25 February 2009

It's nearly midnight so this is going to be a quick one. I had a splitting headache all day today, so I took a nap after work and had to scramble this evening to get some schoolwork done. I think the headache is caused by lack of sleep and quite possibly stress; it's rather a given that my head is going to hurt all day every day. Most days it's tolerable, though. I have to admit that I sort of mailed it in on this week's Anthropology essay just to get it turned in and not have to deal with it anymore.

I had a bit of a nostalgic moment today. I was looking at the Marketplace listings on The Miniatures Page, and one of the postings there was for a bunch of various auctions. I went to the guy's auction page and noticed that the Sisters of Battle Immolator looked quite familiar. Upon further inspection I realized that it is indeed the vehicle I'd partially painted and traded away along with the rest of my Battle Sisters. I briefly considered bringing it back home, but I wouldn't do a Witch Hunters force unless the majority of the Battle Sister squads were re-released in plastic kits with some more variety in the sculpts. I like the army's fluff, but the fact that it's mostly only available in metal kits is cost-prohibitive and all of the squads wind up looking the same. I'm just spoiled by the ease of customization found in the Space Marines, Orks, and Imperial Guard plastic figures, I suppose. Still, it was a nice little moment of recognition to see "my" Immolator again. Hopefully someone who can use it will find it and add it to their collection.

I got the Field of Glory expansion book Wolves from the Sea today in the mail. I ordered it in conjunction with my Civil War book to get the free shipping. Amazon has that free shipping thing down. I always order something extra to get the free shipping, then I wind up adding something for the wife and by the time I've saved $4 for shipping I've spent another $35 on books, resulting in a savings of -$31. Anyway, about the book. It is pretty much an accumulation of army lists. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but in flipping through it I realized that it seems to take a lot of bases full of figures to form the recommended starter armies and that might get cost-prohibitive rather quickly. It may be somewhat less so in 15mm, but I have plenty of other projects in line before Field of Glory. I will give it a read-through again as it gives a brief overview of each army and there are a couple of quick battle overviews in there, but I don't see myself getting on that boat anytime soon. I'll stick with small WAB warbands and expand those as I can get around to it.

Our dogs pass gas a lot. The lab especially is foul. The Basset Hound has awful breath and likes to absorb smells from the environment. The lab just has a rotten digestive tract. She sleeps at the end of the hall and farts in her sleep. The smell is so potent that it drifts all the way into the other rooms of the house and injures everyone with a functioning nose. I am not sure why we own dogs; I suppose it's because having pets is linked to increased immunities in children.

I've been feeling an urge to put together a couple of CAV mechs and/or vehicles and try my hand at painting them but haven't got around to it. I don't have this model, but I like it because of the obvious homage to the A-10. I am a sucker for American equipment, especially the ugly stuff. My CAV collection is composed of a big lot that I bought from someone else a couple of years ago, so it doesn't really contain all of the figures I want, but it's a start. It's interesting to see what other people collect and how it differs from what I personally would do.

It's very nearly time to pull the truck forward in the driveway and start parking the motorcycle behind. I'm looking forward to it, but some days riding the bike seems like work. Once I get going it's always a blast, though. And the gas savings are nice, especially since I have to justify all of the other costs of bike ownership somehow.

24 February 2009

I should be giving myself a haircut right now, but I am not feeling like going through the whole ritual of cutting my hair, cleaning it all up and taking a shower. So my hair will have to wait until tomorrow. I am mostly finished with this week's anthropology paper, which is a good thing. My EDTECH class shouldn't be too difficult this week. I am behind on my math homework and I really need to catchup on my history reading. So overall I am doing a little better than I have been in previous semesters, but I am not sure how I'm going to keep up this pace. My math class is the one that really bothers me, as I've already failed this class a couple of times and I just can't seem to wrap my head around it. It's the same mental block that I have when trying to sort out game rules or build an RPG character. I have difficulty with concrete systems and the interactions of numbers. It's a pretty big roadblock as far as getting through any sort of degree program. History is not too bothersome as the material is somewhat familiar. I need to do a little more reading for the class, but I should be able to get that taken care of. So far my grades are all high A's aside from math, which is squarely in the middle of the C range. I think I need to take some time before the next test and just relearn the whole of the first several sections all over again. I don't want to bore most of my readers with the sepcifics of my college career but sometimes writing it out helps me to sort it in my mind, and there are probably one or two family memebers interested in how my school is going.

I think it may be time for another miniatures inventory. In light of the wife getting laid off from her job soon and the tight budget that will force upon us, I am not planning on making any purchases for a while. I have plenty of figures to keep me busy until we get some more flexibility in our funding, and pretty much everything I want is still going to be around when I get around to it. The good thing about not buying miniatures is that you can still window-shop all you want. I did up some of the math today and for almost exactly the same price as one 1500-point Viking army from Foundry I could get the Polemos ACW rules (two sets of rules in one!), USA and CSA starter armies, the Shieldwall book for Warhammer Ancient Battles, and two ~750-point Warhammer Ancient Battles armies from Gripping Beast (Vikings and Saxons). That's a lot of stuff and something to look forward to in the not-too-distant future. Other stuff on the wish list are the Ork Stompa model, a Shadowsword/Stormlord kit, new Imperial Guard releases to include the Valkyrie, probably some new Skaven stuff at the end of the year, and maybe some scenario books for various historical periods. Skirmish Campaigns just updated their website with a PDF adapting their generic troop ratings to the Flames of War system.

The book by Scott Mingus arrived today in the mail; I have flipped through it and have formed a couple of impressions. First is that the American Civil War was pretty brutal. Second is that I would probably get more out of the book by also reading a general history of the action at Antietam so that I can mentally place the anecdotes from this book into their context in the historical and military situation.

And that's about it. I am hoping to find a couple hours this weekend for putting paint on my Scouts, but I think my time might be better spent learning Math and/or studying American History.

23 February 2009

More thoughts on historicals and perhaps a messy breakup with Wargames Foundry. Also a tiny bit on Space Marine Scouts.

This is another long post; the last paragraph is a summary so those who don't want to read the whole thing can get the main ideas. Apparently my return to the land of college has revived my ability to churn out large amounts of text.

I find that titling my posts is a difficult thing. I have the same problem with giving titles to my school papers. It would be nice to come up with a witty phrase at the drop of a hat, but that only seems to happen when I'm at work, where I am fairly well known for coming up with a good zinger from time to time. Anyway, I've been mulling a few things over today while working on my homework.

I did manage to spend about ten minutes slapping paint on a Space Marine Scout. I had planned to do Assault Marines first but after I reworked the army list to swap out the Predator for a Razorback I found that I needed to assemble some more Assault Marines. I've already got a squad of Scouts primed and ready to go, so I've decided to work on them. At the moment I am painting the Scout Sergeant as a template for the rest of the Scouts. I've been trying to decide whether to paint any company markings on the Scouts. According to the Codex the Scout company doesn't have a color. But also according to the fluff Scouts who prove themselves in battle are promoted to fill openings among the ranks of the Space Marines. It makes some sense that certain Scout Squads would be assigned to certain Marine Companies so that they could gain a working relationship with the organization they aspire to be a part of. I have just thought of a problem with that line of thinking, though. I wonder if Scouts get promoted to the reserve companies first and then are transferred laterally to the battle companies. If that were the case then the Scouts wouldn't necessarily wind up in a certain battle company later in their careers. I guess I'll have to think about it some more. I may give them company colors just to break up the green and brown a little.

And now I'll move along to historical games. For quite a while I have been fairly set on building a force of Vikings from Wargames Foundry. They've got some army "deals" for Warhammer Ancient Battles. The downside is that the figures are grossly overpriced, especially for customers outside the UK. They come out to be nearly $3 a figure. Every year they have a sale or two and I am sorely tempted to buy an army or a collection, but every year the cost even at the sale price drives me away. Today I finally went looking at other manufacturers. Gripping Beast sells what is essentially the same army of similar-quality sculpts for a dollar less per figure. A dollar less per figure over the span of a hundred figures is quite a savings that could be applied to buying over half of an opposing force for my Vikings. I may still use Foundry figures to fill out the ranks of my pirates, though. I do like the Foundry pirates and I don't need a whole lot more of them to play my games. I do have some DBA armies for Vikings and Anglo-Danes, but I really like they way Vikings look in the larger scales.

Brian from the Repple Depple blog posted a comment referencing his group's scenario-based Flames of War games. I have never been a min/max sort of player, which is why I was so bad at Heroclix tournaments. My lists would always be based on actual comic book team-ups or themes rather than the latest internet power combo, so my models would get summarily slaughtered by the hyper-competitive guys who all played variations of the same list each week. It's not the wrong way to play, but it's different enough that I was not satisfied with the games or my opponents' play style.

The same thing happened when I played my Skaven against a Dwarf player who stuck his army (a couple of bare metal models and a whole lot of empty bases that represented various units) in the corner behind as many terrain pieces as he could find. His army sat in the corner so that by the time my army got around all the terrain and made contact the game was over. He had a couple of war machines on a hill that killed a few rats so he won the game, but there really seemed to be no point. I found out later that he was well-known for this tactic and that people were generally reluctant to play him because of it. The only way to break him of it was to play an objective-based scenario so he would be forced to move around the table at least a little bit or face a sure loss. Which brings me to my point.

It seems like in points-based systems naturally lend themselves to that sort of game. I guess that's all right for Fantasy or Sci-fi, but it seems unrealistic to have entire companies of elite troops and equipment charging across the table in a historical game if it is generally well-known that such things were highly unlikely during the conflict in question. I think one good thing about having a points system in a game like Flames of War is that it may be easier for a novice scenario-builder to balance the forces to the game in question. Not necessarily to equalize them, but to give appropriate ratios for attacker/defender or whatever the case may be. One thing I like about the Skirmish Campaigns book is that they have variable force lists. Each scenario has a base force for each side, but you also roll a d20 and get a random element added to your force. One game you may get a sniper team, the next game you could get a Forward Observer and a certain number of artillery strikes, and then maybe you'll get an armored car or an extra squad of infantry. What I'm getting at is that points-based systems are only as rigid as the players want them to be, as the folks on the Repple Depple blog point out. I've noticed a trend in White Dwarf magazine lately in the same direction. In the battle reports for all of the games they seem to be leaning toward more scenarios that are objective-based rather than simply playing meeting engagements and pitched battles. I think it's a good trend. Others may disagree. Everyone has their own version of how the hobby should run.

What does this all mean for me? I guess it means that I am looking at Viking and Anglo-Danes in 28mm from non-Foundry sources, I am still looking to add to my collection of Foundry pirates, I am almost certainly going to do ACW in 6mm from Baccus at some point, I have a whole boatload of Warhammer and 40k stuff to get through and I am unsure about how to paint my Space Marine Scouts, and Flames of War can be played in scenarios rather than points-based min/max battles that many point-based games trend toward.
There is still not much going on here; I may be caught up enough on schoolwork to do some painting tomorrow. That would be rather nice. We visited our friends again last night. E.A. hasn't made much progress on his Tau; he's in the same boat as I am with homework taking up most of his free time. Hopefully we can have a game by the end of the year. I anticipate having to do a lot of stuff military-wise this summer as I will attempt to fit the schools required for me to be promoted in between college semesters.

Imperial Guard

The internet has been somewhat abuzz with sneak peeks at the various Imperial Guard releases that are due to come out with the new Codex. I think the best-looking model is the Valkyrie, a flying troop-carrier. The Bell of Lost Souls blog has a couple of posts with pictures of some nicely-painted models. I am rather partial to the orange and grey one. I'm not sure on a price point. I've heard that it will cost as much as a Rhino and I've heard it will cost as much as a Land Raider. Due to the size of the kit I'm inclined to think it will be closer to the Land Raider in cost. It seems an ideal vehicle for carrying Catachan Jungle Fighters into battle.

And speaking of Catachan Jungle Fighters, I've been trying to come up with a color scheme for mine. I've noticed that all of my armies tend to be painted brown and green unless I am going off of a painting guide as I did for Moria Goblins and Easterlings from Lord of the Rings. My Space Marines are pretty bland compared to some of the other Chapters out there, but I don't think I could handle painting them orange or purple or bright blue. I'm running into the same dilemma with my Imperial Guardsmen and my Reaper CAV models. I just don't think they would look right in flashy colors. I did see a nice picture of someone's Catachan army painted with a lot of red accents; I might look at something along those lines.



I've been pondering my reluctance to actually begin a historical project. I think it stems partially from a fear of getting "it" wrong, "it" being uniforms, orders of battle, vehicle variants, terrain, and any other nitpicky thing you might come up with. I used to be an avid reader, but I've really moved away from that in the last few years and I feel that my mind is worse for it. I am drawn to Flames of War because they have army lists similar to those found in the Games Workshop games as well as painting guides and prepackaged paint sets. Essentially everything you need to play their version of World War Two. And I think you could reconstruct real battles using that system, as long as you had a working knowledge of the scenario you want to play and the actual or approximate composition of the units involved.

Another route would be to use the various scenario books out there, like the Skirmish Campaigns series, to guide your force selections. Back when I was considering the Eastern Front I got a couple of those books with the intention of building the forces outlined in the orders of battle. I think part of what stopped me is that the scenarios seemed to be built for those who already have decent collections, as they often included odd variant vehicles that would be interesting for an experienced gamer but ramp up the starting cost for a novice. I recently have considered that a person could just cut out the variant vehicles for now and use more common things in their place without unbalancing the game overly much. I could probably still use the painting guides from Flames of War to get fairly close to the right colors for my armies, at least close enough for me.

I'm not sure what I'll do. I'll probably start with painting the little Flames of War forces I've got on the shelf and do some meeting engagements or something with the Flames of War rules.

American Civil War

Earlier I discussed my interest in the American Civil War, and particularly in the 10mm GHQ models. GHQ also has a set of rules designed for their figures that it would be interesting to try out. The rules apparently come with several scenarios, which may or may not be the same scenarios available for download on the GHQ website. They also sell starter sets for both sides of the conflict, comprising approximately one Brigade (2-3 guns with crew, 9-10 stands of infantry, a couple of stands of cavalry, and a general) according to the GHQ ruleset. After looking at the scenarios available for download it looks like one of the smaller ones would take approximately 4 of each starter set to build and play. So theoretically I could get started for around $100, but the scenarios would call for at least $340 plus terrain and other odds and ends.

I've also been looking at smaller figures in the form of Baccus 6mm ACW, and the Polemos rules. Battlegames #15 has a decent article about the rules along with a battle report. The starter set from Baccus comes out to just a hair over $130 with the rules, two armies, a painting guide, and a couple of armies. They offer various booster sets that run from about $15 to around $40, depending on how big you want to go. The website says that one starter set offers enough figures and stands to play games right away, so that is a point in favor of the Baccus models.

I've also been looking at the Perry plastic figures, but they aren't really practical for me at the moment. According to the Baccus website you can paint an army in a couple of weeks and be ready to play small games. It would take me a year or two to get through an equivalent number of units in the larger scale. I don't really see ACW as taking precedence over my other armies, but if I could get a couple of armies painted in between other projects that would allow me to scratch the itch without overwhelming myself with another large-scale project.

I'm leaning in the direction of the Baccus figures and Polemos rules at the moment. We'll see what happens when it actually comes time to make a purchase.

19 February 2009

I've got about 3/4 of a post all written out, but I haven't found time to finish it. So instead you get to read a two-sentence excuse.

16 February 2009

I am mostly finished with my Space Marine Lieutenant. After taking the pictures I realized that I still need to drill out the barrels and paint the sling on his Storm Bolter. Other than that he is finished. Next up is probably a squad of Assault Marines.

My sister had her baby today. That's fairly exciting, I suppose. She and the baby seem to be doing fine.

I pulled out my bin of Reaper CAV miniatures and ran them through an army builder spreadsheet from the Reaper forums. It turns out I've got enough figures to build two relatively even forces. I bought the lot of them a couple of years ago, so some of the figures I like and some aren't my favorites from the line. I also don't have any vehicles included in the collection, so I may have to add some tanks and aircraft and whatnot at some point. For now I'll be putting the box back in the closet.

I also spent some time looking at GHQ's 10mm American Civil War figures and their rules for the figures. They've got a few historical scenarios posted for download on the website as well. It is an interesting thought, but it would cost about $100 up front to get into, and I'd really probably need more cavalry than those included in the starter sets. Maybe for my birthday. In addition I inspected the Perry website and looked at their 28mm ACW plastic figures, which have been quite a hit over on The Miniatures Page. They are a pretty good value, but at 28mm they will be a lot more difficult to paint than the 10mm figures. I also probably couldn't afford to field a very large force of the Perry figures. It's all theoretical at the moment, but 3/4 of the hobby seems to be window shopping and plotting future projects.

15 February 2009

I don't really have anything new to post about as I don't really do anything anymore, but I feel compelled to post something fairly regularly. I wasn't very active previously but I have definitely become worse. I spent Valentine's Day writing a paper and creating a brochure for the imaginary parents of my imaginary students for the imaginary parent orientation.

My copy of the new White Dwarf showed up yesterday or the day before. I've flipped through it but haven't had time to read any of the articles. It looks like there is a huge 40k Apocalypse battle report featuring 7 or 9 Ork Stompas and a boatload of Imperium forces. There are also several new datasheets for some Stompa variants.

I've been thinking about the American Civil War again, probably because I am going to read a book on the war for my History class book report. I ordered
Human Interest Stories from Antietam by Scott Mingus as my book of choice. If I am not mistaken he is the writer of this blog; the fact that his name is in the url is a bit of a giveaway I suppose. I am so far behind on projects that I dare not think about another project, even if I tell myself it will just be enough units for a small skirmish action. I can't even paint a platoon of Space Marines, so how am I going to get through a couple companies of Union and Confederate soldiers?

10 February 2009

More of the same today. Remarkably, I have been able to stay on task for most of the day. Unfortunately this left no time for anything except travel vouchers and homework. I can feel a migraine coming on; I'm not sure how to stave it off. I get one every six or eight months and I can usually tell a day or so before it hits that I'm going to have one. We'll see how that goes. I've got one more section of math problems to do before Thursday, so there is a small light at the end of the tunnel. My History class hasn't been bad so far and my EdTech class is pretty simple, but Math and Cultural Anthropology are killing me. I have to be at least a week ahead in everything by the second week of March due to some training I get to do with the Guard, so it'll probably be all homework all the time until then. I'm hoping to grab an hour or two on Friday evening to slap more paint on my Space Marine Lieutenant. I've got such grandiose plans, but no time to enact them. It's funny that as kids we can't wait to grow up because adults can do whatever they want all the time. Then we grow up and we don't want any part of it.

09 February 2009

I have not found any more time to get any painting done. This weekend I had to go play soldier with the National Guard and today I spent the entire day trying to get through my math homework. I am terrible at math. That surprises some people because nerds are stereotypically supposed to be pretty good at math but once I start seeing roots and fractional exponents my mind runs away, screaming in horror and pain at the task I have asked of it. I actually did have two hours of painting time set aside for today, but I had to run to the bank and then got stuck on one math problem for 1 1/2 hours and decided that between those two events I had probably used up my painting time. I am nearly where I wanted to be for today, although I get to start in on imaginary numbers tomorrow. That should be a joke. I really only want to pass this class with a C, but it's going to take some real effort and time just to do that. But enough about math and schoolwork.

I've momentarily decided to put the Imperial Guard on the far back burner as the new Codex being released in May is supposed to be full of changes, to the point that the army may not even be recognizable. I've got a metric buttload of Catachan Jungle fighters who can form the core of a Guard force, but I don't have much in the way of special troops, officers, vehicles, and heavy weapon teams. I have also put myself on a bit of a probation for acquiring most anything in the way of miniatures. I have got enough figures to build playable armies for Space Marines, Orks, Orcs & Goblins, two or three Lord of the Rings factions, two very large Mordheim warbands., and I believe two DBA armies that never got off the ground Then there are the odds and ends and incomplete armies like the aforementioned Imperial Guard with Baneblade, random Lord of the Rings stuff, Reaper Warlord and CAV figures, some Dogs of War and Regiments of Renown, additions for my Skaven, a handful of Foundry pirates, and portions of two Flames of War armies. It's kind of depressing to think about all those figures and all the projects I'd like to work on if I had some time and put in some effort. So in conjunction with a new plan to improve our living situation I will be scaling any purchases way back for the near future. Of course I will pick up a few things here and there, but on a more regulated scale. For now the projet is still to get the Space Marines painted to 750 points and then follow that up with 750 points of Orks, then alternate units from those armies until I can field each of them at 1500 points. After that I may try to work in some Orcs & Goblins and/or some Skaven. For now I think I will go to bed, as I've got just about 6 hours until my alarm goes off to wake me up for work.

08 February 2009

I hate writing papers. In the morning and throughout the week I will hate math. Then I will transition back to hating to write papers.

03 February 2009

I got assigned by my boss to go to a class here in town to see if it's something we should have other folks in the office attend it. I guess at the very least it's a change from the routine of doing the same thing every day, although I was just getting pretty well caught up from the last interruption in my work and now I'll be a week behind again. That's how it goes, I guess. Hopefully next week will be low in distractions and I'll be able to tear through my backlog.

The weather was nice enough today that I will probably ride the motorcycle into town tomorrow. I went out tonight and started it up to make sure there aren't any issues. I have to admit that I really miss riding it. The truck is just so huge and cumbersome that I can't help wishing I were on my bike.

I got absolutely nothing done after work today. I had a headache, so I took a nap. My wife was kind enough to just let me sleep for a while instead of waking me up to work on the paper I was allegedly going to write tonight. I don't know if my gamer's ADD will allow me to even finish the remaining few figures from my Space Marines without first painting some Orks or even some Skaven. I may at least try something simple like a unit of Gretchin.

02 February 2009

Nothing really to write about tonight as I did my planned homework for today instead of doing hobby things. Technically that's a good thing, but I can't help looking at my Space Marine Lieutenant and wishing I were working on him. I did find time today to read some rumor-filled blogs and think about the new Imperial Guard stuff in early 2009 and Skaven stuff in late 2009. I found this model lurking in the Necromunda section in the back of my Games Workshop catalog. He's kind of gross, but I think he would make a great big creature for my Skaven.

01 February 2009

Not much time for a post if I want to be able to get up for work in the morning, but here are a couple of WIP photos of the Space Marine Lieutenant. He's not going to win any awards, but he should look okay on the tabletop and paint up fairly quickly.

I was really hoping the Cardinals would pull off the win in the Super Bowl, but they couldn't quite hang on and keep the lead. It sounds like Kurt Warner is planning on retiring and I think they're going to be one-shot wonders as far as getting anywhere in the postseason in the future. This was pretty much the perfect situation for them to come away with a ring and they blew it. I just don't see them rolling through the NFC again next year.
I started blocking in some colors on the Lieutenant and got his cloak to a point that it looks okay from arm's length. Hopefully he'll paint up pretty quickly as I don't plan on making him too spectacular compared to the other Space Marines in the army. He's got a few extra details, but nothing too complex outside of that cloak. I will be drilling out the barrels on the Storm Bolter at some point.