29 December 2008

I made a little more progress on my Space Marine squad over the weekend. They still need some details and highlights painted in, and I haven't even touched the sprues with their backpacks and weapons yet. I don't know that I'll be able to get them finished before school starts next month as I will be gone most of January doing army stuff. At least I'll have a good starting point when I get some free time again. I still haven't figured out the new camera, so there is some flash and glare in the photos. I tried not using the flash, but the figures wound up being too dark. I probably just need a different lighting setup on my desk. The Terminator is just in the photo as a comparison.

You may notice that the Terminator does not have all the red highlights that the Tactical Marines do. According to the fluff, the Terminator armor belongs to the 1st Company of a Chapter, while I've chosen to have this squad of Tactical Marines be part of the 3rd Company. The colors of 1st Company are traditionally silver/white, which can be seen on the Terminator's little shoulder shield. The color for 3rd Company is red, which can be seen on the shoulder trim and right kneepads of the Tactical Marines. I'll probably continue to build my Marines as members of 3rd Company with proper attachments from 1st Company and 10th Company. The 10th Company is traditionally made up of Scouts and does not have a color, as the Scouts haven't achieved full status with the Chapter and thus don't get their own heraldry. At least that's how I understand it. I am by no means a master of any game system's lore; I'm really just going by what's in the front of the army book.

Not much else to talk about, really. About two months ago I ordered a subscription to White Dwarf. It had been confirmed that the cover price had been raised by $2 per issue and that the price for subscriptions had also been raised, but I noticed that the subscription price on the website hadn't been changed to reflect the price increase. I wondered to myself if Games Workshop would honor the listed price, so I made my order and paid with a credit card through Paypal. The Paypal page for the transaction said "awaiting merchant action" for two months and then out. The Games Workshop order page said "awaiting merchant action," and it still does. I got a confirmation page in the mail from Games Workshop about a week after I made the order. My credit card was never charged. I figured that I had made my order in the limbo between the price change announcement and implementation, so Games Workshop had just ignored it and let it time out. But today I opened the mailbox and found a copy of the January White Dwarf, which I had already purchased at the store in the belief that my subscription had not gone through. The little address block indicates that I have 14 issues left on my subscription. I'm going to contact Games Workshop tomorrow and find out what they want me to do. I'd be happy to pay them their money as I don't want to be a cheat, so we'll see how that goes. And for further reference, if Games Workshop announces a price increase, don't try to beat it with a preemptive order.

27 December 2008

The Ork Stompa photos have started popping up elsewhere on the web, so I'm going to post them here:

The model is rather large and orky, with tons of little gretchin running around on it. I haven't seen any mention of a price point, but I'm assuming it will run somewhere in the $95 price range, similar to the Baneblade and Shadowsword kits. Of course there are plenty of discount retailers on the internet and occasionally locally, so there is no real reason to pay the MSRP on GW models.

26 December 2008

I worked on Space Marines on and off throughout the day. My wife was very awesome and pretty much gave me the whole day to sit around and fiddle with my hobbies. I think she sensed that I'm a bit stressed out about going back to school and soon being the sole breadwinner in the family, as well as a few other things we've got going on throughout the next year. So it was nice to have a day with very few demands aside from putting paint on figures. Due to schedules we will be doing the traditional Christmas stuff at my parents' house tomorrow with all of my siblings and their families, as well as my Grandma. Back to the Space Marine squad, these pictures are rather terrible, but the figures are coming along nicely.

I also got the Games Workshop newsletter in my e-mail today. The newsletter included some pictures of a new Ork Stompa model that will be released in Spring 2009. It is a huge model, the profile for it can be found in the Apocalypse rulebook. I'm not sure that I'll ever have a need for one, but some of those new Super-Heavy plastic kits from GW are pretty neat-looking. I am still pretty excited for the Ork Battlewagon that releases in January and the Stormboyz that release a little later in January. I'd post the pictures of the Stompa here, but I haven't seen them pop up on the web anywhere else yet and don't want to be the first one to get crushed by the cease and desist hammer.

I got in a little bit of World of Warcraft in between painting. I just can't really find the fun in it anymore. I've tried, but the feeling I get is similar the the way I feel when watching TV. I spend much of the time thinking about the other things I could be doing. So I don't think I'll be pumping out the fifteen dollars a month to keep the subscription going after this free trial runs out.

I've also been listening to a couple of podcasts recently. I think I've mentioned them all here on the blog before. First is The D6 Generation, which comes out every two weeks or so and covers a wide range of games, from board games to miniatures and a little bit on the RPG side. The other is 40k Radio, which only covers Warhammer 40k and is possibly slightly less family-friendly than The D6 Generation. 40k Radio is a weekly podcast. For the month of November they spent most of each podcast going over the Tau army list and the various options that one could use for a Tau army.

25 December 2008

I've been slapping some paint on a squad of Black Reach Space Marines. I am moving at a fairly rapid pace compared to my usual standard. I think it's because I actually have the prospect of playing a game in front of me and because I am trying to do a good-enough job rather than really sweat all the little details. I don't want to get bogged down and fail to get my army painted in a timely manner. When they're done they should look something like this:
I've been thinking about the Space Marine army list and codex. The army as laid out in the fluff and game rules seems to be missing a middle level of command. There is a big gap between the NCO squad leaders and the Company Captain. When you build an army you have to take one HQ choice and two troop choices. In choosing your HQ choice you are limited to taking Chapter-level officers or your Company Commander. That means that you're taking at a minimum your Company Commander on every little patrol your unit does. If two squads go out to investigate a blip on the radar they're taking their CO or one of his superiors with them. There needs to be another level of command in there, perhaps 4 Platoon Leaders or Platoon Sergeants. That way in each Battle Company you'd have two leaders each in charge of three Tactical Squads, a leader for the two Devastator Squads, and a leader for the two Assault Squads. The reserve companies might be able to get by with fewer mid-level leaders. I think I will assume that my HQ chooice in low-points games is some sort of mid-level leader who is not represented properly in the fluff. I suppose it's a bit silly to argue about the command structure of a fictional army, but it was on my mind.

Blizzard was offering a free 10-day trial of the new World of Warcraft expansion, so I signed up to see what I'm missing. So far I haven't really been able to get into it at all. Maybe I've finally kicked that particular obsession. I find myself logging off after a few minutes in order to go do other things.

I found a miniature to represent my D & D character. It's from Reaper's Dark Heaven line. It's not perfect but it's about as close as I'm going to find. My main problem with the figure is the horns. They look a bit odd.

Merry Christmas!

23 December 2008

It's too difficult trying to describe people without revealing their names, so I'm going to have to come up with some way to refer to commonly encountered people in my blog. So the male half of the couple we hang out with is now going to be E.A. We went to Hobbytown yesterday and had a look around. He picked up a Player's Handbook for D & D and I got some Space Marine Scouts with Sniper Rifles.

We looked at Tau a bit and I had to admit that I didn't really know much about them. Well, an employee found us and filled us in on pretty much everything you would ever need to know about the Tau. Possibly a bit more than you would ever need to know. He was like a living Codex. A visibly excited living Codex. After reading a bit about the background and how the army works I've gained an appreciation for the Tau army. Their battlesuits are very customizable, sort of armored shells with hardpoints so you can build them with the weapon and wargear loadouts you want. I always thought that the Tau were kind of starved for variety, but that's because one kind of battlesuit can be built several different ways depending on function. The Tau Battleforce box appears to be one of the better Battleforces out there as it is literally packed with models and saves a lot more money versus buying the units individualy than most of the other armies. I ran the contents of the box through the Army Builder software and it looks like the box set plus a leader for the army will run right up to about 750 points, perfect for opposing my Space Marine army list. Now E.A. just has to talk is wife into it.

After we left the store we realized that we hadn't looked for figures to represent our D & D PCs, so we went back in to search the Reaper shelves. I finally found a dual-wielding ranger to serve as my wife's character and E.A. found figures for his Dwarf Fighter and his wife's Eladrin Wizard, but I had no luck finding a Tiefling Warlock. I'll have to keep digging.

I assembled a squad of Space Marines and got a black undercoat slapped on them. I haven't got much beyond that, though. Hopefully I'll be able to knock them out pretty fast and at least get my 750 points out of the way. Then I get to work on some Orks. I'm looking forward to building and painting the Ork Trukk. The new White Dwarf is stuffed with Ork articles so I'm looking forward to that, as well as all the new Ork releases coming out in Wave 2 during Janu-waaagh!-ry.

I think that's about it for me. I'll probably be pretty quiet during the next couple of days as we gear up for Christmas and do that whole shindig. What we're really looking forward to is the big meal that my parents have been putting on around Christmas time the last few years. They put a plastic sheet on the table, boil up huge quantities of crab, shrimp, potatoes and onions; then they dump it all out on the table and everyone digs in until they can no longer move. It's one of the highlights of the year for everyone except the one or two siblings who lose out by claiming not to like seafood. Then we've got my sister's wedding reception to go to and another round of D & D with our friends. It should be an action-packed weekend.

21 December 2008

It was an interesting season in Fantasy Football for me. Three of my four teams had a really good chance to come away with a trophy going into the playoffs. My team in the office league went into the playoffs ranked first but went on to lose all three playoff games and drop from the first seed to an eighth-place finish. My team in the TMP League made it into the third-place game and won tonight under the power of four touchdowns by DeAngelo Williams. A public league team also made it into the third-place game and as long as Aaron Rodgers has a decent day tomorrow I'll finish the season with two third-place trophies. I have championships in every other fantasy sport, but a gold trophy for football still eludes me. I guess there's always next season.

I've been trying to find a good D & D character sheet that auto-fills and does all the math for you. I thought I'd found one today, but it falls short when it comes to calculating Armor Class and I don't particularly like the way it covers listing the various abilities. It looks like the Wizards of the Coast site has a beta for a character builder, so I may have to try that out. Of course once their Insider program kicks off they'll want a subscription fee for access to it.

I think that my friend (the same dude whose home we played D & D in) is interested in playing 40k. We are tentatively going to visit Hobbytown this week so I can show him what they've got. I've been putting together some of my Space Marine squads in anticipation of getting something painted up so we can have a game. He mentioned a passing interest in Orks, but the army he used to play was Eldar and he was pretty interested in the Tau after I described them to him. That works out for me, as I have no real interest in Eldar or Tau. Hopefully we can get a game in sometime next year. I'm going to try building and painting a couple of 750-point armies to start with. For the Space Marines that's only 26 infantry and one vehicle. I imagine my Ork list will be somewhat larger.
Last night we went over to our friends' house to play D & D. When the GM for the game arrived, I saw that he was wearing military boots and looked oddly familiar. We worked out that we had been in the same National Guard unit for a couple of months in 2002-2003. It's a small world.

The game was pretty fun. We only got through the first fight, as no one was very familiar with the rules and we spent a lot of time working out how things should play out. But at least we were playing something. I think the wives even had a good time, despite being hesitant about playing such a nerdy game beforehand.

14 December 2008

Today we had dinner at the home the only couple we really ever hang out with. Apparently the husband played Warhammer 40k every week at some point in the past. He played Eldar, which I suppose is something I can look past. After dinner we played Carcassonne, which turned out to be a fairly fun game. I think that if we played it a few more times it would be easier to grasp the strategy of the game and score more points. There were times when I had all of my counters tied up in unproductive parts of the board and missed out on opportunities.

After that the ladyfolk retired to the living room to do whatever it is they do and we tried out the World of Warcraft TCG. We didn't get to finish the game as we had to go home, so that will have to wait until next time.

Now that I know he is a prior wargamer I may have to take my Skaven over to show them off. He doesn't have his Eldar anymore, so it would be nice if I had a couple of opposing armies to pit against each other. Unfortunately I don't have anything really completed for 40k at the moment. I wonder if he would be interested in Mordheim. I could probably paint up a couple of warbands in fairly short order, assuming I ever decide to get off my duff and actually work on some figures.

11 December 2008

Tonight I had a spare hour or so and fiddled around a bit with an M10 Tank Destroyer; just cleaning up the casting and test-fitting the parts. I need to acquire some tongue depressors or craft sticks to glue my infantry to. I've heard that smaller figures paint up well when glued in sticks of ten or so. The craft stick gives you a handle to hold onto, and you can paint the figures in an assembly line if you line them up on the stick.

I've also been trying to decide how to arm my Assault Marine Sergeant. I like the picture on the front of the box of a Sergeant with a Storm Shield and a power fist, but the point cost for that weapon combination seems a bit excessive. I'm not sure it's worth it to kit out a lowly Assault Squad Sergeant with all that stuff. That power axe on the sprue is a pretty nifty bit as well. We'll see.

The Fantasy Football week started today with the New Orleans-Chicago game. I didn't have any players in the game, but two of my three playoff teams were facing teams with Matt Forte on their rosters. He failed to match projections which works out in my favor. Chicago won in overtime, which should make the Grimsby Mariner pretty happy. As I recall he is a Chicago fan.

Not much else to report. There is a pretty big snowstorm supposed to hit tomorrow and last into Saturday, so I probably won't be riding my motorcycle in to work. People ask me how I can ride in the cold, but the truth is that riding my bike is generally warmer than driving the car. My jacket and gloves heat up immediately while the car's heater doesn't usually come into it's own until I'm halfway to work. But if there's going to be snow and wind then four wheels will serve me better than two.

10 December 2008

My package of Flames of War goodies from The WarStore arrived yesterday. Unfortunately instead of the Fortress Europe book I ordered the box contained a copy of Festung Europa, which I already have. Luckily the customer service at The WarStore is very good and they've already got the proper book in the mail on its way to me. They offered to let me keep Festung Europa at half price or mail it back and have them refund my shipping costs. As I've already got a copy I elected to ship it back. So everything is taken care of; it just stinks to wait another week for my book to arrive.

I do have the main body of my Flames of War American Rifle Company now, so maybe I'll be able to kick that project off sometime soon. The army list I have written out calls for 118 infantry figures, 4 jeeps, and 8 AFVs. Not extremely overwhelming as they are 15mm figures. I am still short a bazooka team and a Sherman platoon, but I've got the bulk of the army on hand. Once I finish the Americans I've got an opposing German list written out. Going off the profiles in the book it seems like the Germans don't get as much kit for their points and don't really have a lot of statistical advantages built into their profiles. They are slightly upgraded in quality (Confident Veteran as opposed to the American's default Confident Trained) but having never played the game I don't know how much that affects their performance in-game. All I've got for the Germans so far is one Panzer IV, so it will be a while before I get around to starting that phase of the project. I haven't noticed any of the Flames of War stuff moving off the rack at Hobbytown; I wonder if I'm the only local interested in playing.

I went to Hobbytown after work last night to get some paint. It was gaming night, so the usual collection of folks were there. One guy was busily stacking his army and as much terrain as he could find on the largest gaming table. The lone female Hobbytown employee was talking to another gamer about getting a ride home for her son and the terrain-hoarder jumped in to loudly give his opinion on who would be the best to give the kid a ride. Somehow he got onto the subject of all the educational and social benefits of gaming and as she moved away he followed her in an attempt to corner her and impress her with his arguments. Between his volume and obvious ignorance of her desire to be geographically separated from him I think everyone in the store felt a little uncomfortable.

He was distracted from his conversation when a couple of guys came in with their armies and asked who was using the big table. He ran over and told them he was waiting on a friend because he had a 2000-point game arranged. They asked where his friend was and he assured them that the friend would arrive sometime during the evening and asked how big their game was. They said 1500 points with the caveat that it was 1500 points of Orks (traditionally an army with a lot of figures-per-point). Also, they argued, we have two people here with their armies ready to play now while you don't have a clue where your friend is. He announced in a petulant voice that he had shown up early just so he could reserve the large table and all of the terrain for his game. The discussion was getting pretty heated at this point, with neither side wanting to give in and use a small table. I never got to see the battle's resolution as I had completed my purchase and didn't want to stand around gawking at them, but even without seeing the finish it was a pretty interesting trip to the hobby shop.

If we ever get to a point where this baby will lay down for a nap on his own I will be able to get my Flames of War force put together and painted up pretty fast. With the smaller scale and realtively simple paint schemes I should be able to pump out my Rifle Company pretty quickly. That's not to say that we don't enjoy the critter, but it's occasionally frustrating especially for my wife. Some days when he's being difficult she's lucky just to brush her teeth and get a shower. There is certainly an adjustment period while we get used to caring for the critter and he gets used to life on the outside. People have reassured us that he will develop a schedule and we'll get more time to do things.

We rented the latest Batman movie last night. It was pretty good, although Batman's voice while he was wearing the batsuit was very distracting. It sounded like every time he put the suit on he came down with a terrible sore throat. It sort of jarred us out of the movie every time he had a significant conversation. Everyone raves about Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker and I suppose the attention is warranted. He certainly carries the film more than anyone else.

08 December 2008

This was a painful weekend for me in the world of Fantasy Football. I went into the playoffs in the office league ranked in first place, and it wasn't even that close. This week my team had their lowest score since week 4, shaming me by losing to a team that barely got into the playoff and ruining a streak of awesome performances. I'll probably pout and plan my revenge the way until draft time rolls around next year. And that's why Fantasy Football is so frustrating and addictive. Even when you've got a clearly superior team with good matchups, the sample size for scoring from week to week is so small that anything can happen. In the TMP league I got into the playoffs, and right now my team is trailing by a little more than one point. I need DeAngelo Williams to run for 12 yards in the next 5 minutes or I will be knocked out of the playoffs in that league too. Another disappointing Fantasy Football season for me this year. Maybe I'll get a trophy next year. Update: Immediately after I typed the above, DeAngelo Williams rumbled for a 38-yard touchdown, so I will be advancing in the TMP playoffs and am still in contention for a trophy.

Some people know that I am a office supply nerd, especially when it comes to pens. A few weeks ago I was helping a guy with the paperwork for his military move and his wife noticed my double-ended Sharpie markers. She asked me if I knew about Sharpie's new pens. I replied that I had not heard of such a thing. She went on to enumerate the many features of this revolutionary product. Since then I have kept an eye out for them and finally found a seller on eBay. They arrived today and I have to admit that I like them. They will probably replace my double-ended markers for most purposes.

I cleaned my desk off tonight. That means my painting area is somewhat clear. That doesn't necessarily mean that any painting will happen in my painting area, but it's cleared off. I don't have much else to post about. It would be nice to get out of my painting funk, but I don't now if it will happen anytime soon. My schedule is looking to ramp up a lot more in the near future with school starting and various military training that I get to participate in over the next year. I've got most of the core elements for an American Infantry Company for Flames of War, so maybe I'll take a break from fantasy and sci-fi and do something historical. I broke down and purchased a few of the Citadel Foundation paints with the idea that my fantasy Orcs will continue being painted in the traditional green triad while the Orks will get their skin painted in the new green triad.

I nearly forgot some exciting news. When I made my Black Friday order from The Warstore I remembered to order a Zed figure, which honors Sean Connery's character in the classic film Zardoz. From what I hear the movie is quite terrible, but Zed has become sort of a cult celebrity among the TMP crowd.