Thursday, December 13, 2012

Col. Inri Podder, Head Surgeon, Royal Quar M*A*S*H on Luna

So many Quar characters!

Here is another one: Head Surgeon of the Mobile Field Hospital, Colonel Inri Podder.

Podder was 63rd in his class at the Royal Phobosian Academy of Medical Sciences. Though his critics are quick to point out that this means only 17 graduated lower than he did, he counters that of those who are still alive from his graduating year he is within the top 17 now! The life of an army doctor is not without it's dangers.

Podder has made a name for himself not just as a surgeon but as a peerless administrator, a skill requiring one to inflict as much pain administratively as he seeks to lessen medically.

Military forces on Earth's moon must travel for months at a time, far from civilized outposts in pursuit of mineral resources and so must bring their medical treatment centers with them.  Luna is far from a barren world as many suppose, and offers a host of dangers as well as enemy armies and all the standard dangers of combat.

A very minor conversion: this is the Crusader Quar, Caerten Baeden Croix. 
I've removed his rifle, and given him a head from a partisan: a floppy fishing hat. Complete with his cigar he's inspired by two different rather famous fictional Army head surgeons. 

The MASH unit will be this Quar, with some tents and cots. 

I'll be looking forward to painting him but it will be a bit of a wait. 

I haven't had time to paint him yet, been working a lot and getting ready for a trip to see family- having an early Christmas: flying out to Portland tomorrow, so I'll try to get to viewing blogs a bit but probably no updates here until next week. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Royal Phobosian Quar Mechanic on Lunar Expedition

The campaign for Earth's Moon is underway, with the Earth nations of Britain, Prussia, Belgium, Northern United States, Kingdom of Danemark and the Quar nation of the Grand Dutchy of Phobos sending major expeditions to the planetoid.  Other Earth nations are also making themselves known in various ways.

For background of the campaign and the news reports check out Armored Ink where Alfrik reveals what he's willing to about the behind the scenes.

This campaign has some new additions from the Venus campaign, including a more expanded yet muddled diplomacy... which is both realistic and gets one thinking about the campaign more often than when just sending orders.  I have to say, Earth is showing how primitive and xenophobic their race is, as it seems there is more aggression being leveled at the Quar than the human nations.  It is almost as if these humans think they have more rights to Luna simply because it orbits their planet of birth!  As the Quar of Phobos can tell you, the Barsoomians thought that about their moons and found out how wrong they could be!

This campaign also sees a lot of new character types to add to military forces.
I've built, -some converted- 10 new Quar minis for such characters.
One of them is this one, an inventive mechanic, called a 'Spark' in the setting.

I have to assume a Quar Spark is known as a Quark.

The mini is one of the Quar tankers which, in obligatory VSF fashion, I converted by sculpting some goggles for him.  For painting I went with simple & messy, since he's likely going to be dirty from his work. 

The base still needs some grass on it- I'm going the bases to match the rest of the army -not going to redo all the bases for the moon just because of the campaign!  But I may wait to add the grass until the campaign is over. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What Do You Hear? The Hooves of 8 Tiny Reindeer?

Then again, maybe it isn't reindeer.  No, I think that's the sound of 8 tiny beastmen!

Willy Miniatures launched a crowd funding project on Indiegogo just before Thanksgiving. 
He's now got the renders for all of the beastmen completed.  

If you're familiar with this blog you've probably realized I'm a big fan of Blood Bowl. I've been playing for at least 20 years, and between teams for myself and clients around the world I produce a lot of finished teams every year.  Check out the Hall of Fame to see some of them if you haven't before. So from this familiarity I can say Willy makes some of the best Blood Bowl minis out there- really great sculpts.  You can trust the minis will be every bit as cool as these renders.  

I've been thinking of making a Chaos team for awhile now, most likely converted, because I love the goaty faces of the GW gors from Warhammer Fantasy Battle.  The Willybeastmen are similar but the faces are a bit more humanoid. I gave it a good think-over for a couple days before deciding that yes, these are goaty enough and the variety of poses and how saturated the sculpts are with character won me over. 

The price for a full team -Level 9- which contains 8 Beastmen, 4 Chaos Warriors and a Minotaur, plus a ball, badge & free shipping, is $105: about on par with a team purchased from the major fantasy football providers.  Granted it's 13 players not 16, but with a team like Chaos you're unlikely to want more than 13 players anyway: maybe add a star player for possible inducements.  

As of this date there are no renders of the Minotaur or Chaos warriors yet, but the warriors are aimed to be 'bulky yet agile' -so that's sounding good. 

For those on a budget, some of the lower rewards are pretty tempting:

* Just $18 for a Minotaur, shipping included! -excellent price for a big guy.

* A team of 8 Beastmen & 4 Chaos Warriors -without Minotaur- is $80 : but limited to 30 spots before needing to pay $90.  

 --for those not inclined to math, if you combine the two above you get that same thing as the Level 9 full team, except you get an extra ball & badge, all for $98! Saving $7 from the Level 9 pledge.  But only 23 of the special $80 price set remains at the time I'm writing this, so act fast if you'd like to save even more money.

All the warriors will also be unique minis, so it should make for a very nice team. 

The campaign is a 'fixed funding' project, so you won't be charged until it funds (or ends?) so no worries about draining the holiday war chest.  

I am thinking I'll have to pick up some extra Beastmen.  On the cyanide game I had fun with a really dumb team idea (the kind I always seem to think is fun: heavy theme & underpowered) with a Minotaur and the rest Beastmen -no Chaos Warriors- so a whole team of horns & hooves. Team name was 'The Psychedelic Furs' a Slannesh devoted team no doubt, all named for 80's New wave bands.  I just might have to make them in minis! 

Go check out the Indiegogo campaign and see more!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Reason for the Season: Holidays Begin!

I keep hearing the mildly condescending phrase "The Reason for the Season" and yet, I couldn't agree more! The Winter-holiday season begins this evening so keep that all-important man who risked so much for the well being of others in mind this holiday.

Keep the Han in Hanukkah. 

Remember the miracle of completing the Kessel Run in just 12 Parsecs: 6 less than the standard route, by lighting a candle for each day it took: averaging 1.33 Parsecs per day: truly miraculous. Without this early achievement in the career of the savior of the rebellion, the Rebel base would never have been rededicated after the destruction of Echo Base on Hoth.  The holidays are more than presents of credits and paying off bounties on your head, so remember the reason for the season.  

Happy Hanukkah! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Space Battles in a Flash! A Few Test Games of War Rocket

On Friday we had some open gaming, as the Empire of the Dead season has wound down and the new Victorian Science Fiction campaign, this time on the Moon, is still in it's preparing forces & locations phase.

So I brought some War Rocket fleets and tried it out with a friend. He'd never played it, and it'd been a long time since I'd tried out the rules, so we played a few games with small fleets.

I gave him his choice of fleets, and he chose the Zenithians, with their stunningly agile saucers.
I countered with the Imperials: far less maneuverable, but much more sturdy.
Mostly I chose them because they're my favorite I've painted just based on the looks.

Click for larger:

To play a game of War Rocket you'll need a few counters or tokens.  What I found works well is to have a "been hit" token, for this I used little acrylic fire pieces from Litko. I have a few sizes, so a medium could stand for 3 hits, large 5, etc. This is because you delegate all your hits before testing to see the effect.

One effect from being hit is a stun.  So I also brought many red & yellow glass beads to record stun.
The first turn a rocket is stunned it has a red token, then at the start of the next turn it shifts to yellow, it is still stunned, but it will clear the next turn.  A rocket that is stunned twice is destroyed, in which case you just remove the rocket. The red & yellow system makes sure you remember when to clear off a stun.

In Game 1 we tested out the rules with four Class I rockets each. The Z's smashed the Imperials soundly.
I then realized we'd used the first line of the hit results chart for both fleets.  I'd mistakenly looked at the four tiers as Classes of ships..but not so! Even a Class I Imperial ship has a sturdiness of 2, so is harder to damage.  But we'd hammered out the activation system and hit allocation and were ready to have at again.

Game 2

We upped the fleets to four rockets each: two Class I rockets and two Class II rockets.

The crafty Z's set up to engulf the steadfast Imperials.
Movement is done from slowest to fastest: it gives the faster rockets the edge in placing their rockets.
My Class II's knew they'd never be allowed to fire so they rocketed past the Z's, leaving the Class I's to cover them and shoot in retribution, hoping the sturdiness of the Imperial design would see them safe.
Both of the Imperial Class II took heavy fire: 4 hits to one, 2 to the other.  The Imperial Class I's fired twice at the nearest Class II Saucer.
Both sides lost a Class II in this fight. The Imperial did it's best to swing around, drawing them back to his escorts, which held their action- a ship may declare a 'delayed action' doing nothing that turn so that it can make a complete preemptive turn before the enemy ships in the following turn. This worked well as they weathered the Saucer fire and destroyed the other Class II saucer. A victory for the Imperials.

Game 3

We tried the next higher class of Rocket: the Class III

We kept the fleets small for speed of play. A Class III & two Class II.  This time I played Galacteer, though I continued to use the Imperial ships just because I like how they look and enjoyed having the chance to play them.

The Galacteer rockets are not as sturdy as the Imperials, but they are twice as agile: they can make a turn every 2" of straight movement, compared to 4" for Imperial.

Things went well for the Z's at first: first time in range they destroyed a Class II, and then the other!
But using delayed actions and some lucky (for me) damage result rolls saw the Galacteer Class III destroy the Z III and a II and the remaining saucer fled the zone.


What a fun game!  This is a very fast & light space combat game.
If Spaceship games where you need datafax cards and penciling in boxed damage, then erasing them as systems repair, keeping track of ammunition and number of crew wear you down then this is likely a good game for you.  With stun carry-over it has enough 'lasting effects' to feel realistic without requiring a lot of record keeping. It would also be very easy to run large fleets with this system.

For play style I have to think I'd enjoy the Zenithian the most.  They are very fast and can change direction at any point without needing to spend movement to turn, so the only time you need to turn is to bring weapons to bare. This means they can zoom past a foe, then spend movement to turn 2 or 3 times to get in firing arc and hit the enemy without fear of retaliation.  This advantage is going to be lessened in larger fleet games, with their enemy keeping ships in reserve to cover such possibilities, but it still means they will receive less shots than they dish out, but then- they are much more fragile, a Class III saucer has a durability of 2, same as a Class I Imperial (!), so it balances back again.   The delayed action option is a fun one, and can be quite the tactical fencing to make it work.

One thought occurred to me, this rule set would make a great option for playing Battlestar Galactica fighter combat. With Cylons using the Zenithian Class I profile and Colonial Vypers using the Galacteer Class I. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Nasty Hobbitsess

The companions to the dwarves in the last update, a host of hobbits!

These are all old oop classic citadel halflings.

A real joy to paint. One of the things I like about painting commissions is that I get to paint things I otherwise wouldn't, like a bunch of hard to find miniatures! It really had me thinking, and not for the first time, what is wrong with GW? I swear that their decisions can only adequately be explained by a desire to socially condition gamers:

GW exec "They want what? Squats? Zoats? Fimir? New Blood Bowl sculpts? Man O'War? Hell, I haven't seen a fimir around here in ages, we stopped making them and all the rest of that stuff. Why? To make more shelf room for Space Marines that's why! Yeah yeah, I understand shelf room doesn't matter much in the age of internet orders, but it's Space Marines, they'll love em! What? Well maybe they'll stop loving that other stuff once they forget about them- just keep showing the new, limited range we're plugging: that'll do the trick.  Yeah yeah, I know the other stuff would sell, but not as well as the big dogs we push, if we continue to remove that other stuff they'll have no choice but to buy what we want them to buy!"

Really, it's all I can think of: Space Marines & certain items, like 40k in general have a greater profit margin, so there must be a belief that eliminating the *less* profitable choices will increase sales in the *more* profitable.  Nonsense.  Just because something sold is less profitable, doesn't mean it isn't worth selling- if it does sell, then they made money, and expanded the customer base & customer happiness, which will create more & more loyal customers as time goes on.  It seems completely illogical to think that if people can't buy a new GW Blood Bowl team, or new (or old classic they chose to stop making) Epic armies that instead these folks will just play 40k instead.  Some might, but I'm guessing most won't: they'll head to Impact minis, Greebo, Willy, Gaspez-Arts, Neomics, convert their own, or more for Blood Bowl, or maybe pick up Dropzone Commander for their small-scale fix.

What if all businesses did this?  Should Coca-Cola stop producing Dr.Pepper simply because it doesn't sell as much as Coke? An absurd idea. Without the choice of Dr.Pepper some may choose Coke, but many might chose a replacement that isn't something they produce.

I'm just a small unimportant little business, much like a hobbit, so far from me to know everything that goes on in the concerns of the 'Big People' but my common hobbit sense says people will be happier with your stew if it has potatoes, onion, celery, and tomatoes in it, rather than just load it with nothing but potatoes just because it's the favorite and it's easier to plant nothing but potatoes.

A lot of the new stuff GW has come out with recently is great, but people still want these classic sculpts, as well as other things, and I can't help thinking GW is crazy for not continuing to make them available and maintain and expand the older games many still love.

And this is sometimes where my mind wanders as I paint some great classic sculpts that are out of production and can't for the life of me think why they should be.

Mental meanderings /off.

... Hobbits!
Click for larger:

The fancy guard was missing his weapon, so I supplied him with a spear.  
So much character in these sculpts, hard for me to pick a favorite, but I'm leaning toward the one at the upper right corner.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dwarves! Dwarves everywhere!

There does seem to be a lot of dwarves around lately...

GW's released the new set for The Hobbit, which isn't tempting me much. The dwarves are really accurately sculpted it seems, compared to the characters in the movies, but the goblins I just don't care for.  They're more like post apocalyptic mutants to my eye than goblins- not that I won't enjoy the movie (!) but for minis..
I am just not drawn to the radioactive defective mutant look.  There's also the Stonehaven Dwarves, from the kickstarter, which are making their way to mailboxes now- mine came today! But I've had such a busy day I didn't take the time to even open it yet- crazy- but I will tomorrow.

But the dwarves I'm writing about are a set of 6 I just finished on commission.  They're from Fenryll and I really enjoyed painting them.  Done in 'Squad Class', my starting standard I offer, but I might have spent a bit more time than called for in some aspects just because I really did enjoy painting them.

Unlike the Warhammer style dwarves, these have more human-realistic proportions, with anatomy such as necks, and upper legs.  Very odd, I know.

Click for larger: 

I imagine the one with the torch being the leader, so I gave him 'old guy' hair.
The big red haired fellow looks like the berserker of the lot, but they all look pretty dangerous.
The one with the lantern: not common for a dwarf to shave his beard and sport the big biker mustache.
I am convinced that that one must be the dwarf version of the bass player from Spinal Tap, so I gave him dark brown hair.

I've always liked dwarves.  It seems they inspire either great affection or rejection by people: love or hate.
When I was a kid, and read the Lord of the Rings the first time, I liked the elves the best.  I still like elves, but dwarves really grew on me over the years and they're now my favorite.  The muted colors, stoic nature, great pathos of the underdog... they're just cool. This commission got me excited to paint some of the Stonehaven Dwarves, just don't know when I'll squeeze in the time.. beyond work painting I have the next VSF campaign, this time on Earth's Moon, gearing up, and I need to add some more Quar to my forces.
So stay tuned for a lot of that in the months to come, and wish me luck, because my map placement is about the worst you could find yourself in!

In honor of the lantern dwarf: enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Movies to Game By: The Mist

Time for another movie review from the gamer perspective.

Thanksgiving behind us, Christmas fast approaching, weather getting chilly, holiday spirit... what better time for a suspenseful, creepy horror movie?

This weekend I set aside some time to watch The Mist. It came out in 2007, and I'm not sure how I missed (get it? ba-dump) this one.
Maybe I thought it was a remake of The Fog, and purposefully avoided it, I can't say for sure.

I wasn't expecting much to be honest, just some cheap chills and startles on a dark and stormy night.
But I was quite happy to be dished up a lot more than that.

As always, I'll try to keep spoilers to a minimum: no more than what you might see in a trailer.

To start, this is a horror movie.  If you don't like to jump, if monsters scare you for weeks, if you don't like creepy, then this won't be for you.  A shame though, since there is a good chunk of philosophy, musing on human nature, religion, and theoretical science, which again, I wasn't expecting but was very happy to find.

As the title suggests, the main event is the encroaching of Mist on a small town, in the Pacific North-West.
As many people head to the grocery store to stock up on supplies after a storm, they find themselves trapped by a mist... and the thing or things that the mist might be hiding.

The tension is very well crafted by the film, and the pace of revealing more about their situation is well timed.
In addition to the slow unveiling of the danger they are in, the sub-plot of the ever-growing threat they pose to themselves from their fear and superstitions is just as interesting and entertaining.

Probably my favorite character was Ollie, a bagger, played by Toby Jones.  He has some memorable lines that I could relate to, which I'll put at the end, under spoilers.

I'd place this movie in the horror sub-genre of 'Apocalyptic Survival'.
Zombies are a popular and constant theme these days, but the world-changing nature this movie presents would make a Zombie Apocalypse look like a stroll in the park.  Speaking of Zombie Apocalypse, three characters in this movie are played by actors/actresses who are in Walking Dead.  Not surprising since Frank Darabont directed and wrote the screenplay.  He is also the creator of the TV series, The Walking Dead.  That should give you an idea, if you follow Walking Dead, for the kind of outer/inner threat balance of the drama and action.

The ending is one of the most bleak yet beautiful I have seen in any movie.
It will stick with you for a long time.
This is helped by the ideal music selected for the final scene: The Host of the Seraphim, by Dead Can Dance.

For the Gamers:

This movie has a wealth of ideas for gaming.

RPG is obvious: ideal for setting tension, as it's an easy thing to keep players in the dark (or mist) about what they see and can know.

For tabletop miniatures, this would make for great scenarios for skirmish gaming.  Any genre from fantasy, historical, on to post-apoc and sci-fi could make use of this idea.  Consider the entire table as covered in mist. Drop terrain out only when miniatures get close enough to see it in the mist. This could be done by a GM or use a randomizer table, or have one player play the monsters and use a predetermined map that the human player doesn't know.  For several players of the humans, they could be in different factions, with a core of minis in their control and the bulk as neutrals which the factions try to win over.  I could imagine each neutral having a "mental state" stat between 1-10, starting at 6 where 1 is calm and reasoned and 10 is given up to hysteria.  Every time a scary event occurs, the mini is attacked, wounded, sees another attacked, wounded or killed it must make a test: roll a d10: if it rolls over it's current stat it goes up one, if rolls under is goes down 1. The worse the scary event, the more the die roll is modified.  The religious zealot player gains more sway over minis that give in to hysteria, while the sane & reasoned player can sway those drifting the other direction.  A leader can spend a turn trying to sway neutral minis: rolling for a test to try to swing their mental state one direction or the other.


-Not a lot, but if you don't like any hints, drop down to the RATING section below.

OK, should be safe to continue.

There are a lot of great creatures in this movie!  I had guessed the source of them before the movie revealed it, but, my mind already jumps to such ideas anyway.  A quick glimpse at an entire ecosystem is given, leaving me wanting to see & know more.

The religious zealot character, expertly played by Marcia Gay Harden, gave a theory that it was the 'end of days'.  While I love horror movies rooted in Christian Apocalypse Myth, I could tell that this wasn't one of them, and that she instead represented a more realistic interpretation of such concepts: she and her ideas are dangerous!

The character Ollie has some great lines, such as "Our species is fundamentally insane."  and when asked, "Don't you have faith in humanity?" his reply is "None whatsoever."


Spoilers off.

To keep in theme with gaming, my rating system is based on the old AD&D armor class system.
Armor Class 0-10. AC0 is some amazing full plate and shield : great armor, difficult time finding a hit with that: you're not going to like the movie. AC10 is no resistance: that common cloth won't prevent a hit.

I give this movie an Armor Class of 9.
It's holding a feeble wooden shield: easy to get past it's resistance and find a good hit.

If you can not be in the same room as a horror movie, I'd drop this to Armor Class 6
If you believe in an imminent Biblical 'end of days' handed out by a wrathful god, and that those who preach it are the best humanity has to offer, I'd drop this to Armor Class 5.
If both apply to you, I'd drop this to Armor Class 1: You will hate this movie.

Reasons: While not the biggest budget, the effects are more than enough to sell the visuals and create the atmosphere that's needed.  The writing and layered plot is deftly done.
This is not the pre-packaged cafeteria serving of horror movie that is the majority of what is offered out there.
The ending alone is worth a couple notches up.

Clips to enjoy! Both have the amazing music of Dead Can Dance: The Host of the Seraphim. 

Warning: This has scenes from the ending, so do not watch if you want to avoid visual spoilers! 

No Spoilers in the one below, just the song in its entirety. Enjoy 

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