Saturday, 13 May 2017

New Zombicide – Zombie Sculpts

To compliment the new Heroes, here are the new Green Horde zombie sculpts. I'm find these quite a mixed bag, but am reserving judgement fully until we get to see the final things. 17 days to go till the Kickstarter!






Wednesday, 10 May 2017

New Zombicide – Hero Sculpts

We have the full set of 3D renders of the Hero models from the upcoming Zombicide: Green Horde Kickstarter. They've gone down the digital route this time it seems – time will tell how they compare to the Black Plague miniatures!







It's hard to tell how cool or not these minis are going to be. I'm pretty sure that at the final size they'll look cool and paint up well. Now just have to pick a favourite!

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The Romans & Celts Return…

This blog has not seen Romans and Celts since August 2013. They've been safely packed away after my first attempt at writing the Dark Crucible rules was abandoned. There's been no inclination to revisit them, especially as my rule-writing exploits has turned to Project–Hood, Project–Out Of Time and more recently an adaptation of Zombicide Black Plague as a skirmish arena game. I've found my attention floats from one of these projects to the next in a merry-go-round fashion, moving on when the motivation tires.

Romans hold the hilltop

In a bizarre twist of fate, I found myself back writing out stats for Romans and Celts this weekend as myself and Bull arranged a last minute play-test morning. The latest incarnation of Project–Hood was reaching a plateau where things needed to be tested thoroughly. However, I took the basic ruleset and stripped out all the resource management and unique characters. Back to absolute basics. I then converted the character list so we could play with basic troops alone – the Romans and Celts as we have plenty of models for those.

Celts taunt the Romans!

I love sitting in isolation trying to conjure up new mechanics and fun iterations of things I've not seen used before. I love putting it all down in a document and refining things, then refining them some more. However, it doesn't matter how much things make sense on paper, the one thing I have learned is that they do not often survive the first round of play-testing.

We played through a simple king-of-the-hill type scenario, nothing complicated but there was an objective rather than random skirmishing. Then we simply talked through options and directions, rolling out specific encounters to see how things felt. Many of the mechanics I was completely sold on previously fell apart quite quickly in the hands of another player. Our discussions and thought process evolved over the four hour spell, and what we ended up with is quite far removed from the 9am document.

I made a tonne of notes whilst there and came away to distill them into something logical, playable and balanced (if that's possible). I'm hoping these core mechanics, once more concrete, will form an underlying basis for a couple of these rules projects at least. Time will tell.

Monday, 1 May 2017

New Zombicide – Zombies

I had a look at the teased artwork for the Zombicide: Green Horde heroes last week and now have the imagery of the related zombies.

The things I can see here of significance are firstly the walker seems much bulkier than we're used to and also that it's wearing armour of sorts. Hmmmm…

There was talk of goblins early on in the press releases, and that they appeared in packs, so I wonder if we're going to see a Crow-type base with multiple armoured goblins on it, or just individuals as normal?

Ironically this guy seems no different from the regular walker, based on the crop of this illustration. More armour and spikes can't be good for the heroes though!

Having dealt with abominatroll and abonina-minotaur recently, I'm struggling to be too intimidated by this new Orc abomination – unless he turns out to be toughness 4 of course!

I like the look of this Necromancer. The character Necromancers from the Kickstarter have added a new dimension to the game (I hate you Grinn!) so I'm hoping that this guy is more than just a new sculpt.

So that's everything we've seen so far. Aside from being told that the new zombies are tougher than previously, we don't know much about the new game. In the mean time there's plenty of life left in Black Plague yet!!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

New Zombicide – Heroes

Guillotine Games has been drip feeding us with new character art these last couple of weeks, ramping up anticipation for the Kickstarter at the end of May. Yesterday the group of heroes included in the Green Horde box was completed.

I don't think we've had a Saracen-esque warrior yet, so I like this departure. It conjures up game ideas based upon the Sinbad adventures.

 Wearing a wolf's head as a hat, with a nose ring and some kind of emerald axe, Berin appears to be the angry Dwarf of the group. Intrigued to see what his rules will be as he's got some interesting gear.

This guy looks like a standard human, an imperial type with crossbow and sword. He's meant to be trustworthy and fearless.

My guess is that Megan is the Magic user of the group, given her staff and array of potions. Interestingly she has a bandage over one eye in this illustration, but not in the box cover image at the top of the page.

Let's be honest, Rolf is Conan. Brute force with little finesse. I'm guessing a melee monster.


Seli is my favourite character so far. A skinny tribal elf of some kind, with a funky sword and dagger by the looks of it. This has the potential to be a fantastic model to paint and I'm intrigued to see what skills she has.

So there we have it folks. If things follow the previous release, they're our 6 heroes for the Green Horde box set, with another 4 in the Wulfsburg-style expansion, and who knows what else in the way of stretch goals come Kickstarter time.

I'll have a look at the zombies that have been revealed thus far in the next post. I have to say, how excited am I?!!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Miniature Painting & Monty Python

It seems I have found my hobby haven in Zombicide: Black Plague at the moment. Our regular Tuesday Night Gaming has kept enthusiasm levels high thanks to Bull's random character approach, and we're working our way through all the characters we have.

Needless to say, despite a new Kickstart campaign on the doorstep, I have been on Ebay tracking down some of the models I wished I'd bought first time around.

One of the bonuses to the renewed hobby enthusiasm is that I've returned to the painting table after an 18 month hiatus. Inspired by the rate that Bull was painting his BP characters, and playing characters I'd dismissed as a waste of time, I now have a painting list that grows daily. Thing is, I'm really enjoying the painting!

Nothing pushes your painting than a deadline set in stone. I found tournaments great for this back in the 40k days, but this time we had arranged a BP game day at Awdry Towers for the Easter Saturday and time was flying by. I sat up till past midnight to get models finished in time.

On the day we decided to make it a Monty Python outing, and used Michael's non-Zombicide models that he had lovingly painted up some time ago to an exquisite level.

We managed to get a couple of games in – although it was actually the same game twice, as we died horribly first time around… how very Monty Python-esque!

Despite the quest only requiring one character to get to red level then exit the board, we toiled for hours to reach our goal. As the characters headed through the orange level of experience points, things started to hot up. At one point we had FOUR abominations on the board at the same time!

In the end we cruised, carefully and steadily, through to our goal – no rash decisions or over the top heroics (though I had to be reined in on a couple of occasions).

Fantastic game – my thanks to Mr Awdry for being a fantastic host as always, and to Bull for providing the leadership we needed to survive (second time around!).

More painting soon!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Zombicide Green Horde is coming in May!

Those of you who play Zombicide Black Plague may have already heard the news, but I only found out last night after returning from a failed Tuesday Night Gaming quest at Bull's. There is a new Z:BP kickstarter coming at the end of May to launch a new expansion. The Green Horde will include infected Orcs and Goblins.

I am sooooo excited!

This may actually make up for me missing Salute this year, and has certainly become the focal point for the year!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Black Plague Escalation

A new month dawns, and I thought I'd wait till I was well passed April Fool's Day before posting this latest bit of news – I've actually painted a model, and finished it!

That's right folks, it's been a good 18 months since I finished painting Ox for Guildball, which was my last completed model. This time my attention has been focused on Zombicide Black Plague. After three consecutive weeks of Tuesday Gaming Night (albeit they were mostly on a Wednesday), enthusiasm for the fantasy board game has hit new heights.

What has injected the new enthusiasm is using EVERYTHING from the Kickstarter rewards. All the monsters, all the cards, the lot. We've been working our way through the scenarios using a team that is picked entirely at random. What this has meant is that the usual suspects don't always get a look in, and you're forced to use models and skills you've never looked at before. There are at least two models that I had dismissed when creating my dream team last year, but was dealt in games this last month – and they proved to be pretty awesome.

Anyway, back to the painting. I got a few hours on Saturday morning to myself and decided to use the time to crack out the paints again. After watching Bull steadily paint the models we've used over the weeks (or the high performing ones at least!) I was inspired to start painting some of my own.

I plucked four out of the collection – Falstaff, Mizar, Morrigan and Grim – and began laying down the colour. It didn't take long for Falstaff to become the favourite for an early complete, so I concentrated on him.

Happy to say he is now complete. Very enthusiastic about the painting right now, so need to keep the momentum up. Morrigan probably the next in line so stay tuned.

Now, just need to get Falstaff in a game now.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

More Zombicide Black Plague Fun

In a desperate effort to keep Tuesday Night Gaming alive this week, it became Wednesday Night Gaming instead. Bull was keen to press on with our foray into Zombicide: Black Plague, with all the cards and extra (huge!!) models from the Kickstarter.

The quest he'd chosen was ominously titled The Ambush, and it said that only 2 characters had to survive. Given that almost all the quests say that everyone must survive, this was bad news indeed. However, looking at the board and the objectives we just couldn't see what was so difficult.

It soon became apparent that the narrow corridors and spawn points in close proximity to each other would cause bottlenecks and have the Necromancers sprinting off the board faster than Usain Bolt! Our fears became reality when the first Necromancer had appeared and hoofed it away before we could take her down (the dreaded queen again). However, I'm jumping the gun a little here.

As was the case last time, Bull and I both chose a single character and the rest were handed out randomly. Bull chose melee master Redcap Rodney, and I chose my Dream Team marks(wo)man Cadence. For randoms, I got magic caster Mizar and necromancer-type Ostokar – Bull got searcher James and Lucas. They were 4 characters that I was not familiar with but the beauty of doing things randomly like this is that you start to appreciate skills you knew little about previously.

So, one Necromancer had already run off the board, we had no weapons of significance, then Redcap got caught short and died. Things looked bad by turn 3, but then (whilst we were all still blue level experience) the standard Abomination appeared! Wow, just wow! We really were in a hole, so much so even Bull was ringing out the doom and gloom. Totally against character, however, I was still very confident that the quest was doable, we just had to think before we acted and make the most of the abilities we had.

Long story short, we battled our way through by the skin of our teeth for long periods of the game. We had moments that looked forlorn, but with a bit of careful planning we created some daylight and broke through the zombie waves. We came close to losing both James and Lucas, plus Ostokar took an early bite that he carried with him for most of the game.

The key to our eventual success was the Invisibility spell, Ostokar's Zombie Link ability (giving him an extra go whenever the zombies got an extra go, and James' searching which turned up a host of nice weapons mid-game. Cadence proved to be quite a shot, earning herself the Orcish crossbow by taking out 5 NPCs, on top of the host of other kills.

Fantastic quest that is not to be taken lightly, especially when you use the full deck with the extended collection of Necromancer special character cards. We also purposefully kept the Abomination on the board, to avoid any of the big monsters appearing. This proved vital to the win.

Next time we're going completely random for the characters. Should spice things up just a little more!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The Art Of Character Concept Art

In a departure from all the recent gaming, I thought I'd take a quick look at what else I've been doing these last few weeks.

I've been a fan of concept art for as long as I can remember - probably from the days of seeing Jes Goodwin's 40k space marine concept sketches. I now have a vast library of collected images from the net of character concepts and comic book characters for when I'm developing my own personalities for gaming. I have posted on the blog in the past about inspirational art and have even had a go at digital art, drawing Roman soldiers and their armour. But drawing is something I haven't done seriously for decades.

Now, I have managed to get my rules for Project Hood to a decent point, ready for testing, so MY thoughts inevitably turn to visual representations of the characters involved. I had some (very expensive) concept art done in the past by Doug Telford, the guy who does a lot of the Guildball character art. Having lived with it for nearly two years I've decided that it's not quite what I had in mind. But rather than employ someone else to draw my characters I've decided to do it myself.

Drawing skills aside, this is quite a minefield in terms of choosing a style. The imagery will dictate the tone of the game absolutely. Is it a serious game or a fun game? Is it dark and gritty or cartoon-like and fun?

Initially I latched onto some fantastic work being done by Craig Bruyn. His characters have a chibi style to them, akin to Super Dungeon Explore. Whilst this is not something I would naturally gravitate towards, his style is packed with character and attitude without being overly cute. He makes it look terribly easy to draw like this, but he is truly a master at his craft. I love the quirkiness and simplicity, as well as the amazing amount of attitude his character drawings have. I had to give this a go!

My first attempt was a Soldier of Nottingham. Much fun was had playing with facial expressions and the various shapes - head, shield, helmet. Very happy with this little guy.

I moved on to draw my Hood character, and this is where things fell apart slightly. No matter how much attitude I put into the drawing, he still looking like a small child playing at being Robin Hood – not the look I was going for at all! I couldn't have the main character not being completely awesome.

 This left me in a bit of a quandary as I had thought my solution found. Back to the drawing board (so to speak!).

I looked at concept art and artists for hours and days. As easy as it was to find something I liked, I also needed to find a style that I could assimilate and reproduce to a decent standard (cannibalise?). It also had to be relatively effortless due to my distinct lack of spare time. Quick, easy results that look amazing – no problem!

I was watching a youtube video that was using a piece of art that really caught my eye and I felt compelled to find more from the artist. I soon discovered it was from Steven Sanchez DeviantArt page, and I felt like I'd unearthed something truly magical. So much character and attitude, with an angular graphic style that is not too distant from how I scribble anyway. This was surely the holy grail I had been looking for.

I decided to not mess about here and had a first stab at this style using Hood as the guinea pig. I was pretty pleased with the opening result. It was definitely encouraging, if not perfect. It had the Batman feel I was going for. I just need to give him a bit more of his own character. Just doing a head and shoulders image meant I could save a lot of time whilst still getting the character across.

Time to test the theory again, see if it would translate to Guy De Gisburne – The Raven.

The original concept art for Guy (pictured near the top of the page) was a good stab at the character I had in my head, but I wanted to really get the Darth Vader/Dredd feel across whilst maintaining an element of humanity (if that's not an oxymoron).

This one felt good from the off. It went though several stages of development at the pencil sketch stage, long before it saw any action on the computer. The style is definitely Steven Sanchez, but it's also definitely my take on it. It's more sketchy and rough around the edges. The digital colouring was great fun too, as well as adding textures to the clothes for an extra dimension.

I'm currently going back to my Hood drawing to see if I can match the intensity of The Raven. In addition, I'm looking at the other members of the respective warbands.

This has been quite a journey. I did not feel capable of doing my own artwork two years ago, and spent a lot of money getting two concept artists to give it a shot. Whilst the results were genuinely stunning, it always felt like they weren't quite the characters I had envisioned. This image for The Raven is not perfect, but it signifies a great amalgamation of the concept artists' work and my own ideas and skills. It has given me the confidence that this is my route forward. They may only be head shots effectively, but I can foresee the next step of expanding them to full body illustrations being straightforward. I need to establish the characters first, pin down a look and feel for them all.

Stay tuned…


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