Thursday, November 29, 2012

Land of the Lost: Prehistoric Pulp Hunting Parties So Far

Slow, steady progress for the Prehistoric Pulp project continues, much like the glaciers that will eventually cover most of their world. Luckily the '200 club' at The Warhammer Forum is a year-long project, because I don't have a lot of time for my creative projects, but it is nice to know I have it and the goal to finish.

This month I only finished the raptors but with the year one fourth finished since the 200 club started, it was thought a good idea to get a group shot. Since my project isn't a single army, but an entire setting for the skirmish game, I took some action shots in the prehistoric lands.

It's been dark & rainy, so photos are not the best but there could have been a lot of volcanic smoke in the air

Click for larger:
A Caveman tribe's defense against the encroachment of the Planta is interrupted by a hunting Raptor pack!
This has woken the formidable Gigantogorillini. The confusion distracts all from awareness of an even greater threat in the distance.

Lots more of this project in the year to come... more cavemen, neanderthals, great apes, great hominids, saurinids, and more.  

Voodoo Dice

Human beings are a superstitious lot. Some people get weirded out by the number 13 -it's one of my favorite numbers actually, or think black cats are bad luck-I have two (well, 'sable': black but they shine red in sunlight) and count myself lucky to be their human.  In Belarus it's considered bad luck to whistle when inside your home: that you're whistling your money away.  Inka always chastises me when I do that. I laugh, it sounds like a silly notion...but then again, I am pretty poor, so who knows.  There's a host of others I don't pay much attention to. I count myself a pretty 'rational minded' person while still being fairly open minded since I can't know everything, nor have experienced everything in the universe, and stands to reason that if one age's magic is another age's science, some things might turn out to be 'rational' that was once 'irrational'.
Probably not most, but some? You never know.

Gamers, being human, must therefore also have some superstitions.  Like painted miniatures fight better. True.  Named miniatures also fight better.. of course,why wouldn't they? But dice, being the gateway of chance, have the most rituals and beliefs associated with them.

Some people blow on their dice. Some people threaten their dice. Some people switch out poorly performing dice with fresh dice. Some have lucky dice they always use. Some won't use other people's dice or let others use their dice.  For me, I will switch dice if the ones I'm using seem to be failing. If I get to 're-roll' a die, I'll use a different die than the one I just rolled. There is nothing rational about such behaviors, at least by the reason for the laws of physics and probability as we know it.  But many do them anyway, listening to some instinct that interprets reality differently than pure rational thought does.

I bring this up, after a comment from battybattybats on my last update.  It made me think of, what many would clearly declare a superstition, of 'spelling' dice: using thought, visualization, willpower, jedi mind trick, whatever you'd want to call it, to get the die result you want.  Voodoo dice if you will. The idea is, if you need to roll a 6, you concentrate on 6, roll the dice and have a better than 1 in 6 of getting that result.  Maybe harder to swallow than the Xener cards since dice don't have a mind thinking of the number for your brain to 'pick up' on.  At any rate, it involves a bit more than declaring 'baby needs a new pair of shoes' but the idea is similar.  Obviously a superstition but could there be something to it?

A couple decades ago my friend and I, who played in the Turkey Bowl with me, would do this all the time when playing wargames and there really did seem to be more to it than random chance would think is reasonable.  But then again, as Rosencrantz said, since a coin tossed is just as likely to be heads as tails one shouldn't be surprised if it always comes up heads. Hmm.
Maybe not the best authority.  
We got so good at this we'd be trying to out-think-at the dice of each other to get what we wanted.  A fun competition within the competition.

So if that is real, why would I have runs of bad luck where the dice go against me, and if someone can do this, why don't they spend a month in Vegas and retire to an island?

Maybe there is nothing to it and it's all perception.  Then again, when I was in the last years of high school I got very good at controlling my dreams. I'd think of what I wanted to dream about and I would. I continued this until I did complete lucid dreaming. I could control my actions and what happened in the dream-world.  Like writing a story that you see, hear and feel. I did this for many years.  These days, no. In fact, my dreams tend to be bad and go against me now. Too much stress, depression and anxiety.  It's rare I enjoy dreams now- though they're as odd and surreal as they ever were.  So this leads back to dice. What if I am influencing the dice with my thoughts, but now, after experiencing so many horrible things in my life, having learned to expect problems and attacks, I anticipate the worst, so even in a relaxing game a thought like "this will work as long as I don't roll a 1 on the go for it and a 1 on the re-roll" and then I do just that.  Like the scared-shitless family trying desperately not to think bad thoughts or Billy Mumy will send them to the cornfield.

It could be superstitious nonsense unless the mind can influence the physical world outside the body, independent of physical contact. But that stretches "rational" pretty thin.

But then I thought of another possible interpretation. You're probably aware of the theory for parallel worlds from multiple dimensions.  It's the theory I favor for Time Travel, to avoid paradoxes: if you go back in time, it creates a new parallel world since it alters the course of time: your world continues on as it was, and you're now in a new one.  You probably also have heard how sub-atomic particles can move faster than light, 'teleport' and be in more than one place at a time.  If thoughts, memory and consciousness are electrical, and effectively made up of these particles, what if it is not the brain altering physical objects and events, but 'selecting' the parallel world where the outcome is the one it 'sees' from imagining the concept, and the consciousness then jumps to that existence. The you that you know as you has now moved across to the nearly identical world and things carry on as normal, for that world.  Such a small change isn't noticeable, only a die result of a 6 instead of 1.

If that could be, imagine what a person could experience and travel to as this ability flexes and becomes capable of greater jumps.

Unfortunately, it's probably just random chance.  But... hmm.

Have any of your own Dice Superstitions?

Enjoy the Movie!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Turkey Bowl 2012: Godzilla v. King Kong: The Beasts' Feast

2012, The Turkey Bowl inaugural Blood Bowl event: the Beasts' Feast. 

At one end of the pitch: the low-cunning, the primordial punishers, Godzilla's Gators!

At the other end of the pitch, nature's new-comers, the beasts with brains, King Kong's Killers!

One night only in an exposition match for the ages!  Who will emerge triumphant? 
Will the Gators prove why they've been the apex predators since the days of the dinosaurs, or will the fresh young Apes earn their title of King showing that the new epoch belongs to primates?  We'll soon find out as the match is about to begin!

This Thanksgiving, be thankful the beasts are on the pitch and hope they don't come into the stands for you!

- My friend Bill wanted a chance to play some Blood Bowl over Thanksgiving, and wanted to test out a theory, to see if I just have bad dice luck when playing Blood Bowl, or if it's something more serious. 

The experiment would involve both of us using reverse die rolls when rolling skill tests.  So when rolling a d6, for something like a dodge, or to catch the ball, a result of 6 would count as 1, a 5 is a 2, a 1 is a 6, etc.  But we'd treat 2d6 armor & injury rolls, ball bouncing, kick off results, etc as normal.  He wanted to find out if I'd continue to roll low numbers, indicating the dice just wanted to roll low numbers, or if I'd roll high numbers and fail the tests, possibly indicating some bad karma I need to burn off- maybe I was a horrible person in a past life, like Andrew Jackson. 

He wanted to play the Gators, and I thought Apes vrs Reptiles would make for a fun theme, so the Apes once again played under the Human roster.  

For team construction we used the upcoming North America Team Championship guidelines, for Day 1, where you get 1 double roll skill and 2 regular roll skills with 1.1 million team builds.

The Gators -Lizardmen- took a Kroxigor with Break Tackle, 6 Saurus -one with block, and 4 skinks -one with Sure hands and 4 Re-rolls. 

The Apes -Human team- took an Ogre with Block, 4 Blitzers -one with guard, 3 catchers -one with block, a thrower & 3 linemen and 3 Re-rolls, a Cheerleader & an Assistant Coach. 

I won the fans roll so had +1 Fame. I won the kick off and elected to receive. 

I set up to try to take the Kroxigor down with my blocking Silverback, Kong.  My plan for the half was to keep control of the ball and score late, trying to eliminate the vital ball-carrying skinks. 
Shouldn't be a surprise with such rivals and all the publicity, as soon as the ball was kicked a riot broke out! 
This ate up a turn of my precious time.  Kong knocked down Godzilla and broke through his armor! Could I be so lucky?  No.. just a stun.  That could have been a game-winner right there on my first turn.  A chimp catcher broke through the reptile line to distract, threatening an early score if the ball was thrown to him.

Seeing this, 3 skinks went to surround him!

To relieve the pressure, another agile chimp, and the monkey, Inka Martishka ran down to provide additional receiving targets. With so many skinks far from my blitzer gorillas, I gave up on my plan to stall and tried to pass to Inka Martishka on Turn 4, but I failed the throw and it scattered.  Too early to say on the dice-tests but one tally mark in the 'reversed dice bit me' column! 

The ball on the ground drew more players from both sides. With so many tackle zones on the ball it was looking like it might be impossible to pick up. 

While Gators and Apes pair up to duke it out, Godzilla dodges away to blitz, and does it on his own meager agility, break tackle not required! Unfortunately for him he got a both down: re-roll: both down, knocking himself down to the pitch!  But he did put a line chimp in the knock-out box.

After a turn of pushing, a chimp and monkey push two skinks out to the crowd!  The crowd knocks out one and injures the other! Turn 6 though.. time is running out to try to score! 

The heavier hitters ignore the ball completely and focus on settling old scores of their own!

Access to the ball had not improved by much by Turn 7. It looked like the Gators were going to succeed in denying the Apes a Touch Down. 
On Turn 7 the Gorilla hit the skink, which was pushed back onto the ball- knocking the ball into the endzone while the Gorilla stepped into the area the skink had been. Then Inka hit the skink for a 2 die block with the chimp's assist, knocking him away from the ball.  Dr. Z then dodged away from Godzilla, ran up, picked up the ball he'd thrown earlier and scored!  

1-0 for the Apes on Turn 7. 

Skinks do not find 2 turns a burden to score, with their move of 8, so I set up with a deep net: out of range of the Gator Saurus.  The knocked out skink came back and one of the 2 line chimps came back from the knock out box too. 
The apes attacked the skink with the ball, which bounced out, hot-potatoed out of an apes hand and was grabbed by a Gator! I set up a tackle-zone mine field, which the Gator tried to blitz out of, but knocked himself down, and the half ended. 

The Gators are down just 1 skink, with 10 players on the pitch. The Apes are down one line-chimp, but still have 11 on the pitch. We set up, I kick.. and another Riot! These fans just will not remain calm! 

Knowing I do not have the strength to go toe to toe, I set up with two line-chimps and a catcher on the line, with a strong net to catch & counter-attack. The Gators set up to drive strong on one side with Godzilla.

The Sure-hands Skink went to pick up the ball: Fail: Re-roll: Fail! just a 1/9 chance of that: the reversed dice not helping out the Gators this time! I seized the chance and drove for the ball with a Gorilla and Inka Martishka, With King Kong trying to tie up 2 Gators.

Turn 3 the Gators knocked out another Line-Chimp: those chimps were really taking the brunt of the reptile attack. Casualties were very low this game though.  The Gators got the ball and brought it to the center, but I then knocked the ball free.  A skink called a blitz to get to the ball hoping to go further but failed a dodge to get in.  
Trying to take advantage of the situation, an Ape made a 1die block on a Gator and got a skull! Re-roll? Skull! So we both had our share of this type of luck. 

The Gators recover the ball and move it to safety.  Looks promising for a tie!
But King Kong back-swiped the small reptile!  The ball went free!  Inka ran for the sidelines, while a chimp recovered the ball.  A Gorilla stunned a mid-field skink, and there was none who could reach Inka.  The following turn the chimp threw the ball: dodge, dodge, throw: accurate long pass: Inka Martishka catches it and runs in for a touch down!

The game ends 2-0 for the Apes! 

Post-game there was a riot that lasted into the night, fur and scales flying.  

Coach of the Apes, Grey Mattur said "This just goes to show that no matter how long some scaly reptile has been dominant, times change!  They may be stronger, but you can't underestimate the value of an opposable thumb!" 
Coach of the Gators said "This means nothing! We've been around since these chumps were tree shrews, and we'll be here long after they're gone, ruling it all." 

I had a great extended weekend vacation for Thanksgiving: I really needed a vacation!  This was just one highlight of a great weekend.  

Results of our reverse die rolling experiment?  I kept track of every failure by reverse and success by reverse. I had 6 rolls where the reverse caused a success and 7 rolls where the reverse induced a failure.

Conclusion: More date needed.  But early results suggest it's just blind luck, perhaps some games just going south because they want to, but maybe this shows I was not a terrible person now karmic cursed with bad Blood Bowl dice.  Phew. 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rapacious Raptors : Prehistoric Pulp's Pernicious Predators

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, where tradition in America holds that one gorges on Turkey until a semi-catatonic state is induced, thus storing up the needed energy for the following day to join the herd and trample the less-fit to death under their hooves as they stampede into stores to save money on merchandise to increase their success and chances of survival.  The irony is that a country with such a high percentage of people who do not believe in evolution manage to illustrate the concept so perfectly.

Another such indication of Darwinism at work, is that the turkey so focused on is a descendant of dinosaurs.
Yes, that fat, dim-witted, feast-on-feet, is what is left of Tyrannosaurus Rex, Velociraptor and Pterodactyl.
How the mighty have fallen.  And tasty too. The Rex is dead, long live the King: pass me some mashed potatoes too while you're at it.

But things were not always this way.  Oh no.  And in the neverwas of Prehistory, Mankind was more likely to be dinner than get a turkey-ancestor to his own table!

In addition to making 'player-tribes' for the Prehistoric Pulp setting, I've always planned to make non-player dangers.  This is one of the more deadly: Raptor Pack.

click for larger:

Raptors are smart, fast & strong: triple threat. The apex pack hunters, and a real threat to the sentient tribes.

Since we in our time can't know what they looked like, for coloring I chose to make them tiger-like.
Tigers evolved their coloring to help conceal them while hunting, so Raptors could have had a similar look.
Plus it was fun to paint :)

Gar here has little time to think on their coloring, if he wants to avoid becoming dinner. 

So this Thanksgiving, take a moment to thank the turkey, for evolving into such a successful meal, leaving us free from becoming his meal. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Have Spaceship- Will Travel.

Scott asked for a picture of the Vojik, armed scout ship from the last update, with one of the PCP crew.
I should have done it the first time, but I was too lazy to go get the bag with the crew, and was taking pictures fast.  So this fixes that.

Captain Vok and The Vojik

Makes for a nice one-man flyer in 28mm scale and a good sized ship for War Rocket scale. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Alien Invasion Called on Account of Rain & Fastest Speed Painting

Well hell.
Three Fridays in a row I've missed gaming.  Two from working overtime but this last Friday I was determined to get to gaming.  Time is closing for Empire of the Dead and I wanted to get some more games in, especially since I'd painted up a mini for the Pangalactic Confederation of Planets.

So I packed everything and headed out. Checked google traffic as I always do, to see which of the two possible ways I take was the clearest, and it looked pretty good.  But it was raining.  And maybe people were leaving town early for Thanksgiving week?  I don't know.  But google traffic lied.  In a big way.  Instead of a clear freeway I had a parking lot.  The rain coming down and it took 10 minutes to travel the one mile distance up the freeway to the next exit. Seeing nothing but the same as far up as I could see, and knowing it takes 30-40 minutes to get there on an average day I called it quits, got off at that exit and went home.  Looks like it's the end for this season of Empire of the Dead.  Holidays next, then gearing up for VSF campaign on the Moon.

I know, crazy to complain about the weather: spoiled Californian.  I know many have much worse weather to deal with.  I tease my girlfriend that she lives in the Ice Age half the year as it's already snowing and below zero.  But driving 5 miles an hour in the rain for a couple hours.. no. That is why the PCP have spaceships.

Here is the mini I painted for the PCP.  It was very much a speed painting job.  I had converted this months ago for the faction, but deciding I wanted a chance to field it at least once, I primed & painted it the afternoon before I left.  After priming, it took less than 20 minutes to paint.

The Vojik: armed scout vessel. 

I went for a metal finish, for a retro sci-fi look. 

I forget the manufacturer of this mini. I saw it on sale and thought it was just right for the PCP crew. 
It had big bulk boxy weapons, so I ditched those and converted some eldar bright lances for its weapons. 

In Empire of the Dead, one of the pieces of gear a character can get is a steam powered gyrocopter.  
It allows the person to fly, and still perform an action even though he moves.  I thought this would be a perfect sci-fi version of this.  Give the character a repeating rifle (2 shots) and have this fly around and shoot twice- like it's weapons would suggest.  A model with flight can perch on top of terrain- like trees and roofs, so would be ideal for keeping a rifleman out of charge threat of werewolves and vampires.  

I kept the base black, since I can now also use it for War Rocket! 

Someday it will get some use on the tabletop.  

Depending on the rain...


Friday, November 16, 2012

Centering in on the Centerpiece: Genestealer Cult Hullburster

All good things must come to an end.  I had fun working on the Genestealer Cult army, and this is the last piece I did for it.  I've mentioned before, my visual theory for an army is that every army or team needs a centerpiece.  It's why for Blood Bowl teams that can have a Big Guy, I make a Big Guy for the team, even if I might not want to use it- then I tend to go ahead and use it, because it looks better to have a centerpiece.

If you consider an army as an artistic composition, then just as a sculpture or painting needs to take into account where the eye will travel, and so take steps to contain the eye's wanderings, not to leave the piece and to go where you want it to go, so too an army needs this. Of course, an army is going to be set up differently, have pieces removed, etc, which is why it's even more important to have a centerpiece: one item that is bigger, bolder, more eye-candy than the rest.  It should still compliment and support the army, but it's job is to draw attention, allow enough rein to wander across the army, but pull the viewer back to it when done.  I am hoping I got that with this piece.

click for larger:

The aircraft is much the same as the other ones, though it does not have an incorporated zoanthrope piloting it. Perhaps cultists are flying it, as they probably are driving a lot of the tanks.  The zoanthrope seed never took in this one.  Why? Likely, it was eaten by something else.  Something bigger, that needed fuel to grow.
The giant Tyranid monster has reached the point where it is growing at a hyper-accelerated rate.  And it isn't content to stay within the confines of this artificial environment: it wants out.  It's tail has burst out the back and the bulk of him has burst out the top, continuing to grow rapidly as it does so.  This species has the ability to puff up it's torso, to appear larger and more threatening.

This is a combo of three kits: Valkyrie, Vendetta upgrade and the Mawloc.

Here it is before painting.

The Mawloc model is designed to rest on his tail, 'standing' on it like a cobra.  Honestly I was never a fan of the 'snake' type Tyranids, and wasn't thrilled when I saw the Mawloc kit when it was released: I'd have preferred one of the large legged Tyranids.  I also think the Mawloc kit looks very static, standing on it's tail:not very dynamic. But with this conversion, I like it. Reason being, it doesn't have to stand on it's tail!
I filled in and sculpted a bottom to the tail, so that it wouldn't look like a bisected straw, which let me wrap the tail out & around the back of the plane. This gives the creature a twisted S shape, making him a lot more dynamic.

I had to go with a red carapace for the aircraft creatures, so they wouldn't blend in with the hull of the aircraft: the vehicles were already chosen for the purple, so that was the only way to go.

So, will the aircraft survive birthing this giant monster? Or will it fall from the sky?  Either way, things are not looking good for the opposition.

This concludes the Genestealer Cult.  At least for now, it's possible the owner may come back for additions to the army.

Weather and traffic kept me from getting to gaming tonight, so that's three weeks in a row I've been unable to get there, which explains the lack of battle reports.  And next week is Thanksgiving- though looks like I'll get some Blood Bowl in for that!

Enjoy the weekend everyone,

and enjoy the clip, but maybe not over breakfast:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Flight of the Alien Infested Valkyries

... well, Vendettas actually, but 'Flight of the Vendettas' doesn't have the same ring to it.

Here are two of the three aircraft for the Genestealer Cult.
They are 'Vendettas' which are upgraded Valkyries: they have lots of lascannons.
It's a Forgeworld upgrade kit. I had no issues or problems with it- well, the side lascannon doesn't fit right into the armor cup, but it's easy enough to trim it to fit.
Hard not to want a laser cannon.

I did these on the same theory as the Sentinels: the infesting Alien DNA has grown into the host vehicle and is incorporated into it, making it an extension of itself.  I used Zoanthropes for this, since I liked their heads: the long narrow head matched the long narrow cockpit of the aircraft perfectly.

click for larger:
Plenty of infestation growing over the craft.  I used the back-vent breathers from the Zoanthrope and placed them at the joint of the wings.  I imagine this creature has it's internal parts stretching through the vehicle.
Kind of inspired from the new Battlestar Galactica, how Cylon raiders are organic creatures with an inorganic outer shell.  Flying hermit crabs with lasers.  Good fun.
Top view. 

Second of this style:
Same basic style, but with details different enough to tell them apart.  
The client didn't want any battle damage or weathering, and it was fun to paint these 'clean' using these colors

Because of shipping I didn't attach the clear flight stand to the base, but I wanted the bases to match the style of the army. Not completely covered in infestation however: I figure the infantry -some of which stand on only alien organism and some on rock with organic details, I'd go for rocks & ashen ground, with similar alien infestation, for the big bases.  

If you ever see such things on the ground and rocks, maybe while camping or hiking, don't investigate, just run! 

Only one more update for this army: next will be the centerpiece! 

Classic.. enjoy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Genestealer Cult Motorpool: Every Evil Army Should Offer Company Cars

The Genstealer Cult Army is finished, packed up and ready to be shipped to the other side of the world.
The vehicle options are pretty extensive: 2 walkers, 13 tracked vehicles and 3 aircraft.

The latest additions to the tracked vehicles:

click for larger:
Hydra Flak Tanks.

As you can probably tell, these are anti-aircraft tanks.  Now that 40k has lots of flyers, people need something to shoot them down with. The Hydra is a forgeworld upgrade kit.  I had a terrible time with it. 
They were very badly curved when I got them. Forgeworld does some beautiful sculpting, but their quality control isn't always the best.  Still..better than Finecast <<quickly ducks the Finecast rage>>

The weapon deck is not glued in place, so it and the AAguns can swivel around. 

Lots of infestation. The colors of the army are very dark, so it was nice to have the infesting alien growth to break it up, without having to create an illogical excuse to bring in a bright color. 

Manticore Missile Batteries

What a nice kit from GW. The missile platform is not glued in place, so it can be raised and lowered. 
I saw a bunch of the real-world version of these vehicles in Minsk during the end of WWII celebration parade (the anniversary of the end of WWII, not the actual end of WWII, I'm not that old ;) 
Pretty formidable looking vehicles.  Seeing a thick twelve foot long missile really makes you glad they aren't being launched! 

Command Psyker Chimeras

These are the transport vehicles for the Psyker command infantry.  They've got more gadgets than the other chimeras: search lights, comm array and an upgraded front sensor panel. I also gave them more tentacles.

Unfortunately I didn't have time to take a big single army picture before I had to pack it for shipping. 
It wouldn't have worked too well anyway, since the flyers won't have their bases assembled- the client can glue them together himself, to reduce risk of breaking in transit. 

There's no limo. I know that will disappoint a lot of the Rogue Trader to 2nd edition fans. But I think a limo might be better suited to skirmish level games anyway.  All these purple and red vehicles reminded me of one of my favorite cartoons when I was a kid...

I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Dastardly & Muttley were Pro-Genestealer Cult!  

More to come: the flyers!


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