30 April 2007

Another Lesson Learned

Today I have learned that if you wash all of your pants at the same time, it pretty much limits you to staying in the house for a couple of hours.
My wife is approximately 2200 miles away visiting her family, and I am almost done eating the food she left for me to survive on this week. I suppose I should have rationed it out a bit, but it looks like I'll be living on Easy Mac and ice cream for the next few days. It is suprising that I survived the years between leaving home and the time my wife started feeding me regularly in college.
The good news is that I've mostly overcome my illness and I'm about 60% done with my unit of Clanrat Slaves. The bad news is that the sun is coming up and I haven't gone to bed yet. Hopefully I'll be able to wake up to wake up at a fairly normal time and do something with my day off. Then it's back to the grindstone for a few days of work and a long weekend with the National Guard.

26 April 2007

A Case of the Crud

Today I spent most of the day drugged up in bed, as I've caught some sort of energy-sapping runny nose/sore throat bug. I'm hoping that I feel better in the morning because I can't afford to be missing work.
A couple of hours ago I managed to drag myself out of bed long enough to clean up and assemble the rest of the Skaven in my possession. Maybe tomorrow I will prime them and at some point actually put some paint on the figures.

24 April 2007

Tonight I assembled most of a Clanrat Slaves unit for my Skaven. I'll probably have time tomorrow to assemble the last rank of the unit and spray them all down with some primer. I've only got eight more figures to purchase for my 3000-point Skaven army, and 42 more figures to assemble and/or paint. This Slave unit comprises the bulk of that number.
The Boise Warhammer group has a beginner's tournament tentatively set up for the middle of August. I'm hoping that I can have my Orcs and Goblins are finished out to 2000 points by then, but if not I can come up with a Skaven list for the tournament. It'd be nice to have two armies by then, though.

23 April 2007

My wife spent a good portion of her weekend cleaning up the kitchen, so I figured that I should spend a portion of my weekend cleaning something as well. I cleared out my hobby area and boxed up all my miniature projects aside from the last few Skaven I've got to paint. I also cleaned out a bunch of stuff from the "back room," which is where stuff we don't know what to do with goes to die. At some point I'll be taking my big box of action figures to donate to a second-hand store, where hopefully they will be purchased and put to a better use than sitting on my bookshelf. There is still a lot to do, but I feel better about doing something. A big step would be to get the shed cleaned out and move the weight bench out there. Then the computers and hobby stuff (my miniatures and my wife's crocheting/knitting) could be moved into the small room and the "back room" could be converted back to the bedroom.
I also signed up for a couple of college classes in the Fall Semester, so hopefully I'll be able to further my education in some form and advance toward a degree of one form or another.
And as an update on the Reaper Warlord rants, it appears that no answer is forthcoming to my question about ordering individual sculpts from the army packs. I'll give it a few more days and perhaps repose the question, but for now my Warlord stuff is packed up and ready to be abandoned.
With the recent price increases on Games Workshop figures, I thought about why I am angry about Reaper's change and indifferent about the GW changes.
I think it's because the relative cost of an entire army doesn't change that much on the GW side of things. Most of their price changes target the blister packs and individual characters, which really only bumps the price of an army up by a couple of percentage points, as you only need a few such figures for the average army. The bulk of a Warhammer army is made up of boxed regiments, and so far the prices on those don't seem to be rising.
Reaper's changes essentially double the cost of an army at Warlord's typical point level (1500 points). There are ways around paying that much, but the results are still either a lot more expensive than they used to be, armies made up of one sculpt repeated many times, or a combination of the two. A casual player or army builder has no real option to get around the extra costs.

More Griping About Reaper Warlord

I am growing increasingly frustrated with the changes to Reaper's Warlord game. In the forums it was mentioned that people who don't want to buy army packs (9 figures, generally 3 each of 3 sculpts) or blister-pack singles (all the same sculpt of one grunt figure) could buy a variety of the sculpts from the army packs from the online store. After re-doing my army lists to represent the point-cost changes I went to the website to see what the prices on the singles are. There is no listing for them anywhere on the site as far as I can tell.
I have 7 units of figures that I need for my armies that all come in at the 4-5 figure mark. I'm unwilling to buy seven packs of nine figures when I'll only end up using half of the miniatures in each pack. If I went that route I'd end up paying almost $9 a figure. It just doesn't make sense financially.
And if I buy the blister-packed singles, I'll have units composed entirely of one sculpt. That is undesirable from an aesthetic perspective.
I've posted again on the forums asking if there is indeed a place to buy the individual sculpts, and hopefully there will be something that I missed in my visit to the site. Otherwise I will scrap my plans to build up some Warlord armies and divert that time and money to a different project, perhaps a Space Marine army or some sort of historical force.

20 April 2007

The Battle Nuns are finished, but due to the camera not being in its usual spot, I wasn't able to get pictures of them before work. I'll try to post some photos of them tonight.
I've fallen way behind on everything, it seems. A lot of it seems to stem from my general inability to wake up in the morning (actually closer to early afternoon) when my alarm goes off. I think my slackened energy level may have something to do with my diet, as I have been eating almost solely straight-up junk for a while now. The obvious answer is to start eating better and get some exercise. It's easier to sit here on the couch and think about it than it is to actually do it.
I slapped some dullcoat on the Battle Nuns tonight, so the metal is shiny and the cloth is less so. I'll hopefully snap up a few minutes tomorrow and flock the bases so I can post a few photos here and be done with them.
From there, I'd like to get my unit of Clanrat Slaves assembled and primed, hopefully in time to get a good basecoat on them by the end of Monday. It will more than likely take a bit longer than that, but it's good to set goals. I've found my focus wandering, and I think my production has suffered because of it. When I had a firm goal to get my 2000 points of Skaven done it seemed like I had a lot of motivation for the project and got stuff done without it feeling forced. The same sort of feeling applies for the contest minis I've done recently. At the moment I've got minis from 3 or 5 different projects on my desk and armies planned out for another handful of games, and I don't really see an end in sight for any of it. The short version of all of that is that I need to get some more focus in my hobby time. And hopefully with the drama of the Fantasy Basketball playoffs behind me I'll have more time to devote to the rest of my life.

19 April 2007

A Lesson Learned

Last night I learned that you should not purchase and consume egg rolls from a gas station convenience store.

The Fantasy Basketball Season is Over...

The NBA season ended yesterday, and so did the Fantasy Basketball playoffs. I did extremely well this year, with all four of my teams receiving little digital trophies. In my head-to-head leagues I got a 1st-place finish and a 2nd-place finish. The 2nd-place finish would have been a championship if I had played Rajon Rondo on the last day of the season instead of playing Nene Hilario. Oh well, second is still okay. In my Rotisserie leagues I had a 1st-place finish and a 3rd-place finish, and I was the only person in both of those leagues to use up my full allotment of games at every position.
The Fantasy Baseball season is well under way, and my teams need to pick up the pace. I think I'll be okay, though. I drafted well and the season is a long one.
I also am almost done with the Battle Nuns. I just need to finish up the bases and add some dullcoat to the places that shouldn't be shiny.

13 April 2007

I took my miniature for this month's painting contest to the store today. The shop owner liked the spikes on the base. I asked him what sort of gaming goes on in the shop, and he told me that the games played there are Dungeons and Dragons, Warmachine/Hordes, and the Star Wars CMG. None of that really appeals to me, so I'll probably just keep entering the painting contests as long as they keep holding them. I picked up a miniature while I was there today. It's one of the barbarian-types, Lars Ragnarson. I had to get out the pliers, as his axe was bent all the way around his head. The axe handle straightened out pretty well.
Today I looked at my shelf of "ready-to-paint" miniatures, the pile of bare-metal figures scattered around my desk, the partially-painted unit of Battle Nuns on my desk, the boxes of unassembled figures scattered everywhere and I came to a conclusion. I have a large pile of unpainted lead (and plastic). I am hesitant to count it, but it's probably in the 200-figure range. At my current rate of two to three figures a month, that's like 6 years of painting. I think I need to paint up a couple of Clanrat units or something to make myself feel better. Actually, if I could just get through these dangblasted Battle Nuns I'd probably explode into tears of joy.

12 April 2007

Battletech or CAV?

I've been interested in the various 'Mech games for a long time, and I've even owned several copies of different Battletech rulesets and starter boxes. I've been on a bit of a 'Mech kick lately as I've dug the Mechwarrior 4 computer game out of my footlocker and started playing around with the campaign game. From playing that I've branched out into once again researching some tabletop games featuring big stompy robots.
On the Battletech side of things, I believe a new Master Rulebook of sorts has been released in the last few months. The Battletech universe is interesting, and I like the customization that you can do with the "character sheets" for the Battlemechs. It seems to lend itself well to a campaign game in which a player could level up his pilots and salvage gear to upgrade his 'Mechs. On the downside, that nitty-gritty level of detail also is rumored to make the game play very slowly. I've also been browsing photos of the miniatures that are available, and a lot of them look quite dated. I think the miniature line could stand to be updated a bit to make the minis look more modern and mechanical.
Reaper just came out with version 2 of their CAV rules. I downloaded the PDF for them and I've been looking through it as well as browsing the Reaper catalog to see what the minis are like. I think the minis look a lot nicer than the Battletech minis. As far as the game goes, each miniature has a card that sets out in-game abilities, stats, and damage track. So all figures of a certain type will have the same stats. There's no real room for customization or individuality, aside from a few upgraded abilities you can purchase with your army points. This greatly speeds the game up at the cost of detail.
I'm still not sure if I want to get into either game system, but at the moment I'm leaning toward CAV, simply because it is unlikely that I'll find players in my area and I think I'll enjoy painting CAV miniatures more than I'll enjoy painting Battletech minis.

11 April 2007

I've finished my contest miniature up, and will probably be taking him to the shop at some point during this week. The pics may have some glare on them as some spots on the dullcoat are still wet. I left a gloss finish on the metal parts of the model, but brushed dullcoat over the gloss on the cloth and wood. Since this miniature is in a rather boring pose, I spruced up the base a bit to suggest that he's standing behind some field fortifications waiting for a battle to start. I modeled the outward-pointing stakes after the ones in the last photo I've posted.

I hope my model does well in the contest, as there is going to be a drawing in June for Reaper's Deathsleet dragon model. Each contest entry is good for one entry in the drawing, and each contest victory gets an extra entry in the drawing, as well as a free miniature for the next contest. Nothing gets me going like a chance at free stuff.

10 April 2007

I've finished my mini for the April contest and placed him on a base. I didn't have time to take any pictures today, so I'll probably finish him up and post some pictures tonight.

09 April 2007

The Fantasy Basketball season is almost over. I have managed to reach the final round in both of my head-to-head leagues, and I like my chances of winning both of those leagues, or at least splitting them with one first-place trophy and one second-place finish. One of my rotisserie-league teams is in a bitter back-and-forth fight with another team for 2nd place. My other rotisserie-league team just took the first-place spot from the team that's held the top spot all season. I'm hoping I can hold on to it, and end up with four 2nd-place or better trophies this season.
The first week of the Fantasy Baseball season started out well for me, but ended in disaster. A lot of my best players got shut-out by the weather this week, and my place in the standings took a free-fall. I've got plenty of time to make it up, though, as the baseball season lasts forever. This daily roster-management is getting me down. Next year I might go for the leagues that have a weekly roster, so I only have to switch my players around one time every week.
It's occured to me that I sounded quite angry in my last post's remarks about the Reaper Warlord army packs. I suppose it's because I am heavily invested in three partial armies for the game, and the changes to the distribution system stand to cost me a lot more money than I really want to spend. That leaves me in the lurch, as I either lose by having three partial armies that I was excited about painting or by spending a bunch of extra money to finish them out. I think I'll just paint my Warhammer and Supersystem stuff until the situation sorts itself out or I break down and buy the rest of the models I need.
I recently got a gift certificate from Wyrd Miniatures and ordered their Misaki, Warmaiden figure, which came in the mail a couple of days ago. It's a cool sculpt and I've seen a few painted up that look really nice. My issue is that it will take some doing to get it assembled and looking right before I paint it. The figure comes in four pieces: body, rock base, head, and weapon with hand attached. The feet don't seem to rest correctly on the rock, so I'll have to do something about that. I can't seem to get the head matched up to the neck, so I'll have to work up a way to attach that. And the weapon was bent all the way around in a loop and looks to be extremely fragile and impossible to straighten entirely. There are also several metal tabs poking off of the figure, at least one on every piece. They will have to be clipped off and then I'll have to work the areas where they attachedto the point where I can paint them. To me it seems like a lot of effort just to prep a mini for painting.
I did a little more work on my contest miniature this week. I finished his crossbow and his gloves. I also started on the cloth portions of his clothing. At some point I'll finish him up, hopefully in the next day or two.

I've been wondering if I still want to build my Warlord armies up. Reaper just announced that they are cancelling the 3-packs for grunt-type soldiers and moving to singly packed figures or "army packs" of 9-11 figures. The problem with the single-packed figures is that Reaper took the best-selling sculpt of each grunt type and only sell that sculpt in the single packs. The problem with the army packs is that they cost approximately $40 each. The price point on the 3-packs was perfect for a standard visit to the hobby shop ($12-14) and the 3-packs usually contained 3 different sculpts, so you could build up a unit of soldiers that didn't all look exactly alike.

On the Reaper forums this move has been met with a lot of resistance from casual gamers (like myself) and people who like the 3-packs for games and painting outside of the Warlord hobby, but there are a few hardcore Warlord players who are quite adament that Reaper is doing the best thing for the customers.

The price point issue has been a major issue of debate, with the hardcore players saying that they'll just save for an extra week to buy the army packs and the impulse buyers saying that they'll just buy something besides Warlord figures. I fall into the latter camp. $40 falls into the "planned purchase" category for me, and so I'll probably be buying from other companies with the $10 or $15 purchases that make up the bulk of my hobby spending. Also, how many hobby shops will take a risk on a $40 pack of miniatures that they can't be sure they'll sell?

The problem with getting only one sculpt in the single blisters has also been discussed. The fanboys say that if you really want variety, you can just order single minis directly from Reaper's online store. I have two issues with this. First, one of the selling points of the army packs was that they cost less per model than the smaller packs. That's true, but a lot of people don't need or want 9 or 11 figures of the same type. And ordering the singles through the online catalog is a lot more expensive per model than the army packs or the 3-packs. My second issue with the "order from Reaper" solution is that it bypasses the local hobby shop. This may be good for Reaper in the short-term, but taking business and foot-traffic from the already hard-pressed hobby shops will probably be bad for them in the long term.

I like the minis and the army concepts, but the price point and extra models I'd have to buy for the army packs are putting me off in a big way. For me, Warlord is a cool game that I can pick up a couple figures for every once in a while when I don't have any paints or other figures I need. I just can't justify planning my purchases around these new packs when I have other projects with higher priority. So Reaper is going to lose my business on the Warlord end for a while until they get this sorted out.

In other news, we had a nice visit to my parents' house tonight for Easter dinner. There's always good food to be had on the farm.

05 April 2007

A lot of the files on my mp3 player were broken, so I cleared them all out and I've been slowly putting my music back on the player. It's a slow process, and I am very far behind on getting all of the music I like. I haven't bought a lot of cds since I got home from Iraq, and there are huge holes in my collection, especially when it comes to older stuff like classic rock, the great hair bands, and "real" punk.
One of my greatest music moments happened in Iraq. We had gotten intel that there were some bad guys in a little village out in the desert and our platoon was assigned to be the outer security for a dawn knock and search of the village, which consisted of maybe two dozen little buildings. We had a hard rock soundtrack playing in our truck to get us pumped up while we drove to the town. I was the gunner on our truck.
When we got to the village we drove a quick circle around it and started peeling off to our respective spots. Rage Against the Machine's "Guerilla Radio" was playing as we pulled into our spot, and the sun was huge, just poking over the horizon in front of us. As I swung my gun around to face out, two Apache helicopters flew directly over us and split off in opposite directions to circle the town. It was like a clip straight out of a recruiting video. That's probably about as pumped up as I've ever been about being a soldier.

04 April 2007

April Contest WIP

I've started working on my entry for the April Painting Contest. Yesterday I did a basecoat and ink wash on his armor. Today I highlighted the armor and did basecoats on a couple of details.

03 April 2007

This weekend my promotion to Sergeant was made official. I also signed the papers to transfer me back to my original unit, so I never actually had to leave the unit. This weekend we did some testing on various skills, and I was assigned a team to take care of and make sure they all got through the tests in an expedient manner. We all got through our tests, so I guess I earned my E-5 pay this time around.
My wife had the day off today, so we spent the day together. We had originally planned to go fishing today, but the fishing reports for the reservoir said that fishing hasn't been good recently, so we opted not to go.
We did stop at the hobby shop to see the results of the painting contest. I'm pleased to report that I won, and got the free miniature for this month's contest. The contest for this month requires entrants to paint a Legionnaire miniature. The free mini they gave me is this Black Legionnaire with a crossbow. It's not the most dynamic figure on earth, but I'm sure I can do something with it. I also picked up this Dwarf Barbarian because it's a cool sculpt. There's something neat about a short person wielding twin maces.
We saw a couple of good Will Ferrell movies as well. The first was Stranger than Fiction, which was a pretty good film, and it's out on DVD.
The second movie, Blades of Glory, is out in theatres and also stars Jon Heder. Ferrell and Heder play rival figure skaters who are banned from singles competition and have to team up to regain their former glory. It was a pretty funny show.