Friday, September 22, 2017

Warhammer 40K - 8th Edition Battle Report: Ultramarines vs. Hive Fleet Kraken

Strom and I recently tried out our first game of Warhammer 40,000 8th Edition.  It had been a while since we last played, but with our large selection of fully painted armies we decided that the classic matchup of the Ultramarines and Hive Fleet Kraken would be a great introduction to the new rules.

We decided on using the new Power Levels and decided on Power 40 for the size of the battle.  Strom took a good mix for a classic Ultramarine force - a Tactical Squad, a Dreadnought, Terminators, and a Landspeeder.  I selected a force focused on a Tervigon with lots of Gaunts, along with some Tyranid Warriors and a Carnifex.

I brought over my winter table for the battle.  We setup the terrain and decided that a 3x3 battle area would work well for us to test out the rules and based on the size of our forces.

Our first 8th Edition battle was fast, easy to play, and fun.  Unfortunately, the Tyranids did not fare so well, with only a few Tactical Space Marines being defeated.  My Tyranid Warriors and Carnifex did the worst, getting fully wiped out in hand-to-hard without even causing more a single wound on the Terminators.  In the end, my remaining model, the Tervigon, did manage to destroy the Dreadnought with its Smite power, just prior to losing its last wound.

The new rules use Datasheets, which make for a quick and easy reference for a unit's stats, weapons, and abilities.  The fixed "to hit" rolls speed up the game, without losing much from gameplay.

In all, the game was fun and stream-lined compared to older versions of Warhammer 40,000.  We're excited to try out more games using our different painted armies.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Founders of Games Workshop - A Short History

In the early seventies, Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson decided to start a business around their favorite hobby - gaming. They were both friends since meeting in grammar school and enjoyed playing strategy games in their shared flat in London. They named their company Games Workshop and started by manufacturing and retailing fantasy games and models. Livingstone, who had graduated from Manchester University in business, worked for an oil company in London. He spent all his free time running the game business out of their London flat. 

Livingstone and Jackson started a newsletter named Owl and Weasel, which they distributed to others they knew in the gaming hobby. This caught the attention of Gary Gygax, the American creator of Dungeons and Dragons. He needed a European distributor for his role-playing game, and contacted Livingstone and Jackson. Gygax gave Games Workshop a three-year exclusive distribution deal for Dungeons and Dragons. He had no idea the only access the two had to a telephone was outside the hall of their flat, and that the two had no office and no staff.

Steve Jackson (left) and Ian Livingstone in the 1980s
Quitting their day jobs, Livingstone and Jackson devoted all their time to running Games Workshop and distributing Owl and Weasel, now a full-fledged magazine. They left their flat, rented an office, lived in a van, and used the toilets and showers at a squash club that they joined. After Game Workshop opened its first retail store in 1977 to a waiting crowd of 200, Livingstone said, “I think we’ve got something.”1 As wargaming and role-playing become more popular, Games Workshop became more profitable opened more retail stores in Britain.
Up to this point, Games Workshop had sold mostly games from other companies in its retail stores. In 1981, a Games Workshop employee named Rick Priestly combined role-playing, miniatures wargaming, and miniatures collecting to create Warhammer Fantasy Battle. That same year, Games Workshop acquired Citadel Miniatures, a manufacturer of lead miniatures for role-playing and other games. Citadel Miniatures started producing miniatures for the Warhammer game. Owl and Weasel became White Dwarf magazine, and in it the company began promoting Warhammer.

Games Workshop started producing other games; (many based off the same Tolkien mythology used in Warhammer). Due to the popularity of its own games, Games Workshop concentrated solely on promoting and selling only its own games. Livingstone and Jackson left Games Workshop in 1991, but Games Workshop continues to keep many gaming enthusiasts on its management staff.

1. H. Kunzru, “Not Connected: Not Playing When He Plays Wired World: The Dungeon Master Hari Kunzru Meets Ian Livingstone.” The Daily Telegraph, December 8, 1997.
2. M. McGrath, “A Visit To The Fantasy World Of Ian Livingstone.” Independent, June 6, 1998.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

"Painting" 40K Space Marines with Sharpie Pens - Ultramarines from Battle for Vedros

Based on a short Youtube video from Lukes Affordable Painting Service (APS), I was curious to see how quickly I could "paint up" Ultramarines from the Battle for Vedros Starter Set using only Sharpies.

I first primed the Space Marines with The Army Painter's Ultramarine Blue.  I then proceeded to "paint" the miniatures via Sharpie pens, afterwards dipping the models.  Unfortunately, the dipping media did dissolve some of the pen marks, so I had to reapply after dipping.  The colors white and red were a pain.  For red, I first had to color the spot white, then add the red afterwards.  I also had to use flesh paint for the faces (Sharpie doesn't make a flesh-color pen).

To see how cheap I could paint them, I decided to try out a cheap acrylic paint for the base.  I now know why good acrylic paints are so important.  Even after more than five coats I could still see some of the original color underneath.

The crackle paint I used did not work very well for the bases, and the only noticeable crackle effect was on the Dreadnought's wide base. 

I have never been good with decals, and the Ultramarine ones were the worst.  The bunched up and generally look poor, especially with the frost effect that decals can sometimes get.

Ultramarines were a good candidate for this method due to their blue color scheme and gold trim.  I found coloring the cape white, then coloring it red was a waste of 25 minutes.  I think the Dreadnought turned out the best of all the models.

I just purchased a Build+Paint Landspeeder that I will quickly paint using the same method.  I'm curious to see how quickly I can complete it using the lessons learned from these models.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Mice and Mystics: Three (Not-Blind) Mice

I painted these up a year or two ago, for the Mice and Mystics game by Plaid Hat Games.  I painted them up simply, and then dipped them per my usual method.  Although the models are fun, the game was unfortunately not a hit in our household.  I decided to keep the miniatures however.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Star Wars Miniatures (West End Games) - Three Wookies and an Ewok

A long time ago, in the mid-1990s, Juice and I started collecting miniatures for Star Wars Miniatures Battles by West End Games.  My idea was for an army of Wookies with a small contingent of Ewoks. Juice's idea was for an army of Mon Calamari, all riding Tautauns, and lead by Admiral Ackbar. Unfortunately, the limited variety of miniatures available for the game made finishing our ideas difficult, and we soon moved on to other games and projects.

About a decade later, in the late-2000s, I pulled out some of the half-finished models from storage and completed them.

With the new Star Wars: Legion just announced, perhaps my long-ago dream of a Wookie army will finally be realized? Unfortunately for Juice, I'm not sure that Tautaun-riding Mon Calamari will be hitting Fantasy Flight Game's product schedule anytime soon.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Star Wars: Legion Starter Set Contents

Fantasy Flight Game's website in France has some new pictures of the box contents.  I'm slowly coming around to the 35mm scale. 

I believe that the scale change from Imperial Assault may provide higher quality miniatures when all is said and done.

Fantasy Flight Games once again limits the number of needed dice in the starter set, but I'm guessing many will be picking up multiple copies of the starter.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Star Wars: Legion Announcement and Thoughts

Star Wars: Legion is now official -- Fantasy Flight Games just announced it yesterday at GenCon. Miniatures are about 35mm, (way too big in my opinion). It features very card-driven gameplay, but it's Fantasy Flight Games, so no surprise there....

35mm is a head-scratcher because that means an AT-AT would need to be about 3 feet high at that scale. Bummer as I was hoping for 15mm or smaller for larger scale battles.  The worse news is that the miniatures are not compatible with Imperial Assault miniatures. So this goes from an auto pickup, to a wait and see.

Friday, August 18, 2017

GenCon Rumors - Star Wars: Legion

From GenCon, there is a rumor of a new game to be announced soon by Fantasy Flight Games.  The game is Star Wars: Legacy, and it is a new tabletop miniatures game with unpainted figures.
Star Wars: Legion
Epic warfare is an inescapable part of the Star Wars™ universe, and you can lead your troops to victory with Star Wars: Legion™, a two-player miniatures game of thrilling infantry battles in the Star Wars universe! As a miniatures game, Star Wars: Legion invites you to enter the ground battles of the Galactic Civil War as the commander of a unique army filled with troopers, powerful vehicles, and iconic characters. While innovative mechanics for command and control simulate the fog of war and the chaos of battle, the game’s unpainted, easily assembled figures give you a canvas to create any Star Wars army you can imagine.
If true, this may explain the recent parting ways of Games Workshop and Fantasy Flight Games, as GW is the big player in the realm of two player miniature games, (especially with 8th Edition 40K getting such a good reception).

The two biggest questions at this point are:
1) Is this rumor true, and if so, when will it be announced?
2) What scale will the miniature be?  Too small, and the individual figures will not be interesting (who wants a 6mm Luke?).  Too big (28mm), and the iconic vehicles (AT-AT) that define Star Wars warfare will be hard to incorporate into the game.

I have a number of miniature games, but hoping the rumor is true, because who wouldn't love replaying the iconic Battle of Hoth?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Star Wars Miniatures (West End Games) - Luke Skywalker

Grenadier produced some great models for West End Games' Star Wars Miniatures Battles back in the day.  The range was produced from 1988 to 1999 and most all the classic models were sculpted by Bob Charrette or Julie Guthrie.  One of my favorites is Luke Skywalker from Return of the Jedi, complete with the vintage 1990s style green base.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Shadow War: Armageddon - Kill Team Tomb World Terpagina

A few weeks ago I built a new Necron Kill Team for Shadow War: Armageddon, "Tomb World Terpagina".  I painted them fairly quickly, priming the Immortals silver and the Deathmarks grey before applying some simple base-coating and dipping them.

To build the team I used the Shadow War Zone website which lets you easily build and customize your Kill Team and also allows you to track its progression as it gains experience in battles.  I'm still looking forward to trying out the rules with either this squad or my Hive Fleet Kraken Kill Team, "Kraken Omega 3K3", that I build using the website a few weeks back.

Friday, July 21, 2017

JeffCon 2017 Recap

Last week was our (fifth annual) JeffCon up at Jeff's cabin at Lake Kachess.  Again we brought a mix of old classics and new games to try out. Here are some of the games we played this year
  • Kingdomino - This latest Bruno Cathala game was my top new game.  This Spiel des Jahres winner is fun, fast, and provides good choices for players to make.  It is a simple take on dominos, with players each building a 5x5 grid which scores points based on the number of crowns in a connected area, times the number of similar types in that connected area.
  • Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City - This was my prior day's purchase, as it was on sale at Target.  We had played the original game with expansions a few days before.  It is a fun, simple game, but the red and purple stealing cards seemed to drag on the end-game a little further than needed.
  • Cyclades - This is an old favorite, but this was the first time playing on the six-player map, with three teams of two.  I found that it changed the game by adding more conflict and more combat-focused, which I didn't enjoy.  The expansion added Kronos, and another way to initiate a battle.  The proximity of land-based neighbors made the game feel more like a wargame than a balanced builder.
  • Star Trek: Ascendancy - We played this for a second time, which provided a similar fun experience to the first game we played.  I'm looking forward to the long-delayed expansions.
  • Star Wars: X-Wing - We played a six-player deathmatch, with pre-defined squads of 30 points each (each player using only one ship).  The table was two mats long and we played to 10 points, (with 3 points for a kill and 1 point for a hit).  It was a fun way to experience the game, as it has been awhile since I have played it.
  • Risk: Legacy - We are now three games into our campaign and we just opened our first card pack.  As it is a Risk game, it has some drawbacks in mechanics and the payoff has been lacking.  Although the first few games have been fairly dull, we are hoping the legacy aspects bring some variety and fun to future games.  
  • Stockpile - This was the highlight of Jeffcon gaming last year. This stock trading game is still fun with its great bidding mechanism, but I'm starting to tire of it the more games I play.  There appear to be few choices to make other than during bidding and the price movement of stocks are very random and unpredictable.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Relic Knights - Black Diamond Cadre

Now that my Black Diamond cadre is complete, I'm pretty happy overall with the overall look -- especially based on the limited amount of time I spent painting them compared to other projects, (about a third of the time that it took to paint the smaller Cerci Speed Circuit cadre).

Leopold Magnus and Diamond Corps
Darkspace Iron Chef
Diamondback and M8-Blitz Auto-Tank
Sophia Drake and Black Dragons
One Shot

The time savings was mostly due the grey color scheme of Black Diamond which allowed me to prime and quickly highlight most of the models, with minimal need for fine detail, or the strong contrast in colors that I usually go for.  It also provides some incentive to choose similar approaches for other projects.  For example, I've considering different Space Marine chapters, and the Space Sharks ("Carcharodons Astra") have a simple gray color scheme that would work well with the same approach.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Star Wars Miniatures (West End Games) - Emperor and Royal Guards

Many years ago I bought some of West End Game's 25mm Star Wars miniatures, from their Star Wars Miniatures Battles game.  When I did, I painted up the Emperor and his Royal Guards first.  It was my first real experiment with painting highlights and with inking (the red on the Royal Guards).  The basing style is vintage 1990s Goblin Green with yellow/white highlights.  I based the figures on coins - nickles in the case of the miniatures below.

These models provided a good opportunity to test out different camera options and lighting, and below are photos using three different lighting methods for the same basic picture angle and composition.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Star Trek: Ascendancy

Image result for star trek ascendancy
A few weeks back, Juice, Strom and I played our first game of Star Trek: Ascendancy, a three-player game of space exploration, expansion, research, and combat by Gale Force Nine.

The game provides many different paths to victory, and one aspect we all enjoyed is that each faction plays differently and has unique benefits and drawbacks.  Juice played the Romulans and focused on technological advances.  Strom played the Klingons and built large fleets for expansion.  I played the peaceful Federation and drove hard toward a cultural victory through careful exploration and colonization.

I started with a lead in cultural points, which also act as victory points to end the game.  However, I ignored technological and military advances which eventually sealed my doom.  Just before what would have been the turn when I would have claimed victory, Juice used his warp technology to warp all the way across the universe to the Federation home spaces, which he conquered.  The Klingons soon followed suite and I ended up simply being the king-maker in deciding a Klingon/Romulan tie.

Overall, the game has good pacing and offers choices in how to build your empire.  I think the end game came a little too quickly, as advancements build exponentially upon prior advancements in culture and technology. It does have a strong Star Trek theme and the overall game mechanics work well.  It is one of the best three-player games I have played and I highly recommend it for that reason.  It appears that Gale Force Nine's additional player factions are soon being released as game expansions, after a long delay in production.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Relic Knights - Cerci Speed Circuit Cadre

My Cerci Speed Circuit cadre is now complete and they provided a good break from the typical sci-fi models that I paint (from a well-known "grimdark" setting).  One thing I love about Relic Knights is the brightness of the models and their dynamic poses.  The miniatures turned out bright and colorful despite the dipping media, and most models still provided a good contrast in color.  I do wish I would have spent a little more time cleaning up mold-lines, as the dipping method really makes mold-lines stand out.  However, they look good on the tabletop, which is the level of detail I was going for.

Princess Malya, Mr. Tomn, and Pit Crew
Marie-Claude and Esmee
Betty, Lug, and Pacer

Friday, June 16, 2017

Relic Knights - Black Diamond: Leopold Magnus and Diamond Corps

Before I painted my Relic Knights models I decided I would complete them quickly with my "20/80" rule - 20% of my best effort to try and get 80% of the effect.  That meant I spent limited time cleaning up all the mold lines, used colored primers for each model's base color, and performed only simple base-coating as detail.  I then dipped each model using Minwax Polyshade.  Magnus was treated a little different in that he was first primed white, then stained with purple stain, then dipped with the same medium.  In all, once they were base-primed, I spent just two evenings painting and dipping my entire Black Diamond cadre.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade - iOS

Most of my computer gaming time these days has been limited to playing games on my iPad.  One of the games I spend a few minutes with each week is Warhammer 40,000: Freeblade.  Freeblade is a great, simple on-rails shooter that takes place in the Warhammer 40K universe.  Your opponents are Orks or Chaos, and there are a number of fun map environments.  I enjoy upgrading the different weapon options for my Imperial Knight.

A few months ago I purchased a Warhammer 40K Imperial Knight which I eventually plan to assemble and paint to represent Salocin, my in-game Freeblade from the game.