30 November 2011

Silence is Golden, Unless You're a Parent

Today we were pretty sure that our toddler had gone downstaris to play in the toyroom. At some point I realized that there wasn't a lot of noise coming from down there and asked my wife what he might be up to. Usually when he plays you can hear him acting out the voices for his cars or various crashes and bangs. He is a rather active child, so his play is usually quite noisy. Our hope was that he had climbed onto the beanbag chair and fallen asleep for a nap. I went down to check on him, but he wasn't there.

Then I went upstairs and saw the door open and the light on in the bedroom that contains my hobby desk. I went in and there he was, helping (his word) me with my figures. He'd managed to get a couple of paintbrushes and use them to paint my player character model (the half-orc from a couple of posts ago) a nice cement grey color. Luckily, I was able to rinse off most of the damage and the model doesn't look too horrible. Some of the grey didn't come out, and some of the clearcoat peeled off or clouded up, but the figure will survive without a full repaint. Then I cleaned up the brushes and some of the paint on the desk. I'm glad that he didn't hurt himself with anything and that he didn't manage to paint my Dwarf army, which was lined up on the far corner of my desk. I wanted to take a picture of the model before I rinsed it off, but I left the camera on for a couple of hours the other night and the battery was dead.

There are a couple of lessons in this. Always close the door to the hobby room, and never trust a quiet child.

29 November 2011

I put some varnish on a bunch of figures today. I guess I should've taken some pictures before I put the gloss coat on my Dwarves, so the pictures have a lot of glare. Here's the best of the bunch. In addition to these handgunners, there are a couple units of warriors that I'm mostly done with. I've got about a third of the army done. The rest of the figures are sitting on my desk waiting to get some paint on them.

I also assembled a bunch of Grey Knights for 40k. I am putting together the list from White Dwarf #375. It's got 10 Terminators, 19 small-based Marines of various types, a special character, and two Dreadknights. I've got half of the infantry put together and both Dreadknights are on the way. I still need a couple boxes of figures to finish out the army, but we'll see how long it takes me to get through painting what I've already got.

Oh, I went to the Games Workshop website and saw the pre-order price on that Mangler Squig model. It's a big model, and they want a pretty big price for it. I guess I could understand if it were some kind of modular kit or a centerpiece monster, but it's a 65-point novelty figure for a $57.75 MSRP. I guess in a Night Goblin and Squig army it would be the centerpiece model on account of the size, but I can't see paying full retail for it.

25 November 2011

Mangler Squigs

I saw an interesting photo from the French White Dwarf magazine on the Dark Future Games blog. It looks like Games Workshop is going to produce a Mangler Squigs model. I've seen the photo in a couple of other places as well, like the Warhammer Fantasy Battles Tabletop Gaming blog. It looks like the model will be Finecast, and also much larger than I imagined. I pictured Mangler Squigs as being a couple of normal-sized Squigs with some chains and an unlucky Night Goblin handler, but it looks like these Squigs are huge, and no less than five Night Goblins have been tasked with keeping them pointed toward the enemy. I really have no idea what all I've got in the attic, but I'm pretty sure I've got most of the figures for my planned Night Goblins and Squigs list. This will probably be a must-buy for me at some point down the line. Much of the list features random movement, so it will probably be quite silly to play with. Just point everything at the enemy and off they go!

I dug out the Dwarf army I worked on while I was overseas because I needed to get at my paints. My pot of Chainmail paint exploded during transit, but I anticipated such an event and wrapped the figures in plastic before I mailed them, so the only damage was that a few of my other paint pots got a nice silver paint job. At some point I will go upstairs and take some pictures of the Dwarf units I've finished so far. They might make a good rival for the previously-mentioned Night Goblins and Squigs army.

I made it to D & D Encounters this week and had a pretty good time. My Barbarian has a habit of never hitting anything the first time he swings his axe at it. But I still killed my share of bad guys and took at least my share of damage. And I even got a wondrous magical item for asking a magical hallway the right question. Today I went and got some basing material and varnish for my figures. I did forget to pick up some Badab Black wash, but I think I have enough to get me by. Oh, and I got some Grey Knights. I may even paint them. I meant to work on assembling them tonight, but that hasn't panned out so far.

I also ran into my cousin and his wife at Hobbytown today, which was a nice surprise. I don't get out much socially, so it's good to have random encounters with people who I know. Oh, and I turned 30 a couple of days ago. So far it's not much different than 29.

23 November 2011

PC Model

I painted up a character model for the new season of D & D Encounters. I may get around to finishing his base tomorrow. We'll see how it goes. It's a half-orc barbarian.

Also, for those who read this blog for family stuff, here are pictures of the boys taking impromptu naps. You'll notice that the twins tend to wear more of their food than they eat.


Sorry the post is pretty light on words. I stayed up way too late painting, and I have to wake up in four hours to go get tires put on my car.

04 November 2011

It's been quite a week for us. Two of our three boys have pneumonia and I have been laid low by some kind of energy-sapping head cold. Our oldest boy, Thing, had a good Halloween and got a whole pile of candy. He dressed as a pumpkin. He received many compliments on his hat, which was crocheted by my wife. She is pretty handy when it comes to making things with yarn and fabric. We didn't get pictures of him in his costume, as he wasn't feeling well and went straight to bed after trick-or-treating.

Yesterday was Thing's third birthday, but no one was really feeling well enough to celebrate, so we postponed it for a day. He got to decorate a cupcake with some toppings of his choice, open a couple of gifts, and also watch Cars 2, which was one of his presents. His little brothers, Hulk (left) and Wolverine (right), woke up from their naps in time to eat a few bites of cupcake. They enjoyed that quite a bit.

He also got a Human Torch Mighty Mugg action figure and a Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash track with some cars to go along with it.I gave him the Hot Wheels set last week, partly because he was feeling sick and needed a good inside activity and partly because I couldn't wait any longer to play with it. Overall, I think he had a pretty good birthday experience.

Yesterday also marked our 7th wedding anniversary. I am not sure when we will actually get to go out to dinner and celebrate that, but we agreed that forcing the issue while I am feeling so low wouldn't be worthwhile. Whenever I transition back up from a corpse-like state to my usual zombie-like state we will do something to mark the occasion.

This picture of Wolverine is my favorite of the night. I'm glad I was able to get a picture while he was still making this face. He enjoyed his first taste of cake, although he was rather picky and only went for the pieces that had frosting on them.

Hulk ate all of his cupcake pieces, and spent the rest of the time scouring his tray for any leftover crumbs or smudges of frosting. So far he is the only kid who has avoided illness, perhaps the gamma rays have made him immune to pneumonia?

I didn't go to the D & D Encounters session this week. I didn't think the other folks would appreciate me bringing my plague with me. I spent most of the week being a slug and lazing about. I watched a whole pile of Top Gear episodes on Netflix, and that's about it for the week. This was the sort of week that you're just happy at the end of it to still be among the living. I am hoping that I will be up and running by next week so I can get a few things done around here. Next weekend will be taken up by mandatory Army stuff (even though I am still on leave), so I would like to fill the weekdays with things on my to-do list.

28 October 2011

Last night I attended another D & D Encounters session. It went pretty well, in part because the tiresome guy from last time didn't show up. Actually, he did show up, but he was 20 minutes late and his spot was already taken by someone who paid attention and contributed to the game. My character didn't spend the whole game unconscious and dying this time around, so that was a bonus. He may have done better since I purchased a new d20 just before we played. My nice-looking one rolled two natural ones in a row last week, and I don't feel like I can trust it. I've got the only Level 1 character because I started so late, so I try to keep out of combat and use ranged attacks. I am nearly to Level 2, but that will probably happen just in time for the season to end. Hopefully I can get in on the start of the next season, and have enough time to keep playing with school and work. That's about it for hobby stuff. I would still like to paint up a character model this week, even though there is only another month or so left in the campaign. I learned that the comic shop was bought out by the gaming shop, and while I was in the game store I overheard the employees expressing that they don't know much about comics. That worries me slightly, as I started up a subscription box in the comic shop just before going into the game shop to play.

26 October 2011

This past Saturday my sister hosted a Welcome Home dinner for me. It was pretty nice. My mother and most of my siblings were there, as well as some aunts and cousins, some friends, and some other folks from church. It was nice to see everyone and meet some of the people I hadn't before, specifically my third sister's new husband. I made an attempt to connect with each person who showed up, and I hope I was able to make everyone feel that I appreciated their presence. I felt a little silly about having a party in my honor, as this particular tour overseas wasn't all that crazy for me. My jobs were pretty easy, I had a fairly regular work schedule, and there wasn't a whole lot of hardship or deprivation. The hardest part for me was dealing with the people in the unit I was transferred to just prior to the mobilization. My wife had a much rougher year than I did, having to deal with the toddler, the twin infants, and running the rest of the household while I was gone. It will be nice for me to get back to my home unit once my leave is over. I did receive a Joint Service Commendation Medal in the mail recently, from a unit I worked under for the first few months of the tour. It was supposed to be kind of a crap detail, but it turned out to be the best part of the deployment for me, and I got a shiny medal out of it.

Also on Saturday we went to a carnival being held to raise funds for a little girl in our church who has leukemia. Our oldest boy had a pretty good time. He rode on a horse for the first time. We were kind of surprised that he got on the horse without any fuss, as he has historically been pretty wary of livestock. He didn't want to pet the horse, but he was pretty happy to get in the saddle and ride around the block. He really didn't want to stop riding. Later he told my wife that he likes horses, but cows are scary.

I've seen some very nicely painted Dreadfleet ships on the internet, including these ones. I've also read some positive reviews of the game on various blogs. When it was first announced I didn't have much interest in the game, but I'm warming up to it. I've got a big backlog of stuff to get to on the hobby side of things, but stuff like Dreadfleet and Space Hulk you can just pick up and play. It would be nice to paint up my Space Hulk figures, but it's not entirely necessary. I borrowed the above photo from BloodyBeast.com, which I've linked to in the paragraph. There are plenty of additional photos there.

Tomorrow I am planning on participating in another week of D & D Encounters. I had hoped to find a miniature to represent my character, but time got away from me and I won't even have a bare metal figure in-hand, much less a painted one. There is one Reaper figure I like for my Dragonborn Warlock, but I never got around to ordering it. I'm not sure how long the current campaign will run anyway, as I think I've come in pretty close to the end of things. I'll have to think about it. I'd probably have better luck at finding a figure if I picked a more conventional class and race, but that didn't enter my mind when I rolled the character up.

And today I installed an intake kit in my car, which was much less frustrating than I thought it would be. I guess that's a good thing. I didn't even wind up with extra parts! I feel like the intake improves the performance of the car, but it might be wishful thinking on my part. Next up for my car is some new brakes and a windshield. I think I'll let a professional install the windshield, though. I also have some stuff to do on my wife's van, which ought to be fun. They don't sell a high-flow intake kits for minivans, so I just had to settle for replacing her air filter. And at some point I will get around to finding a space in the house for my hobby area and maybe even put some paint on some figures.

22 October 2011

I've been back home in Idaho for about a week now. The adjustment to back to life at home is going fairly well. I think my oldest boy is pretty happy to have daddy back home, and the twins seem to be okay with me. I've got a few projects going, mostly trying to get some things done around the house. My car has a few things that need done, and there are plenty of things around the house that need taken care of. I replaced the kitchen faucet because it had developed a leak. I moved out of my hobby room while I was home on leave, so I am hoping to clear out a spot in the house to move back into. We are cleaning out the garage, but the temperature fluctuations isolation out there make it less than ideal as a hobby area.

On Wednesday I went to an area games store to participate in the weekly D & D Encounters event. It was all right, and I will probably try to attend regularly. They were running two tables, and I wound up at the table with the younger crowd. The GM was pretty good and a few of the other players were prepared and into the game, but there were a couple of other players who need to develop some more social skills. Perhaps I am growing up into the grumpy old man role, but if you are playing a game with other people, you ought to show up on time, have your papers/pencil/dice/snacks in order and be prepared with your next action when your turn comes around. If your girlfriend doesn't want to play, don't bring her along for the game, because it is a waste of everyone's time for the GM to tweak his scenario to fit in another player, then tweak it back in the middle when she gets up in the middle of her turn and leaves. And no one wants to wait for you to say you're going to the bathroom, only to walk past the bathroom and go outside to argue with her about the game, smoke a cigarette, buy a soda, and decide that your character is no longer named Fluffybunny, he is now Mr. Bojangles. Even the two immature teenage boys were able to name their characters something thematic, track the action, and be ready for their turn. Everyone's time is valuable, and you ought to be aware of that before wasting the time of others. The GM stopped short of inviting the player in question not to come back, but I could tell he was trying very hard to be civil. The vein in his forehead didn't stand out that much during his interactions with anyone else. The other table looked like they were having a lot of fun, perhaps because they were all over 25. One of the guys at that table was an acquaintance from my National Guard unit. I've been away from my home unit for the last year or so, but prior to that we were in the same platoon for a while. I've been shopping around for a miniature I can paint up to represent my character.

On Thursday my wife had to go back in that direction to get some stuff, so we dropped back by the shop to look around. She actually seemed pretty interested in the Dreadfleet game from Games Workshop. I don't know that I will get around to picking up a copy, but I was surprised that she expressed an interest. She also mentioned that we had never played Space Hulk with each other, so maybe we will have to do that at some point. There is a comic shop that just relocated to that same retail complex, so we visited that as well. The guy there was pretty friendly, and he complimented my shoes, which is a surefire way to my heart. Most people don't notice shoes or know that Nike put out Bo Jackson commemorative editions. I may move my comic subscriptions over to that shop so I can support the local business. I will be on that side of town anyway on comic book Wednesday for D & D Encounters, so it will be pretty convenient to pick up my books every week instead of waiting for a monthly shipment.

And speaking of shoes, I saw on Nice Kicks that there is now a release date for the Nike Trainer 1.3 Mid Shield "Rivalry" Army shoes. The site says that they will only be released at very select stores (I have no idea what that means), so I may not be able to get my hands on a pair, but I am hoping I will be able to find a place that will sell them to me without a huge markup. There are other versions for the other branches of service, but I prefer the Army ones.

27 September 2011

Bran Redmaw

I forgot to mention that pictures of this upcoming release from Forge World have popped up on the blogs. I believe the model was on showcase at the UK Games Day 2011. I pulled the picture from this post on a Space Wolves-specific blog. I think it looks like everything a Space Wolf should be, with the fur, the big hair, the big axe, and a big helping of feral rage. I may not wind up getting one, but it's pretty to look at.

I've also been eye-balling the Contemptor-pattern Dreadnoughts that Forge World has been putting out. At current conversion rates the base model, two weapon arms, and shipping comes out to just over $80, so that takes some of the steam out of the sails. Even the prices on the regular Games Workshop models have given me pause as of late. After the most recent price increase and the release of Finecast Failcast, I have pretty much just stopped buying GW models. The price increase before that one really caused me to slow down on hobby purchases, but this latest one just went too far for me personally. I know the ire over the move has already flared up and dropped to a simmer, but for me at this moment I am likely to work on what I have and hold out for good deals on second-hand stuff.

There is a miniatures gaming convention called Tactical Solutions in Spokane, Washington that I've flirted with attending every year, but it seems like I always have a military commitment on the weekend of the event. It is kind of looking like I will be home by the time it kicks off this year, so I began making tentative plans to go. Then my wife reminded me that my sister is getting married on that Saturday. Curses! It looks like I'll be spectating from afar for at least another year.

26 September 2011

I had a couple of meetings today that will hopefully lead to getting my medical issues sorted out. The people I talked to about it last week were all hellfire and brimstone, but I am not quite ready to burn down City Hall without giving the system a chance to answer my questions. The people I talked to today are a little more level-headed and seem to have good working relationships with the medical personnel. Hopefully I can get some answers and get this sorted out. The military is a decent career path as far as pay and benefits go, but it can be mind-wrenching sometimes to sort through the many levels of administration and bureaucracy.

Just saw an ad for the video game Battlefield 3, and noticed that the guy loading the round in the tank at 0:55 pushed in the round with open fingers instead of a closed fist. That's a good way to get your glove caught and at best lose some fingers. With the way that breech comes back, you're more likely to get maimed or killed. I suppose I'm being a bit of a pedant, but after you've seen that gun jump back once, you never again want to be anywhere but plastered up against the side of the turret when the gunner squeezes the trigger.

I've got a large pile of gaming projects in mind for when I get home, but without all of my books and figures close at hand, it's hard to remember what I've got for any given project. I've been following some stuff on eBay and The Miniatures Page, but I'd hate to duplicate things I've already got or relegate even more stuff to the dusty pile in the attic. I'd like to put together a few small forces for The Lord of the Rings, which is something I've mentioned on this blog a few times over the last few years. I've actually got four or five lists written up, mostly using figures I've already got in my collection, but each army needs one or two units or heroes to complete the 500 points. I even have a good number of the Evil forces (Moria Goblins and Easterlings) painted up already. My Dwarf army is still sitting in boxes, and my Fiefdoms list exists only in my imagination aside from a Prince Imrahil I picked up on clearance at some point in the hazy past. I would really like to do a Far Harad list, but that range is all metal models in blister packs, which gets expensive in a hurry. I love the way the GW Lord of the Rings figures paint up. They are a joy to paint. I think they strike the right balance between being too simple and being overly complicated. There is detail where you need it, but not six billion skullz and bitz and details that turn into a huge time sink, like you see in the Warhammer and 40k ranges. I may sell off some of my spare figures in those lines so that I can expand into more Lord of the Rings stuff. It's a shame I didn't do that several years ago when the local Hobbytown had a metric buttload (as opposed to an Imperial buttload) of the stuff on clearance. Now I think they've just got an Attack on Weathertop boxed set that has been there long enough to pull seniority on several of the employees.

22 September 2011

Back in the USA

I've been back in the US for about three weeks now, but I haven't made it all the way home yet. During the demobilization process I expressed a couple of my medical concerns and got pulled into a Warrior Transition Unit pending some surgery on my feet. Today I was informed that I will not be receiving the surgery as my condition has been rated by the doctor as not serious enough to prevent me from deploying again, and now I will start the process of being sent home to return to duty. I will probably wind up opting to have the surgery done on my own dime by a civilian doctor as it causes me a lot of discomfort and affects my ability to do my job. It has been a frustrating process, but I guess the upshot is that I will soon be able to return home to my wife and kids. I should not complain much more as too much whining is unprofessional, so I will close out by saying that today I am in a rather dark mood as I feel I've been strung along by a series of doctors and have been delayed in coming home to my family without anything to show for it.

The twins have been growing their first couple of teeth and have just recently become mobile. They are quite adept at finding ways to get into trouble while they explore the house. Their older brother is no stranger to mischief, either, as he usually has more energy than he knows what to do with. I am looking forward to seeing all the kids again and getting to know the twins, who are now twice the size they were when I was home on my R & R leave.

I have plenty of idea for hobby projects, but I am not sure how much time and space I will have when I get home. One of my first tasks will be to clean out the garage. I hope that will not take too long, but there is a lot of stuff. I need to do a few things to my car to make sure it's good to go. I had hoped to get out to a convention this year, but it doesn't look like that is going to happen. School starts for me in January, so I need to get mentally prepared for that, especially if I am going to be taking Math courses. I would like to fit some painting into my schedule, but that always seems to go out the window. My time management skills are awful, and when you add that to all the little emergencies that pop up in a household it seems like nothing ever gets done.

29 May 2011

Puerto Rico

The guy who lives next to me over here in the desert is a board game fanatic. He plays them, he designs them, he loves them. He works the same job I do, but on a different shift, so we don’t hang out much. He’s recruited a group of people to play a game called Puerto Rico in the evenings, when I am sleeping, but he came in the other day while I was on shift and talked me and the Lieutenant into trying it out. It’s a typical resource management game, with players trying to colonize an island, build infrastructure, grow crops, and ship those crops out for victory points or sell them for money to buy more buildings. I’m sure the website for the game offers a decent summary of gameplay, but you have to balance out all of the different actions you can take and eventually build more buildings and ship more goods than the other players. If you get out of balance with your resources, it is possible for the other players to lock you out for a turn or more based on what they choose to do when they lead a turn off. It seems like an okay game, but I haven’t quite grasped all of the rules or even all of the objectives yet. We may play again sometime soon, if he pops in again during my shift.Here's the game description from the Board Game Geek site:

The players are plantation owners in Puerto Rico in the days when ships had sails. Growing up to five different kind of crops—corn, indigo, sugar, tobacco, and coffee—they must try to run their business more efficiently than their close competitors: growing crops and storing them efficiently, developing San Juan with useful buildings, deploying their colonists to best effect, selling crops at the right time, and, most importantly, shipping their goods back to Europe for maximum benefit.
The game system lets players choose the order of the phases in each turn by allowing each player to choose a role from those remaining when it is their turn. No role can be selected twice in the same round. The player who selects the best roles to advance their position during the game will win.

28 May 2011

Blah Blah Blah Games Workshop

There’s been a lot of talk on the web about Games Workshop’s recent doings. As is usual with enthusiasts, the talk ranges from Apocalyptic End of the Hobby fare all the way through the spectrum to This Is the Greatest Thing Evar I (heart) GW 4EVS!!!! Actually, that really only applies to the ‘all-new’ Finecast range, which is pretty much all of the metal models from the catalog pulled out of circulation and swapped out for resin castings, along with some new releases for Tomb Kings and Dark Eldar, the most-recently published army books for Warhammer Fantasy and 40k.

The talk about the changes to the distributor agreement and the general price increase has been mostly neutral or negative. As I understand it, GW noticed that people in Australia were buying many of their miniatures from retailers in the UK, because currency fluctuations made the Australian MSRP much higher than paying for figures and shipping from the UK. Independent retailers in Australia, and more importantly, the local GW shops were seeing a lot less business, making them unprofitable, while shops in the UK were rolling in Australian money. Games Workshop made changes to their agreement, making shops sign some sort of agreement saying that they wouldn’t ship figures to certain countries. No agreement, no retail account. Games Workshop claims it’s a move to help recruitment in their local Australian shops, growing the hobby and helping the gaming community in the long run. People who were purchasing or selling the figures across the ocean see it as a ham-fisted moneygrab that restricts free trade and flies in the face of freedom. I think it could have been handled better (Games Workshop isn’t known for being tactful when it comes to legal actions), but I’m sure the company has a few accountants and economists looking over the numbers and this will probably blow over and work out in the end. Gamers in the affected countries will either buy the figures at the higher prices, quit gaming altogether, switch to a different game system from another company, or find another way around paying MSRP and wait for GW to catch onto it and snuff that, too. It probably doesn’t really affect me personally all that much, and it will probably not affect the ‘GW Hobby’ in Australia as much as the Doomsayers are predicting. It wasn’t handled well, and GW’s corporate attitude tends to default to condescending and secretive, but gamers will either pay the enforced prices or find another way around it.

The timing is a little off as well, with the annual price increase being announced at about the same time. Price increases hit about 1/3 of the line, with most of the increases coming in at 10-15% over previous levels. Some of the prices got smaller adjustments. Army books took a decent-sized jump, with the softcover books jumping up to $33 each. The hardbound books jumped up to $41.75. Most of the Lord of the Rings line jumped by quite a bit, and almost every Battleforce and Battalion took a big leap. Then it’s just a random assortment of boxed sets to fill out the remainder of the increases.

One notable thing missing from the annual price increase list is the Finecast models. They didn’t escape from it, though. They got a lot more expensive as part of the rollout of the ‘new’ line. Some of the figures got increases of up to 50%, making them more expensive than comparable Forge World models. Again, aside from a few new releases for Tomb Kings and Dark Eldar, these are the same old metal sculpts recast in resin. The casting quality from the press photos and releases has been pretty bad, with plenty of miscasts, air bubbles, broken parts, and mold lines across the line. Some of the pictures I’ve seen are pretty horrid, with entire parts missing and Space Marine figures with only half a Boltgun. Quality control appears to be uniformly terrible, and so far GW hasn’t addressed it. The much-touted midnight online release also got flubbed, with the website failing to update and offer the new models for same until several hours after midnight. I didn’t buy a lot of the character models anyway, but I did buy some of the metal figures from time to time, and it seems like there are always a couple of must-have units that aren’t available in plastic, so this change will probably affect me a bit. I hope that I can find most of the models for my lists on eBay in the old metal. Unfortunately a lot of other people have expressed the desire to do the same thing, so it may be a good time to put your metal figures up on eBay. So far I am not impressed with Finecast, and the switcherooney price increase that goes along with the change seems a bit underhanded.

Will all of this drive me away to another game? Probably not. I am too invested in the background and the figures to really go elsewhere. It really just pushes me further along a path that I’d already started down. The last two or three years of price increases have pushed just about every GW model up and over my psychological impulse purchase line. I can’t just go into the shop and buy an infantry box anymore. More often than not, it seems, I walk out empty-handed after a trip to the shop. Or if I feel really guilty about not buying something I will get a bottle of paint or a Thomas train for my son. Every year there is something, like the repackaging on many of the regiment boxes that dropped them from twenty figures to ten per box and increased the price per figure. Then the next year the ten-figure boxes got another bump in price. This year it is price increases, the great Australian trade embargo, and a poorly-executed exchange of resin for metal. Next year Games Workshop will do something else stupid that many people hate and more than likely increase prices on another group of figures. I can no longer afford to buy every shiny new thing that comes out, so I’ve been brain-storming about what to do. I took a look at my figure inventory and realized that at my theoretical painting rate I have something like a six-year backlog just in Warhammer Fantasy and 40k figures, but much of it doesn’t really fit into any list that I actually want to purchase. My plan is to focus only on the army lists that I really get jazzed about. I will work on one major project each year, and mix in one or two minor projects as well. I’ll probably start with one of my Orcs & Goblins lists, as I have most of the figures for them already, less a couple of trolls and maybe one or two odds and ends. A minor project to go along with it could be a skirmish game (maybe some Pirates or Old West figures), some terrain, or something else that’s been sitting on my shelf for a while. That system should allow me to focus my time and money on projects that are actually meaningful to me. I suppose it’s similar to The Pledge or the Frugal Gaming movement. Talking about it is all fine and good, but the proof is in the doing. Games Workshop will still be getting some of my cash, but not as much of it, and I should be getting more bang for my buck. I hope that the quality control on the Finecast line improves, as I may wind up needing a few of the figures to fill out my lists, and I’d rather not have to build a Boltgun or a cape from scratch.

27 May 2011

Miniature Me

My sister made a doll of me for my oldest son, so he would be able to have daddy around while the real deal is overseas. It's a fairly common thing to do, and it's generally seen as kind of a sweet memento for the kids to carry around and talk to and act as a place holder. Well, this is kind of like that, except that it's a bit more frightening than comforting. This is me, in doll form:

There's no accounting for taste, and my boy has taken a shine to it, so it all works out. The photo she chose is not that flattering, but it is pretty accurate. The uniform is from the wrong service, but my sister's husband is a Marine, so I can let that go. I think it helps my son to get to sleep at night, and after all the trouble we've had with bedtime over the last 2 1/2 years, anything that makes it easier for him to go to bed and actually go to sleep is worth its weight in gold. I also hear that Miniature Me is serving a dual purpose. Apparently he was using the doll as a makeshift gun and shooting members of the family. It's a good sign. He's got the bloodthirsty bit down; now I just need to teach him to paint and roll dice.

17 May 2011

Really, Games Workshop?

Well, Games Workshop is rolling out yet another set of price increases. It probably doesn't rank very high on the scale of world disasters, but it just seems like a bit much. I guess it's good that I have an attic full of figures that need painted. There aren't a lot of things I "need" for my next few army lists that I don't already have, but the cost of a playable army is already more than my house payment (really most armies are close to two house payments unless you can find a good deal on second-hand figures) and that is a lot of cash. I usually make the argument that at least it's not as expensive as some hobbies, but it's getting there.

In other news, I am currently reading book 16 of the Horus Heresy, and after the last few books I am full of ideas for my miniatures. We'll see if I get around to actually doing any of it, but it's exciting to have so many ideas. I haven't touched my paintbrushes for a little while. I got hung up on painting some cloaks and lost my momentum. I would like to get back into the swing of it. I'm also trying to decide if I should do a Traitor Guard army in addition to my Orks, so my Imperial forces have more than one enemy to fight. These Traitor Guard wouldn't be all mutated or anything, they'd probably just deface the symbols on their vehicles and have a different color scheme.

Not much else to report from over here in the desert. I hope the next few months go quickly so I can be home before my kids are all grown up.

04 April 2011

Orc Lists

A week or two ago I went through the Orcs & Goblins army book and made three lists based on what I view as the main Orc & Goblin tribes. The first list is made up of Forest Goblins and Savage Orcs. This includes the Arachnarok spider and every other Spider-riding unit in the list.

The second list is Night Goblins and Squigs. I added some Stone Trolls to this list for muscle, as I figure they can be found in the same caves the Night Goblins inhabit. I also added a couple of Spear Chukkas, which aren't specifically Night Goblin war machines, but could easily be converted and probably would be useful for cave fighting due to having a flat firing trajectory when compared to Rock Lobbas and Doom Diver Catapults. I guess that doesn't matter too much in game terms, but it makes sense when considering the 'reality' of Night Goblins battling the Dwarves and Skaven for control of the underground. My suspension of disbelief only goes so far.

The third list is a bit larger, and is what you could call a traditional Orc & Goblin list. It's got all of the standard units (Orc Boyz, Goblins, Snotlings, Boar Cavalry, Wolf Cavalry, Chariots, Trolls, and Giants) as well as the war machines that didn't make the other lists (Doom Diver Catapult, Rock Lobba, Snotling Pump Wagon). It even has an Orc Warboss on a Wyvern. I wasn't sure about this one, as it's a huge number of points to spend on a single character, but I have the model and need an excuse to paint it up, so it's in the list.

If I were able to up my painting production and paint a couple hundred models a year, this group of lists would probably take me about 2 1/2 years to finish. That's a pretty long time, but at least now I have an idea of what I actually want to paint up for each army. I'm pretty sure I have some surplus figures that I can try to sell or trade for the things I still lack. I'm planning on making additional lists for every army I'm working on.

29 March 2011

March Update

I've been working on my Dwarf army and with the completion of the current 5-model batch, I will have 35 models finished, just over a third of the army. I've got a pretty good system going for the models, so they are going faster with each batch. The most time-consuming part of the work is painting the beards, but painting beards is also the best part of the process, so it all balances out. I hope to work my way through some more of them.

I recently got books 9-12 in the Horus Heresy series, so I should be reading through those over the next week or two. I just finished reading the first Ciaphas Cain omnibus, which takes a more light-hearted look at the 40k world. It was pretty good, and I look forward to ordering some more of those books.

After I got back from my R & R leave, I took a little break from exercise, but I've picked that back up. Running isn't quite the chore it's been for the last few years. I finished my run today and realized that I was only wheezing and snorting during the last half-mile or so, rather than being out of breath in the first couple hundred yards. We have a PT test coming up, so we'll see if I continue making gains. When we got here I was barely finishing the 2 miles in the minimum 17 minutes, but I've worked that down to 15:50. It would be nice to get under 15 minutes by the time we go home. I also need to push myself on the other events and my fitness in general. I've been considering the P90X workouts as I've heard good things about them from many sources, but haven't justified ordering the DVDs just yet.

I also bought a car, which has been quite an ordeal. We've been looking for something pretty much since we traded in my truck for a minivan to replace my wife's Subaru wagon before I left. While I was home on leave we looked at a whole pile of cars, and I've been a fixture on the car sales sites and fueleconomy.gov during most of my free moments. We nearly bought two or three cars, but things fell through each time. We finally found something that met our transportation requirements and fell into the right reliability/fuel economy/low mileage brackets. I'll admit that it doesn't look that practical, but it was a decent compromise. That big wing on the back is a bit silly, too, but at least it is a factory option and not something from the aftermarket. My wife is not a fan of garish yellow cars, but she knows that I like flashy colors when it comes to shoes and cars, so she relented in this case. For the most part I hope to ride the commuter van to work and save that gas money for other things, but we wanted something with reasonable fuel economy to drive when the commuter van or my motorcycle (52 mpg) weren't an option. I'm pretty happy with our decision, but we'll see how it works out for us over the next several years.

Our twin boys are growing pretty well. I think they are both rapidly approaching 9 pounds. My mom got to meet them for the first time a couple of days ago, which is pretty neat I guess. My wife had a family friend take some family pictures of her and all our boys, and they turned out pretty nice. I don't have access to any of them here, so you'll just have to take my word that I have a pretty good-looking family, especially when I'm not there to lower the bar.

03 March 2011

Phoenix Fire Games, Part 2 and Malifaux

I stopped back into Phoenix Fire Games this evening and had another look around. It appears that their Customer Loyalty program is a bit more robust than the one at Hobbytown. The Hobbytown program here offers a $5 coupon for every $100 you spend, good for use on any purchase over $25 in the next 90 days. Idaho has a 6% sales tax, so the coupon almost covers that. Most of their Warhammer box sets are marked down from list price a fair amount, while blister packs and army books are usually sold at MSRP. Core rules are usually offered at a discount as well. I'm not sure what formula they use, but it works out in general that the Hobbytown prices are pretty competitive with internet prices, except during seasonal sales, bulk purchases,  and/or when the Pound is weak against the US Dollar.

The Phoenix Fire Games Rewards program is based on the $100 model, but for every $100 you spend, you get 10% off on your next purchase. The website encourages you to load up and save, making sure that your 10% discount applies to a large purchase. On the surface it seems like a good system for someone who plans out an army and buys it all at once, with hobby supplies and odds and ends making up the initial $100 of purchases. It's not the 20% off + shipping that certain online retailers offer, but the online retailers can't offer a space to game and a local community of like-minded people. If you planned out your purchases, this program would probably work out a bit better than the Hobbytown program, but for multiple small purchases Hobbytown still offers the best deal locally. But Hobbytown doesn't really focus on gaming and has moved away from having games going on in the store, although the Hobbytown here in my town has a pretty active TCG group that takes over a large portion of the store on tournament days. They don't offer enough table space as the shop is quite small, so most of the games are played on the floors in the aisles, luckily away from the miniatures section of the store.

There were a fair number of people in the gaming area of the Phoenix Fire store today. It looked like they were mostly playing TCGs. I've purchased decks and cards for most of the major TCGs (Magic, World of Warcraft, Vs., Pokemon, probably some others), but the sheer number of cards and frequent releases overwhelms me a bit. I just can't process all of the stuff that's going on in most TCGs. Even when I was playing Heroclix, the sheer number of stats and abilities crushed my brain. The other guys who played seemed able to memorize every stat on every figure, but I never really mastered it. Anyway, there was a decent crowd in the shop and they all appeared to be having a good time. I saw one guy walking around with a Tyranid codex and a box of figures, but I didn't see anyone playing any miniature games. I didn't look too hard, though, and the event calendar says tonight was board game night. There could have been five games of Warhammer going on and I may have missed it.

One of the games on the shelves that  haven't seen elsewhere in town (I haven't been to All About Games recently) is Malifaux, the miniatures game by Wyrd Miniatures, It's a skirmish-level Steampunk/Fantasy game with an accompanying line of figures. I know it is a diceless game that relies on cards, but I don't know much else about it, aside from seeing the figures and reading about it on a few of the blogs I follow. To me, an uneducated observer, it appears to target the same sort of person who plays Warmachine/Hordes, which I categorize as a mix between a standard miniature wargame and a TCG. I don't think I'll buy into either system, but I can't say I haven't thought about it. I do hope that the shop runs a Warhammer or Warhammer 40k league around the time I get home from Iraq. I will try to support the shop, as it's the closest thing I've got to a local gaming-focused store.

01 March 2011

Phoenix Fire Games

Yesterday I stopped by a new gaming store in the area, Phoenix Fire Games. They are located just two or three blocks from our previous home, which would've been nice to have at the time. I don't know how often I would go there now, as there is a Hobbytown located just down the road from my house here in my new city. The new store seems to have a fairly active event schedule, which is something Hobbytown doesn't offer anymore.

The shop looked clean. It's a bit small, with a few gaming tables in the back. Not a lot of GW product, but I think D&D/Magic/WoW TCG/Board Games are their main focus. They do have a Warhammer Escalation League going now, but they are pretty far along in the cycle at the moment at 1750 points. They also run weekly D&D Encounters events, which would be nice to participate in, as getting a group of friends together for playing RPGs requires one to have at least three or four friends with matching blocks of free time. But store-run events don't require you to have friends at all. I guess we'll see what the shop is running when I get back home. An escalation league could be pretty fun.

One god thing they had was a few of the upcoming Orcs & Goblins releases on a shelf for customers to look at. I got to take a look at the Savage Orcs box and the Arachnarok Spider box, as well as flip through the pages of the new army book. The switch to hardcover is an obvious ploy to add ten dollars to the book price without offering anything new in terms of content. There's nothing in there that couldn't be done in the already ridiculously-priced softcover format, which has gone up by ten dollars in the last five years anyway. But I am a shameless fanboy, so I pre-ordered it. Most of the new units have been previewed elsewhere on the web, with the big spider and some sneaky Goblin assassin-types being the main new entries to the list. The only other new thing that really caught my eye was the Mangler Squigs, described as two really angry Squigs chained together and sent spinning into combat, sort of like Night Goblin Fanatics on crack. Hobbytown used to put new models in one of their display cases for people to look at before release, but I haven't seen anything there for a while.

The shop also carries a few boxes from the Lord of the Rings range, which is pretty cool, but also probably a money sink for them. I have really mixed feelings about the Lord of the Rings games from GW. The miniatures are, in my opinion, some of the best-looking figures out there. I like them a lot. I just have so many game systems going right now that it's hard to justify really going after this one, too. At my current rate, the backlog on my shelves will take me approximately 3,500 years to paint, and each box of figures will add another year to that total. Still, it is cool that they carry portions of the line.

27 February 2011

February Update

This has been quite a month for me. I spent about three days in transit from Iraq to Idaho for my two weeks of R & R leave. On the 22nd we welcomed a couple new folks into the family. Bruce Banner (left) was born at 7:47 a.m. and Logan X (right) was born a couple of minutes later at 7:49 a.m. As you can see from the picture, they are not identical. The last few days have been a bit of a haze. Our 2-year old is slowly warming up to them, but he's a bit jealous of the time that momma spends with the new brothers. We have to remind him a lot that he needs to be gentle with them, but we haven't had any major disasters.

All of my paints and brushes are back in Iraq with my Dwarf army, so I haven't been working on any hobby stuff (not that the twins give me any time for that). I'm pretty excited for the new Orcs & Goblins releases, specifically the new Savage Orcs and the massive Arachnarok spider. These releases have got me thinking about the state of my armies. I've realized that my Orcs & Goblins are really three separate armies. These fall into the Forest Goblin/Spiders/Savage Orcs section, with the other two armies being the Night Goblins/Squigs and then the traditional Orcs/Goblins/Snotlings army. There is some overlap between the armies, but for me most of the units in the army fall into one of those three molds. I'm not sure what the new army book will look like. I hope it doesn't change too much.

I borrowed a couple of pictures from the Scatterbrain blog that show the new Savage Orcs and the scale of Arachnarok compared to standard Orcs. You can also see the mount for one of the Forest Goblin Spider Riders sitting under his leg.

If I get a little more free time in my life I want to sort all of my figures from every range into army lists. Skaven sort out into a couple of different lists, I need to figure out the fictional make-up of my Space Marine army so I know how to paint each squad, the Imperial Guard need split out into a few different groupings, and I'm sure the Empire will break out into a standard State Troops list and a fanatical Crusade list. Then there are the other game systems and stand-alone figures. I have most of the Warhammer/Warhammer 40k stuff in my collection inventoried, but I really don't have any clue about how much other stuff I've got from other game systems and companies.

31 January 2011

Recent Reading

I finished reading the Bone anthology a couple of days ago. It's a really good adventure story. Although it's got over 1300 pages, it ended much too quickly. But the story ended, and I'm not sure how you could top what the characters had just been through, so I guess it ended in the right place. Most of the complaints from Amazon reviewers focus on the lack of color in the anthology printing, but I think the line art really stands alone very well. The few other negative or neutral reviewers are just cold soulless folk who wouldn't know fun if it bit them on the bum and said, "Hi, I'm Fun!" I'd recommend reading it if you get the chance.

I also read the Sabbat Worlds Anthology, edited by Dan Abnett and featuring short stories and novellas from him and several other Black Library authors. All of the stories take place in the world of Gaunt's Ghosts, although many of them focus on other units and other planets. But all are part of the Sabbat Worlds Crusade that Gaunt's Ghost's made famous. After reading the first two stories I wasn't sure I'd spent my money wisely on the book. They left me feeling a bit flat, I'm not sure if the writing wasn't very good or just because I didn't identify with the characters and situations in them. Luckily, the book picked up for me from that point on, and I enjoyed the rest of it. The first Abnett story was a bit silly, though, as you could tell pretty soon what the surprise ending was. I sincerely hope that he was just trying to give some insight into Gaunt's character and values rather than trick the reader, because it was pretty obvious what was going on. I can't really say more without giving up spoilers, so I'll leave it at that. I'd recommend the book if you are following the Gaunt's Ghosts series, but otherwise you probably won't miss much by giving it a pass. Next on my agenda is Blood Pact, the most recent book in the Gaunt's Ghosts series, and after that I will probably start in on the Horus Heresy books.

I slapped some black wash on the Dwarf Warriors the other day, but that's about it on the miniature wargaming side. I've started running again after a few days off, so that's been fun. I can't say I enjoy running, but I do feel better when I've made it a point to exercise (almost) daily. And I've enjoyed watching my times slowly get better.

27 January 2011

Not Everything is Negative

Although I am mildly irritated by Forge World's disregard for my favorite armies and the uninspiring Hell Pit Abomination figure for the Skaven army, things are really not all that bad. I got a shipment of new books to read in the mail today, an anthology of stories from the Gaunt's Ghosts setting and the first four books of the Horus Heresy series. I have nearly completed my reading of the Bone anthology, which has been a great read. I've made it to the last book, so I may be able to go to bed on time today rather than staying up late to read just one more. We'll see if the Horus Heresy books keep me up past my bedtime.

The twins continue to grow and appear healthy. One of the benefits of having multiple kids in the womb is that you get to have more ultrasounds, so I think my wife gets to look at them almost every week. I get to see a few of the pictures, although the babies aren't very cooperative.

I am still ignoring the Dwarves, who should be half-painted by now. I haven't been able to get myself going on this second batch. I partially blame changes in the routine at work, as changes to my routine usually leave me floundering for a while. The day shift guys have been having difficulty sleeping, so they hang around the office at night and bother me socialize. So the first few hours of my shift are devoted to listening to other people's drama and/or receiving unsolicited advice for problems I don't anticipate facing in my life. For my schedule those are the hours that are best suited to working on figures, so instead of working on Dwarves I get to take part in an un-aired reality show drama. I find it frustrating, but I don't suppose there is any benefit in holding a grudge. So I let it go and silently pray that the other guys will be healed of their sleep issues. Perhaps I should give them the advice my Mom gave to us, "How can you get to sleep if you're out here messing around? Maybe if you go get in your bed you'll feel more tired."

I have a lot of ideas for my wargaming armies, but I don't see a lot of actual progress being made for the moment. I need to find a template for Imperial Guard infantry, so I can draw different camo designs on them and come up with something I like for a Mars-type planet. I recall seeing one, maybe it was in the old Imperial Guard army book or an old copy of White Dwarf, but I haven't had any luck finding a digital one that I can use on the computer or print out and color manually. The best way to do it would be to paint different designs on actual figures, but I don't really have the resources for that here.

My couple weeks of leave is coming up soon and I'm looking forward to spending some time at home with my family. Our two-year old is extremely energetic and talkative, so I will probably spend the entire time being jumped on and talked to. It should be a lot of fun. And it will be nice to finally meet the twins. I doubt I'll get much wargaming stuff done while I'm home, but maybe I'll be able to steal a few moments for myself to do a small project like paint a character model or a superhero. The weather at home is still a bit cold and wet, so plans for motorcycle riding will likely have to wait until late Summer. I may sneak out once, though, with my heated jacket and gloves. The best thing will be getting to spend some time with my wife. I enjoy her company quite a bit. We'll both be going crazy with the new babies and the toddler, but hopefully we can sneak in a few minutes to go on a date and get our lives synced back up. Sometimes it's a difficult adjustment because the deployed soldier and the family at home both get into routines, and coming home is a bit of a shock to both sides. But I'm looking forward to seeing them and living in something that's not a shipping container for a couple weeks.

The Curse of Chaos

This is going to be bit of a rant, I suppose. Probably a two-parter, although the parts are related. My first complaint deals with the Hell Pit Abomination figure that Games Workshop released for the Skaven army. The model is just too busy. People seem to be fielding plenty of them because of the juicy statline, but for me it just doesn't fit in with my vision of a Skaven super-beast. If they were going to give the Skaven a big Moulder-created figure, why couldn't it have been someting like a massive Rat Ogre or Rat Mammoth (like the Lizardmen Stegadon, only furry)? At least something with a face. From the tail to the center of the torso, the critter looks okay. After that, it devolves into a complicated mass of heads and limbs that just don't work. There's so much going on that no real theme can come out of it. I don't particularly like the army book description, and I really don't like the model. Maybe the stat line is all right, but I've never paid much attention to stat lines before. The battle report in January's White Dwarf featured two of the creatures, and I couldn't help rooting against them. I just don't see the draw, which brings me to my next problem.

Forge World recently sent out a newsletter proclaiming the first wave of releases for their Warhammer Forge line, models that focus on the world and armies of Warhammer Fantasy. Rather than covering a variety of popular Fantasy armies, all of the releases are Nurgle-themed. Someone at Forge World must be a huge Chaos fan with a Nurgle fetish, because they release far too many models that regurgitate the same tired theme. I hope they eventually release something exciting for the other armies, but it seems a bit narrow-minded to only cater to one segment of your fan base with the inaugural wave of releases. I'd like to see a Dwarven war machine, some Skaven contraption, or perhaps a Forge World interpretation of an Imperial Steam Tank. I'm sure they could do wonders with the Orcs and Goblins, too, as their Ork range for 40k is pretty decent. Granted, I can't afford half of their stuff and mostly only window shop, but there are a few models from the 40k line that I am going to get as time and budget permit. I would like to suppor the Fantasy side of the house as well, but only when they decide to support all of the hobbyists who don't want to run Nurgle-themed Chaos armies.

25 January 2011


Today before work I played the board game Shogun with a couple of guys from my unit. One of the guys is really into board games and has been hustling pretty hard to find players. Three of the five scheduled people showed up this evening, which is the minimum necessary to play. It's a pretty interesting game, with players fighting for control of territory while balancing a limited budget that must be split between raising armies and constructing buildings. Owning a territory will score some points, but buildings are where the game is really won. The game lasts two turns, with four rounds per turn that represent the seasons of the year. At the end of winter, the number of buildings in each region are added up, and the owners of the most buildings in each region gain points.

I came in second place, with the guy who owns the game winning. I don't think I really caught the scope of the game until partway through the second turn, and by then it was too late to catch up on construction or conquest of territories with important buildings. I think there is a tentative plan to play again soon, and I should be able to give it a better run next time.

I did have a couple of good moves during the final turn, using the combat mechanic to my advantage. All of the armies are in the form of small colored wooden cubes. During an attack, the armies are gathered together and thrown into a battle tower, which is like a dice tower except that some of the armies thrown into the tower might stick on the shelves and stay inside. The ones that fall all the way out are used to resolve the combat, and the ones that stay in the tower have the opportunity to influence future combats. I knew approximately what my opponents might do during the attack phases. I arranged some useless combats in the early part of the fighting to pre-load the tower with armies of my color, so that in the combats that really mattered I would have an advantage. It worked well this time and in two decisive battles I had more armies come out than I'd put in, providing the margin of victory for those combats. It's not a fool-proof method, but if you know there's an important combat coming up you can increase your chances by trying to get some more of your unused armies stuck in the tower.

23 January 2011

Superhero Gaming

The next batch of Dwarves is coming along slowly. I am trying to push through and actually keep this project moving. There's not very much that's complicated about them, but I am a slow painter. One of the guys asked me how long it takes to paint each one, and I estimate my time at 1.5-2 hours per figure. So I'm figuring it will take a little over 200 hours for the army, once you figure in the time it will take to base them and brush on a coat or two of varnish, as well as waffling around and painting character models. I may even hit 300 hours on the 2000-point Dwarf project.

I didn't work on the figures tonight, as I had to watch some football. I'm glad the Packers beat the Bears, and it looks like the Steelers are going to beat the Jets. That would make for a good Super Bowl matchup. I sure hope the Steelers lose to the Packers, though. Roethlisberger has an uncanny ability to move around in the pocket, but his decisions off the field make me root against him. Of course, you can't throw a football in an NFL stadium without hitting a player with some legal and/or personality issues. But the Steelers should have some bad karma coming to them after they stole that Super Bowl from the Seahawks a few years ago.

I've been getting a little tired of using the same GW paint colors for everything, especially skin tones. I've been looking at other paint lines, like Foundry's paint system, but switching paint systems is not the cheapest thing to do. I will probably just pick and choose a few different colors from other lines to supplement GW colors that I want to switch up. I know there are a lot of people who use cheap craft paints that come in big bottles for $0.99, and I use some of them for bases and terrain, but they just go on a little too thick and grainy for me to use them for my figures. Even watered down they don't go on the way I'd like. There's no doubt that hobby paints are expensive, but so are most hobby items.

A couple of blogs that have caught my eye recently are those showcasing superhero figures. I love comics and the brightly colored heroes and villains who populate their worlds. We're even naming all of our kids after various comic book heroes, which is something I hope they'll appreciate as they get older. We haven't done anything too crazy with their first names, though, as it's important to me that they'll be able to suppress the comic book connection if they want to later in their academic or professional lives. But enough about my kids, here are a couple of blogs I've spotted recently that heavily feature superhero figures. There are a lot of neat figures out there for superhero gaming, quite a few from Reaper's Chronoscope line, a bunch from Superfigs, some Heroclix that can be rebased, and probably a hundred more I don't know about just yet. I've only painted one super so far, but I have big visions for teams and individuals that could inhabit a four-color world. I just need a rules system and a pile of lead.

I also wanted to bring some attention to this Death Mountain terrain piece over at the Ricalopia blog. There are a few work-in-progress posts prior to the post I linked, so you can see the process that went into it. It's a combination of GW kits and foam that come together to make something really neat and unique.

19 January 2011

Reptiles, Reading, and Too Much Bacon

I thought I had something to write about, but whatever idea I had has flown the coop and I am unable to bring it back. I finished my book on the illegal reptile trade, which was an interesting look at how far some people will take an obsession. I had no idea how much double-crossing and dirty dealing there was in the world of animal trade. Even some of the most famous zoos in the world were allegedly in on many of these deals, although they tried to distance themselves from it once the big stings by federal agents got them some unwanted press coverage. The feds apparently had enough evidence to go after the zoos, but thought better of it, preferring instead to take down the sleazy guys who actually arranged and carried out the smuggling.

I would still like to keep a reptile or three, probably just Owen, our Russian Tortoise, and a small snake or two. I'm not too interested in the rare and illegal critters offered by the folks I've just finished reading about.  I've promised my wife that I won't try to bring home a snake until I am there to care for it and have a place set up to put it. The males in my family have a history of bringing home animals that don't necessarily have proper housing set up yet, and sometimes it gets interesting.

I haven't read much from my Bone anthology yet. I may try to get stuck in today after my shift, but I also may decide to paint some Dwarves. I haven't decided yet. It would be nice if this place had a library that was any good, because I keep running out of books and I really don't have space for all these books, either. An e-reader of some kind would sure be handy, but good luck finding a place to download books from. Many new PC games are unplayable here as well, as the anti-piracy features render them unplayable without a handy internet connection. I've just about given up entirely on video games. The return on time invested just seems to be getting lower and lower for me personally, and jumping through all the hoops just to verify that my software is a legal copy makes me more grouchy than I already am. I haven't quite sworn them off entirely, but I'm pretty darn close.

Now I'm off to get some breakfast. The portions at the chow hall are ridiculous. If you ask for bacon, you will get a minimum of 8 slices, maybe up to 12. If you get eggs, there will be at least 2 cups of eggs. If you want hashbrowns, you'll get a huge pile of them. It's crazy. I will probably have a heart attack caused entirely by bacon overdoses. I hope that's covered by my insurance policy.

17 January 2011

I haven't made any progress on the next batch of Dwarf Warriors, as I have been too caught up in reading books. I've read as far as I can in the Gaunt's Ghosts series, as there is one anthology of short stories and one final novel to read. They are on order, so it will be a few days still before they arrive. There are rumors that the next novel is in the works, but it will be a while yet before it is released. I don't even think it is fully written yet.

I've been toying with the idea of reading through the Horus Heresy books, although I've heard that with all of the different contributing authors the quality of each book varies greatly. But I still may take the plunge and try them out to get a decent look at the background of the Space Marines.

My parents sent me a couple of books, the Bone one-volume anthology which collects the entire run of the adventure comic into one massive paperback tome. It does not have the color art of the individual books, but I don't think it detracts at all from the story. I am currently reading the other book they sent, Stolen World: A Tale of Reptiles, Smugglers, and Skulduggery.  It covers the career arcs of several big players in the world of illegal reptile smuggling. It's a pretty interesting story, and the people involved in this sort of smuggling are about the same sort as you'd expect international smugglers of just about anything to be. I also received a recent issue of Reptiles magazine from my wife, and it was interesting to me that one of the guys from the book who served a couple of prison terms for his actions had a feature about one of his snakes and a couple of ads in the magazine. You'd think that he'd move away from the reptile industry, but maybe he's legit now. From what I've read in the story, though, these guys have a hard time sticking to your garden-variety legally-acquired creatures.

My wife also sent me the most recent issue of White Dwarf, which heavily features the Skaven. I have been thinking of modelling my Warhammer armies as opposing pairs with common terrain sets to use between them. Dwarves and Night Goblins might make good enemies, and there would be plenty of terrain that could be built for underground battles; pillars and stone monuments for the Dwarves, and rubble and giant cartoon mushrooms for the Goblins. The bigger greenskins don't fit this model very well, though, and neither do the other Goblin types. The Empire and the Skaven would work well against each other, although the Skaven would also be natural rivals for the greenskins and the Dwarves. I'm not really sure how to fit it all together. It really only affects my choices for basing schemes, but the bases are an important part of making the army look like it fits in with the other things on the battlefield. I'll have to think about it some more. I am looking forward to flipping through the issue, though, as it looks like it contains plenty of stuff that is of interest to me.

15 January 2011

The 11 Dwarf Warriors I've been working on are finished. There are still some things I may do to them eventually, but for the moment I am calling them done. They look pretty good to me, and I hope I can burn through the next 100 figures fairly over the next few months. I wish I had a lot more free time, as there are about 3 million different wargaming projects I'd like to complete. With the recent Skaven releases I've been thinking about various Skaven armies based on the different clans described in the fluff. I've ordered the new Uniforms and Heraldry of the Skaven book from Games Workshop. It should be a good reference for idea. I used the Uniforms and Heraldry of the Empire book quite extensively when deciding on the colors for my Empire troops.

I've read rumors on a couple of blogs today that Wargames Factory may be under new management/going out of business/changing business models. Some people have waited a couple of months without receiving their figures, and it looks like they might be out of luck entirely. I ordered a Saxon army deal a while back, but it arrived without any trouble. It would be a disappointment if they do go out of business, as many of their figures are quite neat, and I have ongoing projects based on the Wargames Factory Vikings and Saxons. I'm sure I could mix them with other manufacturers, but I tend to enjoy keeping my forces consistent. We'll see how it shakes out.

There is a fair bit of down time when I'm on duty, so I brought my Dwarves into the office to paint during the slow times. I water down my paint pots so I can paint directly from the pot and shut things down quickly by wiping my brush off and closing the lid if something comes up. So far the other guys have shown a bit of interest in the painting of the figures, but not particularly in the game itself. One of the guys I work with is a former Warhammer player, but he said he quit the game because he and his friends would fight over the rules and that the books were written in such a way that the only way to win was to out-cheat the other player. I think that they might have been going into things with the wrong attitude. He's one of those folks who look down on everyone they meet as an inferior intellect, so it's a bit of a chore to talk to him anyway. At least there is plenty of time to paint.

12 January 2011

No Sleep

It's been difficult for me to get to bed on time the last few days, as I find it difficult to stop painting and reading when I should. I suppose it's good that I am excited about my activities, but I can't say I feel very good when the alarm goes off. Right now I'm reading through the last few Gaunt's Ghosts novels, and I'm currently working my way through His Last Command, the ninth book in the series.

Of course, reading the fiction has got me thinking about the tabletop game. Lately my mind has been churning over various ideas for my Imperial Guard army. I don't think all of my ideas will fit into one force. If I tried to shoehorn everything in and they would wind up looking like my Space Marines, who have bits and pieces from every Chapter out there. I've been trying to come up with proper fluff for the Marines to explain why they have a strong Space Wolf influence, various parts from the Black Templars, Sanguinary Guard and other Blood Angel bits, and probably some Dark Angels stuff as well. The only way for me to go was a homebrew Chapter because I like all of it and I prefer to mix the parts all together. I think my Chapter (as yet unnamed) are probably scavengers or relic hunters of some kind, going to the sites of previous battles to retrieve artifacts and equipment. Of course, taking bits and pieces that by rights belongs to other Chapters isn't going to set well with those other Marines, so perhaps my Marines offer the relics up to their original owners and keep a few pieces for their own use. Or perhaps the equipment has been lost for so long on Chaos or Tyranid-infested planets that the original owners don't want it back for fear that it has been lost long enough to absorb some Chaos energy. I would imagine that every so often a Marine wearing this found equipment mutates, goes crazy, or grows a segmented carapace, lending an air of truth to the rumors and raising suspicion among "pure" Chapters. Or perhaps my Chapter spreads these rumors as a way to hold on to more of their found treasure. I've been tempted recently by some of the older Power Armor patterns on the Forge World site, specifically the Crusade, Iron, and Corvus pattern armor, although you can create most of a Corvus pattern suit from any Tactical Marine plastic kit. Those beaky heads are expensive on eBay, though, especially if you want a lot of them. Anyway, I think this paragraph was supposed to discuss my Guard army, not my thoughts on my Space Marines. I'll have to get to that.

I will definitely want to do a Recon force heavily based on the Elysian Drop Troops. For my basic troopers I will probably use Cadians supplemented by parts kits from Forge World, mostly a mix of weapons and grav-chutes. I suppose Catachans might work well for Recon troops, but it's sort of weird to attach a grav-chute to a guy wearing a tank top. I will have to find another use for my Catachans. In a perfect world this force will be equipped with light vehicles and air support, hopefully in the form of the couple of Valkyrie kits I have at home and some of the Forge World Drop Sentinels and wheeled Assault Vehicles. They'll probably all be painted to match the Red Planet theme I envision for all of my 40k armies.

The rest of my force hasn't received a lot of thought, although I would like to field a little of everything. I may split things up so that I can represent a couple of different regiments with slightly different uniforms and equipment. Perhaps that would be a good way to split up Catachans and Cadians, with the Cadians being the more regimented units with higher-quality gear and the Catachans having a more ragged, Mad Max feel. They might even be so depleted that they rely on Penal Legions to fill gaps in their lines or act as the first wave in assaults. Or maybe the Cadians would, to spare their superior troops for the clean-up work.

I haven't given much thought to how such forces would play on the tabletop. It doesn't really matter to me, I suppose. I've been thinking that playing games isn't the highest-ranking thing on my radar. I find it difficult to enjoy gaming, especially when I play games with people I don't know very well. I'm not very open with new people anyway, let alone when there is a competition at hand. I'd probably play more if I had friends or family to play with regularly as I can recall that playing computer or board games with them doesn't give rise to the same negative feelings I have when I play with strangers. That would mean I'd have to cultivate relationships with strangers or acquaintances by gaming with them, so it's just a vicious cycle of me battling against my own social awkwardness. I'd rather sit at home and paint than go out and fight my demons.

When I've been able to break away from my reading, I've made some good progress on my first batch of eleven Dwarf Warriors. Why am I painting eleven figures, rather than good round numbers like five or ten? That's when I ran out of paint during the first color's basecoat. There are seven or eight more figures in the unit, so in another week or so I hope to have a full unit of Dwarves finished. Hopefully I will get this first batchc finished or at least close to it after my shift is finished. I will have to wait to post photos until I return home, as I don't have a camera handy.

10 January 2011

More Progress

I've been making some progress on my Dwarf army, with most of the base colors blocked in. I am deviating somewhat from the painting guide to give the troops some variety. Armor, shields, and weapons are all the same colors, but I've chosen a few different colors for shirts and beards. I failed to have my wife send me one set of gray paints, so for the Dwarves with gray beards I am using the group with more blue in it, I think it's Shadow Gray, Space Wolves Gray, and Skull White rather than Codex Gray, Fortress Gray, and Skull White, which are the more traditional grays. Something along those line. I painted a test figure and he looks all right from a distance, so it should be okay. I will probably wind up needing those other gray colors at some point, but for now it's okay. Overall I am happy with the paint scheme. The figures won't win any awards, but I think they will look good as an army out on the table, especially if I can slog through them all. If I can do it, it will be my second fully-painted army, though the Skaven may not count anymore with all of the changes to the rule system and the army book.

08 January 2011

I've started working on my Dwarf army a little bit. It looks like I've got about 2000 points to paint, which is somewhere around 110 figures. I did have to build the characters up a bit to stretch the list out to 2000 points. In an ideal world I would probably take some points away from characters and add in another artillery piece. I won't be gaming with them any time soon, so I can get that all sorted out when I'm home. The paint scheme is nothing spectacular or unique. I am just going from the How to Paint Dwarf Warriors article on the Games Workshop website. So far I've just got some of the metal and clothing started. I am a painfully slow painter, even when I'm trying to speed-paint. Another dilemma I have is figuring out how to get them home without destroying the paint job. I don't want to be too much of a whiner, but many of the packages I receive here look like they've been through a mail shredder. Just about every box is crushed, and it's not uncommon for flaps and strips of cardboard to be torn off the boxes. I imagine that boxes moving the other direction suffer a similar fate. I'll probably have to order a couple of foam infantry trays or some kind of army case for them.

I've also had a look through last month's White Dwarf. The magazine featured an article on different terrain boards that one of the staff had made up, of course using different GW scenery kits. For the 40k board he built and painted a Mars-type red planet board that I thought looked pretty good. I'd already been planning to use a red and gray color scheme for my Imperial Guard, and this terrain board looks like a good starting point for me when I get around to building some scenery for them. I think I may build all of my 40k figures to fight on a red planet, so the basing and painting and terrain will all match. I'm not sure how that will affect my Orks, but I've got a little while before I have to worry about that. There are still a few model kits I'd like to have as far as gaming pieces for my armies, but I'd really like to bulk up on my scenery collection, which at the moment consists of an unbuilt Watchtower kit, a grass mat, and a space mat. Games Workshop has released a few nice kits recently, and I could stand to scratchbuild some things, too. Eventually some of my armies are going to be painted and I may want to play with them or set them up on a table and make battle sounds while marching them around.

I've also been thinking a little about my planned Space Marine Chapter and how it will be put together. I doubt I will ever paint 1000 Space Marines, plus HQ, vehicles, and staff, so I will probably try to paint a Battle Company (3rd Company), selected HQ (Chapter Masters, Librarians), vehicles (a little of everything), and elements from the 1st Company (Veterans and Terminators) and the Scouts. I saw this blog post from GWpertinent showing magnetized arms for every Terminator weapon option today. It seems like a good idea, and I can see the benefits, especially when you are just trying to fill out a unit for a game. You see a lot of vehicles and larger kits magnetized, but it's more rare to see it in basic troops. I will probably still build my models the old-fashioned way without magnets or interchangeability, but it's an interesting idea.

It doesn't look like I will be taking any classes this semester. I can't count on being in the same situation all the way through May, and I can't risk failing any more classes. It stinks not to be making progress in school, but right now I just don't think I can do it. My wife says that at least I will have a chance to work on my Dwarves. She's a good woman. I'm glad she bonked me over the head and made me marry her.