Thursday, 31 December 2015

Goodbye 2015… Hello 2016


Well if 2014 was a quiet hobby year, 2015 was positively comatose. I think I managed less than half a dozen games of anything all year and less than a dozen hours painting! …in a whole year!!


I kicked off the year by buying a load of random models in the hope of kickstarting something. I got my mojo back a few weeks later painting up the dynamic duo, ready for a game of Batman. Eventually – in mid April – we got to play our game… Batman vs the Joker. As fun as it was the rules just didn't do it for me and left me a little flat. But never fear Salute was just around the corner!


Salute this year was the best in a long time. We saw quite a few start up games on show and it was great to see people trying to get their own ideas out there. Very inspiring. So much so that I got back into my Normans vs Outlaws project and tried to get things moving. I decided to give myself a year to get it as far as I could before making a decision about investing serious money into it and having a proper go at launching a game. Roll on Salute 2016!


August saw another flexing of the Batman's muscles as he took on Mr Awdry's Penguin (on a wonderfully appropriate gaming board). And this was swiftly followed up by a sunny afternoon's worth of Zombicide with Mr Awdry and Mr Bull.


It was at the end of August that I let slip that my secret project is called Hood, and spent a little time explaining what I have in mind and showing off some of the commissioned artwork. This has been a slow burner in the background and, if I'm honest, has kept me going when no other form of hobby activity was possible. Whether it's any good or not will be decided later but hopefully we'll see some playtesting of the re-re-rewritten rules in the next few months.


I was still floundering in hobby oblivion at the end of October when Bull suggested I find a cool model to paint, to get me back in. I went back to Guild Ball, a game we had invested in at Salute, and bought a few more models. It was enough to give me a jump start and November became all about GB. I even started painting a model or two! November ended up having the most blog posts since 2012!!


December has followed November's trend of 'how many blog posts in a month' and has been quite an eclectic month which saw a passing interest in Frostgrave emerge.

And so the year has come to a close – lots of enthusiasm but not a lot of time to spend partaking in our wonderful hobby.

++++++++++

As for 2016, I'm not sure I can have too many hobby resolutions. My family will no doubt come first as it has for the last 12 months and that will restrict available time.

Having said that, I'd like to play more games. Bull moved closer during the summer so there are no more journeys over to Tunbridge Wells to game. My friend Chris recently expressed an interest to get involved with the gaming to some degree and I have discovered two more potential gamers within our NCT group. Running out of excuses not to play!


I'm hoping Guild Ball gets a decent run at the beginning of the year. Both Bull and I have invested some cash in this game and it remains very appealing. We finally got our first few games of Guild Ball in today – more on that later.

With GW announcing the re-emergence of the Specialist Games division we're eagerly waiting to see the Blood Bowl and Necromunda releases. No doubt these games will find a way onto the gaming calendar again this year too. Be interested to see how playing Blood Bowl compares after a few games of Guild Ball ?!



Then there's Zombicide and Black Plague. With Mr Awdry, Bull and myself all pledging for the latter (and receiving boxed games in time for Christmas) it can be guaranteed that you will see a zombie-related blog post or two here soon.

I'd also love to get back into the painting with some regularity. I've enjoyed my time with the Guild Ball Butchers so it would be great to carry that on (but not painting all those plastic Zombicide zombies).

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and all the best for the New Year!


Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas One And All…


With Christmas Day arriving imminently I thought I'd sneak a quick Merry Christmas post in before I close down for a few days. We're away for a bit this holiday but will be back in time for New Year.

Bull and I finally got a game day booked in the diary – the opening bout of Guild Ball on New Year's Eve!

That's right, the painting clock has started ticking as myself and Bull looked to face off this time next week – it'll be good to get a game in before the start of the New Year. This has naturally instilled a certain amount of panic as, despite only having three models to paint, I'm only half way!

Stay tuned to see how all this turns out, no doubt there will be a game (battle) report on New Year's Day (or thereabouts).



Merry Christmas everyone and all the best for the New Year!

See you soon.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A Frostgrave Warband?


I get a lot of non-hobby time (like whilst I'm at work) to think about, well, everything and anything really. Today I was contemplating whether I had enough of the right models in storage to create a Frostgrave warband (should the need arise). I have to say it seems likely, so let's have a quick look!


First of all you need a Wizard. Obviously I'm going to go with one of the darker wizarding arts, such as Necromancer or Summoner, so the models need to reflect that. The obvious choice in my metal mountain would be my GW Dark Emissary (above). I'm desperate to use him for something after so many years in a box and he would be perfect for this. 

Image from War Games Store

I also have a Warhammer Chaos Sorceror (painted!) but he looks rather daemonic and is crouched very low – great for dodging arrows but not very intimidating. He may work as an apprentice though… hmmm.


Another alternative for an apprentice is this Sorceress from Heresy. She may be looking all blonde and lovely in this image, but if I were to paint her with black hair and a dark dress she could well look the part.


I like the idea of including a Knight and/or Templar in the list (despite the coin cost) and have a few potentials. The above Knight from Otherworld Miniatures was made for a game like Frostgrave.


I also have a stack of Warhammer Fantasy Chaos Warriors who would fit the bill, if a little static with the pose. They would really fit in with an evil Wizard!


A while ago I bought some Reaper and Darksword miniatures. Whilst I can't remember the exact contents without looking in boxes, there are a couple of potential Templar models. The guy above is very eye-catching. You can imagine him in a dark paint scheme and maybe a red cloak looking utterly evil. He maybe a bit too much of a main character for a lowly soldier though.


I also have this character, who is already looking rather evil. I'd even be tempted to shave his hair off. He would definitely fit in with my Necromancer's warband but again, is he too characterful?


Another Otherworld miniature I have is the Cleric I bought at Salute last year (or was it the year before?). He could serve as an Apothecary perhaps or even some kind of melee soldier.



I do have some leftover Lord of the Rings plastic rangers. These would be great to cover the role of Ranger or Archer – maybe even Thief – and it would be handy to have some form of ranged attack in the warband.


Finally I have an untouched box of plastic Norman infantry. These would certainly fill the role of Man-at-arms or even Knight.


Then there's always the models from Zombicide: Black Death that I received recently… oh yes!

So without even looking through any boxes it's clear that I have models to fill many of the roles available in a Frostgrave warband. The only real issue I see is scale. Half of these models are 28mm and the rest are heroic 30mm. I guess I need to dig them out of their hiding places and let hem stand side by side to be sure.


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

More Frostgrave…



Whoops. Seems I just had to purchase the Lich Lord expansion for Frostgrave.

It's the same size as the main book but this time a 64 page perfect bound, soft cover publication. It's a great read with some excellent scenarios and superb additions to the soldier list. Because it's primarily a scenario book it included more background fluff to read, which I enjoyed – each scenario building up to an inevitable finale. Then there's new spells and the opportunity to take your wizard to the 'Dark Side'. Now we're talking!

Obviously I haven't played a single game of Frostgrave, but as a casual observer it certainly seems like a worth addition. Even if you never intend to play Frostgrave there are some interesting scenario ideas that could be adapted for other games.




Monday, 21 December 2015

Happy Birthday Baby Boy!


Hard to believe but it's a year since our baby boy Finn was born.

Happy birthday little monkey!


Saturday, 19 December 2015

Too Good To Be True


There's a saying that goes something along the lines of "if something looks to good to be true it probably is".

You may recall my blog post last week about Rackham miniatures and having discovered a potential source for them. I was informed by my visitors that the site in question – cadwallon.com – was in fact a company selling re-casts and that the only licensed source for Rackham models was now at Cool Mini Or Not.

I had placed an order to see if this treasure trove of Rackham goodness was too good to be true and today a parcel arrived. I thought I'd take a look at what I got and compare it to the closest genuine Rackham model I have.

Upon opening the box I was greeted by a bubblewrap-filled vision that I would normally associate with second-hand Ebay purchases. The model itself came in a small zip lock bag – main body, separate arms and a random square base. There was no Rackham base or cards to go with this model.


The first and obvious thing I noticed was the flash. Rackham models (as I recall) had no flash and the mould lines were very subtle. Not so here. Large bit of flash on Misericorde's leg and bits on the arms.

Upon closer inspection there were things not quite right. The cast isn't sharp – at least not Rackham sharp and there are irregularities in the sword blade – it's not a consistent depth across the length of the blade.


I dug out one of the models from the Hybrid Nemesis box set to compare. You may not be able to see from these photos but the quality of the two hardly compare at all.

So there you have it. I finally got my hands on a Misericorde model, but was it worth it?




Friday, 18 December 2015

The Force Awakens Alright!


Last night I went to see the latest Star Wars film, with a friend of mine as the wife won't watch sci-fi. I'll admit to being cautiously optimistic going in. After the huge (overall) disappointment with the prequels you have to brace yourself just in case, but I liked what JJ Abrams did with the Star Trek movies so there was always the thought that maybe, just maybe he would be able to deliver on the monumental task of pleasing veteran Star Wars fans like me.

I'll do my best not to spoil anything about the plot for those who haven't seen it.

On the plus side, it's Star Wars so seeing something new is (almost) always a good thing. I liked the new characters Finn and Rey – they felt like heroes in the making, but not there yet – the BB8 droid was endearing and not annoying. Kylo Ren was great as the Sith apprentice, intimidating yet flawed, prone to immature tantrums with a lightsabre when things don't go his way. I loved his pseudo sibling rivalry with General Hux and their childlike moaning about each other to Supreme Leader Snoke. The humour this time round actually brings a smile to your face rather than the childish slapstick from the prequels. The aerial battle scenes were superb and made great use of the 3d, took your breath away at times. Oscar Isaac was very cool as Poe and came across as a real heroic type for the new kids to look up to. Great stuff.

On the downside well, I love a great baddie but I thought Captain Phasma was a waste of space. He/she/it sounded just like Gwendoline Christie (funny that!) and therefore Brienne of Tarth, coming across as rather feminine which undermined any Boba Fett-style smouldering intimidation that may have been generated up to the point words were spoken. I thought this character was going to be an ace in the hole for the First Order and a real nasty git, with a James Earl Jones type voiceover, but no. The oldies were back and I'm not sure it brought a lot to the party except nostalgia. Harrison Ford did a good turn as Han Solo, but looked very old and a bit past it. Leia didn't seem to contribute much except as an emotional foil to Solo. Luke Skywalker was absent for the bulk of the film, since he was the treasure everyone was trying to find, though his appearance when it came was high impact and very jedi cool – he didn't need to say a word. He will no doubt play a bigger part in the later film(s). Chewbacca probably came out the best of the old crew, the sarcastic looks and 'comments' often the centre of the comedy.

The only other thing that niggled a little was that at times it really felt like a Star Wars reboot. There were a lot of things that gave me a feeling of deja vu and were very much a nod to the first three films. We had our heroes running around a pseudo Death Star trying to disable the shields and escape. We had trench runs in X-Wings. We had a desert planet, a forest planet and a snow planet all in one film. The only thing missing were Ewoks, Hutts and Wompas.

I had picked up on one spoiler, very early on whilst they were still filming, and unfortunately it turned out to be true – though you could see it coming a mile away regardless, the plot was very predictable.

All that being said it was a worthwhile visit to the cinema. It won't win any best picture oscars but it was a non-stop emotional ride with plenty to appreciate if you're a Star Wars fan and a lot of fun even if you're not. The characters, both good and bad, developed nicely over the course of the film and set things up nicely for Episode VIII. Definitely worth a watch and a hell of a lot better than the prequels. None of the characters annoyed me, which I wasn't expecting – C3-PO came close but luckily didn't have too much screen time. It felt like Star Wars but with a twist and I came away feeling rather upbeat yet contemplative. It wasn't as epic as I was hoping for, but I think that will come in later films. As a starting episode this did a good job and I look forward to seeing it a second time to take more of it in.




Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Frostgrave


I made a cheeky impulse purchase the other day, the Frostgrave rulebook. I don't know why, I was on Amazon looking for something and before I knew it there was another item in my basket!

It's a superb, perfect bound, hardback book slightly smaller than A4 (I'm guessing US letter size) and is a great read. The premise of the game (as I like to think of it) is Mordheim with wizards. You choose a school of magic for your wizarding band leader to wield, choose an apprentice, then flesh out the rest of your band with soldiers – these can be made up of Knights, Thieves, Apothecaries, Archers, you name it!


A one-off game consists of two wizards and their bands fighting across a 3'x3' board to collect treasure tokens. If you're playing a campaign, your wizard can collect experience (as well as treasure) and level up over time to become more and more powerful. You can collect various cash and magic items from treasure tokens which can in turn boost your band (who don't get to level up).

It all sounds very fun and with a model count of between 5 and 8 models there's no great time investment painting models.


The campaigns also include creatures that you can encounter as you wind your way through the streets of Frostgrave, including zombies, skeletons, rats. With the first supplement 'Thaw of the Lich Lord' already released, and another 'Into the Breeding Pits' due soon, the game is already expanding, offering players new troop types and challenges.

The rules themselves seem very straightforward, nothing earth shatteringly new or original, yet rather intuitive to folks who've played these types of skirmish games before.


Now, North Star have a host of models specifically produced for Frostgrave, including a wizard for each of the available schools of magic. They also do some great looking plastic kits for soldiers and cultists. However, I'm sure you folks will have suitable models already kicking around in your metal mountains, so this could be an easy entry game at a time when we're all looking to save money. It's an opportunity for a bit of fun with a new game and a chance to use up some spare models and get creative with spare bitz.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Zombicide Goes Medieval


Well, they promised it would be here before Christmas and they lived up to their word. Cool Mini Or Not delivered the box set of Zombicide:Black Plague yesterday – the first instalment from the summer Kickstarter.


It's Zombicide alright, but not as we know it!

I opened the box and had a quick rummage around. It all looks very similar to the original, I just get the impression they've improved things across the board. The dashboards look great and the associated colour-coded pegs and base covers look really useful. But enough about that… what about the models?!


They definitely seem to have improved things in the last few years – these models have tonnes of detail on them and are just begging to be painted. Whether it'll be enough to get me to paint them is another matter, but we will see.


They are very nice though.


No doubt there will be games played over the Christmas holidays…




Thursday, 10 December 2015

More Painting


Another week's worth of illness comes to a close – this time tonsilitis – and I used a little time (now that I am coherent) to paint.


Ox got some more attention and is finished, aside from retouching on his base and some static grass. Taking the lead from Bull's Masons, I went a non-metallic route with the weapons. It's far more time consuming but looks a lot classier on the finished model. I did this with my Malifaux models way back and they're still some of my favourites in the huge collection of miniatures I have.


I also got to start on Brisket, but that wasn't going as well so I stopped and walked away.

We potentially have our first game of Guild Ball booked for New Year's Eve, so the clock is ticking and there's models to be painted.

Stay tuned folks.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

From Beyond The Grave


With all this recent chat about favourite models, my thoughts inevitably found their way to Rackham – creators of Confrontation and purveyors of some of the finest models ever seen.

They punched above their weight due to employing incredibly talented individuals and kept an excellent attention to detail throughout the miniature-making process (I can't comment on the game itself as I never played it). They were ahead of their time. When the company was resigned to history back in 2008, it signalled a great loss to the gaming community and proved that nobody was safe from the recession. As a fan of their work I was simply devastated.


I have spent time since then trying to collect the odd model here and there off Ebay, but prices are creeping up to the point where it's not really a viable option. I still have a lot of their models but I had come to terms with the fact that there were some models on my wish list I just wasn't going to get my hands on.


A chance internet search the other day led me to a website called Cadwallon.com which blew my mind (Cadwallon was Rackham's RPG and is now a board game by FFG). It appeared to sell a large proportion of models from Rackham's back catalogue. Not only that, but there were links to a Confrontation community that is alive and kicking and ready to release the next version of the rules (the website's in Italian so you'll have to translate). The community website has access to lots of Confrontation and Hybrid stat cards and copies of Cry Havoc (Rackham's quarterly magazine). Wow.



Well, I couldn't let this one go without testing it out, so I ordered the miniature I've been after for years… Misericord. I placed my order and an hour later got a Paypal invoice. Once I'd paid and received confirmation I waited patiently to see if it was all a scam. Yesterday I got confirmation that a package was on its way from Ukraine, so I'm starting to get a little excited.

If this turns out to be a sure fire way of getting old Rackham models then I am going to be over the moon. This could become my favourite website ever.

Stay tuned.




Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Finding Proxies – Part 3


You may recall a while back I expressed the need for a new miniature to represent the Hood in my new ruleset. I had been using Aragorn from GW's release of The Three Hunters (above), but his pose didn't really fit with what I needed.

Well, I have found something much better – not perfect but the closest match to what I have in my head. It's from a little manufacturer called Mad Puppet Miniatures.


This is the Wood Elf from their Fantasy Range and I think he looks awesome. Of course I will have to do some obligatory tinkering (I want to remove the blade in his right hand and replace it with a bow), but it's looking good.


The model arrived today and it looks like both hands will need pinning. Tricky, as they're so small but should be ok. My main concern though, as usual, was the scale – I just felt he was going to be too big. Thankfully I just about get away with it. He looks in good proportion next to the Rangers so that is fine with me!

Now I just need to build and paint it ;)

Add it to the list…!


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