Tuesday 31 December 2019

Don't Look Back In Anger

As 2019 comes to an end it's time to review how I've done with my gaming resolutions for the year.

However, before getting to that, here's my last miniature of the year; a slave tech from Fallout.

As it's from the starter set, this miniature is cast in PVC and it suffers for that. The material seems to struggle with finer details like faces and, just like Reaper Bones, has mold lines that I don't see until the models are painted.

This was never going to be my favourite from the set, but he's done to an acceptable standard.

And now on to the resolutions I set for myself; let's see how I did...

1. No New Games - Fail

Despite my resilience earlier in the year in deciding to pass up the AVP game I won, the lure of new and shiny games got to me in the end. Pulp City, Rangers of Shadow Deep and Fallout: Wasteland Warfare have all dragged me into their orbits in recent months. In fairness, two of them are solo games and all three have a small model count, but a fail is a fail.

2. Finish Old Projects - Fail

I listed a number of games last year and I've only actually 'finished' one of them, Terminator: Genisys (by which I mean I don't have a backlog and have two fully painted forces). However, although I've painted some Batman and Dropzone Commander, I've actually bought more for each game, and I haven't touched the Walking Dead, Flames of War, Dropfleet Commander or my War of 1812 army, again.

3. Continue Solo Campaigns - Fail

Although I have entered into a cooperative Rangers of Shadow Deep campaign with my daughter, I didn't actually return to the solo campaigns I mentioned last year in the Walking Dead or Super Mission Force. I will return to these campaigns one day, but I'm still waiting for motivation to strike.

4. Paint More Than I Acquire - Fail

With the addition of the Slave Tech, a slight readjustment of what qualifies as a 'model' in the Mantic terrain I recieved, and a late secret Santa gift of an IS-2 tank (with infantry), the final score stands at a depressing 276-226.

226 is not a bad tally, and I have been somewhat hampered by Wargames Illustrated's constant stream of free sprues, but I've got into a slightly generous habit of giving these to people whole use them rather than hoarding. However this still wasn't enough to see the lead pile reduce.

5. Play & Paint More 7TV - Success

I've been to five 7TV events this year and played quite a few games with Matt as preparation and as a playtester for the Menagerie of Terror. I've painted more Masters of the Universe miniatures (and taken them to two events, winning best cast at one), loads of terrain, giant ants and a scorpion, a V cast, several vehicles, and numerous other miniatures. In fact, my focus on 7TV related projects is probably the reason I haven't made that much progress in other areas.

With such a weak performance this year, I'm going to keep things simple for 2020 and just have the one resolution.

I'm going to conquer the lead mountain!

Not the one in Colorado though.

I'm not going to get rid of the lead pile altogether, that would be crazy talk (let's not bring up Operation Unthinkable, m'kay?), but I am going to aim to finish off or get rid the backlog from those older projects that have been haunting me for several years. I'm also going to paint more than I acquire; and this time I'm going to build up a solid lead before Christmas ruins it.

And that's me signing off for 2019. Thanks for sticking with my meandering blog, and I wish you and yours a very happy new year and I'll see you on the other side.

On the plus side, my painting should improve as I will once again have 2020 vision!

Sunday 29 December 2019

Into The Wasteland

As mentioned in previous posts, I took advantage of a Black Friday deal to pick up Fallout: Wasteland Warfare with 50% off and it was wrapped up as a Christmas present.

To be honest, without the money off I probably wouldn't have bought the game as I really have no experience if the Fallout setting; I've never played any of the console games and I really first encountered Fallout through the board game about six months ago.

So why by Fallout: Wasteland Warfare, I hear you ask?

Well, firstly it was cheap. However, more importantly, I'd heard good things about the AI system, as, increasingly, any new game I buy needs to have a solo option simply because of the amount of other systems vying for time in our gaming group.

Additionally, I've been looking for something with a post-apocalyptic flavour (that isn't Mad Max of Zombies) use with 7TV:Apocalypse, and so if I don't like FWW, I'll still have an option for the miniatures and scenarios.

Speaking of miniatures, I've started into the 12 miniatures that came in the starter set. This first one is Aspirant Goddard, who belongs to something called 'the Brotherhood of Steel', however the miniature also seems to see use as other characters when they are wearing power armour.

On the subject of the power armour, I'm intrigued by the similarity between this suit and the later design of space marines (after the initial womble design). I'm curious as to whether GW might have been 'inspired' by Fallout, in the same was that the film Aliens possibly 'inspired' Space Hulk.

In terms of painting, Aspirant Goddard was pretty straightforward. I went for dry brushing the silver rather than washing to get a slightly more battered and scratchy look. I've also tried to use a brown wash in places to suggest wear and rust, but I don't think this has come out in the picture.

I'm actually really happy with him.

I'm also really happy with my two super mutant hounds.

It seems that the concept of 'super' mutants doesn't have the X-Men vibe that the term suggests. Rather, they are all large, strong and aggressive.

In terms of painting, I've kept things simple, using washes and dry brushing for the most part. The hardest part is doing the bases, as the models come attached to them.

If I have a gripe, it's about the material the miniatures in the starter set are made of. It's a pvc not dissimilar to the material used for Reaper Bones, which I've found to be fine for larger models like the hounds and Aspirant Goddard, but lacks definition for more detailed features, like faces, and so the smaller models will need more work. I've also contacted Modiphius about replacing one of the super mutants, which has a miscast face that lacks real detail.

However, given that Modiphius are apparently good about this sort of thing (watch this space), the rest of the box is nicely cast, and everything else in the range is cast in resin, I'm not overly worried about this.

I think I've given up on breaking even in my painting tallies by Wednesday, but I suppose I still need to chart my failure.

Acquired: 276
Painted: 225

Saturday 28 December 2019

They Came From The Sky...

I hope everyone has had a good Christmas. I have, and along with the required family time and food gobbling, I've been getting a bit more painting done.

I've painted three Marauder dropships for my Scourge Dropzone Commander army.

They're actually the last three models from the starter force I bought back in the summer (well, in truth, there's a spare Invader transport that I've used as a test piece that I need to work out what to do with).

I've used the same colour scheme as the rest of the force, although it looks very different in natural light. 

Now I've worked out what I'm doing, this should be a relatively fast way to get additional units done, and I'll need additional units as Pete and I are planning to play the Battle For Earth campaign with our respective Dropzone and Dropfleet armies. The games escalate in size and so it should give me plenty of impetus to add units in the future.

The only downside with these is that they were second hand. The person I'd bought them from had already stuck the widgets to the base of the models and so they've ended up with paint on during the many paint stripping processes they've been through. However, as they're underneath,  this shouldn't be a problem. Also, one of the flying stands is cloudy due to glue spillage and so I'll gave to swap that out with my Resistance flight stands when I play.

I'm waiting for drier weather to add a few coats of varnish to them as the tank models actually stack on them like a CD rack, and so I want to avoid the inevitable wear as much as possible.

You'd think that with all these Scourge done, I'd be sailing towards my goal of painting more models than I acquire, however, this happened...

...thanks Santa...

That's a grand total of 70 new models!


Acquired: 276
Painted: 222

I'd better get painting before Wednesday.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Tis the season for giving...

...your planet to us!

I've finally got around to painting the vehicles for my Scourge starter set for Dropzone Commander.

The reason fo this delay has been settling on how to approach them and a bit of a battle with the Fleshtearers Red contrast paint from GW.

The first issue was deciding on colour scheme. I didn't want to do them the same as my Dropfleet force as I'd got quite bored of that. I also wanted to have something that contrasted with my regular opponents' armies. Given that Matt's Shaltari are purple, Wes's PHR are blue, Mike's Scourge are black and Pete's got grey UCM and green PHR.

This left me with red (although its come out a bit orangey in the pictures), and, being lazy, I thought that the new contrast paints would save me a lot of work.

This was not the case.

Being cheap, I elected to avoid buying the ridiculously expensive 'specially formulated' spray paint, I experimented with sprays I already had.

Firstly, Army Painter white, not only came out too thick the first time (I'm not a fan of AP sprays) and the miniatures needed stripping. Then, when I'd done them again, the Fleshtearers Red came out a bit pinky. Time to strip again.

Then I tried a Humbrol Sea Grey, however this turned out too dark and you couldn't actually see any contrast.

Finally, having only done one of the transports, I elected to try dry brushing white over the grey before applying the contrast paint. This worked (too an extent, you can't really see it in the photos) and all that was left was to pick out details and apply washes, including Hexwraith Flame for the 'eyes' and weapons, as necessary.

All in all, I'm quite satisfied with them. I still have three flying transports to paint, but now I've worked out what I'm doing they should be quite quick once it's dry enough to use spray paints again.

I'll still need to pick up a command unit before I can field a game legal army, but adding individual units in Dropzone is much easier than batch painting.

I've also managed to pass on a free sprue from Wargames Illustrated to Mike and so things are once again moving in the right direction. However, I have a bad feeling that tomorrow might really hurt my tally...

Acquired: 206
Painted: 219

All that remains is to wish you and yours a happy Christmas. I'll see you on the other side for my round up of the year.

Saturday 14 December 2019

It's In My Nature

I'm a bit cheap.

You may have noticed.

I'm always looking for ways to save a bit of money in this hobby, and use things for more than one project. And so when the fact that Modiphius Games were selling the Fallout starter set at half price on Black Friday, I jumped at it. I'd been looking for some inspiration for post-apocalyptic gaming beyond Mad Max, and this fit the bill. 

The trouble is that the Fallout miniatures are really rather expensive, and so, as is my way, I looked for items in the lead pile that could expand my collection without breaking the bank...

A giant scorpion, or radscorpion in Fallour terms.

This model is from Crooked Dice and I picked it up as part of their Apocalypse Kickstarter earlier in the year.

I've painted it to fit with my giant ants as part of a big bug cast for 7TV, but it's also on the correct base size for Fallout.

Modiphius have actually released the unit cards for their first wave of models as a free pdf, which means I'll have no trouble using this in games.

Ultimately though, a giant scorpion has many potential uses (not quite as many as a giant spider), from ancient mythology to superhero adventures, so I'm sure this will get plenty of use.

It's only one painted, and I've also taken delivery of another miniature for my He-Man project this week, so the gap stays the same. The Fallout box has been wrapped up for Christmas, and so I'm not counting those models as acquired yet.

Painted: 211
Acquired: 207

Saturday 7 December 2019

Rolling Off The Production Line

One of my favourite things about the Terminator: Genisys game from River Horse is that even when I'm in a bit of a slow period for painting, I can still churn out a few T-800s to get back in the groove.

Here are six more...

Painted: 211
Acquired: 206

Monday 25 November 2019

The Exciting World of Cryptobiology and Pseudoscience

Welcome to our series of Open University lectures introducing the layman to two exciting, and often life-threatening, areas of avant-garde scientific research.

In this series, filmed recently at the Darley Dale centre for nuclear exploration and cake redistribution, we, the Lost Faculty of Cryptobiology and Pseudoscience from University of Salem, intend to exemplify, mystify, and horrify you in equal measure.

So sit back, tighten up those restraints and brace yourself as we take you to places you didn't know that you didn't know didn't exist...except they do!

Lecture 1 - Cryptobiology 101 (or 'How to Kill Monsters'), featuring test subject 'Phil'.

In this lecture we shall illustrate the dos and don'ts of destroying scientific test subjects that have got out of hand and need obliterating before the authorities find out and revoke your research grant.

We shall be ably assisted in this endeavour by the Red Shadiws display team, featuring the Guru and Destro.

Here you can see our team getting into position for the beginning of the demonstration. It's important to take every precaution to avoid accidental (or deiberate) deaths amongst the faculty.

And here you see the Red Shadows moving cautiously through terrain. This caution is wise as scientific aberrations can often breathe fire, spit venom or be fitted with heavy machine guns by over-enthusiatic undergraduates.

Another wise choice is the use of heavy weaponry, such as this laser-bazooka. Ironically, the best method of controlling destructive biological monstrosities created by scientists that think little of the consequences of their work can be unleashing destructive technological monstrosities created by scientists that think little of the consequences of their work.

In this case, the laser-bazooka's efficacy is shown by it's immediate demolition of a mutant fly (not shown on screen to avoid the inevitable PETA letters).

Here's another fairly basic principle demonstrated by Destro: never approach a monstrosity alone. Faceless minions should always accompany you so that they can be eaten first.

Try, if at all possible to approach from the rear of the beast, and stay away, as much as possible, from any sharp edges or prehensile appendages.

During your approach, a liberal application of ballistic weaponry can be effective. Although this can seem ineffectual, over time you have the potential to wear down your target.

However, you must always be conscious that despite taking all sensible precautions, monstrosities often show preciously unobserved abilities that allow them to slip through your carefully constructed trap and slip away to a nearby roof, sewer system or elevator.

Also, if a monstrosity is this close to your laser-bazooka operative, mistakes have been made.

In fact, proximity should be avoided when dealing with anything with claws, scales, tentacles or potentially contagious skin conditions.

Be aware that not all threats are horrifically ugly or easily identified visually. Here, the bright pink slime creature is an obvious threat, however the Red Shadows operative has been momentarily distracted by our appealing foreign exchange student, Ivana Benderova.

This distractingly sexy, yet strangely cold and emotionless Russian twentysomething catching his eye is enough to allow the slime creature to close with him.

Remember the earlier point about proximity?

Also, you must hold your nerve, even when a monstrosity appears where you least expect it. Keep up your fire, as some shots will penetrate the creature's hide.

Here we see the consequences of careless proximity as Destro and his minion are eviscerated and dissected.

It is important when facing scientific aberrations to keep a cool, rational mind and remain dispassionate; avoid recklessly fleeing for your life, as this will achieve nothing. Here you can see the Guru and his Lieutenant keeping calm despite the dismemberment of their associates.

This scientific detachment will allow you to achieve your goals in stressful situations, as seen here. The Guru calmly extracts himself from combat and opens fire on the creature, inflicting a killing blow thanks to the damage inflicted earlier in the process.

This represents successful outcome as now the clean up can commence and plausible deniability can be maintained.

When seeking to remove evidence of your work, just remember this formula:

Success = (Tenacity - Proximity)Bazooka

Lecture 2 - The Application of Force, featuring test subject 'David'.

Obviously, being able to maintain a respectable front and clean up after ourselves is important, but what most aspiring pseudoscientists want to know, is how to unleash their work upon an unsuspecting world that hates and fears them.

For this demonstration we shall be unwillingly 'assisted' by a group of religious zealots, of the sort that often hinder our work. These were transported from the 1800s through a prototype temporal portal which has been commissioned by the Conservative Party to allow them to send Jacob Rees Mogg back.

One important lesson to learn is that zealous mobs love to get close to our creations in order to tear them down with pitchforks and poorly constructed theological arguments.

We should encourage this, as it allows us to use the advice about proximity in the previous lecture to our advantage.

However, be careful to ensure that proximity is only achieved with the fascinatingly deadly fruits of our labour, and not the research team.

Be aware that not all mobs come armed only with farm implements, therefore take steps to protect your creations until proximity is achieved.

It can be beneficial to allow ethical opponents to feel like they are getting the upper hand before you strike. However, be careful that you don't give too much ground in the early stages.

Also be conscious that after you've unleashed your beast to devastating effect upon a fanatic mob, they may seek out less dangerous targets, such as yourself, and avoid further confrontation with your creations.

In these circumstances you should deploy fast moving servitors to track them down and continue to discuss vigorously.

You may need to divide your team and set them different objectives. Trust that independence encourages competence. Don't seek to micromanage.

However, there comes a time when concentration of force allows you to apply the greatest pressure on a crucial nexus of resistance.

If you don't do this, you could find loopholes in your methodology exploited.

Also, bunkers work best if you stand inside them, not behind them.

Ultimately, remember that your work is the result of your academic superiority, and that the more you can keep sceptics focused on it and not you, the more successful you will be.

Because logical argument combined with lethally sentient aberrations will eventually win any debate convincingly.

Lecture 3 - The Struggle to Secure Funding, featuring test subject 'Shaun'.

Although both exhilarating and newsworthy, the cutting edge study of Cryptobiology somehow fails to attract corporate sponsors, and so when the opportunity to fund new research arises, it should be firmly grabbed with both tentacles (along with any vestigial mandible you might possess).

Government Quangos, for example Department X, can often beat genuinely adventurous scientists who want to push the boundaries of society to grants and bursaries.

First example, this bunch of pedestrian labrats are seeking support for 'Spectrum R&D'. Honestly! What's to research and develop, they're just colours!

It's important, when seeking funding, to not be to open about your greatest achievements so far. This allows them to be unveiled as early successes that can make an investor feel like they are getting an immediate return.

It's important to get to an investor before your competitors, and so Ms Benderova gets to the money first.

You should seek to frustrate a rival's advances whilst making your own persuasive points, as demonstrated by the team obstructing Dr Hugo Solomon, whilst Professor von Schteppyonde discusses risks and opportunities.

Be aware that your competitors may seek different angles of approach and you should take steps to obstruct these so that you can make your case. Self-replicating slime creatures are excellent in this respect.

Strong argument, delivered with forceful passion can be quite overwhelming. A sudden stunning strike by Dr Kurtz, followed up by unleashing the worm was very persuasive.

This secures the trust of the potential investor.

Be aware that any parts of your bid that go out on a limb can be exploited by rivals. Here Dr Kurtz is exposed by the Spectrum researchers.

However, even at this point you should be aware of late bids being snuck in.

Here you can see slime creatures duplicating to secure the route of advance.

All you need to do is prevent any arguments being made to you investor that can sway him from supporting you. The slime creatures do not need to survive as you can make more.

Ultimately, you must remember when to show your hand and when to conceal it, as sponsors do not want to be associated with the less savoury aspects of our work. Here, the worm attacks the Spectrum operatives and then is cleverly disguised as an inflatable outside of a car showroom.

Finally, planting operatives in your opponent's operation can be used to frustrate their bids. Here, Colonel White reveals his true allegiance by shooting Corporal Black in the back of the head.

At the end of this series we should stress that if you are able to secure funding, cover your tracks and use your creations with brutal efficiency, then a brilliant career in Cryptobiology and Pseudoscience awaits.

I'm aware that this is one of my more bizarre event reports, but it was the 'Open University' 7TV Day held by the Dale's Wargames Club. A really fun day where the aim was having fun and teaching new players. Big thanks to my opponents, Phil, David and Shaun, and especially to James and the other club members for organising it.