Thursday, September 29, 2011

Peter Cushing - Hero, Villain, & Wargamer

Ever since 1977, Grand Moff Tarkin has been on my short list of favorite Star Wars characters.  Through the years the more I learned about the actor behind the role, the more the late Peter Cushing became entrenched among my favorite movie celebrities.

The last couple of years during the Fall, I've prepped for Halloween by searching out more and more old Hammer Horror, etc. films on YouTube for some fun late night viewing.  Especially those featuring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.  What I found tonight however, was truly an unexpected gem!

Pretty interesting to find we shared a hobby with such a man, but I also found the "narration" (and music soundtrack) quite enjoyable too.  ;-)  He even went so far to categorize us wargamers as "Distinguished people."  The video definitely put a big smile on my face and hopefully you enjoyed viewing it as well.

You can read the ebook version of H.G. Wells' Little Wars and/or download for free at the Project Gutenberg site here.  Every wargamer worth their salt definitely should.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Night of the Zombie

Grrr!  Argh!

In keeping with the Spooky Times theme, I thought I would share this simple but fun "Night of the Zombie" game from a few years back.  This was one of the first organized events after Tower Games in Minneapolis opened, and there was quite a crowd as you can see.

The organizers asked each person to paint up a Warhammer hero and 10 zombies to bring for the fun.  I have about 100 zombies myself, so I ended up supplying some my friends that are not as enthused in the hobby department.  The game itself used a "quick" version of the Mordheim rules, and you had so many points to kit out your hero on stat sheets like the ones in the pic below.

The scenario was basically the last man standing with a big prize (Gift certificate) awarded to the last survivor. The zombies were constantly regenerating at the edge of the woods as we killed them and even some ghouls started popping out of the doors and wells of the ruined tower to take care of those few "heroes" that were hiding behind everyone else.  About halfway through the game two of us decided to try to make a break for it, but that plan didn't go too well.  :-)

A fun night of mindless dice rolling got even better for me, when I was awarded with the "surprise" prize for the best painted hero.  A few grumblers complained that they would put more effort into their hero had they known, but I think they missed the point.  Probably the same folks that didn't bring their own zombies either.

My Witch Hunter hero and 10 of my zombies.

The game was originally supposed to be played over a model/terrain (see below) from some horror movie, but the guy canceled at the last minute.  If you happen to recognize the house from some obscure movie, please let me know in the comments below.

The next year they did a 40k version using the Necromunda rules, but I wasn't able to attend.  There has been some talk of doing another zombie game this year either with pirates or 40k again.  We'll see.

Monday, September 26, 2011

English Civil War - SORTED!!

"I don't respect your authoritah!"

With my historical gaming interests firmly planted in the Horse & Musket era with Seven Years War and Napoleonics; the English Civil War has never really been on my radar.  The closest I've gotten was a 15mm Thirty Years War Swedish army for DBM.

"Stop having fun!"

I'm looking to return to historicals in force next year, but this time in 28mm.  The problem is the lack of local interest and/or players, so if I start a SYW project for example, I'll have to plan on painting two armies.  There's actually one local talented painter I know working on Warlord Games' lovely Pike & Shotte miniature line.   He's tempted me more than once to join in, and I'm still thinking it over.  Main problem is I didn't have any idea what army I would do or much about the period really.

 "War is more fun with poodles!"

My search for knowledge lead me to YouTube hoping for some History Channel documentary, but ran across the BBC Horrible Histories TV series instead leading to some fun posts on this blog.  Well, after watching the West Side Story inspired ECW song below, I think things are properly sorted for me now.   If I end up collecting an ECW army it's definitely Cavaliers, Prince Rupert, big silly hats, and fun party guys for me!

Long set up for a silly video I know... Enjoy! :-)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Vampire Counts - Carmilla von Carstein

 The forces of darkness on the march.

October is almost upon us and Fall is in the air.  That means it's time for some spooky stuff!  Great opportunity for me in the next few weeks to share some fun Mordheim, Halloween, and Zombie battles of the past and of course include some peaks at my Von Carstein Vampire Counts army.  :-)

First up is Carmilla von Carstein, a fig I converted up to be either a hero or lord level vamp in my army.  Unfortunately the camera washes out most the highlights and shading on the face especially.  She's definitely a fighty type vampire, and vampire chicks in armor swinging around swords always gets the blood pumping...

Ever since I first saw the Warmachine Alexia Ciannor miniature, I wanted to convert her into a vamp.  Just had to wait for the right head to come along.  I ended up using a Slaanesh Daemonette head, and the beastial look was perfect for a vamp in full battle fury.  The wild wind swept hair also was a great match for her flowing cape and really adds to the epic look of the fig.

Other than that, I got rid of the hood and gave the mini a vampy cowl.  Replaced any steampunk bits and gave Carmilla a proper Warhammer vampire sword.  All in all, nothing too difficult and I think the fig looks great stuck in a unit of skeletons or Grave Guard. (You'll see them later)  :-)

Another VC army teaser pic.

Just noticed another Alexia mini over at Privateer Press, so I might have to do a mounted version in the future. Although many of my Vampire Counts projects are in stasis right now as the army and all my skeletons are currently not too competitive or enjoyable to play in Warhammer 8th Edition.  Still, I should be able to post some fun stuff for you to look at before Halloween gives way to November.

Monday, September 19, 2011

War at the Movies - Red Tails

I'm definitely an Army man myself, but I can't help watching this trailer and thinking...  today's CGI + War movies = lots of potential.  The first trailer can be found here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fireforge Games - Deus Vult!

A thunderous new crusade in 28mm Medieval historical plastic miniatures is about to be unleashed onto the wargaming world. (Cheesy stuff, I know. :-) )  Fireforge Games, a company so new that their website is still under construction at the time of this post, is preparing to release its first multi-part plastic miniatures boxed set:  Teutonic Knights.

This will be the first of five planned Medieval period boxed sets in their initial Western Knights/Crusader line.  The first three boxes will be totally compatible, and together will include the bits/options to build virtually any Western European knight in the late 12th and 13th century.

The box will include 12 knights and be in the same price range of a Perry Miniatures or Warlord Games cavalry set (18-20 GBP).  The miniatures are still a WIP, and the pictures shown are mostly 3 Ups.  Bob Naismith is the sculptor, and the goal is to have the first release in December.

We'll probably see some infantry and mounted sergeants in the forth and fifth boxed set, and each "faction/line" will be completed before moving on to the next.  If all goes well, a opposing faction from either the Middle East or Northeast Europe will be next with the creation of a "gaming system" in the future.

For now you can check these guys out on Facebook here where you'll find more pictures and info.  There are also discussions about the miniatures with the owner of Fireforge Games going on at WarSeer and Dakka Dakka.

Personally, I really don't need another upcoming miniature release to get excited about.  Too many projects I want to do lined up already, but I've always been a big fan of Teutonic Knights for as long as I can remember.  I painted up a 15mm DBM army back in the '90s, but never came across a descent 25-28mm range since then.  That said, I'm quite interested to see how their miniature range turns out.

Although lower on the priority list, I'd like to paint up an army or two for the Hail Caesar rules.  Any future Viking project will be strictly skirmish level, but I was hoping to see some new plastic Carthaginians, etc. down the road.  I suppose if Fireforge Games hits a home run on the Teutons and comes out with top notch Rus line that Alexander Nevsky would be proud of, I might be headed for the Battle of the Ice someday.  Poles and Lithuanians wouldn't be bad either.  We'll see.  :-)

Bonus video!

Fireforge Games Teutonic Knights from Fireforge Games on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Star Wars Blu-Ray: Now with more tweaking!


Note:  Before I jump into the meat of this post, let me first say that when I decided to start this blog, I promised myself that this was intended purely to add enjoyment to the hobby, and never act as a platform for ranting on this and that.  There's certainly enough "commentary" on the Interwebs on rules, prices, minis, and various gaming companies without anyone adding to it.  That said, I'll try not to make this sound like another "George Lucas rapped my childhood!" type blog post.  :-)

Due to very effective marketing, unless you live under a rock you'll be aware that the six Star Wars movies are about to be released on Blu-Ray on the 16th.  What you might not know, but perhaps had a few cynical thoughts about, is that George Lucas has once again taken this opportunity to change and tweak the Star Wars movies.

At this point we shouldn't be surprised as each previous release has had various alterations (and altercations with fans).  There's now so many that there's even a Wikipedia page that tracks them all.  If the customer reviews at are any indication, fans don't seem too happy with the latest batch of additional tweaks.

Here's a list of the changes that I've seen so far:

Episode I:
-  Original Yoda being replaced by a CGI version to match Episode II and III.

Episode IV:
-  Bigger rocks for R2-D2 to hide behind in "A New Hope" before he gets captured by Jawas.
-  Audio changed on Krayt Dragon call used by Ben Kenobi to scare off Sand People.

Episode VI:
-  Door to Jabba's Palace made to look more massive.
-  One of Sebulba's (from Ep. I) "Dug" race is added to the various aliens inside Jabba's Palace.
-  Digital effects now allow those wide eyed Ewoks to blink.
-  More TIE fighters are added to the final battle.
-  Vader now screams "Noooo!" as he picks up the Emperor and hurls him to his death.

The last one especially boggles my mind.  There was SO MUCH backlash over Vader's Frankenstein "Nooooo!" scene from Episode III, that I can not believe Lucas actually did this.  Either this guy  is so out of touch or more likely he does not care.  Totally convinced that "his" version/vision is the best no matter what the fans think.  Pretty sad.

Like many movie fans, the words "Director's Cut" used to get me excited, but now the "Original theatrical version" definitely has a special place in my heart.  If the above info was not enough for you, then ponder this...  in February Lucas starts the 3-D makeovers of the Star Wars films.

"Nooooo!"  indeed.

Bonus videos!!!!



The worst.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Legendary Battles: Witch Hunters vs Vampire Counts

Katrina Blackmoor vs Alexandra von Carstein

Back when Eric's fabulous Witch Hunter army was still minty fresh (See White Dwarf 324 (US) ), and didn't include any elephants, helicopters, or even Wizard Lords yet; we were itching to get our first head to head action in.  Our 'Showcase Showdown' finally came at Krugenheim during the annual Warhammer campaign that our local Warbringer group used to run.  (There's a club feature on the Warbringers in White Dwarf 329 (US) that actually includes a picture from this battle.)

Eric's Warbringer, Katrina Blackmoor, was very much channeling Buffy the Vampire Slayer, while I decided to leave my old Vampire Lord Frederick von Carstein at home and run with his rebellious daughter Alexandra in the campaign.  Other than creating "Warbringer" characters/generals that hopefully continued to grow and improve, another unique element was that players were encouraged to write stories about their exploits throughout the campaign.

I'm not the most gifted writer, but I've decided to include the story I wrote back then to re-tell the tale of this very enjoyable game.  As you'll see, the story itself takes place many years after the battle trying to recover something that was lost long ago...

"Shadows of the Past"

“Yes, yes, please come in and have a seat by the fire,” spoke the old man in raspy a tone before braking off into another violent coughing spell.  “”Forgive me, I am not well, but I received your messenger earlier today that you would arrive this evening.  Can I offer you anything to drink?”

“I do not drink..., wine.”  The dark stranger replied while crossing the threshold into the small cottage.

“Cold night, isn’t it?…but I suppose you did not come here to discuss the weather.  Your messenge said you’re interested in the Krugenheim battle.  It’s been a long time since anyone wanted to hear that old story, most don’t believe what I tell them anyway.  Mainly Witch Hunters and historians, but you don’t look like either one of those...  Fifty years this very night!  I bet you didn’t know that.  Not a dashing young gentlemen like you.  So why so interested?...”

“I trust you received the compensation for your time from my servant?” asked the stranger smoothly.  “Let’s just say I lost a relative at the battle.”

“Oh yes, more than enough, thank you.  Really the coins are unnecessary as I enjoy any company I get these days.  Sorry to pry.  Say, could you reach my flask there on the mantle?  Dark stories on cold nights seem to leave a chill in these old bones.”

The old man accepted the flask from the stranger and greedily drank its contents.  “You won’t read this version in any history of the Empire or the Blackmoor family.  Like I said it’s been fifty years.  Back then I was a wide-eyed fifteen-year-old acolyte to a warrior priest of Sigmar.  I’m sorry are you all right?  You look suddenly in pain.”

“I'm Fine.”

“Anyway, we were returning from our time with the dwarves after being forced to abandon the city to the orcs.  We figured they had left the place a mess, but nothing could have prepared us for what we encountered that day,” the man paused to take another swig from the flask.  “The dead we had left behind.  The villagers, soldiers, our friends, brothers, our families... all turned into walking corpses.  Rank upon rank, zombies, all there to greet us... and behind them flew the banner of an evil we thought was defeated long ago.  The Von Carsteins had returned and…” his words irrupted by another coughing spell.

“Please take your time, I have all evening.”

“No I’m alright,” the old man continued.  “The very sky soon turned dark with their malice.  My priest sent me away to go pray for victory or something like that, but with Lady Blackmoor at the peek of her powers, I didn’t want to miss a moment of the battle.  I had a spyglass that I had “borrowed” from one of the engineers and found a place in one of taller building to watch.  A hiding place that would later prove to be my salvation from the horror that was about to happen.”

“You could see everything that transpired from where you were?”  Asked the stranger evenly.

“We Stirlanders don’t use such fancy words in these parts, but if you mean did I see everything that happened during and after the battle.  Yes, to my everlasting horror... I did.  What would you like to know?”  The old man inquired while leaning forward to try to catch a glimpse of the stranger’s face.  His features seemed to strangely hidden by the dancing shadows of the fire.

“Tell me more about the Countess and the Slayer, and what happened to them,” the stranger replied.

“You mean Alexandra and Katrina?  They met in battle early on with their knights around them.  The vampire’s dark beauty was something to behold, the very sky seemed to reflect her anger.  Katrina and her boys bravely charged in.  Katrina cut through a pair of black knights before her and quickly came face to face with the vampire.  But by that time it was too late as the dark lady had giant werewolves that came to her aid.  Katrina’s knights were hopelessly tore limb from limb with only Katrina and my priest left alive and surrounded.  The undead ran amuck... ranks upon ranks of good soldiers where cut down where they stood or as they tried to turn and flee from the horrors before them.”

“They drug the once proud Lady Katrina off in chains as they impaled the survivors and raised them as zombies in turn.  Something was surely taken from her that day... she just said nothing and stared blankly through the horrors that surrounded her.  Please forgive me if I cannot go into greater detail.  I silently sobbed so hard that day my heart broke... I’m afraid my control over such emotions are no stronger now.”

"Yes, I have heard that she was given over to the werewolves, and other such stories.  Are there any other details that stood out?  What of the Countess?”  Urged the stranger.

“Of course.  I’m sorry,” the man said as he emptied the contents of his flask.  “One thing I could not quite make out... but I swear the vampire’s servants took a number of blood red wine bottles from where they kept the Lady Katrina.  Dawn brought stranger things as all went silent.  The vampire and her host just seemed to disappear into the Forest of Shadows.  When I finally gathered up enough courage, I came down from my hiding spot.  I realized then that the city had been totally emptied.  I was the lone survivor it seemed...  Then, to my amazement I discovered the Lady Blackmoor in one of the nearby buildings just lying in a bed.  She was unresponsive, but still had some life in her... and she was no longer bound in chains!  I'll never understand why she was spared.”

“Anything else?”

“Not much.  I’m no hero, but I managed to repair a small cart and brought Katrina to the care of a Sister Agatha and the Sisters of the Cleansing Flame whose small temple is along the river Stir.  I left her there and never looked back... hoping to forget the horrors that haunt me still and lead a simpler life.  The rest I guess is history, mister... err…what did you say your name was again?”
“I didn’t,” replied the stranger coldly.  “Let’s just say that Frederick Von Carstein sends his regards.”   

With that, a shadow leaped across the room and the old man’s scream quickly died with him.

Hopefully you enjoyed the post.  I won't bore you with what happened the rest of the campaign, but as you can see Katrina didn't fare too well the first time out versus the von Carsteins.  She had been staking other suckheads left and right before then, but left this battle with head injury as was subject to stupidity from then on.  (Insert blonde joke here.)

Just wanted also note that Eric's army did include some great looking Middenheim 'reinforcements' from our friend Mark so that we could play a larger battle at the time.

As always Eric, good times!  :-)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day!

Wishing everyone an enjoyable and safe Labor Day!  I don't know how they celebrate up in Canada, but in the States we get a nice extended weekend.  Except for those that work in retail....  hopefully you folks get paid time and a half!  :-)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Viking Sagas, Part 3: The Director's Cuts

After digging around my hard-drive and through my old CD's, I unfortunately couldn't find any more pictures of my past epic Viking battles.  Lost long ago through computer crashes and other things I guess.  It would have been fun to tell a few more stories, but got to move on.

These pics weren't actually cut from the first two Sagas posts, just ones that Eric sent me a little too late to be included.  Probably more of a Swan Song than a Director's Cut.  I think they're a little bit better than the ones I took, so I figured I'd share them with everyone else.  Plus, I like posting things on my blog that I enjoy going back and looking at as well.  :-)

These pics also nice look back at some memories from the old Phoenix Games that used to be in Minneapolis, and the quiet after hours games that are sadly a thing of the past now.  Even my Viking army is gone now after being sacrificed on eBay earlier this Summer.  Although it had to be done, I very much regret it now.

Maybe someday I'll paint up some Vikings again for playing skirmish battles or even an army for Hail Caesar.  The Wargames Foundry minis I had were OK, but I'd rather have some better quality figs realistically scaled like the Warlord Games' ancients line.  I was hopeful when Wargames Factory and Gripping Beast came out with plastic boxed sets, but after seeing them up close I was left uninspired.

The Dark Ages is definitely a great period to play especially the skirmish level stuff, but for now anyway that ship has sailed.

Viking Sagas, Part 1 can be found here, and Part 2 here.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Shadow (forming) in the East

Although I don't currently plan on working on my Easterling/Khand army anytime soon, I have been itching to finalize some details on color schemes and army lists to help guide my collecting on eBay, etc.  The traditional red has always looked good on these guys, but I wanted to give green a whirl too.

I painted up two test models, and the green one confirmed the potential I saw all along.  It makes a slightly different, but still great looking scheme for the evil men of the East.  I think the green and gold throughout the army will be very striking.  I even polled my three nephews when they came over to visit, and it was green all the way.  :-)

I don't have any Khand models at the moment to try out the scheme on them, but I have a pretty good idea how I want them to look.  Their back banners especially will add a lot to the army appearance.  Unfortunately trying to collect the infantry models is way too expensive, so the cavalry and chariots will have to do.

On the subject of banners, since the Easterlings dress up as and probably worship dragons, I'm going to have some sort of oriental dragon on all of then.  Green banners with golden dragons.  Might even hunt down an eastern looking dragon model to add to the army when everything else is done.

As for an initial army list, I've come up with basically an all cavalry army to start off the fun.  Although the solid Easterling infantry will come later, I'll use the list below as a starting point.  Not necessarily a true competitive list, but one based more on the models I already have and the fact that my friend has a Rohan force.  Plus, I will be totally different than my all infantry Dwarf army.

At 1500 points my army will basically look like this:

Epic Villains:
Amdur, Lord of Blades (I might try using Suladan's rules for an Easterling general too)
Khamul the Easterling (Ringwraith)

Common Formations:
Easterling Kataphrakt Cohort (6 Compaines, Dragon Kinght, Banner, and Drummer)
+ Fate - Tormented Steeds
Khandish Mercenary Raiders (4-6 Companies, Chieftain, and Hornblower)

Warg Rider Warband (9 Companies, Captain, Banner, Drummer, and Taskmaster(?) )

Rare Formations:
Khandish King Chariot (x 2)

There are sure to be some tweaks, but this is where I'll start the fun.  For the jump to 2000+ the infantry will start showing up along with some Siege Bows, Archers, and maybe another character.  Those pike formations will take this army to a whole new level, but you have to start somewhere...