Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tales from the Workbench - 40k Fortifications

I spy with my little eye... Mordians, Prussians, and FORTIFICATIONS!!
The 6th Edition of Warhammer 40k is due out VERY soon, and while I was beavering away at getting my Imperial Guard battle ready, I couldn't help but think of some of the rumors surrounding this impending Games Workshop release.

One such rumor is that a "Fortifications" choice will be added to the Force Organization Chart allowing you to purchase a piece of terrain along with your army for pretty much any mission you play.  The rumors also suggest that the choices will mirror quite closely the current terrain/scenery products available from GW.

Most of the guys I like to play locally are into playing with a themed terrain set up for our games, such as a Ork junkyard.  Just a few days ago, a friend and I were thinking how lame it would be if an opponent would wreck said "themed" terrain by plopping down an Imperial Bastion in their deployment area.  Other than random silly thoughts on how someone could actually drag or air drop such a fortification into the battle, we both agreed that we might be ignoring this particular rule for the most part.

As I'm not into the tournament scene, pretty much any game I play is going to include whatever my opponent and I agree upon before the game: scenario, points, special characters, allies, etc. etc.  Obviously fortifications are part of that mix as well, and I found myself digging around for some old GW terrain long neglected in my garage.  What I found is the two pieces pictured on the workbench above.

Now I think these two would fit the bill nicely of what my Imperial Guard could set up rather quickly under combat conditions, using the wreck of one of their Chimera APCs to create a defensive position.  These two pieces certainly couldn't take the place of a Fortress of Redemption, but painted up nicely to match my army they certainly should be able to stand in for some barricades or even an Aegis Defence Line.  I think it would be easy to whip up some similar terrain that looks more hastily constructed than some ancient Imperial building/relic appearing out of nowhere in the middle of your Chaos Deathworld board. :-)

Friday, June 22, 2012

How I survived the GW Paintocalypse of 2012

 To hell with the status quo!

Although the more talented of us "gaming hobbyists" can mix and create new colors, highlights, and shades with not so much of a thought or even courtesy glance given to the vaunted color wheel, most of us are very much creatures of habit.  Like most gamers, I find a combo of paints that work for a certain color or effect and then stick with it through thick and thin adding a few drops of water along the way for good effect.

Despite the fact that my paint collection has been slowly getting more and more Vallejo pots in it as I move towards more historical projects, I still use many Games Workshop/Citiadel paints for my reds, browns/leather, and flesh to name a few.  In recent years GW has added the very useful Foundation paint line (My fav, Charadon Granite), and new Washes (Especially Devlan Mud and Badab Black) that became favorites of many miniature gamers once they discovered the magic those pots held.

 "Sir, request more Graveyard Earth and Desert Yellow ASAP!!!"

I admit I am firmly in the "If it ain't broke don't fix it" crowd, so when GW announced back in March that they were launching a whole new paint line April 7th and eying my half finished Imperial Guard Mordian army sitting there, I reacted as any half sane hobbyist would.  I drove over to the nearest game shop and spent like $60+ on discontinued paints.

Unfortunately the three things I wasn't able to pick up that night was the three paints and washes mentioned above.  I'm still looking for a replacement for Charadon Granite, but partial salvation came in the form a short e-mail from a friend:

"The Army Painter washes are a pretty exact/damned close match to the old GW washes:

Dark Tone = Badab Black

Strong Tone = Devlan Mud
Soft Tone = Gryphonne Sepia


Like any gaming hobbyist worth his/her salt I can manage to evolve and learn new things.  Just like when GW switched paint companies in the '90s (Privateer Press now uses the old one.) and I lost my beloved Chestnut, Flesh, and Armour Washes.  I'm sure GW's greatly expanded paint range has tons of potential and many improvements, but I mostly lament the loss of many iconic names such as Boltgun Metal, Goblin Green, and Snakebite Leather whose naming rights were lost in this latest switch.  At least the old names gave even the casual gamer a clue what color was inside, but many of the new ones have me totally confused.  I'll remain open to using the new range as my friends and other bloggers try out stuff and report back, but I think I'll personally continue my push into the Vallejo line.

It's easy to hate on Games Workshop, and although I'm not a fan of everything they do, I try to keep that type of stuff off my blog and focus on enjoying the hobby in a positive light.  I saw the writing on the wall 3+ years ago when I read about various paint companies submitting bids to produce new paint line that included 145 products for GW.  That has now come true, and like any business in a niche market like miniature gaming you have to evolve and improve in order to succeed much less survive, and GW has done both.  I will say while change can be frustrating, like going through 8 editions of Warhammer or 6 of 40k, I can also understand that change drives much the business for companies like GW whose target market does not include 40+ year olds like me.

Not many local gamers do the blog thing, but many do share their hobby projects and thoughts on Google+.  So I'd like to pass along a quick and dirty series of reviews of the Army Painter washes from my friend Eric that I thought was really helpful.

The Replacement Killers

Inks & Washes - From my experience so far, Dark Tone is closer to Badab black than Nuln Oil. Rumours I heard was that Nuln Oil does not cut in water- not true.  It cuts just fine.

Nuln Oil is actually blacker than Badab and Dark tone.

Nuln Oil slides very well into recesses and lines.  Dark tone needs a little water in that department.

I think Dark tone covers large areas like vehicle plates the way Badab black does.  This is were Nuln Oil gets a little splotchy and needs some help from water.

I'm going to miss Badab Black as it covers the smoothest but I think Nuln Oil and Dark tone will do just fine to picking up the reins.

Dark Tone, Nuln Oil, and Badab Black.

So My next step with my ork metals is the Devlan Mud.  I also tried Agrax Earthshade and Strong Tone from Army painter.

The good news I have is that Strong tone is just about the same as Devlan Mud.  The only difference is that Mud spreads easier.  The Strong Tone needs just a teeney bit of water to loosen it up.

Agrax Earhshade is not the same.  It's very watery and just like Nuln Oil it slides easily in recesses but is splotchy over large flat areas.  The colour is not close either. It has a greater bit of a red-orange tint to it.  So although not close to Devlan Mud, it still will have its place with paints for it's own colour.

Agrax Earthshade, Strong Tone, and Devlan Mud.

Gryphonne Sepia.  The third of my favorite washes.  It's yellow brown just makes everything real.  The others I tried were Seraphim Sepia and Soft Tone from Army Painter.

Here I found differences in all three.  Seraphim has the same consistency which is good as it spreads like Gryphonne.  Seraphim however is more red than yellow.  Not a big deal at all- like Agrax Earthshade, it has it's own flavour.

Soft tone is no where near the same as Gryphonne and Seraphim.  The colour is a darker brown with less yellow- kind of a weaker version of Strong Tone.  It's spreads just fine.  It will have a place in my washes.

Soft Tone, Gryphonne Sepia, and Seraphim Sepia.

Overall the GW washes seem to have their place.  They don't replace what we used to love but they will make new armies come to life with their own style.  The Army Painter tones are your best bet for the Badab and Devlan replacements.

Obviously my thoughts are only opinion, have a good weekend everyone.

Thanks again Eric for the run down and letting me pass it along on my blog.  I finally got the chance to pick up Army Painter Strong Tone and Dark Tone from the shop last night, so I'm excited to try them out myself.  I also wanted to pass along that the Army Painter washes are $3.29 for 0.6 fl oz compared to the current GW washes that are $3.70 for 0.4 fl oz.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Battles in Middle Earth - A Brace of Coneys

"Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew."

Earlier this month I re-opened my War Room with a pair of Lord of the Rings battles against my friends Eric and Joshua.  Despite a great looking miniature range sculpted mostly by the Perry Brothers and a set of solid  rules from Games Workshop, the Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game has never really caught on locally.  A few years ago there was a small surge with the release of War of the Ring, a game that a few of us still play from time to time, but the skirmish level SBG never really took off until this Spring.

In February, GW breathed new life into their LotR game with five new sourcebooks covering all the forces across Middle Earth.  These books effectively tweaked the main rules without having to issue an new edition.  Each side is now made up of multiple "warbands" that can include up to twelve models.  Each warband is made up of a hero/character and his/her followers.  Multiple warbands, along with lone characters and monsters can all be used to fill out your "army."

The dwarves make ready to defend the mountain pass against the marauding Rohan horsemen.

For these first two games we kept things simple by using the "To the Death!" scenario which is the first one in the book.  The first game featured my Balin lead dwarves versus Eric's Riders of Rohan commanded by that arch villain Eomer.  I was defending the ruins of an old dwarf wall to guard the mountain pass, and Eric's "evil" riders were up to no good and probably intent on stealing all our ale.  :-)

 "Here they come!  Let's see if they like the taste of our axes!"
Doing my best impression of a dwarf general.

This battle basically boiled down to my dwarves standing in front of charging Rohan riders, getting knocked down, and then getting up and finishing off the enemy with their axes.  Both of our forces were very one dimensional and seriously lacking in true bad guys.  We really need to get some real "Black Hats" painted up.

A nice shot down the battle line.
The bandit Eomer and the last of his warriors are finally surrounded and laid low.

After ridding the realm of smelly horsemen, I had Joshua over a few days later with his Gondor army that he has just started.  While Eric is more of a SBG veteran, Josh and I are not, and left to our own devices we were able to learn a lot during this game.  My dwarves again included Balin and Josh's "evil" Gondor army was lead by the King of the Dead (SpookyScary!).

I thought the Palantir is supposed to be round?

As in the previous game, we both rolled mostly low for deployment (1-3) which put our warbands very close to the middle of the table according to the scenario.  Since this was mostly a learning game, we were more than happy to get stuck in right away anyway.

 'Tactics!  Bah!"

Other than a few rangers and archers, everyone on the board was defense 6 or better.  This meant that the majority of the game was spent beating on each other with no effect.  We both had a good number of warriors with 36 each, but Joshua's more costly ghosts were not as effective versus my high courage dwarves.  One of my rangers were able to take out his banner early, and eventually the dwarves started slowly winning the war of attrition leading to the death of his King.

 The King of the Dead is banished back to the mountains...  Wait?!  Where?!

In both games I found out that my dwarves are very hard to kill in a straight up fight.  I probably wouldn't want to face them myself, but things will get way more interesting and challenging with playing the other scenarios.  Plus both games featured very one dimensional armies and no magic.  It will be fun to see a more flexible force on the table with infantry, cavalry, and maybe a warmachine or monster.  Especially since the game is very fluid.  Even in these straight up fights the battle line ebbed and flowed and was certainly not as static as a game of Mordheim for example.

 "Our Sponsors"

I'm certainly looking forward to a more challenging game in the future, but either way the game is always quick and fun.  As mentioned before, someone really needs to start painting some real evil guys or else the free people of Middle Earth are doomed.

Thanks again to Eric and Joshua for coming over and the very enjoyable company and games.  My dwarves and I are definitely looking forward to the next opportunity  to swing their axes.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Napoleonics at AdeptiCon

I was finally hoping to make it out to AdeptiCon in Chicago this April, especially when I found out how relatively close the location was to where my brother and his family lives.  The timing didn't work out for a visit, and for another year the convention seemed to past me by.  I'm not the biggest fan of playing in tournaments, but a number of gaming friends from Minnesota have been going every year and it would be nice to join in on the fun for once.

There are a number of events that might interest me, but this year there was a Napoleonic game put on by a group that includes Dave Taylor, Jamie Welling, Chris Ferich, Alex Akers, Joe Krone, Brien Dulaney, and Dave Pauwels.  If you follow Dave's blog, then you might be already aware of The Guns of April blog that tracked the progress of this group's project.  Not only was it a chance to meet some fellow Napoleonic gamers and see some lovely Perry and Victrix miniatures in action, but also to see a sizable Black Powder game as well.

Despite my absence, my friend Eric was able to hang out at the game for about an hour and came away impressed with the miniatures and rules as well as an possible interest getting into 28mm Napoleonics himself.  There are tons of great pictures on The Guns of April blogsite, but I thought I'd share a few of his pics on here.

Although I played my far share of 15mm historicals I've only recently started my foray into the world of 28mm Napoleonics.  I've always been a fan of any minis by the Perry Brothers, but their current Napoleonic line along with manufacturers of similar quality like Victrix have really finally made a project possible for me at the desired level of quality and detail.  Not to mention very affordable as well with their great plastic kits.

That's why it was especially interesting for me to see the progress by The Guns of April group on their armies.  Most of them are relatively new to the genre, so they probably bring a unique perspective that's not normally found from your typical historical gamer.  Many of them share a similar Warhammer background with me and are used to converting GW's minis especially the plastic kits to add more variety or even create different units.  Couple this with the fact that although they might know a thing or two about the period, their learning curve like mine is a little steeper when it comes to figuring out the ins and out of actually creating a battalion of Napoleonic soldiers in 28mm.

Much of Dave's work on his command stands for example, are just a little green stuff work or simple head/hat swap.  Inspirational stuff as this project has also given me countless ideas for my own Napoleonic projects that I'm working on.  Not just limited to the Perry's Prussian range, many of their Dutch officers for example can be easily converted into Prussians with the addition of another row of buttons, a sash, a new hat, or maybe a tweak of the horse furniture.

I'd like to thank all the guys from The Guns of April for sharing their project with the rest of us on the blogosphere.  Along with all the influences it will certainly have on my current armies, it definitely inspires me to be part of a similar project in the future.  Only time will tell, but first I just need to knock out a brigade or two and start rolling some dice.

As a added bonus along with all the pictures, Eric also brought me back a freebie Marshal Ney from Gorgon Studios.  Thanks again Eric for the pics and the mini.  :-)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Der Feldmarschall Returns!

You can't keep a great mustache down for long!

At last a new post!  I know you all were waiting for this day to arrive with bated breath.  No boring details, but lets just say I'm a creature of habit on the Internet, so once I was knocked off my horse (computer died) it seemed hard to get back on.  You just get busy with other things I guess.  Plus, I'll have to figure out all the new changes to blogger...

Anyway, the blog is back armed with a new computer (well, new to me anyway), so you could see the return of other stuff (hint, hint) as well.  Hobby-wise I have not been completely idle.  Picked up a few new rule sets and army books, I've been slowly building up minis for my Napoleonic and Seven Years War projects, and have been assembling/converting the rest of My Imperial Guard Mordian force to be ready for the release of the 6th edition of Warhammer 40k.

 A couple of recent eBay purchases to help inspire my 1813 Prussians.

 The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game also came out with a new batch of supplements covering all the antagonists of Middle Earth, and I actually got in couple of games with my dwarves lately.  I hope to cover this as well as the other stuff in future posts.

One of the main things I've been working on is my game room.  As I mentioned in My New Year's post as well as my original post featuring my War Room I hoped to get a game table set up again along with a new painting area.  After a bit a rearranging, reorganizing, and some additions, here are a few pictures of the results.

The tidy version.

A convenient and timely purchase from my neighbor gained me two great work tables and some nice office chairs for the War Room.  Quite different from my original concept I had planned, my new hobby/work space came together very nicely.  The best thing is not only the natural light from the window, but that this one looks out to grass, trees, and a family of ground squirrels :-), not concrete and cars.

The slightly untidy version.

My old large cutting mat became horribly warped, so in time I hope to replace it and make the table on the right my assembly area with the left dedicated to painting.  Right now I'm using an old GW paint station to contain my assembly projects so I can quickly use that side for other purposes if need be.

The beer lights definitively create a nice effect at night, and the presence of all the little vintage Playmobil Cavalry guys will be explained at a later date.  Suffice it to say some of them were my first toy soldiers.  :-)  The webcam on top of the monitor is a very recent addition which I tested out only last night.  Although the potential is there for other things blog related, I'm really hoping to use Google+ hangouts to connect with some of my local gaming friends while we hobby.  Should be tons of fun and certainly a great motivator.

With the removal of my computer desk from the War Room I was able to squeeze in a few more prints that where sitting in storage with only about 2-3 still left out.  Someday I'll have a large basement/house again, but for now I have to make the best with only one room.

As I mentioned above I was able to get a great deal on some chairs, and I have five in all.  Two is enough for everyday, but it's nice having a few extra in the garage in case three+ friends show up for a larger game.

For right now the terrain is pretty basic, with a grass mat and some stuff I did way back in 2003 for my WAB Viking battles.  It's just nice to be able to game at home again, but hopefully I'll get the battle board painted up along with some new terrain to match.  The closet still needs to be organized with the rest of my terrain and stuff stored out in the garage.

Lighting is one of the main problems with this room which also makes it difficult to take decent pictures.  Either too much glare or too dark.  With no ceiling fixture, I have had two halogen torch floor lamps in either corner in the past  They were plenty bright, but also were plenty hot.  That's OK during the Minnesota winter, but not fun for gaming in the summer.  I grabbed four cheap lamps from Walmart yesterday that use florescent bulbs.  Not as bright as the old lamps, but a whole lot more comfortable.

Mmmmm...  logistics.

Finally, a game room is only as good as the "gaming supplies" you have stocked in the fridge.  Playing your own music is also a bonus.  Although it's nice to see everybody down at the shop, nothing beats having having a buddy or two over and gaming in the comfort of your own home.

That's it for now, but it's nice to be back on the blogosphere!