Saturday, December 28, 2013

[Epic] Traitor Titans of the Legio Mortis

I actually completed these guys a few weeks ago, but only just got around to taking photos of them.

These are the first of the Warlord Titans I picked up through eBay earlier this year. I've painted them up for use with Adeptus Titanicus as members of the traitor titan legion of Legio Mortis. In due time, these will become Chaos Titans of Nurgle, but in the AT continuity they are still more or less closer to their human roots. Nevertheless, I loaded these guys up with as many chaos-like weapons as I could lay my hands on.

My goal in painting these was to give them as much detail and care as I wished I could have when I painted my first Warlords as a young lad. Back then I wanted very much to do a full complement of banners, flags, and pennants, as well as scale-appropriate paint jobs, and I'm quite pleased with how I was able to realize those goals. I found a fun way of making sturdy banners by using plastic from blister packs and a bit of heat from a candle flame to shape the plastic into billowing forms. I used jewelry chain to hang the banners, as suggested in the AT rulebook - it looks great, although it's a bit flimsy and I anticipate much breakage and repair in future games. Ah well. The disruption pattern (modeled on World War I German designs) sported by the Legio Mortis, as nice as it turned out, nearly proved my undoing.

My next project in my Epic collection will be to paint up four more Warlords from the loyalist Legio Metalica. Fortunately, those guys don't sport disruption patterns on their carapace, so things should go a bit faster.

Here they come...

I'll have to come up with names for each Titan, I think.

The disruptive camo pattern: Never. Again.

The groups' Praetorian. He's set up for long-range bombardment and support.

Tentacular action!

A vague fly-head suggests this Titan's future as a servant of Nurgle.

This guy might be my favorite. Chainsaws, chainsaws, chainsaws!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Missing Out on the Painting Challenge

I discovered the excellent Analogue Hobbies blog last year, right after Curt launched his annual Painting Challenge. I watched in fascination as entry after entry poured in and resolved to get in on the action the following year.

Unfortunately, as I had missed the beginning of the Challenge, I had also missed the point that it's a "historicals only" affair. Had I known, I would have reserved more historical figures for this time of year, instead of knocking them out earlier in the fall. I've still got a small pile of WWII figures to work on, but it's only a couple dozen or so - not really enough to justify (in my mind) joining the Challenge. I want a big project to tackle so that the Challenge will motivate me!

I think I'm going to set my sights on building up such a project over the next year, so that I'll have a nice, impressive pile to dive into. I've been meaning to start a 6mm Great Northern War project; winter 2014 seems like a perfect time to get cracking on that.

In the meantime, I've been laboring (and I do mean laboring) over my first batch of vintage (and distinctly non-historical) Warlord Titans, part of the batch acquired back in May. I've been incredibly pleased with how they're turning out, but oh my word it's taking a long time. Disruptive camo patterns: never again.

I'm hoping to finish up the batch by the weekend and post pics then.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Operation Squad Mini-Review & AAR - "Bloody Orchard"

Is there anything sweeter than actually bringing a miniatures project to the table for the first time?

Back in May of 2012, I decided to get back into WWII skirmish gaming. I've done this genre at 15mm and 20mm before, but I wanted to go all out with 28mm this time and I've been incredibly happy with the scale. So much so that it's been quite frustrating having to wait for the day I had the requisite terrain and painted miniatures before I could get a game going.

That day finally came today, and I had a blast. Dave, one of my RPG group regulars (and fellow podcaster) had expressed an interest in miniatures wargaming, and had worked the camera during my last outing against Des, so I invited him over for a game of Operation Squad.

My primary interest these days for games up to platoon level is actually TWG's Nuts!, but as I had enough painted minis for an OS game and I was curious how the OS mechanics would play out, I chose that set of rules to break in my new terrain and figures. All in all, I liked OS quite a bit. There were only a couple minor oversights of the rules, and the game played quickly despite its highly-detailed focus. 

We played the first scenario from the main rules ("Recon"), but I replaced the building objective with an orchard, as I'm still waiting on delivery of some MDF buildings. I played the British (Rifle Squad), my opponent took the Germans (Panzergrenadiers). And I was handed my ass - by the end of the game, 5 of my number (including the squad's corporal and lance corporal) lay dead, a sixth was wounded, and the rest were fleeing the field, leaving the Germans in possession of the orchard.

However, I definitely bloodied Jerry's nose, killing three of his veteran squad, including the squad leader. The turning point of the game came round about the fifth turn, when my corporal, who had bravely rushed up to the orchard wall, lobbed a Mills bomb towards one of the German MG42s. The deviation dice were kind, and the grenade went off nearby the machine-gunner and two other Landsers. Unfortunately, due to the grenade having landed on the far side of the wall, it failed to cause any wounds. The next turn, the MG42 started speaking, and it had very little nice to say to the British.

(Seriously, the game was pretty much over once those two MG42s got going. Good lord, I knew it was going to be rough, but it was still shocking to see how much damage those things can do.)

Partly because this was our first game with these rules, I went with a very basic build for my squad, purchasing Marksman for my rifles and three Wait maneuvers. As it was, my points would have been much better spent on a mortar or Vickers HMG. I didn't get much firing action with riflemen, and I completely failed to play in a manner that would've taken advantage of the Wait maneuvers, instead rushing forward to try and capture the orchard. Clearly, I would've been better off standing back and using a combination of my Waits and sharpshooting chaps to pull the Germans into a trap. Lesson learned.

Like any WWII skirmish game, effective play of Operation Squad seems to benefit greatly from playing to the strengths of the nationality you're deploying. Obviously, where points allow you some choices, force construction can be a decisive element, too. The casualty rate was, I think, higher than a normal game - we were both rolling abysmally with our cover dice, so most hits were kills. We didn't get a single Pinned result between the two of us! We also didn't get a chance to have a figure on Fire orders interrupt an enemy's movement, but we got a good feel for most of the other basic rules. The game, as expected, proved to be quite counter heavy, but it's a price I'm willing to pay as it means no paperwork for the forces on the table. I've seen some people use 3-D markers, and I might look into doing that. Another idea would be to stack differently colored 25mm discs under the figures, although that might be too fiddly at the end of the day. I'll have to give it some thought.

(One final note before we get to the pictures: I broke one of my own rules by using partially-painted figures on the table. I had some casualty figures that I hadn't quite completed, but we decided to use them anyway. Even half-painted, the casualty markers really added to the aesthetic of the game, and I'll definitely be ordering and painting up some more.)

At any rate, here are some shots of the action. Both forces moved up along the hedgerows towards the orchard, the Germans occupying it first and never relinquishing it.

The battlefield layout.

The first half-painted casualty marker makes its appearance!

So close, so far - my valiant lance corporal lobs his Mills bomb.

Right before the MG42 opened up from inside the orchard.

The bloody aftermath. 

From behind a hedgerow, the survivors look on in horror, their nerves failing them.

The one sweet spot for the British: the German squad leader lies dead.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Latest WWII Output

After a couple false starts, my minor reboot of my WWII skirmish forces has been a great success. I'm quite satisfied with my work on these figures - or at least as satisfied as I can be, given that I'm trying some things for the first time - and I'm really liking using Artizan for the vast majority of my figures. They're full of character, and, of course, they all scale well with each other.

I've now got sufficient forces painted up for a game of Operation Squad. I've been focusing my efforts on finishing up a couple terrain projects - hedgerows and a farm complex, namely - and am very close to having a game-ready collection. The RPG campaign I've been running with my wife since 2010 is due to wrap up in the next couple weeks, after which I see lots more time for minis gaming. I can't wait!

In the meantime, here's what I've got painted up so far: a British rifle squad, Vickers HMG, and light mortar team (all Durham Light Infantry), and two German Aufklarungs half-squadrons (Panzer Lehr). This is actually slightly more than I need for a game of OS, but it gives the British side some nice force-building options.

I got to take my first crack at splinter camo pattern on the helmets. It ain't great, but it's a good start.

That squad leader front and center is easily one of my all-time favorite minis. So much character: the cigarette, the Mauser pistol with the rifle stock attachment, the wristwatch - he's even got an Iron Cross hanging from his throat. Plus his smock gave me more opportunity to work on my splinter camo technique.

Despite previous posts decrying fancy basing, I decided to have some fun with the support weapon bases. In the words of Doc Holliday, apparently my hypocrisy knows no bounds. 
It wouldn't be Normandy without some dead cows, so why not incorporate it into the light mortar base?

I did a little conversion work with the infantry here - Artizan Brits don't sport any netting on their helmets, and it was fairly common in Normandy, so I modeled some on a select few - another goal of mine is to get handier with sculpting putty.
I also couldn't resist taking a crack at painting up a Panther. This was my first pass with painting 1/56 scale armor, and I quite enjoyed it. For the camo I employed a mix of airbrush and drybrush. I expect that as my airbrush skills get better, I'll use that more and more until eventually that's all I'll use for the base colors. I'm also thinking about adding some foliage to the hull and turret.

The tank commander is mounted on a rare earth magnet, so he's removable and movable.

I've gone ahead and ordered some more vehicles and guns (250/1 halftracks for my German scouts, an 88, a 6-pounder, etc.) and will be adding a painted squad of Brits and some support elements to each side in order to enable games of NUTS! or perhaps Chain of Command (which I have yet to check out but looks totally awesome). Pictures of these reinforcements will follow as they're completed, of course.

The title for the British edition of NUTS!

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Why I'll Always Be An Aesthetic Snob

I've posted before on the aesthetic appeal of miniatures games being one of the primary draws of the hobby for me. So you can imagine how gratified I was to read a post over at The League of Ausburg stating the very same. Best quote of the post:
If this is wargames porn then I am a pornographer without shame. Enjoy my dark secret and damn the eyes of wargaming's Mary Whitehouse Brigade. Mediocrity breeds the same.
I couldn't agree more.

Games featuring unpainted figures or, worse, proxies are the sort of affairs best conducted behind drawn curtains, with many a backwards glance over the shoulder. "I'm just testing out the new rules for this unit I haven't ordered yet, honest!" Games featuring unpainted or proxy figures run in public?

For me, the work I put into building the aesthetic appeal of miniatures games is sort of the point of the hobby itself. Otherwise I might as well be playing hex-and-chit wargames or their computer equivalents. To my mind, it's worth gaming less if it means each individual game looks better. (And, honestly, my [in]frequent gaming is due more to the fact that minis aren't my primary hobby; insistence on high-quality tabletop presentation need not be a barrier to frequent gameplay if minis are your main concern.)

We live in a world of instant gratification. I see no problem with taking my time on this one thing, and of experiencing the payoff of my hard work; of seeing my painting and terrain-building efforts get better and better over time, and of reveling in the uniquely thrilling beauty of a fully-realized tabletop layout.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

On the Higher Standards of Being a Hobbyist

I've been involved in the miniatures hobby in some capacity or another for over 20 years now. Just a babe in the woods compared to a lot of old salts, but still long enough to see fads come and go and long-term trends play out. One of the trends I've been most simultaneously fascinated and disturbed by has been the rising standard in what's considered "acceptable" for a rank-and-file, wargame-ready miniature in terms of painting and presentation. Apparently I'm not alone (PDF link). Quoth Mr. Priestly:
Now, I’m not suggesting that this perpetuation of a style and quality of presentation is a bad thing. In so many ways, it is a very good thing, and an entirely positive way of presenting our hobby, both to fellow hobbyists and to prospective ones.  
The reason why all this leaves me feeling a little hollow is simply this – I know I can’t do it! Where, once, I could paint an army with a certain sense of individualism, with confidence, and with pride in the finished result, now I sometimes despair of picking up the paintbrush and showing the results to my fellow gamers.
There can be no doubt that the standard for wargaming miniatures has risen steadily since the dawn of the hobby. An interesting observation made in the essay is that the rising standard has also led to increased homogenization of style. I tend to agree. I certainly wish these days we'd see more John Blanches or Bryan Ansells held up as worthy standards of aspiration alongside the McVeys and the Dallimores.

Interestingly, my personal bugbear is not painting, per se, but basing. It's my own version of "back in my day . . .". Wellsir, back in my day, ya painted the base green, ya slapped some glue on the top (or, if you were really lazy/painting a big unit, you just used the paint while it was still wet as an adhesive), and ya dipped the base in a bag of Woodland Scenics flock and called it good enough. You did this even for your centerpiece figures, your exquisitely-painted masterpieces. But somewhere along the way, it was decided that bases needed as much attention as the figure itself. First it was texturing bases with gravel and stone. Then it was adding static grass. Now it's adding flowers and bushes and skulls and whatever else until the base becomes a miniature in its own right.

And in that, I echo Priestly's lament. Painting figures for the joy of it has always been a big part of the hobby for me (always secondary to actually playing, mind). But, even though I've gone along with the crowd along the Fancy Basing Road, it's enervating, just like in the quote above; the daunting task of spending another 30 minutes on a "proper" base after finishing with the figure. Basing used to be my favorite part of miniatures painting, because it was quick and easy while still giving the figure a nice "finished" look - putting the bow on, so to speak. Now it's my least favorite task.

Back when I was collecting old Grenadier and Ral Partha figures for my Fantasy Warriors armies, I intentionally used a more old-fashioned basing method (as pictured above), and it was a welcome relief. And yet I continue to base all my other figures in the latter-day styles. Because, let's face it, it looks good. I just wonder sometimes if there's a middle ground.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Armies of Arcana Battle Report #5

Nat-Li, priestess of Athena, stood by the banks of the flowing river, staring down at the ripples that washed near her sandaled feet. It was cold up here in the mountains, the more so for it being just before dawn. The sky overhead was pale gray and she could hear the sounds of the army forming up for battle behind her. Scouts had returned bearing news that the undead host of the feared necromancer Germanotta was trudging its way through this riverine pass and the decision had been made to spring an ambush.
Germanotta. She wasn't always known by that name. Not back when they were little, when they had played together as sisters in the hall of their parents... But that was a long time ago, Nat-Li thought. Now the sorceress commanding an army of abominations was her sister in name only. Today she would see this stain on the family's honor expunged!
It's been nearly two years since I've had the opportunity to play a full-fledged miniatures game. It's been my intention to start playing more in the latter half of this year, and as I was reading through old battle reports on this blog a couple weeks ago, feeling nostalgic for good times past, I realized the time had come at last. So the wife and I sat down for a good old-fashioned epic fantasy slugfest this afternoon, with the always-capable Atomic Banana operating the camera and providing color commentary. Let's look at some pictures, shall we?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

On the Importance of Fluff

I'm re-reading the Adeptus Titanicus rulebook and old Epic battle reports from White Dwarf and, in so doing, I'm being reminded of the value of "fluff" (ugh, sorry to use that term) in miniatures gaming. Lining up armies and having a bash is all well and good, but the games take on a much deeper meaning if there's some sort of background to the conflict and the forces involved. An extra dimension is added. It's why I'm not just painting up generic "Normandy" miniatures for my WWII project, but instead choosing a time and place (the fighting around Tilly-sur-Seulles during the first week after D-Day) and modeling units accordingly. Thus, it's not just "British", it's men of the 6th Durham Light Infantry; it's not just "Germans", it's panzergrenadiers of the Panzer Lehr Division. All of this adds an extra level of immersion to the game, even if the battles themselves are not based on any actual engagement.

Something that's long been missing from my fantasy wargaming (first with Fantasy Warriors and now with Armies of Arcana) has been this sense of background immersion. I was going back through old posts and noticed that in my very first FW battle report (which was also the very first post on this blog), I wrote a bit of game fiction in the style of those old White Dwarf battle reports. I'd like to get back to doing that once I start gaming and posting battle reports again in earnest, but without a clear idea of a game world that the battles are taking place in, it's tough to do that.

Part of the problem has been getting a fix on what this fantasy world might look like based on the miniatures in our collection so far. A few weeks ago I posted that, in the wake of Ray Harryhausen's death, I was coming to realize that our Undead and Amazon armies convey a pretty strong vibe of pulp fantasy. That vision has only grown stronger in the time since, growing to the point that I'm now envisioning a sort of Appendix N-style fantasy world of amazons, necromancers, cavemen, and dinosaurs, all with a healthy dose of post-apocalyptic fantasy thrown into the mix. I've got visions of making some terrain pieces of "futuristic"-style ruins, maybe a half-buried spaceship, and of tracking down some vintage fantasy miniatures armed with sci-fi blasters and such.

To illustrate the value of even a bit of fluff: as soon as I'd figured out even a background as vaguely-sketched as this, I immediately came up with an idea for a third fantasy army, a project I've been wanting to put together for some years now. I've toyed with various ideas: crusading knights, "regular" dwarves, "feral" dwarves, "Roman" gorillas, Wargods of Aegyptus, and so forth, but they all felt too much like bog standard fantasy or, at best, a thinly-veiled derivative. With my pulp fantasy idea, though, I instantly thought of a perfect third project: cavemen and prehistoric animals! I haven't decided if I'm gonna go with "early" hominids and dinosaurs (as in the style of the Frazetta painting above) or "later" hominids and Ice Age mammals (certainly, a woolly mammoth or two on the caveman side would form a suitable counterpart to my Undead Mammoth). But whatever the case, it certainly feels right. I love the idea of there being this degenerate race of savage cave dwellers as a counterpoint to the bronze-clad Amazons, and I really like the various caveman miniatures I've looked at so far. I don't know why I never thought of doing a Frazetta-esque fantasy army before, particularly in light of the Amazons and their curvy general, but it's on now!

Or rather it will be once I clear a project or two off my table--hoping to get started on this one maybe by fall or winter. In the meantime, I'm hoping to fill in some of the details of this Appendix N fantasy world that's brewing in my head.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Current Projects Update

Here's the most recent shot of my work area. Two of my current projects are easily discernible; the third might be a bit harder to pick out, still being largely in bags, but it is, ironically, my current obsession.

  • The Normandy project is moving along nicely. Shortly after posting those pictures of painted Highlanders, I decided that consistency of scale was more important to me than I had realized and I resolved to limit myself to a single manufacturer as much as possible. I plumped for Artizan, and all the figures have since arrived, been based, and primered. (And as a change of pace, I'm taking the advice of several other bloggers and doing the base texture before I paint the figures. Should be interesting to see how that pans out.)

    As an old fan of Necromunda and Mordheim, I couldn't be more pleased that the figures currently occupying space on my table constitute the entirety of what I need to play Operation Squad. Of course I plan on expanding by adding other squads and eventually moving into the game's vehicular supplement (see the primered Panther over on the left?) as well as playing larger, platoon-scale games of NUTS! once my collection gets big enough, but I'm loving the small scale that the basic OS game offers. Next up: ordering a few buildings from Paper Terrain, finishing up a couple other terrain-related odds and ends, and then playing some games! Hoping to realize the latter goal by the end of summer at the latest.
  • Up on top of the plastic drawers sits another skirmish-level project, my 28mm samurai. I'm looking forward to Osprey's Ronin rules, but if those aren't quite what I'm looking for, I've always got Taiko. In fact, I'm planning on basing my samurai with magnets so that I can mount them in scenic movement trays in the style of Impetus to do larger-scale Taiko battles even if I end up using Ronin for my skirmish games. I plan on working on these guys slowly but surely, mostly as a colorful relief from the earth tones of my Normandy project.
  • Lastly, there's the surprise project: my return to Epic-scale 40K. I posted back when I made an impulse purchase of a heap of classic Titans on the subject of my abiding love for Epic gaming and the many good times that Space Marine provided. Well, my old adversary Alex and I have been furiously exchanging emails, planning out our return to the fold. Amazingly, I just last week landed a complete boxed set of Adeptus Titanicus (styrene buildings and all!) for less than half of what I paid for it 20 years ago. And I've been slowly acquiring other pieces for my quickly-expanding collection, all the while trawling NetEPIC and ginning up armies. The plan in place right now is to build a Titan Legion/Space Marine army and paint up a few traitor titans as well - I've already picked out legions and paint schemes and can't wait to get started on that. The long-term goal is to build up an Ork army with my three old Gargant models as centerpieces. Alex is putting together a Knight-based Adeptus Mechanicus army with his long-term goal being the fielding of an Eldar army similar to the one he had in days of yore.

    This way we can play both the original Adeptus Titanicus rules with a handful of titans per side or have nice big bashes with NetEPIC armies. We only manage to get together about once a year at best (living 1,000 miles apart tends to put a crimp in social plans), but we're already planning to bring our tiny little armies along for whenever it is we see each other.
Oh, and I've also got plans for a third Armies of Arcana project, but that's projected to be a ways down the road and will warrant a post of its own, coming up shortly.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Twenty Questions

Who am I to turn down an opportunity for solipsistic introspection? Actually, I've never really done a proper introductory post for this blog, and this seems to fit the bill nicely. Thanks to Thantsants for posting his answers and inspiring me to do the same!

Yours truly, plus dog.
1. Favorite wargaming period and why?

I think based simply on the number of years I've doggedly attempted to game the period, World War II. All sorts of figure scales, engagement scales, rules, etc., have been attempted with varying degrees of success, but in the end I've thoroughly enjoyed the ride thus far. And it wasn't even my idea! A friend suggested we look into the genre shortly after we decided to ditch Games Workshop and go historical. I knew very little about the period outside the cod-Hollywood version everyone grows up with. Over 15 years later and there's still tons to learn from both a historiographical and wargaming perspective!

2. Next period, money no object?

Oh, don't tempt me! Seriously, though - I'd probably want to throw together another couple armies for my fantasy collection. I feel pretty satisfied (for now) in terms of historical miniatures.
ETA: I got bit, dammit! Great Northern War, 6mm. The "money no object" bit would simply have to do with the size of the collection.

3. Favorite 5 films?

Hmmm. These sorts of lists are always "of the moment" as far as I'm concerned. And so, in no pertikler order:

  • Excalibur
  • Return of the Living Dead
  • Porco Rosso
  • Evil Dead 2
  • Tombstone

4. Favorite 5 TV series?

Same rules apply as the movie selections (although The Simpsons will always be on the list, I think):

  • The Simpsons
  • Arrested Development
  • The Twilight Zone
  • Venture Bros.
  • The IT Crowd

5. Favorite book and author?

John Bellairs is an under-appreciated prose stylist, both in juvenile fiction and his one adult book.

And it may sound silly, but I could read The Sword of Samurai Cat by Mark E. Rodgers over and over again. (And indeed I have.)

6. Greatest general? Excluding oneself!

That's a thinker. I don't usually engage in those sorts of Great Man all-star competitions. Based on personality alone, I'm gonna have to go with Julius Caesar, magnificent bastard that he was.

7. Favorite wargames rules?

Whatever's currently caught my fancy!

Seriously, though: in terms of number of awesome games delivered, the 2nd edition Space Marine rules never disappoint, although they can be a bit clunky. In terms of elegant, flexible design, my money's on Armies of Arcana.

8. Favorite sport and team?

I don't follow sports, like, at all. But I have to admit I was quite captivated by the Ladies' Water Polo matches during the last Summer Olympics...

9. If you had a one use only time machine, when and where would you go?

Okay, seriously, this is just cruel. I'd be so paralyzed by all the "big" choices, I'd probably just end up going back to 1870s New York to have lunch at Delmonico's. I get to come back, or is it a one-way trip? If it's the latter, then I'm quite happy where I am now, thanks.

10. Last meal on Death Row?

For old time's sake (long story) I'd go for two Choco-Tacos and a bag of Gummy Worms.

11. Fantasy relationship and why?

I'm going to steal the answer provided by another blogger and say my maternal grandfather. He died of lung cancer while I was still an infant, so I never got to know him, but all indications are that a big part of my personality and temperament, to say nothing of my interests, map very closely to his. Don't smoke, kids.

12. If your life were a movie, who would play you?

My wife has reliably informed me that any role modeled on my life could be ably handed to Colin Firth for an eerily accurate rendition.

13. Favorite comic superhero?

Much to my chagrin, I've never been able to get into mainstream superhero comics. On the other hand, anything by the Hernandez brothers is likely to catch my interest.

14. Favorite military quote?

While I was recuperating after a surgical mishap last year, I re-read John Keegan's The Face of Battle (getting cut open made me want to read about other people getting blown up, I guess) and I jotted down this quote, which pretty much sums up why I game primarily at skirmish level:
'Battle', for the ordinary soldier, is a very small-scale situation which will throw up its own leaders and will be fought by its own rules...
For a long time, though, my favorite "military" quote has been one provided by H. G. Wells, commenting on why he (like me), could claim himself a pacifist and still enjoy playing wargames:
Lead soldiers leave neither lead widows nor lead orphans.
15. Historical destination to visit?

Does the entire continent of Europe count? Because I'd like to spend a few years doing that.

16. Biggest wargaming regret?

Don't think I haven't thought about this! On a practical level, it's the fact that my years of Games Workshop fandom coincided almost perfectly with their greatest nadir of creativity and quality (a.k.a. the mid-90s) and that I ditched the GW hobby right before they started getting good again!

On a more conceptual level, my greatest regret is that for far too long I haven't had more time to devote to this particular hobby.

17. Favorite fantasy job?

Brilliantly successful hermit/novelist.

18. Favorite 5 songs?

I'm going to cheat on this one and just go to my Last.FM profile and see what the numbers have to say, then pick from among the top tracks. These aren't necessarily my favorite-favorite songs, but they're certainly songs I've seen fit to listen to a lot!

19. Favorite wargaming moment?

I'm 14 years old. I'm playing Warhammer with my friend Alex. He's got his High Elves, I've got my Empire army. Both armies are maybe 1,000 points and we've got probably three or four games under our belts. He's recently acquired the Silver Helms boxed set and they're the centerpiece of his growing army. I use my Knights Panther to draw the Silver Helms into a charge...that takes them right across the field of fire of my own recently-acquired Volley Gun. Three rolls of the artillery die later and the Silver Helms were no more than a delicately-floating crimson mist. I was hooked on miniatures wargaming forever.

20. The miserable git question, what upsets you?

Like everyone else, I've got a whole passel of petty hang-ups and irritations. But in the end, what really upsets me is when we, as a species, keep making the same mistakes over and over and over again, often, it seems, at greater and greater cost. Thinking about that too much, though, just makes me want to go off and paint some miniatures.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

I won! I won!

Holy crap, I totally won that prize draw I posted about in a previous entry! This is an especially soothing balm since just yesterday I got effing sniped on an eBay auction I thought I was going to win, a set of Citadel giaks from their "Giak Attack" boxed set, part of the limited Lone Wolf range put out in conjunction with the game books. I've been after those figures for a couple years now, and for once the rate on the auction was reasonable enough that I could put in a bid without having to take out a personal loan from my bank first. And then some jackass came in at literally the last second (damn you, eSnipe!) and stole my precious giaks out from under me.

Ah, but now I have an even bigger pile of vintage Citadel goodness coming my way! And I'll get those giaks one day. One day...

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Minis Giveaway (No, Not Here...)

Seems like it's becoming a thing for miniatures-gaming bloggers to give away some of their backlogged figures in observance of some milestone or another being reached. I have no problem with this trend (and may take part in it myself some day if I happen to reach a suitably celebratory point), but I rarely see items that I can truly justify adding to my collection.

Ah, but Mike of Trouble at T'Mill has finally tempted me with today's prize, and so I'm putting in a vote to try and win some vintage, pre-slotta Citadel figures. They'd go great with my growing "Magnamund" collection, of which I'll probably write about one of these days.

At any rate, head on over and check out the contest. Only, if you sign up for today's prize, be sure to plump for Commissar Yarrick - those "Brettonians" are mine!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

An Epic Acquisition

Adeptus Titanicus was the second miniatures game I ever bought, and in many ways it's responsible for my miniatures wargaming hobby.

The game came out in 1988 and was (I believe) Games Workshop's first "epic" (i.e. 6mm) scale game. Set in their Warhammer 40,000 continuity, but thousands of years earlier during the Horus Heresy, it was a game of giant robot combat, which naturally appealed to my young adolescent sensibilities when I saw it sitting on the game store shelf. I still remember walking out of the store with the box tucked under my arm.

When I got home, the game contained within did not fail to disappoint. It came with four expanded polystyrene buildings and six plastic Warlord Titans. The rulebook dripped with good old-fashioned grim-n-gritty gothic-punk flavo(u)r and was my introduction to the joys of the 'Eavy Metal painting team and rulebooks with full-color photos. (Fantasy Warriors, my first miniatures game, didn't go much farther than pixelated line art for its rulebook.)

At any rate, I never played much of Adeptus Titanicus, but I enjoyed painting up the titans, and the photos in the rulebook caught the eye of my friend Alex, who was to become my first gaming buddy thanks to the conversation the rulebook sparked. A scheduled game turned instead into a broader interest in tabletop RPG gaming, and we didn't actually play a miniatures game until a couple months later (and Fantasy Warriors, at that!). But it certainly fired our imaginations, and it's no coincidence that a few months later we each asked for and received a Games Workshop game for Christmas (he: Warhammer 4th edition; me: Space Marine 2nd edition). We played a lot of both games over the coming years, but we both agree that our fondest memories from those years were courtesy of Space Marine and the truly "Epic" games we played. Over time, all those excess Titans (and the styrene buildings) from the AT box were lost to the sands of time, although I hung on to my metal Ork gargants (one Great and two Slashas) and still have them today, even though the gargants have for years served mostly as symbols of good times long past.

I was giving some thought to those memories a couple weeks ago, specifically in regards to the "Oldhammer"movement. As much as I admire the vintage Citadel sculpts of the 80s, my heart and soul lies with the epic-scale minis of the early 90s. So I went to eBay to see what was on offer...

Imagine my surprise when I found a lot of fourteen vintage Titans (including three metal Reavers and a Warlord still on the sprue) for a seriously reasonable price. I put the auction on watch on followed it as it got closer to the finish line. By the final day, the price was still not terribly exorbitant  so I started bidding - and I won. In the end, I paid about $8.25 per Titan, a very reasonable price considering that one often sees single titan figures being offered for upwards of $25.00.

What's more, the lot came with a bunch of "extras," stuff I was only dimly aware of back in the day - custom heads, new weapons, and various other add-ons and ephemera. Clearly this lot belonged to a devoted Adeptus Titanicus gamer.

One of the things I love about picking up stuff like this on eBay is how you sometimes get these fun little personal touches in the lot. For example:

Considering this was probably painted in the early 90s, that reference isn't perhaps as dated as it may first seem. Nice to know The Hammer is still enjoying some level of popularity in the 41st millennium.
By far the weirdest feature of the auction was this Reaver Titan, which has some sort of home-wired attempt at creating a light-up system for tracking void shields. (Normally you just use a spinning disc set in the base):

What you can only barely see in the picture is the massive watch battery case required to power the lights and switch, nor can you see the rather sophisticated wiring under the base. It was a noble effort, but I think I'll stick with the spinning discs.

I emailed Alex about my purchase and he immediately wrote back, enthusiastically offering to take some Titans off my hands. How could I refuse? We don't live in the same city anymore, but we do manage the occasional visit, and when we do hook up, we'll be sure to bring our minis along and finally have that game of Adeptus Titanicus.

In the meantime, these guys have a date with a Dettol bath. (Yes, even "It's Hammer Time" - hey, it's preserved in picture form, at least.) I'm quite excited about doing these Titans up properly, with lots of banners and heraldry. Pics will, in due course, follow. I'm also now cagily monitoring eBay, looking for more deals on vintage Epic figures. I'd like to re-acquire a nice collection of infantry and vehicles to go with my Titans, and my Gargants will need some Ork Boyz to swarm around their feet. I'm also thinking of giving Future War Commander a look by way of rules for any game that isn't purely titan vs. titan, in which case I'll use the original Adeptus Titanicus rules.

Quite unexpectedly, it looks like I've found my niche in the Oldhammer movement. Go figure.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Selling Figures, Looking for Figures

First up, since I've decided to shift gears slightly in terms of my collection, I'm selling some of my WWII minis. Two separate lots, one of British, the other German. If you admired my painted Jocks from a previous post, they're up for grabs in this auction, so take a look!

Painted 28mm WWII British Squad and More!

28mm WWII German Infantry and Tanks

Second, with the death of Ray Harryhausen I've been thinking about starting a third fantasy army. I've got an army of skeletons (including an overt Harryhausen tribute in the form of my undead hoplites) and an army of amazons - it's got a definite pulp fantasy vibe. Armies of Arcana has a list for an army made up entirely of Giants; I thought it might be fun to do an army of cyclopes and other titan-types. Anyone know a good source for suitable figures? I'd also welcome any other suggestions for manufacturers that make a line suitable for a pulp fantasy Harryhausen/Frazetta vibe - hairy barbarians, sinister fishmen, or anything else along those lines. Pointers would be much appreciated. If I get a good handful of suggestions, I might even run a poll and let my esteemed leadership decide!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Eyes Have It

As I was oohing and ahhing over the latest post at Lead Legion, an interesting thought occurred to me: more and more, it seems that, outside of a basic flesh wash, people are not bothering with painting in the eyes at all on their 28mm figures.

Now, any smaller scale and it's obvious why one wouldn't bother with eyes. But I've always painted eyes in on my 28mm figures whenever possible, particularly as the scale has crept larger and larger over the years and sculptors have gone out of their way to sculpt "eyeballs" as it were. It's challenging and really easy to screw up (and just as easy to fix and try again, really), but a figure just doesn't feel done to me until something's done around the eyes.

Note that this doesn't mean I'm painting little white dots on every eyeball in a 30-man unit. For mass ranks, I'll settle for a bit of dark wash and maybe a splash of black paint. Nor am I advocating painting elaborate eye effects - just a hint of a glance or a look is what I go for. What strikes me about this latest trend, though, is that, as in the Escher models in the page linked above, no extra paint has been applied to "pretty up" the eye area. Just flesh-colored eyeballs ala an old Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

Also please note that I'm not taking Lead Legion to task, here. For one thing, he might be painting to the client's specifications. But even if that's just his style, I'm not judging it. It's just a curious trend I've noticed I've noticed among many miniatures painters, professional and otherwise, and I'm wondering if it has a source or if it's just one of those things.

This might be the first post in a series of my observations as a 20-plus-year veteran about changing standards in miniatures painting. We'll see how self-indulgent I'm feeling in the coming weeks...
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