off topic a bit, my buddy two summers ago convinced me to be his running buddy and join his fitness challenge. I don’t like running and I wasn’t in really any big need of losing weight or improving my health. But somehow he convinced me to join and I went along with this regiment for quite a few months.

So back to painting, my idea is to challenge all my fellow “Tale of Gamers” or anyone else out there who’s in a similar boat to do the following with me:

At the start of each month, take a picture of one or more minis that you plan to finish by the end of that month. It doesn’t have to be a brand new mini in an unopened box/blister. Let’s face it, we all have a ton of unpainted, partially painted, almost finished, and/or finished but on a plain base minis … we need to finish these minis to make room on our workbenches for all the other minis we have piling up.

At then end of month, post again with the finished product and I mean FINISHED (which includes a completed base … that’s my crutch). Plus post a picture of the next month plan.

Who’s with me?

My January plan is to finish my Malifaux Neverborn crew. Lilith is finished except for her base. All the other minis are in some stage of painting so this shouldn’t be a tough month for me.

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Posted January 4, 2013 by loychan in A Tale of Gamers, Malifaux

Custom Scenic Bases   1 comment

Recently I assembled Lashers and Scion for my Brood warband.  The Lashers are sculpted climbing up bits of rubbled buildings.  This made the models look unusual when just glued down to a plain base.  I decided I would try my hand at filling out the base with some “junk”.  I used the following things:

– A chunk cut out of a Tim Horton’s gift card (remaining balance unknown).
– A plastic plug from an Ikea furniture set, intended to fill a drill hole where a bolt would be.
– A grey drywall screw plug.
– Some tiny metal rings from a clothing rivet repair kit.
– Several pieces of sprue from a GW plastic kit.
– The pour holes from the plastic Menoth starter i purchased recently.

I visualized the various parts as being scrap from recent battles (specifically against the CORE) and leavings from the operation that long ago left the planet.  The chunk of card was cut into an odd shape and drilled with a few holes to look like an armour plate that had bullet holes in it.  The plug had thin flanges on it that looked like a CPU heat sink so I cut it down into a square and damaged some of the flanges so it would look like a generator/engine block/processor or whatever.  The grey drywall plug I bisected and the cap became something that looked like a tire rim and the shaft became a fairly interesting looking robotic spine.  The tiny rings were cut in half and glued down side by side to look like a giant spring buried in the sand or possibly a metal ribcage.  The chunks of sprue were cut down into rocks and a long “metal” or “stone” beam.  And finally, the pour holes from the Menoth kits were trimmed and became barrels.

Once I got all the junk glues down onto the bases it was very hard to look at what I had done and be able to say; “once primed that is going to look like what I intended and not just a pile of crap I glued to the base.”  I decided that to help assist with the look of realism I would add grit to the bases.  Something I NEVER do.  I paid Justin a visit at his home to get in a game and hopefully do up the bases.  Unfortunately we both forgot.  In a stroke of luck Rob came by last night and I asked him to bring along his basing kit.  He gave me a quick run down of how to go about applying sand and gravel flock to a base and then I went ahead and did the three Dark Age models and my Menoth starter.

This morning after the glue had dried completely and the bases were already looking great I applied a pretty thick coat of Vallejo Black Surface Primer, the brush on variety.  I am very happy with the end result…and here it is:

Lasher Bases

Unfortunately I didn’t take a good picture of the bases at each stage of the process.  I am going to do something similar for the rest of my Brood so I will document that process more closely with pictures of the source parts, how I cut them down, the raw base, flocking, and priming.

Enter the Trollbloods   3 comments

Looks like the Warmachine Tale of Gamers is well underway and I’m already seeing some Hordes discrimination.  Yes, Hordes is the the ugly younger brother of shiny well established Warmachine.

I’ve played a good amount of WM with my Khador army, so Hordes is a new thing for me.  Just before taking a trip to Vancouver, I picked up the Hordes Mk2 rules and gave them a good read on the plane.

The real difference I’ve found so far is that Hordes is more of a pay as you go system rather than a pay up front system.

So here are a couple of challenges I’m tackling with the Trollbloods:

  1. Trolls are pretty low priority for me (below Orks, High Elves, Khador & Tomb Kings)
  2. I find the color scheme of the Troll clothing pretty bland
  3. The Trolls are very detailed models and deserve a lot of attention to get them right.

All three of these challenges really lead to just one thing…

How do you paint models you don’t really want to paint?

It’s a question that everyone in the hobby eventually has to deal with.  Sometimes there’s a unit that’s essential to your army that you’re just not fond of the look of.  Sometimes your group wants to play something different from what you want to paint…and other times the models just look too daunting that you don’t want to take up that mountain of work.

Yes, I guess you could just play with primed models or bare metal, but here’s a couple of tricks i’ve used to get the tough jobs done.

Paint flesh first

Miniatures painting is all about bringing a tiny sculpture to life and the fastest way to get that life going is to paint the flesh first.  So the first color that went down on the Trollbloods was a base blue for their skin.  Sometimes just that first color is enough to get a miniature going.

Ignore Details

Most miniatures have 3-5 large areas of color.  By ignoring things like eyes, jewelery, belts, runes, etc. you can kickstart a miniature and get them on the table faster.  Modern paints are such high quality that you can easily go back and add details without overpainting.  Just be sure to keep your coats thin.  For the trolls, I used blue for flesh, leather for clothing and metal for armor.  I also painted the base green and black.

15 Minutes Only

Getting to the point where miniatures look great takes a lot of time.  A single miniature probably takes about 6 hours.  Some of this time is saved by painting like an assembly line, but the amount of work is still heavy at best.  To trick your mind into thinking it’s a shorter time, what i like to do is start by painting in 15 minute sessions.  By sitting only for 15 minutes, I generally have an appetite for more painting rather than being burned out by a long session.  Also, 15 mins per day for week adds up to almost 2 hrs!

Read the Lore

By reading the story behind the miniatures and understanding the personality of them, you get additional inspiration to paint em.  Reading lore is a fast way to increase that emotional drive behind painting.  From what I gather, the Trolls are a fading race, much like the Wood elves or the High Elves.  They are slowly being forced off their lands and are having to band together to survive.  After my game against the Menoth, I can see why…

Play more!

By far, the most effective way to get rid of the painting blahs is to play a game with them.  After my recent clobbering by Azmzero’s Menoth i cannot think of anything except getting these blueskins painted and back on the table.

Give a couple of these tips a try and let me know what works for you.