Jan 072013

Lunch Time = Paint Time!

Happy New Year!!! First blog post this year and I thought I’d bite a little off Larry’s resolutions post from BOLS. Thanks Larry! Without further ado, my hobby resolutions.

1) Organize my hobby work space. I should snap a pic of my room, shelves, closet, et. al. I spent 3 hours Thur night just getting organized enough to GET organized in order to clean. It’s insane, (holidays and our game on 15Dec didn’t help!). Every time I clean, I lose something, or more appropriately lose track of something. Not this time, the Log of Projects and Models has been amended!

2) Paint something each week. While my grand goal is to paint every lunch break at work an at least one evening for several hours at home each week, I know the way my world works. It’ll be hard enough even keeping to 1 hour per week, so as long as I paint SOMETHING each week, I’ll consider this resolution held.

3) Collaborate w/ nephew (see #1). My nephew has finally learned about the Grim Dark and is all fired up to paint. So, the goal is to collaborate with him on painting White Scars. His first army, my long overdue biker army.

4) To paraphrase Larry, “Face the ‘wall/closet/bins/shelves of unpainted purchases’, choose ANY 3 units, assemble, clean and get ‘em ready for paint.” Per #1, my organizing allowed me to catalog NO LESS than THIRTY ONE boxes containing Space Marine models on sprue and in most cases still in cellophane. This does not include Eldar, Orks or my Infinity & Warmachine projects… *sigh* In short, pick models which support the projects I am working on and get them assembled. Top options come to mind: Remaining infantry for Space Wolves, Rhinos for White Scars, ‘Thunderheart’ Vinidcator for White Scars.

5) No new purchases without painting a previous purchase, (see #4). To qualify this, I am further stating the following: No new models without painting a current model. No new armies started without completing an existing army. No new terrain without completing an existing piece of terrain. I am aiming to FINALLY complete 1500 pts of Space Wolves, so I think 1500pts of  40K is a good ‘completion’ point. There’s my White Scars collaboration, (see #3 above), which I have the models collected for to 1500. I also just started a PanO Shock Army force for Infinity, thanks to DesertFoxx’s holiday gift, so 200pts for Infinity should qualify. The only 40K ‘armies’ left to collect are Dark Eldar for me, which I fear may never happen as GW is seriously pricing things outside my comfort range. *sigh*Still, I should leave GK and all 3 of my Sons of Dorn tucked away until the above 3 are in some semblance of order. In fact, if I somehow manage to paint Wolves, Scars & some Infinity, I should get off my tail and paint from Necrons or Orks before another Imperial army.

6) Complete 4-6 pieces of terrain for each of my 3 tables. I have a fully painted Realms of Battle table as well as 4×4 and 4×6 temperate climate mats. I have several items assembled, but not enough painted. So, at minimum 1 piece for each 2×2 section for each table, painted to match. Again, to quote Larry, “I can drink in my house!”

7) Confirm state of paints, brushes, supplies. Some of my paints are quite old and I’ve begun finding a number which have dried up or separated their pigment. The desert is not kind to paint pots, so I need to know what I have that’s still in service and what NEEDS to be replaced for the upcoming projects, (looking at you my dried up Iyanded Darksun, right when I needed you for SW shoulders!!!).

8) Play 1 game a month. I’m lucky to get one game/month with the gang, but sometimes we miss several months. We only play 2 systems at present, we need to stay in practice. So, don’t let a month slip without playing.

9) Play with painted forces. I have 3k+ of painted Tau, and until I can paint more of something else, that will be my go-to 40K army. However, a better way to approach this goal is to not play any force without at least one painted unit. Every new game they play, they need to have one more painted unit than last time. This would suggest that if we play a game every month, I should have 12 NEW painted units before the year is out. As for Infinity, well, I’m going to paint up my PanO to at least 150-200pts and not play with my Caledonians until I do the same. Kilts are fun, so I need to paint them. Of course, being a skirmish game, perhaps for Infinity the goal will be to paint any models form a give unit type, so if I have my Shock Troop regulars painted next month, the next game day I should have my Bagh Mari painted, or some such.

10) Master 40K and Infinity.  While we have models out the wazzu for all manner of games, (40K/WFB/Necro/Mord/BFG/Infinity/CBT), not to mention those which we collect and don’t play regularly, (Warmahordes/Warlord/FoW/Epic/Dreadball), I can heartily say that 40K & Infinity are the go-to games. We’ve all had a recent thrust of 40K enthusiasm, (dunno why, since we all went into shock pricing out Chaos armies with the DV/CSM release), however Infinity is just such a terrific game with amazing models and a better than most entry price. So, we’ll be see Alpha Legion take the field vs Eldar on 12Jan, and after that we’ll do our best to hold 11 more game days in 2013.

Aug 022011
Larry Leadhead

A thousand words...

As a multi-decade gamer I’ve seen alot in my day. Life was easy when all it took was beggin’ mom for spare cash to spend at The Game Keeper. Life was rough when serious decisions had to be made between spending money on rent/utils or beer or snowboard trips or games. Life was easy when I was single with a stable career. Life is compromise as a mature spouse with fellow gamers in the same boat, balancing family/money/time as best we can. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

It wasn’t long ago that our gaming group ‘gave up’ on Games Workshop games, (something every tabletop wargamer does from time to time). The usual reasons: the prices increase, the rules have too many loopholes, the new book requires to many new models, the new book got rid of some of my models I already own, why must we keep using D6, etc etc. And we let it lie for a good long time, leaving 3rd ed 40K and 6th ed. Fantasy behind for other gaming. Along came a video game, Dawn of War, and we began to fondly recall what we enjoyed about the Warhammer universe and it wasn’t long before we started to consider picking up the dice and rolling into the grim dark once again. Almost 8 years later, 2 editions of 40K/Fantasy each, and we find ourselves waning from GW yet again.

To give it some perspective, we played a great game of 8th ed. WHFB over the weekend, a 3000pt team game of Night Goblins/Vampires vs Skaven/Orges. Overall it was an enjoyable game. DesertFoxx & I lost, however I was amazed at how certain units performed. My Night Goblins put some serious punishment on the Ogres. Much was luck of the dice, but my shooting was superlative vs the unarmored behemoths and the Squig Herd earned their fungus juice many times over, working exactly as planned taking out of unit of Ogres, then getting taken out in turn by a unit of Clan Rats and bursting forth for some extra damage on the flee. Enjoyable though the game was, it was also bittersweet as we had already planned on the match and worked towards it before we uncovered the magic that is Infinity.

This year Games Workshop had their annual price increase, however they coupled this to a shocking announcement with regards to their internet retailer policy as well as the sudden and shocking switch from metals to their Finecast resin product. Price hikes are a normal occurrence, but this seems almost painfully comical compared to previous years. Shortly after all of that we rec’d the annual financial report from GW, which I enjoy perusing on occasion. However this year we were fortunate enough to have a financially adept member of the community provide some analysis for us layfolk. I won’t try to recap Duke’s work, you can read it for yourself. I just thought it was funny that the CEO used the term ‘surprise & delight’ with regards to customers. I’m on my 4th CEO/President in less than 4 years and they have all been saying the same thing. What the fuck, are all the C-levels just reading from the same playbook with no originality? No wonder economies are so fucked.

Anyway, the end result is here we are looking into new games, (Infinity, Flames of War, Warmachine/Hordes), or resurrecting old ones, (BattleTech, Chainmail), for all the usual reasons. GW has made vast strides in the rules for the most recent editions, however they still have a number of glaring hiccups. I suppose this is the same old song. But seriously, $100 for 5 Rare vamp cavalry? Talk about your major “WTF?” moment!!! GW produces some of the most amazing models, it’s true. However, the figs coming out of Privateer Press and Corvus Belli are no slouch, not by a long shot, and they have rules that are far and above in terms of playability and quality control. So, all things being equal in the great figs dept., what happens when you couple terrific figs with terrific rules?

The one thing I noted a few years back when I bought into Warmachine was that the starter boxes were 100% playable and came with a starter rules pamphlet. We’re not talking an Island of Blood box with 70 figs for 2 armies and a mini rulebook for $99, oh no. From a pure starter viewpoint, 2 friends can buy in to the Warmachine/Hordes faction of choice, (rather than the enforced faction of Elves vs Skaven or Dwarfs vs Goblins), each having a playable army, (albeit a small one), and the rules to learn how for less. Choice AND education. GW could learn a bit from that. The other thing I noticed was that Warmachine put it’s rules expansions for all armies into books. So a new book launches, it contains new rules and unit types, but does so for ALL factions in the game. This is also contrary to GW practice where each army has a dedicated book which more often than not supersedes all other books when it launches, creating the “uber IT army” of the day. Already, Privateer Press had me at ‘hello’.

Flash forward to this past July and my final introduction to Infinity. The simplest glance at an article which threw out the term d20 and I spent half an afternoon reading through everything I could on the game. Before the day was out, I was hooked and already sending out emails to my game group. One by one, they all fell. Sure, we all desperately approve of the d20 vs any other die for gaming mechanics. Sorry folks, it is the superior choice unless you have the stones to compare it to d00. We also fell in love with the sculpts. Who doesn’t love anime.mecha, kilts and tree-hugging Islam? The straw that broke the bankroll’s back? Free rules. Full rule book, 100% free. Not just quick start rules, (which they also have), but the FULL RULE BOOK! Free rules, great starter packs, beautiful figs, online army builder, terrific online community, need I go on? Try before you buy isn’t something the wargaming community gets enough of.

The main gist of this rambling rant is that despite this being an expensive hobby over time, it’s nice when you don’t have to cough up an arm, a leg and a testicle to buy in. You can start Warmachine or Infinity for about $35-40 with a viable force for the tabletop from a single starter box and quick start rules. Since one needs an opponent to play with, you are getting started for about $70-80. Sure, you WILL spend more money, but this opens the door. To start 40K you are lucky to open the door solo for $85 in figs, (Space Marine Commander + 2 Tactical squads). This does not include a rule book or figs for your opponent. So call the minimum buy in for 2 players + rules at $225. If you want to play Space Marines vs Orks, yes you can buy in with 2 armies and a book for $99. What if you want to play IG or Dark Eldar? SOL, buddy. Long term, 40K is a larger scale game and you will buy/play with more figs on the table than Warmachine or Infinity. That doesn’t make the GW schema of dropping points costs on models for force larger forces onto the table a palatable excuse. How long before fielding a company of marines, (100), becomes the norm for 1750pts?

So here we are. Countless years and dollars invested in GW product. Are we throwing it away? Oh no… 40K will still be played occasionally. I don’t know when my Dwarfs or Gobbos will hit the table again. However, we are definitely shifting gears to put some time in on the new game(s) to see what they are like. I anticipate some serious enjoyment from our new games. And so, what will become of the boxes of Citadel product gathering dust in the closet as the days pass? Time will tell…

Jul 062011
Infinity Mecha


As a Tabletop Wargaming enthusiast, the hardest part of the hobby, (aside from being able to afford it, and find space for it, and find time to model/paint/play… sheesh!), is often deciding which system to get involved with. There are SO many available, more than ever before. Will you find others to play with? Is it worth investing in? Are the rules easy to learn, but hard to master? Is the game fun? Are the models cool? I am often staggered at the sheer volume of choice in the hobby today.

When I first got started, oh 30-some odd years ago, I was a pre-pubescent lad with a healthy imagination, (far different from the soon-to-be pubescent imagination!). As my father taught English, I learned to read very early and I grew up reading far in advance of my school years, (Bulfinch & Hamilton mythologies, Tolkein, Dante, Herbert). This made it very easy for me to journey to far off lands of fantasy and danger in my head. It wasn’t long before I had my first D&D Basic edition, pink box and all. Thrown in a box of Grenadier minis and a few odd paints and before you know it the world’s worst painted Shambling Mound was chasing my neighborhood pals through whatever dungeon we found interesting that Friday night. And thus, an addiction was born.

Flash forward 3 decades. My years of being a capable athlete more or less behind me. As a happily married man, my days of chasing tail all night are assuredly long gone, (of course I still get to chase my lovely wife’s tail! I ain’t dead yet you know). My bank account, while not Trump-esque, ain’t exactly the meager pittance it once was as a starving college student either. I have the luxury of grabbing the occasional impulse buy or adding to the collection without fretting over my power being turned off. Even so, we come back to the overwhelming volume of choice in what to buy and play. When you already support multiple game systems, (Classic BattleTech, Warmachine/Hordes, Warhammer in all it’s forms), does one REALLY need to try to support another one? Well, before this week, I’d have said not really. However, at this moment, the answer is an overwhelming YES!

Thanks to an old article I only recently read on Beasts of War, I finally took a good look at Infinity. Sure, I had seen the occasional Infinity fig on CMON or some such, but I never gave it a serious thought. That is until I read the game was based on D20 and not the ubiquitous D6. My biggest complaint of the typical mini game is that the D6 rules the roost. Bullshit. Even when it’s 2D6, that’s still only a 1 in 36 chance of any given result. I can win at roulette with the right plan and those odds. I read D20, and then I saw this. Set 175 years into Earth’s future, Infinity takes everything you know & love about Mecha Anime and shoves it right down your throat like a honey-glazed ball-peen hammer.

The models are some of the finest overall sculpts I have ever seen. The source material reads like some of my favorite Anime, (DesertFoxx had to watch Appleseed after I introduced the link to him). In reading support forums, FAQs and the quick start rules, I can say that this game seems to have some of the deepest strategic & tactical gameplay elements of anything I have ever played. And the buy in price is unimpeachable. First of all, the ENTIRE ruleset is downloadable for free. Sure, you can buy the book, but in the try before you buy category, having 100% FULL rules available via PDF is better than anything a certain UK company would try. They even have an online tool to build and proof your army list, again free. Starter sets for every faction consist of 6 figs and are a complete 125pt force for $38 thanks to the discount rate at The War Store. The standard size game is approx 300pts and from their suggested starter armies, one can be playing full size games for anything from $72-104.

As DesertFoxx put it, this is Necromunda on steroids. Instead of the Grim Dark of 38,000 years in humanity’s future, this is only a couple centuries from now. Instead of a desperate struggle against the inexorable advance of the End Times, this is a ‘what if’ argument in which humanity’s typical struggles and conundrums are set against the backdrop of AI and the dawn of interstellar travel. Instead of Space Marines, we get Mecha.

When you already have invested half of a lifetime in pewter & plastic for multiple game systems, does one REALLY need to try to support another one? Before this week, I’d have said not really. However, at this moment, the answer is an overwhelming YES! Hello Ariadna, welcome to my home…