Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Goodbye 2013… Hello 2014


It's New Year's Eve again and time to sit and contemplate the last twelve months and make guesses and predictions for the coming year.

First of all, wow - time does seem to fly. I can't quite believe we're at the end of the year already. 


The beginning of 2013 started as 2012 had ended - 40k. I was in the middle of my Nurgle phase and Bull was prepping for the imminent Dark Angel codex. I never did complete any of my units for that army, especially once we started gaming. The way it's always been in the past with 40k for me.


March saw me finally getting stuck in to X-Wing and racked up a few games with Bull, Fugs, Chris and Mr Awdry, managing to get a couple of them addicted to the latest shinies.

Salute was all about historical 28mm as I began my ill-fated Dark Crucible project. I also dipped by toe back into my Warmachine Cryx army after reclaiming my airbrush equipment.


The summer months were spent building and painting Romans, Celts and Vikings and playing multiple games of test rules for Dark Crucible. After sending out the rules for other people to test, and getting nothing back at all save for a couple of pretty fundamental complaints, my enthusiasm was destroyed. I'd poured my soul into this project for six months and I was spent. My hobby mojo was gone completely and the blog all but shut down.


Eventually I managed to get some interest back into a golden oldie. Blood Bowl is the new shiny, despite me not being able to play it very well it seems. I'm kind of enjoying the painting again and look forward to gaming.


So what about 2014?

Life will change dramatically this year for me and mine. We are due to move house in January which will change the landscape (literally) of things to come. I followed through with my promised last year and left my job. I now need to drum up some more clients to ensure I can take care of my family. Family will be the big focus in the latter half of the year as our adoption process comes to a conclusion. Hobby time will be squeezed more and more this year I suspect.


As for the hobby, I think Blood Bowl will continue to dominate things for the next month or so. I have a couple of related projects I'd like to attempt which could be fun. I also have some Warhammer Chaos to build in the hope that myself and Bull could get a game of that under our belts. The latest rumours suggest that a new version of WHFB have been shelved in favour of 7th Edition 40k (please, it's just getting boring now) which is a shame and I have no interest in bigger tanks, flyers and monsters for my armies.


I'd like to take a look at Bolt Action at some point (taking me back to my childhood again) as well as sort out my Warmachine and Hordes models. Malifaux may need another investigation as I never picked up 2nd Ed. I also need to offload a lot of my gear to make room, so expect to see a few Ebay posts this year, haha!

Salute may not be possible for me this year, depending on certain factors, but if it is still on it will probably be quite low key.


I hope all you visitors and fellow bloggers had a great Christmas, and the best of luck and good wishes for the New Year!


Monday, 30 December 2013

Blood Bowl: The Rematch…


After the disappointment of an opening game loss I was keen to get back into it and dish out some payback to those Orks, and the Gobbo especially – he was going home in a bucket!!

There had been an Undead hero in the previous game and it was time to lavish some attention. Dedleg, my Zombie lineman (above) had knocked out a Black Ork in the previous game, drawing first blood and being awarded the Gutchewers' MVP as a consequence. As well as receiving a new skill "Block" for his achievement he also had some alone time on the painting table. He was looking a lot more like a star player now!


So I arrived at the Orkland Raiders' stadium yesterday with a week of research and an action plan. However, the one thing I hadn't banked on was the wrath of the dice gods. It seems that I have insulted them in a previous life to such an extent that my dice rolling is beginning to defy the laws of probability and averages.


The game started well – I chose to receive and the ball landed kindly. The first few actions were spent positioning my team so that we could make our move in the following turn. Gone were the reckless blocks in favour of something entirely more strategic.



As expected the Orks came at us… and the Gobbo came flying over the heads of the players to land almost on top of the ball.


With the previous game still fresh in the mind, it was decided that I should follow through on my promise. The gobbo got hit… and then we stamped on his head, sending him to the 'dead' box, no longer to play a part in the game. He would indeed be going home in a bucket!

It was at this point that my problems began. I just couldn't pick up the ball.

I sent a Ghoul towards the left flank and a Wight down the right so that I could throw a pass of some description and get the ball out of my own half and away from the rush of the Orks. Alas my ball carrier didn't survive the turn to attempt a pass and the ball bounced out of his unconscious hands.


As had happened all game, the ball was magnetically attracted to the Ork players, randomly bouncing balls always ending up at Ork feet. Even when I mashed the Ork thrower (above) the ball bounced into the arms of the nearby Blitzer, despite being surrounded by undead players.

In addition, most of my hits were resulting in ineffective pushes or backfiring and my own players going down. The dice gods were not on my side.


It wasn't long before the Orks strolled in for their first touchdown. With one turn left and me receiving, I decided to try and inflict some damage on the opposition.


As the half came to a close things were looking bad for the Undead. Not only were we a score down, but we had some major players off the field, including Dedleg.

The hope was the second half would be kinder… not to be. In fact things got steadily worse. My dice rolling was now becoming ridiculously poor and the ball ever more attracted to the Orks. In the end, with my team unable to hold the ball for more than a turn and the game surely lost, I decided to switch tactics. I let the Orks have the run of the field and concentrated on killing a few more.

Even this proved to be a futile tactic. Even when outnumbering individual Orks 5-1 my team were unable to foul any more of the opposition, often unable to knock them down. This was epitomised when a mummy blitzed an Ork Blitzer only to fall over his own bandages (despite using a team re-roll) and injured himself, taking no further part in the game. That's the equivalent of rolling double-1 TWICE, followed by 11 or 12 on 2D6 TWICE. That was quite some feat!

The Orks strolled in for their second touchdown and the game came to an eventual conclusion.

Having felt somewhat robbed in last week's game I had steeled myself for this week, able to laugh off a lot of the bad luck. Yet even Bullcher commented how the bad dice weren't making for a great game.

Luckily, all my injured players returned unhurt, but with a measly 2 SPP for the entire team there was not much chance of new skills. The MVP eventually went to the Mummy, Charmin, who managed to stay on his feet for the entire second half and knocked down a couple of Orks in the process. Clutching at straws to be sure.

Throughout the whole game the Undead had managed less than 6 knockdowns, which is simply staggering.

Having saved money up to this point we can splash out on new players, however the Orks are starting to acquire new skills which is going to make things more difficult going forward. The Undead can do a good job of defending, we just can't do anything with the ball – even on a 3+ with re-rolls we drop it – and I'm running out of ideas.

Time to find a star player to join us!


Saturday, 21 December 2013

The Big (Blood Bowl) Match!


Game day arrived and the Grave's End Gutchewers travelled up the M20 to visit the Orcland Raiders – first Blood Bowl game of the season. The Undead were all painted, and I'd remembered to pack them – the signs were looking good (aside from the atrocious weather!).



All the pre-game amble was done and we were ready to kick off – Orcs receiving in fine weather. As I am slowly learning, Blood Bowl is a game of no control and complete randomness – despite kicking the ball to land between the two Orcs at the back of the pitch, the ball bounced a staggering amount and finally landed behind the troll, almost on the half way line (see above).



It was promptly scooped up by the Orc thrower as the Black Orcs and Blitzers started to form a cage. Models on both sides were getting knocked about but mostly getting back up. It was very balanced and the Orcs were being rather cautious on their opening drive as both teams jockeyed for position.



With all that violence it wasn't long before we had our first casualty. A Black Orc was taken down by the zombie Dedleg, and off the pitch he was dragged to be patched up.



A gap opened up on the right side and before I knew it the Orc thrower darted down the touchline and was in danger of breaking away. The Gutchewers rallied pulling as many players across as could be spared. Lots of josling ensued as the Orcs edged their way down the pitch.



The pressure grew on the ball carrier and eventually he was knocked out of play and into the dead bucket by the skeleton Bones, ably supported by Dedleg, the ghoul Mantanner and Drex the mummy. The ball got spilled… where would it land?!



Well, the ball landed straight into the lap of the Orc Blitzer who had been stood next to the Thrower. He ran back towards his own half of the pitch and hid behind a Black Orc, running down the clock to half time. So the ball finished the half pretty much in the same place it started!


++++++++++

Finely poised then at the break as we moved into the other room for pizza. We had been joined mid-way through the first half by Michael from 28mm Victorian Warfare, who had been keenly taking in the action.

++++++++++


Second half began, Gutchewers receiving. Again the kicked ball bounced hideously back to the halfway line. It landed on one skeleton (Bones) who didn't know what was going on, then bounced to the skeleton, Creaky, next to him who also failed to pick it up. It then shot back into the Orc half resulting in a touchback – meaning I could give the ball to any player I liked.

The Orcs had left an inviting gap in the middle of the field, a trap no doubt but I had devised a way to get through and, with a bit of luck, catch them flat-footed.



Alas it wasn't to be and the tiny gap I'd left exposed proved fatal as Bull managed to knock down the ghoul ball carrier Ateman and the pigskin flew up into the air again. It landed in Creaky's lap again but he couldn't hold onto it and dropped into the square next to him (above).

I concocted an alternative plan and wheels were put in motion and a gap created on the left flank for the other ghoul, Mantanner, to exploit.



Again, luck was not on my side and Bull managed to somehow get a Blizter across to foil my plan. The ball spilled again.



With some creative blocking the Goblin managed to squeeze through the gaps, pick up the ball and ran hell for leather towards the end zone.



Retaliation was swift and Mantanner recovered to blitz the goblin spilling the ball into the air again. Bull sent a Blitzer charging after the ghoul but everything was set up beautifully for the Undead recovery.

Then disaster…

The mummy Charmin blitzed the Orc Blitzer, to free up the ghoul to get the ball. It was a straightforward manoeurvre but I managed to roll double skull – the equivalent of a double 1 and meant I was face-down in the dirt and my turn ended. Not to worry, I used a team re-roll and tried again…

DOUBLE SKULL AGAIN!!

I couldn't believe what I was seeing – how can you roll the equivalent of a double 1 followed by a double 1…!?!

This handed the goblin a good shot at getting to the ball. He wriggled out of the ghoul's tackle zone but couldn't pick up the ball. Back to me.

With no team re-rolls left I decided to do a couple of easy hits first before the ghoul went for the ball. This time the other mummy, Drex, managed to roll very badly and fell on his face. ARGHH!



The goblin was not going to miss a second time, scooped up the ball and skipped into the end zone.

Touchdown Orcland Raiders.

With only two turns of the game left there was not much that could be done and the game ended.


+++++  Orcland Raiders 1–0 Grave's End Gutchewers +++++


Wow.
Wasn't terribly happy during that second half, the dice gods were definitely not on my side one bit. This is what I have found frustrating about Blood Bowl – I like to have a certain level of control when gaming, but this game can be totally random and you need to be able to deal with that. Today I wasn't and so endured a hard time of things at the end.

We came away with a loss, but the MVP Dedleg got a new skill and the two casualties I had survived unscathed, just about.

My thanks to Bull for hosting a great day – let the banter begin – and thanks to Michael for making the journey up to see us. He managed to get a bit of a game in before home time which was excellent (aside from that bloody goblin scored again!).

Looking forward to a re-match sometime over the Christmas holidays.


We will return… and next time the goblin's going home in a bucket!




Friday, 20 December 2013

Blood Bowl: Pre-Game Jitters…


Two more members of the Grave's End Gutchewers team for you, this time we have the Marrow Twins – Bones and Creak.

Game time is fast approaching. The last of the paint is going on the team so we'll have a fully painted box of death rolling up the Raiders' front door… that's if I don't leave them behind!

The line up has been chosen (or rather, decided by the models I own) and vague investigations have been made into team tactics. The best thing I read was that Undead teams can't buy an Apothecary – instead they automatically get a Necromancer who will raise an opponent killed in the match to play for the Undead team next time out.

Will the Gutchewers get buried, or will they come home smelling of roses?!

Stay tuned, full match report next time…


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Another Blood Bowl interview…


Today we have the heavy hitters in the Grave's End Gutchewers' front line, mummies Charmin and Drex. Like their Wight teammates, conversation was minimal.

As you'd expect, these guys are slow on the pitch… I mean really slow. However, as one of the hardest hitting non-Big Guy/non-Star Player options in the game, they're a key part of the Undead team. Positioning them will be key as they can't jog over to a new position. Think of them as columns holding up a Roman temple – they're not moving!… either under their own steam or someone else's.

The painting is coming along well.

With three days to go until game day, none of my 11 models are complete, but only 3 are looking sparse. It has been a welcome distraction getting out the paints again. I wouldn't say I've enjoyed every minute (a lot of repetition) but it's been fun.

Given the tight deadline, I've taken a Bullcher approach of simply getting paint on the models and not spending much time with details. After the games we play, any MVPs or acts of heroism will warrant a bit more paint attention, so the stars will begin to look fantastic and those that don't perform (or die) with stay the same.

Hope to have another post for you on Friday, then post-match details over the weekend!


Saturday, 14 December 2013

Rumble with the Raiders: Post training interview



Today we caught up with two members of the Grave's End Gutchewers' front line, after a training session on their astroturf pitch.

Bonesaw and Jawbreaker are the Undead blitzers, looking to make a big impact in the game against the Orcland Raiders next weekend. We asked Bonesaw how the training was going and what preparation they were doing before the trip to Raider country,

"Grrrrrrr. Kill. Kill. Grrrrrrrr."

and did Jawbreaker have any special tactics that would be employed against the Orcs,

"Kill. Kill. Kill. Grrrrrrrr."

Nice chat guys.



Saturday, 7 December 2013

Post 400: Blood Bowl Dark Elves


With the house move delayed until the new year I thought I should dig out some model bits from the attic and get something done, before my hobby mojo dies completely along with the blog.

As I mentioned previously, I purchased a couple of Blood Bowl teams from ebay last month, including the above Dark Elves. As you can (kind of) see, they're not very consistent with the paint job, rather basic and unfinished. You will also know that is not how I roll, so it was time for some surgery!


Once I'd taken the models off their old bases I gave them a quick scrub in warm soapy water. I could have stripped them properly, but I'm not looking for painting awards here and needed to get this little project rolling.

I spent some time finding replacement plastic bases in the attic and went about gluing the models in properly. We did have a casualty in the form of a Blitzer who lost the tab he was attached to, so had to be pinned. I did want to pin the lot so I could have pennies in the bases to weigh them down, but time is limited and I'm hoping to have a game against one of Bull's plethora of BB teams before Christmas. I had to crack on!


Half an hour later almost all remnants of the old colour scheme was gone.

The big question now is… what colour do I paint them?

Do I go with the traditional Purple/Black, do I go with a Red/Black or Dark Blue/Black instead, which are also popular colours for Dark Elves generally?

Once these guys are done I also have my Undead team, the only team I've played BB with, as well as a plastic Human team… for giggles.

To be continued…



Thursday, 21 November 2013

No-November already!

Another month has zipped by without being realised and so I thought I should update the blog again. Things are very much the same – still self-employed, still waiting to move house, still waiting for the adoption process to conclude.

This also means that hobby is still on hold. I'n my eagerness I packed everything model related away a fortnight ago, only to be told we won't be moving just yet. With that in mind I'm slowly coming around to the idea of digging out a limited number of models and paints and dipping my toe back in. My painting tray is now spotless so it's the perfect time.


I also made a couple of purchases this week. I found myself on Ebay last weekend bidding on a couple of Blood Bowl teams. I like the idea of Blood Bowl, I always have. Myself and Bull used to play many moons ago but in my over-competitive haze of that era I didn't enjoy it as much due to Bull's Orks being really rather good. I like the fact that it is a pick up and put down kind of game – once you have a team you don't need to buy anything else (unless you wanted another team that is) and can play without much prep at all. So I purchased my old team back (as it were, not the actual models I used to have) the Undead. I also picked up a Dark Elf team… and some Humans. Hopefully the limited number of models will mean they get painted quickly (I shall not be going for a competition-level paint scheme this time) and I can always stick the excess back on Ebay.


I've also been looking at Warhammer Fantasy. As much as I don't want to give GW any more of my money, I like the idea of having a small army to play should the occasion arise. I still have the remnants of my old Warriors of Chaos army – well, 12 chaos warriors and a couple of sorcerers is about the sum of it – and it makes sense to make use of it that buy something completely new. With the new edition of WHFB pencilled in for next year it seems a good time to get a fledgling 500 points together.

I also looked through my Nurgle marines last night. Still a lot of models to paint there as well. Something else to be thinking about. As much as I don't want to try and paint too much too soon, it would be good to have a game now and again will Bull seeing as I have the models!

That's it for now. I'm hoping the next blog post won't be too far off, especially if I actually have something to blog about!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Update…



Given that it is a month since my last post, I thought I should give you folks an update.

Basically there has been no hobby for the last four weeks. You may recall I left my full time job to reacquaint myself with the role of freelance designer – needless to say that this has taken up a lot of my time.

If that wasn't stressful enough, we decided to move house a fortnight ago and have since sold our house (in 3 days without it ever reaching the marketplace) and had an offer accepted on a potential new home. This too has added stress and taken time away from the hobby – throw in mortgage negotiations, estate agents and solicitors and you can understand why my head is spinning at the moment.

Finally, the icing on the cake if you will, we are halfway through the adoption process and have been on various courses and had interviews with social workers, which is set to continue.

Despite the intense current we seem to be swimming against at the moment, all is good. My first commission as a freelance designer is a games-related one which is very, very exciting. Lots of other non-gaming projects upcoming for the new year. The very real possibility of a new home and family in the new year also makes this a very exciting time. Lifechanging.

The playtesting for Dark Crucible has completely de-railed so I will be doing some tweaks then putting a beta version online for anyone to download and comment on. The army lists will be expanded to include Vikings soon too.



The latest highlight was a trip up to London this last weekend. We went to the Wembley Arena to see Alter Bridge, Shinedown and Halestorm in concert (above - we're somewhere in the middle just above Miles Kennedy's head). Superb evening.

It was also my wife's first experience of a true rock concert – a real benchmark.

So what was her highlight of the evening?
…bumping into Angela Rippon as we came out of the hotel lift!

Ah well.


To be continued…



Sunday, 22 September 2013

Gaming Board: part 3 – Terrain Inspiration

Torc Waterfall, Killarney National Park

See part 2 here.

With the blank canvas that is my new gaming board I needed a direction for the terrain. Just prior to going on holiday to Ireland a week ago I had been reading up about the Teutoburg Forest massacre in AD 9. It seemed the perfect resource for a Dark Crucible scenario and so the first lot of terrain should be based around a forest.


The trip to Ireland provided plenty of inspiration for my forest. It also showed me how you can have a very green board and it not be one dimensional, from a colour perspective. Ireland is a very green place but the range of greens on show was truly astounding. The rest of this blog post is made up of some things that caught my eye whilst on holiday that may or may not become terrain in the future.

Lady's View, Killarney National Park





Blarney Castle, Co Cork

Ross Castle, Killarney

To be continued…




Thursday, 19 September 2013

Holiday Observations – Ireland


Arrived back home this afternoon after a lovely windswept, rain-sodden, sun-tinged week in the Emerald Isle. It's one of those places you always feel you should go and visit, being so close and all, especially if you have family from there (like most of the US if the visitors were anything to go by – met more yanks than Irish).

I'll be showing some photos that I took in a later post, when I get back to the gaming board, as I've brought lots of inspiration back with me. However, as a stop-gap I thought I would highlight a couple of things I learned or observed while I was there. Just my opinion – feel free to disagree ;)

First of all, living in Kent, it's only an hour away on a plane to Dublin. That is insane – we were in the queue at Hertz to collect the car for longer than our flight (which says as much about Hertz as it does the travel times… but don't get me started on those cowboys).

It's not cheap. For some reason I thought it would be one of the cheaper holidays we've taken in recent years but without going overboard (aside from a massage treatment after a day of walking) we manage to spend a disturbing amount of money without realising it. Time to tighten the belt. I'm sure if you know people over there who can navigate you to the more cost effective places to eat, drink and visit, you could come away with more cash left in your pocket.

Driving there is virtually the same as driving in the UK, but with much less traffic. The motorways were only two lanes for the most part but the traffic (once away from Dublin) was like an early hours Sunday morning drive. The main roads have a large 'hard shoulder' that doubles up as a lane for slow traffic which is genius and meant no long hold ups behind lorries or tractors. The only thing that stumped me a little was everything from speed to distances was in kilometres.

The weather. Yes it rained, just like everyone said it would. However, it was also very sunny. Because of the high winds where we were the weather was very changeable… I'm talking minutes between a heavy downpour and cloudless blue sky then back to rain. Incredible thing to watch. It meant you had to be prepared, but as we were it was not a problem. One taxi driver described it as four seasons in four hours and he wasn't far wrong.

The people. Maybe it's because we're in an economic downturn and people have a lot more to think about these days, but the image of the ever-friendly, chatty Irish man/woman beaming… no. It was no different to being in the UK. People were just as miserable, with a few exceptions. Given a lot of people we spoke to were in the service/tourism industry I found this surprising. As I said, there were a few exceptions… and the exceptions were exceptional to be sure. That's not to say that they're not passionate – we had a day of demonstrations in Dublin yesterday that spilled into lots of pushing and shoving with the Garda (police)… and that was the pensioners complaining about cuts. I overheard one guy say to a Garda that people are just very angry at the moment in the city.

The countryside. I know they call it the Emerald Isle but I was blown away by how beautiful the place is. Looking through the photos we took, it seems like I've ramped up the saturation on the greens, but the trees, grass and mountains were such vivid colours it took my breath away. The landscape is reminiscent of the Lake District, in the North of England, but a Wizard of Oz version of it. We spent a couple of days in the National Park near Killarney and it was beautiful. This time last year we were at Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park and I couldn't get over what a spiritual place it was – this place gave me a very similar feeling… one that puts you in your place and makes you appreciate these lovely environments.

So, that (in a nutshell) was Ireland for me. Aside from Dublin we only really did the south. It was not quite what I expected but it was a very beautiful place and I'm so glad we went. I would like to go back at some point a do Northern Ireland as well as the more northern and western parts of Eire.

Normal service on the blog should resume next week!


Thursday, 12 September 2013

Malifaux: New Rasputina Plastic Starter


No more developments on the Gaming Board as we're in Ireland this week.

However, I thought I'd do an "inside the box" blog post – this time it's the Children of December starter set for Malifaux 2nd Edition.

I have to admit that my keen interest in Malifaux stalled around the time they switched from metal to plastic models, coinciding with book 4. I noticed that the new plastics felt very delicate compared to the metal models and wasn't convinced. My online GenCon purchases last year sealed it and I've never looked back.


When Malifaux 2nd Edition was announced my interest stirred and when I saw the imagery for the new crew box sets I was keen to see more. Shinybloodyitis struck at GenCon time last month and I ordered some bits, including the Rasputina "Children of December" plastic set.


The bits on the sprues seem very much as I remembered them a year ago – fragile – except the re-imagined Golem of course who really is a monster. The Gamin are very thin and delicate, not sure how much abuse they will take as their arms and legs are little bigger than the metal pins I use on larger models.


Rasputina came in six pieces and went together very easily. I'd be interested to see this model side by side with the original Raspy and I'm sure she's tiny compared to the metal version.

Next I decided to tackle the Golem. He was made up of 10+ pieces spread over a couple of sprues. Whilst he's a reasonably straightforward model to build it wasn't always obvious which piece went where – the picture doesn't help much and I was left with a piece over that seemed to have no home. Eventually I got him finished and he truly is a beast.


The Gamin were easy builds though just as spindly as predicted. The Wendigo, hmmm – I don't like the fact that he's got another model on his base that he's beating on (don't like the idea of a totem model being taller than its master) so I may clip him free from his victim and model him on some rocks instead.


The plastic is of good quality and there were minimal mold lines on the pieces. Very nice kit, just have to learn how to play the new Malifaux!



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