29 February 2008

I had a bunch of vacation saved up and really didn't want to go to work anymore, so I decided to take Friday-Monday off and have a four-day weekend. I have a few plans as far as what I'm going to do with my time off, but nothing is really set in stone. I cleaned up a little in the computer room this evening and watched a movie with the wife. I was hoping that the big envelope in the mailbox today was my copy of Battlegames #11, but instead it was my wife's pattern book for crocheting Care Bears.

I also got a surprise package in the mail. I always think about mail bombs when I get surprise packages but I'm not really important enough to be the target of anything but a random attack, so I ruled that out. It was from Beckett Media, and I couldn't for the life of me recall ordering anything from Beckett recently. So I opened up the box and found that I'd won a Molten Core Raid Deck for the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game from Beckett Massive Online Gamer Magazine. Last year when I was playing World of Warcraft regularly I bought a subscription to the magazine, and in every issue there is a survey you can fill out and send in to enter yourself into a contest. Apparently my survey got chosen and I won a prize. So that was a nice bonus for me today.

Tonight I plan on going through my Lord of the Rings army lists and figuring up exactly which boxes and blister packs I need to finish all of the armies. That way I can make sure to only buy the things I need and hopefully acquire everything before this legal battle between New Line and the Tolkien estate gets too crazy. I'd really rather not have some fight over money leave me with a bunch of partial armies. I really should have rented a movie to watch while I work on that, and I still may make a run to the Red Box later on.

And the big news is that my wife is pregnant. She's only about a month along now, so hopefully everything goes well and I can look forward to being a dad right around late October-early November. Of course, that means I will probably not be attending the Tactical Solutions wargaming convention on October 17-19, but there will always be other conventions to attend. I should probably not be playing games ten hours away with my wife so close to having a kid. We've been trying to have a child for around two years now, so we're pretty excited at the prospect.

26 February 2008

I'm finished with the Easterlings. They are not amazing but I think they look all right, and that's good enough for me. I could fiddle around with them until they're perfect but I'd rather move on and get some more figures done. Anyway, it's late and I need to go to bed so I'll leave you with the photos.

25 February 2008

W.I.P. Photo and Army Builder Addiction

I really didn't work on the Easterlings much this weekend as I spent most of my time with the wife. We took the dogs to the dog park, which is generally a good time. My sister went with us and brought our niece and their dog. Buddy goes around to get petted by everyone and sniff the other dogs' rear ends and Annie lives only to chase the ball. My wife picked up a Chuck-It, so we can throw the ball the length of the dog park fairly easily. Well, I can. Bekah can throw it directly into the ground fifteen feet out. Either way, Annie loves it. She completely ignores the other dogs and people, and we actually have to cut her off after a certain number of throws or I think she would chase the ball until the point of exhaustion.
Once we got done there we hit up the shopping center with Hobbytown and the fabric store (a pretty good arrangement), so the girls went their way and I went mine. I picked up my Lord of the Rings Dwarf box set and some paint. The store had one copy of the Field of Glory rules on a shelf as well as one of the Roman army books. I thumbed through them and decided to order a copy once I got home. Perhaps if it had been at the FLGS (Friendly Local Games Shop) I would have purchased it there, but Hobbytown isn't all that supportive of gamers and I could get the main rulebook and the Late Medieval army book on Amazon for the same price as just one book at Hobbytown. Rumor has it that the army book covering the Dark Ages and Vikings will be released in early 2009, so I've got that to look forward to.
After making my purchases from Hobbytown and Amazin I still had a little fun money left over to blow, so I agonized over that for a while. I was leaning heavily toward the Carlos shirt from the Supergrass website as I've wanted that shirt and the McVicar shirt since ca. 1999. The exchange rate from here to the UK has always put it just out of reach for me, though. Also, the McVicar shirt doesn't come in a size small enough for me.
The other option was to order a couple of Games Workshop figures and parts that are only available on their website. Most important is the Goblin Warboss on Gigantic Spider figure, which is extremely awesome.
While I was debating the merits of those options I came across a thread on The Miniatures Page discussing the Army Builder software, which is basically an army list builder that calculates point totals and the legality of various army builds. I browsed on over to the site and saw that the list of supported games covers most of the armies I have planned, so I purchased a license and downloaded the software. I then proceeded to become obsessed with making army lists. I made digital versions of my Skaven and Orcs & Goblins at the 1000, 2000, 2250, and 3000-point levels. I built two Mordheim warbands. I put together a lot of Lord of the Rings army lists at 500 points and then expanded those lists out to 1000 points. I even put together a couple of Warhammer Ancient Battles lists for Vikings. I've barely even started and already I've probably got my money's worth out of the program. So I'm pretty excited about that.
One thing I've tried to do with my Lord of the Rings lists is avoid the use of named characters. I don't want my armies to be bogged down in the minutiae of the Lord of the Rings universe, and I don't want my games to be hero-fests, where the regular troopers are just there as cannon fodder for the big nasty heroes. This is a lot easier at the 500-point level due to the limits that are set for how many figures you can have in an army at each point level. For the first 500 points the figure limit is 50. When you bump it up to 1000 points the figure limit is only 75, so you can only have half as many figures for the same number of points. Continuing to build with basic troopers won't get you even close to that many points. So my 1000-point lists have a few characters in them. I can get around it in some armies with big point-sinks like trolls or a Mumak, but in armies that are mostly made up of cheap troops I've had to resort to using named characters. It doesn't bother me too much, but it's interesting that you're pretty much forced to use the characters in larger games.

23 February 2008

I didn't get any work done on the Easterlings, as our tax refund came in and I had to work out where it all needed to go. That took up all of yesterday evening, and tonight I had to do my grocery shopping after work. I am hopeful that tomorrow I'll have time to get them finished.

I've been having second thoughts about using my spending money from the tax refund on a bunch of Mahud warriors from the Far Harad list in the Lord of the Rings game. The amount of money I have would buy somewhere between 500 and 600 points, but that only adds up to around 30 figures and when you average it out you're paying nearly $5 per model. That's because the Mahud figures are all metal and packaged in blisters rather than boxed sets. For the same amount of money I could buy a big Dwarf boxed set and a Gondor boxed set. Most of those models are plastic and I'd get over 100 figures that add up to over 1200 points. If I did that I would be paying around $1.50 per model and have two complete good armies to do battle with my evil Easterlings and Moria Goblins. Right now I'm thinking that I'll get the Dwarf and Gondor boxed sets with this money and build my Mahud force one blister at a time over the next few months. So tomorrow I'll probably go to Hobbytown and pick up the Dwarves, and at some point I'll order the Gondor Battleforce from The War Store. Hopefully it doesn't get hung up in Salt Lake due to weather like my Easterlings did.

It's that time of year when the baseball cards start coming out and I get that collecting itch again. The last time I got the itch I bought a bunch of cards that were released when I was a kid. The big speculation boom was going on at that time, and so millions upon millions of cards were printed to keep up with the demand. Most of those cards are worthless now, and easily acquired. Anyway, I bought a couple of boxes of cards, opened the packs, and sorted the cards out in numerical order. While I was at work my dog found the box of cards, pulled them all out onto the floor, danced around in the pile, and peed on it. In all my years of collecting cards, I never once completed a set. I'd really like to finish a set one of these days. I do have a coupon from an online retailer that I used to buy Heroclix from for $15 off of any order. I may have to use that and buy a box of this year's baseball cards. I'll probably talk myself out of it, but it's fun to think about.

21 February 2008

This pygmy goat has an awesome beard. If I could grow a beard, I would totally grow that beard. Then I would buy some cheap sunglasses, join ZZ Top, and be bad and nationwide like they are. With all the money I made I'd buy this goat, put some sunglasses on him, and commission a little goat RV that would be pulled behind my tour bus.

So close...

All that's left to paint on this batch of Easterlings is weapons, boots, and belts. I added some blue to their uniforms to help break up the red and bronze a bit. I think it looks quite smashing, although it took a little while for it to grow on me. I think I've still got enough staying power to finish off all my Easterlings before I move on to something else. Aside from my DBA armies, I could probably spend the rest of the year working solely on Lord of the Rings figures. I may do that, as I am not sure how long the line will continue being produced. I don't know all of the legal implications, but it appears that New Line (the company that made the Lord of the Rings movies) worked the accounting out in their books to make it appear that the movies didn't make any money. Since the movies technically didn't make a profit, New Line didn't pay the Tolkien estate any money for the rights to use Tolkien's books. So the Tolkien estate is suing New Line and has blocked the movie based on The Hobbit from being made. Since the Games Workshop figures are based on the movies and appear to be licensed through New Line, a possible result of all this legal stuff is that the Games Workshop figures could be taken off the market, causing much anguish among those gamers (like me) who have unfinished forces for several factions.

Pretty much every other line of figures I buy frequently or have plans for is fairly stable. The Warhammer games probably aren't going anywhere, historicals are pretty stable since you don't really have to license history from a movie company, and Reaper's figure lines don't appear to be in imminent danger of cancellation. That's my line of reasoning. And if all of this gets settled and Games Workshop produces Lord of the Rings figures for 30 more years, at least I was motivated to really get after a project and see several forces completed.

[In this space I very nearly went into a lengthy explanation about my excitement over picking up Felipe Lopez for my Fantasy Baseball team and the possibility of platooning him with Jim Thome as a way to combine a .260-76-10-56-23 player and a .274-84-39-110-0 player to make a .267-80-25-83-12 player, which is a lot more useful to me than either player would be on his own.]

20 February 2008

Lots of Projects

Although I am very focused on my Easterlings right now, I am not immune to feeling the pull of the other projects scattered around my work area. Lately I've been thinking about the pile of CAV 'mechs (acquired at a nearly 75%discount from another Miniatures Page member) in my desk drawer. There are plenty of Warhammer figures in the unpainted pile, two DBA armies, two Mordheim warbands, a Moria Cave Troll, and plenty of not-yet-purchased figures to think about.
Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile
I really want to stay up and finish these Easterlings, but I'm trying hard to stay close to a proper sleep schedule. If I go to sleep a little earlier than I'm used to it helps my wife sleep better and I find I have more time and get more done in the afternoon before I leave for work.

Another hour or three of painting should see this batch of Easterlings finished off, so hopefully at some point tomorrow I'll have some pictures to post here. Close up they don't look all that great, but at arm's length they are passable.

With the progress I've been making on the painting front, I've started thinking about the Lord of the Rings campaign I want to run. I'm thinking I might project the timeline of my game out to a couple hundred years after the events in the books, which will give most of the main characters time to die off and let me set the politics of the setting a little more to my liking. That way I can still use the Middle Earth map, but I won't feel as bound to the alliances and continuity of the "proper" Lord of the Rings mythology. It also gives me an excuse not to paint elves, as they should be pretty well cleared out by then. I really have a dislike for elves.

My main sticking point with the campaign is how to run the various factions. I'd like to model alliances and subterfuge but it's rather hard to keep secrets from yourself or play both sides equally. So I'll be looking around for solo campaign systems that provide for some sort of artificial intelligence moderation for all or some of the factions in my campaign.

18 February 2008

This should be a quick post, as I want to get to bed at a reasonable hour for once. I've been trying to get through the first eleven Easterlings, and as you can see in the photo they still need plenty of work. Eleven is a rather odd number of figures to be painting. That's how many figures I had the metallic basecoat on before I got burned out and had to stop. Once I finish with these I've got another nine all assembled and primed, as well as a box of 48 (plus six horses) still on the sprues. I don't have my rulebook in front of me, but that should be a fair number of points. I really want to get a bunch of the new Harad models but gathering a force of them is going to be a bit pricey, especially if I want to have a Mumak (giant elephant-looking creature) in the army. Most of the tax return is going to bills, but we've reserved a bit back for each of us to buy some hobby stuff. I may have to get some more Lord of the Rings stuff, as that seems to be the game system I'm motivated to paint for lately.
I have run into an interesting dilemma regarding my paintbrush. I bought a bunch of paintbrushes from Fernando Enterprises, but I've only used one of them for the last 16-18 months. It's probably about six months past being useful, but I can't bring myself to abandon it. I'm comfortable with it. Unfortunately I've been noticing that it doesn't really come to a point very well anymore and I can't paint detail with it like I used to, so now I have to start using a new brush. I'm kind of attached to the old one, though. With that being said, I highly recommend buying brushes from Fernando. They're very high quality, comparable to brushes that sell in art stores locally for $10 or more. Most of the brushes from Fernando come in at under $2.00, including shipping.
I had my first Fantasy Baseball draft of the season this weekend. Once again I was "randomly" selected to pick at the turn (the last pick of the first round, then you turn and have the first pick of the second round) which often leads to difficulty in getting good quality players, as runs on the various positions can start and end in between your picks. Still, I did a lot of research and was able to put together a pretty good team that I feel has a chance to win the league. I'm worried about Stolen Bases and Saves, but the rest of the categories are in good shape.
I got my copy of Battlegames #4 in the mail a couple of days ago. It didn't hold my interest as much as issues 2 and 3, but that's just because many of the artcles don't deal with historical periods that I enjoy. I see on their website that issue #11 is due to come out soon, with a special offer inside for those who subscribe for 12 issues. I may have to look into that, as it sounds like a pretty good offer (and there are rumors of a free gift for those who take advantage of the subscription offer).
My wife finished her pirate quilt. She has some complaints about how the edges turned out, but I think it's pretty neat. Here's a look at part of it.
I think that's about it for me tonight.

15 February 2008

No working on minis today as I have a Fantasy Baseball draft this weekend, and as it's the first one of the year I have to get about 250 players ranked. Tonight I got through all of the batters, and tomorrow I'll try to get the pitchers done. For Valentine's Day my wife got me a nice big set of highlighters, which I've been using to color-code the various statistical projections I've got for the players. She knows me very well.

I've set up the TMP Fantasy Baseball League again and hopefully we'll get a lot of participation. If you are a Miniatures Page member, you can go there to find the thread with sign-up information. Last year the championship came down to the last day of the season. I was able to tie the eventual winner, but his team beat me on the tiebreaker.

I've got another issue of Battlegames magazine on the way, so I've been anticipating that. So far it hasn't arrived, but I can't really expect stuff to get here from the UK in a flash. I was pleasantly surprised when the last two issues arrived as they got here quicker than my package from New Jersey, which got stuck in Salt Lake due to poor weather conditions.

This weekend I'm planning on really busting through these Easterlings, but I know there are several other things that will take up some time. I've got some plans with the wife, I have to do the Fantasy Baseball draft, and I really need to sort through the piled-up projects on my desk and make some sense out of the jumble.

14 February 2008

I've been pretty lazy on the wargaming front lately. One thing on my mind is the subject of Ancient/Medieval rules, as there's been quite a bit of hype and discussion about a new set of rules called Field of Glory (FoG). It's published by Osprey Publishing, the makers of all those fascinating little booklets on various soldiers, battles, armies, and equipment that act as a great jump into a wargaming period. From what I hear, the production quality is very nice and gameplay feels right for battles in the pre-gunpowder era. Basically it seems to be an answer to Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB).

I'm already somewhat invested in books for WAB, but according to many folks, the game isn't supported very well anymore and future releases are likely to be few and far between. FoG promises to be updated more often with supplements covering various historical eras. But all of my periods of interest already have books out in WAB format so that doesn't really affect me unless I become interested in some new historical period, a development that I don't really anticipate in the near future. FoG doesn't have any expansions that I am really interested in at the moment, as they mostly center around Rome and the late Medieval period. My interests rest in the Dark Ages. But it is hard to resist a shiny new rulebook, especially at the wonderful pre-order price of $23.07. I'll probably wind up sticking with WAB for the moment (by moment I mean the 5-10 years it will take to paint up a couple of armies).

So for historical wargames I will focus on DBA for 15mm and WAB for 25mm. I like the idea of DBA armies because they are so small and cheap. I took my figures from 50 Paces yesterday and sorted them out into their various elements. My plan for now is to paint all of my Easterlings, paint my DBA armies, and then perhaps come up with the terrain pieces for the DBA armies. I haven't actually tried my hand at any terrain-making yet, so that should be an experience. I also need to again make time for reading my history books. I've been pretty scatter-brained lately during any free time I have, so I've not been very productive.

12 February 2008

My DBA armies arrived in the mail today from 50 Paces. I ordered a Vikings DBA army and enough packs to make an Anglo-Danish army. I was impressed by the service I got from them, as they took the time to help me build my army via e-mail. My first order was delayed due to a typographical error, so they refunded my shipping on the second order after e-mailing me to let me know the status of my order.
I also got my Easterlings box set from TheWarStore. One of the Easterling cavalry models has got a broken sword, but I'm pretty sure I can reattach it without too much trouble. The package was delayed by weather in Salt Lake for several days, but it finally reached me.
I've got plenty of stuff to keep me busy; now I've just got to find some time and motivation to paint it all up. It'll be nice to have a weekend at the end of this week, as this past weekend I was away playing Army with my National Guard unit.

04 February 2008

I've been pretty busy this week, but my activities didn't include much in the way of painting. With all the snowstorms work has been pretty hectic. I've been playing a lot of Medieval 2: Total War, but it just seems impossible to win the campaign. I seem to get about halfway through the victory conditions and then the wheels come off of my empire and I wind up struggling to survive. It's frustrating, so I'm taking a break for a while.
My DBA rulebook and Viking army haven't arrived yet. My big box of Easterlings also hasn't arrived. I did get my two copies of Battlegames magazine, though. I ordered issues 2 and 3. The first issue is sold out, but I'm trying to acquire a copy through The Miniatures Page. I could order it as a PDF file, but the collector in me needs a hard copy. I really like the issues I have so far, and I'll probably order a couple per month until I'm caught up to the current issue and start a subscription. The magazine focuses mainly on historical games and has a lot of articles on various aspects of the wargaming hobby, from scenarios and campaign systems to battle reports and suggestions on the various stages of starting and finishing a project. Reading those magazines is really the only hobby-related thing I've done this week. I may try to finish up at least ten Easterlings by the end of the week, but it really depends on how late I have to stay at work over the next few days.
Jamie sort of tagged me to answer a bunch of questions. Really this post belongs on my wife's blog as I am trying to reserve this space for hobby stuff, but I'm bored at the moment.
1. Where did you meet your wife? We met online, on an LDS singles dating site. She's from Georgia, a fair distance away from Idaho. We found out that we had a mutual friend, as one of the guys I knew as a missionary in San Diego had grown up with her in Atlanta.
2. What was the first thing said? I'm not sure where the original messages are, but I think she sent me a message regarding my fascination with mullets.
3. What was your first date? After a couple months of internet and phone conversations, she caught a ride to Utah with her brother. I drove down to meet her there and we hung out for a few days.
4. How long did you date? I think we talked online for three or four months, then she moved up to Idaho and we dated for another 14 or 15 months after that before we got married. I don't know the exact timeline, as I am bad with dates.
5. Where did you get engaged? At her apartment. I'd been taking her to do her grocery shopping fairly regularly and had a plan to deliver the ring after pretending to buy her something from the gumball machines with the little plastic containers in them, but for some reason she absolutely refused to let me buy anything from the machines. She also kept trying to get my keys out of the pocket that the ring was in because she wanted my Mr. T Talking Keychain, so she was unwittingly foiling my plans to marry her. I finally gave up on my awesome plan and proposed to her after we watched a movie at her place.
6. When did you know you loved each other? Blech. I'm not answering any questions about feelings.
7. What does your ring look like? I was about to leave for Iraq and we didn't have any money, so I bought a silver band from Wal-Mart for $10. It wirks for me.
8. Where did you get married? In the Boise, Idaho Temple.
9. How did the reception go? It was short, which was good. We pretty much had dinner and headed out. The whole thing was planned in like three days.
10. Where did you go on your honeymoon? We didn't really have one. I had to get back to my unit so I could go overseas. We saw the zoo in Atlanta and drove up to Chattanooga, Tennessee for a couple of days where we saw the aquarium and went through a cave. We also saw a reptile museum and an alligator farm. Someday we'll go to San Diego or something and have a real honeymoon.
11. Do you have pet-names for each other? No.
12. What's your favorite thing to do together? We pretty much like to do anything together, although she gets bored at hobby shops and I get bored at craft stores.
13. Do you show affection for each other? Hold it, hold it! What is this? Are you tryin' to trick me? Where's the sports? Is this a kissing book?
14. Do you have a song? Not only do we have a song, we have a greatest hits cd. Scorpions - The Best of Rockers 'n' Ballads.
15. Do you like pygmy goats or regular goats better? I'd have to say pygmy goats. They're like the Mini-Me of goats.