Saturday, April 30, 2011

Book Wardens II (gk): test model

Inspiration is a fickle beast.

I outlined last time how I attempted (and unwittingly failed) to create a new look with new materials for my first efforts in Warmachine. Doh. This was, however, not my only inspirational misadventure in recent weeks.

It has been a while since I painted individual minis –having first suspended hobby time due to the arrival of baby-number-two and then redirected all of said hobby attention toward a certain convention earlier this month. You may have heard. Although I am officially “back” from to a place I never really left, I do not yet feel my mojo proper; I can only hope that it will return directly –and trust that it will. It always does.  

So. The Book Wardens (thank you, by the way, Tenzing for the top tip about the Serapeum. The current manifestation of the Book Wardens will be getting a fundamental revision as soon as I can sift through what works for them. It may take a little time to digest, but the idea is simply brilliant. Brilliant. Cheers). Here is the first test model that I completed for the resuscitation of that old chapter.

It simply isn’t working for me. Perhaps the he is still too metallic, or grim, or dark. Perhaps the other colors are lost somehow in the mix. To my way of thinking, these fellows lack a certain metaphysical kick in the loins that usually, viscerally pulls me into the model. Instead, I am left listless and cold –lamentably meh. I have been floundering slightly.

To remedy this situation I did what I always do in such circumstances… I copy someone else’s work until I find my feet again.

There is no shame in this, or at least I feel absolutely none in typing that statement. I sincerely believe that the internets were made specifically for these purposes. And so I do. In fact, I have copied two different ideas wholesale recently: one from an image I saw on BoLS (to be discussed later), and the one that inspired this fellow from GW’s own site. Go figure. Tom Kreps's Imperial Fists are visually arresting, and I found myself staring at them for a tremendously long time before I decided that this alone should be reason to have a bash at emulating what he has done.

Certainly, I suspect that my effort may look a bit too Rogal Dorn (or is it Lamenters?) to be a natural born Book Warden, but then the new iteration will not be Book Wardens precisely, so I may either change the colors slightly or invent some fluff to dodge the question.

Regardless, the dominant and bold use of yellow is an entirely new enterprise for me, and while admittedly derivative, it is at least getting me back in the mix and pushing me reasonably far from my comfort zone -which is the exact nature of my goal.

I am not yet sold on the red ribbons, but hesitated to go back to the standard parchment colors for fear of washing out the model too much. As I type, I am still undecided. In the mean time, he is fun. I like him more than I thought I would and may have found the basis for a new BW direction.

Well shall see. I hope to be able to type more about how I got my mojo back soon. 

Fingers crossed, everyone. Fingers crossed.   

Thursday, April 28, 2011

On the Table p.4: The Protectorate of sorts

This is an entirely new direction for me, and I feel no shame in admitting that I have arrived at Warmachine belatedly (maybe some small embarrassment, but I have legitimate excuses).

I am slowly-slowly -slowly warming to the fluff as much as the actual game system, and will confess freely that I was as nervous about one as I was the other. I am not yet "there" with the grand narrative, but Frozen Joe has spent a considerable amount of time and energy illuminating these matters in recent weeks and, well, he convinced me to try my hand at it --that, and a free starter-set from the AdeptiCon swag bag --that, and the fact it is plastic (well played, PP. I am here to tell you that your evil scheme is working. I adore plastic).

Until Saturday, I had only ever made the odd half-hearted “attempt” to drag myself along to the Warmachine table, but that alone marks the primary and seemingly most important distinction from this facet of hobby to my entry into that other game system you have seen across these pages –I never had to try with 40K. It was like an event horizon upon which I was inevitably drawn may years ago. I have since been rewarded with layer after layer of wonder, complexity, and depth, and I could only hope for the same again... and it eluded me initially. I admit. I was skeptical. 

Perhaps the comparison is unfair… but it is also unavoidable. I have invested countless hours in the grim dark future over the years, and this has lent a kind of inertia to the hobby for me. 

So, we shall see. The start is promising. Joe was kind enough to walk Chris and I through a few starter games on Saturday... and they were cracking fun. In fact, I think it fair to say that, in the span of one afternoon, I went from interested in a  purely pedestrian sense of the word, to excited, to enthusiastic, to tremendously chuffed about Warhmachine. Such dramatic apostasy. How appropriate (...more on those games first games in a future post). 

For now, I simply cannot wait to get to grips with the starter set. I was actually given Cryx in my swag, but Chris, whom Joe has also corralled into this grand experiment, had a much stronger feeling for the creepy critters, and so I swapped quite gladly (as I had none in particular at the time). I am told that the Protectorate is teeming with misguided zealotry, so I should not have too much trouble biting into that fluff. So far. So good (see: apostasy). 

I have also marked this occasion to dip an ambitious toe into those Game Color paints that I purchased so long ago and have yet to genuinely meddle. 

I am (perhaps predictably) keen to paint all those hulking monstrosities. After all, I am extremely fond of painting metals; however, this particular individual (Kreoss -whom I do not yet fully understand and whose proscribed colors I only glimpsed on the box, then immediately ignored) was the easiest to assemble and thus earned the privilege of test model. It is  a dubious honor, but I hope not to disappoint.

Having said that, I am disappointed. I do not love what I have done with him. In fact, I was really quite proud (a sure sign of impending disaster), and congratulated myself repeatedly while working for my willingness to dabble new materials, to boldly find new colors, to explore new combination to expand my personal hobby boundaries, etc. Then my eyes caught this old curmudgeon sulking in the corner of my bookshelf next to the Space Hulk gear. 


There are quite a few years between these two models, but there can be no mistaking that I inadvertently brought myself directly back into my own comfort zone ...while making a deliberate effort to avoid doing so. That is bad. The test mini shows it.

Still, I will not be deterred and hope to find bigger and better things with this range as soon as I get my head out... 

He has already started his Soylent Green bath, but never fear; you will be seeing more of him soon enough.  

A final note on PP plastic: so far, I have found it significantly less obedient than that of the GW variety. Joe described it as resiny-plastic, and I have to agree with his assessment... but how is that possible? Moreover, the bigger models (Jacks) are rather delicate in parts and require a bit of modeling finesse despite being rich in vitamin plastic. Is there a trick that I am missing? Come, Internets. Tell me everything. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Congratulations James!

Extremely large congratulations are due to thatguyjames for the honorable mention he received from GW yesterday.  James is the artist who designed the details/decals for the AdeptiCon tables as well as the beautiful Killzone Cards. 

During my first days in this hobby (somewhere in the darkest depths of the 80s), I spent hours and hours and hours nerdily staring at the models and armies collected in White Dwarf magazine, as well as in GW's stupefying rulebooks; Space Marine in particular was a favorite. In those days, I wanted nothing more than to see my own name underneath one of those photographs. I dreamed for days of making a model worth that kind of recognition, and felt scolded by the seeming impossibility of it. 

While I have outgrown that specific ambition (or rather, that ambition has outgrown me -Golden Daemon in particular has unceremoniously passed my abilities), I am still small enough both to envy and to admire a friend who has been recognized for his talent. Truly a scholar, a gentleman, and an artist.

Well done, James!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On the Table p.3: Daemons

The perceptive and keen may have noticed these two fellows loitering (with intent) in the background of the GK photos from the weekend. And there is a bit more of that going on here in this photo as well, to be sure...

Soon, very soon, these two will translate from the warp as enthusiastic new additions to Pitmann’s every-growing Iron Warriors collective. I have shown these beasties in some modest state several months ago, but want to add a fresh photo once again here as a counterpoint to all the GK goodness floating about the workspace; it is great fun to have these antagonists together like that. 

I am eager beyond reckoning to get paint to brush with these guys. I am just as eager to see Pitmann’s old colossus of a Daemon Prince retired, as he has unceremoniously been bashing away at whatever poor army I put in his path, and there have been quite a few, for years and years now. I am sure he deserves a nice long holiday back in the immaterium. If he doesn't, who does?

See you Thursday for the fourth installment of what I will be working on. After a cracking day out on Saturday, I am tremendously excited to share this next morsel of hobby zealotry.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

On the Table p.2 ½: The Book Wardens

We left off Friday wondering what a new and improved version of the Book Wardens might look like. 

This is where inspiration part two struck home and perfectly timed to meet the GK codex release. While building the Killzone tables for AdeptiCon, I was constantly trying to imagine the circumstances and history of this increasingly tangible place -foot by foot, table by table. Where/When possible, I enjoyed imagining these otherwise unnecessary details because it helped me invest in the actual “labor” part of the hobby, and it was a nice place for my mind to go while working.

The sixth table in the sequence is perhaps one of my favorites. The color scheme arrived mere days before the actual event and, while rough in spots, I found these interiors to be one of the places my eyes continually wandered during the event. What is this building exactly? Why the columns, and is that some kind of altar? If so, to what is that altar space dedicated? Who lives/works here? Is the building administrative or religious or both? Given several more weeks, these are the kinds of ideas that I would have hoped both to evoke more fully and to answer potentially with some manner of visual reference.

And lo. The Book Wardens live once more. Table Six, I have decided, is the entry to the aforementioned (but still anonymous) Inquisitor’s compound –or rather the compound that houses one extremely significant branch of his Library… as well as his personal Chapter of tending Scholars and Librarians: The Book Wardens.

These are the first draft of the new Book Wardens. I expect the colors to change significantly, and I still have a decent amount of experimenting before I settle, but it is a start.

I should add that their brethren (those of the red and grayish variety) were destroyed some years ago in a catastrophic attack on their wing of another scholastic repository (knowledge begets heresy, yadda, yadda). Alas. Their names have been certainly and diligently recorded in some tome that only Dewey Decimal remembers.

The Book Wardens. The aforementioned mental gesture helped me gather a whole mound of impetus from which I was able to dive fully back into the Inquisition (which was never going to be too difficult in the first place). It is a rare notion, really, to have nearly 100 square feet of table from which to think about an army generally and about 20 of which represents the foyer of their compound. Certainly, I saved myself the need to paint the shining silver and red and black that is the hallmark of the GK, and I also frees myself to think more fully about what this Chapter of Librarians might look like in a tangible manner. Surely, for starters, their coloring would reflect the palette of the table itself: dark hues, perhaps black, and grimy metallics, ruddy yellowish greens where possible, and soft whites when necessary.

So, I dug out these old chaps, popped them off their bases, and pressed them into “test model” service for a fresh chance at tabletop glory (the results of which pepper this post at about 80% completion).  I had forgotten how challenging these models can be to paint… well. I was never pleased with the treatment they received initially, but now I remember the feeling of “oh, another purity sea; where on earth did that come from?” which exceeded my ability and patience the first time round.

Here’s to the next bash at it (so far, I will say that I adore the new plastic Terminators but only really like the gks. That Guy James, however, has produced a superlative series on the convertability of these kits, and I fully intend to take his suggestions on the matter). Unfortunately, I still have no idea how to approach those force weapons.

To round out the something-old-something-new dynamic at work here, I also dug out these extremely interesting bases; moreover, I was really quite pleased to find that, inadvertently, I had already proscribed the colors for those bases within the schemes of the AdeptiCon tables. Tremendous. I love it when a plan that I didn’t even know I had comes together.

It should always be that easy.

There will be a lot more on these fellows to come. In the mean time, long live the Book Wardens…. Hmm. I may have to refine that named. Libris Wardens? I don’t know yet.

Friday, April 22, 2011

On the Table p.2: not necessarily GKs

… and of course by “Monday,” I meant Friday.

There is quite a lot I could say about the Grey Knights, but you will likely have heard it all by now. As I rigorously detailed in January and February, the Inquisition and Grey Knights to boot have been incredibly compelling from my point of view since I properly dumped myself into this hobby; therefore, I was always going to be a card carrying member with a front row ticket for this particular bandwagon. I might even pull that wagon if properly yoked.

But here is the catch. I have no interest in painting the straight-and-narrow GK, blue wash and righteous zealotry. I tried that years ago and quickly found myself drifting to all that gold you witnessed back in this extensive sequence of posts. I will not be doing that again either.

So. I needed a new way in to the Grey Knight canon and almost immediately found two: one appropriately old, and one compellingly new.

I will talk about the first one today and the second on Sunday for part 2 1/2.

The first notion came to me when thinking about the prevalence of Terminators in this new codex and the fact that every single Grey Knight is, fundamentally, a librarian. I do not really know why this tickles me, but I suspect it is in some small portion due to my own modest role in the Academia.

Nevermind. Remember the Book Wardens? No? Check here for their story in reverse order.

In short: they took their first impetus from an introductory passage to a Ben Counter book that I can no longer remember. In that opening chapter, a focused and lonely servitor is unceremoniously deleted as a collateral casualty by an Assassin charged with “editing” of a particular wing of a particular library. The story then fades to my memory, but that first image has not.  Years ago, I tried (and failed) to represent a Chapter of SM that fulfilled a similar literary function. They were fun for a very brief period, but floundered almost as quickly.

So, I thought about reviving this monastic and literary Chapter of Librarians who administrate and tend to the excruciatingly expansive and wickedly private collection of a Senior Inquisitor (to be imagined named, and generally cobbled together at a later date). So far so good. The image was beginning to resolve itself quite nicely. 

Of course the rigors of literary research and other scholarly pursuits would require at least one Purgation squad armed entirely with Incinerators. 'be rude not to really.
But why this force and why a library? (dunno –excepting that Libraries need Librarians, or is it the other way round?). And what would they look like if not that same old same old. As mentioned, I have no real interest in the blue-silver, a significantly less interest in the color scheme of the above derivative Blood Angel apes. So I went back to the drawing board of inspiration.

See you next time when these old metals are stripped and repainted for a test run at the new Book Wardens.

For those keeping score at home, I will include this postscript in order to bore to explain briefly the two missed posts this week. With work, two boys under two, a lovely wife, some more work, and AdeptiCon soaking up every spare minute of the day, something was bound to give. As it turns out, that something was the sump. so. very. disgusting. We have had some significant water troubles in the past, but this is an entirely new category. With respect to our fine hobby, it was a modest delay to my return to 30mm painting.With respect to the household, we are drying out nicely with fingers crossed.

Priorities. One must have priorities.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

On the Table p.1: Orks

As I ease my way back to 30mm painting, I would like to take stock of where I stood when I left off –which was somewhere in January before the arrival of baby-number-two and before the run-up to AdpetiCon table madness.  That feels like a very, very long time ago indeed, and I am really quite excited to bring my attention back to the loitering and patient projects on my workspace. There are many. As we move forward by returning back to that space, I hope to clarify the exact nature of those projects, and what I have left to “finish” each.

So back in January, I was in the throes of an Ork-tastic expansion, as my modest assortment of AoBR Orks transformed into two, then three, distinct Warbands for Killzone… and then congealed once more into a fledgling proper 40K army.

If you were wondering, by the by, Dr. Dakkasteef and Gutgrope Grotshank got off to a promising start against Joe and Chris a few weeks back, but a T5 Plague Marine, a Chaos Terminator with violence on his mind, and Joe’s exceedingly accurate Deathwatch brought my ambitious but oft-losing Orks to their knees. Next time!

As Frozen Joe will testify, I am still learning this army. With me, it is always a process –a slow process. Joe was kind enough on more than one occasion to help me with the mechanics of my own codex when we played at AdpetiCon. Moreover, Joe has bravely volunteered to help me dip my toes in an entirely new (to me) game system… but more on that later this week. Joe is brave. And patient. Cheers, sir.

Well. Here is where I stood/stand with the Ork expansion. I have completed (pictured throughout this post):

1 Warboss
10 Nobz
1 Mega Nob (with another blister waiting, but better get that metal while it is hot)
10 Boyz (two big shootas) and a PK Nob
1 Burna Boy (with 4 more nearly finished)
3 Koptas
3 Killa Kans
1 very old Trukk
an assortment of Grots or Gretchin or what-have-you with two Gunz (?) and a gaggle of Squigs

All in all, I suspect that I am somewhere in the 1000-12500pts range, although I have not yet done the proper sums on this one. There is always time for that once I have finished painting as I will and want. 

This leaves a New Trukk (primed but not touched otherwise), between 10-15 more Nobz of various composure, and a very important Deff Dred challenge from Fester all of which still require my attention. I have not forgotten about that inspiring challenge, good Fester, and intend to get back on it forthwith (a rare opportunity for an even rarer word).

Naturally, said attention will not be of the undivided variety; see you Monday for "On the Table p.2" and the next pressing but patient project on the bench.  

If you have been on the internet this last month or two, you will not be surprised by this one. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

AdeptiCon: fin

This post will be the last for some time with regard to these fine tables, and marks a return to the more manageable scale of our fair hobby. Between you, me, and the fencepost, I am looking to painting 30mm at a time once again for a stretch. So what next, and what of those tables?

In reverse order.

Karitas (who, by the way, has just begun his own already stunning bit of tabletop glory.  go check it out) and others asked before the weekend of AdeptiCon what I intended to do with 24 feet of sequential table after the event. The simple answer is that I did not have the foggiest notion whatsoever. Well. Maybe the foggiest of fogs, but really I just needed to build the things first. The rest, I hoped, would sort itself...

Pure folly. I know.  

How is this for blind luck? While the suburban hobby world flourishes, those of us inside the Chicago city limits are often hard-pressed to find a strong, viable FLGS. Most of the ones I once frequented over the years have either perished ignobly or become prohibitively far after the additions of babies 1-2. Indeed, before the arrival of my beautiful little zillas, I would often travel 50+ minutes to various stores that included some tremendous gaming folk (in fact, the crack team of hobbyists that ran the events this weekend were pulled directly from these individuals –Joe and Chris in particular).

Anyway, an hour without traffic (and there is always traffic) is a long way to travel for a game in a city that should be able to support more for the humble hobby enthusiast.

As it turns out, a (previously card-centric) games store nearby has made a bold move toward miniature hobbies, specifically including 40K and so on. By pure happenstance, I was playing an informal game with Chris and Joe on the Saturday when I met Andy, one of the fellows responsible for that same store. It's a small hobby world sometimes.

By Sunday Andy and I struck a deal. Tables 1-3   now live at Galactic Force Games 1121 W. Belmont, Chicago… less than a mile from my house. Brilliant! If you are in the area, stop by Galactic Force Games for a romp across these bad boys. They are perfectly suited for Killzone, obviously, but account themselves perfectly in a more standard game of 40K. Enjoy. I certainly will be from time to time. (if you are wondering, tables 1 and 2 are pictured above, while numbers 2 and 3 occupy the left and center of the image below).

Now. What is next? Two things.

1. Heroes of Armageddon, naturally.

Because I enjoyed the process so much the first time, I will be making four brand new tables for Games Day. These splendid tables will entertain four unique and beautiful 3000pt armies. I can barely contain myself with enthusiasm and ideas on this one. Right now, I am only in the sketching stage, but will need to work closely with those responsible for building these armies in order to pull this monster together properly. You will be updated as that happens. In sum, I intend to raise the bar by several steps for the demands of this noble project. If you liked the Killzone tables, you are going to adore these. If you adored the Killzone tables, then... well, it will probably be intense. More will trickle in soon, but expect quite a lot on this in the run-up to Games Day (ie: July will most likely be another “table wip month”).

2. Killzone at AdeptiCon: The Sequel

That is correct. Special Operations: Killzone is less than one year old, and we fully intend to gather what we learned at this first outing and improve the dynamic significantly. Moreover, we will be taking the zone back to the main floor at AdeptiCon next year for a proper romp.

That means even more new tables (I may have found a niche if not exactly a vocation). And again, I am already in the sketching stages on this one as well with this basic idea: from Hulk to planetside. The Special Operations Groups battle both on a landing field and a transporter room planetside as well as a cargo bay and transporter room (and the obligatory corridors, etc) upon a Hulk in orbit. I have to thank Ty from Milwaukee for inspiration on this one. In all, these tables should have a significantly more claustrophobic feel than the predecessors and, once again, raise the standard considerably from the ones you have come to know thus far. 

So. Many. Ideas.

See you in a couple of days for a return to 30mm. Finally.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

b. smoove no longer

Hi. My name is Brian. 

That's me. I have decided to make a fundamental change to my blogging persona by retiring the sporting but quirky name b. smoove, mostly on account of the rather bizarre mixture between that persona and real life the other weekend at AdeptiCon. To put it plainly, I simply cannot introduce myself to anyone (at least not with a straight face) as B. Smoove. I just feel really silly. That's because it is really silly. 

About four years ago, I lifted that name from the Onion (America's Finest News Source) when I needed a pseudonym on the fly (no pun intended) in order to comment on a blog that I had been reading lurking around for a while (cough BoLS cough). It seemed the thing to do, so I chose/borrowed/stole that particular name because I have enjoyed the Onion since way back when it was still in Madison WI, and because I have only ever really had the nickname B in the greater much more real world. Nevertheless, b.smoove has not always nor genuinely fit well to my mind, and more than a few people never really grasped the slangy "smooth" in the name, but nevermind. He's gone now.

AdeptiCon weekend was illuminating for a litany of reasons, but mostly because I met so many people that I already "knew" from the internet. Moreover, I was often at a loss reciprocating when I encountered personalities from the webs unless that individual politely referenced his other moniker. Brent is kind enough both to use his real name and to post images of himself, so there was no hassle on that end. I knew Papa JJ from last year's AdeptiCon, and I was able to guess that Gabe is, in fact, DrGabe, but after that I needed a lot of help greeting people that I semi-regularly correspond with and otherwise should already know. It got a little weird after a while.

So. Hi. My name is Brian. The pleasure is all mine.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

AdeptiCon: Thank you

The photos from today’s post were taken on Saturday, when there was no official Killzone activity on the schedule. Because there is simply no such thing as “too much,” Chris, Joe, and I seized the opportunity not only to revel in the unparalleled glory of AdeptiCon but also to squeeze a game of Killzone ourselves. We played on the first table (the exterior table inspired by Sir Sidney Roundwood’s trenches). And so, both Dr. Dakkasteef and Gutgrope G. appeared on the horizon pitted against an unlikely coalition of Joe’s beautiful Deathwatch and Chris’s malevolent Chaos warband. Enjoy these photos while I talk about something else for a moment.

With the mention of Chris and Joe (half-pictured to the left), I come to the real matter of this post. There are a number of people that deserve much more accolade than they have received to date, and I intend to correct that immediately.  

Tall Paul, obviously, deserves an incredible dollop of gratitude not only on account of his willingness to embrace a hobby that is not his own, but also because his stunning carpentry skills made the tables possible. Full stop.

Matt W deserves significant thanks for the work he did/does before, during, and after AdeptiCon. He breathes this stuff. It is amazing. Last year was my first outing at AdpetiCon, and I will admit that I was a bit of a lurker –I only attended two mind-blowing seminars then skulked about the rest of my time at the event. Still, I enjoyed myself tremendously and vowed that the next year I would be more involved. I had no idea how much so. Thank you Matt for bringing me into the fold.

Thank you Big Jim for creating Killzone. There were at least 20 encounters during which someone asked me if Big Jim was in attendance. I regretted to say that he was not, but genuinely felt that he could have been there, just out of sight. His presence on the weekend was writ between the lines of every rule and every bit of Killzone (mis)adventure. It is his world, and we were merely borrowing it for the weekend. Next year, big guy. Next year.

And then there is That Guy James. I have neither mentioned nor thanked James enough for his absolutely, jaw-dropping contributions to KZ generally, and to these tables specifically. Several months ago, when I sent out my plea for design assistance, James enthusiastically offered his services. I was hoping to find some help creating solid imagery for the KZ cards, which James nonchalantly kicked through the uprights as if he had them already prepared and waiting. I do not really need to say that the cards are stunning, as at least 300 of you already know this from the downloads on Jim’s site. You likely do not know, however, that James also created a much more subtle, but nevertheless exquisite, contribution in what we have come to know as the “alacrity wallpaper” (thank you Karitas for that name).

All of the tiny, evocative details on the AdeptiCon tables were designed by James (in the photo above you can only see the chevrons on the pipeline and the "SECTOR VII" sign on the wall in the back right but there are loads more on every table). Within a week of my asking, James sent me a file  again seemingly prepared before I knew that I needed it -five pages filled with all manner and ilk of banner, control panel, leaflet, video monitor screen, you name it. Moreover, they were accomplished with a real sense of the gritty 41st millennium as well as a cheeky sense of humor. The panels, for example, had small messages included on the screen some rather benign, some as follows: “please do not discharge weapons near this panel. Thank you for your compliance” or “abnormal system status… cannot compute… die human.” These are small details, to be sure, and I will hazard that 90% of the gamers never saw them. The brilliance in this gesture, however, is that the details on the tables continued to reward the gamer that wanted to look closer.  Just brilliant.  The tables could not have looked so compelling without his work. You can spot two more subtle examples in these following photographs:

 A small detail, you may say. I believe that a game like this is really won or lost not on mission points, but on hundreds of these small details. If you look back across all the KZ photos from the weekend, you will find James’ fingerprints everywhere. Glorious.

Finally, I must thank Chris, Joe, and Ernie –the group of talented, knowledgeable, and exceedingly calm individuals that quietly sorted every inch of the work beyond my ability. The three of these fine fellows came over on the Sunday before AdeptiCon and helped finish the painting on tables one through four. Then, Joe appeared on Thursday night to help lug the tables into the venue (no easy feat). Here I must also add that Joe, in particular, deserves special thanks for sticking it out through every single minute of each event. I would have been utterly lost without his personable skill with these kinds of events. I should also mention that Joe's Deathwatch (who were ringing in the hands of Skarvald on Sunday) nearly won best painted against some incredibly stiff competition. Well done, sir.

In sum, I feel quite strongly that this meager post is little by way of the appreciation I owe you, but please accept my gratitude such as I am able to offer here. Thank you one and all. I am looking forward to doing this all again next year. wait. what?

Friday, April 8, 2011

AdeptiCon: The Killzone

Because of the space between the time when I had submitted the missions for printing, and the time I finished the tables, there was a woeful lack of playtesting for the first two tables. This showed almost immediately and repeatedly in all three events; unfortunately, by the time I had realized the problem, it was simply too late to change a word. So it goes, and lamentably Missions One and Two were at best extremely challenging, at worst impossible, for one faction on the table. That was unfortunate for those that cared about such things. Thankfully, few let a bit of imbalance get in the path of a roaring good time.

Now, let me first note that Killzone is a game dynamic completely apart from manner in which 40K was designed. As such, it would also be fair to say that the game dynamic requires a particular and specific disposition, and I will admit freely, even eagerly, that I was depending upon that disposition from the players on the day. It is a lot to ask. I know.

Almost without exception, you –the gamers- came up trumps. Take, for example, Papa JJ of diceRolla fame who, when confronted with a marginal loss on account of the aforementioned imbalance, was immediately able to see the narrative fun in the scene and could imagine his opposition (DH stormtroopers and an Assassin) expending the grist of its force in order to escort an Assassin into the Mission parameters. That’s the stuff! Who cares about the Mission Points? The narrative and cinematic spectacle triumphed on the day. It is hardly a wonder that he won “player’s choice” as an opponent on Sunday.

Or consider Chris Borer (yes, the very same) who when given the opportunity to exploit the Scout rule to tip the scales quite dramatically in his favor, opted to play to the opponent's Secondary Mission instead -a decision that probably cost him "victory" but wonderfully improved the game for all concerned. That's the stuff again. The table worked. The Mission worked in its goal to invoke an impassioned narrative from the players. The weekend was rife with similar examples of sport brilliant and earnest play.

Of course, there were two, perhaps three, unfortunate souls over the course of the horde of games across the entire weekend that mistakenly thought this event was, in fact, a tournament event and tried to use an outdated codex exploitatively in an already and deliberately compromised game system. Sure. These rare individuals won a broken game or two; however, I feel quite strongly that they ultimately succeeded in little more than making rather large prats of themselves. No more. Certainly no less.

For the 65+ other gamers that enjoyed the events on the weekend, all proceeded swimmingly.

…which I believe is a tremendous testament to the hobbyist-gamer who I am pleased to report is both alive and well within (or perhaps adjacent to) the otherwise demanding tournament scene. The forces that the gamers brought on the day were invariably interesting, dramatic, fluffy, odd, compelling, and inexcusably quirky. I must also say, beautiful. Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

As I have said before elsewhere, Matt from AdpetiCon was quite keen from the very outset that Killzone should be a fun, frivolous counterpart to the competitive atmosphere surrounding it. Moreover, sandwiched between the Crystal Brush (so intense!) on one side and 400+ raving competitive madmen on the other, I believe quite sincerely that Killzone accomplished that task with good manners and dignity. Though I would love to take credit for this fact, I cannot. The gamers on the day, however, can and must.

Thank you, fellas, for breathing the life into this crazy Killzone gambit.