Monday, August 29, 2011

44. Nudity! I Knew That Would Get Your Attention.

So after all my "dipping" I decided to take a short break and paint normal.  I still wanted to get something finished fairly quickly but I was ready for something different, too.  Thus, Snowmen Monsters from Copplestone Castings.  And their Evil Penguin Masters.  Mua-ha-ha-haaa!  (Or whatever sound an Evil Penguin would make when it laughs evilly.)

Moe, Larry and Curly.  Or is it Huey, Duey and Louie?  Or is it Tweedle-Dee, Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dumber?  The penguins are Frik and Frak.
They were fun-fun to paint, and just so bizarre that I can't not smile whenever I think about plonking them down on the table.  They were also incredibly fast to paint.  I started with a black undercoat, then highlighted by drybrushing first black+black+grey, then black+grey, then grey, then grey+grey+white, then grey+white, then a final light pure white highlight.

. . .

. . .

O.K., I'm totally kidding.

After them, I decided to get a small clan of Cavemen and Cavewomen together for my Adventures in the Lost Lands games.  I continued with my Copplestone figure lineup.  I really like the tattoos on the figures in the painted example photos on the Copplestone website, but at the same time I didn't want to just copy them outright.  I opted not to paint tattoos for two reasons:  1, I didn't want to copy, as I said, and 2, I think it obscures the figure to some degree.  I really wanted to work on the "skin tone" on these figs so I didn't want anything to cover it up.

The four major hair colors are well-represented in Caveman hair salons.
Of course, considering how my skin tone turned out, tattooing may have been the better option.  Perhaps totally blue, all over, from head to toe.  Then again, I could have taken the middle road and just put a small tattoo somewhere, but quite frankly by the time I thought of it, I was ready to be finished and move on to new figs.

My patience for painting is seriously short these days.  I used to be able to spend 8 to 12 hours on a single figure, getting the details just right, and not think twice about it.  Now if I spend 8 hours on 10 figures I feel it's taking too long!  I ain't getting any younger, y'know.

And in case you're wondering about the nudity mentioned in the title of this post, of course I meant that the SNOWMEN are naked.  And the penguins.

You pervert.  What, you were expecting something else?

. . .

. . .

O.K., I'm just kidding again.

I got a couple of topless Cavewomen here too.  I should remark that I prefer my Cavewomen ahistorical, and more in line with Raquel Welch in "One Million Years B.C." without any hint of shame or self-reproach.

Raquel Welch.  Homina-homina-homina.

. . .

. . .

I'm sorry, where was I?  I seem to have lost my train of thought....

In the interest of complete disclosure, I should add that I also prefer historical Cavemen to the ahistorical type.  Not in that way!  For their historical accuracy, of course.  Yeesh!  See below for an example.

Oh look, Raquel's in that picture too, how funny....  Anyway, Cavemen should be wild, woolly, dangerous and dirty.  Cavewomen, on the other hand, have their fingernails and toenails painted, and wear eye shadow.

Hey!  My gaming is my escapism!  You go do what you want with your figures, and I'll paint mine how I want.

On to nudity!  Well, two topless Cavewomen, anyhow.

These are very stylish Cavewomen.  This is my first attempt at a leopard pattern, and a tiger skin.  I'm happy with the leopard, not as much with the tiger skin.  A trifle too orange, I think.  But then I think, who's looking at her loincloth?
Here is a gratuitous rear view, because I don't want you thinking I'm only interested in them being topless.  They look good coming or going.  You'll notice I have not included a rear-view of the Cavemen.  You may thank me now.

Sadly, right after I took these pictures, I dropped the Cavegirl on the far right and broke off her axe.  I was able to glue it back, but there is a join line that wasn't in evidence before the accident, and I didn't have time to repaint it before I had to go to work.  It's not too bad, and as little as I play it will never be a problem.

So I got my "paint normal" urge satisfied.  The four Cavemen took me roughly 6-7 hours, and the four Cavewomen took about 8 hours total.  Like I mentioned earlier, I got no time for spendin' 28 hours on a single miniature like them thar professionals you see online.  I gots mountains of lead figures jest waitin' for paintin'.  I gots to go!

An example of my non sequitur gaming style.  The Clan of the Cavepeople don't know what to make of this intrusion into their idyllic lives...but surely hard flint weapons will soon sort these beasties out!
Thanks for reading, and you can put your eyes back in your head now.  Raquel has left the cave.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

43. I Continue to Game in Public

In August a couple of weeks ago, I attending a local one-day miniatures mini-convention near where I live:  Skirmish.  It's put on a by local group called the DFW Irregulars who themselves are part of the Lone Star Historical Miniatures group.  I first attended two years ago but was not able to attend last year.  This year's con was slightly larger than 2009's, in that they had expanded from one large room to include a medium sized room as well.  It's been reported that they had 92 attendees and 26 games across three time slots.  There were several local vendors as well:  Texas Toy Soldier (also dba The Terrain Guy), Grenadier Books, Portsmouth Miniatures, and Frontline Games.

I think originally, Skirmish was intended as a Historical miniatures gaming convention, but (wisely, in my opinion) they expanded the selection to allow non-historical games.  Dr. Who, zombies, and other fantasy and sci-fi games were in strong evidence.
I invited four friends who have an interest in gaming, but who don't game for one reason or another.  Of the four, one accepted and came for two of the sessions.  I think he had fun.  This is an improvement on 2009 for me, when I invited two friends (different to this year) and neither of them came.  But one of them was kind enough to call me during the first session to tell me I could come with him to a new game group to play Descent that afternoon if I wanted to....

Any area's miniature gaming aficionados are, by virtue of the hobby we love, a small group of people.  You see the same faces time after time, at one game store's open gaming and another game store's open gaming.  So it pays to have thick skin and not make enemies.  I'm definitely seeing many of the same faces the more I game locally, which is a really good thing, and I can wholeheartedly say that I didn't have a problem with any attendee or GM at Skirmish.  What's even more amazing is that our "area" is a very large geographic area, encompassing all of the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex, and a lot of these guys drive an hour just to get to the convention.  I think that shows more than anything else how small and insular our hobby is:  92 people came to play, out of a combined city-wide population of 6.4 million and 9,000 square miles!  So if you find someone with whom to game, with whom you like to spend time, HOLD ON TO THEM!

Your Honor, I give you Exhibit A:  Exhibit Hall A, that is.  Heh heh, forgive me, your Honor.  What?  Contempt of court!?  Why you...!
Did I forget to mention they had Flames of War and Field of Glory tournaments running from 0900 to 2245?  Well, they did.  In fact, here they are.
Overlooking our Sudan game in room B.
Anyway, here are some select pictures of my games.  I took a lot with my phone again, but won't subject you to them all.  I've not included anyone's last name, as I didn't ask permission before posting on my blog here.  Privacy, don'cha know.

My first game was a The Sword and the Flame (modified) game in the Sudan, run by Greg W.  From the Event description:  "December, 1885.  Khartoum has fallen:  Gordon is dead, but so is the Mahdi.  The Khalifa is now the leader, and has concentrated thousands of warriors around the Nile town of Ginnis for a possible invasion of Egypt.  To counter this threat, the British, in a surprise move, have concentrated their forces North of the village of Kosha, with a plan to take both towns."

And that's exactly what happened.  I set up my 3 artillery and one unit of rifles, and the British pretty much rolled in and ran us out of town!  It was a fun game, ably run by an experienced GM, although either our setup or the general disposition of forces unbalanced it slightly.  Note the left flank British player who never made contact the entire game.  And our reinforcements, to which he was reacting, were too long in arriving (ie, they never made it on the table).  More details in the pictures with pertinent highlights.  (Edited clarification:  I wasn't the only Dervish player.  There were 3 of us and 4 British players.)

The Locals' disposition.  My rifles occupied the black rock (the hill in the foreground) next to a cannon.
Before the battle, showing the British deployment.  Yes, they started that close to us.  It represented the surprise attack factor.
In my first real die roll of the game, my brass cannon (the best of the three) managed to first misfire (rolled a 6) and then explode (rolled a second 6).  Ahh, yes, a special way to begin a full day of gaming.
The Fuzzy Wuzzies stream out to attack.  Too bad for them they all get killed, pretty much without ever making contact.  There was a British gunboat behind us (out of the picture to the right) blasting away unanswered.  The problem was compounded by the front groups rolling poorly for movement and blocking up the rear groups, who rolled really well for movement.  Bummer.
One of my other cannons, that did not misfire.  I got a few good hits in before it was over-run.

The Egyptians storm the black rock.  Bring it on!
The Egyptians are seen off by the defenders (noble, heroic) of the black rock.  Yay me, and my dice rolling skills (for once).
Unfortunately, the Egyptians have more than one method of accomplishing Britian's will.  Their shooting saw off the defenders (cowardly, dastardly) of the black rock.  That was pretty close to the end of the game, anyhow.
Daily wins/losses:  Me 0, The Other Side 1.

The second session had my friend and I playing in Doctor Who, Dalek Invasion of Earth 2150 AD.  From the description:  "They've bombarded us with meteorites, subjected us to cosmic rays, smashed our cities, destroyed whole
continents of people!  Some of us they've turned into living dead.  Robomen.  But I tell you this, the wheel's turning full circle.  Our day's coming!  Take control of the Doctor's most frightful enemy, the Daleks, or play the resistance and fight back against the motorized dustbins and take back the streets of London.  The scenario loosely covers that battle between humans, Daleks, and Robomen before the arrival of the Doctor as the rebellion matches tyranny with courage against technological superiority."

We used the Doctor Who Miniatures Game (DWMG) rules, GM'd by Jamie M.  They had fantastic urban rubble terrain, and Dalek miniatures are always cool.  My Robomen didn't fare too well, and my friend Carl (who was playing the Resistance) got the first Dalek kill of the game, and a nifty real 20mm cannon shell as a reward!  The game played so fast with only four players (2 per side) that we switched sides and played again.  This time, my side still lost; however, I completed my unit's individual mission:  I retrieved the stolen plans and got them off the table.  (Of course, it took the sacrifice of both the UNIT soldiers to do so, but that's the level of commitment required to fight Daleks.)  And at the end of the game, all the players received a prize:  yes, these guys are the coolest.  I got the First Doctor, from Black Tree Design.  Yay!  Also, I didn't realize it at the time, but these rules are actually free to download.

The ruined landscape of London.
Classic Robomen.  Hey, I think that guys owes me money.  Yo, pay up, being a Roboman is no excuse.
The fearless Robomen open fire at the Resistance.  Fearless doesn't mean bulletproof, unfortunately.
Daleks prowl the streets, attended by Robomen.

The three pictures above illustrate what happens when you try to take on Daleks single-handedly.  "The Last Hope of Humankind" (who appears to be Charlie Manson!) merely draws their attention to himself.  He was actually able to run away around the corner, but then came back and ended up in the third picture, mano-y-Daleko.  Mano lose-o.
The Doctor does not appear in this game, but his TARDIS does.
The second game.  I'm the Resistance.  I had to get into this particular building in the middle of the board, get the "attack plans," and get them off my table edge.  I had two UNIT soldiers and one Resistance fighter.  Here, a UNIT soldier takes aim at a HUGE group of approaching Daleks and Robomen.  Holy cow!
A UNIT soldier blasts a Roboman.
Daily wins/losses:  Me 0, The Other Side 3.

For the last session, I played on the same table (the terrain was re-arranged) a game of 7TV.  This was The Man with Silver Hands and the Silver Nemeses.  The description:  "Remember all those bad films that played on Saturday Afternoon in the early 90’s and late 80’s.  Have you ever thought, why doesn’t that bad guy just kill James Bond?  This is that game.  Everything you loved
about the Prisoner, the Saint and pulpy spy television is here.  In the year 2000 two individuals fell back in time, the insane Doc Grinder (cybernetic fiend of tomorrow) and the mysterious man with silver hands.  Now in 2011 the endgame has come.  Doc has unleashed his horde of the “silver nemeses” on a small town taking the inhabitants as subjects for experimentation.  The man with the silver hands and Department X must stop Doc Grinder before he unleashes his sinister plan for world domination.  The rules are very simple to learn.  Be prepared for a general level of campy-ness and puns."

Interestingly, these rules are very nearly the same as DWMG, as they're written by the same folks, so the concepts and execution are very similar.  Doc Grinder was actually an NPC, so I took the role of a group of Metal-nauts, intent on showing the world that the cyber way of "life" is better than the squishy way most humans live it.  My squad of baddies (so-called, quote-unquote) technically lost (since they all died) but my sacrifice bought Doc Grinder the time he needed to activate his time machine and escape, thereby winning the game, and winning for me a real 20mm cannon shell!  Yay!

This game was GM'd by Brian G., and was a lot of fun.  I enjoy campy games, and this had lots of camp.  He also awarded prizes, and I received two miniatures:  Tweedy Mattison & WPC May Killan (aka, one of the newest Doctor Who's and companion).  Very cool.

Not-necessarily-London.  The Man with Silver Hands (TMWSH) must get from left to right.  My Metal-nauts must stop him.
Certain select humans were "honored" by Doc Grinder by being put in stasis, in anticipation of being turned into Metal-nauts.  TMWSH got points for freeing them.
Doc Grinder's Metal-nauts.  Hey, I think that guys owes me money.  Yo, pay up, being a Metal-naut is no excuse.
A very cool, removable-roof building, highly detailed.  My Metal-nauts aren't doing very well at this particular moment.
Metal-nauts fire at a Department X operative...and miss.
Somehow or another, I got two Metal-nauts into contact with TMWSH (center right of the picture).  And somehow or another, I had his neck in my metal vice-like grip.  I almost was able to kill him.  If you think this is out of the spirit of the game, let me draw your attention to the Event Description:  "Have you ever thought, why doesn’t that bad guy just kill James Bond?"  Well, that's what I was attempting to do.
As it turns out, I was not able to kill TMWSH.  In point of fact, he killed my Metal-naut.  But I had slowed ALL of the so-called Good Guys down long enough for Turn 10 to arrive, and then I rolled exactly what I needed for Doc Grinder to escape (I think it was a 6; the same as I had rolled to start the day when my cannon blew up; I could be mistaken.  But it was a very difficult roll to make, one that would become easier as Turns progressed.)  That blue star in the lower right is the gadgety machine propelling the Doc to safety.  Bwa-ha-ha-haaa!  Yay evil!
Daily wins/losses:  Me 1, The Other Side 3.

In the end, a good time was had by all (well, by me, at least).  My thanks to the guys of DFW Irregulars for putting this on each year.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 26, 2011

42. I Game in Public

As the title says, I game in public.  This may be hard to believe for those who know me in person, but I assure you it's true.

Back at the end of June my job put me in Columbus, OH, on the opening day of the Origins Game Fair, June 23rd.  It was purest coincidence but a wonderful coincidence at that.  I was able to attend only that one day, and it was literally last minute.  I dragged myself out of bed extra early and headed over.  Unbelievably my hotel was a mere ten minute walk away.  By the end of an hour, I had registered and signed up for two games.  I am usually a planner but this was all done on the fly.  I wandered the exhibit hall until it closed, bought some cool things, then headed over to my games.

Here are the pictures I took with my phone.  I took A LOT of pictures, but despite my phone having a higher megapixel count than my home camera it doesn't have the light sensitivity it could, so many photos came out blurry (it does very well in sunlight and static scenes; not so well with indoor lighting and movement, but it's a PHONE not a camera, so oh well).  I have not included all the pictures I took; I wouldn't inflict that kind of torture on you, my voluntary blog-reader!

One thing I confirmed for myself is that I won't do conventions alone any more, at least not by prior choice.  That's why I stayed home from Gencon this year:  no one to go with.  It's really not much fun wandering the con solo.  However, next year's plans are already in the works.  Fear not for my mental health.

The Welcome sign at the Exhibit Hall entrance.
Looking to the left of the Welcome sign near Badge Registration:  the stairs.  What I found cool is the projected images on the stair steps.  I'm not sure where the projectors were.  I thought it was pretty neat.
Inside the Exhibit Hall, near the paint & take tables.  I couldn't get an in-focus shot of the Hall very well.  It was a good-sized Hall for Origins, and there were a lot of big name vendors there, as well as some new names I hadn't heard much of before.  Apparently the Hall was sold out:  good news indeed in "this economy."
A really cool tapestry/rug by a vendor (sorry, don't remember who).
A cool VSF model.  I can't remember which booth it was at, or for which game.  I should have taken more notes; now it's been two months and I've forgotten everything.
The other side of the above picture, same booth.  It is difficult to make out, but it's a 3D VSF battle scene.
Victorian Science Fiction is making a huge come-back (has it been and gone already?), or perhaps that should read, is really getting popular now.  A booth of foam (but real-looking) swords, and various costumes.  One booth of about four, as I recall.
I love large gaming artwork.  I'm sure I've got a wall that would fit it, but I don't have a wife who would allow it.
Another booth of VSF costumes.  It seems the VSF crowd is more of a LARP-type of gamer, or at the least someone who likes to dress in costume, even if they don't play.  I wonder if the VSF gamer and the VSF costumer ever overlap?
A selection of rather pricey hats.  $80 for something I can ONLY wear at a game convention?  How do people justify the expense?
I almost bought the Beholder hat, but just couldn't quite convince myself to do so.
I got to play the first convention demo game of Tomorrow's War, by Ambush Alley Games, published by Osprey.  It was at the Osprey booth, and it was a verrrry simple scenario.  I have to admit it didn't do a lot to tell me about the game, but I have to give the presenter a little slack, in that it was THE first game so he was a trifle rusty on the rules.  From everything I've read about the game, it's one I will be picking up when it's published in October.
More VSF goodness:  prop hand guns.
A view of the right half of the Miniatures Gaming Hall.  There were a lot of tables, and while possibly 30% to 50% were empty, keep in mind it was only the first day of the con.

What follows here is a selection of the tables in the Miniatures Gaming Hall.

Very large table of naval gaming.
Some of the ships from the previous game's vendor.  Where would you store them???  How would you get them home???
A scratchbuild 'Mech terrain board.
A very cool layered depth table.
I overheard that the space dock was scratchbuilt.  Very cool.
The second game I played, a demo of a then-as-yet unpublished game called Leviathans by Catalyst Game Labs.  It is available for purchase now, I believe.  In this photo, it was so new they didn't have all the ships models yet.  I liked it.  VSF strikes again!
Another 'Mech-type table.  More cool SF terrain.
This was a very large table, or perhaps it's just that the miniatures were very small.  It was either Microarmor, or some other 1:6000 scale game.  There are a lot of tanks on that board!
My last game, and the one that took the longest to play:  Isandlwana, using the PIQUET: Din of Battle Supplement.
A grand scale battle, beautifully painted figures, lovely terrain.
I played the "chest" portion of the Zulu attack.  Part of the reason I wanted to play was because I have never been able to play this battle, but I was also very interested in the rules.  I have heard differing opinions of them and wanted to see for myself.
Now, there may be certain rules mechanics that are simplified for a convention game, but in the final analysis I don't think I will buy these rules for myself.  It was a well-run game by an umpire with plenty of experience, but the mechanics lacked what I felt was necessary for a sweeping, horde of warriors.  In the end, the British retained their position, and the outcome was never truly in doubt.  I am very glad I played, and if any Piquet defenders want to chime in and change my mind I am willing to listen.  I also realize one should not make a decision to like or dislike a set of rules after only one outing, but I don't see myself being able to play again...possibly ever.  No one near me plays them at all!
One of my biggest concerns was not buying too much.  I wanted to buy a lot more than I did, but not because I couldn't spend the money, but because I had no way to transport it home!  I hadn't packed in such a way to carry loads of gaming goodness with me, so I was very tight on space afterwards.  But I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

That's it for my (very late) Origins 2011 report.  It doesn't really show you what you missed so much as it helps me to remember what I did.  But thanks for reading, anyway!

Next up, a shorter report on a smaller con:  Skirmish 2011.