Wednesday, 30 January 2013

No School Like the Old School - Battletech

A chance conversation last week resulted in us breaking out Battletech this week for a quick game (well, quick for Battletech!)  One lance of four Mechs per side and, although no Mechs were destroyed, my lance certainly had the upper hand in dishing out the damage.

Got to say that I had an absolute blast playing this.  It reminds me that I enjoy complex games and I was surprised how quickly the "to hit" modifiers came to mind without endlessly checking the rulebook.  Never destined to return to the regular game rotation, I'm sure we'll get this to the table again soon.

Oh, and a quick word about gaming etiquette.  If you're not playing in a game, either keep relatively quiet or bugger off and stand somewhere else.  You know who you are!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Punic Wars - Roman Socii Archers

The eagle eyed of you will have noticed these in my last post, but I managed to get them finished yesterday.  The second entry to the Analogue Painting Challenge, some allied archers for my Punic Wars project.

Again, 10mm Pendraken figures that could use another pose in the range, but still a nice little unit to paint up. I'm gradually getting used to this scale and have an idea now of what will and won't be visible once the basing is finished.

Not exactly the most interesting unit I could have done, but I'm trying to build up some momentum before starting the heavy infantry.  I am undecided over eight or ten figures per base, so it could be up to forty figures per unit, still daunting at this tiny scale!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Quick Update

Just a quick update on what I've been up to this week.  I finally spent some time prepping the first of my sci-fi figures.  I've chosen the UNSC range from Ground Zero Games, I like the big "bug" heads and there's a lot of variety on offer.  Frustratingly I ran out of my usual ready made putty, so I had to use some old Milliput for the bases.  Using it caused an absolute mess and took an absolute age to set.  Any idea if this stuff has a use by date?

As I had a couple hours free yesterday, I managed to knock out another skirmisher unit for my Punic Wars project.  This time it's some allied Roman archers.  Pictures should be up on Curt's blog soon.

Also managed the first victory of the year - albeit at the fourth attempt.  I headed to the club this week without a specific game on, so brought Quarriors along and had three quickish games.  I suffered two quick defeats before inflicting an absolute trouncing in the third game.  Still love Quarriors, WizKids recently announced another expansion (the third,) but I need to get round to pick up the first two.

Lastly, I went a bit eBay crazy at the weekend, picking up some second hand books and a couple figures.  This 15mm resin scenery pack was bought on a whim, really cheap, it should fit in nicely on any historical table.  Bizarrely, this took just two days to arrive from Italy.  Two days!  I'm still waiting for a book to arrive from Kent after five days!  What's up with that?

Monday, 21 January 2013

Reasons I Don't Get stuff Painted - Tablet Games

I mentioned earlier that we picked up one of these tablet-not-an-ipad devices at Christmas.  Got to say it's a cracking wee gadget for emails and the net when you don't want to sit at the computer. Although we agreed not to clutter it up, a few games have found their way onto it.  I'm haven't played many games on my phone in the last few years, so I was really surprised at the quality on offer. Fyi we have an Android tablet and at the moment I'm playing:

Devils Attorney

This is a simple wee battle game with RPG-lite elements - you take turns with the computer to attack each other with your different abilities.  The take here is that you're Max McMann, a sleazy 80s defence lawyer and the battleground is a courtroom.  Your attacks are things like "tamper with evidence" or "discredit expert" which sounds a little dry, but fits nicely.

The real hook is the slick 80s feel from the game and the amazing production quality.  Instead of levelling up and buying new equipment like an RPG, you buy garish furniture for your apartment which, in turn, increase your three stats, Materialism  Decadence and Vanity. Before each case is a voiced and unique dialogue between you and the prosecutor, terrible puns and insults, but again all very 80s.  This cost me 69p, which I'd easily have paid simply for the intro movie:

I've read that Devil's Attorney is quite short, so I'm trying to limit myself to doing 1-2 cases a day.


Love the board game and don't get to play it anywhere near enough nowadays.  This is a straight up copy of the boardgame with a lovely rural soundtrack added and the tantrums and gloating missing. With the added seafarer and the Knight(?) expansion, Catan has kept me amused for hours this winter.


Err, exactly the same comments apply here as for Catan; love the game, don't get to play it often, this is a great version and it just doesn't get old.

Contre Jour

Wow, no idea how to describe the premise, if there even is one.  Essentially you have to move a wee limbless creature around by, and here's the hook, manipulating the terrain.  It's kind of organised like Angry Birds etc, in that the levels last barely a minute and this sucks you in to a "just one more go" mindset.  Very simple concept, excellently executed and coupled with a great soundtrack and visuals.  Cost 69p, what else are you going to spend 69p on?

So there we are, four reasons for my slow rate of painting!  Suggestions welcome for other games to try.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Innocent Mage - Two Minute Review

It's been a wee while since the last one, so here's another two minute review.

Before we get going though, I should point out that I'm a little bit sexist, but only in a very limited way.  For the record, I've never discriminated against a woman at work, nor do I think someone's ability to do something is affected by their gender. . .  With two exceptions; fiction author and stand-up comedian.  The Mrs pointed both of these out to me when I refused to read a Maria Snyder book (because it was too "wooly") and when I switched the tv off when Shappi Khorsandi was on.  In my defence, we watched the comedy show (it was alright) and I read the Snyder book (better than I thought,) nor can I adequately explain why I instinctively avoid female fiction; Alison Weir is a favourite writer, but she's a historian.

As a result of this (and the subsequent nagging I got from the Mrs) I've read more female authors than previously, Kristin Cashore and Gail Martin being two that I've particularly enjoyed.  Still struggle with female comedians though.
So it was against this backdrop that I picked up The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller.  I was havering between this and the new Brent Weeks book, but went with this because, you know, trying not to be sexist.  The Innocent Mage is primarily the story of Asher, a young fisherman who goes off to make his fortune in the big city.  The city Dorana is in the kingdom of Lur, occupied by two different peoples, the Olken and the Doranen.  Asher arrives in the city and picks up a job and . . . that's pretty much it.

What made the book enjoyable to me was the decent range of characters and the skillfully written dialogue (and there's a lot of it.)  There's an interesting tension on offer between the two groups of people, with one being the ruling class, but it isn't overdone, just nicely there in the background. There's also a decent supporting cast offsetting the main characters, although not developed as far as some other writers do, Miller has done well populating her fictional land.

You can tell that it's a début novel however; the pacing is waaay off, with the book gradually drawing you in and then abruptly hurrying you to a finish.  There are other issues as well, notably the perspective bizarrely starts jumping round to multiple different people, when it's been exclusively two characters for the first three quarters.  Lastly, there's the plot itself which, magic and prophesy mumbo-jumbo aside, it's the story of an individual pursuing a sensible and efficient career in the public sector!

So excellent dialogue, interesting premise and some wonderful scenes, The Innocent Mage is easily worth a read.  FYI, if you end up getting the same edition I did, don't flick through to the author bio, it's on the same page as the preview to the sequel with a fairly big spoiler in the first line! Enjoy.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Punic Wars - Numidian Horsemen

The first unit of the year is finished, a unit of Numidian Horsemen for my Punic Wars project.

This was also my first entry into Curt's Analogue Painting Challenge.  I was getting really fed up of seeing my name with no points next to it, so I picked a unit I could get painted in a couple session to get something on the board.

10mm figures from Pendraken, they're a nice little sculpt, like most of their range.  However, if you're going to make two poses, how much extra effort is it to make a third sculpt?  Not sure if there are too many figures per base, but I want the two armies to have lots of boots on the ground - hopefully they still look like light cavalry considering how disordered they look.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Black Crusade - Tome of Blood

40K haters look away now.

The latest Black Crusade sourcebook, Tome of Blood, arrived a wee while ago and, during our week under the covers, I've had a good thorough read.  Billed as a sourcebook for followers of Khorne, it actually has lots of content for all players and GMs.

Like the previous book, Tome of Fate, there are four new character types to chose from and, again like Tome of Fate, it's the human choices that really catch the eye.  The Chaos Marine archetypes are just as you'd expect with a Berzerker (melee) and a Night Lord (fear) on offer.  The human archetypes let the reader explore some frontier worlds of the 40K universe, Messia being my favourite with it's Dune/Arrakis feel.  Other than characters, there's a lot of background material here, rules for legacy weapons, massed combat, more rituals and investigations.  Lastly, there's another complete campaign using the newer rules.

A lot of new artwork is on show, most of it very atmospheric, some of my favourites are on this page.  And I'd also say the standard of writing here is pretty impressive, much more so than the early Dark Heresy/Rogue Trader games. FFG have pulled in a few new authors in their recent books and they have seem to have picked up the freshness of the writing (if that even makes sense?)

To be honest, ToB was the book I was least looking forward to, as just how much depth is there on offer to roleplay an uncontrollable frenzied killer.  Overall though, the rage/frenzy aspect isn't all that prevalent for the players (NPCs are another story) and the book is much more about new options and scales for combat.

I haven't managed to get a RPG session in for a few months now; we were running them over skype and, when my broadband went, that wasn't possible any more.  I think I'm going to try and find a group locally (it would be the first time since my uni days,) but not until later in the year; not feeling terribly sociable at the moment and can't see that changing in the near future!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Light at the end of the tunnel? Nope, it's snow!

Finally, after two chilly weeks, we've finally got heating and hot water back in the house!  Not a day too soon as this was the view from our window this morning.  Personally, I love the snow, it's just a lot more enjoyable when your house is warm and dry!

I've got next to no painting done in the last two weeks, it's just been far too cold to paint once the sun goes down.  So it has been under the covers activities (heh heh) for both of us.  On the flip side, I've ploughed through a fair few books and read some great new wargames rules, not to mention getting a few hours of Halo 4 in.

This weekend however, I managed to get some time at the painting desk and finish my first entry for the Analogue Painting Challenge.  It's been really bugging me seeing my name on Curt's site with zero points next to it.  Another two units sit prepped on the desk today, but the snow means I haven't yet undercoated them.

So, happy I've managed to the first unit of the year finished, hopefully I'll get straight back into the habit and you won't have to wait too long for the second one!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

X-Wing - New Year, Same Old Luck

After a break for the holidays, it was back to the club this week for a game of X-Wing.  Since we played last, Adam has picked up a copy of the game for himself, which now gives us the opportunity to run some different lists.  I decided I wanted to try the "Tie-Swarm," fitting in as many Tie Fighters as possible, in this case, seven.

Opposite, Adam opted for three tooled up Rebel ships, two X-Wings and one Y-Wing.  Luke Skywalker was one of the pilots and his ability is to regenerate shields, while the other X-Wing had an Astromech that let him repair damage.  Two abilities that would prove decisive.

Still, at the end of the first turn, above, I was feeling pretty confident, those seven Tie Fighters can put out a lot of shots!

Turn two and the Imperial squadron focused all their attacks on the Y-Wing which was destroyed, but only just.  I saw this a triumph in itself (it takes eight hits to destroy a Y-Wing) as I've barely put a scratch on the Rebel Battle Bus before!   There were still two X-Wings on the table though, time to deal with them.

Or not.  Turn four and I'm down to five Tie fighters.  At very close range, X-Wing is a very brutal game as everyone gets bonus attack dice.

Turn six and I'm starting to get a bit pissed off.  Another two of my ships have gone.  To make matters worse, Luke Skywalker has managed to restore both his shields and the other X-Wing, which was almost destroyed, has repaired all the damage.  Still, if I could isolate each and focus my attacks I could still turn this around...

I'm not even going to bother telling you how the game ended!

So, a new year, but my luck (or skill) at X-Wing hasn't changed.  I can't think of anything worse in wargaming, than having your opponent point out your obvious mistakes, not only to you, but to everyone standing around the table watching!  Despite my horrendous run of losses, I'm still enjoying X-Wing.  We're both looking forward to the new wave of releases and seeing what FFG have planned after that (fingers crossed for the B-Wing next!)

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Found My Kickstarter? Beyond the Gates of Antares

A Kickstarter has appeared for Beyond the Gates of Antares (GoA,) A sci-fi, army level game penned by the esteemed Rick Priestly.  I mentioned earlier that I wanted to get involved in a Kickstarter, if only to say that I had done so.  Nothing out there is really grabbing my attention, but there looks to be a lot of potential for GoA.

There are three essentials that any sci-fi game need to nail down; miniatures, background material and rules.  Oddly, GoA hasn't really touched any of these yet.  They've put up a few concept pictures up, but not much else.  The rules are touched on, basically D10 based, but again no real detail.  Lastly, beyond the phrase "hard sci-fi" the background material isn't covered at all!

The big sell for Gates of Antares is that the developers want input into, well, basically everything in the game.  Sounds like my kind of thing.  The big risk is that, much like western democracy, most of the people can be wrong and, in this case, the game swings wildly in a direction I'm not keen on.  Still, I think the names and companies involved will manage to avoid anything too ridiculous.

As long as they drop the cat people.

So I've found my Kickstarter, pledging a "modest" amount for whatever the box set eventually looks like.  The delivery date is the end of the year, but that's so vague that it could well be earlier or later.  Still, check one for my resolutions for this year (admittedly, the easiest one and one that only involved spending money!)

Check out the Kickstarter page here, as well as the Dark Space Corps page here and an interview with Priestly on Bell of Lost Souls.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

2013's Wildly Optimisic Goals

As last years resolutions have come and gone, so it's time to set some objectives for 2013. I love these posts at this time of year, seeing what everyone thinks they'll be getting up to, so hopefully you can bear with me and read another one!

I'm going to run these in roughly chronological order i.e.  what I'd like to get done first to get some games in, followed by what I hope to get up to later in the year and, finally, some objectives that either don't fit into any other points or are heavily dependant on available funds.

 American Civil War Union Army

The first big project of the year is a 15mm Union army for the American Civil War.  This should be quite a novelty as I'm doing this in conjunction with Adam from the club, who is doing the counterpart Confederate force.  We both bought enough figures for about six or seven units from Peter Pig (thanks for the 20% discount btw) so my immediate objective is to get these painted.  I'd like to do a bit or research and depict specific regiments, but try and avoid becoming a slave to historical accuracy.  The plan is to get a game played sometime in February.

Flames of War Easy Company

Already started, I'd like to get a 1500/1750 point Flames of War force done early in the year. There are a fair few FoW players at the club now, but no US players.  Again, I'd like to get a small game in by the end of February with fully painted figures, maybe about the 1000 point area.

10mm Punic Wars

A project purely for me, both sides of the Punic Wars in a small scale with large numbers of figures.  Again I've picked up a fair few figures, mainly from Pendraken, so the aim is to get these painted up before ordering many more.  I'm not very experienced at painting up lots of small figures quickly, so I'll aim to get what already I have, painted by the end of June.

Generic Sci-Fi

Two projects in one, a generic Sci-Fi 15mm land force and a generic starship fleet.  With the new rules from the Lardies and the impressive update to Gruntz both on the tablet, I've got a real itch to get these on the table.  A couple orders from Ground Zero Games in December provided the core for both forces, all that remains is to get some paint on them.  Again, the end of June looks good to have these finished, or at least, what I already have finished. Ideally, these would be done earlier, but I don't think that's at all realistic based on what I've put above.


Up until now, Infinity has been a game purely for me I.E. I enjoy the game, the background and painting the figures, but I'm not that bothered about getting others involved.  My goal this year is to run at least one demo game at the club or wherever else possible.  I've really got the bug again for Infinity, so I'll put in another aim to get a third faction started and paint up 150 points for it (I'm thinking a PanO Military Order force.)


I want to put up one of these miniature trackers on the blog AND update it regularly.  Not sure how much detail to put up, but I'll start with just listing what I paint e.g. 10mm mounted x 16 etc.  It's the kind of thing I shy away from normally, in case I don't paint much and it stays static for months on end, but I think it will be another tool to get me painting more.  In addition, I want to revisit this post every quarter(ish) to see how I'm getting on for the year.

Get more gaming in.  Now this is a generic goal that you will see on every bloggers resolution list!  In particular, I want to get more board and in particular card games in.  The in-laws gave me Netrunner for Christmas (one of the benefits of keeping an up-to-date Amazon wishlist) and it looks an ideal candidate for regular gaming.  Alternatively, I'm open to whatever games present themselves from friends or at the club.  Ideally, this would be on a different day of the week from our club night, so it won't impact on my miniature gaming too much.

Buy and paint up the Archangel.  'Nuff said.

Either add to or finish up one of my existing projects; 15mm Great Italian Wars (if the Venexia figures ever reappear,) 15mm Fallschirmjager, 28mm Waffen SS and Soviets, 28mm Greek and Persian Wars, 20mm Force on Force USMC and Generic Enemy Force, Warmachine, Hordes and anything else I remember.

Lastly, I think I want to sign upto a Kickstarter project.  There are few that have come and gone that I wish I had jumped in on.  Actually, I'm really impressed with how stable and secure the whole process seems to be; the only problems reported seem to be more about poor decision making or lack of creativity on behalf of people in charge of some individual projects (Dreadball anyone.)  The Kingdom Death kickstarter looks good (actually the minis look gorgeous, not too sure on the game aspect,) but it ends shortly, so I probably pass on it.  I'll need to keep my ear to the ground more on this one.

Well I think that's enough to be getting on with.  As with last year, I've no real expectation that I will achieve all of these (I'm far too familiar with myself for that,) but I hope this will serve as a motivation to keep plugging away at these projects.

Enjoy what's left of the holidays everyone and have a great 2013.